N.Y. Film Fest a first-look deal

'Changeling,' 'Che' among awards hopefuls that will make U.S. debuts

The North American premieres of Clint Eastwood's "Changeling," Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler" and a host of Festival de Cannes titles from Steven Soderbergh and other auteurs highlight the lineup of the 46th New York Film Festival.

The Centerpiece spot for "Changeling," from Universal/Imagine, bolsters the Angelina Jolie-toplined Cannes entry as a prime Oscar contender, as does the closing-night slot for "Wrestler," with both prestige positions closely watched in the awards race.

Seventeen of the fest's 28 titles appeared at Cannes in May, including Soderbergh's four-hour-plus Spanish-language biopic "Che," and 20 are foreign- language features.

The fest runs Sept. 26-Oct. 12.

IFC Films has the most titles on the NYFF slate with four: the Cannes Camera d'Or and FIPRESCI Critics Prize-winning "Hunger," the Grand Prix winner "Gomorra," "A Christmas Tale" and "Summer Hours." Sony Pictures Classics has three: the NYFF opening-night film and Palme d'Or winner "The Class," Wong Kar Wai's "Ashes of Time Redux" and Ari Folman's "Waltz With Bashir."

Both distributors likely will be on the hunt for more acquisitions following each company's record number of Cannes buys, fueled by the large IFC In Theaters and new IFC direct-to-VOD Festival Direct slates and SPC's 16-22 annual release slots to fill.

"Class," "Changeling" and "Wrestler" will screen at the Ziegfeld Theatre throughout the festival. Most screenings at the Film Society of Lincoln Center event will be held at the Walter Reade Theater. (partialdiff)