From Stockholm to Sao Paulo, the fall fest circuit is chockfull of offerings that appeal to virtually every taste and market demand. Here, then, are some of the more evolved platforms in the cinematic quest for hearts and minds.
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OLDENBURG INT’L FILM FEST
The “German Sundance” celebrates its 19th year with a tribute to award-winning director-cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, including the international premiere of his most 2009 pic, “Lost Arcadia.” Papamichael’s lens work on James Mangold’s “Walk the Line” is also featured in the fest’s annual high-security Prison Screenings section. A sidebar devoted to music docs will see Butch Walker on hand for Shane Valdes’ “Butch Walker: Out of Focus.” International premieres of Matthew Lillard’s directorial debut “Fat Kid Rules the World” and Laurence Thrush’s “Pursuit of Loneliness” are featured among the U.S. offerings, including the world premiere of Dan Mirvish’s adaptation of the Off Broadway play “Between Us,” starring Julia Stiles. Other highlights include the German premieres of the compilation film “The Fourth Dimension” — featuring a segment by Harmony Korine — and Dree Hemingway’s breakout turn in Sean Baker’s “Starlet.”
ZURICH FILM FEST
Sept. 20- 30
This year’s eighth edition sees the launch of the ZFF Filmboutique, an industry platform for German-language features and docs. Held at Arena Filmcity from Sept. 27-29, it will showcase between 20 and 30 feature-length films made in Germany, Austria and Switzerland over the past 12 months, as well as various works-in-progress. There’s also a new Music Competition, with composers competing to score a six-minute short film; the winner will receive $11,000 and have their music recorded by Zurich’s Tonhalle orchestra under the guidance of conductor David Zinman. Producer Jerry Weintraub, meanwhile, will receive the fest’s Golden Eye Career Achievement Award, alongside a retrospective of some of his most popular films. Weintraub will deliver a masterclass. And for its New World View national sidebar, the fest has this year chosen to focus on Sweden.
SAN SEBASTIAN INT’L FILM FEST
For its 60th edition, this Basque veteran is pulling out all the stops: the Golden Shell competition boasts some big names — France’s Francois Ozon, Austria’s Barbara Albert, Argentina’s Carlos Sorin — while the Kutxa-New Directors Award, restricted to first and second features, continues to lure filmmakers with its €90,000 ($110,761) paycheck. Films in Progress, the fest’s post-production initiative for Latin American features, celebrates its 10th anniversary with an 18-film showcase. Another sidebar, Very Funny Things: New American Comedy, ranges from ’80s classics (“Animal House,” “Caddyshack,” “Porky’s”) to the work of present-day practitioners such as Judd Apatow, Peter Farrelly, Trey Parker & Matt Stone and Mike Judge. All this, plus a complete retrospective dedicated to French master Georges Franju, including his early short fiction and documentary films.
PACIFIC MERIDIAN INT’L FILM FEST (VLADIVOSTOK)
To mark its 10th anniversary, the Pacific Meridian Intl. Film Festival of APEC countries is unveiling a number of initiatives. The First program will showcase debut features by “outstanding contemporary directors of the region” — among them, Hong Kong’s Wong Kar Wai, China’s Jia Zhangke, Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Japan’s Shinya Tsukamoto. Meanwhile the Friends program consecrates relationships established with other international fests — Busan (South Korea), Capalbio (Italy), El Corto (Mexico) and Interfilm (Germany) — whose representatives will visit Vladivostok to screen films, deliver lectures and hold training-based seminars and workshops. Finally, the Oceans program, designed and prepared in San Francisco specifically for the Pacific Meridian IFF, aims to address ecological issues. In addition, 2012 sees Vladivostok present ArtDocFest, the biggest Russian festival of auteur documentary cinema, for the first time.
SITGES FILM FEST
Genre fans will be flocking to this dependable Catalan event, arguably the world’s most respected genre festival. Alongside some recent Cannes hits — David Cronenberg’s “Cosmopolis,” Leos Carax’s sensational “Holy Motors” — come more grisly pleasures, such as “Lovely Molly,” the latest pic from Eduardo Sanchez, one of the creators of “The Blair Witch Project,” and the Sam Raimi-produced “The Possession,” directed by Sitges regular Ole Bornedal. French extreme horror mavens Pascal Laugier (“Martyrs”) and Alexandre Aja (“High Tension”) will each unveil works: Jessica Biel-toplining thriller “The Tall Man” and a remake of the classic 1981 U.S. slasher, “Maniac,” respectively. There’s a centennial showcase for Japan’s Nikkatsu studio, and also a section dedicated to recent BBC television fantasies, from “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock” to such cult hits as “Psychoville” and “The Fades.”
LONDON FILM FEST
Replacing Sandra Hebron as topper of the LFF (she, ironically, has gone to assist Marco Mueller at her former rival, Rome), former Sydney Film Festival director Clare Stewart has elected to repeat her main Antipodean programming initiative: abolishing London’s established sections in favor of “seven new focused categories … clustered around the themes of love, adrenalin, challenge, debate, cult, journeys and laughter” — all “based on research that show people choose which films to watch based primarily on story and genre.” With more than 200 features packed into a shorter, 11-day event, there’ll hardly be a shortage of emotions to pick from. Meanwhile, London’s growing importance as a platform for fall/winter releases is acknowledged in its claim that the new system is “designed to support the films the festival champions for their transition into the marketplace.”
WARSAW INT’L FILM FEST
Opening with the European premiere of Andrzej Jakimowski’s “Imagine” (one of three Polish entries in the fest’s international competition, alongside “Baby Blues” by Kasia Roslaniec and Slawomir Fabicki’s “Loving”), Warsaw will this year showcase about 130 features and 70 shorts, spread across five competitive and five non-competitive sections. Expect sales agents and distributors to flock to the Warsaw Screenings and
CentEast Market (both Oct. 19-21). WFF continues to team with its Russian partner Tvindie for the third edition of CentEast Warsaw-Moscow — a presentation of works-in-progress from Russia and Eastern Europe, to be held Oct. 16 in Moscow as part of the Red Square Screenings before traveling to WFF three days later. In addition, WFF has forged a collaboration with the Beijing-based Film Factory, a network of independent filmmakers from China, aimed at developing training- and distribution-based initiatives.
SÃO PAULO INT’L FILM FEST
Oct. 19-Nov. 1
For its 36th edition, Sao Paulo packs a typically hefty punch, with more than 300 features unspooling — all Brazilian premieres. But it’s arguably the sidebars that shine brightest: an homage to Russian master Andrei Tarkovsky not only showcases his features, but is accompanied by an exhibition of his luminous Polaroid photographs at the Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo. Other retros, meanwhile, focus on the career of Shochiku journeyman Minoru Shibuya (1907-80), and survey the career to date of Ukrainian helmer Sergei Loznitsa (“My Joy”). And after last year’s well-received open-air screening of “Metropolis,” this year a restored version of F.W. Murmau’s “Nosferatu” will play at the city’s Parque do Ibirapuera, accompanied by a live orchestra. All this, plus Mostra Brasil, featuring between 40 and 50 new works from both veteran and debut Brazilian filmmakers.
STOCKHOLM INT’L FILM FEST
One of the leading northern European fests, Stockholm unspools over 170 pics from more than 40 countries, alongside a healthy roster of master-class programs and seminars. Nordic premieres of Mikael Marcimain’s “Call Girl,” Cannes Camera d’Or winner “Beasts of the Southern Wild” from U.S. helmer Benh Zeitlin, and “The Parade,” the latest from two-time Bronze Horse winner Srdjan Dragojevic, are among the offerings. This year also sees the world premiere of the first film produced under the auspices of the Stockholm Film Festival Feature Film Award: Sofia Norlin’s “Tenderness” — its budget boosted by a €500,000 ($615,340) bursary from the fest last year, including a Nordic-Baltic distribution contract with NonStop Entertainment. A second feature will be announced at this year’s event, to premiere at the fest in 2013.
MAR DEL PLATA INT’L FILM FEST
In addition to its usual competitive strands — with sections devoted to international and Latin American pics as well as a separate Argentine features program — this year’s Mar Del Plata fest boasts a healthy selection of sidebars both new (with strands dedicated to comedies, the avant-garde, and, in “OST,” to music on film) and old. Among the latter are retrospectives dedicated to Britain’s Ealing Studio, Uruguayan-Argentine helmer Roman Vinoly Barreto (1910-60) and Algerian multi-hyphenate Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina, whose best-known work, “Chronicle of the Years of Fire,” won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1974. There’s also a special focus on Hispanic-American kids’ features, and an intriguing tribute to the collaboration between U.S. tunesmith Lee Hazlewood and Swedish director Torbjorn Axelman.