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NYFF 50 Tributes Nicole Kidman and Outgoing Director Richard Pena, Books Controversial 'Paperboy'

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood August 21, 2012 at 1:35PM

In order to summon up star luster, film festivals have to make certain compromises. In the case of the New York Film Festival's tribute to Nicole Kidman--who totally deserves many kudos--that includes adding Lee Daniel's controversial adaptation of Pete Dexter's novel "The Paperboy" to the fest's main slate.

 An Academy Award-winner for Stephen Daldry’s THE HOURS (2002), Kidman was encouraged to begin what would become a prolific and prestigious career in front of the camera by director Jane Campion. Following both film and television work in Australia, her performance in Philip Noyce’s DEAD CALM (1989) proved to be a breakthrough for US audiences, leading to starring roles in such major films as Tony Scott’s DAYS OF THUNDER (1990), Robert Benton’s BILLY BATHGATE (1991) and Ron Howard’s FAR AND AWAY (1993). Kidman received much critical acclaim and her first Golden Globe Award for her role in Gus Van Sant’s TO DIE FOR (1995) and continued to star in both big screen blockbusters like BATMAN FOREVER (1995) and THE PEACEMAKER (1997) and work with the best filmmakers, including Jane Campion’s THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY (1997) and Stanley Kubrick’s final film, EYES WIDE SHUT (1999).
Kidman’s received her first Academy Award nomination for her performance in fellow Australian Baz Lurhman’s MOULIN ROUGE in 2001. From that point, Kidman developed a solid reputation as an actress fearlessly willing to tackle challenging and provocative projects like Lars von Trier’s DOGVILLE (2003) and, Jonathan Glazer’s BIRTH (2004), and work with notable filmmakers like Anthony Minghella’s COLD MOUNTAIN (2003) and Noah Baumbach’s MARGOT AT THE WEDDING (2006). Recently, Kidman’s performance in John Cameron-Mitchell’s RABBIT HOLE (2010) earned the actress her third Academy Award nomination and eighth Golden Globe nomination and her role in the HBO drama “Hemingway & Gellhorn” brought Kidman her first Emmy nomination. Her performance in Lee Daniels’s upcoming drama THE PAPERBOY has already been singled out by critics following the film’s debut at Cannes.
Richard Peña has been the Program Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Director of the New York Film Festival since 1988. At the Film Society, he has organized retrospectives of Michelangelo Antonioni, Sacha Guitry, Abbas Kiarostami, Robert Aldrich, Roberto Gavaldon, Ritwik Ghatak, Kira Muratova, Youssef Chahine, Yasujiro Ozu, Carlos Saura and Amitabh Bachchan, as well as major film series devoted to African, Israeli, Cuban, Polish, Hungarian, Arab, Korean, Swedish, Taiwanese and Argentine cinema.
In his unprecedented tenure as the FSLC’s Program Director and Selection Committee Chair of the New York Film Festival, Peña has upheld the organization’s gold standard for showcasing the best in world cinema, while dramatically expanding its—and, in turn, the audience’s—horizons. From his encyclopedic surveys of Italian Neorealism and pre-revolutionary Iranian cinema, Peña’s inexhaustible knowledge and insatiable appetite for undiscovered cinematic territory have been an ongoing gift to New York moviegoers for the better part of three decades. During that same time, he has overseen the Film Society’s expansion from an annual festival to a year-round film exhibitor with three screens and a rapidly expanding online presence. In addition, he is a Professor of Film Studies at Columbia University, where he specializes in film theory and international cinema, and from 2006-2009 was a Visiting Professor in Spanish at Princeton University. He is also currently the co-host of WNET/Channel 13’s weekly Reel 13.

This article is related to: Festivals, NYFF, Festivals

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.