Cinema: Festival Attraction, Side-Show Action

Most film festivals give prizes—which is why they seem to resemble the kind of raucous television M.C. who calls more attention to himself than to those he introduces. Lincoln Center's New York Film Festival, which opened last week, has always been more seemly than its European counterparts, because it gives no awards; thus there are never any egos jockeying backstage for the coveted Silver Palm or Golden Frog.

This year that policy seems wiser than ever. In the past, Lincoln Center featured new films by the creative experimenters of the art-house circuit—Bufiuel, Resnais,...

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