We’ve been selecting and curating films from all over the world since 2008 in Tallahassee. Here’s some of our favorite screening highlights.
The 2018 Tallahassee Film Festival featured a packed 3 days with over 90 films and over 50 attending filmmakers from around the world. The 2018 program was a diverse, funny and thoughtful collection of Official Selections from around the world and Spotlight films direct from major festivals like Sundance, Toronto and Berlin. The Opening Night film was the outrageous political satire The Misogynists, a wicked dissection of America in the age of Donald Trump directed by Onur Tukel, and the Closing Night film was a secret screening of the bold film Savage Youth, from one of American indie cinema’s most promising new directors Michael Curtis Johnson. The 2018 festival program also featured an incredible selection of films made by, starring and centered around women, as well as a bevy of films dealing exceptionally well with a range of topical issues from race to gender inequality to gun violence to political impacts, such as the post-Brexit feelings of many people in the UK.
Here’s some of our favorite screening highlights from 2008-2017.
The art of color guard is paired with contemporary musicians in this 2015 event staged by David Byrne at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The color guard’s synchronized dance is paired with performers including St. Vincent, Nelly Furtado and Ad-Rock.
Directed by Turner Ross & Bill Ross IV
A man and his grandmother hide out from a broadcast; a suicidal Grim Reaper hosts a children’s TV show; the formerly incarcerated remember and reinterpret their first days of freedom; a suburban mom’s life is upturned by the beast growing inside of her; and a high school gym teacher runs drills from inside a dormant volcano.
Directed by Frances Bodomo, Josephine Decker, Lauren Wolkstein, Lily Baldwin, Daniel Patrick Carbone
A Poem is a Naked Person
An ineffable mix of unbridled joy and vérité realism, the film presents the beloved singer-songwriter, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Leon Russell as filmed by documentarian Les Blank between 1972 and 1974. This singular film about an artist and his community never had an official theatrical release and attained legendary status. After more than forty years, it can finally be seen and heard in all its rough beauty.
Directed by Les Blank
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
Frustrated with her mundane life, a Tokyo office worker (Rinko Kikuchi) becomes obsessed with the fictional Coen Bros. movie, Fargo, that she mistakes for a documentary. Fixating on the scene where stolen cash is buried in North Dakota, she travels to America to find it.
Directed by David Zellner
The Great Invisible
The Deepwater Horizon crisis is seen through the perspectives of oil company executives, survivors and Gulf Coast residents who experienced it firsthand.
*Proceeds from the show went to benefit the Emerald Coast Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
Directed by Margaret Brown
Stop Making Sense
Director Jonathan Demme captures the frantic energy and artsy groove of Talking Heads in this groundbreaking concert movie shot over the course of three nights at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in 1983.
Directed by Jonathan Demme
Revenge of the Mekons
The history of the British punk band from its creation in 1977 to its current tour. Featuring interviews with celebrated fans, from author Jonathan Franzen to film director Mary Harron to comedian/musician Fred Armisen, the film reveals how, four decades into an ever-evolving career, punk’s reigning contrarians continue to make bold, unpredictable music while staying true to the punk ethos.
Directed by Joe Angio
Alienated by her peers, a girl finds an escape from her loneliness in the forest, where she meets a mysterious witch. She refuses the offer of magic at first, but maintains the friendship into her college years. Local filmmaker F.C. Rabbath creates a unique mystery shot on location in Tallahassee, Florida.
Written & directed by F.C. Rabbath
20,000 Days on Earth
A therapist’s questions and a visit to a voluminous archive propel a dramatization of a day in the life of musician and cultural icon Nick Cave. With startlingly frank insights and an intimate portrayal of the artistic process, the film examines what makes us who we are, and celebrates the transformative power of the creative spirit. Winner of British Independent Film Award Douglas Hickox Award (for Directorial Debut).
Directed by Jane Pollard & Iain Forsyth
A couple living in Brooklyn suspects foul play when a neighbor in a rent-controlled apartment suddenly dies. Packed with hilarious trench coat-clad stakeouts and antic-filled sleuthing, this film is a charming throwback that tips its hat to Hitchcock, Allen and Altman (to name a few)!
Directed by Lawrence Michael Levine
The Day it Snowed in Miami
A powerful documentary chronicling South Florida’s role in the LGBT-rights movement. Produced in association with the Miami Herald Media Company, the film examines the 1977 tug-of-war over a human rights Miami-Dade County ordinance that set the stage for a polemic debate between pro-gay activists and opponents led by entertainer/activist Anita Bryant.
Directed by Joe Cardona
Ping Pong Summer
In 1985 a summer vacation in Ocean City, Md., changes the life of a shy white teen (Marcello Conte) who’s obsessed with table tennis and hip-hop music. Ping Pong Summer is about that time in your life when you’re treated like an alien by everyone around you, even though you know deep down you’re as funky fresh as it gets.
Directed by Michael Tully
Ladies of the House
A grindhouse film with pin-up flair, Ladies of the House follows a birthday outing that turns into a fight for survival when two brothers and a friend become trapped in a house owned by a family of malevolent women.
Directed by John Stuart Wildman
After his younger brother is placed in a relative’s care, a juvenile delinquent (Josh Wiggins) becomes increasingly obsessed with winning a local motocross championship and getting his sibling back. Directed by FSU-alum Kat Candler and adapted from her short film of the same title, this engrossing drama also stars Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis.
Directed by Kat Candler
A Hard Day’s Night
The Beatles, in their feature film debut, one of the greatest rock-and-roll comedy adventures ever. The film takes on the just-left-of-reality style of mock-documentary, following “a day in the life” of John, Paul, George, and Ringo as fame takes them by storm. In honor of the 50th anniversary of the film, we premiered a fully restored negative with 4k resolution and a digitally restored soundtrack to a sold out Tallahassee audience on an IMAX screen.
Directed by Richard Lester
It Felt Like Love
Lila (Gina Piersanti), a lonely teen from Gravesend, fabricates a story about dating Sammy — a thug — and becomes fixated on it happening. In a predatory way, she pursues a sexual encounter with Sammy, but she becomes the prey.
Directed by Eliza Hittman
Summer of Blood
Erik (Onur Tukel) starts to hate his life until a stranger transforms him into a lothario. He feels free and unshackled until he realizes he has to feed on blood or suffer excruciating stomach pains.
Directed by Onur Tukel
Kuba meets Mikal and their connection is instantaneous and intoxicating. Kuba gives in to his desires and abandons his training and girlfriend to begin a relationship with Mikal. Winner of TIFF Award for Best Directing.
Directed by Tomasz Wasilewski
A new restoration of the original 1952 film directed by and starring Orson Welles and based on the ultimate jealousy story of all time by William Shakespeare. This restoration is based on the 1992 restoration of the film, which was the subject of controversy. When a secret marriage is planned between Othello (Orson Welles), a Moorish general, and Desdemona, the daughter of Senator Brabantio, her old suitor Roderigo takes it hard and conspires against Othello.
Directed by Orson Welles
An ominous piece of news sends a drifter (Macon Blair) back to his hometown to exact brutal — and inept — revenge for the deaths of his parents. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival as part of the Directors’ Fortnight section on May 17, 2013, where it won the FIPRESCI Prize. It was nominated for the John Cassavetes Award at the 2015 Independent Spirit Awards. Director Jeremy Saulnier funded production on the film through a successful Kickstarter campaign, which MTV.com called “the perfect example of what crowdfunding can accomplish.”
Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Filmed in a unique and memorable style and taking inspiration from similarly powerful works like the Qatsi Trilogy, Godfrey Reggio this time sets his sights on capturing humanity’s trancelike relationship with technology produces massive effects. The film was screened in the Special Presentation section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. The musical score for Visitors was composed by Philip Glass, who previously collaborated with director Godfrey Reggio on the Qatsi Trilogy.
Directed by Godfrey Reggio
The Great Beauty
One of our personal favorites here at the Tallahassee Film Festival, this astonishingly beautiful love letter to growing old, went on to win numerous awards including the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Journalist Jep Gambardella has charmed and seduced his way through the lavish nightlife of Rome for decades. When his 65th birthday coincides with a shock from the past, Jep finds himself unexpectedly taking stock of his life, and looking past the extravagant nightclubs, parties, and cafés to find Rome in all its glory: a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty.
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino
An expertly crafted film essay directed by Matt Wolf and based on Jon Savage‘s book Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture. In it, Wolf attempts to bring to life the “prehistory” of youth culture which evolved into the concept of teenage culture in the 1950s (and beyond), by carefully weaving archival footage from the era highlighting youth movements from around the world. German youth movements like the Wandervogel, the Hitler Youth, and the Swing Kids of Hamburg; anti-Nazi resistance group White Rose; the UK’s bright young things; and American youth movements such as the flappers, victory girls and Boy Scouts. The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Directed by Matt Wolf
Hide Your Smiling Faces
Tommy (Ryan Jones) and Eric (Nathan Varnson) spend their summer days having fun until death enters their lives. Winner of the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Film Still Awaiting American Distribution. The Tallahassee premiered this film as part of our New Faces of Film series which spotlights what we perceive to be the next generation of important filmmakers.
Directed by Daniel Patrick Carbone
A stressed-out man (Ken Marino) discovers that a tiny demon lives in his intestine, and that excessive anxiety causes the creature to escape and slaughter the man’s tormentors. Produced by FSU Film School alum Adele Romanski, the Duplass Brothers and starring Ken Marino and Gillian Jacobs, this is truly midnight-movie material at its best!
Directed by Jacob Vaughan
A Vienna museum guard befriends a visitor, and the two explore their lives, the city and the ways artwork reflects the world. The film is set in and around Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum. The Tallahassee Film Festival was honored to present this accomplished film at the FSU Museum of Fine Arts accompanied by an art exhibit and installation of chamber musicians playing solo pieces throughout the evening.
Directed by Jem Cohen
In an isolated Maine logging town, a woman’s tragic mistake shatters her community and yields unexpected consequences. Edmands finished the first draft of the screenplay in 2009. During the film’s production, it received assistance and funding from the Sundance Institute, the San Francisco Film Society and the Swedish Film Institute. It premiered as part of the World Narrative Feature Competition at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.
Directed by Lance Edmands
Short Term 12
A supervisor (Brie Larson) at a group home for at-risk teens connects with a new resident (Kaitlyn Dever) while facing a personal crisis of her own. The film is based on Cretton’s short film of the same name, produced in 2009. Cretton was inspired to write Short Term 12 based on his own experience of working in a group facility for teenagers. The film won South by Southwest’s Grand Jury and Audience Awards for a Narrative Feature, as well as earning three Independent Spirit Award nominations.
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Luke and Kate are co-workers at a Chicago brewery, where they spend their days drinking and flirting. They’re perfect for each other, except that they’re both in relationships. Luke is in the midst of marriage talks with his girlfriend of six years, Kate is playing it cool with her music producer boyfriend Chris. But you know what makes the line between “friends” and “more than friends” really blurry? Beer.
Directed by Joe Swanberg
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Alison Klayman documents the life and work of Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei. She showcases his artistic process as he prepares for a museum exhibition, his relationships with family members and his clashes with the government. Director Klayman received a special jury prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival for the film, which also opened the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto. The film received special prize during the opening ceremony at the Passion For Freedom Festival in 2012 in London.
Directed by Alison Klayman
Small Town Murder Songs
A modern gothic tale of crime and redemption about Walter (Peter Stormare), an aging police officer from a small Ontario Mennonite town who comes up hard against the mistrust of his community. When a young, unidentified woman is found dead by the lake – the victim of a brutal and violent crime – Walter and his partner Jim are called to the scene of the town’s first murder investigation in decades. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Directed by Ed Gass-Donnelly
Vicky and Sam
While working at the local video store, Vicky meets Sam, who quickly becomes a regular costumer. Both fall in love, ignoring the true reason for their rendez-vous. Winner of 24 awards worldwide, the Tallahassee Film Festival was proud to spotlight this wonderful short film in our Opening Night Presentation for the 2011 festival.
Directed by Nuno Rocha
As a family struggles to survive in rural America during the Great Depression, their daughter’s secret affair begins a journey into the unknown. From writer/director, Asiel Norton, comes this story about the eternal laws of survival and existence, and how one act can begin the dissolution as well as the rebirth of a family. The Tallahassee Film Festival was proud to present Asiel Norton with our 2011 honorary award for Best Emerging Filmmaker.
Written & directed by Asiel Norton
Look Not at the Mountains!
A team of hunters are led through the deserts of Africa by a mad Colonial zealot in 1904. The Younesi Brothers are the kind of filmmakers you follow no matter what their next film is going to be. Akin to a Darren Aronofsky or Paul Thomas Anderson, they take filmmaking for the short subject to an auteur level which demands to be seen despite itʼs unmarketable running time.
Directed by Michael Younesi
The story of Joseph (Peter Mullan, Trainspotting), a man plagued by violence and a rage that is driving him to self-destruction. As his life spirals into turmoil, a chance of redemption appears in the form of Hannah (Olivia Colman, Hot Fuzz), a Christian charity shop worker. But their relationship soon reveals that she is hiding a secret of her own. Paddy Considine’s feature writer/director debut won both the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award and the Special Jury Prize for Acting at the Sundance Film Festival.
Written & directed by Paddy Considine
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Winning the Palm d’Or at Cannes, jury president Tim Burton called this film “a beautiful strange dream.” Loosely based on a book of stories by a Buddhist abbot, the story centers on Uncle Boonmee, a man suffering from acute kidney failure who chooses to spend his final days with his family and friends in the countryside. Once home, strange things start happening.
Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
One of the biggest problems facing countries who rely on nuclear energy is what to do with the highly toxic radioactive waste. In 1970, Finland began construction of a massive underground bunker designed to safely store its nuclear waste until it decays and becomes safe — a process that takes 100,000 years. Through interviews with leading Finnish scientists and researchers, director Michael Madsen explores the consequences of nuclear energy and human fallibility.
Directed by Michael Madsen
The Off Hours
Francine (Amy Seimetz, Tiny Furniture, Incredibly Small) is a waitress whose liberation from her mundane existence is long overdue. In the restless world of the night shift at a highway diner, her life consists of casual encounters and transient friendships. As change begins to invade the quiet diner, she is reminded that it is never too late to become the person she was meant to be. Director Megan Griffiths is also a TFF-alum; she was AD on another favorite of ours, The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle.
Directed by Megan Griffiths
Jess + Moss
Jess, age 18, and Moss, age 12 are second cousins in the dark-fire tobacco fields of rural Western Kentucky. Without immediate families that they can relate to, and lacking friends their own age, they only have each other. Over the course of a summer they venture on a journey exploring deep secrets and hopes of a future while being confronted with fears of isolation, abandonment and an unknown tomorrow.
Directed by Clay Jeter
Two recent college graduates, Anne, an ambitious law student and Amir, an aimless escalator attendant and aspiring sculptor move into a 300 square foot apartment and try to start a life together. The combination of their small apartment, their threateningly handsome neighbor and unexpected visitors from the past make them realize maybe they aren’t as perfect for each other as they thought.
Directed by Dean Peterson
The Drummond Will
Two brothers accidentally kill an old man in their dead father’s home and have to decide what to do about the situation. The Huffington Post called it “one of the most refreshingly inventive and lovingly crafted send-ups of a beloved genre to be seen in many a moon.” The film is a fusion of the theatrical style found in classic Ealing Comedies with modern British humor.
Directed by Alan Butterworth
Memories of Overdevelopment
An Official Selection of the 2011 festival, filmmaker Miguel Coyula creates an avant-garde character study of an intellectual who leaves behind the Cuban revolution and “underdevelopment,” only to find himself at odds with the ambiguities of his new life in the “overdeveloped” world. The film is a collage of flashbacks, daydreams and hallucinations, using live-action, animation and news-reel footage assembled to suggest the way personal memory works: subjectively and emotionally.
Directed by Miguel Coyula
God of Love
Winning the Gold Medal at the 2010 Student Academy Awards and then the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film, this smile-inducing film is about a lovestruck, lounge-singing darts champion who find his prayers are answered – literally – when he mysteriously receives a box of love-inducing darts.
Directed by Luke Matheny
Roughly translated as “Bring Me My Machine Gun” in the Zulu language, South African musical artists Ninja and MC Yo Landi (Die Antwoord), are wheelchair-bound lovers and real gangstas in this post-exploitation film by auteur Harmony Korine. Polarizing the Tallahassee audience at the 2011 festival, we were forced to add additional screenings to accommodate the crowds in line for this surreal curiosity of a film.
Watch the film in it’s entirety, courtesy of Vice, and turn your speakers up!
Directed by Harmony Korine
Larry’s job is to pick up road kill along the highway; his hobby is taxidermy. Socially isolated, his only companions are the animals he’s stuffed. One night, Larry spots a dog, seemingly dead. Lacking a dog in his menagerie, he is about to complete his collection when he discovers that “Sammy” is still alive.
Directed by Kire Paputts
A touching and personal short film written, directed, produced by and starring comedian Pardis Parker, looks at the way two friends deal with the aftermath of a hate crime and try to make the best of a bad situation.
Directed by Pardis Parker
Winner of numerous awards at festivals around the world, Le miroir (The Mirror) follows a famous actress who, after being deeply traumatized and disfigured in a car accident, returns home to her family to avoid the media. There, she locks herself in the bedroom, refusing any social contact, but soon she will be forced to face her deepest fear.
Directed by Sébastien Rossignol
Prayers for Peace
From the artist behind the inspired Animation Hotline, Dustin Grella creates a singular vision using only pastels on a slate chalkboard to underscore life’s impermanence. In the award-winning Prayers for Peace, Grella, instead of taking inspiration from others, tells his own story and confronts the memory of his younger brother killed in Iraq in September 2004.
Directed by Dustin Grella
That Evening Sun
Vowing not to die in a nursing home, Abner Meecham (Hal Holbrook) leaves the facility and returns to his Tennessee farm. There, an unpleasant surprise awaits him: Abner’s son has leased the property to ne’er-do-well Lonzo Choat (Ray McKinnon) and his boorish family. Abner suspects that the Choats will not be able to afford the farm, and he moves into a shack to await their departure. Tensions escalate between Abner and Lonzo, each determined not to yield.
Directed by Scott Teems
of Montreal: Family Nouveau
It’s a bizarre celebration when the band of Montreal tours eleven European cities at the dawn of Obama’s presidency. Following the band for eleven days, director and UGA English instructor Spenser Simrill Jr. offers glimpses of Glasgow, Amsterdam, Paris and, most significantly, the landscape of the human body, as the film captures of Montreal’s bizarre stage antics and their equally bizarre backstage confessionals and pushup competitions.
Directed by Spencer Simrill, Jr.
Elodie and Elias have been living by themselves ever since most of the human race has disappeared from the face of the earth. However, with the unexpected arrival of Gabriel, a boy a bit older than themselves, their harmonic relationship is about to come to an end. The 2010 edition of the Tallahassee Film Festival was proud to be the US premiere of this gorgeously cinematic, post-apocalyptic fever-dream by filmmaker Max Jacoby.
Directed by Max Jacoby
Independent American reporter Michael Ruppert is the subject of this documentary, which looks at how the ex-police officer managed to predict the massive Wall Street crash of 2008 years before it happened. The film delves into what led Ruppert to foresee the financial crisis, as well as his grim worldview, which envisions more economic disasters. The production also sheds light on Ruppert’s own personal woes, which appear to be closely linked to his status as the bearer of bad news.
Directed by Chris Smith
Inspired by the tragic school shooting that took place at Montreal’s Polytechnique school on December 6, 1989, director Denis Villeneuve’s melancholy docudrama portrays the events as seen from the perspective of two students, Valérie (Karine Vanasse) and Jean-François (Sebastien Huberdeau). When an armed madman enters the school with the intention of killing as many females as possible, the lives of every student involved are forever changed.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
The worst thing about Wendell isn’t his slightly balding head, skinny frame, or thin lips; it’s that he’s a bit of an idiot. He just started dating Vicky, an angry drunk, who conveniently shares his lack of ambition and cleanliness. But he might prefer a relationship with Joanna because she’s a selfless social worker who doesn’t have lip acne. Eventually, Wendell is going to have to decide who he really belongs with: the best girl he’s ever known – or the worst.
Directed by Adam Bowers
Yusef, a first generation Pakistani engineering student, moves off-campus with a group of Muslim punks in Buffalo, New York. His new “unorthodox” housemates soon introduce him to Taqwacore – a hardcore, Muslim punk rock scene that only exists out west. Over time Yusef is influenced by Taqwacore too, and begins to challenge his own faith and ideologies. This debut feature film, by filmmaker Eyad Zahra deals with the complexities of being young and Muslim in modern-day America.
Directed by Eyad Zahra