The 53rd New York Film Festival’s annual master class, On Cinema, will feature a conversation between NYFF Director of Programming Kent Jones and one of the world’s greatest living directors, Hou Hsiao-hsien, on Saturday, October 10. In a rare visit to New York, on the occasion his latest film The Assassin screening at NYFF53, the director will discuss some of the works that have marked, haunted, and influenced him as an artist. In the Revivals section, the festival will also present his 1983 Taiwanese New Wave drama, The Boys from Fengkuei.
The popular FREE Directors Dialogues returns with three diverse, notable filmmakers, paired with a NYFF selection committee member as they discuss their careers, their craft and views on their own approach to making movies, as well as the current state of filmmaking. This year’s lineup will feature sit-downs with Jia Zhangke (Mountains May Depart) on Tuesday, September 29; Michael Moore (Where To Invade Next) on Sunday, October 4; and Todd Haynes (Carol) on Saturday, October 10. All of these director’s newest films are screening in the Main Slate of the NYFF53.
Hou Hsiao-hsien directed his first film in 1980, after years of assisting and writing for other filmmakers. Three years later, he made the autobiographical The Boys from Fengkuei, which he considers to be the real beginning of his work as an artist in cinema. From there, he went on to create several of the defining works of the Taiwanese New Wave, one of the greatest moments in the cinema of the last decades, and then to make one astonishing film after another. With every new movie from The Puppetmaster (NYFF 1993) on, Hou redefined the very idea of what a movie was, for himself and for the rest of us. Immersive, grounded in history and change but tuned to the smallest nuances of gesture, light, color, and atmosphere, every individual Hou film arrives as a shock. And his new film The Assassin, his first in eight years, is no exception: audiences in Cannes were left open-mouthed. It’s been a long time since Hou has been in New York, and we’re very pleased that this true master accepted our invitation to discuss some of the movies that have marked him in his life as a filmmaker.
Saturday, October 10, 3:30pm
If, hundreds of years from now, anyone wanted to know what it was like to be alive at this moment—what life felt like and what changes were occurring and the ways in which they affected us as individuals—they could get the whole picture from watching the films of Jia Zhangke. From the moment he burst on the scene with Xiao Wu in the late ’90s, this artist has given us a river of films, made with a team of regular collaborators (including his wife and principal actress Zhao Tao and his cinematographer Yu Lik-wai), each film as pungently human but wide in scope as a Breugel canvas. The world itself is a character in Jia’s films, urging the characters on and informing the speed of life. NYFF has shown many of his movies over the years, from Platform in 2000 on, and are proud to have him here with his newest movie, Mountains May Depart, and very happy that he’s agreed to join the series for a talk about his extraordinary body of work.
Tuesday, September 29, 6:00pm
“Democracy is not a spectator sport, it’s a participatory event,” said Michael Moore at a 2009 press conference. “If we don’t participate in it, it ceases to be a democracy.” Moore has been an active participant since his childhood in Flint, Michigan, where he was raised in a union family—his uncle was actually a UAW founder and a participant in the great General Motors sit-down strike of 1936. In 1989, Moore’s participation took the form of a film called Roger & Me (NYFF 1989), a spirited, funny, white-hot attack on GM, which had by then moved most of their jobs out of the country and devastated the once-thriving region, a scenario that was repeated many times throughout the country. In the years since, Moore has been launching brilliantly planned comic attacks on the NRA and the gun industry (Bowling for Columbine), the American response to 9/11 (Fahrenheit 9/11), the health-care industry (Sicko), capitalism itself (Capitalism: A Love Story), and, with his new film Where To Invade Next, the divide between America’s lofty self-image and the less impressive reality.
Sunday, October 4, 3:00pm
A genuinely independent filmmaker, Todd Haynes has an impressive body of work that is grounded in the pressures of conformity, bearing down on individuals and sometimes resulting in illness (Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, Safe) or other forms of entrapment (Far from Heaven, Mildred Pierce), sometimes in transcendence (Velvet Goldmine, I’m Not There). With Carol, his remarkable new adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt, Haynes has given us a delicately nuanced work about the slowly evolving romance between two women in 1950s America, and found a reverberant emotionalism with his actors (Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) and his cinematographer (the great Ed Lachman) that is a wonder to behold.
Saturday, October 10, 12:00pm