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Documentary Features In Competition At American Film Festival

The AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL (AFF), the first film event in Eastern Europe solely devoted to the works of contemporary and classic American cinema, has announced the American Documentary Features that will compete for an Audience Award, with a cash prize of USD$5,000 and a chance at Eastern European distribution. The program in the AMERICAN DOCS section of the Festival is drawn from films that made strong impressions at such film festivals as Cannes, Sundance, South By Southwest (SXSW), Tribeca, Los Angeles and other festivals that highlight American indie documentaries. Three of the films are European Premieres and all are having their first showings in Poland. “The documentary movement in American cinema has a long and distinguished tradition and we feel committed to giving exposure to this superb genre of American film”, AFF Artistic Director Urszula Sniegowska stated. “Documentaries, even more than dramatic features, get to the heart of where America has been, where it is now and where it is going…….subjects that are of great interest to our audiences.”


The fifteen documentary features in competition in alphabetical order include: 180° SOUTH (Chris Malloy, Polish Premiere), an exciting road film about adventurer Jeff Johnson as he retraces the epic 1968 journey of his heroes Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins to Patagonia; AMERICAN MYSTIC (Alex Mar, European Premiere), a revealing look at three young people, each a member of a fringe religious community, who have separated themselves from mainstream America in order to live immersed in their faiths; AND EVERYTHING IS GOING FINE (Steven Soderbergh, Polish Premiere), the life and death of monologist Spalding Gray, a gifted theater and film artist whose disillusionment with celebrity brought him to despair and suicide; and BLANK CITY (Celine Danhier, Polish Premiere), a portrait of the New York downtown art scene of the 1970s, when music, art, fashion and experimental filmmaking collided and created a true independent aesthetic.


Other distinguished films in the program include: BOXING GYM (Frederick Wiseman, Polish Premiere) , the 38th film of documentary legend Frederick Wiseman continues his examination of the institutions of American by focusing on amateur boxers who are looking to escape poverty; CAPITALISM: A LOVE STORY (Michael Moore, Polish Premiere), the latest political timebomb from America’s most celebrated documentary provocateur Michael Moore; RIDE, RISE, ROAR (Hillman Curtis, Polish Premiere), a portrait of musician and renaissance man David Byrne, the former lead singer for the TALKING HEADS and his career as a musician, songwriter, filmmaker, publisher and artist; SONS OF PERDITION (Tyler Measom and Jennilyn Merten, European Premiere), a shattering inside look at Mormon teenagers who have become religious refugees in mainstream America after escaping from polygamist families and SOUNDTRACK FOR A REVOLUTION (Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, Polish Premiere), winner of the Best Documentary Film at the Chicago Film Festival, this powerful film tells the story of the American civil rights movement through its inspirational music.


Rounding out the list of distinguished docs are: STONEWALL UPRISING (Kate Davis and David Heilbroner, Polish Premiere), an archive-rich recount of the historic raid on a gay bar in Greenwich Village and the popular protest that gave rise to the gay liberation movement; TEENAGE PAPARAZZO (Adrian Grenier, Polish Premiere), an eye-opening portrait of a teenage paparazzo in Los Angeles, as told by the object of his attention, television and film star Adrian Grenier; THE PEOPLE VS. GEORGE LUCAS (Alexandre O. Philippe, USA, Polish Premiere), a courtroom debate approach to explore the issues of filmmaking and fanaticism around one of the industry's most famous franchises and its creator; THE TWO ESCOBARS (Michael Zimbalist and Jeff Zimbalist, Polish Premiere), ans engaging documentary reveals the intertwined fate of Pablo Escobar, the most powerful drug kingpin in the world, and Andres Escobar, the biggest soccer star in Colombia; THE WRECKING CREW (Denny Tedesco, Polish Premiere), a revealing and intimate look at the back-up bands who provided the real music of the 1960s and 1970s; and VISIONARIES (Chuck Workman, European Premiere), Oscar-winning compilation film artist Chuck Workman's loving tribute to the American avant-garde cinema of the 1960s and 1970s, with particular focus on pioneering filmmaker and archivist Jonas Mekas and individual film artists such as Stan Brakhage, Kenneth Anger, Peter Kubelka, Bob Downey, Su Friedrich, and others from the golden age of underground cinema.


The AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL will be held from October 20 to 24 in the cultural heritage city of Wroclaw, Poland. The Festival, which also is presenting 20 narrative features in competition, is also hosting the most complete retrospective ever in the region of American director, screenwriter and actor John Cassavetes. The Festival is organized by the New Horizons Association, which also presents the ERA NEW HORIZONS International Film Festival (www.enh.pl) in July, named by the Polish Film Institute as the most important film event in the country. For more information, visit: www.americanfilmfestival.pl


Sandy Mandelberger
The AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL Dailies

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