“Grams,” which has been picked to close the fest Oct. 19, stars Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro and Naomi Watts. It explores the emotionally and physically charged lives of a woman, her cheating lover and an ex-con.
“War” raises the issues and moral complexities of military conflict, focusing on WWII, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam. Former Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, often considered the architect of the Vietnam War, is the pic’s central figure.
Clint Eastwood’s “Mystic River” was previously announced as fest’s opener.
Several of the films have bowed overseas to acclaim, including Lars von Trier’s controversial “Dogville,” David Mackenzie’s “Young Adam” and Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant,” all of which preemed at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where Van Sant won the Palme d’Or.
Some filmmakers are returning to the festival after a long absence, most notably Claude Chabrol, last at the festival in 1978, and Denys Arcand, in 1986. Fest will screen Chabrol’s “The Flower of Evil” and Arcand’s “The Barbarian Invasions.”
Program director Richard Pena said he hopes to avoid the type of political conflict that tinged last year’s event. Iranian helmer Abbas Kiarostami was unable to attend last year because of stricter visa regulations, prompting Finnish helmer Aki Kaurismaki to bow out in solidarity.
“Our Polish filmmaker (Jan Jakub Kolski) will need three months to get a visa,” said Pena. “It’s become a real serious problem for the artists. The most interesting creators are being stopped for what I think are Draconinan and self-defeating visa requirements.”
Lineup for the public film fest was selected by Pena; NYFF associate programmer Kent Jones; New York Times film columnist Dave Kehr; Library of America editor-in-chief Geoffrey O’Brien; and film critic John Anderson.
As always, the festival will host several sidebar events. Highlights this year include screenings of Jeff Stein’s “The Kids Are Alright,” Marco Tullio Giordana’s “The Best of Youth,” Ewald Andre Dumont’s black-and-white pic “Piccadilly” with live musical accompaniment, Sebastian Dehnhardt’s “Stalingrad” and a celebration of Japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu’s work.
A selection of short films will be paired with the fest’s feature films, screening directly before the features.
The 41st New York Film Festival, sponsored for the eighth consecutive year by Grand Marnier, runs Oct. 3-19.
“Mystic River,” Clint Eastwood, USA, Warner Bros.
“The Fog of War,” Errol Morris, USA, Sony Pictures Classics (Centerpiece)
“21 Grams,” Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, USA, Focus Features.
“The Barbarian Invasions,” Denys Arcand, Canada, Miramax Films
“Bright Leaves,” Ross McElwee, USA
“Crimson Gold,” Jafar Panahi, Iran, Wellspring Media
“Distant,” Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey, New Yorker Films
“Dogville,” Lars von Trier, Denmark, Lions Gate Films
“Elephant,” Gus van Sant, HBO Films/Fine Line Features
“The Flower of Evil,” Claude Chabrol, France, Palm Pictures
“Free Radicals,” Barbara Albert, Austria
“Good Morning,” Night, Marco Bellocchio, Italy
“Goodbye Dragon Inn,” Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan
“Mansion by the Lake,” Lester James Peries, Sri Lanka
“Mayor of the Sunset Strip,” George Hickenlooper, USA, First Look Media/Overseas Film Group
“Ptu,” Johnnie To, Hong Kong
“Raja,” Jacques Doillon, France/Morocco
“S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine,” Pithy Panh, Cambodia/France, First Run Features
“Since Otar Left,” Julie Bertuccelli, France
“A Thousand Months,” Faouzi Bensaidi, Morocco/France
“Young Adam,” David Mackenzie, Scotland
“The Kids Are Alright,” Jeff Stein, U.K., 109 min., 1979. Walter Reade Theater
“The Best of Youth,” Marco Tullio Giordana, Italy, 2003, 366 min., Miramax Films, Walter Reade Theater
“Piccadilly,” Ewald Andre Dumont, U.K., 1929, 109 min., b&w with live musical accompaniment, Alice Tully hall
“Stalingrad,” Sebastian Dehnhardt, Germany, 156 min., 2003, Walter Reade Theater
“Yasujiro Ozu: A Centenary Celebration,” Walter Reade theater
“Views From the Avant-Garde,” experimental works by various filmmakers, Walter Reade Theater