Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart in the most consistent feminin line-up in an American film from 2017

Two remarkable films from the independent American cinema, made by American directors Chloé Zhao and Kelly Reichardt: THE RIDER and CERTAIN WOMEN, are listed in this year’s selection of the American Independent Film Festival, that will take place from April 27 until May 3. The two films contrast with the hectic rythm of the American super-hero stories, bringing to our attention deeper stories, warmer and more nuanced, which generate empathy for their characters caught at pivotal moments in their lives.

Premiered at last year’s Quinzaine des Réalisateurs in Cannes and critically acclaimed, THE RIDER is an observant, moving portrait of young ex-rodeo rider and horse-tamer Brady, who is recovering from an accident. The film directed by Chloé Zhao shows us Brady, connected in mind, body and spirit to the nature-plains that surround the trailer-ranch he lives in with his widowed father and younger sister, in his attempt to move on from his buck-riding past. Yet the temptation to ‘ride’ is too deeply rooted and his crisis of masculinity soon turns existential.

Using non-professional actors and lead protagonist Brady Jandreau’s real-life story as inspiration, Zhao constructs a lyrical portrait of man and nature with tender authenticity. This is her second feature film, and won the CICAE award in Cannes and went on to play in over 40 international film festivals including Telluride, Toronto, Sundance and Sarajevo – being considered one of the most original and powerful American films of the past year.

Kelly Reichardt has been a constant presence at the Sundance Film Festival with her early features. Her subsequent selections at Cannes (Wendy & Lucy, 2008) and Venice (Meek’s Cutoff 2010, Night Moves 2013) have rightly established her as one of indie cinema’s important auteurs. A meticulous filmmaker with a minimalist approach to story and form, her films are defined by a low-key style of filmmaking that packs a slow-burn emotional punch. Working often from short stories adapted for the big screen and centering her films around strong female characters, Reichardt crafts psychologically-rich portraits of regular people defined equally by the pastoral landscape they inhabit and the fragility of human connections they seek.

The action from CERTAIN WOMEN (awarded Best Film at London’s BFI), is set in a wintry-autumnal small-town in Montana and is a star-studded narrative triptych observing three women at defining moments in their lives. Laura Dern plays a lawyer dissatisfied with her personal life and is faced with a moral and ethical dilemma concerning one of her clients. Michelle Williams, a regular collaborator of Reichardt (WENDY & LUCY, MEEK’S CUTOFF), plays Gina, a wife and mother caught at a difficult moment for her marriage. The closing chapter of Reichardt’s American pastoral is dedicated to the unrequited love between an unnamed rancher and a law-class teacher hailing from the city (played with steely fragility by Kirsten Stewart).

Although connected by small narrative links, the ties that bind the three stories are Reichardt’s recurring themes of loneliness and self-acceptance in characters whose external fortitude belies an emotional frailty that lies deep within. Coupled with a careful, considered rhythm and attention to the gestures and emotions that lie between words, CERTAIN WOMEN is an empowering invitation to empathy.

American Independent Film Festival is the only festival in Romania dedicated to American independent cinema and aims to familiarize the Romanian audience with the narrative films based on the tradition of great American authors from the ‘70s and ‘80s.

The screenings take place at Cinema Pro and Cinema Muzeul Țăranului.

The tickets can be bought on and in the Eventbook network.

The program, events and all the news on the festival will be updated on the festival website, on the Facebook page and Instagram account (@AmericanIndependentFilmFest).

The Festival is organized by the Cinemascop Association, supported by Catena, with the support of Embassy of the United States in Romania and UPC Romania.

A cultural project funded by the National Center of Cinematography.

Partners: Qreator by IQOS, Romanian Cultural Institute, UPS Romania, CinemaPRO, Romanian Peasant Museum, Cinema Peasant Museum, RoImage, InterCom Film, Voodoo Films, Eventbook, Our Big Day Out, Sister Association

Main media partners: Pro Cinema, Radio Guerrilla.

Media partners: Adevărul, Dilema Veche, Radio România Cultural, Agerpres, Decât o Revistă, Elle, A List Magazine, Zile și Nopți, Nine O’Clock, Newsweek,,, Revista Cariere, Business 24, Scena 9, Glamour, Avantaje, IQads, Noizz, The Institute,, AaRC, CineFan, Senso TV, Ziarul Metropolis.

Communication partner: PiArt Vision.