By Indiewire | Indiewire August 23, 2004 at 2:0AM
Almodóvar Spotlight, Director Discussions, and 33 Features at 42nd New York Film Festival
by Brian Brooks
The Film Society of Lincoln Center, organizers of the annual New York Film Festival, today will unveil the 33 film slate for its 42nd edition, kicking off on October 1st in Manhattan. As previously announced, Agnès Jaoui's "Comme une image" (Look at Me) will usher in the festival, considered one of the most prestigious in North America. The film, which will be released theatrically in the U.S. next February by Sony Pictures Classics, is a drama focusing on tense relationships among a group of Parisians struggling with insecurities. It stars Jean-Pierre Bacri (who co-wrote the screenplay) and Virginie Desarnauts.
Audiences will have an opportunity to see celebrated Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar at the festival. The filmmaker will be the center of attention at "Viva Pedro," a special tribute including a screening of career highlights and a one-on-one conversation at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, where most of the NYFF line-up will be screened. Additionally, Almodóvar's Cannes 2004 opener, "Mala Educación" (Bad Education) starring Gael Garcia Bernal, and Fele Martinez will have its North American debut at the festival as its Centerpiece screening. Sony Pictures Classics will release the film, which is centers on two former Catholic schoolmates who are reunited in the 1980s, in the U.S. in November.
"The Film Society is very proud of its close relationship with Pedro Almodovar, which extends from 'What Have I Done to Deserve This?' (1984), shown in New Directors/New Films (also a Film Society event), to his most recent films," commented Film Society of Lincoln Center program director Richard Peña regarding Almodovar's long history with the organization and the event over the years. "Presenting Almodóvar regularly in our programs has afforded us the rare privilege of watching a major artist evolve his art in new, exciting and unpredictable directions. In terms of influence, one could say that [his] work holds up a standard against which we inevitably compare much of what we show. His brilliant 'Bad Education' seems both a great summing up of his recent tendencies as well as an indication as to where his art is heading, so it seemed like the right moment to organize the kind of tribute and conversation we hope to present."
Consistent with past editions, Cannes titles are well represented at NYFF '04. In addition to "Mala educación," and Jaoui's "Comme une image," the festival has slated a number of Cannes films. From Argentina, Lucrecia Martel's choir girl drama "La Nina Santa" (The Holy Girl) will screen, as well as Chinese director Zhang Yimou's period film centered on dynastic intrigue, "House of Flying Daggers." Also from Cannes is legendary director Jean-Luc Godard's ethereal "Notre Musique," as well as mystery "Sud Pralad" (Tropical Malady) from Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Hong Sang-soo's love tale "Woman is the Future of Man" also rounds out the Cannes offerings in the festival along with American director Jonathan Caouette's autobio-pic, "Tarnation."
Another new program at this year's New York Film Festival will be a pair of special live discussions with Agnes Jaoui and U.K. director Mike Leigh, whose latest "Vera Drake," about a 1950s U.K. woman struggling with the issue of abortion, is also in the line-up. While acknowledging that the festival has always included filmmaker conversations at its event, Peña said during a chat with indieWIRE that, "This year, we decided to expand upon that notion with longer conversations with some of our artists." He noted that because of the mechanics of the opening night, which has traditionally been followed by a sumptuous party at Tavern on the Green following the screening, film attendees do not have an opportunity for dialogue with the director.
Todd Solondz's family drama "Palindromes" is among the U.S. fare at NYFF, along with David Gordon Green's Georgia-set drama "Undertow," which will premiere next month at the Toronto International Film Festival. Alexander Payne's Fox Searchlight release, "Sideways" will close the festival October 17th. The film stars Thomas Haden Church and Paul Giamatti as two friends exploring a Northern California wine region, where one finds love in a local bar.
"Already at Cannes, there was a general sense that the overall level of this year's crop of films was impressive," commented Peña when asked to sum up this year's line-up. "This feeling was only increased by what my colleagues and I were able to see from the Venice and Locarno lists. So, my cautious sense is that 2004 is a strong year for all of us."
NYFF has slated eight programs as "special screenings," including U.S. director Murray Lerner's "Miles Electric: A Different Kind of Blue," as well as Hong Kong duo Andrew Lau and Alan Mak's "Infernal Affairs Trilogy," and Ken Burns' "Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson."
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NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP
"Look At Me," directed by Agnès Jaoui (France)
"Bad Education," directed by Pedro Almodóvar (Spain)
"Sideways," directed by Alexander Payne (USA)
"The 10th District Court: Judicial Hearings," directed by Raymond Depardon (France)
"The Big Red One," directed by Samuel Fuller (USA) 1980 (Restored 2004)
"Cafe Lumiere," directed by Hou Hsou-Hsien (Japan/Taiwan)
"The Gate Of The Sun," directed by Yousry Nasrallah (France/Egypt)
"The Holy Girl," directed by Lucrecia Martel (Argentina)
"House Of Flying Daggers," directed by Zhang Yimou (China)
"In The Battlefields," directed by Danielle Arbid (Lebanon/France)
"Keane," directed by Lodge Kerrigan (USA)
"Kings And Queen," directed by Arnaud Desplechin (France)
"Moolade," directed by Ousmane Sembene (Senegal)
"Notre Musique," directed by Jean-Luc Godard (Switzerland/France)
"Or (My Treasure)," directed by Keren Yedaya (Israel)
"Palindromes," directed by Todd Solondz (USA)
"Rolling Family," directed by Pablo Trapero (Argentina)
"Saraband," directed by Ingmar Bergman (Sweden)
"Tarnation," directed by Jonathan Caouette (USA)
"Triple Agent," directed by Eric Rohmer (France)
"Tropical Malady," directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Thailand)
"Undertow," directed by David Gordon Green (USA)
"Vera Drake," directed by Mike Leigh (UK)
"Woman Is The Future Of Man," directed by Hong Sang-Soo (South Korea/France)
"The World," directed by Jia Zhangke (China)
SPECIAL SCREENINGS AND PROGRAMS
"Infernal Affairs Trilogy," Andrew Lau and Alan Mak (Hong Kong)
"Macunaima," Joaquim Pedro De Andrade (Brazil)
"Miles Electric: A Different Kind Of Blue," Murray Lerner (USA)
"Selling Democracy: Films Of The Marshall Plan," 1947-55
"Elegance, Passion, And Cold Hard Steel: A Tribute To Shaw Brothers Studios"
"Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise And Fall Of Jack Johnson," Ken Burns (USA)
"Views From The Avant-Garde"