Huan Huan – New Directors/New Films 2012


Producer/Writer/Director: Song Chuan
Director of Photography: Wang Xiang
Cast: Tian Yuefang, Liu Xiang
China, 2011

27 March 2012, Walter Reade Theater, NYC

Immediately recognizable to anyone who has sought escape from a hopeless backwater town, pastoral scenes frame human misery compounded by an inexorable One Child Policy.

A pretty girl with a blemished face smokes at the shore. Desperate to leave her one-horse village, she’s been sleeping with a married doctor who promises escape, but bowing to pressure from her parents she weds a local gambler, the son of a shopkeeper. After multiple bribes to the local Buddhist temple, she becomes pregnant, engulfing her world in a firestorm of suspicion and violent retribution.

Fuxian Lake in Yunnan has beautiful, clear water. They say a woman killed herself in its depths. Swimming is forbidden. “I used to come here when I was little. Lots of people. Where did everybody go?”


Song Chuan was denied a visa by the US Embassy to attend New Directors/New Films for the first screening of his debut feature film outside of China. What has happened to our country?

Le Chat Du Rabbin | The Rabbi’s Cat – New Directors/New Films 2012


Producer/Directors: Joann Sfar, Antoine Delesvaux
Writers: Sandrina Jardel, Joann Sfar, based on his comic books
Music: Olivier Daviaud, Amsterdam Klezmer Band
Voices: François Morel, Maurice Bénichou, Hafsia Herzi, François Damiens, Mathieu Amalric
France/Austria, 2011

27 March 2012, Walter Reade Theater, NYC

“You can never return to Eden.”

Comic book artist Joann Sfar’s follow-up to his debut feature Gainsbourg (Vie héroïque) is a triumphant 3-D adaptation of his five-volume cartoon saga about a rabbi, his daughter Zlabya, and his cat, who starts to speak one day after eating the beautiful parrot that they keep in their house.

The story takes place in 1920s Algiers, where Jewish and Islamic communities – both ostracized by the French colonials – existed in relative peace and rabbis and sheiks could be friends.

A young Russian painter arrives in a coffin. He has a dream of discovering a mythical Jerusalem populated by black Jews. The rabbi, his cat, a sheik, and a donkey set off with him deep into Africa in a 1925 Citroen halftrack sporting a Russian flag with the Mogen David, meeting exotic characters (including Tintin in the Congo), and finding adventure and romance along the way.

Four years in the making, showing love in every frame, in shimmering beauty with homages to Will Eisner, Karl Barks, Marc Chagall and who knows other past artists, Le chat du rabbin is a leap forward in humanism and cinematic art.

Film website:

Update: US Distributor – Gkids (2012)

5 Broken Cameras – New Directors/New Films 2012


Watch the Film

Writer/Directors: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi

Music: Le Trio Joubran

Palestine/Israel/France, 2011

26 March 2012, Walter Reade Theater, NYC

“How do we deal with our anger? Something new.”

A first-hand record of resistance to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian town of Bil’in, seen through five cameras: the first exploded by an Israeli gas canister; the second smashed by Israeli settlers; the third pierced by an Israeli military bullet intended for the film-maker; the fourth demolished in a car crash into an Israeli barrier; the fifth destroyed by yet another Israeli bullet. The cameras witness Israeli settlers burning Palestinian olive trees, Israeli soldiers attacking Palestinian children, and the murder of a young Palestinian man defending an Israeli protester from her own government. An essential work.

Update: US Distributor – Kino Lorber (2012)