In the dunes outside Timbuktu, Kidame, a cattle farmer, has built up a peaceful life with his wife, daughter and a young shepherd boy. Meanwhile, the Jihadis have taken over Timbuktu and are intent on imposing their version of Islam on its citizens where music, laughter, cigarettes, and even soccer have been banned. Kidame’s isolation ends when a quarrel with a neighbour gets him embroiled in the perverted Jihadi justice system. A cry from the heart about bigotry, arrogance and violence, Sissako’s film also seeks to understand the motivation behind those responsible for the oppression. Despite the sobering nature of the subject, Timbuktu revels in the joy of people, music and film, making this a witty, beautiful and highly memorable film.
Cert PG – France/Mauritania 2015
Director: Abderrahmane Sissako – Running time: 110 minutes – Language: French/Arabic
Cast: Ibraham Ahmed, Layla Walet Mohamed, Abel Jafri
In 2000, a group of working class people from a depressed mining community in South Wales conceived the idea of organising a syndicate to breed a racehorse: drinkers in the bar would get a share in return for a weekly £10 sub. This is the true unlikely story of Dream Alliance, the racehorse raised on the local allotments who rose through the ranks to win the Welsh Grand National. Director Osmond uses old amateur video footage and TV excerpts to emphasize the truly amazing feats of the horse and its owners. The clash of cultures when the villagers encounter the millionaire owners and race-goers provides some gentle comedy but the predominant theme is that of determination and perseverance against the odds.
Cert PG – UK 2015 – Director: Louise Osmond
Running time: 86 minutes – Language: English
Cast: Jan Vokes, Brian Vokes, Howard Davies
Víctor, a 17 year old wheelbarrow leader, dreams of becoming famous, often absorbed by the TV in the appliance store in the Municipal Market. He receives an unusual proposal, to carry 7 boxes of unknown content, in exchange for a torn half of a $ 100 bill. He will get the other half when he finishes the job. With a borrowed cell phone, the contractor uses to tell him the way, Víctor embarks on the journey. Crossing the eight blocks of the market seemed easy but things get complicated along the way. There is something in those boxes that starts a high-speed wheelbarrow chase in the secret and gloomy corridors of the market. This is a low-budget but inventive and tense crime thriller grounded in social realism.
Cert 15 – Paraguay 2014 – Director: Juan Carlos Maneglia
Running time: 100 minutes – Language: Spanish
Cast: Celsa Sebastian Franco, Victor Sosa
Doug and Abi (David Tennant and Rosamund Pike) drive their three children to Scotland for Doug’s father’s seventy-fifth birthday. Surrounded by relatives, the kids innocently reveal the secrets of their family life. Grandfather Gordy (played by a perfectly cast Billy Connolly) has had enough of his two miserable sons and their wives but strikes up a charming friendship with his grandchildren and takes them off for an adventure with unforeseen consequences. This delightful British film, from the creators of Outnumbered, is all about the important things in life.
Cert PG – UK 2014 – Director: Andy Hamilton
Running time: 95 minutes – Language: English
Cast: David Tennant, Rosamund Pike, Billy Connolly
Pride is inspired by an extraordinary true story. It’s the summer of 1984, Margaret Thatcher is in power and the National Union of Mineworkers is on strike, prompting a London-based group of gay and lesbian activists to raise money to support the strikers’ families. Initially rebuffed by the Union, the group identifies a tiny mining village in Wales and sets off to make their donation in person. As the strike drags on, the two groups discover that standing together makes for the strongest union.
15 cert – UK 2014 – Director: Matthew Warchus
Running time: 119 minutes – Language: English
Cast: Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West
Ryota is a successful Tokyo architect who works long hours to provide for his wife and six-year-old son, Keita. But when a blood test reveals Keita and another baby were switched at birth, two very different families are thrown together and forced to make a difficult decision. This is a subtle and perceptive examination of family life and the importance of nature and nurture.
PG cert – Japan 2013 – Director: Hirokazu Koreeda
Running time: 121 minutes – Language: Japanese
Cast: Masaharu Fukuyama, Machiko Ono, Yoko Maki
Bathsheba Evergreen, the beautiful and independent heroine of Hardy’s classic novel, is torn between three suitors of wildly divergent character and social standing. This timeless story of Bathsheba’s choices and passions explores the nature of relationships and love as well as the human ability to withstand hardship through perseverance. Carey Mulligan’s Bathsheba is every bit as much a Hardy heroine for our times as Julie Christie’s was for the late Sixties.
13 cert – UK 2015 – Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Running time: 119 minutes – Language: English
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen
Andrew Neyman is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Terence Fletcher (JK Simmons), an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Andrew’s passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability-and his sanity. Whiplash won three Oscars including Best Supporting Actor for JK Simmons.
15 cert – USA 2014 – Director: Damien Chazelle
Running time: 107 minutes – Language: English
Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons
From the director of Dallas Buyer’s Club and based on the book adapted by Nick Hornby, Wild stars Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed. At a low point in her life, Cheryl makes a rash decision to hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail on her own. With no experience and driven by sheer determination, this is a remarkable true tale of self-discovery and human endurance.
Cert 15 – USA 2014 – Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Running time: 115 minutes – Language: English
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffmann
Having lost her parents, Anna has been brought up in a convent where she has taken the decision to become a nun herself. Before she takes her final vows the Mother Superior insists that Anna meets her sole surviving relative. Her aunt inhabits a world that is very different from the calm seclusion of the convent and together they discover the remarkable history of Anna’s family with explosive consequences for each of the women. Winner of the best foreign language film at the 2014 Oscars.
Cert 12A – Poland 2013 – Director: Pawel Pawlikowsky
Running time: 115 minutes – Language: Polish
Cast: Agata Kuleza, Agata Trzebuchowska