This year has promising world cinema doing rounds of film festivals abroad

There's a reason why foreign language films don't aim for theatrical releases in our country. One of their biggest risks is losing money. As a consequence, cinephiles depend heavily on international film festivals for their fill of good cinema.

This year sees an impressive line-up of thoughful foreign films at international film festivals, such as Cannes. hitlist takes a dekko at some of the most promising ones which discuss themes of economic instability, political turmoil and personal struggles.

The Salvation
The Salvation was one of the surprise hits of this year’s Cannes Film Festival
Kristian Levring
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Eva Green, Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Lowdown: If a film is Danish and has a certain reach, check for Mads Mikkelsen's name in the credits. After his award-winning work in The Hunt (2012) and Michael Kohlhaas (2013), he essays the role of a Danish settler in this Western.

The Tribe
The Tribe is an extraordinary piece of cinematic storytelling
Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy
Cast: Grigoriy Fesenko, Yana Novikova
Lowdown: This Ukrainian film is conveyed entirely through sign language with no subtitles whatsoever. The first feature film to have a cast entirely composed of hearing- impaired, sign-language users, it was much appreciated at Cannes.

Winter Sleep
Winter Sleep examines the divide between the the powerful and the powerless
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Cast: Haluk Bilginer, Demet Akbag, Melisa Sözen
Lowdown: As has been the case with Turkish cinema, this wrenching movie, too, draws parallels between the protagonist's personal problems and the prevailing turmoil in his surroundings. A political statement that stops short of being too political.

Two Days, One Night
Two Days, One Night is a celebration of a woman's power
Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione
Lowdown: Starring the Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard, this Belgian production showcases a gritty woman who simply can't afford to be unemployed. Her endeavour bears resemblance to the ongoing economic instability in many parts of the world.

Miss Granny
Miss Granny was a huge box-office success
Hwang Dong-hyuk
Cast: Shim Eun-kyung, Na Moon-hee
Lowdown: Undoubtedly the most commercially successful Korean film of the year, it's about a septuagenarian woman who finds herself in the body of her 20-year-old self after a freak incident. A Chinese remake is already in the pipeline.

Mommy is about overcoming odds in life
Xavier Dolan
Cast: Anne Dorval, Suzanne Clément
Lowdown: This French film from Canada is about the ups and downs of a broken family. The strained relationship between a teenaged son and his mother is complicated by the introduction of a mysterious neighbour.

The Crossing
The Crossing is based on the sinking of the steamer Taiping in 1949
John Woo
Cast: Zhang Ziyi, Song Hye-kyo, Takeshi Kaneshiro
Lowdown: Red Cliff 1 & 2 (2008-09) were Woo's last ventures as director. And this time around, he's back with a period film about three Chinese couples who wish to flee to Taiwan to avoid communist rule.

Black Coal, Thin Ice
Black Coal, Thin Ice is a salute to the classic Hollywood film noir
Diao Yinan
Cast: Liao Fan, Gwei Lun-Mei, Wang Xuebing
Lowdown: This crime story, set in 1990s China, is about a suspended cop-turned-detective. He investigates a series of killings, and falls in love with a suspect. Liao Fan has won several gongs for his performance.

The Little House
The Little House is based on a novel by Kyoko Nakajima
Yoji Yamada
Cast: Takako Matsu, Haru Kuroki, Hidetaka Yoshioka
Lowdown: This atypical Japanese movie takes a look at the WWII era through the eyes of a domestic help. Typically enough, the protagonist hides her hardships while putting up a brave front.

Leviathan is a compelling drama of intimidation in contemporary Russia
Andrey Zvyagintsev
Cast: Aleksei Serebryakov, Vladimir Vdovichenkov
Lowdown: Leviathan begins with a property dispute, but gradually evolves into a dark thriller. With captivating visuals and a thinly-veiled swipe at Putin's regime in some scenes, this peculiar Russian fare is bound to travel far and wide.

Beloved Sisters
Beloved Sisters is about the stirrings of the heart and the logic of the mind
Dominik Graf
Cast: Florian Stetter, Hannah Herzsprung, Henriette Confurius
Lowdown: Seldom do we come across a German film with an aristocratic touch. In this 18th-century period drama, a love triangle is in place between two royally-connected sisters and the celebrated poet, Friedrich Schiller.

Xi You (Journey to the West)
Journey To The West is about finding the path to enlightenment
Tsai Ming-liang
Cast: Lee Kang-sheng, Denis Lavant
Lowdown: One of the massive hits of the year in China, Xi You is inspired by a 16th century Chinese literary classic about a Buddhist monk — played by Lee — who endures a long journey to obtain sacred texts.

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