The Film Society of Lincoln Center has the complete lineup for its Projections section of the 55th New York Film Festival, which will unspool October 6 – 9. The year’s slate is comprised of eight features and eight shorts programs, each designed to present “an international selection of film and video work that expands upon our notions of what the moving image can do and be.” Each year, the Projections section of the festival seeks out innovative new films told in unique and often experimental new ways, and 2017 seems to be no different.
“Projections is the New York Film Festival’s home for adventurous work, and our 2017 lineup attests to the sheer number and variety of ways in which our most vital artists are exploring the possibilities of cinematic language,” said Dennis Lim, FSLC Director of Programming and one of the curators of Projections. “We’ve extended the program by a day this year, as well as expanded the range of work on offer. My sense is that this slate includes what will be remembered as some of the year’s very best and most enduring films, along with some of its boldest provocations and most startling revelations, and we’re excited to present these discoveries alongside two programs of newly restored work by a pair of singular figures: Barbara Hammer and Mike Henderson.”
This year’s lineup features 51 films, including eight features and eight programs of shorts, with eight world premieres, eight North American premieres, and 15 U.S. premieres. Highlights include the U.S. premiere of “Caniba” by Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, “Good Luck” by Projections regular Ben Russell, and the North American premieres of two films by Kevin Jerome Everson, feature “Tonsler Park” and short “IFO.” Newbies will also be out in force at this year’s NYFF, including Xu Bing, Neïl Beloufa, Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Duncan Campbell, Zhou Tao, and Jaakko Pallasvuo.
Eighteen works will screen on 16mm, including all 13 of this year’s repertory selections, which showcase the work of experimental cinema pioneers Barbara Hammer and Mike Henderson, preserved by the Academy Film Archive.
Below are the newest additions to the NYFF 2017 lineup, with full synopses provided by the festival. NYFF Special Events, Spotlight on Documentary, Revivals, and Convergence sections, as well as filmmaker conversations and panels, will be announced in the coming weeks.
The New York Film Festival runs September 28 – October 15.
“Caniba,” Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor, France, 2017, 90m, U.S. Premiere
The latest by the makers of “Leviathan” (NYFF50) is a harrowing engagement with the sheer presence of a man who did the unthinkable: Issei Sagawa, who became a tabloid magnet after killing and cannibalizing a woman in Paris in 1981. “Caniba” moves past sensationalism to immerse viewers in an unnervingly intimate encounter with Sagawa, who has since lived off his notoriety (as a sexploitation star and manga author), and his brother and primary caretaker. The filmmakers use this modern-day instance of cannibalism, long a subject of anthropological study, to raise questions about repulsion, desire, madness, and more. Audacious and unflinching, “Caniba” compels us to reckon with the most extreme limits of human behavior.
“Dragonfly Eyes,” Xu Bing, China, 2017, 81m, U.S. Premiere
Chinese visual artist Xu Bing’s ambitious debut feature follows an ill-fated romance through a frightening and faceless urban environment, using only closed-circuit surveillance footage. Constructing a fictitious narrative from real-world encounters and frequently spectacular images, Xu turns the story of a young man attempting to relocate his object of desire into a cogent analysis of postmodern identity and digitally mediated communication.
“Electro-Pythagoras (a Portrait of Martin Bartlett),” Luke Fowler, U.K./Canada, 2017, 45m, U.S. Premiere
The life and work of highly influential, yet little known, Canadian composer and microcomputer pioneer Martin Bartlett is resurrected in this lovingly constructed biographical essay. Archival footage finds Bartlett at home, at work, and onstage, while voiceover readings of the proudly out artist’s reflections on his place in the era’s gay community convey a sense of intimate, holistic personal history.
Preceded by: “Vivian’s Garden,” Rosalind Nashashibi, U.K., 2017, 30m, North American Premiere
Deep in the Guatemalan Highlands, Swiss-Austrian artists Vivian Suter and Elisabeth Wild live in a garden villa. Nashashibi captures the complexity of their unorthodox microcosm, which is dominated by their curiously intimate mother-daughter dynamic as well as the keen sense of dependency seen in their relationship with the Mayan domestic workers.
“Le fort des fous,” Narimane Mari, France/Algeria/Greece/Germany/Qatar, 2017, 140m
In this shape-shifting hybrid feature, Algerian citizens’ memories of their country’s occupation are brought to life via resurrected military reports and re-enactments of France’s decades-long colonial project. As the film moves into a more dramatic mode, two characters from the first act join up with a small community that has sought refuge along the coast. But utopia proves fleeting, and the film, seeming to sense their fate, reinvents itself yet again as documentary.
“Good Luck,” Ben Russell, France/Germany, 2017, 143m, U.S. Premiere
In his first solo feature in eight years, Ben Russell takes us deep into the unforgiving copper mines of Serbia. When we emerge, we’re thousands of miles away, amongst an illegal band of gold miners in the Suriname jungle. The physical demands of labor, as well as the transformative power of music, connect these communities, each equally fortified by the realities of capital and a spirit of masculine camaraderie.
“Occidental,” Neïl Beloufa, France, 2017, 74m, U.S. Premiere
In a boho Parisian hotel, two sexually and politically ambiguous Italians romp through a succession of blatantly artificial, anachronistically decorated set pieces, stoking the prejudices of staff members and fellow guests. Outside, riots rage and protesters march, threatening to spill into the increasingly feverish atmosphere gathering indoors. French-Algerian artist Neïl Beloufa’s second feature—reminiscent of films by Bertrand Bonello and the stage-derived works of Alain Resnais—confirms the arrival of a uniquely provocative, socially attuned filmmaker.
“Tonsler Park,” Kevin Jerome Everson, USA, 2017, 80m, North American Premiere
Election Day, 2016. Kevin Jerome Everson and his 16mm camera quietly observe a community of mostly African-American voters and volunteers at a local polling precinct in Charlottesville, Virginia. Emerson’s film captures everyday faces and the general optimistic atmosphere with a casual formal elegance.
“The Worldly Cave,” Zhou Tao, China, 2017, 48m, North American Premiere
Anonymous figures are diminished against unforgiving environs, both natural and manmade, in Zhou’s expansive cross-continental diary, featuring monumental views of the Incheon Sea, the Balearic island of Menorca, and the Sonoran Desert that serve to visualize the infinitesimal stature of the human race.
Barbara Hammer Program
A pioneer of experimental cinema, Barbara Hammer has spent much of her five-decade career deconstructing gender and sexuality through material examinations of the celluloid image and representations of the female body onscreen. This program of 16mm films combines her surreal, sexualized 1970s fantasias with the forays into poetic nonfiction and the trailblazing experiments with optically printed visuals she helped popularize throughout the 1980s. Program includes Psychosynthesis, Women I Love, and Audience, preserved by Electronic Arts Intermix and the Academy Film Archive through the National Film Preservation Foundation’s Avant-Garde Masters Grant program and The Film Foundation. Funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation; and Still Point and No No Nooky T.V., preserved by the Academy Film Archive.
Mike Henderson Program
A singular cinematic figure, San Francisco’s Mike Henderson became one of the first independent African-American artists to make inroads into experimental filmmaking in the 1960s. Henderson’s work throughout the 1970s and 1980s, from which this program of 16mm films is culled, thrums with a sociopolitical, humorous sensibility that lends his small-scale, often musically kissed portraits (which he later dubbed “blues cinema”) a personal, artisanal quality. Program includes MONEY, Dufus (aka Art), The Shape of Things, The Last Supper, When & Where, Down Hear, Mother’s Day, and Pitchfork and the Devil. All films preserved by the Academy Film Archive.