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Film Festival Roundup: Hot Docs Announces Special Presentations, AFI FEST Dates 2017 Festival and More

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

"Strong Island"

“Strong Island”


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

– Hot Docs has announced the ten documentary features that will screen in this year’s Special Presentations program. Special Presentations features a high-profile collection of world and international premieres, award winners from the recent international festival circuit and works by master filmmakers or featuring some star subjects.

Special Presentations will screen as part of the 2017 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, running April 27 – May 7. The complete Special Presentations program and the full selection of films to screen at Hot Docs 2017 will be announced on March 21, including the 2017 opening night film.

The new titles include: “Bill Nye: Science Guy,” “Chasing Coral,” “Dolores,” “Elian,” “Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower,” “In Loco Parentis,” “Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press,” “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World,” “Strong Island” and “The Workers Cup.”

– The Canadian Film Fest (CFF) has announced the lineup for the 2017 festival along with news that it is expanding from four days to five. The festival also announced that all screenings and workshops will be housed under one roof at their new headquarters, the Scotiabank Theatre located at 259 Richmond St. W. The festival takes place March 21 – 25.

The indie-spirited festival known to celebrate Canadian filmmakers like no other and that attracts extremely passionate audiences will open with the Toronto premiere of Ken Finkleman’s political satire “#ANAMERICANDREAM,” starring Jake Croker, Diana Bentley, Shiloh Blondel, Jan Caruana and Precious Chong. The festival will close with Andy King’s dark comedy crime story “Filth City,” which stars Melinda Shankar, Melanie Nicholls-King, and Siobhan Murphy. This year’s CFF will showcase a total of 10 feature films and 21 shorts.

For the complete list of titles for this year’s festival, click HERE.

“Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower”

– In its 20th Anniversary Edition, the American Sephardi Federation (ASF) has announced the programs for its weeklong celebration of diverse stories and rich histories portrayed in film at the New York Sephardic Jewish Film Festival (NYSJFF). The Festival features a different themed program each day. Select nights are dedicated to the Moroccan, Iraqi, Greek, and Yemenite Jewish communities.

For the first time at the Festival, the untold stories of how Sephardic Jews from Algeria, Tunisia, and Greece suffered during the Holocaust are shared during a full day of films, “Sephardim in the Shoah” (Sunday, April 2). “From Ethiopia to Israel” (Tuesday, April 4) explores the challenges of emigration.

“An Evening of Empowering Sephardi Women” (Monday, April 3) showcases three films that explore women’s experiences and highlight differences in gender relations and expectations between Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities. ASF’s Young Leadership Board is hosting “Love, Sephardi Style” (Tuesday, April 4) an evening of short films that explore modern romance and relationships from several Sephardi perspectives, including Israeli and Persian. An interactive discussion will follow with an award-winning Jewish Iranian-American filmmaker.

The Festival will screen all films and events at ASF’s home, the Center for Jewish History (15 West 16th Street), near Union Square in Chelsea. The complete list of selected NYSJFF films with dates, times and ticket information can be found right here.

“Lost in Paris”

– The RiverRun International Film Festival has announced the full lineup of films for the 19th annual Festival, running March 30 – April 9, 2017. This year RiverRun will screen 151 films, including 69 features and 82 shorts from more than 40 countries.

RiverRun will kick off Opening Night with two films on Thursday, March 30. The first film is “Lost in Paris,” a lighthearted French film from the directorial team behind RiverRun favorites “Rumba” and “The Fairy,” Dominique Abel, and Fiona Gordon. When librarian Fiona receives a troubling letter from her 93-year-old Aunt in Paris, she rushes to France and finds that her aunt has disappeared. Once in Paris, Fiona runs into a genial tramp who insinuates himself into her life. The film also features a delightful performance from the late, great Emmanuelle Riva.

The second opening night film is “The Pulitzer at 100,” a documentary directed by Kirk Simon, which was produced in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the award’s inception, and examines the history of the prize through riveting stories of the artists that have received the prestigious honor, and features Helen Mirren, Natalie Portman, Live Schreiber, John Lithgow and Yara Shahidi. The Festival will close on April 9 with “The Lost City of Z,” directed by James Gray.

– The Manhattan Film Festival has selected Miranda Bailey’s “The Pathological Optimist” to open their 2017 edition. The documentary is a character study that features never-before-seen, full access footage, of the man at the center of one of the biggest medical and media controversies of our time: Andrew Wakefield whose film “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe” screened at the 2016 Manhattan Film Festival and sparked fierce debate.


The screening will also include a filmmaker Q&A with participants in the film. The 11th annual Manhattan Film Festival will take place April 19 – 30. The complete film lineup will be announced March 8.

Awards and Honors

– The 2017 Sun Valley Film Festival (SVFF), presented by Zions Bank, will honor Geena Davis, Brett Ratner and Allison Williams over the weekend of March 15 – 19. Geena Davis will receive the Vision Award, Brett Ratner will receive the Pioneer Award and Allison Williams will receive the Rising Star Award. Dynamic duo Peter and Bobby Farrelly will attend for Coffee Talks. Other Festival attendees include Chace Crawford, Charles Randolph, Chris Moore, Dree Hemingway, Jonathan Glickman, and Tony Hale.

Girls 602

– The 11th Annual Gasparilla International Film Festival will be presenting Patrick Wilson with the Career Achievement Award at the 11th Annual Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, Florida. Patrick Joseph Wilson was raised in St. Petersburg, Florida. His parents are well known in the community, his mom Mary Kathryn (Burton), is a voice teacher and professional singer, and John Franklin Wilson, was a veteran news anchor before he retired from Fox13 in 2014.

– The Garden State Film Festival (GSFF) has announced that Phillipsburg, NJ resident writer RJ Lewis has been selected as the 2017 winner of the Donna Lisa Rothstein Screenplay Competition for his screenplay “Dummy.” The Screenplay Competition was created to shine a light on the importance of a well-crafted screenplay in the overall film-making process.

– The Underexposed Film Festival yc has named Joanne Hock as the recipient of the 2017 Cotton Alley Award. First presented in 2015, the Cotton Alley Award is an honorary award that recognizes outstanding contributions and commitment to the world of independent filmmaking. Joanne is passionate and prolific storyteller. She has written and directed feature films and documentaries, lensed and directed countless television commercials and directed national and international television shows. Joanne is in rewrites and early pre-production for her fourth feature film.

Submissions and Calls for Entry

– AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi has officially announced its dates and call for entries. An annual program of the American Film Institute, AFI FEST brings Hollywood icons, emerging artists and audiences together to experience global cinema in the movie capital of the world.

The 31st edition of AFI FEST will take place in Hollywood, CA, from November 9 – 16, 2017.  Entries are now being accepted and filmmakers are invited to submit feature, documentary, experimental and short films at AFI.com/AFIFEST or through Withoutabox.com. AFI FEST will have three submission date deadlines — early, official and final — for both short films (under 30 minutes) and feature films.

– Entries to the Noosa International Film Festival 2017 short film competition will open on March 3. This year, the Noosa International Film Festival will offer an exciting program for film lovers and filmmakers alike, over the festival-long weekend from October 26 – 29. The 2017 program will offer three key festival streams – world cinema, presenting new release and classic feature length films, an international short film competition, and its Inside Cinema stream with industry guests.

Submissions are being accepted exclusively via FilmFreeway.com with official selections being screened publicly at three cinema venues. The Noosa International Film Festival short film competition is open is open to any filmmaker aged between 18-25 of any genre and encourages filmmakers from around the world to enter. For competition rules and entry, visit FilmFreeway.com and search “Noosa.”

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