Ang Lee's 'Life of Pi' to Open New York Film Festival

Life of Pi - H 2012

Life of Pi - H 2012

The high-profile honor will help launch the fantasy film, the first 3D movie to play at the fest's opening night gala, into awards season contention.

Ang Lee's Life of Pi, the tale of a young man who survives a disaster at sea, has been selected to open the New York Film Festival on Sept.  28. It's the first 3D movie ever to hold down that coveted slot.

Lee joins a select circle of filmmakers that includes Robert Altman, Pedro Almodovar and Francois Truffaut, who are the only other directors to have had more than one film chosen to open the NYFF. Lee's The Ice Storm was the opening night film in 1997. His last film to play the festival was Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which served as the closing night film in 2000.

STORY: Ang Lee Presents 'Life of Pi' Footage at Fox International Presentation

Pi, which 20th Century Fox will release Nov. 21, is based on the fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel, adapted for the screen by David Magee, and stars Suraj Sharma as the title character. The high-profile NYFF berth should help launch the film into awards season contention.

Life of Pi is a perfect combination of technological innovation and a strong artistic vision. Ang Lee has managed to make a deeply moving, engrossing work that will delight audiences as much as it will astonish them. We're enormously proud to have this film for our opening night for the 50th NYFF," Richard Peña, selection committee chair and program director, The Film Society of Lincoln Center, said.

STORY: Robert Zemeckis' 'Flight' Closing New York Film Festival

Added Rose Kuo, the Film Society's executive director, “Ang Lee has shown us his mastery of intimate psychological drama as well as epic action-adventure and we are thrilled to welcome him back to the New York Film Festival with an exciting film that displays of all his talent.”

The festival, which runs from Sept. 28 to Oct. 14, previously announced that Robert Zemeckis' Flight will screen as its closing night film.