Mike Fleming

The New York Film Festival has begun unveiling films for its 2013 program, and it begins with Captain Phillips, the Sony Pictures film that Paul Greengrass directed and Tom Hanks starred in as the captain who put himself in the hands of Somali pirates instead of his crew after the cargo ship he captained was hijacked in 2009. He was rescued in a dangerous mission by a Navy SEAL team. It seemed a good candidate to grace Gotham’s prestigious festival as the opening-night film. One of the film’s producers, Scott Rudin, is a New Yorker who brought The Social Network to the festival. And the film was conspicuously absent from the Toronto and Venice lineups. Here is the official word:

New York, NY, July 29, 2013 – The Film Society of LincoOoln Center announced today that Paul Greengrass’s CAPTAIN PHILLIPS will make its World Premiere as the Opening Night Gala presentation for the upcoming 51st New York Film Festival (September 27 – October 13). Starring two-time Academy Award® winner and 2009 Film Society Chaplin Award honoree Tom Hanks in the title role, the film is Academy Award®-nominated director Paul Greengrass’s multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates.

NYFF’s Director of Programming and Selection Committee Chair, Kent Jones said, “CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is a riveting experience. At this point in his working life, Paul Greengrass has become a master of immersive reality-based narratives set along geopolitical fault lines – in this case, the 2009 seizure of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship by four Somali pirates. I’m excited that this tough, tense, real-life thriller, capped by the remarkable performances of Tom Hanks and four brilliant first-time Somali actors (Barkhad Abdi, Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdirahman and Mahat M. Ali), is opening the 51st edition of the festival.”

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is—through Greengrass’s distinctive lens—simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two-time Academy Award® winner Tom Hanks), and his Somali counterpart, Muse (Barkhad Abdi). Set on an incontrovertible collision course off the coast of Somalia, both men will find themselves paying the human toll for economic forces outside of their control. From a screenplay by Billy Ray, CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is based upon the book, A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, by Richard Phillips with Stephan Talty. The film is produced by Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, and Michael De Luca. The Sony Pictures release is due in theaters October 11.

The screening will mark Greengrass’s return to NYFF following his film BLOODY SUNDAY in 2002.

“It is a pleasure to welcome back Paul Greengrass to the New York FIlm Festival with the world premiere of his gripping drama CAPTAIN PHILLIPS,” said. Rose Kuo, the Executive Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center. “Tom Hanks is terrific at capturing the vulnerability, terror and heroism of the harrowing journey of CAPTAIN PHILLIPS.

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