The best films of 2021 on human rights and social themes on the silver screen one more time. In Chosen by YOU you decide which five cinema highlights of this year, which have not been shown by us before, can be seen in March during the Movies that Matter Festival 2022. Vote for your three favourites and have a chance to win free tickets to the festival.
You can cast your vote until January 15, using the form below.The ballot box is closed. At the end of January we will announce the winning films.
Watch all trailers in the Chosen by YOU YouTube playlist.
In Blue Bayou, writer and director Justin Chon tells the moving and timely story of an American family fighting for their future. Antonio LeBlanc is adopted and of Korean descent. He grew up in a small town located in the Louisiana swamplands. Antonio is married to Kathy, the love of his life, and stepfather to their daughter Jessie. He works hard to provide a better life for his family, but is suddenly forced to face his past when he discovers he could be deported from the only country he’s ever called home.
Three actresses, three children’s rooms, 10 days and 2,458 men. Caught in the Net is a gripping documentary that sheds light on online child abuse. Three adult actresses with a young appearance are instructed, under the guidance of the film team, to pose as 12-year-old girls on various social media accounts. From children’s rooms built in a film studio, they chat and Skype with older men who have contacted the girls online. Five hours after the account was set up, the shocking number of 83 men made contact with the first girl, almost all of whom explicitly spoke or expressed themselves.
Lyuda is a local party leader in Novocherkassk, a city in the south of the Soviet Union. She is a staunch communist who fought for Stalin’s ideology during World War II. When a workers’ strike at the local factory threatens, Lyuda calls for a crackdown on the resistance. But the demonstration is inevitable and her rebellious daughter also sided with the workers. The meeting is severely crushed by the authorities. Witnessing the carnage and panic, Lyuda comes to the horrifying realization that her daughter may have died. Her world view tilts. Despite the blockade of the city, the mass arrests and the authorities’ attempts to cover up the massacre, she desperately searches for her daughter.
While on a peacekeeping mission in the Middle East, three young soldiers, Erik, Roy and Thomas, find themselves on their own when their military vehicle breaks down in the middle of the desert. More and more detached from reality, the soldiers try to keep their cool. However, they lose control of the situation when they meet 14-year-old Khalil, who then refuses to leave. Disastrous events pile up and the soldiers feel compelled to follow the boy into enemy territory in search of water. Their paranoia is slowly but surely increasing. Where does he actually lead them and can they trust him?
The Father is a fascinating portrait of a man who is losing his grip on reality. Anne once again looks for a nurse for her demented father Anthony, who again and again refuses all help. She wants to make sure he’s well taken care of when she’s not around. For Anthony it is no longer clear what is real and what is going on in his head. We experience the story through his eyes and feel his confusion. His familiar environment no longer appears to be so familiar.
FBI informant William O’Neal infiltrates the Black Panther Party of Illinois with the task of keeping an eye on their charismatic leader, Chairman Fred Hampton. Professional criminal O’Neal delights in deceiving not only the Black Panthers, but also his contact, FBI Agent Roy Mitchell. As his political influence grows, Hampton falls in love with fellow revolutionary Deborah Johnson. Meanwhile, O’Neal struggles with his conscience. Will he side with the right side, or will he betray Hampton and the Black Panthers, as ordered by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover?
Director Sam Pollard shows how the peaceful champion of the African-American civil rights movement Martin Luther King Jr was identified by the FBI as a threat to America’s future, shortly after his famous “I have a dream” speech. Using declassified state documents and inspired by the work of historian and Pulitzer Prize winner David J. Garrow, the documentary shows how the FBI, led by J. Edgar Hoover, launched a witch hunt on King. Using archival footage, scenes from Hollywood movies and commentary from historians, publicists and stakeholders, it is revealed how the FBI tried to publicly damage King’s image from the late 1950s until his assassination in 1968.
The Mauritanian tells the true story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who was arrested by the US government for the 9/11 attacks and imprisoned in Guantamo Bay without any form of justice. Just when he threatens to lose all hope, he finds allies in the idealistic lawyer Nancy Hollander and her assistant Teri Duncan. Together, they face countless obstacles in a desperate quest for justice. They are opposed by military prosecutor Stuart Couch, but their controversial plea and evidence ultimately reveal a shocking conspiracy that penetrates deep into the American justice system.
After the economic collapse of her business in rural Nevada, Fern takes a bus to explore the world as a modern nomad. In Nomadland, Chloé Zhao’s third feature, true nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells play the mentors and friends who support Fern as she explores the American West.
Japan, 1944. Trained as an intelligence officer, young Hiroo Onoda is sent to an island in the Philippines just before the American landing. On Lubang, his task is to conduct a guerrilla war until the return of the Japanese troops. The orders he receives are at odds with the official line: do not commit suicide, keep the mission in mind and above all never give up. For the Empire, however, the war is nearly over, for the dutiful Onoda, who refuses to believe his task is done, it does not end until 10,000 nights later. Onoda – 10,000 Nights in the Jungle is a dizzying odyssey about a young soldier who goes to war for his country, only to find himself disfellowshipped as a result.
Indonesia, 1946. Johan is a young Dutch soldier who, together with more than a hundred thousand others, is sent out to put things in order in the Dutch East Indies during the war of independence. Gradually, Johan falls under the spell of the charismatic army captain Westerling, nicknamed The Turk. When the war escalates and The Turk crushes the population’s resistance more and more mercilessly, the line between good and evil becomes increasingly blurred for Johan.
In The Photograph, one photo unleashes a whirlwind of extraordinary stories. Director Sherman de Jesus leaves for New York with a clear mission: to discover the story behind the only photo he has of his grandfather, Juan de Jesus. A black and white portrait of a proud man in a white tropical suit, a real gentleman in the 1920s. Important detail: Juan de Jesus was a Black man. Photographer James Van Der Zee (1886-1983) captured this zeitgeist in tens of thousands of photos. He portrayed Black people as they themselves wanted to be seen: from their best side, in their best suits, as the people they were. The Photograph makes visible what revolution Van Der Zee’s work unleashed and how the ideas of the Harlem Renaissance still live on everywhere in Harlem.
“Mother married a picture of father,” is the opening line of this intimate film. It turns out that it is not the poetic freedom of maker Firouzeh Khosrovani. Her mother Tayi literally married a portrait of Hossein in Tehran, because as a radiology student in Switzerland he could not just travel back to his home country Iran. In voice-over, in addition to Khosrovani’s commentary, we hear letters read aloud and remembered conversations between her parents. In the meantime, we see photos and video material from the family archive. These intimate fragments are interspersed with stylized shots of the maker’s parental home before her birth and during her childhood, where new phases subtly emerge in the changing interior – both in her parents’ married life and in Iranian society.
November 1944. Tens of thousands of Allies and Germans are fighting each other on Walcheren in Zeeland. The paths of a Dutch boy who fights for the Germans, a lost English glider pilot, and a Zeeland girl reluctantly involved in the resistance, cross each other. They are confronted with crucial choices that concern their own and others’ freedom. Central to the film is the ‘The Battle of the Scheldt, which took place in the autumn of 1944 in Zeeland and West Brabant, in which more than 10,000 people lost their lives. This battle, which was decisive for the course of the Second World War, is known as one of the most important and fierce battles in Western Europe.
Television journalist Bas Haan creates his own monster when, in his investigation into the Deventer murder case, he is increasingly drawn into the camp of those who accuse ‘the handyman’ of murder. A media frenzy is the result that turns the life of ‘the handyman’ and his wife into a true nightmare. Dismayed by this ‘trial by media’, Bas decides to fight the conspiracies with the facts, but to his frustration the image turns out to be stronger than reality. He goes to great lengths to reveal the truth: has someone been wrongly convicted by the court or is it an innocent victim?