QUO VADIS, AIDA?
This incredibly powerful film from Bosnia and Herzegovina is directed with grace and great sensitivity by Jasmilla Zbanic, who brings vividly to life the tragic events that took place on 11th July 1995 in the small town of Srebrenica.
Aida (Jasna Djuricic) is a married Bosnian woman with two grown up sons. She used to be a teacher but now, because of the never ending war with Serbia, she works as a translator for the United Nations. She is in the middle of a crisis interpreting in front of thousands of citizens seeking refuge at the UN camp following the occupation of their city by the Serbian army. Thousands are inside the camp and even more thousands are at the gates…
This compelling film demands attention from its very first scene and doesn’t let go until the devastating climactic sequence. A deeply moving film with an amazing central performance from Duricic, who like a Greek tragic heroine is ready to sacrifice everything in order to save her family but is also unable to escape the inevitable. This is urgent filmmaking at its best and clearly a project close to the heart of Zbanic, who directs with passion and fury in equal measure. Essential viewing!
Just when you thought you have seen every possible story and twist about the Holocaust, here comes another also inspired by true events. The time is 1942 and the place Nazi occupied France. Gilles (Nahuel Perez Biscayart) is arrested by SS soldiers and led to execution alongside fellow Jews. However, he miraculously escapes execution by claiming he is not a Jew but a Persian and prays that the book he is carrying with him is enough proof. But at the prison camp he is assigned to teach Farsi, a language he knows not even a word, to a high ranking officer (Lars Eidinger), who wants to open a restaurant in Tehran after the war…
The title may suggest light hearted comedy but Vadim Perelaman’s harrowing film is as strong about the brutality of the Nazis as they come. It is a striking film about the undying fight of the human spirit for survival with a luminous central performance from Biscayart.
This eccentric comedy from New Zealand is a welcome antidote to all those tiresome Hollywood films about the angsts of marriage and pregnancy.
Fun loving Zoe (Rose Matafeo) and Tim (Matthew Lewis) are unlike any other couple – they work as tree surgeons and refuse to end up being boring like most of their friends after they settle down. “Marriage – House – Baby Done” is what Zoe is trying to avoid despite the fact that she finds out she is pregnant…
It is fresh and original with endearing performances by both protagonists and a story that wittily avoids all the clichés of the genre.
A superior psychological thriller from Demark which follows the story of four women working at a small company in Copenhagen that specialises in genocide. But after two of them receive death threats they begin to suspect everyone around them…
It is a brilliant study of friendship and jealousy as well as paranoia against one another. It is good to see strong fully fleshed female characters and even better to experience such depth in the outstanding performances. It won’t be a surprise if Hollywood remakes this!
Hong Kong director Stanley Tong opens his fast and furious adventure in London’s Chinatown during the New Year celebrations, where a distinguished client of the elite “Vanguard” security agency is kidnapped. The agency leader (Jackie Chan) promptly organises a dangerous mission across the globe in order to save their client and his daughter who is also threatened…
It is entertaining with strong production values and lavish locations that make one forget the paper thin dialogue and caricature villains.
HAM ON RYE
This celebration of youth in a suburban U.S town marks Tyler Taormina’s impressive directorial debut. A group of teenagers head for a night out at their local deli while dreaming of a life far away from their sleepy town where nothing much happens.
There is a feel of nostalgia in Taormina’s storytelling that suggests the seventies or eighties and films like AMERICAN GRAFFITI. However, this familiar setting is painted here with poetry and lyricism by an original new talent. (MUBI)
76 DAYS: This urgent documentary takes place in Wuhan, China which on 23rd January 2020 becomes the first city in the world to fall into lockdown. The filmmakers shot the action of this deeply moving film inside the frontlines of the crisis in four hospitals and follows doctors and nurses as they struggle to control the epidemic. A daughter is not allowed to see her dying father despite her pleading, while an old man with dementia is desperate to go home…It is inevitably grim and harrowing but miraculously after 76 days there is a faint light at the end of the tunnel. (Dogwoof)
MOTHER: Kristof Bilsen’s touching documentary takes place in Thailand and follows the story of Pamm, a young woman who looks after elderly Europeans with Alzheimer’s in a nursing home far away from her village and three children. In the meantime, in Switzerland a husband and three daughters are preparing their beloved mother, who has developed Alzheimer’s in her fifties, for a trip to Thailand …It is a moving story of motherhood, sacrifice and the pain of those forced by circumstances to leave the ones they love behind! (Verve)
LA LLORONA: This powerful film from Guatemala – screened at the 2019 year’s London Film Festival – is not to be confused with the recent horror THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA, also rooted on the Latin American legend about a vengeful mother. The action here takes place inside the wealthy home of a retired general who is now facing trial for the massacre of thousands of Mayans decades ago. An angry mob is building up outside while the women of the house struggle to keep things under control… A superb film full of suspense and atmosphere told with beautiful, haunting imagery. (Shudder)
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