New Directors/New Films 2020

Pushpendra Singh’s The Shepherdess and the Seven Songs (2020)

For nearly half a century now, New Directors/New Films, copresented by Film at Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art, has “acted as a slightly chancier analog to the New York Film Festival,” as Nick Pinkerton put it in Artforum a few years ago. Each fall, the NYFF has cinema put its best foot forward, and in the spring, ND/NF shows us where it’s headed next. This year’s edition, the forty-ninth, was to have taken place in March, but of course, the pandemic has kicked it further down the calendar.

For twelve days through December 20, viewers across the nation will have an opportunity to remedy their cabin fever with a sort of worldwide tour offered by the twenty-four features and ten short films screening in FLC’s virtual cinema. One could begin relatively close to home with Anne at 13,000 Ft, the latest feature from Canadian filmmaker Kazik Radwanski. Deragh Campbell plays a daycare supervisor given to severe mood swings. “Bresson is very important to me,” Radwanski told Penelope Bartlett in August. “He’s a filmmaker I have returned to again and again throughout my life.” Reviewing Anne for Cinema Scope last fall, Josh Cabrita detected “the staunchly materialist mode of Bresson” paired with “a certain school of realism—often associated with the films of Cassavetes—which seeks to reveal supposedly knowable being through an interplay of signs that indicate ‘the truth of the moment.’”

Down to Utah for Robert Machoian’s first time out as a solo director, The Killing of Two Lovers. Clayne Crawford (Rectify) plays a husband and father struggling to cope with a trial separation from his wife, and dispatching to the Hollywood Reporter from Sundance back in January, David Rooney found the film to be “a transfixing drama without a wasted word or a single inessential scene.” It was also at Sundance that Boys State, Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine’s documentary about an annual gathering of a thousand Texas high school seniors who set up a mock state government, won the Grand Jury Prize.

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