By Isabel Garcia-Sosa
The 61st annual New York Film Festival (NYFF) showcased an impressive lineup of over a hundred cinematic stories, reminding all in attendance of the magic of cinema's communal experience. Amid various screenings, the premiere of Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla conveyed the festival's commitment to showcasing exceptional works, emphasizing the impact of cinema as a medium for the exploration of human emotion through various narratives.
Watch the trailer for PRISCILLA:
Priscilla Film Premiere At New York Film Festival 61: Cast And Crew Welcome Audiences With A Statement From Sofia Coppola
It was impossible not to notice the excitement among the attendees at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Conversations buzzed with anticipation about Priscilla. The much-awaited event began with opening remarks from the NYFF's artistic director, Dennis Lim. The stage was then filled with the film’s creative team, who were met with tremendous applause, including lead actors Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi (Priscilla and Elvis Presley respectively), costume designer Stacey Battat, production designer Tamara Deverell, and producer Youree Henley.
The absence of the film's director, Sofia Coppola, did not go unnoticed, but the cast and crew presented a beautiful statement with the director’s explanation. Cailee Spaeny read the sentiment to the audience: “I am so sorry to not be there with you, but I am with my mother, for whom this film is dedicated. Thank you to my great team who helped make this film. Thank you to the New York Film Festival, Dennis Lim and A24.”
How Does Priscilla Portray The Lives Of Priscilla Presley And Elvis?
This cinematic masterpiece, executive produced by none other than Priscilla Presley herself and based on her memoir Elvis and Me, paints a portrait of her complicated, turbulent journey alongside the iconic Elvis Presley. With the backdrop of Baz Luhrmann's 2022 blockbuster biopic Elvis still in the public’s minds, Priscilla offers a fresh perspective on the enchanting fairytale-like romance between Priscilla Beaulieu Presley and the King of Rock and Roll.
It begins with Elvis's courtship of Priscilla as a high school freshman in Germany, and portrays the young girl's belief in an idyllic love story, with a pop sensation captivated by her innocence. As the narrative unfolds, we see Elvis through the lens of a woman trapped in a toxic relationship, dancing on the line between charm and maliciousness. Priscilla's character develops from a sweet and naive girl thrust into the unforgiving public eye, who struggles to find her own voice at each stage of her tumultuous life. The film highlights a distinctly feminine perspective, showing the stark juxtaposition of love, agony, and selflessness within an unraveling perfect romance, all under the guidance of Priscilla Presley and the directorial finesse of Sofia Coppola.
Audience reaction to Priscilla was prevalent throughout the screening, with the hall filled with frequent laughter and surprised gasps, culminating in a roar of applause as the final scene faded.
Behind The Scenes Of Priscilla: New York Film Festival Q&A Highlights Creative Team's Bonding Experiences
Following the screening, the NYFF hosted a Q&A session which provided a glimpse into the intense work required in a thirty-day filmmaking whirlwind. Cailee Spaeny, while expressing her gratitude to costume designer Battat, noted how, "In the morning, I was pregnant, and after lunch, I was 14 years old." She then described the privilege of learning and emulating the mannerisms of the "American Royalty" that is Priscilla Presley.
The team fondly reminisced about the camaraderie, the challenges of a tight budget, and the profound bonding experiences that transpired over an intense month of filmmaking. They emphasized their meticulous attention to physical details as essential to authentically "recreating" the various time periods and facets of the story. Priscilla’s dedicated cast and crew ensured that the phenomenal film left every member of the audience with an unfading impression of its heroine’s complicated strength. The power of film to transcend the boundaries of time and culture has been evident throughout NYFF’s 2023 season, and has succeeded in bringing all closer to the heart of human experience.
For more on the New York Film Festival, visit filmlinc.org/nyff2023. PRISCILLA comes to theatres nationwide November 3, 2023.
Isabel Garcia-Sosa is a passionate student and writer who enjoys seeing the world from various viewpoints by connecting with people. She can be found on Instagram at @isaaa.
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Featured image: Still from PRISCILLA (C) A24, courtesy of New York Film Festival / Film at Lincoln Center