It’s been a long journey for Rifkin’s Festival, the 49th film written and directed by Woody Allen. It was first released in Spain in late 2020 but has only been released in a handful of countries since. But Allen’s home country has finally announced a release – 28 January 2022. It will also be released in Mexico on 6 January 2022.
The official synopsis, below, is deliberately oblique and doesn’t give away some significant surprises.
Cinema devotee Mort Rifkin (Wallace Shawn) accompanies his publicist wife Sue (Gina Gershon) to the San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain, worried that her fascination with her young film director client, Philippe (Louis Garrel), might be more than professional. In addition, Mort hopes the change of scenery will provide a respite from his struggle to write a first novel that lives up to his impossibly exacting standards.
Turned off by the lavish praise showered on Philippe’s film, which he considers banal, Mort becomes preoccupied with the cinema classics he once taught as a professor, by masters like Bergman, Fellini, Godard, Truffaut, and Buñuel. Mort’s relentlessly dismissive opinions of Philippe, Sue’s current focus as a professional and someone she greatly admires, strains their already frayed relationship.
Mort’s mood lightens when he meets Dr. Jo Rojas (Elena Anaya), a kindred spirit whose marriage to tempestuous painter Paco (Sergi López) is also causing her pain. While Mort’s personal tastes have sometimes pushed people away, Jo’s intellect and shared sensibility draw them closer together.
While Sue spends her days with Philippe, Mort’s relationship with Jo deepens and he rekindles his love for classic films. Reflecting on the events of his life through the prism of those great movies, Mort finds renewed hope for his future.
Filled with absurdist humor, Woody Allen’s RIFKIN’S FESTIVAL blends unreal situations with interwoven tales of romance and heartache to create a loving tribute to the transformative power of film.
Rifkin’s Festival will hit US cinemas which seems to be finally finding some sort of momentum of releases. However, it will be released on digital platforms on the same day. It is released by MPI Media, who also released A Rainy Day In New York in the US.
Here’s the Mexican trailer. Interestingly, the film has a subtitle in Mexico. It’s called Rifkin’s Festival: Un Romance Equivocado, En El Lugar Adecuado – which translate to A Wrong Romance, In The Right Place. It’s not a bad subtitle for the film.
There’s still many major countries that have yet to release the film. Most notably France – who had announced a release date but then pushed it back. So far it has been released in Spain and Italy in terms of major markets. It’s had success on the decimated film festival circuit, playing the biggest festivals in Brazil, Hong Kong, Prague and more.
It seems Rifkin’s Festival is simply going to be a victim of the way of the world – the independent cinema circuit has just been destroyed in the last two years. The film is lovely and hopefully more people will see it on VOD. Meanwhile, Allen is prepping for a 50th film to be shot in Paris. It will be interesting to see if there will be any interviews in the lead up to the US release.
A small note – we have been on a bit of a break and working on other things, but we have been working on a lot of Woody Allen stuff. Production has been going well on the Woody Allen Pages Podcast season 2 and will be released soon!