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Darren Aronofsky
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Darren Aronofsky
Darren Aronofsky

First Time Fest — a celebration of first time filmmakers — is a new and unique film festival taking place in New York City March 1 – 4, 2013. The festival, which is all about discovering the next generation of great cinema artists, has some big names attached.

Martin Scorsese will present the first John Huston Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema. According to the press release, the “inaugural Award will be bestowed on an individual who has made a significant contribution to the art of cinema,” and that individual is Darren Aronofsky, helmer of “Pi,” “Requiem for a Dream,” “The Fountain,” “The Wrestler” and “Black Swan.”

Up next for Aronofsky is “Noah,” with Russell Crowe starring as the Biblical figure who suffers visions of an apocalyptic deluge, and takes measures to protect his family from the coming flood. Look for that in theaters March 28, 2014.

Christine Vachon and the B-52s Fred Schneider have joined the First Time Fest as two of its five jurors (the entire live audience at each of the 12 competition films will be the 5th juror). Together, the jury and audience will ultimately select a Grand Prize winner, who will be offered theatrical distribution for their film and full international sales representation from the renowned American film distributor, Cinema Libre Studio.

In addition to the Competition Films, FTF will present First Exposure, a series of first films from now prominent filmmakers. Joining the line-up – and attending the fest – are our exciting Opening Night presentation of Sofia Coppola with “The Virgin Suicides,” Todd Solondz with “Welcome to the Dollhouse,” Wes Anderson’s (who will not be able to attend) “Bottle Rocket,” Barbara Kopple with “Harlan County, USA,” and Melvin Van Peebles with “The Story of a Three-Day Pass.”

Previously announced First Exposure titles and attending filmmakers are “Pi” (Darren Aronofsky), “The Maltese Falcon” (film will be introduced by William Luhr, author of “The Maltese Falcon: John Huston, director”), “Poison” (Todd Haynes’ – who will not be able to attend – first film; produced by then first-time feature producer Christine Vachon, who can), “Jack Goes Boating” (Philip Seymour Hoffman, attending with actress Amy Ryan), “The Unbelievable Truth” (Hal Hartley), “True Love” (Nancy Savoca) and “Killer’s Kiss” (Stanley Kubrick’s first).

First Exposure will also include a 60th Anniversary Tribute to Morris Engel’s “The Little Fugitive,” a cinema vérité classic from 1953 that was shot on Coney Island and has inspired countless filmmakers, from Jean-Luc Godard to the Coen brothers. The tribute will include a panel hosted by film historian Foster Hirsch and Mary Engel, daughter of Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin).

In addition there will be a Special Presentation of Everardo Gout’s thrillingly over-the-top action thriller “Days of Grace” (Dias de Gracia), which won the Mexican Academy of Film’s prestigious Ariel Award for Best First Feature and was nominated for the Camera d’Or at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

First Time Fest will also include a series of panels called “How They Did It,” in which a diverse group of award-winning filmmakers will moderate filmmaking case studies and spotlight some of the most successful and accomplished masters of the industry.

Panels will include: Switch Hitters: Actors, Producers, Writers & Others Who Direct; Sell, Baby, Sell: Marketing Independent Films (Emily Russo, Scott Feinstein, Peter Saraf, Monica Brady); From Rock To Score: Contemporary Musicians Who Become Film Composers (John Forte); Show Me the Money (Steven Beer, Duncan Cork); Across The Border: International Filmmakers Come to America; Women and Diversity in Film (Jenny Lumet, Frida Torresblanco); and A Critical Eye: Critics and their Role in Discovering New Filmmakers (Scott Foundas, John Anderson, Eric Kohn, Dana Stevens, Josh Rothkopf). There will also be several “Stand Alone! – Conversations with the Outstanding,” one-on-one interviews with notable cinema artists. Additional participants in these programs will be announced shortly.

First Time Fest is a four-day, multi-faceted event hosted in New York City’s Gramercy Park by the celebrated Players (16 Gramercy Park South), the club founded by Edwin Booth, Mark Twain and John Singer Sargent, the oldest and most exclusive arts organization of its kind whose membership includes the greatest stars of stage and screen. Each of First Time Fest’s twelve finalists will receive high-level industry mentorship and a one-year membership to The Players. The Players will be the location for all FTF panels and events as well as the Filmmaker and VIP Lounge. First Time Fest’s screenings will be held at the Loews Village VII on Third Avenue (on 11th St. & 3rd Ave).

COMPETITION FILMS

BLUMENTHAL – New York Premiere. USA, 86 minutes. Written and directed by Seth Fisher. With Fisher, Brian Cox, Mark Blum, Laila Robins, Mei Melançon.

HEADFIRST (LA TETE LA PREMIERE) – U.S. Premiere. Belgium/France, 89 minutes. Written and directed by Amélie van Elmbt. With Alice de Lencquesaing, David Murgia, Jacques Doillon.

HORIZON SKY – World Premiere. Belarus, 133 mins. Written and directed by Dmitry Marinin, Andrey Kureychik. With Leonid Pashkovsky, Tatyana Bovkalova, Viktor Rybchinsky, Anna Sirotina.

I LOVE YOU ALL (LOS QUIERO A TODOS) – U.S. Premiere. Argentina, 75 mins. Written, directed, and produced by Luciano Quillici. With Ramiro Aguero, Santiago Gobemori, Diego Jalfen, Valeria Louis, Leticia Mazur, Margarita Molfino, Alan Sabbagh.

JUNCTION – USA, 90 mins. Written and directed by Tony Glazer. With Tom Pelphrey, Neal Bledsoe, Harris Doran, Summer Crockett Moore, Anthony Rapp, David Zayas, Michael O’Keefe

MONGOLIAN BLING – U.S. Premiere. Australia/Mongolia, 90 mins. Documentary, directed by Benj Binks.

SAL – New York Premiere. Chile/Argentina, 112 mins. Written and directed by Diego Rougier. With Fele Martínez, Patricio Contreras, Sergio Hernández, Javiera Contador.

SUBMERGE – World Premiere. Australia, 90 mins. Directed by Sophie O’Connor. With Lily Hall, Christina Hallett, Kevin Dee, Georgia Bolton.

SUMMERTIME – New York Premiere.USA, 90 mins. Written and directed by Max Weissberg. With Lethia Nall, Eric Garcia, Rob Hollander, H.R. Britton, James Eason, Jenny Grace, Olivia Horton, Michele Cesari.

UPRISING – USA/Egypt, 85 mins. Documentary directed by Fredrik Stanton.

URBAN TALE – U.S. Premiere. Israel, 90 mins. Written and directed by Eliav Lilti. With Barak Friedman, Noa Friedman, Esti Yerushalmi, Zohar Shtrauss, Ohad Knoller, Michal Shtamler.

ZIPPER – USA, 77 mins. Documentary directed by Amy Nicholson.

FIRST EXPOSURE FILMS – (please visit web site for film descriptions)

BOTTLE ROCKET – USA, 1996, 91 mins. Speaker TBA. Directed by Wes Anderson. Written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson. Cast: Owen Wilson, Luke Wilson, Robert Musgrave, Andrew Wilson, Lumi Cavazos, James Caan.

HARLAN COUNTY, U.S.A. – USA, 1976, 103 mins. Barbara Kopple in person. Documentary directed by Barbara Kopple.

JACK GOES BOATING – USA, 2010, 91 mins. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Ryan in person. Directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Written by Robert Glaudini. Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Ryan, John Ortiz, Daphne Rubin-Vega.

THE MALTESE FALCON – USA, 1941, 101 mins. Speaker TBA. Written and directed by John Huston. Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Elisha Cook, Jr.

PI – USA, 1998, 83 mins. Speaker TBA. Written and directed by Darren Aronofsky. Cast: Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman, Pamela Hart, Stephen Pearlman.

POISON – USA, 1991, 85 mins. Producer Christine Vachon in person. Written and directed by Todd Haynes. Cast: Edith Meeks, Millie White, Buck Smith, Anne Giotta, Lydia Lafleur, Ian Nemser

THE STORY OF A THREE-DAY PASS – USA, 1968, 87 mins. Melvin van Peebles in person. Written and directed by Melvin Van Peebles. Cast: Harry Baird, Pierre Doris, Christian Marin, Nicole Berger

TRUE LOVE – USA, 1989, 84 mins. Nancy Savoca in person. Directed by Nancy Savoca. Written by Nancy Savoca and Richard Guay. Cast: Annabella Sciorra, Ron Eldard, Aida Turturro, Roger Rignack

THE UNBELIEVABLE TRUTH – USA, 1989, 90 mins. Hal Hartley in person. Written and directed by Hal Hartley. Cast: Adrienne Shelley, Robert John Burke, Edie Falco, Gary Sauer.

THE VIRGIN SUICIDES – USA, 1999, 97 mins. Sofia Coppola and cinematographer Ed Lachman in person. Written and directed by Sofia Coppola. Cast: Kirsten Dunst, James Woods, Kathleen Turner, Josh Hartnett, Michael Paré, Danny DeVito

WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE – USA, 1996, 88 mins. Todd Solondz in person. Written and directed by Todd Solondz. Cast: Heather Matarazzo, Brendan Sexton III, Matthew Faber, Daria Kalinina, Eric Mabius

For Tickets, Passes and additional Festival Information – Visit The Festival Website at www.FirstTimeFest.com.

Johanna Bennett and Mandy Ward are the co-founders of First Time Fest. As an accomplished philanthropist, actor and social entrepreneur, as well as the daughter of singer Tony Bennett, Johanna Bennett has immersed herself within the entertainment and artistic community her entire life.

Mandy Ward has worked in the film industry for the past decade in varied capacities, namely as a film producer of several projects. Mitch Levine, CEO of The Film Festival Group, is producing the festival. Through his company, Mitch offers consulting services and expertise to film festivals, film commissions, distribution companies and filmmakers around the world, and was formerly the CEO and Executive Director of the renowned Palm Springs International Film Festival. The Festival’s Director of Programming is David Schwartz, the Chief Curator of Museum of the Moving Image.

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