Recommendations by the festival’s founder and director, Roman Gutek
dir. Quentin Dupieux
The protagonist in Quentin Dupieux’s black comedy is ... a deerskin jacket. It becomes an obsession for Georges, who, along with his suede jacket, gets to fulfil his dream of becoming a filmmaker. Incredibly funny, filled with absurd ideas and an exhibition of unrestrained fantasy, Deerskin also features an acting tour de force by Jean Dujardin.
dir. Albel Ferrara
A discovery from the Cannes Festival, this is an astonishing and extremely personal work by Ferrara—a film about toxic masculinity, late fatherhood and the battle against personal demons. Willem Dafoe stars as an American artist living in Rome—Ferrara’s alter ego. Tommaso is not just a moving portrait of an aging artist but also one of the boldest, most intimate film diaries ever made.
dir. Marco Bellocchio
Based on real events, this suspenseful drama is nothing like popular Mafia stories. The masterful Bellocchio doesn’t hesitate to give audiences a raw reconstruction of events instead of a romanticized gangster story. At the center is Tommaso Buscetta, a criminal who violates the Mafia’s code of silence, omertà. His testimony sinks mob bosses and leads to the best-known Mafia trial in history.
dir. Kantemir Bałagow
A story about the difficult relationship between two young women in post-war Leningrad. This is a film not only about trauma but also the incessant, ecstatic dance of life and death. It has a different sort of energy than Closeness. Rather than rebelling, the protagonists try to return to normalcy, but their wounds haven’t healed, and nothing around them is able to wake up from the postwar lethargy. A visually stunning, overwhelming film with an excellent cast that shows the scale of Balagov’s talent.
dir. Denis Côté
One of New Horizons’ favorite directors is back with a mixture of an enigmatic horror and slow cinema that was presented in the Berlinale’s main competition. A mysterious car accident triggers a series of strange events in a sleepy Canadian town. A brilliant game that plays with the audience and is reminiscent of A Ghost Story, this is a tale about how (pop) culture perceives things on the border of life and death.
dir. Céline Sciamma
An award winner at Cannes for best screenplay, Céline Sciamma’s melodrama puts an 18th-centure costume on contemporary desires and emotions, as expressed by an aristocrat who is being readied for an arranged marriage (Adele Haenel) and her portraitist (Noemie Merlant). The intimate bond that unexpectedly arises between them will become a powerful force capable of shattering many a taboo. Inspired by romantic painting, Sciamma’s subtle and fiery film is a paean to a woman’s gaze and its impressive visual manifesto.
dir. Albert Serra
I recommend that you watch the films by the subject of one of this year’s retrospectives, starting with his latest work, Freedom, which was an award winner at Cannes. The Catalan experimental filmmaker presented the most radical and most controversial film in the section: a film-dream, a film-performance, a spectacle about the dance of desire under the cover of the night. Powerful, captivating and repulsive at the same time, proving that there is still room for the eponymous freedom in cinema.
dir. Isaki Lacuesta
The winner of the festivals in San Sebastián and Mar del Plata seamlessly combines not only fiction with documentary but also the past with the present. Returning to the characters from The Legend of Time, he tells us more about the fates of two brothers living in the south of Spain. Called a Spanish Boyhood, Lacuesta’s film is a penetrating and tender observation of the relationship between the two men: their bodies, their conversations, their gestures. It is an extraordinary, melancholy film.
dir. Carlos Reygadas
The Mexican director tells the story of a married couple who decide to have an open relationship. The lead roles are played by the director himself and his wife, Natalia López. But there is nothing exhibitionistic about Our Time; the only truly intimate aspects of the film are questions about the limits we set (and transcend) in relations with our loved ones. Reygadas looks at how culture creates a dam for our instincts and transforms lust, aggression and passion into art.
dir. Elia Suleiman
Palestinian director Elia Suleiman returns after a decade-long break with a bitter, melancholy comedy that won a jury award at the last Cannes festival. This is a devilish film about the lack of understanding, the communication chaos that our world is stuck in, and also about a kind of Palestinian homelessness, as manifested by the character of Suleiman, who wanders from Israel to New York in search of financing for his next film.