Dogs

Roman returns to the land near the Ukrainian border he has just inherited from his grandfather. Fully decided to sell this vast but desolate property, he is warned by the local cop that his grandfather was a local crime lord and his men will not let go of the land – and their smuggling business – without a fight.

Toni Erdmann

Practical joker Winfried disguises himself as flashy “Toni Erdmann” to get busy Ines’ attention and change her corporate lifestyle. The father-daughter challenge reaches absurd proportions until Ines begins to see that her eccentric father deserves a place in her life… [Synopsis courtesy of Cannes Film Festival]

Graduation (Bacalaureat)

Romeo Aldea, a physician living in a small mountain town in Transylvania, has raised his daughter Eliza with the idea that once she turns 18, she will leave to study and live abroad. His plan is close to succeeding. Eliza has won a scholarship to study psychology in the UK. She just has to pass her final exams – a formality for such a good student. On the day before her first written exam, Eliza is assaulted in an attack that could jeopardize her entire future. Now Romeo has to make a decision. There are ways of solving the situation, but none of them using the principles he, as a father, has taught his daughter.

4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days

Gabita is pregnant, abortion is strictly forbidden in Romania during the communist regime. Despite this it is common practice and Gabita wants an abortion. The movie follows her and her friend Otilia during the day she has made the appointment with Mr. Bebe to have the abortion.

Crulic: The Path to Beyond

When Claudiu Crulic, a young Romanian in Poland, was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, he became a pawn in a Kafkaesque miscarriage of justice and went on a hunger strike to protest his treatment in jail. Anca Damian’s documentary is by turns chilling and heartbreaking — Crulic himself “narrates” the film posthumously, his words voiced by Vlad Ivanov, star of such Romanian New Wave titles as Police, Adjective and 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days—but also ironic, with a bit of black humor thrown in. What makes this extraordinary documentary even more compelling is its strong visual style: Damian uses handdrawn, cutout, and collage animation techniques to create a strikingly memorable film. [Synopsis courtesy of New Directors/New Films]

Police, Adjective

A cop named Cristi must go undercover to trail teen Victor who is suspected of selling pot in the north-eastern city of Vasliu.

Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose is a contemporary drama focusing on the relationship between a mother and her 32-year-old son. After the accidental killing of a boy in a car crash, the mother tries to prevent her son being charged for the death, and she refuses to accept that her son is a grown-up man.

Tales from the Golden Age

Tales from the Golden Age is composed of 5 unconventional short stories, each one dealing with the late communist period in Romania, told through its urban myths from the perspective of ordinary people. The title of the film refers to the alluded “Golden Age” of the last 15 years of Ceauşescu’s regime.

My Joy (Schastye Moye)

A disturbingly outlandish fable that offers a harsh depiction of Russia’s rural hinterland, “My Joy” was the only debut feature to screen in competition at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it was a favorite of many film critics. Like a horror movie directed by Alain Resnais, Sergei Loznitsa’s narrative feature brims with unsavoury characters scrambling for survival in a remote Russian underworld.

While traveling through a region rife with reminders of Russia’s dark history, kind-hearted truck driver Georgy (Viktor Nemets) turns onto a dirt road to bypass a car crash – and to heed a warning that his original route is haunted. As a motley crew of lost souls and vagabonds cross his path – an elderly hitchhiker, a frighteningly young prostitute, a couple of not-so-stoic soldiers – “My Joy”’s startling narrative moves into increasingly bizarre territory.

Loznitsa draws from a pool of provincial anecdotes he collected over 13 years of documentary filmmaking (another quality he shares with Resnais, who also began as a documentarian), conjuring an unsettling vision of small-time Russia. However, it is not this director’s mischievous script that packs the greatest punch; it is his flair for the unexpected, his willingness to take the story in unconventional directions. This is buoyed by his ability to tie numerous narrative strands together, while always leaving them just a little, tantalizingly, loose.

Renowned cinematographer Oleg Mutu (who also shot the Festival favorites “The Death of Mister Lazarescu” and “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”) works with a grimly beautiful palette of black and blue. Don’t let the title fool you. “My Joy” is a dark descent into a world where thieves abound and impunity reigns. [Synopsis courtesy of Dimitri Eipides/Toronto International Film Festival]