James Gray was just a year out of film school when he shot this wrenching, deeply personal Brighton Beach-set crime drama about the slow implosion of a Russian-Jewish family. By the film’s release, he had developed a reputation as one of America’s most inventive genre filmmakers, earned the admiration of Claude Chabrol, and guided Tim Roth to a career-highlight performance as a hitman on the outs with his employers, struggling not to implicate his younger brother in his criminal life. Inspired in equal measure by the paintings of Edward Hopper and the elegiac earth-tones of New Hollywood, Little Odessa has a visual sensibility all its own, and confirmed Gray as a major new talent in world cinema.

James Gray's new film The Immigrant is screening in the Main Slate of the 51st New York Film Festival.