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New Directors/ New Films announce program slate

New Directors/New Films, one of the most anticipated film events on the New York film calendar, celebrates its 35th year, presenting the works of new directors from around the world. The festival will unspool 25 feature films and 5 shorts from March 22 through April 2, 2006. The program is presented jointly by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and The Department of Film and Media of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).

Screenings will be held at the Walter Reade Theater, the Film Society’s year-round cinematheque, and the renovated Roy and Niuta Titus Theater at the Museum of Modern Art. The 2006 Selection Committee is composed of Film Society’s Marian Masone, Joanna Ney, and Richard Peña; and MoMA’s Mary Lea Bandy, Jytte Jensen, and Laurence Kardish. In making their final selection, the Committee viewed over one thousand movies in special screenings, at festivals, and as part of an open-call process to make the final selection.

The countries represented this year are an international mix that includes films from Belgium, Chile, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Russia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA.

The Festival opens on March 22 with two films: HALF NELSON, a Sundance sleeper from American independent director Ryan Fleck, is the tale of a dedicated young teacher (played by Ryan Gosling), in one of the poorer sections in the borough of Brooklyn. The film was recently picked up for North American distribution by arthouse distributor THINKFILM.

THE BLOSSOMING OF MAXIMOS OLIVEROS, by Filipino debut director Auraeus Solito, is the story of a 12-year-old gay boy from a criminal family who falls in love with a handsome policeman. The film recently won both the Best Children’s Film and Best Gay Film (the Teddy Award) at the Berlin Film Festival.

Other American independent films making their premieres at the Festival, include: QUINCEAÑERA, directorial duo Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s moving and insightful comedy/drama about life in the traditional Mexican-American neighborhood of Echo Lake in Los Angeles, which won Best Film and Audience Award honors at the Sundance Film Festival; MAN PUSH CART, by Iranian-born director Ramin Bahrani, is the story of a New York City pushcart vendor who meets a successful Pakistani businessman, who knows his personal secret; OLD JOY, the newest film from American indie director Kelly Reichardt (RIVER OF GRASS, 1994), about two friends who confront their differences and their connection during a weekend camping trip in the rugged Oregon mountains.

Other American films in the program include: THINGS THAT HANG FROM TREES, a Southern gothic tale by debut director Ido Mizrahy, set in a historic, small town in Florida in the 1960’s; TWELVE AND HOLDING, a powerful look into the adolescent world of twin brothers, directed by Michael Cuesta (L.I.E.); and WILD TIGERS I HAVE KNOWN, an explosive debut feature (executive produced by Gus Van Sant), about an adolescent loner who develops a crush on an older boy, directed by Cam Archer.

The resurgence of international documentaries is evidenced in the program’s mix of films. MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY is American director Laura Poitras’ extraordinary portrait of Iraqis living under U.S. occupation. OCTOBER 17, 1961 is French director Alain Tasma’s haunting study about the Algerian conflict and, in particular a tragic confrontation on the date of the title that brought thousands of Algerians onto the streets of Paris for a tragic confrontation. JOHN & JANE TOLL-FREE is Indian director Ashim Ahluwalia’s perceptive look at the phenomenon of American businesses out-sourcing jobs to India, and the effects on both American and Indian culture.

In the extraordinary FIRST ON THE MOON, Russian director Alexey Fedorchenko chronicles the untold story of a Soviet cosmonaut who supposedly reached the moon decades before the famous moon walk of Neil Armstrong in 1969. German director Philip Gröning’s INTO GREAT SILENCE is an impressive look at the secret society of monks in a monastery in the French Alps, who must keep to a vow of silence to strengthen their communion with God.

New Directors/New Films has always had a thing for French films, and this year presents two exciting features from new filmmakers who are continuing to expand the boundaries of traditional French cinema. 13 TZAMETI by Georgian-born filmmaker Gela Babluani, is the assured debut of a mesmerizing film about a taxi cab driver who decides to take the place of a dead man. The film won the top prize in the International Drama Competition at Sundance. Romance is the subject of director Julie Lopes-Curval’s TOI ET MOI (You and Me), a winning romantic comedy with terrific performances by Marion Cotillard and Julie Depardieu as feuding sisters.

New Directors/New Films also presents a superb line-up of films from Latin America, Europe and Asia, and is introducing several new elements, which will be reported in a follow-up article in the coming days.

Sandy Mandelberger
Industry Editor



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