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.
Christos Nikou’s quietly accomplished first feature finds deadpan comedy in a programme designed to forge new identities for the victims of an unexplained amnesia epidemic.
A retired boxer will stop at nothing in the pursuit of her missing sister, launching herself into the belly of the beast to find and punish those responsible for her disappearance.
Hytti nro 6
Two strangers connect in the intimate confines of a train compartment in Juho Kuosmanen’s arresting sophomore feature.
Andrey Konchalovsky’s tense political drama, a Venice prize-winner beautifully shot and rich with historical detail, tells the story of an infamous 1962 Soviet massacre and its attempted cover-up.
Doraibu mai kā
Adapted from the short story by Haruki Murakami, Japanese filmmaker Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s profoundly moving, poetic vision of grief and the deep mysteries of the human spirit is the Cannes 2021 winner for Best Screenplay.
From Spanish creator Amalia Ulman, the darkly comedic El Planeta explores the relationship between a mother and daughter pair on the edge of financial ruin.
Operatives from both sides of the Korean divide, working diplomatic jobs in Somalia, must come together to survive as Mogadishu descends into civil war in a political thriller from writer/director Ryoo Seung-wan.
Set against the vibrant backdrop of urban Shiraz, an affable but desperate prisoner is almost undone by a ‘selfless’ gesture that goes viral.
An indomitable Kosovar woman defies entrenched patriarchal societal norms to ensure her family’s welfare in this subdued but spirited debut feature, inspired by a true story that scooped three top awards at Sundance 2021.
Powerful performances and surgical craft anchor Robert Machoian’s slow-burning thriller, acutely observing the collapse of a family and the breakdown of its patriarch with mounting dread and carefully ratcheted suspense.
Two strangers explore the pleasures and pitfalls of platonic friendship while bonding over online Spanish lessons in this intimate, expressive drama shot during lockdown over video-chat calls.
Melancholic, atmospheric and heartfelt, Ben Sharrock’s feature exploring immigrants awaiting asylum eschews conventional approaches to stories of the modern refugee crisis to create something profound and surprising.
A pregnant teen and her mother look to the women of their community for help in Cannes-selected abortion drama Lingui, the Sacred Bonds, set amidst the natural beauty and religious strictures of Chad.
Fran Kranz’s highly accomplished debut feature takes an unflinching look at the endemic horror of school shootings in America and their lingering scars, through the eyes of the parents of the perpetrator and his victim.
Socialist pioneer Eleanor Marx is fully brought to life – with all her complexities and contradictions – in this stylised, lavish biopic featuring a deeply affecting performance by Romola Garai.
Based on the 2014 memoir, My Salinger Year is The Devil Wears Prada for the literary world, a young woman’s coming of age as she balances her writing ambitions with her new job at a major New York City literary agency.
Śniegu już nigdy nie będzie
A mysterious, unclassifiable semi-satire of its disconnected upper-classes, Poland’s selection for this year’s Oscar race follows an angelic masseuse trying to draw meaning out of his patients’ lives.
Mexico City is in the throes of revolt. Hospitals are overrun and streets are unsafe. But for one wealthy family, their only concern is that the wedding of their daughter must go ahead. And so the festivities continue — at least until the resistance arrives at their doorstep...
La nuit des rois
If a young man cannot command an inmate-run prison with his storytelling, his first night behind bars promises to be his last in this lush, striking and unexpected tale that blends magical realism with current affairs.
The first Australian film featured in Cannes’ Official Selection in a decade, Justin Kurzel’s disturbing dive into the tormented mind and soul of a mass-shooter is bolstered by four remarkable lead performances.
Gianfranco Rosi’s visually stunning portrait of ordinary people living in the warzones of the Middle East is the kind of sensory experience that demands the immersion of a darkened movie theatre.
This pressure-cooker Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Film puts viewers on the frontlines of an impending massacre in the Bosnian genocide – with harrowing power.
Recently widowed and grieving, army officer Markus (Mads Mikkelsen) proves vengeance is a dish best served bold in this dark — and comic — take on the revenge thriller from Oscar-winning Dane, Anders Thomas Jensen.
La boda de Rosa
A tonic for the nerves, Rosa’s Wedding is an uplifting and spirited ode to loving thyself, drenched in the dreamy seaside sunshine of the Costa del Azahar.
Dizzying and captivating, Emma Seligman’s feature-length debut stars Rachel Sennott as a young woman who cannot escape her sugar daddy, her ex-girlfriend or her own lies at a family wake.
Ai no utagoe o kikasete
Schoolyard romance, musical numbers and lifelike robotics collide in this animated glimpse at what teenage life might look like in a world increasingly run by artificial intelligence.
Get close to the stray dogs of Turkey as Elizabeth Lo’s camera becomes a canine companion, guiding us through a cross-section of Istanbul society as lived by our four-legged friends.
Tehran’s byways teem with life in this Iranian crime-caper that blends gritty, Buñuelesque social realism, strong character drama, and spirited storybook style adventure.
This portrait of a woman on the verge follows fitness influencer Sylwia Zając, a social media celebrity with 600,000 followers, whose glossy, energetic brand begins to crack as she grows more and more isolated by her fame.
Sheytan vojud nadarad
Mohammad Rasoulof fuses the gripping dramatic style of compatriot Asghar Farhadi with the contemplative aesthetic of Turkish master Nuri Bilge Ceylan in this incisive internal critique of Iran’s punitive processes.
A love letter to a rapidly vanishing world: this gentle documentary follows a handful of elderly men who, with their beloved dogs, comb the forests of Northern Italy on the hunt for a rare culinary delicacy.
Guzen to sozo
A gentle exploration of the complexities of the human heart, Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is a balm for the soul.