Beyond the Hills (Dupa dealuri)
directed by Cristian Mungiu
Mungiu follows up 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days with another grim yet entirely hypnotic film anchored by two incredible debut performances from its young actresses. Every moment is expertly composed and staged, with long patient sequences which make full use of the widescreen frame to create an immersive atmosphere. It doesn't build as much tension as his previous film, but it's still a masterful display of acting, directing, and storytelling. One of the year's best.
directed by Cao Hamburger
A loose telling of the remarkable true story of the Villas-Boas brothers, who helped to establish Brazil's Xingu National Park. Has some strong performances, and features some astonishing locations, but suffers from poor pacing. Overall it's too episodic and choppy, and the attempts at creating dramatic tension fall flat.
directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel
A bizarre and brilliant experimental documentary filmed aboard a fishing boat in the North Atlantic. With no background, no voiceover, no interviews, and no real story to tell, just a bunch of digital cameras placed in strategic locations in, on, and around the boat as the crew go about their work. It's an absolutely visceral experience that will either make you sick, or in complete awe of the images and sound on display. This one had a steady stream of walkouts, and was the first film I saw at the fest that got booed.
The Shine of Day (Der Glanz des Tages)
directed by Tizza Covi, Rainer Frimmel
Covi and Frimmel's second feature film follows in the same fascinating documentary style drama (shot on 16mm) as their debut. It's a rather loose story that sprawls out with many loose ends, and many will be bored along the way or frustrated with the ending. But the acting is impressive, and the two leads share some great natural chemistry.
When the Night (Quando la notte)
directed by Cristina Comencini
Another film that takes place in a beautiful setting but fails to succeed dramatically. Comencini adapted her own novel, and she builds some excellent atmosphere using some truly magnificent visuals, but the characters are not well defined nor entirely believable and the melodrama is even less convincing.