In 2000, Kiarostami traveled to Africa at the request of the United Nations to document a humanitarian crisis unfolding in Uganda, where 1.5 million children had been orphaned by civil war and AIDS. Working outside of Iran and shooting on digital video for the first time, he returned with this disarmingly hopeful look at a country where death hovers ever-present yet life— embodied by the playful spirit of the kids who peer curiously into his camera’s searching, humane lens—flows on undiminished. Part idiosyncratic travelogue, part ode to childhood wonder, ABC Africa is quintessential Kiarostami in its movingly philosophical reflection on human resilience in the face of adversity.
This boldly cinematic trio of stories about love and loss, from Krzysztof Kieślowski was a defining event of the art-house boom of the 1990s. The films are named for the colors of the French flag and stand for the tenets of the French Revolution—liberty, equality, and fraternity—but that hardly begins to explain their enigmatic beauty and rich humanity. Set in Paris, Warsaw, and Geneva, and ranging from tragedy to comedy, Blue, White, and Red(Kieślowski’s final film) examine with artistic clarity a group of ambiguously interconnected people experiencing profound personal disruptions. Marked by intoxicating cinematography and stirring performances by such actors as Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, Irène Jacob, and Jean-Louis Trintignant, Kieślowski’s Three Colors is a benchmark of contemporary cinema.
The Hong Kong crime drama was jolted to new life with the release of the Infernal Affairs trilogy, a bracing, explosively stylish critical and commercial triumph that introduced a dazzling level of narrative and thematic complexity to the genre with its gripping saga of two rival moles.
The release of François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows in 1959 shook world cinema to its foundations.