NYFF 2021 poster revealed

Designer Kara Walker explains her idea

by Anne-Katrin Titze

59th New York Film Festival poster, designed by Kara Walker
59th New York Film Festival poster, designed by Kara Walker

Film at Lincoln Center revealed today the 59th New York Film Festival poster designed by Kara Walker. Last year’s poster was designed pre-pandemic by John Waters and featured Martin Scorsese, Pedro Almodóvar, Barry Jenkins, Agnès Varda, and Jean-Luc Godard. Opening Night Gala selection is Joel Coen’s The Tragedy Of Macbeth, starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand; Jane Campion's adaptation of Thomas Savage’s novel The Power Of The Dog with Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Kodi Smit-McPhee is the Centerpiece selection, and Pedro Almodóvar’s Parallel Mothers, starring Penélope Cruz and Milena Smit will close the festival.

Kara Walker says of her design: “I photographed the two cut paper figures silhouetted against the white backdrop of a shadow puppet screen in a number of cryptic scenarios. The initial result had the tonal quality of a grainy black-and-white film clip, but I was annoyed that there was no actual story. In post production—meaning, while fiddling with Photoshop—I cropped another of the characters from the shoot: the figure of a raging, menacing jackbooted man with a little red tissue paper around him. As I moved that crop around, it fit neatly into an outstretched hand like the cellphone that was missing all along.

"Suddenly, it is two women watching a man behave in some kind of way, as if fictional character Topsy foiled evil plantation master Simon Legree by filming him and then sharing it. The many events we are witness to, both absurd and horrifying, grand and quotidian, that are shared on small screens, resonated as a counterpoint to the legacy of cinema and the history of the New York Film Festival. What to make of the amateur filmmakers equipped with just cell phones and a critical eye?”

The 2020 New York Film Festival runs from September 24 through October 10, 2021

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