New York Film Festival: what you should watch

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Josh Ilano, Contributor

The 60th annual New York Film Festival (NYFF) has arrived and is easily accessible for University students. The festival spans Friday, Sept. 30 to Sunday, Oct. 16 and is broken up into four categories: Main Slate, Spotlight, Currents and Revivals, each category curating a remarkable selection of films. Here’s what students need to know if they plan on attending.

Free and Discounted Events

A great opportunity for college students, the NYFF holds talks for free, which are given out in an in-person queue. Oscar standout director Jane Campion of “The Power of the Dog” is speaking on Oct. 2 in conversation with Sofia Coppola, chronicling Campion’s decades-long career. A staple of Korean cinema, Park Chan-wook is set to discuss his artistic influences on Oct. 9. To honor the recent death of the seminal French New Wave auteur Jean-Luc Godard, his avant-garde final film, “The Image Book,” will be screening for free from Oct. 1 to 7.

Main Slate

The Main Slate portion of the festival consists of 32 feature films. The film that is kicking off the entire festival is Noah Baumbach’s “White Noise,” an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s 1985 novel. Starring Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, the film was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. The Sept. 30 screening will feature a Q&A with Baumbach and the cast. “One Fine Morning” is a film by Mia Hansen-Løve, whose previous film, “Bergman Island,” put the director on many cinephiles’ radars. The film stars Léa Seydoux as a single mother navigating love, obligation and motherhood.Stars at Noon” is Claire Denis’ first film since 2018’s “High Life,” starring Margaret Qualley, Joe Alwyn and Benny Safdie in a contemporary thriller about an American journalist stranded in Nicaragua.


The Spotlight series features the highly anticipated film “Bones and All” by “Call Me By Your Name” director Luca Guadagnino. The film includes Timothee Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg alongside rising star Taylor Russell. This thrilling film follows Lee (Chalamet) and Maren Yearly (Russell) as they navigate society. “Bones and All” seems to marry the distinct arthouse horror he developed in his 2018 release, “Suspiria,” and “Call Me By Your Name’s” seductive and naturalistic presentation. “This film is a movie that’s going to take Gen-Z by storm, and will take its place right next to ‘Call Me By Your Name,’” freshman Film and Screen Studies student Elinor Roach said.

On Oct. 9, Elvis Mitchell’s “Is That Black Enough for You?!?” will have its world premiere. This documentary is Mitchell’s directorial debut and tells the story of the Black revolution in 1970’s cinema. Maria Schrader’s “She Said” premieres Oct. 13 and stars Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan as New York Times journalists. An experience not worth missing is the 50th anniversary of Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Solaris.” This screening features a new score by Matthew Nolan and Stephen Shannon, commissioned by the NYFF. The score will be performed live in conjunction with the film. 


Currents is a section that seeks to show a more holistic view of cinema, providing selections that are more experimental and avant-garde, and show a more innovative form of filmmaking. Italian director Alessandro Comodin is featured in Currents with his latest film “The Adventures of Gigi the Law,” which tells a tale of a small-town policeman in northern Italy. “The Dam” is a feature film debut by Lebanese visual artist Ali Cherri, who uses “The Dam” as an experiment that intersects narrative aspects with documentary, ancient themes with contemporary, and natural and supernatural topics. “Queens of Qing Dynasty” is a multilingual experience of Mandarin, Russian and English, all helmed by writer and director Ashley McKenzie. The film follows an unlikely friendship between a suicidal teen and an immigrant hospital worker. The film’s visual landscape chooses an aesthetic that uses bright and bodacious colors and textures, creating a wholly unique cinematic experience. The festival also contains the Currents Program, consisting of several shorts from around the globe. 


This section of the NYFF showcases important films from the past, that have been remastered and restored for the modern age. “A Confucian Confusion,” a film that satirizes young urbanites in 1990s Taipei, is from legendary auteur Edward Yang, whose films “Yi-Yi” and “A Brighter Summer Day” cemented him as one of the all-time greats. “Canyon Passage” by Jacques Tourneur stars golden age icons Susan Hayward and Dana Andrews in a sprawling technicolor western. The Soviet film “The Long Farewell,” directed by Kira Muratova, is a family drama that combines its somber town with an otherworldly atmosphere, stressing the themes it presents. These restorations are a featured part of the NYFF that students will not want to miss.