It is a beautiful morning in the Big Apple — a perfect way to start my two-day stint at the New York Film Festival. Held at the gorgeous and expansive Lincoln Center, this year’s festival has already been going on for two weeks, leading up to tomorrow’s closing night film, Robert Zemeckis’ drama, “Flight.”
But I am determined not to see and review high-profile American releases; instead, all but one of the five films I cover will be foreign language submissions by burgeoning filmmakers across the world. The first of which is Yesim Ustaoglu’s “Araf – Somewhere in Between,” a drama hot off the presses of the New Turkish Cinema. Set in a harsh rural landscape, the film promises to be a very not-uplifting—but I hope compelling—start to the weekend.
My second film will be Chilean auteur Pablo Larraín’s “No,” which will close his unofficial Pinochet trilogy, the first two films of which I reviewed (here and here) and are available for streaming on Netflix. Starring Gael Garcia Bernal as an adman, “No” is a political drama that I expect will, like its predecessors, highlight the ravages brought on by the ruthless dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
My final film of Saturday will be “Leviathan,” a documentary by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel about the commercial fishing industry. The film has been declared an “overall sensory experience” by the NYFF programmers, and if “Deadliest Catch” and “The Perfect Storm” are any indication, it probably will be an overwhelming one.
I am excited that the directors of all these films will be in attendance during the screenings. With any luck, they may even be willing to answer questions, of which I have several for Larraín, whose difficult films invite robust discussion.
Sunday, I will be seeing two more films (possibly three if I can obtain a last-minute rush ticket to “Flight”). One is Portugal’s “Tabu,” directed by Miguel Gomes — a venture into surrealist territory. NYFF promises the movie to be a beautifully strange and non-linear experience that is reminiscent of both F.W. Murnau and Luis Buñuel. That sort of claim sets the bar high, so I am anticipating this one with elevated expectations.
Last on my itinerary is Javier Rebollo’s whimsically titled “The Dead Man and Being Happy.” Made in Argentina by a Spanish director, the story concerns the eponymous “dead man,” a cancer-addled hired killer who sets off on one last job, in spite of the fact that he is supposed to be bed-ridden. It is a road movie that should, given the premise, prove an unusual entry into the sub-genre.
Although I have the chance to see only a small morsel of the festival’s 33-film “Main Slate,” it is my hope that my choices will be quality representations of the excellence of the second-oldest film festival in the United States. My reviews will be posted as soon as I can write them, but with my packed schedule and the hustle and bustle of the city, that may take a few days. Wish me luck, and happy reading.