New York Film Festival Preview: Casting By

(Re-posted from Limité


Screening: Friday, October 12, 6:30pm

Venue: Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center, NYC

Series: NYFF50: Cinema Reflected

Much credit is given to the actors, directors, and writers of feature films and TV series, but little is known about the casting directors and their creative contributions to the successes (and failures) of these visual arts. Casting By is a terrific documentary that pulls back the curtain on the little-thought-about art of casting, with a particular emphasis placed on legendary casting director Marion Dougherty (Midnight Cowboy, 1969; The World According to Garp, 1982) for whom the film is dedicated. The documentary explores the early days of casting, when the discipline was more of a “clerical” role, organizing and filing actors’ headshots, to a more substantial practice that includes, in part, understanding the psychology of characters and the talents and qualities different actors bring to a part. The modern-day bureaucracy of the capitalist film industry and the casting director’s detractors (such as Ray director Taylor Hackford) are prominently explored, as well as the fact that the casting director position is the only main title credit on a film not to have its own Oscar category. The film’s greatest achievement is in its elevation of these unsung heroes of film and TV, proving their worth and showing how the guts and instincts of some of Hollywood’s greatest casting directors helped create some films and characters that will forever be etched in our minds as “classics.” In addition to Dougherty and other prominent casting directors, the documentary features some of Hollywood’s heaviest hitters, including Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall, Jeff Bridges, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Jon Voight, John Travolta, and others.

Limité Rating: 4/5

Director: Tom Donahue

Genre: Documentary

Country: USA

Runtime: 89 min.

The 50th New York Film Festival runs from September 28 – October 14, 2012.

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