Alice Tully Hall, home of the New York Film Festival, juts out onto 65th and Broadway as if it's about to cruise downtown. Until recently, if you zoomed in on the Google streetview of this intersection you would discover a grinning man in a suit, flipping you off with both fists. For me, this millisecond of gleeful rebellion (against who? Google? The Man?) frozen in time beneath Tully's looming prow, captures the exact spirit of the New York Film Festival.
Unlike Tribeca, or Sundance, or Cannes, the NYFF isn't a competition. Unfettered from the melodrama of awards, it's less about highlighting the year's most avant-garde cinematic gem, less about hosting an indie circle jerk, and more about reveling in that momentary break from everyday life. I love it.
Although the NYFF always includes a few high-profile premieres, it also makes a reasonable attempt not to parrot the programming of earlier festivals. This year, no films from the Berlinale or Venice were selected. Last year, minor conniptions ensued when it omitted Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Palme d'Or snoozer -- I mean winner -- Winter Sleep. I like to imagine the delightful board meeting where this decision came up:
"Kent, we need to show Winter Sleep."
"Kent, the donors are freaking out."
*flips bird with both hands*
Of course, like our besuited friend on streetview, NYFF's brand of defiance is ultimately innocuous. All's well that ends well, and the festival remains safely mainstream with a good dose of pretentiousness (let's be real, it's sponsored by HBO and Jaeger-LeCoultre).
FilmLinc just released this year's trailer, packed with clips from some highly anticipated titles including Robert Zemeckis's The Walk, Hou Hsiao-hsien's The Assassin, and Todd Haynes's Carol. I'm especially excited about the tribute to Nathaniel Dorsky (greatest and most underrated filmmaker alive) and while I'd like to register my profound objection to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's god-awful franglish, I still CANNOT. WAIT.
The 53rd New York Film Festival runs September 25 - October 11 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. Tickets are on sale now.
And just because it was so great, here's last year's trailer: