(“Lion’s Den,” Argentina)
Gusman has forged a breakthrough performance in her first lead role as an incarcerated mother fighting to keep her young son in Pablo Trapero’s “Lion’s Den.” She has executive produced all of husband Trapero’s films since his “El bonarense” (2002) when they co-founded their production shingle, Matanza Cine.
Krisch is a veteran and highly regarded actor in the Austrian theater scene, where he has been a mainstay in the ensemble of the Vienna Burgtheatre since 1989. As the deeply conflicted Alex in Gotz Spielmann’s “Revanche,” Krisch’s powerful, frequently wordless performance is key to why the film is one of the most hotly tipped in the field.
Michel de Souza
(“Last Stop 174,” Brazil)
For his dramatization of a sensational Rio bus hijacking and the events leading up to it, director Bruno Barreto tapped the talented and intense young De Souza, whose only previous acting credit of note was in Fernando Mereilles’ “City of God.”
(“Worlds Apart,” Denmark)
Mynster comes from good acting genes: Both her mother, Karen-Lise Mynster, and father, Soren Spanning, are among Denmark’s top thesps. The young actor has dove into the deep end of the pool with her feature debut as a girl who was raised in a Seventh Day Adventist family and is forced to question her faith.
Anastopoulos’ exceptional second feature — about a man released from prison and coming to terms with the outside world — was one of the finds at this year’s Berlin Film Festival and established him as the first major voice to emerge from Greece on the world film stage since Theo Angelopoulos.
Having previously labored as a cinematographer on a pair of little-seen comedies, Adamis has been able to exhibit in the cinematic “Correction” an eye for vivid urban realism that’s crucial to the film’s visual drama.
(“Iska’s Journey,” Hungary)
From the first frame, Varga haunts Csaba Bollok’s film about a young homeless girl drifting into a life of prostitution. Another astonishing debut in the field of foreign Oscar submission, Varga’s work earned her best actress honors at the Brussels European Film Festival.
Dvortsevoy prefers to call his previous medium-length and short docs “Life Cinema,” and that’s just the term for his highly regarded Cannes (Un Certain Regard) premiere and debut narrative, “Tulpan.” With an ecstatic camera and bubbling sense of humor, Dvortsevoy’s telling of a lad’s efforts to woo a lass on the Kazakh steppe is one of the year’s major breakthroughs.
(“Our Beloved Month of August,” Portugal)
Gomes made one of the most inventive films to premiere this year’s Cannes (in Directors Fortnight), a unique hybrid of documentary and fiction created spontaneously by Gomes and his tiny crew in the Portuguese hinterland. A former film critic, Gomes has become one of Portugal’s most closely watched young writer-directors.
(“Blind Loves,” Slovakia)
For Juraj Lehotsky’s beautiful doc about several blind people (including blind couples) and their rich lives, vet music video and commercials cinematographer Juraj Chlpik — in only his second feature — creates a fascinating range of looks, from harsh realism to the fantastic, in what has to rank as a visual tour de force.