The only film directed by trailblazing feminist Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzād finds unexpected grace where few would think to look: a leper colony where inhabitants live, worship, learn, play, and celebrate in a self-contained community cut off from the rest of the world. Through ruminative voiceover narration drawn from the Old Testament, the Koran, and the filmmaker’s own poetry and unflinching images that refuse to look away from physical difference, Farrokhzād creates a profoundly empathetic portrait of those cast off by society—an indelible face-to-face encounter with the humanity behind the disease. A key forerunner of the Iranian New Wave, The House Is Black is a triumph of transcendent lyricism from a visionary artist whose influence is only beginning to be fully appreciated.
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.