Every fall, for 56 years now, the New York Film Festival makes the Film Society of Lincoln Center its home for two weeks, screening high-quality films that make either their world premiere or North American debut. With works by Frederick Wiseman, Hong Sang-soo (like last year, two in the Main Slate!), Jia Zhangke, Bi Gan, Lee Chang-dong, Claire Denis, and other luminaries, the line-up this year is impressive. NYFF selection committee member and FSLC Director of Programming Dennis Lim said on Instagram, “Of the nine editions of NYFF I have worked on, this Main Slate seems to me our richest and most varied yet.”
The Main Slate indeed seems to contain a myriad of riches, some of which include more art-centric fare. In fact, At Eternity’s Gate is the fest’s closing night film. Julian Schnabel’s return to filmmaking after 2010’s Miral, it concentrates on Vincent van Gogh’s (Willem Dafoe) final days. Kirk Douglas, Tim Roth, and Jacques Dutronc have played him in the past, and a hand-painted animated film covering this time in van Gogh’s life was released last year. It will be intriguing to see Schnabel’s approach to such an overrepresented master. Jean-Luc Godard returns to NYFF with The Image Book, which will most likely re-frame the language of cinema, a continuing theme for this former French New Wave director. You can expect Godard’s to be a film of references and citations, of dynamic relationships between sound and image. Lastly, along with Paul Dano, Richard Billingham lands on the Main Slate with his feature debut. Ray & Liz is the Turner Prize-nominated filmmaker’s 16-mm depiction of a dysfunctional family (inspired by Billingham’s own), seen in three episodes, living in a flat on the outskirts of Birmingham.
Beyond the Main Slate, there are enticing films to see in the Projections and Spotlight on Documentary sections. The former, dedicated to more experimental sound and images, includes Your Face, the latest work by Tsai Ming-liang. Judging from the description, this 76-minute feature seems like, as with his previous seven-film Walker series, the director’s newest exercise in duration. The film consists of a series of portraits of mostly non-actors (although Tsai muse Lee Kang-sheng makes an appearance) scored to the sounds of ambient maestro Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Over in the Spotlight on Documentary sidebar, there are a number of appetizing films to check out, especially Tom Surgal’s Fire Music. In recent years, there has been a surge in documentaries concentrating on artists (Kasper Collin’s I Called Him Morgan, John Scheinfeld’s Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, and Jake Meginsky and Neil Young’s Milford Graves: Full Mantis) and jazz record labels (Sophie Huber’s Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes). Consisting of archival footage and photos, Fire Music is the latest addition, spotlighting the sounds of free jazz and the musicians, such as Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, and Eric Dolphy, associated with it. From an artist-turned-director to a doc on the sounds of improvisatory music, NYFF has more top-shelf art-inflected wares than in recent memory.
The 56th New York Film Festival runs at the Film Society of Lincoln Center (various venues, Manhattan) from September 28 through October 14.
Special Edition: 🖌️Artists’ Signatures ✍️
In this special edition, we investigate what artists’ signatures actually mean, and the fascinating results reveal the multifaceted history of this curious phenomenon.
What Is a Signature in the Internet Age?
As a cryptographic unit for record-keeping, an NFT can be seen as analogous to a signature or an autograph.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
The Meaning of Ancient Greek and Roman Artisan Signatures
What did a signature mean in the ancient world, and how much can we trust what they seem to tell us?
Michelangelo’s Signature and the Myth of Genius
Michelangelo served as a stellar example for future artists who sought status and economic independence.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
Uncovering the Photographer Behind Arshile Gorky’s Most Famous Painting
As we pursue photographer Hovhannes Avedaghayan a fascinating picture begins to emerge of him and the world of which he was part.
100 Years of Artist Signatures in a Detroit Club
The beams in Detroit’s Scarab Club act as a guest book of sorts, carrying a wealth of stories and history, including signatures by Diego Rivera, Marcel Duchamp, Margaret Bourke-White, Isamu Noguchi, and others.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
The Myth of Agency Around Artists’ Signatures
In an art world built on shifting sands, artists’ signatures become symbols of agency for some, and relics of the past for others.
The Women Artists Commemorated on an NYC Sidewalk
The signatures of Rosa Bonheur, Mary Cassatt, and six other historical women artists are engraved on a small stretch of sidewalk on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Met Museum Repatriates 15 Objects to India
The sculptures were all at one point sold by the disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova Placed on Russian “Wanted” List
Tolokonnikova has long been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin’s regime.
So, is Schnabel’s Van Gogh film as much about Schnabel as his Basquiat biopic was?
Probably, but I’ll still watch it.
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