New Directors/New Films 2009

New Directors/New Films 2009


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Every year, New Directors/New Films showcases the latest works from directors more or less new to the cine-block. The series, now in its 38th year, always plays an integral role in the award-season gold derby: Last year, it helped usher Trouble the Water and Frozen River toward Oscar, and if early reactions to The Cove are any indication, we may be looking at an early Best Doc contender. Exposing a tangled web that connects the sea parks of the world to a mysterious cove in Taiji, Japan, “a little town with a really big secret,” Louie Psihoyos’s nervy feel-gooder is notable for its rousing devotion to the means and ways of the activist firebrand.

This year’s program generated considerable press when Lee Daniels’s Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire was chosen as the closing-night film, only for Lionsgate to pull the Sundance-winner from the series soon after the lineup was announced, suggesting the studio would rather wait until, say, Toronto to begin fanning the flames of Mo’Nique’s Oscar ambitions. Now the fest closes with another Sundance triumph, Ondi Timoner’s Grand Jury Prize-winner We Live in Public, which, according to the Film Society of Lincoln center, “offers an insider’s view of the rise and fall of Internet pioneer Josh Harris, the ’Warhol of the Web,’ and a totally entertaining view of heady times in the art and technology vortex of 1990s Downtown Manhattan.”

With Unmade Beds, Alexis dos Santos returns to the festival two years after his remarkable Glue, suggesting that New Directors/New Films is nothing if not devoted to making a star of the Argentinean filmmaker. Other notable films, for better and for worse, include So Yong Kim’s follow-up to In Between Days, Treeless Mountain, a heartbreaking tale of familial abandonment; Stay the Same Never Change, a comatose, hissy-fitted extension of director Laurel Nakadate’s sexually-charged and self-absorbed visual art; Alexey German Jr.’s Paper Soldier, a dreamy cine-essay about the early days of the Soviet space program; and Marco Bechis’s BirdWatchers, which tells a story of great friction (between the white and indigenous lives that populate Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil) that is at once eerily poetic and didactic. Ed Gonzalez

$9.99 (Tatia Rosenthal)
Amreeka (Cherien Dabis)
Autumn (Özcan Alper)
Barking Water (Sterlin Harjo)
BirdWatchers (Marco Behis)
Can Go Through Skin (Esther Rots)
Cold Souls (Sophie Barthes)
The Cove (Louie Psihoyos)
Every Little Step (James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo)
The Fly (Vladimir Kott)
Give Me Your Hand (Pascal-Alex Vincent)
Harmony and Me (Bob Byington)
Home (Ursula Meier)
Louise-Michel (Benoît Delépine and Gustave de Kervern)
The Maid (Sebastián Silva)
Mid-August Lunc (Gianni Di Gregorio)
The Milk of Sorrow (Claudia Llosa)
Ordinary Boys (Daniel Hernández)
Paper Soldier (Alexey Germain Jr.)
Parque Via (Enrique Rivero)
The Shaft (Zhang Chi)
Stay the Same Never Change (Laurel Nakadate)
Treeless Mountain (So Yong Kim)
Unmade Beds (Alexis Dos Santos)
We Live in Public (Ondi Timoner)