As an actor who is all too familiar with the stereotypical “matinée crowd,” I admit I was skeptical of attending a 3:00 screening of Amour at the 50th New York Film Festival; however, my doubts soon proved to be needless. Located at various Lincoln Center theatres, the New York Film Festival is both filled with the young, hip intellectuals of downtown and situated in one of the quieter and calmer shopping districts in Manhattan. The crowd waiting in line to see Amour was dominated by graduate students but by no means limited to them demonstrating the global appeal of the Film Festival.As I hadn’t purchased tickets in advance, I arrived at the Stand-By line an hour before the film started, a practice I would recommend to anyone thinking of seeing any of the films at the Festival. For the most part, tickets are all sold out, but if you get a good spot in the Stand-By line, you have pretty good chances of getting to the box office. There are also usually a few people trying to sell their tickets outside the theatre. At any rate, the films are definitely worth the wait.
Even with a “partial view” (the left side of the screen was partly obscured by the balcony overhead), I fully enjoyed Amour. Raising many questions about love, devotion, and the timeliness of death in modern society, Amour lived up to its Cannes Palme d’Or. While certainly not thematically representative of all the films showing, Amour was certainly representative of the quality of the repertoire of the Festival. The best of this year’s “unrecognized” (that is to say, not mainstream) films, both foreign and modern appear on the scheduled screenings. What makes these screenings even more special is that they often include talkbacks with the directors.
After the film, I attended the talkback. It most certainly was a unique experience to hear the recipient of the Palme d’Or describe the production and writing of his film, which was clearly intended for a specific crowd. The questions the mediator asked the director were of general interest while the questions the audience asked were related to the technical aspects of the film production. The talkback lasted only fifteen minutes, and therefore the balance struck between the two types of questions was perfect for anyone even slightly interested in the nature of the making of the film itself, whether technical or philosophical.
Overall, the New York Film Festival was an enjoyable way to spend one’s afternoon; just be aware that you will be spending your full afternoon there. The festival ends on October 14, 2012 so be sure to check out the schedule. (Tickets: $24 non-members, $20 members)