Films / Programs

Contemporary World Cinema

Take a whirlwind world tour in just 11 days—without leaving your seat. This year’s selection of Contemporary World Cinema whisks you from Ireland to Italy, Canada to Indonesia, the dikes of Netherlands to the fjords of Iceland, and beyond.

  • The Great Beauty

    The Great Beauty

    Italy , 2013 , 142 min. Overflowing with the contradictions of its Eternal City subject, Paolo Sorrentino’s pseudo-“city symphony” reimagines Fellini’s La Dolce Vita for the 21st century. The great Toni Servillo stars as the charming if cynical axis around which the film’s debauched Babylon revolves... more
  • I Used to Be Darker

    I Used to Be Darker

    USA , 2013 , 90 min. Weighed down by her own life-changing news, Northern Irish runaway Taryn arrives unannounced at her American aunt and uncle’s just in time to witness the contentious end of their marriage. Matthew Porterfield’s well-crafted drama explores the various refuges we seek... more
  • The Broken Circle Breakdown

    The Broken Circle Breakdown

    Belgium , 2012 , 111 min. A Belgian couple face the loss of their daughter to cancer, marshaling the resources of their love of American bluegrass to try to stanch the pain. The film layers their happy early years with the tragedy they must endure and the success they are finally achieving as musicians... more
  • Paradise: Hope

    Paradise: Hope

    Austria , 2013 , 91 min. The final act in Ulrich Seidl’s ambitious “Paradise trilogy,” Paradise: Hope finds virginal 13-year-old Melanie at a fat camp, where she will develop a crush on a middle-aged physician. Seidl’s latest is every bit as frontal, challenging and powerful as its two predecessors.... more
  • 2 Autumns 3 Winters

    2 Autumns 3 Winters

    France , 2013 , 87 min. With this quirky French indie centering on the romantic lives of three 20- and 30-something Parisians, writer-director Sébastien Betbeder has crafted an intimate viewing experience in which the actors confess directly to the camera. 2 Autumns, 3 Winters feels very of-the-moment... more
  • 8-Ball

    8-Ball

    Finland , 2013 , 108 min. The very gritty 8-Ball tells the story of an incarcerated mother of an infant, who, upon parole, struggles to leave her drug-addled past behind. Director Aku Louhimies fills his affecting, expressionistic feature with on-screen narcotic use, extreme violence, and graphic sex... more
  • The Almost Man

    The Almost Man

    Norway , 2012 , 75 min. Winner of the Grand Prix Crystal Award at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Martin Lund’s The Almost Man depicts 30-something Henrik struggling to come to terms with his arrested development as adulthood quickly takes hold... more
  • Black Cloud

    Black Cloud

    USA , 2004 , 97 min. Actor Rick Schroder makes his directorial debut with this inspiring drama set in the American Southwest. Black Cloud (Eddie Spears) is a young Native American who grew up in a violent household and is still struggling to come to terms with his family and his heritage... more
  • Burning Bush

    Burning Bush

    Czech Republic , 2013 , 83 min. In 1969, Jan Palach saw the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia as a huge problem, so much so that he set himself on fire in protest. This dynamic three-part miniseries from politically driven Academy Award nominee Agnieszka Holland chronicles the catalytic drama of his sacrifice... more
  • The Closed Circuit

    The Closed Circuit

    Poland , 2013 , 100 min. Inspired by real events, The Closed Circuit is a political thriller about the persecution of three entrepreneurs by Gdansk’s (formerly Communist) old guard. Made exclusively with private funds, Rysazrd Bugajski’s smartly shot feature was a big box-office hit in Poland... more
  • Cold Comes the Night

    Cold Comes the Night

    USA , 2013 , 90 min. A story about desperation and survival, Cold Comes the Night pits a lonely single mother (Alice Eve) against a near-blind career criminal (Bryan Cranston) in the search for a missing bag of money, the avoidance of a crooked cop, and the hope for a better life... more
  • The Enemy Within

    The Enemy Within

    Greece , 2013 , 107 min. Kostas is a leftist and a loving father to two teenagers in suburban Athens. But after masked thugs break into his home and rape his daughter, he takes the law into his own hands, abandoning his ideals, alienating his family, and bringing even more violence into their lives... more
  • A Field In England

    A Field In England

    United Kingdom , 2013 , 90 min. A spacious meadow in 1600s Britannia serves as an existential arena fueled by hallucinogenics. Surreal circumstances and Tarkovsky-like imagery lead up to a psychedelic climax of cinematographic awe. Embrace the ambiguity and fear not the abyss... more
  • The Fifth Season

    The Fifth Season

    Belgium , 2012 , 93 min. When winter never leaves a remote farming community, its inhabitants face a cascade of mysterious and dramatic failures of nature that bring them to the brink of starvation. Human bonds cannot hold. All that’s left are superstition and startling beauty after terrible loss... more
  • Generation War

    Generation War

    Germany , 2012 , 118 min. This gripping two-part epic, eight years in the making for German television, follows five young men and women through the tribulations of World War II. The once fun-loving, close-knit group will come to face not only unspeakable atrocities but their own role therein... more
  • The Girl from the Wardrobe

    The Girl from the Wardrobe

    Poland , 2013 , 90 min. In this unusual love story about two brothers and their moody, suicidal next-door neighbor, Jacek’s personal life is cramped because he has to watch his mentally challenged brother like a hawk. When a haughty neighbor won’t do it, Jacek gets the unhinged Magda to babysit Tomek... more
  • Grigris

    Grigris

    France , 2013 , 101 min. In this elegantly photographed Cannes prize-winner from Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, one of the most important African directors of the past 20 years, an aspiring, partially paralyzed dancer imperils his life and that of his prostitute girlfriend after an ill-conceived double-cross... more
  • House with a Turret

    House with a Turret

    Russia , 2012 , 80 min. Eva Neymann’s richly textured piece of old-school humanist art cinema builds its World War II-era narrative and visual perspective around a resourceful boy who must navigate an urban space as his mother lies dying. Pola X’s Yekaterina Golubeva co-stars in her final film role... more
  • Ilo Ilo

    Ilo Ilo

    Singapore , 2013 , 99 min. Recipient of the Camera d’Or prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, Anthony Chen’s assured first feature depicts the day-to-day drama of a middle-class Singapore family and their live-in Filipina maid. Ilo Ilo is as heartfelt as it is quietly devastating... more
  • In Hiding

    In Hiding

    Poland , 2013 , 98 min. What begins as a typical World War II movie becomes a tense Hitchcockian thriller. With the Germans invading Poland, a photographer hides a young Jewish woman in the basement, much to his daughter’s consternation. After his arrest, the women form an increasingly obsessive bond... more
  • In Real Life

    In Real Life

    Denmark , 2013 , 102 min. The Internet has transformed interpersonal relationships, from meeting to cheating. We are accessible 24/7, yet may not be present in the moment to make the correct choices. People require human contact, but are we the same online as we are In Real Life?... more
  • La Jaula de Oro

    La Jaula de Oro

    Mexico , 2013 , 110 min. Three teenagers—two boys and a girl disguised as a boy—set off from the peaceful jungles of Guatemala to find a better life in the United States but instead encounter the cruelties of both migration officials and the gangs of thugs who exploit those headed north... more
  • Le Week-End

    Le Week-End

    United Kingdom , 2013 , 93 min. At a crucial crossroads in their marriage, a couple revisit Paris, the site of their honeymoon 30 years earlier. Breathlessly combining comedy and raw emotional drama, Le Week-End also features one of the most touching homages in ages in its concluding nod to Jean-Luc Godard... more
  • A Long and Happy Life

    A Long and Happy Life

    Russia , 2013 , 77 min. When a citified gentleman farmer faces eviction from his leased land, he succumbs to the supposedly steadfast loyalty of his workers who want him to stay, only to discover that their passionate declarations count for nothing when faced with the wrath of local government officials... more
  • Lovely Louise

    Lovely Louise

    Switzerland , 2013 , 91 min. Andre lives with his octogenarian mother, Louise, once a would-be movie star. His life revolves around her routine, and he flies model airplanes in his spare time. He wants to date Steffi, but responsibilities get in the way. Then a stranger turns their lives upside down... more
  • Miracle

    Miracle

    Slovakia , 2013 , 78 min. Ela, a 15-year-old Slovakian girl, is forcibly institutionalized by her mother and her mother’s new lover. She learns she’s pregnant, leading her to seek out her drug-addicted boyfriend. Michaela Bendulova is outstanding in this Dardennesque story of despair and redemption... more
  • Molly Maxwell

    Molly Maxwell

    Canada , 2012 , 91 min. Sara St. Onge directs this coming-of-age tale about a teen attending a private arts school where she flounders in a sea of creative types. Her parents push her to be extraordinary; Molly decides her project will be to seduce her worldly teacher—jeopardizing both their futures... more
  • Monkey King

    Monkey King

    USA , 2013 , 117 min. A Hong Kong opera filmed in 3-D with a cast of more than 70 performers, incredibly intricate costuming, and a rock-and-roll update, the one-of-a-kind Monkey King will have you looking at theater in a whole new way... more
  • Morning Star

    Morning Star

    France , 2012 , 99 min. With a cast including Holy Motors’s Denis Lavant, Betty Blue’s Beatrice Dalle, César Award winner Tcheky Karyo, and punk godfather Iggy Pop, Morning Star tells the hallucinatory story of a small circus company, beset by rivalry, as its members set up camp beside the North Sea... more
  • Mother, I Love You

    Mother, I Love You

    Latvia , 2013 , 83 min. Twelve-year-old Raimonds’s time alone while his mother is at work leads him to dabble in petty crime. Janis Nords’s striking film about a boy on the edge of adolescence whose web of lies begins to unravel won top prizes at Berlin and LAFF, and is on track for an Oscar nomination... more
  • My Naked Diary

    My Naked Diary

    Czech Republic , 2012 , 90 min. Based on a best-selling novel by 17-year-old Johana Rubinova, My Naked Diary tells Johana’s bittersweet story as she navigates new love and heartbreak, matters of paternity, and the adult problems of her finely sketched circle of friends... more
  • Naked Harbour

    Naked Harbour

    Finland , 2012 , 123 min. Director Aku Louhimies creates a series of parallel stories taking place in a Helsinki neighborhood during one winter week. An episodic film with intertwined stories about families and individuals, children and adults, Naked Harbour is, at its base, a film about needing to be loved.... more
  • Northwest

    Northwest

    Denmark , 2013 , 91 min. Micheal Noer follows his 2010 prison film R with a Danish drama following two brothers through the crime-ridden area of Northwest. Working for a big player, they are thrown into a dark world of drugs and prostitution, and must decide which bonds are stronger, family's or crime's.... more
  • Papusza

    Papusza

    Poland , 2013 , 131 min. This black-and-white period biopic depicts the life of Bronislawa Wajs, the Roma poetess known as “Papusza” (“Doll” in Romani). Raised in closed Roma society, she breaks barriers by becoming a poet, but suffers the consequences when she is shunned by her clan... more
  • Ring of Water

    Ring of Water

    Italy , 2012 , 96 min. Two boxers prepare for a make-or-break bout as challenges continue to mount outside the ring. Shot and edited in an evocative vérité style, this candid Sicilian-set drama provides a perceptive look into the everyday struggles of Italy’s multi-ethnic working poor... more
  • Sarah Prefers to Run

    Sarah Prefers to Run

    Canada , 2013 , 97 min. Offered a running scholarship at a top university, Sarah ditches her unsupportive mom and moves away to college with her friend Antoine. The pair decide to marry to qualify for benefits, but Sarah has only one passion: to run. Chloe Robichaud’s film debuted at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival... more
  • Sex, Drugs & Taxation

    Sex, Drugs & Taxation

    Denmark , 2013 , 110 min. An ultra-horny tourism mogul and a genius revolutionary lawyer team up to rock Denmark in the decadent 1960s. Based on “real and unreal” events, this biopic lets us watch as the two scare a gorilla with an erection, crusade for tax evasion, hold sex contests on TV, and savor LSD... more
  • To the Woods

    To the Woods

    Czech Republic , 2012 , 110 min. Residing with her persecuted New Age parents on the outskirts of a rural village, pubescent, nymph-like Anyna forges a relationship with a local ranger. Set in a semi-fantastical forest, the enchanting To the Woods is a comic celebration of Bohemia’s surviving flora and fauna... more
  • A Touch of Sin X

    A Touch of Sin X

    China , 2013 , 125 min. The Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for Best Foreign Feature Film Winner A masterpiece, director Jia Zhangke’s fluid, four-part survey is a conceptually complete, startlingly violent look at life on China’s margins. Moving from the snowy north to the subtropical south, Jia adapts the martial-arts... more
  • Walesa. Man of Hope

    Walesa. Man of Hope

    Poland , 2013 , 128 min. From celebrated director Andrzej Wajda comes Walesa. Man of Hope, a no-holds-barred portrait of former dockworker, Solidarity founder, Polish president, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa. The docudrama is Poland’s Oscar submission for best foreign-language film... more
  • Warriors

    Warriors

    Netherlands , 2013 , 50 min. Part of a Dutch television series inspired by true crimes, this dark portrayal of a doomed couple—he an abusive addict, she the desperate damsel in distress—was directed by Mijke de Jong, a longtime festival regular and SDFF 35 tribute recipient... more
  • The Weight of Elephants

    The Weight of Elephants

    Denmark , 2013 , 83 min. Ostracized by his entire world, young Adrian is haunted by news of three abducted kids in a neighboring town. Coincidentally, Nicole, resembling one of the missing, moves in next-door piquing his curiosity. Together they help each other cope with abandonment and isolation... more
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