Want to watch the best of the best movies? This year’s International Film Festival in Bratislava hosted fantastic movies from across the globe. I was lucky to attend 15 films, ranging from feature films to low-budget documentaries.
Oddly enough, picking a Top 5 was not very difficult. Even stranger, 3 of the 5 are French. I am not so into death and violence, so you might notice a emphasis on some of the lighter choices of the festival selection.
Here’s my list, my thoughts, and my “watch with” recommendations.
Simply put, Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) is adorable, out of control, obedient, rebellious, loving, brave, and an all together badass all at once. Besides her extraordinary debut, I probably rank this at the top because I am fond of apocalyptic themes and this post-sea level rise/Louisiana levees/Katrina-style storm setting fit the bill.
More than renewing my motivation to put together a survival kit and buy a rowboat, Beasts of the Southern Wild stimulated my imagination and boosted my hope for a non-industrial humanity. The cajun music and zydeco guaranteed my sustained good mood and general enjoyment of this imaginative film and remarkable cast.
This is an upbeat film you could watch with just about anyone. Not necessarily macho or romantic, this is one you should watch with the family.
After a weekend full of chopped-up bodies, dying elderly couples, and political corruption, Sexual Chronicles of a French Family is above all a feel-good movie. Felt so good in fact, I noticed a significant increase in the room temperature less than mid-way through this very naked film.
Otherwhere described as a “barrage of nude encounters,” directors Barr and Arnold take a specific socially critical approach to modern society’s concealment of their obvious sexual knowledge. Jean Marc Barr attended the festival and spoke after the film about their intentions. The attempt these filmmakers to assume some responsibility for the presentation of sexual acts is in response to their opinion that the current domination of the porn industry is destructive and violent. Women are objectified and sex is profane. It is their hope to present sex as most people experience it, a joyful and loving part of life.
The film has been criticized for over emphasizing sex as the singular defining characteristic of the characters, but it is my opinion that the story they wish to tell is well presented and their message understandable.
Most of the cast consists of new talent, and their trust in the directors and identification with the story is evident in their honest, identifiable, bare-all performances.
Perhaps watching this movie with your family might feel uncomfortable, but in the least it will ignite interesting conversation.
I mentioned Amour in my festival season wrap-up and am glad I had the chance to see it. I love old people. For me nothing is cuter than a grandpa. So I am pre-dispositioned to favor this one.
As the winner of the Palm d’Ore, I came in with high expectations for Amour. I was sure not to read too much about the plot so I could remain surprised by the storyline and indeed I quickly got caught up in the story Haneke told. What sticks with me most is how precisely the characters portrayed their social positions and how thoroughly those positions structured their world views and influenced their behaviors. The fact that this was a palpale element of the story is due to a combination of excellent writing, direction, and of course nods to the acting talents of Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva.
The story has a rather gradual pace, but the film is engaging and relevant throughout. I recommend to watch this on the couch with a good friend.
This well written and well translated movie had me laughing from start to finish. My biggest hats off to this first-time director.
English Vinglish is fresh. Its themes are relatable for anyone who has traveled abroad in this globalized world or have tried to speak a second language. This is new ground that hasn’t been very much explored in film to this point, and Shinde did it with such a gut-bustingly funny, yet gentle touch. Shinde and actress Sridevi managed to bring deeper themes through in this otherwise light film.
English Vinglish centers on and follows actress Sridevi, as it should, as she struggles to re-identify herself and find a respected position within her family. Complimented by beautiful costuming, Sridevi is exquisite and charming in this film and one glance at her Wikipedia page tells you how widespread appreciation for this comeback actress is.
My recommendation is that everyone watch this movie. Watch it alone, with friends, on a date, with family…watch it anyway you can. It is a movie that will make you laugh, and has turned me on to an entire new world of movies. Sridevi’s past and future work, as well as Shinde’s future work, are certainly making it on to my Watch Later list.
This movie beautifully portrays young love. It also brings to painful awareness all the fears of trusting young love that I personally harbor. Fears I was not aware of until I found myself identifying with the protagonist in ways that leave me feeling first stingingly speechless, then specifically depressed, and now melancholic. The final scene, an exterior shot of a single-family house with voiced over narration, was at once conclusive and haunting.
I recommend this movie, with conditions. Not to speak much of the story, I will say this is the type of movie that has the potential to stay with you, speaking to its recent critical acclaim. It’s not a movie for a first date, or a movie I wish I had seen with my boyfriend. To experience it alone, as a young woman, I was able to relate to the movie without social considerations. Perhaps this is how I would suggest you view this movie. Alone, with a bottle of wine ready and time to contemplate in silence at the end, to bring out the full flavor.
Ms. Émilie Dequenne deserves the highest of praise for her incredible portrayal of this tragic young lady.
Best Documentary - Five Broken Cameras, directed by Guy Davidi and Emad Burnat
When Emad Burnat bought his first camera to witness his fourth son’s early life, he had no idea that he, his family, and his village would soon become part of the original Palestinian resistance against the settlement of Israelis in their area.
Without being overtly political, Five Broken Cameras offers an incredibly personal and unique look at the beginnings of this situation which is more relevant today than ever.
I recommend this documentary for anyone who is interested in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict regardless of the position you take on it.
Winners of IFF Bratislava and other notable movies from the festival include:
- La Sirga, directed by William Vega
- Epilogue, directed by Amir Manor
- Oh Boy!, directed by Jan Ole Gerster
- Beyond the Hills, directed by Cristian Mungiu
- Bliss, directed by Doris Dörrie
-Christy from your SynopsiTV team