Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader's 'The Skeleton Twins' Set to Open Nantucket Film Festival
Several Sundance hits will make their East Coast premieres at the Nantucket Film Festival this June.
The festival is set to open with Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader's The Skeleton Twins and will close with Richard Linklater's Boyhood, with Fox Searchlight's I Origins set as the centerpiece film.
The Skeleton Twins stars the Saturday Night Live alums as a pair of estranged siblings. The dark comedy premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was quickly picked up by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.
Boyhood, another 2014 Sundance premiere, took more than 12 years to make, with the director shooting the same actors once a year to capture the life of a boy from age 6 to 18.
I Origins, starring Michael Pitt and Brit Marling, also a hot Sundance debut, was swiftly acquired by Fox Searchlight for nearly $3 million, one source told The Hollywood Reporter. The movie follows a Ph.D. student who falls in love with a mysterious model and tackles heavy concepts like the existence of God and reincarnation. The film's writer-director, Mike Cahill, will receive the New Voices in Screenwriting award at the festival. Cahill's first film, Another Earth, won a special jury prize at Sundance and was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards.
Hoop Dreams director Steve James, who will screen his Roger Ebert doc Life Itself in Nantucket, is set to receive the festival's Special Achievement in Documentary Storytelling award.
Aaron Sorkin was previously announced as the festival's 2014 Screenwriter Tribute recipient. Cahill, James and Sorkin will all be honored at the Tribute event on Saturday, June 28.
“At the core of each year’s festival are the awards presented at the Screenwriters Tribute. These awards allow our audiences a chance to gain insight into the creative process of screenwriters and storytellers being celebrated,” the festival's executive director, Mystelle Brabbee, said in a statement. “We are especially pleased with the balance this year, beginning with director Steve James, who has brought us so many important documentaries including the critically acclaimed Hoop Dreams. Then there’s screenwriter Mike Cahill, who brings us his second feature I Origins and is quickly becoming one of the most compelling young screenwriters today."
Other highlights in the festival's lineup, unveiled Tuesday, include Toronto hit Begin Again (formerly titled Can a Song Save Your Life?), which is set to close the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival; Proposition 8 documentary The Case Against 8; Penn State doc Happy Valley, and Tribeca titles Goodbye to All That, Gabriel, Life Partners, Love Is Strange and The One I Love.
"The Nantucket Film Festival is always excited to find new work that finds creative approaches to revealing characters and stories,” film program director Basil Tsiokos said in a statement. “Whether exploring the challenges of contemporary relationships, the joys and heartbreaks of coming of age, or the lives of unforgettable individuals, the filmmakers of this year's lineup impress with fresh and modern takes to share their vision with audiences."
The Nantucket Film Festival will also feature a collection of Disney-Pixar short films on its opening day and a free beach screening of 1979's The Muppet Movie.
The 19th annual festival will screen 75 films from June 25-30. Passes and ticket packages are currently available on nantucketfilmfestival.org. Individual tickets go on sale on May 22.
The festival's full lineup is listed below.
FEATURE FILM PROGRAM
Director: Doug Block
Director Doug Block’s previous films, 51 BIRCH STREET and THE KIDS GROW UP, explore universal themes of love, marriage, and family as revealed through his personal experiences. For the past two decades, Block has supported his filmmaking career by documenting the relationships of other couples, filming over a hundred wedding videos. While a pivotal part of their special day, he typically lost touch with these new brides and grooms as they set off for their expected happily ever after. Curious to see if reality matched their fairy tale fantasies of wedded bliss, Block revisits nine couples for a candid, humorous, and sometimes heartbreaking exploration of the joys and challenges of matrimony.
Writers: Carlos Marques-Marcet, Clara Roquet
Director: Carlos Marques-Marcet
When an opportunity for Alex to pursue her passion for photography separates her from Sergi, the couple must navigate a long-distance relationship, using technology to bridge the titular distance between Los Angeles and Barcelona. Putting plans for a baby aside until Alex is done with her yearlong residency, the lovers soon discover the limits of virtual intimacy, and their commitment to one another is challenged. In his feature debut, Carlos Marques-Marcet expertly melds form and content, charting the fracturing of a relationship through a series of fragmented virtual encounters that reveal the bittersweet isolation behind our computer screens.
Director: Robert Greene
Approaching documentary as melodrama, director Robert Greene presents this mesmerizing portrait of a woman who finds herself having to choose between family and career. Actress Brandy Burre was on the verge of breakout success with a recurring part on HBO’s THE WIRE when she discovered she was pregnant. Putting acting to the side, she fled the city for the suburbs to begin a family. A few years later, dissatisfied despite her best efforts to embrace her new role, the compelling Burre seeks a comeback, ultimately upsetting the fragile balance of her present domestic life in unpredictable ways.
Director: Michael Rossato-Bennett
The winner of the U.S. Documentary Competition Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Michael Rossato-Bennett’s affecting film reveals the remarkable power of music to reawaken those previously considered lost to Alzheimer’s or dementia. When social worker Dan Cohen played familiar music for typically unresponsive nursing home patients, the impact was dramatic and immediate: their eyes would light up, they would begin to sing, and some would even dance. Recognizing the revolutionary potential of this personalized, music-based approach to radically improve the quality of life of the elderly, Cohen embarks on an inspirational mission to bring iPods to facilities around the country as an alternative to ineffective, and costly, drug treatment.
Approaching the Elephant
Director: Amanda Rose Wilder
Seeking an alternative to America’s troubled educational system, Alex, an idealistic young teacher, opens a small free school in Little Falls, New Jersey, where all classes are optional and determined by student interest, and the only rules that exist are democratically decided upon by both the teachers and the students. Director Amanda Rose Wilder immerses the viewer in this radical and fascinating experiment, chronicling the school’s tumultuous inaugural year. While wonderfully individuated children adapt to unprecedented freedom and must take responsibility for their own learning, Alex and his staff also must contend with the inevitable strong personalities that test the limits of their open community.
Writer/Director: Desiree Akhavan
Desiree Akhavan is a triple threat in her feature debut, serving as the writer, director, and star of this frank, funny, look at contemporary relationships and their pitfalls. Shirin is twenty-something, bisexual, and Persian-American—and decidedly not out to her traditional parents, who are busy fussing over her overachieving brother’s impending nuptials. Recently single after a bad break-up with her girlfriend, Maxine, sardonic Shirin tries to figure out what went wrong, even as she makes a fresh start with a new apartment, a new job teaching filmmaking to out-of-control kids, and a headfirst plunge into the deep end of the dating pool.
Arlo & Julie
Writer/Director: Steve Mims
In this charming and clever comedy, appealing young couple Arlo and Julie have shared an unremarkable life for three years—he’s a Civil War historian with an office job, and she waits tables in a restaurant. All that changes when anonymous envelopes begin arriving daily, each containing an increasing number of jigsaw puzzle pieces. Soon, their comfortable status quo is upended with intrigue and uncertainty as they rearrange their daily routines to wait for their loquacious postal carrier so they can get to the bottom of the mystery.
Art and Craft
Directors: Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman
Over the past 30 years, Mark Landis has placed his art in museums across the country—an impressive feat under normal circumstances, but especially noteworthy in this case, because Landis is an art forger. He doesn’t seek financial gain for his copies, but instead donates his work, adopting various identities—from estate executor to Jesuit priest—to facilitate his gifting. Technically, he may not even have committed a crime, but that hasn’t stopped Matthew Leininger, the museum registrar who first discovered Landis’ con, in his mission to end the deception. Tackling questions of authorship, authenticity, mental illness, and purpose, the filmmakers have crafted a complex portrait of an unforgettable character.
Begin Again – Spotlight Film
Writer/Director: John Carney
Despite her natural songwriting skills, Gretta (Keira Knightley) has stayed in the background, following her boyfriend, Dave (Maroon 5’s Adam Levine), to New York as his music career takes off. But after he breaks her heart, an encounter with washed up record executive Dan (Mark Ruffalo) leads to a creative collaboration that allows Gretta to discover her voice, and Dan to find redemption. Punctuated by catchy songs wonderfully performed by Knightley all around the city, this upbeat comic drama continues the revitalization of the musical begun with writer/director John Carney’s Oscar-winning ONCE.
Boyhood – Closing Night Film
Writer/Director: Richard Linklater
Richard Linklater’s latest film is a revelation, a coming of age story in which a boy transforms into a young man before the viewer’s eyes. Rather than using different actors to portray the same character at various ages, Linklater filmed the same actors, once a year, for more than a decade, capturing the progression of time—an integral part of the story. The film witnesses moments in the life of Mason (Ellar Coltrane) as he navigates growing up from six to eighteen and negotiates his relationship with divorced parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette).
Writers: Gene Hong, Jeremy Sisto
Director: Jay Karas
Prickly tennis pro Jimmy (Jeremy Sisto) wants to revive his ailing career by making a run at the Grand Slam. But after his latest doubles partner leaves him, he turns to his estranged brother, Darren (David Walton), whose athletic dreams Jimmy crushed long ago when he dropped Darren for a better-ranked player. Now a substitute teacher, Darren reluctantly serves as father figure to his flamboyant preteen student Barry (scene-stealing Joshua Rush), who helps the mismatched brothers find common ground in this sure-to-please comedy.
Writer/Director: John Michael McDonagh
At the start of this darkly comic murder mystery, Father James Lavelle (Brendan Gleeson) receives a death threat from an unidentified parishioner in the confessional booth. Given a week to put his affairs in order, Lavelle matter-of-factly sets out to visit with his troubled flock, each a lost soul who might be capable of the impending crime. As he tries to prevent his own murder, he must also comfort his visiting daughter, who is reckoning with her own troubles. Writer/director John Michael McDonagh fashions a thought-provoking morality fable about faith and forgiveness.
Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart
Director: Jeremiah Zagar
Jeremiah Zagar presents a cogent critique of our media-obsessed culture with this in-depth look at its origins. In 1991, a small-town New England murder became the harbinger of reality TV when Pamela Smart’s trial was televised. The unprecedented media scrutiny that resulted, and the audience fascination that fed off of it, influenced the guilty verdict. Afterward, continued interest led to adaptations such as the Nicole Kidman film TO DIE FOR, enabling the construction of a separate, competing version of the case that has left a troubling legacy. Zagar’s engrossing revisitation of Smart’s trial offers a sobering reflection on the consequences of allowing media to distort fact with fiction.
THE Case Against 8
Directors: Ben Cotner, Ryan White
Amid celebration of Barack Obama’s history-making victory in 2008, LGBT Americans faced the sobering reality that voters in California had elected to ban same-sex marriage through the state’s Proposition 8 ballot initiative. The fight to repeal began immediately. Progressive David Boies and ultra-conservative Ted Olson, legendary foes who had faced off in Bush v. Gore, formed an unexpected legal partnership, and two same-sex couples were chosen to serve as the opposition’s public face. In this Sundance award-winning film, Ben Cotner and Ryan White follow their fight all the way to the Supreme Court, simultaneously presenting a fascinating look at the legal process and a human portrait of two loving couples seeking equality under the law.
Writers: Patrick Brice, Mark Duplass
Director: Patrick Brice
Responding to a cryptic online ad seeking discreet filming services, Aaron (writer/director Patrick Brice) meets Josef (writer/producer Mark Duplass) in a remote cabin. Amiable, if eccentric, Josef reveals the nature of the project—he has inoperable brain cancer and wants to create a record of a day in his life for his unborn son before it’s too late. Constantly videotaping, Aaron indulges Josef over the course of a long day that begins strangely and gets increasingly creepy, suggesting that Josef and this job are not what they seem. Brice’s feature debut is a clever, darkly funny, and disturbing twist on the found footage genre.
Disney•Pixar Shorts – Opening Day
Short Film Program
The Nantucket Film Festival is proud once again to partner with Pixar on opening day! This collection of beloved short films spans three decades, in which the magic of Pixar brings the commonplace to life, from desk lamps (LUXO JR.) and umbrellas (THE BLUE UMBRELLA) to clouds (PARTLY CLOUDY) and souvenirs (KNICK KNACK); imbues indelible personality in birds (FOR THE BIRDS), sheep (BOUNDIN’), aliens (LIFTED), and magic rabbits (PRESTO); and even checks in with some familiar faces (HAWAIIAN VACATION, PARTY CENTRAL) to bring joy and wonder to the kid in all of us.
Divide in Concord
Director: Kris Kaczor
The residents of Concord, Massachusetts take pride in their town’s role in the American Revolution and celebrate direct democracy at annual town meetings where all citizens may propose and vote on bylaws. Jean Hill knows the process well—for two years running, the feisty octogenarian, concerned about the environmental impact of our disposable culture, has unsuccessfully lobbied to ban the local sale of plastic bottled water. She’s giving her bylaw one last try, facing off against her nemesis, celebrity publicist turned pundit Adriana Cohen, who balks at having her freedom encroached upon. DIVIDE IN CONCORD is an engaging and humorous exploration of participatory democracy and the power of individuals to enact change.
Directors: Ross Kauffman, Katy Chevigny
The winner of the U.S. Documentary Cinematography Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Ross Kauffman and Katy Chevigny’s breathtaking film chronicles the dangerous but life-affirming work performed by the Human Rights Watch Emergency Team, or E-Team, a compelling group of intrepid investigators willing to enter hostile territories to document crimes against humanity that might otherwise go unreported. Allowing an outside filmmaking team to follow them for the first time, unforgettable E-Team members Anna, Ole, Fred, and Peter travel to warzones in Syria and Libya in harrowing, visceral scenes that demonstrate the real threats they face in their determined efforts to put an end to dictatorial impunity.
Writer/Director: Lou Howe
Longing for stability in the throes of mental illness, Gabriel (Rory Culkin) will stop at nothing until he proposes to his high school girlfriend—never mind the fact that they haven’t seen each other in years. Abrasive and irrational, Gabriel nonetheless evokes empathy as he winds his way through New York City and Long Island on his quest, in large part thanks to Rory Culkin’s commanding performance. A sure-footed portrait of a young man on the edge, Lou Howe’s debut feature examines our societal fixation with the nuclear household, and considers whether or not it’s all it’s cracked up to be.
Goodbye To All That
Writer/Director: Angus MacLachlan
Angus MacLachlan, writer of JUNEBUG, makes an assured directorial debut with this sweet comedy about divorce and new beginnings. Otto (Paul Schneider) is blindsided when his wife, Annie (Melanie Lynskey), informs him that their marriage is over. Left with no choice, he moves out, tries to bond with his young daughter, and, suddenly single, begins exploring the world of no-strings-attached online hook-ups, meeting indelible characters like the hot and cold Debbie Spangler. But will the reemergence of his old crush, Laura, at his summer camp reunion open the door to a new life?
Director: Thomas Balmès
Convinced that development would increase his people’s “gross national happiness,” the King of Bhutan announced in 1999 that he would finally allow his country to have television and the Internet. The small village of Laya has been waiting ever since. Taking an understated, observational approach, Thomas Balmès (BABIES) follows eight-year-old monk Peyangki and his uncle on a long trip to the nearest city to purchase a television set in anticipation of the imminent arrival of electricity. What he finds there reveals the seductive power, and danger, of progress over a traditional way of life. Exquisitely shot, HAPPINESS was the winner of a cinematography award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Director: Amir Bar-Lev
State College, Pennsylvania, home to Penn State University, has long prided itself on its football program, lionizing its head coach, Joe Paterno. But when “Saint Joe” is caught up in the Jerry Sandusky pedophilia scandal, the once-harmonious community splinters. With impressive access to family members and community residents reeling from the accusations, director Amir Bar-Lev (THE TILLMAN STORY) handles an exceedingly difficult subject with deftness, challenging viewers to question the truth they believe they know to seek out thornier, more complex answers about hero worship, the court of public opinion, and their impact on everyday people caught in their wake.
the Heart Machine
Writer/Director: Zachary Wigon
Zachary Wigon’s impressive feature debut explores the pleasures and perils of virtual relationships. A happy young couple, Cody (John Gallagher, Jr.) and Virginia (Kate Lyn Sheil), communicate frequently via Skype—he’s in Brooklyn, and she’s in Berlin, working on an academic project. Despite their deep connection, they’ve never actually met in real life, a situation that soon allows suspicions to breed paranoia, upsetting the delicate balance of their long-distance rapport. What begins as a modern-day romance transforms into an intriguing mystery that questions how technology has mediated our understanding of intimacy.
an Honest Liar
Directors: Justin Weinstein, Tyler Measom
Renowned magician-turned-paranormal-skeptic James “The Amazing” Randi has been debunking claims of pseudo-science and the supernatural for more than four decades. Incensed that his beloved magic tricks were being co-opted by con artists for their own financial gain at the expense of the gullible general public, Randi and his collaborators have exposed faith healers, psychics, fortune tellers, and gurus around the world, often duplicating their tricks publicly to demonstrate how willing we all are to be deceived. But Randi himself is not immune to self-deception, especially in matters of the heart, as revealed in Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom’s lively and entertaining portrait.
I Origins – Centerpiece Film
Writer/Director: Mike Cahill
Writer/director Mike Cahill builds on the promise of his acclaimed first feature, ANOTHER EARTH, with this daring new foray into the metaphysical connections between love and science. Working with his partner, Karen (Brit Marling), molecular biologist Ian (Michael Pitt), a specialist in the evolution of the eye, makes a startling, potentially world-altering discovery—one with profound personal implications. Seeking confirmation of his theories, he sets off halfway across the world to meet his destiny. Fusing science, romance, and mystery, I ORIGINS is an enthralling, intelligent, and utterly original accomplishment.
the Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz
Director: Brian Knappenberger
From an early age, Aaron Swartz showed a prodigious affinity for the Internet, establishing himself as a peer to programmers decades his senior. He became a pioneering information activist and a leader in attempts to push back against Web censorship. Arrested for downloading academic journal articles from MIT, Swartz faced federal prosecution, crippling fines, and 35 years in prison. Denied a plea bargain, he committed suicide. Brian Knappenberger’s film is an affecting portrait of a brilliant life cut short, as well as a catalyst for engagement on society’s relationship to technology and information access. In the era of WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden, Swartz’s prosecution—and persecution—won’t be the last.
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Writers: Nathan Zellner, David Zellner
Director: David Zellner
Holed up in her cluttered Tokyo apartment, solitary Kumiko (Academy Award® nominee Rinko Kikuchi) devotes nights away from her dead-end job to compulsive viewings of the Coen brothers’ FARGO. It’s not the film that fascinates her so much as the bundle of cash Steve Buscemi’s character buries beneath the snow in the titular city’s outskirts—a treasure Kumiko believes is tied to her destiny. Based on a true story, KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER lays bare the universal human need for adventure and escapism, proving that real life is stranger than fiction.
Writers/Directors: Martha Stephens, Aaron Katz
Bored with retirement, foul-mouthed former surgeon Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson in a breakout performance) surprises his reserved ex-brother-in-law Colin (Paul Eenhoorn) with an impromptu trip to Iceland, and the odd couple head to Reykjavik to recapture their youth. Like two seventy-something kids in a candy store, they visit ice bars, geothermal spas, and trendy restaurants in an attempt to ignore their fears of growing old and being alone. Set against breathtaking vistas, Martha Stephens and Aaron Katz’s road trip buddy comedy is an immensely pleasurable, if bittersweet, look at aging and companionship.
Last Days in Vietnam – Spotlight Film
Director: Rory Kennedy
Rory Kennedy (ETHEL) returns to the Nantucket Film Festival with this stirring chronicle of the eleventh hour U.S. withdrawal from Saigon in the final weeks of the Vietnam War. With the invasion of the North Vietnamese Army imminent, the White House ordered the evacuation of U.S. citizens only—but their South Vietnamese allies flooded onto embassy grounds seeking help. Kennedy captures the dramatic evacuation from multiple perspectives, skillfully interweaving little-seen archival footage with reflective interviews with participants who were on the ground in 1975, providing a palpable sense of the difficult choices that had to be made by those in command—choices whose consequences still reverberate in the present day.
Life Itself – Spotlight Film
Director: Steve James
Acclaimed filmmaker Steve James (HOOP DREAMS) pays tribute to the late Roger Ebert and to the love of movies in this touching documentary. Using Ebert’s memoir as a launching point, James adroitly traces the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic’s career, demonstrating how Ebert, with sparring partner Gene Siskel, popularized film criticism for the masses. Folded into the film is the story of the health issues that ultimately claimed Ebert’s life, how he adapted to his physical limitations to thrive online, and, most affectingly, his personal life with his beloved wife, Chaz, and their family.
Writers: Susanna Fogel, Joni Lefkowitz
Director: Susanna Fogel
Leighton Meester (GOSSIP GIRL) and Gillian Jacobs (COMMUNITY) shine in this effervescent comedy about two codependent best friends and the man who unexpectedly comes between them. Sasha (Meester) is a slacker receptionist who tends to date younger, immature women. Her straight BFF, Paige (Jacobs), a lawyer, has also been unlucky in love—until she meets Tim (Adam Brody). Fearful of losing Paige to this goofy, movie-quoting interloper, Sasha is forced to reexamine what she really wants out of life in Susanna Fogel and Joni Lefkowitz’s charming debut feature.
Love Is Strange – Spotlight Film
Writers: Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias
Director: Ira Sachs
After nearly four decades together, New Yorkers Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) finally are able to tie the knot. But as a consequence, George loses his longtime job, forcing the couple out of their beloved apartment. With Ben retired and space at a premium, the pair are forced to separate, moving in with friends and family, which puts a strain on all of their relationships. Lithgow and Molina lead an excellent cast in fully realizing Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias’ profound script about the resilience of love.
the Notorious Mr. Bout
Directors: Tony Gerber, Maxim Pozdorovkin
Who is Viktor Bout? According to the U.S. government, he’s a ruthless international arms smuggler, a view promoted by Hollywood in LORD OF WAR, the Nicolas Cage film inspired by his infamy. But if you ask the good-natured Bout or his devoted wife, Alla, they’ll tell you he is simply a Russian entrepreneur who took full advantage of Russia’s embrace of capitalism after the fall of the USSR. Using a treasure trove of Bout’s charmingly amateurish home movies, juxtaposed with the DEA surveillance footage that eventually led to his conviction, filmmakers Tony Gerber and Maxim Pozdorovkin skillfully capture competing constructions of Bout’s identity, creating their own version in the process.
the One I Love – Spotlight Film
Writer: Justin Lader
Director: Charlie McDowell
Married couple Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) are having serious relationship problems. While their marriage counselor (Ted Danson) doesn’t seem to be helping, the weekend retreat in a secluded spot that he suggests might be just what they need to reconnect and work out some issues. But what they experience there is nothing close to what they anticipated. To say more would rob the audience of the joys of discovering Justin Lader’s clever script and Charlie McDowell’s distinct directorial dissection of the unpredictability of relationships, brought to life through astonishing performances from Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss.
Directors: Andrew Droz Palermo, Tracy Droz Tragos
Winner of the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Rich Hill is a deeply human look at three adolescents and their impoverished rural home. Filmmakers and cousins Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos have roots in the eponymous Missouri town, and they bring a sensitive touch to this richly observed and sublimely shot portrait of teens Andrew, Harley, and Appachey—genuine, multi-faceted characters not typically represented on screen except as stereotypes. Immersing the audience in their environment and in their lives, the film inspires hope that they’ll find a way not only to survive their circumstances, but to thrive despite them.
She's Lost Control
Writer/Director: Anja Marquardt
Ronah (Brooke Bloom), a graduate student in psychology, is completing her training by working as a sex surrogate to help male clients overcome problems with intimacy. Though supportive and nurturing, to protect both her clients and herself she is clear that the act is a professional relationship. Outside of these sessions, too, Ronah doesn’t allow personal matters, including her brother’s concern over their mother’s health, to affect her. But when she is faced with a particularly challenging new client, Johnny (Marc Menchaca), her rigid demarcations between the professional and the personal threaten to give way.
The Skeleton Twins – Opening Night Film
Writers: Craig Johnson, Mark Heyman
Director: Craig Johnson
Infused with comedy and heartbreak, Craig Johnson’s Sundance screenwriting award-winner stars SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE alums Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig as estranged siblings. A crisis forces Milo, shattered from a recent break-up, to move into the home of his equally depressed sister, Maggie. Though bound by their shared sense of humor, fraught adolescences, and currently tumultuous personal lives, they nonetheless struggle to reconnect. A funny, bittersweet portrait of brother-sister bonds—bolstered by incredible performances from Hader and Wiig, and featuring an instantly classic riff on a Starship tune—THE SKELETON TWINS proves that sometimes you can choose family.
Sounding the Alarm
Director: John Block
Since the 1990s, the number of reported cases of autism has increased dramatically, with the most recent Centers for Disease Control estimates suggesting a prevalence rate of one in 68 children. A decade ago, when Bob and Suzanne Wright’s grandson Christian was diagnosed, the couple made it their mission to discover the causes, treatments, and cure for the disorder, and they founded the advocacy organization Autism Speaks. Filmmaker John Block’s moving documentary tells the Wrights’ story, as well as the stories of other families affected by their children’s autism diagnoses, detailing their day-to-day struggles and triumphs as they seek better lives for their loved ones.
Special screening and extended conversation presented with Autism Speaks.
THE SUPREME PRICE
Director: Joanna Lipper
While Hafsat Abiola was attending Harvard in 1993, her father, M.K.O. Abiola, was elected president of their native Nigeria, but he was never permitted to take control of the government. The country’s corrupt military rule refused to relinquish power, M.K.O. Abiola was imprisoned, and the election results annulled. His wife, Hafsat’s mother, Kudirat, took up his struggle and led the nation’s pro-democracy movement, but at a terrible cost. Continuing their legacy, the fearless Hafsat returns to Nigeria to correct the wrongs perpetrated against her parents and her people, and to empower other women to become involved in the struggle for greater democracy and equality.
Director: Diana Whitten
Moved by the plight of desperate women in countries with restrictive reproductive rights, Dutch physician Rebecca Gomperts founded Women on Waves, which uses laws governing international waters to bring much-needed abortion and contraceptive services to those with no other recourse. As demonstrated in Diana Whitten’s SXSW Audience Award and special jury prize winning film, despite a quagmire of legal, religious, political, and logistical obstacles, Gomperts and her impassioned team persevere, coming up with creative workarounds that enable them to educate and empower women around the world to take charge of their own bodies.
Writer/Director: Alex Beh
Unsuccessful in his bid to become a comedian, late twenty-something Chicagoan Warren (Alex Beh) works a dead-end job as a barista, catering to obnoxious customers glued to their cellphones. Meanwhile, his dad, Jack (John Heard), delays signing the papers to finalize his divorce from Claire (Jean Smart) and insists on painting the family home, though it’s slated for demolition. Warren seems fated to get stuck in a similar rut, until his ex-girlfriend returns to town and rekindles his dreams in this appealing romantic comedy-drama about what happens when you stop settling.
Watchers of the Sky
Director: Edet Belzberg
The winner of two awards—for editing and animation—at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, Edet Belzberg’s masterful film is a meditation on the world’s response to genocide, focused on the man who coined the term, Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew who lost 49 relatives in the Holocaust. Belzberg recounts his Sisyphean, and largely unheralded, mission to make the international community take a stand on crimes against humanity, linking his post-World War II efforts to the work of present-day humanitarians—and showing that we can each take personal responsibility for making the world a better place.
Special screening and conversation with Edet Belzberg presented with Facing History and Ourselves.
We Are the Giant
Director: Greg Barker
Since 2010, more than a dozen nations have experienced popular uprisings collectively termed the Arab Spring. In a series of insightful portraits, director Greg Barker explores what it means to participate in collective action with the potential to unseat dictators. Osama describes how his Virginia-raised son fought Gaddafi’s forces in Benghazi. Ghassan and Motaz remain committed to peaceful resistance, even as Syria descends into ever-more-hopeless violence. Sisters Maryam and Zainab become pivotal opposition figures while their father suffers in a Bahrain prison. Their stories, underscored by those of resistance leaders from Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr., illustrate what drives revolutionaries and reveal the sacrifices they must make.
We'll Never Have Paris
Writers: Simon Helberg, Jocelyn Towne
Director: Jocelyn Towne
This romantic comedy of errors is based on the real-life story of directors Jocelyn Towne and Simon Helberg (THE BIG BANG THEORY). Neurotic hypochondriac Quinn (Helberg, also the screenwriter) plans to propose to lovely Devon (Melanie Lynskey). But when he learns his comely co-worker (Maggie Grace) has a crush on him, he instead inadvertently breaks up with Devon, who retreats to Paris in response. Realizing his mistake, Quinn jets to the City of Lights to attempt to win Devon back from the suave French musician who has soothed her broken heart.
Safety Last! (1923)
Co-presented With Nantucket Dreamland Foundation
Accompanied by Berklee Silent Film Orchestra
This special pre-festival screening on Tuesday, June 24 of Harold Lloyd’s SAFETY LAST! features a new music score composed and performed live by the Berklee College of Music Silent Film Orchestra, which is dedicated to composing original scores for silent feature classics and performing them live-to-picture.
SAFETY LAST! (1923), starring comedic genius Harold Lloyd, is widely considered one of the greatest silent films of all time and features the iconic image of Lloyd dangling from a giant clock on the side of a building over a bustling Los Angeles street below.
Ping Pong Summer – Free Beach Screening
Writer/Director: Michael Tully
It’s the summer of 1985, and 13-year-old Rad and his family have just made their annual trek to Ocean City, Maryland. The suburban hip-hop fanatic meets three people who will make this vacation unforgettable—instant best friend Teddy, local bombshell Stacy, and mysterious next-door neighbor Randi (Susan Sarandon), who, like Rad, harbors a love for ping pong. But trouble ensues when local rich kid Lyle pegs Rad as an easy target. Michael Tully’s charming, and gloriously awkward, love letter to 1980s coming-of-age comedies is the perfect beach movie.
This free screening will take place on Children’s Beach on Thursday, June 26.
The Muppet Movie (1979) – Free Beach Screening
Writers: Jack Burns, Jerry Juhl
Director: James Frawley
“It’s time to meet the Muppets…” To celebrate its 35th anniversary, and hot off the heels of this year’s MUPPETS MOST WANTED, we’re thrilled to present the Muppets’ first classic feature, a wacky, delightful romp that catapulted Jim Henson’s beloved gang from the small to the big screen. THE MUPPET MOVIE follows Kermit the Frog as heads to Hollywood to become a showbix star, running into zany fellow Muppets and wild antics along the way. Featuring hilarious cameos—including Mel Brooks, Orson Welles, Madeline Kahn, and Richard Pryor—and the Oscar-nominated song, “Rainbow Connection”, this is can’t-miss family fun!
This free screening will take place on Children’s Beach on Friday, June 27.