Wednesday evening we had a chance to talk with Ryan Werner, an expert in promoting films for the Golden Globes and Oscars awards. Ryan Werner has worked, , for film such as Parasite, the Oscar-winning film, Atlantics, Honey Boy, Invisible Life, The King, The Lighthouse, Marriage Story, Martin Eden, The Portrait Of A Lady On Fire, Vitalina Varela or Waves, but also for Romanian productions such as 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Baccalaureate by Cristian Mungiu, La Gomera, directed by Corneliu Porumboiu and for the 2021 edition of the American Film Academy awards he is working to promote the Romanian documentar Collective , directed by Alexander Nanau.

„This is the first year with the most radical change to the International categories happening. Basically, for the first time ever, the entire Academy will be able to vote on the films that make the shortlist which is 10 films that are selected from the list of entries provided by each country. Usually, there’s something like 80+ movies. For the first time ever the entire Academy will be able to watch the films on the Academy streaming portal which is online […] but you’ll have to see a certain percentage to be able to vote. This is a really radical change that should allow a lot more people to vote and I think it’s a great thing. I think the other thing that happened is that the Academy has invited a lot of international members over the last several years. I think the biggest scandal in the Foreign Language Film category, in recent times, was when 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days was not shortlisted for the Oscar, after it had won, basically, every award possible. When it didn’t make the Oscar shortlist, I think it was a wake up call that there is something wrong with the voting and so slowly changes were made into how the selections were made, and, over time, it’s gotten better and Graduation from Romania did make the shortlist. And now giving the changes in the Academy membership and also the new really open voting system, I think this will help films that are not made in the same way that a lot of American films are.”

An adequate promotion budget, a strong American distributor, a creative strategy and an involved team that is able to lobby effectively are other factors without which the chances for an Oscar remain low, regardless of the quality of the film. “I think there is a greater openness now and I am optimistic about Romania’s chances for an Oscar“, concluded Ryan Werner.

At the 2021 edition of the Oscars, Romania has a chance to be represented by at least two documentaries: Collective, directed by Alexander Nanu and Home, directed by Radu Ciorniciuc. The fiction film that will represent Romania at the Oscars this year will be announced around November 2, 2020.

The weekend continues at AIFF with other discussions, Q&A sessions, masterclasses and a lot of interesting films. Film buffs are invited to discover one of the most original and creative young filmmakers of the moment – Benth Zeitlin – thanks to a unique Double Bill. His dizzying debut, Beasts Of The Southern Wild, became the film of the year and brought him the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, the Camera d’Or for best debut at Cannes and two Oscar nominations. A success all the more surprising, as it was made with a minimal budget and with non-professional actors, mostly children. Wendy, his second film, is a free, fanciful reinterpretation of Peter Pan’s fairy tale.

“Shot at the base of an active Caribbean volcano, the filme once again combines haunting and awe-inspiring rhythms to convey a child’s view of the world” (IndieWire).

Kelly Reichardt’s latest film is also her latest critical triumph. First Cow, a free adaptation of Jon Roymond’s novel The Half-Life, once again gives her the opportunity to look patiently at the Pacific Northwest, this time evoking 19th-century life. From a simple premise, the director constructs a disturbing question about the American way of life and describes like no other the strange rhythms of everyday life and the unsettling calm of rural America. The film can be watched on 20 September, at Peasant Museum Cinema Open Air.

The refusal to play by the rules of the cultural establishment turned the reclusive writer JD Salinger, the author of The Catcher in the Rye, into a literary myth and the most influential author in the history of American cinema, although (or precisely because) he always rejected Hollywood’s demands to film his works. And the legend goes on: only in the last 7 years there were made a documentary (Salinger) and two fiction features: Rebel In The Rye (2017) and My Salinger Year (2020). The latter – (presented at the opening of this year’s Berlinale) about a young woman hired in the ’50s by a terrible literary agent (Sigourney Weaver) to respond to letters received from fans of the writer-, you can watch on Sunday, September 20 , from 20.00, at the National Museum of Art – Musem Courtyard.

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.

Sunday, at 21:00, at Militari Shoping Drive In , you can watch an excellent gangster film that gives Robert Pattison an unforgetable role: Good Times, present in the Cannes Film Festival competition. After a botched bank robbery lands his younger brother in prison, Constantine Nikas (Robert Pattinson) embarks on a twisted odyssey through the New York’s underworld in an increasingly desperate—and dangerous—attempt to get his brother out of jail. “A throwback to the sort of gritty, character-driven thriller they don’t make anymore.” (Empire)

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, Cinema Peasant Museum 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. Access for the screenings at Cinema drive-in Militari Shopping is free upon prior reservation. Detailed information about reservations and ticket purchase on: https://filmedefestival.ro/american-independent-ff/en/tickets/

Details regarding the access and the health rules that must be observed during the duration of the screenings and events within the festival can be consulted in advance on https://filmedefestival.ro/american-independent-ff/en/safety-rules/