Here are the loglines for the Sundance’s “World Cinema Dramatic Competition” lineup. Loglines for foreign films tend to be less revelatory because there is such a range of styles represented, so it’s anyone’s guess what these films are actually like. So, why don’t I make some even more irresponsible judgments about International Cinema? Here… goes… absolutely nothing:
Circles / Serbia, Germany, France, Croatia, Slovenia (Director: Srdan Golubovic, Screenwriters: Srdjan Koljevic, Melina Pota Koljevic) — Five people are affected by a tragic heroic act. Twenty years later, all of them will confront the past through their own crises. Will they overcome guilt, frustration and their urge for revenge? Will they do the right thing, at all costs? Cast: Aleksandar Bercek, Leon Lucev, Nebojsa Glogovac, Hristina Popovic, Nikola Rakocevic, Vuk Kostic. World Premiere
Initial Impression: Here we have an international ensemble movie with five countries represented. My guess is that it’s more like Babel than Diner. Although that gets me thinking, this might be the perfect moment for my Babel-meets-Diner pitch, co-starring Zac Efron. I’ll have to get to work on that. I’m not crazy about the title “Circles,” but perhaps in Croatian it also means “Zac Efron.”
Crystal Fairy / Chile (Director and screenwriter: Sebastián Silva) — Jamie invites a stranger to join a road trip to Chile. The woman’s free and esoteric nature clashes with Jamie’s acidic, self-absorbed personality as they head into the desert for a Mescaline-fueled psychedelic trip. Cast: Michael Cera, Gabby Hoffmann, Juan Andrés Silva, José Miguel Silva, Agustín Silva. World Premiere. DAY ONE FILM
Initial Impression: Let’s hope Michael Cera’s acting hiatus involved some Mescaline-fueled psychedelic trips and he goes on a press tour all Joaquin Phoenix-like. Either way, this new film out of Chile should be very interesting, and it will be exciting to see Michael Cera shirtless.
The Future / Chile, Germany, Italy, Spain (Director and screenwriter: Alicia Scherson) — When their parents die, Bianca starts to smoke and Tomas is still a virgin. The orphans explore the dangerous streets of adulthood until Bianca finds Maciste, a retired Mr. Universe, and enters his dark mansion in search of a future. Cast: Manuela Martelli, Rutger Hauer, Luigi Ciardo, Nicolas Vaporidis, Alessandro Giallocosta. World Premiere
Initial Impression: Let me get this out of the way: I love anything with orphans exploring adulthood. I’m not a robot! This is a multi-national flick from Alicia Scherson, whose previous film, Tourists, was about a Norwegian backpacker stranded in a national park with a former pop star. The biggest difference? Rutger Hauer’s in this one.
Houston / Germany (Director and screenwriter: Bastian Günther) — Clemens Trunschka is a corporate headhunter and an alcoholic. Drinking increasingly isolates him from his life and leads him away from reality. While searching for a CEO candidate in Houston, his addiction submerges him into his own darkness. Cast: Ulrich Tukur, Garret Dillahunt, Wolfram Koch, Jenny Schily, Jason Douglas, Jens Münchow. World Premiere
This logline doesn’t exactly inspire visions of happiness, but that’s more American cinema’s bag. Ulrich Tukur from The Lives of Others and The White Ribbon stars in this German film made partially in Houston. I hope they got enough to eat.
Jiseul / South Korea (Director and screenwriter: Muel O) — In 1948, as the Korean government ordered the Communists’ eviction to Jeju Island, the military invaded a calm and peaceful village. Townsfolk took sanctuary in a cave and debated moving to a higher mountain. Cast: Min-chul SUNG, Jung-won YANG, Young-soon OH, Soon-dong PARK, Suk-bum MOON, Kyung-sub JANG. International Premiere
I don’t know if I’m the right person to be doing this.
Lasting / Poland, Spain (Director and screenwriter: Jacek Borcuch) — An emotional love story about two Polish students who fall in love with each other while working summer jobs in Spain. An unexpected nightmare interrupts their carefree time in the heavenly landscape and throws their lives into chaos. Cast: Jakub Gierszal, Magdalena Berus, Angela Molina. World Premiere
This is definitely more my jam. This is former Polish child actor Jacek Boruch’s follow-up to his 2010 Sundance hit All That I Love, which was an effective blend of comedy, drama, and music. It was also Poland’s official Oscar entry for 2011. This one has young love and Sundance street cred.
Metro Manila / United Kingdom, Philippines (Director: Sean Ellis, Screenwriters: Sean Ellis, Frank E. Flowers) — Seeking a better life, Oscar and his family move from the poverty-stricken rice fields to the big city of Manila, where they fall victim to various inhabitants whose manipulative ways are a daily part of city survival. Cast: Jake Macapagal, John Arcilla, Althea Vega. World Premiere
Sean Ellis is a unique filmmaker with a few cool movies under his belt, including Cashback, a feature expansion of his Oscar-nominated short, which contained copious amounts of nudity. That’s one thing you can count on with Sundance’s international slate, thank gawd.
Shopping / New Zealand (Directors: Mark Albiston, Louis Sutherland, Screenwriters: Louis Sutherland, Mark Albiston) — New Zealand, 1981: Seduced by a charismatic career criminal, teenager Willie must choose where his loyalty lies–with a family of shoplifters or his own blood. Cast: Kevin Paulo, Julian Dennison, Jacek Koman, Alistair Browning. World Premiere
Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland previously made the award-winning short “The Six Dollar Fifty Man.” The title, era, subject matter, and country of origin are all promising. [Editor’s note: My bet is that some frames will contain rolling green hills.]
Soldate Jeannette / Austria (Director: Daniel Hoesl) — Fanni has had enough of money and leaves to buy a tent. Anna has had enough of pigs and leaves a needle in the hay. Cars crash and money burns to shape their mutual journey toward a rising liberty. Cast: Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg, Christina Reichsthaler, Josef Kleindienst, Aurelia Burckhardt, Julia Schranz, Ines Rössl. World Premiere
Fanni, Anna, and I clearly have a lot of the same problems, so I am definitely on board with this Austrian cutie from 29-year-old filmmaker Daniel Hoesl. Daniel has been writing, directing, and producing his own films for almost decade now, but this is his first feature.
There Will Come a Day / Italy, France (Director: Giorgio Diritti, Screenwriters: Giorgio Diritti, Fredo Valla, Tania Pedroni) — Painful issues push Augusta, a young Italian woman, to doubt the certainties on which she has built her existence. On a small boat in the immensity of the Amazon rain forest, she faces the adventure of searching for herself. Cast: Jasmine Trinca, Anne Alvaro, Pia Engleberth. World Premiere
Giorgio Diritti’s last film was called The Man Who Will Come, and this one is called There Will Come A Day. I haven’t seen any of his films yet, so I’m still wondering if the man or the day, in fact, came. My guess is both, but not without struggle. [Editor’s note: My guess is neither came.]
Wajma (An Afghan Love Story) / Afghanistan (Director and screenwriter: Barmak Akram) — A young man in Kabul seduces a girl. When she tells him she’s pregnant, he questions having taken her virginity. Then her father arrives, and a timeless, archaic violence erupts—possibly leading to a crime, and even a sacrifice. Cast: Wajma Bahar, Mustafa Abdulsatar, Haji Gul, Breshna Bahar. World Premiere
Sounds like a brutal movie about love, sex, and sacrifice. This has “movie my mom would order on Netflix” written all over it. She has eclectic yet very depressing tastes. [Editor’s note: Your mom sounds cool. Oh, wait, your mom is cool. Hi Carol!]
What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love / Indonesia (Director and screenwriter: Mouly Surya) — Mouly Surya’s film explores the odds of love and deception among the blind, the deaf and the unlucky sighted people at a high school for the visually impaired. Cast: Nicholas Saputra, Ayushita Nugraha, Karina Salim, Anggun Priambodo, Lupita Jennifer. World Premiere
A complex story of young love from the director of Fiksi, Mouly Surya. This is one where you hope it’s good because if it’s good it’s like reallllly good. So much possibility. I noticed the international films I get most excited for are the ones about young love, or the ones from New Zealand. Call me old-fashioned.