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Rarely seen world films shown at Moving Image

Film still from James Benning's "Easy Rider (U.S., 2012), screening on Jan. 6, at Museum of the Moving Image as part of its First Look showcase. Image by James Benning
TimesLedger Newspapers

Often we’re aware of the multitude of foreign and independent films being made, but sometimes we have no idea where to view them.

Jan. 4 marks the opening night of the Museum of the Moving Image’s First Look series, a showcase for innovative international cinema. The series, in its second year, provides creative filmmakers of substance an artistic platform to share their work for the first time in the Big Apple, before festival season. And while their film budgets may not be of epic proportions, they are magnanimous in a different sort of way: subject matter and untraditional approach. Certain films will host conversations with their directors, as many are bound to incite discussion.

Among many of the countries represented at the museum, 36-01 35th Ave. in Astoria, are France, Spain, Japan, Germany, and Portugal — clearly a diverse menu. The affair will begin with French filmmaker Bruno Dumont’s production, “Outside Satan” (Jan. 4, 7:30 p.m.), a story of a mysterious figure with strange abilities that defy the moral spectrum. Dumont will also star in Joana Preiss’ documentary style piece “Siberia” (Jan. 5, 5 p.m.), which follows the deterioration of a relationship between the two. Fans of Dennis Hopper’s “Easy Rider” are certain to marvel at James Benning’s re-creation of the film in which he visits its locations, scenic and not-so. He will also speak after the screening (Jan. 6 5 p.m.). What each of these films have alike is that they take a different approach to narrative, whether invading on actual relationships or deconstructing a once glorified American backdrop.

To close the compilation of 26 feature and short films, Kleber Mendonca Filho (Brazil), director of the ever eerie “Neighbouring Sounds,” will screen a protean collection of shorts on Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. followed by a talk.

Last year, the series brought attention to films like Chantal Ackerman’s “Almayer’s Folly” and the Portugese documentary “It’s the Earth Not the Moon.” While the museum is intent on keeping the venture artistic rather than commercial, it is hoping to gain more momentum. And while it isn’t necessarily seeking the next hit, it is certainly looking to draw attention from local cinephiles in order to expose works that aren’t always easily detected by the general public.

Museum chief curator David Schwartz hopes that First Look will eventually become a festival. “We just want people to get a sense of how exciting the film scene is around the world now… We hope that some of the films this year will really break out and get lots of attention.”

While the U.S. often seems a dominant force in the world of cinema, this is a great opportunity to see films from differing cultures, which can provide a unique perspective on the medium, and evoke thought and question.

For full schedule please visit www.movingimage.us or call (718) 777-6888.

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