There are several key themes that are recurring with these films. So let’s dive right in:
The Quiet Girl is at the top of our list. It’s a film about a girl who’s neglected and feels alone not only from her peers but from her family as well. She has the opportunity to spend the summer with her Uncle and Aunt. And the girl slowly begins to blossom. The Quiet Girl is the reason why we watch movies. We fall in love with them. And months later we still get teary eyed thinking about them. It’s impeccable filmmaking from start to finish. It’s a slow buildup to a perfect emotional ending that makes it one of the best films of the year.
Safe Place and A Long Break both touch on the subject of suicide. Safe Place is a film that moved us deeply, as it’s an autobiographical film from the director. It follows the next 24 hours of a family having to deal with a loved one who wants to end their life. The impact of the film after it ends stays with you long after the credits are running. We can’t stop thinking about it. A Long Break is about a man who suffered a lot of bullying at school and 13 years later he is still suffering from the pain that happened to him as a child. He finally has the opportunity to talk to his bully and the result is impactful and caused us to reflect on our lives as kids in the classroom.
(Georgia - A Long Break)
Goddamned Asura and Lo Invisible also deal with self-harm but in completely different ways. Goddamned Asura is about a man who goes on a shooting spree in a busy marketplace. He’s struggling to be seen and heard from his parents and so he feels that the only action he can take is to do the unimaginable. This creates unsurmountable consequences not only for him but everyone around him. Lo Invisible deals with postpartum depression as a mother struggles significantly to continue living as the world moves on around her. She self mutilates herself to be seen but she feels unseen by the entire world. It’s a hard film to watch seeing a woman lose herself completely.
(Ecuador - Lo Invisible)
There are two films that deal directly with euthanasia. Birthday Boy is about a man who’s suffering from a lot of pain and he wants to end his life. Shot gorgeously in a beach home in Panama, we see the effect that this has on his wife and his friends around him. No one should have to endure such pain. On the other hand, in a fictional Japan, Plan 75 creates a world where everyone over the age of 75 can euthanize themselves. We see how an elderly woman deals with the choice of continuing to live her life or to end it. The choice is an extremely tough one to make and we love that these two directors dove right into this topic without any hesitation.
(Panama - Birthday Boy)
Klondike and Eami both deal with topics of war, although two completely different scenarios. Klondike is the latest film about Donbass and the effects that it has on the people living there. We see how a married couple refuses to leave their home despite all the chaos that’s happening around them. No one should have to make that decision, ever. Eami, on the other hand, is dealing with deforestation. It’s a topic that we don’t see much on the screen but it’s a devastating problem that’s occurring all over the world, especially in South America. The film explores the effects that it has had on the Ayoreo people as they’re also forced to leave the only home they have ever known.
(Paraguay - Eami)
The Employer and the Employee deals with social classes between the rich and the poor. It’s a film that shows how difficult it is for both sides when an unexpected accident occurs. Both men want to do the right thing, but when both are at fault, who do you blame? It takes us right into the mindset of the employer and the employee as they try to figure out the best steps in order to provide the best result for their families and for themselves.
Magnetic Fields and Decision To Leave are about relationships and individuals who are lost and needing help. Magnetic Fields starts slowly with two lost individuals who are seeking something different in their lives. The ending is one of the best moments we’ve seen so far and it makes the journey worthwhile. Decision To Leave is about a detective who has fallen deeply in love with a woman who could’ve potentially killed her husband. The twists and turns between these two individuals creates one the most memorable quotes so far: “The moment you said you loved me, your love is over. The moment your love ends, my love begins.” It’s a breathtakingly beautiful film to watch.
(Greece - Magnetic Fields)
Now of these 15 films, there’s a chance that perhaps three of them will make the shortlist. If we had to pick three, and this is solely based on who we think will be nominated, we would single out the following:
Decision To Leave - After its debut at the Cannes Film Festival, the South Korean film became an early frontrunner. Not only is the film a contender for International Feature, but it could also score nominations for best director, best screenplay, and best cinematography. The film has been watched, it has the buzz, it has the reviews, so it’s an easy pick for it to be shortlisted.
The Quiet Girl - This film is the one we feel will be absolutely adored by The Academy voters once they see it. It’s an impossible movie not to like and judging by its reviews on IMDb and Letterboxd everyone is falling in love with it. It’s a fan favourite. It has one of the most beautiful endings of any film we’ll watch this year. It has just been picked up by the distributer Super, who also led Quo Vadis, Aida? to a nomination, so this feels like a safe bet as well.
Klondike - This was a hard one to choose between so many other options. The reason why we feel like this one has a slight advantage is not only because of how relevant it is right now with the war in Ukraine, but because it’s simply such a beautiful, well-made, well-acted film. The scenery is stunning. The camera-work is astonishing. And it’s playing the film festival scene and creating the hype behind it.
Let’s see what the next 15 films have to bring - we’re only getting started.