Search Film Reviews

Thursday, August 13, 2015

NYFF Main Slate Analysis

Photo Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
NYFF Main Slate Analysis
By Joshua Handler

The 53rd New York Film Festival is almost upon us and the main slate is as exciting as ever. With 26 films in the main slate, the programming committee has chosen a diverse group of films from this year's festivals, along with a three huge world premieres. While Robert Zemeckis' The Walk and Don Cheadle's Miles Ahead had previously been announced as world premieres, today's announcement brought the world premiere of Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies. This announcement isn't surprising though given that the film opens on October 16 and Spielberg launched his Oscar juggernaut Lincoln at NYFF in 2012. Danny Boyle's Steve Jobs will be the festival's centerpiece, but that will not be the world premiere (the official world premiere has yet to be announced). 

As is typical of NYFF, the lineup is full of Cannes hits such as Hou Hsiao-hsien's The Assassin (Best Director-winner), Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster (Jury Prize-winner), Stéphane Brizé's The Measure of a Man (Best Actor-winner), Todd Haynes' Carol (Best Actress-winner), and a multitude of other Cannes hits.

Taking after a trend set by last year's NYFF, the selection committee programmed two films from Sundance, John Crowley's awards-contender, Brooklyn, and Michael Almereyda's Experimenter, the most surprising inclusion on the main slate. The film hasn't generated much buzz and hasn't had much festival play, so it's interesting to see it appear at NYFF. 

Also surprising is the lack of films from Sony Pictures Classics. While they recently bought Miles Ahead, none of their Cannes acquisitions such as László Nemes' Son of Saul or Hirokazu Koreeda's Our Little Sister are in NYFF. That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if their Sundance acquisition, Louise Osmond's Dark Horse, appears in the documentary sidebar (it also wouldn't be surprising if Kent Jones' Hitchcock/Truffaut, Frederick Wiseman's In Jackson Heights, Sydney Pollack's Amazing Grace, and Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow's De Palma show up there as well). 

Distributor-wise, Kino Lorber has a massive showing with Miguel Gomes' three-part Arabian Nights, Stéphane Brizé's The Measure of a Man, Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson's The Forbidden Room, and Jia Zhangke's Mountains May Depart. Magnolia also has a nice showing with Michael Almereyda's Experimenter and Arnaud Desplechin's My Golden Days. Fox Searchlight and The Weinstein Company have one film each, Brooklyn and Carol, respectively.

Quite a few films don't have distribution, though, such as Michael Moore's Where To Invade Next, Rebecca Miller's Maggie's Plan, Michel Gondry's Microbe & Gasoline, and Laura Israel's Don't Blink: Robert Frank (another NYFF world premiere).

As usual, the New York Film Festival promises to be an enriching festival that is becoming increasingly important in fall festival/awards season. Over the past few years, studios have begun world-premiering their awards contenders at NYFF such as Life of Pi, Flight, LincolnCaptain Phillips, Her, Gone Girl, Citizenfour, and Inherent Vice. All of the aforementioned films were nominated for or won major Oscars. This bodes well for The Walk, Steve Jobs, Bridge of Spies, and Miles Ahead

The New York Film Festival runs September 25-October 11. 

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