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The Second Time Around for First Time Fest

It's the Second Time Around for First Time Fest. A unique film festival celebrating first-time feature filmmakers, the five-day event is aimed at discovering and providing exposure for the next generation of great filmmakers from around the world. FTF is set for April 3 – 7, 2014, and it will be based at their new home, NeueHouse (110 East 25th St.).

It combines a competition section that showcases new and exciting debut films with a series of screenings and discussions with now-prominent filmmakers presenting their first films with the creators usually participating in a post screening Q&A. This fest offers an interplay of veterans mentoring the first-timers. 

Most screenings, including all the competition films, take place at the AMC Loews Village 7 (11th St. & Third Ave.)

Celebrities expected to attend the fest include:

Carol Alt, Christopher Abbott, Lake Bell, Brady Corbett, Frederick Elms, Hill Harper, Jennie Livingston, Albert Maysles, Tom McCarthy, Michael Moore, Rosie Perez, Kelly Reichardt, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Brooke Shields, Slash, James Toback, Julie Taymor

Jury Members: Noah Levy, Anne-Katrin Titze, Stephanie Zacharek;

Competition Filmmakers: Jayce Bartok, Mikael Berg, Rok Bicek, Josephine Decker,Mona Fastvold, Jakob Lass, Serene Meshel-Dillman, Marieke Niestadt, Tommy Oliver, Yael Reuveny:

Out-Of-Competition Directors: Anthony Leonard III, Drew Tobia & Jess Weixler

FTF Co-Founders: Johanna Bennett, Mandy Ward

FTF Director of Programming: David Schwartz

Great Festival Supporter: Tony Bennett

Below is a schedule of this year's First Time Fest: 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

6:00pm (5:30 Arrivals) –

NeueHouse.  Panel:  RBC’s Women in Entertainment featuring panelists Carol Alt, Rosie Perez, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Brooke Shields.  Also expected are Tony Bennett, Amy Carlson, Elizabeth Rohm, Jordana Spiro, Carmen Ejogo

7:30pm (7:00pm Arrivals) –

Loews Theater 3.  

Opening Night Film:

Paris Is Burning

Director Jennie Livingston.  

Also attending are Tony Bennett, Brooke Shields, Johnny Abrahams, Frida Torresblanco, Competition Filmmakers, Lady Bunny & other performers

10:00 pm – Mister H at the Mondrian Soho (9 Crosby Street, between Grand and Howard/Canal) Opening Night Party.

Attending will be all the Competition Filmmakers, Jennie Livingston and more…

Friday, April 4, 2014

1:00pm  – Loews Theater 2.

Competition Film: Farewell, Her Schwarz,

Directed by Yael Reuveny (Germany/Israel),

followed by Q&A and Jury Hot Seat.

2:00pm – NeueHouse. Panel: What’s Up Doc?

4:00pm – Loews Theater 2.

Competition Film:


Directed by Tommy Oliver (USA), followed by Q&A and Jury Hot

Seat.  Also attending will be cast member

and Troi Zee, Wayne Brady.

4:00pm (Red carpet arrival at 4:45pm)

– NeueHouse.  

First Exposure Film: Salesman,

Directed by Albert Maysles (1969).  

Albert Maysles will attend for a discussion with the


4:30pm – NeueHouse.  Panel:

Help Me Help You

5:00-7:00pm – Ninth Ward

(180 2nd Ave, between 11th & 12th Sts.).

Happy Hour Reception

7:00pm (Red carpet arrival at 9:10pm)

– Loews Theater 3.  First

Exposure Film: Titus, Directed by Julie

Taymor (1999). Julie Taymor and Composer

Elliot Goldenthal will attend for a

discussion with the audience.

7:30pm – Loews Theater 2.

Competition Film: The Sleepwalker

(Norway/USA), Directed by Mona Fastvold,

followed by Q&A and Jury Hot Seat.  Also

attending are cast members Christopher

Abbott and Brady Corbet

10:00pm – No. 8 (357 W.

16th St., between 8th & 9th Aves.).

Festival Party

Saturday, April 5, 2014

11:00am  – NeueHouse. Panel:

Show Me The Money

12:30pm (Red carpet arrival 1:30pm)

[WINDOWS-1252?]– Loews Theater 3.  First

Exposure Film:  Roger and Me, Directed by

Michael Moore (1989).  Michael Moore will

attend for a discussion with the audience.

1:00pm [WINDOWS-1252?]– Loews Theater 2.

Competition Film: Miss Julie, Directed by

Mikael Berg (Sweden), followed by Q&A and

Jury Hot Seat.  Also Attending is the star

Nathalie Soderqvist.

2:30pm [WINDOWS-1252?]– NeueHouse.  Panel:

We Need A Bigger Boat

3:30pm [WINDOWS-1252?]– Loews Theater 3.

[WINDOWS-1252?]“Stand [WINDOWS-

1252?]Alone” Conversation:  Michael Moore.

4:00pm [WINDOWS-1252?]– Loews Theater 2.

Competition Film: Love Steaks, Directed by

Jakob Lass (Germany), followed by Q&A and

Jury Hot Seat.  Attending the fest will be

Editor Gesa Jager.

4:30pm (Red carpet arrival 5:40pm)

[WINDOWS-1252?]– Loews Theater 3.  First

Exposure Film:  River of Grass, Directed

by Kelly Reichardt (1994). Kelly Reichardt

will attend for a discussion with the


5:00-7:00pm [WINDOWS-1252?]– Kingston Hall

(149 2nd Ave., between 9th & 10th Sts.).

Happy Hour Reception

6:00pm (Red carpet arrival 6:45pm)

[WINDOWS-1252?]– Loews Theater 3.  First

Exposure Film, Eraserhead, Directed by

David Lynch (1977).  Cinematographer

Frederick Elmes will attend for a

discussion with the audience.

8:00pm [WINDOWS-1252?]– Loews Theater 2.

Competition Film: Fall To Rise, Directed

by Jayce Bartok (USA), followed by Q&A and

Jury Hot Seat.  Also attending are cast

members Katherine Crockett, Desmond

Richardson, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Tamara


9:00pm [WINDOWS-1252?]– Loews Theater 3.

Special Screening:  See You Next Tuesday,

Directed by Drew Tabia (USA) who will be

attending.  Q&A to be moderated by Jess


10:00pm – No. 8 (357 W.

16th St., between 8th & 9th Aves.).

Festival Party

11:30pm – Loews Theater 3.

Midnight Horror Screening: Nothing To

Fear, Directed by Anthony Leonardi III

(USA), who will be attending with first

time producer Slash.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

11:00am [WINDOWS-1252?]– Loews Theater 2.

Competition Film: Class Enemy, Directed by

Rok Bicek (Slovenia), followed by Q&A and

Jury Hot Seat.

12:00pm (Red carpet arrival 12:45pm) – Loews Theater 3.  First

Exposure Film: Fingers, Directed by James

Toback (1978).  James Toback will attend

for a discussion with the audience.

12:00pm – NeueHouse.

Panel: The Critical Eye

2:30pm [WINDOWS-1252?]– Loews Theater 2.

Competition Film: Getting To The

Nutcracker, Directed by Serene Meshel-

Dillman (USA), followed by a Q&A and Jury

Hot Seat.

3:00pm [WINDOWS-1252?]– Loews Theater 3.

First Exposure Film: Targets, Directed by

Peter Bogdanovich (1968).  Peter

Bogdanovich will not be able to attend,

but may appear via Skype for a discussion

with the audience.

3:00 pm – NeueHouse.  Panel:

The Grammy’s Present: From

Rock To Score.  Panelists include Guns N’ Roses guitarist (and first time producer of one of the competition films) Slash, and singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik.

3:00pm – NeueHouse. Panel: Sell Baby Sell

5:00-7:00pm – Kingston Hall (149 2nd Ave., between 9th & 10th Sts.). Happy Hour Reception

5:30pm – Loews Theater 2.

Competition Film: Bittersweet, Directed by Marieke Niestadt (USA/Netherlands),

followed by a Q&A and Jury Hot Seat.

9:00pm – Loews Theater 2.

Competition Film: Butter On The Latch,

Directed by Josephine Decker (USA),

followed by a Q&A and Jury Hot Seat.  Also attending are cast members Sarah Small, Isold Chae-Lawrence.

Monday, April 7, 2014

3:00pm  – NeueHouse.  Panel: Filmmaker Forum.  Attending will be all

the Competition Filmmakers.

7:00pm [WINDOWS-1252?]– 42West (516 W.

42nd St. [WINDOWS-1252?]– between 11th &

12th Aves).  Closing Night Awards and

Party.  Presentation of the John Huston

Award for Achievement in Cinema to Ms.

Julie Taymor.

Various Locations including

NeueHouse (110 East 25th Street)

Filmmaker Lounge

Filmmaker Forum & Panel Venue

Loews Village VII (Third Ave. at 11th

Street) Competition Films, First Exposure

Films, Tributes & Special Film



Film Review: Out in Theaters: 'Evil Dead' Ups the Gore, Drops the Laughs

Evil Dead
Directed by Fede Alvarez
Starring Diablo Cody, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas and Elizabeth Blackmore
91 Minutes

This 2013 rendition of Evil Dead definitely does enough to distinguish itself from the 1981 original but in doing so abandons a lot of the winking goofiness that made the original such a one-of-a-kind. It's mucky, yucky and dripping in goo but there's not quite enough beneath the buckets of blood to claim the bone-throne of horror classics.

Although it didn't quite meet the lofty expectations it set for itself with it's tagline, "The Most Terrifying Film You Will Ever Experience" but it does rise to the occasion of trying to out-do it's predecessors and certainly scores. There's no denying the goal behind this Fede Alvarez's remake was to rain down the blood and treat it's central troop of unfortunate victims like human pincushions just waiting to be jammed full of a whole spectrum of unconventional weapons chilling in the tool shed. In regard to that goal, congratulations are in order. Alvarez has made one of the most chilling, grisly, visceral horror movies to date.

For those unfamiliar with the original storyline, the whole conceit of the Evil Dead franchise follows a group of five twenty-something year olds who visit an abandoned cabin in the woods and after reading a passage from the Necronomicon, an ancient evil book made from human flesh, unleash evil personified hell-bent on devouring their physical bodies and claiming their souls. Sounds like the kind of vacation just about anyone would ask for. This film deviates in the setup to this weekend of death with some exposition that is pure Diablo Cody (Juno, United States of Tara), who penned the script. Evil Dead imagines that this group of old friends and family reunited to help carry out a cold-turkey weekend for junk addict/little sister Mia. As you can imagine, things didn't quite go that way.

In establishing the little weekend getaway as a rehab stint, the film avoids the tired cliche of friends on vaca in a creepy locale and at least attempts to justify the initial refusal to run at the first hint of things going awry. It's this small semblance of intelligence that offers some promise for Evil Dead to transcend the genre stereotypes but in the end, it's still the same breed, just a little prettier and a little smarter. 

Once the evil is unleashed, the heads begin to roll and Alvarez and Cody only stop the onslaught of human plasma to occasionally remind us that these are people with relationships that we're supposed to care about. The only problem is most of these relationships are built on rushed and shaky foundations so it's hard to really elicit much of a response. We're not watching My Girl, we're watching Evil Dead so crank up the deaths and dial down the pity.  

As a remake, it hits the right marks. The basic elements are in the same place but it heads in enough of a different direction to make the affair noteworthy not only in the horror genre but in the much beloved franchise. I'm sure there will be a legion of deadites protesting against the absence of snark involved but it never quite tries to capture that element that so clearly defined Sam Raimi's films. Instead, it's happy being the depraved little cousin reveling in the sick carnage of it all. Just like the best and most memorable, the telltale earmarks of exploitation are written all over and the film essentially presents itself like a dare; a cynic's double-dog dare to watch the thing wide-eyed and not occasionally cringing; but I personally guarantee that it'll make even the most stable of knees go wobbly thanks in large part to the top notch practical effects and a fantastically creepy turn by Jane Levy.

The bottom line: a gory mess in both substance and execution, this bloody remake drops the campy laughs of the original in favor of an all out gore-fest. There's enough viscus flying around the camera in Evil Dead to make even the hardest stomach squeamish and even though the laughs come from the rare sadistic chuckle rather than the cackle inspired by campy lunacy this is exactly the kind of goopy, gory goodness any horror affiliate is hunting for.

Film Review: "Spring Breakers" Has Boobs, Little More

Spring Breakers

Directed by Harmony Korine

Starring James Franco, Ashley Benson,  Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine and Selena Gomez


As an artistic endeavor, Spring Breakers has the depth of a comb-over and the appeal of a Girls Gone Wild DVD rendered in slow motion. That is to say, it could be worse. Unfortunately for filmmaker Harmony Korine, no-one cued him in to the fact that his audience, even a predominantly male audience, can only ogle at bobbling breasts and sun-scorched beaches for so long before they start to remember that they're in a movie theater to see an actual film. An actual film being something this experimental montage doesn't ever add up to.

Korine quickly lathers on a wallpaper of foreshadow as we meet four college chicks whose purposed bone-deep friendship seems impossible or at least highly unlikely. As Candy (Vanessa Hudgens) and Brit (Ashley Benson) doddle pictures of dongs in their dimly lit lecture, Cottie (Rachel Korine who is actually the wife of director Harmony) slugs down bong rips and the shamelessly named Faith (Disney's Selena Gomez) half-heartedly attends a youth church group. Faith's church friends pound home the fact that the other girls are bad news but the message only partially comes across to the thick-headed do-gooder.

In order to finance their trip to an unnamed but stereotypical Spring Break locale, Candy and Brit talk Cottie into stealing her professor's car so that they can rob a restaurant. Bing, bang, boom, they grab the cash, scoop up Faith and make off to Florida. Instead of trying to flesh out the mental states of these wild childs or attempt to rationalize the unexplained addition of Faith, a character who clearly wouldn't be morally on board with these highly illegal endeavors, Korine glosses over the affair with a montage of boobies. And while the hypnotic barrage of slow motion bouncing breasts and brain-blistering dubstep tunes almost tricked us into forgetting that we are supposed to be watching a narrative with plot and character develop, he doesn't quite get away with it this time. Nice try but no dice.

Interspliced between sun-baked shots of partially nude and, of course, fully nude people fist bumping, water bouncing, doing all imaginable kinds of hooking up and executing copious bong rips and lines of blow, is some sembleance of the girls "discovering themselves" or at least that's what they say to their mommies when they call home to gloat...I mean report in. Again, we don't see them doing any kind of soul searching out here, just a lot of good old fashion partying like a rock star. We may be told that there is something more going on with these girls but there's no evidence of that onscreen.

Finally, a flicker of thesbianic hope enters the equation when the girls wind up in jail for partying way too hard and are serendipitously bailed out by a gold-plate toothed James Franco, who simply goes by the name Alien. Flunky-rapper by day and drug-kingpin by night, Franco immediately illuminates the screen with his G-diction and farcical little characer bits, offering a much needed lump of levity  and opening up the narrative to new possibilities. Unfortunately, Korine squanders the opportunities afforded him by Franco and simply allows the film to flounder in a new wading pool of mediocrity.

It's not hard to miss the cautionary warning mixed up in their affair about the dangers of drugs, sex and power but it's carried out with the subtly of a pink elephant. It gets to the point where the pitiable well of scripted narrative runs dry so the few clunky through lines peppered through Spring Breakers are repeated again and again, broadcasting an impractically tone-deafness on the part of Korine to the ridiculous redundancies scattered throughout the film that babble on and on like a broken record.

While it might not be fair to point the finger exclusively at Korine, it's just hard to swallow that this film was actually edited by an actual editor. At it's core, there stands a powerful message about the captivating sway of the unorthodox, the hypnotic descent and the fierce disillusionment of reality but it's totally let down by a sweltering decrescendo in momentum and just plain dumb film-making. Things get wild and things get racy when you're under the spell of a neon-streaked Spring Break rave but when you're not jammed full of ecstasy, it's fairly easy to see the abundantly uninteresting attendees and the seams come melting apart.

In Spring Breakers defense, it's not all bad. I didn't hate the nudity, in fact, I rather liked it but that seductive allure is hardly an excuse for the badly bandaged final product this movie turned out to be. Also on the plus side, we can add in Franco and a memorably avante garde shoot out but that's about it. If some well written scribe had sat down and churned out about 20-30 more pages to tack into the script or made the executive decision to turn this helplessly wandering narrative into a short film, I'm sure it would have been a lot more successful. Instead, Korine overextends himself again and again, winding up with an undeniably titillating film characterized by shallow character development, endless montages and the worst editing this side of Bollywood.



Early Fest Highlights Include Apatow, Dunham & Macdonald

Austin, Texas – January 12, 2012 – The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and
Festival is pleased to announce the world premiere of Lionsgate’s The Cabin in the Woods as the
2012 Opening Night Film. In addition to premiering the film, Whedon will participate in a key
Conversation panel at the SXSW Film Conference on Saturday, March 10.
Produced and co-written by iconic genre storyteller Joss Whedon, The Cabin in the Woods marks
Emmy®-nominated writer Drew Goddard’s (Cloverfield, Lost, Alias) first foray into directing. This
mind-blowing horror film starts typically enough, as we join five young adults embarking on a
weekend of debauchery at an abandoned cabin in the woods. But as layer after layer of the film’s
truly kaleidoscopic world is revealed, everything we know about horror is deconstructed, and
everything we love is reconstructed before our eyes. The film stars Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz,
Anna Hutchison, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, and Bradley Whitford, and will
be in theaters everywhere on April 13, 2012. For more information about the film please visit:

SXSW also revealed a handful of exciting titles that will premiere at the 2012 event, comprised of
diverse perspectives that exemplify the unique range of the SXSW program. This includes Lena
Dunham’s return to SXSW with her HBO series GIRLS, which will premiere the initial three episodes
publicly for the first time. Dunham, Executive Producer Judd Apatow and other key members of the
GIRLS production team will also appear at the SXSW Film Conference to discuss GIRLS before it
kicks off its ten-episode season in April, exclusively on HBO. Moderated by actor Alex Karpovsky
(Tiny Furniture), the panel will take place on Tuesday, March 13.

Additional films announced include Academy Award-winner Kevin Macdonald’s Bob Marley
documentary, MARLEY, Small Apartments, a black comedy from acclaimed music video director
Jonas Åkerlund, Neil Berkeley’s doc Beauty is Embarrassing about multi-faceted artist Wayne
White, special event The Oyster Princess (1919) with original live score by Bee vs. Moth and
CITADEL, the psychological horror debut from writer/director Ciarán Foy. The complete festival
lineup will be announced in early February 2012. The 19th annual South by Southwest Film
Conference and Festival runs March 9 – 17, 2012 in Austin, Texas.

Announcing the first films of our program is always energizing, but we're especially thrilled to have
such a smart, unpredictable and highly entertaining headliner like The Cabin in the Woods as our
Opening Night film,” said SXSW Film Conference and Festival Producer Janet Pierson. “We're also
happy to offer a peek at a handful of wonderful films that demonstrate the breadth and range of
terrific work we plan to show at SXSW Film 2012.”


The 2012 SXSW Film Festival will feature:

Beauty is Embarrassing (World Premiere)
Director: Neil Berkeley
A funny, irreverent and insightful look into the life and times of one of America's most important
artists, Wayne White.
The Cabin in the Woods (World Premiere)
Director: Drew Goddard, Writers: Joss Whedon & Drew Goddard
Five friends go to a remote cabin in the woods. Bad things happen. If you think you know this story,
think again. From fan favorites Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard comes The Cabin in the Woods, a
mind-blowing horror film that turns the genre inside out. Cast: Kristen Connolly, Fran Kranz, Anna
Hutchison, Chris Hemsworth, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, and Bradley Whitford

CITADEL (World Premiere)
Director & Writer: Ciarán Foy
An agoraphobic father teams up with a renegade priest to save his daughter from the clutches of a
gang of twisted feral children. Cast: Anuerin Barnard, James Cosmo, and Wumni Mosaku, Jake
Wilson, Amy Shiels

GIRLS (World Premiere)
Director & Writer: Lena Dunham
Created by and starring Lena Dunham (Tiny Furniture), the HBO show is a comic look at the
assorted humiliations and rare triumphs of a group of girls in their early 20s. Cast: Lena Dunham,
Allison Williams, Jemima Kirke, Zosia Mamet, Adam Driver

MARLEY (North American Premiere)
Director: Kevin Macdonald
The definitive documentary on the life, music, and legacy of Bob Marley.
The Oyster Princess (1919) with original live score by Bee vs. Moth (World Premiere)
Director: Ernst Lubitsch, Writers: Hanns Kraly & Ernst Lubitsch
The Oyster Princess is Ernst Lubitsch’s tart 1919 silent comedy that parodies the rich and the
spoiled. Austin jazz/rock band Bee vs. Moth performs their original score live with the film for the
first time.

Small Apartments (World Premiere)
Director: Jonas Åkerlund, Writer: Chris Millis
When Franklin Franklin accidentally kills his landlord, he must hide the body; but, the wisdom of his
beloved brother and the quirks of his neighbors, force him on a journey where a fortune awaits him.
Cast: Matt Lucas, Billy Crystal, James Caan, Johnny Knoxville, Juno Temple, James Marsden,
Dolph Lundgren, Saffron Burrows, Rosie Perez, DJ Qualls

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