Forty one years young, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art's annual New Directors/New Films festival is committed to compiling a slate of artistically diverse films from every corner of the world. Twenty-eight countries represent the 29 feature films (24 narrative, five documentary) and 12 shorts that make up this year's program, which kicks off on March 21 with a screening of Where Do We Go Now?, Nadine Lakaki's follow-up to Caramel, and closes with a special surprise screening that won't be revealed to the audience until it screens at Film Society on Sunday, April 1. Any guesses?
Given the festival's history of stitching together a sizable portion of its hip and socially conscious lineup from recent films that have made the festival rounds, we place our bets on one of several hot, still-fresh commodities to premiere at Sundance: Beasts of the Southern Wild, The House I Live In, or The Surrogate. Other titles in this year's crop to carry over from Park City: Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi's 5 Broken Cameras, a chronicle of the birth of Burnat's son set against a backdrop of fierce violence in the Palestinian town of Bil'in; Mads Matthiesen's Teddy Bear, the story of a gentle giant of a body builder in search of a girlfriend; and Terence Nance's An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, "a personal mediation on love in the new millennium."
This prestigious festival spotlights both new and "emerging" talents, and this year's lineup welcomes back Joachim Trier (Oslo, August 31st) and Mads Brügger (The Ambassador), whose first features, the Academy Award-nominated Reprise and The Red Chapel, screened in 2007 and 2010, respectively, as well as Goodbye, the latest from imprisoned Iranian filmmaker Mohammad Rasoulof, whose Iron Island played the festival in 2005.
Other memorable titles include Adam Leon's Bronx-set graffiti drama Gimme the Loot, winner of the Grand Jury Prize for narrative features at this year's SXSW, Antoine Delesvaux and Joann Sfar's The Rabbi's Cat, adapted from Sfar's popular comic-book series of the same name and the first 3D feature to screen at ND/NF, and an early contender for best in show, Pablo Giorgelli's Las Acacias, the magnificently lensed and observed story of a transformative ride from Asunción to Buenos Aires that won the Camera d'Or at last year's Cannes. The film is the perfect embodiment of a festival that earnestly believes it can change our outlook of the world.
Please check back daily for a full review of each festival film. New Directors/New Films 2012 runs from March 21 to April 1. For tickets click here. Ed Gonzalez