One of the most powerful documentaries ever made, Oratorio for Prague contains the only footage from the Soviet-led invasion of Prague in 1968. Czech New Wave filmmaker Jan Nemec (A Report on the Party and the Guests) began filming with the intention to document Prague Spring, a celebration of the newfound liberalization of Czechoslovakia, but the film's subject took a dramatic turn when Soviet tanks rolled through the streets. The invasion ended Prague Spring, leaving Nemec blacklisted and Oratorio for Prague banned. Even so, the film was able to have a profound impact. The raw footage represented the first proof that the Soviet Army had not been "invited" into Czechoslovakia and was used in international news reports, screened to a standing ovation in New York, and was sourced for Philip Kaufman's The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988), and featured in Slavoj Zizek and Sophie Fiennes' The Pervert's Guide to Ideology.
In Bela Tarr's celebrated film, the arrival of a couple of bizarre circus attractions--the stuffed corpse of a huge whale and a mysterious character with magnetic powers called The Prince--sparks unrest in a provincial Hungarian town. Although composed of only 39 shots, the mesmerizing camerawork of this complex allegory creates subtle suspense and a lingering sense of dread. "A work of bravura filmmaking" (Village Voice). In Hungarian with English subtitles.
In a mountain hamlet in eastern China, a poor woman faces trial after trial. Sold into marriage as a child, she is left a young widow and enslaved by her mother-in-law, who sells her to a poor peasant. Her second marriage turns out to be happy until fate takes away her husband and son. Now seen as a bearer of bad luck, she becomes a social outcast. When the New Year comes, can this poor woman find any hope in this society? Based on the short story by the prolific Chinese author Lu Xun. In Mandarin with English subtitles.