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 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 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 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.
Comedy 1926 79 mins Silent Director: Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton's masterpiece is widely and rightly regarded as one of the greatest comedies ever made.
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)
Drama 2010 109 mins Director: Joanna Hogg
Starring Tom Hiddleston, a family holiday to the Isles of Scilly sees fractures emerge in this sun-filled drama from Joanna Hogg (The Souvenir).
Drama 2013 105 mins Director: Joanna Hogg
Joanna Hogg's sleek and minimalist comedy about a pair of artists and their emotional attachment to their ultra-modernist apartment.
Drama 2006 105 mins Director: Krzysztof Krauze
Timely slice of social realism following a family forced to stay in a cramped relative's flat and the eruption of tensions that ensue.
Drama 2011 94 mins Director: Wojciech Smarzowski
Agata Kulesza (Ida) won the Polish Academy Award for Best Actress for this devastating tale of wartime survival and shared trauma.
Thriller 2018 102 mins Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska
Agnieszka Smoczyńska’s follow up to The Lure (2015) is an unsettling, gripping psychodrama about a woman trying to rebuild her family life after two years' absence with severe memory loss.
Animation & Artists Moving Image 2020 88 mins Director: Mariusz Wilczynski
This nightmarish, haunting and beautifully poetic animation is a deeply personal tale from self-taught animator Mariusz Wilczyński that was 15 years in the making.