The New York Film Festival returns for a 43rd edition this fall offering a program of 24 features on its roster, in addition to a number of special screenings. After opening with the previously announced "Good Night, And Good Luck" by George Clooney, the festival will continue through October 9, 2005 when it will close with Michael Haneke's "Cache" (Hidden), a hit at this year's Cannes Film Festival where it was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. Neil Jordan's "Breakfast on Pluto", starring Cillian Murphy as an Irish transvestite who moves to London in search of a lost parent (also from Sony Classics) is this year's Centerpiece screening at the NYFF.
On the list for 2005 are a trip of titles from South Korea, including the latest from Im Sang-Soo ("The President's Last Bang"), Park Chan-Wook ("Sympathy For Lady Vengeance") and Hong Sang-Soo ("A Tale Of Cinema"). The films mark the continuing strength of films from that country, explained Richard Peña in an email conversation with indieWIRE Wednesday.
"Certainly we were all pleased to be able to present three South Korean films in the NYFF this year," said Peña, the Festival's committee chairman and Film Society Program director. "The emergence of South Korea as a major filmmaking venue has been apparent for at least a decade now, and this year for me it was as if that national cinema has reached an even more impressive level of achievement, with three films that are enormously different from each other yet each brilliantly realized."
Peña also emphasized the significance of work from Eastern Europe. "We were also pleased to see what seems to us like a re-emergence of Eastern Europe at the NYFF, with wonderful new films from Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic." Among the entries include Cristi Puiu's "The Death of Mr. Lawrence (Romania), Dorota Kedzierzawska's "I Am" (Poland), and Bohdan Slama's "Something Like Happiness (Czech Republic).
Other members of the 2005 New York Film Festival selection committee included Kent Jones, Film Comment magazine editor-at-large and Film Society associate program director; author and critic Phillip Lopate; John Powers, critic-at-large from NPR, Village Voice, and L.A. Weekly; and Lisa Schwarzbaum, film critic for "Entertainment Weekly".
Among the special programs on tap for this year's festival are a number of live discussions, including a panel entitled "Speaking Truth to Power: Media, Politics, and Government," pegged to the opening night screening of Clooney's "Good Night, And Good Luck" about newsman Edward R. Murrow's battles against Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s. Brian Lehrer, Don Hewitt, Helen Thomas are already booked to discuss the topic. Also on tap is the HBO Directors' Dialogues, with Neil Jordan already booked, and a Film Comment Focus program with actor Steve Coogan.
"What's that old Bob Dylan line?" offered Peña, when asked about what seem to be an increasing number of special events at the annual New York Film Festival "'He not busy being born is busy dying'. Like any cultural organization, or maybe just any organization, we're constantly assessing what we do right and what we could do better."
Peña noted that the perceived changes in the festival havecome about to address needs in the program. "The NYFF is ahigh-profile time for the Film Society, so we try to usethat media attention to highlight something we'd especiallylike to highlight, such as our tribute to Shochiku thisyear," Peña added, referring to a 44-film retrospectiveof the work of Japan's noted studio.
The annual New York Film Festival, at times regarded as stodgy or old school, remains a highly curated event showcasing a small number of movies with evening screenings. It's a formula that runs counter to the many festivals vying for audiences and industry, especially in the busy fall season. When asked yesterday to share his sense of the state of film festivals today, and whether the role of the festival itself has changed, Peña noted, "The state of film festivals seems somewhat precarious. At their best, festivals should be crossroads, where critics, scholars, filmmakers, distributors and the general public can meet to get a sense of what's happening in the medium. too often I feel that festivals in general are becoming worlds unto themselves, with little connection to anything else. I think that's not a good trend."
Continuing he offered, "The role of festivals has indeed changed, because the market has become that much more competitive, with far more releases than ever before, so to get a slot in what are considered the key festivals is even more important for a foreign language or independent film." And he concluded in the email conversation with indieWIRE, "There's also the fact that in many places festivals are the only way that communities will ever get to see many of the these films, as the 'art cinema' presence has dwindled so much in recent years."
2005 New York Film Festival Lineup:
"Good Night, And Good Luck", directed by George Clooney, USA (Warner Independent Pictures)
"Breakfast On Pluto", directed by Neil Jordan, USA (Sony Pictures Classics)
"Cache" (Hidden), directed by Michael Haneke, France (Sony Pictures Classics)
"Avenge But One Of My Two Eyes", directed by Avi Mograbi, Israel/France
"Bubble", directed by Steven Soderbergh, USA (Magnolia Pictures)
"Capote," directed by Bennett Miller, USA (Sony Pictures Classics)
"The Death Of Mr. Lazarescu", directed by Cristi Puiu, Romania (Tartan Films.)
"L'enfant" (The Child), directed by Jean-Pierre And Luc Dardenne, Belgium/France (Sony Pictures Classics)
"Gabrielle," directed by Patrice Chereau, France
"I Am," directed by Dorota Kedzierzawska, Poland
"Manderlay", directed by Lars Von Trier, Denmark/Sweden/France (IFC Films)
"Methadonia", directed by Michel Negroponte, USA (HBO Documentary Films)
"Paradise Now", directed by Hany Abu-Assad, Netherlands/German/France (Warner Independent Pictures)
"The President's Last Bang", directed by Im Sang-Soo, South Korea (Kino International)
"Regular Lovers", directed by Philippe Garrel, France
"Something Like Happiness", directed by Bohdan Slama, Czech Republic
"The Squid And The Whale", directed by Noah Baumbach, USA (Samuel Goldwyn Films / Sony Pictures Entertainment)
"The Sun," directed by Aleksandr Sokurov, Russia/Italy/France/Switzerland
"Sympathy For Lady Vengeance", directed by Park Chan-Wook, South Korea (Tartan Films)
"A Tale Of Cinema," directed by Hong Sang-Soo, South Korea/France
"Three Times," directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Taiwan
"Through The Forest", directed by Jean-Paul Civeyrac, France
"Tristram Shandy: A Cock And Bull Story", directed by Michael Winterbottom, UK (Picturehouse Films)
"Who's Camus Anyway?", directed by Mitsuo Yanagimachi (Japan)
"The Beauty Of The Everyday: Japan's Shochiku Company At110"
A 44-Film Retrospective Spanning The Seminal Japanese Studio's Storied History.
"Beyond The Rocks," directed by Sam Wood, USA (Milestone Films) "Greeneland". Illustrated Lecture with Clips, by Adrian Wooten On Cinematic Work Of Graham Greene.
"Haze," directed by Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan. Midnite Screening.
"Nezumi Kozo," directed by Noda Hideki, Japan. DLP Cinema Hi-Def Presentation, With Performer Nakamura Kankuko In Attendance. A Shochiku Retrospective Special Event.
"The Passenger," directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, Italy/USA/France. New Print Of Antonioni's Preferred Cut. (Sony Pictures Classics)
Views From The Avant-Garde. Experimental Works By Various Filmmakers.