The 55th New York Film Festival taking place September 28 – October 15, today added a new Retrospective title and announced the Special Events section and Main Slate shorts.
Special Events will feature the world premieres of three major documentaries: Susan Lacy’s Spielberg, which chronicles the cinema titan’s remarkable career and screens with the director and subject in person; Jennifer Lebeau’s Trouble No More, a concert film that punctuates rare, recently rediscovered footage from Bob Dylan’s ’79-’80 tour with a beautiful performance by Michael Shannon; and Susan Froemke’s The Opera House, a history of the Metropolitan Opera and a love letter to the art form that will have a special screening in the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. Claude Lanzmann returns to NYFF with the World Premiere of his four-film series Four Sisters, created from interviews conducted in the 1970s with four Eastern European women who impossibly survived the Holocaust.
Additional highlights include a new restoration of G.W. Pabst’s silent magnum opus Pandora’s Box, screening with the world premiere of a new orchestral score by Jonathan Ragonese performed live; Rory Kennedy’s Without a Net, an examination of the many technologically underserved schools across the country; and two talks with luminaries from this year’s festival—a far-ranging conversation with Kate Winslet about her career and her unforgettable performance in this year’s Closing Night selection, Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel, and a Master Class with Vittorio Storaro and Ed Lachman, the brilliant cinematographers behind the Closing and Centerpiece films.
The fifth annual Film Comment Presents selection is the U.S. premiere of 2017 Cannes competition selection A Gentle Creature, an incisive, tragicomic vision of today’s Russia directed by Sergei Loznitsa and inspired by a Dostoevsky short story. In previous years, Film Comment has championed films such as Terence Davies’s A Quiet Passion, Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, and László Nemes’s Son of Saul. The magazine will also host three live events: a roundtable discussion with festival filmmakers about their experiences as movie lovers and creators, a dialogue on the representation of race and immigration in cinema history, and a critical wrap report of the festival’s highs and lows. All three will also be recorded for the weekly Film Comment Podcast.
The festival also showcases 24 short films across four programs as part of the NYFF Main Slate. Highlights include Qiu Yang’s A Gentle Night, winner of the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes this year; new work by returning filmmakers Jason Giampietro, John Wilson, Riccardo Giacconi, and Pacho Velez; and world premieres of Ashley Connor & Joe Stankus’s The Layover, Adinah Dancyger’s Cheer Up Baby, Gabriel de Urioste’s Program, Damien Power’s Hitchhiker, and Wilson’s The Road to Magnasanti.
Finally, the New York Film Festival announced a late addition to the Retrospective honoring Robert Mitchum’s centenary: Bruce Weber’s Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast, a work-in-progress portrait of Mitchum the man, a flawed soul and true artist, which Weber began shooting more than twenty years ago.
FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS
A Conversation with Kate Winslet
For more than twenty years, Kate Winslet has proven herself one of the most expressive actors in movies, from her astonishing breakouts in Heavenly Creatures (1994), Sense and Sensibility (1995), and Titanic (1997), to the increasingly internalized characterizations of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Revolutionary Road (2008), The Reader (2008), for which she won an Oscar, and Steve Jobs(2015), a NYFF centerpiece. This year, Winslet stars in the NYFF festival closer, Wonder Wheel, directed by Woody Allen, and her blistering, unpredictable, vanity-free performance is destined to be remembered as one of her greatest. Join Kate Winslet in a special live onstage event in which she talks about this latest role, and her career in general.
Claude Lanzmann’s Four Sisters
The Hippocratic Oath (France, 2017, 89m)
Baluty (France, 2017, 64m)
The Merry Flea (France, 2017, 52m)
Noah’s Ark (France, 2017, 68m)
Since 1999, Claude Lanzmann has made several films that could be considered satellites of Shoah, comprised of interviews conducted in the 1970s that didn’t make it into the final, monumental work. He has just completed a series of four new films, built around four women from four different areas of Eastern Europe with four different destinies, each finding herself unexpectedly and improbably alive after war’s end: Ruth Elias from Ostravia, Czechoslovakia; Paula Biren from Lodz, Poland; Ada Lichtman from further south in Krakow; and Hannah Marton from Cluj, or Kolozsvár, in Transylvania. “What they have in common,” wrote Lanzmann, “apart from the specific horrors each one of them was subjected to, is their intelligence, an incisive, sharp and carnal intelligence that rejects all pretence and false reasons—in a word—idealism.” What is so remarkable about Lanzmann’s films is the way that they stay within the immediate present tense, where the absolute horror of the shoah is always happening.
The Opera House
Dir. Susan Froemke, USA, 2017, 108m
Renowned documentarian Susan Froemke takes viewers through the history of the Metropolitan Opera via priceless archival stills, footage, and interviews (with, among many others, the great soprano Leontyne Price). The film follows the development of the glorious institution from its beginnings at the old opera house on 39th Street to the storied reign of Rudolph Bing to the long-gestating move to Lincoln Center, the construction of which traces a fascinating byway through the era of urban renewal and Robert Moses’s transformation of New York. Most of all, though, this is a film about the love for and devotion to the preservation of an art form, and the upkeep of a home where it can live and thrive.
This screening will take place at the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center.
Dir. G.W. Pabst, Germany, 1929, 143m
Pabst’s immortal film version of the Frank Wedekind play gave us one of the most enduring presences in cinema. “Is the movie’s resident Pandora, Louise Brooks, inside the character of Lulu or is Lulu inside her?” wrote J. Hoberman in The Village Voice. As Brooks herself put it to Kenneth Tynan, “It was clever of Pabst to know even before he met me that I possessed the tramp essence of Lulu.” Lulu, in Hoberman’s words, was a “new kind of femme fatale—generous, manipulative, heedless, blank, democratic in her affections, ambiguous in her sexuality.” She has inspired countless helmet-haired imitators, but she still reigns supreme. Featuring the world premiere of a new orchestral score composed and conducted by Jonathan Ragonese. A Janus Films release.
DCP courtesy of the Deutsche Kinemathek from the restoration based on elements contributed by the Cinémathèque Française, Gosfilmofond and the Národní Filmový Archiv in Prague undertaken at Cineteca di Bologna. The work was helmed by the George Eastman House and Big Sound with funding provided by Hugh M. Hefner.
This evening is generously supported by Ira Resnick.
Dir. Susan Lacy, USA, 2017, 147m
Susan Lacy’s new film traces the private, public, and artistic development of one of cinema’s true giants, from his early love of moviemaking as a kid growing up in all-American suburbia, through his sudden rise to superstardom with Jaws, to his establishment of a film-and-TV empire with DreamWorks and beyond. All along the way, Spielberg has approached every new film as if it were his first. Featuring interviews with friends and contemporaries in the “New Hollywood” (Francis Coppola, Brian De Palma, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese); key artistic collaborators (including Tom Hanks, John Williams, longtime DP Janusz Kamiński); and, the film’s most touching presences, Spielberg’s beloved sisters and parents, Arnold and Leah. An HBO Documentary Film.
Trouble No More
Dir. Jennifer Lebeau, USA, 2017, 59m
Like every other episode in the life of Bob Dylan, the “born again” period that supposedly began with the release of Slow Train Coming (1979) and supposedly ended with Shot of Love (1981) has been endlessly scrutinized in the press. Less attention has been paid to the magnificent music he made. This very special film consists of truly electrifying video footage, much of it thought to have been lost for years and all newly restored, shot at shows in Toronto and Buffalo on the last leg of the ’79-’80 tour (with an amazing band: Muscle Shoals veteran Spooner Oldham and Terry Young on keyboards, Little Feat’s Fred Tackett on guitar, Tim Drummond on bass, the legendary Jim Keltner on drums and Clydie King, Gwen Evans, Mona Lisa Young, Regina McCrary and Mary Elizabeth Bridges on vocals) interspersed with sermons written by Luc Sante and beautifully delivered by Michael Shannon. More than just a record of some concerts, Trouble No More is a total experience.
Master Class: Vittorio Storaro and Ed Lachman
The cinematographers behind two of this year’s true visual wonders—titled, appropriately, Wonderstruck and Wonder Wheel—sit down with NYFF Director Kent Jones for a conversation about the craft of cinematography and their own astonishing careers in particular. Vittorio Storaro, who has had lengthy creative partnerships with Bernardo Bertolucci, Francis Coppola, and Carlos Saura, has now worked with Woody Allen to create one of his greatest aesthetic achievements; Ed Lachman, who has worked extensively with many filmmakers from Wim Wenders to Steven Soderbergh, is now perhaps best known for his collaboration with Todd Haynes, with whom he has created a remarkable movie set in two wholly distinct lost worlds: New York in the twenties and the seventies.
Without a Net
Dir. Rory Kennedy, USA, 2017, 56m
Many of us assume that the world, or at least the country, is now fully connected, but throughout American classrooms there exists a digital divide. In a shockingly large number of schools, access to technology, connectivity, and teacher-training is nonexistent. Many of those underserved schools are located just a few miles from fully equipped schools with technologically adept teachers in better funded districts. This new film from Rory Kennedy, in which we see the situation through the eyes of students, educators, policy experts, and advocates across the country, clearly lays out the steps we must take a to bring our public education system into the 21st century. Verizon, a producer of the film, has over the last five years, committed more than $160 million to help close the digital divide.
FILM COMMENT AT NYFF EVENTS
Film Comment Presents:
A Gentle Creature
Dir. Sergei Loznitsa, France/Germany/Lithuania/The Netherlands, 2017, 143m
North American Premiere
This tragicomic pageant by Sergei Loznitsa (My Joy, NYFF48) brings a roiling energy and a lunatic sense of desperation to its larger-than-life vision of today’s Russia. Inspired by a Dostoevsky short story, A Gentle Creature follows an unnamed woman (Vasilina Makovtseva) moving through a prison town underworld after attempting to visit her incarcerated husband. Loznitsa uses the town as a microcosm for a country where corruption and authority are so intertwined as to be indistinguishable. A Gentle Creature brings its own genius to a Russian tradition of social panoramas, and as the film takes a turn into the carnivalesque and the infernal, it gets at the deeply troubled slumber of a beleaguered country.
Film Comment Live:
The Cinema of Experience
At this year’s NYFF, filmmakers are rising to the challenge of representing race and immigration at a pivotal time in our nation’s history. Our guests will discuss how cinematic technique is used to reflect such experiences and what is different about the latest generation of storytelling.
For the second year, Film Comment gives you the rare chance to see some of today’s most important filmmakers in dialogue with each other. A selection of directors whose films are screening at this edition of NYFF will talk together in a discussion moderated by Film Comment editor-in-chief Nicolas Rapold.
In what is becoming an annual tradition, Film Comment contributing critics and editors gather for the festival’s last weekend and talk about the films they’ve seen, discussing—or arguing about—the selections in the lineup, from Main Slate and beyond.
RETROSPECTIVE – JUST ADDED
Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast
Bruce Weber, 2017, USA
In the late 1990s, the great photographer and filmmaker Bruce Weber managed to convince Robert Mitchum to appear before his camera for a filmed portrait. Weber shot Mitchum in 35mm black and white, hanging with friends and cronies in restaurants and hotel rooms and singing before a microphone in a studio recording standards for a projected album. When Mitchum passed away in 1997, Weber parked his beloved project and it was some time before he went back into his footage. Nice Girls Don’t Stay for Breakfast (a great title, from a Julie London song), still a work in progress, is a beautifully textured full-throttle portrait of a man who came from—and for many was the very embodiment of—a bygone era, speaking and enacting its prejudices, its longings, and its charms. He was also a great artist with the sensibility of a poet, as you’ll see.
Shorts Program 1: Narrative
Showcasing both established and emerging filmmakers, this program features six unique films from around the world. TRT: 84m Programmed by Gabi Madsen
Eva Cvijanović, Canada/Croatia, 2017, 10m
In this stop-motion tale, a hedgehog’s love of his humble abode perplexes his predators, who deliver their dialogue in rhyming couplets. New York Premiere
All Over the Place
Mariana Sanguinetti, Argentina, 2017, 10m
While moving out of the apartment she shared with her ex-boyfriend, Jimena reflects on closure and the future in a stream-of-consciousness message on his answering machine. North American Premiere
A Gentle Night
Qiu Yang, China, 2017, 15m
When their 13-year-old daughter disappears on her way home from school, a couple’s feelings of helplessness conflict with their desire to act. New York Premiere
Matvey Fiks, USA/Russia, 2017, 19m
Tow-truck driver Douggy’s mind is on a series of unanswered phone calls as he goes through the motions of his last two night shifts. Fiks renders his routine’s quietude and rusty infrastructure in warm 16mm grain. North American Premiere
Kazik Radwanski, Canada, 2017, 15m
Filmed in fragmentary close-up, Scaffold stitches together the conversations, interactions, and people-watching that make up the daily grind for two Bosnian-Canadian construction workers. U.S. Premiere
Rakan Mayasi, Palestine/Lebanon, 2017, 15m
A Palestinian man serves time in an Israeli jail, but he and his wife still hope to conceive a child. With the help of a bonbon wrapper, the couple overcomes physical obstacles in a race against the clock. U.S. Premiere
Shorts Program 2: Genre Stories
This is the third annual edition of a program focusing on the best in new horror, thriller, sci-fi, pitch-black comedy, twisted noir, and fantasy shorts from around the world. TRT: 92m Programmed by Laura Kern
Natalie James, Australia, 2016, 10m
As a woman helps her dad pack up his home, it becomes apparent that it may be inhabited by more than just memories. New York Premiere
The Last Light
Angelita Mendoza, USA/Mexico, 2017, 11m
Spanish with English subtitles
The innocence and the developing evils of youth collide when two children’s paths cross in an abandoned house. New York Premiere
Alberto Viavattene, Italy, 2017, 15m
A corrupt young nurse messes with the wrong patient on the day she turns 100. U.S. Premiere
Gabriel de Urioste, USA, 2017, 8m
In the Digital Age, finding real love is more challenging—and glitchier—than ever. World Premiere
Juan Pablo Arias Muñoz, Chile, 2017, 21m
Spanish with English subtitles
While on a hunting trip with his father, a teenage boy must contend with multiple monsters. North American Premiere
Jonna Nilsson, Sweden, 2016, 7m
Alone one night, a woman is terrorized by water that manifests itself in unusual ways. New York Premiere
Damien Power, Australia, 2015, 20m
Right before brilliantly deconstructing camping films in Killing Ground, its director made this noirish homage to road movies. World Premiere
Shorts Program 3: New York Stories
This program, now in its third year, showcases work from some of the most exciting filmmakers living and working in New York today, including established names and ones to watch. TRT: 79m Programmed by Dan Sullivan
Jason Giampietro, USA, 2017, 14m
Giampietro confronts our uncertain political moment head-on with this dark comedy, in which a man attempts to justify his having bet on Trump to win the 2016 presidential election. New York Premiere
Cheer Up Baby
Adinah Dancyger, USA, 2017, 12m
The experience of a young woman (India Menuez) who has been sexually assaulted by a stranger on the subway is rendered with psychological menace and sensory dislocation in Dancyger’s elliptical tale. World Premiere
Ashley Connor & Joe Stankus, USA, 2017, 10m
This subtle, funny miniature offers a tender glimpse at the shared life of two flight attendants as they observe the one-year anniversary of their beloved dog’s passing. World Premiere
My Nephew Emmett
Kevin Wilson, Jr., USA, 2017, 19m
This visually ravishing and thought-provoking work portrays one of the USA’s great shames—the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till by two white men in Mississippi—and movingly reminds us of this dark episode’s enduring relevance. New York Premiere
The Road to Magnasanti
John Wilson, USA, 2017, 15m
Wilson welcomes us to the terrordome with his latest, in which he hilariously and chillingly illustrates NYC’s not-so-gradual transformation into a late-capitalist paradise-cum-dystopia. World Premiere
Mr. Yellow Sweatshirt
Pacho Velez & Yoni Brook, USA, 2017, 9m
A man’s inability to get a subway turnstile to accept his Metrocard encapsulates NYC’s ongoing public transit crisis in Velez and Brook’s elegant and formally audacious documentary. New York Premiere
Shorts Program 4: Documentary
For its second year, NYFF showcases films from around the world that capture the versatility and depth of short nonfiction. TRT: 90mProgrammed by Tyler Wilson
Xavier Marrades, Spain, 2017, 17m
A widowed truck driver considers the nature of his companionship with a dove in this ethereal, moving work about loss and renewal. New York Premiere
The Brick House
Eliane Esther Bots, Netherlands, 2016, 16m
With meticulous detail, Bots sensuously captures the placid movements and sounds of two friends inside a Dutch apartment as they share memories—both pleasant and harrowing—of their childhood in Tanzania. North American Premiere
The True Tales / Les histoires vraies
Lucien Monot, Switzerland, 2017, 22m
Shooting on 16mm, Monot constructs a buoyant ode to his father, who wanders in and out of scripted scenarios that deconstruct his personal history while refracting his family’s unspoken loss. U.S. Premiere
Two / Due
Riccardo Giacconi, France/Italy, 2017, 16m
Giacconi’s schematic, almost surreal essay film maps the development of a utopian residential neighborhood planned by Silvio Berlusconi in the seventies, and offers a representation of the not-yet prime minister’s lasting impact on Italian culture. North American Premiere
The Disinherited / Los Desheredados
Laura Ferrés, Spain, 2017, 19m
In this funny and tender portrait that deftly blurs documentary and fiction, Ferrés’s father reluctantly endures the demise of his family business while trying to retain his dignity. North American Premiere