Depth of film field

N.Y. fest boasts vet helmers, young pic makers

NEW YORK — Veteran international directors such as Ingmar Bergman, Eric Rohmer and Shohei Imamura will share the spotlight with American independent filmmakers such as Todd Haynes, Todd Solondz and Wes Anderson at the 36th New York Film Festival.

The NYFF, which runs Sept. 25-Oct. 11 at Lincoln Center, will present 26 films from 15 countries, including eight from the U.S. and eight from France. (In the case of co-productions, both countries receive credit.)

Erick Zonca’s debut, “The Dream Life of Angels,” which was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics at the Cannes Film Festival, will close the NYFF on Oct. 11.

Emir Kusturica’s “Black Cat, White,” which will bow a month earlier at the Venice Film Festival, will be the NYFF centerpiece and will screen Oct. 4 and 5.

‘Celebrity’ opener

As previously announced, Woody Allen’s “Celebrity,” a Miramax Films release, will open the festival.

Richard Pena, NYFF committee chairman and program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, said he was happy to see “a good selection of older masters and some very young fresh talents.”

But Pena bemoaned the dearth of Chinese films in this year’s lineup. “That area of world cinema has been so fantastically fertile until recently. One hopes that great wave of talent has not disappeared.”

Nevertheless, industryites immediately hailed the 36th NYFF’s provocative lineup as one of the most accessible programs in recent years. “These are films worth standing in line for,” said one film exec.

Large U.S. contingent

The U.S. contingent is dominated by indies such as Haynes’ “Velvet Goldmine,” a Miramax production that premiered in Cannes, and Solondz’s controversial “Happiness,” which was dropped by October Films because of its graphic content and will now be distributed by its producer, Good Machine. “Happiness” also screened in Cannes.

New York producer Christine Vachon has the distinction of having produced both “Goldmine” and “Happiness.”

Other American indies in the NYFF lineup are Marc Levin’s story of a prisoner-turned-poet, “Slam,” the Trimark release that won the dramatic grand jury prize in Sundance and the Camera d’Or award for best first feature at Cannes; Bill Condon’s critically acclaimed “Gods and Monsters,” which will be distributed by Lions Gate; and Hal Hartley’s featurette “Book of Life.”

The lone studio film in the festival is “Bottle Rocket” helmer Anderson’s sophomore effort, “Rushmore,” which will be distributed by Walt Disney’s Touchstone banner and will screen at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier in September.

International crowd

The young American directors will be kept company by such international up-and-comers as Denmark’s Thomas Vinterberg, with the October Films release “Celebration”; Austria’s Stefan Ruzowitsky, with the Stratosphere Entertainment release “The Inheritors”; and France’s Gaspar Noe, with “I Stand Alone.”

Samira Makhmalbaf, daughter of Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, is sending “The Apple.”

British director John Boorman will have two films in the festival — the Sony Pictures Classics release “The General,” for which Boorman won the 1998 best director prize at Cannes, and a retrospective of his 1967 American production “Point Blank.”

Boorman’s compatriot and NYFF perennial Ken Loach will be back this year with “My Name is Joe,” a working-class romantic comedy that will be distributed by Artisan.

Elsewhere there

Among the veteran French directors joining the ranks of the 36th NYFF are Alain Resnais with “Same Old Song,” Olivier Assayas with “Late August, Early September” and Eric Rohmer with “A Tale of Autumn,” the seasonal fable that first will unspool on the Lido.

Other NYFF selections include Japanese director Imamura’s “Dr. Akagi,” Taiwanese helmer Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “The Flowers of Shanghai,” Russian director Alexei Guerman’s “Khroustaliov, My Car!” and “You’re Laughing,” the latest effort of the Italian team Paolo and Vittorio Taviani.

Portugal is represented in this year’s fest with Paulo Rocha’s “River of Gold” while Mali’s entry is Abderrhmane Sissoko’s “Life on Earth,” a co-production with France.

Special retrospectives

A special retrospective screening of G.W. Pabst’s silent film “Joyless Street” starring Greta Garbo will be one of the highlights of the festival. The restored print by the Munich Filmmuseum will screen with a new score by German composer Aljosha Zimmermann, who will also provide the piano accompaniment.

There will be two special events at this year’s festival. To commemorate the centennial of Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein’s birth, his first film, “Strike,” will be shown Oct. 1 with a live performance and a new score by the Alloy Orchestra.

Bergman’s made-for-TV film “In the Presence of a Clown,” which was shown on the bigscreen in Cannes, will have four screenings at Lincoln Center on Oct. 3 and 4.

Along with Pena, the selection committee included the Film Society’s Wendy Keys, New York Daily News film critic Dave Kehr, Vogue magazine film critic John Powers and New York University cinema studies professor Robert Sklar.

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