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Docs and Cannes Winners Lead Lineup for 2003 New York Film Festival

Docs and Cannes Winners Lead Lineup for 2003 New York Film Festival

Docs and Cannes Winners Lead Lineup for 2003 New York Film Festival

by Brian Brooks

Benicio Del Toro (pictured) co-stars with Sean Penn and Naomi Watts in “21 Grams,” the new film from Alejandro González Iñárritu. Image courtesy Focus Features.

In New York City, with the infamous blackout of 2003 behind us, film aficionados and the movie industry are looking ahead at the upcoming New York Film Festival which has announced the slate for the 41st annual fest.

Clint Eastwood’s Cannes 2003 competition feature, “Mystic River,” will open the 2003 New York Film Festival on October 3rd, ushering in one of Gotham’s most anticipated annual film events. The movie, based on Dennis Lehane’s best-selling novel, is about three working-class friends in a Boston neighborhood who deal with several acts of violence over the years. Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential”) adapted the book for the screen. “Mystic” stars Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laurence Fishburne, Marcia Gay Harden, and Laura Linney and will open theatrically from Warner Brothers on October 10th.

Closing the 17-day event, which runs through October 19th, is Focus Features’ “21 Grams.” The highly anticipated feature from “Amores Perros” director Alejandro González Iñárritu, stars Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro, three-time Academy Award nominee Sean Penn, and award-winning actress Naomi Watts. The actors portray a trio at the heart of the film, which was written by Guillermo Arriaga, who also penned “Perros.”

The selection of films for the 41st New York Film Festival was made by a committee comprised of chair and program director Richard Pena, film critic John Anderson, Film Society programmer Kent Jones, New York Times columnist Dave Kehr, and Library of America editor-in-chief Geoffrey O’Brien. Last week’s blackout, which continued into Friday in NYC, forced the cancellation of a previously scheduled interview with Pena about this year’s program.

Errol Morris’ doc “The Fog of War” will receive a centerpiece spotlight at the festival, which continues through October 19th. The festival includes a notable number of docs including Ross McElwee’s Cannes 2003 film on tobacco, “Bright Leaves,” and George Hickenlooper’s look at legendary L.A. disc jockey Rodney Bingenheimer in “Mayor of Sunset Strip,” which screened at the 2003 IFP Los Angeles Film Festival and will be featured in the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival. Other docs set to screen at NYFF include Rithy Panh’s Cannes 2003 film, “The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine” from First Run Features and “Stalingrad” by Sebastian Dehnhardt, screening as a special event. The film is a three-part film on WWII’s Battle of Stalingrad, which marked the turning point in the war, and includes 8mm footage taken by soldiers during the bloody seige. Also screening as a special event is Jeff Stein’s 1979 doc on rock group The Who, “The Kids Are Alright.”

Cannes winners once again form a large part of the main program including Denys Arcand’s “The Barbarian Invasions.” The feature received a best actress award during Cannes for Marie-Josee Croze as well as a best screenplay prize for Arcand. Fellow Cannes winner “Crimson Gold” by Iranian Jafar Panahi is also in the lineup. The drama, which will be released by Wellspring, won the Un Certain Regard Jury Award. Also featured is Critics Week Grand Prize winner “Since Otar Left” by Julie Bertuccelli. And, New Yorker Films’ “Distant” by Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan (winner of the Grand Prix in Cannes) will screen as well as Dogme 95 guru Lars von Trier’s anticipated Cannes competition film “Dogville” starring Nicole Kidman. Also screening is 2003 Palme d’Or winner, “Elephant” by Gus van Sant which will be released by HBO Films/FineLine Features.

Sean Penn in Clint Eastwood’s “Mystic River,” which will open the New York Film Festival. Courtesy: The Film Society of Lincoln Center.

From France is Claude Chabrol’s “The Flower of Evil.” The Palm Pictures drama screened during the 2003 Berlinale. Also in the lineup is Johnnie To’s Hong Kong feature “PTU,” which took the Seattle International Film Festival’s Asian Trade Winds award, and French/Moroccan production “Raja” by Jacques Doillon, which will vie for a Golden Lion in the upcoming Venice Film Festival. Scottish film “Young Adam” by David Mackenzie is also slated. The movie, starring Ewan McGregor, recently opened the Edinburgh Film Festival.

Additional features slated for the fest include Marco Bellocchio’s “Good Morning Night” (Italy); “Goodbye Dragon Inn” by Tsai Ming-liang (Taiwan); Lester James Peries’ “Mansion by the Lake” (Sri Lanka); “Pornography” by Jan Jakub Kolski (Poland); and Faouzi Bensaidi’s “A Thousand Months.”

Other films screening as special events include the recent Miramax acquisition “The Best of Youth” by Italian Marco Tullio Giordana. The festival is screening all 366 minutes of the film. Also slated in special events is Ewald Andre Dumon’t 1929 nightclub melodrama “Piccadilly” with live musical accompaniment as well as a celebration of the work of Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu. Finally, NYFF will also feature its “Views from the Avant-Garde” and a selection of short films, with details still pending.

COMPLETE LINEUP (information provided by Film Society of Lincoln Center)

Opening Night: “Mystic River,” directed by Clint Eastwood, USA, 2003, 137m. Warner Brothers.

Centerpiece: “The Fog Of War,” directed by Errol Morris, USA, 2003, 95m. Sony Pictures Classics

Closing Night: “21 Grams,” directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, USA, 2003,125m. Focus Features

“The Barbarian Invasions,” directed by Denys Arcand, Canada, 2003, 95m Miramax Films

“Bright Leaves,” directed by Ross McElwee, USA, 2003, 107m

“Crimson Gold,” directed by Jafar Panahi, Iran, 2003, 97m. Wellspring Media

“Distant,” directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey, 2003, 110m. New Yorker Films

“Dogville,” directed by Lars von Trier, Denmark, 2003, 177m. Lions Gate Films

“Elephant,” directed by Gus van Sant, USA, 2003, 81m. HBO Films/Fine Line Features

“The Flower of Evil,” directed by Claude Chabrol, France, 2003, 104m. Palm Pictures

“Free Radicals,” directed by Barbara Albert, Austria, 2003, 120m

“Good Morning, Night,” directed by Marco Bellocchio, Italy, 2003, 100m

“Goodbye Dragon Inn,” directed by Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan, 2003, 80m

“Mansion By The Lake,” directed by Lester James Peries, Sri Lanka, 2003, 116m

“Mayor of Sunsest Strip,” directed by George Hickenlooper, USA, 2003, 94m First Look Media/Overseas Film Group

“Pornography,” directed by Jan Jakub Kolski, Poland, 2003, 117m

“PTU,” directed by Johnnie To, Hong Kong, 2003, 85m

“Raja, directed by Jacques Doillon,” France/Morocco, 2003, 112m

“S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine,” directed by Rithy Panh, Cambodia/France, 2003, 101m. First Run Features

“Since Otar Left,” directed by Julie Bertuccelli, France, 2003, 102m

“A Thousand Months,” directed by Faouzi Bensaidi, Morocco/France, 2003, 124m

“Young Adam,” directed by David Mackenzie, Scotland, 2003, 93m

Special Events:

“The Kids Are Alright,” Jeff Stein, UK, 1979, 109m. Pioneer Home Entertainment/New Concorde. Walter Reade Theater

“The Best of Youth,” Marco Tullio Giordana, Italy, 2003, 366m. Miramax Films. Walter Reade Theater

“Piccadilly,” Ewald André Dumont, UK, 1929, 109m, b&w with live musical accompaniment. Milestone Film/British Film Institute. Alice Tully Hall

“Stalingrad,” Sebastian Dehnhardt, Germany, 2003, 156 min.

Yasujiro Ozu: A Centenary Celebration.

Views from the Avant-Garde. Experimental works by various filmmakers.

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