It all began when a group of cheerful, subversive filmmakers weren’t accepted into the Sundance Film Festival. Unwilling to take “no” for an answer, they instead started their own event – Slamdance: Anarchy in Utah. 26 years later, Slamdance has become a year-round organization fostering the development of unique and innovative filmmakers. The organization now consists of the Film Festival, Screenplay Competition and Slamdance Studios. It has also created Slamdance On The Road, a traveling theatrical showcase that brings popular Slamdance films to audiences that otherwise would not have the opportunity to see them. Dan Mirvish, Jon Fitzgerald, Shane Kuhn and Peter Baxter are the founding forefathers who, along with co-conspirator Paul Rachman, fought for truly independent filmmakers by giving them a voice in 1995 at the very first Slamdance Film Festival. Since then, the festival takes place every January in the breathtakingly stunning, snow-capped mountains of Park City, Utah at the exact same time as the Sundance Film Festival, to provide a more authentic representation of independent filmmaking. Up-and-coming writers, directors and producers, alongside seasoned veterans and film lovers, converge for the weeklong celebration of independent cinema, realizing that Slamdance is a great place to find those next, great, visionary films. Slamdance lives and bleeds by its mantra By Filmmakers For Filmmakers. No other film festival in the world is entirely run and organized by the creative force that can only be found in filmmakers. Slamdance adamantly supports self-governance amongst independents, and exists to deliver what filmmakers go to festivals for – a chance to show their work and a platform to launch their careers. The festival has earned a solid reputation for premiering films by first-time writers and directors working within the creative confines of limited budgets. Co-founder and President Peter Baxter joins us to talk about this year’s Slamdance, the groundbreaking films and the innovative new distribution and digital initiatives being launched by Slamdance.
Inspired by Lewis Hyde’s beloved classic The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, GIFTis a richly cinematic film, interweaving character‐driven stories. On North America’s Pacific Northwest Coast, a young Indigenous artist and carver undertakes the elaborate preparations for a potlatch – to make a name for himself by giving everything away. In Rome, Italy, a factory occupied by migrant families is transformed into a living museum, protected by a barricade of art : a model of resistance, and an invaluable gift. In the pirate utopia of Burning Man, a mutant bumblebee art car distributes honey in a post-apocalyptic desert landscape. Meanwhile, in Auckland, New Zealand, artist Lee Mingwei prepares to launch Sonic Blossom – a “transformative gift” of song.GIFT is a tribute to something that can’t be measured or counted, bought or sold. Exploring the parallels between artists’ work and a gift economy, it’s a reflection on the creative process, the reasons we “labour in service of our gifts”, and a celebration of the imagination. Director Robin McKenna joins us to talk about her beautifully meditative film about paying forward human connection and how communities can re-imagine the meaning of wealth and prosperity.
About the filmmaker:Robin McKenna is director, producer and writer of GIFT, a feature-length documentary and crossmedia project inspired by Lewis Hyde’s classic bestseller The Gift. She is currently making Thanadoula, a short animated documentary fairytale about a real-life “death doula”, in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada – and Medicine, a feature-length documentary over a decade in the making, about ayahuasca, medicine and healing, with Dr. Gabor Maté. She directed Genevieve Bujold: ArtVie, a short film tribute to Bujold on 16mm, for the Governor General’s Awards for the Performing Arts in 2018. Robin grew up in Montréal, and began making films with La course destination monde. Her cinematography credits include City of Borders (Berlinale, Hot Docs 2009) and The Take with Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis (AFI Best Documentary 2004).
GIVE ME LIBERTY is based on his personal experience as a medical transport driver and an immigrant, director Kirill Mikhanovsky, with writer Alice Austen, create a raw feature film about the comedy andheartbreak of people in the underprivileged communities living in a struggling American city. Medical transport driver Vic (newcomer Chis Galust) is running late, but it’s not his fault. Roads are closed for a protest, and no one else can shuttle his Russian grandfather and his emigre friends to a funeral. The new route uproots his scheduled clients, particularly Tracy (Lauren “Lolo” Spencer in a breakout performance), a vibrant young woman with ALS. As the day goes from hectic to off-the-rails, their collective ride becomes a hilarious, compassionate and intersectional portrait of American dreams and disenchantment. The characters in GIVE ME LIBERTY are drawn from the people of Milwaukee – they’re magnificently diverse and their struggle to survive is desperate, contradictory, funny and moving. Director Kirill Mahanovsky joins us for a spirited conversation on working with a cast of mostly non-professional actors, drawing upon his own work history for the story behind the film and the importance of making Give Me Liberty in his adopted hometown of Milwaukee.
About the filmmaker:Russian-born Kirill Mikhanovsky grew up in Moscow where his early passion for cinema compelled him to skip school and go to the movie theatre across the street from his home where, often as the only person in the house, he watched countless films. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Mikhanovsky immigrated to Milwaukee, where he had a series of odd jobs, including driving medical transport for people with disabilities, and began making films. After graduating from NYU Film School, Mikhanovsky went on to make films in the US, Brazil, Russia, and South America. A Sundance Alum, his first feature SONHOS DE PEIXEwon the Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival.
“Completely, delightfully unpredictable from scene to scene, ‘Give Me Liberty’ draws you in with its moving performances and blasts of broad comedy.” – Manohla Dargis, THE NEW YORK TIMES
“A wonderfully anarchic dark comedy, which deftly welds its frenetically farcical structure to a humanistic portrait of marginalized communities thrown together.” – David Rooney, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“Lyrical and touching. It’s a journey worth taking.” – Tim Grierson, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL
“Establishes writer-director Kirill Mikhanovsky as a major talent.” – Eric Kohn, INDIEWIRE
Assia Boundaoui’sdeeply personal investigative documentary THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED about the Arab-American neighborhood outside of Chicago where director she grew up. It is a community where most of her neighbors think they have been under surveillance for over a decade. While investigating their experiences, Assia uncovers tens of thousands of pages of FBI documents that prove her hometown was the subject of one of the largest counter-terrorism investigations ever conducted in the U.S. before 9/11, code-named “Operation Vulgar Betrayal.” With unprecedented access, THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED weaves the personal and the political as it follows the filmmaker’s examination of why her community fell under blanket government surveillance. Assia struggles to disrupt the government secrecy shrouding what happened and takes the FBI to federal court to compel them to make the records they collected about her community public. In the process, she confronts long-hidden truths about the FBI’s relationship to her community.THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHEDfollows Assia as she pieces together this secret FBI operation, while grappling with the effects of a lifetime of surveillance on herself and her family. Director / Producer Assia Boundaoui talks about her own determination to hold the FBI and the government accountable, the impact the FBI surveillance has had on her family and community and the bigger question, why?
“Expanding its scope beyond Bridgeview and Islamophobia, it looks at the larger question of how the United States government has targeted minority groups throughout its history.” – Kimber Myers, Los Angeles Times
“Equal parts angry and anxious, Boundaoui’s smart, unsettling documentary functions both as a real-world conspiracy thriller and a personal reflection on the psychological strain of being made to feel an outsider in one’s own home.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“A quietly unsettling first-person doc,The Feeling of Being Watched proceeds as a head-on exploration of the gray area between fear and certainty.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
“This should be required viewing for all Americans, but especially those who think they couldn’t possibly be living in a surveillance state.” – Leah Pickett, Chicago Reader
Tucked in the trees of Oregon’s Mount Hood, an introspective young snowboarder camps alone, anticipating a winter of adventure and self-renewal. In Cambria Matlow’s latest documentary WOODSRIDER a tenacious, 19-year old Sadie Ford operates within the poetic persona of a searching pioneer. Her footsteps track over the town of Government Camp’s mountain landscape, her dog Scooter her only constant companion. Deep among the Douglas firs Sadie snowshoes to build her nestled tentsite, a place she feels more at ease than anywhere with four walls. Riding sessions and house parties in town provide brief breaths of social interaction and connection, but otherwise she chooses to spend time in solitude. Sadie’s simple quest for joy is tempered by melancholy when increasingly warm temperatures on the mountain cause rain to replace snow, and the winter season grows shorter. Striking a youthful yet elegiac tone, WOODSRIDER is a meditative film about identity, home, and the way that human experience echoes that of the natural world. Director Caitland Matlow joins us to talk about the immersive, intimate look into the life of a woman determined to stake out her own path.
“Matlow’s patient, unobtrusive camera and Ford’s magnetism as a subject makes Woodsrider
one of the most intimate docs you’ll see this year. Hauntingly beautiful.” – Walker Macmurdo, Willamette Week
“Stunning camerawork, lovingly composed with visual fluidity. This film will have a lot of appeal to audiences who understand the thrall of the wilderness. It’s a rare capture to see a woman, alone in the elements, strong, independent and totally at ease with her space. The film provokes a lot of thought about our ‘place’ in the natural – and unnatural – world.” – Ashland Independent Film Festival
“Lovely and engrossing, mixing an ethereal distance with a strange intimacy.” – Mark Elijah Rosenberg,
For years, roller-skating rinks have been a constant for African-American communities across the U.S., serving as a meeting ground, a place to have fun and an incubator of iconic hip-hop talents like Queen Latifah and N.W.A. As America’s last standing roller rinks are threatened with closure, a community joins forces in a racially charged environment to save the underground African-American subculture of roller skating, which has been overlooked by the mainstream for generations – yet has given rise to some of the world’s greatest musical talents. From executive producer John Legend and first-time directors Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown, the documentary UNITED SKATES highlights the dynamic world of roller skating, showcasing African-American rinks and skaters across the country as they fight to keep the culture alive and skate their hearts out. The film features interviews with hip-hop legends like Salt-N-Pepa, Coolio, Vin Rock of Naughty by Nature and World Class Wreckin’ Cru. UNITED SKATES spotlights three skaters fighting for their community: L.A. native Phelicia, a single mom who grew up in skates and hopes to keep skating alive for her children; North Carolinian Reggie, who lives hours from any rink that offers a night for black skaters and vows to launch his own; and Buddy Love, the owner of Chicago-based Rich City Skate, who struggles to keep his rink open, despite financial pressure. Co-directors Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler stop by to talk about their infectious and insightful look at a facet of African-American life in danger of fading away.
“This kaleidoscopically vibrant, essential-viewing survey plunges audiences into a dazzling underground scene, celebrating the endangered art form it finds there.” – Peter Debruge, Variety
“This is a passion project in the best sense of the word, a movie in which the ingenuity and dedication of the filmmakers illuminate the same qualities in their subjects.” – Two Bugbee, New York Times
“…[an] exceedingly entertaining and genuinely revealing look into a roller-skating subculture that I frankly knew next to nothing about.” – Daniel Nava, Chicago Cinema Circuit
“This is a film that paints a humanizing portrait of an endangered form of expression, risked at the hands of the micro-racism and economic tribulations faced by the African-American community.” – Laura Birnbaum, Film Inquiry
Up a dirt road, nestled in the hills of Southern California lies Spiral Farm, a vibrant and colorful intentional community inspired by the communes of the late 60’s. Its eclectic inhabitants look out for each other, as they work side by side on this completely self sustaining permaculture farm. 17 year-old Anahita (Piper De Palma), has lived on Spiral Farm for as long as she can remember and dreams of one day leaving the safety of Spiral and pursuing a career as a dancer. However, whenever she makes these plans she is always deterred by the thought of leaving Ocean, her eight year old nephew who she cares for and shares a deep bond with. Stifled by her responsibilities to her family and the commune, Anahita has developed what her mother (Amanda Plummer) calls a “bashfulness” when it comes to sexuality. When her mother’s old flame, Maurizio (Cosimo Fusco) arrives for an unexpected visit, he brings along his teenage son, Theo (Teo Halm). Anahita is immediately drawn to him, confused by her newfound feelings. When Theo discovers her passion for dance he encourages her to journey into the city for an audition. Away from the confines of the communes, Anahita discovers that although she lacks the technical skills to be a professional dancer, she may still be able to leave Spiral by going to college in the city changing the course of her life. But will Anahita, who has been so dedicated to others chose to live for herself? Director and writer Alex Tibaldi joins us to talk about his feature film debut and his intimate, moving character study of women in transition, searching for meaningful connections.
BEHIND THE BULLET is the directorial debut from author and activist, Heidi Yewman. When her former basketball coach and teacher, Dave Sanders was killed in the Columbine High School massacre along with 12 students, she began profiling the lives of those altered by the impact of gun violence. She is a tireless advocate for gun safety, sitting on the boards of The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence,Women Donors Network,Stop our Shootings, and Trauma Intervention Program of Portland, OR. In BEHIND THE BULLET will make it’s world debut as a documentary competition selection at the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival, Yewman chronicles anin-depth look at four individuals who have pulled the trigger and the profound impact it’s had on their lives. Every year, almost 40,000 people are shot and killed in America. Each shooting devastates and forever changes the victim’s family and friends. BEHIND THE BULLET explores a side of gun violence that’s rarely talked about – the impact a shooting has on the shooter. Four individuals share how the pull of a trigger, changed them emotionally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually. They describe the conflicting emotions and moral injury that comes after a self-defense, accidental, or unintentional shooting, offering a new and unbiased perspective on gun violence. Director Heidi Yewman joins us to talk about the devastating impacts that guns and the profound impact they have had on four people’s lives.
“BEHIND THE BULLET is a captivating and honest look at what is going on in our country when it comes to gun control.It looks at all sides of the issue that sometimes the media does not discuss or cover.This is a must see film in our current climate.” — Peter Hammond, Deadline
“Behind The Bullet is just WOW – an amazing insight into what we are dealing with in the U.S.It’s a refreshing insight and a story that needs to be told.”— Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter
This Teacher, Actor Kevin Kane (Director Mark Jackson)
THIS TEACHER follows a French Muslim woman (Cesar-winner Hafsia Herzi) as she travels to New York City to visit her childhood best friend from the rough neighborhoods outside of Paris. When the reunion proves disastrous, Hafsia steals her friend’s credit card and identity, and disappears to a remote cabin upstate. Deep in the woods and alone for the first time in her life, she experiences a divine revelation of an existence without borders. But when she discovers that she’s not alone on the property, Hafsia’s sojourn in nature gradually descends into a terrifying study of the intolerance and suspicion she encounters and reflects back to an Islamophobic America. Written and directed by Mark Jackson featuring a score composed from the Grammy nominated Dave Eggar, the film stars: Cesar-winner Hafsia Herzi (The Secret of theGrain) Sarah Kazemy (Circumstance) Lucy Walters (Power), Kevin Kane (Inside Amy Schumer), and Lev Gorn (The Americans). Jackson’s previous films have won 17 awards including an Independent Spirit Award and a Gotham Nomination. Jackson is also a Sundance, Cinereach and Skywalker Sound Fellow. Actor Kevin Kane joins us for a conversation on THIS TEACHER’S closing night screening at the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival, intolerance and not being afraid to love.
OUT IN THE RING looks at the lives of LGBTQ professional wrestlers past and present, and the history of LGBTQ representation in professional wrestling, told through a combination of archival footage and interviews with out performers, wrestling journalists & historians, friends and allies. The crowdfunding campaign at GoGetFunding will help support the post production of the film including editing, color correction, sound mixing, score and legal expenses. The campaign includes perks and producer credit opportunities, and from wrestler Eat and Greets, special one of a kind memorabilia, wrestling \tickets and much more! People will be delighted by the incredibly talented performers and experts who speak about this topic and showcase their amazing in ring skills. Alongside this is the incredibly important issues around LGBTQ representation, visibility, freedom and change. Director Ryan Bruce Levey stops by to talk about the history of pro wrestling and LGBTQ performers and promoters as well as the steep challenging finding money to finish a documentary project.