Films Programs

Awards Buzz : Best Foreign Language Film

Once again the Palm Springs International Film Festival presents the largest selection of foreign language Oscar submissions of any film festival in the world. This year 65 countries have submitted films to the Academy in hopes of taking home the Oscar. We have selected what we feel are 40 of the strongest films for presentation at the Festival.* Watching the films along with the audience will be the FIPRESCI jury of international film critics who will award one film top prize.

Some of the films have already been much lauded at other major festivals—such as Thailand’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Palm d’Or, Cannes), Turkey’s Honey (Golden Bear, Berlin), Peru’s Undertow (Audience Award, World Cinema, Sundance) and France’s Of Gods and Men (Grand Jury Prize, Cannes). Other films are screening in the U.S. for the first time at the PSIFF, such as Chile’s The Life of Fish, Bosnia’s Cirkus Columbia, Kyrgyzstan’s The Light Thief, Russia’s The Edge, Serbia’s Solemn Promise, and Switzerland’s The Little Room.

Regardless of whether the films have been seen and heralded around the world or whether they are new to screens, here in Palm Springs the playing field will be leveled as the FIPRESCI jury and audiences alike will experience these films together one final time before the Oscar process narrows down the field to five final nominees. The foreign language Oscar nominated films are, almost by definition, a source of national pride, but perhaps more important, represent a uniquely distinctive and sublime chorus of individual filmmaking voices.

Please note, that the following films have either screened at the festival in 2010 or have been released theatrically:

Algeria – Hors La Loi has been released theatrically in US
Austria – La Pivellina screened at PSIFF in 2010
Greece - Dogtooth screened at PSIFF in 2010
Mexico - Biutiful is in the festival’s Talking Pictures section
Portugal – To Die Like a Man screened at PSIFF in 2010


9:06   

9:06
Slovenia, 2009, 71 min.
A coolly elegant one-man police procedural slowly develops into a beguiling psychological mystery in this genre-bender that raises more questions than it answers. Winner of nine Slovenian film awards, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay.... more



Aftershock   

Aftershock
China, 2010, 128 min.
Combining stunning special effects with potent family drama this heartrending depiction of the impact of the massive 1976 earthquake that killed more than 240,000 in Tangshan, China uses the disaster to set up the story of a family torn apart--and the 40 years it takes them to reconnect. Winner, Bes... more



All That I Love   

All That I Love
Poland, 2009, 95 min.
In this warm and energetic film, four small town teenagers form a punk rock band. Their transition from boys to men takes place during the 1981 political turmoil and rise of the Solidarity movement. The emergence of censorship and repression forces them to face the ruthless reality of the communist ... more



The Angel   

The Angel
Norway, 2009, 97 min.
A lyrically shot tale of addiction and dysfunctional families, The Angel is a story about women inheriting and enduring their mother’s pain; a story where dependence determines every decision. Winner, Audience Award, Gothenburg Film Festival; Best Actress, Talinn Film Festival.... more



The Athlete   

The Athlete
Ethiopia, 2009, 93 min.
Marathoner Abebe Bikila, the first black African to win an Olympic gold, ran his gold medal marathon barefoot. Impressive, sure, but Bikila’s story becomes truly remarkable following an accident that leaves him unable to walk... more



A Barefoot Dream   

A Barefoot Dream
South Korea, 2010, 121 min.
An inspirational David and Goliath tale of a down-on-his luck former pro soccer player who coaches a rag-tag bunch of kids from remote East Timor to sporting glory, even though they can’t afford the price of a pair of athletic shoes.... more



Bibliothèque Pascal   

Bibliothèque Pascal
Hungary, 2010, 111 min.
The work of an imaginative filmmaker with ambition and chutzpah, Bibliothèque Pascal is a dark sex-trafficking fairy tale from Central Europe with Terry Gilliam-esque touches. Please note: this film contains disturbing scenes of sex and violence. Winner, CineEuropa Prize; Grand Prix, Hungarian Film ... more



The Border   

The Border
Slovakia, 2009, 72 min.
On August 30, 1946, the Soviet army divided the eastern European village of Slemence into two parts. One part remained in Slovakia while the other part became Ukrainian property. This fascinating documentary shows how political decisions made on paper can have disastrous consequences on the ground. ... more



Carancho   

Carancho
Argentina, 2010, 107 min.
With crisp, tight editing, this lean and suspenseful thriller featuring Ricardo Darin (The Secret In Their Eyes) takes us through accident sites, hospital wards, and seedy interior settings that would be perfectly in place in a Hollywood noir. Carancho is the latest example of director Trapero’s tra... more



Cirkus Columbia   

Cirkus Columbia
Bosnia-Herzegovina, 2010, 113 min.
Oscar-winner Tanovic here revisits the milieu of his first film, No Man's Land, using the absurdist tale of a man returning to his native Herzegovinian village in 1991 to illustrate the beginnings of the bloody internecine strife in Bosnia. Winner, Audience Award, Sarajevo Film Festival.... more



Confessions   

Confessions
Japan, 2010, 107 min.
A mystery-cum-revenge thriller that is both psychologically and viscerally confrontational, Nakashima’s haunting film focuses on a schoolteacher who unleashes a series of vengeful actions after discovering that her deceased toddler was actually murdered by two of her 13-year-old students… Not for th... more



Eastern Plays   

Eastern Plays
Bulgaria, 2009, 88 min.
Sharply written, honest, and very timely, this story about two existentially lost brothers and the different paths they take in modern Sofia amidst the unemployment and the rising tide of xenophobic nationalism still sees hope for the future. Winner, Best Film, Sofia, Tokyo, Warsaw Film Festivals.... more



The Edge   

The Edge
Russia, 2010, 119 min.
The arrival of a decorated war hero takes a Siberian gulag by storm in this spectacular thriller. After assuming control of the camp’s steam engine, he investigates rumors of an abandoned engine on a nearby island and discovers a rusted beauty and a feral German girl with a railway obsession. ... more



Even the Rain   

Even the Rain
Spain, 2010, 104 min.
An idealistic young director has to move production of his period piece to Bolivia so as to save on labor costs. There he encounters a population in civic upheaval. This powerful and layered film lays bare the hypocrisies of a post-colonial world where injustices to the dispossessed continue uncheck... more



The First Beautiful Thing   

The First Beautiful Thing
Italy, 2010, 120 min.
A family comedy with strong emotions but free of sentimentalism. Bruno returns to his rural hometown to visit his dying mother with whom he has a love/hate relationship because of her unconventional behavior. Winner, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Donatello Awards.... more



Hermano   

Hermano
Venezuela, 2010, 96 min.
Two brothers who grew up playing soccer in a dirt field of their Caracas barrio think their dreams are about to come true when a scout lets them try out with the local team.... more



Honey   

Honey
Turkey, 2009, 108 min.
The third part of the director’s reverse-order trilogy, Honey depicts his partly autobiographical hero Yusuf as a six-year-old child growing up as an only child in the heavily wooded mountains of Rize province, northeast Turkey. Winner, Best Film, Berlin Film Festival.... more



The Human Resources Manager   

The Human Resources Manager
Israel, 2010, 103 min.
A quirky road movie that moves from sun-baked Israel to the snow-covered landscapes of Romania. Winner, five Israeli Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director; Audience Award, Locarno Film Festival... more



If I want to Whistle, I Whistle   

If I want to Whistle, I Whistle
Romania, 2010, 94 min.
An 18-year-old about to be released from a juvenile detention center is pushed over the edge when his deadbeat mom reappears with plans to take his beloved younger brother to Italy. Winner, Silver Bear, Berlin Film Festival; Best Romanian Film, Transylvania Film Festival.... more



Illegal   

Illegal
Belgium, 2010, 95 min.
Tania, a former French teacher from Russia working as an off-the-books cleaner in Belgium, is stopped for a routine check by the police, then arrested and detained. Her constant fear of deportation and heartless treatment epitomize the difficulties illegal immigrants face in Western democracies.... more



Kawasaki’s Rose   

Kawasaki’s Rose
Czech Republic, 2010, 100 min.
From the director of Divided We Fall, another masterfully balanced comedic drama about the hard choices faced by Czech citizens during a time of historic duress. When a respected university professor, known for his youthful anti-communist stance is selected for a prestigious award, his past comes in... more



The Life of Fish   

The Life of Fish
Chile, 2010, 83 min.
Andre returns to his hometown to face a past he fled years ago. He tries to reconnect with old friends but an old wound continues to haunt him. By acknowledging past mistakes can a person reclaim the one who got away?... more



Life, Above All   

Life, Above All
South Africa, 2010, 106 min.
Featuring a completely winning central performance from the young Khomotso Manyaka as an intelligent and willful girl coming of age in South Africa during the AIDS epidemic, Oliver Schmitz’s powerful drama offers a message of hope for that beleaguered nation.... more



The Light Thief   

The Light Thief
Kyrgyzstan, 2010, 80 min.
A warm, gentle comedy about an electrician in the remote Kyrgyz mountains who both helps his neighbors borrow electricity and serves as the town psychologist. A mix of poetry, naiveté and documentary that works thanks to the director/actor's profound humanity.... more



The Little Room   

The Little Room
Switzerland, 2010, 87 min.
Cantankerous widower Edmond’s heart is not very robust. But it beats to the rhythm of a fierce independence, which makes him reject the idea of going into a retirement home and the ministrations of a home health care aide. But one day, a bad fall changes things.... more



Lula, The Son of Brazil   

Lula, The Son of Brazil
Brazil, 2009, 128 min.
Based on the novel of the same name written by Denise Parana, this portrait of Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva's early years, chronicles his family's immigration from Northeast Brazil to Sao Paulo, his years as a shoe-shine boy and his brother's arrest which drove him into trade union activism.... more



Monga   

Monga
Taiwan, 2010, 140 min.
A box-office hit and Taiwanese twist on the epic gangster film, Monga depicts the troubled lives of five boys coming of age in the 1980s. When a new recruit is invited join a gang, he discovers an irresistible world of friendship and brotherhood until outside forces threaten their turf.... more



Noy   

Noy
Philippines, 2010, 104 min.
Forced to find a job to support his family, Noy (Coco Martin) fakes his credentials and is commissioned to make a documentary on the 2010 electoral campaign of his namesake, Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III--the top contender for the presidential elections.... more



Nuummioq   

Nuummioq
2009, 95 min.
The first locally produced feature from Greenland is an engaging and accomplished road movie, featuring stunning vistas and fine acting, that follows two men—a Dane dying from cancer and his Inuit cousin—as they journey to a remote region and uncover secrets from their families’ pasts.... more



Of Gods and Men   

Of Gods and Men
France, 2010, 120 min.
Rising fundamentalist violence in Algeria forces a band of French monks to decide whether to flee or remain at the monastery where they have been for many years. A compassionate plea for understanding between cultures in a violent world. Winner, Jury Prize, Cannes Film Festival.... more



Of Love and Other Demons   

Of Love and Other Demons
Costa Rica, 2009, 97 min.
Masterful cinematography and a powerful script draw us into this tale of passion between a young noblewoman and a passionate priest bound by the confines of social mores and the smothering restraints of the Spanish inquisition. Based on Gabriel García Márquez’s novel.... more



Peepli Live   

Peepli Live
India, 2010, 106 min.
Faced with financial ruin, poor farmer Natha learns of a program that would benefit his family if he commits suicide. A media frenzy breaks out when news gets around that he is seriously considering this desperate option in this Capra-esque, Indian style comedy. A biting satire from Aamir Khan Produ... more



Simple Simon   

Simple Simon
Sweden, 2010, 82 min.
A colorful comedy reminiscent of art house favorite Elling. Eighteen-year-old Simon has Asperger’s syndrome. He likes space, science and circles but can‘t understand feelings. When his brother breaks up with his girlfriend, Simon develops a scientifically perfect plan for finding a new one.... more



Solemn Promise   

Solemn Promise
Serbia, 2010, 108 min.
When a Serbian school principal is called away to serve in the First World War, his Albanian servant swears a solemn oath to protect the master’s pretty, young Slovenian wife. Their ensuing relationship provides a paradigm of the profound ethnic and class divisions of early 20th century Europe.... more



Son of Babylon   

Son of Babylon
Iraq, 2010, 91 min.
In the chaotic aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein, a young Kurdish boy and his grandmother set out in search of his father, arrested and missing since the Gulf War. Against the backdrop of the U.S. occupation, they make their way through a country in ruins, from prison to mosque to mass grave. ... more



Steam of Life   

Steam of Life
Finland, 2010, 84 min.
A grizzly bear peers in a window, a farmer steams in an abandoned telephone booth, and men of all backgrounds, shapes and sizes bare their hearts, souls and bodies in saunas throughout Finland in this moving documentary that redefines masculinity.... more



Street Days   

Street Days
Georgia, 2010, 86 min.
This gritty drama, as artful as it is down-and-dirty, shows us contemporary Tbilisi through the eyes of a struggling junkie, and manages to offer a compelling picture of a place where everything, including one’s soul, is for sale. Winner, Best Film, Wiesbaden Go East Film Festival. ... more



Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives   

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Thailand, 2010, 114 min.
Be adventurous and experience this prize-winning film's beguiling Buddhist rhythms, mythical underpinnings and mesmeric images that include animism, apparitions, out-of-body experiences, and a beautiful princess having sex with a catfish. Winner, Golden Palm, Cannes Film Festival. ... more



Undertow   

Undertow
Peru, 2009, 110 min.
This bisexual triangle set in a Peruvian fishing village combines elements of magic realism with a beautifully realized romance. It follows the hidden love of a married coastal fisherman for an urbane (male) photographer. Winner, Audience Award, World Cinema, Sundance Film Festival.... more



When We Leave   

When We Leave
Germany, 2009, 119 min.
When a young Turkish-German woman can no longer stand her husband's ill treatment, she flees from Istanbul with her five-year-old son to her family in Berlin. But their love, affection, and loyalty soon become irrelevant as they struggle to reconcile her willful self-determination with the tradition... more



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