Cinema: Pictures at an Exhibition

The New York Film Festival, which opened its twelfth annual installment at Manhattan's Lincoln Center last week, could use a friendly, or at least a forbearing hand. Each year, a selection committee headed by Festival Director Richard Roud (who also functions as a critic for scholarly film magazines like Sight and Sound) picks a couple of dozen movies for showing, and promptly finds itself attacked on one of two fronts.

When many of the chosen films are guaranteed swift commercial release, the festival is accused of being a kind of swank showcase, the...

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