Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac

Forget spring cleaning, a whole batch of new movies are coming to Film Society as the days get longer and the weather (hopefully) gets milder. Eleven films will open their theatrical runs here in the coming months, starting with Raoul Peck's Berlin and Human Rights Watch Film Festival feature Fatal Assistance on February 28. The film joins held-over features In Secret, Jimmy P. and Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil le Clercq.

The following week, Italian actress turned director Valeria Golino's Honey (Miele) will join the group, while two films from Japanese director Sion Sono, Guilty of Romance and Himizu, will bow later in the month. Freida Lee Mock's documentary Anita, which brought out audiences in droves at last year's Human Rights Watch Film Festival, will begin its theatrical run March 21. It will be joined the same day by Lars von Trier's much awaited (and debated) Nymphomaniac: Volume I starring Charlotte Gainsbourg as, well, a nymphomaniac. The salacious story continues as Nymphomaniac: Volume II wades deeper into carnal indulgence starting April 4.

[Related: Film Society and Indie Food & Wine's “Dinner and a Movie” deal.]

Jim Jarmusch will be the subject of a thorough retrospective in April ahead of the theatrical release of his NYFF51 hit Only Lovers Left Alive on April 11. In May, Gia Coppola's drama Palo Alto starring Emma Roberts, James Franco, and Val Kilmer starts its run at Film Society along with Swedish director Lukas Moodysson's festival favorite We Are The Best. And, as summer nears, Israeli feature Policeman opens. The film had its U.S. debut at the New York Film Festival two years back.

First-run films screening at the Film Society of Lincoln Center this Spring:

Fatal Assistance – Opens February 28 
Directed by Raoul Peck, France, Haiti, USA, Belgium

Award-winning Haitian-born filmmaker Raoul Peck takes us on a two-year journey inside the challenging, contradictory, and colossal rebuilding efforts in post-earthquake Haiti. Through its provocative and radical point of view, Fatal Assistance offers a devastating indictment of the international community’s post-disaster idealism. The film dives headlong into the complexity of the reconstruction process and the practices and impact of worldwide humanitarian and development aid, revealing the disturbing extent of a general failure. We learn that a major portion of the money pledged to Haiti was never disbursed, nor made it into the actual reconstruction. Fatal Assistance leads us to one clear conclusion: current aid policies and practice in Haiti need to stop immediately.
Berlin International Film Festival

San Francisco International Film Festival

Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Valeria Golino's Honey

Honey (Miele) – Opens March 7 
Directed by Valeria Golino, Italy

Her real name is Irene, but to her clients she is “Honey.” Operating from a seaside community outside of Rome, Honey provides peace to the terminally ill—who no longer wish to live—via a powerful barbiturate she smuggles in from Mexico. When one of her clients is revealed not to be sick but just tired of living, Honey resolves to stop his suicide. Eschewing the sermonizing one expects to find in similarly themed “issues” pictures, this thoughtful character study embraces the complexity of its world and inhabitants. The directorial debut of Italian actress Valeria Golino (Rain Man, Leaving Las Vegas) premiered at Un Certain Regard in last year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Cannes Film Festival (Ecumenical Jury special mention)
Karlovy Vary Film Festival
Chicago International Film Festival

Guilty of Romance (Koi no Tsumi) and Himizu – two films from Japanese filmmaker Sion Sono (Both open March 14)

Guilty of Romance: A grisly murder occurs in a love hotel district of Tokyo. A woman was found dead in a derelict apartment. Whilst the police investigate, the story interweaves with that of Izumi, the wife of a famous romantic novelist whose life seems just a daily repetition without romance. One day, to break away from the loveless monotony, she decides to follow her desires and accepts a job as a nude model enacting sex in front of the camera. Soon she meets with a mentor and starts selling her body to strangers, whilst at home she hides behind the facade that she is still the wife she is supposed to be.
Cannes Film Festival
Karlovy Vary
Busan International Film Festival

Himizu: A drama based on a manga of the same name by Minoru Furuya. The word “Himizu” means “the species of a mole” in Japanese. The film screened in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival. Cast members Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaido received the Marcello Award for Best New Young Actor and Actress nods at the event.
Venice Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival

Freida Lee Mock's Anita

Anita (Opens March 21)

Directed by Freida Mock, USA

On October 11, 1991, a poised young law professor sent shock waves through the nation as she sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee intrepidly testifying to the lewd behavior of a Supreme Court nominee. Twenty years later, Academy Award winner Freida Mock brings us Anita, which crystallizes the sexist power dynamics in the room that day and unravels the impact of that lightning-rod moment on Anita Hill’s life and the broader discussion of gender inequality in America. Contemporary interviews with Hill and her allies, and unsettling archival footage,reveal the way her attempt to report confidentially on Clarence Thomas’s conduct quickly became a perverse and vicious public attack on her character and credibility. Hill’s hearing became a charade of justice. Yet her audacity to speak out detonated a national debate about sexual harassment that revolutionized gender politics.  

Human Rights Watch Film Festival 
Sundance Film Festival 

Nymphomaniac: Volume I – Opens March 21
Directed by Lars von Trier, Denmark

So much has been written and speculated about Nymphomaniac in the year before it first began. A sneak preview of Volume I of the film at the Sundance Film Festival in January brought out a raucous crowd (not the least of which because local liquor laws banning booze in the theater were skirted since the Sneak Preview was actually a private event). But all speculation and sensational headlines aside, here is the basic plot of the film starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, and Stacy Martin: “A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating.” Volume I deals with the early life of “Joe” (Martin) as re-told by adult “Joe” (Gainsbourg).

Nymphomaniac: Volume II – Opens April 4
Directed by Lars von Trier, Denmark

After Volume I's early frolic, Volume II continues with Joe's sexual addiction, which delves into the darker aspects of her adult life and what led to the predicament, which lead her into Seligman's care (the man who rescues her in Volume I).

Ilo Ilo – Opens April 4
Directed by Anthony Chen, Singapore

Set in Singapore in the late 1990s, a friendship develops between Filipino maid Teresa and troublesome young boy Jiale ends up igniting a mother's jealousy. The turmoil takes place against the backdrop of the Asian financial crisis. Ilo Ilo was Singapore's official entry for Foreign Language Oscar consideration.
Cannes Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
London Film Festival
Busan International Film Festival
Palm Springs International Film Festival

Only Lovers Left Alive – Opens April 11
Directed by Jim Jarmusch, USA

[Related: Jim Jarmusch Retro to Include All 11 of His Features]  

Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston make a dashing and very literal first couple—centuries-old lovers Eve and Adam—in Jim Jarmusch’s wry, tender take on the vampire genre. When we first meet the pair, he’s making rock music in Detroit while she’s hanging out with an equally ageless Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt) in Tangiers. (Long-distance spells aren’t such a big deal when you’ve been together throughout hundreds of years.) Between sips of untainted hospital-donated blood, they struggle with depression and an ever-changing world, reflect on their favorite humans (Buster Keaton, Albert Einstein, Jack White) and watch time go by, each finding stability in the other.
Cannes Film Festival
Reykjavik International Film Festival
BFI London Film Festival
Thessaloniki International Film Festival
Torino Film Festival

Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive

Palo Alto – Opens May 9
Directed by Gia Coppola, USA

Directed and written by Gia Coppola based on short stories by James Franco, the dark drama is centered on a group of teens with a penchant for finding trouble.
Telluride Film Festival

We Are the Best – Opens May 30
Directed by Lukas Moodysson, Sweden

Based on a graphic novel by Coco Moodysson, the film tells a humourous story about three outsiders in 80's Stockholm – Bobo, Klara and Hedvig. The trio are 13-year-old girls who roam the streets who are at once brave, tough, strong, weak, confused and weird. They have to take care of themselves way too early, heating fish fingers in the toaster when mom is at the pub. The young women start a punk band without any instruments, even though everybody says “punk is dead.”
Venice Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival
BFI London Film Festival
AFI Fest

Policeman – Opens June 13
Directed by Nadav Lapid, Israel

A boldly conceived drama pivoting on the initially unrelated activities of an elite anti-terrorist police unit and some wealthy young anarchists, Policeman is a striking first feature from writer-director Nadav Lapid. Provocatively timely in light of recent unrest tied to social and economic inequities in Israel, this is a powerfully physical film in its depiction of the muscular, borderline sensual way the macho cops relate to one another, as well as for the emphatic style with which the opposing societal forces are contrasted and finally pitted against one another. Although the youthful revolutionaries come off as petulant and spoiled, their point about the growing gap between the Israeli haves and have-nots cannot be ignored, even by the policemen sent on a rare mission to engage fellow countrymen rather than Palestinians.
Jerusalem Film Festival (prize winner)
Locarno Film Festival (Special Jury prize)