Director Ang Lee has opened the 50th annual New York Film Festival with his adaptation of Yann Martel’s novel "Life of Pi." And the consensus from early reviews is that the film is visually gorgeous.
The 3-D film is an adaptation of the bestselling novel by Yann Martel, a fantasy tale about a boy marooned on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. The fable won Britain’s most prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize, in 2002.
Lee handpicked a newcomer from 3,000 candidates for the title role of the boy who drifts on the open sea with a tiger, zebra, orangutan and a hyena. Actor Suraj Sharma says he never even dreamed of landing the gig.
Suraj Sharma, actor of "Life of Pi", said, "My brother was called for the auditions and I kind of went along with him. He told me he’d buy me a Subway sandwich if I went with him. And the casting director, he told me you’re Indian, you’re teenage, and you might as well give it a shot. And I said ’might as well. I’m sitting here doing nothing.’ So I did and they called me back and then again and again and again and finally one day they said ’hey you come to Bombay and meet Ang.’ I was really nervous but I was so excited and I got ’Pi.’"
Lee has been working on the project for nearly four years, filming in his home of Taiwan and in India. The process of making the film was quite a journey for the Oscar-winning director, both personally and professionally.
Ang Lee, director, said, "It feels like there’s destiny, there’s faith but I cannot explain it. But like Pi says, I can feel it. I know it but I cannot prove it. Something in the air, in karma I guess. So I did have experience with that. The best part of the journey is when it’s by the ocean, when it’s dangerous, when you’re totally alert, that’s when you’re with God. You’ve been tested."
The New York Film Festival runs Sept. 28 to Oct. 14 with Robert Zemeckis’ensemble piece, "Flight," closing the festivities.