Posted on: 23 September 2009
Festival Website filmlinc.com/nyff
When Mariah Carey strolls down the red carpet at Lincoln Center at the 47th New York Film Festival, she’ll be in good company. Alain Resnais might give her a wink; Michael Haneke, a cordial bow. Hell, she might not even be there, but the merest waft of her perfume through the stately, redesigned cloisters of Lincoln Center, among small groupings of nouvelle vague titans, contemporary arthouse denizens, and international auteurs on the rise, tells you a lot about the New York Film Festival. It’s a mix of the sacred and the profane in deli-size portions, and in spite of the jaded attitudes of many a festival-hopping journalist, it’s also a lot of fun.
Of course, much of this has to do with the films everyone in the world hasn’t heard about. Sure, old pals like Haneke, Almodóvar, Rivette, Resnais, Bellocchio, and Manoel de Oliveira will turn up with their latest offerings, and other big names (like Claire Denis, Pedro Costa, Bruno Dumont, Catherine Breillat, and Bong Joon-ho) will join in the fun. But the real wild-cards are the newcomers: Maren Ade, Joao Pedro Rodrigues, Sabu, Raya Martin, and especially Corneliu Porumboiu, whose Police, Adjective brings with it the international film community’s certain regard for all things Romanian.
There’s also a somewhat stronger emphasis on documentaries this year, with Zhao Dayong’s raw and rigorous Ghost Town, Don Argott’s art-and-politics muckraker The Art of the Steal, Serge Bromberg’s cinephilic excavation of Clouzot’s unfinished Inferno, and Ilisa Barish and Lucien Castaing-Taylor’s arresting and meditative sheepherding documentary, Sweetgrass. Still more documentary riches are tucked away in the festival’s invariably scintillating Views from the Avant-Garde sidebar, with a new film by the great German filmmaker Harun Farocki, a reconstruction of Pasolini’s essay film project La Rabbia (or Rage), and a mini-retrospective of the poetic ethnographies of the late Chick Strand showing alongside shorts by Thai auteur Apichatpong Weerasethakul, cut-up animation poet Lewis Klahr, projection-performance magus Bruce McClure, and many others.
Then, there are the provocateurs. Lars von Trier lets chaos reign in latest bid to show the torture-pornographers who’s boss, but it remains to be seen if Antichrist’s now well-spoiled shocks will appall as much as they did (so predictably) at Cannes. Todd Solondz also has a new film – Life During Wartime – but seemingly the only surprising thing about this nominal sequel to Happiness is the name of one Paul Reubens in the credits. More likely to really divide and disgust is Harmony Korine. Fresh, hot, and steaming from its premiere at Toronto a mere four months after Korine’s VHS camcorder started rolling, Trash Humpers is for many a refreshing addition to the usual crop of festival darlings, for others a degenerate lark unworthy of Lincoln Center’s charming new Alice Tully Hall.
Of course, there are some unfortunate omissions, too. Given the Selection Committee’s usual predilections, one would have thought Jacques Audiard’s acclaimed A Prophet, as well as new films by the Coen Brothers and Ken Loach, to be no-brainers. These somehow didn’t make the cut, but at least they’re likely to find homes in New York theaters before long. More worrisome is the absence of Hong Sang-soo, usually a mainstay of the festival. His new film, Like You Know It All, is nowhere to be seen, and one hopes programmers are not taking Manohla Dargis’s wrong-headed pan of last year’s excellent Night and Day too much to heart. He may not be as funny as Mariah Carey, but he sure knows how to party.
The 47th New York Film Festival will run from September 25 to October 11, 2009. Please refer to this page for reviews of select festival films.
Introduction by Leo Goldsmith
|Police, Adjective||1 October|
Crossroads of Youth1934
The White Ribbon2009
The Art of the Steal2009