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American Trial: The Eric Garner Story
American Trial: The Eric Garner Story

The 57th New York Film Festival taking place September 27 to October 13, 2019 revealed the complete lineup for the Special Events, Shorts, and Talks sections.

This year’s four Shorts programs feature a mix of narrative and documentary films from established and emerging artists, with 10 world premieres, including all titles in the annual New York Stories program, Theo Anthony’s Subject to Review (Program 2), and Emma Doxiadi’s  Automatic  (Program 3). Highlights include new work from NYFF alumni Yorgos Lanthimos, Gabriel Abrantes, Gaston Solnicki, Qiu Yang, Martin Rejtman, Pia Borg, Joe Stankus, Adinah Dancyger, Jay Giampietro, Ricky D’Ambrose, and Joanna Arnow.

Special Events will feature Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club Encore, an extended version of his portrait of the eponymous Harlem nightclub where legendary black musicians like Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, and Duke Ellington performed for an exclusively white clientele. Coppola recovered lost negatives to restore sound, image, and the film’s intended length, and will appear in person for a Q&A.

Joker, the highly anticipated origin story of Batman’s arch enemy, starring a brilliant Joaquin Phoenix as the nefarious villain, will screen in a special sneak preview. Phoenix will join audiences for an extended Q&A along with director Todd Phillips and the creative team behind this stunning new vision of Gotham.

Roee Messinger’s American Trial: The Eric Garner Story envisions the fictional but unscripted trial of recently fired officer Daniel Pantaleo for one of the nation’s most disturbing recent tragedies: Eric Garner’s 2014 murder by police chokehold in Staten Island, which galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement. The film features the testimony of real-life witnesses and friends of Garner, and the participation of two legal teams. American Trial will make its World Premiere at NYFF with a free screening and extended panel, featuring the director and a number of the film’s participants.

Special Events also includes a Screenwriting Master Class with Olivier Assayas, a fixture of the New York Film Festival, who will discuss the process of adapting real events into creative fictions, such as his newest film, Wasp Network, playing in this year’s Main Slate.

NYFF Talks return with On Cinema, wherein festival director Kent Jones sits down with world-renowned filmmakers for an in-depth discussion about films that have influenced and inspired them, illustrated with film clips. This year Film at Lincoln Center presents two such talks: with Martin Scorsese, director of Opening selection The Irishman, and Pedro Almodóvar, a festival veteran and director of Main Slate selection Pain and Glory. Directors Dialogues are special Q&As with filmmakers from NYFF57, discussing the ideas and the craft behind their buzzed-about newest works. This year’s participants are Bong Joon-ho, the Palme d’Or–winning director of Parasite, and Mati Diop, who makes her NYFF debut with Atlantics.

SHORT FILM

Program 1: International (TRT: 89m)

A mixture of narrative and documentary, this program showcases bold, new films by emerging and established filmmakers working in international cinema today.
Programmed by Tyler Wilson.

Party Day / Dia de Festa
Sofia Bost, Portugal, 2019, 17m
Portuguese with English subtitles
North American Premiere
A cash-strapped single mother is pulled into an unresolved family conflict as she struggles to host her daughter’s seventh birthday party. Sofia Bost’s 16mm-shot drama, filled with illuminating performances, renders a complicated depiction of motherhood and the inconsolable grievances inherited by each generation.

Blessed Land / Một Khu Đất Tốt
Phạm Ngọc Lân, Vietnam, 2019, 19m
Vietnamese with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Searching for her deceased husband’s grave, a mother wanders with her son through a cemetery that has been partially remade into a golf course. Phạm Ngọc Lân’s intricately staged single-location film merges two disparate time periods, creating unnerving harmony between sociopolitical conspiracy and the natural erosion of memory, spiritual calm and modern decadence.

Circumplector
Gastón Solnicki, Argentina/France, 2019, 3m
U.S. Premiere
Gastón Solnicki’s miniature of Notre-Dame—filmed days before the fire—impressionistically links various media the cathedral evokes, including still-life painting and Baroque music, to present-day footage of work and performance.

San Vittore
Yuri Ancarani, Italy, 2019, 11m
Observing security guards as they search and escort children through Milan’s oldest prison, San Vittore depicts the lingering effects of the institution on its visitors. Visual artist Yuri Ancarani’s short documentary remains firmly immersed in a child’s-eye point of view, evoking the young subjects’ increasing understanding of the institution’s purpose with quiet, disturbing tension.

She Runs / Nan Fang Shao Nv
Qiu Yang, China/France, 2019, 19m
Chinese with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Set in Changzhou, a city in China’s southern Jiangsu province, She Runs follows a young student after she tries to quit her school’s aerobic dance team. Eschewing close-ups for long shots—around building corners, or from entirely different rooms—Qiu Yang’s Cannes-winning short follows its protagonist’s mounting desperation, implicating the underlying foundation of Changzhou as much as people inhabiting it.

Shakti
Martin Rejtman, Argentina/Chile, 2019, 20m
Spanish with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Not long after his grandmother dies, a twenty-something man in Buenos Aires breaks up with his girlfriend and begins obsessing over her unexpected reaction—but then he meets someone else. The stylistic exactness, narrative shrewdness, and droll pacing emblematic of Martin Rejtman’s cinematic sensibility are perfectly at home in this short comedy of peculiar minutiae and casual digressions.

Program 2: Documentary (TRT: 68m)

This documentary program connects the imperfections of the human experience to the influence of technology and mass media by pairing Pia Borg’s chilling account of the Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic of the 1980s with Theo Anthony’s wry, imaginative essay film about the instant replay system of professional tennis.
Programmed by Tyler Wilson.

Demonic
Pia Borg, Australia, 2019, 30m
North American Premiere
The real and the imagined fold together in Pia Borg’s horror-documentary about the Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic of the 1980s, a mass hysteria during which people around the world “recovered” memories of debauchery and human sacrifices related to satanic cults. Using a cunning combination of archival media coverage, audio footage, and historical recreation by way of computer animation and 16mm, Demonic reframes our current moment of misinformation and distrust, revealing the forces at play between psychiatry, media, and false memory.

Subject to Review
Theo Anthony, USA, 2019, 38m
World Premiere
The latest from Theo Anthony (Rat Film) charts the rise and development of the instant replay system Hawk-Eye in professional tennis, cleverly relating innovative technology and the imperfections of the human experience to the history of cinema, sports entertainment, and humanity’s desire to objectively interpret the world. Featuring music by composer Dan Deacon, Subject to Review is another odd, imaginative, and accessible documentary essay from the Baltimore-based filmmaker.

Program 3: Narrative (TRT: 96m)

From absurdist thrillers and political fantasies to lo-fi sci-fi and body horror, these seven shorts from emerging and established international filmmakers make up this wildly eclectic narrative program.
Programmed by Tyler Wilson.

Automatic
Emma Doxiadi, Greece, 2019, 10m
Greek with English subtitles
World Premiere
Two young women convince each other they are under threat after accidentally photographing what they believe to be a concealed automatic rifle. Shot in drawn-out, static takes, Emma Doxiadi’s comical mystery comments on Greece’s ongoing refugee crisis in real time, pointing squarely at foolish knee-jerk reactions.

Mthunzi
Tebogo Malebogo, South Africa, 2019, 9m
North American Premiere
While walking home from the store, a young man is prompted to help a seizing woman, and unknowingly demonstrates the danger of doing the right thing. Cape Town–based filmmaker Tebogo Malebogo’s briskly tense script and direction elevate Mthunzi from a simple morality tale into a nervous thriller about implicit biases in unfamiliar circumstances.

Control Plan
Juliana Antunes, Brazil, 2018, 15m
Portuguese with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Set shortly after former President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, Control Plan follows a young Brazilian woman who uses her cell phone’s teleportation service to flee the country. Politically serious but always funny, this lo-fi sci-fi from Juliana Antunes (Baronesa) is as much a commentary on the fraught paradigm shifts of 2016 as it is a pointed takedown of limited data plans.

Nimic by Yorgos Lanthimos starring Matt Dillon
Nimic by Yorgos Lanthimos starring Matt Dillon

Nimic
Yorgos Lanthimos, Germany/UK/USA, 2019, 12m
North American Premiere
Matt Dillon stars as a professional cellist whose seemingly innocent question to a stranger results in weirdly repetitive consequences to his daily routine. Working with cinematographer Diego García (Cemetery of Splendor), Lanthimos lends his distressing, absurdist vision to the instruments, patterns, and lonesome gestures of modern city life.

Please Speak Continuously and Describe Your Experiences as They Come to You
Brandon Cronenberg, Canada, 2019, 9m
Brandon Cronenberg uses only in-camera effects to tell the hilarious, house-of-mirrors horror story of a patient at an experimental psychiatric facility (Deragh Campbell) who receives a brain implant that allows her to revisit dreams.

Austral Fever / Fiebre austral
Thomas Woodroffe, Chile, 2019, 21m
U.S. Premiere
After an injury places a teenager on bed rest, he and his adult caretaker develop an unusual attraction to his wound. Filmed mostly in dimly lit spaces with southern Chile’s mountain range as its backdrop, Austral Fever is a slow-burning, quietly perverse fantasy about cabin fever, addictive pleasures, and the mysteries of the human body.

The Marvelous Misadventures of the Stone Lady / Les Extraordinaires mésaventures de la jeune fille de Pierre
Gabriel Abrantes, France/Portugal, 2019, 20m
North American Premiere
A female sculpture escapes from the Louvre to experience the aggressive streets of contemporary Paris in this fairy-tale pastiche from Gabriel Abrantes. Slyly raising questions of liberation through crisply rendered CGI characters in direct contact with the harsher outside world, Abrantes critiques the power structures of venerable institutions without ever forgoing his ability to entertain.

Program 4: New York Stories (TRT: 98m)

This program, now in its fifth year, showcases work from some of the most exciting filmmakers living and working in New York today, including established names and ones to watch.
Programmed by Madeline Whittle and Tyler Wilson.

Good News
Joe Stankus, USA, 2019, 10m
World Premiere
Novelist Evan is excited to share the news that he’s been accepted to a prestigious summer writers’ colony with his husband and their friends over an intimate dinner party. But the big reveal doesn’t go as planned in this finely calibrated domestic-drama-in-miniature.

Caterina
Dan Sallitt, USA, 2019, 17m
World Premiere
Dan Sallitt intimately crafts a small-scale portrait of an inquisitive and compassionate young woman in this subtly episodic slice of life, following the eponymous protagonist through her ongoing, everyday search for connection among friends, lovers, and fellow travelers.

Moving
Adinah Dancyger, USA 2019, 8m
World Premiere
The act of transporting an old mattress into a new walk-up apartment becomes absurdist, cinematic one-woman choreography in this wordless vignette from Adinah Dancyger, full of humor and pathos, and painfully familiar to city-dwellers.

Foreign Powers
Bingham Bryant, USA, 2019, 17m
World Premiere
A nameless young woman recounts a peculiar dream, set in a mysterious fictional city and populated by her real-world friends and acquaintances, in Bingham Bryant’s vivid, precisely conceived exploration into the uncanny logic and banal strangeness of our subconscious wanderings.

the thing that kills me the most
Jay Giampietro, USA, 2019, 5m
World Premiere
Faces, voices, light: language itself is rendered abstract in this impressionistic fugue about fraught interpersonal dynamics at a weekly social engagement, narrated in retrospect by an exasperated fellow guest.

The Sky Is Clear and Blue Today
Ricky D’Ambrose, USA, 2019, 16m
World Premiere
Ricky D’Ambrose brings his trademark marriage of formalist rigor and sly narrative wit to this faux-documentary account of an American director developing an experimental film for German television about the events of September 11, 2001.

Fit Model
Myna Joseph, USA, 2019, 20m
World Premiere
In Myna Joseph’s deft depiction of a woman fiercely determined to get by on her own terms, Lu Simon (Lucy Owen) is a thirty-something struggling actor navigating day jobs and errands across the city, while juggling negotiations with an unhelpful hospital billing department.

Laying Out
Joanna Arnow, USA, 2019, 5m
World Premiere
This tersely lyrical meditation on sex and gender roles from Joanna Arnow features two fed-up mermaids lounging on a beach, drinks in hand, as they vent and commiserate over under-acknowledged frustrations and unspoken desires.

SPECIAL EVENTS

American Trial: The Eric Garner Story
Dir. Roee Messinger, USA, 100m
World Premiere
The idea is powerfully simple: engage the services of two actual legal teams to create a rigorous, legally based fictional—yet unscripted—trial that never happened for one of the nation’s most disturbing recent tragedies. The accused is Officer Daniel Pantaleo (only recently fired by New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill), charged in the July 17, 2014 death of Eric Garner with reckless manslaughter and strangulation in the first degree. The judge is played by a seasoned defense lawyer, while the officer is played by the only actor in the cast (Anthony Altieri). Eyewitnesses, bystanders, friends, and his widow, Esaw Snipes, all come to testify; meanwhile, credible expert witnesses who would have likely been called to testify in a real trial provide their testimonies for both the prosecution and the defense to create fair judicial proceedings. Roee Messinger’s film goes deep into the case, placing the audience in the position of the jury.  American Trial is a one-of-a-kind film, and this special screening will be free to the public.

The Cotton Club Encore
Dir. Francis Ford Coppola, U.S., 1984, 139m
It’s now clear that Francis Ford Coppola’s eighties constituted his most fruitfully experimental period of filmmaking, when he used the clout from such behemoth masterpieces of the previous decade as the Godfather films and Apocalypse Now to try his hand at films of various genres and budget levels. At the time, The Cotton Club, Coppola’s stylish throwback to those 1930s Hollywood standbys the gangster film and the musical, was considered a costly disappointment, altered seemingly irrevocably due to behind-the-scenes conflicts with producers and financiers. Yet this sophisticated, witty, wildly ambitious movie, starring Gregory Hines and Richard Gere, about the titular Harlem nightclub, where legendary black musicians like Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, and Duke Ellington performed for an exclusively white clientele, was always something special, a rousing American entertainment that was both an evocation of the work of such directors as Raoul Walsh and William Wellman and a loving recreation of the period itself. The brilliance of Coppola’s vision is more apparent than ever in this “reawakened” version, The Cotton Club Encore, for which the director recovered lost negatives to bring the film back to its original length and luster, with restored sound and image.

Joker
Dir. Todd Phillips, USA, 122m
The Joker began life on April 25, 1940 as the anarchic enemy of DC Comics’ Batman, and his appearance was possibly inspired by Conrad Veidt’s permanently, demonically smiling face from the 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs. The Joker has gone through many transformations and iterations, but his origin story has never been as vividly or shockingly imagined and realized as it is here, in one of the most anticipated films of the year. Join us for a special screening and discussion with the creative team behind this stunning, truly disturbing vision, led by director Todd Phillips and his brilliant star, Joaquin Phoenix. A Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and BRON Creative release.

Screenwriting Master Class with Olivier Assayas
Presented by Warby Parker
The amazing and eclectic career of French filmmaker Olivier Assayas has encompassed autobiography (Cold Water, Summer Hours, Something in the Air), contemporary meta-fiction (Irma Vep, demonlover, Clouds of Sils Maria), literary adaptation (Les destinées sentimentales), and in the case of the epic Carlos and his latest film in this year’s festival, the exhilarating Wasp Network, about a ring of Cuban refugees functioning as spies for the Castro government while living in Miami in the early nineties, intimate narratives based on true stories. In this special discussion, Assayas will talk about the process of turning real events into creative fictions. Starring Penélope Cruz and Édgar Ramirez, Wasp Network is based on Fernando Morais’s meticulously researched 2015 book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War.

TALKS

On Cinema: Martin Scorsese
In these annual special events, New York Film Festival Director Kent Jones sits down with world-renowned filmmakers for in-depth talks about films from other directors that have influenced them, their discussion illustrated with film clips. In the first of two On Cinema events that the festival is pleased to present this year, Jones will talk with Martin Scorsese, whose epic crime drama The Irishman is this year’s highly anticipated opening night event. Scorsese, known as much for his work as a film historian as for his unparalleled, decades-spanning cinematic career, will guide the audience through a selection of films that inspired this remarkable new work.

On Cinema: Pedro Almodóvar
Among the world’s most beloved auteurs, Pedro Almodóvar has shown films at the New York Film Festival eleven times over the past four decades. This year’s selection is perhaps his most personal film yet: Pain and Glory, starring a Cannes Film Festival–awarded Antonio Banderas in the role of a director—essentially a surrogate Almodóvar figure—who has reached a creative block. As with all of his films, there is a deep wellspring of emotion in Pain and Glory, as well as a rich tapestry of allusions and references to a cinematic past, which this conversation will help elucidate.

Directors Dialogues
The Directors Dialogues are the New York Film Festival’s annual series of intimate conversations, in which a selection of filmmakers from this year’s festival sit down for special Q&As to discuss the ideas and the craft behind their buzzed about newest works. Participating directors include:

Bong Joon-ho
The South Korean filmmaker, whose unpredictable and diverse filmography has taken us from the gonzo monster movie The Host to the intense, bloody melodrama of Mother to the graphic novel action of Snowpiercer, has created perhaps his masterpiece with this year’s Palme d’Or–winner Parasite. Bong will discuss his spring-trap-loaded comedy-drama-thriller with a social conscience—so make sure you see it first to not spoil its many surprises.

Mati Diop
Mati Diop

Mati Diop
The French-Senegalese director made perhaps the year’s most talked-about debut feature with Atlantics, which earned her the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. Both ghost and love story, the film feels unlike any other, hypnotic and supernatural yet grounded in the realities of life as it’s experienced by those living in contemporary, working-class Dakar. Diop will be on hand to discuss how she negotiated these registers and how she constructed her singular film.

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