With some 50 films and more than 40 filmmakers expected to attend, the Tallahassee Film Festival unspools Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 3-4, with a kaleidoscopic array of independent features, short films, documentaries and foreign-language titles, highlighted by Sunday’s 4K digital restoration screening of David Lynch’s 1997 hallucinogenic neo-noir Lost Highway at the IMAX theater in downtown’s Challenger Learning Center.

Other venues include Cap City Video Lounge and the Hyatt House Gathering Room, in the Railroad Square Art District; the Seminole Room of the Residence Inn on Gaines St; and The Bark, which hosts a Saturday night “Giallo Disco” party, with live music by Joe Kalicki and live video projections by filmmaker Dave Rodriguez. There is also a VIP & Filmmakers brunch Sunday morning at Charlie Park’s rooftop lounge at the top of the AC Hotel, overlooking Cascades Park. 

All-Access passes ($40), and single-show tickets, are available online. All patrons can also buy tickets at the screenings. 

Each year the festival highlights prize-winners and audience favorites from major festivals such as Sundance, SXSW and Tribeca, and offers a showcase for fresh discoveries of new, fiercely independent work. Here’s a quick peek at some highlights this year.

Freedom’s Path – Southeast Premiere!

Actor and Jacksonville, Florida native R.J. Cyler (Emergency) and Trainspotting’s Ewen Bremner star in this Civil War drama about a Union deserter who is taken in by a community of freed slaves who run a portion of the Underground Railroad. The directorial debut of Brett Smith is a film 11+ years in the making. Freedom’s Path is like Glory meets Dances with Wolves. When a soldier deserts from battle, he soon discovers the true cost of war through a young heroic black man, who teaches him the real meaning of Freedom.

The Blind Man Who Did Not Want To See Titanic

The Finnish dramedy, a favorite at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, is a pandemic-era hero’s journey, as a blind cinephile confined to a wheelchair makes a risky solo trip to visit his online sweetheart for the first time. The film will be presented with a professional live transcription for the blind and visually impaired, courtesy of blindCan.org.

Shorts I – TLH Edition – Brew the Right Thing

An assortment of short films made in Tallahassee about Tallahassee includes documentaries about the eviction crisis at the Meadows Mobile Home Park, the unionization of local Starbucks franchises, and the progressive social impact of coffee shops, including Midtown’s Ology Coffee, which also will host a coffee pop-up at the screening. Look for other shorts blocks devoted to comedy, drama, experimental and romance themes.

Quantum Cowboys

Experimental animation meets live action in this cosmic Western that plays out in a dozen different realities, with an all-star cast that includes David Arquette, Neko Case, and Lily Gladstone (who also stars in a second Tallahassee Film Festival feature, The Unknown Country). The soundtrack is by Howe Gelb, best known for his work in the band Giant Sand. 

Yelling Fire in an Empty Theater

Yelling Fire in an Empty Theater follows Lisa, a recent college graduate, as she struggles to “make it” in New York. Filled with conviction that the best plan is no plan at all, she decides to move to the city and figure out the why after. Shot entirely in MiniDV format, and like a lovesong to the Y2K era, the film is steeped in nostalgia and cinematic nuance. The filmmakers (one an FSU Film School alum) are expected to be present at the screening.

Riotsville, USA

There’s a riot going on, and the U.S. government incited it. Filmmaker Sierra Pettengill’s documentary exclusively utilizes archival footage to expose the militarization of local police departments by the government in the late 1960s, staging uprisings with actors for training sessions in fake towns known as Riotsvilles, built on military bases.

The Integrity of Joseph Chambers

Writer-director Robert Machoian (2010 TFF alum) and actor Clayne Crawford (The Killing of Two Lovers) have a way with dark Americana and the perils of masculinity. They double down in this new drama,  in which a would-be Rambo marches off on a solo hunting expedition that Variety likened to a “one-man Deliverance.”

Secret Screening

A new film from a rising-star cult filmmaker will be screened. No pass or ticket required!

If You Go

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