NY Film Festival opens Sept. 25 with a rich slate

If you love movies, make the trek to Manhattan for the ultimate cinema smorgasbord, The New York Film Festival. The 53rd edition of this annual celebration of the best in film — carefully curated by the Film Society of Lincoln Center — runs this year from Sept. 25 through Oct. 11. And it’s a high point of any year for movie buffs.

For more than 35 years, director Robert Zemeckis has blended a command of special effects with character development. From exploring time travel in Back to the Future to spinning homespun warmth in Forrest Gump, this Oscar-winning director combines a love for the technique of film with an affinity for the narrative. Opening the festival on Saturday, Sept. 26, will be the premiere of The Walk, Zemeckis’ 3-D tale of Philippe Petit’s attempt to illegally walk between the towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt cast as the man who dares to perform “the artistic crime of the century,” the film promises to take us on a thrill ride of epic proportions.

Two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara highlight the festival on Oct. 9 and 10 with their acclaimed performances as women who fall in love in the 1950s in Todd Haynes’ Carol. Well remembered for his detailed examination of the social mores of the decade in Far From Heaven, Haynes shines as a director who respects the conventions of a period without passing judgment on its social ironies. Blanchett, so authentic with every portrayal, always finds a fresh dimension of the character she plays, and Mara was awarded Best Actress honors at the Cannes Film Festival. Many expect this acclaimed film to do well in end-of-year-award competitions.

Oscar-winner Steven Spielberg returns to the festival with the world premiere of his eagerly awaited Bridge of Spies on Oct. 4 and 5. Starring Tom Hanks — who last visited the event with Captain Phillips in 2013 — the new film intends to keep us at the edge of our seats as Spielberg winds his way through the international intrigue created when American pilot Francis Gary Powers is shot down over Russia in his U-2 spy plane. The subject matter sounds just right for the master director who knows how to turn up the suspense no matter the story. And it’s always good to see Hanks dive into a meaty role. This will be, by the way, one of the first Spielberg movies not to feature music by John Williams. Because of a scheduling conflict, Thomas Newman wrote the score.

The controversial moviemaker Michael Moore comes to the festival with a new world view of United States weakness in the documentary Where to Invade Next, showing Oct. 2 and 3. Best remembered for Roger and Me and Bowling for Columbine, Moore never hesitates to offer a controversial view of unconventional issues. This time he sharpens his skewer to take a blistering view of how our country’s reputation has weakened around the world. And he has a lot of fun at the expense of the USA.

When the festival schedules a film created by two Oscar winners, the excitement is contagious. And for the film Steve Jobs — written by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionnaire) — the anticipation continues to build. Early reports indicate this unconventional biopic creatively examines the bravado and genius that define a man who dared to reinvent how people live. And with Michael Fassbender — so memorable in 12 Years a Slave — in the title role, we can only imagine how detailed a portrayal we will see in a film that offers a behind-the-scenes look at one of the great stories of our time. Steve Jobs shows on Oct. 3.

Closing the festival on Oct. 11 is the world premiere of Don Cheadle’s tribute to musician Miles Davis called, simply, Miles Ahead. Co-written and directed by Cheadle — who also plays the title role — the film takes a close look at the extraordinary career of this trumpeter and composer who pushed the boundaries of traditional jazz. With Cheadle devoting several years to the project, the film pays tribute to the man it profiles as well as the talent in front of and behind the screen.

To learn more about this year’s New York Film Festival, and order tickets, go online to filmlinc.com or call 212.721.6500. The event is sponsored by the Film Society of Lincoln Center as part of its commitment to American and International cinema. Screenings will held at Walter Reade Theater, Alice Tully Hall and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center in Manhattan.