Hello all, and I guess by the time this goes up, happy lunar new year too!
The topic of underexposed (undistributed) favourites is an interesting one. In terms of exhibition, personally, I'm quite an infrequent cinema-goer. Since, fortunately, many of my favourites from last year were from festivals, foreign region DVD releases, quick-strike screenings or even in classrooms. And in this respect I can relate to much of what Harry and Andrew have said so far. Theatrical distribution has become less important, due to the health of other channels. If this is a good or bad trend in more general terms is, however, something I'm not sure about.
I covered the moralistic film angle in my summary for the Notebook poll, so I should single out my pick of the bunch. This was definitely Jiang Wen's The Sun Also Rises. Like Jiang's other two films, its technically superb -- a masterclass in settings and performances -- but is never short of mesmeric in its creativity and infectious energy, not to mention violently funny in an absurdo-surrealist way. As far as I know it was screened twice in the UK, both times at the BFI Southbank (a recommended venue for those yet to visit) in a specialised run called 21st Century Chinese Cinema programmed by Tony Rayns.
The other title I feel deserves another shout is Kornél Mundruczó's Delta, which was a London Film Festival screening. I've no idea about the future status of its distribution, but I do hope that it does not slip away. Its a real treat that takes its time, and will be liked by fans of Bela Tarr or Terrence Malik.
Out of the other films mentioned here, I second Andrew on Johnnie To's Sparrow. And surely it would be a safe bet for picking up, To's marketability (to use an ugly word) must be pretty established by now. And if not it really should be! A friend of mine in the UK is thinking of doing the same. And as usual Harry's selection contains several films I regret having not seen, due either to their unavailability or of my own volition. Raya Martin sounds intriguing and I've enjoyed reading about him through Harry and Alexis' writings, I hope his films get a some light here soon.