Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2023 7:17 am 
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Lío Mehiel in Mutt. Sundance Institute.

The complete 2023 New Directors/New Films lineup:

From Film at Lincoln Center

Features

Absence dir. Wu Lang
Almost Entirely a Slight Disaster dir. Umut Subaşi
Arnold Is a Model Student dir. Sorayos Prapapann
Ashkal: The Tunisian Investigation dir. Youssef Chebbi
Astrakan dir. David Depesseville
Autobiography dir. Makbul Mubarak
Chile ’76 dir. Manuela Martelli
Coconut Head Generation dir. Alain Kassanda
Disco Boy dir. Giacomo Abbruzzese
Earth Mama dir. Savanah Leaf
Family Time dir. Tia Kouvo
Gush dir. Fox Maxy
Have You Seen This Woman? dir. Dušan Zorić, Matija Gluščević
Joyland dir. Saim Sadiq
Leila’s Brothers dir. Saeed Roustaee
Maputo Nakuzandza dir. Ariadne Zampaulo
Metronom dir. Alexandru Belc
Milisuthando dir. Milisuthando Bongela
Mutt dir. Vuk Lungulov-Klotz
Pamfir dir. Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk
Petrol dir. Alena Kodkina
Remembering Every Night dir. Yui Kiyohara
The Face of the Jellyfish dir. Melisa Liebenthal
The Maiden dir. Graham Foy
Safe Place dir. Juraj Lerotić
Tommy Guns dir. Carlos Conceicao
Tótem dir. Lila Avilés

Shorts

48 Hours dir. Azadeh Moussavi
Aqueronte dir. Manuel Muñoz Rivas
Center, Ring, Mall dir. Mateo Vega
Chomp It! dir. Mark Chua and Lam Li Shuen
Civic dir. Dwayne LeBlanc
Escasso dir. Gabriela Gaia Meirelles, Clara Anastácia
Jitterbug dir. Ayo Akingbade
The Kidnapping of the Bride dir. Sophia Mocorrea
Human Nature dir. Mónica Lima
Serafina dir. Noa Epars, Anna Simonetti
The Spiral dir. María Silvia Esteve

ND/NF demonstrates that there isn’t just one way forward for young directors entering the vanguard of filmmaking. Directors who were presented to New York audiences in earlier ND/NF editions, some for the very first time, include Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Kelly Reichardt, Pedro Almodóvar, Souleymane Cissé, Euzhan Palcy, Jia Zhangke, Spike Lee, Lynne Ramsay, Michael Haneke, Wong Kar Wai, Agnieszka Holland, Lino Brocka, Guillermo del Toro, Luca Guadagnino, and more than a thousand others. Although the program has grown in size and stature, ND/NF maintains its commitment to experimentation and sharing the gift of discovery with audiences.

The New Directors/New Films selection committee is made up of members from both presenting organizations. The 2023 feature committee comprises La Frances Hui (Co-Chair, MoMA), Florence Almozini (Co-Chair, FLC), Rajendra Roy (MoMA), Josh Siegel (MoMA), Dan Sullivan (FLC), and Tyler Wilson (FLC), and the shorts were programmed by Olivia Priedite (MoMA) and Maddie Whittle (FLC).

Opening Night
Earth Mama
Savanah Leaf, USA, 2023, 97m
New York Premiere
A devastating and evocative portrait of motherhood refracted through the prisms of race and class, Savanah Leaf’s auspicious debut feature (expanding upon her documentary short, The Heart Still Hums [2020]) is a deeply affecting work of cinematic humanism. Set in the Bay Area, the film follows Gia (portrayed with immense complexity by Oakland rapper Tia Nomore) as she contends with pregnancy and poverty while longing for her children (who have been placed in foster care) and dodging Child Protective Services in the fear that they’ll take her soon-to-be-born baby from her as well. Facing an impossible situation, Gia warms to the idea of giving her baby up for adoption, and connects with a well-meaning, middle-class couple (Sharon Duncan-Brewster and Bokeem Woodbine), who could potentially give the child a better life. But a constellation of factors—especially Gia’s own sense of guilt—lays bare the fact that, for Gia, there is simply no way to win. Lensed in richly textured 16mm by Jody Lee Lipes, Earth Mama is both a heartrending film about a young woman grappling with the most fundamental questions of motherhood amid utterly hostile socioeconomic conditions, and a formally sophisticated work that suggests and conjures rather than facilely connecting the dots for us. An A24 release.

Wednesday, March 29
6:30pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Savanah Leaf)
7:00pm, FLC Francesca Beale Theater

Thursday, March 30
6:00pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Savanah Leaf)

Closing Night
Mutt
Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, 2023, USA, 87m
English and Spanish with English subtitles
New York Premiere
Over the course of 24 breathless hours in New York City, twentysomething Feña (electrifying newcomer Lío Mehiel, winner of a Special Jury Award at Sundance for his performance) must contend with an onslaught of aggravations, surprise encounters, and emotional choices. Feña unexpectedly reconnects with an estranged ex-boyfriend (Cole Doman), is suddenly saddled with his wayward little sister (MiMi Ryder), and nervously awaits their father (Alejandro Goic), who’s arriving from Chile for a visit that promises to be anything but easy. Feña must stay afloat and resilient amidst all this despite being driven to a near breaking point. With precision and sensitivity, first-time director Vuk Lungulov-Klotz has confidently, lovingly constructed a day in the life of a young trans man whose every action is a negotiation among a difficult past, an unsettled present, and an unknown but hopeful future.

Saturday, April 8
7:00pm, MoMA T1 (Q&A with Vuk Lungulov-Klotz)

Sunday, April 9
7:00pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Vuk Lungulov-Klotz)

Absence
Wu Lang, 2023, China, 102m
Mandarin with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Lee Kang-sheng, best known for his indelible starring roles in the films of Tsai Ming-liang over more than 30 years, holds the screen with his customary stoic vulnerability in this stirring feature debut from Chinese director Wu Lang. Here he plays Han Jiangyu, who has returned to the island province of Hainan after a long stint in prison, endeavoring to reconnect with his former girlfriend (Li Meng), a hairdresser, and the little girl who might be his daughter. At the same time, he must navigate the difficulties of a new job in construction while the country’s real estate boom begins to unravel. Wu eludes cliché, using the camera in continually gorgeous and unexpected fashion in this story about the slow process of rejoining a world that seems to have irrevocably moved on.

Sunday, April 2
3:00pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Wu Lang)

Monday, April 3
6:00pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Wu Lang)

Almost Entirely a Slight Disaster
Umut Subasi, 2023, Turkey, 88m
Turkish with English subtitles
North American Premiere
In contemporary Istanbul, a small group of interconnected millennials aimlessly grasp for love, work, friendship, and financial stability. They devote themselves to mindless games and romantic dead-ends while ignoring the larger world. Stuck in a cyclical rut, they aspire to escape from their problems but seem unable to do more than hope. In this trenchant, consistently surprising portrait of malaise pushed to near absurdity, debut feature filmmaker Umut Subasi uses a rigorous, deadpan aesthetic to tease out the melancholies and hypocrisies of his delicate foursome, whose lives intertwine and ricochet off one another. It’s a tale of urban chance and coincidence, shot through with sympathy and cathartic humor.

Tuesday, April 4
6:00pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Umut Subasi)

Wednesday, April 5
8:45pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Umut Subasi)

Arnold Is a Model Student
Sorayos Prapapan, 2022, Thailand/Singapore/France/Netherlands/Philippines, 85m
Thai with English subtitles
New York Premiere
Taking a deceptively comic approach to contemporary social and political realities in his native Thailand, debut filmmaker Sorayos Prapapan has fashioned an original and gripping vision set in the rigid, cutthroat environment of high school. As the title promises, senior student Arnold excels at his studies and is a frontrunner for education scholarships and accolades. Yet after returning from studying abroad in the United States, he begins to question the meaning and authoritarian practices of school itself, and his growing awareness then makes him ripe for temptation into an underground cheating ring. Based in part on the Bad Student movement in Thailand, which saw high schoolers taking a stand against physical punishment, dress codes, and other autocratic practices, Prapapan’s movie presents a hard, highly entertaining look at the options open to young people in a dictatorial world.

Saturday, April 8
2:00pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Sorayos Prapapan)

Sunday, April 9
7:30pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Sorayos Prapapan)

Ashkal: The Tunisian Investigation
Youssef Chebbi, 2022, Tunisia/France/Qatar, 94m
Arabic and French with English subtitles
New York Premiere
In Tunisian director Youssef Chebbi’s assured and gripping thriller, a young detective named Fatma (Fatma Oussaifi) investigates a disturbing series of connected deaths—all of them apparent suicides by self-immolation. Ashkal: The Tunisian Investigation (“shapes” in Arabic) is set in the environs of a halted construction site for a district in northern Tunis that never came to be—called the Gardens of Carthage, it had been intended for dignitaries of the country’s former regime before the 2010 revolution. A nocturnal descent, the film uses startling imagery that evokes 21st-century political traumas, most blatantly the death of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi. While Fatma combats misogyny in her own profession and political pressures in the city at large, she begins to succumb to obsession with an increasingly confounding case. A Yellow Veil Pictures release.

Tuesday, April 4
8:30pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Youssef Chebbi)

Wednesday, April 5
6:00pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Youssef Chebbi)

Astrakan
David Depesseville, 2022, France, 105m
French with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
This disarming and surprising second film by French director David Depesseville takes a largely observational approach to the story of young Samuel (Mirko Giannini), a traumatized orphan on the cusp of teenagehood trying to adjust to life with his new, rural foster family, headed by the overwhelmed but sympathetic Marie (Jehnny Beth) and the violent Clément (Bastien Bouillon). With an elliptical approach, Depesseville gently touches upon Samuel’s difficulties coming to terms with his remote substitute parents and brothers, his sexual awakening with the girl next door, and, most disturbingly, the improper attention Marie’s troubled brother seems to devote to the boys. With a gentle, unhurried, but compelling style, Depesseville transports the viewer into the boy’s mundane world, while, in a bold stylistic move, also offering the possibility for the child’s spiritual transcendence. An Altered Innocence release.

Thursday, March 30
8:30pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with David Depesseville)

Saturday, April 1
3:30pm, FLC Walter Reade (Q&A with David Depesseville)

Autobiography
Makbul Mubarak, 2022, Indonesia/France/Singapore/Poland/Philippines/Germany/Qatar, 115m
Indonesian with English subtitles
New York Premiere
Both a coming-of-age morality tale and a riveting political thriller, the feature debut by Indonesian critic turned filmmaker Makbul Mubarak follows the dangerous downward spiral of 18-year-old housekeeper’s son Rakib (Kevin Ardilova) as he falls under the spell of his new boss, Purna (Arswendy Bening Swara), a retired military general running for local office. Hired to assist with odd jobs and to act as the older man’s driver, Rakib, whose father is in prison, finds himself gradually pulled into increasingly sinister territory, which at once awakens his conscience and unleashes his darker capabilities. Autobiography is a chilling, elegantly shot portrait of the seductiveness of power, as well as Mubarak’s personal expression of his country’s struggles under military dictatorship.

Saturday, April 8
7:00pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Makbul Mubarak)

Sunday, April 9
2:15pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Makbul Mubarak)

Chile ’76
Manuela Martelli, 2022, Chile/Argentina/Qatar, 95m
Spanish with English subtitles
New York Premiere
In a gripping debut feature constructed with sinister elegance and mounting tension, Manuela Martelli places the viewer in a historical moment fraught with anxiety: the early years of Augusto Pinochet’s regime in Chile. Her narrative presents Pinochet’s oppressive reign from the unusual and surprising perspective of Carmen (a superb Aline Küppenheim), an upper-middle-class woman whose life begins to unravel after local priest Father Sánchez (Hugo Medina) implores her to use her summer beach house, under renovation, to hide an injured young man (Nicolás Sepúlveda) whom she comes to suspect is a victim of political prosecution. As Carmen descends into danger, she experiences a gradual moral awakening. Martelli’s film is a taut, evocative, and impressively assured depiction of the inescapable, ever-tightening noose of patriarchal, governmental dictatorship and how its effects gradually bleed into our everyday experiences. A Kino Lorber release.

Friday, April 7
8:45pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater

Sunday, April 9
5:00pm, MoMA T2

Coconut Head Generation
Alain Kassanda, 2023, France/Nigeria, 89m
English, Pidgin, Yoruba, and French with English subtitles
North American Premiere
The term “coconut head generation” originated as an insult targeting today’s Nigerian twentysomethings, who have been sweepingly mischaracterized as lazy and apathetic. Reclaiming the term as an ironic self-moniker, a growing number of the nation’s youth are instead proving themselves to be politically and morally engaged. In this invigorating observational documentary, Kinshasa-born, French-raised filmmaker Alain Kassanda captures the words and emotions of students at the University of Ibadan in southwestern Nigeria. The country’s first university, it was founded in 1948 and is still reckoning with its colonial British legacy. Here, students have begun a weekly film club, where screenings of work by such directors as Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, John Akomfrah, and Med Hondo instigate intellectual conversation. Immersing himself with students engaged in spirited debates over contemporary Nigerian society’s ever-present power imbalances and sometimes heated discussions around ethnicity, feminism, and gender, Kassanda proves to be a forceful new voice in nonfiction by ceding the floor to a vibrant new generation.

Saturday, April 8
4:30pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Alain Kassanda)

Sunday, April 9
12:00pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Alain Kassanda)

Disco Boy
Giacomo Abbruzzese, 2023, France/Italy/Belgium/Poland, 92m
French, English Nigerian, Polish, Russian, and lgbo with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Franz Rogowski (Transit) adds another psychologically complex character to his growing filmography as a Belarusian emigrant making his way through Poland with a friend in the hope of settling in France. After arriving in Paris undocumented, he ends up being placed for training in the French Foreign Legion. During service, his fate becomes intertwined with that of a Nigerian villager (Morr N’Diaye) mounting an insurgency against the French oil companies that have made life difficult for him and his family in their home on the petroleum-rich Niger Delta. Through this scenario, debut-feature director Giacomo Abbruzzese investigates contemporary globalist Europe—the intertwined consequences of capitalism, militarism, and immigration—while also creating an interior portrait of the emotional fallout from violence and guilt. Abbruzzese’s ambitious film is a jarring, visually rich tale of exploitation and the possibility of transcendence. 2023 Winner Silver Bear for Outstanding Artistic Contribution to cinematographer Hélène Louvart.

Friday, March 31
6:00pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Giacomo Abbruzzese)

Saturday, April 1
8:30pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Giacomo Abbruzzese)

The Face of the Jellyfish
Melisa Liebenthal, 2022, Argentina, 75m
Spanish, Italian, German, and Russian with English subtitles
North American Premiere
A wryly comic examination of the meaning of human identity, Melisa Liebenthal’s film follows Marina (Rocío Stellato), a woman in her early thirties who has been stricken with a strange malady: her face has changed. From this simple premise, the director asks how much of our selves and personhood are connected to what we look like, and how difficult it would be simply to start over. Rather than constructing a Kafkaesque dreamscape, Liebenthal grounds Marina’s experiences in the everyday, then expands out to inquire how human individuated identity compares with that of the animal kingdom, incorporating footage of mammals, reptiles, birds, and aquatic species.

Sunday, April 2
12:00pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Melisa Liebenthal)

Monday, April 3
6:00pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Melisa Liebenthal)

Family Time
Tia Kouvo, 2023, Finland, 116m
Finnish with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
In a remote, rustic house tucked in the snowy Finnish woods, a family gathers for a Christmas that’s anything but idyllic. Debut feature filmmaker Tia Kouvo allows each of the characters to come to gradual, vivid life: the grandfather who has alienated everyone with his drinking, the grandmother tired of putting a happy face on her situation, their bickering grown daughters and alienated son-in-law, and three grandkids trying to go their own ways. With accumulating humor and tragedy, and using precisely calibrated static frames, Kouvo expertly depicts the forced togetherness and claustrophobia of the holiday and, perhaps even more unsettling, what happens when everyone has to go back to their normal routines. A lovingly etched yet unsparing picture of estrangement and melancholy, Family Time is an entirely relatable expression of the cyclical patterns of behavior that can thwart our attempts at connection.

Saturday, April 1
7:45pm, MoMA T2

Sunday, April 2
12:00pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater

Gush
Fox Maxy, 2023, USA, 71m
New York Premiere
In her first feature, acclaimed video artist Fox Maxy uncorks a deluge of images captured and created over nearly 10 years. Drawn from Maxy’s personal archives, Gush is a kaleidoscopic swirl of moments that exists outside of common genres and forms, evoking through recalled words and rhyming visuals the experience of trauma and recovery. Using a mix of original documentary footage, archival television clips, animation, and other formats, sometimes layered on top of one another, Maxy interrogates sexual violence and personal freedom in a highly intimate, deeply personal style. Gush provides a space for celebrating confidence, community, and joy—even and especially amidst the sensory barrage of contemporary living.

Saturday, April 1
6:15pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Fox Maxy)

Sunday, April 2
2:15pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Fox Maxy)

Have You Seen This Woman?
Dušan Zorić and Matija Gluščević, 2022, Serbia/Croatia, 79m
Serbo-Croatian with English subtitles
North American Premiere
In their nervy and eccentric feature debut, filmmakers Dušan Zorić and Matija Gluščević use the template of an apparent missing-person story to expand upon ever more provocative inquiries into the malleability of identity and the invisibility of daily living. Ksenija Marinkovic gives a daring, remarkable performance as Draginja, the centerpiece of this ever-shifting narrative, a door-to-door vacuum cleaner vendor whose reality is shaken when she happens upon a dead body while on her rounds. Yet this is just the first of Draginja’s various embodiments, each more outlandish and disturbing than the previous. Set in a depressed yet vividly evoked working-class Belgrade, the haunting Have You Seen This Woman? is an often funny, always unpredictable vision of the sometimes-nightmarish search for oneself.

Thursday, April 6
8:45pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Dušan Zorić and Matija Gluščević)

Friday, April 7
6:00pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Dušan Zorić and Matija Gluščević)

Joyland
Saim Sadiq, 2022, Pakistan/USA, 127m
Urdu and Punjabi with English subtitles
New York Premiere
Garnering acclaim and accolades around the world, including the prestigious Queer Palm at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, this transgressive and humane drama bravely interrogates expectations around gender and sexuality in contemporary Pakistan. In the city of Lahore, married househusband Haider (Ali Junejo), long out of work, finally lands an unexpected gig as a backup dancer for transgender performer Biba (Alina Khan), a popular local exotic dancer with whom he becomes infatuated. Hiding the particulars of his work from his conservative family, Haider nevertheless feels free to tell his more open-minded, progressive wife, Mumtaz (Rasti Farooq), though she is going through her own difficulties after being forced to leave her beloved hairdressing job now that her husband is providing for the household. Grappling with thorny subject matter—which proved controversial in writer-director Saim Sadiq’s home country, where the film was initially banned by the right-wing authorities—the filmmaker always maintains profound compassion and empathy for every character in his beautifully acted film’s orbit. An Oscilloscope Laboratories release.

Saturday, April 1
12:30pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Saim Sadiq)

Sunday, April 2
6:45pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Saim Sadiq)

Leila’s Brothers
Saeed Roustaee, 2022, Iran, 169m
Farsi with English subtitles
New York Premiere
In this sprawling domestic drama, Saeed Roustaee constructs an engrossing narrative about the trauma of intergenerational conflict and financial struggle. Set amidst the economic uncertainty of contemporary Tehran, the film follows the intensifying efforts of Leila (Taraneh Alidoosti) to secure a stable professional future for herself and her four squabbling but loving brothers, pushing them to pool their resources and open a shop in a mall in an up-and-coming neighborhood of the city. All is thrown into turmoil when their narcissistic father grows desperate to be crowned the head of the extended family, requiring the bestowal of a large monetary gift that puts his children’s business plans into jeopardy. Roustaee paints on a large canvas, giving each character depth and nuance, while steadily building to a series of expertly crafted, sometimes wrenching emotional turnarounds. A genuinely anti-patriarchal epic, Leila’s Brothers won the FIPRESCI Critics’ Prize at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, though it remains banned from being screened in its home country.

Saturday, April 8
12:00pm, MoMA T2

Sunday, April 9
12:00pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater

The Maiden
Graham Foy, 2022, Canada, 117m
U.S. Premiere
The fragility and resilience of youth are given an exceptionally original treatment in Graham Foy’s The Maiden, which takes the form of a dreamscape whose gentle rhythms and impressionistic visual approach conceal darker undertones. Colton and his best friend, Kyle, aimlessly traverse the rural environs of their small Alberta town, skateboarding, spray-painting graffiti, and enjoying the simple pleasures of the natural world; their idyll is destroyed when tragedy strikes. Foy converges this narrative in surprising ways with the story of their shy classmate Whitney, who is in the midst of processing new and difficult feelings of rejection. Set in the emotional hinterlands of loss and mourning yet attuned to the beautifully off-kilter cadences of life, The Maiden is a tender, poignant debut feature that communicates oceans of feeling with the lightest of touches.

Tuesday, April 4
8:30pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Graham Foy)

Wednesday, April 5
6:00pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Graham Foy)

Maputo Nakuzandza
Ariadine Zampaulo, 2022, Brazil/Mozambique, 60m
Portuguese with English subtitles
North American Premiere
In this kaleidoscopic view of a city from dawn to dusk, filmmaker Ariadine Zampaulo guides us through Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, where different lives intermingle easily amid the director’s illuminating, distinct approaches and ideas in presenting cinematic poetry. Workers and tourists, joggers and dancers, real and fictional, move through the bustling and unpredictable urban landscape, each at their own pace and rhythm. Amidst it all, a mysterious woman in a bridal gown and veil wanders ghostlike after having left her cheating husband at the altar. With its repeated gestures and moments of human interconnection, Maputo Nakuzandza, whose threads are united by the ambient sounds of a local radio program, is a triumph of elegant freeform filmmaking.

Sunday, April 2
6pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Ariadine Zampaulo) preceded by Escasso

Monday, April 3
8:15pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Ariadine Zampaulo) preceded by Escasso

Metronom
Alexandru Belc, 2022, Romania/France, 102m
Romanian with English subtitles
New York Premiere
The unpredictable anxiety of life under authoritarian rule is brilliantly dramatized in this realist breakthrough from Romanian director Alexandru Belc, Best Director winner in the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section. Starting as a portrait of teenage desire and confusion, the film, which takes place in Bucharest largely over one day and night in 1972, follows 17-year-old high schooler Ana (Mara Bugarin) as she deals with heartache over her frustratingly capricious boyfriend, Sorin (Serban Lazarovici). The film shifts abruptly into darker territory after she attends a party with schoolmates who have gathered to listen to a show on Radio Free Europe, only to learn they are being watched and pursued by then Head of State Nicolae Ceaușescu’s brutal secret police, the Securitate. Belc’s dexterous filmmaking and storytelling bring to vivid reality the paranoia of everyday existence in a communist dictatorship, and show how easily and subtly the young can be emotionally manipulated into falling in line.

Sunday, April 2
8:45pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Alexandru Belc)

Tuesday, April 4
6pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Alexandru Belc)

Milisuthando
Milisuthando Bongela, 2023, South Africa, 128m
Xhosa and English with English subtitles
New York Premiere
In her poetic and galvanizing essay film, Johannesburg-based artist, writer, and first-time filmmaker Milisuthando Bon gela has constructed a multilayered and thought-provoking inquiry into history and identity that through five distinct chapters evokes the experience and after-effects of growing up amidst apartheid. Born in 1985, Bongela lived her first, inchoately remembered years with her family in the Transkei, a segregated zone in southeastern South Africa established in the 1970s under a false sense of cultural and geographical independence for Black people. A part of the country’s Xhosa community, the filmmaker delves into personal memories, gradual historical change, the legacies of racism on both Black and white citizens, and her continued search for belonging and identity. Milisuthando is a reminder that none of us exist outside of history.

Thursday, April 6
8:45pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Milisuthando Bongela)

Friday, April 7
6:00pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Milisuthando Bongela)

Pamfir
Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk, 2022, Ukraine, 106m
Ukrainian with English subtitles
New York Premiere
Set in the foreboding, vividly realized environs of a rural village in Ukraine, this visually bold feature debut from Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk follows the tragic downward spiral of a devoted family man and former smuggler, Leonid (Oleksandr Yatsentyuk), who has returned home after working abroad. After enlisting his brother in a plan to resume his former illegal activities to help support his wife and devoted teenage son, Leonid bumps up against the town’s frightening authority figures, both lawmen and organized criminals, and finds that freedom isn’t easily won. With its circuitous tracking shots of interiors and countryside alike and its compositionally dense tableaux, Pamfir is a work of rigor and ambition that offers one memorable standalone image after another even as it builds steadily in power toward a violent resolution set at the town’s annual Carnival celebrations.

Friday, March 31
6:00pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk)

Saturday, April 1
12:00pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk)

Petrol
Alena Lodkina, 2022, Australia, 96m
English and Russian with English subtitles
North American Premiere
In the mesmeric follow-up to her debut, Strange Colours, Russian-born, Melbourne-raised filmmaker Alena Lodkina casts an enigmatic spell of a movie centered around a film student named Eva (Nathalie Morris) and her fragmenting interior world. While working on a deeply personal school project connected to her Russian heritage, Eva meets the mercurial Mia (Hannah Lynch), a performance artist who runs hot and cold, and with whom she develops a close bond bordering on obsession. As Eva is drawn into Mia’s orbit, she comes increasingly to question her sense of reality, while at the same time making decisions about her own romantic, creative, and professional lives. Alternately whimsical and unsettling, Petrol is an entirely original vision, a film of moods as fluctuating as the weather, and a magical coming-of-age story that is also perhaps the tale of a haunting.

Thursday, March 30
8:30pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Alena Lodkina)

Saturday, April 1
5:15pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Alena Lodkina)

Remembering Every Night
Yui Kiyohara, 2022, Japan, 116m
Japanese with English subtitles
North American Premiere
A film that moves on the rhythms of a gentle breeze, Yui Kiyohara’s follow-up to her acclaimed Our House (a selection of ND/NF 2018) is an evocatively quotidian film that’s as mysterious and beautiful as everyday life itself. Kiyohara immerses viewers in the quiet pursuits of several women, including a wandering university student, a helpful neighborhood meter reader, and a middle-aged gentle soul seeking employment but finding herself agreeably lost instead. Their paths converge or just miss one another over the course of a single sunny afternoon, captured by Kiyohara with calming long takes and the occasional drifting camera that seems to have a perspective all its own. Remembering Every Night is a treasure of unconventional filmmaking that abounds with simple pleasures, reminding the viewer of the fragility of time, happiness, and love.

Wednesday, April 5
8:30pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Yui Kiyohara)

Thursday, April 6
6pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Yui Kiyohara)

Safe Place
Juraj Lerotić, 2022, Croatia, 103m
Croatian with English subtitles
New York Premiere
Expertly employing a suspenseful thriller framework to touch upon painful and deeply personal themes, first-time writer-director-star Juraj Lerotić has constructed a gripping, ever-intensifying drama about a young man (Lerotić) desperately trying to save and care for his suicidal brother, Damir (Goran Marković), over the course of 24 hours. Based on events from Lerotić’s own difficult family history, the film hews closely to its main character as he and his weary mother (Snježana Sinovčić Šiškov) navigate an endless bureaucratic chain of alternately incompetent and menacing medical professionals and eventually try to take the law into their own hands for the benefit of Damir’s physical and mental well-being. Wisely avoiding diagnosis or psychological motivation, Safe Place is a mostly naturalistic depiction of a mental health crisis that occasionally peers, as if in a dream, across the gossamer line separating life and death. Winner of the prize for best first feature at the 2022 Locarno Film Festival and several other international awards.

Thursday, April 6
6pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Juraj Lerotić)

Friday, April 7
9:00pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Juraj Lerotić)

Tommy Guns
Carlos Conceição, 2022, Portugal/France/Angola, 119m
Portuguese and Nyaneka with English subtitles
North American Premiere
With his eccentric, shape-shifting breakthrough, Carlos Conceição confidently announces his arrival as a daring filmmaker preoccupied with the colonialist legacy of his native country. Set in 1974 Angola, during the waning days of Portugal’s militaristic rule over the African nation, the film jumps between different perspectives, including those of local rebels and villagers contending with the persistence of authoritarian forces and the occupying soldiers who occasionally use the weapons of the title with indiscriminate force. Yet the film also vaults among genres and modes with audacity, constantly reinventing itself with elements of war drama, comedy, and supernatural horror. An unexpected reflection on historical tyranny and the metaphysical effects of war retold as a tale of nightmarish resurrection, the jolting Tommy Guns was the winner of the Best European Film award at the 2022 Locarno Film Festival. A Kino Lorber release.

Saturday, April 8
3:30pm, MoMA T2 (Q&A with Carlos Conceição)

Sunday, April 9
4:00pm, FLC Walter Reade Theater (Q&A with Carlos Conceição)

Tótem
Lila Avilés, 2023, Mexico/Denmark/France, 95m
Spanish with English subtitles
North American Premiere
In the enormously poignant follow-up to her international breakthrough, The Chambermaid (a selection of ND/NF 2019), director Lila Avilés nestles in with one family over the course of a single, meaningful day. Tótem is told largely from the perspective of 7-year-old Sol (the marvelously naturalistic Naíma Sentíes), as her mother (Montserrat Marañón) and extended relatives prepare for the birthday party of the girl’s father (Mateo Garcia). As the hours wear on, building to an event both anticipated and dreaded, the fragile bonds and unsure future of the family become ever clearer. Avilés confirms her formidable skill at expressing the subtlest contours of her characters’ inner lives in this emotionally expansive and affecting drama. A Sideshow and Janus Films release.

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©Chris Knipp. Blog: http://chrisknipp.blogspot.com/.


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