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Hudson Institute will hold its first annual Film Festival, an all-day event, on Memorial Day, May 31, 2010, at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill (237 West 42nd Street, New York City).Documentary feature films have emerged as a powerful medium for communicating ideas and highlighting problems to the public. The right-wing Hudson Institute is featuring films which inform the public on subjects of concern to the Institute's mission.After a review of dozens of films that came out in the past year, a selection committee chose three films to showcase at the firstannual Hudson Institute Film Festival. These films highlight the Iranian nuclear threat, the battle of Fallujah, and anti-Semitism at American universities.
A conservative think tank founded in 1961, in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, by military strategist, and systems theorist Herman Kahn and his colleagues at the RAND Corporation, The Hudson Institute moved to Washington, D.C., in 2004. The Institute promotes public policy change in accordance with its stated values of a "commitment to free markets and individual responsibility, confidence in the power of technology to assist progress, respect for the importance of culture and religion in human affairs, and determination to preserve America's national security."
The directors will attend the screenings and engage in a Q & A session after each film.Schedule:The Last 600 Meters: The Battles of Najaf and Fallujah11 amThis 90-minute documentary by Michael Pack looks at the two biggest battles of the Iraq war — Najaf and Fallujah — through the first hand testimony of those who fought them. It offers perspectives on these battles, and lessons for warfare in the future.Atomic Jihad: Ahmadinejad's Coming War and Obama's Politics of Defeat1 pmJoel Gilbert's 95-minute documentary, accordng to the Hudson Institute's info, "leaves little doubt that Iran is in the final stages of preparing a coming war for Islamic Revival. By seeking to appease Ahmadinejad with 'change' in U.S. Middle East policy, President Obama is ushering in the Politics of Defeat for America."Crossing the Line: The Intifada Comes to Campus3 pmProduced by filmmaker Raphael Shore and directed by Wayne Kopping, Crossing the Line explores the proliferation of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incidents on North American college campuses following the launch of Operation Cast Lead by Israel's military into Gaza in late December 2008 and January 2009. This 32-minute doc looks shows how the war evokes anti-Jewish sentiments amongst college students and professors.
Admission is $15 for the entire day at the premier Manhattan blues club and grill, B.B. King's, which will serve food and drinks for purchase throughout the day.
For more info: http://www.hudson.org/
Hudson Institute Film FestivalMay 31, 2010B.B. King Blues Club & Grill237 West 42nd St.New York City
Hudson Institute1015 Fifteenth Street, NWWashington D.C., USA
The Human Rights Watch International Film Festival swings into Denver, Colorado, this May 20 to 26, 2010 in its Traveling Film Festival incarnation. Co-presented with the Denver Film Society, the itinerant Festival culls the highlights of HRWIFF's London and New York programs. It features documentaries and shorts from Armenia, Tibet and Burkino Faso, among other countries whose issues are too often honored in compassion fatigue and less in inquisitive viewing.
To help audiences overcome human rights' subtlest foe, the Denver Film Society and Flobots.org have tapped into the creativity of young people through a program of short films called Youth Producing Change. Seven works generated under its aegis will open this year's HRWFF in the Mile High City.
The driving philosophy of Youth Producing Change is that young people are drawn into human rights battles around the globe, yet their voices are seldom communicated.
Youth Producing Change narratives are drawn from the young lives of their teenaged filmmakers. These searching, original POV's will set the tone for the rest of the HRIWFF, to be held at the Denver Film Society's Starz FilmCenter on the Auraria Campus (900 Auraria Parkway). (The Film Society has an educational partnership with the University of Colorado at Denver’s College of Arts and Media.)Using digital cameras, the young filmmakers spotlight human rights challenges facing them and their communities, and entertain scenarios of change. For example, festival-goers will meet the animated character of Leila, an African girl whose farmer parents sell her into servitude to feed rest of her family. (Fret not; the film, called Leila, has a happy ending.) Another film, Mozambique, centers on a Mozambican boy who is orphaned by HIV/AIDs, and who copes through unusual resourcefulness.Immigration themes rear up in several entries, including Thoughts In A Hijab and Noè’s Story. The former is about a young Iranian emigree to the U.S. who wears an Islamic head covering despite its association with oppression back home; and the latter tracks a 15-year-old as he grapples with identity and notions of success in his adaptive country of America.Other selections are What Courage Means to Me, drawn from the story of a Tibetan nun and former political prisoner who escaped Tibet, and Aquafinito, a look at corporations, profit motives and the diminishing supply of community water. A seventh short, It’s Not About Sex, looks into the causes and preventions of rape.Following the program, a panel of local educators and Denver teens will comment on the films and talk about human rights issues close to their own lives. The teen discussants are involved in Colorado Youth at Risk's mentoring programs at Manual High School. A party and reception will also accompany the Youth Producing Change screening.To coincide with HRWIFF, Starz FilmCenter will host a trade show of Denver organizations that work with youth. These are but a few of the year-round events presented in collaboration with the Denver Film Society, whose flagship event is the Starz Denver Film Festival, now marking its 33rd year.
Festival tickets and information are available at http://bit.ly/hrwiff.Human Rights Watch Film Festival DenverMay 20 to 26, 2010Denver Film SocietyStarz FilmCenter900 Auraria ParkwayTivoli Student UnionDenver, CO 80204
(303) 595 - 3456 x250
Times Square may have dodged a car bomb, but now another explosive event is being planned for New York's theater district that's sure to go off. Expect sizzle and smoke August 12 to 19, 2010, when the New York City International Film Festival gets its launch in tourism ground zero.I just came back from two hours with the man who's behind the plot. Manhattan already has the New York Film Festival and the Tribeca and Gen Art -- whoops, not Gen Art -- and 50 or so other movie pageants, but NYCIFF president and founder Roberto Rizzo says he's now bringing a fresh "opportunity to filmmakers from the USA and around the world to showcase their films in New York City." As part of my research, I zig and zag through the Crossroads of the World to meet up with this expectedly peppy soul. And while only an Energizer bunny (with a touch of masochism) could dream of entertaining two million guests in this sweaty swath of humanity -- in August -- his amiable vibe suggests a bon vivant, with a surprisingly even keel.
Rizzo has salt-and-pepper hair and the gravitational pull of an artist, writer and director who also appears in film and television; you'd pick him out of a lineup of character actors playing politicians, prosecutors or gamblers, which are precisely roles he's performed. That it's as easy to picture him in a tux as in denim sums up the public/exclusive, free/premium, filmmaker/pedestrian axis of the fest. This gets me wondering…"What will your New York festival have that the others don't?" I ask."Glamor," he nutshells."But Tribeca and Lincoln Center are plenty elegant," I challenge."Really?" his eyes bulge.Now if you've attended Downtown's celebrity-pedigreed affair, you know it hardly lacks for glitz, and few would say the Film Society's Upper West bash is half shabby. But this native of Northern Italy who calls New York home and Argentina second home (among other jet-spanned reaches of the globe), has a vision for his fest. And it's largely la dolce vita. Two years ago, Rizzo went to the Cannes Film Festival with his short film Couples, which he wrote and directed. Cannes' unabashed fabulousness left quite an impression, and that's when it came to him: replicate the panache of the Croisette on and around Broadway."You dress, you respect the filmmaker, you respect the actors," urges Rizzo. "It's going to be a hot summer, and I want to see people from everywhere enjoying a classy time in New York City."Even in the silly weather, you'll now have a chance to wear that gown or tuxedo.Shoving past the pedestrians and the pedicabs, we wend our way to the Hudson Theatre (145 W 44TH Street), where NYCIFF will hold its Opening Night Gala. Champagne, hors d'ouevres and wine will be served to guests who pony up $250 for the pre-screening black-tie reception on the main floor. Upstairs, ticket holders at $100 a pop will enjoy modest hydration and, of course, nourishment for the eyes. The Opening Night film will be Lovely, Still. Directed by Nik Fackler, it follows the lighter side of two lonely hearts played by Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn. Both Oscar winners are invited to attend this sequined New York premiere, as is Elizabeth Banks, who also appears in the movie and whom Rizzo met on the set of 30 Rock.Isabella Rosselini, Eric Thal, Rick Borgia and Steve Dash are among other glittering entities expected to descend on the Red Carpet not unlike the New Year's Eve ball. Live musical performances will precede the Gala screening, with a Mexican recording artist yet to be announced opening for Spanish electro-pop band Horthy. Details of the post-screening party are similarly in the offing.On the following evening, Oscar laureate Norma Aleandro (The Official Story) will present the North American premiere of her latest film, Paco. Diego Rafecas directed this Argentine drama about a physics teacher (Tomás Fonzi) suspected of narcotrafficking and the efforts of his politician mother (Aleandro) to salvage his fate.Also during the Festival, Aleandro will unveil Andres Doesn't Want to Take a Nap/Andrés no quiere dormir la siesta, by Daniel Bustamante. In it she portrays a woman whose daughter-in-law is posthumously revealed to have helped the underground resistance during Argentina's military dictatorship and whose grandson is driven to embrace that regime. Aleandro will be on hand to discuss both films, which will betoken Argentina on the occasion of its Bicentennial.
Rizzo already has 20 feature-length works lined up, and there are 60 more to go. With thousands of submissions pouring in from five continents and creators set to attend, he's aiming for the skyscrapers with the Festival, which he hopes will be the highlight of New York's August calendar.Including short films and music videos, he has lassoed a total of 300 entries to date. One short is Flat Love, narrated by Rossellini and directed by Andrés Sanz, about a man who believes the world is flat, and who falls for a two-dimensional woman at the Museum of Modern Art.
Shorts form the touchstone of NYCIFF, at least in its debut year. This is perhaps as much for expediency sake as it is a programming choice.
As currently envisioned, screenings will run from 7 p.m. to midnight each day of the Festival except Opening Night. A number of these will be full-length movies, mostly presented in Times Square-area theaters, while more fleeting works – matched to the attention spans of pedestrians and tourists – will be displayed al fresco on a huge digital screen by Duffy Square (226 W 47 Street)."When you go to Cannes, you see the big outdoor screen on the beach," says Rizzo. "But it's only for VIPs." Explaining the glam-for-all ideology behind the Festival, he stresses, "Here anybody can see it."Though NYCIFF is allegedly the first film festival to showcase free movies in Times Square, it won't be New York's sole source of outdoor, gratis viewing during sultry August. HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival (June through August); Central Park (August 18 to 22); RiverFlicks: Summer on the Hudson (Wednesday and Friday evenings in July and August at Riverside Park South's Pier 1); and Movies with a View: Brooklyn Bridge Park Summer Film Series (Thursday evenings from July 8 to August 27) are some of the competition. (And for nine bucks, movies and music can be had at Rooftop Films May through September).Yet a cinematic display of NYCIFF's volume is unprecedented for a month when anyone who can board a Jitney does.The eight-day event will culminate in an Awards Night; like Opening Night, it will take place from 6 p.m. to midnight. The top prize has been christened "Laurel d'Or," for best narrative feature. Juried competitions will additionally honor best works in horror, documentary and shorts categories. Panels, parties and industry networking events are in pre-production for the Festival, which may just be the sexiest spectacle to hit Times Square since X-rated movie houses and peep shows lined the Deuce.Taxi!
For more information: www.NYCIFF.com
New York City International Film FestivalAugust 12 to 19, 2010Hudson Theatre at Millennium Broadway Hotel 145 West 44th StreetNew York, NY 10036
Duffy Square226 W 47th StreetNew York, NY 10036
Last July, the nonprofit group Human Rights Watch put out a hefty report drawn from its prior two decades of watching dogs in some 20 countries. Called Selling Justice Short, the dossier showed why accountability was a good thing for peace and, if nothing else, could help heal victims by acknowledging their anguish.For those who didn't read it, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival supplies some visual Cliff's Notes. This year, its documentaries and fictional dramas give witness to human rights violations in 25 countries, and "Accountability and Justice" is its primary theme.Jointly presented with the Film Society of Lincoln Center, the New York edition of HRWFF will take place June 10 to 24, 2010 at the Film Society's Walter Reade Theater (165 West 65th Street).Now in its 21st go-round, the Festival is a top international showcase for cinema focusing on human rights. Amplifying on current events, selections are as topical as tomorrow's news. Take for example Crude, Joe Berlinger's documentary on the ravages of oil exploitation in Ecuador, which screened at last year's festival, and which again bubbled up in the media around a federal judge's May 2010 ruling to allow Chevron to subpoena more than 600 hours of its footage.HRWFF is looking especially relevant these days for another reason: the dismal distribution and exhibition climate for independent cinema in general and issue-driven works in particular. Its sold-out screenings and radial word of mouth brings films to audiences who may have few if any other ways to catch them in a theater.The Balibo Conspiracy is a case in point. Robert Connolly's political thriller about a war correspondent who pokes into the 1975 murders of five journalists in East Timor is being feted as the Benefit Night selection (June 10), yet to date no U.S. distributor has nabbed it.Adversity can often add to a film's sex appeal, yet Balibo has been hard pressed to parlay its banning in Indonesia into commercial come hither in this country. And not even a quake of earth shattering proportions has launched Raoul Peck’s Haitian drama, Moloch Tropical, onto the "must have" list of stateside distributors. Yet the film will be honored as this year’s Festival Centerpiece. Just as Connolly and special guests will attend the Balibo post-screening discussion and reception, Peck will be on hand to discuss his film.The official Opening Night screening, on June 11, is 12th & Delaware. Directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady are back from Jesus Camp with this revelation of the Florida crossing where pro-life and pro-choice facilities push their mandates across from one another. The documentary, which debuted at this year's Sundance Film Festival, was shot during the year when abortionist Dr. George Tiller was assassinated. If that isn't news peg enough, what is?Presumed Guilty/Presunto culpable is the Closing Night film. The documentary by Roberto Hernández and Layda Negrete fingers the dysfunctions of Mexico's penal system in its chronicle of a Mexican street vendor mistakenly accused of murder and sentenced to two decades behind prison bars. As with their short documentary, The Tunnel, the filmmakers' intervention led to the protagonist's release from jail. Law and Order may be a closed dossier, but Presumed Guilty is open for business.Mexico reclaims the screen in Backyard/El traspatio, Carlos Carrera's crime drama about the real murders of young women in Ciudad Juarez. Starring Jimmy Smits and Ana de la Reguera, the film can't hope to top Carrera's 2002 film, The Crime of Father Amaro -- Mexico's biggest box office performer – however, the topic and its link to the police system in that country continue to haunt today's headlines.Two other titles take on official systems. One is In the Land of the Free, Vadim Jean's inquiry into possible miscarriages of justice for three Black Panthers serving in Louisiana's Angola prison, and the other, a non-fiction courtroom drama from Rebecca Richman Cohen called War Don Don, about prosecuting war crimes in Sierra Leone.Films under the aforementioned "Accountability and Justice" rubric include Enemies of the People, in which co-director Thet Sambath unearths bloody truths behind his parents' slaughter -- and that of two million other Cambodian victims of the Khmer Rouge. Sambath and his directing partner Rob Lemkin will be on hand to discuss the film and to receive this year's HRWFF Nestor Almendros Award for courage in filmmaking. Enemies of the People snared the 2010 Sundance World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Prize.
"Development and Migration" comprise the second programming theme of this year’s Festival. Pushing the Elephant is one of two films to consider migration resulting from war. Late '90s strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the point of departure for this non-fiction narrative about a family now living in Phoenix, Arizona and their reunion with a long-missing daughter. The film, co-presented with Mapendo International, will be followed by a Q&A with directors Beth Davenport and Elizabeth Mandel and film subject Rose Mapendo.
Nero’s Guests studies the agrarian distress and inequality that has resulted in an epidemic of suicides among Indian farmers. The award-sweeping film is by P. Sainath, rural affairs editor of The Hindu.
Michael Camerini and Shari Robertson return to HRWFF with the latest two entries in their series, "How Democracy Works Now: Twelve Stories." Last Best Chance and Mountains and Clouds bring viewers into the U.S. Congress as it grapples with immigration reform. The filmmakers will entertain audience questions following the screenings.
"Societies in Conflict: Iran and Afghanistan" forms the third theme of HRWFF 2010. Highlights include Restrepo, Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's chronicle of a U.S. platoon's deployment in Afghanistan.
Twenty-eight of this year's 30 selections are New York premieres. Youth Producing Change, now in its third version, will make its world 2010 debut at the Walter Reade. The project groups 11 short films made by teen filmmakers from around the world, and is presented in collaboration with Adobe Youth Voices. (For a related article, see our story "'Youth Producing Change' Opens Denver Human Rights Watch.")
Complementing this year's screenings will be a photographic exhibition about maternal mortality in India. Called In Silence, the collection by noted photojournalist Susan Meiselas will be presented in the Walter Reade's Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery throughout the festival.The full Festival program is posted at www.hrw.org/iff. Human Rights Watch Film FestivalJune 10 to 24, 2010Walter Reade TheaterLincoln Plaza (Upper Level, between Broadway and Amsterdam)165 West 65th StreetNew York, NY 10023212-290-4700
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