Wild Tales is a Spanish language, dark anthology film based on the themes of violence and revenge. This Argentine black comedy-drama consists of six standalone shorts. In one of the stories, characters on an airplane realize that they are part of a vengeful trap. In another short, we see an angry bride and in another, two men meet a tragic end after a silly dispute. Wild Tales was written and directed by Damian Szifron and made the final list of nominees for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards.
Tangerines is an Estonian-Georgian film produced, written and directed by Georgian film director and screenwriter Zaza Urushadze. It has been nominated for the Best Foreign Language film at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. The story takes places in the Georgian region of Abkhazia (now an autonomous region) during the war that took place in 1992-93. Many Estonians living in the region returned to their homeland during the war, but two brothers stayed behind to take care of the tangerine harvest. They get caught in the conflict and end up nursing two rival soldiers back to health. The film carries a humane, pacifist message.
This Georgian language drama made the 87th Academy Awards January shortlist of nominees for Best Foreign Language Film. This film showcases the cycle of life through the story of an Abkhaz man and his granddaughter. This modest film has almost no dialogue and takes place in a simple setting. Corn Island moves at a pace that may be a bit slow for some viewers, but this beautifully simplistic film is worth being patient for. Directed by Giorgi Ovashvili, this film has already won the Crystal Globe prize at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.
Timbuktu is a French-Mauritanian drama that has been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. The film won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jurz and the Francois Chalais Prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It is set during the occupation of Timbuktu by Ansar Dine. The local inhabitants find their peaceful lives in shambles when jihadists from Mali arrive. The main characters are faced with the daunting choice of remaining in their home and facing this new regime or escaping into exile.
This Dutch drama film directed by Paula van der Oest made the January shortlist of nominees for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards. This film is based on the true story of Lucia de Berk, a nurse sentenced to life in prison and nicknamed the ‘Angel of Death’. This film falls somewhere between a courtroom drama and psychological thriller and is reminiscent of a modern-day witch hunt. Accused is the most conventional piece shortlisted in this category this year and has the potential for a Hollywood remake following its success and intriguing true story.
Ida is one of the favorites for Oscar gold. This Polish drama has not only been nominated in the Best Foreign Language Film category, but has also been nominated for Best Cinematography. It has already been awarded Best Film by the Polish Film Academy, as well as, Best Film by the European Film Academy. The story is that of a Polish nun in the 1960s, who must visit her surviving family before she takes her vows. What she discovers will shed light on her past and shake her sense of identity. This black and white film exquisitely tells a tale of reckoning with Poland’s post-WWII history.
This Russian drama is a front-runner to win in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 87th Academy Awards. Leviathan is based on a story from the United States and adapted to a Russian setting. It is a story about ordinary people experiencing the loss of their home and land when a corrupt mayor repossesses it and tragedy ensues. The main character enlists the help of an old friend, only to find that friends are not always what they seem. The film focuses on themes of cold human nature, superficial friendliness and abuses of law and power.
‘Force Majeure’ is a Swedish drama that was made the January shortlist of nominees for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards and was also nominated at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards. This film has already won Best Film at the 50th Guldbagge Awards. The film focuses on a Swedish family on vacation in the French Alps. When an avalanche threatens the family, the father panics and runs, leaving his family behind. No one is hurt but this cowardly act has a lasting impact on the family dynamic and causes a string of problems for the rest of their time at the ski resort.
The Liberator is a Spanish language historical drama from Venezuela staring Edgar Ramirez. The story focuses on the life of Simon Bolivar. The impassioned Bolivar fought over 100 battles in South America against the Spanish, with the goal of liberation and hopes of a united South America. The Liberator beautifully depicts his struggles and strives to show the heroic Bolivar in a true human light as opposed to a flawless legend. This film made the shortlist of entries for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards, but did not advance to the final list of nominees.
By Veronika J. Spencer