In the age of Netflix and Amazon Prime, it’s easy to get lost and forget that some of the best cinema in the world is made and published outside the regular streaming services.
Like every year, 2018 also had quite a few foreign-language gems that achieved critical acclaim at movie festivals around the world. We rounded up the best of them, so you don’t have to. Do make sure to catch them as all of them won’t be coming to a theatre near you.
Directed by Alfonso Cuarón – who also made Gravity and Children of Men – Roma is a 2hr 15min long journey of breathtaking cinematic visuals and gripping storytelling. It’s semi-autobiographical, and partly resembles Cuarón’s life growing up in a middle-class family in 1970s Mexico City.
From the New York Film Critics Circle awards to recognition at film festivals like the Toronto Film Festival, Roma would definitely be a strong contender for the best foreign language film in the upcoming Oscars. For those with a Netflix subscription (hopefully all), Roma is currently available for streaming.
Set during the cold war in Poland and surrounding regions, Cold War is a cinematic masterpiece that has to be watched to be believed. Set in black white and against, the movie is a romantic tale of a music director and a young singer. It’s beautifully shot, and with its black and white palette, could be confused for a 60s Cold-War-era film from Eastern Europe.
It’s directed by Pawe? Pawlikowski, also known for his Academy-award-winning 2015 drama Ida.
The latest in the arsenal of the celebrated Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda - which includes movies like Nobody Knows and I wish - Shoplifters has been one of the most successful foreign films at box offices around the world.
The story is that of a poor family in Tokyo and their struggles with daily life, who decide to adopt a child. It does a great job of making a cinematic spectacle of the mundane, and does so in a markedly Japanese fashion (in case you like Japanese crime dramas as much as we do). The film has won several accolades around the world, including the Palme d'Or – rough translation ‘the most awesome movie’ – at Cannes in 2018.
If you like movies with great spectacle and awesome CGI, this one isn’t for you. Anyone who has delved into the rich world of Korean cinema would be able to spot familiar elements in Burning; one of this year’s surprise Korean hits. It’s made by the gifted Chang-dong Lee, after a hiatus of eight years since Poetry.
It’s a slow-churning mystery, and requires a patient eye for pure filmmaking to be rewarded at the end of it. It’s loosely based on a short story called Burning Barns by Haruki Murakami.
In the era of #MeToo, sexuality and identity has been a big part of cinematic themes around the world. Girl, the successful debut by Belgian filmmaker Lukas Dhont, is a gripping take on one of the conversation’s various sub-topics; trans sexuality.
The story follows a 15-year old girl, on her way to achieving the dream of becoming a ballerina. She was born into a male body, though, and is waiting for her surgery, which comes with its own set of physical and social challenges.
It’s a subtle-yet-powerful take on the topic of gender, and features top notch performances along with some beautiful cinematography.
Birds Of Passage
Many think that Narcos was the first to portray the drug and political violence in Latin America on the big screen, though the genre was perfected a long time ago in local cinema in many of the affected countries. Birds of Passage is a Colombian film that exudes all the vibe of Colombian crime cinema, and makes for a great weekday-evening watch.
The movie portrays the early years of the drug violence in Colombia, and follows a Wayuu clan’s rise through it all. It’s visually spectacular, and full of intense scenes you’d expect from a Colombian crime drama.
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