16 Must Watch International Films That Screened At Various Festivals In 2016

Posted on 23 November, 2016 by Team Wishberry


Image Courtesy: Standard

Festival films have always had an air around them, that made it appear boring or as some call it - artsy-fartsy. While most of them are intense, they all tell stories that everyone would love.

Some of the most amazing international films of 2015 included festival favourites Room, Ida and Spotlight, not only did they sweep away praises at various festivals, they even stole the limelight from mainstream Oscars. 2016 also saw a whole league of gorgeous films at various festivals that ardently stole my heart and I’m certain that they’ll garner some mainstream attention as well.  

Here are 16 films that you must catch in 2016.

Queen Of Katwe


After years of criticism for Disney’s superficial household chore loving fair princesses, Disney came out with a whole line of strong women for young girls to look up to. Queen of Katwe is one of the films whose story simply needed to be told to young girls everywhere.

The film is a true story of a young girl living in the impoverished slums of Kampala, Uganda,  and how her life changes after she’s introduced to the game of chess. Based on the book with the same name by Tim Crothers, Queen of Katwe directed by Mira Nair is the story of Phiona Mutesi’s constant struggle to be a Champion at the World Chess Olympiads.



Elle tells the story of an indestructible businesswoman, who is raped in her home by an unknown assailant. Instead of feeling defeated or helpless she decides to take him down.

Directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by David Birke, the film is based on the novel ‘Oh...’ by Philippe Djian that received the Prix Interallié (National Literary Award). The film received critical acclaim after premiering at the Cannes Film Festival. It also is selected as the French entry for the Best Foreign Language film at the 89th Academy Awards 2016.

La La Land


La La Land starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling is a musical written and directed by Damien Chazelle (who did the screenplay for 10 Cloverfield Lane and Whiplash).  The plot follows a blossoming romance between a jazz musician and an aspiring actress, in Los Angeles.

The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival where Emma Stone won the Best Actress Award. The film also received the Audience Choice Awards at Toronto Film Festival.

The Salesman


Directed by the critically acclaimed Oscar winning director Asghar Farhadi, The Salesman follows the story of a young married couple that are forced out of their apartment. The couple miraculously find a new flat in central Tehran, but life turns upside down when a stranger attacks the wife. Thence the husband sets out on a mission to seek revenge at all costs.

At the Cannes Film Festival, Shahab Hosseini won the award for Best Actor and Asghar Farhadi won the award for Best Screenplay. The film also has been selected as the Iranian submission for the Best Foreign Language Film for the 89th Academy Awards 2016.

The Wailing 


After mind numbingly disturbing The Chaser and The Yellow Sea, Na Hong-jin brings a genre-bending film our way. The Wailing is a horror-thriller-crime film that follows the story of a policeman who teams up with a shaman and a mysterious woman to investigate mysterious killings that has his own daughter involved.

The film won the title of the Best of Bucheon and the Audience Award, at Asia’s largest genre film fest the Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BIFAN).

Sing Street


Written and directed by John Carney, Sing Street is a story of a boy who decides to form a band in order to impress a girl.

The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, opened to critical appreciation but didn’t win any major awards. However, it is one of the most wonderful stories I’ve been consumed by off late.

The film takes you back in time to 1980s Dublin, and is narrated through the eyes of a 14-year-old boy who falls in love while trying to adjust to his new public school.

I, Daniel Blake


Directed by Ken Loach and written by Paul Laverty I, Daniel Blake is a gripping, human tale about the impact one man can make. The film follows the story of a widowed woodworker, failed by the state welfare system, who decides to fight for his dignity and help others struggling with the same problem.

Winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, the moving film also went on to win the Prix du public at Locarno International Film Festival and WAMA Film Festival.



When mysterious spacecrafts begin appearing across the globe, an elite team led by an expert linguist is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, the team races against time for answers.

Written by Eric Heisserer and directed by Denis Villeneuve, Arrival is based on the short story ‘Story of Your Life’ by Ted Chiang. While the film premiered at the Venice Film Festival and went on to screen at many other festivals it didn’t win any awards, but it has been highly appreciated and holds a 93% score on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.5 rating on IMDB.

Under The Shadow


As a mother and daughter struggle to cope with the terrors of the post-revolution, war-torn Tehran in the 1980s, a mysterious evil begins to haunt their home.

Under the Shadow is Babak Anvari’s debut project that premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. It won the awards for Best Screenplay, Best Film and Jury Prize at various film festivals, and has also been selected as the British entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople


After a rebellious kid gets stranded along with his foster uncle in the wilderness of New Zealand, the two become subjects of a national manhunt.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople directed by Taika Waititi, of What We Do in the Shadows fame, is based on the book ‘Wild Pork and Watercress’ by Barry Crump. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and has been critically acclaimed for being fresh, original and ‘majestical’.



Graduation, directed by Cristian Mungiu, focuses on father-daughter relationships. The film is about the compromises and implications of a parent's role in upbringing a child.

Mungiu won the awards for Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival, and he shared it with Olivier Assayas for his film Personal Shopper.



Directed by Pablo Larraín and written by Noah Oppenheim, Jackie is an intimate portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, lived through the iconic First Lady, Late. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. The film places us in her world following her husband's assassination.

The film won the Best Screenplay Award at the Venice Film Festival, where it also premiered.



A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on a train that takes him thousands of miles away from his home and family. After surviving alone for a while, the boy luckily gets adopted by an Australian couple that raise the child. 25 years later, with the help of the Internet the boy sets out on a journey to find his lost family.

Lion, directed by Garth Davis, is based on the real life story and novel, A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley.



Directed by Pablo Larrain, Neruda is a fictional plot around the real character of Pablo Neruda. Beloved poet Pablo Neruda is also the most famous communist in post-WWII Chile. When the political tides shift, he is forced underground, with a perseverant police inspector trying his best to pin him down.

The film first screened at the Cannes Film Festival and is highly acclaimed for its poetic gestures. It also is selected as the Chilean entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.

After The Storm


After The Storm, directed by the multi-award winning and critically lauded filmmaker Kore-eda Hirokazu, narrates the story of an ordinary human trying to clear the air post a storm.

After the death of his father, Ryota realizes that the rest of the family, whom he cut off ties with, have moved on with their lives. Ryota decides to renew ties with his initially distrusting family, and make a lasting place in the life of his young son.

Captain Fantastic


Directed by Matt Ross, Captain Fantastic is the story of a father who has left his consumerist life behind to raise his six kids with a rigorous physical and intellectual education. But, after an incident he is forced to leave his paradise and enter the real world, challenging his idea of what it means to be a parent.

The film won multiple awards at various film festivals including the Un Certain Regard Prize for Best Director, at the Cannes Film Festival. While all critics haven’t received the film in a positive light, I personally thought it is one of the most amazing ‘dad films’ out there.


Bonus Additions:


The film is set entirely in a police truck, during the time after the Egyptian revolutionary protests in June 2013. A number of detainees from different political and social backgrounds are brought together in the confines of an 8M truck. While some are the members of the Muslim Brotherhood, others support the army and some belong to neither of these factions.

Clash directed by Mohamed Diab officially opened the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival and has been selected to represent Egypt at the Academy Awards. The film received critical acclaim and praise; so much that Tom Hanks said that the film will break one’s heart but will enlighten all.


Barakah Meets Barakah

Barakah, a law enforcement officer from a humble background, falls for Bibi, a rebellious Instagram star from a wealthy family. Set in Saudi Arabia, a place where traditions and the law clash with modern technology, the couple attempt to get to know each other better.

The film premiered at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival, making it the first Saudi feature film to premiere at the festival, where it also won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. It has also been selected as the Saudi Arabian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.

Did I miss out on any International film that you caught at a film festival and believe should be a part of the list? Do let me know in the comments below!

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