The New York Film Festival will screen the first work-in-progress in its 29-year-history when it presents Disney's unfinished "Beauty and the Beast" during this year's festival.
While not the first animated feature ever shown at the festival--Warner Bros.' 1979 "The Road Runner Movie" holds that distinction--"Beauty and the Beast" is the first animated Disney film to be included on the festival program.
"Beauty and the Beast," slated for release Nov. 22, will be about 70% completed when it is shown Sept. 29 at the festival. While the soundtrack will be complete, viewers will see portions of the film in various degrees of completion--"fully-drawn color animation down to line sketches and everything in between," said Wendy Keyes, executive producer/programming for the festival.
Disney approached the festival in early August about presenting "Beauty," which was selected from about 600 entries to be among this year's 28 programs (some of which include two complementary films). "We discussed it and decided it would be a unique opportunity for for people to see the different stages of animation," said Disney spokeswoman Terry Press. "I don't think that most people realize that, unlike live-action movies, animation starts with an idea in someone's brain, and a pencil."
"It's a special event," Keyes said. "Sometimes we show silent films with orchestras (or other special presentations); this year, we're showing this incomplete animation film. The astounding thing is for me is that it is able to hold your interest through all different phases of the process.
"Our experience was that you don't lose any of the narrative or emotional impact by going to the cruder work. I'm a sucker for these things, but I really was still scared of the Beast, even when he was a line drawing."
Except for the possible inclusion of short films, "Beauty and the Beast" will be the only animated film included in this year's festival. The festival may show some older Disney cartoons or film clips to contrast today's sophisticated animation with earlier work.
Several of "Beauty's" 500 animators, artists and technicians, as well as some of the actors providing the characters' voices, will probably be on hand to discuss their work with the audience.
Disney's Press said that, except for the occasional use of computers to assist in some background animation, the painstaking illustration process has remained virtually unchanged over the years. "Beauty and the Beast," with a budget estimated at $15 million, took four years to complete and is Disney's 30th full-length animation feature; the first was 1937's "Snow White." The studio's most recent animated offering was 1989's "The Little Mermaid," the most successful animated film ever released.
The New York Film Festival will be held Sept. 20-Oct. 6 at Lincoln Center. Other highlights include an opening night screening of Polish director Krysztof Kieslowski's "The Double Life of Veronique," starring Cannes best actress prize winner Irene Jacob in the dual role of a Polish woman and a Parisian woman who look alike but lead radically different lives; the late Luchino Visconti's 1960 film "Rocco and his Brothers"; the late Jacques Demy's 1982 "A Room in Town"; Jim Jarmusch's "Night on Earth" and Gus Van Sant's "My Own Private Idaho," starring Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix.
"Homicide," written and directed by David Mamet, will close the festival.