Five Questions With... Charlie Tyrell, Director of MY DEAD DAD'S PORNO TAPES

In MY DEAD DAD'S PORNO TAPES, the filmmaker tries to better understand his deceased father through random objects he inherited, including a pile of dirty movies. 

We spoke to filmmaker Charlie Tyrell - read more below, and see the film in the Shorts of the Year block, playing Sat, Jun 23 at 9:00am!

CHARLIE TYRELL

CHARLIE TYRELL

NFF: The film is obviously very personal. Was anything off-limits to use in the film?

CHARLIE: Not really - I mean there were tons of limitations in general. The first being that we only wanted to animate with objects that belonged to my dad, and the second being that I knew my mom, brother, and sister wouldn't really be up to on-camera interviews which is why they were (unknowingly) interviewed and recorded over the phone. But I did keep my family a little in the dark about what kind of content I would include in the film, so it was pretty terrifying when I finally showed it to them. 

NFF: Can you talk a little about the decision to incorporate animation in the storytelling?

CHARLIE: I generally try to incorporate stop motion or animation into any project I'm working on, but in this case it happened to be a perfect fit. My dad's not around to get answers from and there are very little home movies so we had to tell the story with his stuff. But Martha and Phil (the stop motion team) really brought their talents to the table by giving these inanimate objects such fluid movements that really help with the exploratory nature of the story. And then Marty (our 2D animator) brought an extra layer with his animations - including having all of the subtitles for the interviews in the hand writing of the person speaking. That was especially hard to do for my dad and grandmother - we had to source old notes and christmas cards to build an alphabet of their printing.  

NFF: How has your family reacted to the film?

CHARLIE: Well my mom is (obviously) great and has been very supportive through the whole process. I think even if I made a film that she didn't agree with, she would respect that it was my personal perspective. My brother and sister have also been appreciative about it. I think we all find it kind of nice to introduce total strangers to our dad.  

NFF: Has making the film changed or expanded your understanding or relationship to grief?

CHARLIE: This film was kind of made out of a feeling that I hadn't completely settled my grief. Since my dad passed away when I was in my second year of university I felt like I never got to know him as an adult and had to acknowledge that I would never be able to know him from that perspective. So this was me as a fully formed adult taking what I had left of him and what we all knew of him to try to build that to develop a better understanding of him.

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

CHARLIE: Of course! And I'm pretty bummed that I couldn't be there. I'm always happy to be surprised by what someone takes away from the film. I've had strangers come up to me after screenings or send me very personal emails that say "I had the exact same relationship with my dad" or some people can't get past the title. But I made this film for myself so even if it's not a person's cup of tea then I'm totally cool with that too. 

Five Questions With... Dana Adam Shapiro, Director/Producer of DAUGHTERS OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE DALLAS COWBOYS CHEERLEADERS

This 2018 SXSW Special Jury Award-winning film is an entertaining and intriguing look at the iconic Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Dana Adam Shapiro (Murderball, NFF 2005) explores the squad’s history and cultural impact in relation to America’s shifting views of women’s roles and sexual freedom in the 1970s. Former squad members—and, most notably, their outspoken, fiercely protective den mother, Suzanne Mitchell—offer unique perspective and explain how the cheerleaders balanced wholesomeness with empowered sexuality to become a pop-culture phenomenon, all while contending with sexism behind the scenes.

Read more with director/producer Dana Adam Shapiro below, and see DAUGHTERS OF THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE DALLAS COWBOYS CHEERLEADERS on Sat, June 23 at 6:30pm and/or Sun, June 24 at 6:15pm!

DANA ADAM SHAPIRO

DANA ADAM SHAPIRO

NFF: Can you talk a little about why now seems like an appropriate cultural moment for this film?

DANA: When we started filming in January 2016, there was no President Trump, no #MeToo movement. Now, of course, we're in the middle of a gender revolution, and the NFL is in crisis.  I would love to say that we were prescient, but the truth is, we got lucky.  

NFF: How familiar were you with the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders before embarking on this film? How did you come to the story?

DANA: Not familiar at all.  I'm from Boston.  The film began at a party in Laurel Canyon on Super Bowl Sunday in 2015.  We were watching the Patriots play the Seahawks with my two-year-old son.  It was his very first football game so I was explaining all the different positions. That’s the quarterback—he throws the ball. There’s the coach—he calls the plays.  Then the camera panned over to the cheerleaders and I remember thinking: We still have cheerleaders?  It felt retro, kind of kitschy, and I wondered: How did all this start?  Nobody at the party had any idea, so I set out to find out how scantily-clad showgirls wound up on the sidelines of sporting events.  

Sure enough, my research led me to Dallas.  In the fall of 1972, nine years after the Kennedy assassination, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders debuted at Texas Stadium, offering football fans “a little sex with their violence.” Meanwhile, across town, at the Dallas County Courthouse, a pregnant plaintiff known only as “Jane Roe” was about to ignite a culture war with a landmark Supreme Court decision giving women control over their own bodies for the first time ever.  And all of this was happening in the Baptist buckle of the Bible Belt at the height of the Sexual Revolution. 

There was a story here.  But it didn't become a film until we met Suzanne Mitchell, the mastermind — and matriarch -- of the squad from 1976-1989. 

NFF: What do you think about the current lawsuits and allegations in the professional cheerleading community, including the Cowboys?

DANA: I think it's about time.  

NFF: Did you face any particular challenges or surprises while filming?

DANA: 
We got a few calls from the Cowboys attorney.  I have since become an expert in the definition of "fair use."

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?

DANA: I've been coming to Cape Cod since I was a little kid, my grandmother lived in Falmouth.  And my first film, MURDERBALL, played here in 2005.  So I couldn't be happier to be back.

As for what I hope audiences will take away...  My favorite reaction is when people come in with a lot of judgement about these women, thinking that they're just a bunch of red state, bubble-headed Barbie dolls.  I thought the same thing.  And it's very cathartic to be confronted with your own judgementalism.  

Five Questions With... Paloma Baeza, Writer/Director of POLES APART

In a harsh Arctic landscape, a hungry and solitary polar bear (voice of Helena Bonham Carter) has to decide whether a naïve grizzly bear is her food or her friend. 

POLES APART is playing with Kids Shorts on Saturday, June 23 at 9am. We spoke with Writer/Director about this delightful, animated short film - read more with Paloma below, and bring your family to the program on Saturday morning!

PALOMA BAEZA

PALOMA BAEZA

NFF: Can you talk a little about your inspiration for the film?

PALOMA: We read a news article which described a helicopter view over a white Arctic landscape. There amid the white, a distant dark figure moved across the ice - a Grizzly Bear.  The piece talked about how the melting Arctic ice, a consequence of global warming, was bringing Grizzlies and Polar Bears together, sometimes producing hybrid bears.  Polar Bears are struggling to find food as the ice diminishes and can be seen desperately thin, hunting whatever they can find.  This seemed an interesting backdrop for a story about an unlikely friendship.  

NFF: Why do you like to use animation to tell stories, rather than live action?

PALOMA: We both come from a live-action background.  Using animation, live action, or a hybrid of both, should be dictated by the story and what it requires.  Animation offers a huge amount of freedom in terms of the kind of stories you can tell, since you can take things to magical, surreal, unexpected places.  Like talking bears in the Arctic! 

NFF: How did you connect with your wonderful voice actors / were the roles written for them?

PALOMA: The roles weren’t written for them, but we were incredibly lucky to get such perfect bears.  Joseph May is an old friend and colleague, and will often read my scripts at an early stage to give me his opinion.  When he read Poles Apart, he immediately asked if he could play the grizzly.  In some ways I may as well have written it for him - he was the perfect fit, with his Canadian roots and brilliant comic timing. Helena Bonham Carter instantly loved the script and wanted to help us.  She was very generous with her time,  and tried different voices until we found the right one for a grumpy Nanuk.  

NFF: Did you face any challenges or surprises while filming?

PALOMA: Keeping a stop-motion set going is always challenging, and we didn’t make life easy for ourselves by writing a script that required a blizzard, trees growing in an ice cave, a falling cliff, expanses of water...you name it.  The toughest shots were the long complex ones, which sometimes required animating through the night over days to keep the set conditions stable. The end shot was done with another animator and I taking shifts so we could get a few hours sleep between animating.  

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

PALOMA: It’s a fantastic festival with a great programme.  We hope audiences will enjoy the absurd humour of the film, while absorbing the very real background story of our changing landscape.

 

Five Questions With... Robert Greene, Director of BISBEE '17

Bisbee, Arizona, a former copper-mining town on the border with Mexico, has never reckoned with its dark past. In 1917, a strike by mine workers, many of them immigrants, was violently brought to an end with an illegal forced mass deportation. On the occasion of this tragedy's centenary, innovative nonfiction filmmaker Robert Greene (Kate Plays Christine, NFF 2016) collaborates with residents to confront this troubling episode through a town-wide reenactment, one that has haunting resonance with our present-day debates about immigration, unions, and corporate power.

Robert sent in this special video interview below - take a look, and check out BISBEE '17 on Sat, June 23 at 8:30pm and Sun, June 24 at 4pm!

Five Questions With... Rudy Valdez, Director of THE SENTENCE

Director Rudy Valdez’s sister, Cindy, a married mother of three young girls, long ago left a drug-dealing ex. Despite this, she receives a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison under conspiracy charges related to his crimes. Over a period of ten years, Rudy’s camera captures the moments in his nieces’ lives that Cindy is missing. This personal portrait of the devastating impact of draconian laws on families was an Audience Award winner at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Read more with Rudy below, and see THE SENTENCE on Fri, June 22 at 2pm and Sat, June 23 at 10:30am!

RUDY VALDEZ

RUDY VALDEZ

NFF: This film is obviously very personal to you - did you have any reservations about laying yourself and your family's story bare? 

RUDY: The film is very personal.  I certainly had reservations about telling such an intimate story, but ultimately felt like I would be doing my family a disservice if I didn’t share.  To me, this was only going to remain a terrible event in my family's history if we allowed it to be.  I wanted so much to make something good out of this.  I promised my family that I wouldn’t let this be in vain.

NFF: Did making the film change your relationship to your sister (or your family at large)?

RUDY: The film did not change our relationship - what you see on screen is what you get.

NFF: What would you want to tell audiences who want to get involved in a prison reform campaign or conversation?

RUDY: When audiences ask how they can get involved I often say pay attention to what you are voting for.  Read between the lines when people starting using rhetoric like “soft on crime” or “hard on crime”.  With that said, I also ask people that are moved by the film - that feel like this is a call to action for them - to fight! There are so many people in prison with stories just like my sister.  They don’t all have someone on the outside fighting for them.  Find someone and fight for them. 

NFF: Did you face any particular challenges or surprises when filming/assembling the film?

RUDY: No!

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?

RUDY: I’m excited to screen and Nantucket because as a documentary filmmaker we often work in a vacuum.  Wondering if what we are making is going to resonate.  If it’s going to be seen at all. To be invited to such a wonderful film festival is an honor, and I can’t wait to share the story and see what the audience takes away from it.  

Five Questions With... Sarah Ginsburg, Director of SPACESAVERS

Sarah Ginsburg's short documentary SPACESAVERS profiles how when it snows, Boston residents respond to threats to parking spaces with subconscious self-expression.

We spoke with Sarah about this short and sweet doc - read more, and check it out in the shorts program "It's All True," playing Thursday, June 21 at 9am!

SARAH GINSBURG

SARAH GINSBURG

NFF: What inspired the film? Are you a Boston local?

SARAH: I went to school in Boston and stuck around for about 5 years after graduating, watching a majority of my peers leave for bigger cities and warmer climates. As rent prices increased, I found myself living in a funny little residential neighborhood in Somerville alongside mostly retired folks who had grown up there. Boston's winter of 2015, with its relentless and record breaking snowfall, showed me a side of the city, including my own quiet neighborhood, I hadn't seen before but totally believed. The items people chose to put out on the street and save their much labored over parking spot spoke so loudly to me. I saw determination, persistence, wit, humor, pride, sacrifice and artistry in the space saving operation but then I also saw a simple way to document it. 

NFF: The film communicates everything it needs to in just three minutes. Did you cut a lot of material down, or did you always intend it to be a snapshot? 

SARAH: As with any film ever made, the stripping down of this film in the edit was painful but necessary. With the help of friends' feedback, I let the space savers be the lead in a solo performance instead of trying to paint a well-rounded portrait of the neighborhood and all its quirks. Once I recovered from losing some of my favorite shots, I focused on creating different feelings and bringing out the whimsy of it all by playing with the order of shots and audio.

NFF: Did you discover any particularly weird or interesting space spavers? 

SARAH: It's not in the film but there's the well-known and highly anticipated bust of Elvis that some one in Southie puts out every year. I love to see any type of toilet out there doing its job. My favorite in the film is definitely the walker that my next door neighbor's put out with a laminated sign explaining why it would be rude to move the walker and take the spot.

NFF: Did filming present any particular challenges you weren't anticipating? 

SARAH: Taking your gloves off to set up a freezing cold metal tripod and press record as gusts of wind blow snow in your face can be challenging but I'm extremely tough and brave and had on a super warm winter coat given to me by my mom, so I was just fine.

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? 

SARAH: I consider Boston and Nantucket to be friends. There's a camaraderie that exists probably because of proximity, sports teams and extreme weather. Just as you'd help your neighbor shovel their car or maybe just share their pain from inside your warm home as you watch them shovel their car, I imagine Nantucket residents and festival attendees enjoying a little bite of Boston's rich heritage captured.  

Five Questions With... Finn O'Hara, Director of I LOVE YOUR F*CKING NAME

In the short documentary I LOVE YOUR F*CKING NAME, people discuss the trials and joys they have experienced because of their unusual or famous names.

We spoke with director Finn O'Hara about the film and what's in a name. Read more, and see the film in shorts block "It's All True," playing Thursday, June 21 at 9am!

FINN O'HARA

FINN O'HARA

NFF: How did you find all of the subjects? 

FINN: I started with a Craigslist ad as I wanted the casting process to be an unexpected exercise. I thought that if people saw the ad, or heard about it, they’d be drawn into the conversation I was looking to have about the complex relationship they had with their given name. If it piqued their interest, I knew I’d have an engaged participant.

NFF: Can you talk a little about your inspiration, and/or why you wanted to share these stories? 

FINN: Growing up in the rural country meant that my super Irish name marked me as being different. I didn’t want to be different, and I just wanted to fit in. I always had to explain my name, and I stored up a handful of responses to the same questions about my name that would help diffuse the attention my name brought me. I was shy, and didn’t like the attention that my name brought to me in social situations. I hated my name, and tried my best to hide it. But it was in University, in another town, that my name was actually well received. Random people would actually come up to me and say “Hey, I love your fucking name”, and it really took me by surprise. At that time in my life, I began to discover who I was and began to like myself. My name actually helped mark me as being different and it made me who I am.

So fast forward to a few years back when I realized that many people have gone though the same paths as me with their names, and I saw it as a way to explore how people grow with what they have, and love who they are.

NFF: Have you struggled at all with your own name? Or do you f*ing love your name?

FINN: See above! And oh yes, I love my fucking name.

NFF: Any particular challenges or surprises that came up during shooting?

FINN: We were really surprised by the level of sincerity and openness that our subjects gave me during their interview. It was the first time I had met all of them, and our conversations were candid and inspiring. 

Oh, and that Peter Pan actually dressed as Peter Pan for Halloween. That kept us in stitches for a while.

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?

FINN: I’m hoping that the Nantucket audiences take away from my film the fact that most of us share a common journey about personal acceptance and our unique space in the world. Some just have a steeper pitch to climb along that journey, and we can all learn through this film’s light hearted, empathetic conversation.

Oh, and if you’re going to have kids, spend a bit of time before you name your child. Say the whole name out loud, ask your friends, Google it. Do your homework and dodge a lifetime of regret.

Five Questions With... Donal Lardner Ward, Writer/Director of WE ONLY KNOW SO MUCH

WE ONLY KNOW SO MUCH reveals the emotional life of four generations of the Copeland family. As Jean (Jeanne Tripplehorn) reckons with the consequences of an affair, her husband, Gordon (Damian Young), worries he’s falling prey to the same dementia that has afflicted his father, Theodore (Loudon Wainwright III). Their children, Otis (Noah Schnapp, Stranger Things) and Priscilla (Taylor Rose), navigate the pitfalls of first love and young adulthood, while the family’s 95-year-old matriarch, Vivian (Virginia Robinson), struggles to maintain control of the household in this comedic drama.

Read more with writer/director Donal Lardner Ward below, and join us for the WORLD PREMIERE of WE ONLY KNOW SO MUCH on Thurs, June 21 at 3:30pm and Sat, June 23 at 4:15pm!

DONAL LARDNER WARD

DONAL LARDNER WARD

NFF: Can you talk a little about your inspiration for the film? 

DONAL: I was looking for something that could be shot on a micro budget, in a contained way, when I read my old friend, Betsy Crane’s, debut novel about a multigenerational family spinning out in different directions, in search of something they feared they’d lost or might never gain. I feel that sort of self-centered fear is endemic and destructive in contemporary life and I wanted to explore it. I also knew an increasing number of people who were dealing with taking care of elderly, sick parents and young children at the same time. What they call the “sandwich generation.” It’s a growing phenomenon, with people living longer and having kids later, and I hadn’t seen it addressed very much. By the time we finished the film I was living it. 

NFF:  The film depicts many different permutations and variations of love. What's your definition?

DONAL: Love is the particle that charges the atom of humanity, the connective tissue that gives our species dimension, shape, insulation against the chill of the great void. Without love, in all its forms, we drift apart, dissipate into nothingness.

NFF: How did Jeanne Tripplehorn become attached to the project? Had you worked together before?

DONAL: I met Jeanne through our mutual friend, Ben Stiller, many years ago. When I showed him the script for the film he thought she might be right for it. That was an understatement. 

NFF: Did you face any particular challenges or surprises while filming?

DONAL: We faced the age-old, dual challenge of independent filmmaking: lack of funds and time. There were a couple of things we missed in our lightning fast, 15-day schedule. However, by the time we organized reshoots at the beautiful old house that was our primary location, it had been sold and leveled, reduced to a pile of brown dirt. We had to recreate a section of the exterior on a shoestring. The enthusiastic commitment of our amazing cast and crew made the impossible possible. 

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?

DONAL: I’m excited about screening at Nantucket because it’s a literary festival, a place where audiences appreciate thoughtful storytelling. The film is based on a novel, and books, and the concept of story, are central elements. I hope people come away from the film with a refreshed appreciation for the people and love they have in their lives. 

Five Questions With... Jeremiah Zagar, Director of WE THE ANIMALS

Adapted from the magical realist novel by Justin Torres, this Sundance award-winning film depicts three inseparable brothers growing up in a volatile household. Jeremiah Zagar brings the audience into intimate proximity with the boys, who watch, without always comprehending, the troubled relationship between their parents (Raúl Castillo, Sheila Vand), and, in their own ways, emulate them. The perspective of the youngest son, Jonah (Evan Rosado), who recognizes that he is different from his brothers, takes center stage in this poetic and impressionist coming-of-age story of self-discovery.

Read more with director Jeremiah Zagar below, and see WE THE ANIMALS on Wed, June 20 at 8:30pm and/or Thurs, June 21 at 5:30pm!

JEREMIAH ZAGAR photo credit Mike Kamber

JEREMIAH ZAGAR
photo credit Mike Kamber

NFF: Can you talk a little about the challenge in adapting a book to film?

Jeremiah: After I read the book and Justin Torres said yes to having me adapt it for the screen, I brought on my friend Daniel Kitrosser, whom I’ve known since High School, to co-write the script as he had a very similar sexual experience in his upbringing to the young man in the book. Our starting point was the two of us sitting there and translating the novel directly to the screen. After participating in the Sundance Labs program, we realized there’s much more work to do. We remained as true as possible to the book, but we had to change certain things for it to work cinematically such as having the story take place over the course of one year instead of many years so the audience could have a deeper emotional connection with the characters.

NFF: How did you come to the idea of using animation?

Jeremiah: We needed to get into the interior mind of the young main character, Jonah, so at first, we just had shots of the still drawings on the page. After watching the first cut of the film, it became clear that it wasn’t enough to see these drawings laying flat on the screen. With my background being in animation and using it in my previous films, it was a go-to that made complete sense to me. Everyone involved loved the idea so we went with it.

NFF: How did you find your remarkable child actors, and what was it like building a family with them on set?

Jeremiah: We had an incredible Grassroots Casting Director Marlena Skrobe. We worked with her previously, as she was actually an intern at Public Record, the production company Jeremy Yaches and I are partners in.  Marlena went around the city and saw around one thousand kids for the film. But not only did we have to find three incredible actors, but three incredible actors that felt like brothers. I’d say finding them was less of a challenge and more of a miracle.

Once we found our cast, it was all about creating an environment on and off set where they could feel like they lived together. That was important to us as it created a beautiful bond between the actors that is intangible yet still present when watching the movie.

NFF: Did you face any challenges or surprises while filming?

Jeremiah: Everything was a challenge and a surprise.

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?

Jeremiah: I hear Nantucket is a beautiful place and I wish I could be there with you.

Five Questions With... Don Hardy, Director/Producer/Editor/Cinematographer of PICK OF THE LITTER

In PICK OF THE LITTER, Phil, Primrose, Potomac, Patriot, and Poppet are all in the running for a vitally important, life-changing job, but they’ll have to make it through intense training first. These five adorable puppies from the same litter are candidates to become guide dogs for the blind. Dana Nachman and Don Hardy follow them from birth through training to see which dogs have what it takes to be paired with one of the 500 applicants seeking their assistance, including Janet, waiting for her fourth dog, and Ron, waiting for his first. 

We spoke with Director/Producer/Editor/Cinematographer Don Hardy about all things puppies - read more with Don, and then bring your family to see PICK OF THE LITTER on Wed, June 20 at 1pm and/or Thurs, June 21 at 10am! 

DON HARDY

DON HARDY

NFF: How did you find/come to this story and meet the puppies? 

DON: My filmmaking partner Dana Nachman and I had known about organization Guide Dogs for the Blind for many years. We'd done a few stories on them during our time at the NBC affiliate in San Francisco in the early 2000s and always thought they would make for a good documentary. Years later, after we'd left television and made a few documentaries, the idea of doing something on guide dogs resurfaced and we thought it would be great to focus the film on a single litter of puppies. The nice folks from Guide Dogs for the Blind liked the concept and trusted us to as filmmakers so then we waited for the right moment to begin filming. Our litter was born on June 2nd, 2015. Poppet, Patriot, Primrose, Potomac and Phil.

NFF: Did you become attached to these dogs (and trainers/owners) during filming, or were you able to remain objective? 

DON: Definitely. We knew the dogs very well and they knew us. It's always a challenge to remain objective with your characters (human or canine) in documentaries, but I think we did a good job of following the stories as they unfolded and those twists and turns are seen in the film. It's a real roller-coaster ride. 

NFF: Are you still in touch with all of the owners (and dogs)?

DON: Yep. We're still in touch with everybody and many of the dogs and people featured in the film have come out to screenings help us share the story with audiences. Lots of other guide dogs in training have come out to see the film as well. It's great fun to see a theater full of dogs enjoying PICK OF THE LITTER.

NFF: Did filming/working with animals present any particular challenges you weren't anticipating?

DON: Yeah...a ton of them. The biggest challenge was keeping up with the dogs during the final weeks of training. They move quickly down the street and we had to develop a camera-rig that would allow us to move side-by-side with them and not impede their training process. 

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?

DON: I've always heard great things about the Nantucket Film Festival and this is the first time I've had a film I directed selected to be part of the lineup. 

I hope audiences learn a bit more about these amazing dogs and the intense training they go through in order to take on the job of working with a person who is blind. Also, these days we are bombarded with negativity and it can feel hopeless at times. If audiences can sit back and enjoy this story of kindness and, in some small way, have their faith in the goodness of people restored for at least a couple hours I'll be happy.