The final installment of the First Time Fest, the Closing Night Ceremony was held on March 4th. Hosted by Academy Award winner Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist), the Players Club lit up with flashes of cameras and smiles of the first time filmmakers anxiously awaiting whose film will win the grand prize- the chance to have their film distributed by Cinema Libre Studios.
Johanna Bennett and Mandy founded the festival after noticing there wasn’t a venue where new filmmakers can get their film viewed and appreciated. In attendance at the closing night ceremony were Tony Bennett and Jack Huston, as well as Martin Scorsese, who presented the First John Huston Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema to Darren Aronofsky, who was also in attendance. Anthony Rapp presented the awards as guests ate food from Chef Diane Dimeo and drank champagne by Nicolas Feuillatte. Also in attendance were the First Time Fest judges: Fred Schneider, Gay Talese, Anne-Katrin Titze, and Christine Vachon.
Below are the films and winners of awards.
Blumenthal: Written and directed by Seth Fisher, starring Mark Blum, Laila Robins and Seth Fisher. Blumenthal follows Harold Blumenthal (played by Brian Cox), whose death causes mass drama among his family.
La Tete La Premiere (Headfirst): Written and directed by Amelie van Elmbt, Headfirst stars Alice de Lencquesaing, David Muriga, and Jacques Doillon. The film depicts the life of two hitch hiking teens in Belgium who dream of becoming an actor and writer.
Amelie van Elmbt won the First Time Fest Award for Outstanding Achievement in Directing. “For balancing a fairy tale quality with genuine believeability, as its characters enter a forest and confront a different world.”
Alice De Lencquesaing won the First Time Fest Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting. “A star is born. A natural, seemingly effortless performance that makes everything she does believable.”
Horizon Sky: Written by Andrei Kureichyk and directed by Andrei Kureichyk and Dzmitry Marynin. This is the first independent film from Belarus in over 10 years and due to laws in the country, the film was outlawed in Belarus. The filmmakers were even banned from leaving the country to attend the First Time Fest. The film stars Leonid Pashkovsky, Anna Sirotina, Tatyana Bovkalova and Victor Rybcznski, and it is about a musician with AIDS who battles with society’s views and addiction on drugs.
Los Quiero A Todos (I Love You All): Written and directed by Luciano Quilici, it stars Ramiro Aguero, Santiago Gobernori, Diego Jalfen and Valeria Lois. The film’s synopsis follows the reunion of friends that ponder about their missed opportunites in the past, and the chances they get now.
Martin Bossa and Tomas Carnelli won the First Time Fest Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scoring. “A score marked by its precision, use of silence, trust in the place of language and by its exuberance.”
Junction: Written and directed by Tony Glazer, the film stars Neal Bledsoe, Harris Doran, Summer Crockett Moore and Bryan Deehring. This film follows meth addicts through a robbery situation when they uncover something darker lurking in the house they plan to rob.
Neal Bledsoe won the First Time Fest Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting. “For the ferocity of the performance and playing an unsympathetic character who becomes more and more out of control in a believable way.”
Mongolian Bling: Directed by Benj Binks, Mongolian Bling is a documentary centered on the culture and history of Mongolia, like songs and beats of today compared to the musical history in the past.
Sal: Written and directed by Diego Rougier, the film stars Fele Martinez, Patricio Contreras, Sergio Hernandez and Javiera Contador. In a reference to Sergio Leone, a Spanish film director’s identity is mistaken and instead of making his beloved screenplay, he has to run to save his life.
Sal won the Grand Prize Award of cinematic distribution from Cinema Libre Studios, for “An inventive modern-day western with majestic sweep, great acting, and a lot of surprises.”
David Bravo won the First Time Fest for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography. “For beautiful cinematography with rich details, surprising touches, and a sense of humor.”
Submerge: Written by Sophie O’Connor and Kat Holmes, directed by Sophie O’Connor. Starring Lily Hall, Christina Hallett, Kevin Dee and Georgia Balton, the film is based on an Olympic swimmer who falls in love with the girlfriend of her history teacher.
Summertime: Written and Directed by Max Weissberg, starring Lethia Nall, H.R. Britton, Eric Yves Garcia and Olivia Horton. Summertime revolves around Julia, a actress who is cast in a role by a hands-on director, and follows her acquaintances as they interact with her and each other throughout the film.
Max Weissberg won the First Time Fest Award for Outstanding Achievement in Writing. “For a script showing clarity of vision great storytelling talent and sophistication, drawing inspiration from the work of Arthur Schnitzler.”
Uprising: Directed Fredrik Stanton, Uprising is another documentary based on the Egyptian revolution from the view of organizers and officials in power.
Urban Tale: Written and directed by Eliav Lilti, Urban Tale is about two siblings that search for their long lost father after their mother’s death. The film stars Barak Friedman, Noa Friedman, Esti Yerushalmi and Zohar Shtrauss.
Zipper: Zipper is a documentary directed by Amy Nicholson that is based on New York’s famous Coney Island, and one of its famous rides, the Zipper.
Jonah Marin and John Young won the First Time Fest Award for Outstanding Achievement in Editing, for a “Fast paced editing that captures, in a balanced way, a story about humanity in an age of greed. The editing works like the Zipper itself; connecting the ride with the story of Coney Island.”
Check out some pictures below as well as part of Martin Scorsese’s speech.