Friday, March 21, 2014

PLUG: First Time Fest

A new film festival is set for its 2nd annual edition in New York City with some exciting screenings, programs and panels in store. Read below for the full press release:

(New York, March 12, 2014) Following last year’s acclaimed first edition, FIRST TIME FEST is back, and it shows that the second time is even better. The Second Time Around for FIRST TIME FEST is set for April 3–7, 2014, and it will be based at their new home, NeueHouse (110 East 25th St.). NeueHouse will be the location for panels, workshops, selected film presentations, parties and the filmmaker lounge. Most screenings, including all the competition films, will take place at the AMC Loews Village 7 (11th St. & Third Ave.)

FIRST TIME FEST is a unique film festival celebrating first-time feature filmmakers. Aimed at discovering and providing exposure for the next generation of great filmmakers from around the world, FTF is a five-day event with a competition section showcasing new and exciting debut films, and a series of screenings and discussions with now-prominent filmmakers presenting their first films and then mentoring the first-timers.

Martin Scorsese, who presented Darren Aronofsky with the first John Huston Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema last year, stated, "This venture is very very important to encourage young filmmakers."

FTF will present ten Competition Films, which will be judged by a panel of industry luminaries and the FTF audience. All of the films in competition at FTF are the very first feature of the writer, director, producer, editor, cinematographer or composer of each film. All competition screenings will be followed by "Hot-Seat" discussions between the jury and filmmakers, and all audience members will vote on the films as well. Together, the jury and audience will ultimately select the Grand Prize winner, which is offered theatrical distribution and international sales representation from the renowned American film distributor, Cinema Libre Studio. And with FTF’s new relationship with Scandinavian Locations - the consortium of Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Danish film commissioners - the winning filmmaker will also receive a trip to Norway and Sweden to spend a week at a writer’s cottage in Northern Sweden to work on their next project. Scandinavian Locations will also be hosting our Filmmaker Kick-Off event on April 2 at NeueHouse.

FIRST TIME FEST’s retrospective series is called First Exposure and showcases the auspicious and ambitious debuts by artists who went on to become major filmmakers, with personal appearances by the filmmakers This year, our First Exposure series features: our Opening Night director Jennie Livingston presenting Paris is Burning, Albert Maysles (Salesman), Julie Taymor (Titus), Michael Moore (Roger & Me), Kelly Reichardt (River of Grass), Cinematographer Frederick Elmes (Eraserhead), James Toback (Fingers), and Peter Bogdanovich (Targets). This year’s First Exposure program kicked-off on February 24th with an out-of-fest screening of Robert De Niro’s directorial debut, A Bronx Tale, followed by a conversation with Mr. De Niro and FTF Director of Programming David Schwartz.

Our Stand Alone series will feature incredible conversations with Peter Bogdanovich, and Michael Moore.

Between films, we will be hosting an array of Industry Panels with notable producers, financiers, agents, composers, critics and other members of the entertainment industry. Panels at FTF are intimate gatherings between attendees and special guests where questions are encouraged and discussion is lively. Among the panels are "What’s Up, Doc;" "Help Me Help You;" "Show Me the Money;" "We Need a Bigger Boat – producing Independent Cinema;" "The Critical Eye;" "From Rock to Score" presented by the Grammys; and "Sell Baby Sell."

A special panel, Women in Entertainment and Media, sponsored by the by the Royal Bank of Canada Wealth Management Group, will include Brooke Shields, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Carol Alt.

This year’s Competition Films boast a diverse and exciting lineup of directorial debuts, with ten accomplished and exciting fiction and documentary feature films from Germany, Israel, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden and the United States. Some have played to acclaim at international film festivals, some are premieres. Submissions were open to feature-length films made with first-time directors, producers, writers, cinematographers, editors or composers. There is tremendous talent on display in these debut works, and the promise of many great films to come.

1982 USA. Director, Tommy Oliver. Set in Philadelphia at the onset of the crack epidemic, 1982 follows a father's efforts to protect his 10-year-old daughter from her drug-addled mother, while trying to steer her towards recovery. A grant recipient from the San Francisco Film Society and winner of the US in Progress award, 1982 premiered to great acclaim at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival.

Bittersweet USA/Netherlands. Director, Marieke Niestadt. A thrilling, intimate, and unpredictable sports documentary follows Australian kickboxer and WIBA World Champion Diana Prazik's seemingly impossible quest to defeat Frida Wallberg of Sweden.

Butter on the Latch USA. Director, Josephine Decker. At a Balkan music camp, one woman's respite devolves into a thrilling, psychosexual drama as her friendship and sanity are tested to extremes. Butter on the Latch had its international premiere at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival, alongside Decker's second film, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely.

Class Enemy Slovenia. Director, Rok Bicek. A group of students rallies against their new German professor when one of their classmates commits suicide. The film premiered at the 2013 Venice Film Festival, and was Slovenia's official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.

Fall to Rise USA. Director, Jayce Bartok. In this multi-layered and absorbing New York drama, a famous principal dancer (Daphne Rubin-Vega) struggles to uphold her identity when a knee injury relegates her to motherhood.

Getting to the Nutcracker USA. Director, Serene Meshel-Dillman. This behind-the-scenes look at The Marat Daukayev School of Ballet’s herculean efforts to stage The Nutcracker is an absorbing, intimate documentary that looks at the sacrifices and passion of its children dancers, ages three to eighteen.

Love Steaks Germany. Director, Jakob Lass. She is an alcoholic chef, he, a sensitive masseur. Together they forge an unlikely relationship in this energetic and darkly comic romance set at a sea-side resort, which won the Lions Film Award at the 2014 Rotterdam Film Festival.

Miss Julie Sweden. Director, Mikael Berg. A beautiful and bold new adaptation of Strindberg's classic battle of the sexes play set on a Midsummer’s night in a rustic mansion in 1920s Europe.

The Sleepwalker USA/Norway. Director, Mona Fastvold. A young couple's renovation plans are thwarted by the unexpected arrival of her estranged sister in this thriller starring co-screenwriter Brady Corbett, Christopher Abbott and Gitte Witt, which premiered in Competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

We will also be presenting three out-of-competition Special Screenings:

See You Next Tuesday USA. Director, Drew Tobia. A pregnant and abrasive grocery store clerk draws her troubled family close as she spirals toward her due date in this moving, dark comedy that recallsthe films of John Waters and Todd Solondz.

Nothing Left To Fear USA, Director, Anthony Leonard III. Producer/Composer, Slash. In this thrilling horror film, a family's journey toward a better life is interrupted by an unstable man of the cloth.

No festival happens on its own and we’d like to thank our sponsors and collaborators:

NeueHouse - A workspace, a social space and mind space. It is built on a set of ideas that inspire creativity, collaboration and commerce. We believe that where we work, determines how we work. Where we spend our days should be beautiful as well as highly productive. We believe that an environment can be high-tech, but also warm and hospitable. We believe that work life and social life can coalesce, naturally and productively. Most of all, we believe that where we work should be inspiring.

Royal Bank of Canada - Since our incorporation as a Canadian chartered bank in 1869, RBC has grown to become one of North America's leading diversified financial services companies providing banking, wealth management, insurance and capital markets services on a global basis.

Scandinavian Locations - Scandinavian Locations was founded in Stockholm in 2009 by the film commissions of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, and has a common aim to encourage the use of Scandinavian locations, facilities, talents and stories by the international audiovisual industry.

The members provide free-of-charge services to the industry, and are the first port of call for international producers eyeing a shoot in Scandinavia.

Village Voice has come aboard as the FTF’s Media Partner and has signed on for the next two years. Among the benefits of the collaboration will be Print, Web, Mobile and Email campaigns directed to VV subscribers and readers as well as an extensive Social Media management program.

Our world is increasingly less tolerant of the risks associated with supporting films by first time filmmakers. This creates an ever more challenging environment for filmmakers to create truly inspired content without the need to focus on fundraising and economic success. Unfortunately many festivals have become so large they only provide exposure to already prominent filmmakers, while others are too small to attract quality films. As a result, too many great films remain unseen and too many exceptional filmmakers undeveloped.

And so, FIRST TIME FEST was born.

Johanna Bennett and Mandy Ward are the co-founders of FIRST TIME FEST. As an accomplished philanthropist, actor, and social entrepreneur, as well as the daughter of singer Tony Bennett, Johanna Bennett has immersed herself within the entertainment and artistic community her entire life. Mandy Ward has worked in the film industry for the past decade in varied capacities, namely as a film producer of several projects. Mitch Levine, CEO of The Film Festival Group, is producing the festival. Through his company, Mitch offers consulting services and expertise to film festivals, film commissions, distribution companies and filmmakers around the world, and was formerly the CEO and Executive Director of the renowned Palm Springs International Film Festival. The Festival’s Director of Programming is David Schwartz, the Chief Curator of Museum of the Moving Image.

For Festival Information - Visit The Festival Website at

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