The First Time Fest closed yesterday on Monday April 7, marking the end of the second year the festival. Ten filmmakers were in the running to receive national theatrical distribution from the Cinema Libre Studio as well as a trip to Scandinavia. Founded by Johanna Bennett and Mandy Ward after deciding to make a festival that would reward first time filmmakers for their work and efforts to make their first film, they decided to make the First Time Fest. Over this past weekend, filmmakers from all over the world featured their films. The festival also featured talks from established guests like Michael Moore, as well as panels and first films from Julie Taymor and more! The film festival ended at the 42West Nightclub in New York City which awarded not only these filmmakers recognition for their work, but also Julie Taymor for her work as well.
Taymor was awarded the John Huston Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema, due to her massive success as a first time filmmaker with her Shakespeare adaptation of "Titus" as well as carrying on through the years with other films such as "Frida," "Across the Universe" and "The Tempest."
"Love Steaks," a German film about a woman falling in love that was all improvised, won the grand prize of theatrical distribution as well as the Scandinavian trip. Directed by Jakob Lass and first time film editor Gesa Jäger, the First Time Fest Award for Outstanding Achievement in Editing also went to Jäger, for her lively, adventurous and precise editing work.
The First Time Fest Special Jury Prize was awarded to "1982," a film written and directed by Tommy Oliver about a father trying to prevent his ten year old girl from taking crack just like her mother did. Hill Harper, who portrayed the father in the film, won the First Time Fest Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting since his performance was intimate and ultimately glorious.
"Bittersweet," directed by Marieke Niestadt, is a documentary about women boxers who put their lives on hold to win. Niestadt won the First Time Fest Award for Outstanding Achievement in Directing for her disarming and beautifully constructed documentary.
The First Time Fest Award for Outstanding achievement in Storytelling went to "Farewell, Herr Schwarz," a documentary following a brother and sister separated by the war and living eerily similar lives despite the fact that they live in two separate continents across the world.
The First Time Fest Award for Outstanding achievement in Cinematography went to Zachary Galler of "The Sleepwalker," a thriller about family lies and sister secrets. Galler won the award for his subtle, gorgeous visual set that moved the film along. The film also won the First Time Fest Award for Outstanding achievement in Scoring, which was awarded to Sondre Lerche and Kato Åbland since they featured sounded that linger after you’ve gone.
This marked the close of the second year of the film festival, where actor Nicolas Haden-Guest, reporter Anne-Katrin Titze and film critic Stephanie Zacharek acted as jury members. The festival was a great success and we can only hope for it to get better next year.
Catherina Gioino contributed reporting.