49TH NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL – 2011 EDITION

The 49th New York Film Festival will open this year on September 30th with Roman Polanski’s Carnage (Sony Classics) and close on October 16th Alexander Payne’s The Descendants (Fox Searchlight).  As usual the festival will be a mix of international festival faves, pet directors (Almodovar, Cedar, Ferrara, the Dardennes, Bilge, Wenders and Panahi) and the odd handful of films that will never leave the festival circuit ghetto.

Sony Classics is betting their Fall/Winter 2011 release schedule on the NYFF presenting the aforementioned Carnage by Roman Polanski, Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In, David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, Joseph Cedar’s Footnote and Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation.

Sundance Selects, the foreign language-releasing arm of IFC Films, has Mia Hansen-Love’s Goodbye First Love and Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne’s The Kid With A Bike.  The parent company, IFC Films, is rumored to be in negotiations to acquire Abel Ferrara’s 4:44: Last Day On Earth and Wim Wenders’ 3D documentary Pina about the world renown choreographer Pina Bausch who died before the film was finished.

Fox Searchlight who has been on a roll as of late will be releasing the closing night film The Descendants directed by Alexander Payne along with the sole Mexican film in this year’s festival, the latest narco-art film Miss Bala by Gerard Naranjo.  A source in-house has informed me that they are also releasing the racy Michael Fassbender full-frontal nudie Shame by his director buddy Steve McQueen who he collaborated on the Bobby Sands’ biopic Hunger with.  They’re also in negotiation to pickup the Sundance buzz title Martha Marcy May Marlene by newcomer Sean Durkin featuring the Olsen Twins’ more talented kid sister Elizabeth Olsen.

The Weinstein Company has their claws on two of the most commercial titles in this year’s festival, the French silent movie homage Michel Hazanavicius’ The Artist  (don’t be surprised to see a little Harvey magic come Academy Awards time) and Simon Curtis’ My Week With Marilyn featuring Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh.

The Cinema Guild, founded by filmmakers Philip and Mary-Ann Hobel has been morphing into a strange distributor since Philip stepped away from day-to-day operations due to health issues.  Once known as a respected educational distributor the company has of late been acquiring a number of titles for theatrical release that don’t seem to have “commercial viability” written on them.  This year’s NYFF has the latest from Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Once Upon A Time In Anatolia and the last film (he’s retiring) from the Hungarian master Bela Tarr, The Turin Horse, co-directed by Agnes Hranitzky both going out under the Cinema Guild banner.

Other films that have distributors already attached include Alice Rohrwacher’s Corpo Celeste coming out through the dvd art film club Film Movement; the HBO Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison: Living In The Material World, the film Scorsese walked off the Bob Marley doc to make (so did Jonathan Demme – but then, the producer is said to have been impossible to work with); Aki Kaurismaki’s Le Havre coming out through the recently awakened doyen of art cinema Janus Films, and the sole Magnolia release, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia.  Jafar Panahi & Mojtaba Mirtahmasb’s This Is Not A Film is supposedly under consideration by the dvd label Palisades Tartan but as of today I don’t have that information confirmed.

Other films included in this year’s festival include Ruben Ostlund’s Play, Nadav Lapid’s Policeman, Julia Loktev’s The Loneliest Planet, Ulrich Kohler’s Sleeping Sickness and Santiago Mitre’s The Student.

One wonders if they’ll make any special mention of the late Don Krim (Kino International) who was responsible for releasing a number of films by directors like Wong Kar-Wai, Michael Haneke, Aki Kaurismaki, Amos Gitai, Andre Techine, Shohei Imamura and Volker Schlondorff.