Russian director Alexander Sokurov’s latest film, “Francofonia,” which opens the Museum of the Moving Image’s annual “First Look” series on January 8, will undoubtedly be compared to his earlier film, “Russian Ark” (2002). Both take place in a museum — “Ark” in St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum and “Francofonia” at the Louvre in Paris — but are far from tour-guide documentaries, each using a space as a way to talk about how art and history mingle and intertwine.In “Ark,” which is also Sokurov’s best-known film in the United States, his camera travels the halls of the Hermitage in one 96-minute shot. Every turn of the corner presents a new cast of characters, ghosts reenacting scenes from the past, with Sokoruv’s voice in conversation from behind the camera with another man, simply named “the European,” who we follow from one room to the next. “Ark” is both a startling technical achievement and a profound way to cinematically present history as fiction. With “Francofonia,” Sokoruv, at first, seems to be taking a step back, even though the film’s narrative agenda is similar to that of his previous work. He is once again narrating, but this time there is no single-shot virtuosity. “Francofonia” is constructed of fragmented sequences, relying heavily on stock footage along with scripted scenes to tell the story of Louvre director Jacques Jaujard (Louis-Do de Lencquesaing) and his relationship with Franz Graf Wolff-Metternich (Benjamin Utzerath) during the German occupation. On the margins of this story, Sokurov mixes in philosophical questions about the role of art in society that sometimes turn autobiographical, even probing.“João Bénard da Costa—Others Will Love the Things I Have Loved,” an essay film from Manuel Mozos that screens on January 9, has similar aspirations that take a different form. Ostensibly about the former director of the Portuguese Film Museum, who died in 2009, it uses a complex narration (recorded by Costa’s son) that adds an intimacy not present in Sokurov’s film. “Others Will Love,” while detailing, as the title suggests, the things that Costa loved throughout his life, is also about the role art plays in the construction of all lives.Pia Borg’s 37-minute “Abandoned Goods,” screening on January 17, also focuses on art, but in a very different context. A catalog of the paintings and sculptures left behind by patients who were living at a now-abandoned mental institution in England between 1946 and 1981, it is haunting in its revelation of the talent that was contained in one place, completely isolated from civilization, and in the story it tells about the relationship between art and society.