'Life of Pi' to open New York Film Festival

August 14, 2012 8:28:44 AM PDT
The New York Film Festival will start its 50th anniversary with a new twist featuring the work of a familiar face. For the first time in its history, the NYFF will open with a 3-D film when the world premiere of acclaimed director Ang Lee's Life of Pi kicks off on Friday, Sept. 28.

Lee, a New Yorker who won an Academy Award in 2006 for Best Director for Brokeback Mountain, joins a small group of filmmakers who have had more than one film in the opening night slot -- joining Robert Altman, Pedro Almodóvar and François Truffaut with that distiniction. Lee's The Ice Storm kicked off the event in 1997 and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon closed the festival in 2000.

"I am both delighted and honored to be back at the New York Film Festival with Life of Pi," Lee said in a statement. "I have the deepest respect for Richard Peña and his team and to be selected by them as the oipening night film for the 50th anniversary is extremely gratifying. I am also excited because this is my hometown, and to be unveiling this film that I am so proud of here is a real pleasure."

It was Lee's task to put Yann Martel's bestselling 2001 novel to life. The story revolves around a young man named Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, who survives a shipwreck and finds himself stranded in a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a most undesirable of shipmates: a Bengal tiger. The book was long considered to be not suited for film given the fact that it takes place over three contintents, two oceans and vast periods of time -- but turned out to be the perfect for Lee to employ his signature visual style and state-of-the-art filmography. The film be released nationally on Nov. 21.

"Life of Pi is a perfect combination of technological innovation and a strong artistic vision," said Richard Peña, Film Society of Lincoln Center program director and chair of the NYFF Selection Committee in a statement. "Ang Lee has managed to make a deeply moving, engrossing work that will delight audiences as much as it will astonish them. We're enormously proud to have this film for our Opening Night for the 50th NYFF."

Last year, the NYFF presented two films in 3-D: Wim Wenders' Pina and a surprise screening of Martin Scorsese's Hugo.

As was previously announced, the festival will close on Sunday, Oct. 14, with the world premiere of Robert Zemeckis' Flight a live-action film starring Denzel Washington, John Goodman and Don Cheadle. The rest of the festival's lineup is currently being finalized. Be sure to follow @FilmLinc and @TheNYFF on Twitter and the official Facebook pages of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and NYFF for the latest updates!

General Public tickets for the NYFF will be available on Sunday, Sept. 9. There will be a pre-sale ticketing period for film society patrons and members before that date. More information on festival ticketing can be found here.