VICEROY’S HOUSE opens this Friday September 1st in Los Angeles, New York and VOD

Posted by Larry Gleeson

A throwback to epic, large screen, big production filmmaking, Viceroy’s House is more than just a visual treat. Gurinder Chadha, raised in Great Britain, weaves a mesmerizing tale with magnificent costuming, larger-than-life production design and an abundantly handsome cast set in 1947 colonial India.

This is one not to be missed.  Here’s my original review from the 67th Berlin International Film Festival .

See the film’s official trailer at the bottom of the page!

VICEROY’S HOUSE from writer/director/producer Gurinder Chadha (BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, BRIDE AND PREJUDICE) opens this Friday, September 1st  in Los Angeles, New York and VOD. VICEROY’S HOUSE will expand into more cities the following week.



Laemmle Royal Theatre

11523 Santa Monica Boulevard, 1st Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90025

Genre:  Drama

Rating:  Unrated

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Language: English

Directed: Gurinder Chadha

Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Manish Dayal, Huma Qureshi, Om Puri

Synopsis: New nations are rarely born in peace… India, 1947: Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) is dispatched, along with his wife Edwina (Gillian Anderson), to New Delhi to oversee the country’s transition from British rule to independence. Taking his place in the resplendent mansion known as the Viceroy’s House, Mountbatten arrives hopeful for a peaceful transference of power. But ending centuries of colonial rule in a country divided by deep religious and cultural differences proves no easy undertaking, setting off a seismic struggle that threatens to tear India apart. With sumptuous period detail, director Gurinder Chadha brings to life a pivotal historical moment that re-shaped the world.​

(Press materials courtesy of IFC Films)


INTERVIEW: AFI Conservatory Alumna Mimi Leder on Directing THE LEFTOVERS

Posted by Larry Gleeson

As an executive producer and director on HBO’s THE LEFTOVERS, Mimi Leder (AFI Class of 1973, Cinematography) brought her deft storytelling touch to the recent series finale. But her work has extended well beyond the prestige mystery series, with Primetime Emmy wins and nominations for ER, THE WEST WING and CHINA BEACH, and film-directing credits including DEEP IMPACT (1998), PAY IT FORWARD (2000) and the upcoming Ruth Bader Ginsburg biopic ON THE BASIS OF SEX.

AFI spoke to Leder about THE LEFTOVERS finale, and her work as a director. Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen season three of THE LEFTOVERS.

Mimi Leder
Mimi Leder

AFI: In all three seasons of THE LEFTOVERS, there has been more conversation than ever this year — especially now that the series has ended.

ML: We’re all trying to wrap our heads around it. There are many endings. You film it, then you edit, then you’re done editing, you’re done mixing, then it airs and you’re done again. It’s been quite an extraordinary time.

There’s perhaps more rallying around this season because more people have found the show. In the beginning, it lost a lot of viewers because it was rather bleak, but still wonderful. Season two came around and we very much worked towards moving to a new town, and I changed the palette of the show, the color, and very much opened up the scope of the show. The show, in its second season, got quite a lot of recognition. And then in the third season, we continued on to Australia and journeyed with our characters there. The reaction to the third season has been absolutely stunning.

AFI: Reportedly, series co-creator Damon Lindelof said that he measures the show in “pre-Mimi” and “post-Mimi,” since you came onboard halfway into the first season. What do you make of that?

ML: They brought me onto the show and I directed it the way I felt it needed to be, and I felt the show needed to be opened up in order to get in there in an even more in an intimate way. It had to allow the audience to breathe a bit. It was a great partnership with Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, and their writing really spoke to me. We had a very special time doing a show about grief and loss, and hope and love. We all had this life-changing experience; we as a group of people in the exploration of faith, and “what is the meaning of life?”

AFI: This also seems like a writers’ room in which no idea was too crazy.

ML: Oftentimes, it was like, “Can we do this? Well, why not? We enjoy it.” Doing a show on a ferry with a sex orgy going on was really an examination of faith in the background of madness. Nothing was too crazy, at least for us. And the response has verified that for sure.

photo 2.jng
Carrie Coon in THE LEFTOVERS

AFI: You directed all three season finales. Was this the most challenging?

ML: They were all challenging. Season three’s finale was, I would say, even more so, because it was the final episode of the series. It was a much quieter episode, and it had almost a comedic feel to it. It almost felt like a rom-com in some instances, and that was very freeing and liberating and really different for our show. In that way, it had to hit the tone just right with our characters, and always stay grounded, and always in the world of our “leftovers.” But I tried not to be too precious about it. There’s always the pressure you put on yourself, when something feels a little bit more important, and that’s where you can go wrong. I ignored those feelings, and always had the mantra in my head: “Keep it simple.”

AFI: You did that beautifully, particularly in the closing monologue. Can you explain the decision not to provide a visual representation of the story that Nora tells about her journey to “the other side”?

ML: We all felt that doing a visual representation of her story would make it feel less ambiguous, and we felt it was very important for her story to be told through Kevin listening to it, and him being our eyes, the audience’s eyes. Kevin had to believe her in order for there to be an opening for love, for them to be together. One of the big themes of this season was our examination of our belief systems, the stories we tell ourselves to get through life. Nora’s story is her story, her belief system. Whether you believe it’s true or not is really unimportant. It really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that she believes it, and that he believes it, and to leave it ambiguous was most important for the audience in order for them to make their decision.

AFI: As a viewer, if you choose to believe that Nora visited this other world, then you get that sort of closure you crave from a series finale.

ML: There really are no answers. There are many answers to the meaning of life, but then again, there are many questions that will never be answered. If we knew all the answers to life, and to the journey, it’d be so boring. Part of the process of living is the exploration, and the journey, and that’s what THE LEFTOVERS, in many ways, was saying. And ultimately, it was this mad love story.

photo 3
Carrie Coon and Justin Theroux in THE LEFTOVERS

AFI: Another scene in the finale that was so well-directed shows Nora entering the “LADR” (low amplitude Denzinger radiation) device. Talk about directing Carrie Coon in that scene.

ML: We come into the world naked, and we go out naked. The script said “naked,” and I didn’t want to shoot around her body. There’s nothing more beautiful than a human body, and I felt she was this little girl walking. She was completely vulnerable and fearless all at the same time, and I wanted to be with her, to always feel like she was walking towards us. I did a lot of shots that emphasized that, but I also wanted to be over her shoulder and behind her, and feel like we were absolutely with her. That was a scary scene. I just tried to keep it simple and powerful, with the big wides and the tights, and to stay with her emotionally.

AFI: You’ve gone back and forth between TV over the years.

ML: I’m in prep to direct a film called ON THE BASIS OF SEX, which is about the young years of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It’s an origin story, and also about the first federal precedent declaring sex-based discrimination unconstitutional.

AFI: What’s exciting to you about returning to film?

ML: I don’t really differentiate one from the other, honestly. My approach to storytelling is always the same, whether it’s on a big screen or a small screen. It’s all about the material. Films are projected big, but I really don’t approach it any differently [than a TV episode].

Prestige television has really evolved, and you see feature filmmakers going back and forth because there’s great work to be done, great stories to be told, in television. They’re making less films, but I would venture to say there are more important stories being told in prestige television, even though I’m making a very important — I think — story on film this year. There’s more opportunity in television to make these stories. Maybe there’s too much. You cannot possibly catch up to everything. It’s just overwhelming.


(Originally posted on

Venice dedicates entire island to VR

Posted by Larry Gleeson

If you thought that the Venice Film Festival had lost its relevance, think again. Since 2013 the oldest film festival in the world has become the launching pad for the Oscars and now embraces the future of cinema by hosting the biggest and boldest presentation of Virtual Reality ever seen at any film festival.

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 12.04.13 AM
The island, Lazzaretto Vecchio, pictured above, will be transformed into a virtual reality paradise during the Biennale from August 31st to September 5th, 2017.

And they do it in a way that only Venice can – with an immaculate sense of style and aplomb. The main big news is that Venice will dedicate an abandoned island in the lagoon to the presentation of the world’s best VR productions.

Located less than 50 meters from the Lido, where the festival takes place, sits Lazzaretto Vecchio. enice VR will literally be just a stone’s throw from the heart of the Festival and The PalaBiennale, which is one of the largest screening venues. This small, abandoned island used to be a leper colony and a quarantine transit island between the 15th and 17th century. The island alone is worth the short trip comments Michel, “There’s so much history in this place.”


About a decade ago, the hospital and the adjoining buildings on the island were partly renovated to house a future Museum of Archeology, which has not materialized to date. Now, Lazzaretto Vecchio has found a new purpose.

VR Theater

Venice VR also features a dedicated VR theater with 50 revolving leather seats located in a huge hangar from the 16th century. Visitors can see three programs in competition. Highlights include the first VR piece, The Deserted (55′), by internationally renowned Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang. Additionally, there will be an Out of Competition program featuring previous VR pieces by directors who are part of this year’s Venice Production Bridge – the pitch market of the Festival.

A fifth program features three pieces from this year’s premiere edition of the Venice Biennale College Cinema – Virtual Reality which will be presented out of competition. The Venice Biennale College is a two-part pressure cooker-style training program that preps participants for a bright 360° interactive immersive future. Two projects (out of ten projects developed during this year’s College) have been made with support from Sony are presented alongside the third piece, a VR spinoff from Beautiful Things, which is one of the three “flat” films produced this year by the Biennale College Cinema.

A small PSVR tie-in piece to the TV-series Snatch on Crackle – Sony’s free, ad-supported media streaming service. A tie-in to Guy Ritchie’s crime comedy from 2000, Snatch is a game where you need to crack the code of a chest.


Venice VR Competition at a glance

A major selection criterium of Venice is that all pieces have to be international or world premieres. The second criterium is of course the quality of the piece. 103 submissions were sent in from all over the world for Venice’s first VR competition. Among the 22 VR pieces that were selected are six room-scale installations, six Oculus and three Vive stand ups.

Three of the former hospital’s extended hallways and galleries will offer plenty of space for Venice’s ambitious VR program. “We will have something like 4000 square meters to just do the installations,” says Michel Reilhac. But it’s not just about the space, he adds. The atmosphere on the island is “simply magical.” This will be the very first time ever that the island is opened to visitors.


Venice Virtual Reality: Installations in Competition

There will be six installations that allow visitors to interact with the space and sometimes with actors. There are a couple of pieces that fall in the category of Reactive Theater; interactive VR experiences that use live performers, also referred to as “reactive actors.” Draw Me Close by the National Theatre and the NFB is a VR installation in which the actors “play” with the audience making the piece more immersive.

For a more complete listing click here!

An impressive VR-teaser for a very ambitious Hollywood-style movie about a futuristic destroyed city.

(Source:, extracted from article by Remco Vlaanderen)


The 61st BFI London Film Festival to run 4-15 October 2017

Posted by Larry Gleeson

BFI London Film Festival in Partnership with American Express® is scheduled to run at venues across the UK capital from 4 -15 October 2017.

The 60th anniversary edition of the Festival last October presented 397 features and short films and achieved a 16% audience increase with 195,595 admissions, including satellite screenings to UK-wide cinemas for the Opening Night gala of A United Kingdom and Werner Herzog’s Lo & Behold (which was also presented, in a first for the Festival, as a virtual premiere). The Closing Night gala was the European premiere of Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire. In total, the Festival presented 587 screenings at 16 venues across the capital.

About the BFI

The BFI was founded in 1933 as a charity governed by a Royal Charter combining cultural, creative and industrial roles, while bringing together the BFI National Archive and BFI Reuben Library, film distribution, exhibition and education at BFI Southbank and BFI IMAX, publishing and festivals.

In addition, BFI awards Lottery funding to film production, distribution, education, audience development and market intelligence and research. BFI2022 is a five year strategic plan to shape the BFI’s next chapter for film, television and the moving image.




Posted by Larry Gleeson


AUGUST 16, 2017


LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present From Latin America to Hollywood: Latino Film Culture in Los Angeles, 1967–2017, a series of film screenings, live conversations, oral histories, publications and a dedicated website exploring the shared influences of Latino and Latin American filmmakers and the work they created or presented in Los Angeles during the past half-century.  The screening series, which runs from September 16, 2017 through January 18, 2018, is a part of the Academy’s participation in the Getty-led Southern California-wide arts initiative Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.

Guest-curated by Oscar®-nominated documentarian Lourdes Portillo, From Latin America to Hollywood focuses on the social, cultural and political environment of the 1960s that sparked the Chicano and New Latin American cinema movements.  The program highlights an extensive series of 25 oral histories of such notable Latino and Latin American filmmakers as Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Gregory Nava, Lucrecia Martel, Patricia Cardoso and Luis Valdez, offering a rare opportunity for audiences to experience their perspectives firsthand.  As part of the screening series, the directors’ films will be presented together with public conversations about filmmaking and, in some cases, will premiere new Academy Film Archive restorations. The Academy’s oral history interviews were filmed between May 2014 and September 2016 and can be viewed on the Academy’s website here beginning September 15.

The Academy’s publication for the project, titled From Latin America to Hollywood: Latino Film Culture in Los Angeles 1967-2017, explores the intersections, inspirations, and creative intentions of a wide-ranging group of Latino and Latin American filmmakers through the gathering, and close reading, of their oral histories, by an acclaimed group of scholars and writers. The book will be available for free digital download here beginning September 15.

In addition, From Latin America to Hollywood: A Public Symposium, will feature three panel discussions, “The Historical Latino in Hollywood,” “LA/LA and the New Cinema” and “How do Latinas Experience Hollywood?,” which will explore themes raised by the oral history subjects and publication contributors, including issues of origins and identity, borders and migration, choice of language, translation, and emerging voices.

Tickets for the symposium and screening series go on sale September 5 and can be purchased here.  Additional screenings to be announced.

The series is as follows:

Saturday, September 164:15 p.m.
Linwood Dunn Theater, Hollywood
Presented by NEWFILMMAKERS Los Angeles and AMPAS, in partnership with the SAG-AFTRA Diversity Committee and NALIP.

“The Historical Latino in Hollywood” and “LA/LA and the New Cinema”
Saturday, September 232 p.m.

Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills
Featuring the authors of From Latin America to Hollywood: Latino Film Culture in Los Angeles 1967-2017.

“How Do Latinas Experience Hollywood?”
Saturday, September 237 p.m.

Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills
Featuring Documentarian Lourdes Portillo, directors Aurora Guerrero, Patricia Riggen and Fina Torres, producer Monica Reina, publicist Ivette Rodriguez, writers Gabriella Tagliavini and Ligiah Villalobos (schedules permitting).

ZOOT SUIT (1981)
Monday, September 257:30 p.m.
Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills
With Archive restoration of Valdez short, I AM JOAQUIN (1969). Director Luis Valdez and actors Edward James Olmos, Alma Martinez, Tony Plana in person (schedules permitting).

Monday, October 2, 20177:30 p.m.
Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills
Special guests to be announced.

Saturday, October 7, 20177:30 p.m.
Linwood Dunn Theater, Hollywood
Home movies from the Academy Film Archive featuring Gilbert Roland, Desi Arnaz, Delores Del Río and more.

Monday, October 9, 20177:30 p.m.
Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills
Actors Cheech Marin, Daniel Stern and Kamala Lopez in person (schedules permitting).

Saturday, October 145:00 p.m.
La Plaza Cultura y Artes, Downtown
Actors Lou Diamond Phillips and Esai Morales in person (schedules permitting).

Monday, October 167:30 p.m.
Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills
Director Patricia Cardoso, producer Effie Brown, and actors Soledad St. Hilaire and screenwriter Josefina Lopez (schedules permitting).

Monday, October 237:30 p.m.
Samuel Goldwin Theater, Beverly Hills
Featuring clips from the Academy’s Oral History project
Producer David Weissman in person (schedules permitting).

DRACULA (1931) Spanish Language Version
Saturday, October 28, 20172 p.m.

Linwood Dunn Theater, Hollywood
Family screening with a LAUREL & HARDY Spanish language short.  Producers Pancho Kohner, Paul Weitz and actress Susan Kohner (schedules permitting).

Monday, October 307:30 p.m.
Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills
Director Guillermo del Toro and producer Bertha Navarro in person (schedules permitting).

Monday, November 67:30 p.m.
Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills
Special guests to be announced.

Saturday, November 411am-4pm

Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
As part of the Academy’s programs for Pacific Standard Time LA/LA, participants in this event will help create new Wikipedia entries related to Latin American filmmakers and their films, and update existing records.

Monday, November 137:30 p.m.

Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills
Actors Jorge Perugorria and Mirta Ibarra in person (schedules permitting).

Saturday, November 182:00 p.m.
Linwood Dunn Theater, Hollywood
Academy Film Archive restoration and family screening
Special guests Ángel Macías and José Maiz García (schedules permitting).

Saturday, November 187:00 p.m.
Linwood Dunn Theater, Hollywood
Family screening with actors Edward James Olmos and Lou Diamond Phillips in person (schedules permitting).

Monday, November 20, 2017 –  7:30 p.m.
Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills
Actor Goya Toledo in person (schedules permitting).

DANZÓN (1991)
Monday, November 277:30 p.m.
Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills
Cinematographer Rodrigo Garcia in person (schedules permitting).

Monday, December 47:30 p.m.
Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills
New Uncensored Mexican Archive version.
Director Arturo Ripstein and screenwriter Paz Alicia Garciadiego in person (schedules permitting).

EL NORTE (1983)
Monday, December 117:30 p.m. 
Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills
Director/story Gregory Nava, producer/screenwriter Anna Thomas and actor Zaide Silvia Gutiérez in person (schedules permitting).

El Norte (1983) was restored in 2017 by the Academy Film Archive, supported in part by the Getty Foundation.


# # #



The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 7,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which is under construction in Los Angeles.



From Latin America to Hollywood: Latino Film Culture In Los Angeles, 1967–2017 is part of Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles, taking place from September 2017 through January 2018 at more than 70 cultural institutions across Southern California. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America.

Through a series of thematically linked exhibitions and programs, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA highlights different aspects of Latin American and Latino art from the ancient world to the present day. With topics such as luxury arts in the pre-Columbian Americas, 20th century Afro-Brazilian art, alternative spaces in Mexico City, and boundary-crossing practices of Latino artists, exhibitions range from monographic studies of individual artists to broad surveys that cut across numerous countries.

Supported by more than $16 million in grants from the Getty Foundation, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA involves more than 70 cultural institutions from Los Angeles to Palm Springs, and from San Diego to Santa Barbara. Pacific Standard Time is an initiative of the Getty. The presenting sponsor is Bank of America

Major support for this program and publication is provided through grants from the Getty Foundation. El Norte (1983) was restored in 2017 by the Academy Film Archive, supported in part by the Getty Foundation.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit

Additional support is provided, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.

The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez (1982) was restored in 2016 by the Academy Film Archive. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit

(Source: Press release from Academy Publicity Department)

Can a Netflix comedy win an Oscar?

Posted by Larry Gleeson

(excerpts from Dan Montgomery,

Netflix has released a trailer for its upcoming film, The Meyerowitz Stories, written and directed by Noah Baumbach. Ben Stiller, and Elizabeth Marvel star as siblings who contend with the influence of their strong-willed father played by Dustin Hoffman. The film screened in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival without screening in any French theaters. The festival instituted new rules to take effect in 2018: no film may compete for the Palme without plans for theatrical distribution in France.

Here in the U.S. Netflix films have been similarly controversial at the Oscars. While Netflix documentaries like Virunga and 13th have been welcomed, the company was unable to make a dent with its 2015 narrative film, Beasts of No Nation, which was made available online at the same time as its limited, Oscar-qualifying release. The snub of that film was significant also because it contributed to the #OscarsSoWhite protest — Idris Elba was considered a strong contender for Best Supporting Actor that year, and he would have been the only person of color nominated for an acting award — but the Netflix factor was also a probable contributor to its shortfall.

Amazon Studios has also dipped its toe in the water when it comes to producing awards hopefuls. But, it has had better luck, perhaps because it follows a more traditional distribution model. Last November the company released Manchester by the Sea with Roadside Attractions. It didn’t become available to Amazon Prime subscribers until the following May.

Undaunted, Netflix will simultaneously release The Meyerowitz Stories in select theaters and on Netflix beginning October 13th!

Stay tuned for more on Netflix and its chase for Oscars.


(Source: ‘The Meyerowitz Stories’ trailer: Can Adam Sandler Netflix comedy win Oscars after Cannes controversy? – by Dan Montgomery,






New Film Festival Debuts This November

Posted by Larry Gleeson

In a dramatic brand expansion, NBC News’ MEET THE PRESS WITH CHUCK TODD will hit the big screen for the first time this fall, joining forces with AFI for an innovative documentary film festival premiere featuring must-watch untold stories of American politics.

See the live news announcement here.

The first-ever Meet The Press Film Festival n Collaboration with the American Film Institute will be held this November in Washington, DC, featuring seven short-length documentary films produced with a diversity of perspectives. Submissions are now being accepted.

The commanding journalism of “Meet the Press” is a natural fit with AFI, an institute established in 1967 after President Johnson’s mandate — to bring “together leading artists of the film industry, outstanding educators and young men and women who wish to pursue the 20th-century art form as their life’s work.” AFI is also known for its acclaimed Washington, DC-area documentary festival. The innovative collaboration not only combines NBC News’ benchmark political reporting with AFI’s dedication to connecting audiences, filmmakers and policy leaders — it celebrates the 70th and 50th anniversaries, respectively, of both historical institutions.

With politics-themed and issue-oriented documentaries more popular now than ever before, the groundbreaking November film festival is a consequential expansion for the longest-running show on television. By pairing gold standard reporting with long-form storytelling, MEET THE PRESS and AFI are redefining the gravity and scope of a Sunday public affairs program in 21st century political journalism.

More information on the first-ever film festival will be announced in the coming weeks.





Posted by Larry Gleeson


Napa, California (August 15, 2017) – The 7th annual Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF), scheduled to take place November 8 – 12, today announced its Narrative and Documentary Feature Film lineups in core competition. The members of the jury, as well as the complete program of approximately 120 films, including features out-of-competition, features in the festival’s adventurous Lounge program, special presentations, sneak previews of award season contenders, and narrative and documentary shorts and short features, will be announced at an upcoming date in September.


The 18 films in NVFF’s core competition categories will vie for the titles of Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary Feature, as determined by the juries. The directors of these 18 films will participate in NVFF’s unique Artists-in-Residence (AIR) Program that includes a six-night stay at the luxury resort Meadowood Napa Valley. The residency includes master classes and break out sessions with industry leaders as well as social and networking opportunities at special events throughout the festival.


In partnership with Screencraft, NVFF launched an inaugural Screenplay Competition this summer, and the winner and runner up of the contest will also participate in the AIR Program. Screencraft has invited prestigious screenwriters Jim Rash (The Descendants) and Jenny Lumet (Rachel Getting Married) to attend NVFF as members of this year’s festival faculty and mentors of the AIR Program. Additional faculty members for this year include acclaimed writer Lee Aronsohn; Gabrielle Carteris (President of SAG-AFTRA); producers Nicolas Gonda and Christine Vachon; indie film distributor Kevin Iwashina; documentary directors Leslie Iwerks, Jamie Redford and Jason Wise; Dan Mirvish (filmmaker and Slamdance Co-Founder); Nick Soares (CEO of GoDigital). Additional festival faculty members will be announced soon.


At this year’s Awards Ceremony, Juried and Audience Awards will be presented on Saturday, November 11 at the Uptown Theatre in Napa. Juried Awards, decided by three jurors on each of the five juries, include Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary Short, Best Lounge Feature and Best Lounge Short (from a collection of bolder, edgier films), Best Ensemble Cast, Best Screenplay, and Special Jury Prizes. Audience Awards include Favorite Narrative Feature, Favorite Narrative Short, Favorite Documentary Feature, Favorite Documentary Short, Favorite Short Feature, Favorite Actress and Favorite Actor. Each winner will be presented a large format collectible bottle of wine from one of the festival’s Vintner Circle members. Additionally, the winners of the Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary Feature will each receive $10,000 courtesy of Meadowood Napa Valley.


“We’re excited about the creative storytelling, diverse story lines, and inspirational themes represented in the narrative and documentary features in our core competition films this year,” said Marc Lhormer, NVFF Co-Founder and Artistic Director. “We look forward to hosting these talented filmmakers for the seventh installment of our unique Artists-in-Residence Program at Meadowood Napa Valley and introducing them and their films to our appreciative audiences.”




  • American FolkTwo strangers, both folk musicians stranded in California, embark on a road trip to New York in the days following 9/11. Starring Joe Purdy and Amber Rubarth. Directed by David Heinz. Northern California Premiere.


  • The Boy DownstairsA young woman is forced to reflect on a past relationship when she inadvertently moves into her ex-boyfriend’s apartment building. Starring Zosia Mamet and Matthew Shear. Directed by Sophie Brooks. Napa Premiere.


  • The House of TomorrowThe House of Tomorrow conveys the incredible story of futurist, architect, and inventor R. Buckminster through one teen’s quest to join a punk bank and survive high school. Starring Maude Apatow, Ellen Burstyn, Asa Butterfield, Nick Offerman, Alex Wolff. Directed by Peter Livolsi. Napa Premiere.


  • I Can I Will I DidBen, a dejected young man in the foster system, finds himself immobilized after a horrible accident. His recovery process is slow until he meets a fellow patient at the hospital who breathes hope into his life and introduces him to her grandfather, Taekwondo Master Kang. Starring Mike Faist, Ik Jo Kang, Ellie Lee. Directed by Nadine Truong. Northern California Premiere


  • People You May KnowPeople You May Know follows Jed, a 30-something introvert who has managed to abstain from social media, until he realizes that the life he can fake is much more interesting than the life he actually leads. Starring Nicholas Rutherford, Halston Sage, Kaily Smith Westbrook, Nick Thune and Usher.  Directed by Sherwin Shilati. Napa Premiere.


  • The SoundingOn a remote island off the coast of Maine, Liv, after years of silence, weaves a unique language out of Shakespeare’s words. A driven neurologist, brought to the island to protect her, commits her to a psychiatric hospital where she fights for her voice and her freedom. Starring Catherine Eaton, Teddy Sears and Harris Yulin. Directed by Catherine Eaton. Napa Premiere.


  • StuckA New York City subway train stops in the tunnel beneath the city with six complete strangers stuck inside the rear car. The emotions of the trapped, frustrated passengers explode, as the subway car becomes a kind of magical, musical, conduit cell. Starring Ashanti, Omar Chaparro, Arden Cho, Giancarlo Esposito and Amy Madigan. Directed by Michael Berry. Northern California Premiere.


  • Tater Tot & Patton – A wayward millennial is sent into isolation on a South Dakota ranch, derailing her Uncle’s alcoholic spiral and forcing him to face his consuming grief. Starring Jessica Rothe, Forrest Weber and Bates Wilder. Directed by Andrew Kightlinger. Northern California Premiere


  • QuestMills, an abused 12-year-old graffiti addict, and Tim, a humble middle school teacher, form an uneasy friendship when Tim recognizes that Mills poor behavior is merely a cry for help. Tim is willing to sacrifice his job, reputation and relationships in order to win the child’s trust. Starring Betsy Brandt, Dash Mihok, Lou Diamond Phillips and Lakeith Stanfield. Directed by Santiago Rizzo. West Coast Premiere




  • ACORN and the Firestorm – ACORN, America’s largest grassroots community organizing group, became a major player in the 2008 presidential election that resulted in Barack Obama’s victory. Big businesses, Republicans, and Right-wing activists took issue with the group and attempted to strike back. The ensuing political drama has served as a prescient foreshadowing of today’s political climate. Directed by Reuben Atlas and Samuel D. Pollard. California Premiere


  • Catching Sight of Thelma & LouiseCatching Sight of Thelma & Louise investigates themes of female friendship, personal freedom, harassment, rape and empowerment. Our guides on this journey are female and male filmgoers who, in 1991, wrote letters sharing their thoughts and feelings about Thelma & Louise. They revisit their original impressions, comparing them with how they feel today. Directed by Jennifer Townsend. Northern California Premiere


  • CoyoteCoyote documents the inspiring story of legendary American sailor, Mike Plant. Despite all that he accomplishes in sailing, Plant’s heart is never satisfied. His final creation, Coyote, a radically designed vessel built on the edge of speed and safety, symbolizes Plant’s course in life: running before the wind, always with an eye to the sea. Directed by Thomas Simmons. Northern California Premiere


  • A Fine LineA Fine Line explores why on 6% of head chefs and restaurant owners are women, when traditionally women have always held the central role in the kitchen and influenced many of the greatest male chefs. This opens a dialogue on gender inequality, motherhood and career balance, and how this inequity in the kitchen is representative of industries across the board. Directed by Joanna James. West Coast Premiere


  • The Gateway BugOver 2 billion people on earth eat insects for protein. The Gateway Bug explores how changing daily eating habits can feed humanity in an uncertain age, one meal at a time. Directed by Johanna B. Kelly. Napa Premiere.


  • Laddie: The Man Behind the MoviesThe undisclosed story of Alan Ladd Jr., producer and former 20th Century Fox chairman, the movie mogul who green lit films such as Star Wars, Blade Runner and Alien. Directed by Amanda Ladd-Jones (Ladd’s daughter). Northern California Premiere


  • Mighty Ground With the help of unlikely friendships along the way, a homeless songwriter tries to kick a hard-core crack addiction and escape the grisly streets of skid row via his love of music. Directed by Delila Vallot. Northern California Premiere


  • Skid Row MarathonA criminal court judge starts a running club comprised of homeless drug addicts, a recovering single mom and a paroled murderer on L.A.’s notorious skid row. As they train together to run in international marathons, they learn to dream big as they are re-acquainted with their own dignity. Directed by Mark Hayes. Northern California Premiere


  • The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin honors beloved storyteller Armistead Maupin, and chronicles his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer whose novels inspired millions to re-claim their lives. Directed by Jennifer M. Kroot. Napa Premiere.


About The Napa Valley Film Festival

The ultimate celebration of film, food and wine, NVFF lights up wine country at the most colorful time of year, November 8-12. NVFF presents over 120 new independent films and studio sneak previews in 9 beautiful venues throughout the Valley. Attendees interact with over 300 filmmakers at screenings, and enjoy wine tastings, culinary demos, winemaker dinners, Celebrity Tributes, the Awards Ceremony and Festival Gala, Opening and Closing Night parties and more.  The Napa Valley Film Festival (NVFF) is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization headquartered in Napa, California. Visit for more information or call 707.226.7500.


Presenting Sponsor: Lexus Short Films

Major Sponsor: Meadowood Napa Valley

Leading Sponsors: Stella Artois, Charles Krug Winery, Westin Verasa Napa, Raymond Vineyards, Cognition, Colorzone, AVMS, DoNapa

Supporting Sponsors: Freemark Abbey, Whole Foods Market, Mattera|Cunat Family Vineyards

Media Sponsors: Travel + Leisure, Wine Spectator, Variety, NCM


# # #

Media Contact:

Ashley Patterson

B|W|R Public Relations

(Source: Press release provided by EWrica Markle, BWR)


The AFI FEST Interview: Wevr’s James Kaelan on Virtual Reality Storytelling

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 4.02.32 PMEach year, AFI FEST presented by Audi highlights cutting-edge virtual reality (VR) storytelling with the State of the Art Technology Showcase. I attended last year and heard Keynote Speaker, Anthony Blatt, Co-Founder of Wevr, at the AFI FEST 2016 State of the Art Technology Showcase. Like it or not VR is here to stay. Moreover, VR offers some substantial benefits.

AFI spoke with James Kaelan, current Director of Development + Acquisitions at VR creative studio and production company Wevr, about his work in VR and the future of the medium. Formerly Creative Director at Seed&Spark, Kaelan brought his immersive short-film horror experience THE VISITOR to AFI FEST last year for the Showcase.

AFI: What got you interested in creating VR work in the first place?

JK: I’m as surprised as anyone to find myself working in VR. I’ve always considered myself something of a Luddite — skeptical, generally, of the advance of technology. But back at the end of 2014, Anthony Batt, who’s a co-founder of Wevr, was advising at Seed&Spark (which I helped co-found), and invited our team to visit their offices and watch some of the preliminary 360 video and CGI work they were producing. I remember sitting in the conference room and putting on the prototype of the Samsung Gear VR, and being immediately shocked by the potential of the technology. This wasn’t some shiny new feature grafted onto cinema — like 3D or a rumble pack in your theater chair. This was a new medium, requiring a brand new language.

James KaelanJames Kaelan

AFI: What misconceptions do you think are out there among audiences when they first encounter VR work?

JK: I think audiences, rightfully, expect a lot from the medium. Most people who’ve had any direct contact with the very broad array of experiences that we broadly group together as “VR” have still only seen monoscopic 360 video, either on a Google Cardboard or a Gear. And with such work, after you’ve gotten over the initial thrill of discovering that you can look around, essentially, the inside of a sphere, your expectations accelerate. Two years ago we were still at the Lumière brothers stage of VR. Workers leaving a factory? Awesome. Train pulling into a station? Super awesome. But unlike with cinema in its early years, the audience for VR has extremely high expectations about narrative complexity and image fidelity gleaned from the last 130 years of film. They won’t tolerate inferior quality for very long. So those of us on the creative — and technical — side of the medium have to find a way to meet those assumptions. Some creators, in a rush to find a viable language in VR, have resorted to jamming it into the paradigm of framed storytelling, force-mediating the viewer’s perspective through edits, and teaching the audience to remain passive. And I don’t want to dismiss those techniques out of hand. But I think it’s our job to actually forget the rules we apply to other media, and continue striving to invent a brand new way of telling stories. When we begin to master that new language, audiences will come in droves.

AFI: What’s the biggest challenge documentary filmmakers encounter when creating something for the VR space?

JK: I would actually say that documentary filmmakers are better equipped, naturally, to transition into VR — or at least the 360 video element of it. And I say this because, without painting “nonfiction” storytellers with too broad a brush (and without sinking into the mire of the objectivity versus subjectivity debate), documentary filmmakers engage with existing subjects, rather than inventing new ones from scratch. Certainly when you look to the vérité side of documentary film, where the goal is observation rather than participation or investigation, 360 should feel quite natural to those artists — because it’s actually closer (I say with great trepidation) to a purer strain of objectivity: because you’ve gotten rid of the frame. You’ve chosen where to place the camera and when, but you’re capturing the entirety of the environment simultaneously. Fiction filmmakers are probably less likely to encounter — or invent — story-worlds that unfold in both halves of the sphere simultaneously. All of that is to say, I literally wish I’d spent more time making long-take docs before moving into VR!

AFI: What types of artists are you looking to work with at Wevr?

JK: Wevr is in this unique place where we’ve made a name for ourselves making some of the most phenomenal, intricate, interactive, CG, room-scale VR — like theBlu and Gnomes & Goblins — while simultaneously making, and being recognized on the international film festival circuit, for 360 monoscopic video work that has cost less than $10,000 to produce. So I don’t want to pigeonhole Wevr. We make simulations with Jon Favreau on one end, and on the other, we work with college students who are interning with us during the summer. What unites those two groups is that both maximize, or exceed, what’s capable within the constraints of their given budgets. Within reason, you give any artist enough time and money and she’ll make something incredible. More impressive — and more attractive to us — is the artist who can innovate in times of scarcity and abundance. At this moment in the history of VR, if you can tell stories dynamically without having to hire a team of engineers to execute your vision, you’ll get more work done. You’ll actually get to practice your craft. Later you can have a team of 100, and a budget of a million times that.

AFI: What’s a common mistake you see new artists making when they first start creating work for the VR space?

JK: Artists working in VR try to replicate what’s already familiar to them. And ironically, it’s the filmmakers who have the toughest time transitioning — myself included. We miss the frame. We miss the authorial hand that mediates perspective and attention. We miss the freedom to juxtapose through editing. And because we miss those things, our first inclination is to figure out how to port them into VR. The best — and least possible — approach is to forget everything you know, like Pierre Menard trying to write the Quixote. Whereas artists from theater, from the gallery and museum installation world, come to VR almost naturally. They think about physical navigation and multi-sensory experience. They think about how things feel to the touch. They think about how things smell. They think about how the viewer moves, most importantly. That’s an invaluable perspective to have at this still-early stage in VR.

AFI: What was your experience like showcasing VR work at AFI FEST?

JK: For me — and for my collaborators on the project, Blessing Yen and Eve Cohen — showing THE VISITOR at AFI FEST last year was an honor. In order to earn a living while being a filmmaker, I’ve done a lot of different jobs. In the beginning I bussed tables. Later I got to write about film for living. Now I get to create, and help others create, VR. But during that entire time, from clearing dishes at Mohawk Bend in Echo Park six years ago to working at Wevr now, AFI FEST has been the same: a free festival, stocked with the most discerning slate of films (and now VR) from around the world. And I’ve gone every year since I’ve lived in LA. So, it meant a lot to me to be included last year. On top of that, the presentation of the VR experiences themselves, spread around multiple dedicated spaces that never felt oppressively crowded or loud, made AFI one of my favorite stops on the circuit last year.

Interactive and virtual reality entries for AFI FEST 2017 presented by Audi are now being accepted for the State of the Art Technology Showcase, which highlights one-of-a-kind projects and events at the intersection of technology, cinema and innovation. The deadline to submit your projects is August 31, 2017. Submit today at or




Posted by Larry Gleeson

Inmates at Folsom Prison participate in a four day therapy session together with three men from the outside in a scene from the award winning documentary film – THE WORK  – DIRECTED BY JAIRUS MCLEARY and CO-DIRECTED BY GETHIN ALDOUS.  Photo Credit:  The Orchard



AUGUST 14, 2017  – LOS ANGELES – The critically acclaimed documentary feature The Work, from director Jairus McLeary and co-director Gethin Aldous, will hit theaters starting October 20th in New York and October 27th in Los Angeles with more cities following. The Orchard and First Look Media’s new entertainment studio Topic acquired North American rights to the film in April this year.

The film from the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature at South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival 2017 and took home the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2017.

The Work ( has screened at the SF DocFest, AFI Docs 2017, Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2017, Traverse City Film Festival 2017, Seattle International Film Festival 2017, Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival 2017, BAM Cinématek 2017 and Melbourne International Film Festival. It will screen as part of the Rooftop Films 2017 – Summer Series on August 18.

Set inside a single room in Folsom Prison, The Work (88 minutes) follows three men from outside as they participate in a four-day group therapy retreat with level-four convicts. Over the four days, each man in the room takes his turn at delving deep into his past. The raw and revealing process that the incarcerated men undertake exceeds the expectations of the free men, ripping them out of their comfort zones and forcing them to see themselves and the prisoners in unexpected ways. The Work offers a powerful and rare look past the cinder block walls, steel doors and the dehumanizing tropes in our culture to reveal a movement of change and redemption that transcends what we think of as rehabilitation.

IndieWire’s chief film critic Eric Kohn said The Work is: “The most powerful group therapy session ever caught on camera.” And “A compelling emotional display, one that captures masculinity at its most innocent and leads to profound displays of compassion.” 

And Variety‘s chief film critic Peter Debruge said the film offers a “remarkable vérité potrait.” “This documentary makes clear that in its own special way, the “work” is working,” said Debruge. “The Work‘s power comes in watching how well the prisoners (many of whom have been through the program multiple times before) adapt to helping” an outsider through his own personal catharsis.”

Jairus McLeary is a court videographer and filmmaker. The Work is his first documentary. He spent over a decade as a volunteer for the four-day therapeutic workshop, ultimately gaining the trust of the convicts in order to film. Gethin Aldous directs motion capture for a major video gaming company. After his own volunteer experience at Folsom he joined forces with McLeary. This is his second documentary feature.

The Work showcases the unique approach of the non-profit Inside Circle, which helps prisoners and parolees heal from the inside. According to the organization, The Inside Circle Foundation focuses on reducing prison violence, lowering recidivism, and guiding inmates through healing that allows for meaningful lives after release.

The Work is a production of Blanketfort Media and a McLeary Brothers film.



A Release by The Orchard

Blanketfort Media Presents

A McLeary Brothers Film

Director: Jairus McLeary

Co-Director: Gethin Aldous

Editor: Amy Foote

Producers: Alice Henty, Jairus McLeary, Eon McLeary, Miles McLeary, Angela Sostre

Executive Producers: James McLeary, Rob Allbee, Gethin Aldous

Director of Photography: Arturo Santamaria

Production sound recordist: Thomas Curley

(Press materials provided by David Magdael & Associates)