World Narrative Feature Competition
All In (La Suerte En Tus Manos), directed by Daniel Burman, written by Daniel Burman and Sergio Dubcovsky. (Argentina) – International Premiere. Professional poker player Uriel has been on a real hot streak—with the ladies—since his marriage fizzled out. But in between growing his online gambling business and helping to raise his kids, Uriel has rediscovered his old pre-marriage flame, Gloria…. Starring the great Valeria Bertuccelli (XXY) and Oscar®-winning songwriter Jorge Drexler, this romantic comedy from Daniel Burman (Lost Embrace) unfolds in the acclaimed director’s signature style: poignant, natural, and bitingly funny. In Spanish with subtitles.
Beyond the Hill (Tepenin Ardi), directed and written by Emin Alper. (Turkey, Greece) – North American Premiere. Faik, a proud old forester, is having trouble with nomads grazing their livestock on his land. For revenge, he and his hulking farm hand Mehmet snatch a goat to butcher for a family holiday, unwittingly sparking a dire blood feud. Debuting Turkish director Emin Alper creates an atmosphere of skin-crawling terror in this psychological drama by withholding, not showing, the escalating acts of violence that hurtle these feuding farmers toward a shocking confrontation. In Turkish with subtitles.
First Winter, directed and written by Benjamin Dickinson. (USA) – World Premiere. In this extraordinary debut feature, a blackout of apocalyptic proportions strands a group of Brooklyn hipsters in a remote country farmhouse with no heat and no electricity during the coldest winter on record. At first, it’s all sex and drugs and acoustic guitars. But as the days go on and the food supply dwindles, struggles of power, jealousy, and desire threaten the group’s ability to work together in order to survive.
The Girl, directed and written by David Riker. (USA, Mexico) – World Premiere. From the director of La Ciudad comes this moving drama about a single mother (Abbie Cornish) caught in emotional quicksand after losing her job and custody of her son. Desperate to earn cash for her custody battle, she makes the daring choice to help smuggle illegal immigrants over the border. A deep connection to a young Mexican girl will take her on a life-changing journey and force her to confront her past. In English, Spanish with subtitles.
Jack and Diane, directed and written by Bradley Rust Gray. (USA) – World Premiere. Tomboy Jack and bubbly Diane fall head over heels in love one hot summer in New York City. When Diane reveals she must leave the city for school in Europe, their budding love is tested. Weaving horror elements into a distinctive and fresh yet timeless and universal first-love story, TFF alum Bradley Rust Gray (The Exploding Girl) brings his unique vision to this idiosyncratic story of the joys and terrors of first love. A Magnolia Pictures release.
Nancy, Please, directed by Andrew Semans, written by Will Heinrich and Andrew Semans. (USA) – World Premiere. Paul’s life is good. He has a gig teaching literature at Yale, and he just moved in with his longtime girlfriend, finally shedding his casually sinister roommate, Nancy. There’s just one thing. Paul left an item of great importance at his old apartment, and Nancy doesn’t want to give it back.… Paul’s life is about to unravel. Debuting director Andrew Semans skillfully orchestrates a minor annoyance into an all-consuming obsession in this smart, stunning psychodrama.
Postcards From the Zoo (Kebun Binatang), directed by Edwin, written by Edwin, Daud Sumolang, and Titien Wattimena. (Indonesia) – North American Premiere. Acclaimed Chinese-Indonesian director Edwin (Blind Pig Who Wants To Fly) returns with a gorgeous, dreamlike fairy tale set inside Jakarta’s wondrous Ragunan Zoo. Abandoned in the zoo as a little girl and raised among the wild menagerie, Lana finally embarks outside the peculiar confines she has always known—and into the seedier side of Jakarta—when she falls in love with a charming magician. In Indonesian with subtitles.
Una Noche, directed and written by Lucy Mulloy. (UK, Cuba, USA) – North American Premiere. Fed up with catering to the privileged tourist class, Cuban teens Raul and Elio are tantalized by the promise of a new life in Miami. Accused of assaulting a foreigner, Raul has no choice but to flee, but Elio must decide whether his own escape is worth abandoning his beloved sister. Brimming with the nervous energy of Havana’s restless youth and evocative cinematography of the sun-bleached capital, Una Noche follows one sweltering day, full of hope and fraught with tensions, that burns to a shocking climax. In Spanish with subtitles. Go HERE for Indiewire’s interview with the filmmakers.
Unit 7 (Grupo 7), directed by Alberto Rodriguez, written by Rafael Cobos and Alberto Rodriguez. (Spain) – International Premiere. Unit 7 is a semi-official police detail with a seemingly impossible mission: kick Seville’s most vicious drug trafficking ring out of town ahead of a major international expo. By any means necessary. As they slip outside the bounds of the law in the name of duty, two officers fueled by violence, lies, and ambition end up on opposing paths. Spanish superstar Mario Casas (Neon Flesh) stars in this adrenaline-pumping action thriller. In Spanish with subtitles.
War Witch (Rebelle), directed and written by Kim Nguyen. (Canada) – North American Premiere, Narrative. At 14, Komona has lived through horrors that eclipse any adult’s worst nightmares. In this mesmerizing, otherworldly drama, shot entirely in the Congo, she confides to the baby growing inside of her the harrowing story of her life since rebel warlords stormed her village. Fortified by eerily mystical powers and the warming friendship of an albino boy, the sensitive girl battles through this dire, war-ravaged world enchained as a child soldier. In French, Lingala with subtitles.
While We Were Here, directed and written by Kat Coiro. (USA) – World Premiere. Jane (Kate Bosworth) and her English husband travel to Naples hoping to reinvigorate their silently disintegrating marriage and escape a personal tragedy that hangs heavily between them. When Jane, facing writer’s block, takes a day trip to a beautiful island off the coast, she meets a young American man living a hermetic life on the island. As the two embark on an unlikely emotional affair, Jane faces some drastic changes in her life.
Yossi (Ha-Sippur Shel Yossi), directed by Eytan Fox, written by Itay Segal. (Israel) – World Premiere. Returning to the role that won him TFF’s Best Actor award in Eytan Fox’s Yossi & Jagger in 2003, Ohad Knoller is extraordinary as Yossi, a closeted gay man living a solitary existence in Tel Aviv. A chance encounter with a group of soldiers ignites Yossi’s desire to live an open, fulfilling life. Written and directed with uncommon honesty and compassion by Fox, this is a deeply moving film about the power of second chances. In Hebrew with subtitles.
World Documentary Feature Competition
Ballroom Dancer, directed and written by Christian Bonke and Andreas Koefoed. (Denmark) – North American Premiere. In 2000, Slavik Kryklyvyy became the World Latin American Dance Champion. Enduring success seemed assured, but instead Slavik’s career sputtered… until redemption seemed possible with his new partner and lover, Anna. But will Slavik’s unwavering ambition prove toxic to their romance? Subtly depicting the pair’s shifting relationship through gestures, glances, and the dance itself, Ballroom Dancer begins as a comeback story and evolves into a movingly intimate tragic romance. In Russian, English with subtitles. Go HERE for Indiewire’s interview with the filmmakers.
Downeast, directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin. (USA) – World Premiere. Gouldsboro, Maine. Hit hard by the closure of the sardine canning factory, its laid-off residents—mostly 70-year-olds—just want to get back to work. So why is Italian immigrant Antonio Bussone having so much trouble getting federal funds to open a new lobster processing plant? Charged with the spirit of a generation that still gives it 110 percent, this poignant and poetic documentary sheds new light on the trying task of putting America back to work.
Fame High, directed and written by Scott Hamilton Kennedy. (USA) – World Premiere. Scott Hamilton Kennedy’s follow-up to his Oscar®-nominated The Garden captures all the drama, competition, heartbreak, and triumph among a group of struggling students at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. From the nail-biting freshman auditions to the spectacular senior graduation performance, this endearing coming-of-age documentary is a tribute to discovering your passion and deciding whether you have the talent to take it to the next level.
The Flat (Ha-dira), directed and written by Arnon Goldfinger. (Israel, Germany) – North American Premiere. At age 98, director Arnon Goldfinger’s grandmother passed away, leaving him the task of clearing out the Tel Aviv flat that she and her husband shared since immigrating to Palestine from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. In this emotionally riveting documentary, Goldfinger follows the hints they left behind in a lifetime’s collection of documents to investigate long-buried family secrets and uncover the mystery of his grandparents’ painful past. In Hebrew, German, English with subtitles.
High Tech, Low Life, directed by Stephen Maing. (USA, China) – World Premiere. With the Chinese government employing 40,000 “internet police,” more than half a million websites are blocked in the country. Local TV stations only publicize “the good news.” The rising tide of censorship has aroused a wave of citizen reporters committed to investigating local news stories and crime scenes. This timely and probing documentary tracks rogue bloggers Zola and Tiger Temple as they risk political persecution to become China’s uncensored eyes and ears. In Mandarin with subtitles.
The List, directed by Beth Murphy. (USA) – World Premiere. After leading rebuilding teams in war-torn cities in Iraq, Kirk Johnson returned to America to establish and advocate for a growing number of Iraqi citizens now targeted by radical militias because they aided the U.S. in the reconstruction effort. TFF alum Beth Murphy (Beyond Belief) creates an affecting portrait of an unlikely but passionate humanitarian who has championed the cause of Iraqi refugees largely ignored by the U.S. government. In English, Arabic with subtitles.
Off Label, directed by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher. (USA) – World Premiere. The term “off-label” refers to the use of pharmaceuticals in any way counter to their prescribed dosage and function. Weaving together the powerful, personal stories of misdiagnosed patients, professional guinea pigs, recreational drug users, and soldiers struggling with PTSD, Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher (October Country) expose the breadth of off-label drug use and take us on an emotional road trip through an overmedicated, misdiagnosed, and drug-addled America.
Planet of Snail, directed by Seung-Jun Yi. (South Korea) – North American Premiere. Deaf and blind, Young-Chan lives in a quiet, isolated world in his small apartment. But when Soon-Ho, an empathetic woman compromised by a spinal disability, comes into his life, a unique love story begins. Poetic and gently paced, Planet of Snail brings to life the sensual world shared by this special couple, and illustrates that the greatest beauty can be found in the smallest and most unlikely love stories. In Korean with subtitles.
The Revisionaries, directed by Scott Thurman, written by Jawad Metni and Scott Thurman. (USA) – World Premiere. Once in a decade, the 15 members of the Texas State Board of Education meet in Austin to revise the textbook standards for five million schoolchildren. Led by Don McLeroy, a Young-Earth Creationist and Evangelical Christian, the panel implements standards that will ultimately go into effect in science and history textbooks for schoolchildren across the nation. The Revisionaries is a galvanizing peek behind the curtain at the politicization of education.
The Virgin, the Copts and Me (La Vierges, les Coptes et Moi), directed by Namir Abdel Messeeh, written by Namir Abdel Messeeh, Nathalie Najem, and Anne Paschetta. (France, Qatar) – North American Premiere. In his feature debut, French-Egyptian filmmaker Namir Abdel Messeeh sets out to investigate the phenomenon of supposedly miraculous Virgin Mary apparitions in Egypt’s Coptic Christian community. But when the secular director faces opposition from skittish producers and his Coptic family, Namir turns the camera on his wonderfully smart-alecky mother and reimagines his film as a touching, uniquely hilarious portrait of family and heritage. In Arabic, French with subtitles.
Wavumba, directed by Jeroen van Velzen, written by Jeroen van Velzen and Sara Kee. (Netherlands) – North American Premiere. Mysticism and color reign in this stunning documentary steeped in the fishermen lore of Kenya. Revisiting a childhood fairy tale of a spirit-filled island with the magic to either bless or curse a fisherman’s journey, Dutch filmmaker Jeroen van Velzen explores his memories via Masoud, a real-life legend of shark fishing. His glory days long gone, Masoud relives his youth through grandiose stories told with swaggering pride and heartbreaking nostalgia. In English, Swahili with subtitles.
The World Before Her, directed by Nisha Pahuja. (Canada) – World Premiere. Weaving together the seemingly opposing stories of the Miss India beauty pageant and a fundamentalist Hindu camp for girls, director Nisha Pahuja illuminates the situation of women across contemporary India, drawing surprising parallels in the way women are perceived and the opportunities that are afforded them in both modernizing and traditional cultures. The World Before Her is a riveting, thoughtful profile of the fundamental contradictions of a country in transition. In English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati with subtitles.