WSN’s guide to the 60th New York Film Festival

In anticipation of this year’s New York Film Festival, WSN put together a list of must-see movies being premiered that you will want to secure tickets for before they sell out.

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“White Noise” is about a family whose lives are disrupted when a chemical leak causes an environmental disaster in their hometown. (Photo by Wilson Webb, Courtesy of Netflix © 2022)

Stephanie Wong, Film & TV Editor

This year’s New York Film Festival, running from Sept. 30 to Oct. 16, will be celebrating its 60th anniversary. One of the longest-running film festivals in the United States, the NYFF has been a cultural cornerstone of the New York film scene since 1963. 

NYFF has recently announced the promotion of two longtime executive members in its selection committee. Eugene Hernandez has been promoted to senior vice president at Film at Lincoln Center, as well as executive director of the NYFF, while Dennis Lim has taken on the role of artistic director of the festival — a position that has not been held by anyone since the festival’s inception. As the artistic director, Lim will be overseeing the curation and programming of NYFF.

After looking through this year’s program in each of the festival’s four categories — Main Slate, Spotlight, Currents and Revivals — WSN has compiled the following list of films that are worth checking out. Tickets are available for purchase on the NYFF website.

Main Slate

“White Noise” directed by Noah Baumbach

Set to open the NYFF is Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel “White Noise.” Starring big names such as Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, the dark comedy-horror film follows Jack Gladney (Adam Driver) — a professor of the fictional Hitler Studies, and husband to the secretive Babette (Greta Gerwig). Together, they share four children. The film concerns the aftermath of a disaster involving a chemical spill from a rail car which uproots Jack’s life and forces him to confront his fear of mortality. Met with heavy praise from Lincoln Center’s own Lim, who deemed the movie an “unequivocal triumph,” the film will also be available for viewing on Netflix by Dec. 30.

“Aftersun” directed by Charlotte Wells

“Aftersun” is writer and director Charlotte Wells’ feature film debut. Since its premiere during the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, where it won a jury prize, the film has garnered widespread praise from critics, leaving many to consider Wells as one of the most promising emerging voices in British cinema. Starring Paul Mescal and Francesca Corio as a father-daughter duo, “Aftersun” is Wells’ emotionally-autobiographical and poignant exploration of the intimate space between a parent and their child.

“Triangle of Sadness” directed by Ruben Östlund

Winner of this year’s Palme d’Or, “Triangle of Sadness” is Swedish director Ruben Östlund’s first English-language film. The three-part film follows two attractive models, Carl and Yaya, and starts off by depicting a satirical romance between the two before spiraling into absurd and dark, humorous territory on a luxury cruise. Woody Harrelson also makes an appearance as a filthy rich Marxist sea captain in this biting satire about social and economic class differences.

Spotlight

“Bones and All” directed by Luca Guadagnino

A unique coming-of-age film, “Bones and All” sees Luca Guadagnino combine the genres of romance and horror. Cannibalistic lovers Maren (Taylor Russell) and Lee (Timothee Chalamet) grapple with their insatiable desires as they journey together through America in the ’80s.

“She Said” directed by Maria Schrader

A film dedicated to one of the most pivotal social movements of the 21st century, “She Said” is a biographical drama about the 2017 Harvey Weinstein exposé, regarding his troubling history of sexual abuse and harrassment. “She Said” stars Zoe Kazan and Carey Mulligan as two devoted reporters who investigate the broken systems that make up Hollywood and its culture, stoking the flames that eventually culminate in the #MeToo movement.

“Till” directed by Chinonye Chukwu

Nigerian American film director Chinonye Chukwu unflinchingly tells the story of Mamie Till-Mobley, who, in the ‘50s, sought to pursue justice after her 14-year-old son, Emmett Till, was lynched and became a tragic symbol embodying the horrors of American racism. A story as heartbreaking as it is essential and highly relevant to today’s sociopolitical climate, “Till” captures a mother’s inspiring journey to becoming a defining figure in the civil rights movement.

Currents

“The Adventures of Gigi the Law” directed by Alessandro Comodin

Alessandro Comodin’s “The Adventures of Gigi the Law” paints a portrait of its titular character, Gigi, and the small Italian village where he works as a policeman. Gigi’s cheeky double entendres and erotic jokes, juxtaposed with the film’s darker storyline wherein he uncovers a morbid secret in his seemingly uneventful village, create a film that carefully treads the line between amusing and unsettling.

“Coma” directed by Bertrand Bonello

A story that may be uncomfortably familiar and self-referential to many, “Coma” is a French film written and directed by Bertrand Bonello about the estrangement and isolation of a teenage girl during the COVID-19 lockdown. Inspired by Bonello’s own 18-year-old daughter, “Coma” is one father’s distressing examination of his fears concerning the burgeoning youth’s struggle with navigating pandemic-era existential labyrinths.

“Adaptation” directed by Josh Kline

Josh Kline’s sci-fi action short film “Adaptation” takes place in near-future apocalyptic New York City. Kline uses largely analog special effects such as scale-models and matte photographs to build up his envisioned version of the city in ruins. “Adaptation,” shot on film, follows the life and work of the city’s relief workers as they adapt to their newly-transformed home

“Lesser Choices” directed by Courtney Stephens

“Lesser Choices” is an intimate retelling of director Courtney Stephens’ own mother’s testimonial about an illegal abortion in Mexico City in the ‘60s. Enhanced by the home-movie aesthetics of Super 8 footage, “Lesser Choices” serves as an urgent warning to the present and could not be released at a more pivotal time.

Revivals

“The Mother and the Whore” directed by Jean Eustache

Considered by many critics to be one of the best films in French history, “The Mother and the Whore” (La maman et la putain) will be, at long last, presented in a striking new 4K restoration. Abundant with references and allusions to French New Wave cinema, Jean Eustache’s restored masterpiece will have its North American premiere at NYFF 50 years after its initial, scandalous premiere at Cannes.

Contact Stephanie Wong at [email protected]