Craving the good days when you could luxuriously go through film festival brochures and put a tick next to all the movies you wanted to see?
We have some good news - you can still create your very own international film festival from home. Your library subscribes to some great streaming services, and our latest - Beamafilm - gives you unlimited access.
Our librarians have been checking out the great range of international films available (hard job but somebody’s got to do it) and come up with the following must-see picks. We would love to hear your choices too, so please add yours in the comments below. Happy (DIY) International Film Festival everybody!
One of the most-loved films of all times. The heartbreaking tale of a father and son and their endless quest to find their stolen bicycle. Set in Rome, this film shows the hardships and struggle of surviving after the second World War and what a bicycle means to a family who is starting all over again.
One of Francois Truffaut’s classics, this movie tells about the friendship of Jules and Jim, both in love with the same woman, Catherine, played by the magnificent Jeanne Moreau. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Henri-Pierre Roche, the tragic love story will draw you to the three characters, their energy in life and their unconventional friendship.
Stars the beautiful Catherine Deneuve and the young Gerard Depardieu and directed by Francois Truffaut. Marion, an actress who tries to survive in German-occupied France by running her theatre and inside it lies a secret which doesn’t escape the suspicions of the the Nazi army and raided the theatre one night.
Helen’s NZ Film Picks
When teenager Hongi's entire tribe is betrayed and murdered, he vows to avenge his father (the chieftain), and all his loved ones. First though he must venture through the ominous Dead Lands to form an alliance with a mysterious and brutal warrior. While 'The Dead Lands’ does contain some graphic scenes that are certainly not for the faint hearted, it is not your typical action movie either. With dialogue entirely in Te Reo, breathtaking Aoteoroa scenery, and references to Maori mythology, ‘The Dead Lands’ is both a heart stopping action adventure, and a look into a fascinating culture.
Mr Fiske believes himself impervious to emotion or pain. His aloof talks with his son have continued on for decades, despite the death of his wife years ago. How can his sons recent acquaintance with Dean Spanley - a man who consistently recollects his past life as a dog, once a few sips into Tokay - help father and son? A truly heartwarming movie with razor sharp dialogue, beautiful cinematography, and superb acting, in which masterful underplay veils huge emotion.
The powerful story of the fearless ‘white mouse’ the elusive New Zealand spy who became the Gestapos most wanted. This fascinating docu-drama tells the story of her extraordinary life, with affecting dramatisations, and interviews from friends, associates and historians.
Follow the highs and lows, triumphs, and rivalries of Canterbury's impassioned chicken breeders, as they gear up for the 2015 National Poultry Show. A classic Kiwi documentary imbued with great humour and endearing quirkiness. 'Pecking Order' is essential viewing for fans of Kiwiana, and all crazy chicken ladies like myself.
This film is about the sisterly relationship between two pairs of girls who are matched as laotong (old sames), based on the Chinese tradition. As a laotong pair living in 19th-century China, Snow Flower and Lily support each other with emotional companionship and communicate with a secret language called nu shu, written between the folds of a white silk fan. In a parallel story in present day Shanghai, the laotong's descendants, Nina and Sophia, struggle to maintain the intimacy of their own childhood friendship.This film is adapted from the same-title novel by Lisa See. The present-story is an invention of the movie but assembles the parts of the past-story beautifully. The heart-breaking story shows how women find their voices within the patriarchal society and adapt to the relentlessly changed world with eternal fidelity. The book received great praise internationally. Lisa See’s unique feminist scholarship can also be found in her other novels.
Watching this made me feel like I was witnessing a never to be repeated moment in Cuban music history. What happens when you put musicians who have honed their craft over a life time together, to compose and perform? Buena Vista Social Club happens. Their sound is atmospheric, cheeky and funky, much like the musicians themselves. Let this band take you to their Cuban nights and you will be sure to visit them again and again.
Is there really someone for everyone? Even the seasoned romantic comedy veterans amongst us will struggle to cheer for the chances of Luke and Anna to bridge the divide between them. The urban back streets of Melbourne sets the atmosphere for potentially the most unlikely and mismatched individuals to meet and becomes a character itself. Can Luke overcome his obsessive compulsive tendencies long enough to get close of one if not all of Anna’s multiple personalities?
As a rule, I’m not a fan of zombie movies or children being placed in risky situations. That said this movie is worth the anxiety and nail biting suspense, to witness the choices a relatable mother and father make in the quest to preserve life under extraordinary circumstances. Impossible choices and humanity are the markers of a story you can’t help but place yourself into.
The Rocket (Lao with English subtitles)
Not many films are set in Laos, one of my bucket-list destinations (I blame you, Dr Siri!), so selecting The Rocket was an easy choice for me. The film tells the story of a 10-year-old boy’s search for a new home after he is displaced by the planned creation of a dam. Ahlo’s family believes he is a cursed child and he certainly has a knack for attracting calamities in his travels around the scarred countryside. In the hope of breaking the “curse” and earning some money, Ahlo decides to enter a rocket competition.
I was sold as soon as I saw the location, but The Rocket deserves watching especially for the way it melds Ahlo’s personal story with the bigger context of the legacy of war and the relocation of traditional people as a result of modernisation. It is no coincidence that it was Australia’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2014 Oscars, and that it has won several awards, including at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival.
Siddharth (Hindi with English subtitles)
12-year-old Siddharth has been sent to work in another village to help his family make (their meagre) ends meet. From there he vanishes. His father Mahendra, a humble New Delhi chain-wallah (someone who fixes zippers), undertakes a desperate search from town to town for the boy in the belief that he may have been kidnapped. The film is heartbreaking not just because of the tragedy of the child’s disappearance, but because of the insight it provides of the insurmountable walls that face the poor and uneducated in India. Mahendra doesn’t know his son’s exact age or how to spell his name, and does not even have a photo of Siddharth to show police. Be warned – it’s a tale that leaves its mark.
Like Father, Like Son (Japanese with English subtitles)
By far the best-known of my choices, Like Father Like Son was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival and won its Jury Prize. This family drama depicts two Japanese couples who discover that their 6-year-old sons were switched at birth. The delicate unfolding of the consequences will make you ponder what really makes a parent a parent, while offering a fascinating glimpse into Japanese culture.