No (high profile) secret screening for NYFF this year?

Posted by · 11:50 pm · October 7th, 2013

While films like “Hugo” and “Lincoln” may have received their first looks at the annual New York Film Festival via “secret screenings” in recent years, attendees can probably stop holding their breath for another surprise at the on-going 51st annual.

At least, that’s what Jeff Wells is hearing, and since we’re just a few days away from closing night, and given the fact that there’s really nothing to choose from, it seems fair to call it here. The last I heard officially from the festival, as of late last week, was “we don’t know yet.”

Over the last few years, NYFF has upped its profile, bringing in glitzy exclusive premieres like “The Social Network,” “My Week with Marilyn,” “Life of Pi” and “Captain Phillips.” They’ve kept the allure going with secret screenings also exclusive to the festival (in the case of “Lincoln,” stepping on the toes of LA-based AFI Fest, which had the film scheduled for a world premiere).

This year a handful of titles had been rumored as possible, with Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” at the top of the list, given the hometown flavor and the “Hugo” bow from 2011. But the film was not going to be ready in time for its Nov. 15 release date, let alone a public screening in October.

Other possibilities included Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” which is set for a world premiere at the BFI London Film Festival and a North American premiere at AFI Fest and therefore would have potentially caused a stir with both; Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher,” which was on course to be screened for press in mid-October before it was moved to 2014; the Christian Bale starrer “American Hustle,” which is still undergoing the process of test screening and hasn’t yet found its groove; and George Clooney’s “The Monuments Men,” which won’t even be scored until the end of the month.

Ridley Scott’s “The Counselor” was never in the cards, though I’ve heard Scott Cooper’s “Out of the Furnace” was offered a spot, but that Relativity turned down the opportunity in favor of bowing at AFI Fest just before the film’s Dec. 6 release date instead. And Wells is reporting that footage of Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was viewed by festival brass but that the film would not be ready to show.

So, apologies to NYFFers. Better luck next year.

UPDATE: I somehow missed this verbiage when NYFF announced a screening of Jean-Luc Godard’s “Vivre sa vie.” And again, I was nevertheless told, after this release, “we don’t know yet.” So anyway:

“Leading up to the 51st New York Film Festival, there’s been a lot of speculation about a potential surprise screening in the vein of NYFF50’s sneak of Steven Spielberg’s ‘Lincoln’ and NYFF49’s work in progress screening of Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo.’ Would it be Scorsese’s ‘Wolf of Wall Street?’ Or maybe George Clooney’s ‘Monument Men?’ Or perhaps some other awards-buzzed upcoming release?

“Here at Film Society, we think a surprise isn’t a surprise unless it’s surprising. So this year, we’re looking back instead of forward and are thrilled to announce an amazing treat for true film lovers. On Friday, October 4 at 9:00pm, we’ll be screening Jean Luc-Godard’s 1962 masterpiece ‘Vivre sa vie’ on Alice Tully Hall’s giant screen in a 35mm print courtesy of Janus Films.”

The 51st annual New York Film Festival rounds out Saturday with the world premiere of “Her.”

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