New York Film Festival 57 opens with Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’

The New York Film Festival at Film at Lincoln Center is one of the big U.S. film festivals. It’s also the second oldest film festival in the United States.

The Festival screens movies that won at Cannes and the Berlinale for New York City audiences. Most of these movies should have a theatrical or streaming release in the coming year.

57th New York Film Festival

Film at Lincoln Center and Alice Tully Hall host the Festival from September 27 to October 13, 2019. From $25

The big news among Latin films is the world-premiere of Italian-American director Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Cannes Grand Prix winner Atlantic, Pedro Almodóvar’s Spanish film Pain and Glory, and Olivier Assayas’ French film WASP Network.

There are also Brazilian, Romanian and Uruguayan films.

The Festival is dedicated to French director Agnès Varda (1928-2019). Film at Lincoln Center is hosting a retrospective of her work this December.

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The Main Slate presents 29 feature films from seventeen different countries.

The Irishman

The opening night film is the world premiere of the Italian-American movie by Martin Scorsese. The Jimmy Hoffa drama stars Joe Pesci, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. This all-star crew has long defined mob stories. It screens September 27, 28 and October 13. You can also watch it on Netflix from September 27. (See it in the theater.)

Marriage Story

The centerpiece film is by Noah Baumbach. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johannson play a married couple working through their divorce in all the colors of that universal tragedy. It screens on October 4 and 12.

Motherless Brooklyn

The closing night film is written, directed and produced by Edward Norton (2019). The film noir set in 1950s New York speaks to our country’s growing racial divide. Italian-American actor Bobby Cannavale plays a supporting role. It screens on Friday, October 11.

Latin Movies

Main Slate

17 of the 29 features in the main slate have a Latin connection. That’s a little more than half.


Mati Diop, France, 2019

The winner of this year’s Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix (grand prize) is a ghost love story set in Senegal, Africa.

It marks Diop’s rise as a major talent. She comes from a filmmaking family. Her uncle is legendary director Djibril Diop Mambéty.

Souleiman (Ibrahima Traoré) is a construction worker building a tower in Dakar. He falls in love with Ada (Mama Sané) who is about to wed a rich man in a traditional arranged marriage.

After not being paid for three months, Souleiman disappears when he tries to migrate to Europe in a pirogue (French word for canoe, derived from the Spanish piragua, derived from the Carib piraua).

Though he is gone, his presence is mysteriously felt in Dakar.


Kleber Mendonça Filho & Juliano Dornelles, Brazil, 2019

Bacurau won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

When armed mercenaries target a small Brazilian town, the people get pissed off and fight back.

This pretty much sums up the feeling of the Brazilian people right now. We are fed up with being robbed and abused by our leaders.

Brazilian film legend Sônia Braga plays a supporting role. She will join the directors for Q&As on October 1 and 2.

A Kino Lorber release.

Fire Will Come

Oliver Laxe, Spain, 2019

The director made this movie in his grandparents’ home town in Galicia, Spain with nonprofessional actors.

Amador is readjusting to life at his elderly mother’s home in Galicia after getting out of prison for arson. The region’s natural beauty becomes a counterpoint for the fury remaining inside Amador.


Albert Serra, France, 2019 (Serra is Spanish)

A Libertine is a person without moral restraints, especially in sex. It’s a recurring theme in French culture.

This French Revolution period piece follows a group of nobles hiding out in the forest who seek the fullness of life through sadistic sexual games.

Martin Eden

Pietro Marcello, Italy, 2019

The filmmaker gives an Italian setting to Jack London’s 1909 novel about a young worker struggling to become a writer in the hopes that will help him raise is station in life.

A Kino Lorber release.

The Moneychanger

Federico Veiroj, Uruguay, 2019

The film is based on Juan Enrique Gruber’s 1979 novella Así habló el cambista. It follows Humberto whose offshore money-laundering schemes lead him into more and more trouble.

Veiroj’s work has also screened at Film at Lincoln Center’s Latin American film festival Neighboring Scenes.

Oh Mercy!

Arnaud Desplechin, France, 2019

Desplechin is known for My Golden Years and Ismael’s Ghosts.

During the Christmas season in Northern France, a French-Algerian detective investigates the murder of a poor old woman. Her young next door neighbors, two women with some kind of bond, are the prime suspects. Desplechin draws out compelling psychological portraits.

Pain and Glory

Pedro Almodóvar, Spain, 2019

In his 70th year, Almodóvar, the Spanish filmmaking legend of La Movida Madrileña, the hedonistic, drug-fueled, pop art-influenced cultural movement of 1980’s post-Franco Spain, is back with the semi-autobiographical story of a film director struggling through the health problems of midlife.

Antonio Banderas won Best Actor at Cannes for his portrayal of the director Salvador Mallo (note that “malo” means bad in Spanish).

In Almodóvar’s style, the tale moves back and forth through his childhood, successes in the 1980s, and the present day where he struggles with the indignities of aging in body and creative impulse.

Penélope Cruz plays the young artist’s loving mother.

Almodóvar also designed the 57th New York Film Festival poster.

Almodovár is doing Q&As on Saturday, September 28 at 6pm. He will be joined by Banderas on September 29 at 12 noon.

A Sony Pictures Classic release.

Portrait of a Lady of Fire

Céline Sciamma, France, 2019

The Winner of Best Screenplay at Cannes is a period piece set in late 19th-century Brittany. Marianne is commissioned to do a wedding portrait of Héloise who is angry about being forced to marry and doesn’t want to be painted.

A bond develops between the two women in this play on the artist and her muse.

A NEON release.


Justine Triet, France, 2019

Psychotherapist Sybil (Virginie Efira) leaves her practice to work on a writing career when she is pulled into the drama of a new patient. Margo (Adèle Exarchopoulos).

Margo is a movie star trying to finish a movie after having an affair with her costar who is the husband of the director. Sybil uses the drama as the inspiration for her new book.

Triet’s films have screened at Film at Lincoln Center’s French film festival Rendez-Vous with French Cinema.

A Music Box Films release.


Nadav Lapid, France, 2019

Yoav is a disillusioned Israeli who heads to Paris after his military service. There he throws himself into French life and a love triangle with a wealthy bohemian couple. While trying to escape his heritage, he keeps getting boxed in by it.

A Kino Lorber release.

The Traitor

Marco Bellocchio, Italy, 2019

The 80-year old director tells the true story of Tommaso Buscetta, the mafia boss who turned on the Sicilian mob in the 1980s. Bellocchio paints rich psychological portraits of his characters.

A Sony Pictures Classics release.

Varda by Agnès

Agnès Varda, France, 2019

The Festival is dedicated to Agnès Varda (1928-2019). Her last movie was this autobiography. Film at Lincoln Center is hosting a full retrospective of her work this December. A Janus Films release.

Vitalina Varela

Pedro Costa, Portugal, 2019

Nonprofessional actor Vitalina Varela plays a Cape Verdean woman who returns to the Fontainhas slum outside of Lisbon for the funeral of her estranged husband and begins a new life there.

Costa resists the urge to make slum porn by developing the characters in his films, while at the same time showing the richness and beauty of Fontainhas.

It’s easy to generate sorrow by showing poverty, but poor people have rich and complex lives too. Costa captures that.

A Grasshopper Film release.

WASP Network

Olivier Assayas, France, 2019

Penélope Cruz, Édgar Ramírez and Gael García Bernal star in this true story based on the book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War by Fernando Morais.

It’s about the Cuban Five, a group of Cuban defectors in Miami who were actually Cuban double-agents trying to infiltrate and disrupt anti-Castro groups in the U.S.

The story focuses on the lives of René (Édgar Ramírez) who left his unknowing wife Olga (Penélope Cruz) in Cuba.

The Whistlers

Corneliu Porumbiu, Romania, 2019

Porumbiu is a leading Romanian director known for his comedies.

In the Canary Islands, corrupt police detective Cristi (Vlad Ivanov) learns a gang’s whistling language as he gets ever more deeply involved in a convoluted gangster scheme.

A Magnolia Pictures release.

Zombi Child

Bertrand Bonello, France, 2019

Bonello delivers a historical zombie movie that connects a zombie working in the sugar cane fields of 1962 Haiti with his descendant at a Paris girls boarding school who was orphaned by the 2010 Haitian earthquake.

A Film Movement release.

Documentary Spotlight

Santiago, Italia

Nanni Moretti, Italy, 2019

This is the story of how the Italian Embassy in Chile worked to save people targeted by the fascist regime of Pinochet.


L’age d’or

Luis Buñuel, France, 1930

This is a new restoration of the comedy about the hypocrisies of modern bourgeois life that the Spanish-Mexican director made with his friend Salvador Dali. Needless to say, it’s a surrealist masterpiece and was banned in France until the 1980s. Don’t you want to see why it was banned?

Sunday, September 29 at 7:15pm
Walter Reade Theater

Le franc + The Little Girl Who Sold the Sun

Djibril Diop Mambéty, Senegal, 1999

A magical realism movie about the political realities of Dakar, Senegal by the uncle of Mati Diop whose Atlantics (also screening) won this year’s Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix (grand prize).

Los Olvidados (The Young and the Damned)

Luis Buñuel, Mexico, 1950

The renowned Spanish director fled the Franco years to work in Mexico. This surrealist film about the violence surrounding a delinquent who rejoins his gang after breaking out of prison, was Buñuel’s comeback. He won Best Director at Cannes for the work.

Le Professeur

Valerio Zurlini, Italy, 1972

Daniele, a hip poetry professor goes to Rimini, the beach town on the Italian Adriatic with his suicidal wife. There he fools around in life and also with one of his students.

This is a new restoration that adds back 45 minutes of cut film.

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