La Biennale di Venezia will pay a Special Tribute to U.S. producer Chris Meledandri, the Academy Award®-nominated founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development of the field of animated films.
Meledandri will be presented on Monday, September 5th 2016, at 3 pm, at the Sala Giardino in the Lido, during the 73rd Venice International Film Festival. In addition to receiving this prestigious tribute, Meledandri will participate in an exclusive festival “In Conversation” event, culminating in a presentation of footage from the forthcoming Illumination Entertainment movie SING (2017).
Here’s a peak at the film’s Official Trailer:
The tribute will begin with the Italian Public Premiere of Illumination Entertainment’s THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (2016) at the Sala Giardino on September 4th at 9:00 pm.
Here’s a look at the film’s Official Teaser Trailer:
THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS opens in theaters in Italy on October 6, 2016.
Festival Director Alberto Barbera comments:
“Chris Meledandri has revolutionized our way of understanding and making animated film with his more than excellent achievements, both in terms of quality and box office, thanks to careful and skilfully-targeted investments. Under his leadership, Illumination Entertainment has grown into one of the most dynamic and innovative creative hubs in the world of animation in a matter of years. This tribute from the Festival wishes to spotlight the artist’s extraordinary contribution, leading to worldwide hits such as Despicable Me and Minions, both of which changed our relationship with cartoons forever”.
Chris Meledandri, the Academy Award®-nominated founder and CEO of Illumination Entertainment, is responsible for the hugely successful Despicable Me, Ice Age and animated Dr. Seuss franchises, which have collectively grossed close to $6 billion worldwide. Meledandri has built Illumination Entertainment into one of the entertainment industry’s leading producers of all-audience event films.
Illumination Entertainment, which has an exclusive financing and distribution partnership with Universal Pictures, is the creator of the hugely successful Despicable Me franchise, which includes Minions, the second-highest-grossing animated film of all time, as well as the Academy Award®-nominated film for Best Animated Feature Film Despicable Me 2. In all, Illumination Entertainment’s films, which also include Hop (2011) and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (2012), have grossed more than $3.5 billion in worldwide box-office revenues and feature some of the world’s most renowned talent.
Upcoming Illumination Entertainment films include Sing (2016), Despicable Me 3 (2017) and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2018).
Meledandri also oversees Illumination Entertainment’s creation of content for marketing campaigns, mobile platforms, consumer goods, social media and theme parks such as Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem in 3D at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, ensuring the same high level of quality he brings to his feature productions. The company’s first mobile game, “Despicable Me: Minion Rush,” has been downloaded more than 750 million times.
Prior to Illumination Entertainment, Meledandri was a senior executive at 20th Century Fox. He became the founding president of 20th Century Fox Animation, where he created original material with the birth of the Ice Age franchise and also shepherded existing brands into the feature space, including The Simpsons and the Dr. Seuss library (Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!).
Meledandri has received numerous awards for his work with Illumination Entertainment including the Producers Guild of America’s 2014 Visionary Award as well as being named to Vanity Fair’s “New Establishment” list and by The Hollywood Reporter as one of the “most powerful people in entertainment” on The THR 100 list.
THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS– For their fifth fully-animated feature-film collaboration, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures present The Secret Life of Pets, a comedy about the lives our pets lead after we leave for work or school each day. The Secret Life of Pets opens in theaters October 6th 2016.
SING – Set in a world like ours but entirely inhabited by animals, a dapper Koala who presides over a once-grand theater that has fallen on hard times. Buster is an eternal optimist—okay, maybe a bit of a scoundrel—who loves his theater above all and will do anything to preserve it. Now facing the crumbling of his life’s ambition, he has one final chance to restore his fading jewel to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition. In theaters January 26th 2017.
Coming this Fall, the 41st Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival from October 29 through November 6 – nine days bursting with stories of profound journeys, unexpected adventures and ground breaking expeditions told by renowned authors, photographers, adventurers and filmmakers from around the globe. The schedule will be announced and tickets on sale Wed, August 3 at 12 p.m.
2016 Film Competition is now open! Enter your film into the Banff Mountain Film Competition and bring the magic of mountain places and cultures, and the adrenaline of exploration and adventure to an appreciative, international audience.
The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival features a number of different competitions which garner hundreds of entries from around the world, each and every year. Genres include filmmaking, writing, photography, and others.
At AFI DOCS, I caught up with Judd Apatow, co-director of the new documentary Doc & Darryl before its world premiere. This was one of my must-see films. And, as usual with any film festival, my best efforts led me to an opportunity to cover the closing night film and after party for Music Box Films’ NORMAN LEAR: JUST ANOTHER VERSION OF YOU, directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. I heard Mr. Apatow was in the house minutes before the screening of Doc & Darryl was slated to begin. Knowing I only had 45 minutes to view his film and wouldn’t have the opportunity to attend the Q & A scheduled for after the screening. I grabbed my camera and hurried to the red carpet area.
Fortunately, Jacqueline Gross had Mr. Apatow’s attention. I quickly got into place and managed to get off a few shots and as Ms. Gross finished, I stood upright, reached out my hand, introduced myself and posed the question, “Why a sports film?” There we stood eye-to-eye, man-to-man, baseball aficionado to baseball aficionado. As gracious, and probably more gracious than any other industry professional I’ve managed to engage, Mr. Apatow matter of factly responded, “Well, I was on twitter one night with someone from ESPN and I told him how much I liked the 30 for 30 films. His response was ‘why don’t you do one.’ So, I did. And these guys were my heroes growing up.” I thanked Mr. Apatow for his time and made my way back to my seat inside the theater for Doc & Darryl.
While I didn’t see the film in its entirety, what I did see was a above and beyond any other 30 for 30 film I had seen to date – purely from a production standpoint. You be the judge of the narrative!
Doc & Darryl will air July 14 at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN. Watch a trailer for it here: Doc & Darryl
Audrie & Daisy, a new documentary co-directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, takes an in-depth look at the effects of cyber bullying following the aftermath when two teenage girls are sexually assaulted. The girls went to parties, drank alcohol to excess and were then sexually assaulted by boys and young men they believed were their friends. The shame and scorn the girls were subjected to resulted in a suicide of a Saratoga, Georgia high school student, Audrie, who believed her reputation was beyond repair. The culprits in the assault eventually reached a plea agreement so the young men could graduate from high school. The agreement included an admission of guilt and a public apology as well as a 45 minute videotaped interview. In the case of Audrie, a Missouri resident in the small town of Maryville in Nodaway County, all charges were dropped in a highly publicized news reported court judgement.
Cohen and Shenk open the film with a slow pan of empty desks in a classroom as a voice over about the Audrey case begins. A cut is made to a high school football practice with the diagetic sounds of grunting, helmets and pads colliding and thudding with the sounds of whistles chirping. An audio deposition of Jon B., not the perpetrator’s real name, is heard as an image shows the critical information of what is occurring in a black and white frame as the film’s narrative is slowly opening. In a taped 2015 interview, Audrey’s mother and father, Larry and Sheila Pott talk candidly about Audrey while pictures of Audrey range from the time she was a baby up into her high school years. Sheila reminisced how she and Audrey cooked together while they watched the food network together. Audrey’s best friend from the time of middle school, Amanda Le, opened up about their experiences together through adolescence. Le remembers Audrey developed early physically and by high school was well developed. A group of boys from junior high began a Yahoo! group where they shared nude pictures of their classmates. Le stated Audrey received a lot of requests for pictures, however, as Audrey was quite self-conscious she didn’t provide any pictures. Audrey was popular and had many friends. One night at a party Audrey drank too much. In a deposition, her “friend” stated her carried Audrey upstairs and laid her on a bed. Two other young men entered the room and closed the door. With Audrey, unmoving on the bed, the three boys stripped her naked. They took turns sexually assaulting her with their fingers. They painted half her face black and placed indelible lewd comments on her body. Photographs were taken and videos were recorded while Audrey laid defenseless.
Through the use of textual overlays from conversations Audrey initiated with her “friend,” Cohen and Shenk create a sense of real-time. Audrey does not recollect what happened and pleads with her friend and others to tell her what happened. Her “friend” tells her it will blow over in a week. Yet, when Audrey gets to school, she comes to a realization that everyone in school is aware of what happened and the images of her assaulted naked body have made their way online. Shamed and humiliated, Audrey feels her reputation is beyond repair and commits suicide.
Daisy Coleman, a perky blonde-haired, blue-eyed freshman, and new to the small town of Maryville, Missouri also is subjected to shame, humiliation and ridicule following her sexual assault. Daisy and her 8th grade friend who according to an official police investigator looked about eight are invited to a “party.” While at the party held in the basement of one of the three older high school males present, both girls are raped while incapacitated. The following morning Daisy is found on her home’s lawn with her hair frozen to the grass. What unfolds in Daisy’s story is the difficulty is prosecuting an assault without hard evidence. None of the males were over 17. A video was recorded and shared and subsequently deleted without means of retrieval. Consequently, all charges were dropped.
Nevertheless, the maelstrom created by Daisy coming forth had severe repercussions for Daisy on social media. Slowly diminishing in spirit, Daisy began sinking further and further into the rabbit hole when a young woman who had endured and survived a similar sexual assault reached out to Daisy via social media. Delaney Henderson heard about Daisy and used the Facebook chat feature to tell Daisy she understood the feelings and what Daisy was going through. The two young women have started and joined a survivors’ group facilitated by a professional counselor. In a Q & A following the screening, it was revealed Daisy Coleman received an athletic scholarship to Mountain Valley College. Daisy stated with strength and conviction, “I’m done with being mad. I finally wanted to move on. I’m not forgetting the past. I’m forgiving the past.”
Hear Daisy and what the filmmakers have to say the making of Audrie & Daisy:
High in production values complete with traditional interviews, archival news footage, original evidence-gathering investigation-room interviews, panning location shots, photographs as well as masked caricatures of the depositions, Audrie & Daisy, is a must-see documentary.
Filmmakers Will Connect With Industry Professionals and
National Opinion Leaders for a Series of Professional Development Events
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — JUNE 17, 2016, WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the American Film Institute (AFI) announced the AFI DOCS 2016 Filmmaker Forum program and Impact Lab participants. The four-day Filmmaker Forum will take place June 23–26 at the AFI DOCS Festival Hub — located at the District Architecture Center, 421 7th St., NW in Washington, DC — and is open to AFI DOCS Priority and Industry passholders as well as festival filmmakers. Filmmakers and industry professionals will meet for a series of professional development and networking events focused on diversity in documentary filmmaking, new technologies and the expanding world of documentary short filmmaking.
Sponsored by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, days one and two of the Filmmaker Forum will connect attendees with independent producers, leaders in public media and cultural critics as they examine the issues of diversity and equality within the documentary community. Additional Forum highlights include a panel discussion with award-winning filmmakers on the advantages of short-format documentary filmmaking; and a panel discussion on the Virtual Reality revolution featuring VR makers, journalists, academics and industry insiders. The Filmmaker Forum is presented in association with the International Documentary Association and Women Make Movies.
The second edition of the AFI DOCS Impact Lab, produced in partnership with Picture Motion and in collaboration with NBC Universal, will take place June 21–22. The intensive program provides filmmakers with issue-driven films with unique training opportunities in the areas of advocacy, grassroots communication and engagement. After completion of the Lab, participating projects are eligible to apply for the AFI DOCS/NBCUniversal Impact Grants, which support the outreach and social action campaigns of select Lab participants. Other supporters of the Impact Lab include CrossCurrents Foundation and The Fledgling Fund.
Selected from films screening at AFI DOCS 2016, the 10 films participating in the 2016 Impact Lab are ALMOST SUNRISE (DIR Michael Collins, USA), AMERICAN BAGHDAD (DIR Ron Najor, USA), CARE (DIR Deirdre Fishel, USA), CHECK IT (DIRS Toby Oppenheimer, Dana Flor, USA), FAREWELL FERRIS WHEEL (DIRS: Jamie Sisley, Miguel “M.i.G.” Martinez, USA), THE ISLANDS AND THE WHALES (DIRS Mike Day, DENMARK, USA, UK), NEWTOWN (DIR Kim A. Snyder, USA), THE OPPOSITION (DIR Hollie Fifer, AUSTRALIA), RAISING BERTIE (DIR Margaret Byrne, USA) and THEY CALL US MONSTERS (DIR Ben Lear, USA).
“Both the AFI DOCS Filmmaker Forum and Impact Lab provide unique opportunities to convene documentary filmmakers with policymakers and industry professionals in our nation’s capital,” said Michael Lumpkin, Director of AFI DOCS. “Through the Filmmaker Forum’s conversations with experts and the Impact Lab’s advocacy training, we hope to inspire documentarians to leverage the power of nonfiction storytelling and create meaningful change.”
(Michael Lumpkin, AFI DOCS Director)
The 14th edition of AFI DOCS will run June 22–26 in Washington, DC, and Silver Spring, Maryland. For more information about the Impact Lab and Filmmaker Forum, please visit AFI.com/afidocs.
About AFI DOCS
AFI DOCS is the American Film Institute’s annual documentary festival in the Washington, DC area. Presenting the year’s best documentaries, AFI DOCS is the premier festival in the U.S. dedicated to screenings and events that connect audiences, filmmakers and policy leaders in the seat of our nation’s government. The AFI DOCS advisory board includes Ken Burns, Davis Guggenheim, Chris Hegedus, Werner Herzog, Rory Kennedy, Barbara Kopple, Spike Lee, Errol Morris, Stanley Nelson, D A Pennebaker, Agnès Varda and Frederick Wiseman. Now in its 14th year, the festival will be held June 22–26, 2016 in landmark Washington, DC venues and the historic AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, MD. Visit AFI.com/afidocs and connect on twitter.com/afidocs, facebook.com/afidocs and youtube.com/AFI.
About the American Film Institute
AFI is America’s promise to preserve the heritage of the motion picture, to honor the artists and their work and to educate the next generation of storytellers. AFI programs include the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and the AFI Archive, which preserve film heritage for future generations; the AFI Life Achievement Award, the highest honor for a career in film; AFI AWARDS, honoring the most outstanding movies and TV series of the year; AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies television events and movie reference lists, which have introduced and reintroduced classic American movies to millions of film lovers; year-round and special event exhibition through AFI FEST presented by Audi, AFI DOCS and the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center; and educating the next generation of storytellers at the world-renowned AFI Conservatory. For more information about AFI, visit AFI.com or connect with AFI at twitter.com/AmericanFilm, facebook.com/AmericanFilmInstitute, instagram.com/AmericanFilmInstitute and youtube.com/AFI.
The AFI DOCS Interview: THE MAN WHO SAW TOO MUCH Director Trisha Ziff
For more than five decades, photojournalist Enrique Metinides risked his life to photograph tragedy — and the human emotion that accompanies it — in Mexico City. From crime scenes shot in black and white to explosions captured in full color, Metinides’ hauntingly beautiful pictures reveal the drama of disaster in a single frame as captured in THE MAN WHO SAW TOO MUCH.
AFI spoke to director Trisha Ziff ahead of the film’s AFI DOCS premiere. Also, check out the trailer below.
What led you to documentary filmmaking?
I come from a world of photography. My first film was based on an exhibition I curated about the famous photo of Che Guevara. It was a show about one single image and all its incarnations and hybrids. I saw the doc HELVETICA and I thought if you could make a film about a font, you could make a feature doc about a single image, a 60th of a second. I was fortunate enough to encounter amazing people to work with.
Coming from curation, I loved the world of documentary. It’s a different way of storytelling and the collectivity of filmmaking was a huge attraction. I grew up in England and spent my formative years watching Channel 4 docs and working with wonderful documentary filmmakers there. So to make my own film, with the support of Netflix, was a huge challenge and an amazing opportunity. I still curate and love the different ways of working with walls and with the moving image.
What inspired you to tell the story of Enrique Metinides?
I live in Mexico City and at every traffic light, we are confronted with tabloid images of the violence that took place the night before; we can never escape it. The frequency of the images assaulting us daily also makes them, ironically, feel mundane; they paralyze us. This is a film about a photographer who spent his life taking those images. I wanted to explore why we want to look at the image as much as he wants to take the photograph — the layers of looking, the voyeurism, the seduction. For me, it was about diving into a very dark world, understanding the sensationalism and meeting the photographers who do this work today. The film grew out of a seven-year relationship with my protagonist Enrique Metinides, three major exhibitions and a book.
How did you find your subject?
We had been working together for five years before we began to work on the film. I seem to have got into this pattern of a book, then an exhibition, followed by a film. It’s the third project with this model. I like it because each medium impacts and enriches the other . I was invited to curate a show of Enrique’s work at a big photo festival in Arles in the south of France; out of that grew our book, and later came the film. But my films grow from my curatorial work .
What was a particular obstacle you faced while making the film?
I think all of us might say funding! Despite the changes in how people see documentaries today and their popularity, it is still hard to make a film, and even harder to make a doc with a cultural theme. People tend to want Latin American films to address themes of victimhood and poverty, films that fit into a stereotype of sorts. So making a film about photography and a world of photography — which has the complexity of not being considered of cultural value — falls between two stools. The real challenge, however, was to find the contemporary photographers willing to work with me and to have us go out at night with them, documenting what they do. It took time to win their confidence but being at a crime scene with a cadaver is not something I will soon forget.
What do you want audiences to take away from your film?
My main concern in showing this film in the U.S. is: does this film, which addresses the depiction of violence in photography in Mexico, somehow contribute to a Trump-like stereotype of Mexico? Obviously that idea could not be further from my intention. But what I hope in the most modest of ways is that the audience leaves the cinema thinking about their own fragility — that they should check their seat belts are fastened! Understanding your own fragility is also about living each moment to the fullest. So I guess I want the audience to leave the theater recognizing how fragile it all is. It’s a theme that goes beyond the Mexican content; it applies to all of us.
Why is Washington, DC, a valuable location to screen your film?
DC has an extraordinary mix of people. It is a Mecca for people from all over the world. It also has a significant Mexican and Latin American population today. It’s a city with a strong photographic tradition thanks to the Corcoran and a museum dedicated to media, which is also a dominant theme in my film.
I think DC is an important Mecca for documentary; it is a city embroiled with sensationalism, with gossip, with drama about news. The news in my film may be different, but the culture of sensationalism is a different version of the same.
What documentary films or documentarians have been the most influential to you?
I have two favorite documentary filmmakers: Agnès Varda and Patricio Guzman. They both take documentary filmmaking to a lyrical place and yet through their storytelling, we confront important issues and narratives. They are so different but they both understand the media of cinema, which has always inspired me. I work and make films in Mexico and today the strength of young women documentary filmmakers is especially inspiring. Maya Goded, Viviana Garcia Besne, Maria José Cuevas and Tatiana Hueso all challenge the boundaries of documentary. They are an amazing energy in Mexican contemporary filmmaking.
THE MAN WHO SAW TOO MUCH plays AFI DOCS on Thursday, June 23, at 9:00 p.m., and Friday, June 24, at 2:00 p.m. Buy tickets here.
On December 14, 2012, a 20-year-old gunman forced his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and murdered 20 schoolchildren and six educators. In the aftermath of the killings, filmmaker Kim Snyder traveled to Newtown and trained her lens on a grieving community, following several families who came face to face with tragedy. NEWTOWN reveals both the indelible scars gun violence leaves behind and the resilience of people who come together to heal.
AFI spoke to director Snyder ahead of the film’s AFI DOCS premiere.
What led you to documentary filmmaking?
I was working on the production side of narrative filmmaking when a turn in my personal life compelled me to direct my first documentary. I have been doing it ever since.
What inspired you to tell this story?
I was drawn to the profound effects of collective trauma and the need for many people in Newtown to be heard on their own terms in an effort to make meaning out of the unthinkable. I wanted to pierce through a growing desensitization to these escalating incidents of mass gun violence through creating an emotional experience that humanizes the issue in a universal way.
How did your subjects?
It was like peeling an onion. In that first year, I did not feel comfortable penetrating the privacy of those most affected. My first connections were with the Interfaith community, which informed an intimacy and framing that was at once philosophic, existential and spiritual to some extent; it lent a holistic approach to a community wrestling with the darkest of journeys. Friar Bob, the priest who buried eight of the 20 children, was among those severely affected in terms of trauma. As I organically developed relationships with others through careful trust building, I began to develop a story of a town through a number of prisms, including that of parents of loss, educators, first responders, neighbors, youth — faces that render a portrait of any town and one that would redefine what it means to be a victim, while exploring the profound effects of survivor guilt and the resilience required to repair the social fabric of the entire community in the wake of the tragedy.
What was a particular obstacle you faced while making the film?
I faced a profound sense of responsibility in not wanting the process of the film to add to the ongoing trauma of those who participated, and in keeping my own psychological and emotion reactions to the material in check.
What do you want audiences to walk away with?
I want them to take away a profoundly emotional but rewarding journey to experience in their own community. I want them to experience perspective, anger and uplift from a community that offers profound truth and life perspective. Most importantly, I want them to leave with the conviction to participate in effecting change.
Why is Washington, DC, a valuable location to screen your film?
It is perhaps the most essential place for us to screen. Presenting an intimate exploration of the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting of schoolchildren in American history in the seat of government and policymaking will be extremely powerful. We hope to maximize this potential.
Inspiring New Documentary Almost Sunrise and Its Immersive Impact Campaign
Demonstrates the Power of Meditation & Nature in Healing “Moral Injury” from War
DC Premiere at AFI Docs:
Thursday, June 23 at 4:00 p.m. at Landmark E Street Cinema (Theatre 1)
Friday, June 24 at 6:45 p.m. at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center (Theatre 3)
From the Emmy-Nominated Filmmakers of Give Up Tomorrow
Once in a while, a film comes along that breaks from the genre. War documentaries are usually somber pieces that explore the darkness of battle but few, if any, venture past the shadows. But a unique new film takes a rare, uplifting look at the life of veterans beyond their demons.
It’s a staggering statistic: 22 U.S. veterans take their own lives every day, which means, we lose more soldiers to suicide than to combat. Despite millions of dollars spent on the mental health of veterans, the crisis rages unabated. Almost Sunrise, a new feature documentary by the award-winning filmmaking team behind Give Up Tomorrow (a 2013 News & Documentary Emmy nominee) Michael Collins (director) and Marty Syjuco (producer), is a timely and groundbreaking look at what could be a missing piece of the puzzle—the true nature of the psychological wounds of returning soldiers known as “moral injury” and the undeniable potential power of meditation and nature therapy in helping veterans to reclaim their lives.
Almost Sunrise will make its World Premiere on Memorial Day weekend at the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival with one of the opening night slots on May 27 at the 650-seat Palm Theater, followed by screenings on May 29 and 30. The film will next make its East Coast Premiere at the prestigious Human Rights Watch Film Festival New York, June 11 and 13. It is also an official selection of the distinguished AFI Docs in Washington, DC, screening June 23 and 24. Along with its film festival premieres, Almost Sunrise launches an immersive two-year impact campaign.
“Our vision for the campaign is to walk with veterans on a path towards healing,” says Syjuco. “Our goals are three-fold: 1. Changing the Narrative; 2. Promoting Wellness; 3. Supporting Legislation (Veteran Wellness Act H.R. 2555).”
Almost Sunrise tells the inspiring story of two Iraq veterans, Tom Voss and Anthony Anderson, who, in an attempt to put their haunting combat experience behind, embark on an extraordinary 2,700 mile trek on foot across America. While the physical trek across snowy mountains and vast deserts is punishing, the inner journey proves to be, by far, the most dangerous mission they will ever undertake. Like many of their fellow returned servicemen and women, Tom and Anthony are tackling post traumatic stress, or PTS, but the pair are simultaneously dealing with an unseen battle scar called “moral injury”—often manifested as an extreme brand of guilt and shame that arises when one goes against one’s own moral code. While PTS, characterized by fear, can be treated with drugs, therapists are finding that no amount of medication can treat the pain that comes from carrying a moral burden. Almost Sunrise is the first feature documentary film to introduce the emerging term “moral injury,” what some experts believe may eventually be recognized as the signature war wound of our generation.
While the film exposes some of the brutality of war, it does not dwell there. “It’s ultimately a story of hope and potential solutions,” Collins says. Most importantly, the film reveals the promise of holistic practices for healing. When Tom signs up for a special breathing workshop for veterans, he must confront his deepest spiritual identity. He encounters Father Thomas Keating, a renowned Trappist monk who has counseled veterans for decades, who gently illuminates the need to turn inward to achieve true peace, guidance that culminates in a remarkable transformation, rarely depicted on screen. Where the stereotypes of “the broken veteran” and “homecoming hero” leave off, Almost Sunrise continues onward, presenting audiences with an unprecedented portrait of those who return from war; richer, far more complex beings—driven by a universal human aspiration for happiness—who discover life’s soaring possibilities.
ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN:
The Almost Sunrise Impact Campaign is a two-year initiative designed to educate and engage target audiences. The campaign will include the national broadcast premiere of Almost Sunrise in 2017 on the PBS documentary series POV (date and time to be announced), as well as an interactive multimedia exhibit including a photo essay, videos, audio, articles, educational curricula and more (dates and times to be determined.)
The campaign focuses on the following key goals:
Changing the Narrative
We are challenging stereotypes of veterans through public education, engaging communities through the use of screenings, panel discussions, visual and performance arts and partnering with targeted NGOs to use the film as a tool to support and promote their interrelated missions.
We are challenging the dependence and possible overuse of medication to treat psychic wounds and promote the growing body of research and documented experience around the benefits of holistic practices and its as yet untapped potential to contribute to the healing of veterans.
We are working with Congressman Tim Ryan to support the Veterans Wellness Act (HR 2555) legislation that will improve the ability of Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) to promote good health among our nation’s veterans. These facilities are a place of comfort and familiarity for thousands of men and women and their families. The new legislation would expand upon the activities in which these organizations are currently engaged, and create greater opportunities for veterans to access wellness programs and therapies.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS:
Director Michael Collins is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and the founder of Thoughtful Robot, a production company specializing in social issue documentary films. Producer Marty Syjuco is from the Philippines. Their film Give Up Tomorrow (POV 2012) won the Audience Award and a Special Jury Mention for Best New Director at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival, a Media Award from Amnesty International, and was nominated for a 2013 News & Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism.
SCREENINGS/TICKET INFO AND IMMERSION ACTIVITIES:
Almost Sunrise at Telluride Mountainfilm Festival (World Premiere)
(Q & A’s after screenings, with director Michael Collins, producer Marty Syjuco and film subject Tom Voss attending)
A contemplative walk into the woods of Central Park led by Tom Voss, an Iraq veteran and meditation teacher, featured in Almost Sunrise. Voss has experienced first-hand, the restorative, soul-nourishing benefits of spending time in nature—he recently completed an epic 2,700 mile walk from Wisconsin to California. “Walking is being with yourself,” Voss says. As ancient spiritual traditions around the world demonstrate, the simple act of walking can elevate consciousness. Allow yourself a space for reflection and feel the aliveness of your environment and your own self with every step.
Almost Sunrise Breathing & Meditation Intro Session
Tuesday, June 14 in New York City
An introduction to meditation and an ancient practice called “The Power Breath” designed to unlock a happier, more relaxed state of being with higher levels of awareness, focus and clarity. Led by Tom Voss, an Iraq veteran and holistic teacher, featured in Almost Sunrise, the workshop will explore the connection between breath, meditation and state of mind. Empower and refresh your spirit daily, by discovering these tools that can lead you to a calm, centered mind and access to an unlimited storehouse of energy.
Almost Sunrise at AFI Docs (Washington, DC, Premiere)
(Q & A’s after screenings, with director Michael Collins, producer Marty Syjuco and film subject Tom Voss attending)
Film submissions for the Competition section of the 29th Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) is now ready on the festival website! (Submission period: April 15-July 8, 2016)
As one of the largest film festivals in Asia – TIFF Competition has been showing many outstanding films created by up-and-coming directors as well as premieres of works by prestigious filmmakers of the world.
Last year, we were honored to receive 1,409 films from 86 countries and regions. 16 excellent films were screened after the pre-selection and Nise – The Heart of Madness (Brazil) directed by Roberto Berliner won the Tokyo Grand Prix for the last year’s TIFF.
Last night the 31st edition of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) drew to a close at the historic Arlington Theater in Santa Barbara. Festival Director Roger Durling welcomed and expressed his gratitude to the festival’s Board of Directors and to everyone who came out and supported the 200+ films and all the filmmakers from around the world. And, without missing a beat, Durling demonstrated his appreciation for the 700+ volunteers who provide additional support to his staff during the eleven day cinema celebration saying, “We couldn’t do it without the support of our volunteers…I salute you.”
(Photo Credit: William Conlin, YDL Digital Film)
The closing night film, Marguerite, started with a subtitles glitch. After a restart and a technical adjustment the film ran in its entirety and proved to be a crowd pleaser.
Next weekend several popular festival films are screened for the public free of charge at the scenic Riviera Theatre as part of the festival’s 3rd Weekend. Admission to the 3rd Weekend is on a first come first served basis. Here is a listing of films showing:
In addition, the festival is actively engaged throughout the year with its weekly Showcase Series and additional screenings with Q & A’s through Cinema Society and the SBIFF Wave Festivals. One of the tenants to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival is giving back to the community and showcasing the art of film through it’s various outreach programming including its 10-10-10 Student Filmmaking and Screenwriting Competitions, Mike’s Field Trip to the Movies, National Film Studies Program, AppleBox Family Films, and its educational seminars.
Keep in mind, it’s only 364 days until the 2017 Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s 32nd edition. Until then….I’ll see you at the movies!
(Source: Santa Barbara International Film Festival)