The New York Film Festival has set the Martin Scorsese-directed The Irishman as its opening-night film on September 27 at Alice Tully Hall. It is the first time that a Scorsese film has opened the NYFF.
Netflix has filled the upcoming Toronto and Venice festivals with its films, including the Steven Soderbergh-directed Panama Papers saga The Laundromat, the Noah Baumbach-directed Marriage Story, the David Michod-directed The King, the Eddie Murphy-starrer Dolemite Is My Name and the Fernando Meirelles-directed The Two Popes. But the NYFF has secured the one with the most wannasee, made by the quintessential New York filmmaker who is reuniting with Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in a crime drama for the first time since Casino 24 years ago.
An adaptation of Charles Brandt’s nonfiction book I Heard You Paint Houses, The Irishman tells the story of Frank Sheeran, who admitted killing 25 men for the mob, including his friend, the Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa. Pesci plays Pennsylvania mob boss Russell Bufalino (who according to Sheeran’s testimony ordered the hit), Al Pacino plays Hoffa, and De Niro plays Sheeran. Steven Zaillian wrote the script.
Netflix, which paid a premium to get a film that reportedly cost $125 million, will release The Irishman later in the fall. The expectation is that it will begin with a theatrical release first, as was the case with Netflix’s release of Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, a film that won three Oscars: Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director and Best Cinematography, the latter two of which went to Cuarón.
“The Irishman is so many things: rich, funny, troubling, entertaining and, like all great movies, absolutely singular,” said New York Film Festival director and selection committee chair Kent Jones. “It’s the work of masters, made with a command of the art of cinema that I’ve seen very rarely in my lifetime, and it plays out at a level of subtlety and human intimacy that truly stunned me. All I can say is that the minute it was over my immediate reaction was that I wanted to watch it all over again.”
Said Scorsese: “It’s an incredible honor that The Irishman has been selected as the Opening Night of the New York Film Festival. I greatly admire the bold and visionary selections that the festival presents to audiences year after year. The festival is critical to bringing awareness to cinema from around the world. I am grateful to have the opportunity to premiere my new picture in New York alongside my wonderful cast and crew.”