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13 Films We’d Like To See In The New York Film Festival’s 2012 Lineup

13 Films We'd Like To See In The New York Film Festival's 2012 Lineup

With announcements of the opening and closing night films for the 2012 installment of the New York Film Festival (Life Of Pi and Flight, both films making their world premieres at the festival – a coup I’d say), I thought I’d take a look at other yet-to-be-released (in the States anyway) films we’ve covered on this site this year, that I hope are included in the festival’s full lineup, once it’s announced, likely some time this week, or soon thereafter.

The New York Film Festival is a highlight for me (I live in New York), and one that I’ve attended gleefully every year for the past several years, as one can always expect a solid, interesting list of films from almost all over the world, and I expect nothing less in 2012.

The festival itself runs from September 28 to October 14, and we’ll have coverage of those films that matter most to us, including the aforementioned Flight, which stars Denzel Washington and Don Cheadle. And while not specifically a “black film,” I’d also throw Life Of Pi (directed by Ang Lee) on our list of anticipated films.

And with that, other titles that I certainly hope will make the final cut, whenever the full lineup is revealed, include:

– Senegalese filmmaker Moussa Touré’s La Pirogue (The Pirogue), which screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the Canne Film Festival this year; it has yet to make its Stateside debut, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the acclaimed drama premieres at the NYFF. La Pirogue tells the story of a group of desperate Senegalese men who set off for Europe on a fishing boat, hoping for a better life, knowing the dangers that lie ahead during their trip, and what awaits them on the other side of it.

– Documentary master Ken Burns’ The Central Park Five, which Burns co-directed with his daughter Sarah Burns, and his son-in-law David McMahon, and which will have its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. The documentary examines the case of the Central Park rape, in the late 1980s, that triggered strong emotions in New Yorkers, and the sensational media storm across the US that followed. It turned out to be a tale of racial injustice.

– Michel Gondry‘s The We and The I, which screened in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival this year. It’s described as a heartfelt and comical story of the final bus ride home for a group of young high school students and graduates. The Gondry twist is that the kids travel into the future by mistake and discover a machine that keeps people younger. It has yet to make its Stateside debut as well.

– Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl’s drama Paradise: Love (photo above) was another one of those controversial films that divided critics; the film, which screened in competition at Cannes, is set in Kenya and centers on a 50 year old white woman, sister of a missionary and a mother, who gets involved with a Kenyan “beach boy” until she realizes that, in short, this relationship of theirs is really just business – aka *sex tourism*. Also a film that hasn’t premiered in the USA yet.

– Senegalese director Alain Gomis’ 3rd feature film titled Aujourd’hui (or Today in English, also known as Teywhich premiered at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in February. It stars Saul Williams and Aissa Maiga, and follows a man named Satche (played by Williams) during the last 24 hours of his life. The film has yet to be released in the USA, as it continues its film festival travels.

– Étienne Faure’s Désordres (Chaos), which stars Isaach de Bankole and French-Rwandan actress Sonia Rolland, as history professor Vincent, and his wife Marie who have just moved from Paris (with their son) into a farm near a small town in the south of France, looking forward to a quieter life, some kind of return to nature. Marie, a renowned international pianist, who retired in spite of her young age, has decided to follow her husband, but almost unwillingly. From the very beginning, Thibaut, one of Vincent’s students (played by Niels Schneider), disrupts this family getaway, and slowly, the couple starts to come apart. Again, also a film that hasn’t screened in the USA.

– 7 Days in Havana screened in competition in the Un Certain Regard sidebar of the Cannes Film Festival this year; it chronicles life in Cuba via seven different stories for each of the 7 days, told through the lenses of visitors to the Caribbean city. The film was helmed by seven different directors: Benicio Del Toro, Pablo TraperoJulio Medem, Elia SuleimanGaspar NoeJuan Carlos Abio, and Laurent Cantet. It has release dates in France and the Netherlands, but no USA, like almost every film on this list, which is one characteristic that makes them all primed for the festival.

– Moroccan film-maker Nabil Ayouch’s Les Chevaux De Dieu (God’s Horses), a first-time Official Selection at Cannes this year, that was met with really strong reviews. The film is loosely based on the terrorist attacks that took place in Casablanca on May 13, 2003. Ayouch was shocked by these attacks committed by a gang of kids from a neighbourhood that he knew well. With the film, he says he wants to show that the suicide bombers were also victims.

Colombian filmmaker Juan Andrés Arango’s La Playa D.C., a coming-of-age drama that competed in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, and was well-received by critics, calling it a bold directorial effort from Arango. The film centers on Tomas, an Afro-Colombian teenager struggling with the difficulties of growing up in a city (Bogota) of exclusion and racism against those who look like him; When his younger brother disappears, Tomas is forced to leave his home to look for him.

– Shola Lynch’s Angela Davis documentary will make its world premiere at TIFF next month; but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t also screen at NYFF soon thereafter. Previously titled Free Angela, the film is now called Free Angela & All Political Prisoners, and centers on Angela Davis and the high stakes crime, political movement, and trial that catapulted the 26 year-old newly appointed philosophy professor at the University of California at Los Angeles into a seventies revolutionary political icon.

– Mira Nair’s latest work, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which is based on an adaptation of the bestselling novel of the same name by Mohsin HamidNelsan Ellis co-stars in this international political thriller about a Pakastani man working at a top financial firm on Wall Street who is caught between his professional aspirations, a hostage crisis, and his loyalty to his native country. The film will open the upcoming 69th edition of the Venice Film Festival. If it’s in the NYFF lineup, it’ll be its Stateside premiere.

– The Australian musical drama titled The Sapphires, which is inspired by the real-life story of a soul singing quartet comprised of 4 Aborigine women, branded as Australia’s answer to The SupremesThe Weinstein Company was apparently instantly sold on it, because the company acquired global distribution rights to the film, calling it a “feel-good” movie, aiming for a fall 2012 release. However,  no date has been specified. This would be its USA premiere.

– And finally, the Egyptian drama Baad el Mawkeaa (After The Battle), directed by Yousry Nasrallah, which competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. The film examines the state of Egypt following the events of the Arab Spring last year – a name given to the revolution (via demonstrations and protests) that occurred in the Arab world that began on December 18, 2010. It specifically follows one of the men coerced by Mubarak’s regime into carrying out attacks on protesters in Tahrir Square. He has since lost his job. Humiliated and ostracized, his family on the brink of despair, an encounter with a wealthy secular Egyptian revolutionary triggers change.

And that’s it! There might be 1 or 2 others I’m completely forgetting, but the majority of them are most certainly here. I should note that this aren’t necessarily ALL the films that have yet to be released Stateside, that we’re interested in seeing; they are films that meet the previous 2 criteria, AND are potential NYFF selections, based on the festival’s history, and the kinds of films it’s become known for.

Certainly I doubt the bulk of these titles will make the festival’s lineup this year, but I won’t at all be surprised to see a small handful of them selected. 

Stay tuned for the complete lineup reveal, and I’ll return to compare notes.

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