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5 Films Screened at the New York Film Festival That You Need to See This Fall

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at BU chapter.

The New York Film Festival always offers a great selection of films from around the world, but this year’s festival slate was more jam-packed than ever. With new films from auteurs Alfonso Cuarón and Pawel Pawlikowski, Willem Dafoe in a starring role as Vincent van Gogh, and Barry Jenkins’ stunning adaptation of a James Baldwin novel, the offerings were some of the best in recent years. Here are the five most talked about films from this year’s festival that will be opening later this fall.


1. At Eternity’s Gate

Directed by Julian Schnabel; starring Willem Dafoe, Oscar Isaac, and Mads Mikkelsen; coming November 16th

In At Eternity’s Gate, Willem Dafoe stars as Vincent van Gogh at the height of his artistic career. (Credit: Variety)

At Eternity’s Gate stars Willem Dafoe as the 19th century painter Vincent van Gogh as he battles his demons and struggles to make his art seen. Through stunning cinematography and images tinged with blues and yellows, characteristic of van Gogh’s artworks, director Julian Schnabel captures the artistic expression bursting from within the painter. Oscar Isaac stars as van Gogh’s good friend and fellow painter Paul Gauguin and Mads Mikkselsen has a supporting role as “The Priest.”


2. Shoplifters

Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda; starring Kirin Kiki, Lily Franky, and Sôsuke Ikematsu; coming November 23rd

Shoplifters, a commentary on poverty in Japan, won the prestigious Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. (Credit: Indie Wire)

Japanese director Hirkoazu Kore-eda is known for his social commentary style films, and his latest film, Shoplifters, is no departure from that style. The film follows a misfit family of thieves living in relative poverty. When the father discovers a young neglected girl in an alleyway one night, the family takes her in and teaches her their methods of survival. Kore-eda’s film is a sobering, heartbreaking look at life on the margins of society and what it means to be a family. It’s no wonder, then, that it took the highest prize, the Palme d’Or, at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.


3. If Beale Street Could Talk

Directed by Barry Jenkins; starring KiKi Layne, Stephan James, Regina King; coming November 30th

Moonlight director Barry Jenkins’ latest film is an adaptation of James Baldwin’s acclaimed 1974 novel. (Credit: Variety)

Director Barry Jenkins is back with another film, his latest since Moonlight famously took Best Picture in 2017. If Beale Street Could Talk, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s 1974 novel of the same name, follows the story of Tish and Fonny, an African-American couple living in Harlem. After Fonny is accused of a crime he did not commit, Tish discovers she is pregnant with their child. What ensues is a struggle to clear Fonny’s name before their child is born. A socially conscious film that feels all too relevant to our current times, Jenkins’ film is nominated for some Gotham Awards at the end of November, so it seems like he is well on his way to another Oscar.


4. Roma

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón; starring Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Diego Cortina Autrey; coming December 14th

Roma, Alfonso Cuarón’s latest feature, follows a Mexican family in the 1970s. (Credit: Vulture)

Alfonso Cuarón, who most notably directed Gravity and Y tu mama tambien, is receiving critical acclaim for his latest feature, Roma. The film, shot in black and white, follows the events of a family living in Mexico City in the 1970s, including the everyday life of the mother, a housewife; the father, a doctor; and their three children. Partly autobiographical, the film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival this past August.


5. Cold War

Directed by Pawel Pawlikowski; starring Joanna Kulig and Tomasz Kot; coming December 21st

Oscar-winning director Pawl Pawlikowski’s latest feature captures the relationship between two Polish ex-patriots during the Soviet Era. (Credit: Hollywood Reporter)

Zula sings folk songs in a choir; Wiktor is the choir’s conductor. Despite the large age gap between them, they fall madly in love. What follows is their love story, which spans decades and finds them in several different countries, though they mostly bounce between Soviet-era Poland in the east and Paris in the west. A commentary on communism and the power of music, this beautiful black and white feature won Pawel Pawlikowski the Best Director award at Cannes this past May (he also won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 2013 for his film Ida).


These films, from all corners of the world, are must-sees for this fall!


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Ausma Palmer is a writer, photographer, and filmmaker from New York. She is currently a journalism student at Boston University and specializes in writing opinion pieces on gender issues and politics, as well as film and book reviews.
Writers of the Boston University chapter of Her Campus.