The wonderful thing about New York is that there’s a little something for everyone. So, if box office hits starring mutant superheroes are your thing, there will be a theater playing just that. Or if a documentary feature following a filmmaker back to his hometown in post-wartorn Iraq is more up your alley, then look no further than one of the many film festivals that will hit the town this spring. For the Hollywood fan, spring will bring several sequels to previous big hits. Animation abounds in films like Disney’s “Meet the Robinsons” and “Shrek the Third”; blood and gore hit the silverscreen in Tarantino’s latest offering; and superheroes—hopefully—save the day.—Rhea Saran
“Meet the Robinsons”: Disney’s new animated film tells the story of Lewis, a brilliant inventor, whose latest project, the Memory Scanner, is stolen by Bowler Hat Guy. Together with mysterious stranger Wilbur Robinson, Lewis travels through time to track down the bad guy. Look out for the voice of Angela Bassett as Mildred. Directed by Stephen J. Andersen. March 30.
“The Nanny Diaries”: The big screen adaptation of Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus’ bestselling book stars Scarlett Johansson as the beleagured young nanny who takes a job managing the 4-year-old of a very wealthy—and very dysfunctional—Upper East Side couple. Balancing work, school and romance is no simple task. Directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. April 20.
“Spider-Man 3”: In this third installment of the Spider-Man series, Toby Maguire returns as the superhero next door. Balancing his duties and his love for Mary Jane isn’t easy – and is further complicated by new villains and a dark substance that is bringing out Peter Parker’s darker side. Directed by Sam Raimi. May 4.
KIDS’ CHOICE: “Shrek the Third”: The star cast of the first two Shrek movies are back. Mike Myers (Shrek), Eddie Murphy (Donkey) and Cameron Diaz (Princess Fiona) are joined by other big Hollywood voices in this third film about the lovable green ogre who faces new adventures, even though all he wants is peace and quiet in his swamp. Don’t miss Justin Timberlake as Artie. Directed by Chris Miller and Raman Hui. May 18.
“Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”: In this sequel, Ioan Gruffud (Mr. Fantastic), Jessica Alba (Invisible Woman), Chris Evans (The Human Torch) and Michael Chiklis (The Thing) return as the Fantastic Four, battling the powerful Silver Surfer and contending with the return of Dr. Doom. Directed by Tim Story. June 15.
For those who’ve tired of big screen blockbusters, there are plenty of independent, experimental new features, documentaries and shorts, as well as emerging directors to check out. The season’s festivals are the best bets:
36th New Directors/New Films: While not strictly speaking a film festival, this international showcase of films by emerging filmmakers is presented by the Department of Film, the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. The screenings, from March 21-April 1, will take place at two locations: one at a theater at the MoMA and the other at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater (WRT). The list of films includes “The Inner Life of Martin Frost” by Paul Auster (US), “Glue” by Alexis Dos Santos (Argentina/UK) and “Reprise” by Joachim Trier (Norway), to name a few. In addition to screenings, there will be the HBO Films Roundtable, a forum for discussion with filmmakers and other special guests. And, in the afternoons at WRT, ND/NF Classics will screen a selection of films from past years of ND/NF. filmlinc.com
14th Annual New York Underground Film Festival: According to the organizers, the NYUFF strives to promote films that push boundaries and break new ground. The festival will screen 14 feature films and 100 shorts, focusing on the best of “contemporary experimental and documentary work.” From March 28-April 3, these underground works will be screened at Anthology Film Archives in the East Village. The festival technically closes on April 1, with the remaining two days playing repeats. Nightly party information is available the day of at the box office. The festival will showcase works like “VIVA” by Anna Biller, a tribute to vintage sexploitation films and Nice Bombs by Usama Alsheibi, a personal documentary chronicling the filmmaker’s trip back to Iraq in 2004, among others. nyuff.com.
2007 Tribeca Film Festival: Running from April 26-May 5, this downtown film festival is slated to present a whopping 159 feature films and 85 shorts. There will be as many as 75 world premieres among them and there are 41 countries represented, making this festival international in every sense of the word. Apart from the regular film showings (the schedule will be announced at the end of March), the festival has some special events planned, too. The Tribeca Drive-In will present free-to-the-public outdoor screenings at the World Financial Center Plaza. The Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival on May 5 will consist of a day full of sports film screening, panels and appearances by actors and sports stars. The Family Festival will include a day of family-friendly films and other fun activities. Tribeca Talks features panels of luminaries from the film and arts worlds. tribecafilmfestival.org
And watch for the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival New York, slated to be held at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center from June 14-28. More information will be available mid-May. hrw.org/iff/2007/ny
Other venues for art-house, indie flicks:
IFC Center, ifccenter.com
Angelika Film Center, angelikafilmcenter.com/newyork