SIERRA SPIRIT AWARD CENTERPIECE GALA & SCREENING
On Saturday evening we present the Sierra Spirit Award to legendary Independent filmmaker John Sayles. The Sierra Spirit Award is a tribute to an iconic and visionary filmmaker who has crossed the divide from cult to mainstream success, broken boundaries, and created visionary work that has touched generations of film lovers. John Sayles exemplifies a passion for cinematic storytelling at its finest, with a deep sense of humanism and compassion for his characters. We are proud to present a screening of Mr. Sayles’s classic 1983 film BABY, IT’S YOU, followed by a conversation with Mr. Sayles and the Sierra Spirit Award presentation.
COMPETITION FEATURES PROGRAM – NARRATIVE
COLD BREATH – West Coast Premiere
DIRECTOR: Abbas Raziji (Iran)
A gritty, sensitive, beautifully-observed drama about a transsexual single parent who guards her secret as she grinds out a living and fights to keep good boundaries with the man who loves her, but gradually opens up to her employers when her daughter’s illness forces her into asking for help.
DIRECTOR: Kuba Czekaj (Poland)
Kuba Czekaj’s visually stunning and thought-provoking second film spatiates across science, psychology, wild emotion and fantasy: an extraordinarily gifted teenager is hounded by his ambitious mother to pursue a lucrative science prize, but their relationship is fraught with issues of control and overtones of emotional incest.
THE FIXER – West Coast Premiere
DIRECTOR: Adrian Sitaru (Romania)
Issues around the dubious ethics of a supposedly caring media come to the surface in this powerful new offering from Romanian New Wave director Adrian Sitaru: a local “fixer” in Transylvania negotiates rough human terrain to get a French TV crew an interview with a young Romanian woman who’s been repatriated after being forced into prostitution in France.
THE GREAT UNWASHED – U.S. Premiere
DIRECTOR: Louis Fonseca (United Kingdom)
An exciting new crop of up-and-comers from the British comedy and sketch circuit show off their chops in this charming, madcap comedy about a handsome but hapless 20-something forced to flee the city and hide out with a tribe of hippies after witnessing a brutal murder by a gang of criminal hairdressers.
NEIGHBORHOOD FOOD DRIVE
DIRECTOR: Jerzy Rose (USA)
A group of awful idiots fail at throwing a party over and over.
DIRECTOR: Antonio Llapur (USA)
With a unique esthetic that puts raw, processed, punk-rock-esque live-action imagery into a richly detailed futuristic fantasy environment, this film noir parody follows an exiled space detective who returns to help an old flame but finds himself tangled in a web of interstellar intrigue, galactic gangsters, and a sinister scheme that threatens the very fate of the entire galaxy!
DIRECTOR: Adrian Murray (Canada)
An overconfident, confirmed slacker with a gift for dubious monologizing spends his time and energy in a series of hilariously small-scale and unlikely grifts as he strives to unlock the secret of his Rubik’s cube.
COMPETITION FEATURES PROGRAM – DOCUMENTARY
FOREVER B – World Premiere
DIRECTOR: Skye Borgman (USA)
The twisting, turning, stranger-than-fiction true story of the Brobergs, a naïve, church-going Idaho family that fell under the spell of a sociopathic neighbor with designs on their twelve-year-old daughter.
EIGHT – U.S. Premiere
DIRECTOR: Marko Vuorinen (Finland)
Framed by stunning, high-contrast black and white cinematography, eight candid, articulate, thoughtful young Russian women share their most intimate feelings and insights about romantic relationships. A film about the unbearable lightness of being in love in contemporary St. Petersburg.
DIRECTOR: Chris Valdes & Ted Griswold (USA)
Manuel, a Honduran musician, writes and records a song for a local drug cartel, but when it becomes a hit a rival cartel puts a price on his head; he faces a harrowing escape from death and the prospect of trying to survive in the U.S. as an undocumented immigrant.
DIRECTOR: Theo Anthony (USA)
A wise and charming exterminator guides us through a stylishly post-modern and painstakingly researched story about how rats-and the humans that love them, live with them, and kill them-mirror contemporary and historical class divisions in Baltimore.
DIRECTOR: Stefan Avalos (USA)
A backwoods dreamer from rural Ohio with a passion for Stradivarius violins challenges himself to create an exact copy of the most famous violin in the world, and has to race against time when he happens to meet an up-and-coming star violinist who wants to play the violin at a high-profile concert in Amsterdam.
THE ISLANDS AND THE WHALES
DIRECTOR: Mike Day (United Kingdom)
Contemporary realities collide with deeply ingrained tradition in the spectacularly beautiful Faroe Islands, as the annual whale hunt is dramatically challenged by animal-rights activists (including Pamela Anderson) and the whale meat, a traditional local food, is found to be contaminated with mercury.
WHAT LIES UPSTREAM
DIRECTOR: Cullen Hoback (USA)
Investigative filmmaker Cullen Hoback travels to West Virginia to uncover the truth behind a massive chemical spill that left 300,000 people without drinking water for months, and traces cover-ups and conspiracies all the way up to the highest levels of government.
SPOTLIGHT FEATURES PROGRAM – NARRATIVE
DIRECTOR: Joshua Z Weinstein (USA)
Director Joshua Z Weinstein captures the rich textures of Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community in this tender drama, performed entirely in Yiddish, about a childlike, zaftig widower who struggles against his own depression and apathy to fight for the only thing he actually cares about: custody of his son.
SPOTLIGHT FEATURES PROGRAM – DOCUMENTARY
DIRECTOR: Yuri Ancarani (Italy)
in this breathtakingly-shot, dreamlike film shot in Qatar, the world’s wealthiest country, the mega-rich are seen keeping a wild animal as a house-pet, driving a brand-new Lamborghini across the desert, riding in a biker gang with a solid-gold motorcycle, and flying in private jets to falconry competitions with their birds on luxurious perches.
DIRECTORS: Antonio Santini, Dan Sickles (USA)
An inspiring, resilient middle-aged woman with deep emotional scars and mild autism navigates the difficult path to intimacy with a kind Walmart door greeter who may or may not be able to fulfill her needs. Grand Jury Winner for best Documentary at Sundance 2017.
DIRECTOR: Rahul Jain (India)
A stunningly-shot, intimate, observant portrait of the rich textures and rhythms of life and work in a gigantic textile factory in Gujarat, India reveals the punishing realities of making a living from manual labor in an environment where unions are systematically destroyed. Special Jury Award for Excellence in Cinematography, Sundance 2017.
*Data provided by Mammoth Lakes Film Festival / Matt Johnstone Publicity