New York's First Time Fest announces programming


First Time Fest (FTF)—a celebration of first-time filmmakers—announced the programming for the event taking place in New York City March 1-4, 2013. The new festival’s mission is to discover and present the next generation of great filmmakers.

First Time Fest will be a four-day, multi-faceted event based in New York City’s Gramercy Park at the celebrated Players Club, founded by Edwin Booth and Mark Twain, the oldest and most exclusive arts organization of its kind. Films will be screened at the Loews Village VII in New York’s East Village.

First Time Fest represents a hybrid between a traditional film festival and a motivated audience participation event. The core of the festival is a Competition lineup of 12 international debut films—from Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Chile, Israel, Mongolia and the United States. Titles include Seth Fisher’s Blumenthal, Amélie van Elmbt’s Headfirst, Luciano Quillici’s I Love You All, Sophie O’Connor’s Submerge, Frederik Stanton’s Uprising, and Amy Nicholson’s Zipper.

The Competition films will be judged by a panel of industry professionals (including indie producer Christine Vachon and the B-52s Fred Schneider) and the FTF audience. All competition screenings will be followed by “hot-seat” discussions between the jury and filmmakers, and all audience members will vote on the films as well. 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 American film distributor Cinema Libre Studio. Each of First Time Fest’s finalists will receive industry mentorship and a one-year membership to The Players.

First Time Fest will also present “First Exposure,” a series of first films from now-prominent filmmakers. The series will include Darren Aronofsky’s Pi, John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon, Stanley Kubrick’s Killer’s Kiss, Todd Haynes’ Poison, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Jack Goes Boating and Nancy Savoca’s True Love. Aronofsky, Hoffman, Savoca, Poison producer Christine Vachon and Jack Goes Boating co-star Amy Ryan are all expected to attend.

“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. The tribute will be moderated by film historian Foster Hirsch and will include Morris Engel’s daughter, Mary Engel (Ruth Orkin: Frames Of Life).

The 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. Panels will include “Switch Hitters: Actors, Producers, Writers & Others Who Direct,” “Sell, Baby, Sell: Marketing Independent Films,” “From Rock to Score: Contemporary Musicians Who Become Film Composers,” “Across the Border: International Filmmakers Come to America,” and “A Critical Eye: Critics and Their Role in Discovering New Filmmakers” There will also be several one-on-one interviews with notable filmmakers.

Martin Scorsese will present the first John Huston Award for Achievement in Cinema to Darren Aronofsky, director of Black Swan, The Wrestler and Requiem for a Dream. The fest is also holding a “tweetable” video competition—the public is encouraged to tweet videos about a first-time experience and win badges and tickets to screenings.

Johanna Bennett (daughter of Tony Bennett) and producer/documentarian Mandy Ward are co-founders of First Time Fest. The director of programming is David Schwartz, chief curator of Museum of the Moving Image.

Visit the Festival website at