The New York Film Festival starts today (kicking off with former Movie Poster of the Week star Wild Grass) so I thought it only fitting this week to feature the official festival poster, which is one of the best the festival has produced in many years. The poster (which fellow New Yorkers may have seen all over the subway) follows in the NYFF tradition of using major artists with a cinematic bent to promote the city’s toniest celebration of cinema. Past posters have used works by Warhol, Hockney, Rauschenberg, Frank Stella, Pop artist Larry Rivers, Op Art-ist Henry Pearson and (last year) Photorealist Robert Cottingham. There have also been posters using storyboards by Scorsese, oil paintings by director Maurice Pialat and critic Manny Farber, and graphic creations by fashion designer agnès b. and Almodóvar favorite Juan Gatti. There has also been a strong tradition of using the work of photographers, and past posters have featured the work of William Wegman, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Mary Ellen Mark and, um, Jeff Bridges. This year the festival is using two takes on a work by contemporary art star Gregory Crewdson. Brooklyn-born photographer Crewdson, who was featured by Chris Chang in Film Comment a few years ago, creates ineffably mysterious, subtly dramatic large format color photos by working much like a Hollywood film director. He works with a large crew, including lighting expert Rick Sands (who was chief lighting technician on Coppola's Dracula and Spielberg's A.I.), and spends days setting up a single shot, ultimately creating a movie in a single frame. The Film Society of Lincoln Center and designer Karen Weeks have emphasized this aspect of Crewdson's work by making two posters this year: one a production still from the shoot, and one the finished photograph. Both are gorgeous.
Film festival posters are a mixed bag as a whole. One can only see so many variations on film reels and sprocket holes. But one other festival poster I've really liked this year is this kinetic illustration for the New Zealand Film Festival with its airline poster typography. It's own use of a film strip is nicely disguised. (The poster was designed by Wellington’s own Ocean Design group whose website, coincidentally, opens up with a remarkably Crewdson-esque scene.)