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The 26th edition of FESTROIA: TROIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL will be held from June 4 to 13 in the beautiful coastal resort town of Setubal, Portugal. The Festival, the country's oldest and most prestigious, is known as the "Cannes of Portugal" and showcases international talents from around the world, with competition sections, special events and a program  of new works from emerging North American independent filmmakers from the U.S.A.


American Independents Compete For Jury Prize

The Dead GirlThe Dead Girl 

Friday, June 8--------Six American independent films are competing for a juried prize in the Independentes Americanos section of FESTROIA. The Festival has been a long supporter of American independent films and is one of the few in the world that showcases the work in a seperate section of its own and with a separate prize of its own. "America has always been a source of inspiration for world cinema", FESTROIA director Fernanda Silva explained. "We feel it is important to let our audiences know that American cinema goes beyond strictly Hollywood blockbusters, and includes thoughtful and provocative works from emerging filmmakers as well."

Thoughtful and provocative are two good adjectives to describe the diverse group of films in this year's American Independents competition. BOY CULTURE, directed by Q. Allan Brocka, is a worthy addition to the spate of gay-themed films that have become indie staples in the past two decades. The film features the prerequisite handsome young men on the prowl, but has added depth in exploring the difficulties that gay men (and everyone, for that matter) has in being vulnerable and opening oneself up to love. BOY CULTURE has recently opened theatrically in the United States and has consistently been among the Top Ten in the indie box office charts. It opens in Spain and the UK next week, with additional countries being added in the coming months.

CHALK, a mockumentary by Austin, Texas-based filmmaker Mike Akel, is a candid and often quite funny look at the struggles of teachers in one of the most hazardous professions. Shot on location at a suburban high school and populated by a cast of non-actors, the film mixes in four actors with a sea of "real people" to create a seamless thread of documentary commenting on narrative commenting on documentary. The film, which has won major awards at a number of festival, is opening theatrically next week in the United States.

THE DEAD GIRL, one of the most celebrated indie films of last year, brings together a stellar cast that includes Toni Collette, Mary Beth Hurt, Marcia Gay Harden, Piper Laurie, Brittany Murphy, Mary Steenburgen and James Franco in this highly emotional film about the discovery of a young girl's dead body, and the effect that has on her family and neighbors in a small American town. Director Karen Moncrieff brings great delicacy to the story, leaving audiences unsure of who is responsible for the girl's death, while exploring the guilt that inhabits everyone. The film was nominated for several Independent Spirit Awards following a successful theatrical run in the United States last year.

CHOKING MAN by London-based writer/director Steven Barron uses intense camerawork, expressive animation sequences, a highly original score, and a tight, literate script to convey the costs of loneliness. A young immigrant from Ecuador working at a diner in Queens, New York is part of the multi-cultural mix in an environment that is both welcoming and challenging to new arrivals on American soil looking for their share of the American dream. Is that dream a reality or is it simply a nightmare is one of the provocative questions asked in this highly intense and emotional film, which won the Gotham Award as Best Unreleased Film of the Year (hopefully this award, and a slew of positive reviews and awards at various film fesivals, will change the distribution status of the film). 

MAN IN THE CHAIR represents an artistic milestone for writer/director Michael Schroeder, who left a successful and profitable career as director of "b pictures" to attempt something of artistic merit and humanistic value. In telling the tale of the odd coupling of a troubled film-obsessed teenager with a burnt-out shell of a man who has been abandoned by Hollywood, Schroeder's emotional film not only surveys the central relationship, the boy's dysfunctional family, but also provides a highly charged commentary on the plight of the elderly in America's disposable culture. Christopher Plummer, in a career-capping performance, brings his grand visage and beautiful speaking voice to the richly written role of the former film gaffer who finds redemption by mentoring a troubled young man.

THE TREATMENT, adapted from a celebrated novel by director Oren Rudavsky and screenwriter Daniel Housman, tells the very New York story of a gifted teacher who is caught between the influences of his authoritarian psychotherapist (veteran actor Ian Holm in a fierce performance) and an emotionally needy widow (played with pathos by actress Famke Jensen). As the teacher (a great role for indie actor Chris Eigeman) bounces between these formidable characters, he also attempts to repair his broken relationship with his now crippled father (an effecting Harris Yulin). The teacher becomes the student of how to live life to its greatest potential in this polished film that is currently in release in the United States.  

Members of the special jury determining the prize winner in this very competitive category include: Czech director Marek Dobes, Portugese actor Miguel Asis and American film journalist/professor Denis West. The winner of the American Independents competition will be announced tomorrow evening. The diversity and individual power of each of these six films demonstrates the continued vitality of the American independent film movement, which continues to find original voices despite the long shadow cast by the Hollywood movie machine.

Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Online Dailies Editor

Comments (1)

Always America has to have a

Always America has to have a separate place than anyone. It's a Portuguese film festival with American films competing against each other. It seems pretty far out to me. Seems like someone's trying to make friends with some one else ... at any level. __________________________________________________ Drug Addiction Treatment


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Sandy Mandelberger
(International Media Resources)

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