Having debuted at Palace Electric cinemas last year as the Essential Independents Film Festival, the cavalcade returns this year as the American Essentials Film Festival 2017. Also taking in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, the showcase of the “freshest films from the US festival circuit” comes to Canberra from May 16 – May 28.
Boasting a truly diverse line-up of thirty features, there is a real mixture of content on offer. In the words of the festival’s artistic director, Richard Sowada, the selection straddles a cross-section of styles including “thriller, melodrama, adventure, comedy, coming of age, body horror, political documentary, symphonic documentary, classics, music, cult, art and biography”.
Opening night on Tuesday 16 May will be an Australian premiere screening of Mike Mills’ new feature, 20th Century Women. Nominated at this year’s Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay, its ensemble cast features Annette Benning, Elle Fanning, Billy Cruddup, Greta Gerwig and newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann. Celebrate the Palace Electric premiere of the 70s-era tale of love and loss with a pre-film celebration consisting of Stella Artois, wine, canapés and live entertainment.
The festival’s Centerpiece special event has a very local connection. The compelling docudrama Becoming Bond is the true story of George Lazenby – the man who would be Bond, James Bond (from Queanbeyan). On Her Majesty’s Secret Service just the one time, George Lazenby’s claim to fame is a truly fascinating tale, both larger than life and stranger than fiction.
The festival’s other 28 offerings are split between two primary sections: Masters & Masterpieces and Features & Documentaries. Cinephiles can rejoice at the chance to see classics such as Annie Hall, Barfly and The Graduate on the big screen. There is also a spotlight on master director David Lynch in the form of documentary David Lynch: The Art Life paired with a special 40th anniversary screening of his independent cult cinema touchstone Eraserhead. Also to be enjoyed, read: grappled with, is a brand new restoration of 2001’s truly Lynchian brainbender, Mulholland Drive.
Features & Documentaries presents an incredibly diverse field with a little bit of everything. From documentaries unpacking both the current socio-political climate (All Governments Lie…, The Bomb) and those of decades past (American Anarchist), to the emergence of a unique hip-hop style and culture on the US West Coast (G-Funk), to wilderness survival dramas (Walking Out), to a debut drama which highlights the plight of undocumented high-school students in the Bronx (From Nowhere), variety is a calling card of the festival.
Be sure to check out Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut of Phillip Roth’s acclaimed epic American Pastoral and also look out for The Transfiguration – a gritty indie interpretation of the vampire tale which was a breakout debut hit at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
Following opening night, there will be three screenings on weekdays throughout the festival and four screenings each day of the weekend.
Pick up the official booklet or purchase tickets at Palace Electric.
To purchase tickets online or for more information, visit www.americanessentials.com.au