Slamdance announces largely virtual line-up

Festival also shifts to February for 2021 edition

by Amber Wilkinson

Isaac
Isaac Photo: Courtesy of Tallinn Black Nights
The Slamdance Film Festival has announced its full line-up of 25 features and 107 shorts. The festival, which usually happens alongside Sundance in January, has moved to February this year and will run from the 12th to 25th.

While most of the screenings will be via a virtual platform, the festiva lhas announced it will also include an invite-only Joshua Tree retreat focused on safely bringing the Slamdance community together timed to the opening festival dates and a series of public drive-in screenings (still subject to ongoing Covid safety protocols and quarantine).

An new programme, Unstoppable, has also been announced, which aims to showcase the work of creators with disabilities.

Festival president and co-founder Peter Baxter said: “Our theme this year was inspired by the incredible resilience and creativity evidenced by our community and our team over the past few unprecedented months. The shared journey ahead for Slamdance’s filmmakers, alumni community and organization is to ‘Greenlight Yourself’ and triple down on not only who we are, but how we can continue expanding the many ways we support the filmmakers who are the future of independent filmmaking.”

The festival will open with the world premiere of No Trace (Nulle Trace), by Canadian filmmaker Simon Lavoie. Taking place in a near future, the film follows a callous smuggler hardened by life who guides a pious young woman and her child across the border to safety, unaware that their destinies are inescapably linked in an inhospitable land.

It will close with world premiere of Stephen DeBro's 18th & Grand: The Olympic Auditorium Story a documentary about a fight palace and Aileen Eaton, the woman who ran it.

There is one UK film in the feature line-up, A Brixton Tale, directed by Darragh Carey and Bertrand Desrochers, which sees a voyeuristic, wealthy vlogger finds herself drawn to a handsome, shy youth from the infamous Barrier Block housing project.

Virtual festival passes are available for free until December 31 with $10 per festival passes available thereafter.

The feature line-up is below.

Narrative Features

A Brixton Tale (UK, Ireland) World Premiere
Directors: Darragh Carey & Bertrand Desrochers - Screenwriters: Rupert Baynham, Darragh Carey, Chi Mai ; Cast: Ola Orebiyi, Lily Newmark, Craige Middleburg, Jaime Winstone, Barney Harris, Michael Maloney, Rose Kerr, Dexter Padmore.
A voyeuristic, wealthy vlogger finds herself drawn to a handsome, shy youth from the infamous Barrier Block housing project. Their relationship with each other, and with the camera, leads them down a dangerous path.

A Family (Ukraine/Australia) North American Premiere
Director: Jayden Stevens - Screenwriters: Thomas Swinburn, Jayden Stevens; Cast: Pavlo Lehenkyi, Liudmyla Zamydra
A man living in solitary seeks emotional refuge in the organising and documenting of family moments using low-grade impersonators. When his fake sister becomes inspired to follow his method, their relationship struggles between the forged and genuine.

Dea (Hong Kong, Switzerland, Indonesia, France) World Premiere
Director: Alberto Gerosa; Cast: Dea Panendra, Bruno Zanin, Mas Gentur, Mas Akri, Mega, Mawar, Vincent, Abe and Icy Tsui
Dea leaves rural Indonesia and her singing dreams to migrate to Hong Kong as a foreign domestic worker. The script is the result of a nine-months acting improv laboratory with a group of Indonesian women migrant domestic workers, who have been victims of domestic violence while working in Hong Kong. The protagonist's story merges their real life experiences into one.

Hurrah, we are still alive! (Poland) North American Premiere Director/Screenwriter: Agnieszka Polska; Cast: Piotr Polak, Sonia Roszczuk, Marta Ojrzyńska, Arkadiusz Brykalski, Jacek Beler, Joanna Drozda, Marcin Czarnik, Bartosz Bielenia
An artistic commune of filmmakers awaits the return of the Director, who disappeared without a trace. Despite his absence, the Director seems to control all of the troupe's actions.

Isaac (Lithuania) Director: Jurgis Matulevičius - Screenwriters: Saulė Bliuvaitė, Jurgis Matulevičius, Nerijus Milerius; Cast: Aleksas Kazanavičius, Dainius Gavenonis, Severija Janušauskaitė, Martynas Nedzinskas
Skeletons rattle in the closet of a film director and his friends, 20 years after an infamous massacre.

Taipei Suicide Story (Taiwan) North American Premiere Director/Screenwriter: KEFF; Cast: Yuhua Sung, Tender Huang
A receptionist at a suicide hotel in Taipei forms a fleeting friendship over the course of one night with a guest who can’t decide if she wants to live or die.

The Sleeping Negro (US) World Premiere Director/Screenwriter: Skinner Myers; Cast: Rae Dawn Chong, Tunde Adebimpe, Nican Robinson, David Fumero, Julie McNiven, Skinner Myers
Confronted with a series of racially charged incidents, a young black man must overcome rage, alienation, and hopelessness in order to find his own humanity.

Teenage Emotions (US) World Premiere Director/Screenwriter: Frederic Da; Cast: Jaya Harper, Jayden Capers, Silas Mitchell, Ava Cooper
What happens within the walls of an American High School?

Man Under Table US Director/Screenwriter: Noel David Taylor; Cast: Noel David Taylor, Ben Babbit, Danny Lane, Katy Fullen, John Edmund Parcher, Robert Manion, Alisa Torres, Frank Hinterberger
In an anachronistic dystopian landscape, a beleaguered young man attempts to navigate his way through the indie film scene in LA.

Documentary Features

A Tiny Ripple of Hope (US) World Premiere Director: Jason Polevoi; With: Jahmal Cole, Dimetriana Chambers, Dominetrius Chambers, Deontae Lewis A charismatic activist works to build a better Chicago for the teens in his neglected community even if it comes at the cost of his home, his family, and his safety.

Anatomy of Wings (US) Directors: Nikiea Redmond & Kirsten D'Andrea Hollander; With Brittany Backmon, Teshavionna “Tazz” Mitchell, Sheila Butler, Marquise Weems, Brienna Brown, Danisha Harris, Cami McCrief, Tywana Reid, Quandra Jones, Quanisha Carmichael Black and white, young and old, a group of women risk their personal identities to build a second family while creating a documentary-film across the inequities of their Baltimore City neighborhoods.

Bleeding Audio (US) Director: Chelsea Christer; With: Shawn Harris, Justin San Souci, Jon Devoto, Matt Whalen, Mark Hoppus, Nick Hexum, Cassadee Pope, Justin Pierre From inspiring triumphs to heartbreaking setbacks, Bleeding Audio relives the explosive career of the Matches and what it means to succeed in the digital age of music.

CODE NAME: Nagasaki (Norway) World Premiere Director: Fredrik S. Hana; Screenwriters: Fredrik S Hana, Marius K Lunde; With: Cast: Marius K Lunde, Fredrik S Hana
The story of Marius and Fredrik, two young men who forged their friendship through filmmaking and decided to put their skills to a unique challenge: finding Marius’ long lost Japanese mother.

Everyone Wants To Be The Next Weismann (Spain) North American Premiere Director: Alberto Triano; Screenwriters: Alberto Triano and David Cantolla
In the art world, there are those who take risks and then, there's Martín Solo.

Holy Frit (US) World Premiere Director: Justin Monroe; With: Tim Carey, Narcissus Quagliata, David Judson, Adam Hamilton
Tim, a talented, yet unknown LA artist, bluffs his way into winning the commission to create the world's largest stained-glass window of its kind, even though he has no idea how to make it…but he stumbles across someone who might, the famous glass maestro, Narcissus Quagliata.

Me To Play (US) World Premiere Director/Screenwriter: Jim Bernfield; With: Cast: Dan Moran, John Christopher Jones, Joe Grifasi, Ruth Kreshka, Marybeth Coudal, Carolyn McCormick, Byron Jennings
As their bodies give way to Parkinson's disease, two New York actors put their hearts into one final Off-Broadway production of Beckett's Endgame, the play that posits, "There's nothing funnier than unhappiness.

Workhorse Queen (US, Australia) World Premiere Director/Screenwriter: Angela Washko; With: Ed Popil (Mrs. Kasha Davis), Greg Meyer (Darienne Lake), Tom Smalley (Aggy Dune), Christopher Steckel (Ambrosia Salad), Michael Steck (Pandora Boxx), Steven Levins, Roy Haylock (Bianca Del Rio), Joey Santolini (Tatianna)
After an unlikely casting onto a reality television show, 47-year old suburban telemarketer Ed Popil leaves his job to pursue a full-time entertainment industry career as his drag queen alter ego, 1960s era housewife Mrs. Kasha Davis.

Breakouts

While Slamdance’s main competition remains exclusive to first-time directors, this programme serves directors beyond their first films who maintain distinct visual styles and a unique cinematic voice.

A Black Rift Begins to Yawn (US) World Premiere Director/Screenwriter: Matthew Wade; Cast: Sara Lynch, Saratops McDonald, Luke Massengill
As two former classmates dig into their deceased professor’s set of cassette tapes, which possibly contain recordings of strange signals from beyond the stars, they begin to feel memories, the chronology of time, and their identities slip into obscurity.

After America (US) World Premiere Director/Screenwrite: Jake Yuzna; Cast: Yvonne Freese, Theresa McConnon, Daniel Nies, Ahmed Yusuf, Dan Fox, Eli Anthony, Robert Dante
In 2019, a group of criminal justice de-escalation workers in Minneapolis embarked on a collaborative film project that used radical theater workshop techniques to explore their real-life struggles to escape the pressures of the American dream. The result, finished days before the murder of George Floyd, captures a city searching for what lies after America.

Bad Attitude: The Art of Spain Rodriguez (US) World Premiere Director/Screenwriter: Susan Stern; Cast: Spain Rodriguez, R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Aline Kominsky Crumb, Ed Piskor, Ishmael Reed, Trina Robbins, Susie Bright
“Working-class Latino hood, crossed with crazy artist, crossed with left-wing radical,” so the legendary underground cartoonist Spain Rodriguez is described in this intimate portrait by his wife, Emmy-nominated filmmaker Susan Stern.

End Of The Line: The Women Of Standing Rock (US, Finland) World Premiere Director/Screenwriter: Shannon Kring; With Phyllis Young, Wašté Win Young, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, Sky Roosevelt-Morris, Linda Black Elk
Featuring shocking, never-before-seen law enforcement video surrendered by a disgraced officer, this is the incredible story of the indigenous women who establish a peaceful camp in protest of the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline construction that desecrated ancient burial and prayer sites and threatens their land, water, and very existence.

Mia Misses Her Revenge (Mia isi rateaza razbunarea) (Romania) US Premiere Director/Screenwriter: Bogdan Theodor Olteanu; Cast: Ioana Bugarin, Maria Popistașu, Ana Maria Guran, Carol Ionescu, Adrian Nicolae, Alexandru Ion, Mădălina Stoica, Ștefania Cîrcu
After a violent breakup, Mia is struggling to get revenge on her ex. As her plan kicks off, she finds herself surrounded by a group of friends that give female togetherness a new definition.

No Trace (Nulle Trace) (Canada) World Premiere - Opening Film Director/Screenwriter: Simon Lavoie; Cast: Monique Gosselin, Nathalie Doummar, Martin Desgagnés, Victor Andrés Trelles Turgeon
In a near future, a callous smuggler hardened by life guides a pious young woman and her child across the border to safety, unaware that their destinies are inescapably linked in this inhospitable land.

Spotlight Screenings

18th & Grand: The Olympic Auditorium Story – (US) World Premiere - Closing Film Director / Screenwriter: Stephen DeBro - Producers: Stephen DeBro, Robert Benavides, Mayre McAnulty, Tony Peck; With: Roddy Piper, Carlos Palomino, John Doe, Julio César Chávez, James Ellroy, Mamie Van Doren, Gene LeBell, The Destroyer
A raucous, visceral Los Angeles tale — seen through the story of a 20th Century fight palace and the remarkable woman who ran it — reveals battles over race, gender and identity that still roil America.

Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide – (US, Brazil) Directors/Screenwriters: Malia Scharf, Max Basch
Along with friends Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Kenny Scharf grew from a graffiti artist into a major force in the 1980s NYC art scene. Obsessed with garbage, cartoons, and plastic, this playful Peter Pan’s roller coaster career flourished despite the decimation of the AIDS crisis and the fickle tastes of the art world and continues to create colorful, complex work that puts him at the forefront of where popular culture meets fine art.

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