54th New York Film Festival – 2016

From September 30th until October 16th, viewers can purchase tickets to catch a screening at the 54th annual New York Film Festival at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Acting performances by Adam Driver in Paterson, and Kristen Stewart in Personal Shopper, are garnering rave reviews and Oscar buzz. Driver plays a bus driver who writes poetry in his mind while working at his day job, and Stewart interacts with her deceased twin in a thriller about spooky consequences of trying to communicate with the dead. Steward also appears in two other films in the Festival this year, including Certain Women and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. She will appear as a guest in a New York Film Festival traditional event “An Evening With” to have a filmed conversation with Festival director Kent Jones.

Also creating exciting conversation is the documentary Hamilton’s America, which gives an up close view at Broadway’s game-changing phenomenon, Hamilton. The film acts as a sort of time capsule, bringing the viewer back to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first years writing Hamilton, and attempting to pen the now famous musical numbers while working as a performer himself. The film includes footage from the days that preceded anyone anticipating what an explosion Hamilton would eventually bring to the Broadway stage. The documentary includes clips of interviews with George Bush, President Obama, and Elizabeth Warren, all discussing the country’s fascination behind this revival of a time in political history that went ignored for so long. A notable moment from the film’s trailer includes Miranda explaining to the camera how he feels Alexander Hamilton himself came back from history to encourage Miranda to tell the often forgotten story that so intensely impacted the way Americans live today.

Making New York Film Festival history is Ava DuVernay’s documentary, 13TH, which became the first ever non-fiction film to launch at the New York Film Festival. Considered an unusual choice for an opener due to its non-fiction genre, the New York Film Festival made a distinct choice in choosing this film to bring into significant limelight, as contenders for this slot have often gone on to win Best Picture at the Oscars, among other awards. Due to this Netflix documentary’s honesty and depth in describing police shootings, the Black Lives Matter movement, and historical account regarding racism in America, the film is receiving extraordinary feedback. It is considered an educational tool that will be utilized now as a window into understanding how the judicial system has become so heavily criticized, and the out of proportionate statistics of black and Latino men in jail today. As a Festival opener, it is shockingly different from what has been used in the past (Gone Girl and Life of Pi) and is very representative of politics and life in 2016, including clips of presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Watching movies in 2016 may happen more on small screens than ever before in history, but the films featured in the New York Film Festival are still considered a representation of the year’s top actors, directors, and future Oscar nominees.

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Elizabeth Pollack

Elizabeth has a degree in Screenwriting and Playwriting from Drexel University. She loves following all forms of the news, and particularly appreciates a well-written article about celebrity feuds. She blogs with her best friend at lizandalexstruggle.wordpress.com.