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    New Directors New Films

    In with the new

    The New Directors New Films festival brings together a collection of consistently worthwhile efforts by promising filmmakers from around the world.


    The word for this year's New Directors New Films festival would be "solid" rather than the more typical "occasionally brilliant." While last year's edition hosted the stunningly original documentary "Bus 174" and 2002 gave us the passionate "The Slaughter Rule," this year's fest features consistently strong but rarely exceptional works from around the world.


    Related links: Official site
    New Directors New Films 2004
  • Overview
  • Checkpoint
  • Eager Bodies
  • In Your Hands
  • Le Monde Vivant
  • Silent Waters
  • Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring
  • The Story of the Weeping Camel
  • Three Step Dancing
  • Vodka Lemon

  • Official festival site
  • The standout among this year's films is not by a brand-new director — it's by a repeat offender from Korea. "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring" is the ninth film from Kim Ki-duk, perpetrator of the gorgeous gorefest "The Isle," and it's a much less gruesome variation on the same theme — an allegorical tale in a beautiful, mythically remote otherworld.

    Only two of the film's 22 films are American-made, one of them the music documentary "Dig!" about the band Brian Jonestown Massacre; the other, the Brooklyn-set "Everyday People" by Jim McKay ("Our Song," "Girls Town"), which is headed for HBO in June.

    The rest of the films span the world, from Denmark (the strong Dogma film "In Your Hands") to Burkina Faso ("Kounandi"). In addition to "Spring, Summer," Korea also offers the historical drama "Untold Scandal" (pictured above). Two documentaries look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — "Checkpoint," which simply chronicles activities at the checkpoints between Israeli and Palestinian territories during a government-imposed curfew, and the very interesting "No. 17," in which a filmmaker sets off to discover the identity of a nameless, faceless bus bombing victim and winds up painting a portrait of not only the victim but the whole behind-the-scenes post-bombing apparatus as well.

    Two other highlights of the festival are "Captive," an Argentinian film about a high school girl who discovers how the country's dark secrets have cast their shadow over her own life, and "Lemon Vodka," a heartfelt lament about the gradual decline of a dying mountain village.

    Festival articles




    This Israeli documentary does too little to explore its subject of the border crossings that define the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on a personal level, but it does spur thought about the psychology on both sides of the country's divide.


    Eager Bodies

    This French drama is a story about a love triangle, but it's more than that — it's about people's struggle to hold on to love in the face of illness and death.


    In Your Hands

    Supernatural happenings in the middle of a women's prison raise the possibility that God or his opposite is testing people's beliefs in this earnest Danish drama.


    Le Monde Vivant

    The fractured fairy tale "Le Monde Vivant" — and its well-matched companion short "Dysenchanted" — mark directors Eugene Green and Terri Edda Miller as two to watch.


    Silent Waters

    Pakistani director Sabiha Sumar is harshly critical of her country's fundamentalism, authoritarianism and treatment of women in the heartfelt drama "Silent Waters."


    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring

    Kim Ki-duk, director of "The Isle," scores another triumph in the same kind of remote lake setting in which mythical stories can be told, in the captivatingly beautiful, deeply touching "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring."


    The Story of the Weeping Camel

    A Mongolian filmmaker's poetic spin on the documentary genre, telling the story of the birth and difficult life of a rare white camel and the family that cares for it.


    Strong Shoulders

    A high school running star struggles less with femininity than with the frustrations of being a girl athlete in a boy's world in this realistic Swiss drama.


    Three Step Dancing

    Four stories interlock in one movie, a patient portrait of personalities in Sardinia that introduces a worthy successor to the great names of Italian cinema.


    Vodka Lemon

    A sad but dignified lament about the people left behind in a dying Armenian mountain village that's lost its Soviet subsidies, its jobs and its younger generation.

    MARCH 29, 2004

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