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One Film/One Party: Gen Art FF's Winning Formula


Wednesday, April 2------One film/one party…’s a formula that has served the Gen Art Film Festival well during the last dozen years. Well, the film + party theme kicks off again this evening, as the 13th Annual Gen Art Film Festival begins a week-long showcase of the best of new American independent cinema. The Festival, presented by Acura, offers spotlight showcases seven features and seven shorts from emerging filmmakers, which are followed by seven premiere parties at some of New York’s trendiest restaurants and nightclubs. This is one film event that allows film buffs to experience a movie premiere like a true insider. In its way, the Festival is like an interactive experience, allowing filmmakers, media, and the audience to share in the excitement.  The premiere parties will be held at exclusive NYC nightspots including The Bowery Hotel, Kiss & Fly, Pink Elephant, Prime, The Park, Touch, and Spotlight Live.


“Movies are a social experience”, Gen Art Film Festival Director and Film Division Vice President Jeff Abramson told me in an interview (more from Jeff in a detailed interview later this week). “We accentuate that social element by having film lovers meet for one showcase screening and then invite all audience members to join us for an exclusive party at a hot spot that they may not even know. Since we only show seven films, one per night, the spotlight is directed on the film and filmmakers, and the audience is there for a big party.” The Festival brings to New York premieres of films that have had their first exposure at Sundance, Slamdance, South By Southwest and Toronto. “Our audiences are of a certain mind set”, Abramson explained. “We can really take chances with our programming to stress works that are wildly individual and creative, which is what our audience appreciates and savors.”


While finding creative threads in this year’s program is perhaps best left to individual experience, the films selected have a common theme of over-coming adversity and finding inner peace in a complicated world. Festivities begin this evening at the Ziegfeld Theater, the preeminent single-screen movie palace still standing in New York, with DIMINISHED CAPACITY, directed by Terry Kinney. This delightful, bittersweet comedy about two men struggling with memory loss toplines Matthew Broderick and Alan Alda, who are both expected to attend tonight’s premiere. The Festival closes on April 8 with THE TAKE, which features a fierce performance by indie fave John Leguizamo as a family man who is thrown into a violent situation and must find the balance between morality and revenge. The film, directed by Brad Furman, also stars Tyrese Gibson, Bobby Cannavale and Rosie Perez. Following the Opening Night, films will be screened at the Visual Arts Theater, formerly the Chelsea West on West 23 Street, which was recently acquired by the School of Visual Arts.


The eclectic mix of dramatic features and documentaries includes a rare World Premiere. NIGHTLIFE, directed by Tim Sanderson, is a post-modern take on the classic vampire tale. In this mockumentary comedy, a small film crews follows six of the undead in their night-to-night sojourns for the blood of their latest victims. The film, which features a cast of little known actors, knowingly references classic vampire films of the past, while offering a contemporary off-kilter look at the clash between good and evil, low-budget indie style.


Other films of note premiering at the Festival include: COOK COUNTY (David Pomes), a family drama about the tensions between father and son in a run-down shack in the middle of nowhere, where crystal meth is the ruling currency; SURFWISE (Doug Pray), a classic American drop-out story about a doctor who abandons his successful medical practice to find self-fulfillment in life as a nomadic surfer; HALF-LIFE (Jennifer Phang), a compelling hybrid of live-action and animation that tells the tale of a young teenage girl’s dysfunctional life in an apocalyptic surburban landscape, featuring a cast of unforgettable misfits and miscreants; and FROST (Steve Clark) features an excellent performance from up-and-coming actor Jason Behr as a handsome, well-connected and utterly depressed young man who is awakened to life by a precocious 11-year-old neighbor. A short film will be presented before each feature, and all the filmmakers are expected to attend, which should make for lively question-and-answer sessions.


On the Closing  Night, the Festival will also host its Awards Ceremony, announcing the winners of the Acura Grand Jury Awards, given to a feature film and a short, along with a monetary prize of $10,000 and $5,000 respectively. The “Star Gazer Award” honors breakout talent for excellence in acting. Lastly, there is the Gen Art Film Festival Audience Award for Best Feature and Best Short, respectively. In the past, the Festival has recognized such emerging acting talents as Jennifer Connelly, Adrian Grenier, Taye Diggs, Marcia Gay Harden, Zach Braff, Tracee Ellis Ross, Amanda Peet and Ron Livingston, and debut directors including Brad Anderson, Richard Shepherd and Tim Blake Nelson.

Gen Art is the leading arts and entertainment organization dedicated to showcasing the best emerging talent in film, fashion, visual arts and music. With offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and San Francisco, Gen Art has succeeded in launching the careers of many young filmmakers, fashion designers, visual artists and musicians, providing them with high-profile events that welcome industry and new audiences alike. For more information, tickets and schedule for this year’s Gen Art Film Festival, call (212) 255-7300 or visit Gen Art’s website at 

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor 


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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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