Thursday night was the opening of the New York City International Film Festival, a black-tie gala premier of The Last Gamble, held at the Hudson Theater near Times Square.
Standing shoulder to shoulder, elbow to elbow, it seemed like the least likely place to interact with strangers. But the stage was set for a great evening when someone randomly came up to me and asked: "are you Spanish?" "No... Kuwaiti." "Ah! I'm Lebanese!" That was Farah Jouni, director of Fly While Arab. One arabic conversation later, I found myself with the international team behind her New York Film Academy thesis film.
New York is a great city, but it's even better when spending an evening with people who know how to enjoy it. It was a perfect end to the day, which had started with a sleepless red-eye flight from Los Angeles, and a five hour delay in Philadelphia, half of which was spent in the airplane, on the runway, waiting for the rain to pass. Serendipity.
NYCIFF offers the unique experience of showing films on a giant screen in Times Square. That was the vision of Roberto Rizzo, the festival's founder, who welcomed his filmmakers like guests into his home.
The festival includes a film market, with a series of workshops led by Joe Goodavage, director of The Last Gamble.
(As an aside, I had been told the film was inspired by the director's own story. [Spoiler alert:] You can imagine my surprise when the lead character, also Joe G., was brutally murdered at the end with a baseball bat. Fortunately, that part of the semi-autobiographical story was more "semi" and less "autobiographical.")
To Rest in Peace will be screening with NYCIFF on Wednesday, August 24th, 4:30 PM at the Snapple Theater.
And there's more big festival news coming soon, including the announcement of our Canadian premier! Stay tuned.