Violet – New Directors/New Films


Written and Directed by Bas Devos
Director of Photography: Nicolas Karakatsanis
82 minutes, Belgium/Netherlands, 2014, DCP
Sat 03/21/2015 1:15 PM
Walter Reade Theater, NYC

Cast: Cesar De Sutter, Raf Walschaerts, Mira Helmer, Koen De Sutter, Jeroen Vander Ven, Fania Sorel, Brent Minne

“The muted but harrowing tone of Violet emerges in the prologue, as closed-circuit monitors impassively display the stabbing death of a teenager at a mall…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

Violet is a highly accomplished debut feature led by Flemish writer/director Bas Devos, director of photography Nicolas Karakatsanis, sound designer Boris Debackere, and a perfectly cast team of actors.

Cesar De Sutter as Jesse in Violet
Cesar De Sutter as Jesse in Violet

Flashes of violet (the last color on the visible spectrum), and the story opens on a bank of security cameras capturing the attempted robbery and fatal stabbing of a teenage boy in a mall. The lone physical witness to the murder is his friend Jesse (Cesar De Sutter), cowering in a shop doorway, unsure of what he is seeing.

A visual poem shot on 65mm film and the digital Alexa, Violet effectively captures Jesse’s heightened sensitivity to his surroundings as he tries to come to terms with an irrevocably changed life in the wake of a friend’s murder.

That the audience cannot see all of the security cameras contributes to a sense that we are not seeing some things that might be essential, as we follow Jesse and his struggle to cope with this horrific event over the next several days.

Normal teenage preoccupations with courage and cowardice, acceptance and ostracism are heightened by Jesse’s survivor’s guilt and the suspicion that even his mother and father may look at him differently, as do his BMX rider mates who openly wonder how Jesse survived without any visible harm while their friend was stabbed to death.

Winner of the Berlin Generation 14plus Grand Prix (Best Feature Film) and Best Original Music and Sound Design of the Ghent International Film Festival, Violet should get a second look for North American theatrical release.

New Directors/New Films – 2015


Among the movies at this year’s New Directors/New Films, I’ll be looking closely at several that haven’t yet found a distributor for North American theatrical release (*):

*Christmas, Again
Directed by Charles Poekel
Sat 03/28/2015 6:15 PM
Walter Reade
“A forlorn Noel (Kentucker Audley) pulls long, cold nights as a Christmas-tree vendor in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. As obnoxious, indifferent, or downright bizarre customers come and go, doing little to restore Noel’s faith in humanity, only the flirtatious innuendos of one woman and the drunken pleas of another seem to lift him out of his funk…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb] [film website]

Directed by Chaitanya Tamhane
Thu 03/26/2015 9:00 PM
Walter Reade
“Winner of top prizes at the Venice and Mumbai film festivals, Chaitanya Tamhane’s Court is a quietly devastating, absurdist portrait of injustice, caste prejudice, and venal politics in contemporary India…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

*The Creation of Meaning/La creazione di significato
Directed by Simone Rapisarda Casanova
Thu 03/19/2015 9:00 PM
Walter Reade
“Though its title arcs toward grand philosophical inquiry, the stirring power of Simone Rapisarda Casanova’s second documentary-fiction hybrid—winner of the 2014 Locarno Film Festival’s Best Emerging Director prize—lies in its intimacy of detail and wry political observation…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb] [film website]

*Dog Lady/La mujer de los perros
Directed by Laura Citarella & Verónica Llinás
Thu 03/26/2015 6:30 PM
Walter Reade
“An indelible and quietly haunting study of a nameless woman (memorably played by co-director Verónica Llinás) living with a loyal pack of stray dogs in silent, self-imposed exile in the pampas on the edge of Buenos Aires…” [more at ND/NF] [Variety review] [THR review]

*The Fool/Durak
Directed by Yuriy Bykov
Sat 03/21/2015 9:15 PM
Walter Reade
“The lives of hundreds of the dregs of society are at stake in this stark, grotesque portrait of a new Russia on the verge of catastrophe…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

*Fort Buchanan
Directed by Benjamin Crotty
Wed 03/25/2015 6:30 PM
Walter Reade
“Expanding his 2012 short of the same name, Crotty chronicles the tragicomic plight of frail, lonely Roger, stranded at a remote military post in the woods while his husband carries out a mission in Djibouti…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

Goodnight Mommy/Ich seh, Ich seh
Directed by Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz
Fri 03/27/2015 9:15 PM
Walter Reade
“The dread of parental abandonment is trumped by the terror of menacing spawn in Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz’s exquisite, cerebral horror-thriller…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

The Great Man/Le grand homme
Directed by Sarah Leonor
Sat 03/28/2015 3:30 PM
Walter Reade
“When we first meet Markov (Surho Sugaipov), he and fellow French Legionnaire Hamilton (Jérémie Renier) are tracking a wild leopard in a desert war zone, at the end of their posting in Afghanistan…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

Directed by Shim Sung-bo
Sat 03/21/2015 6:15 PM
Walter Reade
“First-time director Shim Sung-bo (screenwriter of Memories of Murder, the second film by Haemoo’s producer Bong Joon-ho) distills a gripping drama from a real life incident and delivers a gritty, brooding spectacle of life and death on the high seas…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb] [film website]

Directed by Darhad Erdenibulag & Emyr ap Richard
Sat 03/21/2015 3:45 PM
Walter Reade
“Franz Kafka’s unfinished novel The Castle is relocated to present-day Inner Mongolia, and the translation is startlingly seamless…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

*Line of Credit/Kreditis limiti
Directed by Salomé Alexi
Sat 03/28/2015 1:00 PM
Walter Reade
“Things are tough all over. Mortgage crises and other economic woes have hit the entire world, including the Republic of Georgia…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

Directed by Virgil Vernier
Sun 03/22/2015 8:15 PM
Walter Reade
“With an eclectic assortment of shorts, documentaries, and hybrid works to his name, Virgil Vernier is one of the most ambitious young directors in France today, and one of the hardest to categorize. Taking a cue from Godard’s 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, Vernier’s most accomplished film to date trains his camera on the Parisian suburb of Bagnolet, shadowing two receptionists (Ana Neborac and Philippine Stindel) who work in the lobby of the titular high-rise…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

New Directors Shorts Program 1
Mon 03/23/2015 6:15 PM
Walter Reade
“Five short films by exciting new talents from around the world: San Siro (Yuri Ancarani, Italy, 24m), Boulevard’s End (Nora Fingscheidt, Germany, 15m), Blue and Red (Zhou Tao, Thailand, 25m), Nelsa (Felipe Guerrero, Colombia, 13m), and The Field of Possible (Matías Meyer, Mexico/Canada, 10m).” [more at ND/NF]

New Directors Shorts Program 2
Sun 03/22/2015 2:45 PM
Walter Reade
“Seven short films by exciting new talents from around the world: Icarus (Nicholas Elliott, USA, 16m), The Chicken (Una Gunjak, Germany/Croatia, 15m), Heartless (Nara Normande & Tião, Brazil, 25m), I Remember Nothing (Zia Anger, USA, 18m), Discipline (Christophe M. Sabe, Switzerland, 11m), We Will Stay in Touch About It (Jan Zabeil, Germany, 8m), and Odessa Crash Test (Notes on Film 09) (Norbert Pfaffenbichler, Austria, 6m).” [more at ND/NF]

Directed by Yohei Suzuki
Wed 03/25/2015 9:00 PM
Walter Reade
“Jobless young Tetsuo and his girlfriend Yuriko are inexplicably immobilized after laying eyes on an orb-like object that appears out of nowhere, hovering near his bedroom ceiling…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

Directed by Lukas Valenta Rinner
Tue 03/24/2015 6:30 PM
Walter Reade
“A Buenos Aires office worker finishes his day, visits his father in a rest home, lodges his cat in a kennel, and cancels his phone service…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

*Tired Moonlight
Directed by Britni West
Thu 03/19/2015 6:30 PM
Walter Reade
“Britni West’s directorial debut, which won the Jury Award for Narrative Feature at this year’s Slamdance, discovers homespun poetry among the good folk of West’s native Kalispell, Montana…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

The Tribe/Plemya
Directed by Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy
Sat 03/28/2015 8:45 PM
Walter Reade
“A silent film with a difference, this entirely unprecedented tour de force was one of the must-see flash points at last year’s Cannes Film Festival…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb] [film website]

Tu dors Nicole
Directed by Stéphane Lafleur
Fri 03/20/2015 6:30 PM
Walter Reade
“With this disarmingly atmospheric comedy, Québécois director Stéphane Lafleur continues to secure his place high among the recent surge of talent flowing from French Canada…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

Directed by Bas Devos
Sat 03/21/2015 1:15 PM
Walter Reade
“The muted but harrowing tone of Violet emerges in the prologue, as closed-circuit monitors impassively display the stabbing death of a teenager at a mall…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb]

White God/Fehér isten
Directed by Kornél Mundruczó
Fri 03/20/2015 9:00 PM
Walter Reade
“Thirteen-year old Lili and her mixed-breed dog Hagen are inseparable. When officials attempt to tax the mutt (a law that didn’t pass in Hungary, but was actually attempted), Lili’s father dumps Hagen on the street…” [more at ND/NF] [IMDb] [film website]