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Breaking Film Industry News — Awards, Acquisitions, Festival Buzz, Grants, and More

Everything industry insiders need to know this month at the movies, from newly announced awards to festival lineups, acquisitions and more.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”

Ilze Kitshoff / Netflix

March 1

– Now in its fourth year, the Doc10 film festival is proud to announce their official 2019 film slate. Presented by Chicago Media Project, Doc10 will open with the critically acclaimed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez documentary “Knock Down the House” and close with Emmy Award-winning director John Chester’s “The Biggest Little Farm.” In celebration of the highly curated event, filmmakers from this year’s ten best documentaries will be descending on Chicago for screenings and Q&A’s. Doc10 will also showcase VR content, industry panels, and creative workshops, and takes place from April 11 – 14, 2019 in Chicago, IL.

Winner of the Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Knock Down the House” follows progressive activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other insurgent female candidates running for Congress in 2018. Setting their sights on making a difference, the film chronicles these women as they fight for the issues they are most passionate about and shake up the establishment in the process. Winner of Audience Awards at the Hamptons and AFI Film Festivals, “The Biggest Little Farm,” directed by John Chester, chronicles the journey of the director and his wife in their mission to build one of the most diverse and sustainable farms of its kind.

“From farms and factories to house seats and border walls, Doc10 continues to tell not only captivating stories, but also pivotal ones,” said Paula Froehle and Steve Cohen, Co-Founders of Doc10 in an official statement. “This continues to be a knock out year for brilliant documentaries and we are proud to be able to curate 10 of the best docs for Chicago audiences.”

The following films will be featured at Doc10 in April:

    • ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH – (Directors Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas De Pencier, Canada, 2018) followed by Q&A with Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier
    • AMERICAN FACTORY – (Directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, USA, 2019) followed by Q&A with Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
    • THE BIGGEST LITTLE FARM – (Director John Chester, USA, 2018) Closing Night Film followed by Q&A
    • THE DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS – (Director Simen Leren Wilmont, Denmark/Sweden/Finland, 2017) followed by Q&A
    • HAIL SATAN? – (Director Penny Lane, USA, 2018) followed by Q&A with Penny Lane
    • THE INFILTRATORS – (Directors: Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera, USA, 2019) followed by Q&A with Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra
    • KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE – (Director: Rachel Lears, USA, 2019) Opening Night Film followed by Q&A with Rachel Lears, Robin, Sarah Olson, Stephanie Soechtig, Kristin Lazure, Amanda Litman
    • MIDNIGHT FAMILY – (Director Luke Lorentzen, Mexico/USA, 2019) followed by Q&A with Luke Lorentzen
    • MIKE WALLACE IS HERE – (Director Avi Belkin, USA, 2019) followed by Q&A
    • ONE CHILD NATION – (Director Nanfu Wang, USA, 2019) followed by Q&A with Nanfu Wang

– The Athena Film Festival (AFF) at Barnard College announced today that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be attending the festival on Sunday, March 3, in support of its closing night film, “Knock Down The House,” which chronicles the campaigns of four female progressive candidates, including Ocasio-Cortez, against powerful incumbents in the 2018 midterm elections. The film, which won the Festival Favorite at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, was recently acquired by Netflix and will be released this spring.

The Athena Film Festival also announced a new partnership with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation that will support the development and dissemination of inspiring films about women in STEM. The program will support talented female filmmakers and screenwriters to develop a rich pipeline of gifted women filmmakers who can bring their voices and visions to the film industry. Together, AFF and the Sloan Foundation hope to disrupt the status quo, and inspire new generations with the often untold stories of female leaders in STEM fields.

The partnership will help fund a number of programs within the Athena Film Festival over the next three years, specifically their Parity Pipeline Program, to provide support for women filmmakers at all stages of development by offering workshops and masterclasses for younger, less experienced women as well as those who are more accomplished.

Some of the specific components of the partnership include the following events, which will take place February 28 – March 3 at the 2019 Athena Film Festival on Barnard College’s campus in New York City:

      • The Alfred P. Sloan STEM Showcase at the Athena Film Festival — the US premiere of “Out of Blue”;
      • Storytelling panel following Shorts III, which will discuss the challenges and potential of bringing stories about women and science to life;
      • A unique filmmaker forum exposing attendees to the technical fields of filmmaking. The Technology of Filmmaking will allow aspiring and emerging filmmakers to learn from and talk to women currently working on the tech side of the industry as cinematographers and editors;
      • STEM-themed Work in Progress documentary — the screening of “Netizens”, which was a Works in Progress participant in 2017;
      • Creation of two Alfred P. Sloan Fellowships that will enable women screenwriters with STEM-related scripts to attend the Athena Screenwriting Labs — one writer in New York and one writer in Los Angeles;
      • Creation of the Alfred P. Sloan Athena List Award that will provide a $20,000 development grant to an Athena List Finalist or Winner with a STEM-themed script.

– The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan’s ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York, has announced that Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Irene Taylor Brodsky’s stunning film “Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements,” which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, will open its 11th annual festival on April 2, with the festival continuing until April 9. The festival celebrates the diversity of the shared human experience through engaging films and events and encourages inclusion and responsible portrayals in cinema of people with disabilities, the most underrepresented minority in America media.

The 11th Annual ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York will take place at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, located at 76th street and Amsterdam Avenue, and at over 20 other venues across all five boroughs of New York City, Long Island, and Westchester and Rockland counties, making it a geographically accessible festival. In addition, it is packed with technology to make it an exceptionally accommodating festival for those with disabilities of all kinds.   Individuals requiring accommodations to participate should contact the specific screening venue directly by March 18.

“This year is not only our largest festival, but also our most accessible to date as we continue to raise the bar on inclusive forms of film presentation,” said Isaac Zablocki, director and co-founder of the festival in an official statement. “The themes of the films are more diverse than ever and the high level of storytelling makes these films relatable to everyone, with or without a disability.”

The opening night gala film “Moonlight Sonata: Deafness in Three Movements” premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival where it was nominated for a grand jury prize. The film is a deeply personal portrait of three lives, and the discoveries that lie beyond loss: a deaf boy growing up, his deaf grandfather growing old, and Beethoven the year he was blindsided by deafness and wrote his iconic sonata.

The closing night film “The Drummer and the Keeper,” directed by Nick Kelley, won numerous awards including the Rising Star Award at the Irish Film and Television Awards and the Festival Jury Prize at the Breaking Down Barriers International Disability Film Festival.  In the film, Gabriel is a drummer in a promising band, desperate to hide his bipolar diagnosis from his exasperated band mates. This year’s festival including the world premiere of “Me, My Mouth, and I,” directed by Sophie Robinson, and the New York premieres of “Nathan’s Kingdom,” “Wild Prairie Rose,” and “Hearts of Glass.” Tickets can be purchased right here.

– SFFILM has announced that the 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival will host the World Premiere of Fox Sports Films’ new MAGNIFY series documentary “Q Ball,” Thursday, April 11, 7:00 pm at the Castro Theatre. The film, executive produced by Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant, provides an intimate portrayal of several players on the San Quentin State Prison basketball team. Director Michael Tolajian, producer Rebekah Fergusson, and executive producers Kevin Durant, Rich Kleiman, Jamie Patricof, Katie McNeill, and Jordan deBree are expected to attend. Additional special guests will be announced in the weeks to come.

“We are proud to premiere this extraordinary new documentary that takes such a compassionate approach to our incarcerated community,” said SFFILM Executive Director Noah Cowan in an official statement. “It’s a heartfelt portrait that showcases the real experiences of these men as inmates, their paths to rejoining the outside world as individuals and as a team, and the quite beautiful role of sport in their rehabilitation.”

– Indie Memphis has announced the return of the Indie Memphis Black Filmmaker Residency for Screenwriting, supported by the Remembering George Riley at MLK50 campaign. The 2019 Resident will be selected by Academy Award-winning screenwriter/director, Barry Jenkins and will receive two months housing in Memphis, a $7,500 unrestricted cash grant, professional support, and roundtrip travel accommodations. Their screenplay must be for a feature-length film to be produced in Memphis.

The purpose of this residency is to provide opportunity for under-represented artists in filmmaking to develop bold storytelling to ultimately be filmed in the Memphis-area. The residency is looking to support one narrative feature film project and priority will be given to the story deemed most original, daring, intelligent, emotionally resonant, and realistic to produce. Applicants must describe why they believe their film should be produced in Memphis, TN. The setting of the story may or may not be Memphis and the residency will offer an opportunity for initial location scouting and inspiration from the geography and environment.

Barry JenkinsNational Board of Review Gala 2018, Arrivals, New York, USA - 08 Jan 2019

Barry Jenkins

Kristina Bumphrey/Starpix/REX/Shutterstock

The residency is provided during the two month timeframe of September 16 – November 16, 2019. No exceptions will be made to the timeline. The residency will include artist participation in events during the Indie Memphis Film Festival the first week of November. Applications must be submitted by 11:59pm CST on March 31, 2019.

How to Apply:

  • Fill out the form here
  • Must submit a full treatment of the script and screenplay sample to residency@indiememphis.com with the subject line of your name and project title.
  • Treatment must be submitted as a PDF, no more than 20 pages.
  • Screenplay sample must be submitted as a PDF, no more than six pages.
  • Lookbooks will be accepted in addition to treatment and screenplay sample but will not be part of final review process.

– SXSW Film Festival and CherryPicks, a digital brand dedicated to the female critical voice, announce the inaugural 2019 CherryPicks Female First Feature Award, which will award prize money to a first time narrative female director who also has at least one female producer screening at SXSW Film Fest 2019. Additionally, CherryPicks will have a SXSW Conference panel on March 8: “What Makes Critics Love, or Hate A Movie.”

The CherryPicks Female First Feature Award will be chosen by selected members of the CherryPicks and SXSW programming teams. The winner will embody the CherryPicks mission: to create more inclusive storytelling and teamwork in entertainment. Winners will be announced by SXSW at the Awards Ceremony on Tuesday March 12, 2019.

– The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) has announced its 2019 lineup of narrative and documentary features, shorts, and opening night gala event. Details are available online at www.indianfilmfestival.org. Widely recognized as the premiere global showcase for groundbreaking Indian cinema, IFFLA will take place April 11 – 14 at Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center in Los Angeles. This is the festival’s third year in the state-of-the-art, world-class cinema in the heart of the city’s vibrant and developing downtown district. Opening and Closing Gala presentations will take place at the Ahrya Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills with dinner receptions to follow hosted by Indian restaurant Spice Affair.

IFFLA 2019 will feature three world premieres, two North American premieres, two U.S. premieres, and 11 Los Angeles premiere screenings. The impressive lineup represents 9 languages, and includes a diverse collection of female and first-time filmmakers along with festival alumni returning with their latest projects.

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