10 films to watch at Borderlines 2024

What to look out for at the annual bonanza of world cinema in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Malvern and the Marches.

20 February 2024

By Faye D. Effard

Io Capitano (2023)

The UK’s largest rural film festival, this year’s Borderlines takes place in 23 venues across Herefordshire, Shropshire, Malvern and the Marches from 1 to 17 March. Described as a “broad exploration of the human experience”, the programme is made up of 68 titles split into 10 thematic strands, including Holocaust, Seeking Refuge, Afterlife and New British Talent. There are lots of avenues, genres and feelings to explore, but here are 10 of the most eye-catching films on offer.

La chimera 

Director: Alice Rohrwacher

Enigmatic and intriguing, the newest drama from Italian magic realist director Alice Rohrwacher features lead Josh O’Connor as rugged archaeologist gone jailbird Arthur, newly released and coming home to reconnect with his ex-crew of drifting graverobbers. La chimera was inspired by the director’s own experience growing up in Tuscany in the 1980s, and this location provides the perfect setting for a story underpinned by elements of fantasy, magic and spirituality. A cool, deliberately winding story touches on themes of grief, memory and heritage, also toying with ideas of morality and the soul. Layered with a warm sense of community, it’s a transcendent drama with something unique to say.


Director: Luna Carmoon

Hoard (2023)

Making her directorial debut, British filmmaker Luna Carmoon’s social realist psychodrama centres on Maria, a young girl living alongside her hoarder mother Cynthia before being taken into foster care. Chronicling Maria’s life into adulthood, the film uncompromisingly explores her complicated feelings, twisted desires and behaviour following the arrival of another child from the same foster family. Strange but compelling, Hoard chronicles the harsh realities of a mother-daughter relationship marked by trauma, grief and mental illness. The alluring romanticism frames how childhood experiences can drag on into adult life.

Robot Dreams

Director: Pablo Berger

In an animated New York in the 1980s, an anthropomorphic dog named Dog yearns for a friend, and finds one in a robot named Robot. Spanish director Pablo Berger makes a departure from his live-action features to bring us an eccentric tragicomedy following the two as they find and then lose one another. For a film with no dialogue, the story brims with emotion, revelling in the soul and nostalgia of the 80s, while delivering a quietly heart-rending love story.

Io Capitano

Director: Matteo Garrone 

Receiving a 13-minute standing ovation after its premiere at the Venice Film Festival last year, Io Capitano tells a story inspired by migrants who take routes through Africa to reach Europe. From the perspective of Seydou and Moussa, two Senegalese teenagers, we follow their treacherous journey from Dakar to Italy to escape poverty. From director Matteo Garrone, whose work so often focuses on the defeat of his protagonists, this is a tale of determination and hope, elevated by two remarkable lead performances.

The Goldman Case 

Director: Cédric Kahn 

For anyone seeking out another calculating French legal drama to follow Anatomy of a Fall (2023) and Saint Omer (2022), look no further than Cédric Kahn’s film about the case of Pierre Goldman, a far-left political-outlaw appealing two murder convictions. Goldman defends the notion of breaking laws in the name of justice and political right, famously refusing to bring any witnesses to his defence. “I’m innocent because I’m innocent,” he declares. Kahn capitalises on his showmanship in the otherwise controlled court system, bringing to light the fractious relationship with his lawyer Georges Kiejman. Intense, fast dialogue draws out the most electric moments from a well known event in French history, making for an exhilarating court drama that’s also a pertinent examination of institutional corruption.

The Delinquents

Director: Rodrigo Moreno

One of the young members of the so-called ‘New Argentine Cinema’, Rodrigo Moreno brings us his new genre-bending heist-comedy-drama The Delinquents, telling the story of an employee’s plot to rob the bank he works for. The plan is to recruit his co-worker to guard the money while he is in jail, all in a bid to split the loot once he is released. Moreno chooses long, cinematic shots and an observational perspective, closer to slow cinema than anything you would expect from a heist movie. Yet the components come together for a charmingly surreal experience.


Director: Hirokazu Koreeda

Monster (2023)

“Who’s the monster?” young Minato sings to himself in this intricate, non-chronological Japanese drama. It’s a film that draws the audience in so close that we are forced to ask ourselves the same question. Monster is a carefully unfurling story of a mother who fretfully confronts a teacher after her son begins to behave strangely. The events are told and retold in three parts: from the point of view of the mother Saori, the teacher Hori and the son Minato. A nuanced exploration of identity, truth and perspective, the film has already won the Queer Palm and the Best Screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival. The swan song score from the late Ryuichi Sakamoto draws the film together as a symphony of mood and morality.


Director: Paul Sng

Having previously made documentaries about Sleaford Mods and Poly Styrene, director Paul Sng this time paints an intimate portrait of photographer and mother Tish Murtha. Led primarily by her daughter Ella, we learn how Tish dedicated her career to photographing working-class life in north-east England during the Thatcher era, doing remarkable work in capturing the spirit of local children. While capturing the injustice of the time, what makes this documentary so special is the way it shows how Murtha’s own life was confined by her social status – which both provided her with precious insight into the lives she documented, but also held her back from other opportunities. Art, family and legacy underline the political commentary at the heart of her work, and the film is a touching tribute to a unique and underappreciated artist.

Goodbye Julia

Director: Mohamed Kordofani

Formerly an aviation engineer, debut director Mohamed Kordofani has made the first Sudanese film to feature in the Official Selection at the Cannes Film Festival. Taking place before, during and after South Sudan gained independence, this political, romantic drama follows Mona, a retired singer experiencing a cycle of grief and guilt after she covers up her responsibility for a murder, and her decision to befriend the wife of the man killed. The relationship between the women contrasts with the ethnic and religious conflict in the country with surprising intimacy. This is an up-close and personal story, whose tension builds into a gut-wrenching climax.

Victims of Sin

Director: Emilio Fernández

This restoration of a unique melodrama-musical from 1951 is screening as part of the festival’s Mexican Film Noir strand. Ninón Sevilla stars as Violeta, a cabaret dancer who saves an infant she finds abandoned in a rubbish bin, giving up her career to raise the child herself. Her employer, club-owner Rodolfo (Rodolfo Acosta), becomes enraged by this decision, and even more so by her romantic relationship with rival club owner Santiago (Tito Junco). The rivalry is what drives this outrageously high drama through moments of both joy and tragedy. A mix of dance, music and murder, Victims of Sin is the work of one of the most renowned directors in Mexico’s golden age, collaborating with one of its greatest cinematographers: Gabriel Figueroa.