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Julian Schnabel’s Vincent van Gogh Biopic ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ Set to Close 2018 New York Film Festival

Schnabel's Vincent van Gogh biopic, already set to premiere in competition at Venice, stars Willem Dafoe as the artist and follows him through his final days.

“At Eternity’s Gate”

Lily Gavin

The 2018 New York Film Festival will close this year’s festival with Julian Schnabel’s Vincent van Gogh biopic “At Eternity’s Gate,” starring Willem Dafoe as the artist. Presented by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the historical drama’s North American premiere will close the 56th edition of the festival at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall on Friday, October 12. CBS Films will release the film in November 2018. The film will premiere in competition at Venice later this month.

Per NYFF, the new film “takes a fresh look at the last days of Vincent van Gogh, and in the process revivifies our sense of the artist as a living, feeling human being.” Dafoe’s performance was billed by the festival as “at once lucid, mad, brilliant, helpless, defeated, and, finally, triumphant.” The film also stars Oscar Isaac as Gauguin, Rupert Friend as Theo, Emmanuelle Seigner as Madame Ginoux, Mathieu Amalric as Dr. Gachet, and Mads Mikkelsen as The Priest.

At Cannes, Schnabel told IndieWire’s Anne Thompson that he was struck by the painter’s “commitment to something that did not have an audience, or an audience that he was probably never going to meet. That incongruity between life and art is so well-described in the disjunctive relationship he had with society. When van Gogh looked at the beauty of nature through painting, it brought him further away from everybody and made it impossible for him to have a real life. The film will shed light on that.”

The filmmaker also explained that the film will adopt a first-person point of view, as the isolated van Gogh wanders the countryside, wishing a few people would commune with him like a normal person.

“’At Eternity’s Gate’ is such a surprising film, for all kinds of reasons,” said New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said in an official statement. “Julian Schnabel makes use of the most up-to-date information about Vincent van Gogh, altering our accepted ideas of how he lived and died; he grounds the film in the very action of painting, the intense contact between an artist and the world of forms and textures colored by light; and he gives us Willem Dafoe’s performance as Vincent—acting this pure is endlessly surprising.”

Schnabel added, “I would like to say thank you to Kent Jones and the NYFF selection committee on behalf of Willem Dafoe, who is Vincent van Gogh in the film, and the cast and crew, who I have been so privileged to work with, for choosing ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ for Closing Night. It is a profound honor to be included with the other films and to be part of the history of Closing Night films that came before us. Looking forward to sitting in the audience with everybody.”

This year’s festival will open with Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite” and celebrate its Centerpiece selection with Alfonso Cuarón’s “ROMA.” The 2018 New York Film Festival runs September 28 – October 14.

Tickets for the 56th New York Film Festival will go on sale to the general public on September 9. Festival and VIP passes are on sale now and offer one of the earliest opportunities to purchase tickets and secure seats at some of the festival’s biggest events, including Closing Night.

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