5 Must-See Films at the 56th New York Film Festival

5 Must-See Films at the 56th New York Film Festival

The 56th annual New York Film Festival kicks off tonight at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall with “The Favourite,” directed by Yorogs Lanthimos and starring Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone and Olivia Colman. Running through Oct. 14, this year’s festival features a diverse offering of films (including an 807-minute long spectacle, “La Flor,” directed by Mariano Llinás), and a recently announced free daily talk series, which is sure to supplement your film-going experience (or your wait for standby tickets).

Here are some of the films that we’re excited to see.

Long Day’s Journey Into Night
Directed by Bi Gan
Chinese director Bi Gan, who captivated audiences with his debut film, “Kaili Blues,” makes his first NYFF appearance with a dreamy two-part film that follows the journey of a man trying to come to terms with a past that haunts him. Although the intro assures audiences that this is “not a 3D film,” the second half of “Long Days” does utilize the format, which, while not necessarily vital to the work, adds texture and a sense of the surreal to the already mesmerizing production.

Monrovia, Indiana
Directed by Frederick Wiseman
While the plot of Frederick Wiseman’s “Monrovia, Indiana” is quiet — largely revolving around the small aspects of daily life — the sound design, which sweeps the audience into the loud breathing of cows, the rustle of farm crops, the buzz of a tattoo needle, is also something to pay attention to. Beyond Wiseman’s mastery of image, the documentary comes closest to the true feeling of the “Crossroads of America” state in his slow-building montage of local industry (including riveting city council meetings and a subtle through-line of meat processing).

3 Faces
Directed by Jafar Panahi
Iranian director Jafar Panahi was last at NYFF in 2011 for his extraordinary documentary hybrid “This Is Not A Film,” his first film after being banned from filmmaking in Iran. This year the festival will present his fourth film since the ban, a narrative in which Panahi, playing himself, investigates the mystery surrounding a woman who appears to take her own life and documents the act on a smartphone camera.

Ash Is Purest White
Directed by Jia Zhangke
Billed as a “melodrama,” Jia Zhangke’s return to the NYFF mixes mob-life with tragedy to offer a blunt critique of capitalism in modern-day China. The film from the prolific Chinese auteur begins in 2001 postindustrial Datong during a turf war before branching out to the narrative lives of the individual characters affected.

Dream of a City
Directed by Manfred Kirchheimer
Shot on 16mm between 1958 and 1960 with his friend Walter Hess, Manfred Kirchheimer’s film is populated with images of New York City construction sites, street life and harbor traffic. The work is set to the music of Shostakovich and Debussy, and exists as a portrait (or dream) of a city long gone.

Top Image: Bi Gan's "Long Day's Journey Into Night." Courtesy of Bai Linghai. Kino Lorber.