This year’s American Film Festival features a new section called Ale kino+ Discoveries. Audiences will have a chance to see 11 independent American productions sponsored by the Ale kino+ cable channel. The majority of these will be the first or second films by directors in search of their own original means of cinematic expression or that are otherwise particularly interesting in terms of their form or subject matter.
This section includes interesting achievements of American auteur cinema, usually debut or sophomore efforts from independent directors. Selections include Joshy by Jeff Baen, a hit at Sundance; it is an unruly comedy about a bachelor party-cum-wake that spirals out of control, and The Fits by Anna Rose Holmer, a film that grabbed awards in festivals in Cleveland and Deauville, in which rival cheerleaders fall victim to strange seizures that suggest demonic possession.
The most important documentary productions of the season, showing predominantly America in the XXI century.
The competitions are the focus of every film festival and The American Film Festival has two premiere competition sections. Spectrum, which is a panorama of contemporary American cinema (14 films in competition), and American Docs, where the season’s leading documentaries showing various faces of America vie for the top prize (10 films). The audience awards will go to films competing in two categories, feature and documentary. The awards in both competitions, $10,000 and $5,000, are sponsored by BNY Mellon, while the special prize is provided by the Ale kino+ cable station (offer to purchase broadcast rights). ji).
The section’s curator, Marcin Giżycki, author of the book Wenders do domu, has selected over a dozen cult films made by European directors in the USA. They span from Sergio Leone, to Werner Herzog, Brunon Dumont, to Lars von Trier. The review program offers quite divergent views of American reality, such as Lions Love and… Lies (1969) directed by Agnès Vardy (the review includes five films produced in the USA by this French director), the dark Zabriskie Point (1970) by Italian master Michelangelo Antonioni, the brutal Punishment Park (1971), by Peter Watkins who is British (both films are from the era of the hippie rebellion), and a story full of human warmth from small town America, Bagdad Café (1997), directed by Percy Adlon, a German living for many years in Los Angeles.
This section presents hot films from 2016 international festivals and top picks by AFF programmers. Marquee films include Wiener-Dog by Todd Solondz, which was warmly received at Sundance (Solondz had his retrospective and received the Indie Star Award at the 2nd AFF). The film is an odyssey poking fun at small-town America, featuring the eponymous dog and a star-studded cast of Greta Gerwig, Julie Delpy, and Danny DeVito. Another Sundance hit on AFF screens is Certain Women, dir. Kelly Reichardt, about the lives and dramas of women form Montana, starring Michelle Williams, Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart. Viewers can enjoy a complex portrait of family relationships in The Fang Family, directed by Jason Bateman, who also stars alongside Nicole Kidman and Christopher Walken. Everybody will flock to the latest film from Richard Linklater, Everybody Wants Some!!, in which the indie film master references the scene from his cult favorite Dazed and Confused by conjuring up the nostalgic charm of the last days of summer vacation as spent by Texas college kids in the 1980s.
Gala screenings of the newest well known titles, premiere screenings of films by renowned directors.
In addition to the opening and closing films described above, the Highlights section includes Loving and American Honey as well as the pre-premiere of Clint Eastwood’s latest film starring Tom Hanks – Sully, about a pilot Chesley Sullenberger, who deftly landed a crippled passenger airliner on the Hudson River.
As each year, AFF will give out its Indie Star Award for lifetime achievement in independent American film. This year, the prize goes to New York avant-garde film legend, Jonas Mekas. This Lithuanian-American has lived in the United States since the late 1940s. Mekas, as the author of journal film, is considered the leading representative of New American Cinema. AFF audiences will have an opportunity to view his 2012 film Out-Takes from the Life of a Happy Man. The venerable master will be unable to attend in person, but will take part in his awards ceremony via the Internet.
Discoveries, experiments, author’s films, very often ‘on the edge’ of the commonly acknowledged forms and acceptable subjects. Among the experimental films in this section, you’ll find Fraud by Dean Fleischer-Camp, who edited down hundreds of hours of YouTube videos uploaded by a stranger, in a film that blurs the line between truth and fiction, as well as the Grand Jury Prize winner from Slamdance, Driftwood by Paul Taylor about a tension-filled “game” between a mysterious woman found on the beach and her rescuer.
On Tuesday, October 25, the festival opens with the Polish premiere of Paterson by Jim Jarmusch, the hit of this year’s Cannes Film Festival. In his latest film, the rebel of American cinema pays tribute to a normal life in which you can find true poetry. This is exactly what the main character, a modest bus driver (Adam Driver), accomplishes, by scribbling poems in a secret notebook. On Sunday, October 30, the festival will close with Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, which won the Silver Lion in Venice. It is a rapacious noir film about love and revenge with hypnotizing music by Abel Korzeniowski, and stars Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal.
After the AFF retrospective of Welles films in 2014, this year’s retrospective is devoted to the European films of the genius director and actor. Orson Welles (1915-1985), director of Citizen Kane, which heads many best-films-of-all-time lists, began working with increasing frequency in Europe in the 1950s (France, Italy, Yugoslavia) to escape the commercial nature of the Hollywood system. The 7th AFF features adaptations of Shakespeare plays, as well as The Trial (1962) based on Franz Kafka’s novel, or, a distinctive kind of artistic credo, F for Fake (1973). There will also be two unique sets of Welles’s little known works: unfinished film and TV projects shot in Europe. The program includes Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of Orson Welles, a documentary directed by Chuck Workman (2014).
American or American-European co-productions selected among the 2016 Polish releases including the opening film of 2015 AFF edition, Carol, Indie Star Award helmed Love and Friendship or latest from Warner Herzog Lo and Behold. [Note: non-English language films in the section are not subtitled in English].
This out-of-competition section features giants of American pop culture David Lynch: The Art Life, dir. Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes and Olivia Neergaard-Hol; Richard Linklater – Dream Is Destiny, dir. Karen Bernstein and Louis Black; Gimme Danger (about Iggy Pop and The Stooges) dir. Jim Jarmusch. Special treats include the winner of South by South West, an animated documentary Tower, dir. Keith Maitland, about the 1966 massacre on the University of Texas campus) and a film that won the prize for best director at Sundance – Life, Animated, dir. Roger Ross Williams, about an autistic boy who communicates with the world via Disney cartoons.
The section features opening episodes of new HBO series (Insecure, Divorce, Westworld) as well as a new part of AFF – short film sets. One of the sets is screening with the cooperation of the American Film Institute Conservatory and includes AFIC graduate David Gerson’s All These Voices, inspired by the life of Tadeusz Kantor. The film received the student Oscar this year. Another set of shorts, Jonathan Demme presents: Made in Texas, are Demme’s picks that reflect the independent spirit of Austin, Texas; one of the films is directed by Louis Black, a guest at this year’s AFF.
A panorama of contemporary American cinema, new feature films: ‘middle cinema’, films by renowned filmmakers, new talents, interesting phenomena.
The competitions are the focus of every film festival and The American Film Festival has two premiere competition sections. Spectrum, which is a panorama of contemporary American cinema (14 films in competition), and American Docs, where the season’s leading documentaries showing various faces of America vie for the top prize (10 films). The audience awards will go to films competing in two categories, feature and documentary. The awards in both competitions, $10,000 and $5,000, are sponsored by BNY Mellon, while the special prize is provided by the Ale kino+ cable station (offer to purchase broadcast rights).
As part of the Europeans in America review, we will screen six films by Wim Wenders produced in America, which are part of the director’s retrospective ongoing at Wrocław’s Kino Nowe Horyzonty from September through December 2016. The titles include the now classic Paris, Texas (1984), and Lightning Over Water (1980), a documentary about Nicholas Ray – interestingly, Ray was featured in an AFF retrospective four years ago.