Slovakia’s very first presentation of the hottest trends in American indie film will be among the newcomers at the upcoming Art Film Fest, kicking off on 19 June and lasting till 26 June in Trenčianske Teplice and Trenčín. The section Focus: American Indies will show festival visitors the latest work of young American filmmakers – independent, low-budget films that have been racking up awards at festivals around the world.
“Our goal is to show that there’s more to American film than studio productions, the bread and butter of mainstream multiplexes around the world; the USA is also home to low-budget projects that can captivate audiences without constructing an artificial superhero fantasy world. At their heart, these stories present ordinary, normal life, everyday situations that lead to conflict,” explains section programmer Daniel Vadocký.
“American indie cinema includes low-budget genre films, auteur films with amateur actors – or Hollywood stars, mumblecore and various experimental genres – a massive swathe of films with but one common denominator: autonomy from the major studio system,” he adds.
The six films selected for Art Film Fest naturally cannot do justice to the variety of all American indie film, but the section’s goal is to at least represent several typical genres.
Art Film Fest has managed to include director Destin Daniel Cretton’s Short Term 12, which has won over 50 international prizes, proving the enthusiasm for films of its ilk. It is an expanded version of the 2008 short of the same name, which triumphed at Sundance and competed at Art Film Fest a year later. It tells the powerful, emotional story of a youth counsellor who has dedicated her life to helping at-risk youth at a group home.
Festival screens will also be graced by not one but two films from Oscar nominee Noah Baumbach. The utterly unique Frances Ha defies all categorization. It is a modern comic fable that explores life on the bustling streets of New York, friendship, ambition, failure and redemption, nominated for a Golden Globe and earning dozens of awards at international festivals.
In comparison, While We’re Young presents Hollywood stars Naomi Watts and Ben Stiller in a context very different from what audiences are used to seeing them in. “Lots of famous actors love playing roles in indie films. It may sound strange, but it’s actually completely understandable, since their performances aren’t cut up into two-or-three-second shots, and they have the opportunity to display their full range of expression and flex their acting artistry,” clarifies Daniel Vadocký.
In the story of an average married couple whose private and professional lives are turned inside out by the arrival of two disarmingly positive newlyweds, the well-known independent filmmaker explores issues of aging, ambition and success. To the point and piercingly honest, the film features Noah Baumbach’s funniest dialogue to date, delivered by his most relatable characters.
From the opposite end of the genre spectrum comes Upstream Color. Part speculative sci-fi, part romantic thriller, it is among the boldest, most provocative films of contemporary American indie cinema. The drama She’s Lost Control attests to the current state of society, while Nasty Baby is a refreshing, witty example of the many films from non-US filmmakers who have acclimatized well to their new circumstances.