Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Red Lotus

Co-produced by Paula Rossman and Shara Ashley Zeiger and directed by Jessica Alexandra Green, this disturbing story imagines a not-too-distant future where Roe vs. Wade has been overturned and women who are determined to have abortions are forced back into underground medical clinics. A female eye film that easily passes the Bechtel-Wallace test, The Red Lotus doesn't shrink from the eeriness of the circumstances—made even more so by the flaky exuberance of the clinic's supervisor.

A film like this one will get different reactions from an audience, and by dint of its nuance, The Red Lotus provides plenty of room for such interpretation. At the same time, the filmmakers make the tragedy of turning a healthful yoga retreat into a place where women abort their pregnancies, and the impact this place might have on otherwise law-abiding women, abundantly clear.

You can watch the trailer here: The Red Lotus Trailer

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dirty Laundry

Distraught by the loss of their grandmother, two cousins resolved to ride their bikes across the continental United States to explore the cause of her unexpected passing: mesothelioma. Through interviews and research they uncovered a trail of corporate denial, shady politics, shallow value judgments and broken communities. The story of asbestos—its benefits as a building material and the unacceptable costs borne by people exposed to its dust—is a dark and tragic one. For years, those who knew the human costs refused to warn the public, workers and anyone else at risk about the dangers of exposure.

Co-producers and bikers extraordinaire Conor Lewis and Zack Johnson have created a powerful, informative documentary in Dirty Laundry. Like the mountains they climbed in the American West, the forces of profit, ignorance and plain, old-fashioned obstinance were intractable barriers for many victims of this cancer, but to their immense credit, Lewis and Johnson crossed those mountains and now have quite the story to share.

You can watch the trailer here: Dirty Laundry Trailer

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


Based on the inspiring yet tragic story of 20th century Major League Baseball star Roberto Clemente, this dramatic feature existed only as a script when it won accolades from Austin Film Festival and the Best Period Script award at the 2017 New Hope Film Festival. Ian Eugene Ryan, who is attached to the film as Clemente, created this work with co-writer Joseph Loizzi as a way to honor an historical figure and shed light on the plight of men of color in professional sport.

As many baseball fans know, Clemente was far more than a ball player, having devoted impressive time to charity work, including relief efforts involving a devastating earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua. Ryan and Loizzi captured the essence of the man in their superb writing—Clemente's intensity and focus both on and off the field, but also a charming, almost childlike innocence and goodness of heart. The two traits combined to make him a dangerous weapon on the field and a remarkable force for healing off of it. 

Ian Ryan plays the role of Clemente in the teaser they shot to raise awareness for the project, and what a performance he delivers—the verisimilitude is striking, down to every nuance and quirk. Beautifully directed by New Hope Film Festival's Director of Submissions Thom Michael Mulligan, the trailer demonstrates with all heart and soul why this film should be made and why Ryan should play the lead.

Sometimes indie filmmakers knock one right out of the park. You can watch the trailer here: Clemente Teaser

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Angels of the Sky

World War II pilots of the 8th Air Force were revered for their toughness and fierce dedication. If they weren't fatally shot or sent careening down to Earth in a ball of flames, they might make it back to base and live another day—maybe. Or they might, if they were half-lucky, get captured by the Germans and spend the rest of the war in a POW camp.

Angels of the Sky features intimate interviews of airmen who were shot down over German lines and taken prisoner. Now well into their senior years, they pry open their pasts, describing frightening experiences and documenting an historically pivotal era that is fading away at the rate of 750 veterans per day. Filmmaker Trent McGee dreamed up the idea for his film in 2011, feeling a sense of urgency about getting these stories on film before they could no longer be told.

Inspiring in the courage it portrays and revealing in the complexities it uncovers, Angels of the Sky is a must-see for history buffs or anyone who loves to learn about people whose experiences are unlike their own. McGee's interviewees are grizzled and wise, traits no doubt enhanced through many wartime terrors. You can watch the trailer here: Angels of the Sky Trailer

Monday, July 31, 2017

2017 Award Winners

Hatchet Hour (Judy Naidoo, South Africa)

Top Jury Awards

Danny Award, Best Picture
Winner:  Hatchet Hour (Judy Naidoo, South Africa)
Nominees: Hatchet Hour, Wash Up, Scott Road, Zen Dog, D-Love, Benjy Lucas, Just Like Miracles Constant Stars Are

Best Script
Winner: No More Goodbyes (Rebekah R. Ganiere)
Nominees: No More Goodbyes, Good Grief, Holly, Blossom and Rose, Michael Wants To Marry, Adult Children, Clemente, Heart for Joy

Film Jury Awards

Best Student Film
Winner: Just Like Miracles Constant Stars Are (Kybra Sankaya, Turkey)
Nominees: The Hobbyist, Scott Road, Extra Cheese Please, Factory 91, The Swallow, Six Steps to Eternal Death, The Next Door, Just Like Miracles Constant Stars Are

Best Alternative Feature
Winner: Zen Dog (Rick Darge, USA)
Nominees: Zen Dog, D-Love, Benjy Lucas

Best Short Film
Winner: Tonight and Every Night (Christina Eliopoulos, USA)
Nominees: Messiah, Beautiful Dreamer, Game, Red Lips, French Kiss, Eleanor, Split Ticket, Life After Her, Tonight and Every Night

Best Documentary
Winner: Purple Dreams (Joanne Hock, USA)
Nominees: Purple Dreams, The Lure, Beyond The Bombs, Hilleman, The Landscape Within, Outcaste: The House That Carol Built, Dogs of Democracy

Best Short Documentary
Winner: Surviving International Boulevard (Sian Gowan, USA)
Nominees: I'm Free, An Undeniable Voice, Surviving International Boulevard, Sick in Africa

Best Foreign Film
Winner: Wash Up (Andrew Frade, Canada)
Nominees: Hatchet Hour, Wash Up, Scott Road, Just Like Miracles Constant Stars Are, Severance, The Ravens

Best Biography
Winner: Hilleman—A Perilous Quest to Save the World's Children (Donald Mitchell, USA)
Nominees: Hilleman, You’ll Have The Sky: The Life and Work of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Bunnie, An Undeniable Voice

Best Experimental Short
Winner: Factory 91 (Madeline Leshner, USA)
Nominees: Leech, Ghost Trio, Factory 91, Population Zero, Girl Meets Roach, Unclean

Indie Spirit Award
Winner: Wash Up (Andrew Frade, Canada)
Nominees: Wash Up, Scott Road, Mazurkas, Just Like Miracles Constant Stars Are, D-Love, Severance

Best Animated Film
Winner: You Got a Problem (Charles Mandraccha, USA)
Nominees: You Got a Problem

Female Eye Filmmaking Award
Winner: D-Love (Elena Beuca, USA)
Nominees: Hatchet Hour, Game, The Ravens, This Is Not A Love Song, Eleanor, Factory 91, Ronan Furlong—Hoplite Armour, Ordinary Days

Best Sci-Fi Film
Winner: Beautiful Dreamer (David Gaddie, USA)
Nominees: Visitors, LightAge, Fabric of Time, Beautiful Dreamers

Best TV Pilot
Winner: Reality Disorder (Gerard Bianco Jr., USA)
Nominees: Capital Advice, Reality Disorder, Takers

Best Comedy
Winner: Working Out the Kinks (William Alexander Runnels, USA)
Nominees: In Good Faith, Unclean, Working Out The Kinks, Leech, The Love Song of Charlie Beecher

Student Cultural Spirit
Winner: Healing River (Hollie Noble, USA)
Nominees: Healing River, Severance, Ward

Cultural Spirit
Winner: Poisoning Paradise (Keely Shaye Smith, USA)
Nominees: An Undeniable Voice, Poisoning Paradise, 1/2 Nelson, Gone With the Sea, Generation Hope, Surviving International Boulevard, Purple Dreams

New Hope Award
Winner: Purple Dreams (Joanne Hock, USA)
Nominees: Purple Dreams, Generation Hope, Acres of Diamonds, Bunnie, Love Wins

Artistic Spirit Award
Winner: Beyond the Bombs (Robert Kraetsch, USA)
Nominees: Purple Dreams, Beyond The Bombs, The Landscape Within, Fabric of Time, Outcaste: The House That Carol Built

LGTB Spirit
Winner: Love Wins (Robin Kampf, USA)
Nominees: Love Wins

Best Supernatural Film
Winner: Devil's Whisper (Adam Ripp, USA)
Nominees: Devil's Whisper, Beautiful Dreamer, Six Steps To Eternal Death, Ghost Trio

Best Webisode
Winner: Jaguars (Teresa Riley, Canada)
Nominees: Working Out the Kinks, Hollywood, Jaguars

Best Music Video
Winner: On Softer Ground (Adam Gilbert, USA)
Nominees: Wander, Hoplite Armour, On Softer Ground

Best Director
Winner: Judy Naidoo (South Africa)
Nominees: Judy Naidoo (Hatchet Hour), Elena Beuca (D-Love), Jeanne Donohoe (Game), John Gray (French Kiss), Daniel Malakai Cabrera (Two Bellmen Two), Sophie Russell (Eleanor), Adam Ripp (Devil's Whisper)

Script Jury Awards

Best Narrative Feature
Winner: Good Grief (Mia Tate)
Nominees: Good Grief, Clemente, Chosen, Michael Wants To Marry, No More Goodbyes, Comic Book Kings, Legends of Destiny, Heart for Joy

Best Teleplay
Winner: Broken Justice (Jocelyn Jones)
Nominees: Area 51, Broken Justice, Hell Off Earth, Highs and Lows, Paradise Palms, Persuasion, The Grappa

Best Comedy
Winner: Michael Wants to Marry (Jen Bieser)
Nominees: Michael Wants to Marry

Best Sci-Fi Thriller
Winner: SAIRA (John Kontoyannis)
Nominees: SAIRA

Best Fantasy Script
Winner: Out Flying Past My Bedtime (Linda Falcao)
Nominees: Legends of Destiny, Comic Book Kings, Out Flying Past My Bed Time, Magic Research Society, Fireflies

Best Action Thriller Script
Winner: Pysanky (Phineas Fiske)
Nominees: Pysanky, The Arena

Best Period Script
Winner: Clemente (Ian Eugene Ryan and Joseph Loizzi)
Nominees: Clemente, Paradise Palms

Best Short Screenplay
Winner: Final Draft (Keion Jackson)
Nominees: Board Games, Final Draft, Riding Shotgun, Leave, SAIRA

Audience Choice Awards

Best Webisode: Working Out the Kinks (William Alexander Runnels, USA)
Best TV Pilot: Shady Pines (Daniel Sorochkin, USA)
Best Music Video: On Softer Ground (Adam Gilbert, USA)
Best Narrative Feature: D-Love (Elena Beuca, USA)
Best Documentary: Hilleman—A Perilous Quest to Save the World's Children (Donald Mitchell, USA)
Best Short Film: Tonight and Every Night (Christina Eliopoulos, USA)
Best Student Film: Extra Cheese Please (Teresa Dabback, USA)

Friday, July 14, 2017

Split Ticket

In his 2011 non-fiction book, Kennedy and Nixon: The Rivalry That Shaped Postwar America, MSNBC talk show host Chris Matthews writes about an encounter between two future U.S. presidents during a trip to Pennsylvania. The anecdote stoked the imagination of award-winning screenwriter and director Alfred Thomas Catalfo, who added a supernatural twist and created Split Ticket, a superbly directed short film reminiscent of The Twilight Zone.

Once upon a time, two rivals from different parties heading back to Washington after a debate settled a dispute in a collegial and good-spirited way—by drawing straws. Some observers of the current scene would say this plot element also belongs in The Twilight Zone. Despite the irony, tension runs high in this mind-bending thriller.

You can watch the trailer here: Split Ticket Trailer

In Good Faith

A graduate of New York Film Academy Los Angeles Campus who also holds an Excellence in Achievement Award from Middle Bucks Institute of Technology, student filmmaker Casey Hempel is a local talent done good. A devout Christian with an interfaith sensibility, she makes full use of her education, beliefs and hard-won craft in this faith-based story of love.

In her film, a couple with differing faiths and ethnic backgrounds becomes engaged, and while the bride-to-be's mother is over the moon with excitement, his parents, having lived most of their lives in the old country are, shall we say, less optimistic about the union. What is a happy young woman to do when her future in-laws are so resistant to her despite her most heartfelt efforts to win their affections?

Find out by watching this lighthearted and modern interpretation of an age-old theme. You can watch the trailer here: In Good Faith Trailer