Films at the 34th New York Film Festival

(Film descriptions on this page courtesy of the New York Film Festival)

SECRETS AND LIES. The acclaimed Palme D'Or (Best Film) winner at Cannes, Mike Leigh's wonderful new film confirms his status as the poet laureate of modern family life. The story concerns Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn, Best Actress at Cannes), a working-class white woman whose life is turned around when she discovers that a black optometrist is the child she gave up for adoption 27 years ago. Created like Leigh's other films after long months of improvisation, Secrets and Lies has warmth, humor, but above all, an unflinching honesty in capturing the everyday evasions and deceptions that can define our lives. 142 minutes. France/UK, 1996. An October Films Release.
27A. Fri. September 27 at 8:00 pm ATH, 27B. Fri. September 27 at 8:30 pm AFH

SALUT COUSIN. Alilo, a wide-eyed Algerian waif sent to Paris to pick up a suitcase of merchandise for his boss, is taken in by his fast-talking, rap singing cousin Mok, who's going to show him the ropes of Parisian life. With the good-natured, pathological liar Mok as his friend, Alilo needs no enemies. Director Merzack Allouache, exiled from Algeria for his cinematic attack on fundamentalist extremists, reveals his generous gift for comedy in the creation of these two memorable, appealing misfits. But under the bouncy surface you can hear the gritty, melancholy music of exile. 95 minutes. France/Algeria, 1996. A Seventh Arts Releasing Release.
28A. Sat. September 28 at 12:00 Noon, 29C. Sun. September 29 at 7:00 pm

IRMA VEP. The way that writer-director Olivier Assayas (Cold Water) pays homage to Feuillade's silent serial Les Vampires is not only to imagine a contemporary remake-in-progress, with Hong Kong superstar Maggie Cheung as Musidora and New Wave icon Jean-Pierre Leaud as director, but also to improvise as Feuillade did, letting the unconscious go to work. What emerges is a dark and mysterious comedy about the intrigues around a movie set, as well as a droll meditation on the state of world cinema today. 98 minutes. France, 1996.
28B. Sat. September 28 at 3:00 pm, 29D. Sun. September 29 at 9:45 pm

BEYOND THE CLOUDS. A work of unsurpassed beauty from one of the cinema's great masters, Beyond the Clouds, Michelangelo Antonioni's first film since 1982, is unmistakably the director's creation, an astonishing achievement in view his long term illness. Drawn from short stories in Antonioni's book, That Bowling Alley on the Tiber, the film's four episodes are linked by their common exploration of romantic obsession. Yet, as in all of Antonioni's greatest works, "story" is subordinate to image, to the filmmaker's vision of place and subject, to the act of looking that is at the heart of a character's (or a filmgoer's) desire. With John Malkovich, Fanny Ardant, Irene Jacob and Peter Weller. 104 minutes. France/Italy/Germany, 1995.
28C. Sat. September 28 at 6:00 pm, 29A. Sun. September 29 at 1:30 pm

RECKONING. Karl tells his story to a young reporter as he's about to be released from an institution for the criminally insane, where he was incarcerated as a boy for murdering his mother and her lover. Billy Bob Thornton performed the role and wrote the screenplay for an acclaimed short film directed by George Hickenlooper, Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade (ND/NF 1994). Now Thornton expands his script and role and also directs this stunning full-length feature that takes Karl back to his hometown for a complex, humane, and ultimately tragic encounter with family life. It's an astonishing performance and a notable directorial debut. 135 minutes. USA, 1996. A Miramax Films Release.
28D. Sat. September 28 at 9:00 pm, 29B. Sun. September 29 at 4:00 pm

LE GARÇU. Gerard Depardieu, in one of his greatest performances, plays Gerard, a successful professional with an ex-wife, wife, and current mistress all in uneasy orbit. But most of his emotional life and energy is lavished on Antoine, his 4-year old son by current wife Sophie, with whom he seems incapable of achieving the kind of bond he desperately craves. Maurice Pialat (Loulou, A Nos Amours) returns to the Festival with perhaps his most challenging, deeply-felt work. 106 minutes. France, 1995.
30A. Mon. September 30 at 6:00 pm, 2B. Wed. October 2 at 9:00 pm

A SELF-MADE HERO. In Paris, during the tumultuous winter of 1945, our hero becomes a virtuoso liar and, via omissions and allusions and a great deal of study, invents a remarkable character and career as a hero of the French resistance. His entry into the corridors of power lead him into a balancing act that keeps us all in suspense. Mathieu Kassovitz (the director of Hate) plays the hero with a perfect blend of nerve, insecurity and charm. Director Jacques Audiard shapes this dry comedy using a beguiling combination of old footage, deadpan asides, an on-screen music score and fake interviews. Audiard also amusingly draws the parallel between our hero's tale and post-war France's propensity for self-deception and collective amnesia. 105 minutes. France, 1996.
30B. Mon. September 30 at 9:00 pm, 1A. Tues. October 1 at 6:00 pm

GOODBYE SOUTH, GOODBYE. Two small-time hoods try to set up a gambling den, but the competition is too stiff. Should they head to Taiwan's "Wild West" -- Shanghai, part of a new China that might be receptive to their brand of business? Or move further south, away from the power of the gangs that dominate their world? One of cinema's most striking visual stylists, Hou Hsiao-hsien (The Puppet Master, Good Men, Good Women) gives this tale of dashed dreams a powerful historical resonance that links his characters to the wholesale transformation of a society's values. 116 minutes. Japan/Taiwan, 1996.
1B. Tues. October 1 at 9:00 pm

FIRE. A tender and passionate love story develops in the dark recesses of a traditional New Delhi household signaling the slow and painful dissolution of the old order. Writer/director Deepa Mehta has crafted a compelling, sometimes shocking and very contemporary story of women breaking the bonds of obedience, fidelity and silence and of men struggling to maintain their traditional advantages while exploring the freedoms of westernized life. One of India's finest actresses, Shabana Azmi, delivers an astonishing and courageous performance as a woman spanning two worlds. 108 minutes. Canada/India, 1996.
2A. Wed. October 2 at 6:00 pm, 4B. Fri. October 4 at 9:15 pm

ILLTOWN. Illtown is a place in the mind more than a piece of geography. To say that Illtown concerns young Miami drug dealers is almost to camouflage its remarkable style and emotional substance. Writer-director Nick Gomez, already acclaimed for Laws of Gravity and New Jersey Drive, makes a major step forward with a work that draws the spectator into a seductively beautiful world combining fantasy and dream space with brutal social reality. A genre film, to be sure, but one that makes you think of classics like Little Caesar or Hawk's Scarface, not because it's one of countless imitations but because it takes their familiar codes and makes them strange and new. With Lili Taylor, Michael Rapaport, and Tony Danza. 97 minutes. USA, 1996.
3A. Thurs. October 3 at 6:00 pm, 5E. Sat. October 5 at 12:00 midnight

HOW I GOT INTO AN ARGUMENT...(my sex life). Director Arnaud Desplechin (La Sentinelle) brings his wry, insightful gaze to bear on a group of thirtyish Parisian intellectuals in this engaging "state-of-my-generation" address. At the heart of his tale is Paul, a forever grad student paralyzed at the choice of either taking his qualifying exams or leaving academia for good. Aided by a superb young cast, Desplechin weaves an intricate network of friendships, flirtations, love affairs and professional jealousies, creating a memorable and hugely entertaining portrait of a generation too self-analytic for its own good. 178 minutes. France, 1996.
3B. Thurs. October 3 at 8:45 pm, 5A. Sat. October 5 at 11:00 am

BREAKING THE WAVES. Set in a remote, tight-knit community on the rugged north coast of Scotland, Lars von Trier's (The Kingdom) new film is the story of Bess, an innocent young woman who marries an oil-rig worker shortly before a cataclysmic occurrence alters both their lives. Awarded the Jury Prize at Cannes, this harshly beautiful elegy to physical passion and spiritual transcendence features a heart-breaking, star-making performance by newcomer Emily Watson as Bess, whose very existence seems to stir up the passions long denied by her strict Calvinist community. 158 minutes. Denmark, 1996. An October Films Release.
4A. Fri. October 4 at 6:00 pm, 6A. Sun. October 6 at 1:15 pm

SUZANNE FARRELL: ELUSIVE MUSE. (working title) She came to the New York City Ballet as a teenager from Ohio and captured the heart and soul of the great Mr. B, inspiring the seminal ballets of her era and setting off a star-crossed love triangle as fevered and bizarre as anything in The Red Shoes. As the greatest ballerina of her time looks back on her amazing career in Anne Belle and Deborah Dickson's intimate portrait, the on-stage triumphs and backstage turmoil come to vivid life. Featuring copious dance footage (some never before seen) and insightful interviews with Jacques D'Amboise, Arthur Mitchell, Maurice Bejart, Edward Villella and Farrell's husband Paul Mejia. 105 minutes. USA, 1996.
5B. Sat. October 5 at 3:00 pm

TEMPTRESS MOON. Chen Kaige re-unites his Farewell My Concubine stars Gong Li and Leslie Cheung in this ravishing, searing tale set in China's twilight years between empire and republic. Zhongliang (Cheung), after working as a gigolo in Shanghai blackmail schemes, is sent by his gang boss to the Pang family estate, recently taken over by Ruyi (Gong Li), a Pang daughter, as there is no suitable male heir. The emotional maelstrom created by the successive intrigues is brilliant rendered by cinematographer Christopher Doyle, who, with director Chen, finds a way to give sexual tension a stirring physical shape. 1996, 127 minutes. China, 1996. A Miramax Films Release.
5C. Sat. October 5 at 6:00 pm, 6D. Sun. Oct. 6 at 9:45 pm

LES VOLEURS (Thieves). Festival Centerpiece. Andre Techiné (My Favorite Season, Wild Reeds) is in top form in this dense, passionate account of two brothers, a thief and a cop, as well as a troubled woman (Laurence Cote) loved by both the cop (Daniel Auteuil) and a philosophy professor (Catherine Deneuve). Structured like a Faulkner novel -- with each character providing his or her own piece of the puzzle -- the film interfaces mystery thriller, family chronicle, and somber love story with brilliant panache. 117 minutes. France, 1996. A Sony Pictures Classics Release.
5D. Sat. October 5 at 9:00 pm, 6B. Sun. October 6 at 4:15 pm

LA PROMESSE. Fifteen-year-old Igor helps his father run an illegal immigrant labor network. Their "innocent" wrong doings go sour when an African laborer falls off a scaffolding and Igor obeys his father's order to leave him there to die. Conflicted by his feelings of duty and affection for his father and by his guilt and commitment to the immigrant's surviving family, Igor faces a decision that will change his world forever. Directors Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne have cast their urgent story with richly drawn characters who struggle to find their place against the backdrop of a radically changing Europe. 90 minutes. Belgium, 1996.
6C. Sun. October 6 at 7:15 pm, 7B. Mon. October 7 at 9:00 pm

MAHJONG. Welcome to the sleek high rises and corrupt low-lifes of cosmopolitan Taipei, city of conspicuous consumption and cultural confusion. Here, a young French girl comes to pursue a love affair with an expatriate Brit who scorns her, and finds herself taken in by a gang of Taiwanese youths eager to make a buck off her, pursued by an American woman who wants to peddle her flesh, and drawn into a merry-go-round of blackmail threats, kidnappings, revenge plots and unexpected emanations of love. Director Edward (A Confucian Confusion) Yang's funny, wrenching and superbly styled panorama hurls us into 'the city of the 21st century,' where everyone is caught between a rock and a Hard Rock Cafe. 121 minutes. Taiwan, 1996.
7A. Mon. October 7 at 6:00 pm

NOBODY'S BUSINESS. Director Alan Berliner (Intimate Stranger, NYFF 1991) takes on his reclusive father as the reluctant subject of this affecting and graceful study of family history and memory. Ultimately this complex portrait is a meeting of the minds -- where the past meets the present, where generations collide and where the boundaries of family life are stretched, torn and surprisingly, at times, also healed. Berliner has transformed a story of a troubled man who has sealed himself off from life's pain into a work of universal resonance. 60 minutes. USA, 1996. Preceded by TROFIM, a poignant fantasy which leaps from the dawn of cinema to today. In today's Moscow a mad film editor deletes a curious man from early Lumieresque footage and in so doing destroys one of the central ideas of cinema, the celebration of the ordinary man. Directed by Alexei Balabanov. 20 minutes. Russia, 1995.
8A. Tues. October 8 at 6:00 pm

EMIGRATION, N.Y. When Hitler's infamous "Anschluss" annexed Austria to Germany in 1938, the lives of 130,000 Jewish Austrians were placed at risk. Over the next three years, some 30,000 managed to emigrate to the United States, settling mainly in New York City. In Austrian filmmaker Egon Humer's brilliant and moving documentary Emigration, N.Y., twelve Viennese Jews -- seven women, five men -- recount their lives as children in Austria, as emigrants, as New Yorkers. Deceptively simple in style, the film gathers striking emotional power as its subjects (who include Amos Vogel, co-founder of the New York Film Festival) offer fresh and often surprising views on their experience of exile and assimilation. 180 minutes. Austria, 1995.
8B. Tues. October 8 at 8:30 pm

THREE LIVES AND ONLY ONE DEATH. Marcello Mastroianni, in a tour-de-force performance, is the subject of this delicious surreal comedy by Raul Ruiz (The Three Crowns of the Sailor). Think of the great, haunting modern legends: The millionaire secretly working as a butler, the husband who goes out for cigarettes and returns 20 years later. Now imagine that all these twice-told tales belong to the lived experience of a single man. As always, Ruiz fills his narrative and images with a mesmerizing range of references, showing perhaps how any one person's story is really the sum of everyone else's. 123 minutes. France, 1996. A New Yorker Films Release.
9A. Wed. October 9 at 6:00 pm, 10B. Thurs. October 10 at 9:00 pm

CULTURE SHOCK. Two films on nationalism, culture and their discontents. In FRANTZ FANON: BLACK SKIN, WHITE MASK, Isaac Julien creates a complex, perceptive meditation on the life and legacy of the Afro-Caribbean psychiatrist and political activist whose writings have become essential texts for liberation movements everywhere. 1996, UK, 65 min. UMM KULTHUM: A VOICE LIKE EGYPT, Michal Goldman's loving, revealing portrait of the incomparable singer, uses interviews, historical analysis and magnificent concert footage to locate Umm Kulthum at center stage in Egypt's political, social and cultural transformation. 65 minutes. USA, 1996.
9B. Wed. October 9 at 9:00 pm

GABBEH. Alongside a river an old woman is having a conversation with a magnificent gabbeh -- a distinctive kind of Persian carpet that tells stories in its patterns and imagery. From the carpet a young woman appears, ready to recount her own tale of love. Begun as a documentary on nomadic tribes that grew into a poetic narrative, Gabbeh recalls at times the mystical strains of Dovzhenko and Paradjanov, yet finally has a sensibility uniquely its own. One of the major figures of the new Iranian cinema, director Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Salaam Cinema) has here created his masterpiece. 75 minutes. Iran, 1996.
10A. Thurs. October 10 at 6:00 pm, 12A. Sat. October 12 at 11:30 am

LILIES. On the eve of the execution of Simon, a condemned killer, the inmates of a Quebec prison take a Catholic priest hostage and force him to watch a theatrical re-enactment of the tragic childhood events that forever linked the lives of the priest, the beautiful boy Simon he worshipped, and the schoolboy aristocrat Simon loved. There are shades of Genet, Cocteau and Marat/Sade in John Greyson's stunning drama, but the director of The Making of Monsters and Zero Patience has a fierce poetic vision all his own. Many in the superb all male cast perform in drag, but Greyson audaciously purges drag of camp in this melodrama that bends genders, genres and minds. 95 minutes. Canada, 1996.
11A. Fri. October 11 at 6:00 pm, 12E. Sat. October 12 at 12:00 Midnight

SUBURBIA. You've known them, maybe you've even been one of them -- the youths who hang out late at night in the parking lot outside a suburban convenience store. Actor and playwright Eric Bogosian chronicled their talk, their dreams, their pathos in his stage drama "Suburbia" and now has turned it into a screenplay for another esteemed interpreter of today's disaffected young, director Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused). With a superb ensemble cast, Suburbia portrays its characters' hopes and disillusions with humor, force, and uncommon insight, transforming the "Gen X" genre into a human comedy for every age. 118 minutes. USA, 1996. A Sony Pictures Classics Release of a Castle Rock Production.
11B. Fri. October 11 at 9:00 pm, 12B. Sat. October 12 at 2:00 pm

MANDELA. South Africa and its inspiring leader merge into a powerful entity in this lyrical and insightful portrait. With unprecedented access granted by Nelson Mandela, we are shown the man behind the public persona, the personal triumphs and the setbacks and the evolution of a political career which never veers off course. Directors Jo Menell and Angus Gibson have captured the lush beauty of the place, the energy and eagerness of the people and the pervasiveness and rhythms of the music -- all to tell the tale of this remarkable man. Produced by Jonathan Demme and Edward Saxon. 120 minutes. USA, 1996. An Island Pictures Release.
12C. Sat. October 12 at 5:00 pm

UNDERGROUND. Visually dazzling and profoundly moving, Underground is Emir Kusturica's passionate rendering of Yugoslav history in the postwar era. During an air raid, a diverse group of partisans and others hide out in an enormous basement storeroom; years pass, and long after the war is over they remain hidden, convinced that the battle outside is still raging. Yet, when they finally do reemerge, they are caught up in a new, different kind of struggle. Winner of the 1995 Palme d'Or at Cannes. This masterwork is so important, the Festival Committee decided to include it despite its single screening at the Walter Reade Theater last February. 169 minutes. France/Germany, 1995.
12D. Sat. October 12 at 8:00 pm

THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT. Sleaze-peddler. Millionaire publisher. Born Again Christian. Assassin's target. Nemesis of Jerry Falwell. Drug-addled recluse. Courtroom fighter for the First Amendment. The life of Larry Flynt has been an only-in-America three-ring circus, and director Milos Forman, working from a script by Ed Wood writers Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander, relishes every last gaudy irony of the journey. Woody Harrelson stars as the loose cannon Hustler publisher; Courtney Love burns a hole in the screen as his stripper turned wife, Althea; Edward Norton is Flynt's long suffering attorney; Donna Hanover Giuliani appears as faith healer, Ruth Carter Stapleton; and James Carville does a turn as a prosecutor. In this era of low risk big-studio filmmaking, Forman puts the punch back in Hollywood movies. 120 minutes. USA, 1996. A Columbia Pictures Release.
13. Sun. October 13 at 8:30 pm AFH

Special Festival Events

Special Gala World Premiere to benefit the programming fund of the Film Society's Walter Reade Theater on its Fifth Anniversary.

VERTIGO. (The newly restored version to be shown in Super VistaVision 70 mm and DTS digital stereo) Considered to be Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece, as well as his most personal film, Vertigo is a savage and beautiful investigation of sexual insecurity ("fear of falling"), a man's (or Hitchcock's ) need to create and control a beautiful image and a woman's love so self-sacrificing that it literally triggers shape-changing to suit the beloved. 128 minutes. USA, 1958. A Universal Pictures Release.
4Z. Fri. October 4 at 7:30 pm. Gala Premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater with Kim Novak and other stars. All tickets for this performance only, $75. Please call 212.875.5124 for ticket information on this screening only.

Additional screenings on Saturday at the Walter Reade Theater also in Super Vistavision 70 mm and digital stereo. All seats reserved @ $12.
5RA Sat. October 5 at 11:00 am, 5RB Sat. October 5 at 2:15 pm, 5RC Sat. October 5 at 5:45 pm, 5RD Sat. October 5 at 9:00 pm

THE ROLLING STONES ROCK AND ROLL CIRCUS. Long considered the "Holy Grail" of rock films, The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus is a time capsule that captures the vibrant energy of one of rock's most remarkable moments. Shot in late 1968 (soon after The Stones' Beggars Banquet album) but never released, this two-day event -- inspired by Mick Jagger -- featured fire-eaters alongside extraordinary live performances by Jethro Tull, The Who, Taj Mahal, Marianne Faithfull, The Dirty Mac Band, Yoko Ono and The Rolling Stones. Directed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. 65 minutes. Presented by ABKCO and the Rolling Stones, 1968-96. All screenings at the Walter Reade Theater. All seats reserved.
12RA. Sat. October 12 at 6:00 pm, 12RB Sat. October 12 at 10:00 pm, 12RC Sat. October 12 at 12:00 Midnight, 13RA Sun. October 13 at 2:00 pm, 13RB Sun. October 13 at 4:00 pm, 13RC Sun. October 13 at 6:00 pm, 13RD Sun. October 13 at 8:00 pm
Added Screenings: Sat. October 12 at 2 pm & 4 pm

Back to the New York Film Festival

Look for Search Tips

Copyright 1994-2008 Film Scouts LLC
Created, produced, and published by Film Scouts LLC
Film Scouts® is a registered trademark of Film Scouts LLC
All rights reserved.

Suggestions? Comments? Fill out our Feedback Form.