New European Film Festival Announced At Tribeca Film Festival

First Film Festival In Eastern Europe Devoted To Contemporary and Classic American Cinema

The AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL (AFF), the first film event in Eastern Europe solely devoted to the works of contemporary and classic American cinema, was announced this week during the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. The first edition of the AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL will be held from October 20 to 24, 2010 in the cultural heritage city of Wroclaw, Poland (featured this week in the New York Times as one of the hot travel destinations in Europe). The event is being organized by the New Horizons Association, which also presents the ERA NEW HORIZONS International Film Festival (www.enh.pl), fast becoming the most important film festival in the region, in late July/early August also in the city of Wroclaw.

“The Tribeca Film Festival has a worldwide reputation as an event that embraces independent cinema from around the world, with a special focus on the works of contemporary American independent artists”, Programming Director Urszula Sniegowska announced. “Therefore, it is completely appropriate that we make this announcement about the first film event in Eastern Europe completely devoted to American cinema during the Tribeca Film FestivalSniegowska is attending the Festival to scout for new narrative and documentary features and hold meetings with key industry representatives.

“While Polish audiences are certainly aware of the big Hollywood films, they are not as exposed to the world of American independent cinema”, Sniegowska continued. “The AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL will allow Polish audiences to become acquainted with contemporary American cinema with presentation of the latest films from both established directors and up-and-coming talents. In this way, we hope to present the diverse culture and political/social realities of the United States in a fuller way than has ever been tried before.”

The Festival, designed mainly as a cultural event, also can have commercial implications for the visibility and ultimate sales of these films to the Eastern European market. “Although American films dominate Polish cinemas, they are chiefly commercial productions distributed globally by major film studios and many quality films are not released in Poland at all”, Roman Gutek, the founder of pioneering Polish distribution company GutekFilm (http://www.gutekfilm.pl/english) and the AFF Festival Director explained. “With this new festival, we hope to introduce to our audiences new names and works of the contemporary American cinema and stimulate interest from the business sector.”

The AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL has among its many goals the desire to break through the stereotype of American cinema as strictly big budget, star-driven international product. American independent films that have been greatly influenced by the European film aesthetic will be showcased, to create further links between independent artists in the US and Europe. “The festival will be a meeting place for American and Polish film directors, producers, festival representatives and sales agents to network and perhaps find ways of collaboration for future projects”, Festival Senior Programmer and GutekFilm Artistic Director Jakub Duszyński offered.

The first edition of the AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL, which will present about 75 films, will have four prominent sections: HIGHLIGHTS, a gala screening section of new films from established and recognized film directors; SPECTRUM, a panorama section of contemporary American cinema, focusing on artists in mid-career and those making significant directorial debuts; AMERICAN DOCS, a program of compelling and award-winning documentaries from the film festival circuit; and ON THE EDGE, a showcase of cutting-edge film experimentations, aesthetic discoveries and dazzling works produced by new media technologies.

Both the SPECTRUM and AMERICAN DOCS sections will be competitive, with the local public voting for the Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary Feature. A cash prize of $10,000 for narrative feature and $5,000 for documentary feature will be awarded.

While the main focus will be on contemporary films, the Festival will also devote itself to an educational initiative to revive classic American films and showcase lesser-known film auteurs with comprehensive retrospectives of their works. This initiative will not only create more awareness of the artistic influences of the past but also provide a link to the style and technique of contemporary films on view.

The first edition of the AFF will feature a retrospective of the indie pioneer John Cassavetes (1929 – 1989) whose highly original and landmark works continue to influence the sensibilities of young filmmakers both in America and abroad. The Festival will present a retrospective of his influential oeuvre, including such classics as Shadows (1959), Faces (1968), A Woman Under the Influence (1974), and Opening Night (1977).

Programming Director Urszula Sniegowska, previously manager of KINO.LAB at the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, has been actively looking for new American films for the Festival’s first edition at such important events as the Sundance Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, SXSW and now at the Tribeca Film Festival. Sniegowska will join her colleagues Roman Gutek and Jakub Duszyński at the Cannes Film Festival later this month to sample the newest American films in all the Festival sections and the film market.

To have films (narrative and documentary features but no shorts) considered for the inaugural AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL, please contact Programming Director Urszula Sniegowska,  tel: 48 602 316 900, e-mail: ula@snh.org.pl 

The AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL is being held under the patronage of the Ambassador of the United States of America to Poland, in co-operation with the City of Wroclaw, and supported by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. More announcements on films, special events, retrospectives and hommages will be released in the coming months.

Festival Contacts:

PR: Agnieszka Wolak, e-mail: agnieszka.wolak@snh.org.pl

Programming:Urszula Sniegowska, tel: +48 602 316 900, e-mail: ula@snh.org.pl

International Promotion Contact: Sandy Mandelberger, International Media Resources, Tel: +1 917 776 8484, email: intl_media@yahoo.com

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