Saturday, September 27, 2014

A report from the ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA screening at The New York Film Festival 2014

introducing the film
Today's the sort of day that explains why coverage of a film festival needs to be done from the public screenings; It explains why press screening and screeners don't cut it; It explains why film viewing is still a communal activity; And why the New York Film Festival can still surprise the hell out of me.

The day started with hooking up with Alec for some lunch and talk. We then walked over to the Walter Reade and got in line in such a way as to stay out of the sun. While on line we watched as James Woods and Treat Williams went in...and a short time later Ethan Hawke come out. Hawke was there with SEYMOUR AN INTRODUCTION. Points to Mr Hawke who talked to fans and posed for pictures.

When we got into the theater there was a lot of questions about how long it was going to run. We knew there was to be an intro, and they were advertising a Q&A. There was also talk of an hour intermission which made everyone curious.

The introduction had Scott Tiller (who played young Noodles), James Woods, William Forsythe, Treat Williams and Robert DeNiro intro duce the film, Actually only DeNiro and Woods spoke. Afterward DeNiro left and the other actors took up seats in the theater.

I talked about the film earlier this week and what I said still holds true (the piece is here), the film is a masterpiece. The new material is a mixed bag with most of it adding a bit of shading. There is one piece where DeNiro speaks to Elizabeth McGovern's chauffeur that doesn't add much. The other bits add details and hints at other missing material.

At intermission we were told the break would only be a half an hour and that there was food and drink in the Furman Gallery for everyone. What a delight no only was there sandwiches and deserts and snacks and wine and drinks, but there was also great conversation as the crowd chatted among itself. Scott Tiller was there talking to people and even the other actors briefly appeared.

After the film there was a standing ovation with a great deal of love shown to the performers. Because things went long all day the Q&A was officially canceled, but the audience surrounded the actors and started taking pictures and asking questions. Because they weren't miced the fringes fell away but most people stayed. They stayed even when the theater manager asked everyone to leave.

Eventually the actors left and they continued talking to the crowd and each other in the lobby. James Woods could be heard bemoaning how the studio refused to put the film up for any Oscar nominations in 1983 which broke Sergio Leone's heart. The crowd and actors moved outside with William Forsythe getting mobbed outside the theater by fans asking questions and looking for autographs.

Alec and I faded into the night heading home- passing Alice Tully Hall where the red carpet arrivals for MAP OF STARS the New David Cronenberg was going on.

The whole experience was magical, from the company of a good friend, to a good movie, to big stars really interacting with their fans, it was wonderful from top to bottom and a great example as to why magical things happen at the New York Film Festival and why I'll keep going to public screenings.

I've posted pictures from today, Ethan Hawke, the intro, the impromptu Q&A and the leaving over at the Unseen Tumblr page which can be found here.

Hopefully they'll get you to try and see something at the festival....

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