1. Kumare (English) by Vikram Gandhi
Billed as the ‘true story of a false prophet’, this is a US documentary exploring new shores in the genre. Troubled by the yoga craze, director Gandhi, a first generation immigrant, travels to India and discovers “swamis desperately trying to ‘outguru’ one another, and just as phony as those I met in America”. He impersonates an Indian guru and builds a following in Arizona. Then, at the height of his popularity, he reveals his identity and a deeper truth. Image: 1: Kino Lorber.Inc; 4: Reva Films; 5: The Weinstein Company
2. Amour (Love) (French) by Michael Haneke
A moving, and yet shocking, film on the lengths one can go for love and an issue many of us are grappling with—caring for ageing, ailing loved ones. Georges and Anne are retired music teachers in their eighties, living alone. As Anne’s health deteriorates, robbing her of her dignity, George prevents even their daughter from seeing her, before taking a drastic step. The film, which boasts powerful performances by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, won the Golden Palm at the Cannes film festival. It was also at the Mumbai, Kerala and Kolkata film festivals. An unforgettable film from the director of The White Ribbon
3. Deine Schoenheit ist nichts wert (Your Beauty Is Worth Nothing) (German) by Huseyin Tabak
Veysel, the gentle 12-year-old Kurdish immigrant in Austria, is struggling with his family—his father is deemed a terrorist and his brother is in jail. He has a crush on his classmate Ana, though he doesn’t know her language. His neighbour translates a love poem of Turkish poet Asik Veysel into German, so he can recite it for Ana, but the police deport Ana’s family. This deeply moving feature is the film school debut of the Turkish-Kurdish director. An Austrian-Turkish film in German with English sub-titles—a sign of films to come.4. Blancanieves (Snow White and the 7 dwarves) (Spanish) by Pablo Berger
An extraordinary, breathtaking, silent and black-and-white film by Pablo Berger, which will long be burned in my heart. It flips all the stereotypes of the Snow White and Seven Dwarves story by setting it in 1920s Seville, Spain: Blancanieves (Snow White) is a female matador, the dwarves are matadors too, and the wicked stepmother lusts after luxury and status. The lustrous cinematography and music are a benchmark. The film was at the Toronto film festival and is Spain’s entry for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. It was also at the Mumbai film festival. Astounding for being only a second feature.5. Silver Linings Playbook (English) by David O Russell
Russell’s wonderful dramedy with his brilliant screenplay is based on a Matthew Quick novel. Bradley Cooper, just out of a mental institution, is determined to get back with his estranged wife, and reluctantly teams up in this endeavour with Jennifer Lawrence (Oscar nomination for Best Actress for Winter’s Bone
). His dad Robert de Niro is a football fanatic with OCD. The screenplay questions definitions of who is normal and who ought to be certified. With terrific dancing, don’t ask us why.
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(This story appears in the 11 January, 2013 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)