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NYFF 2020 Sets Closing Night Film: Michelle Pfeiffer Stars in Azazel Jacobs’ ‘French Exit’ Adaptation

IndieWire logo IndieWire 8/11/2020 Kate Erbland
Lucas Hedges holding a cat © Tobias Datum/SPC

This year’s New York Film Festival will close out its festivities with Azazel Jacobs’ “French Exit,” which will make its world premiere as the closing night selection of the upcoming festival. As was announced last week, the 58th edition of the festival will open with Steve McQueen’s “Lovers Rock,” with the festival also playing home to two other features that comprise McQueen’s ambitious new “Small Axe” series in its main slate. Chloe Zhao’s “Nomadland” will screen as the festival’s centerpiece.

As indicated by festival brass earlier this summer, this year’s NYFF is going to operate differently than it has in previous incarnations. The event will combine a brand-new virtual presence with carefully designed outdoor screenings, including two drive-ins. The festival is expected to finalize those plans in coordination with state and local authorities in the weeks ahead.

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Per the official synopsis for “French Exit,” the Sony Pictures Classics release stars Michelle Pfeiffer as the “entirely bewitching as Frances Price, an imperious, widowed New York socialite whose once-extreme wealth has dwindled down to a nub. Facing insolvency, she makes the decision to escape the city by cruise ship and relocate to her friend’s empty Paris apartment with her dyspeptic son, Malcolm (Lucas Hedges), and their mercurial cat, Small Frank (voiced by Tracy Letts). There, Frances and Malcolm reckon with their pasts and plan for an impossible future, all while their social circle expands in unexpected and increasingly absurdist ways.”

The film is an adaptation of Patrick DeWitt’s best-selling novel of the same name, with DeWitt himself scripting the screenplay (most recently, Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain adapted DeWitt’s “The Sisters Brothers” into the 2018 film of the same name).

“We’ve been watching New York filmmaker Azazel Jacobs for more than a decade, since his film ‘Momma’s Man’ screened in our New Directors/New Films festival in 2008,” said New York Film Festival Director Eugene Hernandez in an official statement. “Now, we’re honored that he’ll make his NYFF debut with Closing Night selection ‘French Exit,’ a tour-de-force collaboration with Michelle Pfeiffer that we can’t wait to share with audiences in NYC and beyond.”

Added Jacobs, a born and bred New Yorker, “NYFF is the film festival I grew up attending. I remember seeing ‘Night on Earth’ for the first time, and waiting afterwards to hand Jim Jarmusch a fan letter. I remember that same year seeing Gus Van Sant’s ‘My Own Private Idaho’ and having my aim to become a filmmaker only more solidified.”

Specific dates and ticketing details will follow in the coming weeks. The full main slate and schedule for the 58th New York Film Festival will also be announced in the coming weeks.

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