Looking back at the rosters of the old New Directors/New Films lineups is like staring into a shaft full of undiscovered gold back in the Wild West; it’s beautiful, alluring and someone will probably murder you and make it look like an accident over it.
Seriously though, even looking at last year’s lineup it seems to predict some of the best films of the year.
Like Trouble The Water, the user-generated doc about Hurricane Katrina that enjoyed a wide play and critical raves here in New York City or Ballast, a lyrical film about black-middle-class ennui in the Mississippi Delta. Other films like Momma’s Man took genres like the up-and-coming “mumblecore” and turned them on their side, offering questions about how well the young hipster-protagonists of those films might function in the real world of kids and jobs, outside of their Brooklyn Lager and Yo La Tengo universe. Frozen River, the opening night film from last year was even nominated for an Oscar for best original screenplay, a highlight in an otherwise abysmal Oscar year.
Going back to 2007, one finds gems like Reprise, the Norwegian film released in 2008, a wunderkind-masterpiece of youthful failure and intention made by Joachim Trier or Julia Loktev’s brilliantly suspenseful Day Night Day Night which captured the mood and anxieties of post-9/11 New York City through the lens of a single girl on a murky mission.
All of the films I’m discussing have been recognized multiple times, but here’s the exciting thing: when they played at ND/NF, they didn’t have such accolades. This year at New Directors/New Films, keep your eyes open and your ears; the film you see might be the next masterwork, unheralded until, maybe, you.
-Nicholas Feitel, ND/NF New Voice