MoMI’s movie festival features diverse lineup 1

“Nina Wu,” about an actress receiving a leading role in a movie, will close the First Look festival at the Museum of the Moving Image.

First Look returns to the Museum of the Moving Image March 11, as the ninth edition of the festival of new international cinema will include a wide range of programs.

Perhaps the most anticipated film at the festival is “Epicentro,” Hubert Sauper’s documentary on Cuba, which won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for documentary at the 2020 edition of the Sundance Film Festival and is making its New York premiere.

The movie “challenges viewers to get beyond received notions of a society ambered and isolated in time — notions that locals are more than familiar with — by following wise young people who are angling for a future,” as the synopsis says.

Sauper will be at the screening at 8 p.m. on March 11.

Also screening at the festival is the 2009 documentary “October Country,” looking at a poverty-stricken New York City family living with an array of emotional problems, including teen pregnancy, spousal and child abuse and memories of war.

The closing night film is “Nina Wu,” about a struggling actress receiving her break with a leading role in a spy thriller though she has to deal with predatory filmmakers. Her movie is a breakthrough, but personal problems have her rushing back home. Director Midi Z and actress Ke-Xi Wu, who co-wrote it, will attend the screening on March 15 at 8 p.m.

In addition to the more than two dozen films that will be screened, there will be “Working on It” workshops on each of the five days. On March 12, editor Nels Bangerter will spend an afternoon editing a short film on the spot and in public at the Bartos Theater from 1 to 5 p.m. Then the on-the-spot creation will be unveiled. Meanwhile, Zeshawn Ali, director of “Two Gods,” a story of a Muslim casket maker and ritual body washer in Newark, NJ, bringing two boys under his wing to teach them how to live better lives, will discuss his work-in-progress film.

The next day, the workshop will include a conversation with Robb Moss about his work-in-progress, the third film in a trilogy dating back to 1982. Director Ra’anan Alexandrowicz will recount the journey that led to his new film, “The Viewing Booth,” and will show clips from his previous two films, to be followed by a conversation between him and Moss.

First Look 2020 includes work from Belgium, France, Ukraine, Poland, Georgia, Germany, Madagascar, Canada, Sweden, Slovenia, Turkey, Columbia, South Africa, Taiwan and the United States.

First Look film series
When: Wed.-Sun., March 11-15, varying times
Where: Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35 Ave., Astoria
Tickets: $15. (718) 777-6888,

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