First Look Festival screens the world in Astoria

First Look Festival screens the world in Astoria
Photo courtesy of Music Box Films
By Merle Exit

Filled with New York and U.S. premieres, the Museum of the Moving Image has announced the lineup for the First Look Festival, its annual showcase for inventive new international cinema, which runs Jan. 8-24.

This fifth festival will have a special focus on the love of cinema, art and the practice of filmmaking.

“First Look is a festival designed to renew and reinvigorate the audience’s engagement with the moving image art form,” Chief Curator David Schwartz said. “The emphasis is on works that cannot be easily defined, that create new cinematic forms, and have a spirit of invention and inquiry.”

These themes are evident in the opening night film, Alexander Sokurov’s “Francofonia,” an inventive and freewheeling portrait of European culture and the role of the museum.

Taking as its starting point a portrait of the world-famous Louvre Museum, the new film by Russian director Alexander Sokurov is a freewheeling, speculative essay film with documentary and fiction elements as it considers the essential relationship between art, culture, and history.

The focus on cinema as subject is evident in Portuguese director Manuel Mozos’s exquisite portrait of João Bénard da Costa, the late director of the Portuguese Film Museum; a playful autobiographical work by the French film critic and filmmaker Louis Skoreck.

First Look Festival includes a duo of intimate behind-the-scenes films about American director Jim Jarmusch and has a strong focus on avant-garde films engaged with the physicality of the medium, with films by Margaret Honda, Ken Jacobs, Bjoern Kammerer and the late Andrew Noren; and formally innovative films such as Jonathan Perel’s structuralist study of oppressive Argentine architecture, and Dominic Gagnon’s gonzo YouTube assemblages.

The lineup includes more than 50 films and digital works of varying lengths from around the world.

In addition, the festival will include a retrospective selection of films that include the operatic western “Johnny Guitar” starring Joan Crawford as gun-toting saloon owner.

First Look films were programmed by Schwartz, Associate Film Curator Eric Hynes, and guest curator Mónica Savirón.

MOMI established First Look in 2012 to showcase new and inventive international cinema—offering an oasis of thoughtful and provocative filmmaking amid the hype and noise of the awards season.

If you go

First Look Festival

When: Jan. 8 – Jan. 24

Where: Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Ave., Astoria

Cost: $40/festival pass access to all screenings

Contact: (718) 777-6888

Website: www.movingimage.us