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Narrative Competition (Features)

THIS IS NOT A BURIAL, IT'S A RESURRECTION

2020 Sarasota Film Festival

In a small village nestled amongst the mountains of land-locked Lesotho, an 80 year old widow awaits the return of her only surviving family member: her son, a migrant worker labouring in a South African coal mine. It is Christmas and he is due home. Sombre messengers deliver the news: her son has died in a mining accident. Distraught by the sudden news of his untimely death, Mantoa struggles to find meaning in her existence.

An invisible wall of bewilderment arises and stands between Mantoa and the outside world. God, the village, and reality too, appear further and further away. Consumed by grief, her yearning for death and reuniting with her family steadily grows. She yearns to be laid to rest in the local cemetery with her loved ones.

Mantoa winds up her affairs early and makes arrangements for her own burial. Her plans are punctuated when she learns that the village is to be forcibly resettled due to the construction of a dam reservoir. The land will be flooded and the cemetery desecrated. Mantoa’s resolve is unwavering; igniting a collective spirit of defiance within the community. In the final dramatic moments of her life, Mantoa’s legend is forged and made eternal.

Fourteen

2020 Sarasota Film Festival

Mara and Jo, in their twenties, have been close friends since middle school. Jo, the more outgoing figure, is a social worker who runs through a series of brief but intense relationships. Mara, a less splashy personality than Jo, bounces among teacher aide jobs while trying to land a position in elementary education, and writes fiction in her spare time. She too has a transient romantic life, though she seems to settle down after meeting Adam, a mild-mannered software developer. It soon becomes apparent that Jo, despite her intellectual gifts, is unreliable in her professional life, losing and acquiring jobs at a troubling rate. Substance abuse may be responsible for Jo’s instability… but some observers suspect a deeper problem. Over the course of a decade, the more stable Mara sometimes tries to help, sometimes backs away to preserve herself, but never leaves behind her powerful childhood connection with Jo.

Anne At 13,000 FT

2020 Sarasota Film Festival

Anne hasn’t been the same since the jump. While skydiving for her best friend Sara’s bachelorette party, the 27-year-old felt focused, free, above it all. Back on the ground, the pressures of her daily life threaten to overwhelm her. Her coworkers at the daycare center are constantly questioning the way she connects with the children. At Sara’s wedding, she meets a nice guy named Matt, but she can’t help bringing him into ever-more-awkward social situations. As the stressful circumstances mount, Anne prepares for another jump.

An electrifying pairing of two of the brightest young stars in cinema in director Kazik Radwanski (Tower, How Heavy This Hammer) and rising talent Deragh Campbell (I Used to Be Darker), Anne at 13,000 ft reveals a director and star in perfect synch. From a rip-roaring skydive to moments of quiet reverie, Radwanski captures Anne’s experience with an unflinching directness, a volatile mix of Dardenne brothers immediacy and Cassavetes naturalism. And yet even from this privileged vantage point, it’s impossible to predict what Anne will do next.

Freeland

2020 Sarasota Film Festival

Devi has been breeding legendary pot strains for decades, farming by day and getting stoned by night, fully expecting to live out her days on the remote homestead she built herself. But when cannabis is legalized, the fragile balance of her whole idyllic life is

thrown into disarray. Forced to confront the rapidly changing realities of the weed industry, she fights to go legal in an increasingly hostile landscape that is threatening her whole livelihood. In tour-de-force performance, Krisha Fairchild (Devi) brings the timely, real-world story of black-market growers battling to survive to the screen. Featuring a heart-breaking turn by John Craven as an old flame from Devi’s commune days, and Frank Mosley and Lily Gladstone as young workers adrift and bringing in the harvest, the film is full of standout performances that bring this very real community of fiercely independent characters to life. Set against the lush backdrop of the redwood forests of Northern California, Mario Furloni’s breathtaking cinematography pulls us into this isolated community in Humboldt County, the mythical birthplace of weed. Shot on off-the-grid pot farms during the actual harvest, directors Mario Furloni and Kate McLean masterfully bring their skills as documentarians to the forefront in making their first fictional feature, imbuing this quiet and emotional thriller with a deep and empathetic authenticity, layered throughout with a ravishing score by William Ryan Fritch and captivating sound design by Peter Albrechtsen. Deftly edited by Chris Donlon and Sara Newens.

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