The Ornithologist (2017)—Portugal
João Pedro Rodrigues wrote and directed this surreal allegory that's loosely based on the life of the 13th century Portuguese St. Anthony of Padua. The movie begins and ends with quotations by the saint, the film is explicitly spiritual (if baffling), and the lead character is named Fernando after Anthony's own birth name. The story starts off simple and straightforward — Fernando is solo kayaking down a remote river looking for rare birds. He dictates his field notes on a recorder. But he then hits some violent rapids, capsizes, is knocked unconscious, and found by two Chinese girls who are lost on their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. When he wakes the next morning he finds himself strung from a tree wearing only his skivvies. And that's just the beginning. There's a deaf and mute shepherd boy, a wild ritual dance with costumes, torches, and his broken kayak in the center of the circle, a dark train tunnel, an abandoned shrine with a white dove, half-naked huntresses on horseback, death, and definitely resurrection. At the end of this story, Fernando, now called Anthony, observes that "there are certain things we shouldn't try to understand. They come to pass and we must believe them." In Portuguese, English, Chinese, Mirandese, and Latin. I watched this film on Netflix Streaming.