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American Film Festival


The inaugural American Film Festival will be held in the heritage town of Wroclaw, Poland from October 20 to 24, 2010. It is the first film event in Eastern Europe exclusively devoted to contemporary and classic American cinema.


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Chaplin, Welles, Bogart, Curtis Shine At American Film Festival

 

While the main focus of the American Film Festival, Eastern Europe's first all-American film showcase, is on contemporary directors, the Festival is also presenting an eye-opening hommage to classic films and filmmakers from both the golden age of Hollywood and the last decade of American indie gems. The result is a full schedule designed to intrigue any casual or ardent admirer of American cinema.

In the section Play It Again, Sam, the Festival is bringing a smorgasboard of film classics, offering a rare treat to enjoy these films on the big screen. Charles Chaplin, one of cinema's first auteurs and one of the most influential film artists of any age, is represented in the program with his silent classics THE KID and THE GOLDRUSH. Also included is his 1940 cri-de-couer against the rise of Nazism, the wonderfully trenchant THE GREAT DICTATOR (with Charlie playing a version of the fanatically overwrought Adolph Hitler).

 

 

Perhaps the greatest debut film of all time, CITIZEN KANE by Orson Welles, is also on the program. A critique of American capitalism and obsession with fame (oh, how things have not changed in 70 years), the film established Welles as a singular film talent. The barely disguised subject of his film, famed publisher and power broker William Randolph Hearst, almost succeeded in having the film banned and burned, but luckily for us, it has remained intact. Current filmmaking giants such as Spielberg, Scorsese, Eastwood and others cite CITIZEN KANE as the film that convinced them that film could be art and started them off on their own legendary careers.

 

 

If one wants to know what is was about Humphrey Bogart that has made him such a legend, nearly 60 years after his death, one need only look at the wartime melodrama CASABLANCA. The 1941 film, shot on the Warner Brothers set by Hungarian-born director Michael Curtiz, offered Bogart the role of a lifetime as a not-as-cynical-as-he-seems cafe owner who is drawn into the fight because of the love of a woman (the radiant Ingrid Bergman) and the fidelity of a cause for freedom and justice.

 

Tony Curtis, arguably the last leading man groomed by the Hollywood studios, died last week. His final three decades were out of the public eye, but the film classics he made in the 1950s and 1960s, his most prolific decade, are remarkably consistent and contemporary. He had perhaps his most memorable role in the satire SOME LIKE IT HOT, a madcap comedy about two musicians (Curtis and a brilliant Jack Lemmon) who dress in drag to escape from a group of vicious gangsters. The film by Oscar winner Billy Wilder was recently named the Number One Comedy of All Time by the American Film Institute.

If you have never seen these classics or if you only know them from the small screen, this is your moment to pounce (if you are in Wroclaw, Poland, of course)......

Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Dailies Editor

 

 

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