A reckoning has occurred for cinephiles, especially over the last year when most public cinema spaces have remained closed or inaccessible: It’s a streaming world and we are just living in it, trying to watch movies. However, it can be difficult to find good movies to watch amongst the over-stuffed, yet under-nourished libraries and catalogues of even the most popular home viewing providers. Just ask anyone who has killed an evening in that quintessentially modern wild goose chase: endlessly scrolling through a streamer’s gallery of poster art, hunting for something appealing to watch. It’s easier finding a vaccine appointment.
In a recently published essay, the legendary director and indispensable cinema historian Martin Scorsese laments those streaming services who have taken up the reductive habit of labeling all moving images as “content,” whether it is “a David Lean movie, a cat video, a Super Bowl commercial, a superhero sequel, a series episode.” Bemoaning the typical streamer’s reliance on unreliable algorithms to make viewing decisions, Scorsese suggests that this lack of sensible, knowledgeable, and personal curating has led to the devaluation of the art and history of cinema. As Scorsese puts it, “curating isn’t undemocratic or ‘elitist,’ a term that is now used so often that it’s become meaningless. It’s an act of generosity—you’re sharing what you love and what has inspired you.”
In this guide are the films our team of curators have loved and been inspired by in this distinctly unlovable year. They’ve been rays of light for us, and hopefully they will be for you, too. These new selections are often in dialogue with great movies chosen from across all eras of international cine- ma history. We’re grateful to share these discoveries with an audience of equally passionate moviegoers, who themselves become inspiring recommenders of cinema. Now, the 100+ movies in this guide are yours to react to, wrestle with, and, if you like, tell a friend about.
We all know it’s been a long, weird year since the 2020 fest was canceled. But spring is here, and there may just be a light at the end of the tunnel. For those of us lucky enough to get out unscathed, the time has arrived to start pulling ourselves back together. To clear the cobwebs from our minds and challenge ourselves a bit. Now that we are all finally regaining our sanity and hope, let’s invest our mental energy into films that awaken and reward our attention and humanity. Let’s remem- ber what it feels like to discover fresh, inspiring, and truly original global cinema—whether from 2021 or 1934. With any luck, we’re going to start seeing people in real life (and real theaters) again soon. We might as well have an interesting movie to talk about.
Jim Healy, Director of Programming
Mike King, Senior Programmer