Captain Phillips to open New York Film Festival

Paul Greengrass' hijack thriller will kick off 51st edition.

by Amber Wilkinson

Captain Phillips has been named as the opening night film at this year's New York Film Festival.

The film, directed by Brit helmer Paul Greengrass will have its world premiere on September 27. The movie examines the 2009 hijacking of US container ship Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates and stars Tom Hanks in the title role.

NYFF’s director of programming and selection committee chair Kent Jones said: “Captain Phillips is a riveting experience. At this point in his working life, Paul Greengrass has become a master of immersive reality-based narratives set along geopolitical fault lines – in this case, the 2009 seizure of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship by four Somali pirates. I’m excited that this tough, tense, real-life thriller, capped by the remarkable performances of Tom Hanks and four brilliant first-time Somali actors (Barkhad Abdi, Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdirahman and Mahat M Ali), is opening the 51st edition of the festival.”

The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips and his Somali counterpart, Muse (Abdi). Set on a collision course off the coast of Somalia, both men will find themselves paying the human toll for economic forces outside of their control. From a screenplay by Billy Ray, the film is based upon the book, A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty.

The screening will mark Greengrass’s return to NYFF following his film Bloody Sunday in 2002.

Executive director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center Rose Kuo said: "Tom Hanks is terrific at capturing the vulnerability, terror and heroism of the harrowing journey of Captain Phillips."

The film festival will run from September 27 to October 13. Tickets will go on sale in mid-August. Eye For Film will be bringing you reports from the festival and you can read our previous coverage here.

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