N.Y. festival gets ready for ‘Class’

Cannes Palme D'Or winner to open event

The 46th New York Film Festival will kick off its opening night with Laurent Cantet’s “The Class,” this year’s Palme d’Or winner at Cannes.

New York fest, which runs Sept. 26-Oct. 12, will unspool at the Ziegfeld due to renovations at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall.

“The Class,” which will be distribbed by Sony Pictures Classics, is based on Francois Begaudeau’s book “Entre les murs.” It follows a junior high class over the course of a year as it tests its teacher’s methods.

Three of Cantet’s four films have been included in the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s programs: “Human Resources” (New Directors/New Films), “Time Out” (NYFF) and “Heading South” (Rendezvous With French Cinema).

“Laurent Cantet has pioneered a new kind of social cinema,” said selection committee chair Richard Pena, “one that explores the key issues of our day, from contemporary labor struggles to First World/Third World relations and now to education, with a startling boldness and freshness in approach.”

Fest, sponsored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, is designed to showcase a wide range of pics and shorts from around the world. The final selections are not yet determined, and the number of films under consideration is unknown as viewing continues at a furious pace. Last year’s five-member committee (the same as this year) winnowed the list from 1,700 contenders. The entire slate will be chosen by Aug. 8, with an effort made to give filmmakers time to finish films still in progress.

Critics and curators of the fest are Pena, committee chair and program director at the Film Society; Kent Jones, associate director of programming at the Film Society; Scott Foundas, film editor and chief film critic for L.A. Weekly; J. Hoberman, senior film critic at the Village Voice; and Lisa Schwarzbaum, film critic at Entertainment Weekly.

The fest has a good reputation for showcasing awards contenders. Last year’s slate included Palme d’Or winner “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” and the Oscar-nommed “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” “I’m Not There,” “Persepolis” and best pic winner “No Country for Old Men.”

Industry insiders suggest pics on this year’s shortlist for the New York Film Festival may include Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling” and Ari Folman’s “Waltz With Bashir.” Other movies likely to make at least the final round in the selection process include Steven Soderbergh’s two-part “Che”; Charlie Kaufman’s enigmatic “Synecdoche, New York”; Gus Van Sant’s “Milk” (if finished in time); one of Claire Denis’ two films, “35 Rhums” or “White Materials”; John Hillcoat’s adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”; and Ron Howard’s “Frost/Nixon.”

The fest also provides sidebars to the main lineup with historical and alternative perspectives. Japanese filmmaker Nagisa Oshima’s work will be celebrated with the series “In the Realm of Oshima,” which will include “Boy,” “The Ceremony,” “In the Realm of the Senses” and “Violence at Noon.”

The avant-garde portion in the fest’s second weekend will feature a 30th anni presentation of lefty thinker and filmmaker Guy Debord’s “In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni” (At Night We Walk in Circles and Are Consumed by Fire).