SR SOCIALLY RELEVANT FILM FEST March 16-22 Showcases Broader Slate of Timely, Issue Oriented Films

The 2nd ed. of SR SOCIALLY RELEVANT FILM FESTIVAL NY offers timely, socially engaging selection of World and U.S. premieres.

Online PR News – 08-February-2015 – New York, NY – The 2nd edition of the SR SOCIALLY RELEVANT FILM FESTIVAL NEW YORK runs from March 16 - 22, 2015 at Tribeca Cinemas, Maysles Cinema and SVA. The festival’s timely and socially engaging selection offers World and U.S. premieres, in addition to a slate of tributes and industry panels.

Films from over 30 countries including Armenia, Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Haiti, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kurdistan, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Palestine, Patagonia, Peru, Romania, Russia, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tibet, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE and the USA will be screened in 4 venues.

SR SOCIALLY RELEVANT FILM FESTIVAL NEW YORK is a new not-for-profit film festival showcasing socially relevant film content. The films selected raise awareness to social problems and current issues.

The Festival was inaugurated in March 2014 with a program of 55 films from 18 countries at the Quad Cinema. Nora Armani, Actor/Filmmaker and Founding Artistic Director of SR, created the festival in response to the proliferation of violence and violent forms of storytelling. “I strongly believe that the violence portrayed on our screens and in video games is responsible for the banalization of evil in our societies and the proliferation of violent forms of communication. Most films today encourage mis-representation, reinforce stereotypes and create an escapist passive attitude in youth and adults towards major social issues. In reverse, simply by focusing more on socially relevant themes, positive social change can be promoted through the powerful medium of cinema.”

Why SR is so socially relevant this year?
This year’s lineup includes films that address a wide range of issues including:
Gun control & police brutality
Race relations & discrimination
Violence against women & empowering women
LGBT rights
Conflict in the Mideast
The environment & climate change
The US economy & oil rush
Immigration & exile

The Festival opens with the US premiere of the Turkish/German/French co-production COME TO MY VOICE (WERE DENGÊ MIN), directed by Hϋseyin Karabey, which will screen at CUNY Graduate Center, Proshansky Auditorium 365 Fifth Avenue on March 16th, and is by invitation through the Festival. The film premiered at the Berlinale in 2014. Sponsored by the German Consulate General in New York in partnership with SR Film Fest and MEMEAC (Middle East Middle East America Center) at CUNY Graduate Center.

The opening party will be held at the newly opened and modern Botequim Brazilian Restaurant near Union Square on Monday, March 16th, sponsored by One Five Hospitality and Fair Vodka. Industry Panels will be held at the School of Visual Arts MFA SocDoc (136 W 21st Street, in Chelsea). The panels will address such issues as: Distribution, Storytelling and Diversity Casting. The closing party and awards ceremony is Sunday, March 22nd, also at Botequim Brazilian Restaurant.

The Festival’s other sponsors and partners include: Unifrance, The French Embassy Cultural Services, Cinema Libre Studio, MFA SocDoc School of Visual Arts, The Left Tilt Fund, Alouette Communications, IndiePix, Film Freeway, Final Draft, InkTip, The Candy Factory, Copenhagen Restaurant, Dailymotion, French Morning, Go Magazine, and a number of Industry and Media partners and supporters (see website for full list).

Press are invited to complimentary drinks and hors d’oeuvres before and after the screenings at Tribeca Cinemas and for free coffee, tea and WiFi at Copenhagen Restaurant to interview filmmakers, write reviews, or just chill!

For tickets and more information visit the web site:
Below is a list of the competition titles and highlights:
Screenings will take place at Tribeca Cinemas, 54 Varick Street
Maysles Cinema, 343 Malcolm X Blvd / Lenox Ave (Between 127th and 128th Streets)
The Center for Remembering& Sharing (CRS), 123 4th Avenue near Union Square
Industry Panels will take place at SVA MFA SocDoc in Chelsea, 136 W 21st Street, 1st Floor, Chelsea

Founding Artistic Director of SR, Actor & Filmmaker
Nora Armani is an award-winning actor/filmmaker with International stage and screen credits in many languages. She has curated and organized film events, and guest-curated film festivals internationally and in the US: AFI in Los Angeles and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Under her Paris-based film production company Square Mango Films, she has also organized film events with The Pompidou Center in Paris, ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) London, The British Library, Cine Lumière London, Edinburgh Film Festival, Kerala Film Festival India, Birmingham, Inverness and Cardiff. She has presented papers at conferences such as Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS) at Harvard University and Harriman Institute at Columbia University, and LSE Media Studies, on Sergei Paradjanov, Cultural Identity in Cinema, and Socially Relevant films and their power is promoting positive social change. She holds a M.Sc. degree in Sociology from The London School of Economics (LSE) and a BA in Sociology and English from AUC.
As feature film producer Armani’s films were screened in the official selections of the Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), IFF Rotterdam (Competition), Paris, London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Denver, Oregon, Monaco, Shanghai, and New York. As a filmmaker Nora recently wrote & directed her debut film, ‘Moving Stories’ that premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and screened at a number of US, and International Film Festivals.
Nora recently worked as an actor on two feature films: Bourek by Vladan Nikolic, and Good Funk by Adam Kritzer, and two shorts: Hungry by Jillie Simon and Derya by Yonca Talu. Nora is currently based in New York after many years in Los Angeles and Paris. For full bio and filmography visit her websiteor on IMDb.

Official Selection SR Film Fest
Narrative Feature Competition - Full List (In alphabetic order)

1. Come To My Voice (Were Dengệ Min) - 101’- Germany/Turkey/France - 2014 - (US Premiere)
Directed by Hϋseyin Karabey
Opening Night Film at CUNY Graduate Center – Note: Screens out of competition
In a remote Kurdish mountain village, little Jiyan is worried about her father who is arrested by the Turkish police as a suspected guerilla. He will be released when his family surrenders his gun. Only he has never possessed one! With her grandmother Jiyan embarks on a journey crossing mountains and valleys to find the elusive gun and save her father from prison.
Themes: Discrimination, Gun control, Turkish/Kurdish conflict
The film was screened at the Berlinale in 2014
Sponsored by the German Consulate General New York and MEMEAC CUNY

2. Destination: Planet Negro -102’- USA 2014 - (New York Premiere)
Directed by Kevin Willmott
In this slapstick comedy we see a witty satire about influential African-American figures, W.E.B DuBois and George Washington Carver. They time warp to the present to discover unbelievable developments like young men with drooping pants and the election of a black president.
Themes: Race Relations in the USA
Q & A with the director or producer or actors

3. The Challat of Tunis -90’ - Tunisia, France, Canada, UAE - 2014 - (US Premiere)
Directed by Kaouther Ben Hania
A man on a motorcycle known as The Challat terrorizes the women of Tunisia by slashing their bottoms with a razor. Ten years after these ‘incidents’ a young determined film director decides to investigate the mystery of the Challat of Tunis.
Themes: Violence against women, video games, empowering women and girls
Tunisian Ambassador will be present (tbc)

4. We Will Live Somewhere Else - 75’-France - 2013 - (US Premiere)
Directed by Nicolas Karolszyk
The story of a struggling African man named Zola who embarks on a dangerous sea journey to across the sea to France in hopes of finding answers and a better life...
Themes: Immigration, Racial discrimination
Q & A with the director (Sponsored by Unifrance)

Official Selection - SR Film Fest
Documentary Feature Competition - Full List (In alphabetic order)

1. All in Her Stride - 55’ - Australia - 2014 (New York Premiere)
Directed by Fiona Cochrane
This film depicts elements of Australian actor Leverne McDonnell’s life and documents her facing a terminal diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, with discussion of the topic of euthanasia and her death.
Themes: Cancer, euthanasia

2. Black Harvest - 87’ - Luxembourg/USA - 2014 (North American Premiere)
Directed by Jean-Louis Schuller and Sean Clark
On the remote and barren plains of North Dakota, in what could be considered the “gold rush” of modern times, two men search for redemption by trying to overcome their past.
Themes: US economy, homelessness and the oil rush
Q & A after the screening

3. Cinema Palestine - 79’ - Canada/ Palestine - 2014 - (New York Premiere)
Directed by Tim Schwab
Told through intimate in-depth interviews the film explores the life and work of multiple generations of Palestinian filmmakers and media artists, questioning what it means to be a Palestinian artist in the context of the larger struggle for nationhood.
Themes: Palestinian identity, Middle East Conflict.
Q & A after the screening
High Hopes, directed by the award winning Guy Davidi (director of 5 Broken Cameras), and featuring the soundtrack (High Hopes) donated by Pink Floyd, precedes the film.

4. Gaucho Del Norte - 55’ - USA/Patagonia - 2014 - (East Coast Premiere)
Directed by Sofian Khan/ Andres Caballero
The nomadic two-year journey of Patagonian sheepherder Eraldo Pacheco recruited to work in Idaho with his herd of more than a thousand sheep, as he faces the ups and downs of a psychologically demanding job far away from his home and family.
Themes: Nomadic life - migration
Q & A after the screening

5. In an Ideal World - 83’ - USA - 2014 - (New York Premiere)
Directed by Noel Schewerin
The film follows three men inside a California prison over seven years of time. Direct from America’s locked down racial system their stories highlight a true human drama at its core.
Themes: Racial segregation in California Prisons - Soledad.
Q & A after the screening with the prison warden, and one or two of the former inmates in the film, and a criminologist from John Jay School of Criminology (tbd).

6. Lighter Than Orange - 62’ - Germany 2014 - (New York Premiere)
Directed by Matthias Leupold
Ten North Vietnamese veterans tell about their memories of the war and Agent Orange as well as the struggles they have faced as a consequence of both.
Themes: Vietnam War and Agent Orange
Q & A after the screening

7. Love Is The Highest Law - 83’ - USA - (School of Visual Arts student) - 2014 - (New York Premiere)
Directed by Liliya Anisimova
A unique, firsthand look into three powerful stories connected through the strength of overcoming the stringent same-sex laws both in Russia and the United States and of love triumphing over hardship.
Themes: LGTB rights, discrimination
Q & A after the screening

8. Send in the Clowns - 83’ - USA/ Haiti - 2014 - (New York Premiere)
Directed by Sam Lee
A film about artists with good intentions slowly reveals Haiti’s crippling and conflicted relationship with an arguably more absurd global aid industry.
Themes: Humanitarian aid in Haiti
Q & A after the screening with the Brooklyn-based filmmaker

9. Truth Through a Lens - 92’ - USA - (School of Visual Arts Student) - 2014 (World Premiere)
Directed by Justin Thomas
This stunning feature length debut follows the evolution of Dennis Flores from Brooklyn street kid, subway train tagger to local community organizing legend in the backdrop of recent social issues.
Themes: Police Brutality and gun control
Q & A after the screening with the filmmaker and Activist Dennis FLores

10. We Cannot Go There Now, My Dear (*)- 42’- Lebanon 2014 - (New York Premiere)
Directed by Carol Mansour
The story of Palestinian refugees living in Syria and their lives that are continuously being rebuilt awaiting a return to the homeland ever since they were forced to flee Palestine in 1948.
Themes: Palestinian Refugees fleeing Syria
Q & A after the screening
Carol Mansour is the winner of the 2014 SR Documentary Film Competition Award for her film Not Who We Are, and will be Skyped in for an interview conducted by Christa Salamandra, Professor of Anthropology and Syria specialist at Lehman College.

(*)Official Selection Short Documentary Competition

Highlights From: Documentary Short Films Official Selection - SR Film Fest

High Hopes- 14’20 - Palestine - 2014
Directed by Guy Davidi
In 1997-1998, many Bedouin refugees living under Israeli Occupation were forcibly displaced by Israel to a garbage dump. High Hopes covers the struggle for peace and a viable existence of a Palestinian state. Soundtrack donated by Pink Floyd.
Themes: Israel-Palestine Conflict
Precedes: Cinema Palestine a documentary on Palestinian cinema.

A Search For Justice- 13’05- USA - 2014 - (New York Premiere)
NY Times Series - Series creator Chris Buck - Exec. Prod. Kyra Darnton 60 Minutes
Nearly 35 years after the murder of four American churchwomen in El Salvador, the case continues to take surprising turns... and focuses attention on the United States’ involvement.
Themes: US foreign intervention, extra-judicial killings and justice
Precedes: Lighter Than Orange a documentary on Vietnam and Agent Orange.

A Syrian Story- 13’ - Canada - 2014 - (New York Premiere)
Directed by Samer Beyhum
Through the striking images and testimonies of activists, Jessica tells the story of the terrible tragedy for Syrian people over three difficult years.
Themes: Middle East Conflict, War
Director will be present
Precedes: We cannot Go There Now My Dear a documentary on Palestinian refugees from Syria.

Born in Adana- 15’ - Canada - 2014 - (East Coast Premiere)
Directed by David Hovan
The surrender of Adana to Turkey by the French, causes yet another upheaval and further deportation of the Armenians of that city in search for a new home.
Themes: Genocide, Collective memory
In a program of shorts on the Armenian Genocide, exile and displacement

A Stage for Size- 21’59 - USA/Romania - 2014 - (US Premiere)
Directed by Corina Maritescu
Together, prideful overweight women explore new and radical ways of looking at bodies and advocating for their (and everyone's) right to define beauty and health for themselves.
Themes: Stereotypes, discrimination, obesity
In a program of shorts on women and sexuality
Nasbandi: Conversations About Female Sterilization in Rural India - 23’15” - India - 2014
Directed by Anne Munger, Zoe Hamilton
The stories of four women (Sarita, Pushpa, Sundara Devi, and Roopa) as they reflect on their decisions to get - or not get - sterilized, in a remote village in Uttarakhand, India.
Themes: Women, Sexuality, oppression
Directors will be present

Highlights From: Narrative Short Films Official Selection - SR Film Fest

Butterflies - 18’55”- Canada - 2013 - (New York Premiere)
Directed by Cayman Grant
A story inspired by true events about a teenage cancer survivor who learns to live life to the fullest with a new friend who faces his own battle with Leukemia.
Themes: Cancer, teenage love

Counter- 11’20 -USA - 2014 - (New York Premiere)
Directed by Nicholas Bouier
Set in 1942 Indianapolis, Bayard Rustin, stages a reckless one person sit-in at a local diner run by Junior Ray, a rare female business owner.
Themes: Discrimination, Civil Rights, Police brutality

È Stata Lei (It Was Her)- 21’24 - Italy - 2014 - (US Premiere)
Directed by Francesca Archibugi
The film questions the prison system as the right place for a recovery process and repentance for the violent man. The story is set in Regina Coeli prison in Rome, an intimate universe of violent and delicate relationships.
Themes: Violence against women, empowering women

Miss Klara - 17’15”- Germany - 2014 - (New York Premiere)
Directed by Robert Spaeth
Miss Klara follows her daily routine in attendant of Lady Sonnenwend, who became mute. One day Lady Sonnenwend’s voice awakens…

Najes- 19’06 - Iran - 2014 - (New York Premiere)
Directed by Bahram Ark and Bahman Ark
While driving in a dark night, a Moslem man hits a dog badly. He wants to care for it but his religion considers dogs ‘unclean’. His humane gesture creates havoc.
Themes: Religion, Family

Pearl - 21’ -Denmark - 2014 - (World Premiere)
Directed by Perjman Khorsand-Jamal
The film depicts problems that accompany actor Anoush Lafzi due to his middle-eastern background as he auditions in Denmark.
Themes: Ethnicity, acting stereotypes
Q & A after the screening

The Handkerchief - 12’ - New Zealand - 2013 - (New York Premiere)
Directed by Linda Niccol
A blind man looking for love meets the woman of his dreams on a park bench in a rose garden. He charms her with his other very finely tuned senses.
Themes: Blindness and perception
Q & A after the screening

Zacharie Doesn't Live Here Anymore (Zacharie ne vit plus ici) - 18’ - France/Italy - (New York Premiere)
Directed by Alberto Segre
Madalena, the Spanish immigrant housemaid of a Paris family, becomes completely desperate when the child left in her care disappears....
Themes: Immigration, Family
Q & A after the screening