There’s a solid chance that you haven’t heard of most of these movies. Yet they exist – out there somewhere as a thorn in the side of movie fans trying to see as much as possible. Nuggets of potential waiting to be picked up from the movie orphanage by a distributor and given a warm home with cup holders in every seat.
The European Film Market is fascinating for that reason and for the way people attend it. Tickets this year were around $600, but that’s a reasonable price for companies sending representatives trying to find the next moneymaker for their company or the hot movie to bring to their festival. That means screenings come complete with people on cell phones and unimpressed buyers walking out after ten minutes to hustle next door to see if the other movie playing has any promise to it. It’s a bizarre way to watch movies, but it makes a kind of sense given the massive size of the movie list compared to the tiny amount of time to see everything.
There were upwards of 675 movies in the EFM this year, all of them with their own selling points. Here are the 87 most interesting-sounding with descriptions found in the official catalog. For the most part, I haven’t seen these movies (and didn’t even know about many of them until the Berlin Film Festival), but they all have something going for them that should earn them a spot on your radar.
4:44 The Last Day on Earth
The Pitch: “A loving couple lives in a beautiful apartment. It’s just a normal afternoon – except that tomorrow, at 4:44, the world will come to an end.”
The Point: Director Abel Ferrara and star Willem Dafoe, with an intriguing (if not Von Trier-ian) concept.
5 Broken Cameras
The Pitch: “5 Broken Cameras looks at Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who has been documenting his village’s resistance to advancing Israeli settlements since 2005, using the 5 cameras of the title. Each camera tells a part of the story.”
The Point: A doc with an interesting angle, timely subject matter, and a reluctant storyteller who ends up getting a new camera every time one is broken in the conflict.
The 25th Reich
The Pitch: “Five American GIs stationed in Australia in 1943 get caught in a secret OSS time-travel mission gone awry. Sent 50,000 years back in time, they must retrieve an alien spaceship that may help to win the war against Hitler.”
The Point: Did you just read the pitch? Awesome.
The Pitch: “Based on the Chinese Revolution, 1911 follows Huang Xin (Jackie Chan) & Sun Yat Sun (Winston Chao) fight for a better life for the people of China and lead the revolt against the deteriorated Qing Dynasty.”
The Point: Already out on DVD with a Hunter seal of approval, they’re most likely looking for distribution in other markets, or perhaps a theatrical here in the States.
The Pitch: “In 20XX, to prevent the rise of vicious crimes, the government introduces a new justice system where the defense and prosecutor go head-to-head in open court. Within just three days, a guilty or not guilty verdict is decided…”
The Point: Directed by Takashi Miike…
The Pitch: “Melanie Laurent teams up with her Inglorious Basterds co-star Denis Menochet in her directorial debut. A heartfelt, hopeful and bittersweet take on love and rebirth.”
The Point: The premise is generic-sounding, but Laurent is an impressive actress who deserves some attention for being on both sides of the camera now.
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
The Pitch: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry is the inside story of a dissident for the digital age who inspires global audiences and blurs the boundaries of art and politics.”
The Point: A firebrand, bizarre activist with a mind for design and sculpture, Sundance Selects has recently picked it up to show in theaters near us.
The Pitch: “Love, trains, insanity and history all descend upon a railway dispatcher deep in the heart of Central Europe…”
The Point: This is the rotoscope animation project that had a trailer last year. I have it on good authority that it’s a slow-burning revenge thriller with an engaging visual style.
The Pitch: “Hedge-fund magnate Robert Miller is desperately trying to complete the sale of his trading empire before the depths of his fraud are revealed. An unexpected bloody error forces him to turn to the most unlikely corner for help.”
The Point: Richard Gere stars with Susan Sarandon and Tim Roth. Plus, it’s the first feature narrative from Nicholas Jarecki – the guy who wrote, and was then kicked off of, The Informers.
As Luck Would Have It
The Pitch: “An unemployed advertising executive decides to take advantage of an accident he has, after yet another humiliating work interview.”
The Point: New Alex De La Iglesia? Yes, please.
Battle of Warsaw 1920
The Pitch: “From Oscar-nominated director, Jerzy Hoffman, and Oscar-nominated cinematographer, Slawomir Idziak, comes an epic tale of bravery and love that depicts the Polish battle for independence against the Bolsheviks after World War I.”
The Point: Hoffman was nominated for Best Foreign Film back in 1974 for The Deluge – another historical drama. Here, he’s teaming with Idziak, who’s nomination was for shooting Black Hawk Down. That’s one hell of a partnership, especially if the veteran still has some skill left in him.
The Pitch: “A writer locks himself in a meat cooler, determined to finish his screenplay. As the temperature drops, the lines between fiction and reality blur and Jack’s script comes dangerously to life.”
The Point: Edward Furlong stars, but it’s really Michael Berryman‘s grisly, Hills Have Eyes-face that gets the blood boiling, even if the premise is just ridiculous enough to be (sorry) cool.