Admittedly, creating a film about theater tryouts wasn’t a huge stretch for the minds behind the short film Tryouts. “I’m an unabashed theater geek,” said director Lauren Ciaravalli, “and it’s just such a funny crazy world that it just felt like such a rich setting.”
Virtually the whole team behind Tryouts is made up of students at New York University, many of whom are constantly in the world of auditions. “It’s par for the course,” said lead actress Sarah Jes Austel. The relationships were true to life to, with actress Jordan McDonough playing Austel’s best friend, a role she is familiar with in the real world.
Tryouts premiered at this year’s Sarasota Film Festival. Listen to our conversation with the team, recorded in partnership with WSRQ.
Pulling the resources together to direct and produce a feature film is challenging under any circumstances. But Forgotten Kingdom director Andrew Mudge also the challenge of making a film in undeveloped parts of Africa. “Just getting from point A to point B most days was a challenge,” Mudge said. But through private equity, a private grant from the nation of Lesotho and hard work by a dedicated crew, the work got done.
And ever since, the film has been rewarded with a string of awards in the film festival circuit. That includes the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature at this year’s Sarasota Film Festival.
“It is such a bonus to come to an artistic community and hit it out of the park,” said producer T.R. Boyce.
Please listen to our interview with Mudge, recorded in partnership with WSRQ.
The subject of health care has been top tier in American politics the past few years, but a seldom-discussed facet is the impact on individuals’ lives when they do not have regular health care or decent insurance. The makers of Remote Area Medical devoted an entire feature documentary to that topic, going to a clinic in Appalachia to see the lives of those who do not regularly receive medical attention.
“If you haven’t seen a dentist in 20 years, you can’t get a job or take care of family,” said co-director Farihah Zaman. “You don’t have pride on yourself. It impacts your desire to work and take care of yourself. There are deeper consequences than physical pain.”
Pasadena is a realistically sophisticated script in terms of emotional causality and the nuanced depiction of the character’s lives and dynamics, even if the dramatic drivers are collectively improbable. Writer/director Will Slocombe is often subtle with indicators to ride the film’s vicissitudes, and the narrative is so dense with them it can be difficult to thoroughly sponge up in one pass – I still wonder over Lindsay’s stance toward the physical Nina-Deborah conflict, and why does Poppy confide in the clearly unreliable Nina? A strong dynamic of Slocombe’s approach is his effective use of action as non-verbal implicator and symbolism; a brilliant example is Nina and Lindsay’s yoga scene, which is a powerful determinant of Nina’s wasted precociousness.
While actress Suzanne Clement has already earned plenty of accolades for her performance in Laurence Anyways, the French Canadian star stilled seemed giddy to pick up trophies in Sarasota for both herself and the film. “This film has been shown in a lot of countries, I don’t know how many,” Clement said. “I’m so excited to be here.”
A filmmaker probably invites a certain level of controversy when she screens a film about the state of politics after the assassination of abortion doctor George Tiller. Indeed, when After Tiller screened at the Sarasota Film Festival, event organizers brought in extra security just in case debate turned violent. But filmmakers Lana Wilson and Martha Shane said they were pleased debate never turned nasty. “The audience here is just so smart,” Wilson said.