Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ to Open New York Film Festival

The New York Film Festival has set Martin Scorsese’s hotly-anticipated ‘The Irishman’ as its opening film. The 57th edition of the festival will premiere the crime drama on September 27 at Alice Tully Hall. This is the first time a Scorsese flick has opened the NYFF. The Netflix film, starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, is based on the book ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’ by Charles Brandt. ‘The Irishman’ was first set at Paramount when it was announced in 2008. The project later moved to Netflix in 2017. The streaming giant is expected to release the long-gestating film later this year.

Adapted by screenwriter Steve Zaillian, the plot follows Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a top-notch Teamsters official with alleged connections to the notorious Bufalino crime syndicate. Shortly before his death in 2003, Sheeran confessed that he murdered the Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino), whose mortal remnants have never been found. Other cast includes Joe Pesci, Harvey Keitel, Jesse Plemons, Anna Paquin, Bobby Cannavale, and Ray Romano. Apart from helming the project, Scorsese produces the film along with De Niro, Randall Emmett, Jane Rosenthal, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, and Irwin Winkler.

NYFF presenter Film at Lincoln Center described the movie as “a richly textured epic of American crime, a dense, complex story told with astonishing fluidity.” The Center also added that “It is a film about friendship and loyalty between men who commit unspeakable acts and turn on a dime against each other, and the possibility of redemption in a world where it seems as distant as the moon.” Festival director and selection committee chairperson Kent Jones lauded the movie, “The Irishman is so many things: rich, funny, troubling, entertaining and, like all great movies, absolutely singular. It’s the work of masters, made with a command of the art of cinema that I’ve seen very rarely in my lifetime, and it plays out at a level of subtlety and human intimacy that truly stunned me. All I can say is that the minute it was over my immediate reaction was that I wanted to watch it all over again.”

Scorsese welcomed the news saying. “It’s an incredible honor that The Irishman has been selected as the opening night of the New York Film Festival.” The veteran filmmaker didn’t forget to acknowledge the NYFF legacy. “I greatly admire the bold and visionary selections that the festival presents to audiences year after year. The festival is critical to bringing awareness to cinema from around the world. I am grateful to have the opportunity to premiere my new picture in New York alongside my wonderful cast and crew.”

According to reports, the movie uses CGI to transform 75-year-old De Niro to portray a young Sheeran. “I think it’s great. I’ve seen some of it. I’m going to see some more, actually today or tomorrow, but it’s great. They’re really doing a terrific job,” De Niro told THR this summer. “I’m anxious to see the whole thing put together.” The 57th New York Film Festival will run from September 27 to October 13. (Cover Image Courtesy: NYFF/Netflix)