The First Time Film Festival (see Ron Bennington’s interview with the founders) took place this weekend and gave out their first annual awards at the evening award ceremony last night. The Chilian film “Sal” (Salt) a movie inspired by Sergio Leoni westerns set in present day, won the grand prize of a distribution deal from Cinema Libra Films. Diego Rougier, who got his start as a television writer/director, wrote, directed, and edited the film and co-produced it with Javiera Contador, who also stars in the movie opposite Fele Martínez. Cinematography (by David Bravo) for “Sal” (Salt) also won an award at the festival, along with the documentary “Zipper” for editing (Jonah Marin and John Young), “I Love You All” won for the score by Martin Bossa and Tomas Carnelli, and Max Weinberg won for writing the film “Summertime”. Acting awards were given out to Neal Bledsoe for “Junction”, and Alice De Lencquesaing for “Headfirst”, the only film to win two awards, as first time director Amelie Van Elmbt also won for best direction.
Darren Aronofsky attended the award ceremony to receive the John Huston award from Martin Scorsese. His first film “Pi” was shown Monday afternoon, with a Q/A with the lead Ben Shankman. Established directors including documentarian Barbara Kopple (“Harlan County, USA”), actor Philip Seymore Hoffman (“Jack Goes Boating”), Melvin Van Peebles (“The Story of a Three Day Pass”) and Nancy Savoca (“True Love”) attended the festival to discuss the films screened, experiences as a director, and recall their first time in the directors chair. Portions on the Q/As with them and the directors in competition will eventually be put on the First Time Film Festival website (images from most of the events are also currently online).
The festival, despite being the first of its kind, was incredibly well organized, from the volunteer staff and New York local theater that gave the festival two theaters for the weekend. Although some films were more packed than other, the film fans who attended were enthusiastic and encouraging, many attending multiple films during the festival. It was a unique film festival as it not only had a competition with the rare tangible prize, retrospectives, and professional workshops aimed at filmmakers. Hopefully there will be a second annual festival next year we can report on too. Look for posts with Q&A overviews and some reviews of some of the entry films later this week.
See Trailer of the movie “Sal (Salt)” coming to theaters soon: (don’t worry, the film is subtitled)