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The Reeler Blog

Homegrown Apples Served in NYC

Piter Marek and Niabi Caldwell in Face Value, one of the New York shorts screening at this year's Big Apple Film Festival (Photo: Back and Forth Films)

By Mat Newman

It seems like every year it gets harder to name a festival in this city. There just aren't enough namesakes left to choose from: New York, Tribeca, Queens, Harlem... everything's taken. But when the pickings get slim, festival directors look to nicknames. Hence the Big Apple Film Festival, launching its fourth year this week at Tribeca Cinemas. And while the event is relatively small compared to some of its aforementioned competition, its focus on New York talent gives it a distinctly local appeal.

"We're the only festival right now that focuses primarily -- 90 percent I'd say -- on the city," said festival director Jonathan Lipp. "We highlight filmmakers from New York, films that were made in New York and work that really puts a spotlight on the city. Every once in a while we have a film from somewhere else. Owl and the Sparrow (an opening-night selection from Korea) is a good example -- but most of our films are based here."

Indeed, Big Apple's highest-profile film this year is Tony Award-winning, New York-based actor Alan Cumming's new film Suffering Man's Charity. The film, co-starring David Boreanaz, Anne Heche and Carrie Fisher, celebrates its New York premiere Wednesday night. "It's a dark comedy that he directed and stars in; he really dominates the screen," Lipp said. Cumming will follow the screening with a Q&A, after which the festival will present him with its Golden Apple Award, given each year to an attendee who has been influential in New York independent film community.

Later in the week Big Apple hosts Samuel Goldwyn Films acquisitions exec Peter Goldwyn and other experts on a panel looking at film distribution in the digital age. "What we're really trying to focus on is how filmmakers are utilizing the Internet to market their films and how to separate yourself from the immense competition," Lipp told The Reeler. "You go to MySpace or Atom Films and there's just so many films. Shorts, features, trailers -- how do you stand out? We're opening up the floor so the audience can ask questions and get input from professionals and experts."

The Big Apple Film Festival opens tonight and runs through Nov. 17 at Tribeca Cinemas. Visit the festival Web site for ticket and program information.

Posted at November 14, 2007 9:38 AM

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