Todd McCarthy - former Variety critic and now the newest member of the New York Film Festival selection committee - recently posted a fascinating article on his Indiewire blog about the process by which the fest's small and esteemed committee arrives at their focused and particular line-up. It's a nifty inside look at the pleasures and rigors of cobbling together such a prestigious event - McCarthy writes of how the crew made a veritable film fort(night) of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater, hunkering down in there for 12-hour bombardments of submissions. The whole thing sounds like a prolonged Butt-Numb-A-Thon for the art film set as programmed by Film Society of Lincoln Center honcho Richard Pena, and paints a pretty amusing picture as to how a consensus on a film's quality might be made in the dark.
McCarthy makes sure to tease readers about which selections he regards as truly great films and which he was vehemently opposed to including in the fest at all, but one thing he's not coy about is how eagerly the committee awaited Terrence Malick's much discussed The Tree of Life. The fest newbie acknowledges that the notion of concluding their program with the world premiere of a new Malick film made the entire gang a bit giddy, referring to the potential coup as "The most brilliant closing night attraction ever." But it wasn't meant to be - at least not this year.