The first nine official selections for this year’s New Directors/New Films festival had been previously announced, and now, the Museum of Modern Art and Film Society of Lincoln Center have announced the complete lineup of films, including the opening and closing night selections. The opening night selection is the Sundance hit “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” about a 15-year-old girl who strikes up an affair with her mother’s boyfriend. The closing night selection is “Entertainment,” about a comedian trekking across the Mojave Desert to hopefully reconcile with his estranged daughter. The fest runs from March 18-29. The newly announced films are listed below.
Ted Fendt, USA, 2014, 35mm, 8m
Liz thinks she’s going on a date with Rob to see RoboCop, but things take an unexpected (and inexplicable) turn. World Premiere
The Creation of Meaning / La creazione di significato
Simone Rapisarda Casanova, Canada/Italy, 2014, 95m
Italian with English subtitles
Though its title arcs toward grand philosophical inquiry, the stirring power of Simone Rapisarda Casanova’s second documentary-fiction hybrid—winner of the Locarno Film Festival’s Best Emerging Director prize—lies in its intimacy of detail and wry political observation. Filmed with a painterly Renaissance beauty in Tuscany’s remote Apennine mountains, where memories of Nazi massacres and partisan resistance remain vivid, The Creation of Meaning centers on Pacifico Pieruccioni, an aging but defiant shepherd whose very livelihood and traditions are threatened by a New European reality of Berlusconi-caliber corruption (hilariously evoked in a profanity-laden radio talk show rant) and German land speculation. U.S. Premiere
Laura Citarella & Verónica Llinás, Argentina, 2015, 95m
Spanish with English subtitles
An indelible and quietly haunting study of a nameless woman (memorably played by co-director Verónica Llinás) living with a loyal pack of stray dogs in silent, self-imposed exile in the Pampas on the edge of Buenos Aires. Almost dialogue-free, the film follows this hermit across four seasons as she patches up her makeshift shack in the woods, communes with nature, and forages for and sometimes steals food, making only the briefest of forays into the city and only fleetingly engaging with other people. She’s a distant cousin of Agnès Varda’s protagonist in Vagabond, perhaps, and just as enigmatic. Dog Lady is filmed with an attentive and sympathetic eye yet is careful never to “explain” its subject—but be sure to stay to the very end of the film’s extended final long shot. North American Premiere
Yuriy Bykov, Russia, 2014, DCP, 116m
Russian with English subtitles
The lives of hundreds of the dregs of society are at stake in this stark and grotesque portrait of a new Russia on the verge of catastrophe. Investigating a maintenance problem in a decaying provincial housing project, plumber and engineering student Dima (Artyom Bystrov) discovers two massive cracks running the length of the building. Convinced that the building is about to collapse, he rushes to alert the mayor, who is celebrating her birthday with a drunken crowd. The town’s councillors, who’ve siphoned off much of the town’s budget to feather their nests, greet his warning with skepticism and hostility—and as events spiral out of control during one long night, Dima learns that nobody, even those he’s trying to help, likes a whistle-blower. Building on his first film, The Major, about a police cover-up, writer, director, and actor Yuriy Bykov delivers a stinging rebuke to the endemic corruption of the Russian body politic that earned him four awards at the 2014 Locarno Film Festival.
Benjamin Crotty, France/Tunisia, 2014, 65m
French with English subtitles
The feature debut of American-born, Paris-based writer-director Benjamin Crotty marks the arrival of something rare in contemporary cinema: a wholly original sensibility. Expanding his 2012 short of the same name, Crotty chronicles the tragicomic plight of frail, lonely Roger, stranded at a remote military post in the woods while his husband carries out a mission in Djibouti. Over four seasons, Roger (Andy Gillet, the androgynous star of Eric Rohmer’s The Romance of Astrea and Celadon) seeks comfort and companionship from the army wives of this leisurely yet sexually frustrated community, while trying to keep a lid on his volatile adopted daughter, Roxy. Shot in richly textured 16mm, Crotty’s queer soap opera playfully estranges and deranges any number of narrative conventions, finding surprising wells of emotion amid the carnal comedy. North American Premiere
Gabriel Abrantes, Portugal/Sri Lanka/Denmark/France, 2014, DCP, 24m
Portuguese and French with English subtitles
A sensuous and debauched portrait of Portugal’s national poet Luís Vaz de Camões teetering on the borderline between Paradise and Hell. U.S. Premiere
Shim Sung-bo, South Korea, 2014, DCP, 111m
Korean with English subtitles
First-time director Shim Sung-bo (screenwriter of Memories of Murder, the debut film of Haemoo’s producer Bong Joon-ho) distills a gripping drama from a real life incident and delivers a gritty, brooding spectacle of life and death on the high seas. With the country in the throes of an economic crisis, the Captain of run-down fishing boat Junjin sets out with his five-man crew to smuggle a group of Korean-Chinese illegal immigrants. During the hair-raising transfer of their human cargo from a freighter, rookie fisherman Dong-sik (Park Yu-chun) saves the life of Hong-mae (Han Ye-ri). Smitten and solicitous, he shelters the young woman in the engine room. But after a tense coast-guard inspection, things go horribly wrong and as the titular sea fog rolls in, the Captain forces his crew to set a new course from which there’s no turning back.
Oscar Ruiz Navia, Colombia/Argentina/France/Germany, 2014, 103m
Spanish with English subtitles
Cali street artists Ras and Calvin are good friends and collaborators despite hailing from disparate backgrounds. While one takes art classes, the other steals paint from his job in order to tag whatever surfaces he can find. Inspired by the Arab Spring protests, the pair bands together with a group of graffiti artists in order to paint a tribute to the student demonstrators. Oscar Ruiz Navia’s second feature could be termed a coming-of-age film, but Los Hongos heads in unexpected directions: while possibilities of hooking up abound, the pair’s mutual interest in making a statement that might also push forward new ideas in their own country expands what we usually see in characters growing up on-screen. This moment in the lives of two kids figuring it out encompasses all the possibilities: family, friends, sex, art, and, when they least expect it, the prospect of doing something of value. Full of color and great music, Los Hongos comprises a charming and vibrant portrait of a young, lively Colombia.
Darhad Erdenibulag & Emyr ap Richard, China, 2015, 88m
Mongolian with English subtitles
Franz Kafka’s unfinished novel The Castle is relocated to present-day Inner Mongolia, and the translation is startlingly seamless. Land surveyor K (Bayin) arrives in a frontier village, and soon discovers that his summons was a clerical error. Taking a job as a school janitor, K seeks an audience with the high-level minister he believes will resolve the situation, but cannot gain access to the castle where the local government is based. Intermittently aided by a barmaid and two hapless minions, K finds his efforts at clarification stymied by local hostility and administrative chaos alike. Produced by Jia Zhang-ke and rendered with great stylistic economy and a delirious sense of illogic, K is the rare literary adaptation that honors the source material even while reinventing it. At once familiar and strange, the film is both specific to its setting and faithful to Kafka in portraying faceless bureaucracy as a timeless and universal frustration. North American Premiere
Nadav Lapid, Israel, 2015, DCP, 5m
French and Hebrew with English subtitles
A filmmaker is asked by Cahiers du Cinéma to choose the image that made him believe in cinema. North American Premiere
Line of Credit
Salomé Alexi, France/Georgia, 2014, 85m
Georgian with English subtitles
Things are tough all over. Mortgage crises and other economic woes have hit the entire world, including the Republic of Georgia. Nino is a fortysomething woman with a small shop in Tbilisi who grew up (along with her countrymen and -women) without thinking about the complexities of finance. But the advent of Capitalism in the former Soviet republic changed all of that. When the money gets tight, Nino goes about taking loan after loan, but even as the situation gets out of hand, Salomé Alexi maintains a beautifully light, comedic tone in her feature film debut (her short Felicità showed in ND/NF 2010). Her camera observes the deadpan humor that exists alongside the desperate straits in which the people find themselves: entertaining a French tourist in her shop while finagling yet another loan with her employee, who’s been skimming money from her, Nino represents us all: someone trying to keep her head above water while working to make things right. North American Premiere
Listen to Me Marlon
Stevan Riley, UK, 2015, 100m
With a face and name known the world over, Marlon Brando earned acclaim for his astonishing acting range and infamy for his enigmatic personality. With unprecedented access to a trove of audio recordings made by the actor himself (including several self-hypnosis tapes), documentarian Stevan Riley explores Brando’s on- and off-screen lives, from bursting onto the cinematic scene with such films as The Men and A Streetcar Named Desire to his first Oscar-winning role in On the Waterfront. Archival news clips and interviews shed light on Brando’s support for the civil rights movement as well as on the many trials and tribulations of his children, Christian and Cheyenne. But between these many revelations and disclosures, Brando manages to tell his own story, filled with bones to pick, strong opinions, and fascinating traces of one of the most alluring figures in the history of cinema. A Showtime presentation.
Virgil Vernier, France, 2014, DCP, 100m
French and Russian with English subtitles
With an eclectic assortment of shorts, documentaries, and hybrid works to his name, Virgil Vernier is one of the most ambitious young directors in France today, and one of the hardest to categorize. Taking a cue from Godard’s 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, Vernier’s most accomplished film to date trains his camera on the Parisian suburb of Bagnolet, shadowing two receptionists who work in the lobby of the titular high-rise (Ana Neborac and Philippine Stindel). As the girls drift from one enigmatic situation to the next—going to the pool, visiting a maze-like sex club, hunting for new employment—Vernier’s visual strategies and narrative gambits grow ever more inventive and surprising. Beautifully shot on 16mm by cinematographer Jordane Chouzenoux and set to James Ferraro’s haunting electronic score, Mercuriales is that rarest of cinematic achievements: a radical experiment in form that also lavishes tender attention on its characters. U.S. Premiere
Yohei Suzuki, Japan, 2014, HDCAM, 89m
Japanese with English subtitles
You might call this blackly comic indie whatsit a Japanese episode of The Twilight Zone—except that it’s not so easily classified. Jobless young Tetsuo and his girlfriend Yuriko are inexplicably immobilized after laying eyes on an orb-like object that appears out of nowhere, hovering near his bedroom’s ceiling. In short order, Tetsuo’s (secretly unemployed) father and several policemen find themselves likewise transfixed and when all are eventually released from their frozen state, they are left permanently catatonic. After a botched police inquiry, young journalist Deguchi sets out to get to the bottom of the mysterious happening. Given that the Japanese title, Maru translates as “Zero,” he has his work cut out for him. An enigmatic, deadpan mystery that just might be a comment on the social malaise and inertia of 21st-century Japan. U.S. Premiere
Lukas Valenta Rinner, Argentina/Austria/Uruguay, 2015, DCP, 75m
Spanish with English subtitles
A Buenos Aires office worker finishes his day, visits his father in a rest home, lodges his cat in a kennel, and cancels his phone service. (Did you overhear the news report of riots and social unrest on the radio?) The next day, he and 10 equally nondescript individuals are transported up the Tigre delta in blindfolds and arrive at a secluded, well-appointed resort for a vacation with a difference. Instead of yoga and nature walks, the days’ activities range from hand-to-hand combat and weapons instruction to classes in botany and homemade explosives. Welcome to boot camp for preppers, the destination of choice for the serious Apocalypse Tourist. Austrian filmmaker Lukas Valenta Rinner handles his material in his home country’s familiar style, with cool distance, minimal dialogue, and carefully composed frames, interpolating the action with extracts from the invented Book of Disasters, a must-read for anyone warming up for the collapse of civilization as we know it—people, are you in? North American Premiere
Evan Johnson, Canada, 2014, DCP, 2m
A compact, chromatic visual essay on our way of seeing by Guy Maddin collaborator Evan Johnson. World Premiere
Britni West, USA, 2014, HDCAM, 76m
Britni West’s directorial debut, which won the Jury Award for Narrative Feature at this year’s Slamdance, discovers homespun poetry among the good folk of West’s native Kalispell, Montana. Kalispell is a small town populated by lonely hearts engaging in awkward one-night stands, children with starry eyes and bruised knees, stock-car drivers, junkyard treasure hunters, and bighorn sheep. Rarely has Big Sky Country ever cast such a sweetly comic and tender spell. Photographed in Super-16mm by Adam Ginsberg and featuring a mostly nonprofessional cast (with the exception of indie favorite Alex Karpovsky) in semi-fictionalized roles, Tired Moonlight is a sui generis slice of contemporary naturalism.
Tu dors Nicole
Stéphane Lafleur, Canada, 2014, 93m
French with English subtitles
With this disarmingly atmospheric comedy, Québécois director Stéphane Lafleur continues to secure his place high among the recent surge of talent flowing from French Canada. Tu dors Nicole follows the summer (mis)adventures of a band of utterly unique characters, centering on the coquettish 22-year-old Nicole (Julianne Côté), who leads an ostensibly carefree lifestyle. When the belatedly acknowledged reality of adulthood begins to nip at her heels and her older musician brother Rémi (Marc-André Grondin) enters the picture, complications prove inevitable. Shot in low-contrast black-and-white 35mm, Tu dors Nicole is a sweet and finely crafted ode to restless youth that, in its seductive and charming way, recalls the likes of Aki Kaurismäki and Jim Jarmusch. A Kino Lorber release.
Bas Devos, Belgium/Netherlands, 2014, DCP, 82m
Flemish with English subtitles
The muted but harrowing tone of Violet emerges in the prologue, as closed-circuit monitors impassively display the stabbing death of a teenager at a mall. The victim’s friend Jesse (Cesar De Sutter), unable to intervene, is the lone witness to the murder. Between attending black-metal concerts and prowling the suburban sprawl with his BMX biker gang, Jesse grapples with the aftermath of the crime within his community. Favoring exquisitely fluid compositions and telling silences over dialogue, writer-director Bas Devos’s feature debut has a profoundly uneasy yet entrancing atmosphere, punctuated with bursts of online imagery and a meticulous, startling soundtrack. Reminiscent of Gus Van Sant’s Paranoid Park in its minimalist portrayal of aimless, maladjusted youth, Violetis a continually surprising exploration of pain and guilt, an interior voyage that only grows tenser and more affecting as it arrives at darker, less comprehensible regions of the soul.
Bill & Turner Ross, USA, 2015, 93m
Drug cartel violence and border politics threaten the neighborly rapport enjoyed for generations between Eagle Pass, Texas, and Piedras Negras, Mexico. In their trenchant and passionately observed documentary, Bill and Turner Ross render palpable the unease and uncertainty of decent, hardworking folk as they are buffeted by forces beyond their control, including senseless acts of torture, murders committed just outside their homes, and the temporary USDA ban on livestock trade. Drawing on archetypes of rugged individualism and community, Western focuses on Mayor Chad Foster, who presides over Eagle Pass with a winning, conspiratorial smile; José Manuel Maldonado, his kindly Piedras Negras mayoral counterpart; and Martin Wall, a cattle rancher whose Marlboro Man stoicism melts away in the presence of his young daughter, Brylyn. Westernfirmly positions the Ross brothers at the frontier of a new, compelling kind of American vernacular cinema.
Shorts Program 1
Yuri Ancarani, Italy, 2014, DCP, 24m
This portrait of Milan’s famed stadium is both clinical and otherworldly, casting game-time preparation as the subliminal, collective ritual of our day.
Nora Fingscheidt, Germany, 2014, DCP, 15m
Venice Pier, where L.A. meets the ocean, draws people to play, flirt, and dream. Two immigrants recount their long journeys to this place shared by so many. North American Premiere
Blue and Red
Zhou Tao, Thailand, 2014, DCP, 25m
From anti-government protests in Bangkok to rural areas in China, the march of human life is bathed in vibrant colors as if under a microscope, in what the artist dubs an “epidermal touch.” World Premiere
Felipe Guerrero, Colombia, 2014, DCP, 13m
An obscure, trance-like tour of a place as menacing as it is incomprehensible. North American Premiere
The Field of Possible
Matías Meyer, Mexico/Canada, 2014, DCP, 10m
A single shot charts a Montreal residential building over the course of four seasons, deriving poetry from observation. World Premiere
Shorts Program 2
Nicholas Elliott, USA, 2014, DCP, 16m
Desire and emotion pervade this enigmatic hangout film in which a procession of mystery men emerge ex nihilo and seek shelter in a young woman’s cabin. World Premiere
Una Gunjak, Germany/Croatia, 2014, DCP, 15m
Bosnian with English subtitles
Six-year-old Selma is forced to confront the realities of life during wartime after she decides to let go of her birthday present.
Nara Normande & Tião, Brazil, 2014, DCP, 25m
Portuguese with English subtitles
These sun-kissed fragments of a coming-of-age tale follow a boy who, while on vacation at a fishing village, finds himself entangled with an enigmatically nicknamed local girl. U.S. Premiere
I Remember Nothing
Zia Anger, USA, 2015, DCP, 18m
A student, unaware that she is epileptic, tries to get through another day. Structured in five sections after the phases of a seizure. World Premiere
Christophe M. Saber, Switzerland, 2014, DCP, 11m
French, German, Arabic, and Italian with English subtitles
In this biting comedy of manners, it really does take a village.
We Will Stay in Touch About It
Jan Zabeil, Germany, 2015, DCP, 8m
After the shock of impact, reality suddenly seems out of reach. World Premiere
Odessa Crash Test (Notes on Film 09)
Norbert Pfaffenbichler, Austria, 2014, DCP, 6m
An iconic moment from Battleship Potemkin, remixed and reimagined. U.S. Premiere