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ND/NF 2010: "My Perestroika," "The Father of My Children," "Samson and Delilah"

The Auteurs DailyMy Perestroika

Screening Thursday as part of the New Directors / New Films series at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and MoMA are Robin Hessman's My Perestroika, Mia Hansen-Løve's The Father of My Children, Warwick Thornton's Samson and Delilah and Richard Press's Bill Cunningham New York (and here's that roundup).

"It is perhaps unfair that Robin Hessman's My Perestroika found itself competing against so much more headline-worthy fare in this year's US Documentary Competition at the Sundance Film Festival, because it accomplishes its mission with an impressive amount of unassuming grace," writes Michael Tully at Hammer to Nail. "Unfortunately, unassuming grace rarely translates into awards." But it did garner positive reviews, which AJ Schnack rounded up back in January.

"Like a Russian version of Michael Apted's 42 Up, Hessman's doc, which begins and ends with the national rite of the first day of school, observes the lives of five everyman classmates through the juxtaposition of their Soviet childhood home movies (i.e. unofficial history) and old communist documentary footage (the official history) and present-day interviews." Lauren Wissot for Slant: "As an American expat who spent a good part of the turbulent 90s living as an outsider in Leningrad and Moscow, tightrope-walking between cultures during the Cold War's thaw, Hessman possesses an East-West street cred that pays off in spades with her honestly reflective and unselfconscious subjects. A Glasnost-worthy openness shines through every face."

The Father of My Children

When The Father of My Children screened at the European Union Film Festival in Chicago last week, Ben Sachs, blogging for CINE-FILE, called it a "great film, worthy of comparison to the masterpieces of Maurice Pialat, André Téchiné, or Edward Yang."

"[I]t takes a fictionalized look at the touching and tragically true life and death of Humbert Balsan, a French producer who committed suicide in 2005," writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. "Balsan, here called Grégoire and played with allure and a respectful psychological opacity by Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, began his cinematic life as an actor, appearing in Robert Bresson's Lancelot of the Lake, before turning to producing the likes of Claire Denis and Elia Suleiman. To her credit, Ms Hansen-Love doesn't try to explain the mystery that defines everyone, including Balsan, who departs the story midway, leaving his stunned family to sort through his legacy and its sorrow."

In Slant, Andrew Schenker finds it "marks an essential split between a director confidently in charge of her material and a director in constant danger of losing direction." More from Melissa Anderson (Voice), Nelson Kim (Hammer to Nail) and Megan Ratner (Bright Lights After Dark). Earlier: Reviews from Toronto and David Phelps from Cannes.

Update, 3/30: Viewing. Mekado Murphy interviews Hansen-Løve for the New York Times. Update, 4/1: IndieWIRE interviews Hansen-Løve, too.

Samson and Delilah

"In a remote Aboriginal community in central Australia, quiet desperation is rampant and petty brutality a normal means of conflict resolution," writes Brandon Harris, briefly reviewing Samson and Delilah at Hammer to Nail.

Joseph Jon Lanthier in Slant: "[A]s with Steve McQueen's Hunger (coincidentally also the winner of Cannes's Camera d'Or), the corporeal manifestation of socio-ethnic politics is one of Thornton's many visual tools rather than his primary editorial goal. And even when his characters are opportunistically victimized to the brink of severe bodily harm (as well as, in one instance, the brink of plausibility), he observes them with a quizzical, near-painterly eye."

Update, 3/30: Daniel Trilling interviews Thornton for the New Statesman.



"In a matter of days, the full line-up for the 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival (SFIFF) (April 22 to May 8) will be revealed," but "plenty of good stuff has already been announced." Michael Hawley presents "a recap, followed by my personal 20-film wish list for the fest's 2010 edition."

"Striking an optimistic note about the state of non-fiction film, the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival unveiled its 17th year lineup with 170 films from 41 countries (including 20 from the US) slated for 10 different screens in downtown Toronto," writes indieWIRE's Brian Brooks. April 29 through May 9.

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