Special Events including Jim Jarmusch’s Gimme Danger, the World Premiere of Alex Horwitz’s Hamilton’s America, Film Comment Presents Terence Davies’s A Quiet Passion, are among the Special Events at this year’s New York Film Festival.
Jarmusch, Davies, Iggy Pop, Cynthia Nixon, Stephen Sondheim, are among the special guests; and Kristen Stewart and Adam Driver are this year’s “An Evening with…” honorees.
Special Events will feature the world premiere of Lonny Price’s Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened, a nonfiction account of Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince’s 1981 musical-flop-turned-cult-favorite Merrily We Roll Along, with Price and theater luminary Sondheim in person. Thirty-five years later in the world of musicals, Hamilton is a Broadway sensation. Alex Horwitz’s Hamilton’s America goes behind the history of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony- and Pulitzer Prize–winning production, Hamilton: An American Musical, and makes its world premiere at NYFF.
FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
Best Worst Thing That Ever Could Have Happened
Directed by Lonny Price
USA, DCP, 95m
In 1981, Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince embarked on Merrily We Roll Along, a musical based on the 1934 George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart comedy told in reverse: the characters begin as disillusioned adults and end as starry-eyed adolescents. Though the original, much-ballyhooed production, which featured a cast of teenage unknowns, was panned by the critics and closed after just 16 performances, Merrily We Roll Along would go on to attain musical theater legend status. This alternately heartbreaking and euphoric film by original cast member Lonny Price features never-before seen footage of Prince and Sondheim at work on the show and revisits many of Price’s fellow actors, all of them united by this once-in-a-lifetime experience. Stephen Sondheim, Lonny Price, and other special guests to appear in person.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
Directed by Ang Lee
USA, 2016, DCP, 110m
Ang Lee’s stunning adaptation of Ben Fountain’s novel is the story of an Iraq war hero (newcomer Joe Alwyn) who comes home with his fellow members of Bravo Company for a victory tour. This culminates in a halftime show at a Thanksgiving Day football game—a high-intensity media extravaganza summoning memories of the trauma of losing his beloved sergeant in a firefight. Lee’s brave, heartbreaking film goes right to the heart of a great division that haunts this country: between the ideal image of things as they should be and the ongoing reality of things as they are. Billy Lynn is also a step forward in the art of cinema, made with a cinematographic process years ahead of its time. With a brilliant supporting cast, including Kristen Stewart, Chris Tucker, Garrett Hedlund, with Vin Diesel and Steve Martin. A TriStar Pictures release.
Directed by Jim Jarmusch
USA, 2016, DCP, 108m
“Music is life and life is not a business,” said Iggy Pop when he and his surviving bandmates from The Stooges were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. Jim Jarmusch’s cinematic offering to the punk gods of Ann Arbor traces the always raucous and frequently calamitous history of the Stooges from inception to the present. With the help of animator James Kerr, plus glimpses of Lucille Ball and a shirtless Yul Brynner amidst a bonanza of archival performance footage, photos, and interviews, Gimme Danger has the feeling of a night at Max’s Kansas City. An Amazon Studios and Magnolia Pictures release. Iggy Pop and Jim Jarmusch to appear in person.
Directed by Alex Horwitz
USA, 2016, DCP, 84m
Lin-Manuel Miranda takes us inside the making of his groundbreaking American musical Hamilton, winner of eleven Tonys, as well as the Pulitzer Prize and a Grammy Award. We follow Miranda, his collaborators, and key members of the original cast on their exploration of the history that inspired the show, visiting locations from Valley Forge to the West Wing. We also track the show’s journey, from the moment Miranda thrilled the Obamas at the White House in 2009 to the first year of its blockbuster run on Broadway. A PBS Great Performances documentary. Horwitz and special guests to appear in person.
FILM COMMENT AT NYFF EVENTS
Film Comment Presents:
A Quiet Passion
Directed by Terence Davies
U.K./Belgium, 2016, DCP, 125m
Swiftly following his glorious Sunset Song, the great British director Terence Davies turns his attention to 19th-century American poet Emily Dickinson and ends up with perhaps an even greater triumph. A revelatory Cynthia Nixon embodies Dickinson with a titanic intelligence always threatening to burst forth from behind a polite facade, while Davies creates a formally audacious rendering of her life, from teenage skepticism to lonely death, using her poems (and a touch of Charles Ives) as soundtrack accompaniment. Both sides of Davies’s enormous talent—his witty, Wildean sense of humor and his frightening vision of life’s grim realities—are on full display in this consuming depiction of a creative inner world. Terence Davies and Cynthia Nixon to appear in person.
Film Comment Live: Living Cinema
For its September-October 2016 edition, Film Comment, the most important and renowned critical film magazine in the U.S. for more than 50 years, will come out of the gate with an issue devoted to the vitality of movies today, as well as an elaborate special section on films featured in the 54th New York Film Festival. For this panel a selection of the magazine’s editors, new contributors, and longtime writers will join to discuss issues raised and questions asked in its pages.
Film Comment Live: Filmmakers Chat
In this special roundtable discussion, a selection of different directors from around the world whose films are screening in this year’s New York Film Festival talk together in a discussion moderated by Film Comment editor Nicolas Rapold. It’s the rare chance to see some of today’s most important filmmakers in dialogue with each other, talking about their experiences watching and creating movies.
TWO SPECIAL “An Evening with . . .” CELEBRATIONS
An Evening with Adam Driver
With his mainstream breakout in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Adam Driver has become a bona fide megastar. But those who have been following him for years, both in his Emmy-nominated role in the HBO series Girls, and in such past NYFF films as Frances Ha and Inside Llewyn Davis, have already been smitten with his artistic style. This year, festival audiences can see his wonderful leading performance in Jim Jarmusch’s exquisite Paterson, as a poetry-writing New Jersey bus driver.
An Evening with Kristen Stewart
For the past few years, Kristen Stewart has been quietly amassing an impressive body of work, starring in enigmatic roles in complex films, including the NYFF52 selection Clouds of Sils Maria, directed by Olivier Assayas, for which she became the first American actor to win the French César award. This year feels like a culmination of this extraordinary phase of her career: she starred in five movies in 2016, the best of which are featured at NYFF: Assayas’s Personal Shopper, in which she appears in nearly every shot; Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women; and Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. All three films speak to an actor constantly willing to challenge herself and her fans.