cannes festival

Since 1978 the Sundance Film Festival has brought together and showcased the most original storytellers in the world. Each year some 50,000 attendees are left captivated by independent, international filmmakers who transport them to another time and place.

In honour of this year’s film festival, which takes place in Utah until February 1, we have compiled a list of our ten, go-to international films. Each film is filled with cultural quirks, complex characters and fascinating stories, leaving you longing to explore the world as the credits roll in.

POLISSE (France)

Set in Paris, Polisse follows the private and professional lives of the Parisian Children Protection Unit team. While it is a fictional movie it’s based on true cases. The poignant realism that fills this film will have you crying and laughing within moments of each other. The strength of the film comes from the stories of rape, abandonment and child labour, that while heartbreaking are introduced to the viewer in subtle ways. Maïwenn Le Besco, the director and lead actress, won recognition in French cinema for this incredibly touching film.

GOODBYE LENIN (Germany)

Goodbye Lenin tells the story of a teenage boy named Alexander and his mother living in East Germany. His mother, a fervent GDR supporter, wakes up after several months in a coma during which time the Berlin Wall has fallen and the East and the West are reunited. The doctors warns that any psychological shock could kill her, so to avoid this Alexander attempts to create an unchanged Germany, which means he is forced to recreate state-run television, find special GDR pickles and endlessly hide signs of advancing capitalism, like Coca-Cola bottles. This original story by Wolfgang Becker beautifully expresses a world in transition and the relations of individuals during the tumults of history.

CARAMEL (Lebanon)

Nadine Labaki’s movie follows the lives and struggles of five women who work and meet in a beauty institute in Beirut. One woman is having an affair with a married man, while another must hide the loss of her virginity from her conservative future in-laws. Homosexuality and the fear of getting old are two other themes the movie deals with.

VOLVER (Spain)

Pedro Almodóvar’s award-winning film tells the story of a mother who returns from her death to right several wrongs and keep an eye on her daughters. Volver is a wonderful example of magical realism being expressed in film. With overwhelming richness, colour and life this movie captures viewers hearts and is also incredibly amusing.

IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE (China)

Set in Hong-Kong in 1962, two neighbours, Mr. Chow and Mrs. Chan, realise their respective husband and wife are having an affair. As they try to grasp the severity of the situation the two develop romantic feelings for each other. The exquisite stylistic cinematography and undeniable visual prowesses of Wong Kar-wai’s film makes it one of the most famous Asian productions in history.

LES AMOURS IMAGINAIRES (Quebec)

Imaginary love is the topic of this visually striking Xavier Dolan movie. Beginning with testimonies of unrequited love, the plot follows two friends falling deeply for the same man. A classic story of jealousy and obsession, explored with originality and talent.

A SEPARATION (Iran)

In today’s Iran, a family is disintegrating. A son is refusing to leave behind his sick father and a husband is unsuccessfully trying to divorce his wife. When this family drama is intertwined with crime fiction an internationally acclaimed masterpiece is created. This story of lies, manipulation and family ties is touching beyond words.

THE SECRET IN THEIR EYES (Argentina)

This crime thriller tells the story of a retired legal counsellor, who is writing a novel to resolve his unrequited love for his boss and to recall the mystery of a murder case that never found an end. Unpredictable with an incredible script and a cast of impressive actors.

THE SOURCE (Morocco)

In a modern day version of Lysistrata, The Source tells the tale of a group of women who force men to provide water for the village by taking a sex strike. Exploring a myriad of issues from arranged marriage to education for women this film celebrates the fight for female freedom.

GREAT BEAUTY (Italy)

The 2014 Academy Award winning movie follows the life of 65 year-old journalist and socialite Jep Gambardella, who, after a life of partying rediscovers the exquisite beauty of Rome. His encounters with diverse characters in the city leaves him reflecting on his decadent life and lost love.

 Words by Marion Bretagne

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