Free Talks

Film Comment Free Talks will engage filmmakers and magazine contributors in conversations about movies and provide a forum for discussing ideas central to contemporary film culture—political, aesthetic, and beyond. These in-depth discussions, which will focus not only on the filmmakers’ new films but on ideas about the landscape of contemporary and classic cinema, will later be featured as special episodes of the popular Film Comment Podcast. All talks will take place in the Amphitheater of the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center.

Sandi Tan (Shirkers) – October 30


With Shirkers, filmmaker Sandi Tan recounts the bizarre and bittersweet story of the greatest indie film that never was—a movie she made with friends as a teenager, only to lose it to a mysterious collaborator. Sandi Tan revisits the long-lost footage from her unfinished narrative feature shot in Tan’s native Singapore in 1992, also called Shirkers, and in the process reckons with both why the film was never finished and how several relationships were forever changed in its wake. Tan joins us for to discuss the thrill of creation and the complicated agony of seeing dreams drift away.

Past Events

Ari Aster – June 7, 2018

Ari Aster discusses Hereditary at a Film Comment Free Talk. Photo by Sean DiSerio.

For our latest Film Comment Free Talk, we head into the belly of the beast: Ari Aster’s terrific upcoming twist on the horror genre, Hereditary. If at times Hereditary feels more like an askew domestic melodrama than a horror movie, that’s not accidental: Aster’s new film is one of the most effective examples of the genre in recent years, terrifying in its refusal to shy away from difficult emotions. The filmmaker, a cinephile who counts Mike Leigh as one of his influences, will sit down with Film Society Editorial Director and Film Comment columnist Michael Koresky to discuss how exactly he mixes the mysteries and traumas of dysfunctional families with his exquisitely controlled and cathartic filmmaking. A talent (and a film) not to be missed this summer! An A24 Release.

Read Koresky’s interview with Ari Aster at Film Comment, and pick up the May-June issue to read his essay on Hereditary.

Paul Schrader – May 24, 2018

Rare is the filmmaker who also writes vastly influential film criticism, but writer-director Paul Schrader has done just that. In addition to writing Taxi Driver and directing his own body of films—including his gobsmacking latest, First Reformed—Schrader has also been a vital critical voice as a critic and editor and, through influential articles like his 2006 piece on the film canon and his survey of yakuza cinema, a vital piece of Film Comment history. His seminal book Transcendental Style in Film, recently released in a new edition that also reckons with “slow cinema,” is yet another key text in the Schrader canon. To celebrate his new film, his book‘s updated edition, and his work for Film Commentwe are honored and delighted to welcome Paul Schrader for a discussion that brings filmmaking and criticism together on one stage.

Boots Riley & Questlove – July 17, 2018

Extraordinary times demand extraordinary stories, and with Sorry to Bother You, director Boots Riley delivers a funny, scathing, weird, and audacious satire. Rising star Lakeith Stanfield plays a telemarketer at a company with a brave new world in mind for the country, in Riley’s sharp and smart X Ray of our moment. For our next Film Comment Talk, Riley joins special guest Questlove to talk about the story’s brilliant workplace nightmare and dead-on commentary about culture, capital, and race in America. Happy 200th anniversary, Marx!

Skate Kitchen director Crystal Moselle – August 7, 2018

What better way to weather the dog days of a New York summer than by celebrating a New York movie? With Skate Kitchen, filmmaker Crystal Moselle captures a refreshingly authentic portrait of a skateboarding teenager’s experiences with her new circle of friends and with the thrill of wheels on pavement. Moselle—a New York native who also made the fascinating documentary The Wolfpack—joins us for our next Film Comment Talk to discuss being faithful to her irrepressible young characters’ point of view and shooting in a dynamic urban setting.

Ethan Hawke – September 6, 2018

Photo by Colleen Sturtevant

Our latest guest for our Film Comment Talks was Ethan Hawke. His new film Blaze, which he directed, stars in, and co-wrote, was released in August by IFC Films. In a busy year that also saw the release of First Reformed, where he played a tormented priest, Hawke took time to talk with FC stalwart Nick Pinkerton about playing characters who value authenticity and integrity. The actor-writer-filmmaker was in prime raconteur mode, in front of an enthused audience. Look out for more Film Comment Talks during the New York Film Festival and beyond!

Paul Dano and Richard Ford – October 18, 2018

At a Film Comment Free Talk, filmmaker Paul Dano and novelist Richard Ford discuss Wildlife, now playing at the Film Society of Lincoln Center courtesy of IFC Films. Adapted from Ford’s novel by Dano and Zoe Kazan, Wildlife portrays a beleaguered family in the American West of the mid-1960s, with a finely honed sensitivity and meticulous filmmaking craft. “An affable man (Jake Gyllenhaal), down on his luck, runs off to fight the wildfires raging in the mountains. His wife (Carey Mulligan) strikes out blindly in search of security and finds herself running amok. It is left to their young adolescent son Joe (Ed Oxenbould) to hold the center.”—NYFF56

Film Comment Presents at the 56th NYFF


Border – Sunday, September 30

Scandinavian mythology makes for a visceral fantastical drama on the mystery of identity in this adaptation of a story by Let the Right One In writer John Ajvide Lindqvist. Ali Abbasi’s twisty Cannes award-winner (Un Certain Regard, 2018) centers on a customs inspector, Tina, who possesses the ability to sniff out contraband and moral corruption. Her findings lead her into a criminal investigation, but the heart of Border lies with Tina, who tires of her deadbeat roommate and experiences a full-bodied awakening like little else seen on screen. Grounding it all is Eva Melander’s outstanding, minutely sensitive performance, the true north for Abbasi’s genre-driven momentum. A NEON release.

The Wild Pear Tree – Monday, October 8 & Sunday, October 14

The gorgeous backdrop of rolling country and idyllic farmland are cold comfort to the frustrated hero of The Wild Pear Tree. Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) captures the wrenching struggles of a bright literary graduate, Sinan (Aydın Doğu Demirko), who is trying to take flight in a world he can’t entirely accept. Ceylan revives a deeply humanist cinema of ideas in tracking Sinan’s path through the more urgent questions of youth, romance, religious orthodoxy, and shaking off the burdens of your family—without ennobling the all-too-human Sinan. Often shooting in unbroken takes, Ceylan compellingly “renders the frustrations of this young man as so much misplaced passion” (Kent Jones, Film Comment). A Cinema Guild release.

Film Comment Live Free Talks

Photo by Sachyn Mital

The Cinema of Experience – September 29

At this year’s NYFF, filmmakers are rising to the challenge of representing diverse experiences at a pivotal time in our nation’s history. For our 2018 Cinema of Experience talk, we will discuss Asian and Asian American experience on and off screen, and in film criticism. Participants: Andrew Chan, web editor of the Criterion Collection and author of our September/October cover story on Burning starring Steven Yeun; Genevieve Yue, a professor of culture and media at the New School; David Ninh, director of press and publicity at Kino Lorber.

Filmmakers Chat – October 7

For the third year, Film Comment gives you the rare chance to see some of today’s most important filmmakers in dialogue with each other. A selection of directors whose films are screening at this edition of NYFF will discuss the art and craft of making movies, moderated by Film Comment editor-in-chief Nicolas Rapold.

Festival Wrap – October 10

In what is becoming an annual tradition, Film Comment contributing critics and editors gather for the festival’s final week and have a spirited discussion about the movies they’ve seen in the lineup, from the Main Slate and beyond. Participants: K. Austin Collins, critic at Vanity Fair; Michael Koresky, Director of Editorial and Creative Strategy at the Film Society of Lincoln Center; Molly Haskell, critic and author of From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies; Eric Hynes, curator of film at Museum of the Moving Image and Film Comment “Make It Real” columnist; Aliza Ma, head programmer of Metrograph.