Lincoln Center may be fashion’s new home, but for the next two weeks, it gloriously belongs to movie snobs. The 63rd annual New York Film Festival is here, with one of the best line-ups in recent years. NYFF has always had a hard time balancing commerciality and their naturally more abstract choices – but this year is surprisingly harmonious.
Opening the festival with David Fincher’s highly-anticipated blockbuster “The Social Network,” and closing with Clint Eastwood’s latest, “The Hereafter,” was a big play for NYFF. They knew that the publicity from “The Social Network” automatically gives the festival curators the opportunity to feature the smaller, will-never-get-a-distributor films that they love so much.
While the list of 28 foreign, indie, and critically-acclaimed films might be a bit hard to parse out, here’s a list of the most exciting and interesting new films at this year’s festival:
1. “The Social Network” – yes, it is a blockbuster, and yes, it comes out a week after the festival. But if the 100% critic’s rating on Rotten Tomatoes tells us anything, it’s that this is the most important blockbuster in a long time. Don’t miss the chance to see the film critics have already compared to “The Godfather,” especially at this event with a more sophisticated audience that will likely trump your average AMC crowd.
2. “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” – The Palme d’Or winner at this year’s Cannes Film Festival is an eerie reflection on a man as he is dying and revisits his past lives. In addition to being the winner of Cannes, this is probably the only Thai film you will find for a long time – it’s worth it simply to experience such an interesting culture on screen.
3. “The Robber” – Modern Austrian cinema is a bourgeoning market, and NYFF always finds the best of it to tap into. This year they chose “The Robber,” based on the true story of a man who is both a famous marathon runner and a compulsive robber. His two passions are deeply intertwined, and the film has the excellent pacing it needs to keep up with its marvelous protagonist.
4. “Film Socialisme” – If legendary New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard has a new film, it is a must-see for film aficionados. Godard has been pretty rogue since his heyday in the ‘60’s, and “Film Socialisme” is an exciting new addition to his oeuvre. Almost completely focused on style, the fact that there are no subtitles shouldn’t scare you – this film is much more than dialogue.
5. “Black Venus” – One of the less-known films of the festival, “Black Venus” is promising for many reasons: The tale of the “Hottentot Venus,” an African woman who was exhibited and studied around Europe in the 19th century for her “large genitalia,” has never been adequately put on screen, despite being a story wrought with heartbreak and history. Also, the performance of Yahima Torres as Saartje Baartman is reportedly one of the best performances in the festival this year.
Alongside these and the other 23 films on the main slate, don’t forget NYFF’s extensive special events and dialogue series, which include talks with Mike Leigh, Julie Taymor, David Fincher, and a retrospective of remarkable Japanese New Wave filmmaker Masahiro Shinoda (“Pale Flower,” “Double Suicide”). And this is just a sample of the extensive reach of NYFF’s selection this year.
New York is known for its festivals, fashion weeks, and high-profile events – but of all of these NYFF stands above the rest as one of the most intellectual and thought-provoking film events not only in the big apple, but in the world.
The New York Film Festival begins on September 23, and runs through October 10. More information on the main slate and panels can be found at www.filmlinc.com.
By: Rachel Allen
Read more about New York City Living at www.allmediany.com
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