Lee is a member of a small group of filmmakers -- including Robert Altman, Pedro Almodovar and Francois Truffaut -- who have had more than one movie open the festival, the festival Web site noted. Lee's "The Ice Storm" kicked off the event in 1997 and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" closed the festival in 2000.
"'Life of Pi' is a perfect combination of technological innovation and a strong artistic vision," Richard Pena, Film Society program director and chairman of the NYFF selection committee, said in a statement Monday. "Ang Lee has managed to make a deeply moving, engrossing work that will delight audiences as much as it will astonish them. We're enormously proud to have this film for our opening night for the 50th NYFF."
"I am both delighted and honored to be back at the New York Film Festival with 'Life of Pi,'" Lee said. "I have the deepest respect for Richard Pena and his team and to be selected by them as the opening night film for the 50th anniversary is extremely gratifying. I am also excited because this is my hometown, and to be unveiling this film that I am so proud of here is a real pleasure."
"Life of Pi" will be released in theaters Nov. 21.