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2019 in cinemas

Atlantic (2019)
Mati Diop
Senegal
105′
Along the Atlantic coast, a soon-to-be-inaugurated futuristic tower looms over a suburb of Dakar. Ada, 17, is in love with Souleiman, a young construction worker. But she has been promised to another man. One night, Souleiman and his co-workers leave the country by sea, in hope of a better future. Several days later, a fire ruins Ada’s wedding and a mysterious fever starts to spread. Little does Ada know that Souleiman has returned.
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Ash is purest white (2018)
Zhangke Jia
China
136′
Young dancer Qiao falls for powerful mob boss Bin. After protecting him during a rival gang’s ambush, she ends up in prison. Upon release, some five years later, she seeks out Bin to restart their old life. But is that still possible? Their violent relationship develops from 2001 to 2017, which allows director Jia Zhangke to chronicle contemporary China – from mining ghost towns to entire villages sacrificed for new dams.
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So Long, My Son (2019)
Xiaoshuai Wang
China
185′
‘We’re waiting to grow old’. This sentence briefly sums up Yaoyun and his wife Liyun’s bitter realisation about their lives. They were once a happy family – until their son drowned playing by a reservoir. And so Yaojun and Liyun leave their home and plunge into the big city, although nobody knows them there and they cannot even understand the local dialect. Their adopted son Liu Xing does not offer them the comfort they had hoped for either. Defiantly rejecting his ‘foreign’ parents, he one day disappears altogether. The married couple are repeatedly enmeshed in their memories. Finally, they decide to return to the site of their lost hopes. In this family saga spanning three decades of Chinese history, the private and the political merge and the individual gets caught up in the gears of a society in the throes of constant change. Part melodrama, part critique of the times, this film takes us from the country’s upheaval in the 1980s following the Cultural Revolution to the prospering turbo-capitalism of the present day. Told in sweeping tableaux, it makes visible the deep scars that lie beneath the surface of an ostensibly unbroken success story.
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Photograph (2018)
Ritesh Batra
India
108′
A struggling street photographer, pressured to marry by his grandmother, convinces a shy stranger to pose as his fiancée. Against their own expectations, the contrary pair develops a deep connection that transforms each of them in ways they never expected.
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The Song of Mary Blane (2019)
Bruno Moll
Switzerland
86′
The painter from Solothurn (CH) Frank Buchser was sent to the USA in 1866 to paint a large painting of the "Heroes of the Civil War" for the future Council of States Hall in Bern. Initially Buchser was busy portraying politicians and generals in the spirit of his clients. More and more, however, he became interested in the Indians expelled to the reservations and in the living conditions of the slaves who had just been freed. Years earlier, fascinated by Moorish culture, Frank Buchser rides disguised as a Turkish sheikh to the Moroccan town of Fez, which is forbidden to Christians under death penalty. The Swiss filmmaker Bruno Moll (Pizza Bethlehem, Tunisreise) tells the two adventurous journeys of the rebellious and controversial artist. The film narrative begins with film documents of the riots in Charlottesville in August 2017 and the diary entries made by Frank Buchser in 1869, when General Lee was his model for the portrait. In a large flashback the film tells Buchser's story of his stay in Andalusia and Morocco in 1858, returns with him to his homeland and closes with his North American adventure.
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Nuestro Tiempo (2018)
Carlos Reygadas
Mexico
177′
Set in a traditional world of bullfighting ranches in the Mexican state of Tlaxcala, Our Time tells the story of Juan and Ester, who have an open relationship, and the problems that arise when Ester falls in love with another man and Juan struggles to meet the expectations he has of himself.
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Los silencios (2018)
Beatriz Seigner
Brazil
90′
Nuria, 12, Fabio, 9, and their mother Amparo arrive in a small island in the middle of Amazonia, at the border of Brazil, Colombia and Peru. They ran away from the Colombian armed conflict in which their father disappeared. One day, he reappears in their new house. The family is haunted by this strange secret and discovers the island is peopled with ghosts.
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Compañeros - La noche de 12 años (2018)
Álvaro Brechner
Uruguay
117′
1973. Uruguay is governed by a military dictatorship. One autumn night, three Tupamaro prisoners are taken from their jail cells in a secret military operation. The order is precise: "As we can’t kill them, let’s drive them mad." The three men will remain in solitary confinement for twelve years. Among them is Pepe Mujica - later to become president of Uruguay.
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Ramen Shop (2018)
Eric Khoo
Singapore
90′
Masato, a young ramen chef, leaves his hometown in Japan to embark on a culinary journey to Singapore to find out the truth about his past. He uncovers a lot more than family secrets and delicious recipes.
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Rojo (2018)
Benjamín Naishtat
Argentina
105′
Argentina in 1975: While a wave of political violence is overrunning the country, lawyer Claudio Mora keeps his usual pace - until one evening in a restaurant he gets into an argument with a strange man with dramatic consequences. The next day Mora has almost forgotten the incident. But then a private detective appears and begins to ask uneasy questions.
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Familia sumergida (2018)
María Alché
Argentina
91′
Marcela’s world becomes strange and unfamiliar after her sister Rina dies. She feels lost in her own house, and her relationship with her husband and children seems to suffer. But when Nacho, a young friend of her daughter’s, unexpectedly drops by, she starts to talk and walk with him. Gradually Marcela begins to have conversations with relatives from another dimension.
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The Load (2018)
Ognjen Glavonić
Serbia
98′
Vlada works as a truck driver during the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999. Tasked with transporting a mysterious load from Kosovo to Belgrade, he drives through unfamiliar territory, surrounded by the consequences of the war. When his job is over, Vlada needs to return home and face the consequences of his actions.
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God Exists, Her Name Is Petrunya (2019)
Teona Strugar Mitevska
North Macedonia
100′
Tell them you’re 24’, advises Petrunya’s mother as her daughter heads off to another interview. But Petrunya is 31; moreover, she has studied history, a subject that no one in Macedonia seems to need. So there she sits in front of her potential employer, a factory owner, who looks down on her floral dress and refuses to take her seriously. On her way home - naturally, she did not get the job - Petrunya decides to take the plunge. It is Epiphany and, like every year, the young men of the city are diving for the holy cross that the priest has thrown into the icy river. This time, Petrunya is quicker than everyone else and ends up holding the trophy aloft for the TV cameras. For one whole day and one night, she will defend the cross, accompanied by much public commotion and against the closed ranks of the male world. Teona Strugar Mitevska delivers an angry yet melancholic satire that questions the status of democratic change in Macedonian society and passes scathing judgement on representatives of the church, the judiciary and the media. The film’s sympathies are all with the determined woman who asserts herself against archaic traditions and paralysing opportunism.
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The Wild Pear Tree (2018)
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Turkey
188′
Sinan is passionate about literature and has always wanted to be a writer. Returning to the village where he was born, he pours his heart and soul into scraping together the money he needs to be published, but his father’s debts catch up with him.
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Santiago, Italia (2018)
Nanni Moretti
Italy
80′
Nanni Moretti's new film covers the months that followed the coup d'état in Chile on 11 September 1973, which overthrew the democratic government of Salvador Allende. The film focuses on the role of the Italian embassy in Santiago de Chile, which became a refuge from General Pinochet's regime for hundreds of opposition members. From here, many opponents of the regime were able to flee to Italy.
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Shoplifters (2018)
Hirokazu KORE-EDA
Japan
116′
After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces. Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them.
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Supa Modo (2018)
Likarion Wainaina
Kenya
74′
Jo, a witty 9-year old terminally ill girl is taken back to her rural village to live out the rest of her short life. Her only comfort during these dull times are her dreams of being a Superhero, which prove to be something her rebellious teenage sister Mwix, overprotective mother Kathryn and the entire village of Maweni think they can fulfill.
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Capharnaüm (2018)
Nadine Labaki
Lebanon
126′
In Lebanon, many parents can simply not afford to have their children officially registered. As a result, these undocumented kids do not exist in the eyes of the state and have no rights. That is the fate of young Zain. But Zain is a fighter: even at his young age, he is already supporting his family with various odd jobs. When Zain's parents plan to marry off his eleven-year-old sister Sahar, Zain does everything in his power to stop them.
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Rafiki (2018)
Wanuri Kahiu
Kenya
82′
"Good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives," but Kena and Ziki long for something more. Despite the political rivalry between their families, the girls resist and remain close friends, supporting each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society. When love blossoms between them, the two girls will be forced to choose between happiness and safety.
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Supa Modo (German version) (2018)
Likarion Wainaina
Kenya
71′
Jo, a witty 9-year old terminally ill girl is taken back to her rural village to live out the rest of her short life. Her only comfort during these dull times are her dreams of being a Superhero, which prove to be something her rebellious teenage sister Mwix, overprotective mother Kathryn and the entire village of Maweni think they can fulfill.
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Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019)
Céline Sciamma
France
121′
On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman. An intense relationship develops between the two.
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Where We Belong (2019)
Jacqueline Zünd
Switzerland
78′
Parents split up, a family falls apart. Two separate worlds emerge from what once was considered a unity. In constant transition, children now live between two homes. WHERE WE BELONG approaches their reality and focuses on how fragile children are, but also how brave, smart and funny they respond to their situation.
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Baghdad in My Shadow (2019)
Samir Jamal Aldin
Switzerland
104′
A failed author, a wife in hiding, a clandestine gay IT-specialist meet in an Iraqi café in London. Incited by a radical Sheik, the author's nephew attacks them and turns their lives upside down.
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La paranza dei bambini (2019)
Claudio Giovannesi
Italy
111′
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Les hirondelles de Kaboul (2019)
Zabou Breitman
Afghanistan
81′
Summer 1998 - Kabul under Taliban rule. Zunaira and Mohsen are young and in love. Despite the daily violence and misery, they hope for a better future. One day, a foolish gesture causes life to take an irrevocable turn.
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Ask Dr. Ruth (French Version) (2019)
Ryan White
United States
100′
A documentary portrait chronicling the incredible life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who became America's most famous sex therapist. As her 90th birthday approaches, Dr. Ruth revisits her painful past and her career at the forefront of the sexual revolution.
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Architektur der Unendlichkeit (2018)
Christoph Schaub
Switzerland
85′
Temporality and age are inherent in every object and creature and, depending on one’s outlook, may transcend to infinity. Schaub explores, together with the architects Peter Zumthor, Peter Märkli and Alvaro Siza Vieira, the artists James Turrell and Cristina Iglesias and drummer virtuoso Jojo Mayer, the magic of sacred spaces, defined here as far more than church buildings. Who owns spirituality?
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Asako I & II (2018)
Ryusuke Hamaguchi
Japan
120′
College student Asako falls in love at first sight with Baku after meeting at a photography exhibit. Romance sparks between the two but doesn't last long when Baku suddenly disappears from her life. Two years later, she spots a man that bears a striking resemblance to him. Even though it is only his physical similarities to Baku that attracted her to him, she doesn't say so and starts dating the soft-spoken young man called Ryohei.
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L' Apollon de Gaza (2018)
Nicolas Wadimoff
Switzerland
79′
In 2013, an ancient statue of Apollo, the god of arts, beauty and divinations, is found off the coast of Gaza. When it disappears under strange circumstances, rumors quickly spread regarding this mysterious treasure. Both an investigative film and a reflection on history, The Apollo of Gaza immerses us in the little-known reality of a land ravaged by wars and blockades.
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Il mangiatore di pietre (2018)
Nicola Bellucci
Italy
104′
Cesare, a former human trafficker, finds the corpse of his nephew Fausto a remote Piedmont valley. In search of the murderer, he himself is suspected. He is also pressured by a young, rebellious villager: Sergio, who wants to escape from the valley and his father, wants to bring refugees abandoned on an alp across the border. In order to help the boy and the refugees, Cesare confronts his fate…
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Mid90s (2018)
Jonah Hill
United States
85′
Stevie is a sweet 13-year-old about to explode. His mom is loving and attentive, but a little too forthcoming about her romantic life. His big brother is a taciturn and violent bully. So Stevie searches his working-class Los Angeles suburb for somewhere to belong. He finds it at the Motor Avenue skate shop.
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Cronofobia (2018)
Francesco Rizzi
Switzerland
90′
Suter is a lonely guy, constantly in motion, escaping his true self. During the day, he travels through Switzerland, creating new identities and incognito evaluating the quality of customer service in shops and hotel rooms, while at night, he secretly observes the life of another lonely person: Anna, a rebel struggling with complicated grief. But this fragile balance is soon destroyed, when Anna finds out about Suter’s dark secret.
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Mon Tissu Préféré (2018)
Gaya Jiji
Syria
92′
Damascus, Spring 2011. It's the early stages of the civil war. 25-year-old Nahla is torn between her desire for freedom and the hope of leaving the country thanks to her arranged marriage with Samir, a Syrian expatriate in the USA. When he chooses her younger, more docile sister Myriam, Nahla finds refuge at her neighbor's, the mysterious Ms Jiji.
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Spuren und Geschichten (2018)
Francis Reusser
Switzerland
73′
An essay on the tale of a filmmaking everyman. A personal story and a brief history of image, spanning from 1947 to 2017, told through his favourite movies, some of which are little known. Life and art, intertwined. From the freedom to create to the consumer society that devastates dreams just as Coca-Cola dissolves bones.
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Ask Dr. Ruth (2019)
Ryan White
United States
99′
A documentary portrait chronicling the incredible life of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, a Holocaust survivor who became America's most famous sex therapist. As her 90th birthday approaches, Dr. Ruth revisits her painful past and her career at the forefront of the sexual revolution.
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