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by Peter Knegt
February 12, 2009 9:55 AM
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"Push," "Amreeka" Among ND/NF's 39th Lineup

Cherien Dabis' "Amreeka" and Lee Daniels' Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-winner "Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire" will bookend the 39th edition of New Directors/New Films, it was announced today by Rajendra Roy, chief curator of film at The Museum of Modern Art and Richard Pena, program director at The Film Society of Lincoln Center. They join 23 other films representing 20 countries, in a program "dedicated to the discovery and support of emerging directors." The films will screen in their New York premieres or, in some cases, their United States and world premieres. New Directors/New Films 2009 will be held at the MoMA and The Film Society of Lincoln Center from March 25 - April 5.

New York-based Dabis's debut feature "Amreeka," which screened to warm responses in Sundance,stars Nisreen Faour and Hiam Abbas in the story of Muna, a single mother from Ramallah, and Fadi, her teenage son, who move to Middle America just as U.S. troops enter Baghdad. Daniel's lauded "Push," currently the center of a legal battle care of The Weinstein Company, chronicles the world of Precious Jones, an overweight, iliterate, teenager pregnant with a second child by her own father. The films fantastic cast includes Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, and Paula Patton. It

Lee Daniels's Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-winner "Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire" will also be showcased as the series's first-ever Closing Night feature. The much-discussed drama chronicles the world of Precious Jones, an overweight, functionally illiterate, lonesome teenager pregnant with a second child by her own father. Daniels, working with a script by Damien Paul and an extraordinary cast led by Gabourey Sidibe and including Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, and Paula Patton.

Other features of the 2009 festival slate include the world premiere of Bob Byington's slacker "Harmony and Me" and the U.S. premiere of Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern's inside look at the Broadway revival of "A Chorus Line," "Every Little Step."

The series will offer New Yorkers their first chance to see various additional Sundance films including first-time feature director Sophie Barthes' "Cold Souls," starring Paul Giamatti, Emily Watson, and David Strathairn, Louie Psihoyos's "The Cove;" Sterlin Harjo "Barking Water;" Gustave de Kervern and Benoit Delephin's "Louise-Michel;" Sebastian Silva's "The Maid;" Laurel Nakadate's "Stay the Same Never Change;" Alexis Dos Santos's "Unmade Beds;" and Ondi Timoner's "We Live in Public," which won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. documentary.

The complete public schedule for New Directors/New Films 2009 will be announced in early March. Tickets will go on sale Friday, March 13. They will be at The Film Society of Lincoln Center, MoMA, and online at filmlinc.com.

Press screenings will take place March 2 through 20. Dates and times to be announced.

The complete list of feature films at New/Directors/New Films 2009
(Descriptions provided by the festival)

$9.99 Tatia Rosenthal, Israel/Australia, 2008; Can the mysteries of life really be known for "the low-price of $9.99"? This timely and compelling stop-motion animated feature explores urban dreams and dilemmas. A Regent Releasing release.

Amreeka Cherien Dabis, USA/Canada/Kuwait, 2009; Cherien Dabis's humanist miracle of a first film chronicles the bittersweet adjustment to a multicultural way of life after Muna, a single mother from Ramallah, and Fadi, her teenage son, move to Middle America.

Autumn / Sonbahar Oezcan Alper, Germany/Turkey, 2008; A stunning elegy to lost youth and lost ideals set in the majestic mountains east of the Black Sea, Oezcan Alper's debut is a powerful harbinger for the emergence of a strong new wave in Turkish cinema.

Barking Water Sterlin Harjo, USA, 2009; Sterlin Harjo's wise second feature affectionately travels Oklahoma's roads, stopping now and then to reveal itself as one of American cinema's most moving love stories--adult and unsentimental--in a long time.

Birdwatchers Marco Bechis, Italy/Brazil, 2008; The schism between the indigenous Guarani Indians and the wealthy Brazilian landowners who inhabit their ancestral land is brought to devastating life in this gripping, powerful docudrama. An IFC Films release.

Cold Souls Sophie Barthes, USA/Russia, 2008; Screenwriter/director Sophie Barthes deftly balances fantasy and reality in her witty, metaphysical tale of a successful actor (the great Paul Giamatti playing himself) undergoing a psychic breakdown while rehearsing a production of "Uncle Vanya." A Samuel Goldwyn release.

The Cove Louie Psihoyos, USA, 2009; Award-winning National Geographic photographer Louis Psihoyos brings the environmental film to astounding new levels of drama and urgency in this exploration of Taiji, Japan, a village on the Pacific coast that is home to a longstanding whaling tradition and a deeply unsettling secret.

Every Little Step Adam Del Deo and James D. Stern, USA, 2008; In this documentary about casting the 2006 revival of "A Chorus Line," the lives of dancers auditioning for the new production mirror the stories of some of the original cast members, whose experiences were captured on tape by the musical's creator, Michael Bennett. A Sony Pictures Classics release.

The Fly / Mukha Vladimir Kott, Russia, 2008; In Vladimir Kott's post-perestroika drama, a reluctant father and recalcitrant daughter try to out maneuver each other in a battle of wills that is as deadly as it is funny.

Give Me Your Hand / Donne-moi la main Pascal-Alex Vincent, France/Germany, 2008; This visually sumptuous ode to brotherly love and loathing by first time feature director Pascal-Alex Vincent follows virtually indistinguishable twin brothers Alexandre and Victor Carril in a buoyant escapade that turns surprisingly dark and dangerous. A Strand Releasing release.

Harmony and Me Bob Byington, USA, 2009; Bob Byington's deadpan and hilarious slacker movie for the cell phone generation is straight out of that independent film capital, Austin, Texas, where a voluble young lyricist refuses to let go of the heartbreak caused when his girlfriend became his ex.

Home Ursula Meier, Switzerland/France/Belgium, 2008; An ordinary middle class family lives an ordinary life in their ordinary house that sits next to an unused highway. With no neighbors or cars for miles, all it takes is the opening of the highway to change the family's dynamic.

Louise-Michel Gustave de Kervern and Benoit Delepine, France, 2008; When a group of women factory workers are blindsided by management's relocation of the factory and are left with a pittance in severance pay, their very odd colleague Louise suggests they hire a hit man, the even odder Michel, to take care of business.

The Maid / La Nana Sebastian Silva, Chile, 2009; This sharply etched portrait of an tightly wound domestic servant and her passive-aggressive relationship to her middle-class family is given tremendous force and tragicomic relief in the remarkable, prizewinning title performance by Catalina Saavedra.

Mid-August Lunch / Pranzo di ferragosto Gianni Di Gregorio, Italy, 2008; Fifty-nine-year-old Gianni Di Gregorio (screenwriter of Gomorrah) stars in his utterly charming directorial debut as Giovanni, whose agreement to take in his landlord and best friend's elderly mothers for a few days results in a wonderfully loose, improvisational award winner.

The Milk of Sorrow / La teta asustada Claudia Llosa, Spain/Peru, 2008; The legacies of rape and terror in Peru extend to the children born of victims. This remarkable film floats between fable and visceral reality, confronting fear and healing wounds through the power of the human spirit.

Ordinary Boys / Chicos normales Daniel Hernandez, Spain, 2008; In a small Moroccan village that was home to many of those responsible for the 2004 terrorist bombings in Spain, three young adults--an aspiring actor, a law student, and a small-time drug dealer--find themselves at a crossroads that will change the course of their lives.

Paper Soldier / Bumaznyj soldat Aleksei German Jr., Russia, 2008; Aleksei German Jr. pays homage to classic Russian cinema, the plays of Anton Chekhov, and the liberal era of Khrushchev in an impressionistic story of a confused doctor working with the first cosmonauts of the Soviet space program.

Parque Via Enrique Rivero, Mexico, 2008; If the only home you've known is one you've lived in as a servant, what would you do if the master decides to sell? A gripping portrait of quiet loyalty and impending abandonment.

Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire Lee Daniels, USA, 2009; Destined to be one of the most hotly discussed films of the year, Push chronicles the world of Precious Jones, a seriously overweight, functionally illiterate, lonesome teenager pregnant with a second child by her own father. A Lionsgate release.

The Shaft / Dixia de tiankong Zhang Chi, China, 2008; Newcomer Zhang Chi charts the profound changes in a tightly knit family over a critical year in three separate, inter-related, and pitch-perfect stories.

Stay the Same Never Change Laurel Nakadate, USA, 2009; This audacious, slyly hilarious work dares to grapple with the terrifying complexities of tween-age girlhood.

Treeless Mountain So Yong Kim, USA/South Korea, 2008; A gently told yet heart-wrenching tale of a young girl's journey from abandonment to maturity. An Oscilloscope Pictures release.

Unmade Beds Alexis Dos Santos, UK, 2008; Alexis Dos Santos returns to New Directors with his second feature, Unmade Beds, chronicling the adventures of free-spirited London expats sharing beds and true confessions on their way to defining themselves.

We Live in Public Ondi Timoner, USA, 2008; Insurant, insightful, and authentic, Ondi Timoner's Sundance winner is a boundlessly resourceful insider's view of Internet pioneer Josh Harris's rise and fall and the heady times in the art and technology Wild West of 1990s Manhattan.

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