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New Directors pushes Sundance pics

'Amreeka,' 'Push' to open, close festival

The 39th edition of New Directors/New Films will open and close with Sundance standouts “Amreeka” and “Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire.”

The fest is set for March 25 to April 5. A sampler akin to the fall New York Film Festival, New Directors/New Films is a joint effort of the Film Society at Lincoln Center and MoMA’s film department.

The 25 pics in the lineup come from 20 countries. Many premiered at festivals, such as Sundance, but a few are world preems, including Austin director Bob Byington’s slacker breakup story “Harmony and Me.”

Opener “Amreeka” was directed, written and produced by Gotham-based Cherien Dabis. It’s a culture-clash tale of a single mother from Ramallah who moves with her son to the heartland of America just as U.S. troops enter Baghdad.

“Push,” which closes the fest, was the hot acquisition out of Sundance — so hot that it has prompted a lawsuit between the Weinstein Co. and Lionsgate over distribution rights. Directed by Lee Daniels, it stars newcomer Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’Nique and Mariah Carey and has drawn commitments of marketing support from Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry.

Other titles of note include docs “The Cove” and “We Live in Public” as well as Venice prize winners “Paper Soldiers” and “Mid-August Lunch.”

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