All posts by HollywoodGlee

I’m a veteran of several film festivals including the Newport Beach Film Festival, the Berlin International Film Festival, the American Film Institute's AFIFest Hollywood and AFI DOCS, the famed Venice International Film Festival, the San Luis Obispo SLO Film Fest, and the Santa Barbara International Film Festival's family of festivals including the SBIFF, the SBIFF Wave Festivals and the SBIFF Showcase Film Series. To date I’ve written and published over 100 film reviews and have work posted on four sites including sbccfilmreviews.org, imdb.com. I have also been published in Classic Film Images magazine. In addition to writing reviews and covering film festivals, I am currently seeking distribution for new films. I have contacts in several major markets including Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, and Cannes, France. So when you’re looking for your film to get noticed, remember HollywoodGlee can help. We have professional marketers, respected critics and the most knowledgeable contacts on what film festival and/or distribution channel is right for you and your film. See you at the movies!

The 2020 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival presented by Hotel San Luis Obispo announces galas & special event screenings (March 17-22)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

 Chusy Jardine’s IT ALL BEGINS WITH A SONG: THE STORY
OF THE NASHVILLE SONGWRITER is the Opening Night
selection and Benjamin Kasulke’s BANANA SPLIT
is the Closing Night choice

Special screening events include “Hollywood & Vines” presentations
and two top titles from Sundance:
Adam Carter Rehmeier’s DINNER IN AMERICA and
Sam Feder’s DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ONSCREEN

San Luis Obispo, CA (February 18, 2020) – The 26th Annual San Luis Obispo International Film Festival presented by Hotel San Luis Obispo (March 17-22) today announced this year’s gala selections and special event screenings. Chusy Jardine’s IT ALL BEGINS WITH A SONG: THE STORY OF THE NASHVILLE SONGWRITER is the Opening Night selection, and Benjamin Kasulke’s BANANA SPLIT is the Closing Night selection. Special events include the “Hollywood & Vines” screening events celebrating the intersection of food, wine, and film. The Central Coast Filmmaker Showcase titles were also announced.

Wendy Eidson
Wendy Eidson, San Luis Obispo Film Festival Director

“We have set ourselves up for a very musical start, which will lead into a number of special film events that set us apart from a lot of other film festivals: joining our love of food, wine and great cinema into one combined evening” said San Luis Obispo Film Festival Director Wendy Eidson. “When you then add on two very popular films to come out of Sundance this year, 64 George Sidney Independent Film selections, and our growing Central Coast Filmmaker Showcase, we will be rolling out one our most impressive lineups of films and events yet.”

Jardine’s IT ALL BEGINS WITH A SONG: THE STORY OF THE NASHVILLE SONGWRITER will open the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival on Tuesday, March 17 at the Fremont Theatre (1035 Monterey Street). The film documents songwriters’ struggles, from paying their dues to working through the creative process. Drawing from more than 100 hours of footage, the film includes more than 80 interviews with well-known and lesser-known music industry figures and songwriters, such as Garth Brooks, Ben Folds, John Hiatt, Brett James, Alison Mosshart, Kacey Musgraves, and Keb’ Mo.’ Attending are Jardine, Executive Producer Kathryn Montgomery, John Godsey, as well as singer-songwriter with local roots, Jude Johnstone and Jade Jackson, who will also perform following the screening. The Opening Night celebration will include an Opening Night Pre-Screening Party at Luna Red (1023 Chorro Street), featuring a performance by popular SLO County band Mother Corn Shuckers.

The Closing Night selection will be Kasulke’s teen comedy, BANANA SPLIT. Screening on Sunday, March 22 at the Fremont Theatre, the film marks the return of one of the SLO Film Fest’s favorite filmmakers, Hannah Marks, who stars alongside Dylan Sprouse, Liana Liberato and Luke Spencer Roberts in a film where two high school senior girls have to figure out how to maintain their friendship while one of the dates the other’s ex-boyfriend. Marks, who also wrote and produced the film returns after premiering her feature film directorial debut AFTER EVERYTHING at the film festival last year.

Two hot titles were picked up out of the recently concluded Sundance Film Festival for SLO Film Fest fans to catch: Adam Carter Rehmeier’s audacious crowd-pleasing comedy stars Kyle Gallner as an on-the-lam punk rocker who connects with a young woman (Emily Skeggs) obsessed with his band. They go on an unexpected and epic journey together through the decaying suburbs of the American Midwest. The film features a cast of favorites including Pat Healy, Hannah Marks, Jennifer Prediger, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Lea Thompson. Sam Feder’s documentary, DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ONSCREEN looks at how Hollywood has deeply influenced how Americans feel about transgender people, and how transgender people have been taught to feel about themselves. Both screenings are expected to have the filmmakers and special guests attending.

Special events this year are highlighted by something that the SLO Film fest is famous for (next to its previously announced Surf Nite): the intersection and celebration of Food, Wine, and Film on the Central Coast. Described as “Hollywood & Vines” events, the carefully curated and produced events include East Meets West, a double feature of Peter Schroeder III’s FULL BOAR, about Gary Eberle, the godfather of the Paso Robles wine industry, and Tim Clott and Libbie Agran’s 91 HARVESTS, which tells the story of the Dusi Vineyards and their wines. Naturally, wine and appetizers will be served in the lobby of the historic Fremont Theatre in between the screenings on Wednesday, March 18.

BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM

The Octagon Barn Movie Night features John Chester’s hit documentary THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM about the filmmaker and his wife’s experience leaving the city for farm life, along with a special sneak preview of PBS’s WALKIN’ CALIFORNIA – PISMO PRESERVE, which takes us on a journey through the newly opened Pismo Preserve. The evening will include a delicious BBQ dinner with wine, to go along with the films in the historic and recently renovated barn in San Luis Obispo.

Other films in the “Hollywood & Vines” presentations include Beth Elise Hawk’s BREAKING BREAD, about the A-sham Arabic Food festival in Haifa, Israel; Abby Ainsworth’s STAGE: THE CULINARY INTERNSHIP about the apprenticeship experience at one of the best Michelin-starred restaurants in the world – Mugaritz; NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY, about Mexican cuisine cookbook author and environmental activist; and the Tastes and Flavors of Japan afternoon event featuring Hironori Sakurai’s THE STORY BEYOND A CUP OF SAKE and Sky Bergman’s MOCHITSUKI.

Screen Shot 2020-02-18 at 7.55.21 PM

The Coastal Awakening this year will sponsor a special sidebar of films celebrating the life and art of renowned composer and pianist Philip Glass with presentations of Scott Hick’s documentary, GLASS: A PORTRAIT OF PHILIP IN TWELVE PARTS (2007), and two films that feature Academy Award-winning original scores by Glass: Godfrey Reggio’s KOYAANISQATSI (1982), and Martin Scorsese’s KUNDUN (1997).

Passes are now on sale and information on the film festival can be found at https://slofilmfest.org.

SPECIAL PRESENTATION FILMS

HOLLYWOOD AND VINES PRESENTATIONS

91 HARVESTS
Directors:  Tim Clott and Libbie Agran
Country: USA, Running Time: 45 min
The story of the Dusi Vineyard began in the early 1920s, when Sylvester and Caterina Dusi emigrated from Northern Italy and settled in Paso Robles. The Dusi Vineyard introduced some of the first Zinfandels to California’s Central Coast; vineyards were rare in Old California in the early 1900’s.  Sylvester and Caterina were highly enterprising, and working together with their three sons – Guido, Dante and Benito, eventually bought an additional property on the west side of Highway 101 in 1945 and planted Zinfandel. Three generations after Janell Dusi’s great-grandparents first planted the land to Zinfandel, she is continuing the legacy of one of the area’s most well-loved vineyards, and taking ten percent of the production off the Dante Dusi Vineyard to create J Dusi Wines.

THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM
Director: John Chester
Country: USA, Running Time: 91 min
This beautiful, multi-award winning documentary chronicles the eight-year quest of John and Molly Chester as they trade city living for 200 acres of barren farmland and a dream to harvest in harmony with nature. By doggedly persevering and embracing the opportunity provided by nature’s conflicts, the couple unlocks a biodiverse design for living that exists far beyond their farm, its seasons and our wildest imagination. Featuring breathtaking cinematography, captivating animals and an urgent message to heed Mother Nature’s call, this film provides us all a vital blueprint for better living and a healthier planet.

BREAKING BREAD
Director: Beth Elise Hawk
Country: USA, Running Time: 86 min
A visually beautiful film that offers a recipe for tolerance – and hope. Dr. Nof Atamna-Ismaeel, the first Muslim Arab to win Israel’s MasterChef television competition, is on a quest to effect social change. So she starts the A-sham Arabic Food Festival in Haifa, Israel, where pairs of Arab and Jewish chefs collaborate on mouthwatering local dishes – and become friends. Set in a region beset with conflict, Breaking Bread sends a clear message: Strip away politics and religion and you’ll find that people are people. And what better way to do that than over a great meal?

FULL BOAR
Director: Peter Schroeder III
Country: USA, Running Time: 50 min
In this insightful documentary about Gary Eberle, you’ll get a sense of the man called the godfather of the Paso Robles wine industry – his astute winemaking skills, warmth, self-deprecating humor, genuine compassion and determination in overcoming a hostile corporate takeover. Now celebrating his namesake winery’s 40th year, the man once destined for medical research credits legendary football coach Joe Paterno and famed winemaker Robert Mondavi for teaching him key lessons along the way.

NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY
Director: Elizabeth Carroll
Countries: USA/Mexico, Running Time: 82 min
Cookbook author and environmental activist Diana Kennedy reflects on an unconventional life spent mastering Mexican cuisine. It’s a candid, comprehensive whirlwind tour through the life and work of this 96-year-old uncompromising chef who’s been called an “adorable narcissist.” “If her enthusiasm were not beautiful, it would border on mania,” says influential New York Times food editor Craig Claiborne in a quote that opens the film.

STAGE: THE CULINARY INTERNSHIP
Director: Abby Ainsworth
County: Spain, Running Time: 78 min
A group of interns work together during a nine-month apprenticeship at one of the best Michelin-starred restaurants in the world, Mugaritz. They’re unpaid, away from home, speaking a different language and working brutally long hours. While the restaurant’s notorious avant-garde cuisine and creative working environment elevate those young hopefuls to think outside the confines of a kitchen, the extremely high standards prove to be mentally and physically challenging.

THE STORY BEYOND A CUP OF SAKE
Director: Hironori Sakurai
Country: Japan, Running Time: 62 min
A wonderfully intimate and special look at the delicate care and production of a local sake brewery in Japan through the eyes of a married couple who create the sake and oversee the brewery. We also meet many individuals who work in and care for the gorgeous rice fields and distribute the finished sake, drawing interesting parallels to the wine industry in California.
Screening with

MOCHITSUKI
Director: Sky Bergman
Country: USA, Running Time: 5 min
The ancient tradition of preparing Mochi to celebrate the Japanese New Year goes back centuries. Join one close-knit intergenerational community in San Luis Obispo County who revels in the ceremonial pounding of the cooked rice, the forming of the warm Mochi cakes, and of course eating the yummy results! Elders and kids alike reflect on what Mochi means to them, leaving not a cheek untouched by rice flour.

WALKIN’ CALIFORNIA – PISMO PRESERVE
Director: Cameron Mitchell
Country: USA, Running Time: 27 min
WALKIN’ CALIFORNIA – PISMO PRESERVE is about getting out of the office and off the couch and exploring all the diversity this incredible state has to offer. Join host Steve Weldon as he and Land Conservancy staff take a hike on the newly opened Pismo Preserve, located just north of Pismo Beach. As we meet a variety of Central Coast residents along the way, this episode highlights the natural beauty of the area and the important work the Land Conservancy is doing in our community.

ADDITIONAL SPECIAL PRESENTATION FILMS

ALMOST FAMOUS
Director: Ben Proudfoot
Country: USA, Running Time: 51 min
Pop stars who never were. Household names who remain unknown. Astronauts who never entered space. Rock stars whonever had their day. The lives of these fascinating and incredibly talented individuals are chronicled in this collection of four wonderful short films, produced by the New York Times Op-Docs series and directed by SLO Film Fest alum Ben Proudfoot (RWANDA AND JULIET, 2016), KIM I AM, THE LOST ASTRONAUT, THE OTHER FAB FOUR, and THE KING OF FISH & CHIPS are all memorable stories that will amaze, inspire, and most importantly, entertain.

THE BIG PARADE (1925)
Director: King Vidor
Country: USA, Running Time: 151 min
Wealthy young idler Jim Apperson (John Gilbert) enlists during the early days of World War I, to the worry of his mother (Claire McDowell) and the pride of his father (Hobart Bosworth). Sent to the front lines in the French countryside, Jim bonds with his working-class bunkmates and falls in love with young French farm girl Melisande despite having a girlfriend back home. But the romance of war is soon shattered for good. This 1925 silent film features a wonderful score by Carl Davis.

DINNER IN AMERICA
Director: Adam Carter Rehmeier
Country: USA, Running Time: 106 min
An on-the-lam punk rocker and a young woman obsessed with his band go on an unexpected and epic journey together through the decaying suburbs of the American Midwest.

DISCLOSURE: TRANS LIVES ONSCREEN
Director: Sam Feder
Country: USA, Running Time: 100 min
An investigation of how Hollywood’s fabled stories have deeply influenced how Americans feel about transgender people, and how transgender people have been taught to feel about themselves.

ENAMORADA (1946)
Director: Emilio Fernández
Country: Mexico, Running Time: 96 min
This 1946 Mexican drama was shot on location in Puebla. The revolutionary José Juan Reyes (Pedro Armendáriz, a Cal Poly graduate!) takes the town of CholulaPuebla and demands contributions from its wealthiest citizens for the Mexican Revolution. However, his plans are disrupted when he falls in love with the Señorita Beatriz Peñafiel (María Félix), the tempestuous daughter of the town’s richest man. The film was fully restored by UCLA in 2018. Film will be introduced by Latino Film expert Maria Elena de las Carreras.

GLASS: A PORTRAIT OF PHILIP IN TWELVE PARTS (2007)
Director: Scott Hicks
Country: USA, Running Time: 119 min
An eventful year in the career and personal life of distinguished Western classical composer Philip Glass as he interacts with a number of friends and collaborators, who include Chuck Close, Ravi Shankar, and Martin Scorsese.

HEARTS OF GLASS: A VERTICAL FARM TAKES ROOTS IN WYOMING
Director: Jennifer Tennican
Country: USA, Running Time: 68 min
Vertical Harvest (VH) is a highly innovative but risky experiment in growing crops and providing meaningful employment for people with disabilities. Built on 1/10 of an acre at an elevation of 6,237 feet, the high tech hydroponic greenhouse is located in Jackson, Wyoming, a mountain town with extreme seasonal fluctuations in weather, population and demand for goods and services. Business drama is interwoven with the personal journeys of individuals who are part of an underemployed and underestimated group, adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Plants and people grow together in this intimate portrait of one community’s attempt to address timely and pressing issues around local food production, inclusion and opportunity.

KOYAANISQATSI (1982)
Director: Godfrey Reggio
Country: USA, Running Time: 86 min
A collection of expertly photographed phenomena with no conventional plot. The footage focuses on nature, humanity, and the relationship between them.

KUNDUN (1997)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Country: USA, Running Time: 134 min
From childhood to adulthood, Tibet’s fourteenth Dalai Lama deals with Chinese oppression and other problems.

CENTRAL COAST FILMMAKER SHOWCASE

FEATURE DOCUMENTARY
91 HARVESTS
(see above)

BETTER TOGETHER
Director: Isaac Hernandez
Country: USA, Running Time: 50 min
Community makes the difference. The response to a horrendous oil blowout fifty years ago in Santa Barbara sparked the modern environment, creating a culture that continues to inspire local solutions to global problems. The legacy of the oil spill continues to inform this community, which keeps coming together, providing local solutions to global environmental problems; such as when over 3,000 volunteers jointed the Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade to dig the mud from homes after the deadly 2018 debris flow.

BY HAND
Director: Kellen Keene
Country: USA, Running Time: 67 min
In an attempt to escape comfort, reconnect to the natural world and set a new bar for ocean adventure, SLO County residents and twin brothers Casey and Ryan Higginbotham made a decision that would reshape their loives. On March 18, 2016, they embarked on a 2200-mile paddle from Alaska to Mexico with 18-foot paddle boards.

SPOONS: A SANTA BARBARA STORY
Director: Wyatt Daily
Country: USA, Running Time: 58 min
Dusty archives have been re-discovered remastered to bring a new perspective to one of the most crucial periods in surfing’s evolution. This is a film compiled of never-before-seen footage from surfing’s Golden Age, with outtakes and extras from some of surfing’s most well-known filmmakers to tell a history that has never been told before. A story of craftsmanship, work ethic, renegades and tradition; a film that goes beyond the time spent in the ocean to define how one spends a lifetime.

NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS
THE ADVENTURES OF COWMAN AND LAMBOY
Director: Dominic Hure
Country: USA, Running Time: 7 min

BLUE NOISE
Director: Jonah Moshammer
Country: USA, Running Time: 12 min

CAL POLY SHORTS
Directors: Cal Poly Liberal Arts students
Country: USA, Running Time: 50 min

CRIMSON CUFFS
Director: Madeline Vail
Country: USA, Running Time: 7 min

DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS
Director: Dale Griffiths Stamos
Country: USA, Running Time: 13 min

THE INCIDENT
Director: Johannes S. Beals
Country: USA, Running Time: 5 min

LOCKDOWN
Director: Jorrit Van Der Kooi
Country: USA, Running Time: 8 min

MOVING PAINS
Director: Michael Gould
Country: USA, Running Time: 14 min

NICKEL IN THE SAND
Director: Mike Winger
Country: USA, Running Time: 3 min

ODD BIRD
Director: Katy Dore
Country: USA, Running Time: 9 min

ROSIE
Director: Shanti Herzog
Country: USA, Running Time: 17 min

DOCUMENTARY SHORT
93: LETTERS FROM MARGE
Director: Heather Hudson
Country: USA, Running Time: 30 min

BIRDS OF LOS BANOS
Director: Gail Osherenko
Country: USA, Running Time: 14 min

CARRIZO PLAIN: A SENSE OF PLACE
Director: Jeff McLoughlin
Country: USA, Running Time: 32 min

THE EDGE OF PURPOSE
Director: Winslow Perry
Country: USA, Running Time: 40 min

FARM TO FLOAT: THE MAKING OF THE CALIFORNIA GROWN ROSE PARADE ENTRIES
Director: Alex Raban
Country: USA, Running Time: 17 min

FOREVER VOTERS
Director: Sky Bergman
Country: USA, Running Time: 7 min

KUT TO BE THE BEST: THE LAST BLACK BARBERSHOP IN SAN LUIS OBISPO
Director/Writer: Justice Whitaker
Country: USA, Running Time: 40 min

LIFESAVER: THE SLO NOOR FOUNDATION STORY
Director: Bob Williams
Country: USA, Running Time: 40 min

MARGARET SINGER: SEEKING LIGHT
Director: Louise Palanker
Country: USA, Running Time: 20 min

MOCHITSUKI
(see above)

ORANGEBURG: A TOWN, A TEAM, AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY
Director: Jim Fabio
Country: USA, Running Time: 20 min

PASO ROBLES: A GOODBYE STORY
Director: Brandt Goodman
Country: USA, Running Time: 4 min

REFORGING A LEGACY
Director: Bryan McLain
Country: USA, Running Time: 8 min

SLOFF_2020

ABOUT SAN LUIS OBISPO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Located half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo’s laid-back vibe and serene natural beauty is the perfect setting for this highly regarded annual film celebration. Filmmakers rave about the warmth and attentiveness that is so much a part of the SLO Film fest experience, as does the swelling tide of industry pros and film critics who are fast discovering the film festival’s thoughtful audiences and unique programming sensibility. At the SLO Film Fest, “Movies Matter!”

*Featured photo: HollywoodGlee at the SLO Film Fest Festival Tent (Photo by Kevin O’Connor, in memoriam)

(Source: Press release provided by John Wildman, Wildman PR)

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Dawson City: Frozen Time (Morrison, USA) 2016

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Viewed as part of Prof. Albright’s Film Studies 104, “American Cinema up to the 1960’s.”

Directed/Written/Photographed and Edited by Bill Morrison, Dawson City: Frozen Time weaves a narrative of a highly unique period in the history of human civilization.

It’s a story of a Canadian gold rush town at the confluence of the Klondike and Yukon Rivers, approximately 175 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The area had been an important hunting and fishing camp for a nomadic First Nation tribe known as Tr’ondek Hwech’in.

Utilizing a treasure trove of 533 reels of film (dating from the 1910’s and 1920’s (seemingly lost until being discovered buried in an abandoned sub-artic swimming pool) newsreels, archival photographs and modern day and interviews, Morrison uncovers a magical and mythical trail of settlers, gold mining prospectors in search of gold and prosperity and the end of a Hollywood film distribution line in the Canadian Yukon.

The perma-frost preserved films are now housed at the US Library of Congress and in the Canadian Archives in Ottawa. Jointly, the Library of Congress and the Canadian National Archives restored all the titles to 35mm preservation masters.

Dawson City: Frozen Time is highly recommended and a must-see for any film historian!

Gravitas Features sets March 20 release date for Amber McGinnis’ award-winning dark comedy INTERNATIONAL FALLS

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Gravitas Ventures set to release
Amber McGinnis’ award-winning dark comedy
INTERNATIONAL FALLS
Theatrical and North American VOD release on March 20

Intl Falls PosterNEW YORK, NY (February 12, 2020) – Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company, announced today the theatrical and VOD release date of Friday, March 20 for Amber McGinnis’ award-winning film INTERNATIONAL FALLS. The dark comedy will wrap up a successful year-long film festival run with appearances in a trio of film festivals around the country, and in France at the 42nd International Women’s Film Festival.

The feature film directorial debut by McGinnis, INTERNATIONAL FALLS features a lineup of notable comedian/actors and familiar faces including Rachel Harris (Lucifer, Suits), Rob Huebel (Children’s Hospital, Transparent), Kevin Nealon (Man with a Plan, Weeds), Mindy Sterling (The Goldbergs, the AUSTIN POWERS films), Erik Griffin (Workahlics, I’m Dying Up Here), and Matthew Glave (THE WEDDING SINGER, ARGO). The film was written by Thomas Ward, and produced by Nicholas Dunlevy and McGinnis.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL FALLS is a dark comedy about Dee (Rachael Harris), a woman stuck in a small, snowbound border town in northern Minnesota who harbors a secret dream of a career in stand-up. When she forms a friendship with Tim (Rob Huebel), a burned-out touring comedian, these two lost souls are forced to face the harsh but funny truths of their lives.

Intl Falls 2
Rob Huebel and Rachel Harris in INTERNATIONAL FALLS (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

The film has been an official selection at 22 film festivals across the country, and has won multiple awards, including the Grand Jury Prize at 5 different festivals. The film festivals giving the film their highest honor, include the Ashland Independent Film Festival, the Naples International Film Festival, the New York No Limits Film Series, the Seattle International Film Festival, and the Tallgrass International Film Festival in Wichita.

 

Rogalsky
Brett Rogalsky

“What audiences will most like about INTERNATIONAL FALLS is undoubtedly its human elements: the characters, the emotions, and the humor are all realistic and relatable, making for an easy to fall in love with feature,” said Brett Rogalsky, Acquisitions Coordinator at Gravitas Ventures.

 

INTERNATIONAL FALLS will continue its impressive film festival tour leading up to its release with appearances at; Dallas’ Best of Fests on February 29 which includes top films from 2019 festival programming in Dallas and North Texas film festivals’ programming form 2019; the Destiny City Film Festival in Takoma, Washington on March 14, and the Fargo Film Festival on March 21, the day after the film opens across the country and on VOD.

Gravitas

About Gravitas Ventures

Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company, is a leading all rights distributor of independent feature films and documentaries. Founded in 2006, Gravitas connects independent filmmakers and producers with distribution opportunities across the globe. Working with talented directors and producers, Gravitas Ventures has distributed thousands of films into over a hundred million homes in North America – over one billion homes worldwide. Recent releases include Armstrong, directed by David Fairhead; Above the Shadows staring Olivia Thirlby, Megan Fox and Jim Gaffigan; The River and the Wall, directed by Ben Masters; Score: A Film Music Documentary; California Typewriter; Legion of Brothers; Katie Holmes’ feature directorial debut; All We Had, Colin Hanks’ All Things Must Pass; and Being Evel from Academy Award winning director Daniel Junge and producer Johnny Knoxville.

For more information, please visit gravitasventures.com, and follow @GravitasVOD on Twitter and @gravitasventures on Instagram.

About Red Arrow Studios

Red Arrow Studios is one of the world’s leading creators and distributors of entertainment content. Red Arrow Studios is comprised of 20 production companies in seven territories, including 10 companies based in the United States; world-leading multi-platform digital network Studio71, based in six countries; and global film and TV distributors Red Arrow Studios International and Gravitas Ventures.

The group’s significant output includes scripted, non-scripted and formatted content and IP, from TV and film to short-form and branded content, made for an array of global networks and platforms.

Red Arrow Studios is part of ProSiebenSat.1 Media SE, one of Europe’s leading media groups. For more information, please visit: https://redarrowstudios.com/

 

(Source: Press release provided by Wildman PR, John Wildman)

 

Dallas’ Best of Fests 2020 Announces Film Lineup Celebrating 26 Different Film Festivals

Posted by Larry Gleeson

North Texas Film Festivals Announce
BEST OF FESTS Presented by EarthX and EarthxFilm
Film Festival Event
 (February 27-March 1, 2020)

Return of the one of a kind event celebrating film
with special selections representing 26 film festivals
in Dallas, Fort Worth, and North Texas

Funghi

Dallas, TX (February 11, 2020) – Film festivals based in Dallas, Forth Worth, and North Texas have joined forces once again to present the second edition of the Best of Fests Presented by EarthX and EarthxFilm on February 27-March 1, 2020. 26 different film festivals will be celebrated in the one-of-a-kind event, with 18 film festivals presenting 11 feature films and 26 short films that either was popular with their audiences or represent their programming esthetic. The films will be screened at Alamo Drafthouse-Cedars, and the Texas Theatre.

Participating film festivals include; 3 Stars Jewish Cinema, Asian Film Festival of Dallas (AFFD), Czech That Film, Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF), Dallas Jewish Film Festival, Dallas VideoFest (#AltFiction, #DocuFest), Deep Ellum Film Festival, Deep in the Heart Film Festival, Denton Black Film Festival, EarthxFilm, Festival de Cine Latino Americano, Forth Worth Independent Film Showcase, Frame4Frame, Lone Star Film Festival, North Texas Film Festival, Oak Cliff Film Festival, Pegasus Film Festival, Q Cinema, Sons of the Flag Stars and Stripes Film Festival, South Asian Film Festival, Thin Line Film Festival, Topaz Film Festival, and Women Texas Film Festival.

Best of Fests Festival Producer Erin Nicole Parisi said, “It was remarkable that this special film event was accomplished last year and the fact that we have been able to bring everyone together once again speaks to something truly wonderful and unique about the film festival and film loving community in Dallas, Fort Worth and North Texas. These films represent the wide range of styles, interests, storytelling, and entertainment that the amazing array of film festivals throughout this area bring to audiences all year long. Of course I’m maybe a little biased, but I think everyone should mark these days off their calendars and immerse themselves in this sampling of films from these wonderful festivals.”

Best of Fests will open on Friday, February 28, at the Texas Theatre with EarthxFilm’s screening of Louis Schwartzberg’s FANTASTIC FUNGI, which looks at the magical world of fungi and their power to heal, sustain and contribute to the regeneration of life on Earth. Along with the stunning photography, experts, scientists and authors lend their views on how the fungi kingdom offer us answers and solutions to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges. The film will be preceded by an animated short from the Pegasus Film Festival. Morgan McGrath’s THE WOLF AND THE RABBIT, is a charming film where a young wolf wants to play with a very wary rabbit that was his friend when they were babies

Red Dog

Other highlights will include Amber McGinnis’s award-winning comedy-drama, INTERNATIONAL FALLS. Presented by the Women Texas Film Festival, the film stars comic and actress Rachel Harris as a woman stuck in a small, snowbound border town with dreams of being a stand-up whose life is changed when she meets a washed up, burned out comedian (played by Rob Huebel) with dreams of doing anything else. The film also stars comedian/actor Kevin Nealon. DIFF will present a 10th Anniversary screening of Will Patton’s BROTHERHOOD about a pledge at a college fraternity faced with a moral dilemma, and the Dallas Video Fest will screen Elizabeth Coffman’s documentary, FLANNERY, an exploration of the life and work of author Flannery O’Connor, whose distinctive Southern Gothic style influenced a generation of artists and activists. The Lone Star Film Festival will present Luke Dick’s RED DOG, which looks at the filmmaker’s upbringing among strippers, bouncers, and outcasts that populated one of Oklahoma City’s most notorious strip clubs

Each film will also feature appearances by the filmmakers, including a pre-festival concert on Thursday, February 27 by Luke Dick and the Steve Band at the 3 Links Club in Deep Ellum (2704 Elm Street). The concert kick-off to the Best of Fests will also acknowledge the 20th Anniversary of the local legendary Deep Ellum Film Festival, which was founded by Michael Cain, the Co-Founder and President of EarthxFilm.

EarthxFilm is the 501c3 fiscal sponsor of Best of Fests. Sponsors and partners include EarthX and EarthxFilm, Kinetigraf Entertainment, Prekindle, Selig Polyscope, Alamo Drafthouse, Texas Theatre, Dallas Film Commission/Dallas Creative Industries, Dallas Producers Association, Visit Dallas, Kelly Kitchens PR and Wildworks PR.

Film festival passes and tickets are on-sale now. For more information, go to: www.bestoffests.org.

The 2020 Best of Fests Film Festival official selections:

3 STARS JEWISH CINEMA
GOLDA’S BALCONY
Director: Scott Schwartz
Country: USA, Running Time: 86 min
The play, “Golda’s Balcony”, portrays the amazing rise of Golda Meir from Russian schoolgirl to American school teacher to Prime Minister of Israel. The main focus of the play is on the period surrounding the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when Israel was attacked by Egypt and Syria. Tovah Feldshuh gives an award-winning performance as Golda, which she went on to repeat over 500 times, on and off-Broadway. A rare multi-camera shoot from the play’s original run was recently unearthed and assembled into this riveting motion picture.
(Presented with the Dallas Jewish Film Festival)

ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL OF DALLAS
THE WITCH: PART 1 THE SUBVERSION (2018)
Director: Park Hoon-Jung
Country: South Korea, Running Time: 125 min
10 years ago, Ja-yoon escaped from a government facility in the midst of an inexplicable incident by herself and lost all her memory. An old couple takes her in even though she doesn’t know her name or age. She grows up to be a bright high school student and enters a nationally televised audition program to win the top prize and help her struggling family out. As soon as she appears on TV, strange people start appearing in her life. A man named ‘Nobleman’ constantly roams around her, in addition to ‘Dr. Baek’ and ‘Mr. Choi’ who have been searching for her since her disappearance. Ja-yoon’s life falls into turmoil as they turn her seemingly ordinary life upside down in a blink of an eye…

CZECH THAT FILM
WINTER FLIES (2018)
Director: Olmo Omerzu
Country: USA, Running Time: 85 min
Two mischievous adolescent boys embark on a journey of imaginative misadventure and coming-of-age self-discovery, in this road trip comedy celebrating the need to indulge the innocence, impulsiveness, and irrepressibility of youth.

DALLAS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
BROTHERHOOD (2010)                        
Director: Will Cannon
Country: USA, Running Time: 81 min
Adam Buckley finds himself in the middle of a convenience store robbery during his last night as a pledge for a college fraternity. When the initiation ritual goes horribly wrong, and every move proves disastrous, Adam is forced to confront a new challenge all together, and he has to take a stand.
(Presented with the North Texas Film Festival)

DALLAS VIDEO FEST (#DOCUFEST/#ALTFICTION)
FLANNERY
Director: Elizabeth Coffman
Country: USA, Running Time: 96 min
Flannery is the lyrical, intimate exploration of the life and work of author Flannery O’Connor, whose distinctive Southern Gothic style influenced a generation of artists and activists. With her family home at Andalusia (the Georgia farm where she grew up and later wrote her best-known work) as a backdrop, a picture of the woman behind her sharply aware, starkly redemptive style comes into focus. Including conversations with those who knew her and those inspired by her (Alice Walker, Tommy Lee Jones, Mary Karr, Conan O’Brien and more), Flannery employs never-before-seen archival footage, newly discovered personal letters and her own published words (read by Mary Steenburgen) alongside original animations and music to elevate the life and legacy of an American literary icon.
(Presented with the Women Texas Film Festival)

DEEP ELLUM FILM FESTIVAL
STANDING STILL (2001)
Director: Melina McKinnon
Country: USA, Running Time: 14 min
Maria (Alaina Kalanj) a talented emerging artist is forced to relive the high school shooting she witnessed and photographed ten years earlier by an invitation to her 10-year reunion. Those photographs propelled her into national prominence and set up her future. Ryan, her agent (Elizabeth Rothan), and her partner Blake (David Andriole) debate whether it is best to put the past behind you or deal with it head-on. The high school shooter is played by Ash Christian.

DEEP IN THE HEART FILM FESTIVAL
ENCORE
Director: Sonny Steckel
Country: USA, Running Time: 19:08 min
Four retired rockers have formed a new band and booked their first show. But when a bandmate’s daughter threatens to put one of them in a nursing home, the band must go to new extremes to stay together and keep the dream alive.

MARGARET AND THE MOON
Director: Trevor Morgan
Country: USA, Running Time: 12 min
An unpopular little girl falls in love with her imagination and learns the true value of friendship.

PICKLE
Director: Grant Moore
Country: USA, Running Time: 21:28 min
After accidentally freezing the family dog to death, Oscar attempts to make good with his soon-to-be stepson by driving the family pet’s ashes across the country.

SACRED HAIR
Director: Mario Morin
Country: USA, Running Time: 13:14 min
A fortuitous life-changing encounter between a young ill boy and a Muslim woman in a Montreal park.

TOWARDS THE SUN
Director: Monica Santis
Country: USA, Running Time: 19:30 min
A 12-year-old girl confronts her scarring past when she is placed at an immigrant children’s shelter for unaccompanied minors in Texas.

DENTON BLACK FILM FESTIVAL
THE AWAKENING
Director: Cedrick May
Country: USA, Running Time: 5:34 min
Two brothers find themselves haunted in a series of nested dreams within dreams by “The Man,” a relentless, malevolent figure who haunts them throughout the night.

BRANCH
Director: Kelly Gray
Country: USA, Running Time: 7:45 min
Aretha’s book store is becoming a victim of a hate crime but she finds a way through a secret coded slave language called tut to seek out revenge.

HARVEST
Director: Starling Thomas
Country: USA, Running Time: 20:22 min
A tech-billionaire must save his wife by finding her a new liver, no matter what the cost.

I AM TX
Director: Ryan Darbonne
Country: USA, Running Time: 9:50 min
On their last day of tour, a black punk band find themselves in awkward, surreal and life-threatening situations with an ignorant cast of characters.

SEEKING WOMAN $$$
Director: Samenta
Country: USA, Running Time: 11:18 min
Strangers meet regarding an ad online, getting more than either bargained for.

SOLOMON’S DILEMMA
Director: Michael L. Jackson
Country: USA, Running Time: 16:49 min
Two brothers have lead two very different lives and now Solomon has to choose between his future and his brothers. Is blood really “thicker than water”, or will Solomon turn his back on the brother that has supported him his whole life?

UNREQUITED DREAMS: AN AMERICAN TRUTH
Director: Eboni Johnson
Country: USA, Running Time: 26:04 min
In 1968 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act to dismantle discriminatory housing practices. Over 50 years later the housing gap has only widened between white homeowners and homeowners of color creating increasingly segregated neighborhoods across the national landscape. Focusing on the ever-gentrifying area of West Dallas we evaluate the meaning of the American Dream and the communities left with promises unfulfilled.

EARTHXFILM
FANTASTIC FUNGI
Director: Louie Schwartzberg
Country: USA, Running Time: 74 min
FANTASTIC FUNGI, directed by Louie Schwartzberg, is a consciousness-shifting film that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet. Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, Andrew Weil and others, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions the fungi kingdom offer us in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges.

FESTIVAL DE CINE LATINO AMERICANO
RAMONA
Director: Rodrigo Moreno
Country: USA, Running Time: 14:34 min
A girl endures an abusive life at the hands of a man she was traded to and forced to care for. A spaghetti western with a Mexican twist.

FORT WORTH INDEPENDENT FILM SHOWCASE & FRAME4FRAME FILM FESTIVAL
BREAKING BROKENESS (2018)
Director: Cedric Thomas Smith
Country: USA, Running Time: 21 min
After her release from prison, Frankie tries to repair her relationship with her unforgiving daughter, LaToya.

HOLLOWED (2018)
Director: Cedric Thomas Smith
Country: USA, Running Time: 24 min
A terminal illness brings a couple back together and rekindles a love that had lost its way.

LONE STAR FILM FESTIVAL
RED DOG
Director: Luke Dick
Country: USA, Running Time: 105 min
In the early 1980s, the only family that toddler Luke knew, were the strippers, bouncers, and outcasts that called Oklahoma City’s rowdiest strip club home.

OAK CLIFF FILM FESTIVAL
SWALLOW
Director: Carla Mirabella-Davis
Country: USA, Running Time: 95 min
Hunter, a newly pregnant housewife, finds herself increasingly compelled to consume dangerous objects. As her husband and his family tighten their control over her life, she must confront the dark secret behind her new obsession.

PEGASUS FILM FESTIVAL
A CRIME STORY
Directors: John Bayonne, Alexis Flores
Country: USA, Running Time: 8:26 min
Jacob Schmidt and David Garcia are at the close of another case when new information will lead the young Detectives wondering who they can trust.

BAIT
Director: Sophie Gilmour
Country: USA, Running Time: 6:38 min
A disaffected girl deals with a leering boss at the pet store she works at.

LUKE CHACKO: THE LITTLE KID WITH A BIG VOICE
Director: Victoria Chikaoneka
Country: USA, Running Time: 6:59
12-year-old singer-songwriter Luke Chacko became a viral internet sensation following his impromptu performance of the hit song “Let it Go” at an Idina Menzel concert on July 30th, 2017. Following this, The Ellen Show invited him to be a guest.

MEET METAL: BANGOVER
Director: Morgan McGrath
Country: USA, Running Time: 4 min
This film explores one of the most well-known aspects of the metal scene: headbanging. Artists from different areas of the international metal scene speak out about why they headbang, how they headbang, and how they take care of their necks after a crazy show to avoid that dreaded bangover.

ROUND AND ROUND
Directors: Adriann Wrice, Soliel Singh, Alex Travell, Aaliyah White
Country: USA, Running Time: 4:57 min
A film made to highlight bullying in modern times and how one act of kindness can change everything.

THE WOLF AND THE RABBIT
Director: Morgan McGrath
Country: US, Running Time: 1:46 min
Now grown up, a wolf wants to play with a rabbit that was his friend when they were babies.

SOUTH ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL
IN SEARCH OF SILENCE
Director: Dar Gai
Country: USA, Running Time: 84 min
An elderly chauffeur, who is tired of the noises in the obstreperous Mumbai City life, has completely stopped speaking and decides to leave everything in search of “Silent Valley” which is said to have a naturally occurring phenomenon of almost a zero decibel sound level.

THIN LINE FILM FESTIVAL
BUILDING THE AMERICAN DREAM
Director: Chelsea Hernandez
Country: USA, Running Time: 75 min
In Texas, construction workers face the deadliest conditions in the country. Building the American Dream follows three immigrant families who are rising up to seek justice and equality in an industry rife with exploitation.

TOPAZ FILM FESTIVAL
DRIVING LESSONS
Director: Marziyeh Riahi
Country: Iran, Running Time: 12:48 min
According to the laws of Iran, Bahareh must have her traditional, chauvinistic husband accompany her to driving lessons so she and her instructor will not be alone

RIBBONS
Director: Marcela Cantú Serrano
Country: USA, Running Time: 14:57 min
Lucy dreams of attending the Sadie Hawkins dance with Tomás, a classmate who keeps to himself in her Spanish class. However, when she thinks she is clear to finally take the leap, things take an unexpected and mortifying turn.

TOPANGA
Director: Aycil Yeltan
Country: USA, Running Time: 14:59 min
Hearing impaired and homeless, Gala escapes from an abusive man – she thinks. However, after he locates her again, she finds the strength to stand up to him one more time and begin a “survival walk” that may change her life.

WOMEN TEXAS FILM FESTIVAL
INTERNATIONAL FALLS
Director: Amber McGinnis
Country: USA, Running Time: 93 min
A woman stuck in a small, snowbound border town has dreams of doing comedy when she meets a washed up, burned out comedian with dreams of doing anything else.
(Presented with Dallas Video Fest)

Best of Fests

(Source: Press release from Wildworks PR, John Wildman)

 

 

Santa Barbara Film Festival Wraps A Successful 2020

Posted by Larry Gleeson

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SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling, left, and Bronagh Gallgher, of the 2020 Opening Night Film, A Bump Along the Way, onstage at the historic Arlington, Theatre, in Santa Barbara, Calif., January 15th, 2020. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

The 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) exploded with Opening Night film, A Bump Along the Way, and hit a new benchmark with its fan-adoring tributes and special programming – and that’s in addition to the well established and diversified international offerings, the Writers Panel, Producers Panel and Women in the Biz Panel.

A Bump Along the Way delivered a raucous and thought-provoking narrative about “a middle-aged woman whose unexpected pregnancy after a one-night stand acts as the catalyst for her to finally take control of her life and become the role model her teenage daughter needs and craves.” Moments of emotionally taut sequences followed by well-timed comic relief set a high benchmark for the rest of the festival offerings.

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Parasite Director Bong Joon Ho (Photo courtesy of SBIFF)

A highpoint of this year’s fest was 2020 Oscar-winning Parasite Director Bong Joon Ho accepting the Outstanding Director of the Year Award at SBIFF. Before receiving the award, Joon-Ho, — accompanied by filmmaker and interpreter Sharon Choi — sat down with The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg for an insightful conversation. Afterward, Director Bong Joon Ho accepting the award commented,

 

35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Outstanding Directors Of The Year
Translator Sharon Choi, left, and Bong Joon-ho speak onstage at the Outstanding Directors of the Year during the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival at the Arlington Theatre on January 23, 2020, in Santa Barbara, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SBIFF)

“It’s been 26 years since I’ve been working as a filmmaker. Because I write all of my scripts myself, I’m quite slow, so personally I’m a little disappointed that I’ve only created seven feature films until now, but when I look back on my past 25 years my life has been quite simple. It’s been about watching films and making films. Only those two things…Ever since I got here and Santa Barbara, I’ve kept looking back trying to figure out if I’m truly outstanding as this award says. But I still think I have a lot of opportunities left. I don’t really want to talk about my age, but recently I’ve been meeting Scorsese very often, and I still have 25 years considering how he is doing right now.”

With over 200 films screening, it’s always a challenge to pick award winners. Here is a list of this year’s award-winning films:

Audience Choice Award sponsored by The Santa Barbara Independent:

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

Best Documentary Short Film Award:

Henry Roosevelt’s Sixth of June

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Live-Action Short Film:

Jianna Maartin’s Sin Cielo

Bruce Corwin Award – Best Animated Short Film:

Jonathan Langager’s Cosmic Fling

Best Documentary Award sponsored by SEE International:

Brian Morrison’s Bastards’ Road

Jeffrey C. Barbakow Award – Best International Feature Film:

Fatos Berisha’s The Flying Circus (Cirku Fluturues)

Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema:

William Nicholson’s Hope Gap

Nueva Vision Award for Spain/Latin America Cinema:

Gerardo Herrero’s The Goya Murders

Valhalla Award for Best Nordic Film:

Jesper W. Nielsen’s The Exception (Undtagelsen)

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

Lydia Dean Pilcher’s Liberté: A Call to Spy

Social Justice Award for Documentary Film:

Katherin Hervey’s The Prison Within

One of my favorite films was Gutterbee (open link for a full review) from Danish filmmaker Ulrich Thomsen.

Festival Director Roger Durling had this to say about this year’s edition:

roger-durling-photo-by-clint-weisman-studio-200x300
SBIFF Executive Director Roger Durling

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

SBIFF honorees were well represented at the 92nd Oscar Awards on Sunday, February 8th. Here is a run-down with a few pictures for effect:

Best Picture ~ Parasite – Kwak Sin Ae was on the Producers Panel

Rene
Renee Zellweger (Photo courtesy of SBIFF)

Best Actress ~ Renée Zellweger was honored with the American Riviera Award

Best Director and Best Original Screenplay ~ Bong Joon Ho was honored with the Outstanding Director of the Year Award

Dern
Laura Dern (Photo courtesy of SBIFF)

Best Supporting Actress ~ Laura Dern was honored with the Cinema Vanguard Award

Brad
Brad Pitt (Photo courtesy of SBIFF)

Best Supporting Actor ~ Brad Pitt was honored with the Maltin Modern Master Award

Best Animated Feature ~ Toy Story 4 – Director Josh Cooley joined us for Mike’s FieldTrip to the Movies

Best Production Design ~ Barbara Ling was honored with the Variety Artisans Award

Documentary Feature ~ American Factory – Director Julia Reichert was on the Women’s Panel

Best Makeup and Hairstyling ~ Bombshell – Kazu Hiro was honored with the Variety Artisans Award and Anne Morgan was on the Women’s Panel

Best International Feature Film ~ Parasite was featured as a free screening along with the Bong Joon Ho retrospective

 

Admittedly, I had some fun this year on the red carpet. Here are a few snippets:

Actor Daniel Stern philosophizes on James vs His Future Self.

 

Mayor Cathy graces the Opening Night red carpet!

 

SBIFF35_Mayor Cathy-1
Santa Barbara Mayor, Cathy Murillo, at the 35th Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s  Opening Night red carpet, on January 15, 2020, at the historic Arlington Theatre in downtown Santa Barbara, Calif. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

What is a Gutterbee? Ulrich Thomsen lets it fly…and it’s quite a ride!

 

A lovely cast and director – The Marijuana Conspiracy.

 

 

Yes, it’s a real falcon looking for prey! Yikes!!!

 

 

The closing night program featured Santa Barbara short documentaries spotlighting locals places and peeps including the Carrizo Plain and a parking garage guitar player! Only in Santa Barbara will you see such a diverse and dazzling display of art and talent.

Next year’s dates have been announced: The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), presented by UGG®, will return for the 36th edition January 27th – February 6th, 2021. Mark your calendars!

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

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About the Santa Barbara International Film Festival

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

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

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

 

Sundance 2020 Wrap-up: So many films, so little time

Posted by Larry Gleeson

robert redford
Robert Redford, Former President of the Sundance Institue, announced he was stepping down as the face of the festival in 2019 so he could spend more time with filmmakers and their films at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Press Conference. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

The 2020 Sundance Film Festival started off most curiously….again. Last year in a highly dramatic moment, the face of the festival Robert Redford made an entrance with a deafening silence to announce, “I think it’s time for me to be going.” I sat in a semi-state of bodily paralysis as my mind searched for an answer to his opening words. Whew! Thank heavens I didn’t have to wait long for an answer as Redford continued speaking explaining he wanted to spend more time with the films and the filmmakers. This year, his letter (1_SFF 2020 Robert Redford Letter-1) says much of what he communicated intentionally last year on that fateful day.

This year I was ready for anything….except a virtual press conference with a content-rich digital Day One Press Kit, including video remarks from executive leadership as well as details about the Festival and the Institute’s global year-round work. Watch Keri Putnam, John Cooper, and Kim Yutani explain the importance of freedom of speech, the freedom of expression, the metaphysical principle of change, and the driving force behind programming and curating a film festival from more than 15,000 submissions. You’ll be glad you did!

That evening, Sundance Institute’s annual fundraising event An Artist at the Table Presented by IMDb Pro began with the premiere of Crip Camp, winner of the Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura and was followed by a celebratory dinner during which the Institute honored Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, with the Vanguard Award for Philanthropy. Proceeds from the evening went to advancing Sundance Institute’s mission and programs that discover, support and amplify risk-taking and exciting independent film, media and theatre artists. And, as luck would have it, I quickly ran into several of my cohorts from the Telluride Film Festival. One of which, I would have the distinct pleasure of conducting a sit-down interview. Sam Doerge, the Telluride Art Director, was handling duties at the New Frontiers Center Festival Installation Coordinator. More on that later!

Sam Goerge_Sundance2020-1
New Frontiers Center Festival Coordinator, Sam Doerge. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

Taylor Swift

The film I was most excited to see – Taylor Swift: Miss Americana, a documentary directed by Lana Wilson was making its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in the late slot. Admittedly, in tears after seeing Swift perform “Better Man,” in Brian Loschiavo’s extraordinary documentary, Bluebird, at the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival, I was not disappointed! No tears. Just an overwhelming sense of awe-inspiring respect.

CLIMB-1
The Climb

Friday morning brought a wonderful opportunity to catch The Climb, winner of the Coup de Coeur prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, at a Press & Industry screening at the Holiday Village Theatre. Traversing the ups and downs of life, the film “utilizes ingeniously self-aware dialogue” to capture the chaos of fractured friendships and its accompanying family life. Highly recommended!

Friday,  January 24th, ushered in the opening of numerous venues on Old Town Main Street. The 2020 Sundance ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers) Music Café launched with a special introduction by Peter Golub, Director of the Sundance Film Music Program. The Music Café was standing room only throughout the weekend.

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Matt Berninger and his band with a view of the room – Photo by Fred Hayes
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Ron Artis II and band on the Café stage – Photo by Fred Hayes
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The Easterseals Disability Services hosted a panel on the influence of diversity and inclusion initiatives in Hollywood during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival at the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah, February 25, 2020. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

On Saturday, Easterseals Disability Services hosted a panel on the influence of diversity and inclusion initiatives in Hollywood in increasing the visibility of/opportunities for talent with disabilities in the entertainment industry. An underreported phenomenon is seemingly occurring in the film and television industries. Included below is the taped panel in its entirety. It’s inspiring and insightful!

ESSC Diversity Panel - Sundance 2020 #2

Standing behind Nick Novicki (front), ESSC board member and founder of the Easterseals Film Challenge, are L-R: Angela Williams, CEO, National Easterseals; Franklin Leonard, Founder and CEO, The Black List; Mark Whitley, CEO, ESSC; panel moderator Britt Stephens, Celebrity & Entertainment Editor, Pop SugarShoshannah Stern, Creator, Executive Producer, Writer and Star of Sundance TV’s This Close; Shanique Bonelli-Moore, Executive Director of Inclusion, United Talent Agency; John Travis, VP of Brand Marketing, Adobe; and Nancy Weintraub, Chief Development Officer, ESSC. (Photo courtesy of Vicki Greenleaf)

 

Panel moderator, Britt Stephens, Celebrity & Entertainment Editor, Pop Sugar, participates in the Easterseals Disability Services panel on the influence of diversity and inclusion initiatives in Hollywood during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival at the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah, February 25, 2020. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)
John Travis, VP of Brand Marketing, Adobe, participates in the Easterseals Disability Services panel on the influence of diversity and inclusion initiatives in Hollywood during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival at the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah, February 25, 2020. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

On Saturday, Easterseals Disability Services hosted a panel on the influence of diversity and inclusion initiatives in Hollywood in increasing the visibility of/opportunities for talent with disabilities in the entertainment industry. An underreported phenomenon is seemingly occurring in the film and television industries. Included below is the taped panel in its entirety. It’s inspiring and insightful!

Has Recent Industry Emphasis on Diversity & Inclusion Influenced the Way We Tell Stories?

 

In addition, Brand Storytelling at Sundance Film Festival wrapped it’s fifth annual “festival within a festival.” Over 250 attendees were present at the invite-only, sold-out event for keynote chats, panel presentations, film premiers, and screenings, live musical performances while bringing in major brands, media and production companies, talent, advertising, and PR agencies.

Ariel Tweto, star of _Into America's Wild_
Ariel Tweto, star of Into America’s Wild, speaks at Brand Storytelling at Sundancer Film Festival (Photo courtesy of Prana PR)

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Presented Feature Film Prize to Tesla. Michael Almereyda’s Tesla was formally presented with a $20,000 check for winning the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize. The awards were presented at an afternoon cocktail reception at High West Distillery. These activities are part of the Sundance Institute Science-In-Film Initiative, which is made possible by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize Reception
Actor Ethan Hawke, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize Winner Michael Almereyda and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Vice President and Program Director Doron Weber attend the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize Reception at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. © 2020 Sundance Institute | photo by Jovelle Tamayo.

The World Premiere of Horse Girl from writer/director Jeff Baena took audiences by surprise with a sizzling performance from Alison Brie. An official selection of the Premieres program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, Horse Girl was executively produced by the Duplass Brothers, Jay and Mark. Stay tuned for a full, unadulterated review

Horse Girl - Press Line
Actor Alison Brie attends the World Premiere of Horse Girl by Jeff Baena, an official selection of the Premieres program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. © 2020 Sundance Institute | photo by Lauren Wester.

Talent Forum convened for three days, January 28-30th during the festival bringing together a robust slate of artists with projects across all platforms and at varied and pivotal stages from development through completion.

Anne Lai
Anne Lai

“We’re thrilled to [have} welcome(d) an extraordinary collection of artists from 22 countries who bring remarkable voices and work to connect with industry, advocates, and each other as they move their work and careers forward,” noted Anne Lai, Sundance Institute’s Director of Creative Producing & Artist Support.

SFF20 Talent Forum Projects & Fellows

The Movie That Blew My Mind kicked off the 2020 Talent Forum panel at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. An Offscreen event the panel featured hosts John Cooper (Director, Sundance Film Festival) and Tabitha Jackson (Director, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program) with Tessa Thompson, Tom McCarthy, and other special guests, each of whom selected a cinema moment that was inspiring or formative (in their life or in shaping their creative sensibility).

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

An unexpected treat happened with the French episodic Laetitia. Acting on a suggestion from Antoine Maron, an Art Director in the French film industry, I squeezed into the Academy Award-winning Jean-Xavier de Lestrade screening and stayed for the Q & A with de Lestrade. His extraordinary attention to detail propels a powerful story based on an historically documented criminal case. This 2002 Academy-award winner for Best Documentary is worth listening to and has a captivating presence. Please see the 2020 Sundance Film Festival’s Meet the Artist video and stay tuned for a capsule review of the evening.

Jean-Xavier Sundance
Academy Award-winning French filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival following a screening of his Indie Episodic, Laetitia, in Park City, Utah, Tuesday, January 28, 2019. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)
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Academy Award-winning French filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival following a screening of his episodic, Laetitia, in Park City, Utah, Tuesday, January 28, 2019. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)
Jean-Xavier de
Academy Award-winning French filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival following a screening of his Indie Episodic, Laetitia, in Park City, Utah, Tuesday, January 28, 2019. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

Other favorites were Okavango: River of Dreams, Kajillionaire. Max Richter’s Sleep, Ironbark, Dissident, Softie, Glorias, Horse Girl, Be Water, On the Record, The Father, Sylvie’s Love, and Mucho, Mucho, Amor. Check back regularly as these films, all of which are worthy of review, will soon be making their way up the “films to be reviewed” list and hopefully be available for viewing.

Without further adieu, the Festival wrapped up with the Awards Night Ceremony & Party on February 1, 2020, and with previously announced jurors awarding prizes to films in the U.S. Dramatic, U.S. Documentary, World Cinema Dramatic, World Cinema Documentary, and NEXT categories. 2020 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS

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

*Featured photo: A still from Breathe by Diego Galafassi, an official selection of the New Frontier Exhibitions program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

2020 Sundance Spotlight: Sam Doerge

Posted by Larry Gleeson

First-year New Frontiers Center Festival Coordinator, Sam Doerge, is making the most out of her 2020 Sundance Film Festival experience.

Sam Goerge_Sundance2020-1
New Frontiers Center Festival Coordinator, Sam Doerge. (Photo by Larry Gleeson)

First-year New Frontiers Center Festival Coordinator, Sam Doerge, is making the most out of her 2020 Sundance Film Festival experience. Doerge has a background in art having majored in Visual and Critical Research with a minor in Sculpture at the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition, Doerge is the Programming Coordinator for Denver Film and is the Art Director for the Telluride Film Festival.

While working as the Telluride Art Director, Doerge came in contact with Spheres, a three-part virtual reality series written and directed by Eliza McNitt, produced by Jess Engle, and executively produced by Darren Aronofsky. Spheres made a huge splash at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival as it sold for a seven-figure sum. Producer Jess Engle is attending this year’s festival as a producer for the augmented reality installation, Breathe.

Having dreamt about Immersive Storytelling and voraciously reading about installation management, Doerge seemed to be in the right place at the right time to explore the exponentially growing field of virtual reality/augmented reality. Always an admirer of the New Frontier at Sundance from afar, Doerge seized the opportunity to apply for an opening this year as the Interim Manager of the New Frontiers Lab. Due to her Telluride Art Director commitment, however, Doerge could not accept the Interim Manager position and was consequently offered the New Frontiers Center Festival Coordinator contract.

With the enormously talented artists, including Diego Galafassi (Breathe), and their assistants, Doerge coordinated a process whereby the Sundance personnel could augment and amplify the immersive virtual/augmented reality experience. Working closely with her manager Boji Wong, a mother of three who singly managed the New Frontiers Center last year, the duo trained staff, volunteers, and docents to facilitate a smoothly operating, cutting-edge installation for the artists and patrons alike. Doerge believes the 12 hour working days (the new Frontiers Center’s first day wound up being longer, 7:30AM – 2:30AM, concluding at the end of the artists’ Opening Night party) have offered a wonderful opportunity to learn from highly professional and highly respective peers.

What also is working for Doerge as the New Frontiers Center Festival Coordinator at Sundance is the overall working environment, the strong sense of community inside New Frontiers, and the opportunity to learn. And, as anyone who has ever been in the fray of a battle knows – planning helps! Nevertheless, “being in the moment making decisions that balance and manage expectations of all parties involved have been the keys to a smoothly operating New Frontiers Center,” according to Doerge. And, as the environment is in a constant state of change, each day and, in reality, each moment, has its unique characteristics requiring a moment-to-moment response.

With several fully-realized sculpture creations to her credit, Doerge understands how to bring a vision to fruition and had sincere appreciation watching the New Frontiers Center come to life. Moreover, Doerge’s New Frontier Center experience has brought her into contact with seasoned professionals possessing high skill sets such as Jamie McMurry, New Frontiers Production Designer, and Shari Frilot, Chief Curator. “Shari Frilot has impeccable taste. The best I’ve ever seen,” said Doerge.

The New Frontiers Center is in its second year of operation. Thus far this year, the women docents have provided unswerving support in ensuring the artist’s needs are being met with VIP’s, industry professionals, and festivalgoers all clamoring for a chance to experience the exhilarating displays. Furthermore, the installation seems to be operating smoothly as two previews on Saturday for the publicists and the press and industry professionals were conducted successfully.

With the three weeks of coordinating Immersive Experience under her belt, Doerge plans to return to her Denver Film post and Telluride Art Director position with a fresh perspective and looks forward to the challenges ahead – including the 2021 Sundance Film Festival with run dates from Thursday, January 21st, through Sunday, January 31st, 2021.

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

 

*Featured photo: A still from Breathe by Diego Galafassi, an official selection of the New Frontier Exhibitions program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

 

Festival Favorite Award From 2020 Sundance Film Festival Announced

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Giving Voice Wins Audience Vote

Giving Voice
A still from Giving Voice by James D. Stern and Fernando Villena, an official selection of the Documentary Premieres program at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Jonathon Narducci.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                             February 4, 2020

Park City, UTSundance Institute announced Giving Voice as the winner of the Festival Favorite Award, selected by audience votes from the 128 features screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, which took place in Park City, Salt Lake City, and Sundance, Utah, from January 23–February 2, 2020.

The Festival Favorite Award is the 29th and final recognition bestowed on this year’s features, including juried prizes and category-specific Audience Awards; others were announced at a ceremony in Park City on February 1, and a full list is available here. Runners-up and close contenders for the Festival Favorite Award – besides the Audience Awards per category given out on Saturday, titles that also ranked high with festivalgoers include Boys State, On The Record, Binti, Crip Camp, The Fight, The Reason I Jump, Softie, Uncle Frank, and Welcome to Chechnya.

Giving Voice, directed by James D. Stern and Fernando Villena, follows the lives of six students as they compete against fellow high schoolers from around the country in the riveting, high-stakes August Wilson Monologue Competition in New York City. As they hone their individual performances, Wilson’s singular talent and artistry empower them to find their own voice and persevere in an increasingly complicated world. The film was produced by James D. Stern, Karen Bove, Fernando Villena, Schoen Smith, and Craig Piligian.

 

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John Cooper

“This film is a compelling and inspiring portrait of six remarkable young people as they discover their power,” said John Cooper, Director, Sundance Film Festival. “We’re thrilled that it resonated with audiences at this particularly exciting moment in our culture, where we see the next generation of leaders, artists, and change-makers stepping out, speaking up, and finding their voice.”

Runners up for the Festival Favorite, as ballots were counted, include:

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

On The Record / U.S.A. (Directors: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, Screenwriters: Kirby Dick, Amy Ziering, Sara Newens, Producers: Amy Ziering, Kirby Dick, Amy Herdy, Jamie Rogers) — A brilliant former hip hop executive grapples with whether to go public about her rape by one of the most powerful men in the music industry. A gripping and profound examination of race, gender, intersectionality, and the toll sexual abuse takes on survivors and on society at large.

Other close contenders for the Festival Favorite were:

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

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Crip Camp photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

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

The Fight / U.S.A. (Directors: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres, Producers: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres, Maya Seidler, Peggy Drexler, Kerry Washington) — Inside the ACLU, a team of scrappy lawyers battle Trump’s historic assault on civil liberties. As the president separates families, blocks abortion access, expels transgender soldiers, and rolls back voting rights, these gutsy attorneys struggle to stop an unpredictable adversary with unlimited resources.

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

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

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

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

The 2021 Sundance Film Festival will run from Thursday, January 21–Sunday, January 31, 2021.

The Sundance Film Festival

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

Sundance Institute

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

Sundance 2020

(Source: Sundance media press release)

 

 

SHERILYN FENN, ALAN POWELL, NICHOLAS, TURTURRO AND CATHY MORIARTY FILM “SHOOTING HEROIN” OPENS IN LIMITED RELEASE APRIL 3

Posted by Larry Gleeson

Opioid Drama to Open in More Than Two Dozen Cities

Los Angeles, CA, February 3, 2020SHOOTING HEROIN, the first narrative feature film on the current opioid epidemic in America, is set to release nationally on Friday, April 3. The film tells the story of a small-town community that comes together to fight back against the spread of drugs “by any means necessary”—a story of a group of vigilante townsfolk who take justice into their own hands to fight for the heart of America, and save the next generation from overdosing and dying.

The film features Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks), Alan Powell (Quantico), Garry Pastore (HBO’s The Deuce), Nicholas Turturro (SVU), Cathy Moriarty (RAGING BULL), and Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs (Cooley High), among others. The film most recently won the Best Film, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (Pastore) at the Hell’s Kitchen Film Festival in New York City in October. SHOOTING HEROIN is being distributed theatrically by Veritas Films, and digitally on VOD/SVOD by Stone Cutter Media.

SHOOTING HEROIN release cities beginning April 3 include but are not limited to: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York City, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, Washington DC, Eugene, OR, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Colorado Springs, Denver, Detroit, Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta, Phoenix, Minnesota, Newark, Buffalo, Clearfield, State College, Phillipsburg, and more too be announced.

The film is written and directed by Hard Faith founder Spencer T. Folmar (GENERATIONAL SINS). Since Folmar’s last film premiered nationally, he has pursued new ventures in distributing independent films, including WARNING SHOT, starring David Spade, Bruce Dern, and James Earl Jones, and creating a partnership with his own Veritas Theatres chain in major cities.

His first movie theatre was in the Pittsburgh, PA region called the Guthrie Theatre (a 600 seat, the single-screen historic theatre now featuring live entertainment and community theatre with a new Cinema Grille steakhouse in connection with the screening venue). He has also acquired two theatres in the Dallas region and is looking to purchase and build theatres in Orlando, Chicago, New York City, and Los Angeles by the end of 2020.

Folmar said, “I’m motivated by the lack of reputable and compelling options for independent filmmakers to have a proper theatrical distribution with a distribution partner. It’s akin to that old Remington ad when the chairman said he wanted a good shave so he bought the company.” Folmar is building his own theatre chain to give transparency and integrity for indie filmmakers to enjoy their films on the big screen across the country.

SHOOTING HEROIN is set to premiere theatrically in x cities and y screens starting April 3, followed by a release on all major digital platforms, VOD and SVOD.  Folmar concludes, “With a strong cast and a compelling story ripped from daily headlines, we hope SHOOTING HEROIN will shed light on and give hope to those millions affected by our nation’s exploding opioid crisis.”

Shooting heroin release

SHOOTING HEROIN (Drama): Theatrical Release Date: Thursday, April 3, 2020

Starring: Sherilyn Fenn; Alan Powell; Garry Pastore; Nicholas Turturro; Cathy Moriarty; and Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs

Producers: Spencer T. Folmar, p.g.a., Mark Joseph

Director: Spencer T. Folmar

Writer: Spencer T. Folmar

Cinematographer: John Honoré

Composer: Mike Newport

Running Time: 90 minutes

Rating: R

 

 

 

Surf Nite in SLO to Feature the Biggest Year for Big Wave Surfing at the Historic Fremont Theatre

Posted by Larry Gleeson

San Luis Obispo, CA (January 29, 2020) – The San Luis Obispo International Film
SLOFF_2020Festival (SLO Film Fest) presented by Hotel San Luis Obispo is delighted to announce its Surf Nite picks for 2020. Brent Storm’s award-winning WHITE RHINO will be the focus the festival’s most popular event, on Friday, March 20, with big wave surfer Dave Wassel traveling from Hawaii for the event. Surf photographer Brian Bielmann, director Brent Storm and producer Randy Olson will also be in attendance. Surf Nite will open with Santa Barbara filmmaker Heather Hudson’s new short documentary that about female surfing pioneer, Marge Calhoun. 93 – LETTERS TO MARGE will be introduced by her friend and surf legend, Linda Benson.

Surf Nite in SLO is presented by Surfing for Hope Foundation and the City of Pismo Beach. Surfing for Hope is a local non-profit organization created to help inspire people challenged by cancer through the positive energy of surfing. The event is also sponsored by Cliffs Hotel and Spa, Sea Venture, Sycamore Mineral Spring Resort, Coast 104.5, and Quality Suites San Luis Obispo.

Canadian Filmmaker Brent Storm’s latest release, WHITE RHINO, is a parallel story from the surfers and photographers who witnessed three historic swells that hit the shorelines of the South Pacific in 2011-2012. Photographer Brian Bielmann takes the audience on an edge of your seat adventure as we discover the stories behind some of his most iconic photos and what really transpired on those memorable days. WHITE RHINO features notable big wave riders Nathan Fletcher, Dave Wassel, Bruce Irons, Mark Healey, Kohl Christensen and Kalani Chapman. It also features cinematography from some of the best surf filmmakers, including SLO Film Fest Surf Nite alum, Tim Bonython (The Big Wave Project).

In 93: LETTERS TO MARGE, Heather Hudson pays tribute to surfing pioneer Marge Calhoun, sharing memories from handwritten letters to a friend before her death in 2017 at the age of 93 in Morro Bay, CA. Chronicling an independent life that most people know little about, Marge won contests, shared waves and held her own with many of the sport’s legends in the early days of surfing. She won the 1958 Makaha International Championships and continued to travel, surf and compete. She judged, organized competitors on the beach and worked closely with Hoppy Swartz and others to form the U.S. Surfing Association. Later, she moved to Morro Bay and loved watching the waves from her home in the hills above the ocean.

Surf Nite Special Guests:

Fearless, fit and funny are some of the adjectives that have been used to describe Dave Wassel, the Hawaiian-born North Shore lifeguard who is also featured in WHITE RHINO. He’s well known for braving huge surf as a surfer and lifeguard, going well beyond his duty to save lives in treacherous waters. He has a passion for the history andculture of Hawaii and is now the ambassador of Sustainable Surf, a California-based non-profit that protects and restores ocean health by shifting people to a highly desirable, low carbon, “Deep Blue” lifestyle.

As an internationally renowned photographer, Brian Bielmann has traveled extensively with many of the world’s best surfers. With his images gracing more than 150 magazine covers, the pages of 30 books and appearing in iconic magazines like Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal, National Geographic and Sports Illustrated, he is recognized worldwide to be a photographer at the very top of his field. He captures the entire surf lifestyle and continues to push the boundaries of photography both above and below the water. Brian’s passion for surfing and his love of photography have kept him on the cutting edge for over 35 years. He has won numerous awards and his client list includes major corporations. He is also an captivating public speaker.

Dividing his life between Canada and the United States, Brent Storm has a passion for surfing that began in his mid-20’s in San Francisco after a snowboarding injury in Mammoth. He discovered a way to blend his new passion with an old one – filmmaking, and after finally giving up on making wedding videos in Toronto, he decided to move to the North Shore and focus on surfing. WHITE RHINO began to take shape after he met Brian Bielmann and Randy Olson in 2016, and he discovered an amazing story in the three major swells Bielmann had captured on film in just one surf season.

Randy Olson began a career as a professor of marine biology at the University of New Hampshire, but during his first year as a professor he realized that he had grown more interested in telling stories about science and was drawn to the world of filmmaking. Despite his Harvard Ph.D., four years of post-doctoral research in Australia and Florida, and years of diving around the world from the Great Barrier Reef to Antarctica, he resigned from his tenured professorship and moved to Hollywood to explore film as a medium for communicating science. Now an independent filmmaker he is ‘fluent’ in the two languages of science and cinema. He has written and directed his own films about major issues in science, and has worked with clients to assist them with the use of visual media in communicating science to the general public.

Linda Benson started surfing at age eleven and at age fifteen was the first woman to surf the legendary big waves at Waimea Bay in Hawaii. Linda made her competitive debut in the 1959, winning the West Coast Surfing Championship and the Makaha International contest in Hawaii a few weeks later (a year after Marge Calhoun had won.) Linda’s other notable contest wins include the United States Invitational in 1964, the West Coast Championship in both 1960 and 1961, and the United States Championship in both 1964 and 1968. Moreover, Benson not only was a runner-up in the 1964 World Championship and was the top female vote-getter in a 1965 reader’s poll for Surfing Illustrated magazine, but also was the first female surfer to be featured on the cover of a 1963 issue of Surf Guide. She was inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame in 1997. This will be her third visit to the SLO Film Fest’s Surf Nite.

Heather Hudson is also not a stranger to the SLO Film Fest. Her short films, THE WOMEN AND THE WAVES, and its sequel screened at the Festival in 2009 and 2016. An avid surfer, filmmaker and mother, Heather has been sharing her love for surfing on the big screen since 2007 when she started her production company Graciegirl LLC. For over 18 years, Heather has supported and volunteered for Heal the Ocean, a Santa-Barbara-based non-profit citizen’s action group committed to ending ocean pollution. She is currently on the board and coordinates fundraising.

EVENT DETAILS:
SURF NITE IN SLO – Presented by Surfing for Hope and City of Pismo Beach
Friday, March 20 – 7:00pm
Fremont Theatre, 1025 Monterey St. SLO

Tickets: $20 General / $15 Students & SLO Film Society (Mogul passes accepted)

Online: slofilmfest.org (limited tickets available pre-show)
In Person: Festival HQ (opens Feb. 15 – check website for hours)
South East corner of Hotel SLO, entrance on Morro St. (between Palm & Monterey)
Day of Show: Fremont Theatre Box Office – tickets will be sold first-come, first-served
beginning at 6:30pm
Phone: 805-546-3456

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(Source: SLO Film Fest News Release)