Film series: Contemporary World Cinema

Student working on film projector

image from House of Hummingbird

Cornell Cinema regularly premieres new international films from the festival circuit that otherwise wouldn’t screen in Ithaca, and this Fall is no exception, with films from Algeria, Chile, France, Japan, Korea, Peru, and the United Kingdom. Most of the films are from emerging talents, and you can expect to see their names again, especially after these strong films!

France’s most promising up-and-coming directors are all gathered together in New French Shorts 2020, featuring seven short films running the gamut from animation to romance to absurdist comedy. In the Algerian film Papicha (Algerian slang for a cool girl), Nedjma, a free spirited 18 year-old student in 90s Algeria’s Civil War, refuses to be intimidated by growing conservative religious forces and stages her resistance by putting on a fashion show. The young girl at the center of House of Hummingbird, however, sets out to find a taste of sweetness wherever she can find it roaming the neighborhood with her best friend in this “beautifully raw, queer, and partially autobiographical coming-of-age story." (The Mary Sue)

Belgian filmmaker Bas Devos’ third feature, Ghost Tropic, focuses entirely on a 58-year-old Muslim immigrant in Brussels, who falls asleep on the last train home and must now walk back on foot across the city. This is the simple set-up for “a delicate miniature that’s magnificently humanist, occasionally amusing and shot in a palette of rich, saturated nighttime hues.” (The Hollywood Reporter) And how can you say no to a gothic lesbian vampire drama? With Carmilla, a 19th Century family discovers they too cannot say no to the eponymous young woman who arrives at their British estate to convalesce after a carriage accident.

Photographed to appear as one continuous shot, Chile’s The Wolf House follows a young woman who has escaped from a sect of expatriate German religious fanatics. Inspired by an actual Chilean Nazi sect, this dark tale “fuses Grimm, the early shorts of David Lynch and the stop-motion work of Jan Švankmajer into a visually engrossing, reference-rich and disturbing tale.” (The Hollywood Reporter) Next door in Peru, another dark tale emerges with Song Without a Name. Based on harrowing true events, an indigenous Andean woman’s newborn baby is stolen from her at a downtown Lima medical clinic and never returned in a “Kafkaesque thriller” (The Hollywood Reporter) that unflinchingly depicts real-life tragedies with poetic beauty.

Finally, We Are Little Zombies tells the tale of four emotionless Japanese orphans who form a rock band in “a rainbow-colored scream into the Abyss.” (Vulture)

Related films

image from the film House of Hummingbird

House of Hummingbird


image from the film Ghost Tropic

Ghost Tropic


image from the film Carmilla



image from the film We are Little Zombies

We are Little Zombies


image from the film The Wolf House

The Wolf House


image from the film Song Without a Name

Song Without a Name


image from the film Papicha