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Day 1 of screenings and events at the New York Film Festival

Saturday, September 30
The first full day of screenings and events at the New York Film Festival, following last evening's gala premiere of THE QUEEN, was a full program of diverse delights, with something for every cinematic taste.

Following its enthusiastic reception last evening, and amidst glowing reviews upon its theatrical release today, THE QUEEN director Stephen Frears was in high spirits at the HBO Films Directors Dialogue , held this afternoon at the Kaplan Penthouse, high atop the Lincoln Center arts complex. Frears, who was interviewed by New York Film Festival Selection Committee member and Entertainment Weekly critic Lisa Schwarzbaum, spoke with great relish and wicked humor about his adventures shooting the first film to take a behind-the-scenes look at the royal family. A detailed report on Frears' appearance will appear in tomorrow's Online Daily News.

Two new films from Asia struck a chord with local audiences, with the premieres of Chinese director Tian Zhuangzhuang's docudrama THE GO MASTER and South Korean director Hong San Soo's comedy of manners WOMAN ON THE BEACH.

Audiences responded viscerally to the exquisite THE GO MASTER, the true story of Wu Qingyuan, the most renowned master of the Japanese board game "go". Wu was, in fact, Chinese and spent many years in Japan perfecting the nuances and strategies of the game, against a backdrop of unrelieved tension between the two countries before and during World War II. The film has been singled out by international critics for its intimate storyline and the illustrative use of cinematography and lighting in highlighting the emotional and spiritual elements of the story. Having had its international premiere today, the film has its only repeat screening on Sunday at 6:00pm.

The battle of the sexes in contemporary South Korea is the topic of Hong San-soo's WOMAN ON THE BEACH. The film takes on an autobiographical aura, with the male lead cast as a film director who attempts to overcome his writer's block by journeying to a seaside resort with his best male friend and an alluring woman companion. Through its perceptive dialogue and knowing exchanges between the trio, Hong offers a devastating and enlightening survey of the Korean male psyche in all its willfulness, anger and self-contempt. The director was present for a question and answer session following the film, which led to a lively discussion of the film's themes, the perfect casting of the actors and the state of Korean cinema in general. The film will have a second screening on Sunday at 9:00pm.

A film closer to home that explores the same themes of dissatisfaction, longing and desperate need for connection is the American indie drama LITTLE CHILDREN, directed by Todd Field, whose debut feature IN THE BEDROOM was a solid indie hit and an Oscar nominee in 2001. His newest film is a haunting adaptation of Tom Perotta's critically acclaimed novel about modern suburbia and the angst of the American dream fulfilled.

Kate Winslet, in a role that is already garnering Oscar buzz, stars as a disaffected "soccer Mom", who daydreams about a life beyond the confines of her small town existence. As she drifts into an affair with a stay-at-home Dad (played with blank charm by Patrick Wilson), the film becomes a powerful essay on the hunger for love, sex and freedom even after one "has it all". Director Todd Field and star Kate Winslet were present for the packed-to-the-rafters screening. The film, which opens theatrically next week via New Line Cinema, has its sole repeat screening on Sunday at 2:30pm.

Lovers of the Italian actor Alberto Sordi were in their own seventh heaven at the rare screening of MAFIOSO, a restored comedy classic from Italian cinema's Golden Age. Made in 1962, released in the US in 1964 and directed by the great Alberto Lattuada, the film casts Sordi as a factory supervisor in northern Italy who travels with his family to his native Sicily, where the Mafia ethos was born. The film pokes fun at Italian machismo and exaggerated family loyalty, with Sordi a standout as a child-man who is called upon by a local Godfather to perform an act of service. The film, which has not been seen in decades and is not available on dvd, is being re-released by Rialto Pictures, a company specializing in the rediscovery of "lost" films.

Sandy Mandelberger
Festivals Editor
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