Noah Baumbach's Mistress America, Bryan Buckley's The Bronze Added to Program Line-Up

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We're pleased to share that Noah Baumach and Greta Gerwig's latest collaboration Mistress America (pictured) has been added to our line-up as a Spotlight Film, presented by Delta. The screwball comedy stars Lola Kirke (Gone Girl) as a Barnard freshman whose life is shaken up by her soon-to-be stepsister (Gerwig), in a performance that, according to Variety, "confirms Gerwig as one of the great, fearless screen comediennes of her generation."

We've also added another Sundance Opening Night film, The Bronze, which stars The Bing Bang Theory's Melissa Rauch as a foul-mouthed former Olympic gymnast, desperately clinging to the spotlight. Pre-selection tickets are now on sale for pass and package holders so start mapping out your schedules!

An Interview with Almost There Directors Aaron Wickenden and Dan Rybicky

Almost There tells the stranger than fiction story of outsider artist Peter Anton, who was living in extreme squalor amongst his hundreds of paintings in a dilapidated Chicago home when he met directors Aaron Wickenden and Dan Rybicky. Completely taken with the eccentric Anton and his work, Wickenden and Rybicky went to great lengths to organize a gallery show, only to confront a much harsher reality as Anton's personal histories came to light. Operating somewhere at the nexus of Art and Craft and Grey GardensAlmost There is a fascinating character study that probes the convoluted question of morality. Check out our interview with Wickenden and Rybicky below.

 

Did you first meet Peter at the art fair? Without revealing too much, how did your relationship progress both on and off camera? Did you feel that he always presented himself in the same way?

We first met Peter during the summer of 2006 at Pierogi Fest in Northwest Indiana, having initially gone there because the festival was trying to get into the Guinness Book of World Records by unveiling "The World's Largest Pierogi." We brought our cameras with us because we thought that buttery mountain of dough would be a sight to behold. Little did we know we would encounter someone who would change the course of our lives for the next eight years.

Peter was sitting at a rickety table surrounded by his art and trying to make a few bucks by creating pastel portraits of festival goers, especially kids. After observing his process for a bit, he took out his scrapbooks and we were astonished. There are a total of twelve, and all of them are covered with glitter and handmade drawings. Together they tell the story of Peter's life, which he titled Almost There. We were immediately drawn in and exchanged contact info, but it took a couple of years of writing letters back and forth for our relationship to progress to the point where we actually visited Peter.

When we did visit, we were shocked to find Peter's house dilapidated and him living in extreme squalor. Still, Peter's determination to share his story of perseverance in the face of poverty and disability through his creations inspired us, and we wanted to both document and help him. The more we got involved, though, the harder it was to just walk away - which is what Almost There dramatizes.

What's it like working in tandem as directors? Does it make the process at all easier?

Filmmaking is an intensely collaborative art form, and Almost There would have been impossible - practically, creatively and otherwise - without both of us working so closely together on it for so long as both producers and directors. To begin with, the conditions in our main subject's home were so life-threateningly intense that we needed each other just to stay sane and survive the shoots. Because Peter t is elderly and handicapped, it was also important to have the two of us present on a logistical level just so we could help him get around during days when we were filming.

It feels amazing to have a partner who's as invested as you are in a project this complicated and difficult to pull together. And considering what a complex and personal project it is, we were glad as well to have another voice around to help provide some perspective during both the production and editing phase when we were working hard to figure out how to tell our story in the best and most compelling way possible.

The film bares some similar subject qualities to the Maysles' Grey Gardens. Formally speaking, do you have any particular influences?

Grey Gardens is definitely an inspiration for Almost There. We actually had a wonderful meeting in NYC with Albert Maysles a few months before he died. In fact, we were hoping to screen a double feature of our two films at his beautiful cinema in Harlem with him doing our Q&A at some point in the coming year. If only. We miss him already.

Other films that really interest us because they deal with dark stuff in funny yet human and compassionate ways include Marwencol, Crumb and American Movie.

We're proud Almost There is a Kartemquin Films production, as we've been influenced by some of the past titles in their canon as well. In addition to Seve James’ Stevie (which has so many parallels to what we made), we also love the Jerry Blumenthal and Gordon Quinn documentary Golub and how it shows that an artist's work doesn’t exist in a vacuum but is framed by the society and the social conditions in which it was made. With our main subject Peter’s work, we similarly thought you would understand his art better by understanding the cultural and societal forces that helped shape it.

You shot the film over eight years. How were you able to condense such a massive amount of footage?
It took awhile to find the shape and balance of the film. As directors, we both had extensive experience shaping narratives and that helped quite a bit. Dan's background is in playwriting and screenwriting, having received his MFA from NYU's Dramatic Writing Program. Aaron's background is in editing. In fact, as we were starting our edit, Aaron had just completed work on the Oscar-nominated film Finding Vivian Maier.

Also helpful was having to describe the narrative arc of our film in the many grant applications we had to write to obtain funding for our project. We applied to ITVS three times before receiving funding from them, and each time our story became more refined. This writing process gave us a pretty well-developed road map for when we started editing. We knew going into the edit what story we were hoping to tell and just hoped we had the footage to pull it off.

We were also very lucky to have an incredible support team for the edit. We were working under the guidance of our Executive Producers Justine Nagan and Gordon Quinn at Kartemquin Films, and we also hired the talented filmmaker Kyle Henry as an editorial consultant. With our team in place, we set up several feedback screenings over the course of a year where we showed different iterations of our work-in-progress to fellow filmmakers and strangers. It was a humbling experience, and at first, the film wasn't working at all. The audience was confused and didn't know why they would want to spend 90 minutes with our main character, who they found abrasive. We quickly realized we would need to include our own storyline as filmmakers in order to show the audience why we were interested in the character, and that would hopefully give people a reason to stick around and see how our relationship played out.We tried to navigate the notes from those feedback sessions that most resonated with us, and over time we found that criticisms from our audience members got smaller and smaller. A fellow filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein told us, "You know your film is finished when the feedback you get in these types of sessions is about what type of image should be on the poster." Eventually we got to this point. We finished the film...and the poster - and we can't wait to screen what we've made at your wonderful festival come June!

An Interview with Break Point Star Jeremy Sisto

A heartfelt comedy, Break Point follows a pair of dysfunctional brothers, once destined for hard court greatness. While Jimmy (Jeremy Sisto) has kept up with his ailing tennis game, Darren (David Walton) abandoned his hopes for a less than thrilling substitute teacher gig. The tides turn when Jimmy is dumped by his doubles partner and must convince Darren to team up with him in a last-ditch effort for a Grand Slam title.

 

Below, watch an interview with Jeremy Sisto from the Break Point world premiere at SXSW, in which he speaks about developing the concept with director Jay Karas, casting and more.

"The Short Game" Tees Off at NFF18

You may remember Brooklyn Castle, an award-winning documentary about extraordinary young student chess players, at NFF17.

In our tradition of featuring real-life youngsters facing adversity and achieving triumph in unexpected ways, this year we bring you The Short Game. Each year, the world’s best 7 year-old golfers descend on Pinehurst, North Carolina to compete in the World Championships of Junior Golf. The Short Game is a feature documentary that follows eight of these very young athletes on their quest to become the sport’s next phenom alongside 1,500 young golfers from 54 countries. A fascinating and often funny portrait is painted of the athletes and their families, and the narrowly focused, quirky, and highly competitive junior golf subculture becomes a window into contemporary global society.

"It doesn’t matter if you care about football when you’re watching Rudy, because you’re not rooting for the sport, you’re rooting for the little guy. This is a film about little guys. Eight unbelievably talented little guys and girls to be exact," says director Josh Greenbaum. "This is a film about struggle, friendship, family, dedication, hard work, focus, failure, perseverance and triumph. In short, it is a film about the human condition, as told through the lens of one of the oldest sports in our history, being played by the youngest."

See The Short Game at NFF18, and check out this entertaining interview with the young subjects from the film!

NFF Seeks Operations/Outreach Intern for 2012

UPDATE: This position is currently available as of January 31, 2012. Please email our Bill Curran, Operations Manager, to apply: bill@nantucketfilmfestival.org

The Nantucket Film Festival is looking for a dedicated and enthusiastic Operations and Outreach Intern interested in working for school credit or post-graduate educational experience, starting in ASAP and leading up to the Festival, June 22-26, 2011.

The internship will involve planning for the 17th Annual Nantucket Film Festival and will provide hands on education and experience in arts administration, festival production, and outreach and social media coordination. Operations and Outreach Intern will work directly under the supervision and guidance of the Operations Manager, along with the support of the Film Festival staff. Duties include: assisting with execution of social media, marketing, and other outreach plans (Facebook, Twitter, e-blasts, etc.); maintaining and updating festival website; research for marketing and programming operations; assisting Operations Manager with data entry and maintenance of Festival’s database; and general office duties.

Applicants should be attentive to detail, mature, savvy with social media, passionate about film, and have strong organizational and communication skills. Applicants with exceptional knowledge of design software, particularly Adobe Suite programs (e.g. Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign), will be considered first. Familiarity with web design, web content management systems (Joomla, Wordpress), FileMaker Pro, and/or Microsoft Office is a plus.

The time commitment is flexible, but interns will be expected to work between 10-20 hours per week (2 days per week), from now to May 2011, at the Festival's New York office.

Application Instructions:

Interested applicants should email resume and cover letter to Bill Curran, Operations Manager, at bill@nantucketfilmfestival.org. Please put NFF OPERATIONS INTERN in the subject line. This is an unpaid internship. School credit and letters of recommendation are offered.

NFF Seeks Programming Interns for 2012

Internship Opportunity: Screenplay Competition/Programming Department

The Nantucket Film Festival is looking for a limited number of enthusiastic and dedicated interns interested in working for school credit, starting in January 2012 and leading up to the Festival, June 20-24, 2012.

The internship will involve planning for the 17th Annual Nantucket Film Festival and will provide hands on experience in arts administration, festival programming, and festival production. Duties include: assisting the staff with Festival's call for film and script entries, manage film and script submissions, screening and reading committee coordination, outreach, and general office duties. Additional tasks include screening films and reading scripts, research film acquisitions and contact distribution companies and filmmakers requesting screeners. Applicants should be attentive to detail, and have strong organization and communication skills. Office skills are a must (familiarity with general office software such as word and excel is necessary). Knowledge of FileMaker Pro and design software, as well as some familiarity with web design, is a plus.

The time commitment is flexible, but interns will be expected to work between 10-20 hours per week, from January to May 2012, at the Festival's New York office.

Application Instructions:

Interested applicants should email resume and cover letter no later than November 30th, 2011 to info@nantucketfilmfestival.org. Please write the word "internship" in the subject line. Resumes without a cover letter will not be considered. This is an unpaid internship. School credit and letters of recommendation are offered.

NFF Update: BUCK, BEING ELMO, SENNA, TYRANNOSAUR, and more!

Want to catch up with the Nantucket Film Festival? Here are some updates on your favorite flicks from past festivals:

- BUCK and BEING ELMO are among the five nominees for the Gotham Independent Film Award's Festival Genius Audience Award. The award celebrates audience award winners from across the top 50 US and Canadian film festivals, including NFF, where BEING ELMO shared honors with another documentary, TO BE HEARD. NFF fans can log-in to their Festival Genius accounts and vote for their pick. The winner will be announced during this year's Gotham Award's ceremony, taking place Monday, November 28 in New York City.

- Among the other NFF favorites nominated for Gotham Awards: 2010 audience favorite BILL CUNNINGHAM NEW YORK for Best Documentary; Vera Farmiga in Breakthrough Director for HIGHER GROUND (for which she also starred); Jacob Wysocki in Breakthrough Performances for TERRI; and our Centerpiece Film MARGIN CALL for Best Ensemble. Full set of nominees can be found here.

- SENNA and TYRANNOSAUR were among the five nominees for Best Film for the 14th annual Moet British Independent Film Awards, celebrating the country's independent cinema and taking place December 4. SENNA picked up 3 nominations, including one for Best Film, rare for a documentary film. The gut-wrenching and superbly acted TYRANNOSAUR is up for 7 statues, tied for the most nominations in the pack, including Best Film, Actor (Peter Mullan), Actress (Olivia Colman), Supporting Actor (Eddie Marsan), and two for director Paddy Considine. Other films from NFF to secure citations: SUBMARINE (5 nominations) and LIFE IN A DAY (Documentary).

- HAPPY, HAPPY has been named as Norway's official selection for this year's Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Ten semi-finalists will be chosen amongst the 63 total submissions, with five films announced as the nominees for this year's Foreign Language Oscar. Congratulations to the filmmakers and best of luck!

- In select theaters now: MARGIN CALLTHE OTHER F WORD, and THE LAST RITES OF JOE MAY. Coming soon: THE LIE and TYRANNOSAUR.

NFF 2011 Award Winners Announced

On Sunday, June 26, a ceremony was held to award the winner of Showtime’s Tony Cox Screenplay Competition, which recognizes an emerging screenwriter. A jury comprised of Susan Wloszczyna (film reporter, USA Today), Dana Harris (editor-in-chief, indieWIRE), and Rajendra Roy (Celeste Bartos chief curator of film, Museum of Modern Art). chose Kaitlin McLaughlin for the script The Murphys from nearly 700 submissions.

The festival also awarded the fifth annual Adrienne Shelley Excellence in Filmmaking Award, a cash prize awarded to a female filmmaker in honor of the late director. The award was presented to Amy Wendel, director of Benevides Born.

Among other awards, Showtime’s Tony Cox Award for Screenwriting was given to J.C. Chandor for Margin Call. Before Sunday’s closing night screening of Higher Ground, we announced the winners of this year’s awards. The Audience Award for Best Feature was a tie between documentary features To Be Heard and Being Elmo.

Below is a complete list of this year’s NFF award winners:

Showtime’s Tony Cox Screenplay Competition: Kaitlin McLaughlin (The Murphys)

Showtime’s Tony Cox Award for Screenwriting in a Feature Film: J.C. Chandor (Margin Call)

Showtime’s Tony Cox Award for Screenwriting in a Short Film: Lake Bell (Worst Enemy)

Adrienne Shelley Excellence in Filmmaking Award: Amy Wendel (Benevides Born)

Best Writer/Director: Paddy Considine (Tyrannosaur)

Best Storytelling in a Documentary Film: Marc H. Simon (Unraveled)

Audience Award for Best Feature (TIE): To Be Heard (dirs. Amy Sultan, Deborah Shaffer, Roland Legiardi-Laura, Edwin Martinez) & Being Elmo (dir. Constance Marks)

Audience Award for Best Short: Thief (dir. Julian Higgins)

Teen View on NFF Award: Lest We Forget (dir. Chris Godfrey)

All-Star Comedy Roundtable Presented by Ben Stiller at NFF 2011

The All-Star Comedy Roundtable was a smashing success! Each sold our All-Star Comedy Roundtable has continued to be one of the most memorable events at the Festival and the one was no different. Seth Meyers hilariously moderated this relaxed panel discussion with some of the biggest names in comedy: Jerry Seinfeld, Colin Quinn, Aziz Ansari and of course, Ben Stiller. We're already looking forward to next year!

Check out this great article from Track Gals TV about our All-Star Comedy Roundtable. You can also view their own picture galleries from NFF 2011 from the link above.

One Lucky Elephant Screens Tomorrow!

When Flora the elephant loses her zest for performing, David Balding, producer of Nantucket's own Circus Flora, goes on a journey of mammoth proportions to find her a new home, revealing the unintended consequences of raising a wild animal in captivity in One Lucky Elephant. Caught between the human and animal worlds, Flora embodies the harsh reality elephants face as man continues to expand his territory. Filmed over a decade, the documentary raises questions about humans' complex relationships with animals for which there are no easy answers. One thing is certain: After watching this film, it is impossible to look at an elephant in a zoo or a circus in the same way.

Check out the great review for One Lucky Elephant in The LA TimesOne Lucky Elephant screens directly after our All-Star Comedy Roundtable Presented by Ben Stiller on Sunday, June 26th, at 3:30PM at the Nantucket High School. Click here for tickets!