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December 3, 2023

Film at Lincoln Center Announces The North American Premiere of May December as Opening Night of the 61st New York Film Festival


Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), Television Star, May December, Israeli- American

Film at Lincoln Center announces Todd Haynes’s May December as Opening Night of the 61st New York Film Festival, making its North American premiere at Alice Tully Hall on September 29 with the director and cast in person. Secure your ticket and more with Festival Passes, limited quantities on sale now. Single tickets go on sale September 19 at noon ET.

In May December, Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), a popular television star, has arrived in a tight-knit island community in Savannah. Here, she will be doing intimate research for a new part, ingratiating herself into the lives of Gracie (Julianne Moore), whom she’ll be playing on-screen, and her much younger husband, Joe (Charles Melton), to better understand the psychology and circumstances that more than 20 years ago made them notorious tabloid figures. As Elizabeth attempts to get closer to the family, the uncomfortable facts of their scandal unfurl, causing difficult, long-dormant emotions to resurface. From the sensational premise of first time screenwriter Samy Burch’s brilliantly subtle script, director Todd Haynes (Safe, Carol) has constructed an American tale of astonishing richness and depth, which touches the pressure and pleasure points of a culture obsessed equally with celebrity and trauma. It’s a feat of storytelling and pinpoint-precise tone that is shrewd in its wicked embrace of melodrama while also genuinely moving in its humane treatment of tricky subject matter. Boasting a trio of bravura, mercurial performances by Moore, Portman, and Melton, May December is a film about human exploitation, the elusive nature of performance, and the slipperiness of truth that confirms Todd Haynes’s status as one of our consummate movie artists. The film will be released domestically, in theaters November 17 and on Netflix December 1.

Todd Haynes, Director, May December, North American
Todd Haynes, Director, May December, North American

“We are all so proud and moved to have been invited to open the New York Film Festival with the North American premiere of May December,” said director Todd Haynes. “It is a festival that plays a role in my work and life like no other in the world, since it enshrines the cultural life of this city, which is both my creative home as a filmmaker and, as ever, the eternal site of artistic possibility.”

“May December is a tour de force of writing, acting, and directing: a film built on moment-to-moment surprise, as thought-provoking as it is purely pleasurable,” said Dennis Lim, Artistic Director, New York Film Festival. “It cements Todd Haynes’s place as one of American cinema’s most brilliant mischief-makers and as an all-time great director of actors. Todd has been a consistent presence at the New York Film Festival for almost his entire career, and we are very excited to open this edition with one of his most dazzling achievements.”

Passionate about the visual arts since childhood, Todd Haynes studied art and semiotics at Brown University. In 1987, he created the short film Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story with Barbie dolls. Since then, he has tirelessly continued to address questions of gender and identity. His first feature film Poison, inspired by Jean Genet, won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and was released in 1991. After Safe (1995), starring Julianne Moore, he conjured David Bowie during the Ziggy Stardust period in Velvet Goldmine (NYFF36), then paid homage to Douglas Sirk in Far from Heaven (2002). In 2006, he had six actors play Bob Dylan in I’m Not There (NYFF45). He then directed the HBO mini-series Mildred Pierce before returning to feature films with Carol (NYFF53), Wonderstruck (NYFF55 Centerpiece Selection), Dark Waters, and the documentary The Velvet Underground (NYFF59).

Campari®, the iconic Milanese red aperitivo, is returning for the fifth year serving as the Exclusive Spirits Partner for the 61st New York Film Festival and the Presenting Partner of Opening Night, underscoring its continued commitment to the world of film.

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

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema and takes place September 29–October 15, 2023. An annual bellwether of the state of cinema that has shaped film culture since 1963, the festival continues an enduring tradition of introducing audiences to bold and remarkable works from celebrated filmmakers, as well as fresh new talent.

Secure your Opening Night tickets and more with Festival Passes, limited quantities on sale now. NYFF61 single tickets will go on sale to the general public on Tuesday, September 19 at noon ET, with pre-sale access for FLC Members and Pass holders prior to this date. Save 10% on FLC Memberships through this Thursday, July 13 only with the code HAYNES––eligible for new, renewing, and lapsed Members at Friend and Angel levels. NYFF61 press and industry accreditation opens July 31.

Film at Lincoln Center is dedicated to supporting the art and elevating the craft of cinema and enriching film culture.

Film at Lincoln Center fulfills its mission through the programming of festivals, series, retrospectives, and new releases; the publication of Film Comment; and the presentation of podcasts, talks, special events, and artist initiatives. Since its founding in 1969, this nonprofit organization has brought the celebration of American and international film to the world-renowned Lincoln Center arts complex, making the discussion and appreciation of cinema accessible to a broad audience and ensuring that it remains an essential art form for years to come.

Support for the New York Film Festival is generously provided by Official Partners Campari® and The New York Times; Supporting Partner Topic Studios; Contributing Partners The Critic Wines, Dolby, MUBI, Participant, School of Visual Arts BFA Film, and Manhattan Portage; Media Partners Variety, Deadline Hollywood, WABC-TV, The Hollywood Reporter, The WNET Group, and Shutterstock. Additional support provided in part by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

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