By William Wolf


In its 3rd annual edition, SR—The Socially Relevant Film Festival New York, spotlights an array of world problems with an international slate of films. They are on view (March 14-20, 2016) at the Bow-Tie Cinemas, 260 West 23rd Street.

There is a mix of feature films and documentaries, in addition to panel discussions, filmmaker interviews and receptions, all with the intention on focusing on selections that address social issues. The founding artistic director of the non-profit festival is Nora Armani, a passionate believer in the importance of the festival’s mission.

For example, one of the forceful features is the New York premiere of a film partially set in Greece, “Caged No More,” directed by Lisa Arnold. It is an drama about the problem of kidnapping girls who are sold into prostitution. What’s especially interesting about this tale is that it isn’t centered on girls from third world countries, but on two white teenagers from New Orleans, with involvement by the wealthy and powerful.

The film builds melodramatically, and a Cajun woman plunges into the effort to rescue her two disappeared goddaughters. The action moves to Greece, where the girls have been put in a brothel and there is an auction involving them, other captives and a battle royal to free them.

Although the film is a feature, it takes on a documentary tone, as notables comment at the end and urge the public to join the battles against human trafficking. It reflects a pattern of such films trying to inspire change.

Among other narrative features, is “Before Spring,” directed by Ahmed Atef, which deals with the Egyptian revolution, and “Dance Iranian Style,” directed by Farshad Aria, taking on refugee problems via a tale about a young Iranian woman who is an illegal in Amsterdam. “I Am Not from Barcelona,” a film by Stéphane Leclercq, plunges into the realm of student activism.

There is a vast inclusion of documentaries, ranging from examination of the Armenian genocide (“Who Killed the Armenians?”) to a LGBTQ burlesque show (“The Sex Temple”)

Sr--Socially Relevant Film Festival New York is certainly ambitious. Posted March 17, 2016.


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