Film at Lincoln Center unveiled today the poster for the 58th New York Film Festival (September 17 – October 11), designed by filmmaker, artist, and “Pope of Trash,” John Waters. 

Waters’s NYFF58 poster is both a fond tribute and witty parody of the historic festival, poking fun at the long-held stereotypes, valid critiques, and presumed pomp and circumstance of the annual Lincoln Center event. The concept was developed before the current health crisis, in collaboration with and inspired by Globe Poster, the legendary press of Waters’s hometown. Founded in 1929 in Baltimore, Maryland, Globe Poster delivered eye-catching posters to promote concerts, drag races, circuses, carnivals, and more. Fluorescent colors, bold wood type, and lettering that shook and shimmied defined Globe’s iconic style, attracting clients from James Brown and Marvin Gaye to Tina Turner and the Beach Boys. Waters’s design stands in stark contrast to the current realities of city life and moviegoing with a much-needed sense of humor—there will be no waiting in line amongst intellectuals at this year’s unique festival! 

Of the design, John Waters said, “Since none of my films were ever chosen to be in the New York Film Festival, I was thrilled to be asked to design this year’s poster. I always knew I’d get my ass in there somehow! What better way to show my respect and irreverence for this prestigious event than to bring along Globe Poster, Baltimore’s famous press that promoted the best rock-and-roll shows all over America for decades? Trashy? Classic? Maybe it’s all the same in 2020 when we have to reinvent moviegoing itself.”

The color layers of the NYFF58 poster will be silkscreen printed, and the black text and images will be letterpress printed—employing a signature combination that Globe has used for decades—on Cougar 130lb natural paper. Globe ceased production in 2010, and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) stepped forward to purchase a substantial portion of the press, including wood type, letterpress cuts, and posters. The acquisition by MICA keeps Globe’s legacy alive as a working press, a teaching tool, and source for research.

Ever the filth elder, Waters has also selected a shock-epic double feature to be added to NYFF58’s Revivals section. Entitled John Waters Presents: Art Movie Hell at the Drive-In, the double bill includes Gaspar Noé’s frenetic dance into madness, Climax, and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s infamously grotesque—and masterful—Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom. Screening details to be announced soon.

The limited edition NYFF58 posters are available now for pre-order.

NYFF posters are a yearly artistic signature of the film festival, and Waters joins a stellar lineup of artists whose work has been commissioned for the poster design, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, David Hockney, Julian Schnabel, Cindy Sherman, and last year’s artist, Pedro Almodóvar. A link to download the new poster design, alongside the complete list of NYFF poster artists to date, can be found below. 

Waters has a long-standing connection with Film at Lincoln Center. In 2014, he was the subject of a 10-day FLC retrospective entitled “Fifty Years of John Waters: How Much Can You Take?,” the first complete survey of his work in the United States. And in 2019, he was a presenter at the organization’s 50th Anniversary Gala. 

He has written and directed 16 movies including Pink Flamingos, Polyester, Hairspray, Cry-Baby, Serial Mom, and A Dirty Shame. He is a photographer whose work has been shown in galleries all over the world, and the author of eight books: Shock Value, Crackpot, Pink Flamingos and Other Trash, Hairspray, Female Trouble and Multiple Maniacs, Art: A Sex Book (co-written with Bruce Hainley), Role Models, Carsick, and Mr. Know-It-All, The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder. The gift book, Make Trouble, published by Algonquin Books in 2017, features the text, with illustrations, of the commencement speech Waters delivered at the 2015 Rhode Island School of Design graduation ceremony; it was subsequently released as an audio album in 7” single format by Third Man Records.

John Waters is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.  Additionally, he is a past member of the boards of The Andy Warhol Foundation and Printed Matter, a former member of the Wexner Center International Arts Advisory Council, and was selected as a juror for the 2011 Venice Biennale. Mr. Waters also serves on the Board of Directors for the Maryland Film Festival and has been a key participant in the Provincetown International Film Festival (PIFF) since it began in 1999, the same year Waters was honored as the first recipient of PIFF’s “Filmmaker on the Edge” award. In May 2015, Waters was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts by the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and the same by the Maryland Institute College of Arts (MICA) in May 2016. In the Fall of 2015, the British Film Institute also honored John’s 50-year contribution to cinema with their own program called “It isn’t Very Pretty… The Complete Films of John Waters (Every Goddam One of Them…)” The French Minister of Culture bestowed the rank of Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters to Mr. Waters in 2015. In February 2017, John Waters was honored with the Writers Guild of America, East’s Ian McLellan Hunter Award for his body of work as a writer in motion pictures. “Indecent Exposure”, a retrospective of Waters’s art, was exhibited at the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio from 2018 to 2019.

Since 1963, the New York Film Festival has been a centerpiece of New York’s arts scene: an annual bellwether of the state of cinema that has shaped film culture in the city and beyond. Festival organizers will keep this tradition alive while adapting as necessary to the current health crisis. The safety of audiences and staff is Film at Lincoln Center’s first priority. The 58th edition of NYFF will focus on outdoor and virtual screenings, as directed by state and health officials. 

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema. The festival continues a long-standing tradition of introducing audiences to bold and remarkable works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on September 11, with early access opportunities for FLC members prior to this date. See details about ticket prices and passes here. Support of the New York Film Festival benefits Film at Lincoln Center in its nonprofit mission to support the art and craft of cinema.

Download a high-resolution version of the poster here.

The complete list of NYFF poster artists:

Larry Rivers, 1963
Saul Bass, 1964
Bruce Conner, 1965
Roy Lichtenstein, 1966
Andy Warhol, 1967
Henry Pearson, 1968
Marisol (Escobar), 1969
James Rosenquist, 1970
Frank Stella, 1971
Josef Albers, 1972
Niki de Saint Phalle, 1973
Jean Tinguely, 1974
Carol Summers, 1975
Allan D’Arcangelo, 1976
Jim Dine, 1977
Richard Avedon, 1978
Michelangelo Pistoletto, 1979
Les Levine, 1980
David Hockney, 1981
Robert Rauschenberg, 1982
Jack Youngerman, 1983
Robert Breer, 1984
Tom Wesselmann, 1985
Elinor Bunin, 1986
Sol Lewitt, 1987
Milton Glaser, 1988
Jennifer Bartlett, 1989
Eric Fischl, 1990
Philip Pearlstein, 1991
William Wegman, 1992
Sheila Metzner, 1993
William Copley, 1994
Diane Arbus, 1995
Juan Gatti, 1996
Larry Rivers, 1997
Martin Scorsese, 1998
Ivan Chermayeff, 1999
Tamar Hirschl, 2000
Manny Farber, 2001
Julian Schnabel, 2002
Junichi Taki, 2003
Jeff Bridges, 2004
Maurice Pialat, 2005
Mary Ellen Mark, 2006
agnès b., 2007
Robert Cottingham, 2008
Gregory Crewdson, 2009
John Baldessari, 2010
Lorna Simpson, 2011
Cindy Sherman, 2012
Tacita Dean, 2013
Laurie Simmons, 2014
Laurie Anderson, 2015
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2016
Richard Serra, 2017
Ed Lachman & JR, 2018
Pedro Almodóvar, 2019


John Waters Presents: Art Movie Hell at the Drive-In
Climax (Gaspar Noé) 
“It’s Busby Berkeley by way of Hieronymus Bosch”—Rolling Stone
Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
“You’ll still want a shower afterwards”—The Times (UK) 

Gaspar Noé, 2018, France/Belgium, 96m
French with English subtitles

Surely the most harrowing dance party in the history of cinema, Gaspar Noé’s intoxicating fifth feature is a relentless work of energy, ecstasy, and agony. A dance troupe is rehearsing in an otherwise empty boarding school, and their impromptu post-session celebration brings into play the complicated personal and romantic dynamics between the dancers over a communal bowl of sangria. But something feels awry, and soon, strange individual behaviors balloon into a collective madness that defies description. Suffused with captivating dance sequences and Noe’s usual penchant for chronicling social devolution in extreme situations, Climax is an exhilarating and unforgettable nightmare.

Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom
Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1976, Italy, 116m
Italian with English subtitles

Among world cinema’s most infamous works, Pier Paolo Pasolini’s final film transposes the Marquis de Sade’s seminal 1785 novel about the depravity and perversity of the French ruling class to Italy in 1944, one year before Mussolini’s death and the end of World War II. Divided into four sections (drawing inspiration from The Divine Comedy), Salò chronicles four wealthy brutes—referred to only as the Duke, the Magistrate, the Bishop, and the President—as they abduct a group of prostitutes, teenage boys, and their own daughters for a bacchanal that rapidly becomes a shocking and grotesque experiment with the limits of human cruelty (and pleasure). An indelible, mind-razing work on fascism, violence, and desire, Salò endures as one of film history’s most masterful shots across the bow.


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