This Palme d’or-winner, about the hardships faced by peasants in late 19th-century Lombardy, is a masterpiece of neorealism. Ermanno Olmi’s film chronicles a year in the everyday struggles of several families living on the farmstead of an aloof, exploitative landlord. To make ends meet, the farmers feel the need to compete against each other even as they partake together in working the cornfields, slaughtering animals, sharing stories, marking births and weddings, and attending mass.
Making superb use of its non-professional cast, Olmi’s vast, meticulously detailed fresco is a magisterial, unusually convincing recreation of a feudal rural world barely touched by modernity or political progress, where the only succour derives from human charity or the Church. Deeply engrossing, compassionate and quietly moving.
Period drama 1964 85 mins Director: Karel Zeman
Karel Zeman's astonishing fantasy mixes live-action and animation to tell the adventures of a ploughman and a mercenery during the Thirty Years War.
Period drama 1954 125 mins Director: Kenji Mizoguchi
Mizoguchi’s historical epic is among the greatest of all Japanese films, and a masterpiece of humanist cinema.
Period drama 1963 114 mins Director: Kon Ichikawa
Kon Ichikawa's wildly melodramatic tale of a kabuki female impersonator who exacts a long-delayed revenge.
Period drama 1975 107 mins Director: Peter Weir
The film that established Peter Weir as a major filmmaker remains one of the most chillingly atmospheric and beautifully enigmatic films ever made.
Period drama 1971 94 mins Director: Walerian Borowczyk
Borowczyk's visually stunning historical drama, which presents the story of a young woman's hypnotic beauty in the style of a moving medieval fresco.
Science Fiction 1988 91 mins Director: Vincent Ward
A group of medieval English villagers find themselves transported to '80s New Zealand, in Vincent Ward's startling fusion of period fantasy and time-travel science fiction.
Drama 1982 181 mins Director: Ingmar Bergman
Bergman’s magisterial and sumptuous portrait of a 20th-century Swedish family.
Comedy 2008 237 mins Director: Sion Sono
Japanese cinema's enfant terrible, Sion Sono, unleashes this demented, whirlwind tale of cults, love, violence and perversion.
Drama 2008 96 mins Director: Bernard Rose
Bernard Rose updates Tolstoy's tale about the corrupting power of sex and jealousy, with Danny Huston as the wealthy husband of a beautiful, famous pianist (Elisabeth Röhm).
Documentary 2018 73 mins Director: Sean McAllister
Acclaimed filmmaker Sean McAllister (A Syrian Love Story) returns to his hometown of Hull to profile local resident Steve Arnott, a struggling warehouse worker who harbours his own creative dream of breaking into hip-hop.
Drama 1961 122 mins Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Michelangelo Antonioni's masterpiece stars Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau as a couple re-examining their emotional bonds.
Comedy 1932 72 mins Director: James Whale
A group of weary travellers arrive at a spooky mansion with a madman on the loose, in this classic horror-comedy from James Whale (Bride of Frankenstein)
Documentary 2019 95 mins Director: Zed Nelson
The working-class community of Hoxton Street face the upheavals of gentrification, austerity and the eruption of Brexit, in this portrait of a rapidly changing London.
Documentary 2019 93 mins Director: Stephane Riethauser
A grandmother and her grandson engage in an intimate conversation, exploring gender, sexuality and transmission of identity.
Documentary 2019 130 mins Director: Sébastien Lifshitz
This captivating coming-of-age documentary follows best friends Anaïs and Emma for five years of teenagehood.
Drama 2019 92 mins Director: Boris Lojkine
A poignant biopic of photojournalist Camille Lepage.
Comedy 2020 82 mins Director: Bruno Merle
11 year old Tommy is desperate to make it for the first day of the school term, but with parents as eccentric hers, she knows she has the odds against her.
Drama 2019 117 mins Director: Myriam Verreault
A powerful story of how life can test even the strongest of bonds, Mikuan and Shaniss, best of friends since childhood, find themselves drifting apart because of forces beyond their control.