The 52nd New York Film Festival opened this past weekend with a wide range of films from the U.S. and around the globe. There were screenings, keynotes, interactive presentations, revivals and Q&A’s with casts and crews of several films from the tiny indie gems to big-budget Hollywood productions, and with so much to do and so little time, it would be impossible to see it all. Here are five things you may or may not have missed.
“Gone Girl” World Premiere
If you were at NYFF on Friday, Sept. 26, then you’re probably already know that the night belonged to “Gone Girl.” David Fincher’s latest film, a murder mystery thriller written by Gillian Flynn, based on her novel of the same name, follows the disappearance of Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) and her distraught husband Nick (Ben Affleck), who finds himself a prime suspect in the case. There were a number of screenings throughout the night with Fincher, Affleck, Pike, Tyler Perry, and Neil Patrick Harris in attendance to support and discuss the film for the big world premiere. “It was a true learning experience, I loved it and I would do it again and again and again,” said Affleck at a press screening discussion (according to the Hollywood Reporter). “And David, despite his reputation, is a very funny and nice guy, not just a demon.” “Gone Girl” went over extremely well with audiences as fans immediately took to Twitter to rave about their cinematic experience.
“Maps to the Stars” U.S. Premiere / Q&A with Cast and Filmmaker David Cronenberg
David Cronenberg’s new satirical take on Hollywood, “Maps to the Stars,” made its U.S. Premiere on Saturday at Alice Tully Hall. The screening was followed by a Q&A with the above director, screenwriter Bruce Wagner, actress Julianne Moore and Howard Shore, where they discussed the music, inspiration, editing and all around aspects of the making of the film. Cronenberg’s insights, oftentimes combined with jokes, had the audience laughing on more than a few occasions. When asked “what jokes in the film last after a 100 viewings in the editing room” he retorted, “I don’t spend that long in the editing room.” “…I did my director’s cut in two days,” he elaborated, “So the jokes were pretty fresh.” The film, which Cronenberg made clear was not entirely based on Wagner’s novel “Dead Stars,” has been receiving excellent reviews since its May launch at Cannes where Moore won best actress for her portrayal of troubled movie star Havana Segrand in the film.
“Misunderstood” North American Premiere / Q&A with Asia Argento
Asia Argento’s latest film, “Misunderstood” had its North American premiere on Saturday with the filmmaker sitting down to talk about the film in a post-screening Q&A. “Misunderstood” tells the story of a nine-year-old gifted writer, Aria (Giulia Salerno), who finds comfort in her cat after being all but abandoned by her mother (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and showbiz-driven father (Gabriel Garko) in 1980s Rome. Watch Argento talk aesthetics, inspiration and her love of imperfection in this short interview from Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.
“Whiplash” Screening / Q&A with Cast and Filmmaker Damien Chazelle
Another big draw over the weekend was this year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award-winner “Whiplash,” which was screened on Sunday night at NYFF. The film’s director Damien Chazelle and actors J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller followed the screening with a Q&A. “Whiplash” tells the story of a promising, young drummer (Miles Teller), who aspires to become a jazz great, and his relationship with an abusive music instructor (J.K. Simmons) who aims to help make his dream a reality. Simmons credits Jason Reitman for putting the script, which Chazelle wrote based upon his own drumming experiences, on his radar. Chazelle explained his core inspiration for the writing the script at a post pre-screening Q&A of the film saying, “As a drummer, my motivation for being a good drummer was born out of fear, which in a way seems so antithetical to what art should be.” The duo, along with another actor (not Teller), produced a short in order to raise the funds to make the feature.
“While We’re Young” Surprise Screening / Q&A with Cast and Filmmaker Noah Baumbach
Sunday was also host to another very exciting event… the mysterious Surprise Screening, which was revealed to be the highly anticipated “While We’re Young.” The film marks the second collaboration by director Noah Baumbach and Ben Stiller (collaborated on “Greenberg”), both who were present last night for a post-screening Q&A, along with the film’s co-stars Naomi Watts and Adam Driver. “And I’m here to introduce Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar,'” joked Baumbach as New York Film Festival Director, Kent Jones welcomed hiim to the stage. “While We’re Young” follows a middle-aged couple (Stiller and Watts) as their lives are essentially turned upside down when they meet a free-spirited, younger couple. This marked the first U.S. screening for the film, which made its world premiere only weeks ago at the Toronto International Film Festival.
There’s more to come from this year’s New York Film Festival as celebration of cinema is scheduled to continue throughout October 12. Other films to be screened at the fest include the latest by Paul Thomas Anderson and Alejandro G. Iñárritu.