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Through the Looking Glass – The Top 50 Foreign Films of 2019: Picks #10 to #6

Annual Top Films Lists

Through the Looking Glass – The Top 50 Foreign Films of 2019: Picks #10 to #6

#10. Pablo Aguero’s Witches’ Sabbath

Argentinean director Pablo Aguero broke out with his third feature Eva Doesn’t Sleep in 2015, which featured Gael Garcia Bernal and Denis Lavant in an idiosyncratic portrait of Eva Peron’s corpse. His next project, Witches’ Sabbath, won a Films-in-Progress prize out of the 2017 San Sebastian Film Festival. The Spanish-French co-pro is set in 1609 Basque country, a thriller focusing on a group of women accused of witchcraft by the Inquisition.

#9. Olivier AssayasWasp Network

While Assayas (we met him back in 2014 – watch interview) certainly needs no introduction, his troubled Idol’s Eye famously fell through right before production several years ago. Assayas forged ahead instead with Personal Shopper (2016), and even though he’ll complete the Juliette Binoche led comedy Non Fiction before he gets to his heist thriller, the project is alive and well with original star Robert Pattinson to be joined by Sylvester Stallone and Rachel Weisz. However, it seems to have also taken a backseat to another project, the Cuban spy thriller Wasp Network, a French-Brazilian co-pro set in 1990s Florida, which has been confirmed as filming after Non Fiction wraps.

#8. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria

We had high hopes of Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul delivering a new feature in 2019 after word of location scouting in Colombia for what was described as a sci-fi feature in March of 2017. It seems his research of the South American country’s tumultuous history may have led to a protracted pre-production phase as no new details have emerged and Weerasethakul is also unveiling a “sleep cinema” experience at the 2018 Rotterdam Film Festival as well as contributing to the omnibus feature Ten Years Thailand.

#7. Andrea Pallaoro’s Monica

Italian director presented one of the best titles of 2017 with his sophomore film Hannah (read review), which netted Charlotte Rampling a Best Actress win at the 2017 Venice Film Festival. Pallaoro, who was also working on a project called Beauty Shop, announced the Rampling title was the first in a planned trilogy of films dedicated to female characters. The next installment will be a US set feature called Monica about a transsexual woman who returns home after thirty-five years to visit her mother’s deathbed.

#6. Cristi Puiu’s Hora Staccato

A cornerstone of the Romanian New Wave thanks to his 2005 sophomore film The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (which won top honors out of Un Certain Regard at Cannes), Cristi Puiu returned to Un Certain Regard with 2010’s difficult Aurora and entered the Cannes competition in 2016 with the superb Sieranevada (which is still without US distribution – read review). He began collecting funding for his next project, Hora Staccato over this past year. We hope to hear more details unveiled throughout 2018, but the film is being produced with his longtime collaborative partner Anca Puiu.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2021: France (Bruno Dumont), Passing (Rebecca Hall) and Nightmare Alley (Guillermo Del Toro). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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