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Indie frenzy

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Once you've seen big-name features like "The Human Stain," starring Nicole Kidman, the film festival's list of nearly 100 films from 50 countries can be a little overwhelming. That's why we've done the hard work for you and highlighted our top 10 "must-see" movies--so you can spend less time picking flicks and more time watching them. All tickets are $8-$10.

"My Life Without Me" (Spain/Canada)
The spectacular cast (including Sarah Polley, Alfred Molina and Deborah Harry) and backing of Pedro Almodovar ("Talk to Her") is reason enough to see this movie about a woman (Polley) who starts living life on the edge after finding out she has a terminal disease. 9:15 p.m. Oct. 10 at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema; 3:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at Music Box Theatre.

"Dark" (U.S.)
University of Chicago student Dark Freeman is an outcast, unable to fit in among the privileged smart set on campus or the users and losers along gritty 79th Street. Directed by Chicagoan D.A. Bullock. 9:30 p.m. Oct. 13; 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15; 4:45 p.m. Oct. 16 at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema.

"At Five in the Afternoon" (Iran)
This film by 23-year-old Samira Makhmalbaf, the first foreign film shot in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban, won the Jury Prize this year at Cannes. It's the story of Noqreh, a young Afghani woman divided by her fundamentalist family's wishes and her desire for success in the secular world. 7 p.m. Oct. 11 at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema; 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at Music Box Theatre.

"Distant" (Turkey)
This riveting and visually stunning film won Cannes' Best Director and Best Actor awards and the International Critics' Film of the Year prize. When urbanite Mahmut has to put up his country bumpkin relative Yusuf, his perfectly ordered life starts to unravel. 9:30 p.m. Saturday; 7 p.m. Oct. 10 at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema.

"Mambo Italiano" (Canada)
Twenty-seven-year-old Angelo swears "there is no fate worse than being gay and Italian." When he moves in with his boyfriend, gorgeous cop Nino, he tries to pull it off without his immigrant parents finding out about his sexuality. As touching as it is hilarious, this film takes fresh approach to your typical romantic comedy. 9:15 p.m. Friday; 6:15 p.m. Sunday at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema.

"Japanese Story" (Australia)
Toni Collette stars as a geologist stranded in the unforgiving Australian desert with an uptight Japanese businessman. Fighting the elements and facing death, they wander deeper and deeper into the wilderness. You'll be surprised at how the journey ends. 9:15 p.m. Sunday at Music Box Theatre; 6:45 p.m. Oct. 9 at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema.

"Kops" (Sweden/Denmark)
"Fargo" meets "Reno 911" in this hilarious parody of Hollywood's action-extreme view of law enforcement. 7:15 p.m. Friday, 9 p.m. Sunday at Music Box Theatre; 6:45 p.m. Tuesday at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema.

"A Thousand Months" (Morocco)
In this nuanced satire, 8-year-old Mehdi lives with his mother and grandfather in a small village, unaware that his father is behind bars for having instigated a labor strike. As Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, approaches, and the influences of world tensions surface, Mehdi and other villagers may see their customs and traditions disappear. 6:30 p.m. Tuesday; 4:30 p.m. Oct. 8, 9 p.m. Oct. 9 at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema.

"Broken Wings" (Israel)
A multiple-festival award-winner, "Wings" focuses on a grief-stricken Haifa family coping with the sudden death of its patriarch and struggling to make ends meet. Alternatingly sad and bittersweet, the drama will remind you that heartache--and humor--is universal. 5 p.m. Oct. 12 at Music Box Theatre; 6:45 p.m. Oct. 14 at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema.

"Chokher Bali-A Passion Play" (India)
Binodini (Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai) is a sophisticated, sensual young widow who yearns for personal freedom amid the suffocating patriarchy of turn-of-the-century colonial Bengal. 9 p.m. Oct. 9 at Landmark's Century Centre Cinema; 6 p.m. Oct. 11, 1:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at Music Box Theatre.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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