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High Profile Film Festivals Are More Accessible, But Move Quickly If You Want To 'Attend'

One of the very few things that’s actually been pretty good about our current state is that the ability to watch new movies has become more democratic. Of course, I’m of the opinion that all movies are better on a big screen, so I’m definitely not saying what we’ve got right now is better, but because high profile film festivals have had to get creative, some of them have made their movies accessible to people everywhere.

This isn’t true of all of them—bizarrely, Toronto reportedly made it even harder to get tickets than usual, but others, including our own Tallgrass festival, have opened things up. More on Tallgrass another time, but I bring all this up because the New York Film Festival is going on right now, and it’s big time. And, most importantly, you can watch its movies from your home in Wichita, or Newton, or Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, or wherever you are right now.

Now, you’re not going to find Christopher Nolan’s Tenet there, or—well, that’s about the only thing in regular theaters right now-- but you will find movies from some of the world’s best filmmakers that won’t be publicly released for months. Director Steve McQueen, who made the Best Picture-winning 12 Years a Slave, actually has three movies in the festival, as he’s made a five-film anthology that’s set for release at the end of this year. I’ve already bought tickets to see two of those. Spike Lee’s film of musician David Byrne’s production American Utopia is also there, and I actually saw that concert live a few years back, and it’s a total knockout.

They’re showing stuff from all corners of the globe, but you’ll have to move fast—by the time I even knew about any of this, tickets were sold out for the movie I would have been most excited about, Nomadland, from director Chloe Zhao, who previously made The Rider, which I thought was the best movie of 2017. This new one features what some people are calling the best performance of Frances McDormand’s career.

And New York’s just an example—the Ottawa International Animation Festival starts in just a couple of days and I’m going to check that one out, too. Right now, while we’re all feeling so disconnected, maybe, at least, we can feel a little more together through the movies.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.