Strap on your wakizashi and stock up on shuriken: For the next four days, the screens at Anthology Film Archives will be dominated by the elusive masters of ninjutsu, thanks to Old-School Kung-Fu Fest 2015: Enter the Ninja. The films range from serious Sixties thrillers (Shinobi no Mono Parts 1 and 2, Sunday at 5:15 and 7:30) to the gung-ho cheese-fu of 1985's American Ninja, Saturday at 3. (And for sheer crazytown fun, stick around for Five Element Ninjas. Ninja stilts, everybody. Ninja trees!) Friday's 7:20 screening of a rare 1970s gem is shrouded in secrecy, as the ninja code demands. Showtimes vary.
Coprogrammed by Dennis Lim and Rachael Rakes, this second annual installment of "Art of the Real" promises an even more ambitious, expansive view of documentary work being made around the world. In addition to its main slate — the openingnight lineup includes U.S. and/or North American premieres of João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata's Iec Long, Eduardo Williams's I Forgot, and Matt Porterfield's Take What You Can Carry — the series includes two indispensable sidebar programs: one a retrospective of the work of the French director Agnès Varda, the other a group of films dealing with the method of reenactment (including Peter Watkins's 1974 Edvard Munch and James Benning's 1986 Landscape Suicide).
Taiwanese director Tsai Mingliang has been among the most profound voices in world cinema over the past quartercentury, making this overview of his work — the most comprehensive Tsai showcase in New York to date — perhaps the crucial repertory event of the season. Tsai's mesmerizing features range from a pornindustry study peppered with musical numbers (2005's The Wayward Cloud) to a glacial wuxia epic (2003's Goodbye, Dragon Inn) to the recent, despairing Stray Dogs (2013). If you attend enough of these, you'll become well acquainted with Tsai's favorite actor, Lee Kangsheng, who embodies both the director's anguish and his singular humor.
The world-famous festival brings the international film community to Manhattan, and each year it's a massive Hollywood-infused affair: The 2014 festival drew a total of 400,000 attendees celebrating 89 features and 57 short films from 40 countries. This year's festival opens with the world premiere of the Saturday Night Live documentary Live From New York! All-access passes allowing for potential hobnobbing with industry stars are a whopping $1,200, but there are lots of more affordable tickets: $10 for matinee screenings, $35 for panel discussions, $50 for an awards day pass, and more. Various locations.