SBIFF’s Outstanding Performer of the Year announced!

Posted by Larry Gleeson

SACHA BARON COHEN
OUTSTANDING PERFORMER OF THE YEAR AWARD
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7, 2021
TICKETS WILL BE AVAILABLE SOON

Sacha Baron Cohen will receive the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award at the 36th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Baron Cohen will be honored on Wednesday, April 7 for his critically acclaimed work in both Aaron Sorkin’s THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 from Netflix and BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM from Amazon Studios.

Roger Durling (photo by Clint Weisman Studio)

“In 2020, Mr. Cohen twice was able to capture our interest, our imagination as well as the zeitgeist. His work in both films is timely, urgent, and nuanced,” noted SBIFF’s Executive Director Roger Durling.

An Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and Golden Globe-winning actor, Sacha Baron Cohen is unmatched in his skills as a multi-hyphenate actor, comedian, screenwriter, and producer. He is best known for his portrayal of iconic characters Ali G, Borat Sagdiyev, Brüno Gehard, Admiral General Aladeen, and Erran Morrad. Baron Cohen has also starred in Adam McKay’s TALLADEGA NIGHTS: THE BALLAD OF RICKY BOBBYMartin Scorsese’s HUGO, Tom Hooper’s LES MISÉRABLES, and Tim Burton’s SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET.

Most recently, Baron Cohen starred in two politically driven and emotionally resonate films. Among a brilliant ensemble of actors in Aaron Sorkin’s THE TRIAL OF CHICAGO 7, Baron Cohen shines as real-life yippie activist Abbie Hoffman. Critics hailed his performance noting he is “savvy and soulfully aware of his urgency” and that he “brought deep resonance” with his performance as Hoffman. Similarly, Baron Cohen returned as his iconic character, “Borat,” in the global hit satire BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime For Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, which he produced and co-wrote, and according to The New York Times’ AO Scott was “the best film of the year.” Additional critics declared Baron Cohen is “a brave comic genius, a new-age Peter Sellers” and “a master.”

Sacha Baron Cohen, above, named the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Outstanding Performer of the Year for his work in two socio-political films, The Chicago 7, and, Borat Subsequent Movie Film. The award will be presented on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. (Photo: LA Times)

“It’s an honor to be recognized and to stand in the company of such incredible past recipients,” said Baron Cohen. “I’m very grateful to Roger, SBIFF, and everyone who believes that cinema, whether drama or satire, can shine a light on injustice and bigotry and even provide a laugh or two along the way.”

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 Adam Driver, 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.

Margot Robbie, left, and Allison Janney, are introduced at the Outstanding Performer of the Year Award Tribute for the 2018 Santa Barbara International Film Festival, at the Arlington Theatre, in Santa Barbara, Calif. (Photo by Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

The 36th Santa Barbara International Film Festival will take place from March 31st through April 10th, 2021. More information, as well as Festival passes and tickets, will be available in the coming weeks at www.sbiff.org.

(From SBIFF news release)

 

Palm Springs International Film Awards Presents Chloé Zhao with the Director of the Year Award

Posted by Larry Gleeson

CHLOÉ ZHAO  DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR AT PALM SPRINGS AWARDS

Palm Springs, CA (January 25, 2021) – The Palm Springs International Film Awards has announced that Chloé Zhao is the recipient of the Director of the Year Award for Nomadland.

PALM SPRINGS, CA – JANUARY 02: Palm Springs International Film Festival Chairman Harold Matzner attends the 28th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Film Awards Gala at the Palm Springs Convention Center on January 2, 2017, in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for Palm Springs International Film Festival)

Director and screenwriter Chloé Zhao’s Nomadland is a film that captures the triumph of the human spirit,” said Festival Chairman Harold Matzner. “This extremely unique and well-done film captures the grand landscapes of the American West as it follows Fern, played by Frances McDormand, who hits the road in her camper van moving from one real encampment of present-day nomads to another. Nomadland is one of the most accomplished films of the year and we are delighted to honor our first female Director of the Year, Chloé Zhao!”

Chloe Zhao

Zhao was born in Beijing, China, where she was raised and also in Brighton, England.  After moving to the US, she studied Politics at Mt Holyoke College and Film Production at NYU.  As a writer, director, and producer, her first feature Songs My Brothers Taught Me premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2015 and her second feature The Rider premiered at Cannes Film Festival’s Director’s Fortnight in 2017 and won the Art Cinema Awards.  Her next film is Eternals.

Past recipients of the Director of the Year Award include Alejandro G. Iñárritu (Babel, Birdman), Steve Mc Queen (12 Years a Slave), Alexander Payne (Sideways), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), David O. Russell (The Fighter) and Quentin Tarantino (Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) who all went on to receive Best Director Academy Award nominations. Iñárritu received a Best Director Academy Award for Birdman.

Zhao joins this year’s previously announced honoree Carey Mulligan (International Star Award) and Gary Oldman (Chairman’s Award). The Festival and Film Awards Gala will not take place as an in-person event this year, but honoree selections will be announced to recognize this year’s great performances and Entertainment Tonight will air a tribute to the honorees scheduled on February 11th and February 25th.

Nomadland stars two-time Academy Award winner Frances McDormand (Fargo; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Academy Award nominee David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck), and real-life actors Swankie, Bob Wells and Linda May, all of whom appeared in Jessica Bruder’s acclaimed book, which Zhao adapted to the screen. Nomadland centers on Fern (McDormand), who, following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The film was produced by McDormand (Olive Kitteridge), Peter Spears (Call Me by Your Name), Dan Janvey (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Mollye Asher (The Rider), and Zhao (The Rider). Zhao also edited the film, with Joshua James Richards (God’s Own Country) serving as Director of Photography and Production Designer, and featuring the sound team of M. Wolf Snyder (The Rider), Sergio Diaz (Roma), and Zach Seivers (Assassins).

Nomadland, which won the Golden Lion for Best Film at this year’s Venice International Film Festival and the People’s Choice Audience Award at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, recently won Best Film from the Chicago Film Critics Association, the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, the Indiana Film Journalists Association, among others. Additionally, Zhao was named Best Director by the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Chicago Film Critics Association, the Boston Society of Film Critics, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, and the Indiana Film Journalists Association among others. Nomadland received 2 IFP Gotham Awards including Best Feature and the 2020 Audience Award, and won the coveted Golden Frog for Cinematography at the 2020 International Film Festival of the Art of Cinematography Camerimage. The National Society of Film Critics awarded the film Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress and Best Cinematography.

Nomadland will open in select IMAX locations on January 29, 2021, and in theaters and on Hulu on February 19, 2021.

About The Palm Springs International Film Festival

The Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) is one of the largest film festivals in North America, welcoming 136,000 attendees last year for its lineup of new and celebrated international features and documentaries. The Festival is also known for its annual Film Awards Gala, a glamorous, black-tie event attended by 2,500, which is presented by American Express and sponsored by AT&T and Entertainment Tonight. The Film Awards Gala honors the year’s best achievements in cinema in front of and behind the camera. The celebrated list of talents who have been honored in recent years includes Cate Blanchett, Mary J. Blige, Sandra Bullock, Mariah Carey, George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Cynthia Erivo, Jamie Foxx, Gal Gadot, Tom Hanks, Samuel L. Jackson, Nicole Kidman, Regina King, Jennifer Lawrence, Rami Malek, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Charlize Theron, Reese Witherspoon and more. Awards are provided by Chihuly and John Kennedy Studios. Both events are produced by the Palm Springs International Film Society, whose mission is to nurture and encourage new filmmaking talent, honoring the great masters of world cinema, and expanding audience horizons.

The Palm Springs International Film Festival and Film Awards Gala will return in 2022.  Palm Springs ShortFest is still scheduled for June 22-28, 2021. The Film Society has continued to host year-round member screenings and events virtually until theatres are able to open.

(Source: Palm Springs News Release)

 

 

 

AFI AWARDS 2020 HONOREES ANNOUNCED

Posted by Larry Gleeson

AFI’s Movie Club To Showcase Official Selections With New And Exclusive Content Featuring Filmmakers And Stars

Honors Culminate With A Virtual Benediction On February 26

Audi Launching AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarships Initiative Providing $250,000 In Scholarship Funds To Women And BIPOC Fellows At The AFI Conservatory

In The Name Of Each AFI AWARDS Honoree

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Los Angeles, CA, January 25, 2021 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today the recipients of AFI AWARDS 2020. AFI’s global Movie Club program will showcase the official selections beginning in February, with new and exclusive content released daily, including special guests from the honored works introducing the titles and AFI “Behind the Scene” conversations with filmmakers and actors.

 

AFI MOVIES OF THE YEAR

DA 5 BLOODS

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM

MANK

MINARI

NOMADLAND

ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI…

SOUL

SOUND OF METAL

THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7

 

AFI TELEVISION PROGRAMS OF THE YEAR

BETTER CALL SAUL

BRIDGERTON

THE CROWN

THE GOOD LORD BIRD

LOVECRAFT COUNTRY

THE MANDALORIAN

MRS. AMERICA

THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT

TED LASSO

UNORTHODOX

AFI SPECIAL AWARD

HAMILTON

Bob Gazzale

“For 20 years, AFI AWARDS has been a moment to gather artists in one room with a singular goal – to create community over competition,” said Bob Gazzale, AFI President & CEO. “This year we cannot gather but will instead celebrate each honoree by creating exclusive content to be shared with a global audience through AFI Movie Club, shining a proper light on excellence.”

On February 26, the AFI AWARDS tributes will culminate with a virtual benediction premiering on YouTube.com/AFI and AFI.com.

The AFI AWARDS celebration will be sponsored by Audi, a supporter of AFI programs for the past 17 years. To commemorate each of the AFI AWARDS recipients, Audi has created the AFI AWARDS Audi Scholarships initiative providing scholarships in the name of the honorees to women and BIPOC Fellows at the AFI Conservatory – for a total contribution of $250,000.

Celebrating film and television arts’ collaborative nature, AFI AWARDS is the only national program that honors creative teams as a whole, recognizing those in front of and behind the camera. AFI AWARDS honorees include 10 outstanding films and 10 outstanding television programs deemed culturally and artistically representative of this year’s most significant achievements in the art of the moving image. AFI also recognizes HAMILTON with an AFI Special Award, designated for a work of excellence outside the Institute’s criteria for American film and television.

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

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

This year’s jury featured acclaimed artists including Debbie Allen, Cynthia Erivo, Rian Johnson, David Mandel, Marlee Matlin, Amy Sherman-Palladino, Wes Studi, and Lulu Wang; renowned authors and scholars representing prestigious universities with recognized motion picture arts and television programs; film historians Mark Harris, Molly Haskell and Leonard Maltin; the AFI Board of Trustees; and film and television critics from media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone, TV Guide, and The Washington Post. The jury was chaired by AFI Board of Directors member Jeanine Basinger (Chair Emerita and Founder of the Film Studies Department, Wesleyan University) and AFI Board of Trustees Vice Chair Richard Frank (former Chairman of Walt Disney Television, President of Walt Disney Studios, President of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences).

Honorees will be celebrated across all AFI platforms leading up to the benediction on Feb. 26.

The 2020 recipients join a distinguished group of previous AFI AWARDS honorees whose works define the art form and contribute to our rich cultural legacy. View all past AFI AWARDS honorees here.

 

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/AmericanFilmInstituteYouTube.com/AFITwitter.com/American Film and Instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute.

About Audi of America
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 1.845 million vehicles globally in 2019. In the U.S., Audi of America sold just over 224,000 vehicles in 2019 and launched the brand’s first fully electric vehicle, the Audi e-tron – one of four fully electric models coming to the U.S. market in the next two years. Globally, the brand aims to be CO2 neutral by 2050. Visit audiusa.com or media.audiusa.com for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.

(Source: AFI Press Release)

 

 

Today’s AFI Movie Club Selection: LEGALLY BLONDE

Posted by Larry Gleeson                                                           January 25, 2021

The comedy LEGALLY BLONDE, starring the effervescent Reese Witherspoon, brought its bend and snap to the big screen in 2001, following underestimated law student Elle Woods whose blonde ambition leads her from Bel Air to the hallowed halls of Harvard.

Watch and listen as Chloe Grace Moretz bubbles with good vibrations announcing today’s AFI Movie Club selection, LEGALLY BLONDE:

Find ways to watch Legally Blonde here.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

  • Released in 2001, LEGALLY BLONDE champions the trials of a law student who comes from a wealthy family and is often underestimated due to her “blonde ambition.” What are some of the qualities in Elle’s character that cause you to feel compassion for her journey even though she comes from a privileged background?
  • Describe Elle’s transformation from being motivated by the men in her life to becoming her own catalyst for intellectual development.
  • The Bechdel Test famously measures the number of representation women has onscreen by asking three questions: Does the film feature two women or more that have names; do the women speak to each other; and do they discuss something other than a man? Does LEGALLY BLONDE pass this test? Describe some scenes that uphold feminist values and consider other plot points that may curtail the representation of empowerment.
  • How does LEGALLY BLONDE defy stereotypes, and how does it depict stereotypes? What presumptions did you bring to this movie about “blondes” and do you think the bias against women like Elle is the same as prejudice? Does it do a disservice to deep-rooted discrimination to compare it with Elle’s challenges?
  • LEGALLY BLONDE depicts a scene of sexual harassment, in which Elle’s superior makes a pass at her and suggests that her accepting his advances will improve her career. What is Elle’s response to this unethical behavior, and what gives her hope to continue?
  • LEGALLY BLONDE refers to a famous quote by Aristotle: “The law is the reason, free from passion.” What does this mean in regard to Elle’s story, and how does the film challenge this adage?
  • How would you rate LEGALLY BLONDE?

Director Robert Luketic on the making of LEGALLY BLONDE:

 

CONVERSATION STARTERS: TRIVIA

DID YOU KNOW? LEGALLY BLONDE marked Robert Luketic’s feature film directorial debut. He went on to direct other female-fronted comedies written by women including MONSTER-IN-LAW (2005) and THE UGLY TRUTH (2009).

DID YOU KNOW? Based on a 2001 novel of the same name by Amanda Brown, LEGALLY BLONDE told the story of her personal experiences while attending Stanford University’s law school. Film producer Marc Platt was also involved with developing Brown’s manuscript, which eventually moved the setting to Harvard University.

DID YOU KNOW? LEGALLY BLONDE was the second teaming of writing partners Karen McCullah and Kirsten Smith. They previously adapted another literary source—William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”for the 1999 comedy 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU.

DID YOU KNOW? A surprise box-office success, LEGALLY BLONDE was produced for $18 million and grossed nearly eight times that amount.

DID YOU KNOW? LEGALLY BLONDE spawned various sequels and spinoffs, including two feature films to date and a musical that had its San Francisco premiere in 2007. A third movie has been announced for release in 2022.

DID YOU KNOW? LEGALLY BLONDE was honored with a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture—Musical or Comedy. Reese Witherspoon won the award for Best Actress—Musical or Comedy. She was also the recipient of the MTV Movie Award for Best Actress.

 

 

Sundance ‘21 Goes Beyond Film

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Opening Night Welcome, Awards Night, Conversations & More,

Available Free & Worldwide

PARK CITY, UTAH — The lineup for the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, taking place on a Sundance-built and feature-rich online platform, goes beyond feature and short films, episodic work, and the VR/XR of New Frontier — it also encompasses a curated program of free special events, conversations, and activations available to the global public. The Talks and Events, presented on the Sundance platform, include the new Opening Ceremony, Sundance Dailies, and The Big Conversation series, trademark gatherings at Cinema Café and the Power of Story, Awards Night, and the concluding “It’s A Wrap” session. Additional partner programming is slated inside a bustling digital Festival Village, which includes Main Street, Satellite Screens, and the Artist Lounge.

Robert Redford addresses members of the press at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Press Conference at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City, Utah, on January 29th, 2019. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

SCHEDULED TALKS & EVENTS

All talks and events are free to view globally. Sign up for an account at Festival.Sundance.org to access. All times are U.S. Mountain time.

2021 Sundance Film Festival Opening Night Welcome

Thursday, January 28, 5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

 Audiences all over the world are invited to join us as we kick off the reimagined 2021 Sundance Film Festival and connect with the Sundance community in advance of experiencing the Festival program. During the Opening Ceremony, you can expect to hear from Festival Director Tabitha Jackson,  celebrate Utah — our spiritual home — and see plenty of familiar faces from our Festival family.

The Sundance Dailies (#SundanceDailies)

Friday, January 29–Tuesday, February 2, 9:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.

 Your guided tour through the festival’s myriad happenings, The Sundance Dailies will roll out each morning with host Tabitha Jackson, Utah correspondent John Cooper, and an assortment of special guests. The Sundance Dailies is a fun and informal download of the day ahead and what you missed the day before. Guests include: Eugenio Derbez (CODA), Rebecca Hall (Passing), Ed Helms (Together Together), Zoe Lister-Jones and Daryl Wein (How It Ends), and more.

Presented by Acura

Cinema Café

#CinemaCafe
Friday, January 29–Monday, February 1, 10:30 a.m.–11:15 a.m.

The doors are open again at Cinema Café. Here, the culture of conversation is reinvigorated. Our series of informal chats brings together special guests for thought-provoking encounters. Sometimes, the most fascinating conversations are the ones you didn’t expect. Presented by Audible

2021 Cinema Café guests will include:

Shaka King & Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson

Friday, January 29, 10:30 a.m.–11:15 a.m.

Sonia Manzano & Rita Moreno

Saturday, January 30, 10:30 a.m.–11:15 a.m.

Rebecca Hall & Robin Wright

Sunday, January 31, 10:30 a.m.–11:15 a.m.

Tyson Brown, Patti Harrison & Emilia Jones

Monday, February 1, 10:30 a.m.–11:15am

The Big Conversation

#SundanceBigConversation

Friday, January 29–Monday, February 1, 1:00 p.m.–2:00 p.m., individual slots TBA

The Big Conversation tackles science, art, culture, and the movements that are fueling the imaginations of today’s independent artists. A compelling selection of speakers discuss topics centered on the themes of this year’s program and explore broader trends in art and culture around the world. In considering how artists—through their practice and their work—make meaning of the world, we’re reminded that it’s the big conversation that connects us to the big ideas.

Barbed Wire Kisses Redux

The year 1992 was a watershed one for LGBTQ+ film, giving birth to the term “New Queer Cinema” and introducing a revolutionary generation of films and filmmakers with energetic irreverence and disruptive aesthetics. At the 1992 Sundance Film Festival, B. Ruby Rich convened and moderated a panel of preeminent artists (including the late Derek Jarman) to discuss their work and the historic moment of its emergence. This year, Rich and other LGBTQ+ titans gather 30 years later to look back and imagine forward in this contemporary edition of Barbed Wire Kisses.

 Moderator B. Ruby Rich (Editor, Film Quarterly; Author, New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut); guests Andrew Ahn (Spa Night), Gregg Araki (The Living End), Lisa Cholodenko (High Art), Cheryl Dunye (The Watermelon Woman), Silas Howard (By Hook or By Crook), Isaac Julien (Young Soul Rebels) and Rose Troche (Go Fish).

Come Together

That the first image of a black hole was achieved through a global network of synchronized radio observatories shows what humans can accomplish when we come together. Beyond astronomy and across a myriad of fields—from space exploration and climatology to bioscience and virology (as the pandemic plainly illustrates)—science and technology are propelled by collaboration, cooperation, and the breaking of barriers. We explore, through the lens of film and television, what that cooperation means for human knowledge and our mutual survival.

Moderator Janna Levin (Tow Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Barnard College); guests Scott Z. Burns (writer, Contagion; writer & director, The Report), Leland Melvin (engineer and retired NASA astronaut), and more TBA. Supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The Past In the Present: A Personal Journey through Race, History, and Filmmaking

“History is not the past, it’s the present.” James Baldwin’s words reverberate throughout Raoul Peck’s work, his activism, and his remarkable filmmaking career. Peck joins Festival director Tabitha Jackson in a conversation about white supremacy, history, creative expression, and his personal journey from the Academy Award-nominated I Am Not Your Negro to his upcoming work Exterminate All the Brutes, which interrogates over 600 years of history, from the Native American genocide to the systemized enslavement of Africans, to Hitler’s extermination of the European Jews—a history to which our present is inextricably bound.

Power of Story (#PowerOfStory)

Timing TBA

The Sundance Film Festival’s Power of Story looks to deepen public engagement with storytelling, delve into cinema culture, and celebrate artists whose work propels the form and reinvents storytelling as we know it. As we contemplate this futurescape of storytelling, we explore how revolutionary narrative experiences will reshape culture through the transformations in artistic discovery, emerging media, and the reassertion of independence.

Presented by Netflix

Power of Story: Speculative Fiction Is the Place

“Speculative thought is important, and unless you are doing speculative thought, you are not doing any thought at all.” —C.L.R. James

Black speculative fiction and historiography, Afrofuturism, and utopian/dystopian visions speak to an enduring, evolving, and vibrant storytelling sensibility. They also speak to the many generations of Black artists whose practice and work—across music, cinema, literature, design, fashion and other arts—re-envision the future. A group of artists reflects on storytelling forms that reframe Black experiences through imagined or alternative narratives connecting the people, technology, culture, and collective memory of the African diaspora.

Moderator Jacqueline Stewart (Chief Artistic and Programming Officer, Academy Museum and TCM Host); guests TBA.

Conjuring the Collective: Womxn at Sundance Speakeasy
Saturday, Jan 30, 2021, 8:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.

Join us for an evening of dynamic performance and energizing conversation. Continuing our tradition of gathering and celebrating the womxn in our Festival community, this year’s event will reclaim the idea of a coven as a source of magic, healing, and power.

We’ve devised a virtual speakeasy featuring performances from an array of talented womxn from the Festival and beyond, honoring a multiplicity of perspectives through our myths and stories, dance, art, music, and culture. Theater directors nicHi douglas and Annie Tippe collaborate to create unique ways to bring womxn together to creatively respond to an intentional prompt for 2021. So light a candle, prepare a nightcap, and settle into Conjuring the Collective!

 Guests include:

Poet Apiorkor, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison (Ailey), , actor Rita Moreno (Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided to Go For It), actor SOKO (Mayday, The Blazing World), and more TBA.

Awards Night

Tuesday, February 2, 6:00 p.m. 

 Tune in to the 2021 Sundance Film Festival’s Awards Night Ceremony to see which projects were selected for juried and audience awards. Free and open to all, the event will be live-streamed on our online screening platform—join us (and some very special presenters) to see who takes home top prizes in the Festival’s competition categories.

It’s A Wrap

#SundanceWrap

Wednesday, February 3, 9:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.

Before feasting your eyes on the award-winning films from this season, finish off your Sundance Film Festival experience by looking back on the Festival that was. Festival director Tabitha Jackson leads a ceremonial end to this all-new Sundance experience by bringing audiences together for one last moment together in the virtual space.

FESTIVAL VILLAGE: Festival Village is at the epicenter of our community. Along our bustling Main Street and inside our Satellite Screens, you can catch the latest events and offerings from our partners and collaborators. And in the Artist Lounge, we’ll serve up a daily dose of creative inspiration as well as special events for filmmakers and independent storytellers of all stripes—open to all, no badge required.

MAIN STREET:  Park City’s Main Street has always been the beating heart of the Festival. As we’ve reimagined the Festival with 2021 in mind, Main Street is as vital as ever in providing our online audience with the chance to experience exciting conversations, events, and other unexpected surprises together. We are grateful to our incredible community of Festival sponsors, nonprofit partners, foundations, and host state, Utah, for helping to recreate and preserve the magic of Main Street in this new format. We encourage you to explore our partners’ activities as they bring new programming to the Festival each day. See all confirmed partner programming here, and select programs below.

ASCAP Music Café

Friday, January 29–Monday, February 1, 3 p.m. onward, daily

 ASCAP Music Café returns to a new virtual venue in the Festival Village, marking its 23rd year celebrating the union of music and film. From January 29 – February 1, the Café will feature two days of musical performances from the acclaimed talent and rising stars; another dedicated to VERSED: The ASCAP Podcast/ Screen Time conversations with top ASCAP composers and collaborators from around the globe; and a final day showcasing a handpicked selection of unforgettable performances from the Sundance ASCAP Music Café archives. More information can be found here.

Ignite Day, Presented by Adobe

Monday, February 1st

 A day of free events for young artists and Festival attendees hosted by Sundance Ignite, Sundance Institute’s program for Artist and Audiences 18-25 years-old. Ignite Day will include:

  • A morning panel exploring storytelling traditions from historically marginalized communities as manifested through film and television and the business and craft of preserving narrative sovereignty in practice, especially among younger storytellers.
  • A screening of short films from this year’s Sundance Ignite x Adobe Fellows, followed by a brief Q&A with the filmmakers.
  • Networking events exclusive to audiences 18-25 years old.

SATELLITE SCREENS: This year, audiences are invited to join us via our Satellite Screens, a constellation of mission-driven arthouse cinemas, arts organizations, drive-ins, and pop-ups. Through online experiences and in-person programming (as local health and safety guidelines allow), Satellite Screens will introduce our 2021 Festival features as well as locally curated presentations.

ARTIST LOUNGE: In the Artist Lounge, we’re serving up a daily dose of creative inspiration for independent filmmakers and storytellers. Join the creative community for talks and events, daily meet-and-greets, Q&As with 2021 Festival artists, and so much more. Schedule to follow.

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 Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, 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. 2021 Festival sponsors to date include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire, Adobe; Leadership Sponsors – Amazon Studios, AT&T, DoorDash, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Southwest Airlines® , WarnerMedia; Sustaining Sponsors – AMC, Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, Documentary Plus, GEICO, IMDbPro, Stella Artois®, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health, White Claw Hard Seltzer, Zoom; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, NPR, The New York Times, Variety, Vulture, 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. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute

As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive.

Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, 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 Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, City So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams and Fun Home

(Source: Sundance Press Release)

Juries Announced For Sundance 2021 Film Festival

Posted by Larry Gleeson

22 Jurors to Award Prizes at Awards Night on February 2nd

Park City, UT — 22 celebrated voices across film, art, and culture will bestow this year’s awards on feature-length and short films at the Sundance Film Festival, at a digital ceremony taking place February 2nd. This year’s Festival is fully available online at Festival.Sundance.org; Awards Night will be live-streamed. Award-winning films will be available for special extended-run viewing the day after the ceremony.

The awards, which recognize standout artistic and cinematic achievement, are decided on by 6 section juries. As in years past, Festival audiences have a role in deciding the 2021 Audience Awards, open to films in the U.S. Competition, World Competition and NEXT categories.

Kim Yutani

“Our jurors have reached a high level of achievement in their individual fields, and can bring their unique perspective to the process of analyzing and evaluating films,” said Kim Yutani, the Festival’s Director of Programming. “We’re pleased to bring this accomplished, creative group together, and look forward to hearing their thoughts.”

The juried Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize was awarded to Son of Monarchs; information on those jury members is included below.

The 2021 Sundance Film Festival Jury members are:

U.S. DRAMATIC JURY

Twenty-eight years ago, filmmaker Julie Dash broke through racial and gender boundaries with  Daughters of the Dust (Best Cinematography, 1991 Sundance Film Festival), and she became the first African American woman to have a wide theatrical release of her feature film. In 2004 the Library of Congress placed Daughters of the Dust in the National Film Registry, where it joins a select group of American films preserved and protected as national treasures. Dash has written and directed television projects including episodes of Queen Sugar for the Oprah Winfrey Network. She also directed The Rosa Parks Story, Incognito, Funny Valentines, Love Song, and Subway Stories.

Cynthia Erivo is a Tony-, Emmy- and Grammy-winning actress and singer as well as an Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild nominee. Erivo burst onto West End and Broadway stages in The Color Purple and has since taken the world by storm in movies such as Harriet. Currently, Erivo can be seen on the HBO series The Outsider. She will play Aretha Franklin on National Geographic’s Genius: Aretha in March, will be releasing her debut album in the Summer of 2021 and will soon star in Universal’s Talent Show.

Hanya Yanagihara is the author of the novels The People in the Trees and A Little Life. She is the editor-in-chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine and lives in New York.

U.S. DOCUMENTARY JURY

Ashley Clark is the curatorial director at the Criterion Collection. He previously worked as director of film programming at Brooklyn Academy of Music and has organized film series at venues including MoMA, TIFF Bell Lightbox, and BFI Southbank. Clark has written features and criticism for publications including the New York Times, Sight & Sound, Reverse Shot and 4Columns. He is the author of the book Facing Blackness: Media and Minstrelsy in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled (2015).

Joshua Oppenheimer’s films include the diptych The Act of Killing (2013) and The Look of Silence (2015), which sheds light on one of history’s worst atrocities, the Indonesian genocide, and its terrible legacy of corruption and fear. His filmmaking explores impunity, fantasy, and guilt, investigating how our past haunts our present. Oppenheimer has received two Oscar nominations, a MacArthur Fellowship, a BAFTA Award, a Film Independent Spirit Award, and the Venice International Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize.

Lana Wilson is an Emmy-winning director. Her latest film, Miss Americana, premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and was a New York Times and IndieWire Critics’ Pick. Previous work includes The Departure (2017 Tribeca Film Festival, Independent Spirit Award nominee for best documentary), A Cure for Fear (International Documentary Association Award nominee for best short-form series), and After Tiller, which premiered at Sundance in 2013 and won an Emmy for best documentary.

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC JURY

Zeynep Atakan is a producer in İstanbul. She won the European Film Academy’s Best European Co-Producer award. Her production Winter Sleep won the Palme d’Or at the 67th Cannes Film Festival. She is the vice president of the European Women’s Audiovisual Network and the art director of the Sabanci Foundation Short Film Platform. Atakan is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the European Film Academy, and the Asia Pacific Screen Academy.

Isaac Julien CBE RA has had films in festivals at Cannes, Venice, and Berlin and in the Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou, and Tate collections. Young Soul Rebels won the Semaine de la Critique prize at Cannes, and Looking for Langston has garnered 30 years of acclaim. Currently, 10-screen film installation Lessons of the Hour is at McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, San Francisco, and nine-screen film A Marvellous Entanglement is at MAXXI, Rome.

Daniela Vega is a Chilean actress known for starring in the Academy Award–winning feature A Fantastic Woman. She was the first transgender woman to present an award at the Oscars, and she was one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2018. Vega has won awards at several festivals and won the 2018 Platino Award for Best Actress. She currently works as executive producer and host on the upcoming docuseries Peace Peace Now Now.

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY JURY

Kim Longinotto attended the National Film and Television School, where she made Pride of Place and Theatre Girls. The Day I Will Never Forget premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2003. Other films include Rough Aunties, Pink Saris, and Salma. Dreamcatcher and Shooting the Mafia premiered at Sundance and the Berlin International Film Festival. Longinotto is currently making a film about a Jamaican-born musician based in the United Kingdom.

Mohamed Saïd Ouma currently serves as the executive director of Documentary Africa, an initiative that aims to bolster the African documentary ecosystem through funding, building and sharing knowledge, and complementary initiatives. He has cut his professional teeth as a festival manager and by working with the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers. His latest film, Red Card, premiered at the 2020 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

Born in Taiwan and based in New York, Jean Tsien has been working in documentary films for 35 years as an editor, producer, and consultant. Her editing debut, Something Within Me, won three awards at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. Recently, she produced 76 Days and executive-produced the landmark five-part PBS series Asian Americans. Tsien received the Art of Editing Mentorship Award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2020 DOC NYC.

NEXT JURORS

Kate and Laura Mulleavy received their liberal arts degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, and in 2005 launched their fashion brand Rodarte. At the center of the sisters’ unique approach to fashion is their pursuit of innovation through storytelling. Their vision expands into multiple artistic endeavors, including their work as costume designers, writers, and directors. In 2017, the two released Woodshock at the 74th annual Venice Film Festival. The film was written and directed by the Mulleavy sisters, stars Kirsten Dunst, and was distributed by A24.

SHORT FILM JURY

An actor in film, television, and theater, Raúl Castillo is known for his portrayal of Paps in the critical and awards darling We the Animals, based on the Justin Torres novel and directed by Jeremiah Zagar. Castillo recently wrapped filming for Mattson Tomlin’s Mother/Android and Adam Randall’s Night Teeth.  Upcoming 2021 film releases include Little Fish, with director Chad Hartigan; Wrath of Man, directed by Guy Ritchie; and Army of the Dead, directed by Zack Snyder for Netflix.

Tacita Dean is a visual artist who lives and works in both Berlin and Los Angeles. She exhibits her 16mm and 35mm films, large-scale drawings in chalk, and other works in galleries and museums worldwide. A passionate advocate for the use and preservation of analog media, Dean has campaigned tirelessly to keep photochemical film viable in the digital age. She is the recipient of many awards, most notably the Hugo Boss Prize in 2006.

Inge de Leeuw is an award-winning programmer and curator. Her work explores crossovers among film, visual art, and digital culture through exhibitions and film programs. She worked with International Film Festival Rotterdam as a programmer with a focus on the U.S. and United Kingdom. As a curator, she collaborated with Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, Indie Memphis, Kino Forum in São Paulo, and Ghetto Film School.

ALFRED P. SLOAN FEATURE FILM PRIZE JURY

Joy Buolamwini is the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League. Her TED Talk on algorithmic bias has over one million views. Her MIT thesis methodology uncovered racial and gender bias in artificial intelligence services from Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon. She advises world leaders on reducing AI harms through service on the Global Tech Panel, congressional testimonies, and keynotes. TIME Magazine and the New York Times carry her op-eds. Buolamwini’s journey is depicted in the feature-length documentary Coded Bias.

Aneesh Chaganty is a writer/director whose two-minute short film, a Google Glass spot called Seeds, became an internet sensation after garnering more than one million YouTube views in 24 hours. His directorial debut, Searching, premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize. His second film, Run, starring Sarah Paulson, was released on Hulu this past November and became the streaming service’s most watched movie ever during its opening weekend.

Dr. Mandë Holford is an associate professor of chemistry at Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, with scientific appointments at the American Museum of Natural History and Weill Cornell Medicine. She is active in science education, advancing the public understanding of science, and science diplomacy. Her honors include being named a 2020 Sustainability Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, a WINGS WorldQuest Women of Discovery fellow, and fellow of the California Academy of Sciences.

Lydia Dean Pilcher began her career directing documentaries and recently directed the feature A Call to Spy, about three female spies during World War II. Before that, she co-directed the feature Radium Girls, starring Joey King and Abby Quinn. Pilcher is an Academy Award–nominated and two-time Emmy-winning producer. Pilcher produced such movies as Queen of Katwe, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Namesake, Cutie and the Boxer, The Darjeeling Limited, The Lunchbox, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Lena Vurma is a Berlin-based Swiss producer, a Film Independent and Tribeca Film Institute fellow, an Alfred P. Sloan grant winner, and an Inside Pictures alumna. She is head of acquisitions for German distributor Filmwelt, known for titles such as Gunda and Maudie. Her current film, Adventures of a Mathematician, based on the autobiography by Jewish-Polish mathematician Stanislaw Ulam, is an award-winning, Sloan-supported German-British-Polish co-production that premiered in 2020 at Palm Springs International Film Festival.

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 Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, 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. 2021 Festival sponsors to date include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire, Adobe; Leadership Sponsors – Amazon Studios, AT&T, DoorDash, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Southwest Airlines® , WarnerMedia; Sustaining Sponsors – AMC, Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, Documentary Plus, GEICO, IMDbPro, Stella Artois®, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health, White Claw Hard Seltzer, Zoom; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, NPR, The New York Times, Variety, Vulture, 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. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute
As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive. Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, City So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams and Fun Home.

(Source: press release provided by Sundance Institute)

“Riding the Rails” – In Perspective

Posted by Larry Gleeson

The award-winning documentary is available to stream for the first time since its PBS American Experience 1998 airing

Streaming Premiere: Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Amazon Prime, iTunes, Comcast (USA & Canada)

Having a grandfather who was the President of the St. Louis Railway Club during the height of the railroad industry in the United States and an uncle who carried on the tradition as a railway freight agent, I heard a variety of fascinating rail stories as a youngster. Naturally, I flew out of my chair at the chance to review Riding the Rails,  a feature-length documentary film based on the Errol Lincoln Uys book, “Riding the Rails: Teenagers on the Move During The Great Depression.”

Riding the Rails – DGA Award winner – Trailer from Michael Uys on Vimeo.

This story is one of the vital sagas of America in the 1930s. At the height of the Great Depression, more than 250,000 teenagers were living on the road in America. Many crisscrossed the country by hopping freight trains, although it was both dangerous and illegal. Riding the Rails presents the poignant and little-known story of teen hoboes during the 1930s, a time of desperation and bitter hardship.

Grinding poverty, shattered family relationships, financially strapped schools with locked doors were the reasons most kids went on the road, usually with the blessing of parents at their wits end to feed them. Some left because it seemed a great adventure. The road was an education about the ways of the world, full of harsh lessons: cold nights, brutal railroad detectives or “bulls,” the humiliation of arrest, panhandling, social ostracism, days without food, and the dangers of losing a limb hopping trains. Initially, they were all seemingly searching for a better life; what they found was a mixture of freedom, camaraderie, misery, and loneliness.

“I was nearly killed on my very first train ride. As it picked up speed, the plank started to vibrate like a springboard throwing us up in the air and all we had to do was hang onto that one grab iron. And we could look down and see the ties and the rails and she was going faster and faster. And all I could think of was I shouldn’t have gotten on this train—and if I lose my grip I’m gonna die—and what would my mother think?” – Bob “Guitar Whitey” Symmonds

Bob “Guitar Whitey” Symmonds

The 1933 Warner Brothers film, Wild Boys of the Road, tried to scare young people away from life on the rails. In it, a boy falls onto the track and loses his leg to an oncoming train. The film didn’t deter Guitar Whitey, who tells Uys and Lovell that seeing the movie actually inspired him to take to the rails. “If you see the movie,” he says, “that put the idea in your head, ’I could do that too, but I’m not gonna get my leg cut off like the kid in the movie.”’ To this day, the sound of the train whistle is in Symmonds’ blood. Now in his 70s, he still rides the rails, logging nearly 10,000 miles a year. During his absences, his wife tells those who inquire that he is on vacation, “traveling by train.”

Peggy De Hart ran away from home at fifteen after her father struck her for cursing at a cow on the family farm. “There was this girl called Irene Willis and she wanted to go to Issaquah to see her parents,” De Hart recalls. “She was going to hitch-hike and she asked me to come along. And I thought that was a great idea.” De Hart sent letters to her family describing tight situations she and Irene encountered: “The police picked up Irene and me last night and put us in a cell. We sure made use of the cots. I hope they turn us loose soon so that we can go again. This is the third time they’ve picked us up.”

Jim Mitchell had similar memories: “Hell, I knew right then I had made a mistake. But you know, you’re young and foolish and you don’t say you made a mistake.“ San Jule recalls the bittersweet memory of receiving a package in the mail—a cake mailed by his mother for his eighteenth birthday—and eating it alone on a hillside, in tears.

Riding the Rails, winner of 30 national /international awards, including a Peabody Award, “Best Documentary” Directors Guild of America; Los Angeles Film Critics, and premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Riding the Rails is available to stream for the first time since its PBS American Experience 1998 airing with its streaming premiere set for Tuesday, January 26th, 2021 on  Amazon Prime, iTunes, Comcast (USA & Canada).

Michael Uys and Lexi Lovell, wrote, directed, and produced Riding the Rails, and the two made the decision to place notices in national publications in search of individuals who rode the rails as teenagers. Three thousand people, then in their 70s and 80s, responded. Uys and Lovell selected a handful to tell their stories on camera. What results is a moving combination of clear-eyed memories coupled with archival footage of teens riding atop speeding trains and newsreel interviews with lean-bodied kids full of bravado ready to take on the world.

Riding the Rails is a storied masterpiece of Americana’s heartland. Highly recommended. Don’t miss it!

Streaming Premiere: Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Amazon Prime, iTunes, Comcast (USA & Canada)

(Sourced from a press release provided by Marina Bailey PR)

Today’s AFI Movie Club Selection: IN THE BEDROOM

Posted by Larry Gleeson

A 2001 AFI AWARDS honoree, IN THE BEDROOM marked the feature directorial debut of AFI Conservatory alum Todd Field (AFI Class of 1992) and was shot by Antonio Calvache (AFI Class of 1992). 

The film’s title refers to the inner cage within a lobster trap, which is referred to as “the bedroom” and is intended to hold only two lobsters. When there are more than two lobsters, it is said that there is “trouble in the bedroom.”Based on the short story “Killings” by Andre Dubus and The Wyeths by N.C. Wyeth, The film centers on the inner dynamics of a family in transition.

Matt Fowler (Wilkinson) is a doctor practicing in Maine and is married to Ruth Fowler (Spacek), a music teacher. Their son Frank (Stahl) is involved in a love affair with an older single mother, Natalie Strout (Tomei). As the beauty of Maine’s brief and fleeting summer comes to an end, these characters find themselves in the midst of an unimaginable tragedy. (Wiki)

In the Bedroom was nominated by AFI in the following categories: Movie of the Year, Actor of the Year—Male—Movies (Wilkinson), Director of the Year (Field) and Screenwriter of the Year (Festinger and Field). The film received Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress for Spacek and Best Supporting Actress for Marisa Tomei. The film received the following Academy Award Nominations: Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Tom Wilkinson, Best Actress, Spacek and Best Supporting Actress, Tomei.

Upon its limited release in Nov 2001, the picture garnered further awards, including the Best Film Prize from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Spacek and Wilkinson were named Best Actress and Best Actor by the New York Film Critics Circle. Spacek was also selected by AFI as Actor of the Year—Female—Movies.

The film’s title refers to the inner cage within a lobster trap, which is referred to as “the bedroom” and is intended to hold only two lobsters. When there are more than two lobsters, it is said that there is “trouble in the bedroom.”

Watch director and AFI Conservatory alum Todd Field (AFI Class of 1992) talk about the film.

The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Conversation Starters

  • After the tragic loss of their son, the Fowlers also lose their ability to communicate, and this culminates in a gesture of violent retribution. Describe the transformation of their marital relationship and consider why it leads to bloodshed.
  • How do the characters’ livelihoods reflect and contradict their actual identities? How does social class and economic disparity inform their personalities, and how are these issues are depicted in the movie?
  • IN THE BEDROOM refers to the inner cage of a lobster trap, where the lobsters grow hostile if there are more than two in the enclosure. How does this metaphor play out in the movie? 
  • In his Guardian review of IN THE BEDROOM, David Lodge called the film a “perfect allegory of September 11 and its aftermath,” even though production was completed before the horrific events of 9/11 occurred. He noted that it “tapped into deep collective emotions” as it was released in November 2001 when America was still mourning. How does IN THE BEDROOM reflect the human impulses of rage, grief, and the inability to make sense of tragedy that leads to revenge? Do you see parallels to America’s response to 9/11?
  • IN THE BEDROOM depicts extreme domestic violence and its tragic impact on a family coping with grief. When the legal system seems to fail them, the Fowlers take the law into their own hands. Do you think the ending was justified? Does this movie condone violence?
  • How would you rate IN THE BEDROOM?

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

Movie Trivia

DID YOU KNOW? IN THE BEDROOM’s title refers to the inner cage of a lobster trap, which is called “the bedroom,” and is intended only to hold two lobsters. 

DID YOU KNOW? IN THE BEDROOM marked the feature film directorial debut of AFI alum Todd Field, who also co-wrote the screenplay based on the short story “Killings” by Andre Dubus. Dubus died a year before production began, and Field dedicated the film to him in an onscreen credit. Field became interested in Dubus’ work while he was Directing Fellow at AFI.

DID YOU KNOW? Shot on location in the cities of Rockland and Camden, ME, several scenes from IN THE BEDROOM were filmed at Todd Field’s family cabin, and some of his son’s T-Ball teammates were used as background actors.

DID YOU KNOW? Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, IN THE BEDROOM brought actors Sissy Spacek and Tim Wilkinson a joint Special Jury Prize. The film went on to be honored with an AFI AWARD as one of the best movies of the year.

DID YOU KNOW?Made for $1.7 million, IN THE BEDROOM was a surprise box-office success, earning more than $43 million in its theatrical release.

DID YOU KNOW? IN THE BEDROOM was honored with fiveOscarÒ nominations – including Best Actor (Tom Wilkinson), Best Actress (Sissy Spacek), Best Supporting Actress (Marisa Tomei), Best Writing and Best Picture. This marked AFI alum Todd Field’s first two Oscar® nominations.

(Sourced from AFI News)

Sundance 2021 Top 10 Picks (So Many Films, So Little Time…)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

HollywoodGlee inside the Sundance Film Festival Headquarters at the Park City Marriott on January 23, 2019, in Park City, Utah, the day before the opening of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. (Photo credit: Larry Gleeson/HollywoodGlee)

With the shortened Sundance 2021 Sundance Film Festival just around the corner (January 28th – February 3rd), I became aware of a thought, “With all the spectacular screenings this year, I’m going to share some of my top picks for an excellent festival experience and  to help in discovering adventure.” Tickets on sale here.

 

Sundance Welcome

In my experience, the one event that really sets the tone for the festival is the Opening Night Welcome. On Thursday, January 28, 2021, at 4 P.M., audiences all over the world are invited to come together and kick off the reimagined 2021 Sundance Film Festival and to fête the extraordinary artists who make up this year’s festival. During the event, you can expect to hear from Sundance Festival director, Tabitha Jackson, and see many of the faces from the Sundance Festival family. Even though we cannot physically gather with one another, the opportunity to celebrate Utah—the Sundance spiritual home—and experience a unique Sundance Film Festival journey rooted in discovery and adventure remains. Let us begin.

 

Summer of Soul

In 2017, I had the distinct pleasure of seeing Melissa Haizlip’s documentary feature, Mr. Soul!,  at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture as part of the American Film Institute’s AFI DOCS. Mr. Soul! showcased extraordinary performances of a plethora of African American artists. In a similar vein, the transporting Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s documentary Summer of Soul (Or When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised), an exploration of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, a series of summer concerts radiating a wholesale reevaluating Black History, culture, fashion and music, taking place a mere 100 miles from the much more heralded Woodstock that was held on Max Yasgur’s dairy farm in Bethel, New York, is premiering at 7 P.M. on January 28th.

 

Night of the Kings

Phillip Lecote’s Night of Kings weaves a tale of epic proportions around a young man who is sent to La Maca, a prison in the middle of the Ivorian forest ruled by its inmates. As tradition goes with the rising of the red moon, he is designated by the Boss to be the new “Roman” and must tell a story to the other prisoners. Learning what fate awaits him, he begins to narrate the mystical life of the legendary outlaw named Zama King and has no choice but to make his story last until dawn. Well-choreographed, interpretive song and dance routines sets the viewing experience apart. Night of Kings is receiving high praise after its world premiere at the 2020 Venice Film Festival.

 

Wild Indian

In Wild Indian writer/director Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. (Shinaab and Shinaab, Part II, 2017 and 2019 Sundance Film Festivals) tells a story that spans centuries and the continent in a film destined to be a touchstone in Indigenous cinema. Leading an impressive cast, Michael Greyeyes delivers a gripping, enigmatic performance as a modern Native American man who has done terrible, unforgivable things. Decades after covering up his classmate’s murder, Michael (Michael Greyeyes) has moved on from his reservation and fractured past. When a man who shares his violent secret seeks vengeance, Michael goes to great lengths to protect his new life. With a strong and compelling visual style that evokes both fascination and dread, Wild Indian considers the cost of survival in a world as cruel as our own.

 

Passing

Rebecca Hall’s Passing, adapted from Nella Larsen’s acclaimed 1929 Harlem Renaissance novel, Hall is sure to provide some much-needed experiential insight into the pursuit of happiness and authenticity by those navigating the grinding tensions of American racism. Starring Tessa Thompson (Sylvie’s Love) and Ruth Negga (Loving), Passing is sure to seep into the viewer’s psyche in questioning basic belief systems as these two women who can “pass” as white live their lives on opposites sides of the color line. Repression, obsession, and the lies people tell to protect their carefully constructed realities underscore Hall’s debut psychological thriller in this must-see feature attraction.

 

One For The Road

An unexpected delight from one of my earliest festival experiences was Thai Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. Thailand films are emerging with industry support from the Royal family and I anticipate Director Baz Poonpiriya’s One For the Road, produced by extemporaneous filmmaker Wong Kar Wai, will delight sensibilities in a similar fashion as Boss, a bar owner in New York City, receives a phone call from a sick friend, Aood. Boss returns to Thailand and takes on an amazing journey with Aood, driving from the north of Thailand to the south, looking to bring closure with people from his past. As the secrets from their past are revealed, they are ultimately offered an opportunity for redemption.

 

In the NEXT category, New Orleanian Marion Hill promises to deliver a respite from the COVID blues complete with an acoustic guitar soundtrack with Ma Belle Ma Beauty,  an interracial, polyamorous, relationship-driven dive into the complexities of sexual fluidity and triangulation. Newlywed musicians Bertie and Fred are adjusting to their new life in the beautiful countryside of France. It’s an easy transition for Fred, the son of French and Spanish parents, but New Orleans native Bertie grapples with a nagging depression that is affecting her singing. Lane—the quirky ex who disappeared from their three-way relationship years ago—suddenly shows up for a surprise visit, bringing new energy and baggage of her own. Ma Belle, My Beauty turns into a breezy and meaningful journey through wine-drenched candlelit dinners, firelit vineyard parties, farmers’ markets, and sunny hikes alongside the creek, as Fred, Bertie, and Lane grapple with how to get what they want inside the soup of their desires, passions, and life ambitions. Yum.

 

R#J

From Director Carey Williams, Hailed by Filmmaker Magazine as one of 2018’s New Faces of Independent Film, emanates R#J, a modern-day retelling of the Shakespearan Romeo & Juliet. In fair Verona, a war as old as time is brewing between the rival Houses of Capulet and Montague—but it’s being captured in a new way. Montague and Capulet Gen Zers are using their cell phones to document the eruptions of violence plaguing their communities. Utilizing black and brown bodies and told through text messages and smartphone screens in the social media language of GIF’s, the sharing of Spotify playlists, and Instagram accounts, a plea for peace and a way to escape their star-crossed destiny unfold.

 

Philly D.A.

The docuseries, Philly D.A., spotlights a civil rights attorney, Larry Krasner, and his ascent to become the District Attorney in Philadelphia, while repeatedly calling out discrimination and corruption in America’s most incarcerating major city. In June 2018, Krasner made an unprecedented request for a comprehensive list of police officers who had lied while on duty, used excessive force, racially profiled, or violated civil rights, an unprecedented move in order to spotlight dishonest police officers and check their future courtroom testimony. Directors Ted Passon and Yoni Brook vigorously bring to life the people impacted and incensed by the failings of the system as well as those fighting to maintain the system’s status quo in the first two episodes of this riveting “forthcoming” docuseries.

 

All Light, Everywhere

Using the rise of police body cameras as a point of departure, director Theo Anthony creates a kaleidoscopic portrait of our shared histories of cameras, weapons, policing, and justice in All Light, Everywhere as he explores the personal and philosophical relationships between cameras and weaponry. Moving from the 19th century, where the nascent art of photography went hand in hand with colonial projects and the development of automatic weapons, to the headquarters of Axon, a company with a near-monopoly on body cameras in the United States, Anthony charts a long view of the relationship between photography and violence. Anthony roots his inquiry in Baltimore, a city that has long been a testing ground for new policing technologies.

 

The Pink Cloud

Last but not least (and by no means is this list all-inclusive), is The Pink Cloud. Director Iuli Gerbase has crafted an ambitiously stylish debut feature set in an evocative, not-too-distant world that eerily echoes life in lockdown. Giovana and Yago are strangers who share a spark after meeting at a party. When a deadly cloud mysteriously takes over their city, they are forced to seek shelter with only each other for company. As the months pass and the planet settles into an extended quarantine, their world shrinks, and they are forced to come to terms with an accelerated timeline for their relationship. Both a delicate exploration of what it means to connect in a world we no longer recognize and an unflinchingly honest look at the ways we shape our own reality, The Pink Cloud digs deeply into the underbelly of collective loneliness to offer us a way out.

The Pink Cloud Trailer:

 

And no festival is over until The Wrap.

It’s a Wrap

Before feasting your eyes on the award-winning films from this season, finish off your Sundance Film Festival experience by looking back on the Festival that was. Festival director Tabitha Jackson leads a celebratory end to this all-new experience by bringing audiences together for one last word in the virtual space on February 3rd, 2021, at 8 A.M.

Stay tuned for more as Sundance Film Festival 2021 goes virtual!

 

 

2021 Sundance Film Festival Announces Additional Films

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Judas and the Black Messiah, Captains of Zaatari Join World Premiere Features; Passes and Tickets on Sale Now

 

Park City, UT — The nonprofit Sundance Institute today adds two more world premiere feature films to the 2021 Sundance Film Festival lineup. The 2021 Festival will take place digitally via a feature-rich, Sundance-built online platform and in-person on Satellite Screens across the country (public health permitting) from January 28-February 3, 2021. Tickets for these additions are now on sale at festival.sundance.org.

 

Sundance Documentary Film Program Director Tabitha Jackson at The Movie That Blew My Mind, a festival panel at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. © 2020 Sundance Institute | photo by Maya Dehlin

“We are delighted to welcome these powerful works into our program,” said Festival Director Tabitha Jackson, “In a year where our Festival already exemplifies the vanguard of bold, visionary storytelling from around the world, they help further expand our boundaries.”

The latest films confirmed to join the 2021 Sundance Film Festival slate are:

PREMIERES SECTION

Judas and the Black Messiah / U.S.A. (Director: Shaka King, Screenwriters: Will Berson, Shaka King, Producers: Ryan Coogler, Charles D. King, Shaka King) — FBI informant William O’Neal infiltrates the Illinois Black Panther party when J. Edgar Hoover fears charismatic leader Chairman Fred Hampton will emerge as a Black Messiah. O’Neal lives in fear of discovery and cannot escape the deadly trajectory of his betrayal. Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, Lil Rel Howery, Martin Sheen. World Premiere

Judas and the Black Messiah will premiere on Monday, February 1 at 6:00 p.m. Mountain Time on the digital platform, and will also play at the following Satellite Screens:

THE PLAZA THEATER PRESENTED BY ATLANTA FILM SOCIETY
1049 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA, 30306

DAD’S GARAGE DRIVE-IN PRESENTED BY ATLANTA FILM SOCIETY
569 Ezzard St SE , Atlanta, GA, 30312

JOURDAN-BACHMAN PIONEER FARMS PRESENTED BY AUSTIN FILM SOCIETY
10621 Pioneer Farms Drive, Austin, TX, 78754

SIDEWALK DRIVE-IN
1801 1st Ave. N. , Birmingham, AL, 35203

SIDEWALK FILM CENTER AND CINEMA
1821 2nd Ave N, Birmingham, AL, 35203

SPOTLIGHT CINEMAS CAPITAL 8 PRESENTED BY THE LUMINAL THEATER
201 Columbia Mall Blvd, Suite 211, Columbia, SC, 29223

THE TEXAS THEATRE PRESENTED BY AVIATION CINEMAS
231 W. Jefferson Blvd., Dallas, TX, 75208

MOONSTRUCK DRIVE-IN PRESENTED BY HOUSTON CINEMA ARTS SOCIETY
100 Bringhurst St, Houston, TX, 77020

FILMSCENE AT THE CHAUNCEY
404 E. College St, #100, Iowa City, IA, 52240

THE SPEED ART MUSEUM
2035 S. 3rd Street, Louisville, KY, 40208

MALCO SUMMER DRIVE-IN PRESENTED BY INDIE MEMPHIS
5310 Summer Ave, Memphis, TN, 38122

RIVERVIEW THEATER PRESENTED BY FILMNORTH
3800 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN, 55406

BELCOURT DRIVE-IN
2102 Belcourt Ave, Nashville, TN, 37212

THE LOFT OPEN AIR CINEMA
3233 East Speedway Blvd., Tucson, AZ, 85716

ADMIRAL TWIN DRIVE-IN PRESENTED BY CIRCLE CINEMA
7355 E Easton St, Tulsa, OK, 74115

CIRCLE CINEMA
10 S Lewis Ave, Tulsa, OK, 74104

STARLITE DRIVE-IN PRESENTED BY MAMA.FILM
3900 S Hydraulic Ave, Wichita, KS, 67216

WORLD DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION SECTION

Captains of Zaatari / Egypt (Director and Producer: Ali El Arabi) — Mahmoud and Fawzi, two best friends trapped in Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan, dream of becoming professional football players. When a world renowned sports academy scout visits the camp, both have a chance to make their dreams come true. World Premiere

Captains of Zaatari will premiere on Sunday, January 31 at 6:00 p.m. Mountain Time on the Festival’s digital platform.

With today’s stats, the program includes 73 feature-length films, representing 30 countries and 39 first-time feature filmmakers. 14 films and projects announced today were supported by Sundance Institute in development, through direct granting or residency Labs. 68 of the Festival’s feature films, or 93% of the lineup announced today, will be world premieres. These films were selected from 14,092 submissions including 3,500 feature-length films. Of the feature film submissions, 1,377 were from the U.S. and 2,132 were international. Director demographics are available in an editor’s note below.

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 Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, 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. 2021 Festival sponsors to date include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire, Adobe; Leadership Sponsors – Amazon Studios, AT&T, DoorDash, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom Group, Southwest Airlines® , WarnerMedia; Sustaining Sponsors – AMC, Audible, Canada Goose, Canon U.S.A., Inc., Dell Technologies, Documentary Plus, GEICO, IMDbPro, Stella Artois®, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health, White Claw Hard Seltzer, Zoom; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, NPR, The New York Times, Variety, Vulture, 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. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute
As a champion and curator of independent stories for the stage and screen, the nonprofit Sundance Institute provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, film composing, and digital media to create and thrive. Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, the Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs which are dedicated to developing new work and take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally, are supported largely through contributed revenue. Sundance Co//ab, a digital community platform, brings artists together to learn from each other and Sundance Advisors and connect in a creative space, developing and sharing works in progress. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences and artists to ignite new ideas, discover original voices, and build a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, City So Real, Top of the Lake, Between the World & Me, Wild Goose Dreams and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.


EDITOR NOTE: DIRECTOR DEMOGRAPHICS
The data we are sharing reflects the information provided directly by the artists. Some artists chose to not self-identify in all data areas.

FULL SLATE: Across 141 films and projects, 49%, or 69, were directed by one or more women; 4% or 6, were directed by one or more non-binary individuals; 50%, or 71, were directed by one or more artists of color; 15% or 21 by one or more people who identify as LGBTQ+.

U.S. COMPETITION:
Dramatic: 50% of the 10 directors in this year’s U.S. Dramatic Competition identify as women; 40% as BIPOC. Documentary: 64% of the 11 directors in this year’s U.S. Documentary Competition identify as women; 73% as BIPOC; 9% as LGBTQ+.

WORLD COMPETITION:
Dramatic: 50% of the 10 World Dramatic Competition identify as women.
Documentary: 42% of the 12 directors in the World Documentary Competition identify as women.

FEATURE FILM SUBMISSIONS: Of the feature film submissions, 1,377 were from the U.S. and 2,132 were international; 27% were directed by one or more women; 2% were directed by one or more non-binary individuals; 42% were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as BIPOC; 11% by one or more filmmakers who identify as LGBTQ+.

ALL FEATURES: Of the 73 feature films, 45% were directed by one or more women; 3% were directed by one or more non-binary individuals; 42% were directed by one or more filmmakers who identify as BIPOC; 8% by one or more filmmakers who identify as LGBTQ+.

NEW FRONTIER: Of the 32 artists across the 14-project section, 44% identify as women, 9% as non-binary, 44% as BIPOC, and 22% as LGBTQ+.

SHORTS: Comprising 50 films, 48% or 24 of all short films announced today chose to indicate they were directed by one or more women; 2% or 1 was directed by one or more non-binary individuals; 64% or 32 were directed by one or more artists of color; 20% or 10 by one or more people who identify as LGBTQ+. Of the 60 directors across the section, 42% indicated they identify as women, 2% as non-binary, 56% as BIPOC, and 20% as LGBTQ+.

(Source: Press release provided by Sundance Press Office)