By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire August 18, 2010 at 3:39AM
Frederick Wiseman, Martin Scorsese and Japanese master Masahiro Shinoda are among the new directors joining the lineup for the 48th edition of the New York Film Festival (NYFF), added to a roster that was announced earlier this week.
Most prominent among the additions are the Masterworks programs, Elegant Elegies: The Films of Masahiro Shinoda, and Fernando de Fuentes' Revolutionary trilogy. Shinoda, one of the key members of the Japanese New Wave film movement, is best known for juxtaposing traditional Japanese aesthetics with the modernity of cinema in his work. The Masterworks program will showcase 12 of his films, including "Pale Flower," "Double Suicide," and "The Ballad of Orin." All three of Fuentes' films featured in his Masterworks program are set during the first major revolution of the twentieth century, the Mexican Revolution, which took place from 1910 to 1918. Made in the 1930's, the trilogy deals with the intimate nature of conflict in times of upheaval. One of the films in Fuentes' trilogy, "Let's Go with Pancho Villa," is renowned for being Latin America's first production made in full collaboration with the Mexican government, back when they were trying to jump-start a national film industry. '
On top of the two programs, special screenings at this year's festival will include Andrei Ujica's acclaimed essay film "The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu," Scorsese's heartfelt homage to the late Elia Kazan, "A Letter to Elia & America," and the latest documentary from Wiseman, "Boxing Gym."
Filmmaker and film critic Oliver Assayas will be on hand to offer a personal guided tour of his favorite moments in cinema that influenced him, for a audience discussion titled 'The Cinema Inside Me,' that takes place October 3. Mike Leigh, whose "Another Year" is screening at the the festival, will also be present to explain the role London's neighborhoods play in his films, in the talk 'Mike Leigh: Shooting London,' slated for October 6.
"The Masterworks and Special Events at the New York Film Festival allow us to expand the offerings that have traditionally been part of the festival, such as retrospective screenings of older films, as well as to move into new areas of programming in preparation for the opening of the Elinor Bunin-Munroe Film Center in 2011," said Richard Peña, Selection Committee Chair & Program Director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center. "More than ever, there is truly something for everyone at the New York Film Festival."
- The full list of programs and additional films can be found on page two -
"A Letter to Elia & America"
Martin Scorsese & Kent Jones, 2010, USA; 60m
A Letter to Elia is a heartfelt declaration from one great American filmmaker to another, as Scorsese speaks candidly and passionately about one of his formative filmmaking influences: the late Elia Kazan. Utilizing precisely chosen clips from Kazan's signature films, and interview footage of the director himself, Scorsese and Jones recount the director's tumultuous journey from the Group Theatre to the Hollywood A-list to the thicket of the blacklist. But most of all, they make a powerful case for Kazan as a profoundly personal artist working in a famously impersonal industry.
Elia Kazan, 1963, USA; 174m
Based on the life of Kazan's own uncle, the director's favorite among his 19 feature films is the unforgettable story of an impoverished and oppressed Greek Turk determined to escape, by any means necessary, to the land of the free. His perilous journey across mountains and oceans, through arranged marriages and crafty swindlers, rivals that of an earlier Greek voyager, Odysseus, in its epic emotional sweep. Rarely screened and never released on DVD.
"Nuremberg" [The Schulberg/Waletzky Restoration]
Stuart Schulberg, 1948, USA; 78m
One of the greatest courtroom dramas in history, Nuremberg shows how the international prosecutors built their case against the top Nazi war criminals using the Nazis' own films and records. The trial established the "Nuremberg principles" - the foundation for all subsequent trials for crimes against the peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Though shown in Germany as part of the Allies' de-Nazification campaign, U.S. officials decided not to release Nuremberg in America for political reasons, nor was it shown in any other country. Over the years, the picture negative and sound elements were lost or destroyed. Sandra Schulberg and Josh Waletzky's restoration uses original audio from the trial, allowing you to hear the defendants' and prosecutors' voices for the first time. The film ends with Justice Robert H. Jackson's stirring words - "Let Nuremberg stand as a warning to all who plan and wage aggressive war" - words which leap the decades and make Nuremberg startlingly contemporary.
A panel discussion will follow the screening, featuring the following participants:
Benjamin Ferencz, chief prosecutor, Nuremberg trial of the Nazi Einsatzgruppen; first head of Claims Conference for Jewish restitution; advocate of the International Criminal Court; Aryeh Neier, human rights advocate; President, Open Society Institute; former director of ACLU and Human Rights Watch; Emilio DiPalma, one of the courtroom guards seen in the film; author of memoir Just a Kid: A Guard at the Nuremberg Trials; Sandra Schulberg, creator (with Josh Waletzky) of the restoration; daughter of the film's writer/director Stuart Schulberg.
The Cinema Inside Me: Olivier Assayas (presented at Alice Tully Hall on Oct. 3)
Filmmaker turned film critic (at Cahiers du cinema) turned filmmaker, Olivier Assayas (Carlos) has become over the past two decades one of the most respected filmmakers working anywhere today. His critical writing on cinema was crucial for introducing the new Asian cinema into France, and he continues to maintain a strong interest in the avant-garde and experimental films. In conversation with NYFF Selection Committee Chairman Richard Peña, Mr. Assayas will offer a personal guided tour of some key moments in his own history of cinema-showing sequences from films and by filmmakers who powerfully influenced his thoughts on cinema as well as his filmmaking practice.
Views from the Avant-Garde
Curated by Mark McElhatten and Gavin Smith.
For its 14th year, Views offers an expanded edition, presenting four nights of New York and world premieres from the frontiers of innovative moving image making. Highlights include Robert Beavers's The Suppliant, James Benning's Ruhr, Nathaniel Dorsky's Pastourelle, a restoration of Manoel de Oliveira's Rite of Spring, and Phil Solomon's three-screen American Falls. Also expect new work by Thom Andersen, Ute Aurand, Stephanie Barber, Mati Diop, David Gatten, Janie Geiser, Lewis Klahr, Dani Leventhal, Jeanne Liotta, Matt McCormick, Tomonari Nishikawa, Michael Robinson, Fern Silva, Deborah Stratman, Peter Tscherkassky and many others, plus nightly special Furman Gallery projection performances by Paul Clipson and Bruce McClure.
Frederick Wiseman, 2010, USA; 91m
Master documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman returns to the Festival with his terrific 38th feature. Taking as his subject Lord's Boxing Gym in Austin, Texas, Wiseman observes men, women, and children as they train and interact in a lively and diverse environment. The irresistible portrait is marked by Wiseman's sensitive eye and adroit editing, and recalls his past meditations on bodies in motion (Ballet, La Danse) and on violence, people at play, and America in microcosm. Followed by a conversation and Q&A with Frederick Wiseman.
Mike Leigh: Shooting London
Acclaimed director Mike Leigh-at the NYFF with his newest film Another Year-is a quintessential chronicler and interpreter of London (past and present). London is the city he lives and works in, and a "character" all its own in the Leigh universe. Leigh will discuss the importance of London neighborhoods and sites in his films, and their integration into his films' themes. Moderated by Adrian Wootton, CEO of Film London and interspersed with a selection of film clips.
Biographical and Beyond: An Evening with David Thomson, Featuring Birth
Praised as the finest reference book ever written about movies, David Thomson's The New Biographical Dictionary of Film is its author's idiosyncratic, indispensible, and deeply addictive indexing of the key players in the history of moving pictures, from Abbott and Costello to Catherine Zeta-Jones. On the eve of the publication of the revised and expanded Fifth Edition, we have invited Thomson (himself a former member of the NYFF selection committee) to discuss his work, his writing process, and to present a film of his choosing. His selection is Birth (2004), director Jonathan Glazer's metaphysical thriller starring Nicole Kidman as a woman who becomes convinced that a 10-year-old boy is the reincarnation of her late husband. Thomson has hailed the film as a neglected masterpiece. Post-screening discussion with David Thomson and Film Society Associate Program Director Scott Foundas, followed by book-signing in the Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery.
"Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff"
Craig McCall, 2010, UK; 86m
As wonderfully informative as it is delightfully entertaining, Cameraman traces the eight-decade career of cinematographer Jack Cardiff. A child actor who found his true calling on the other side of the camera, Cardiff was the first European to be trained in shooting Technicolor; a few years later, Michael Powell promoted the ace cameraman to full-scale cinematographer for A Matter of Life and Death. Soon, cinematic history would be made: together, Powell and Cardiff set the standard for the creative use of color in classics such as The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus. Craig McCall traces the development of Cardiff's art on both sides of the Atlantic, detailing his constant interaction with the painters and paintings he admired while offering a treasure lode of Cardiff anecdotes about Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles, Marilyn Monroe and a host of other legends. A Strand release.
"A Matter of Life and Death"
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, 1946, UK; 104m
In Cardiff's pioneering collaboration with Powell, a dashing young WWII airman (David Niven) chats up, then bares his soul to a beautiful radio operator (Kim Hunter) even as his planes dives to earth. It's not quite clear where precisely Niven comes down, because the movie takes a turn from Technicolor wartime melodrama into a meditation on the worth of a life and the righteousness of a death, as they're weighed in a chilly, monochrome Heaven and in an operating room where surgeons work to save Niven's damaged brain. No comfy allegory here; Powell's gem is made of harder-and more valuable-stuff. With Raymond Massey, Roger Livesey, Robert Coote, Marius Goring, and Richard Attenborough.
"The Autobiography of Nikolae Ceaucescu"
Andrei Ujică, 2010, Romania; 180m
An astonishing work of the sociopolitical imagination, Andrei Ujică's audacious essay film imagines the life of the controversial Romanian President as he himself might have recalled it on the eve of his 1989 execution. Working from a treasure trove of pristine archival footage (of official communist-era newsreels), enhanced by an ingenious sound design, Ujică spins a riveting first-person narrative that traces its subject's rapid rise through the political ranks, his efforts to unify the Communist East, and even his goodwill tour of the Americas-with little matters like the millions of ordinary Romanians denied basic human services consigned to Ceausescu's subconscious (and Ujică's cutting room floor). The pièce de résistance: a North Korean welcome ceremony that ranks with Busby Berkley at his most kaleidoscopic.
Joe Dante, 2009, USA; 92m
Like his Gremlins, Explorers and Small Soldiers, director Joe Dante's latest frightmare-and his first in 3D-takes place in one of those placid, Midwestern anytowns that, in the sci-fi classics of the 1950s, regularly played host to intergalactic blobs, body snatchers and other strange invaders. Here, the aberrations come from below rather than above-specifically, from a boarded-up pit in the basement of an ordinary suburban home, which gets reopened when a single mother and her two curious sons move in. Like a Freudian Pandora's box, the hole gives rise to the deepest fears of those who peer into it, from the purely abstract to the terrifyingly physical. All of which is mere prelude for our eventual plunge down the hole itself, which Dante turns into an ingenious, Caligarian funhouse of long shadows, exaggerated perspectives and things that go bump in the night (all, it should be noted, accomplished on a fraction of usual Hollywood budget). Winner of the Venice Film Festival's inaugural Persol 3D award.
the Spanish-Language version, accompanied by Gary Lucas
The fascinating and more "full-blooded" 1931 Spanish-language version of the classic tale is freshly accompanied by an eerie live solo guitar performance by guitarist, composer, and Grammy-nominated songwriter Gary Lucas. Directed by George Melford, the movie was filmed at night in Hollywood on the same sets as the Bela Lugosi Dracula with a Spanish-speaking cast. Lucas's score has received great critical acclaim and, together with the immortal blood-sucker, promises to make for an unforgettable night.
The Marvelous World of Segundo de Chomón
Known as the "Spanish Méliès," Segundo de Chomón was a major film pioneer whose inventive special effects and optical processes influenced the cinema for years to come, and can be found in many silent classics, from Pastrone's Cabiria to Gance's Napoleon-not to mention his own extraordinary works. Through the generosity of the Filmoteca de Catalunya in Barcelona, we're delighted to present a sampler of de Chomón's great achievements, including masterworks such as The Electric Hotel, The Witch's Cave, and The King of Dollars, with piano accompaniment by Makia Matsumura. Film scholar Tom Gunning will be on hand to discuss the importance of de Chomón's work.
Verena Paravel & J.P. Sniadecki, 2010, USA; 80m
Tucked between the new Citifield baseball stadium and the Van Wyck overpass lie a ramshackle collection of auto-body repair shops and other small businesses, staffed by an extraordinarily multicultural cast of characters. But New York City has other plans: the area has been targeted for development, complete with apartments, malls, and parks, and this commercial shantytown may soon be a memory. Filmmakers Verena Paravel and J.P. Sniadecki have created a revealing and tender portrait of Willets Point, Queens,that captures the many roads the American dream has taken. Best First Feature, Locarno Film Festival