Nine emerging female helmers will have their works featured at the 43rd New Directors/New Films at the Film Society of Lincoln Center and The Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.
Women-directed films will bookend the festival, with Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night serving as this year’s opener and Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard’s 20,000 Days on Earth closing it out. Another female-created work, Gillian Robespierre’s Obvious Child, will be the Centerpiece Film.
“A festival like New Directors/New Films strives to be at once diverse and cohesive,” explained Dennis Lim, who led the ND/NF programming efforts. “This year’s lineup represents a wide range of styles, voices, interests, and points of view, but it also amounts to a statement on what truly matters in world cinema today.”
The 27-feature festival will run March 19-30.
Scroll down for the list of female-directed ND/NF selections. Descriptions are courtesy of the FSLC.
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Ana Lily Amirpour, USA, 2014, DCP, 107 min.
This super-stylish and spellbinding Persian take on the vampire genre doubles as a compact metaphor for the current state of Iran. Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut feature guides us on a dreamlike walk on the wild side, into the nocturnal and sparsely populated underworld of “Bad City,” an Iran of the mind that nevertheless rings true. In a cool and brooding scenario that involves just a handful of characters, an alluring female vampire stalks potential victims with a judgmental eye — but isn’t immune to romantic desire when it presents itself in the form of a young hunk who’s looking for a way out of his dead-end existence. With to-die-for high-contrast black-and-white cinematography and a sexy cast that oozes charisma, horror has seldom seemed so hot.
Persian with English subtitles
Wednesday, March 19, 7:00pm & 8:00pm – MoMA
20,000 Days on Earth (Closing Night)
Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard, 2014, U.K., DCP, 95 min.
This unclassifiable immersion in the twilight world of polymath musician Nick Cave is a portrait worthy of a great self-mythologizer. In their feature debut, artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard combine footage of Cave and the Bad Seeds recording their 2013 album Push the Sky Away with alternately telling and teasing scenes that fall somewhere between fact and fiction. As Cave visits a shrink, digs into his archives, and reminisces with friends (like Ray Winstone and Kylie Minogue) who pop up in the backseat of his Jaguar, 20,000 Days on Earth evokes Godard’s One Plus One and Todd Haynes’s I’m Not There in its playful deconstruction of stardom and identity. This enthralling film offers a glimpse of an icon at his most exposed, even as it adds another layer to his legend. A Drafthouse Films release.
Sunday, March 30, 7:00pm, 9:30pm – FSLC
Obvious Child (Centerpiece Film)
Gillian Robespierre, USA, 2014, DCP, 83 min.
A girl walks into a bar… and starts telling jokes about her vagina and her boyfriend. But it turns out the joke’s on her: the boyfriend’s been sleeping with her friend, and he takes advantage of her public, extremely off-color verbal antics to dump her. Basting in misery (she’s also about to lose her job) and alcohol (with a gay wing-man on hand to enable her), she attempts to find solace in family, friends, more stand-up, and ultimately a casual hookup. What comes next (no spoilers here) represents a brave new frontier in comedy, and director Gillian Robespierre tackles it head-on, with side splitting results. Truly a “choice” comedy, the film features a star-making lead performance by Jenny Slate, who allows herself to laugh along with the joke called life. An A24 release.
Thursday, March 27, 9:00pm – MoMA PS1
Saturday, March 29, 3:00pm – FSLC
Jennifer Kent, Australia, 2014, DCP, 95 min.
Young widow Amelia lives with her seven-year-old son, Samuel, who seems to get odder by the day. His father’s death in an accident when driving Amelia to the hospital to give birth to him may have something to do with the boy’s unnerving behavior, which scares other children and perhaps even his own mother. But when a sinister children’s book called Mister Babadook mysteriously appears — and keeps reappearing — Amelia begins to wonder if there’s a presence in the house more disturbed than her son. Jennifer Kent’s visually stunning debut genuinely frightens us with the revelation that the things that go bump in the night may be buried deep inside our psyches, not just in the basement. An IFC Midnight release.
Satuday, March 22, 9:30pm – FSLC
Sunday, March 23, 9:00pm – MoMA
Mouton (Sheep) – U.S. Premiere
Gilles Deroo & Marianne Pistone, France, 2013, DCP, 100 min.
Mouton (“Sheep”) is the nickname of Aurelien (David Merabet), who at 17 is granted independence from his troubled family and goes off to live on his own in a seaside town. Hired as a chef’s assistant, Sheep fits in well with his coworkers and makes new friends. Life is finally good. Shot in 16mm, Gilles Deroo and Marianne Pistone’s first feature studies the quotidian aspects of Mouton’s life through his eyes as well as those of the town’s residents. Though fiction, the story is filmed as if it were a cinema verite documentary, the camera wandering from scene to scene, character to character. And just when audiences get into the groove of this town, something happens that changes things irrevocably. So two acts, not equally divided, bring us closer to the reality of living than many other films do, simply through small moments and gestures. Winner of two prizes at the Locarno Film Festival, Mouton is a lovely evocation of the pleasures and pain of small-town existence.
French with English subtitles
Thursday, March 20, 9:00pm – MoMA
Saturday, March 22, 6:30pm – FSLC
She’s Lost Control
Anja Marquardt, 2014, USA, DCP, 90 min.
In a world of increasing layers between people, intimacy is perhaps the most elusive ingredient of human interaction. A person can either take the plunge and emotionally connect with their OS (a la Spike Jonze’s Her) or, in the case of She’s Lost Control, psychotherapists can refer patients to sex surrogates. Engaging in that line of work, NYC-based Ronah (fearlessly played by Brooke Bloom) puts to use her considerable psych-studies experience, as well as her natural solicitous warmth, to engage in close but professional relationships. Until, that is, she meets Johnny, and her already fraying control dissolves the thin line between professional and personal intimacy. First-time feature director Anja Marquardt, however, never loses control, delivering a stylish, deeply unnerving, and profound film on an intangible modern issue.
Saturday, March 29, 9:00pm – FSLC
Sunday, March 30, 4:30pm – MoMA
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
Helene Cattet & Bruno Forzani, Belgium/France/Luxembourg, 2013, DCP, 102 min.
Deepening and amplifying their super-fetishistic remix of Italian giallo and horror tropes in Amer (ND/NF 2010), Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani here create a delirious and increasingly baroque pastiche of the trance film and cinema fantastique — and then push it to breaking point. Returning home from a business trip, Dan (Klaus Tange) finds that his wife has disappeared. When the police are of no help, he begins to obsessively investigate their singular and increasingly surreal art deco apartment building in search of clues to her whereabouts. Traditional narrative dissolves into mise en abyme in this kaleidoscopic, vertiginous adventure in sound and image, sadism and eroticism, and the real and the imagined. The unwary may be shaken up by the Belgian duo’s overpowering and percussive stylistic shocks, but in this haunted-house movie, one thing’s for sure: the eyes have it. A Strand Releasing release.
French and Dutch with English subtitles
Friday, March 28, 9:00pm – MoMA
Sunday, March 30, 1:15pm – FSLC
Trap Street (Shuiyin Jie)
Vivian Qu, China, 2013, DCP, 94 min.
Notions of surveillance and observation are turned inside out in Trap Street, producer Vivian Qu’s first turn as a director. While surveying city streets for a digital-mapping company, engineer Qiuming catches sight of Lifen, a beautiful young woman. Immediately smitten, he follows her to a street that doesn’t appear on any map or even a GPS. In between his other gigs — installing security cameras, sweeping hotel rooms for electronic bugs — he tries to get to know this alluring stranger. And he does — sort of. But as he tries to learn more about her, events take on disturbing overtones, and the mystery, as well as the paranoia, deepens from there. Noir in tone, and a great representation of the newest generation of Chinese filmmakers, Trap Street is a bold story of who is really watching who that, while firmly embedded in the current cultural context of China, could happen to any one of us.
Mandarin with English subtitles
Friday, March 28, 6:30pm – FSLC
Saturday, March 29, 4:00pm – MoMA
The Vanquishing of the Witch Baba Yaga (World Premiere)
Jessica Oreck, USA/Russia/Ukraine/Poland, 2013, HDCam, 73 min.
Deep in the forest, wedged in cracks in the bark and under moss-covered rocks, memories and myths are hidden. These subconscious tales and reminiscences, drawn from the natural world, inform the societies we build. Jessica Oreck’s fantastical work combines animation, traditional storytelling, and contemporary nonfiction filmmaking styles to recount the Slavic folktale of the frightful Baba Yaga, a witch said to live in a woodland hut perched on chicken legs who roasts her guests for dinner. But as modern conflicts and scourges encroached, and their refugees fled to the forest, the implications of her presence began to shift. An impressive contemporary allegory on progress, the past, and the power of nature.
Saturday, March 22, 1:30pm – FSLC
Monday, March 24, 6:15pm – MoMA