Emma Stone helps kick off the New York Film Festival

The 56th New York Film Festival has begun at Lincoln Center, and for the next two weeks, a diverse slate of films from around the world will be shown at Alice Tully Hall.

That's where the gala opening took place on Friday night.

If show business is a balancing act between art and commerce, then the festival comes down squarely on the side of cinema. It is a celebration of cinema: past, present and future without regard for box-office success. Though Emma Stone has surely had her share of hits.

"This is amazing," she said on the red carpet. "I live in New York, and I have for only, well, 10 years. So I guess I can't call myself a true New Yorker yet...It's really special to be here and to get to share this movie that we're all so excited about."

That movie, "The Favourite," tells the story of two cousins who scheme against each other in 18th century England.

The film is a world away from movies like "The Amazing Spider-Man" and its sequel - which grossed just shy of $1.5 billion. "La La Land" was another hit and earned her an Oscar, yet here Stone is starring in a period drama with plenty of dark comedy.

So what does it say about Stone that one of the biggest stars in the world is willing to do the movie and arrive in a shower of manure?

"That she's gutsy, right?" festival director Kent Jones said. "I mean, what else could it say?"

Nicholas Hoult, who is her co-star in "The Favourite," amplified his point.

"To go out there and make a bold choice and play a different role, doing an English accent, which isn't easy, you know, I think it shows a testament to what a brilliant actress she is," he said.

So it was entirely fitting that she be the one to shine at the opening night of what's become a cultural jewel in the city Stone calls home.

The New York Film Festival runs for the next two weeks at Lincoln Center and features a very diverse mix of movies from the world's most exciting filmmakers. WABC-TV is one of the sponsors of the event.

For more information, visit Filmlinc.org/nyff2018/.

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