Tag Archive for alumni films

Albertalli ’05 Prepares for Big Screen Release of Debut Novel

Becky Albertalli ’05

Becky Albertalli ’05

Clinical psychologist and YA novelist Becky Albertalli ’05 is the author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, an award winning coming-of-age story published by Harper Collins in 2015. It follows Simon Spier, a junior in high school struggling to come to terms with his sexual identity without coming out, before a leaked email threatens to compromise his secret and his comfort zone. This past October, Fox 2000 Pictures and Temple Hill Entertainment began developing a movie adaptation of the book. The major motion picture will feature a star-studded cast––including Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford and Jennifer Garner––and is set to be released in March 2018.

Directed by Greg Berlanti, the comedy-drama film of the same name as Albertalli’s debut novel is currently in post-production. Fans of the popular book and members of the cast, like Alexandra Shipp, Logan Miller and Josh Duhamel, are excited to see an underrepresented, LGBTQA-centered story told on the big screen.

Hawley ’91 Debuts Documentary Film

Suki Hawley ’91 and RUMUR partners

Suki Hawley ’91 (center) with RUMUR partners.

Suki Hawley ’91, director and editor for the award-winning independent film studio RUMUR, is debuting the collaborative’s latest film in New York this week. The documentary, titled All the Rage, chronicles the work of renowned physician Dr. John Sarno and his radical methods for treating chronic pain. It will debut at Cinema Village in New York on Friday, June 23. A Q&A with directors and special guests will follow after every screening Friday (June 23), Saturday (June 24) and Sunday (June 25).

All the Rage comes at a critical time, when the epidemic of chronic pain is afflicting over 100 million Americans and millions more worldwide. Dr. Sarno, professor of rehabilitation medicine at the NYU School of Medicine and writer of four bestselling books on pain management, is considered a medical pioneer in the field for the connections he draws between his patients’ emotions and their pain. Despite backlash from the mainstream medical community, Sarno has spent 50 years developing his revolutionary treatment program. Some of his most notable patients include Larry David and Howard Stern, both of whom are featured in the film.

Tyrnauer ’91 Creates Film About Urban Activist Jane Jacobs

Matt Tyrnauer ’91

Matt Tyrnauer ’91

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer ’91 is the producer and director of Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, a new documentary about author and activist Jane Jacobs. Most famous for her influence on urban studies and urban planning, Jacobs’s legacy will be playing out on screens in nearly 20 cities across the country.

The documentary film chronicles her rise as a critical voice and visionary during the urbanization movement of the 1960s. Fighting to preserve urban communities against the threat of destructive redevelopment projects, Jacobs did much to influence modern understandings of urban environments and the American city.

Lame ’04 Discusses Film Editing Manchester by the Sea

Film editor Jennifer Lame ’04 spoke to the Los Angeles Times on her experience working on Manchester by the Sea, by Oscar-nominated director and writer, Kenneth Lonergan. The drama, starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, is about a man who returns to his hometown to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy’s father dies.

In the interview, Lame explained how one scene between the divorced main characters made her surprisingly emotional in the editing process. “I’ll never forget the day I got the Michelle and Casey scene,” said Lame. “Just watching raw dailies, I was crying. That’s never happened. That scene crushed me.”

Lame also reflected on her time at Wesleyan where she studied film. She said she fell in love with the editing process here, but struggled to find satisfying work until she landed a gig in 2007 as an apprentice editor on Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, directed by Sidney Lumet.

Feldstein ’15 Dubbed ‘Breakout’ for Neighbors 2

With Yahoo's Kevin Polowy, Beanie Feldstein ’15 dishes about behind the scenes in Neighbors 2 versus her real-life college experience.

With Yahoo’s Kevin Polowy, Beanie Feldstein ’15 dishes about behind the scenes in Neighbors 2, versus her real-life college experience.

“There is an entire neighborhood full of funny people in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” wrote Kevin Polowy, senior editor at Yahoo! Movies. “But some of the film’s biggest laughs belong to newcomer Beanie Feldstein, who makes her major-studio movie debut as the party-hearty sorority pledge Nora.”

Feldstein ’15, a Los Angeles, Calif. native and sociology major at Wesleyan has been acting on stage since she was 5, with “three to six musicals a year every singer year from 5 to 22,” ending last year with graduation.

She tells Yahoo that Neighbors 2 was not a typecasting situation: “My college experience was nothing like Nora’s. I was such a lame person. I had never done drugs. They had to teach me how to use a lighter, and how to inhale. That scene where I smoke weed in the movie was actually my first time smoking anything.”

Also invited to appear on the Conan O’Brien Show, Feldstein recalls more of her college career: four years as a tour guide. “My friends like to call me TGB—Tour Guide Beanie—and it’s an entirely different person than me. I’m already pretty peppy, but she’s on a whole other level. I could sell anything at that point—I mean Wesleyan’s really easy to sell; it’s a great place.”

Award-Winning Film by Grillo ’80 in Limited Release Feb. 26

Jack of the Red Hearts, a new film by director Janet Grillo ’80, will open in limited theatrical release on Feb. 26, 2016.

Jack of the Red Hearts, a new film by director Janet Grillo ’80, will open in limited theatrical release on Feb. 26.

Jack of the Red Hearts, a film by director and executive producer Janet Grillo ’80, depicts a family raising a child with autism, as did her first feature, Fly Away

This new work features Famke Janssen (of Taken and X-Men) and AnnaSophia Robb (Carrie Diaries and Soul Surfer). Jack of the Red Hearts has garnered 11 festival awards both in the United States and abroad including the jury award at the inaugural Bentonville Film Festival, co-founded by activist/actor Geena Davis, to promote women and diversity in filmmaking. Jack of the Red Hearts will open in limited theatrical release on Feb. 26, in 25 AMC theaters across the country. It will also air on LIFETIME during April, which is Autism Awareness month.

“As a filmmaker, I’m committed to exploring what it means to be human; our humor, pain, clarity and contradiction,” Grillo wrote in her director’s statement. “Movies, like life, can be hilarious and heart wrenching, in turn. When we explore and express ourselves with total candor, the truth shows up. It charms and alarms, entertains and moves us. My guiding principle in directing Jack of the Red Hearts has been authenticity … allowing the audience to become a ‘fly on the wall,’ entering the worlds and experience of these characters. Including the autistic child’s point of view, according to her neurological difference, illustrates that the ‘spectrum’ of her experience is related to our own.”

See the trailer here or on Facebook.

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Bay ’86 Directs New Film about 2012 Benghazi Events

David Denman, John Krasinski and Pablo Schreiber in 13 Hours. (Photo: Dion Beebe/Paramount Pictures)

David Denman, John Krasinski and Pablo Schreiber in 13 Hours. (Photo courtesy of Dion Beebe/Paramount Pictures)

Michael Bay ’86 has directed a new film 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (Paramount), which opened in U.S. theaters on Jan. 15. Based on the non-fiction book of the same name, the movie traces what happened Sept. 11–12, 2012, when terrorists attacked two Central Intelligence Agency compounds in Benghazi, Libya.

The film tracks six security operatives, most of them former military, who defended the diplomatic compound and nearby CIA annex. The cast includes James Badge Dale, John Krasinski, Max Martini, Toby Stephens, Pablo Schreiber, David Denman, Dominic Fumusa and Demetrius Grosse.

In his review in Slate, film critic David Ehlich writes: “Bay has stated that his intentions were simply to honor the heroism of the guys on the ground, and 13 Hours bears that out. The result … is one of the most politically astute films about America’s foreign politics in years ….”

In National Review, critic Stephen Miller also praises the film: “Audience members familiar with the director’s style will still appreciate all the hallmarks of a Michael Bay film present in 13 Hours. Witness the gritty close ups, muted slow motion, earth-rattling explosions, and long tracking shots of bombs and bullets that will draw direct comparisons to his previous work on The Rock and Bad Boys. … this is Bay’s most serious film to date. He does a good job of laying out exactly how and when the attacks took place at the consulate and later at the annex building. We never feel lost in the firefights.”

For featurettes and a trailer for 13 Hours, go to the director’s website.

Carpignano ’06 Awarded for His Debut Film

Jonas Carpignano '06 - Photo courtesy of the filmmaker

Jonas Carpignano ’06 (courtesy photo)

In his recently released debut film Mediterranea (IFC Films), director and writer Jonas Carpignano ’06 focuses on two friends from West Africa’s Burkina Faso (played by non-professional actors Koudous Seihon and Alassane Sy) who take a hazardous journey to Calabria, Italy, across the Mediterranean Sea, hoping to better their economic fortunes.

Carpignano recently received two awards for his work: the Independent Film Project’s Gotham Award for Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director and the Best Directorial Debut Award from the National Board of Review.

In his New York Times review of the film, Stephen Holden writes that Carpignano “has adopted a low-key neorealist style, using hand-held cameras that intensify its ground-level perspective. The character-driven film focuses on the day-to-day experiences of people struggling to find a foothold in a hostile land that throws up nearly insurmountable barriers to assimilation. … Mediterranea is impressive for the degree to which it lends its characters complex human dimensions and gives equal weight to everyone’s joys and frustrations.”

Carpignano was recently profiled in Interview magazine. His hometown is the East Bronx, N.Y. but he currently lives in Gioia Tauro, Calabria, Italy, where his feature film takes place.

“My knowledge of film as an art always came from Italy; it came from my grandfather,” he said. “I grew up on neorealism and the giallos—the Italian horror films. To me, that was the difference between film just being escapism and something being seen as an art. My grandfather instilled that in me.”

Garcia ’88 Leads Dwight Greene Symposium, Screens New Basketball Documentary

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World-renowned DJ, radio personality, streetball player and sneaker guru Robert ‘Bobbito’ Garcia ’88 led a movie screening and talkback during the 22nd Annual Dwight L. Greene Symposium, Sept. 26 in the Goldsmith Family Cinema. Garcia spoke about his journey to Wesleyan and beyond, in addition to sharing his award-winning independent documentary Doin’ it in the Park, which explores the history, culture, and social impact of New York’s summer basketball scene.

Shot at 180 courts in 75 days, the film covers a cross-section of players both professional and amateur, including Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Kenny Smith, “Pee Wee” Kirkland, “Fly” Williams, God Shammgod, Tim “Headache” Gittens, Corey “Homicide” Williams, Kenny Anderson, Jack Ryan, Richard “Crazy Legs” Colon, Niki Avery, Milani Malik, and the Park Pick-Up Players of New York City. The filmmakers traveled to most of the film locations by bicycle, carrying camera equipment and a basketball in their backpacks.

Shot at 180 courts in 75 days, the film covers a cross-section of players both professional and amateur, including Julius “Dr. J” Erving, Kenny Smith, “Pee Wee” Kirkland, “Fly” Williams, God Shammgod, Tim “Headache” Gittens, Corey “Homicide” Williams, Kenny Anderson, Jack Ryan, Richard “Crazy Legs” Colon, Niki Avery, Milani Malik, and the Park Pick-Up Players of New York City. The filmmakers traveled to most of the film locations by bicycle, carrying camera equipment and a basketball in their backpacks.

Richards ’69, Basinger Speak on Adapting Bridges of Madison County into a Film and Musical

On Saturday, May 24 at the Center for Film Studies, veteran Broadway producer Jeffrey Richards ’69 (All the Way, The Realistic Joneses, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill) and Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger spoke to a packed house about the different approaches in adapting the novel The Bridges of Madison County into a film, directed by Clint Eastwood Hon. ’00, and into a musical, which Richards recently co-produced on Broadway.

On May 24 at the Center for Film Studies, veteran Broadway producer Jeffrey Richards ’69 (All the Way, The Realistic Joneses, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill) and Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies Jeanine Basinger spoke to a packed house about the different approaches in adapting the novel The Bridges of Madison County into a film, directed by Clint Eastwood Hon. ’00, and into a musical, which Richards recently co-produced on Broadway. During the WESeminar, Richards discussed the difficulties of producing and marketing a show with a new musical score as opposed to a jukebox musical with familiar songs, which is popular show genre on Broadway these days. Richards also spoke about the influence of critics on the success of a play or a musical and the possibility of making money on a show on tour even if it doesn’t do well on Broadway.

David Low '76, associate director of publications; Marc Longenecker, technical and programming manager in film studies; Lea Carlson, associate director of film studies, and Lilly Holman '15 enjoyed the WESeminar with Jeffrey Richards '69 and Jeanine Basinger.

David Low ’76, associate director of publications; Marc Longenecker ’03, MA ’07, technical and programming manager in film studies; Lea Carlson, associate director of film studies, and Lilly Holman ’15 enjoyed the WESeminar with Jeffrey Richards ’69 and Jeanine Basinger.

Morrison ’96 Writes and Edits Romantic Comedy Film Hank and Asha

Juila Morrison '96 and James E. McDuff

Juila Morrison ’96 and James Duff

Julia Morrison ’96 has co-produced, co-written and edited a new film, Hank and Asha (website), which opened at the City Cinemas Village East Theater New York City last weekend and will run at the Laemmle NoHo 7 Theater in Los Angeles from April 18–24. This lovely romantic comedy about identity, longing, and the irresistible appeal of entertaining life’s what-ifs was co-written and directed by James Duff, who is also Morrison’s husband.

In the film, an Indian woman (Mahira Kakkar) studying in Prague and a lonely Southerner (Andrew Pastides) living in New York begin an unconventional correspondence through video letters—two strangers searching for human connection in a hyper-connected world. When their relationship develops, they must decide whether or not to meet face to face.

Andrew Pastides in "Hank and Asha"

Andrew Pastides in “Hank and Asha”

Hank and Asha premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. Since then it has screened at more than 25 festivals worldwide, and has won 11 awards.

In his New York Times review, Nicolas Rapold writes: “A rare sustained epistolary romance, … this winsome, whisper-thin tale shimmers along with the charming urge to connect and reveal yourself that links its two correspondents. … this is a movie by people who honor the pleasures of waiting, wondering and longing in an instantaneous world.”

 

Mahira Kakkar in "Hank and Asha"

Mahira Kakkar in “Hank and Asha”

NPR interview with Julia Morrison and James E. Duff

Hank and Asha on Facebook
Twitter: @HankandAsha

YouTube Preview Image

 

Poliner ’97 Completes First Feature Film

Dan Poliner '97.

Dan Poliner ’97.

Dan Poliner ’97 released his debut feature-length film “Jack, Jules, Esther & Me” in October 2013 at the Austin Film Festival. It’s about four friends living in NYC — two rich and two poor — during their final week of summer before leaving for college. It’s a wacky comedy, a romantic comedy and an examination of the differing paths presented to those who have money, and those who don’t.

Much of the music in the film was provided by the band Peace Museum, which Casey Feldman ’12 formed on campus.

Jack, Jules, Esther & Me.

Jack, Jules, Esther & Me.

“I believe all the music was recorded while they were at Wesleyan,” Poliner said.

Poliner was a history, government and theater major, and he grew up just down the road in Durham, Conn. After graduation, he attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where he received his MFA in Dramatic Writing.

His previous short films include “Right Foot, Left Foot,” “The Bar Mitzvah Club,” “The Campaign” and “The Year of Sublets.”

In a recent interview with “The Daily Quirk,” he offered some advice to aspiring filmmakers.

“Be prolific,” he said. “Be willing to fail often. The more quickly you work the more quickly you’re able to turn it around. Whatever crew you have, whatever actors you have access to, the easier it will be for you to learn.”

Watch “Jack, Jules, Esther & Me” right now on Amazon Instant Video or iTunes, as well as streaming through cable companies including Time Warner, Comcast, Cox Cable (just search for it on your provider to see if they carry it).