Slamdance 2013

HankandAsha_01

Editor’s note: Our review of Hank and Asha originally ran long ago during the 2013 Slamdance Film Festival, but we’re re-posting it as the film finally opens theatrically this weekend. Narrative gimmicks don’t always draw me in, but when I’m in the middle of watching a bunch of unremarkable festival films and something as original as Hank and Asha comes along, I’m easily seduced. That makes it sound undeserving, though, which isn’t the truth. The film is dominated by an unconventional structure that should in theory quickly become tedious for the viewer and a burden on the story, yet it carries on with great charm and a romantic spirit that’s rarely found at the movies today. It begins with a video message from Asha (Mahira Kakkar), an Indian studying film in Prague, sent to Hank (Andrew Pastides), a New York-based filmmaker whose documentary just screened at a festival she attended. He couldn’t make it, so Asha has decided to reach out for a one-on-one Q&A (presumably via email though we never get the specifics on what platform or network they use to send messages). He replies with a video of his own, and soon they’re digital-age pen pals, sharing everything from personal confessions to whimsical virtual tours of their respective cities in montage form.

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Ghost Team One

If Sundance is the alternative film festival, Slamdance is the alternative to the alternative. We’re proud to be media sponsors for the festival, and to share a few filmmaking spotlights on the movies playing there this year. This second batch features some secret and educational recordings. A talk with directors Scott Rutherford and Ben Peyser shows how they crafted Ghost Team One — a paranormal comedy where two things get weird in the spirit world after two guys chase after a beautiful woman. Plus, J.R. Hughto talks about his film Diamond on Vinyl, where a man is secretly recording private moments with his fiancee. Of course, she finds out. On the educational front, Cary McClelland brings his globe-trotting expertise to the cause of illuminating what’s going on in Pakistan with the film Without Shepherds. So let’s get uncomfortably close and dig deeper to learn more about these budding filmmakers:

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Hank and Asha

If Sundance is the alternative film festival, Slamdance is the alternative to the alternative. We’re proud to be media sponsors for the festival, and to share a few filmmaking spotlights on the movies playing there this year. This first batch is one of intimacy and turning the camera inward. For the documentary Bible Quiz, Nicole Teeny chose to explore a world she grew up in while profiling her brother and his friends in a scripture memorization competition. In Hank and Asha, a pair of lovers communicate by self-shot videos, and director James Duff discusses shooting a love story where the lead actors don’t meet until the end of the shoot. On the other side of the theme, Harry Patramanis discusses his film, Fynbos, and the concept of trying to escape your identity by leaving everything behind. So let’s get uncomfortably close and dig deeper to learn more about these budding filmmakers:

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To The Bone

Inspired by true events, Erin Li‘s Slamdance-premiering short, To The Bone, looks to cut precisely there. The film centers on a young family struggling to make it in America, and the unexpected consequences that arise when the family’s headstrong daughter challenges her back-breaking and bloody life as a child laborer. The film’s first trailer, which we’re pleased to debut exclusively here, is a haunting and lyrical minute that captures the ache and simmering fear of the final product. Check out the trailer for To The Bone after the break.

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Slamdance Logo

In its nineteenth year, the Slamdance Film Festival appears to be pulling out all the stops, thanks to their recent announcement of a very impressive slate of Special Screenings and their all-new Slam Collective, launching at January’s fest. The list of Special Screenings includes a film that may very well be one of Slamdance’s most impressive bits of programming ever, the World Premiere of Philippe Caland‘s Vipaka,a mysterious project about karma with a cast that includes Forest Whitaker, Anthony Mackie, Mike Epps, and Sanaa Lathan. Listen up, Slamdancers, this is going to the hot ticket of the festival. We’re anxious for our tickets already! The festival has also announced the films that make up their new Slam Collective, a collaboration “between global filmmakers using innovative methods and shared experience.” This new section is “inspired by the idea that with digital technology, cameras, online distribution, like-minded filmmakers from different cultures across continents can embrace a basic concept and create several films with one unifying theme; the discovery of community.” This year’s inaugural Slam Collective features seven filmmakers from five different continents, all working to create one new documentary, comprised of their own linked documentary shorts. These titles join the festival’s already-announced Features lineup, which also appears to be packed with some gems-in-the-making. Check out the full list of Special Screenings and the Slam Collective films after the break!

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Slamdance Logo

In the spirit of truly independent film, the Slamdance Film Festival has just announced their feature lineup for their upcoming 2013 outing. The festival will screen 22 feature-length competition films (12 narratives and 10 documentaries), and all films come from first-time filmmakers (in their respective programs). Despite the flux of new talent, there are plenty of recognizable names that pop up within the lineup’s ranks, including Brea Grant, Michael Urie, Jesse Eisenberg, Mamie Gummer, Ralph Macchio, Natasha Lyonne, Ben Stiller, Gavin McInnes, Zach Galifianakis, Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, Sean Conroy, Paul Provenza, and Marc Maron.  The festival will present awards to competition films in the following categories: Jury Award for Feature Doc, Jury Award for Narrative Feature, Audience Award for Feature Doc, Audience Award for Feature Narrative, and Filmmaker Award for Spirit of Slamdance. Kodak will present the Kodak Vision Award for Best Cinematography. Check out the full list of Slamdance features, complete with synopses and cast lists, after the break.

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