A panorama of the best and brightest films that drew our attention on the world stage – and demanded a captive audience back home – during our intense engagement with international cinema on the festival circuit this past year.
The near and present danger of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon is the nerve-wracking backdrop to this expertly directed coming-of-age tale, centred on one boy’s all-consuming crush amidst the encroachment of war.
Dramatising the turbulence and ambiguity of custody battles with emotional precision and complexity, Charter focuses on a mother’s impulsive decision to abscond with her estranged children to a holiday resort, and the consequences of her actions.
Racial and psychological tensions, claustrophobically observed in both the workplace and at home, come to a head in Visar Morina’s masterfully directed thriller about one man’s identity crisis as a foreigner in Germany.
La Odisea de los Giles
After being scammed into bankruptcy, a community of working-class Argentines band together to devise the ultimate payback – an elaborate money heist inspired by the movies – in Sebastián Borensztein’s winning underdog comedy.
Ginevra Elkann’s lovely directorial debut, set in the early 90s and based on her own childhood, finds three siblings arriving in Rome from Paris on a visit to their unreliable father, where family tensions and spontaneous fun mix.
Metri Shesh-o Nim
A box office behemoth in its homeland and a daring breakthrough for its 30-year-old director Saeed Roustayi, this visceral policer tackles the maelstrom of Iran’s war on drugs through propulsive action and real political bite.
Intrigued by cruise ships and the people who frequent them, Sophie Dros’ fascinating documentary focuses on an extravagant Scottish Baron whose love of luxury liners masks a very human need for affection and validation.
In this fresh cinephilic appreciation, French film critic Michel Ciment’s taped interviews with Stanley Kubrick breathe new life into the legacy of one of the most celebrated and studied directors of all time.
Corinna Harfouch is unforgettable as a mother reaching out, in her own severe way, to her classical pianist son and her own erstwhile artistic ambitions, in director Jan-Ole Gerster’s high-tensile drama.
An ancient doomsday prophecy haunts Australian lawyer Richard Chamberlain while freakish weather plagues Sydney in Peter Weir’s newly remastered murder mystery-turned-apocalyptic chiller from 1977.
This surprisingly touching romantic odyssey documents charismatic Jola, a stylish sexagenarian embracing newly won love and liberation after an abusive, decades-long marriage.
By turns comedic and Kafkaesque, this fly-on-the-wall doco observes the fortunes of Ramallah, an epicentre of Palestinian commerce and culture, and its tireless mayor, whose work to better the city is met with danger and frustration.
Defying family expectations and maternal norms, 63-year-old hairdresser Lou travels to start a new life abroad, settling on the Spanish port city of Cádiz, where adventures in language and friendship await.
A heavyweight drama elevated by two outstanding performers, Lars Eidinger (The Clouds of Sils Maria) joins Nina Hoss (celebrated star of Barbara and Phoenix) as inseparable twins fighting serious illness with their undying passion for the theatre.
Gymnastics, an unknown half-brother and a streak of petty crime set in motion a teenage girl’s coming-of-age in suburban Brighton in Eva Riley’s sensitive, spirited first feature film.
In this fiery conversation starter, tough ethical quandaries agitate the sophisticated New York lives of three friends, whose best intentions behind a surrogate pregnancy are complicated when nature intrudes.
Tabi no Owari Sekai no Hajimari
Personal, cultural and imagined fears are brought to the scenic surface of Kurosawa Kiyoshi’s superb new film, about a young woman navigating the customs and language of a foreign country while on assignment there as the host of a TV show.
Lala Rolls’ fascinating quest to examine what happens to a Tahitian high priest and navigator when he travels across the pacific – and further on towards England as a translator and guest (or is it as a living trophy?) – aboard Captain James Cook’s HMS Endeavour.
A bumbling thief plots to infiltrate a mausoleum built inexplicably on top of his buried loot in Alaa Eddine Aljem’s delightful, deadpan tale of spirituality and greed in rural Morocco.
Aasta täis draamat
Nourishing and unexpectedly moving, director Marta Pulk’s documentary takes us to theatre-mad Estonia, where a young, inexperienced woman wins a job to watch and critique every theatre production in a calendar year.
In Kosovo, the pressure on a mother to conceive, from both her conservative family and superstitious village community, builds with intensity in this nightmarish, emotionally charged drama tackling themes of war, trauma and oppressive gender roles.