Sam Pollard, John Gianvito, Tsai Ming-liang
Sam Pollard, John Gianvito, Tsai Ming-liang

Film at Lincoln Center announced the Talks lineup for the 58th New York Film Festival (September 17 – October 11, 2020). Talks supplement NYFF’s screenings with a series of free and live panel discussions and in-depth conversations with a wide range of guests.

With virtual and drive-in screenings replacing the festival’s typical Lincoln Center events, this year’s Talks are an essential live, online meeting place for audiences, filmmakers, and the industry. The section includes a new series of talks called Crosscuts, featuring pairings of filmmakers across NYFF sections, genres, and styles, including conversations between Garrett Bradley (Time, Main Slate) and Ephraim Asili (The Inheritance, Currents), Sam Pollard (MLK/FBI, Main Slate) and John Gianvito (Her Socialist Smile, Currents), Matías Piñeiro (Isabella, Main Slate) and Nicolás Pereda (Fauna, Currents), Christian Petzold (Undine, Main Slate) and Heinz Emigholz (The Lobby, The Last City, Currents), and Valeria Sarmiento (The Tango of the Widower and Its Distorting Mirror, Currents) and the team behind Hopper/Welles (Spotlight).

Several roundtable discussions highlight thematic trends within this year’s program: Outside the Canon, with panelists from Light Industry, Spectacle Cinema, No Evil Eye microcinema, Upside Film Festival, and the DocYard; Rethinking World Cinema, which will feature trailblazing filmmakers from underrepresented regions within the festival circuit and international canon; and The Revolution Will Be Filmed, a panel about the cinematic depiction of global protest movements and police brutality, organized in conjunction with the festival premieres of Steve McQueen’s Small Axe films and The Monopoly of Violence.

Additional highlights include Deep Focus dialogues with Tsai Ming-liang (Days), Gianfranco Rosi (Notturno), and Marie-Claude Treilhou (Simone Barbes or Virtue) in conversation with Serge Bozon; and panels with Joyce Chopra and Joyce Carol Oates on the making of Smooth Talk, moderated by TCM host Alicia Malone; the shorts filmmakers of New York Stories; and critics and scholars on the legacies of James Baldwin and Muhammad Ali as seen in two rare Revivals films.

TALKS – 58th New York Film Festival

DEEP FOCUS

In-depth dialogues with festival filmmakers & their collaborators

The Women of Smooth Talk
Moderated by TCM host Alicia Malone
NYFF58 Revivals highlight Smooth Talk (1985) features the work of three powerhouse women: director Joyce Chopra; actress Laura Dern, in one of her first starring roles; and author Joyce Carol Oates, whose 1966 short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” provided the inspiration for the film. To celebrate the festival premiere of the film’s new restoration, tune in live for a conversation with Chopra and Oates—moderated by TCM host Alicia Malone—about the creative work of adaptation and the perennially resonant subject matter of a young woman’s early encounter with the powers and perils of her sexuality. Sponsored by TCM.

Tsai Ming-liang
An unparalleled portraitist of loneliness and longing, Tsai Ming-liang returns to NYFF with Days: his first feature since 2013’s Stray Dogs, and undoubtedly one of his best, sparest, and most intimate films. We are delighted to welcome the legendary Taiwanese director for an extended conversation about this latest entry in his masterful, decades-spanning oeuvre.

Marie-Claude Treilhou
Moderated by Serge Bozon
Forty years after its original release, Marie-Claude Treilhou’s “criminally overlooked” debut film Simone Barbes or Virtue remains vital and vivid in its depiction of a young woman’s nocturnal perambulations against the landscape of Parisian nightlife. Treilhou’s film was produced under the banner of Paul Vecchiali’s production house Les Films Diagonale, which the filmmaker and critic Serge Bozon (Mrs. Hyde, NYFF55) has characterized as “the last important school of French cinema after the New Wave.” Marking the NYFF58 Revivals premiere of the film’s new restoration, we’re honored to host Treilhou in a talk— moderated by Bozon—about the making and the enduring legacy of Simone Barbes.

The Making of Small Axe
With his bold and multifaceted Small Axe anthology, Steve McQueen has made the films of the moment. The three parts screening in the NYFF58 Main Slate—Lovers Rock, Mangrove, and Red, White and Blue—capture vividly the lives of London’s West Indian community in the 1970s and ’80s and their force of will against systemic racism and discrimination. “I dedicate these films to George Floyd, and all the other black people that have been murdered, seen or unseen, because of who they are, in the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere,” the director said in May. In this panel discussion, McQueen and his collaborators will dig into the making of this sprawling project and illuminate the artistic and political ambitions that have shaped it.

Gianfranco Rosi
Shot over three years along the war-wrecked borders of Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria, and Lebanon, Gianfranco Rosi’s Notturno is a transfixing, heartrending glimpse into the plight of those living through the rise of ISIS in the vacuum created by the U.S. invasion. The veteran documentary filmmaker, last seen at NYFF with 2016’s Fire at Sea, joins us to discuss his extraordinary body of immersive, empathetic, and urgent nonfiction.

CROSSCUTS

Conversations between filmmakers across festival sections, genres, and styles

Sam Pollard & John Gianvito
In Currents feature Her Socialist Smile and Main Slate selection MLK/FBI, veteran filmmakers John Gianvito and Sam Pollard interrogate cinematically the ways in which the intellectual and political contributions made by Helen Keller and Martin Luther King, Jr. to 20th-century progressive activism have been obscured or actively challenged across history. We’re excited to bring Pollard and Gianvito together to discuss their disparate formal, aesthetic, and discursive approaches, and the challenge of crafting art that resonates in the present moment while frankly reckoning with the untidy contours of the past.

Garrett Bradley & Ephraim Asili
Moderated by Yasmina Price
Garrett Bradley’s Time, a Main Slate selection, and Ephraim Asili’s The Inheritance, the Opening Night film of the Currents program, are two of NYFF8’s most formally inventive and politically astute films. Combining original and archival material in evocative and unpredictable ways, they engage deeply with radical Black legacies of both cinema and political organizing. Don’t miss this conversation between the two directors on their filmmaking practices, aesthetic influences, artistic visions, and more, moderated by writer and researcher Yasmina Price.

Matías Piñeiro & Nicolás Pereda
In Matías Piñeiro’s Isabella (Main Slate) and Nicolás Pereda’s Fauna (Currents), one never knows where performance ends and life begins. The two films meditate in poignant ways on storytelling as both an artistic and an everyday act: Isabella continues Piñeiro’s wryly quotidian takes on Shakespearean dramas, while Fauna unearths the violence haunting a Mexican village beneath a veneer of fabrications and arch comedy. In what is sure to be a conversation full of creative insight, the two filmmakers will chat about their shared affinities and inimitable idiosyncrasies.

Valeria Sarmiento & Filip Jan Rymsza/Bob Murawski
NYFF58 Spotlight selection Hopper/Welles and Currents selection The Tango of the Widower and Its Distorting Mirror share a spectral connection: they’re both dispatches from beyond the graves of legendary auteurs, respectively, Orson Welles and Raúl Ruiz. In this detailed discussion, the resurrectors of both films—director Filip Jan Rymzsa and editor Bob Murawski in the case of Hopper/Welles, and Valeria Sarmiento, the filmmaker, editor, and widow of Ruiz—will chat about the unique artistic and logistical process of fashioning a completed film out of the fragments left behind by an iconic filmmaker.

Christian Petzold & Heinz Emigholz
Two major auteurs of German cinema—and brilliant portraitists of modernity—bring sublime and surprising new works to this year’s NYFF. In Christian Petzold’s Main Slate selection Undine, a mythical tale of star-crossed lovers plays out against the architecture and industrial history of present-day Berlin. Heinz Emigholz’s The Last City and The Lobby—both featured in the festival’s Currents section—extend the director’s architectural and spatial preoccupations into playful, fictive realms of the uncanny. Catch the two filmmakers in an unmissable exchange about their common concerns, formal divergences, and cinematic philosophies.
Date and time to be announced

ROUNDTABLES

Panels and discussions that connect the festival to the themes of the moment

New York Stories
Join us for what is sure to be a lively, expansive roundtable with the directors featured in NYFF58’s New York Stories short film program, part of this year’s Currents section. These nine NYC-based filmmakers will discuss their working methods, influences, and creative networks, and the ways in which their filmmaking practices reflect and refract this most cinematic of cities. Participants include Sarah Friedland (Drills), Ricky D’Ambrose (Object Lessons, or: What Happened Whitsunday), Lewie and Noah Kloster (Shots in the Dark with David Godlis), Oliver Shahery (Wild Bill Horsecock), Neo Sora (The Chicken), Tayler Montague (In Sudden Darkness), and Jay Giampietro (The Isolated).

Outside the Canon
As discussions about reforming and expanding the cinematic canon rage on, some argue that it’s time to do away with it entirely—to imagine new and equitable structures, instead of trying to fix the old flawed ones. This roundtable discussion turns the spotlight on individuals and initiatives that bypass gatekeeping institutions, choosing instead to build alternative, collective, and grassroots methods of film distribution and exhibition. Participants include Abby Sun (curator, the DocYard, My Sight Is Lined with Visions), Vanessa McDonnell (co-creator, The Eyeslicer; programmer, Spectacle Theater), Rooney Elmi (co-founder, No Evil Eye microcinema; founding editor, SVLLY(wood)), Ajay Ram (Upside Film Festival), and Thomas Beard (co-founder and director, Light Industry; programmer-at-large, Film at Lincoln Center).

The Revolution Will Be Filmed
Multiple films in this year’s NYFF contend with global protest movements and the fight against police brutality: in the Main Slate, Mangrove and Red, White, and Blue from Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology chronicle the racist police violence experienced by London’s West Indian community in the 1970s and ’80s; David Dufresne’s Spotlight selection, The Monopoly of Violence, documents the state repression leveled against France’s “yellow vest” protesters. To expand on the timely questions raised by these films, we’re bringing together a group of film artists, writers, and scholars for a conversation about the cinematic representation of police brutality and revolutionary protest. Participants to be announced.

Rethinking World Cinema
This year’s NYFF features trailblazing filmmakers from around the globe who are not only reinventing world cinema, but challenging the very assumptions of that label. New York–educated Georgian filmmaker Dea Kulumbegashvili’s Beginning is the first feature film from her country to ever screen in the festival. Chaitanya Tamhane’s The Disciple brings back India—home to one of the biggest film industries in the world—to the NYFF Main Slate after 24 years. Ouvertures, a work of collective authorship by artists in Haiti, France, and the United Kingdom, defies national or geographic classifications. The directors of these films will join us for a discussion about breaking boundaries and inventing new international canons.

The Artist, the Athlete, and the Revolutionary
Among this year’s Revivals selections is a pair of intimate, rarely seen portraits of two towering figures of American history: Terrence Dixon’s Meeting the Man: James Baldwin in Paris and William Klein’s Muhammad Ali, the Greatest. In capturing the tensions experienced by both Baldwin and Ali as outspoken Black public figures in the ’70s, the films raise questions that are strikingly relevant to the present moment. Can artists and athletes act as political—perhaps even revolutionary—agents of change? And what are the double binds faced, in particular, by Black artists and athletes in the public eye? This roundtable brings together Soraya Nadia McDonald (critic, The Undefeated); Rich Blint (professor and writer, The New School); Samantha Sheppard (professor, Cornell University; author, Sporting Blackness); and Kazembe Balagun (project manager, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office) to reflect on these timely themes.

Festival Report
For the festival’s final week, a group of critics will gather together for a spirited discussion with Devika Girish, Assistant Editor of Film Comment and Film at Lincoln Center, about the movies they’ve seen in the NYFF58 lineup and their tales from the trenches of the pandemic-era festival. Participants to be announced.

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