These films came back by popular demand for “Best of the Fest” on Monday, June 25th.
Audience Award for Best Feature
A trash collector pulls to the side of the road, picks up a can and dumps its contents into the back of his truck as thousands watch, captivated. TRASH DANCE documents the creation of a beautiful dance piece inspired by the work of often unnoticed public servants – sanitation workers. Audiences will fall in love with the characters of this film, and cheer them on as they give the performance of their lives.
Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert
Audience Award Winner for Best Short
Sheri “Sparkle” Williams has been a star dancer with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company for nearly 40 years – a track record virtually unheard of in the professional dance community. When the powerhouse dancer suffers her first serious injury, she must work to recover in time for a triumphant return to the stage at the age of 49.
THE WAITING ROOM
The complexity of the nation’s public health care system is etched in intimate detail in this poignant vérité portrait of an American public hospital and the community of patients and caregivers that intersect with it. The ER waiting room in Oakland’s Highland Hospital serves as the backdrop to an encounter with a diverse community of largely uninsured patients – a young victim of gun violence, small business owners, international asylum seekers – alongside an indefatigable staff charged with caring for them. Although seemingly about one hospital, THE WAITING ROOM serves as a microcosm for the national health care landscape marked by historic economic and political dysfunction.
OMA & BELLA
Best friends Bella and Regina share an apartment in Berlin, a passion for homespun Eastern European cooking and an extraordinary life history. Though Holocaust memories are never distant, their days are busy with gossip-filled visits to the hair salon, goofy soap operas, spirited family gatherings and – above all – the balm of lovingly-prepared dishes remembered from a fading era. L’Chaim meets guten Appetit in a nuanced celebration of indomitable camaraderie and remarkable, nurturing lives.
PLIMPTON! STARRING GEORGE PLIMPTON AS HIMSELF
Tom Bean, Luke Poling
Prominent writer, editor, amateur sportsman and friend to some of the world’s most powerful people, the late George Plimpton lived a life of dreams. Known for his willingness to try almost anything in the name of journalism, Plimpton has played quarterback for the Detroit Lions, acted in films alongside John Wayne and Tom Hanks, co-founded The Paris Review, played triangle for the New York Philharmonic and performed in a circus flying trapeze act. PLIMPTON! gives an unprecedented look into the world of this most fascinating Renaissance man.
Scott Hamilton Kennedy
FAME HIGH documents the lives of four talented high school students (an actress, a dancer, a pianist and a songwriter) struggling to gain fame, credibility and a diploma from Los Angeles’ premiere performing arts high school. Full of passionate performances and the intimate moments of teenage life, this film is sure to inspire and entertain audiences.
SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE
Twice-divorced 60-something Steven lives a quiet life by himself in San Francisco and has a “thing” for Asian women. When he meets 30-year-old Chinese national Sandy online, love blossoms quickly over the Internet. With plans to marry, Steven brings Sandy over from China, but the fantasies both have about each other turn out to be far from reality. With filmmaker Debbie Lum caught in the middle as an impromptu language translator between the two, SEEKING ASIAN FEMALE offers a humorous take on modern romance and the challenges of keeping any relationship together.
Mild-mannered Don McLeroy is a dentist, an evangelical Christian and an avowed Young Earth Creationist. He was also the Chairman of the Texas State Board of Education. Once every decade, the 15 members of the Board meet to revise the textbook standards for five million schoolchildren. THE REVISIONARIES presents a rare behind-the-scenes look at the often fierce battle over what material is being taught in history and science books that will influence an entire generation of American children.
ANN RICHARDS’ TEXAS
Keith Patterson, Jack Lofton
Writers Guild of America East Award Winner
In a state known for outsized political personalities, a silver-haired lady from Austin became one of the biggest and boldest by speaking her mind and sticking to her guns. The high-energy ANN RICHARDS’ TEXAS celebrates her rise in the Democratic Party, her improbable turn as governor and her legacy as a feisty liberal icon. Bigwigs and big stars alike reflect on her unique appeal among an electorate that later embraced George W. Bush and Rick Perry.
ESCAPE FIRE: THE FIGHT TO RESCUE AMERICAN
React to Film Award Winner
Matthew Heineman, Susan Froemke
What went wrong with America’s healthcare system, and how can it be fixed? In ESCAPE FIRE, filmmakers Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke examine the nuts and bolts of the current battle raging over a healthcare system that is seemingly broken. Drawing from harrowing personal stories and the ongoing efforts of those trying to make a positive difference, this hard-hitting film focuses on finding workable solutions.
Rachel Grady, Heidi Ewing
Once it may have been music, manufacturing or automobiles that defined Detroit but now, through the eyes of the makers of JESUS CAMP, it is its near dissolution and the scrappy residents fighting to keep it alive. While we meet numerous remarkable characters striving to make ends meet and to make sense of their city teetering on the brink of collapse, it is Detroit itself that emerges as its central and most evocative character. The intricate rhythms of desolation, survival and rebirth make DETROPIA a worthy heir of one of the founding glories of the documentary cinema – the city symphony.
ONLY THE YOUNG preceded by KINGS POINT
Jason Tippet, Elizabeth Mims
Sterling US and Sterling Short Award Winner
For three teens in the depressed suburb of Santa Clarita, California, the world is not so much a foreclosed wasteland of dry pools and shuttered businesses, but a post-apocalyptic playground where they can escape from the ruins of broken homes and explore different paths to maturity, independence and romance. Directors Tippet and Mims draw a chaste love triangle with cinematic tenderness, finding unexpected beauty in arcs of awkwardness, irreverence, rebellion, angst, joy and nascent wisdom.
Welcome to Kings Point, a retirement community located just outside of West Palm Beach, Florida. Inhabited by numerous transplants from New York who were lured by the promise of sunshine and palm trees, Kings Point is a place where retirees have begun a new part of their lives, for some the final chapter. This poignant film closely follows six longtime residents who share their stories of the challenges of starting over in a place where new bonds are formed for some, while others can never bring themselves to get too close.
¡VIVAN LAS ANTIPODAS!
Cinematic Vision Award Winner
Imagine a camera able to pierce the planet and expose the opposite ends of the earth that lie diametrically opposed to one another. Acclaimed filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky reveals the sheer kinetic and visual splendor of the corners of our planet when he explores four pairs of dry-land antipodes: Argentina and downtown Shanghai, Lake Baikal in Russia and Patagonia in Chile, the active volcano Kilauea in Hawaii and the village of Kubu in Botswana, and Miraflores, Spain and the beach at Castle Point, New Zealand. In the end, it is not the differences, but the uncanny similarities that are most striking.
PLANET OF SNAIL
Sterling World Award Winner
The poetry of the cinema merges fantastically with the poetry of touch, taste and smell when filmmaker Seung-Jun Yi encounters the deaf and blind South Korean poet Young-Chan. Through visually striking imagery and intimate detail, we see what it takes to forge a life of creative productivity and erotic happiness for a remarkable figure unwilling to accept as limitations the world of sight and sound from which he is isolated.
THE HOUSE I LIVE IN
React to Film Award Winner
America’s “war on drugs” officially began 40 years ago under the leadership of then President Richard Nixon. Over the course of four decades, America’s drug problem has only become worse. What went wrong? Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki (WHY WE FIGHT) offers a sobering comprehensive view of contemporary drug culture and examines the troubling realities of a broken system whose very existence, he argues, is making the problem worse rather than better.
My name is Caleb Slain. I’ve been creating vibrant worlds and stories since I was a kid. I love to watch GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS over and over, but don’t know why. I don’t wear colors. I was born into poverty, and have eight siblings from the same two parents (I’m #3). My oldest brother is the severest form of autism, and the environment I grew up in embodied a colorful variety of contradictions (creativity and sociopathy are both attributed to similar external factors). I’m a closet actor. I just turned 22, and had a midlife crisis. All downhill from here.
What inspired this film? How did you find your subjects?
Karl Koelling, our producer, had met Ed and was floored by the depth and complexity of his stories. After two years of developing the film with various groups (including a short doc that was filmed and canned altogether), he asked me to join the team and direct/edit the film. I was only 20, and it was the first time a producer had hired me to direct something non-commercial.
What were some of the biggest challenges/surprises?
Starting from the day I was officially brought on to direct, we had precisely 29 days until our delivery deadline (zoinks!), which essentially meant it would be impossible to make something good. It was round-the-clock work for the entire month, involving several 24+ hour editing stints with no breaks. Pure insanity, but we wanted the best film possible.
What was your VERY FIRST film?
My first real “film” was called THE LEGEND OF MR. MAN. A 20-minute saga in live action with puppeteered figurines. It’s just as cool as it sounds. It was about a figurine who needed money to buy a motorcycle, and used five different forms of psychological manipulation on five increasing complicated toys to get money from them. I think I was 15. That’s kind of embarrassing.
What is your proudest professional moment?
When I was 19, I wrote and directed an ambitious short film called THE LOST & FOUND SHOP. It was a massive undertaking of fantasy proportions, and at one point there were over 50 people on set and nearly $500,000 worth of camera/lighting equipment…all volunteer and loaned for free, just because people believed in the story. I was just a poor kid from the ghetto with no car, no money, and nothing but a script, and that moment showed me how powerful an idea could be.
What other projects are in the pipeline?
My second cinematic documentary JUGGLE & CUT is finishing its sound mix and will hit the festival circuit this fall. Similarly, I wrote/directed a traumatic comedy called FREE PIE, which is in the final stages of color correction, and premiering in a few weeks. Presently I’m work with a film collective in Grand Rapids, MI, and story consulting on our first group feature shooting this fall. The summer will see the launch of a creative writing app I developed called Flowstate, which operates unlike anything yet seen.
Why did you become a filmmaker?
I couldn’t find anything harder to do.
What are some of your creative influences?
I’m sure there are many, but I try not to reflect on it. PTA and Steve Jobs are probably the biggest. For this film, we drew a lot of inspiration from the Sundance docINTO GREAT SILENCE, and the IMAX doc BABIES. A bizarre mix.
Did you go to film school?
I went to a small film school in Grand Rapids for a semester, but had to drop out on account of having no money.
What do you shoot on?
RED One and RED Epic. I’ve been working on RED for a few years, and have a strong understanding of its capabilities and limitations. The Epic is brilliant for doc work.
What has been the most unexpected thing to happen since taking the film on the festival circuit?
Every moment has been unexpected, but last week we received a “Request for Submission” for the Telluride Film Festival. I screamed. Very loud.
2012 marks our tenth edition of the Festival. Why did you want to screen your film at Silverdocs?
Not only have I heard great things about the festival, but everything I’ve read emphasizes the general level of respect and appreciation given to all documentaries screening at Silverdocs. We are excited to be there for the first time, and build a deeper understanding of what Silverdocs is all about.
How old are you in your head?
Dorian Gray is a kindred spirit.