Richard Linklater Opens NYFF With ‘Last Flag Flying’: ‘It’s Such an Honor’

Richard Linklater’s latest film, “Last Flag Flying” nabbed the coveted opening slot at the 55th annual New York Film Festival because it “just felt right.”

That’s according to fest director Kent Jones, who was at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall on Thursday night to introduce the Amazon pic more than once. Audiences had a chance to view the feature thrice before its official VIP 9 p.m. screening, which was followed by a gala at Central Park’s Tavern On The Green that carried on until the wee hours of Friday morning. Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne and Yul Vazquez were among the stars who celebrated the opening night.

“These are discussions that start early,” Jones said of curating the festival. “So I saw ‘Last Flag Flying’ back in April when it was almost finished, and I had a feeling about it.”

He also had a feeling about two other Amazon pics —“Wonderstruck” and “Wonder Wheel,” which are NYFF’s Closing Night and Centerpiece selections respectively.

“Amazon provides one-stop shopping,” Jones joked. “ No, but seriously, Bob Berney, Scott Foundas, Ted Hope – they all have great taste. And it just so happened that they had three great movies that made perfect sense for these three slots.”

For Linklater, who has taken two of his prior films to the fest, nabbing the opening night slot for the first time in his career was” thrilling.”

“When you think of the history and all of the great films and filmmakers who have had this slot, it’s such an honor,” helmer said prior to the 6 p.m. screening.

Jones, who has 17 more festival days ahead of him, said that he isn’t concerned if the 55th edition will top the last 54 fests.

“We don’t have quotas or themes to pursue,” he said. “We don’t say to ourselves, ‘Gee. We haven’t had a enough filmmakers from Eastern Europe lately.’ We just don’t do that. There aren’t awards and there isn’t a marketplace. So it’s not a matter of topping ourselves. It’s a matter of fulfilling our mission — to choose the films that mean the most to us and offer them to people and let them react to them and form their own impressions.”

The 55th edition of the New York fest will run through Oct. 15.

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