City Island (2009)

Loyalty is tricky; eventually, everyone must choose between the bonds of family and their commitment to guarded secrets, whether fledgling, dark, or just plain odd. Though everyone wants to preserve their image, they need someone to come and pull the threads that are already unraveling. And sometimes that person, who has the most for which they should feel ashamed, turns out to be the only one who understands the freedom of truth.

Paris, je t’aime (2006)

Multiple accomplished filmmakers and actors lend their talents to a compilation of shorts that each pay tribute to a different section of Paris. You needn’t be familiar with the historic City of Love to enjoy the performances in each well-crafted story. Spanning a variety of styles and genres, this clever project (the original of its kind) depicts a diverse and complex city in way that feels timeless.

Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

People handle internal feelings in different ways. Children, for example, often create imaginary friends. But what happens when an adult latches on to an inanimate object, which is the only thing that can keep him from becoming a recluse? Furthermore, what happens when his eccentric hobby becomes impossible to hide? No one can agree on how to treat a social pariah; reactions vary from disgust—outrage at challenging accepted convention—to patronizing indulgence—fear of confrontation.

This young man’s transformation finally occurs when he feels the safety of a surrounding community, who will love him through an intense period of inner turmoil. When the strong desire to be right clashes with the strong desire to fit in, the most vulnerable becomes collateral damage. However, everyone benefits when they redirect their efforts towards patience and sympathy for someone, who’s trying to work through past trauma and figure out how to grow up.