Thursday, July 24, 2014

25 Great Foreign Films Getting Distribution in the US in 2014

By Jose Alberto Hermosillo

Many foreign films are premiering in American theaters this fall, trying to add some numbers by getting the attention of avid foreign movie goers, hoping for some mainstream attendees, and a few nominations during the awards season. 

The race for Golden Globes and Oscars® starts early with films that are making noise in film festivals around the globe.

In the article 25 Great Foreign Films that Did Not Get Distribution in US Theaters, Festival in LA pointed out how difficult is for distributors to invest in publicity and marketing, but always hoping that movie lover (the ones that don't mind to read subtitles) can make an impact at the box office.

Back in the days, in the early 90’s, foreign films were marketed differently. Distributors were targeting special audience: the foreign filmgoers. It was when “Like Water for Chocolate” broke all records for being more than 52 weeks in the US movie theaters. Pedro Almodovar’s “High Heels” and “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” made a big impact.  Other profitable foreign films were: “Indochina,” “Raise the Red Lantern,” “Leolo,” “Europa, Europa.”

How soon we can see foreign movies playing in America? We will be watching them after they premiere in festivals and create enough buzz and press coverage to motivate people to go out and watch them. 

Some of the films produced overseas have not reached a distribution deal yet, such as: “The Return,” “The Invisible Boy,” “The Future,” “Miss Violence,” “The Age of Innocence,” “Ban  Ban,” “Ich und Kaminski,” “Memories of the Sword,” “Eden,” “The Attorney,” “A Second Chance,” “Paraiso,” “Run,” “Workers,” “El Ardor,” “The Early Years,” “Güeros,” “Dual,” “The Pilgrim: The Best Story of Paulo Coelho,” “Shirley, Visions of Reality,” “Man in Love,” and many more…

Festival in LA recommends the 25 Great Foreign Films Getting Distribution in US Theaters in 2014:


1. Cantinflas
(Mexico)
Dir. Sebastian del Amo.
Actor: Óscar Jaenada.
August 29, 2014.
 “Cantinflas” is a charming biopic about the life and movies of the great Mexican comedian Mario Moreno “Cantinflas.” This film is opening first in the US and then in Mexico, following the formula of last year’s box office hit “Instructions Not Included.” The problem with this wonderful film is its marketing. The company focuses on the “Latino market” leaving out a large group of the community. A good number of people know about the movies Cantinflas made in Mexico and in Hollywood. 


Also, they are forgetting about the foreign filmgoers - people that love movies about history, and people who like stories about the life of the movie stars. 
In any case, this film has a lot of potentials and deserves a lot more of what the biopic of “Cesar Chavez” made at the box office earlier this year. 

Let’s see if “Cantinflas” can break those cultural barriers as the real Mario Moreno did when he won the Golden Globe for best Actor Comedy/Musical for the best picture Oscar® winner “Around the World in 80 Days.” 

 
2. The Crossing
(China)
Dir. John Woo. 
Fall 2014.

John Woo (“The Killer,” “Face/Off,” “Red Cliff’), after five years, directs a new production of an epic dimension and all top Asian stars, including Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Masami Nagasawa, Song Hye-Kyo. The story is set in the midst of the 1949 Revolution, where four couples flee to the island of Taiwan in a ship. This movie is getting known as the "Chinese Titanic."


3. 1,000 Times Good Night (Norway). 
Oct. 24, 2014


     An intense drama about the work and personal life of a war photographer played by Oscar winner Juliette Binoche (“The English Patient”) who wants to make the difference with her work capturing dangerous and daring photos.
    The film is so powerful because it places actual conflicts in the world with a beautiful cinematography and marvelous performances in the juxtaposition of her personal life, family, emotions, and helplessness.

© Bollywood Pictures.


4. Bombay Velvet (India)

Dir. Anurag Kashyap
Nov. 27, 2014.

This is the second part of Anurag Kashyap’s trilogy, that he started with “Gangs of Wasseypur.” Mumbai is the city of love, greed, violence, and jazz. It’s the story of an ordinary man, Ranbir Kapoor (“Barfi!” RockStar,” “Saawariya”), who goes against the odds to become someone and gain the love of the beautiful girl played by Anushka Sharma.

©Cannes Film Festival 2014
5. Winter Sleep
 (Turkey)
Dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan,
Palme d’Or.
Fall 2014.



   Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan conquered audiences in festivals around the world with “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia,” now he is back with this year’s Palme d’Or winner.
     
                         A bold and beautiful story about a former actor who takes care of a little hotel in the central part of Anatolia with his young wife, and sister in law.

           The hotel acts as a shelter for many transients during the long snow time and the setting for mysteries and psychological tensions between the family and guest.

 
6. Black Coal, Thin Ice  (China)
Dir. Yi'nan Diao
   Fall 2014.


      This amazing thriller is directed by Yi'nan Diao, the writer of "The Shower" and director "Night Train." "Black Coal, Thin Ice" is the winner of the Golden Bear at Berlin Film Festival 2014. Starts with the apparition of a woman’s dead body in the coal mine. The workers, in disbelief, see this event and detonates chaos. 
A must see!
7. Two Days, One Night 
(Belgium/Italy/France)
   Dir. Jean-Pierre and  Luc Dardenne.
   Fall 2014.  
    The Dardenne Brothers return, after great films such as: “The Kid with a Bike,” “L'Enfant,” “Lorna.” A desperate woman (Marion Cotillard) tries to convince her colleagues, in one weekend, to give up their bonuses in order to keep her job. This intense drama won the Ecumenical Jury award in Cannes this year. 




  8. The Wonders 
 (Italy)
Dir. Alice Rohrwacher. 
Fall 2014. 
©Cannes Film Festival, 2014
 
                          
                A gorgeous portrait of an Italian family living on a farm in Tuscany. They are having a hard time because their production of honey is in danger due to the extinction of bees from pesticides. 

   Gelsomina is the 12-year-old who leads the family in the daily work until one day, a TV show competition comes to town and changes their lives at the end of that magical summer.

This year Grand Prix winner at Cannes received a 12-minute standing ovation and is a front runner to represent Italy at the Academy awards for what could possibly bring home an Oscar® for the country 2 years in a row. Italy is the country with the most wins in history in the category of best foreign film, with a total of 14. France comes second with 12 wins.
9. The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
  (Sweden/Croatia)
Fall 2014.


     This movie is based on the internationally best-selling novel by Jonas Jonasson and is an adaptation of Felix Herngren to the big-screen.

     This crazy comedy retells the unlikely story of a 100-year-old man who holds the life lessons he's already learned while deciding is never too late to start over. But he never forgets the skills he got from his past. It has been a hit in its native Sweden and plans to make it big in the USA.



10. The Pirates (Korea). Fall 2014.


       
This is an epic battle between Pirates and 
Bandits. They are fighting each other to catch a gray whale that swallowed a royal stamp symbol of the foundation for 
a new nation. This packed action film is already known as: 
“The Korean Pirates of the Caribbean” 
for its big production. This movie is fun, exciting, and 
above all, is good to watch it with the entire family.




11. The Golden Dream  
(Mexico/Spain/Guatemala)
Dir. Diego Quemada-Diez
Fall 2014.
                                                       
 A magnificent journey of big dreams, unbroken souls,
        and helpless disenchantment, 
     this film is a very realistic tale of three young emigrants from Guatemala on a quest of “The American Dream.” The dream crashes into the harsh reality of what migrants have to confront using real people into this fictional story.

    The film comes across as a documentary thanks to the visuals and humanism, exposing the enormous problem that we deny solved.
    
                More than 60 awards around the globe 
have rewarded 
“La Jaula de Oro,” 
       including best cast in Cannes 2013, 
and the Ariel awards in Mexico, including best picture, best first work, best actor, and best supporting actor.
12. Diplomacy
   (France/Germany)
Dir. Volker Schlöndorff.
  Nov. 7, 2014





 
       
 After winning the Oscar in 1980 for “The Tin Drum,” director Volker Schlöndorff returns with a remarkable historical drama based on a play about a relationship between a German military Governor of occupied Paris who wants to destroy the city before the allies forces arrived, and the Swedish consul-general who persuades him. This nerve raking political thriller is amusing audiences around the world.

13. Party Girl (France). Fall 2014.
Film Picture © Elzévir Films.
  Marie Amachoukeli, Claire Burger, and Samuel Thes are the directors who won this year’s Camera d’Or in Cannes for a movie about an aging nightclub hostess who decides to change her life, go out date, and get married, right on her sixties.

14. Timbuktu (Mauritania/France)
Fall 2014.
©Cannes Film Festival, 2014





Winner of the Ecumenical Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival this year. Timbuktu is a city in chaos, ruled by religious fundamentalists group that forbids music and laughter. People, especially women, must learn to survive extreme circumstances.
15. Leviathan (Russia). Dec 31, 2014.
©Cannes Film Festival, 2014
Winner of the best screenplay award at Cannes, this film is about Nikolai and his family living in a small town in Barents. The conflict occurs when the mayor of the city wants to buy the family shop and land for a town project. Nicolai doesn't want to lose the land where he was born and begins to uncover the Mayor's skeletons to build a case. A very close social approach about human insecurity.
©LA Hungarian Film Festival, 2013.

16. The Notebook
(Hungary)
     August 29, 2014.
When the world erupts into the WW II, two 13-year-old twins are left behind when the father gets enlisted in the army, and the mother leaves them with a miserable and abusive grandmother. Before he is gone, he gives them a notebook with the task of writing a very detailed diary of their lives.

This powerful and still sweet war movie was Hungary's Oscar submission and made it to the short list last year. Director János Szász made a good adaptation of the controversial novel by Hungarian writer Agota Kristof, showing the impact that war had on the lives of the innocents.

17. Futuro Beach 
(Brazil) 
Dir. Karim Aïnouz (MADAME SATÃ). 
Fall 2014. 
©Berlin Film Festival, 2014

Official Selection of Berlin and Outfest. This story moves from a paradisaical Brazilian hot beach to a cold, empty ocean side in Germany. The emotions remain cold as the relationship of a handsome Brazilian lifeguard and a German biker unfold.



It’s an affair where no one says “I love you,” but circumstances keep them together, even when their world is moving upside down due to the arrival of a young visitor from their past. Director Karim Aïnouz (“Madame Satá”) has wonderfully created a cold world of restrained emotions. The magnificent performance of Wagner Moura (“Elite Squad,” “Elysium”) confirms him as one of the greatest actors of his generation.

Photo by Jose Alberto Hermosillo.
©www.FestivalinLA.com
18. Los Ángeles
(Germany/Mexico)
Dir. Demian John Harper.
Spring 2015.

Winner at Guadalajara International Film Festival and Los Angeles Film Fest. “Los Ángeles” is about a community in the high mountains of Oaxaca Mexico, where a dangerous group of deportees (small sample of the 2 million people who got deported from the present US administration) takes over the criminal activities in the small town.

They are controlling the potential illegal aliens with their contacts at the border with Mexico and in US cities such as Los Angeles. The mafia group decides who leaves town and who stays, who lives and who dies. To understand the crisis of the Central-American children at the U.S.-Mexico border just take a good look at this powerful mafia film.

©Outfest, 2014.

19. Bad Hair
(Venezuela)
Dir. Mariana Rondón. 
  Fall 2014.


This is the story of a kid with an uncontrollable afro-hair and his hard working mother who is afraid that her little boy could be gay. They confront all the racial stigmas and social prejudices.
He is a good kid - the only problem is that no one understands him and his bad hair. A touchy subject of Venezuela that won plenty awards in many festivals, such as San Sebastian, Toronto, and La Havana.
  20. Beloved Sisters
(Germany)
 Dir. Dominik Graf 
(A Map of the Heart). 
Fall 2014.
   
      This gorgeous time period piece is the winner of the best cinematography award at the Bavarian Film Festival. The beautiful images and music increase the tensions between lovers, family, and society. It’s about two aristocratic sisters falling for the same man, the poet Friedrich Schiller. "Beloved Sisters" is the official Germany submission for the Oscars 2015.
21. Guten Tag, Ramón (Mexico/Germany)
Dir. Jorge Ramírez Suárez.
  Jan. 2015.
    
      “Good Day, Ramon” is the English title of this Mexican/German co-production directed by Jorge Ramírez Suárez (“Amar,” “Rabbit on the Moon”). A Mexican boy escapes poverty and sets himself up for a trip to a far country.
        This humanistic drama will bring opposite people together, breaking cultural, and racial barriers. Eventually, Ramon and the people surrounding him will learn how humans should interact when language puts them apart, but friendship brings them together. A place where the word “amigo” gets a universal meaning.      
           
            22. Xenia
(Greece)
Dir. Panos H. Koutras. 
Fall 2014. 

      This official selection in Cannes is getting a lot of attention and distribution in different markets, and will hopefully make it to America. After the passing of their Albanese mother, two very different brothers set on a quest to find their Greek father and make him recognize the paternity. An exceptional coming of age movie that embodies brotherhood, citizenship, and identity as major turning points.
©COL-COA.
A Week of French Films in Hollywood

23. On the Way to School, 
  (France)
 Jan. 2015.

Four amazing stories of courage and endurance of children from different countries, walking hours across the unfriendly environment, trying to make it to their schools. Those children are from Argentina, Kenya, India, and Morocco and they will bring you tears of joy to see how determined they are to learn what will make their dreams come true. 








If you think you had it hard when you went to school, think again, because those inspiring children are risking their lives every day teaching us the real value of knowledge. No one should miss this marvelous and uplifting documentary.




24. Underdogs
(Argentina/Spain/India/ USA). 
Juan Jose Campanella. 
Jan. 15, 2015. 

       Oscar® winner Juan Jose Campanella (“The Secret in Their Eyes”) wrote and directed “Metegol,” the animated feature about Amadeo, a nerdy guy who gets bullied by Flash. But when Amadeo beats him at the Foosball, Flash leaves defeated. He returns as a big soccer star with a great power and skills. He wants vengeance in an epic soccer match. Amadeo and his little new friends have to come out with a plan to save the town, the world, and the girl.
         This movie is so ahead of its time that any comparison of what really happened at the 2014 World Cup’s final in Brazil between Argentina and Germany is pure coincidence. The movie was made two years before. 

      Now, American children and soccer fans will rejoice with this wonderful and original animation.

25.  La Hija de Montezuma
  (Mexico)
   Dir. Iván Lipkies.
La India María. 
Fall 2014.

La India Maria is one of the dearest and greatest comedians of Mexican cinema. She returns with a very funny, well-crafted adventure/comedy/parody of a peasant that becomes a hero to save the day.

American audiences may not be familiar with the great character of “La India María” comparable with Cantinflas or Tin Tan. The parodies of big Hollywood movies such as: “Indiana Jones” and “The Matrix” make this Mexican “Jack Ass” funnier. 
This popcorn flick is for everyone who wants to have fun at the movies.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

25 Great Foreign Films that Did Not Get Distribution in US Theaters

By José Alberto Hermosillo

Hollywood movies are shown all over the world, but the world is not showing its films in Hollywood. American audiences are missing a lot of what is going on out there, in the real world.

Lately, foreign movies in the US go straight to video, DVD, Blu-ray, V.O.D. (Video on Demand), Youtube, Netflix, and other Online downloads, or disappear after having great success in their local market. L.A., N.Y., and San Francisco are the big cities to show films made overseas. 

There is the much hunger for world cinema in other markets such as Paris, London, Athens, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, and Mexico City. 
Publicity for Mexican film "The Amazing Catfish/Los insólitos peces gato." Paris, 2014. 
© Photo courtesy of Georges Aintablian

The reasons why those movies are not getting US distribution are different then than now, and the result is the same, audiences do not get a chance to enjoy these fantastic movies on the big screen. Do we know why?

A good guess will be the niche market for foreign films making it difficult for distributors never to recoup any significant amount of money for what is invested in marketing.

Where can we find these movies? 

A better way to watch those movies is by attending the different film festivals in town,
 AFI Fest, Arab, Argentinean, Brazilian, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Indian, Israel, Italian, Japanese, LA Film Fest, Mexican, Outfest, Polish, South East European, Scandinavian, Spanish, Turkish.

People that go to the film festivals have a lifetime opportunity to see the films on the big screen, meet the filmmakers and the movie stars.

Festival in LA selected twenty-five great foreign films in the past three years that did not get distribution in US theaters and are worth seeing on the big screen. 
U.S.C. Film School.
1.     Witching 
and
 Bitching 
(Spain), 
2014.
“Las Brujas De Zugarramurdi” is a mixture of “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” and “Santa Sangre.” The horror is combining with the humor, crazy violence, mixed with diabolic, and artistic elements that make us fall in love with this flick. This surrealistic, irreverent, funny, and horror movie is masterfully done by Spanish director Alex De La Iglesia. It’s an instant cult classic. The film has a small distribution deal on V.O.D., and later to DVD. We think that it´s an enormous boo-boo not to show this incredible film in American theaters.
© Polish Film Festival, 2013.
2.   Walesa: Man of Hope 
(Poland), 
2013.
Four times Academy Award nominated Polish director Andrzej Wajda has an enormous cinematographic vision for this monumental biopic about one of the greatest leaders of our time, Lech Walesa (Robert Wieckiewicz). The film starts with the famous interview by Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci (Maria Rosaria Omaggio). She asked relevant questions related to Walesa's turbulent life, how he organized unions, won the Nobel Prize and changed the destiny of his nation and the World. An inspiring movie that anyone should see. 



3.     Viva la Libertà 
(Italy), 
2013.
The reflections on politics, intrigue, infidelity, and depression are centered on the secretary of the opposing party who fumbles between his private and public life in Italy. The performance by the entire cast is remarkable, especially the one played by Tony Servillo (“The Great Beauty,” “Il Divo,” Gomorrah”). This magnificent production deserves a shot in theaters all over the world.

4. Stray Dogs 
(Taiwan), 
2013
The narrative presents an alcoholic father and his two children struggling to survive in Taipei. The circumstances are devastating. Their path crosses with a lonely grocery clerk who helps them to make their life easier. Against adversity, the children are still capable of preserving their innocence and imagination. It's an incredible and powerful journey full of symbolism and hope for the poor people who comfort and support each other. Well directed by Tsai Ming-Liang. The long takes make the movie flow slow, but the cinematography and the story are enjoyable, touching, and rewarding.

© Hola Mexico Film Festival, 2014.
5. Last Call 
(Mexico), 
2013.
Director Francisco Franco delivers a complex film with a fantastic cast ensemble. They, all together, have a difficult task, to bring to life the play of Albert Camus' "Caligula" for a prestigious international theater festival. Everything is chaos when the lead actor quits. The film brakes away from traditional cliches and makes us laugh and care for every character. It reminds us of “Meeting Venus” with Glenn Close, only that “Tercera llamada” has much more drama. I’ve seen this movie twice, and every time I like it even more.  
© LA Film Fest, 2013.

6.     Mother, I Love You
 (Latvia), 
2013
Janis Nordsj directs a beautiful story of Raymond, a 12-year-old boy, and his mother, a middle-class woman who has not much time to take care of the boy. Raimonds falls into a world of petty crime with problems falling over him like a snowball. His mother has to put an end to this madness after the court date. This remarkable movie reminds us that the bond of mother and son is always cemented in stone. The Swiss film “Sister” and Belgian “The Kid with a Bike” fall into the same category.  

© LA Indian Film Festival, 2014.

7.     Bombay Talkies 
(India), 
2014.
Four great short stories placed together to celebrate India’s hundred years of movie making. “The Talkies” are brilliant, honest, and eye-opening with unique scenarios. The grand finale is a big Bollywood production with the greatest Bollywood stars. 

© Polish Film Festival, 2013.
8.     Siberian Exile 
(Poland), 
2013.
An epic that is comparable with films about the Exodus and the Holocaust based on real facts about how Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews were kicked out of their lands and deported to Russia to work hard on the construction of the Trans-Siberian railroad. The story is narrated from a young boy, who is forced to go to live almost as a slave with his family and neighbors. Struggling for survival, they must fight against their captors, merciless nature, ringing frost, and deadly famine. Political circumstances and the turn of the events at the end of the WWII continues the story of the young boy who becomes a grown-up man and comes back to rebuild his life and his country.

© South East European Film Festival, 2014.
9.     Sarajevo 
(Austria), 
2014.
A magnificent political thriller with some romance and drama. The film depicts the turn of events that detonated World War I, better known as the Great War. The timing couldn’t be any better for this Austrian production when Europe commemorates the centennial of military conflict that involved many nations, left thousands of casualties, and changed Europe’s map forever. “Sarajevo” focuses on Dr. Leo Pfeffer (Florian Teichtmeister), a magistrate who investigates the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.  The film is impeccable, accurate, articulate, linear, well directed by Andreas Prochaska (“The Dark Valley”). It was intended to hit the European T.V. market, but a theatrical release in America will be worth its weight in gold.

10.  Little England 
(Greece), 
2013.
A beautiful Greek period drama set in the beginning of WWII on the island of Andros and runs to the 1950’s. The story is about two sisters, Orsa and Moscha, falling for the same man, Spyros, an aspiring navy captain. A sense of family and community engrosses this well-made film. It has an elegant cinematography scope, well-balanced editing, and a marvelous script adapted from a novel with the same name “Mikra Anglia,” written by Ioanna Karystiani, and directed by renowned Greek filmmaker Pantelis Voulgaris. The film won this year six Hellenic Film Academy Awards (Greek Oscars), including best picture.  

© Scandinavian Film Festival, 2011.

11.  Superclásico 
(Denmark), 
2010.
A comedy/drama about a Danish couple (Anders W. Berthelsen and Paprika Steen) divorcing in the middle of a super clásico soccer game in Argentina (Boca vs. River). He is a wine dealer, and she is the agent of a very well known soccer player. With the excuse of signing the divorce papers, Christian and their son Oscar will follow her from Copenhagen to Buenos Aires. The flavor of the streets and the noise of the soccer fans of the South American country juxtaposes with the fighting of husband and wife making this movie delightful, funny and sexy. It is a sweet film about couples, tango, food, soccer, culture, coming of age, passion and above all…love.
 
12.  Class Enemy 
(Slovenia), 
2013.
A very realistic approach of what could happen if… - Tensions hit the roof after the arrival of a new teacher for the German class, one of the students commits suicide, shortly after talking with him. The class revolts not only against the teacher, the school, but against the entire school system in their country. The calm approach and high camera angles contribute to the mounting tensions. At moments slow, but the beautiful cinematography makes up for it.

© ECCE FILMS
13.  The Age of Panic 
(France), 
2013
A contemporary and marvelous film that mixes documentary techniques with a modern narrative in a social context. On the night of the French presidential election, a TV journalist leaves her two children with a male babysitter. The father has a restriction court order. He cannot see his children when the mother is absent. He insists, pushing everything to chaos when the babysitter decides to take the children out in the tumultuous streets to see their mom. People get intense about the debate on who should win the election. Everything escalates in a very fierce fight between wife and husband, the law vs. people’s impulses. A unique and innovative way to tell a story. The audience feels agony and experiences the claustrophobic effect the movie has.

© Hola Mexico Film Festival, 2014.
14. I Don’t Know Whether to Slit My Wrists 
or Leave Them Long 
(Mexico), 
2013.
In a building unit in Mexico City, two neighbor couples, one fixed marriage Catholic and the other Jewish that cannot have babies. They will talk about their differences when a new neighbor arrives and invites them for dinner. He’s a handsome soccer player who is recovering from an injury. Even they are together, all of them are immersed in terrible loneliness. Two gunshots are heard, the mystery starts with the suspicion of a crime scene. Comedy and drama with musical tones make an excellent Mexican melodrama. Similar in tone to one of an earlier box office hit: “Sex, Shame and Tears/Sexo, Pudor y lágrimas.”It was a big hit in Mexico, hoping to be seen in the US theaters, it may have the same luck of many movies of this country that go straight to DVD. Now, try to read out loud the title of the movie in Spanish: “No se si cortarme las venas o dejármelas largas.” 

15.   Cold Eyes 
(Korea), 
2013.
The high-tech Korean “Training Day” gets brutal when the recruits have to face superior crime forces. A remake of “Eye in the Sky” is bringing more fans of Korean crime-thriller at this time. The film balances the special effects with storytelling, character depiction and performances with all the action sequences elements of a good combo. This “cops and thieves” kind of movie always finds fans' love all over the world.  
© Arab  Film Festival, 2012.
16.  Death for Sale 
(Morocco), 
2011.
Everything’s paid in blood for three friends who want to rob Spanish jewelry in Morocco. They want to break the circle of poverty in which they are immersed. In their conversations, one of them will say: “If you want to remain dumb clouds, I won’t stop you. To each of us, our path.” Somehow it's different from another great Moroccan film, “Horses of God,” where kids were pushed by religion into terrorism. “Death for Sale” is a magnificent thriller that also deserves to be seen on the big screen.
Photo Jose Alberto Hermosillo © www.FestivalinLA.com
17.  My Way/Cloclo 
(France), 
2012.
This is a biopic-musical of a French pop superstar from the 70’s Claude François, better known as “Cloclo,” it's well directed by Florent-Emilio Siri (“Intimate Enemies,” “Hostage”). It has the marvelous performance by Jérémie Renier (“L'Enfant,” and “Brotherhood of the Wolf”) in the depiction of Cloclo. The prolific composer with a controversial life, mostly with his father, who did not speak to him during his entire life by choosing music to make a living. That terrible feeling of being neglected inspired him to compose one of the most beloved songs ever written, “My Way.” Frank Sinatra made it famous, Paul Anka, Julio Iglesias, and much more had that song in their repertory. In México, José José translated in Spanish renamed “A mi Manera,” selling thousands of records. I could never forget how magnificent "My Way" is.

U.S.C. Film School, 2013.
18.  Chinese Take-Away 
(Argentina), 
2011.
“Un cuento chino” is the original title for this delightful heartfelt Argentinean dark comedy that no one should miss. Roberto (Ricardo Darin “The Secret in Their Eyes”) is an extremely obsessive for order, the kind of middle age guy who likes to collect all quirky articles from newspapers. In the middle of nowhere a Chinese man is thrown out of a moving car. Roberto helps him, but the language barrier comes to play a significant role, sometimes funny, sometimes nostalgic or even tragic. Roberto wants Jun out of his life, but humanity is telling him to help the stranger. This Chinese brother hides the tragedy of his past, and the reason he traveled to a foreign land, to forget the loss of the love of his life in strange circumstances. The movie is sweet, enjoyable and suitable for everyone.

© www.moviemonsters.gr
19.  J.A.C.E. 
(Greece), 
2011.
Everybody in Europe raved about J.A.C.E. and the new generation of Greek filmmakers. Critics talk about the excellent storytelling, acting, and the excellent cinematography this movie has. The story is about an Albanese/Greek kid, who witness how his foster family is massacred. Violence, chaos, and abandonment found in the streets are left for Jace who will have an Odyssey of his own, always moving away from the harsh reality and looking for a family to live with. A must see on the big screen.

© German Currents, 2013.
20.  Layla Fourie 
(Germany), 
2013.
Winner of the Jury Special Mention at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival, this emotional political drama/thriller with the paranoia, fear, and mistrust of a place with racial conflicts, South Africa. Is about a single mother trying to keep the custody of her son while working as a polygraph operator, she manages to secure a job with a company specializing in lie detectors and security. On the road, she is involved in an accident that changes her life.  Director Pia Marais delivers an impeccable work, similar to Spanish classic “Death of a Cyclist” and Argentinean co-production “The Headless Woman.” 

21.  Jappeloup 
(France), 
2013.
This emotional drama/biopic about a horse that went to compete in the Olympic Games of Los Angeles in 1984 and Montreal in 1988 winning the glory for the French team, Pierre Durand and his horse Jappeloup de Luze did the impossible. A highly entertaining film recommended for the entire family. It’s inspiring and competitive. Worth to be shown in American theaters. No one can understand the reasons why this beautiful film was not picked by a US distribution company US distribution company did not choose this beautiful film.

22.  Miradas Múltiples 
(La máquina loca), 
(Mexico), 
2012
A documentary directed by Emilio Maillé is about the work of legendary Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa. It displays the iconic images from the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema and what those moving pictures mean now to some of today’s world's greatest cinematographers such as Hideo Yamamoto, Vittorio Storaro, Luciano Tovoli, Javier Aguirresarobe, Christopher Doyle, Haskell Wexler, Raoul Coutard, Gabriel Beristain, Janusz Kaminski and much more.  To listen to each of them a comment, full of passion and admiration for the talented man behind the camera. A master class. As didactic as “Visions of Light.” This historic document not only should have played in the US already, but it should also be mandatory in every film school.  

Courtesy of SEEfest 2014 © reserved rights
23.  Karnaval 
(Turkey), 
2014.
Director Can Kılcıoğlu delivers a beautiful romance/comedy. An independent production made with the help of family, friends, and neighbors. The story follows the path of “Sideways” in humor and adventures. This intimate drama is about an ordinary guy, in a small town, living inside his car, in a quest for a good job and meeting the right girl. After a while, he finds himself working door-to-door marketing Karnaval brand carpet cleaners. The girl is a wedding cake maker working for her father. Circumstances in life will bring them together. This charming and refreshing little Turkish film will please anyone in the US.

© www.moviemonsters.gr

24.  The Priest's Children 
(Croatia), 
2013.
This is a simple story of a priest who pinches all the condoms to promote population increase on the island. After that, the moral issue is entered into the game, and the complications begin. It is funny and beautiful to watch, directed by one of the most renowned filmmakers in the country, Vinko Bresan. It has been the most successful film in Croatia. 30,000 people saw it on the first weekend. It has been the audience favorite in festivals around the world and has been distributed in many markets around the world.

© Kazakhstan Montage of Cinema, 2012.
25.   Tale of the Pink Bunny 
(Kazakhstan), 
2010.
We know very little about Kazakhstan cinema and how much it has grown in recent years. This gangsters’ dark humor, drama, has never been released in the US. “Bunny” is the story of young people in suburbia trying to survive. It shows the upper class and the poor/working class without preferential treatment. It has great visuals and a frenetic ending. “Pink Bunny” already has a sequel, "Return of The Tale of a Pink Bunny." The “Amores Perros” of Kazakhstan rocks with great music and talented filmmakers.


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© FestivalinLA, 2014