'Darjeeling' kicks off N.Y. fest

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NEW YORK -- Wes Anderson's comedy "The Darjeeling Limited" will premiere in the prestigious opening-night slot of the 45th annual New York Film Festival, while Joel and Ethan Coen's drama "No Country for Old Men" joins the fest as its Centerpiece film.

Two other features in the lineup -- Cristian Mungiu's Festival de Cannes Palme d'Or winner "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" and Lee Chang-dong's's "Secret Sunshine" (which won the Cannes best actress award for Jeon Do-yeon) -- also were unveiled Wednesday, due in part to leaks about their inclusion.

"We announced them now to squelch rumors so that the filmmakers can plan accordingly," said Film Society of Lincoln Center chairman and program director Richard Pena. "The information is less valuable if it seeps out early."

Pena and his fellow selection committee members have chosen eight of the approximately 25 films in the Sept. 28-Oct. 14 fest and will unveil the complete lineup by early August.

Anderson's "Darjeeling" follows three brothers (Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman, who co-wrote the film with Anderson and Roman Coppola) who attempt to reconnect with one another on a journey through India. "It represents a big step for Wes," Pena said. "I hate to use the word 'matured,' but the humor and whimsy he uses is sharper, better focused and used more effectively."

Pena noted that the director has a long history with the fest, which premiered his breakthrough comedy "Rushmore." "We're very proud we showed it at a moment it was almost ready to be shelved," he said. "With a little cajoling, the studio allowed us to screen it, and I'd like to think our showing it helped in getting it out there."

Pena also said that Anderson often sees more than half of the NYFF films shown every year. Fox Searchlight will release the film in New York a day after its Sept. 28 debut.

Although it was held back from the media, the NYFF committee screened the Coen brothers' adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's intense crime novel "No Country for Old Men" before its Cannes premiere in May. "It's their best movie in years, certainly my favorite since 'Miller's Crossing,'" Pena said. "I was a little surprised it didn't win (at Cannes)."

The Miramax Films/Paramount Vantage release will screen Oct. 6 and hit theaters in November.

The acclaimed Romanian abortion drama "4 Months" will be given a day-and-date theatrical/VOD domestic release by IFC First Take sometime after its to-be-determined fest slot. The South Korean romance "Sunshine" has no announced U.S. distributor.

Pena said he is especially proud of this year's festival sidebar honoring Brazilian writer-director Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, best known for his 1969 feature "Macunaima." The Film Society also will salute New Line Cinema co-chairmen and co-CEOs Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne on their company's 40th anniversary.

This year's selection committee includes Pena, Film Society associate director Kent Jones and film critics Scott Foundas, J. Hoberman and Lisa Schwarzbaum.
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