HIFF25: Competition Feature Slate Announced

Discover thrilling new talent in our prestigious Competition section. Each year, the HIFF Awards honor emerging narrative and documentary directors from around the world, representing cinema’s next generation of innovative film artists.

HIFF25 COMPETITION: Documentary Features

The winning Documentary Feature receives a $3,000 cash prize as well as a film production package of in-kind goods and services

11/18/16

11.8.16 650World Premiere | Curator/Producer: Jeff Deutchman
On the day of the 2016 presidential election, filmmaker Jeff Deutchman surveys the thoughts and feelings of ordinary Americans as they head to the ballot box. Told in brief vignettes from across the country and focusing on voters from every side of the political spectrum—ranging from a Sikh man and his family in New York City to a coal miner in West Virginia—the film humanizes the electorate in an age of sweeping generalizations. In its panoramic form and disparate viewpoints, 11/8/16 provides a necessary counterpoint that finds moments of common humanity within a seemingly unbridgeable divide.

THE CHINA HUSTLE

China Hustle 650U.S. Premiere | Director: Jed Rothstein
In the midst of the 2008 market crash, investors on the fringes of the financial world feverishly sought new alternatives for high-return investments in the global markets. With Chinese indexes demonstrating explosive growth, the country suddenly emerged as a gold rush opportunity with one caveat: US investors were prohibited from investing directly into the country’s market. Makeshift solutions led to a market frenzy, until one investor discovered the massive web of fraud left in its wake. Jed Rothstein’s documentary rings the the alarm on the need for transparency in an increasingly deregulated financial world by following those working to uncover the biggest heist you’ve never heard of.

LOTS OF KIDS, A MONKEY AND A CASTLE

Lots of Kids Monkey Castle 650New York Premiere | Director: Gustavo Salmerón
Julita Salmerón’s biggest wishes in life were to have lots of children and a pet monkey, and to live in a castle. Gustavo Salmerón’s humorously candid film follows his mother, and the rest of their family, as they rummage through the vast family archive over a period of fifteen years. She reflects on the dreams she managed to fulfill, along with the lingering effects of the economic crisis that forced her to almost lose it all. Filled with moments of warmth and sincerity, LOTS OF KIDS, A MONKEY, AND A CASTLE is a touching documentary about an eccentric, otherworldly family facing up to the harsh economic realities of living in contemporary Spain.

LOVE MEANS ZERO

Love Means Zero 650New York Premiere | Director: Jason Kohn
With his notorious no-nonsense approach to coaching, Nick Bollettieri is regarded as controversial figure in the world of tennis—but also, crucially, as a mentor with the know-how to push players to greatness. Director Jason Kohn balances the pointed questions to his subject, who remains intransigent throughout, with interviews with many of Bollettieri’s students—Boris Becker and Jim Courier among them—to shed light on the enigmatic figure. What emerges is a story of a coach fiercely determined to win at all costs, and a compelling look at what it takes to compete at the highest level.

MOUNTAIN

Mountain 650U.S. Premiere | Director: Jennifer Peedom
Narrated by Willem Dafoe, MOUNTAIN takes the viewer on a sweeping journey to the most awe-inspiring summits on earth. A collaboration between BAFTA-nominated director Jennifer Peedom and Richard Tognetti’s Australian Chamber Orchestra, the film glorifies our species’ pursuit of peril: from ice climbers, snowboarders, and wing-suiters, the thrill-seekers’ daredevil antics will leave audiences gasping for breath. Filmed in 15 countries and assembled from 2,000 hours of hypnotizing footage, MOUNTAIN is a beautifully scored and visually stunning work that vividly captures the fear and reverence inspired by the world’s highest peaks.

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HIFF 25 COMPETITION: Narrative Feature

The winning Narrative Feature Film receives a $3,000 cash prize as well as a film production package of in-kind goods and services.

DISAPPEARANCE

U.S. Premiere | Director: Ali Asgari
Rising Iranian filmmaker Ali Asgari, whose short film THE SILENCE took home the Best Narrative Short Competition prize at HIFF 2016, returns to the festival with his mesmerizing feature debut. Set against the backdrop of contemporary Iranian society, where conservative traditions often conflict with modern desires, DISAPPEARANCE is the tale of one couple’s race against time to solve an unsolvable problem over the course of one endlessly long night. Featuring outstanding performances from newcomers Sadaf Asgari and Reza Ranjbaran, and an impressively assured stylistic touch, DISAPPEARANCE establishes Asgari as one of the bold new voices in world cinema.

Oh, LUCY!

Oh Lucy! 650U.S. Premiere | Atsuko Hirayanagi
In this offbeat tale, OH LUCY! follows Setsuko Kawashima (Shinobu Terajima)—a lonely, chain-smoking introvert who is wasting away at her office job in Tokyo. Setsuko’s world is turned upside down when she meets a charismatic English teacher, John (Josh Hartnett), who draws her out of her shell with the help of a blond wig and the promise of a bold new identity. When John abruptly departs for Southern California, the newly emboldened “Lucy” sets out to find him on a life-altering journey of self-discovery. Based on her award-winning short film, Atsuko Hirayanagi’s charming directorial debut explores the transformative power of individualism.

SUMMER 1993

Summer 1993 650New York Premiere | Director: Carla Simón
Following the death of her parents in Barcelona, six-year-old Frida (the haunting Laia Artigas) is sent to her uncle’s (David Verdaguer) picturesque countryside home, in Carla Simon’s autobiographical feature debut SUMMER 1993. Frida battles with a sense of loneliness and displacement while also yearning to fit into the picture with her new family. Punctuated by moments of youthful exuberance and mature ruminations, this coming-of-age drama, set amongst summery hues, is an extraordinarily moving snapshot of being a child in an adult world, anchored by a flawless performance by its young star.

THOROUGHBREDS

East Coast Premiere | Director: Cory Finley
Two wealthy teenage girls with violent impulses seek to inject excitement into their boring suburban lives in THOROUGHBREDS, Cory Finley’s deliciously twisted filmmaking debut. When Lily’s (Anya Taylor Joy, THE WITCH) stepfather threatens to send the troubled teen off to reform school, she recruits her equally unstable childhood friend, Amanda (Olivia Cooke, ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL), in a dangerous plot that serves both of their interests. Featuring electrifying performances from its young leads—including the late Anton Yelchin, in his final appearance—this stylish neo-noir establishes newcomer Finley as a filmmaker to watch.

UNDER THE TREE

Under the Tree 650East Coast Premiere | Director: Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson
“Love thy neighbor” does not apply in the Iceland suburbs of UNDER THE TREE. After his wife kicks him out of the house, Atli (Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson) stays with his parents—just as the passive aggressive hostility with their neighbors is ramping up over a large tree in the yard. Director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson establishes character dynamics with jabs to the gut and enough dark humor to quell the uneasiness in your stomach. With a moody score and sound design that sways between the tension and release of the scenes, you may find yourself nervously laughing the next time you want to talk to your neighbors about the noise.

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