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EUROPE

25 European films we’re anticipating in 2023

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- This year will bring an exciting and diverse spread of new movies with European backing: returning legends, hybrid non-fiction and provocative genre work all feature – something for everyone!

25 European films we’re anticipating in 2023

A new year in the international film industry always brings a bevy of hopes and insecurities – especially now, with the changing fate of theatrical exhibition and ongoing geopolitical disruption – whilst also mooting a set of exciting returning directors, and their fresh titles and loglines. Our team have put their heads together and come up with 25 main picks, and several honourable mentions, that represent this year’s most mouthwatering film propositions, and which will likely dot elite festival line-ups. Some will crown numerous 2023 year-end lists, while others may face pans and boos. It’s just another year in cinema…

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Several titles from under the radar and by emerging filmmakers to keep an eye on are Fiume o morte by Igor Bezinović (listen to our podcast episode); Handling the Undead by Thea Hvistendhal, a Norwegian horror-drama and one of Renate Reinsve’s first post-fame roles; Les Meutes by Kamal Lazraq; Que nadie duerma by Antonio Mendez Esparza; Europa by Sudabeh Mortezai, who won acclaim for Joy [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Sudabeh Mortezai
film profile
]
; The Spring by Ivan Ostrochovský; La ermita by Carlota Pereda, a Spanish helmer who broke through recently with Piggy [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Carlota Pereda
film profile
]
; La honte by Vladimir Perišić; Sweet Dreams by Ena Sendijarevič, the Bosnian-Dutch director who made Take Me Somewhere Nice [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ena Sendijarević
film profile
]
; and Holly by Fien Troch, one of the most eagerly awaited Belgian projects of the year.

As for the legends and luminaries who sadly just missed the cut of our main 25, we have On Barren Leaves by Palme d’Or winner Nuri Bilge Ceylan, which is set to be another whopping three-hour-plus epic; The Empire by jokester Bruno Dumont, now in sci-fi territory with Camille Cottin; The Plough by Philippe Garrel; Dead Leaves by Aki Kaurismäki; Il sol dell'avvenire by Nanni Moretti; and the restaurant portrait A Family Business by prolific documentary veteran Frederick Wiseman.

Without further ado, here are our 25 picks:

Strange Way of Life - Pedro Almodóvar (Spain)

2020’s The Human Voice was a highlight of Pedro Almodóvar’s late-career renaissance; now, he returns with another English-language short, which the maestro confirmed, on Dua Lipa’s podcast, no less, would premiere at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival. Playfully referencing his nearly having directed Brokeback Mountain when he became hot property in 2000s-era Hollywood, Strange Way of Life will be a raunchy, gay western shot in the pictorially suitable Almería desert, with Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke (playing one “Sheriff Jake”) as the cuddling cowboys. Read our production news here.

Eureka - Lisandro Alonso (Argentina/Germany/France/Portugal/Mexico)

Surely one of the most salivated-over high-auteur projects of the coming year, Argentinian maverick Lisandro Alonso’s new work is a quadtych exploring both the history and the contemporary reality of indigenous peoples in the Americas. The first section, a Spaghetti Western riff, reunites the director with Viggo Mortensen after their work in Jauja [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
; again, here Mortensen plays an embattled revenger. Read our production news here.

The Conversion - Marco Bellocchio (Italy/France/Germany)

Marco Bellocchio’s much-anticipated latest will be an in-depth portrayal of the Edgardo Mortara affair – a true scandalo of pre-unification papal Italy, where a Jewish child was removed from his family in Bologna, after a former servant claimed she secretly baptised him. Expect a detailed historical panorama in the mode of Vincere [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Cannes 2009 Marco Bellocc…
interview: Filippo Timi - actor
film profile
]
and The Traitor [+see also:
film review
trailer
Q&A: Marco Bellocchio
film profile
]
. Read our production news here.

The Beast - Bertrand Bonello (France/Canada)

With this project, tragically fated to have starred the late Gaspard Ulliel, Bertrand Bonello returns to the larger production scope of House of Tolerance [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Adèle Haenel
film profile
]
and Saint Laurent [+see also:
film review
trailer
Q&A: Bertrand Bonello
film profile
]
– not coincidentally, works that brought him placements in the Cannes competition. Inspired by Henry James’ classic novella, Léa Seydoux will play a woman in the near future who can “purify” her DNA, plunging her into her past lives. Taking in three distinct periods – 1910, 2014 and 2044 – Seydoux will star opposite George McKay (1917 [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
), who learned French for the film. Read our production news here.

Vazaha, The Strangers - Robin Campillo (France/Belgium)

One of the most highly anticipated French titles of the year comes from Robin Campillo, finally following up his 2017 Cannes Grand Prix and César Award winner BPM (Beats Per Minute) [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Arnaud Valois
interview: Robin Campillo
film profile
]
. Following another contemporary trend, Campillo will conjure his young life as a military brat in 1970s Madagascar, then one of the last remnants of the French colonial empire. Nadia Tereszkiewicz and Quim Gutiérrez lead the cast. Read our production news here.

Drift - Anthony Chen (France/Greece/UK)

Singaporean Cannes Camera d’Or winner Anthony Chen finds himself in prestige European literary-adaptation territory, with an exciting cast and in-person Sundance premiere to come. Adapted from the acclaimed 2013 novel by Alexander Maksik, this “uncommon refugee drama” will follow the daughter of an eminent Liberian loyalist (Oscar-nominated Cynthia Erivo), now displaced and struggling to survive on a Greek island.

Kalak - Isabella Eklöf (Denmark/Greenland/Sweden/Norway/Netherlands)

Danish screenwriter and filmmaker Isabella Eklöf continues booting up her promising career after turning heads with her screenplay for Border [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ali Abbasi
film profile
]
and her provocative directorial effort Holiday [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Victoria Carmen Sonne
film profile
]
. Dealing here with similarly on-the-edge material, Kalak will follow a Danish male nurse and abuse survivor working in Greenland, who attempts to connect with the local culture through sex. Read our production news here.

To Close One’s Eyes - Víctor Erice (Spain/Argentina)

A great film story of the just-concluded past year was the announcement of a new feature film from Víctor Erice, the Spanish cinema godhead who made The Spirit of the Beehive – scandalously, the only Spanish-language film in Sight & Sound’s new Top 100 films poll. This one is a cinephilic mystery taking place over several years, following the disappearance of a famous Spanish actor (played by José Coronado), as new information emerges decades later thanks to his close director friend (Manolo Solo). Read our production news here.

Io Capitano - Matteo Garrone (Italy/Belgium/France)

Matteo Garrone, offering what seems to many like an official follow-up to Dogman [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Matteo Garrone
film profile
]
, after his family-friendly Pinocchio [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Matteo Garrone
film profile
]
film, comes up with an epic-seeming story following two Senegalese youngsters through the perilous desert and over the sea as they attempt to reach Europe. Read our production news here.

Love Lies Bleeding - Rose Glass (UK/USA)

Not much is known about rising British hope Rose Glass’s follow-up to Saint Maud [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Rose Glass
film profile
]
, apart from it being billed as a “romantic thriller” taking place in the world of female bodybuilding. It should be another great lead showcase for Kristen Stewart, supported by Ed Harris (whom we can imagine in a role akin to Clint Eastwood’s in Million Dollar Baby) and Jena Malone. A24 is distributing, as is the wont for a project with these credentials. Read our production news here.

The Zone of Interest - Jonathan Glazer (UK/Poland/USA)

Jonathan Glazer’s latest mysterious, much-delayed project will be a study of a love triangle between Nazi officials at the Auschwitz concentration camp. Adapted from Martin Amis’s 2014 novel, the principal cast of Sandra Hüller, Christian Friedel and Max Beck recently came to light, as the A24-backed production gears up for a rumoured premiere on the Croisette this May.

Savagery - Miguel Gomes (Portugal/China/Greece/France/Brazil)

Although there was some web footprint across various production listings, it was actually an article of ours which quietly let slip that Miguel Gomes’s upcoming, ambitious-sounding feature was actually in the can. Following his work in 2012’s Tabu [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Miguel Gomes
interview: Miguel Gomes
film profile
]
, the director will further explore Portuguese colonial heritage with this account of a war between Brazilian soldiers and a group of religious zealots in 1890s Bahia.

Strangers - Andrew Haigh (USA/UK)

After far too long away in episodic TV land, Andrew Haigh returns to feature filmmaking with this fantasy-drama about a screenwriter who discovers that his long-dead parents are alive and well at his childhood home, looking exactly as they did the day they died. Andrew Scott, the red-hot Paul Mescal and Claire Foy lead a primo British cast, in what sounds oddly similar in premise to Petite Maman [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
. Read our production news here.

Do Not Expect Too Much of the End of the World/A Case History - Radu Jude (Romania/France/Luxembourg/Croatia/Germany/Switzerland/UK)

In a recent appearance on Film Comment’s podcast, where he spoke on his contribution to a new critical anthology on Pasolini, Radu Jude mentioned he was deep in the edit of his latest, brilliantly titled feature. There’s a strong chance this is his mooted project A Case History, announced to go into production last year; boasting a very strong logline, it follows the production of a “problematic” work safety video whilst musing on the wider theme of Romania’s new capitalist turn.

All We Imagine as Light - Payal Kapadia (India/France/Netherlands/Luxembourg/Italy)

Payal Kapadia’s debut documentary feature, A Night of Knowing Nothing [+see also:
film review
interview: Payal Kapadia
film profile
]
, was an acclaimed hit on the left-field festival circuit, most notably claiming the Golden Eye Prize upon its 2021 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight premiere. This project will find her building on her fictional short work, which has a feel not unlike Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s films. Meshing “reality and the dreamlike”, it follows two nurses who leave their stressful big-city existence behind and go on a road trip to a beach town, where a mystical forest allows their dreams to manifest themselves.

Poor Things - Yorgos Lanthimos (USA/Ireland/UK)

Contemporary Greek great Yorgos Lanthimos will hope to continue the vast success of The Favourite [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
with his latest black-comedy period piece, retaining Emma Stone from the prior film, and adding Mark Ruffalo, Willem Dafoe and Margaret Qualley. Poor Things, shot in Hungary in 2021 and pushed to this year, will take in the perverse relationship between a brilliant scientist (Dafoe) and the young woman he brings back to life (Stone), in a bit of Frankenstein-like reanimation. Read our production news here.

Les Indésirables - Ladj Ly (France)

Many excited eyes will be on Ladj Ly’s follow-up to his scorching banlieue drama Les Misérables [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ladj Ly
film profile
]
, which, of course, won the Cannes 2019 Jury Prize, followed by the Best Film César Award. This one will happily reunite him with Alexis Manenti, well cast as a new local mayor forced into duty, who crosses paths with a community activist (Anna Dias) in an underprivileged suburb outside Paris.

Chocobar - Lucrecia Martel (Argentina/Denmark/Mexico/USA)

Not the first director in our rundown to take multi-year pauses from directing, before returning to blow us all away, Lucrecia Martel has been working on her indigenous activist portrait Chocobar for a while now, with all eyes on a premiere at one of the upcoming big festivals. She has recently been announced as guest of honour at Visions du Réel (see the news), giving us hope that her fifth feature is not too far around the corner.

Blitz - Steve McQueen (USA/UK)

Another filmmaker following up a sojourn in the series world, Steve McQueen’s latest finds him comfortably in his historical wheelhouse, mounting an epic study of the aerial bombing of the UK in World War II, handsomely funded from the pocket of Apple TV+. Saoirse Ronan, Harris Dickinson and Stephen Graham will take on the leading roles of this ensemble piece, crisscrossing many Londoners’ experience of the events. Read our production news here.

Afire - Christian Petzold (Germany)

Continuing a mythological “trilogy of the elements”, of which 2020’s Undine [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Christian Petzold
film profile
]
was the blue, aqueous-based one, this new feature by Christian Petzold is widely expected to premiere in competition at the Berlinale next month. With Paula Beer returning in the lead role, the early plot summaries are quite cryptic, but key imagery of four, quite horny, young people meeting in a holiday home on the Baltic Sea, in an area troubled by forest fires, is in place. Read our production news here.

La Chimera - Alice Rohrwacher (Italy/France/Switzerland)

Whilst a few first-look, on-set images have been released, even from reading the logline of Alice Rohrwacher’s newie, we can capture the aura of La Chimera: dust, sunlight, antique wood and more dust. Following on from the folkloric feel of her past work, here we delve into the “clandestine” 1980s world of the tombaroli (tomb robbers), and a young English archaeologist (a ‘tache-tastic Josh O’Connor) who gets caught up in their trafficking of ancient finds. Neon has already taken US rights to the film, a good omen with it recently having distributed The Worst Person in the World [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Joachim Trier
film profile
]
, Parasite and Memoria [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
. Read our production news here.

The Perfumed Hill - Abderrahmane Sissako (France/Luxembourg/Mauritania)

One of the contemporary greats of African film, in The Perfumed Hill, Abderrahmane Sissako will delve into the growing economic relationship and people flow between Africa and China, following the romance between an Ivorian woman who settles in the province of Guangzhou and a local tea-shop owner. Expectations will be high for the Mauritanian filmmaker’s first feature since the Oscar-nominated Timbuktu [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
.

La Palisiada [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
- Philip Sotnychenko (Ukraine)

Premiering right around the corner in IFFR’s Tiger Competition, we’ve heard strong initial word about this crime film by rising Ukrainian director Philip Sotnychenko. Taking place in the aftermath of independence from the USSR, it will deal with a forensic psychiatrist and an investigator as they delve into the causes of a policeman’s murder, with the spectre of the country’s high death sentencing rates hanging over them. Read our production news here.

Anatomy of a Fall - Justine Triet (France)

After two frothy star vehicles making use of Virginie Efira’s talents, Justine Triet takes a more serious turn for her fourth feature, whilst still retaining the themes of guilt, transference and mirroring from her past work. Sandra Hüller plays a writer living with her husband and visually impaired son in a remote mountain chalet in the French Alps; after her husband falls to his death, the authorities can’t determine whether it’s suicide or foul play, and the writer is put on trial. Arthur Harari, a current French industry darling, returns from Triet’s prior Sibyl [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Justine Triet
film profile
]
to co-write.

100,000 Light Years - Virgil Vernier (France)

Whilst Virgil Vernier’s past features Sophia Antipolis [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Virgil Vernier
film profile
]
and Mercuriales [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
had quiet premieres in Cannes’ ACID and at Locarno, respectively, they soon found an avid audience via retrospectives and streaming, leading his new one to be one of the most sought-after French features of the year from a rising filmmaker. Starring Zakaria Bouti and Mina Gajovic, 100,000 Light Years will take place in Monaco, a more novel setting for francophone cinema, and inspects a “post-reality TV generation” ensconced in, and besotted with, their privileged lifestyle. Read our production news here.

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