The 2016 Savannah Film Festival will launch on Saturday, October 22 with Jackie and will feature the Spotlight Gala Screening of La La Land and Centerpiece Gala Screening of Arrival. The festival will be held in downtown Savannah, Georgia, and runs from Saturday, October 22 to Saturday, October 29.
Opening Gala Screening: Jackie – A searing and intimate portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, then Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Natalie Portman). “Jackie” places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband’s assassination. Known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, here we see a psychological portrait of the First Lady as she struggles to maintain her husband’s legacy and the world of “Camelot” that they created and loved so well. Director: Pablo Larrain. Cast: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup and John Hurt.
Spotlight Gala Screening: La La Land – Written and directed by Academy Award® nominee Damien Chazelle, “La La Land” tells the story of Mia (Emma Stone), an aspiring actress, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams. Director: Damien Chazelle. Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and John Legend.
Centerpiece Gala Screening: Arrival – When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team — led by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) — is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers — and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity. Director: Denis Villeneuve. Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Mark O’Brien.
In addition to the Special Presentations, the festival also revealed its line-up of films including Gala Screenings, Signature Series, Docs to Watch and a new Global Shorts Forum.
The annual Gala Screenings spotlight upcoming studio films before their wide releases, including this year’s entries:
20th Century Women – Set in Santa Barbara, the film follows Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening), a determined single mother in her mid-50s who is raising her adolescent son, Jamie (newcomer Lucas Jade Zumann, in a breakout performance), at a moment brimming with cultural change and rebellion. Dorothea enlists the help of two younger women in Jamie’s upbringing — via Abbie (Greta Gerwig), a free-spirited punk artist living as a boarder in the Fields’ home, and Julie (Elle Fanning), a savvy and provocative teenage neighbor. Director: Mike Mills. Cast: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup and Lucas Jade Zumann.
American Pastoral – Set in the unrest of 1960s America, a man watches his seemingly perfect life fall apart as his daughter’s newfound political activism threatens to destroy their family. Director: Ewan McGregor. Cast: Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning.
Bleed For This – The incredible true story of one of the most inspiring and unlikely comebacks in sports history. Miles Teller (“Whiplash,” “Divergent”) stars as Vinny “The Pazmanian Devil” Pazienza, a local Providence boxer who shot to stardom after winning two world title fights. After a near-fatal car accident leaves Vinny with a broken neck, he is told he may never walk again. Against all odds and doctor’s orders, renowned trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) agrees to help Vinny return to the ring just a year after the accident for what could be the last fight of his life. Director/Screenwriter: Ben Younger. Cast: Miles Teller, Aaron Eckhart, Katey Sagal, Ciarán Hinds, Ted Levine, Jordan Gelber and Amanda Clayton.
Christine – In 1974, a female TV news reporter aims for high standards in life and love in Sarasota, Fla, and missing her mark is not an option. Based on true events. Director: Antonio Campos. Cast: Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall and Tracy Letts.
Lion – A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of miles from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family. Director: Garth Davis. Cast: Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman and Rooney Mara.
Loving – From acclaimed writer/director Jeff Nichols, “Loving” celebrates the real-life courage and commitment of an interracial couple, Richard and Mildred Loving (Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga), who married and then spent the next nine years fighting for the right to live as a family in their hometown. Their civil rights case, Loving v. Virginia, went all the way to the Supreme Court, which in 1967 reaffirmed the very foundation of the right to marry – and their love story has become an inspiration to couples ever since. Director/Screenwriter: Jeff Nichols Cast: Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga, Marton Csokas, Nick Kroll, Terri Abney, Alano Miller, Jon Bass, and Michael Shannon.
Manchester by the Sea – After the death of his older brother Joe, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is shocked that Joe has made him sole guardian of his teenage nephew Patrick. Lee reluctantly returns to Manchester-by-the-Sea, the fishing village where his working-class family has lived for generations. There, he is forced to deal with a past that separated from his wife, Randi (Michelle Williams), and the community where he was born and raised. Director: Kenneth Lonergan. Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler.
Moonlight – A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, “Moonlight” chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world. A groundbreaking piece of cinema that reverberates with deep compassion and universal truths. Anchored by extraordinary performances from a tremendous ensemble cast, Jenkins’s staggering, singular vision is profoundly moving in its portrayal of the moments, people, and unknowable forces that shape our lives and make us who we are. Director/Screenwriter: Barry Jenkins. Cast: Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali, Trevante Rhodes, André Holland and Janelle Monáe.
Trolls – From the creators of Shrek comes DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls, a smart, funny and irreverent comedy about the search for happiness, and just how far some will go to get it. This hilarious film transports audiences to a colorful, wondrous world populated by the overly optimistic Trolls, who have a constant dance in their step and a song on their lips, and the comically pessimistic Bergens, who are only happy when they have trolls in their stomachs. After the Bergens invade Troll Village, Poppy (Kendrick), the happiest Troll ever born, and the overly-cautious curmudgeonly Branch (Timberlake) set off on a journey to rescue her friends. Together, this mismatched duo embarks on a rescue mission full of adventure and mishaps — trying to tolerate each other long enough to get the job done. Utilizing music to further the film’s narrative, the Trolls soundtrack is produced by Justin Timberlake and features five original songs including songs by Justin Timberlake, Ariana Grande, Anna Kendrick and Gwen Stefani, in addition to a number of classic hits from the ’60s through the ’80s. Director: Mike Mitchell. Cast: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Zooey Deschanel, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Christine Baranski, Russell Brand, Jeffrey Tambor, James Corden, Caroline Hjelt, Aino Jawo, Ron Funches, Kunal Nayyar, Quvenzhané Wallis, with John Cleese and Gwen Stefani.
The Signature Series features a curated selection of premiere films from documentaries and animation to narrative features from around the world. This year’s selection includes:
The Eagle Huntress – Set against the breathtaking expanse of the Mongolian steppe, the film follows Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl, as she trains to become the first female in 12 generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter. Director: Otto Bell.
I, Daniel Blake – Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, the latest from legendary director Ken Loach is a gripping, human tale about the impact one man can make. Gruff but goodhearted, Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) is a man out of time: a widowed woodworker who’s never owned a computer, he lives according to his own common sense moral code. But after a heart attack leaves him unable to work and the state welfare system fails him, the stubbornly self-reliant Daniel must stand up and fight for his dignity, leading a one-man crusade for compassion that will transform the lives of a struggling single mother (Hayley Squires) and her two children. Graced with humor and heart, “I, Daniel Blake” is a moving, much-needed reminder of the power of empathy from one of the world’s greatest living filmmakers. Director: Ken Loach. Cast: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires and Sharon Percy.
Me Before You – When Louisa Clark—Lou, as she’s known—unexpectedly loses her waitressing job she must scramble to replace the income that her tight-knit family depends upon. Desperation drives her to take a job as a caregiver to Will Traynor, a man who used to be a wealthy banker with an adventurous soul, living life to the very fullest, but for whom those days are in the past. After a tragic accident, Will lost the desire to live and now keeps everyone at a distance with his caustic, overbearing attitude. But unlike his family, Lou refuses to tiptoe around him or cater to his moods. In fact, her sparkling personality and easy nature are hard for even Will to ignore, and soon enough each becomes exactly what the other needs. Director: Thea Sharrock. Cast: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer and Charles Dance.
Paterson – Paterson is a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey — they share the name. Every day, Paterson adheres to a simple routine: he drives his daily route; he writes poetry into a notebook; he stops in a bar and drinks exactly one beer; he goes home to his wife, Laura. By contrast, Laura’s world is ever changing. New dreams come to her almost daily. The film quietly observes the triumphs and defeats of daily life, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details. Director: Jim Jarmusch. Cast: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani and Helen-Jean Arthur.
The Red Turtle – A massive sea turtle destroys a stranded man’s raft every time he tries to sail away from a tropical island. Director: Michael Dudok de Wit.
Things to Come – What happens when the life you’ve worked so hard to build falls apart all at once? Nathalie (Isabelle Huppert, in a radiant performance) is a philosophy teacher with a seemingly settled existence, juggling a rich life of the mind with the day-to-day demands of career and family (including frequent visits to her drama queen mother, played by the legendary Édith Scob). But beginning with the bombshell revelation that her husband of 25 years is leaving her, one by one the pillars of Nathalie’s life start to crumble. For the first time in ages, she finds herself adrift, but also with a newfound sense of liberation. With nothing to hold her back, Nathalie sets out to define this new phase of her life and to rediscover herself. Winner of the Best Director award at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival, the new film from Mia Hansen-Løve (“Eden”) is an uncommonly intelligent, soul-searching look at what it means to create a life of one’s own. Director: Mia Hansen-Løve. Stars: Isabelle Hubbert, Andre Marcon and Roman Kolinka.
Toni Erdman – A reluctant woman (Sandra Hüller) must spend time with her estranged father (Peter Simonischek) when he comes for a surprise visit. Director: Maren Ade. Cast: Peter Simonischek, Sandra Hüller and Michael Witterborn.
Trespass Against Us – Set across three generations of the Cutler family who live as outlaws in their own anarchic corner of Britain’s richest countryside, Chad Cutler (Michael Fassbender) is heir apparent to his bruising criminal father, Colby (Brendan Gleeson) and has been groomed to spend his life hunting, thieving and tormenting the police. But with his own son, Tyson (Georgie Smith), coming of age, Chad soon finds himself locked in a battle with his father for the future of his young family. When Colby learns of Chad’s dreams for another life, he sets out to tie his son and grandson into the archaic order that has bound the Cutler family for generations. He engineers a spectacular piece of criminal business involving a heist, a high-speed car chase and a manhunt, which leaves Chad bruised and bloodied and with his very freedom at stake. Director: Adam Smith. Stars: Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson and Rory Kinnear.
DOCS TO WATCH
Sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter, the Docs to Watch series returns, focusing exclusively on ten of the top must-see documentaries from this year, as well as those gaining award season attention. Attending guests will participate in a Q&A for their respective films. The directors from each documentary will join a panel moderated by Scott Feinberg, awards columnist for The Hollywood Reporter to be held on Sunday, Oct. 23.
Expected to attend are director Andrew Rossi (“The First Monday in May”); director Clay Tweel (Gleason); directors Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani (The Ivory Game); director Roger Ross Williams (Life, Animated); director Barbara Kopple (Miss Sharon Jones); directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You); Adam Irving (Off the Rails“; director Ezra Edelman (OJ: Made in America); director Keith Maitland (Tower); and directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg (Weiner).
GLOBAL SHORTS FORUM
The Global Shorts Forum is a collection of 49 powerful, moving shorts from around the globe that speak to the issues affecting us as a global community, featuring current events and topics such as the refugee reality, immigration, race, poverty and prejudice, climate change, LGBTQ issues and more.