The complete New Directors/New Films lineup was announced yesterday, with 28 features from 22 countries set to screen between March 23 and April 3. But it can be a little dizzying to look over the long list and try to decide which ones are right for you. So, with apologies to Wallace Stevens, here are 13 angles on the festival selections to help you get started.
1. Documentaries: There are four nonfiction films in the lineup this year. The Black Power Mixtape 1967–1975 offers insight into a turbulent moment in American history from an outsider perspective, cutting together footage shot of the Black Panthers, of Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Huey P. Newton and many others, by visiting Swedish journalists. Hit So Hard looks at the life of Patty Schemel, the drummer for the band Hole during their '90s heyday. Shut Up Little Man: An Audio Misadventure tells the tale of two friends whose audio recordings of their neighbors' drunken fights became viral hits before the term existed. El Velador explores a notorious “narco-cemetery” in Mexico where gaudy, grand memorials are built for passed drug lords.
2. Forbidden Love: Two teenage girls navigate the many restrictions imposed on their lives as women living under the Iranian regime, including the considerable one on their growing romantic relationship in Circumstance. In The Majority, a young Turkish man falls for a Kurdish girl his parents would never approve of.
3. Daughters: Attenberg and Curling are both centered around the atypical relationship of a father and daughter living in relative isolation, in a dying Greek industrial town in the former and rural Quebec in the latter. In Copacabana, Isabelle Huppert plays an unconventional mother trying to prove to her adult daughter that she can lead a “respectable” life, while in Pariah a teenage lesbian struggles to express her identity while her mother keeps hoping her child is just going through a “phase.”
4. Sons: A young man attempts to reconnect with his estranged father, an former love and a city that feels unfamiliar in Microphone, while in Summer of Goliath is populated by a trio of fatherless boys and a son whose mother believe her husband has abandoned her. The protagonist of Outbound has a young boy she hopes to reconnect with.
5. Rock 'n' Roll: Hit So Hard includes a peek not just at the rise of one of the major bands in the alternative scene, but also at how addiction and industry politics had their affect on the music. The cast of Some Days Are Better Than Others includes musicians Carrie Brownstein, of the late, great Sleater-Kinney, and James Mercer of The Shins.
6. Law and Order: A sad sack cop is one of the three disillusioned middle-aged Moscovites in Gromozeka, while the protagonist of The Destiny of Lesser Animals is a policeman in Ghana trying to track down the counterfeit passport he hopes to use to return to America.
7. Teenagers: The aimlessness of its four Chinese high schoolers inspired Mark Peranson to describe Winter Vacation as “South Park in slow motion.” Belle Epine portrays a more active adolescent rebellion of shoplifting, sex and motorcycle racing, brought on by the death of the heroine's mother.
8. Domestic Invaders: In Happy, Happy, the underlying problems in the life of a young family are made unignorable by the arrival of new neighbors who shatter their status quo. It's an unexpected visitor who disrupts the day-to-day of a Tokyo family in Hospitalité, bringing more and more guests into the lives of a quiet factory owner.
<p>9. Egypt: Following the recent revolution, cinematic insights into the country seems all the more relevant. 6,7,8 is set in Cairo, and deals with three women of different social classes as they fight against sexual harassment. Microphone is set in Alexandria, and shows a city with a blossoming underground art and music scene.
10. 24 Hours: Margin Call stretches over the course of a long night in an unnamed investment bank in Manhattan, imagining how our recent financial crisis was set in motion. Outbound tracks a young Romanian woman let loose from prison on a day pass who tries to remedy the many wrongs in her life over that very limited time.
11. Makeshift Families: When a baby is left on his doorstep, the Lima moneylender at the heart of Octubre forms an unexpected connection with his neighbor when he hires her to help care for the child. The abused wife in Tyrannasaur finds solace in her relationship with a rage-filled local man who, while no prize, offers her more stability than her frightening husband.
12. Awakenings: The death of their mother opens a pair of adult twins to a dark history of violence, war and betrayal in the unnamed Middle Eastern country in which she grew up in Incendies. The journey of self-discovery undergone by Jeanne Balibar's character in At Ellen's Age, on the other hand, takes the middle-aged woman from a complacent existence as a flight attendant into a world of animal rights activism.
13. Nostalgia: For the seven twentysomethings in Memory Lane, a late summer reunion in the town in which they all grew up may be their last chance to connect before moving on to adulthood, while the three grown men in Gromozeka battle everyday disappointments and look back to their carefree days as teenagers who played in a band.