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by Eugene Hernandez
July 19, 2006 5:00 AM
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North American Premiere of Frears' "The Queen" To Open 2006 New York Film Festival

Dame Helen Mirren as The Queen in Stephen Frears' new film of the same name. Photo credit: Laurie Sparham/Courtesy of Miramax Films

The 2006 New York Film Festival will open on September 29th with the North American premiere of Stephen Frears' latest, "The Queen." The Miramax film stars Helen Mirren in the lead role and is described as "an intimate, frankly revealing and often acidly funny portrait of the British royal family during the dramatic days after the death of Princess Diana." Frears, director of "High Fidelity," was last at the NYFF in 1993 with "The Snapper." The festival, organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, will run through October 15th.

"The film provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes look into the royal family's distanced and initially puzzling response to Princess Diana's death," said Miramax president Daniel Battsek, in a statement, adding "Helen Mirren gives a stunning performance leading an exceptional cast."

Joining Mirren, who plays Queen Elizabeth II in the movie, are James Cromwell as Prince Phillip, Michael Sheen as British prime minister Tony Blair and Sylvia Syms as the Queen Mother. The film was written by award-winner Peter Morgan and is produced by Andy Harries, Christine Langan and Tracey Seaward, and executive produced by Francois Ivernel, Cameron McCracken and Scott Rudin. Miramax will open the film in U.S. theaters in October.

"We're delighted to welcome Stephen Frears, Miramax Films and Scott Rudin back to the New York Film Festival, and to have 'The Queen' as our Opening Night," said Richard Pena, Chairman of the Festival's Selection Committee. "Frears and screenwriter Peter Morgan have fashioned an excitingly complex and colorful look at the machinations of political power in the media age."

The selections for the 44th New York Film Fstival, which will be announced in mid-August, are made by Pena; Kent Jones, editor-at-large for Film Comment and Associate Programmer of the Film Society of Lincoln Center; author and critic Phillip Lopate; John Powers, author and critic-at-large for NPR, the Village Voice, and the L.A. Weekly; and Lisa Schwarzbaum, film critic, Entertainment Weekly.

This year's NYFF retrospective will honor 50 Years of Janus Films, featuring more than 30 films, most screening in new prints.

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