Film Programs

Contemporary World Cinema

A global survey of narrative feature length films.

Across the Waters
Denmark 2016 94 min.

Unsure of whom they can trust, a Jewish musician and his family make a frantic escape from Nazi-occupied Denmark in this hair-raising story of survival based on real-life events.

Poland 2017 108 min.

In this graphic Polish crime thriller based on real-life events, writer Krystian Bala publishes a grisly novel that appears to contain details about an unsolved murder. Is he a psychopath, a mere celebrity hound or both? The detective with whom he's playing cat and mouse aims to find out.

Bad Lucky Goat
Colombia 2017 76 min.

When they accidentally run over a goat and wreck their parents' truck, bickering siblings Corn and Rita spend the next 24 hours attempting to barter and bluff their way out of trouble. An unhurried, charmingly offbeat comedy of errors set against a ramshackle but music-filled Caribbean backdrop.

Be Prepared
Poland 2017 85 min.

Scouts and hooligans conspire and clash at summer camp in this psychological thriller, in which Polish director Robert Glinski combines the aesthetics of home video and smartphone technology to probe the secret lives of young men as they learn how to contend with authority figures and enemies alike.

Beauty and the Dogs
Tunisia 2017 100 min.

When Mariam, a young Tunisian woman, is raped by police officers after leaving a party, she is put in the harrowing position of fighting for her rights against tormentors who just so happen to have the law on their side in this starkly emotional drama based on a true story.

The Cakemaker
Israel 2017 104 min.

This nuanced tale of love and loss follows Thomas from Berlin to Jerusalem, where he finds work in a café run by a grieving widow—with whose husband he had been having an affair. The pair finds comfort in one another’s friendship, but his failure to reveal his identity may leave them doubly bereft.

A Ciambra
Italy 2017 118 min.

Pio Amato is desperate to grow up fast. He drinks, smokes and follows his older brother Cosimo everywhere, learning the skills necessary for life on the streets. But when Cosimo disappears, Pio's would-be manhood is put to the test in this gritty coming-of-age drama, Italy’s 2018 Oscars nominee.

Corniche Kennedy
France 2016 94 min.

Marseilles makes a fittingly edgy backdrop for this French drama of first love careening toward danger. When a shy girl starts hanging out with the cool kids down by the shore, she delights in discovering lives so different from her own. Then the harsh realities of race and class begin to intrude.

The Day After
South Korea 2017 92 min.

Told in black-and-white flashbacks, this clever parable of (mostly bad) manners from South Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo revisits his trademark themes of infidelity and emotional upheaval to portray a book publisher as he’s forced to confront the consequences of his selfishness and self-deception.

Iran 2017 89 min.

This taut Iranian drama takes place in Tehran over the course of one long winter's night. Sara, bleeding and in need of medical care, claims she has been raped. When treatment is refused, a nightmarish, deception-filled journey for help begins, with the 19-year-old's health increasingly at risk.

France 2017 117 min.

This dramatic biopic explores a remarkable year in the life of jazz virtuoso Django Reinhardt—when he defied Nazi orders and fled to the Swiss border, joining other refugees from the Holocaust. Even as his music exhilarates, his plight raises questions about artists’ moral obligation to society.

The Dragon Defense
Colombia 2017 80 min.

Named for a famous chess move, Natalia Santa’s bittersweet, empathetic drama follows three old friends in Bogotá whose threadbare lives testify to the consequences of poor decision making. At the crossroads of middle age, they must determine whether it’s too late to take a chance on a new strategy.

Dragonfly Eyes
China 2017 81 min.

Constructed entirely of found footage from closed-circuit surveillance cameras, Chinese visual artist Xu Bing’s ambitious and spellbinding feature drama serves as a commentary on identity in the digital age while following an ill-fated romance through a faceless and frightening urban environment.

Italy 2017 91 min.

An obese, depressed recluse who lives with his mother faces a Sisyphean task when he’s cajoled by his brother, the golden child of the family, to transport a coffin from Italy to Ukraine. Along the way, he finds he has a connection with the corpse—and a reason to live—in this Italian black comedy.

France 2017 123 min.

Félicité’s life is upended when her son is badly injured in an accident. Needing money to save him, she sets out on a breakneck race through the streets of electric Kinshasa in Franco-Senegalese filmmaker Alain Gomis’s fierce, music-filled drama, winner of the Silver Bear at this year’s Berlinale.

Italy 2017 103 min.

Harried single mom Fortunata wants to rid herself of an abusive husband, a stressful life in Rome and demons from her past. Her big dream is to open her own beauty salon—but she's not quite as lucky as her name implies. Jasmine Trinca earned kudos at Cannes as the heroine of this Italian melodrama.

Taiwan 2016 111 min.

In this hybrid buddy comedy–gangster flick from Taiwan, Na Dow is hired by mob boss Ah Bao as a drug mule. On one fateful trip by taxi with Old Xu—a cabbie who won't stop talking about the meaning of life—the job takes a turn for the worse, and the mismatched duo must rely on each other to survive.

The Happiness of the World
Poland 2016 98 min.

This period drama is set in 1939 in a village on the German-Polish border, where the residents of a tenement endure the specter of war. When a journalist on assignment embeds himself in their building, their secrets begin to surface, intertwined with a mysterious Jewish beauty named Róza.

Have a Nice Day
China 2017 77 min.

Sardonic, unhurried and quietly absurdist, this animated neo-noir set in southern China doubles as a critique of contemporary consumer culture. Director Liu Jian creates a darkly beautiful backdrop for a mob caper that evokes Blade Runner, The Godfather and the works of Tarantino by turns.

Iceland 2016 129 min.

Thor and Kristjan negotiate the turmoil of adolescence in this emotional coming-of-age drama set in rural Iceland, where the boys' friendship is sorely tested when one discovers the other's true feelings about him. The young cast delivers compelling performances amid landscapes of harsh majesty.

Holy Air
Israel 2017 81 min.

In this Israeli comedy, Adam is a failure as an entrepreneur. But for his family's sake, he gives it one more go—and the “holy air” he sells to Nazareth's tourists takes off. With everyone from mobsters to politicos on the take, however, he must now decide whether success is just a lot of hot air.

I Was a Dreamer
Italy 2017 97 min.

After eight years in prison, Mirko returns home to Rome, where he's tempted to resume his criminal past—but a community organizer has other plans for him. This captivating character study examining one man's search for redemption was based on the real-life experiences of lead actor Mirko Frezza.

I'm a Killer
Poland 2016 117 min.

Based on real-life events in 1970s Poland, this absorbing psychological drama follows Janusz, a politically vulnerable detective who fears he has arrested the wrong man for the deadly crimes of the "Vampire of Zaglebie.” As the career pressures build, will he have the courage to do the right thing?

In Syria
Belgium 2017 85 min.

The reality of everyday experience for a civilian in the war zone of modern-day Damascus is explored in visceral detail in this riveting slice-of-life drama, which won of the Panorama Audience Award at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival.

In the Blood
Denmark 2016 114 min.

Set over the course of a summer in Copenhagen, this moody coming-of-age tale from Rasmus Heisterberg follows four 20-somethings who drink, take drugs and rave together, heeding their mantra that responsibility is overrated. But the passage into adulthood is as inevitable as it is undesirable.

Jasper Jones
Australia 2017 105 min.

Small-town Australia: kids on bicycles, homework, cricket…and a girl gone missing. As the locals embark on a search for the missing child in this hybrid love story–murder mystery, one boy struggles to uncover the truth, protect his friends, follow his heart and take his first steps into adulthood.

Let the Sun Shine In
France 2017 94 min.

From renowned French director Claire Denis comes this unconventional, moody and wistful romantic comedy starring Juliette Binoche as a recently divorced, 50-something Parisian artist looking for love in all the wrong places.

Loving Pia
Denmark 2017 99 min.

With unadorned candor, this elegiac work of docufiction focuses on an elderly woman, Guittou, who cares for her 60-year-old mentally disabled daughter. When she dies, what will happen to Pia? Pia has an idea: for the first time in her life, she will find herself a man.

Lullaby Killer
Poland 2017 96 min.

Based on real-life events in the 1950s, this Polish murder mystery plays out as a game of cat and mouse between a serial killer and a young cop, whose investigation leads him into a world of political corruption—where he comes to discover that he’s more like his target than he cares to admit.

Moving Parts
Trinidad and Tobago 2017 77 min.

In this unique personal drama of human trafficking—written and directed by Boulder native Emilie Upczak—Zhenzhen follows her brother to Trinidad and Tobago with the help of a smuggler. When her new restaurant job proves dangerous, a local art-gallery owner helps her fight to secure her future.

The Net
South Korea 2016 114 min.

Kim Ki-duk's dramatic morality tale lays bare the corruption and paranoia on both sides of the Korean border. When a poor North Korean fisherman drifts into southern waters, he is accused of spying. After a harsh interrogation, he returns home—only to find he must prove his innocence all over again.

Never Steady, Never Still
Canada 2017 111 min.

A mother with advanced Parkinson's disease fights for control of her life, while her son struggles with his sexual identity amid the violence of Alberta's oil-field work camps. This tender yet heartbreaking drama follows a family's fight for survival in the face of illness, guilt and grief.

On the Beach at Night Alone
South Korea 2017 101 min.

Art imitates life in this haunting tale of an actress reeling in the wake of a breakup with a married filmmaker: it's based on director Hong Sang-soo's own affair with star Kim Minhee, which caused a media frenzy in their native South Korea (and won her a Best Actress nod at this year's Berlinale).

Russia 2016 130 min.

Shot in black-and-white, this stunning period drama views the horrors of WWII from the perspective of three characters whose paths cross amid the devastation: Olga, a member of the French Resistance; Jules, the Nazi collaborator assigned to investigate her; and Helmut, the SS officer who loves her.

Quality Time
Netherlands 2017 85 min.

Dutch director Daan Bakker's sly, strange tragicomedy about a quintet of 30-something misfits is told in five parts—all employing their own inventive visual and narrative styles to convey a sense of the dislocation, dysfunction and absurdity roiling the lives of Koen, Stefaan, Kjell, Karel and Jef.

Czech Republic 2017 93 min.

Four 30-something Czech musicians rehearse for their next performance amid misunderstandings and sexual tensions that test the fate of their string quartet and their friendships. Miroslav Krobot's quirky dramatic comedy explores the fears and anxieties that underlie the pursuit of happiness.

Japan 2017 101 min.

In this heartfelt drama from Japan, Misako is a passionate translator of films for the visually impaired. At a screening, she meets Nakamori, an older photographer who is slowly losing his eyesight—but who can teach her to see what’s right in front of her, provided she’s open to the possibilities.

Israel 2017 90 min.

In Israel’s pick for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Oscars, troubled teen Asher is torn between loyalty to his favorite teacher and to his father, who expects his son to take over the family business. When tragedy strikes, Asher must take the ultimate test of maturity to resolve his dilemma.

Song of Granite
Ireland 2017 104 min.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of Irish folk music with this graceful biopic, which examines the life of legendary 20th-century singer Joe Heaney even as it paints a thoughtful portrait of The Emerald Isle itself, celebrating its culture and its artists.

Poland 2017 120 min.

Bubi, aka Jan Banas, was a soccer legend in his adopted Poland in the 1960s and 1970s. This thrilling biopic by Polish filmmaker and DFF tribute guest Jan Kidawa-Blonski is at once a love story, a cautionary tale of friendship and an epic fable of triumph and defeat.

Summer 1993
Spain 2017 93 min.

Writer-director Carla Simón makes her feature debut with this quietly affecting family drama, set in sun-drenched rural Spain, about a young orphan girl sent to live with her aunt and uncle and struggling to overcome her loneliness and disorientation.

Norway 2017 116 min.

When shy, pious Thelma goes to college, she begins having violent seizures that lead to a friendship with beautiful classmate Anja—while revealing supernatural abilities. Soon both the terrifying scope of her powers and tragic secrets from her past emerge in this paranormal thriller from Norway.

Under the Tree
Iceland 2017 89 min.

In this pitch-black comedy of manners, Atli's wife throws him out and forbids him to see his daughter, while his parents engage in a slow-burning dispute with the neighbors. As the two stories of sleek, bleak suburbia merge, the notoriously dark worldview of Icelandic cinema comes into focus.

Until the Birds Return
France 2017 113 min.

Algeria’s past and present collide in the lives of a beleaguered property developer, an ambitious neurologist plagued by wartime secrets and a young woman torn between destiny and desire in this character-driven drama, which offers a compelling glimpse into the soul of a contemporary Arab society.

A Wedding
Belgium 2016 98 min.

An unwanted pregnancy and the imminent prospect of an arranged marriage are just two of the challenges that confront Zahira, a young Muslim woman trapped between family tradition and modern life. At once a subtle, sensitive coming-of-age story and a penetrating social drama based on actual events.

Germany 2017 119 min.

This slow-burning thriller follows a crew of German construction workers building a hydroelectric plant in rural Bulgaria, where tensions mount when they start mixing with the locals. In the rising tide of xenophobia, can they learn to trust one another—or is the stage being set for a showdown?

Wild Roses
Poland 2017 90 min.

While her husband is working abroad, Ewa secretly gives birth to a baby she then puts up for adoption in this unsparing drama about a woman trapped by circumstances and her own web of deceit, by which director Anna Jadowska explores the expectations placed on women in Polish society today.

Winter Brothers
Denmark 2017 97 min.

In Danish filmmaker Hlynur Pálmason's compelling, tragicomic lack-of-love story, two emotionally fraught brothers in a desolate mining town are drawn into a violent feud as workplace ostracism and romantic rivalry leads one to the brink of revenge.

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