News From Nowhere

The Cinema That Refused to Close

By Noel Lawrence Last month, I flew to Rotterdam to premiere my new film Sammy-Gate​ ​at their storied and sprawling film festival. Much as I enjoyed my stay in the glorious lair of the IFFR Tiger, a filmmaker should never forget where he or she came from. And for the better part of 20 years, that place has been in the bowels of the underground: screening in squats, sleeping on couches, and struggling to achieve one’s cinematic visions in an economy of scarcity. As a filmworker in Hollywood, I forget my roots at times. I make no pretense of bohemian sainthood. But I am nonetheless delighted to see young people taking up the arms that I have laid down. And that brings me to the story of ​La Clef​, a small cinema in the Latin Quarter of Paris. During the festival, a small delegation of theatre volunteers blanketed Rotterdam with pamphlets about their cause. Without going into detail, the owners of the building that housed the cinema planned to sell it. And, more likely than not, the theatre would be replaced by a supermarket or a bank. If this happened somewhere in America, the closure probably would provoke a brief flurry of angry and sad emoji on Facebook. And, after that flurry, the cinema would...

Official Selection of Slamdance 2020

Presenting the Film Programs of Slamdance 2020: NARRATIVE FEATURES 1986 (Germany, Belarus) North American Premiere Director/ Screenwriter: Lothar Herzog While Elena repeatedly has to drive into the 'forbidden zone' of Chernobyl in order to make deals for her father, her life seems more and more contaminated by a destructive force... Cast: Daria Mureeva, Evgeni Sangadzhiev, Vitali Kotovitski, Alexei Filimonov, Helga Filippova, Alexei Kravchenko &nbsp A Dog's Death (Uruguay, France, Argentina) North American Premiere Director: Matías Ganz Veterinarian Mario and his wife Silvia enjoy a bourgeois life in Montevideo but two events will disturb their tranquility. A dog surgery goes wrong for Mario and Silvia discovers retirement. They will be dragged from paranoia to violence and from violence to nonsense. Cast: Guillermo Arengo, Pelusa Vidal, Soledad Gilmet, Lalo Rotaveria, Ruth Sandoval, Ana Katz Beware of Dog (USA, Russia, Germany) World Premiere Director/ Screenwriter: Nadia Bedzhanova Three young adults experience parallel struggles with mental health and identity. In Moscow a woman struggles with severe OCD, while her cousin in Berlin tries to build a romantic relationship ignoring her own mental condition. Meanwhile in New York City, a heartbroken boxer faces addiction and lack of self worth in the aftermath of a break-up. Cast: Marina Vasileva, Buddy Duress, Paula Knüpling, Marina Prados, Kevin Iso, Pavel Tabakov Murmur (Canada)...

sLGBTdance: A Programmer’s Trip Down Queer Indie Lane

By Paul Sbrizzi Let's take a stroll down the crooked old memory lane of SLGBTdance, shall we? And peek in on some of the randy rainbow fare served up over the years by many-gendered alt-queers in the Slamdance trattoria. Lady of the Lake (2003) 2003 was my first year traveling to Park City as a Slamdance programmer. The entire festival staff was shacked up at the sprawling Empire House, where the youngsters would stay up partying until 4AM as I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. It was a great time, though. My friend Gianna was the festival director that year, and it's not like we had favorites, but we just adored Michael Lucid. He was the friendliest, most unassuming guy, and his short puppet movie Lady of the Lake was so gorgeous, heartfelt and funny—a wordless parable of a young gay dreamer who comes to the big city and discovers all its many pleasures and perils. At the Filmmaker Happy Hour, Michael mentioned he also had a web series called Pretty Thingsss, so we put it up on the monitor and it was something completely different: a surreal, ahead-of-its-time comedy with Michael and his friend Amanda playing all the characters. Lady of the Lake didn't win any awards, so the staff got together...

Do I need a website…?

By Sandra Bertalanffy Do I need a website for my feature, short, episodic and myself? As you are preparing to hit the festivals you may be considering whether to print new cards or flyers, invest in a designer, print stickers, t-shirts, come up with a costume or just really any other way to stand out, bring awareness to your film or do anything else slightly resembling marketing activity. That’s all yay. Go for it and go for it good. BUT do consider step 2!  What’s step 2? Well, imagine this scenario: Someone compliments your film (or outfit) and you successfully hand over your printed marketing material (which btw also likes to get lost). Next, your Potentially Interested New Audience Member (“PINAM”) says: “Cool, do you have a website?” URGH. Punch in the lower region. Your body freezes, you mumble something embarrassing somewhat related to “short film,” “budget” or “first project” and PINAM smiles, nods, maybe gives you a another “Cool.” and then walks away. FOREVER! Noooooo!!!! And it could have been such an amazing mutual relationship! That’s why you want to consider step 2.  Step 2, also known as “make its easy for PINAM to find out more about you and give the option to stay connected easily.” So back to “Cool, do you have...

Meet the Artist: Allegra Jones

 Slamdance: Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get into art? Allegra: I’m a half African American, half Italian artist from the Bay Area. I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember & playing music since I was six. When I was young, I frequently felt a little overwhelmed with the world around me. Drawing from life became a way to ease my mind & satisfy an urge to make sense of what was right in front of me. Drawing and music always guided me where I needed to go & were my largest sources of joy/peace. I decided to combine the two by studying Experimental Animation at CalArts. I currently live in LA with my beloved accordion, saxophone, clarinet, organ, & two bunny rabbits. Slamdance: For the first time, our Festival Artist has the exciting task of creating a visual identity for all of Slamdance 2020, since as an organization, Slamdance is expanding into new territory with more events like our Miami festival in May, 2020.  This butterfly portrait is just the first one we’ve unveiled so far for our January festival in Park City. Can you talk a little about this piece and the others you’ve created for us? What inspired them and how do...

The 2019 Award-winning Screenwriters

  Grand Prize & 1st Place Feature The Fall by Michael Lipoma & Tamra Teig East Berlin 1989 - A single mother is forced to become a spy to save her son when he’s framed for murder, and her act of revenge, woven into historic events, leads to the fall of the Berlin Wall. "Our producing partner's uncle was accused of being a KGB agent, and died under suspicious circumstances when he tried to extricate himself to protect his family. We used that as the inspiration and chose another time in history that was filled with espionage--the Cold War world behind the Berlin Wall. As we researched the idea of a mother who's forced to become a spy to save her son, we discovered the real cause of the fall of the Berlin Wall--a communication error. We wove real stories of East Berliners' struggles to free themselves from their oppressive regime into historic events and imagined how these events could have unfolded, through the eyes of single mother trying to keep her children safe behind the Iron Curtain."...

Slamdance DIG Showcase Merges Art, Technology and Immersive Experience at DTLA’s Wisdome

Get Tickets to DIG This October, Slamdance brings its 5th annual DIG (Digital, Interactive & Gaming) showcase to Los Angeles featuring works by emerging visual artists and indie game developers from around the world. DIG will be open to the public October 24-25, 2019 at the Los Angeles Art District’s new immersive art park Wisdome, adding to the city’s rich offerings of interactive art experiences. DIG 2019 features a diverse lineup that explores the breadth of possibilities of new technologies and ways they can be used for creative expression. Projection pieces IMMERSIVE and tx-reverse 360° envelop the viewer from above and take advantage of Wisdome’s unique domed architecture. Cinematic VR documentaries How to Tell a True Immigrant Story and Children Do Not Play War bring Slamdance’s strong background in supporting cutting-edge filmmaking into new frontiers of film technology. An AI-generated new album, Chain Tripping, from LA based electro pop duo YACHT, and a reinterpretation of Hitchcock classic Vertigo are among projects exploring the creative possibilities of artificial intelligence. The diverse program also features interactive experimental dance, indie games, social AR filters, and a brain-wave generated musical performance.   Slamdance will also be previewing a selection of DIG works at Mobile World Congress in collaboration with 4YFN on October 23 and 24. This collaboration with 4YFN...

2019 Screenplay Competition Results

The Top 12 Scripts of 2019   Grand Prize The Fall by Tamra Teig & Michael Lipoma Feature 1st: The Fall by Tamra Teig & Michael Lipoma 2nd: Margo & Perry by Becca Roth  3rd: Cherries by Matt Sadowski & Amelia Wasserman   Horror 1st: Cherry by Jordan Prosser 2nd: Into the Trees by Matt O’Connor  3rd: They Live on Skid Row by RJ Daniel Hanna Pilot 1st: Bitterroot by Maria Hinterkoerner & Kayne Gorney 2nd: American Infamy by Evan Iwata 3rd: Devil’s Garden by Steve Wang   Short 1st: Dig Deeper by by Girault Seger 2nd: Dunked by John Bickerstaff 3rd: Hawk Bells by Kristian Mercado   Semifinalists Feature Art In Tandem by Elizabeth Blackmer Cherries by Matt Sadowski & Amelia Wasserman The Fall by Tamra Teig & Michael Lipoma It’s Christmas, Where in the Fucking Fuck is Daryl?! (Um…it’s a Working Title) by Sean Kohnen & Matthew Kohnen Joppatown Hustle by Michael Mirabella Jungle by Sophie Webb & Pete Carboni Margo & Perry by Becca Roth Oh Mists, My Mists by Guilherme Viegas Punch Drunk by Brian Bourque   Horror Cherry by Jordan Prosser They Live on Skid Row by RJ Daniel Hanna Into the Trees by Matt O’Connor Open House by Sean J.S. Jourdan & John Ingle The Shepherd by Jorge Sermini & Nicole Elmer...

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Reframe: Kelly Sears & Sam Gurry in Conversation

Filmmakers Kelly Sears and Sam Gurry are 2019 Slamdance alumni who create innovative and powerful films by repurposing and reframing found imagery and objects. Kelly's film Applied Pressure, features sequential images sourced from dozens of massage books activated to reflect on recent public conversation surrounding bodies, massage, and assault. Sam's animated documentary, Winners Bitch, was inspired by a found collection of photos and documents belonging to Virginia Hampton, a real life doyenne of the dog competition world, and ruminates on the many sacrifices it can take to be a woman of distinction. We invited them to chat about about their work and the ways they create new meaning in the materials they find around them.   Kelly Sears:  It's great to watch all your work together!  I love getting a sense that questions or approaches become more pronounced through watching multiple works.  Here are some thoughts and musings and let's use this as a first step to see where our conversation goes.  We can make space for questions to questions and responses to responses. Sam Gurry: Thanks for watching my films! Likewise, it was lovely getting to be so engrossed in your world, Kelly. It’s interesting watching all of your pieces together and feeling certain manifestations throughout. I feel like I know you better now somehow. ...

We Stole a Movie

By Max Wilde Like probably all of you, my life is plagued with older professionals who tell me to “grow up,” “be realistic,” and “always have a dream,” but “understand that a realistic career comes first,” etc etc. Don't listen to them. Fuck dreams. We don't dream of making movies. We find ways to make them now, with the help of friends with empty couches, food stamps, and broken laws. I’m here to argue for the possibility of film outside its industry form, not only as an accessible and immediately doable alternative (for people who hate being an employee as much as I do), but more importantly as a form that has specific and crucial advantages over the financed, professionally staffed, and strictly standardized film producing technique. I think it's important you know that approximately one and a half food service jobs were quit to make A Great Lamp. A Great Lamp is a DIY movie made by 7 friends with no budget or resources. If you want to check it out, shoot me an email at maxkazaam@protonmail.com and I’ll give you a link. Having said that, you don’t need to watch it to read this piece and understand what is being said here. Seeing the film being referenced is mostly useful for the reader who...

Screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney on ‘High Flying Bird’

  Tarell Alvin McCraney is an award winning screenwriter and playwright. He cowrote the screenplay for 2016’s Moonlight, based on his original play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Tarell most recently wrote the screenplay for High Flying Bird, directed by Steven Soderbergh. High Flying Bird had its world premiere at the 25th Slamdance Film Festival in January 2019 and was later released by Netflix.  Tarell talks to Slamdance co-founder Peter Baxter about his influences, working with Steven Soderbergh, being a black artist in the industry, and how the sports world that High Flying Bird depicts has played a role in the way American society commodifies black bodies for capitalist gain....

2019 Slamdance Award Winners

Dollhouse: The Eradication of Female Subjectivity from American Popular Culture Directed by Nicole Brending – Narrative Feature  Grand Jury Prize & Spirit of Slamdance Award 1 Kifaru Directed by David Hambridge – Documentary Feature Grand Jury Prize & Audience Award 1 The Vast of Night Directed by Andrew Patterson – Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature 1 Ski Bum: The Warren Miller Story Directed by Patrick Creadon – Best of Breakouts Audience Award 1 Cat Sticks Directed by Ronny Sen – Narrative Feature Honorable Mention 1 Markie in Milwaukee Directed by Matt Kliegman – Documentary Feature Honorable Mention 1 Woman in Stall Directed by Madeleine Sims-Fewer & Dusty Mancinelli – Narrative Short Grand Jury Prize 1 Tungrus Directed by Rishi Chandna –  Documentary Short Grand Jury Prize 1 Las Del Diente Directed by Ana Perez Lopez – Documentary Short Honorable Mention 1 Wayward Emulsions Directed by Tina Takemoto – Experimental Short Grand Jury Prize 1 Applied Pressure Directed by Kelly Sears –  Experimental Short Honorable Mention 1 Shalva (Tranquility) Directed by Danna Windsor – Animation Short Grand Jury Prize 1 Siyabonga Majola (We Are Thankful) Slamdance Acting Award 1 Aya Kitai (Demolition Girl) Slamdance Acting Award Honorable Mention 1 Lauren McCune (Ready for Love) Slamdance Acting Award Honorable Mention 1 East of The River Directed by Hannah Peterson...

Why Come to Slamdance?

Slamdance Alumni share their experiences and tips for visiting Park City Ah…Park City in late January. It’s freezing cold, it’s the middle of Utah, and everything’s super expensive. But for just a couple of weeks, the town swells with filmmakers, film lovers, press, industry folks and celebrities. The potential for opportunities when you have a group of people like this gathered together in a small, freezing cold ski town… are endless. If your film is selected to screen at Slamdance, there are a million reasons to brave the cold, start another crowdfund, book an international flight and do whatever it takes to get yourself to Park City. Here are some first hand insights and advice on why you should come and how to navigate the experience, from Slamdance alumni who’ve done it before. Because it’s worth the effort. Icy outside, warm inside. As a foreign (French here) filmmaker, the idea to go to Park City was a bit daunting. It’s far; it’s cold; distances and accessibility seemed somewhat uncertain… but having attended, I must say that the result was worth the effort. By far one of the most communal, immersive and genuinely cinephilic festivals I’ve experienced. As a filmmaker going to Park City, you get the very nuanced impression that you don’t merely attend Slamdance but that you...

Gina Prince-Bythewood & Tina Mabry on Mentorship

How to Turn Your Idol into Your Mentor into Your Collaborator Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Love and Basketball”, “Shots Fired”) and Tina Mabry (“Mississippi Damned”, “Queen Sugar”) are unstoppable forces on the rise — writing, producing, and directing for TV and film while mentoring the next generation of filmmaking talent. Gina premiered an early short film at Slamdance in 1998 (“Bowl of Pork”, starring Dave Chappell) before her breakout first feature “Love and Basketball”. The film that redefined sports films and broke new ground on how women and people of color are depicted onscreen inspired Tina Mabry to abandon her LSATs and apply for film school. Tina’s 2009 debut feature “Mississippi Damned” (starring Tessa Thompson with cinematography by Oscar nominee Bradford Young) won Gina’s admiration and respect and the two filmmakers have since become mentor/mentee, friends, colleagues, and are now collaborating on an upcoming film. Both Slamdance alums, they came to our offices to discuss their experiences navigating the industry with all its highs and lows, and offered some valuable wisdom for fellow filmmakers. Listen to their conversation in it’s entirety or read some highlights below. “I mean, making a good movie is hard. Getting a movie made is a miracle.” Tina on meeting Gina after watching “Love and Basketball” and stalking her for years: Tina: The first time we...

What the heck does it take to get my film into Slamdance?

Tips and Insights from Slamdance Festival Programmers We know the festival submission process can seem pretty mysterious and we want to make submitting to Slamdance a little more transparent. As our motto proclaims, we are filmmakers here to help fellow filmmakers. Most of us are alumni of the festival who have been in your shoes—confused and nervous about navigating the festival circuit with our first films. Somehow, through some combination of grit and magic, we are now on the other side as Slamdance programmers! We’ve been there, and we’ve been here, and we want to help. How programming works at Slamdance We’re all filmmakers and we’re all volunteers. Almost all of us have screened films at Slamdance. Every film submitted is watched in its entirety by at least two different programmers. We have around 150 programmers from throughout the US and around the world. They are watching your online screeners at their convenience from wherever they are in the world. Every programmer has an equal voice. We don’t have lower tier screeners acting as gatekeepers. 100% of films selected come from our submissions pool. We don’t make promises to friends or celebrities. They have to submit just like everybody else. After every film is watched and scored at least twice, our programming teams meet in...

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