The 50th New York Film Festival boasts world premieres, a transmedia symposium and a gala tribute to outgoing programming director Richard Pena, who is stepping down later this year after 25 years at the helm.

World premieres of Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” adaptation and Denzel Washington starrer “Flight” bookend a lineup that includes Leos Carax’s surreal “Holy Motors” and Joao Pedro Rodrigues’ semi-experimental “The Last Time I Saw Macao.”

The world premiere of David Chase’s “Not Fade Away” and a tribute for Nicole Kidman are also on the golden anniversary lineup, with Pena’s tribute slotted Oct. 10.

“This year’s festival belongs to Richard,” says Film Society of Lincoln Center exec director Rose Kuo.

The fest, which balances the arty and popular, was treated warily at the start.

“Beatniks at Lincoln Center,” reads a headline in Variety ‘s coverage of the festival’s launch in 1963: “From the start, the staff at the Philharmonic Hall in the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, where the first New York Film Festival is concurrent, has noted the barber-boycotting, unwashed, unkempt, beatnik brand of a portion of the crowd which has the high admission price for the cinematic display but seemingly care little for their personal display.”

By the fest’s conclusion, however, the paper termed it “an unqualified success.”

A chapter begins next year when Kent Jones and Robert Koehler take over. But this year, organizers emphasize, it’s also time to celebrate Pena’s achievement.


‘Pi’ opener
6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28: Alice Tully Hall. Director Ang Lee will be there for “Life of Pi” preem.

‘Bride’ reunion
9 p.m. Oct. 2: Alice Tully Hall, director Rob Reiner and key cast will toast 25th anniversary of “The Princess Bride.”

Kidman kudos
8:30 p.m. Oct. 3: Alice Tully Hall, fest salutes Nicole Kidman, followed by screening of “The Paperboy,” with director Lee Daniels on hand.

Oliver Stone’s history lesson
1 p.m. Oct. 6: Walter Reade Theater, sneak preview of Stone’s Showtime series, followed by panel discussion.

David Chase’s bigscreen debut
6 p.m. Oct. 6: Alice Tully Hall, Chase will show off “Not Fade Away,” his feature directing debut.

De Palma vs. Baumbach
6 p.m. Oct. 7: Walter Reade Theater, the directors discuss their new films and their influences.

Pena salute
8:30 p.m. Oct. 10: Alice Tully Hall, fest honors outgoing program director for 25 years of leadership.

‘Flight’ closer
6 p.m. Oct. 14: Alice Tully Hall, star Denzel Washington and director Robert Zemeckis to attend.

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Pena exits NYFF with most ambitious fest yet