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Film Society Fetes NYFF’s Upcoming 50th with Retrospective

Film Society Fetes NYFF's Upcoming 50th with Retrospective

The Film Society of Lincoln Center is hailing the pending 50th anniversary of its New York Film Festival in 2012 with a series of classics of the big screen, many introduced at NYFF.

With the current lineup continuing through February, FSLC has been delighting the devoted with a film from each year of the festival, bringing to the screen some of cinema’s rarest holy grails, like Jacques Rivette’s four-plus-hour “L’Amour Fou” and Gleb Panfilov’s “The Debut.” Highlights of the retrospective’s January-February line-up include two of Jonathan Demme’s earlier films as well as the classic children’s film “The Black Stallion” and Andrzej Wajda’s controversial “Man of Iron.”

The schedule of screenings set for the rest of the series in 2012 will be announced at a later date.

Full film schedule follows with descriptions and credits provided by the Film Society of Lincoln Center:

Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Angst Essen Seelen Auf) (1974) 93m

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder; Country: Germany; Representing NYFF 1974

In the 1970s, the New York Film Festival became a major port of call for the filmmakers of the burgeoning New German Cinema, introducing American audiences to the work of Werner Herzog, Wim Wenders, Alexander Kluge and, of course, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, the staggeringly prolific enfant terrible who presented new films at all but three editions of the festival from 1971 to 1982 (the year of his untimely death). Shot quickly and on a low budget at the peak of Fassbinder’s creative powers, ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL uses the basic framework of Douglas Sirk’s classic melodrama ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (later the inspiration for Todd Haynes’s FAR FROM HEAVEN) to tell the unlikely love story of Ali, a thirty-something Moroccan immigrant working as a garage mechanic, and Emmi, a German widow old enough to be his mother. When they marry, their relationship is put to the test by prejudice and discrimination from friends and family on both sides (including Fassbinder himself as Emmi’s son-in-law). Beautifully acted by Fassbinder muses Brigitte Mira and El Hedi ben Salem, this wry and tender romance-cum-social-commentary stands as one of the director’s most accomplished and enduringly popular films.

ALI: FEAR EATS THE SOUL screens at Walter Reade Theater on Friday, January 13 at 6:00PM.

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle) (1974) 110m

Director: Werner Herzog; Country: Germany; Representing NYFF 1975

The inimitable Werner Herzog made the fourth of his eight NYFF appearances with this strange and haunting drama inspired by the case of Kaspar Hauser, a real-life “wild child” who appeared as a teenager in the streets of Nuremberg claiming to have been raised since infancy in a small dark cell, divorced from all contact with the outside world. Sparking the curiosity of a compassionate schoolmaster, who attempts to civilize this strange creature, Kaspar soon becomes a cause célèbre of the local clergy, academy and high-society elites, before meeting an end as abrupt and mysterious as his beginnings. Built around a hypnotic central performance by the late Bruno S., a street performer who had spent much of his life in a mental institution, THE ENIGMA OF KASPAR HAUSER is no ordinary bio-pic, but an unforgettable, dreamlike meditation on the nature of civilization and the fine line between sanity and madness.

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser screens at Walter Reade Theater on Friday, January 13 at 8:00PM.

Kings of the Road (Im Lauf der Zeit) (1976) 176m

Director: Wim Wenders; Country: Germany; Representing NYFF 1976

Four decades before PINA, Wim Wenders made his international breakthrough with a loosely structured “road movie trilogy,” consisting of ALICE IN THE CITIES (1974), WRONG MOVE (1975) and the magisterial concluding chapter, KINGS OF THE ROAD. The travelers here are movie projector repairman Bruno (frequent Wenders alter-ego Rüdiger Vogler) and hitchhiker Robert (Hanns Zischler), who has sunk into a suicidal depression following the breakup of his marriage. Together, they travel the ghostly border region between the two Germanys, tending to worn-down cinemas and their own wounded souls, longing for a woman’s gentle touch. Brilliantly photographed in black-and-white by the legendary Robby Müller and carrying its three hours of screen time with lightness and grace, this one-of-a-kind masterwork is Wenders’s own LAST PICTURE SHOW —a melancholic valentine to the cinema, the irretrievable past, and the long cultural shadow cast by America.

Kings of the Road screens at Walter Reade Theateron Saturday, January 14 at 1:00PM.

Handle With Care (aka Citizen’s Band) (1977) 98m

Director: Jonathan Demme; Country: United States; Representing NYFF 1977

Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme (THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS) made his first NYFF appearance with this high-spirited comic panorama focused on a collection of eccentric characters who broadcast their alter-egos over that primitive social network known as citizen’s band radio. AMERICAN GRAFFITI alumni Paul Le Mat and Candy Clark respectively star as good samaratin “Spider” (all the characters are known by their CB “handles”) and his ex-fiancee, a cheerleading coach who moonlights as CB seductress “Electra.” Also figuring into the mix are a bigamist trucker known as “Chrome Angel,” a white supremacist who calls himself “The Red Baron,” and Spider’s own father, “Papa Thermodyne.” Scripted by future RISKY BUSINESS auteur Paul Brickman, HANDLE WITH CARE finds Demme already in full possession of the humanist screwball touch he would later bring to SOMETHING WILD and MARRIED TO THE MOB. Little wonder that the studio (Paramount) didn’t know what to make of the film and, despite strong reviews, promptly buried it.

Also screening with:

Melvin and Howard (1980) 95m; Director: Jonathan Demme; Country: United States

Demme and Le Mat reunited for this double 1980 Oscar-winner (Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actress, Mary Steenburgen) based on the stranger-than-fiction tale of one Melvin Dummar (Le Mat), a Utah gas-station owner who became the subject of a national media feeding frenzy when he was named as a beneficiary in the much-contested “Mormon will” of eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. In vintage Demme fashion, however, the movie is much less interested in Hughes (an Oscar-nominated Jason Robards) and his estate than in Dummar, an enduring small-town rube who, no matter how badly he stumbles, never stops reaching for the big, shiny American dream. Opening night of the 1980 New York Film Festival.

Handle With care (aka Citizen’s Band) and Melvin and Howard screens at Walter Reade Theater on Wednesday, February 1 at 6:00PM.

Gates of Heaven (1978) 85m

Director: Errol Morris; Country: United States; Representing NYFF 1978

Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Errol Morris’s uncanny debut feature—hailed by critic Roger Ebert as one of the 10 greatest films ever made—follows the shifting fortunes of two Bay Area pet cemeteries. One, San Francisco’s Foothill Memorial Gardens, stems from the lifelong dream of owner Floyd McClure to give Fido the dignity of a human-style burial. But when McClure goes bankrupt, some 450 sets of remains are shipped north to the Napa Valley’s Bubbling Well Memorial Park, and Morris goes with them. In between, Morris casts his deadpan gaze on pet owners, a professional animal byproducts recycler, and other richly bizarre exponents of the old, weird America. A world premiere at the 1978 NYFF, GATES OF HEAVEN famously won Morris a bet with his erstwhile mentor, Werner Herzog, who said he would eat one of his own shoes if Morris ever managed to complete the film and get it publicly shown—a promise Herzog later made good on before a live audience in Berkeley.

Gates of Heaven screens at Walter Reade Theater on Tuesday, February 7 at 6:15PM.

The Black Stallion (1979) 118m

Director: Carroll Ballard; Country: United States; Representing NYFF 1979

Initially the object of indifference from its distributor, United Artists, first-time director Carroll Ballard’s intensely lyrical film of Walter Farley’s classic children’s novel was buoyed by its inclusion in NYFF (and the good reviews that followed) to become a major hit and one of the most beloved family films of all time. The superb child actor Kelly Reno (in his film debut) stars as the survivor of a fiery shipwreck off the North African coast, now stranded on a deserted island save for the company of a wild stallion (also a refugee from the sinking ship). Slowly, the boy and horse come to earn each other’s trust, before they are rescued and returned to America, where the boy sets about training “The Black” with some help from a kindly ex-jockey (Mickey Rooney, in an Oscar-nominated performance). Breathtakingly photographed by Caleb Deschanel, with soaring music by Carmine Coppola (father of Francis, whose Zoetrope Studios produced), THE BLACK STALLION instantly affirmed the prodigious Ballard (NEVER CRY WOLF, FLY AWAY HOME) as one of the cinema’s most poetic observers of man, beast and nature. Print courtesy of Academy Film Archive.

The Black Stallion screens at Walter Reade Theater on Saturday, February 18 at 11:00AM. 

The Last Metro (Le dernier metro) (1980) 131m

Director: François Truffaut; Country: France; Representing NYFF 1980

Catherine Deneuve, gives one of her greatest performances as the wife of a Jewish theater director in Nazi-occupied Paris in François Truffaut’s classic wartime melodrama. While her husband takes refuge in the theater’s basement, Deneuve’s Marion takes the reigns of their latest production, in which she also stars opposite a womanizing actor, Bernard (Gérard Depardieu), who is also a member of the resistance. As the two performers grow closer, their relationship tests Marion’s ambivalent feelings about the Nazis, and the stability of her marriage. A taut, deeply romantic portrait of ordinary people caught up in the tide of extraordinary events, THE LAST METRO would become one of Truffaut’s biggest popular hits, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film and 10 French César awards, including Best Film, Best Actor and Best Actress.

The Last Metro screens at Walter Reade Theater on Tuesday, February 21 at 6:00PM.

Man of Iron (Czlowiek z zelaza) (1981) 153m

Director: Andrzej Wajda; Country: Poland; Representing NYFF 1981

Legendary Polish director Andrzej Wajda made his fourth NYFF appearance with this epic chronicle of the birth of the Solidarity labor movement. In a demanding dual role, the great Jerzy Radziwilowicz stars as Maciej, a union organizer at the Gdansk shipyards (modeled on real-life Solidarity leader Lech Walesa) and, in flashback, Maciej’s father Mateusz, the “model worker” hero of Wajda’s 1977 Man of Marble. Sent to dig up dirt on Maciej and the other movement leaders, Winkel (Marian Opania), a former radical journalist now working for state-sponsored media, infiltrates the yards by posing as a sympathizer. But the more Winkel learns about his subjects, the more he feels his old idealism returning to the fore. Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival and an Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film, MAN OF IRON is as much about the end of an era as the dawn of a new one: within months of the movie’s completion, martial law was declared and Solidarity repressed

Man of Iron screens at Walter Reade Theater on Tuesday, February 28 at 6:00 PM.

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