2014 International Film Festival
A note from the curator of the 2014 Trenton International Film Festival
For all the doom and gloom you often hear about the state of moviemaking in the 21st century, with blockbusters dominating US screens and American independent films too often only a step away from the mainstream, surveying the best of international cinema is virtually guaranteed to renew your faith in the art form. There’s no shortage of truly great films being made all over the map, movies that show extraordinary craft and inventiveness, and a deep engagement with the world.
My goal was to put together a selection of contemporary foreign films that’s as wide-ranging stylistically and tonally as it is geographically (with films hailing from Western and Eastern Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East). The lineup features searing dramas, deadpan comedies, and musicals both fictional and documentary, with a cast of characters including teenage Swedish punks, Angolan death metal musicians, Palestinian refugees, and dazed and confused Korean high-school graduates, among many others.
At a glance, the selection is probably most notable for its diversity. But despite their differences in tone and genre, almost all the films have in common a deep grasp of how challenging it can be to make a life in a world full of conflict and misunderstanding, balanced by a genuine faith in people’s resilience, energy, and capacity for hope. None of the protagonists of these films (whether fictional or non-fictional) have it easy, but their vitality, creativity, and humanity (all also qualities of the films themselves) are something to behold.