Coming Attractions: New Directors/New Films, 2015

03/18/2015 10:47 AM |
Marielle Heller's 'Diary of a Teenage Girl', the Opening Night film of New Directors/New Films 2015.

MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s New Directors/New Films does exactly what it says on the tin. This annual showcase, which this year runs from March 18-29, spans emerging filmmakers from the global festival circuit, including no-budget debutantes from our own backyard, to Great New Hopes of national cinemas we should all know more about, to more polished efforts from rising talents distinguishing themselves at home and abroad. A selection of features is reviewed below (alongside one short, though many more will screen with features and with shorts programs). For more films, a complete schedule, tickets et cetera, see


Tired Moonlight
Directed by Britni West
West, currently of Bed-Stuy, returns to Kalispell, Montana, on the edge of Glacier National Park (also the hometown of Brad Bird and Michelle Williams!), for a feature debut in the recent tradition of Matt Porterfield and Tim Sullivan’s new regional American indie cinema: a locally recruited nonpro cast enacts everyday scenarios with a lazy-river plotlessness, for a camera swayed equally by the currents of accidental natural and man-made beauty, and observationally based anthropology and class consciousness. In Tired Moonlight, shot on Super 16mm, frequent magic-hour photography, and voiceovers showcasing the poetic ambitions of multiple characters, give an echo of 70s Malick (so too does the puncturing rude humor, like a motel-room seduction interrupted by a coughing fit). But the lives of the characters—three generations of women, from late middle-age to too-young single-mom to quietly uninhibited preschooler, are the steadiest presences in the film, though poets and video-store owners and stock-car racers also take their low-key turns—frequently orbit around bargain-hunting, reselling, throwing things out and cleaning things up, making Tired Moonlight a film about remnants, and making its ensemble finale, at the town’s July 4th celebration, into some kind of American elegy. Mark Asch (March 19, 6:30pm at the Walter Reade; March 21, 3:30pm at MoMA)



The Fool
Directed by Yuriy Bykov
The Fool is presumably one of those movies the Russian Ministry of Culture doesn’t want you to see—paradoxically, since it addresses half the themes on the Ministry’s approved-movie-topics list. “Family values”: Plumber Dima is trying to get an engineering certification, make things better for his wife and son; everyone else in the city steals things from work to make their summer homes a little cozier. “A society without borders”—seriously, everyone. Dima’s nothing if not “a modern hero in the fight against corruption”—he’s trying to save 800-odd people living in a high-rise soon due to collapse. And certainly it’s an “inspirational success story”—not for Dima or the 800, but for the Powers that Be, whose dachas suffer no damage. Elina Mishuris (March 19, 8:45pm at MoMA; March 21, 9:15pm at the Walter Reade)



The Creation of Meaning
Directed by Simone Rapisarda Casanova
Layering fiction, documentary, ethnography, and even found—or perhaps adopted—footage, Casanova’s compound film counts Borges’s mystical story of “The Aleph,” a tale of a secret sphere where all space and time intermingles, as one of its crucial influences. And indeed, Casanova casts his sights to the past, present, and future, to topics big and small. But in The Creation of Meaning, Tuscany’s Apuan Alps are his teeming space and Pacifico Pieruccioni, an elderly, but spry farmer, his chief avatar; WWII anecdotes overlap with a hysterical pro-Berlusconi talk radio rant and shots of a grazing goat. Searching, earthy, and droll, Casanova has made a tour of time, space, and place, an occasionally overgrown net of history, genre, and feeling whose roundabout aim it is to catch nothing short of sense and significance. Jeremy Polacek (March 19, 9pm at the Walter Reade; March 20, 6:15pm at MoMA)



White God
Directed by Kornél Mundruczó
Taking more than one cue from the George Lucas “just strangle a kitten!” school of tension-building, Kornél Mundruczó’s 2014 Un Certain Regard prizewinner, in which a preteen girl’s traumatic coming-of-age is juxtaposed with her beloved mutt being “broken” in a Budapest where mongrels are rendered second-class canine citizens, straddles studio-canvas tentpole filmmaking with great assuredness. The film winks on occasion in naturalism’s direction (albeit a more Greengrassian type than Bressonian, despite White God having received many comparisons for animal suffering, I guess, with Au Hasard Balthazar). When the tidal wave of pissed-off-animal payback finally does happen, it is of course impossible not to cheer—once because it’s the film’s selling point, a second time because it’s also hilarious for the watching. Steve Macfarlane (March 20, 9pm at the Walter Reade; March 21, 6pm at MoMA)