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Gen Art Film Festival: seven films, seven parties

Seven film, seven parties. That’s the user-friendly concept behind the Gen Art Film Festival, one of New York’s most popular film showcases, which ran from April 5th to the 11th at the recently renovated Clearview Cinema in New York’s trendy Chelsea area.

The Festival is only one of the diverse programs produced by the Gen Art organization, which is a leading national arts and entertainment entity dedicated to promoting emerging talents in fashion, film, art and music. With offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Miami, Gen Art produces over 100 events a year.

The Festival’s focus on debut filmmakers, which draws a predominantly young and hip in crowd, has also positioned the event for major sponsorship support by the car company Acura, Jet Blue Airlines, Stella Artois and Johnny Walker Whiskey. And by only presenting seven titles over seven days, each film is given the royal treatment and a distinct spotlight for the public, press and attending film professionals.

The Festival opened on April 5th at the Ziegfeld Theater, New York’s largest single screen movie palace, with the premiere of Dreamland, a Sundance Film Festival favorite directed by Jason Matzner. The film is story of an eighteen-year-old beauty who lives in an eccentric community in the New Mexico desert. With a cast that includes Agnes Bruckner, John Corbett and Gina Gershon, the film is an emotional and heartfelt portrait of a modern American family. The fabulous after-party was held at The Park in Chelsea’s warehouse district, with DJ Rene Goulet spinning dance hits.

Other films showcased at the Festival included Wristcutters: A Love Story, a dark comedy about a young suicide’s fanciful after-life journey, directed by Goran Dukic; Behind The Mask, a surrealistic fantasy thriller that takes the viewer into the deranged mind of a psycho killer, directed by Scott Glosserman; Shut Up and Sing, directed by Bruce Leddy, is an ensemble comedy about the reunion of a group of diverse men who sang in a college a cappella group. The film recently won the Audience Award at the HBO Comedy Arts Film Festival.

Neverwas, a poignant drama directed by Scott Tuft, brings together Aaron Eckhart (the star of the satire Thank You For Smoking) and Oscar-nominated icon Ian McKellen, in a touching portrait of a psychiatrist son who tries to understand his father through the popular children’s book the father has penned. William Hurt, Jessica Lange, Nick Nolte and Alan Cumming, have delicious cameos in this special film about familial love.

One of the Festival highlights was the premiere of Fuck, a provocative and often hilariously funny documentary on the power of the infamous f-word. The film features interviews with scholars, stand up comedians and the general public, on how the four letter word is perhaps the most expressive in the English language. Archival footage of the seminal comedians Lenny Bruce and George Carlin, both of whom were censured for their “dirty words” provides a historical context to the on-going battle for free expression in America. An added plus is the highly original animation of Oscar nominee Bill Plympton. The film has recently been picked up for US distribution by ThinkFilm.

The Festival wrapped on April 11th with the premiere of Live Free or Die, co-directed by Gregg Kavet and Andy Robin, former writers/producers of the popular television sitcom Seinfeld. The film is a dynamic portrait of a young man in New England who is looking to make a name for himself as the baddest dude in New Hampshire. Rising young actor Aaron Stanford, who appears in the upcoming X Men sequel, makes an impression as the charismatic rebel. The Closing Night Party, held at Hell Kitchen’s Pacha Nightclub, was the perfect cap to a week of film treats and party favors. Kudos to Festival Director Jeff Abramson and his hard-working team!!

Sandy Mandelberger
Industry Editor


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