This Friday, September 27, the Film Society of Lincoln Center launches the second half century of the New York Film Festival. Running through Sunday, October 13, the 51st edition continues the event’s reputation as a meticulously curated showcase for standout contemporary international cinema. With close to seventy new feature-length films, as well as dozens of shorts, retrospective screenings, and new media, NYFF remains one of the highlights on the Fall festival calendar, and a must-attend event for NYC cinephiles. Among the nearly three dozen new feature docs included in this year’s line-up are the following selections:
Five documentaries appear in the Official Selection: Sundance award winners AMERICAN PROMISE by Joe Brewster and Michéle Stephenson and THE SQUARE by Jehane Noujaim (the latter appearing in a newly revised and updated cut); Cannes award winner THE MISSING PICTURE by Rithy Panh, as well as THE LAST OF THE UNJUST (pictured) by Claude Lanzmann; and, from Toronto, AT BERKELEY by Frederick Wiseman.
This year’s festival includes a Spotlight on Documentary split among three different nonfiction strands. Motion Portraits, a focus on portraiture, includes, in addition to other titles, Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez’s mesmerizing MANAKAMANA, following pilgrims to and fro on a gondola lift; Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren’s THE DOG, on the real life bank robber who inspired DOG DAY AFTERNOON; and WHAT NOW? REMIND ME, a personal essay stemming from a year of chronic illness. Applied Science, on obsession enabled by science, includes Teller’s TIM’S VERMEER (pictured), in which theories about the artist’s use of optics are put into practice to try to replicate his work; and Mark Levinson’s PARTICLE FEVER, detailing the lead up to the activation of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. Finally, How Democracy Works Now, a decade-in-the-making series exploring the American political process, includes 10 new films by Michael Camerini and Shari Robertson on immigration reform.
Views from the Avant-Garde, NYFF’s experimental section, presents 45 different programs. Though largely consisting of short work, there are several feature-lengths as well. Of these, the most intriguing documentary/essay offerings include: Travis Wilkerson’s LOS ANGELES RED SQUAD (pictured), about the LAPD’s communist task force; Lois Patiño’s COSTA DA MORTE, a portrait of a place legendary for shipwrecks; Talena Sanders’ LIAHONA, a meditation on Mormonism contrasting the institution with individual faith; and Marielle Nitoslawska’s BREAKING THE FRAME, an experimental portrait of Carolee Schneeman. Finally, the fest’s Convergence program features several transmedia documentary hybrid pieces in its selections.