Resnais and Almodóvar bookend world-flavored NYFF lineup

Posted by · 5:54 am · August 12th, 2009

Penelope Cruz in Broken EmbracesindieWIRE has the full lineup for this year’s New York Film Festival, which runs from 25 September to 11 October, and at a glance, it looks remarkably like a greatest-hits lineup from May’s Cannes festival.

This year, both the NYFF’s opening and closing films have been plucked from the Croisette. Alain Resnais’s “Wild Grass,” for which the 87 year-old New Wave master received a special career-achievement award at Cannes, will kick off proceedings, marking the second year in a row that a French title has taken this high-profile slot.

Palme d’Or winner “The Class” opened NYFF last year en route to an Oscar nod. Whether a similar path awaits Resnais’s film, a high-flown romantic melodrama which was very warmly reviewed in Cannes, of course depends on what the French choose as their entry from a bumper crop of possibilities.

Meanwhile, Pedro Almodóvar’s “Broken Embraces” (which opens in the UK later this month) will close the festival, a task that fell to “The Wrestler” last year. For a film that has received mixed reviews upon its domestic release in March and again at its Cannes premiere, this is a considerable boost for its Stateside profile ahead of its Oscar-friendly November release date.

I saw and reviewed the film a month ago, and am still resolving my mixed feelings about it, though its a stunning feat of craft, steeped in film lore, that should make for an appropriate festival finale.

Among the films filling the Resnais-Almodóvar sandwich are two inevitable selections from Cannes: Michael Haneke’s lavishly acclaimed Palme d’Or champ “The White Ribbon” and a little film we have mentioned once or twice called “Antichrist.” (My review here.)

Other titles resurfacing at Cannes are “Police, Adjective,” which more than one critic declared best in show on the Croisette and duly took Un Certain Regard honors, and Marco Bellocchio’s biopic of Mussolini’s “secret wife,” for which Italian megastar Giovanna Mezzogiorno has garnered much European buzz.

As you may have gathered by now, it’s a decidedly international lineup: other notable selections include Claire Denis’s “White Material” and Jacques Rivette’s “36 Views of Saint-Loup Peak,” both of which will premiere at Venice next month, as well as Catherine Breillat’s “Bluebeard” and Bong Joon-ho’s “Mother,” which has just been selected as Korea’s Oscar entry. (More on that later.)

By contrast, the home team is looking rather injured, as only four American titles feature in the lineup. One of them, however, is a biggie: Sundance sensation “Precious” has been afforded the prestigious Centerpiece slot (held last year by “Changeling”), which will no doubt stand it in good stead for a significant awards-season run.

That aside, however, this year’s NYFF looks like a very foreign affair indeed. Vive la différence, and all that. More here.

→ 7 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

7 responses so far

  • 1 8-12-2009 at 6:50 am

    Mike_M said...

    I assume the Antichrist will be the uncut version?

  • 2 8-12-2009 at 7:41 am

    Ziyad Abul Hawa said...

    Does In Contention hate me? It almost never let’s me post a coment >.<

    For the third time I try… Guy, the link for "Reviewed" for Los Abrazos Rotos is to Indiewire.

  • 3 8-12-2009 at 10:53 am

    Labuza Movies said...

    Calling NYFF bad because of the Cannes heavy line-up I think is always an unjustified comment. Last year I talked to selection committee member Kent Jones about this, and you have to remember this—unless you live in Southern France or are a paid journalist/studio rep, you aren’t going to Cannes.

    NYFF doesn’t give out awards, they don’t really prioritize films, and its more for fans of cinema than anything else. This is for people who can’t leave to go to Cannes, Venice, or Toronto, and truly wish to see these films. Maybe journalists don’t enjoy a festival that’s more or less what they’ve already seen, but for the rest of the proletariat, NYFF is a grand opportunity.


  • 4 8-12-2009 at 12:52 pm

    Encore Entertainment said...

    Seeing that Changeling had that spot do you think it [meaning Precious] will be heading in that direction? Personally I liked Changeling…did you Guy?

  • 5 8-12-2009 at 1:46 pm

    Jilpen said...

    You mean not nominated for Best Picture? I highly doubt that a film’s position can determine it’s Oscar clout when you’re simply comparing it to another film that had that position. No Country For Old Men also had the Centerpiece spot.

  • 6 8-12-2009 at 3:13 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Mike: I assume so.

    Ziyad: We certainly don’t hate you! Anytime a commenter puts a link in a comment, it automatically gets withheld until we can approve it. Anyway, thanks for the correction … fixed now.

  • 7 8-12-2009 at 3:22 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Labuza: You’re putting words in my mouth — where in the article do I say that the NYFF’s drawing heavily on Cannes is a bad thing?

    The London Film Festival is similar in that it cherry-picks highlights from the year’s other festivals for the benefit of the public and non-travelling critics — and as someone who doesn’t get to go to Cannes either, I love them for it. So I’m all in favour of the NYFF’s approach. Your rant is misplaced.

    Encore: I really didn’t like “Changeling” at all. But as Jilpen says, I don’t think having the same NYFF slot means the films’ trajectories will be at all similar. It’s an auspicious slot … but if the critics don’t bite, as was the case with “Changeling,” that doesn’t make much of a difference.