The 2017 edition of New Directors/New Films, the expertly programmed and hotly anticipated annual series spotlighting new filmmaking talent, has particularly strong ties to New York City and the surrounding area.
And the movies set in and around the city encapsulate the diversity of voices and stories that have always characterized a festival that’s been going strong since 1972.
The event organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and MoMA opens Wednesday with “Patti Cake$,” one of the hits of January’s Sundance Film Festival, about an aspiring rapper from New Jersey named Patti and complete with Bruce Springsteen on the soundtrack.
The centerpiece, “Beach Rats,” is actually the second feature film by Eliza Hittman, whose first movie “It Felt Like Love” is an affecting coming-of-age story about a teenage girl struggling with some very adult feelings, set against an authentic South Brooklyn backdrop. “Beach Rats,” shot in 16 mm and filmed in places like Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island, follows a teen experimenting with his own sexuality through cruising gay hookup sites.
Abbi Jacobson used some of her hiatus from “Broad City” to star in the New Directors/New Films closing night selection “Person to Person,” a comedy in which she plays a crime reporter investigating a convoluted story over the course of a single day, along with Michael Cera as her boss.
Perhaps the most intriguing of the NYC-centric offerings, “Menashe” tells the story of a Borough Park-dwelling Hasidic man who finds himself questioning things while he’s tasked with taking a more active role in his young son’s life.
It’s the first narrative feature from director Joshua Z. Weinstein, and it’s entirely in Yiddish.