Magazine article The New Yorker


Magazine article The New Yorker


Article excerpt


The New York Film Critics Circle Awards, held last Monday at Tao, in the Maritime Hotel, united filmmakers and movie stars with the critics who had nominated them. Before the ceremony, near the bar, Ellar Coltrane, the star of "Boyhood," talked with Pawel Pawlikowski, the director of "Ida," and a civilian; Bob Balaban bumped into a writer and said, "Please forgive me." In a corner, away from critics, the recipient of the ceremony's Special Award, Adrienne Mancia--an eighty-seven-year-old longtime MOMA and BAM film curator, who introduced New York audiences to Pasolini, de Oliveira, Cinema Novo, European animation, Bertolucci, and other provocative delights--talked with her friend Bill Murray, who would present her award.

Mancia, who is short ("I used to be five-two; now I'm hoping I'm five") and is known for wearing dark glasses everywhere ("We all have our specialties"), wore a thick black sweater embroidered with red flowers. Murray, gray-haired and nattily turned out, reminisced about their long friendship. "Let's get our story straight," he said. "We met through Helen Scott, in New York." That was around 1983. "Helen Scott was a famous--"

"Wonderful, very important woman," Mancia said.

"Who I met through Bob Benton," Murray said. ("Kramer vs. Kramer.")

"She was head of the French Film Office."

"She brought the Nouvelle Vague to the States, and brought it to Adrienne."

"She was a close friend of Truffaut."

"She was the translator in 'Hitchcock/Truffaut,' " Murray said. He held up a yellowed typewritten note. "I have a letter from her that Adrienne found, and I'm mentioned in it." He said it was about "these grandes dames of the cinema--what were they going to do when time marches on?" It mentioned Murray escorting Scott around Paris. "I enjoyed taking her around. That's sort of my job sometimes, I understand that," he said.

"She knew all the dirty words in French," Mancia said.

"She could really curse. She could really, really curse," Murray added.

Mancia, who was born in Brooklyn, spent much of her three-decade tenure at MOMA travelling to film festivals around the world, finding new work. She also encountered a half century's worth of luminaries, among them Roberto Rossellini, Lillian Gish, Dolores del Rio, Luis Bunuel ("He invited me to his house. He had a case of guns"), Leni Riefenstahl, in a startling phone call ("I happen to be Jewish. I couldn't talk to her"), Pasolini ("I'm in one of his poems--he talks about 'walking in New York with Adrienne Mancia'--the biggest thrill of my life!"), and Steven Spielberg, who had a movie in the 1974 New Directors/New Films series, which Mancia co-founded ("And look what happened to him! …

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