Film

MoMI's First Look festival returns to NYC March 16 to 20

The Museum of the Moving Image announced the complete lineup for the 11th edition of First Look, their annual festival of new and innovative international cinema, which will feature Saeed Taji Farouky's latest doc and Omar El Zohairy's 'Feathers'.
MoMI's First Look festival returns to NYC March 16 to 20

The Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) is the only institution in the United States that deals comprehensively with the art, technology, enjoyment, and social impact of film, television, and digital media. Apart from sharing part of our name, the New York institution also shares MIME's idea that film is a visual medium and talking about it must also be done from an esthetic viewpoint. There is no "moving image" without image. Making films as well as talking about them, we feel, must be filled with elegance, even when the subject matter isn't pretty.

Two filmmakers from the Region who both personify this credo are featured in this year's First Look lineup, and that cannot be an accidental coincidence.

In its acclaimed facility in Astoria, New York, the MoMI presents exhibitions; screenings; discussion programs featuring actors, directors, and creative leaders; and education programs. It houses the nation’s largest collection of moving image artifacts and screens over 500 films annually. Its exhibitions — including the core exhibition Behind the Screen and The Jim Henson Exhibition — are noted for their integration of material objects, interactive experiences, and audiovisual presentations.

Among all the great world cinema, are two gems by Arab filmmakers to make us proud. The North American premiere of A Thousand Fires by Saeed Taji Farouky (pictured above) and the U.S. premiere of Omar El Zohairy's Feathers. Farouky's documentary "follows the tireless Thein Shwe and his family as they eke out a life drilling for oil in the fields of Magway, Myanmar. Tracing ineluctable cycles of life and death on multiple levels — natural, social, spiritual, and economic — A Thousand Fires accomplishes a rare feat, successfully balancing the universal and the particular without compromising the dignity of those with whom it was made."

We interviewed Farouky about his film earlier in 2021.

About Feathers, "in his auspicious debut feature, a surreal absurdist parable, El Zohairy conjures an entire, self-contained universe around the story of a working-class Egyptian family, whose meekly, long-suffering housewife is forced to fend for herself and her children when their overbearing patriarch is suddenly and inexplicably transmogrified into a chicken." The film was the recipient of the Grand Prix at Cannes 2021 Critics’ Week and in a Grasshopper Film release.

The 2022 lineup includes both nonfiction and fiction, features and shorts, as well as forms that fall outside the boundaries of traditional theatrical distribution, from gallery presentations to live performances to artist talks. This year, the festival will premiere 40 works, including 18 features representing more than 30 countries. Artists will appear both in person and remotely.

Opening Night, on Wednesday, March 16, presents the New York City premiere of Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović’s Murina, a simmering, sexually charged coming-of-age tale set in scenic coastal Croatia that won the Caméra d’Or (Best First Feature) at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival and was executive produced by Martin Scorsese, preceded by the New York premiere of Tsai Ming-liang’s sorrowful ode to Hong Kong, The Night. The Closing Night selection, on Sunday, March 20, is the New York premiere of Pawel Lozinski’s delightful and insightful documentary The Balcony Movie. Recipient of the Grand Prix at the 2021 Locarno Film Festival’s Critics Week (Semaine de la critique), the film was shot entirely from the balcony of Lozinski’s Warsaw apartment, which proves to be a uniquely advantageous perch for encountering the struggles and moods of the times.

For the complete lineup, to purchase tickets and to know more, visit the First Look section on the MoMI website.

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