Columbia Filmmakers Screen at New Directors/New Films Festival

Joséphine Simonian
March 26, 2024

Three Columbia Film alumni have been selected to participate in the 53rd edition of the New Directors/New Films Festival presented by Film at Lincoln Center and The Museum of Modern Art. They are: Selman Nacar '21, Claire Brooks '21, and Kunao Yan '23. 

The ND/NF Festival celebrates filmmakers who speak to the present and anticipate the future of cinema. The filmmakers who are selected to screen at the festival are creating bold films that push the envelope in unexpected and striking ways. This year’s festival will introduce 25 features and 10 shorts, including one world premiere, 14 North American premieres, five U.S. premieres, and 15 New York premieres. 

To Dan Sulliver, Programmer, Film at Lincoln Center, and 2024 ND/NF Co-Chair, ND/NF has always been about “early encounters between the most cutting-edge emerging artists in international cinema and the New York audience who will be engaging with their work for years to come.” 

In the feature-film category, Nacar will be presenting Hesitation Wound, which he wrote and directed. The film presents the unwelcome intrusion of law and society in affairs of the heart, following 24 stressful hours in the life of a Turkish criminal lawyer torn between her allegiances to her client, a murder suspect; her mother, who convalesces in a hospital; and the judge, a man of questionable principles. A Dostoyevskian thriller laced with moral anguish, Hesitation Wound places Nacar in the company of his compatriot Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

Nacar has written and directed 4 short films, which received recognition at many international film festivals. He is an alumnus of Berlinale Talent 2019. Nacar co-produced The Pillar of Salt in 2018, which premiered at the 68th Berlin Film Festival in the Forum Section, and he produced Belonging in 2019, which premiered at the 69th Berlin Film Festival in the Forum Section. His film Between Two Dawns premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 2021. 

Still from Exhibiting Forgiveness, couple in a museum

Also screening is Exhibiting Forgiveness, executive produced by Brooks.The film revolves around a Black artist on the path to success who is derailed by an unexpected visit from his estranged father, a recovering addict desperate to reconcile. Together, they struggle and learn that forgetting might be a greater challenge than forgiving. The film is as provocative in its depiction of unresolvable familial crises as it is in its message about the  meaning and co-opting of Black voices in the contemporary art scene—wrestling with difficult, personal questions without settling on easy answers. 

Since she graduated, Brooks has focused on producing narrative work with her producing partner, Jeremy Kipp Walker (Half Nelson, The Big Sick). Together they oversee the newly launched Netflix Emerging Filmmaker Initiative as external producing partners and their next feature film, Dog Gone starring Rob Lowe, will hit Netflix in 2023. 

still from Goodbye First Love, man looking out a window

Goodbye First Love, co-produced by Yan, will screen in the Shorts category. The logline of the film poetically tells the reader: “He visits him during his work trip to Europe. They haven't seen each other since 2015, back in Beijing. This could be the last time they see each other.”  In a small studio, two men share loving and contradictory memories of their past relationship in Beijing, pointing to tales of what could have been in weary, melancholic silences. The short premiered at the 2024 Berlin Film Festival. 

Yan is a writer-director born in Baoding, China. He received his BFA in Screenwriting from Communication University of China and his MFA in Directing from Columbia University School of the Arts. His work features people's relationships along with psychological and spiritual feelings in a subtle and authentic way. His short film, Summer Swing, was shortlisted for the 59th Semaine de la Critique Cannes Film Festival, and premiered at the 23rd Shanghai international Film Festival. His latest short film, Before Leaving, was acquired by Italian distributor Lights On, selected as a Sundance Ignite Adobe Fellowship Finalist, and premiered at Tenerife Shorts Film Festival. His first feature, Eight to Nine O’clock, is in post-production.