18 Foreign Films We're Looking Forward To In 2011

by Christopher Bell
January 10, 2011 5:49 AM
21 Comments
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13. "The Assassin" - Taiwan - dir. Hou Hsiao-Hsien
Synopsis: Set in 8th century China, a female assassin looks to leave her profession behind, incurring the wrath of her mentor.
What You Need To Know: We had this on last year's list, but things have been quite slow for the Taiwanese director's foray into the fantasy realm. Shu Qui and Chang Chen reteam with this adaptation of Pei Xing's 9th Century fantasy short story, "Nie Yin Niang." Hsaio-Hsien's trademark wandering eye camera and long, single shot takes should hopefully turn the genre on its head, as should his promised intention to follow the work of Hayao Miyazaki as opposed to typical martial arts conventions. It's only been four years since his Binoche-lead remake "Flight of the Red Balloon," but it has certainly felt much longer.
Release Date/Status: Taiwan's Apple Daily has revealed that it has finally begun a "low-key" shoot in Nara, Japan.

12. "The Turin Horse" - Hungary - dir. Béla Tarr
Synopsis: The poor health of the old work horse of a rural farmer and his daughter compromises their jobs and livelihoods.
What You Need To Know: Cinephiles got a sinking feeling when Bela Tarr announced - at the premiere of his uneven "The Man From London," no less - that his next film would be his last. Things only got worse when production was halted in 2008 due to an uncharacteristically cold winter, and downright depressing when it didn't appear in the 2010 iteration of the Cannes festival. Now confirmed for a premiere in 2011, cinemagoers should expect the usual from Tarr (insanely well-composed long takes, oddly compelling minimalism) in this Nietzsche-inspired "Au Hasard Balthazar"-sounding picture.
Release Date/Status: Would Cannes miss an opportunity to showcase the final film from one of the world's greatest auteurs? Highly doubtful.

11. "Faust" - Russia - dir. Alexander Sokurov
Synopsis: A version of the classic German legend in which a man sells his soul to the devil.
What You Need To Know: Sokurov adds to the list of brilliant filmmakers who have take on the story of "Faust," setting himself up next to F.W. Murnau and Jan Svankmajer. The director also labels the movie as a closing point to what is now his "tetralogy," which includes "The Sun," "Moloch," and "Taurus." The prior three have been moody tales that were firmly grounded in realism - it will be interesting to see that approach with the more magical story by Goethe.
Release Date/Status: Supposed to have hit Russian theaters in 2010, this one might be eyeing a festival rollout first.

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21 Comments

  • joe | July 3, 2012 10:03 PMReply

    wow, two per page? No thanks, this isn't worth 9 clicks. Enough with the ad factory.

  • To BL | January 13, 2012 5:30 PMReply

    I wish i knew, that's a good question

  • siva | December 21, 2011 2:31 PMReply

    and finally this blog gives the top foreign movies in 2011
    mindsbeyond.blogspot.com

  • John M | November 15, 2011 2:16 AMReply

    I gotta be honest, this website is super-hard to read with the dark script.

  • Christopher Bell | October 8, 2011 10:27 AMReply

    Yeah, Hou Hsiao-hsien is such a white-boy.

  • Espana | September 29, 2011 2:20 AMReply

    What an amazing movie...AND a great ending to one of the best franchises ever made!

  • BL | September 11, 2011 8:40 AMReply

    All white, what about South American and African films?

  • anna | January 30, 2011 9:23 AMReply

    Tarr's “The Turin Horse” and Ulrich Köhler's "Sleeping Sickness" will premiere at the Berlinale in February, both have been chosen for the Competition.
    Also, did you know Köhler's girlfriend is none other than "Everyone Else" director Maren Ade?

  • stephen | January 12, 2011 9:48 AMReply

    here's a picture of the guy:

    http://www.filmportal.de/df/17/Uebersicht,,,,,,,,1E1F4B5DC86041CA93123B5440FFFEE7,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.html

  • Rosalie | January 11, 2011 10:04 AMReply

    I'm french, and I have to say that "Little white lies" has nothing to do with "A christmas tale". Desplechin is a master of french cinema, and I can't say the same for Canet with "Little white lies". "Tell no one" was a good thriller, "Mon Idole" was really personal and quite good, but "Little white lies" is far from being a great movie. "A Christmas Tale" is, for one, a beautiful piece of art.

    Love The Playlist.

  • Christopher Bell | January 11, 2011 9:08 AMReply

    Thanks for that, Stephen. It's quite hard to find a picture of the director, do you know what he looks like? Apparently there are plenty of doctors and physicians sharing the same name.

  • Thomas Schultze | January 11, 2011 7:54 AMReply

    I'm sure you mean "The Big Chill" - not "The Big Sleep". Although I would watch a French remake of that in a heartbeat.

    Interesting choice that you have Kohler's film on your list, because even in Germany there is no buzz whatsoever for that film. Why didn't you go for something like Andres Veiel's new film which will compete in Berlin?

  • Aaron Fowler | January 11, 2011 4:07 AMReply

    Killer piece, Chris! I am with KC on the inclusion of Joachim Trier. Norwegian cinema has been fantastic the last five years or so and continues to grow!

  • stephen | January 11, 2011 3:42 AMReply

    Koehler's film - produced by Berlin's KOMPLIZENFILM (Everyone Else) and co-produced by Paris-based WHY NOT PRODUCTIONS (White Material) - is acutally completed and will surface in a major festival soon.

    The image you use is from Christian Petzold's WOLFSBURG, not from Koehler's film!!

  • Yannick from FilmDeCulte | January 11, 2011 1:19 AMReply

    Les Impardonnables:

    Francis, the narrator of Unforgivable, is a successful writer battered by fate. Fifteen years before the beginning of the novel, he saw his wife and one of his two daughters died before her eyes, crushed by a truck mad. Now he lives in the Basque Country and remarried Judith realtor in the area. His daughter Alice is a young actress to success. Everything would be fine if Alice, Francis cherishes more than anything, do not suddenly disappear.

  • hmm... | January 10, 2011 10:47 AMReply

    awesome work on this. very informative.

  • Nick Duval | January 10, 2011 9:22 AMReply

    Ooh boy. THIS is why I love the Playlist.

  • Sergio | January 10, 2011 7:23 AMReply

    Yes!

    Incredibly informative.

  • Gabe Toro | January 10, 2011 6:46 AMReply

    Awesome awesome AWESOME piece, Chris.

  • Michael | January 10, 2011 6:33 AMReply

    I will be at Cannes this year, so this is very helpful for me. Now I can catch up on some directors whose work I've missed.

    Hou, Jia, Tarr, and Wong are all favorites of mine, and I hope to see all of their newest films at Cannes.

    I'd like it if Dumont and Paronnaud/Satrapi could make it to Cannes. Dumont consistently piques my interest, and the idea of Satrapi adapting a live-action version of one of her books sounds interesting as well.

    I've not heard of Kohler, but the Weerasethakul comparison sold me immediately. Weerasethakul may be my favorite contemporary director, and if not my absolute favorite, he certainly cracks the top five.

    There seems to be a good representation of contemporary Russian cinema next year, to which I look forward. I've long been meaning to delve into Sokurov's rather extensive filmography, and it seems now may be the time.

    Svankmajer has always been one of my favorite directors to introduce to non-film enthusiasts. I don't know that I'd just drop Little Otik on anyone, but that excellent collection of his shorts rarely disappoints friends of mine seeking something fun and new. So I'm glad to be present at the unveiling of his newest. It just fits, somehow.

    It's kind of sad that the Dardennes are just so consistently great that I'm not even registering much of a response to the idea of a new film from the duo. Maybe it's because they seem to be...if not repeating themselves, then performing very comfortably with a form at which they are admittedly excellent.

    In fact, it seems like a fair few of these directors are moving outside their comfort zones, which is possibly the biggest appeal of these selections. Which isn't to say that I wouldn't be anticipating new Hou or Jia films highly anyhow, but it's certainly a great deal of fun to be there with the rest of the world as it watches renowned film directors expand their horizons and test their talents.

  • KC | January 10, 2011 6:31 AMReply

    A tip of the hat for the Joachim Trier placing - Reprise was terrific and it's unfortunate it's taken this long for him to get back behind the camera.

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