Variety Critics' Choice 

  • Aaaaaaaah! Aaaaaaaah! / Aaaaaaaah!
    Directed by: Steve Oram
    United Kingdom, 2015, 80 min

    Does it seem like people have come much further than apes? If so, this film will disabuse you of that faulty notion, with its liberal use of over-the-top gore, gross-out gags, and dialogue that’s surprisingly understandable considering that the characters don’t speak one recognizable word. Life is a constant battle and all anyone cares about is controlling those around them.

  • As I Open My Eyes Když otevřu oči / A peine j’ouvre les yeux
    Directed by: Leyla Bouzid
    France, Tunisia, Belgium, United Arab Emirates, 2015, 102 min

    On the eve of Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution during the Arab Spring of 2010, a young woman named Farah feels she has to be the one to decide what to do with her life. She seems to have tolerant parents and open-minded friends but, in both cases, she has to put up a bit of a fight. Worst of all, however, is her conflict with the dictatorial regime, which is less than thrilled with the lyrics of her songs.

  • Death by Death Zemřít na smrt / Je me tue à le dire
    Directed by: Xavier Seron
    Belgium, France, 2016, 90 min

    Michel is the prototype of the outsider. On top of that he’s an inveterate hypochondriac obsessed with visions of death. And why wouldn’t he be, when he’s pathologically dependent on his self-centered mother, a woman who endured cancer and will speak of nothing else. This markedly stylized work serves up a litany of wild and absurd situations with sophisticated humor.

  • The Demons Démoni / Les démons
    Directed by: Philippe Lesage
    Canada, 2015, 118 min

    Ten-year-old Felix is growing up in a peaceful environment and you might say his childhood is ideal. The movie looks at events through his eyes, thereby revealing little by little how much fear and anxiety even a so-called normal child experiences at every turn. Thanks to his heightened sensitivity, the boy seems to feel when actual danger is lurking nearby.

  • The Fits Křeč / The Fits
    Directed by: Anna Rose Holmer
    USA, 2015, 71 min

    Eleven-year-old Toni goes boxing with her brother but she wants to become a member of the tight-knit modern dance collective that practices in the adjacent gym. She gets her wish, but when the other girls begin falling prey to the bizarre symptoms of group psychosis, it’s up to her whether or not she’ll be able to get away from there.

  • Fourth Place Čtvrté místo / Sa deung
    Directed by: Jung Ji-woo
    South Korea, 2015, 119 min

    A young athlete has the misfortune to be an excellent swimmer. For the time being, however, he has yet to win a medal, and so the boy’s coach and his mother decide on tough training and physical punishment. Visually polished, the film has a small-scale feel, but underneath, it criticizes a system that primarily praises performance.

  • Mellow Mud Jsem tady! / Es esmu šeit
    Directed by: Renārs Vimba
    Latvia, 2016, 105 min

    Seventeen-year-old Raya doesn’t have things easy, living as she does with just her grandmother and younger brother in the country. When grandma suddenly dies the siblings should head for the nearest orphanage but the girl opts to take things energetically into her own hands. She still has to face disappointment and dramatic struggles with her harsh circumstances, but Raya isn’t one to give up.

  • Neon Bull Neonový býk / Boi Neon
    Directed by: Gabriel Mascaro
    Brazil, Uruguay, Netherlands, 2015, 101 min

    Cowpokes, rodeos, transporting bulls from place to place, breeding prize horses – these are the activities that engage the movie’s protagonists as their stories intertwine in complex fashion. It’s not always just about tough guys; cowboy Iremar dreams of becoming a tailor and sewing fashionable clothes for women… This colorful film full of dash and erotic verve picked up prizes at the festivals in Venice, Toronto, and Warsaw.

  • Snap Momentky / Snap: Kae Dai Kid Tueng
    Directed by: Kongdej Jaturanrasmee
    Thailand, 2015, 97 min

    Several one-time students of a high school class meet at the wedding of a former classmate, among them Peung, who is also about to be married. Boyd is there too, and memories of their student relationship throw the young woman off balance. The Thai military coup of 2014 forms a backdrop to this emotional and visually accomplished film.

  • They Call Me Jeeg Říkali mi Džigu / Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot
    Directed by: Gabriele Mainetti
    Italy, 2015, 118 min

    Thanks to an unusual accident, an incorrigible petty criminal is gifted with superhuman powers. And thanks to another, he is mistaken by a traumatized beauty for the superhero of a Japanese manga series. What else, then, but to do good deeds and tangle with a gang of thugs? Full of dramatic twists, the movie makes the most of humor and comic-book exaggeration, while still managing to point out the social ills of contemporary Italy.


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