Mar 19, 2019
Successful Boutique Initiative Offers Curated Slate of World Premieres for Festival Audiences and Select Industry Representatives
San Francisco, CA — After a successful track record in its first two years, resulting in films being acquired by distributors such as Oscilloscope Laboratories, Magnolia Pictures, Sundance Selects, Gunpowder & Sky, and The Orchard. SFFILM’s Launch program returns to provide a platform for a select group of exceptional films just beginning their distribution journey. In Launch’s third year, five features within the official lineup of the 2019 San Francisco International Film Festival have been selected to have their world premieres. Once again, SFFILM is excited to introduce new opportunities for debuting films in this section to benefit from the unique and diverse audiences of the Bay Area as they find their new champions in distribution and exhibition.
“Launch has quickly become an integral component of SFFILM and the Festival,” said SFFILM Director of Programming Rachel Rosen. “With Launch, alongside San Francisco’s notoriously discerning and enthusiastic audiences, films get the opportunity to have their work seen by industry leaders and buyers who ultimately can create the path to distribution and a wider audience. This year’s slate of Launch films is a high quality collection of narratives and documentaries that we expect to generate great excitement.”
SFFILM is dedicated to elevating exceptional and innovative films and filmmakers. The SFFILM Festival’s Launch initiative is an organic extension of the organization’s year-round artist development programs, which support filmmakers at all stages of production through significant financial and creative resources. With Launch, SFFILM now brings the same level of care and assistance to a select number of films as they begin their journeys on the festival circuit. The five titles featured in Launch—found among several Festival sections—are making their debuts to the film industry as well as the Festival’s discerning audiences.
LAUNCH TITLES AT THE 2019 SFFILM FESTIVAL
Ai Weiwei: Yours Truly
(Cheryl Haines, USA, 78 min)
Ai Weiwei, famous for his large-scale installation work and his dogged social justice advocacy, created a career-defining work in 2015 with @Large, mounted at Alcatraz, the emblematic site associated with egregious incarceration conditions and radical Native American protest. At the core of @Large were portraits of prisoners of conscience coupled with the opportunity to write letters of solidarity to the imprisoned. In her impassioned and powerful film, exhibition curator Cheryl Haines visits several current and former prisoners, including American whistleblower Chelsea Manning, and learns how these letters were vital to their survival.
(Tom Quinn, USA, 79 min)
In tiny Colewell, Pennsylvania, the residents gather at the post office for mail and gossip, while the days pass quiet and serene. That is until news comes that the office is to close, and beloved clerk Nora (a marvelous Karen Allen) is left to fight for her job and reflect on the choices she has made that kept her in Colewell for so many years. Touching, with a hint of melancholy, Tom Quinn’s eloquent film is an ode to small-town life and the quiet emotions that come with nostalgia and memories of the past.
The Seer and the Unseen
(Sara Dosa, USA/Iceland, 86 min)
The volcanic rock that covers most of Iceland is not just beautiful and protected in the Nature Conservation register, it is also purportedly the home to elves, trolls, and other hidden people. When a new road is set to be built through a lava field, environmentalists including Ragnhildur “Ragga” Jónsdóttir—a “seer” who can communicate with the elves—must fight to preserve the sacred rock while combating Iceland’s push to grow economically in this magically real fable by Sara Dosa (The Last Season, Festival 2014).
We Believe in Dinosaurs
(Clayton Brown, Monica Long Ross USA, 99 min)
Williamstown, Kentucky, is home to the Ark Encounter—a “life-size” creationist museum of Noah’s Ark, filled with all of the creatures that traveled in its hull, including dinosaurs. With incredible access to the park leading up to its opening, filmmakers Clayton Brown and Monica Long Ross expose the larger system behind the creationist movement, piecing together the many factors that have led to the museum presenting its information as historical fact, and the people that are fighting to set the scientific record straight.
When I’m a Moth
(Zachary Cotler, Magdalena Zyzak, USA/Canada, 91 min)
With sensitivity and a dreamy visual style, When I’m a Moth fictionalizes a moment in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life when different paths could have been taken, while others seemed destined. In the summer of 1969, Hillary (a brilliant Addison Timlin) finds herself working at a cannery in Alaska. When she meets two Japanese fishermen—Ryohei (TJ Kayama) and Mitsuru (Toshiji Takeshima)—and strikes up an intimate friendship with one of them, she experiences anxiety about her immediate future, while remaining sure of her ambition for public office.
For general information visit sffilm.org/festival.
For photos and press materials visit sffilm.org/press.
2019 San Francisco International Film Festival
The longest-running film festival in the Americas, the San Francisco International Film Festival (SFFILM Festival) is an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation in one of the country’s most beautiful cities. The 62nd edition runs April 10–23 at venues across the Bay Area and features nearly 200 films and live events, 14 juried awards with close to $40,000 in cash prizes, and upwards of 100 participating filmmaker guests.
SFFILM is a nonprofit organization with a mission to champion the world’s finest films and filmmakers through programs anchored in and inspired by the spirit and values of the San Francisco Bay Area. Presenter of the San Francisco International Film Festival, SFFILM is a year-round organization delivering screenings and events to more than 75,000 film lovers and media education programs to more than 12,000 students and teachers annually. In addition to its public programs, SFFILM supports the careers of independent filmmakers from the Bay Area and beyond with grants, residencies, and other creative development services.
For more information visit sffilm.org.
This press release is available online at sffilm.org/press/releases.