Director: Samuel Collardey
As both the director and the DP, Samuel Collardey takes us into a Danish teacher’s first year in Tiniteqiilaq, a tiny fishing village in Greenland. Danish Anders Hvidegaard struggles to fit in until he begins to bond with a young Tunumiit boy, Asser, and slowly immerses himself into the indigenous culture and its daily rhythms. With breathtaking cinematography and mostly vérité scenes, A Polar Year is a standout documentary that playfully, and smartly, blurs the lines between fiction and non-fiction filmmaking.
With a Particularly memorable opening scene, the Berlin Jury Grand Prix winner, Mug, tosses the audience into a world where people must strip to their underwear for a bargain TV and the world’s largest statue of Jesus is being built (see: Christ the King in western Poland). Darkly comedic, the film follows Jacek, a metalhead and outsider to his own family, who suffers an accident early on and undergoes the country’s first face transplant. Even as his outlook remains bright, his family, his community, and his priest begin to reveal how they really feel about his new identity.
Director: Barbet Schroeder
A NYTimes Critics Pick, the third in his trilogy of Evil, Barbet Schroeder has made yet another compelling documentary that demands to be seen. The Venerable W. is a powerful portrait about the Burmese Buddhist monk, Ashin Wirathu, and his anti-Muslim fanaticism, leading his followers to harass, beat and even kill Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. As the documentary moves through Myanmar’s history, we see Rohingya persecution isn’t the audience that evil isn’t new, the face just keeps changing.
The debut feature from Franco-Algerian director and playwright Rayhana is an absolutely stunning film. Fatima (Hiam Abbass of HBO’s Succession) is the owner and head masseuse of an Algerian hammam (bathhouse). She works to keep everything running (the power goes out) to the painful circumstances of a young woman’s pregnancy, these women, an outstanding ensemble cast, bury and reveal themselves to one another, bound together by their histories, as they navigate one afternoon in the hammam.