Saturday, March 6, 2021

NYFF56 Breaks Tradition with ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ (EUR Exclusive!)

Nikki Layne and Stephan James
Nikki Layne and Stephan James in a scene from ‘If Beale Street Could Talk.’

*Writer/Director Barry Jenkins (“Moonlight”) will premiere his adaptation of James Baldwin‘s Harlem love story “If Beale Street Could Talk” in the neighborhood Baldwin grew up in and set this story, Harlem, NYC. Partnering with the New York Film Festival (NYFF), the film will premiere at the world-famous Apollo Theatre on Tuesday, October 9th with a red carpet premiere.

This is the first time in the 56 years of the Film Society of Lincoln Center presenting the NY Film Festival that there will be a main-slate screening outside the confines of the Lincoln Center campus and certainly at the Apollo Theatre on 125th Street. In addition to the cast and crew from the film, Harlem community members and high school students will be invited to catch a sneak peek of the film.

September 28th is the kickoff date for the festival and it runs through October 14th. There are 30 films in the Main Slate alone. The NYFF56 Opening Night film is Yorgos Lanthimos’s “The Favourite.” Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” is the Centerpiece, and Julian Schnabel’s “At Eternity’s Gate” will close the festival.

NYFF Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones said, “…If I were pressed to choose one word to describe the films in this year’s Main Slate, it would be: bravery. This year’s Main Slate showcases films from 22 different countries, including new titles from celebrated auteurs, and extraordinary work from directors making their first NYFF bow.”

A Black Panther in a scene from ‘What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire?

In the Spotlight on Documentary, “Fire Music” directed by Tom Surgal, looks at the diverse music known as free jazz, which ”more or less” began with Ornette Coleman.   Surgal pays attention to the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Albert Ayler, Eric Dolphy, Sam Rivers, Sun Ra and His Arkestra, and the recently deceased Cecil Taylor. (Sept 29&Oct 1)

Also premiering in Spotlight on Documentary is “What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire,” director Roberto Minervini’s follow-up to his Texas Trilogy, a portrait of African Americans in New Orleans struggling to maintain their unique cultural identity   and to find social justice. The film also focuses on local traditions of Mardi Gras and the local Black Panthers, trying to stand up against a new, deadly wave of racism. (Sept 30&Oct 2)

Among the Revivals is “Hyenas,” directed by the great Senegalese filmmaker Djibril Diop Mambety. On the plight of African cinema, Mambety says, “My task was to identify the enemy of humankind; money, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.” For more info and tickets, go to:       Twitter: @thefilmstrip

Marie Moore
Veteran syndicated journalist who covers film and television.



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