On November 8, the 13th American Film Festival (AFF) will begin, in Wrocław’s New Horizons Cinema, during which we prove that American cinema is not just popcorn movies. The festival program includes independent cinema pearls, a large dose of marvelous classics and Hollywood films with the auteur stamp of outstanding directors.
The 13th AFF will feature a total of 88 productions (80 feature films and 8 shorts), 37 of which will be shown in Poland for the first time, and 12 will have their European premiere. 40 titles were directed by women, and men were behind the camera of 48 films. A total running time of 8,205 minutes of screenings are waiting for viewers. Ticket sales, for on-site screenings and to online access, starts tomorrow, October 28, at 12:00 (only via the americanfilmfestival.pl website).
The American Film Festival will be held for the third time in a hybrid model. The on-site edition of the event will end on November 13, and some of the festival films will also be available online on the New Horizons VOD platform (online titles are appropriately marked in the program) until November 20.
The 13th AFF will open one of the most anticipated films of this year: Bones and All, the latest piece by Luca Guadagnino, awarded at the Venice Film Festival with the Silver Lion for Best Director. We'll see a series of stars on the screen, including the great Taylor Russell and Timothée Chalamet. Bones and All is a story of love blossoming between Maren, a young woman learning to survive on the margins of society, and Lee, an impetuous outcast and drifter. During a thousand-mile odyssey, they will learn about backroads and the various traps of America of the Ronald Reagan era. Despite their efforts, however, they cannot escape their tragic past. Ultimately, they will have to decide if their affection can overcome their otherness.
The festival in Wrocław will close with a screening of Florian Zeller’s The Son – yet another, after the award-winning The Father, insightful study of a contemporary family in crisis. Very realistic and phenomenally played by the star cast (Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, Anthony Hopkins) The Son is an extraordinary cinematic experience with anger, guilt and unconditional love in the background.
As usual, the AFF program includes hits shown at world festivals – including one of the best-rated and longest-applauded films at the Venice festival – Darren Aronofsky's The Whale, with the daring role of Brendan Fraser; She Said by Maria Schrader – a suspenseful film about a journalistic investigation that revealed sexual crimes committed by Harvey Weinstein (starring Carey Mulligan and Zoe Kazan); Till by Chinonye Chukwu – a true story about one of the most important events that sparked the civil rights movement and significantly influenced Martin Luther King – the lynching of innocent Emmett Till; Armageddon Time – James Gray’s latest film portraying his childhood in Queens, New York (with Anthony Hopkins and Anne Hathaway); Aftersun by Charlotte Welles – one of the revelations of this year’s festivals, from Cannes to Toronto (with Paul Mescal known from Normal People) and Moonage Daydream by Brett Morgen – the cosmic story about David Bowie. We are glad that this year’s most talked-about titles also include a Polish one – the film Roving Woman by Michał Chmielewski, premiered at Tribeca, one of the world’s most important independent film festivals.
At last! Robert Altman, an absolute master of cinema, will be the protagonist of this year’s first retrospective. His work, however, is so rich that we’ve divided the retrospective into two parts: as part of the 13th AFF, we will present films in which Altman observes and comments on America itself, showing what is behind the facade of the American dream, and next year we will give a voice to female characters from his works. This year’s program includes 11 titles, including: Brewster McCloud (1970), M.A.S.H. (1970), Nashville (1972), and The Player (1992). The retrospective is curated by prof. Rafał Syska.
More about Altman himself will come from another master of cinema, a writer of many of his films - Joan Tewkesbury, who will give an online masterclass (live on the cinema screen) on November 11, after the screening of Old Boyfriends.
The cinema she creates crosses the boundaries of portrayals of sex, violence against women and their work on screen. Most of all: her work is the epitome of American independent cinema, strengthening the belief that experiment in film is still possible. Nina Menkes will be a special guest at the 13th American Film Festival. The director will visit Wrocław, where she will receive the Indie Star Award and take part in a masterclass (on November 12, after the screening of Phantom Love). As part of the retrospective, a panel discussion Is a different gaze possible?, devoted to the issue of male and female gaze in cinema, will happen on November 10 (after the screening of Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power). With panelists prof. Małgorzata Radkiewicz, Agnieszka Smoczyńska, Małgorzata Sadowska and prof. Monika Talarczyk.
We will present 8 works by Nina Menkes; from her early student films – The Great Sadness of Zohara (1983) and Magdalena Viraga (1986), to the latest Brainwashed: Sex-Camera-Power (2021) – a lecture film in which she explains how basic cinematographic techniques work to objectify women on-screen, its implications for the industry as a whole and the safety of women in general. The curator of the retrospective is prof. Monika Talarczyk.
One of the hallmarks of the American Film Festival are the competition sections: Spectrum (13 titles) – an overview of new trends and young talents of US cinema, and American Docs (8 titles) – documentaries presenting various facets of America. The productions rated by viewers will compete for awards in two categories: feature film and documentary.
Traditionally, the festival also includes the Special Docs section, where you’ll get to see American documentaries in every possible form. The program includes the classic, surf documentary referring to this year’s visual identity of the festival The Endless Summer (1965) – a story about the pursuit of eternal summer and the best wave; The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks – a portrait of an icon of American activism; McEnroe - the story of one of the most famous and controversial tennis players and Fragments of Paradise – a film, dedicated to Jonas Mekas, awarded at the Venice Film Festival.
This year, we continue our cooperation with CINEMAFORUM – International Short Film Forum, and together we prove that short forms can convey a huge variety of content. The American Shorts section includes 5 films, including House Comes with a Bird – a new production by Janicza Bravo, the author of Zola presented at the 12th AFF.
The sections are just a starting point for exploring the richness of American cinema – we encourage you to blaze trails on your own. One of them is a set of films that try to capture and describe the spirit of generation Z in various ways. The program features a lot of great stories about the body, love, sex, relationships (born and broken up on social media), and stories about how (and if it’s even possible) to patch the gaps between generations. Among them are Sharp Stick by Lena Dunham – a new film from the creator of the cult classic Girls; James Morosini’s I Love My Dad – a story about the traps of Internet love; Tim Sutton's Taurus – a story about the ups and downs (but more about the latter) of a star played by rapper Machine Gun Kelly and TikTok, Boom. by Shalini Kantayyi – an insightful documentary about one of the most popular social media channels.
The program of the 13th AFF includes two musical events: on November 9, 22:00 we invite you to Klubokawiarnia Mleczarnia for a concert of Teonika Rożynek, the author of the music for the film Roving Woman. A day later, at the same time, we recommend a concert at Vertigo Jazz Club - Silent Twins and other songs performed by Zuzanna Wrońska and Igor Nikiforow.
After an entire day of festival impressions, we invite you to the festival club, which this year has found its place at the hospitable Recepcja, in the neon courtyard on Ruska 46c (next to the New Horizons Cinema). Special drinks and musical pleasures will be waiting for all festival-goers. We also encourage you to check the extensive list of recommended places – many dining options, where you’ll be able to take advantage of special offers and discounts (upon presenting a festival pass, accreditation or ticket).
Once again, the US in Progress industry event will take place, during which Polish post-production companies help complete independent American films, producers have the opportunity to learn from and meet potential partners in the Polish film industry. This year, representatives of the Ukrainian film industry were also invited to participate – this is an important step towards strengthening collaboration with the film sector of our neighbors.
On October 10, the modernization of the New Horizons Cinema began – first off, two screening rooms on the first floor of the building are undergoing reconditioning. We assure you, however, that the renovation will not affect the quality of your film experience during the festival.
We invite you to the on-site part of the 13th American Film Festival from November 8-13; online films will be available until November 20 (only in Poland). The full program of the festival, with a schedule of screenings and film descriptions, can be found at americanfilmfestival.pl. Tickets for screenings, as well as individual access and packages of access to films online, will be available for purchase via the festival website from tomorrow, 12:00. Tickets will also be available at the box offices of the New Horizons Cinema from November 8, at 9:00 a.m.