The Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art have announced that they'll be presenting 29 features and 12 shorts in the 41st edition of New Directors/New Films, running March 21 through April 1). The series, dedicated to "the discovery of new works by emerging and dynamic filmmaking talent," opens with Nadine Labaki's Where Do We Go Now? (see the Cannes roundup). A few notes on the other features:
The Ambassador (Mads Brügger). The LA Weekly's Karina Longworth suggests that Brügger is "sort of the VICE magazine version of Sacha Baron Cohen, as financed by Lars von Trier. His last film was The Red Chapel, an exercise in hidden camera comedy with unusual socio-political stakes, which I put on my top 10 list for 2010." In "his hilarious, troubling new film," Brügger poses as "a diplomat in Africa, a decadent Westerner plundering a third-world nation…. For a six-figure outlay, Brugger is promised a Liberian passport, drivers license and honorary degree, as well as a post as the Liberian ambassador to the Central African Republic."
Breathing (Karl Markovics). See the Cannes roundup. Last fall at the House Next Door, Aaron Cutler heartily recommended it: "Breathing brilliantly fuses pop and art-house filmmaking, which means it's full of surprises."
Crulic: The Path to Beyond (Anca Damian). ND/NF tells us that the "documentary utilizes hand drawn, cutout and collage animation techniques, combined with some very dark humor to create a striking documentary about a young Romanian's hunger strike in a Polish jail."
Donoma (Djinn Carrénard). ND/NF: "Rumored to have been shot for about $200, Donoma announces the arrival of an intriguing new talent on the French scene… Devised, shot (often guerrilla-style) and edited over a period of years, the film is a choral piece that chronicles the romantic destinies of three women, offering a fresh, funny portrait of an emerging French generation."
Fear and Desire (Stanley Kubrick, 1953). For Karina Longworth, "its best scene is an extended encounter between [Paul] Mazursky and a female hostage (played by the sultry, nearly silent Virginia Leith), which is shot through with both cynicism and a twisted sexual energy. It's phenomenally weird, and it makes Fear and Desire more than just a curiosity for Kubrick completists."
5 Broken Cameras (Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi). See the Sundance roundup.
Found Memories (Historias Que Só Existem Quando Lembradas, Júlia Murat). Twitch's Ard Vijn was quite taken with it when he caught it at Rotterdam.
Generation P (Victor Ginzburg). A "terrific Russian film," according to Dan Sallitt: "Based on a 1999 novel by Victor Pelevin, the fast-paced, effect-filled movie tracks a young intellectual's progress through the chaotic post-Soviet years, when he stumbles into the burgeoning advertising business and eventually finds himself manipulating a vast quasi-governmental propaganda machine."
Gimme the Loot (Adam Leon). ND/NF: A "raucous, car-less road trip that is an homage to street-smart kids and New York City. Malcolm and Sofia, two determined teens from the Bronx, are the ultimate graffiti writers. When their latest masterpiece is wiped out by a rival gang, they must hustle, steal and scheme to get spectacular revenge and become the biggest graffiti writers in the city." Headed to SXSW as well.
Good Bye (Mohammad Rasoulof). Cannes roundup.
Hemel (Sacha Polak). ND/NF: Hannah Hoekstra plays "a strong-willed, complicated, and vulnerable heroine who longs (perhaps too much) to connect with her elusive father and ultimately find herself. The film is a powerful investigation of a sexually-empowered woman and her search for physical and intellectual intimacy." Winner of a FIPRESCI award in Berlin.
How to Survive a Plague (David France). Tom Hall for Filmmaker: "Using copious amounts of archival footage that showcases the rich complexity and organization of ACT UP, How to Survive a Plague establishes a vital alternative history of the AIDS crisis, one built by the voices and hard work of everyday people. Through its thrilling blend of archival and interview footage, the film is almost a case study of the ways in which non-fiction storytelling can make history engaging."
Huan Huan (Song Chuan). ND/NF: this "first feature captures the dreams and desires, disappointments and regrets, of a life not fully lived via the title character. In a rural Chinese village, a young woman who is the local doctor's mistress struggles against her family, government bureaucracy and social mores to move away and create a life for herself.:
It Looks Pretty from a Distance (Anka and Wilhelm Sasnal). ND/NF: It's "set in a Polish village effectively cut off from civilization, where rough and impassive Pawel makes a living scavenging for scrap metal. There's bad blood between him and the 'community' (a more spiteful collection of individuals would be hard to imagine), and when he goes AWOL his neighbors loot and vandalize his home. What if he returns? A brooding, almost wordless drama vision of a world in an advanced state of entropy."
Las acacias (Pablo Giorgelli). Cannes roundup.
The Minister (Pierre Schöller). Cannes.
Neighbouring Sounds (Kleber Mendonça Filho). Aaron Cutler at the House Next Door: "From the opening onward, you're in a thrilling filmmaker's hands: A series of still photos of fields and farmers burst forward, led by drumbeat, filling the widescreen frame. This story of how a suburban neighborhood's residents react to their new security guards stands rooted in the past, though what that history is exactly and how it affects each character takes an entire film to figure out."
Now, Forager (Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin). ND/NF: "A quiet tale about the search for integrity and the perfect mushroom." It "follows Lucien and Regina, an urban couple living off the land foraging for fungi in upstate New York with a dream of following the seasonal emergence of exotic varieties across the country. That is, until Regina's decision to take a job in the kitchen of a hip restaurant offers a more solid opportunity, even as it betrays Lucien's off-the-grid ethos."
Omar Killed Me (Roschdy Zem). ND/NF: A "story of racism, politics, and injustice with the clarity of a documentary and the pacing of a thriller. When a rich widow was murdered in the south of France 20 years ago, her Moroccan gardener was convicted and jailed with no evidence; it took a committed journalist to try to unravel the rush to judgment that laid bare the racism that was hidden in the French justice system."
Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier). Cannes and Dan Sallitt.
An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (Terence Nance). Blake Williams caught it at Sundance and wrote for Ioncinema: "Precocious, self-consciously solipsistic, and quixotically ambitious, Terence Nance's distinctive feature debut is a multimedia essay film about relationships — or, really, one of Nance's relationships — that cannot adequately resolve nor communicate the complex angst at its core. It's not for a lack of trying though; Nance employs every trick in his hyper-stylized arsenal to craft a veneer of intellectual auto-critique that is distinctly sprung from Tarnation's self-reflexive school of 'look at my troubles.' Where Caouette found empathy and tenderness, though, Nance only achieves sardonic lecturing." More from Noel Murray (AV Club, B) and Michael Tully (Hammer to Nail). Eugene Hernandez interviewed Nance for a FSLC podcast and Filmmaker has a video interview.
Porfirio (Alejandro Landes). Cannes and Dan Sallitt.
The Rabbi's Cat (Antoine Delesvaux). Adapted from the graphic novels by Joanne Sfar. ND/NF: "Set in 1920s Algiers, a widower rabbi lives with his voluptuous and dutiful daughter and their pesky cat who swallows a parakeet and begins to speak, driving everyone crazy and moving the plot ahead by insisting on having a bar-mitzvah."
The Raid (Gareth Huw Evans). Toronto roundup. The new US trailer's up at the top.
Romance Joe (Lee Kwang-Kuk). ND/NF: "A teasing and pleasing portrait of a filmmaker in search of a story to tell, Romance Joe begins as a young, self-possessed barmaid in a remote inn recalls the time she met the title character."
Teddy Bear (Mads Matthiesen). Sundance.
Twilight Portrait (Angelina Nikonova). Dan Sallitt: "A scorched-earth portrait of Russian society that is almost as corrosive as Balabanov's Cargo 200, Twilight Portrait somehow also manages to evoke Hawks and Sternberg in the way that the traits of calm authority and detached composure pervades its universe."