SUNDANCE FILM REVIEW: Taylor Swift Miss Americana

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Taylor Swift: Miss Americana, directed by Lana Wilson, made its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on Opening Night. Admittedly, in tears after seeing Swift perform “Better Man,” in Brian Loschiavo’s extraordinary documentary, Bluebird, at the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival, I was intrigued.Utilizing present-day narrative voice-over from Swift, archival footage, still photos and current interviews from those closest to the megastar and cultural icon, a portrait of who Taylor Swift is, was, and will be is painted with both smooth and coarse strokes. Others appearing in Miss Americana are Swift’s mother, best friend, publicist, producer and a plethora of others inside the star’s orbit. Using at times both documentary recording techniques of direct cinema and cinema verite, Jenny Roh, reveals as much and probably more than the spoken words. Admittedly, after seeing Swift perform in Brian Loschiavo’s documentary, Bluebird, at the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival, I was intrigued.

Wilson begins with Taylor’s first song-writing attempts captured on home videos providing a glimpse into the driving force behind Swift’s rapid ascent into stardom. At the age of 9, Taylor, seated on a performer’s chair looks directly into the camera and shares with her audience she’s going to sing a song she wrote yesterday. Without missing a beat a cut returns to Taylor, again in a chair looking into the camera sharing with the audience she about to sing a song she wrote five minutes ago. These moments set the tone for the journey Miss Americana takes the audience. At once serious. At other times playful and introspective.

A few pivotal moments occur when Ms. Swift wins album of the year at age 16 – an unheard-of achievement. Her rise to stardom is just beginning. What could have been a massive train derailment occurred at the VMA Awards. Swift was honored with the Video of the year award. Mid-way through her speech a fellow performer under the influence jaunted out on stage, droopy drawers and all, high-jacked a microphone and began belligerently crying foul. Later this artist dubbed “a jackass” by the then President of the United States, Barack Obama, would lay claim to Swift’s success by his sheer stupidity, ignorance, mean-spiritedness and jealous nature.

The young woman’s biggest career moment, normally a monumentally happy occasion, turned nightmarish as the young starlet appeared bewildered and somewhat dumbfounded by the chaotic moment. Loud boos and barbs were hurled from the audience as Swift left stage head-down, shoulder slumped. In present-day time Shift shares what was going through her mind. What transpired over the next few years is unparalleled in the history of the music industry. Swift pumped out four number one albums back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Each album remained at the number one slot on the charts for at least six weeks. No other group or performer, including the Fab Four (The Beatles) has accomplished such a feat.

Alone at the top without a life partner despite a close and loving mother-daughter relationship, Taylor realizes she wants an intimate partner to share the ups and downs of life. The only caveat is both parties decide it needs to be a private relationship. An exquisite camera shot of the couple walking focuses on the shadows cast on willowing grass. A maturing woman, Wilson reveals Swift’s understanding of life and actions to ensure she and other women have an equal opportunity to enjoy success and live their lives to the fullest without regrets and without needing approval from an audience.

All I can say is stay tuned for more on this iconic performer as Swift will continue to reveal (seemingly at times reinventing) who she is in what is truly an art form. Her recent performances and videos continue to receive critical acclaim and her stadium and arena concerts are the hottest tickets in town. And, if that’s not enough, Swift has entered the political ring with an endorsement for the 2018 U.S. Senatorial race in her home state of Tennessee.

If you don’t know who Taylor Swift is Miss Americana is the doc for you. And, if you think you know Taylor Swift, check out Miss Americana for a look into what makes Taylor tick. Highly recommended.

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SUNDANCE FILM REVIEW: Crip Camp

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Seemingly, the documentary to see at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival is Crip Camp premiering in the U.S. Documentary Competition. I saw it and I wholeheartedly agree.

Crip Camp, executively produced by Barack and Michelle Obama, tells the story of Camp Jened, a summer camp for disabled teens in upstate New York, close to Woodstock. What started out as a rather traditional camp in 1951, morphed into a social experiment as the times were a-changing. In 1967, a new methodology, inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and engineered by hippies, was implemented. Allowing camp attendees full expression to share intimate thoughts and feelings, a shift in consciousness was implanted. Social interactions were encouraged and became normalized.

Crip Camp

Filmmaker/Directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht (Camp Jened attendee) utilized archival footage captured by The People’s Video Theatre company from 1970-72 at Camp Jened as well as personal video footage from camp members provided an introduction to the future leaders and prime movers of the American Disabilities Act. Present-day interviews and voice-over narrations provided valuable context to these pivotal moments for the disabled community in the United States.

No longer allowing themselves to be institutionalized in horrific environments like the one portrayed in the film, Willowbrook State School, where one voice-over narrator commented she had never heard such an unnerving sound as the wailing howl emanating from the institutionalized at Willowbrook. Statistics revealed 50 Willowbrook disabled residents were cared for by one attendant. Malnutrition was rampant and the individuals residing within its dark walls only hope was death.

In juxtaposition, the members at Camp Jened held meetings to discuss what dinners, entertainment, exercise, and social events would be like. They co-created their environment. Those that needed attendants had them – often times their attendants were camp veterans.

The disabled were emerging from Camp Jened stays hungry to experience a full life and make valuable contributions to society. Unfortunately, the disabled were not allowed access to a normal life. Thus began, the movement. Headed by Camp Jened committee leader, Judy Heuman, the disabled organized themselves, to gain access to schools, universities, hospitals and federal buildings. Many would go on to achieve college educations, Master’s Degrees and make valuable contributions to society in the arts and sciences as well as in business.

Unbeknownst to many today, this small group also caused a major uproar. And Crip Camp lays it all out in the open. In 1973, the passage of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act gave the disabled status as a minority. Demanding access to schools, hospitals, and federally funded buildings, the disabled were told no by President Richard “Dick” Nixon. An archival recording of Nixon’s voice saying “it would cost too much money to provide the (disabled) access. An ensuing lawsuit citing Brown v Board of Education and the shooting down of “separate but equal” beamed light into the lives of the disabled.

Yet, the provision included in Section Clause 504, stating any new federally funded buildings had to provide the disabled access was not being enforced and plans to forgo any re-authorization were undertaken by the Reagan Administration. Yet, the Disabled would not be denied and began a protest in San Francisco. Footage and archival photos were captured and voice-over narration explained the feelings and angst. Aided by various groups and business owners including Vietnam veterans, the Black Panthers and a lesbian bar owner the group found support and hope. Yet, nothing was coming out of Washington, D.C. and Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Joseph Califano would not recognize the group publicly or privately, the group had to go to war with the nation’s capital to win.

With a stroke of luck, the networks were having technical issue and the American Broadcasting Company ran work gathered by an embedded reporter that reached a national audience. Finally, Secretary Califano provided the group with an audience. The archival news reports, Presidential tape recordings and footage captured by an embedded reporter verifies the struggle.

Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy got behind the movement and the American Disabilities Act was finally introduced into the 101st Congress (1991). It passed and made discrimination against the disabled a civil rights violation. ADA and the disabled were given a long-awaited and much-needed access. They were finally given a voice and were allowed to be heard.

Judy Heuman
Nick Nickson, left, holds a microphone for Judy Heuman, at the Easterseals Disability Services Panel ‘Has Recent Industry Emphasis on D&I Influenced Storytelling.’ (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)

The fight continues today, as numerous statistical data finds disabled storytelling has a financially lucrative viewing audience. Several of the Camp Jenet attendees were in Sundance including the unofficial leader, Judy Heuman. The dream to be part of the American way of life burns brightly. And, ever so brightly in Crip Camp.

Crip Camp is a must-see film!

 

 

SUNDANCE FILM REVIEW: The Climb

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The Climb, featured in the Spotlight section of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival is directed by New York actor and filmmaker, Michael Angelo Covino. Covino most recently received the Special Jury Prize at SXSW for Hunter Gatherer. In 2016, he was named to Moviemaker Magazine’s “25 screenwriters to watch” list. In The Climb, from Sony Pictures Classic, Covino tells the story of two best friends navigating adulthood and what it means to be a best friend. The film opens with the two main characters, Kyle, portrayed by Kyle Marvin, and Mike, portrayed by Covino himself, biking up a long incline in France.

CLIMB-1
Best friends, Kyle, left, portrayed by Kyle Marvin, and Mike, portrayed by Michael Angelo Covino, star in the Sony Pictures Classics, The Climb. (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classic)

 

Both riders are climbing vigorously when the fun begins. Kyle reveals to his best friend and soon-to-be best man at Kyel’s upcoming wedding his anxiety about the thoughts of married life. Without missing a beat Mike drops a silent but deadly bombshell – he slept with Kyle’s fiance’, Suzi, portrayed by Talia Balsam, multiple times. But before Kyle and Suzi began dating. Mike a standout high school football player swears it meant nothing and they broke it off long ago.

Adding to the raucous opening, a small Italian car arrives blaring its obnoxious horn. Mike comes undone swearing for the driver to go by and then he proceeds to chase the car profusely. When Kyle finally catches up, the driver is pummelling a prostrate Mike culminating in a few well-placed stomps that land Mike in the hospital. Suzi arrives to check on Kyle’s well-being and discovers Mike in an examining station. Both swear they have no feelings for each other before engaging in a no-holds-barred passionate kiss. Kyle walks in and the wedding is off while the story is just beginning.

Covino delivers brilliance with a sharply written script he and Morgan co-wrote. Adding into the mix some nicely placed diegetic musical performances and The Climb is quickly elevated into art cinema. A strong musical score from Jon Natchez and Martin Mabz heightens the film’s revealing truths. Cinematographer Zach Cupperstein executes several French New Wave shots that speak volumes in the film’s cinematic language. Sara Shaw provides seamless editing and complementary pacing consistent with the narrative. Callan Stokes handled costuming augmenting the setting while enhancing an eye-pleasing mise-en-scene. A strong supporting cast includes veteran actor, George Wendt, Judith Godreche, and Gayle Rankin in well-executed roles.

The Climb is a treasure-trove of filmmaking techniques with strong screenwriting, well-executed cinematography, and compelling performances. It’s is a fun ride and a highly recommended viewing.

Additional screenings at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival are Sunday, January 26th, 6:30 PM, at the Ray Theatre, and Saturday, February 1st, 6PM, at the Park City Library.

Until then, I’ll see you at the movies!

Larry 2020 Sundance

 

 

FILM REVIEW: Gutterbee (Ulrich Thomsen, 2019), Denmark

Posted by Larry Gleeson

First film I see for the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) sponsored by UGG, packs an unexpected, invisible wallop to the sensibilities. Making its US Premiere at SBIFF following its World Premiere at the São Paulo International Film GutterbeeFestival, Gutterbee, a character-driven, “social satire about the nexus of identity fear, where religion becomes an intellectual cul-de-sac, and racism, homophobia and intolerance reign supreme,”  provides, at a minimum, a snapshot of what life in small town, rural America looks like from an international perspective. It also reveals a solution on how to forge an elevated pathway into a better, more inclusive existence without forgetting who we are and where we came from.

Writer/director/producer Ulrich Thomsen encases his deeply felt messaging inside two dreamers who set out to open the “ultimate German Sausage restaurant: The Gourmet House of Refuge.” Anthony Starr (The Boys) portrays Mike Dankworth McCoid, a good-hearted bloke who has just been granted a prison release, while Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting) portrays Edward Hofler, a German sausage zealot. The two complement and play off one another as well as American film comedy duo, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Gutterbee opens with a simple black and white title frame coupled with non-diegetic, Western music. With noir-style composition, Thomsen immediately begins exposing the dark aspects of rural life and culture spouting throughout the Americana landscape with a voice-over narrative of the town sheriff, played by Chance Kelly. Deftly, he reveals current topics of discussion including gender conversion therapy, greed disguised in the form of wealth gospel preachers, racism, xenophobia, bestiality, superstitions, and bullying, and how these behaviors continue to thrive.

Gutterbee is, by choice, not a major film studio production. It is a filmmaker’s truth. Thomsen derived the material and created his art from his experience including many years working in the United States, his monitoring of presidential tweets, and historical trivia on the art of sausage-making. Nevertheless, it is a professionally orchestrated production.

Oscar-winner Anthony Dod Mantle’s cinematography [Best Achievement in Cinematography Slumdog Millionaire (2008)] is stellar. The cast is strong with authentic performances from W. Earl Brown (Preacher, Deadwood: The Movie), Pia Mechler, Joshua Harto, Clark Middleton, and Gareth Williams. Scott Christopher Clark’s art direction, via the mise-en-scene, keeps the viewer wary and engaged. The costuming, designed by Suzanne Barnes, is spot on. And, the music from George Kallis, Breakthrough Composer of the Year 2018, International Film Music Critics Award, captivates.

In addition to the very noirish low key lighting and dramatic use of shadows, Gutterbee employs high key lighting, augmenting a plethora of comedic relief juxtaposed against the garishness of the depicted rural culture. Savvy writing allows for a natural and rhythmic flow adroitly addressing social concerns. The editing from Soren B Ebbe is expertly carried out and the use of jump cuts, a verified comedic device, is nicely woven into the film’s fabric.

Thomsen’s artistic snapshot of Americana in Gutterbee left me dumbfounded. In a brilliantly executed film, a message of hope is revealed amidst the human condition of rural Americans. Important to note, the majority of rural dwellers in the United States are of Germanic descent. Having grown up in a German-American community, I appreciated the inclusion of Germanic cultural artifacts including, but not limited to, lederhosen and the St. Pauli Girl-style costuming. Seemingly, the hope for the future of America lies within their rich, cultural hands. Ask, or in the case of Gutterbee, knock, and it shall be opened. Highly recommended film and wildly entertaining!

 

CYNTHIA ERIVO, TARON EGERTON, AND ALDIS HODGE SHOW OFF VOCALS SINGING FAVORITE KARAOKE SONGS AT THE 35TH ANNUAL SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

VIRTUOSOS AWARD PRESENTED TO ALDIS HODGE, AWKWAFINA, BEANIE FELDSTEIN, CYNTHIA ERIVO, TARON EGERTON, FLORENCE PUGH, AND TAYLOR RUSSELL AT THE 35TH ANNUAL SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (January 19, 2020) – Day 4 of the 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG concluded with a star-studded evening with the presentation of the Virtuosos Award, which recognizes a select group of talent whose noteworthy performances in film have elevated them into the national cinematic dialogue.

This year’s honorees included: Awkwafina (The Farewell), Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart), Aldis Hodge (Clemency), George MacKay (1917), Florence Pugh (Midsommar), and Taylor Russell (Waves).

The tribute, held at the historic Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, was moderated for the tenth year by Turner Classic Movies host and IMDb special correspondent Dave Karger, who engaged in one-on-one discussions with each of the night’s honorees to take a look back at their flourishing career and recent noteworthy performances.

The one-on-one discussions were followed by a group panel discussion, also moderated by Karger. Following the conclusion of the panel discussion, Santa Barbara local and legendary actor Christopher Lloyd presented each honoree with their award.

Highlights from the evening include:

Aldis Hodge on working with Alfre Woodard in the film Clemency: “As an actor and an artist, I always seem to put myself around teachers. I love to get around education and an environment that’s going to help elevate and grow me. Being around someone as masterful as miss Woodard – that’s exactly what you’re going to get. She’s a fantastic actress, a fantastic scene partner, a fantastic leader. So for me, it really was a privileged education.

Awkwafina on using her real name, Nora Lum, for her on-screen credit in the future: “I think in the beginning, Awkwafina really was someone to kind of like take the stage fright and the nervousness and the neuroses and the overthinking. But I think more and more as I grew up, I realize they are the same person. And when I see the name Awkwafina on like a chair back or a call sheet, it’s the name I chose for myself. That means something to the 15-year-old girl that was like ‘it’s a great idea to name yourself Awkwafina. Which years later – regrettable – but it’s fine. It’s an homage to that, and I don’t think I’m ready to lose it yet.”

Beanie Feldstein on young girls admiring her for her role in Booksmart: “Sometimes I’ll just see two young girls come walk up to me and I just put my arms out, and it’s so fun and it’s so lovely. It’s just a joy. We made this movie for everyone, but it’s a testament and celebration of young women, and we just wanted to do this generation proud because they’re so engaged with the world in a way that even…I was at that age. But I feel like young people today are invested in their society at such a young age and it’s so inspiring and we really wanted to celebrate that in Booksmart.”

Cynthia Erivo on getting emotional during the Sesame Street tribute at the Kennedy Center Honors: “I think there’s something so endearing about the stories that Sesame Street would tell. It included everybody. No one was excluded from something like Sesame Street. So when I was watching the montage of the things that went by, it just made me feel like a kid again. I felt like these people really wanted to include all the children in the world. No one was different, no one was apart.”

Florence Pugh on her performance as Amy March in Little Women: “[Greta] wanted Amy to be more than just the girl that burned the book and ended up with the guy, and she was excited to maybe let people see themselves in Amy…When we made it, it felt great and lovely. Through Amy in this version, the audience finally gets to see how rough and how tough it was for women, and how clever she was for her to choose the life that she had.”

George MacKay on working on the film 1917: “It’s like a play and a film together, and that process of being involved right from the beginning…we had to choreograph the entire film. We had to suss out the emotional rhythm and the pace of the entire piece because it dictated the actual length of the set.”

Taron Egerton on winning a Golden Globe for Rocketman: “You know, I’m from a really rural part of the UK. I’m from the middle of Wales, and the Golden Globes feels like something that happens to other people. So to be there, to be nominated was incredible…to win was just really wonderful.”

Taylor Russell on how her personal experience translated to her role in Waves: “There’s a lot in my life that I think prepared me for this role. I have two brothers, and that connection is really important to me…I know what it feels like to love somebody and not like them. I knew what a relationship was like with a brother, so I had that and felt that with Kelvin right away.”

 

The final portion of the program was a true crowd-pleaser as Karger brought out all eight honorees for a panel discussion. The audience got a special treat when Karger asked what each person’s go-to karaoke song is, which then escalated to the honorees breaking out into song on stage.

Provoked by Erivo, Hodge sang a few lines of his favorite karaoke song, “Gold Digger” by Jamie Foxx ft. Kanye West. He then prompted Erivo to sing her song, “We Don’t Need Another Hero” by Tina Turner. While Erivo was belting out a few bars from the song, Feldstein pretended to faint in her chair as the audience cheered for more. Egerton also volunteered to sing part of his favorite karaoke song, “Faith” by George Michael.

Other topics of discussion included favorite movies of all time, dream roles and the films that surprised them the most this year.

Following the panel discussion, actor Christopher Lloyd presented each honoree with their award. The evening concluded as the talented group of actors laughed and mingled in a VIP afterparty.

Last year’s recipients of the Virtuosos Award were Yalitza Aparicio, Sam Elliott, Elsie Fisher, Claire Foy, Richard E. Grant, Thomasin McKenzie, John David Washington, and Steven Yeun.

The 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs from January 15-25, 2020. For more information, and to purchase tickets, festival passes and packages, please visit www.sbiff.org.

About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization. Over the past 34 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 95,000 attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and panels, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire people through the power of film. We celebrate the art of cinema and provide impactful educational experiences for our local, national and global communities.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community throughout many free educational programs and events. In June 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day. In May 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.

SBIFF 35

(Source materials provided by sbiff.org)

ADAM DRIVER ACCEPTS OUTSTANDING PERFORMERS OF THE YEAR AWARD AT THE 35TH ANNUAL SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Posted by Larry Gleeson

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (January 18, 2020) – Day 3 of the 35th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival presented by UGG featured a heartening tribute to 2020 Oscar nominated actor Adam Driver, who received the Outstanding Performers of the Year Award presented by Belvedere Vodka. Driver was recognized for his critically acclaimed work in Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story.

As he arrived to the tribute, the actor was greeted by SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling, who later presented him with the award. After taking a few questions from young aspiring student journalists on the red carpet, Driver sat down with IndieWire’s Anne Thompson for an insightful conversation and look back at his varied career and beginnings as a U.S. Marine.

Some of the highlights from the conversation included:

  • On shooting the dramatic “fight scene” in Marriage Story with Scarlett Johansson: ”We were supported by a very clear backbone of what we were doing. It was very carefully choreographed. We worked on it very similar to a play…because it was so well-written, blocking came really fast…When we were shooting it, it didn’t feel very dissimilar to what it’s like when you shoot a love scene with everyone naked. Our boom operator is holding the mic, but he’s kind of looking away. There’s such focus given to what we’re doing, and there’s not a lot of conversation in between…there’s two people trying to be as naked as possible.”
  • On working with Noah Baumbach: “It was on our first day of working together we clicked right away…His scripts are very to the letter and feel very much like theatre to me, which I found immediately comforting. I like that he just sets different boundaries than other directors. The lines are the lines. Don’t change them. And how you interpret them is up for grabs.”
  • On his character Charlie’s connection to his ballad of “Being Alive”: “It’s a song that he knows very well. By heart…he’s seen the YouTube clips and probably has the soundtrack. Maybe he even directed a production of it in high school. He knows it implicitly…for the first time he starts to process not the loss of love but love transitioning into something else.”
  • On how being in the military prepared him for acting: “It’s the best acting training…the structure is exactly the same. I mean, the end result is much different, and in one you’re pretending the stakes are life and death, in the other they actually are.”

Just before Driver’s conversation with Thompson, the audience was treated to a montage of Driver’s varied career, including clips from films like Inside Llewyn Davis, Francis Ha, BlacKkKlansman and Star Wars. 

Following Driver’s conversation with Thompson, Durling took the stage to present him with the Outstanding Performers of the Year Award, saying: Adam Driver, in my humble opinion, your acting as Charlie is the best performance by a male in 2019 by far. You bare your soul in this film. You do not rely on makeup. You don’t rely on wardrobe, nor dramatic weight changes. Instead, you wear your emotions on your skin and dig deep.”

Upon accepting his award with a standing ovation from the audience, Driver said: “Acting to me is many things. You know, it’s a craft. It’s a political act. Unfortunately, it’s a business, and it’s a service. I think that acting is a service industry. I’m there in service of the director, the actors and the crew, and the story overall, which is more important. I very much believe in that. I believe in the potential effect of great collaboration. I think movies and films and art can lead people out of the dark.”

Following the tribute, Driver and Thompson headed just outside the theatre for a VIP after party presented by Belvedere, where guests mingled over specialty cocktails, struck a pose in a gif-able photo booth and gathered around warm cozy lounge areas amid the chilly Santa Barbara weather.

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 Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival runs from January 15-25, 2020. For more information, and to purchase tickets, festival passes and packages, please visit www.sbiff.org.

 

About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization. Over the past 34 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 95,000 attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and panels, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire people through the power of film. We celebrate the art of cinema and provide impactful educational experiences for our local, national and global communities.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community throughout many free educational programs and events. In June 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day. In May 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.

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(Source: Press release courtesy of sbiff)

 

The Marijuana Conspiracy

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Never a dull moment during the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s (SBIFF) red carpet events. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson were slated to receive the Outstanding Performers of the Year which “recognizes select individuals who have distinguished themselves with exceptional performances in film this past year.” Yet, for the first time in the history of SBIFF, a no-show occurred. Late reports have Ms. Johansson under the weather.

Thank heavens for the talented and vivacious cast and the collaborative writer/director of The Marijuana Conspiracy, based on “Project Venus,” a government-funded research project to study the effects of marijuana on females.

The passion and zeal The Marijuana Conspiracy group emanated in our short conversation leads me to believe The Marijuana Conspiracy is a highly potent project. The story line about a group of women held in isolation for ninety-eight days during the winter of 1972 in Toronto, Canada, with a team of doctors noting the physical and social effects of marijuana on the females resonates.

So without further adieu, check out our talk, catch a screening, and experience the positivity of The Marijuana Conspiracy. You’ll be glad you did!

See below for more details on the film.

 

(From SBIFF.org) In 1972, a group of young women took part in an outlandish scientific study to measure the effects of marijuana on women. It began as fun, like a hippie camp: get paid to smoke weed and make some easy cash. The young women thrived and excelled at their given tasks despite their “toke times,” so scientists gave the girls ever-increasing THC levels to smoke. The girls eventually become zombified and felt like lab rats under constant observation and prodding. Yet, they endured, with no one to care for them and no laws to protect them. The girls used their unique strengths, resilience, and friendship to overcome this extreme adversity. This film tells their story.

Directed by Craig Pryce
Produced by Colin Brunton, Jennifer Haufler, Katarzyna Kochany, Craig Pryce, Mark Pancer
Written by Craig Pryce
Starring Brittany Bristow, Morgan Kohan, Julia Sarah Stone, Tymika Tafari, Kyla Young
Independent Competition Sponsored by Panavision
Country: Canada
123 minutes
US Premiere

The Marijuana Conspiracy is screening tomorrow at 4:20PM, at the Fiesta Theatre, Auditorium #4, and,

January 19th, at 5:20PM, at the Metro Theatre, Auditorium #2

For more information on screenings visit SBIFF.org.

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Lost Transmissions

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Sometimes it pays to be in the right place at the right time. More red carpet coverage from the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). Katharine O’Brien’s Lost Transmissions, a powerful human interest story starring Alexandra Daddario, is sure to pique the sensibilities. Check out the conversation and, more importantly, check out Lost Transmissions. See below for details.

 

 

(FROM SBIFF.org) Hannah, a shy songwriter, discovers that her friend, respected record producer Theo Ross, has lapsed on his medication for schizophrenia. Hannah rallies a group of friends to help commit Theo to a psychiatric facility, chasing him as he outruns his colorful delusions through the glamour and grit of Los Angeles. From the highs of rock ‘n’ roll to rock bottom, it’s a story of the unsung heroes behind the hits.

Directed by Katharine O’Brien
Produced by Filip Jan Rymsza, Tory Lenosky
Written by Katharine O’Brien
Starring Simon Pegg, Juno Temple, Alexandra Daddario
Cinesonic Sidebar
Country: USA
105 minutes

Last Lost Transmissions screenings of the festival!

Tomorrow, 6PM, Metro Theatre, Auditorium 4

January 19th, 2:20PM, Metro Theatre, Auditorium 2

For more screening information visit: SBIFF.org

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Gutterbee

Posted by Larry Gleeson

While covering the red carpet last night for the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) American Riviera Award honoring Renee Zellwegger for her significant contributions to the art of motion pictures, I managed to catch a team of Danes in town with their satirical dramedy, Gutterbee. After witnessing last year’s SBIFF Audience Award winner and Nordic Cinema prize winner, another Danish offering, In Love and War, and after chatting up the Gutterbee team, I am quite optimistic, about this viewing. Make no mistake, the Danes are a force to be reckoned. Check out the conversation with Writer/Director Ulrich Thomsen and three of the film’s stars. And,  make sure to get to a screening of Gutterbee! See below for details.

(From SBIFF.org) GUTTERBEE is a character-driven comedy about friendship and sausage–the German sausage, that is. Set in small-town America, it’s a story about two men who are hopeless dreamers and who join forces in a quest to erect the ultimate German sausage restaurant: the Gourmet House of Refuge. GUTTERBEE is also a social satire about the nexus of fear, where religion becomes an intellectual cul-de-sac, and racism, homophobia, and intolerance reign supreme.

Directed by Ulrich Thomsen
Produced by Ulrich Thomsen
Written by Ulrich Thomsen
Starring Antony Starr, Ewen Bremner, W. Earl Brown, Joshua Harto, Clark Middleton, Chance Kelly, Gareth Williams. Pia Mechler
Independent Competition / Screen Cuisine Sidebar
Country: Denmark
107 minutes
US Premiere

Screening tomorrow, January 18th, 12PM, Metro Theatre, Auditorium #4, and

January 20th, 8:20PM, Metro Theatre, Auditorium #2.

Visit SBIFF.org for more screening information

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OVERLAND and the Art of Falconry

Posted by Larry Gleeson

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting film director, Elisabeth Haviland James on the red carpet last night at the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Check out the short conversation. It’s intense and informative. Don’t be afraid!

 

 

(FROM SBIFF) How can we connect to our natural, primal spirit when modern society threatens to erase it?

OVERLAND is a stunning cinematic journey across four continents that twists and turns like nature itself – bridging ancient to modern, east to west, and earth to sky. Lauren, a daredevil anthropologist, trains injured eagles to fly and hunt while scouring the world for falconry secrets. A confused eagle whose tragic past seems beyond repair pushes her to the brink. Giovanni left Rome for a solitary life in the countryside with his wolves, horse, and hawks. After a transcendent experience with an 800-year-old falconry book, he begins to question his life’s purpose. In Dubai, Khalifa is training to be the world’s best falcon racer. For millennia, his nomadic ancestors hunted with falcons in the harsh Arabian desert. Now, with city life encroaching, he must find a way to keep his fragile Bedouin culture from vanishing forever.

For more screening information check out sbiff.org

Directed by Revere La Noue, Elisabeth Haviland James
Produced by Elisabeth Haviland James, Revere La Noue, Amy Tiemann, Michael Tiemann, Marilyn Jacobs Preyer, Christopher Behlau
Written by Elisabeth Haviland James, Revere La Noue
Starring Lauren McGough, Khalifa Bin Mujren, Giovanni Granati
Documentary Competition / Reel Nature Sidebar
Country: USA
105 minutes
World Premiere
Subtitled

Free public screening today, 2PM, at the Lobero!

Tomorrow, January 18th, 4PM, at the Fiesta Theatre, Auditorium #3, and

Sunday, January 19th, 8:30AM, at the Metro Theatre, Auditorium #4.

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

 

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The 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival Kicks Up Its Heels With A BUMP ALONG THE WAY

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is underway. An at-capacity Arlington Theatre audience ushered in the January 15-25 Phase Two Oscar Campaign film festival. In traditional fashion, The Mayor of Santa Barbara, Cathy Murillo (pictured above) made opening remarks and hinted of the magic about to unfold in the Opening Night film, A BUMP ALONG THE WAY, making its U.S. premiere at SBIFF. With her promise to sprinkle pixie dust into the air before introducing SBIFF Executive Director, Roger Durling.

SBIFF35_Durling-1-2
Santa Barbara International Film Festival Executive Director, Roger Durling, delivers Opening night remarks for the festival’s 35th edition on January 15th, 2020, at the historic Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)

Without further adieu, Durling entering from stage left strutted to center stage and delivered eloquent remarks on his love of cinema, its unabashed inclusiveness, sense of community, and educational properties of the festival today. SBIFF began in 1986 as an economic venture. One of the community-building moments under Durling’s direction is pausing his remarks so audience members can spend a moment introducing and bonding with a before-unknown cinephile friend. In addition, a strong thank you to the festival volunteers, the backbone of the in-festival mode of operations, and to the Manitou Fund for its generous support in equipping several viewing screens with the  OTOjOY hearing loop technology.

Seemingly, with the pixie dust taking effect, Durling expounded on a 1986 cinema experience with his close friend, socially incapacitated with facial lesions. From this moment and similar experiences, a revelation of cinema as a great equalizer full of wonder, curiosity, hope, and positive expectation unfolded. With that, a vivacious Irish woman (a bonafide Derry girl), Bronagh Gallagher, took stage alongside Durling to introduce the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Opening night film, A BUMP ALONG THE WAY.

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Bronagh Gallagher, right, lead actress, of the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Opening night film, A BUMP ALONG THE WAY, took stage alongside festival director, Roger Durling, on January 15th, 2020, at the historic Arlington Theatre in downtown Santa Babara, Calif. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson).

 

 

Captivating the audience with her powerful presence and equally powerful Irish brogue voice, Gallagher informed the audience of the all-female film department heads involved in the film’s production. The audience responded with a resounding chorus of applause and rounds of laughter as the lead actress exuberantly expressed how proud she felt representing the women of Derry, Ireland, with the emotionally compelling film and that if she didn’t get a picture at of the full house she’d “never be allowed back into Derry.” With that, the lights went down and the 35th Santa Barbara Film Festival was underway.

Bump Along The Way
A BUMP ALONG THE WAY, a female-led, feel-good, comedy-drama set in Derry, Northern Ireland, about a middle-aged woman whose unexpected pregnancy after a one-night stand acts as the catalyst for her to finally take control of her life and become the role model her teenage daughter needs and craves, served as the Opening Night film for the 35th Santa barbara International Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of SBIFF)

Following the film, the Opening Night Gala was held in the beautiful outdoor Paseo Nuevo Shops and Restaurants in downtown Santa Barbara featuring entertainment, food, libations, while celebrating the start of the 35th SBIFF.

Sat tuned for more as the festival runs through January 25th!

While quantities are running low, some tickets and passes are still available HERE. Until next time, I’ll see you at the movies!

 

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MANITOU FUND TO EQUIPT HEARING LOOP SYSTEMS IN VENUES FOR 35TH #SBIFF

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Santa Barbara, CA: The Santa Barbara International Film Festival with the generous support of the Manitou Fund announced today that it has permanently equipped all four Metro 4 Theatres and two screens at Fiesta 5 Theatres with state of the art OTOjOY hearing loop technology, just in time for the 35th annual Film Festival.

All SBIFF auditoriums including The Lobero, Arlington and Riviera Theatres now proudly provide the hearing loop system. SBIFF values diversity and inclusion, and this project enriches access for the community permanently, providing a quality theatre-going experience for all.

SBIFF35_Arlington-1
At the historic Arlington Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara, Calif., the Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced, with the generous support of the Manitou Fund, it  permanently equipped The Metro 4 and two Fiesta 5 screens with state of the art OTOjOY hearing loop technology, for the 35th annual Film Festival. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson)

A hearing loop system is an assistive listening technology that sends audio wirelessly to a patron’s hearing aids or cochlear implant/s. The loop provides clean sound, minimizes background noise, and eliminates the need for a separate receiver or headset. It can be accessed by any number of users and by anyone with a compatible, telecoil-enabled hearing device.  When combined with a loop receiver, this technology can also assist people who do not wear a hearing device to improve the clarity of speech and sound. With the direct wireless connection, individuals with hearing loss don’t need to borrow or return equipment from the venue. Loops provide discreet communication access for people with hearing loss and greater inclusion in public events.

According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, approximately 23% of the U.S. population over the age of 12, more than 60 million people, have some degree of hearing loss.

“Part of our mission is to make the world of film and filmmaking accessible to everyone, so we are incredibly proud to partner with the Manitou Fund on this project,” says SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling.

“Creating more hearing-friendly venues allows people with hearing loss to participate fully in the community. Every new hearing loop increases access for people with hearing loss and enhances our nation’s accessibility infrastructure,” says Barbara Kelley, Executive Director of Hearing Loss Association of America. “HLAA applauds the work of the Manitou Fund and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival to equip area theaters with looping systems.”

 “Accessing hearing assisting loop technology is a game-changer for not only the hard of hearing but for anyone who wishes to enjoy the best hearing experience possible in a looped venue,” shares Nora McNeely Hurley of the Manitou Fund. “Hearing loops have improved my quality of life profoundly and I hope that others will discover the exciting benefits of accessing Telecoil loop technology via personal hearing devices. Ask your audiologist and/or theater manager for ways by which you can get in the loop!”

Manitou Fund is dedicated to enriching the lives of people through financial support that enhances and sustains the beauty and importance of Nature, the Arts, Humanities, Health, and Education.

About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 34 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 95,000 attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community throughout many free educational programs and events. In 2016, SBIFF acquired the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s state-of-the-art, fully accessible, year-round home and Santa Barbara’s year-round arthouse theater. In 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs.

SBIFF 35

(Source: Press release from SBIFF’s Tyler Carr)

 

SBIFF OPENING NIGHT FILM Presented by UGG® US Premiere of “A Bump Along The Way”

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
8:00pm
Arlington Theatre
Santa Barbara, CA

AND
OPENING NIGHT GALA

Wednesday, January 15, 2020
Following the Opening Night Film
10:00PM
Paseo Nuevo
Santa Barbara, CA

SBIFF 2020 will start with the Opening Night Film, presented by UGG​®​, tonight Wednesday, January 15, at the historic Arlington Theatre with the U.S. Premiere of ​A BUMP ALONG THE WAY​ directed by ShellyLove and starring Bronagh Gallagher, Lola Petticrew, Mary Moulds, Dan Gordon and Brendan Farrell.

A BUMP ALONG THE WAY​ is female-led, feel-good, comedy-drama set in Derry, Northern Ireland, about a middle-aged woman whose unexpected pregnancy after a one-night stand acts as the catalyst for her to finally take control of her life and become the role model her teenage daughter needs and craves.

Following the film, the Opening Night Gala will take place in the beautiful outdoor Paseo Nuevo Shops and Restaurants in downtown Santa Barbara. It will feature entertainment, food, libations, and celebrate the start of SBIFF.

Get tickets and Passes Here

 

SBIFF 35

(Source: SBIFF News Release)

ADL Stand Up Award goes to the feature film Liberté: A Call to Spy at the 2020 Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

DATE: January 8, 2020 … ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties announced today that it has awarded its ADL Stand Up Award at the 2020 Santa Barbara International Film Festival to the feature film Liberté: A Call to Spy.

Dan Meisel, ADL’s Regional Director issued the following statement:

The ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties Region is pleased to present this year’s Santa Barbara International Film Festival ADL Stand Up Award to Liberté:  A Call to Spy, a dramatic portrayal of the true stories of the first women recruited and sent by the British military to occupied France with orders to disrupt the Nazi war machine.

The courageous heroism of soldiers risking their lives to counter the Nazis is not a new story.  It is new, at least for the big screen, that the heroes featured in Liberté are women, and it is certainly worth discussing why it has taken so long for their stories to be celebrated in this way.  What made these women truly remarkable, in addition to the challenges they had to overcome as “lady spies,” was the strength of their common conviction despite their varied identities and experiences.  The lead characters enter the frame in Liberté bound by how the world sees them — an American foreign servant with a disability, a Muslim pacifist of Indian heritage, and a Romanian Jew fearing deportation.  By the end of the story, their shared commitment to defend the human dignity of others supersedes any limiting labels, and their diversity proves critical to the success of their respective missions.

A jury of local ADL staff and supporters annually present the ADL Stand Up Award to a film in the festival that exemplifies the impact storytelling can have in fostering mutual understanding and respect, consistent with ADL’s mission “to secure justice and fair treatment for all.”  Given the recent and deeply troubling trend of rising hate and violence directed towards religious, racial, and ethnic minorities in the U.S. and around the world, ADL is proud to stand up with these filmmakers in highlighting the real-life heroism of standing up to fear-based aggression towards others solely on account of who they are.

Liberté: A Call to Spy is directed by Lydia Dean Pilcher, and stars Sarah Megan Thomas (“Equity”), who also wrote the screenplay and produced, Stana Katic (“Castle”), and Radhika Apte (“Andhadhun”).  More info about the film can be found on twitter @libertethemovie.

The festival’s U.S. premiere of Liberté will occur on January 16.  ADL is hosting a cocktail Soireé in honor of the Stand Up Award at 6:15pm in the Lobero Theater Courtyard, to be followed by the film’s premiere at 7:40pm in the Fiesta 5 Theater with a Q&A thereafter with Lydia Dean Pilcher and Sarah Megan Thomas.  Tickets to ADL’s Soireé (which include a confirmed seat at the 7:40pm screening) can only be purchased at support.ADL.org/STANDUP2020 or by calling 805-564-6670.  Limited general admission to the 7:40pm showing will be available for the festival pass or ticket holders.

The film is also screening at the Metro 2 Theater on Friday, January 17 at 2:20pm and Saturday, January 18 at 5:20pm for the festival pass or ticket holders.

This is the fifth year ADL has sponsored its Stand Up Award.  Previous winners explored the lives of a drag performer in Cuba (Viva, 2016), Polish migrant workers in Sweden (Strawberry Days, 2017), Syrian refugees seeking passage to Berlin (Sky and Ground, 2018), and a team of basketball players with disabilities (Campeones, 2019).\

This year’s Soireé is being sponsored in part by the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara.  For information about sponsorship opportunities, please contact ADL at 805-564-6670.

ADL, founded in 1913, is among the world’s leading organizations fighting bigotry, hatred, and discrimination.  Learn more at www.adl.org.  ADL’s Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties Office was established in 2001.  Follow it on twitter @ADLSantaBarbara.

(Source: SBIFF press release)

Latest Additions to 2020 Sundance Film Festival Announced

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Brothels
Born into Brothels

The Social Dilemma Joins Documentary Premieres; Born into Brothels and High Art Are From The Collection Films

Special Event Love Fraud Confirmed as Day One Screening

 

(FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE) Park City, UT — Sundance Institute adds three feature films to the 2020 Sundance Film Festival’s robust slate of independent work today, alongside previously announced work. The Institute also confirmed that previously-announced Special Event, Love Fraud, will screen on Day One of the Festival. The Festival will take place in Park City, Salt Lake City and at Sundance Mountain Resort on January 23–February 2, 2020.

Pulling from the vault of festivals past, archival selection High Art will be presented thanks to a newly created DCP provided by Focus Features/Universal Pictures. Lisa Cholodenko’s feature debut, featuring a breakthrough performance from Patricia Clarkson and Radha Mitchell, and an award-winning turn from Ally Sheedy, High Art premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. High Art follows an ambitious female magazine editor who has a chance encounter with her neighbor, a brilliant photographer who’s lost in an underworld of sex and drugs. As the two begin a passionate love affair, a powerful struggle ensues and a story of ambition, sacrifice, seduction, and other career moves unfolds.

Born into Brothels, the second archival screening, won the Documentary Audience Award when it premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival. A tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, Born into Brothels is a portrait of several unforgettable children of prostitutes living in the red light district of Calcutta. Photographer Zana Briski gives the children cameras as they learn to see the world with new eyes. The film, which highlights the immensely restorative, empowering, and liberating nature of art, went on to win an Academy Award® for Documentary Feature in 2005. Nearly lost in a fire, Born into Brothels has been digitally restored, and a DCP was created through a collaboration between Sundance Institute, UCLA Film & Television Archive, and the Academy Film Archive branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Archival screenings are made possible by the Sundance Institute Collection at UCLA and give audiences the opportunity to discover and rediscover the films that have shaped the heritage of both Sundance Institute and independent storytelling. To address the specific preservation risks posed to independent film, including high costs of storage, lab closures, issues around intellectual property rights, and damage from neglect, Sundance Institute partnered with UCLA Film & Television Archive in 1997 to form the Sundance Institute Collection at UCLA.

The Collection has grown to over 4,000 holdings representing nearly 2,300 titles, and is dedicated to preserving independent feature-length and short films supported by Sundance Institute. Celebrating the history of independent film, past From the Collection screenings have included The Blair Witch Project, Hours and Times, River of Grass, Paris is Burning, Desert Hearts, Daughters of the Dust, El Mariachi, sex, lies, and videotape, Hoop Dreams, and Paris, Texas.

DOCUMENTARY PREMIERES

The Social Dilemma / U.S.A. (Director: Jeff Orlowski, Screenwriters: Vickie Curtis, Davis Coombe, Jeff Orlowski, Producer: Larissa Rhodes) — Never before have a handful of tech designers had such control over the way billions of us think, act, and live our lives. Insiders from Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube reveal how these platforms are reprogramming civilization by exposing what’s hiding on the other side of your screen. Cast: Vincent Kartheiser, Skyler Gisondo, Kara Hayward. World Premiere

FROM THE COLLECTION 

Born into Brothels / U.S.A. (Directors: Zana Briski, Ross Kaufman) – A tribute to the resiliency of childhood and the restorative power of art, Born into Brothels is a portrait of several unforgettable children of prostitutes living in the red light district of Calcutta. Photographer Zana Briski gives the children cameras as they learn to see the world with new eyes.

High Art / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lisa Cholodenko, Producers: Dolly Hall, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Susan A. Stover) – A story of ambition, sacrifice, seduction, and other career moves. Syd, an ambitious female magazine editor, has a chance encounter with her neighbor one night, the enigmatic Lucy, a brilliant photographer who’s lost in an underworld of sex and drugs. As the two begin a passionate love affair, a powerful struggle ensues – will Lucy be saved or will Syd be destroyed? Cast: Patricia Clarkson, Tammy Grimes, Gabriel Mann, Radha Mitchell, Bill Sage, Ally Sheedy.
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.

Sundance Film Festival 2020

(Source: Sundance press release)

 

SBIFF ANNOUNCES ALL 8 VIRTUOSOS AWARD HONOREES

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival announced the second wave of recipients to receive the Virtuosos Award presented by UGG®, an honor created to recognize a select group of talent whose noteworthy performances in film have elevated them into the national cinematic dialogue. Cynthia Erivo (Harriet), Beanie Feldstein (Booksmart), Aldis Hodge (Clemency), and George MacKay (1917) will be joining Awkwafina (The Farewell), Taron Egerton (Rocketman), Florence Pugh (Midsommar), and Taylor Russell (Waves) in receiving the award on Saturday, January 18th during the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The tribute will be moderated for the tenth year by Turner Classic Movies host and IMDb special correspondent host Dave Karger.

Dave Karger.png
Dave Karger

“The final four Virtuosos range from comedies to dramas, from the US to the UK, and from lead to supporting roles. But what they all have in common is that they shined in their respective films this year. They’re perfect additions to this exciting evening in Santa Barbara.” says Dave Karger, Turner Classic Movies host and IMDb special correspondent.

Past recipients include Yalitza Aparicio, Sam Elliott, Elsie Fisher, Claire Foy, Richard E. Grant, Thomasin McKenzie, John David Washington, Steven Yeun, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Dano, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Géza Röhrig, Jacob Tremblay, Chadwick Boseman, Ellar Coltrane, Logan Lerman, David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, J.K. Simmons, Jenny Slate, Ann Dowd, Elle Fanning, Ezra Miller, Eddie Redmayne, Omar Sy, Quvenzhane Wallis, Demian Bichir, Rooney Mara, Melissa McCarthy, Shailene Woodley, Andy Serkis, Patton Oswalt, Andrew Garfield, John Hawkes, Lesley Manville, Hailee Steinfeld, Jacki Weaver, Emily Blunt, Carey Mulligan, Saoirse Ronan, Gabourey Sidibe, Michael Stuhlbarg, Casey Affleck, Marion Cotillard, Viola Davis, Rosemarie DeWitt, Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Melissa Leo, James McAvoy, Ellen Page, Amy Ryan, Michael Shannon, Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, Jared Leto, and June Squibb.

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

About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 34 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 95,000 attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community throughout many free educational programs and events. In 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day. In 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.

sbiff3

(Source: SBIFF news announcement)

 

 

Maltin Modern Master Award honoring Brad Pitt at Santa Barbara #SBIFF

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), a Phase Two (the short span of days between Oscar nominations and the actual voting of the Academy members) campaign stop for talent to be seen and to be heard, announced that Brad Pitt is set to receive the prestigious Maltin Modern Master Award. This event will sell out. Tickets are still available here.

Pitt will be honored on Wednesday, January 22nd for his long-standing contributions to the film industry, most recently gracing the silver screen in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood from Columbia Pictures and Ad Astra for New Regency. Leonard Maltin will return for his 29th year to moderate the evening.

Screen Shot 2019-12-16 at 10.41.16 AM
Leonard Maltin

“Brad Pitt wears the mantle of Movie Star with good grace. He’s been giving great performances for several decades, but he makes it look so easy that I fear he’s been taken for granted. After the one-two punch of Ad Astra and Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, this year he’s an ideal choice to be presented the Maltin Modern Master Award,” states Leonard Maltin.

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood visits 1969 Los Angeles, where everything is changing, as TV star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) make their way around an industry they hardly recognize anymore. The ninth film from the writer-director features a large ensemble cast and multiple storylines in a tribute to the final moments of Hollywood’s golden age.

When a mysterious life-threatening event strikes Earth, astronaut Roy McBride (Pitt) goes on a dangerous mission across an unforgiving solar system to uncover the truth about his missing father (Tommy Lee Jones) and his doomed expedition that now, 30 years later, threatens the universe, in James Gray’s Ad Astra.

The Modern Master Award was established in 1995 and is the highest accolade presented by SBIFF. Created to honor an individual who has enriched our culture through accomplishments in the motion picture industry, it was re-named the Maltin Modern Master Award in 2015 in honor of long-time SBIFF moderator and renowned film critic Leonard Maltin. Past recipients include Glenn Close, Denzel Washington, Michael Keaton, Bruce Dern, Ben Affleck, Christopher Plummer, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron, Clint Eastwood, Cate Blanchett, Will Smith, George Clooney and Peter Jackson.

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(Source:SBIFF News Announcement)

 

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.

Clemency_AD

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.

L Dern

 

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

ME CARPET

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

Ted_Serandos

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 on 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.

Akwahfina
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!

Opening Night-1
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?

Screen Shot 2019-10-07 at 1.31.02 AM

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!

Screen Shot 2019-09-25 at 8.42.21 AM

*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.

Screen Shot 2019-09-25 at 8.53.25 PM
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

 

SANTA BARBARA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES WINNERS AND 2021 DATES

Posted by Larry Gleeson

SANTA BARBARA, CA (January 25, 2020) – The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), presented by UGG®, will return for the 36th edition January 27th – February 6th, 2021. 200+ Films featuring over 120 World and US premieres, Industry Panels, Celebrity Tributes, and Educational and Free Community Programs will be held throughout Santa Barbara.

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SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling delivers remarks during the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s American Riviera Award Tribute honoring Rene Zellwegger at the  histporic Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

“It’s been a wonderful 35 years celebrating international cinema as well as our local roots.  We are grateful for all of the staff, volunteers, audiences and filmmakers that were able to join us at SBIFF to come together as a community to celebrate over 200 films – forge a sense of community and love that defies boundary,” SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling.

Also announced today were the award-winning films for the 35th Festival at a breakfast held in their honor at Belmond El Encanto. All awards were announced, culminating in the coveted Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent, which went to Richard Hobert’s The Birdcatcher’s Son (Fågelfångarens son). The films were chosen by jury members Jason Baffa, Max Barbakow, Lisa Black, Alex Carter, Geoff Green, Paul Kurta, Perry Lang, Artie Schmidt, Rita Taggart, Diego Tinoco, John Williams, and Anthony & Arnette Zerbe.

Congratulations to ALL the Winners:

Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent: 

Richard Hobert’s The Birdcatcher’s Son (Fågelfångarens son)

Best Documentary Short Film Award: 

Henry Roosevelt’s Sixth of June

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live-Action Short Film:

Jianna Maartin’s Sin Cielo

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film: 

Jonathan Langager’s Cosmic Fling

Best Documentary Award sponsored by SEE International:

Brian Morrison’s Bastards’ Road

Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film:

Fatos Berisha’s The Flying Circus (Cirku Fluturues)

Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema: 

William Nicholson’s Hope Gap

Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema: 

Gerardo Herrero’s The Goya Murders

Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film: 

Jesper W. Nielsen’s The Exception (Undtagelsen)

ADL Stand Up Award sponsored by ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties: 

Lydia Dean Pilcher’s Liberté: A Call to Spy

Social Justice Award for Documentary Film: 

Katherin Hervey’s The Prison Within

About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and educational organization dedicated to discovering and showcasing the best in independent and international cinema. Over the past 34 years, SBIFF has become one of the leading film festivals in the United States – attracting 95,000 attendees and offering 11 days of 200+ films, tributes and symposiums, fulfilling their mission to engage, enrich, and inspire the Santa Barbara community through film.

Sponsors of the 35th SBIFF include: UGG®, Belvedere Vodka, Netflix, Toyota Mirai, City of Santa Barbara, ADL Santa Barbara/Tri-Counties, Montecito Bank & Trust, Union Bank, Santa Barbara Vintners Foundation, Sephora, Bentson Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, SEE International, Manitou Fund, Patagonia, Winchester Mystery House, Lynda Weinman & Bruce Heavin, Volentine Family Foundation, Boxed Water Is Better, Audrey Hillman Fisher Foundation, California Arts Council and many more supporting through trade.

SBIFF continues its commitment to education and the community throughout many free educational programs and events. In 2016, SBIFF entered a new era with the acquisition of the historic and beloved Riviera Theatre. After a capital campaign and renovation, the theatre is now SBIFF’s new state-of-the-art, year-round home, showing new international and independent films every day. In 2019, SBIFF opened its own Education Center in downtown Santa Barbara on State Street to serve as a home for its many educational programs and a place for creativity and learning.

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