NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin and the New York Times are teaming up to do a spinoff, of sorts, of One Book, One New York, the “world’s largest community read” that you may have, if you’re a New Yorker, seen signs for in the subways. That program enabled New Yorkers to vote on one out of five books for the city to allegedly read “as one.” And apparently it worked out quite well, seeing sales for the book that was selected — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah — increasing by 400% in NYC Barnes and Nobles (yes, apparently they still do exist) and seeing book clubs throughout the city turning their sights towards the same novel. Now, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment is attempting it with film — with the help of NYT’s film critics — through the just-announced One Film, One New York program.
The selection of five film nominees this time around came from NYT film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, and New Yorkers can, today through the end of August, cast their vote on their favorite (or the one they’d most like to see) of the five. The winner will screen in all five boroughs of the city on Wednesday, September 13, for free, both in parks and movie theaters. The main criterion was that the films had to be shot on the New York City streets and “reflect the unique, diverse sounds and musical traditions of The Big Apple.” (With Martin Scorsese’s meandering flop New York, New York nominated, it certainly seems like the NYC-soundtrack/homage component may have played just as much of a role as overall quality — though most films on here manage to possess both.)
A.O. Scott said in a statement:
Since the very beginning of motion pictures, New York has presented many faces to the camera. It’s glamorous and gritty, tough and magical, an inexhaustible landscape of skyscrapers and tenements, bridges and tunnels, rooftops and sidewalks. It is also an endless sea of human faces and stories. No single movie can capture all of it, but hundreds if not thousands have tried to be true to the city in some ways. We all have our favorites. Even though, as New Yorkers, we like to argue, maybe we can all come together and agree on a movie–one that reflects who we are or who we dream of being, one that finds the true music of the city amidst the noise and chatter.
The nominees are: Spike Lee’s 1994 film, Crooklyn, Gene Kelly/Stanley Donen’s 1949 On the Town, Scorsese’s New York, New York (1977), Susan Seidelman’s Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), and Ang Lee’s 1993 film The Wedding Banquet (which screened in New York not too long ago, as part of Metrograph’s Queer 90s series last October).
Similar to One Book, each film comes with its own NYC celebrity video endorsements. Here, for example, is Laverne Cox encouraging votes for Desperately Seeking Susan:
And John Leguizamo on Crooklyn (“One of the best things about Crooklyn is its soundtrack — it’s composed from music right out of the 70s. It’s such a dope choice, and I’m not just saying that because Spike is one of my oldest friends; but maybe.”):
And here’s Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness on On the Town:
And Katie Holmes on The Wedding Banquet:
And Sting and Trudie Styler rooting for New York, New York: