Film series: Contemporary World Cinema

image from the animated film INU-OH
image: INU-OH

This fall Cornell Cinema has organized another exciting Contemporary World Cinema series featuring films from some of the globe’s most important festivals. Check out this impressive lineup and the diverse range of genres of this year’s selections. 

Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s latest film Memoria stars Academy Award winning actress Tilda Swinton. Swinton’s character, Jessica Howard travels from Scotland to Colombia to visit her sister. During the journey her life is interrupted by a loud mysterious bang which open her to strange encounters between sight and sound in the South American jungle. Weerasethakul’s film creates an unsettling cinematic experience by experimenting with the relationships between noise, image, and space. Memoria explores the darkened interiors of Colombia’s landscape where the remnants of an unresolved past resonate sonically in archeological labs, modern construction sites, and rural waterways. The LA Times calls Memoria “one of the greatest movies you will see —or hear—in the theater this year.” 

Payal Kapadia’s A Night of Knowing Nothing (Noite Incerta) is part documentary, part ode to cinema and analog archives; the film covers the life of film students in India under the rule of rightwing prime minister Nerendra Modi. Political unrest registers in the fictional letters between two estranged lovers. High contrast black and white footage of youthful bodies dancing joyfully appears alongside images of student protestors forming a new political body in the streets of contemporary India.

From Swiss directors, Ramon Zürcher and Silvan Zürcher comes The Girl and The Spider (Switzerland), a tragicomedy tracing tensions of a life in transition. Featured in the New York Film Festival, The Girl and The Spider depicts the real, but bottled-up emotions of human relationships during moments of change. Moving to a new apartment stirs up strong feelings between friends, family, lovers, and neighbors in the subdued representation of quotidian life.  

Acclaimed French director Claire Denis’ latest film, Both Sides of the Blade is an erotic drama about a long-time relationship that is interrupted by the return of a past lover. Julitte Binoche and Vincent Lindon, play a middle-aged couple whose relationship is slowly unwoven by the reappearance of Binoche’s ex. Denis looks at the complexities of human desire through contrasting lenses— the rose-colored hues of romantic love against a steely gaze toward the external circumstances that weigh upon relationships. Both Sides of the Blade was the Winner of Best Director at the 72nd Berlin Film Biennale. 

Il Buco (The Hole), by Italian director Michelangelo Frammartino (known for Le Quattro Volte) descends into the depths of Calabrian cave systems. Set in the 1960s, Il Buco is based on a true story and follows the expeditions of the first speleologists to study the 2300 feet deep caverns. Xan Brooks from The Guardian calls Farmmartino’s work a cinematic “spell” which mesmerizes the viewer and unearths the temporal relations between the human and the geological.  

Murina directed by Crotian filmmaker Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic and executive-produced by Martin Scorsese, is a drama about a family whose relationship is on the rocks. Set in the azure waters of the Adriatic Sea, Murina tells the story of Julija, a teenage girl who scorns her overbearing father by seeking the attention of an older family friend. 

Inu-Oh is an animated fantasy musical film by Masaaki Yussa. Set in the 14th century a disfigured theater performer, Inu-Oh, and blind musician Tomona form an instant friendship and use their talents to narrate the intensity of past historical battles through their lively musical performances. 

Neptune Frost is an Afrofuturist vision from Anisia Uzeyman and Saul Williams. Set in the e-waste dumps and jungles of Rwanda, Neptune Frost explores the plight of laborers exploited by companies and resource extraction practices. Mubi calls the musical a “cyber nightmare” that “flaunts all its exuberance and onerism with shameless swagger.”  

Related films

Scene from the film Il Buco

Il Buco


Scene from the film The Girl and the Spider

The Girl and the Spider


Scene from the film Neptune Frost

Neptune Frost


Scene from the film Inu-Oh



Scene from the film Murina



Scene from the film A Night of Knowing Nothing

A Night of Knowing Nothing


image from the film MEMORIA



Scene from the film RRR



Scene from the film Both Sides of the Blade

Both Sides of the Blade