Must-watch foreign language films in 2019
Since Roma won three Oscars and early festivals have shown terrific signs of promise – foreign language cinema is richer than ever. Here's what to watch this year
France: Sorry Angel, The World Is Yours
Vincent Lacoste and Pierre Deladonchamps in Sorry Angel
Christophe Honoré is no stranger to the festival circuit – in 2002, his feature Seventeen Times Cecile Cassard competed for the Un Certain Regard prize in Cannes, before he entered his 2007 film Love Songs in the official competition for the first time. Sorry Angel tells the story of a student, Arthur (Vincent Lacoste), who has a love affair with Jacques (Pierre Deladonchamps), a 39-year-old writer.
Sorry Angel will be released in UK cinemas on 22 March 2019
Romain Gavras dives into a world of crime with his new film
The film that skyrocketed Romain Gavras' career is the music video for M.I.A's controversial battlecry 'Break Free', but the filmmaker has delivered a wholly original work in The World Is Yours, an upcoming comedy that is both stylish and smart.
His sophomore feature is a poppy, quippy gangster movie that takes a low-key drug dealer on one last adventure. The World Is Yours premiered in the Directors' Fortnight at the 2018 Festival de Cannes, and received widespread praise when it was released on US Netflix last Winter.
The World Is Yours will be released in UK cinemas on 26 April 2019
Italy: Happy As Lazzaro, Loro
Adriano Tardiolo in Happy as Lazzaro
Following the success of My Brilliant Friend, 2019 continues to treat italophiles. Happy as Lazzaro brings magical realism to cinemas in a tale about a sharecropping community, who live in a cut-off crumbling village under the aegis of a local tobacco magnate. It’s a thematic follow-up to director Alice Rohrwacher’s previous film, The Wonders, a pastoral comedy that received the Cannes Grand Prix.
Happy as Lazzaro will be released in UK cinemas on 15 March 2019
Toni Servillo as Berlusconi in Loro
There’s nothing pastoral about Paolo Sorrentino’s two-part Berlusconi biopic Loro, which has been described as ‘a porn film without a moral issue’.The former prime minister is portrayed by Toni Servillo, who also starred in Sorrentino’s Oscar-winning The Great Beauty.
Loro will be released in UK cinemas on 12 April 2019
Iran: 3 Faces
Marziyeh Rezaei in 3 Faces
The award for Best Screenplay in Cannes in 2018 went to Iranian director Jafar Panahi for his self-starring drama 3 Faces. The director plays himself, alongside actors Behnaz Jafari, as the pair embark on a search for a young girl who posted a video of herself when she decided to leave her family, who prevented her from studying at the Tehran drama conservatory.
The fun of a road trip faces the rigid obligations of tradition in a peculiar study of humanity and compassion.
3 Faces will be released in UK cinemas on 29 March 2019
Iceland: Woman at War
Halldóra Geirharõsdóttir in Woman at War
Actor-turned-director Benedikt Erlingsson earned cult status with his 2013 Of Horses and Men, where horses are the facilitators of human romance. His new eco-drama Woman at War moves away from equine themes, but otherwise it continues on the quirky path set by its predecessor.
40-something choir conductor Halla (Halldóra Geirharðsdóttir) doubles secretly as an eco-activist who campaigns against energy corporations moving to Iceland. But she has to think twice about her pylon-slashing activities, as her all but forgotten application to adopt an orphaned Ukrainian baby is suddenly accepted.
Woman at War will be released in UK cinemas on 3 May 2019
A football hero, a fever dream, an identity crisis and a few giant puppies – Portuguese dreamscape Diamantino is anything but predictable. Trust the oddities of the experimental feature and follow it down the rabbit hole. Since its premiere in Cannes, audiences at festivals around the world have lauded the originality and sheer brilliance of the indescribable film.
Diamantino will be released in UK cinemas on 10 May 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.