The Film Society of Lincoln Center has selected Robert Zemeckis’s Philippe Petit biopic “The Walk” to world premiere opening night at the 53rd New York Film Festival (September 25 – October 11).
The true story is based on Petit’s memoir “To Reach the Clouds” and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the French high-wire artist who walked between the Twin Towers in 1974. “The Walk” follows Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” in 2012 as the second 3-D feature to open the festival. Zemeckis brought “Flight” to New York to close the 2012 festival. See the new trailer below. The film will be released in 3-D and IMAX 3-D on October 2, 2015.
The respected NYFF has launched many awards contenders over the years, including David Fincher’s opening night selections “Gone Girl” and “The Social Network,” George Clooney’s “Good Night, and Good Luck,” Clint Eastwood’s “Mystic River,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction,” Mike Leigh’s “Secrets & Lies,” and Stephen Frears’ “The Queen.” “’The Walk’ is surprising in so many ways,” said fest director Kent Jones. “First of all, it plays like a classic heist movie in the tradition of ‘The Asphalt Jungle’ or ‘Bob le flambeur’—the planning, the rehearsing, the execution, the last-minute problems—but here it’s not money that’s stolen but access to the world’s tallest buildings. It’s also an astonishing re-creation of Lower Manhattan in the ’70s. And then, it becomes something quite rare, rich, mysterious… and throughout it all, you’re on the edge of your seat.”
“‘The Walk’ is a New York story,” said Zemeckis, “so I am delighted to be presenting the film to New York audiences first. My hope is that Festival audiences will be immersed in the spectacle, but also to be enraptured by the celebration of a passionate artist who helped give the wonderful towers a soul.”
This is a feather in the cap of new Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group Chairman Tom Rothman, who produced the movie at TriStar after leaving his co-chairmanship at Fox. “’The Walk’ is a love letter to the Twin Towers, which through the unique magic of cinema, come back to vibrant, inspiring life,” said Rothman. “But it is also a universal story of the determined pursuit of impossible dreams, told by one of our greatest living filmmakers, and the NYFF has always been a place where such dreams come true.” (Variety interviews Rothman here.)
The film also stars Ben Kingsley, James Badge Dale, Ben Schwartz, Steve Valentine and Charlotte Le Bon. Zemeckis wrote the screenplay with Christopher Browne and produced the film with Steve Starkey and Jack Rapke.
The 17-day New York Film Festival is programmed by the selection committee chaired by Jones, which also includes Dennis Lim, FSLC Director of Programming; Marian Masone, FSLC Senior Programming Advisor; Gavin Smith, Editor-in-Chief, Film Comment; and Amy Taubin, Contributing Editor, Film Comment and Sight & Sound.