Imagine Festival to Coincide with Republican National Convention
by Brian Brooks
Organizers of the upcoming Imagine Festival of Arts, Issues & Ideas in New York have touted their inaugural program as "one of the largest arts events in New York City history." The week long festival, which begins August 28th with a "pre-premiere" screening of selected scenes from John Sayles' new film, "Silver City," is the brainchild of a diverse group of New York artists coming together with the mantra, "to inspire, instigate and create change."
Running through September 2 and coinciding with the Republican National Convention, which takes place in Manhattan August 30 - September 2, the Imagine Festival will include more than 100 performances, events and exhibits throughout the city, including a number of film programs. Margaret Cho, Marisa Tomei, and directors Robert Altman, Sayles and Jehane Noujaim will take part in the event, which will screen several world premieres and what organizers call "a mix of dramatic features, documentaries and short films addressing topics ranging from presidential power and the environment to corporate scandals and voting rights."
Following the screening of select scenes from "Silver City," a satire about a bumbling gubernatorial candidate in Colorado starring Academy Award-winner Chris Cooper, Sayles will participate in a panel discussion about the relationship between film and politics. Robert Altman will host a 20th anniversary screening of "Secret Honor," starring Phillip Baker Hall as a fictionalized President Richard Nixon and Altman will participate in a Q&A following the screening.
The mechanisms of democracy will be at the center of three films in the festival. The world debut of Matt Kohn's "Everywhere but Florida" and "Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election" by Richard Ray Perez and Joan Sekler (2002) examine the controversy surrounding the last U.S. presidential election. In the world premiere of Laura Harrison and Charlotte Lagarde's "Voting in America," meanwhile, goes in depth on the issue of voter apathy and explores how local communities are finding innovative methods in raising political awareness.
Magnolia Pictures' acclaimed "Control Room" by Jehane Noujaim is one of several films exploring the Iraq war. The doc examines Qatar-based news network Al Jazeera's coverage of the war during the onset of the 2003 U.S. invasion of the country. Julie Talen's world premiere of "Sixty Cameras Against the War," however, explores a response to the war stateside as 60 New Yorkers take cameras to document a large 2003 anti-war rally.
"While politics polarizes, film has the remarkable ability to bring people together and discuss new ideas," commented Chris Wangro, co-executive producer of the Imagine Festival in a statement. "As thousands of Americans gather in New York to debate the nation's future, we're thrilled to provide a forum where these provocative filmmakers can share their vision in a meaningful and powerful way." Film programs will take place at venues throughout the city including the Anthology Film Archives, The Pioneer Theater, Symphony Space and Makor Center.
[ For more information, please visit the festival website at http://www.nyamerica.org. ]