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BAFF AWARD WINNING ALUMNI AND INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARD NOMINEE, “OWL AND THE SPARROW” RELEASED THEATRICALLY NATIONWIDE AND BAFF ALUMNI DOC “BEYOND WISEGUYS: ITALIAN AMERICANS AND THE MOVIES” NOW AVAILABLE ON HOME VIDEO

June 1, 2009

The Big Apple Film Festival is proud to announce that the 2007 BAFF winner for Best Feature Film, “Owl and the Sparrow”, directed by Stephane Gauger, has been released theatrically nationwide. The film had its world premiere at the Rotterdam Film Festival, went on to win the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and continued a successful festival run, which included its New York City premiere at the 2007 BAFF, where it was awarded Best Feature Film. The film was later nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.

“Combining arthouse lensing with a sweet story sure to make auds feel warm inside, fledgling helmer Stephane Gauger comes up with an appealing balancing act to please cinephiles and mainstreamers alike”

-Variety.com

“A quietly affecting fairy tale”

-Los Angeles Times

“a charming contemporary drama”

-Filmmaker Magazine “25 New Faces of Independent Film”

A beautiful flight attendant looking for love. A lonely zookeeper hiding within his animal kingdom from a changing society. A little orphan girl selling roses on the streets who relies on the kindness of strangers to survive. It's modern-day Saigon, where eight million people are just trying to keep up with the pace. Thuy, a scrappy ten year who old who lives on the outskirts of the city, has no choice in life but to work in her uncle's bamboo factory. That is, until she packs her bags to run away into the city. Now forced to survive on her own, she first sells postcards then flowers on the streets. Lan, the flight attendant, arrives at Ho Chi Minh airport on a five day layover, checking into the same family-run hotel every week. The hotel girls wonder why she's alone, but Lan only tells them that she's just hard to understand. She doesn't tell them that she's having a secret affair with the airline pilot. Hai, a zookeeper living on the park grounds in a shack, is nursing a broken heart after his fiancé left him. He lives only for his animals now, until the zoo director tells him that his beloved elephant will soon be shipped off to an Indian zoo. In four days, the young runaway will play matchmaker to these lonely hearts in hopes of forming a surrogate family. The only thing that might stop her are city authorities who want her in an orphanage and an overbearing uncle tracking her down in the big city.


Additionally, the Big Apple Film Festival is proud to announce that alumni documentary “Beyond Wiseguys: Italian Americans and the Movies” is now available on DVD through Seventh Art Releasing.

Today, Italian American film artists are well represented in Hollywood and the independent film community, shaping the art and craft of moviemaking in America and creating box office hits all over the world.

BEYOND WISEGUYS shows how Italian Americans transformed themselves from “outsiders” – stereotyped by the Hollywood establishment as mobsters – into industry insiders and a creative force to be reckoned with.  Using a mosaic of interviews with well-known contemporary filmmakers like  Martin Scorcese, Spike Lee, Marisa Tomei,  Chazz Palminteri, Stanley Tucci, Susan Sarandon, Jack Valenti, David Chase, Ben Gazzara, Isabella Rossellini and others, the documentary highlights the ways in which these filmmakers use their heritage to positively shape the art and craft of American cinema.

Told against the backdrop of Hollywood history, the documentary is lavishly punctuated with film clips, stills and family photos – many supplied by the interviewees themselves.  “It’s impossible to imagine American film history without Frank Capra, Francis Cord Coppola or Martin Scorsese,” says Fred Gardaphe, Chairman of the Italian American Studies Program at SUNY Stony Brook.  “It’s also hard to separate the popular image of Italian Americans from the goombas that crowd many of Hollywood’s most successful films.” Beyond Wiseguys explores the history of the Italian-as-gangster stereotype from the silent era, the advent of the “talkies,” through groundbreaking films like The Godfather and the acclaimed television series The Sopranos.

“It’s an entertaining, provocative film,” says Executive Producer Turturro, “interesting not only to America’s 20 million Italian Americans but to movie lovers all over the country.” BEYOND WISEGUYS:  Italian Americans & The Movies is a co-production of Beachcomber Films and Pacific Street Films.  The film runs approximately one hour.

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