Continuing the tradition of previews which are barely posted before the first film premieres and then go entirely unread, we present to you the first part of our New Directors/New Films survey. The annual smorgasbord, organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, cherry-picks the festivals for the best work by first-time filmmakers. What isn’t so nice is the old couple sat behind you who keep up a running commentary throughout each film. But that’s life on the Upper West Side. In the first part of our preview, we throw some alliterative phrases at dramas set in Muslim Detroit and Iran’s border, while Bill Cunningham and Candy Darling present two different views of the greatest city in the world. Hit those titles to watch trailers and more.
For their debut feature, experimental filmmakers Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani turned to the giallo thrillers of Dario Argento and Mario Bava for inspiration. This isn’t just a spooky movie, but a coming-of-age film, as Ana suffers extreme situations at three key life stages. Amer–French for “bitter”–is less about narrative than immersing the audience in a senses-shattering sexual awakening. Game on!
Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar
At Andy Warhol’s Factory, stars-in-their-minds learned how to become real works of art. So any portrait of a Superstar has a certain sideshow interest. Famed for a reference in Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side,” Darling turned herself from a Massapequa scamp into a blonde glamour queen who adorned Warhol’s films and even a Tennessee Williams play. Chloe Sevigny reads the late idol’s letters in James Rasin’s doc.
Sultan Sharrief’s debut is set among Detroit’s Muslim community. Bilal is the scion of a family who has owned a taxi business for the last six decades. But business is lousy and he has dreams of his own. Breaking with tradition, Bilal wants to become an ice sculptor. Huh? Trust us, kid. The money is in the cab business. Made with students from Sharrief’s inner-city outreach program. No songs.
Bill Cunningham New York
Korean war vet, writer, ad man … Bill Cunningham has worn many hats. He’s even made a few. The multi-tasker is best known, however, as New York Times’s streetwise fashion photog, snapping passersby and what they’re wearing. Richard Press’s doc follows the man as he pedals around the city alighting on whatever Beau Brummell takes his fancy. Just don’t mention the pressroom layoffs.
Romania’s cinematic renaissance can be relied upon for stories of young women that also function as damning indictments of contemporary society. Radu Jude’s take centers on a robust country lass who wins a new car. The catch is her sunny outlook must endure a Bucharest-bound trip in the company of overbearing parents. Capitalism, commercialism and family are the topics doused in Jude’s satirical napalm.
Three women board a bus. They live in Lebanon. They’re going to see their husbands, who are in prison. And it’s Independence Day. Is it possible to load this day with anymore ironic significance? Dima El-Horr is going to try. In her allegorical drama, a stray bullet even stops the bus. Expect friendships to be made, loyalties to be tested and probably a few speeches ramming the salient points down the ear hole.
Show us an English happy family and we’ll show you … well, it’s impressive. That’s all we’re saying. Bill is out of jail and looking for the snitcher who sent him there. Son Karl is also out of jail and coping with impending fatherhood. It’s Britain: Heads will be butted. Still Ben Wheatley’s Pinter-esque crime drama is a can-do triumph. Made in eight days, Terrace’s Bill and Karl are played by real-life father and son Robert and Robin Hill. Songs by Fairport Convention. Sadly sung by Bill.
Sounds like it should be about Peter Fonda and some loosey-goosey freedom rockers smuggling ‘shine over the border. It’s actually set in the dead-end of Iran’s northern border. Filmmaker Babak Jalali brings a distanced gaze to life along the endless plain. These are absurd badlands, inhabited by droll losers and eccentrics, yearning for unobtainable loves and numbering donkeys among their best friends. Here, paint drying is nothing less than an event.
Designer Leonardo lives in the spectacular Curutchet house, a Le Corbusier-designed abode outside Buenos Aires. His carefully arranged existence, however, is left looking like a blind man’s art installation when the bluff neighbor Victor decides to put a window in his wall. The shattered equilibrium pulls Leo into a no man’s land where love meets hate in Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat’s scene from the Argentine class war.
Tags: Amer, Andy Warhol, Babak Jalali, Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling Andy Warhol Superstar, Ben Wheatley, Bilal’s Stand, Bill Cunningham New York, Bruno Forzani, Candy Darling, Cea mai fericita fata din lume, Chaque jour est une fete, Dima El-Horr, Down Terrace, El hombre de al lado, Every Day is a Holiday, Frontier Blues, Gaston Duprat, Helene Cattet, James Rasin, Lou Reed, Mariano Cohn, NDNF Film Festival, Radu Jude, Richard Press, Robert Hill, Robin Hill, Sultan Sharrief, The Happiest Girl in the World, The Man Next Door