Jean-Luc Godard's Vivre sa vie. Image courtesy of FILMS DE LA PLEIADE / THE KOBAL COLLECTION.

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. And if that's not enticing enough, tickets are only $10 and are on sale now!

“This is a great movie,” noted Roger Ebert of the film, “and I am not surprised to find Susan Sontag describing it as 'one of the most extraordinary, beautiful, and original works of art that I know of.'” Manny Farber described it as “a film of extraordinary purity” and 12 critics and nine filmmakers put Vivre sa vie on their 10 best films ever made list in the last Sight and Sound poll.

Jean-Luc Godard's Vivre sa vie. Image courtesy of FILMS DE LA PLEIADE / THE KOBAL COLLECTION.

Godard's history with the New York Film Festival goes back to the very first edition of the festival in 1963, when we screened Ro.Go.Pa.G, a collection of four short films by Roberto Rossellini, Godard, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Ugo Gregoretti. Since then, his works—long, short, and in between—have appeared in the festival two dozen times, more than any other filmmaker. His most recent film to screen at Alice Tully Hall came 47 years after his NYFF debut: Film Socialisme in 2010.

Friday's screening is also the perfect way to kick off our huge retrospective of Godard's films, which is co-curated by NYFF Director of Programming Kent Jones and Jake Perlin. The series starts during the festival with screenings of Alphaville, Forever Mozart, Hail Mary, and Weekend and continues through the end of October. If you haven't checked out the lineup yet, now's the time.

“There’s the Jean-Luc Godard retrospective which is a massive, insane undertaking,” Jones joked recently during an overview of NYFF51. “Who would think of doing such a thing? Oh yeah, it was me.”

Jean-Luc Godard's Vivre sa vie. Image courtesy of FILMS DE LA PLEIADE / THE KOBAL COLLECTION.

So while you won't get to see another of this year's Oscar contenders a few weeks early, we're betting you're on the same page as we are when we say this is a once-in-a-lifetime viewing opportunity and, to put it crudely, a cinephile's wet dream!

Of the motivation behind showing Vivre sa vie on Friday, Jones explained: “I guess the point is to show one of Godard's greatest films, one of the greatest films ever made, on the big, glorious screen in Alice Tully Hall—a film that predated the New York Film Festival, by the way.”

Hard to argue with that.