NYC Happenings: First Time Fest 2015 Showcases And Supports New Talent In Its Third Edition

Featured Critic; New York City, New York
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NYC Happenings: First Time Fest 2015 Showcases And Supports New Talent In Its Third Edition
First Time Fest, which runs this year through March 9, is now in its third edition, and the festival continues its mission to support and spotlight first-time filmmakers with a competition (grand prize is distribution by Cinema Libre Studio), panels, networking opportunities, and other events. Screenings and panels will be held at a number of venues, including Core Club, the Wild Project, Village East Cinema, B Bar & Grill, and the Gansevoort Park Ave NYC.

The festival closes with an awards ceremony on March 9 at Gansevoort Park Ave NYC, featuring a tribute to Harvey Weinstein in honor of his support of first time filmmakers. Here's a statement from the festival on this tribute:

Harvey Weinstein has been a champion of first-time filmmakers at Miramax Films and The Weinstein Company. Among the many first-time films his companies have distributed are Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino), Sex, Lies, and Videotape (Steven Soderbergh), Chicago (Rob Marshall), Strictly Ballroom (Baz Luhrmann), Kids (Larry Clark), Sling Blade (Billy Bob Thornton), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (George Clooney), A Single Man (Tom Ford), Citizen Ruth (Alexander Payne), Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler), and Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins). Weinstein will receive a special award from the Festival and participate in a conversation about his support of first-time films. FIRST TIME FEST is proud to honor the visionary Harvey Weinstein.

Here are this year's competition films (descriptions provided by the festival):

THE INTRUDER (INFILTRANT) Holland, 2014. Directed by Shariff Korver. Written by Korver and Rogier de Blok. Produced by Eva Eisensioeffel, Joost de Vries, Leontine Petit. Photographed by Alex Wuijts. Production design by Elza Kroonenberg. Edited by Ruben van der Hammen. Music by Helge Slikker. With Nasrdin Dchar, Rachid El Ghazaoul, Walid Benmbarek. 

Synopsis - In this intelligent and intense thriller, a Dutch cop of Moroccan descent goes undercover to infiltrate a drug-trafficking Moroccan family. His world is turned upside down when he starts to feel at home with his new family, and disillusioned by the police force. Neither is what they seem. This deeply personal film is about a man trying to figure out where he truly belongs. Premiered in Discovery section at Toronto International Film Festival.

VOID (WAYNON) Lebanon, 2013. Written by Georges Khabbaz. Directed by Maria Abdel Karim, Naji Bechara, Jad Beyrouthy, Salim Habr, Christelle Ighniades, Tarek Korkomaz, Zeina Makki. Produced by Nicolas Khabbaz, Sam Lahoud, George John Tarabay. Photographed by Kmal Bou Nassar. Music by Cedric Kayem. Edited by Salim Habr. With Carol Abboud, Diamand Bou Abboud, Carmen Lebros, Latife Moultaka, Takla Chamoun, Nada Abou Farhat.  

Synopsis - Six Lebanese women, different ages, await the return of their sons, brothers, husbands or lovers, who have been missing since the Civil War. Void depicts the events that take place on the eve of the Beirut Parliament Square sit-in, where the women petition to renew the cases of their missing men. The lives of these women revolve around waiting for the men in their lives. A wait filled with uncertainty, and hope. Winner of Best Screenplay, Best Actress (Diamond Bou Abboud), and Best Ensemble Cast at the recent Lebanon film awards.

BENEATH THE OLIVE TREE U.S., 2015. Directed by Stavroula Toska. Written and produced by Toska and Sophia Antonini.  Photographed by Sophia Antonini. Edited by Lauren Beckett Johnson. Music by Tao Zervas. Narrated by Olympia Dukakis.  

Synopsis - This deeply-moving, personal, and eye-openng documentary focuses on the true stories of women exiled to Trikeri Island; the biggest women's concentration camp during the Greek Civil War (1946-49). Years after the camps were phased out, seven notebooks written in secrecy and buried under a tree have surfaced, revealing the truth about their suffering and their survival. The women's journals, and Toska's film, bring to light some history the Greek government continues to manipulate and repress.

I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS U.S., 2014. Written and directed by Leah Meyerhoff. Produced by Heather Rae. Photographed by Jarin Blaschke. Edited by Rebecca Laks and Michael Taylor. Music by Sasha Gordon. With Natalia Dyer, Peter Vack, Julia Game.  

Synopsis - Davina is an imaginative and strong-willed teenage girl who often escapes into a beautifully twisted fantasy life. Having grown up as the sole caretaker of her disabled mother, she looks for salvation in a new relationship with an older boy. Davina is swept into a whirlwind of romance and adventure, but the enchantment of her new relationship quickly fades. I Believe in Unicorns takes us on a road trip through the stunning and complex landscape of troubled young love.  A festival favorite around the world since its premiere in 2014 at SXSW.

OTHER MADNESSES U.S., 2015. Written, directed, photographed, and edited by Jeremy 
Carr. Produced by Dawn Fidrick, Music by Stephen Light. With James Moles, Natia Dune. 

Synopsis - Ed Zimmer is a reclusive, New York City tour guide who suffers from recurring nightmares. The haunting premonitions force him to take violent action against the perceived threats all around him, as he attempts to maintain a relationship with a Russian tourist named Lucya, who just might be the girl of his dreams. Jeremy Carr's mesmerizing debut film is a dark character study that evokes Taxi Driver and other 1970s American films.  Six years in the making, the film was almost lost to flooding during Hurricane Sandy.

COME SIMI U.S., 2015. Directed by Jenica Bergere. Produced by Keth Kjarval, James Portolese, Mary Vernieu. Written by Doc Pedrolie and Jenica Bergere. Photographed by Peter Mosiman. Production designer, Lauree Martel. With Fionulla Flanngan, Jenica Bergere, Joshua Funk, Karen Landry, Tawny Kitaen.  

Synopsis - A neurotic pregnant woman on the verge of giving birth attempts to reunite her estranged family, which includes a mother riddled deeply with Alzheimer's, an aging porn-star sister and an intense aunt, whom the family hasn't seen in eighteen years. All of this is in an effort to fix her family history before giving birth. The colorful journey travels from Venice to Van Nuys to Simi Valley and in the end, love must win out.  The very pregnant writer/director/star Jenica Bergere made the film in ten days, and incorporated actual footage of her own delivery.

For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit First Time Fest's website.
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First Time Fest 2015