Now that the line-up for the 2009 Newport International Film Festival has been announced, I can take a quick moment to post some thoughts on this year’s festival, which we’ve had a lot of fun assembling. We have a ton of filmmakers coming, lots of industry guests have decided to make the trip and I think it’s going to be a great time. One of the most exciting programs at this year’s festival is our Archival Gotham: NYC On Film program, which was curated by Anne Morra, Josh Siegel and Katie Trainor of the Museum Of Modern Art’s To Save and Project Festival. The program features some amazing films, and we’re showing all of them on beautiful 35mm prints provided by MoMA.
This was a really great opportunity for the festival to get serious about film preservation as well; As one of America’s oldest communities (and, I’ve been told, one that features more historic buildings per square mile than any other city in the country), it was my goal coming into the festival to bring the history of the city together with the history of cinema and to do something significant. So, in addition to giving these films a proper 35mm screening in the historic Jane Pickens Theater, we’re also re-launching the festival’s Claiborne Pell Award, which will now feature an annual $10,000 contribution to MOMA Film on behalf of our honoree for the purposes of film preservation and in support of the film archive. The late Senator Pell was a huge champion of the arts, having sponsored the bill in the Senate that created the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and this award will reflect the significant contribution of a film artist to our shared cinematic history.
So, in addition to the great new films that are featured in the festival’s line-up, we’ve got a lot of gorgeous, classic films to share as well. The program is below; please come out and support the festival and take the opportunity to see these great films, projected on the big screen, in a beautiful old movie house. It’s going to be magic.
Archival Gotham: NYC on Film
East Side, West Side
USA (1927) 90 Min, Silent
Saturday, June 6th 12:15 PM
While films from the 1920’s are primarily known for their extensive use of sound stages, sets and theatrical cinematography, Allan Dwan’s East Side, West Side is a marvelous example of how location shooting can be transformative. Shot throughout New York City, from the harbors and waterfronts to the Lower East Side and the Brooklyn Bridge,East Side, West Side showcases the city in the 1920’s like no other film can. Dwan’s work is also notable for his use of some amazing set pieces; a collapsing subway construction site and the sinking of an ocean liner showcase state of the art effects from the silent film era. Preserved with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Film Foundation.
This screening features live piano accompaniment by Joe Parillo. Joe has played nationally and internationally with the Glenn Miller Orchestra as well as with his trio and in solo performances and master classes. He holds a master’s degree in composition from New England Conservatory, has written and arranged music for theater and film. He is the head of the jazz department at URI.
USA (1953) 80 Min, English
Sunday, June 7th 12:00 PM
A groundbreaking work of American cinematic naturalism, Ray Ashley, Morris Engle and Ruth Orkin’s Little Fugitive is the story of Joey Norton (Richie Andrusco), a little boy who is tricked into believing he has killed his older brother. Joey hops the subway and flees to Coney Island, where he spends a couple of days enamored with the carnival as his brother desperately searches for him. Using non-professional actors and a vibrant 1950’s era Coney Island to tremendous effect, Little Fugitive had a profound influence on later films, particularly François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows, but the film stands alone in its depiction of Eisenhower-era Brooklyn, a combination of rough and tumble and apple pie that is sure to enchant audiences.
On The Waterfront
USA (1954) 108 Min, English
Wednesday, June 3rd 12:00 PM
Elia Kazan’s On The Waterfront is a cinematic masterpiece, a union of great direction, brilliant acting and powerful writing that remains a seminal work for film lovers everywhere. Marlon Brando plays Terry Malloy, a tough and tender longshoreman haunted by the end of his career as a prizefighter. After he unwittingly participates in a murder, Terry decides he can’t harbor the corruption that surrounds him and decides to take a stand against the corrupt union bosses that have used him for their own nefarious purposes. On The Waterfront remains the film that, alongside Kazan and Brando’s other great collaboration on A Streetcar Named Desire, changed movie acting forever. An essential film that truly stands the test of time, featuring what might be Brando’s greatest performance.
USA (1971) 88 Min, English
Friday, June 5th 12:30 PM
Ever wonder what goes on in the projection booth at your favorite movie theater? In Harry Hurwitz’s shaggy, hilarious The Projectionist, the secrets of the local movie theater are laid bare. A slovenly,
mild-mannered film projectionist (Chuck McCann) spends long hours showing movies under the iron fist of his sinister boss Renaldi (Rodney Dangerfield, in his screen debut), but that doesn’t keep him from dreaming of a better life; While watching the film reels spin, the projectionist dreams of adventure and romance as Captain Flash, his heroic alter ego. A loving homage to a life spent at the movies, The Projectionist is also a compassionate and moving portrait of our collective dreams, where each of us is a star writ-large on the big screen of life.
USA (1976) 113 Min, English
Saturday, June 6th 10:00 PM
Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver remains one of the most revered and controversial films of the twentieth century. Travis Bickle (Robert DeNiro, in the role that made him an international star) is a returning Vietnam veteran who works the late shift driving a cab through the seedy streets of 1970’s New York. When his affections for a beautiful campaign worker are rebuffed, Travis imagines himself the protector of a streetwise teenage prostitute named Iris (Jodie Foster) and vows revenge on the corruption he sees around him. Full of gritty neon, flaring streetlights and the decadent parade of Times Square, Scorsese captures a Travis’ vision of New York City as an urban hell with scorching detail, a nightmarish landscape that has come to define the city of the turbulent 70’s.
Thursday, June 4th 12:30 PM,
The Film Archive of the Museum of Modern Art and the Newport International Film Festival present four of the MoMA Film Archives most memorable short films, exhibited in restored archival prints.
The Hearts of Age
USA (1934) 8 Min
The Hearts of Age is the first ever Orson Welles film, directed by a 19-year old Welles and college friend William Vance while the two were still at school.
Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor
USA (1936) 17 Min
The unforgettable technicolor animated tale of the iconic seafaring rivals, and their battle to be “the most remarkable, extraordinary fella.” Produced by NYC’s Fleischer Studios.
USA (1939) 44 Min
The City is a seminal American documentary contrasting the industrialization of the US with the idyllic conditions of small town life, set to an Aaron Copeland score.
The Tender Game
USA (1958) 6 Min
Colorful characters look for love in a dreamlike cityscape in this short piece by legendary animator John Hubley, set to an Ella Fitzgerald song.
Also, as a FREE outdoor screening in the park on Friday, June 5, 2009 at 8:00 PM…
India/France, (1951) 99 Min
Director Jean Renoir’s entrancing first color feature—shot entirely on location in India—is a visual tour de force. Based on the novel by Rumer Godden, the film eloquently contrasts the growing pains of three young women with the immutability of the holy Bengal River, around which their daily lives unfold. Enriched by Renoir’s subtle understanding and appreciation for India and its people, The River gracefully explores the fragile connections between transitory emotions and everlasting creation.