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 Elinor Bunin Munroe Amphitheater at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Film Comment Free Talk: Best of 2018 – December 11, 2018

This year, Film Comment will unveil its much-anticipated Best of the Year poll live during a special Film Comment Free Talk! On December 11 at 7pm, join us in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Amphitheater at the Film Society of Lincoln Center for the full countdown, revealing the ten top films of the year, as voted upon by more than one hundred Film Comment contributors. Appearing in person to discuss—and perhaps debate—the results will be a selection of top critics, including K. Austin Collins, Molly Haskell, Sheila O’Malley, and Nick Pinkerton, moderated by FC Editor-in-Chief Nicolas Rapold. It’s the perfect start to the holiday movie season.

Film Comment Free Talk: Matt Dillon – December 13, 2018

In Lars von Trier’s hotly anticipated The House That Jack Built, star Matt Dillon leads us deep into the colorful criminal mind of Jack, serial killer, through a story of art and murder told in multiple parts. For our latest Film Comment Talk, we are pleased to welcome Matt Dillon to the Film Society of Lincoln Center for a conversation about this fascinating character—part of a career of indelible collaborations with auteurs including Francis Ford Coppola and Gus Van Sant.

Recent 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

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

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!

Ethan Hawke 

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 

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

Sandi Tan (Shirkers)

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.