Peter Brosens & Jessica Hope Woodworth – Khadak (2006)

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Set in the frozen steppes of Mongolia, Khadak tells the epic story of Bagi, a young nomad confronted with his destiny to become a shaman. A plague strikes the animals and the nomads are forcibly relocated to desolate mining towns. Bagi saves the life of a beautiful coal thief, Zolzaya, and together they reveal the plague was a lie fabricated to eradicate nomadism. A sublime revolution ensues. Continue reading

Chantal Akerman – La Captive [+Extras] (2000)

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Quote:
Loosely based on the fifth volume of Proust’s monolithic À La recherche du temps perdu, La Captive is a dark study of obsessive love from Chantal Akerman, currently one of Belgian’s most highly rated film directors. The feel of the film is more a psychological thriller than a traditional romantic drama, with frequent references to Hitchcock’s Vertigo more than evident.
The most striking feature of the film is its austere cinematography. Most of the film is set at night or within darkened rooms (which no matter how large appear stiflingly claustrophobic), something which constantly emphasises the prisoner-gaoler relationship of the two young lovers. Add to that the restrained (yet effective) performances of the two lead actors and the result is a hauntingly existentialist work, a chilling black poem of a fairytale romance twisted and ultimately obliterated by perverse mental aberrations. Continue reading

Claude Berri – Germinal (1993)

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Quote:
Germinal

Release Date: 1993

Ebert Rating: ***

By Roger Ebert Mar 18, 1994

I I n 1884 the French author Emile Zola traveled to a poor rural district of France to observe the living and working conditions of striking coal miners. The novel he wrote about that experience, Germinal, was instrumental in winning justice for the workers, who existed in a condition little better than slavery.

Claude Berri’s ambitious new epic “Germinal” recreates Zola’s story. Zola, who began as a writer at a time when most novels were inspired by imagination and romance, helped pioneer a style of detailed realism, piling fact upon fact so that his books seemed drawn from real life. Berri’s film has been made in the same spirit, and the elaborate sets showing the villages and mines are so convincing the movie almost seems shot on 19th century locations. Continue reading

Peter Brosens & Jessica Woodworth – La cinquième saison AKA The Fifth Season (2012)

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Winter, spring, summer, autumn…and then? La cinquiememe saison (The Fifth Season) is an apocalyptic tale which does not need to make use of extraterrestrial aliens or natural catastrophes to impress the viewer. Humans and nature have a very fragile connection – what if nature suddenly decided to cut this connection?

Set in a little rural village in the Ardennes, the inhabitants are preparing for the local feast to celebrate the end of the winter. But something goes wrong: the fire that was supposed to light up the bonfire refuses to burn, a bad omen for the whole community. We do not see the end coming at first but season after season we gradually witness a slow but implacable process of decay: the crops do not grow, the animals become sterile, people fall ill and the trees collapse. The two young protagonists Alice and Thomas, the outsider Pol and his paraplegic son, and all the others can do nothing other than be spectators to this silent disaster. Continue reading

Charles Tutelier – La Belgique martyre AKA The martyrdom of Belgium (1919)

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Plot
A young Flemish peasant experiences the brutal side of war after his father has left to fight at the battle front of the Yser, his mother has been executed by German soldiers and his grandfather has been sent to an internment camp. He decides to take up arms and joins the Belgian army to avenge his mother’s death… (EFG) Continue reading

Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne – La promesse AKA The Promise (1996)

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SYNOPSIS
‘La Promesse’ is the story of 15 year old Igor, who helps his small time crook father run a scam illegally employing immigrants on building sites. But when one of the workers is fatally injured, Igor promises to look after the man’s wife and child – a promise that changes Igor’s life forever. (ArtificialEye)

“The Promise” is the extraordinary story of a boy’s ascendance to grace. Under the conscienceless guidance of his father (Olivier Gourmet as Roger), fifteen-year old Igor appears destined to a life of petty crime. All changes, however, when Igor delivers an uncompromising promise to Hamidou – an immigrant who while working illegally for Roger accidentally falls to his death. As Roger scrambles to cover-up the accident, Igor suddenly finds himself torn between his loyalty to Roger and the agreement he made with Hamidou. Suspicious of Roger’s motivation and intimately drawn to the heart of his promise, Igor must choose between his love for his father and the demands of his awakening conscience. (New Yorker Video) Continue reading