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Laff 2017 Women Directors: Meet Sara Lamm — “Thank You For Coming”

Thank You For Coming

Sara Lamm is a writer, performer, and documentary filmmaker. Her most recent film, “Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Midwives,” co-directed with Mary Wigmore, won the Audience Award at the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival. It was also released theatrically in the U.S. and screened in community venues all over the world. Her work has appeared at Mass-moca, The American Visionary Art Museum, and on NPR.

Thank You For Coming” will premiere at the 2017 La Film Festival on June 18.

W&H: Describe the film for us in your own words.

Sl: As an adult, I found out that I was conceived via sperm donor. The news was shocking, and the phrase “anonymous donor” seemed to strongly imply that I was supposed to live with the mystery — only I found that I didn’t want to.

Thank You For Coming” is a kind of detective story documentary, an obstinate attempt to create a narrative out of something that seemed to defy knowing.

Also, my husband describes the film as a “funny story about loss,” which I take as a high compliment.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

Sl: This may sound strange, but I wanted to change a feeling in my bones. I wanted to get rid of a certain kind of loneliness, an internal sense of being unmoored.

I felt like the only way I could do that was by embarking on and documenting an adventure.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?

Sl: So many people have shared stories with me about their own fathers since I began this project. It turns out that there are lots of ways to “not know” your dad. You may be donor conceived, or your father may have left. There could be family secrets, or your father may simply be unable to emotionally connect.

I hope that this film gives some space to think about that, particularly in relation to fathers and daughters. That’s an important line in the film, I think: “A father’s life affects the daughter’s; they are woven together.” I’m interested in people’s response to that idea.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

Sl: Writing the narration was the hardest part. I kept putting it off.

Finally, I read something about how the great Maya Angelou used to rent a hotel room and do her writing there. So, I went to an inexpensive hotel near my house to hunker down. In my case, it was periodical: a few days at a time over several months.

This is something I highly recommend for people — mothers especially — who have some creative work to do but can’t seem to find that wide-open quiet time in which to do it.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

Sl: This movie is the opposite of a studio film. It’s about as homemade as it can get, cobbled together with equipment, talent, and dollars from home.

The mics are dusty ol’ things from the drawer under my desk. The cinematographers included myself and anyone else who happened to be handed the camera. The editor and I worked in the living room most days from ten to three, which is when my kids get home from school.

I think it’s important to talk about this kind of filmmaking — particularly as it pertains to people who are, in addition to moviemaking, also part of a familial eco-system.

W&H: What does it mean for you to have your film play at the Laff?

Sl: I love Laff so much for the fantastic and diverse array of films they program, and also for how well they treat the filmmakers.

I am excited and honored to be a part of this year’s festival. Plus, it’s so fun to screen in my hometown.

W&H: What’s the best and worst advice you’ve received?

Sl: A filmmaker I respect a lot once laid it out for me. He said, “One way to make a film is when everything is perfect, and you know what you’re doing all the time. Another way involves chaos, and everything feels like it’s careening out of control. But, there’s a third way, and that’s somewhere in the middle. Get it as right as you can in terms of prep, structure, financial and production support, and then just go make the damn thing.”

This was the most freeing advice, and it gave me permission to get started. I don’t know if I ever would have made a movie without those words.

The worst advice I ever got was, “Don’t apply to that women’s film festival.” Women’s film festivals are the best.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

Sl: Just keep going.

Note: This is also advice for myself.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

Sl: I love Amalie Rothschild’s “Nana, Mom and Me.”

Margaret Mead described the film in the best way: “A very simple but moving account of three generations of women, held together by recorded narrative and an emotion so intense that sophisticated audiences become still and contemplative as they watch it.”

For me, it was the first time that I ever saw — in film — a deep exploration of the ambivalence an artist might feel about her role as a parent. When I finally saw this film in 2012, I was both moved and furious that I had never heard of it before. It really drove home the fact that even though women have been making films for a long time, they aren’t properly passed from generation to generation the way they should be.

W&H: There have been significant conversations over the last couple of years about increasing the amount of opportunities for women directors yet the numbers have not increased. Are you optimistic about the possibilities for change? Share any thoughts you might have on this topic.

Sl: I am so proud of my women director friends, and I’m so grateful for the infrastructures that have been created to support them.

I can’t help but think that change is inevitable when I read awesome speeches like Jill Soloway’s. As a documentary filmmaker, I’m not on a set the same way she is, but I loved when she said that not being able to cry on set is a liability. I‘m gonna make a cross stitch of it and give it to some pals for Christmas.

Laff 2017 Women Directors: Meet Sara Lamm — “Thank You For Coming” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

‘The F Word’ Trailer: Follow One Queer Couple’s Foster-to-Adopt Journey In This Funny Docu-Series

  • Indiewire
‘The F Word’ Trailer: Follow One Queer Couple’s Foster-to-Adopt Journey In This Funny Docu-Series
When a documentarian goes through a life change as major as adopting their first child, it seems only natural that they would want to document the experience. Enter the provocatively titled “The F Word,” a short comedic docu-series about one queer couple’s foster-to-adopt journey. It follows Emmy-nominated director Nicole Opper and her partner (in life and producing) Kristan Cassidy as they navigate the nightmarish bureaucracy that is America’s child welfare system.

Read More: Laff 2017 Announces Full Slate, Including Competition and Episodic Offerings

Taking a lighthearted approach to a complex and potentially heartbreaking story, the couple are charming and self-deprecating as they baby proof their home, cruise cute babies, and brace themselves for invasive questions from their case worker. The smart and engaging take on an underrepresented topic earned “The F Word” slots at San Francisco’s Frameline Film Festival, as well as the Los Angeles Film Festival, both happening this month.
See full article at Indiewire »

‘Logan Lucky’ First Trailer: Steven Soderbergh Races Back to the Big Screen After A Four-Year Hiatus

  • Indiewire
‘Logan Lucky’ First Trailer: Steven Soderbergh Races Back to the Big Screen After A Four-Year Hiatus
Forget the blockbusters and the high profile indie releases like “The Beguiled” and “It Comes At Night.” For many cinephiles, the biggest event of the summer movie season is the long-awaited return of Steven Soderbergh to the big screen, and today we finally have our first look at footage form his upcoming race car capper “Logan Lucky.”

Read More: ‘Logan Lucky’: Steven Soderbergh Says His First Film in Four Years Is ‘An Anti-Glam Version of an Ocean’s Movie’

Channing Tatum, Adam Driver and Riley Keough play down-on-their-luck siblings who attempt to reverse a family curse by carrying out an extensive robbery during the Coca-Cola 600 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Think of it like a much less glamorous version of Soderbergh’s hit “Ocean’s Eleven” franchise. The star-studded cast also includes Daniel Craig, Hilary Swank, Katharine Waterston and Katie Holmes.

The main of attraction is Soderbergh, however, who
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‘Moss’ Trailer: Former Model Mitchell Slaggert Makes Bid for Indie Greatness in Psychedelic Laff Entry — Watch

  • Indiewire
‘Moss’ Trailer: Former Model Mitchell Slaggert Makes Bid for Indie Greatness in Psychedelic Laff Entry — Watch
Set in the American South, Daniel Peddle’s Los Angeles Film Festival premiere “Moss” finds former Ck model Mitchell Slaggert taking on a tricky role. As the eponymous Moss, Slaggert is tasked with playing an isolated young man grappling with a legacy he doesn’t fully understand. Motherless since birth, Moss is eager to break away from his resentful father, and he thinks his 18th birthday is the perfect time for such a life change.

Moss unexpectedly meets someone new during his chosen day of busting loose, a mysterious hiker who opens his eyes to the possibilities of the world — at least partially aided by psychedelics. What follows looks to be a lush, lyrical look at life in Southern Gothic America and the people who are tied to it forever.

Read More: ‘Thank You For Coming’ Trailer: Sara Lamm’s Documentary Goes Inside Unexpected Consequences of Sperm Donorship

The film
See full article at Indiewire »

‘Thank You For Coming’ Trailer: Sara Lamm’s Documentary Goes Inside Unexpected Consequences of Sperm Donorship

  • Indiewire
As an adult, documentary filmmaker Sara Lamm discovered that she was conceived via sperm donor. She’s spent years trying to track down her biological dad, using her skills as an investigator to dig ever deeper to uncover where half of her DNA comes from. It’s a fraught premise — and one that threatens to upset her seemingly very happy and loving family — but it’s one she embraces fully in her latest film, “Thank You For Coming.”

Lamm’s search forms the heart of the film, along with a few big twists, like meeting another woman who was conceived at the same clinic in the same year who looks an awful lot like her and wrestling with what her now-deceased mother did and did not know about the situation. The film builds together two years of work and discoveries, and ultimately finds Lamm traveling all the way to Hawaii
See full article at Indiewire »

La Film Fest Competition Lineup Announced: 46 Percent Women-Directed

Moko Jumbie

The La Film Festival (Laff) has announced its 2017 competition lineups. “Our competitions reflect who Film Independent is as an organization,” emphasized Laff Director Jennifer Cochis. “Within each section you’ll find discovery, diversity, and promising talent both in front of and behind the camera.” Thankfully, these aren’t just empty words. The numbers back Cochis up. Of 28 films screening in competition, 13 are directed or co-directed by women, amounting to 46 percent of the lineup. The Documentary Competition — where female filmmakers are usually represented more than the Fiction Competitions — features seven out of 10 titles directed or co-directed by women. Last year, 43 percent of films screening in the competition programs were helmed or co-helmed by women.

Women-directed features in the U.S. Fiction Competition include Leena Pendharkar’s “20 Weeks,” a romantic drama about a couple who has to decide whether or not to carry a baby to term after it’s diagnosed with a serious health issue, and Camille Thoman’s “Never Here,” a thriller that centers on a photographer who senses she’s being watched.

Among the films screening in the World Fiction Competition are “Dark Blue Girl,” the story of a former couple — and their seven-year-old daughter — who return to their vacation home two years after parting ways, and Vashti Anderson’s “Moko Jumbie,” a portrait of a displaced girl living in Trinidad who forms a bond with a young fisherman.

The Documentary Competition lineup includes Valerie Red-Horse Mohl’s “Mankiller,” a celebration of the first woman elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, and Ema Ryan Yamazaki’s look into the lives of Margret and Hans Rey, the authors behind the “Curious George” book series.

Produced by Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that also produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards, Laff runs from June 14–22.

Check out more information about the women-directed projects screening at Laff below. List adapted from the fest.

U.S. Fiction Competition (4/10 women directed or co-directed)

Original voices with distinct visions from emerging and established American independent filmmakers.

20 Weeks, dir. Leena Pendharkar, USA, World Premiere

Becks, dir. Elizabeth Rohrbaugh, Daniel Powell, USA, World Premiere

Everything Beautiful is Far Away, dir. Andrea Sisson, Pete Ohs, USA, World Premiere

Never Here, dir. Camille Thoman, USA, World Premiere

Documentary Competition (7/10 women-directed or co-directed)

Compelling, character-driven non-fiction films from the U.S. and around the world.

Dalya’s Other Country, dir. Julia Meltzer, USA, World Premiere

Liyana, dir. Aaron Kopp, Amanda Kopp, Swaziland / USA / Qatar, World Premiere

Mankiller, dir. Valerie Red-Horse Mohl, USA, World Premiere

Monkey Business, dir. Ema Ryan Yamazaki, USA, World Premiere

Out of State, dir. Ciara Lacy, USA, World Premiere

Thank You For Coming, dir. Sara Lamm, USA, World Premiere

Two Four Six, dir. Leyla Nedorosleva, Russia / USA / Haiti, World Premiere

World Fiction Competition (2/8 women-directed or co-directed)

Unique fiction films from around the world by emerging and established filmmakers, especially curated for La audiences.

Dark Blue Girl, dir. Mascha Schilinski, Germany / Greece, International Premiere

Moko Jumbie, dir. Vashti Anderson, Trinidad and Tobago / USA, World Premiere

La Muse (6/12 women-directed or co-directed)

Fiction and documentary films that capture the spirit of Los Angeles.

And Then There Was Eve, dir. Savannah Bloch, USA, World Premiere

Built to Fail, dir. Bobby Kim, Alexis Spraic, Scott Weintrob, USA, World Premiere

Fat Camp, dir. Jennifer Arnold, USA, World Premiere

Mighty Ground, dir. Delila Vallot, USA, World Premiere

Roller Dreams, dir. Kate Hickey, USA, International Premiere

The Year of Spectacular Men, dir. Lea Thompson, USA, World Premiere

Nightfall (1/8 women-directed or co-directed)

From the bizarre to the horrifying, these are films to watch after dark.

Serpent, dir. Amanda Evans, South Africa, World Premiere

Short Films (51): From over 2,700 submissions, the short films selected represent 13 countries, 47% are directed by women and 51% are directed by people of color. Short films are shown before features and as part of six short film programs. Shorts will compete for juried prizes for fiction and documentary shorts, as well as an Audience Award for Best Short Film.

Future Filmmakers Showcase: High School Shorts (15):

Made by incredibly accomplished high school filmmakers from across the country and globe, 60% of the short films in this diverse slate are directed by young women and 20% are directed by people of color. Program sponsored by Time Warner Foundation, Lisa Argyros/Argyros Family Foundation and Employees Community Fund of Boeing California.

Episodes: Indie Series from the Web (4/10 women-directed or co-directed)

This showcase of independently crafted web series, 70% of which are directed by people of color and 40% are directed by women, celebrates rising creators whose work and subjects are innovative and unfiltered.

Bkpi, dir. Hye Yun Park, USA

My America, dir. Anna Jones, Asaad Kelada, USA

People Of…, dir. lamia Alami, Switzerland

The F Word, dir. Nicole Opper, USA

La Film Fest Competition Lineup Announced: 46 Percent Women-Directed was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Laff 2017 Announces Full Slate, Including Competition and Episodic Offerings

  • Indiewire
Laff 2017 Announces Full Slate, Including Competition and Episodic Offerings
This year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, better known as Laff if you’re fun, has unveiled its full slate of 2017 offerings, including new offerings from Vincent Grashaw, Leena Pendharkar, Hong Sangsoo, Lea Thompson and many more. The slate includes 48 feature films, 51 short films, 15 high school short films and 10 short episodic works representing 32 countries. The festival’s five competitions feature 37 World Premieres, 2 International Premieres and 9 North American Premieres. Across the competition categories, 42% of the films are directed by women and 40% are directed by people of color.

“Our competitions reflect who Film Independent is as an organization,” said La Film Festival Director Jennifer Cochis. “Within each section you’ll find discovery, diversity, and promising talent both in front of and behind the camera.” Programming Director Roya Rastegar added, “The films curated for the 2017 competition reflect the changing political climate’s impact on emerging independent filmmakers, who are compelled to tell stories about the power of conviction,
See full article at Indiewire »

La Film Festival 2017 Lineup Includes It Stains The Sands Red, Midnighters, Serpent

  • DailyDead
The days are getting longer and the nights are getting warmer, which means that we're edging ever closer to this year's La Film Festival. Taking place June 14th–22nd, the La Film Festival's 2017 competition lineup has been unveiled, and of particular interest for genre fans is the Nightfall section, which includes Colin Minihan's It Stains the Sands Red, Julius Ramsay's Midnighters, and Amanda Evans' Serpent.

Press Release: Los Angeles (May 9, 2017)— Today the La Film Festival, produced by Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that also produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards, unveiled the official U.S. Fiction, Documentary, World Fiction, La Muse and Nightfall sections. The 2017 La Film Festival will screen a diverse slate of feature films, shorts and episodic series, along with programs such as Coffee Talks and Future Filmmakers Showcase. The La Film Festival takes place June 14 – June 22, 2017 headquartered at ArcLight Cinemas Culver City, with additional screenings at ArcLight Hollywood,
See full article at DailyDead »

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