Tribeca Film Festival – Lessons from 5 incredibly important documentaries

While there weren’t any movies that blew me away this year, these are the ones that managed the important task of highlighting a worthy piece of history that calls for the future.

Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story

When I was telling a 20-something about my anticipation of seeing this movie, he gave me a confused look. “I’ve heard that name before. But it was a man.” I knew exactly what he was talking about. “No, that’s Hedly Lamarr from Blazing Saddles.” The ultimate Mel Brooks joke.

Anyway, Hedy Lamarr was an amazing woman who, while at the top of her fame of a Hollywood screen queen, had a hobby in science. As much as I enjoyed the content, I think the movie would have benefited cut out most of the clips from her films.

Lesson: Women are just as nerdy as men and that’s AWESOME.


City of Ghosts

As someone who was admittedly not fully educated on Syria, I found this documentary to be amazingly easy to understand. Told from the perspective of the journalists who are seeking to spread the truth, you’ll be inspired by their humanity.

Lesson: We need the press. We NEED them.


A Gray State

There’s little likelihood that I would ever watch the movie that this movie is partially about, but it sure makes for an interesting subject. The story revolves around a young couple who had sunk every penny and a seemingly endless amount of time into producing a movie about the end of the world. The storytelling is what shines here. I’ve never been so pulled and pushed with emotion knowing the outcome.

Lesson: LISTEN to your family.


Intent to Destroy

Turkey has yet to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. Why? Because the term “genocide” was coined after the events took place. Does that make sense to you? How about this, no U.S. President has since used that term. Wow.

Told partly on set of The Promise, starring Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale, it’s mind-blowing seeing the interviews with the extras who are Armenian. Joe Berlinger captures fact and fiction side-by-side.

Lesson: Don’t forget. Don’t FORGET.


Frank Serpico

I hate to admit this, but I’ve never seen Serpico. I knew it was an Al Pacino cop movie, but I had no idea of anything else. As in most cases, the truth is much more interesting. While the pace could be picked up a bit, the story is there and you’ll be shocked.

Lesson: Do the right thing.

Watch short film ‘Hair’ directed by John Turturro & featuring Bobby Cannavale after premiering at Tribeca Film Festival

rag & bone is pleased to announce the release of Hair, a ‘rag & bone Films’ production which premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival®, presented by AT&T.

Delving deeper into the medium of film, the brand introduces a conceptual short feature directed by and starring Golden Globe-nominated actor John Turturro alongside two-time Emmy-winner Bobby Cannavale, marking yet another engaging initiative under the ‘rag & bone Films’ umbrella.

“For us, projects like these are about creating a paradigm shift in the way people view fashion. Film and photography are engrained in our brand DNA and we love exploring both mediums in different ways every season. This project was a joy to be part of and it was a real honor to work with John and Bobby on it.” – Marcus Wainwright, rag & bone CEO, Founder and Creative Director

Shot by Fred Elmes (Blue Velvet, The Night Of, Broken Flowers) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn the film features an improvised conversation about a man’s particularity for his hair.

Truly masters of their craft, Turturro and Cannavale deliver a lightheartedly engrossing and completely unscripted performance while dressed in the rag & bone Spring/Summer 2017 collection. Hair will be available to view on rag-bone.com on Tuesday, May 2nd. Viewers will also be able to shop the clothing worn in the five minute short.

“It was fun to find the right location that would complement the rag & bone clothing. I scouted several places with Fred Elmes and we felt that this specific classic barber shop was the perfect location. Clothes and hair go together; they’re part of your social identity.” – John Turturro

Hair follows on from the 2016 Men’s Project, based on a concept that showcases the actors’ authentic personalities with each outfitted in pieces from the latest collection that are reflective of their own personal taste.

Turturro continues, “Working with rag & bone was very creative and collaborative, with this short, I wanted to convey the spirit of their brand which is fun, lively, and urban with a focus on quality and craftsmanship.”

Hair debuted during the Tribeca Film Festival®, presented by AT&T on April 21st, 2017 in New York City.

Review: Even Tom Hanks, Emma Watson & Patton Oswalt couldn’t save ‘The Circle’

I hadn’t planned on seeing The Circle at the Tribeca Film Festival, but the night before, I saw an interview on Conan with Patton Oswalt talking about Tom Hanks and I changed my plans. I wish I hadn’t.

No doubt the book goes into more detail, but in the movie, The Circle is a google-like company that is testing its aspirations in a world without privacy. Mae (Emma Watson) is new to the company and becomes the new spokesperson for a bodycam that broadcasts her every move (minus 3 minutes for the bathroom). Yeah, yeah, The Truman Show and Ed TV have both tried this before and both have done better.

The main focus and most of the screen time was for Emma Watson. I really was looking forward to seeing a dark side of Tom Hanks, but sadly, I was disappointed. What I saw of Patton Oswalt was good, but there wasn’t enough!

I’m guessing the movie was edited too much. There is so much great material and such a good cast for it to turn out this terrible. Or perhaps they realized at the end that the story hits too close to home and they needed to dial it down in order not to terrify people. Because this “future” is already happening.

Tribeca Film Festival 2017 Awards Announced

Click for the Tribeca Film Festival page & showtimes

The 16th Tribeca Film Festival announced the winners of its competition categories at the awards ceremony tonight at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center. Top awards went to Keep the Change for Best U.S. Narrative, Son of Sofia for Best International Narrative, and Bobbi Jene for Best Documentary. The Festival, presented by AT&T, runs through April 30, 2017.

Awards were distributed in the following feature film competition categories: U.S. Narrative, International Narrative, Documentary, New Narrative Director, The Albert Maysles New Documentary Director, and the Nora Ephron Prize, honoring a woman writer or director.  Awards were also given in the short film categories: Narrative, Documentary, Student Visionary and Animation.

For the fifth year, Tribeca awarded innovation in storytelling through its Storyscapes Award for immersive storytelling, which went to TREEHUGGER: WAWONA.

“It is more important than ever to celebrate artists both in front of and behind the camera who have the unique ability to share different viewpoints to inspire, challenge and entertain us,” said Jane Rosenthal, Executive Chair and Co-Founder, Tribeca Film Festival. “The winning creators from across the Festival program shared stories that did exactly that, and we are honored to recognize them tonight.  And how wonderful is it that the top awards in all five feature film categories were directed by women.”

This year’s Festival included 97 feature length films, 57 short films, and 30 immersive storytelling projects from 41 countries.

The Festival’s competition categories continue to incorporate storytelling in all its forms with two awards that were given out earlier in the week, the Tribeca X Award, a juried section recognizing the intersection of advertising and entertainment, and the first Tribeca Snapchat Short Award, a new official category.

Screenings of the award–winning films will take place throughout the final day of the Festival: Sunday, April 30, at various venues. Specific times and ticketing information are available at www.tribecafilm.com/festival

The winners of the Audience Awards, powered by AT&T, which are determined by audience votes throughout the Festival via the Festival app, will be announced on April 29.

In addition to cash awards and in-kind services provided by sponsors including AT&T, CHANEL, CNN Films, Netflix, and Nutella, the Festival presented the winners with original pieces of art created by contemporary artists: Urs Fischer, Walton Ford, John Giorno, Ella Kruglyanskaya, Jorge Pardo, R.H. Quaytman, Sterling Ruby, Aurel Schmidt, Ryan Sullivan, as well as longtime supporter Stephen Hannock. 

The winners, awards, and comments from the jury who selected the recipients are as follows:

U.S. NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

The jurors for the 2017 U.S. Narrative Competition were Josh Lucas, Melanie Lynskey, Denis O’Hare, Alex Orlovsky, and Stephanie Zacharek.

  • The Founders Award for Best Narrative Feature Keep the Change, written and directed by Rachel Israel. Winner receives $20,000, sponsored by AT&T, and the art award “Untitled” by Ella Kruglyanskaya. The award was given by Jane Rosenthal joined by Fiona Carter, AT&T Chief Brand Officer, and Josh Lucas, Denis O’Hare, Alex Orlovsky, and Stephanie Zacharek on behalf of the jury.

Jury Comment: “For her heartwarming, hilarious and consistently surprising reinvention of the New York romantic comedy, which opens a door to a world of vibrant characters not commonly seen on film, the U.S. Narrative Jury gives the Founders Award to Rachel Israel for Keep the Change.”

  • Best Actor in a U.S. Narrative Feature FilmAlessandro Nivola in One Percent More Humid. The award was given by Josh Lucas.

Jury Comment: “For his raw, complex and deeply human portrayal of middle-aged teacher and writer who tries to rekindle his creativity by plunging into an ill-advised affair with a student, the award for Best Actor goes to Alessandro Nivola, in Liz W. Garcia’s One Percent More Humid.”

  • Best Actress in a U.S. Narrative Feature FilmNadia Alexander in Blame. The award was given by Denis O’Hare.

Jury Comment: “For her powerful, multilayered and risky portrayal of a troubled teenager in Quinn Shepard’s accomplished directorial debut Blame, the award for Best Actress goes to Nadia Alexander.”

  • Best Cinematography in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film – Cinematography by Chris Teague for Love After Love. The award was given by Alex Orlovsky

Jury Comment: “For creating a visual style that beautifully mirrors the fraught and messy landscape of grief, the cinematography award goes to Love After Love, shot by Chris Teague.”

  • Best Screenplay in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film Abundant Acreage Available written by Angus MacLachlan. Winner receives $2,500. The award was given by Stephanie Zacharek.

Jury Comment: “For its portrayal, both universal and intimate, of two families who meet, clash and ultimately discover what it means to call a place home, the best screenplay award goes to Abundant Acreage, written and directed by Angus MacLachlan.

INTERNATIONAL NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

The jurors for the 2017 International Narrative Competition were Willem Dafoe, Peter Fonda, Tavi Gevinson, Alessandro Nivola, and Ruth Wilson.

  • The Best International Narrative Feature Son of Sofia (O Gios tis Sofias) written and directed by Elina Psykou (Greece, Bulgaria, France). Winner receives $20,000, sponsored by Netflix, and the art award “Study for La Brea” by Walton Ford. The award was given by Alessandro Nivola and Willem Dafoe, on behalf of the jury.

Jury Comment: “When we were watching these movies we were looking for something we hadn’t seen before. We unanimously agree that one film challenged us to see in a new way, and we were seduced by the surprising humanity ofits difficult characters. The direction was assured, and its tone unique, and we look forward to seeing Elina Psykou’s next work. The Best International Narrative Feature Award goes to Son of Sofia.”

  • Best Actor in an International Narrative Feature Film – Guillermo Pfening in Nobody’s Watching (Nadie Nos Mira) (Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, USA, Spain). The award was given by Alessandro Nivola and Willem Dafoe, on behalf of the jury. 

Jury Comment: “For a performance of extraordinary vulnerability and commitment that anchored the film, the Best Actor Award goes to Guillermo Pfening for Nobody’s Watching.”

  • Best Actress in an International Narrative Feature FilmMarie Leuenberger in The Divine Order (Die göttliche Ordnung) (Switzerland). The award was given by Alessandro Nivola and Willem Dafoe, on behalf of the jury.

Jury Comment: “For a performance that is patient, intelligent and graceful, that captured the liberation of a young woman the Best Actress Award goes to Marie Leuenberger for The Divine Order.”

  • Best Cinematography in an International Narrative Feature Film – Cinematography by Mart Taniel for November (Estonia, Netherlands, Poland). The award was given by Alessandro Nivola and Willem Dafoe, on behalf of the jury.

Jury Comment: “We were particularly impressed by the high level of the cinematography of the films we’ve just seen which had very different styles and demands. One film was particularly audacious and showed supreme command of its visual language. The Best Cinematography Award goes to Mart Taniel for November.”

  • Best Screenplay in an International Narrative Feature Film – Ice Mother (Bába z ledu) written by Bohdan Sláma (Slovakia, France). Winner receives $2,500. The award was given by Alessandro Nivola and Willem Dafoe, on behalf of the jury.

Jury Comment: “A screenplay can create a world. With warmth and humor, this movie leads us into a specific and eccentric world driven by an unlikely love story. The Best Screenplay Award goes to Bohdan Sláma for Ice Mother.”

DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

The jurors for the 2017 Documentary Competition were R.J. Cutler, Alma Har’el, Barbara Kopple, Anne Thompson, and David Wilson.

  • Best Documentary FeatureBobbi Jene, directed by Elvira Lind (USA, Denmark, Israel). Winner receives $20,000, sponsored by Netflix, and the art award “THE REAPER” by Sterling Ruby. The award was given by Barbara Kopple.

Jury Comments: “In a diverse field of worthy films, one work captivated our jury with its exquisite blend of emotional depth and rigorous craft. Fulfilling the promise of classic cinema verite, where camera serves as both observer and provocation, this film connected two artists, filmmaker and subject, pushing nonfiction intimacy to bold new places. Our winner documents the deeply personal process of a brilliant woman finding her voice – paired with a director whose own artistic vision dances elegantly with that of her subject. We the jury give the Best Documentary Feature to Elvira Lind’s Bobbi Jene.”

  • Best Documentary Cinematography – Cinematography by Elvira Lind for Bobbi Jene (USA, Denmark, Israel). Winner receives $2,500. The award was given by David Wilson.

Jury Comments: “For the film’s extraordinary relationship to an artist who is willing to go bare not only in performance but in stunningly intimate scenes that are poetic, honest and moving, seemingly without barriers between camera and subject, we give Best Cinematography to Elvira Lind for Bobbi Jene.”

  • Best Documentary Editing – Editing by Adam Nielson for Bobbi Jene (USA, Denmark, Israel). Winner receives $2,500.  The award was given by David Wilson.

Jury Comments: “For a film whose precise economy of construction creates space for the rich sensual palette of a committed artist going through a life change, and whose internal rhythms mirror the art it portrays, we give Best Editing to Adam Nielson for Bobbi Jene.”

o    Special Jury MentionTrue Conviction. “For its compelling storytelling and for introducing us to three heroic characters who transform the injustice they suffered into active change, we give a Special Jury Mention for Best Documentary Feature to Jamie Meltzer’s True Conviction.

BEST NEW NARRATIVE DIRECTOR COMPETITION:

The jurors for the 2017 Best New Narrative Director Competition were Bryan Buckley, Clea Duvall, and Michael Pitt.

  • Best New Narrative DirectorRachel Israel, director of Keep the Change (U.S.). Winner receives $10,000 sponsored by Netflix, and the art award “Veridical” by Jorge Pardo. The award was given by Clea Duvall and Michael Pitt.

Jury Comments: “For this award, we were looking for a filmmaker with a fearless, authentic voice.  Our decision was unanimous.  This filmmaker created a world full of vibrant characters often under-represented in cinema.  It is a unique, yet universal love story told in a way we’ve never seen.  We anxiously await to see what this filmmaker does next.  We are so thrilled to present the award for Best New Narrative Director to Rachel Israel for Keep the Change.”

BEST NEW DOCUMENTARY DIRECTOR COMPETITION:

The jurors for the 2017 Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award were Amy Berg, Alice Eve, Marilyn Ness, Zachary Quinto, and Shaul Schwarz.

  • Albert Maysles New Documentary Director AwardSarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra for A Suitable Girl (U.S./India). Winner receives $10,000 sponsored by CNN Films, and the art award “GOD IS MANMADE” by John Giorno. The award was presented by Shaul Schwarz, Amy Berg, and Zachary Quinto on behalf of the jury, along with Alexandra Hannibal from CNN Films.

Jury Comments: “For the top prize we chose a film that helped us to rethink the dynamics of love through a moving portrayal of a cultural tradition.  With incredible access, heartfelt scenes and it’s strong verite style, The Albert Maysles Prize for first documentary feature goes to A Suitable Girl.”

o    Special Jury MentionHondros. “In considering a wide range of subjects in our category we were moved by two different kinds of love stories. The film we decided to honor with a special mention delves into the fractured worlds of chaos and violence and the interconnectedness of humanity. A childhood friend carries on his legacy to show the enduring power of love. The special mention goes to Hondros.”

THE NORA EPHRON PRIZE

The 2017 Nora Ephron Prize, presented by CHANEL, jurors were Dianna Agron, Joy Bryant, Diane Lane, Zoe Lister-Jones, and Christina Ricci.  

  • The Nora Ephron Prize: Petra Volpe, writer/director of The Divine Order (Switzerland). Winner receives $25,000, sponsored by CHANEL, and the art award “Fashion Voodoo 3” by Aurel Schmidt. The award was given by Diane Lane on behalf of her jurors Joy Bryant, Dianna Agron, Christina Ricci, Zoe Lister-Jones.

Jury Comments: “For its intrepid and compassionate storytelling, beautiful cinematography (DP-ed by a woman), complex characterization of the female experience, seamless navigation of both drama and comedy, and true embodiment of the personal being political, we award the Nora Ephron Prize to Petra Volpe for her film The Divine Order.” 

  • Special Jury Mention: Keep the Change

SHORT FILM COMPETITION CATEGORIES:

The 2017 Best Narrative Short and Best Animated Short jurors were Udi Aloni, Brennan Brown, Gilbert Gottfried, Amy Heckerling, Sheila Nevins, Mark O’Brien, and Jesse Plemons.

  • Best Narrative ShortRetouch, directed by Kaveh Mazaheri(Iran). Winner receives $5,000 sponsored by Nutella, and the art award: “Study: Flooded Oxbow for Ophelia (MM#3800)” by Stephen Hannock. The award was given by Udi Aloni, Brennan Brown, and Amy Heckerling on behalf of the jury, along with Eric Berger representing Nutella.

Jury Comments: “For its message of choice, liberty, and renewal where the lines of morality and honesty are blurred, leaving the audiences own projection of the events open for discussion and introspection. We appreciated the unification of the aesthetic and the ethical.  The winner of the Best Narrative Short goes to Retouch.”

  • Best Animated ShortOdd is an Egg (Odd er et egg) directed by Kristin Ulseth (Norway). Winner receives $5,000 sponsored by Nutella. The award was given by Udi Aloni, Brennan Brown, and Amy Heckerling on behalf of the jury, along with Eric Berger representing Nutella.

Jury Comments: “We found the story of this animated short sweet and moving. We were also very impressed with beautiful visuals, which were artistic, cool and haunting. The filmmaker shows great promise. Best Animated Short goes to Kristin Ulseth for her film, Odd is an Egg.”

The 2017 Best Documentary Short and Student Visionary Award jurors were Priyanka Chopra, Olivia Thirlby, Ryan Eggold, Brendan Fraser, and Ileen Gallagher.

  • Best Documentary ShortThe Good Fight directed by Ben Holman (U.S., UK, Brail). Winner receives $5,000 sponsored by Nutella, and the art award “Untitled” by Ryan Sullivan. The award was given by Ileen Gallagher and Ryan Eggold along with Eric Berger representing Nutella.

Jury Comments: “An unflinching portrait of finding hope in a world of danger; a journey of perseverance in the face of tragedy; an uplifting and visually compelling story of redemption. The winner of the Best Documentary Short is The Good Fight.”

o    Special Jury Mention Resurface: “Shedding light on the struggle for normalcy, hope, and recovery that US Veterans face every day, this is the story of reviving the human spirit through connecting with something deeply powerful and larger than the self: the Natural World.”

  • Student Visionary AwardFry Day directed by Laura Moss (U.S.). Winner receives $5,000 sponsored by Nutella. The award was given by the Jury along with Eric Berger representing Nutella.

Jury Comments: “For its success in balancing an immersive coming of age experience with relevant social commentary in a historically specific context; compelling performances and expert filmmaking, the student visionary award goes to Fry Day.

o    Special Jury Mention Dive: “Visceral, deeply moving meditative and exquisitely constructed / A nuanced examination of love and moving on after grief. Dive receives a Special Jury Mention.”

STORYSCAPES AWARD

The 2017 Storyscapes Award, presented by AT&T, which recognizes groundbreaking approaches in storytelling and technology, jurors were Lily Baldwin, Charlotte Cook, Julia Kaganskiy, Michael Premo, and Sarah Wolozin.

  • Storyscapes Award: TREEHUGGER: WAWONA created by Barnaby Steel (Co-Founder, Creative Director), Ersin Han Ersin (artist, Creative Director) and Robin McNicholas (Co-founder, Creative Director) of Marshmallow Laser Feast. Winner receives $10,000, presented by AT&T. The award was given by Lily Baldwin, Charlotte Cook, Julia Kaganskiy, Michael Premo, and Sarah Wolozin, along with Ryan Luckey, AVP, Corporate Sponsorships, AT&T.

Jury Comments: “The project we chose exemplifies the highest standards of artistry and inventiveness. It explores the potential for new visual forms and investigates unique modes of storytelling that allow us to tap into aspects the world and our lived experience that are intuitively known but seldom articulated. Through its use of poetic abstraction, embodiment, and the viewer’s own imagination and interpretation, we are able to unlock new ways of understanding and experiencing the world around us. We’ve selected this piece because we hope it will inspire others to start creating in ways that take risks and use the limitations of technology to revamp story and experience. The Storyscapes Award goes to TREEHUGGER: WAWONA.”

The Festival’s competition categories continue to incorporate storytelling in all its forms with two awards that were given out earlier in the week. The Tribeca X Award is a juried section recognizing the intersection of advertising and entertainment and Tribeca also presented the first Tribeca Snapchat Short Award, a new official category.

Interview: Petra Volpe – writer/director of Tribeca Film Festival Selection ‘The Divine Order’ about Swiss women’s right to vote in 1971

The Divine Order is a Swiss film from writer/director Petra Volpe produced with Reto Schaerli and Lukas Hobi. I got the opportunity to speak with Petra Volpe this week as her film screens at the Tribeca Film Festival.

1971: Nora is a young housewife and mother living with her husband and their two sons in a quaint little village in the Swiss countryside, which is so far untouched by the major social upheavals the movement of 1968 has brought about. Protests for Civil Rights, the Sexual Revolution, and the Youth and Counter Culture Movements are barely on the radar in Nora’s village. Nora’s life has not been affected either; she is a quiet person who is liked by everybody – but everything changes when she starts to publicly fight for Swiss women’s right to vote, which Swiss men are due to vote on in a ballot on February 7, 1971.

How does one go about telling a story so vast as this? Volpe did extensive research for the film, and a crucial place for information was the Gosteli Archive – the archive on the history of women in Switzerland, founded by Marthe Gosteli, who recently passed away in her 100th year.

Speaking with Gosteli, Volpe was inspired but realized that the character in her story must not be an “intellectual” but someone “like my mother. Not an actively political person, but then finds out she’s actually affected by politics.” Volpe describes how there was a lot of propaganda sent out against women’s suffrage. She goes on to say, “I found a note in this archive, that really touched me. It was from a young housewife, a mother.” She had sent back one of the pamphlets and wrote, “how dare you prevent women from voting! I was never a political person but this now makes me want to be a fighter.” How awesome is that? Volpe knew then that the main character shouldn’t be someone that was already involved in the movement.

This was my favorite part of the story. Nora is married, with a child and doesn’t really understand the point of women voting. Then when she wants to do something on her own, she realizes that she cannot do what she wants without the permission of her husband. This ignites a light in her to question why. Questioning drives her to learn more and seek out others.

Those others are the women of the village where she lives. Volpe says that she didn’t base the characters on any one person, but was inspired by the women in the village where they were shooting. “They were very charismatic, powerful women, in these pubs, who everybody trusts, they know every village secret. Everyone came to them with their worries and were the Queens of the village. Usually, they didn’t own their businesses, their husbands owned them, so they were completely dependent, financially on their husbands.”

Absurd as it seems now, not only were women not granted the right to vote until 1971, but women “were not allowed to open a bank account until 1988. They couldn’t sign contracts for an apartment. That’s one of the first things that women took on after the right to vote, they really said, we need to change marital law.”

Volpe is no stranger to women’s issues. “All my films are about women who liberate themselves.” However, the idea came from one of her producers and it upset her that she didn’t think of it. “I was so pissed! Why didn’t I have this idea? It’s so shameful!” We forgive you, Petra.

Since this is based on an actual event, I asked Volpe about her approach to the storytelling and its challenges. “There’s different challenges. One the challenge of tone. Humor is very important. Humor is a very important means to seduce people to look at things that they don’t like to look at.

I think humor is a way of opening up people’s hearts from more painful aspects of stories.”

“It’s so horrible, that you have to laugh. So, for me, it’s very important to have a humorous approach and not to make it too heavy, but to also show the absurdity of it. Humor is an anarchy and coping mechanism. We all know how much we need Saturday Night Live at the moment, for survival. So humor is very important to find a tone for the movie.”

Volpe also had a challenge with depicting the time period without losing the audience’s interest. “When I looked at the archives, people were talking so extremely slowly and they were moving so extremely slowly, the people were much slower. It was so interesting, as they were not so agile and everything was more stiff. I thought it adds a lot to this atmosphere of oppression. And yet, you have to tell a movie that people don’t fall asleep. [LAUGH] That is also a balance to find. How to keep that pace, to recreate this atmosphere like a visceral experience, for people to really feel how these women were in corsets, constrained in this world and to tell a movie that has a pace for a modern audience.”

A bit of propaganda at the time had a poster with “Women in politics is against the divine order.” Volpe felt this was a perfect title for the film. “It’s really crazy when you read these propaganda pamphlets, they really argue that God has created a world of men and women and they have their roles, and if you mess with these roles, it will be apocalypse.” Sound familiar? Scarily, it does.

The look of the movie is also very rich with color. Volpe says she spent a great deal of time getting the colors right before and after filming. She shot digitally and spent two weeks grading the color in post-production.

I also asked Volpe about her experience as a female filmmaker in an industry dominated by men. She talks about how it was hard in the beginning because so often she was told that she should be grateful for her opportunities. She was very grateful, but eventually, she developed the confidence to say, “no, they can be grateful that I work for them.”

“They can be grateful that I come up with stories they can sell and make money.”

“That took a little while for me to realize, that no, it’s me they should be grateful to, and not the other way around.” Bravo!

When asked about the timing of the film, Volpe laments, “good for the film, but unfortunate for society.” I couldn’t agree more.

You still have a chance to get RUSH tickets for 3 more showings – check here.

Tribeca Film Festival – Round 2 ‘The Departure’ ‘AlphaGo’ ‘The Wedding Plan’

These 3 movies are completely different and all give you an insight into another world.

The Departure was especially emotional and filled me with empathy.

Lana Wilson follows up her award-winning documentary After Tiller with this lyrical, intimate character study of the complex figure Ittetsu Nemoto, an aimless and rebellious former punk rocker-turned-Buddhist priest. Most famously, he is renowned in Japan for saving the lives of countless suicidal men and women through his wise and compassionate counsel. But Nemoto is now approaching middle-age with a wife and young boy of his own, when he learns his life is at risk from heart disease, compounded by the heavy emotional workload of supporting those who no longer want to live. When saving others takes such a toll, can he find the resiliency to save himself? The Departure is an intimate portrait of one quietly extraordinary man who has helped so many learn to live, and now must find the strength to learn from his own advice.

—Cara Cusumano

Unlike many other documentaries, there are no talking heads. There are no interviews. This is a fly-on-the-wall account following a man who cares for others who are on the path to “depart,” i.e. take their own life. Giving no context, the viewer watches as a man who helps so many others, is not taking care of himself. It’s a deeply moving and intimate movie.


The ancient Chinese board game Go has long been considered the holy grail for artificial intelligence. Its simple rules but near-infinite number of outcomes make it exponentially more complex than chess. Mastery of the game by computers was considered by expert players and the AI community alike to be out of reach for at least another decade. Yet in 2016, Google’s DeepMind team announced that they would be taking on Lee Sedol: the world’s most elite Go champion. The match was set for a weeklong tournament in Seoul in early 2016, and there was more at stake than the million dollar prize.

Director Greg Kohs’ absorbing documentary chronicles Google’s DeepMind team as it prepares to test the limits of its rapidly-evolving AI technology. The film pits machine against man, and reveals as much about the workings of the human mind as it does the future of AI.

—Ian Hollander

I have heard of the game Go, and even after seeing AlphaGo, I’m still not quite sure how to play. Perhaps that’s the point, as a company, Deep Mind, set out to create an AI that could not only play the game but beat extremely skilled opponents. The most interesting part was the last third where the focus was on the 5 games set against the machine. An interesting view for sure, but it left me wanting to learn more about the origin of the game.


Exhausted by single life at 32, spirited bride-to-be Michal (Noa Koler) is eager for the comfort and companionship of marriage. Then, her fiancé dumps her one month before their wedding. Devastated but undeterred, she decides to keep her wedding date, leaving it to fate to provide a suitable groom.

With invitations sent, the venue booked, the clock counting down to the big day, and pressure from her family mounting, Michal enlists two matchmakers to help her find Mr. Right. After a series of comically mismatched dates — including with a charming but utterly unsuitable pop star — and many soul-bearing conversations with her sisters, Michal finds she has chemistry with someone she never expected.

Trailblazing writer-director Rama Burshtein (“Fill the Void”) returns to the cloistered Orthodox community she knows intimately with this funny and poignant screwball romantic comedy. When it comes to finding love, it’s equal parts luck, determination, and blind faith.

—Shayna Weingast

I was so annoyed by the premise of The Wedding Plan that I just had to see it. This could have been a very empowering movie about one woman’s struggle to define herself without marriage. But no. Instead, it’s a “poor me” story, albeit a funny one, that actually redeemed itself near the end, only to leave me with another last bit of annoyance. Bummer.

Tribeca Film Festival – Round 1 Top Picks – ‘Saturday Church’ ‘Flower’ ‘Super Dark Times’ ‘Take Me’

I enjoy being surprised when watching a movie and these 4 movies were full of surprises.

Flower grabs you from the first scene and it’s the amazing performance of Zoey Deutch that captivates.

Seventeen-year-old Erica Vandross (Zoey Deutch) isn’t like most teenage girls. When school’s out, for example, she and her two best friends seduce older men in order to extort money from them—you know, typical extracurricular activities. Much of Erica’s rebellious attitude stems from the abandonment of her biological father, who’s in jail and has left her similarly free-spirited mother (Kathryn Hahn) to raise Erica alone. Everything changes, however, when mom invites her new beau (Tim Heidecker) and his overweight and fresh-out-of-rehab son (Joey Morgan) to move in with them, giving Erica an unexpected connection to the “hot older guy” (Adam Scott) she and her friends obsess over at the local bowling alley.

Where Flower goes from there is part of director/co-writer Max Winkler’s film’s unpredictable energy and edgy charm. Executive Produced by Danny McBride, Jody Hill, and David Gordon Green, Flower blossoms from female-driven coming-of-age comedy into bold and uncompromising directions as its unpredictable narrative unfolds. Front and center throughout is an excellent and multidimensional turn from Zoey Deutch, who solidifies her emerging star status with a performance that’s hilarious, raw, brash, and sneakily tender.

—Cara Cusumano

The handheld style served the material very well. The story moves in all kinds of directions while staying grounded in reality.


Working single mother Amara leaves her two boys at home with domineering Aunt Rose, and Rose has her eyes on the older son, Ulysses. Stealing nylons, wearing his mother’s shoes: Ulysses is just beginning to explore his identity and sexuality. When Rose demands an end to it, the boy escapes to the Village and discovers both supportive friends and the inspiration to become exactly what he is feeling inside. The problem: Rose is waiting back home. Luka Kain delivers a magnetic performance as Ulysses—who in his best moments hears music all around, and yet faces some of the worst circumstances imaginable—in this drama about finding a literal sanctum, so that you can find yourself. It’s a complicated life Ulysses leads, and Damon Cardasis’s musical coming-of-age story is all the better for tackling multiple sides of the young LGBTQ experience, with compassion and heart combined.

—Cara Cusumano

Saturday Church mixes in musical numbers in a way that I enjoyed. It’s always inspiring to see a story of someone discovering their identity and the people that support them.


Enjoying their normal lives in mid-’90s suburbia, Zach and Josh are best friends with numerous shared interests, chief of which is an attraction to their classmate Allison. One seemingly routine day, along with two other friends, Zach and Josh borrow the latter’s older brother’s prized samurai sword to goof around in the local park. But the afternoon soon spirals out of control. Wracked with guilt, Zach struggles to assimilate back into high school life, even as Allison begins to show a romantic interest in him. The situation gets even more complicated once Zach notices a disturbingly off-balance change in Josh’s behavior.

Blurring genre lines throughout, Super Dark Times marks a confidently audacious and impeccably assembled feature debut for director Kevin Phillips. In its adult depiction of innocence corrupted, Phillips’ midnight-dark film has shades of everything from Stand By Me to Donnie Darko and Stranger Things. Yet Phillips’ masterful command of mood, cinematographer Eli Born’s stunning use of wide-screen photography, a few unsettlingly horror-movie-like dream sequences, and the cast’s excellent performances all combine to elevate Super Dark Times above pastiche and into uncompromisingly bold filmmaking.

—Matt Barone

Super Dark Times seems like it’s for teenagers, but it’s really for those who remember being teenagers. Being a teenager feels like everything is so important. Sometimes it actually is. Such is the case for the boys who get themselves into a terrible situation. We see it coming, but it makes it no less impactful. Really amazing performances by the young cast that we will surely see again.


Ray Moody (Pat Healy) is a fledgling entrepreneur, trying to get his company off the ground in Los Angeles. His business: abduction, or as Ray describes his company, Kidnap Solutions, LLC, providing alternative therapy that his clients use for curative reasons. The market for such a service is unsurprisingly niche, and Ray is in dire straits. So when he receives a mysterious phone call late one night contracting him for a weekend abduction with a handsome payday at the end, Ray jumps at the chance. The only problem? His target, business consultant Anna St. Blair (Orange Is the New Black’s Taylor Schilling) may not be all that she seems. Take Me, Pat Healy’s feature directorial debut, threads the needle between crime thriller and slapstick farce. Working with writer Mike Makowsky and Executive Producers Jay and Mark Duplass, the film is a wonderfully droll, Hitchcockian black comedy with excellent lead performances that is as twisty as it is funny.

—Jason Gutierrez

Again, sometimes you know what’s going to happen, but that doesn’t spoil the journey. In Take Me, Pat Healy and Taylor Schilling are in a mental and physical battle. Its twisted sense of humor reminds me of last year’s Tribeca Orchard release, The Overnight, coincidentally also starring Schilling.

So far, Tribeca has not been disappointing!

Netflix News: Tribeca Selection ‘Get Me Roger Stone’ profiles the political strategist & Trump supporter

Get Me Roger Stone, a Netflix original documentary, launches globally on Netflix May 12 and will have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 23.

After the 2016 election, people all over the world woke up to find that Donald J. Trump, New York real estate billionaire and reality TV star, succeeded in pulling off one of the greatest political upsets in history to become the 45th President of the United States. One man who wasn’t shocked – political consultant Roger Stone. A longtime Trump confidante and advisor, Stone said he always knew his celebrity pal was “prime political horse flesh.” Get Me Roger Stone traces the monumental impact that Stone, the youngest person called before the Watergate grand jury and a self-described “dirty trickster”, has made on modern GOP history — connecting Nixon, Roy Cohn and Reagan with SuperPACs, lobbying, the 2000 election, all the way to the nation’s first reality star President. A master of creating controversy and manipulating the media, Stone’s career is a window into the last 50 years of politics that led to this pivotal moment in history. The Netflix original documentary chronicles the high-living, low-down, self-proclaimed agent provocateur and the seismic changes he’s wrought in a political system.
Get Me Roger Stone is directed by Daniel DiMauro, Morgan Pehme, and Dylan Bank and executive produced by Blair Foster.

Where to watch over 50 movies from the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival – 10 on Netflix!

In preparation for this year’s festival, I took a look back at last year to see where I could watch them. There are currently over 50 movies from the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival that are now available to see either in theaters or at home. There are 10 available on Netflix, 2 on amazon Prime and 11 in theaters. The rest are available to stream. That’s pretty impressive.

There’s one that was bought by Seeso and it’s Pistol Shrimps. It’s fantastic.

Follows the 2015 season of the popular all female basketball team called The Pistol Shrimps – made up of actors, comedians and models in LA. Comic actress Aubrey Plaza, model Melissa Stern and actress/writer Maria Blasucci are part of the ragtag team of trash-talking, hard fouling, wisecracking women who bring a much-needed edge to the game.

Watch in Theaters

Contemporary Color is available in theaters, just not shown on GoWatchIt below for some reason. So get out there!


Watch on amazon Prime

 I never heard a peep about Eddie Murphy in Mr Church, so it’s probably a good, but not great movie. Equals indulges the fantasy too much and doesn’t focus enough on the characters.


Watch on Netflix

I didn’t see Foxcatcher in 2014 and still didn’t see it after it won award after award. Perhaps that’s why I was drawn to the documentary. Team Foxcatcher was compelling, gripping and full of surprises.  Liz raves about the James Franco indie, King Cobra.


And there’s still more! Here’s everything else that’s all available to stream to rent or buy!

Always Shine was especially dark and disturbing. Intense performance by Mackenzie Davis.

Tribeca TV: 5 new series premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival

 

Photo Illustration by Jaime Fallon

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu, MGM) – New Series World Premiere

Executive Producer: Bruce Miller.

Based on Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed novel, The Handmaid’s Tale is the story of Gilead, a modern-day totalitarian society facing environmental disasters and a plunging birthrate, ruled by a fundamentalist regime that treats women as property. As one of the few fertile women, Offred is forced into sexual servitude in a desperate attempt to repopulate the world. In a society where one wrong word could end her life, Offred has one goal: survive and find the daughter taken from her.

After the episode: A conversation with executive producers Bruce Miller, Warren Littlefield, and cast membersElisabeth Moss, Joseph Fiennes, Yvonne Strahovski, Samira Wiley, Alexis Bledel, Madeline Brewer, Ann Dowd, O.T. Fagbenle, and Max Minghella. Moderated by writer for The New York Times Magazine, Jenna Wortham.

Screening time: Friday, April 21, 6:00 PM, BMCC


The Sinner (USA/Universal Cable Productions) – New Series World Premiere

Executive Producers: Derek Simonds, Jessica Biel, Michelle Purple, Charlie Gogolak.

A young mother is overcome by an inexplicable fit of rage and commits a startling act of violence. The event launches an inverted and utterly surprising crime thriller whose driving force is not the “who” or the “what,”—but the “why.” Soon the investigator finds himself obsessed with uncovering the woman’s buried motive. From Universal Cable Productions, The Sinner is a riveting psychological thriller, with a pilot stylishly directed by acclaimed filmmaker Antonio Campos (Afterschool, Christine).

After the episode: A conversation with executive producer and director of the pilot Antonio Campos, executive producer Derek Simonds, executive producer and cast member Jessica Biel, and cast members Christopher Abbottand Bill Pullman.

Screening time: Tuesday, April 25, 6:15 PM, SVA-1


Genius (National Geographic) – New Series World Premiere

Executive Producers: Ken Biller, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Gigi Pritzker, Sam Sokolow.

Genius charts how Albert Einstein (Geoffrey Rush), an imaginative, rebellious patent clerk who struggled to land an academic post in his early years, went on to become the greatest scientific mind of the 20th century. The show explores his rise as he juggles his volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships. Based on Walter Isaacson’s acclaimed biography.

After the episode: A conversation with director and executive producer Ron Howard, executive producers Brian Grazer and Gigi Pritzker, showrunner Ken Biller, and cast members Geoffrey Rush, Johnny Flynn, Emily Watson,and Samantha Colley.

Screening time: Thursday, April 20, 6:00 PM, BMCC


The Eyeslicer – New Series Premiere

Executive Producers: Dan Schoenbrun, Vanessa McDonnell.

The Eyeslicer is a new variety TV show that brings the next generation of alternative American filmmakers together under one strange roof. The hour-long show will slice, dice, and then mince your eyeballs into delicious ceviche. Each episode is a handcrafted mixtape, blending boundary-pushing short form work into a weird, wild, uninterrupted whole.The Eyeslicer premieres at Tribeca with the episode “Facial Reconstruction”, featuring work from acclaimed indie filmmakers Lauren Wolkstein, Erin Vassilopoulos, Shaka King, Danny Madden, and Leah Shore.

After the episode: A conversation with co-creators Dan Schoenbrun and Vanessa McDonnell, and filmmakersLauren Wolkstein, Erin Vassilopoulos, Shaka King, Danny Madden, and Leah Shore.

Screening time: Friday, April 28, 9:00 PM, SVA-2


There’s… Johnny! (Seeso) – New Series World Premiere

Executive Producers: Paul Reiser, David Steven Simon, David Gordon Green, Jeff Sotzing, Brian Volk-Weiss, Craig Knizek, Cisco Henson, Michael Pelmont, Matt Ochacher, Evan Shapiro, Kelsey Balance.

It’s 1972, and everyone goes to bed together… with Johnny Carson, TV’s biggest star. 19 year old Nebraskan Andy Klavin stumbles his way into a gig as a gofer at Carson’s  “The Tonight Show” and into a world that will change his life. There’s… Johnny! takes a fictional comedic trip back in time, to go behind the man in front of the curtain, and look at the lives and loves of the people who make all of America laugh.

After the episode: A conversation with creator Paul Reiser, executive producers David Steven Simon and David Gordon Green, and cast members Tony Danza, Ian Nelson, and Jane Levy.

Screening time: Thursday April 27, 6:15 PM, SVA-2

Welcome to the Future – Tribeca Immersive: Virtual Arcade & Storyscapes Lineup at the Tribeca Film Festival

Are you still not sure what the whole VR thing is all about? This year Tribeca brings it’s most impressive lineup of opportunities to interactive with another world. Some are educational, some are just for fun. I’m really looking forward to checking out as many of these as I can!

VIRTUAL ARCADE

The Virtual Arcade selections include 23 projects from six countries, 17 of which are world premieres.

Alteration (World Premiere) – France

Project Creator: Jérôme Blanquet

Key Collaborators: James Sénade, Yann Apéry, Antoine Cayrol, Baptiste Chesnais, Pierre Zandrowicz, Jean-françois Blanquet

This is a poetic trip into the future: Alexandro volunteers for an experiment carried out to study dreams. He can’t imagine that he will be subjected to the intrusion of Elsa, a form of Artificial Intelligence who aims to digitize his subconscious in order to feed off it. She’s a vampire…bit by megabit.

A project still from APEX. Photo credit: Arjan Van Meerten.

Apex (World Premiere) – The Netherlands/USA

Project Creator: Arjan van Meerten

Key Collaborator: Wevr

The stunning new experience from the brilliant imagination of 3D artist and musician Arjan van Meerten, APEX is the highly anticipated follow up to the creator’s acclaimed and award-winning experience, Surge. Step into a surrealistic and darkly beautiful vision of a fiery urban apocalypse; one populated by skeletal ghost animals, abstract shapes, maniacal smiling giants and, of course, you. 

Arden’s Wake (World Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Eugene Chung

Key Collaborators: Jimmy Maidens

The sea levels have risen, and a young woman and her father live in a lighthouse perched atop the ocean’s surface. When he goes missing, she descends deep into the post-apocalyptic waters previously forbidden to her, embarking on a thrilling journey of family history and self-discovery. From the creators of the magnificent Allumette (Tribeca 2016), Arden’s Wake continues the elegant evolution of storytelling from Penrose Studios.

Auto (World Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: J. Steven Schardt

In the near future, self-driving taxi services employ “safety drivers,” a transitional measure of comfort for passengers. On his first day, Musay, an Ethiopian immigrant with 40 years of driving experience, picks up a couple habituated to the service.   Not content — not comfortable — with merely sitting, Musay insists on driving, instigating a series of events with substantial consequences.

Bebylon – Battle Royale (World Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Cory Strassburger, Ikrima Elhassan

Key Collaborators: Alex Underhill, Giray Ozil, Jennifer Chavarria

From the minds at Kite + Lightning, this comedic arena battle experience blends a satirical narrative with revolutionary head-to-head VR gaming. Set in a futuristic status-conscious society, players compete as crude, narcissistic, immortal babies for fame and fortune. Wielding weaponized status symbols such as gold-plated selfie sticks and big-fisted battle buggies, you can be the “beby” of your most shameless rock star fantasy.

Becoming Homeless: A Human Experience (World Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Stanford University

Key Collaborators: Elise Ogle, Tobin Asher, Jeremy Bailenson

Everyone’s story is unique, but the human experience is collective. In this interactive first-person VR experience, you will face the adversity of living without a home. From Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab, Becoming Homeless aims to change the way some may think and act about the epidemic of homelessness that exists globally.

A project still from BROKEN NIGHT. Courtesy of Eko.

Broken Night (World Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Alon Benari, Tal Zubalsky, Alex Vlack

Key Collaborators: Eko, Hidden Content, Real Motion VFX

Broken Night explores a woman’s (Emily Mortimer) unreliable narrative of an intense trauma. Speaking to a detective, her confused memories unfold: returning home in the midst of a fight with her husband (Alessandro Nivola), they encounter an intruder. The viewer is placed in a position of choosing which memories to follow, sharing her confusion before coming to the startling truth.

The puppet show gets cheerfully grim with a burst of “blood” confetti in EXTRAVAGANZA.
Photographer: Ethan Shaftel

Extravaganza (World Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Ethan Shaftel

Extravaganza mixes 3D animation and live-action footage in a bitingly funny satire. You are a puppet trapped in a stunningly offensive puppet show, performing for a clueless executive (Paul Scheer). Confronted with his glaringly obvious blind spots and prejudices, Extravaganza asks: can technology change society for the better, or does it just magnify our worst traits in new ways?

Hallelujah (World Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Zach Richter, Bobby Halvorson, Eames Kolar

Key Collaborators: Chrissy Szczupak, Orin Green, Jess Engel, ECCO VR, International Orange Chorale of SF, Chris Milk, Aaron Koblin

Hallelujah is a revolutionary virtual reality music performance that reimagines Leonard Cohen’s most well-known song. It is the world’s first VR music experience to provide an uncompromised sense of presence with six degrees of freedom using Lytro Immerge technology. A Within Original.

Life of Us (New York Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Chris Milk, Aaron Koblin, Pharrell Williams

Life of Us is a shared VR journey from Within that tells the complete story of the evolution of life on earth. Created by Chris Milk & Aaron Koblin, with original music by Pharrell Williams.

The Other Dakar (World Premiere) – Senegal

Project Creator: Selly Raby Kane

Key Collaborators: Electric South, Goethe Institut

A little girl receives a message and discovers the hidden face of Dakar. An homage to Senegalese mythology and a stunningly visual debut from Dakar-based artist and designer Selly Raby Kane, this magical 360 film transports viewers to a place where past and future meet and where artists are the beating heart of the city.

The People’s House (World Premiere) – Canada

Project Creators: Félix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphaël (Felix & Paul Studios)

The People’s House takes you on a historic visit of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House. Through the transportive power of VR, The Obamas take you on an intimate journey inside the West Wing, Executive and Private Residences, reflecting on their time there, and recounting the building’s profound history since its creation over two centuries ago.

The Possible: Hoverboard (Season Finale) – USA

Project Creator: David Gelb

If you could have just one superpower, what would it be? For Alexandru Duru, the answer is obvious: the ability to fly. That’s why he founded Omni Hoverboards, which has transformed hoverboard technology from dream to reality. In “Hoverboard,” you’ll follow his team as they build and test a prototype—then experience the freedom of flight for yourself.

The Protectors: Walk in The Ranger’s Shoes (World Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Kathryn Bigelow, Imraan Ismail

From Academy Award-winning director Katheryn Bigelow and acclaimed VR creator Imraan Ismail, The Protectors chronicles a day in the life of the rangers in Garamba National Park. These rangers are often the last line of defense in a race against the poachers intent on slaughtering elephants for their ivory tusks. The rangers face constant danger and even death, at the service of these sentient, noble creatures.

Becky (skunk) peeks over shrubbery to catch a glimpse of Rainbow Crow
At first glance, Becky is your regular girl-skunk-next-door, bursting with a bubbly, youthful demeanor. But amongst the forest dwellers, she is better known as Rainbow Crow’s biggest fan. Project still from RAINBOW CROW. Cody Gramstad / Baobab Studios, Inc.

Rainbow Crow (World Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Eric Darnell, Maureen Fan, Larry Cutler, Claudia Southmartin, Kane Lee

Key Collaborators: Michael Hutchinson, Nathaniel Dawson

From the Director of Madagascar, Invasion! (Tribeca 2016), and Asteroids! comes Baobab Studio’s latest visionary VR animation. The carefree forest animals imagine spring will last forever. However, winter comes and the animals soon realize that their lives are in danger. What they need is a hero; what they need is Rainbow Crow. Step inside a moving, soon-to-be classic, musical experience for all ages.

You and Arielle look on as an alien ship comes in for a landing. Project still from REMEMBER: REMEMBER.

Remember: Remember (World Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Kevin Cornish

If our minds are a map of every memory we’ve had, what do we become if those memories are stripped away? In this cinematic, room-scale VR experience set against the backdrop of an alien invasion, you are a prisoner being brainwashed by a lost love. As you cycle through your memories, the two of you begin to question what is real and what is imagined.

Sergeant James (North American Premiere) – France

Project Creator: Alexandre Perez

Key Collaborators: Avi Amar

It’s Leo’s bedtime, but he thinks there is something under his bed. Is it just the harmless imagination of a young boy, or something more sinister? Is it…you? From director Alexandre Perez, Sergeant James recaptures the innocence of youth, the wonder of the unknown, and the folly of fear, while hinting at a far creepier possibility.

A project still from STEP TO THE LINE.

Step to the Line (New York Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Ricardo Laganaro

Key Collaborators: Defy Ventures/ Oculus VR for Good

Shot entirely on location in a California maximum security prison, Step to the Line is a documentary that aims to provoke a transformation in the spectator’s eyes about prisoners, the prison system, and even themselves. In this project, we see how release from incarceration can be just as jarring as intake and how parallel lives diverge when someone serves time.

Sword of Baahubali (New York Premiere) – India

Project Creator: SS Rajamouli, Arka Mediaworks

Key Collaborators: Radeon Technologies Group & CNCPT LA

Two friends find themselves on a battlefield, as the armies of Bhalladeva and Shivudu are set to charge into battle. As they watch the action unfold, they are unexpectedly asked to participate. Their mission – to find a legendary warrior’s sword and deliver it to him, ensuring victory.  Based on S.S. Rajamouli’s World of Baahubali, India’s biggest movie franchise.

Talking With Ghosts (World Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Ric Carrasquillo, Roman Muradov, Sophia Foster-Dimino, Maria Yi

Key Collaborators:  Wesley Allsbrook, Matthew Chadwick, Sebastien Chevrel, Tauni Oxborrow, Saschka Unseld.

Talking With Ghosts is the next wave of emerging art in the field of Illustrative VR. Following the success of Dear Angelica, Oculus Story Studio decided to enhance its painting app Quill with comic-like storytelling functionality, enabling anyone to tell their own illustrative stories in VR. The resulting works are called Quill Stories and Talking With Ghosts is a compilation of the very first of their kind, entirely painted and told in VR by four remarkable artists. Made in collaboration with Oculus Story Studios.

Testimony (World Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Zohar Kfir

Key Collaborators: Selena Pinnell

Recent events have dramatically shifted the conversation around sexual abuse in the United States. Despite persistent victim-shaming and the discounting of their experiences, abuse survivors are increasingly coming forward, empowering one another to become agents of change. Testimony is an interactive documentary presenting the narrative accounts of sexual abuse survivors, using virtual reality to engage viewers with an intimate, motion-driven interface.

Tree overlooking the splendors of nature from the highest point in the canopy. Project still from TREE. Photo credit: Jakob Kudsk Steensen. 

Tree (New York Premiere) – USA

Project Creator: Milica Zec, Winslow Porter

Key Collaborators: Aleksandar Protic, Jakob Kudsk Steensen

See and feel what it is like to become a tree in this haptically enhanced VR experience. With your arms as the branches and your body as the trunk, you experience the growth from a seedling to its fullest form, taking on its role in the majestic rain forest and witnessing its fate firsthand.

Neuron Forest. Project still from UNREST. Credit: Sylvain Sarrailh.

Unrest (World Premiere) – France/USA

Project Creator: Arnaud Colinart, Jennifer Brea, Amaury La Burthe

Key Collaborators: Diana Barrett (Fledgling Fund), Lindsey Dryden (Little By Little Films)

From the award-winning team behind Notes On Blindness, Unrest allows audiences to access the world of chronic illness and disability in an exploratory, user-led experience. Based on the documentary film of the same name, the project draws upon sensory meditations on pain, fatigue, and neurosensory symptoms, and allows the public a visceral personal experience of a hard-to-understand condition.


STORYSCAPES

The 2017 Storyscapes selections include six projects from four countries, three of the projects are world premieres. One project will be selected by a jury to receive the Storyscapes Award, presented by AT&T, which recognizes groundbreaking approaches in storytelling and technology.

Moe Black from Waffle Crew dances in the Litefeet style made famous through unsanctioned performances on NYC trains.

Blackout (World Premiere)

Project Creators: Scatter: Alexander Porter, Yasmin Elayat, James George, Mei-Ling Wong

Key Collaborators: Hannah Jayanti

Blackout is an ongoing participatory, volumetric VR project gathering the reflections of real people living in today’s tense political climate through the lens of the New York subway. By creating a rotating, ‘crowd-sourced’ cast, Blackout addresses the impossible task of representing the extraordinary breadth of human experience in New York City. Each viewing of Blackout is different, surrounding you with a unique group of straphangers taking you to the places their minds go between destinations.

Draw Me Close (World Premiere)

Project Creator: Jordan Tannahill

Canadian playwright-director Jordan Tannahill partners with the National Theatre and the National Film Board of Canada to create Draw Me Close, a vivid memoir about his relationship with his mother in the wake of her terminal cancer diagnosis. Collapsing the worlds of live performance and animation to create an unforgettable encounter between a mother and her son, Draw Me Close tells the story of their past and what is to be their future. This special presentation is a world premiere of the first chapter of Draw Me Close.

The Island of the Colorblind.In the late eighteenth century a catastrophic typhoon swept over Pingelap, a tiny atoll in the Pacific Ocean. One of the sole survivors, the king, carried the rare achromatopsia-gen that causes complete colorblindness. The king went on to have many children and as time passed by, the hereditary condition affected the isolated community and most islanders started seeing the world in black and white.Achromatopsia is characterized by extreme light sensitivity, poor vision, and complete inability to distinguish colors. Achromats in Federated States of Micronesia adapt to their reduced level of visual functioning (due lack of recourses like sunglasses and tinted lenses) by using visual strategies such as blinking, squinting, shielding their eyes, or positioning themselves in relation to light sources.Portraying the islanders that by their fellow Micronesians are described as ‘blind’ resulted in a conceptual selection of images that mask their eyes, their face, or their ‘vision’ and at the same time invites the viewer to enter a dreamful world painted by colorless and colorful possibilities. Color is just a word to those who cannot see it. What if the colorblind people paint with their mind, how would they color the world, the trees, themselves. Initiating my visual research in FSM I tried to find ways to envision how people with achromatopsia see the world. I tried to see the island through their eyes. Daylight is to bright to bear, moonlight turns night into day, colors dance around in shades we cannot imagine. Imagine flames lighting up in black and white, trees turning pink, waves of grey. A rainbow revisited. The islanders often refer to green as their favourite color, growing up in a lush environment, living in the jungle. But green is also the color that the most common kind of colorblindness (deutaranomaly, five out of 100 males) can’t distinguish. I learned that the color the islanders say to ‘see’ most is red. I photog

The Island of the Colorblind (International Premiere)

Project Creator: Sanne de Wilde

Key Collaborators: IDFA DocLab, de Brakke Grond

What does color mean to those who can’t see it? In the late eighteenth century a catastrophic typhoon swept over Pingelap, a tiny atoll in the Pacific Ocean. One of the few survivors carried a rare gene that causes achromatopsia, a condition that includes the inability to distinguish colors. Over generations, the islanders ended up perceiving their world in black and white. The Island of the Colorblind invites the audience to explore this shift in perception through de Wilde’s photography and an interactive installation

 

The Last Goodbye (World Premiere)

Project Creators: Gabo Arora, Ari Palitz

Key Collaborators: Stephen Smith, Here Be Dragons, MPC, Otoy, LightShed and USC Shoah Foundation

In July of 2016, Holocaust survivor Pinchas Gutter toured the Majdanek Concentration Camp in what he vowed would be his final visit. By marrying a stereo video capture of Pinchas within a photoreal roomscale experience, The Last Goodbye reaches profound levels of immersion in service of the first ever VR testimony that will be archived and preserved. The importance of listening to Pinchas’ story is more important now than ever and this is also a beautiful testament to love, compassion and the human spirit.

NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism (New York Premiere)

Project Creators: Hyphen-Labs – Ashley Baccus-Clark, Carmen Aguilar y Wedge, Ece Tankal, Nitzan Bartov

Imagined futures and contemporary realities come together in NeuroSpeculative AfroFeminism, a multidisciplinary exploration of women of color’s experience through the lens of technology, society and culture. The project includes speculative products, immersive experiences and neuroscientific research. In the VR experience, discover the neurocosmetology lab, a kind of beauty salon, where instead of ordinary braids, customers are fitted with transcranial electrodes that allow access to a surreal alternate world.

Giant Sequoia. Project still from TREEHUGGER: WAWONA. Image credit: Marshmallow Laser Feast.

TREEHUGGER: WAWONA (North American Premiere)

Project Creator: Marshmallow Laser Feast

Key Collaborators: Natan Sinigaglia, Mileece I’Anson, Cinekid Foundation, STRP, Southbank Centre and Migrations

TREEHUGGER : WAWONA is an interactive installation that combines today’s cultural hunger for beautiful immersive experiences with art, science, data, environmentalism and technology. Centered on a vast sculpture of a giant redwood tree, the viewer dons a VR headset, places their head into the tree’s knot and is transported into its secret inner world. The longer someone hugs the tree, the deeper they drift into treetime: a hidden dimension that lies just beyond the limit of our senses.