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dir. Semih Kaplanogu, Turkey 2010, Cert PG, 107 mins
Starring: Bora Altas, Erdal Besikcioglu, Erdan Besikcioglu, Tulin Ozen

A beautiful and contemplative exploration of childhood and familial love.

In the densely forested region of north-eastern Turkey, along the Black Sea coast, Yakup makes a hand-to-mouth and hazardous living harvesting wild honey, climbing trees to get at the hives. His six-year-old son Yusuf, a serious, introspective boy through whose large, expressive eyes the world is presented, has a serious stammer that sets him apart from most of those around him. Yusuf loves and respects his taciturn father who warns him of the dangers of speaking to people about his dreams. Yakup’s disappearance one day exposes his already vulnerable family to yet more stoically borne agony.

Winner of the Golden Bear, Berlin Film Festival 2010

“…a quiet miracle” Anthony Quinn, The Independent

“…poetic film-making”  Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

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dir. Kenneth Lonergan, US 2011, Cert 15, 149 mins
Starring: Anna Paquin, Mark Ruffalo, J Smith Cameron, Jean Reno, Matt Damon

A post-9/11 sprawling New York drama of guilt and self discovery

Anna Paquin gives a raw, brilliant performance as Lisa, the daughter of divorced parents: a mouthy, smart-but-not-that-smart high school student, sexy but emotionally naive, self-absorbed and scarily hyper-articulate in the language of entitlement and grievance. Lisa takes it into her head to buy a cowboy hat, sees a bus driver wearing one she likes and, with a teenager's heedless disregard for the consequences, she flirtatiously runs alongside his bus, waving wildly, asking where he got it. He smiles back at her, taking his eyes off the road – with terrible results. In the messy aftermath of confused responses, her attempts to set things right meet with opposition at every step. Torn apart with frustration, she begins emotionally brutalising her family, friends, teachers and, most of all, herself. The long-awaited follow-up to Lonergan’s 2000 award-winning You Can Count on Me.

“Provocative and brilliant” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Le Havre
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Le Havre
dir. Aki Kaurismäki, France 2011, Cert PG, 93 mins
Starring: Jean-Pierre Darroussin, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Kati Outinen

An offbeat, warm-hearted tale of an illegal immigrant finding refuge

The brilliant Finnish director turns his affectionate, whimsical eye from his usual haunt of Helsinki to the impoverished but generous folk of a run-down, waterfront community in the port of Le Havre. Marcel Marx, a shoeshine with a literary past and an ailing wife, leads this group of outsiders in working together to protect a Congolese teenager in flight from the authorities and attempting to reach London. A simple, hopeful and nostalgic portrait of an essentially good community, and an open tribute to French cinema of the past. The familiar elements of Kaurismäki’s films (The Man Without a Past, Drifting Clouds) are all here: downbeat locations, deadpan dialogue, an endearing cast of unsmiling characters, and colours that seem to belong to his palette alone.

“It has immense, minor-key charm.” David Gritten, Telegraph

“A satisfying and distinctly lovable film.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Wild Bill
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Wild Bill
dir. Dexter Fletcher, UK 2011, Cert 15, 96 mins
Starring: Charlie Creed-Miles, Will Poulter, Liz White

A gritty comedy-drama set in the mean streets of east London

Bill, a once violent drug-dealing criminal and cokehead and out on licence after an 8-year jail sentence, returns to the chaotic family nest in Newham. There he discovers his wife has left his 15-year-old son to bring up his 11-year-old brother alone. Half-compelled by social services, half-blackmailed by 15-year-old son Dean, who knows the location of his dad’s cocaine stash, Bill reluctantly pledges to go straight, and the trio rebuild their family against the apt backdrop of London 2012 renewal. Bill has to pretend to be a decent bloke and single dad, for the authorities’ benefit, and begins to discover it might not be a pretence after all. But his former gang-mates have other ideas, and want Bill off the scene and 11-year-old Jimmy as a courier in their drug-dealing operation.

“A promising first film, handling big emotions with restraint and integrity.” TimeOut

“Fletcher has assembled a strong cast…but it’s in the vinegary wit of the script that the film most impresses.” Anthony Quinn, The Independent

Las Acacias
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Las Acacias
dir. Pablo Giorgelli, Argentina 2011, Cert 12A, 85 mins
Starring: Germán de Silva, Hebe Duarte, Nayra Calle Mamani

Gently paced Latin American road movie and love story

Ruben, a cantankerous middle-aged truck driver, has the regular task of hauling lumber from Paraguay to Buenos Aires. One day he finds he has a passenger, a young woman called Jacinta he is taking as a favour to a friend, who turns up to Ruben’s dismay with her five-month-old baby also in tow. There’s barely a word uttered between them for the first half hour of the journey, but as they amble on down the road and the baby gurgles and ogles adoringly, the nervy pair begin to let down their guards. The relationship that develops between them over the course of the journey is a touching story that unfolds eloquently and movingly.

Winner of the Camera d’Or at Cannes Film Festival, 2011

“A little masterpiece of understated resonance and humility.” The Independent

“Exhilarating and moving” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

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dir. Lee Chang-dong, Korea 2010, Cert 12A, 139 mins
Starring: Yoon Jung-Hee, David Lee, Kim Hira, Nae-sang Ahn, Hira Kim

An intelligent meditation on the nature of life, death and memories

Mija is a widow in her sixties, living in a cramped apartment outside Seoul and supplementing her meagre government benefits by working as a maid and help to a combative retiree recovering from a stroke. Following her daughter’s divorce, she also looks after her surly grandson, who fritters away his time playing computer games and hanging out at arcades. The fallout from a heinous family crime involving her grandson, and her own diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, prompt her to enrol in a poetry writing course, where she finds strength and purpose to make sense of her inner world, just as her outer world is collapsing.

Winner of Best Screenplay, Cannes Film Festival 2010

“Gorgeously photographed and exquisitely acted…endowed with – yes, that most over-used, but here wholly accurate word – poetry.” Sukhdev Sandhu, Telegraph

“This flawlessly constructed, bitingly intelligent film really does find poetry in the everyday.” Jonathan Romney, The Independent 

The Portugese Nun
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The Portuguese Nun
dir. Eugène Green, France/Portugal 2009, Cert TBC, 127 mins
Starring: Adrien Michaux, Ana Moreira, Beatriz Batarda, Diogo Doria

A sensuous ode to love, life and Lisbon

A young French actress is in the Portuguese capital to shoot a movie based on the 17th-century tale of a nun seduced by a soldier. There she encounters a range of characters, from aristocrats to young students, and becomes intrigued by a nun she sees kneeling in the chapel where she is filming. Trying to find a way into her role, she learns lessons about happiness and selflessness. It is made in this French art-house director’s characteristic style, with long, slow takes and stylised, decelerated and uninflected speech. Green’s world is a place where art and life converge, and is an enchanting place in which to get lost.

 “Elegant, eccentric and absolutely captivating, this is simply a gem.”  Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“The film is an exercise in economy and yet swells with romance and mystery.” TimeOut

This is not a Film
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This is Not A Film
dir. Jafar Panahi, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, Iran 2011, Cert U, 75 mins
Starring: Jafar Panahi

A cine-poem video diary from an Iranian film-maker under house arrest 

Jafar Panahi is one of Iran’s master film-makers (The White Balloon, The Circle, Crimson Gold). A pro-democracy activist, he was sentenced in 2010 to six years in prison for alleged crimes against state security, and banned from making films for 20 years. While pursuing his appeal, and effectively under house arrest, Panahi managed to make this gripping, zero-budget film about a day in his life, shot entirely within his flat, partly on a simple DV camera and on his iPhone. He then had it smuggled out of the country on a USB stick, reportedly hidden in a cake. The result is a compelling personal document and a ruefully witty essay on what does and does not constitute cinema.

“A superb piece of cinema, and something that's not cinema – passionate resistance, a humorous cri de coeur, a message in a bottle sent to the world...a work of staggering importance.” Jonathan Romney, The Independent

“A brave act of resistance from a man who refuses to be silenced.” TimeOut


Le Quattro Volte
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Le Quattro Volte
dir. Michelangelo Frammartino, Italy 2010, Cert U, 88 mins
Starring: Bruno Timpano, Giuseppe Fuda, Nazareno Timpano

An old shepherd lives his last days in a quiet medieval village perched high on the hills of Calabria

Inspired by a theory of Pythagoras based on the idea that the soul is reincarnated four times, as man, animal, vegetable and mineral, this almost wordless quasi documentary is set in the awesomely beautiful but impoverished southern area of Calabria. An old shepherd tends to his goats, who roam mesmerically all over the landscape and all over the screen. The film has no distinctly audible dialogue so doesn't need subtitles, and the camera doesn't move during the first half-hour. There is no music, just the sound of bells, of the wind in the trees, of the bleating of goats. A slow-moving, superbly filmed cinematic poem and spiritual exploration of time and space, designed to make us think and feel about the world around us and our place in it.

“An extraordinary achievement” Philip French, Observer

“A true original…here’s a wonderful film about life, the universe and everything. It’s captivating, touching, wryly humorous, mysterious, intriguing and uplifting.” TimeOut

Le Quattro Volte
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Kid with a Bike
dir. Dardenne bros, 2011 Belgium, Cert 12A, 87 mins
Starring: Cécile De France, Fabrizio Rongione, Jérémie Renier, Thomas Doret

A heartfelt, boldly direct film on the themes of parenthood, trust and love

Cyril is an 11-year-old problem kid in a care home with anger-management issues that can be traced to his being abandoned by his father, who also sold his beloved bike. Obsessed with the idea that his errant dad is keeping his bike for him, and still wants to be with him, Cyril disregards all the evidence that his father doesn't love him and determines to find him. A chance encounter with a hairdresser, Samantha, leads to her fostering him at weekends, and helping to track down his father and his bicycle. This is a film that is unafraid of emotion, unafraid of plunging into basic human ideas: the need for trust, and the search for love.

“Scene by scene the film is absorbing” The Independent

“A big-hearted film far more complex than its brisk simplicity may at first suggest” TimeOut

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