September 20 – 26
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This year’s New York Film Festival features new titles from many of the brightest names in contemporary world cinema. For the week leading up to Opening Night, audiences will have a rare chance to catch up with some of the finest previous work from these filmmakers. Revelatory debuts by James Gray and Hirokazu Kore-eda, rarely-screened documentaries by Claude Lanzmann and Jia Zhangke, and unconventional theater adaptations from Abdellatif Kechiche and Arnaud Desplechin share the bill with landmark films by Claire Denis, Paul Greengrass, Spike Jonze, Tsai Ming-liang and more. From modern classics to elusive deep cuts, there’s something here for the festival veteran and the neophyte alike.
Anchored by a go-for-broke comic performance from Nicolas Cage and visionary direction from the great Spike Jonze, Adaptation is one of the canonical on-screen depictions of the creative process, and one of the most imaginative American films of the new century.
Voted the best avant-garde film of the past decade in a 2011 Film Comment poll, Peter Hutton’s large-scale, compressed epic follows a massive container ship from its construction in South Korea to its lifetime out on the water to its final dismantling in Bangladesh.
Claire Denis’s loose retelling of Billy Budd, set among a troop of Foreign Legionnaires stationed in the Gulf of Djibouti, is one of her finest films, an elemental story of misplaced longing and frustrated desire. Preceded by: The Meaning of Style (Phil Collins, 5m).
A retelling of the British massacre of Northern Irish civil rights marchers in 1972 that showcases Paul Greengrass’s signature ability to make the recent past seem viscerally present, Bloody Sunday often feels watching history unfold in real time.
In Abdellatif Kechiche’s César-sweeping second feature, a group of foul-mouthed teens from the Paris banlieues act out their own romantic roundelay during a school production of Marivaux’s 18th-century comedy of manners Games of Love and Chance.
In a near-future Philippines kept under lockdown by a heavily contested military regime, poet-cum-freedom-fighter Hesus travels the country fleeing government authorities in Lav Diaz’s dystopian fable of philosophical rigor and barely muted anger.
Arguably Philippe Garrel’s masterpiece, I Can No Longer Hear the Guitar is a surpassingly delicate meditation on love, loss and the passage of time... One of the greatest of the ‘90s. —Kent Jones, Film Comment
James Gray was just out of film school when he shot this wrenching, deeply personal crime drama about the slow implosion of a Russian-Jewish family, establishing himself one of America’s most inventive genre filmmakers and guiding Tim Roth to a career-highlight performance.
One of Japan’s foremost contemporary filmmakers made his feature debut with this delicate portrait of loss and regeneration about a young, widowed mother who, despite re-marrying, struggles with an ache she can’t soothe or name.
Featuring career-highlight turns from John Turturro as a sniveling informant and Marcia Gay Harden as a jaded gangster’s moll, the Coen Brothers’ third feature is one of their finest moments, and a high point of the ’90s gangster film revival.
A successful painter facing pot possession charges flees his sleepy Korean home for the streets of Paris in Hong Sang-Soo’s ambling portrait of mid-life male discombobulation, whose late-film swerve into fantasy caps the whole thing off with a mischievous question mark.
Arnaud Desplechin does for Edward Bond’s play what Louis Malle did for Uncle Vanya: the dramatic action itself, shot with a hyperactive handheld camera, alternates with footage of the actors auditioning, rehearsing, and gearing up to perform.
With this slow-burn slice of supernatural horror, Kiyoshi Kurosawa took a now-familiar premise—ghosts making contact with the living through computer monitors and laptop screens—and spun it into an unsettling reflection on isolation, impotence and loss.
Tsai Ming-Liang’s third feature is at once overtly metaphorical and deeply committed to the ebb and flow of everyday life: a film about individuals in crisis that builds patiently to a devastating emotional climax.
More than just an epilogue to Shoah, Claude Lanzmann’s interview with a Holocaust survivor named Yehuda Lerner about the uprising at Sobibor, a Nazi extermination in eastern Poland, is a rebuttal to the dominant mythology of Jewish acquiescence and martyrdom.
The second documentary feature by acclaimed director Jia Zhangke (Platform, The World) is a three-part, multi-angle reflection on the clothing industry that suggests a modern China in flux, struggling to close a series of ever-widening internal divisions.