Your New York Film Festival: As Close As We’ll Ever Get to the pre-New Times Village Voice Getting the Band Back Together

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08/18/2009 12:34 PM |

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Last week, The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced their line-up for this fall’s New York Film Festival, as ever a greatest-hits assemblage of the year on the festival circuit. (As always, we’ll be covering as many of the films as possible right here at thelmagazine.com.) This year sees a noted absence of the usual big-name mid-career global auteurs and upper-middlebrow star-driven American film (only, really, Haneke and Almodovar, and no Little Children or Married Life-type head-scratchers), and a preponderance of old masters and daunting French ladies, foreign pop, and a greater-than-usual number of new foreign festival-fave filmmakers, intellectually rigorous set-ups, and movies from countries not exactly known for producing marquee world cinema.

Oh, and Antichrist, because why the fuck not.

So, why is this happening? Well, look at the selection committee.

Holdovers from last year are Richard Peña, the FSLC’s program director; J. Hoberman, lead critic at the Voice for the last few decades and dean of NYC moviegoing; and Scott Foundas, the young lead critic of the L.A. Weekly (and thus a major contributor to the Voice and other New Times properties, too).

Lisa Schwarzbaum, of Entertainment Weekly, was on the committee last year, but her term expired. She was replaced by Melissa Anderson, a former (and, now that her Film Editor position at Time Out New York has been eliminated, current again) Village Voice contributor, who also writes for Artforum and elsewhere, about things like queer cinema and adventurous foreign fare.

The other change from last year’s committee is less about different tastes than about personality: when selection committee member Kent Jones left the FSLC to “pursue other options” and “spark several rounds of panicked speculation about what kind of blighted new corporate culture could lead someone to abandon a gig as sweet as the gig Kent Jones had at the FSLC”, he and his inimitable taste were replaced by the equally singular Dennis Lim — who happens to be Hobes and Anderson’s old editor at the Voice, before he was let go following the paper’s merger with the New Times. This was so that he could keep them company, and, we’re speculating, form a cool-kid alt-weekly clique that Foundas would want to join. (Film criticism, like every other profession, is exactly like high school.) So what we have here is an New York Film Festival lineup that — in its global reach, cultivation of niche auteurs and highbrow cred — looks a lot like the annual Best Of series the Voice used to curate at BAM every spring during the Lim years, before the alt-weekly merger caused everything to go to shit.