The sparkly, brilliant film diamonds of the year.

Cold War (2018)

The torn curtain of love is the theme of Paweł Pawlikowski’s mysterious, musically glorious and visually ravishing film set in cold war Poland and beyond. The crystalline black-and-white cinematography exalts its moments of intimate grimness and its dreamlike showpieces of theatrical display. […] A love a air thrashes and wilts in the freedom of a foreign country, and then begins to submit to the homeland’s doomy gravitational pull. Like Pawlikowski’s previous picture, Ida [HIFF 2014], this is about the dark heart of Poland itself. The wounded love at its centre surfaces from the depths of cynicism, exhaustion and state-sponsored submission and fear. […] [P]ianist and composer Wiktor (Tomasz Kot) and the producer Irena (Agata Kulesza), […] have some emotional history together. But Wiktor’s eye is caught by […] Zula (Joanna Kulig). […] Soon, Wiktor and Zula are having a passionate affair and he has made Zula into a star. Their
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Kesä (2018)

Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov’s latest, the aptly titled Leto (Summer), is a helium-light work about scruffy young Soviets in 1980 making music, partying, flirting and quietly defying the state, roughly in that order. Certainly, it’s a much more jovial affair than his last, The Student [HIFF 2016] […]. This time the young people are the good guys, determined to smuggle the rebellious spirit of Western rock, punk and New Wave music into a pre-perestroika Leningrad that’s still highly repressive. Politics and ideology are […] treated by the characters – who are based on real Soviet pop stars Viktor Tsoi of the band Kino and Mike Naumenko of Zoopark – as sort of a fuddy-duddy joke. […] At heart, [the film is] more concerned with capturing the feel of the early ‘80s, the paranoia but also spirit of communal life in crowded apartment blocks. There are some beautifully fluid performance sequences
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Raja (2018)

Swedish customs officer [Tina, played by Eva Melander] with a special talent for detecting contraband must ultimately choose between good and evil in the idiosyncratic thriller Border, an exciting, intelligent mix of romance, Nordic noir, social realism, and supernatural horror that defies and subverts genre conventions. Destined to be a cult classic, this absorbing second feature from Iran-born, Denmark-based director Ali Abbasi is based on a short story by Let the Right One In author John Ajvide Lindqvist, whose oeuvre and fandom is comparable to that of Stephen King and Anne Rice. Alissa Simon, Variety Ali Abbasi’s second feature […] is a bracingly original fusion of twisted fairytale, folklore, police procedural, tragic romance and existential drama. It is mesmerising in its initial oddness and develops into a complex, richly satisfying piece of storytelling in which all the seemingly jagged, awkward edges eventually fit smoothly together. One of the things that
Screenings
Stupid Young Heart is a film about the first love between the skinny and carefree Lenni and the gorgeous and popular Kiira. Not yet in a relationship, nor out of highschool, they discover that they are expecting a baby. Lenni has nine months to become a man. Having grown up without a father figure, Lenni finds longed-for adult attention and guidance from an unlikely friend Janne, a member of a right wing group that has recently moved into Lenni’s diverse neighbourhood. After taking part in a scrambled attack on a local Mosque, while Kiira is rushed to the hospital to give birth, Lenni realises that he must learn to be a man in his own way, even though he never had a chance to be a child himself. Selma Vilhunen is a director and screenwriter of both fiction and documentary films. She is also one of the co-founders of the
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