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Elena-Movie Review 04/20/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, Drama, European Film Awards, Ghent International Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival, Movies, Psychological Suspense, Russian language film, Suspense, Thriller.
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ELENA (Russian) 2011

Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev
Starring Nadezhda Markina, Andrey Smirnov, and Elena Lyadova

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Un Certain Regard-Special Jury Prize; NOMINATED, Un Certain Regard Award (both Zvyagintsev), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Markina), European Film Awards
WINNER, Grand Prix-Best Film, Ghent International Film Festival
WINNER, Russian Film Clubs Federation Award (Zvyagintsev), Moscow International Film Festival

Elena (Markina), a middle-aged woman, marries for a second time, and her husband Vladimir (Smirnov) turns out to be a domineering man who is wealthy but tight-fisted. Even after Vladimir has a heart attack and comes close to death, he refuses to help Elena’s son financially.

The director makes good use of striking images and outstandingly suspenseful music (Philip Glass). The film is labelled a thriller on the DVD case, but I’d consider it more of a psychological suspense.

109 min. Not rated. Adult themes.

When We Leave-Movie Review*** 12/05/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Drama, Emotional Drama, European Film Awards, German Film Critics Association Awards, German language film, Ghent International Film Festival, Movies, Tribeca Film Festival, Turkish language film.
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When We Leave (German/Turkish) 2010 ***
Die Fremde

Written and directed by Feo Aladag
Starring Sibel Kekilli and Nizam Schiller

Among many wins and nominations:
NOMINATED, European Discovery of the Year (Aladag); Best Actress (Kekilli), European Film Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Kekilli); Best Cinematography; Best Editing; Best Feature Film Debut (Aladag); Best Film; Best Film Score; Best Screenplay, German Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Audience Award-Best Film; Grand Prix-Best Film, Ghent International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Narrative Feature (Aladag); Best Actress (Kekilli), Tribeca Film Festival

Umay (Kekilli), a young Turkish woman, is in a loveless and physically abusive marriage. She leaves home with her young son Cem (Schiller) to return to Germany where she was raised. But Umay finds that she is not welcomed back into her family because of traditional beliefs about a woman’s role.

Highly recommended, but with the caveat that this is not a movie with a happy ending (understatement). Winner of many awards, When We Leave is the first feature film for director Feo Aladag, who is also a German actress.

119 min. Unrated. Adult themes and violence.

Altiplano-Movie Review *** 06/10/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Bangkok International Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Ghent International Film Festival, Jessica Woodworth, Lucania Film Festival, Olivier Gourmet, Peter Brosens, Torun International Film Festival, Virton Festival of European Cinema.
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Altiplano (Peruvian/Spanish/Belgian/French) 2009
Inspired by true events

WINNER, Golden Kinnaree for Environmental Awareness, Bangkok International Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION, Critic’s Week, Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Best Cinematography, Lucania Film Festival
WINNER, Special Jury Award, Torun International Film Festival
WINNER, Grand Prix, 30th Virton Festival of European Cinema
NOMINATED, Grand Prix, Best Film (Brosens and Woodworth), Ghent International Film Festival

Directed by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth
Starring Magaly Solier, Jasmin Tabatabai, and Olivier Gourmet

A thought-provoking, mystical, and powerful film about the impact of indiscriminate plundering of environmental resources. The lives of retired war photographer Grace (Tabatabai) and soon-to-be-married villager Saturnina (Solier) cross in the Altiplano section of Peru, as both try to cope with the loss of a loved one. Saturnina chooses to protest the illnesses and deaths that are occurring in her village of Turubamba in a traditional manner.

Altiplano (in English, High Plateau) refers to a region of the Andes Mountains in southeastern Peru and western Bolivia. The film has garnered some lesser-known awards for independent films. Magaly Solier starred in another film I’d recommend, Milk of Sorrow (review not posted yet); Gourmet plays the father in 2008 quirky film, Home.

Highly recommended.

109 min. Not rated. Adult themes.