Azazel Jacobs’ “French Exit,” the story of a Manhattan socialite who jettisons her old life for a new one in Paris, has been selected as the closing night feature of the 58th New York Film Festival.
The film, which stars Oscar-nominees Michelle Pfeiffer and Lucas Hedges, will make its world premiere at the festival, which is expected to be a mixture of physical and virtual events due to the coronavirus pandemic. Plans are still being formalized by Film at Lincoln Center, the group behind the annual celebration of moviemaking, but some of these screenings will likely take place outside. COVID-19 has forced many film festivals, such as Toronto, to upend their plans, leaning on digital events and drive-ins, while others, such as Telluride, have opted not to host gatherings this year.
In “French Exit,” Pfeiffer plays Frances Price, widow who has lost her fortune. Her impending financial ruin causes her to move to a friend’s empty Paris apartment with her son, Malcolm (Hedges), and their cat, Small Frank (voiced by Tracy Letts). “French Exit” is an adaptation of Patrick deWitt’s novel of the same name. It’s a Sony Pictures Classics release.
“NYFF is the film festival I grew up attending,” said Jacobs. “I remember seeing ‘Night On Earth’ for the first time, and waiting afterwards to hand Jim Jarmusch a fan letter. I remember that same year seeing Gus Van Sant’s ‘My Own Private Idaho’ and having my aim to become a filmmaker only more solidified. I’m grateful to the NYFF for allowing ‘French Exit’ to premiere in the city I was raised in, and love, and to all who are undoubtedly working tirelessly to make this event happen.”
Jacobs’s previous works include “The Lovers” and “Terri.”
“We’ve been watching New York filmmaker Azazel Jacobs for more than a decade, since his film Momma’s Man screened in our New Directors/New Films festival in 2008,” said New York Film Festival Director Eugene Hernandez. “Now, we’re honored that he’ll make his NYFF debut with Closing Night selection French Exit, a tour-de-force collaboration with Michelle Pfeiffer that we can’t wait to share with audiences in NYC and beyond.”
Steve McQueen’s “Lovers Rock,” a love story set during a blues party, will be the festival’s opening night film.