Reviews

Written by the world’s top critics, reviews in The Film Verdict are an authoritative guide to the most important new movies appearing on the international scene. In this section you can search for and find more than one thousand reviews that have appeared in The Film Verdict since it began in September 2021. The reviewers are a diverse group based all over the globe: Deborah Young and Jay Weissberg (Rome), Stephen Dalton and Ben Nicholson (London), Boyd Van Hoeij (Luxembourg), Jordan Mintzer (Paris), Clarence Tsui (Hong Kong), Oris Aigbokhaevbolo (Lagos), Patricia Boero (Punta del Este), Lucy Virgen (Guadalajara), Carmen Gray (Berlin), Kevin Jagernauth (Montreal), and Alonso Duralde (Los Angeles).

Locarno 77 Festival Selection Announced

Locarno 77 Festival Selection Announced

The official selection of the 77th edition of the Locarno Film Festival has been announced. For eight decades, Locarno has been at the forefront of the international festival circuit, premiering films by both established auteurs and rapidly rising talents. Among the...

Fly Me to the Moon

Fly Me to the Moon

The space race is back in the peppy, bouncy ‘Fly Me to the Moon’, but a sparky face-off between NASA launch director Channing Tatum and marketing wizard Scarlett Johansson can’t disguise an outdated feeling.

Cabo Negro

Cabo Negro

In writer-director Abdellah Taïa’s ode to youthful rebellion ‘Cabo Negro’, two heartbroken queer Moroccans take refuge in a luxury villa to confront old traumas and share solidarity.

Tropicana

Tropicana

Director Omer Tobi’s debut feature ‘Tropicana’ is a relentlessly dark but grimly compelling portrait of repressed lives and sexual outlaws in a small Israeli desert town.

Xoftex

Xoftex

Writer-director Noaz Deshe’s ambitious horror-tinged drama about the surreal absurdism of life in a refugee camp, ‘Xoftex’ is messy and muddled but commendably orginal.

WINNERS OF KVIFF EASTERN PROMISES

WINNERS OF KVIFF EASTERN PROMISES

KVIFF Eastern Promises, the festival's Industry section and film market’s mission is bridging the gap between talented filmmakers and their potential co-production partners, festivals, and audiences. “This year has once again brought a diverse selection of strong...

Celebration

Celebration

Full of atmospheric gloom, Bruno Ankovic’s powerful, decades-spanning feature debut shows how wartime violence and desperation seep through a Croatian village like a contagion.

Windless

Windless

A son returns to Bulgaria from abroad to settle the affairs of his estranged father in Windless, a confined drama about confronting the past and the act of memorial.

Lapilli

Lapilli

Overcome with grief at the sudden loss of her grandparents, filmmaker Paula Durinova’s expressive documentary Lapilli finds solace in the geological formations of the Aral Sea.

Real

Real

Former political prisoner turned army commander Oleh Sentsov captures a raw slice of Ukraine frontline combat in his accidental “found footage” war documentary ‘Real’.

Panopticon

Panopticon

George Sikharulidze’s debut on masculinity and identity in today’s Georgia is an unusual coming-of-age drama alive with ideas and a bold political imagination.

Banzo

Banzo

In the setting of a Portuguese plantation on Principe in the early 20th century, Margarida Cardoso crafts a haunting and unsettling portrait of colonial destruction in the form of Banzo.

The Strangers’ Case

The Strangers’ Case

Confronting the world refugee crisis head-on in highly dramatic scenes that refuse to let go, Brandt Andersen’s etched-with-an-axe ‘The Strangers’ Case’ is a human disaster movie that passionately describes a chain reaction of real-life horror.

Palazzina Laf

Palazzina Laf

Italian actor-director Michele Riondino transforms a notorious real-life case of mass workplace bullying into a boisterous social satire in his lively debut feature ‘Palazzina Laf’.

A Quiet Place: Day One

A Quiet Place: Day One

Not much here that the earlier two films didn’t already establish more effectively; its only depth comes from Lupita Nyong’o’s intuitive lead performance.

My Way

My Way

The colourful back story behind Frank Sinatra’s signature song ‘My Way’ gets the all-star biopic treatment in this slight but engaging French documentary.

Location Flashback: Munich (2001)

Location Flashback: Munich (2001)

In this scene, having stayed behind to collect the shell casing from the first killing, Clara (Claran Hinds) arrives at the rendezvous point at an outdoor café in Rome where he meets Avner (Eric Bana) and the rest of the team. Munich was released by Universal Pictures...

Negu Hurbilak

Negu Hurbilak

At the end of the Basque armed conflict, a young woman waits to flee across the border in ‘Negu Hurbilak’, an atmospheric and rigorously shot but mystifying tale that leaves too much to the viewer’s imagination.

Life

Life

Uncompromising Turkish low-budget auteur Zeki Demirkubuz ruminates on toxic masculinity, ingrained sexism and existential despair in his ponderous but sporadically absorbing drama ‘Life’.

Location Flashback: Gladiator (2000)

Location Flashback: Gladiator (2000)

In this scene, Praetorian guards, sent by Emperor Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), surround Maximus Decimus Meridius (Russell Crowe) after his excape in an attempt to reunite with his former servant Cicero (Tommy Flanagan) as part of a plot to over Emperor Commodus....

Backstage

Backstage

Mysterious personal dramas unfold off-stage when a modern dance company has a bus break-down traveling to Marrakech in Tunisian codirectors Afef Ben Mahmoud and Khalil Benkirane’s intelligently avant-garde on-the-road drama, ‘Backstage’.

Location Flashback: Midnight Express (1978)

Location Flashback: Midnight Express (1978)

In this scene, Billy Hayes (Brad Davis) dressed in a guard’s uniform and after killing the abusive guard Hamidou (Paul Smith) walks out of the Turkish prison after spending five years locked up for dealing drugs. The prison drama was directed by Alan Parker and...

Dear Jassi

Dear Jassi

An engaging Romeo and Juliet romance between rich and poor Punjabis slowly reveals its darker side in Tarsem Singh Dhandwar’s laid-back but ultimately devastating social critique. ‘Dear Jassi’.

Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams

Dutch-Bosnian director Ena Sendijarevic’s playful, surreal, stylish second feature ‘Sweet Dreams’ finds a rich seam of darkly absurd comedy in Europe’s murky colonial history.

Location Flashback Popeye (1980)

Location Flashback Popeye (1980)

In this scene, Popeye (Robin Williams) sends the local Taxman (Donald Moffat) down the shoot of the fishing dock after he tries to get Popeye to pay a tax for moving in after he moved out of Olive Oyl’s (Shelley Long) boarding house, and a baby tax for having Swee’Pea...

Location Flashback: Troy (2004)

Location Flashback: Troy (2004)

Filmed in Malta: In this scene, Achilles (Brad Pitt) walks along the coast of ‘Greece’ looking for his mother, the Sea Nymph Thetis (Julie Christie), in order to ask her advice about joining Odysseus (Sean Bean), the King of Ithaca, in the siege on Troy. The epic...

AVP Summit Challenges the Status Quo

AVP Summit Challenges the Status Quo

The third edition of Italy’s international Audiovisual Producers Summit (June 10-12, 2024) wrapped at the Altafiumara Resort & Spa last week. The AVP Summit is a three-day conference dedicated to the Italian and international entertainment industry with attendees...

Inside Out 2

Inside Out 2

This Pixar sequel brings its protagonist into puberty and examines, with humor and poignancy, the complicated process of building an identity.

Norah

Norah

Tawfik Alzaidi’s classically narrated, slow-burn drama ‘Norah’ is a tribute to art and artists in socially conservative societies like 1990s Saudi Arabia.

Ernest Cole: Lost and Found

Ernest Cole: Lost and Found

Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck (‘I Am Not Your Negro’) once again makes masterful use of the documentary form as a vehicle for social and political commentary in ‘Ernest Cole: Lost and Found’, an intense viewing experience that leaves its mark long after the last photo fades.

The Most Precious of Cargoes

The Most Precious of Cargoes

Michel Hazanavicius’s (‘The Artist’) long-cherished animation project ‘The Most Precious of Cargoes’, bowing in Cannes competition, nimbly combines a classic, grim fairy tale with the horrors of the Holocaust in a well-made but sentimental tale whose audience is unclear.

The Seed of the Sacred Fig

The Seed of the Sacred Fig

Dissident filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof denounces the bloody repression of protests by Iranian authorities and the Revolutionary Guard in ‘The Seed of the Sacred Fig’, his most angrily outspoken film yet.

Sister Midnight

Sister Midnight

A newly married Mumbai housewife unleashes her inner monster in writer-director Karan Kandhari’s stylish, punky, compellingly strange comedy thriller ‘Sister Midnight’.

All We Imagine As Light

All We Imagine As Light

Featuring nuanced performances from its leads, Payal Kapadia’s tender relationship drama ‘All We Imagine As Light’, about three women working in a Mumbai hospital, is the first Indian film to compete for the Palme d’Or in more than three decades.

Grand Tour

Grand Tour

 Another genre-bending fantasy from Portuguese director Miguel Gomes, ‘Grand Tour’ takes the viewer on a dreamy ride through colonial Asia in 1918, though the present day often pushes through the whimsical story of two characters chasing each other across Asia.  

To a Land Unknown

To a Land Unknown

Mahdi Fleifel’s masterful feature debut ‘To a Land Unknown’ marks a new chapter in Palestinian cinema with its harsh yet empathetic walk in the brutal world of being an Arab refugee in Greece.

Universal Language

Universal Language

Blending autobiographical elements with heartfelt homages to Iranian cinema, writer-director Matthew Rankin’s charmingly surreal comic fable ‘Universal Language’ reimagines Canada as a Farsi-speaking dreamland.

Viet and Nam

Viet and Nam

Bowing in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, Truong Minh Quy’s third feature ‘Viet and Nam’ leans more on innovative imagery and historical allegory than its underwritten story and characters.

Parthenope

Parthenope

In the lush ‘Parthenope’, which he has called his first “feminine epic”, Paolo Sorrentino captures the passion and decadence, the misery, tragedy and baroque riches of his native Naples.

Location flashback: Ronin (1998)

Location flashback: Ronin (1998)

In this scene: Sam (Robert De Niro) and Deirdre (Natascha McElhone) walk along the waterfront, posing as a touring husband and wife. to get a look at the area around the hotel where they plan to steal the suitcase. Ronin is a 1998 American action thriller directed by...

Anora

Anora

A Brooklyn lapdancer falls for a super-rich Russian playboy in ‘Tangerine’ and ‘Red Rocket’ director Sean Baker’s latest walk on the wild side, ‘Anora’.

The Shrouds

The Shrouds

Veteran cult Canadian director David Cronenberg channels personal feelings of grief, loss and enduring love into his latest underpowered but absorbingly weird techno-gothic thriller, ‘The Shrouds’.

Everybody Loves Touda

Everybody Loves Touda

With unconventional yet captivating storytelling, Nabil Ayoush’s ‘Everybody Loves Touda’ champions female empowerment through a young woman who is passionate about the traditional Moroccan folk music of Aita.

The Apprentice

The Apprentice

Ali Abbasi’s portrait of a young monster, ‘The Apprentice’, wisely chooses a humorous key in which to chronicle Donald Trump’s formative years as a businessman and how lawyer Roy Cohn helped his empire get its crooked start, though well-informed viewers will find nothing much new.

The Substance

The Substance

Demi Moore and Margaret Qualley co-star in French director Coralie Fargeat’s wild Cannes contender ‘The Substance’, a gloriously tasteless but finely crafted feminist body-horror fairy tale.

Armand

Armand

Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section showcases emerging Scandinavian talent with ‘Armand’, an enigmatic first film from Norway.

Limonov: The Ballad

Limonov: The Ballad

In ‘Limonov: The Ballad’, director Kirill Serebrennikov turns up the volume on his already explosive style (Petrov’s Flu), which is really the only way to recount the mad, violence-tinged rise of Russian poet and political extremist Eduard Limonov.

Caught by the Tides

Caught by the Tides

Re-shuffling footage from films he has shot over the last 23 years, Jia Zhang-ke places his awe-inspiring cinematic mastery on full display in ‘Caught by the Tides’, though its ravishing poetic beauty tends to obscure the story.

The Brink of Dreams

The Brink of Dreams

In ‘The Brink of Dreams’, Nada Riyadh and Ayman El Amir deliver a fierce, against-all-odds documentary about a group of young women artists in southern Egypt out to prove their independence as theater performers and independent women in a male-dominated society.

Location flashback: Mr. Bean’s Holiday (2007)

Location flashback: Mr. Bean’s Holiday (2007)

In this scene, after winning a raffle, Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson) finally reaches the beach in Cannes, fulfilling his dream after a long and roundabout journey to the south of France. Mr. Bean’s Holiday is a comedy movie released in 2007. It was directed by Steve...

Oh, Canada

Oh, Canada

The Richard Gere-Cannes starrer ‘Oh, Canada’ gives us good and bad Paul Schrader in its dry tautness and weirdly unsatisfactory ending.

Desert of Namibia

Desert of Namibia

Yuumi Kawai delivers a storm of a performance as a young bipolar woman struggling with Japan’s unspoken social norms in “Desert of Namibia”, Japanese filmmaker Yoko Yamanaka’s stunning sophomore effort.

The Invasion

The Invasion

Sergei Loznitsa follows up his landmark 2014 doc ‘Maidan’ with a more recent portrait showing the impact of Russian aggression on his country in ‘The Invasion’.

IF

IF

John Krasinski’s sledgehammer whimsy kills whatever charm this celebration of childhood imagination might have possessed.

Meeting with Pol Pot

Meeting with Pol Pot

Rithy Panh’s unnerving screen adaptation of U.S. war correspondent Elizabeth Becker’s real-life 1978 visit to Khmer Rouge-ruled Cambodia vaunts intense performances, a diverse visual palette and an ominous sound design.

Bird

Bird

In ‘Bird’ Andrea Arnold once again shows she has the magic keys – in this case Franz Rogowski’s piercingly tender bird-man, and Barry Keoghan’s manically affectionate drug-dealer dad — to extract drama, fantasy and authentic emotion from characters living on the lowest rungs of English society.

Furiosa

Furiosa

Fails to meet the impossible task of matching, let alone surpassing, its legendary predecessor, but George Miller’s action sequences still pack a punch, even when they reek of déjà vu.

The Second Act

The Second Act

Profilic French prankster Quentin Dupieux finds the funny side of cancel culture, AI and actorly vanity in his meta-comic Cannes film festival curtain-raiser ‘The Second Act’.

Location flashback: Rocketman (2019)

Location flashback: Rocketman (2019)

In this scene, Elton John (played by Taron Egerton), marks his continued efforts to gain control over his struggles with physical and mental health, performing on the beach in the music video for for his hit song “Im Still Standing". The video serves as a tribute to...

Microsoft Café launches at Majestic Beach

Microsoft Café launches at Majestic Beach

Microsoft, in partnership with the Marché du Film & Festival de Cannes, is launching a new, vibrant hub at the Majestic Beach, inviting festival and market attendees to immerse themselves in the the world of AI and the potential it holds for the film industry. During...

Location Flashback:  Paris Can Wait (2016)

Location Flashback: Paris Can Wait (2016)

In this scene, Anne Lockwood (Diane Lane), takes a last glance at the scenic French Riviera before heading to the Cannes Film Festival with her husband, a film producer (Alec Baldwin). Unfortunately, her husband is too absorbed in business matters to appreciate the...

Cannes Launches Immersive Competition

Cannes Launches Immersive Competition

The Festival de Cannes is introducing a new Immersive Competition, aimed at highlighting the next generation of international artists who are redefining storytelling through new narrative-driven experiences that transcend the traditional two-dimensional cinema screen....

Location Flashback: To Catch a Thief (1955)

Location Flashback: To Catch a Thief (1955)

In this scene: John Robie/Conrad Burns (played by Cary Grant) and Francie Stevens(played by Grace Kelly) stroll through the gardens of the Sanford Villa pretending to look for a property to buy. However, Francie is more interested in discussing John’s choice of women,...

Cinéma de la Plage 2024 Schedule

Cinéma de la Plage 2024 Schedule

Cinéma de la Plage 2024 Schedule: This year’s schedule includes films by Jackie Chan, Brian De Palma, Martin Scorsese, Rachid Bouchareb, Tony Gatlif, Danny Boyle, and continuation of the tribute to Studio Ghibli. Tuesday May 14 TRAINSPOTTING (4K Restoration) Danny...

I Bambini di Gaza

I Bambini di Gaza

A Palestinian and an Israeli boy bond over surfing in a vivid if familiar story from the Second Intifada that today feels more than slightly unread.

Time To Be Strong

Time To Be Strong

Scooping three awards at the Jeonju International Film Festival, Namkoong Sun’s ‘Time To Be Strong’ is a winning drama about three traumatized losers in the brutal K-pop rat race.

eoFlix to partner with médiaClub

eoFlix to partner with médiaClub

Entertainment Oxygen, also known as eoFlix, a digital networking and self-distribution platform for the entertainment industry has recently announced a strategic partnership with médiaClub, the largest association of media professionals in France. This partnership is...

The Fall Guy

The Fall Guy

This valentine to action-packed moviemaking works best when it ignores the plot and focuses on stunt craft and the explosive rom-com banter between Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt.

Adam Ghobiral launches Edgy Media

Adam Ghobiral launches Edgy Media

Edgy Media is a new film distribution and sales company, aiming to make its mark with a fresh and ambitious approach. The company is founded by Adam Ghobrial, an industry veteran with 20 years of experience. The company's goal is to link groundbreaking storytelling...

Challengers

Challengers

Luca Guadagnino’s twisty, sexy, adult tennis saga entwines three players who understand each other (and themselves) on the court but have a harder time working outside the lines.

Civil War

Civil War

Alex Garland can mount a battle sequence as well as any filmmaker working today, but the lack of political context and specificity undermines this ambitious film.

Cannes 2024 Line Up Announced

Cannes 2024 Line Up Announced

The 77th edition of the Festival de Cannes announced. Opening film THE SECOND ACT (LE DEUXIÈME ACTE) by Quentin DUPIEUX – Out of Competition In Competition THE APPRENTICE by Ali ABBASI MOTEL DESTINO by Karim AÏNOUZ BIRD by Andrea ARNOLD EMILIA PEREZ by Jacques AUDIARD...

Monkey Man

Monkey Man

Dev Patel makes a dazzling directorial debut that mixes stylish ultra-violence with a provocative political point of view.

The Podcast Becomes an Industry Powercast

The Podcast Becomes an Industry Powercast

TFVN is a trailblazing podcast platform focusing on the global film industry, delivering dynamic audio content tailored for professionals, creatives, enthusiasts and students, revolutionizing the way industry insights are accessed and fostering valuable connections within the international film community.

Stockfish Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Stockfish Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Stockfish Film and Industry Festival announces its 10th anniversary celebration. To mark the occasion, Stockfish is offering free admission to this year's festivities. The festival offers a diverse program for professionals in the industry. Emphasis is placed on...

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

A franchise once built on comedy with some creepy ghosts on the side now feels more committed to nostalgic brand-building, sprinkled with forgettable scares and half-hearted attempts at humor.

Kung Fu Panda 4

Kung Fu Panda 4

Brisk, exciting and genuinely funny, ‘Kung Fu Panda 4’ is the highlight of this
long-running franchise, furthering the hero’s journey to enlightenment, working wonders
with its ensemble cast, and embracing the philosophical spirit of kung fu.

All Shall Be Well

All Shall Be Well

When her lover of forty years suddenly dies, Angie discovers she has no rights even to her own apartment in Ray Yeung’s Teddy Award-winning ‘All Shall Be Well’, a heartfelt though unexceptional drama revealing Hong Kong’s unjust inheritance laws for same-sex couples.

Berlin 2024: The Awards

Berlin 2024: The Awards

The Berlinale awards celebrated cultural differences, with the Golden Bear going to Mati Diop’s poetic and thoughtful documentary on colonialism ‘Dahomey’, which follows the return of looted cultural artefacts to Benin.

Shambhala

Shambhala

Nepal’s first-ever competition title at the Berlinale, Min Bahadur Bham’s Shambhala is a visually breathtaking, emotionally engaging relationship drama about a young Tibetan’s physical and mental journey across the Himalayas in search of her vanished husband.

In the Belly of A Tiger

In the Belly of A Tiger

Bowing in the Berlinale’s independently curated Forum programme, Indian filmmaker Siddartha Jatla’s second feature, ‘In the Belly of a Tiger’, combines social critique with magical realism to depict the struggles of India’s rural poor.

Sons

Sons

Gustav Möller returns to the thriller genre with his second feature ‘Sons’, bolstered by terrific performances.

Above The Dust

Above The Dust

Wang Xiaoshuai, controversially without an official screening permit, returns to Berlin with another superb picture about Chinese politics (and peasantry) featuring outstanding performances and stellar dialogue.

Who Do I Belong To?

Who Do I Belong To?

A misguided narrative full of ill-thought-out atmospheric twists spoils the cinematic attractions of Tunisian-American Meryem Joobeur’s debut feature about a family torn apart when two sons join Daesh.

Yanks Pull Rank at EFM

Yanks Pull Rank at EFM

BY LIZA FOREMAN This year’s European Film Market has been awash in big titles sold by a slew of independent sales companies that are creating momentum going into 2024. At this week’s EFM, buzz titles like 'Oh Canada' from Paul Schrader, Oscar nominee Celine Song’s...

Black Tea

Black Tea

The gap between African and Chinese culture proves easier to breach than the perspectives that separate a woman and a man in acclaimed director Abderrahmane Sissako’s ‘Black Tea’, a fascinating love story set in China but one that sadly gets lost in the telling.

Cu Li Never Cries

Cu Li Never Cries

Vietnamese filmmaker Pham Ngoc Lan’s first feature, ‘Cu Li Never Cries’, is an absorbing, beautiful ode about a pensioner’s nostalgia for her past and a young couple’s uncertainty about their future.

Rising Up at Night

Rising Up at Night

Nelson Makengo’s beautifully shot and observed documentary ‘Rising Up at Night’ captures the darkness of Kinshasa after severe flooding and electricity cuts, along with the resilience of its people.

Intercepted

Intercepted

Ukrainian director Oksana Karpovych’s quietly powerful documentary ‘Intercepted’ combines bleakly beautiful, defiantly hopeful images of her war-ravaged homeland with recordings of phone calls made by invading Russian soldiers.

Dune: Part Two

Dune: Part Two

The second chapter of Denis Villeneuve’s epic adaptation delivers on the visual grandeur and political intrigue, even if the characters tend to be reduced to their plot function.

Gloria!

Gloria!

A joyful feminist fantasy set in Venice in 1800, in which music unchains an orphanage full of talented girl musicians, ‘Gloria!’ will split audiences into two distinct camps.

Some Rain Must Fall

Some Rain Must Fall

A depressed Chinese woman tired of her unaffectionate family and middle class life heads towards a breakdown in ‘Some Rain Must Fall,’ the first feature by Qiu Yang, whose minimalist storytelling is full of atmosphere and foreboding.

Diaries from Lebanon

Diaries from Lebanon

Three people in Beirut representing the past, present and future of Lebanon experience the hopes, disappointments and decimated sense of stability in Myriam El Hajj’s sad yet defiant documentary tracing the country’s ups and downs since 2018.

Pepe

Pepe

Nelson Carlos De Los Santos Arias’s fanciful exploration of the inner life of one of Pablo Escobar’s cocaine hippos, Pepe, is an idiosyncratic affair as piercing and beguiling as it is confounding.

Langue étrangère

Langue étrangère

In her first solo directing stint ‘Langue étrangère’, Camera d’Or winner Claire Burger cleverly evokes the fears and anxieties of two middle-class 17-year-old European girls about to inherit a world racked with violently diverging political opinions.

Afterwar

Afterwar

Shot over 15 years, Birgitte Stærmose’s deeply empathetic documentary, focused on child survivors, is an intimate and diligent depiction of the lingering aftermath of war.

Architecton

Architecton

Another stunning documentary from Victor Kossakovsky full of gob-smacking immersive images of the natural world, pitched this time as a call for a harmonious alliance between nature and architecture.

The Italian Connection

The Italian Connection

The Italian Ministry of Culture, with Cinecitta’, are hosting a series of events in the Gropius Dome at the Italian Pavilion. Organizers of the Italian film industry say the focus-event aims to introduce a new format yet unseen at international festivals that will not...

Arcadia

Arcadia

The living haunt the dead in Yorgos Zois’s sexy glumfest ‘Arcadia’, an aching, downbeat tale about loss and lingering grief, told from the ghosts’ POV.

Maria’s Silence

Maria’s Silence

The true story of Latvian-born German silent film diva Maria Leiko and her fateful journey to Stalin’s USSR in 1937 is retold in Davis Simanis’s ‘Maria’s Silence’ with a tragic depth that is engrossing and emotional.

Dahomey

Dahomey

Mati Diop’s thought-provokingly cerebral-poetic documentary follows the return of 26 looted cultural artefacts and their welcome home to Benin, encompassing the celebrations as well as larger debates around colonialization and how to reintegrate such potently spiritual objects into a society 130 years after they were plundered.

Suspended Time

Suspended Time

Olivier Assayas’s semi-autobiographical reverie ‘Suspended Time’ on his stay in the family home during lockdown, is likely his weakest work, playing like a parody of an intellectualized director’s banal ruminations.

Another End

Another End

Corporate scientists use memory technology to bring back the dead for a brief reunion with their loved ones (played by Gael Garcia Bernal and Bérénice Bejo), in Piero Messina’s clever but often perplexing ‘Another End’, whose futuristic love story beyond the grave is a mighty challenge to unravel.

Demba

Demba

Although a bit too dry for a wide audience, Mamadou Dia’s ‘Demba’ has moments of visual grace, a great central performance, and a compelling subject at its core.

No Other Land

No Other Land

Beginning in 2019, a quartet of Palestinian and Israeli filmmakers in the Occupied Territories start documenting Israel’s appropriation of the land and its escalation until just after the start of the current juggernaut in Gaza.

La cocina

La cocina

A disappointing, maddeningly self-indulgent plunge into the tensions and inequities in the kitchen of a Times Square eatery, designed as an anti-capitalist diatribe messily juggling personal and choral storytelling but saved to some degree by excellent chiaroscuro camerawork and a strong cast.

The Editorial Office

The Editorial Office

In the week between the Grammys and the Super Bowl, Human Rights Watch announced that Vladimir Putin and other military officials should be investigated for war crimes following Russia’s assault on Mariupol. On Valentine’s Day it was reported that UNESCO calculated...

Every You Every Me

Every You Every Me

Michael Fetter Nathansky, with assistance from lead actress Aenne Schwarz, inspects a shaky relationship in the shadow of work pressures in this adequately sensitive, surreal, and discomfiting look at marriage and its dissatisfactions.

Market Voices

Market Voices

by Liza Foreman For our daily column Market Voices, The Film Verdict will be checking in with the peeps peopleing the shop floor at this week’s European Film Market in Berlin, to give readers a feel for the first major film market of the year. Stay tuned. Pedro Peira,...

Crossing

Crossing

Jennie Livingston’s seminal Paris is Burning was probably the first hit film to show what LGBTQ+ people have always known: we make our own families. They’re often not biological but they are carefully chosen, proving that genetics is no determinant of unconditional...

My Favourite Cake

My Favourite Cake

A small jewel of an Iranian romantic comedy, ‘My Favourite Cake’ pits an older woman determined to find a measure of happiness against the restrictions of the Islamic regime and the loneliness of aging, while the film’s creators Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha have been banned from traveling to Berlin.

Small Things Like These

Small Things Like These

Cillian Murphy follows his huge ‘Oppenheimer’ success with glum but powerful personal project ‘Small Things Like These’, a soulful literary psychodrama about mercy, empathy, complicity and dark misdeeds in 1980s Ireland.

Unifrance’s Game Changer, Daniela Elstner

Unifrance’s Game Changer, Daniela Elstner

By Liza Foreman PARIS - The Hôtel du Collectionneur is awash with French cinema talent and journalists buzzing between interview rooms at the tail end of the annual UniFrance Meetings in Paris a few weeks ago. But Daniela Elstner, the Executive Director of the French...

Madame Web

Madame Web

Despite a tangled narrative web, this arachnid superhero saga makes a far better would-be tentpole in Sony’s Spider-verse than ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ or ‘Morbius,’ thanks mainly to Dakota Johnson.

ITALIA IN FOCUS AT BERLIN

ITALIA IN FOCUS AT BERLIN

The Berlinale European Film Market (EFM) this year spotlights the artistry of Italian filmmakers and will offer industry participants opportunities to network with a variety of Italian producers, distributors, investors and experts. The 2024 EFM kicks off February 15...

 20 Days in Mariupol

 20 Days in Mariupol

The start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is captured with total professionality by AP correspondent Mstyslav Chernov and his team in ’20 Days in Mariupol’, in iconic images that strike the heart forcefully in a classic, masterful documentary on war.

EUFCN Location Award Finalists

EUFCN Location Award Finalists

European Film Commissions Network (EUFCN) member film commissions had the opportunity to submit one location from a feature film or a TV series shot in their territory and released between Oct. 3rd 2022 and Sept. 11th 2023. The Location Award Jury selected the five...

Location Flashback: The Fault in Our Stars

Location Flashback: The Fault in Our Stars

This is an establishing shot of the hotel where Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) and Gus Waters (Angel Elgort) stay while on their trip to Amsterdam. The Fault in Our Stars is an American coming of age romance film directed by Josh Boone, based on the novel of...

Portrait of a Certain Orient

Portrait of a Certain Orient

Awash in a luxuriant atmosphere of passion and emotional discovery created by exquisite b&w images of seas rivers and jungles, Marcelo Gomes’s three characters struggle to shake off the past and move forward post-WW2 in ‘Portrait of a Certain Orient’.

Grey Bees

Grey Bees

Dmytro Moiseiev’s laconic portrait of a solitary beekeeper with an evolving political consciousness in the “grey zone” of Donetsk is sage and affecting.

78 Days

78 Days

Using the aesthetics of home video, with 78 Days Emilija Gasic crafts a poignant coming-of-age drama set amidst the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia by NATO.

Locarno Shorts Weeks: 29 films for 29 Days

Locarno Shorts Weeks: 29 films for 29 Days

Throughout the month of February, the Locarno Film Festival will showcase 29 dazzling short films as part of the Locarno Shorts Weeks, one of its most highly awaited online spin-off events for audiences around the world, with the leap year bringing one extra day and...

Tenement

Tenement

The traumas of Cambodia’s past stretch their icy fingers into the present in Tenement, a deeply unsettling psychological horror set in a rundown Khmer-era housing block.

Animalia Paradoxa

Animalia Paradoxa

Using a blend of stop-motion animation and live-action, Niles Atallah gorgeously crafts a mesmeric, dying world of analogue detritus and vestiges of magical knowledge, in which a half-amphibian being dreams of survival.

Swimming Home

Swimming Home

A cryptic Deborah Levy novel is stylised for the screen as an elusive and surrealistic dance of the subconscious, as an uninvited guest crashes a poet’s family vacation.

Under a Blue Sun

Under a Blue Sun

Set in the Negev Desert where action blockbuster ‘Rambo III’ was shot, ‘Under a Blue Sun’ is an intricately layered doc scrutinising the intersection of war simulation, oppression and entertainment.

Moses

Moses

Baffling, free-ranging and mesmeric, ‘Moses’ roams through a text on religion by Freud with deadpan Finnish humour that grounds its kooky performance art.

Ama Gloria

Ama Gloria

An intimate and profound study of a child’s need for maternal love, with outstanding acting from 6-year old Louise Mauroy-Panzani and her nanny, Ilça Moreno Zego.

Ibelin

Ibelin

Computer games offer a severely disabled young man an emotionally rich alternative life in Norwegian director Benjamin Ree’s moving, visually impressive documentary ‘Ibelin’.

Meet the IFFR Jury

Meet the IFFR Jury

The Tiger Competition Jury consists of Marco Müller, former director of Locarno, Venice, and IFFR (1989–1991); Ena Sendijarevi?, a Bosnian-Dutch filmmaker known for her acclaimed debut Take Me Somewhere Nice (IFFR 2019) and the Netherlands’ Oscars submission Sweet...

The Film Verdict 2024 Editorial Calendar

The Film Verdict 2024 Editorial Calendar

The Film Verdict announces it's 2024 Film Festival coverage. EFP European Films at Sundance Jan 18 – 28 International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) Jan 25 - Feb 4 Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) FEB 15 – 25 Hong Kong International Film Festival March...

I.S.S.

I.S.S.

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Cold-War-in-space thriller benefits from a lean-and-mean B-movie sensibility crossed with seamless effects work and potent performances.

Mean Girls

Mean Girls

A pleasant-enough musical reworking of the 2004 comedy, hitting the big screen on its way to becoming a slumber-party staple for decades to come.

Night Swim

Night Swim

This haunted-swimming-pool thriller goes from creepy to ridiculous and back again, but as January-dumped horror films go, it’s a cut above.

El Gouna 2023: The Awards

El Gouna 2023: The Awards

The El Gouna Film Festival awards this year included ’Goodbye, Julia’, a Sudanese film by Mohamed Kordofani about two women divided by their cultures, which won the Cinema for Humanity Audience Award, while Egyptian director Ibrahim Nash’at’s ‘Hollywoodgate’ won as best documentary and Hong Sang-soo’s latest ‘In Our Day’ got the best narrative nod.

The Wall

The Wall

Vicky Krieps gives a striking performance as a racist Arizona border patrol guard in Belgian director Phillippe Van Leeuw’s otherwise underwhelming contemporary frontier western ‘The Wall’.

The Teacher

The Teacher

Gaining extra urgency in the light of current events, British-Palestinian director Farah Nabulsi’s debut feature ‘The Teacher’ is a well-intentioned but flawed drama set in the occupied West Bank

Q

Q

An all-female Islamic sect in Lebanon first ensnares, then abandons a deeply spiritual woman, along with her mother and her daughter, in Jude Chehab’s intriguing but unstructured portrait of her unusual family in ‘Q’.

Seven Winters in Tehran

Seven Winters in Tehran

The cruel and gripping story of Reyhaneh Jabbari, a 19-year-old Iranian woman convicted of murdering a man who attempted to rape her, unfolds like a thriller in Steffi Niederzoll’s documentary recreation, ‘Seven Winters in Tehran’.

From Abdul to Leila

From Abdul to Leila

French-Iraqi director Leila Albayaty explores her own complex cultural roots, painful family tensions and buried traumatic memories in her emotionally raw docu-musical ‘From Abdul to Leila’.

Dreaming & Dying

Dreaming & Dying

Magical realism and Far East ghost stories inject a thrilling, if not always crystal clear, element into Nelson Yeo’s fishy tale of an overage and not completely human love triangle, ‘Dreaming & Dying’.

Scrapper

Scrapper

A charmingly eccentric 12-year-old girl struggles to bond with her estranged father in writer-director Charlotte Regan’s funny, sunny, prize-winning debut feature ‘Scrapper’.

How to Have Sex

How to Have Sex

A timely coming-of-age drama about young women dealing with the complexities of sexual consent, writer-director Molly Manning Walker’s prize-winning debut feature ‘How to Have Sex’ is impressively nuanced and emotionally rich.

Voy! Voy! Voy!

Voy! Voy! Voy!

Omar Hilal’s compelling ‘Voy! Voy! Voy!’, Egypt’s Oscar submission, dissects how far a bunch of Egyptian men will go to immigrate to Europe by impersonating blind soccer players,

The Boy and the Heron

The Boy and the Heron

At age 82, Hayao Miyazaki proves once again that he’s our greatest living animator with this haunting tale of a boy on a mystical adventure in WWII-era Japan.

Wonka

Wonka

Musical prequel manages to find the sweet spot between the wicked psychedelia of the original Willy Wonka and the feel-good delights of the director’s Paddington movies.

Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé

Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé

More a retrospective documentary than a traditional concert film, this souvenir of Beyoncé’s recent smash tour will delight fans who want a peek behind the scenes even as those peeks occasionally distract from the artist’s extraordinary stagecraft.

The Last Ashes

The Last Ashes

A lone woman rides into famine-ridden 19th century Luxembourg hell-bent on revenge in Loïc Tanson’s enjoyably erudite first feature ‘The Last Ashes’, intriguingly poised between European fairy tale and the American Western.

Wish

Wish

What was clearly designed to be a victory lap for Disney’s 100th anniversary will be mostly forgotten by the time the studio turns 101.

IDFA: The Awards

IDFA: The Awards

Shoghakat Vardanyan’s ‘1489’ wins Best Film at IDFA for its humor and humanity in what the jury called “a vivid evocation of 100 years of history in less than 100 minutes of cinema.”

The Night Guardian

The Night Guardian

 For the fourth time, award-winning director Reza Mirkarimi is repping Iran at the Oscars with ‘The Night Guardian’, handling a predictably downbeat social drama set amid Iran’s swelling underclass with a delicate, sensitive touch, illuminated by young actor Touraj Alvand.

The Burden

The Burden

Elvis Sabin Ngaibino’s IDFA 2023 documentary, ‘The Burden’, walks a familiar path of African misery, but his compelling subjects lends this sophomore feature documentary a deserved poignancy.

IDFA Forum Awards Announced

IDFA Forum Awards Announced

Mohammed Almughanni’s project Son of the Streets won the IDFA Forum Award for Best Pitch, Amber Fares’ Coexistence, My Ass! took home the Forum Award for Best Rough Cut, and the DocLab Forum Award went to Turbulence by Ben Joseph Andrews and Emma Roberts. Each award...

Napoleon

Napoleon

While this sumptuously mounted production delivers as a sweeping war epic, one hopes Ridley Scott’s promised director’s cut will fill in the emotional and historical blanks.

Hot Docs Welcomes Hussain Currimbhoy

Hot Docs Welcomes Hussain Currimbhoy

Hussain Currimbhoy, whose film industry career and passion for championing works by marginalized filmmakers, is set to bring a new vision to Hot Docs, overseeing programming for Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Toronto’s Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema...

Tehachapi

Tehachapi

French visual artist and film-maker JR chronicles his grand-scale collaboration with the inmates of a maximum-security prison in his didactic but uplifting documentary ‘Tehachapi’.

Limitation

Limitation

A raw and immediate found-footage assemblage, ‘Limitation’ traces Russia’s hand in the coup that overthrew Georgia’s first post-Soviet president Zviad Gamsakhurdia.

Alreadymade

Alreadymade

Director Barbara Visser explores the controversial links between pioneering Dadaist artists Marcel Duchamp and Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven in her lively, adventurous, unconventional documentary ‘Alreadymade’.

In Wolf Country

In Wolf Country

Fear-stoking myths around wolves, back in Germany after a century, are dismantled in Ralf Bücheler’s doc ‘In Wolf Country’, appealing to nature management via science.

Magic Mountain

Magic Mountain

A haunting, poetic doc with political undercurrents, ‘Magic Mountain’ examines a once-grand sanitorium in the Georgian mountains lost to the vultures of capitalism.

A Picture to Remember

A Picture to Remember

Olga Chernykh’s poetic, vividly sensorial essay-doc debut ‘A Picture to Remember’ reconstitutes Donetsk as a cinematic site of memories for three family generations of women.

The Marvels

The Marvels

This admirable attempt at subverting superhero-movie formula and tone should have soared beyond where MCU movies typically go.

Dance Still

Dance Still

Awarded by both the main and youth juries at Pingyao, ‘Dance Still’ is directing duo Qin Muqiu and Zhan Hanqi’s triumph of a slacker comedy, trading in jet-black absurdist humour aimed at China’s bewildered millennials.

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour

Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour

Nearly three hours of Taylor Swift in concert might be too much of a good thing for newcomers, but devotees will wish this beautifully shot and edited performance doc had been even longer.

Play Dead!

Play Dead!

Documentary director Matthew Lancit addresses his existential health fears through horror movie tropes in ‘Play Dead!’. a compelling hybrid blend of non-fiction and playful fakery.

One Hundred Four

One Hundred Four

‘One Hundred Four’ is the number of refugees stranded on one of the world’s deadly smuggling routes, the Mediterranean, in Jonathan Schörnig’s real-time documentary.

Location Flashback: Uncharted (2022)

Location Flashback: Uncharted (2022)

In this scene, Nathan Drake (Tom Holland) wipes down a table at a New York City bar as he makes small talk with a patron before stealing a diamond bracelet off her wrist. "Uncharted", originally set to be released on December 18, 2020, faced delays due to the COVID-19...

DOK Industry Awards 2023 Announced

DOK Industry Awards 2023 Announced

At the DOK Co-Pro Market, a total of three awards have been presented. Belarusian director Daria Yurkevich and her project “GENESIS" (Belarus, Germany) received the Saxon Award for the Best Documentary Project by a Female Director. The prize is endowed with 5,000...

The Last Relic

The Last Relic

Masses seduced by past imperialistic might and activists seeking change present clashing public spectacles in Marianna Kaat’s punchy, broad-strokes doc on modern Russia.

Meet the Juries of Dok Leipzig

Meet the Juries of Dok Leipzig

Three juries comprised of distinguished filmmakers and arts professionals, as well as a jury of audience members, will be presenting awards for short and feature-length animated and documentary films in competition at the 66th edition of DOK Leipzig. The jury members...

Knit’s Island

Knit’s Island

A trio of documentarians traverse the forbidding digital landscapes of an online survivalist video game to explore the communities that have emerged there in this verité machinima, Knit’s Island.

Toll

Toll

Lively characters get involved in a farcical church course designed to rewire gays in the otherwise staid ‘Toll’ (‘Pedagio’), a story about coping with poverty and ignorance in remote Brazil.

Red Island

Red Island

In equal parts fiercely amusing and roundly desolating, Robin Campillo’s ‘Red Island’, an offbeat look at the end of French colonialism in Madagascar, is a crowd-pleaser in San Sebastian’s Official Selection.

German Films Travel

German Films Travel

BY LIZA FOREMAN SAN SEBASTIAN - It wasn't long ago that German directors making the festival rounds typically were Wim Wenders, Werner Herzog, Margarethe von Trotta and Volker Schlondorff. But a slew of newer directors has come up through the ranks in the past two...

Ex-Husbands

Ex-Husbands

Griffin Dunne, James Norton and Miles Heizer co-star in Noah Pritzker’s underpowered but charming ensemble drama ‘Ex-Husbands’. which pays fond homage to a lost analogue era of bittersweet New York comedies.

The Rye Horn

The Rye Horn

Celebrating the natural cycles of life in women’s ever-changing bodies, Jaione Camborda’s second feature ‘The Rye Horn’ is a moving period drama that touches on abortion laws in 1971 Spain.