All Eyes on the New York City International Film Festival
Cultures collide as NYCIFF showcases fresh and talented film making this week

Film buffs have heard of the quintessential film festivals like Sundance and Tribeca. However, our editors were in attendance at a rather special festivity this weekend called the New York City International Film Festival (NYCIFF). NYCIFF has the unique privilege of showcasing filmmakers and their work from all corners of the world. By embracing a broad cultural diaspora and integrating diversity into their mission statement, the organization is able to distinguish themselves from other big name festivals. Founder Roberto Rizzo had a few things to say about NYCIFF, “The beauty of our film festival is that it’s not just a place to see films; we’ve got special events going on for our audience and filmmakers every day. Some days we have up to 3 or 4 red carpet events and hold seminars for aspiring professionals who want to be in the business. We treat filmmakers and their films like kings with our small resources. We are putting in an incredible effort. We want to give our little push to new filmmakers in this very complex and competitive market of show business by giving them the chance to show their films in New York City.”

For the international filmmakers from destinations such as Spain, Israel, and Italy; showcasing their films in NYC not only gives their work credibility here in the US but also in their home countries. Rizzo’s wife, Caroline Johnson elaborates, “By giving recognition to filmmakers both here and abroad we pave the way for greater recognition and acceptance for them especially in their home country.” The organization stayed true to their words last Thursday night at their Opening Gala, as they introduced the premiere of South African film Little One. The film was South Africa’s official nomination selection at the 2013 Academy Awards. Although it is an eye opener about the harsh realities of rape in South Africa, the movie’s overall message is one about love and family. Let’s take a closer look at some of the official selections playing at the NYCIFF now!

Girl Rising
: Award-winning documentary filmmaker Richard Robbins directs this groundbreaking work called Girl Rising. In our opinion, the documentaries displayed at this year’s NYCIFF are some of the strongest work we’ve seen. The documentary follows nine girls and their quest to obtain freedom from their oppressing cultures and lifestyles. Freedom is sought after through an education. Proving education is power and these girls’ souls are unconquerable. If you see any documentary this year, make it Girl Rising.  

Full Circle: Any movie that has a young 24 year old director involved and was shot for less than $30,000 deserves a nod from us. This gritty tale of a pizza boy named Anthoni and his friends who try to combat their neighborhood's gangster had us laughing in the theater with it's parody on our generations opinion of Facebook. Yet left us speechless at times with it's serious content. “Full Circle is an amazing movie, we were completely sold out at the premiere,” says Roberto Rizzo. The director sharply comments on the cultural aesthetics of his Brooklyn neighborhood, Bushwick, through his first person narrative. Full Circle helps us gain an intimate look inside the neighborhood and its complex characters. The depiction mimics a similar film style to some of Spike Lee’s earlier works like Do the Right Thing and Clockers.


La Venta Del Paraiso: A crowning moment for Spain. This movie is told through the eyes of Aura Maria, a young Mexican woman with a troubled past, who travels to Madrid on a work contract. Once she realizes her contract is false, her world soon starts to fall apart. Aura Maria searches for her own definition of paradise in Madrid and within the characters she is introduced too. La Venta Del Paraiso is an undeniably witty film and actress Ana Claudia Talancon infuses her character's piercing personality into the heart of the film.

10 Rules for Sleeping Around: From the man who brought us, Walker, Texas Ranger, director Leslie Grief depicts a screwball sex comedy for young audiences. Starring Young and The Restless actress Tammin Sursok and Jesse Bradford, 10 Rules for Sleeping Around, experiments with the openness of relationships. Is it really okay to ask your girlfriend for a threesome? What’s deemed acceptable nowadays and what isn’t? Two couples explore these questions as they realize how much they love each other. Grief commented on his movie saying, “I had friends growing up and heard about similar things happening to them so I figured why not make a film about it. I don’t think my film is promoting anything besides the idea of an afternoon delight.” Extremely funny at times and our editors thought it seemed to comment on our generations nonchalant attitude toward sex.

It was actor Tony Lo Bianco who put it best during NYCIFF’s Opening Gala when receiving his Lifetime Achievement Award stating, “Just go out and create something. You can’t wait around for your next big break to find you. While you’re waiting, life is passing you by.” On behalf of Joonbug, we salute the NYCIFF, all its filmmakers and cast/crew! Support must-see independent films by attending the NYCIFF's other movies this week such as Jihad In America: The Grand DeceptionDeath By China, and more by purchasing tickets here. NYCIFF is going on now through Thursday, June 20th.

Joonbug readers use discount codes sheba99 and demi2013 for 20% off all featured films at various NYC theater locations!