Once again bringing together films already feted on the festival circuit (two of this year's selections won awards at Venice) with those ripe for fresh discovery, this year's edition of the New Directors/New Films festival presents a slate as deep and diverse as any in recent memory. The 42nd annual incarnation of the Film Society at Lincoln Center and Museum of Modern Art's annual showcase features works from rookie (and near-rookie) filmmakers hailing everywhere from South Korea to the Ivory Coast to Bulgaria and working in fiction, documentary, and, most intriguingly, the area in between the two modes.
Genre- (and mind-) bending are the watchwords in this year's fest, present in such notable fare as Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing, which allows Indonesian genocidists to recreate their experiences in whichever cinematic mode they wish, Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell (an inclusion that stretches the notion of a "new" director just a tad), an essay film in which the filmmaker reflects on her family and life, and Tobias Lindholm's A Hijacking, which fictionalizes its ripped-from-the-headlines narrative while using actual locations and real-life victims. Brain expansion comes courtesy of Shane Carruth's long-awaited follow-up to his 2004 underground hit Primer, the no less intriguing Upstream Color.
Joining Oppenheimer's film in its focus on rampant criminality, this year's fest features no shortage of high-profile selections detailing violent and illicit activity. Both the opening night film, Alexandre Moors's Blue Caprice, about a pair of snipers, and the fest-closing Our Nixon, Penny Lane's assemblage of footage of our 37th president's dirty tricks, paint a jaundiced portrait of American life, whether at the highest levels of power or the lowest. They're supplemented by such international fare as Leonardo di Costanzo's prize-winning L'intervallo, which details young lives caught up in the world of Neapolitan organized crime.
In addition to the expected screenings at the event's two principal venues, this year's edition will feature an off-site showing of Sophie Letourner's Les Coquillettes at the VW Performance Dome at MOMA P.S.1 in Long Island City. Expanding ND/NF's reach into the outer boroughs, the programmers offer a fitting gesture for a festival always looking to widen the geographic boundaries of the cinematic world.
Please check back daily for a full review of each festival film. New Directors/New Films 2013 runs from March 20 to March 31. For tickets click here. Andrew Schenker