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Halifax Atlantic City will screen 220 films and 50 shorts

The 25th Atlantic Film Festival (AFF), September 15-24, 2005, announced today one of the largest line-up of films, industry programs and special events in the history of the Festival. This year's program includes a full slate of 220 Atlantic, Canadian and international films including the largest Atlantic program to date with 15 Atlantic features and 50 shorts. New special programs include: Focus on Germany, which will complement this year's Strategic Partners conference focus, plus the 25th AFF anniversary, Daniel Petrie, Sr., and Terry Gilliam retrospectives.

"Celebrating 25 years is an incredible milestone for the Atlantic Film Festival," said Gregor Ash, Executive Director. "When you reflect back on our humble beginnings and consider the market here in Atlantic Canada, it really is impressive how we've grown to become a major regional, cultural event and a top film festival. From our commitment to programming and intimate atmosphere to our array of internationally renowned events, the Association looks ahead to the next 25 years being even better."

The Empire Theatres Opening Gala will be the Atlantic premiere of 3 Needles, directed by Thom Fitzgerald (The Event, The Wild Dogs, The Hanging Garden). This epic film on a worldwide epidemic spans three continents and features a star-studded ensemble cast. In South Africa, Clara (Chloë Sevigny) is a novice nun. Her mission is to convert rapidly dying Africans to Catholicism before it's too late. Along with two fellow sisters (Sandra Oh, Olympia Dukakis), she runs a clinic to administer to the most ill villagers. In China, Jin Ping (Lucy Liu) sets up a mobile blood collection service in a remote village. When farmer Tong Sam (Tanabadee Chokpikultong) is barred from selling his blood because he has the flu, he lies about his daughter's age so she can sell blood twice a month instead. Soon, his wife and daughter are both mysteriously ill. In Canada, Denys (Shawn Ashmore) is a second-rate porn actor who passes his monthly blood tests by stealing samples from his geriatric father.

The 25th Atlantic Film Festival will also host eight major parties and receptions this year. The black-tie, red-carpet IFC Opening Gala Party will take over Argyle Street, from Sackville Street to Prince Street, where 3,000 party-goers are expected to gather. The party will feature Lennie Gallant, celebrating the release of his new CD “When We Get There” with DJs from DJ Olympics. Other East Coast artists appearing on the Tour Tech East Showcase Stage throughout the week include: Jessica Rhaye, Charlie A'Court, Jill Barber, Steven Bowers, Duane Andrews, Chucky Danger Band, Matt Anderson, The Novaks, Matt Mays, Blou, Nathalie Geddrey and Jacobus et Maleco. The majority of the music was programmed in conjunction with the East Coast Music Association, building on the relationship that was established in 2002 with a second AFF compilation CD featuring East Coast artists.

Closing the Festival is Lasse Hallström's An Unfinished Life. Based on the bestseller of the same name, Hallström (The Shipping News, The Cider House Rules) returns with an all-star cast in one of the most highly anticipated films of the year. Set against the rugged backdrop of the western United States, this is the story of a divided, modern-day family who learns the true meaning of forgiveness. Robert Redford (The Horse Whisperer) is Einar, a tough, retired rancher who is still in shock from his only son's death a decade earlier. He spends most of his time caring for his friend and hired hand, Mitch (Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby) who was seriously injured. His intention to live out his days in lonely, heartbroken self-pity is interrupted when the very person he blames for his son's death comes to town: his daughter-in-law, Jean (Jennifer Lopez, Shall We Dance), who introduces Einar to his granddaughter.

In addition to screenings, the Festival hosts the NSFDC Inspired Series that features insightful panels and conversations with industry professionals from around the world. Highlights of the NSFDC Inspired Series include panels and master classes on: casting, HD, new media, film critique, and scripts and to name a few. The annual Academy Luncheon will feature Laurie Brown in an intimate conversation with the esteemed director of our International Gala, Beowulf & Grendel, Sturla Gunnarsson and the executive producer, Iceland's prolific director/producer, Fridrik Thor Fridriksson. Both guests are prolific, award-winning, Oscar-nominees and very highly regarded in the film world.

Special Presentations include Rogers Presents... A Series of 8 Special Presentations. Rogers Presents... features Mike Mills’ coming-of-age Thumbsucker, Phil Morrison’s Junebug, Film Threat’s hilarious My Big Fat Independent Movie, locally shot thriller The River King, Lars von Trier’s controversial Manderlay, Steve James’ Reel Paradise, UK’s Fateless, and the critically acclaimed Me and You and Everyone We Know.

Building on its continued success, the 8th annual Strategic Partners (SP) co-production market, September 16-18, will focus on co-production opportunities between Germany, Canada, the UK and the US. The conference will explore interprovincial and international collaborations and offer the latest information on the marketplace. One of the keynote speakers at this year's Strategic Partners is Cathy Schulman, Bull’s Eye Entertainment (Thumbsucker, Paul Haggis' Crash). Karl Baumgartner of Pandora Film Distribution will also be a featured keynote speaker. Some of Pandora's credits include films such as Emir Kusturica's Underground, Nostalghia by Andrej Tarkovsky and Farewell my Concubine by Chen Kaige as well as Jane Campion's The Piano and Aki Kaurismäki's The Man Without a Past.

Back this year is the 2nd Annual Gerd Kurz Memorial Golf Tournament featuring a “who's who” of the film and television industry on September 19, at Glen Arbour Golf Club. This tournament is also open to the public. Gerd Kurz, founder of Precision Camera Inc. and an AFF sponsor, passed away in 2003 at age 61. Always a strong supporter of the Atlantic Film Festival, he provided outstanding service to the motion picture industry in Atlantic Canada and across the country.

To set things in motion for the 25th anniversary, AFF will present Film on the Hill, a special alFresco-style outdoor screening on Citadel Hill on September 9. Film on the Hill will screen the popular 1965 classic, The Sound of Music, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. The free screening starts at 8:00 PM or dusk and moviegoers are asked to bring a blanket for seating.

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