Sick of the overblown hype and the endless queues for competition films? Head to the smaller sections and you might just catch a diamond in the rough. We’ve hand-picked 13 of our favourites.
Blind Dates (Shemtkhveviti paemnebi, Georgia) (Forum) …because this curious, bitterly sweet look at the intersection of 40-pluses seeking love and finding responsibility is the best thing to come out of Georgia since Otar Iosseliani.
Parasite (Huba, Poland) (Forum) …because this rendition of father, daughter, baby in post-communist Poland is practically wordless but all the more powerful in its formally structured representation of emerging economies and their social malaises.
40 Days of Silence (Chilla, Uzbekistan) (Forum) …because showing a young girl on the brink of adulthood struggling with an ancient Kazakh rite proves, if ever a film did, that deeply internalised, meditative processes can be visualised.
Finding Vivian Maier (US) (Panorama) … because of the way in which layers of concealment are incrementally removed to reveal a pathologically private artist, commenting on the nature and ethics of creativity from both sides of the camera.
Test (US) (Panorama) …because a film about the gay dance community facing AIDS in mid-1980s San Francisco combines great dance sequences with a quiet re-alignment of life choices.
At Home (Sto spiti, Greece) (Forum) …because showing a migrant worker facing rejection after 20 years of service hauntingly reinterprets the euro crisis according to the tenets of Greek stoicism: exploitation versus dignity, and love.
The Second Game (Al doilea joc, Romania) (Forum) …because it’s a Ceausescu-era mix of football and politics from a Romanian New Wave director whose father was the referee. What’s not to like?
Blind (Norway) (Panorama) …because in his sexualised and darkly slapstick directorial debut, Eskil Vogt plays with space and time like a Norwegian Charlie Kaufman.
52 Tuesdays (Australia) (Generation 14+) … because an experiment in gender change becomes the focus of an experiment in filmmaking, stretching a young person’s sexual and creative horizons in a moving synthesis of form and content.
The Forest is like the Mountains (Pâdurea e ca muntele, vezi?, Romania) (Forum) …because with remarkable humility, this gorgeous fly-on-the-wall documentary looks not only at the hardships of Roma life, but at the warmth of that community too.
Triptych (Triptyque, Canada) (Panorama) … because Canadian Robert Lepage succeeds in merging three lives in varying degrees of personal awareness, coalescing impulses and images on the joys of communication.
Castanha (Brazil) (Forum) …because this Brazilian docu-drama deals in drag, drugs and death without raising its voice, with a central protagonist who bares not only his soul to show how brittle lives can shatter.
Güeros (Mexico) (Panorama) …because Mexican cinema deserves this bemused exploration of private and public confusion as it follows two brothers through Mexico City’s 1999 student protests.
Originally published in issue #124, February 2014.