The 39th annual Atlanta Film Festival taking place March 20-29, 2015, announced the competitive lineups in the narrative and documentary feature categories.
“This year’s feature competition includes a wide variety of innovative works that truly challenge our perception of traditional film forms,” said ATLFF Director of Programming Kristy Breneman.
Three of these films, all of which are narratives, were announced in December: “Breathe (Respire)” directed by Mélanie Laurent, “Next Year (L’annee Prochaine)” directed by Vania Leturcq and “The Sisterhood of Night” directed by Caryn Waechter. Seven of the competition films are directed by women.
ATLFF will host the world premieres of both “Rosehill” (directed by Brigitta Wagner) and “Somewhere in the Middle” (directed by Lanre Olabisi). “Rosehill” is Wagner’s feature debut and stars Josephine Decker and Kate Chamuris. “Somewhere in the Middle,” starring Cassandra Freeman, Charles Miller and Louisa Ward, marks a return to ATLFF for Olabisi. His last feature, “August the First,” played the 2007 Festival. Olabisi is among the winners of the 2009 ATLFF Screenplay Competition.
Two films, Peter Blackburn’s “Eight” and Marcelo Galvão’s “Farewell (A Despedida),” will have their North American premieres at ATLFF. “Next Year (L’annee Prochaine)” played at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival, but will make its American debut in Atlanta.
Narrative Feature Competition:
directed by Mélanie Laurent
France, 2014, French, 91 minutes
Seventeen-year-old Charlie is bright and beautiful, but not without insecurity. When new girl Sarah arrives, Charlie is captured by her charisma and the two strike up a deep friendship. For a time, it seems as though each is what the other has been waiting for. When Sarah tires of Charlie and begins making new friends, their relationship takes a turn for the worse.
Starring: Joséphine Japy, Lou de Laâge, Isabelle Carré, Claire Keim
directed by Peter Blackburn
Australia, 2014, English, 82 minutes
Sarah Prentice had a life, once. She had a husband, and a daughter. She had holidays. Now she has a routine. She has eight. Bound in a repetitive cycle of OCD, trapped in her house by agoraphobia, the smallest of every day tasks are a monumental effort. As she battles to break her vices, will a knock on the door unhinge her progress?
Starring: Libby Munro, Jane Elizabeth Barry
#Narrative #International #NorthAmericanPremiere
Farewell (A Despedida)
directed by Marcelo Galvão
Brazil, 2014, Portuguese, 90 minutes
Based on true facts, “Farewell” tells the story of Admiral, a 92-year-old man, who decides that the time has come to say goodbye to all that is most important in his life and spends one last night with Fatima, his lover who is 55 years younger than him. His life has been showing clear signs that it is coming to an end, which makes the experience dense, deep and urgent.
Starring: Nelson Xavier, Juliana Paes, Amélia Bittencourt, Tereza Piffer
#Narrative #International #NorthAmericanPremiere
directed by Alison Bagnall
USA, 2015, English, 86 minutes
Gene spends his days canvassing about childhood obesity. One day he canvasses Titty, an emotionally-arrested 19-year-old who has successfully sued his own father to win back a large inheritance and gotten himself disowned in the process. Gene discovers that Titty has an ongoing online relationship with the beautiful but reclusive Ginger, who is an animal activist. Gene convinces Titty to make a pilgrimage to meet Ginger where the two men form a close bond despite both of them being drawn to the enigmatic Ginger, who is in need of rescue.
Starring: Kentucker Audley, Olly Alexander, Joslyn Jensen, Josephine Decker
God Bless the Child
directed by Robert Machoian, Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck
USA, 2015, English, 92 minutes
Five siblings, left on their own, spend a summer’s day full of fantasy and chaos.
Starring: Harper Graham, Elias Graham, Arri Graham, Ezra Graham, Jonah Graham
directed by Trey Edward Shults
USA, 2015, English, 82 minutes
After years of absence, Krisha reunites with her family for a holiday gathering. She sees it as an opportunity to fix her past mistakes, cook the family turkey, and prove to her loved ones that she has changed for the better. Only, Krisha’s delirium takes her family on a dizzying holiday that no one will forget.
Starring: Krisha Fairchild, Robyn Fairchild, Bill Wise, Trey Edward Shults, Chris Doubek, Olivia Grace Applegate, Alex Dobrenko, Bryan Casserly, Chase Joliet, Atheena Frizzell, Augustine Frizzell, Rose Nelson, Victoria Fairchild, Billie Fairchild
directed by Antonello Faretta
Italy, 2015, Italian/English, 88 minutes
A rich middle aged American woman unexpectedly discovers her true origin after her parents have died. Deeply moved, in the midst of an identity crisis, she decides to travel, hoping to find the natural mother she has never known. She therefore goes to a small and remote place in the south of Italy, Montedoro. She finds an apocalyptic scene when she gets there: the village, resting on a majestic hill, is completely abandoned and nobody seems to live there anymore.
Starring: Pia Marie Mann, Mario Duca, Luciana Paolicelli, Joe Capalbo, Anna Di Dio, Caterina Pontrandolfo, Domenico Brancale
#Narrative #International #WorldPremiere
Next Year (L’année Prochaine)
directed by Vania Leturcq
France/Belgium, 2014, French, 105 minutes
Clotilde and Aude are eighteen and have always been best friends. Their relationship is strong and interdependent, as teenage friendships can be. They are finishing school and have to decide what to do the following year, after their baccalaureate. Clotilde decides to leave their small, provincial village and go to Paris, dragging Aude along with her. But the two friends will experience this departure differently, ultimately splitting up.
Starring: Constance Rousseau, Jenna Thiam, Julien Boisselier, Kévin Azaïs
#Narrative #International #USPremiere
directed by Brigitta Wagner
USA, 2015, English, 78 minutes
Old friends Alice and Katriona haven’t seen each other since Alice got a job as a sex researcher in rural Indiana. When New York actress Katriona pays a sudden visit, Alice thinks her small-town boredom has come to an end. Little does she know that Katriona is harboring something. The two women set out on a local journey that leads them, unexpectedly, back to themselves. Rocks, women, motion, metamorphosis, and erotica. Part road trip, part meditation, part improvised fiction, part documentary, “Rosehill” is a film about crisis and eternal change, the darkness and resilience of the human spirit.
Starring: Josephine Decker, Kate Chamuris, Ken Farrell, John Machesky, Jacob Emery
The Sisterhood of Night
directed by Caryn Waechter
USA, 2014, English, 102 minutes
The story begins when Emily Parris exposes a secret society of teenage girls who have slipped out of the world of social media, into a mysterious world deep in the woods. Emily’s allegations of sexually deviant activities throw the town of Kingston into hysteria and the national media spotlight. As the accused uphold a vow of silence, Emily’s blog takes an unexpected turn when girls across the country emerge with personal stories of sexual abuse. Why are the Sisterhood girls willing to risk so much for a ritualistic gathering in the woods? From the story by Pulitzer Prize-winner Steven Millhauser, “The Sisterhood of Night” chronicles a provocative alternative to adolescent loneliness, revealing the tragedy and humor of teenage years changed forever by the Internet age.
Starring: Georgie Henley, Kara Hayward, Willa Cuthrell, Olivia De Jonge, Kal Penn, Laura Fraser
Somewhere in the Middle
directed by Lanre Olabisi
USA, 2015, English, 89 minutes
Sofia’s life is a mess. Bad relationships. Dwindling job prospects. But a chance encounter at a bookstore convinces her that she’s met the love of her life in Kofi — a handsome, but immature office manager. Kofi, however, has other things on his mind. Namely, his crumbling marriage to his demanding wife, Billie, who is herself struggling with a newfound attraction for her female co-worker, Alex. In an instant, events that seem true suddenly turn upside down. As secrets and lies surface, each layer of the love quadrangle is slowly peeled away, leaving everyone to cope with the ripple effects of love, obsession, sexuality and ultimately self-discovery. “Somewhere in the Middle” was born out of a year long improvisational process wherein the actors and director mutually crafted a time-fragmented, ensemble drama. Structured like a jigsaw puzzle, no character fully grasps their current dilemma as three interwoven stories are retold from varying viewpoints.
Starring: Cassandra Freeman, Charles Miller, Louisa Ward, Marisol Miranda, Aristotle Stamat, D. Rubin Green
Documentary Feature Competition
Frame by Frame
directed by Alexandria Bombach, Mo Scarpelli
USA/Afghanistan, 2015, English/Dari, 85 minutes
In 1996, the Taliban banned photography in Afghanistan. Taking a photo was considered a crime. When the US invaded after 9/11, Afghans saw the Taliban regime topple, the media blackout disappear, and a promising media industry emerge. Now, in a country facing abject uncertainty and ongoing war, Afghanistan’s young press struggles to be a free press. “Frame by Frame” is a feature-length documentary that follows four Afghan photojournalists navigating a young and dangerous media landscape. Through cinema verité, powerful photojournalism, and never-before-seen archival footage shot in secret during the Taliban, the film reveals a struggle in overcoming the odds to capture the truth.
directed by Andrew Berends
USA/Sudan, 2015, Sudanese Arabic, 80 minutes
An unflinching and poetic glimpse into a forgotten war, “Madina’s Dream” tells the story of rebels and refugees fighting to survive in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains. After decades of civil war, South Sudan achieved its independence from Sudan in 2011. But inside Sudan, the conflict continues. Sudan’s government employs aerial bombings and starvation warfare against the inhabitants of the Nuba Mountains. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled to refugee camps in South Sudan or remain trapped in the war zone. Eleven-year-old Madina and countless others dream of a brighter future for the Nuban people.
directed by Russell Sheaffer
USA, 2014,English, 88 minutes
“Masculinity/Femininity” is an experimental interrogation of normative notions of gender, sexuality and performance. Prominent filmmakers, film theorists, gender theorists, and artists are each asked to perform a piece that deals with issues surrounding gender identity and construction. Shot primarily on Super 8, the film merges academic and cinematic critique—aiming to be more of a document of gender de-construction rather than a documentary about gender construction.
A Snake Gives Birth to a Snake
directed by Michael Lessac
South Africa, 2014, English, 99 minutes
A diverse group of South African actors tours the war-torn regions of Northern Ireland, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia to share their country’s experiment with reconciliation. As they ignite a dialogue among people with raw memories of atrocity, the actors find they must once again confront their homeland’s violent past, and question their own capacity for healing and forgiveness. Featuring never-before-heard original music by jazz legend Hugh Masekela.
directed by Debra Granik
USA, 2014, English, 98 minutes
Harley-Davidson, leather, tattooed biceps: Ron “Stray Dog” Hall looks like an authentic tough guy. A Vietnam veteran, he runs a trailer park in rural Missouri with his wife, Alicia, who recently emigrated from Mexico. Gradually, a layered image comes into focus of a man struggling to come to terms with his combat experience. When Alicia’s teenage sons arrive, the film reveals a tender portrait of an America outside the mainstream. “Stray Dog” is a powerful look at the veteran experience, a surprising love story, and a fresh exploration of what it takes to survive in the hardscrabble heartland.
Sweet Micky for President
directed by Ben Patterson
Haiti/USA/Canada, 2015, English, 89 minutes
Can one man change a country? Pras Michel believed he could. “Sweet Micky for President” tells the story of Pras, founder of the Grammy award winning hip-hop group The Fugees, as he sets out to change the destiny of his home country of Haiti. With no experience, no money and no support, Pras mobilizes a presidential campaign for Michel Martelly better known as the controversial diaper wearing pop-star Sweet Micky. As a first time political candidate, Martelly aims to use his skills as an artist to affect revolutionary change in a country whose people have been disenfranchised for over 200 years. Despite all odds, Martelly wins the presidency instilling a renewed sense of hope for Haiti’s future.
Tomorrow We Disappear
directed by Jim Goldblum, Adam M. Weber
India/USA, 2014, Hindi/English, 85 minutes
When their home is sold to real-estate developers, the magicians, acrobats, and puppeteers of Delhi’s Kathputli Colony must find a way to unite—or splinter apart forever.