The innovative Viewpoints section celebrates the distinctive visions of its innovative voices and will feature 27 unique and fascinating films of self-discovery and self-definition from 12 countries. Some films are personally intimate and identity seeking such as Gregory Kohn’s soul-searching drug trip COME DOWN MOLLY and Patrick O’Brien’s TRANSFATTY LIVES that documents his heroic efforts to maintain his creative self in the face of a devastating ALS diagnosis.
Other stories of identity take on larger implications such as ORION: THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING, which raises questions about personal –v- public identity, fame, and legacy through the story of a mysterious masked singer many believed to be Elvis back from the dead. There are also coming of age viewpoints – either taken in adolescence or adulthood like the young women of BEING 14 and the rough-and-tumble boys of KING JACK, who claw their ways towards adulthood within the war zones of puberty and high school, while the ostensible adults of TENURED behave more like the grade school students they are teaching
Other intriguing characters include GORED’S aging matador and EL CINCO’s benched footballer who also struggle to understand who they are as their self-defining livelihoods are threatened.
Here are the films selected in Viewpoints:
All Eyes and Ears
Vanessa Hope (China, USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary
When former Utah governor Jon Huntsman was appointed United States Ambassador to China, the charming career politician arrived at his new post with his entire family—including his adopted Chinese daughter, Gracie. Huntsman’s diplomatic struggles and triumphs are explored in the broader context of China’s relationship with the rest of the world, and intersected with Gracie’s personal experience living in China as a Chinese-American. In Mandarin, Cantonese, English, with subtitles.
Onur Tukel (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative
TFF alumnus Onur Tukel plays Ron, a husband who innocently reveals on talk radio the worst thing he’s ever done. Though his gaffe never makes it on air, it sets off a chain of hilariously uncontrollable events that draw his wife and another couple into an uneasy mixture of infidelities, confessions, and severed body parts.
Mark Kemble (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative
Life for the Kendall’s has been burdened by grief and claustrophobia. Faced with caring for one child with special needs and another with PTSD, the family struggles for a sense of stability at home in their Staten Island hamlet. When a secret from the past is revealed, it threatens to tear them apart.
Natalia Leite (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative
Sarah’s (Dianna Agron) mundane life in a Nevada desert town is turned upside down with the arrival of Pepper (Paz de la Huerta), a mysterious female drifter, who leads her into a life of seedy strip clubs and illicit drugs. Their passion inspires Sarah to break free of her past and seek out a new life of her own.
Being 14 (À 14 ans)
Hélène Zimmerm (France) – International Premiere, Narrative
Adopting an observational style, Being 14 captures all the secrets, trials, and anguish of adolescence, as experienced by best friends Sarah, Louise, and Jade in their final year of middle school. The narrative plays like a documentary in each true-to-life scene; the camera is witness to their lives unfolding, as it unobtrusively records the moments of a year, after which everything will change. In French with subtitles.
Come Down Molly
Gregory Kohn (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative
In this expressionist odyssey exploring the lonely side of entering adulthood, struggling new mother Molly (Eléonore Hendricks) joins her old high school group of guy friends at a secluded mountain home. Amidst tears, laughter, and mushrooms, they connect with nature, one another, and themselves.
Amy Kohn (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary
Amy Kohn’s fascinating documentary offers a peek into the practice of Christian courtship, wherein a woman hands over the responsibility of finding a husband to her parents and the will of God. Such is Kelly’s path, enlisting her adopted spiritual family to find her Mr. Right.
Steve Hoover (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary
Crocodile Gennadiy is a real-life self-appointed savior who works tirelessly to rescue homeless, drug- addicted youth from the streets of Mariupol, Ukraine. At the same time, he challenges dealers and abusers. Despite criticism, Gennadiy is determined to continue his work. Sundance Award-winning director Steve Hoover’s second feature is a bold portrait of a man on a mission. In English, Russian with subtitles.
Michael Larnell (USA) – New York Premiere, Narrative
Louis (George Sample III) begins to question his lifelong friendship with Jack (Zurich Buckner), after a simple errand to buy his daughter a birthday gift turns into a visit to a drug dealer. Director Michael Larnell combines an earnestly realistic narrative with documentary-style interviews in which the characters muse on their futures, their impact on those they love, and the nature of friendship.
Andrew Jenks (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary
In the fall of 2005, 20- year-old Ryan Ferguson received a 40-year prison sentence for a murder that he did not commit. Over the next ten years, his father Bill engages in a tireless crusade to prove Ryan’s innocence. Interspersed with footage from the Ferguson family archive, Andrew Jenks’ film looks at the personal consequences of a wrongful conviction.
El Cinco (El 5 de Talleres)
Adrián Biniez (Argentina) – North American Premiere, Narrative
Patón, with his fiery temper and aggressive play, is the veteran star of his city’s soccer team. When his transgressions land him a lengthy suspension, he considers retirement, while discovering a world that consists of more than just feet and fists. This coming-of-middle-age tale reveals the predicament of leaving the arena where you most feel at home. In Spanish with subtitles.
Ido Mizrahy (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary
Gored centers on Spanish bullfighter Antonio Barrera, holder of the dubious title of “Most Gored Bullfighter in History,” as he grapples with the end of his career. Captivating footage of past and present bullfights reveal Barrera’s tremendous passion for the sport, as well as his seemingly irresistible urge to confront death at every opportunity. In Spanish with subtitles.
Carleton Ranney (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative
When a friend’s suicide leaves behind a mysterious computer drive, a fringe hacker and accomplished computer technician come together to decipher the message left in his wake. First- time filmmaker Carleton Ranney effortlessly combines a low-fi aesthetic with an intensely ambitious sci- fi story, creating a work that manages to satisfy as both a retro throwback and a forward-thinking indie drama.
Felix Thompson (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative
Growing up in a rural town filled with violent delinquents, Jack has learned to do what it takes to survive, despite having an oblivious mother and no father. After his aunt falls ill and a younger cousin comes to stay with him, the hardened 15-year-old discovers the importance of friendship, family, and looking for happiness even in the most desolate of circumstances.
Gust Van den Berghe (Belgium, Mexico) – United States Premiere, Narrative
An angel falling from heaven to hell unexpectedly lands in a Mexican village where his presence affects the villagers in surprising ways. Inspired by the biblical story, Lucifer is a mesmerising, moving, and unique exercise in form, presented in the director’s own format, Tondoscope. In Spanish with subtitles.
Orion: The Man Who Would Be King
Jeanie Finlay (UK) – World Premiere, Documentary
Millions of Americans clung to the hope that Elvis Presley faked his death. For the executives at Sun Records that fantasy became an opportunity in the form of Orion, a mysterious masked performer with the voice of The King. But who was the man behind the mask? In this stranger- than-fiction true story, Jeanie Finlay explores a life led in service to those who couldn’t let Elvis go.
Shut Up and Drive
Melanie Shaw (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative
Uptight and insecure Jane (Sarah Sutherland) breaks down when her live-in boyfriend must move from Los Angeles to New Orleans for an acting gig. Jane’s anxiety worsens upon the arrival of Laura (Zoë Worth), Austin’s (Morgan Krantz) wild childhood friend. Unable to deal with each other without Austin, the two women embark on a road trip to see him, forming an unexpected friendship along the way.
Sheena Joyce and Don Argott (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative
High school teachers Jeff and Anne (Adam Pally and Sarah Burns) are work BFFs all too familiar with the woes of romance. Desperate to turn their luck around, they take on new personas and embark, with gusto, on an adventurous summer of uncharacteristic encounters. Slow Learners is a charming, comedic crash course in discovering who you really are.
Stranded in Canton (Nakangami na Guangzhou)
Måns Månsson (Sweden, Denmark, China) – North American Premiere, Narrative
Lebrun is an entrepreneur from The Democratic Republic of Congo who goes to China intent on making a fortune selling political T-shirts. When things don’t go as planned Lebrun spends more time in karaoke bars and falling in love than he does on business. Somewhere between documentary and fiction, this fascinating story explores new trade routes and their impact in two separate continents. In Cantonese, English, French, Lingala, Mandarin with subtitles.
Partho Sen-Gupta (India, France) – North American Premiere, Narrative
Social Service officer Lakshman Joshi is led on a chase through the dark gutters and rain-soaked back alleys of Mumbai by a shadowy figure. His pursuit leads him to Paradise, a seedy nightclub seemingly at the center of the kidnapping ring he is investigating. Joshi’s hunt brings back memories of his own kidnapped daughter, as his past and current reality converge. In Marathi with subtitles.
Christopher Modoono (USA) – World Premiere, Narrative
In Chris Modoono’s hilarious directorial debut, a broody and foul-mouthed elementary school teacher, Ethan Collins (Gil Zabarsky), finds his life turned upside down when his wife leaves him. Stuck with a group of precocious fifth graders, and fraught with fizzling writing aspirations, Ethan uses the school play as a last-ditch effort to fix his marriage. Will this be his greatest accomplishment or his most misguided lesson to date?
Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary
A rare, insider’s view of an FBI undercover investigation in progress, (T)ERROR follows a 63-year-old informant in his attempt to befriend a suspected Taliban sympathizer, and build a fraudulent case against him. Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe’s startling and timely exposé questions the sacrifices that are being made to prevent terror in the United States.
Toto and His Sisters (Toto Si Surorile Lui)
Alexander Nanau (Romania) – North American Premiere, Documentary
Shot over a period of 15 months, this hands-off documentary follows siblings living in a Bucharest slum. With their mother in jail, Toto and his two sisters, Ana and Andreea, live in what appears to be a communal drug den. As Ana drifts away with frequent drug use, Toto and Andreea must stick together in an orphanage, awaiting their mother’s return. In Romanian with subtitles.
Patrick O’Brien (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary
Director Patrick O’Brien is TransFatty, the onetime NYC deejay and Internet meme-making superstar. In 2005, O’Brien began to document his life after being diagnosed with ALS and given only two to five years to live. TRANSFATTY LIVES is a brazen and illustrative account of what it’s like to live when you find out you are going to die.
Ewan McNicol and Anna Sandilands (USA) – World Premiere, Documentary
An aquatic weed threatens the lake of the small American border town of Uncertain, Texas, and consequently the livelihoods of those who live there. As some of the men in town attempt to figure out their future, they confront a past that haunts them.
We Are Young. We Are Strong (Wir Sind Jung. Wir Sind Stark.)
Burhan Qurbani (Germany) – North American Premiere, Narrative
A group of disillusioned teenagers wander about in the restless hours leading up to an anti-immigrant riot that took place in Rostock, Germany, in August of 1992. The impending incident is seen through the experiences of three individuals: a Vietnamese factory worker, a local politician, and the politician’s teenage son, Stefan. In German, Vietnamese with subtitles.
Crystal Moselle (USA) – New York Premiere, Documentary
Everything the Angulo brothers know about the outside world they learned from obsessively watching movies. Shut away from bustling New York City by their overprotective father, they cope with their isolation by diligently re-enacting their favorite films. When one of the brothers escapes, the world as they know it will be transformed.
Is there a Viewpoint you’d like to know more about or anticipate seeing? Why not keep up to date with the latest news on our dedicated TFF 2015 blog.