Film Programs

Contemporary World Cinema

A global survey of narrative feature length films.

Abou Leila
Algeria 2019 135 min.

Algeria, 1994. In the midst of civil war, two longtime friends and police officers set off on a quest, crossing the Sahara in search of Abou Leila, a terrorist on the run. What they discover about themselves, however, may prove far more dangerous in this fever dream of a war drama.

Morocco 2019 98 min.

Friendships aren’t always easy, as Samia, a young woman pregnant out of wedlock, finds when she’s grudgingly taken in by Abla, a single mother and grieving widow. But in this quietly stirring Moroccan drama, both women have something to learn through their improbable sisterhood.

France 2019 104 min.

This atmospheric Cannes Grand Prix winner is equal parts creepy and romantic in its portrayal of Ada, a Senegalese woman in love with a man who has set out for Spain in search of economic opportunity. What follows is a ghost story, as she and the other women left behind become seemingly possessed.

United Kingdom 2019 89 min.

Martin is a fisherman in a small Cornish village turned vacation spot, where he’s at war with everyone: tourists, the neighbors who welcome them, even his own family. Shot in black-and-white on 16mm, this drama brings the conflict between tradition and modernity into high relief.

Russia 2019 130 min.

In post–World War II Leningrad, nurse Iya (the titular Beanpole) and former soldier Masha attempt to rebuild their lives—but the devastation of their city is nothing compared to the damage inflicted on their psyches in this crushing but beautiful Russian period drama.

The Best of Dorien B.
Belgium 2019 106 min.

Belgian co-writer/director Anke Blondé makes an impressive feature debut with this dramatic comedy, all the more affecting for being unsentimental, about a woman on the edge of losing everything—and finding herself in the process.

The Cage
Czech Republic 2019 87 min.

When a young man claiming to be a distant relative enters her life, lonely old Mrs. Galová enjoys companionship for the first time in ages. But something isn’t quite right, and she’s about to discover why in this psychological thriller from Czech director Jirí Strach.

Castle of Dreams
Iran 2019 86 min.

Having abandoned his family some years ago, scoundrel Jalal reappears in the lives of his children, Sara and Ali, at a most inopportune time—only to escort them on a most inauspicious road trip in this subtly moving Iranian drama.

The County
Iceland 2019 92 min.

Meet Inga, a middle-aged dairy farmer who’s channeling her grief over the death of her husband into a fight against both institutional corruption and the patriarchy behind it in this high-spirited drama from Iceland.

Divine Love
Brazil 2019 101 min.

In a futuristic Brazil, Joana is a deeply religious woman who uses her bureaucratic position to prevent divorces. But while doing what she considers to be God’s work, she finds herself unable to conceive a child in her own marriage—and is soon plunged into a crisis of faith in this stylish drama.

Dolce Fine Giornata
Poland 2019 96 min.

Maria Linde lives the sweet life as a free-spirited expat in Italy, where she’s renowned for her literary works and worshipped by much younger men. But when she uses her platform in seeming defense of terrorism, she faces a bitter awakening in this provocative, multilayered drama.

Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains
China 2019 150 min.

Three generations of a Chinese family struggle with issues related to money, class, health, and love over the course of one year in Gu Xiaogang’s poetic, painterly debut drama. As the seasons change in the Fuyang district of Hangzhou City, so do the clan’s relationships and fortunes.

A Family Tour
Taiwan 2018 107 min.

The personal is political—never more so than in this sometimes comically absurd, often heartrending drama, loosely based on director Ying Liang’s own experience, about an exiled Chinese filmmaker whose only way to see her ailing mother is to travel to Taiwan and stalk the elder woman’s tour group.

The Fever
Brazil 2019 98 min.

Against a backdrop of destruction in the Amazon rainforest, this eloquent Brazilian drama centers on indigenous widower Justino, who long ago left his home with the Desana tribe to make a living in the city. Now it’s his daughter’s turn to leave for school—just as he’s contracted a mysterious fever.

Free Fall
Hungary 2014 80 min.

A bitter woman steps off the roof of her bleak apartment house and remarkably survives the fall; she reenters the building to find the elevator inevitably broken. Ascending the stairs, she observes bizarre scenes unfolding within her neighbors’ apartments in a series of darkly comic vignettes.

Canada 2018 129 min.

Loss of innocence is at the heart of this spare yet wrenching coming-of-age drama from Québécois filmmaker Philippe Lesage about four teenagers discovering who they are through the exploration of who, and how, they love.

Ghost Town Anthology
Canada 2019 97 min.

Frequent fest guest Denis Côté returns to the DFF with this quietly haunting tale of a rural French-Canadian village in which the living and the dead face off, asking by their very presence the same profound question of one another: Why are you still here?

A Girl From Mogadishu
Ireland 2019 112 min.

Ifrah Ahmed could have been just one more nameless, faceless victim in the annals of war-torn Somalia. Instead she became a global heroine, positioning herself at the forefront of the fight against gender-based violence. This enlightening biopic tells her story.

A Girl Missing
Japan 2019 111 min.

Ichiko, a nurse for elderly Tôko, is beloved by her charge’s granddaughters, bubbly young Saki and serious Motoko. But when Saki is abducted by Ichiko’s own nephew, the resulting guilt by association has a profound and devastating effect in this slow-burning Japanese thriller.

The Golden Glove
Germany 2019 115 min.

Consider this your trigger warning. Depicting 1970s Hamburg as a lurid, squalid pit of iniquity, director Fatih Akin (Head On, DFF27; In the Fade, DFF40) brings the crimes of real-life, low-life German serial killer Fritz Honka to the big screen in unrelentingly grisly detail.

Happy New Year
Hungary 2018 102 min.

In this Carveresque Hungarian dramedy, a group of lifelong friends comes together on New Year’s Eve for a dinner celebration. When they decide to play a little game involving the messages they receive on their cell phones, secrets emerge to suggest their future will not be happy for long.

His Master's Voice
Hungary 2018 108 min.

Best known for bizarre black comedies (Taxidermia, 2006; Free Fall, DFF37), Hungary’s György Pálfi is back with a meditative drama based on a 1968 sci-fi novel by Stanislaw Lem—one that asks unsettling questions about our hunger for connection, be it with aliens or our own loved ones.

House of Hummingbird
South Korea 2018 138 min.

A lonely teenaged girl desperately seeks from the outside world the compassion and companionship she doesn’t get at home. Though set in a rapidly modernizing Seoul circa 1994, this perceptive and earnest coming-of-age tale couldn’t be more timeless or universal.

I Lost My Body
France 2019 81 min.

“Once you’ve cheated fate, what’s next?” Naoufel, an orphaned Moroccan boy, asks in this beguiling and thought-provoking animated adventure about a severed hand on a quest to find its former body, which won the top prize in the Critics’ Week section at Cannes this year.

South Korea 2019 144 min.

Two fathers, two sons, and one mysterious woman are caught in a classic web of criminal and political intrigue in this Korean thriller about the aftermath of a fatal accident, which drags even the cleanest-cut characters through the mud—and leaves them drenched in blood.

The Invisible Life
Brazil 2019 139 min.

Based on Martha Batalha’s darkly comic novel, this splashy Brazilian period drama set in 1940s Rio de Janeiro traces the lives of two sisters separated by a cruel father. Ever orbiting one another without connecting, they yearn for what might have been while forging their own paths.

The Invisible Witness
Italy 2018 102 min.

Taking place within a single room during a three-hour pre-trial strategy session, this juicy Italian murder mystery unfolds in the competing flashbacks of the rich and powerful suspect who swears he’s innocent and the woman who doubts him but swears equally to defend him in court.

Italy 2019 83 min.

At the center of this grimly quiet Italian drama, set on the fringes of society, are an unnamed man and woman who rarely venture into the sunlight, instead spending their nights working—he in the market, she on the streets. Until, that is, their nascent relationship sparks an act of violence.

Iron Bridge
Poland 2019 85 min.

After a powerful explosion, a mining company loses contact with its workers underground—including Oskar, whose wife Magda is having an affair with the mine foreman, Kacper. Now the lovers must reckon with their guilt while attempting to save Oskar’s crew in this tense Polish drama.

It Must Be Heaven
France 2019 97 min.

Filmmaker E.S. has left Palestine—but no matter how far he travels, he can never leave the nation of his birth behind. Reminders of Nazareth imbue Paris and New York in this charmingly deadpan comedy that asks whether it’s ever truly possible to find a place to call home.

Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway
Spain 2019 83 min.

Spanish director Miguel Llansó proves that a pastiche of retro B-movie genres can, in the right hands, result in arthouse transcendence. This gonzo sci-fi spy flick has it all: romance, danger, political intrigue, scientific experiments, time travel, kung fu, holograms, and delicious pizza.

The Keeper
United Kingdom 2018 120 min.

Bert Trautmann was a Manchester City goalkeeper who became a hero first for winning the 1956 FA Cup finals with a broken neck and later for good works that earned him an Order of the British Empire. Before that, though, he was a German POW in love with an English girl. This is his astonishing story.

Italy 2018 90 min.

It’s the day before Mauro’s funeral, yet his widow can't shed a tear, his son is preparing for TV interviews in hopes of impressing his crush at the memorial, and his father and brother are at blows in this Italian hybrid of dark comedy and affecting family drama.

Let Me Introduce You to Sofia
Italy 2018 98 min.

In this sweet comedy from Italy, single father Gabriele is thrilled to have a second chance at romance when the one who got away, Mara, returns home after years of travel. There’s only one problem: She loathes children. How long can he keep her in the dark about his beloved daughter Sofia?

Love Trilogy: Chained
Israel 2019 112 min.

From a semi-improvised script by Israel’s Yaron Shani comes a forceful examination of toxic masculinity in the form of veteran cop Rashi, who sees himself as a force for good. But as he faces assault charges at work and fomenting rebellion at home, he’s bound to begin questioning his own authority.

The Man Who Surprised Everyone
Russia 2018 105 min.

What does it mean to die like a man? For that matter, what does it mean to live like one? This modern morality tale from Russia tackles such questions with affecting grace in the form of Egor, a Siberian forest guard who faces cancer—and ostracism from his community—in a red dress and heels.

Manta Ray
Thailand 2018 105 min.

Near the coast of Thailand where thousands of Rohingya refugees have drowned, a local fisherman bonds with an injured stranger he has rescued from certain death. When the good samaritan himself disappears at sea, his new friend steps in to fill the void in this profound and multilayered drama.

Brazil 2019 155 min.

When Brazil’s elected Communist government was overthrown in 1964, the ensuing military dictatorship lasted for more than 20 years. This epic biopic about leftist revolutionary Carlos Marighella and his struggle against the junta has already proven deeply controversial in his homeland.

The Miracle of the Sargasso Sea
Greece 2019 121 min.

The tiny Greek town of Missolonghi is the kind of place where the residents are as miserable as any eel they process in the local factory. But as the secrets they’ve long harbored seep out into the open, their jaded police chief sees a chance for redemption in this pitch-dark psychological thriller.

Romania 2019 116 min.

There are no monsters here—just two well-meaning but complicated and conflicted individuals coming to terms with profound loss in this intricately etched, achingly beautiful portrait of a couple in crisis. Think Scenes from a Marriage set in modern-day Romania.

Lithuania 2019 96 min.

Reeling from his parents’ divorce, 12-year-old Kovas is looking forward to summer vacation in his mother Viktorija’s native Lithuania, and so is she—it’s been decades since she has revisited the old homestead. But the reunion holds painful surprises for them both in this lyrical family drama.

My Own Good
Italy 2018 94 min.

Elia is the sole resident of Provvidenza, his only company being his memories of life in the village before an earthquake destroyed it and killed his wife. Now he’s being forced from his home just as he’s becoming convinced she’s trying to contact him from beyond in this touching Italian drama.

Night God
Kazakhstan 2018 110 min.

For sheer atmosphere, there’s no topping the stylized hellscape in which Kazakh writer/director Adilkhan Yerzhanov’s enigmatic yet enthralling vision of the apocalypse takes place. It’s grounded in mythology—but its parallels to the realities we currently face couldn’t be more clear.

Noah Land
Turkey 2019 109 min.

What is love? What is faith? What is honor? While drawing, with deep sensitivity, a portrait of a terminally ill father whose son is struggling to uphold his wish to be buried beneath a tree that’s believed to be holy, this Turkish drama also grapples with timeless moral and existential dilemmas.

Oh Mercy!
France 2019 119 min.

This riveting crime procedural is set in the gritty town of Roubaix, France, where immigrants, addicts, and derelicts clash with each other and with the cops—including police chief Daoud and his rookie partner, who are investigating a pair of women tied to a murder.

On the Roof
Czech Republic 2019 95 min.

In this feel-good drama from Czech writer/director Ji í Mádl, Mr. Rypar is an aging, irascible loner whose fury about modern life in Prague is complicated by an unexpected encounter with Song, a young Vietnamese immigrant searching for a better life far from home.

The River
Kazakhstan 2018 108 min.

In this now-dreamy, now-startlingly strange coming-of-age fable from Kazakhstan, five young brothers live the most austere of lives, toiling away on the family’s desolate homestead—which begins to look, in hindsight, like a sort of paradise after their slick cousin Kanat comes to visit.

China 2018 95 min.

In this visually dazzling, fabulistic work of stop-motion animation from China, a high-heeled mother shoe survives in a fascistic dystopia by disguising herself as a male shoe in order to care for her young daughter (also, you guessed it, a shoe).

France 2019 100 min.

Sibyl is eyeing a career change from psychotherapist to novelist, but her muse is elusive. Enter untethered new patient Margot, an irresistible source of inspiration. This darkly funny French drama follows Sibyl as she grows increasingly obsessed with—and entangled in—Margot’s chaotic life.

Sick, Sick, Sick
Brazil 2019 100 min.

In this eerie, visually mesmerizing perversion of a teen romance from Brazil, young Silvia is in mourning—a mourning so intense it makes her literally lovesick. As her condition worsens, she begins to conjure up ways to resurrect the object of her obsession. She may have more power than she knows.

Song Without a Name
Peru 2018 97 min.

Georgina is a poor Quecha woman living on the outskirts of Lima. The day she gives birth at a private clinic, her baby is snatched away from her, and Georgina must confront both the indifferent police and violent terrorists to search for her daughter in this Peruvian drama based on a true story.

Sorry We Missed You
United Kingdom 2019 100 min.

When Ricky takes a contract job as a delivery driver, his struggling family hopes they’ve finally gotten the break from debt they so badly need. But the fine print on that contract is about to be writ large, and it will take a toll on them all in this stirring drama from British director Ken Loach.

Stars by the Pound
France 2018 88 min.

Lonely Lois is just 16, but her dream of becoming an astronaut has already been stymied due to her weight: over 200 pounds. When her despair lands her in a hospital ward with three equally damaged girls, she finds her tribe for the first time in this slyly poignant coming-of-age drama from France.

The Stolen Caravaggio
Italy 2018 110 min.

Acclaimed screenwriter Alessandro is struggling to usher his latest project into production. After all, he hasn’t penned a single word—and his ghostwriter, Valeria, is relying on a mysterious Mafia source for content. This Italian film within a film combines drama, thriller, and satire.

France 2019 123 min.

Winner of the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale, this complex, multilayered drama follows Yoav, a young Israeli soldier determined not merely to leave his homeland but to excise all traces of it from his psyche as he starts a new life in France.

Tunisia 2019 120 min.

As a soldier in the Tunisian army, S. is trapped in a cycle of violence. As the pregnant wife of a wealthy man, F. is trapped in a gilded cage. Their escape into the forest makes for an experimental, richly allegorical tale about abandoning society to return to a more primitive state in nature.

The Twentieth Century
Canada 2019 90 min.

Monty Python meets The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in the art direction of this off-the-wall parody of a biopic about Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King, who more than lives up to the Queen’s proclamation: “Canadians, in happy days as in sad, disappointed shall you be.”

The Whistlers
Romania 2019 97 min.

Caught between his boss, the gorgeous Gilda, and the lure of 30 million laundered Euros, dirty cop Cristi is set on learning an ancient whistling language as a means of outsmarting constant state surveillance in this noir-ish Romanian romp that skirts the line between deadpan and deadly.

A White, White Day
Iceland 2019 109 min.

Ingimundur won’t talk about the death of his wife in a car accident, but his actions speak louder than words. The more his grief manifests itself in violent outbursts, the more he hurts only himself in this disquieting Icelandic drama, aptly set against the forbidding Arctic tundra.

The Wild Goose Lake
China 2019 113 min.

He’s just been released from prison, and already gang boss Zhou has a dead cop on his hands after an illicit meeting gone wrong. Now he’s on the run from friend and foe alike in this Chinese noir thriller set along the shores of a murky lake.

Young Ahmed
Belgium 2019 90 min.

Renowned Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne won the Best Director award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival for this complex, engrossing drama about a young Muslim teen on a road to radicalization that seems to have no off-ramp.

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