5. Nana Ekvtimishvili
The country of Georgia is technically a Middle Eastern country in Asia, but arguably has one of the most European cultures in all of Asia. This makes the country interesting from a cultural geographic point of view. Georgia was controlled by the Soviet Union up until early spring of 1991, gaining its independence just months before the Soviet Union collapse.
Afterwards, the subsequent struggles the country faced lingered and became a part of everyday life. Nana Ekvtimishvili’s debut film, In Bloom, is about two girls coming of age in post-Soviet Tbilisi, Georgia in 1992. It was a much needed and important film that shed light on a part of the world not heard from very much.
Born in Soviet Georgia in 1978, Nana Ekvtimishvili gives an insider’s perspective on what it was like growing up in a country struggling with its identity and independence in a difficult time in its history.
The characters in the film are supposed to be around fourteen years of age, which would make them the same age Ekvtimishvili would have been in 1992. This only adds to the authenticity of the film and its character’s lives in Tbilisi, Georgia. The result is a humble film that works great, metaphorically representing Georgia and its struggles, and as a literal story of youth.
There aren’t many Georgian films, but this is a brilliant start.
Nana Ekvtimishvili’s feature films: In Bloom (2013), My Happy Family (2017)
4. Frank Darabont
Becoming famous for The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, Darabont looked as though he would be the next Steven Spielberg or Martin Scorsese. His films are so popular and well received to this day, it is hard to believe that Frank Darabont has only directed four feature films, with only three of which he wrote the screenplay.
He is well known for adapting Stephen King’s short stories and novellas, with three of his films being adaptations. His last film was the Stephen King adaptation, The Mist in 2007. After that, and without explanation, he shifted his focus to unworthy TV Shows and created the shameful disgrace that is The Walking Dead.
Since, Darabont’s best films are so far behind him, it is questionable as to whether or not he would still be able to create the quality films he was once known for. His creative peak may have come and gone, and he may no longer be at the height of his powers (pulling a Coppola). He still has the rights to adapt a few of the other Stephen King stories, and apparently plans on “getting to them” at some point (according to interviews). It would be interesting to see if he’s still got what it takes.
Frank Darabont’s feature films: The Shawshank Redemption (1994), The Green Mile (1999), The Majestic (2001), The Mist (2007)
3. Alexandros Avranas
The Avranas film that stands towering among the others is Miss Violence, which was released in 2013. That film alone lands Avranas a place on this list. The very beginning of the film starts with a tragedy in a family and it is that family’s reaction which seems a bit odd to say the least.
It’s from this opening scene that we know immediately, something is very wrong here. All the following scenes then play out with a sense of dread and the feeling of an unspoken elephant in the room at all times. The characters interact with each other in a rigid and uptight manner throughout these scenes. We know something is wrong but don’t get any immediate answers.
The darkness is slowly revealed as the film goes on and eventually becomes unrelenting. The film devices chosen convey this are subtle, but in a very disturbing and effective way.
Avranas needs to remember how he made this film and apply his greatness to another film.
Alexandros Avranas’ feature films: Without (2008), Miss Violence (2013), Dark Crimes (2016), Love Me Not (2017)
2. Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi
Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi’s film, The Tribe is truly groundbreaking and unique. It is a Ukrainian film that contains only Ukrainian sign-language and no dialogue at all. The film was also intentionally released without any subtitles, so if you go looking you will come up empty handed.
Since not many people even know Ukrainian sign-language, including Slaboshpytskyi himself, interpreters were on set to make sure the all deaf cast were sticking to their script. Another distinctive quality of The Tribe is its long takes. The film is composed of only 34 unbroken takes.
Not only is the film unprecedented and original on s technical level, but it’s actually a good crime drama film in its own right. Even though there is no dialogue, it isn’t hard to figure out what is going on in the plot. It’s a film that treads on the darker side and seems to revel in its raw ugliness. Though the subject matter can get pretty rough, the film always looks beautiful.
Slaboshpytskyi is a very exciting talent to watch for. His next film will be something to watch out for. He just needs to start it.
Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi’s feature films: The Tribe (2014)
1. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s film, The Lives of Others is a compulsively watchable, compelling look into 1980’s East Germany with all its paranoia and dread intact. Upon release, the film was universally acclaimed by critics and audiences everywhere and went on to win the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. The film’s plot is about an agent of the secret police, and his surveillance on a writer and his lover. It’s a fantastic film that rivals Coppola’s The Conversation.
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck then made The Tourist in 2010, which is an American film featuring, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. As you can probably guess, it doesn’t deserve to be mentioned in the same breath.
To end on a positive note, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck is releasing a new German film in 2018 which is also set in the East German era. If The Lives of Others is of any indicator, his next film should be something to get very excited about indeed.
Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s feature films: The Lives of Others (2006), The Tourist (2010)