The 10 pics championed by variety critics selected to screen at the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival next month are an eclectic mix of the year's best-reviewed Euro-backed features. Representing a wide sample of different genres, countries and languages (and yet still managing to include two films with "Blind" in the title), the choices range from French indie "Insecure" (fresh from Cannes) to Fantastic Fest favorite "Grand Piano" (an ultra-tense Spanish thriller starring Elijah Wood), pictured above.
The sidebar is presented in conjunction with European Film Promotion.
A lithe, quicksilver portrait of a woman whose loss of sight only serves to sharpen her creative imagination, this standout debut feature for screenwriter Eskil Vogt retains many of the literate, self-reflexive touches Vogt brought to his collaborations with helmer Joachim Trier while finding its own alternately droll, sexy, heartbreaking rhythms.
About the director: Though Vogt graduated from the directing program at La Femis film school, he is best known for co-writing "Reprise" and "Oslo, August 31st" with longtime friend Trier, whom he met while working as a camera assistant on a Norwegian quiz show. His 2003 short "An Embrace" was nominated for a European Film Award.
Levan Koguashvili's quietly enchanting film carves out an unpredictable path for its Tbilisi bachelor protagonist that leads not so much toward love as a lovely sense of generosity toward all. With pitch-perfect performances and unfussily naturalistic yet artful staging, the result is a slow-burning delight that leaves a soulful afterglow.
About the director: Koguashvili began his film studies in his hometown of Tbilisi, Georgia, but dropped out a year later when war broke out. He immediately got involved with Georgia's first independent TV station, working as a journalist, then moved to New York in 2006, where he graduated from NYU's Tisch grad film program. His first feature, 2010's "Street Days," repped Georgia in the foreign-language Oscar race.
Reuniting "The Guard" star Brendan Gleeson with writer-director John Michael McDonagh, this masterful follow-up features Gleeson as a tough-minded Irish priest marked for death by one of his parishioners. The film offers a mordantly funny survey of small-town iniquity that morphs, almost imperceptibly, into a deeply felt lament for a fallen world.
About the director: "Calvary" marks the second film in what Irish helmer McDonagh calls his "Glorified Suicide Trilogy," which began with 2011's "The Guard" (that film went on to become Ireland's most financially successful indie feature). Both films premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, which also hosted his older brother Martin's debut, "In Bruges."
Catch Me Daddy
Musicvideo director Daniel Wolfe and his brother Matthew confirm that style and content need not be mutually exclusive with their impressive debut, which tracks the doomed attempts of a British-Asian teen runaway to escape her violently protective family. Tale is performed with affecting naturalism by a cast that mixes trained and non-professional actors.
About the directors: Combining their passions for music and film, Daniel Wolfe and Matthew Wolfe collaborated on their first feature, which played in Cannes' Directors' Fortnight. Daniel had previously received acclaim helming videos for Plan B and the Shoes, including "Time to Dance," which depicts Jake Gyllenhaal on a homicidal anti-hipster spree. Matthew recorded keyboards on Stephen Fretwell's "Magpie."