The main program for the 50th anniversary edition of the New York Film Festival is out with a new Alan Berliner documentary to premiere.
New York based documentary filmmaker, Alan Berliner has been an avid chronicler of the American family since his first broadcasted documentary,The Family Album premiered in 1986. In the documentary, Berliner used anonymous 16mm home movies (belonging to more than 75 different families) from the 1920s to the 1950s to create a kaleidoscopic portrait of the American family.
His latest film First Cousin Once Removed, continues Berliner’s investigation using his own family as primary reference. The film is a chronicle of poet and translator Edwin Honig’s loss of memory, language and his past due to the onslaught of Alzheimer’s.
“Berliner—for whom Honig was a cousin, a friend and a mentor—documented their meetings over five years," the festival blurb states. "His new film chronicles the steady decline of Honig’s mind and body, but also the strength and stamina of his spirit, as well as his innate charm and wonderfully playful way with words and sounds. Occasional moments of lucidity offer an insight as to the ways in which Honig attempts to make sense out of what is happening to him. First Cousin Once Removed is an unflinching essay on the fragility of being human, and a stark reminder of the profound role that memory plays in all of our lives.”
Berliner is no stranger to NYFF. In 1991 he premiered his documentary, Intimate Stranger at the festival. The film explores the life story of Berliner's maternal grandfather Joseph Cassuto, a Palestinian Jew raised in Egypt whose “lifelong passion for Japan created confusion and conflict in his post-World War II Brooklyn home”.
First Cousin Once Removed is one of four films, together with films by Ang Lee, David Chase and Robert Zemekis to have its world premiere at the festival. The 50th New York Film Festival runs from September 28th – October 14th in New York City.
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