A look at events around the world
AVIGNONCompact, intense and memorable, the Avignon Film Festival (late June) is the auteur theory applied to a fest: One guy, American Jerry Rudes, founded and programs it and moderates all the panels. It has actually shrunk in its 23 years — from 10 days to four and from four screens to two — which may well be a plus. Since few screenings overlap, you’re torn less than at most fests, and there are zero barriers between filmmakers and the general public, with everything conducted in both French and English.
— Lisa NesselsonBUENOS AIRES Only 8 years old, the Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival (in April) puts great stock in its independence, with an adventurous taste for world cinephilia that few fests can match. Its development (under founder Eduardo Antin — know as Quintin — and current director Fernando Pena) exactly coincided with the resurgence in Argentine cinema, while its generous surveys of filmmakers’ complete works (no less than 15 in 2006) lend it a strong historical bent.
— Robert KoehlerCINEMA RITROVATO This Bologna, Italy, festival (early July) is a paradise for fest and arthouse programmers because it’s the perfect pairing of academic interests with the sheer joy of moviegoing. Where else can you see Vincente Minnelli’s “Brigadoon” at lunchtime and Sarah Bernhardt silents before dinner, and still look forward to a full week of similar delights?
— Jay WeissbergCINEVEGAS Yes, smack in the middle of the Strip — well, a couple of blocks away to be exact — is one of the few U.S. fests that mixes pure pleasure with a mighty serious ambition for discovery. Held entirely inside the trendy (and cool) Palms Hotel in June, this smart confab — greatly benefiting from the direction of Trevor Groth, a top Sundance programmer — displays young cinema at its best, from pop faves to boldly experimental films that straighter fests habitually ignore.
— Robert KoehlerSOCHI Otherwise known as the Open Russian Film Festival Kinotavr, this Russian event (June) in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi (think Atlantic City, but more declasse) struggled for years in the shadow of the Moscow film fest. New management in 2005 dropped the international competition, rebranding Sochi as a showcase for Russian pics and co-productions. Fortunately, this coincided with a local resurgence in quality production, making it a key stop for Russophile buyers and fest programmers.
— Leslie Felperin