Given the beautiful weather and since outdoor is safer, American Independent Film Festival (September 14-20) will have all its screenings in the open air. The screenings programmed at the Auditorium Hall of the National Museum of Art of Romania will be moved to the Museum Courtyard. The festival also takes place at the Peasant Museum Cinema Open Air and a series of screenings are scheduled at Deschis Gastrobar, Mercato Kultur, Militari Shopping Cinema-in Cinema and Snagov Event Park.
At AIFF 2020, physical distancing means getting closer to cinema and the passionate debates about it. The guests of the edition are the directors Benh Zeitlin, Kirill Mikhanovsky, Merawi Gerima, Courtney Stephens and Pacho Velez who will have Q&A sessions with the audience via Skype. There will be two online events via Zoom: a masterclass given by Benh Zeitlin and Cinema After the Pandemics, a professional discussion with Ryan Werner, Senior Executive Cinetic Media. Participation is free. You will find details about the registration on https://filmedefestival.ro/american-independent-ff/evenimente/
After the screening of his original comedy, Give Me Liberty (audience and critical success at Sundance and Cannes festivals), director Kirill Mikhanovsky will have a Q&A with the audience via Skype, most likely as lively as his film, on September 15, at Peasant Museum Cinema Open Air.
Also via Skype, the spectators will interact with the important American director Benh Zeitlin, present in the festival with two films – the already “classic” Beasts of the Southern Wild and the recent Wendy. In an interview with The Atlantic, Zeitlin confesses: “The movies that we still watch are all addressing incredibly important, moral questions. So, that’s the playing field I want to be on.” How does he manage to do this, we will find out on Friday, September 18, after watching the film at the National Museum of Art of Romania.
On Thursday, September 17, at the Peasant Museum Cinema Open Air, director Merawi Gerima will talk, also via Skype, about the genesis of the film Residue, his first feature film, screened these days at the Venice, in the Giornate degli autori section. Residue is a disturbing, deeply personal story about identity, gentrification and the difficulty of returning home.
This year, AIFF is presenting two documentaries in the Docs of The Day section.
Made 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, The American Sector, by Courtney Stephens and Pacho Velez, is a documentary about pieces of the Berlin Wall scattered across the United States and how history resonates today. At its most direct and simple style, The American Sector imagines a catalog: a collection of pieces that were once part of a formidable construction. Dismantled in 1989, with profound political and social repercussions, the wall that separated East Berlin from West Berlin for 28 years still lives, symbolically, in various parts of the world. “Public art and political divisions, the sway of history and the impulse toward freedom are inseparable elements in the doc’s richly nuanced palette. What might seem at first an inquiry into another nation’s story builds into a provocative illumination of all our histories, and of the here and now. The terrain it travels is one of open-ended questions, and the spark it ignites has a contrapuntal power.” (The Hollywood Reporter)
The screening will be followed by a very interesting Q&A session with the filmmakers, via Skype, at the Peasant Museum Cinema Open Air, on Wednesday, September 16.
The second documentary in the selection, The Biggest Little Farm, directed by John Chester (Audience Award at Toronto Film Festival) became even more relevant in the current context, when the pandemic accentuated an already existing phenomenon: the exodus of citizens to the countryside. The film follows the adventure of a couple working to bring to life an 80-acre sustainable farm outside of Los Angeles. Gradually, the desolate property they bought begins to thrive. “The gentle rhythm of this timely, environmentally conscious documentary will temporarily draw you away from the world of tiny screens into a partially ambiguous yet fulfilling tale of endurance.” (Empire)
Special Screenings at AIFF 4
In The Last Vermeer (directed by Dan Friedkin, 2019, screened at the Toronto and Telluride festivals), a soldier investigates a famous Dutch artist accused of collaborating with the Nazis. ”The now nearly forgotten story easily captures and holds our interest, and Friedkin’s smooth and unostentatious direction never gets in the way of the material.”
When the legendary film music composer Ennio Morricone died, Quentin Tarantino wrote on Twitter: “The king is dead. Long live the King ”, adding a photo with both of them on the sets of The Hateful Eight, a film that won Morricone the Oscar for Best Original Score. The well-deserved distinction came 9 years after the Honorary Oscar for his entire work for “his magnificent and multifaceted contributions to the art of film music”. AIFF pays homage to a genius like few others, screening this legendary collaboration in a place that brings back nostalgia for the old cinema: Militari Shopping Cinema Drive-in.
Sofia Coppola is also a director famous for her soundtracks, but also for the way she uses silence, by consciously choosing to work with the absence of interaction, noise or dialogue. Lost In Translation (starring Scarlett Johansson in the role that made her famous), a profoundly personal portrait of love, relationships and isolation set against the backdrop of Tokyo, is also a story about the things that go unsaid that brought Coppola the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. We tell you that Coppola’s extraordinary film is well worth watching and re-watching and we urge you not to miss the Sunday’s screening, at 22:30, at the Peasant Museum Cinema Open Air.
The complete program and news about the films and events of the festival can be found on filmedefestival.ro, on the Facebook American Independent Film Festival and Instagram (@AmericanIndependentFilmFest).
Tickets for the screenings at the National Museum of Art of Romania – Museum Courtyard, Peasant Museum Cinema Open Air and Mercato Kultur are available online on Eventbook.ro. Cinemascop Association donates all the proceeds from the tickets sold for the films in these locations, to the reading programs for disadvantaged children organized by the OvidiuRO Association. Details about the access to the screenings at Cinema drive-in Militari Shopping, Deschis Gastrobar and Event Park Snagov, can be consulted on https://filmedefestival.ro/american-independent-ff/bilete/ or on the sites of the locations.