The Nantucket Film Festival goes political for its 11th edition, kicking off June 14 with Nick Doob and Chris Hegedus' doc "Al Franken: God Spoke." The cinema verite feature, which had its world debut in March at the SXSW Film Festival, follows the liberal author/radio personality from his highly publicized feud with conservative Fox commentator Bill O'Reilly to his activities during the 2004 presidential election. Franken will be in attendance for the screening and will also participate in a discussion with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams in a program entitled, "In His Own Words: Brian Williams on Hurricane Katrina."
Franken will host a half-hour interview with Williams following a 27-minute film of Williams' experience in New Orleans during the devestating hurricane, including his arrival inside the Superdome prior to the storm and the chaos and governmental ineptitude that followed.
Focus Features chief James Schamus will host a press reception in honor of U.S. troops for Patricia Foulkrod's "The Ground Truth: After the Killing Ends," which will screen as the centerpiece during the festival. The film is the story of a half-dozen men and women who are shipped to Iraq while the film chronicles their recruitment, training, combat and homecoming, and the challenges of reintegrating back to their former civil lives.
Among this year's lineup are a number of Sundance 2006 titles, including this year's jury and audience award-winning feature, "Quinceanera" by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. Also on tap are Ramin Bahrani's "Man Push Cart," and Patrick Creadon's "Wordplay," AFI Film Fest debut "Fuck" by Steve Anderson, Full Frame audience winner "The Trials of Darryl Hunt," and Ryan Fleck's "Half Nelson," starring Ryan Gosling, also a favorite at this year's Sundance.
As previously announced, both Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne will be the NBC Universal Screenwriter honorees this year. Screenwriting is a special focus for the event, hosting panel discussions on the topic, as well as a screenplay competition and an emerging screenwriter's mentorship. Actors Paul Giamatti, Virginia Madsen and Thomas Haden Church are expected to attend the fete for Taylor and Payne, who collaborated on the "Sideways" screenplay (directed by Payne).
Closing out this year's event on June 18 is director Ward Serrill's doc "The Heart of the Game," about a girls' high school basketball team in Seattle. The doc spotlights the trials of one particular player's struggles off-court, which threatens to destroy her dream of being the first person in her family to earn a college degree.
"For NFF11, we chose to focus on the art of storytelling in the documentary form," commented Jill Burkhart, co-founder and executive director of NFF in a statement. "What we find so exciting is that non-fiction filmmaking is borrowing the storytelling engines usually reserved for fiction films, giving docs an extraordinary power."
[For more information and a full list of films visit the festival's website.]