Waiting to inhale

New York Film Festival kicks off with 'Pi'

The New York Film Festival kicked off its 50th edition Friday with Fox’s “Life of Pi,” the latest from fest regular Ang Lee. But to hear the helmer tell it, his new movie breaks not just one cardinal rule of filmmaking but several — all in one go.

“When you’re in the movie business, you usually hear the good advice: Never work with kids, animals or water,” Lee said of the pic, about a boy trapped in lifeboat with a live tiger (and, for a while, a orangutan, a zebra and a hyena). “But here they all are. In 3D!”

“Life of Pi” screened at Alice Tully Hall, where the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s board chair, Ann Tenenbaum, rhapsodized about the many connotations of the number 50. “Apparently there are 50 shades of gray,” she said, then gestured to her hair. “I think I have most of them covered right here.”

And then it was off to the Harvard Club for the afterparty, where the film’s young star, Suraj Sharma, took congrats from several industry types. It was not an easy role, since Sharma spends a lot of time in water.

“When I cast him, I asked him, ‘How long can you hold your breath?’ ” Lee joked.

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