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Cannes 2023 – Special Issue

Indie Entertainment Media is proud to unveil its 2023 Cannes special issue, featuring a story on this year’s Jury President Ruben Östlund by Lena Basse, an exclusive interview with Bobby Colomby and John Scheinfeld on the new documentary What The Hell Happened To Blood, Sweat & Tears?, a piece about the legacy of the Festival de Cannes by Claude Brickell, a spotlight on FilmHedge founder Jon Gosier, an event recap of Jonathan Baker’s annual Oscar  soirée, interviews with Global Entertainment Showcase panelists Diana Madison, Chadwick Pelletier and Viviane Winthrop; filmmaker Danny A. Abeckaser’s  Marché du Film offerings, the official program of the fifth annual French Riviera Film Festival, and much more. And, we simply adore our original cover artwork by New York artist Cindy Shaoul. See you on the Croisette!

– Nicole Goesseringer Muj, Editor-In-Chief

Oscars 2023 Special Edition

IEM’s 2023 Academy Awards Issue is themed “Elvis is Oscar,” featuring a front cover and photo essay celebrating the King of Rock ‘n Roll, starring Jonathan Baker and Dustin Quick. with photographs by Eric Minh Swenson and Tshombe Sampson. The issue also features an interview with Oscar nominee Cate Blanchett by Lena Basse; interviews by yours truly with nominees Kim Magnusson (Ivalu), Cyrus Neshvad (The Red Suitcase), and EO producer Eileen Tasca; a special tribute to iconic actor Paul Sorvino, an editorial by Claude Brickell titled ‘My Policeman: Linear vs. Non-Linear Storytelling’; and a spotlight on legendary fashion designer Sue Wong’s recent party to unveil her Palazzo Marrakesh. We hope you enjoy!

– Nicole Goesseringer Muj, Editor-in-Chief. IEM

Indie Entertainment Media – Oscars 2022 Special Edition

Oscar is alive and well, and this year…. she’s a woman! IEM’s awards issue showcases the “Oscar is a Woman”-themed cover photo shoot featuring Hollywood director/producer Jonathan Baker and international model Erika Stasiuleviciute. Baker has opened his mansion doors once again this year for his annual viewing soirée, collaborating with IEM and French Riviera Film Festival. Also in the issue is an exclusive interview with Danish director Martin Strange-Hansen, nominated for his live action short film “On My Mind,” a sneak peek at artist’s Eva Lanska’s new installation “The Existential Choice,” and a feature by Claude Brickell on architect to the stars Paul R. Williams. The issue also highlights the Women Filmmakers Showcase event taking place on the afternoon before the big day. The event features Morgan Dameron, Anna Fishbeyn, Peggy McCartha, Tracy Vicory-Rosenquest and Dee Wallace, with award-winning filmmaker Sue Vicory as moderator.

– Editor-In-Chief, Nicole Goesseringer Muj

Indie Entertainment Media – Sundance Film Festival 2022 Special Edition

Friends, I’m delighted to unveil our annual Park City festival edition of Indie Entertainment Media. The issue honors some of those talented individuals we sadly lost recently, including a bittersweet article by Lena Basse about her friend  Jean-Marc Vallée, exclusive interviews with NY-based artist Cindy Shaoul and Vietnamese-American director  Mai Thu Huyen, a photo essay spotlighting Las Vegas by Eric Minh Swenson, a feature on the new film Cyrano by Dr. Laura Wilhelm, Claude Brickell’s wisdom on scriptwriting, and of course, our annual  Après-ski gift guide. Also featured are the wonderful participants of the 5th annual Indie Entertainment Showcase that will be held virtually on Saturday, January 22 at 11 am MT/ 10 am PT.  

– Editor-In-Chief, Nicole Muj

Indie Entertainment Magazine Cannes Film Festival 2019 Edition

La main au collet, TO CATCH A THIEF, de AlfredHitchcock avec Cary Grant, Grace Kelly, 1955 (sur la Cote d'Azur, french riviera) Swimsuit Swimming shorts

Indie Entertainment Magazine is pleased to unveil its second annual special Cannes Film Festival Edition. Print edition to be distributed throughout Cannes.
Here’s a sneak peek:

Indie Entertainment Magazine – Sundance Film Festival 2019

John Cho attends the Kia Supper Suite | Photo by Thomas Concordia/Getty Images for Kia)

A sneak peek at the special digital edition of Indie Entertainment Magazine | Sundance Edition 2019.

“Calladita” Presented by Steven Soderbergh, Directed by Miguel Faus, Co-Produced by Roman Coppola’s Decentralized Pictures to Debut on New Independent Film Platform, Bingeable

Paula Grimaldo as ‘Ana’
Paula Grimaldo as ‘Ana’

Calladita, presented by Steven Soderbergh, is set to debut exclusively on July 23, 2024 in North America on the new film and television platform, Bingeable. Calladita is a Spanish-language feature film produced by Calladita Films, Potenza Producciones, and Decentralized Pictures, the Blockchain studio co-founded by Roman Coppola.

Miquel Faus and Steven Soderbergh

Calladitais the first feature film to debut on Bingeable, a platform that enables anyone, including stars, influencers, charities, and fans, to market and sell rentals and downloads of premium entertainment projects directly to their social media followers and get paid on every sale they generate.  Calladita will be available for rental on July 23, 2024 on the filmmaker’s own Bingeable-powered Individual Video on Demand (iVOD) channel at bingeable.net/calladita, and through iVOD channel owners across the country.

With Hollywood at a crossroads, Bingeable aims to offer filmmakers and producers an alternative way to market and sell their films. “Calladita is the perfect project to show what can happen when you harness the power of community,” said Bingeable Founder and Co-CEO Stephen Murray. “By empowering individuals to sell the film directly to their followers on social media, we reduce the cost of marketing and eliminate the complex network of middlemen who take the majority of the revenue. The traditional model tends to make it virtually impossible for films like this to be profitable. But filmmakers and producers are screaming for a change. We want to be a part of that.”

Stephen Murray

Calladita is the debut feature film from Miguel Faus, who was named by Variety as one of the top 10 Spanish Director to Watchby Variety in 2021. (https://variety.com/2021/film/global/10-cineastes-from-spain-berlin-efm-1234919275/) Faus explains his film tackles “issues related to class differences and injustices from a satirical portrait of the Catalan upper middle class. The bitterness of immigration injustice and the sweetness of class revenge  is universal and I hope the film’s rebellious energy resonates with the North American audience.” 

Thesatirical drama, written and directed by Faus, stars Paula Grimaldo, in a star-making turn, and features Ariadna Gil (Pan’s Labyrinth), Luis Bermejo, Pol Hermoso, Violeta Rodriguez, and Nany Tovar.  In the film, under the promise of receiving immigration papers, Ana works tirelessly for a wealthy family at their luxurious vacation home in the Spanish Costa Brava. After learning they have no intention of fulfilling their promise, Ana plots her escape… and her own form of revenge. 

Decentralized Pictures connected Faus with Academy Award-winning director and producer Steven Soderbergh as part of their mission to discover and empower new talent. 

The company’s co-founder Roman Coppola comments, “We are excited for North American audiences to discover Miguel Faus’s unique film, Calladita, one of the first feature films supported by Decentralized Pictures and a departure from the traditional way movies are financed, produced, marketed and sold. We hope that it will be the blueprint of an alternative path for independent filmmakers around the world.” 

Roman Coppola

Calladita premiered at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) in November 2023 as an official selection. Its festival run also included screenings at the 27th Málaga Film Festival and the Riviera International Film Festival where it won for Best Film. The film was released theatrically in Spain on May 17, 2024. The official Los Angeles premiere will take place at the iconic Harmony Gold Theatre on July 15th with an invite-only celebration to follow.

Calladita was financed by a crowdfunding campaign through the sale of NFTs, created by Faus himself, which raised more than 750,000 €. Calladita is the first film to be released that was financed in this way. It was then selected as a finalist for the Andrews/Bernard Financing Award on the DCP platform, a post-production award backed by Steven Soderbergh.  Soderbergh selected Calladita as the winner and presented the award to Faus himself at Film3 On The Mountain, which took place during the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Jim Cummings (The Beta Test, The Last Stop in Yuma County) serves as executive producer on the film. 

The new film and television platform Bingeable enables anyone – including stars, influencers, charities, and fans – to market and sell rentals and downloads of premium entertainment projects directly to their social media followers and get paid on every sale they generate.

About Decentralized Pictures (DCP) – An American foundation whose mission is to discover new filmmaking talent. They have created a fund to finance films democratically, so that decisions are made based on the votes and criticisms of their open community of moviegoers, creators and industry professionals. DCP was co-founded by Roman Coppola, Leo Matchett and Mike Musante the former head of production at  American Zoetrope (“The Godfather”, “Lost in Translation”), the independent studio created by Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas in 1969 and now headed by Roman, Sofia and Gia Coppola, who are also on the Board of Directors of Decentralized Pictures. DCP is a co-producer on “Calladita” as a result of the award given by Steven Soderbergh through the foundation. 

About Potenza Producciones – Founded in 2004 by Goya-nominated producer, actor and director Carlo D’Ursi. Among its 25 titles produced, highlights include “La memoria del agua” (Venice Film Festival), “Diamantes Negros (Malaga Film Festival Audience Awards), “Jefe” (Netflix original and Goya nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay). His latest film, “Portrait of a white woman with gray hair and wrinkles”, starring Blanca Portillo, premiered at the Shanghai International Film Festival and his latest short film “Yalla”, directed by Carlo D’Ursi himself, won the Forqué Award for Best Short Film and was nominated for a Goya for Best Fiction Short Film. In 2022 he is producing the documentaries “La revolución de las musas” and “Contigo, contigo, sin mi”, a Film Academy Resident project.

About Calladita Films – A production company founded by Miguel Faus in 2022 to finance and produce his debut feature, Calladita. In March 2022 it launched a pioneering campaign to finance the film through the sale of stills from the original short film, in NFT format. In a few months the funding goals were achieved, raising more than 750,000€, and in September 2022 Calladita  was shot for 5 weeks on location on the Costa Brava. Having become a leading production company at the crossroads of cinema and Web 3.0, after producing the first European film financed through NFTs, Calladita Films intends to continue exploring this innovative way of financing independent films.

About amp&go –amp&go is an end-to-end platform and agency for performance-driven talent & influencer marketing, connecting brands to the best influencers from around the globe & empowering their clients to activate any channel, audience, or demographic through their team of global experts. 

amp&go strategize, manage, and execute marketing campaigns to boost ROI and drive business growth. Over the years they have worked with tens of thousands of influencers, and hundreds of companies from small start-ups, to Fortune 500 businesses offering scalable, performance based programs. 

With a full suite of talent based marketing capabilities they have become a break-out solution within the space.’

About Disrupt3rs – Disrupt3rs unleashes creative freedom by empowering creators with business acumen and tech tools. Creating a future where artists maintain ownership and control of their ventures.

About Bingeable – Bingeable’s goal is to offer an alternative to the faltering, centralized entertainment industry. Bingeable’s platform enables anyone to market & sell new films & TV shows directly to their social media followers and get paid every time one of them rents, buys or watches. Bingeable allows everyone to earn in dollars-one gross revenue. By offering stakeholders access to Bingeable’s completely transparent, Blockchain-powered accounting system, filmmakers, financiers, and affiliates can know that they are being paid accurately and fairly. Led by founders and Co-CEO’s Stephen Murray and Brad Joyce, Bingeable’s executive team also includes digital strategy veteran Todd Lowe as Chief Marketing Officer and Jonathan Keltz (Acquainted, Nine Films About Technology, Entourage) as President of Content. bingeable.net

Photos courtesy of Calladita/Bingeable

‘The Man Who Saved the Internet with a Sunflower’ Takes Home Competition Features Audience Award at Dances With Films 2024

Ori Yardeni‘s feature film The Man Who Saved the Internet with a Sunflower, the true story of American entrepreneur Rob Ryan, was awarded the prestigious Competition Features Audience Award at the closing ceremony of Dances With Films 2024, held yesterday evening at TCL Theatres in Hollywood.

Ori & Irit Yardeni

The film had its world premiere on Friday, June 28, 2024, at 9:30 pm PST during Dances With Films, held from June 20-30th, 2024.

The film recounts the dramatic story of Rob Ryan, the ultimate entrepreneur, who saved the Internet from collapsing in the 1990s, transformed the lives of all of us in every field, and today is trying to save the Internet from itself. 

“It’s an unbelievable story, about a formula for personal success that can be replicated by any entrepreneur, in any field.   The fact that the audience chose our movie as the favorite feature film at the festival proves that when you tell a real good story without cinematic effects and tricks, on a topic that concerns each of the viewers, the audience will connect with it,” comments Yardeni. 

He adds, “This is a film that does not come only to entertain, but to give each of the viewers a gift of life, a real and applicable tool for real and imperfect people.”

Joining Ori and Irit Yardeni at a special reception held prior to the world premiere were Rob and Terry Ryan, former Apple CFO Joseph A. Graziano and his wife Betty Graziano, E! founder Larry Namer, South Carolina Congressman JA Moore, and many others, including distributors and media.

Larry Namer with Rob & Terry Ryan

The first in a planned trilogy, the captivating dramedy explores the future of technology and humanity, delving into the untold story of Ryan, an innovative engineer and mentor whose Sunflower Code, a decision-making formula and tool to discover one’s true vocation, revolutionized the Internet and continues to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs.

A brilliant mathematician with a tumultuous job history in Silicon Valley including winning Intel engineer of the year award for the standardization of the early Ethernet. After resigning from Intel, he founded the world largest innovative videoconferencing venture. Despite its roaring success, investors demanded a fresh product. In response, Ryan birthed the Sunflower Code, and he and his team rallied to rescue the Internet during its downturn in the 1990s. After making the company public, Ryan faced termination, yet the business fetched a staggering 24 billion dollars. Undeterred, Ryan harnessed the Sunflower Code to spawn three powerhouse companies, clinching the prestigious Silicon Vally Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Today, he is a mentor to young entrepreneurs and is dedicated to combating online challenges, including bullying, fake news and AI threats.

The feature, filmed in Serbia during the pandemic, stars British actor Martin Delaney (Zero Dark Thirty, Flags Of Our Fathers, Beowulf and Grendel, Now You See Me 2) in the role of Rob Ryan, with Leo Hatton as Ryan’s wife Terry (H&M by Wes Anderson), as well as Troy Hewitt (Rye Lane), Michael Curran-Dorsano (Django, The Last Ship), and Sophie Hopkins (Dr. Who’s spin-off Class from BBC).

Global media entrepreneur and creator Ori Yardeni co-directed the film and co-wrote its screenplay. Not only a filmmaker or entrepreneur, Yardeni is known as the ‘stORIteller,’ who weaves fantastical worlds and impactful narratives with cutting-edge technology. Yardeni is most recognized for his innovative work in the field of immersive cinema, including making 700 different 3D, 4D, 6D movies, Interactive Cinema and Imageless Cinema. He has received several awards for his films and has registered 45 innovations in the field of media and technology. Yardeni has also created License to Dream, a collaboration with Ryan, to equip teenagers with the tools and mindset to become successful entrepreneurs and social leaders.

Emil Ben Shimon, most known for his work on the TV series ZIGI, HaTachana, Katmandu starring Gal Gadot, and Wild Horses for Israel’s HOT Cable Broadcasting, and his feature film The Women’s Balcony (Toronto Festival),  co-directed the film. Einat Glazer-Zarhin edited the film, and the screenplay is written by Oren Safdie, Izhar Har-Lev and Yardeni. Kobi-Hoffman of Jiminy Creative is executive producer.

Nicole Muj, Betty Graziano, Pascale Fortunat, Terry Ryan, Joseph A. Graziano

Website: https://www.themenwhosavetheintrenet.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61555943720821

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/themanwhosavedtheinternetfilm

Rob Ryan is an American businessman and entrepreneur, best known as a co-founder and former CEO of Ascend Communications, which was ultimately acquired by Lucent Technologies. Ryan has authored two books with his lessons about startup companies. Raised in the Bronx, New York, Ryan received a scholarship to attend Cornell University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1969. He married his Cornell classmate, Terry Wehe Ryan the same year.

Ryan began his career as a systems analyst with Burroughs Corporation. He then worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a federally funded research facility. Ryan subsequently worked at Digital Equipment Corporation and Intel where he worked on Ethernet protocols including the “blue book” which would form the basis for IEEE 802.3 His final job before founding his first company was a stint at Ungermann-Bass, another pioneer in computer networking. In 1983, Ryan founded Softcom, Inc. to make Ethernet cards. When the company faced cash flow problems, Ryan sold Softcom to Hayes Microcomputer Products in 1984 and worked there as head of their West Coast division until 1988.

Ryan departed Hayes Micro along with four talented engineers and with his wife Terry. With $3 million in venture capital funding, they founded Aria Communication Inc. in 1989, with Ryan as CEO, to make ISDN equipment. The name was changed to Ascend Communications the next year, as the company transitioned to focus on equipment for Internet providers. By 1994, profits reached $8.7 million on sales of $39.3 million, and a few years later the company was sold for $24 billion. 

 Kate Elfatah’s recent review.

Thriller Novel ‘The Young Jesus Clone’ by Giovanni Menicocci Marks Author’s First English Language Work

“The greater the mystery, the greater the power”

In the thriller novel The Young Jesus Clone, published by Helike Publisher, journalist Giovanni Menicocci tells the story of a young leader born in a test tube.

Simone is an orphan with an unexplainable dream. In order to achieve this dream, he graduates college with honors in genetics, imagining the consequences of his success. He feels confident that he would surely win the Nobel Prize in Medicine, as no one before him had succeeded in the feat of creating a clone of Jesus. 

The first time he vocalized this idea, it sounded like a fantastical rant, even to him. But he began to repeat, in front of the mirror, “I am going to clone Jesus,” until he was convinced. It was a plan that could not materialize without the cooperation of a woman to carry the embryo, so he involves Barbara, a student, and pretends to be a seminarian to enter the Turin Cathedral all in order to draw blood from the Shroud of Jesus. The process seems to be unfolding smoothly for the first embryo, with Barbara now passionate about Simon’s devotion to this magnificent goal. 

All goes according to plan, but what paternal conflicts may the young clone experience? What beliefs will he develop as an adult? Will he approve or condemn this grand action of his father’s? Born with the charisma of a leader, but contrary to his parents’ beliefs, he enlists in the army to seek his own adventure.

On one side is Simone, who becomes more and more a victim of his own ambition; on the other side is Alessio, who grows up with ideals that are completely different from his own. An exploration of the courage to make others understand their mistakes at the cost of being criticized.

The thriller novel is available in all bookstores and online (at the following link https://a.co/d/0gMw7dO1) also in ebook. The translation is by writer Jake Fraczek. 

Giovanni Menicocci is a journalist, holding a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 2005, he worked as a scriptwriter for Mediaset, writing a sitcom, and collaborated with the movie portal MyMovies.it. He is currently editor-in-chief of the portal Mauxa.com, interviewing actors, Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, and artists of all sorts. His first novel, John and Marilyn: The Fragility of the Gods, was met with great reception by audiences and critics alike.

‘Grimm’’s Anne Leighton To Star in Director Patia Prouty’s Short Thriller ‘Swipe’

Anne Leighton, known for her role as Rachel Wood on the NBC series Grimm, has collaborated with director Patia Prouty (Arrow, Banshee Origins) for the short proof-of-concept film, Swipe.

Anne Leighton

Written by award-winning filmmaker and WGA member Colin Francis Costello (Storage, The Stream), the short is a gripping thriller that elevates the fear of harassment to new levels in a digital dating age. In Swipe, a mohawked stalker, portrayed by Christopher Wolfe (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), relentlessly appears on Megan’s (Leighton) dating app, “Date or Hate.” Despite Megan swiping left and rejecting him, the stalker continues to reappear and, to her horror, seems to be getting closer to her actual location.

Colin Francis Costello

Costello and Prouty produced the film under his Ela Road Films banner. The cinematography is handled by David Navarro (Storage), with editing by Scott Turner (The Umbrella Academy). Ryan McLean (Storage, Broken Vessels) is responsible for the film’s score. Currently in post-production at Chicago-based Protokulture and Los Angeles-based TruLove Post, the team aims to expand Swipe into a feature film or limited series after securing a festival slot.

Patia Prouty

“I am instinctively drawn to stories that present psychological complexities and obstacles in the characters’ lives, and that was definitely the case with this script,” says Leighton. “What resonated was not just the story, but the why and how behind how the visionary tells the story. After a fantastic initial call with our director, I knew it was a creative experience that I wanted to be part of.”

“We aimed to explore the challenges of dating in the digital age while also delving into the societal invisibility faced by women over 40,” notes Prouty. “Swipe is a reflection on the harsh reality that, as youth fades, so does a woman’s perceived relevance, leading to a sense of erasure. In the realm of horror, we can spotlight intelligent, beautiful women with agency, portrayed by talented individuals, opening the door to potentially new audiences.”

She adds, “Working with such talented actors like Anne and Christopher brought the script to life in ways I couldn’t have imagined.”

Anne Leighton is represented by Citizen Skull, while Christopher Wolfe is represented by McDonald Selznick Associates.

Cinema Meets Art In Rome This Summer

Filming Italy: Cinema Meets Art will be held in Rome on June 25th and 26th, celebrating the union of cinema and Rome. Organized by Tiziana Rocca’s Agnus Dei Association in collaboration with the Directorate of the Direzione Musei Statali della Città di Roma, headed by Dr. Mariastella Margozzi, and the Director of the Pantheon, Arch. Gabriella Musto, the event explores how the big and small screens interact with art, culture and archaeological heritage.

The connection between Rome and cinema has lasted for decades, permeating historic streets, monuments and museums. Cinema has increased the fame of Rome, showing in an infinite number of films the unique and wonderful corners of the Capital.

Rome’s iconic sites have enhanced the beauty of each film, becoming the very symbol of the movies shot there. Just think of La Dolce Vita with Anita Ekberg pushing Marcello Mastroianni into the water of the Trevi Fountain. The iconic images of Oscar winner La Grande Bellezza captivated viewers as they walked through Rome at night.

“I am convinced that if art inspires cinema, cinema will be open to art. And so we will open the doors of two of Rome’s most representative historical and museum sites, the Pantheon and the Ara Pacis, for an absolutely unprecedented and unique event, where for the first time the public will have the opportunity to participate in debates with film experts, international and Italian stars, inside breathtaking monuments,” says Rocca, General Director of Filming Italy.

Filming Italy: Cinema Meets Art will introduce the audience to the places of culture, both those represented in the films and those to be discovered. Two days are dedicated to master classes with various artists from the Italian and international film scene. On June 25th at the Pronao del Pantheon, Steven Gaydos, Vice President of Variety, and Tiziana Rocca, General Director of Filming Italy will moderate the panel with Bo Derek, (Woman of Desire), Ioan Gruffudd, (Bad Boys: Ride or Die), and Maria Grazia Cucinotta (Il meglio di te).

On June 26, Gaydos and Rocca will moderate master classes with Dolph Lundgren, star of The Expendables; Harvey Keitel, currently starring in the TV series The Tattooist of Auschwitz; and Carla Gugino, star of Lisa Frankenstein.

Photos from recent Filming Italy Event in Sardegna.

Swiss Actor Elijah Knight To Star in Horror Short Detox Inn

Swiss actor Elijah Knight will star in the new horror short film Detox Inn, which will be shot this month in Engadin Graubünden. The plot follows Sandra, a young influencer who retreats to a remote hotel in the Alps for a “digital detox.” She soon realizes that something is wrong with the hotel and its owner.

The film is directed by Andreas Elsener, known for Monte Iato – La storia di uno scavo. Its picturesque setting Engadin is one of the highest inhabited valleys in Europe, reaching 1,800 meters. Filming will take place in the notorious Hotel Fex in Sils, with additional days of filming to take place in Davos.

 “What an honor to be shooting in my father’s home state. Just like the Hockey Club Davos at the Spengler Cup Tournament, I shall have home ice advantage on this shoot,” says Knight.

The film is financed by seven cultural foundations in the canton of Graubünden.  Detox Inn is director Andreas Elsener’s third film to be shot in Graubünden, where he also shot Bounty for Bernadette and Druckabfall in the canton.

On June 14, the short film Dracula, Son of the Devil, for which Knight won the supporting actor award at the Best International Film Festival, will also premiere at Quinnie Cinema in Berne. The plot revolves around Vlad the Impaler and his wife, who is murdered by his brother Radu (played by Knight) during their marriage. Vlad is condemned to eternal life until he finds the reincarnation of his wife, and he wanders the land satisfying his bloodlust for more than 500 years until he finds her. In this role, Knight won Best Supporting Actor at the Best International Film Festival in 2024.

Knight’s most recent credits include the thriller The Safe and the hit TV series Unbreak My Heart. In 2021, he was named Best Actor at the Couch Film Festival in Toronto. In theater, he appeared in The American Dream and Die Glasspur, and in the Swiss Army Comedy Show in Zurich. He stars in the new TV series Miss Fallaci, about the life of writer Oriana Fallaci (played by Miriam Leone), directed by Giacomo Martelli.

27th Annual Dances With Films: LA Announces Largest Lineup Ever

Dances With Films: LA has announced the film lineup for the return of Los Angeles’ largest indie film-focused film festival (June 20-30) for its 27th edition. Adding a new co-presenting partnership with Outfest for additional LGBTQIA+ programming, a beefed-up Midnight Horror and Genre section, as well as continuing the celebration of music, dance, and family friendly programming in the Downbeat and Kidz sections, all will contribute to the most robust film schedule DWF has produced to date. That packed schedule will be bookended by the world premieres of Mahesh Pailoor’s heartfelt drama Paper Flowers as the Opening Night selection and Terre Weisman’s Max Dagan on Closing Night. All screenings will take place at the TCL Chinese Theatre (6925 Hollywood Blvd).

Max Dagan

Among DWF: LA’s lineup of 232 films, including 38 narrative features, 17 documentary features, 25 television and streaming pilots, and 152 short films (101 narrative and 20 documentaries, 13 KIdz section, 18 Downbeat/Music), are an impressive number of films (117!) making world, international, North American, or U.S. premieres. That number includes 24 narrative features, 10 documentary features, 69 narrative shorts, 22 documentary shorts (including Downbeat), and 15 pilots which will have world premiere screenings at Dances With Films. 
Narrative features making their world premieres include: Patrick VanZandt’s Addy Daddy, Nayip Anthony Garcia’s Almost Popular, Benjamin-Shalom Rodriguez’ America’s Next Top Immigrant, Nida Chowdhry’s Anxious., Verner Maldonado’s Best Man Dead Man, Rich Ronat’s Culprit, Alec Wry, Sam Slade, and Kevin Mix’s Death Perception, Matt Warren’s Delicate Arch, Jack McCafferty’s Dreaming of You, Parker Brennon’s Hauntology, Emily Moss Wilson’s Inheritance, Ori Yardeni and Emil Ben Shimeon’s The Man Who Saved the Internet With a Sunflower, Jeff Wolfe’s Mourning Rock, Jean Barker’s Nobody Leaves ‘Til Jesus Comes, Kerry Ann Enright’s Nobody Wants to Shoot a Woman, David Beck and Jennifer Bobbi’s Regarding Us, Aaron Inman’s Shepherd, Nicholas Giuricich’sSpark, Carter Ward’s Step Back, Doors Closing, Craig Ouellette’s Straight On Till Morning, Jessica Boss’ Unnamed, Alonso Alvarez-Barreda’s The Wingwalker

Devin Lawrence’s The Disinvited, Ryan Barton-Grimley’s Listen Carefully, and Meg Rickards’ Snake will make their North American Premieres, and Matthew Leutwyler’s Fight Like a Girl will make its U.S. Premiere at Dances With Films LA.

Feature-length documentaries making their world premieres at DWF: LA include Leon Lozano’s A Little Hope for Chicago, Ryan S. Porush’s A School Grows in Watts, Christopher Riel’s The Big White House, Eryl Cochran’s Dance As You Are, Razieme Iborra’s How the West Was One, Jayson McNamara and Andrea Tortonese’s Norita, Rebecca Corry’s Saving Jones, Meredith Yinger’s Scars Unseen, Alec Goldberg and Boson Wang’s Sitting in the Fire, and Bill Guttentag’s Spyral

In the light of a challenging landscape for film festivals around the country, Dances With Films’ Founders Leslee Scallon and Michael Trent are happy to not simply be continuing the important work of being the leading platform for independent film in Los Angeles, but to actually expand their reach to include an additional thriving film festival in New York City as well.

Regarding that fact, they said, “And the beat goes on! This year’s lineup is another perfect example of wonderful, imaginative, challenging, and always entertaining work: narrative features, documentaries, pilots, shorts, and music videos that rarely have stars in their casts and almost never have big production companies footing the bill. We’re thrilled to be the film festival that introduces them to audiences and industry in the heart of Hollywood.” 

The Man Who Saved The Internet With A Sunflower

Thursday, June 20 features the World Premiere Opening Night presentation of Mahesh Pailoor’s Paper Flowers. Based on a true story, the film follows the poignant and inspirational journey of an ambitious USC graduate whose dream of making a difference as a Peace Corps volunteer is halted by a cancer diagnosis. Forced to return home and undergo treatment, he is immediately faced with the question “What is the true meaning of life when faced with limited time?” The international cast includes Kapil TalwalkarOlivia LiangKaran SoniFaran TahirMeera Simhan, and Tom Everett Scott.

Sunday, June 30, DWF offers another world premiere as its Closing Night selection, Terre Weisman’s Max Dagan. The film follows the title character’s efforts to race against time to free his terminally ill father from prison following hisconviction for the manslaughter of a California State Trooper. To do so, he’ll need to uncover the truth about what really happened, open old wounds, and somehow get the help of his estranged uncle and the daughter of the dead trooper, to find evidence that could set his father free. The impressive cast includes Rob MorrowZachary GordonMichael MadsenRob BrownsteinLindsey DresbachLisa Roumain, and Jay Mohr.

Additional narrative feature films making their world premieres are Nida Chowdhry’s surreal dark comedy Anxious. about a woman whose anxiety attack sends her down a rabbit hole where she meets versions of herself who take over her life. Verner Maldonado’s dark comedy Best Man Dead Man takes place during a bachelor party in the middle of nowhere which quickly turns into a night of murder and mystery when the best man ends up with a knife in his head. Everyone is a suspect and only an eccentric private eye can solve the crime. Kerry Ann Enright’s Nobody Wants to Shoot a Woman is a stark, intimate, yet unsentimental portrait of a mother marginalized by society who embraces a violent crime spree as a means to survive. Another title to look for will be Stimson Snead’s Tim Travers & The Time Travelers Paradox. Making its Southern California premiere, the Sci-Fi comedy is about a reclusive mad scientist who creates a time machine to kill his younger self to create the paradox over his ability to exist in a mission to stand alone with God at the end of time and tell the bastard off. The film features a cast of favorites including Samuel DunningFelicia DayJoel McHaleDanny Trejo, and Keith David.

Anxious

On the LGBTQIA+ programming front, David Beck and Jennifer Bobbi’s Regarding Us is an Outfest co-presented selection about a transgender woman who has a profound impact on the lives of two children after losing her teaching career. Nayip Anthony Garcia’s Almost Popular follows two high school juniors who go on a quest to fulfill their dream to become part of the elite POP Girls who rule the school. Parker Brennon’s queer horror anthology Hauntology is framed by a young woman taking her 12-year-old sister with runaway aspirations (on a journey around town, where she tells supernatural tales in which characters have more in common with the youngster than they first realize.

Once again, Dances With Films will please fans of horror and genre fare with its Midnight section of films led by four features making their world premieres. In Kevin Mix’s Death Perception, a group of college students at a screening party for a short film made by an aspiring filmmaker begin to get picked off one by one by a mysterious masked killer. Matt Warren’s Delicate Arch centers on four young friends who take a camping trip to Southern Utah in order to escape an ecological disaster. Alone in the desert, they soon realize they’re being observed by a mysterious cosmic force. Jeff Wolfe’s psychological thriller Mourning Rock stars Billy Burke as a state park ranger who, along with his wife, struggles to come to terms with their missing teenage son while dealing with a local mystery that questions their relationship. Craig Ouellette’s Straight On Till Morning follow a young couple falling for each other on a romantic road-trip — until they cross paths with a pious couple who have something much, much darker in mind.

Death Perception

Highlights among the feature-length documentaries making world premieres include Sarah Schoellkopf, Jayson McNamara, Francisco Villa, and Melissa Daniels Norita, Executive produced by Jane Fonda, the film takes viewers on a gripping journey through Argentina’s tumultuous history, where Norita’s personal tragedy becomes a catalyst for change. Featured in the Downbeat section, and filmed almost entirely on iPhones, Eryl Cochran’s Dance As You Are is a playful documentary following 100 strangers from around Los Angeles as they come together to form adult dance teams for a recital. Razieme Iborra’s How the West Was One focuses on three unconventional cowgirls as they reshape our vision of the American West. Rebecca Corry’s Saving Jones looks at the filmmaker’s dedication to educating, advocating, and saving the lives of pit bulls, who are arguably the most abused, discriminated against and murdered dogs on earth. Oscar-winner Bill Guttentag’s latest, Spyral, tells the tragic true story of the toll that bipolarism and drug abuse takes on a woman’s life and her family via a decade of home videos, diaries, and social media.

Notable in the film festival world for the screening and promotion of television, web series pilots, and episodics, Dances With Films also has a healthy number of world premieres in this section. Elizabeth Cox and Kirill Yeretsky’s animated entry Ada focuses on the title character as she heads to the first day of her new job at the public library. She’s got A LOT on her mind, but soon realizes her daily reality–mundane duties, grumpy boss–is completely at odds with the urgency she feels about the pressing problems facing humanity. Dave Seger’s George of Tujunga introduces us to a small-town moron who has his perfectly meaningless life upended when his eight-year-old niece shows up at his door with nowhere else to go. Noah Benjamin Miller’s Popped is about a washed-up ex-boyband member more famous for rehab stints than making music, who becomes mixed-up with the drug cartel that forces him to create a new album and world tour through which they intend to launder cartel money. Jason Lee Courson’s Seeking… centers on the growing pains of becoming a “chosen family” when three roommates (2 gay men, 1 straight man) all from different backgrounds, learn to cohabitate and navigate love and life in the big city. Brian Wallace and James Longley’s World Twistories explores eccentric people and their offbeat ideas throughout history. Presented by Tik-Tok sensation Paul Longley, the pilot episode looks at a coffee shop that opened in London in 1703 where you were required to speak Latin to get your coffee.
 
Along with a lineup of films overflowing with invention and innovation, Dances With Films’ short films also are spiced with several recognizable faces and names, including Russell Goldman’s Burn Out, which is executive produced by Jamie Lee Curtis and stars Tommie Earl Jenkins (Wednesday), Eli Vidis Newman’s Concrete, which stars four-time Oscar nominee Ed Harris, Kestrin Pantera’s Dr. No Means No, which stars comedy duo The Sklar Brothers, and Breeda Wool (The Walking Dead), Mike Harris’ Mecánica, which stars Haley Joel Osment, and Olivia Sandoval(Fargo), and Danny Farber’s Thoughts and Prayers, which is executive produced by Amy Poehler.
 
For more information about the Dances With Films LA film lineup, events, passes, and tickets, go to: https://danceswithfilms.com/.

The 2024 Dances With Films: LA official selections:

OPENING NIGHT SELECTION
Paper Flowers  World Premiere
Director: Mahesh Pailoor 
Country: United States; Running Time: 100 min
Shalin Shah, an ambitious USC graduate, leaves behind his loving Indian American family and devoted girlfriend, Fiona, to pursue his dream of making a difference as a Peace Corps volunteer. However, his life takes a devastating turn when a check-up for a lingering cough reveals a shocking diagnosis: a rare and aggressive form of cancer. Forced to return home and undergo treatment, Shalin confronts the fundamental question: what is the true meaning of life when faced with limited time? Based on a true story, Paper Flowers is a poignant and inspirational journey of love, loss, and hope. It serves as a roadmap to cherish the moments we have and to remember to stop and enjoy every sunset.

CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION
Max Dagan     World Premiere
Director: Terre Weisman
Country: United States; Running Time: 92 min
After his father is sentenced to 15 years for the manslaughter of a California State Trooper, Max Dagan fights to uncover the truth and get his now terminally ill parent out of prison with a compassionate release. Max must open up old wounds, including seeking the help of his estranged uncle and the daughter of the dead trooper, to find evidence that could set his father free. In a race against time, two divided families discover they have more in common than they think.

ADDITIONAL NARRATIVE FEATURES

Addy Daddy    World Premiere
Director: Patrick VanZandt
Country: United States; Running Time: 119 min
A lonely young man introduces his new girlfriend to his parents and they immediately hate her for no reason.

Advanced Chemistry 
Director: Etana Jacobson
Country: United States; Running Time: 95 min
A scientist who has developed a compound to enhance bonding injects his married best friend to help her stop cheating on her wife, but when he also injects the wife, it backfires when she falls for him.

All Happy Families
Director: Haroula Rose
Country: United States; Running Time: 90 min
A lonely young man introduces his new girlfriend to his parents and they immediately hate her for no reason.

All the Weekend’s Drama
Director: John Robb Saunders
Country: United States; Running Time: 109 min
Chloe Rousseau is a misfit, gentle hearted twenty year-old. She’s hardly ever known anything outside of her wayward, poverty-stricken lifestyle. Surrounding her is nothing but trauma attached to young people who don’t deserve it. Her glimmers of hope: a well-adjusted, now estranged childhood best friend, Nina, a young sweetheart teenager named Benny, and a wise-beyond-her-years corner store clerk, Imara. After Chloe has an accidental pregnancy, she turns to Nina for support, to which Nina shows Chloe that no one should ever feel their destiny is predetermined, no matter where you come from.

Almost PopularWorld Premiere
Director: Nayip Anthony Garcia (aka Nayip Ramos)
Country: United States; Running Time: 95 min
Susie and Bobbie, high school juniors, go on a quest to fulfill their dream to become part of the elite POP Girls who rule the school. After a series of unfortunate and humiliating attempts, they learn what’s really important.

Alta California
Director: Andrés Taboada
Country: United States; Running Time: 64 min
“Carlos is a former Mexican aristocrat, now-undocumented college student living in Orange County. He longs for the privileged life he once had in Guadalajara and keeps his immigrant status a secret in fear of being grouped with “those other Mexicans

America’s Next Top Immigrant         World Premiere
Director: Benjamin-Shalom Rodriguez
Country: United States; Running Time: 84 min
Chronicling the last two episodes of a reality competition show in which the final five immigrants compete against one another for a US passport.

Anxious            World Premiere
Director: Nida Chowdhry
Country: United States; Running Time: 100 min
Anxious. is a surreal dark comedy about a woman named Ruby who has an anxiety attack and trips down the rabbit hole of her mind, where she meets versions of herself who take over her life. This fast-paced fashion film is set against the colorful backdrops of Little Saigon and Little India in Orange County, California. This debut feature is written, directed by and starring Nida Chowdhry.

Best Man Dead Man
Director: Verner Maldonado
Country: United States; Running Time: 83 min
A bachelor party in the middle of nowhere quickly turns into a night of murder and mystery when the best man ends up with a knife in his head. Everyone is a suspect and only an eccentric private eye can solve the crime.

Between the Lights
Director: Michael Groom
Country: UK; Running Time: 105 min
When skeptical scientist Alice falls for reluctant medium Jay, she’s taken on an odyssey of love, loss and discovery that will turn her world upside down. Between the Lights (made with support from Creative England and filmed in York and the Lake District) is a romantic drama with a liberal dose of the supernatural, in which we visit our characters over three consecutive Christmases.

Bound
Director: Isaac Hirotsu Woofter
Country: United States; Running Time: 99 min
To escape her overprotective drug-dealing stepfather, a young introverted artist flees to NYC with only her pet pocket squirrel, after successfully reinventing herself with the help of some found family.

Culprit              World Premiere
Director: Rich Ronat
Country: United States; Running Time: 94 min
Huntsville, Texas. A dark cloud of mystery looms over the locals, who whisper of the unsolved rape and murder of nine-year-old Katrina Walters, 27 years ago. The suspected ex-con, Jack Harris, has been released from prison exonerated of all charges. The older sister of Katrina, Lucy, desperate for justice, teams up with Jack in secret to find the real killer. The two unlikely partners begin to uncover long-buried secrets that lead them down a perilous path towards the truth.

Dreaming of You                        World Premiere
Director: Jack McCafferty
Country: Unites States; Running Time: 95 min
While attending a sleep study, Miles Puck meets Ren Helena, the girl of his dreams. Unfortunately, he’s also diagnosed with anxiety driven night terrors. Now, his stress levels are going through the roof as he manages this new relationship, a job he hates and even more bad dreams. At least he has a teddy bear to help him through his nightmares in this mixed media rom-com.

Fight Like A Girl
Director: Matthew Leutwyler
Countries: DR Congo/Rwanda; Running Time: 118 min
A young Congolese woman forced to work in an illegal mineral mine, escapes her captors and finds a new life for herself after joining a renowned all-women boxing club in the border city of Goma. Based on the True Story events. Shot on location in DR Congo and Rwanda.

Future Date
Director: Stanley Wong
Country: United States; Running Time: 82 min
In the distant future where the outside climate is unlivable and everyone is forced to spend their lives alone in tiny rooms, two people win the rare opportunity to go on a very unusual date – in person.

Hauntology          World Premiere
Director: Parker Brennon
Country: United States; Running Time: 100 min
In this queer horror anthology, 12-year-old Venus (they/them) decides to run away from home, but their journey is cut short when their older sister, Jazmin (she/her), spots them wheeling a suitcase down the sidewalk. Jazmin then takes Venus on a journey around town, where Jazmin tells supernatural tales in which characters have more in common with Venus than they first realize.

Inhertiance           World Premiere
Director: Emily Moss Wilson
Country: United States; Running Time: 102 min
Estranged sisters Lucy and Paige reunite to bury their father, becoming entangled in the complicated web of their past as they realize that they have inherited more from their father than just money. Forced to reunite after years of not speaking, the two sisters are confronted by a whirlwind of resurfacing resentments, past traumas, well-kept secrets, and devastating losses, as they come to terms with their inner demons and work to mend their broken relationships.

Listen Carefully
Director: Ryan Barton-Grimley
Country: United States; Running Time: 81 min
When troubled assistant bank manager Andy McNeary’s baby daughter goes missing, he must follow the instructions of a mysterious voice on the other end of a baby monitor to save her before she disappears forever.

The Man Who Saved the Internet With a Sunflower                World Premiere
Directors: Ori Yardeni, Emil Ben Shimeon
Country: United States; Running Time: 101 min
The extraordinary true story of Rob Ryan, a brilliant mathematician with a rocky career in Silicon Valley, marked by numerous dismissals and resignations. Rob’s groundbreaking ‘Sunflower Code’ averts the internet’s collapse, transforming modern life. Despite being ousted from the company he founded sold for $24 billion Rob, like a phoenix, establishes three master companies, each worth billions, and earns the Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Silicon Valley. A revered figure, Rob now mentors a new generation of entrepreneurs, while continuing to safeguard the internet from emerging dangers.

Mother Father Sister Brother Frank
Director: Caden Douglas
Country: Canada; Running Time: 85 min
The Jennings family couldn’t be more painfully suburban, but when asshole Uncle Frank crashes their weekly Sunday dinner with a nasty surprise, murder turns up on the menu. Can the Jennings’ overcome secrets and dysfunction to learn that, the family that slays together, stays together?

Nobody Leaves ’til Jesus Comes World Premiere
Director: Jean Barker
Country: United States; Running Time: 80 min
Seventeen-year-old Mati stares down a rabbit hole of drugs, sex, and self-delusion in an LA trap house full of desperate people who show her what she could become.

Nobody Wants to Shoot a WomanWorld Premiere
Director: Kerry Ann Enright
Country: United States; Running Time: 91 min
A stark, intimate, yet unsentimental portrait of a mother marginalized by society who embraces a violent crime spree as a means to survive.

Regarding UsWorld Premiere
Director: David Beck, Jennifer Bobbi
Country: United States; Running Time: 99 min
After losing her teaching career in the Catholic school system, a transgender woman has a profound impact on the lives of two children–one with two fathers in marital strife, and the other a recent transplant from a conservative household. When the children form a unique bond, new questions and old prejudices erupt.

Shepherd           World Premiere
Director: Aaron Inman
Country: United States; Running Time: 85 min
When a young minister struggles with the death of his only son, he is forced to question his faith as he searches for meaning in a time of suffering.

Snake
Director: Meg Rickards
Country: South Africa; Running Time: 109 min
When a luminous stranger arrives on the farm, Stella’s father stays sober and her mother begins to laugh again. But the man with the silver cross has not come to save them. As Jerry slithers his way into their hearts, his own dark wounds begin to show. Stella must shut up and watch him strangle her family or use the truth to fight for their lives.

Spark              World Premiere
Director: Nicholas Giuricich
Country: United States; Running Time: 89 min
Spark follows a hopeless romantic struggling to build intimacy with a man who inexplicably makes him time loop back a day every time they make love. As his feelings for the man grow, so do his suspicions that this stranger is aware of this cosmic insanity too.

Step Back, Doors Closing              World Premiere
Director: Carter Ward
Country: United States; Running Time: 98 min
This is a charming love story between Ryan and Julisa, two young adults who long for authentic and emotionally intelligent relationships. After a chance encounter on the DC metro, they spend the next twenty-four hours discussing their hopes, dreams, and fears. Slowly but surely, they reveal more and more about themselves, and fall in love.

Tallywacker
Director: Brendan Boogie
Country: United States; Running Time: 90 min
A rock and roll buddy comedy about a disabled musician who gets to live his rock star dreams while his best friend reluctantly tags along for the ride.

Tim Travers & the Time Travelers Paradox
Director: Stimson Snead
Country: United States; Running Time: 103 min
It is called the Time Travelers Paradox. In which a scientist creates a Time Machine and kills their younger self. So now a man who should not- can not- exist, somehow does. That is the Paradox, and Paradoxes are impossible. And the man who has created it, is Tim Travers. A reclusive mad scientist whose stated mission in life is to stand alone with God at the end of time, and tell the bastard off.

Unnamed          World Premiere
Director: Jessica Boss
Country: United States; Running Time: 95 min
Inspired by true events, Unnamed is a thriller about a young and beautiful Nigerian woman working as a hairstylist who meets a successful female producer on location in her country and convinces her to come to Hollywood. But her dreams of owning her own salon turn into a living nightmare when the producer forces her into sex trafficking.

The Wingwalker   World Premiere
Director: Alonso Alvarez-Barreda
Countries: US/Mexico; Running Time: 117 min
A young widower is deported as his daughter is scheduled for a heart transplant, this will lead him to orchestrate the boldest border crossing plan in history.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

A Little Hope for Chicago               World Premiere
Director: Leon Lozano
Country: United States; Running Time: 74 min
Part narrative performance film, part documentary, A Little Hope For Chicago is a walk through the life of a Chicago hustler, narrowly avoiding the devastating consequences of death and incarceration, as he reflects on the systemic root causes of the violence and trauma that consume youth in urban centers like Chicago.

A School Grows in Watts             World Premiere
Director: Ryan S. Porush
Country: United States; Running Time: 75 min
In one of the most notoriously underserved cities in the country, an innovative charter elementary school works toward a reimagined future through a community-based approach to education. Weaving together the personal narratives of educators, families, students and community members involved with the Watts Learning Center, A School Grows in Watts paints a lyrical, immersive portrait of a vibrant yet misunderstood community and the ongoing work of a mighty school with humble beginnings.

The Big White House                    World Premiere
Director: Christopher Riel
Country: United States; Running Time: 67 min
In Montecito, California, The Big White House traces director Chris Riel’s journey from Bakersfield poverty to Santa Barbara opulence, reminiscent of The Beverly Hillbillies. Over 20 years, Riel captures the wild escapades of Montecito teens defying societal norms. From go-karting to mud sledding, their adventures unfold against upper-class expectations. Through laughter and loss, they forge unbreakable bonds, navigating grief, divorce, and addiction. This adrenaline-laced documentary offers a poignant reflection on friendship and resilience, emphasizing love over materialism.

Camp RicStar
Director: Sam McConnell
Country: United States; Running Time: 87 min
Camp Ricstar explores the heartbreaking history and profound impact of a one-of-a-kind camp for people with disabilities, the Eric ‘RicStar’ Winter Music Therapy Camp. On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, we follow eight spirited campers who embrace being uninhibited as they sing, dance, create, connect, and discover new ways to express themselves. 

Dance as You Are                       World Premiere
Director: Eryl Cochran
Country: United States; Running Time: 77 min
Filmed almost entirely on iPhones, this playful documentary follows 100 strangers from around Los Angeles as they come together to form adult dance teams for one recital. The dancers discover the incredible transformations that occur when they make time for joy and put on their dancing shoes.

The Donn of Tiki
Directors: Alex Lamb, Max Well
Country: United States; Running Time: 100 min
The life of Donn Beach has been re-written, embellished, and at times flat-out fabricated. He was an American maverick, constantly creating his own opportunities while reinventing himself, and embellishing the details of his extraordinary life. This documentary takes on the task of separating fact from exaggeration to finally tell Donn’s story, and how he inadvertently created the tiki subculture back in 1930s Hollywood. Mixing fun retro animation with newly found tapes of Donn’s last interview, the film explores universal truths behind Donn’s tall tales.

How the West Was One              World Premiere
Director: Razieme Iborra
Country: United States; Running Time: 91 min
Amid infamously unprecedented times, three unconventional cowgirls reshape our vision of the American West. From deep Queens, artist Annie Bercy flees West to uncover the whitewashed history of Black Cowboys. In Miami, Latina designer Elle Barbeito confronts her own survival hunting the invasive Burmese Python. On the West Coast, rodeo queen Morgan Laughlin vies for the title of Miss Rodeo America.

Interpreters Wanted
Director: Robert Ham
Country: United States; Running Time: 84 min
Saifullah and Ismail Haqmal are two brother interpreters who served alongside U.S. Forces in Afghanistan for over a decade. Interpreters Wanted follows the brothers from their childhood growing up during the Russian/Afghan war, through the Taliban era, then the invasion by NATO forces after 9/11. When Robert deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 he worked with the brothers and they all became close friends. After Robert’s unit leaves Afghanistan the brothers become desperate to escape and turn to their American friends to petition Congress and help them escape the Taliiban’s rise to power.

The Nita & Zita Project
Director: Marci Darling
Country: United States; Running Time: 79 min
The story of two Jewish immigrant sisters who rose to international burlesque stardom, then became recluses and the ultimate New Orleans eccentrics. Their journey, marked by both the dazzle of the spotlight and the shadows of solitude, is a testament to their unbreakable bond and their vibrant heritage. The film is designed to challenge Jewish stereotypes and gender norms, illuminating a slice of American culture rarely seen—the lives of burlesque dancers, acrobats, contortionists, and the courageous performers who dare to dream big.

Norita  World Premiere
Director: Jayson McNamara & Andrea Tortonese
Country: USA & Argentina; Running Time: 88 min
A mother’s search for her son accelerates the defeat of a dictatorship and inspires a new global generation of women fighting for their freedoms.

Saving Jones                    World Premiere
Director: Rebecca Corry
Country: United States; Running Time: 100 min
Saving Jones is a biographical social commentary about the abuse and discrimination of dogs as it directly relates to human abuse. Rebecca Corry is an actress, writer and comedian who has dedicated her life to educating, advocating and saving the lives of pit bull type dogs who are the most abused, discriminated against and murdered dogs on earth. Saving Jones is hilarious and heartwarming yet tragic and inspiring. A truthful look at the real reason she does what she does and why what happening to inherently good dogs is everyone’s problem and direct reflection of a broken society.

Scars Unseen                    World Premiere
Director: Meredith Yinger
Country: United States; Running Time: 70 min
‘Scars Unseen is a ‘triumph of the human spirit’ documentary, following three women who have overcome domestic violence and are paying it forward. Due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the statistic of 1 in 4 women affected by domestic violence went up to 1 in 3 women. This inspiring documentary focuses on the resiliency of these phenomenal women and encourages us all to be more trauma informed. Scars Unseen aims to illuminate the power of healing, de-stigmatize victimhood, and encourage open communication about the causes, treatment, and prevention of abuse.’

Sitting in the Fire             World Premiere
Directors: Alec Goldberg, Boson Wang
Country: United States; Running Time: 79 min
Arrested and sentenced to life in prison at age twenty, Vaughn Miles underwent decades of rehabilitation and was released after 24 years. Now, he’s back in his hometown working toward ending gun violence in the place he once helped destroy.

The South Got Something to Say
Directors: Ryon Horne, Tyson Horne
Country: United States; Running Time: 96 min
Hip-hop was born in New York and spread to LA, but its soul is in Atlanta. Shaped by the South’s complexities and contradictions – civil rights and racial tension, wealth and poverty, tradition and innovation, churches and strip clubs – Atlanta pioneers played up their roots and spread the gospel of Atlanta hip-hop. From 808s to trap to crunk and snap, Atlanta created a new musical language, dominated the charts and gained global influence. In 1995, it was declared “The South Got Something to Say.

Spyral  World Premiere
Director: Bill Guttentag
Country: United States; Running Time: 84 min
A tragic true story that reveals the mental health epidemic in america. This is a dramatic and powerful view of the toll that bipolarism takes on one woman’s life and the family she leaves behind. With over a decade of home videos, diaries and social media, Oscar -winning director, Bill Guttentag, stitches together the tragic story and the mystery behind it.

Unbroken
Director: Beth Lane
Countries: Germany/Israel; Running Time: 96 min
The daughter of a Holocaust survivor embarks on an international quest to uncover answers about the plight of her mother and her six siblings who, as mere children, escaped Nazi Germany relying solely on their own youthful bravado and the kindness of German strangers.

Unlikely Allies
Director: Anthony Pedone
Country: United States; Running Time: 95 min
Weldon Angelos’s budding music career is abruptly terminated when prosecutors weaponize federal laws against him, turning a low-level cannabis case into 20 felony charges with a potential 105-year sentence. His case ignited a nationwide movement to reform the criminal justice system, uniting unlikely allies from billionaire Charles Koch, Senator Mike Lee and liberal icons like Senator Cory Booker, Van Jones and Snoop Dogg.

MIDNIGHT FEATURES 

Death Perception                                                                                             World Premiere
Directors: Alec Wry, Sam Slade, Kevin Mix
Country: United States; Running Time: 106 min
A group of college students are invited to a screening party for a short film made by aspiring auteur filmmaker Sean Davis. The night takes a dark turn as each character gets picked off one by one by a mysterious masked killer. The story unfolds from the point-of-view of each of the six guests, and with each new perspective new clues come to light about the darkly comedic truth behind the violence.
 
Delicate Arch                                                                                                    World Premiere
Director: Matt Warren
Country: United States; Running Time: 86 min
Four young friends with fracturing relationships take a camping trip to Southern Utah in order to escape an ecological disaster in the northern part of the state. Alone in the desert, they begin to suspect that their reality might not be as it seems, and soon realize they’re being observed by a mysterious cosmic force.
 
The Disinvited                                                                                     
Director: Devin Lawrence
Country: United States; Running Time: 91 min
Against his-or-anyones better judgment, Carl decides to crash an event where he is no longer welcome, setting off a day filled with betrayal, violence, heartache, and exes who should never get back together. When Carl discovers he isn’t the only unwelcome guest in the desert, he is forced to decide whether to save himself or risk everything for those who have wronged him.
 
Mourning Rock                                                                                    World Premiere
Director: Jeff Wolfe
Country: United States; Running Time: 84 min
A Psychological Thriller about a state park ranger husband and his wife struggling to come to terms with their missing teenage son while dealing with a local mystery that questions their relationship and in the end, their grip on reality.
 
Straight On Till Morning                                                                      World Premiere
Director: Craig Ouellette
Country: United States; Running Time: 104 min
Dani and Kaitlin are two dreamers falling for each other on a romantic road-trip. The future is theirs — until they cross paths with a pious couple who have something much, much darker in mind.

Featured image: Paper Flowers
 

French Riviera Film Festival Unveils 2024 Award Recipients

The sixth annual French Riviera Film Festival (FRFF), celebrating short film and short-form content from around the globe, has unveiled the 2024 award winners, the announcement was made recently by festival co-founders Nicole Goesseringer Muj and Gotham Chandna.

First launched in 2019, FRFF recognizes and celebrates short-form content created for film, television, web and all digital platforms. Scheduled during the time period of the Festival de Cannes, FRFF invites filmmakers from around the globe to participate in the two-day event that includes screenings, 7th annual Global Entertainment Showcase, VIP receptions, and closing gala awards ceremony.

Held on May 17 and 18, 2024, the first day’s schedule was highlighted with a special out-of-competition screening of the new short psychological thriller Quimera by Tomas Vergara, starring Argentine actor Martin Rodriquez (star of Netflix’s Griselda) and Gadea Jimenez.

Each year the festival features the works of filmmakers from more than 20 countries. The full list of winners, finalist and honorable mention films in the award categories of Drama, Comedy, Documentary, Sci-Fi/Horror, Animation, Experimental, Fashion, Music Video, Micro Short, Student, and Activism is listed on the festival’s official website:  2019 Film Festival Winners – French Riviera Film Festival

2024 competition winners are:

Drama – L’HYPERMNÉSIQUE  by Julien Mouquet

Documentary – ONE PERSON/HUNDRED BRIDGES  (*episode 1) by Han Zheng

Micro Short – FEU-FOLLET by Mickael Abbate

Experimental – AURA by Eme Eidson

Sci-Fi/Horror – HAMELIN 77 by Javier Ideami

Animation – BIRD DRONE by Radheya Jang Jegatheva

Music Video – BAD by Matt Nothelfer  

Fashion – EQUILIBRIO  by Camilo Velásquez A.

Student –  KEEP IT QUIET/SUTIM by Sara Horvatić

Activism – THE INVISIBLE  Guga Lemes, Wagner Almeida, Marcelo Nobre, André Abujamra

At the official opening reception and closing awards ceremony, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Audience, Rising Star and Industry Excellence awards were also presented. 

Special awards presented were:

BEST ACTRESS – Lilly Rikhter  ON TIME, THE TRIP OF LIFE

BEST ACTOR – Bernard Farcy  L’HYPERMNÉSIQUE 

BEST DIRECTOR – Julien Mouquet L’HYPERMNÉSIQUE 

INDUSTRY EXCELLENCE AWARD – Martin Rodriguez (star of Netflix’s Griselda)

RISING STAR AWARD – Lang Khê Tran (star of Official Selection Grand Tour)

FIRST TIME FILMMAKER – Dr. Jacqueline Nguyen

HUMANITARIAN AWARD – Jenny Thai

Festival screenings were held over two days at the Eden Hotel & Spa, with special ‘by invitation only’ receptions and awards events held after each day’s screenings at the Bel-Air Fine Art Gallery and Eden Hotel.  FRFF festival attendees and participants included filmmakers, industry executives, celebrities, media and influencers.

The festival finalists and special mention films currently are screening online through June 18th on Entertainment Oxygen’s eoFlix platform.

For a sneak peek to the awards:

The seventh annual Global Entertainment Showcase was also a festival highlight, featuring Katyayani Kumar, Lilly Rikhter, Dr. Jacqueline Nguyen, Jenny Thai, and Ori Yardeni, and was moderated by Rehna Azim, Movie Marker Magazine

Event partners include Eden Hotel and SpaBeverly Hills HotelBel-Air Fine ArtEntertainment OxygenLamborghini ChampagneCardinal du FourThe Good GinVOGA Proseccofilmfestivals.comIndie Entertainment Media, and Just Cinema Magazine.  Gift bag partners include BionovaCalessia JewelryScruples HaircareVelvet Eyewear, with bags by Shiki Wrap.

FRFF’s Advisory Board includes Michael Benoraya, founder, International Film Trust; Joan Burney Keatings, chief executive,  Cinemagic; Bruno Chatelin, COO, filmfestivals.com (also on festival jury), Emmy Award-winning actor Vincent De Paul; Larry Namer, president/CEO,  Metan Global Entertainment Group, Ana B. Remos, vice president, editorial director & founder, azureazure.com (also on festival jury), Dr. Laura Wilhelm, founder/principal, LauraWil Intercultural (also on festival jury), and Daphna Edwards Ziman, president, Cinémoi USA.  Jury members include Rehna Azim, awards editor, Movie Marker; Lena Basse, journalist, Golden Globes; Claude Brickell, filmmaker, screenwriter and educator; Anna Marie de la Fuente; Kate Elfatah, HoM Consulting; Giovanni Menicocci, Mauxa/Daily Bloid; James Prestige, publisher, Close-Up Culture; entertainment attorney Tshombe Sampson; Eileen Tasca, managing director, Alien Films & Task Films; and Sue Vicory, founder, Heartland Films and womendocumentaryfilmmakers.com.

French Riviera Film Festival Founders  Gotham Chandna of Cloud 21 PR International and Nicole Goesseringer Muj of Kultura PR International have produced numerous industry special events, including the annual “Global Entertainment Showcase” during the Cannes Film Festival and Marché du Film, the annual “Production Without Borders” event during AFM, the annual Indie Entertainment Showcase in Park City, Utah, and “A Salute to Akira Kurosawa” with China’s Jinke Entertainment in Cannes. The companies have co-produced events and worked with top entertainment and technology brands, including Cinando, Creative Coalition, Davines North America, E! Entertainment Television, ECU Film Festival, Eurocinema, Euromed, FlixSnip, Maverick Entertainment, Metan Global Entertainment Group, Oculus, Sony Interactive, Vesilind, 8K Miles Media Group, FanVestor, plus many others.

Photos/Videos Courtesy of FRFF, By Erick Seban-Meyer.  (Poster: Official Artwork by Cindy Shaoul)

UKRAINIAN FASHION FILM FESTIVAL Fêted In Cannes

The second annual “UKRAINIAN FASHION FILM FESTIVAL” was held at the famous historical Villa Domergue in Cannes on May 19th during the Festival de Cannes. The charitable evening of Ukrainian culture, beauty and fashion celebrated the ancient historical roots and exquisite culture of Ukraine.

The event introduced to the creative community the soul of modern Ukraine through its culture, through showings of the latest collections of famous Ukrainian designers, screenings of Ukrainian films, treats with traditional dishes in a modern interpretation, an auction of works of art, as well as performances by Ukrainian artists. All this and more demonstrated the indomitability of the Ukrainian people and the national identity of Ukraine. A charity auction raised funds to support the children of Ukraine affected by the war.

The program of the event included showings of new “Spring-Summer 2024” collections from leading Ukrainian brands and designers Park Avenue Atelier, Iryna Luzhetska, By Vel. Guests were asked to wear all-white.

In addition to a fashion show, was a gastro dinner and a presentation of films from the Ukrainian industry. The program included performances by famous Ukrainian artists YAGODY, Ilona Gvozdova, the winner of the “Dancing with the Stars” project, and singer JERYHEIL, a participant of Eurovision 2024, who headlined of the event.

Tomas Vergara, Martin Rodriguez

The presenter and special guest of the evening was singer and actor Oleg Skrypka, the legend of Ukrainian rock music, who held an exclusive tasting of the collection of drinks from the “SHABO” brand.

The UKRAINIAN FASHION FILM charity evening was held in conjunction with charity fund  “Ukrainotvortsi,” with the support of “Association France Ukraine – Idees sans frontier Coted’Azur.” @Ukrainotvortsi

Photos by Tetyana Maslovska.

Meet & Greet at Cannes 2024

Meet & Greet, an event organized by The Actors Home and Crawford Talents during the 77th Cannes Film Festival, was attended by actors, producers and directors with the goal of creating connections and opportunities. Among the actors were Jovana Stevic, star of Los Alamos and director of the Japanese-Serbian Film Festival; Nicole Ansari-Cox (What a Feeling); Guido Broscheit, star of the series My Life – Secrets and Passions and the new thriller Fade to Grey; director and screenwriter Lauand Omar (Curse of Mesopotamia); Mara Luka, star of All Clowns Are Bastards; Samuel Ourabah, who starred in episodes of Snowpiercer and Clem; Nikita Rozenko, from the film Project X-Traction;  Giovanna Nodari, actress of the TV series Another Monday and director of the short film Decent People.

“The Actors Home is a community for actors from all over the world. It is a safe place for actors to be, to connect, to ask industry questions, and to basically work together as a group to grow their careers, to network, to meet each other, and to be part of our beautiful industry,” says Luci Lenox. “I created a group during the pandemic because so many actors were at home and they were completely lost. And then after the pandemic, we made it into this platform because I didn’t want to be on social media. I wanted it to be a much safer place. It’s a private platform that we started just over two years ago.”

The Actors Home now has members from 62 countries. Lenox adds, “We help people when they move to new countries to connect with the acting community.”

“We help actors come together like today to talk, to meet, and to share their experiences. After Berlin, the Cannes Film Festival is the ideal place to gather talent. There are so many actors who come on their own and then they wander around at the beginning of the festival feeling they don’t feel important. An event like Meet & Greet serves to bring actors together and make them feel like they’re part of something.”

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