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New York Film
Festival to present Breakfast on Pluto and Capote

New York Film
Festival to present Breakfast on Pluto and Capote

History as it is reflected onscreen will be one of the themes that is front and center as the 43rd New York Film Festival kicks off September 23 with George Clooney's Good Night, and Good Luck, an account of CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow's confrontation with Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Reflecting on Wednesday's announced festival lineup, selection committee chairman and program director Richard Pena said, "The films are never selected with themes in mind. But if you look at this year's selections, starting with opening night, there is a notion of how history is treated, re-created, and expressed on-screen and in art." Films that touch on that subject include Hou Hsai-hsien's Three Times, a Taiwanese film set in three time periods, 1911, 1966, and 2005; Israeli documentarian Avi Mograbi's Avenge but One of My Two Eyes, which records the treatment of Palestianians by members of the Israeli army; Bennett Miller's Capote, which follows Truman Capote (Philip Seymour Hoffman) as he researches his seminal nonfiction book In Cold Blood; and Lars von Trier's Manderlay, which looks at the legacy of slavery in the American South of the 1930s.

Neil Jordan's Breakfast on Pluto, the story of an Irish transvestite cabaret singer in '70s London that stars Cillian Murphy, will be featured prominently as the festival's Centerpiece film. And Michael Haneke's Cache, a thriller that earned Haneke the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival, has been chosen as the closing-night film October 9. Steven Soderbergh will be represented by two films at the fest. He's an executive producer of Good Night, which was produced by, among others, his Section 8 banner, which he heads with Clooney. And he directed Bubble, an Ohio-set murder mystery, produced under his new pact with Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban's 2929 Prods., which calls for Soderbergh to direct six high-definition films to debut day-and-date in theaters and on TV and home video.

While this year's lineup doesn't rely upon the grand old masters of cinema, it includes plenty of contemporary auteurs. The fraternal Belgian directing team of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne will bring their L'Enfant, which took home the Palme d'Or at Cannes this year. Gay French director Patrice Chereau will offer his latest film, Gabrielle, starring Isabelle Huppert. And Korean Park Chan-wook will be represented by Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, the third film in his vengeance trilogy that includes 2003's Old Boy. Several filmmakers are making return trips to the New York showcase. Hou Hsiao-hsien has had more than a half-dozen films in the festival. This year marks the fourth film shown at Cannes for both Von Trier and Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov, the latter of whom will be showing The Sun. French director Phillippe Garrel, whose Regular Lovers won a spot, was last represented at the festival in 1969.

Geographically, Pena said, this year's selections reflect the growing importance of South Korean cinema, "which has clearly in the last decade emerged as a major filmmaking culture. And all three are so different and so well-achieved." In addition to Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, they include Im Sang-soo's The President's Last Band and Hong Sang-soo's A Tale of Cinema. The lineup also reflects what Pena called "the reemergence of Eastern European cinema." Titles from that region include Cristi Puiu's The Death of Mr. Lazarescu from Romania, Dorota Kedzierzawska's I Am from Poland, and Bohdan Slama's Something Like Happiness from the Czech Republic.

Other films on the schedule include Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale, an account of a family dealing with divorce; Michael Winterbottom's A Cock and Bull Story, an adaptation of Laurence Sterne's novel Tristram Shandy; Michel Negroponte's Methadonia; Hany Abu-Assad's Paradise Now; Jean-Paul Civeyrac's Through the Forest; and Mitsuo Yanagimachi's Who's Camus Anyway? Panel discussions will include "Speaking Truth to Power: Media, Politics, and Government," with Brian Lehrer, Helen Thomas, and Don Hewitt, who is portrayed in Good Night; HBO Films' Directors' Dialogues with Neil Jordan and other directors at the festival; and a Film Comment Focus on actor Steve Coogan. (Gregg Kilday, via Reuters)

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