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NYFF Announces New Programming Structure and Additions to Curatorial Teams

The annual fall festival also announced that it has not yet determined if the event will go fully virtual, with a decision to come later this summer.

The Walter Reade Theater

The Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center

Mettie Ostrowski

As it readies for its 58th edition, the New York Film Festival has announced a number of changes both to its programming structure and curatorial teams that head up both selection and overall advisement. In addition to adding new members in committee and advisory roles, the festival’s programming structure has been streamlined into five distinct sections.

While the state of fall festivals remains unclear in the wake of the pandemic, NYFF representatives said in a statement that “the festival is also exploring a combination of both in-person and digital experiences, as circumstances allow,” adding that Film at Lincoln Center “will determine the format of the festival this summer, maintaining its commitment and responsibility to films and filmmakers while ensuring that the safety and well-being of our audiences and guests remain our utmost priority.”

In an additional statement, new NYFF director Eugene Hernandez addressed the current challenges faced by the festival. “Our city is enduring a devastating crisis right now and there is no question that the 58th New York Film Festival will be different as a result, but New Yorkers are resilient and constraints can inspire new ideas,” he said. “In planning this year’s festival, we’re taking an open-minded approach, and this fall we hope to share the best of cinema with audiences safely and securely, both in person and online.”

Whatever form the festival takes in September, organizers have broken it down into five sections: Main Slate, Currents, Spotlight, Revivals, and Talks. This new structure consolidates several sections that previously existed in the festival, with documentaries sublimated into the lineup instead of being restricted to a single section. Shorts will mostly be found in the new Currents section, which will also function as something of an update on the now-defunct Projections section, which showcased avant-garde work.

The Main Slate selection committee has been expanded to five members, and this year is comprised of Hernandez, Florence Almozini, Vanity Fair critic K. Austin Collins, former SFFILM programming director Rachel Rosen, and director of programming Dennis Lim, who will serve as chair.

Other new members are also on deck to join the overall curatorial team, which will now include Film at Lincoln Center programming staff and an international roster of programmers and advisors. That includes a new team of five advisors: Violeta Bava, Michelle Carey, Leo Goldsmith, Rachael Rakes, and Gina Telaroli. Per the festival, the advisors will “work with festival programmers on film scouting and to facilitate connections and collaborations with various sectors of cinema.”

In his own statement, Lim addressed the potential of the new committee. “Our programming exists to champion the films we believe in and to bring those films to discerning audiences in New York City and beyond,” he said. “The current situation compels us to think more deeply and imaginatively about what that can mean.”

The updated section structure will be as follows, with all descriptions courtesy of NYFF:

The MAIN SLATE, which is the heart and historic core of the festival, brings together the films that promise to define the year in cinema. The selection committee for this section will be Dennis Lim (Chair), Florence Almozini, K. Austin Collins, Eugene Hernandez (NYFF Director), and Rachel Rosen.

A new section called CURRENTS will be added to the lineup and is designed to complement the Main Slate. The CURRENTS section traces a more complete picture of contemporary cinema, with an emphasis on new and innovative forms and voices. The section will present a diverse offering of short and feature-length work by filmmakers and artists working at the vanguard of the medium. The newly formed selection committee for this section will be Dennis Lim (Chair), Florence Almozini, Aily Nash, and Tyler Wilson.

The new SPOTLIGHT section will be NYFF’s showcase of sneak previews, gala events, screenings with live or performance elements, guest-curated selections and other special evenings. This section will be programmed by Eugene Hernandez and Dennis Lim.

The REVIVALS section connects cinema’s rich past to its dynamic present through an eclectic assortment of new restorations, titles selected by the festival’s filmmakers, rarities, and more. This section will be programmed by Florence Almozini and Dan Sullivan.

The TALKS section will supplement NYFF’s screenings with a series of free and ticketed panel discussions and in-depth conversations with a wide range of guests. This section will be programmed by Eugene Hernandez, Devika Girish, and Madeline Whittle.

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