Thursday, September 29, 2011

49-Up! THE NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL nears its half-century with a diverse line-up

Another fall, another NYFF -- this year's seemingly (TrustMovies has seen only one of the 22 Main Slate movies) even more interestingly diverse than usual. In addition to those 22, the festival will offer some 42 Masterworks, plus its annual Views from the Avant-Garde plus the HBO Directors Dialogues (that's Julia Loktev, above, who'll appear in person with her new film, The Loneliest Planet, below), Forums, and the ever-present Special Events.  Oh, yes, and those Galas, too -- five of them this year, each sporting a $40 or $50 dollar price tag.

Is just me or does this year's roster appear not just much broader and numerous than usual but much deeper, too? Well, why not -- since The Film Society of Lincoln Center added new theaters to its usual roster this year. Now, film buffs can bask in more movies, events and personal appearances than they can possibly keep up with. (Despite all that's going on, you can only be in one venue at a time, right?)

This year's presentations include everything from mainstream/highbrow (Alexander Payne's The Descendents (above), showing as one of the Galas) to the lesser-known (Betzy Bromberg's Voluptuous Sleep, below, part of the Avant-Garde) to a panel discussion on just how the Avant-Garde influences mainstream movies (part of the Forums).

There is so very much available this year that you really must click on all the links above and peruse them well  -- or risk missing something that you (and maybe only you) would consider a must-see. That's part of the beauty of the NYFF: how amazingly inclusive yet utterly specific it manages to be.

Though I will be seeing during upcoming press screenings Wim Wenders' first foray into dance (and 3D!) -- Pina (above) -- and the latest from Aki Kaurismäki -- Le Havre (below) -- the only film I've viewed so far is the most recent from Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, The Kid With a Bike (shown at bottom), which I am thrilled to say may be my favorite Dardenne film so far. The brothers seem to have distilled all they've learned about filmmaking into a single sad and lovely story about the loss of a parent, growth and the taking of responsibility. The film is cemented by three terrific actors: the increasingly versatile Cécile De France, Jérémie Renier and, in the title role, a simply riveting performance by a newcomer named Thomas Doret.

Many of these films have already lined up U.S. distribution, but many have not (and probably will not). So take a good look at the entire program(s) and choose wisely. (Except for those of us who are prescient, how do you do that? ) Well, good luck!

The New York Film Festival opens tomorrow, Friday, September 30 and lasts through Sunday, October 16. Click here for venues and maps, and on the individual films and/or programs, once you find them, to procure tickets.

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