The kind of pressure a film-maker is under when their first film is showcased in front of people is unimaginable. Very few people get second chances and if the first film does not hit a home run, the future might seem like a blur to them. Here are 15 film-makers who not only constructed a universe of their own in these little stories but also made some of the most sensational films of 2017:

15. A Death in The Gunj | Director: Konkona Sen Sharma

Sometimes, it’s terrible to be a kid. It’s terrible when you are treated in a way that you certainly know isn’t right in the moral sense of being. Watching Konkona Sen Sharma’s A Death in the Gunj is like reading your personal diary from the days of childhood and discovering a beautiful butterfly stuck between the pages of rusted memories. The sad thing is, the butterfly was burnt with a magnifying glass just to become a bookmark in your life. A terrific, understated debut.  

Read the Complete Review Here.

14. Drib | Director: Kristoffer Borgli

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

The world of the internet is supposed to be a hub that enhances the potential of information and connectivity to a simpler and more cohesive phase. Instead, it has been crowded with memes & viral videos that simply blur the line between performance art and a redundant source of bizarre pleasure. In Kristoffer Borgli’s DRIB – a meta-mockumentary that centers around a weird yet hilarious ad-campaign, we see the lines blurring to an extent of viral value. Kristoffer Borgli sells his film as one big advertisement of a snake driving fire into the gas tank. Does it burn things up? No, not really. But it will sure make you wonder what made the snake get into that liquid filled source in the first place.

Read The Complete Review Here.

13. Manifesto | Director: Julian Rosefeldt

German visual artist Julian Rosefeldt lifts, copies and deconstructs the true essence of an experimental-art-house-film to develop something truly fascinating. Hinging on the meaning, presentation, representation, and making of what and how true art is to be construed, Rosefeldt’s film is a ticking time bomb that explodes multiple times and baffles your incomprehensible sensibility. Featuring the uber-talented chameleon – Cate Blanchett, who plays 13 different characters in this 95 mins showcase of enthralling visuals and sharply observed insights, Manifesto is one of its kind.

12. Summer 1993 | Director: Carla Simón

I think the toughest task for a film-maker is to get truly understated and moving performances out of a cast of young people. Carla Simón’s Summer 1993 is essentially a story of an orphaned six-year-old battling loneliness, confusion, isolation and instant change in her life. The feelings and emotions that are almost alien to her at this point and day in her age and the changes are too on the face for her. Simón shows her film through the eyes of two children and their daily play-routine in this beautiful, semi-autobiographical family drama. Achieving great emotional earnestness without succumbing to sentimentality.

Related to Best Directorial Debuts: The 50 Best Films of 2017

11. Scary Mother | Director: Ana Urushadze

Ana Urushadze’s Scary Mother is undoubtedly one of the most unsettling, freakishly bleak,  sordidly surreal and uncompromising film of the year. Showcasing midlife crises in an unexplainable hysteria, Urushadze’s film is about a middle-aged Georgian housewife who’s sudden decision to write a novel changes her entire life and existence with her family. Considered to be filthy by the general consensus, the novel and the film in question have supposedly meta connections to each other. It is incredible daring of Ana Urushadze to makes such a film as her first feature.

10. All You Can Eat Buddha | Director: Ian Lagarde

A lot is served on the hot plate of celluloid vision in Ian Lagarde’s All You Can Eat Buddha. The real question is – How much of it can you digest? Skimming as a holiday getaway until it knocks every convention to become something truly surreal and baffling, Lagarde’s film explores the human complexity and non-complexity in a decaying world. With a talking Octopus & a veil need for unscrupulous gluttony, the film looks into the process of gaining divinity with all the baggage that drags along.

Read The Complete Review Here.

9. Haraamkhor (The Wretched) | Director: Shlok Sharma

There’s a sense of explosiveness that boils up beneath all that’s going on in Shlok Sharma’s Haraamkhor (The Wretched). Like every little secret love affair, the film lies right on the boundary of moral transgression and universal hate. However, Shlok Sharma’s incredible sense of covering the boundaries whilst questioning love, loneliness, and vulnerability evokes subtle greatness that his little film boldly puts on its shoulder like a cape made of wretched cloth pieces. 

Read The Complete Review Here.

8. Custody | Director: Xavier Legrand

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Sorted from the perspective of 12-year old Julien & unfolding in the matter of a few days, “Custody” explores domestic terror right through the gates. Despite playing on familiar notes, French filmmaker Xavier Legrand’s debut feature film about toxic masculinity plaguing the lives of a family brings the terror home. The fear that shadows their life is so intense and real, that watching the film feels like being there besides the camera as the terror takes a toll on you. 

Read the Complete Review Here.

7. Valley Of Shadows | Director: Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen

Norweign film-maker Jonas Matzow Gulbrandsen’s Valley Of Shadows is a moody atmospheric symphony of adolescent confusion.  Overlapping dreams and imaginations with a great understating of grief, loss and a dreaded sense of place, Gulbrandsen’s film talks more with its mesmerizing gothic frames and an eerie, transcendental score by the Polish musical legend Zbigniew Preisner than it does through its petite central character.  However, the images are so powerful that they lurk into your head long after they have blurred into your conscience. 

Also Read: 10 Films From TIFF that Need Your Attention.

6. Lady Bird | Director: Greta Gerwig

Using her incomprehensible maniac, radical energy, Greta Gerwig molds the generic highschool coming-of-age films with an astutely observed love story between a daughter and her mother. In her solo directorial debut, she washes over genre convention with a grand understanding of her environment. Gerwig’s Lady Bird works because it knows that a place (which we never give any importance to, least trying to escape it all the time) builds one’s character more than anything else. 

Related to Lady Bird: Every Noah Baumbach Film Ranked

5. Lady Macbeth | Director: William Oldroyd

Lady Macbeth Directorial Debuts of 2017

Lady Macbeth’s strength lies in its dissolving morality. At times, both – moody & macabre, the film never latches into fake aesthetics and truly trusts its central performance to take you the extra mile. With a mesmerizing turn by Florence Pugh, William Oldroyd swells the period drama with a smart and subtle placing of themes like race, obstinate desires, class division, and violence set in the 19th century. 

Read the Complete Review Here

4. The Levelling | Director: Hope Dickson Leach

The Levelling Best Directorial Debuts of 2017

Grief has become a recurring theme in many indie films in the recent past. It’s astonishing how these young film-makers still manage to find new ways to portray it. The Levelling is about a father & and daughter who are unable to come to terms with the death of a close one. The film is filled with rage and incomparable trauma inflicted by loss under its melancholic & silent edges. In her first film, Hope Dickson Leach tackles in the heavy theme of not being able to accept one’s fate when the universe seems to be playing against you with every other move.

Read the Complete Review Here.

3. Raw | Director: Julia Ducournau

Raw Best Directorial Debuts of 2017

French film-maker Julia Ducornau’s Raw is a chilling body horror about the compromises of growing up. Filmed inside the walls of a veterinary school, the film juggles complicated matters faced by a young girl from the likes of presenting themselves to the world to discussing contemplative questions which differ a human from an animal. The social commentary is however wrapped deep under a cannibalistic horror fantasy that will soon be hailed as a modern horror masterpiece.

Read the Complete Review Here.

2. Columbus | Director: Kogonada

Video-essayist-turned-film-maker Kogonada’s Columbus is really about understanding the aesthetics of life. About understanding what holds us back and what really keeps us going. In only his first film, Kogonada beautifully orchestrated a film that understands how and why empty spaces & architectural backdrops are just as important as a single line of dialogue. The kind of humane, realistic portrayal that he shows with his two lost characters evokes the mastery of modern masters like the Japanese humanist film-maker Hirokazu Kore-eda & the warm sensory feeling of a Jim Jarmusch film. 

Read the Complete Review Here.

1. Hotel Salvation | Director: Shubhashish Bhutiani

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Dying is a process, says one of the characters in Subhashish Bhutiani’s astutely calm and wondrous debut feature film Hotel Salvation (A.K.A Mukti Bhawan). It’s a beautiful contemplation of death and salvation, living and healing, dying and learning. Whoever lodges into the light of Bhutiani’s film can’t come out without being a more real person than they were before. It moves you to an extent where you embrace all the small things that define you or are suppose to define you and celebrate every new entity. Even if it is a loss of something truly yours.

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