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Frank J. Avella’s
Film Column
51st New York Film Festival
September 27 – October 13

Opposite Photo:
Alexander Payne’s Nebraska


Fall Film Frenzy Begins

With 15 countries represented and over 20 returning filmmakers, the 51st New York Film Festival should prove to be a most diverse and exciting presentation of some of the best cinema in the world today. The Film Society of Lincoln Center’s cinephilic celebration has always been a bit snobbish and exclusive (ergo: quality) and this year is no different with many of the selections (as is the norm) coming directly from Cannes.

What is surprising is just how many U.S. films will be featured at this year’s festival. They include:

--J.C. Chandor’s All is Lost, starring Robert Redford and only Robert Redford

--Joe Brewster & Michele Stephenson’s years-in-the-making doc, American Promise

--Master filmmaker Frederick Wiseman’s towering 4-hour doc, At Berkeley

--Paul Greengrass’s Captain Phillips, with an Oscar-bound Tom Hank, selected as the Opening Night feature

--Ubiquitous maverick James Franco’s study of a sociopath, Child of God, based on Cormac McCarthey’s 1973 novel

--Spike Jonze’s eagerly anticipated Her, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson—the Closing Night selection

--James Gray’s tragedy, The Immigrant, with Marion Cotillard and, once again, Joaquin Phoenix

--Joel and Ethan Coen’s already highly praised Inside Llewyn Davis.

--Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, which has Bruce Dern in the most lauded role of his career

--Indie-icon Jim Jarmusch’s take on vampires, Only Lovers Left Alive, starring Tilda Swinton & Tom Hiddleston

--Ben Stiller’s remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, chosen as the Festival Centerpiece

In addition to the fantastic slate above, other anticipated entries include:

--Abdellatif Kechiche’s audacious Blue is the Warmest Color (La Vie d’Adele), from France, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes and one of the most controversial films in years.

--Agnieszka Holland’s Burning Bush, a near 4-hour narrative feature from the Czech Republic.

--Sebastian Lelio’s Gloria, Chile’s selection for Best Foreign Language Film consideration

--Ralph Fiennes’s The Invisible Woman (UK), which stars…Ralph Fiennes.

--Phillipe Garrel’s Jealousy, from France, starring his son Louis.

--Claude Lanzmann’s epic The Last of the Unjust, a near-4-hour doc about Eichmann and Murmelstein, the last Jewish elder of Theresienstadt.

--Omar, Hany Abu-Assad’s gripping drama from the Palestinian Territories

--Stranger by the Lake, a sexually-explicit look at a gay, hedonistic subculture from France’s Alain Guiraudie.

--Steve McQueen’s masterpiece, 12 Years a Slave, certain to be a player in the year-end awards insanity and, regardless of how it fares, one of the most extraordinary achievements of 2013.

And many more movies, certain to shock, provoke, entertain and enlighten.

“Cinema is a vast terrain with a complex ecology, encompassing a mindbending array of species and habitats," commented NYFF Director of Programming Kent Jones. "I love the level of diversity in the main slate selections, which includes documentaries, biographies, comedies, adventures, epics, chamber pieces, elegies, explorations and affirmations. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did."

And don’t forget the host of other treats this year like HBO On Cinema conversation with James Gray, HBO Directors Dialogue series with Richard Curtis, Paul Greengrass, Agnieszka Holland and Frederick Wiseman, a slew of new short films, the Emerging Artists, Convergence (technology meets storytelling) and View from the Avante-Garde screenings…and so much more.

For more information, visit and follow @filmlinc on Twitter.

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