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19th Annual Stony Brook Film Festival: Indie Premieres From U.S. And 15 Countries

Lindsay Andarakis

Juliette Binoche, in "A Thousand Times Goodnight" (Courtesy Photo)

The 19th Annual Stony Brook Film Festival, produced by Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University, will screen ten evenings of the most impressive in new independent film from Thursday, July 17, 2014, through Saturday, July 26, in the Staller Center on the Main Stage Theatre. The trendy summer festival will include three world premieres, and four U.S. Premieres, among the seventeen features and twenty shorts. They will also host question and answers with filmmakers, as well as receptions for the opening and closing nights.

The U.S. Premiere features include, "Back on Track" directed by Kilian Riedhof, a bittersweet drama from Germany about a man well over 70-years-old, training for the Berlin marathon, "Kenau," directed by Maarten Treurniet, a big-screen adventure from the Netherlands set in the 16th century, "Paper Souls," (Les âmes de papier), an eccentric and interesting comedy from France, "The Dark Valley," directed by Andreas Prochaska, with Sam Riley (On the Road), a tale of revenge from Austria and Germany reminiscent of the most well-known American Westerns.

Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau ("Game of Thrones"), star in the closing night film, the New York Premiere of "A Thousand Times Good Night," directed by Erik Poppe, inspired by his own experience as a Reuters war photojournalist. Other actors seen on screen in the Festival include Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Seth Green, and Joe Pantoliano, in the New York Premiere of "The Identical," Daphne Rubin-Vega ("Smash") in "Fall to Rise," Hiam Abass (Lemon Tree) in the New York Premiere of "May in the Summer." Karina Smirnoff ("Dancing with the Stars") and Marsha Mason (The Goodbye Girl) are both anticipated to accompany Ralph Macchio while screening his short film, "Across Grace Alley," opening the film festival along with "Back on Track." Among the short films are three world premieres including, "The Ring Cycle," a film by Erin Cramer with Natalie Dormer ("Game of Thrones," "The Tudors"), "The Showdown," a film by Daniela Schrier Kafshi, and "Sorta' Horny," a film by Don Cherel.

"In addition to receiving hundreds of entries as we send out a Call for Entries with a 'no entry fee,' and working with many U.S. sales agents and distributors, we have also established good relationships with foreign sales agents and film distributors. Films Distribution, Eye International (Holland Films), Beta Cinema, eOne Films International, Media Luna, and Global Screen have been pivotal in securing an exciting and diverse program. Along with films from the U.S., the international slate of features, documentaries and shorts will take audiences to Germany, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Ireland, Israel, Iraq, France, Netherlands, Singapore, Italy, Spain, Austria, Argentina, and Jordan," said Alan Inkles, the founder and director of the Stony Brook Film Festival.

Tiffany Bartok, the producer of "Fall to Rise," as well as the short film, "The Showdown," returns to the festival this year with "Fall to Rise" writer and director Jayce Bartok. "In this carefully curated, extremely selective festival, all filmmakers who screen their film at Stony Brook feel like winners. With the intense competition to secure a spot on the program, it is an honor to screen at Stony Brook once again. We have been in the theater with close to 1,000 appreciative filmgoers and it's an awesome experience," noted Jayce Bartok. Tiffany Bartok's short film, "Little Pumpkin" was screened at a festival in the past, and Jayce Bartok wrote and starred in Mary Stuart Masterson's "The Cake Eaters," which premiered at Stony Brook's 2008 Film Festival.

East coast premieres include, "Maïna," directed by Michel Poulette, a historical feature from Canada featured in Innu, Inuit, and English, "Canopy," directed by Aaron Wilson, a practically wordless drama set in wartime in 1942, and "The Green Prince," directed by Nada Schirman, a documentary about a top Hamas leader's son who is a spy for Israel.

New York premieres include, "The Identical," directed by Dustin Marcellino, with Blake Rayne, Ashley Judd, Ray Liotta, Seth Green, and Joe Pantoliano, a rock and roll tale about identical twins that were separated at birth; "45 RPM," directed by Juli Jackson, a charismatic road movie, "My Sweet Pepper Land," directed by Hiner Saleem from Iraq, France and Germany, an absorbing drama set in a remote village at the edge of Kurdistan, "Thesis on a Homicide," directed by Hernán Goldfrid, from Argentina and Spain, a murder-movie thriller, "A Five Star Life," directed by Maria Sole Tognazzi, a classy drama from Italy about a luxury hotel inspector and "May in the Summer," directed by Cherien Dabis, who also plays the leading role of May, a Jordanian woman who lives in New York and goes back home to plan her wedding.

The expected guests for opening night include the cast and filmmaker for the short film, "Across Grace Alley," Ralph Macchio. Macchio is a Long Island native, who wrote and directed, "Across Grace Alley." Karina Smirnoff, the dancer who was partnered with him on the television show, "Dancing with the Stars," makes her acting debut in "Across Grace Alley" and is also expected to attend opening night. In addition, actors, Marsha Mason (The Goodbye Girl) and newcomer, Ben Hyland are also expected to attend the screening on the opening night. Ralph Macchio is distinguished for his role in "The Karate Kid," which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The Art of the Short, is a special program that will bring John Salcido and Michael Nathanson to Stony Brook on Friday, July 25th to present a shared body of award-winning work, beginning with a program of three acclaimed shorts - from Michael's starring role in the Oscar-nominated "Time Freak" (directed by Andrew Bowler), through John Salcido's audience favorite "Cataplexy," to the darkly funny and daring "This Is Ellen," all of which have been previously shown at the Stony Brook Film Festival. The event will conclude with the East Coast premiere of their latest collaboration, "Tribute," a dark comedy that explores loss, love and obsession.

Salcido and Nathanson will discuss the creative process of each film and how the meeting of two successful filmmaking teams, brought together through the Stony Brook Film Festival, resulted in the creation of "Tribute," their most impressive work to date.

Funded by Stony Brook as well as executive producer and Stony Brook University alumni, Joe Campolo along with his partner Joe Zepf, "Tribute" represents the evolution of two talented filmmakers who became one team, blending their comic voices to create an astonishing and daring new film.

The closing night awards will be announced by John Anderson, a film critic, at a reception following the screening of "A Thousand Times Good Night," starring Juliette Binoche and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau ("Game of Thrones"), along with young newcomer, Lauryn Canny.

Additional features include, "Fall to Rise," a film about a principal dancer's injury forcing her out of her dance company, written and directed by Jayce Bartok; "Life's a Breeze," a discordant comedy from Ireland about a search for one family's treasure, written and directed by Lance Daly; "Hanna's Journey," a film from Israel and Germany, directed by Julia von Heinz, about a German business woman's trip to Israel as a volunteer.

The presenting sponsors generously supporting the Stony Brook Film Festival are, Applied DNA Sciences (James A. Hayward), Campolo, Middleton & McCormick LLP, HBO, Suffolk County, Teachers Federal Credit Union, The Village Voice and WALK 97.5 Radio. Keeping with tradition, there was no entry fee to submit a film for consideration in 2014 film festival, thanks to the sponsors' support of the festival.

The Staller Center for the Arts, Stony Brook University's cultural showplace, has been the home of the Stony Brook Film Festival every summer since its beginnings. The Staller Center offers over 200 performances annually in dance, music, art, theatre, and film from around the world each season.

For more information, contact Julie Rulon Greene at, julie.greene@stonybrook.edu or (631) 632-7233

Film passes good for entry to all films are on sale for $85 and entitle pass holders to enter the theater first, and also enjoy other perks. Single tickets will be on sale Monday, July 7, and are subject to availability. General admission is $10, seniors $8, students $5.

For more program information visit www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com/. The Staller Center Box Office is open Monday to Saturday from, 12:00 p.m. to 6 p.m., at (631) 632-ARTS [2787], with sales available online anytime.

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