– GKIDS and Beijing Int’l Film Festival have partnered to present ANIMATION IS FILM BEIJING, a special animation section within the upcoming Beijing Int’l Film Festival (BJIFF), which runs April 13 – 20. The ANIMATION IS FILM BEIJING lineup will be the largest slate of non-Chinese feature film animation ever to be presented in China and will highlight the work the of critically-acclaimed, groundbreaking animation artists from around the world. The program is modelled on GKIDS’ LA based festival ANIMATION IS FILM, and features most of the films appearing in the AIF 2018 lineup. In its ninth year, BJIFF is among the largest film festivals in the world and a cultural phenomenon in Beijing, with 230,000 tickets sold for the most recent edition.
ANIMATION IS FILM BEIJING presents 15 feature films from Asia, Europe, North America, and South America, with all new titles making their Asian or Chinese premieres at the festival. Festival highlights include Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-nominated “Mirai,” European Film Award winner “Another Day of Life,” the hit anime “Dragon Ball Super: Broly,” and ANIMATION IS FILM jury prize winner “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles.”
The slate also showcases the complete feature film retrospective of Oscar-nominated Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda as well as a 20th anniversary presentation of “The Iron Giant,” the influential first feature from legendary two-time Oscar-winning director Brad Bird. For more information, visit the festival’s official website right here.
– Saban Films has acquired U.S. rights to Casey Affleck’s narrative feature debut, “Light of My Life.” Written, directed by, and starring Affleck, the dystopian survival drama also stars breakout star Anna Pniowsky and Golden Globe winner Elisabeth Moss. The film made its World Premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in the Panorama section.
The film “follows a father (Affleck) and child (Pniowsky) who journey through the outskirts of society a decade after a pandemic has wiped out half the world’s population. As a father struggles to protect his child at all costs, their bond, and the character of humanity, is tested.”
The film, fully financed by Black Bear Pictures, was produced by Black Bear’s Teddy Schwarzman and Affleck on behalf of Sea Change Media. John Powers Middleton also produced. Executive producers are Black Bear’s Michael Heimler and Ben Stillman, and Sea Change’s Whitaker Lader.
– The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today that AFI AWARDS 2019, celebrating the year’s most outstanding achievements in film and television, will take place Friday, January 3, 2020. Each year, the event honors 10 films and 10 TV series for their contributions to the art form. At the luncheon, AFI will present jury rationales providing artistic and cultural context for the selections.
– The 21st annual RiverRun International Film Festival will take place April 4 – April 14, 2019 with screenings of 175 films from 47 countries in Winston-Salem and Greensboro, N.C. Each year, RiverRun includes its “Spotlight: Perspectives Through Retrospectives,” which features films curated around a central theme. RiverRun’s 2019 Spotlight will focus on the centennial of United Artists, which is marking its 100th anniversary with important events throughout 2019.
“We are delighted to feature a selection of films celebrating the centennial of United Artists. Founded by actors and a director seeking more creative control over their films, the company proved to be a model for Hollywood’s move to independent production in the post-studio-system era,” said Rob Davis, RiverRun executive director, in an official statement. “The company’s rich history could easily provide programming for an entire film festival, but we’ve selected films highlighting some of the most significant eras of the United Artists legacy.”
After a distinguished career as an agent, United Artists recruited RiverRun 2019 Master of Cinema honoree Mike Medavoy in as senior vice president of production, where he was part of the team responsible for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Rocky,” “Annie Hall,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Network,” “Coming Home,” and “Raging Bull,” which RiverRun is screening on April 14 at and will feature Medavoy as a special guest.
“My four years at United Artists from 1974 to 1978, were the happiest years I’ve had in this business in a career spanning from 1964 to today,” Medavoy said. “At United Artists, I stood on the shoulders of giants, not only in the business, but in life; they were individuals like Arthur Krim, Bob Benjamin, Arnold and David Picker, Eric Pleskow, and others. No one in this business does it alone; it’s a team game in the arts. Their examples are in every part of my life, and they changed the way business and art were being done. I will forever remain appreciative.”
In addition to Medavoy, special guests at RiverRun will include: Elaina Friedrichsen, Director, Archives and Legacy of the Mary Pickford Foundation and Head of Production for the Mary Pickford Company; Fred Mann, son of Academy Award-winning director Delbert Mann; David Belafonte, son of Harry Belafonte, producer and star of “Odds Against Tomorrow”; Foster Hirsch, film historian and professor of film at Brooklyn College, author of “Film Noir: The Dark Side of the Screen” and Lisa Funnell, James Bond Scholar from the University of Oklahoma and editor of “For His Only: The Women of James Bond.” David V. Picker, former President and CEO of United Artists, has provided remarks that will be shared with the audience on the Mirisch Company’s contributions to UA and “In the Heat of the Night.”
In addition to “Dr. No” and “Raging Bull,” RiverRun will screen four other classic United Artists’ films during this year’s festival: “Little Annie Rooney” on April 6, “Marty” on April 7, “Odds Against Tomorrow” on April 6 and “In the Heat of the Night” on April 13.
For more information and to purchase tickets, please go to riverrunfilm.com.
– Women In Film, Los Angeles is pleased to announce the election of five new members to its Board of Directors. Joining the Board are an impressive group of industry leaders who represent diverse aspects of the screen industries. They are Tracy McGrath, Vanessa Morrison, Andrea Nelson Meigs, Syrinthia Studer, and Talitha Watkins.
In making the announcement, WIF Executive Director Kirsten Schaffer said, “The 2019 Board of Directors will bring valuable guidance to our organization’s programming and advocacy work. They share our commitment to the mission of enacting change to make the entertainment industry equitable for all women, in front of and behind the camera.”
Board President Amy Baer added, “With the election of these new members, the Board gains the invaluable expertise of five of our esteemed colleagues in the screen industries. Each has established herself as an influential figure in our industry, leading to an improved and expanded definition of how women are represented on-screen, off-screen, and in positions of corporate leadership.”
– Lionsgate has announced Marisa Liston, former Executive Vice President of Publicity for Sony Pictures Entertainment, will lead all Feature Film and Motion Picture Group communications for the studio as Head of Global Earned Media and Communications.
Liston takes on a critical new role at Lionsgate overseeing a combination of three areas: Domestic and International Feature Film Publicity, Lionsgate Feature Film, and Branded Social Media Strategy, as well as Film and Motion Picture Group Communications Strategy. Liston will report to Damon Wolf, President of Worldwide Marketing for Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group.
– RLJE Films has acquired the romantic comedy “Plus One” ahead of its world premiere at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. The film was sold preemptively for low seven figures. Written and directed by Jeff Chan and Andrew Rhymer, the film stars Maya Erskine (Hulu’s “PEN15,” “Casual,” and “Insecure”), Jack Quaid (Amazon’s “The Boys,” “Rampage,” “Logan Lucky”), Ed Begley, Jr. (“Arrested Development”), Beck Bennett (“Saturday Night Live”), Rosalind Chao (“Mulan”), Brianne Howey (“The Passage”), Jon Bass (“Miracle Workers”) and Finn Wittrock (“American Horror Story”).
In the film “long-time friends Alice and Ben find themselves in that inevitable year that all late 20-somethings experience—in which seemingly every person they know gets married—and agree to be one another’s plus ones as they power through an endless parade of weddings.” It is scheduled to be released this summer.
– The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announce Darren Aronofsky, Jake Gyllenhaal, Dee Rees, and Martin Scorsese as added special guest speakers for the 50th Anniversary Gala on Monday, April 29, 2019 in Alice Tully Hall. They will join previously announced guests Pedro Almodóvar, Marielle Heller, Tilda Swinton, and John Waters at the gala honoring the organization’s legendary past and vibrant present, and looking ahead as it extends its commitment to the film community.
The 50th Anniversary Gala will tell the story of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s semi-centennial, reflecting and building upon the organization’s half-century introducing New York audiences to many of the industry’s most acclaimed and important filmmakers. The special guest speakers will present this history alongside a collection of interviews and archival footage, photographs, and film clips that will reflect upon the organization and its role in New York City film culture. In honoring the past, the evening will celebrate a film community that is helping to shape the future of our art form.
– The Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) has announced its selection of fourteen exceptional scripted and documentary projects for the 16th annual Tribeca All Access (TAA) program, which amplifies stories from historically underrepresented voices. TAA is TFI’s flagship and longest-running filmmaker program, providing financial support in the form of grants as well as a broad range of mentorship for storytellers who create groundbreaking projects that bring marginalized voices with vital stories to tell, to a mainstream audience. The next stop for these filmmakers will be the TFI Network, a filmmaker/industry market, which provides an opportunity to meet with film industry experts including distributors, funders, programmers and mentors. TFI Network takes place during the Tribeca Film Festival.
Amy Hobby, TFI Executive Director said in an official statement, “I am thrilled to be welcoming these filmmakers into the TFI family, and into a larger community of their peers during the three days of the TFI Network. High level industry will have the fortune of meeting these storytellers at a critical moment to launch their projects and careers.”
TFI is the first funder of many of this year’s projects, demonstrating the Institute’s tenacity for identifying and amplifying storytellers ahead of the curve. TAA is made possible by philanthropic support from the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts. And, new in 2019, a grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies will support a select number of TAA grantees from Latin America.
Seven grants will be awarded to scripted projects in various stages:
After the death of his graffiti-writer brother, 15-year-old Trey follows Luke, a train hopping crust punk and his surrogate family of runaways, artists, and activists on illegal train rides that take him deep into a world off the grid. COYOTE BOYS is a portrait of rootless youth experiencing loss and loneliness — creating alternative ways of surviving 21st Century America.
Writer, Director, Producer: Haley Elizabeth Anderson
Co-Producer: Adrien Cothier
THE HOLE IN THE FENCE (Mexico)
The first-year students of an elitist religious school are attending a “faith and integration” camp outside Mexico City. What begins as a tranquil retreat soon becomes dangerous when a mysterious hole is found in the perimeter fence.
Director, Co-Writer: Joaquin Del Paso
Co-Writer, Production Designer: Lucy Pawlak
Producer: Fernanda De la Peza
In the age of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” homeless youth Ellis French joins the Marine Corps in a last-ditch attempt to change his life, but must conceal his attraction for his drill instructor in order to survive boot camp.
Director, Co-Writer: Elegance Bratton
Producers: Chester Algernal, Valerie Steinberg
KEEP IT TOGETHER
In 1976 civil-war-torn Beirut, a young rebellious woman fights to free her neighborhood from the control of the Holiday-Inn Sniper and to maintain her relationship with a woman bound by social norms.
Director, Screenwriter: Bane Fakih
Producers: Federica Belletti, Birgit Bernböck
In Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, a Filipina immigrant scrambling to avoid deportation becomes involved with a Russian slaughterhouse worker who is unaware that she’s transgender.
Director, Producer, Screenwriter: Isabel Sandoval
Producers: Darlene Malimas, Jhett Tolentino, Carlo Velayo
Set in an apartment complex outside Oakland, OSIAN tells the story of neighboring Persian-American families through the eyes of two teenagers — one reeling with the death of her mother, the other obsessed with raising money for his own funeral.
Director, Writer: Babak Khoshnoud
Producers: Will Abramson, Zoey Taylor
Told with dark humor, TOLL centers on Suellen, a toll booth attendant who realizes she can use her job to help a gang of thieves steal watches from the wealthy people driving between São Paulo and the coast. But this is only for a noble cause: to send her son to an expensive gay conversion workshop led by a renowned foreign priest.
Director, Screenwriter, Producer: Carolina Markowicz
Seven grants will be awarded to documentary projects in various stages:
ABOVE AND BELOW THE GROUND
ABOVE AND BELOW THE GROUND tells the story of brave indigenous women activists and punk rock pastors who come together in the struggle for environmental self-determination in Myanmar’s war-torn North. A last line of defense for communities caught between coveted natural resources, military cronies, and profit-hungry multinationals, these activists fight back the best way they know how–through protest, prayer, and Karaoke music videos.
Director, Cinematographer: Emily Hong
Producer: Maggie Lemere
BLACK MOTHERS follows the journey of two women working to disrupt the cycle of racist violence within our country’s injustice system. As one mother navigates the aftermath of her son’s attack by local police, the other channels her grief into organizing other mothers to fight for—and win—concrete change and justice.
Director, Producer: Debora Souza Silva
Producers: Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, David Felix Sutcliffe
A filmmaker searches to uncover her family’s Iranian past. Excavating the formative memories of her grandmother, mother, and self, JOONAM explores the evolving shape of girlhood – and, with it, the complex relationships between mother and daughter, Iran and America, and the immigrant experience as it ripples over time.
Director: Sierra Urich
NORTH BY CURRENT
Trans filmmaker Madsen Minax returns to his rural Michigan hometown following the death of his infant niece and the wrongful incarceration of his brother-in-law. As he navigates a town steeped in addiction, economic depression, and religious fervor, Madsen creates a relentless portrait of an enduring pastoral family.
Director: Madsen Minax
Producer: Felix Endara
THE OTHER SIDE (Colombia)
As the war between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian State comes to a long-awaited end, filmmaker Ivan Guarnizo and his brother pursue the truth behind their mom’s kidnapping at the hands of the FARC group and struggle to understand how she was able to forgive her captors in the last years of her life.
Director: Ivan Guarnizo
Producer: Jorge Caballero
Co-Producer: Pablo de la Chica
Executive Producer: Rosa Ramos
THE SILENCE OF MY HANDS (Mexico)
THE SILENCE OF MY HANDS follows Rosa and Saira, two Mexican deaf women in love, as they struggle with the adversities of their language, the distance that separates them – and the limited time that they have together, as an unforeseen illness impacts their relationship.
Director: Manuel Acuña
Producer: Mónica Velasco
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES
Faced with a dying Earth, humanity built a spaceport in the desert of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Those who could leave, ventured in search of new planets to call home. This is the story of the people who stayed.
Director: Hannah Jayanti
Producer: Sara Archambault
– The 21st Annual Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, co-founded and hosted by Chaz Ebert and also known as Ebertfest, announced today the final slate of films for the 2019 event. The anniversary program lineup will consist of feature screenings and special guests including:
- ALMOST FAMOUS (d. Cameron Crowe, 2000, 122 mins) with special guest Richard Roeper
- AMAZING GRACE (d. Alan Elliott, 2018, 87 mins) with director Alan Elliott and producer Tirrell D. Whittley in attendance to discuss the film and following the screening, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir will perform live on stage at the Virginia Theatre [Opening Night film]
- BOUND (d. Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski, 1996, 109 mins) featuring a conversation with special guests Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon
- CANE RIVER (d. Horace Jenkins, 1982, 90 mins) followed by a Q&A with special guests Sandra Schulberg, Dominique Jenkins, Tommye Myrick & Sacha Jenkins
- CŒUR FIDÈLE (d. Jean Epstein, 1923, 87 mins) with special guest Michael Phillips and a performance by the Alloy Orchestra
- COLD WAR (d. Paweł Pawlikowski, 2018, 88 mins)
- MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE (d. Rita Coburn Whack and Bob Hercules, 2016, 112 mins) featuring a discussion with director Rita Coburn Whack
- RACHEL GETTING MARRIED (d. Jonathan Demme, 2008, 113 mins) followed by a Q&A with Stephen Apkon, Jenny Lumet and Michael Barker [Centerpiece Film]
- ROMY & MICHELLE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION (d. David Mirkin, 1997, 91 mins) with a conversation with director David Mirkin
- SIDEWAYS (d. Alexander Payne, 2004, 126 mins) featuring a Q&A with actress Virginia Madsen to follow [Closing Night Film]
- SEBASTIAN (d. Sam Fragoso, 2018, 3 mins)
- WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? (d. Morgan Neville, 2018, 93 mins) featuring a conversation with director Morgan Neville
- A YEAR OF THE QUIET SUN (d. Krzysztof Zanussi, 1984, 106 mins) with special guests Heavenly Wilson, Maja Komorowska and Jerzy Tyszkiewicz
Special guests for this year’s festival include:
- Directors:Rita Coburn, David Mirkin and Morgan Neville
- Producers: Allan Elliott and Tirrell D. Whittley
- Actors:Gina Gershon, Maja Komorowska, Virginia Madsen and Jennifer Tilly
- Additional filmmakers and critics including: Sony Pictures Classics executive Michael Barker; critics Nick Allen, Matt Fagerholm, Sam Fragoso, Chuck Koplinski, Scott Mantz, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Michael Phillips, Pamela Powell, Todd Rendleman, Richard Roeper, Whitney Spence, Brian Tallerico and Matt Zoller Seitz
– The complete lineup has been announced for the 62nd San Francisco International Film Festival, running April 10 – 23 at venues in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley. You can see the full lineup right here. In addition to the previously announced Tribute to Laura Dern, the Festival will also presenting in-person onstage tribute conversations with:
- Claire Denis, featuring a screening of her new film “High Life” starring Juliette Binoche and Robert Pattison – April 11
- Laura Linney, with an onstage conversation and a screening of “The Savages,” for which she was nominated for an Academy Award – April 11
- John C. Reilly, in which he will go in-depth on his career and collaborations preceding a screening of his recent film “The Sisters Brothers” – April 12
– Now in its third year, Sun-Ray Cinema’s Sleeping Giant Fest is aiming to continue its successful tradition of “opening your eyes and perking your ears to work that often gets lost in the digital streams that dominate our viewing habits today.” Per the festival’s mission, its creators and producers are eager to help audiences “navigate an array of choices that often seems dizzying so you can immerse yourself in these so-called ‘less commercial’ films, repertory titles, and screenings with exciting special guests while enjoying the communal experience that the cinema provides.”
This year’s festival runs March 28 – 31 in Jacksonville, Florida, and boasts a slate that includes Harmony Korine’s “The Beach Bum,” Penny Lane’s “Hail Satan?,” along with a program highlighting “major works” by Lithuanian-American director, poet, and visual artist Jonas Mekas. who passed away this year at the age of 95. Check out the full schedule and ticket info right here.
– GKIDS has acquired the North American distribution rights for the animated feature “Children of the Sea.” GKIDS will release the film theatrically in both Japanese and English language versions. The film is the latest feature from Japan’s STUDIO4°C and is adapted from the manga of the same name by author Daisuke Igarashi, which won the Excellence Prize at the Japan Media Arts Festival. A North American theatrical release will take place in 2019.
– EarthxFilm presented by EarthX, has announced the full slate of films and VR presentations for the environmentally focused film festival’s 3rd edition at Fair Park and theaters throughout Dallas, Texas on April 19 – 28. Following a “Kick-Off” week of special screenings and events from April 19 – 24, Ben Masters’ “The River and the Wall” will serve as this year’s Special Spotllight Screening selection with a Gala Presentation at the Perot Museum on Thursday, April 25.
Among the 16 feature films, 40 shorts, 40+ immersive entertainment experiences and exhibits that shine a light on important conservation efforts, the continued adaptation necessary due to the effects of climate change, and investigation into the impact – oftentimes unexpectedly – into areas of our lives because of pollution, lack of conservation, and global warming. EarthxFilm will once again give an important platform to the filmmakers and the truth they have discovered and uncovered that reaches all of us – many times in our own backyards. See the full lineup here.
– Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films have co-acquired worldwide rights to Max Lewkowicz’s “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles.” The documentary tells the story behind one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals, “Fiddler on The Roof” and its creative roots in early 1960s New York. The film includes interviews with the show’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning lyricist Sheldon Harnick, legendary producer Hal Prince, original cast members, such as Austin Pendleton, as well as rare archival footage of renowned choreographer Jerome Robbins. It will hit theatres this summer.
– The Sarasota Film Festival (SFF) has announced its full lineup, including its Spotlight, Narrative Feature Competition, Independent Visions Competition, Documentary Feature Competition, Narrative, Documentary, and Short Films. The Festival also announced its four SFF Focus Panels – Florida on Film, African-American Spotlight, LGBTQ Representation, and Fashion on Film.
“The lineup of our 21st edition brings forth a range of timely topics and important conversations to engage our wonderful audiences with some of the most thrilling narratives on the screen, said Mark Famiglio, Chairman and President of the Sarasota Film Festival, in an official statement. “We are pleased to bring the community together with a diverse lineup of films, and hope discussions between attendees continues after the film has concluded and that everyone can find a unique and exciting experience within our 2019 program.”
Highlights include “Pahokee,” “To the Stars,” “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool,” “Bolden,” “Halston,” “In Fabric,” “Her Smell,” “Go Back to China,” “Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” “Sister Aimee,” “Midnight Family,” Sundance winner “Honeyland,” “American Factory,” and “Diamantino.” You can see the full lineup right here.
– The New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) has announced this year’s awards selected by its Oscar-qualifying jury and top-ranked films voted on by the festival’s over 25,000 attendees. Executive Director Nina Guralnick said in an official statement, “Rarely has NYICFF seen an audience react so enthusiastically and unanimously for its top awards; the votes are a testament to the strength of both feature films and their ability to resonate with audiences of all ages.”
Programming Director Maria-Christina Villaseñor added, “We take enormous pride in our role as curators, helping to bring outstanding films to audiences and underscoring that parents and kids are savvy viewers that appreciate offerings beyond the standard family fare. Great films and filmmakers often offer a compelling point of entry for young viewers to their storytelling whether productions were conceived with that audience in mind or not. We guide both industry and audiences to this fact.”
Grand Prize Awards were announced for the short film and feature film that received the top votes from all NYICFF audience members. NYICFF’s Grand Prize Feature Film Award was presented to “My Extraordinary Summer with Tess” (Netherlands), directed by Steven Wouterlood. NYICFF’s international premiere of the film came on the heels of the film’s world premiere at the Berlinale, where it also received special recognition. A NYICFF Grand Prize Feature Special Mention was also accorded to NYICFF’s opening night film “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: (UK/Malawi), Chiwetel Ejiofor’s directorial debut. The film received extremely enthusiastic marks by NYICFF audiences and made its East Coast premiere prior to its March 1 launch on Netflix.
Emerging filmmakers were recognized through NYICFF’s Oscar-qualifying awards, conferred by its impressive industry jury, including Sofia Coppola, Melissa Cobb, Geena Davis, Jorge Gutierrez, Elizabeth Ito, Matthew Modine, Mark Osborne, Ira Sachs, Nora Twomey, Uma Thurman, Taika Waititi, and Jeffrey Wright. This year’s Jury Award for Best Live Action Short was presented to “A Field Guide to Being a 12-Year-Old Girl” (Australia) by Tilda Cobham-Hervey from the Festival’s Girls’ POV program while the Best Animated Short was presented to “Hors Piste” (France) by Léo Brunel, Loris Cavalier, Camille Jalabert, and Oscar Malet.
NYICFF Audience awards, presented to short films, were determined by the votes of audience members in five different age ranges. A complete list of recipients follows:
- Audience Award, ages 3-6: “Zog,” (UK), Animation, Max Lang & Daniel Snaddon; Shorts for Tots
- Audience Award, ages 5-10: “Saturday’s Apartment,” (South Korea), Animation, Jeon Seungbae; Short Films One
- Audience Award, ages 8-14: “Hors Piste,” (France), Animation, Léo Brunel, Loris Cavalier, Camille Jalabert, Oscar Malet; Short Films Two
- Audience Award, ages 12-17: “Superheroes,” (Germany), Live Action, Volker Petters, Short Films Three
- Grown-Ups Award, ages 18+: “A Kiss,” (Netherlands), Live Action, Nima Mohaghegh; Friends & Neighbors: Netherlands
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