NEW FRONTIER LINEUP ANNOUNCED 2020 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

32 Projects from 21 Countries, Across Multiple New Venues

 

New frontiers 2020
Enter a captionSolastalgia, photo by Marine Bigourie; Hypha, courtesy of Sundance Institute; Anti-Gone, courtesy of Sundance Institute; Dance Trail, courtesy of Sundance Institute; The Book of Distance, courtesy of Sundance Institute; Spaced Out, courtesy of Sundance Institute.

(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) Park City, UT — Sundance Institute spotlights work at the dynamic crossroads of film, art and technology with the New Frontier selections for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, announced today. This curated collection of cutting-edge independent and experimental media works are by creators who are pushing artistic innovation across mediums that include rocket travel, biotech, facial recognition, mixed reality (MR), smartphone AR, underwater VR, game engines, big data, AI, the human archive, and innovative uses of SMS text & iPhone video capture. Programmers assembled a global slate of work from a mix of invitations and submissions to an open call for work earlier this year.

The 2020 edition of New Frontier returns to two dedicated venue spaces: New Frontier at The Ray and New Frontier Central, each of which host a variety of media installations, a VR Cinema, and panel discussions. New this year, New Frontier Central also houses the Biodigital Theatre, a cutting-edge presentation space that will feature a rotating schedule of large scale VR theatrical works including a feature-length livestream game telecast. Once again, New Frontier Central will feature lounge space for credential holders to meet and relax before and after experiencing the New Frontier program. New Frontier also breaks out into the wild with satellite projects in the pool at Festival Headquarters, AR dances to be discovered in various locations around Park City, and a nationwide “fugitive newscast” accessed at various sites around the festival, as well as at 11 art house theatres across the U.S., including The Belcourt Theatre (Nashville, Tenn.); Cinema Detroit; The Loft Cinema (Tucson, Arizona); Michigan Theater (Ann Arbor, Michigan); The Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, Texas), Nitehawk Cinema (Brooklyn, New York), Northwest Film Forum (Seattle, Washington), O Cinema (Miami, Florida), Parkway Theatre (Baltimore, Maryland), The State Theatre (Ann Arbor, Michigan) and Texas Theatre (Dallas, Texas).

robert redford
Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute (Photo by: Larry Gleeson)

Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, said, “Technology infuses most aspects of modern life — and is evolving at a historic pace. The New Frontier artists that we showcase are taking completely fresh and thoughtful approaches to how the newest technological formats engage with the ancient art of storytelling.”

Shari Frilot
Shari Frilot, courtesy of Sundance photos

Shari Frilot, Chief Curator, New Frontier, said “Powerful technologies now enable experiences that capture, replicate, and replace “the real.” But it is even more special when the human touch converges with technology, we are provoked to reach beyond what we know to be real and enter into unfamiliar terrain. This transcendence can shift who we believe ourselves to be, where our bodies begin and end, what we are to each other, and who we are ultimately capable of being. The 2020 edition of New Frontier stares down the fear of losing our neighborhoods, and losing ourselves, and reminds us that the future is now — and because the future is now, the future can be ours.”

 

With these additions, the 2020 Sundance Film Festival Program features 241 works, 44% are directed or led by one or more women, 35% were directed or led by one or more artists of color, and 19% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQ+. The 32 projects announced today include work from 21 countries, and 31% are directed or led by one or more women, 44% are directed or led by one or more artists of color, and 31% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQ+. 4 were supported by Sundance Institute in development, whether through direct granting or residency Labs.

New Frontier alumni include Doug Aitken, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Chris Milk, Nonny de la Peña, Pipilotti Rist and Jennifer Steinkamp. The Institute’s support extends well beyond its curated slate of Festival projects, and includes the annual New Frontier Story Lab, which offers mentorship and development opportunities for new media storytellers, and the Future of Culture Initiative, an action plan that includes partnerships with Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University in order to implement key recommendations from a two-year global field scan that analyzed strategies for improving equity and inclusion in emerging media. The Sundance Institute New Frontier Program is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Cindy Harrell Horn and Alan Horn, Dell Technologies, Google Empathy Lab, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Oculus from Facebook, Unity Technologies, The Walt Disney Company, YouTube VR, and Adobe.

In addition to the New Frontier program announced today, films across all categories, including works in the Shorts, Special Events and Indie Episodic sections, have been announced and are listed at sundance.org/festival.

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival New Frontier slate:

FILMS AND PERFORMANCES

BLKNWS / U.S.A. (Director: Kahlil Joseph, Screenwriters: Sheba Anyanwu, Lee Harrison, Darol Kae, Producers: Onye Anyanwu, Kahlil Joseph) — An ongoing art project that blurs the lines between art, journalism, entrepreneurship, and cultural critique, appropriating the newsreel format as an opportunity to reimagine the contemporary cinematic experience, mixing an element of seriousness with a lighthearted twist on what news can be. Cast: Helen Molesworth, Alzo Slade, Amandla Stenberg, Trifari Williams. BLKNWS will also screen at 11 art house theatres around the country.

Infinitely Yours / U.S.A. (Director: Miwa Matreyek) ― A live performance at the intersection of cinema and theater exploring what it means to be living in the Anthropocene and the time of climate crisis. A kaleidoscopic meditation that is an emotionally impactful and embodied illustration of news headlines we see everyday.

A Machine for Viewing / United Kingdom, Australia (Directors: Oscar Raby, Richard Misek, Charlie Shackleton, Producers: Richard Misek, Oscar Raby) ― A unique three-episode hybrid of real-time VR experience, live performance and video essay in which three moving-image makers explore how we now watch films by putting various ‘machines for viewing,’ including cinema and virtual reality, face to face.

małni – towards the ocean, towards the shore / U.S.A. (Director, screenwriter and producer: Sky Hopinka) — An experimental look at the origin of the death myth of the Chinookan people in the Pacific Northwest, following two people as they navigate their own relationships to the spirit world and a place in between life and death. Cast: Jordan Mercier, Sweetwater Sahme. World Premiere

Sandlines, the Story of History / Iraq (Director, screenwriter and producer: Francis Alÿs) — The children of a mountain village near Mosul re-enact a century of Iraqi history, from the secret Sykes-Picot agreement in 1916 to the realm of terror imposed by the Islamic State in 2016. The children revisit their past to understand their present. World Premiere

Vitalina Varela / Portugal (Director and screenwriter: Pedro Costa, Producer: Abel Ribiero Chaves) — Vitalina Varela, a 55-year-old, Cape Verdean, arrives in Lisbon three days after her husband’s funeral. She’s been waiting for her plane ticket for more than 25 years. Cast: Vitalina Varela, Ventura.

EXHIBITIONS

All Kinds of Limbo / United Kingdom (Lead Artists: Toby Coffey, Raffy Bushman, Nubiya Brandon) — The National Theatre of Great Britain’s communal musical journey reflecting the influence of West Indian culture on the UK’s music scene across the genres of reggae, grime, classical, and calypso. Immersive technologies, the ceremony of live performance and the craft of theatrical staging bring audiences into a VR performance space. Cast: Nubiya Brandon.

ANIMALIA SUM / Germany, Brazil, Iceland (Lead Artists: Bianca Kennedy, Felix Kraus) ― I am animals. I eat animals. A duality explored in a virtual reality experience in which insects will be the future’s main food supply.

Anti-Gone / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Theo Triantafyllidis, Key Collaborators: Connor Willumsen, Matthew Doyle) ― In a post-climate change world, environmental catastrophe has become normalized. Cities are sunken, yet the vestiges of late-capitalist culture live on, clinging like barnacles to the ruins of civilization. Spyda and Lynxa are a couple navigating this world, gliding frictionlessly from shopping to movies to psychedelic drugs. Cast: Lindsey Normington, Zana Gankhuyag, Matthew Doyle.

Atomu / France, Kenya, U.S.A., United Kingdom (Lead Artists: Shariffa Ali, Yetunde Dada, Key Collaborators: Antoine Cayrol, Rafael Pavon, Arnaud Colinart, Opeyemi Olukemi, Annick Jakobowicz, Cassie Kinoshi, Toby Coffey, Steve Jelly, Simon Windsor) ― Go inside the cyclical center of a Kikuyu Tribal Myth from Kenya, where man may become woman and woman may become man. Through virtual reality, dance and music, a sacred space is created to explore many versions of yourself. Cast: Cassie Kinoshi, Alexander Whitley, Clément Chériot, Amaury La Burthe.

The Book of Distance / Canada (Lead Artist: Randall Okita, Key Collaborators: David Oppenheim, Sam Javanrouh, Emma Burkeitt, Luke Ruminski) ― In 1935, Yonezo Okita left his home in Hiroshima, Japan for Canada. Then war and racism changed everything. Three generations later his grandson leads us on an interactive pilgrimage through an emotional geography of immigration and family to recover what was lost.

Breathe / Sweden, Canada, U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Diego Galafassi, Key Collaborators: Jess Engel, Myriam Achard, Stephen Mangiat)  — A mixed-reality application that uses body movement and breathing to immerse participants in the story of air. Recast the ordinary experience of breathing as an immediate, direct link to a complex living world. We are alive to a planet that is alive to us.

Chomsky vs. Chomsky: First Encounter / Canada, Germany (Lead Artist: Sandra Rodriguez, Key Collaborators: Michael Burk, Cindy Bisho, Johannes Helberger) ― A prologue to a timely conversation on AI’s biggest promises and pitfalls. Lured by the possibility of emulating one of today’s most famous minds, we meet and engage with CHOMSKY_AI, an entity under construction, evolving from the arsenal of digital traces professor Noam Chomsky has left behind. Cast: Sandra Rodriguez, Michael Burk, Cindy Bishop, Johannes Helberger, Moov.AI.

Dance Trail / Switzerland (Lead Artists: Gilles Jobin, Camilo De Martino, Tristan Siodlak, Susana Panades Diaz, Key Collaborators: Laurent Rime, Léo Thiémard) ― A dance piece in augmented reality enabling users to invite virtual dancers into our world. Site-specific and mobile, the app allows to see dance sequences outdoor and indoor during the Festival. Users can place dancers anywhere in the world and share snapshots and videos. Cast: Susana Panadés Diaz, Victoria Chiu, Maelle Deral, Diya Naidu, Tidiani N’diaye, Gilles Jobin.

The Electronic Diaries of Lynn Hershman Leeson / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Lynn Hershman Leeson) ― In 1984, after teaching herself how to use a video camera, Lynn Hershman Leeson sat down in front of it and began to talk and for 40 years developed a sly, profound and raw confessional mediated expression for an unknown audience that led towards personal evolution and survival. Cast: Lynn Hershman Leeson, Dr. George Church, Eleanor Coppola, Dr. Caleb Webber, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, Dr. Anthony Atala.

Hypha / Chile (Lead Artist: Natalia Cabrera, Key Collaborators: Sebastian Gonzalez, Juan Ferrer) ― An immersive virtual reality journey to heal the Earth–by becoming a mushroom. Experience the life cycle of a fungus, and comprehend the importance of the fungi kingdom, Earth’s main bioremediation agent. Cast: Trinidad Piriz.

Living Distance / China, U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Xin Liu, Key Collaborators: Qinya (Jenny) Guo, Gershon Dublon, Reese Donohue) ― A fantasy and a mission, in which a wisdom tooth is sent to outer space and back down to Earth again. Carried by a crystalline robotic sculpture called EBIFA, the tooth becomes a newborn entity in outer space and tells the story of a person in this universe.

Metamorphic / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Matthew Niederhauser, Wesley Allsbrook, Eli Zananiri, John Fitzgerald, Key Collaborators: Tim Fain, Siyuan Qiu) In this social VR experience, the body becomes a vehicle for expression within majestically drawn worlds. Participants explore the radical possibility of effortless transformation as movement and play alter appearances and surroundings.

My Trip / United Kingdom (Lead Artist: Bjarne Melgaard) ― Simulating the experience of a DMT trip, this work draws on new psychedelia, black metal music and internet paranoia to question existential concerns such as procreation and overpopulation. A virtual retrospective, travel with characters such as Octo and Lightbulb Man through the dark web to unknown realms.

Persuasion Machines / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Karim Amer, Guvenc Ozel, Key Collaborators: Jess Engel, , Geralyn White Dreyfous, Marni Grossman) ― How are your likes, shares, selfies, and devices being used against you? By making the invisible world of data visible, this experience will show you how your digital footprint is shaping your reality.

Scarecrow / Korea (Lead Artists: Jihyun Jung, Sngmoo Lee, Taewan Jeong, Cooper Yoo, Key Collaborators: Chungyean Cho, Sanghun Heo, Yeonjee Kim) ― A user walks into a surreal Sisyphean world of cursed artists to break the spell. Cast: Seongtae Kim, Hyoungjun Kwon, Myungseok Chae, Donggen Shin.

Solastalgia / France (Lead Artists: Antoine Viviani, Pierre-Alain Giraud, Key Collaborators: Gabríela Friðriksdóttir, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Nicolas Becker) A mixed-reality installation set in a mysterious future exploring the surface of a planet that has become uninhabitable. The last generations of humans are living as holograms, repeating the same scenes over and over again. What secret does this strange paradise contain? Cast: Mehdi Belhaj Kacem, Audrey Bonnet, Anne Brochet, Nancy Huston, Arthur Nauzyciel, Corine Sombrun.

Spaced Out / France (Lead Artist: Pyaré, Key Collaborators: Sutu, Mourad Bennacer, Ando Shah, Stephen Greenwood, Atlas Roufas) ― An underwater VR experience transports you aboard a voyage from the Earth to the moon, as well as within, led by the audio conversations of the Apollo 11 mission. Using special underwater VR goggles and a snorkel, the experience becomes a space simulation immersing all of the senses.

Still Here / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Zahra Rasool, Sarah Springer, Key Collaborators: Naima Ramos-Chapman, Carvell Wallace, Viktorija Mickute, Maria Fernanda Lauret) ― An immersive, multimedia installation exploring incarceration, erasure and gentrification through the lens of one woman who returns to Harlem after 15 years in prison. The use of interactive VR and AR technologies brings to life this heartfelt story about the reclaiming of space and identity in a changing black community. Cast: LeAsha Julius, Keith Buxton, Marion Green, James Brown-Orleans, Jeorge Watson, Crystal Arnette.

VR CINEMA

After the Fallout / Switzerland, U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Sam Wolson, Dominic Nahr) — In March 2011, an earthquake caused a tsunami and a meltdown at the Daiichi nuclear power plant. The devastating consequences filled the communities in Fukushima with fear of the intangible and split Japan in a distinct before and after.

Azibuye – The Occupation / South Africa (Lead Artists: Dylan Valley, Caitlin Robinson, Stephen Abbott, Key Collaborators: Ingrid Kopp, Steven Markovitz) ― When Masello and Evan, two homeless black artist/activists, break into an abandoned mansion in an affluent part of Johannesburg, they proclaim their occupation to be an artistic and political act in defiance of inequalities in land ownership in South Africa. Cast: Masello Motana, Evan Abrahamse.

Bembé / Cuba (Lead Artists: Marcos Louit, Patricia Diaz, Key Collaborators: Andy Ruiz, Alain López, Ernesto Collinet) ― Bembé is a Cuban tradition that encompasses elements of both Christianity and the African Yoruba, where the souls of dead slaves come to Earth and family, friends, and neighbors take part in a celebration lasting up to 7 days. Cast: Ernesto Collinet, Kalina Collinet, Katyleidy Collinet.

Flowers & a Switchblade / U.S.A. (Lead Artists: Nic Koller, Weston Morgan, Key Collaborators: Candice Lee, Bridget Peck) ― An everyday scene–a real-life conversation in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park–collaged together from hundreds of videos to form a fractured, hyper-stimulating, 360° Cubist world.

Go / Switzerland (Lead Artists: Sandro Zollinger, Roman Vital, Klaus Merz, Key Collaborator: Thomas Gassmann) ― Searching for stability in his life, Peter Thaler sets out on a hike in the Swiss mountains, from which he will never return. An unprecedented symbiosis of literature and virtual reality, telling a story of everyday and final farewells, and opening the door to eternity a tiny crack. Cast: Klaus Merz, Niramy Pathmanathan, Robert Vital, Regula Stüssi.

Hominidae / U.S.A. (Lead Artist: Brian Andrews, Key Collaborators: Brian Ferguson, Robert Steel, Kahra Scott-James) ― Against a landscape of X-ray imagery and wild anatomical reimagination, a mother and her children struggle for survival. This experience follows an Arachnid Hominid, an intelligent creature with human and spider physiology, from the birth of her children to her premature death in the teeth of her prey. Cast: Phyllis Griffin, Luis Mora, Emily Weems, Kidjie Boyer, Austin Daly, Oliver Angus.

tx-reverse 360° / Austria, Germany (Lead Artists: Martin Reinhart, Virgil Widrich, Key Collaborator: Siegfried Friedrich) ― What is behind the cinema screen? What if the auditorium dissolves and with it the familiar laws of cinema itself? As reality and cinema collide, viewers are drawn into a vortex where the familiar order of space and time seems to be suspended.

VR Free / Italy (Lead Artist: Milad Tangshir, Key Collaborators: Vito Martinelli, Stefano Sburlati) ― Exploring the nature of incarceration spaces by portraying slices of life inside a prison in Turin, Italy. The film also captures the reaction of several inmates during brief encounters with immersive videos of life outside of prison. Cast: Michele Romano, Albert Asllanaj, Cristian De Bonis.

NEW FRONTIER SHORTS

E-Ticket / Hong Kong, U.S.A. (Director: Simon Liu) — A frantic (re)cataloguing of a personal archive and 16,000 splices in the making. 35mm frames are obsessively rearranged in evolving-disorienting patterns, as a Dante’s Inferno for the streaming age emerges, illustrating freedom of movement for the modern cloud.

Guisado on Sunset / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Terence Nance) — Missed connection regret at that one late-night spot–the kind you keep playing back in your head but not quite ever remembering right, until it starts to look like something else. International Premiere

How Did We Get Here? / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michelle Miles) — A visual exploration of progressive atrophy. A study in how microscopic changes can go unnoticed, but amass over time. Even as these changes become drastic, we sometimes fail to realize anything has happened at all. World Premiere

Meridian / U.S.A., Italy (Director and screenwriter: Calum Walter) — Footage transmitted by the last unit in a fleet of autonomous machines sent to deliver an emergency vaccine. The film follows the machine before its disappearance, tracing a path that seems to stray further and further from its objective.

Narcissister Breast Work / U.S.A. (Director: Narcissister) — Focusing on the exercise by women of their right to bare their breasts in public, Narcissister Breast Work aims to investigate – and expose – how prohibitions on female toplessness are grounded in fear of, and desire to control, the female body. World Premiere

Pattaki / Cuba (Director: Everlane Moraes, Screenwriter: Tatiana Monge Herrera) — In the dense night, when the moon rises, those who live in a monotonous daily life without water are hypnotized by the powers of Yemaya, the goddess of the sea. U.S. Premiere

While I’m Still Breathing (Tandis Que Je Respire Encore) / France (Directors: Laure Giappiconi, Elisa Monteil, La Fille Renne, Screenwriter: Laure Giappiconi) — The blurred portrayal of a young woman as she moves through three steps of her sexuality. North American Premiere

The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Eighth Grade, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2020 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire; AT&T; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Amazon Studios, DIRECTV, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Southwest Airlines®, Stella Artois®, WarnerMedia; Sustaining Sponsors – Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, Fire TV, GEICO, High West Distillery, Hulu, IMDbPro, Lyft, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Variety, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Partner seal at their venues at the Festival. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as The Farewell, Late Night, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Little Miss Sunshine, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, State of the Union, Indecent, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Sundance Film Festival 2020

(Source: Sundance news release)

 

 

 

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2020 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Hosts The World Premiere Of Native Narrative Short Little Chief

Posted by Larry Gleeson

(Park City, UT) – December 10, 2019. Little Chief, a narrative short film directed by Indigenous filmmaker Erica Tremblay (Seneca-Cayuga), will hold its world premiere as part of the Shorts Selection at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. The story stars an Indigenous cast, including Lily Gladstone (Certain Women, Billions), and was produced through the Sundance Institute Native Filmmakers Lab last year.

SNEAK PREVIEW

Filmed with quiet resilience and against the bleak landscape of a rural reservation in Oklahoma, Little Chief tells the story of Sharon, an exhausted school teacher struggling to keep her head and her school above water. Her student, Bear, is having a particularly hard time enduring challenges both at home and in the classroom. As she watches Bear unravel, Sharon is ultimately forced to accept her role as an imperfect role model, the unlikely matriarch her community needs. Bear becomes desperate to escape it all, and Sharon is left chasing a little boy who is running to nowhere.

Tremblay
Erica Tremblay

“Building off of my experience growing up in Oklahoma and drawing from the true stories of my mother who is a Native school teacher, Little Chief tells a story of contemporary Native America,” says writer-director Erica Tremblay.  “Within the context of national conversations about race, poverty, and education, Little Chief offers a unique perspective. How do colonized cultures grapple with educating their youth in culturally-aware ways? What are the burdens on the next generation, and how are these children emotionally coping with a grim reality that they neither chose nor control? I hope to provide insight into these questions through this work.” 

Erica Tremblay (Seneca-Cayuga) is a filmmaker and activist currently studying her Indigenous language on the Six Nations reservation in Ontario, Canada. Her work has been featured on PBS, CNN, and IFC. Erica’s films explore topics including restorative justice and issues impacting the two-spirit community. She has worked with many grassroots organizations, including the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center and the Healing Native Hearts Coalition. Erica was recently honored as a 40 Under 40 Native American by the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) and was a 2018 Sundance Native Filmmakers Lab Fellow.

Little Chief is screening several times during the festival before Patricia Vidal Delgado’s feature  film La Leyenda Negra. Director Erica Tremblay, producer Kasia Chmielinski, picture editor Robert Grigsby Wilson and production manager Dylan Brodie will be attending each presentation.

5 SCREENINGS:

Monday, January 27, 5:30 p.m.

Egyptian Theatre, Park City, UT

Wednesday, January 29, 8:30 a.m.

The MARC Theatre, Park City, UT

Thursday, January 30, 4:00 p.m.

Holiday Village Cinema 4, Park City, UT

Friday, January 31, 9:00 p.m.

Temple Theatre, Park City, UT

Saturday, February 1, 3:00 p.m.

Broadway Centre Cinema 6, Salt Lake City, UT

 

Starring Lily Gladstone as Sharon, Julian Ballentyne as Bear; Writer, Director, Producer Erica Tremblay; Supervising Producer Sterlin Harjo; Producers Deidre Backs, Kasia Chmielinski; Cinematographer Marshall Stief; Editor Robert Grigsby Wilson.

Sundance Film Festival 2020

(Source: Sundance press release)

 

 

2020 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: 118 FEATURE FILMS ANNOUNCED

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Drawn From a Record High of 15,100 Submissions Across The Program, Including 3,853 Features, Selected Films Represent 27 Countries

 

Sundance 2020
Once Upon A Time in Venezuela, photo by John Marquez; The Mountains Are a Dream That Call to Me, photo by Jake Magee; Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets, courtesy of Sundance Institute; Beast Beast, photo by Kristian Zuniga; I Carry You With Me, photo by Alejandro López; Ema, courtesy of Sundance Institute.

(For Immediate Release) Park City, UT — The nonprofit Sundance Institute announced today the showcase of new independent feature films selected across all categories for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. The Festival hosts screenings in Park City, Salt Lake City and at Sundance Mountain Resort, from January 23–February 2, 2020. The Sundance Film Festival is Sundance Institute’s flagship public program, widely regarded as the largest American independent film festival and attended by more than 120,000 people and 1,300 accredited press, and powered by more than 2,000 volunteers last year.

Sundance Institute also presents public programs throughout the year and around the world, including Festivals in Hong Kong and London, an international short film tour, an indigenous shorts program, a free summer screening series in Utah, and more. Alongside these public programs, the majority of the nonprofit Institute’s resources support independent artists around the world as they make and develop new work, via Labs, direct grants, fellowships, residencies and other strategic and tactical interventions.

Robert Redford, President and Founder of Sundance Institute, said, “Independent artists create and enrich global culture. Their art, which we’re proud to present, can entertain – and much more: it can, illuminate, agitate, and empower. This year’s Festival is full of films that showcase myriad ways for stories to drive change, across hearts, minds, and societies.”

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said, “At this year’s Festival, we’ll explore the theme of “imagined futures,” inside the theaters and in the conversations sparked by the work we are presenting. We believe diverse stories from independent artists around the world open us up to new perspectives and possibilities – at a time when fresh thinking and dialogue is urgently needed.”

John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival, said, “The program this year, my last as Director, is a celebration: of art and artists, yes, but also of the community that makes the annual pilgrimage to Park City to see the most exciting new work being made today. Watching this group expand and thrive over the years has been exhilarating and wildly rewarding. Our 2020 Festival’s lively and visionary crop of artists has a contagious passion, and I can’t wait to watch the world meet their work.”

Announced today: 118 feature-length films, representing 27 countries and 44 first-time feature filmmakers. Of the 65 directors in all four competition categories, comprising 56 films, 46% are women, 38% are people of color, and 12% are LGBTQ+. In the U.S. Dramatic Competition, 47% of the directors are women; 53% are people of color; 5% are LGBTQ+. In this year’s U.S. Documentary Competition, 45% are women; 23% are people of color; 23% are LGBTQ+.

44%, or 52, of all films announced today were directed by one or more women; 34%, or 40, were directed by one or more filmmaker of color; 15% or 18 by one or more people who are LGBTQ+. 23 films announced today were supported by Sundance Institute in development, whether through direct granting or residency Labs. 107 of the Festival’s feature films, or 91% of the lineup announced today, will be world premieres.

These films were selected from a record high of 15,100 submissions including 3,853 feature-length films. Of the feature film submissions, 1,698 were from the U.S. and 2,155 were international; 29% were directed by one or more women; 40% were directed by one or more filmmaker of color; 15% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQ+.

In 2019, the Festival drew more than 122,000 attendees from 48 U.S. states and 35 other countries, generated $182.5 million in economic activity for the state of Utah and supported 3,052 local jobs. The 2021 Sundance Film Festival will take place January 21–31, 2021.

New announcements, including Shorts, Indie Episodic and New Frontier, are forthcoming; watch sundance.org/festival.

The feature films confirmed for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival are:

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Presenting the world premieres of 16 narrative feature films, the Dramatic Competition offers Festivalgoers a first look at groundbreaking new voices in American independent film. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include The Farewell, Honey Boy, Clemency, Eighth Grade, Sorry to Bother You and The Miseducation of Cameron Post. 47% of the directors in this year’s U.S. Dramatic Competition are women; 52% are people of color; 5% are LGBTQ+.

The 40-Year-Old Version / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Radha Blank, Producers: Lena Waithe, Radha Blank, Inuka Bacote-Capiga, Jennifer Semler, Rishi Rijani) — A down-on-her-luck New York playwright decides to reinvent herself and salvage her artistic voice the only way she knows how: by becoming a rapper at age 40. Cast: Radha Blank, Peter Kim, Oswin Benjamin, Reed Birney, Imani Lewis, T.J. Atoms. World Premiere

BLAST BEAT / U.S.A. (Director: Esteban Arango, Screenwriters: Erick Castrillon & Esteban Arango, Producers: Charles D. King, Poppy Hanks, Erick Castrillon, Ty Walker) — After their family emigrates from Colombia during the summer of ‘99, a metalhead science prodigy and his deviant younger brother do their best to adapt to new lives in America. Cast: Moises Arias, Mateo Arias, Daniel Dae Kim, Kali Uchis, Diane Guerrero, Wilmer Valderrama. World Premiere

Charm City Kings / U.S.A. (Director: Angel Manuel Soto, Screenwriters: Sherman Payne, Chris Boyd & Kirk Sullivan, Barry Jenkins, Producers: Caleeb Pinkett, Clarence Hammond, Marc Bienstock) — Mouse desperately wants to join The Midnight Clique, the infamous Baltimore dirt bike riders who rule the summertime streets. When Midnight’s leader, Blax, takes 14-year-old Mouse under his wing, Mouse soon finds himself torn between the straight-and-narrow and a road filled with fast money and violence. Cast: Jahi Di’Allo Winston, Meek Mill, Will Catlett, Teyonah Parris, Donielle Tremaine Hansley, Kezii Curtis. World Premiere

Dinner in America / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Adam Rehmeier, Producers: Ben Stiller, Nicholas Weinstock, David Hunter, Ross Putman, John Covert, Sam Slater) — An on-the-lam punk rocker and a young woman obsessed with his band go on an unexpected and epic journey together through the decaying suburbs of the American Midwest.. Cast: Kyle Gallner, Emily Skeggs, Pat Healy, Griffin Gluck, Lea Thompson, Mary Lynn Rajskub. World Premiere

The Evening Hour / U.S.A. (Director: Braden King, Screenwriter: Elizabeth Palmore, Producers: Lucas Joaquin, Braden King, Derrick Tseng) — Cole Freeman maintains an uneasy equilibrium in his rural Appalachian town, looking after the old and infirm while selling their excess painkillers to local addicts. But when an old friend returns with plans that upend the fragile balance and identity he’s so painstakingly crafted, Cole is forced to take action. Cast: Philip Ettinger, Stacy Martin, Cosmo Jarvis, Michael Trotter, Kerry Bishé, Lili Taylor. World Premiere

Farewell Amor / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ekwa Msangi, Producers: Huriyyah Muhammad, Sam Bisbee, Josh Penn) — Reunited after a 17 year separation, Walter, an Angolan immigrant, is joined in the U.S. by his wife and teenage daughter. Now absolute strangers sharing a one-bedroom apartment, they discover a shared love of dance that may help overcome the emotional distance between them. Cast: Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine, Zainab Jah, Jayme Lawson, Joie Lee, Marcus Scribner, Nana Mensah. World Premiere

Minari / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lee Isaac Chung, Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh) — David, a 7-year-old Korean-American boy, gets his life turned upside down when his father decides to move their family to rural Arkansas and start a farm in the mid-1980s, in this charming and unexpected take on the American Dream. Cast: Steven Yeun, Han Yeri, Youn Yuh Jung, Will Patton, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho. World Premiere

Miss Juneteenth / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Channing Godfrey Peoples, Producers: Neil Creque Williams, Jeanie Igoe, James M. Johnston, Toby Halbrooks, Theresa Steele, Tim Headington) — Turquoise, a former beauty queen turned hardworking single mother, prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the “Miss Juneteenth” pageant, hoping to keep her from repeating the same mistakes in life that she did. Cast: Nicole Beharie, Kendrick Sampson, Alexis Chikaeze, Lori Hayes, Marcus Maudlin. World Premiere

Never Rarely Sometimes Always / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Eliza Hittman, Producers: Adele Romanski, Sara Murphy, Rose Garnett) — An intimate portrayal of two teenage girls in rural Pennsylvania. Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn and her cousin Skylar embark on a brave, fraught journey across state lines to New York City. Cast: Sidney Flanigan, Talia Ryder, Théodore Pellerin, Ryan Eggold, Sharon Van Etten. World Premiere

Nine Days / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Edson Oda, Producers: Jason Michael Berman, Mette Marie Kongsved, Matthew Lindner, Laura Tunstall, Datari Turner) — In a house distant from the reality we know, a reclusive man interviews prospective candidates—personifications of human souls—for the privilege that he once had: to be born. Cast: Winston Duke, Zazie Beetz, Benedict Wong, Bill Skarsgård, Tony Hale, David Rysdahl. World Premiere. Dolby Institute Fellowship

Palm Springs / U.S.A. (Director: Max Barbakow, Screenwriter: Andy Siara, Producers: Andy Samberg, Becky Sloviter, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Dylan Sellers, Chris Parker) — When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated the next morning when they find themselves unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other. Cast: Andy Samberg, Cristin Milioti, J.K. Simmons, Meredith Hagner, Camila Mendes, Peter Gallagher. World Premiere

Save Yourselves! / U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: Alex Huston Fischer, Eleanor Wilson, Producers: Kara Durrett, Mandy Tagger, Adi Ezroni) — A young Brooklyn couple head upstate to disconnect from their phones and reconnect with themselves. Cut off from their devices, they miss the news that the planet is under attack. Cast: Sunita Mani, John Reynolds, Ben Sinclair, Johanna Day, John Early, Gary Richardson. World Premiere

Shirley / U.S.A. (Director: Josephine Decker, Screenwriter: Sarah Gubbins, Producers: Christine Vachon, David Hinojosa, Sue Naegle, Sarah Gubbins, Jeffrey Soros, Simon Horsman) — A young couple moves in with the famed author, Shirley Jackson, and her Bennington College professor husband, Stanley Hyman, in the hope of starting a new life but instead find themselves fodder for a psycho-drama that inspires Shirley’s next novel. Cast: Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg, Odessa Young, Logan Lerman. World Premiere

Sylvie’s Love / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Eugene Ashe, Producers: Nnamdi Asomugha, Gabrielle Glore, Jonathan Baker, Matthew Thurm) — Years after their summer romance comes to an end, an aspiring television producer and a talented musician cross paths, only to find their feelings for each other never changed. With their careers taking them in different directions, they must choose what matters most. Cast: Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Eva Longoria, Aja Naomi King, Wendi Mclendon-Covey, Jemima Kirke. World Premiere

Wander Darkly / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Tara Miele, Producers: Lynette Howell Taylor, Samantha Housman, Shivani Rawat, Monica Levinson) — New parents Adrienne and Matteo are forced to reckon with trauma amidst their troubled relationship. They must revisit the memories of their past and unravel haunting truths in order to face their uncertain future. Cast: Sienna Miller, Diego Luna, Beth Grant, Aimee Carrero, Tory Kittles, Vanessa Bayer. World Premiere

Zola / U.S.A. (Director: Janicza Bravo, Screenwriters: Janicza Bravo, Jeremy O. Harris, Producers: Christine Vachon, David Hinojosa, Vince Jolivette, Elizabeth Haggard, Dave Franco, Gia Walsh) 2015: @zolarmoon tweets “wanna hear a story about why me & this bitch here fell out???????? It’s kind of long but full of suspense.” Two girls bond over their “hoeism” and become fast friends. What’s supposed to be a trip from Detroit to Florida turns into a weekend from hell. Cast: Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Colman Domingo. World Premiere

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Sixteen world-premiere American documentaries that illuminate the ideas, people and events that shape the present day. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include APOLLO 11, Knock Down The House, One Child Nation, American Factory, Three Identical Strangers and On Her Shoulders. 45% of the directors in this year’s U.S. Documentary Competition are women; 23% are people of color; 23% are LGBTQ+.

A Thousand Cuts / U.S.A., Philippines (Director and screenwriter: Ramona S. Diaz, Producers: Ramona S. Diaz, Leah Marino, Julie Goldman, Chris Clements, Carolyn Hepburn) — Nowhere is the worldwide erosion of democracy, fueled by social media disinformation campaigns, more starkly evident than in the authoritarian regime of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Journalist Maria Ressa places the tools of the free press—and her freedom—on the line in defense of truth and democracy. World Premiere

Be Water / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Bao Nguyen, Producer: Julia Nottingham) — In 1971, after being rejected by Hollywood, Bruce Lee returned to his parents’ homeland of Hong Kong to complete four iconic films. Charting his struggles between two worlds, this portrait explores questions of identity and representation through the use of rare archival, interviews with loved ones and Bruce’s own writings. World Premiere

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets / U.S.A. (Directors: Bill Ross, Turner Ross, Producers: Michael Gottwald, Chere Theriot) — In the shadows of the bright lights of Las Vegas, it’s last call for a beloved dive bar known as the Roaring 20s. A document of real people, in an unreal situation, facing an uncertain future: America at the end of 2016. World Premiere

Boys State / U.S.A. (Directors: Jesse Moss, Amanda McBaine, Producers: Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss) — In an unusual experiment, a thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up. World Premiere

Code for Bias / U.S.A., United Kingdom, China (Director, screenwriter and producer: Shalini Kantayya) — Exploring the fallout of MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s startling discovery that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces accurately, and her journey to push for the first-ever legislation in the U.S. to govern against bias in the algorithms that impact us all. World Premiere

The Cost of Silence / U.S.A. (Director: Mark Manning, Producers: Mark Manning, Langdon Page, Reuben Aaronson) — An industry insider exposes the devastating consequences of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and uncovers systemic corruption between government and industry to silence the victims of a growing public health disaster. Stakes could not be higher as the Trump administration races to open the entire U.S. coastline to offshore drilling. World Premiere

Crip Camp / U.S.A. (Directors: Nicole Newnham, Jim LeBrecht, Producers: Sara Bolder, Jim LeBrecht, Nicole Newnham) — Down the road from Woodstock in the early 1970s, a revolution blossomed in a ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers, transforming their young lives and igniting a landmark movement. World Premiere. DAY ONE

Dick Johnson Is Dead / U.S.A. (Director: Kirsten Johnson, Screenwriters: Nels Bangerter, Kirsten Johnson, Producers: Katy Chevigny, Marilyn Ness) — With this inventive portrait, a cameraperson seeks a way to keep her 86-year-old father alive forever. Utilizing moviemaking magic and her family’s dark humor, she celebrates Dr. Dick Johnson’s last years by staging fantasies of death and beyond. Together, dad and daughter confront the great inevitability awaiting us all. World Premiere

Feels Good Man / U.S.A. (Director: Arthur Jones, Producers: Giorgio Angelini, Caryn Capotosto, Aaron Wickenden)  — When indie comic character Pepe the Frog becomes an unwitting icon of hate, his creator, artist Matt Furie, fights to bring Pepe back from the darkness and navigate America’s cultural divide. World Premiere

The Fight / U.S.A. (Directors: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres, Producers: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres, Maya Seidler, Peggy Drexler, Kerry Washington) — Inside the ACLU, a team of scrappy lawyers battle Trump’s historic assault on civil liberties. World Premiere

Mucho Mucho Amor / U.S.A. (Directors: Cristina Costantini, Kareem Tabsch, Producer: Alex Fumero) — Once the world’s most famous astrologer, Walter Mercado seeks to resurrect a forgotten legacy. Raised in the sugar cane fields of Puerto Rico, Walter grew up to become a gender non-conforming, cape-wearing psychic whose televised horoscopes reached 120 million viewers a day for decades before he mysteriously disappeared. World Premiere

Spaceship Earth / U.S.A. (Director: Matt Wolf, Producers: Stacey Reiss, Matt Wolf) — In 1991 a group of countercultural visionaries built an enormous replica of earth’s ecosystem called Biosphere 2. When eight “biospherians” lived sealed inside, they faced ecological calamities and cult accusations. Their epic adventure is a cautionary tale but also a testament to the power of small groups reimagining the world. World Premiere

Time / U.S.A. (Director: Garrett Bradley, Producers: Lauren Domino, Kellen Quinn, Garrett Bradley) Fox Rich, indomitable matriarch and modern-day abolitionist, strives to keep her family together while fighting for the release of her incarcerated husband. An intimate, epic, and unconventional love story, filmed over two decades. World Premiere

Us Kids / U.S.A. (Director: Kim A. Snyder, Producers: Kim A. Snyder, Maria Cuomo Cole, Lori Cheatle) — Determined to turn unfathomable tragedy into action, the teenage survivors of Parkland, Florida catalyze a powerful, unprecedented youth movement that spreads with lightning speed across the country, as a generation of mobilized youth take back democracy in this powerful coming-of-age story. World Premiere

Welcome to Chechnya / U.S.A. (Director: David France, Producers: Alice Henty, David France, Askold Kurov, Joy A. Tomchin) — This searing investigative work shadows a group of activists risking unimaginable peril to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ pogrom raging in the repressive and closed Russian republic. Unfettered access and a remarkable approach to protecting anonymity exposes this under-reported atrocity–and an extraordinary group of people confronting evil. World Premiere

Whirlybird / U.S.A. (Director: Matt Yoka, Producers: Diane Becker, Matt Yoka) — Soaring above the chaotic spectacle of ‘80s and ‘90s Los Angeles, a young couple revolutionized breaking news with their brazen helicopter reporting. Culled from this news duo’s sprawling video archive is a poignant L.A. story of a family in turbulence hovering over a city unhinged. World Premiere

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Twelve films from emerging filmmaking talents around the world offer fresh perspectives and inventive styles. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include The Souvenir, The Guilty, Monos, Yardie, The Nile Hilton Incident and Second Mother.

Charter / Sweden (Director and screenwriter: Amanda Kernell, Producers: Lars G. Lindström, Eva Åkergren) — After a recent and difficult divorce, Alice hasn’t seen her children in two months as she awaits a custody verdict. When her son calls her in the middle of the night, Alice takes action, abducting the children on an illicit charter trip to the Canary Islands. Cast: Ane Dahl Torp, Troy Lundkvist, Tintin Poggats Sarri, Sverrir Gudnasson, Eva Melander, Siv Erixon. World Premiere

Cuties / France (Director and screenwriter: Maïmouna Doucouré, Producer: Zangro) — Amy, 11 years old, meets a group of dancers called “Cuties.” Fascinated, she initiates herself to a sensual dance, hoping to join their band and escape family dysfunction… Cast: Fathia Youssouf, Médina El Aidi-Azouni, Esther Gohourou, Ilanah Cami-Goursolas, Myriam Hamma, Maïmouna Gueye. World Premiere. DAY ONE

Exil / Germany, Belgium, Kosovo (Director and screenwriter: Visar Morina, Producers: Janine Jackowski, Jonas Dornbach, Maren Ade) — A chemical engineer feeling discriminated against and bullied at work plunges into an identity crisis. Cast: Mišel Matičević, Sandra Hüller. World Premiere

High Tide / Argentina (Director and screenwriter: Verónica Chen, Producers: Esteban Mentasti, Hori Mentasti) — Laura is spending a few days at her beach house to supervise the construction of a barbecue shed. One afternoon, she seduces the chief builder, who never returns. Over the following days, the builders continually invade her home – until Laura grows ferocious. Cast: Gloria Carrá, Jorge Sesán, Cristian Salguero, Mariana Chaud, Camila Fabbri, Héctor Bordoni. World Premiere

Jumbo / France, Luxembourg, Belgium (Director and screenwriter: Zoé Wittock, Producers: Anaïs Bertrand, Annabella Nezri, Gilles Chanial) — Jeanne, a shy young woman, works in an amusement park. Fascinated with carousels, she still lives at home with her mother. That’s when Jeanne meets Jumbo, the park’s new flagship attraction… Cast: Noémie Merlant, Emmanuelle Bercot, Sam Louwyck. World Premiere

Luxor / Egypt, United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Zeina Durra, Producers: Mohamed Hefzy, Mamdouh Saba, Gianluca Chakra, Hisham Alghanim) — When British aid worker Hana returns to Luxor, a sleepy city on the banks of the Nile, she comes across Sultan, a talented archeologist and former lover. As she wanders, haunted by the familiar place, she struggles to reconcile the choices of the past with the uncertainty of the present. Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Karim Saleh, Michael Landes, Sherine Reda, Salima Ikram, Shahira Fahmy. World Premiere

Possessor / Canada, United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Brandon Cronenberg, Producers: Niv Fichman, Andrew Starke, Kevin Krikst, Fraser Ash) — Vos is a corporate agent who uses brain-implant technology to inhabit other people’s bodies, driving them to commit assassinations for the benefit of the company. When something goes wrong on a routine job, she finds herself trapped inside a man whose identity threatens to obliterate her own. Cast: Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Rossif Sutherland, Tuppence Middleton, Sean Bean, Jennifer Jason Leigh. World Premiere

Sin Señas Particulares / Mexico, Spain (Director: Fernanda Valadez, Screenwriters: Fernanda Valadez, Astrid Rondero, Producers: Astrid Rondero, Fernanda Valadez, Jack Zagha, Yossy Zagha) Magdalena makes a journey to find her son, gone missing on his way to the Mexican border with the US. Her odyssey takes her to meet Miguel, a man recently deported from the U.S. They travel together, Magdalena looking for her son, and Miguel hoping to see his mother again. Cast: Mercedes Hernández, David Illescas, Juan Jesús Varela, Ana Laura Rodríguez, Laura Elena Ibarra, Xicoténcatl Ulloa. World Premiere

Summer White (Blanco de Verano) / Mexico (Director: Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson, Screenwriters: Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson, Raúl Sebastián Quintanilla, Producer: Alejandro Cortés Rubiales) ― Rodrigo is a solitary teenager, a king in the private world he shares with his mother. Things change when she takes her new boyfriend home to live. He must decide if he fights for his throne and crushes the happiness of the person he loves the most. Cast: Adrián Rossi, Sophie Alexander-Katz, Fabián Corres. World Premiere

Surge / United Kingdom (Director: Aneil Karia, Screenwriters: Rupert Jones, Rita Kalnejais, Producers: Julia Godzinskaya, Sophie Vickers) ― A man goes on a bold and reckless journey of self-liberation through London. After he robs a bank he releases a wilder version of himself, ultimately experiencing what it feels like to be alive. Cast: Ben Whishaw, Ellie Haddington, Ian Gelder, Jasmine Jobson. World Premiere

This Is Not A Burial, It’s A Resurrection / Lesotho, South Africa, Italy (Director and screenwriter: Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, Producers: Cait Pansegrouw, Elias Ribeiro) — When her village is threatened with forced resettlement due to reservoir construction, an 80-year-old widow finds a new will to live and ignites the spirit of resilience within her community. In the final dramatic moments of her life, Mantoa’s legend is forged and made eternal. Cast: Mary Twala Mhlongo, Jerry Mofokeng Wa Makheta, Makhoala Ndebele, Tseko Monaheng, Siphiwe Nzima. International Premiere

Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness / Iran, France, Germany, Switzerland (Director and screenwriter: Massoud Bakhshi, Producers: Jacques Bidou, Marianne Dumoulin) — Maryam accidentally killed her husband Nasser and is sentenced to death. The only person who can save her is Mona, Nasser’s daughter. All Mona has to do is appear on a TV show and forgive Maryam. But forgiveness proves difficult when they are forced to relive the past. Cast: Sadaf Asgari, Behnaz Jafari, Babak Karimi, Fereshteh Sadr Orafaee, Forough Ghajebeglou, Fereshteh Hosseini. International Premiere

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Twelve documentaries by some of the most courageous and extraordinary international filmmakers working today. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Honeyland, Sea of Shadows, Shirkers, This is Home, Last Men in Aleppo and Hooligan Sparrow.

Acasa, My Home / Romania, Germany, Finland (Director: Radu Ciorniciuc, Screenwriters: Lina Vdovii, Radu Ciorniciuc, Producer: Monica Lazurean-Gorgan) — In the wilderness of the Bucharest Delta, nine children and their parents lived in perfect harmony with nature for 20 years–until they are chased out and forced to adapt to life in the big city. World Premiere

The Earth Is Blue as an Orange / Ukraine, Lithuania (Director: Iryna Tsilyk, Producers: Anna Kapustina, Giedrė Žickytė) — To cope with the daily trauma of living in a war zone, Anna and her children make a film together about their life among surreal surroundings. World Premiere

Epicentro / Austria, France, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Hubert Sauper, Producers: Martin Marquet, Daniel Marquet, Gabriele Kranzelbinder, Paolo Calamita) — Cuba is well known as a so-called time capsule. The place where the New World was discovered has become both a romantic vision and a warning. With ongoing global cultural and financial upheavals, large parts of the world could face a similar kind of existence. World Premiere

Influence / South Africa, Canada (Directors and Screenwriters: Diana Neille, Richard Poplak, Producers: Bob Moore, Neil Brandt) — Charting the recent advancements in weaponized communication by investigating the rise and fall of the world’s most notorious public relations and reputation management firm: the British multinational Bell Pottinger. World Premiere

Into the Deep / Denmark (Director: Emma Sullivan, Producers: Mette Heide, Roslyn Walker) — In 2016, a young Australian filmmaker began documenting amateur inventor Peter Madsen. One year in, Madsen brutally murdered Kim Wall aboard his homemade submarine. An unprecedented revelation of a killer and the journey his young helpers take as they reckon with their own complicity and prepare to testify. World Premiere

The Mole Agent / Chile (Director and screenwriter: Maite Alberdi, Producer: Marcela Santibañez) — When a family becomes concerned about their mother’s well-being in a retirement home, private investigator Romulo hires Sergio, an 83 year-old man who becomes a new resident–and a mole inside the home, who struggles to balance his assignment with becoming increasingly involved in the lives of several residents. World Premiere

Once Upon A Time in Venezuela / Venezuela, United Kingdom, Brazil, Austria (Director: Anabel Rodríguez Ríos, Screenwriters: Anabel Rodríguez Ríos, Sepp R. Brudermann, Producer: Sepp R. Brudermann) — Once upon a time, the Venezuelan village of Congo Mirador was prosperous, alive with fisherman and poets. Now it is decaying and disintegrating–a small but prophetic reflection of Venezuela itself. World Premiere

The Painter and the Thief / Norway (Director: Benjamin Ree, Producer: Ingvil Giske) — An artist befriends the drug addict and thief who stole her paintings. She becomes his closest ally when he is severely hurt in a car crash and needs full time care, even if her paintings are not found. But then the tables turn. World Premiere.

DAY ONE

The Reason I Jump / United Kingdom (Director: Jerry Rothwell, Producers: Jeremy Dear, Stevie Lee, Al Morrow)  — Based on the book by Naoki Higashida this immersive film explores the experiences of nonspeaking autistic people around the world. World Premiere

Saudi Runaway / Switzerland (Director and screenwriter: Susanne Regina Meures, Producer: Christian Frei) — Amjad, a young, fearless woman from Saudi Arabia, is tired of being controlled by the state and patronized by her family. With an arranged marriage imminent, a life without rights and free will seems inevitable. Amjad decides to escape. An unprecedented view inside the world’s most repressive patriarchy. World Premiere

Softie / Kenya (Director and screenwriter: Sam Soko, Producers: Toni Kamau, Sam Soko) — Boniface Mwangi is daring and audacious, and recognized as Kenya’s most provocative photojournalist. But as a father of three young children, these qualities create tremendous turmoil between him and his wife Njeri. When he wants to run for political office, he is forced to choose: country or family? World Premiere

The Truffle Hunters / Italy, U.S.A., Greece (Directors: Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw, Producers: Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw) — In the secret forests of Northern Italy, a dwindling group of joyful old men and their faithful dogs search for the world’s most expensive ingredient, the white Alba truffle. Their stories form a real-life fairy tale that celebrates human passion in a fragile land that seems forgotten in time. World Premiere

NEXT
Pure, bold works distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling populate this program. Digital technology paired with unfettered creativity promises that the films in this section will shape a “greater” next wave in American cinema. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include The Infiltrators, Searching, Skate Kitchen, A Ghost Story and Tangerine. NEXT presented by Adobe.

Beast Beast / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Danny Madden, Producers: Benjamin Wiessner, Matt Miller, Tara Ansley) — Three interwoven stories of youths navigating identity, first love, petty crime, and gun violence in a southern American town. Cast: Shirley Chen, Will Madden, Jose Angeles, Courtney Dietz, Daniel Rashid. World Premiere

Black Bear / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lawrence Michael Levine, Producers: Julie Christeas, Jonathan Blitstein, Rick Bosner, Aubrey Plaza, Lawrence Michael Levine, Sophia Takal) — At a remote lake house, a filmmaker plays a calculated game of desire and jealousy in the pursuit of a work of art that blurs the boundaries between autobiography and invention. Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott, Sarah Gadon. World Premiere

I Carry You With Me / U.S.A., Mexico (Director: Heidi Ewing, Screenwriters: Heidi Ewing, Alan Page Arriaga, Producers: Mynette Louie, Heidi Ewing) — An epic love story spanning decades is sparked by a chance encounter between two men in provincial Mexico. Based on a true story, ambition and societal pressure propel an aspiring chef to leave his soulmate and make the treacherous journey to New York, where life will never be the same. Cast: Armando Espitia, Christian Vázquez, Michelle Rodríguez, Ángeles Cruz, Arcelia Ramírez, Michelle González. World Premiere

The Killing of Two Lovers / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Robert Machoian, Producers: Scott Christopherson, Clayne Crawford, Robert Machoian) — David desperately tries to keep his family of six together during a separation from his wife. They both agree to see other people but David struggles to grapple with his wife’s new relationship. Cast: Clayne Crawford, Sepideh Moafi, Chris Coy, Aver Pizzuto, Arri Graham, Ezra Graham. World Premiere

La Leyenda Negra / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Patricia Vidal Delgado, Producers: Alicia Herder, Marcel Perez) — In Compton, a soon-to-be undocumented teenager fights for her right to stay in America while risking her family, her friendships, and her first love. Cast: Monica Betancourt, Kailei Lopez, Irlanda Moreno, Justin Avila, Sammy Flores, Juan Reynoso. World Premiere

The Mountains Are a Dream That Call to Me / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Cedric Cheung-Lau, Producers: Alexandra Byer, Madeleine Askwith) — On the Annapurna Massif, Tukten, a young Nepali man setting off for a new life as a laborer in Dubai, encounters an older Australian woman who causes him to change course and discover his homeland in a new light. Cast: Sanjay Lama Dong, Alice Cummins. World Premiere

Omniboat: A Fast Boat Fantasia / U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: The Daniels, Hannah Fidell, Alexa Lim Haas, Lucas Leyva, Olivia Lloyd, Jillian Mayer, The Meza Brothers, Terence Nance, Brett Potter, Dylan Redford, Xander Robin, Julian Yuri Rodriguez, Celia Rowlson-Hall, Producers: Olivia Lloyd, Matthew Perniciaro, Michael Sherman, Taylor Shung) — It’s not just a speed boat ride, it’s a Miami adventure. Cast: Mel Rodriguez, Finn Wolfhard, Casey Wilson, Adam Devine, Jessica Williams, Robert Redford. World Premiere

Some Kind of Heaven / U.S.A. (Director: Lance Oppenheim, Producers: Darren Aronofsky, Kathleen Lingo, Melissa Oppenheim Lano, Pacho Velez, Jeffrey Soros, Simon Horsman) — Behind the gates of a palm tree-lined fantasyland, four residents of America’s largest retirement community, The Villages, FL, strive to find happiness and meaning. World Premiere

Spree / U.S.A. (Director: Eugene Kotlyarenko, Screenwriters: Gene McHugh, Eugene Kotlyarenko, Producers: Matthew Budman, Sumaiya Kaveh, John Lang, Eugene Kotlyarenko) — Kurt Kunkle, a rideshare driver thirsty for followers, has figured out a deadly plan to go viral. As his disturbing livestream is absurdly embraced by the social media hellscape, a comedienne emerges as the only hope to stop this rampage. Cast: Joe Keery, Sasheer Zamata, David Arquette, Kyle Mooney, Mischa Barton, Josh Ovalle. World Premiere

Summertime / U.S.A. (Director: Carlos Lopez Estrada, Screenwriters: Dave Harris, 19 Get Lit Poets, Producers: Kimberly Stuckwisch, Jeffrey Soros, Alisa Tager, Simon Horsman, Diane Luby Lane) — In the heat of the summer, the lives of 25 strangers collide. A love letter to Los Angeles written and performed by a collective of young spoken word poets. Cast: 19 Get Lit Poets. World Premiere.

DAY ONE

PREMIERES
A showcase of world premieres of some of the most highly anticipated narrative films of the coming year. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include The Report, Late Night, The Big Sick and Call Me By Your Name.

Downhill / U.S.A. (Directors: Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Screenwriters: Jesse Armstrong, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, Producers: Anthony Bregman, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Stefanie Azpiazu, Erik Hemmendorff, Ruben Östlund) Barely escaping an avalanche during a family ski vacation in the Alps, a married couple is thrown into disarray as they are forced to reevaluate their lives and how they feel about each other. Cast: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Will Ferrell, Zach Woods, Zoë Chao, Miranda Otto. World Premiere

Dream Horse / United Kingdom (Director: Euros Lyn, Screenwriter: Neil McKay, Producers: Katherine Butler, Tracy O’Riordan) — Jan, a cleaner and bartender, decides on a whim to breed a race horse in her Welsh village. As the horse rises through the ranks against all odds, Jan and the townspeople are pitted against the racing elite in a nail-biting race for the national championship. Cast: Toni Collette, Damian Lewis. World Premiere

Falling / Canada, United Kingdom, Denmark (Director and screenwriter: Viggo Mortensen, Producers: Viggo Mortensen, Daniel Bekerman, Chris Curling) — When 80-year-old independent farmer Willis travels to Los Angeles for an indefinite stay with son John and his family, two very different worlds collide. Mentally declining, Willis’ abrasiveness is both caustic and funny, bringing old wounds from the past and years of mutual mistrust to the surface. Cast: Lance Henriksen, Viggo Mortensen, Terry Chen, Sverrir Gudnason, Hannah Gross, Laura Linney. World Premiere. CLOSING NIGHT

The Father / United Kingdom, France (Director: Florian Zeller, Screenwriters: Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller, Producers: Philippe Carcassonne, Jean-Louis Livi, David Parfitt) — Anthony is 80 years old. He lives alone in London and refuses the nurses that his daughter tries to impose upon him. Yet help is becoming more pressing, as she has decided to move to Paris. At once comedic and profound, this is a moving story of our human condition. Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Colman, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots, Rufus Sewell, Olivia Williams. World Premiere

Four Good Days / U.S.A. (Director: Rodrigo Garcia, Screenwriters: Rodrigo Garcia, Eli Saslow, Producers: Jon Avnet, Marina Grasic, Jake Avnet, Jai Khanna, Rodrigo Garcia, Sage Scroope) — Ten years of opioids have left Molly’s life in shambles. A new drug may give her a chance to break free if she is able to stay clean for four days, with the help of her mother Deb, a tough, clear-eyed woman. Their love will be tested to the limits. Cast: Glenn Close, Mila Kunis, Stephen Root, Joshua Leonard. World Premiere

The Glorias / U.S.A. (Director: Julie Taymor, Screenwriters: Julie Taymor, Sarah Ruhl, Producers: Alex Saks, Lynn Hendee) — An equal rights crusader, journalist and activist: Gloria Steinem embodies these and more. From her role in the revolutionary women’s rights movement to her travels throughout the U.S. and around the world, Steinem has made an everlasting mark on modern history. A nontraditional chronicle of a trailblazing life. Cast: Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Bette Midler, Janelle Monae, Timothy Hutton, Lorraine Toussaint. World Premiere

Herself / Ireland, United Kingdom (Director: Phyllida Lloyd, Screenwriters: Clare Dunne, Malcolm Campbell, Producers: Rory Gilmartin, Ed Guiney, Sharon Horgan) — Struggling to provide her daughters with a safe, happy home, Sandra decides to build one – from scratch. Using all her ingenuity to make her ambitious dream a reality, Sandra draws together a community to lend a helping hand to build her house and ultimately recover her own sense of self. Cast: Clare Dunne, Harriet Walter, Conleth Hill. World Premiere

Horse Girl / U.S.A. (Director: Jeff Baena, Screenwriters: Jeff Baena, Alison Brie, Producers: Alana Carithers, Jeff Baena, Alison Brie) — A socially awkward woman with a fondness for arts and crafts, horses, and supernatural crime shows finds her increasingly lucid dreams trickling into her waking life. Cast: Alison Brie, Debby Ryan, John Reynolds, Molly Shannon, John Ortiz, Jay Duplass. World Premiere

Ironbark / United Kingdom (Director: Dominic Cooke, Screenwriter: Tom O’Connor, Producers: Adam Ackland, Ben Browning, Ben Pugh, Rory Aitken) — The true story of a British businessman unwittingly recruited into one of the greatest international conflicts in history. Forming an unlikely partnership with a Soviet officer hoping to prevent a nuclear confrontation, the two men work together to provide the crucial intelligence used to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis. Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Merab Ninidze, Rachel Brosnahan, Jessie Buckley. World Premiere

Kajillionaire / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Miranda July, Producers: Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner) — Low-stakes grifters, Old Dolio and her parents invite a chipper young woman into their insular clan, only to have their entire world turned upside down. Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Gina Rodriguez, Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger. World Premiere

The Last Shift / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Cohn, Producers: Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, Sam Bisbee, Alex Lipschultz, Bert Kern) — Stanley, an aging fast food worker, prepares to work his final graveyard shift after 38 years. When he’s asked to train his replacement, Jevon, Stanley’s weekend takes an unexpected turn. Cast: Richard Jenkins, Shane Paul McGhie, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Birgundi Baker, Allison Tolman, Ed O’Neill. World Premiere

The Last Thing He Wanted / U.S.A. (Director: Dee Rees, Screenwriters: Marco Vallalobos, Dee Rees, Producers: Cassian Elwes, Dee Rees) — A veteran D.C. journalist loses the thread of her own narrative when a guilt-propelled errand for her father thrusts her from byline to unwitting subject in the very story she’s trying to break. Adapted from the Joan Didion novel of the same title. Cast: Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, Willem Dafoe, Rosie Perez. World Premiere

Lost Girls / U.S.A. (Director: Liz Garbus, Screenwriter: Michael Werwie, Producers: Anne Carey, Kevin McCormick) — When Mari Gilbert’s daughter disappears, police inaction drives her own investigation into the gated Long Island community where Shannan was last seen. Committed to finding the truth, her search brings attention to over a dozen murdered sex workers Mari will not let the world forget. Inspired by true events. Cast: Amy Ryan, Thomasin McKenzie, Lola Kirke, Oona Laurence, Gabriel Byrne, Miriam Shor. World Premiere

The Nest / United Kingdom, Canada (Director and screenwriter: Sean Durkin, Producers: Ed Guiney, Derrin Schlesinger, Rose Garnett, Sean Durkin, Amy Jackson, Christina Piovesan) — Charismatic entrepreneur, Rory, relocates his family to England with dreams of profiting from booming 1980’s London. But as his wife, Allison, struggles to adapt, and the promise of a lucrative new beginning starts to unravel, the couple have to face the unwelcome truths lying beneath the surface of their marriage. Cast: Jude Law, Carrie Coon, Charlie Shotwell, Oona Roche. World Premiere

Promising Young Woman / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Emerald Fennell, Producers: Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerly, Josey McNamara, Ben Browning, Ashley Fox, Emerald Fennell) — Everyone said Cassie was a promising young woman… until something abruptly derailed her future. Nothing in Cassie’s life is as it appears: she’s smart, cunning, and living a double life by night. Now, Cassie has a chance to right the wrongs of the past in this thrilling take on revenge. Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Alison Brie, Connie Britton, Adam Brody, Jennifer Coolidge. World Premiere

Sergio / U.S.A. (Director: Greg Barker, Screenwriter: Craig Borten, Producers: Brent Travers, Daniel Dreifuss, Wagner Moura) — A sweeping drama set in the chaotic aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, where the life of top UN diplomat Sergio Vieira de Mello hangs in the balance during the most treacherous mission of his career. Cast: Wagner Moura, Ana de Armas, Garret Dillahunt, Will Dalton, Bradley Whitford, Brían F. O’Byrne. World Premiere

Tesla Hawke

Tesla / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Almereyda, Producers: Avi Lerner, Jeffery Greenstein, Uri Singer, Christa Campbell, Lati Grobman, Isen Robbins) — Highlighting the Promethean struggles of Nikola Tesla, as he attempts to transcend entrenched technology–including his own previous work–by pioneering a system of wireless energy that will change the world. Cast: Ethan Hawke, Kyle Maclachlan, Eve Hewson, Jim Gaffigan, Hannah Gross, Josh Hamilton. World Premiere. Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize

Uncle Frank / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Alan Ball, Producers: Alan Ball, Peter Macdissi, Michael Costigan, Jay Van Hoy, Bill Block, Stephanie Meurer) — In 1973, when 18-year-old Beth and her uncle Frank take a road trip from Manhattan to Creekville, South Carolina for the family patriarch’s funeral, they’re unexpectedly joined by Frank’s lover Walid. A story about family, forgiveness, and our inherent power to choose who we want to be. Cast: Paul Bettany, Sophia Lillis, Peter Macdissi, Steve Zahn, Judy Greer, Margo Martindale. World Premiere

Wendy / U.S.A. (Director: Benh Zeitlin, Screenwriters: Benh Zeitlin, Eliza Zeitlin, Producers: Dan Janvey, Josh Penn, Paul Mezey, Becky Glupczynski) — Lost on a mysterious island where aging and time have come unglued, Wendy must fight to save her family, her freedom, and the joyous spirit of youth from the deadly peril of growing up. The classic story of Peter Pan is wildly reimagined in this ragtag epic. Cast: Devin France, Yashua Mack, Gage Naquin, Gavin Naquin, Ahmad Cage, Krzysztof Meyn. World Premiere. Dolby Institute Fellowship

Worth / U.S.A. (Director: Sara Colangelo, Screenwriter: Max Borenstein) — Kenneth Feinberg, a powerful D.C. lawyer appointed Special Master of the 9/11 Fund, fights off the cynicism, bureaucracy, and politics associated with administering government funds and, in doing so, discovers what life is worth. Based on true events. Cast: Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, Amy Ryan, Tate Donovan, Talia Balsam, Laura Benanti. World Premiere

DOCUMENTARY PREMIERES
Renowned filmmakers and films about far-reaching subjects comprise this section highlighting our ongoing commitment to documentaries. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Ask Dr. Ruth, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, RBG, An Inconvenient Sequel and The Hunting Ground.

Aggie / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Catherine Gund, Producers: Catherine Gund, Tanya Selvaratnam) — An exploration of the nexus of art, race, and justice through the story of art collector and philanthropist Agnes Gund who sold Roy Lichtenstein’s painting “Masterpiece” in 2017 for $165 million to start the Art for Justice Fund to end mass incarceration. Cast: Agnes Gund, Darren Walker, Ava DuVernay, Thelma Golden, John Waters, Glenn Ligon. World Premiere

Assassins / U.S.A. (Director: Ryan White, Producers: Jessica Hargrave, Ryan White) — True crime meets global spy thriller in this gripping account of the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of the North Korean leader. The film follows the trial of the two female assassins, probing the question: were the women trained killers or innocent pawns of North Korea? World Premiere

Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen / U.S.A. (Director: Sam Feder, Producers: Amy Scholder, Sam Feder) — An investigation of how Hollywood’s fabled stories have deeply influenced how Americans feel about transgender people, and how transgender people have been taught to feel about themselves. Cast: Laverne Cox, Mj Rodriguez, Lilly Wachowski, Yance Ford, Chaz Bono, Jamie Clayton. World Premiere

The Dissident / U.S.A. (Director: Bryan Fogel, Screenwriters: Mark Monroe, Bryan Fogel, Producers: Bryan Fogel, Jake Swantko, Mark Monroe, Thor Halvorssen) — When Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappears after entering Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, his fiancée and dissidents around the world are left to piece together the clues to a brutal murder and expose a global cover up perpetrated by the very country he loved. World Premiere

Giving Voice / U.S.A. (Directors: James D. Stern, Fernando Villena, Producers: James D. Stern, Karen Bove, Fernando Villena, Schoen Smith, Craig Piligian) — Every year, thousands of high schoolers enter the August Wilson monologue competition for a chance to perform on Broadway. This film follows these students, examining how Wilson and his characters speak to a new generation, inspiring them to listen to his words and find their own voice. World Premiere

The Go-Go’s / U.S.A., Ireland, Canada (Director: Alison Ellwood, Producers: Trevor Birney, Corey Russell, Eimhear O’Neill) — As the first all-female band to play their instruments, write their songs and have a No. 1 album, The Go-Go’s made history. Underpinned by candid testimonies, this film chronicles the meteoric rise to fame of a band born in the LA punk scene who became a pop phenomenon. Cast: Charlotte Caffey, Belinda Carlisle, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine, Jane Wiedlin. World Premiere

Happy Happy Joy Joy – The Ren & Stimpy Story / U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: Ron Cicero, Kimo Easterwood, Producer: Ron Cicero) — Exploring the rise and fall of the groundbreaking animated series Ren & Stimpy and its controversial creator, John Kricfalusi, through archival footage, show artwork and interviews with the artists, actors and executives behind the show. Cast: John Kricfalusi, Robyn Byrd, Vanessa Coffey, Chris Reccardi, Richard Pursel, Bobby Lee. World Premiere

Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind / U.S.A. (Director: Laurent Bouzereau, Producers: Natasha Gregson Wagner, Manoah Bowman, Laurent Bouzereau) — Exploring actor Natalie Wood’s life and career through the unique perspective of her daughter, Natasha Gregson Wagner, and others who knew her best. An examination of her personal and professional triumphs and challenges, which have often been overshadowed by her tragic death at age 43. World Premiere

Okavango: River of Dreams (Director’s Cut) / Botswana (Directors and Producers: Dereck Joubert, Beverly Joubert, Screenwriter: Dereck Joubert) — An insiders’ view of one of the greatest river systems on the planet, presented as a love letter, exploring the layers of paradise, limbo and inferno in a natural history echo of Dante’s Divine Comedy, a river of dreams, or beauty of conflict and turmoil. World Premiere

Rebuilding Paradise / U.S.A. (Director: Ron Howard, Producers: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Xan Parker, Sara Bernstein, Justin Wilkes) — On November 8, 2018, a spark flew in the Sierra Nevada foothills, igniting the most destructive wildfire in California history and decimating the town of Paradise. Unfolding during the year after the fire, this is the story of the Paradise community as they begin to rebuild their lives. World Premiere

Taylor Swift: Miss Americana / U.S.A. (Director: Lana Wilson, Producers: Morgan Neville, Caitrin Rogers, Christine O’Malley) — A raw and emotionally revealing look at one of the most iconic artists of our time during a transformational period in her life as she learns to embrace her role not only as a songwriter and performer, but as a woman harnessing the full power of her voice. Cast: Taylor Swift. World Premiere. DAY ONE

Untitled Kirby Dick/Amy Ziering Film / U.S.A. (Directors: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, Screenwriters: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, Sara Newens, Producers: Amy Ziering, Kirby Dick, Amy Herdy, Jamie Rogers) — A brilliant former hip hop executive grapples with whether to go public about her rape by one of the most powerful men in the music industry. A gripping and profound examination of race, gender, intersectionality, and the toll sexual abuse takes on survivors and on society at large. Cast: Drew Dixon, Sil Lai Abrams, Sheri Hines, Joan Morgan, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Shanita Hubbard. World Premiere

Vivos / Germany, Mexico (Director and Producer: Ai Weiwei) — Since an attack on students of the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in 2014 resulted in six deaths and in the forced disappearance of 43, the students’ families have been living in limbo with their unanswered questions, their struggle embodying the psychological and emotional toll of endemic violence upon Mexican society. World Premiere

MIDNIGHT
From horror and comedy to works that defy genre classification, these films will keep you wide awake, even at the most arduous hour. Films that have premiered in this category in recent years include Greener Grass, Hereditary, Assassination Nation, The Little Hours and The Babadook.

Amulet / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Romola Garai, Producers: Matthew James Wilkinson, Maggie Monteith) — Tomaz, an ex-soldier now homeless in London, is offered a place to stay at a decaying house, inhabited by a young woman and her dying mother. As he starts to fall for Magda, Tomaz cannot ignore his suspicion that something insidious might also be living alongside them. Cast: Carla Juri, Alec Secareanu, Imelda Staunton, Angeliki Papoulia. World Premiere

Bad Hair / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Justin Simien, Producers: Julia Lebedev, Angel Lopez, Eddie Vaisman, Justin Simien) — In this horror satire set in 1989, an ambitious young woman gets a weave in order to succeed in the image-obsessed world of music television. However, her flourishing career may come at a great cost when she realizes that her new hair may have a mind of its own. Cast: Elle Lorraine, Vanessa Williams, Jay Pharoah, Lena Waithe, Blair Underwood, Laverne Cox. World Premiere. DAY ONE

His House / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Remi Weekes, Producers: Edward King, Martin Gentles, Roy Lee, Aidan Elliott, Arnon Milchan) — A young refugee couple makes a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, but then they struggle to adjust to their new life in a small English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface. Cast: Wunmi Mosaku, Sope Dirisu, Matt Smith. World Premiere

Impetigore / Indonesia (Director and screenwriter: Joko Anwar, Producers: Shanty Harmayn, Tia Hasibuan, Aoura Lovenson, Ben Soebiakto) — An out-of-luck woman decides to go back to her secluded home village in hopes of inheritance. Little does she know, the villagers have been waiting for her because she got what they needed to lift off a plagueing curse. Cast: Tara Basro, Marissa Anita, Christine Hakim, Ario Bayu, Asmara Abigail. International Premiere

The Night House / U.S.A. (Director: David Bruckner, Screenwriters: Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski, Producers: David Goyer, Keith Levine, John Zois) — A widow begins to uncover her recently deceased husband’s disturbing secrets. Cast: Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Stacy Martin, Evan Jonigkeit, Vondie Curtis-Hall. World Premiere

The Nowhere Inn / U.S.A. (Director: Bill Benz, Screenwriters: Carrie Brownstein, Annie Clark, Producers: Jett Steiger, Lana Kim, Annie Clark, Carrie Brownstein) — When St. Vincent sets out to make a documentary about her music, the goal is to both reveal and revel in the unadorned truth behind her on-stage persona. But when she hires a close friend to direct, notions of reality, identity, and authenticity grow increasingly distorted and bizarre. Cast: Annie Clark, Carrie Brownstein. World Premiere

Relic / Australia (Director: Natalie Erika James, Screenwriters: Natalie Erika James, Christian White, Producers: Anna McLeish, Sarah Shaw, Riva Marker, Jake Gyllenhaal) — When Edna, the elderly and widowed matriarch of the family, goes missing, her daughter Kay and granddaughter Sam travel to their remote family home to find her. Soon after her return, they start to discover a sinister presence haunting the house and taking control of Edna. Cast: Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin, Bella Heathcote. World Premiere

Run Sweetheart Run / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shana Feste, Producers: Jason Blum, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Aml Ameen, Dayo Okeniyi, Betsy Brandt, Shohreh Aghdashloo) — A blind date turns violent and the woman has to get home through Los Angeles, with her date in pursuit. Cast: Ella Balinska, Pilou Asbaek, Clark Gregg. World Premiere

Scare Me / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Josh Ruben, Producers: Alex Bach, Daniel Powell, Josh Ruben) — During a power outage, two strangers tell scary stories. The more Fred and Fanny commit to their tales, the more the stories come to life in the dark of a Catskills cabin. The horrors of reality manifest when Fred confronts his ultimate fear: Fanny is the better storyteller. Cast: Aya Cash, Josh Ruben, Chris Redd, Rebecca Drysdale. World Premiere

SPOTLIGHT
The Spotlight program is a tribute to the cinema we love from throughout the past year. Films that have played in this category in recent years include The Biggest Little Farm, The Death of Stalin, The Rider, Ida and The Lobster.

And Then We Danced / Sweden, Georgia, France (Director and screenwriter: Levan Akin, Producers: Mathilde Dedye, Ketie Daniela) — In the conservative confines of modern Tbilisi, Merab, a competitive dancer, is thrown off balance by the arrival of Irakli, a fellow male dancer with a rebellious streak. Cast: Levan Gelbakhiani, Bachi Valishvili, Ana Javakhishvilli, Kakha Gogidze, Anano Makharadze.

The Assistant / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kitty Green, Producers: Kitty Green, Scott Macaulay, James Schamus, P. Jennifer Dana, Ross Jacobson) — A day in the life of Jane, an assistant to a high-powered film executive. Cast: Julia Garner, Matthew Macfadyen, Makenzie Leigh, Kristine Froseth, Jon Orsini, Noah Robbins.

The Climb / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Covino, Screenwriters: Michael Covino, Kyle Marvin, Producers: Noah Lang, Michael Covino, Kyle Marvin) Kyle and Mike are best friends who share a close bond—until Mike sleeps with Kyle’s fiancée. A portrait of a tumultuous but enduring relationship between two men across many years of laughter, heartbreak, and rage. Cast: Kyle Marvin, Michael Covino, Gayle Rankin, Talia Balsam, George Wendt, Judith Godrèche. 

Collective / Romania, Luxembourg (Director and screenwriter: Alexander Nanau, Producers: Alexander Nanau, Bianca Oana) — Investigative journalists uncover massive fraud in the Romanian health care system revealing the price of corruption and ultimately, the price of truth. Cast: Catalin Tolontan, Mirela Neag, Razvan Lutac, Tedy Ursuleanu, Vlad Voiculescu, Camelia Roiu. U.S. Premiere

Ema / Chile (Director: Pablo Larraín, Screenwriters: Guillermo Calderón, Alejandro Moreno, Producer: Juan de Dios Larraín) — After a shocking incident upends her family life and marriage to a tempestuous choreographer, Ema, a reggaeton dancer, sets out on an odyssey of personal liberation in this incendiary story of art, desire, and the modern family. Cast: Mariana Di Girolamo, Gael García Bernal, Santiago Cabrera.

La Llorona / Guatemala, France (Director and screenwriter: Jayro Bustamante, Producers: Jayro Bustamante, Herminio Gutiérrez, Gustavo Matheu, Marina Peralta, Georges Ranand) — Enrique, a retired general who oversaw the Maya genocide, is haunted by his devastating crimes. A tale of horror and fantasy, reimagining the Latin American fable as an urgent metaphor of Guatemalan recent history and its unhealed political wounds. Cast: María Mercedes Coroy, Sabrina De La Hoz, Julio Diaz, Margarita Kénefic, Juan Pablo Olyslager, Ayla-Elea Hurtado.

The Perfect Candidate / Germany, Saudi Arabia (Director: Haifaa Al Mansour, Screenwriters: Haifaa Al Mansour, Brad Niemann, Producers: Roman Paul, Gerhard Meixner, Haifaa Al Mansour, Brad Niemann) — A determined young Saudi doctor’s surprise run for office in the local city elections sweeps up her family and community as they struggle to accept their town’s first female candidate. Cast: Mila Alzahrani, Dhay, Khalid Abdulrahim, Shafi Al Harthy. DAY ONE

KIDS
This section of the Festival is especially for our youngest independent film fans. Programmed in cooperation with Utah Film Center, which presents the annual Tumbleweeds Film Festival, Utah’s premiere film festival for children and youth. Films that have played in this category in recent years include The Elephant Queen, Science Fair, My Life as a Zucchini, The Eagle Huntress and Shaun the Sheep.

Binti / Belgium (Director and Screenwriter: Frederike Migom, Producer: Katleen Goosens) — Twelve-year-old Binti dreams of becoming a famous vlogger like her idol Tatyana. But when the police raid her home, and try to deport her and her dad, they are forced to flee. Together with her friend Elias she now plots the perfect plan to stay in the country. Cast: Bebel Tshiani Baloji, Mo Bakker, Joke Devynck, Baloji, Caroline Stas, Noa Jacobs. U.S. Premiere

Come Away / United Kingdom, U.S.A. (Director: Brenda Chapman, Screenwriter: Marissa Kate Goodhill, Producers: Leesa Kahn, James Spring, David Oyelowo, Steve Richards, Andrea Keir) — Before Alice found Wonderland, and Peter became Pan, they were brother and sister. When their brother dies in an accident, they seek to save their parents from downward spirals until finally they’re forced to choose between home and imagination, setting the stage for their iconic journeys into Wonderland and Neverland. Cast: Angelina Jolie, David Oyelowo, Jordan Nash, Keira Chansa, Reece Yates, Michael Caine. World Premiere

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made / U.S.A. (Director: Tom McCarthy, Screenwriters: Stephan Pastis, Tom McCarthy, Producers: Tom McCarthy, Jim Whitaker) — The hilarious exploits of Timmy Failure and his 1,500-pound polar bear partner, Total, as they operate Total Failure, Inc., a Portland detective agency. Based on the book by Stephan Pastis. Cast: Winslow Fegley, Ophelia Lovibond, Wallace Shawn, Craig Robinson, Kyle Bornheimer. World Premiere

 

The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Eighth Grade, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2020 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire; AT&T; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Amazon Studios, DIRECTV, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Southwest Airlines®, Stella Artois®, WarnerMedia; Sustaining Sponsors – Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, Fire TV, GEICO, High West Distillery, Hulu, IMDbPro, Lyft, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Variety, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Partner seal at their venues at the Festival. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discovering original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as The Farewell, Late Night, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Little Miss Sunshine, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, State of the Union, Indecent, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

(Source: Sundance Press Release)

 

Highlights at AFI FEST 2019 Presented by Audi

Posted by Larry Gleeson

C C Queen

Snoop

MelinaMatsoukas_Rihanna

On Thursday night, November 14th, 2019, AFI FEST presented by Audi opened with the star-studded World Premiere of QUEEN & SLIM, a modern re-telling of Bonnie & Clyde. Check out the AFI FEST recap of interviews with the film’s director, writer and stars on a blazing hot red carpet!

EVA LONGORIA

On Friday afternoon at the AFI Summit inside the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Eva Longoria and Dr. Stacy Smith, founder of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, had a frank and illuminating conversation on the erasure of Latinx in film and discussed a solutions-driven path forward. This is a must-see dialogue! A short-take read is HERE.

Marty

On Friday night, legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese screened his latest film, THE IRISHMAN, at the TCL Chinese Theatre. The packed audience greeted the acclaimed master of storytelling with a standing ovation. Watch the interview!

Crown

Royalty descended on AFI FEST Saturday night, November 16th. Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter, Gillian Anderson and Jon Lithgow were among the stars who celebrated THE CROWN series creator and playwright Peter Morgan.

Lithgow Anderson

On Sunday, AFI FEST presented by Audi held a special screening of THE SONG OF NAMES, a film that spans generations and features a transcontinental journey in search of a beloved friend. We spoke with the film’s director François Girard, famed composer Howard Shore and Clive Owen on the red carpet.

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Aldis Alfre

CLEMENCY director Chinonye Chukwu and stars Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge and Alex Castillo also walked the red carpet at AFI FEST!

 

Indie

In addition, on Sunday, the above Indie Contenders panelists shared stories about their latest films and the importance of festivals and independent filmmaking. “Film festivals are about story, and they’re about loving film.” Watch the full conversation now.

Jada Hala

Jada

Monday brought HALA. On the red carpet for HALA, executive producer Jada Pinkett Smith, writer/director Minhal Baig and actors Geraldine Viswanathan and Jack Kilmer spoke about breaking down stereotypes and finding identity. Watch the interviews!

THE TWO POPES convened at AFI FEST this past week as well. Director Fernando Meirelles, writer Anthony McCarten and stars Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce joined the congregation on the red carpet. See the interviews here!

Clint

On Wednesday, Hollywood stars came out in support of the world premiere of RICHARD JEWELL, the latest film from AFI Life Achievement Award recipient and Academy Award® winner Clint Eastwood.

Clint Carpet

Watch AFI FEST’s red carpet interviews and highlights from the evening.

On Thursday, November 21st, 2019, he critically acclaimed film MARRIAGE STORY closed out AFI FEST 2019 presented by Audi.

Marriage Story

Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Noah Baumbach directed the incisive and compassionate look at a marriage coming apart and a family staying together. Baumbach and Dern delivered colorful remarks before the screening.

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Next year’s AFI FEST 2020 Will Take Place October 15-22. Until then, I’ll see you at the movies!

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AFI FEST 2019 WRAPS WITH AWARDS ANNOUNCEMENTS AND NEW DATE FOR 2020

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Festival Announces Audience and Jury Award Winners 

AFI FEST 2020 Will Take Place October 15-22

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, November 22, 2019 — AFI FEST 2019 presented by Audi announced today the films that received this year’s Jury and Audience awards. The Grand Jury Award winners for Live Action and Animated Short will be eligible for the 2020 Best Live Action Short and Best Animated Short Academy Awards®. The Shorts jury was comprised of filmmakers Katrelle Kindred, Hannah Peterson and Davy Rothbart.

Highlights of the festival include Conversations with Peter Morgan and Martin Scorsese; the Indie Contenders and Doc Roundtables; a conversation with Eva Longoria and Dr. Stacy Smith on the Erasure of Latinx in Film; and a conversation with Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, and Susan Ruskin, Dean of the AFI Conservatory and EVP of the AFI Institute.

Marty

 

Indie_Contenders

EVA LONGORIA

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AFI FEST 2020 will open on October 15 and close on October 22. World premieres, galas and special screenings reflecting the best in global cinema will take place at iconic theaters in Los Angeles.

Audience Award – Feature
I AM NOT ALONE (DIR Garin Hovannisian)

Capturing the fury, emotion, and spontaneous expressions of freedom that overtook the streets of Armenia in 2018, Garin Hovannisian’s fascinating eye-witness documentary affords a unique glimpse into a revolution-in-the-making by offering unprecedented access to the grassroots movement that dared to challenge an entrenched regime, as well as the regime’s leaders themselves.

Audience Award – Short

LOST & FOUND (DIR Orlando Von Einsiedel)

A determined man, armed only with a megaphone, his determination, and an unshakeable smile, sets out to reunite lost children with their families in the Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh, which now houses over 600,000 Rohingya Muslims.

Grand Jury Award – Live-Action Short

EXAM (DIR Sonia K. Hadad)

Jury Statement: “We are so excited to award the Grand Jury Prize to Sonia K. Hadad’s EXAM. EXAM stood out from the other films for its bold directorial style, anchored by a stunning lead performance. The result is a tense portrait that reaches past its specificity into the universal.”

A teenage girl delivers a package of cocaine to a client and gets caught in a weird cycle of events.

Special Jury Prize—Live Action

MTHUNZI (DIR Tebogo Malebogo)

Jury Statement: “Centered on a chance encounter, MTHUNZI gives an intimate and powerful glance into the intricacies of unconscious bias. Beautifully captured, grounded performances and daring choices on behalf of the filmmaker left the jury stirred by this gentle narrative.”

Mthunzi becomes caught up in a world he does not belong to while walking home from the shops.

Special Jury Prize—Live Action

LIBERTY (DIR Faren Humes)

Jury Statement: “First-time actors deliver breakthrough performances under the steady guidance of director Faren Humes in this absorbing and exquisite short. The jury was impressed by its kinetic energy, its economic storytelling, and its probing yet compassionate tone.”

Alex and Milagros deal with great life upheaval as they prepare to dance at their community’s redevelopment groundbreaking ceremony.

 Grand Jury Prize—Animation

SOMETHING TO REMEMBER (DIR Niki Lindroth von Bahr)

Jury Statement: “We’re pleased to give the Grand Jury Prize in Animation to SOMETHING TO REMEMBER for its tender yet critical response to the world around us, and its perfect execution. This irresistible short transforms bittersweet anxieties into a modern lullaby — we couldn’t take our eyes off of it.”

 A lullaby before the great disaster.

Grand Jury Prize—Documentary (tie)

A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA (DIR Sophia Nahli Allison)

Jury Statement: “We are honored to award the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary filmmaking to A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA. It’s haunting and poetic exploration of a young woman’s life cut tragically short allows its audience to experience an injustice long hidden by time and politics. This film is a portrait framed by beautiful imagery, loving recollection and astonishing storytelling that will linger with the audience long after the credit roll.”

A dreamlike archive in conversation with the past and the present reimagines a more nuanced narrative of Latasha Harlins by excavating intimate and poetic memories shared by her cousin and best friend.

Grand Jury Prize—Documentary (tie)

THE CLINIC (DIR Elivia Shaw)

Jury Statement: “A gripping, harrowing peek into one corner of a vast epidemic, Elivia Shaw’s THE CLINIC is striking for the sensitivity and nuance with which it treats its subjects — both the people who come to Dr. Marc Lashner’s mobile needle exchange looking for help, and the scrappy team of volunteers who do what they can to offer it.”

Amidst a devastating opioid epidemic, a needle exchange and free clinic operate in the shadows of Fresno, California.

FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHTS
This year’s festival showcased the best in global cinema due to the visionary support of Audi — now in its 16th consecutive year as Presenting Sponsor of the festival.

The complete AFI FEST program included 143 titles (81 features, 1 episodic, 40 shorts, 21 AFI Conservatory Showcase Shorts) of which 51% were directed by women. This year’s program represented 52 countries and included 8 official International Feature Film Oscar® submissions as well as 3 World Premieres. The total film breakdown by section was: Galas (6), Tributes (5), Special Screenings (9), New Auteurs (24), World Cinema (16), Midnight (2), Cinema’s Legacy (5), Documentary Films & Encore Screenings (15), Short Films (40) and AFI Conservatory Showcase (21).

The many highlights of the festival include Conversations with Peter Morgan and Martin Scorsese; the Indie Contenders Roundtable with Awkwafina (THE FAREWELL), Sterling K. Brown (WAVES), Cynthia Erivo (HARRIET), Jimmie Fails (THE LAST BLACK MAN IN SAN FRANCISCO), Jon Hamm (THE REPORT), Florence Pugh (FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY and MIDSOMMAR), Kerry Washington (AMERICAN SON) and Alfre Woodard (CLEMENCY); the Doc Roundtable with filmmakers Alex Gibney (CITIZEN K), Eva Orner (BIKRAM: YOGI, GURU, PREDATOR), Steven Bognar (AMERICAN FACTORY), Roger Ross Williams (THE APOLLO), Feras Fayyad (THE CAVE), Waad Al-Kateab (FOR SAMA), Lauren Greenfield (THE KINGMAKER) and Nanfu Wang (ONE CHILD NATION); a conversation with Eva Longoria and Dr. Stacy Smith on the Erasure of Latinx in Film and a conversation with Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, and Suan Ruskin, Dean of the AFI Conservatory and EVP of the AFI Institute, exclusively for the AFI Fellows.

Additional guests and artists who attended the festival included Mahershala Ali, Gillian Anderson, Kathy Bates, Noah Baumbach, Beyoncé, Helena Bonham Carter, Simone Boyce, James. L. Brooks, Chinonye Chukwu, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Olivia Colman, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Laura Dern, Mati Diop, Snoop Dogg, Erin Doherty, Clint Eastwood, Flea, Harrison Ford, François Girard, Tom Harper, Paul Walter Hauser, Aldis Hodge, Joshua Jackson, Daniel Kaluuya, Jack Kilmer, John Lithgow, Melina Matsoukas (AFI Class of 2005), Fernando Meirelles, Tobias Menzies, Josh O’Connor, Edward James Olmos, Clive Owen, Dev Patel, Natalie Portman, Rob Reiner, Rihanna, Sam Rockwell, Evan Ross, Tracey Ellis Ross, Kelly Rowland, Howard Shore, Molly Sims, Jada Pinkett Smith, Bryan Stevenson, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Sam Taylor-Johnson, Chuck Todd, Maryam Touzani, Jodie Turner-Ross, Lena Waithe, Tallulah Belle Willis, and Zendaya.

Audi was the exclusive presenting sponsor of AFI FEST 2019. Additional top sponsors included Apple, AT&T and American Airlines, the official airline of AFI.

 About the American Film Institute (AFI)

Established in 1967, the American Film Institute is the nation’s non-profit organization dedicated to educating and inspiring artists and audiences through initiatives that champion the past, present, and future of the moving image. AFI’s pioneering programs include filmmaker training at the AFI Conservatory; year-round exhibition at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center and at AFI Festivals across the nation; workshops aimed at increasing diversity in the storytelling community; honoring today’s masters through the AFI Life Achievement Award and AFI AWARDS; and scholarly efforts such as the AFI Catalog of Feature Films that uphold film history for future generations.  Read about all of these programs and more at AFI.com and follow us on social media at Facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, youtube.com/AFI, twitter.com/American Film and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.

About AFI FEST presented by Audi

Now in its 33rd year, AFI FEST presented by Audi is a world-class event, showcasing the best films from across the globe to captivated audiences in Los Angeles. With a diverse and innovative slate of programming, the eight-day festival presents screenings, panels and conversations, featuring both master filmmakers and new voices. World premieres, Galas and other special events take place at iconic LA locations, such as the historic TCL Chinese Theatre and the glamorous Hollywood Roosevelt. This year’s edition takes place November 14-21, 2019. Additional information about AFI FEST is available at AFI.com/AFIFEST. Connect with AFI FEST at facebook.com/AFIFEST, twitter.com/AFIFEST and youtube.com/AFI.

About Audi

Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands, delivering about 1.812 million vehicles globally in 2018. In the U.S., Audi of America sold nearly 224,000 vehicles in 2018. 2019 marks 50 years for the brand in the U.S. Visit audiusa.com or media.audiusa.com for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.

Sponsor Audi

(Source: AFI FEST press release)

Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver Tabbed for SBIFF Outstanding Performers of the Year Award

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Santa Barbara Film Festival Outstanding Performers of the Year Award honoring Scarlett Johansson & Adam Driver

Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced today that Tony Award winner Scarlett Johansson and Tony and Academy Award nominee Adam Driver will receive the Outstanding Performers of the Year Award for their critically acclaimed work in Noah Baumbach’s MARRIAGE STORY, which will be released in theaters and on Netflix December 6, 2019. Johansson and Driver will be honored at the Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, CA on Friday, January 17th.

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Roger Durling, SBIFF’s Executive Director.

“Scarlett and Adam have had such admirable arcs to their careers – making smart choices between independent films and big Hollywood franchises. They both are such lyrical performers, imbuing their acting with keen sensitivity and intellect. Together in Baumbach’s MARRIAGE STORY they regaled us with their best work to date,” says Roger Durling, SBIFF’s Executive Director.

The Outstanding Performers of the Year Award recognizes select individuals who have distinguished themselves with exceptional performances in film this past year. Past recipients of the award include Rami Malek, Margot Robbie and Allison Janney, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, Brie Larson and Saoirse Ronan, Steve Carell, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Viola Davis, James Franco, Colin Firth, Penelope Cruz, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, Heath Ledger, Kate Winslet and Charlize Theron.

The 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival will take place January 15th through 25th, 2020.

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Indie Contenders Inform and Entertain at AFI FEST 2019

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The AFI FEST sponsored by Audi Summit Indie Contenders took place on Sunday, November 17, 2019, inside the Roosevelt Hotel Ballroom. Presented by The Hollywood Reporter, moderated and created by columnist and blogger Scott Feinberg, the annual panel featured a 90+ minute discussion with major talent from the AFI FEST 2019 lineup and recent releases, including Awkwafina, Jon Hamm, Florence Pugh, and Alfre Woodard.

AFI FEST Director, Michael Lumpkin welcomed the room with brief introductory remarks. Feinberg prepped the audience for the program and warmly introduced each panelist. While the panel focused on its members, a powerful undercurrent pulsed with each film’s potent messaging. Feinberg provided a monetary definition of an indie production of 22.5 million dollars.

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Actress Awkwafina, left, addresses the issues of being an American and working on films Crazy Rich Asians and The Farewell, with Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg at the AFI Summit, November 17, 2019, at the Roosevelt Hotel Ballroom in Hollywood, Calif.. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)

Each panelist discussed issuers related to working on an independent film and their importance in the age of the massive budgeted “Hollywood blockbuster” studio projects based on comic book narratives steeped with heavy doses of computer-generated imaging. Not surprisingly, the talent present represented some of the year’s most thought-provoking films of the year.

The film’s and talent on this year’s panel were Alfre Woodard (Clemency), Jon Hamm (The Report), Awkwafina (The Farewell), Sterling K. Brown (Waves), Jimmie Fails (Last Black Man in San Francisco), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Kerry Washington (American Son), and Florence Pugh (Fighting with Family, Midsommar).

AFI FEST 2019 sponsored by Audi continues through Thursday, November 21, 2019. See AFI.com for the festival’s full schedule and ticketing.

 

 

 

 

 

AFI and Audi debut “Changing the Chairs” #AFIFEST2019

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI and Audi continue to champion female directors in films and television through the campaign “Changing the Chairs.”

51% of the films at AFI FEST 2019 presented by Audi are directed by women.

Making its debut at this year’s AFI FEST presented by Audi, “Changing the Chairs” will celebrate, embrace and recognize the change happening now within the industry – more women directing big budget films, more women in leadership positions and more opportunities for women to share their perspective.

To share the #ChangingTheChairs campaign with all audiences during the festival, AFI and Audi are lifting up female directors and sharing their responses to a very important question: “What changes when a woman sits in the director’s chair?” From increasing underrepresented voices to creating more complex storytelling, the answers show the transformative effects of having a woman in the director’s chair.

“Having a woman sit in the director’s chair will inspire generations of little girls to conquer that chair one day too. Having many WOMEN taking these seats, will guarantee equality and diversity in storytelling perspectives and representation.” – Oran Zegman, Director (MARRIAGE MATERIAL, THE MUSICAL!)

“Everything. Everything changes when a woman sits in a director’s chair.  A female director provides female characters with depth and a refreshing and accurate depiction of how life is lived. Women need to be in the director’s chair because we’re in a time where women need to be heard, represented and defended. – Isabella Issa, Director (YELLOW GIRL AND ME)

 

Changing Chairs
“Changing the Chairs” art exhibit inside the Roosevelt Hotel Lobby at the 2019 AFI FEST sponsored by Audi. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)

51% of the films at AFI FEST 2019 presented by Audi are directed by women.

 

In 2018, 4.5% of the 100 top-grossing films were directed by women.

In 2019, upwards to 14% of the 100 top-grossing films this year will be directed by women.

 

Sponsor Audi

(Sourced from AFI.com)

 

Eva Longoria and the Erasure of LatinX

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Actor/Director/Producer/Activist (ad infinitem), Mexican-American, businesswoman Eva Longoria, took the stage with Dr. Stacy Smith, an Associate Professor of Communication, Annenberg School at the University at Southern California, for an insightful and informative talk on the culturally relevant issue of film’s role in shaping LatinX stereotypes at the The Erasure of LatinX as part of this year’s AFI SUMMIT at the Roosevelt Hotel Ballroom, Friday, November 15th. AFI FEST, presented by Audi, is in its 33rd year.

Due to moving pictures allowing for the suspension of disbelief, most viewers come to believe the images on the screen are real-life representations. Dr. Smith, an empirical data specialist on the current trends and the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the Hollywood film industry, argued the representation of the LatinX community has fallen by 4.5% from last year. Longoria added these LatinX representations are mostly sinister characters and are defining LatinX, in conjunction with conservative political rhetoric, to rural and suburban Americans.

This is not a good representation especially if one believes in the dynamics of a free market and the effects of the invisible hand. According to Longoria, as LatinX resists assimilating into society and remains typecast as criminals in Hollywood film, a shift in policy is needed to allow for Hispanics to participate in the American Dream. These are not issues for most laypeople. For Longoria, however, they are career-defining. With a life and career as diverse as any in the lore of Hollywood, Longoria has focused her laser-like acumen into providing a voice for the Mexican-American community with a powerful and dynamic undertaking, UnbeliEVAble Entertainment, based out of Mountain View, Calif. Already deluged with LatinX works from authentic writers, directors, and producers, Longoria envisions a production house showcasing LatinX films centered around family and love.

Steeped in activism and cured with exposure, Longoria, claiming to have an insight into LatinX (no argument here), is driven to succeed. According to IMDb, Longoria possesses 55 actress credits, 22 producer credits, and 12 director credits. Currently, helming and developing two conceptual projects, The Flaming Cheeto, a Horatio-Algereques take on the development of the product bearing the same name and a bigger budgeted, comedy, feature film, 24-7. Greenlighted by Universal Pictures, 24-7, starring Longoria and cohort, Kerry Washington, and written by Sarah Rothschild, tells a tale of a group of accountants banding together against their firm’s male colleagues to solve a fraud case that will save their jobs

One thing I know for sure, it’s an exciting time to be involved in film with talent like Eva Longoria in the room! AFI FEST 2019, presented by Audi, continues through November 21st. Stay tuned for the upcoming Indie Contenders Panel and the Documentary Filmmaker Roundtable. Until then, I’ll see you at the movies!

 

Thai Night Reception at American Film Market 2019

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Thai Night at American Film Market 2019, took place on Friday, November 8th, 2019, at the Colonnade Ballroom, Hotel Casa Del Mar, Santa Monica, California, hosted by the Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce, Royal Thai Government. Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi of Thailand, graciously presided over Thai Night, an evening filled with ambiance and the Thai Royal Princess’s presence as the door to a brilliant and captivating film industry opened.

One of my top World Cinema films comes from Thailand and Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul the 2010 Cannes Palme d’Or winner,  UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES – a layered film delving into the human condition, transformation and annihilation. Since then, the Thai film industry has exploded expanding exponentially becoming the top producing cinema in the region.

In addition to Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi and the Thai Dance Troup, the top eight Thai film companies were on display to inform about filming in Thailand and to showcase Thai films during a cocktail and networking reception. Thai inspired finger foods and canapés and specially crafted Thai Mocktails were all the rage followed by a Thai Select Buffet line. For those who aren’t familiar with the work being done in Thailand, now is an excellent time to check it out!

(To note: One of the first deals announced out of AFM, NEON landed North American rights to Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s latest film, MEMORIA.)

 

 

 

 

Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies

Thai HollywoodGlee
Larry Gleeson

*Featured Photo: Her Royal Highness Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya Sirivadhana Barnavadi of Thailand (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

FILM REVIEW: The Lighthouse (Eggers, 2019)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The Lighthouse Poster

Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe star as two lightkeepers, Ephraim Winslow and Thomas Wake, trying to survive and maintain their sanity on a mysterious island while living at a remote, New England lighthouse in the 1890s, in The Lighthouse, directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch). Evoking such seafaring literary classics by Herman Mehlville (Moby Dick) and Ernest Hemingway (Old Man and the Sea) as the film opens with an almost square aspect ratio (1.19:1) harkening back to early cinema. The effect is at once claustrophobic and mysteriously out of place.

In a traditional narrative fashion, the characters are introduced and established. Winslow, a strapping, mysterious, young man of few words and who appears to have a troubled past claiming a work history as a Canadian lumberjack is the hired help (wickie) under contract for four weeks with hopes of moving up the ladder and someday hoping to become a lighthouse operator like his housemate Wake, a salty, crusty archetypal seaman. Wake comes across as an experienced sea hand with knowledge of sailor life and mythology who has the inexplicable behavior of farting loudly much to Winlow’s chagrin. Moreover, Wake treats Winslow harshly despite Winlsow’s unswerving dedication to carrying out the chores, emptying chamber pots and swabbing the floor repeatedly to Wake’s unending condemnation.

The two work together, sleep together and eat together. Winslow refrains from alcohol until a storm begins pounding the lighthouse. Together the two imbibe, dance, sing and became Marry. Soon, however, a darkness creeps in and the two men vie for control of the lighthouse. Also, Wake refuses Winslow access to the lantern room atop the lighthouse. Intrigued a jealous Winslow begins spying on Wake’s ritualistic time in front of the massive light bulb and becomes infatuated with Wake’s unearthly obsession. The two lighthouse keepers engage in an escalating battle of wills in a tension-fed, trapped scenario with mysterious forces, real or imagined, looming while a seemingly never-ending storm rages outside, leaving the men stranded.

Eggers uses several crew members from The Witch including cinematographer Jarin Blaschke, production designer Craig Lathrop, costume designer Linda Muir, composer Mark Korven, and editor, Louise Ford, to transport the audience into a realm of terrifying unknown. The cinematography is nothing short of spectacular as the lighting and framing create a sense of the paranormal. And, the production design along with the costuming transports the viewer, via the suspension of disbelief, into the time of the 1890s capturing the harshness of the film’s setting. Furthermore, Pattinson and DaFoe play off of each other very well. But, in my opinion, the attention to detail with the sound design including foghorn, seagulls, waves, machinery, and furnace, lend strong credence to the film’s reality.

The stormy night is when the film goes into warp drive and provides a catalyst for all the odd and unusual behavior to come alive and take over the film’s consciousness. Eggers’s use of black and white allows for the utmost effect in facial lines and scene shadowing. These scenes have a supernatural, expressionistic appearance as the film delves into insanity. What emerges is a tragic Greek myth (it begins with a capital P). Highly recommended!

 

Nashville Film Festival’s 50th Anniversary Wrap-Up

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival has come and gone. New friends were made. Good times were had. And, most importantly, wonderful films were shared.

The 2019 Nashville Film Festival featured over 300 of the year’s best independent films from all over the world. But the one that captured my heart was Nashville’s own Bluebird, Brian Loschiavo’s mesmerizing documentary about The Bluebird Cafe, an accidental landmark that changed the course of music history with its Sunday audition nights and implementation of the “in The Round” method, whereby, writers sit in the center of The Bluebird singing, taking turns and telling stories. A must-see!

JoJoRabbit opened the festival and set the bar for quality entertainment. The Opening Night Party piggybacked onto Taika Waititi’s moving WWII drama, featuring Scarlett Johansson, Roman Griffin Thomas, and Thomasin McKenzie, with a celebration at The Clementine. Executive Director Jason Padgitt welcomed festivalgoers and without adieu, turned the satge over to some of Nashville’s hot, rising talent. If there’s one thing in particular, Nashville does well, it’s entertain!

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Singer/songwriter Lauren Jenkins performs at The Clementine to kick off the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)

Out of the fire and into the ashes, a phoenix rising in the form of the Creators Conference ushered in opening weekend with its combined mojo of professional development and festival-style kinetic energy. Friday, October 4, 2019, Evolve Studio, a start-up venture from brothers, Joel and Jessie Edwards, who shared their exerience and hope working and creating in Nashville, personified the Creators spirit.

Friday night Chuck Berry, directed by Ron Brewer, made its world premiere at the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival, Friday, October 4, 2019, Regal Hollywood ScreenX & RPX Cinema – Nashville. Berry, an extraordinary entertainer, ushered in the era of rock-n-roll, with a showmanship that has often been imitated and rarely duplicated. Rock legend, Alice Cooper appeared in the film saying Mr. Berry created a blueprint for what rock-n-roll should be with his pioneering style. Highly recommended!

Berry Family
The Berry Family on the red carpet at the 50th Nashville Film Festival (Photo courtesy of NashFilm)
Bery Fam
The Berry Family on the red carpet at the 50th Nashville Film Festival (Photo courtesy of NashFilm)

Saturday was highlighted by a keynote panel with HBO’s Len Amato and Evyen J. Klean, providing key insights into how ideas are chosen by the network giant and brought to life. Johnathon Shcaech and Jessica Barth’s #METOO panel, and an all-star comedy panel were just a few highlights from day three.

The girls from NashFilm’s Living Reel Project debuted their song and short created for the festival. The Livin’ Reel Program, gives at-risk teens a hands-on experience in filmmaking and songwriting. During the project, a group of teens dedicates after-school hours to write a song telling the story of their strength and the struggles they have overcome. By the end of their production week, they have a finished song and a short film documenting their entire process. This film is then taken on the road to the Nashville Film Festival and various TV/radio interviews where their work and proven strength within adversity is celebrated.

‘Who’s The Girl? The Ashley Cleveland’ had a sell-out crowd on day four.

Who's the Girl
Cast of Who’s the Girl? at the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival (Photo by Donny Evan)
Music Supervisors
The Music Supervisors at the 50th Nashville Film Festival Opening Night After Party (Photo courtesy of NashFilm)

Cat Rhinehart and Lahna Turner screened the world premiere of What’s Eating Ralphie May. 

For Turner, the event allowed for a sense of closure. “The Nashville Film Festival was the perfect place to premiere what’s Eating Ralphie May? Nashville was one of Ralphie’s favorite cities but even more significant is that the premiere took place on the day after the two year anniversary of Ralphie’s passing. Ralphie would have been very proud that we were able to remember and honor him with this amazing film.

For me the premiere allowed me to close some doors and open new ones. I haven’t been back to Nashville since having to do some very painful things like clean out our home, so it felt really nice to return to a town that I love so much to celebrate and create new happy memories.”

Rhinehart echoed, “I thought Nashville’s 50th was the perfect time and place to premiere. Ralphie loved Nashville – and he talks about it in the film. I could tell the audience felt that affinity – so I couldn’t imagine a better fit. Ralphie would have been proud.”

What’s Eating Ralphie May won an audience award and received a third screening with the Best of Fest lineup, Saturday, August 12th. Highly recommended!

Cat Turner
Comedian Lahna Turner, left, and Filmmaker Cat Rhinehart on the red carpet, October 7th, 2019, at the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival. (Photo credit: Donny Evan)

The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash also screened at 6 pm. posing quality of life issues for many festivalgoers, including myself. I put this one on my list of films to see and it received tearful admiration from more than one fan.

Cash Red Carpet
John Carter Cash on the red carpet at the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival (Photo by Donny Evan)

NashFilm also hosted the Tennessee premiere of Bluebird with Amy Grant, Tenille Townes, Shane McAnally, Lori McKenna, Callie Khouri, Ruby Amanfu, Tony Arata, Dave Barnes, Steve Buchanan, Gary Burr, Roger Cook, Barry Dean, Tom Douglas, Mark Germino, Don Henry, Claude Kelly, Luke Laird, and more coming out to support the Nashville film. Filmmaker Brian A. Loschiavo welcomed the sold-out house with an outpouring of emotion, “This is so overwhelming to see a spirited group in the room with songwriters and bluebirds as we make our official Nashville premiere. There is a real community in this town (Nashville). Thank you for coming out to hear and see the music and songs. We are family.”

Bluebird
The filmmaking team of Bluebird on the red carpet at the 50th Nashville Film Festival (Photo credit by Donny Evan)
Charlie
The ABC Nashville television series star and producer team on the red carpet for the Tennessee premiere of Bluebird at the Nashville Film Festival (Photo by Donny Evan)

The Screenwriting Competition took place on Tuesday with over 1600 entries. A slew of readers provided a treatment of all the finalists’ work. Mo Morgan took honors in the Narrative Feature and Kelly Anelons took home honors in the Comedy Feature category.

Mo Morgan
Mo Morgan poses for a photo after receiving the trophy for Best Narrative Feature for his screenplay, Sight, in the 2019 Nashville Film Festival’s Screenwriting Contest. (Photo courtesy of NashFilm)
Kelly A
Kelly Anelons poses for a photo after receiving the trophy for her Best Comedy Feature screenplay, Life’s a Beaut, in the 2019 Nashville Film Festival’s Screenwriting Contest. (Photo courtesy of NashFilm)

Eternal Winter took home the Festival Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature. Beautifully shot film complete with powerful acting and strong production values. Highly recommended. Another top narrative feature, in my opinion, was Alice, a bold and audacious drama delving into the female psyche from start to finish. See the full list of Jury winners here.

The closing night party was held at The Valentine in downtown Nashville. The festival continued into Saturday with the “Best of the Fest” films running all day Saturday, Oct. 12. On the list – HollywoodGlee makes Feedspot Top 20 Hollywood Blogs. Thank you, Anuj Agarwal!

Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

50th

About

The Nashville Film Festival (NashFilm) is a globally-recognized non-profit organization and cultural event presenting the best in the world cinema, American independent films and documentaries by veteran masters, up-and-coming directors, and first-time filmmakers.

With Academy Award® qualifying status, the Nashville Film Festival celebrates innovation, music and the many voices of the human spirit through the art of film. Originally founded in 1969, the Nashville Film Festival is one of the first film festivals in the United States.

*Featured photo: Larry Gleeson, left, with filmmaker Flavio Alves (The Garden Left Behind) at Best of Fest, Saturday, October 12th, 2019, at the 50th Anniversary Film Festival Nashville. (Photo credit: Giuliana Mignone)

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A Masterpiece! Brian Loschiavo’s Bluebird Receives Standing Ovation at NashFilm 2019!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Brian Loschiavo’s documentary, Bluebird, made it’s Nashville Premiere last night, October 8th, 2019 at the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival receiving a standing ovation for the filmmakers from a sold out Regal Hollywood ScreenX & RPX Cinema – Nashville theatre audience. Loschiavo’s film is about The Bluebird Cafe, an accidental Nashville landmark that changed the course of music history with its Sunday audition nights and implementation of the “in The Round” method, whereby, writers sit in the center of The Bluebird singing, taking turns and telling stories.

After starting out in 1982 as a traditional, upscale, gourmet restaurant business venture by Amy Kurtland, The Bluebird morphed into Nashville’s most famous songwriters club jump starting and launching the careers of countless artists including Taylor Swift, Vince Gill, Faith Hill, Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks, Kelsea Ballerini, Kasey Musgraves, Maren Morris, Tenille Townes, Pam Tillis and Jason Isbell to name a few – all of whom appear in the film. The documentary also features interviews and/or performances of these stars inside or about their experiences inside The Bluebird.

The genesis of the film emanated from a conversation approximately two and a half years ago between Loschiavo (Riverside Entertainment) and the Bluebird Cafe Manager, Erika Wollam Nichols. While the venue had been portrayed in Callie Khouri’s ABC hit drama, Nashville, incredulously, no one had made a film about the Nashville “songwriters-in-the-round” at The Bluebird Cafe. Nichols, who had been running the restaurant for more than a decade, felt a film telling the story of the artists and the spirit of the community was important. As one of the cast members eloquently said, “Nashville wouldn’t be Nashville without The Bluebird.”

Technically, the film is a gem. Seamless editing, harmonious non-diegetic background music combined with the film’s mise-en-scene evoked a moment of self-awareness and the suspension of disbelief. Cinematographer Jeff Molyneaux captures artists’ frames with precision belying the challenges he faced. Anyone who has seen the performances of the songwriters-in-the-round at work might imagine a special production set was built to the very minutia detail of the cafe’s interior (as in the ABC Nashville series wth Charles Esten) allowing Molyneaux to set up his shoot. Years from now, film professors will prod their student to explain how the shots were executed in the live, at-capacity space.

Setting aside the spectacular techniques utilized, the film has a spiritual life of its own mirroring the songwriters, The Bluebird personnel, the artists who perform and the physical structure of the venue. With an atmospheric of a living room and a church sanctuary, artists from Faith Hill to Garth Brooks espouse the nurturing nature of The Bluebird. Fifteen year-old Landon Wall is also featured in the film performing in the venue several times as he honed his craft. In addition, Maren Morris hearkens the Holy Ghost in a powerful performance of “My Church” evoking memories of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” And, more than one tear was shed as Tenille Townes and Taylor Swift performed “Jersey on the Wall” and “Better Man,” respectively.

With irrefutable evidence accumulated over the years in the form of testimonies, The Bluebird is hallowed ground. It had been a best kept secret. After its depiction in the ABC Nashville television series, The Bluebird has become a mecca for songwriters and travelers alike from around the globe hoping to get a taste and glimpse of the establishment. It has also made songwriting cool. A groovy profession. Despite Amy Kurland’s effort to safeguard The Bluebird and its legacy by turning it over to the Nashville Songwriters Association International on January 1, 2008, a real estate developer has purchased the strip mall where The Bluebird is located.

A mesmerizing documentary about the Holy Grail of country music, Bluebird is a masterpiece. Best seen on the big screen…. A must-see film! Coming out with a limited release November 15.

FILM REVIEW: Lost Bayou (Brian C. Miller Richard, 2019)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Lost Bayou, a film from Director/Producer Brian C. Miller Richard, made its Southeast Premiere at the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival. Lost Bayou is a poetic portrait of a Cajun Traiteur and life out in the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest river swamp in the United States. Richard set out to make a film about Cajun life in the Basin having grown up and lived there most of his life. Nick Lavin and Hunter Burke wrote the screenplay that deals with a young woman, who appears to have an addiction, and her connection with her faith-healing father.

The film opens with a piece of footage bordering on the macabre that sets the tone as a man in a swamp states he was declared legally dead by a medical doctor only to wake up with a man kneeling over him praying. A fade to black transition reveals the story’s main character, Gal, portrayed by Teri Wyble, in a vehicle popping a pill and chasing it down with a swig of hard liquor. She asks the driver to wait for her as she exits the vehicle. The driver pulls away hurriedly. Apparently, Gal forgot what day it was and missed her young son’s birthday.

A fortuitous call comes in from Gal’s father, Pop, portrayed by Dane Rhodes. Pop speaks with a Cajun dialect and requests that Gal come home as her mother has a serious complication. The only issue is Gal’s mother has been deceased for two years. Gal finally agrees after Pop’s insistence. After the call ends, a bird flies into Gal’s door. Gal picks up the lifeless bird and takes it to the water whereupon a surreal moment takes place with a French prayer and the bird begins moving under its own power.

Needless to say, when Gal gets down to Pop’s floating raft-house the situation is about life and death and who decides who can cross the divide and when. Pop feels the swamp allows for better communication with his God, whereas Gal believes not knowing and not believing “ain’t such a bad thing.” Along the way, several tense moments and sharp camera operation kept my attention focused and the life in the bayou is revealed in a southern gothic style. Life on the bayou has its unique ways and Richard manages to let us in on it stylistically.

The film’s production values are strong. Exquisite cinematography from Natalie Kingston, production design by Mark and Matthew Whittle, and Mehgan Cornay’s costuming deliver an ethereal feel to the film while realistically capturing life in the region. The musical score was provided by the Grammy award-winning Lost Bayou Ramblers. The Ramblers are known predominantly for their acoustic Cajun style and seem to hit the right notes and melodies to drive the emotionality of the film’s scenes. The editing team of Richard and Robert Grigsby Wilson stitch and weave images in a seamless continuity. And, from an acting standpoint, Wyble does most of the heavy lifting. Rhodes adds a powerful presence honed from his theatrical stage work and the ensemble cast worked very well.

In the Q & A following the film, Richard revealed the inner workings of the project. Numerous members of the team had close relatives working on set including Richard’s own father. With a run time of 87 minutes, the film seemed a tad short….probably because I wanted to see more!

Highly recommended!

FILM REVIEW: What’s Eating Ralphie May?

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Cat Rhinehart’s documentary, What’s Eating Ralphie May?, made its world premiere at the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival. “I thought Nashville’s 50th was the perfect time and place to premiere. Ralphie loved Nashville – and he talks about it in the film. I could tell the audience felt that affinity – so I couldn’t imagine a better fit. Ralphie would have been proud,” said Rhinehart.

Ralphie May was an American stand-up comedian known for his extensive touring and television comedy specials. Ralphie appeared to be living the American Dream with a beautiful wife, Lahna Turner, and two perfect children. May suffered from obesity. He loved making people laugh. And, people loved Ralphie in return.

Rhinehart began documenting May as he set out to lose weight. He asked his lovely wife, Lahna, to help him. Turner could see a bright future with a successful documentary and possibly a book deal for Ralphie. After losing 300 pounds from a starting point of 800 pounds, Ralphie plateaued. Unable to get through, he turned to pain medicine to alleviate his suffering. He decided not to have weight loss surgery.

After Ralphie landed a year-long contract to perform in Las Vegas, tensions became unbearable. Lahna decided to focus on herself. One night after a show Ralphie came back to his room and fell smashing his skull on a table on the way down. Shocked and bewildered, Turner and Rhinehart dedicated the footage they had and decided to honor Ralphie with What’s Eating Ralphie May?

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Utilizing traditional documentary filmmaking techniques, including archival footage, direct interviews and still photographs, Rhinehart traces Ralphie’s early life including his difficult childhood in Arkansas, his fascination with comedian Sam Kinison, his runner-up finish debacle in Jay Mohr’s Last Comic Standing in 2003 and documents his marital strife.

Following Ralphie’s untimely death, Rhinehart decided to interview Ralphie and Lahna’s daughter for the film. When asked if she wanted to say anything about her dad, she replied, “I love my dad and hope he feels better now that he’s out of that body.” Lahna continues to perform her stand-up comedy.

What’s Eating Ralphie May? is more than direct cinema. It’s an important film documenting and illuminating issues about marital relationships and obesity, and how people deal with them. Ralphie’s New York Times obituary read that he died of hypertensive cardiovascular disease. No mention was made of Ralphie suffering from obesity, a complex disease involving an excessive amount of body fat. Ralphie confesssed to Lahna he didn’t want to be fat. Lahna wanted Ralphie to get healthy.

Unfortunately, the film never quite answers the question of what caused Ralphie’s addiction to food. Instead, it portrays Lahna as a victim (which she denies vociferously) unable to do for Ralphie what he couldn’t do for himself. Ralphie opted to continue working, doing what he loved most, making people laugh, despite – or maybe in spite of – his unhealthy obesity.

Highly recommended film.

 

 

NashFilm’s 50th Anniversary is Making Memories

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival is showing hot films while the temperatures are cooling. Try the Nashville Film Festival App and Plan Your Fest! Find it the App stores.

Fest in style with a VIP Badge! Available here: NashFilm

 

Check out a few of yesterday’s candid shots!

Kate and Jan

Upcoming Hot Tickets

Mars

The Sheriff of Mars | Directed by Jason Ressler, Matthew Woolf
Mon, Oct 7, 1:30 PM

This is an uplifting tale of the musical redemption of a lovable, complex artist who exudes a magical and unique authenticity. Daniel Antopolsky is a country singer/songwriter who was discovered in France when he was 65. He had with him “he had 500 of the best songs no one had ever heard”. Today, he has released 4 albums with major media attention and toured the world with his music. Watch his rise as a Nashville recording artist and concert musician. TICKETS

Lost Bayou

Lost Bayou | Directed by Brian C. Miller Richard
Mon. Oct 7, 6:30 PM
Tues. Oct 8, 12:00 PM

In this hauntingly evocative Southern Gothic mystery, a struggling addict ventures into the Louisiana swampland to reconnect with her faith healer father, only to discover he is hiding a troubling secret aboard his houseboat. TICKETS

Wall of Mexico

The Wall of Mexico| | Directed by Zachary Cotler, Magdalena Zyzak
Mon. Oct 7, 7:30 PM

Veteran actors Esai Morales and Mariel Hemingway join with some newcomers to spin a fantasy about rich Mexicans turning the tables on poor white people. Inspired by the Trump Presidency, The Wall of Mexico premiered at SXSW is a role-reversing fantasy about a wealthy Mexican-American family that decides to build a wall to deter the intrusion of poor white people in the vicinity. TICKETS

Rodman

SCREAM, QUEEN! MY NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET | Directed by Roman Chimienti, Tuler Jensen
Tues. Oct 8, 6:00 PM

Mark Patton travels to horror conventions across the U.S. Each new city unwraps a chapter from his life that is met with equal parts joyful and bittersweet detail, as he attempts to make peace with his past and embrace his legacy as cinema’s first male “scream queen.” TICKETS

Berry Hill

Berry Hill | Directed by Buzz Cason and Mark Harper
Tues. Oct. 8, 2:30 PM 

Nashville‘s Berry Hill, now home to 40 music studios, took off when Buz Cason opened Creative Workshop there in 1970. He quickly recorded five number one hits by the Gatlin Brothers, and followed up with top artists like Gene Cotton, Kim Carnes, Dottie West, Kenny Rogers, the Doobie Brothers, Olivia Newton-John, Roy Orbison, The Faces, Merle Haggard, Leon Russell, Elvis Presley and more. The studio, known now as Blackbird, is owned by John McBride, and is one of Nashville’s premier recording studios, sound engineer schools and equipment rental companies. TICKETS

Bluebird

Bluebird | Directed by Brian Loschiavo
Still Tickets Available
Tues. Oct. 8, 5:30 PM / 7:00 PM / 7:15 PM / Sat. Oct. 12, 12 PM

It was 1982, and Amy Kurland, a 27-year-old culinary school graduate, was opening a café in the strip mall of an upscale Nashville suburb. She had no idea it would eventually become the most influential listening room in America. Over the next three decades, with Amy’s unwavering passion to showcase and nurture new talent, this unassuming venue would help birth legendary careers of Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, Vince Gill, Taylor Swift and countless more. The film features unforgettable performances by Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, Maren Morris, Vince Gill, Jason Isbell and many more. TICKETS

Doc Shorts

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS
Documentary Shorts 1:Sun, Oct 6, 6:30 PM & Wed, Oct 9, 3:00 PM
Documentary Shorts 2: Mon. Oct 7, 12:30 PM & Tues. Oct 8, 6:00 PM

Everything You Wanted to Know About Sudden Birth* (*but were afraid to ask) is the amazing story of how the Berkeley police department, the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands, an Academy Award winner and Mr. Spock are all connected by “Sudden Birth”, one of the most unintentionally hilarious and disturbing educational films ever created.TICKETS

Lumineers

The Lumineers III | Directed by Kevin Phillips
Sat., Oct. 12, 4:30 PM

The Lumineers’ III is a visual exploration of the band’s third and latest album. In three chapters corresponding with the album’s ten tracks, we follow three generations of a working-class family in the American Northeast. TICKETS

See you at the movies!

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*Featured photo: Emmett Anderson, left, and Talya Klein, finalists for Drama Feature Screenwriting Competition

Nashville Film Fest Hosts Chuck Berry World Premiere

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Chuck Berry, directed by Ron Brewer, made its world premiere at the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival, Friday, October 4, 2019, Regal Hollywood ScreenX & RPX Cinema – Nashville. Berry, an extraordinary entertainer, ushered in the era of rock-n-roll, with a showmanship that has often been imitated and rarely duplicated.

The evening opened with a full on red carpet and Nashville hospitality. The screening was well received as the film’s director, Ron Brewer, does his homework as he shed light on the man and career that shaped and molded the British invasion during the 1960’s. The night continued with a celebratory after party at Nashville Acme Seed.

 

Bery Fam
Berry Family posing with an authentic Gibson Berry Guitar at the 50th Nashville Film Festival’s Acme Seed After Party, October 4th, 2019. The family was present for the world premiere of Ron Brewer’s documentary, Chuck Berry, Regal Hollywood ScreenX & RPX Cinema – Nashville. (Photo courtesy of NashFilm)
Acme After Party
Live entertainment at the 50th Nashville Film Festival’s Acme Seed After Party, October 4th, 2019, following th world premiere of Ron Brewer’s documentary, Chuck Berry, Regal Hollywood ScreenX & RPX Cinema – Nashville. (Photo courtesy of NashFilm)
Music Supervisors
The Music Supervisors at the 50th Nashville Film Festival’s Acme Seed After Party, October 4th, 2019, following the world premiere of Ron Brewer’s documentary, Chuck Berry, Regal Hollywood ScreenX & RPX Cinema – Nashville. (Photo courtesy of NashFilm)

Stay tuned for more as the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival is heating up as temperatures outside are coming down!

See you at the movies…..

 

NashFilm’s 50th Anniversary Is In Full Swing!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival is well into its opening weekend. The  Festival App is an excellent tool to plan the Fest! It is available in App stores. A VIP Badge offers the premium festival experience and are available.

 

Here’s a quick look at upcoming films.

Music Documentaries | Chuck Berry: Directed by John Brewer

Sunday 10/6 2:00 PM

Berry

Brewer tells the story of a black preacher’s son who managed to cross the racial divide in 1950’s America with the power of a well-crafted song and a Fender guitar, only to discover that what was on the other side held the organized prejudice of a nation. This is a highly artistic nod to Sin City that shines a light on the facts and phantoms around the story of the Granddaddy of Rock & Roll. Cast: Chuck Berry, Alice Cooper, Themetta Berry, Joe Perry, Carles Berry, Stevie Van Zandt. TICKETS

Graveyard Shift | Driven – Dark Comedy/Thriller – Directed by Glenn Payne

Driven

 

In this dark-comedy thriller, Emerson (Casey Dillard) is a ride share driver with nights full of annoyances until she picks up Roger (Richard Speight, Jr.), a mysterious out of towner on a mission to break a multi-generational curse.

This delightful movie handles jobs we hate, self-identity crisis, and coming of age tales all while slashing through legions of demons and reminding us to tip our drivers. It got snark, scares, and a whole lot of heart that pushes the boundaries of what can be done in genre films to give viewers the best ride possible. TICKETS

Documentaries | Gay Chorus: Deep South – Directed by David Charles Rodrigues

Saturday 10/5 12:00 PM

Gay Chorus

In response to a wave of anti-LGBT laws in Southern states and the divisive 2016 election, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South. Joined by allies, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, they bring a message of music, love, and acceptance to communities and individuals confronting intolerance. The journey is a celebration of the power of music. TICKETS.

Music Documentaries | Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl – Directed by Amy Goldstein

Saturday 10/5 6:30 PM
Sunday 10/6 12:30 PM

Kate Nash

Kate Nash, punk renegade, TV wrestling queen (GLOW), and DIY leader of an all-girl band forgoes money and fame to speak out about gender inequality in the music business and to embolden other young women to find their voice. Cast: Kate Nash, Alicia Warrington, Frederik Thaae, Kate Craig, Tom Biller, Jarrad Kritzstein. TICKETS.

See you at the movies!

50th

(Sourced from press releases provided by NashFest and Alexa Oliphant)

 

Nashville Film Festival Kicks Off 50th Anniversary Edition In Style

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Opening Night-1
Singer-Songwriter Lauren Jenkins in a soulful performance at the Clementine in Nashville, Tenn., at the Opening Night Gala, Thursday, October 3rd, 2019, to lift off the 50th Nashville Film Festival. The festival is set to run October 3-12, 2019. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

The 50th Nashville Film Festival is underway. Executive Director Jason Padgitt welcomed filmgoers, filmmakers and talent alike at the Clementine in Nashville, Tennessee, Thursday night……and he wasn’t alone! Padgitt provided the traditional opening remarks onstage with rising talent, singer-songwriter, Lauren Jenkins.

Opening Night-1-3
Jason Padgitt, left, introduces singer-songwriter, Lauren Jenkins, Thursday night, October 3rd, 2019, at the Clementine in Nashville, Tenn., at the Opening Night Gala for the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival with a run of October 3rd through October 12th. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

The Opening Night Film program screened Taika Waititi’s much-buzzed-about dark comedy JoJo Rabbit, which delves into the World War II-era perspective of a young German boy who is forced to reconsider the nationalism in which he was raised. The film was proceeded by a VIP tent party at the Regal Hollywood ScreenX & RPX Cinema – Nashville, home to this year’s screenings and the Creators Conference.

Opening-Night-1-3-1
VIP Hospitality at the Nashville Film Festival on Opening Night, Thursday, October 3rd, 2019, Regal Hollywood ScreenX & RPX Cinema – Nashville. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)
Opening Night-1-4
Band members from Nikki’s Wives and Veridian gather for a little fun and socializing at the 50th Nashville Film Festival on October 3rd, 2019, Regal Hollywood ScreenX & RPX Cinema – Nashville, (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)
NashFest50-1-5
Saint Luna Opening Night Cocktail Sponsor at the Regal Hollywood ScreenX & RPX Cinema – Nashville  (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)
Opening Night-1
Nashville Film Festival Sponsor Mercedez-Benz adorns the entryway of the Regal Hollywood ScreenX & RPX Cinema – Nashville  (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)
Opening Night-1-2
Regal Hollywood ScreenX & RPX Cinema – Nashville, home to this year’s screenings and the Creators Conference. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)

For more information on the 5oth Nashville Film Festival, including purchasing tickets and passes, please visit: https://nashvillefilmfestival.org/

About

The Nashville Film Festival (NashFilm) is a globally-recognized non-profit organization and cultural event presenting the best in the world cinema, American independent films and documentaries by veteran masters, up-and-coming directors, and first-time filmmakers.

With Academy Award® qualifying status, the Nashville Film Festival celebrates innovation, music and the many voices of the human spirit through the art of film. Originally founded in 1969, the Nashville Film Festival is one of the first film festivals in the United States.

*Featured photo: Bryce Bilello, Theatre Operations, Nashville Film Festival (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)

50th

Early Music-Based Docs at Nashville Are Making Sweet Vibrations

Posted by Larry Gleeson

NASHVILLE FILM FESTIVAL JUMP STARTS 50th ANNIVERSARY AND ANNOUNCES SELECT MUSIC DOCUMENTARIES INCLUDING “BLUEBIRD,” “CHUCK BERRY,” “BORN INTO THE GIG,” “COOL DADDIO,” AND “THE SHERIFF OF MARS”

The Nashville Film Festival, taking place October 3-12, 2019, announces early music documentary features for 2019, including the world premiere of “Chuck Berry” by filmmaker Jon Brewer; “Born Into the Gig” by filmmakers Kate Davis and David Heilbroner; “Cool Daddio: The Second Youth of R. Stevie Moore” from filmmakers Imogen Putler and Monika Baran; and “The Sheriff of Mars” from filmmakers Jason Ressler and Matthew Woolf.

 

The Nashville Film Festival is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, making it one of the longest running independent film festivals in the U.S. Under the new leadership of Executive Director, Jason Padgitt, the Nashville Film Festival will feature a diverse lineup of more than 250 films with an increased focus on music-based films, films from female directors and top American independent narrative feature films.

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Nashville Film Festival’s Executive Director, Jason Padgitt (Photo courtesy of NashFilm)

“The Nashville Film Festival is celebrating an incredible 50 year milestone by honoring the history of the festival while pointing the organization to a future of expanded opportunities for filmmakers worldwide and for the amazing arts community here in Tennessee,” said Nashville Film Festival’s Executive Director, Jason Padgitt. “There are so many great stories to share at this year’s festival and we’re very excited about all of the incredible films and events planned for this historic event.”

“We are thrilled to announce these music documentary titles for our 50th Festival. Each film truly complements Nashville’s wide variety of musical and artistic roots,” said Lauren Ponto, Programming Manager for the Nashville Film Festival. “We are looking forward to presenting these powerful music documentaries as just one part of our amazing full slate of films.”

 

Lauren Ponto, Programming Manager for the Nashville Film Festival
Lauren Ponto, Programming Manager for the Nashville Film Festival

“We are thrilled to announce these music documentary titles for our 50th Festival. Each film truly complements Nashville’s wide variety of musical and artistic roots,” said Lauren Ponto, Programming Manager for the Nashville Film Festival.

“We are looking forward to presenting these powerful music documentaries as just one part of our amazing full slate of films.”

 

 

Select Music Documentaries Include:

Chuck Berry: The Original King Of Rock 'N' Roll

Title: CHUCK BERRY

Dir.: Jon Brewer

Cast: Chuck Berry, Alice Cooper, Themetta Berry, Joe Perry, Charles Berry, Stevie Van Zandt

Synopsis: In this highly anticipated feature- length documentary, the absolute instigator of Rock and Roll, CHUCK BERRY is truly revealed, with exclusive access. Despite his iconic status, and reverence for his talent by rock’s heroes John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Keith Richards, Steve Van Zandt, Joe Perry, Alice Cooper) all featured, Chuck Berry was a family man. He was a prolific craftsman of word and chords; an undisputed and stunning combination of talent and charisma. Award-winning Film maker Jon Brewer (BB King The Life of Riley, Nat King Cole: Afraid of the Dark), lends new insight to the man known as the bedrock of Rock n Roll.

Premiere Status: World Premiere

BLUEBIRD

Title:     BLUEBIRD

Dir.:       Brian Loschiavo

Cast:      Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, Faith Hill, Vince Gill, Maren Morris, Jason Isbell

Synopsis: It’s where megastars like Garth Brooks, Faith Hill and Taylor Swift got their break, and where emerging singer-songwriters continue to flock for a chance to perform original material. But The Bluebird Cafe, this unassuming venue nestled in a suburban Nashville strip-mall, faces an uncertain future. Featuring unforgettable performances by Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks, Maren Morris, Vince Gill, Jason Isbell and many more, we’ll explore the past and present of this accidental landmark that has altered the course of music history.

Premiere Status: Southeast US Premiere

COOL DADDIO: THE SECOND YOUTH OF R. STEVIE MOORE

Title:     COOL DADDIO: THE SECOND YOUTH OF R. STEVIE MOORE

Dir.:       Imogen Putler, Monika Baran

Cast:      R. Stevie Moore, Mac DeMarco, Ariel Pink, Theophilus London, Tim Burgess, David Shrigley

Synopsis: Cool Daddio: The Second Youth of R. Stevie Moore tells a story of the greatest ‘undiscovered’ musical genius of all time. He has recorded 400 albums in 40 years… in his bedroom. Unique and eccentric. Unrecognized outside of a small group of music insiders, until now…

Premiere Status: US Premiere

 

Title:     BORN INTO THE GIG

Dir.:       Kate Davis and David Heilbroner

Cast:      Chris Stills, Skip Marley, Kori Withers, Ben and Sally Taylor

Synopsis: BORN INTO THE GIG tracks the children of rock stars James Taylor, Carly Simon, Bill Withers, Stephen Stills and the Marleys as they become singer- songwriters in the shadow of their legendary parents.  The path for these young artists is tricky — filled with family tension, humor, and courage as they strive to create their own music.

Premiere Status: World Premiere

THE SHERIFF OF MARS

Title:     THE SHERIFF OF MARS

Dir.:       Jason Ressler, Matthew Woolf

Cast:      Daniel Antopolsky, Townes Van Zand, Bill Hedgepeth, Sylvia Antopolsky

Synopsis: In space, no one can hear you sing…. The story of a lost singer who did everything he could not to become successful and ended up being so anyway.

Premiere Status: World Premiere

 

ABOUT NASHVILLE FILM FESTIVAL

The Nashville Film Festival is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, making it one of the longest running independent film festivals in the U.S. Under the new leadership of Executive Director, Jason Padgitt, the Nashville Film Festival will feature a diverse lineup of more than 250 films with an increased focus on music-based films, films from female directors and top American independent narrative feature films.

The Nashville Film Festival (NashFilm) is a globally-recognized non-profit organization and cultural event presenting the best in world cinema, American independent films and documentaries by veteran masters, up-and-coming directors, and first-time filmmakers. With Academy Award® qualifying status, the Nashville Film Festival celebrates innovation, music and the many voices of the human spirit through the art of film and partners with the Thompson Nashville to host guests from all over the world. Originally founded in 1969, the Nashville Film Festival is one of the first film festivals in the United States and will celebrate its 50th Anniversary in October, 2019.  For more information, visit nashfilm.org.

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(Source: NashFilm blog)

Motherless Brooklyn (Norton, 2019):USA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Viewed as part of the 46th Telluride Film Festival at the Palm Theatre. Motherless Brooklyn, a crime, drama film noir throwback by Edward Norton, tells the story of a gum shoe detective with Tourettes Syndrome, a disorder characterized by involuntary tics, investigating the death of his boss, mentor and adoptive father figure, Frank Minnis, played by Bruce Willis. Edward Norton wrote, directed, starred and produced the film.

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Edward Norton in Warner Brothers Pictures MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN. (Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures)

 

A passion project twenty years in the making, Motherless Brooklyn, attempts to re-imagine the famed film noir era. While most noir films were black and white, Norton chose to showcase his work in color. And with a cast including Leslie Mann, Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Bobby Cannavale, Alec Baldwin and Willem Dafoe, I can certainly understand and appreciate his decision with the film’s colorful characters. Norton’s performance as Lionel Essrog, the Touretted detective, reminded me of Norton’s Oscar nominated performance as Roy/Aaron in the 1996 crime drama, Primal Fear. It’s every bit as impressive though seemingly carries a lighter psychological heft.

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Alec Baldwin, left, and Edward Norton in Warner Brothers Pictures MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN. (Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures)

In Motherless Brooklyn, Lionel finds his legs in the world of detective investigations after the death/murder of his boss/mentor and adoptive father figure, Frank Minna. Driven to find the truth, Lionel navigates various scenes and worlds of New York City in the 1950’s with a rock-hard determination as the film’s peripheral characters are uninterested in who killed Frank Minna. Rather, each character has his or her selfish interests to pursue. Lionel, on the other hand, is steadfast and goes to any lengths to pursue the truth going so far as to impersonate a prominent and well-known New York Times newspaper reporter.

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Edward Norton in Warner Brothers Pictures MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN. (Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures)

Norton’s character, Lionel, carries the film from start to finish. Utilizing a traditional, signature noir element, the narrative voice-over, Lionel fills the audience in on background elements as the film dives, reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, into a world of gangland violence and shady real estate deals within a flourishing underground entertainment scene.

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw, left, and Edward Norton in Warner Brothers Pictures MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN. (Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures)

Several other aspects of the film push the work into the apex of top films. The film’s musical score by Daniel Pemberton takes a seat with the Miles Davis score in Elevator to the Gallows. Wynton Marsalis and Michael K. Williams deliver an astonishing, melodic trumpeting as Lionel and Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s character, Laura, a community, housing fairness activist, share a heartfelt, tender moment. The costuming from Amy Roth,  the cast of characters by Avy Kaufman and production design from Beth Mickle qualify the film as a solid period piece set in the 1950’s New York City. And while the mise-en-scene appears simple, it works magically with the calm, cool, polished voice-over narrative of a retrospective Lionel. Interestingly, Norton collaborated heavily with two-time Oscar nominee, Cinematographer Dick Pope.

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Edward Norton, right, and Willem Dafoe, center, in Warner Brothers Pictures MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN. (Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers Pictures)

Granted, with a A-list cast of Hollywood actors, Norton’s directorial work would seem to be a walk in the park. Yet, Norton not only directed the film, he also played the lead role adapting the Jonathan Lethem prize-winning novel of the same name to the screen, and was a major producing partner.

With a run time of 144 minutes, Motherless Brooklyn, comes in on time. Some editing and production choices allowed an emotional peek into the “broken brain” of Lionel and his coming to terms with his Tourettes that some viewers might find unsettling. Undoubtedly, the film, a Warner Brothers Picture production, is a vehicle for Edward Norton to showcase his talents. Yet, it also sheds light on a ruthless period in the urban planning of New York City providing an illumination into today’s socio-economic/political environment. Highly recommended.

 

Ford v Ferrari (Mangold, 2019):USA

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Viewed as part of the 46th Telluride Film Festival at the Werner Herzog Theatre, Ford v Ferrari (titled Le Mans ’66 in the UK and other destinations), directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line), tells the story of two obsessive artists, Matt Damon as car designer, Carroll Shelby, and Christian Bale as race car driver, Ken Miles, clashing and teaming up to build the world’s fastest race car after a verbal slight by Enzo Ferrari, owner of the then dominant Ferrari Formula One race car, towards Henry Ford II, proud Chairman of the Ford Motor Company.

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Matt Damon in Twentieth Century Fox’s FORD V. FERRARI. (Photo Credit: Merrick Morton TM and © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.)

The film is driven almost exclusively by the powerful relationship dynamic of two strongly convicted characters who know how to win and have the will to do whatever it takes to do so – even going as far as paying the ultimate price for the love and exhilaration of the race car. Director Mangold skillfully manages the competing personalities not only of the film’s lead characters but also the egos and ambitions of the peripheral players from Ford as the managerial layers come to bear on the project.

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Christian Bale in Twentieth Century Fox’s FORD V. FERRARI. (Photo Credit: Merrick Morton TM and © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Complete with a dizzying array of tightly-framed close-ups of Bales’ character, Miles, behind the wheel, the audience is treated to a smiling, charismatic professional race car driver as he handles and brings to fruition a winning racing machinery with grace and expertise with mesmerizing cinematography from Phedon Papamichael (Nebraska, Walk the Line). Meanwhile, Damon crushes his “good ‘ol boy” Shelby character, often cutting the Ford Motor Company executives off in mid-stream as his self-determination to make the world’s fastest car becomes an obsession.

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Christian Bale in Twentieth Century Fox’s FORD V. FERRARI. (Photo Credit: Merrick Morton TM and © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.)

One aspect of filmmaking often overlooked by moviegoers is the sound and the role it plays in augmenting the film’s emotional intent. With Ford v Ferrari, Sound Designer Ted Wilkinson, turns the onscreen car racing world into a virtual spin with an exceptional soundtrack putting the viewer into the driver’s seat of race car driving including several live pit stops in the heat of the LeMans ’66 racing competition.

And while Bale and Damon garner most of the screen time, four-time Golden Globe nominee, Caitrione Balfe (Outlander), keeps both lead characters in check as the boys wind up in fisticuffs as they struggle to make their shared dream a reality. In addition, Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place) carries a load as Peter Miles, Bales’ character, Ken Miles’ adoring son. Steady actor, Josh Lucas, delivers a strong performance as Leo Beebe, the Ford executive who, in trying to maintain a wholesome image for the motor company, almost single-handedly derails the project. Tracy Letts embodies the character of Henry Ford II in more than one memorable scene.

Ford v Ferrari has a fast run time of 152 minutes and is a family-friendly film produced by Chernin Entertainment and Twentieth Century Fox (now owned by Disney). The release date is scheduled for November 15, 2019, putting the film right in the heart of the Oscar race. A must-see film, I highly recommend Ford v Ferrari be experienced with an advanced cinema sound system. You’ll be glad you did!

An important note: Through a long-term partnership with a goal of creating extraordinary film experiences, Meyer Sound and the Telluride Film Festival have collaborated to bring a custom designed Meyer Sound cinema sound system to a few of the festival major venues, including the Werner Herzog Theatre.

*Featured photo: Matt Damon and Christian Bale in Twentieth Century Fox’s FORD V. FERRARI. Photo Credit: Merrick Morton TM and © 2019 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

 

Laura Dern to receive Career Achievement Award at Palm Springs

Posted by Larry Gleeson

LAURA DERN TO RECEIVE CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD AT 31st ANNUAL PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL FILM AWARDS GALA

psiff16_logo_01_360Palm Springs, CA – The 31st annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Laura Dern with the Career Achievement Award at its annual Film Awards Gala. The event, presented by American Express, sponsored by AT&T and Entertainment Tonight and hosted by Mary Hart, is scheduled for Thursday, January 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center. The festival runs January 2-13, 2020.   

 

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Harold Matzner, PSIFF Chairman

“Laura Dern is one of the most outstanding and talented actresses of her generation. Over her 40-year acting career she has brought to the screen so many memorable performances including three from this year alone in Big Little Lies, Little Women and Marriage Story,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “In Marriage Story she gives yet another career-defining and effortless performance as a successful lawyer leading her client through a divorce from her husband. It is our great honor to present the Career Achievement Award to the phenomenal Laura Dern.”

Past recipients of the Career Achievement Award include Annette Bening, Kevin Costner, Bruce Dern, Clint Eastwood, Sally Field, Morgan Freeman, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, and Spike Lee. Dern joins this year’s previously announced honorees Antonio Banderas (International Star Award, Actor), Zack Gottsagen (Rising Star Award), Jennifer Lopez (Spotlight Award), Joaquin Phoenix (Chairman’s Award), Martin Scorsese (Sonny Bono Visionary Award), Charlize Theron (International Star Award, Actress) and Renée Zellweger (Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress).

From Netflix, Marriage Story is Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Noah Baumbach’s incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together. Marriage Story debuted earlier this year at the Venice Film Festival and was awarded the Film Independent Spirit Awards’ ‘Robert Altman Award’, which is bestowed upon one film’s director, ensemble cast, and casting director. Dern was recently honored with the Actress Tribute at the IFP Gotham Awards where the film picked up an additional four awards including Best Feature, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, and the Audience Award. Marriage Story stars Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver. Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta co-star.

From Sony Pictures, writer-director Greta Gerwig has crafted a Little Women that draws on both the classic novel and the writings of Louisa May Alcott and unfolds as the author’s alter ego, Jo March, reflects back and forth on her fictional life. In Gerwig’s take, the beloved story of the March sisters-four young women each determined to live life on her own terms-is both timeless and timely.  Portraying Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth March, the film stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, and Eliza Scanlen, with Timothée Chalamet, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep. The film makes its way to North American theaters on December 25.

Laura Dern is an actress, producer, and activist, who has received numerous accolades including two Academy Awards nominations for Rambling Rose and Wild, as well as been awarded four Golden Globe awards and an Emmy Award for her work. She was honored as Best Supporting Actress for her work in both Little Women and Marriage Story at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards. Dern began her acting career with stand-out roles in the dramas Foxes, Mask and Smooth Talk. Additional credits include Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, Inland Empire, Afterburn, Enlightened, Citizen Ruth, A Perfect World, Jurassic Park, October Sky, Dr. T & the Women, I Am Sam, Recount, The Master, The Tale, The Fault in Our Stars, Twin Peaks, Big Little Lies and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In 2017 she established Jaywalker Pictures, a Los Angeles-based production company founded with partner Jayme Lemons. She also serves on the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors.

About The Palm Springs International Film Festival

The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) is one of the largest film festivals in North America, welcoming 136,000 attendees last year for its lineup of new and celebrated international features and documentaries. The Festival is also known for its annual Film Awards Gala, a glamorous, black-tie event attended by 2,500, presented this year by American Express and sponsored by AT&T and Entertainment Tonight. The Film Awards Gala honors the year’s best achievements in cinema in front of and behind the camera. The celebrated list of talents who have been honored in recent years includes Javier Bardem, Cate Blanchett, Mary J. Blige, Sandra Bullock, Jessica Chastain, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Gal Gadot, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, Regina King, Rami Malek, Matthew McConaughey, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Eddie Redmayne, Julia Roberts, Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep, Charlize Theron and Reese Witherspoon. Call 760-969-7533 for Gala tickets or tables, 760-778-8979 or 800-898-7256 for the Film Festival information or visit www.psfilmfest.org.

PSIFF

(Source: PSIFF Press release)

 

HBO DOCUMENTARY FILMS ACQUIRES DAVID FRANCE’S WELCOME TO CHECHNYA AHEAD OF ITS WORLD PREMIERE AT THE 2020 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) HBO Documentary Films has acquired North American television and streaming rights to the powerful and eye-opening documentary WELCOME TO CHECHNYA, from Academy Award-nominated director David France (“How to Survive a Plague,” “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson”). This searing documentary shadows a group of brave activists risking their lives to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ persecution in the repressive and closed Russian republic of Chechnya. With unfettered access and a commitment to protecting anonymity, this documentary exposes these underreported atrocities, while highlighting an extraordinary group of heroic people confronting crushing brutality.

WELCOME TO CHECHNYA will have its world premiere in the U.S. Documentary Competition section of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and will debut in June 2020 on HBO.

“I am thrilled to have partnered with HBO to help shed light on this ongoing humanitarian crisis,” says France. “WELCOME TO CHECHNYA needed a distributor that is fearless and believes in the power of social justice filmmaking.”

In the present-day Russian republic of Chechnya, gay and transgender citizens are targeted as part of a deadly “cleansing” campaign. This revealing film chronicles a group of LGBTQ activists as they work undercover and at great personal danger to rescue the victims of this aggression. Through a succession of safe houses and a global underground network of collaborators, the LGBTQ advocates provide victims temporary safety and urgent visa assistance, because fleeing Russia is their only chance for survival.

The deal for WELCOME TO CHECHNYA was negotiated with HBO by Josh Braun for Submarine on behalf of the filmmakers.

WELCOME TO CHECHNYA is a Public Square Films production, directed by David France; produced by Alice Henty, Joy A. Tomchin, Askold Kurov, and David France; edited by Tyler H. Walk, cinematography by Askold Kurov; co-producers Igor Myakotin, Tyler H. Walk. For HBO: executive producers, Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller.

 

 

 

TODD PHILLIPS TO RECEIVE HONOR AT VARIETY 10 DIRECTORS TO WATCH BRUNCH AT PALM SPRINGS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Todd PhillipsLOS ANGELES, CA – (December 10, 2019)Variety will honor director Todd Phillips at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on Friday, January 3rd as part of the annual 10 Directors to Watch brunch at the Parker Palm Springs. The brunch is presented by AT&T.

The Joker director/co-writer/producer will receive the annual Creative Impact in Directing Award. Previous recipients of this award have included Ryan Coogler, Patty Jenkins, David O. Russell, Charlie Kaufman, Jeff Nichols and Philip Seymour Hoffman. The award celebrates his work on the groundbreaking Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and BRON Creative drama starring Joaquin Phoenix, which was recently named one of AFI’s Best Films of the Year and received the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.  The film also garnered four Golden Globe nominations on Monday for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Director – Todd Phillips, Best Performances by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Joaquin Phoenix, and Best Original Score, Hildur Guðnadóttir.

“Todd Phillips’ ‘Joker‘ is one of the most provocative, celebrated films of the year, with an extraordinary lead performance by Joaquin Phoenix,” says Claudia Eller, Variety Editor-In-Chief. “Todd’s unique vision and masterful creativity showcases iconic Artisan work, from the memorable stairs sequence to the re-imagining of Gotham as 1980s New York City.”

About Variety

Variety has been the seminal voice of the entertainment industry for 114 years and counting. Featuring award-winning breaking news reporting, insightful award-season coverage, must-read feature spotlights and intelligent analysis of the industry’s most prominent players, Variety is the trusted source for the business of global entertainment. Read by a highly engaged audience of industry insiders, Variety’s multi-platform content coverage expands across digital, mobile, social, print and branded content, events and summits.

In May 2019, Variety’s “Actors on Actors” on PBS took home a Daytime Creative Arts Emmy award  and has been awarded the Emmy for best entertainment programming at the 67th and 68th Emmy Awards. “Actors on Actors,” an interview special that features pairings of prominent actors discussing their craft, was produced by PBS SoCal in partnership with Variety Media, LLC. Follow Variety on Facebook facebook.com/variety; Twitter, @variety; Instagram, @Variety The Variety Group – Variety, Variety.com, Variety Insight, Indiewire,- is owned by Variety Media, LLC, a division of Penske Media Corporation.

About The Palm Springs International Film Festival

The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) is one of the largest film festivals in North America, welcoming 136,000 attendees last year for its lineup of new and celebrated international features and documentaries. The Festival is also known for its annual Film Awards Gala, a glamorous, black-tie event attended by 2,500, presented this year by American Express and sponsored by AT&T and Entertainment Tonight. The Film Awards Gala honors the year’s best achievements in cinema in front of and behind the camera. The celebrated list of talents who have been honored in recent years includes Javier Bardem, Cate Blanchett, Mary J. Blige, Sandra Bullock, Jessica Chastain, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Gal Gadot, Tom Hanks, Nicole Kidman, Regina King, Rami Malek, Matthew McConaughey, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, Eddie Redmayne, Julia Roberts, Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep, Charlize Theron and Reese Witherspoon. Call 760-969-7533 for Gala tickets or tables, 760-778-8979 or 800-898-7256 for Film Festival information or visit www.psfilmfest.org.

About Parker Palm Springs

Situated on 13 lush acres, the Parker Palm Springs is an estate where luxury is fun. Designed by Jonathan Adler, the property boasts 131 rooms, 12 villas and the 2 bedroom Gene Autry Residence.  There are 4 restaurants – Norma’s (of NY fame), mister parker’s a dark and seductive French bistro, Counter Reformation a hidden wine bar and the Lemonade Stand, perfect for an afternoon bite or cocktail.  The Palm Springs Yacht Club spa at over 18,000 sq. feet is well-known and a place to indulge in a treatment, take a yoga class or even lounge at the Deck. Additionally the hotel has 4 red clay tennis courts, grounds consisting of games such as croquet and petanque as well as outdoor firepits and fountains.  The perfect desert escape!  4200 East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92264. (760) 770-5000, www.theparkerpalmsprings.com.

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(Sourced from psfilmfest.org)

BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985) TO OPEN 2020 TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

LLoyd

Turner Classic Movies announced that the 11th annual TCM Classic Film Festival will open with a 35th anniversary screening of BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985), with stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson and screenwriter/producer Bob Gale in attendance. BACK TO THE FUTURE personifies this year’s theme of GRAND ILLUSIONS: FANTASTIC WORLDS ON FILM, “a wondrous journey to enchanted worlds of fantasy and stories beyond belief. From myths and magical creatures to ghostly encounters and travels through time, you’ll escape with fellow movie lovers to places that will ignite your imagination.”

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Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly/Calvin Klein in Robert Zemecki’s 1985 classic sci-fi, comedy/adventure film, Back to the Future. Back to the Future is slated to open the 2020 TCM Classic Film Festival, April 16-19, 2020 in Hollywood, Calif.

 

 

TCM also announced additional film titles including: George Cukor’s A DOUBLE LIFE (1947), starring Ronald Colman and Shelley Winters; Cukor’s pre-Code comedic drama DINNER AT EIGHT (1933), starring Jean Harlow, Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler; Alfred Hitchcock’s remake of his original 1934 thriller THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956); Jean Arthur and Charles Coburn in Sam Wood’s THE DEVIL AND MISS JONES (1941); and Alfred Santell’s drama THAT BRENNAN GIRL (1946).

Passes for the 2020 TCM Classic Film Festival are still available, but only limited quantities remain. Passes make a perfect holiday gift for the classic movie lover!

For more information about 2020 Festival passes, please click here.

Stay tuned for more on this wildly popular event!

TCM House

TCM Classic Film Festival 2020

 

2020 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: INDIE EPISODIC, SHORTS AND SPECIAL EVENTS ANNOUNCED

Posted by Larry Gleeson

8 Episodic Works, 74 Short Films, 9 Special Events Join Festival Slate

Sundance_2020
A Love Song for Latasha, photo by Sophia Nahli Allison; Takoyaki Story, courtesy of Sundance Institute; Little Chief, photo by Marshall Stief; City So Real, photo by Steve James; Awkward Family Photos, photo by Rich Schaefer; Hillary,
courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Park City, UT — Works selected across the Indie Episodic, Shorts and Special Events sections of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival were announced today, underlining Sundance Institute’s commitment to showcasing bold independent storytelling regardless of form, format or length.

Kim Yutani, the Festival’s Director of Programming, said, “Authenticity and independent voices resonate across formats – and that’s evident across the full spectrum of this year’s Indie Episodic and Special Events slates. Defined by distinctive voices and enlightening viewpoints, these are riveting projects that find inspiration in the urgent stories and extraordinary individuals of our times.”

Mike Plante, Senior Programmer, Shorts, said, “With an unprecedented number of 10,397 submissions, we had so many great shorts to choose from. It is thrilling to share so many unique visions and new talents from the burgeoning world of shorts.”

Of the projects announced today, 48% were directed or created by one or more women, 33% were directed or created by one or more filmmaker of color, and 19% by one or more people who identify as LGBTQIA. 7 were supported by Sundance Institute in development, whether through direct granting or Labs.

74 short films will screen at the Festival from 27 countries and chosen from 10,397 submissions – 4,992 from the U.S. and 5,405 international. The Institute’s support for short films extends internationally and year-round, with select Festival shorts presented as a traveling program at seventy-five theaters in the U.S., Canada and Europe each year, and short films and filmmakers taking part in regional Master Classes geared towards supporting emerging shorts-makers in several cities. Among the shorts the Festival has shown in recent years are Fauve, Aziza, Ghosts of Sugar Land, Thunder Road, Whiplash and The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom. The 2020 Sundance Film Festival Short Film program is presented by Southwest Airlines.

INDIE EPISODIC
A dedicated showcase for emerging creators of independently produced episodic content for broadcast, web, and streaming platforms. Past projects that have premiered within this category include Work in Progress, State of the Union, Wu Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men and Quarter Life Poetry.

Awkward Family Photos / U.S.A. (Director: William Kirkley, Executive Producers: Mike Bender, Doug Chernack, William Kirkley, Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis, Terry Dougas, Jean-Luc De Fanti) — A hilarious, odd, and heartfelt exploration of the imperfect family experience. The families behind some of the most viral photos from the archives of AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com tell their unique stories and reunite to recreate their original photos, forcing them to reconcile their past and celebrate their awkwardness. World Premiere

Chemo Brain / Denmark (Director: Kristian Håskjold, Screenwriters: Kristian Håskjold, Johan Wang) — When Oliver is diagnosed with testicular cancer, his life is turned upside down. This lighthearted drama-series depicts the derailment of a young man that is doing everything he can to not lose his friends, his girlfriend, himself, and ultimately his life. Cast: Adam Ild Rohweder, Karoline Brygmann, Jens Jørn Spottag, Mads Reuther, Stephanie Nguyen, Mathilde Passer. International Premiere

City So Real / U.S.A. (Director: Steve James) — An impressionistic mosaic portrait of current-day Chicago which delivers a deep, multifaceted look into the soul of America’s third-largest city, set against the backdrop of its history-making 2019 mayoral campaign. World Premiere

Embrace / U.S.A. (Director: Jessica Sanders, Creators: Kathreen Khavari, Chuck Neal) — Against the backdrop of Oakland California, Iranian-American medical student Kat tries to save her Iranian family by taking on a surprising side hustle. The show is a culturally diverse, quasi-surrealist dramedy that captures the ever-increasing need for human connection and the subsequent commodification of it. Cast: Kathreen Khavari, Eddie Huang, Mitra Jouhari. World Premiere

Hey Lady! / Canada (Directors: Sarah Polley, Adriana Maggs, Will Bowes, Screenwriter: Morris Panych) — A fearlessly off-the-charts rampage of urban vengeance as senior-citizen Lady, along with her friend Rosie, upturns everything in her path–social norms, rules of etiquette, and even the series itself. Cast: Jayne Eastwood, Jackie Richardson. World Premiere

Laetitia / France (Director: Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, Screenwriters: Antoine Lacomblez, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade) — Eighteen-year-old Laetitia has disappeared. Police quickly arrest Tony Meilhon but investigators still can’t find the body. This story follows the repercussions for Laetitia’s family and twin sister Jessica; the police force inner workings and social services; the judicial system and government itself. Based on real events. Cast: Marie Colomb, Sophie Breyer, Yannick Choirat, Sam Karmann, Kevin Azïas, Noam Morgensztern. International Premiere

The Ride / U.S.A. (Director: Linas Phillips, Executive Producers: Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass) — Wayne, a 40-year-old ride share driver and spiritual coach, recently moved back in with his mom and discovers the only thing that gives his life meaning is to help his passengers let go of their negative thoughts, whether they want his help or not. Cast: Linas Phillips, Maria Thayer, Alex Karpovsky, Punkie Johnson, Joslyn Jensen, Timm Sharp. World Premiere

Untitled Pizza Movie / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: David Shapiro) — How do you remember somebody in a disposable world? Weaving an abandoned film about pizza (NYC in the early 90s), a stunning, physical archive (thousands of objects) with a remarkable triple portrait, this series traces three lives over thirty years, three continents, and the faultlines of class, dreams, and memory. World Premiere

SPECIAL EVENTS
One-of-a-kind moments highlighting new independent works that add to the unique Festival experience. Past projects that have played in this category include Lorena, Now Apocalypse, Wild Wild Country and Top of the Lake.

Hillary / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nanette Burstein) — A portrait of a public woman, interweaving moments from never-before-seen 2016 campaign footage with biographical chapters of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life. Featuring exclusive interviews with Hillary herself, Bill Clinton, friends, and journalists, an examination of how she became simultaneously one of the most admired and vilified women in the world. World Premiere

LANCE / U.S.A. (Director: Marina Zenovich, Producers: Marina Zenovich, P.G. Morgan) — This deeply personal examination of one of the world’s most controversial figures examines a man who’s both winner and loser, saint and sinner. With unprecedented access to Lance’s world, this psychological portrait is a powerful study of that 21st century phenomenon: the celebrity who falls spectacularly and publicly from grace. World Premiere

Leap of Faith: William Friedkin on the Exorcist / U.S.A., Spain (Director: Alexandre O. Philippe, Producer: Kerry Deignan Roy) — A lyrical and spiritual cinematic essay on The Exorcist, and an exploration of the uncharted depths of William Friedkin’s mind’s eye, the nuances of his filmmaking process, and the mysteries of faith and fate that have shaped his life and filmography. Cast: William Friedkin. North American Premiere

Love Fraud / U.S.A. (Directors: Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing, Executive Producer: Vinnie Malhotra, Amy Goodman Kass, Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing) — Bigamy. Identity theft. Fraud. For the last 20 years Richard Scott Smith has used the internet and his dubious charms to prey upon unsuspecting women in search of love–conning them out of their money and dignity. But now his victims ban together and seek sweet revenge. World Premiere

Max Richter’s Sleep / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Natalie Johns) — Following the composer as he navigates an ambitious performance of his acclaimed 8-hour opus. Centering around an open air concert in Los Angeles, alongside footage from Berlin, Sydney and Paris, we are plunged deep into the life and process of both the artist and his creative partner Yulia Mahr. North American Premiere

McMillions / U.S.A. (Directors: James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte, Executive Producers: Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Archie Gips, James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte) — McMillions is the definitive, real-life account of the McDonald’s Monopoly game scam, which defrauded the American public throughout the 1990s, as told by the “prize winners,” criminals, government officials, and FBI agents, whom eventually took the crime ring down. World Premiere

Siempre, Luis / U.S.A. (Director: John James, Executive Producer: Michael Stolper) — Follow one single-minded immigrant’s improbable journey from Puerto Rico to the halls of power. Witness Luis Miranda’s unflappable idealism as he battles his health, mobilizes the mainland Latinx community, matches wits with his youngest child applying to college and brings Hamilton to his island home, all in twelve months. Cast: Luis Miranda, Lin-Manuel Miranda. World Premiere

The Trade / U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Heineman, Executive Producers: Pagan Harleman, Matthew Heineman, Vinnie Malhotra, Joedan Okun) — A deeply personal and intimate portrait of human smuggling, sex trafficking, and the struggle to survive the migrant cycle between Central America and the United States. World Premiere

We Are Freestyle Love Supreme / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Fried, Producers: Sarina Roma, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Jill Furman, Jon Steingart, Jenny Steingart) — Follow the 15-year journey of the founding members of the improv hip-hop group Freestyle Love Supreme, as they reflect upon why this show remains such an important piece of their personal, creative, and professional history–from the basement of the Drama Bookshop in NYC to the Broadway stage. Cast: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Thomas Kail, Anthony Veneziale, Christopher Jackson, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Chris Sullivan. World Premiere

U.S. NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS

Arabian Alien / Saudi Arabia, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Meshal Aljaser) — Saad, a Muslim married man, gets over his depression after a space Alien is introduced into his life. World Premiere

Baldwin Beauty / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Thembi Banks) — Farrah, new to LA, goes on the mobile styling app Get Glam, to find new clients. When she arrives at an appointment, she finds a house of girls pre-gaming for a party and maybe a new crew of friends.

Blocks / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Bridget Moloney) — An existential comedy about the mother of two young children who begins to spontaneously vomit plastic toy blocks. World Premiere.
Buck / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Elegance Bratton, Jovan James) — Caught in the throes of a depressive fugue, young Lynn resorts to debauchery to find joy — only to discover that happiness is a much more complicated proposition. World Premiere

Danny’s Girl / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Emily Wilson) — Danny meets his online girlfriend for the first time, but accidentally discovers her unspeakable possession, which throws their first night together into a dizzying tailspin. World Premiere

Dirty / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Matthew Puccini) — Marco cuts class to spend the afternoon with his boyfriend, Graham. Things do not go as planned. World Premiere

He’s the One / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jessie Kahnweiler) — A girl meets guy and falls head over heels, but a shocking discovery forces her to question everything. A dark comedy about falling in love with the one person you’re supposed to hate. World Premiere

How Did We Get Here? / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michelle Miles) — A visual exploration of progressive atrophy. A study in how microscopic changes can go unnoticed, but amass over time. Even as these changes become drastic, we sometimes fail to realize anything has happened at all. World Premiere

Lance (in a Neck Brace) / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Chloé Aktas) — After a devastating breakup, Lance listens to instructional cassette tapes on how to heal his broken heart. World Premiere.

Little Chief / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Erica Tremblay) — The lives of a Native woman and a troubled young boy intersect over the course of a school day on a reservation in Oklahoma. World Premiere

Meats / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ashley Williams) — A pregnant vegan struggles with her newfound craving for meat. World Premiere

Meridian / U.S.A., Italy (Director and screenwriter: Calum Walter) — Footage transmitted by the last unit in a fleet of autonomous machines is sent to deliver an emergency vaccine. The film follows the machine before its disappearance, tracing a path that seems to stray further and further from its objective.

Pillars / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Haley Elizabeth Anderson) — After seeing a boy she likes before church, Amber sneaks out to the Sunday school bathroom during the service and is given her first kiss. World Premiere

Place / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jason Gudasz) — Wanting a fresh start, Lauren moves into a house with her daughter and new boyfriend–but the spirits of the house have plans to turn them all against each other in very bizarre ways.

Ship: A Visual Poem / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Terrance Daye) — A black boy learns contradicting lessons of manhood and masculinity on the day of his cousin’s funeral.

T / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Keisha Rae Witherspoon) — A film crew follows three grieving participants of Miami’s annual T Ball, where folks assemble to model R.I.P. t-shirts and innovative costumes designed in honor of their dead.

Three Deaths / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jay Dockendorf) — Three strangers confront death in a modern interpretation of a Tolstoy short story. World Premiere

Valerio’s Day Out / Colombia, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Michael Arcos) — A young jaguar goes on a killing spree when he escapes from his enclosure at a zoo. After he’s captured, sedated and relocated, he makes a video diary for his significant other, Lula.

INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS

Are You Hungry? / Finland (Director: Teemu Niukkanen, Screenwriter: Antti Toivonen) — A single mother struggles to connect with her adopted teenage son, whom she believes is gay. U.S. Premiere.

Backpedal / Australia (Director and screenwriter: Dani Pearce) — A collage of an American poem, exploring the universality of womanhood.

Bad Hair / Estonia (Director and screenwriter: Oskar Lehemaa) — Insecure and balding Leo has decided to try a mysterious hair growth liquid to fix up his looks. The liquid causes a series of grotesque metamorphoses, as Leo tries to get his bodily changes under control, the evening quickly turn into chaos.

Benevolent Ba / Malaysia, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Diffan Sina Norman) — A devout woman’s lust for virtue thrusts her family into a sacrificial slaughter of biblical proportions. World Premiere

The Devil’s Harmony / United Kingdom (Director: Dylan Holmes Williams, Screenwriters: Dylan Holmes Williams, Jess O’Kane) — A bullied teenage girl leads an a cappella club on a trail of destruction against her high school enemies.

Exam / Iran (Director: Sonia K. Hadad, Screenwriters: Sonia K. Hadad, Farnoosh Samadi) — A teenage girl gets involved in the process of delivering a pack of cocaine to its client, and gets stuck in a weird cycle of occurrences.

Former Cult Member Hears Music For The First Time / Norway, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Kristoffer Borgli) — After a woman escapes the captivity of her abusive family, a magazine invites her to a journalistic experiment: to hear music for the first time. World Premiere

I’ll End Up in Jail / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Alexandre Dostie) — A stay-at-home mom gets into a murderous car crash where nobody wants to take the blame. U.S. Premiere

Leave of Absence / Russia (Director and Screenwriter: Anton Sazonov) — In Russia, supressed masculinity has led to a feeling of unfulfillment as men feel that the country rejects them, leading to a drastic decline in male life expectancy. North American Premiere.
No One is Crazy in This Town / Indonesia (Director: Wregas Bhanuteja, Screenwriters: Wregas Bhanuteja, Henricus Pria) ) — The owner of a big hotel orders Marwan and his team to remove mentally ill people from the city streets and cast them away in the forests. North American Premiere

Olla / France, United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Ariane Labed) — Olla has answered an ad on a dating website for Eastern European women. She moves in with Pierre, who lives with his old mother, but nothing goes as expected.

Paola Makes A Wish / Switzerland (Director and screenwriter: Zhannat Alshanova) — On an ordinary day at work, Paola starts to feel that she is missing out something exciting in her life. U.S. Premiere 

Pattaki / Cuba (Director: Everlane Moraes, Screenwriter: Tatiana Monge Herrera) — In the dense night, when the moon rises, those who live in a monotonous daily life without water are hypnotized by the powers of Yemaya, the goddess of the sea. U.S. Premiere

Regret / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Santiago Menghini) — Following the death of his father, a man must survive the manifestations of his inner demons over the course of a dreary night. World Premiere

Sadla / South Africa (Director and screenwriter: Zamo Mkhwanazi) — While going on a simple errand, Nathi’s journey is marked by disturbing interactions with authority. But is he an innocent victim? U.S. Premiere.

So What If The Goats Die / France, Morocco (Director and screenwriter: Sofia Alaoui) — Abdellah, a young shepherd living in the mountains, is forced to brave the snow blocking him in order to get food and save this cattle. Once he gets to the village, he faces a supernatural phenomenon. World Premiere

Song of Clouds / Nepal (Director and screenwriter: Ankit Poudel) — A haunting visual fever dream, and a meditation on the afterlife; the journey to the next world, and what gets left behind among the living. World Premiere

Sticker / Macedonia (Director and screenwriter: Georgi M. Unkovski) — After an unsuccessful attempt to renew his car registration, Dejan falls in a bureaucratic trap that tests his determination to be a responsible father. North American Premiere

A Thousand Sails / Hong Kong (Director and screenwriter: Hing Weng Eric Tsang) — Ren promises to keep a secret for her neighbor’s son–a secret she can share with no one on the island. Her only refuge from sleepless nights is her deceased husband. International Premiere

DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILMS

Abortion Helpline, This Is Lisa / U.S.A. (Directors: Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, Mike Attie) — At a Philadelphia abortion helpline, counselors answer nonstop calls from women who seek to end a pregnancy but can’t afford to. In this documentary we learn how economic stigma and cruel legislation determine who has access to abortion.

All That Perishes at the Edge of Land / Pakistan (Director: Hira Nabi, Screenwriters: Hira Nabi, Qurratulain Hyder) — A ship berthed at Gadani and the shipbreakers coming from all over Pakistan to break it discover that they might have more in common than otherwise imagined when they enter into a conversation.

Bereka / U.S.A., Ethiopia (Director and screenwriter: Nesanet Teshager Abegaze) — A family history archive as told by matriarch Azalu Mekonnen and her granddaughter Samira Hooks. Shot on Super 8 film in Los Angeles and Gondar, Ethiopia, capturing the Ethiopian coffee ceremony and explores migration, memory and rebirth.

Betye Saar: Taking Care of Business / U.S.A. (Director: Christine Turner) — At age 93, there’s no stopping the legendary artist Betye Saar. World Premiere

Broken Orchestra / Canada, U.S.A. (Director: Charlie Tyrell) — The Symphony for a Broken Orchestra project collected hundreds of broken instruments from the Philadelphia public school system, fixed them and then returned them into the hands of students.

Character / U.S.A. (Director: Vera Brunner-Sung) — Actor Mark Metcalf made his reputation in Hollywood playing aggrieved authority figures. Now in his 70s, he takes a look back on his career in this meditation on power, privilege, and the perils of being a “type.” World Premiere

Church and the Fourth Estate / U.S.A. (Director: Brian Knappenberger) — A reporter uncovers a file that reveals a shocking series of child abuse allegations in Idaho’s Boy Scouts, which rattle the community and implicate the Mormon church. The story reveals long-running crimes that threaten to bankrupt the Boy Scouts. World Premiere

The Deepest Hole / U.S.A. (Director: Matt McCormick) — While the space and arms races are Cold War common knowledge, few know about the United States and Soviet Union’s race to dig the deepest hole. This is particularly surprising since Hell may have been inadvertently discovered in the process. World Premiere

Día de la Madre / U.S.A. (Directors: Ashley Brandon, Dennis Höhne) — A band of juveniles embark on a 24-hour spree of breaking into houses and causing a ruckus. World Premiere

Do Not Split / U.S.A., Norway (Director: Anders Hammer) — The story of the 2019 Hong Kong protests, told through a series of demonstrations by local protestors that escalate into conflict when highly armed police appear on the scene. World Premiere

E-Ticket / Hong Kong, U.S.A. (Director: Simon Liu) — A frantic (re)cataloguing of a personal archive and 16,000 splices in the making. 35mm frames are obsessively rearranged in evolving-disorienting patterns, as a Dante’s Inferno for the streaming age emerges, illustrating freedom of movement for the modern cloud.

Guisado on Sunset / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Terence Nance) — Missed connection regret at that one late-night spot–the kind you keep playing back in your head but not quite ever remembering right, until it starts to look like something else. International Premiere

John Was Trying to Contact Aliens / U.S.A. (Director: Matthew Killip) — John Shepherd spent 30 years trying to contact extraterrestrials by broadcasting music millions of miles into space. After giving up the search he makes a different connection here on earth. World Premiere.

Junior Bangers / United Kingdom (Director: Danny Lee) — In England, banger racing isn’t just a sport, but a way of life. Join 11-year-olds Finn and Harley on a cold winter race day in Birmingham. North American Premiere

Lichen / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Lisa Jackson) An otherworldly deep dive into the hidden beauty of lichens, asking what we might learn from them. Ancient and diverse, thriving in adversity, confounding scientists to this day, lichen is a model of emergence. International Premiere

A Love Song for Latasha / U.S.A. (Director: Sophia Nahli Allison) A dreamlike archive in conversation with the past and the present to reimagine a more nuanced narrative of Latasha Harlins by excavating intimate and poetic memories shared by her cousin and best friend.

Narcissister Breast Work / U.S.A. (Director: Narcissister) — Focusing on the exercise by women of their right to bare their breasts in public, this film is an investigation into how prohibitions on female toplessness are grounded in fear of, and desire to control, the female body. World Premiere

Now Is the Time / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Christopher Auchter) — On the 50th anniversary of the first new totem pole raising on British Columbia’s Haida Gwaii in almost a century, we revisit the day that would signal the rebirth of the Haida spirit.

See You Next Time / U.S.A. (Director: Crystal Kayiza) — A window into the intimate moments shared across a nail salon table between a Chinese nail artist and her black client in Brooklyn, NY.

The Shawl / U.S.A. (Director: Sara Kiener) After years of long distance, a pair of big and beautiful boyfriends celebrate their reunion at a Stevie Nicks concert, where they share a brush with magic. World Premiere

The Starr Sisters / U.S.A. (Directors: Beth Einhorn, Bridey Elliott) — Patte and Randa Starr are fun specialists. After overcoming a dark past, these sisters are inseparable. Now in their 70s, they do exactly as they please and their candy drawer is always fully stocked.

While I’m Still Breathing (Tandis Que Je Respire Encore) / France (Directors: Laure Giappiconi, Elisa Monteil, La Fille Renne, Screenwriter: Laure Giappiconi) — The blurred portrayal of a young woman as she moves through three steps of her sexuality. North American Premiere

ANIMATED SHORT FILMS

Daughter / Czech Republic (Director and screenwriter: Daria Kashcheeva) — Should you hide your pain, close yourself inside your inner world, and long for your father’s love? Or should you understand and forgive before it’s too late?

Daytime Noir / U.S.A. (Director: Jeron Braxton, Screenwriters: Jeron Braxton, Jay Ellis, Antonio Maclin) — A mother and son’s journey through the exploitative world of tabloid TV. World Premiere

eadem cutis: the same skin / Germany (Director: Nina Hopf) — “I just want to be seen as who I am today!” John shares his thoughts on identity, body and gender and gives a very personal insight into his life–and an intimate proximity to his body. North American Premiere

Eli / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nate Milton) — A true story from the realms of high strangeness, magical thinking, and manic delusion.

Farce / Norway (Director and screenwriter: Robin Jensen) — A man, a woman and a meat grinder. Love is messy.

Hot Flash / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Thea Hollatz) — Ace is having a hot flash, and she’s about to go live on local television. How one woman tries to keep her cool when one type of flash leads to another. International Premiere

Hudson Geese / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Bernardo Britto) — A goose remembers his last migration. World Premiere. DAY ONE
Inès / France and Switzerland (Director and screenwriter: Élodie Dermange) — Inès is facing a difficult choice. Tonight, she thinks about the decision she will make. North American Premiere

My Juke-Box / France (Director and screenwriter: Florentine Grelier) — Yesterday, I overheard an old rock ‘n’ roll song that sounded familiar. This is probably the music that we used to listen to on my dad’s mechanical devices–the thousand lives man, the king of the jukebox. International Premiere

No, I Don’t Want to Dance! / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Andrea Vinciguerra) — In these dark times, you may think that every hazard has been identified, but nobody has taken into consideration how dangerous dance can be…

Sh_t Happens / Czech Republic, Slovakia, France (Directors and screenwriters: Michaela Mihalyi, David Štumpf) — The caretaker exhausted by everything, his frustrated wife, and one totally depressed deer. Their mutual despair leads them to absurd events, because… shit happens all the time. U.S. Premiere

Slug Life / United Kingdom (Director and Screenwriter: Sophie Koko Gate) — A day in the life of Tanya, a curious woman who has developed a taste for non human lovers. Her next creation: a giant slug. Can such a perfect creature survive in this gnarly world full of freaks and beefs?

Takoyaki Story / Japan (Director and screenwriter: Sawako Kabuki) — Always attracted to takoyaki–octopus balls, a famous Japanese street food–a girl tries them for the first time and becomes addicted.

Wong Ping’s Fables 2 / Hong Kong (Director and Screenwriter: Ping Wong) — Wong Ping urinates twice before gently pressing your head down with his right foot, giving you a closer look at your own reflection in his urine. 

Wood Child and Hidden Forest Mother / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Stephen Irwin) — Deep in the forest, a hunter encounters a strange creature he cannot kill. World Premiere

 

The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Eighth Grade, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2020 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire; AT&T; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Amazon Studios, DIRECTV, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Southwest Airlines®, Stella Artois®, WarnerMedia; Sustaining Sponsors – Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, Fire TV, GEICO, High West Distillery, Hulu, IMDbPro, Lyft, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Variety, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Partner seal at their venues at the Festival. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as The Farewell, Late Night, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Little Miss Sunshine, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Fruitvale Station, State of the Union, Indecent, Spring Awakening, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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(Source: Sundance press release)

AFI AWARDS 2019 HONOREES ANNOUNCED

Posted by Larry Gleeson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, December 4, 2019 — The American Film Screen Shot 2019-12-04 at 12.34.14 PMInstitute (AFI) announced today the recipients of AFI AWARDS 2019. Unique in its celebration of the film and television arts’ collaborative nature, AFI AWARDS – now in its 20thyear – is the only national program that honors creative teams as a whole, recognizing those in front of and behind the camera.

AFI AWARDS honorees include 10 outstanding films and 10 outstanding TV programs deemed culturally and artistically representative of this year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image. In addition to the 20 honorees, AFI also recognizes PARASITE and FLEABAG with an AFI Special Award, designated for a work of excellence outside the Institute’s criteria for American film and television.

All of the honored works advance the art of the moving image, inspire audiences and artists alike, enhance the rich cultural heritage of America’s art form and make a mark on American society. When placed in an historical context, these stories provide a complex and rich visual record of our modern world.

 

AFI MOTION PICTURES OF THE YEAR

1917

THE FAREWELL

THE IRISHMAN

JOJO RABBIT

JOKER

KNIVES OUT

LITTLE WOMEN

MARRIAGE STORY

ONCE UPON A TIME IN…HOLLYWOOD

RICHARD JEWELL

SPECIAL AWARD

PARASITE

AFI TELEVISION PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR

CHERNOBYL

THE CROWN

FOSSE/VERDON

GAME OF THRONES

POSE

SUCCESSION

UNBELIEVABLE

VEEP

WATCHMEN

WHEN THEY SEE US

SPECIAL AWARD

FLEABAG

AFI AWARDS selections are made through a jury process where AFI Trustees, scholars, artists and critics determine the year’s most outstanding achievements and provide artistic and cultural context for the selection of each honoree.

This year’s juries — one for film and one for television — featured acclaimed artists including Emmy®-nominated actor John Amos, Emmy®-nominated director Lesli Linka Glatter, Oscar®-winning writer Callie Khouri, Tony-nominated actor Delroy Lindo and Emmy®-nominated director Betty Thomas; renowned authors and scholars representing prestigious universities with recognized motion picture arts and television programs; film historian Leonard Maltin; the AFI Board of Trustees; and film and television critics from media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, NPR, Rolling Stone, TV Guide and Variety. The juries were chaired by AFI Board of Trustees Vice Chairs Tom Pollock (former Vice Chairman of MCA, Chairman of Universal Pictures) for film and Richard Frank (former Chairman of Walt Disney Television, President of Walt Disney Studios, President of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) for television.

Honorees will gather on January 3, 2020, for recognition at the annual AFI AWARDS private luncheon in Los Angeles, CA — an event favored by the entertainment community for its informal intimacy and its inclusive acknowledgment of excellence.

The 2019 recipients join a distinguished group of previous AFI AWARDS honorees whose works define the art form and contribute to our rich cultural legacy. View all past AFI AWARDS honorees here.

The AFI AWARDS luncheon will be sponsored by Audi, a supporter of AFI and its programs for the past 16 years. The AFI AWARDS luncheon is also sponsored by American Airlines, the official airline of AFI.

About the American Film Institute
The American Film Institute was established by presidential proclamation in the White House Rose Garden, and launched its national mandate on June 5, 1967 — to preserve the heritage of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI’s founding Trustees included Chairman Gregory Peck, Vice Chairman Sidney Poitier, Francis Ford Coppola, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Jack Valenti and George Stevens, Jr., as Director.

About Audi
Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands, delivering about 1.878 million vehicles globally in 2017. In the U.S., Audi of America sold nearly 227,000 vehicles in 2017 and broke all-time company sales records for the eighth straight year. Visit audiusa.com or media.audiusa.com for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.

(Sourced from AFI press release)

 

 

SABAN FILMS ADOPTS “TWIST” STARRING MICHAEL CAINE, LENA HEADEY & RITA ORA From Arclight Films

Posted by Larry Gleeson

LOS ANGELES (November 25, 2019) – Saban Films announced today that they have acquired North American rights to Martin Owen’s (Killers Anonymous, L.A. Slasher) Twist.  From a script penned by John Wrathall (Good, The Liability), the modern take on Charles Dickens’ classic Oliver Twist stars Academy Award® Winner Michael Caine (The Quiet American, The Dark Knight series), Golden Globe® Award nominee Lena Headey (“Game of Thrones,” Fighting with My Family), Rita Ora (Pokémon Detective Pikachu, Fifty Shades of Grey franchise), Raff Law (Repo Men) and Sophie Simnett (“The Lodge,” “Daybreak”).  Twist is produced by Noel Clarke and Jason Maza for Unstoppable along with Pure Grass Films’ Ben Grass and Knuckle Sandwich’s Matt Williams.  The film is co-produced by Sky. Saban Films will release the film theatrically Q1 of 2021.

Set in contemporary London, Twist follows a gifted graffiti artist who is lured into a street gang headed by a father figure, Fagin, who plans a series of audacious art thefts.

Hamilton Arclight
Gary Hamilton

Arclight Films’ Chairman Gary Hamilton states, “Twist boasts a really fantastic cast that crosses all generations so we are thrilled for new audiences young and old to enjoy this wonderful interpretation on Oliver Twist’s classic story. We are overjoyed to be working with our friends at Saban again – they are the perfect partner to bring this film to US audiences.”

 

 

Bill Bromiley
Bill Bromoley

Saban Films’ Bill Bromiley commented, “Martin Owens seamlessly transports Charles Dickens’ timeless characters into the present with this ensemble cast, who injects a new energy into the classic tale.”

 

Bill Bromiley and Jonathan Saba negotiated the deal for Saban Films along with John Fremes from Arclight Films.  Arclight Films is handling worldwide rights.  Financiers include MEP Capital, Blue Rider, Arclight and Lipsync Productions.

This marks Saban Films’ fourth acquisition during the American Film Market with previous titles including Nicol Paone’s Friendsgiving with Malin Akerman, Kat Dennings, Chelsea Peretti, Jane Seymour, and Aisha Tyler; Jason Lei Howden’s Guns Akimbo starring Daniel Radcliffe; and John Suits’ Breach starring Bruce Willis.

Saban Films continues to grow its presence in the industry, remaining active in the acquisition, production and distribution space. The company’s successes have run the gamut from critically acclaimed theatrical films such as The Homesman starring Hilary Swank, to two of the biggest Fathom events with horror icon and heavy metal mastermind Rob Zombie’s 31 in 2016 and 3 From Hell earlier this month, as well as Kevin Smith’s highly successful Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, the sequel to the 2001 comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back which the company partnered on after coming on board at script stage. Its upcoming slate includes Steven C. Miller’s Line of Duty; Will Forbes’ John Henry starring Terry Crews and Ludacris and executive produced by Matthew Antoun; and Darren Lynn Bousman’s Death of Me starring Maggie Q and Luke Hemsworth.

 

About Saban Films

Saban Films, an affiliate of Saban Capital Group (“SCG”), is a film acquisition and distribution company that acquires high-quality, feature films to distribute in North America.  Focusing on commercial, talent driven films, the company looks at projects in all stages of production for release across multiple platforms, including a day and date theatrical/VOD release strategy. Based in Los Angeles, Saban Films was established by Haim Saban, SCG Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer, and is led by Bill Bromiley who serves as President, Shanan Becker, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer and Ness Saban, Vice President of Business Development.

 

 

ABOUT ARCLIGHT FILMS

Arclight Films is one of the world’s leading international sales companies for theatrical, television and home entertainment.  Arclight Films has sold over 300 motion pictures including the Best Picture Oscar® winner Crash, Golden Globe® Best Picture Nominee Bobby and Lord of War starring Nicolas Cage, Jared Leto and Ethan Hawke and the recent Oscar® nominated feature First Reformed (for Best Original Screenplay).

 Arclight Films’ slate includes the Australian the action thriller Long Gone Heroes starring Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce, and Maggie Q, Twist currently in production and starring Michael Caine and Here are the Young Men starring Travis Fimmel, Dean Charles Chapman, Finn Cole and Anya Taylor-Joy, the true-life prison break story, Escape From Pretoria, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Daniel Webber, the sci-fi thriller Possessor starring Andrea Riseborough, Christopher Abbott, Sean Bean, Jennifer Jason Leigh, directed by Brandon Cronenberg, the 2019 Berlin Film Festival official selection Öndög from Berlin Golden Bear winning director Wang Quan’an, and the big-budget Chinese co-production Killer 10 to be directed by Phillip Noyce.

The company’s recent films include the highly anticipated Hotel Mumbai starring Armie Hammer, Dev Patel, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupam Kher, and Jason Isaacs, directed by Anthony Maras released in the US by Bleecker Street on March 22nd, the powerhouse actioner Triple Threat starring Chinese stars Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais and Tiger Chen, and the Vietnamese action thriller Furie both films released by Well Go USA in March 2019, and the successful biopic Jungle starring Daniel Radcliffe released by eOne.

Arclight’s past films include 2016 Official Cannes Directors’ Fortnight selection Dog Eat Dog starring Nicolas Cage and Willem Dafoe, The Confirmation starring Clive Owen and Maria Bello, directed by Academy Award-winner Bob Nelson (Nebraska), 2016 Sundance Official Selection Frank & Lola starring Imogen Poots and Michael Shannon, Predestination starring Ethan Hawke released through Sony Pictures, Last Knights starring Clive Owen and Morgan Freeman, Paper Planes starring Sam Worthington, and Shangri-La Suite starring Emily Browning and Luke Grimes.

Arclight Films additionally encompasses subsidiary labels Darclight Films, the edgy genre-driven division of the company whose films include the worldwide horror hits Wolf Creek, Wolf Creek 2 and action thriller Bait 3D (the highest-grossing Australian film in the history of Chinese cinema), and Easternlight, a specialty arm showcasing Asian cinema with the largest film library of any non-Asian-based indie film label. Films sold under the Easternlight banner include the worldwide blockbuster Forbidden Kingdom starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li, 14 Blades starring Donnie Yen, and legendary auteur Chen Kaige’s Sacrifice.

The latest additions to Easternlight includes Guardians Of The Tomb starring Kellen Lutz and Bingbing Li, Snow Girl And The Dark Crystal starring Bingbing Li, Wolf Warrior starring Wu Jing (which opened #1 at the Chinese Box Office, earning more than $32.5M in one weekend) Outcast starring Nicolas Cage, Special Id Starring Donnie Yen, and Badges Of Fury.

Arclight Films maintains a presence at all major motion picture and television festivals and markets with offices in Los Angeles, Sydney, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Toronto.

About Sky

With 24 million customers across seven countries, Sky is Europe’s leading media and entertainment company and is proud to be part of the Comcast group. Our 31,000 employees help connect our customers with the very best of Sports, News, the arts and to our own local, original content. Following the success of Sky originals like Chernobyl, Patrick Melrose, Das Boot and Gomorrah we launched Sky Studios and now plan to more than double our investment in original drama and comedy over the next five years.

Our technology allows customers to watch what they want, when they want, how they want, and as we connect millions of families to the content they love, it is our responsibility to do it safely – that’s why we offer services like Sky Broadband Buddy and the Sky Kids app. And our online streaming service, NOW TV, brings viewers all the enjoyment of Sky with the flexibility of a contract-free service.

We also believe that a company of our scale has a responsibility that goes beyond our business, and into the community. Our Sky Ocean Rescue campaign has reached millions across Europe, we’re on track to be free of single-use plastic by 2020, we’re investing £25million over five years in ocean-saving tech and we’re a proud employer – recognized by The Times and Stonewall for our approach to inclusivity.

 

 

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