This May, Palace Cinemas once again are bringing the best of American independent film to Australian screens with American Essentials. Twenty films make their Australian premiere—many hot on the heels of their world premieres at A-list festivals around the world—as the three-week festival tours five cities, celebrating the latest indie treasures in narrative feature and documentary, together with newly restored American classics.

Straddling styles from thriller to melodrama, comedy to body horror, symphonic documentary to visual art, American Essentials’ world-class program of thirty-one films curated by Artistic Director Richard Sowada reflects the remarkable breadth of contemporary independent cinema produced in the US.

Richard Sowada: “The 2017 American Essentials program showcases the vitality and incredible talent of some of the most exciting young directors today, such as Kentucker Audley & Albert Birney (Sylvio), Kogonada (Columbus) and Xander Robin (Are We Not Cats). These directors strive to present new perspectives and approaches, while honouring the rich traditions of American storytelling.

“These are bold works by filmmakers who are unquestionably voices we’ll hear well into the future – films that take no prisoners in their analysis of the current political environment, and films that dazzle in their capacity to entertain audiences of all shapes, sizes, tastes and ages.”

Highlights of the fifteen new American Essentials narrative features include Opening Night film, 20th Century Women, Oscar-winning director Mike Mills’ moving tale of a mother doing her best to bring up a teenage son starring Annette Bening and Greta Gerwig; Are We Not Cats, a deliciously imaginative debut of romantic magical realism; Walking Out, an incredible wilderness drama; the lean and mean thriller Detour, and Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut, an adaptation of Philip Roth’s sprawling epic American Pastoral.

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