After the last successful edition, SR Socially Relevant Film Festival is coming back to New York from March 14th to the 20th, 2016 for the third consecutive year with a new selection of international movies. SR Socially Relevant Film Festival New York is a non-profit organization that aims at showing cinematographic work with a strong social component. Immigration, racial discrimination, climate change, economy, LGBT rights and women empowerment are just some of the topics explored by some of these talented filmmakers interested in creating awareness around some of these problems affecting societies all around the globe. SR, believes that a powerful weapon such as cinema, can facilitate positive social change and the building of a better world, free from any form of violence, hate and crime.
The presentation of the upcoming edition has taken place at Bocca East Restaurant on Groundhog Day (February 2nd) and was hosted by the Artistic Director Nora Armani with the collaboration of some members of the team: Lucie Tripon, Taleen Babayan, Chiara Isabella Spagnoli Gabardi, Ching Chen Juhl and Kelley Brannon.
“When I started the festival three years ago – said Nora Armani- it was very difficult because I had just an idea but no money, no support, no films, no partners or funders. I wondered many times if I was doing the right thing but in the end I’m very happy that I persevered. Some of you here already wrote extensively about us and this attention sparked my enthusiasm giving me the courage and the belief that this was going to be possible!”
The reason she leaped into this adventure, dates back to a family tragedy occurred on March 16th 2004, when her uncle Jack Exerjian and her cousin Vanya, were murdered in a religious hate crime. “On the 10th anniversary of their passing, I decided to dedicate my artistic work to them trying to create something different that showed only socially relevant films that don’t deal with guns, violence and crimes. Too many movie scenes nowadays are about killing and drugs. There are so many beautiful human stories in the world that deserve to be told”.
After different changes of venue, the festival will move this year to Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea: a real movie theater equipped with a mezzanine area that is going to be used as a lounge for filmmakers, VIPs and press allowing people to relax between screenings. Moreover, every day from 5pm to 6pm, guests will enjoy the Happy Hour kindly offered by Bocca East Restaurant and other hospitality partners. The event has four competing categories: feature length narratives, documentaries, short films and screenplays. The screening of Caged No More, directed by Lisa Arnold, which explores the terrible truth related to child trafficking, will open the narrative features section.
Among the documentaries, Jet Schouten and Linda Stoltenberg’s All meshed up with the participation of consumer’s advocate Erin Brokovich, focuses on lax European regulation of medical devices.
Speaking about another documentary starred by a group of blind sailors, Artistic Director Nora Armani said: “Sense the wind sudenly reminded me of the reason why I do this festival. I feel it’s a mission, I feel it’s important for us to do this so that these stories get told”.
The screenings will take place between March 15th and 19th while the 20th will be dedicated to a further selection of short films (at the Center for Remembering and Sharing) and to the Closing Night Awards Ceremony (which will be held at the Tenri Cultural Institute). Several recognitions coming from Candy Factory, IndiePix Cinema Libre, InkTip, Women Film Critics Circle and Final Draft will be assigned during the event: among them the Empowering Women and Girls Award in memory of Nora’s cousin.
“There is another thing I’d like to stress – concluded Nora Armani – we tried as much as possible to give priority to filmmakers whom have submitted their work through subscription platforms such as Withoutabox and Film Freeway, but we tried as much as possible to show premières too. My dream is to do a retrospective section one day and put the focus on the very important, socially relevant films that have been seen already but that deserve to be revisited. But right now we are concentrating on the premières, preferably in an international or here in North America at least”.