Far from Hollywood din, New York Film Festival puts focus on quality

Mon Sep 22, 2014 10:56am EDT
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cannes has its coveted prizes and Sundance its lucrative deals, but the New York Film Festival, unencumbered by awards or marketing, says its mission is simple: to present the year's best in world cinema.

The 52nd annual event, which opens Friday, is for "film lovers of all stripes and levels of knowledge," said its director, Kent Jones. Its 17-day itinerary includes a main slate of 30 feature films and a retrospective of the works of Academy Award-winning director Joseph L. Mankiewicz.

In the past, the festival has been criticized for being snobby and appealing to cinephiles, but more recently the festival has included more commercial, as well as art-house, films.

Jones said the selection process is about finding and presenting the best films.

"I am not striving for any kind of mix because the selection process is more a question of just following our instincts," said Jones, who also chairs the selection committee.

Among the world premieres is "Citizenfour," by documentary by filmmaker Laura Poitras, about Edward Snowden, who leaked classified information from the National Security Agency.

Poitras was making a film about abuses of national security when encrypted emails from Snowden, who identified himself as "citizen four," began to arrive in her inbox.

"One the one hand, you are watching all this stuff play out in real time," Jones said. "And on the other hand, you are seeing this character portrayal together in the process. On another level, it is like watching a spy story happening in real life, playing out in real time."   Continued...