The Film Society of Lincoln Center has added, as expected, Ang Lee’s latest technological advance, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.” The special world premiere presentation of the film will screen on Friday, October 14, at AMC Lincoln Square. The NYFF presents the first public screening of a full-length narrative film shot in 4K, native 3D at the ultra high rate of 120 frames-per-second.
At CinemaCon, Sony studio chairman Tom Rothman, much as he did when he introduced Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” — in his old guise at Fox — in 2012 as a potential Oscar contender and game-changer, launched the Sony show with Lee’s follow-up, a true-life drama about an Iraq War vet who is turned into a hero. Kristen Stewart co-stars as his sister. NYFF opener “Life of Pi” went on to win Lee the Best Director Oscar; Sony will push for Lee’s new film as an Oscar contender.
High frame rate (HFR) may have finally come of age, thanks to Lee’s spectacular hyper-real, immersive achievement with “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” which intercuts a returning soldier being honored during halftime of a Dallas football game with wartime flashbacks of his squadron.
This time, Lee uses hyper-real high frame rates to bring us closer to the characters, stated New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones. He describes the film “as a story of America in the years after the invasion of Iraq, and on the most intimate person-to-person wavelength. Ang Lee has always gone deep into the nuances of the emotions between his characters, and that’s exactly what drove him to push cinema technology to new levels. It’s all about the faces, the smallest emotional shifts. In every way, Billy Lynn is the work of a master.”
Lee oversaw the elaborate production and prep required to create the film in this immersive format; “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” is from TriStar Pictures and Studio 8 in association with LStar Capital, Film4, Bona Film Group, and Fosun Media). When it is released commercially, the film will play in a variety of 2D and 3D formats. NYFF attendees will be among the few who can see the film as it was intended by its filmmaker. Theaters have to catch up with the exhibition requirements.
Jean-Christophe Castelli adapted Ben Fountain’s novel about an Iraq war hero (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who returns home with his fellow members of Bravo Company for a victory tour, culminating in a media-hyped halftime show at a Thanksgiving Day football game. The film also stars Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, Vin Diesel and Steve Martin.
“With each film, I try to learn fresh ways to connect with the audience and with myself,” stated Lee. “Since ‘Life of Pi,’ I have been working with my team towards a new cinematic approach that I hope will revitalize that connection. But technology is merely a tool; it should always be in service of artistic expression, to make it strong and fresh, because story and drama matter most. I thought Billy’s journey, which is both intimate and epic, and told almost entirely from his point of view, lent itself particularly well to the emotion and intensity that this new approach fosters. At least I hope so, as many people have worked long and hard to help me try to make the future a reality today. I am thankful to them all.”
Lee’s 1997 film “The Ice Storm” opened NYFF 35, and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” was Closing Night of the 38th festival in 2000.
“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” is produced by Marc Platt, Ang Lee, Rhodri Thomas and Stephen Cornwell.
This year’s NYFF runs from September 30 – October 16.