Slamdance to honor Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh with 2019 Founders Award
Festival also announces opening and closing night films, special event screenings and short film lineup
LOS ANGELES — The Slamdance Film Festival today announced that Academy Award winning director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Magic Mike) will be presented with their 2019 Founders Award, given to a Slamdance alumnus who has continued to represent the Slamdance organization and support the filmmaker community of Slamdance well into their careers. The award was first presented in 2015 to director Christopher Nolan (Inception, Dunkirk) and in 2018 was awarded to Joe and Anthony Russo (Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War). Soderbergh will participate in a live discussion with Slamdance Co-founder and President Peter Baxter before a sneak preview of his newest film, High Flying Bird.
Written by Oscar-winner Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight) and starring André Holland, Zazie Beetz, Melvin Gregg, Sonja Sohn, Zachary Quinto, Kyle MacLachlan and Bill Duke, High Flying Bird takes place during a pro basketball lockout and follows a sports agent (Holland) as he pitches a rookie basketball client (Gregg) on an intriguing and controversial business proposition. The film was produced by Joseph Malloch and executive produced by Holland and Ken Meyer. High Flying Bird will launch globally on Friday, February 8, 2019 on Netflix.
“’Don’t ask for permission!’ That was Steven Soderbergh’s advice to us when Slamdance was getting started and it continues to be the core of our brand. We answer to no one,” said Baxter. “Slamdance filmmakers have changed the entertainment industry and Steven Soderbergh showed us the way. Without his involvement over the last 25 years both as a filmmaker and mentor to our filmmakers, Slamdance wouldn’t be the organization it is today.”
Slamdance has also announced the world premiere of Ski Bum: The Warren Miller Story as their 2019 opening night film. Directed by award-winning filmmaker Patrick Creadon (Wordplay) and produced by Jeff Conroy under his production banner BoBCat Partners, as well as Joe Berry of Lorton Entertainment, the documentary chronicles the life and times of legendary filmmaker Warren Miller, who served as a driving force in the development and promotion of skiing in America and throughout the world. Miller, who died earlier this year at the age of 93 while the documentary was still in production, sat with the filmmakers months before his passing in what would prove to be his final interview.
In addition to Miller himself, Ski Bum: The Warren Miller Story features interviews with Olympic gold medalist Jonny Moseley, ski legends Scot Schmidt, Dan and John Egan, Kristen Ulmer, Brad Vancour, and fellow ski filmmaker Greg Stump, along with members of Miller’s family and the filmmaking team.
The festival’s closing night film, This Teacher, is directed by Slamdance alumni Mark Jackson (Without) and was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at the Los Angeles Film Festival in September. In his third feature, Jackson follows a French Muslim woman (Cesar-winner Hafsia Herzi) as she travels to New York City to visit her childhood best friend. When the reunion proves disastrous, Hafsia disappears to a remote cabin upstate where her vacation gradually descends into a terrifying study of the intolerance and suspicion she encounters and reflects back to an Islamophobic America.
“Being premiere agnostic means Slamdance can shine a spotlight on exceptional films and filmmakers who might otherwise slip through the cracks,” said Slamdance co-conspirator Paul Rachman. “The Teacher is a timely and poignant story, beautifully written and directed, anchored by a powerful performance from Hafsia Herzi.”
Getting its world premiere out of competition will be The Drone from director Jordan Rubin (Zombeavers). The film follows a newlywed couple as they get terrorized by a consumer drone that has become sentient with the consciousness of a deranged serial killer. In addition, Slamdance has added a special event presentation of Blessing Yen and James Kaelan’s America the Beautiful to the lineup. An audience favorite during their September DIG (Digital, Interactive & Gaming) showcase in Los Angeles, America the Beautiful was shot entirely on iPhone and has been called the found-footage thriller for our turbulent political moment.
The 2019 shorts lineup was also unveiled today by Slamdance, showcasing 78 short films from countries around the world including the United States, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The lineup includes 26 World, 5 North American and 6 US Premieres. Shorts in the Narrative, Documentary and Animation sections are eligible for the 2019 Oscar® Qualifying Shorts competition.
Added to the 2019 short film program is an all-new Episodes category showcasing episodic work in any style, genre and format intended for broadcast – from comedy and drama to documentaries and social commentary and beyond.
“Our new Episodes program focuses on the next generation of series storytellers who are distorting familiar story structures with unfiltered or unique setups and story arcs,” said Episodes program Co-Captain Craig Parish. “We continue to support and be excited by creators who are challenging perceptions and shaping their own art with fewer creative constraints than have traditionally been in place.”
The Slamdance shorts program has a rich history of screening the first works of filmmakers who have gone on to highly successful careers in Hollywood, including Rian Johnson, Lena Dunham, Benh Zeitlin, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Don Hertzfeldt, Ari Aster, Andrew Thomas Huang, Jeremiah Zagar, Jon M. Chu and Ana Lily Amirpour.
The 2019 shorts program includes:
023_GRETA_S (Germany) – World Premiere
Director: Annika Birgel
A young actress’ audition quickly spirals out of control, turning into an intimate and manipulative interrogation.
Cast: Lilian Mazbouh, Tania Carlin, Gerrit Neuhaus
Director: Dan Bronfeld
An orphan boy has his humanity tested when a film director encourages him to give a violent performance that will blend fiction with reality.
Cast: Karim Saleh, Gustavo Quiroz
Autumn Waltz (Serbia, USA) – World Premiere
Director: Ognjen Petković
A couple is attempting to escape their besieged town when they run into a barricade of unfriendly soldiers and must think fast.
Cast: Tanja Pjevac, Jovo Maksić, Ljubiša Milišić, Marjan Apostolović
Blast Beat (Canada) – US Premiere
Director: Pascal Plante
It ain’t easy singing for a black metal band…
Cast: Corinne Cardinal, Alexandre Dostie
Butt Fantasia (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Mohit Jaswal
With the help of a magic hat, a man contemplates the good and bad times his butt has been through.
Cast: Bruce Patzke
Charmer (New Zealand)
Director: Judah Finnigan
Torn between two competing needs, a middle-aged woman is forced to make a difficult decision during a rocky first date with a disagreeable bachelor.
Cast: Robyn Malcolm, Stephen Lovatt
Chicken Wraps and Condoms (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Jacob Gregor
A darkly comical look at the culture and making of YouTube videos.
Cast: Ray Bruster, Bryant King, Jacob Gregor
Clams Casino (USA)
Director: Pam Nasr
Arcelia Diaz invites an unknown audience to an extravagant seafood dinner as she struggles to rebuild her relationship with her mother.
Cast: Eloisa Santos, Roma Lopez, Rina Mejia, Sarah Lynne
East of the River (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Hannah Peterson
Teonna is unexpectedly suspended from school and is faced with a day on the streets of Washington, DC.
Cast: Ayiana T. Davis, Steloni Mason, Malachi Mack
Hair: The Story of Grass (Saudi Arabia, Canada)
Director: Maha Al-Saati
Abandoned by her prince, an Arabian Cinderella is left serving guests while her mentally-challenged ward attempts to escape the body of the hairy grown up he is trapped in.
Cast: Nada Tawhid, Aziz Gharbawi, Abdulhalim Alnami, Fahad Alghamdi
Hands and Wings (South Korea) – World Premiere
Director: Sungbin Byun
One day, a disabled son rejects his mother’s help.
Cast: Seonghoon Hong, Geumsoon Kim, Wookyum Kim
Director: Kevin Contento
Living on the margins of American society, a Florida boy comes in contact with the sacred.
Cast: Jean Voltaire, Wiltavious Mckelton, Roy Thompson Jr., Malik Hall
Midnight Confession (Canada, USA)
Director: Maxwell McCabe-Lokos
Manny Jumpcannon wants your sympathy.
Cast: Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, August Diehl, Breeda Wool
Mothering (UK) – US Premiere
Director: Lucy Bridger
On her first day in a new foster home, Mia faces an awkward new challenge.
Cast: Sapphire Paine, Ursula Jones, Angela McHale
My Expanded View (USA)
Director: Corey Hughes
A YouTube Yoga tutorial. A collapsed body. An expanded view.
Cast: Malek Robbana, Aidan Spann, Danielle Criqui, Cooper Wright, Tyler Davis, George Cessna, Christian Hughes, Fiona Sergeant, Corey Hughes
Director: Raven Jackson
Shot over the course of a year, in six chapters, Nettles delicately explores stinging moments in the lives of different girls and women.
Cast: Kamile Bailey, Jordan-Amanda Hall, MeeWha Alana Lee, Alicia Ocana
Norteños (UK) – US Premiere
Barry, a mild mannered dimwit from the Northwest of England, tries to elicit the help of his former lover after a terrible incident involving his Nan.
Cast: Daniel Watson, Chelsea O’Connor, Shane Dickinson
Piu Piu (USA)
Director: Naima Ramos-Chapman
Jordan escapes into the city for a day to herself, only to be trailed by a stranger and pushed into finding her own weapon against him.
Cast: Natalie Paul, Jermaine Small, Trae Harris, Santana Caress Benitez
Ready for Love (USA)
Director: Dylan Pasture & Lauren McCune
Amber Lynn Weatherbee knows that the right man is out there. Maybe he’s on The Bachelor?
Cast: Lauren McCune, Nancy Munger, Angeline Gragásin
Tunnel Ball (Australia) – World Premiere
Director: Davis Jensen
A boy goes to a new school. Everyone is identical and loves the sport Tunnel Ball. The only way to fit in is to beat them at their own game.
Cast: Reuben Ward, Wilson Moore
Users (Poland) – North American Premiere
Director: Jakub Piatek
A woman and a man try to wrench some feelings from each other on a video chat site that connects random strangers.
Cast: Maja Pankiewicz, Dobromir Dymecki
Wet Pavilion (UK)
Director: Yeva Cheema
A kid witnesses the disintegration of his older brother’s love life in a car wash.
Cast: Filippo D’antuono
Woman in Stall (Canada)
Director: Madeleine Sims-Fewer & Dusty Mancinelli
A woman finds herself trapped in a bathroom stall by a man whose intentions are not entirely clear.
Cast: Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Ben Kerfoot
Acadiana (Canada) – World Premiere
Directors: Yannick Nolin, Guillaume Fournier, Samuel Matteau
May 2017: Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, is the theatre of the mythic Crawfish Festival
All on a Mardi Gras Day (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Michal Pietrzyk
In a gentrifying New Orleans, Demond sacrifices to be Big Chief in a secret hundred-year culture known as Mardi Gras Indians: African-American men from the city’s roughest neighborhoods who spend all year sewing feathered suits they’ll wear only once, in a battle to decide who’s “the prettiest.”
Cast: Big Chief Demond Melancon, Alicia Winding, Spyboy Walter “Trigga” Blakk, Spyboy Rashaud “Shaudy” Brown
Betty Feeds the Animals (USA) – World Premiere
Director: James P. Gannon
Betty loves animals, she loves them so much that everyday she puts 30 bowls of food outside of her home to feed them. She feeds skunks, raccoons, cats, foxes and the occasional opossum. This is her story.
Cast: Elizabeth Gannon
Dramatic and Mild (Russia) – North American Premiere
Director: Nastia Korkia
Visitors are free to briefly enjoy a painting by Visily Kandinsky in a small enclosed room of a former power station. Art is in the eye of the beholder.
Cast: Vladimir Bolshedvorskiy
Enforcement Hours (USA)
Director: Paloma Martinez
In a climate of xenophobia and confusion, a San Francisco hotline aims to provide limited assistance to a targeted population.
Gloria’s Call (USA)
Director: Cheri Gaulke
From the cafés of Paris to the mountaintops of Samiland, a scholar’s life is forever changed through her friendships with the women artists of Surrealism.
Cast: Gloria Orenstein
Guns Found Here (USA)
Director: David Freid
Every gun sold in America has a serial number. A few brave citizens are tasked with tracking them. This is their story.
Las Del Diente (Spain, USA)
Director: Ana Perez Lopez
Three women discuss the social pressure of having kids while celebrating the uniqueness of their bodies.
Cast: Ángela Stempel, Natalia Lassalle-Morillo, Aitziber Olaskoaga
Roughly Delicate (USA) – US Premiere
Director: Heqiuzi Wang
Firearm and footwear. Food and space. Memory and reality. It’s a story of Chinese women immigrants using shooting guns and dancing to fight their insecurities.
Cast: Jenny Dai, Jun Wang, Helen Chen
Swatted (France) – North American Premiere
Director: Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis
Online players describe their struggles with “swatting”, a life-threatening cyber-harassment phenomenon that looms over them whenever they play. The events take shape through youtube videos and wireframe images from a video game.
Director: Rishi Chandna
In a cramped apartment in Mumbai, a family considers eating their hell-raising pet rooster, so that they can reclaim their lives.
Cast: The Bharde Family
Winners Bitch (USA)
Director: Sam Gurry
Inspired by a found archive on a doyenne of the dog competition world, a rumination on the many sacrifices it can take to be a woman of distinction.
Cast: Anni Weisband, Donald Gurry, Nancy Venezia, Dr. Michael Buxbaum
601 Revir Drive (USA)
Director: Josh Weissbach
A series of spatial limits are defined while a maker imbibes.
Applied Pressure (USA)
Director: Kelly Sears
Ease the pain from past physical and mental distress.
Exit Strategy #4 (USA)
Director: Kym McDaniel
I confront memories that have contributed to my chronic pain. The fourth in a series examining how a head injury has asked me to cope with emotional and physical traumas.
Mudanza Contemporánea (Spain)
Director: Teo Guillem
Armchairs, mattresses, feet, blankets, arms, memories, mops, tubes or plastic dance, twist, fall, fly and break in this emotional choreography in which a man and his army of objects try to defeat a ghost from the past.
Cast: Teo Guillem, Cristina Pérez
Nothing Blue (USA)
Director: Laura Herman
A letter of grief across the solar system.
Cast: Laura Herman
A Study of Fly (USA)
Director: Cherlyn Hsing-Hsin Liu
A reflection on the relationship between insect, human, environment and the universe. The fly in this film can be approached as a living being, a metaphor for human desire to reach beyond, and a state that demonstrates the capacity to move between the realms of life and death.
Cast: Wen-Chu Yang, Zheng Fu
Watermarks (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Sara Suarez
Along the James River in Richmond, Virginia, impressions of a buried world emerge beneath the monuments on the surface, questioning how the past is recorded or suppressed.
Cast: Audrey Collette, Mavra Peponi
Wayward Emulsions (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Tina Takemoto
Queer glimpses of a wayward woman captured in bits of emulsion lifted from stray reels of a 35mm Asian drama.
11010 (Brazil) – North American Premiere
Director: ONZE (Gabriela Monnerat + Rodrigo Amim)
Ada and Evon live in a town being abandoned. A scenario dominated by artificialities, exchanged by virtual environments. It’s love? Is it a binary code?
Bloeistraat 11 (Belgium, Netherlands)
Director: Nienke Deutz
Inseparable best friends spend their last summer holiday of childhood amusing themselves around the house. As summer progresses their bodies start to morph and shift and an awkwardness descends on their friendship. Puberty seems determined to interrupt their bond.
Egg (France, Denmark)
Director: Martina Scarpelli
A woman is locked in her home with an egg, which she is both attracted to and scared of. She eats the egg, she repents. She kills it. She lets the egg die of hunger.
Eyes at the Specter Glass (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Matthew Wade
An otherworldly vision of the power of light and the weight of planets. “Its memories are not its own.”
Frontier Wisdom (USA)
Director: Jenna Caravello
In the dry desert space between here and there, a phone repairwoman encounters a chatty corpse, a self-propelled peanut, and some portents of the rapture.
Cast: Diana Cioffari, Anna Cangellaris, Jake Acosta
Get Up, Pierrot (USA)
Director: Gurleen Rai & F. Anthony Shepherd
Pierrot is an existential pastry made by folding layers of identity upon itself with equal parts tears and smiles.
Cast: F. Anthony Shepherd, Kit Pfisto
Goodbye Forever Party (USA)
Director: Jonni Phillips
Lilith, a performer for a children’s show called The Scrumbos, struggles with her job, mental illness, and relationships.
Cast: Aster Pang, Emily Martinez, Victoria Vincent, Noah Malone, Lorenzo Fresta, Kai Lynn Jiang, Isabel Higgins, Jonni Phillips
Hedge (USA) – US Premiere
Director: Amanda Bonaiuto
A singularly comical/surreal vision of a family visiting a funeral home.
Saw/Ate Sad Bird (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Lauren Flinner
I saw a bird. I caught a bird and I ate it. Now there is a sad bird in me.
Shalva (Tranquility) (USA)
Director: Danna Grace Windsor
An alternative vision of a female superhero. In a synthetic meditation space, an empty shell seeks power.
Cast: Danna Grace Windsor
Sparky (China, USA)
Sparky likes to gaze out of the window, to see every possible or impossible thing.
Director: Maria Constanza Ferreira
A unique look at the vivid colors and surprising textures of macro-geographic structures. Roads, Rivers, Cities. Arteries, Veins, Neurons.
Asian American Studies (USA)
Director: Woody Fu
A hyper-paced sketch series examining the plight of yellow life in a white-filtered world.
Cast: Woody Fu, SJ Son, Fumi Abe, Christopher Simpson
The Big Spaghetti (Australia) – North American Premiere
Director: Zoe Pepper
Perhaps the best way to get over that special someone, is to become somebody else. A lesson in reinvention for just us girls.
Cast: Tim Watts, Adriane Daff, Andrea Gibbs
Bobo Touch Helpline: Bushwick Tarzan (USA)
Director: Mike Rizzo, Brian Bonz
It’s a sausage way of life for this bizarro neighborhood hero who thwarts a strange doctor while confronting the meaning of love.
Cast: Mike Rizzo, Brian Bonz, Azusa SHESHE, Patrick Estrabrook
Division Street: Fish Out of Water (USA)
Director: Traven Rice
A withdrawn little girl is reluctantly sent to live with her cranky grandmother in NY’s Lower East Side. What feels, at first like punishment, soon blossoms into wonderment as the gritty neighborhood is oddly transformed into a place that’s truly magical.
Cast: Naledi Makel Murray, Jodi Carol Harrison, Amy Rutledge, Jeffrey Farber
Finding The Asshole (USA)
Director: Melissa Stephens
It’s like playing ‘Where’s Waldo?’ only, you are searching for Waldo in a world of couture, cluttered with super-annoying Waldos.
Cast: Christine Woods, Melissa Stephens, Tom Detrinis, Tina Huang, Courtney Pauroso
No. 3: In the Absence of Angels (Canada) – World Premiere
Director: Camille Hollett-French
In the brutal aftermath of sexual assault in broad daylight, Crystal, a streetwise community mentor, is forced to make a crucial decision that will shape the person she becomes.
Cast: Camille Hollett-French, Abanoub Andraous, Brett Donahue and Juno Rinaldi
Propolis, part 7 (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Patricia Beckmann Wells
Siblings, Liz and Beaux, remain trapped inside a closet as punishment served by their alcoholic mother, however, escape means the pair will face a far more nefarious world that awaits just beyond.
Cast: Lilly Manzaneda, Jack Chiu, Patricia Beckmann Wells, Scott Wells
Rage Room (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
Exasperated with life, a newly determined woman opens a business using her paltry alimony. The emotionally-charged space becomes an unusual place welcoming all who seek healing by unleashing their anger through demolition and more.
Cast: Summer Chastant, Sarah Lancaster, Johnny Ramey, Adam Huss
The Rocky Roads (USA)
Director: Robert Kleinschmidt
Rejoice! The beloved, yet forgotten, children’s show ‘The Rocky Roads’ is back with all new goopy adventures!
Cast: Star Childe
They Quit Botherin’ Norman Tibbs (Stories by Dick) (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Christopher Noice
Bullied and ignored, young Norman is encouraged by an unlikely mentor to stand tall for himself, once and for all.
Cast: Dick Noice
Tijuana (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Mary-Lyn Chambers
It’s 1924 in Tijuana, Mexico during U.S. Prohibition. Carmen, a wildly ambitious and deviously calculating woman, manipulates her husband into launching a tequila-smuggling business that triggers a chaotic downward spiral.
Cast: Ilana Guralnik, David ‘Blak’ Plascencia, Ruby Pedroza, Enrique Castillo
Director: Stuart T Birchall
Emergence of a hybrid human-alien consciousness from the void.
Cast: Pixie Le Knot
Dog in the Woods (USA) – World Premiere
Directors: Christian Chapman, Paul Jason Hoffman
A downtrodden house dog escapes into the woods at night to follow the psychedelic temptations of the natural world.
Cast: Alice Chapman, Astrid Chapman, Suzanne Chapman, Micheal Chapman
Dominant Species (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Joseph Sackett
10 aliens in human host bodies learn how to be men.
Cast: Julian Cihi, Colby Minifie, Will Seefried, Vasile Flutur
Filtrate (Canada) – US Premiere
Director: Mishka Kornai
Far from now in a subterranean compound, tucked below a desolate world, five characters seek to connect. Shot entirely on iPhone 7 in the Montréal underground, FILTRATE is an exploration of digital connectivity and physical isolation.
Cast: Taylor James, Elie-Anne Ross, Namo Chanethomvong, Gama Fonseca
Grosse Auge (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Everett Kelsey
Mortality and spirituality wrestle behind the enlightened eyes of a Man engulfed within the eternal moment
Cast: Everett Kelsey
King Wah (I Think I Love You) (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Horatio Baltz
A disgruntled delivery man, a woman with chronic déjà vu, Pat Sajak, and a slow dance in a Chinese takeout restaurant.
Cast: Vincent Leong, Lucy Cottrell, Napoleon Emill
Perfect Town (Switzerland)
Director: Anaïs Voirol
In search of perfection a city obeys blindly to selection.
Placenta (USA) – North American Premiere
Director: Robert Broadhurst
Sacco de Bambino Erotico.
Cast: Tavet Gillson, Michael Hurst, Anna Lewis, Nick Vargas
Prizefighter (USA) – World Premiere
Director: Lyndon J Barrois
Prizefighter is an animated sportrait depicting three days in the life of heavyweight champion Jack Johnson, battling his fiercest opponent – racism.
Cast: Keith David, Peter Macon, Nathan Ives, JB Blanc
Director: John Charter
Inspired by co-creator of the film Paul Kaiser’s struggle with PTSD and his real life mission to reconnect with his daughters, three creatures are manifestations of an unknown soldier’s war trauma and his vast, lonely pilgrimage toward emerging from a purgatory loop.
Cast: Kumaresan, Bharati Kapadia, Sravasti Banerjee
Director: Steven Lapcevic
A reliable glut of misinformation.
Slip Road (Australia) – World Premiere
Director: Raphael Dubois
A young man leaves the life he has always known, to strike a deal with a creature, but strange forces pull him into something deeper.
Cast: Izaak Love, Sohaib Zaman
Ykcowrebbaj (Austria, Germany, India) – World Premiere
Director: Helen Hideko
Once upon a time, Alice came across a curious Looking-glass poem called, “Jabberwocky” that was all in some language she didn’t know. Now, follow the little green bird into this Looking-glass world and see a mesmerising version of the poem that Alice read there…
Cast: Kumaresan, Bharati Kapadia, Sravasti Banerjee