Lincoln Center Awaits Arrival of New York Film Festival


Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe in Lars von Trier’s ”Antichrist,” which opens on Oct. 2 at the NYFF. (Courtesy of the film Society of Lincoln Center/ IFC Films)

Published: September 24, 2009

With fall drawing near and school starting, the opening of the 47th New York Film Festival (NYFF)inevitably approaches Fordham College at Lincoln Center’s back yard. The film festival kick-off is scheduled for Sept. 25 and will run until Oct. 11.  This 17-day cinema extravaganza, known for showcasing some of the best works of contemporary cinema, will feature 30 films by seasoned cinema vets such as Jacques Rivette and upcoming talents, like Samuel Maoz.

The festival will open with “Wild Grass (Les Herbes Folles),” the newest work by Alain Resnais, the French avant-garde director revered for his 1959 breakthrough film “Hiroshima Mon Amour.” “Wild Grass” tells the romantic adventure of two strangers, Georges and Marguerite, who become struck with curiosity after a chance meeting when Marguerite loses her wallet at an airport.  After finding a picture of Marguerite in her wallet, Georges, despite his marriage and children, obsessively attempts to reunite with his chance acquaintance and becomes lost in a whimsical exploration into his own darkly passionate feelings.   This film is based on the novel by Christian Gailly, and features some of France’s premier actors: Sabine Azéma, André Dussollier, Emmanuelle Devos and Mathieu Almaric. The showtime for “Wild Grass” is Sept. 25 at 6 p.m.

The centerpiece of this year’s festival will feature “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” directed by highly acclaimed American director and producer Lee Daniels. Daniels is best known for his work on the Academy Award -winning film “Monster’s Ball” and his acclaimed directorial debut “Shadowboxer” (nominated for the New Directors Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival). “Precious” is the horrific and heartbreaking story of an overweight and illiterate 16-year-old named Clareece “Precious” Jones, growing up in Harlem with an abusive mother and cruel father. Clareece strives to make something out of nothing and give herself a reason to survive another day. This film, which won the 2009 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award, Grand Jury Prize, and Special Jury Prize, features remarkable performances by Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey and break-out star Gabourey Sidibe. “Precious” is this year’s “Hustle and Flow” with an urban grittiness to match and will surely have the audience at the edge of their seats cheering for Clareece to get a second chance. The showtimes for “Precious” are Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

The closing night film will feature one of Spain’s most successful and internationally renowned directors, the multiple Oscar-winner Pedro Almodóvar with his newest masterpiece, “Broken Embraces (Los Abrazos Rotos).” Pedro Almodóvar is best known for “All About My Mother (Todo Sobre Mi Madre),” “Talk to Her (Hable Con Ella)” and his most recently acclaimed film, “Volver.” Dancing between comedy, romance and film noir, “Broken Embraces” tells the life of Harry Caine, a blind screenwriter, while he reveals his own secretive and tragic story and tries to come to terms with his current situation. Forbidden desires, shattered dreams and a journey into a lost poet’s blind spirit makes “Broken Embraces” a truly thought provoking film. All who see this film like its blind poet hero are sure to be trapped in the enchanting sirens call by the alluring performance of Academy Award winner Penelope Cruz as the blind screenwriter’s muse. The showtimes for “Broken Embraces” are Oct. 11 at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Look out, folks! Halloween has come early this year.  “Antichrist,” a film by renowned Danish director and Academy Award nominated Lars von Trier, was the most talked-about film from the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, and now, it has been added to the line-up of the NYFF. The self-proclaimed “best film director in the world,” Von Trier is largely known for his provocative and controversial films, which he believes distinguishes him from other directors. He is best known for his works, “The Idiots,” and “Dancer in the Dark.” His latest film, “Antichrist,” starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, tells the story of two lovers who, in an attempt to rekindle their love and fix their broken marriage, embark on a brutal journey into their own inner beasts.  This emotional thriller will have viewers feeling only slightly uncomfortable at first, but it is guaranteed to leave them in sheer horror by the end.  This vicious film of brutality and fear will surely not be forgotten in the annals of marital horror movies. The showtimes for “Antichrist” are Oct. 2 at 9 p.m. and Oct. 3 at 1 p.m.

Lastly, the NYFF will be showcasing the 70th anniversary edition of the timeless classic, “The Wizard of Oz,” directed by Victor Fleming.  This newly-restored version is sure to offer a delightful new experience and have everyone wishing upon a star “somewhere over the rainbow.”  This truly is a special opportunity for all to enjoy this treasured American classic; there is no better way to travel through the Land of Oz than “following the yellow brick road” on the big screen. The showtime for “The Wizard of Oz” is Sept. 26 at 11 a.m.