Willem Dafoe, Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Leslie Mann, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, and Alec Baldwin star in the actor's second feature as director

By Joey Nolfi
August 02, 2019 at 12:00 PM EDT
Glen Wilson/Warner Bros.

Motherless Brooklyn has found a home at the New York Film Festival.

Three-time Oscar-nominated performer Edward Norton‘s second feature as director will close the 57th edition of the annual cinema event this fall with a Friday, Oct. 11 screening at the Alice Tully Hall in Manhattan.

Based on Jonathan Lethem’s novel of the same name, Motherless Brooklyn stars Norton, Willem Dafoe, Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Leslie Mann, Cherry Jones, and Alec Baldwin in a neo-noir tale of a lonely private detective (Norton) with Tourette syndrome who entangles himself in a multilayered conspiracy encompassing 1950s New York’s racial divide — all while a devious politician (Baldwin) plots nefarious machinations of his own.

In a press statement, NYFF director Kent Jones called the film a “wildly imaginative and extravagant love letter to New York” as well as “a beautifully told hard-boiled yarn,” while Norton noted the film “grew out of my love affair with New York.”

Expected to be one of many films in serious contention for voter affection in the awards season ahead, Motherless Brooklyn features a wealth of esteemed craftspeople among its crew, including editing and cinematography by Oscar nominees Joe Klotz (Precious) and Dick Pope (Mr. Turner), respectively, as well as a score by Golden Globe nominee Daniel Pemberton, orchestration by the Emmy-nominated Wynton Marsalis, and an original song by Grammy-winning musician Thom Yorke.

The film was previously announced to screen at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival in September, though its NYFF event is billed as a New York premiere, meaning it will likely hit Colorado’s Telluride Film Festival before heading north to Canada.

Motherless Brooklyn‘s production previously made headlines when, on the evening of March 22, 2018, a fire broke out in a cellar beneath the film’s set. A 37-year-old FDNY firefighter, Michael Davidson, was killed while battling the blaze. Norton’s production company, Class 5 Films, was subsequently sued by residents of the building destroyed in the fire.

NYFF 2019 — which will also host the world premiere of Martin Scorsese’s long-awaited gangster drama The Irishman as well as a Centerpiece screening of Noah Baumbach’s Scarlett Johansson-Adam Driver drama Marriage Story — runs from Sept. 27 to Oct. 13. Tickets go on sale to the general public Sept. 8, while VIP passes are on sale now.

Motherless Brooklyn is expected to be released domestically on Nov. 1.

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