9 World Premieres at New York Film Festival

Cielo
Description: The first feature from Alison McAlpine, director of the beautiful 2008 “nonfiction ghost story” short Second Sight, is a dialogue with the heavens—in this case, the heavens above the Andes and the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, where the sky “is more urgent than the land.” McAlpine keeps the vast galaxies above and beyond in a delicate balance with the earthbound world of people, gently alighting on the desert- and mountain-dwelling astronomers, fishermen, miners, and cowboys who live their lives with reverence and awe for the skies. Cielo itself is an act of reverence and awe, and its sense of wonder ranges from the intimate and human to the vast and inhuman.
Directed By: Alison McAlpine
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Spotlight on Documentary
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Hall of Mirrors
Description: In this lively documentary portrait, the great nonpartisan investigative reporter Edward Jay Epstein, still going strong at 81, takes us through his most notable articles and books, including close looks at the findings of the Warren Commission, the structure of the diamond industry, the strange career of Armand Hammer, and the inner workings of big-time journalism itself. These are interwoven with an in-progress investigation into the circumstances around Edward Snowden’s 2013 leak of classified documents, resulting in Epstein’s recently published, controversial book How America Lost Its Secrets: Edward Snowden, the Man and the Theft. One of the last of his generation of journalists, the energetic, articulate, and boyish Epstein is a truly fascinating character.
Directed By: Ena Talakic,Ines Talakic
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Spotlight on Documentary
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Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold
Description: Griffin Dunne’s years-in-the-making documentary portrait of his aunt Joan Didion moves with the spirit of her uncannily lucid writing: the film simultaneously expands and zeroes in, covering a vast stretch of turbulent cultural history with elegance and candor, and grounded in the illuminating presence and words of Didion herself. This is most certainly a film about loss—the loss of a solid American center, the personal losses of a husband and a child—but Didion describes everything she sees and experiences so attentively, so fully, and so bravely that she transforms the very worst of life into occasions for understanding. A Netflix release.
Directed By: Griffin Dunne
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Spotlight on Documentary
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Last Flag Flying
Description: In Richard Linklater’s lyrical road movie, as funny as it is heartbreaking, three aging Vietnam-era Navy vets—soft-spoken Doc (Steve Carell), unhinged and unfiltered Sal (Bryan Cranston), and quietly measured Mueller (Laurence Fishburne)—reunite to perform a sacred task: the proper burial of Doc’s only child, who has been killed in the early days of the Iraq invasion. As this trio of old friends makes its way up the Eastern seaboard, Linklater gives us a rich rendering of friendship, a grand mosaic of common life in the USA during the Bush era, and a striking meditation on the passage of time and the nature of truth. To put it simply, Last Flag Flying is a great movie from one of America’s finest filmmakers. An Amazon Studios release.
Directed By: Richard Linklater
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Opening Night
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No Stone Unturned
Description: Investigative documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney—best known for 2008’s Oscar-winning Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and at least a dozen others—turns his sights on the 1994 Loughinisland massacre, a cold case that remains an open wound in the Irish peace process. The families of the victims—who were murdered while watching the World Cup in their local pub—were promised justice, but 20 years later they still didn’t know who killed their loved ones. Gibney uncovers a web of secrecy, lies, and corruption that so often results when the powerful insist they are acting for the greater good.
Directed By: Alex Gibney
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Spotlight on Documentary
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The Opera House
Description: Renowned documentarian Susan Froemke takes viewers through the history of the Metropolitan Opera via priceless archival stills, footage, and interviews (with, among many others, the great soprano Leontyne Price). The film follows the development of the glorious institution from its beginnings at the old opera house on 39th Street to the storied reign of Rudolph Bing to the long-gestating move to Lincoln Center, the construction of which traces a fascinating byway through the era of urban renewal and Robert Moses’s transformation of New York. Most of all, though, this is a film about the love for and devotion to the preservation of an art form and the upkeep of a home where it can live and thrive.
Directed By: Susan Froemke
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Special Events
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Trouble No More
Description: Like every other episode in the life of Bob Dylan, the “born again” period that supposedly began with the release of Slow Train Coming (1979) and supposedly ended with Shot of Love (1981) has been endlessly scrutinized in the press. Less attention has been paid to the magnificent music he made. This very special film consists of truly electrifying video footage, much of it thought to have been lost for years and all newly restored, shot at shows in Toronto and Buffalo on the last leg of the ’79-’80 tour (with an amazing band: Muscle Shoals veteran Spooner Oldham and Terry Young on keyboards, Little Feat’s Fred Tackett on guitar, Tim Drummond on bass, the legendary Jim Keltner on drums and Clydie King, Gwen Evans, Mona Lisa Young, Regina McCrary and Mary Elizabeth Bridges on vocals) interspersed with sermons written by Luc Sante and beautifully delivered by Michael Shannon. More than just a record of some concerts, Trouble No More is a total experience.
Directed By: Jennifer Lebeau
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Special Events
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Voyeur
Description: Gerald Foos bought a motel in Colorado in the 1960s, furnished the room with louvered vents that allowed him to spy on his guests, and kept a journal of their sexual encounters…among other things. As writer Gay Talese, who had known Foos for more than three decades, came close to the publication of his book The Voyeur’s Motel (preceded by an excerpt in The New Yorker), factual discrepancies in Foos’s account emerged, and documentarians Kane and Koury were on hand to record some wild encounters between the veteran New York journalist and his enigmatic subject. A Netflix release.
Directed By: Myles Kane,Josh Koury
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Spotlight on Documentary
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Wonder Wheel
Description: In a career spanning 50 years and almost as many features, Woody Allen has periodically refined, reinvented, and redefined the terms of his art, and that’s exactly what he does with his daring new film. We’re in Coney Island in the 1950s. A lifeguard (Justin Timberlake) tells us a story that just might be filtered through his vivid imagination: a middle-aged carousel operator (Jim Belushi) and his beleaguered wife (Kate Winslet), who eke out a living on the boardwalk, are visited by his estranged daughter (Juno Temple)—a situation from which layer upon layer of all-too-human complications develop. Allen and his cinematographer, the great Vittorio Storaro, working with a remarkable cast led by Winslet in a startlingly brave, powerhouse performance, have created a bracing and truly surprising movie experience. An Amazon Studios release.
Directed By: Woody Allen
Festivals: New York Film Festival (2017)
Section of NYFF: Closing Night
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About Melissa Hanson

Melissa Hanson aka Dial M For Melissa –
Managing Editor / Podcast Producer –
Growing up, Melissa’s favorite destination was always the video store and would agonize over whether to watch something new or to rewatch a favorite. Things have not changed.
Follow on Twitter @DialMForMelissa

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