The Reeler
FESTIVAL CALENDAR

JUNE

--Brooklyn International Film Festival
--Human Rights Watch International Film Festival
--Media That Matters Festival
--NewFest LGBT Film Festival
--Rooftop Films
--Swiss American Film Festival
--Urbanworld

JULY

--Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Films
--NY African Film Festival
--NY Asian Film Festival
--NY Asian American Film Festival
--NY International Latino Film Festival
--Reel Venus Film Festival
--Rooftop Films
--Rural Route Film Festival
--Scanners: The NY Video Festival

AUGUST

--ACE Film Festival
--Central Park Film Festival
--LaCinemaFe Film Festival
--NY Korean Film Festival
--Rooftop Films

SEPTEMBER

--Coney Island Film Festival
--Impact Festival
--IFP Market/Independent Film Week
--NY Brazilian Film Festival
--NYC Midnight Movie Making Madness
--Next Reel International Film Festival

OCTOBER

--Cinekink
--CMJ FilmFest
--DocFest
--E.Vil City Film Festival
--Fordham Law Film Festival
--Hamptons International Film Festival
--Harlem International Film Festival
--NY Film Festival
--NY Bad Films Festival
--NYC Horror Film Festival
--NY Turkish Film Festival
--Pordenone Silent Film Festival Weekend at BAM
--Russian Film Week
--South Asian International Film Festival
--Woodstock Film Festival

NOVEMBER

--African Diaspora Film Festival
--Avignon New York Film Festival
--Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival
-- International Dog Film Festival
--Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival
--Native American Film + Video Festival
--NY International Independent Film and Video Festival
--NY Lesbian & Gay Experimental Film Festival
--Queens International Film Festival

JANUARY

--Explorers Club Documentary Film Festival
--NY Jewish Film Festival

FEBRUARY

--NY Arab and South Asian Film Festival
--Red Shift Festival
--SinCine Fest

MARCH

--Craic Film Fleadh
--Fusion Film Festival
--Harlem Stage on Screen
--Independent Thai Film Festival
--New Directors/New Films
--NY International Children's Film Festival
--NY Underground Film Festival
--Westchester Film Festival

APRIL

--Brooklyn Underground Film Festival
--Gen Art Film Festival
--Havana Film Festival in NY
--NY African Film Festival
--Sprout Film Festival
--Tribeca Film Festival
--Urban Visionaries Film Festival

MAY

--Bicycle Film Festival
--Bosnian-Herzegovinian Film Festival
--NY International Children's Film Festival
--NY Minute Film Festival
--NY Polish Film Festival
--Pacifika: NY Hawaiian Film Festival
--Sundance at BAM
--Be Film / Tribeca Underground Film Festival

ONGOING --Animation Block
--Asbury Shorts of New York
--Caroline's Funny Film Shorts
--First Sundays Comedy Film Festival
--NewFilmmakers

NYC Film Festivals

Manhattan Festival Madness


Three's company: (L-R) Filmmakers Albert Maysles and Kenneth Anger with Sylvia Miles at the New York Film Festival's mid-point party Sunday night at O'Neals (Photo: STV)

After a day's recovery from the far-flung ribaldry of the Coney Island Film Festival, The Reeler made the Manhattan festival rounds on Sunday -- four events running the length of the island, from Union Square to Harlem. First up was the Filipino Film Festival, which took over the ImaginAsian Theater on East 59th Street and runs through Oct. 19 with everything from international fest sensations (The Blossoming of Maximo Oliveros, Cavite) to non-subtitled Philippines imports (Biyaya Ng Lupa, Merika).

Outside the theater screening his film Closer to Home, director Joseph Nobile told The Reeler he had been invited on the basis of the festival's Philippine Centennial celebration; Closer to Home addresses a woman's journey from the countryside to the city attempting to support her debt-ridden family, eventually considering the potential for immigration to the United States. Completed in 1999, festival director Vincent Nebrida viewed the film in 2005 before programming it this year.

Nebrida is also serving as executive producer on Nobile's next film, "a myth" that shoots next year on the island of Batanes. "Right in the typhoon belt," said Nobile, an Italian-American New Yorker who shrugged off telling the "long story" of how he started making films in the Far East. "It's the northernmost island in the Philippines, closer to Taiwan that it is to the Philippine mainland. We're scheduled to shoot in January to April of next year; we only have that short window because of the storms. The homes are made out of stone. They're a meter thick to protect them from the storms. It's a pretty interesting place."

Filipino star Cesar Montano is reportedly considering a part in the new film, which Nobile also said has backing from Maximo Oliveros' American distributor Unitel Pictures. Meanwhile, Closer to Home is settled on DVD after a 20-festival run over the last few years.

Regrettably, I had to fly before Nobile handled his Q&A; the South Asian International Film Festival was winding down near Union Square -- and not without a little controversy. After a late delivery scuttled the opening-night premiere of Tanuja Chandra's NYC drama Hope and a Little Sugar, another insurmountable print delay wiped out the closing-night world premiere of the Bollywood spectacle Jaan-E-Mann. Festival director Manjri Srivastava didn't miss a beat, however, promptly slotting the New York premiere of Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad's comedy It's a Mismatch (below) in its place.

It was a veteran move by anything but a self-professed veteran. "We're still toddlers," Srivastava said. "It started by just taking a look at the marketplace and realizing there was an absence of a platform for this type of filmmaking -- specifically from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. So we went out there and took a chance and did it by the seat of our pants for year one. Year two was, 'Could we survive and do it again?' And this year we've taken a huge leap in terms of putting ourselves out there, getting our names into different filmmakers' hands and different companies' hands, reaching out to distribution companies at a different level."

Srivastava noted that among the festival's 50 selections were a world premiere from Pakistan, one of Sri Lanka's best films of 2005 and numerous short films making their American debuts. "Strategically, we made the choice to pick the best of the best and give them the opportunity to be seen in New York," she said.

Uptown, Harlem International Film Festival co-founder B. Lorenzo Roache was winding down his own event, preparing for today's finale and awards show from the festival's home base on Frederick Douglass Blvd.

"We initially began in February in 2004," Roache told The Reeler Sunday night. "It's a lot of work, and when we were going to do it, we wanted to do it in September 2004. At least that's what we thought. Then we realized a lot more work a lot more research has to go into this. So we waited an extra year, garnered more support, and now we're on the map. Once you find out about something and it starts to spread, it turns into a forest fire. More and more people are coming out -- 'Oh, my friend told me,' or 'I just heard about this.' Last year, we didn't even have T-shirts."

This year's sophomore series features more than just new swag and step-and-repeats, though. The programmers locked down a total of 77 films, quadrupled its 10-volunteer team from 2005, featured a Harlem Spotlight program for local filmmakers and welcomed names from Adrian Grenier (introducing his directorial debut Euthanasia) to Mario Van Peebles (accepting the festival's Renaissance Award). The international component brought in films from England, Greece, Kenya, Jamaica, Australia, Israel and elsewhere. Tonight's Brownstone Awards ceremony starts at 9 p.m. at Casa Frela Gallery on West 119 Street; the festival's Web site stresses only filmmakers and press may attend, but Roache told me the event is, in fact, open to the public. And I have to presume he would know.

The next and final stop was the New York Film Festival's annual director's party at O'Neals, perhaps the only place in the city (outside, say, Christopher Hitchens' apartment) where the cultural elite wash down traditional omelettes-and-bacon plates with hard alcohol. At least a few attendees insisted David Lynch had dropped in briefly before heading over to the Q&A for Inland Empire, but I didn't see him, though his star Laura Dern indeed made a 10-minute appearance and bolted without partaking of the ritualistic line-waiting for breakfast at 10 p.m.

Also on hand was NYFF stalwart Sylvia Miles, who had her own table reserved at the front of the room to entertain iconic contemporaries like Kenneth Anger and Albert Maysles. My attempt to pry quotes from any and/or all of the trio was met with a delightfully dry "get the fuck out of here" stare from Ms. Miles over her sunglasses; maybe it was an invitation to hurry it up, but I was not taking any chances. At least the picture came out.

Anyway, festival madness continues on The Reeler in the weeks ahead with more NYFF, Cinekink and a possible foray to the Hamptons. If I can remember how to get there.

Posted at October 9, 2006 10:40 AM

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