Finalists Announced for Showtime's Tony Cox Episodic Screenplay (30 Min) Competition

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Congratulations to our three finalists in Showtime's Tony Cox Episodic Screenplay (30 Minute) Competition:

An ambitious woman’s fast ride to the perfect life is interrupted when she moves back to her hometown and attempts to fix her hillbilly immigrant family.

When the creator of the world’s most popular show tragically dies its clueless producers must juggle a disorderly cast, a rabid fan base, and an impending deadline to write the perfect three hour finale to a series they know nothing about.

A half-hour, episodic comedy series about two knuckleheads failing to make their videos go viral.

The winner receives:

  • A $1,000 cash prize from the Nantucket Film Festival
  • An all-inclusive two-weeks-long writer's retreat on Nantucket in June with the Screenwriter's Colony and NFF
  • One-on-one consultation with a Showtime executive
  • A VIP week-long Festival Pass to all events
  • Participation in our Mentor Brunch during the Festival
  • A Showtime-sponsored reception during the Festival in the winners’ honor
  • A Custom leather bound copy of the script, courtesy of Showtime
  • Print and media coverage
  • Name inclusion on Festival program materials as a competition finalist and winner

Stay tuned for the announcement of our winner!

Semi-Finalists for Showtime's Tony Cox Episodic Screenplay (30 Min) Competition Announced

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It's that time again - congratulations to our ten Semi-Finalists of Showtime's Tony Cox Episodic Screenplay (30 Min) Competition! Stay tuned for the Finalists, to be announced soon!





















Apply to be an #NFF18 Social Ambassador


Do you love social media, attending events, AND #NFF? By helping us to spread the word to your network about what's coming up this summer, you can earn FREE tickets to films, invites to parties, merchandise, and more! Plus, you don't have to be in Nantucket to participate!

Just send the answers to the following questions to by May 1 - you'll be contacted by May 15 if you've been selected.

1. Please provide your social media handles/accounts for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

2. Where are you based? Would you be willing/able to travel to Nantucket for the festival?

3. What do you like best about social media / communicating with your followers?

4. What do you think makes #NFF unique?

5. Why do you think you'd be the perfect social ambassador for #NFF18?

#NFF17 Films in Awards Season

It's here again - awards season! You may have noticed a few of your favorite films from #NFF17 (as well as NFF alums and upcoming NFF Now films)  making the rounds. Kicking things off on January 11 were the Cinema Eye Honors, last Sunday, February 17th were the BAFTAs, the Film Independent Spirit Awards are coming up on March 3, and the 90th Academy Awards are the following day on March 4. Take a look below at the nominees and winners so far, and cheer on your favorite #NFF17 films next weekend!



Cinema Eye Honors (Outstanding Achievements in Documentary Film):

Nominee: Outstanding Achievement in Editing
Lindsay Utz for QUEST

Nominee: Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Films Made for Television

BAFTAs (British Academy Film Awards)

Nominee: Outstanding British Film and Adapted Screenplay

Nominee: Documentary

 Film Independent Spirit Awards:

Nominee: Best First Feature


Nominee: Best First Screenplay
David Branson Smith and Matt Spicer for INGRID GOES WEST
WINNER: Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjani for

Nominee: Best Male Lead
Harris Dickinson for BEACH RATS

Nominee: Best Documentary

Nominee: Best Supporting Female
Holly Hunter for THE BIG SICK

Nominee: Best Cinematography
Hélène Louvart for BEACH RATS


Academy Awards:

Nominee: Writing, Original Screenplay
Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjani for THE BIG SICK

Nominee: Short Film, Animated
Dave Mullins and Dana Murray for LOU

Dispatch From Sundance 2018

Once again, the #NFF Team headed to Sundance to check out this year's top offerings in independent film. Read more below about some of their favorites, and keep an eye out for these titles potentially coming to #NFF18!



THREE IDENTICAL STRANGERS is a festival and personal favorite documentary about triplets born in New York and given away to separate families to be raised without awareness of one another.  By pure chance they are brought together 19 years later and become instant media stars. The wild plot unravels further when we go on the journey about why they were separated at birth.  

WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR explores the history and legacy of America’s favorite neighbor, Mister Fred Rogers.  Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (NFF Alum, 20 FEET FROM STARDOM) has said he wants to show that Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood still has lessons for today. Watching the Sundance premiere, I found myself remembering the characters, songs and most importantly the lessons.  I only wish current and future generations could have Mister Rogers as their neighbor too.

More of a colorful celebration of Robin Williams’ extraordinary career than it is a lament of his loss, director Marina Zenovich weaves together rare footage with the late comedian’s own voice for ROBIN WILLIAMS: COME INSIDE MY MIND.  This loving documentary fills in more of the blanks to the general storyline of Williams’ life and also offers priceless outtakes showing his unique train of thought and how he was always reaching for some beautiful moment of ridiculousness and truth. 


Among the standout documentaries at this year’s Sundance is MINDING THE GAP by director Bing Liu and executive producer Steve James, a previous recipient of NFF’s Special Achievement in Documentary Storytelling and now an Oscar nominee for ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL. MINDING THE GAP has been likened to BOYHOOD in its look at the lives of three skateboarding friends followed over several years as they grow up dealing with issues with their fathers and domestic abuse.

The inventive, magical realist doc 306 HOLLYWOOD by Elan and Jonathan Bogarín was one of Sundance's Day One screenings. The sibling filmmaking team constructs an utterly charming, irresistible portrait of their late grandmother, largely through the eclectic belongings found in her longtime New Jersey home at the film’s titular address.

AMERICAN ANIMALS similarly offered Sundance viewers a fresh perspective. Writer/director Bart Layton, known for the documentary THE IMPOSTER, makes his fiction debut with this true story of four young men who attempt to steal valuable rare books from their local university library. The film weaves in interviews with the real-life subjects - and their conflicting memories of the event - as a counterpoint to the dramatic retelling featuring actors like Evan Peters and Barry Keoghan.

COLETTE, among several films to score distribution deals at the festival, presents the empowering and all-too-topical story of the celebrated French woman novelist, played by Keira Knightley, as she finds her voice and fights for recognition under the shadow of her husband who takes credit for her words. This sumptuous period piece is the most recent film from writer/director Wash Westmoreland, whose previous film, STILL ALICE, earned Julianne Moore an Oscar for Best Actress.


In OUR NEW PRESIDENT, Maxim Pozdorovkin uses found footage of Russian propaganda edited to maximum "cautionary tale" effect, painting a broad picture of the deft efficiency of manipulative messaging. A sequence in which the supposed ill-health of then-candidate Hilary Clinton is "reported" on Russia Today as news, only to be repeated by people on the streets of Moscow as fact bears eerie resemblance to some of the media-sponsored fallacies reported in US news outlets. Pozdorovkin skillfully walks a tight rope in this film - using the footage both to illustrate and to indict - and won a Special Jury Award for Editing at Sundance.

Lauren Greenfield's doc GENERATION WEALTH picks up where her last feature, THE QUEEN OF VERSAILLES, left off - investigating the culture of success/excess in America. While surveying her life's work, Greenfield explores where her area of focus - the perils of extremes - dovetails with her own life. Putting its thesis aside, I found myself more drawn to the portions where Greenfield is vulnerable in revealing her personal journey as the daughter of an ambitious mother, and, in turn, as an ambitious mother and wife to her own family. 

Flynn McGarry has been called the "Justin Bieber of food," rising from precocious elementary schooler to internationally-recognized culinary talent, as beautifully chronicled in Cameron Yates' documentary CHEF FLYNN. His portrait combines archival material from when he began hosting multiple-course meals for friends at 10 years old with current footage of his breakthrough as a teen chef gracing the cover of the New York Times Magazine. Along the way, we see the challenges Flynn has faced both in the kitchen and at home. Flynn's story is an inspiring one where talent and passion combine and yield unforgettable results.

In SHIRKERS, Sandi Tan weaves a tale of youthful talent, precocious passions, DIY filmmaking, mentor sabotage, and a decades-long mystery solved. Tan was a teenager growing up in Singapore and obsessed with independent film. Under the tutelage of a mysterious mentor, she filmed her original script, SHIRKERS over several months, only to see it vanish. Part-memoir, part-mystery, SHIRKERS takes viewers on Tan's journey to becoming an artist and overcoming obstacles, and won a Directing Award at Sundance.

In CRIME + PUNISHMENT, Stephen Maing employs brilliant verité and provides unparalleled access to the NYPD 12 - a group of whistle-blowing cops who expose the ongoing, illegal practice of arrest/citation quotas being carried out by police across New York City precincts. Putting their careers and even their safety on the line, these officers demonstrate how they were coerced into engaging in this activity, and, when they dared to push back, were targeted for systematic retribution. CRIME + PUNISHMENT won a Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking at the festival.

Five Questions With... Rory Kennedy, Director of TAKE EVERY WAVE: THE LIFE OF LAIRD HAMILTON

If you missed #NFF17 documentary TAKE EVERY WAVE: THE LIFE OF LAIRD HAMILTON, you're in luck - it opens in theaters this weekend!

In this breathtaking portrait, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy (Last Days in Vietnam, NFF 2014) takes on the legendary Laird Hamilton (Riding Giants, NFF 2004), a maverick who has redefined big wave surfing over the past four decades. This visually resplendent film follows the movie-star handsome Hamilton in Hawaii, as he eagerly awaits El Niño-powered waves of an unprecedented size, prompting reflection on his lifelong drive to conquer unrideable waves. Buoyed by the memories of family and friends, the charismatic surfer relates the struggles of his early life, the refuge he found in the ocean, and the fearlessness that has served as a constant source of innovation—and controversy—in his career.

Read more with Rory below, and check out local screening opportunities near you!

 Rory Kennedy at #NFF17

Rory Kennedy at #NFF17

NFF: How did you first become acquainted with and interested in Laird's life and story?

Rory: I was introduced to Laird through a mutual friend who thought throwing two people together who wouldn't normally know each other might be interesting. Although I didn't know much about surfing before, I grew up on the water and have an appreciation for the water, and I grew up with surf and ski movies - and we were surrounded by sports figures - making a film about an athlete in the water was not totally an unfamiliar idea.

NFF: The film is tonally a bit different from others you've made in the past, and focuses on a single subject rather than, for example, a larger group. Was that conscious departure for you as a filmmaker?

Rory: I'm equally passionate about whatever sparks my interest. You commit over a year of your life to the making of a film, so it's hard to work on a subject you don't care about. It took a little while to wrap my head around this particular story and give myself permission to make a "fun" film - but I couldn't let the idea go. I wasn't interested in a typical surf film - I was interested in Laird and his story and his motivations; what he's accomplished on the water and how he's revolutionized the sport. I was curious to explore what makes a person the best they can be.

NFF: Shooting in and around water is notoriously challenging. Can you talk a little about that process making this film?

Rory: It of course presents a new set of challenges - how do you know when the wave is coming, for example. It took some time to understand how waves work and how best to shoot them. I watched a lot of surf films, and I do ski, so I know you can be on the steepest run and it looks flat in pictures, so there's something about the angle of shooting that shapes how it looks. In our case shooting by helicopter was the best way to keep up with Laird.

NFF: What surprised you the most while you were making the film?

Rory: I think I didn't fully appreciate Laird's childhood and what he went through when he was younger. I now have a deeper appreciation for his focus and passion - his personal journey is extraordinary.

NFF: What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing the film?

Rory: I just hope people actually go to the theaters! You need to appreciate the awe and enormousness of the waves on a big screen - we made the film for that experience, so please support the film in theaters, and enjoy the ride and thrill in watching it that doesn't translate to a tv or computer screen. Check out our website for screening times and locations

 take every wave: the life of laird hamilton

take every wave: the life of laird hamilton

#NFF17 In Review

We're taking a look back at all of the exciting films, events, panels, parties, sponsors, and more that happened at #NFF17! Relive your favorite memories below, and SAVE THE DATES FOR 2018: JUNE 20-25!






Five Questions With... Ryan White, Director of THE KEEPERS

The second in our TV AND TALKS Series: From director Ryan White (NFF alum with The Case Against 8, Serena, Good Ol’ Freda) comes a new, riveting seven-part documentary series about the unsolved murder of a nun and the horrific secrets and pain that linger nearly five decades after her death.

Sister Cathy Cesnik, a beloved nun and Catholic high school teacher in Baltimore, went missing on November 7, 1969. In the 1990s, one of Sister Cathy’s former students – a woman only known as “Jane Doe” – came forward to reveal her own harrowing story and disturbing details about Sister Cathy's case – but the truth still remained elusive. White pieces together a larger story that goes beyond the death of a beloved schoolteacher to encompass clergy abuse, repressed memories, and allegations of an extensive cover-up. The Keepers is a Netflix Original Documentary Series.

We're thrilled to present an episode of the series followed by a conversation with Ryan White and “Jane Doe” herself.

Read more with Ryan below, and join us for the screening and conversation on Sunday, June 25 at 11:45 am!

 Ryan White

Ryan White

NFF: You have a personal connection to this material, correct? Could you tell us how the story came to you?

Ryan: My aunt went to the high school that is the epicenter of The Keepers. She was Sister Cathy's student and a classmate of Jane Doe. She told me about the story a few years ago and I went to Baltimore to meet Jane Doe. That's how it all began.

NFF: The "true crime" genre is having a bit of a renaissance - do you have thoughts about why that is?

Ryan: I think Americans are interested in justice, and they get particularly angry when they watch and experience these stories about injustice. If there's any common denominator  of all these true crime series that have gained popularity, I think they are all stories of injustice and a lack of accountability.

NFF: The story here is unbelievably difficult and complicated - did you have a hard time staying objective as a filmmaker?

Ryan: I had to distance myself sometimes from the anger -- anger over what was done to the children and anger about the amount of corruption that's kept these stories buried. But I was also constantly reminding myself that I didn't have to live the pain that my subjects did -- so the least I could do was be a part of having their truths brought to light.

NFF: When you originally started working on The Keepers, did you always envision it as a multi-part show? Or was it meant to be a shorter, more contained movie, like your previous work?

Ryan: We began The Keepers before Serial, The Jinx, or Making A Murderer had come out, so there wasn't really a model yet for the episodic true crime format. But once each of those came out, we realized we might have some more dimensional ways to tell The Keepers. It was really good timing to have a true crime story that seemed to have so many layers and a distributor felt deserved a longer format.

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences will take away?

Ryan: It's my fourth documentary to play here, so I'm thrilled to be back. But mostly I'm excited that Jane Doe will be joining me on stage and talking about her experience. It will be her first public appearance since the series came out last month.

Five Questions With... Oscar-nominated Gabourey Sidibe, Director of THE TALE OF FOUR

We're so thrilled to host our Afternoon Tea Talk at #NFF17 on Sunday, June 25 at 2:15pm with Oscar-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe (Empire, Precious), who will be presenting her directorial debut, THE TALE OF FOUR

This multi-layered story inspired by Nina Simone’s “Four Women” spans one day in the lives of four different women connected by their quest for love, agency and redemption. Featuring Jussie Smollett (Empire) and Ledisi.

Gabourey’s directorial debut is part of Refinery29’s Shatterbox Anthology short film series, which works to cultivate and spotlight the voices of women behind the camera, in order to provide emerging female filmmakers with the support to realize their creative vision.

We spoke with Gabourey about her film - read more below, and join us for tea, treats, a screening and conversation on Sunday!

 Gabourey Sidibe

Gabourey Sidibe

NFF: What peaked your interest in directing? Was it this story specifically, or had you been thinking about it for awhile? 

Gabourey: One of my producers, Kia Perry had the idea to adapt Nina Simone's song, Four Women, into a short film and she let me hear the song and I could see the entire story unfolding as I listened. Listening to this song, is what peaked the director in me. I had never thought about directing before that moment. 

NFF: Are there directors whose style you wanted to emulate, and/or directors who inspire you?

Gabourey: I'm inspired by many of the directors I've worked with like Sanna Hamri, Victoria Mahoney and Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. I'm also inspired by directors I want to work with directors who change the way people of color see themselves like Ava DuVurnay and Dee Rees.

NFF: Were you familiar with the Nina Simone song prior to the film and/or did you use it for inspiration in any way while you were preparing?

Gabourey: I'd never heard the song before the idea of turning it into a film but while prepping the film, I listened to the song over and over and googled Nina Simone performances pretty much non stop because we wanted the world of the film to feel and look as much like a world Nina Simone would fit into as possible. We wanted the film to feel the way Miss Simone's made us feel with her music. 

NFF: What surprised or challenged you the most while you were making the film?

Gabourey: What surprised me is how much I loved directing. How much I loved making decisions about everything. Big decisions from how a love scene should be shot, to small decisions like the color of nail polish on a teenagers hand. They are both really important decisions to make because every decision drives the entire story forward.  

NFF: Why are you excited to show the film in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences will take away?

Gabourey: I'm so excited to show the film in Nantucket! For one, I've always wanted to visit Nantucket. Among other locations, I've planned many excursions and weekend trips to Nantucket in computer class when I was a broke teenager in high school who obviously couldn't afford to go on an actual trip at all. I've always felt drawn to the beauty and serenity of Nantucket and finally I get to visit it in the most amazing way! Through my film! Through art.  And what my art is intending to do, is to encourage audiences to walk away feeling a greater connection to the humanity, the sensitivity and the grace of the quiet struggles our neighbor shoulder.  By telling the stories of these four women Nina Simone sang about, we are honoring Nina, we honor our mothers, our communities and ourselves. We hope to encourage the audience to do the same after watching our film. 

Five Questions With... Directors Pulkit Datta, Liam Harris, and Peter Stanley-Ward, Directors of KIDS SHORTS

We have a screening for the whole family! A selection of both animated and live action films are in our KIDS SHORTS program - we spoke with directors Pulkit Datta (WISHFUL WHISKERS), Liam Harris (PERCHED), and Peter Stanley-Ward (LITTERBUGS) about their films. Read more below, and join us at the Dreamland 9:45am on Saturday, 6/24!

NFF (To all): Your film is in the "Kids Shorts" block - did you set out to make a kid-friendly film?

Pulkit: I didn’t really plan on making a children’s film. It organically turned out that way. When the idea for the story first came to me, I just wrote the script out of a burst of inspiration. But I think because the story was always from the perspective of a little girl, and there’s so much innocence and wonder in her world, it became labeled as a children’s film by people who were reading the script to give me feedback, and how it was evolving. It’s always surprising and exciting when a script starts taking its own path, so then I just embraced it as a kid-friendly film. And I’m so glad I did, because so far it’s been a hit with all the kids we’ve shown it to.

Liam: We didn’t specifically go out with the idea to make the film for a specific aged range, we intended right from the start that this would be a film for all ages. Having grown up with animated family adventures, I wanted to follow suit and give the audience the opportunity of experiencing the film with each another, no matter where you are from or how old you are.

Peter: We did and we also wanted the whole family to enjoy it. We wanted to make a live-action film with an all kid cast. This is something that was common when we were growing up but isn’t so much these days. There are lots of animations for kids now, which we love as well, but wanted to make a film with real kids in for this generation.

NFF (To Pulkit): Can you talk a little about your inspiration?

Pulkit: WISHFUL WHISKERS is a story that's close to my heart. It was inspired by the time I've spent playing with my nephew and niece. I loved experiencing their limitless imagination - they can conjure up entire worlds around them, using the most mundane objects and furniture. That, to me, was incredibly fascinating and fun. So a big part of the inspiration to write the script was from playing games and make-believe with them. 

The whole mustache angle came in because it’s such a strong and identifiable symbol, and has been over time, around the world. Mustaches signify so many things in different places. It’s a universal thing. And it’s so intertwined with gender identity. Everyone likes to have fun by pretending to have a mustache, even women. So I thought, what if in the world of the film, the little girl actually wants a mustache? It’s a way to play with gender boundaries within the context of a children’s film. And it’s fun! 

NFF (To Liam): Which shows or animators influenced you most?

Liam: I would say one of my most influential animators would be Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit). He is one of the original pioneers of 2D animation and at the ripe old age of 84 he still animates on paper today, which is extraordinary! Not only that he has since taken on the role of tutor to thousands of up and coming animators, which is truly inspiring. His recent film ‘Prologue’ was nominated for a BAFTA and an Oscar which like I said at his age is really unbelievable, I can’t say enough how much belief that gives a young animation filmmaker like myself. I hope to still be as enthusiastic and devoted about animating when I reach his age!

NFF (To Peter): The production design is so wonderfully specific. Did you have the world in mind when you were originally conceiving the shoot?

Peter: Thank you and yes, we did have a very clear idea of what we wanted this world to look and feel like. This began with lots of preparation and included mood boards that evoked the tone and palette we wanted, and a location scout to make sure we found the right place. Marie Lana was our production designer on Litterbugs and she understood this world totally. The sets she built for us were amazing and it took our breath away every time we walked onset. We also wanted a rusty metal vibe throughout the whole movie, so very deliberately, virtually every frame has some sort of rusty metal in it.

NFF (To all): Why are you excited to show the film in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket families will take away?

Pulkit: I’ve heard great things about Nantucket Film Festival, so I was excited when WISHFUL WHISKERS was selected for the festival. I’m always fascinated by how kids react to this film because they’re always very honest. And so far, kids (and adults) have been picking up on different themes and moments of the film. So I’m looking forward to screening the film for Nantucket families to see what jumps out at them. It's a film that I hope encourages and inspires people to think beyond traditional boundaries of social norms and re-embrace their inner child. And above all that, it’s a joyful film, and for me, a successful screening is simply when the film makes the audience smile. 

Liam: I’m super excited to be showing Perched at Nantucket, I feel the location and audience there is perfectly fitting for sharing our story. With the beautiful harbors and long history of the whaling community, I believe our mariner themed story suits Nantucket just right. I hope that the families in attendance take away exciting conversations and a joint experience of laughter and fun whilst watching it. The film showcases bravery and the ability do the right thing and hopefully that message gets across and people take away a positive outlook towards their lives. (Also that seagull’s aren’t all that bad!)

Peter: It’s amazing to have our little film go to places like Nantucket. We wanted kids from around the globe to see this, but we never dreamed it would reach so many families all over the world. We are very proud of the whole film and the message against bullying and in support of friendship is universal, and it seems to mean a lot to many people. Nantucket is a great festival and it’s a real honour to be a part of this year’s line-up. We’re especially excited to be in the kid’s short section. I think if the audience can have just a taste of the wonder that the films I grew up with gave me, then everybody who made Litterbugs would be very happy with that.