The Burning Season – interweaving different stories to demonstrate the complexities of climate change – and the people doing their little parts to create a big change.
Yes Madam, Sir – Meet Kiran Bedi, India’s first elite policewoman, renowned for facing down three thousand sword-wielding Punjabi rioters armed only with a wooden baton.
The Cove – causing lots of Oscar buzz is this thrilling doco about activists busting the Dolphin trade.
Burma VJ – follows a group of underground Burmese video journalists, risking their lives by secretly documenting the uprising in 2007, when foreign press were expelled.
Food Inc – Experts, including author Eric Schlosser, reveal the shocking secrets behind the plump chicken, the perfect tomato and the un-killable crop. Warning: grocery shopping will never feel the same again.
Cold Souls – Paul Giamatti is…Paul Giamatti, an actor having a mid-life, Chekov-induced breakdown. Seeking a solution, he has his soul removed for cold storage, and discovers it’s a chickpea. Kaufmanesque.
In The Loop – James Gandolfini stars in this bitey satire of politics as a sport for ego-maniacal incompetent back-stabbing lunatics – and the Iraq invasion as a dangerous farce. Starring James Gandolfini. If you like your politicians skewered.
Zift – Bulgarian film noir meets Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
The Missing Person – Raymond Chandler meets post-9-11 New York.
Pontypool – a deadly virus infects a small town. Canadian indie film veteran Bruce McDonald turns the zombie genre on its head.
Paranormal Activity – the Blair Witch of the Haunted House genre, terrifying as much for what it does not reveal, as what it does.
GEMS TO UNCOVER
Parque Via – In this Mexican sleeper, an aging housekeeper with a taste for hookers is faced with eviction when the rich landlady decides to sell. It’s great filmmaking, although understated, and with an ending that pays off very unexpectedly.
Goodbye Solo – an old man tired of life, and an irrepressibly cheerful Senegalese immigrant connect unexpectedly in a taxi on the roads of North Carolina.
Tony Manero – politics and disco fever combine in the most surreal – and sinister! – way in this Argentian allegory, about a troubled man with a Saturday Night Fever obsession.
Dead Snow – in this ice-bound Norwegian splatterfest, defrosted and re-animated Nazi-zombies serve up guts galore.
Van Diemen’s Land – Alexander Pierce was a Tasmanian convict who ate people. Need we say more? Well it also got big thumbs up – and shudders – at the Adelaide Film Festival.
Everlasting Moments – the critics have universally raved about this exquisite film from Swedish master Jan Troell, about a woman trapped in an abusive marriage, in a difficult historical context, who finds release through the gift of a camera, and the man who gave it.
500 Days of Summer – postmodern RomCom about a guy who falls for a girl who does not believe in True Love. See if for Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, in awkward young love.
SONG & DANCE
It Might Get Loud – Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White: as the three jam, it’s not just about the music – it’s the attitude.
Every Little Step – Entertaining but also poignant footage from the castings and rehearsals of the 2006 revival of Broadway classic A Chorus Line, intercut with the original castings in 1974.
Soul Power – Never-before-seen footage from the Zaire 1974 concert featuring soul legends from Sister Sledge to James Brown & BB King.
Breathless – this in-your-face debut film was the most-talked about discovery at Pusan Film Festival, the home of Asian talent.
Still Walking – From the director of Nobody Knows, comes this take on the “awkward family Christmas” genre.
Treeless Mountain – reminiscent of Nobody Knows, this poignant tale of abandonment from a child’s perspective is outstanding cinema.
The September Issue – Crawl inside Anna Wintour’s perfectly coiffed head in this revealing documentary about Vogue’s biggest issue, the annual September issue. A must for any fashionista!
Valentino: The Last Emperor – A compelling look at one of the worlds most skilled and revered haute-couturiers as he breaks away from the label that made him famous for 45 years.