“New Directors New Films” at Film Society of Lincoln Center and MOMA

A 24-year-old Stanley Kubrick shooting "Fear and Desire."

From March 21 – April 1 the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art will present the 41st annual “New Directors/New Films” series.  The festival is dedicated to showcasing emerging filmmaking talent on an international scale.  This year’s festival will screen 29 feature length films (24 narratives, five documentaries), as well as 12 short films, representing a total of 28 countries.

Rajendra Roy, MOMA’s Celeste Bartos Chief Curator of Film explained, “While ‘New Directors/New Films’ by design is about discovery, this year’s films broaden the definition of a ‘New Directors film.’”  Roy’s comment is certainly apropos when one considers that one of the film’s to be screened is “Fear and Desire” (1953) directed, produced and edited by a then new talent, a 24 year-old filmmaker named Stanley Kubrick.  Kubrick, of course, would go on to direct such films as “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), “A Clockwork Orange” (1971), “Barry Lyndon” (1975), “The Shining” (1980), and many others.

Kubrick, known for relentless perfectionism and control, had “Fear and Desire” pulled from release.  In fact when I saw “Fear and Desire” listed for “New Directors/New Films” I assumed that it must be another movie with the same title.   I never thought I would actually ever have the opportunity to see this movie.  In fact, years ago, Film Forum showed “Fear and Desire” for one week, during which Kubrick actually tried to have the screenings stopped.  He need not have been so concerned.  “Fear and Desire” is on the level of very good student film and is nothing of which to be ashamed.

The story of “Fear and Desire” involves a group of American soldiers, one of whom is played by a very young Paul Mazursky (director and actor), trapped behind enemy lines during World War II.  Kubrick obviously did not have a large budget and smartly chose a story that would conform well to his low budget aesthetic.  All he needed was some actors in uniform out in the woods and minimal indoor sets.  Yes, the film contains some heavy-handed voice over.  However, the story of these soldiers who decide to attempt to kill an enemy general, rather than quietly leave enemy territory, has some compelling sequences.

The film also the earliest signs of Kubrick’s interest in the folly of war, a theme that he would develop in later films: “Paths of Glory” (1957), “Dr. Strangelove” (1964) and “Full Metal Jacket” (1987).  “Fear and Desire” also demonstrates some very proficiently edited sequences, including a massacre of enemy soldiers shown primarily by their dying hands helplessly clenching bits of a stew they had been eating.

For more information on “New Directors/New Films” please go to http://www.filmlinc.com.


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on March 21, 2012, in New Directors New Films 2012 and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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