SDFF Alumni Filmmakers + Films - Festival Appearances + Awards - Industry News


OCTOBER 6, 2021

While he isn’t an SDFF Alumni, a big congrats this week to Sebastopol’s own Cary Joji Fukunaga who directed No Time To Die, the vaunted new James Bond movie opening on Oct. 8. Fukunaga graduated from West County’s Analy High in 1995. See the full story in the local news here, and Indiewire’s in-depth interview with the director here.


Kumu Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu (KapaemahuLeitis In Waiting, Lady Eva) was one of roughly 200 kumu hula who convened in August to ratify a groundbreaking declaration that details the basic tenets of hula, the responsibilities and recognition of kumu, and details plans for the future as well as concerns about the revered tradition being commercialized, misused and culturally appropriated. Hinaleimoana is a filmmaker, collaborator and subject of a series of docs that have shown at SDFF over the years. For more about this convention and declaration, check out coverage in The Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

When the News & Documentary Emmys were given out at the end of last week, PBS led the pack with 10 News and Documentary Emmy Wins this year, including three for POV, two for Independent Lens, and two for Frontline. The POV wins included two SDFF filmsAdvocate (SDFF 2020) and The Rescue List (SDFF 2019). Netflix (4 wins) and Showtime (3 wins) were the next two biggest winners in the Documentary categories. 

Investigative news source Bellingcat won two News & Documentary Emmys alongside CNN for their investigation into the poisoning of Alexey Navalny. The partners won the award for Outstanding Investigative Report in a Newscast and Outstanding Research: News for CNN/Bellingcat Investigation into the Poisoning of Russian Opposition Leader Alexey Navalny. Bellingcat: Truth In A Post-Truth World (Hans Poole, 2018)a doc about the open source investigative, was an SDFF 2020 official selection. Bellingcat joins other SDFF alum Emmy winnersAdvocate, The Rescue List and Dick Johnson Is Dead. For a full list of winners and nomines, see the News & Documentary Emmys announcement

In related news, Hans Poole (Bellingcat) has directed an 8-part documentary on looted art, The Art Dispute, which is part of the international, non-fiction slate Dutch Film Works Intl. will make available for international acquisition at this year’s MIPCOM. Each episode in the series is organized around a different artifact or object and examines its historical legacy and current location.

IDA recently named its 2021 in-kind documentary film award grantees and a new project Seyran At Seyran Ateş: Sex, Revolution and Islam by Nefise Özkal Lorentzen and Jørgen Lorentzen, whose A Gift From God won the SDFF 2021 Audience Award for Best Feature, made the list. IDA named 11 recipients for the grant that supports filmmakers from any historically excluded community with the intent of minimizing the financial burdens associated with pursuing a film awards campaign. The new film is already showing as part of the Baturu Cultural Festival and the Cervantes Institute Beijing’s offerings, and will be accompanied by a Q&A. Baturu runs from Oct. 15-Nov. 15. 


Radu Sava, whose 2019 A California Original about the California Grey Pine played at SDFF 2019 has recently released another film about the California wilderness Not If But When: Wildfire Solutions (Radu Sava and Rebekah Hood-Sava, 2020). This 40-minute doc delves into the world of wildfire solutions examining their pros and cons, their successes and challenges. The film includes expert interviews, drone footage, historical data and maps. The doc has been shown in fire-stricken communities around Northern California, such as Yolo County, which screened and streamed the film on Monday. The film is also available to rent or buy on Amazon. 

Another SDFF alumni with a new climate change doc, Rahul Jain, premiered his doc Invisible Demons at Cannes. His masterful meditation on work, Machines, was an SDFF 2018 selection.


National News & Documentary Emmy® award winning film and SDFF 2019 official selection Dawnland (Ben Pender-Cudlip and Adam Mazo, 2018) will screen for free along with Dear Georgina (Pender-Cudlip and Mazo, 2019) in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Oct. 11. Dawnland is a story of stolen children and cultural survival told from inside the first truth and reconciliation commission for Native Americans. Pre-registration is required. Filmmaker and Upstander Project Director Adam Mazo’s new film Bounty will also premiere online in an event co-produced by the Portland Press Herald and Maine Historical Society on Nov. 10. The film will be followed by a filmmaker Q&A. Bounty is about citizens of the Penobscot nation who bring their families to Boston to read their ancestors’ death warrants, which were part of a 1755 colonial government proclamation that paid settlers to murder the tribespeople. Pre-registration is also required for this screening. 

Ciné-ONU/The U.N. will be marking World Food Day on Oct. 13 with an online screening of When Tomatoes Met Wagner followed by a filmmaker Q&A with Marianna Economou.  The screening is free, but requires registrationWhen Tomatoes Met Wagner is an SDFF alumni film, which tells the uplifting story of two Greek cousins and five village women, who tackle the world market with their organic tomatoes.

Bobbi Jo Hart’s doc about the pioneering 70s “womyn’s music” band Fanny, Fanny: The Right To Rock,kicked off the 2021 the Tucson Film & Music Festival on Oct. 1 and will be starting the Boston Women’s Film Festival on Oct. 8. The film will be available online as part of the festival from Oct. 8-17, and you can buy tickets here. Hart directed the SDFF 2018 selection Rebels On Pointewhich celebrated Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo; the all-male, drag ballet company founded on the heels of New York’s Stonewall riots.

SDFF 2021 selection Dilemma Of Desire, directed by Peabody Award winner Maria Finitzo is being released on Oct. 5 on the digital streaming service ALTAVOD for rent or purchase. Dilemma of Desire is a doc that breaks down cultural myths about women’s desire, bodies and power, which showed as part of SDFF 2021. Dilemma of Desire and A Sexplanationboth SDFF 2021 films, have also been programmed as part of the Zurich Film Festival’s fourth “Hashtage” section, #letSEXplorem.

Eight of filmmaker Lynne Sachs’ films will be streaming on Criterion Channel this October, including The Washing Society (2018 w/ Lizzie Oleskerd)which showed at SDFF 2018. Criterion’s October lineup will also include her films E•pis•to•lar•y: Letter to Jean Vigo (2021), Maya At 24 (2021), Girl Is Presence (2020 w/Anne Lesley), Film About A Father Who (2018), The Last Happy Day (2009), Which Way Is East (1994) and Wind In Our Hair (2010).

My Favorite War Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen’s animated memoir of a Soviet childhood, which is also an antiwar film that emphasizes the importance of an individual’s right to freedom in a democratic society, made the cut for this year’s Manchester Animation Festival, which will take place online and in theaters. If you were unable to catch the film as part of this year’s SDFF, check it out at the Manchester festival between Nov. 14-19 or at the Calvert Journal Film Festival online, which runs Oct. 18-31.


When We Were Bullies (Jay Rosenblatt, 2020) was selected to show as part of the 34th annual Virginia Film Festival, which will also be returning to in-person events, starting Oct. 27. In When We Were Bullies, a coincidence leads Rosenblatt to track down his fifth grade class and teacher to examine their memory and complicity in a bullying incident. The film showed as part of SDFF 2021.

How To Fall In Love In A Pandemic (Michael-David McKernan, 2021) was featured as part of the “Jane’s Faves” shorts program at this year’s Port Townsend Film Festival. The documentary short is a capsule romance that accelerates against the backdrop of the pandemic as two filmmakers are forced to move in together after two weeks of knowing each other. The film was also an SDFF 2021 official selection.

Red HorizonThomas Johnstone’s short about a group of young pilots attempting to carry on the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen while struggling to overcome racism and prejudice was a fan favorite at the 3rd Annual Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival in late September. The film was screened in person and online and was accompanied by a Q&A with the film’s stars. The short was an SDFF 2021 Official Selection.

Gilda Shepperd’s Since I Been Downwhich approaches a bevy of criminal justice and carceral issues by focusing on victims of the 1980s drug war, many of whom continue to languish behind bars, showed at the Freep Film Festival, a celebration of documentary film produced by the Detroit Free Press last week. The film’s screening was followed by a panel discussion between filmmaker and Detroit native Gilda Shepperd, equity reporter Lily Altavena, and Tonya Wilson, a reentry coordinator for the Freedom Project in Seattle. Since I Been Down has also been selected to show at the International Black Film Festival in Nashville, which was recently rescheduled for Dec. 2-5, 2021. The film elucidates the U.S.’s dysfunctional carceral state, while also showing how some of its victims have been able to create community and support one another’s personal growth, despite demoralizing circumstances. The film was an SDFF 2021 official selection.

Pélin Esmer, who won the jury award for Best Feature film at SDFF 2021 for Queen Lear, will be judging 9 films in the National Documentary Film Competition at the Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival, which aims to connect up-and-coming talent to established Turkish and international film industry folks.  This is the 58th edition of the festival.

Infinite Race, a new film from Bernardo Ruiz, whose poetic film Harvest Season about Latinx winemakers opened SDFF 2019, is showing on Australia’s SBS and is also a 2-part episode of ESPN’s 30 for 30 docuseries. The film is about the annual Ultra Maratón Caballo Blanco, in which runners compete in the spectacular Copper Canyon of Chihuahua, Mexico, home to the indigenous Rarámuri people, who are known for their endurance running.

Rosemary’s Way (Ros Horin 2020) was shown as part of Australian-Catholic Holy See for World Day of Migrants and Refugees in late September. The film’s subject, 2021 Australian Local Hero Rosemary Kairuki was honored at the event. The film is about the work Kairuki does organizing activities for migrant women, introducing them to eachother, etc., which helps keep these women from feeling isolated in their new country. It is also about the transformative impact of reaching out to others. 

Denmark’s From the Wild Sea (Robin Petré, 2021) is among the films vying for the A Different Tomorrow award at the Reykjavik International Film Festival (9/30-10/10). Eighty percent of the films in this category, meant to deal with socially important issues, were directed by women. The film, an SDFF 2021 selection, is a poetic dialogue between human- and animal-kind.

The Silence of Others (Almudena Carracedo, Robert Bahar, 2018) had its Ithica premiere at Cornell University last Tuesday, where it was introduced by Prof. Cecelia Lawless, PhD.  The film was also listed on multiple lists of Spanish language films to watch for Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) The Silence of Others was an SDFF 2019 official selection.


Director Penny Lane, whose new film Listening To Kenny G has been getting quite a bit of attention in the indie press, was featured in IndieWire’s Influencer series, an honor that included a substantial profile about the filmmaker. The film was also thoughtfully reviewed in this month’s Paste magazine. Lane’s SDFF 2018 doc Nuts! and Hail Satan, are both exemplary of his cheeky brand of cultural criticism, which is discussed at length in the piece. Lane’s new doc appears to be a reflection on his subject that asks what it means to make “bad” art. The documentary is part of the Music Box series of music docs from HBO and Ringer films and is slated to show on HBO Max later this fall. 

Hillbilly co-director Ashley York won over audiences at Western Kentucky University, when she spoke following a screening of her film last week. The film, which traces the history and development of the figure of the hillbilly in Appalachia, and also captures the region during the 2016 presidential election, has been of almost permanent interest since its release, as white poor and working class people have been focalized in national politics. Excerpts from her talk are available in the WKU Herald online. Hillbilly was an SDFF 2019 official selection which screened with a filmmaker Q&A.

Comedian Julia Scotti, star of Julia Scotti: Funny That Way (Susan Sandler, 2020, SDFF 2021) is back on stage performing as more and more acts return to live performances. She will take to the stage in New Jersey on Oct. 6 with Joe Larson, John Conroy and Franqi French for the “Laughs in the Loft” comedy show, reopening the South Orange Performing Arts Center, which has been closed after damage from Tropical Storm Ida. Scotti will also perform on Oct. 9 along with Uncle Floyd for a performance of the four funniest people born and raised in New Jersey at the Historic Brook Theater.

Voice Above Water (Dana Frankoff, 2020) and its subject Waya Nyo, the 90 year-old fisherman who has devoted his life to collecting a seemingly never-ending supply of garbage from the ocean were featured in MyModernMet magazine this week. 

If you have news about an SDFF alumni, please contact us at info@sebastopolfilm.org so we can broadcast it!

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