New Film Festival To Focus on First-Time Filmmakers

The four-day event, which will be held in New York City in March, will also hand out the first-ever John Huston Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Cinema.

First Time Fest, a new film festival, founded by Johanna Bennett and Mandy Ward, hopes to attract first-time filmmakers by offering a grand prize that includes the offer of theatrical distribution arranged through a partnership between the festival and Cinema Libre Studio.

The inaugural event, which will run from March 1-4, 2013 in New York City, is currently seeking submissions. The fest will take place at the Players Club and Loews Village VII. Their mission, the festival organizers said, is “to discover and present the next generation of great cinema by first-time screenwriters, producers, directors, editors, composers and cinematographers.”

The festival plans to screen the work of 12 finalists, selected from among the submissions, and a panel of five jurors will select the grand prize winner. The jurors will consist of four industry professional and a fifth vote that will be decided by 120 audience members at the festival, who will be selected by lottery. The festival also will offer prizes for outstanding direction, screenplay, cinematography, editing and score.

Additionally, First Time Fest and the Players Club will present the first John Huston Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Cinema to “an individual who has made s significant contribution to the art of cinema, and whose presence in our community has offered leadership and inspiration to other cinema artists.”

Bennett is a philanthropist and actor as well as the daughter of singer Tony Bennett and Ward has worked in the film industry in various capacities, serving as a producer on such documentaries as Pennhurst and We Will Not Die Like Dogs. Mitch Levine, CEO of The Film Festival Group, is serving as advisor and consultant to the team. David Schwartz, the artistic director and head curator of Museum of the Moving Image, will serve as the festival’s director of programming.