My 2015 or 24 films by 24fpsverite
The official selection of the 24 films that marked the cinematic year of 2015.
Could 2015 be the best cinematic year of the decade? Probably not, but it could easily be one of the most versatile. A large selection of films that expand in completely different and diverse genres, debut works that could easily be the best films of the year and an official selection that combines hardcore arthouse cinema with unconventional – almost – blockbusters are this year’s surprises. Certainly some of them will stay with us forever while others may be just current favorites. Unfortunately, some of the “must-watch” films are still missing but luckily new discoveries filled this theoretical gap.
On a more personal level, the procedure has become even harder, since 2015 has been my fullest festival year so far. Starting in mid-February with Berlinale helped me to be once again part of the industry. Next stop in March and Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival was an intriguing experience in the fields of non-fiction cinema. An experience that was rather useful in May where I had a unique opportunity to participate at DOKer Moscow International Documentary Film Festival as jury’s member. The (now) regular festival boost came by the end of August with Sarajevo and continued with the coverage of Venice’s Orizzonti section. In September the attendance of Athens International Film Festival was useful for catching up indie films. After a seven-month break, Thessaloniki was once again a great destination in November, and still remains one of the best festivals of the region. Tallinn’s Black Nights was a rather unexpected experience in a rising festival full of discoveries and some of them will definitely be in the 2016 selection. The year ended with a short attendance at Olympia Film Festival for Children and Young People that proved me how vibrant a youth festival could be, especially at the press office.
Going back to the selection, I have watched more than 170 films this year and just 24 could be presented here, so as it is accustomed, the classification is not set in stone. I’ve tried to focus more on strictly 2015 releases so probably some of them haven’t yet reached a theater near you. Five filmmakers are included with their debut or sophomore feature films. Seven films are related with Eastern Europe while there is just one purely French speaking film. Four documentaries are among the 24 selected and ten of the features premiered during the 68th Cannes Film Festival. A dialogue between the past and the present is clearly the dominant subject of 2015 selection and will probably accompany us in the near future too.
24. Ixcanul Volcano by Jayro Bustamante (Guatemala)
A low key coming-of-age drama that stands between the local Mayan traditions and their bleak impoverished lives. – Review
23. Boi Neon (Neon Bull) by Gabriel Mascaro (Brazil)
An observation of the social and cultural changes of Brazilian society as genders lose their identities and when a vaquero dreams to be a tailor. – Review
22. Hrútar (Rams) by Grímur Hákonarson (Iceland)
A wry subtle tragicomedy set in the rural Icelandic landscape that feels exceptionally heart-warming while it touches the verges of melancholic sarcasm. – Review
21. Chevalier by Athina Rachel Tsangari (Greece)
Who’s the Best in General? A deadpan odd satire that dismantles masculinity and makes Greek Weird Wave to go feel-good. – Review
20. Le Dos Rouge by Antoine Barraud (France)
A slightly academic cinematic psychotherapy as art is the tool to discover the inner needs of evilness that lead to pure creativity. – Special
19. Дурак / Durak (The Fool) by Yury Bykov (Russia)
The corrupted part of Russian society explodes over the head of a perfect anti-hero as everything falls apart around him and cruelty can surpass any feeling.
18. Über die Jahre (Over the Years) by Nikolaus Geyrhalter (Austria)
A documentaristic magnum opus that persistently observes the financial and personal downfall of the rural post-industrial Austria during an extended 10-year period. – Review
17. Inside Out by Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen (USA)
What if the feelings had feelings? One of the most impressive attempts to deal with the fragility of child’s psycho-synthesis in the most eloquent and tangible way.
16. Mustang by Deniz Gamze Ergüven (Turkey / France)
A “joyful” feministic fairytale that explores if teen rebelliousness and sexual awareness can survive in conservative Anatolia. – Review
15. Mia Madre by Nanni Moretti (Italy)
A tragicomedy in the heaps of Moretti’s past as drama is being surpassed by comedy and cinema interferes with life so awkwardly that becomes intriguing.
14. Aferim! by Radu Jude (Romania)
A conversation between Balkan past and today’s present through an unconventional western that balances both artistically and visually. – Balkan Special
13. El Botón de Nácar (The Pearl Button) by Patricio Guzmán (Chile)
Another conversation between the past and today’s present as Chilean identity still needs to be clarified and crimes that started during the foundation of the country have never been resolved. Another powerful political statement by an experienced documentarist.
12. Taxi by Jafar Panahi (Iran)
A statement of everything that still remains banned in Iranian society in a claustrophobic and almost experimental film that at the same time breathes of creativity freedom.
11. Событие / Sobytie (The Event) by Sergei Loznitsa (Netherlands / Belgium)
A thorough investigation on the events that took place in Leningrad, after a failed coup d’état that marked Soviet Union’s end. Loznitsa delivers a grainy prequel of his previous doc, Maidan. – Review
10. 山河故人 / Shan He Gu Ren (Mountains May Depart) by Jia Zhangke (China)
A futuristic melodrama that spans in three decades as China’s expanded capitalism faces globalization and a brave new world rises. A saga that focuses on the past, the present and the undiscovered future.
9. El Abrazo de la Serpiente (Embrace of the Serpent) by Ciro Guerra (Colombia)
Herzogian aesthetics and a pure Academy narrative are used to put the blame on how white people “succeeded” to alter Amazonian populations. Another journey through past that must reach the present.
8. 刺客聶隱娘 / Nie Yin Niang (The Assassin) by Hou Hsiao-Hsien (Taiwan / China)
A mesmerizing puzzle that each moment becomes even more complicated than before. Wuxia genre revitalized and still impresses when it is slowed down.
7. Francofonia by Aleksandr Sokurov (France / Germany)
Exploring in-depth the European identity, going through the immense richness of Louvre and investigating the roots of WWII has never been more intriguing.
6. Mad Max: Fury Road by George Miller (Australia)
Miller’s dystopic saga explodes in a never-ending accurately choreographed handmade adventure that empowers the heroes and simultaneously seems so detailed in every inch of the frame.
5. Под электрическими облаками / Pod Elektricheskimi Oblakami (Under Electric Clouds) by Aleksei German Ml. (Russia)
Russian’s existentialism both on national and personal level is seen through a science fiction film that looks more current than ever. Long-shots and philosophical dialogues persist on the exploration of needs, thoughts and dead ideologies.
4. The Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos (Ireland / UK)
What is Love? A satirical touch on the eternal and haunting fear of loneliness. Science fiction elements and black humor blend in a lunatic whirlwind of emotions in a rather cold and distanced experience. Or not?
3. Inherent Vice by Paul Thomas Anderson (USA)
Fucking Groovy Stoned.
2. Pereezd/Köch (The Move) by Marat Sarulu (Kyrgyzstan)
A unique meditation in post-Soviet identity. A physical trip that goes beyond land borders and boundaries. A poetic narrative on the footsteps of the greatest Soviet directors. An immersive experience that offers a new point of view by remaining truthfully traditional.
1. Saul Fia (Son of Saul) by László Nemes (Hungary)
Nemes masterfully recreates a Holocaust Inferno where you can’t escape and the only way to survive is through death. – Review