N.Y. fest hits its stride

Kino takes 'Robber' as festival winds down

The New York Film Festival, which is heading into its final weekend, has turned into an unusually high-profile platform this year, with opener “The Social Network” setting the tone by creating a lot of buzz and audience enthusiasm — a template followed by a flurry of other fest entries.

There was strong response at screenings of such pics as Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Palme d’Or winner “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” and Mike Leigh’s “Another Year,” among other films. On Thursday, Kino Intl. picked up U.S. rights to fest selection “The Robber.”

“When you have a very strong opening film, it really sets the festival going,” said Richard Pena, the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s program director and chair of the NYFF selection committee.

The 2010 edition finishes Sunday with Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter,” toplined by Matt Damon. Also among the films still to unspool: Kelly Reichardt’s frontier drama “Meek’s Cutoff,” Abdellatif Kechiche’s “Black Venus” and Jorge Michel Grau’s cannibal-family tale “We Are What We Are.”

“It’s one of the strongest lineups the festival has had in a while,” said Kino Intl. topper Donald Krim. Between Kino Intl. and Lorber (both divisions of Kino Lorber, topped by Richard Lorber and Krim), Kino Lorber has snagged five films of the fest’s 28-feature lineup.

While three of those — “Poetry,” “The Four Times” and “Tuesday, After Christmas” — already had releases skedded prior to NYFF, Krim said he expects festival screenings of Austrian-German thriller “The Robber” and Russian drama “My Joy” to help drum up interest from exhibitors.

Landing on the calendar soon after the Venice and Toronto film festivals, the traditionally eclectic and international NYFF, with a slate limited to about 25 films, is not primarily considered a marketplace. Many of the movies arrive in Gotham with distribution deals already in place, as is the case with “Meek’s Cutoff,” picked up by Oscilloscope Laboratories in Toronto.

“To have critics see it now, and have a few thousand serious New York filmgoers see it — it’s a great launching pad for word of mouth,” said Oscilloscope co-founder David Fenkel.

The plan is to release “Meek’s Cutoff” in the second quarter of 2011. “By then, people will have been hearing about it for six months,” Fenkel said.

Attendance statistics for the fest were not available. Pena said he was particularly encouraged by the turnout at the festival’s expanded lineup of special events, which have included screenings of docs “A Letter to Elia” and “Nuremberg.” That slate of extras will expand next year with the opening of the newly constructed Film Society facilities on the Lincoln Center campus, including two additional screens.

“Black Venus” is among the weekend’s films that have not yet scored distribution deals.

Warner Bros.’ “Hereafter” unspools twice Sunday night ahead of a limited release Oct. 15. Film goes wide Oct. 22.

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