Must-watch foreign language films in 2019
With Cannes behind us and a long, hot summer ahead, it's time to plan which foreign-language films to watch. Here are the titles to keep on your radar
France: Knife + Heart, Varda by Agnès
When Agnès Varda confirmed a new film to premiere at the 2019 Berlinale, it already felt like a swansong. Barely a year since her luminous documentary Faces, Places, Varda by Agnès is an even more intimate and restrained film for an artist who has such an astonishing body of work to look back on. Since Varda's passing at the end of March, it feels all the more precious to look forward to one final trip to the beach with Agnès.
Varda by Agnès will be released in UK cinemas on 19 July 2019
Vanessa Paradis stars in Yann Gonzalez's hyper-stylised erotic slasher Knife+Heart – after premiering in Cannes in 2018 and lighting up the 2019 BFI Flare Festival. In Paris 1979, a gay porn director is looking for ways to reinvigorate her work in the midst of a gruesome killing spree. Blood, sex and neon lighting come to the fore in an experimental ode to the '70s gay porn scene.
Knife + Heart will be released in UK cinemas on 5 July 2019
We're not in LA anymore: rock'n'roll travels far with Leto, a semi-fictional biopic of Soviet musician Viktor Tsoi. As well as acting as one of the forefathers of Kino, one of the most influential bands in the history of Russian music, Tsoi is also remembered for his personal life, as Leto retraces the love triangle between Tsoi, Zoopark musician Mike Naumenko, and Naumenko's wife Natalia.
Leto will be released in UK cinemas on 16 August 2019
Christian Petzold's poetic film has been doing the rounds since the 2018 Berlinale, but it's finally coming out in the UK this summer. Transit follows one man across borders as he tries to flee Nazi-occupied France and falls in love in the process. It's a slippery and non-conventional narrative, but its powerful agenda leaves a lasting mark.
Transit will be released in UK cinemas on 16 August 2019
Eight kids, one hostage, a cow and a civil war – what could go wrong?
Brazilian filmmaker Alejandro Landes uses the backdrop of the Colombian civil war to tell a dizzying story of teenage angst and global chaos in Monos. If the premise recalls Lord of the Flies or Heart of Darkness, it’s a deliberate link Landes makes. The lightning-sharp film uses a very real, still ongoing exterior conflict to evoke the interior angst of these kids growing up at war with the entire world, as well as themselves.
Monos will be released this Summer
Spain: Pain and Glory
Banderas is back – and he's going more method than ever
Famed Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar directs Antonio Banderas in Pain and Glory, in which the actor plays a fading film director recalling his life. Alongside Banderas, with whom Almodóvar last worked on 2011's The Skin I Live In, is Penelope Cruz, whom he cast in 2006's Volver, as well as (an interesting twist) neo-flamenco sensation Rosalía. Longing, beauty and pain – this is definitely classic Almodóvar territory.
Pain and Glory will be released in UK cinemas on 23 August 2019
Canada: Matthias & Maxime
Cannes darling Xavier Dolan returns with his most mature film to date, a story of friendship and repressed affection in Matthias & Maxime. The filmmaker stars as one of the two title boys, Max, as him and his best friend Maxime are asked to share a kiss for a student film and must reckon with conflicting feelings. It's more calm than previous outings, cherishing the subjects Dolan knows best with a warm sense of confidence.
Matthias & Maxime is yet to receive a UK release date.
South Korea: Parasite
From the brilliant mind that envisaged Okja and Snowpiercer comes a new social thriller that blew the competition out of the water and won the Palme d'Or at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Parasite sees South Korean master Bong Joon-Ho return on thrilling form, as his portrait of a scavenging family very quickly unravels with funny, violent, intelligent and truly shocking results.
Parasite will be released later this year by Artificial Eye.