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Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2020

Annual Top Films Lists

Through the Looking Glass: The Top 100 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2020 – Picks #100 to #11

Through the Looking Glass: The Top 100 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2020 – Picks #100 to #11

While we look forward to a plentiful 2019 as far as foreign cinema is concerned (of which we highlighted #300-151 and our countdown #150-1 to anticipate in the coming year), we broaden the horizon to examine projects which look to be ready to premiere sometime in 2020 (with Argentina looking to have major festival representation with six new highly anticipated projects listed below).

#100. Dona Gracia – Amos Gitai
#99. Rendezvous with Pol Pot – Rithy Panh
#98. Admin – Olmo Omerzu
#97. In the Dusk – Sharunas Bartas
#96. Dodo – Panos H. Koutras
#95. Anybody Seen My Girl? 100 Letters to Seryozha – Angelina Nikonova
#94. Stranger – Urszula Antoniak
#93. Some Day We Will Tell Each Other Everything – Emily Atef
#92. Irene – Celina Murga
#91. Untitled Lukas Dhont Project – Lukas Dhont

Israel’s Amos Gitai will turn to period for Dona Gracia, a biopic set in 16th century Spain and focusing on Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi, a wealthy Jewish woman who helped smuggle Conversos out of the country. Cambodia’s Rithy Panh has yet to make Rendezvous with Pol Pot, which seems to have taken a back seat to his 2018 documentary Graves Without a Name. Czech Republic’s Olmo Omerzu, whose 2018 film Winter Flies was the country’s Foreign Language Oscar submission, has announced his next project, Admin. Lithuania’s Sharunas Bartas, last on hand with 2017’s Frost, has continued to collect financing on In the Dusk, while Greece’s Panos H. Koutras (2014’s Xenia) announced his next project will be Dodo. Meanwhile, Russia’s Angelina Nikonova, whose last film was 2014’s Welcome Home and is poised to release her English language U.S. financed horror film Nishkinata, is adapting Karina Dobrotvorskaya’s novel Anybody Seen My Girl? 100 Letters to Seryozha. Poland’s Urszula Antoniak began collecting funding for Stranger shortly after the 2017 premiere of her last title, Beyond Words. And Germany’s Emily Atef follows up her Romy Schneider bio 3 Days in Quiberon (2018) with the project Some Day We Will Tell Each Other Everything. Argentina’s Celina Murga has nabbed Emma Suarez to star in her next feature Irene, and Belgium’s Lukas Dhont, whose 2018 breakout Girl continues to stir conversations, re-teams with writer Angelo Tijssens and producer Dirk Impens for another character study focusing on a queer character in an as-yet-titled project.

#90. The Wound – Lucas Belvaux
#89. The Alcohol Project – Thomas Vinterberg
#88. Rio – Edward Berger
#87. Madame Claude – Sylvie Verheyde
#86. Liberte – Albert Serra
#85. The Fourth Wall – David Oelhoffen
#84. Les dernier hommes – David Oelhoffen
#83. Atarrabi et Mikelats – Eugene Green
#82. The Echo Chamber – Bernardo Bertolucci
#81. Stepne – Maryna Vroda

Following his political drama This is Our Land (2017), Belgium’s Lucas Belvaux has begun to collect funding for The Wound while Denmark’s Thomas Vinterberg follows up 2018’s Kursk with the recently announced The Alcohol Project. Although Luca Guadagnino left behind the high-profile Rio, the reins have been taken by Germany’s Edward Berger (whose next title Siblings will premiere sometime in 2019). Sylvie Verheyde will return with Madame Claude following 2016’s Sex Doll and the increasingly busy Albert Serra (whose Fassbinder project Personalien we hope to ready in 2019) has begun to amass funding for an adaptation of the play he recently staged, Liberte. French director David Oelhoffen (who competed in 2018 Venice with Close Enemies) announced two new projects, both period pieces, including an adaptation of Alain Gandy’s autobiographical novel, Les derniers hommes, and an adaptation of Sorj Chalandon’s novel The Fourth Wall (casting was underway for the latter in late 2018). Eugene Green will begin production on Atarrabi et Mikelats in the late spring of 2019, and we’re awaiting news on who will complete the unfinished final project from Bernardo Bertolucci, The Echo Chamber, which he had been working on prior to his death in November 2018. And the long-gestating debut from the Ukraine’s Maryna Vroda, Stepne, should finally move into production in 2019.

#80. Bridget Bardot the Wonderful – Lech Majewski
#79. The Cyclades – Marc Fitoussi
#78. The Bad Hand – Jacques Doillon
#77. Covers – Wanuri Kahui
#76. The Innocents – Eskil Vogt
#75. Mon Legionnaire – Rachel Lang
#74. Country in the Shadow – Bohdan Slama
#73. Il Buco – Michelangelo Frammartino
#72. Quiet Land – Ursula Meier
#71. Untitled Communist Party Project – Feng Xiaogang

As we still await the release of Lech Majewski’s ambitious international sci-fi film Valley of the Gods, the Polish director has already moved into production on Bridget Bardot the Wonderful, planned for a 2020 release. French director Marc Fitoussi, best known internationally for a pair of Isabelle Huppert titles (2010’s Copacabana; 2014’s Paris Follies) has been developing his latest project The Cyclades, while his fellow countryman Jacques Doillon has quietly been collecting funding for a new project, The Bad Hand (his first feature since 2017’s Rodin). A breakout at Cannes 2018 with her sophomore film Rafiki, Kenya’s Wanuri Kahui has been developing her next, Covers. Joachim Trier’s DP Eskil Vogt, who made his directorial debut with Blind (2014) will return to the director’s chair for The Innocents. Rachel Lang, who scored positive notices for her 2016 debut Baden Baden has nabbed Louis Garrel to headline her next feature, Mon Legionnaire. Czech Republic’s Bohdan Slama, last on hand with the underrated Ice Mother in 2017 (the country’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film) returns with Country in the Shadow. We also hope to see movement on the latest from Italy’s Michelangelo Frammartino with Il Buco, which would be the filmmaker’s first film since 2010’s Le Quattro Volte. While she was part of the Shock Waves television project in 2018 with her entry Diary of My Mind, Switzerland’s Ursula Meier embarks on her first feature since 2012’s Sister with English language project Quiet Land. And while controversy surrounded his 2017 title Youth back home, China’s Xiaogang Feng has begun production on an ambitious as-yet-untitled Communist Party project.

#70. Little Flower – Santiago Mitre
#69. The Emerald Butterfly – Martin Koolhoven
#68. The War Has Ended – Hagar Ben Asher
#67. Addicted to Violence – Jean-Stephane Sauvaire
#66. A Chiara – Jonas Carpignano
#65. The River – Ghassan Salhab
#64. Chien blanc (Yukonstyle) – Anais Barbeau-Lavalette
#63. Freakshift – Ben Wheatley
#62. When the Waves Are Gone – Lav Diaz
#61. Brother Danger – Pablo Fendrik

Argentina’s Santiago Mitre, of Paulina (2015) and The Summit (2017) may be ready with his next project Little Flower. And we hope the latest neo-noir from Martin Koolhoven, The Emerald Butterfly is less plagued by funding issues than his impressive revisionist western Brimstone (2016). We have high hopes for Israel’s Hagar Ben Asher with her next project The War Has Ended, after quiet receptions for 2016’s The Burglar and 2018’s Dead Women Walking, both following her 2011 breakout The Slut. After 2017’s A Prayer Before Dawn, Jean-Stephane Sauvaire continues developing Addicted to Violence, while Italy’s Jonas Carpignano will continue in the vein of the neo-realist hybrid vein of Mediterranea (2015) and A Ciambra (2017) with his next project A Chiara. Senegal’s Ghassan Salhab, last seen in 2014 with The Valley, should be ready with The River, while Canada’s Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette follows up 2012’s well-received Inch’Allah with Chien blanc (Yukonstyle). 2020 may be the year we finally see Ben Wheatley’s Freakshift, unless another fast-tracked project again takes precedence, while Lav Diaz, who will be on hand in 2019 with a new project, has been collecting funding for When the Waves are Gone. And Argentina’s Pablo Fendrik, who directed Gael Garcia Bernal in 2014’s Ardor, returns with the high-profile Brother Danger.

#60. Charlatan – Agnieszka Holland
#59. The Split Tongue – Peter Brenner
#58. Ruin – Justin Kurzel
#57. The Billion Dollar Spy – Amma Asante
#56. Dr. Glass – Aisling Walsh
#55. The Forgiven – John Michael McDonagh
#54. The Soccer War – Philippe Falardeau
#53. La Rose de Cobra – Benjamin Naishtat
#52. Numbers – Oleg Sentsov
#51. Titane – Julia Ducournau

Poland’s Agnieszka Holland wastes little time between projects. 2019 should see the release of English language Gareth Jones as she readies her next, the Czech Republic title Charlatan. Meanwhile, Ulrich Seidl Films is producing the latest from Austrian helmer Peter Brenner, the delicious sounding The Split Tongue, which will feature Franz Rogowski. Australia’s Justin Kurzel, who will recuperate local rebel Ned Kelly in 2019, goes to WWII in 2020 with Ruin, set to star Margot Robbie and Matthias Schoenaerts. The UK’s increasingly prolific Amma Asante readies another period piece The Billion Dollar Spy, fresh off her 2018 title Where Hands Touch. Ireland’s Aisling Walsh, whose last feature was the neglected Maudie (2016), adapts Swedish novelist Hjalmar Soderberg’s classic novel Dr. Glass as her next project. And the UK’s John Michael McDonagh, who was in the US with his 2016 title War on Everyone, next turns to The Forgiven. Quebec’s Philippe Falardeau has potential projects My Salinger Year as well as the adaptation of Ryszard Kapuscinski’s The Soccer War. And another Argentinean, Benjamin Naishtat, who presented Rojo in 2018, next readies La Rose de Cobra. While Ukrainian director Oleg Sentsov remains imprisoned in Russia (where he has been held captive since 2014), funding has been announced for his feature since 2011’s Gamer, currently titled Numbers. And France’s Julia Ducournau, who became an instant horror director of note with 2016’s Raw, has been working on her next feature, Titane.

#50. The Practice – Martin Rejtman
#49. Musique de Chambre – Christophe Honore
#48. Dead in the Lake – Im Sang-soo
#47. How Do You Live? – Hayao Miyazaki
#46. Pinocchio – Matteo Garrone
#45. The Souvenir: Part II – Joanna Hogg
#44. Untitled Ken Loach Remake – Yann Demange
#43. Where is Anne Frank? – Ari Folman
#42. HorseBoy – Ari Folman
#41. The Middle Man – Bent Hamer

And another Argentinean poised to unveil a new production is Martin Rejtman with The Practice, a Chilean set film which will be the director’s first title since 2014’s Two Shots Fired. Christophe Honore, who competed for the second time in Cannes in 2018 with Sorry Angel has announced his next project, Musique de Chambre. While it was announced back in 2017, South Korea’s Im Sang-soo was purportedly working on the thriller Dead in the Lake, although little has been revealed since early funding stages. Meanwhile, the once semi-retired anime titan Hayao Miyazaki should have How Do You Live? ready by 2020. Italy’s Matteo Garrone looks to put his own spin on the classic Pinocchio starring Toni Servillo, and Joanna Hogg, who will be unveiling The Souvenir: Part I at Sundance and Berlin in 2019, could potentially have her second installment (which is supposed to feature Robert Pattinson) ready next year. Yann Demange, who presented White Boy Rick in 2018, is re-teaming with Why Not Productions to remake an as-yet-to-be-confirmed Ken Loach title, migrating the action from the U.K. to the U.S. as a genre film with a strong female lead. 2020 should also be the major return of Israel’s Ari Folman, last on hand with the underrated The Congress in 2013. His long-gestating anime project Where is Anne Frank? could finally be ready—if only because Folman also announced plans for HorseBoy, a project set to star Lea Seydoux and Joel Kinnaman. And Norway’s Bent Hamer could break a six-year hiatus (last seen with 2014’s 1001 Grams) with The Middle Man.

#40. Emmanuelle – Michael R. Roskam
#39. Untitled John Brown Project – Raoul Peck
#38. Neon River – Karim Ainouz
#37. Electrocute – Gaston Solnicki
#36. Sleepwalkers – Radu Jude
#35. Pays Perdu – Alain Guiraudie
#34. Three Thousand Years of Longing – George Miller
#33. Blossoms – Wong Kar-Wai
#32. Valeska – Jacob M. Erwa
#31. The Masseur – Malgorzata Szumowska

We’re hoping to see Belgian director Michael R. Roskam return to form after 2017’s The Racer and the Jailbird, who is developing Emmanuelle, a Sylvia Kristel biopic set to star Sylvia Hoeks. After tackling James Baldwin in I Am Not Your Negro (2016) and Karl Marx in The Young Karl Marx, Raoul Peck is in development with a few projects, including untitled biopics on both psychiatrist Fritz Fanon and abolitionist John Brown. Brazil’s Karim Ainouz may finally move forward on neo-noir Neon River and Argentina’s Gaston Solnicki, who was a breakout with 2016’s Kekszakallu has moved forward with Electrocute. After winning the Crystal Globe in Karlovy Vary for I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians, Romania’s Radu Jude forges ahead with his next project Sleepwalkers. Meanwhile, Alain Guiraudie seems to be taking his time on Pays Perdu, reuniting with producer Sylvia Pialat on a title announced while his 2016 film Staying Vertical was competing in Cannes. And while Australia’s George Miller may have bungled the awards at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival while he was jury president, we’re excited to see what he does with Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba in Three Thousand Years of Longing. It might be too much to hope for since he is also preparing the television series project “Tong Wars,” but we’re hoping Wong Kar-Wai gets around to Blossoms, which would be his first feature since 2013’s The Grandmaster. Austria’s Jakob M. Erwa recruits Udo Kier and Katja Riemann for his next project Valeska, which is based on Valeska Reon’s 1980s autobiographical novel about a transgender hair stylist turned model. And Poland’s Malogrzata Szumowska, hot off her Silver Bear win for 2018’s Mug, should be ready with The Masseur.

#30. Untitled Marina de Van/Charles Berling Project – Marina de Van
#29. Miss Marx – Susanna Nicchiarelli
#28. Darling – Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani
#27. Sangria – Pablo Aguero
#26. Blood on the Tracks – Luca Guadagnino
#25. Triangle of Sadness – Ruben Ostlund
#24. Untitled Robin Campillo Project – Robin Campillo
#23. Limonov – Pawel Pawlikowski
#22. Ammonite – Francis Lee
#21. Afonso’s Smile – Joao Pedro Rodrigues

Although absent since her Irish genre film Dark Touch, France’s Marina de Van has been chatting about a new project she’s gearing up to film starring Charles Berling. Fresh off her superb Nico, 1988 which featured a stellar Trine Dyrholm, Italy’s Susanna Nicchiarelli preps Miss Marx, the tale of Karl Marx’s youngest daughter, Eleanor. Genre specialists Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani turn to anime for their next project, Darling, which is said to be in a similar vein to Belladonna of Sadness. Argentina’s Pablo Aguero, who turned heads with his 2015 title Eva Doesn’t Sleep, is prepping his exciting genre project Sangria (originally announced as Witches’ Sabbath) and Luca Guadagnino, hot off his Suspiria reimagining, will turn Bob Dylan’s 1975 album Blood on the Tracks to turn into a film (so we’ll just have to wait for all those other projects he’s been chatting about, like Swan Lake and a sequel to Call Me By Your Name). After winning the Palme d’Or in 2017 for The Square, Sweden’s Ruben Ostlund has Triangle of Sadness, while Robin Campillo of BPM (2017) also is working on an untitled film. Enjoying the glowing reviews of Cold War, which have been heaped upon it since its Cannes premiere (where it snagged a Best Director award), Pawel Pawlikowski’s next project will be Limonov. Excitingly, Francis Lee (of God’s Own Country, 2017) recruits Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan for his period lesbian romance Ammonite. And Portugal’s Joao Pedro Rodrigues, last on hand with a narrative feature in 2016 with the excellent The Ornithologist, returns with Afonso’s Smile.

#20. The Girl and the Spider – Ramon Zurcher
#19. Alice+Freda Forever – Jennifer Kent
#18. Luxembourg – Miroslav Slaboshpitsky
#17. Selvajara – Miguel Gomes
#16. The Perfumed Hill – Abderrahmane Sissako
#15. Untitled Jane Campion Project – Jane Campion
#14. Eureka – Lisandro Alonso
#13. Body Cross – William Oldroyd
#12. The Beautiful Woman Sleeping – Ulrike Ottinger
#11. Hora Staccato – Cristi Puiu

Seven years after his exceptional debut The Strange Little Cat (2013), Switzerland’s Ramon Zurcher should finally be ready with sophomore project The Girl and the Spider. Enjoying the praise for her Special Jury Prize winning The Nightingale, which competed in Venice 2018, The Babadook director Jennifer Kent might potentially be ready with her adaptation of Alexis Coe’s nonfiction book Alice+Freda Forever, a lesbian romance/murder/tragedy initially announced back in 2015. While the Ukraine’s Miroslav Slaboshpitsky may be moving forward with The Tiger, hope is not dead for his Chernobyl Exclusion Zone film Luxembourg, which ran into a snag. Portugal’s Miguel Gomes should be ready with his next project, Selvajara, which like his 2015 trilogy Arabian Nights looks to be divided into three parts (Volume One – A Terra; Volume Two – O Homem; Volume 3 – A Luta). Mauritania’s Abderrahmane Sissako has been absent since his Cannes competing Cesar-award winning Timbuktu in 2014, but his next project has been announced as The Perfumed Hill. In mid-2018, Jane Campion announced an untitled project will be her first film to revolve around a male protagonist. Meanwhile, Argentina’s Lisandro Alonso will also make his first appearance since 2014’s Jauja with Eureka. Following up his breakout Lady Macbeth (2016), the UK’s William Oldroyd will be responsible for bringing the sort-of sequel to David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises (2007) to the screen with Body Cross. And while we have been following it for years now, we’re still hoping Germany’s Ulrike Ottinger finally makes good on her plans to mount The Beautiful Woman Sleeping, which would be her first narrative film since 2004. Romania’s Cristi Puiu should also finally have Hora Staccato ready by 2020, following 2016’s Sieranevada and the French language Malmkrog, poised for a 2019 premiere.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com'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), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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