The Grandlife Guide to NYFF
Film at Lincoln Center, responsible for screenings of international titles and themed festivals throughout the year, brings us the 61st edition of the New York Film Festival from September 29 through October 15.
For those who didn’t make the trip to Cannes last spring or this month’s Toronto or Venice fests, NYFF conveniently brings NYC some of their most buzzy, hotly anticipated titles including opening night’s North American premiere of Todd Haynes’ May December, Sofia Coppola’s centerpiece Priscilla, and Michael Mann’s Ferrari on closing night.
NYFF 2023 also sees new work from an impressive slate of acclaimed international directors—Finland’s Aki Kaurismaki, England’s Andrew Haigh, France’s Catherine Breillat, South Korea’s Hong Sangsoo, and Greece’s Yorgos Lanthimos just to name a handful—plus revivals, schmoozy galas and events, short films, and conversations with filmmakers, critics and curators.
The program, broken into five sections—Main Slate, Currents, Spotlight, Revivals and Talks—is live at their website, and below we present all the intel you need to navigate the fest, some of our must-see picks, and how to keep well fed (and drink!) between screenings.
How and Where to Fest and Other Helpful Hacks
Tickets for individual screenings go on sale September 19th at 12pm ET. However, a selection of passes that allow early dibs on seats are already available. These range from a 6-film pass that excludes some gala and premiere titles for $300 to an ultra-deluxe cinephile VIP Gold package with all the bells and whistles, brunches, and concierge support for $20,000 (and yes, there are plenty of options and price ranges in between).
While most films and events take place at Lincoln Center, venues this year are scattered across the boroughs. Please be sure to scrutinize locations both when booking your tickets and, of course, to avoid a “nooooooo!!” moment, rechecking the day of.
This year’s venues include Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, David Geffen Hall, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, and Walter Reade Theater; Harlem’s Maysles Documentary Center; Queens’ Museum of the Moving Image; the Bronx Museum of the Arts; Brooklyn’s BAM; and Staten Island’s Alamo Drafthouse. Several of the latter also function as fantastic attractions in their own right, so consider carving out an extra hour or three to explore their exhibitions and additional programming.
While the ongoing SAG strike forbids actors from promoting their films and attending screenings, with rare exceptions for which talent must secure waivers, directors are not restricted in any way, so some screenings will see their iconic, visionary creators present for Q&As and discussions (like Pedro Almodovar, so keep reading!). At the time of this writing, dedicated Talks events had not yet been announced, and since surprise films may be added (or rarely, replaced/removed) be sure to keep checking the NYFF website and subscribe to its newsletter for updates.
Making his sophomore effort as director (A Star Is Born, which snagged seven Oscars, was his first), Bradley Cooper also stars as Leonard Bernstein, with a controversial yet Bernstein family-approved prosthetic nose, in this NYFF Gala Centerpiece biopic. Tracing the iconic composer and musician’s 30+ year relationship with actress Felicia Montealegre (Carey Mulligan) as its central narrative, Maestro has already been praised in early reactions for its stunning set pieces (including a one-take concert sequence) and performances, and mix of black and white and color cinematography. Like A Star Is Born, this one’s a music-filled Oscar contender, so get ahead of the conversation and bragging rights by seeing it here!
October 2, 6pm & 9:45pm, David Geffen Hall
The Boy and The Heron
The exalted, trailblazing 82-year-old Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli fame “retired” back in 2013 after completing his 11th film, The Wind Rises. Yet he’s back a decade later with what seems to be one of his career-best accomplishments. Meshing signature themes of the spirit world, dream logic, and coming-of-age, The Boy And The Heron sees a teenage boy, Mahito, forced to relocate from Tokyo to the countryside with his father and aunt, Natsuko, who got married in the wake of Mahito’s mother’s untimely death. When Natsuko goes missing, and a talking gray heron enters the picture, the boy must venture into an alternate reality to find her.
October 1, 2, 12
American auteur Todd Haynes reunites with Far From Heaven and Safe star Julianne Moore in this compelling drama about a popular TV actress, Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), who prepares to play a real-life woman, Gracie (Moore), whose scandalous romance with a 13-year-old, Joe (Charles Melton), led to their marriage. Ingratiating herself into their complicated and tabloid-exploited family, Elizabeth may get more than she bargained for.
September 29th at 6pm & 9pm
Referring to the treacherous, forested region between Belarus and Poland, this drama follows the plight of refugees desperate to get into the EU via Poland, and those who endanger or, alternately, assist them. Polish director Agnieszka Holland’s strongest features seem to take place during wartime and international conflicts – 1990’s Europa Europa, 2019’s Mr. Jones, 2011’s In Darkness – and her latest promises to be just as tense, urgent, and moving.
October 4 & 5
Festival darling Richard Linklater, whose 2011 true crime tale Bernie was a madcap hoot, returns to the genre with another off-kilter delight. Here, Glen Powell stars as a New Orleans philosophy professor who, with a knack for disguises and switching personas, also poses as a hitman to ensnare potential employers for the police. Alas, when he falls for one of those would-be criminals (Adriana Arjona), delightful chaos and deceit ensue.
October 3, 4, 7
Strange Way Of Life
Come for Pedro Almodovar’s hotly anticipated 31-minute gay Western starring Pedro Pascal and Ethan Hawke as reunited former lovers, but stay for the extended conversation with the provocative Spanish auteur!
September 30th @ 3pm
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Where to Eat and Drink
Top Chef star and James Beard Award-winning Chef Kwame Onwuachi opened this first NYC restaurant in late 2022 at Lincoln Center’s extensively renovated David Geffen Hall, making it not only a convenient venue for festgoers but a foodie destination in itself. A Bronx native who previously worked at Per Se and Eleven Madison Park, Onwuachi serves up flavorful, creative Afro-Caribbean-inspired sharing plates like crispy okra with pepper sauce, curried goat patties, braised oxtails, and a wagyu short rib pastrami suya.
10 Lincoln Center Plaza
Also Lincoln Center adjacent, celebrity chef Daniel Boulud’s seasonal French fare bistro brings you hearty classics – and at least a couple of burgers – and convenient prix fixe menus for dinner and weekend brunch, plus cocktails and wine to imbibe between ticketed engagements.
El Fish Marisqueria
Over at Columbus Circle, Toloache chef Julian Medina gives seafood a Mexican-fusion spin, inspired by the offerings and flavors he experienced in the country’s fishing capital, Ensenada. Besides cold bar, ceviches and tostada treats, hot and larger dishes include a swordfish schnitzel and pan-fried lobster with Mexican fried rice.
155 Amsterdam Ave.
Park Slope, Brooklyn’s beloved (and unpretentious) Israeli restaurant opened an UWS sibling in 2022, with daily brunch and dinner menus (10am-4pm and 4pm-10pm respectively). Expect addictive flatbreads, pitas, “Jerusalem bagels,” hummus and dips, bright seasonal salads, shakshuka, amazing lamb shawarma terracotta, chicken schnitzel, and plenty of vegetarian-friendly options.
300 Amsterdam Ave
The 61st edition of the New York Film Festival runs from September 29 through October 15. You can find more information—here.
WORDS Lawrence Ferber
FEATURED IMAGE Film still from Maestro