Azazel Jacobs’ “French Exit” Will Close The 2020 New York Film Festival

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The New York Film Festival just now unveiled the final selection of their annual big three titles, naming Azazel Jacobs’ French Exit as the 2020 incarnation of the fest’s Closing Night pick. We now know the festival’s Opener in Lovers Rock, Centerpiece in Nomadland, and Closer, so all that’s left is the Main Slate, which should be headed our way shortly. NYFF this year is going to be a lot different than in years past, with a huge focus on virtual screenings (as well as outdoor ones, apparently), along with many studios opting out of festival season for now, but still…this trio looks like something to reckon with. Read on for more…

Here is part of the official press release:

New York, NY (August 11, 2020) – Film at Lincoln Center announces Azazel Jacobs’s French Exit as Closing Night of the 58th New York Film Festival, making its World Premiere.

In the film, Michelle Pfeiffer is entirely bewitching as Frances Price, an imperious, widowed New York socialite whose once-extreme wealth has dwindled down to a nub. Facing insolvency, she makes the decision to escape the city by cruise ship and relocate to her friend’s empty Paris apartment with her dyspeptic son, Malcolm (Lucas Hedges), and their mercurial cat, Small Frank (voiced by Tracy Letts). There, Frances and Malcolm reckon with their pasts and plan for an impossible future, all while their social circle expands in unexpected and increasingly absurdist ways. This adaptation of the best-selling novel by Patrick deWitt is a rare American film of genuine eccentricity, elegantly directed by Azazel Jacobs (The Lovers), and featuring a brilliant performance of stylish severity by Pfeiffer, whose every intonation is a wonder to behold. A Sony Pictures Classics release.

“We’ve been watching New York filmmaker Azazel Jacobs for more than a decade, since his film Momma’s Man screened in our New Directors/New Films festival in 2008,” said New York Film Festival Director Eugene Hernandez. “Now, we’re honored that he’ll make his NYFF debut with Closing Night selection French Exit, a tour-de-force collaboration with Michelle Pfeiffer that we can’t wait to share with audiences in NYC and beyond.”

“Jacobs is one of the most distinctive voices in American cinema, and it’s a thrill to see him working with new registers and tones in his most ambitious film yet,” said Dennis Lim, New York Film Festival Director of Programming. “It’s rare to encounter a film so wholly surprising. Moment to moment, French Exit is a destabilizing delight, as strange and dark as it is playful, thanks in no small part to Michelle Pfeiffer’s career-best performance.”

“NYFF is the film festival I grew up attending,” said Jacobs. “I remember seeing Night On Earth for the first time, and waiting afterwards to hand Jim Jarmusch a fan letter. I remember that same year seeing Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho and having my aim to become a filmmaker only more solidified. I’m grateful to the NYFF for allowing French Exit to premiere in the city I was raised in, and love, and to all who are undoubtedly working tirelessly to make this event happen.”

The NYFF Main Slate selection committee, chaired by Dennis Lim, also includes Eugene Hernandez, Florence Almozini, K. Austin Collins, and Rachel Rosen.

Since 1963, the New York Film Festival has been a centerpiece of New York’s arts scene: an annual bellwether of the state of cinema that has shaped film culture in the city and beyond. Festival organizers will keep this tradition alive while adapting as necessary to the current health crisis. The safety of audiences and staff is the first priority. The 58th edition of NYFF will focus on outdoor and virtual screenings, as directed by state and health officials.

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema. The festival continues a long-standing tradition of introducing audiences to bold and remarkable works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. Information about press and industry accreditation and ticket on-sale dates for the 58th New York Film Festival will follow. Support of the New York Film Festival benefits Film at Lincoln Center in its nonprofit mission to support the art and craft of cinema.

For comparison, here are the other Closing Night selections since the year 2000, offering up an interesting mix of what NYFF tends to wrap up with:

2019 – Motherless Brooklyn
2018 – At Eternity’s Gate
2017 – Wonder Wheel
2016 – The Lost City of Z
2015 – Miles Ahead
2014 – Birdman
2013 – Her
2012 – Flight
2011 – The Descendants
2010 – Hereafter
2009 – Broken Embraces
2008 – The Wrestler
2007 – Persepolis
2006 – Pan’s Labyrinth
2005 – Caché
2004 – Sideways
2003 – 21 Grams
2002 – Talk to Her
2001 – In Praise of Love
2000 – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Stay tuned for more on French Exit and the New York Film Festival soon!

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