5 Great Films From The New York Film Festival 2019

Best of NYFF 2019

The New York Film Festival has always played host to a multitude of perspectives, from its globe-spanning Main Slate, to its experimental Projections programme, to the more recent, virtual reality-centric Convergence. The 57th iteration of city’s premiere film event unfolded across two weeks at Lincoln Center, with this year’s proceedings dedicated to the late Agnès Varda, an NYFF mainstay (her final film, Varda by Agnès, was also featured). 

The crown jewel of the fest was undoubtedly its Opening Night selection, Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. The ludicrously expensive Netflix production was so in-demand that even its press screening had to be moved from the usual location — the 268-seat Walter Reade Theatre — to Lincoln Center’s prestigious, 1086-capacity Alice Tully Hall. Netflix also held the New York premiere for Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story (this year’s Centerpiece film) and Warner Bros.’ Joker even made its final festival stop after Venice and TIFF. However, lesser-known, unconventional works also found their way into the spotlight, like Catalan filmmaker Albert Serra’s sexually-charged Liberté and Minh Quý Truong’s experimental Vietnamese sci-fi doc The Treehouse.

As usual, the programmers — among them, retiring festival director Kent Jones — scoured every corner of the globe for unique points of view, and the results were astounding. Here are five films from around the world that exemplify the best of NYFF 2019. Read More »

New York Film Festival Main Slate 2019

I’ve heard from many a festival-goer that it’s possible to work through the entire New York Film Festival lineup – or at least its premier section, the Main Slate – given how the event spreads out manageably over the course of seventeen days all at Lincoln Center. But with schedule conflicts or lack of interest in certain titles, it’s a feat seldom seen or accomplished. Or, maybe given how gluttonous I feel after having done this myself, people choose not to brag about it if they do manage to pull it off.

While battling fatigue as well as exhaustion, plus countless instances of doubting if this was something I actually wanted to do, I managed to see all 29 films programmed in this year’s NYFF Main Slate. (If you’re the ranking type, I did just that over on Letterboxd.) I learned plenty about myself and some masochistic moviegoing habits after subjecting myself to this marathon of viewing contemporary cinema, but that’s a subject for another piece. It’s impossible to watch this incredible selection of films from across the globe and not have some larger takeaways about trends, patterns and parallels. Here are ten lessons from surveying the Main Slate in its entirety. Read More »

atlantics trailer

Atlantics debuted at this year’s Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews, winning the esteemed Grand Prix award and becoming Senegal’s pick to be considered for the Best International Feature Film Oscar. It was a magnificent feature directorial debut for French-Senegalese filmmaker Mati Diop, who became the first woman of African descent to have a film screen at the festival’s Competition section. Watch the Atlantics trailer below.

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Female Directors at TIFF

Like many time periods preceding it, the fall film festival circuit of 2019 has been a mixed bag of results for female filmmakers. The Venice Film Festival spared a measly two slots in its competition for films directed by women and, as if to thumb their nose at those decrying their regressive attitudes, awarded their Best Director prize to convicted rapist Roman Polanski. All this from a festival that signed the 50/50 by 2020 pledge for gender parity just last year, to boot. As Katrin Gebbe, director of Pelican Blood told me, “In the past few years, we’ve started to put our finger into the wound.”

Meanwhile, at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), the programmers paid more than lip service to their commitment on equality. Female directors comprised 36% of this year’s selection at TIFF, with percentages even higher in sections like Contemporary World Cinema and the high-profile Galas. Look beyond the numbers, too, and it’s clear that quantity did not come at the expense of quality.

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Atlantics Review

Mati Diop’s Atlantics is notable for a number of reasons. First, it’s the first film from a black woman to ever play in competition in the Cannes film festival, a notable achievement in and of itself. Second, it’s tied to a number of other films at this festival that twist genres, incorporating elements from horror and thriller film into what’s ostensibly a story of lost love, where the ghosts of the past continue to haunt those left behind.

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