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Gen Art Film Festival Celebrates 15th Anniversary

 

It has been a decade and a half since Gen Art, the nationwide networking organization devoted to art, fashion, music and movies, first launched a New York-based film festival to highlight works from emerging American independent artists. But different from other festivals of a similar stripe, the Gen Art concept was quite simple: seven films shown over seven nights with audience members invited to an after-party at a hot club or restaurant each evening. This winning formula has allowed the Festival to create its own niche in the New York film world, with a sister festival launched in Chicago (and, in the future, possibly Los Angeles) that will operate in the same audience-friendly manner.  

 

Wedged in between New Directors New Films, which ends this weekend, and the Tribeca Film Festival later this month, the 15th Gen Art Film Festival skirts away from the “difficult” films that mark the earlier festival and the multimedia extravaganza that Tribeca has become. Its focus is squarely on the films and the filmmakers in an intimate setting where audience members and industry professionals can have an easy exchange of ideas and reactions. And the parties are pretty awesome too.

 

Opening the festival will be Josh Radnor’s writing/directing debut “happythankyoumoreplease”, a New York-shot dramedy which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Radnor, best known to audiences for his role on the television comedy hit “How I Met Your Mother”, leads an eclectic cast of indie faves including Malin Akerman, Kate Mara, Tony Hale, Pablo Schreiber and Zoe Kazan. The film follows the lives of six New Yorkers as they juggle love, friendship, career and the keenly challenging specter of adulthood.

 

Closing the festival is “Mercy”, directed by celebrity fashion photographer Patrick Hoelck and written and produced by Scott Caan, who also stars along with Wendy Glenn, Troy Garity, Erika Christensen, with Dylan McDermott and the legendary James Caan (Scott’s dad). The drama revolves around a cocky LA novelist who doesn’t believe in love until he meets a female literary critic named Mercy. The film marks a memorable pairing of Caans pere and fils and continues to consolidate the younger son’s charismatic screen presence that he exhibited in such films as “Ocean’s Eleven”, “Gone In Sixty Seconds” and “Friends With Money”. The film will be released by IFC Films later this year.

 

The remaining films, all to be screened at the re-designed, state of the art Visual Arts Theater in the Chelsea district of Manhattan, include an intriguing mix of cinematic genres and styles, all united in their individual expression and envelope-pushing subject matter. Highlights include “Elektra Luxx”, a steamy drama fresh from its South By Southwest Film Festival debut,  directed by Sebastian Gutierrez, starring Carla Gugino, Timothy Olyphant and  Joseph Gordon-Levitt; the Toronto Film Festival sleeper “Tanner Hall”, co-directed by Francesca Gregorini and Tatiana von Furstenberg, starring Rooney Mara, Tom Everett Scott and Chris Kattan; “Waiting For Forever”, a multi-generational directed by James Keach and starring Rachel Bilson, Matt Davis, Jamie King, Blythe Danner and Richard Jenkins; the Slamdance Festival Audience winner “The Wild Hunt” directed by Alexandre Franchi; and “Entourage” star Adrian Grenier’s personal and thoughtful documentary “Teenage Paparazzo”, which explores the media’s obsession with the celebrity culture.”

 

 “In celebration of our 15th year, we have curated a slate that is perfect for our core Gen Art audience of young, thoughtful tastemakers who seek to satiate their hunger for culture through support of new talent,” said Film Division Senior Vice President, Jeffrey Abramson.  “The films share a collective theme of the exploration of love.  Whether it is falling in love for the first time, learning to love oneself, experimenting with it, fighting for it, or recognizing it has become obsessive or idolized, we are happy to see this empathetic trend kicking off a new decade of storytelling.” 

Tickets are quickly selling out, so for film buffs and fashionistas who need to be on the cutting edge, visit the Gen Art Film Festival website for more information: http://www.genart.org/filmfestival/newyork/2010 and follow coverage of the films, personalities and the parties on the FILM NEW YORK blog right here.

 Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor

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

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