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NEW YORK — Most of Gotham’s cinephiles are immersed in the ongoing 51st New York Film Festival, but some took off Tuesday night to attend the New York premiere of a film that is not playing at the fest, but might have greater Oscar potential than any that are: Alfonso Cuaron‘s Gravity, a 3D dramatic-thriller set in space that stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. The film, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival last month before subsequently playing in Telluride and Toronto, will be released nationwide by Warner Bros. on Friday.
The film unspooled at the Lincoln Square Cinema on the Upper West Side. Bullock and Clooney did not sit through the screening, but those who did include Cuaron, his son and co-screenwriter Jonas Cuaron, the film’s producer David Heyman (best known for producing Harry Potter franchise), Emma Watson (star of Potter), long-ago Pieces of April co-stars Katie Holmes and Patricia Clarkson, Kyle MacLachlan, Richard Kind, Noah Emmerich, Gina Gershon, newsman Dan Rather (who knows Clooney from the Good Night, and Good Luck days), CAA partner Bryan Lourd (Clooney’s agent), and directors Joel Coen and Steven Soderbergh, who were seated together near the back before Cuaron spotted them and insisted that they sit in a location that would offer a more immersive view. (“I don’t make movies anymore, so I’m in the TV seats,” Soderbergh joked.)
Afterwards, on a beautiful New York night, many of the same folks headed to Powerhouse, a venue at the American Museum of Natural History that was once the museum’s power plant, for a space-themed party at which Clooney mingled with many guests.
The fun continued on Wednesday, when Bullock, Clooney, Heyman and the Cuarons attended a Peggy Siegal-coordinated, Warner Bros.-hosted tastemaker luncheon at New York’s historic Explorer’s Club. Among those who were present for a cocktail hour of mingling with the guests of honor and then a seated luncheon were F. Murray Abraham (now starring in Inside Llewyn Davis), Dan Abrams, Candice Bergen, Naomi Foner, Kyle MacLachlan, Dana Ivey, Piers Morgan, Wendi Murdoch, Mira Nair, Dr. Mehmet Oz, Oliver Platt, Deborah Roberts, and Elizabeth Vargas. Heyman briefly addressed the gathering, thanking everyone for coming, and complimenting Cuaron for making a movie with technology that did not exist prior to it and Bullock and Clooney for their willingness to give such committed performances under the most unusual of circumstances.
My tablemates at the luncheon included Bullock, Bergen and Nair, and it was fascinating to hear Bullock explain the -way in which her performance was captured in order to make it appear that she was moving around in zero-gravity — and it was also funny to learn that the Oscar-winning actress, who had to spend most of the production wearing a space suit and moving around in a small rectangular room as cameras whirled around her, is actually very claustrophobic.
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