New York Film Festival Sets This Year’s Cinematic Trends




At the end of every September, Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall becomes a hotspot for celebrities and cinephiles alike. Just last year, actors and actresses including Kate Winslet, Colin Farrell, Rooney Mara, Michael Fassbender, Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Winona Ryder and many more could be seen just two blocks from our campus. The reason: the 54rd New York Film Festival (NYFF), one of the biggest celebrations of movies in the country. In the past five years, NYFF has screened more than 30 Oscar nominees, including eventual Best Picture winners “The Artist” in 2011 and “Birdman” in 2014. Yet, aside from all of the new and exciting movies premiered every year, the festival is one of our city’s cultural institutions, placing in the ranks with Toronto, Venice and Cannes for the most important place for film in the world.

This year, the festival will host the World or American premieres of nearly twenty movies, ranging from documentaries to comedies to horror films, with the entire slate of films hailing from a total of 18 countries. This describes only the feature length movies being shown, with short films and revivals of classics taking place during the two weeks of the festival. This year the festival will open with the newest film from Ava DuVernay (“Selma”), a documentary called “The 13th” about the prison system’s oppression of African Americans. Other films include “Manchester By The Sea,” starring Casey Affleck and Kyle Chandler, and Jim Jarmusch’s “Patterson” starring Adam Driver.

The movies of the film festival are typically awe-inspiring and reach a level of quality that stuns. I myself was at the premieres of “The Martian” and “Brooklyn” last year and was blown away by both. Screenings are typically attended by cast and crew of the films, which often leads to interesting looks at the making of the films.

However, some of the best movies are those without the same level of celebrity attached. If you have any interest in the cultures of other countries, watching a film from a different country and seeing the director talk candidly about it is amazing and gives you a look at what really happens behind the scenes of fantastic films.

Unlike most film festivals across the world, NYFF does not award the best films screened, instead allowing each to stand on its own without competing with others. While this removes the entertainment value from the festival itself to a degree, it also allows for a more relaxed environment. Along similar lines, the NYFF is the only festival of this magnitude held in New York, with others often much smaller or held outside of Manhattan itself. Because of this, the festival is more likely to be attended by more notable celebrities, as many of them are locals to New York.

As one might have guessed, prices can be fairly steep. However, students can buy tickets at a significantly discounted price. Along with that, as a student, one can sign up for a membership with the Film Society of New York (the organization which runs the festival out of its theaters underneath Lincoln Center) for even cheaper tickets. Finally, there are a number of movies that have free screenings prior to and during the festival for members and the general public alike, with options ranging from classics to festival premieres. I was able to see three different classic movies for free over the course of a weekend, introducing me to some excellent films that I would never have seen otherwise.

The New York Film Festival is a type of event that could only happen in a city like ours. No where else can you walk down the street and accidentally bump into Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and only in New York could you stand 20 feet from Neil DeGrasse Tyson as you both look up at a lunar eclipse. But on top of all of that, the New York Film Festival is a place to sit back, relax, and watch a movie that will touch your soul and become a new favorite.

The New York Film Festival runs from Sept. 30 through Oct. 16. Tickets are on sale now. Information on showtimes and screenings can be found online at or at the box office of the Film Society on 65th street. Additional screenings are added throughout the festival, so follow the festival on Twitter or Facebook for updates, and check the website often. I hope to see you there!