Waking dreams were in mind when programmers selected films for this year’s New York Film Festival. Opening with The Queen, Stephen Frears’ portrait of Queen Elizabeth II coming to terms with her royal persona during the nightmare of Princess Diana’s death, and closing with Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, the journey of a young girl through a fantastical underworld, paralleled with the reality of fascist 1944 Spain, the program at the 44th Annual New York Film Festival shifts effortlessly between myth and reality, horror and historical epic, anime and documentary.
The selection stretches the theme globally. Also from Spain is this year’s centerpiece film, Pedro Almodóvar’s Volver, a supernatural piece from the ever-popular director and his typically incredible ensemble of talented actresses. The United States offers two highly anticipated entries: David Lynch’s guarded and long-awaited Inland Empire, a piece of digital delirium of which little detail is known, save its three-hour running time; and Sofia Coppola’s highly stylized interpretation of Marie Antoinette’s illustrious and cocooned lifestyle, well before the crash of reality – and fall of the axe – known as the French Revolution. (Reportedly booed at Cannes, the film has been touted as the controversial postmodern piece of the year.) South Korea debuts NYFF-favorite Hong Sang-soo’s new film, Woman on the Beach, as well as Bong Joon-ho’s The Host, a huge blockbuster at home, a hit at Cannes, and cited as the best monster movie of the decade. Finally – and reliably – France screens a few entries from its native (and expatriated) masters: Resnais’ new Alan Ayckbourn collaboration, Private Fears in Public Places; the latest from Russian-born filmmaker Otar Iosseliani; and Oliveira’s Belle Toujours, which revisits the characters of the celebrated and surreal Belle du Jour, by that other expatriate filmmaker, Luis Buñuel.
Although not necessarily in the spotlight, favorite directors return to the festival, including Hong Kong’s Johnnie To, Iran’s Jafar Panahi, Africa’s Abderrahmane Sissako, Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and Austria’s Barbara Albert in retrospective, the main program includes Warren Beatty’s Reds in celebration of the film’s silver anniversary, and a rare screening of Filipino director Lino Brocka’s Insiang from 1976. Festival goers unable to attend sold-out screenings in the main program may want to venture into the special sidebar program featuring 50 Years of Janus Films. Focusing on the landmark importer’s contribution to cinematic history, the Film Society of Lincoln Center presents brand new 35mm prints of classics such as Rules of the Game, High and Low, Days of Wrath, and Wild Strawberries.
After a cinematic year deemed somewhat disappointing, New York closes out the major festival circuit with the possibility of undiscovered gems, in a program both ambitious and richer than recent years. The New York Film Festival commences on Friday September 29th and will run through Sunday, October 15th.
Introduction by Leo Goldsmith and Jenny Jediny
|Marie Antoinette||25 September|
|Syndromes and a Century||27 September|
|Gardens in Autumn||28 September|
|Inland Empire||03 October|
|Inland Empire||03 October|
|The Queen||04 October|
|Little Children||09 October|
|The Host||10 October|
|Private Fears in Public Places||11 October|
|Triad Election||12 October|
|These Girls||16 October|
|Our Daily Bread||17 October|
|The Journals of Knud Rasmussen||17 October|
|Poison Friends||24 October|
|Belle Toujours||26 October|