Drive My Car

Drive My Car

In this top Oscar contender, Chekhov and Murakami merge in an erotic love story that survives death, in Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s long, measured, ultimately mesmerizing examination of the human soul.

No Land’s Man

No Land’s Man

Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays a pathological liar whose romance with an Australian girl unveils a horrifying backstory of racism in Mostofa Sarwar Farooki’s genre-bending pleaser.

Europa

Europa

An immersive, sensorial plunge into a young Iraqi refugee’s desperation as he evades capture by anti-immigration vigilantes in a Bulgarian forest, filmed with taut suspense and anchored by a stand-out performance from Adam Ali.

Ascension

Ascension

Jessica Kingdon’s prize-winning, Oscar-shortlisted documentary Ascension is a disjointed but fascinating portrait of contemporary China as consumer capitalist superpower.

Zinder

Zinder

Aicha Macky’s superb documentary about the impoverished citizens of Zinder, in the Republic of Niger, bends towards compassion for a neglected people.

Words of Negroes

Words of Negroes

Workers in an outdated sugar cane factory in Guadeloupe read from the transcripts of an 1842 trial against a slave owner in Sylvaine Dampierre’s powerful act of reclaiming history, Words of Negroes. Stunningly shot by Renaud Personnaz in crisp, vivid images, the film...

May God Be With You

May God Be With You

The act of exile is never a single-generation event; its ever-mutating ramifications shift down the family tree, undergoing a change as each generation grapples with questions of identity and belonging. Given that the person who flees their country often rejects...

Marx Can Wait

Marx Can Wait

The most fascinating aspect of Marco Bellocchio’s guilt-streaked revisitation of the suicide of his twin brother in 1968 is the insight it offers into the Italian master’s creative font–his own family.

Rupture

Rupture

The unsettled protagonists of Hamzah Jamjoom’s “Rupture” seem to be literally pulled through past, present and future in this Italian-inspired thriller in which a woman’s sanity is disturbed by her pregnancy and a malevolent concierge (played by Billy Zane) with his own unsavory baggage.

Communion

Communion

In his exploration of a man’s descent into madness during the present pandemic, director-actor Nejib Belkadhi makes a rare of-the-moment drama, inflected with humor and surrealism, that captures our unease in ways likely to outlast COVID’s grip on our psyches.

The Exam

The Exam

Cheating on a high school exam for a good cause gives top Iraqi Kurdish writer and director Shawkat Amin Korki (‘Memories on Stone’) a fertile moral field to examine the traps surrounding female empowerment.

Flee

Flee

Denmark’s shortlisted Oscar contender Flee is a warmly personal animated coming-of-age documentary about an Afghan refugee coming to terms with his sexuality and painful family history.

Huda’s Salon

Huda’s Salon

Hany Abu-Assad’s best work toys with questions of moral absolutes, yet his dissatisfying “Huda’s Salon” is hamstrung by a weak script and ill-advised editing choices that fail to build characters or tension, despite an interesting premise.

Route Ten

Route Ten

What on the surface appears to be a formulaic road movie thriller about a couple of siblings tormented by a white Jeep on a desert road turns into a surprising critique of the Saudi old guard in which the younger generation declares its liberation from toxic patriarchy.

Becoming

Becoming

An omnibus of women-directed Saudi shorts that acts as a calling card for the diversity of rising talent in the Kingdom, offering five largely strong entries highlighting the ways women negotiate traditional female and non-female spaces.

West Side Story

West Side Story

Spielberg uses every tool in his toolbox for this dynamic but emotionally limp restaging of the classic musical, whose themes he underscores for the Trump era.

Radiograph of a Family

Radiograph of a Family

Director Firouzeh Khosrovani’s own parents embody the lacerating split of Iran into modern liberals and Islamic fundamentalists after the 1978 revolution, in a personal doc of startling clarity and impact.

Hit the Road

Hit the Road

Voted best film at the London BFI festival and Mar del Plata, an offbeat Iranian roadie launches the filmmaking career of Jafar Panahi’s son Panah in style.

The Stranger

The Stranger

Palestine’s 2022 Oscar submission is a brooding story of lives in limbo in the Golan Heights, stunningly shot and wrenching in its moving evocation of a man mired in self-loathing and paralyzed by the physical and existential no-man’s land resulting in the Israeli occupation and the disaster in Syria.

A Second Life

A Second Life

A well-calibrated debut with a fine central performance, weaving together notions of class and familial betrayal when an impoverished mother sells her son’s kidney to a well-off family in exchange for a better life.

Tomorrow

Tomorrow

In the bitter drama of a human rights lawyer struggling with mental illness, well-known actor Dhafer L’Abidine directs, produces and stars in a passionate plea to Tunisians to reclaim their revolution.

The Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog

Jane Campion’s bold cinematic interpretation of Thomas Savage’s novel about cattle ranchers in 1920’s Montana is a sensuous, aestheticized Netflix release, whose meticulous detail and gay subplot are admirable but a little tiring.

Authentik

Authentik

France’s most famous rap duo gets an energized if standardized biopic in this first of two projects to tackle the legacy of hip-hop group Suprême NTM.

Daughters of Abdulrahman

Daughters of Abdulrahman

Predictably stereotyped characterizations still deliver some enjoyable moments in this female empowerment story that unfortunately also plays to the region’s homophobia but will be a crowd-pleaser in the Arab world.

Dear Thomas

Dear Thomas

Director Andreas Kleinert’s prize-winning Cold War bio-drama Dear Thomas pays compelling but indulgent tribute to East German literary outlaw Thomas Brasch.

Children of the Mist

Children of the Mist

This disturbingly voyeuristic look at the ancient tradition of bride kidnappings, which happen at an astounding young age, won IDFA’s best director nod for Diem Ha Le.

Tonight’s Homework

Tonight’s Homework

Abbas Kiarostami’s trailblazing ‘Homework’ (1989) gets a brilliant update in a documentary that is equal parts hilarious and saddening in its portrayal of Iranian schoolkids.

When Pomegranates Howl

When Pomegranates Howl

With sensitivity and devastating last-scene irony, filmmaker and poet Granaz Moussavi cinematically embeds the viewer in children’s lives in the heart of war-torn Kabul, in Australia’s Oscar hopeful.

Ironland

Ironland

An outcry against man-made environmental disasters, tracking the long-term effects on the survivors of the biggest dam collapse in Brazil.

Nr. 10

Nr. 10

Dutch director Alex van Warmerdam takes darkly comic gloom to a new level with his audaciously weird tenth film, Nr. 10.

Isaac

Isaac

In his skillfully helmed first feature, Isaac (Izaokas), Lithuanian writer-director Jurgis Matulevicius delves into his country’s turbulent past under both Communism and Nazism, following a trio of friends in the 1960s whose lives are overshadowed by a massacre that...

Holy Emy

Holy Emy

A young Filipino immigrant in Greece with special healing powers is the focus of Araceli Lemos’ assured drama delving into questions of spirituality, belonging and sisterly bonds with a distinctively creepy edge.

Where Are We Headed?

Where Are We Headed?

The pitch of the documentary Where Are We Headed seems tailor-made for international festivals, as it offers a look at colourful and fascinating creatures from all layers of Russian society through the prism of the Moscow subway system. With a clearly defined space...

Sisterhood

Sisterhood

The hypocrisy of high school slut-shaming is the core theme of this strong feature debut boasting two exceptional performances and a layered script that’s distinctly Macedonian but with international resonance.

Vera Dreams of the Sea

Vera Dreams of the Sea

Kosovo’s Kaltrina Krasniqi makes an impressive feature debut with this beautifully measured drama about a once-compliant 60-something widow who attempts to deflect the malevolent traditional patriarchy in a nation on the edge of change.

Post Mortem

Post Mortem

Filled with enough gyrating dead corpses to cast the next Zack Snyder movie several times over, director Péter Bergendy’s Hungarian horror flick Post Mortem is high on gore and jump scares, low on convincing storytelling and originality. It displays a solid level of...

Titane

Titane

A gloriously extreme Oscar submission, French writer-director Julia Ducournau’s prize-winning erotic thriller about a gender-blurring serial killer with a fetish for sex with cars is funny, fast and furious.

Io sto bene

Io sto bene

In Io sto bene, Luxembourg’s submission to the Oscars, Donato Rotunno movingly chronicles how present-day Europe has become more diverse and tolerant, but still presents obstacles for new arrivals and leaves the elderly isolated and lonely. In one eloquent scene, an...

White Building

White Building

Kavich Neang ends his feature debut White Building with a beautiful shot of his protagonist Samnang (Piseth Chhun) looking out enigmatically upon a Cambodian countryside cloaked in a darkening blue as the light gradually fades away. It’s a deeply satisfying image,...

The Great Basin

The Great Basin

Few people outside eastern Nevada will have even heard of White Pine County, a rural area on the border with Utah that’s home to just over 10,000 inhabitants. If it has any especially distinguishing characteristics outside ones stereotypically associated with rural...

Krai

Krai

Though it does not quite hold together, this Dok Leipzig premiere is a frequently fascinating docu-fiction debut from Austria-based director Aleksey Lapin.

A Bay

A Bay

The city of Rio de Janeiro lies on the western shore of Guanabara Bay, the location of Murilo Salles's hymn to working class toil, A Bay (Uma baía). Salles excelled as cinematographer in such Brazilian film classics as Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands and has directed...

Clara Sola

Clara Sola

Costa Rica dancer Wendy Chinchilla Araya gives an eerie, riveting perf but it only goes so far in this unstructured tale of magic realism and female power from debuting director Nathalie Alvarez Mesen.

Amira

Amira

A great deal of attention is about to accrue to Egyptian director Mohamed Diab, who’s just finished shooting on the Marvel franchise series Moon Knight, slated for release sometime in 2022. That’s a good thing, because it likely means his Venice premiered...

Captains of Za’atari

Captains of Za’atari

Everything about Ali El Arabi’s Captains of Za’atari seems custom-made to appeal to a broad public. After all, who doesn’t love an underdog story, this one involving a couple of Syrian teens in a Jordanian refugee camp whose skills at football (European; soccer for...

Dashcam

Dashcam

Controversial LA musician Annie Hardy plays an obnoxious American tourist battling demonic forces in the English countryside in director Rob Savage’s profane, provocative, hilarious found-footage horror comedy Dashcam.

Olga

Olga

Being a professional gymnast at 15 is perhaps already too much to ask of any teenager. But for the titular protagonist of Olga, the Swiss feature film Oscar submission, training to be a top-level athlete is almost the least of her worries. Olga is a Ukrainian gymnast...

Sanremo

Sanremo

You can only fall in love with someone for the first time once… unless you are in the same position as one of the protagonists of Sanremo, Slovenia’s Oscar hopeful in the International Feature Film category. In this whisper of a film, an elderly man and woman living...

Life of Ivanna

Life of Ivanna

Documaker Renato Borrayo Serrano offers eye-opening glimpses into the harrowing and chaotic life of a modern Nenets woman that overturn stereotypes about Arctic life.

Murina

Murina

‘Murina’, which won this year’s Camera d’Or in Cannes for first-time director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic, extols female rebellion but walks a dangerous tightrope connecting the male gaze with the body of a rebellious 17-year-old girl.

Eyimofe

Eyimofe

Chuko and Ari Esiri’s Eyimofe, which is competing at Fespaco, combines two semi-overlapping stories of Nigerians on the edge. The first story is titled Spain, the second Italy. The idea in both titles is destination. In both stories, the Nigerian characters have come...

Eiffel

Eiffel

You don’t need to hold a doctorate in Freudian psychology, or to have labored through all 750 pages of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, to know that big towers built by ambitious men usually are, in one way or another, substitutes for their penises. And yet, in the highly...

Cruz

Cruz

Teresa Camou Guerrero’s poetic, heartbreaking documentary follows an indigenous Mexican family displaced by violent drug traffickers who struggle to return to their homelands.

ear for eye

ear for eye

James Bond star Lashana Lynch joins a large ensemble cast in debbie tucker green’s powerful stage-to-screen drama for the Black Lives Matter era.

Swallow

Swallow

Nollywood’s most famous director has made a period piece for Netflix that, while good to look and with all the right politics for today, doesn’t quite come alive and yet stays on too long.

Belfast

Belfast

Jamie Dornan, Judi Dench and Catriona Balfe co-star in Kenneth Branagh’s most personal film yet, an autobiographical drama drawn from his own childhood memories.

Kerr

Kerr

Turkish writer-director Tayfun Pirselimoglu’s prize-winning thriller Kerr is a surreal small-town murder mystery with echoes of Kafka and Lynch.

Mariner of the Mountains

Mariner of the Mountains

A beautifully textured travel diary disguised as a highly personal quest — or is it the other way around? Either way, Mariner of the Mountains (Marinheiro das Montanhas) from director Karim Aïnouz — whose swoony feminist melodrama The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão...

No Time to Die

No Time to Die

The 25th James Bond film is bloated and plodding in places, but it ultimately delivers the goods and sends Daniel Craig out in a blaze of glory.

The Auschwitz Report

The Auschwitz Report

Slovakia’s former Oscars submission recreates the courageous real-life exploits of two Jewish prisoners who escaped from Auschwitz and alerted the world to the horrors of the Holocaust.

Black Box

Black Box

A good pitch, such as the one behind the French aviation thriller Black Box (Boîte noire), can only travel so far when the characters provide little fuel for the story. At some point, usually toward the middle of the second act, the movie stutters, stalls and then...

I Want to Talk About Duras

I Want to Talk About Duras

In her many novels, plays and movies, author and filmmaker Marguerite Duras would often make herself a character in the stories she was telling, mixing autobiography and fiction into a seamless blend that the French called autofiction. It was writing with a capital I,...

Django & Django

Django & Django

Quentin Tarantino explains his love for Sergio Corbucci’s Spaghetti Westerns and reveals a lot about his own work in the process in Luca Rea’s irresistible, eye-opening documentary.

Maixabel

Maixabel

Award-winning Spanish filmmaker Icair Bollain chillingly dramatizes the real-life encounter between a strong-minded widow and the repentant Basque terrorists who murdered her husband.

One Second

One Second

Zhang Yimou ironically salutes the movies and their fervent audiences during China’s Cultural Revolution, in a stylistic pastiche that drags a little.

Full Time

Full Time

Life is more than a little hectic for the protagonist of Full Time (Temps plein), a single mother of two who’s trying to keep down one job while trying to find another as traffic strikes wreak further havoc on her ability to juggle all her duties. This naturalistic...

Nobody Has to Know

Nobody Has to Know

A burly Belgian farmhand working in Scotland loses his memory in Nobody Has to Know, the fifth feature as a director from Belgian actor-director Bouli Lanners (The Giants, Eldorado). Though hushed and sober in tone, this unusual love story has several unexpected...

Silent Land

Silent Land

A wealthy young Polish couple are forced to confront their own moral bankruptcy during a luxury Italian vacation in Silent Land, Aga Woszczyńska’s elegantly bleak exploration of First World Problems.

Rhino

Rhino

Ukrainian activist and former political prisoner Oleh Sentsov directs a hard-boiled gangster tale set in the 1990s after the collapse of the Soviet Union, whose over-the-top violence is starkly undermotivated.

Venice 2021: The Verdict

Venice 2021: The Verdict

When Roberto Cicutto, president of La Biennale di Venezia, admitted on stage at the 78th awards ceremony that the last two Venice Film Festivals came close to not happening, he put his finger on the miracle on the Lido. A huge, unwieldy Italian festival got through...

Miracle

Miracle

There are two movies in Miracle, Bogdan George Apetri’s uneven, beautifully shot drama divided between a young religious novice’s ordeal when seeking an abortion and the police investigation that follows her brutal rape. The first part, characterized by an admirable...

Another World

Another World

In 2015, craggy-faced actor Vincent Lindon won the Cannes Best Actor nod for his role as a laid-off employee in The Measure of a Man, directed by Stéphane Brizé in their third collaboration. In 2018, they reunited again for At War, in which Lindon played a man...

On the Job: The Missing 8

On the Job: The Missing 8

A Venice competition slot seems like a strange place for On the Job: The Missing 8, a punishingly long corruption thriller from Filipino genre master Erik Matti that’s soon to be seen as an HBO Asia Original six-episode mini-series. Following on – but not actually a...

Encounter

Encounter

Riz Ahmed stars in this stylish sci-fi chase thriller as a troubled military veteran battling his own demons as well as extra-terrestrial enemies.

America Latina

America Latina

Elio Germano plays a mild-mannered dentist who discovers a girl is tied up in his basement in Damiano and Fabio D’Innocenzo’s (‘Favolacce’) absurdist psychological thriller.

Leave No Traces

Leave No Traces

The first shot of Leave No Traces may make you think you’re at a retrospective of one of the great Polish filmmakers from forty or more years ago, so perfect is the recreation. It takes place in a shadowy Warsaw bedroom in 1983, and the stillness, warm tonalities and...

The Catholic School

The Catholic School

Stefano Mordini’s unconvincing ensemble drama searches for the origins of evil that provoked the Circeo massacre of two girls in 1975 and rattled upper class Rome.

Captain Volkonogov Escaped

Captain Volkonogov Escaped

In a vividly dystopic 1938 Leningrad under Stalin’s Great Purge, a young NKVD torturer tries to save his soul, in co-directors Natasha Merkulova and Aleksey Chupov’s high-energy parable ‘Captain Volkonogov Escaped’.

Freaks Out

Freaks Out

There’s a reaction shot in Mel Brooks’ The Producers when the open-mouthed audience watches the “Springtime for Hitler” number in shocked disbelief, amazed that something so crass and campy could have made it on Broadway. The scene is hilarious because Brooks knows...

107 Mothers

107 Mothers

Slovak documentary director Peter Kerekes (Velvet Terrorists) makes the jump into the (semi-)fictional realm with 107 Mothers (Cenzorka), which explores the world of mothers behind bars through the stories of several female inmates and a warden at an Odessa jail....

Reflection

Reflection

Ukrainian filmmaker Valentyn Vasyanovych follows up his Venice Horizons-winning ‘Atlantis’ with ‘Reflection’ (‘Vidblysk’), a perturbing if less incisive true horror tale of his country’s war with Russia.

Madeleine Collins

Madeleine Collins

Leading a double life is no longer the dominion of spies in French director Antoine Barraud’s mystery-cum-character study Madeleine Collins, in which a woman tries to keep two families with kids going in two different countries at the same time. It’s a tough balancing...

The Box

The Box

The titular box that young Mexican teen Hatzin (newcomer Hatzin Navarrete) picks up containing his father’s remains may look like a simple mini-casket, but the emotional baggage that goes with it is far weightier than what’s inside. In the third and final installment...

Happening

Happening

A student in 1960s provincial France has to deal with an unwanted pregnancy in a very hostile environment in Happening, the intimate but hard-hitting second feature from filmmaker Audrey Diwan. This adaptation of Annie Ernaux’s semi-autobiographical novel is...

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon

Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon

A psychotic girl with lethal powers walks anywhere she pleases at night in Ana Lily Amirpour’s occasionally amusing but mostly treadless fantasy, ‘Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon.’

Lost Illusions

Lost Illusions

There’s a shot, quite late into Xavier Giannoli’s lengthy adaptation of Balzac’s Lost Illusions, that sees the protagonist, a broke young writer, get out of bed naked after having slept with a former lover, a lady from the provincial aristocracy. It is crystal clear...

Sundown

Sundown

The controversy stirred up by Michel Franco’s previous film ‘New Order’ will be partly placated and partly reignited in ‘Sundown’, the story of English tourists (Tim Roth and Charlotte Gainsbourg) in Mexico.

Official Competition

Official Competition

Two titans of acting, one a highly esteemed cerebral actor and the other a popular Hollywood star, are cast opposite each other for the first time by an oddball director in Official Competition (Competencia oficial). This frothy Venice competition title casts Penélope...

Il Buco

Il Buco

The symbiotic relationship between people of the land and their environment is the basis of all Michelangelo Frammartino’s work, most strikingly seen in his 2010 second feature Le Quattro Volte, a surprise international arthouse success. His hallmarks – unfussy,...

Last Night in Soho

Last Night in Soho

A girl’s exhilarating mind-trip through swinging London of the Sixties turns wild and woolly and full of zombies in ‘Last Night in Soho’, Edgar Wright’s multi-genre treat, co-starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Thomasin McKenzie.

Atlantide

Atlantide

Bored and blustery youths looking for something that makes them feel rebelliously alive is a storytelling cliché almost as old as the movies. So it is particularly exciting to see a film like the sun-blasted, water-sprayed spectacle that is Atlantide, which takes this...

Dune

Dune

There must be a reason Frank Herbert’s sci fi masterwork Dune defies cinematic adaptation, the latest attempt being director Denis Villeneuve’s attentively lensed but humorless actioner aimed at teen fans of the book and Timothée Chalamet.

Trenches

Trenches

The dog-weary Ukrainian soldiers in Donbas who are the protagonists of the documentary Trenches (Tranchées) keep digging new ditches and foxholes. “If you want to stay alive, dig!” one of them says. The droningly repetitive nature of trench warfare — dig and wait,...

Spencer

Spencer

There’s an extraordinary scene early on in Spencer in which Princess Diana, played by Kristen Stewart, rips off her pearl necklace during a Christmas-Eve dinner with the royal family, sending pearls everywhere. She hates the necklace because her husband, Prince...

Karmalink

Karmalink

Jake Wachtel’s Critics Week opener in Venice is a brash hybrid of near-future sci fi and timeless Buddhist beliefs in reincarnation.

The Card Counter

The Card Counter

One of Paul Schrader’s most complex and profound reflections on personal traumatic memory bleeds into the American tragedy of Abu Ghraib in an anguishing drama starring Oscar Isaac, Tye Sheridan and Tiffany Haddish.

A Tale of Love and Desire

A Tale of Love and Desire

There are so many good ideas in Leyla Bouzid’s second feature A Tale of Love and Desire, so many rarely-addressed issues deserving attention, that it’s especially frustrating how faintly the sparks fly between her two main characters, university classmates at the...

Parallel Mothers

Parallel Mothers

Where do you go as a laureled filmmaker heading into the fifth decade of your career after making a semi-autobiographical masterpiece like Pain and Glory? For Pedro Almodóvar, the answer is Parallel Mothers (Madres paralelas), a film that takes some familiar...

Promises

Promises

"I reject the cynical view that politics is inevitably or even usually dirty business,” Richard Nixon said in a televised address more than a year into the Watergate scandal. It is the kind of quote that French director Thomas Kruithof (The Eavesdropper) might have...

Runner

Runner

This cat-and-mouse chase thriller offers an opaque commentary on love as a form of psychosis and the paranoid political mood in post-Soviet Lithuania,

Feathers

Feathers

The distinctive vision that Omar El Zohairy brought to his two prize-wining shorts is much in evidence in his meticulously crafted absurdist feature debut Feathers. It’s amusing to imagine how he pitched the project at the start, given the narrative’s unlikely...

The Staffroom

The Staffroom

A newly appointed school counselor in Croatia tries to keep her head above water in the shark tank that is The Staff Room (Zbornica),  an auspicious if somewhat meandering feature debut from filmmaker Sonja Tarokic. Less a character study than the portrait of a...

Onoda — 10,000 Nights in the Jungle

Onoda — 10,000 Nights in the Jungle

Onoda Hiroo was the name of the famous Japanese soldier who refused to believe that WWII had ended, so he remained in hiding on a sparsely populated island in the Philippines for almost three decades. His story of endurance, as impressive as it is insane and as...

The Stronghold

The Stronghold

Over the past decade or so, the French city of Marseille has worked hard to clean up its image, gentrifying a significant area around its touristy Vieux-Port, opening a brand new museum and conference center — both architectural marvels — and attracting a swatch of...

Our Men

Our Men

Claire Denis sublimely explored the sweaty, dust-coated bodies of French legionnaires in one of her best movies, Beau Travail, which focused on a platoon of lonesome fighters marooned at a remote outpost in East Africa. In Our Men (Mon légionnaire), the second feature...

A New Old Play

A New Old Play

Director Qiu Jiongjiong uses a traditional theater troupe to spin out three long hours of dreamy reflections on Chinese history in the 20th century.