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Greenwich International Film Festival 2019: Film Highlights

Greenwich International Film Festival 2019
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Brian Banks and Debra Argen - photo by Luxury Experience The Greenwich International Film Festival (GIFF) has introduced us to amazing films each year, and for GIFF’s 5th anniversary in 2019, the selection of films was astounding – 58 films with 38 of them having Q&A with cast, crew and subjects representing them presented from May 29 – June 2, 2019. There were only a few days, and so many great films, however we watched as many as we could. We are delighted to bring you a few of the many film highlights we saw. Watch your theaters’ websites for the release of these exceptional films.


For the GIFF 2019, the film juries selected 58 remarkable films from 350 entries. Truly an international film festival, there were films at the festival from Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Macedonia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Sweden, UK, Uruguay, USA, and Wales.

What made the festival so special though was not only the number of film screenings, panels and parties, it was also the ability to interact with the directors, screenwriters, producers, actors, and subjects represented that made the GIFF2019 film experience come to life.

Although we could not see all the films screened during the festival, we are delighted to share some of the highlights from the films that saw.

Film Highlights – Narrative Films

Auggie (USA): Sci-Fi Drama, Director Matt Kane, Key Cast Richard Kind and Susan Blackwell. After a lifetime of working as a sought-after architect, Ricard Kind is ousted from his company with an unexpected early retirement. With nothing to do, he decides to try his retirement gift of a special pair of technologically designed glasses that provide him with an augmented reality companion. When his dependency on "Auggie" his augmented friend interferes with reality, he is faced with a life-changing experience. This Sci-Fi drama is an interesting look at how technology has layered itself into our lives. There was a Q & after the film with Matt Kane, Marc Underhill, Susan Blackwell, and moderator Shari Angel.

Auggie - Q&A with Shari Angel, Marc Underhill, Matt Kane, Susan Blakwell - photo by Luury Experience
Auggie Q&A with
Shari Angel, Matt Kane, Marc Underhill, and Susan Blackwell

Brian Banks (USA): Drama, Director Tom Shadyac, Key Cast Aldis Hodge as Brian Banks, and Greg Kinnear as Justin Brooks. Brian Banks had everything going for him at the age of 16. A top high school football talent, USC was knocking, and Brian was ready to open the door, that is until he was wrongly convicted of a crime he did not commit. This inspirational film is about the life of Brian Banks, who was railroaded through the court system to a decade of prison and probation. With the help of Justin Brooks (played by Greg Kinnear) and the California Innocence Project, Brian worked to clear his name, regain his life, and play in the NFL. It is a film that will leave you cheering for Brian. There is a wonderful quote in the film, "All you control in life is how you respond to life." It was this quote and a book entitled, As A Man Thinketh that helped Brian Banks survive his time in prison and is how he lives his life today. Brian Banks has a book coming out on July 2, 2019 entitled, What Set Me Free.The film, Brian Banks, hits theatres on August 9, 2019.

Colleen deVeer, Brain Banks, Wendys Stapleton - GIFF 2019 - photo by Luxury Experience
co-Founder Colleen deVeer, Brian Banks and
co-Founder Wendy Stapleton

Watch the video of Q&A with Brian Banks and moderator Claire Haft after the film – https://youtu.be/OA2RP_ESGxo

Brian Banks and Debra C. Argen - photo by Luxury Experience
Brian Banks and Debra C. Argen

Brittany Runs A Marathon (USA): Drama, Director/Screenwriter: Paul Downs Colaizzo, Key Cast Jillian Bell as Brittany. This was the opening night film of the GIFF 2019. Brittany is a young woman living on the edge in New York. Out of shape, underemployed, Brittany is the ultimate big-city party-girl with lots of adventures and limited romantic potentials on the horizon. When she goes to see a doctor in the hopes of scoring some prescription drugs, she learns that she needs to drastically lose weight and take better care of herself. She begins by walking, then running with friends, and ultimately training to run in the New York City Marathon. Over the course of her training, she not only loses weight, she also makes real friends and discovers her inner strength, beauty and self-respect.

Brittany Runs a Marathon Q&A - Debra C. Argen and Paul Downs Colaizzo - photo by Luxury Experience
Debra C. Argen with Director/Screenwriter Paul Downs Colaizzo

Watch the video of Q&A with GIFF Co-Founder and Director of Programming Colleen deVeer, Programmer Shari Angel, and Director/Screenwriter Paul Downs Colaizzo – https://youtu.be/1VswH1_FpvI

Ms. White Light (USA): Comedy/Drama, Director/Screenwriter Paul Shoulberg, Key Cast Judith Light, Roberta Colindrez, John Ortiz, Carson Meyer, and Zachary Spicer. Lex Cordova (Roberta Colindrez) and her father Gary (John Ortiz) have a very unusual business, helping terminal patients in their final days. Lex does what the patients’ families cannot, she sits with the dying and helps comfort them. Lex is brilliant at connecting and comforting the dying, it is the living that she has trouble making a connection with, that is until she meets patient Valerie (Judith Light). Through Valerie and Spencer (Zachary Spicer) a spiritual medium, Lex finally confronts her own past and problems. There was a Q & A after the filmwith Producer/Actor Zachary Spicer moderated by Bears Rebecca Fonte.

Ms White Light - Q&A with Debra C. Argen  and Zachary Spicer - photo by Luxury Experience
Debra C. Argen and Producer/Actor Zachary Spicer

Then Came You (USA/UK): Drama, Director Adrianna Trigiani, Key Cast Kathie Lee Gifford and Craig Ferguson. The stunning Kathie Lee showed her amazing talent as a screenwriter, singer-songwriter, and actor in this film, (she is also a playwright, author, and was an amazing television talk show host, to name but a few of her long line of achievements), and Craig Ferguson was knock-down gorgeous with his Scottish accent, and the owner of a castle turned inn, in this wonderful film about a widow named Annabelle (Kathie Lee Gifford) who istired of staying at home and mourning her late husband and decides she must move on or die, and sets out to pursue the world, (carrying his ashes in a box), to the cities of their favorite films. Set in the lush highlands of Scotland, the scenery alone wins high marks, while the chemistry of Annabelle and Howard (Craig Ferguson) lights up the screen. The film is brilliantly written and balanced with moments of sadness, wit, wisdom, romance,and laugh-out-loud humor that deserves to be watched many times.

Adrianna Trigani, Collen deVeer, Wendy Stapleton, Kathie Lee Gifford, Ginger Stickel - GIFF 2019 - photo by Luxury Experience
Adrianna Trigiani,
GIFF co-Founders Colleen deVeer and Wendy Stapleton,
Kathie Lee Gifford, Ginger Stickel, COO GIFF

Watch the Q&A with Kathie Lee Gifford and Director Adrianna Trigiani, where they noted that there are 4 more Annabelle and Howard films coming in this series starring the fabulously likeable pair (Gifford and Ferguson) – https://youtu.be/ozDMy98bm1M

Wild Rose (UK): Comedy/Drama/Music: Director Tom Harper, Key Cast Jessie Buckley, Julie Walters, and Sophie Okonedo. Rose (Jessie Buckley) dreams of being a Country singer in Nashville, Tennessee, however she lives in Glasgow, Scotland, a far-cry from the storied Grand Ole Opry in the USA. Rose, a talented mid-20s singer and a rebel with a past (prison) and 2 small-children, dreams large of going to Nashville and hitting it big while her mother (Julie Walters) constantly reminds her that she needs to take responsibility for her life and those of her children. Dreams versus reality play a key part in her decision.

Documentary Films

I Want My MTV (USA): Directors/Screenwriters: Tyler Meason and Patrick Waldrop. When MTV first hit the television waves in the United States on August 1981, people had no idea what to make of it; it was hip, it was trendy, it was unique, and musically, it was over-the-top with its then revolutionary music videos and wacky interviews with the bands by cool V-Js (Video-Jockeys). The film brilliantly tells the tale of how this rebel program came up through the ranks. There was a Q & A after the film moderated by Mark Lindsay.

I Want My MTV - Q&A - Mark Lindsay and Tyler Maeson - photo by Luxury Experience
Mark Lindsay and Director/Screenwriter Tyler Meason

Documentary Shorts Program Highlights

We saw two very inspirational documentary shorts, Against The Wall and Grateful– The Jenni Berebitsky Story.

Against The Wall (USA): Director Kyle Saylors. When Kevin Foster was 8 years old, he was electrocuted by lightning losing his ability to walk and talk. For the next 4 years he was confined to a wheelchair. Born with perseverance, grit,and sheer determination, he not only learned to walk and talk, but spent the next twelve years learning how to run and overcome obstacles, becoming an extreme adventurer and inspiration to many facing difficulties in their ownlife. The word "no" does not exist for Kevin as shown in the film, Against The Wall about Kevin’s epic journey of riding a bicycle all 2,200 miles of the Great Wall in China. The journey is fraught with challenges, yet Kevin’s determination drives him on to conquer his childhood goal.

Against the Wall - Kevin Foster and Director Kyle Saylors - photo by Luxury Experience
Kevin Foster and Director Kyle Saylors

Grateful- The Jenni Berebitsky Story (USA: Director Paul Nethercott. Grateful is the inspiring story about the life of Dr. Jenni Kleinman Berebitsky, a remarkable woman, wife, and mother, who was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 33 and only given 18-24 months to live. Jenni’s strong spirit has driven her for the past 10 years, courageously facing each day’s new challenges and living her life to the fullest even within the confines of the disease of ALS, with humor and wisdom. It is a movie that not only is a "must see" it a film that will make you a Jenni cheerleader.

Grateful - The Jenni Berebitsky Story -Joyce Kleinman, Paul Nethercott, Amy Pauszek - photo by Luxury Experience
Joyce Kleinman, Paul Nethercott, Amy Pauszek

There wasa Q & A after the films with Paul Nethercott, Joyce Kleinman, Amy Pauszek, Kevin Foster, Kyle Saylors, and other Documentary Short filmmakers, moderated by Bears Rebecca Fonte.

Until next time, keep enjoying and supporting the arts!

Read an interview, in Luxury Experience Performance section, with GIFF Co-Founder Wendy Stapleton, GIFF Co-Founder ColleendeVeer, GIFF Executive Director Ginger Stickel, and 2019 GIFF Changemaker Honoree Bobby Walker, Jr. CEO of the Greenwich Boys & Girls Club: Greenwich International Film Festival 2019.

Edward F. Nesta - Greenwich Internatinal Film Festival 2019 - photo by Luxury Experience
See you at GIFF 2020!

Read more about the Greenwich International Film Festival 2019 in the Performances section.

For more information and tickets for the next Greenwich International Film Festival, please visit the website: www.Greenwichfilm.org

Greenwith International Film Festival 2019

Greenwich International Film Festival
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Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
United States
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