Five Questions With... Lilian Mehrel & Mary Evangelista (WATER MELTS)

WATER MELTS is a blue-hearted rom-com about people who are going to lose someone they love. Nobody knows what to say, so they bicker, laugh/cry, and get married. It's a romantic comedy, after all.

This virtual reality experience is available in our Legacy Lounge in the Harborview Room - take a look at the teaser below, as well as our filmmaker Q&A, and try it out for yourself this week!

NFF: Please say a little about your inspiration for the film.

LILIAN & MARY: Each of us co-creators were handed similar cards - the person we love most was given a terminal diagnosis. We came together and realized the story we had to create: a story that didn't exist yet. A story about the struggle to enjoy the moment with your loved one when you have been told you will lose them. It's almost impossible to be light under urgent dark clouds, but we knew what it felt like to live for the smallest of golden moments. And how the most absurd comedic moments burst forth from these tightly wound circumstances. And how it's about love.

NFF: Why do you enjoy working in VR to express your vision?

LILIAN & MARY: We are storytellers first, but we love the challenge of telling a story in this medium. When the entire space is our canvas, how do we imbue scenes with feeling? WATER MELTS is unique in the 360 realm as a narrative-driven cinematic piece. It also stands out in its play with genre: a blue-hearted rom-com.

We embraced a minimalist naturalism with long takes (the way it might feel to be sitting near a couple on the beach, eavesdropping on their argument) -the dreamy theatrics of life. We wanted the audience to have breathing room to look around and take in the vastness of the beach, to choose to watch the characters or let their conversation wash over you as you follow an animation. The blank canvas beach environment allowed any Fellini-esque absurdity to stand out in contrast.

We also enjoyed playing with cinematic touches in editing, like creating a slow-motion 360 montage.

It also brings an old-school element to the new medium in a fresh way. We overlay classic hand-painted animation (created by Emmy-award-winning artist Maya Edelman) on the 3-dimensional live-action footage. The real and the unreal co-existing in this surreal emotional landscape - the way humor and heartbreak can live together too.

NFF: What do you find the biggest advantages and challenges of making a film in this way, vs. "traditional" filmmaking?

LILIAN & MARY: The biggest advantage is the minimalism, which forces us to sharpen our storytelling skills. Also by allowing us to give audiences a life-like experience, we were able to let the real (live-action) and the unreal (animation) co-exist in a surreal emotional landscape - the way humor and heartbreak can live together too. So we overlaid old-school hand-painted animation (created by Emmy-award-winning Broad City artist Maya Edelman) on the 3-dimensional live-action footage.

The biggest disadvantage is the difficulty in sharing the final work with wide audiences.

NFF: What are you working on currently, and/or where can we see more of your work?

LILIAN & MARY: We’re working on a new romantic-comedy-with-an-edge series. More about our work at www.lilianmehrel.com and www.maryevangelista.com.

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

LILIAN & MARY: We love the emphasis on screenwriting at Nantucket, and hope audiences will connect to our storytelling first and foremost. We also hope that those who see themselves in our characters and circumstances will feel seen. We would love to engage with audiences and invite anyone to share impressions with us - hashtag #WaterMelts and feel free to message us on Instagram (@lilianfilm @maryelista) - thank you!

Five Questions With... Hannah Elless (NORA EPHRON GOES TO PRISON)

In NORA EPHRON GOES TO PRISON, two women from different worlds meet in unexpected circumstances, but an unlikely friendship blooms based on their common love of Nora Ephron.

Take a look at our video interview with Director Hannah Elless, and catch the film in the “Laugh Out Loud” block of shorts on Fri, June 21 at 9:15am and Sat, June 22 at 4:15pm!

Five Questions With... Thomas Matthews (LOST HOLIDAY)

Back home in Washington, DC, for the holidays, a young woman and her irresponsible friends find themselves embroiled in an unexpected adventure involving kidnapping, drugs, and extortion. LOST HOLIDAY features Kate Lyn Sheil, Thomas Matthews, William Jackson Harper, and Joshua Leonard.

Writer/director/producer/actor Thomas Matthews answered our five questions in the video below - take a look, and see LOST HOLIDAY on Thurs, June 20 at 6:45pm and/or Sat, June 22 at 2pm!

Five Questions With... Lisa Cortés, producer of THE TALE OF FOUR

THE TALE OF FOUR is Oscar®-nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe's (EmpirePrecious) directorial debut. We're proud to present this piece at our Afternoon Tea Talk on Sunday, June 25 at 2:15pm, followed by a lively, moderated conversation accompanied by tea and treats.

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.

Sidibe’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 producer Lisa Cortés about the film, and are also happy to present the first trailer, below. Take a look, and join us on Sunday!

NFF: Can you talk a little about how this project came to you? Why were you interested in this script?

Lisa: I've had the pleasure of knowing Gabby (Gabourey) since working with her as a Producer on "Precious". When she was putting together the team for The Tale of Four, she and her manager reached out and asked if I'd be interested in joining the team. Hello, where do I sign up? I love when personal and professional relationships come full circle. 

The story is timely and relevant to where we find ourselves right now. The script spoke to me because it compliments much of my work which has been committed to telling expansive stories about our Black bodies.  

NFF: The film asks a lot of questions about identity and how we define ourselves. Do you think self-image is something that can be shaped and changed, or is it more structured and set?

Lisa: Self-image can be fluid. The woman I am is different from the girl I was. The change happened because I did the work (which never stops) and met the right people along the way who supported my quest.  What's important is that we create mirrors in our work that provide vistas and portals to possibility and change.

NFF: Why is this film important right now?

Lisa: The characters in the film were inspired by the women that Nina Simone sang about in 1966 in her iconic song, "Four Women".  Some of the challenging situations and microaggressions that these sisters undergo are still a part of our everyday experiences as Black women. If it's true that "the more things change, the more they stay the same",  I hope that their are lessons for empowerment and self love to be found within our film.

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

Lisa: I have tremendous respect for Gabby and was delighted to see that all the ideals she upholds and represents are a part of her directing style.  We had a set filled with committed, smart and passionate people. Yes, there were challenges but along with the other producers - Refinery29 (Amy Emmerich, Shannon Gibson and Kate Bolger) and Kia Perry we always built upon our community to find solutions.

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

Lisa: I am so looking forward to premiering our film at Nantucket. The strong direction and rich programming of the festival promises to provide a forum for thoughtful exchanges about film and its ability to create empathy and fuel change.

Producer Lisa Cortés

Producer Lisa Cortés

Watch Q&A with Lily Rabe and Julia Hart, Writer/Director of MISS. STEVENS

Feature selection, MISS STEVENS, is Julia Hart's directorial debut, starring Lily Rabe, celebrated veteran of stage and screen. Julia Hart’s debut script "The Keeping Room" landed on the Black List and was made into a feature directed by Daniel Barber starring Brit Marling. She’s written for John Requa and Glenn Ficarra at Fox Searchlight, Ridley Scott’s company Scott Free and has a mini-series in the works at HBO with Anna Paquin and Jack Black. 

MISS STEVENS had its World Premiere at SxSW where Julia sat to speak about the film. She's joined by Actress Lily Rabe (who plays Miss Stevens) and actor Anthony Quintal (who plays Sam).

MISS STEVENS is playing Nantucket Film Festival on June 24th and 25th.

TICKLED director David Farrier talks competitive tickling

Hot off of a successful bow at this year's Sundance Film Festival, New Zealand journalist, David Farrier's TICKLED is part of this year's documentary line-up at NFF.  Farrier came to the topic after his two-minute news segment was met with intimidation and legal action, and expanded into a feature-length documentary.

VICE news spoke with Farrier about the making of the story, and his own ten minutes in a competitive tickling chair!

TICKLED plays Nantucket Fest: Friday, June 24th and Sunday, June 26th. 

Molly Shannon Shines in Dramatic Role in SPOTLIGHT film "Other People"

Molly Shannon teams with SNL alum, and first time filmmaker, Chris Kelly (Broad City), to star in her latest dramatic role, this time about a mother battling cancer.  Despite the film's serious focus, it maintains a thread of humor as Shannon's character, Joanne, and her son, David (Breaking Bad's Jesse Plemons) navigate the realities and poignant moments surrounding her decline in health.  Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) rounds out this stellar cast in Kelly's affecting and unforgettable dramedy.

We proudly present OTHER PEOPLE as one of 2016's Spotlight films. 

Watch Molly Shannon, Jesse Plemons and Bradley Whitford discuss their roles, with director, Chris Kelly.  Courtesy of THR

Watch Mike Birbiglia discuss Spotlight film DON'T THINK TWICE

Mike Birbiglia, star of NFF16 Spotlight film, Don't Think Twice, talks with the NY Times about making the film.

Don't Think Twice co-stars Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele) and Gillian Jacobs (Community) and follows a group of comedian friends who rethink their futures as performers when one of them gets a big break and becomes famous.

Dr. Philip Zimbardo and Kyle Patrick Alvarez on The Stanford Prison Experiment

At the Sundance Film Festival, Dr. Philip Zimbardo and director Kyle Patrick Alvarez sat down to discuss the former's psychological experiments, which served as the basis for Alvarez's film, The Stanford Prison Experiment. 1n 1971, Zimbardo embarked on a study of power dynamics as he assigned 24 male Stanford undergraduates to the role of either prisoner or guard, with absolute power given to the enforcers, resulting in a very violent and tense experiment. Check out the video below to learn more from the pair.