Last year the Take Two Film Festival was held at Theatre 80 St. Marks. Take Two presented 56 films from 14 countries. They were shown in two hour segments on 3 consecutive days, Friday, Saturday & Sunday, Between the segments were Q&A’s run by talented people who were prominent in the film world.
This is no ordinary theater, as I learned from Lorcan Otway, owner of the theater. It began as a speak-easy during the depression, had a period as a mainstream theater, then showed classic films and now is a hybrid. Its actual foundations go back to the Dutch. Interestingly Take Two had a filmmaker from Amsterdam who showed two documentary films. He won two “Manny” awards, an award that the Take Two Film Festival created, inspired by the manhole cover of New York City as a symbol of taking the lid off of independent film. In researching the festival I came across an article in the New York Times Online, by Sanna Chu (October 24, 2012). In it she quoted the filmmaker from Amsterdam, who now lives in NYC and works as the producer of Take Two: “Making works with the fullest freedom of expression, free from any form of subjection or censorship, is something I am very conscious about,” said Bobby Babak Andishmand, who fled Iran at the age of three. “The Take Two Film Festival accepts works made by a wide variety of filmmakers from around the world who live under different circumstances and need that exposure that they might not be able to enjoy in their own country.” This quote embodies the spirit of the Take Two staff as well as the films that were shown. It’s as if they were saying “welcome to the films of tomorrow.”
It seems that the staff, which was very diverse are all alternative people in some way, with diverse backgrounds in film. This festival was a first showing for many young filmmakers and one could see the joyful satisfaction in their faces.
The festival however got off to a rough start. It was scheduled for November 2nd 2012. Asher Bar Lev, the executive producer was forced to pull the festival when Hurricane Sandy put lower Manhattan in darkness. This event pushed them into high gear and they re-scheduled for April 2013. In addition to the 9 shows in 3 days there was an opening night party, a concert by 3000 Crowns and the Villalobos Brothers played on the Saturday night following the films. The program was so successful that this year the festival will be held at an even larger venue, which is the historical Anthology Film Archives on 2nd Avenue.
Bobby Babak Andishmand, the producer, told me about this year’s lineup: “Again they are showing films from around the world, including an Israeli film, by the Heymann Brothers, called Life in Stills which depicts the delicate and sensitive relationship between a 96 year old grandmother and her 30 year old grandson. Together they run a Photoshop, established by her husband who was the official photographer for the state of Israel and its founding fathers. It shows the relationship between grandmother & grandson as they struggle to keep their store functioning. Another film, Not Anymore, taken through the eyes of a 20 year old female photographer, made by Matthew van Dyke, conveys the story of the Syrian Free Army and their struggle against a regime of tyrants.”
I look very forward to the variety of films and new talent from around the world that Take Two will introduce this year.
– Dario Depiante
Dario Depiante is a freelance writer, artist and entrepreneur. He graduated with a Masters in journalism from Boston University and has worked as a writer for Fox News, CNN and CBS.