After a long weekend of screenings and panels, the third annual edition of First Time Fest wrapped up with a closing night awards ceremony and party at the Gansevoort Park Hotel. For our full coverage of the festival, including reviews of several of the films that were featured, click here!
This year the closing night awards ceremony’s special honoree was Harvey Weinstein, the producer who has helped create so many memorable films, including with first-time directors. Some of the first time films his companies have distributed are Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino), Sex, Lies, and Videotape (Steven Soderbergh), Chicago (Rob Marshall), Strictly Ballroom (Baz Luhrmann), Kids (Larry Clark), Sling Blade (Billy Bob Thornton), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (George Clooney), A Single Man (Tom Ford), Citizen Ruth (Alexander Payne), Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler), and Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins).
But the real stars of the night were the first time filmmakers whose work appeared at the festival. Just how good has First Time Fest been at recognizing talent in new filmmakers and putting them on the map? Out of the eighteen films in competition in the first two years of First Time Fest, sixteen have gone on to receive full distribution deals and all included theatrical distribution. This is an astounding statistic for such a young film festival.
As in previous years, awards were given to the films in several categories, with the GRAND PRIZE being theatrical distribution and international sales from Cinema Libre Studio. The winners were:
Grand Prize Winner Of Theatrical Distribution & International Sales From Cinema Libre Studio
Infiltrant (The Intruder)
Directed By Director Shariff Korver (Holland)
FTF Award for Outstanding Achievement in Directing
FTF Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting
FTF Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
(I Believe In Unicorns)
FTF Award for Outstanding Achievement in Editing
Lauren Beckett Jackson
(Beneath The Olive Tree)
FTF Award for Outstanding Achievement in Scoring
The competition Jury Members were Scott Feinstein, Rafael Fogel, Maureen Masters, Nile Rodgers and Harper Simon.
However, the screenings were only part of what made First Time Fest 2015 a success. The schedule also included a series of panels geared toward new filmmakers. Some of the extraordinary panels included From Rock to Score, featuring an interview with Questlove about working on music for film). The panel was supposed to include Wayne Kramer of MC5, but bad weather prevented him from getting to the Gansevoort Meatpacking Hotel on time. Still, he was able to show up and the panel to chat with guests and signed a guitar for First Time Fest, after which he struck this pose:
Other panels included How Everything Works, a two-part panel which included discussions about producing independent films and how to fund films, and Crystal Ball, a panel that focused on the ever-changing arena of film distribution in the digital age.
Sponsors and collaborators of this year’s First Time Fest included Big Vision Empty Wallet; B Bar & Grill; Intandem Creatives; CORE: Club; Gansevoort Hotel Group; Cinema Libre Studio; Raptor Films; Lazar; Gibson; Tascam; DeepEddy Vodka; The Circuit; Women Make Movies; Asellina; Peroni; Qui Tequilla; Madiba.
As always, I’d like to thank the staff of First Time Fest and Springer Associates PR for including me in the festivities.