Bilal Qureshi

Sweden is often described as one of the world's most progressive and equal societies. In a new film called The Square, things aren't as perfectly Scandinavian as they seem.

It's a satire of Sweden's cultural elite set in a modern art museum. An early scene pits an American journalist against the museum's director, and the journalist reads him a confusing, academic-sounding passage he once wrote. Filmmaker Ruben Östlund says the museum director's language is real.

At the height of the Cold War, the United States was also fighting a culture war. To counter Soviet propaganda, the U.S. State Department launched a public relations campaign called the Jazz Ambassadors program, sending Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Dave Brubeck and other leading jazz musicians on tours around the world.

For years Hollywood studios have been targeting movie audiences in India and China. In the past, they'd dub their films into local languages. Now, that strategy is shifting, and filmmakers are beginning to American stories with regional stars.

The new film xXx: Return of Xander Cage opened a week early in India — because it features one of that country's biggest movie stars, Deepika Padukone.

In the heady political maelstrom of the late 1960s, Italian filmmaker Gillo Pontecorvo released one of the most controversial and acclaimed films of modern cinema. The Battle of Algiers was a big-screen recreation of the bloody mid 1950s Algerian uprising against French rule. The film was made on a shoestring budget with non-actors recruited from the streets of Algiers. It told the story of an insurrection against colonialism from the rare vantage point of the colonized. That shift in perspective was provocative enough to lead France to ban the film on political grounds.

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Filmmaker Jacques Audiard bristles when you ask him about news coverage of Europe's "refugee crisis."

"I don't think we really see migrants ... " Audiard says. "It takes a baby washed up on the beach for us to ask: What was his name? It's terrible. I wanted to give them a name; to give them a face."

Shahzia Sikander is one of the contemporary art world's most celebrated stars. She's projecting her hypnotic video installations onto Times Square billboards; she's led exhibitions at major art museums across the world; and she was recognized by the MacArthur Foundation as a "genius" fellow in 2006.

This is an introduction to NPR's Muslim Artists, Now series, which will highlight contemporary Muslim musicians, writers, painters and filmmakers, among others.

In the crowded field of postwar cinema, Satyajit Ray broke through barriers of language and culture to become the most celebrated Indian filmmaker in the West.

Last night was Empire's season finale, and at one of D.C.'s biggest Empire watch parties, a sharply dressed crowd of hundreds is huddled around every flat-screen in The Stone Fish Grill Lounge downtown.

"Here we go! Here we go! Here we go, come on everyone! Round of applause!" shouts one of the hosts for the night. "It's Empire time!"

British actor David Oyelowo has been praised for his chameleon-like ability to embody different accents and roles with confidence and ease.

In a relatively short eight years in Hollywood, the London transplant has assembled an impressive portfolio of supporting roles in films by directors Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan and J.C. Chandor. But it's his performance as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Ava Duvernay's Selma that has cemented his position as a leading man.

Bilal Qureshi has covered the Toronto International Film Festival for several years and, back in Washington, works for All Things Considered.