NYFF well stocked with Cannes titles

'Changeling,' 'The Class' among festival entries

NEW YORK -- 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 NYFF 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.

New distributor Oscilloscope Pictures is represented with the Cannes title "Wendy and Lucy," starring Michelle Williams, and Miramax has Mike Leigh's "Happy-Go-Lucky." A restored print of Max Ophuls' final film, "Lola Montes" (Rialto Pictures), will be featured as the festival's spotlight retrospective film.

NYFF selection committee chairman Richard Pena noted this year's large crop of politically charged films and a wider number of countries represented among both the slate (including two from Kazakhstan) and the 2,000-odd submissions. He attributes a recent uptick in submissions to the larger number of digitally filmed features.

"We're finding a lot of the most interesting work tends to make a statement," said Pena, citing a trend in stark contrast to the recent boxoffice downturn for issue-oriented indies.

"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.

A complete NYFF lineup follows:

Opening night
"The Class," Laurent Cantet, France (Sony Pictures Classics)

"Changeling," Clint Eastwood, U.S. (Universal)

Closing night
"The Wrestler," Darren Aronofsky, U.S.
"24 City," Jia Zhangke, China/Hong Kong/Japan
"Afterschool," Antonio Campos, U.S.
"Ashes of Time Redux," Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong (Sony Pictures Classics)
"Bullet in the Head," Jaime Rosales, Spain/France
"Che," Steven Soderbergh, France/Spain
"Chouga," Darezhan Omirbaev, France/Kazakhstan
"A Christmas Tale," Arnaud Desplechin, France (IFC Films)
"Four Nights With Anna," Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland/France
"Gomorrah," Matteo Garrone, Italy (IFC Films)
"Happy-Go-Lucky," Mike Leigh, U.K. (Miramax)
"The Headless Woman," Lucrecia Martel, Argentina/France/Italy/Spain
"Hunger," Steve McQueen, U.K. (IFC Films)
"I'm Going to Explode," Gerardo Naranjo, Mexico
"Let It Rain," Agnes Jaoui, France, 2008

"Lola Montes," Max Ophuls, France/West Germany (Rialto Pictures)
"Night and Day," Hong Sang-soo, South Korea, 2008
"The Northern Land," Joao Botelho, Portugal
"Serbis," Brillante Mendoza, Philippines/France
"Summer Hours," Olivier Assayas, France (IFC Films)
"Tokyo Sonata," Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan/Netherlands
"Tony Manero," Pablo Larrain, Chile/Brazil
"Tulpan," Sergey Dvortsevoy, Germany/Kazakhstan/Poland/Russia/Switzerland
"Waltz With Bashir," Ari Folman, Israel/Germany/France (Sony Pictures Classics)
"Wendy and Lucy," Kelly Reichardt, U.S. (Oscilloscope Pictures)
"The Windmill Movie," Alexander Olch, U.S.