For many years the N.Y. Film Festival has become more and more cloistered and dweeb-minded, less and less in the swing of things, eclipsed by Toronto, Telluride and Venice, folding more and more into its own curated, walled-off mentality, subsisting more and more on cultural goat’s milk and resting on the laurels of a diminishing reputation.

And then just like that & out of the blue…wham! David Fincher‘s highly anticipated The Social Network is announced as the opener of the 48th NYFF, Julie Taymor‘s The Tempest becomes the centerpiece and now Clint Eastwood‘s Hereafter has been booked as the the NYFF’s closing night attraction.

Yeah, I know — Eastwood’s films have played NYFF before.** It nonetheless seems that all of a sudden this once-moribund festival has a pulse again. My guess (and it’s only a guess) is that associate film programmer Scott Foundas, an astute and well-liked former film critic with solid industry relationships, has significantly contributed to the new vibe. Todd McCarthy, who’s joined the selection committee, is also feeding the flame.

All I know is that Foundas joined the Film Society of Lincoln Center late last year and McCarthy arrived last spring, and suddenly I’m feeling excited about the NYFF for the first time in…what, eight or nine years? Longer?

Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson wrote the following last November: “Unless Foundas screws up (as one-time heir apparent Kent Jones did), down the line he could be in a position to run the New York Film Festival. Why give up the gig as one of the country’s most powerful film critics otherwise? Eventually, 22-year NYFF veteran Richard Pena will move back to academia, [being] an associate professor at Columbia University.”

** There’s apparently a report that Hereafter might also turn up in Toronto — looking into this as we speak.