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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » October 26, 2012
The world of movies
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American Film Festival
October 26, 2012   
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The third American Film Festival will take place at the Helios New Horizons Cinema in Wroc³aw Nov. 13-18.

The Highlights section will screen standout independent films, many featuring star-studded casts. One of the festival’s most anticipated events will be the premiere of 4:44 Last Day on Earth, the latest from the enfant terrible of American cinema, Abel Ferrara. The director of such cult classics as Bad Lieutenant presents an intimate vision of the end of the world with Willem Dafoe and Shanyn Leigh playing the protagonists. The program also features Michel Gondry’s newest work. The director of the acclaimed The Science of Sleep and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind now brings us The We and the I, in which he enters the world of New York teenagers riding the bus on the last day of school in a humorous, emotional, and original portrait of today’s youth, reminiscent of the films of Larry Clark, John Hughes and Laurent Cantet.

The Spectrum section presents a panorama of the latest in American cinema, films released over the past year and featuring new filmmakers, new talents, and new trends—this year’s section includes 15 entries. Jason Cortlund and Julia Harpelin’s Now, Forager is an unpretentious drama for slow food aficionados that plays out among professional mushroom gatherers and their New York restaurateur clients. Christian Slater and Crispin Glover star in the manic comedy Freaky Deaky from director Charles Matthau (son of revered actor Walter). Jack and Diane by Bradley Rust Gray is a genre-blending melodrama, teen-movie, horror story about an adolescent lesbian relationship, starring Juno Temple, Riley Keough and Kylie Minogue and featuring surrealist animation by none other than the Quay Brothers. Also showing in the section will be Sun Don’t Shine—a crime story and road movie from director Amy Seimetz, independent film actress and understudy to the star of last year’s festival, Todd Solondz. Among the noteworthy entries are Rick Alverson’s bittersweet portrayal of Brooklyn hipsters in the Sundance-featured The Comedy, as well as the dramatic comedy Jack, Who Lives at Home directed by one of America’s leading independent filmmakers, Mark Duplass, and starring Jason Segel and Susan Sarandon.

The American Docs section showcases documentary productions focusing on 21st-century America. Among them will be Me@theZoo, a portrait of viral videoblogger Chris Crocker, as well as the latest from Jonathan Demme, renowned director of concert films (Stop Making Sense) and Oscar-winning features (The Silence of the Lambs), who now completes his Neil Young trilogy with Journeys.

On the Edge will show a range of experimental films, including The Perception of Moving Targets by Weston Currie, featuring music by Portland artist Liz Harris (aka Grouper), which had its premiere in the New Frontier section at the Sundance 2012 film festival.

Featured at the third American Film Festival will be a retrospective of the films of Wes Anderson, one of the most eccentric modern American filmmakers, whose filmography includes cult classics like The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited, and most recently the Cannes-opening Moonrise Kingdom. Anderson’s universes are populated by peculiar characters, neurotic outsiders, and misfits who can’t quite find a stable footing in reality. His scripts abound in absurdly comic dialogue and a uniquely unorthodox brand of humor that make him a standout among Hollywood directors, while his casts regularly feature such names as Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Gene Hackman, George Clooney, and Edward Norton.

A special festival guest and also the focus of a retrospective will be Jerry Schatzberg—cult director of 1970s classics such as The Panic in Needle Park with Al Pacino and Scarecrow, starring Pacino and Gene Hackman. Schatzberg was one of the most important names in the activist cinema of the times, which questioned mainstream realities and the ideals of the American dream. The controversial The Panic in Needle Park, adapted from the book by James Mills, was one of the first American films to take a stark look at drug addiction among youth while the director received the Golden Palm at Cannes for his examination of the tribulations of two modern-day vagabonds in Scarecrow. Schatzberg is also an accomplished photographer, notably immortalizing such musical personalities as Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Frank Zappa, and The Beatles, as well as fellow directors Roman Polanski, Francis Ford Coppola, and Milos Forman.

Online sales of festival passes (zl.150) begin Oct. 8. The full festival program will be available beginning Oct. 31 at www.americanfilmfestival.pl. Ticket sales online and at the Helios New Horizons Cinema begin Nov. 5.
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