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New York Film Festival pays tribute to the classics

Zhang Ziyi appears in a scene from the

Zhang Ziyi appears in a scene from the film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. (AP/Sony Pictures) Photo Credit: Zhang Ziyi appears in a scene from the film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. (AP/Sony Pictures)

The past two decades of film history would not be the same without Sony Pictures Classics. In the 20 years since its founding, the studio specialty label has become a standard-bearer for the distribution of high-profile independent movies, including the current releases “Take Shelter” and “Restless.”

So it’s fitting that the New York Film Festival is celebrating the Madison Avenue-based company.

The fest, which runs through Oct. 14, is doing so implicitly, with four soon-to-be-released Sony Pictures Classics flicks among its selections (“Carnage,” “A Dangerous Method,” “A Separation” and “The Skin I Live In”).

And it’s doing so explicitly, with a special tribute to the studio. Tonight, NYFF selection committee chairman Richard Peña hosts a public conversation with SPC co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard that will be followed by a special showing of the studio’s classic “Howard’s End.”

We look back at some of the many (and we do mean many) prominent cinematic offerings to stem from this New York institution:

‘Howard’s End’ (1992)
The first movie released by SPC remains one of the best, a passionate take on the Edwardian England-set E.M. Forster novel, with an impressive cast headed by Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. From the team of Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, the movie earned Thompson an Oscar for Best Actress.

‘Lone Star’ (1996)
John Sayles’ exploration of the dark, generation-spanning secrets at the heart of a Texas border town is a masterful study of stark personal deception. It’s also the finest work Matthew McConaughey has ever done.

‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (2000)
Ang Lee emphasized his chameleonic bona fides when he followed up his Civil War drama “Ride With the Devil” with this martial arts movie starring Chow Yun-Fat and Michelle Yeoh, and filled with repressed romance and balletic swordfights. Two movies couldn’t be more different.

‘The Triplets of Belleville’ (2003)
Sylvain Chomet’s throwback effort relies on a retro style of animation, a vivid soundtrack and the sort of imagination that so often seems to be missing from the big screen these days.

‘Rachel Getting Married’ (2008)
Anne Hathaway was no longer that girl from “The Princess Diaries” after she wowed her way to an Oscar nomination as the furious younger sister of a bride-to-be in Jonathan Demme’s perceptive character study.

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