Mankiewicz Retrospective and 3 Revivals Unveiled for 52nd New York Film Festival

Once Upon a Time in America
Once Upon a Time in America. Image courtesy of LADD COMPANY/WARNER BROS./THE KOBAL COLLECTION

The first details about this year's New York Film Festival were unveiled Wednesday by the Film Society of Lincoln Center, including a Joseph L. Mankiewicz retrospective, the first selections of NYFF's Revivals, and information on the event's VIP Passes and Subscription Packages. The 52nd NYFF takes place September 26 - October 12.

Mankiewicz classics All About Eve (1950), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), 5 Fingers (1952), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), Guys and Dolls (1955), A Letter to Three Wives (1949), and Julius Caesar (1953) will screen as part of "Joseph L. Mankiewicz: The Essential Iconoclast," a retrospective surveying the filmmaker who began writing films at the end of the silent era before producing for MGM in the mid-’30s. Today, he is remembered for the acclaimed work he wrote and directed between 1946 and 1972. He considered his first five efforts as apprentice work (including the haunting The Ghost and Mrs. Muir), with A Letter to Three Wives as the "first true Mankiewicz film."

Mankiewicz is remembered for his genius dialogue and was a "master of structure." Kevin Jackson observed about one of his classics: "All About Eve is so easy to follow that, on first viewing, you hardly notice how complex its unfolding can be."

"I think it’s always important to revisit films you think you know in new contexts," said Kent Jones, Director of the New York Film Festival. "To experience the cinema of Joseph L. Mankiewicz within the context of what’s happening right now in movies is to see them in a fresh light, in all their complexity and intricacy, their richness of detail, their extraordinary beauty, their savage wit and satirical splendor, their profound understanding of human folly."

Continuing, he added: "You might think you know All About Eve and A Letter to Three Wives and The Barefoot Contessa and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and the others, but to see them all together in 2014, perfectly projected on a big screen, alongside relatively lesser-known titles like People Will Talk and Somewhere in the Night, will be a whole new experience. Godard thought that the cinema of Mankiewicz was the most intelligent to come out of Hollywood in the '40s and '50s. Quite right. It’s also a hell of a great ride."

Organizers also unveiled three films that will screen as NYFF's Revivals: Howard Brookner’s Burroughs: The Movie (1983), Sergei Parajanov’s The Color of Pomegranates (1968), and Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America (1984). The festival sidebar "celebrates and revisits classic and important films by filmmakers, auteurs, producers, and studios that helped shape world cinema."

Brookner’s Burroughs: The Movie was rediscovered by the filmmaker’s nephew following an exhaustive search, and includes newly discovered additional footage that will screen during the festival. The Color of Pomegranates, Parajanov’s film about the life of the 18th-century Armenian/Georgian poet and singer Sayat-Nova, was recently restored by the Cineteca di Bologna and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project to a form that "comes closer than ever to the intentions of its creator," according to the Film Society. "Michelangelo Antonioni described the film as being “of a stunningly perfect beauty." Additionally, NYFF will  screen a restored version of Leone’s final film, Once Upon a Time in America, also including never-before-seen footage, preserved by the Cineteca di Bologna and The Film Foundation from the director’s own work print—including Louise Fletcher’s scenes, once thought lost—which comes the closest to fulfilling Leone’s panoramic vision.

The selection committee of NYFF, chaired by Jones, also includes Dennis Lim, FSLC Director of Programming; Marian Masone, FSLC Senior Programming Advisor; Gavin Smith, Editor-in-Chief, Film Comment; and Amy Taubin, Contributing Editor, Film Comment and Sight & Sound.

Ticketing information from the Film Society for NYFF 52 follows:

[Beginning this Thursday, the 2014 NYFF’s Gold, Silver, and Bronze VIP Passes will be available for purchase and includes access (depending on level) to Opening Night, Closing Night, and Centerpiece Gala screenings and the invitation-only Opening Night party, “Evening With…” Dinner, the VIP Lounge, Filmmaker Brunch, as well as additional tickets for NYFF screenings, among other benefits. NYFF Subscription Packages will also be made available with varied levels (based on price) that provide access to the Gala screenings, Main Slate and/or Special Event screenings. Both VIP Passes and Subscription Packages will entitle the holder to the earliest festival pre-sale period—even before FSLC members. These ticketing options will go on sale June 5.]

Revivals Titles and Descriptions follow:

Burroughs: The Movie
This one-of-a-kind portrait of the great American writer began as director Howard Brookner’s Senior Thesis at NYU (with his friends Jim Jarmusch and Tom DiCillo on sound and camera, respectively). Shooting and post-production took five years, during which Brookner accumulated multiple hours with Burroughs visiting old hangouts and speaking with unusual candor, as well as interviews with many friends, including Allen Ginsberg, Terry Southern, John Giorno, Patti Smith, Lauren Hutton, and Brion Gysin. Brookner would make only two more films before his death from AIDS in 1989, three days short of his 35th birthday. In the years since, Burroughs: The Movie was thought to be lost. The director’s nephew Aaron undertook a lengthy search, which led to the discovery of not just the film but many precious materials found in Burroughs’s old Bowery apartment, otherwise known as “The Bunker.” Aaron Brookner will be present, along with many of his uncle’s friends, to present Burroughs: The Movie and a selection of this newly discovered footage. A real New York event. A Janus Films release.

The Color of Pomegranates
Born in the Soviet Republic of Georgia to Armenian parents, Sergei Parajanov studied cinema at the illustrious VGIK in Moscow under Aleksandr Dovzhenko. After he saw Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood, he disowned his earlier films and re-dedicated himself to cinema with the astonishing Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, followed three years later by The Color of Pomegranates, even more wondrous. Few films have ever been as scorned and vilified by official powers, and few artists treated as disgracefully (Parajanov was later sentenced to five years of hard labor in Siberia). But a work as great as this one, a cine-poem of the life of the 18th-century Armenian/Georgian poet and singer Sayat-Nova, shines through such desecrations. Michelangelo Antonioni put it simply: “Parajanov’s Color of Pomegranates is of a stunningly perfect beauty." And the film has, at long last, been restored to a form that comes closer than ever to the intentions of its creator, by the Cineteca di Bologna and the World Cinema Project. Restoration funded by The Material World Charitable Foundation and The Film Foundation.

Once Upon a Time in America
Sergio Leone’s final and perhaps greatest film, Once Upon a Time in America is a New York gangster saga housed within an intricate temporal construction that shuttles between eras, plunging the characters and the viewer into an ocean of longing, regret, and rumination over what might have been. Robert De Niro and James Woods star as boyhood friends from the Lower East Side who build a bootlegging empire. Elizabeth McGovern appears as the woman of their dreams (played as a girl by Jennifer Connelly). When this film was originally released in the United States, it was edited down to size and put in chronological order. It was followed by a re-release in a much longer cut that preserved the director’s structure. This version includes 22 minutes of restored footage, never before seen in the United States. The restored footage has been returned to the film three decades after its theatrical release, deepening the characters and enlarging the work of its astonishing cast: Robert De Niro, James Woods, Tuesday Weld, Joe Pesci, Jennifer Connelly, Elizabeth McGovern, Treat Williams, and Louise Fletcher. The latter three are showcased in recovered scenes. Restoration funded by Gucci and The Film Foundation.

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