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12th Annual Savannah Film Festival

The 12th Annual Savannah Film Festival runs October 31 through November 7, 2009, hosted by the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia. Some films will also be screened at the Trustees Theater, a 1946 cinema house, and the Lucas Theatre, a former vaudeville theater. In addition to the special screenings, the Gutstein Gallery will be host to informative panels on various aspects of filmmaking, including a session with Adobe's Final Cut Pro.

The Festival has also reinstated the surprise Director’s Choice screening on Thursday, November 5, featuring a major studio release that will be kept secret until the opening credits roll.

On opening night, the university’s president, Paula Wallace, presents the Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Award to Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster for recognition of their work in the acclaimed drama, The Messenger. The film’s director and co-writer, Oren Moverman, will also be present.

In The Messenger, Foster stars as Will Montgomery, a U.S. Army officer who has just returned home from a tour in Iraq and is assigned to the Army’s Casualty Notification service. Partnered with fellow officer Tony Stone (Woody Harrelson) to bear the bad news to the loved ones of fallen soldiers, Will faces the challenge of completing his mission while seeking to find comfort and healing back on the home front.

Other honorees for the Festival's annual awards are:

Hugh Dancy and Jeremy Renner will receive Spotlight AwardsDancy for his performance in this year’s release Adam, and Renner for his performance in The Hurt Locker, which will also screen at the festival.

Patricia Clarkson will receive an Achievement in Cinema Award at a screening of her new film, Woody Allen’s Whatever Works. Emmy Rossum will be honored with the Young Hollywood Award prior to a showing of her film, Dare.

Feature films showing are: Jean-Marc Vallée’s The Young Victoria, Grant Heslov’s The Men Who Stare at Goats, Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces, Lone Sherfig’s An Education, James Ivory’s The City of Your Final Destination, the United States premiere of Nick Moran’s Telstar with Moran in attendance, Jodie Markell’s The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond (from a screenplay by Tennessee Williams), Bette Gordon’s Handsome Harry, and Cannes Palme d’Or winner Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon

Films in competition include:

Short films: Horn Dog, written and directed by Bill Plympton, the fourth film in the famed Oscar®-nominated Dog series; and I Am So Proud of You, by director/writer Don Hertzfeldt, the second chapter to Everything Will Be OK.

Narrative features: Dear Lemon Lima, by director/writer Suzi Yoonessi, with Savanah Wiltfong, Shayne Topp, Zane Huett and Melissa Leo in the cast; Love Hurts, by director/writer Barra Grant, starring Richard E. Grant and Carrie-Anne Moss.

Documentary features include:

No. 4 Street of Our Lady, directed by Barbara Bird and Judy Maltz, the remarkable yet little-known story of Francisca Halamajowa, a Polish-Catholic woman who hid 16 of her Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust while cleverly passing herself off as a Nazi sympathizer;and An Unlikely Weapon, directed by Susan Morgan Cooper, about photographer Eddie Adams.

On closing night, the Festival is screening the highly acclaimed Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance and the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival. Director Lee Daniels and star Gabourey Sidibe will be in attendance.

Adam and Miguel Arteta’s Youth in Revolt, starring Michael Cera, is included as a special screening.

Jurors for the 2009 Savannah Film Festival's are renowned for their work in the film and entertainment industries. This year’s jurors are:

Patti D’Arbanville, winner of the Best Actress Dramalogue Award, has enjoyed an outstanding career in film, television and on stage, with noteworthy roles in The Main Event, The Sopranos, Guiding Light and Third Watch.

Award-winning actress Rita Gam starred in more than 30 feature films before launching a second career as an author and documentary film producer. She has won numerous accolades for her documentaries and books, including the Literary Medal of Excellency from the United Nations Society of Writers for her contribution to better understanding between nations.

Ingrid Rockefeller has written, performed and produced original material off-Broadway and wrote and directed the award-winning short film Melting Ice. She recently started her own company, Light is Sweet Films, and is producing and co-directing a documentary on the life of photojournalist Lisl Steiner.

Michael Sucsy is the writer, director and producer of the Emmy Award-winning Grey Gardens, a made-for-TV movie starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. The movie also won the 2009 Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Mini-Series, and Specials.

David Twohy, both a writer and director, was named by Entertainment Weekly as one of the most creative people in Hollywood for his work in films such as The Fugitive, Waterworld and The Chronicles of Riddick.

The Savannah Film Festival brings world-renowned filmmakers, producers, actors and journalists, as well as other film enthusiasts, to SCAD and Savannah for eight days of feature films, lectures, workshops, panels and competition films from a range of genres. The festival was started by SCAD President Paula Wallace to provide students with opportunities to network with, meet and learn from entertainment industry leaders and to showcase the university’s talented students and unique resources.

The Savannah Film Festival also plays a significant role in preparing talented students for creative careers. From dramatic writing and performing arts to animation and sound design, almost every department at SCAD-and every student-benefits from the multifaceted festival experience.

For more information, visit

SCAD: The University for Creative Careers

The Savannah College of Art and Design is the most comprehensive art and design university in the world, offering more degree programs and specializations than any other art and design university. SCAD is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution conferring bachelor’s and master’s degrees in distinctive locations and online to prepare talented students for professional careers. SCAD offers students a choice of degree programs in 46 majors and more than 50 minors at locations in Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia, in Lacoste, France, online through SCAD eLearning, and soon in Hong Kong.

For more information, visit


Jennifer Bins
Media Relations Manager
Savannah College of Art and Design
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The 2009 South Asian International Film Festival

Lights, Camera, and SAIF
Wednesday, Oct 28th to Tuesday, Nov 3rd, 2009

The Sixth Annual South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF) kicks off this year at the new, state-of-the-art SVA Theater in New York City. The festival has become a landmark event within the United States exclusively dedicated to showcasing the very best in emerging South Asian cinema and independent filmmaking.

The Festival schedule is filled with screenings, panel discussions and post-screening events that represent the identity, culture and perspectives of South Asians in the 21st century. “We are especially excited this year to have more North American premieres than ever before,” said Galen Rosenthal, SAIFF’s Programming Director.

The Official Opening Night Premiere, and a world premiere for the film, at the Paris Theater, is Aladin, the Festival's first Bollywood film to be the Opening Night Presentation since its inception in 2004. Directed by Sujoy Ghosh, Aladin is a classic tale about a bullied orphan whose life changes when a genie enters his life to grant him three boons to fulfill his contractual obligations. This journey is full of twists and turns; secrets and obstacle; and fantasy adventure that keep the mind guessing and heart pumping.

“We are excited and honored to kick off the weeklong festival with Sujoy Ghosh’s first feature film,” said Shilen Amin, SAIFF President. “SAIFF’s continuing mission is to discover new artists and provide an international platform to emerging independent South Asian filmmakers to showcase their creativity. Sujoy is exceptionally skilled in storytelling and brings the latest in Bollywood’s foray into special effects, establishing never before seen practices in its film production history! Aladin will offer audiences a chance to see how films have changed and what is still to come out of our beloved film industry.”

The festival's Closing Night Premiere will be Paresh Mokashi’s Harishchandrachi Factory at the SVA Theater. This film depicts the true story of Dhundiraj Govind Phalke’s quest to create India’s first full-length feature film, Raja Harishchandra. Released in 1913, Raja Harishchandra was a big hit and the starting point for the emergence of “Bollywood,” the biggest film industry in the world today. 

This is also the directorial debut of theater director and actor Paresh Mokashi, whose critically acclaimed and appreciated works are known as experimentations in vivid yet atypical humor. Mokashi started writing the script in 2005 and finished it after only three months. “For me, the inspiration to make the film was Phalke himself. Learning about how he made the film and what he went through prompted me to base the movie on the subject,” he said.

This is also the North American premiere of the Film Federation of India’s official Oscar® entry for the 2010 Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category. It is only the second Marathi film after Shwaas (2004) to be selected for the Oscars. The film has already won several awards, including for best director, best film and best art direction at the 46th Maharashtra State Film Awards, and also for best director at the Pune International Film Festival (PIFF) held earlier this year.

“We are honored to present the first full length feature film of Paresh Mokashi as the festival’s official closing night presentation,” said SAIFF President Shilen Amin. “Paresh entertains and educates moviegoers, many for the very first time, on a true Indian hero with the story of Dhundiraj Govind Phalke and how the birth of Indian cinema took shape nearly ninety-five years ago. This is a very special film for everyone to see and we are proud for him and his team for their 2010 Academy Award nomination.”

In the last five years, SAIFF has surpassed all expectations with its track record of quality films and growing attendance. “SAIFF understands and recognizes the exceptional stories and perspectives in a common era that is characterized through nuances of filmmaking,” said Rosenthal.

About SAIFF:

The South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting South Asian/Indian filmmakers in the U.S seeking maximum visibility and absolute distribution. SAIFF was founded in New York City due to the lack of support for many emerging filmmakers and the overall underrepresentation of Indian cinema in a capital that is recognized by the world as the birthplace of independent filmmaking! The Festival is committed to exhibiting films from South Asia (i.e India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal) and within the Indian Diaspora. With a focus on dynamic, visionary cinema, SAIFF annually creates unprecedented exposure for filmmakers and unparallel experiences for its attendees. For more information, visit:

For more information about the 2009 SAIFF, please log on to:

Oct 28th to Nov 3rd, 2009

SVA Theater
333 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011

The Paris Theatre
4 West 58th Street
New York NY 10019

BFI 53rd London Film Festival 2009

The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival 2009 is being held October 14-29, 2009 at the BFI Southbank and the Vue West End, as well as the Odeon Leicester Square and Odeon West End.

Artistic Director Sandra Hebron has introduced this year's Festival saying, “We need films that appeal to our hearts as well as our heads. In which case I say, look no further than this year's Festival, where. . .you'll find plenty of films that work on many levels - from the formal precision of Lourdes to the intelligent sensuality of Bright Star; from the playfulness of The Men Who Stare At Goats to the damning critique of Mugabe and the White African and from the sheer cinematic brio of MICMACS to the generic updating of At the End of Daybreak. For me, just thinking about the breadth of work our programming team has chosen is exhilarating. And that's as it should be, given that the Festival spans continents and generic boundaries in the hope of celebrating cinema wherever creativity flourishes.”

This is definitely a someting-for-everyone festival. Not only is there a wide range of events between films and presentations, but within each category of events is a vast array of topics and issues, both past and present--and a few for the future.

The Opening Night film is the newest animation film, Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox, with the voices of George Clooney and Meryl Streep heading the cast. The Closing Night film is Nowhere Boy, a story of the young John Lennon directed by Sam Taylor Wood.

Other special screenings include 

The Archive Gala, which will feature the newlly restored 1928 film Underground, directed by Anthony Asquith.

The Times Gala, presenting The Men Who Stare at Goats, directed by Grant Heslov and starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor and Jeff Bridges.

The French Gala, presenting Father of My Children, directed by Mia Hansen-Løve.

The Centrepiece Gala presented by the Mayor of London, screening Jane Campion's Bright Star.

Panels include Environmental Filmmaking: Can Cinema be Truly Green?, and Snipping Away at the Celluloid Ceiling, discussing the status of women in film today.

In addition, Power to the Pixel, a Cross-Media Film Forum, held October 14-15, 2009, has become the leading event in the UK film industry calendar for connecting with key digital innovators in multimedia content.

For further information, go to

Czech Films Come To New York

Certain cinema always seems to get the spotlight in the States, be it French or Polish or whatever is in vogue at the moment. At the same time, a lot of other national cinema gets overlooked.

During this month and in November, Czech cinema will no longer seem overlooked. Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, there are several film programs that highlight Czech cinema.

The New York Czech Center (321 East 73rd St.) held an event in celebration of The Jubilee -- the 50th International Film Festival for Children and Youth in Zlín -- and the 100th anniversary of the birth of Czech director Karel Zeman earlier this month. A photo exhibition entitled Film Magician Karel Zeman is on display until end of October which outlines his productions and includes a film projection of Zeman's film, The Fabulous World of Jules Verne.

One independent programmer, Laura Blum, has not only become quite expert in the Czech cinema, but, in putting together this survey of its directors past and present, The Ironic Curtain, for the Film Society of Lincoln Center, she offers an enlightening look at a country that has taken on a new life in the wake of the Iron Curtain's collapse 20 years ago.

During a relatively peaceful and bloodless six-week period of demonstrations -- between November 17 and December 29, 1989 -- the former Czechoslovakia saw the overthrow of the Soviet regime in what became known as the Velvet Revolution.

Explains programmer Blum, "Americans tend to think the Velvet Revolution happened far away, without any connection to us, but its leader, Václav Havel, was in New York on April 4, 1968, the day Martin Luther King was assassinated. He says he was influenced by the non-violent philosophy he heard at the rallies honoring Dr. King at Central Park -- which he would ultimately bring to the Velvet Revolution."

In fact, The Ironic Curtain opens with the North American premiere of Pavel Koutecký and Miroslav Janek's intimate documentary, Citizen Havel, about his private and public life during this playwright-turned-politician's two terms as President of the Czech Republic. The film vividly captures the life of the man emblematic of the Velvet Revolution as well as the individual and collective yearnings of recent Czech history. Czech Consul General Eliška Žigová introduces the film; it's preceded by a special video of the former president, exclusively made for this series as he begins his next career as a filmmaker.

A later tragedy in 1968 inspired The Ferrari Dino Girl (Holka Ferrari Dino) by New Wave enfant terrible Jan Nĕmec. The docudrama recalls the filmmaker's rush across the Czechoslovak-Austrian border to deliver footage of Soviet tanks ramrolling through Prague. Though Soviet propaganda later claimed the Czechs welcomed Warsaw Pact troops, Nĕmec's footage -- which will ring a bell for anyone who saw The Unbearable Lightness of Being -- provided visceral refutation of such a thought.

This deliberately timed 68-minute film shares a double bill with Jiří Střecha and Petr Slavík's The Kind Revolution (Něžná revoluce). Cinema is at its verite best in this chronicle of the Velvet Revolution when riot police quashed a peaceful student rally in Prague, the popular protests that followed sacked Czech Communism.

Czech film history also appears in four classics from the '60s and one from the '30s in this series. Gustav Machatý's Extáse offers the first nude scenes in cinema with a quick glimpse of the young Heddy Lamar skinny dipping; Voyage to the End of the Universe is a sci-fi gem that was an influence on the makers of Star Trek; Milos Forman's Loves of a Blonde is an early example of the New Wave as seen through Czech eyes.

The New Wave influenced a younger generation of filmmakers--for instance, director Bohdan Slama -- who made the acclaimed Something Like Happiness (which is also screening during the series) says Forman's Black Peter was among his biggest influences.

Also included in this fest is a 19-minute sneak preview clip of Czech Peace (Český mir), Filip Remunda and Vit Klusák's "pre-war comedy" about recent US plans to install a radar base on Czech soil. These two did a fabulous mockumentary called Czech Dream that debuted at 2005's Tribeca Film Festival.

And there are two Dostoevsky-inspired films, including Saša Gedeon's The Return of the Idiot (Návrat idiota) with top starlet Ana Geislerova, who sadly had to cancel an appearance here to introduce it, as well as her starrer Something Like Happiness. Variety singled out its director Slama as among the top 10 directors to watch in 2009.

The series closes on October 29 with the North American premiere of Petr Zelenka's Karamazovi, about a Czech theater traveling to Poland to perform Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. The Dostoevsky classic is currently in the news with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's praise, in Moscow, for the book's attack on dogma.

From November 18th-22nd, 2009, BAMcinématek-- the repertory film program at BAM Rose Cinemas -- presents the 10th season of New Czech Films. The series features seven contemporary films from the Czech Republic--one North American premiere and three New York premieres.

Co-curated by Irena Kovarova and BAMcinématek with the New York Czech Center, this annual program has presented nearly 70 films with 25 guests including unforgettable discussions with auteurs such as Jan Švankmajer presenting his latest feature Lunacy (2005), Sláma with A Country Teacher (2008), and Oscar winning and nominated directors such as Jiří Menzel (I Served the King of England (2006)) and Jan Hřebejk (Divided We Fall - 2000).  Along with works by established directors, the series has included works by emerging filmmakers such as Champions (2004) by Marek Najbrt whose second feature Protector (2009) is the Czech Republic’s selection for this year's Academy Award nominations; Remunda and Klusák's Czech Dream (2004); and early films by Zelenka (Year of the Devil Wild Bees - 2001 and Something Like Happiness - 2005).

New Czech Films begins on November 18 with the North American premiere of Forman’s A Well Paid Walk (2009). The film is a comic jazz opera originally staged by Prague’s subversive Semafor Theater in the 1960s and filmed for TV by a young Forman, and now restaged by Forman in 2009. Forman will be at BAM on November 18 to speak with film writer Scott Foundas in a conversation expanding upon their first encounter in 2008 at Walker Art Center that covered Forman's entire film career.  

Continuing through November 22, the series also includes the New York premiere of acclaimed animator Maria Procházková’s Who’s Afraid of the Wolf? (2008) with Procházková coming to BAM on November 19. In honor of the Velvet Revolution's 20th anniversary, there will be another screening  Koutecký and Janek’s Citizen Havel, on November 20. Helena Třeštíková’s award-winning documentary René screens the following day, November 21 with Třeštíková on hand for a Q&A. Třeštíková directed Marcela (2006) which was selected for New Czech Films 2007. Also screening November 21 is (2008), Václav Marhoul’s Tobruck, a story about exiled Czech soldiers fighting alongside the Allies in the infamous battle set in North Africa during WWII.  

The final day of series, November 22, includes both Zelenka’s The Karamazovs and the New York premiere of Jan Hřebejk’s I’m All Good (2008), an entertaining ensemble comedy set in the early 1990s.  

For more information on The Ironic Curtain go to:

For the Czech Center go to:

For the BAM schedule go to:


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