Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ to premiere at NY festival

Joe Pesci, left, and Robert De Niro in a scene from "The Irishman," which will premiere at opening of of the New York Film Festival, September 27. Niko Tavernise/Netflix via AP

NEW YORK: Martin Scorsese’s big-budget mafia epic “The Irishman” will premiere as the opening night film at the 57th New York Film Festival, Film at Lincoln Center has announced. The selection, with the premiere set for Sept. 27, gives Scorsese a hometown launch for one of his most anticipated films.

“The Irishman” is Scorsese’s $125 million Netflix film about the reflections of a former Jimmy Hoffa associate and hit man. Its genre and cast - including Robert De Niro as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, Al Pacino as Jimmy Hoffa and Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino - have long tantalized fans of the 76-year-old filmmaker.

“It’s in the milieu of the pictures we’ve done together and are known for, in a sense, but I hope from a different vantage point,” Scorsese said earlier this year at a Tribeca Film Festival event.

“Years have gone by and we see things in a special way, I hope.”

New York Film Festival Director Kent Jones, a frequent collaborator with Scorsese, said in a statement that “The Irishman” was “the work of masters, made with a command of the art of cinema that I’ve seen very rarely in my lifetime, and it plays out at a level of subtlety and human intimacy that truly stunned me.”

Netflix is planning a robust awards season push for “The Irishman,” including a not-yet-dated release in select theaters later this year. How widely Netflix will release it remains to be seen.

Major theater chains have thus far refused to play films that don’t adhere to a traditional exclusive theatrical release window of 90 days. Netflix has said holding movies back from its streaming service doesn’t serve its subscribers.

In an interview with the Associated Press in June, Scorsese said Netflix was the only one willing to bankroll the ambitious film, based on Charles Brandt’s “I Heard You Paint Houses.”

“No one else did. No one else did,” Scorsese said.

“We decided to make it with the understanding that it’ll maybe never be shown in theaters. They said, ‘You would have a time in theaters’ - a few weeks or whatever. I said fine. The idea was to make the movie, you see.”

Scorsese has also lamented the major studios’ reliance on blockbusters. “I don’t do those,” he said. “There’s only so much time in your life. I need to make these movies. I just need to. So where do I go?”

The filmmaker said Monday he was grateful for the New York Film Festival selection (his first as the opening night film) and praised the festival as “critical to bringing awareness to cinema from around the world.”

The New York Film Festival runs

Sept. 27 through Oct. 13.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 31, 2019, on page 12.




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