In 19th century Bengal, visionary, poet and musician Lalon Fakir inherited the best of the liberal traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam to develop a philosophy of life which was both secular and tolerant. The film retraces the life of the spiritual leader whose moderation and pacifism drew upon him and his followers the wrath of fundamentalist Hindu and Muslim institutions. The Times of India describes Moner Manoosh as ‘ a visually stunning film which explores the burning issues of intolerance and sexual freedom to give it a sense of dynamic relevance to the global world we inhabit today.’
15 cert – India 2010 – Director: Goutam Ghose
Running time: 120 minutes – Language: Bengali
Cast: Prasenjit Chatterjee, Raisul Islam Asad
In Belfast during the1970s, images of sectarian violence, shooting and bombing fill the television screens. In the midst of this mayhem, flower-power devotee and record-shop owner Terri Hooley discovers punk and starts up an independent record label to showcase bands like Stiff Little Fingers and the Undertones who want to present the image of an alternative Ulster. This shambolic unbusiness-like businessman becomes an unlikely magnet for the city’s disaffected youth who wish to escape the grimness of their ordinary lives. This is a heart-warming tale, driven along by a great raucous medley of punk, rock and reggae.
15 cert – UK 2012 – Director: Lisa Barros d’Sa, Glenn Leyburn
Running time: 102 minutes – Language: English
Cast: Richard Dormer, Jodie Whittaker, Karl Johnson, Dylan Moran
Pat Solatano has lost everything — his house, his job, and his wife and finds himself living back with his mother and father after spending eight months in a state institution. Pat is determined to rebuild his life, remain positive and reunite with his wife but when he meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he’ll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them. An Oscar-winning performance by Jennifer Lawrence is just one of the high points of this fresh and original comedy which questions society’s accepted notions of mental illness.
15 cert – USA 2012 – Director: David O. Russell
Running time: 122 minutes – Language: English
Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert de Niro
An unlikely global box-office success, Untouchable tells the story of odd couple Philippe, a quadriplegic millionaire and Driss, his North African ex-convict carer. Their friendship develops as they discover that they are each considered ‘untouchable’ – one because of his race and background, the other because of his physical disability. Their honesty and humour when faced with huge challenges draw them closer together. Both heartbreaking and funny, Untouchable has broken new ground in the cinema’s portrayal of disability.
15 cert – France 2011 – Directors: Eric Toledano, Olivier Nakache
Running time: 112 minutes – Language: French
Cast: François Cluzet, Omar Sy
Searching for Sugar Man tells the incredible true story of Rodriguez, the greatest ’70s rock icon who never was. Discovered in a Detroit bar in the late ’60s by two celebrated producers, they recorded an album which they believed would secure his reputation as the greatest recording artist of his generation. In fact, the album bombed and the singer disappeared into obscurity amid rumors of a gruesome on-stage suicide. But a bootleg recording found its way into apartheid South Africa and, over the next two decades, he became a phenomenon. The film follows the story of two South African fans who set out to find out what really happened to their hero. Their investigation leads them to a story more extraordinary than any of the existing myths about the artist known as Rodriguez.
PG13 cert – Sweden/UK/USA 2012 – Director: Malik Bendjelloul
Running time: 85 minutes – Language: English
Cast: Stephen Segerman, Dennis Coffey
Hard-drinking Wink and his six-year-old daughter Hushpuppy live in a collapsing shack in a dirt-poor backwater of the Louisiana bayou called the Bathtub. Ill and pining for his absent wife, Wink treats Hushpuppy harshly until a natural disaster forces father and daughter to take desperate measures to survive and maintain their independence. These events, seen through the vivid imagination of the little girl, take on a surreal edge which raises the film to a different level.
12A cert – USA 2012 – Director: Benh Zeitlin
Running time: 93 minutes – Language: English
Cast: Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly
The 1960s bourgeois Parisian household of stockbroker Jean-Louis and his neurotic socialite wife Suzanne is turned upside-down when they hire an effervescent Spanish maid Maria. Maria and the other maids, who live upstairs in the servant’s quarters, reveal a ‘joie de vivre’ which at first baffles Jean-Louis and then inspires him. This is a delightful piece of French pastiche with sparkling comedy and a look back at a period when entrenched notions of class and race were beginning to crumble.
12A cert – France 2011 – Director: Philippe Le Guay
Running time: 104 minutes – Language: French
Cast: Fabrice Luchini, Natalia Verbeke, Carmen Maura
Chris wants to take Tina on a guided tour of his favourite tourist destinations and he wants to do it his way – on a journey through the British Isles in his beloved Abbey Oxford Caravan. Not long after they hit the road, however, a series of minor irritations start to disrupt Chris’ attempt to show Tina the perfect holiday. When he finally explodes, Tina sees a side of her new boyfriend that’s at once terrifying, and strangely exciting. Sightseers is a very British road trip film that walks the line between dark comedy and horror.
15 cert – UK 2012 – Director: Ben Wheatley
Running time: 88 minutes – Language: English
Cast: Alice Lowe, Steve Oram
The peaceful and contented lives of octogenarian couple Georges and Anne is shattered when Anne suffers a stroke. As her condition deteriorates, they are forced to confront their mortality and see whether the love they share can lessen the pain of the inevitable. This Cannes Palme D’or winner has been described as one of the greatest films ever made about confronting ageing and death.
12A cert – Austria/France 2011 – Director: Michael Haneke
Running time: 125 minutes – Language: French
Cast: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert
Ever since his wife was burned in a car crash, Dr. Robert Ledgard, an eminent plastic surgeon, has been interested in creating a new skin with which he could have saved her. After twelve years of secretive study and experimentation, he manages to cultivate a skin that is a real shield against every assault. Pedro Almodvar has created a truly macabre suspense thriller with twists you will never guess and are equally unlikely to forget.
15 cert – Spain 2011 – Director: Pedro Almodovar
Running time: 120 minutes – Language: Spanish
Cast: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya