Just How ‘Indie’ Is The New York Film Festival?

Late last night in the front room of O’Neals Restaurant at West 64th Street and Broadway, director Ira Sachs was explaining the importance of the New York Film Festival.

“A commitment to cinema—over a long period of time—as an art form,” the 42-year-old director said, was the hallmark of the festival, which for the first time was presenting his work, the film Married Life, starring Pierce Brosnan, Patricia Clarkson, Chris Cooper and Rachel McAdams.

“To me, that’s something that’s been lost in the independent movement, which is something that I came out of, which is to think of film in the same context as a painting, or a photograph, or a ballet, or the Met, or whatever else it may be that is artful in cinema that is significant in itself,” Mr. Sachs said.

The occasion was a dinner held in honor of the directors whose films are being showed at Lincoln Center during the festival’s 17-day run, and Mr. Sachs was about to tuck into an omelet.

But no sooner had Mr. Sachs’ indictment escaped his lips before he seemed to think a little better of it. His film, after all, is hardly independent of Hollywood—whether or not it deserves to be viewed in the same context as a painting, etc.

Married Life stars an Indie goddess but also a former James Bond, and is a Sony Pictures Classics release (in the United States) of a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment presentation of an Anonymous Content/Firm Films production. (International sales handled by Kimmel International of Beverly Hills.)

“I think that there is a way in which the corporate arm of Hollywood has co-opted the independent movement,” he said, “but at the same time, the independent movement needs the economic industry which is Hollywood moviemaking.”

“So I think it’s a process and it morphs over time just as any other art form does. There’s a period of evolution. You can’t stop the evolution, you can just respond to it.”

Mr. Sachs’ response is an adaptation of British crime novelist John Bingham’s Five Roundabouts to Heaven, which he has reset in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1940’s.

The director Brian DePalma also had a film at the festival for the first time—Redacted, it’s called.

He was to be found in the restaurant’s back room, where he stood in the seemingly endless line for one of those omelets and tiramisu. The 67-year-old said he used to frequent the festival as a Columbia physics student, and prefers to go to festivals when he hasn’t got any movies in them.

“Usually it has the pick of all the other festivals, so you see a lot of films that have been sold, fine films that were in all of the festivals earlier,” he said. “Going to a film festival when you’re promoting a movie is not a lot of fun because all you’re doing is press all the time. You don’t get a chance to see a lot of things. So, I go to film festivals from day one to the end of the festival—I do that in Toronto; I do that in Montreal; I’ve done it Berlin; I’ve done it in Cannes. I just go to see movies, because I love seeing interesting movies from all over the world,” he explained.

Anything really interesting coming up?

“I’ve seen a lot of good films, but you know… Last year, I saw a Bruno Dumont film called Flanders I thought was incredibly striking, that stayed with me for over a year now.”

We’ll look it up!

Just How ‘Indie’ Is The New York Film Festival?