Film at Lincoln Center and The Museum of Modern Art Thursday announced a virtual return of the 49th annual New Directors/New Films festival rescheduled from last March to December 9-20.
The 50-year old fest’s 2020 lineup of 24 features and 10 shorts will be available to audiences nationwide for the first time, screening exclusively in the FLC Virtual Cinema.
The lineup, drawing heavily from the international film festival circuit with award-winners from Sundance, Venice, Rotterdam and Locarno, was initially announced in February before COVID-19 hit. Amanda McBain and Jesse Moss’ Boys State (Sundance U.S. Grand Jury Prize for documentary), Maite Alberdi’s The Mole Agent, and Collective by Romanian filmmaker Alexander Nanau will have opened before the festival’s new dates and be presented as special screenings with details to be announced. Babyteeth, Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, and Surge were part of the original ND/NF lineup but are unavailable to screen in the rescheduled edition.
“The year 2020 has been one of tremendous upheaval and loss. The COVID-19 pandemic has darkened our theaters — for now — but we are more in touch and in love with cinema than ever before. We are excited to take our festival virtual and celebrate this class of new directors who embody the innovative and nimble spirit essential for reinvigoration,” said La Frances Hui, curator of film at The Museum of Modern Art and 2020 New Directors/New Films co-chair.
Boys State, a look at a mock election program for Texas high school students, and The Mole Agent, a noirish observational documentary that follows an octogenarian on his comedic first stint as an undercover spy at a Chilean nursing home, had previously been selected as, respectively, opening and closing night films, which aren’t happening for the virtual version.
Also from Sundance, Fernanda Valadez’s Identifying Features (Sundance winner World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award and Best Screenplay Award) follows a mother’s search for her son after he disappears travelling across the Mexico-U.S. border.
From Venice, ND/NF will feature Orizzonti Prize-winner Atlantis. The debut from Valentyn Vasyanovych follows a distressed ex-Ukrainian soldier as he navigates uninhabitable land in a near dystopian future.
Highlights from Rotterdam include Zheng Lu Xinyuan’s debut feature The Cloud in Her Room, an autobiographical portrait of a young woman confronting her past; Janis Rafa’s Kala azar on the relationship between humans and animals; and Arun Karthick’s Nasir, on the looming violence that follows a Muslim man struggling to support his family in South India.
Maya Da-Rin’s Locarno FIPRESCI Prize-winning debut feature The Fever looks at the daily hardships of a father and daughter from Brazil’s indigenous Desana tribe. Senegalese filmmaker Mamadou Dia’s Nafi’s Father is a tragic tale about two brothers facing political and moral crisis.
Other debuts include Carlos Lenin’s The Dove and the Wolf, Nadège Trebal’s fiction debut Twelve Thousand; Two of Us from Filippo Meneghetti; Uruguayan poet and filmmaker Alex Piperno’s Window Boy Would Also Like to Have a Submarine; and Robert Machoian’s solo directorial debut The Killing of Two Lovers.
“We have everything from speculative war films to intimate dramas, unnerving works of science fiction to political documentaries, hailing from countries often represented on screen as well as some seen less commonly. Collectively these films speak to the continued vibrancy and daring of world cinema in an age of political uncertainty and cultural sameness. They prove that cinema still has what it takes to reflect and enhance the moment we live in,” said Film at Lincoln Center Director of Programming and 2020 New Directors/New Films Co-Chair Dennis Lim.
New Directors/New Films is presented by Film at Lincoln Center and The Museum of Modern Art and is supported by Film at Lincoln Center’s New Wave Membership Program. The selection committee is made up of members from both presenting organizations. The 2020 feature committee comprised Dennis Lim (Co-Chair, FLC), La Frances Hui (Co-Chair, MoMA), Florence Almozini (FLC), Rajendra Roy (MoMA), Dan Sullivan (FLC), and Sophie Cavoulacos (MoMA), and the shorts were programmed by Tyler Wilson (FLC) and Brittany Shaw (MoMA).
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