Academy Awards 2019

The 91st Academy Award nominations were announced this morning, and NFF alums are in the mix! Take a look, and root for your NFF favorites on February 24.

Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close, THE WIFE

Animated Feature Film

Short Film (Animated)
BAO, Domee Shi

Original Screenplay
FIRST REFORMED, Paul Schrader GREEN BOOK, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Peter Farrelly*
*longtime host of Late Night Storytelling

Documentary (Feature)
RBG, Betsy West, Julie Cohen - NFF Now

Documentary (Short Subject)
END GAME, Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

Foreign Language Film

Awards Season is Here!

Take a look at all the NFF alums and friends that are currently being recognized, and stay tuned for another round of nominations and wins in the coming weeks!



Academy Award Shortlist (nominations coming on January 22!)

Documentary Feature:

Documentary Short Subjects:

Foreign Language Film:

Music (Original Score):

Music (Original Song):

Short Film (Animated):

Short Film (Live Action):

Visual Effects:

Golden Globe Nominees and Winners

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama

Best Screenplay in a Motion Picture
Peter Farrelly*, Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie (GREEN BOOK) WINNER

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Nominee: Elsie Fisher (EIGHTH GRADE)

Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language

Best Animated Film

*Peter Farrelly was a longtime host for NFF's Late Night Storytelling

Writers Guild of America Nominees

Original Screenplay
EIGHTH GRADE, Written by Bo Burnham; A24
GREEN BOOK, Written by Nick Vallelonga & Brian Currie & Peter Farrelly*; Universal Pictures

Documentary Screenplay
BATHTUBS OVER BROADWAY, Written by Ozzy Inguanzo & Dava Whisenant; Focus Features
GENERATION WEALTH, Written by Lauren Greenfield; Amazon Studios

*Peter Farrelly was a longtime host for NFF's Late Night Storytelling

Directors Guild of America Nominees

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary
WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? (directed by 2018 Documentary Achievement honoree Morgan Neville)

Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film
Peter Farrelly* for GREEN BOOK

Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First-Time Feature Film Director
Bo Burnham for EIGHTH GRADE
Matthew Heineman** for A PRIVATE WAR

*Peter Farelly was a longtime host for NFF’s Late Night Storytelling
**NFF has screened Heineman's past documentary features.

Critics' Choice Awards

Best Actress (TIE)
Glenn Close – THE WIFE — WINNER

Best Young Actor/Actress
Thomasin McKenzie – “Leave No Trace” - Nominee

Best Director
Peter Farrelly* – GREEN BOOK - Nominee

Best Original Screenplay
Bo Burnham – EIGHTH GRADE - Nominee
Nick Vallelonga, Brian Hayes Currie, Peter Farrelly* – GREEN BOOK - Nominee

Best Animated Feature

Best Comedy

Best Actress in a Comedy
Elsie Fisher – EIGHTH GRADE - Nominee

Best Foreign Language Film

Best Song
“I’ll Fight” from RBG (NFF Now) - Nominee

*Peter Farelly was a longtime host for NFF’s Late Night Storytelling

Five Questions With... Kana Hatakeyama, Writer/Director of OKAASAN (MOM)

After the loss of a beloved family member, a daughter returns from far away to her mother's home in Japan; mother and daughter attempt to work past the guilt and distance in order to reconnect, each in their own ways. 

We spoke with Kana Hatakeyama, writer/director (and actress and producer, too!) of OKAASAN (MOM), playing in the shorts program "Everything Is Gonna Be Alright" on Sun, June 24 at 9am. Read more with Kana and catch the film this weekend!



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

KANA: I had been working on writing several different projects, but this is the one that I ended up finishing first. It wasn't a conscious choice, but I think it did come out first because it was important to me. That being said, the film was shot in my native Japan, and it had been a goal of mine as an artist to capture what my beloved homeland has meant and felt like for me over the years--a bit different in perspective from the representation of Japan in film I'd been exposed to growing up in the U.S., which generally seems to focus more on the exotic aspects of the country and culture. I wanted to portray a mother-daughter story set in an area of Japan that I personally love, a distinct Japanese space where bits of the urban and the mythical nature co-exist. Also, as a Japanese woman and an Asian-American woman, I wanted to tell a story with two female Japanese, Asian protagonists who are fully human, complex, and do not play into any sort of stereotypes.

NFF: Why or how did you decide to have your own mother act in the film?

KANA: I had written it with her in mind, and I had always felt that something about her way of being in real life would translate beautifully on-screen. In addition, I only had 6 weeks from when I decided I was going to shoot it to production, and I was also self-financing and thus working with a very limited budget, so I had financial and time constraints that I would have had to contend with had I decided to find another actress. And although my mom hasn't been working professionally as an actress, she did theater when she was in university, so acting wasn't something that was totally foreign to her. Also, part of the reason I wanted to make the film was to get to spend time and do something meaningful with her, so I asked. Initially she hadn't thought she was going to be acting in it so she was like, "I can't," and I was like, "Mom, you must." And fortunately she ended up agreeing to do it :)

NFF: I know you have a background in theatre - how was making a film similar or different?

KANA: It was really cool and a bit surprising to discover, what I found most similar to the rehearsal process in theater was the editing process. In theater, you rehearse, you try things, and you come up with some sort of draft, a version of the scene or play. You do it, you learn from it, and then you build on it, with each new draft, new layer, new rehearsal. Sometimes you discover that what you had before worked better, sometimes you try something completely new and different. The editing process was very similar. Working with my wonderful editor Ronnie Rios, we'd come up with a cut, we'd watch it, learn from it, and try again, and with each new cut, we were able to get closer to the core of the story, which to me is exactly the same as the rehearsal process in theater. I loved it. 

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

KANA: Because we had a skeleton crew--partly because I didn't have the money to hire more crew, transport them, and house them, and also because I thought a smaller crew would work better for this intimate story I wanted to tell--beyond directing and acting, there was a lot to be done, including basic but very important stuff like making sure there was enough coffee and food for everyone. I had help from my mom and our AD, but at the end of the day there was very little time for sleep, so that was challenging, wearing so many hats at once. A lovely surprise I had while filming was the fact that my dog is a very talented and eager actress, as she barked her way into more scenes than she was originally written into. Fortunately, it worked out because she was brilliant, and really brought so many additional layers to the film. She is a star, and I'm very proud of her and her work in the film.

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?

KANA: I'm so excited to screen in Nantucket because I've heard such wonderful things about both the festival and the island! I've never been to the island or the film festival, so am really looking forward to getting to discover both. I hope that Nantucket audiences in turn will get to discover a part of Japan that they may not have yet been exposed to, as well as relate to something explored in the film, whether that be loss or guilt or mother-daughter relationships.

Five Questions With... Writer/Director Tucker Pearson

During winter in Nantucket, two young men steal pieces of art from unoccupied homes in the short film THE OFF SEASON, playing in Shorts: Everything Is Gonna Be Alright on Sunday, June 24 at 9am. We spoke with writer/director Tucker Pearson - take a look below, and see his short this Sunday! 



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

TUCKER: My original inspiration for the film came from reading the police blotter in the Inky Mirror on occasion. I had this catalog of interesting and bizarre criminal activities that had occurred on the island in the back of my mind, and thats what got my imagination going. I wanted to tell a story about the off season on the island, and funny enough I found that to be a really compelling title.  

NFF: Do you have a background in art, and/or how did you choose the pieces represented in the film?

TUCKER: I originally studied at Wheaton College in Norton, MA before I transferred to New York University to pursue film at Tisch School of the Arts. When I was at Wheaton, I was a Fine Arts major and concentrated in photography and sculpture. Also, my grandmother has one of the most amazing collections of art that I have ever seen, and I have spent countless hours just admiring her pieces. Many of the pieces you see in the film are actually hers.  

NFF: Do you see these guys as villains or heroes?

TUCKER: This is such a great question!!! I feel that in the mind’s of my characters, they see themselves as heroes at the beginning — kind of like Robin Hood types. However, as the film progresses, they begin to see one another as the villain. I think that’s the essence of the film, a morality split between friends.    

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

TUCKER: As I am sure most Nantucketers know, winter weather can be wildly unpredictable and at times pretty extreme. Weather definitely was a major challenge for us because we had to be prepared to alter our schedule at the drop of a hat. Shooting around the island while maintaining consistent light was tricky for my team, yet the weather blessed us with an awesome surprise for a pretty pivotal scene. We had a blizzard kick up the morning we shot the golf scene, and it worked incredibly well for the story. It was a really happy 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?

TUCKER: I am so incredibly happy to have this film be included in the Nantucket Film Festival. I consider Nantucket home, and so it was my goal from the beginning to have this film premiere here. It’s kind of like the ultimate homecoming for me. It’s beautiful to see the journey of this film come full circle, from concept to production to premiere. My hope is that everyone will be able to take something away from this film. If it keeps people thinking after they have left the theater — thats the ultimate success for me as a storyteller.

Five Questions With... Miguel Alvarez, Director of ATLANTIC CITY

ATLANTIC CITY is about two men working odd jobs throughout Texas, as one longs to see his estranged mother. With Raúl Castillo (also starring in We the Animals).

We spoke with director Miguel Alvarez about the film, playing in the EVERYTHING IS GONNA BE ALRIGHT narrative shorts block on Sun, June 24 at 9am. Read more with Miguel below, and catch his short on Sunday morning!



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

Miguel: I’m from San Antonio and wanted to make a film about the city as seen from a different perspective. I also wanted to make a film about family and all the messy entanglements that come with it.

NFF: I hear you're super close with the two lead actors - was this story written with them in mind?

Miguel: Yes! I always had both Felix Solis and Raúl Castillo in mind for the film. The three of us are close friends and had talked about making something together for years. Felix and Raúl have a brothers-like relationship and we wanted to play off of that.

NFF: Is it easier or harder to work with people/friends you know?

Miguel: Both! Because we’re all good friends communicating was easy on set. But sometimes you think that because we all know each other so well that we can read each others’ minds, but you find out pretty quickly that isn’t the case!

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

Miguel: Well, we filmed in four separate cities in five days, with rain tossed in. That was challenging.

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?

Miguel: I’m hoping audiences walk out with a better appreciation for what family means. Whether related by blood or not, we all have people who we are extremely tight with and are constantly faced with choices that affect that relationship.

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!



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. 


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!



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?

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!



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 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!



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?


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.