Arriving on the cusp of the most barren summer movie season in recent memory — not to mention five days after the release of the 11th movie in the “Harry Potter” franchise, and two weeks before the 28th installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — this year’s edition of New Directors/New Films wouldn’t have to be particularly rich or rejuvenating in order to provide New York cinephiles with a much-needed oasis in dry times. These days, the name of the festival itself sounds almost nostalgic. And yet, the programming team (evenly split between representatives from Film at Lincoln Center and The Museum of Modern Art) seems to have taken those circumstances as a direct challenge.
Comprising 26 features and 11 shorts from over 20 different countries — including some of the most exciting breakouts from Berlin, Cannes, Rotterdam, and Sundance, in addition to one very special world premiere that hits a lot closer to home — ND/NF 2022 cobbles together an extraordinary rebuttal to the idea that cinema is running on fumes.
The well-curated selections range from hotly anticipated prize-winners (e.g. Audrey Diwan’s Golden Lion-winning abortion drama “Happening” and Nikyatu Jusu’s Sundance triumph “Nanny”) to elusive documentaries that are still in search of American distribution (such as Dongnan Chen’s gentle but probing Thessaloniki premiere “Singing in the Wilderness,” a portrait of a Christian choir who are swept into the Chinese government’s propaganda machine), and from lo-fi miniatures (Park Song-yeol’s “Hot in Day, Cold at Night”) to deathless war epics (Arthur Harari’s “Onoda — 10,000 Nights in the Jungle”). And yet all of these wildly different films are bound together by the vitality, individuality, and resilience they exude in a world where such things can feel increasingly hard to find.
The 51st edition of New Directors/New Films will run from April 20 — May 1, and more information about the festival can be found at its website. Here are 10 movies from the 2022 lineup that reflect why the festival is more essential than ever.
Carlos Aguilar, Susannah Gruder, Ryan Lattanzio, and Natalia Winkelman also contributed to this article.