NYFF 2012 Preview: Ten To Watch

Ben Umstead, East Coast Editor
The fall festival season may be winding down, but it ain't over 'til the New York Film Festival screens. A hallowed institution amidst a hallowed institution, the Film Society of Lincoln Center celebrates 50 years of NYFF this fall with a wide-reaching program of 2012 festival favorites, views from the avant-garde and classics from all corners of the globe. Today we'll be putting the spotlight on ten new features from across this year's programming that we think could be worth your time at the cinema. Keep an eye out on Wednesday for some classics to catch, then on Friday join our NYC team as they raise the curtain with over a dozen capsule reviews from the fest -- and that's just the beginning! Or... well... maybe this is:


bay_nyff.jpgTHE BAY
Veteran director Barry Levinson teams with the producers behind the uber successful Paranormal Activity series for a found footage eco-horror film (yes, how many sub-genres can we get here?). At Toronto, our own Jason Gorber was taken aback by how good this turned out to be, saying that "The Bay may very well be the definitive found footage horror film, joining the likes of Chronicle as one of the very few films in this sub-genre that gets it absolutely right." The Bay screens at NYFF as part of their Midnight Movies selection -- fitting.
| Jason's Full Review

 
leviathan_nyff.jpg
LEVIATHAN
Keeping with a sorta water theme for the moment, let's take a look at Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Véréna Paravel documentary on the commercial fishing industry. Anyone who saw Castaing-Taylor's much lauded 2009 ode to the last of the American shepherds, Sweetgrass, knows that this should be less a formal documentary and more a vanguard meditation on man and nature; beautiful, abstract, and perhaps confounding. While Todd found the film not to his liking, it seemed to pique the interest of niche audiences at Toronto and should find an appreciative one in New York (The film also provides the awesomeness that is this article's banner image).

HolyMotors_nyff.jpgHOLY MOTORS
Wowing audiences (including our own Brian Clark) when it premiered at Cannes, Leos Carax's mighty return to features after a 13-year absence is sounding like the film to beat this year in terms of pure cinematic insanity on the grandest of scales. And with Carax's right hand man, the ever-existential clown Denis Lavant, on board, Holy Motors should be sitting pretty on any cinephile's must-see list.
| Brian's Full Review


barbara_nyff.jpg BARBARA
And speaking of mighty meet-ups... German director Christian Petzold and actress Nina Hoss have been teaming up for nigh on a decade for their special blend of existential thriller, including Wolfsburg and Yella. This latest collaboration focuses on a doctor caught in the middle of some East Germany intrigue circa 1980. Petzold won the Silver Bear for directing at Berlin this year, and the film is Germany's entry for the best foreign-language Oscar. A favorite at Twitch for years, Hoss is just about guaranteed to break out onto the international scene with this one. Keep an eye out for Dustin Chang's full review closer to the October 1st screening.


LivIngmar_nyff.jpgLIV AND INGMAR
Sure to make many a cinephile swoon, Dheeraj Akolkar's film chronicles one of the most amazing partnerships the cinema has ever known -- that of Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann. Though their time together as a couple was short, their passion and commitment to each other on and off screen resulted in some undisputed classics, including Persona, Cries and Whispers and Scenes From A Marriage. Narrated by Ullmann, Akolkar's doc is sounding like a most intimate and honest look into the hearts and minds of two of the most extraordinary artists of this last half-century. And take note, Liv Ullmann will be in attendance at the October 1st screening.


Room237_nyff.jpgROOM 237
Stanly Kubrick, generally touted as the filmmaker's filmmaker, has fans in many far reaching corners, including that of conspiracy and cult theorists. Yep, you read that right. Rodney Ascher's documentary explores the worlds, the words and the wild theories that have grown up around Kubrick's adaptation of Stephen King's The Shining, and boy does it look like this flick is getting tongues wagging. Our man in Hong Kong, James Marsh, caught the film earlier this year and had this to say: "The result is a hilarious, mind-blowing, one-of-a-kind experience that is also one of the year's very best films."
| James' Full Review             
   

Kubelka_ nyff.jpg
PETER KUBELKA: MONUMENT FILM
The Austrian experimental filmmaker Kubelka presents what is sure to be one of the most unique experiences at this year's NYFF with his Monument Film project. First up is Kubelka's 1960 short, Amulf Rainer, which is then followed by his 2012 counterpoint, Antiphon. Both shorts will then be simultaneously projected side by side, and then projected with one placed over the other, though with two separate projectors. Whenever Arnulf Rainer is light, Antiphon is dark; when one is a negative image, the other is positive; when we hear sound, we also have silence, and so forth. NYFF's official description sums it up as such: "The appearance theoretically is a continuous projection of WHITE light and continuous sound. But there is a slight alternation between the two machines, articulating the materiality of classic cinema." In the immortal words of Christopher Walken's the Continental, "Wowie-wow-wow wow."


something_air_nyff.jpgSOMETHING IN THE AIR
Turning many a head with her performance in Mia Hansen-Løve's Goodbye First Love (Still my favorite new film of this year), Lola Créton now appears in the latest from Oliver Assayas -- who is also Hansen-Løve's other half. Créton plays an idealistic teen who, along with her boyfriend and their friends, plots to continue the revolution they were too young to participate in during the May '68 protests. The film premiered at Venice earlier this month where Assayas won the Osella for Best Screenplay. The director's insightful, graceful and all-together sobering, if also unsettling, touch appears to be intact here. And any opportunity to catch the mesmerizing Créton on the big screen should most certainly be taken.  


like_someone_nyff.JPGLIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE
Abbas Kiarostami, already considered a modern master in many respects, is carving a new niche for himself: that of, quite literally, the journeyman. Having found great success in his Tuscany-set Certified Copy, Iranian-born Kiarostami sets his new picture entirely in Japan. The veteran stage actor Okuno Tadeshi stars in his first leading film role, as an elderly professor who spends an evening with a sociology student who moonlights as a high-class escort. As with many relationships in a Kiarostami picture, theirs is not what it seems...


FRANCES HA
Starting out as a key player in front of (and sometimes behind) the camera during the so-called Mumblcore scene of the aughts, Greta Gerwig has effectively eased her way into more commercial fair (Friends With Benefits), while finding ample time to be crowned royalty in Indiewood proper with her (arguably) finest turn in Noah Baumbach's Greenberg. Now seemingly the director's muse (and co-writer), Gerwig ups the ante in this, a film Ryland Aldrich called "a very strong character comedy."
| Ryland's Full Review


So that's my take, let us know what you are most excited for at the fest! -- See you Wednesday with some classics to catch on the big screen.

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  • mightyjoeyoung

    "Narrated by Ullmann, Akolkar's doc is sounding like a most intimate and honest look into the hearts and minds of two of the most extraordinary artists of this last half-century."
    Even though Bergman died in 2007 he is still very popular.
    Right now swedish public service, SVT is showing a TV series about Bergmans collection of films, ca 1000 videotapes, interviewing famous directors, actors featured in these films. If you guys chance to see it, do it.....fairly entertaining.
    Thanks for the list, Mr Umstead.

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