NEW YORK: Change isn’t undertaken haphazardly in the halls of Lincoln Center. This year is the first time the New York Film Festival is being led by someone not named Richard. The 51st New York Film Festival, which opened Friday with the premiere of Paul Greengrass’ Somali pirate docudrama “Captain Phillips,” marks the start of new program director Kent Jones’ stewardship.
Jones, a critic and sometimes filmmaker, is only the third program director of the festival, following Richard Roud and Richard Pena, who stepped down last year after 25 years with the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
As the most prestigious film festival in the country, the NYFF has always been a fixture: a highly curated selection of the best films from around the world. It’s an annual appraisal of cinema and where it’s going.
At a time of upheaval for the movies – when everything from how they’re made to how they find audiences is being re-examined for a digital world – this year finds the New York Film Festival in transition.
“Moving images have proliferated so much and they’re so many now who make them who have a pretty spotty consciousness of the history of cinema,” Jones said in an interview, “that it’s something that’s becoming increasingly fragile.”
This year’s festival is filled with a sense of expansion. Ranging from the Coen brothers’ folk revival “Inside Llewyn Davis” to Alexander Payne’s black-and-white Midwest road trip “Nebraska” to Abdellatif Kechiche’s Cannes Palm d’Or winner “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” the 36 selections are the most ever in the main slate.
This year’s festival is rife with films that, to Jones, wrestle with what a movie is. There are Jia Zhangke’s overlapping plotlines in “A Touch of Sin” and J.C. Chandor’s near-wordless “All Is Lost,” starring Robert Redford. The Convergence section incorporates transmedia entries that apply filmmaking in new storytelling ways.
For more information please see www.filmlinc.com/nyff2013.