IFFK 2019: Curator Beena Paul lists 10 movies that you shouldn't miss

Festival curator Beena Paul lists out 10 must watch movies this year

Thiruvananthapuram: The 24th edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala will begin here on Thursday showcasing some of the most brilliant films and film makers from around the world. This year, around 186 movies from 73 countries would be screened at the various theaters in the city. Beena Paul, the vice chairperson and artistic director of the Chalachitra Academy lists 10 movies that you shouldn’t miss at this year’s IFFK:


Russia (130 minutes)


This historical drama film, set in 1945 Leningrad, shows the desperation of a population who have lost everything in the Second World War. Two women, Iya and Masha, arrive at Leningrad to forget the scary memories of the war and to begin their lives anew. Iya is accompanied by her 3 year son as well. This extraordinary movie narrates the tale of survival and perseverance. Beanpole which was screened at the Cannes film festival won the FIPRESCI prize in the Uncertain Regard category and the award for best director as well.

A Dark Dark Man

Kazakhstan (131 minutes)


This dark humor film has scenes that create tension and slowly grows on you. A boy is murdered in a village in Kazakhstan. Detective Bekzat wants to wrap up the investigation quickly and has already kept ready a local ‘culprit’ to be indicted. However, everything falls into pieces when a journalist intervenes; and now Bekzat has to conduct a real investigation. A Dark Dark Man is a unique crime thriller that has won accolades at the Busan and San Sebastian film festivals.

A Tale of Three Sisters

Turkey (107 minutes)


After living in foster homes for years, the three sisters return to their father’s house in central Anatoli. The sisters who have enjoyed luxurious lives until then suddenly moves back to the hardships of their real home. However, the audience will soon realize that their lives at the foster homes have never been as easy. The three sisters have to cope up with their new life styles and even tolerate their father. The father, meanwhile, calls his daughters ungrateful. This beautiful movie is composed in perfect frames. It was selected to compete for the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival.

It Must Be Heaven

Palestine (97 minutes)


Director Elia Suleiman criticizes Israel’s occupation of Palestine with a dose of humor. He plays the protagonist, with the same name, who seeks an alternative homeland away from his real home. He migrated to Paris fearing raids and persecution in Palestine. However, the same experiences await him everywhere. Suleiman’s brilliant performance, donning indifferent expressions, is sure to charm the audience. It Must Be Heaven which is Palestine’s official entry to the Oscars also competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film festival.

Despite the Fog

Italy (92 minutes)


As per Interpol’s latest data, more than 10,000 orphan migrant kids wander through Europe. More than half of them are in Italy. Eight year old Ali Musa Sarhan is orphaned after the death of his parents while trying to reach the Italian coast in a rubber boat. The kid who survived was spotted by Paolo in the streets. Paolo took the boy home to his wife Valeria, who has her own share of doubts about the kid. Though she was reluctant to accept Ali in the beginning, they slowly develop a closer bond. The young boy becomes a solace for the couple who have lost a son earlier. Despite the Fog was the inaugural movie of the International Film Festival of India held in Goa.


South Korea (132 minutes)


The Kim family wishes to live in luxury and they have found a wealthy family to fulfill their dreams. Their son is offered an English tutor’s job in that family. Soon, his sister follows. The father comes in as the driver and the mother as a housekeeper. They have found their way into the rich family through dishonest ways. The Kim family lives there acting like total strangers until one night, when all their plans fall apart. Time magazine chose this movie as one of the best movies of 2019. It became the first South Korean movie to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival for best movie. The director has projected the financial inequalities in the society through this brilliant dark comedy. Parasite is South Korea’s official entry to the Oscars this year.

Haifa Street

Iraq (79 minutes)


Ahmad had reached the Haifa Street that is under siege with the help of the American army. He is looking for the woman whom he loves and intends to marry her and take her to the US with him. However, Ahmad is killed by a ruthless sniper. He prevents anyone from retrieving the corpse by shooting at them. The following events reveal the tragic relationship of the sniper to the deceased. Haifa Street which won the award for the best movie at the Busan International Film festival portrays the social realities of Iraq, wounded by deadly wars, through the barrel of a gun. This movie was exhibited at the Venice and Cairo film festivals as well. Director Mahanad Hayal grabbed the award for the best Arab director at the Cairo film festival.


China (102 minutes)


Poetic and philosophical at the same time, this Chinese drama film is realistic yet slips into the realms of Magical Realism at times. The movie tells the tale of a Tibetan shepherd family. The director of this film too hails from Tibet. The couple that has 3 sons struggles to live in the province where China’s one – child policy prevails. However, the wife gets pregnant for a fourth time. Though the local clinic instructed them to abort the fetus, the man doesn’t agree as he believes that his dead father would be reborn. Balloon beautifully narrates the stories of those who are trapped between law and traditional beliefs. It was screened at the Venice International Film Festival.


Philipines (126 minutes)


This crime drama is based on a real incident that the director had witnessed in person. Joy lives in Manila with her 6 year old daughter Angel. Her husband Dante is a small time criminal. One night, Dante comes home drunk and beats Joy and Angel. Joy grabs her daughter and flees to the police station. Though Dante gets arrested, Joy’s further experiences lead her to believe that she will not get justice. The mother and daughter fall into the abyss of constant fear where they cannot even rely on the law. The director has critically approached the current social realities of Philippines. Verdict that was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival is Philippines’ official entry to the Oscars.


South Korea (148 minutes)


Jongsu runs into a girl who once lived in his neighborhood. However, he doesn’t remember her at all. The girl tells him that she had undergone plastic surgery, which he believes. She asks him if he would feed her cat while she is away on a trip to Africa. When she returns, the girl is accompanied by a man named Ben who she met in Africa. Jongsu, meanwhile, struggles to manage his family’s farmhouse as his father is in jail. One day, Ben tells Jongsu about a strange and dangerous habit of his. This psychological mystery drama presents the topics of love and revenge in a unique way. Burning had competed for the Palme d’Or in the Cannes Film festival in 2018. The movie based on a novel by Haruki Murakami was South Korea’s entry to the Oscars last year.