Film News: FSLC and MoMA’s New Directors/New Films Series; and FSLC’s Art of the Real
By: Ellis Nassour
It’s not only that time of year when theater is booming with holiday audiences and new shows opening every week in order to qualify for award nomination deadlines, but it’s also a great time for film.
Film Society of Lincoln Center [presenters of the annual New York Film Festival] and MoMO are hosting that annual rite of Spring in NYC, the New Directors/New Films series, the 45th edition, through March 27. This festival showcases cine discoveries from emerging talent from around the world. This edition will screen 27 features, several North American premieres and festival award-winners, and 10 shorts.
The Opening Night attraction, Under the Shadow (U.K., Jordan, and Qatar; in Farsi, with English titles], from director Babak Anyan, tells the toll the Iran-Iraq War took on any sense of normalcy and how an Iranian family deals with political intrigue and the trauma of war time. It boasts an outstanding performance by Narges Rashidi, as a mother dealing with crises all around her.
Closing Night’s Cameraperson (U.S.) is the first-time solo feature from much-acclaimed documentary cinematographer Kristen Johnson. She constructs “a visceral and vibrant self-portrait of an artist who has traveled the globe, venturing into landscapes and lives that bear the scars of trauma both active and historic … (and) provides an essential lens on the things that make us human.”
A much-anticipated premiere is The Apostate/El Apostata (France, Spain, Uruguay; Spanish with English titles) from Federico Veiroj, about a black comedy about the attempts of a young man’s “maddening efforts to abandon the Catholic Church … (and) traces in bracing fashion the competing forces of conformity and rebellion, spiritual yearning and carnal desire, at war within us all.”
Among other U.S. entries are Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s Weiner (Sundance Selects) follows the 2013 mayoral election bid of former NY Congressman Anthony Weiner and his attempted doomed comeback. By turns hilarious and Shakespearean in its tragedy, it’s the perfect political film for this insane/inane election year; and Donald Cried, director Kris Avedisian’s “unhinged” first feature, set in R.I. and about a big city financier returning home after 20 years for his gran’s funeral — described as “a brilliant twist on the family-reunion melodrama and the classic buddy comedy.”
The line-up includes films, some co-productions, from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, China, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Portugal, and the UAE.
Screenings will take place at FSLC and MoMa. Schedules with detailed synopses, locations, and ticketing information can be found at www. newdirectors.org and www.filmlinc.org, where you can download the free Film Society app for iOS (iPhone, iPad) and Android devices. Follow the festival on Facebook (facebook.com/newdirectors) and Twitter (@NDNF, #NewDirectors); and @filmlinc on Twitter.
FSLC presents the third edition of Art of the Real, their essential showcase for boundary-pushing nonfiction film, April 8-21. Founded on the most expansive possible view of documentary film, the series features “an eclectic, globe-spanning host of discoveries by artists who are reenvisioning the relationship between cinema and reality.” There’ll be a world premiere, eight North American debuts, and seven U.S. premieres, with many filmmakers appearing in person.
The two Opening Night selections are the world premiere of Ben Rivers’s What Means Something, an intimate portrait of painter Rose Wylie; and Roberto Minervini’s The Other Side, “an indelible, surprising, and often unnerving portrait of Louisianan junkies,” a highlight of Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section.
Closing the festival is the North American premiere of Jumana Manna’s A Magical Substance Flows Into Me, in which the Palestinian artist brings German-Jewish ethnomusicologist Robert Lachmann’s recordings from 1930s Palestine to modern-day Israeli and Palestinian territories, re-creating the songs across communities and cultures.
A number of selections marry nonfiction cinema and the arts, such as José Luis Guerín’s The Academy of the Muses, “a meditation on film, art, and gender via a simulated college seminar about the role of woman-as-muse in art, attended entirely by actresses”; Ruth Beckermann’s minimalist The Dreamed Ones, in which a pair of actors bring to life the tragic love story of two mid-century poets by reading their letters aloud; and Thom Andersen’s The Thoughts That Once We Had, a film inspired by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s writings on cinema.
This year’s festival features a retrospective of Bruce Baillie’s lyrical films that defy traditional form and genre. From autobiographical documentary to cosmic mythology, the retrospective of five programs of short films pays homage to Baillie and recognizes his legacy as a distributor and promoter of avant-garde filmmakers.
Tickets go on sale March 24. Visit www.filmlinc.org for schedules, detailed information, and to purchase discounts with the All Access Pass or the 3+ film package.
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