Director Alma Har’el will attend the upcoming 2019 Mill Valley Film Festival to showcase her latest film Honey Boy, from a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf based on his life.
Most famous for her award-winning films Bombay Beach and LoveTrue, Alma Har’el creates narrative work that plunges deep into the heart of imagination and creates surreal, dream-like poetic meditations on life. Her wildly inventive approach to filmmaking produces genre-redefining work which is exceptional, fearless, and artistically blurs the line between documentary and fiction.
Born in Tel Aviv, she began her film career as a photographer and video artist, mixing live video content for concerts which then led to directing music videos. Filmmaker Magazine said her music video for Sigur Rós ‘FJÖGER PIANO’ starring Shia LaBeouf contains a “Truthful fusion of fantasy and reality” after naming her one of their 25 new faces of cinema. Her documentary Bombay Beach took top prize at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2011 and was nominated for the Indie Spirit awards. Her film, LoveTrue, saw her collaborating again with Shia LaBeouf, this time with him in the executive producer’s seat. The film premiered at Tribeca Film Festival to rapturous applause in April 2016, with Indiewire writing “LoveTrue confirms that Alma Har’el makes movies like nothing else out there.”
In 2016, Har’el launched the initiative Free the Bid to address the gender imbalance among directors in the commercial industry. #FreeTheBid asks ad agencies, production companies, and brands to pledge a woman director bid on every commercial. Since its launch, over 40 of the world’s biggest ad agencies have taken the pledge along with 10 major brands including HP, Visa, eBay, Twitter, Levi’s and Airbnb. In the first year of Free the Bid’s implementation, pledged agencies, BBDO and CP+B reported an increase of jobs directed by women of up to 400%.
Honey Boy, from a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf, based on his own experiences, award-winning filmmaker Alma Har’el brings to life a young actor’s stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father through cinema and dreams. Fictionalizing his childhood ascent to stardom, and subsequent adult crash-landing into rehab and recovery, Har’el casts Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges as Otis Lort, navigating different stages in a frenetic career. LaBeouf takes on the daring and therapeutic challenge of playing a version of his own father, an ex-rodeo clown and a felon. Artist and musician FKA twigs makes her feature acting debut, playing neighbor and kindred spirit to the younger Otis in their garden-court motel home. Har’el’s feature narrative debut is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between filmmaker and subject, exploring art as therapy and imagination as hope.
Honey Boy is one of the many films directed by women being shown at the Festival this year as part of its gender equity initiative Mind the Gap. In 2018, MVFF signed the Gender Parity Pledge, 50/50×2020, joining the likes of the Cannes, Venice, and Toronto International Film Festivals, to work towards better gender representation and inclusion in its lineup, MVFF is the only festival in California to sign the 2020 pledge. This year (2019) the Festival will showcase 48% women directors throughout the Festival, a 3% increase from last year.