On the strength of the trailers alone, Diego Rougier‘s Sal seems like the most visually striking of all the films playing in the upcoming First Time Fest (Friday, 3.1 through Monday, 3.4). A present-day Chilean western inspired by the widescreen stylings of Sergio Leone, etc. Which isn’t to dismiss the other entries. This is simply the grabbiest.

The Grand Prize winner of this nascent Manhattan-based festival will open theatrically via Cinema Libre Studio “in at least one major city (New York or Los Angeles) with the option for the expansion,” etc. Why not both cities? A movie doesn’t really open theatrically without playing on both coasts.

Several New York-based filmmakers will attend the festival — Darren Aronofsky, Sofia Coppola, Chrstine Vachon, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Nancy Savoca. Aronofsky (now in post-production on Noah) will accept the John Huston Award for Achievement in Cinema at the festival. The Players Club will host the social portion of the festival, but the films will screen at the Loews Village plex on Third Avenue and 11th Street.

FTF founders are Johanna Bennett, the actor and philanthropist daughter of Tony Bennett, and producer Mandy Ward (Palestine Blues).