Bilal Qureshi

During his four terms in office, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi redefined the norms of Italian society and created a global blueprint for political strongmen. A business tycoon who owned multiple TV channels, Berlusconi governed Italy like one of his media businesses, eventually facing multiple investigations, sex scandals and charges of corruption.

Good morning from Toronto, where the NPR Movies team has decamped for the next seven days or so, as we attend the Toronto International Film Festival, the largest film festival in North America.

In a hypnotic opening dance between two would-be lovers, the new film Birds of Passage immediately establishes that it is in no way a typical Colombian drug-war epic.

Filmmaker Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's debut film, The Lives of Others, won the Oscar for best foreign language film in 2006, bringing the enduring trauma of Germany's recent history to international attention.

Set in East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the film told the story of two artists who are monitored, surveilled and threatened by an East German intelligence officer. It was hailed as a groundbreaking film both abroad and in Germany for its blend of political history and cinematic drama.

In one of the first scenes in Capernaum, the camera flies above the slums of Beirut.

There is no sight of the Mediterranean Sea or the glamour of the so-called Paris of the Middle East. This is another side of the Lebanese capital.

"You're seeing dilapidated buildings, children running around playing with pieces of metals and just whatever they could find on the street, not actual toys," film critic Nana Asfour said.

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