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Claus Mueller

Claus Mueller is a Film Festival Ambassador to

He is based in New York where he covers the festival scene.


New York: Socially Relevant Film Festival: March 2016 Preview

The third edition of this relatively new and unknown festival will be held from  March 14-20  in Manhattan’s Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea. In the first two years 108 films from 33 countries  were shown in smaller venues  drawing an audience of more than 200. Established by filmmaker Nora Armani as a non-profit film festival SRFF occupies a unique niche with its focus on socially relevant films reelecting universal human interests contributing to positive change but foregoing any inclusion of violence.  The first edition was financed by the founder and director Nora Armani. Given the positive response to the premiere of this unique festival grant funding as well as individual and service contributions made the second edition possible. As with other new film festivals funding remains a challenge though the prospects are encouraging. As in past years the program is restricted to productions which premiere at the fest, excelling in production quality and superb story telling.  They are selected in four competition categories feature length narratives, documentaries, short films and screenplays and are chosen by panels of film professionals bestowing numerous awards. The documentary grand prize includes a distribution deal by Indiepix covering also winning shorts. Cinema Libre grants to the best documentary postproduction services.

The 2016 edition party is held on March 14 at McSorley’s Old Ale House, the oldest Irish pub in New York, with festival screenings through March 19 at Bow Tie Cinemas. It concludes on March 20 with an awards ceremony at the Center for Remembering and Sharing.  In the morning of March 19 a panel on Distribution and Shaping the Documentary is scheduled at the School of Visual Arts.

The program includes more than 40 productions featuring six narrative films and eight documentaries and numerous shorts, drawn from more than 400 submissions obtained through film festival distribution platforms such as Withoutabox and Filmfreeway. The selection this year is rather impressive since it provides a rather comprehensive relevant thematic range. Features and documentaries focus on human trafficking,  immigration & refugees, self discovery, urban life, gentrification, disabilities,  gender issues, genocide, and human exploitation to name but a few.

Unless noted otherwise the productions premiering are from 2015.  The narrative section includes Caged No More, USA/Greece, 2016; I Am Not From Barcelona, Belgium/Spain; Before the Spring, Egypt; Escapes, Spain, 2013; Dance Iranian Style, Netherlands; and The Cursed Ones, UK/Ghana. Selected documentary features are All Meshed Up, Netherlands, 2014;  Who Killed The Armenians, Egypt; Aile Contre Aile (Supersonic Women), France;  Tamashi (Soul), USA/Japan;  The neighborhood That Disappeared, USA, 2014; The Sex Temple, Sweden; Beneath The Olive Tree, USA/Greece; and Sense  The Wind, USA.  The intriguing program is   certainly promising.  Though this year’s venue is larger, the small audience drawn to the festival has the advantage of permitting more discussions. All narrative films have a Q&A period as do five of the eight documentaries, another aspect setting the SRFF apart from most other film festivals. For more information check

Claus Mueller

About Claus Mueller