September 26, 2009 / 12:21 AM / 10 years ago

NY film festival kicks off with Resnais film

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Legendary French film maker Alain Resnais on Friday dismissed the notion that cinema was dying, saying he expected it to survive changes in the way films are being made and distributed.

Resnais, 87, spoke after a screening of his new film, “Wild Grass” at the opening of the 17-day New York Film Festival.

“I don’t believe what I read every ten years about the death of cinema,” Resnais told reporters and film critics through a translator, although he admitted that “the way we express ourselves on film is changing.”

Festival organizers have said the selection of 28 fiction and nonfiction films shows the current strength of cinema. Foreign films — which generally fail to do well at the U.S. box office — make up all but two of the choices.

The festival, now in its 47th year, started before an onslaught of film competitions around the world. It has traditionally picked a small selection of the year’s best films rather than featuring ones it can premiere.

Most of the festival picks have played at previous festivals this year. But two features are getting their premiere in New York — the Japanese film “Kanikosen” and Chinese independent documentary “Ghost Town.”

A spokesman for the festival said foreign films were simply the best films for the year. Festival organizer Richard Pena has said some anticipated Hollywood films were not ready in time.

“Broken Embraces” by Spain’s Pedro Almodovar will close the festival and Almodovar and star Penelope Cruz are expected to talk next week about their fourth film collaboration.

Other festival movies include Danish director Lars Von Trier’s graphically violent tale “Antichrist”, Marco Bellecchio’s “Vincere” and Austrian director Michael Haneke’s “The White Ribbon” — which won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes film festival.

Besides Todd Solondz’ “Life During Wartime”, fellow U.S. director Lee Daniels will show “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire”, which recently won the top prize at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Controversial U.S. director Oliver Stone showed his documentary “South of the Border” about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as part of this week’s pre-festival screenings.

Chavez appeared along with Stone and Bolivian President Evo Morales at the special screening.

Stone said he was still hoping to find a U.S. distributor for the film which is critical of U.S. foreign policy and media coverage of political events and leaders in South America.

“Hugo is a budding movie star,” Stone joked.

editing by Jill Serjeant

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