|Sponsored by Grand Marnier, The 41st New York Film Festival offers a selection of 26 features and 15 short films from around the world. In all, some 21 countries are represented in this year’s annual 17-day showcase of the best in world cinema, from Scotland to Sri Lanka, from Turkey to Taiwan, from Italy to Iran. All the feature films in the Festival are U.S. premieres. Among the stars expected to attend the Festival are Clint Eastwood, Nicole Kidman, Sean Penn, Marcia Gay Harden, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, Laura Linney, Lauren Bacall, Ben Gazzara, Chloë Sevigny, Naomi Watts, Benicio Del Toro, Tilda Swinton, and Ewan McGregor, as well as many directors whose films have been chosen.
The Festival’s Opening Night film is Mystic River, a gripping crime thriller from director Clint Eastwood (NYFF 1988, Bird), adapted from Dennis Lehane's best-selling novel by screenwriter Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential). It is the tale of three childhood friends from a working–class Boston neighborhood—Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon—thrown together again as adults. When tragedy befalls one of them, questions of guilt emerge to affect the present with devastating results. As brilliant as the three male leads are, Eastwood slowly shifts his attention to his two superb supporting actresses, Laura Linney and Marcia Gay Harden, whose characters prove to be the emotional center of this complex drama.
The Festival’s Centerpiece is Errol Morris’s The Fog of War, a dazzling cinematic dialogue with the conscience of Robert S. McNamara—WWII military strategist, auto executive and, most famously, Secretary of Defense during the escalation of the Vietnam War. Morris (NYFF 1978 Gates of Heaven; 1981, Vernon, Florida; 1997, Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control) asks the question: how can a mere mortal come to terms with history, particularly one who has done so much to shape it? For the all-too-human McNamara, past haunts present, hindsight is stopped dead in its tracks by the lingering reality of military and human catastrophe, and apology and self-justification keep trumping one another. Morris appears to let his subject, over 80 but as sharp as ever, lead the way, and the filmmaker uses archival footage, visual aids and a Philip Glass score.
The 41st New York Film Festival Web Site