53rd New York Film Festival Closes Over the Weekend

Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet talk about "Steve Jobs" at the New York Film Festival 2015 | Melanie Votaw Photo
Michael Fassbender and Kate Winslet talk about “Steve Jobs” at the New York Film Festival 2015 | Melanie Votaw Photo

The 53rd annual New York Film Festival closed yesterday, Oct. 11, 2015, after screening an eclectic roster of world premiere films from big movies with name stars to documentaries to indie foreign films.

The opening night film, “The Walk,” is about the French tightrope walker’s death-defying walk between the World Trade Center towers in the 70’s. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and was directed by Robert Zemeckis. See my coverage of the press conference with the actors and director.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt at the New York Film Festival press conference for "The Walk" | Melanie Votaw Photo
Joseph Gordon-Levitt at the New York Film Festival press conference for “The Walk” | Melanie Votaw Photo

On Oct. 6, Kate Winslet was honored for her body of work. The actress stars in “Steve Jobs,” which was the Festival’s centerpiece film with Michael Fassbender in the lead role. See my coverage of this press conference with Fassbender, Winslet, Seth Rogen, writer Aaron Sorkin, director Danny Boyle, and other cast members.

I saw the closing night film, “Miles Ahead,” Saturday morning and reported on that press conference as well with lead actor/director/co-screenwriter Don Cheadle and other cast members.

Other films that got a lot of buzz were Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies” starring Tom Hanks, Todd Haynes’ “Carol” starring Cate Blanchett, and Rebecca Miller’s “Maggie’s Plan” starring Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, and Julianne Moore. People were also talking about “The Lobster” starring Rachel Weisz, “The Measure of a Man” starring Vincent Lindon (who won the Best Actor Prize at the Cannes Film Festival), “Mia Madre” starring Jon Turturro, “Experimenter” starring Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder, John Crowley’s “Brooklyn,” and Michael Moore’s latest documentary, “Where to Invade Next.”

The Festival also paid tribute to the celebrated documentarian, Albert Maysles. Speaking of documentaries, I reviewed “The Witness,” a documentary that has really stayed with me. William Genovese, the brother of the late Kitty Genovese, who was murdered in Queens in 1964 and prompted a “study” of how people fail to come to the aid of those in trouble, decides to investigate the circumstances surrounding his sister’s death. In the process, he discovers a number of disturbing things. This story is stranger than fiction and immensely moving.

William Genovese in "The Witness"
William Genovese in “The Witness”

Another documentary I saw was “Everything is Copy,” a film about author/screenwriter/director Nora Ephron. It’s a loving tribute made by her son.

The documentary I most hated missing was “Homeland” by Iraqi filmmaker Abbas Fahdel. The synopsis says, “Fahdel traveled home from France in 2002 to capture everyday life as a nation anticipated inevitable war. He returned a year later, two weeks after the U.S. invasion, to see how his family and friends fared. By documenting their day-to-day activities pre- and post-invasion, Fahdel has created an epic yet intimate film and a compelling portrait of lives caught in the crossfire of war.” I can’t wait to see it.

In addition to the big movies and foreign films, the Festival screened shorts and revivals, such as “Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?” with a reunion that included an appearance by George Clooney.

Don Cheadle talks about "Miles Ahead" at the 2015 New York Film Festival | Melanie Votaw Photo
Don Cheadle talks about “Miles Ahead” at the 2015 New York Film Festival | Melanie Votaw Photo

Many of the stars and directors were on hand during the Festival for press conferences and Q&A’s for the public, which is one of the cornerstones of the New York Film Festival and what makes it so exciting. Live director dialogues included Jia Zhangke, Michael Moore, and Todd Haynes.

As always, film festivals are a whirlwind, and you never have time to see even close to as many films as you’d like. NYFF is definitely my favorite festival in New York every year. It’s star-studded but also with smaller films that deserve attention. Below is this year’s Festival’s trailer.


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