By William Wolf


The opening night of the 57th New York Film Festival was especially exiting this year. The eagerly awaited attraction was director Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” which Film at Lincoln Center, the presenter of the Festival, wisely nabbed for the opener.

I went to the three o’clock opener at Alice Tully hall on Friday (September 27) and the after party at the Tavern on the Green, and there was another opening night celebrated after that with a later party at the Tavern on the Green. Such was the demand that more than one screening and party were required.

The Tavern parties were sponsored by Campari, and people arriving were greeted by attractive “Campari” hostesses. Drinks from the bar were generous, and so was the food, consisting of chicken, eggplant parmesan, pasta with sausage, spinach and salad, with severs circulating with shrimp and assorted hors d’oeuvres.

There was a gala atmosphere at the opening I attended. Wendy Keyes, former programmer and current Film at Lincoln center board member, welcomed the full-house audience, paid tribute to sponsors, and introduced Festival Director and Chair of the Selection Committee Kent Jones, who is stepping down after this year. He in turn introduced Martin Scorsese, who was given a huge ovation when he took the stage. Scorsese than introduced a large contingent of his cast members.

Particularly loud applause greeted Joe Pesci, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, the latter left to address the crowd. He was a man of few words. De Niro said, “All I’ll say is I hope you like the movie.”

“The Irishman” (see review in Special Reports) runs three hours and a half, a long time for filmgoers who often complain when a movie runs even a bit over two hours. The challenge was set, and as it turns out, Scorsese was proven justified in creating his lengthy epic. (There were long restroom lines at the end.)

The 57th Festival, which runs through October 13, is a particularly ambitious one. There are 29 films in the main slate, plus a slew of others in various categories, including documentaries, revivals, shorts, special events, free talks and podcasts. Overall there are 153 films from which to choose. In addition to its expanded programming, there is a smart look to the Festival’s printed material and to on-screen visual highlights.

This year’s Festival is dedicated to the late director and French icon Agnès Varda, whose final film “Varda by Agnès” is part of the main slate. On opening night Varda clips were shown, and the announcement that the Festival is dedicated to her received enthusiastic audience approval.

For detailed information and ticketing go on line to Posted September 30, 2019.


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