Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly. Barbara Streisand’s Fanny Brice. Mia Farrow’s Rosemary.
These are some of the most iconic characters in movie history and they are all very definitively New York women, inseparable from the big screen city they call home in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “Funny Girl” and “Rosemary’s Baby.”
The Quad Cinema will feature them and dozens of their counterparts in the retrospective “The New York Woman,” which runs June 29 through July 19 and spotlights more than 50 movies centered around independent female protagonists who take the city by storm.
The festival features titles spanning nearly a century of cinematic history, including every conceivable style and genre. They’re unified, programmers say, by the strength and depth of the women at the center.
“It’s always crucial to screen and promote films where female characters are actual honest-to-goodness characters, fully formed people and not just plot devices,” says senior programmer C. Mason Wells.
“Movies where women are not the love interests — they have the love interests, not to mention their own professional ambitions, private passions, and political concerns,” he adds. “And what better setting for these tenacious women’s stories than New York, with five boroughs full of tremendous opportunity and often staggering hardship.”
The selection includes familiar classics, of course, but also features a robust collection of independent, offbeat movies that are far less widely seen than, say, “Crossing Delancey” or Doris Day and Rock Hudson in “Pillow Talk.”
Take Susan Seidelman’s “Smithereens,” for instance. The 1982 movie, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival, captures the faded East Village punk scene from the perspective of a New Jerseyan named Wren (Susan Berman) with dreams of making her mark on it.
Seidelman says the city signifies the promise of something more for the women in her films and others showing at the Quad, and she notes that the journeys of the strivers on-screen speak to a particular form of inner strength and resolve.
“The city provides a perfect setting for stories about women who are seeking something — whether it be work, romance, adventure or the freedom to simply live their lives on their own terms,” she says. “Learning how to navigate the frenetic push and pull of NYC life can be exciting or challenging — but it makes you tough.”
It is the idea of persevering, of facing the challenges of life as a woman in the big city head on and coming out the other side, that connects each of these movies, according to Wells.
“I hope seeing them together will be therapeutic and inspiring — despite all the bad dates and bad bosses and bad apartments and bad transportation this city has to offer, here are dozens of persistent female characters surviving and thriving,” he says.
Tickets for screenings ($16 each) are sold individually and can be purchased through Fandango. Screen times and the full list can be found at quadcinema.com.
These are some of the festival’s many highlights:
Three decades after its 1988 release, we’re still idolizing Melanie Griffith’s Tess, a Staten Island “working girl” who isn’t settled with “secretary” being the peak of her career. The film, which also stars Harrison Ford and Sigourney Weaver in leading roles, screens July 2 and 3.
She’s your Auntie Mame, the “wild, wacky and wonderful” caretaker who plays by her own rule book. The character made famous in 1958 by Rosalind Russell screens for one-day only, July 1.
‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’
The free-spirited, self-sufficient and admittedly melodramatic Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) left her mark on New York City. So much so, we’re flocking to the jewelry empire’s Fifth Avenue location to sit down for a literal breakfast at Tiffany’s. Truman Capote’s iconic novel-turned-movie screens July 4 and July 7.
Barbra Streisand’s Oscar-winning performance as Fanny — a young actress striving for the Broadway stage — hits the big screen on July 4.
‘Just Another Girl on the I.R.T.’
Chantel (Ariyan A. Johnson) wasn’t about to be “just another girl” from Brooklyn. The city-set film told the fresh story of a black teen living in government housing and took only 17 days to make. Director Leslie Harris will join the July 14 screening.
Johnny (Danny Aiello) loves Loretta (Cher) who loves Ronny (Nicholas Cage). Following? The Italian-American love story throwback screens July 2 and 6.
The classic NYC horror movie starring Mia Farrow in the leading role boasted plenty of city scenes and haunts screens July 13 and 16.