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Film Festival Roundup: Sun-Ray Cinema Unveils Sleeping Giant Fest, SFIFF Announces Closing Night and More

Keep up with the always-hopping film festival world with our weekly Film Festival Roundup.

“Serial Mom”

Keep up with the always-hopping film festival world with our weekly Film Festival Roundup column. Check out last week’s Roundup right here.

Lineup Announcements

– EXCLUSIVE: Over the last five years, Jacksonville, Florida’s Sun-Ray Cinema has carved out a unique space for adventurous film programming while also reinventing how audiences enjoy blockbuster fare in Northeast Florida. Building on those successes, Sun-Ray has now unveiled their Sleeping Giant Fest. From March 30 – April 2, Sleeping Giant Fest promises to “open your eyes and perk your ears to work that often gets lost in the digital streams that dominate our viewing habits today.” The festival aims “to help you navigate an array of choices that often seems dizzying so you can immerse yourself in these so-called ‘less commercial’ films, repertory titles, and screenings with exciting special guests while enjoying the communal experience that the cinema provides.

With forty film and music events over four lively days, the 2017 lineup includes filmmaker John Waters giving his film “Serial Mom” a “The Talkies” treatment, providing live commentary over a screening of the film, avant-garde ensemble Xiu Xiu playing the music of Twin Peaks, Chicago band Roommate, providing a live score to Lon Chaney’s compelling performance in the horror classic “The Unknown,” and a screening of the “Ramen Western” “Tampopo,” with a special noodle menu inspired by the film.

You can find out more information about the newbie fest at their official site.

– The San Francisco Film Society has announced that Closing Night of the landmark 60th San Francisco International Film Festival will be “The Green Fog – A San Francisco Fantasia,” a new commission by the Film Society and Stanford Live in which the world-renowned Kronos Quartet will perform a new score by composer Jacob Garchik to accompany a visual collage by award-winning filmmaker and cultural iconoclast Guy Maddin.

“We are delirious with joy that such forces of contemporary culture have come together to create a singular new work for the city of San Francisco as a 60th birthday present to the SF International Film Festival,” said SF Film Society Executive Director Noah Cowan. “We look forward to a night where we experience the city anew as one of Guy Maddin’s fever dreams, interpreted through the images of myriad filmmakers who have been bewitched by the place and the sounds of the musicians that serve as our iconoclastic ambassadors to the world.”

You can find out more about this year’s SFIFF at their official site.

“in the Heat of the Night”

– Turner Classic Movies (TCM) will kick off the 8th annual TCM Classic Film Festival on Thursday, April 6 with a 50th anniversary screening of the Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger classic “In the Heat of the Night” (1967). The iconic actor Sidney Poitier, who will attend the screening, broke stereotypes and new ground when he starred in this five time Academy Award winner about a black detective from the north who finds himself investigating a murder in a small-town in Mississippi. Producer Walter Mirisch and Director Norman Jewison, along with actress Lee Grant and composer Quincy Jones will be on hand to discuss the film.

Check out more information about the festival at their official site.

-The 13th annual Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival will open on Thursday, March 23 at the Regal Cinemas at LA Live in Downtown Los Angeles with a Gala and Benefit Screening. The four-day festival continues through Sunday, February 26 with features, documentaries and shorts, as well as a series of panel discussions.

The Opening Night Gala features a screening of “The Drowning,” directed by Bette Gordon and starring Julia Stiles, Josh Charles and Avan Jogia. The film, based on the novel “Border Crossing” by Booker Prize-winner Pat Barker, is a psychological thriller that explores shifting identities as a psychiatrist faces the past, present and future — while treating a young man convicted of a murder when he was just 11 years old. The screening is followed by a conversation with the filmmakers and a gala reception.

The full festival program details are available at Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival website.

– The Ridgefield Independent Film Festival (RIFF) has announces its 2017 selections. The annual festival, in its second year, will screen 55 films from 19 countries at various venues in Ridgefield, Connecticut, a vibrant town just 60 miles northeast of New York City. RIFF runs May 19 – 21, 2017.

The films were selected by a dedicated 25-person screening committee comprised of local film lovers and arts community leaders of all ages with RIFF’s mission in mind: to make the world a more compassionate place through the sharing of stories from around the globe through cinema. The 2017 selections include full-length and short narrative features, long and short-form documentaries, animated films, web/new media series and student films and come from places as nearby as Wilton and Norwalk, Connecticut and as faraway as South Africa, Iran, Taiwan, Israel, Germany, Australia and Andorra.

You can check out the full list of films at RIFF’s official site.

– Ireland’s major influence on Canada’s hockey obsession, the Irish love of home-grown comedy and the story of how an immigrant Irish bomb disposal officer provided sanctuary for Northern Irish children traumatized by The Troubles, will all be showcased at the 7th Toronto Irish Film Festival. The fest takes place March 3 – 5 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

The Opening Night Gala on Friday, March 3, sponsored by Tourism Ireland, features the World Premiere of “Puck of the Irish” by director Eamonn O’Cualain. You can check out the full list of films at the fest‘s official site.

Submissions and Calls for Entry

– From October 12 – 15, 2017, the Bushwick Film Festival will celebrate its milestone 10-year anniversary, marking a decade of bringing independent stories to audiences from all walks of life. Located in Bushwick, the bustling center of Brooklyn’s artistic and cultural community, the festival will offer four days of screenings, panels, workshops, parties, and networking opportunities.

In addition to a wide range of genres and topics, the festival’s programming continues to highlight films directed by and starring women, along with stories from underrepresented groups. Filmmakers and web series directors who want the unique opportunity to screen their work in front of Bushwick audiences can now submit their film through July 15, with an early bird budget-friendly deadline of February 28.

– Moët & Chandon has launched the launch of The Moët Moment Film Festival, aka “The Minis,” an annual competition that aims to inspire a new generation of talent dedicated to telling their stories through the art of film. The competition invites burgeoning filmmakers to create and submit 60 second films that will be reviewed by a panel of Hollywood industry mavens.

For its second year, the festival’s theme is “This is Your Moment,” encouraging young filmmakers to capture the joy and spontaneity of living life to the fullest and celebrating the moment. Moët believes that every experience can be a moment worth celebrating. This year’s competition will capture the moments most cherished by the filmmakers. In 2017, Moët will bring The Minis to New York City, celebrating the films during an awards event in April 2017.

For more information and to enter The Moët Moment Film Festival, please visit the festival’s official site.

– Submissions are open now for the Fingal Film Festival, taking place August 11 – 12 in Dublin, Ireland. As the preparations get underway for the 2017 edition of the fest, the team have “decided to revamp its annual format to raise a greater awareness of independent films, by attracting other festival goers that are usually drawn to music or comedy events.”

They noted that “although the festival has seen a significant audience growth over the last few years, we believe it is our responsibility as festival organisers to ensure we reinvent ourselves, by attracting larger audiences with a bigger venue this year, ensuring our participating filmmakers’ work is exposed to a wider demographic.”

For more information on how to submit your film, please visit their official website.

Event Announcements

– The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) has announced that Scott Cronick is this year’s Honorary Chair of New Jersey’s largest and most respected film festival, which will be held March 30 – April 2, 2017 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In this role, Mr. Cronick will bring his experience as a leading media voice and knowledge of the Atlantic City community to champion the exciting event. You can find out more about the festival at their official site.

– The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, one of the world’s most prestigious celebrations of nonfiction cinema, will celebrate its 20th anniversary in Durham, N.C., April 6 – 9, 2017.

“Our journey for the past two decades tracks closely with the explosion of growth here in Durham and in the world of documentary film,” said Festival Director Deirdre Haj. “Our success, growing from a small, four-day event to a year-round arts leader in Durham and in documentary film circles, would not be possible without the extraordinary support of our city and the filmmakers who showcase their work here. We are eager to celebrate our 20th anniversary with these two special communities who make us the organization that we are.”

This year’s event will feature a special programming change. The festival’s thematic program, typically featuring films addressing a specific area of interest, will be a cinematic look back on 20 years of Full Frame. Curated by Artistic Director Sadie Tillery, the commemorative retrospective will highlight many of the notable films, filmmakers, and special moments that have distinguished Full Frame since it was founded in 1998. Titles for the series will be announced in early March.

To find out more about this year’s fest, check out their official site.

– Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, conference and market, is pleased to host ten official international delegations from Chile, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Nordic Region, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland and the U.S., and two provincial delegations from British Columbia and Nova Scotia, at this year’s edition, April 27 – May 7.

The delegations consist of established producers and broadcasters working in social, cultural and political documentary genres. During the Festival, delegates will have the opportunity to partake in a wealth of networking opportunities, market events and conference sessions.

Honors and Tributes

– Ben Affleck joins Pixar Animation Studios’ filmmakers Pete Docter and Jonas Rivera in receiving special honors at the 1st Annual AUTFEST International Film Festival presented by The Autism Society on April 22  – 23, 2017 at the AMC Orange 30 in Orange, CA.

Celebrating autism awareness “from spectrum to screen,” AutFest is the first film festival solely dedicated to an autism audience and filmmakers. Its mission is to further advance the well-being of all with an autism diagnosis, as well as to educate the nation about autism and the important need to fully respect and value each person with autism. AutFest wishes to celebrate films that promote autism awareness and support autistic filmmakers and artists that have chosen film as their profession.

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