Now in its 35th year, the 2022 AFI European Union Film Showcase, taking place December 1–20 at the American Film Institute’s historic theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland highlights 56 films representing all 27 EU member states. Of the Official Selections, 50% are directed or co-directed by women.
This year’s AFI European Union Film Showcase opens on December 1 with Corsage (Austria), Marie Kreutzer’s (The Ground Beneath My Feet) sumptuous period drama about legendary monarch Empress Elizabeth “Sisi” of Austria, for which actress Vicky Krieps (Bergman Island, Phantom Thread) won the Un Certain Regard Best Performance award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Corsage recently took the top prize for Best Film at the BFI London Film Festival and is Austria’s official Oscar® submission for Best International Feature Film.
The Closing Night selection is Nicolas Pariser’s (Alice and the Mayor) Cannes-premiered The Green Perfume (France), a comedic, Hitchcock-inspired whodunit starring Vincent Lacoste (Lost Illusions, Sorry Angel) and Sandrine Kiberlain (Mademoiselle Chambon, 9 Month Stretch) as an unlikely duo who embark on an international adventure of political intrigue in the wake of an unsolved murder.
Alongside Corsage, the lineup features several other high-profile new films directed by women, including award-winning documentarian Alice Diop’s (WE) boundary-pushing courtroom drama Saint Omer, winner of the Silver Lion at this year’s Venice Film Festival and France’s official Oscar® submission; Carla Simón’s (Summer 1993) stunning Catalonia-set family drama Alcarràs (Spain), winner of the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale and Spain’s official Oscar® submission; Maïmouna Doucouré’s (Cuties) delightful Capra-esque tale Hawa (France), starring famed Malian singer Oumou Sangaré alongside standout newcomer Sania Halifa; Alice Rohrwacher’s (Happy as Lazzaro) mischievous holiday fable The Pupils (Italy), produced by Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón; Tereza Nvotová’s folk horror breakthrough Nightsiren (Slovakia), winner of the Golden Leopard at the 2022 Locarno Film Festival, with Nvotová in attendance for a Q&A; and the U.S. premieres of Susanna Nicchiarelli’s (Nico, 1988) Venice-debuted feminist medieval musical Chiara (Italy) and Alice Winocour’s (Augustine) Cannes-premiered Revoir Paris (France), starring Virginie Efira (Benedetta, Elle) as the survivor of a mass shooting.
Additional highlights include several eagerly anticipated new works from some of Europe’s best-known filmmakers, including Jerzy Skolimowski’s (Deep End, Essential Killing) donkey-led Cannes Jury Prize winner EO (Poland), Poland’s official Oscar® submission; Mia Hansen-Løve’s (Bergman Island) deeply personal One Fine Morning (France) starring Léa Seydoux, winner of the Label Europa Cinemas award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival; Icelandic filmmaker Hlynur Pálmason’s (A White, White Day) Cannes-debuted historical drama Godland (Denmark); Romanian New Wave auteur Cristian Mungiu’s (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) highly anticipated Cannes-premiered drama R.M.N (Romania); Irish director Frank Berry’s (I Used to Live Here, Michael Inside) Tribeca-debuted social realist drama, Aisha, starring Letitia Wright (Black Panther, Small Axe) and Josh O’Connor (The Crown, God’s Own Country); and Ulrich Seidl’s (Paradise trilogy) Berlin-premiered Rimini (Austria), a bleakly comedic character study of a once-successful lounge singer.
Other standouts from among the 19 official Best International Feature Film Oscar® submissions featured in this year’s lineup are Lukas Dhont’s powerful portrait of adolescent friendship, Close (Belgium), his anticipated follow up to Girl and winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival; Colm Bairéad’s stirring family drama The Quiet Girl (Ireland), winner of seven awards at the 2022 Irish Film and Television Awards and currently the highest-grossing Irish-language film of all time; Alli Haapasalo’s (Force of Habit, Love and Fury) Sundance award-winning teen dramedy Girl Picture (Finland); Tarik Saleh’s (The Nile Hilton Incident) Cannes prize-winning political thriller Boy From Heaven (Sweden); and the U.S. and North American Premieres of award-winning submissions from Croatia (Safe Place), Estonia (Kalev), Portugal (Alma Viva), Slovakia (Victim) and Slovenia (Orchestra).
2022 AFI EUROPEAN UNION FILM SHOWCASE
2023 Oscar® Selection, Austria
PHANTOM THREAD’s Vicky Krieps — Un Certain Regard Best Performance award winner at Cannes — gives legendary 19th-century monarch Empress Elizabeth “Sisi” of Austria her rightful place in the rock-and-roll royalty hall of fame in Marie Kreutzer’s stylishly iconoclastic take on a year in the life of one of history’s most talked-about women. DIR Marie Kreutzer. Austria/Luxembourg/Germany/France, 2022, 112 min. In English, German, French and Hungarian with English subtitles.
Director Ulrich Seidl crafts a darkly comic character study about Ritchie Bravo (Michael Thomas, in an astounding performance), a washed-up, sleazy lounge lizard living on the northern Italian coast who must scrounge up 30,000 euros for his estranged adult daughter as compensation for having abandoned her 12 years earlier. DIR Ulrich Seidl. Austria/France/Germany, 2022, 114 min. In German and Italian with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Belgium
This sensitive and moving drama from Lukas Dhont (GIRL) follows two 13-year-old boys who spend the long summer days and nights together, playing in the woods and sleeping over at each other’s houses. But once the school year begins, other children notice how attached the two seem to be, and uncomfortable questions get asked. DIR Lukas Dhont. Belgium/Netherlands/France, 2022, 105 min. In Dutch and French with English subtitles.
Kamal leaves his home in Brussels to support the Syrian rebels’ efforts as a cameraman. Soon, he is fighting in a war zone with ISIS calling the shots, while radical recruiters attempt to enlist his little brother back home. Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah’s stylish cautionary tale rails against the exploiters who peddle radicalization. DIR Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah. Belgium/Luxembourg/France, 2022, 135 min. In Dutch, French and Arabic with English
2023 Oscar® Selection, Bulgaria
IN THE HEART OF THE MACHINE [V SŬRTSETO NA MASHINATA] [В СЪРЦЕТО НА МАШИНАТА]
Set in 1978 inside Kremikovtsi Steel Plant, where a ragtag group of maximum-security inmates has been recruited to help double production, Martin Makariev’s gritty prison drama becomes a thought-provoking meditation on humanity and survival when a trapped bird becomes the catalyst for a tense hostage situation and possible escape. DIR Martin Makariev. Bulgaria, 2021, 115 min. In Bulgarian with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Croatia
SAFE PLACE (2022) [SIGURNO MJESTO]
Writer-director Juraj Lerotić’s potent and highly personal debut feature — in which he also stars — is a tense psychological drama following two brothers, as one (Lerotić) races against time and the bureaucracy of the social service and healthcare systems to prevent the other (Goran Marković) from repeating a suicide attempt. DIR Juraj Lerotić. Croatia/Slovenia, 2022, 102 min. In Croatian with English subtitles.
Dimitris can’t wait to make up for lost time when his father is released from prison. But his dad has a hard time kicking old habits, constantly scheming and hoping to drag Dimitris into the “family business.” Cypriot filmmaker Yianna Americanou’s thriller-tinged drama asks whether blood really is thicker than water. DIR Yianna Americanou. Cyprus/Greece, 2021, 97 min. In Greek with English subtitles.
North American Premiere
ORDINARY FAILURES [BĚŽNÁ SELHÁNÍ]
On the verge of the apocalypse, a lonely widow, a misfit teen and a frustrated young mother cross paths, each struggling to find her place in the world even as it seemingly comes to an end. Hungarian-Romanian filmmaker Cristina Groşan won Best Director Under 40 at the 2022 Venice Film Festival for this intimate sci-fi tale. DIR Cristina Groşan. Czech Republic/Italy/Hungary/Slovakia, 2022, 85 min. In Czech with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Denmark
Devout family man-turned-serial killer Saeed is on a quest to “cleanse” the holy Iranian city of Mashhad of sex workers. As the bodies pile up, a journalist grows obsessed with finding the murderer. Danish-based Iranian filmmaker Ali Abbasi’s cat-and-mouse thriller raises thought-provoking questions about justice in contemporary Iran. DIR Ali Abbasi. Denmark/Germany/Sweden/France, 2022, 118 min. In Persian with English subtitles.
GODLAND [VANSKABTE LAND] [VOLAÐA LAND]
Icelandic director Hlynur Pálmason (A WHITE, WHITE DAY) crafts an anti-colonial fable with this 19th-century-set tale of a Danish priest sent to establish a church in a remote community in Iceland (then a Danish colony). The distrust between the priest and his Icelandic guide devolves into a deadly battle of wills between colonizer and colonized. DIR Hlynur Pálmason. Denmark/Iceland/France/Sweden, 2022, 143 min. In Danish and Icelandic with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Estonia
North American Premiere
Summer, 1990. The collapse of the Soviet Union is imminent, but the USSR Premiere Basketball League is starting a new season. With independence within reach and societal support for the USSR waning, the Estonian team must decide whether to participate. Ove Musting’s feature debut is a rousing and timely sports drama based on a true story. DIR Ove Musting. Estonia, 2022, 91 min. In Estonian and Russian with English subtitles.
THE WOODCUTTER STORY [METSURIN TARINA]
When the sawmill where he works suddenly closes, Pepe is cursed by increasingly bizarre bad luck, but maintains an unfaltering positive attitude. Imagine TWIN PEAKS by way of Aki Kaurismäki and you might get close to the delightfully deadpan surrealism at the core of Mikko Myllylahti’s 35mm-shot directorial debut. DIR Mikko Myllylahti. Finland/Netherlands/Denmark/Germany, 2022, 99 min. In Finnish with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Finland
GIRL PICTURE [TYTÖT TYTÖT TYTÖT]
Alli Haapasalo’s fresh and frank snapshot of young womanhood follows three teenaged girls in Helsinki. Best friends Rönkkö and Mimmi work in a smoothie shop, sharing their personal woes and triumphs. When strait-laced figure skater Emma enters the picture, she strikes up a whirlwind romance with Mimmi that sends sparks flying. DIR Alli Haapasalo. Finland, 2022, 101 min. In Finnish with English subtitles.
MOTHER AND SON (2022) [UN PETIT FRÈRE]
The latest film from writer-director Léonor Serraille (MONTPARNASSE BIENVENÜE) follows the ups and downs in the adventurous life of Rose (Annabelle Lengronne), who emigrates from Abidjan to Paris in the ’90s with her two young sons, who grow to manhood over the ensuing years in the company of their headstrong mother. DIR Léonor Serraille. France, 2022, 116 min. In French with English subtitles.
ONE FINE MORNING (2022) [UN BEAU MATIN]
The many facets of one woman’s identity are expertly explored in Mia Hansen-Løve’s (BERGMAN ISLAND, THINGS TO COME) deeply personal drama about a mother, daughter, sister and lover (Léa Seydoux) at a crossroads. Mourning the loss of her relationship with her ailing father, she finds hope in her young daughter and a new beau. DIR Mia Hansen-Løve. France, 2022, 112 min. In French with English subtitles.
THE ORIGIN OF EVIL [L’ORIGINE DU MAL]
Laure Calamy gives a brilliant performance as working-class woman who seeks out the wealthy father she never knew and discovers a vipers’ nest of family drama, with everyone angling for the old man’s inheritance and suspicious of this interloper. Sébastien Marnier’s twisty thriller recalls the work of Agatha Christie and Patricia Highsmith, with a stylish air of intrigue and sensual visuals that bear comparison to screen masters Claude Chabrol and Pedro Almodóvar. DIR Sébastien Marnier. France/Canada, 2022, 125 min. In French with English subtitles.
THE FIVE DEVILS [LES CINQ DIABLES]
A young girl discovers she has a superpower, leading to a perilous journey into the past and the discovery of long-held secrets about her parents’ tangled love lives. Léa Mysius’ twisty, supernatural drama examines small-town racism, homophobia and the ways in which we manage to contain — for a time — our memories. DIR Léa Mysius. France, 2022, 95 min. In French with English subtitles.
A fiery, feminist take on the tale of a woman trying to make it a man’s world, French filmmaker Lola Quivoron’s narrative feature debut is an action-infused genre mashup about a young woman who joins the city’s male-dominated “rodeos” — illegal gatherings where dirt bike riders show off their death-defying speed and stunts. DIR Lola Quivoron. France, 2022, 102 min. In French with English subtitles.
In her Capra-esque tale about a soon-to-be-orphaned adolescent seeking an audience with the icon she’s chosen to be her adoptive mother — Michelle Obama — writer/director Maïmouna Doucouré’s (CUTIES) sophomore feature dismantles boundaries of status and decorum and celebrates the power of self-determination. DIR Maïmouna Doucouré. France, 2022, 104 min. In French and Bambara with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, France
Documentarian Alice Diop’s narrative debut is a tense courtroom drama based on the real-life case of a Senegalese woman accused of infanticide. Following a pregnant novelist observing the trial, the film blurs the line between observer and subject to explore the limits of empathy and the double-edged sword of motherhood. DIR Alice Diop. France, 2022, 122 min. In French with English subtitles.
THE NIGHT OF THE 12TH [LA NUIT DU 12]
A young woman walking home at night is set aflame. While several of the victim’s exes fit the profile as suspects, none can be implicated in her murder. The latest from writer/director Dominik Moll is a gripping police procedural and a searing indictment of a society plagued by callousness and violence against women. DIR Dominik Moll. France/Belgium, 2022, 114 min. In French with English subtitles.
REVOIR PARIS aka PARIS MEMORIES
Virginie Efira gives a powerful performance as a survivor of a mass shooting in a Paris restaurant. She has an imperfect recollection of the event, made worse by an accusation that she committed an unforgiveable act of cowardice. Alice Winocour’s film examines the fault lines where memory, trauma and emotion collide for survivors. DIR Alice Winocour. France, 2022, 105 min. In French with English subtitles.
THE GREEN PERFUME [LE PARFUM VERT]
When an actor dies on stage, whispering the cryptic phrase “green perfume,” his castmate and an artist friend launch an amateur investigation that leads them from Paris to Brussels to Budapest. Nicolas Pariser’s (ALICE AND THE MAYOR) latest is a comic adventure with hints of Hitchcock’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST and Hergé’s Tintin. DIR Nicolas Pariser. France, 2022, 101 min. In French with English subtitles.
INSIDE THE UFFIZI [IN DEN UFFIZIEN]
Corinna Belz and Enrique Sánchez Lansch’s immersive documentary investigates Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, along with its dedicated staff and patrons. Led by the erudite German director Eike Schmidt, the curators, conservators and custodians work tirelessly to preserve and present the museum’s treasures to visitors from all over the world. DIR Corinna Belz, Enrique Sánchez Lansch. Germany, 2021, 96 min. In English, Italian and German with English subtitles.
THE FORGER (2022) [DER PASSFÄLSCHER]
Based on the memoir of graphic artist Samson “Cioma” Schönhaus, writer and director Maggie Peren’s (COLOR OF THE OCEAN) rich historical drama pays tribute to a resourceful chameleon who deployed his endless inventiveness and charm to run circles around the authorities as a young Jewish man living in Nazi-controlled Berlin. DIR Maggie Peren. Germany/Luxembourg, 2022, 116 min. In German with English subtitles.
TALKING ABOUT THE WEATHER [ALLE REDEN ÜBERS WETTER]
In Annika Pinske’s sharply observed drama, a philosophy PhD candidate (Anne Schäfer) navigates elite academic life in Berlin, sharing a flat with roommates while attending swanky functions at posh professors’ homes. But her memories of growing up in the former East Germany provide a powerful counterpoint to life in the ivory tower. DIR Annika Pinske. Germany, 2022, 89 min. In German with English subtitles.
THE CONFERENCE (2022) [DIE WANNSEEKONFERENZ]
January 20, 1942: the heads of Hitler’s ministries gathered for a “meeting followed by breakfast.” The topic for this mundane diplomatic function? The “final solution to the Jewish question.” Adapted from the meeting minutes, Matti Geschonneck’s important and disturbing recreation of history demonstrates the true banality of evil. DIR Matti Geschonneck. Germany, 2022, 108 min. In German with English subtitles.
Jöns Jönsson’s slow-burn psychodrama stars Moritz von Treuenfels as a man whose protean penchant for self-invention goes to extremes. “A fascinatingly perceptive film about casual falsehoods, compulsive fakery and crumbling facades…Maybe the only people in the world not to suffer from imposter syndrome are the actual imposters.” – Variety. DIR Jöns Jönsson. Germany, 2022, 112 min. In German with English subtitles.
WE MIGHT AS WELL BE DEAD [WIR KÖNNTEN GENAUSO GUT TOT SEIN]
Natalia Sinelnikova’s impressive debut is a dystopian satire reminiscent of the Greek Weird Wave and J. G. Ballard’s transgressive futurism. Anna (Romanian actress Ioana Iacob) is the head of security at a mysterious high-rise apartment building whose residents have turned away from the chaos believed to be roiling the outside world. DIR Natalia Sinelnikova. Germany/Romania, 2022, 93 min. In German and Polish with English subtitles.
I LOVE GREECE
In Nafsika Guerry-Karamaounas’ bittersweet romantic dramedy, Parisian couple Marina (Stacy Martin) and Jean (Vincent Dedienne) fly to Athens to visit Marina’s Greek family. But the couple’s plans to then have a quiet romantic getaway alone on the island of Sifnos are upended when Marina’s extended family decides to tag along. DIR Nafsika Guerry-Karamaounas. Greece/France, 2022, 92 min. In French and Greek with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Greece
MAGNETIC FIELDS (2022) [MAGNITIKÁ PEDÍA] [Μαγνητικά Πεδία]
Elena and Antonis, a pair of wanderers in search of a meaningful, human connection, embark on an impromptu road trip across the Greek isle of Kefalonia in search of a place to bury a box containing Antonis’ aunt’s remains in this charming, lo-fi feature from Yorgos Goussis in his narrative feature directorial debut. DIR Yorgos Goussis. Greece, 2021, 78 min. In Greek with English subtitles.
GENTLE (2022) [SZELÍD]
Edina is a bodybuilder competing for the world championship with her partner-coach at her side. As the brutal training regimen takes a toll on their finances, she joins a network of bodybuilding escorts, where she finds liberation and self-worth. László Csuja and Anna Nemes present a thoughtful and nuanced portrayal of female bodybuilding. DIR László Csuja, Anna Nemes. Hungary/Germany, 2022, 93 min. In Hungarian with English subtitles.
Letitia Wright and Josh O’Connor shine in Irish director Frank Berry’s (MICHAEL INSIDE) poignant and maddening social realist drama about the tender friendship that blooms between a young Nigerian woman seeking asylum and a troubled security guard, amid the labyrinthine and bureaucratic strictures of Ireland’s immigration system. DIR Frank Berry. Ireland, 2022, 94 min. In English.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Ireland
THE QUIET GIRL [AN CAILÍN CIÚIN]
Set in rural Ireland in 1981, Colm Bairéad’s powerful coming-of-age drama follows Cáit, a nine-year-old girl lost in a large and dysfunctional family. When she is sent to live with distant relatives for the summer, she finds a refuge of healing and acceptance. But even in this loving home, there are painful secrets. DIR Colm Bairéad. Ireland, 2022, 94 min. In Irish with English subtitles.
Italian director Susanna Nicchiarelli journeys to 13th-century Italy for this revisionist ode to St. Clare of Assisi, one of history’s unsung heroines. A feminist medieval musical that takes its cues from “Hair” and “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Nicchiarelli’s fresh and fortifying biopic imbues its subject with warmth and light befitting a saint. DIR Susanna Nicchiarelli. Italy/Belgium, 2022, 106 min. In Italian and Latin with English subtitles.
SMALL BODY [PICCOLO CORPO]
In director Laura Samani’s affecting debut — a dark folktale about grief, faith and the power of hope set in Italy at the turn of the 20th century — a grieving young mother embarks on a treacherous odyssey to save the soul of her stillborn child, hoping that a fabled distant church can perform the miracle she needs. DIR Laura Samani. Italy/France/Slovenia, 2021, 89 min. In Italian, Slovenian, Friulian and Venetian with English subtitles.
LORD OF THE ANTS [IL SIGNORE DELLE FORMICHE]
Italy, 1968. The poet Aldo Braibanti is charged with plagiarism — leading his younger male lover and protégé morally astray. In court, Aldo is forced to defend every aspect of his life, from his art to his sexuality. Veteran filmmaker Gianni Amelio’s handsome period biopic-turned-courtroom drama brims with contemporary resonance. DIR Gianni Amelio. Italy, 2022, 134 min. In Italian with English subtitles.
THE PUPILS [LE PUPILLE]
Set during World War II in a small Italian town, Alice Rohrwacher’s mischievous holiday fable takes place at Christmas in a Catholic boarding school for orphaned girls, where the gift of an irresistible red cake — a zuppa inglese — sparks rebellion (and the possibility of kindness) among the girls and their caretakers alike. DIR Alice Rohrwacher. Italy/U.S., 2022, 38 min. In Italian with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Latvia
JANUARY (2022) [JANVARIS]
It’s 1991 and aspiring filmmaker Jazis attends art school by day and films the Soviet occupation by night. Grappling with his first love and his purpose, he is engulfed in the brutal fighting as the Latvians push for independence. Latvian director Viesturs Kairišs crafts an engrossing, semi-autobiographical ode to love, war and cinema. DIR Viesturs Kairišs. Latvia/Lithuania/Poland, 2022, 95 min. In Latvian, Lithuanian and Russian with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Lithuania
PILGRIMS (2021) [PILIGRIMAI]
Laurynas Bareiša’s debut feature is an offbeat detective thriller following Indre and Paulius, childhood friends and amateur sleuths who have reunited four years after the murder of Matas, Paulius’ brother and Indre’s boyfriend. They head to the scene of the crime to retrace Matas’ steps, hoping to discover what really happened. DIR Laurynas Bareiša. Lithuania, 2021, 92 min. In Lithuanian with English subtitles.
THE WAY TO HAPPINESS (2021) [LE CHEMIN DU BONHEUR]
Cinephile Saül Birnbaum is on the path to recovery from childhood abandonment issues caused by the Holocaust, now running a snazzy deli in 1986. When love comes knocking, can Saül overcome his past for a chance at happiness? Nicolas Steil’s sophomore feature is a warm, comic film about trauma and second chances. DIR Nicolas Steil. Belgium/France/Luxembourg, 2021, 112 min. In Yiddish, German and French with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Malta
Fifty-year-old Carmen (Natascha McElhone) has spent her life looking after her brother, the village priest. When he dies, she starts doling out advice from the empty confession booth. Maltese-Canadian filmmaker Valerie Buhagiar delivers a crowd-pleasing, coming-of-middle-age dramedy about a woman taking charge of her own narrative. DIR Valerie Buhagiar. Malta/Canada, 2021, 87 min. In English and Maltese with English subtitles.
In Mascha Halberstad’s delightful stop-motion animated tale, nine-year-old Babs is overjoyed to receive an adorable piglet from her grandfather. She enrolls her pet in obedience school even as grandpa fattens up the hog — which surely has nothing to do with the upcoming King Sausage competition for local butchers. DIR Mascha Halberstad. Netherlands/Belgium, 2022, 72 min. In Dutch with English subtitles.
When 74-year-old Jan announces that he’s ready to die by his next birthday, his daughter quits her job and moves in with him in an effort to change his mind. Flecked with moments of comedy, filmmaker Floor van der Meulen’s first narrative feature resists the maudlin, instead finding honest moments of family drama. DIR Floor van der Meulen. Netherlands/Slovenia, 2022, 95 min. In Dutch with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Poland
After being removed from a circus, a donkey named EO treks across the Polish and Italian countryside, meeting a colorful cast of characters (including a countess played by Isabelle Huppert) in Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski’s bold, experimental feature inspired by Robert Bresson’s 1966 donkey tale AU HASARD BALTHAZAR. DIR Jerzy Skolimowski. Poland/Italy, 2022, 88 min. In Polish, Italian and French with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Portugal
After young Salomé’s sorceress grandmother dies, the family begins squabbling over her meager fortune. Salomé channels the matriarch’s spirit to set the family straight. Cristèle Alves Meira’s debut feature makes clever use of magical realism to explore the all-too-real challenges of economic hardship in contemporary Portugal. DIR Cristèle Alves Meira. Portugal/Belgium/France, 2022, 85 min. In Portuguese and French with English subtitles.
WILL-O’-THE-WISP (2022) [FOGO-FÁTUO]
It’s 2069, and King Alfredo lies on his deathbed, reflecting on his bawdy youth — in particular an interracial romance with a strapping young firefighter. Filmmaker João Pedro Rodrigues engages with issues of class, race and climate change with gleeful aplomb in this riotous, post-Colonial, sexually explicit, queer musical. DIR João Pedro Rodrigues. Portugal/France, 2022, 67 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles.
Note: contains explicit sexual content.
Returning to his Transylvanian hometown, a melting pot of ethnicities, religions and languages, Matthias rekindles a romance with an old flame who has turned to Sri Lankan immigrants to fill jobs at her small factory. Romanian New Wave auteur Cristian Mungiu’s riveting drama lays bare the bigotry and xenophobia in contemporary Romanian society. DIR Cristian Mungiu. Romania/France/Belgium/Sweden, 2022, 125 min. In English, Romanian, Hungarian, German, French and Sinhala with English subtitles.
Hoping to stop her boyfriend from fleeing Ceausescu’s oppressive regime for Germany, Ana heads to a classmate’s party with an agenda. But the secret police bust the kids for listening to a radio program clandestinely broadcasting American rock. Filmmaker Alexandru Belc makes his assured feature narrative debut with this ’70s-set drama. DIR Alexandru Belc. Romania/France, 2022, 103 min. In Romanian with English subtitles. NOT RATED
Q&A with filmmaker Tereza Nvotová and actress Natália Germáni
After a terrible accident destroyed her childhood, Šarlota returns to her regressive mountain hometown for the first time in 20 years. It’s not long before the locals start to suspect she’s a witch, as strange, unexplainable incidents pile up. Tereza Nvotová’s beguiling folk horror is a ferocious takedown of toxic misogyny. DIR Tereza Nvotová. Slovakia/Czech Republic, 2022, 106 min. In Slovak with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Slovakia
VICTIM (2022) [OBET]
Slovak director Michal Blaško’s tense social thriller is set in a small Czech border town, where Ukrainian immigrant Irina (Vita Smachelyuk) is faced with a difficult moral dilemma after her 13-year-old son is hospitalized after an alleged attack, and his case is co-opted by right-wing campaigners stoking racism and xenophobia. DIR Michal Blaško. Slovakia/Czech Republic/Germany, 2022, 91 min. In Czech and Ukrainian with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Slovenia
In this wry black-and-white comedy, a boisterous Slovenian brass band heads to Austria, living it up with an anything-goes attitude, but bus scrapes, affairs and drunken overindulgences put a damper on the merry-making. Filmmaker Matevž Luzar loosely adapted his own experiences traveling with the same band into this award-winning tale. DIR Matevž Luzar. Slovenia, 2021, 111 min. In Slovenian and German with English subtitles.
THE BEASTS (2022) [AS BESTAS]
Filmmaker Rodrigo Sorogoyen (THE REALM) made his Cannes debut with this riveting rural thriller in which issues of class, modernity and masculinity erupt into violence. A well-to-do French couple is happily settled in a quaint Galician village, but long-simmering tensions reach a boiling point when they make enemies of two local brothers. DIR Rodrigo Sorogoyen. Spain/France, 2022, 137 min. In Spanish, French and Galician with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Spain
A decades-old handshake deal allowed the Solé family to blossom on borrowed land, tending to a lush peach orchard. But their way of life is threatened when the new owner wants to raze the farm to make way for solar panels. Filmmaker Carla Símon crafts a tender portrait of a family at the nexus of tradition and progress. DIR Carla Simón. Spain/Italy, 2022, 120 min. In Catalan and Spanish with English subtitles.
2023 Oscar® Selection, Sweden
BOY FROM HEAVEN [WALAD MIN AL JANNA] [ولد من الجنة]
Swedish filmmaker Tarik Saleh’s caustic tale of intrigue, espionage and corruption is a penetrating account on par with the work of John le Carré. Following two mysterious deaths at his Cairo university, a student is pressured to sway the election of the school’s new imam to the government’s preferred outcome. DIR Tarik Saleh. Sweden/Denmark/France/Finland, 2022, 126 min. In Arabic with English subtitles.
THE EMIGRANTS (2021) [UTVANDRARNA]
Based on Vilhelm Moberg’s novels, Erik Poppe’s adaptation of the classic Swedish epic — the tale of a poverty-stricken family moving to America in the mid-19th century — centers on matriarch Kristina after she agrees to set out on the long journey toward what she prays will be a better life for her family. DIR Erik Poppe. Sweden/Denmark/Norway, 2021, 148 min. In English and Swedish with English subtitles.