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Film Festivals

Socially Relevant Film Festival Returns for Third Year

Dance Iranian Style

Now in it’s third year, the rising Socially Relevant Film Festival (March 14 - 20, 2016) has its own blend of panels, documentaries, features, and shorts tackling a range of issues in today’s society in its mission to promote social change through the power of cinema.

Addressing genocide, sexuality, race, and identity, the Socially Relevant film fest assembles filmmakers from around the world for its hard-hitting themes and stories.

Documentaries include:

  • Who Killed the Armenians?
    Dir. Mohamed Hanafy Nasr
    Filmed in three countries: Egypt, Armenia and Lebanon, Who Killed the Armenians? unearths rare footage and interviews related to the genocide of the Armenian people during World War I.
  • The Neighborhood that Disappeared
    Dir. Mary Paley
    In 1962, one of the most massive urban renewal projects in American history sterilized the cultural and ethnic heart of Albany, New York. An arrangement made by first term Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller and longtime Albany Mayor, Erastus Corning the 2nd, displaced almost eight per cent of the City's diverse population, razed more than a thousand buildings, dislodged 3,600 households, and closed 350 businesses.
  • The Sex Temple
    Dir. Johan Palmgren
    Christian runs a swingers club in Norrkoping, Sweden. He has just experienced a catastrophe. The club has burnt to the ground. He meets Robin, the owner of the beautiful old theatre in town just about to start a LGBTQ burlesque show, inspired by the Moulin Rouge in Paris, in an effort to attract audiences and solve the theatre’s deficit. Having tenants in the empty cellar seems to be an excellent idea and the two new friends cooperate to bring new life to the theatre, while the townsfolk of Norrkoping are in rage against the upcoming Sex Temple.

 Narrative features include:

  • Caged No More
    Dir. Lisa Arnold
    A 67 year old Cajun woman, discovers that her two goddaughters have disappeared. She risks everything to cross paths with two of the wealthiest and most connected people in New Orleans through a laptop left behind, the only clue that she possesses. Even with their help, no one can foresee the dangers that lie ahead in the dark world of trafficking.
  • Before Spring
    Dir. Ahmed Atef
    A young blogger who lost both eyes during the Egyptian Revolution recounts in flashback the story of the Spring that has finally come to his country. He tells how he and his friends were able to move a mountain. His insight, which often surpassed his ability to see, predicted the coming Egyptian Revolution. This film is based on the true story of five young activist bloggers who should receive the greatest credit for inspiring the Egyptian Revolution.
  • Dance Iranian Style
    Dir. Farshad Aria
    After her refugee claim is denied by the Dutch Immigration Service, Roya, a young Iranian girl is forced to enter an illegal life on the streets of Amsterdam. Attempting to capture the experiences of an illegal refugee, the crew follows Roya from a distance. Entirely shot in Amsterdam, in a film-within-a-film storytelling structure, the film develops through an improvisational work style where fiction and reality interweave.

 There will also be panels and workshops addressing issues like low-budget production and distribution, the applications of virtual reality to filmmaking and documentary storytelling.

To learn more, go to:

Socially Relevant Film Festival
March 14 - 20, 2016

Various locations in Manhattan

A Look at SXSW 2016

When it comes to North American film festivals, Austin, TexasSouth By Southwest (or SXSW) is one of the top three fests, alongside Sundance and Toronto.  But SXSW not just a film festival, but a music festival, political event, and electronics trade show in one.

Most of the SXSW "festival territory" is on the notorious Sixth Avenue entertainment district, where there are dozens of clubs and the best pizza in the state. Within this area is 80% of the whole thing.

The SXSW festival (known by some as “South-buy”) was founded in 1986 by the people who ran the New Music Seminar ( After the first few years, the festival changed it’s name from NMS to Southwest, and became an annual fixture that basically takes over downtown Austin for two weeks.
The whole mishegas is divided into three major parts and several smaller ones. Music, Movies and Interactive, plus what they call “eco” and some other things I can’t recall.

The Interactive portion of the festival is is a trade show, pure and simple, with products on exhibition and various seminars.
The thing will start when at 8AM with the first panel discussions. President Obama himself makes a keynote speech Friday, March 11 at 2:30pm at Dell Hall at The Long Center for the Performing Arts (701 W Riverside Dr., off Guadalupe), admission for that is via a lottery.

When Interactive ends, then the music festival starts.  This is also a convention, but is more open and there are lots of places where one can just hang out and do what God put Austin there for you to do, listen to country-western and punk until you’re ears bleed.  The entire industry will be there to some extent and it’s going to be one of those party-till-you-drop events.

This thing goes on for nine days.
They’re going to screen 139 films: 89 world premieres, 14 North American premieres and seven U.S. premieres, including 52 films from first-time directors. These films were selected from 2,455 feature-length film submissions composed of 1,467 U.S. and 990 international feature-length films from a total of 7,235 submissions.

Among the highlights are a special work-in-progress preview screening of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s catnapping comedy Keanu, Richard Linklater’s  Dazed and Confused sequel Everybody Wants Some and John Michael McDonagh’s brilliantly titled: War on Everyone.

Notable world premieres include Mike Birbiglia’s  Don’t Think Twice, starring  the above mentioned Keegan-Michael Key; Ti West’s In a Valley of Violence, starring Ethan Hawke and Taissa FarmigaThe Master Cleanse, with Johnny Galecki and Anna Friel; Sophie Goodhart’s  My Blind Brother, starring Adam Scott and Nick Kroll; Shovel Buddies, featuring Bella Thorne; The Trust, starring Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood; and Kasra Farahani’s  The Waiting,  with James Caan.

Among the non premiers are: Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition, which opened Toronto in September, stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts and Chris Cooper and biopics about Miles Davis Miles Ahead, starring Don Cheadle, which closed the New York Film Festival last year) and Chet Baker (Born to Be Blue, starring Ethan Hawke).
Not only that, they’ve decided to include TV shows: Danny McBride’s Vice Principals will also be featured.
Between these three, there’s almost no time to sleep.  (there is also an “Eco” section, or so they say—wow).

Arnaud Desplechin Retrospective at Lincoln Center

My Golden Days

From March 11th through March 17th, the Film Society of Lincoln Center will be presenting a comprehensive retrospective of the films of Arnaud Desplechin, one of the most exciting and remarkable of contemporary filmmakers, whose extraordinary body of work includes such impressive achievements as: La Sentinelle, his fascinating and enigmatic first feature (regrettably screening in a digital format); My Sex Life… or How I Got Into an Argument, arguably his masterpiece (alas, also being screened in digital); and the absorbing Kings and Queen, one of his finest accomplishments.

The series is being launched to celebrate the release of the director’s beautiful new feature, the autobiographical My Golden Days, which will open at the Film Society on March 18th, and will be shown in a sneak preview on March 15th followed by Q&A with Desplechin (He will also be appearing on the 18th and the 19th).

My Golden Days revisits the character of Paul Dédalus, the fascinating protagonist of My Sex Life… or How I Got Into an Argument, reprised here by the outstanding Mathieu Amalric, an axiom for this filmmaker. A compelling tale of adolescent love, the film centers on the young Dédalus, convincingly played by the attractive Quentin Dolmaire, and the object of his passion, lusciously incarnated by Lou Roy-Lecollinet. Desplechin’s early work featured a controlled style but he plumbed a thrillingly manic, messier mode in such works as Kings and Queen and A Christmas Tale; My Golden Days is less formally original although it is unusually moving in effect and will surely prove to be one of the more memorable films of the year.
My Golden Days is a Magnolia Pictures release.
To learn more, go to:

Rendez-Vous with Fatima at Lincoln Center

The perennially popular Rendez-Vous with French Cinema, now in its 21st edition, will be returning to the Film Society of Lincoln Center on March 3rd and running through the 13th, featuring new works by such celebrated directors as Jacques Audiard, Emmanuel Finkiel, Danielle Arbid, and, above all, the incomparable Otar Iosseliani.

What is certain to be one of the strongest works in the series—as well as of the year—is the extraordinary Fatima by the superb, woefully underappreciated Philippe Faucon, several of whose previous features have been presented by the Film Society. The director’s beautiful debut feature, the 1990 L’Amour, which screened in the New Directors, New Films festival, had a musical, Bressonian style but he had developed a more lyrical mode by the time of his exquisite 1995 Muriel fait le désespoir de ses parents, screened in an earlier incarnation of Rendez-vous, programmed by Jean-Michel Frodon, then editor of Cahiers du Cinèma (Frodon had also programmed the director’s Sabine from 1993 in Rendezvous).
By the 2000 Samia, also screened in Rendez-vous, Faucon’s style had become its most purely Rossellinian, as well as evincing a deepened interest in Arab characters, both qualities of which can be seen in his new feature, based on the experiences and writings of the North African writer Fatima Elayoub, who emigrated from Morocco to Paris and supported her two daughters by working as a cleaning lady. The director is especially well-served by a large non-professional but astonishing cast. Fatima is an immensely moving work and should not be missed.
Fatima screens on Friday, March 4 at 2pm and on Sunday, March 13 at 4pm.

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