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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10. "In the Qing Dynasty" - China - dir. Jia Zhang-ke
Synopsis: A "kung fu epic" set in the early 20th century.
What You Need To Know: Yet another example of an auteur playing in the big leagues, Jia hasn't changed his mindset to accommodate his first genre jaunt. When asked why he was doing something as different as this project, he explained that he was interested in examining the roots of Chinese modernization; their move from feudal society to their introduction of locomotives and other technologies. It honestly doesn't sound too different from most of his work, but then there's that old kung-fu thing. How his patient sensibilities will mesh with action remains to be determined, but if anything it should be an intriguing experiment.
Release Date/Status: Shooting began October 1st.

9. "Surviving Life (Theory and Practice)" - Czech Republic - dir. Jan Svankmajer
Synopsis: Eugene leads a double life, one in reality and one in dreams. When a psychiatrist interprets the latter, the protagonist unearths some unsettling information about his past.
What You Need To Know: Fans of the director's bat-shit creations won't be disappointed: the teaser trailer dropped and, though not subtitled, showcased the same affinity for disturbing sound design and stop motion animation that we've all come to know and love. Sporting a seemingly lighter tone than 2005's horror, "Lunacy," some reports claim it to be extraordinary and the director at his finest, showcasing much humor and enjoyment. Also, the majority of the film is animation, as explained in a introduction monologue by Jan himself. One thing's for sure, there'll be none like it, not this year and probably not ever.
Release Date/Status: Appeared in Venice 2010, likely to have a small festival rollout in 2011.

8. "The Sleeping Unit" - Germany - dir. Ulrich Kohler
Synopsis: Velten is in Africa studying a sleeping sickness while his wife, Vera, yearns to be back in Germany with their 14-year-old daughter. Velten is struck with fear and subsequent fatigue as the day of his return home approaches rapidly.
What You Need To Know: Few have gotten the chance to see Kohler's excellent "Windows On Monday," the reserved attack on middle-class materialistic life that he completed in 2006, but that remains undistributed. His style owes more than a little to fellow filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and this one - the inability to return to industrial society after languishing in the nature of Africa - is no different, sharing much of the Thai director's disposition and ideas. That said, his sharp criticism of modern life and society is firmly rooted in his home country; he's just one of the German film-makerswho seems to have the impression that people are akin to the living dead, coasting along with little ambition and few values. The story won't be cheery, but his wide angle lens is sure to capture the sheer beauty of the African continent.
Release Date/Status: Shooting is expected to end at some point in 2011. Maybe this one will receive more love.

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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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