On the losing side of a civil war in Sri Lanka, a Tamil soldier poses as the husband and father of two other refugees in order to escape their ravaged homeland. Arriving in France, the makeshift “family” sets about establishing a new life-only to find themselves once again embroiled in violence on the mean streets of Paris. Dheepan is a heartrending saga of three strangers united by circumstance and struggle and also a powerful depiction of the immigrant experience.
Cert 15 – France 2015
Director: Jacques Audiard – Running time: 100 minutes – Language: English subtitles
Cast: Jesuthasan Antonyhasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan
Two hundred years after European colonisers in Chile suppressed the indigenous seafaring population of Patagonia, the Pinochet regime used the same waters to dispose of the bodies of murdered opponents. Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Tierra del Fuego coastline, the film investigates the power of the ocean and its role in shaping the lives of the people around it. This haunting Chilean documentary is less journalism and more a history of a personalized and meditative sort.
Cert 12A – Chile 2015
Director: Patricio Guzman – Running time: 82 minutes – Language: English subtitles
Cast: Raul Zunita
Set in 1992, during the growing conflict between Georgia and Abkhazian separatists in the wake of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, this compassionate tale focuses on two Estonian immigrant farmers who decide to remain in Georgia long enough to harvest their tangerine crop. When one of the farmers takes in two wounded soldiers from opposite sides, the fighters vow to kill each other when they recover, but their extended period of recovery has a humanizing effect that might transcend ethnic divides.
Cert 15 – Georgia 2013
Director: Zaza Urushadze – Running time: 87 minutes – Language: English subtitles
Cast: Lembit Ulfsak, Elmo Nuganen
In the Belier family, everyone is deaf, except dutiful sixteen-year-old Paula who acts as an indispensable interpreter for her parents and younger brother, especially in the running of the family dairy farm. While her father has decided to run for mayor, spurred on by her vivacious but over-involved mother, Paula’s attention is elsewhere. After impulsively joining the school choir, her music teacher discovers her natural talent for singing and encourages her to travel to Paris to develop her singing voice. This moving and humorous family drama, featuring Louane Emera as Paula (first discovered in the French edition of The Voice), was a word-of-mouth phenomenon across Europe, becoming France’s most popular film of 2015.
Cert 12A – France 2014
Director: Eric Lartigau – Running time: 106 minutes – Language: English subtitles
Cast: Karin Viard, François Damiens, Louane Emera
Adapted from the bestselling book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Adam McKay’s film is a comedic take on the international banking collapse of 2008. Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling are a group of unorthodox investment bankers who recognise that the boom years of finance are built on the shakiest of foundations and seek to make their fortunes from the crash that no one else appears to foresee. It’s funny because it’s true, and it’s tragic and frightening for the same reason.
Cert 15 – USA
Director: Adam McKay – Running time: 130 minutes – Language: English
Cast: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt
The Lady in the Van tells the true story of the relationship between the playwright Alan Bennett and Miss Shepherd, a woman of uncertain origins who ‘temporarily’ parked her van in Bennett’s London driveway and proceeded to live there for 15 years. Maggie Smith returns as the singular Miss Mary Shepherd, 16 years after she first played the part on stage.
Cert 12 – UK 2015
Director: Nicholas Hytner – Running time: 104 minutes – Language: English
Cast: Maggie Smith, Alex Jennings
Mustang is a story of five teenage sisters who live with their aunt, uncle and grandmother in a northern Turkish village. When they are seen innocently playing with some boys on the beach, the family overreacts, removing all ‘instruments of corruption,’ like cell phones and computers, and essentially imprisoning the girls, subjecting them to endless lessons in housework in preparation for them to become brides. As the eldest sisters are married off, the younger ones bond together to avoid the same fate. Erguven’s debut film is a raw, funny and moving portrayal of modern female empowerment.
Cert 15 – France/Turkey 2015
Director: Deniz Gamze Erguven – Running time: 97 minutes – Language: English subtitles
Cast: Gunes Sensoy, Ayberk Pekcan, Bahar Kerimoglu
Suffragette is an historical drama about the women who were willing to lose everything in their fight for equality in early-20th-century Britain. The story centres around Maud (played by Carey Mulligan), a working wife and mother whose life is forever changed when she is secretly recruited to join the U.K.’s growing suffragette movement.
Cert 12A – UK 2015
Director: Sarah Gavron – Running time: 106 minutes – Language: English
Cast: Carey Mulligan, Anne-Marie Duff, Helena Bonham Carter, Meryl Streep
Set on a remote South Pacific island, covered by rain forest and dominated by an active volcano, this is a heartfelt story of a forbidden love affair, a sister’s loyalty and the struggle between traditional culture and the new ways. The film’s familiar plot, a Romeo and Juliet affair with the star-crossed lovers of rival tribes, is based on a true story and is beautifully enacted by people of the Yakel tribe of Vanuatu.
Cert: Not Rated – Australia, Vanuatu 2015
Director: Martin Butler – Running time: 100 minutes – Language: English subtitles
Cast: Villagers of Tanna
Gummi and Kiddi are estranged brothers raising their prized ancestral sheep stock in an isolated Icelandic valley. When the authorities want to cull their flocks to halt the spread of a lethal disease, the brothers are forced to come together to save the special breed passed down for generations – and their own way of life – from extinction. Rams was winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Cert 15 – Iceland 2016
Director: Grimur Hakonarson – Running time: 90 minutes – Language: English subtitles
Cast: Theodor Juliusson, Sigurour Sigurjonsson