“I went through this 12 times, and I was never really nervous, but it’s new to our eyes,” said Ang Lee after the world premiere of his film “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” at the New York Film Festival on Friday, October 14. He’s referring to his 12 previous feature films as a director — “Billy Lynn” is lucky 13. He told the audience in attendance, “Whatever you think, I want to thank you for coming here to share this precious moment with me and with all of us” (watch above).
Before the screening began, Lee urged festival-goers to keep an open mind. But why would the two-time Oscar-winning veteran behind “Brokeback Mountain” and “Life of Pi” be nervous at all? Well, it’s because “Billy Lynn” is a audacious technical experiment in addition to being a challenging emotional story about Iraq War soldiers coping with the spotlight after being branded heroes for their actions on the battlefield. Like “Life of Pi” this film is shot in 3D, but in addition it’s also shot in 4K ultra-high-definition resolution at 120-frames-per-second — for those keeping score, films are normally shot at 24-frames-per-second. As a result, “Billy Lynn” looks different from anything that has ever appeared on a movie screen. So it was hard to tell, even from the director’s chair, if it would work.
Actor Chris Tucker assured him that “visually it was incredible.” Producer Marc Platt added, “On behalf of people who love film, to create such an immersive experience that is so new — it’s hard to process everything … To be part of something where, as you’ve done your whole career, you continue to push the envelope and find cinematic grammar that none of us has ever thought about … I’m indebted to you.”
The film’s star, first-time film actor Joe Alwyn, was also on hand. He discussed what it was like to experience the film both as an actor and as a viewer: “It was terrifying, it was scary, it was overwhelming, it was brilliant, it was fun … I feel incredibly lucky.”
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