Nicole Kidman in Lee Daniels' The Paperboy.

A pair of gala tributes—honoring both actress Nicole Kidman and Film Society program director Richard Peña—will anchor the upcoming 50th New York Film Festival (September 28 – October 14, 2012).

Nicole Kidman will be the festival's first honoree at an Alice Tully Hall event that will include an on stage conversation as well as a screening of Lee Daniels's latest, The Paperboy. The film, starring Kidman alongside Zac Efron, John Cusack & Matthew McConaughey, has been added to the Main Slate for the upcoming festival. During the second half of NYFF, the festival will salute longtime leader Richard Peña, who is leaving his role as Film Society program director and head of the fest's selection committee at the end of this year. The 50th NYFF caps his acclaimed 25 year run as the festival's artistic chief.

These new festival tributes were created this year to celebrate the work of those in film who've made significant artistic contributions to film culture in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

On Oscar winner for her role in Stephen Daldry's The Hours, Nicole Kidman turned heads when she worked with Gus Van Sant in To Die For. She proved her passion for bold cinema with roles in Lars Von Trier's Dogville and Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut and has also worked with filmmakers Baz Lurhman in Moulin Rouge, Jonathan Glazer in Birth, Anthony Minghella in Cold Mountain, Noah Baumbach in Margot at the Wedding and recently John Cameron Mitchell in Rabbit Hole. Kidman was recently nominated for an Emmy for her performance in HBO's Hemingway & Gelhorn.

In The Paperboy, Nicole Kidman plays the sultry Florida fiancée of a death row inmate (John Cusack). Working with a local journalist (Matthew McConaughey), she gets to know the writer's younger brother (Zac Efron), who develops an interest in her. The film, one of the most talked about entries at Cannes this year, will be released this fall by Millenium Entertainment. 

“Nicole Kidman is one of film's finest contemporary actresses,” the Film Society's Richard Peña said in a statement today, “Since her breakthrough performance in To Die For and her bold and provocative appearances in Lars Von Trier's Dogville, Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut, as well as her awarding-winning portrayal of Virginia Woolf in Stephen Daldry's The Hours, Kidman has insisted on finding roles that are complex, bold and demanding. We are excited to honor her with a tribute at the New York Film Festival.”

Film Society Program Director and Head of the NYFF Selection Committee Richard Peña. Photo by Tom Hall.

The festival's second honoree, Richard Peña joined the Film Society of Lincoln Center in 1988, prior to the opening of the Walter Reade Theater in the early 90s. For many, his name is synonymous with that of the New York Film Festival itself.

As detailed nearly a year ago when Peña first announced his plans, he attended his first New York Film Festival in 1965, immediately falling in love with the festival at age twelve. He explained that his aunt brought him to NYFF to see Erich von Stroheim's The Wedding March back in '65. He's attended the Festival every year since, with the exception of one when he was traveling in South America.

Calling the New York Film Festival “a beacon for people who truly believed film was important and interesting and should be challenging and provocative,” last year Peña called the New York Film Festival his university. He immersed himself in the festival, which offered an education in cinema, from a young age. “I saw so many great films in the festival. Films which really marked the way I think about film and certainly what my work would be in the future.”

“I would never have been able to work for the New York Film Festival if it hadn't taught me what I know about cinema,” Richard Peña said in a FilmLinc interview during last year's festival. 

Richard Peña will be saluted during a special night at Alice Tully Hall during the second half of the 50th New York Film Festival.

“It is very fitting that we celebrate the 50th birthday of the New York Film Festival by honoring the man who has guided the festival's artistic vision for the last 25 years,” Film Society executive director Rose Kuo said in a statement today, “Richard Pena helped us discover directors like Pedro Almodovar, Abbas Kiarostami, Olivier Assayas, Lars Von Trier and Hou Hsiao-hsien, making an indelible contribution to film culture in New York CIty and around the world. We hope that his friends and colleagues will join us for a special evening to celebrate his achievements.”

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the New York Film Festival, you can become a Film Society Member for just $50! So don't wait… join now!

General Public tickets for the 50th New York Film Festival go on sale September 9. There will be a pre-sale ticketing period for Film Society Patrons and Members prior to that date. Join Film Society by August 29 to take advantage of this priority period. For more info on attending the 50th NYFF, please visit the NYFF Tickets section of the website.