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by Brian Brooks
August 12, 2008 8:11 AM
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NYFF '08 | Eastwood's "Changeling," Aronofsky's "Wrestler" Join French Heavy New York Film Festival

Evan Rachel Wood and Mickey Rourke in a scene from Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler." Image courtesy of Wild Bunch.

The full selections for the 46th New York Film Festival were unveiled today with Cannes 2008 titles featuring prominently in this year's event, taking place September 26 - October 12. The North American premiere of Clint Eastwood's "Changeling" will screen as the festival's Centerpiece, while Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler" will close out the festival, considered a major highlight of the New York film community's calendar year.

As previously announced, 2008 Palme d'Or winner "The Class" by Laurent Cantet will open this year's event. The film is one of four French titles and eight international co-productions represented in NYFF's main slate. Other French entries include Arnaud Desplechin's family drama "A Christmas Tale," which IFC Films picked up in Cannes this year, Agnes Jaoui's story of aspiring filmmakers following a rising female politician, "Let It Rain" and Olivier Assayas's introspection on time and mortality "Summer Hours."

In addition to "Changeling" and "The Wrestler," other American titles include Antonio Campos's "Afterschool," Kelly Reichardt's "Wendy and Lucy," and Alexander Olch's "The Windmill Movie." A group of prominent directors will be making their return to NYFF with new features, including Jia Zhangke ("24 City"), Wong Kar Wai ("Ashes of Time Redux"), and Mike Leigh ("Happy-Go-Lucky"). Steven Soderbergh also returns to the festival with "Che," a controversial, two-part biography starring Cannes '08 best actor winer, Benicio del Toro. Matteo Garrone's "Gomorrah" (Grand Prize), Steve McQueen's "Hunger" (Camera d'Or), Sergey Dvortsevoy's "Tulpan" (Un Certain Regard Prize) and Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Tokyo Sonata" (Jury Prize, Un Certain Regard) round out this year's roster of Cannes '08 winners screening at NYFF '08.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center's Program Director, Richard Pena reflected on the increasing number of French films today saying that the sheer size of its industry has increased during his tenure at the organization which produces the annual NYFF. "Certainly between French films themselves and the number of co-productions, France is putting out a lot more product," commented Pena to indieWIRE Tuesday afternoon. "Their productions have gone way up and they're active with many ohter countries such as 'Serbis' from the Philippines and 'The Headless Woman' from Argentina."

Continuing further, Pena said the writers' strike earlier this year did have some affect in making programming decisions for the festival. "I think the writers' strike did have some affect. We weren't able to view some films we were hoping to see because they were simply not ready..." Still, the U.S. has the second largest representation in the line up (after France) of this year's edition of the New York Film Festival.


NYFF '08 line up with descriptions provided by the Film Society of Lincoln Center:

Opening Night
"The Class" (Entre les murs)
Laurent Cantet, France, 2008; 128m
A tough, lively and altogether revelatory look inside a high school classroom, enacted by real teachers and students.

Centerpiece
"Changeling"
Clint Eastwood, USA, 2008; 140m
Angelina Jolie is a single mother whose troubles are just beginning when her son goes missing in Clint Eastwood's majestic fact-based period drama.

Closing Night
"The Wrestler"
Darren Aronofsky, USA, 2008; 109m
Mickey Rourke gives the performance of a lifetime in Darren Aronofsky's raw and raucous new movie.

"24 City" (Er shi si cheng ji)
Jia Zhangke, China/Hong Kong/Japan, 2008; 112m
The rise and fall of a Chinese factory town is chronicled in this film, straddling the border between fiction and documentary.

"Afterschool"
Antonio Campos, USA, 2008; 122m
When two students at a posh prep school accidentally overdose, a student filmmaker struggles to create an appropriate tribute for them.

"Ashes of Time Redux"
Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong, 2008; 93m
The final, definitive version of Wong Kar Wai's modernist take on the classic Chinese martial arts tale.

"Bullet in the Head" (Trio en la cabeza)
Jaime Rosales, Spain/France, 2008; 85m
A powerful, engrossing meditation on politics and the contemporary cult of surveillance.

Benicio Del Toro in a scene from Steven Soderbergh's "Che." Image courtesy of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

"Che"
Steven Soderbergh, France/Spain, 2008; 268m
Steven Soderbergh's two-part Spanish-language epic about Che Guevara's revolutionary military campaigns in Cuba and Bolivia features a brilliant lead performance by Benicio del Toro.

"Chouga" (Shuga)
Darezhan Omirbaev, France/Kazakhstan, 2007; 91m
A Kazakh, minimalist adaptation of Anna Karenina.

"A Christmas Tale" (Un conte de Noel)
Arnaud Desplechin, France, 2008; 150m
Arnaud Desplechin's grand banquet of a movie brims with life, as Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Devos and the other members of a marvelous ensemble cast come home for Christmas.

"Four Nights with Anna" (Cztery noce z Anna)
Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland/France, 2008; 87m
This visually mesmerizing tale of a shy man and his obsession with the woman across the way marks the triumphant return of Polish maestro Jerzy Skolimowski.

"Gomorrah" (Gomorra)
Matteo Garrone, Italy, 2008; 137m
A blistering version of Roberto Saviano's modern true crime classic about the modern-day Neapolitan mafia.

"Happy-Go-Lucky"
Mike Leigh, UK, 2008; 118m
An affectionate portrait of an unattached, 30-something London schoolteacher coming to terms with the fact that she's no longer young.

"The Headless Woman" (La mujer sin cabeza)
Lucrecia Martel, Argentina/France/Italy/Spain, 2008; 87m
Argentine filmmaker Lucrecia Martel's powerful third feature takes us into an altered perceptual state with a woman who hits something with her car.

"Hunger"
Steve McQueen, UK, 2008; 96m
British visual artist Steve McQueen's feature film debut is an uncompromising look at the hunger strike led by IRA prisoner Bobby Sands in 1974.

"I'm Going to Explode" (Voy a explotar)
Gerardo Naranjo, Mexico, 2008; 103m
Two Mexican teenagers go into hiding to see the reactions their disappearance will get from relatives and friends.

"Let It Rain" (Parlez-moi de la pluie)
Agnes Jaoui, France, 2008; 110m
A portrait of a rising feminist politician may be the ticket to fame and jobs for two aspiring filmmakers.

Retrospective

"Lola Montes"
Max Ophuls, France/West Germany, 1955; 115m
The life of the legendary courtesan and circus performer--lover of kings, knaves and Franz Liszt--is presented in its definitive, restored version.

"Night and Day" (Bam guan nat)
Hong Sang-soo, South Korea, 2008; 144m
When his life in Seoul becomes too complicated, an artist hightails it to Paris--but things don't get any easier.

"The Northern Land" (A Corte do Norte)
Joao Botelho, Portugal, 2008; 101m
A woman searches for the truth about her life in the stories of ancestors and the distant manor house they inhabited.

"Serbis"
Brillante Mendoza, Philippines/France, 2008; 90m
A family tries to quell the tensions tearing it apart while it struggles to keep the family business--a porn movie theater--afloat

Angelina Jolie in a scene from Clint Eastwood's "Changeling." Photo Credit: Tony Rivetti Jr. Copyright: © 2007 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.

"Summer Hours" (L'heure d'ete)
Olivier Assayas, France, 2008; 103m
Juliette Binoche is one of three siblings brought face-to-face with time and mortality by the sudden death of her mother in this moving new film from Olivier Assayas.

"Tokyo Sonata"
Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan/Netherlands, 2008; 85m
A Japanese family struggles to re-define itself after the father loses his corporate job.

"Tony Manero"
Pablo Larrain, Chile/Brazil, 2008; 98m
In the dark days of the Pinochet dictatorship, a John Travolta wannabe blazes a murderous trail through the back alleys of Chile.

"Tulpan"
Sergey Dvortsevoy, Germany/Kazakhstan/Poland/Russia/Switzerland, 2008; 100m
Winner of the Un Certain Regard Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Tulpan charts an aspiring herdsman's efforts to win the attention of his intended.

"Waltz with Bashir" (Vals in Bashir)
Ari Folman, Israel/Germany/France, 2008; 90m
Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman's haunting autobiographical memory piece about his experiences as a soldier during the 1982 war in Lebanon are given a hyper-real spin by state-of-the-art animation.

"Wendy and Lucy"
Kelly Reichardt, USA, 2008; 80m
In Kelly Reichardt's follow-up to her acclaimed Old Joy, Wendy (Michelle Williams) searches for her dog Lucy. The troubled spirit of modern America is beautifully evoked along the way.

"The Windmill Movie"
Alexander Olch, USA, 2008; 80m
Filmmaker Alexander Olch, using material left by the late filmmaker Richard Rogers for a never completed film autobiography, attempts to make sense of the life of his former teacher and friend.

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