NYFF To Spotlight New Jaoui, Almodovar, & Payne Features
by Brian Brooks
Autumn may still seem like a while off, but some details of the 42nd-annual New York Film Festival were announced Friday by the chairman of the festival's selection committee, Richard Pena. Agnes Jaoui's "Comme une Image" (Look at Me) will open NYFF on October 1, an event considered a highlight of the New York social calendar. The film, Jaoui's second feature, is described by the festival as "a smart, elegant drama about tense relationships among a group of Parisians struggling with various insecurities." "Comme" stars Jen-Pierre Bacri, who co-wrote the screenplay, and Virginie Desarnauts. Bacri and Jaoui won the screenplay award at Cannes 2004 for "Look at Me." Jaoui's debut effort, "The Taste of Others" screened during the 2002 New York Film Festival. Sony Pictures Classics will release the film in the U.S. in February 2005.
"With 'Look at Me,' Agnes Jaoui leaps into the first rank of contemporary European directors," commented Pena in a festival statement. "Funny, perceptive, and moving, 'Look at Me' is an engaging portrait of self-love, self-image, and self-promotion at the dawn of the millennium. We're proud to open the 2004 New York Film Festival with this terrific new film and to welcome actress/writer/director Agnes Jaoui as our guest of honor."
Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's 14th feature, "Mala Educacion" (Bad Education), which opened the Festival de Cannes in May, will have its North American debut as NYFF's centerpiece film. Many of Almodovar's previous works have had their North American debuts at the NYFF. The gay-themed melodrama stars Gael Garcia Bernal and Fele Martinez as two school friends -- one a successful film director, the other a struggling writer -- reunited in the 1980s. The two use the memories of their Catholic school upbringing for a film project, but the project itself becomes something of a mystery thriller. Sony Classics will also release this film in the U.S. on November 19.
Alexander Payne's "Sideways" will close the festival on October 17. Thomas Haden Church (TV's "Wings) and Paul Giamatti ("American Splendor") star as two friends exploring a Northern California wine region on a trip prior to the pending marriage of Jack (played by Church). Meanwhile, the more introverted Miles (Giamatti) becomes intrigued by a local bar employee (Virginia Madsen) as his friend sows some remaining wild oats. NYFF characterizes the feature as "a richly detailed portrait of lost time and second chances, not to mention an ode to the glories of Pinot Noir." Fox Searchlight will open the film on October 20.
The New York Film Festival, presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, is held at Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, and the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center.