Toby Talbot


On her book The New Yorker Theater and Other Scenes from a Life at the Movies

Cover Interview of November 26, 2009


Peter Bogdanovich says the New Yorker Theater is where he got his education.  Bruce Goldstein, repertory program director of New York’s Film Forum, who now devotes his career to getting better 35mm prints of classic films, was first made aware of that era with a screening of Gold Diggers.

As distributors, we launched seminal films and directors: Ousmane Sembene, now regarded as the father of African cinema; independent filmmakers Shirley Clarke, Jim Jarmusch, and John Cassavetes; Cinema Novo’s Glauber Rocha, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, and Carlos Diegues; Chris Marker; Jacques Rivette; Jean Eustache; Werner Herzog; Nagisa Oshima; and Jean-Marie Straub and Daniele Huillet.

We had the good fortune to participate as distributor and exhibitor in a score of memorable films: Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Decalogue, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Ali: Fear Eats the Soul and Berlin Alexanderplatz, Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Sacrifice, Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy, the Dardenne Brother’s La Promesse and Le Fils, Hirokazu Koreeda’s Afterlife, Werner Herzog’s The Land of Silence and Darkness, and the Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Theo Angelopulis’s The Traveling Players, Ousmane Sembene’s Borom Sarret and Moolade, Yasujiro Ozu’s Tokyo Story, and Kenji Mizoguchi’s Sancho the Bailiff

At film festivals we were not on the lookout for blockbusters but for innovative works.  We pursued works of human resonance that inform and perpetuate the art of cinema, touchstones to re-see over and over and learn from.  The New Yorker Theater became a barometer to critical and popular taste, it helped to shape the sensibilities of a new generation.

© 2009 Toby Talbot