Awards season kicks into gear at Film Society with two programs featuring Academy Award contenders beginning later this month. For Your Consideration: Oscar Hopefuls will spotlight films from around the world that are vying for Oscars in the Documentary and Foreign Language categories. For Your Consideration: Documentary Oscar Hopefuls (December 20 – 26) and For You Consideration: Foreign Oscar Hopefuls (December 27 – January 2) will highlight over two-dozen of some of the most acclaimed films of 2013.
For Your Consideration: Documentary Oscar Hopefuls will feature all 15 documentary contenders that made the short list for the Academy Awards® for Best Documentary Feature. The lineup includes the exploration of the horror of mass-killings in Indonesia and Hollywood obsession in Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing (New Directors New Films 2013, Human Rights Watch 2013); the secret dark side of keeping performing killer whales in captivity in Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish (Green Screens 2013); a complicated love between two New York artists in Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer; an examination of rebellion and protest in Russia in Mike Lerner & Maxim Pozdorovkin’s Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (Human Rights Watch 2012), director Sarah Polley’s intimate, personal portrait of her family in Stories We Tell (New Directors New Films 2013); compelling stories of back up singers who performed with and behind some of the greatest musical giants of the 21st century in Morgan Neville’s 20 Feet From Stardom; inside a revolution in Jehane Noujaim's The Square (NYFF) and a new theory behind Dutch master Johannes Vermeer's art in Teller's Tim's Vermeer (NYFF).
This year, a record 76 countries submitted contenders for Best Foreign Language Oscar consideration. The Academy has yet to give its short list for this group, so the number of possible contenders is still wide open. For Your Consideration: Foreign Oscar Hopefuls will screen 10 films that were submitted by their countries, including features from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and South America. Highlights include Wong Kar-wai's Berlin International Film Festival opener The Grandmaster, Thomas Vinterberg's Danish thriller The Hunt, Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Neighboring Sounds (New Directors/New Films 2012) and the first feature to be shot entirely in Saudi Arabia, Haifaa Al Mansour's Wadjda.
Tickets go on sale Thursday, December 12. Single screening tickets are $13; $9 for students and seniors (62+); and $8 for members of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. A three-film package is $30; $24 for students and seniors (62+); and $21 for Film Society members. The package discount prices apply with the purchase of tickets to three films or more. All screenings will take place at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, 144 West 65th Street. Visit FilmLinc.com for more information.
Morgan Neville's 20 Feet From Stardom.
Films and descriptions in both programs follow.
For Your Consideration: Documentary Oscar Hopefuls (December 20 – 26):
The Act of Killing (2012) 115m
Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
In this chilling and inventive documentary, executive produced by Errol Morris (The Fog Of War) and Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man), the filmmakers examine a country where death squad leaders are celebrated as heroes, challenging them to reenact their real-life mass-killings in the style of the American movies they love. The hallucinatory result is a cinematic fever dream, an unsettling journey deep into the imaginations of mass-murderers and the shockingly banal regime of corruption and impunity they inhabit. Winner of Best Documentary at the 2013 Gotham Independent Awards and played the 2013 Human Rights Watch Film Festival. A Drafthouse Films release.
Saturday, December 21, 6:20pm
Thursday, December 26, 1:30pm
The Armstrong Lie (2013) 124m
Director: Alex Gibney
In 2009, Alex Gibney was hired to make a film about Lance Armstrong’s comeback to cycling. The project was shelved when the doping scandal erupted, and re-opened after Armstrong’s confession. The Armstrong Lie picks up in 2013 and presents a riveting, insider's view of the unraveling of one of the most extraordinary stories in the history of sports. As Lance Armstrong says himself, “I didn’t live a lot of lies, but I lived one big one.” A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Friday, December 20, 9:15pm
Thursday, December 26, 4:00pm
Blackfish (2013) 83m
Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. Along the way, director-producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite compiles surprising footage and emotional interviews to explore the creature’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity, the lives and losses of the trainers, and the pressures brought to bear by the multi-billion dollar sea-park industry. This emotionally wrenching story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals. Screened at Green Screens 2013. A Magnolia Pictures release.
Tuesday, December 24, 5:00pm
Wednesday, December 25, 4:00pm
The Crash Reel (2013) 108m
Director: Lucy Walker
Training to compete against longtime rival Shaun White at the 2010 Winter Olympics, Kevin suffered massive head trauma from a 2009 accident in Park City, Utah. His tight-knit Vermont family flew to his side, and together they began an intensive process of trying to rehabilitate him and help him rebuild his permanently damaged life. Kevin's determination and the tireless support of family and friends kept him focused on recovery. But when he insisted he wanted to return to the sport he loved, his family objected. As an elite athlete, Kevin was a professional risk taker, but as a brain-injury survivor, his skills were now impaired, and even a small blow to the head could kill him. This eye-popping, yet intimate, story of U.S. champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce uses years of vérité footage to expose the potentially high price of participating in extreme- action sports. Winner of the Audience Award at SXSW 2013. An HBO Documentaries release.
Friday, December 20, 12:20pm
Thursday, December 26, 8:30pm
Jehane Noujaim's The Square.
Cutie And the Boxer (2013) 82m
Director: Zachary Heinzerling
A reflection on love, sacrifice, and the creative spirit, this candid New York documentary explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of renowned “boxing” painter Ushio Shinohara and his artist wife Noriko. As a rowdy, confrontational young artist in Tokyo, Ushio seemed destined for fame, but he is met with little commercial success after he moves to New York City in 1969, seeking international recognition. When 19-year-old Noriko moved to New York to study art, she fell in love with Ushio—abandoning her education to become the unruly artist’s wife and assistant. Over the course of their marriage, their roles shifted. Now 80, Ushio still struggles to establish his artistic legacy, while Noriko is at last being recognized for her own art—a series of drawings entitled “Cutie,” depicting her challenging past with Ushio. Spanning four decades, the film is a moving portrait of a couple wrestling with the eternal themes of sacrifice, disappointment and aging, against a background of lives dedicated to art. Winner of US Documentary Directing Award at Sundance 2013. A Radius-TWC release.
Sunday, December 22, 2:00pm
Tuesday, December 24, 7:00pm
Dirty Wars (2013) 87m
Director: Rick Rowley
It’s the dirty little secret of the War on Terror: all bets are off, and almost anything goes. We have fundamentally changed the rules of the game and the rules of engagement. Today drone strikes, night raids, and U.S. government–condoned torture occur in corners across the globe, generating unprecedented civilian casualties. Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill (author of BLACKWATER: The Rise of the World's Most Mercenary Army) traces the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command, the most secret fighting force in U.S. history, exposing operations carried out by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress. No target is off-limits for the JSOC “kill list,” even a U.S. citizen. Director Richard Rowley takes us on a chilling ride with whistle-blower Scahill. Dirty Wars is a battle cry for the soul and conscience of an America few of us know exists. Winner of Cinematography Award at Sundance 2013.
An IFC Films release.
Saturday, December 21, 2:00pm
Thursday, December 26, 6:30pm
First Cousin, Once Removed (2013) 78m
Director: Alan Berliner
Sometime in the new millennium, Edwin Honig—the distinguished poet, translator, critic and university professor—began showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, which gradually but inexorably brought on the loss of his memory, command of language and relation to the past. Filmmaker Alan Berliner—for whom Honig was a cousin, a friend and a mentor—documented their meetings over five years; his new film chronicles the steady decline of Honig’s mind and body, but also the strength and stamina of his spirit, as well as his innate charm and wonderfully playful way with words and sounds. Occasional moments of lucidity offer an insight as to the ways in which Honig attempts to make sense out of what is happening to him. First Cousin Once Removed is an unflinching essay on the fragility of being human, and a stark reminder of the profound role that memory plays in all of our lives. Screened at the 50th New York Film Festival.
An HBO Documentaries release.
Sunday, December 22, 6:30pm
Wednesday, December 25, 8:30pm
God Loves Uganda (2013) 83m
Director: Roger Ross Williams
With God Loves Uganda, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams (Music by Prudence) explores the role of the American Evangelical movement in fueling Uganda’s terrifying turn towards biblical law and the proposed death penalty for homosexuality. Thanks to charismatic religious leaders and a well-financed campaign, these draconian new laws and the politicians that peddle them are winning over the Ugandan public. But these dangerous policies and the money that fuels them aren’t coming from Africa; they’re being imported from some of America’s largest megachurches. Using vérité, interviews, and hidden camera footage, the film allows American religious leaders and their young missionaries that make up the “front lines in a battle for billions of souls” to explain their positions in their own words. Shocking and enlightening, touching and horrifying, God Loves Uganda will leave you questioning just how closely this brand of Christianity resembles the one you think you know. A Variance Films release.
Friday, December 20, 7:00pm
Saturday, December 21, 4:00pm
Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing.
Life According to Sam (2013) 90m
Director: Sean Fine, Andrea Nix Fine
In 1998, Dr. Leslie Gordon and Dr. Scott Berns learned that their two-year-old son, Sam, had progeria, a progressive aging disorder so rare that fewer than 250 children in the world had it at the time. Little was known about the disease, and all children with progeria died of heart attack or stroke at an average age of 13. Told there was no treatment or cure, they refused to accept that as the final verdict. An HBO Documentaries release.
Monday, December 23, 4:00pm
Wednesday, December 25, 2:00pm
Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (2013) 88m
Director: Mike Lerner, Maxim Pozdorovkin
In the winter of 2011, after a controversial election, Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin as president of Russia. The vote followed months of mass protests that challenged Putin’s rule. Around the same time, a group of young, radical-feminist punk rockers known as Pussy Riot took a stand against the direction Putin was taking Russia. Wearing colored balaclavas, tights, and summer dresses, they entered Moscow’s most venerated cathedral and air-guitared their way through 40 seconds of “Mother Mary, Banish Putin!” British filmmaker Mike Lerner and Russian Maxim Pozdorovkin collaborate to chronicle the way one small act of protest captured global attention. Putting a personal face on rebellion, they follow three women prepared to defend their actions no matter what it may cost them. Screened at Human Rights Watch 2013. An HBO Documentaries release.
Friday, December 20, 2:40pm
Saturday, December 21, 9:15pm
The Square (2013) 104m
Director: Jehane Noujaim
Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim (Control Room) and her crew spent 20 months shooting in Tahrir Square during the popular uprising against Hosni Mubarak, whose overthrow resulted in the inauguration of Arab Spring. For much of that time, Noujaim was in danger – she was regularly threatened, she was beaten, and at one point she was arrested and temporarily “disappeared”. From hundreds of hours of footage, she and her editors crafted this tense, vivid verité portrait of events as they unfolded through the eyes of several regular participants – one member of the Muslim Brotherhood and four liberals, one of whom, Khalid Abdalla, has acted in films like Green Zone and The Kite Runner. The Square was one of the triumphs of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. But, given the rapidly unfolding events in Egypt, Noujaim has returned to Egypt, shot much more footage, and prepared a revised version of The Square – cinema catching up with history-in-the-making. Screened at the 51st New York Film Festival and was the Audience Award Winner at Sundance 2013.
Sunday, December 22, 4:00pm
Monday, December 23, 8:15pm
Stories We Tell (2013) 91m
Director: Sarah Polley
What is real? What is true? What do we remember, and how do we remember it? Actor/director Sarah Polley turns from fiction to nonfiction, in the process cracking open family secrets. Using home movies, still photographs, and interviews, Polley delves into the life of her mother, a creative yet secretive woman. But while she is talking to her own relatives, Polley’s interest lies in the bigger picture of what families hold onto as truth. Stories We Tell is a delicately crafted personal essay about memory, loss, and understanding. Winner of Best Documentary for 2013 National Board of Review and screened at New Directors New Films 2013. A Roadside Attractions release.
Friday, December 20, 4:40pm
Wednesday, December 25, 6:00pm
Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell.
20 Feet From Stardom (2013) 91m
Director: Morgan Neville
Millions know their voices, but no one knows their names. In his compelling new film Twenty Feet From Stardom, award-winning director Morgan Neville shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others. These gifted artists span a range of styles, genres and eras of popular music, but each has a uniquely fascinating and personal story to share of life spent in the shadows of superstardom. Along with rare archival footage and a peerless soundtrack, Twenty Feet From Stardom boasts intimate interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger and Sting to name just a few. However, these world-famous figures take a backseat to the diverse array of backup singers whose lives and stories take center stage in the film. A Radius-TWC release.
Tuesday, December 24, 9:00pm
Tim's Vermeer (2013) 80m
Tim Jenison, one of the giants of video and post-production software for home computers, is always in search of new projects and simple solutions to apparently complex problems. After he read Philip Steadman and David Hockney’s hypotheses about Vermeer and his alleged use of optics, Jenison built his own camera obscura and decided that there was one missing component. He then put his theory to the test, which drove him, step by step, to his grandest and most obsessive project ever. Jenison built a “set” in a San Antonio studio that recreated Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson” one painstakingly crafted object at a time, from the ceiling beams to the jug on the carpeted table. In the process, he taught himself to paint. Narrated by the ever-ebullient Penn and directed by the silent Teller, both longtime friends of Jenison’s, Tim’s Vermeer is a bouncy, entertaining, real-life detective story. Screened at the 51st New York Film Festival. A Sony Pictures Classics release.
Monday, December 23, 6:30pm
Which Way Is The Front Line from Here? (2013) 78m
Director: Sebastian Junger
Shortly after the release of his documentary Restrepo, photographer Tim Hetherington was killed in Libya. Colleague and filmmaker Sebastian Junger traces Hetherington’s work across the world’s battlefields to reveal how he transcended the boundaries of image-making to become a luminary in his profession. An HBO Documentaries release.
Sunday, December 22, 8:45pm
Monday, December 23, 2:00pm
For Your Consideration: Foreign Oscar Hopefuls (December 27 – January 2):
An Afghan Love Story (Wajma) 2013 85m
Director: Barmak Akram
It's snowing in Kabul, and gregarious waiter Mustafa charms a pretty student named Wajma. The pair begins a clandestine relationship – they're playful and passionate but ever mindful of the societal rules they are breaking. After Wajma discovers she is pregnant, her certainty that Mustafa will marry her falters, and word of their dalliance gets out. Her father must decide between his culturally held right to uphold family honor and his devotion to his daughter.
Friday, December 27, 7:00pm
Monday, December 30, 7:00pm
An Episode In the Life of An Iron Picker (2013) 75m
Director: Danis Tanovic
Countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina/France/Slovenia
Nazif barely makes ends meet as an iron picker to support his family. He searches daily for scrap metal while his partner, Senada, tends to their home and their two young daughters. A third baby is on the way. When Senada’s life is threatened by a miscarriage and she needs urgent care, the couple must confront the cruelty and callousness of contemporary society. Winner of the Jury Grand Prix and Nazif Mujić won the Silver Bear for Best Actor at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival.
Sunday, December 29, 6:30pm
Tuesday, December 31, 3:15pm
Amat Escalante's Heli.
The Grandmaster (Yi dai zong shi) (2013) 108m
Director: Wong Kar Wai
Country: Hong Kong/China
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Wong Kar Wai, THE GRANDMASTER is an epic action feature inspired by the life and times of the legendary kung fu master, Ip Man. The story spans the tumultuous Republican era that followed the fall of China's last dynasty, a time of chaos, division and war that was also the golden age of Chinese martial arts. Filmed in a range of stunning locations that include the snow-swept landscapes of Northeast China and the subtropical South, THE GRANDMASTER features virtuoso performances by some of the greatest stars of contemporary Asian cinema, including Tony Leung and Ziyi Zhang. A Weinstein Company release.
Friday, December 27, 9:00pm
Tuesday, December 31, 8:00pm
Heli (2013) 105m
Director: Amat Escalante
Twelve-year old Estela has fallen madly in love with a young police cadet with whom she wants to run away and marry. As she pursues her dream, one deadly mistake leads to another, and she unwittingly drags her family into the horror of devastating drug violence. Amat Escalante won the Best Director prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. An Outsider Pictures release.
Saturday, December 28, 4:30pm
Thursday, January 2, 8:45pm
The Hunt (2012) 115m
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Mads Mikkelsen plays Lucas, a highly-regarded school teacher who has been forced to start over after overcoming a tough divorce. Just as things are starting to go his way, his life is shattered. An untruthful remark throws the small community in which he lives into a collective state of hysteria. The lie is spreading and Lucas is forced to fight a lonely fight for his life and dignity. A Magnolia Pictures release.
Saturday, December 28, 9:00pm
Wednesday, January 1, 6:00pm
In Bloom (Grzeli nateli dgeebi) (2013) 102m
Directors: Nana Ekvtimishvili & Simon Groß
Early nineties, in Tbilisi, the capital of the newly independent Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The country is facing violence, war on the Black Sea coast (Abkhazia) and vigilante justice that plague society. But for Eka and Natia, fourteen-year-old inseparable friends, life just unfolds: in the street, at school, with friends or elder sisters who are already dealing with men’s dominance, early marriage and disillusioned love. For these two girls in bloom life just goes on… Winner of the C.I.A.C.E. Jury Award at 2013 Berlin Film Festival. A Big World Pictures release.
Saturday, December 28, 6:45pm
Monday, December 30, 9:00pm
Haifaa Al Mansour's Wadjda.
Lines Of Wellington (Linhas de Wellington) (2012) 151m
Director: Valeria Sarmiento
After conquering Spain, Napoleon Bonaparte sent a powerful army to invade Portugal in 1810. The French plowed through the resistance mounted against them until, as they approached Lisbon, they were met by a combined British and Portuguese army under the command of the Viscount Wellington. That’s the general historical outline for Valeria Sarmiento’s extraordinarily intimate epic of the Peninsular War. Along the way, we witness love affairs and treachery, noble action and selfish cruelty, from the highest social echelons to the most humble quarters. Prepared by the late Raul Ruiz from a screenplay by Carlos Saboga (Mysteries of Lisbon), Lines of Wellington was completed by Sarmiento—Ruiz’s longtime editor as well as his widow—who has created a revealing portrait of life during what has been called one of the first examples of “total war.” The all-star cast includes Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Elsa Zylberstein, Marisa Paredes, and John Malkovich as Wellington. Screened at the 50th New York Film Festival.
Sunday, December 29, 8:15pm
Neighboring Sounds (O som ao redor) (2012) 124m
Director: Kleber Mendonça Filho
Country: Brazil, 2012
A thrilling debut from a breakout talent, Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Neighboring Sounds delves into the lives of a group of prosperous middle-class families residing on a quiet street, close to a low-income neighborhood. A private security firm hired to police the street becomes the catalyst for an exploration of the neighbors’ discontents and anxieties, which are exacerbated by a palpable sense of unease over their society’s troubled past and present inequities. Screened at New Directors New Films 2012. A Cinema Guild release.
Tuesday, December 31, 5:15pm
Wednesday, January 1, 8:30pm
Renoir (2012) 111m
Director: Gilles Bourdos
Set on the French Riviera in the summer of 1915, Gilles Bourdos’ lushly atmospheric drama tells the story of celebrated impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir, in declining health at age 74, and his middle son Jean, who returns home to convalesce after being wounded in World War I. … a fascinating moment of change, one century’s way of thinking giving way to the next, and the passing of the torch from a great painter to the great filmmaker of such classics as Grand Illusion and Rules of the Game. Screened at Rendez-Vous with French Cinema 2013. A Samuel Goldwyn Films release.
Monday, December 30, 4:30pm
Wednesday, January 1, 3:30pm
Wadjda (2012) 98m
Director: Haifaa Al Mansour
Countries: Germany/Saudi Arabia
WADJDA is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun loving, entrepreneurial and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with. After a fight with her friend Abdullah, a neighborhood boy she shouldn't be playing with, Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale. She wants the bicycle desperately so that she can beat Abdullah in a race. Winner of CinemAvvenire Award, C.I.C.A.E. Award and Interfilm Award at 2012 Venice Film Festival and winner of the NBR Freedom of Expression Award from the 2013 National Board of Review. A Sony Pictures Classic release.
Sunday, December 29, 4:30pm
Thursday, January 2, 6:30pm