Elias Elhardt’s 5 Favourite Recent Films

Elias Elhardt, Innsbruck, June 2019. Photo: Theo Acworth

“Film is something so momentarily and personal, that I find it impossible to pick and choose the best films I’ve seen in any objective way. So I’ve chosen films that at one point of my life left a lasting impression, and are closely connected to where I was at in that given moment.

I guess that’s what good films do. Offer a vivid expression of thoughts and feelings that are stuck inside, looking for a way to reveal themselves”.

1. Moonlight

“A young African-American man grapples with his identity and sexuality while experiencing the everyday struggles of childhood, adolescence and burgeoning adulthood.

The incredible interplay of imagery, sounds, acting and storytelling made this one of the best-made films I’ve seen. It’s a sincere and tangible story that is touching on a substantial level. It also explores vulnerabilities that I believe we all carry, and the barriers that we build around ourselves to protect them. The film incapsulates the struggle and rawness behind a longing to be accepted and to be held. I recently re-watched Moonlight and remembered how moved I was the first time I saw it in the cinema”.

Watch it in full here.

2. Virunga

“Having first heard of the director Orlando Von Einsiedel through the Looking Sideways podcast, I definitely want to mention Virunga here. A masterpiece by the director, who’s been a professional snowboarder and then moved into filmmaking, with an amazing ability to tell meaningful stories that truly leave an impact on the world.

For Virunga, Orlando’s initial curiosity to tell a story of the rangers of Virunga National Park in Congo develops into an incredibly intense situation, where regional power conflicts fueled by an international oil corporation led to the verge of a civil war around the territory of the National Park.

Through this film, Orlando exposes the dynamics of a modern form of colonization and the ongoing exploitation of the region, as well as the will and power of strong minded individuals to battle them. Through his film, Orlando was able to spark an entire campaign and awareness on an issue that wasn’t on the radar by many, which lead to a huge positive change for the region”.

Watch it in full here.

3. Blood Brother

“In Blood Brother, young director Steve Hoover follows his best friend Rocky as he bonds with a village hostel housing AIDS-afflicted children in India.

There Rocky finds a life of purpose, and the meaningful relationships that he struggled to find in his previous live back in the US, building bonds to the locals that are incredibly strong and vulnerable at the same time.

I was blown away by how the very inexpensive and basic production created such a powerful story, something the majority of glossy productions struggle to emulate.

It showed me that the narrative story is by far the single most important element of a good film”.

Watch it in full here.

4. Salt of the Earth

“This film caught me in a very particular situation and time of life. I was travelling back from the USA and for some random reason found myself upgraded to business class. Flicking through the inflight entertainment, I watched Salt of the Earth: a film that showcases the darkest places of humanity through the eyes of a photographer and his ability to capture all the pain and suffering of our world in a picture. It follows his struggle to witness the suffering while leaving a positive impact and documenting all the profound beauty he sees in the world.

Watching this film while sitting in the comfortable airplane chair was a brutal reminder of the world that’s out there, and of how conflicted I was with my life and role as a professional snowboarder. It was moments like this that reinforced my longing to contribute and gave me direction”.

Watch it in full here.

5. Birdman

“A superhero actor attempts to revive his fading career by writing, directing and starring in a Broadway production.

I have never seen anything that so well reveals the toxic dynamics that a life in the spotlight can bring. By following the actor on his mission, who’s haunted by the projections of others and his longing “to be someone”, the film blends what’s ‘staged’ and what’s ‘real life’ into an incredible montage.

I suppose given the world of social media that we move within, and also as a professional athlete, Birdman resonated with me as a powerful study into the superficial world of recognition”.

Watch it in full here.