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Welcome to director Sam (Shmulik) Firstenberg's web site!

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Artwork by Ralf Krause for the cover of a new book by Marco Siedelmann

The Jess Franko Award Plaque
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The Jess Franko Award Plaque from the 2016 CUTRECON 5 Film Festival

New Short Video from the Festival

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I just came back from Madrid Spain where I was a guest of the CUTRECOM international film festival.

CUTRECOM is a 4 day film festival celebrating the so called “good - bad movies” the "best" of the worst in world cinema. They screen the most hilariously ridiculous flicks ever created, horror, sci-fi, action, and so on. With an enthusiastic dedicated fan base this festival is the most fun film festival one can imagine, also the funniest. There is more laughter during the screenings of these flicks than in any film festival even if those dedicated to comedy only.

Every entry in the festival program can easily rival any good midnight screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”. The loyal audience arriving to the screenings is dressed up and equipped with all kinds of noise making paraphernalia; they go totally wild shouting, screaming and hooting in response to any irrational, ridiculous, or bizarre occurrence on the screen. The reactions, comments, and advice thrown at the characters on the screen are so loud and rowdy that it totally drowns the movie’s dialogue. But it doesn’t matter, since most of the time the lines are so ridiculous or cheesy or both, that it does not make sense anyway.

The word CUTRE in Spanish, which is part of the festival’s name (CutreCon), is a bit hard to translate but in general terms it means “bad in a good way” or “trashy within a humorous context”; it can also equate with loud and vulgar but as a tongue-in-cheek gesture. This year the festival offered screenings of movies such as Turbo Kid, Psycho Cop and Psycho Cop returns, Terminator Fury (from Bollywood India), Who Killed Capitan Alex (from Wakaliwood Uganda), The Search for Weng Weng, Samurai cop 1 and 2, Scanner cop2 and also the offbeat Ninja III: the Domination that I directed 30 years ago.

This is indeed the spirit of the entire festival except for some additional side events with a different tone; for instance the “Documentrash” section featuring documentaries dealing with cult movies such as the soon to be released “Room full of Spoons” (director Rick Harper) that examines the phenomena of the cult movie “The Room” or the “Meet and Greet” section that gives the fans a chance to meet the guests of the festival and participate in a panel discussing  the B-Movies phenomenon with the guests and experts in various aspects of low budget productions. This year’s guests were Mathew Karedas (Samurai Cop himself), Alan Hofmanis (from Wakaliwood Uganda), Rick Harper, and me (Sam Firstenberg)

All in all my participation in the CUTRECON festival was an exhilarating experience and I want to use this opportunity to thank the organizers Carlos Palencia, Pedro Merida, and Paco Fox for inviting me and giving me the opportunely to participate in this B-Movie celebration, and all the other volunteers that helped in running the events and making sure my stay in Madrid was such a pleasant experience. Most rewarding for me was the chance to meet so many fans that remember, admire, and still enjoy the movies I directed years ago, some of them remarkably young. I had a chance to answer questions, autograph posters, shake hands, and be included in many photos with throngs of loyal fans. It tickled me to meet young couple about to get married, admitting to be avid fans of the American Ninja franchise since early childhood. They arrived with a few original vintage posters for me to sign and as we were taking photos together they told me that they already decided to name their two firstborns after the two main characters of American Ninja; Joe (Armstrong) and Curtis (Jackson). Now that’s real hard core fans and a testament to the power of movies, low budget included.

B-Movies are neither forgotten nor vanishing on the sideline of cinema history. True, they are not mainstream Hollywood, but they are well and alive and here to stay.

Since 1980 Sam Firstenberg has been a success in the independent filmmaking field, as a director of feature films. Sam has directed 22 theatrical feature films since completing his graduate studies in film at Loyola Marymount University. His first film, "ONE MORE CHANCE," starring Kirsty Alley, won prizes in major film festivals, and sparked the beginning of his career as a director. Subsequent films have become commercial hits and cult classics, especially the "AMERICAN NINJA" series starring Michael Dudikoff and the breakdance phenomenal “ELECTRIC BOOGALOO”.

Sam Firstenberg has directed films ranging from musical to drama, comedy to action, sci-fi, thrillers and horror. Including special effects, complicated CGI, huge crowd scenes, elaborated chases, sophisticated action sequences, down to delicate dramatic moments. He spent several years as an in house director at Cannon Films, and his films have been distributed by Tristar, MGM, Paramount, and Warner Brothers. Through the years Firstenberg has worked with some of hollywood’s most highly regarded actors; Eric Roberts, Ice-T, Michael Madson, Kirsty Alley, Margaret Avery, Ernie Hudson, Hal Holbrook, Jeff Fahey, Robert Vaughn, Sean Young, Michael Dudikoff, John Rhys-Davies, Marc Dacascos, Grace Jones, Nick Cassevettes, Richard Moll, Dan Heday, Richard Kien and Seymour Cassel.

Born in Poland, grew up in Jerusalem, and obtained his higher education in Los Angeles, where he now resides with his wife and three daughters.

This web site is dedicated to the work of director Sam Firstenberg.
It contains Biography, Filmography, Interviews, Stories, Posters, Photos, News, photo album, and more.
Visit and enjoy.

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