NEW YORK (AP) _ The spotlight is on American filmmaking at the 24th New York Film Festival, which opens with Jim Jarmusch's ''Down by Law'' and closes with Francis Ford Coppola's romantic comedy, ''Peggy Sue Got Married.''

Still, the flavor remains international with a musical from Brazil, a portrait of Marlene Dietrich from West Germany and a tale of teen-age rebellion from Taiwan.

There also is ''Sid and Nancy,'' the dark and disturbing story of Sid Vicious of the Sex Pistols and his girlfriend by British filmmaker Alex Cox, and Claude Miller's ''Charlotte and Lulu,'' a drama of an adolescent girl on the brink of womanhood.

''Down by Law'' is Jarmusch's second film to be presented by the New York Film Festival. It will debut Sept. 19 as the festival of 26 movies begins at Lincoln Center.

The black-and-white movie stars John Lurie (''Stranger Than Paradise''), Tom Waits and Roberto Benigni as three imprisoned men wrongly accused of crimes. They escape from a Louisiana prison and crawl through the murky bayou to freedom.

''Peggy Sue Got Married,'' which closes the festival on Oct. 5 and stars Kathleen Turner, is the story of a contemporary woman who is about to get a divorce but who is allowed to rewrite her destiny by returning to her 1960 high school reunion with her 1980s sensibility.

The comedy is something of a departure for Coppola, who made the ''Godfather'' movies before falling from grace in Hollywood with ''One From the Heart.''

'''Peggy Sue' is a totally pleasurable and satisfying film without a mean bone in its body,'' said Richard Roud, director of the festival.

''The film is something unusual and precious these days - a romantic comedy without a chase scene or car crash, with likeable characters and a story that moves easily from one engaging scene to the next.''

As a part of the festival, there will be 10 short films. All but four are by American filmmakers: Anita Thacher, Scott Laster, Jane Aaron, Ruth Charny, Chuck Workman, Michael Sciulli and Melissa White.

One of the most awaited films this year is Bertrand Tavernier's ''Round Midnight,'' a poignant elegy of an expatriate jazz musician in Paris in the 1950s. Starring saxophonist Dexter Gordon in his acting debut, the movie gathers one of the most astounding cadres of living jazz artists with a freshly recorded score. It is dedicated to the late Bud Powell, whose life is mirrored in the movie.

Ten of the 26 movies at this year's event are by directors who are making their festival debuts. They include: David Byrne, the leader of Talking Heads, made ''True Stories,'' a sort of contemporary ''Our Town''; Leon Marr, a newcomer from Canada, will show his psychological drama, ''Dancing in the Dark''; Maximilian Schell's ''Marlene'' is a portrait of the legendary screen star.

''A Time to Live and a Time to Die,'' by Hou Hsiao-hsien, is the first Taiwanese film to be shown in the festival. It is an autobiographical movie about teen-age rebellion and divesting of old values.

Aviva Slesin makes her directorial debut at the festival with ''Directed by William Wyler,'' a documentary about the famed filmmaker.

The festival also will present a special retrospective of Wyler's ''Dodsworth,'' starring Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton and Mary Astor, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

To honor the Cinematheque Francaise's 50th anniversary, the festival will screen ''The Wedding March.'' Directed by and starring Erich von Stroheim, the movie depicts the collapse of Viennese aristocracy.