New York’s New Directors/New Films series has introduced the likes of Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Darren Aronofsky, Richard Linklater, Kelly Reichardt and Pedro Almodovar. Spielberg’s Sugarland Express debuted at the event and the fledgling filmmaker went on to direct Jaws a year later. Spike Lee’s NYU thesis film Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads was the first student film to be shown in ND/NF back in 1982, and Christopher Nolan debuted his first feature Following in the U.S. in 1999. The series, hosted by MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center, this year includes 29 features and 12 shorts. It opened tonight. Here are six directors to watch:
Adam Leon (Gimme The Loot) – Raised in New York, Leon is stepson to high-powered publicist Leslee Dart, who co-founded 42West. He returns to New York after a terrific run at SXSW, where Loot won the festival’s top prize and was acquired by Sundance Selects. It will also be quite a homecoming for Leon, who worked as a filmmaker liaison for co-host Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Djinn Carrénard (Donoma) – Carrénard was born in Haiti in 1981 and is now based in Paris. Donoma is rumored to have only been made for $200, centering on the romantic destinies of three women. FSLC chief programmer Richard Peña called it “one of the fresher voices to come out of French cinema”. The film evolved from a short and eventually made its way to the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and was released in France in 2011.
Kleber Mendonca Filho (Neighboring Sounds) – Born in Recife in northeastern Brazil, Filho began his career as a critic and journalist. His earlier shorts The Little Cotton Girl (2003) and Green Vinyl (2004) have won awards in Brazil and overseas. His 2008 documentary Crítico recalled his previous work as a journalist examining the troubled relationship between filmmakers and critics. His latest film spotlights class inequalities in a Recife neighborhood.
Joachim Trier (Oslo, August 31st) – Filmmaking must have been pre-destined for Trier. Born in 1974 into a family of filmmakers, he began shooting 8mm films when he was 5 and later skateboarding videos (he was also a national champion in Norway). He was nominated for a European Film Award for his 2006 debut Reprise and won best director at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival that year. Oslo, August 31st, about a day in the life of a young recovering drug addict, was picked up by Strand Releasing.
Gareth Evans (The Raid: Redemption) – The Welsh-born director has been based in Indonesia, where his thriller is set. Tom Bernard, co-president of Sony Classics — which will open the film this weekend following its ND/NF premiere — praised the director for creating a film they first became involved with in Cannes. “How he directed the action [in the film] on that budget is amazing,” Bernard told Deadline. Evans debuted as a director in 2006 with Footsteps, followed by his second film Merantau which he wrote, edited and directed.
Song Chuan (Huan Huan) — Born in 1980 in China, he has been making drama and documentary projects at home since 2002. His latest film Huan Huan, about a woman stuck in a rural area who hopes her affair with a married doctor in town will lead to a better life, will be shown outside China for the first time. Unfortunately, word has it he wasn’t granted a visa to leave China.