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A Busy Weekend At The New York Film Festival

Scene from Almodovar's VOLVER

As the New York Film Festival moves into its second weekend, a diverse and tantalizing plate of cinematic offerings is on tap, catered to every kind of viewer. The Festival has created a mix of hotly anticipated films, some unknown gems and new works from some cinematic masters, all of which have their initial premieres this weekend.

Three filmmakers who have showcased their past work at the event are presenting their newest films this weekend. Veteran French director Alain Resnais is back, with a tender examination of loss, uncertainty and love in the film PRIVATE FEARS IN PUBLIC PLACES. The celebrated director again collaborates with British playwright Alan Ayckbourn to find the kernels of truth in the on-going battle (and standoff) of the sexes.

Private Fears In Public Places

Ears always perk up when the news of a new David Lynch film is revealed. This time, in a staggering running time of nearly three hours and with a cast that includes Jeremy Irons, Laura Dern, Justin Theoux and Harry Dean Stanton, the envelope-pushing director unveils his first foray into high definition video. INLAND EMPIRE explores the unsettling zeitgeist of fear and anxiety in America, in a style that the director has coined "hypnotic nightmare". The film will certainly be one of the hot ticket items of the weekend.

David Lynch

Also highly anticipated is the return of Festival favorite Pedro Almodovar, whose latest film VOLVER is the Festival's Centerpiece attraction. With a nearly all-female cast, led by such Almodovar muses as Carmen Maura and Penelope Cruz, the film reveals, with great wit and energy, the interlocking stories of women from three generations of the same family. Almodovar's kinetic camera, his use of music and, of course, his unique sensibility have merged to make this one of his most accessible and enjoyable films. VOLVER was recently selected to be Spain's official entry for this year's Academy Awards.

Almodovar, Carmen Maura, Penelope Cruz

With the current tension between the United States and Iran, it is almost an act of revolutionary courage to present a film from that "evil empire". Films buff in the know have long appreciated that the Iranians, far from being the soulless monsters that the Bushies portray them as, are in fact a people with a highly developed sensitivity to life, nature and the passage of time. These themes, and the tensions between the secular and religious tenets of society, are played out wonderfully in OFFSIDE, the latest film from respected Iranian director Jafar Panahi. Telling a modern story of the struggles of women in a transitional society, the film focuses on a group of female soccer fans who fight against intolerance and restrictions to be "one of the boys" and express their love of the sport alongside their male counterparts. The film has been a major feel-good hit at festivals around the world.

Three very different films from Asia round out this weekend's program. PAPRIKA, directed by Satoshi Kon, takes the celebrated Japanese anime form into new territory. Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose last film TROPICAL MALADY was a major international arthouse hit, returns to the screen with SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY, a meditative film that contrasts the story of two practicing in a small town clinic, the other at a big city hospital.


One of the big box office hits last year in South Korea, THE HOST, directed by Bong Joon-ho, is a suspenseful thriller that combines the traditional ghost story with the modern monster movie to offer an artistic treatise on the themes of fear, horror, memory and trancendence. Mixed in there is a subtle but highly effective critique of the modern Korean society.....if you can keep your eyes open amidst the horror.

The Host

Finally, in the second of the HBO Films Directors Dialogues, celebrated UK director Michael Apted, whose documentary film 49 UP was screened to great acclaim on Thursday evening, gives a provocative talk on working in both the documentary and narrative genres, the differences of working in Hollywood and England, and how he has managed to survive as an A list director for almost four decades.

Michael Apted

Sandy Mandelberger
Festivals Editor

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About NewYorkFilmFestival

New York Film Festival
Online Dailies coverage of the 44th NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL September 29 – October 15, 2006

United States

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