Ang Lee's 3D 'Life of Pi' opens NY film festival

Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:21pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Once considered impossible to make, the big-screen 3D adaptation of the bestselling novel "Life of Pi" opened the 50th New York Film Festival on Friday, marking another advance in digital filmmaking.

The movie's director, Ang Lee, hit the red carpet at the big-budget movie's world premiere, with the black-tie audience getting the first glimpse of the spiritual story of a boy stranded on a boat with a tiger. It kicked off the screenings of more than 160 films over 17 days at the New York festival.

One of the world's most respected movie showcases, the festival typically emphasizes the art of cinema by focusing on the best films from the year's European festivals rather than Hollywood-style premieres. But the event is still seen as an important step in gathering buzz as Hollywood's awards season gets going.

More splashy world premieres than usual are on this year's schedule, including "Sopranos" maker David Chase's film feature debut, "Not Fade Away" and Robert Zemeckis' first live-action film "Flight," starring Denzel Washington, which will close the festival.

"Life of Pi" uses computer-generated imagery to bring a cinematic feel to the tale of a Hindu boy who survives a shipwreck and gets stranded on a lifeboat for 227 days with a spotted hyena, an injured zebra, an orangutan and a Bengal tiger called Richard Parker.

It is director Lee's riskiest film to date, even after 2005's "Brokeback Mountain," for which he won the best director Oscar. That film generated controversy for breaking barriers about gay portrayals on screen.

The 57-year-old Taiwanese born-director told the premiere on Friday night the film took four years to make and he joked about learning the hard way the difficulties of making a film in 3D predominantly set in the middle of the ocean portraying a host of zoo animals.

"'Life of Pi' was such an incredible story I just couldn't help myself, I had to tell this story," he said to audience applause. "This was an incredible journey for me."   Continued...

Former head of 20th Century Fox Tom Rothman (L) and Director Lee Ang attend the opening night gala presentation of film "Life Of Pi" at the 50th New York Film Festival at Alice Tully Hall in New York September 28, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly