This week, we welcomed director James Gray and cast members Anne Hathaway, Jeremy Strong, Banks Repeta, and Jaylin Webb to present and discuss Armageddon Time, the 60th Anniversary Celebration and Main Slate selection of this year’s festival, with NYFF Artistic Director Dennis Lim.
The most personal film yet from James Gray (The Immigrant, The Lost City of Z) is also one of his greatest, an exquisitely detailed and deeply emotional etching of a time and place: Queens, 1980. Set against the backdrop of a country on the cusp of ominous sociopolitical change, Armageddon Time follows Paul Graff (Banks Repeta), a sixth grader who dreams of becoming an artist. At the same time that Paul builds a friendship with classmate Johnny (Jaylin Webb), who’s mercilessly targeted by their racist teacher, he finds himself increasingly at odds with his parents (Jeremy Strong and Anne Hathaway), for whom financial success and assimilation are key to the family’s Jewish-American identity. Paul feels on firmest ground with his kind grandfather (a marvelous Anthony Hopkins), whose life experiences have granted him a weathered compassion. Rejecting easy nostalgia for a more difficult, painful form of recall, Gray’s film—shot with intimate naturalism by Darius Khondji—is a perceptive and humane coming of age story that does what only cinema can do, elevating the smallest moments into the greatest drama. A Focus Features release.