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
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
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
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 
   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 
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
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  
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
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
     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 
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.
18. Los Ángeles
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
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
 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
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.
A Week of French Films in Hollywood

23. On the Way to School, 
 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
   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.


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