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‘Wonderstruck’: Todd Haynes Returns to New York Film Festival With Cannes Oscar Contender

The Cannes premiere is set for a Centerpiece berth at the fall festival, marking Haynes' fourth bow at NYFF. Plus: more big news from around the circuit.

Millicent Simonds Wonderstruck


Our weekly Film Festival Roundup column explores notable stories and news updates from the circuit. Check out last week’s Roundup right here.

The New York Film Festival, which often imports Cannes titles for its well-curated October celebration of international cinema, has revealed that New York auteur Todd Haynes’ Cannes hit “Wonderstruck” will be the October 7 Centerpiece gala of the 55th edition (September 28 – October 15). This is no surprise, as the Amazon Studios/Roadside Attractions release is scheduled for a NYFF launch-friendly October 20 release.

As soon as the Competition title debuted early on the Riviera, the movie was deemed a likely Oscar contender. That’s because “Wonderstruck” is the perfect match of rich source material and cinema. Author Brian Selznick (“Hugo”) was inspired to adapt his own graphic novel intertwining two stories from 1927 and 1977 when costume designer Sandy Powell pulled it off a shelf and said, “This should be a Todd Haynes movie.”

READ MORE: ‘Wonderstruck’ Is Cannes’ First Oscar Contender and Other Revelations From Festival Press Conference

Selznick, following the recent model of “Room” author Emma Donoghue, secretly adapted his own script on spec, with a little advice from “Hugo” screenwriter John Logan, which doesn’t hurt. By the time the detailed screenplay, complete with sound notes, got to Haynes, the director found its cinematic riches irresistible. He artfully weaves a propulsive mystery, throwing the audience clues in both the black and white silent and the ‘70s color narratives that eventually tie all the threads together as two deaf children (Oakes Fegley and Millicent Simmonds) make their way to New York’s Museum of Natural History. Haynes regular Julianne Moore plays a dual role.

“Todd Haynes and Brian Selznick have pulled off something truly remarkable here,” New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said, “a powerful evocation of childhood, with all of its mysteries and terrors and flights of imagination and longings; richly textured re-creations of Manhattan in the ’20s and the ’70s; and a magical and intricately plotted quest story that builds to a beautiful climax. Wonderstruck is fun, emotionally potent, and… it’s a great New York movie.”

The New York Film Festival has thrice showcased Haynes’s work: “Velvet Goldmine” (1998), “I’m Not There” (2007), and, most recently, “Carol” (2015).

READ MORE: Cannes Review: With ‘Wonderstruck,’ Todd Haynes Returns With A Profoundly Moving Fable For All Ages

The 18-day New York Film Festival features movies from celebrated filmmakers as well as emerging talent. The selection committee, chaired by Jones, also includes Dennis Lim, FSLC Director of Programming; Florence Almozini, FSLC Associate Director of Programming; and Amy Taubin, Contributing Editor, Film Comment and Sight & Sound.

Earlier this summer, NYFF announced Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying” as the Opening Night selection. Both films are presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Check out the rest of our weekly Film Festival Roundup on the next page, including an exciting addition to the Venice jury and more.

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