57th New York Film Festival Sets Full Slate; Pedro Almodovar, Bong Joon-ho Bring Their Cannes Prize Winners

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Film at Lincoln Center has set its main slate of 29 films for the 57th New York Film Festival, running September 27-October 13. The festival already announced it will get underway with the Martin Scorsese-directed The Irishman, with the Noah Baumbach-directed Marriage Story its centerpiece, and the Edward Norton-directed Motherless Brooklyn its closing-night film. Several of the films have played other festivals, including Bong Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or winner Parasite and Pain and Glory by Pedro Almodovar, who designed the NYFF poster this year.

Here is how the whole slate looks, with films from 17 countries:

NYFF

Opening Night
The Irishman
Director: Martin Scorsese

Centerpiece
Marriage Story
Director: Noah Baumbach

Closing Night
Motherless Brooklyn
Director: Edward Norton

Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story
Director: Mati Diop, US Premiere

Building on the promise—and then some—of her acclaimed shorts, the Diop-directed drama that skirts the line between realism and fantasy, romance and horror, and which, in its crystalline empathy, humanity, and political outrage, confirms the arrival of a major talent. Set in Senegal, the birth country of her legendary director uncle, Djibril Diop Mambéty, the film initially follows the blossoming love between young construction worker Souleiman (Ibrahima Traoré), who’s being exploited by his rich boss, and Ada (Mama Sané), about to enter into an unwanted arranged marriage with a wealthier man.

Bacurau
Director: Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles, US Premiere

A vibrant, richly diverse backcountry Brazilian town finds its sun-dappled day-to-day disturbed when its inhabitants become the targets of a group of marauding, wealthy tourists. The perpetrators of this Most Dangerous Game–esque class warfare, however, may have met their match in the fed-up, resourceful denizens of little Bacurau.

Beanpole
Director: Kantemir Balagov

In immediate post-WWII Leningrad, two women, Iya and Masha (astonishing newcomers Viktoria Miroshnichenko and Vasilisa Perelygina), intensely bonded after fighting side by side as anti-aircraft gunners, attempt to readjust to a haunted world. As the film begins, Iya, long and slender and towering over everyone—hence the film’s title—works as a nurse in a shell-shocked hospital, presiding over traumatized soldiers, while also caring for Masha’s fatherless son, who was born on the front. A shocking accident brings them closer and also seals their fates.

Fire Will Come
Director: Oliver Laxe, US Premiere

The beauties and terrors of nature—human and otherwise—drive this extraordinary, elemental new film from Oliver Laxe, in which the verdant Galician landscape becomes the setting for forceful internal and external dramas. After making films abroad for years, interrogating the line between filmmaker and subject in such locales as Tangiers (You Are All Captains) and Morocco (Mimosas), Laxe returns to the rustic village in northwest Spain where his grandparents were born to tell the story of Amador (Amador Arias), who has recently served time in prison for arson and has come home to live with his elderly mother, Benedicta (Benedicta Sanchez)—both played brilliantly by nonprofessional actors.

First Cow
Director: Kelly Reichardt

Reichardt once again trains her perceptive and patient eye on the Pacific Northwest, this time evoking an authentically hardscrabble early 19th-century way of life. A taciturn loner and skilled cook (John Magaro) has traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant (Orion Lee) also seeking his fortune; soon the two collaborate on a successful business, although its longevity is reliant upon the clandestine participation of a nearby wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow.

A Girl Missing
Director: Koji Fukada, US Premiere

Fukada and star Mariko Tsutsui have created one of the most memorable, enigmatic movie protagonists in years in this compelling and beautifully humane drama. Middle-aged Ichiko works as a private nurse in a small town for a family, functioning as caregiver for the entirely female clan’s elderly matriarch, and befriending the two teenage daughters; when one of the girls disappears, Ichiko gets caught up in the resulting media sensation in increasingly surprising and devastating ways.

I Was at Home, But…
Director: Angela Schanelec, US Premiere

Though she’s been an essential voice in contemporary German cinema since the ’90s, Angela Schanelec is poised to find wider international audiences with I Was at Home, But…, which won her the Best Director prize at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. An elliptical yet emotionally lucid variation on the domestic drama, her latest film intricately navigates the psychological contours of a Berlin family in crisis: Astrid—played with barely concealed fury by Maren Eggert—is trying to hold herself and her fragile teenage son and young daughter together following the death of their father two years earlier.

Liberté
Director: Albert Serra, US Premiere

For the bold of imagination, not the faint of heart, the latest work from Catalan filmmaker Albert Serra (The Death of Louis XIV) is easily his most provocative yet. In the 18th century, somewhere deep in a forest clearing, a group of bewigged libertines engage in a series of pansexual games of pain, torture, humiliation, and other dissolute, Sadean pleasures, attempting to reach some form of erotic nirvana, though rarely ever appearing to truly enjoy themselves.

Martin Eden
Director: Pietro Marcello

Marcello’s most straightforwardly fictional feature to date, Martin Eden is set in a provocatively unspecified moment in Italy’s history yet was adapted from a 1909 novel by American author Jack London. Martin (played by the marvelously committed Luca Marinelli) is a dissatisfied prole with artistic aspirations who hopes that his dreams of becoming a writer will help him rise above his station and marry a wealthy young university student (Jessica Cressy); the twinned dissatisfactions of working-class toil and bourgeois success lead to political reawakening and destructive anxiety.

The Moneychanger
Director: Federico Veiroj, US Premiere

Leading light of contemporary Uruguayan cinema Federico Veiroj (A Useful Life) specializes in complexly drawn protagonists struggling amidst the specters of professional and personal failures. His new film, based on the 1979 novella Así habló el cambista by fellow countryman Juan Enrique Gruber, is his most ambitious, political, and forceful yet. Set largely in Montevideo, The Moneychanger stars Daniel Hendler in a tightly coiled performance of comical discomfort as Humberto Brause, who takes advantage of Uruguay’s poor economy by specializing in offshore money laundering. Spanning the fifties to the seventies, the film follows Humberto as he gets increasingly in over his head with multiple shady book-cooking schemes throughout South America, leading to an ultimate life-or-death decision.

Oh Mercy!
Director: Arnaud Desplechin, North American Premiere

In a change of pace from such recent kaleidoscopic knockouts as My Golden Years (NYFF53) and Ismael’s Ghosts (NYFF55), Arnaud Desplechin shows a different and no less impressive side of his mastery with this taut policier, based on a true murder case. The scene of the crime is Roubaix, the city in Northern France where Desplechin was born and where he’s set many of his films. Here, during a somber Christmas season, a middle-aged, French-Algerian detective is investigating the fatal strangulation of a poor, elderly woman in her apartment, with suspicion falling on her next-door neighbors, two young white women with a complicated interpersonal bond.

Pain and Glory
Director: Pedro Almodóvar

Almodóvar cuts straight to the heart with his intensely personal latest, which finds the great Spanish filmmaker tapping into new reservoirs of introspection and emotional warmth. Antonio Banderas deservedly won the Best Actor award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his miraculous, internalized portrayal of Salvador Mallo, a director not too subtly modeled on Almodóvar himself, whose growing health problems—including tinnitus, migraines, and spinal pain—and creative block have initiated a midlife reckoning. Moving in and out of time, evoking Salvador’s childhood in the sixties (featuring Penélope Cruz as his doting mother); his years of triumph in the eighties; and present-day Madrid, where he navigates new artistic challenges, Pain and Glory is both a moving summative statement on a career and an indication of more brilliant things to come.

Parasite
Director: Bong Joon-ho

In Bong Joon-ho’s film that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in May, a threadbare family of four struggling to make ends meet gradually hatches a scheme to work for, and as a result infiltrate, the wealthy household of an entrepreneur, his seemingly frivolous wife, and their troubled kids. How they go about doing this—and how their best-laid plans spiral out to destruction and madness—constitutes one of the wildest, scariest, and most unexpectedly affecting movies in years, a portrayal of contemporary class resentment.

Film Comment Presents
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
Director: Céline Sciamma

On the cusp of the 19th century, young painter Marianne travels to a rugged, rocky island off the coast of Brittany. Here, she has been commissioned to create a wedding portrait of the wealthy yet free-spirited Héloise, whose hand in marriage has been promised to a man she’s never met. Resentful of the forced union, Héloise at first refuses to be painted, yet a growing bond—at first emotional and then erotic—develops between the women, exquisitely etched by Noémie Merlant as the artist and Adèle Haenel as her initially reluctant muse.

Saturday Fiction
Director: Lou Ye, US Premiere

Gong Li (Raise the Red Lantern) gives a mesmerizing, take-no-prisoners performance in Saturday Fiction, a slow-burn spy thriller set in Japanese-occupied Shanghai on the cusp of World War II. She plays acclaimed actress Jean Yu, who has returned to Shanghai from China after a long absence. Jean Yu is in rehearsals for a play to be directed by a former lover (Mark Chao), but she seems to have ulterior motives, functioning as a double agent and gathering intelligence for the Allies, including the fateful realization of Japan’s imminent attack on Pearl Harbor.

Sibyl
Director: Justine Triet, US Premiere

Past and present collide in an increasingly complicated and highly entertaining fashion in Justine Triet’s intricate study of the professional and personal masks we wear as we perform our daily lives. Psychotherapist Sybil (Virginie Efira) abruptly decides to leave her practice to restart her writing career—only to find herself increasingly embroiled in the life of a desperate new patient: Margot (Adèle Exarchopoulos), a movie star dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic affair with her costar, Igor (Gaspard Ulliel), while trying to finish a film shoot under the watchful eye of a demanding director (Toni Erdmann’s Sandra Hüller, splendidly high-strung), who happens to be Igor’s wife. Sybil, negotiating her own past demons, makes the fateful decision to use Margot’s experiences as inspiration for her book, as boundaries of propriety fall one after another.

Synonyms
Director: Nadav Lapid, U.S. Premiere

In his lacerating third feature, director Nadav Lapid’s camera races to keep up with the adventures of peripatetic Yoav (Tom Mercier), a disillusioned Israeli who has absconded to Paris following his military training. Having disavowed Hebrew, he devotes himself to learning the intricacies of the French language, falls into an emotional and intellectual triangle with a wealthy bohemian couple (Quentin Dolmaire and Louise Chevillotte), and frequently finds himself objectified, both politically and sexually.

To the Ends of the Earth
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

For more than two decades, Kurosawa has been at the artistic forefront of Japanese cinema, bending the form to his own singular, internalized rhythms in such films as Cure, Pulse, and Tokyo Sonata (NYFF46). His latest is an unexpected narrative following Yoko (former J-pop idol Atsuko Maeda), a television host whose trip to Uzbekistan to shoot an episode of her reality travel show begins to dissolve her chipper persona, revealing the paranoia and dislocation beneath.

The Traitor
Director: Marco Bellocchio, US Premiere

Since the galvanizing burst of his unforgettable debut feature Fists in the Pocket (NYFF3), Marco Bellocchio has remained an Italian auteur of rigor and fury, representing social unrest in stories that range from the intimate to the epochal. In his 80th year, he has returned with one of his most compelling films. Pierfrancesco Favino commands the screen throughout this decades-spanning true-life narrative as Tommaso Buscetta, the mafia boss turned informant who helped take down a large swath of organized crime leaders in Sicily in the eighties. In one fully realized, impressively staged scene after another, including the notorious Maxi Trial, overseen by Judge Giovanni Falcone (Fausto Russo Alesi), Bellocchio interrogates received ideas about loyalty that so many other movies of this genre use to romanticize their characters.

Varda by Agnès
Director: Agnès Varda

Agnès Varda died earlier this year at age 90, and from her neorealist-tinged 1954 feature debut La Pointe Courte to her New Wave treasures Cléo from 5 to 7 and Le Bonheur to her inquiries into those on society’s outskirts like Vagabond (NYFF23), The Gleaners and I (NYFF38), and the 2017 Oscar nominee Faces Places (NYFF55), she made enduring films that were both forthrightly political and gratifyingly mercurial. In what would be her final work, partially constructed of onstage interviews and lectures, interspersed with a wealth of clips and archival footage, Varda guides us through her career, from her movies to her remarkable still photography to the delightful and creative installation work.

Vitalina Varela
Director: Pedro Costa, US Premiere

Portuguese director Pedro Costa has continually returned in his films to the Fontainhas neighborhood, a shantytown on the outskirts of Lisbon that’s home to largely immigrant communities. Not merely a chronicler of the poor and dispossessed, Costa renders onscreen characters that exist somewhere between real and fictional, the living and the dead. His latest, a film of deeply concentrated beauty, stars nonprofessional actor Vitalina Varela in a truly remarkable performance. Reprising and expanding upon her haunted supporting role from Costa’s Horse Money (NYFF52), she plays a Cape Verdean woman who has come to Fontainhas for her husband’s funeral after being separated from him for decades due to economic circumstance, and despite her alienation begins to establish a new life there.

Wasp Network
Director: Olivier Assayas, US Premiere

Assayas brings his customary style and urgency to an unexpected subject in this epic chronicle of a small group of Cuban defectors in Miami who in the early nineties established a spy web to infiltrate anti-Castroist terrorist groups carrying out violent attacks on Cuban soil. Amidst a dazzling ensemble that includes Gael García Bernal, Wagner Moura, Ana de Armas, and Leonardo Sbaraglia, Assayas mostly centers on the saga of network member René Gonzalez (Édgar Ramírez, star of Assayas’s Carlos, NYFF48) and his wife Olga (Penélope Cruz), who for many years is kept in the dark about René’s double life in America. Inspired by Fernando Morais’s meticulously researched book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War.

The Whistlers
Director: Corneliu Porumboiu

The Romanian director Porumboiu, whose inventive comedies such as Police, Adjective (NYFF47) and The Treasure (NYFF53) have for more than a decade brought deadpan charm and political perceptiveness to his country’s cinematic renaissance. Here, the director has made his first all-out genre film—a clever, swift, and elegant neo-noir with a wonderfully off-kilter central conceit. Easily corruptible Bucharest police detective Cristi—played by the eternally stoic Vlad Ivanov—arrives on the mist-enshrouded Canary Island of La Gomera, where he learns a clandestine, tribal language, improbably made entirely out of whistling; this form of hidden communication will keep his superiors off his trail as he becomes increasingly embroiled in a convoluted gangster scheme involving a stash of Euros hidden in a mattress and a sultry femme fatale named, of course, Gilda

The Wild Goose Lake
Director: Diao Yinan, US Premiere

Chinese director Diao Yinan’s much anticipated follow-up to his breakthrough noir Black Coal, Thin Ice is an altogether more colorful crime drama. A formalist gangster thriller drenched in reds and blues, though imbued with a melancholic tone that speaks to contemporary China’s vast economic disparities, the elegantly down-and-dirty The Wild Goose Lake, set in the nooks and crannies of densely populated Wuhan, follows the desperate attempts of small-time mob boss Zhou Zenong (the charismatic Hu Ge) to stay alive after he mistakenly kills a cop and a dead-or-alive reward is put on his head.

Young Ahmed
Director: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, North American Premiere

The Dardenne Brothers won this year’s Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival for this brave new work, another intimate portrayal-in-furious-motion of a protagonist in crisis. The filmmakers’ radical empathy alights on a Muslim teenager (extraordinary first-time actor Idir Ben Addi) in a small Belgian town who is being gradually radicalized into extremism despite the desperate protestations of his single mother (Claire Bodson), and who winds up hatching a murderous plot targeting his beloved teacher (Myriem Akheddiou).

Zombi Child
Director: Bertrand Bonello, US Premiere

After giving multiple shots to the arm of contemporary French cinema with such audacious films as House of Tolerance, Saint Laurent (NYFF52), and Nocturama, Bertrand Bonello injects urgency and history into the well-worn walking-dead genre with this unconventional plunge into horror-fantasy. Bonello moves fluidly between 1962 Haiti, where a young man known as Clairvius Narcisse (Mackenson Bijou), made into a zombie by his resentful brother, ends up working as a slave in the sugar cane fields, and a contemporary Paris girls’ boarding school, where a white teenage girl (Louise Labèque) befriends Clairvius’s direct descendant (Wislanda Louimat), who was orphaned in the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

NYFF director and selection committee chair Kent Jones said, “Cinema is the domain of freedom, and it’s an ongoing struggle to maintain that freedom. It’s getting harder and harder for anyone to make films of real ambition anywhere in this world. Each and every movie in this lineup, big or small, whether it’s made in Italy or Senegal or New York City, is the result of artists behind the camera fighting on multiple fronts to realize a vision and create something new in the world. That includes masters like Martin Scorsese and Pedro Almodóvar and younger filmmakers coming to the festival for the first time like Mati Diop and Angela Schanelec.”

As for the NYFF poster, Almodovar said: “I used a photo of a still life that I exhibited at the Marlborough Gallery. The masses of color on which the text is printed are reminiscent of an animated sequence that appears in my latest film, Pain and Glory, though for this version I have chosen less bright colors, using muted shades of red, blue, green, and mauve. These colors correspond to the palette in which I seem to move lately.”

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2019/08/57th-new-york-film-festival-slate-pedro-almodovar-bong-joon-ho-scorsese-1202662340/