New York Film Fest Closer: Julian Schnabel’s ‘At Eternity’s Gate’ With Willem Dafoe As Van Gogh

Lily Gavin

The New York Film Festival will close with the Julian Schnabel-directed At Eternity’s Gate. The film will make its North American premiere on the fest’s closing night on Friday, October 12. CBS Films releases the picture in November.

A famous American painter himself, Schnabel tackles a subject right in his wheelhouse. At Eternity’s Gate dissects the troubled genius that was Vincent Van Gogh in the last days of his struggle for acceptance of his groundbreaking Post-Impressionist work. Willem Dafoe plays the Dutch painter Van Gogh, who found his work scorned even in his hometown. Oscar Isaac plays Gauguin, Rupert Friend is Theo, Mathieu Amalric as Dr. Gachet, Emmanuelle Seigner as Madame Ginoux, and Mads Mikkelsen as The Priest. Those around Van Gogh tried to bolster the artist and his ambition to be accepted, but could not stop his plunge into depression when he was rejected. During his lifetime, Van Gogh sold only one painting — The Red Vineyard — out of about 900 works, all of which are now considered priceless. Schnabel wrote the script with Jean-Claude Carrière and Louise Kugelberg, also the film’s editor.

Willem Dafoe Julian Schnabel

The film makes its world premiere in Venice and Dafoe enters award season after a performance that got him nominated for Best Supporting Actor in The Florida Project. He is expected to once again be a factor in the upcoming award’s season. The film created strong buzz when scenes of the unfinished film were shown at Cannes for distributors, and Deadline revealed that CBS Films closed the deal. Schnabel brought his The Diving Bell And The Butterfly to the New York Film Festival in 2007.

“Julian Schnabel makes use of the most up-to-date information about Vincent van Gogh, altering our accepted ideas of how he lived and died; he grounds the film in the very action of painting, the intense contact between an artist and the world of forms and textures colored by light; and he gives us Willem Dafoe’s performance as Vincent—acting this pure is endlessly surprising,” said New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones.

Schnabel called it “a profound honor to be included with the other films and to be part of the history of Closing Night films that came before us. Looking forward to sitting in the audience with everybody.”

The Film Society of Lincoln Center has now set the Yorgos Lanthimos-directed Opening Nighter The Favourite and At Eternity’s Gate to bookend Alfonso Cuarón’s centerpiece selection ROMA.

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