Here at One Room With A View we’ve been lucky enough to catch some of the best films being made before they hit cinema screens across the UK. But sometimes these festival gems struggle to find distribution, despite their greatness. Here are ten of the best festival films we saw in 2014 that are yet to get a theatrical release.
10. Hits (Sundance and Sundance London)
Hits deals with topics so cutting-edge it’s a shame that over a year has passed since it was first screened at Sundance. Skewering the twin evils of hipsters and social media in a modern satire on fame, legendary comic David Cross’ directorial debut falls short of greatness but still offers more than enough laughs and insight to merit a release. BitTorrent has been its unlikely saviour with a pay-what-you-want download business model, but like most comedies it would really benefit from being seen in cinemas.
9. Charlie’s Country (London, Cannes, Toronto, Mumbai)
Making one of its first public appearances as an official selection in the Un Certain Regard category at Cannes, Charlie’s Country is the ambitious story of one man’s battle to navigate his own aboriginal community and the white community around it. Back at the London Film Festival in October we called it “passionate, beautiful and bittersweet as it expresses a poignant tale of vulnerability, rage and sorrow. At the core of its emotional power is David Gulpilil (Charlie) with an unequivocally dazzling and mesmeric performance.”
8. Partners in Crime (Taipei, Toronto, Tokyo)
In Partners in Crime, the unexpected appearance of a dead body brings three students together in an unlikely friendship as they try to discover how the victim died. Jung-chi Chang’s atmospheric thriller explores the “technological connections of youth” and at the time of viewing we wrote that “every scene is poignant whilst sown throughout are the seeds of teenage discomfort.” This is one film that really deserves to be seen by audiences beyond its Eastern roots.
7. The Green Inferno (Toronto, Edinburgh, AFI)
The Green Inferno has perhaps the longest shelf life of any film on this list, having been kicking around since the Toronto International Film Festival way back in 2013. Since then disputes between the film’s producers have led to an uncertain future with IMDb and director Roth offering no more specific a date than “2015”. Hopefully these issues can be resolved quickly as The Green Inferno is a tongue-in-cheek and wildly entertaining B-movie horror which we described as “Impossibly knowing, and gleefully macabre, wresting screams from either end of the spectrum.”
6. Hungry Hearts (Venice, Toronto, London)
Hungry Hearts is anchored by two shattering and committed performances from Adam Driver and Alba Rohrwacher, for which they won both of the acting awards at Venice. Continuing to Toronto and London, Saverio Costanzo’s writing and directing wowed us, making Hungry Hearts “the most chilling non-horror of the year…with a remarkably even-handed and tense portrayal of a family caught between love and logic.”
5. A Girl at My Door (Cannes, Toronto, Rio, London)
The usual suspects of the festival calendar crop up yet again for July Jung’s intelligent and enigmatic drama. Featuring the mesmerising Doona Bae (Cloud Atlas) as the police chief of a troubled rural town and the unforgettable Sae-ron Kim as the abused young girl she tries to help, it’s about time A Girl at My Door got the attention it deserves. We called it “sophisticated, perplexing and unnerving,” and said that it will “haunt long after viewing.”
4. The Tribe (Cannes, Toronto, London, Vienna, Sundance, Hong Kong)
Claiming the first five-star review among our best unreleased films of 2014, The Tribe is also one of the most audacious on this list. Boasting a staggering record of over 40 festival appearances, this drama from Miroslav Slaboshpitsky is “told solely through sign language, and contains no spoken dialogue or subtitles”. He “masters visual storytelling without a single utterance” and in the process creates “one of the most innovative and compelling works of 2014.”
3. War Book (London, Rotterdam)
This criminally-underseen drama from writer Jack Thorne and director Tom Harper is a very British affair, premiering at the London Film Festival and exploring the moral dilemmas faced by a handful of junior politicians being put through a test run of a possible future war. Earning another five-star review, we said that “there is a rare focus and ruthless quality in this low-budget indie that deserves and demands your attention. You won’t forget this: as one chilling moment implies – it might be your future.”
2. A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (Sundance, London, Mumbai, Abu Dhabi)
How often do you get to describe a film as a “pulpy, vampirical Iranian modern noir with power, confidence and verve”? The sheer audacity of the concept should be enough to win over potential audiences on its own, but A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is more than just a catchy logline. We described it as “beguilingly cryptic and supernatural yet intrinsically personal and human”, with writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour “transcending sub-genres and expectations to deliver an exceptional idiosyncratic masterpiece.”
1. Goodbye to Language 3D (Cannes, Toronto, New York, London, Bangkok, Brisbane)
It might seem odd to put at the top of this list a film to which we only awarded three stars back at the London Film Festival, but regardless of our quibbles with its dense web of visual quotations and impregnable anti-narrative, this is a film that demands to be seen in cinemas. Legendary French director Jean-Luc Godard is more rebellious and ground-breaking than ever before with one shot in particular slicing through to the heart of what cinemas can offer visually. We bemoaned Godard’s “hack-and-slash juxtaposition of perspectives, opinions, visual planes and audio channels,” but were left dumbfounded by his use of 3D, which “carries an intoxicating and inspiring taste of cinematic revolution.”
Are you desperate to see these films or any others from 2014’s festivals? Let us know in the comments below.