First Position (US; directed by Bess Kargman)
White (South Korea; directed by Kim Sun and Kim Gok)
The Green Wave (Iran; directed by Ali Samadi Ahadi)
You can’t talk about this year’s Arab Spring uprisings without referencing social media. This was arguably the first time in history that social media surpassed mainstream media in reporting unfiltered, hard-hitting, play-by-play accounts of the systematic abuses and crimes that accompanied political revolution. Inspired in no small part by Waltz with Bashir and Persepolis, Ahadi’s Iranian-German collaboration recounts the true stories of people who witnessed the Arab Spring first-hand by blending live-action documentary footage with stylized animated accounts of what happened. The film’s titular colour refers to the movement and symbol for those seeking Ahmadinejad’s removal from office after what was regarded as his fraudulent election as president in 2009.
No One Killed Jessica (India; directed by Raj Kumar Gupta)
Elena (Russia; directed by Andrei Zvyagintsev)
What would you do to save your son? Elena drastically tries to put the money together to buy her ne’er-well-do son’s way into university and prevent him from military service, but can she put it together in time? She must resort to desperate measures with some unsavoury characters in an attempt to keep her family together. Elena received the Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes film festival and boasts a score by British composer Phillip Glass.
Starbuck (Canada; directed by Ken Scott)
The Salt of Life (Italy; directed by Gianni Di Gregorio)
From the writer / director / star of 2009’s smash Italian comedy Mid-August Lunch comes a delicious slice of Roman life. Gianni (played by the film’s director) has settled into a comfortable, dull life in Italy as a retiree. His wife, daughter and her boyfriend all take him for granted. His mother fritters away his money by gambling. Just when his existence appears to be thankless, one of his closest friends reveals that he and all of his contemporaries have been taking lovers on the side for years, and Gianni is the only one without one! Determined to reinvigorate his life and not be left behind, Gianni embarks on a series of adventures to make himself youthful and attractive to the opposite sex again, even though he hasn’t dated in decades. It’s appropriate that The Salt of Life is presented by, of all companies, the giant insurer Desjardins.
Michael (Austria; directed by Markus Schleinzer)
The Mill and the Cross (Poland; directed by Lech Majewski)
What’s it like to live inside a painting? Majewski’s English-language costume drama is a speculative account of 12 of the hundreds of subjects inside of Peter the Elder’s famed masterpiece The Way to Calvary. Who are the subjects? What were they doing at that point in time? Were they really off to Calvary? Majewski’s film boasts unusual casting, including former action star Rutger Hauer in a leading role, together with veteran British actors Charlotte Rampling and Michael York. Reminiscent of the acclaimed 2003 film masterpiece Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Mill and the Cross is a remarkable technical achievement that played to rapturous reception at Sundance and dozens of film festivals this year, as evidenced by the itinerary on the flim’s website.
Mitsuko Delivers (Japan; directed by Ishii Yuya)