The first time I remember going to “the Engine,” I was probably six or seven years old and I was taking my little sister with me. We were flying across the country alone, unaccompanied minors in the late 1970s. I remember feeling in charge; I’d been on planes since I was 10 days old.
Posts by Rajendra Roy
Each year, for four years now, The Museum of Modern Art honors a filmmaker of singular importance and influence at a benefit event in support of MoMA’s Department of Film and its exhibition and collection activities. This year we looked for a cinema artist who has been a part of MoMA’s family for long stretches of their career. Pedro Almodóvar fit this description perfectly.
All of us have had the experience of being green (in the “inexperienced” sense, not the “Kermit” sense); that nervousness, insecurity, and exhilaration that propels us through uncharted territory. There are moments like this that are universal: first day of school, new job, first date. For artists, the moment when they present themselves for the first time to critics and discerning audiences can be extremely unsettling. Over the past 40 years the organizers of New Directors/New Films at MoMA and the Film Society of Lincoln Center have embraced the challenge of creating moments of nervous exhilaration for artists and audiences at every screening.
Last week we asked you to submit your burning questions about the New Directors/New Films Festival or about MoMA’s film program in general. In addition to quite a few inquiries about how to get your film into MoMA’s collection (don’t worry I answered one of those), your curiosity covered quite a range of subjects, so I’ve done my best to answer five of your questions—as well as one irresistible bonus question—as selected by the MoMA blog editors. Thank you all for your interest!
1. What criteria do you employ in choosing films for the festival? Political, artistic, plot, cultural, etc.? [from Jules Margalit]
The essential, and perhaps only, unifying criterion for a film in New Directors/New Films is that it be innovative. This of course can manifest in many ways; often it is structurally, but my no means universally so. Our opening film, Bill Cunningham New York, is a traditional portrait doc. It is the subject himself that is sui generis. Director Richard Press has the presence of mind to allow his film to exist as an open road for Cunningham to navigate (on his Schwinn). Alexei Popogrebsky’s How I Ended This Summer, for example, is formally as well as narratively innovative, immersing us in a landscape that is brand new.
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