One of the highlights on New York's annual cinematic schedule is the New Directors / New Films series that Film at Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art co-present every March, but like so many things in this best-put-behind-us year called 2020 this year's edition got the boot. But turns out they only kicked it down the road a spell, for today they have announced this year's line-up, which will screen virtually from December 9th through 20th. Hooray! The entire line-up, which includes 24 feature films and 10 shorts and which span the entire globe, can be seen at this link here -- tickets go on sale on November 23rd.
What do I want to see, you ask? Well how kind of you to think of me. Per usual it's a lot to take in -- a couple of the films, like Boy's State and Babyteeth, have already been released online and so we're familiar with those, but this fest more than many, centering as it does on new voices, always challenges one to take risks, be daring with your choices. Because who the hell knows? That said here are five titles that immediately caught my eye. (Click on the film's titles to get more succinct descriptions of what the movies are actually about then what my ramblings offer, per usual.)
Twelve Thousand (dir. Nadège Trebal) -- I know this film's leading man Arieh Worthalter from the horror film Hunted, which I reviewed just a few weeks ago when it screened at the Nightstream Fest, and that's enough to sell me. In case the fact that I have posted his photo twice in this post doesn't clue you in I like him, and this movie sounds like a real showcase -- they call it "a star-is-born performance." I suspect we'll see lots of Arieh soon. He's got a great, camera-loves-it face. (I might add this movie sounds hella horny.)
Kala azar (dir. Janis Rafa) -- A lot of the line-up this year sounds like it's set in weird science-fiction alternate-reality semi-dystopias and, uhh, that seems about right. This one from Greek filmmaker Rafa sounds especially strange, following a couple who ceremoniously cremate people's pets in a world where pets and people share equal standing. Anyway this one also sounds horny and I'm also drawn to its leading man (Dimitris Lalos) so here we are.
The Killing of Two Lovers (dir. Robert Machoian) -- I will admit this one grabbed my attention because it's an American film! And I hope you know it's not that I'm being blinded by my patriotism or anything -- it's just ND/NF really doesn't choose American films all that often, so when they do they stand out for a change! (This and the doc Boy's State are the only US films this year.) Killing is set in Utah and stars Clayne Crawford (the dude who got fired off of the Lethal Weapon TV series for being an abusive asshole, so...) as a "husband and father trying to keep it together while seething with rage during a trial separation from his wife."
Atlantis (dir. Valentyn Vasyanovych) -- Another dystopian hellscape, this time from the war-torn Ukranian region called Donbass. In the small span of their description the film is described, and I quote, as "a debut of remarkable formal precision," "urgent yet highly controlled," and "a series of distanced, compositionally rigorous frames." And if you're at all familiar with Things I Love then you know this all sounds right up my alley.
Red Moon Tide (dir. Lois Patiño) -- I was sold on that image above alone! Who doesn't want to see the movie that contains that image? My god. Of course, similarly to what I just said about Atlantis above, this film is described as "a series of exquisitely composed tableaux that turn images of everyday lives into the mythical" and so, again, I say hello me.
There are several others that I hope to see as well so please do check out their entire line-up at the link. Like, they have Aneil Karia's film Surge starring Ben Whishaw listed, but I didn't include it here because I'm not entirely sure it's actually not a mistake? On the "yes" side it was part of their line-up when ND/NF was originally announced back in March, but on the "no" side it's not included in the formal press release they sent out today. Could it be a slip-up? I don't know. But obviously "anything starring Ben Whishaw" is always worth seeing so if that is actually screening, it's on the list too.