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Directors Dialogues At The New York Film Festival

Stephen Frears

Friday, September 29---One of the more popular recent additions to the venerable New York Film Festival, which opens its 44th edition this evening, has been the Directors Dialogues series, sponsored again this year by HBO Films. Cinephiles have the rare opportunity to hear from some of the most celebrated directors on the planet in the intimate atmosphere of the Kaplan Penthouse, atop the Lincoln Center arts complex.

This year, three directors, with films premiering at the Festival, will be in the limelight, offering intimate recollections of their lives and careers, singular views of the film industry and often hilarious and revealing stories of behind the scenes drama and comedy from their best known films.

The series begins tomorrow afternoon, with legendary UK director Stephen Frears, whose THE QUEEN opens the Festival this evening with two near simultaneous screenings at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall and Avery Fisher Hall. This is the first visit to the New York Film Festival since his film THE SNAPPER was screened in 1993.

The Queen

Frears began his career in the London theater, working various jobs at London's famed Royal Court Theater and serving as a personal assistant to actor Albert Finney. He moved into film in the late 1960s, working as assistant director to Karel Reisz in the landmark film MORGAN (1966) and Lindsay Anderson in the explosive IF (1969). He made his directorial debut in 1971 with the neo-noir detective thriller GUMSHOE, starring his former employer Albert Finney.

In 1985, he directed a then unknown Daniel Day Lewis in the provocative drama MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE, an adaptation of Hanif Kurieshi's bestseller about the cultural clash that ensues when a white punk (Lewis) falls in love with a Pakistani immigrant. The film was universally celebrated and ushered in a decade of remarkable UK films in what was dubbed the "new English cinema". Frears became a pivotal director in this movement, with such films as PRICK UP YOUR EARS (1987) and SAMMY AND ROSIE GET LAID (1988).

My Beautiful Laundrette

His burgeoning international fame eventually brought him to Hollywood, where he distinguished himself with such films as the historic epic DANGEROUS LIAISONS (1988), THE GRIFTERS (1990) and HIGH FIDELITY (2000). However, Frears has continued making individualistic films in England with equal fervor, including the highly regarded THE VAN (1996), DIRTY PRETTY THINGS (2002) and last year's feel-good hit MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS (2005), featuring sparkling performances by Dame Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins. Buzz on his latest effort, THE QUEEN, starring Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, has been building, with distributor Miramax Films positioning the film as a top contender for Oscar nominations this year.

Mrs. Henderson Presents

Frears, like most of his UK colleagues, also has made significant films for television and directed several television series and documentary specials. One of his most personal projects in television was A PERSONAL HISTORY OF BRITISH CINEMA, which he co-directed in 1997, which looked back at 50 years of the British film industry with astonishing interviews and personal recollections.

At the HBO Films Directors Dialogue, Frears will be interviewed by Liza Schwarzbaum, film critic for Entertainment Weekly and member of the New York Film Festival Selection Committee. Expect a rollicking and entertaining tete-a-tete, as Frears will discuss his favorite films and his idiosyncratic career that has seen him move effortlessly across the pond and work in both the Hollywood big-budget circus and the indie film arena.

Stephen Frears and Helen Mirren

In the coming two weeks, directors Michael Apted and Guillermo Del Toro will also have their moments in the spotlight, giving cinephiles an exceptional opportunity to hear from unique luminaries from the world of international cinema.


Sandy Mandelberger
Festivals Editor

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

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