Diversity, diversity, diversity and its sister word—inclusion—have become new buzz words used (so often) to announce that the entertainment industry is making needed changes in their white-as-usual programming in television and film. It’s worth applauding the effort, naturally, but Film at Lincoln Center has been presenting compelling films and filmmakers since their inception and the 2019 summer season of releases (again) underscores their continued commitment to showcasing voices from around the globe and around the corner.
The lineup features “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,” Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ documentary on the life of the legendary writer; Benjamín Naishtat’s slow-burning thriller “Rojo”; a 4K restoration of George T. Nierenberg’s classic 1982 exploration of American gospel music, “Say Amen, Somebody”; and Claudio Giovannesi’s bildungsroman set in the mob world of Naples, “Piranhas” (Open Roads 2019). The lineup also includes three New Directors/New Films 2019 selections: Peter Parlow’s provocative “The Plagiarists”; Ognjen Glavonić’s politically charged road movie “The Load”; and Philippe Lesage’s moving coming-of-age story “Genesis.”
FLC will also present two NYFF56 selections: Mariano Llinás’s six-episode, 14-hour opus “La Flor” and Roberto Minervini’s lyrical documentary portrait of Black Americans in New Orleans, “What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?.”
“Rojo” by Benjamín Naishtat
(109 m) English and Spanish with English subtitles
In mid’70s Argentina, at the height of that country’s infamous Dirty War, Claudio (Darío Grandinetti) is a well-heeled, cool-headed lawyer living with his wife and teenage daughter in a comfortable provincial suburb. When an innocuous dinner date ends in a startling altercation with a stranger, Claudio’s apparently placid lifestyle is disrupted, and fault lines begin to appear in the frictionless surface of his professional and domestic existence. What follows is a brooding, warm-hued fugue, where political calculations, economic stratagems, and tenuous social mores are played out with slow-burning ferocity against a harmonic bass line of barely repressed indignation and simmering paranoia. A Distrib Films release.
“La Flor” by Mariano Llinás
(803 m; screening in 4 parts)
A decade in the making, Mariano Llinás’s follow-up to his 2008 cult classic “Extraordinary Stories” is an unrepeatable labor of love and madness that redefines the concept of binge-viewing. The director himself appears at the start to preview the six disparate episodes that await, each starring the same four remarkable actresses: Elisa Carricajo, Valeria Correa, Pilar Gamboa and Laura Paredes. Overflowing with nested subplots and whiplash digressions, “La Flor” shape-shifts from a B-movie to a musical to a spy thriller to a category-defying metafiction—all of them without endings—to a remake of a very well-known French classic and, finally, to an enigmatic period piece that lacks a beginning (granted, all notions of beginnings and endings become fuzzy after 14 hours). An adventure in scale and duration, “La Flor” is a marvelously entertaining exploration of the possibilities of fiction that lands somewhere close to its outer limits. An NYFF56 selection. A Grasshopper Film release.
Part 1: 203m / Part 2: 188m / Part 3: 205m / Part 4: 207m
Parts 1 & 2 screen Aug. 2-8 and parts 3 & 4 screen Aug. 9-15; check filmlinc.org for more details.
“Piranhas / La paranza dei bambini” by Claudio Giovannesi
(112m) Italian with English subtitles
The latest from Claudio Giovannesi (“Fiore”) is this singular coming-of-age story that won the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at the Berlin Film Festival. Newcomer Francesco Di Napoli stars as 15-year-old Nicola, who leads a pack of cocksure hellions captivated by the lifestyle of the local Camorra as they descend into the violent, paranoid world of Naples’s dominant crime group. Based on the novel by Roberto Saviano, who co-wrote the screenplay and mined similar territory in his devastating Gomorrah, “Piranhas” is a haunting reflection on doomed adolescence. A 2019 Open Roads selection. A Music Box Films release.
“What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?” by Roberto Minervini
Italian-born, American South–based filmmaker Roberto Minervini’s follow-up to his Texas Trilogy is a portrait of African-Americans in New Orleans struggling to maintain their unique cultural identity and to find social justice. Shot in very sharp black and white, the film is focused on Judy, trying to keep her family afloat and save her bar before it’s snapped up by speculators; Ronaldo and Titus, two brothers growing up surrounded by violence and with a father in jail; Kevin, trying to keep the glorious local traditions of the Mardi Gras Indians alive; and the local Black Panthers, trying to stand up against a new, deadly wave of racism. This is a passionately urgent and strangely lyrical film experience. An NYFF56 selection. A KimStim release.
“Genesis” by Philippe Lesage
(130m) French with English subtitles
Following his autobiographical 2015 narrative debut “The Demons,” Philippe Lesage continues to chronicle the life of young Felix (Édouard Tremblay-Grenier), now diverging to capture the romantic trials and tribulations of two Quebecois teen siblings. While the charismatic, Salinger-reading Guillaume (Théodore Pellerin) wrestles with his sexual identity at his all-boys boarding school, the more ostensibly grown-up Charlotte (Noée Abita) discovers the casual cruelty of the adult world that awaits her post-graduation. Lesage and his young actors depict the aches of becoming oneself with nuance, honesty and compassion, and the result is one of the most beautiful coming-of-age stories in years. A 2019 New Directors/New Films selection. A Film Movement release.
“The Load” by Ognjen Glavonić
(98m) Serbian with English subtitles
Ognjen Glavonić’s wintry road movie concerns a truck driver (Leon Lucev) tasked with transporting mysterious cargo across a scorched landscape from Kosovo to Belgrade during the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. A companion piece to the director’s 2016 documentary “Depth Two,” “The Load” is a work of enveloping atmosphere that puts a politically charged twist on the highway thrillers it recalls: Henri-Georges Clouzot’s “The Wages of Fear” and William Friedkin’s retelling, “Sorcerer.” The streamlined premise gives way to a slow-dawning reckoning, in which implications of guilt and complicity slowly but surely sink in. A 2019 New Directors/New Films selection. A Grasshopper Film release.
“Say Amen, Somebody” by George T. Nierenberg
One of the most acclaimed music documentaries of all time, “Say Amen, Somebody” is George T. Nierenberg’s exuberant, funny, and deeply moving celebration of 20th-century American gospel music. With unrivaled access to the movement’s luminaries, Thomas Dorsey, and Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith, Nierenberg masterfully records their fascinating stories alongside earth-shaking, show-stopping performances by the Barrett Sisters, the O’Neal Twins and others. As much a fascinating time capsule as it is a peerless concert movie, “Say Amen, Somebody” returns to Film at Lincoln Center in a gorgeous 4K restoration by Milestone Films, with support from the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. An NYFF20 selection. A Milestone Films release.
Dennis Lim and Florence Almozini organize new releases.