As one who has attended the New York Film Festival since its first edition, I find it hard to believe this is the 55th. Time marches on, and it was exhilarating to attend the opening night on Thursday (September 28), including the huge after-party. Actually, there were four screenings of the opening night film, “Last Flag Flying” (See review under Special Reports) to accommodate demand.

Before the screening that I went to, the film’s director, Richard Linklater, addressed the audience after loud applause when he took the stage. “It is an honor to be here for opening night,” he said. “I’ve been coming here for years.” He stressed, “This is really an honor.”

Linklater was introduced by Dennis Lim, the Director of Programming for the Festival. Lim generously thanked the various sponsors of the Festival, who help make it possible.

The annual after-party, again at the renovated Tavern on the Green, was a blast, with pouring of drinks and food served in the different rooms as well as in the popular outdoor space. Fortunately the weather cooperated--it was very comfortable for the outdoor milling about. As always, it was a chance to greet and briefly chat with friends from the industry. It was also fascinating to observe dress, especially as worn by some women who strove to look distinctively fashionable. I don’t know the exact number passing through the party, but it seemed like a couple of thousand.

Of course, the main ingredient is the selection of films. The opening night choice of “Last Flag Flying” was a smart one, as it offered colorful and moving performances that connected emotionally with many. (Typically, I also encountered a few less impressed. What would an opening night choice be without them?) This year’s Festival has been expanded, as in addition to the main slate, there are a total of 99 other feature films, including many intriguing selections in the Special Events section, the Spotlight on Documentaries, the Revivals, the Retrospective section and Projections, which highlights films from around the world by various different directors and also focuses on videos that expand the idea of what film is in our contemporary age. The Festival has also scheduled talks by noted directors, apart from the customary press conferences.

I have already seen some important films previewed in the press and industry screenings, and will be reviewing them individually in Special Reports, as well as posting the reviews in this site’s Films section when they open commercially.

Meanwhile, hats off to the Film Society of Lincoln Center for continuing to make its annual New York Film Festival a special, widely admired event in the world of festivals. Posted October 1, 2017.

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