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Cinephiles Rejoice! NY FILM FESTIVAL LINEUP — 36, no ! 37 Features in Main Slate — Sept 27 – October 13

NYFF51 Main Slate Announced with Record 36 Titles

+ 12 YEARS A SLAVE Screening


touch-of-sin-1_2565459b


A Touch of Sin

 

FIlm Society of Lincoln Center announced the Main Slate of the 51st New York Film Festival and, with 36 highly anticipated feature films, it is the biggest Main Slate the festival has ever seen. A Special screening of the Steve McQueen triumph, 12 YEARS A SLAVE, can actually raise that number of films to 37. This does not include the Convergence, Restoration, Motion Portraits or Documentary sections.

Familiar faces feature over 20 filmmakers making a return to NYFF, some of them for the fifth, sixth, seventh time! Filmmakers returning to the NYFF who have had multiple films selected in the main slate in past editions include:

Catherine Breillat (36 FILLETTE, NYFF 1988; FAT GIRL, NYFF 2000; THE LAST MISTRESS, NYFF 2007; and BLUEBEARD, NYFF 2009) with ABUSE IS WEAKNESS

Ethan and Joel Coen (BLOOD SIMPLE, NYFF 1984, MILLER’S CROSSING, NYFF 1990 and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, NYFF 2007) with INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

Claire Denis (BEAU TRAVAIL, NYFF 1999; FRIDAY NIGHT, NYFF 2002; and WHITE MATERIAL, NYFF 2009) with BASTARDS

Arnaud Desplechin (LA SENTINELLE, NYFF 1992; MY SEX LIFE…OR HOW I GOT INTO AN ARGUMENT, NYFF 1996; KINGS AND QUEENS, NYFF 2004; and A CHRISTMAS TALE, NYFF 2008) with JIMMY P: PSYCHOTHERAPY OF A PLAINS INDIAN

Agnieszka Holland (ANGRY HARVEST, NYFF 1985; OLIVIER OLIVIER, NYFF 1992; and WASHINGTON SQUARE, NYFF 1997); with BURNING BUSH

Jim Jarmusch (STRANGER THAN PARADISE, NYFF 1984; DOWN BY LAW, NYFF 1986; MYSTERY TRAIN, NYFF 1989; and NIGHT ON EARTH, NYFF 1991) with ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE

Kiyoshi Kurosawa (TOKYO SONATA, NYFF 2008; and LICENSE TO LIVE, NYFF 1999) with REAL

Alexander Payne (ABOUT SCHMIDT, NYFF 2002; SIDEWAYS, NYFF 2004; and THE DESCENDANTS, NYFF 2011) with NEBRASKA

Hong Sang-soo (TURNING GATE, NYFF 2002; WOMAN IS THE FUTURE OF MAN, NYFF 2004; TALE OF CINEMA, NYFF 2005; WOMAN ON THE BEACH, NYFF 2006; NIGHT AND DAY, NYFF 2008; and OKI’S MOVIE, NYFF 2010) with NOBODY’S DAUGHTER HAEWON

Frederick Wiseman (NEAR DEATH, NYFF 1989, PUBLIC HOUSING, NYFF 1997, BOXING GYM, NYFF 2010 and CRAZY HORSE, NYFF 2011) with AT BERKELEY

Jia Zhangke (PLATFORM, NYFF 2000; UNKNOWN PLEASURES, NYFF 2002; THE WORLD, NYFF 2004; USELESS, NYFF 2007; and 24 CITY, NYFF 2008) with A TOUCH OF SIN

Rounding out the list of returning NYFF main slate alumni are; Hany Abu-Assad (PARADISE NOW, NYFF 2005) with OMAR; French filmmakers Philippe Garrel (THE INNER SCAR, NYFF 1972 and REGULAR LOVERS, NYFF 2005) with JEALOUSY; and Alain Guiraudie (THAT OLD DREAM THAT MOVES, NYFF 2002) with STRANGER BY THE LAKE; the directors of the Opening Night and Closing Night Gala selections Paul Greengrass (BLOODY SUNDAY, NYFF 2002) with CAPTAIN PHILLIPS; and Spike Jonze (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, NYFF 1999) with HER;  Cannes award winner Abdellatif Kechiche (BLACK VENUS, NYFF 2010) with BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR; and Steve McQueen (SHAME, NYFF 2012) with 12 YEARS A SLAVE.

Other returnees include Hayao Miyazaki (PRINCESS MONONOKE, NYFF 1997) with THE WIND RISES; Tsai Ming-liang (WHAT TIME IS IT THERE?, NYFF 2001 and GOOD BYE, DRAGON INN, NYFF 2003) with STRAY DOGS; documentarian Claude Lanzmann (ISRAEL, WHY, NYFF 1973 and SOBIBOR, OCTOBER 14, 1943, 4PM, NYFF 2001) with THE LAST OF THE UNJUST; Romanian filmmaker Corneliu Porumboiu (POLICE, ADJECTIVE, NYFF 2009) with WHEN EVENING FALLS ON BUCHAREST OR METABOLISM; and Roger Michell, who returns to the New York Film Festival just one year after screening his film HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (NYFF 2012) with LE WEEK-END.

There is also the sense of finding Oscar caliber gems among the offerings. Last Year’s festival provided the first look at Ang Lee’s remarkable LIFE OF PI and featured Michael Haneke’s AMOUR. The year before, the NYFF heralded both THE DESCENDANTS and THE ARTIST.

But the Festival is also renowned for providing a look at uncompromising cinema that really might not be seen anywhere else. There is a palpable sense of the Festival, with its accompanying sidebars, as providing a glimpse of the next level of cinema’s frontier – be it digital, transmedia, experimental, documentary or even narrative form. Cinema as high-wire act, sometimes without a net. There can be a hopeful leap into the void; sometimes even the celebrated filmmakers stumble and fall.

Thankfully, a fair number of women directors will have their films engaging minds at the 51st edition of the Festival.

“Cinema is a vast terrain with a complex ecology, encompassing a mind-bending 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.”

Diversity abounds – subject, filmmaker, country of origin. Entries arrive in New York after celebrated debuts at Cannes , Locarno, Berlin, and Sundance. They come from 15 countries and represent filmmaking debuts and the returns of long-loved masters.

NYFF51 finally arrives, September 27 – October 13.

General Public tickets will go on sale September 8 after a Member pre-sale period. Become a Member to take advantage ofr great benefits. To find out more, click here.

To sign up for email updates about the 51st New York Film Festival, click here.

 

JE M'APPELLE HMMM 8 - Lou-Lélia Demerliac

Je M’appelle Hmmm

 

Award winners from past festivals presented for the first time to New York audiences include; Abdellatif Kechiche’s BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR, the winner of the 2013 Cannes Palme d’Or (which in a first, was awarded to both of its lead actresses, Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux, as well as the director); Joel and Ethan Coen’s INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS, which won the festival’s Grand Prix Award; Jia Zhangke’s A TOUCH OF SIN, winner for Best Screenplay; Rithy Panh’s THE MISSING PICTURE, winner of the Certain Regard Prize and Hany Abu-Assad’s OMAR, which won the Certain Regard Jury Prize; and  Alexander Payne’s NEBRASKA, which features Cannes Best Actor winner Bruce Dern. Additional award winners were Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson’s AMERICAN PROMISE, which won a U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and Sebastián Lelio’s GLORIA, whose star Pauline Garcia took home the Berlin Film Festival’s Silver Bear for Best Actress.

American and British comedies are a significant presence in this year’s lineup of of main slate official selections with Richard Curtis’s ABOUT TIME, a romantic comedy about a family whose men have the ability to travel in time, starring Bill Nighy and Rachel McAdams; Declan Lowney’s ALAN PARTRIDGE, which brings Steve Coogan’s legendary television character to the big screen for the first time; Roger Michell’s LE WEEK-END, featuring Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan as a couple visiting Paris with hopes of rekindling their relationship; and Alexander Payne’s NEBRASKA, about a father and son (Bruce Dern and Will Forte) on a road trip to pick up a million dollar prize that may or may not await them; and the previously announced Centerpiece and Closing Night Gala selections, Ben Stiller’s THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY and Spike Jonze’s HER.

Documentary filmmaking legends Claude Lanzmann and Frederick Wiseman each make their third appearances in NYFF’s main slate. Lanzmann returns with THE LAST OF THE UNJUST, a portrait of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish elder of Theresienstadt, once despised by many of its surviving inhabitants. Wiseman turns his camera toward the University of California, Berkeley, with his latest film, AT BERKELEY.

 

Main Slate lineup for the 51st New York Film Festival:

ABOUT TIME (2013) 123m
Director: Richard Curtis
Country: UK
Richard Curtis adds a touch of time-travel to this hilarious romantic comedy, a perfect vehicle for the comic talents of Bill Nighy, Rachel McAdams, Lindsay Duncan, and emerging star Domhnall Gleeson. A Universal Pictures release.

Richard Curtis wrote the screenplay for FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL, which made an overnight star out of an obscure Hugh Grant. Lindsay Duncan wowed Broadway and U.K. audiences opposite (a pre-DIE HARD) Alan Rickman in the brilliant stageplay of Les Liasons Dangereaux. But the real reason to watch might be Rachel McAdams, who knocked it out of the park with her woefully underrated performances in THE HOT CHICK and MEAN GIRLS before attracting major plaudits in WEDDING CRASHERS and THE NOTEBOOK. Despite major roles in everything from RED EYE to THE TIME TRAVELLER’S WIFE to last year’s NYFF entry, the dismal PASSION, she has never duplicated her early success. Can Curtis deliver a vehicle worthy of her gifts?

ABUSE OF WEAKNESS (Abus de Faiblesse) (2013) 105m
Director: Catherine Breillat
Country: France
Catherine Breillat’s haunting film about her 2004 stroke and subsequent self-destructive relationship with star swindler Christophe Rocancourt, starring Isabelle Huppert.

Breillat remains at the vanguard of French feminist cinema, with a keen eye at detailing the emotional life of women. Isabelle Huppert has consistently exploded French cinema with her unabashed intensity and profound subtlety.

ALAN PARTRIDGE (2013) 90m
Director: Declan Lowney
Country: UK
In the long-awaited big-screen debut of Steve Coogan’s singular comic creation, the vain and obliviously tactless Alan Partridge must serve as an intermediary when North Norfolk Digital is seized at gunpoint by a down-sized DJ.

Although big in the U.K., Coogan’s television creation Alan Partridge has a small but devoted cult following in the U.S. But character and situation might merge as powerfully as earlier UK import BEAN did years ago to breakout success.

ALL IS LOST (2013) 107m
Director: J.C. Chandor
Country: USA
Robert Redford as you’ve never seen him before, gives a near-wordless all-action performance as a lone sailor trying to keep his yacht afloat after a collision with a discarded shipping container in the middle of the Indian Ocean. A Roadside Attractions release.

JC Chandor delivered a wallop with MARGIN CALL and an ensemble of talented actors. Word from Cannes is that Redford’s performance is almost certainly on the Oscar shortlist.

AMERICAN PROMISE (2013) 135m
Directors: Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson
Country: USA
Two Brooklyn filmmakers follow their son Idris and his friend Suen from their enrollment in the Dalton School as children through their high school graduations in this devastating, years-in-the-making documentary that takes a hard look at race and class in America.

A Sundance Award Winner. Documentaries are extremely strong this season, but the years of devotion by veteran African American filmmaker and psychologist Joe Brewster ( THE KEEPER) and acclaimed filmmaker Stephenson make this penetrating look a standout.

AT BERKELEY (2013) 244m
Director: Frederick Wiseman
Country: USA
Another masterfully constructed documentary from Frederick Wiseman, examining the University of California, Berkeley from multiple angles – the administrators, the students, the surrounding community – to arrive at a portrait that is as rich in detail as it is epic in scope.

Frederick Wiseman does not make short films. Wiseman, at 83, is a legendary grandmaster of the documentary form and, in many ways, defined the art.

BASTARDS (Les Salauds) (2013) 100m
Director: Claire Denis
Country: France
Claire Denis’s jagged, daringly fragmented and deeply unsettling film inspired by recent French sex ring scandals is the rarest of cinematic narratives—a contemporary film noir, perfect in substance as well as style.

The scandal surrounding the once future head of the World Bank displayed by the unsentimental filmmaker who artfully rendered distillations of colonialism and Herman Melville in her early years and vampires in her recent ones. A former assistant director to Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, Constantin Costa-Gavras, she continually evolves as a complex filmmaker with a keen ear for sound and eerily beautiful soundtracks.

BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR (La Vie d’Adèle) (2013) 179m
Director: Abdellatif Kechiche
Country: France
The sensation of this year’s Cannes Film Festival is an intimate – and sexually explicit – epic of emotional transformation, featuring two astonishing performances from Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux. A Sundance Selects release. Again, this film has scenes of a sexually explicit nature.

A must-see film.

BURNING BUSH (Hořicí Keř) (2013) 234m
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Country: Czech Republic
A passionately brilliant Czech mini-series from Agnieska Holland about the events that followed student Jan Palach’s public self-immolation in protest against the Soviet invasion after Prague Spring.

Another master.

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS (2013) 143m
Director: Paul Greengrass
Country: USA
Paul Greengrass has crafted an edge-of-your-seat thriller based on the true story of the seizure of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship in 2009 by four Somali pirates, with remarkable performances from Tom Hanks and four first-time actors, Barkhad Abdi, Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdirahman and Mahet M. Ali. A Sony Pictures release.

Greengrass is a brilliant filmmaker who has previously delivered BLOODY SUNDAY and UNITED 93 with evenhanded fairness and has delivered thrilling set-pieces in THE BOURNE SUPREMACY and THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, but we worry about the politics of this film and will reserve judgment. The foreign poster art has not been encouraging.

CHILD OF GOD (2013) 104m
Director: James Franco
Country: USA, 2013
James Franco’s uncompromising excursion into American Gothic, adapted from Cormac McCarthy’s 1973 novel, about an unstable sociopath in early 60s rural Tennessee who descends into an animal-like state – not for the faint-hearted.

Can’t wait.  #JamesFranco. Cormac McCarthy.

GLORIA (2013) 110m
Director: Sebastián Lelio
Countries: Chile/Spain
A wise, funny, liberating movie from Chile, about a middle-aged woman who finds romance but whose new partner finds it painfully difficult to abandon his old habits. A Roadside Attractions release.

HER (2013)
Director: Spike Jonze
Country: USA
In Spike Jonze’s magical, melancholy comedy of the near future, lonely Joaquin Phoenix falls in love with his new all-purpose operating system (the voice of Scarlett Johansson), leading to romantic and existential complications. A Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Early interviews have suggested a feminist take from the director of BEING JOHN MALKOVICH.

THE IMMIGRANT (2013) 117m
Director: James Gray
Country: USA
In James Gray’s richly detailed period tragedy, set in a dusty, sepia-toned 1920s Manhattan, a young Polish immigrant (Marion Cotillard) is caught in a dangerous battle of wills with a shady burlesque manager (Joaquin Phoenix). A Radius release.

James Gray works with an always stunning Cotillard and frequent collaborator Joaquin Phoenix in one of two films featuring Phoenix at the Festival.

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS (2013) 105m
Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Country: USA
Joel and Ethan Coen’s picaresque, panoramic and wryly funny story of a singer/songwriter is set in the New York folk scene of the early 60s and features a terrific array of larger-than-life characters and a glorious score of folk standards. A CBS Films release.

John Goodman. #JustinTimberlake. The music of T Bone Burnett.

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN (2013) 111m
Director: Ralph Fiennes
Country: UK
Ralph Fiennes directs and stars as Charles Dickens in this adaptation of Claire Tomalin’s revelatory 1992 biography, which brought the upright Victorian author’s secret 13-year affair with a young actress to light. A Sony Pictures Classics Release.

Fiennes is also being honored at the Festival this year with a GALA TRIBUTE.

JEALOUSY (La Jalousie) (2013) 77m
Director: Philippe Garrel
Country: France
Another intimate, handcrafted work of poetic autobiographical cinema from French director Philippe Garrel, in which his son Louis and Anna Mouglalis star as actors and lovers trying to reconcile their professional and personal lives.

JIMMY P: PSYCHOTHERAPY OF A PLAINS INDIAN (2013) 114m
Director: Arnaud Desplechin
Country: France
In Arnaud Desplechin’s intelligent and moving depiction of a successful “Talking Cure,” the encounters between patient (Benicio del Toro) and therapist (Mathieu Amalric) are electric with discovery.

THE LAST OF THE UNJUST (Le Dernier des injustes) (2013) 218m
Director: Claude Lanzmann
Countries: France/Austria
This moral and cinematic tour de force from the creator of SHOAH will cause you to reconsider your understanding of Adolph Eichmann and of Benjamin Murmelstein, the last Jewish elder of Theresienstadt and the film’s central figure.

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (Soshite Chichi ni Naru) (2013) 120m
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Country: Japan
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s sensitive drama takes a close look at two families’ radically different approaches to the horribly painful realization that the sons they have raised as their own were switched at birth. A Sundance Selects release.

THE MISSING PICTURE (L’image manquante) (2013) 92m
Director: Rithy Panh
Country: Cambodia
Filmmaker Rithy Panh’s brave new film revisits his memories of four years spent under the Khmer Rouge and the destruction of his family and his culture; without a single memento left behind, he creates his “missing images” with narration and painstakingly executed dioramas. A Strand release.

MY NAME IS HMMM… (Je m’appelle Hmmm…) (2013) 121m
Director: agnès b
Country: France
In this deeply personal, incandescent first feature from designer agnès B, a young girl holding her family together and bearing the weight of sexual abuse runs away from home and enjoys a carefree idyll with a kindly Scottish trucker.

NEBRASKA (2013) 115m
Director: Alexander Payne
Country: USA
This masterful film from Alexander Payne, about a quiet old man (Bruce Dern) whose mild-mannered son (Will Forte) agrees to drive him from Montana to Nebraska to claim a non-existent prize, shades from the comic to multiple hues of melancholy and regret. A Paramount Pictures release.

Alexander Payne’s followup to THE DESCENDANTS has an #AcademyAwards worthy performance from Hollywood rebel and icon Bruce Dern.

NOBODY’S DAUGHTER HAEWON (Nugu-ui ttal-do anin Haewon) (2013) 90m
Director: Hong Sang-soo
Country: South Korea
A young student at loose ends after her mother moves to America tries to define herself one encounter and experience at a time, in reality and in dreams, in another deceptively simple chamber-piece from South Korean master Hong Sang-soo.

NORTE, THE END OF HISTORY (Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan) (2013) 250m
Director: Lav Diaz
Country: Philippines
Filipino director Lav Diaz’s twelfth feature—at four-plus hours, one of his shortest—is a careful rethinking of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, with a tortured anti-hero who is a haunting embodiment of the dead ends of ideology.

OMAR (2013) 96m
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Country: Palestinian Territories
A tense, gripping, ticking clock thriller about betrayal, suspected and real, in the Occupied Territories, from Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now).

Recommended.

ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (2013) 123m
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Country: USA
Jim Jarmusch’s wry, tender and moving take on the vampire genre features Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as a centuries-old couple who watch time go by from separate continents as they reflect on the ever-changing world around them. A Sony Pictures Classics release.

A New York independent filmmaker who, like the Coen Brothers, can command a global sensibility in his approach to film. Always recommended.

REAL

Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa

REAL is Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s first feature since his 2008 TOKYO SONATA (which was an NYFF Main Slate selection as was his film, LICENSE TO LIVE in 1999), and is at once the most romantic and tender film of his career, and entirely consistent with the rest of his unparalleled body of work. It is also, as always, as visually and tonally exquisite as it is unsettling. A star manga artist (Haruka Ayase) is in a coma, the result perhaps of a suicide attempt. In an experimental medical procedure, her husband (Takeru Satô) enters her unconscious in an attempt to awaken her. But when one psyche merges with another, mirror opposites are the possible, troubling result. A haunting successor to the mother of all time travel films, Chris Marker’s LA JETÉE, with a tip of the hat to Bong Joon-ho’s THE HOST, REAL finds its mysteries in the ordinary. What does it mean to be coupled? Can love conquer death? A unique film from one of the most unique artists in contemporary cinema.

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THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY (2013)
Director: Ben Stiller
Country: USA
Ben Stiller stars in and directs this sweet, globe-trotting (but New York-based) comic fable about an up-to-the-minute everyman, co-starring Kristen Wiig as the woman of his dreams, Sean Penn as a legendary photographer and Shirley MacLaine as Walter’s mother. A Twentieth Century Fox release.

Ben Stiller shot this reportedly $90M film by assuring studio executives that it would be more like FORREST GUMP and less like BEING JOHN MALKOVICH. Kristen Wiig displayed big screen talent in BRIDESMAIDS and will bring this film much attention.

THE SQUARE (2013) 104m
Director: Jehane Noujaim
Country: USA/Egypt
Jehane Noujaim’s tense, vivid verité portrait of events as they unfolded in Tahrir Square through Arab Spring and beyond, in a newly revised, up-to-the-minute version.

Yes.

STRANGER BY THE LAKE (L’Inconnu du lac) (2013) 97m
Director: Alain Guiraudie
Country: France
Alain Guiraudie’s lethally precise, sexually explicit film, which unfolds entirely in the vicinity of a gay cruising ground, is both a no-holds-barred depiction of a hedonistic subculture and a perverse and unnerving tale of amour fou. A Strand release. Again, this film has scenes of a sexually explicit nature.

STRAY DOGS (Jiao You) (2013) 138m
Director: Tsai Ming-liang
Country: Taiwan
Tsai Ming-liang’s fable of a homeless family living the cruelest of existences on the ragged edges of the modern world is bracingly pure in its anger and its compassion, and as visually powerful as it is emotionally overwhelming.

This film is highly recommended.

A TOUCH OF SIN (Tian Zhu Ding) (2013) 133m
Director: Jia Zhangke
Country: China
Jia Zhangke’s bloody, bitter new film builds a portrait of modern-day China in the midst of rapid and convulsive change through four overlapping stories of marginalized and oppressed citizens pushed to murderous rage. A Kino Lorber release.

LE WEEK-END (2013) 93m
Director: Roger Michell
Country: UK
A magically buoyant, bittersweet comedy drama about a middle-aged and middle class English couple who go to Paris for a weekend holiday, starring two of Britain’s national treasures, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan. A Music Box Films release.

One of two films at the Festival with the underrated and wonderful Lindsay Duncan.

WHEN EVENING FALLS ON BUCHAREST OR METABOLISM (2013) 89m
Director: Corneliu Porumboiu
Countries: Romania/France
A rigorously structured and fascinatingly oblique new film from Corneliu Porumboiu that examines the life of a film director during the moments on a shoot when the camera isn’t rolling.

THE WIND RISES (Kaze Tachinu) (2013) 126m
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Country: Japan
The great Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s new film is based on the life of Jiro Hirokoshi, the man who designed the Zero fighter. An elliptical historical narrative, THE WIND RISES is also a visionary cinematic poem about the fragility of humanity.

Brilliant animation from a master who has just announced his retirement.

12 YEARS A SLAVE

Director: Steve McQueen

Country: United Kingdom

The true story of Solomon Northup, a free black who was duped and kidnapped during a performance in Washington D.C. and then endured the titular 12 years of cruelty and degradation as he tried to return to freedom.

This is reportedly everything DJANGO UNCHAINED should have been, in terms of its depiction of the true horrors of actual slavery. Brad Pitt’s PLAN B production company shepherds director McQueen’s serious bid for an Oscar. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a harrowing performance. McQueen’s frequent collaborator Michael Fassbender  (HUNGER; SHAME, NYFF 2011) gives an unflinching portrayal of the dark side of humanity. Brad Pitt, Quevenzhané Wallis, Michael K. Williams, Sarah Paulson and Alfre Woodward join Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti and  a stunning newcomer named Lupita Nyong’o.   A must see.

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