Arts & Entertainment


The third American Essentials Film Festival arrives in Sydney and devoted film festival attendees should come along and experience the best which American independent cinema has to offer. The impressive program consists of 22 feature films of which five are retrospective titles.

“This film festival brings to the surface the new voices of American cinema and also highlights some of the great traditions of American independent cinema over the generations”, explains Festival Director Richard Sowada.

“American independent cinema has always been strong, always been vibrant, always taken a different approach and always had a great respect for the traditions of American cinema as well as international cinema”.

Independent films are usually a labour of love produced on a shoe-string budget but is the writing and quality of performances of a high level in these films?

“Most definitely. That’s why they’re in the festival and that’s why they are what they are. Budget is not an important thing – concept and the delivery of the concept is the important thing. What the films deal with is an authenticity and truth about the characters and about the people behind the camera as well and you don’t need a big budget to do that. That’s been a trap of the industry for so long,” continues Sowada. “When you refer to low budget films people have this certain idea that they’re not quite of the standard, but when you’ve got $500 million spent on a feature film which is not necessarily of the standard then you have to ask the question…which is of the better value?”

If Moviegoers were to attend three films at this festival which would be the highlights?

“I would suggest Outside In. It’s very well made, very honest and I think it’s a true indicator of the American Independent Film movement. I would also recommend Pet Names. I love it. It’s great. It’s so lean, with beautifully penned lines, so sharp and great chemistry between the performers. I Kill Giants is a coming-of-age film which actually has a big budget and has that sense of scale and scope and deep fantasy. When I saw this one I thought Wow! How Cool!”

Sowada says there’s something in this film festival for everyone and when he programmed this festival it wasn’t about age, but about state of mind.

“That’s not young or old or mature or whatever…it’s energetic, that’s the word I would use. It’s for people looking for that energy in exciting cinema.” (MMo)

May 8–20. Palace Central, 3/28 Broadway, Level 3 Central Park Mall, Chippendale. $18-$80+b.f. Tickets & Info:


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