New directors make impressive debuts

I attended this year's Toronto filmfest as a member of a seven-member International Film Critics Federation jury charged with encouraging new talent by awarding a prize to the best movie premired here by a first-time or second-time filmmaker not affiliated with a major studio.

The prize went to Zhang Yang for Shower, a poetic Chinese comedy-drama about an elderly father, his very different sons, and the ramshackle bathhouse they run in a changing urban neighborhood.

Other pictures I found impressive in the "young cinema" category included Rodrigue Jean's moody Full Blast, a French Canadian drama about two irresponsible young men; After the Truth, by German director Roland Suso Richter, about what might have happened if Nazi physician Josef Mengele had been put on trial for war crimes; Tom Gilroy's soft-spoken Spring Forward, an American drama starring Ned Beatty and Liev Schreiber as working-class men who grow closer through the experiences they share; and Kevin Jordan's ultra-low-budget Goat on Fire & Smiling Fish, an American comedy about love-struck brothers with contrasting personalities.

Thanks to the praiseworthy support shown for new directors by this hugely influential festival, these and other forward-looking movies have a good chance of finding their way to neighborhood theaters in the near future.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.