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18 Foreign Films We're Looking Forward To In 2011

by Christopher Bell
January 10, 2011 5:49 AM
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7. "In A Better World" - Denmark - dir. Susanne Bier
Synopsis: The lives of two Danish families cross each other, and an extraordinary but risky friendship comes into bud. However, loneliness, frailty and sorrow lie in wait.
What You Need To Know: Susanne Bier doesn't really get that much mainstream or even international name recognition, but "After the Wedding" (starring Mads Mikkelsen) was nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2007, her 2004 drama, "Brødre" was remade into "Brothers" last year by Jim Sheridan (it could not top the original despite strong performances) and 2007's "Things We Lost in the Fire" starring Benicio Del Toro and Halle Berry -- her English-language feature debut -- was right up there with all the criminally overlooked films that came out that year (it was also Berry's best performance since "Monster's Ball" in what has become an incredibly dodgy career). For 'Better World' she's gone back to her Danish roots in a picture about revenge and forgiveness that stars Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt (he also scored a role in "The Hobbit" this year) and Trine Dyrholm, perhaps best remembered for starring in Thomas Vinterberg's 1998 Dogme 95 film, "The Celebration." A family drama that sounds like it has deep consequences, Bier's films generally pull no emotional punches, so we're hope she continues her winning streak here.
Release Date: Premieres in the U.S. at Sundance 2011, hits theaters properly April 2011.

6. "Loverboy" - Romania - dir. Catalin Mitulescu
Synopsis: Luca seduces women and sends them to a human trafficking network - the process called "falling in love" and the position called "loverboy." A girl named Veli changes that when Luca actually falls in love with her.
What You Need To Know: After some producing gigs, the nearly-Oscar-nominated director returns with his first directorial gig since 2006's "The Way I Spent the End of the World." Beautiful and earnest, the new project sounds like it will showcase a darker side of Mitulescu, which worked wonders for BFF Cristian Mungiu who followed the goofy comedy "Occident" with the unforgettable Palme d'Or winning "4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days." Will Mitulescu be as successful? Hopefully: though the tired premise in which a guy changes his ways for a girl is questionable, it might prove a necessary expose of the human trafficking underworld of Romania, just as "Blind Mountain" was for China.
Release Date/Status: Set for release "at the end of May 2011" according to Ioncinema.

5. "Love" - France - dir. Michael Haneke
Synopsis: Long term love will be put to the test when elderly woman Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) suffers a paralyzing stroke, which affects both her husband George (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and daughter (Isabelle Huppert).
What You Need To Know: The formerly canceled "These Two" returns with a more straightforward title, set for a 40-day shoot in February. It's an exciting prospect for the veteran director to not only amass this kind of talent (a who's-who of French auteur cinema), but also to tackle a new topic thoroughly different from his mainstays of violence, media, and video/film.
Release Date/Status: A February start date makes a Cannes premiere very rough, but for the guy who did a shot-for-shot remake of one of his most controversial films, anything's possible.

4. "L'Empire" - France - dir. Bruno Dumont
Synopsis: A village loner who kills a girl's violent father and aids a kid with seizures is revealed to be more than he seems after a miracle.
What You Need To Know: Time to be candid: we're not the biggest fans of Dumont. His philosophies and ideas are certainly appealing, but they seem to work better on paper than on screen; for our money he's just a lesser Michael Haneke. That said, "Hadewijch" is leaps and bounds in the right direction and sits as his best work since "The Life of Jesus." Hopefully his ascent will continue; the premise certainly sounds meaty, especially if he can avoid the cold emptiness that his lesser films were plagued with.
Release Date/Status: Filming happened in August and it should appear in the 2011 festival circuit.

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  • 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

  • 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:,,,,,,,,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


    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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