With 160 films from 42 countries in 11 days, 1,00,000 plus visitors for the first time, Dame Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Donald Sutherland and Natalie Dormer in attendance, the ZFF stepped into its 14th year in style and had some fantastic movies on the list. Here is a glimpse at some of them.

The Guilty (Den Skyldige)

Poster of the film The GuiltyShot entirely in a small room with a telephone, computer screen and a couple of tables and chairs and an actor who could bring forth all the drama and suspense, this Danish film was surely among the top favorites screened at the festival.

The plot revolves around a police officer who is taken off the streets due to an official hearing that is pending. He is now restricted to taking emergency distress calls. He chances upon a call from a woman in distress which has him going beyond his line of duty. How he solves this case forms the rest of the story.

The striking part of this movie is how one gets a clear mental picture of what is happening on the other side of the phone call without actually seeing anything. There are references to the pending case against the policeman and that adds up layers. The story is brilliant and has a fantastic twist and it keeps you hooked till the very end. The filmmaker Gustav Möller was inspired by a 911 call he watched on Youtube and worked on the storyline for an entire year. The film was shot in 13 days with a bunch of voice artists and calls being made real time. Jakob Cedergren who plays the lead is a good actor and carries the film all by himself. The voice artists are equally good and literally live the characters through their voices.

Gustav Möller shows that all you need to present a good suspense drama are a tiny room, a telephone, a computer, and a fantastic actor! Definitely worth a watch.

Red Joan

Poster of the film Red JoanThis Judi Dench movie premiered at the ZFF this year. Based on a novel by Jennie Rooney the film explores the life of the ‘Granny Spy’ Melita Norwood, who came to light in the 90’s.

The story starts with the retired Joan Stanley (Judi Dench) being picked up by the MI5 for questioning regarding the role she played in the transfer of nuclear secrets during World War II. The story then alternates between the 1930’s and the present day. The young Joan Stanley meets and falls in love with the Russian Leo at Cambridge University who influences her view of the world. Joan works with a professor who is working on building ‘the bomb’. The horrors of Hiroshima sink in and Joan is now faced with a tough decision – should she betray her motherland for the sake of peace?

Though the movie is slotted under the genre ‘Thriller’ there is the love story between Joan and Leo that runs all through. The movie is a tad slow and presents a very different take on the topic. If you are expecting a spy thriller, you would most likely be disappointed. The story blends the spying portions with the emotions Joan goes through, the events that happen around her which shape her thinking, and the result is a movie that looks at Joan’s actions from a totally different perspective.

Judi Dench makes her roles worth watching and this role is no different. Sophie Cookson who plays the young Joan is good as the shy student who has a mind of her own in spite of the attempts to radicalize her. The move is worth a watch.

(Image credits: Teaser Trailer, IMDB)

This is part 1 in a two-part series.