From Spike Lee to Pedro Almodóvar, the “New Directors/New Films” series has been championing young filmmakers for so long—36 years—that it’s now older than many of the directors it fêtes. Every year, the series hints at where cinema’s headed. Below, a few signposts.
A wave of immigrant cinema is cresting.
The series that introduced us to Man Push Cart and Raising Victor Vargas now highlights Sundance prize winner Padre Nuestro, directed by Christopher Zalla, which follows two Mexicans who smuggle their way into Brooklyn—and it’s far more of a tense noir than an earnest docudrama.
Terrorism films are getting interesting.
Day Night Day Night, by Brooklyn director Julia Loktev, ponders what might happen if a young female suicide bomber (full disclosure: former New York Magazine employee Luisa Williams) were to emerge from the Times Square subway stop. Loktev ramps up the tension until her taut debut blindsides you with one final shock.
The next generation of leading men will have better haircuts than us.
The young male leads of Switzerland’s Stealth and Poland’s Cowboy Angels have matinee looks and wild haircuts (including a spray-painted dye job). And they can act. But these two pale next to Nahuel Pérez Biscayart and his skyscraper pompadour. In Argentina’s feel-good film Glue, this future star plays a teen punk who sniffs some glue, screeches blistering (but cute) covers of the Violent Femmes, and falls into a three-way affair with his best friend and an awkward girl—all the while primping a faux hawk so massive it could rule all of Williamsburg.
Europe’s next hot director is Joachim Trier.
Several ND/NF directors are neo-neo-realists: indebted to Bresson and expert at stripped-down, mature simplicity. More exciting is Norwegian writer-director Joachim Trier, a hyperactive fabulist indebted to Charlie Kaufman. His unabashedly flashy film Reprise begins with two writerly buddies sending off two manuscripts on the same day—and then it zigzags and skitters through so many smart gimmicks and audacious gambits that you can hardly keep up.