In This World

Rappers in Cuba, pilgrims in Mecca, killer fish in Tanzania, James Carville in Bolivia

March 29 and 31

An often effective vérité slash of agitprop, Saverio Costanzo's DV suspenser is set in a West Bank Palestinian house (shot in Italy), where a contentious family of seven (led by a proud patriarch) get their usual daily turmoil ripped to shreds by an occupying force of no-nonsense Israeli soldiers. The handheld vibe is frequently contrived (the hairiest sequences involve the lights going out), and the script runs out of raw material, but this Desperate Hours-style standoff is acted with fierce conviction, and the pseudo-home-movie syntax is congenitally tense. The Israeli soldiers are given vulnerabilities and ambivalences, but make no mistake: It's a passionate critique of Israel's systematic human rights abuses. ATKINSON


Stoically despondent: Darwin's Nightmare
photo: FSLC
Stoically despondent: Darwin's Nightmare


New Directors/New Films
March 23 through April 3
MOMA, Alice Tully Hall, Walter Reade

This year's ND/NF offers a few spirited defenses of the ever beleaguered short format, none better than Chris Landreth's Oscar-winning Ryan (screening with Agnes and His Brothers, April 2 and 3, and also in the Oscar-nominated shorts program at Cinema Village this week). Another highlight is John Harden's deadpan La Jetée parody, La Vie d'un Chien (with Mila From Mars), in which a scientist develops a chromosome-altering drug that transforms humans into dogs, a breakthrough possibly motivated by the desire to consummate his forbidden love for pet canine Sylvie. Also of interest: Keith Bearden's The Raftman's Razor (with Duck Season), about two teenagers' obsession with an enigmatic anti-superhero comic book, and Michelange Quay's The Gospel of the Creole Pig (with Young Rebels), a powerfully associative meditation on the legacy of slavery in Haiti that encompasses religious rituals, stock market reports, and live pig slaughters, before culminating in a majestic three-minute crane shot of the Queensboro Bridge. JOSHUA LAND

ND/NF coverage continues next week.

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