(Photo credit: Courtesy of Thinkfilm)
There may be New York festivals that are more glamorous (the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival) or expansive (the New York Film Festival), but you will not find a more exciting, international slate of films than the 34th New Directors/New Films series, presented by MoMA’s Department of Film and Media and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. In just twelve days, the series will host the New York premieres of 25 feature films that arrive with very high expectations—particularly after last year’s series introduced Control Room and Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter … and Spring. On March 23, the festival opens with Zeze Gamboa’s The Hero, an ambitious Angolan wartime drama, while other films ramble as far as Bulgaria, Japan, and Haiti. Proudly parochial, we can vouch for two debuts by New York filmmakers who thrilled us at Sundance: Phil Morrison’s Junebug is a striking, subtle drama about a Southerner turned cosmopolitan who returns home with his urbane, black-clad wife. And Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro’s Murderball is a pugnacious, wild-ride documentary about competitive quadriplegic rugby, set in a world where wheelchairs become weapons.