There can be no doubt that 2015 has been a banner year for international cinema and, to celebrate, leading festival heads pick the films they believe we will still be talking about 40 years from now


Dieter Kosslick
Director, Berlin International FIlm Festival

Taxi Tehran (Iran)
Dir. Jafar Panahi

As the driver of a taxi in Teheran, Panahi himself gets in contact with a mixture of customers as different as the Iranian society. Their conversations on religion, politics and society create a mixture of triviality and criticism blended with humour. Awarded with the Golden Bear at the Berlinale 2015, the film celebrated great success and was sold all over the world. Darren Aronofsky, head of the jury of the festival, described the film as “a love letter to cinema”.

Bero Beyer
Artistic Director, International Film Festival Rotterdam

The Lobster (Ire-UK-Gre-Fr-Neth-US)
Dir. Yorgos Lanthimos

What does it take to make a great film? An idea that is simple to grasp yet opens up a whole new chain of thought; a fantastic script that speaks to the imagination; a gifted director that can surpass the expectations of that script; and an ensemble cast that breathes life into every frame.

It speaks to the power of European cinema that these qualities were recognised and celebrated in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster by funders, critics and the ticket-buying audience. It’s a film that pushes our notions of what cinema can do in an absurd, dramatic, humorous and deeply human portrayal of a fantasy society that may be more true to our own than we care to admit.

The Lobster was presented at Cinemart of IFFR, where it found new partners including Dutch co-producer Lemming Film.

Carlo Chatrian
Artistic Director, Locarno International Film Festival

Trainwreck (US)
Dir. Judd Apatow

There is no doubt that Judd Apatow is considered to be one of the most original comedy directors around. His films challenge traditional views of society, allowing the viewer to go beyond notions of mere entertainment and Trainwreck is of particular note in this respect thanks to its extraordinary main character and screenwriter, Amy Schumer. Having had the opportunity to welcome her to the Piazza Grande stage, I am sure she will be a major influence on American comedy for years to come.

Kang Soo-youn
Festival Co-Director, Busan International Film Festival

Immortal (Iran)
Dir. Hadi Mohaghegh

Iranian cinema’s aesthetic traditions have faded since Asghar Farhadi. The masters are now making films in other countries while young directors are diminishing. Yet Hadi Mohgaghegh’s feature Immortal reminds us of the birth of the Iranian New Wave in the 1980s, with visuals that illustrate the depth of human misery.

John Cooper
Director, Sundance Film Festival

The Diary Of A Teenage Girl (US)
Dir. Marielle Heller

Heller’s film blazes a trail for directors who don’t want to linger in the status quo of political correctness in terms of how sexuality is represented on screen, especially in female characters. This film can split an audience - but that is exactly the point. It is brilliantly conceived and acted, is fresh and provocative in story and is far more ‘real’ than we dare to imagine.

Clare Stewart
Festival Director, BFI London Film Festival

Chevalier (Greece)
Dir. Athina Rachel Tsangari
Tangerine (US)
Dir. Sean Baker

I am going to give a shout out to LFF’s Official Competition winner, Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Chevalier, and Sean Baker’s Tangerine. Chevalier because Tsangari is a wholly distinctive filmmaker whose intriguing, forensic eye is balanced by her sense of play and divine wit; this film demonstrates the progress of a filmmaker who will continue to evolve and make her mark. Tangerine because Baker has created a nimble, funny realtime drama shot on iPhones that is not only one of the first truly inventive films to utilise the technology but also respectful storytelling that appreciates the irreverence and tenacity of two transgender working girls on the rampage.

Karl Spoerri
Artistic Director, Zurich Film Festival

Beast of No Nation (US)
Dir. Cary Fukunaga
Carol (US)
Dir. Todd Haynes

Beasts of No Nation is the first fictional feature distributed by Netflix, a game changer in the film world. Netflix’s releasing model pushes the boundaries of the conventional theatrical release; they don’t rely on admissions to measure success. With Carol, Todd Haynes created an outstandingly intelligent, richly observed movie with breathtaking poise, which taught the entertainment industry that female-centric dramas can be successful.

Piers Handling
Director and CEO, Toronto International Film Festival

Son Of Saul (Hungary)
Dir. László Nemes

Any film about the Holocaust will be controversial, and this one certainly is. Despite my hesitations about aspects of the film, Nemes’ impressive - and risky - feature debut took me to places I had never been before.

Jose Luis Rebordinos
Director, San Sebastian Film Festival

Mad Max (Aus-US)
Dir. George Miller

Mad Max: Fury Road is the perfect mix of a mainstream movie with narrative as well as esthetic ambition and art film, demonstrated by it being awarded the FIPRESCI Grand Prix 2015 for best film of the year.

Marco Mueller
Chief Adviser, Beijing International Film Festival

Inside Out (US)
Dirs. Pete Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen

Pixar’s boldest title in years is also the most imaginative, ingenious and original to have come out of a mainstream animation studio in a decade. The film’s box-office success proves that dazzling psychedelic adult entertainment for children‎ can now occupy a significant market quota. Pixar again heads the class.

Nashen Moodley
Director, Sydney Film Festival / Director of Cinema of The World, Dubai International FIlm Festival

Arabian Nights (Por-Fr-Ger-Swi)
Dir. Miguel Gomes

Wildly ambitious, wickedly funny and, at times, incredibly moving, the three-volume Arabian Nights is a subversive collection of riveting stories around Portugal’s economic situation. It is, I think, a film that will be watched and spoken about for years and years to come.

Mark Adams
Artistic Director, Edinburgh International Film Festival

45 Years (UK)
Dir. Andrew Haigh

Haigh’s delicate and emotionally powerful British drama is given heart and soul thanks to memorable performances from Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling, and confirms Haigh as one of the UK’s brightest new talents. It is a film that resonates and is gently memorable. I saw it at the Berlin Film Festival and was delighted to programme it at my first EIFF, where it won the Michael Powell award for Best British Film with Charlotte Rampling also being given the Best Actress Award.

Karel Och
Artistic Director, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

Heart Of A Dog (Fr-US)
Dir. Laurie Anderson

Heart Of A Dog by Laurie Anderson was my strongest film-related experience in 2015. This seductive and charming existential film essay invites the audience to a very intense dialogue with the inner self, which I believe is one of the most important aspects of a truly good film.