Pick Of The Litter
Pick Of The Litter

The Special Screenings program for the 24th edition of the Slamdance Film Festival features provocative work from remarkable talent that celebrates the festival’s DIY spirit. The festival will present four features in the Special Screenings Program: Bernard and Huey, directed by Dan Mirvish; Roll With Me, directed by Lisa France; Quest, directed by Santiago Rizzo; and the world premiere of Pick Of The Litter, directed by Don Hardy and Slamdance alumni Dana Nachman.

Pick Of The Litter will screen as the festival’s Opening Night Film presentation.  The Special Screenings program will also feature the festival’s closing night film, Bernard and Huey, a narrative feature directed by Slamdance co-founder Dan Mirvish and written by Pulitzer Prize and Oscar-winning cartoonist, playwright, and screenwriter, Jules Feiffer.

Slamdance will host a filmmaker discussion with Slamdance Alumni, Joe Russo and Anthony Russo. The conversation, moderated by Slamdance Co-Founder and President Peter Baxter, will highlight the filmmaking duo’s history with the fest and impart career insight for the this year’s class of Slamdance filmmakers. During the discussion, Slamdance will also honor the Russo Brothers with the Founders Award, which is presented to a Slamdance alumni who has continued to support the indie spirit of the festival well into their careers. The award was first presented in 2015 to director Christopher Nolan (Inception, Dunkirk).

The 2018 Slamdance Film Festival will run January 19-25.


Bernard and Huey
(USA) – Narrative Feature
Director: Dan Mirvish
Screenwriter: Jules Feiffer
Synopsis: From a script by Oscar/Pulitzer-winner Jules Feiffer (Carnal Knowledge), this is the story of two men behaving badly, and the strong women who rein them in.
Cast: Jim Rash, David Koechner, Mae Whitman, Sasha Alexander, Eka Darville, Richard Kind, Nancy Travis, Bellamy Young

Pick Of The Litter
(USA) World Premiere – Documentary Feature
Directors: Dana Nachman, Don Hardy
Screenwriter: Dana Nachman
Synopsis: Pick of the Litter follows a litter of puppies from birth through the day they make it to become a Guide Dog and into the hands of a blind person, or… get cut from the program. The audience comes along on the two-year odyssey as the five dogs train to become guide dogs. Only the best dog will make the cut.

(USA) Narrative Feature
Director: Santiago Rizzo
Synopsis: Quest is a non-romantic story of love, about a friendship between a 12-year-old graffiti addict who faces constant abuse from his step-father, and a teacher named Tim Moellering who believes there is no such thing as a bad kid — only a bad situation. Based on the stories of their lives, the first draft of Quest was written by director Santiago Rizzo and his teacher Tim Moellering. This is their story.
Screenwriters: Santiago Rizzo, Darren Anderson
Cast: Dash Mihok, Lou Diamond Phillips, Lakeith Stanfield, Betsy Brandt, Greg Kasyan, Marlyne Barrett, Sepideh Moafi, Tobit Raphael

Roll With Me
(USA) Documentary Feature
Director: Lisa France
Screenwriter: Jeff Buccellato, Lisa France
Documentary Subjects: Gabriel Cordell, Christopher Kawas
Synopsis: After hitting rock-bottom, a newly sober paraplegic attempts to save his gang-banger nephew’s life by bringing him along on a 3,100-mile wheelchair trek across the United States. What starts out as a challenge to push an unmodified wheelchair from California to New York, morphs into a transcendent journey.


The State of Film / Crowdfunding for Career Independence
With Emily Best & Gerry Maravilla
Friday, January 19 – Noon – 1:30pm

Emily Best and Gerry Maravilla from Seed&Spark are here to share how crowdfunding can be an important tool for raising funds, widening your audience, and communicating with current and future fans in order to ensure that this isn’t the only project you make – it’s one of many in your lengthy filmmaking career. You’ll also find out why data, inclusion, and distro all factor into your success on Seed&Spark, the only platform with a 75% success rate for filmmakers. Learn why crowd-building has to occur before crowd-funding, how to set a realistic campaign goal, how to craft an effective pitch video, what the unique Seed&Spark feedback process is like, and how to continue your connection with your community after your campaign ends.

Two Brothers, Twenty Years: The Russo Brothers’ Past and Future
With Joe and Anthony Russo
Saturday, January 20 – Noon – 1:30pm

From their 1997 Slamdance premiere to their establishment of The Russo Brothers Fellowship at Slamdance 2018, Anthony and Joe Russo have seen the film industry change more (and more quickly) than it ever has before.

While working on myriad projects over two decades, the Russos have seen old-fashioned theater-going give way to pocket computers, streaming services, and endless OnDemand options. Amidst these changes, the brothers rose to studio heights while retaining the authenticity and artist-driven focus of independent filmmakers.

As mentors and partners, Anthony and Joe spend lunchtime with us, deconstructing the mythology of their own “indie success story,” and openly sharing the challenges they’ve faced and wisdom they’ve gained.

(De)escalation Room by Columbia DSL
With Lance Weiler and Nick Fortugno
Sunday, January 21 – Noon – 2pm

What if we built an environment inspired by negative conversations and behaviors found on social media platforms and in the real world? Inside of this environment, situations quickly escalate. But this time, we would be able to do something about it.

The goal of the (De)escalation Room project is to design a creative framework that allows people to take the lead in creating their own immersive, collaborative experiences. Within these experiences, they’ll be able to teach each other how to identify escalating situations and safely de-escalate them; change norms around escalation; and leave room for self and group reflection on the process.

At Slamdance this January, Columbia DSL will present the next iteration of the (De)escalation Room. This workshop-style experience will transform audience members into participants, working together to collaboratively explore de-escalation.

When I Was You I Wish I Knew: The Ins and Outs of Distribution
With John Charles Meyer & Cullen Hoback
Monday, January 22 – Noon – 1:30pm

Slamdance alums John Charles Meyer (Dave Made a Maze) and Cullen Hoback (What Lies Upstream) remember how exhausting, overwhelming, and scary a time like this can be, no matter what sort of distribution possibilities you’re considering.

Social Media Charm School
With Julie Keck and guest “influencer”
Tuesday, January 23 – Noon – 1:30pm

In this time of BRB and OMG, charm and relationship building can seem like a lost art. However, a little charm can go a long way, especially if you’re trying to gather a following for your amazing cinematic endeavors. In this session, find out how to put your best face forward on social media to make real connections with your audience, potential collaborators, influencers, ambassadors, and friends.

Based on years for filmmaking, film marketing, and social media experience, Julie Keck from Seed&Spark will walk you through the platforms you should be on, how much time you should spend on them, how to strike the right tone, how to use social media during a crowdfunding or other campaign, and how to do all of this and still have time left over to, you know, make movies.

Bonus: Everyone who attends will get a free digital copy of Julie’s book Social Media Charm School. Happy early birthday.

Art Of The Pitch
With Julie Keck & Emily Best
Wednesday, January 24 – Noon – 1:30pm

Your dream project is often rattling around in your head (and then on your laptop) for years before you share it with anyone else. And when it’s time to share it with potential collaborators, investors, or audience members, it can be hard to sum up all of your hard work into a quick 5-minute pitch. Don’t worry – you’ll get there. It just takes practice.

This workshop-style program is for filmmakers ready to start putting their work into the world, as effectively as possible. Emily Best and Julie Keck of Seed&Spark will share tips about how to present your idea to different audience, how to prepare for meetings, and why practice is your friend. Be prepared to practice your 5-minute pitch in a safe and secure space, with others in your shoes. And if we’re lucky, we might ask you to pitch to the whole group. No time like the present to build your audience, right?

You do not have to have a practices, readied pitch to attend this session, only an idea for your next project and a willingness to both share your idea and listen to others. Ready? Let’s do this.

Life As a Truly Independent Filmmaker: A Survival Guide
With Noel Lawrence, Robert Koehler, Titanic Sinclair, Jennifer Goodridge, and Alissa Torvinen
Thursday, January 25 – Noon – 1:30pm

While the fine arts emphasize the aesthetic and imaginative freedom of creators, the ‘entertainment’ industry is based upon commercial success. However, a small but vocal minority of auteurs practice cinema as an art form. Some of them work in avant-garde film. Others spend years constructing a couple minutes of animation. A precious few become renowned ‘cult’ directors. All of them feel compelled to pursue personal visions. But in order to produce work that goes against the grain, these filmmakers must take roads less traveled in their career path. How is that possible?

This discussion explores how career artists survive in a system that does not favor the bold. If you are wondering how to pay your rent without selling out to the man, this panel may be for you.

Daily Legal Clinics
With Pierce Law Group
Friday, January 19 – Monday, January 22 – 10am-11am

Pierce Law Group will be providing an all-encompassing look at the process of funding, producing, and distributing films, television, and new media. Our team will offer in-depth looks at the many factors in getting an independent project off the ground, from script clearance and E & O insurance, to actor and writer agreements, to on-set safety, to finding distribution, as well as a look at the litigation side of the entertainment industry. We examine current legal trends from the perspective of the independent filmmaker, and create an open forum during which filmmakers can engage in a discussion about the perpetually changing legal landscape.


(De)escalation Room Columbia University’s School of the Arts’ Digital Storytelling Lab and School of Social Work’s SAFElab, and is led by storyteller, entrepreneur and Slamdance Alumnus Lance Weiler and Nick Fortugno.

The goal of the (De)escalation Room project is to design a creative framework that will allow people to take the lead in creating their own experience. Within these experiences, they’ll be able to teach each other how to identify escalating situations and safely de-escalate them; change norms around escalation; and leave room for self and group reflection on the process

BVOVB: Bruising Vengeance of the Vintage Boxer by Michal Rostocki
Your glory days as a boxer are long gone. Once a champ, now a bum. All you care about is beer and your dog – Max the Rottweiler. Unfortunately your faithful dog has been stolen and you must get him back and punish the ones responsible.

The game is inspired by classic arcade brawlers (Double Dragon, Final Fight) with many enemies, some boss fights and a simple storyline. All in the style of old silent movies with a ragtime themed soundtrack. Both characters and backgrounds are based on original black-and-white photos from the ‘20s and ‘30s.

The Game: The Game by Angela Washko
The Game: The Game is a video game presenting the practices of several prominent seduction coaches (aka pick-up artists) through the format of a dating simulator. In the game these pick-up gurus attempt to seduce the player using their signature techniques taken verbatim from their instructional books and video materials. The game sets up the opportunity for players to explore the complexity of the construction of social behaviors around dating as well as the experience of being a femme-presenting individual navigating this complicated terrain.
Washko hopes to add levels of complexity to public conversations around both pick-up and feminism which have both found themselves most often presented in highly polarized, dichotomous positions in mainstream media.

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