The KnockturnaLIST: 8 Films to Check Out from the 58th New York Film Festival

While movie theaters in New York are currently still closed, that doesn’t mean that the world is on hold.

Combining virtual screenings and drive-in showings, the 58th New York Film Festival is going strong. Featuring some major talents along with some up-and-coming filmmakers, the 58th NYFF has teamed up with other major film festivals including Venice and Toronto to bring some movies to audiences everywhere.

Below, check out eight of our most anticipated films from the festival’s excellent slate.

The World Premiere of Steven McQueen’s Lover’s Rock 

Along with two other films from an anthology series Amazon is presenting, Steven McQueen (12 Years a Slave, Widows) opens the festival with Lover’s Rock, a story about a young woman and man who meet at a party. After the premiere of Lover’s Rock, two more films from McQueen’s anthology series, Small Axe, will premiere in the days to follow. First is Mangrove, starring Black Panther’s Letitia Wright and about police brutality in London in the 70s. McQueen also presents Red White and Blue which stars John Boyega as a police officer in London in the 80s. 

Lover’s Rock opens the festival on September 17th, followed by Mangrove and Red, White and Blue later in the festival. All will debut at a later date on Amazon Prime. 

Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland Sets History as the Centerpiece

While not a world premiere, Nomadland is nevertheless groundbreaking. After a premiere on the 11th at the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals and a special screening in Los Angeles organized by the Telluride Film Festival, Nomadland will make its East Coast US debut on September 26th. The film stars Frances McDormand in her first role since her Oscar-winning performance in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as a recently laid-off woman traveling the country looking for work. 

After premiering at festivals across the country this month, Fox Searchlight will release Nomadland on December 4th. 

Michelle Pfeiffer and Lucas Hedges Team Up in French Exit at the Closing Night World Premiere

Two talented actors team up in French Exit, a film with a bewitching premise that just begs to be seen. Pfeiffer stars as a widow who travels to France with her son, played by Hedges. They take with them their cat… who happens to be the reincarnation of the long-deceased patriarch of the family and is voiced by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tracy Letts. It is bound to be a strange time worth watching. This is filmmaker Azazel Jacobs’s follow up to the wonderfully weird The Lovers from 2017, which also starred Letts.

French Exit will have its world premiere on October 10th at the 58th NYFF and is expected to be released by Sony Pictures Classics in February of 2021. 

The 58th New York Film Festival’s Longest Film, City Hall, Might Be the Most Timely

Frederick Wiseman is a highly acclaimed documentarian, and his latest film continues his streak. The 4.5-hour-long documentary City Hall follows the bureaucracy of Boston as it handles some of the biggest issues of our time, including racial justice and reform. The 90-year-old Wiseman has made dozens of great documentaries, and this could be his magnum opus.

City Hall has its American premiere on September 25th, followed by an official release from Zipporah Films in November.

Spike Lee’s Second Movie of 2020, American Utopia, Is a Stealth Sequel to Stop Making Sense

After an incredibly acclaimed Broadway run, David Byrne’s American Utopia will finally be able to be seen across the country when the concert film debuts on HBO later this year. Before that, the Spike Lee-directed documentary will have its American premiere on October 4th. The Broadway show was spectacular beyond belief (your writer was lucky enough to see it live). The Talking Heads frontman makes his return to concert films following the beloved 1980s classic Stop Making Sense. If Lee builds American Utopia with half of the previous film’s charms, we will have a hit. 

After the 58th NYFF premiere, American Utopia will debut on HBO on October 17th. 

Pedro Almodóvar Returns to NYFF with His English-Language Debut, the Short Film “The Human Voice”

Returning to the 58th New York Film Festival after his wildly acclaimed Pain & Glory last year, The great Pedro Almodóvar makes his English language debut with the short film adaptation of “The Human Voice.” Teaming up with Tilda Swinton, the two collaborated on this project entirely during COVID, resulting in a truly unique filming experience for everyone. While not much is known about the film, it is sure to be a great time.

 “The Human Voice” will premiere in North America on September 24th.

I Carry You With Me Blends Documentary and Fiction in an Of-the-Moment Story

The first fiction film from Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp, Showtime’s “Love Fraud”) follows a relationship between two Mexican men who cross the border in order to make a better life for both of them. But following their hearts involves breaking the law and making a world for themselves. In I Carry You With Me, Ewing combines her documentarian skills with a fictional story for an emotional and much-needed story. 

Christian Vásquez and Armando Espitia appear I Carry You With Me by Heidi Ewing, an official selection of the NEXT program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Alejandro López.
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I Carry You With Me will premiere in New York on October 2nd, followed by a release from Sony Pictures Classics in January. 

Christian Petzold’s Undine Promises Another Emotional Journey

After his success with films like Phoenix and Barbara, Petzold brings his newest film back to the 58th New York Film Festival. A fantastical story starring Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski from Petzold’s film Transit, Undine is going to be a fascinating new feature from a filmmaker worth admiring. A supernatural romance, Undine will also screen with a short film called “Object Lessons, or: What Happened Whitsunday” at drive-in screenings. 

After the New York premiere on October 9th, Undine will be distributed soon by IFC Films

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