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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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3. "Paradise"/"In the Cellar" - Austria - dir. Ulrich Seidl
Synopsis: Three stories following women; one as a sex tourist, one converting people to Catholicism, and one at a diet camp. Outlines the relationship between Austrians and their cellars, digging into what is peculiar about their bond together.
What You Need To Know: Those unfamiliar with Ulrich Seidl's 2007 gem "Import/Export" are missing out as it's a haunting take on loneliness and the harshness of the working world, shot with an unflinching eye and knack for showcasing both the ugly and the beautiful. Definitely not a feelgood film (but also the furthest thing from a tearjerker), its demanding visuals and parallel stories are undeniably affecting. Simply put, the prospect of two new features from Seidl in 2011 is an early Christmas gift, and the plots don't sound like they'll disappoint. "Paradise" will expand on the parallel storytelling found in "Import/Export," and "In The Cellar" harkens back to Seidl's days as a documentarian. The latter is definitely the weaker of the two, but the director has a penchant for discovering very odd, poignant moments out of the ordinary, so it remains a hopeful project.
Relase Date/Status: Both started shooting in February of 2010, "In the Cellar" took a brief hiatus for research, it should be completed now.

2. "Oslo, 31 August" - Norway - dir. Joachim Trier
Synopsis: After leaving drug rehab, a man reinstates himself in Oslo and encounters friends, family, and loves -- all while he attempts to find a reason to continue living.
What You Need To Know: Joachim Trier was behind the vastly underrated and underseen "Reprise," a Bergman-on-a-sugar-high tale pulsating with energy and emotion. Though the newest logline sounds a lot like his first -- disappointingly so -- we're sure it won't be so identical onscreen and are eager to see his style develop. Also of note is that the script is based on "The Fire Within," a novel by Pierre Drieu La Rochelle which has already been made into a film by the venerable Louis Malle. Hopefully this relation will attract newer audiences to this deserving talent.
Release Date/Status: Now in post-production.

1. "Set Me Free" - Belgium - dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Synopsis: A young boy is abandoned by his father and entrusted to an unwitting woman, played by "Hereafter's" Cecile de France.
What You Need To Know: While information on this project is scarce, shooting was set to take place over summer and in July it was not only given a name, but also added Dardenne regular Jeremie Renier (also in "Summer Hours"). Eyeing a Cannes debut, the brothers are generally very consistent in the quality of their output, and we're interested to see what they can pull out of de France, who was rather dismissible in Eastwood's latest.
Release Date/Status: Shooting has wrapped, Cannes possibility.

Honorable Mentions
Cesar holder Philippe Claudel is following up his heart-wrenching "I've Loved You So Long" with... an Italian comedy. Huh? The picture will be titled "All The Suns" and will feature "8 1/2" hottie Anouk Aimee. Speaking of Italian comedy, Nanni Moretti, (you know, "Italy's Woody Allen") is readying "We Have a Pope," centering on the pope and his psychiatrist. Any reminder of "Analyze This" should be mentally rejected. Hirokazu Koreeda ("Nobody Knows") will return with "Miracle," the story of two siblings in different cities who dream of reuniting via the bullet train. Koreeda was hoping to base the script off of his actors, so we should be treated to real slice-of-life charm and cute little tykes. French director Andre Techine is in post for "Impardonnables," based on the successful book by Philippe Dijan that will star French thespian Andre Dussollier. Despite the book's popularity and the near completion of the project, we can't find a synopsis of the story: any French-speaking cinephiles around? Manoel de Oliveira will stop at nothing to continue his breakneck pace of output, shooting "A Igreja do Diabo" which follows a student staying at a house of an unfaithful man, a piece of knowledge that everyone holds including his wife... trouble alert! As for Wong Kar Wai's's "The Grand Master," and new films by Pedro Almodovar and Lars von Trier, we've already covered them here. You can bet their forthcoming films are in our hopes and dreams.

Not Enough Information
Expect a new film by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, who announced he was returning to the horror genre but left details at home. Both "My Joy" director Sergei Loznitza and "Alamar" helmer Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio were invited to the Cinemart to seek funding for their next projects ("In the Fog" and "Tree Shade," respectively), but information on both of them is nil, only time will tell if they're progressing or not. Finally, though there's absolutely no information that would attest to Hong Sang-soo having a new feature, his quick work ethic produced two films ("Hahaha" and "Oki's Movie") in 2010 so we're going to assume that he will pop up at least one of the bigger festivals with his Rohmer-inspired pieces.

Director of the energetic neo-Western "Tears of the Black Tiger" and the oddball "Citizen Dog," Wisit Sasanatieng took 2010 to shoot a revival of an old Thai serial featuring a costumed hero "Red Eagle." General reservations on super-hero movies were put aside considering his oeuvre, but poor reviews and a lackluster performance in its native country not only put interest to bed, but also eliminated any legitimate way to see it.

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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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