AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY
Synopsis: On January 9, 2006, The New York Times sent shockwaves through the literary world when it unmasked “it boy” JT LeRoy, whose tough prose about a sordid childhood had captivated icons and luminaries internationally. It turned out LeRoy didn’t actually exist. He was the creative expression of 40-year-old San Francisco former phone-sex operator turned housewife, Laura Albert. Author: The JT LeRoy Story takes us down the infinitely fascinating rabbit hole of how Laura Albert breathed not only words, but life, into her avatar for a decade. Albert’s epic and entertaining account plunges us into a glittery world of rock shows, fashion events, and the Cannes red carpet where LeRoy becomes a mysterious sensation. As she recounts this astonishing odyssey, Albert also reveals the intricate web spun by irrepressible creative forces within her. Her extended and layered JT LeRoy performance still infuriates many; but according to Albert, channeling her brilliant fiction through another identity was the only possible path to self-expression.
Award Highlights: 2016 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Nominee, 2017 Writers Guild of America Documentary Screenplay Nominee, 2016 DocAviv Film Festival Best International Film Nominee
Synopsis: A boxing match in Brooklyn; life in postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina; the daily routine of a Nigerian midwife; an intimate family moment at home: these scenes and others are woven into Cameraperson, a tapestry of footage captured over the twenty-five-year career of documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. Through a series of episodic juxtapositions, Johnson explores the relationships between image makers and their subjects, the tension between the objectivity and intervention of the camera, and the complex interaction of unfiltered reality and crafted narrative. A work that combines documentary, autobiography, and ethical inquiry, Cameraperson is both a moving glimpse into one filmmaker’s personal journey and a thoughtful examination of what it means to train a camera on the world.
Award Highlights: 2016 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival Tribute Award Winner, 2016 San Francisco International Film Festival Golden Gate Award Winner, 2016 Sheffield Doc/Fest Grand Jury Award Winner, 2016 Traverse City Best U.S. Documentary Award Winner
Synopsis: A documentary thriller about the world of cyberwar. For the first time, the film tells the complete story of Stuxnet, a piece of self-replicating computer malware (known as a "worm" for its ability to burrow from computer to computer on its own) that the U.S. and Israel unleashed to destroy a key part of an Iranian nuclear facility, and which ultimately spread beyond its intended target. Zero Days is the most comprehensive accounting to date of how a clandestine mission hatched by two allies with clashing agendas opened forever the Pandora's Box of cyberwarfare. Delve deep into the burgeoning world of this digital covert warfare in this nail biter by Academy Award winning filmmaker Alex Gibney.
Award Highlights: 2017 Writers Guild of America Documentary Screenplay Nominee, 2016 Satellite Awards Best Motion Picture, Documentary Nominee; Houston Film Critics Society Awards Best Documentary Feature Nominee, Critics Choice Documentary Awards Best Political Documentary Nominee
Synopsis: The hit documentary from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival goes inside the life of Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans Saints defensive back who, at the age of 34, was diagnosed with ALS and given a life expectancy of two to five years. Weeks later, Gleason found out his wife, Michel, was expecting their first child. A video journal that began as a gift for his unborn son expands to chronicle Steve's determination to get his relationships in order, build a foundation to provide other ALS patients with purpose, and adapt to his declining physical condition-utilizing medical technologies that offer the means to live as fully as possible.
Award Highlights: 2016 SXSW Film Festival Audience Award Winner, 2016 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize Nominee, 2016 Seattle International Film Festival Best Documentary Award Winner, 2016 Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Best Documentary Award Winner, 2106 North Texas Film Critics Assoc. Best Documentary Award Winner, 2016 Nation Board of Review Top 5 Documentaries Award Winner, 2016 Montclair Film Festival Junior Jury Award Winner, 2016 Hot Docs Audience Award Nominee
Synopsis: What if a psychological crisis was seen as having the potential to be a positive transformative experience, instead of a “broken brain”? Human-rights photographer Phil Borges witnessed how indigenous cultures around the world often identify “psychotic” symptoms as an indicator of shamanic potential. Back in the US, Phil follows two young Americans diagnosed with “mental illness.” Adam, 27, suffers devastating side effects from medications before embracing meditation. Ekhaya, 32, survives several suicide attempts before spiritual training to become a traditional South African healer. Crazywise introduces mental health professionals and psychiatric survivors who see a psychological crisis as a potential growth experience, not a disease.
post-festival matinee at the Pine River Ranch in Lake Wenatchee, WA
SHERPA: TROUBLE ON EVEREST
Synopsis: A fight on Everest? It seemed incredible. But in 2013 news channels around the world reported an ugly brawl at 21,000 ft as European climbers fled a mob of angry Sherpas. In 1953, New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay had reached the summit in a spirit of co-operation and brave optimism. Now climbers and Sherpas were trading insults – even blows. What had happened to the happy, smiling Sherpas and their dedication in getting foreigners to the top of the mountain they hold so sacred? Determined to explore what was going on, the filmmakers set out to make a film of the 2014 Everest climbing season, from the Sherpas’ point of view. Instead, they captured a tragedy that would change Everest forever. At 6.45am on 18th April, 2014, a 14 million ton block of ice crashed down onto the climbing route through the Khumbu Icefall, killing 16 Sherpas. It was the worst tragedy in the history of Everest. The disaster provoked a drastic reappraisal about the role of the Sherpas in the Everest industry. SHERPA, tells the story of how, in the face of fierce opposition, the Sherpas united in grief and anger to reclaim the mountain they call Chomolungma.