Watchlist: Curators' Picks - Remote Locations

reese witherspoon with hiking bags in the middle of some mountains
10 Jul 2020

To mark the release of Icelandic psychological drama-thriller A White White Day, our cinema curators have picked their top films set in the remotest locations.

The striking Icelandic psychological drama-thriller, A White White Day, is available to watch on our new streaming platform, Barbican Cinema on Demand from Fri 10 Jul.

The film follows the story of Ingimundur, a cop on compassionate leave due to the recent death of his wife. As time passes, Ingimundur begins to suspect that a local man was having a secret affair with his wife. Filmed in Iceland, the country’s beautifully remote and eerily silent roads add to the unique atmosphere, helping to create a quiet dread that gradually builds to the explosive ending.

To mark the release of A White White Day our cinema curators have picked their top films set in the remotest locations.

Tamara Anderson: Post Tenebras Lux (2012) on YouTube

In truth, this isn’t an easy film to recommend – not because I don’t love it, I do! – but being so tricky to summarize and describe, it’s hard to explain just what it is exactly I’m suggesting you watch. Broadly, it’s about a middle-class couple who up sticks from the city, moving with their two small children to rural Mexico. What it is, undeniably, is gorgeous to look at: the landscape photography has a vivid, almost hallucinatory, quality and the family’s remote mountainside home (the director’s own) has heavy Elle Décor appeal.

Watch the trailer.

a still from post tenebras lux

Sonia Zadurian: Wild (2014) on Netflix

Based on the New York Times bestselling memoir of the same name, the film follows Cheryl (Reese Witherspoon) as she hikes over a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail in the US; without training and utterly alone. Witherspoon carries the film brilliantly, but it is Jean-Marc Vallée’s delicate and inventive direction that makes this one quite so compelling. Just as he did for Big Little Lies and Sharp Objects, here Vallée takes another complex, female driven drama and illustrates the lead character’s interior world wordlessly, with seamless transitions to memories in the form of flashbacks.

Watch the trailer

reese witherspoon with hiking bags in the middle of some mountains

Alex Davidson: Daughters of the Dust (1991) on Curzon on Demand / BFI Player

In 1902, three generations of Gullah women, descendants of West African slaves, living on an island off the coast of South Carolina, consider an imminent migration to the mainland in Julie Dash’s beautiful, contemplative masterpiece. The remoteness of the island created a beautifully preserved world of Gullah culture, inspired by the traditions of the women’s ancestors. The film’s powerful musings on history, heritage, resilience and resistance, excellent performances and extraordinary visual flourishes create a unique piece of cinematic storytelling. It also went on to inspire Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade.

Watch the trailer

two women wearing white gowns next to big trees

Gali Gold: Of Gods and Men (2010) on Curzon Home Cinema / Amazon / YouTube

A monastery at the heart of the Atlas Mountains in northern Algeria is the backdrop of this emotive drama. It follows a small group of French Cistercian monks who face a growing threat from Muslim fundamentalists. Religion, nationalism, fundamentalism and a generous amount of humanism play out in Xavier Beauvois film, based on a true story taking place during Algeria’s turbulent 1990s. Its melodramatic tunes might be overstated but the human tragedy on the backdrop of breath-taking remote surroundings, resonates long after its sombre end. 

Watch the trailer

two men looking at each other against a backdrop of nature

Susie Evans: Abominable (2019) on Amazon / YouTube

This film has been a real favourite of my kids during lockdown and has helped us settle many a ‘what to watch next’ argument. The story follows a group of young friends travelling to the Himalayas to return a lost yeti to his family. Their journey is infused with magic and music, the animation is spectacular and the talented voice cast raise what could have been a generic ‘overcoming your fears’ narrative into something much deeper and heartfelt. Age recommendation: 5+

Watch the trailer

an animated white fluffy creature

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