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Joel Coen’s ‘Tragedy of Macbeth’ With Frances McDormand, Denzel Washington Will Open New York Film Festival

The Tragedy of Macbeth
Courtesy of New York Film Festival

The Thane of Cawdor is hitting the Upper West Side.

Joel Coen’s “The Tragedy of Macbeth” will make its world premiere as the opening night film of the 59th New York Film Festival. The update on the William Shakespeare’s classic tale of sound and fury stars Denzel Washington as the title character and Frances McDormand as his scheming wife. Coen and McDormand are married and have previously collaborated to memorable effect on the likes of “Fargo” and “Blood Simple.” “The Tragedy of Macbeth” is a rare solo directing outing for Joel Coen, who makes most of his movies as one half of the Coen Brothers along with Ethan Coen.

“The Tragedy of Macbeth” will screen at Alice Tully Hall on Sept. 24, Film at Lincoln Center, the non-profit behind the festival, announced. In a press release touting the movie, festival organizers described it as “a work of stark chiaroscuro and incantatory rage, Joel Coen’s boldly inventive visualization of The Scottish Play is an anguished film that stares, mouth agape, at a sorrowful world undone by blind greed and thoughtless ambition.”

“The Tragedy of Macbeth” will be released by Apple and A24 this fall. Macbeth and his ill-considered power grab have been a frequent cinematic subject over the years, with auteurs like Orson Welles and Roman Polanski putting their spin on the Bard’s tale of bloody ambition.

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“The New York Film Festival is a place where I’ve been watching movies as an audience member and showing them as a filmmaker for almost 50 years,” Coen said. “It’s a real privilege and a thrill to be opening the festival this year with The Tragedy of…”

Last year’s festival was overhauled to be an entirely digital affair due to COVID. The 2021 edition will return to in-person screenings when it unfolds from Sept. 24 to Oct. 10, 2021.

“We can’t wait to welcome New York Film Festival audiences back to Lincoln Center this fall, and what a way to do that!” said Eugene Hernandez, director of the New York Film Festival. “With Joel Coen, Frances McDormand, Denzel Washington, and our friends at Apple and A24 on Opening Night at Alice Tully Hall, we’re setting the stage for a momentous return to our roots.”

Hernandez said that while the festival will return to its Lincoln Center home, some things will be different from its pre-pandemic iterations.

“You’ll also find us exploring new venues and ways to connect with moviegoers in person, outdoors, and online — stay tuned!” he added.