The 34th edition of Miami Dade College’s Miami Film Festival, taking place March 3 to 12, 2017, will present the World Premiere of Billy Boy, the first produced screenplay written by Miami native, Blake Jenner, who also stars in and serves as producer on the film. Billy Boy is among the selection of films nominated for the Festival’s annual Jordan Ressler Screenwriting Award.
“Billy Boy is a story of a young man’s pursuit of redemption and self-discovery. Like so many of the youth of today, the film represents those who struggle to better themselves in spite of extreme obstacles.” said Jenner in his Kickstarter campaign for the film.
Billy Boy also stars Melissa Marie Benoist (“Glee”, Whiplash), and Andre Royo (“The Wire”). It was directed by “Glee” and “American Horror Story” veteran, Bradley Buecker.
Born and raised in Miami with Cuban roots, Jenner honed his skills as a performer as a member of the Miami improv group “Impromedy” and in stage productions at The Roxy Theatre Group in Miami. Once he relocated to LA, Jenner won the second season of the Oxygen reality competition series “The Glee Project” and landed the role of Ryder Lynn, star football player/lead vocalist on the FOX hit “Glee”.
Jenner’s profile in the independent film world is rising sharply. In 2016, he starred in both Richard Linklater’s comedy Everybody Wants Some!! and Kelly Fremon Craig’s acclaimed The Edge of Seventeen. He will next be seen in the upcoming drama Sidney Hall, which makes its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2017.
This year the Jordan Ressler Screenwriting Award will grant $10,000 to the best first-produced screenplay at the 2017 Miami Film Festival. The cash prize was created by the South Florida family of the late Jordan Ressler, an aspiring screenwriter who died in a tragic accident at the age of 23. Recent winners of the Award at Miami Film Festival have included Lorenzo Vigas in 2016 for Venice Golden Lion-winner From Afar (Venezuela) and Naji Abu Nowar and Bassel Ghandour in 2015 for the Oscar-nominated Theeb (Jordan).
By premiere status, the competing films with first-produced feature screenwriting credits at 2017 Miami Film Festival include:
“Billy Boy” / USA (Screenwriter: Blake Jenner, Director: Bradley Buecker). Billy Forsetti has grown up poor, desperate and angry, but when he tries to break out of his cycle of petty crime, he finds the gravity of his past makes escape a difficult prospect. Starring Blake Jenner, Melissa Marie Benoist, and Andre Royo.
North American Premiere:
“The One-Eyed King” / Spain (Screenwriter/ Director: Marc Crehuet). A black comedy about the fragility of youthful convictions, the shifting confidence of social roles and the precarious search for value in on-the-edge Spain. Nominated for Best New Director at the 2017 Goya Awards in Spain.
“The Summer Is Gone” / China (Screenwriter/Director: Dalei Zhang). In Inner Mongolia in the early 1990s, 12-year-old Xiaolei looks forward to his long-awaited summer vacation,but life is rapidly changing, as stable jobs at state-owned companies disappear. His parents, seemingly calm in the blazing sunshine, seeth with inner anxiety, and Xiaolei has a feeling that a revolution is quietly taking place. Presented in collaboration with Miami Dade College’s Confucius Institute.
“La Soledad” / Venezuela/Canada (Screenwriters: Rodrigo Michelangeli & Jorge
Thielen Armand, Director: Jorge Thielen Armand). Already struggling to survive in the urban jungle of Caracas, José discovers that the decrepit mansion he occupies with his family will soon be demolished. Driven by a desire for a better life and guided by the ancestral spirits of the house, José embarks on a mystical search for a cache of gold that is rumored to be buried in the walls of the mansion.
“Are We Not Cats”/ USA (Screenwriter/Director: Xander Robin). After losing his job, his girlfriend, and his apartment in a single day, a young man attempts to restart his life, but is diverted when he meets a woman who shares his strangest habit, an inclination for eating hair.
“Chronically Metropolitan” / USA (Screenwriter: Nicholas Schutt, Director: Xavier Manrique). Young writer Fenton (Shiloh Fernandez) returns home to New York City for a family emergency involving his estranged parents Diane (Mary-Louise Parker) and Christopher (Chris Noth). Upon arrival, he learns to his dismay that the ex-girlfriend (Ashley Benson) who inspired his breakout novel is getting married to someone else.
“The Dancer” / France (Screenwriters: Stéphanie Di Giusto & Sarah Thibau, Director: Stéphanie Di Giusto). Based on the true story of Loïe Fuller, who left the American Midwest for Paris and become a Belle Epoque icon, with her mesmerizing and original dances. But her meeting with Isadora Duncan — a young prodigy hungry for glory — will lead to trouble. Starring Soko, Lily-Rose Depp, Amanda Plummer, Gaspard Ulliel and Mélanie Thierry.
“Jeffrey” / Dominican Republic, France (Screenwriter/Director: Yanillys Perez). Eleven-year-old Jeffrey lives in the poorest neighborhood of Santo Domingo and struggles as a limpiavidrio, or street windshield-wiper. He dreams of becoming a reggaeton singer with the stage name of “La Pesadilla” (“The Nightmare”) but the odds are stacked against him. Winner of the “Discovery” Prize at 2016 Toronto International Film Festival.
“Without Name” / Ireland (Screenwriter: Garret Shanley, Director: Lorcan Finnegan). Land surveyor Eric, alienated from urban existence and those who love him, travels to a remote and unnamed Irish woodland to assess its suitability for a dubious development project. Intangible elements are at play in this ethereal environment. Following in the psychonautic footsteps of the mysterious Devoy, Eric attempts to communicate with his surroundings, but risks becoming a prisoner of a place Without Name.