Another day, another big fall festival announcement. On the heels of the official selections for both the Toronto and Venice film festivals made last week, the fall movie season is ever looming. Today comes word that the prestigious New York Film Festival, celebrating its fifty-first year this September, will open with Captain Phillips, the latest film from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93) starring Tom Hanks.
The real-life thriller, described by NYFF Director of Programming and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones as a “riveting experience” and “a pulse-pounding thriller” by festival organizers, tells the true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 hijacking of the US-flagged MV Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates about 240 nautical miles off the coast of Horn of Africa; it was the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in nearly two hundred years. Billy Ray (Shattered Glass, Flightplan) penned the screenplay based on the book A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips and Stephan Tatty. Hanks will play the titular lead.
Distributor Sony hopes that Captain Phillips will be one the shiniest award contenders this year, and NYFF’s landing of this coveted title will likely bolster interest – likewise Toronto will open with The Fifth Estate, a biographical drama of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness), directed by Bill Condon (Kinsey, Gods & Monsters) and Venice will open with Gravity, the much-anticipated lost in space odyssey starring Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side, The Heat) and George Clooney (Up in the Air, Michael Clayton) from director Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men, Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban.) This marks a return to NYFF for director Greengrass, who previously screened his 2002 thriller Bloody Sunday at the festival. Past opening night films for NYFF have included the Oscar-winning Life of Pi (2012), The Social Network (2010), The Queen (2006) and Mystic River (2003.) The festival runs from September 28th- October 14th. Captain Phillips will open in theaters on October 11th.