Friday, August 24, 2012




 We have quite a few surprises in store so stay tuned!
What would u like 2 see at #HIFF12 this year?

Got that tweet from HIFF Hamptons (@HamptonsFilm) this morning so I started thinking about what I would like to see at HIFF this year.


(Note that HIFF is a terrific festival: compact, on-site, over the Columbus Day Weekend, with great films, great parties, and many opportunities to meet filmmakers. See the bottom of this article for links to earlier stories in QPORIT on earlier HIFF's). 

I’ll take my role as amateur, volunteer, unpaid, unheeded(?) HIFF Programming “consultant” quite seriously, and suggest some ideas for the Hamptons International Film Festival 2012.

Note that I haven’t seen any of the films I’m mentioning; they are film’s I’d love to see at HIFF, not films I can “recommend”; I’m expressing an interest, based on the director, cast, and story, not making a recommendation.

First of all, I’d like to suggest some panels:



Short narrative films on the web are rapidly gaining in importance and quality. The web is a natural destination for this format (a format that has not had great traction in theaters since the invention of the feature film!) Comedy sites and webisodes enhance the prominence of web video.

HIFF itself posted a story recently about web video and online video festivals.

It would be interesting to have a program of the best web short narrative films, comedies and webisodes, followed by a panel discussing this new opportunity for filmmakers.


Last year there were many feature films in 3D. The trend is continuing.

HIFF showed PINA in 3D.

There are also 3D consumer cameras. A new VR device (Oculus Rift) that made a big stir on KickStarter (raising over $1M is 24 hours) in an indication of continued development of improved 3D viewing outside of theaters.

It would be very interesting to have a panel discussing both feature films in 3D and consumer 3D filmmaking. The panel could discuss technical issues, creative quality issues, and projections for the future.


It would be interesting to have a wide ranging discussion based on issues raised in this category of film presentations with filmmakers and public figures. It would be great also to have Angelina Jolie’s LAND OF BLOOD AND HONEY shown (out of competition) together, perhaps, with a retrospective of best films from previous years, related to this panel.


Like the panel with the Breakthrough Actors, it would be interesting to have a panel to meet Breakthrough Filmmakers, directors coming to HIFF early in their career.

Here are some other programming ideas:


I am planning to videotape interviews – mostly in 3D – throughout the festival. Many journalists and many “civilians” attending HIFF will be taking pictures and videos of things they see, and their reactions.

Web video uploads are becoming ubiquitous.

It would be very interesting to have a (lightly curated!) channel on YouTube (and/or Google+) where videos could be uploaded and then have a screening room with a large screen monitor (3D I hope!) connected to a computer. The room would be monitored, and selections from the uploaded videos could be played continuously – either randomly, at the selection of the curator, or on demand by the audience.

Additionally, some events (eg Red Carpets) could be streamed live through Google+ Video Hangouts or other streaming services.

This room would also be the natural venue for a PROGRAM OF NARRATIVE WEB VIDEOS and for the WEB VIDEO PANEL and the 3D FILM AND VIDEO PANEL.

Note: The YouTube Channel, Google+ circle, twitter feed, etc would be visible publicly and externally. The screening room would make it possible and easy for HIFF attendees to view it conveniently on a large screen (and in 3D when the source is 3D) on site.


I do hope there will be many of the European Rising Stars at this year’s festival. It would be interesting, also, to have new films from Breakthrough Actors of previous years. Alba Rohrwacher is in one film mentioned below; Anais Demoustier has been in many fine films; Anamaria Marinca & Hannah Herzsprung (at HIFF twice!), Zrinka Cvitesic, etc are all having very interesting careers.


(Note: I have no idea if the films in this next section are ready or available for the festival.)

Robin Singer and Mikal Evans were nicely paired in KISSES CHLOE shown recently at HIFF. They each have new projects I’d like to see. Robin has made a short film called POST. She’s currently starting an OOB run in Electra. She’s terrific and smart. Mikal appeared in GAME CHANGE and is in a new film HOW WE GOT AWAY WITH IT (so new it may not be finished). She’s also a great singer, with a new, exciting and interesting sound – Aside from her film, I’d love to hear her do a set at the OPENING NIGHT PARTY.

CERTAIN PEOPLE (aka KATINKAS KALAS) is a Swedish film shown at the Tribeca Film Festival, starring Mia Mountain. Mia is potentially (depending on the role) one of the most beautiful women around or one of the most tormented. I’ve seen her at a LAByrinth Theater event in a monologue she wrote, and she was powerful. She was nominated as a Rising Star in Sweden, and is currently in the cast of the (amazing) show, Sleep No More.

ANOTHER KIND (shown at the Woodstock Film Festival) is a low budget thriller by Jonathan Blitstein, a smart, energetic, ambitious producer/director/actor. Jonathan won a NYIT playwriting award recently for Keep Your Baggage With You, an OOB play at Theater For the New City.

Brit Marling was a breakout star at Sundance with ANOTHER EARTH (which she co-wrote and starred in). She’s articulate, with a fresh perspective on films and filmmaking. She’s in Robert Redford’s THE COMPANY YOU KEEP, ARBITRAGE with Richard Gere (which will probably be commercially released in September), and in THE EAST (which she also co-wrote) with Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page and Julia Ormond.

Actually, I was in a short film myself: Andrew Serban’s WEST SIDE GIRL, which has been in a number of festivals. It would be great fun to be able to interview (as a journalist) myself (as an actor) on the Red Carpet.


I have some thoughts about the Opening Night Party…

a) It should be a big enough venue to hold everyone (and their parked cars) comfortably. It should have a lot of good food that can be circulated easily. Gurney’s Inn was better than last year’s venue, but something needs to be done at Gurney’s Inn to provide more parking.

b) It should be possible to take pictures and video inside and outside throughout the evening. The Opening Night is the best opportunity for publicity for everyone – the filmmakers, the actors and the festival itself. There are more photographers there at the Opening Night Party, more interested in taking pictures, than on any other night. And, anything that comes out right away at the beginning of the festival helps the entire festival. (Last year, picture taking inside was not allowed.)

c) It would be nice to have an opportunity for filmmakers and actors to be introduced. Until their films have been shown, almost all the filmmakers are completely anonymous. It is hard to provide publicity for someone (or some film) you are interested in but have never met (and cannot recognize). An introduction event should not last long, but it could be very valuable both for actors and filmmakers that have come, and for the Press. (Indeed, it would also be a highlight and very valuable for Patrons/Founders who have paid a lot of money to come to a party with filmmakers, but have no clue who is actually there.)  It could be coupled – as I suggested above – with a short set from a great performer like Mikal Evans. (After this event everyone would return again to random partying – but people would know who they could approach to talk to.)

d) If filmmakers and actors had large name tags with the name of their film in large letters, that would also help both them and the Press (and the Patrons/Founders).

e) On Red Carpets (RC) it is usually difficult to identify the subject. It would be FANTASTIC if next to the Red Carpet there was a computer and someone took a baseline picture of each RC personality and posted it with their name and associated project next to the RC on the computer (and online) (I saw this done at an OOB awards event; it worked well and it was very, very helpful.)


A casual buffet on the last day of the festival is a nice way to meet again with people you’ve seen during the festival, and find other people you’ve missed connecting with the last few days!


One of the main reasons for films and filmmakers (including actors) to participate in a film festival is the promotional benefits they may obtain to further their commercial objectives (successful film run, more jobs, more money, etc).

To this end, it would help both the filmmakers and the press if every accepted film was strongly encouraged to provide, both online and in print, well before the festival begins, a press kit that includes:

The printed Press Kit should be available in sufficient numbers and conveniently filed, so any request for a press kit can be simply and quickly fulfilled, through the end of the festival.


To make it easy for the audience to attend films, East Hampton and other towns showing films at HIFF should make more parking available, closer to the film venue, with more than a 1 hour limit.

Probably the easiest way to accomplish this – other than changing to a 3 hour time limit for everyone during HIFF -- would be to issue a parking pass along with every film ticket that hangs on the rear view mirror or lies under the front window and allows parking for, say, 30 min before the film through 45 min after.


(Again, I haven’t seen these; they just sound good from descriptions I’ve read in press reports from the festivals.)


Terence Malick’s TO THE WONDER
Ben Affleck, Olga Kurylenko, Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz, Javier Bardem and Amanda Peet

Harmony Korine's SPRING BREAKERS
James Franco, Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens

Brian DePalma's PASSION
Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace (great actress and a disappointing no-show as a former HIFF Breakthrough Performer)

Paul Thomas Anderson's THE MASTER
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams |

Isabelle Huppert, Tony Servillo and Alba Rohrwacher (A recent HIFF Breakthrough Performer / European Rising Star)
Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, and Liev Schreiber (Mira Nair was recently at HIFF)

Jean Pierre Ameris’ L’HOMME QUI RIT
Gérard Depardieu and Emmanuelle Seigner


Ang Lee’s THE LIFE OF PI (in 3D, and also a first in 3.14159265 dimensions!)

Nicole Kidman, Zac Efron, Matthew McConaughey, John Cusack

Abbas Kiarostami' LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE

90-year-old Alain Resnais' YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET.

and a lot of other films... NYFF is huge this year and just about anything is worth taking a look at for possibly showing at HIFF


Helen Hunt, John Hawkes and William H. Macy

Antonio Campos’s SIMON KILLER
Brady Corbet

James Balog’s CHASING ICE (Documentary)

Don Coscarelli’s JOHN DIES AT THE END
Paul Giamatti


Ben Affleck’s ARGO
Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman and Kyle Chandler.

Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Terrence Howard, Anna Kendrick, Stanley Tucci, Chris Cooper, Brit Marling and Nick Nolte.

Bill Murray, Olivia Williams, Samuel West and Olivia Colman

Keira Knightley, Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski’s ‘CLOUD ATLAS
Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant

Noah Baumbach’s FRANCES HA
Greta Gerwig

Sally Potter’s GINGER AND ROSA
Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Christina Hendricks, Annette Bening and Alessandro Nivola.

Yaron Zilberman’s A LATE QUARTET
Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ivanir, Imogen Poots, Christopher Walken and Catherine Keener.

Joachim Roenning & Espen Sandberg ‘s KON-TIKI – (Documentary)

Dustin Hoffman’s QUARTET
Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins as

Maiken Baird’s VENUS & SERENA (Documentary)

Josh Boone’s WRITERS
Liana Liberato, Jennifer Connelly, Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins and Kristen Bell.


Kim Nguyen’s WAR WITCH

Daniel Burman’s ALL IN


Lucy Mulloy’s UNA NOCHE

Dariel Arrechada, Anailin de la Rua de la Torre, Javier Nuñez Florian


Michael Haneke’s AMOUR
Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anne Emmanuelle Riva

Matteo Garrone's REALITY

Brandon Cronenberg’s ANTIVIRAL,


Bernardo Bertolucci’s ME AND YOU
Tea Falco, Jacopo Olmo Antinori and Sonia Bergamasco

Pablo Larraín’S NO
Gael Garcia Bernal

Carlos Reygadas’ POST TENEBRAS LUX
Adolfo Jiménez Castro, Nathalia Acevedo and Willebaldo Torres


Kevin Macdonald’s MARLEY (Documentary)

Christian Bale

Jet Li


Some links to some (random) earlier stories in QPORIT on earlier HIFF's



BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMERS (including a list of the Breakthrough Performers each year!)


EMMY ROSSUM AND DARE (Video Interview) (2009)



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Thursday, August 16, 2012





September 28-October 14


The main slate of selections for the 50th New York Film Festival (September 28-October 14) comprises 32 feature films, including films by such notable directors as Olivier Assayas, Noah Baumbach, Leos Carax, Brian De Palma, Michael Haneke, Abbas Kiarostami, Ang Lee, Cristian Mungiu, Sally Potter, Alain Resnais, Raul Ruiz and Robert Zemeckis.

The festival will open with Ang Lee's LIFE OF PI


and close with Zemeckis' FLIGHT starring Denzel Washington.


The selections include major award winners at major prize-awarding festivals (NYFF itself does not award prizes... other than being accepted), films by important new directors and major returning directors, and films of many styles, from straight-forward narrative, to absurdist, surrealist cinema.  The oldest filmmaker is 90 year old Alain Renais, who challenges with YOU AIN'T SEEN NOTHIN' YET.  Renais is a returning filmmaker: his film MURIEL, OR THE TIME OF RETURN screened at the very first New York Film Festival! 

A quartet of World Premieres among the main slate lineup include Alan Berliner’s unflinching essay on the fragility of being human, FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED, joining the Opening Night, Centerpiece and Closing Night Gala trio of Ang Lee’s LIFE OF PI, (Opening Night), David Chase’s NOT FADE AWAY (Centerpiece) and Robert Zemeckis’s FLIGHT (Closing Night).

Films that have won awards earlier this year at major festivals and are coming to NY for the first time include: 

Additional returning NYFF filmmakers are; João Pedro Rodrigues (TO DIE LIKE A MAN, NYFF 2009) with THE LAST TIME I SAW MACAO; Olivier Assayas (CARLOS, NYFF 2010), with SOMETHING IN THE AIR; Lucien Castaing-Taylor (SWEETGRASS, NYFF 2009) and Véréna Paravel (FOREIGN PARTS, NYFF 2010), with LEVIATHAN; Abbas Kiarostami (CERTIFIED COPY, NYFF 2010), with LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE; and -- as mentioned -- the 90-year-old Alain Resnais, whose MURIEL, OR THE TIME OF RETURN screened at the very first New York Film Festival, returns with YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET.


Founded in 1963, the New York Film Festival is North America’s second oldest film festival, launching just as the auteur theory and European cinematic modernism were crashing upon the shores of American film culture. 50 years later, NYFF continues to introduce audiences to the most exciting, innovative and accomplished works of world cinema.

Additional special events, sidebars, panels and first–time programs will be announced in subsequent weeks as well as additional programming to complement the main-slate of films, including NYFF’s Masterworks programs and Views from the Avant-Garde, which will include additional works by Main Slate filmmakers João Pedro Rodrigues and Raul Ruiz.

The 50th New York Film Festival main-slate:

Opening Night Gala Selection
Director: Ang Lee

Centerpiece Gala Selection
Director: David Chase

Closing Night Gala Selection
Director: Robert Zemeckis

Director: Michael Haneke

Director: Yeşim Ustaoğlu

Director: Christian Petzold

BEYOND THE HILLS (După dealuri)
Director: Cristian Mungiu

Director: Jun Robles Lana

CAESAR MUST DIE (Cesare deve morire)
Directors: Paolo and Vittorio Taviani

CAMILLE REWINDS (Camille redouble)
Director: Noémie Lvovsky

THE DEAD MAN AND BEING HAPPY (El muerto y ser feliz)
Director: Javier Rebello

FILL THE VOID (Lemale et ha'halal)
Director: Rama Burshtein

Director: Alan Berliner

Director: Noah Baumbach

THE GATEKEEPERS (Shomerei Ha’saf)
Director: Dror Moreh

Director: Sally Potter

HERE AND THERE (Aquí y Allá)
Director: Antonio Mendez Esparza

Director: Leos Carax

Director: Roger Michell

Director: Marc-Henri Wajnberg

THE LAST TIME I SAW MACAO (A Última Vez Que Vi Macau)
Director: João Pedro Rodrigues

Directors: Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel

Director: Abbas Kiarostami

LINES OF WELLINGTON (Linhas de Wellington)
Director: Valeria Sarmiento

Director: Song Fang

NIGHT ACROSS THE STREET (La Noche de enfrente)
Director: Raul Ruiz

Director: Pablo Larrain

OUR CHILDREN (À perdre la raison)
Director: Joachim Lafosse

Director: Brian De Palma

Director: Olivier Assayas

Director: Miguel Gomes

YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET (Vous n'avez encore rien vu)
Director: Alain Resnais

The selection committee, chaired by Peña also includes: Melissa Anderson, Contributor, Village Voice; Scott Foundas, Associate Program Director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center; Todd McCarthy, Chief Film Critic, The Hollywood Reporter; and Amy Taubin, Contributing Editor, Film Comment and Sight and Sound.

General Public tickets will be available September 9th. There will be an advance ticketing opportunity for Film Society of Lincoln Center Patrons and Members prior to that date. For more information visit or call 212 875 5601.

Films & Descriptions

AMOUR (2012) 127min
Director: Michael Haneke
Country: Austria/France/Germany
The universally acclaimed winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, AMOUR is arguably Michael Haneke’s crowning achievement to date, a portrait of a couple dealing with the ravages of old age that is as compassionate as it is merciless. The great veteran French actors Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva are staggering as Georges and Anne, long-married music teachers living out their final years surrounded by the comforts of books and music in their warm Paris apartment. After Anne suffers a stroke, Georges attends to her with firmness shot through with love. The underlying unease, as well as some abrupt surprises, are hardly unexpected from Haneke, who challenges the viewer to confront the experience of his characters as directly as he does. But he rewards the effort with a film that is all the more moving for its complete avoidance of sentimentality. An unquestionable masterpiece. A Sony Pictures Classics release.

Director: Yeşim Ustaoğlu
Country: Turkey/France/Germany
The title refers as much to the film’s main location—a tiny Turkish town comprised of no more than a few houses and a large motorway rest stop where the locals work impossibly long hours—as it does to adolescence, the way station where the child transforms into an adult. What seems at first like a piece of low-key realism comes into dramatic focus when an adolescent girl begins an obsessive sexual relationship with a middle-aged trucker, fueling the fury of the teen-aged boy who hoped to marry her. Yesim Ustaoglu, whose debut feature JOURNEY TO THE SUN is one of the treasures of the New Turkish cinema, is not only a visual poet of her country’s harshly beautiful landscapes; she also depicts with great empathy and uncompromising honesty the heart’s desires and the body’s needs.

BARBARA (2012) 105min
Director: Christian Petzold
Country: Germany
Set in 1980, Christian Petzold’s latest masterfully controlled, absorbing work centers around a doctor—played by the incomparable Nina Hoss, in her fifth film with the director—exiled to a small town from East Berlin as punishment for applying for an exit visa from the GDR. Planning to flee for Denmark with her boyfriend, Barbara remains icy and withdrawn around her colleagues, particularly with the lead physician (the excellent Ronald Zehrfeld), who is hiding a secret of his own. With her patients, however, the guarded doctor is kind, warm, and protective, even risking her own safety for one of her charges. This subtle, perfectly calibrated Cold War thriller expertly details the costs of telling and withholding the truth. Winner of the SIlver Bear for Best Director at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. An Adopt Films Release.

BEYOND THE HILLS (După dealuri) (2012) 150min
Director: Cristian Mungiu
Country: Romania
This harrowing, visually stunning new film from director Cristian Mungiu (4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS AND 2 DAYS) unfolds in and around a remote monastery where pious young women toil dutifully under the ever-watchful eye of an austere priest known as Papa (the excellent Valeriu Andriuta). As the film opens, Alina (Cristina Flutur) arrives to visit her friend Voichita (Cosmina Stratan), one of the nuns in training. As children, the two women lived together in an orphanage where the tough, short-tempered Alina served as a protector for her more delicate friend. Now, Alina wants Voichita to leave her cloistered life and return with her to Germany, but as the fateful hour draws near, Voichita seems disinclined to go, and so Alina stays on for a while, which is when the real trouble begins. Inspired by a case of alleged demonic possession that occurred in Romania’s Moldova region in 2005, BEYOND THE HILLS is not a supernatural film but rather an all too believable portrait of dogma at odds with personal liberty in a society still emerging from the shadow of Communism. For their remarkable lead performances, screen newcomers Flutur and Stratan shared the Best Actress prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where Mungiu also received the Best Screenplay award. A Sundance Selects release.

BWAKAW (2012) 110min
Director: Jun Robles Lana
Country: Philippines
BWAKAW is the film you hope for at any festival, a work by an unknown director that comes out of nowhere to captivate and enthrall with its emotional truth, high humor and sage assessment of the human condition. Filipino cinema great Eddie Garcia gives a career-capping performance as Rene, a 70-plus single gent in a quiet provincial town who, having alienated almost everyone with his caustic comments, is resigned to seeing out his days alone, save for the company of his loyal canine companion (whose name gives the movie its title). Rene has his secrets but is disinclined to share them until he befriends a brawny tricycle taxi driver. Employing frequent outrageous humor, director Jun Robles Lana elegantly captures the quality of everyday life in this backwater while crafting a superior character study of a man who has allowed most of life to pass him by until an emotional jolt emboldens him to go where he's never dared venture before.

CAESAR MUST DIE (Cesare deve morire) (2012) 76min
Directors: Paolo and Vittorio Taviani
Country: Italy
Paolo and Vittorio Taviani (Padre Padrone, The Night of the Shooting Stars) triumphantly reasserted their eminence among modern Italian directors by winning the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlin Film Festival with CAESAR MUST DIE. The sight of inmates putting on a play in prison is not entirely new, but beginning with the brilliant opening scenes of convicts with wildly differing accents and backgrounds auditioning for the immortal roles of Brutus, Anthony, Cassius and, most impressively and menacingly, the title character in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, this approach resonates in ways that both Pirandello and Brecht would have appreciated. The play’s director must not only help guide these amateurs in their performances, but is also forced to police real-life rivalries and rages that threaten to derail the production before it can ever be seen. Vital, provocative and entirely engaging, CAESAR marks a wonderful late-career triumph for this still-formidable brother act. An Adopt Films release.

CAMILLE REWINDS (Camille redouble) (2012) 110min
Director: Noémie Lvovsky
Country: France
Noémie Lvovsky’s ebullient twist on the comedy of remarriage transposes Frances Ford Coppola’s PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED to present day France, which means that when the titular Camille—who’s in the throes of divorcing her husband of 25 years—passes out drunk, she wakes up as a high school senior in the mid-1980s (leg warmers, “Walking on Sunshine” on the turntable, and no cell phones in sight.) Lvovsky is hilarious and touchingly vulnerable as Camille. Hard as she tries to avoid the classmate (Samir Guesmi) who she knows will become her first love, her husband, and the father of her daughter, and who will ditch her after she turns 40, she nevertheless winds up in his arms. Her double take, just before their lips meet for a first kiss the second time around, is indescribably delicious. In the tiny role of a watchmaker who may have set Camille’s time travel in motion, New Wave icon Jean-Pierre Léaud is perfect.

THE DEAD MAN AND BEING HAPPY (El muerto y ser feliz) (2012) 94min
Director: Javier Rebello
Country: Spain/Argentina
For his third feature, the gifted Spanish director Javier Rebollo (WOMAN WITHOUT PIANO) has decamped to Argentina and created a literate, screwball road movie that Borges surely would have loved. The “dead man” of the title is Santos (veteran Spanish screen star José Sacristán), a cancer-stricken hired killer who flees his Buenos Aires hospital bed and sets off on one last assignment. It is a journey that takes him through an interior Argentina rarely glimpsed in movies, from the Cordoba resort town of La Cumbrecita (with its disproportionate—and disconcerting—population of elderly Germans) to the northern province of Santiago del Estero. Along the way, Santos finds himself joined by Alejandra (the wonderful Roxana Blanco), an attractive middle-aged woman who impulsively jumps into his vintage Ford Falcon at a gas station and soon thwarts him from his intended path. At one point, our curious couple stops off at a decrepit beach town described by one of the film’s dueling voice-over narrators as “a strange mix of paradise and apocalypse”—which, as it happens, also perfectly sums up Rebollo’s playful and unexpectedly moving reverie on love, death and the open highway.

FILL THE VOID (Lemale et ha'halal) (2012) 90min
Director: Rama Burshtein
Country: Israel
With her first dramatic feature, writer-director Rama Burshtein has created a work that is very likely unprecedented: a woman's view of Tel Aviv's ultra-orthodox Hasidic community from the inside. Typically, a story about a devout 18-year-old Israeli being pressured to marry the husband of her late sister, would include the option of the woman declaring her independence in the modern fashion. Such a choice is not even on the table in this cloistered, intimately rendered world where religious law, tradition and the rabbis' word are absolute. A graduate of the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem and Hassidic herself, Burshtein startlingly brings to life a world known to few in this provocative, undeniably talented debut from a most unlikely source.

Director: Alan Berliner
Country: USA
Sometime in the new millennium, Edwin Honig—the distinguished poet, translator, critic and university professor—began showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, which gradually but inexorably brought on the loss of his memory, command of language and relation to the past. Filmmaker Alan Berliner—for whom Honig was a cousin, a friend and a mentor—documented their meetings over five years; his new film chronicles the steady decline of Honig’s mind and body, but also the strength and stamina of his spirit, as well as his innate charm and wonderfully playful way with words and sounds. Occasional moments of lucidity offer an insight as to the ways in which Honig attempts to make sense out of what is happening to him. FIRST COUSIN ONCE REMOVED is an unflinching essay on the fragility of being human, and a stark reminder of the profound role that memory plays in all of our lives. An HBO Documentary Films release.

FLIGHT (2012) 138min
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Country: USA
Triumphantly returning to live-action filmmaking for the first time since Cast Away 12 years ago, Robert Zemeckis teams with Denzel Washington on the tense and edgy thriller FLIGHT. In a brilliant, heart-stopping sequence, pilot Whip Whitacker (Washington), after an all-nighter of booze, sex and drugs, boldly guides a crippled airliner to a crash landing that nearly all the passengers survive. Although he is acclaimed as a hero, the legal, moral and ethical aspects of Whip’s behavior before and after the accident are much more ambiguous than initially meet the public eye. A study of addiction far more complex than the norm, FLIGHT is a compelling drama anchored by a great performance from one of our most distinguished actors. John Goodman, Don Cheadle, Melissa Leo and Kelly Reilly offer vibrant supporting turns in what is certain to be one of the most talked-about movies of the season. A Paramount Pictures release.

FRANCES HA (2012) 86min
Director: Noah Baumbach
Country: USA
Reminiscent of Jean-Luc Godard’s celebration of the mystery and vulnerability of his muse Anna Karina in BANDE Á PART, Noah Baumbach’s love poem to Greta Gerwig is an effervescent, seeming effortless comedy about a young woman taking the first shaky, post-Ivy League steps in what will become her real life. Gerwig, who also co-wrote the script, proves herself far more articulate and funny than any of her former Mumblecore colleagues. Her Frances arrives in New York determined to become a post-modern dancer despite the fact that she’s constantly falling over her feet or putting one of them in her mouth. The movie is lightning-in-a-bottle–deft, sophisticated, and, in its myriad shades of digital gray, radiantly beautiful in a brand new way.

THE GATEKEEPERS (Shomerei Ha’saf) (2012) 90min
Director: Dror Moreh
Country: Israel
Since its stunning military victory in 1967, Israel has hoped to transform its battlefield success into the basis for long-lasting peace. Simply put, this hasn’t happened: 45 years later, violence continues unabated while the mistrust between both sides increases daily. In what can only be called an historic achievement, filmmaker Dror Moreh has brought together six former heads of the Shin Bet, Israel’s Secret Service, who reflect on their successes and failures to maintain security while responding to the shifting politics and imperatives of the “peace process.” Each man weighs in on topics ranging from preemptive strikes to confronting terrorists both Palestinian and Israeli; their thoughts and responses are candid, well-informed and rarely short of remarkable. An insider’s guide—and what insiders!—to five decades of Israeli history, THE GATEKEEPERS will surely be one of the most widely and hotly discussed films of the year.
A Sony Pictures Classics release.

GINGER AND ROSA (2012) 89min
Director: Sally Potter
Country: UK
In 1962 London, two teenage girls, best friends since they were toddlers, are driven apart by a scandalous betrayal. Making her NYFF debut, writer-director Sally Potter (ORLANDO, ND/NF 1993) has crafted an intimate, riveting coming-of-age story—one made all the more powerful by a revelatory performance by Elle Fanning as the bright, anxious Ginger, increasingly affected by both the misery of her parents (deftly played by Alessandro Nivola and Christina Hendricks) and the era’s all-too-real fears of nuclear destruction. As her private dramas unfold against the backdrop of broader historical terrors, Ginger proves to be one of cinema’s most fascinating and formidable young heroines. Talented newcomer Alice Englert, the daughter of filmmaker Jane Campion, makes her impressive feature film debut as the troubled Rosa.

HERE AND THERE (Aquí y Allá) (2012) 110min
Director: Antonio Mendez Esparza
Country: Spain/USA/Mexico
Pedro returns home to a small mountain village in Guerrero, Mexico after years of working in the U.S. His daughters feel more distant that he imagined, but his wife Teresa is delighted he’s back. With the money he’s earned he can create a better life for his family, and maybe even start the band with his cousins he’s dreamed about for years. But work back home remains scarce, and the temptation of heading back north of the border remains as strong as ever. Antonio Mendez Esparza has made a most remarkable debut; rarely, if ever, has a film about US/Mexican border experience felt so fresh or authentic. Using non-professionals, Mendez Esparza gets remarkably nuanced performances that gives a richness of nuance and detail to each of his characters that goes way beyond cliché and stereotype. Winner of the Grand Prize at this year’s Critics Week in Cannes.

HOLY MOTORS (2012) 115min
Director: Leos Carax
Country: France
This unclassifiable, expansive movie from Leos Carax (Lovers on the Bridge)—his first feature in 13 years—operates on the exhilarating logic of dreams and emotions. After a prologue in which Carax himself, clad in pajamas, walks through a corridor that leads to a theater full of silent spectators, HOLY MOTORS segues to actor Denis Lavant, Carax’s longtime collaborator, playing a mysterious man named Oscar who inhabits 11 different characters over the course of a single day. This shape-shifter is shuttled from appointment to appointment in Paris in a white-stretch limo driven by the soignée Edith Scob (EYES WITHOUT A FACE); not on the itinerary is an unplanned reunion with Kylie Minogue. To summarize the film any further would be to take away some of its magic; the most accurate précis comes from its own creator, who aptly described HOLY MOTORS after its world premiere in Cannes as “a film about a man and the experience of being alive.” An Indomina release.

HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (2012) 95min
Director: Roger Michell
Country: UK
Bill Murray provides a career-topping performance as President Franklin D. Roosevelt in this captivating, winningly acted comedy-drama that pulls back the curtain on the complicated domestic arrangements at FDR’s beautiful New York country estate. Told from the perspective of Roosevelt's little-known sixth cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley (Laura Linney), a member of the president's intimate inner circle of women, HYDE PARK ON HUDSON revolves around the royal visit of King George VI (yes, him again!) to the United States on the eve of World War II. In a film both buoyantly comic and inescapably serious, screenwriter Richard Nelson and director Roger Michell (NOTTING HILL, VENUS) subtly examine the tricky dynamics of the chief executive's relationships with his wife, mother and devoted female staff while also taking stock of his ego, shrewd manipulations and consummate ability to win people's favor and confidence—most notably in the case of the insecure young king. It's an entrancing peek at a time when the personal secrets of our leaders were well and truly kept. A Focus Features release.

KINSHASA KIDS (2012) 85min
Director: Marc-Henri Wajnberg
Country: Belgium/France
Perhaps the most ebullient “musical” you’ll see this year, Marc-Henri Wajnberg’s singular documentary/fiction hybrid follows a group of street kids—kicked out of their homes for being “witch children”—in the titular Congolese capital. These ever-resourceful youngsters decide to form a band and team up with Bebson, an eccentric impresario and one-time recording star; he’s just one of many unforgettable adults who, whether as informal instructors, fellow musicians, or menacing pursuers, impact the lives of these indefatigable tykes. Completely devoid of sentimentality and condescension, KINSASHA KIDS celebrates and honors both the resilience of its young protagonists and the chaotic city in which they live.

THE LAST TIME I SAW MACAO (A Última Vez Que Vi Macau) (2012) 82min
Director: João Pedro Rodrigues
Country: Portugal/France
This stunning amalgam of playful film noir and Chris Marker–like cine-essay from João Pedro Rodrigues (TO DIE LIKE A MAN, NYFF 2009) and João Rui Guerra da Mata explores the psychic pull of the titular former Portuguese colony. After a spectacular opening scene, in which actress Cindy Scrash lip-synchs, as tigers pace behind her, to Jane Russell’s “You Kill Me”—from Josef von Sternberg’s MACAO (1952), a key reference here—the film shifts to da Mata’s off-screen recollections of growing up in this gambling haven in the South China Sea. He’s come back to Macao to help a friend who later vanishes—a mystery that begets not only poetic ruminations on time, place, and memory but also magnificent compositions of flora, fauna, and cityscapes. Rodrigues will also have his work presented during NYFF’s soon-to-be-announced Views From the Avant-Garde schedule.

LEVIATHAN (2012) 87min
Directors: Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
Country: USA
Having previously immersed us into the worlds of Montana sheep herding and Queens auto salvaging, respectively, NYFF alumni Lucien Castaing-Taylor (Sweetgrass) and Véréna Paravel (Foreign Parts) team for another singular anthropological excavation, this time set inside one of the world’s most dangerous professions: the commercial fishing industry. Taking to the high seas of the North Atlantic—Herman Melville territory—the filmmakers capture this harsh, unforgiving world in all of its visceral, haunting, cosmic detail, using an arsenal of cameras that pass freely from film crew to ship crew, and swoop from below sea level to literal bird’s-eye views. The result is a hallucinatory sensory experience quite unlike any other. To paraphrase Francis Coppola describing his Apocalypse Now, LEVIATHAN isn’t a movie about commercial fishing; it is commercial fishing.

LIFE OF PI (2012)
Director: Ang Lee
Country: USA
Based on the book that has sold more than seven million copies and spent years on the bestseller list, Academy Award winner Lee's LIFE OF PI takes place over three continents, two oceans, many years, and a wide world of imagination. Lee’s vision, coupled with game-changing technological breakthroughs, has turned a story long thought un-filmable into a totally original cinematic event and the first truly international all-audience motion picture. LIFE OF PI follows a young man who survives a disaster at sea and is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While marooned on a lifeboat, he forms an amazing and unexpected connection with the ship¹s only other survivor…a fearsome Bengal tiger. A Twentieth Century Fox release.

LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE (2012) 109min
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Country: Japan/Iran/France
Fresh from the triumph of his Tuscany-set CERTIFIED COPY (NYFF 2010), master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami travels even further afield from his native Iran for this mysteriously beautiful romantic drama filmed entirely in Japan. LIKE SOMEONE IN LOVE revolves around the brief encounter between an elderly professor (the wonderful 81-year-old stage actor Tadashi Okuno, here playing his first leading role in a film) and a sociology student (Rin Takanashi) who moonlights as a high-end escort. Dispatched to the old man by her boss—one of the professor’s former students—the young woman finds her latest client less interested in sex than in cooking her soup, talking, and playing old Ella Fitzgerald records (like the one that gives the film its allusive title). Eventually, night gives way to day and a tense standoff with the student’s insanely jealous boyfriend (Ryō Kase); but as usual in Kiarostami, nothing is quite as it appears on the surface. Are these characters—who conjure in one another the specters of regret and roads not taken—meeting by chance, or is it fate? Is this love, or merely something like it? A Sundance Selects release.

LINES OF WELLINGTON (Linhas de Wellington) (2012) 151min
Director: Valeria Sarmiento
Country: France/Portugal
After conquering Spain, Napoleon Bonaparte sent a powerful army to invade Portugal in 1810. The French plowed through the resistance mounted against them until, as they approached Lisbon, they were met by a combined British and Portuguese army under the command of the Viscount Wellington. That’s the general historical outline for Valeria Sarmiento’s extraordinarily intimate epic of the Peninsular War. Along the way, we witness love affairs and treachery, noble action and selfish cruelty, from the highest social echelons to the most humble quarters. Prepared by the late Raul Ruiz from a screenplay by Carlos Saboga (Mysteries of Lisbon), LINES OF WELLINGTON was completed by Sarmiento—Ruiz’s longtime editor as well as his widow—who has created a revealing portrait of life during what has been called one of the first examples of “total war.” The all-star cast includes Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Elsa Zylberstein, Marisa Paredes, and John Malkovich as Wellington.

MEMORIES LOOK AT ME (Ji Yi Wang Zhe Wo) (2012) 91min
Director: Song Fang
Country: China
Song Fang’s remarkable directorial debut, in which she travels from Beijing to Nanjing for a visit with her family (many of whom play themselves), gracefully expounds on several poignant topics: how an adult child’s relationship with her parents changes as they grow older, and how to negotiate one’s place as a single woman in a world of married couples. Song, who many will remember for her wonderful performance as the nanny and aspiring filmmaker in Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Flight of the Red Balloon (NYFF 2007), perfectly captures the rhythms of brief sojourns home, trips filled with reunions (both joyful and heart-wrenching), reminiscences, and moments of feeling painfully out of place. Winner of the Best First Feature prize at this year’s Locarno Film Festival.

NIGHT ACROSS THE STREET (La Noche de enfrente) (2012) 107min
Director: Raul Ruiz
Country: France/Chile
In August 2011, the cinema sadly lost one of its most magical artists, director Raul Ruiz—but, happily, not before he left us with one final masterpiece. Returning to his native Chile, Ruiz introduces us here to Don Celso, a bespectacled office worker heading into retirement. After an evening’s poetry class, Celso starts to narrate several tales from his childhood to his teacher, guiding the audience both within and outside the film through various levels of reality that mix the private and the public, the historical and the mythic, the here and the beyond. The journey is, of course, full of Ruizian flights of visual and verbal wit, where resonances between words and images form connections that at times defy traditional storytelling. NIGHT ACROSS THE STREET is both a moving meditation on one man’s mortality as well as an insightful summation of an artist’s brilliant career. A Cinema Guild release. Ruiz will also have his work presented during NYFF’s soon-to-be-announced Views From the Avant-Garde schedule.

NO (2012) 110min
Director: Pablo Larrain
Country: Chile/USA/Mexico
In 1988, in an effort to extend and legitimize its rule, the Pinochet military junta announced it would hold a plebiscite to get the people’s permission to stay in power. Despite being given 15 minutes a day to plead its case on television, the anti-Pinochet opposition was divided and without a clear message. Enter Rene Saavedra (an excellent Gael Garcia Bernal), an ad man who, after a career pushing soft drinks and soap, sets out to sell Chileans on democracy and freedom. Winner of the top prize in this year’s Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, NO is little short of a miracle: shooting on U-matic video tape to give the film the look of the Eighties, filmmaker Pablo Larrain (TONY MANERO, POST MORTEM) has created a smart, funny and totally engrossing political thriller with a powerful resonance for our times. A Sony Pictures Classics release.

NOT FADE AWAY (2012) 112min
Director: David Chase
Country: USA
The time is the 1960s, on the cusp of the summer of love. The place, suburban New Jersey. The music, 100 percent pure rock and roll. For his feature filmmaking debut, The Sopranos creator David Chase has crafted a wise, tender and richly atmospheric portrait of a group of friends trying to do what so many awkward suburban kids of the time dreamed of doing: form their own rock band. And these guys are good, fronted by a preternaturally gifted singer-songwriter (terrific newcomer John Magaro) who’s a dead ringer for the young Bob Dylan, even if dad (James Gandolfini) doesn’t take kindly to seeing junior strut around in long hair and Cuban heels. Masterfully capturing the era’s conflicting attitudes and ideologies, all set to a killer soundtrack produced by the legendary Steven Van Zandt, NOT FADE AWAY just might be the best coming-of-age movie since Barry Levinson’s Diner—and one of the best rock movies ever. A Paramount Vantage release.

OUR CHILDREN (À perdre la raison) (2012) 111min
Director: Joachim Lafosse
Country: Belgium
How does it happen that a vibrant, capable young woman loses her sense of self-worth and ends up destroying what she most loves? Belgian director Joachim Lafosse structures an all too familiar contemporary story that was headline news in Europe as a classical tragedy. Émilie Dequenne more than fulfills the promise of her award-winning performance in the Dardenne brothers’ Rosetta with this portrait of a young school teacher who marries a Moroccan immigrant (Tahar Rahim) and has four children with him, while gradually becoming aware of how much he is in thrall to his mentor, a domineering doctor (Niels Arestrup). Rahim and Arestrup reprise their father/son relationship from Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet but with an even more corrupt twist. Lafosse’s direction of this perverse narrative of patriarchal power and female oppression is like steel wrapped in silk.

PASSION (2012) 94min
Director: Brian De palma
Country: USA
Brian De Palma exhibits great panache and a diabolical mastery of frequent, small surprises in his first fiction feature since his magical comedy-of-coincidences, FEMME FATALE. With tongue planted in cheek, or maybe not—it’s up to you to decide—De Palma turns French director Alain Corneau’s 2010 LOVE CRIME into a far more droll, erotic tale of female competition. Noomi Rapace more than matches her performance in the original GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO as the assistant to an unscrupulous advertising honcho (Rachel McAdams), who steals her ideas and acts as if it’s all good sport. It’s great fun until De Palma zeros in on the fury in Rapace’s eyes. The De Palma trademarks are all present and deployed with coolly calculated abandon: a brilliant use of split screen; a confusion of identical twins; dreams within dreams; and shoes to die for.

SOMETHING IN THE AIR (Après Mai) (2012) 122min
Director: Olivier Assayas
Country: France
In the months after the heady weeks of May ’68, a group of young people search for a way to continue the revolution believed to be just beginning. For Gilles (newcomer Clément Mettayer), this means having to balance his political commitments with his desire to explore painting and filmmaking; for his girlfriend Christine (GOODBYE, FIRST LOVE star Lola Créton), this means throwing herself wholeheartedly into the task of organizing. Olivier Assayas (CARLOS, SUMMER HOURS) here describes the sentimental education of a generation that was too young to have been on the barricades; he brilliantly captures its explorations of new lifestyles, the arguments about strategies and tactics, and above all its music, a constant presence that becomes something like the artistic unconscious of an era. The period details are perfect, but what makes this film so special is the sense it conveys of history as lived experience. A Sundance Selects release.

TABU (2012) 118min
Director: Miguel Gomes
Country: Portugal
The ghosts of F.W. Murnau, Luis Buñuel, Joseph Cornell and Jack Smith hover above Miguel Gomes’s third feature—an exquisite, absurdist entry in the canon of surrealist cinema. Shot in ephemeral black-and-white celluloid, TABU is movie-as-dream—an evocation of irrational desires, extravagant coincidences, and cheesy nostalgia that nevertheless is grounded in serious feeling and beliefs, even anti-colonialist politics. There is a story, which is delightful to follow and in which the cart comes before the horse: the first half is set in contemporary Lisbon, the second, involving two of the same characters, in a Portuguese colony in the early 1960s. “Be My Baby” belted in Portuguese, a wandering crocodile, and a passionate, ill-advised coupling seen through gently moving mosquito netting make for addled movie magic. The winner of the Alfred Bauer Prize (for a work of particular innovation) and FIPRESCI (International Film Critics) award at this year’s Berlin Film Festival. An Adopt Films release.

YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET (Vous n'avez encore rien vu) (2012) 115min
Director: Alain Resnais
Country: France
From its impish title to its vibrant formal experimentation, YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET proves that, at age 90, master French filmmaker Alain Resnais (HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR, WILD GRASS) is indeed still full of surprises. Based on two works by the playwright Jean Anouilh, the film opens with a who’s-who of French acting royalty (including Mathieu Amalric, Michel Piccoli and frequent Resnais muse Sabine Azéma) being summoned to the reading of a late playwright’s last will and testament. Upon their arrival, the playwright (Denis Podalydès) appears on a TV screen from beyond the grave and asks his erstwhile collaborators to evaluate a recording of an experimental theater company performing his Eurydice—a play they themselves all appeared in over the years. But as the video unspools, something curious happens: instead of watching passively, these seasoned thespians begin acting out the text alongside their youthful avatars, looking back into the past rather like mythic Orpheus himself. Gorgeously shot by cinematographer Eric Gautier on stylized sets that recall the French poetic realism of the 1930s, YOU AIN’T SEEN NOTHIN’ YET is an alternately wry and wistful valentine to actors and the art of performance from a director long fascinated by the intersection of life, theater and cinema.

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Monday, August 06, 2012



Curiosity's Descent

This stop-motion video shows 297 frames from the Mars Descent Imager aboard NASA's Curiosity rover as it descended to the surface of Mars. These thumbnail images were received on Earth on Aug. 6, 2012, and cover the last two and a half minutes of descent.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech    


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Here is the picture of Curiosity's wheel on Mars.  It landed on time, in the right spot.  (Better than most airplanes from NY to Syracuse.)


Parachute deployed
Flying 15 kilometers over Mars
Entry has begun. Please keep your seat belts fastened until the Mars vehicle has come to a complete stop at its designated landing space.
About 5 min to entry about 7 more to landing.
Final stages of landing on Mars, LIVE on

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