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Quirky “Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person” Engages but Still Needs Something More

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Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person (Ariane Louis-Seize, 2023) 3 out of 5 stars A film titled Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person with a runtime of a little over 90 minutes offers a lot of condensed narrative promise. French director Ariane Louis-Seize (making her feature debut) tackles sensitive topics like depression and suicide while […]

The post Quirky “Humanist Vampire Seeking Consenting Suicidal Person” Engages but Still Needs Something More first appeared on Film Festival Today.

Tv round-up

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We Were the Lucky Ones tells the story of the Kurc family during the second world war. Until it began they lived in the Polish city of Radom, but following Hitler’s invasion some went into hiding, some were taken to concentration camps and others flew to distant corners of the world. The score is jointly credited to Rachel Portman and Jon Ehrlich with no indication of the division of labour – but there is no doubting who was responsible for the main theme, which is nothing short of magnificent.

Few can write a tune like Portman and this one is a seemingly effortless mixture of effervescence and tragedy – such a difficult mixture to pull off, I imagine its creation was in fact anything but effortless. It is genuinely exceptional, and yes it sounds like various creations from the past works of the composer but that’s the hallmark of a truly distinct and individual voice. The score’s highlights are generally when it appears but elsewhere there are scondary themes, typically for solo piano, and typically very touching and with Portman’s trademark deft touch. Inevitably there are darker moments too which provide the album with a nice balance which help to sustain its long run time. Highly recommended.

Even though Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem was necessarily dumbed down somewhat for its tv adaptation (as wonderful as it is, it does occasionally read more like a physics textbook) it was still made in a way that could have supported a great score. The direct allegory of the novel to Chinese social issues is lost in translation to the screen as the setting of the modern-day segments are shifted to allow more western characters, but there’s still stuff going on under the surface of the story that would have allowed a smart and deep score which could have combined these personal moments with the broad science fiction scope of the underlying narrative.

Unfortunately it didn’t get that. Instead Ramin Djawadi’s score is entirely surface-level, missing all the opportunities the project provided to him (whether this is his fault or the showrunners’, of course I have no idea). The main title piece is the highlight, a jittery and (by design) disorientating little piece with rhythmic cells being constructed then deconstructed over its brief run time. Sadly the rest of the score is just standard modern thriller material, an array of electronically-realised industrial sounds generally drowning out the orchestra with nary a tune in sight. Avoiding any attempt to create any emotional bonds between the characters (or between them and the audience) it’s just musical wallpaper, even the big sci-fi moments reduced in scope by the music. It’s such a dull album, and within the show feels like a big missed opportunity.

Djawadi fares a little (but only a little) better in his other big show released at the same time, Fallout, based on the post-apocalyptic video game series. While it’s not The Last Of Us by any means, I found it to be a reasonably entertaining show. Again the opportunity was there for a distinctive score and again it wasn’t really taken – the big mecha-warrior types, the cowboy/ghoul, the plucky young heroine, the mystery of the creation and leadership of the underground community – easy to see how these elements could have been given their own sounds with some overarching material linking everything together.

Instead it is mostly standard modern thriller material again, a bit grittier and more electronic than 3 Body Problem, but importantly with more of a sense of momen

The Best Shorts Competition Announces Latest Winners! March 2024

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:

Rick Prickett, Competition Director

858-779-9544

BestShorts.net

Info@BestShorts.net

The Best Shorts Competition Announces Latest Winners!

La Jolla, CA, April 2024 – The Best Shorts Competition is proud to announce the latest winners. The Best Shorts Competition puts filmmakers first and provides a direct opportunity for recognition and publicity for high quality productions. It is international in scope and has granted awards to producers in Australia, Bahrain, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Cuba, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Malta, Martinique, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Mauritius, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Taiwan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and the United States.

~ Best of Show ~  Paul Hendy – The Choice

Paul Hendy (United Kingdom), The Choice, Film Short – Paul Hendy’s astute direction brings depth to “The Choice,” a haunting psychological drama about a famous TV personality whose life unravels when confronted by a mysterious visitor. Rita Simons (EastEnders, The Krays) delivers a powerful performance, while BAFTA-nominee Alex Macqueen’s portrayal of pure evil adds chilling depth. The film keeps audiences guessing until the end, making it a compelling and relevant story that explores themes of favoritism, identity, and the consequences of our choices. BAFTA-winner Whitnall’s compelling script, coupled with Hendy’s nuanced direction, creates a captivating narrative that lingers long after the credits roll.

 

 

~ Outstanding Achievement ~ Marko Bosanac – New Idea

 

Marko Bosanac (Serbia), New Idea, Animation – A whimsical animated short that dives into the inner workings of creativity. Pensilio, Loopito, and Lensio, embodying creativity, research, and production, embark on a quest for a new idea. Their journey is fraught with obstacles mirroring the creative process – from distractions to self-doubt. The twist comes as the adventure unfolds within a teenage girl’s mind, adding layers to the narrative. With utterly charming characters, brilliant animation and universal themes, “New Idea” is a delightful exploration of creativity’s complexities, leaving audiences inspired and uplifted.

 

~ Award of Excellence Special Mention ~

Jaclyn Lehrer (USA), Johnny Johnny, Film Short – A darkly comedic short follows a homeless comedian seeking revenge on those he deems unfunny. It delves into friendship and resilience in a society overlooking those in need. Lehrer’s deft direction blends humor with shocking twists, challenging stereotypes. Engaging performances by Sencere Tucker and Alexandria Sanders add dep

SIFF 2024 Lineup is Live

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siff.jpg

SIFF announces lineup, tributes & premieres slated for the

50th Seattle International Film Festival, returning May 9-19

 

261 films with 18 World, 26 North American, and 14 U.S. Premieres make up the lineup for the Festival’s 50th anniversary, screening at venues across Seattle, including SIFF’s newly opened

SIFF Cinema Downtown

 

SEATTLE – SIFF announced today the lineup of films included in the 50th Seattle International Film Festival, to be held May 9–19 at venues across Seattle and followed by a week of select virtual screenings on the SIFF Channel May 20–27. The Festival will screen 261 films representing 84 countries/regions, including 92 features, 47 documentaries, five archival features, two special tributes, two secret screenings, and 115 short films.

 

In addition to the full lineup, SIFF announced today that Seattle native and Emmy®, Golden Globe®, SAG Award®, and Critics Choice Award-winning actress Jean Smart will be awarded The Hollywood Reporter’s Trailblazer Award for her contributions to storytelling on film, television, and the stage. The event will feature a screening of an episode from the new season of the Max Original comedy series Hacks, followed by the Trailblazer trophy presentation and a conversation between Smart and THR Contributing Editor Stacey Wilson Hunt. 

 

The Festival will open with Josh Margolin’s action comedy Thelma from Magnolia Pictures, which will screen at The Paramount Theatre during the Festival's Opening Night on May 9. The film will be followed by a Q&A with Writer & Director Josh Margolin, lead actress June Squibb, and producers Zoë Worth and Chris Kaye. Following the Q&A, there will be an after-party onstage and outside on Ninth Ave.

 

SIFF will honor June Squibb with the 2024 Golden Space Needle Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cinema for the unforgettable work she’s presented throughout the span of her career. The Oscar-nominated actress and lead of the Festival’s Opening Night film,

Thelma, will be presented the award at a special Tribute Event on May 11 at SIFF Cinema Downtown with a conversation moderated by Variety’s Jenelle Riley. Prior to the event, there will be an Honoree Brunch with Squibb at Palace Kitchen.

 

Closing the Festival is Greg Kwedar’s Sing Sing from A24, which will screen on May 18 at SIFF Cinema Downtown. Director and co-writer Greg Kwedar will be in attendance and participate in a Q&A after the screening along with members of the film’s ensemble cast, who will receive a Golden Space Needle Award for excellence in Ensemble Acting. A Closing Night party will follow at the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI).

 

Additional highlights showing throughout the Festival include Focus Features’ Sundance award-winner Dìdi (

弟弟), a directorial debut from Oscar® nominee Sean Wang (SIFF 2023 Grand Jury winner for Live Action short); Neon’s Babes written by and starring Ilana Glazer and directed by debut helmer Pamela Adlon; IFC’s stirring and emotional Ghostlight which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival; Harmony Korine’s latest boundary-pushing work AGGRO DR1FT; a new 4K restoration of Wim Wenders’ iconic Wings of Desire, in celebration of the 70th anniversary of German Films; and an exciting new slate of cINeDIGENOUS films, including the world premiere of Molokaʻi Bound, directed by Alika Tengan (Kanaka Maoli).

 

A variety of film and event passes are on sale now. Ticke

Release Rundown: Docs on Indigo Girls, Synanon, and Girls State Among Sundance Titles Reaching Wider Audiences in April

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2023 Sundance Film Festival documentary “Indigo Girls: It’s Only Life After All” brings the beloved musical duo to the big screen this April.

By Lucy Spicer

Have you heard? Sundance Institute recently announced the dates of the 2025 Sundance Film Festival. We’re excited to do it all over again, but we’ve got plenty of new Sundance-supported releases to tide us over in the meantime. 

With four Festival documentaries reaching wider audiences this month, nonfiction fans in particular have a lot to look forward to. From the 2023 Festival come documentaries about folk rock duo Indigo Girls and a quest for a lost video rental archive. Nonfiction offerings from the 2024 Fest include an episodic series about the Synanon cult and a much-anticipated counterpart to the award-winning Boys State doc from 2020. Rounding out the list are two fun fiction features also from the 2024 Festival — one about human foibles in quarantine and another about sasquatch foibles in the wilderness.

The Synanon Fix — Sundance Film Festival veteran Rory Kennedy (Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, Downfall: The Case Against Boeing) returned to the 2024 Festival with an episodic series that documents the rise and fall of Synanon from the point of view of individuals who had been involved in the movement. Founded in 1958 as a radical, community-focused drug rehabilitation center, Synanon would gradually become a religious cult in the hands of charismatic founder Charles “Chuck” Dederich. Previously unseen archival footage and candid interviews with former Synanon members come together to demonstrate how people with the best of intentions can be isolated onto a violent path. Making its broadcast premiere on HBO April 1.

Girls State — In 2020, filmmakers Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss took home the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival for their film Boys State. The Emmy Award–winning doc chronicled a weeklong Boys State session in Texas, where thousands of teenage boys came together to participate in a government simulation exercise. McBaine and Moss brought an eagerly awaited counterpart film to the 2024 Festival with Girls State. Focusing on the teenage participants at a Girls State session in Missouri, the documentary follows the girls as they run for office, preside over a court case, and discover the differences between their own program and the Missouri Boys State session that is taking place simultaneously. Streaming on Apple TV+ April 5.

Kim’s Video — In 1987, Yongman Kim started running a video and music rental business out of his dry-cleaning storefront in New York City. For 20 years, Kim’s Video and Music was the place to go to rent rare films. In 2008, Kim closed the business and gave his video collection away to a small town in Italy to be archived. The collection disappeared from view. In a 2023 Sundance Film Festival documentary that plays like a heist film, co-directors David Redmon and Ashley Sabin seek to track down and li

Inside the Archives: It’s Lights, Curtains, Action When Sundance Films Become Stage Productions

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By Jen Scott

It’s time to unwrap those noisy candies and put your phone on silent because it’s time for the show to begin! March 27 marks the annual observance of “World Theatre Day,” a day to celebrate the value and importance of theater around the world. So let’s celebrate this art form by taking a look at Sundance films that have been adapted to stage productions over the decades.

The Official Entry Form for Hairspray for the 1988 United States Film Festival

Hairspray (1988)

There are a handful of works that have traveled down the movie-to-stage-musical-to-movie-musical pipeline, the most recent of which is Mean Girls. John Waters’ Hairspray is one of those films and its stage adaptation has become a fan favorite of the modern musical scene. The original film version of Hairspray was part of the Dramatic Competition of the 1988 United States Film Festival. Starring Ricki Lake as the upbeat and optimistic Tracy Turnblad, this music-filled comedy is set in Baltimore in 1962 and centers around Tracy’s attempt to integrate the television dance program The Corny Collins Show.

The quirky characters, eye-catching costumes and set design, and musically centered story lended itself perfectly for the stage. Hairspray was adapted in 2002 with music by Marc Shaiman. It was met with great success, going on to win eight Tony Awards (including Best Musical), completing a seven year Broadway run, multiple national tours, and a West End production. 

It was then adapted into a musical film in 2007 with a star-studded cast, including Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, and Zac Efron (all three of whom have acted in Sundance films!). 

Fun fact: Jerry Stiller played Wilbur Turnblad, Tracy’s goofy and lovable father, in the original film and made a cameo in the musical film as Mr. Pinky, the dress shop owner.

Julian Jarrold, Joel Edgerton, and Chiwetel Ejiofor onstage at the Kinky Boots Premiere. Photo by Clayton Chase.

Kinky Boots (2006)

Julian Jarrold’s Kinky Boots played Salt Lake City Opening Night at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. This film was based on a true story of Charlie, a struggling shoe factory owner who becomes unlikely allies with Lola, a drag queen. They begin making custom footwear for drag queens to save his business. The film stars Joel Edgerton and Chiwetel Ejiofor, the latter who received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. Because of this film’s popularity, it was screened during the 2016 Sundance Institute Summer Film Series, 10 years after its premiere at the Festival.

This movie was adapted into a stage musical which debuted on Broadway in April 2013. Cyndi Lauper composed the songs with Billy Porter starring as Lola. Kinky Boots was a hit with audiences and the musical went on to win six Tony Awards.

The cast and crew of "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" at the 2001 Awards Ceremony. Photo by Trisha Empey

Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

To add a little twist to this list, the

Interview | Fallen: The Search of A Broken Angel

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Movie Name – Fallen: The Search of A Broken Angel Director – Alex Kruz

Hello Alex! Welcome to SIFF.

 

1.What was your initial thought when you made the movie?

Originally this was a whole other movie where there was no romance or love interest. It was made without any real goal at the end other than making it. We all have experiences outside of our daily routine we can classify as extrasensory – be they dreams, premonitions, communication with loved ones who have passed on, near death experiences. These are all very normal and accepted experiences now, but before these were seen by the scientific establishment as craziness. In order to know thy self, one often has to go past the known and accepted and into the unknown. My initial thought with this film was as an exploration of that unknown through the Sam character leading him to find a guru in Arizona and finding out what his connection to those deities was, which we were doing while filming the movie. It still retains a bit of that hero’s journey flare, let’s get it done, and cross that bridge when we get to it feeling. Never did I think it would become what it became or be accepted by festivals, or accepted for distribution.

 

2.What motivated you to create this movie?

This movie is this movie because I asked Ewa to help me with the film, and our personal experiences fed into what we had shot already naturally, well that and the original idea included a guru in Sedona, who we later found out wanted to use the project as a springboard for his own aggrandizement, and to expand his donations and power base. As Charlie Chaplin once said “You need Power, only when you want to do something Harmful, Otherwise Love is Enough to get everything done”, so I killed that project and that film and we made this one which I really love as it has parts of both of us. I hadn’t touched anything in the cinema for 6 years and I felt comfortable with Ewa helping me as we have a unique connection. As we worked, I could see our quantum entanglement at play as she never worked on a film before but I noticed it was a very different experience like a telepathic communion where she automatically knew what to do and how to do it. We didn’t really speak as we worked, it sometimes caught people by surprise that we never made a film together before. This is where we noticed our story was more interesting than the original one.  I also roped in Alex Lora Cercos, whom I have known for about 11 years, and we have worked on a few projects together similar to this one (no budget ? Al was finishing up his first international feature “Unicorns”, which premiered in theaters internationally mid 2023 and his recent short “The Masterpiece” which won the Grand Jury Award at Sundance 2024, so he wasn’t able to jump on a plane with me to Arizona, but he was super helpful with equipment recommendations, a few caveats given my run and gun style, and genuinely being a godfather for the project. We joke that we give each other associate producer credit and special thanks on all of our projects. He really is a one of a kind in this industry. 

3.Did you encounter any creative challenges while making this movie?

I  wouldn’t call them creative challenges, I would call them creative opportunities – as I didn’t have any one in my network available to help me with post production it became a matter of teaching an old dog new

10 To See on Shorts TV

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For the last two decades, Shorts TV has been at the forefront of screening the best of shorts to audiences across the globe. Their online library includes over 13,000 international titles from all genres, including animation, comedy, horror, drama, documentary and thriller. They have showcased Oscar-nominated projects for over 15 years. Here’s our selection of must-watch films from Shorts TV, some of which have also screened at Aesthetica Short Film Festival.

Lightning | Christina Isoli, 2018

A feel-good romance story about a quirky musician named Sean, who moves to London and crosses paths with Summer at a traffic light. Summer, a deaf girl who works in a café, is dreaming of becoming a pilot. Later on, she discovers that Sean has a secret as their friendship evolves.

Dela | Bernard Attal, 2018

Bernard Attal’s short centres around Dela, a young girl who lives with her father on the magical island of Itaparica in Brazil’s Bay of All Saints. She does not understand why all the other kids at school keep on making fun of her name and her hair, but she is on a journey to sort it out. Dela screened at Aesthetica 2020.

Steve | Rupert Friend, 2010

British actor Rupert Friend’s short, Steve is an award-winning drama starring Colin Firth and Keira Knightley We witness a couple’s strained relationship getting interrupted by their neighbour. Soon we find out that his amiable demeanor hides his true intentions.

Bear Story | Gabriel Osorio Vargas, 2014

A humble fable for all generations, Gabriel Osorio Vargas’ Bear Story is an Academy Award-winning animation, inspired by the director’s own grandfather. The short centres around a lonesome bear who tells about his life with the help of a mechanical diorama. It is the first Chilean animation to be nominated for or win an Oscar.

Colonies Under The Sea | Armel Ruy, 2019

Colonies Under The Sea is a visually stunning and fascinating documentary. A group of divers explores shipwrecks in the heart of the Bahamas archipelago. They are on a mission to discover unknown species. The film reveals how forgotten shipwrecks have been colonised by sea creatures, transforming debris into an oasis teeming with life.

“Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Sin Nombre” Among Films With March Anniversaries

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Édgar Flores stars in Cary Joji Fukunaga’s feature debut, “Sin nombre,” which won two awards at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

By Lucy Spicer

Can you believe it’s been 30 years since audiences across the country first witnessed the iconic kissing-in-the-rain scene from Four Weddings and a Funeral? The BAFTA-winning film premiered at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival before releasing to wider audiences in March of that same year, and rom-coms would never be the same again.

A fascinating and diverse array of Sundance-supported films celebrate birthdays this month, including the five titles below. In addition to the film that launched Hugh Grant, the selection includes a nonfiction dive into the modeling industry of the ’90s, a drug-fueled frenzy starring Jason Schwartzman and Brittany Murphy, an award-winning feature debut about a gang member on the run, and a documentary that follows the 1991 testimony of Anita Hill.

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) — In the film that made him a household name in the rom-com genre, Hugh Grant plays Charles, a guy with plenty of approachable charm, a quirky friend group, and a long list of ex-girlfriends. And while Charles can’t seem to commit to a relationship, everyone around him appears to be doing the opposite, filling up Charles’ weekends with wedding invitations. When he meets a glamorous — but elusive — American named Carrie (Andie MacDowell) at one of these weddings, a conflicted Charles starts to reconsider his habit of serial monogamy. Directed by Mike Newell with an Oscar-nominated script from Richard Curtis, this unexpected hit set a record for highest-grossing British film upon its release. Check here for viewing options.

Courtesy of Film Manufacturers Inc.

Beautopia (1999) — The term “supermodel” blew up in the 1990s, when names like Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer, and Naomi Campbell became as well-known as the fashion designers they modeled for. Suddenly, teenage girls dreamed of becoming models rather than movie stars. Filmmaker Katharina Otto-Bernstein examines this phenomenon in her documentary Beautopia, which premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. Otto-Bernstein’s film follows four young hopefuls across the globe as they navigate the cutthroat world of modeling with big hopes and little guidance. Check here for viewing options.

Spun (2003) — Jonas Åkerlund brings all the frenetic energy of his experience directing music videos to his darkly comic feature-film debut, which premiered in the Midnight section at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. College dropout Ross (Jason Schwartzman) buys methamphetamine from Spider Mike (Sundance regular John Leguizamo), through whom Ross meets Nikki (Brittany Murphy). Nikki introduces Ross to her boyfriend, The Cook (Mickey Rourke), who has a meth lab in a motel room and is interested in employing Ross as a driver. Co-writers William De Los Santos and Creighton Vero took inspiration from De Los Santos’ short time exploring the drug subculture in Eugene, Oregon, to write the film’s screenplay. Check here for viewin

John Wilson Special Guest 2024 for the 55th edition of the Visions du Réel Festival (12 – 21 April)

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Visions du Réel is delighted to announce that the Special Guest for the 55th edition of the Festival (12 – 21 April) will be American filmmaker John Wilson. He is mainly known for his documentary series How To with John Wilson, nominated for the 2022 Primetime Emmy Awards, in which he explores the eccentricities of daily life through a succession of quirky and hilarious comic detours. To accompany a selection of episodes from his series and earlier works presented during the Festival, John Wilson will take part in a public discussion of his work (Thursday, 18 April) as well as curate a carte blanche.

John Wilson has been working in American television for a decade, alternating between commissions and more personal projects, all with his trademark offbeat approach. His landmark HBO series How To with John Wilson (2020-2023) is an invitation to explore the eccentricities of daily life, and proved a runaway success. Armed with a camera and a keen sense of observation, John Wilson uses the streets of his native New York as his backdrop. Pastiching the video tutorials ubiquitous on social media, How To with John Wilson proposes a series of life lessons on trivial themes which border on the absurd: "How To Cook the Perfect Risotto", "How To Put Up Scaffolding", "How To Clean Your Ears"... Each exploration sparks a succession of improbable meetings with strangers, some bizarre and fascinating, following an idiosyncratic logic and offbeat association of ideas.

From an always unassuming starting point, John Wilson's work always reaches for disconcerting depth. His anti-spectacular cinematography, incorporating a kind of formal austerity inspired by Gonzo journalism, showcases the comic potential hidden in the banality of the everyday. Without ever distracting from the highly entertaining premise of his project, John Wilson implicitly questions the human condition, the absurdity of existence, and the complexity of the modern world in a set of remarkably effective DIY wild goose chases. The third (and final!) season of this unmissable series was broadcast last summer, and garnered its director a Primetime Emmy Award nomination.

The aim of Visions du Réel is to ceaselessly explore the full spectrum of non-fiction cinema, in all its richness and diversity, and in all its freedom. Welcoming a filmmaker such as John Wilson is an incredible opportunity to showcase a singular and original body of work: joyful, personal, droll, collaborative and highly contemporary, all with cinephile eye.

“I’m really flattered that Visions du Réel asked me to screen some work at the festival this year. I always wanted to travel internationally and screen my work but no foreign festivals ever accepted my submissions. I’m very excited to watch documentaries in Switzerland.”  – John Wilson.

 

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