The New York Film Festival is a 17-day showcase of new and important cinematic works from around the world, by both established and emerging talents. The NYFF is one of two world-class international festivals run by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, which selects the films chosen for presentation. The festival was first held in 1963, established by Amos Vogel and Richard Roud. While the showcase itself is non-competitive in format (there are no categories and no prizes awarded), getting one’s work shown at the festival is highly competitive. There is no entry fee, all lengths and genres are considered, and an average of 28 feature films and 12 short films are selected annually by a five person committee. The Selection Committee consists of Kent Jones, editor at-large of Film Comment magazine, critics Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly, Scott Foundas of L.A. Weekly, and J. Hoberman of The Village Voice, and Richard Peña, the chairman and current director of the festival. The annual Views from the Avant-Garde is one of the special sidebars of the Festival which runs concurrently with the main festival. The Views premieres non-narrative, experimental film and video, and has been running since 1997.
This year was the 46th NYFF, which opened on September 26th with “The Class” (Laurent Cantet), screened Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling” as the NYFF Centerpiece, and closed with Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler.” I went with Caroline Lampen to see the second showing of “Changeling” at the Ziegfeld Theatre, starring Angelina Jolie in the main role as a mother who loses her child and, in her efforts to find him, is thwarted and wronged by the corruption of the Los Angeles Police Department. The film itself was highly anticipated, and more-or-less lived up to its expectations for me. I found the true-crime tale harrowing and poignant, though Eastwood’s extremely comprehensive retelling felt a little tiring at points. This was one of the larger festival screenings I’d been to, and it was exciting to sit in such a large theatre bustling with activity as movie-lovers from all around gathered together. I felt a part of a huge event (the films I screened at the Full Frame Documentary Festival were in much smaller venues). However, I was fairly disgruntled by the lack of any cast or production members at this second screening—the tickets for the first screening were also $40, but Brad Pitt, Clint Eastwood, and Angelina Jolie were in attendance, I assume for the latter two to give a quick Q & A following the film. I found it to be another case of real life injustice mirroring reel life.
Film Festival Site, November 5, 2008.