Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” Will Open 50th NYFF

For the first time, the New York Film Festival will open with a 3D film when the World Premiere of Ang Lee's Life of Pi kicks off the fest on Friday, September 28. The New York-based filmmaker will be welcomed back to NYFF to launch the landmark 50th edition of the festival.

Ang Lee joins a small group of filmmakers who have had more than one film in the Opening Night slot. Robert Altman, Pedro Almodóvar and François Truffaut have each opened NYFF more than once. Lee's The Ice Storm kicked off the event in 1997 and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon closed the festival in 2000. See the full list of past Opening Night films below.

"I am both delighted and honored to be back at the New York Film Festival with Life of Pi," Ang Lee said in a statement today. "I have the deepest respect for Richard Peña and his team and to be selected by them as the Opening Night film for the 50th Anniversary is extremely gratifying. I am also excited because this is my hometown, and to be unveiling this film that I am so proud of here is a real pleasure."

The story of young man who survives a disaster at sea, Life of Pi is based on Yann Martel's bestselling novel of the same name. Long considered an un-filmable book, Life of Pi takes place over three continents, two oceans and many years. Lee has employed breakthrough technology and his distinctive visual style in order to tell this epic story. While marooned on a lifeboat, the young man at the center of Life of Pi forms an unexpected bond with the other survivor, a Bengal tiger.

"Life of Pi is a perfect combination of technological innovation and a strong artistic vision," said Richard Peña, Film Society Program Director and Chair of the NYFF Selection Committee in a statement. "Ang Lee has managed to make a deeply moving, engrossing work that will delight audiences as much as it will astonish them. We're enormously proud to have this film for our Opening Night for the 50th NYFF."

Last year, the New York Film Festival presented two films in 3D: Wim Wenders' Pina and a surprise screening of Martin Scorsese's Hugo. A World Premiere from Twentieth Century Fox at this year's festival, Ang Lee's Life of Pi will be released in theaters on November 21, 2012.

Rounding out the Selection Committee with Richard Peña this year are Village Voice contributor Melissa Anderson, Film Society Associate Program Director Scott Foundas, The Hollywood Reporter Chief Film Critic Todd McCarthy, and the newly-appointed Amy Taubin, a contributing editor at Film Comment and Sight and Sound magazines.

"Ang Lee has shown us his mastery of intimate psychological drama as well as epic action-adventure," said Film Society Executive Director Rose Kuo in a statement today. "We are thrilled to welcome him back to the New York Film Festival with an exciting film that displays of all his talent."

As was previously announced, the 50th New York Film Festival will close on Sunday, October 14th with the world premiere of Robert Zemeckis' Flight

General Public tickets for the 50th New York Film Festival will be available September 9. There will be a pre-sale ticketing period for Film Society Patrons and Members prior to that date. More information on festival ticketing can be found here. Be sure to follow Film Society and NYFF for the latest updates as we count down to this landmark event!

50 Years of New York Film Festival Opening Night Films:

1963 The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel, Mexico)
1964 Hamlet (Grigori Kozintsev, USSR)
1965 Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard, France)
1966 Loves of a Blonde (Milos Forman, Czechoslovakia)
1967 The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy/Algeria)
1968 Capricious Summer (Jiri Menzel, Czechoslovakia)
1969 Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (Paul Mazursky, US)
1970 The Wild Child (François Truffaut, France)
1971 The Debut (Gleb Panfilov, Soviet Union)
1972 Chloe in the Afternoon (Eric Rohmer, France)
1973 Day for Night (François Truffaut, France)
1974 Don't Cry With Your Mouth Full (Pascal Thomas, France)
1975 Conversation Piece (Luchino Visconti, Italy)
1976 Small Change (François Truffaut, France)
1977 One Sings, The Other Doesn't (Agnès Varda, France)
1978 A Wedding (Robert Altman, US)
1979 Luna (Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy/US)
1980 Melvin and Howard (Jonathan Demme, US)
1981 Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, UK)
1982 Veronika Voss (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, West Germany)
1983 The Big Chill (Lawrence Kasdan, US)
1984 Country (Richard Pearce, US)
1985 Ran (Akira Kurosawa, Japan)
1986 Down By Law (Jim Jarmusch, US)
1987 Dark Eyes (Nikita Mikhalkov, Soviet Union)
1988 Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
1989 Too Beautiful For You (Bertrand Blier, France)
1990 Miller's Crossing (Joel Coen, US)
1991 The Double Life of Veronique (Krysztof Kieslowski, Poland/France)
1992 Olivier Olivier (Agnieszka Holland, France)
1993 Short Cuts (Robert Altman, US)
1994 Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, US)
1995 Shanghai Triad (Zhang Yimou, China)
1996 Secrets & Lies (Mike Leigh, UK)
1997 The Ice Storm (Ang Lee, US)
1998 Celebrity (Woody Allen, US)
1999 All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
2000 Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, Denmark)
2001 Va Savoir (Jacques Rivette, France)
2002 About Schmidt (Alexander Payne, US)
2003 Mystic River (Clint Eastwood, US)
2004 Look At Me (Agnès Jaoui, France)
2005 Good Night, and Good Luck (George Clooney, US)
2006 The Queen (Stephen Frears, UK)
2007 The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, US)
2008 The Class (Laurent Cantet, France)
2009 Wild Grass (Alain Resnais, France)
2010 The Social Network (David Fincher, US)
2011 Carnage (Roman Polanski, France/Poland)
2012 Life of Pi (Ang Lee, US)

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