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The 2021 New York Film Festival will feature Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog as its centerpiece screening, it was announced today.
The title joins the previously announced Tragedy of Macbeth, which is set to open the festival on Sept. 24. The Power of the Dog will screen on Oct. 1.
The film, which is set to be released by Netflix, is adapted from a 1967 cult novel by Thomas Savage about the emotional torment experienced at a Montana cattle ranch in the 1920s. The story follows sad, young widow Rose (Kirsten Dunst) and her sensitive new husband, George (Jesse Plemons) as they deal with the erratic, potentially violent behavior of his sullen, bullying brother Phil (Benedict Cumberbatch). Phil distrusts both Rose and her son (Kodi Smit-McPhee), leading to tragic consequences.
“I am very honored that The Power of the Dog has been selected as the centerpiece gala at this year’s New York Film Festival,” Campion said in a statement. “Public screenings we long took for granted feel exceptional now, so it is going to be a very emotional and joyous experience for me and my team to be there and present the film to such a film-celebrating audience.”
NYFF director of programming Dennis Lim added: “We couldn’t be happier to welcome Jane Campion back to the festival with one of her very best films. Everything about The Power of the Dog is alive with surprise: its narrative turns, its rich characterizations, its complex ideas about masculinity and repression. It will introduce many to the work of the underappreciated novelist Thomas Savage, but it also reminds us of what cinema can do as a medium for accessing and expressing inner life.”
Four of Campion’s previous films — Sweetie (1989), An Angel at My Table (1990), The Piano (1993) and Holy Smoke (1999) — were selections at the NYFF. Campion is one of only two female directors to win Cannes’ prestigious Palme d’Or, taking the prize for The Piano, which also earned her a best director Oscar nomination.
The annual fall festival, presented by Film at Lincoln Center, will this year feature a combination of in-person, outdoor and virtual screenings, with health and safety policies in coordination with state and city medical experts as New York City emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.
It seems as though both the opening night and centerpiece screenings will be similar to the NYFF’s pre-pandemic galas, with both set to take place at the festival’s longtime home of Alice Tully Hall. Last year’s festival featured a mix of virtual screenings and drive-in events at various locations throughout New York City.
The 59th annual New York Film Festival is set to run from Sept. 24 to Oct. 10.
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