Let's be honest: March isn't the most exciting month for movies. Yeah, we like "Cinderella" as much as the next guy, and there are some mild pleasures to be had among some of the other top films at the multiplex, but if ever there were a time to spice up your cinematic pallet by checking out a film festival, this is it.
Fortunately, New Directors/New Films, the consistently top-notch yearly event co-sponsored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and MoMA kicks off Wednesday and runs through March 29.
Here are some of the most intriguing movies premiering at the festival, which spotlights the best work of first-time (or relatively inexperienced) filmmakers:
'The Diary of a Teenage Girl'
The opening night selection is one of the most honest and uncompromising depictions of burgeoning female sexuality imaginable, a film that contextualizes the confusing and messy nature of a teenager's hormonal awakening from a perspective that rejects the usual patriarchal assumptions. It's also a polished '70s period piece, with an outstanding lead performance by Bel Powley and sterling supporting work from Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård. Wed., MoMA, 7 p.m., 8 p.m.
Writer-director Charles Poekel spent three years selling Christmas trees in New York City, and out of that experience came this acclaimed small-scale drama, which premiered at Sundance, about a vendor (Kentucker Audley) hawking his wares in Greenpoint. March 24, MoMA, 6 p.m.; March 28, FSLC, 6:15 p.m.
The hotbed issue of life on the U.S.-Mexico border provides the impetus for this documentary by Bill and Turner Ross that explores its volatile subject by portraying the uneasy symbiosis that affects residents in Eagle Pass, Texas, and Piedras Negras, Mexico. March 22, MoMA, 3:30 p.m.; March 23, FSLC, 8:45 p.m.
"The Comedy," an evocation of miserable hipster ennui starring Tim Heidecker, is one of the most divisive movies of recent years. Director Rick Alverson reunites with stars Gregg Turkington (aka Neil Hamburger) and Heidecker for a surrealist road trip comedy that's sure to provoke a similar response. March 29, MoMA, 4 p.m.; March 29, FSLC, 7 p.m.
'Listen to Me Marlon'
This documentary by Stevan Riley depicts the life and times of the late, great Marlon Brando primarily through his own extensive recordings. March 27, FSLC, 6:30 p.m.; March 28, MoMA, 1 p.m.
If we go to film festivals in part to experience movies entirely unlike any we've seen before, the Ukrainian picture "The Tribe" stands apart from every other entry in NDNF. It's a silent film starring a deaf cast communicating via sign language, depicting the harsh world of a boarding school. March 27, MoMA, 9 p.m.; March 28, FSLC, 8:45 p.m.
Winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, this Hungarian film follows a dog on the streets as it attracts a tough new pack and leads an uprising against humans.Fri., FSLC, 9 p.m.; Sat., MoMA, 6 p.m.
If you go: New Directors/New Films opens today and runs through March 29 at MoMA and Film Society of Lincoln Center. For more information, go to newdirectors.org