The New York Film Festival has announced today the complete lineup for its Spotlight on Documentary section featuring 12 selections, including two directed by Latin American filmmakers Walter Salles and Carmen Castillo.
Brazilian filmmaker Walter Salles will have the North American premiere of Jia Zhangke, A Guy from Fenyang, in which the director accompanies the prolific Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke on a walk down memory lane, as he revisits his hometown and other locations used in creating his vast body of work. At each location, they visit Jia’s family, friends, and former colleagues, and their conversations range from his mother’s tales of him as a young boy to amusing remembrances of school days and film shoots to memories of his father and the fact that if not for pirated DVDs, much of Jia’s work would go unseen in China. All the roads traveled are part of one journey—the destination of which is Jia’s relationship to his past and to his country. And the confluence of storytelling, intellect, and politics informing all of Jia’s work is brought to light in this lovely, intimate portrait of the artist on his way to the future.
The New York Film Festival will also host the North American premiere of the documentary essay We Are Alive / On est vivants by Chilean director Carmen Castillo. In it, the filmmaker questions what comprises political engagement in 2015, and if it is still possible to influence the course of events in the world. Castillo, herself a one-time MIR militant expelled from Chile by the Pinochet regime, structures her film in dialogue with the writings of her late friend Daniel Bensaïd, organizer of the Paris student revolts in May ’68 and France’s leading Trotskyite philosopher. In Europe and Latin America, Castillo finds the ones who have resisted, from the masked Zapatistas of Chiapas in Mexico to the Water Warriors of Cochabamba in Bolivia, from the Landless Workers movement in Brazil to the striking workers at the Donges refinery in western France to the homeless squatters of Marseille. A mournful premise lays the groundwork for a radiantly hopeful film.
The 53rd edition of the New York Film Festival will take place September 25-October 11 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.