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The Great Beauty - Film
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The Great Beauty
Director: Paolo Sorrentino, Italy 2013, 142 mins, cert 15

Jep Gambardella, an elegant 65-year-old playboy journalist living off the reputation and success of a novel written in his twenties, spends his easy life among Rome’s high society in a swirl of decadent parties and soirées. News of a death stirs a sense of mortality, loss and wasted opportunity that lurks at the core of his hedonistic world, and induces a shift in perspective. A mesmerising, soaring evocation of the Eternal City and its contemporary inhabitants.

Winner: Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film 2014
Winner: BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Film 2014
Winner: Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film 2014

“A shimmering coup de cinema to make your heart burst” Robbie Collin, Telegraph

The Stories We Tell - Film
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Stories We Tell
Director: Sarah Polley, Canada 2012, 108 mins, cert 12A

Actor-turned-director Polley explores her past, with the help of her own family and super-8 footage, some of which is reconstructed film using actors. But what starts as an apparently conventional documentary develops into something quite different, with her fearless excavation of the past exposing layers of ambiguity and unexpected narrative twists. A fascinating, funny, moving exploration of the nature of memory and truth, and a reminder of the subjectivity and elusiveness of both.

Winner: Best Canadian film, Toronto Critics Association Awards 2013
Winner: New York Critics Circle Award for Best Non-Fiction Film 2013

“Compellingly vivid and heartfelt…a gripping and absorbing meditation on the unknowability of other lives” Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

The Selfish Giant - Film
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The Selfish Giant
Director: Clio Barnard, UK 2013, 91 mins, cert 15

Arbor and Swifty are teenage boys excluded from school and fending for themselves in the bleak surroundings of a Bradford estate, where unemployment is rife and positive adult interaction in short supply. They are taken under the wing of Kitten, an ironically named scrap metal dealer, whose unequal interest in the boys puts pressure on their friendship. An absorbing, unflinching depiction of life on the fringes of a fractured society, but which has a lyrical beauty at its pulsating heart.

Winner: British Independent Film Award for Best Technical Achievement

“Hauntingly perfect…skin-pricklingly alive” Robbie Collin, Telegraph

Blancanieves - Film
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Director: Pablo Berger, Spain 2012, 104 mins, cert 12A

In this love letter to European silent cinema, Snow White is re-imagined in 1920s Seville. Carmencita is the daughter of a famous bullfighter and a flamenco dancer who dies in childbirth and leaves her at the mercy of her invalid father’s nurse and soon-to-be stepmother, the power-crazed Encarna. Captivating, uplifting and gloriously entertaining, the film’s visual brilliance and evocative, flamenco-laced soundtrack recapture the heightened sense of reality and drama that were the hallmark of silent movies.

Winner: 10 Goya (Spanish Film Academy) Awards 2012

“witty, ingenious, moving… a delightful diversion” Philip French, Observer

La Jaula de Oro - Film
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La Jaula de Oro (The Golden Cage)
Director: Diego Quemada-Diez, Guatemala/Mexico 2013, 109 mins

Three Guatemalan teenagers leave their impoverished backgrounds in search of a better life in the USA as illegal immigrants – a long, fraught journey towards their imagined El Dorado that turns out to be far tougher and more treacherous than they could have imagined. A realistic, gripping film about survival, with an empathetic and moving portrayal of the young, desperate travellers, whose predicament and story we know only too well is a grim, living reality for so many.

Winner: Un Certain Regard Best Talent Prize, Cannes 2013
Winner: 9 Ariel (Mexican Academy of Film) Awards 2013

“A very substantial movie, with great compassion and urgency” Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

We Are the Best - Film
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We Are the Best
Director: Lukas Moodysson, Sweden 2013, 102 mins, cert 15

It’s 1982 and Stockholm schoolgirl Bobo and best friend Klara want to start a punk band. Realising their lack of musical talent might be a drawback, they decide to try and recruit the saintly Hedvig who, unlike the rebellious duo, is a law-abiding and friendless Christian with pitch perfect singing and enviable guitar skills. A joyously funny and frank coming-of-age film about self-liberation, rebellion and friendship, with brilliantly naturalistic performances from the young leads.

“Gloriously funny…like a cliff-top breeze or infectious laughter, the film’s joy blows right through you” Robbie Collin, Telegraph

Child's Pose - Film
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Child's Pose
Director: Calin Peter Netzer, Romania 2013, 112 mins, cert 15

Cornelia, a wealthy architect and socialite in contemporary Bucharest, has a stormy relationship with her sullen, spoilt son Barbu, a drifter who deeply resents but can’t escape the smothering control of his mother. When Barbu is responsible for a fatal road accident, Cornelia throws herself into clearing his name and saving him from prosecution, a ruthless process that involves bribery, corruption, lies and self delusion. An intelligent, complex and gripping drama from an award-winning director of Romania’s New Wave.

Winner: Golden Bear, Berlin Film Festival 2013

“A film as intricate and distressing as a family row” Peter Beech, Observer

Museum Hours - Film
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Museum Hours
Director: Jem Cohen, Austria/USA 2012, 107 mins, Cert 12A

Johann, a security guard in Vienna’s Kuntshistorisches Museum, strikes up a friendship with Anne, a lonely Canadian, taking her under his wing and seeing everything anew as he guides her through the city and museum. His detailed observation of both the visitors and the paintings, notably the Brueghels, offers a gentle, insightful meditation on the nature of life and art, and on the art of looking and appreciating. A quietly sublime film that is both exquisitely beautiful and utterly original.

“Quiet, strange and compelling…one of those films that may change the way you view the world” Mike McCahill, Guardian



Concrete Night - Film
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Concrete Night
Director: Pirjo Honkasalo, Finland 2013, 96 minutes

Simo, an impressionable 14-year old boy from a chaotic home on a housing estate, spends a stifling Helsinki night following his big brother – who is on his last 24 hours of freedom before starting a prison sentence – around the city, witnessing fateful and shocking incidents. Stunning in crisp black and white, and laced with surreal imagery and an otherworldly score, this provocative and devastating tale of lost innocence is chilling to its core.

Winner: 6 Jussi (Finnish Film Industry) Awards 2014

“Black-and-white bleak has never looked so beautiful” Kristin Tillotson, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Suzanne - Film
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Director: Katell Quillévéré, France 2013, 92 mins, cert 12A

Suzanne and her sister Maria first appear as children living with their widowed truck-driver father in the Languedoc, but the fragile Suzanne’s reckless journey through life is shown in mini time leaps, each poignant sequence of scenes a piece of jigsaw. After falling for a charming small-time gangster, she has to choose between him and the close-knit, loving family who bear the brunt of her eventual decision. The extraordinary performances lend immense power to this ambitious, heartfelt drama.

Winner: Best Supporting Actress (Adèle Haenel) César Awards 2014

“A stunningly confident piece of filmmaking…the performances slay you” Tim Robey, Telegraph

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