So, spoilt for choice? Don’t know where to begin? Too many films to choose from? Sick of unnecessary repetitions?
Check out our initial list of films we feel are worth checking out for #DIFF2014
(Click the Movie Titles for the IMDB page)
Dynamite expert Allan Karlsson’s life, and the unlikely events following his escape from the old folk’s home on his 100th birthday.Based on the internationally best-selling novel by Jonas Jonasson, the unlikely story of a 100-year-old man who decides it’s not too late to start over. For most people it would be the adventure of a lifetime, but Allan Karlsson’s unexpected journey is not his first. For a century he’s made the world uncertain, and now he is on the loose again.
After a plane crash, Saï, a capuchin monkey born and raised in captivity, finds himself alone and lost in the wilderness of the Amazon jungle.
Nazif barely makes ends meet as an iron picker to support his family. He searches daily for scrap metal while his partner Senada tends to their home and their two young daughters…
‘Beti and Amare’ is a historical science-fiction film set in 1936 Ethiopia. Beti, a young Ethiopian girl has escaped Mussolini’s troops and found refuge in the peaceful south of Ethiopia. As the Italians march ever closer Beti has to battle hunger, thirst, and the unwelcome sexual advances of the local militia. When the situation threatens to escalate towards the unthinkable, a spaceship cracks through the clouds… its cargo… love. This micro-budget gem is filled with many powerful moments made up of stunning, intense and thought provoking imagery, a unique but professional score and sound-design, and masterful acting.
An ex cop and his ex partner decide to follow up on investigation of a series of murders that ended their careers and shamed them, when identical murders begin again.
Having recently lost her sight, Ingrid retreats to the safety of her home – a place where she can feel in control, alone with her husband and her thoughts. But Ingrid’s real problems lie within, not beyond the walls of her apartment, and her deepest fears and repressed fantasies soon take over.
Blurring the lines between documentary and fiction, Bloody Beans alludes to the Algerian War of Independence refracted into shadow through the eyes of the innocent. On a brilliantly-lit beach, backdropped by war, a group of children, tired of their staple meal of red beans, decide to conduct a raid on the French barracks in pursuit of exotic food. With atmospheric use of light and shade and a liltingly ominous soundtrack, this compelling film combines playfulness with the machinations of war to create a world that is both make-believe and urgently real, filtered through the dreaming, dream-like possibilities of childhood.
Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before.
For beat-cop, SIZWE MIA, a Triad homicide is an opportunity to make detective. His investigation quickly uncovers an elaborate scheme involving his criminal ex-comrade SPECIALIST, his boss VENSKE, and a mysterious Chinese shipping executive, SOONG MEI. He gets his promotion but the police are corrupt and self-interest has overtaken personal loyalty. Sizwe is left with no-one to trust, and integrity demands that he betray his comrade and take the law into his own hands
Eden is an intimately rendered film about coming home, in the broadest sense. Nine-year-old Alma is forced to leave Mexico with her artefact-smuggling father, John. Years later, after her father’s death, she returns to Mexico to confront the man responsible for their emigration. But she finds more than she was looking for, in the form of a new cultural identity and old secrets that are revealed. This sensitively depicted, personal exploration of the ties-that-bind – to family or country – is a film about our search for roots and a sense of belonging and the love and loss that accompanies this search.
This gripping post-apocalyptic film tells the story of a band of teens and young children desperately trying to stay alive in the British countryside after London gets hit by a nuclear explosion. Directed by Kevin Macdonald (Touching the Void, The Last King of Scotland), How I Live Now is told from the perspective of the teenage Daisy, who has recently arrived from New York to spend the summer with her cousins. At first Daisy is icy and recalcitrant but when she connects with Eddie she starts to soften. Just as their relationship begins to intensify, the bombs falls and an occupying military force seizes power.
Jonny, a deadbeat groomer, follows a young woman through the streets of Amsterdam to find out if she is the girl he accidentally killed in a recurring dream, a hallucination or, worse.
After being imprisoned for the killing of ethnic Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide, Manzi must face the emotional and psychological consequences of his most personal crime: the murder of his best friend’s family.
Nils snow ploughs the wild winter mountains of Norway, and is recently awarded Citizen of the Year. When his son is murdered for something he did not do, Nils wants revenge. And justice.
Across the city of Cape Town, a sex-line operator, a dog handler and a computer technician begin to suspect that their romantic relationships are the subject of a bizarre conspiracy, involving their family, friends, and possibly even greater forces. ‘Love the One You Love’s parallel stories question the ideals we hold too sacred: love, happiness, and the New South Africa; the pursuit of which makes truth impossible.
In a near future Vietnam where global warming and rising seawater levels have forced cultivation to be done on floating farms, a strong-willed woman has to make a critical decision about her ex-lover, a suspect of her husband’s murder.
Nymphomaniac, from controversial filmmaker Lars von Trier, is a much anticipated and ambitiously explicit two-part sexual epic, as related by its central protagonist and selfdiagnosed nymphomaniac, Joe. Having generated the expected debate over its graphic content, the film is more surprising and thought-provoking in its moments of humour and the complex sexuality and subjectivity afforded the female lead. Despite the many genitals on display, it is not the mechanics of the act that von Trier mines for meaning, but rather our fascination with it. Nymphomaniac is an intense meditation on the human animal: that conflicted constitution of both flesh and fiction.
A depressed musician reunites with his lover, though their romance – which has already endured several centuries – is disrupted by the arrival of uncontrollable younger sister.
Shankaran, the university-educated son of a Dalit activist, is apathetic in the face of displacement and oppression. But when he recieves brutal treatment by police and becomes disillusioned with well-meaning foreign NGOs, his attitude changes. Together with Manjusree, a female auto-rickshaw driver negotiating a male world, he embraces the radicalisation of the community, which turns to Buddhism as a new form of cultural and religious identity. Named for a species of butterfly indigenous to the Western Ghats of Kerala, this richly political and provocative film addresses the fragile existence of people sidelined by caste or gender, as well as attitudes towards land and the environment.
Following the success of his 2008 film, the highly-acclaimed Waltz with Bashir, Israeli animator Ari Folman is as inventive as ever in his latest offering The Congress. Playfully interweaving live action with psychedelic animation, as well as real life with the fictions offered us by the movies, the film tells the tale of Robin Wright – played by Robin Wright – a Hollywood actress who is approaching middle age and her leading-lady sell-by-date. When she is offered a lucrative deal to scan, preserve and sell the rights to her image, she finds herself in the strange circumstance of being both immortal and consigned to obscurity.
Writer-director Sergio Caballero follows up the success of his first film Finisterrae with the singularly bizarre yet bizarrely engaging heist film The Distance, set in the spectacularly bleak landscape of Siberia where an Austrian conceptual artist, imprisoned by his oligarch patron in an industrial power-plant, hires three telepathic dwarves to steal an object known only as ‘The Distance’ from the plant’s turbine room. A surreally cultish prank of a film with a surprising punchline, it plays fast and loose with plot but cements its eclectic mix together through strong and technically precise filmmaking.
This fiction feature debut from Italian documentary director Bruno Oliviero tells the story of a weary-eyed Milanese police inspector and his gun-toting teenage daughter. Immersed in the coldly perverse nocturnal underbelly of Milan, The Human Factor is a spare and icy thriller knitted together with suppressed emotions and the remarkable presence of Raffaelli in an impressive feature film debut as a neglected young woman yearning for paternal affection. Oliviero’s stark, observational take on Italy’s city of commerce offers a critique of a metropolis in which the city’s connections repel rather than encourage intimacy between people.
Set in the lush mountain countryside of Laos, The Rocket comes from filmmaker Kim Mordaunt – whose 2007 documentary Bomb Harvest focused on children maimed and killed collecting scrap metal from the unexploded bombs of the Vietnam War. In his latest film, he tells the story of 10-year-old Ahlo, born under the auspices of bad luck and looking to redeem his fate by entering a rocket-building festival. This vivid and lively film mixes tradition with modernity and imagines a way in which Ahlo might turn his curse into a cure. Beginning in tragedy, the film lifts its view skyward in order to quite literally make light out of the wreckage of war.
Australian filmmaker, David Michôd, who was responsible for the 2010 DIFF hit Animal Kingdom, returns with this film set in the Australian desert in a dangerous and damaged near-future. Eric has left everything, everyone and every semblance of human kindness behind him. When his last possession is stolen by a gang of dangerous criminals, he sets off on a ruthless mission to track them down, forced along the way to enlist the help of Rey, the naïve and injured junior member of the gang, who was left behind in the bloody chaos of the gang’s most recent robbery.
White Shadow is a nightmarish vision of the inhumane ends men will go to in the name of greed and superstition. Set in Tanzania, the film tells the story of a young albino boy named Alias who is targeted for body parts by the muti trade. After his father’s brutal murder, Alias is sent to the city for protection but soon finds himself once again in danger. Exploiting various effects from documentary realism to a colour-saturated surrealism, this fractured narrative is infused with a pervasive sense of dread. A viscerally disturbing film that is important to watch but difficult to see.
Wish I was here
While his 2004 hit debut Garden State explored the anxieties of millennial twentysomethings, Zach Braff’s latest film Wish I Was Here feels something like a sequel, focussing on the mid-thirties crisis of out-of-work actor Aiden (Braff) as he tries to balance a meaningful life with a responsible one. With its adult themes given a quirky edge through the recurring use of fantasy-action-hero interludes, Wish I Was Here deals with the nagging existentialism that manifests in questions of mortality, religion, family, responsibility and the pursuit or relinquishment of dreams.
Set in the future when water is hard to find a teenage boy sets out to protect his family and survive.
The policemen, Ali Sokhela and Brian Epkeen, investigate a massacre during apartheid in South Africa, which apparently took place because a new illegal substance became available.