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‘Class’ act at New York Film Festival

Festival opens with Palme d'Or-winning film

The presidential debate and rainfall weren’t quite what the New York Film Fest organizers had hoped for at Friday’s opening night screening of “The Class.”

“When we scheduled tonight, we had no idea that the debate would be today,” said fest program director Richard Pena at the Tavern on the Green after-party. “But in this TiVo age, a lot of people were hopefully able to record it.”

Despite the evening’s obstacles, Sony Pictures Classics co-prexy Michael Barker, whose company acquired the Cannes Palme d’Or-winning French film “The Class,” said he considered the night a “triumph.”

“I wasn’t even sure if the film was going to get into the festival,” Barker said. “Then Richard told me he was trying to find an opening night film, so I told him about the ‘The Class.’ A few weeks later, he said he wanted it. It was a bold move on their part because we are used to seeing stars like Clint Eastwood, Helen Mirren and George Clooney at opening night.”

Hollywood stars remained at bay the following night at the “Happy-Go-Lucky” preem. The Ziegfeld screening was followed by a low-key dinner at Gotham’s Abboccato, where pic’s star Sally Hawkins, helmer Mike Leigh and Miramax prexy Daniel Battsek dined.

— Addie Morfoot

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