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On July 9, 2009, I received an email from Pierre Rissient that read, simply, “Do you know the email and phone of Dan Talbot? It is urgent.” I never knew exactly what was so urgent, but I took it for granted that it was a matter of cinema. For Pierre and Dan, two genuine heroes, everything to do with cinema was urgent. This year’s retrospective section pays tribute to both men, who passed away within six months of each other. Below, you’ll read about the crucial roles they played in movie culture, embedded within descriptions of some films that they treasured. —Kent Jones

Tribute to Dan Talbot

Before the Revolution

  • Bernardo Bertolucci
  • 1964
  • Italy
  • 105 minutes
Bernardo Bertolucci’s masterful second feature is a deeply personal portrait of a generation gripped by political uncertainty set in the director’s hometown of Parma.

Straub-Huillet Program

  • Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet
  • West Germany
  • 96 minutes
These three films by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, often shown together, are among their very best, daring short films based on works by Heinrich Böll and Ferdinand Bruckner.

The Ceremony

  • Nagisa Oshima
  • 1971
  • Japan
  • 123 minutes
Oshima’s disarmingly atmospheric portrait of a family’s collective psychopathology recounts the saga of the Sakurada clan, whose decline plays out over the course of 25 years and multiple funerals and weddings.

Every Man for Himself

  • Jean-Luc Godard
  • 1980
  • France/Austria/West Germany/Switzerland
  • 87 minutes
  • French with English subtitles
What Godard called his “second first film” is a moving portrait of restless, intertwining lives, and the myriad forms of self-debasement and survival in a capitalist state, with Jacques Dutronc, Nathalie Baye, Isabelle Huppert, and, in an unforgettable anti-cameo, the voice of Marguerite Duras.

The American Friend

  • Wim Wenders
  • 1977
  • West Germany/France
  • 125 minutes
Dennis Hopper is the sociopathic charmer Tom Ripley, transformed by Wenders into an urban cowboy peddler of forged paintings who ensnares Bruno Ganz’s gravely ill Swiss-born art framer into a plot to assassinate a Mafioso. This brooding, dreamlike thriller conjures a world ruled by chaos.

The Marriage of Maria Braun

  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder
  • 1979
  • West Germany
  • 120 minutes
This 1979 film about a poor German soldier’s wife (Hanna Schygulla) who uses her wiles and savvy to rise as a businesswoman and take part in the “wirtschaftwunder” or postwar economic miracle, became Fassbinder’s first art-house hit.

My Dinner with André

  • Louis Malle
  • 1981
  • U.S.
  • 35mm
  • 110 minutes

Q&A with Annie Baker and Wallace Shawn

By turns entertaining, confessional, funny, and moving, My Dinner with André depicts an encounter between playwrights Wallace Shawn and André Gregory as they discuss mortality, money, despair, and love over a meal at an Upper West Side restaurant.

Tribute to Pierre Rissient

Manila in the Claws of Light

  • Lino Brocka
  • 1975
  • Phillipines
  • 124 minutes
As Todd McCarthy wrote, it was Pierre who “single-handedly brought the work of the late Filipino director Lino Brocka to the world’s attention.” This searing melodrama, with Bembel Roco and Hilda Koronel as doomed lovers, is one of Brocka’s greatest.

A Touch of Zen

  • King Hu
  • 1971/75
  • Hong Kong
  • 200 minutes
Supreme fantasist, Ming dynasty scholar, and incomparable artist, King Hu elevated the martial-arts genre to unparalleled heights; three years in the making, this was his greatest film.

Time Without Pity

  • Joseph Losey
  • 1957
  • UK
  • 85 minutes
In this consummately tense noir, one of Joseph Losey’s greatest films, a recovering alcoholic (Michael Redgrave) has a mere 24 hours to prove the innocence of his son, accused of murdering his girlfriend.

Play Misty for Me

  • Clint Eastwood
  • 1971
  • USA
  • 102 minutes
Clint Eastwood’s first film, about a casual romantic encounter between a Northern California DJ (played by the director) and a woman named Evelyn (Jessica Walter) that turns harrowingly obsessive, is an essential film from an essential moment in cinema known as Hollywood in the ’70s.

Mother India

  • Mehboob Khan
  • 1957
  • India
  • 172 minutes
This seminal Bollywood film is about the trials and tribulations of a poor villager caught in the historic whirlwind of the struggles endured in her country after gaining its independence from Britain.

House by the River

  • Fritz Lang
  • 1950
  • USA
  • 89 minutes
There were few filmmakers whose work Pierre Rissient revered more than Fritz Lang, whom he counted among his friends, and this wild gothic period melodrama, made at Republic Pictures, starring Louis Hayward and Jane Wyatt, was one of his favorites.

The Man I Love

  • Raoul Walsh
  • 1947
  • USA
  • 96 minutes
This 1947 film, somewhere between noir, musical, and melodrama, is one of Raoul Walsh’s least recognized and most moving, with Ida Lupino as a Manhattan lounge singer who heads to Los Angeles to live with her family and start a new life.

Three Documentaries on Cinema

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché

  • Pamela B. Green
  • 2018
  • USA
  • 103 minutes

Q&A with Pamela B. Green and Jodie Foster

This energetic documentary tells the story of Alice Guy-Blaché, a true pioneer who got into the movie business in 1894, at the age of 21 before becoming head of production at Gaumont and directing films. Narration by Jodie Foster.

Introduzione all’Oscuro

  • Gastón Solnicki
  • 2018
  • Argentina/Austria
  • 71 minutes

North American Premiere · Q&A with Gastón Solnicki on September 30

Gastón Solnicki (Kékszakállú, NYFF54) pays tribute to his great friend Hans Hurch, one-time film critic and assistant to Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet, in this moving communion with a friend whose presence is felt in the memory of the places, the people, the coffee, and the films he loved.

Searching for Ingmar Bergman

  • Margarethe von Trotta
  • 2018
  • Germany/France
  • 99 minutes

U.S. Premiere · Q&A with Margarethe von Trotta on October 8

On the occasion of Ingmar Bergman’s centenary comes this lovely, personal film from one of his greatest admirers, Margarethe von Trotta, a tribute from an artist with such a deep affinity for the subject.