NEW YORK, NY (May 5, 2015) - The Greenwich International Film Festival (GIFF) announced today its inaugural film selections, alongside their panel program, jurors and special events. The very first Greenwich International Film Festival will take place from June 4 to June 7 in Greenwich, CT.  


The Festival will feature 31 films, consisting of 5 narrative shorts, 4 documentary shorts, 10 narrative features, 5 documentary features,and 6 special screenings.  As previously announced, Colin Hanks’ documentary ALL THINGS MUST PASS will screen on Opening Night on June 5th, with an Opening Night Party to follow.


“We are so proud of our Year One slate," said GIFF founders Carina Crain, Colleen deVeer and Wendy Reyes.  “The diversity of the films and filmmakers really illustrate what we are trying to do with GIFF--bringing in as many perspectives as possible and sharing those with our community.”


Additionally, the Festival will offer a series of panels covering television, sports, female filmmaking and, of course, film finance with names like Mark Teixeira, Alysia Reiner, Allan Houston, producer Cary Woods, ESPN’s Mike Greenberg, Producer Rachel Winter and Terence Winter (Creator, “Boardwalk Empire”).  


Further, the Festival features special events including: the Changemaker Gala, the Spotlight On event, the Opening Night Film and Party and an Awards Ceremony.  On Saturday, June 6, longtime UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Harry Belafonte and Mia Farrow will be named as the inaugural Changemaker Honorees at a Gala. The event will be emceed by Kathie Lee Gifford. 


“We are so excited about our special events and panel program," said Crain, deVeer and Reyes.  “They are designed with our audience in mind. The breadth of disciplines covered by the entertainment professionals participating will ensure lively discussions. We look forward to creating many memorable moments this year."




As previously announced, GIFF’s mission is to harness the power of film to serve the greater good and the Festival has partnered with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to support  OneMinutesJr.   The OneMinutesJr. workshop is an international, arts-based initiative that works closely with local UNICEF offices to teach children and young people, especially those who are underprivileged and marginalized, basic camera and directing skills, story-telling, teamwork and how to think creatively about issues that affect their lives.  The participants develop their own stories based on the workshop theme to produce a sixty-second video.  OneMinutesJr.equips these young filmmakers with the fundamental skills of self-expression and gives them a chance to make their voices heard. 



The first-ever GIFF Film lineup is as follows:



Dirty Laundry Day, directed by Jamil Lahham (USA).  The lively routines of George Carlin and Bill Hicks are brought to vivid, wordless life in this animated short that packs a surprisingly vivid political and social message.


Grounded (Foreign Title: Au sol), directed by Alexis Michalik (France).  Human struggles and corporate protocol intersect at an international airport, resulting in a greater understanding of what makes people operate..


I’ve Just Had a Dream, directed by Javi Navarro (Spain).  Two girls. Two cultures. Two visions. A dream.


Load (Foreign Title: ???), directed by Niv Shpigel and Robert Moreno (Israel).  A collision of the natural and the technological blur the distinctions between reality and imagination for an elderly man afloat at sea.


Mother’s Day, directed by Nico Raineau (USA).  When faced with responsibilities she wasn’t at all ready for, an aimless woman learns that a young person’s perspective can change your outlook in a significant way.



Coaching Colburn, directed by Jeff Bemiss and Trinity College Filmmakers (USA).  James Colburn’s disabilities present many challenges, but the strength of his spirit and the support of loved ones creates amazing new possibilities.


Directed by Tweedie, directed by Duncan Cowles (Scotland/UK).  88 years into his life, a man takes it upon himself to become a filmmaker. The results are equally wondrous and baffling.


Santa Cruz del Islote, directed by Luke Lorentzen (USA/Columbia).  An intimate, sensory-heavy look into the lives of fishers and the community that depends on them.


Shipwreck, directed by Morgan Knibbe (Netherlands).  A community mourns the loss of life from a shipwreck. Amidst this inconceivable pain is the hint that life will continue.



7 Minutes, written and directed by Jay Martin (USA).  An aborted drug deal leads three desperate, down-on-their-luck high school buddies to hatch an ill-advised bank robbery in order to pay back a menacing drug lord in this taut, fast-paced thriller. Through clever cross-cutting, frenetic camera work and powerful performances from Jason Ritter, Kris Kristofferson and Leven Rambin, among others,“7 Minutes” cobbles together a tense, emotionally wrought narrative that keeps the viewer guessing until the final frame.


40-Love (Foreign Title: Terre battue), directed by Stéphane Demoustier (France/Belgium). We’ve all heard the story of the child with athletic promise whose parents push him to the breaking point, but “40-Love” presents us with the vastly different story of Ugo, a, 11-year-old tennis prodigy whose parents’ lackluster and disengaged sentiment makes him push himself to the breaking point to prove his talent and worth. Stephane Demoustiere’s psychological portrait of a down-on-his-luck father and his gifted son is thrilling from beginning to match point. 


Between 10 and 12, (Foreign Title: Tussen 10 en 12), written and directed by Peter Hoogendoorn (Netherlands).  Closely and intimately following two hours in the life of a family as they are informed of a loved one’s tragic death, “Between 10 and 12” faces harsh realities deliberately and with quiet emotion. This film will make you appreciate simplicity and silence for the inexplicable and boundless tension it creates and will astonish you with its rich composition and the honesty of its performances. Based on true events from first-time writer/director Peter Hoogendoorn’s life, the film delivers heartbreak and honesty in equal measure.


Jane Wants a Boyfriend, directed by William Sullivan (USA).  Jane is a talented, ambitious young costume designer with Asperger’s Syndrome who enlists the help of her sister, Bianca (Eliza Dushku, Bring It On) to help her find her first boyfriend. After she is unexpectedly courted one night by Bianca’s aimless friend Jack, Jane finds her attempts to pursue her much sought after relationship thwarted by her well-meaning but overprotective older sister. Treading familiar territory with a surprisingly fresh and sensitive perspective, filmmaker William Sullivan tracks Jane’s everyday challenges as a woman on the autism spectrum while deftly exploring her complex relationship with her loving sister.


Night Owls, directed by Charles Hood (USA).  A drunken one night stand goes downhill quickly when workaholic Kevin discovers that his one-time paramour Madeline is actually the jilted, vengeful mistress of his highly revered boss.  To make matters worse, Madeline stages a dramatic, post-coital suicide attempt as a misguided play at revenge, and Kevin is forced to spend the rest of his night keeping her from falling asleep. adam Featuring two star-making performances from its enigmatic leads, “Night Owls” is a darkly comic masterpiece from emerging writer/director Charles Hood. 


Summer of Sangaile, written and directed by Alanté Kavaïté (Lithuania, France, Netherlands).  Mixing a tender, same-sex coming-of-age romance with the unique thrills of aviation, “Summer of Sangaile” plays like a melodrama-tinged, Lithuanian spin on Howard Hawks’ “Only Angels Have Wings.” Powered by razor-sharp compositions from writer/director Alanté Kavaïté (who snagged the Best Directing Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival), beautiful locations, and brave turns by Aiste Dirziute and Julija Steponaityte, viewers will be wishing to see this again and again.


Uncle John, written and directed by Steven Piet (USA). Opening with a brutal and mysterious murder, “Uncle John” rapidly develops into an intriguing hybrid of crime drama and romantic comedy. At the center of the former is the eponymous Uncle John, laconic and mild-mannered, though full of dark secrets, while the latter revolves around John’s nephew, Ben, navigating the awkwardness of a budding office romance. Inevitably these stories converge, although in original and unexpected ways, culminating in a chilling denouement in this technically assured, tight and atmospheric filmmaking debut.


Victoria (Foreign Title: Eins Zwei Fünf Acht), directed by Sebastian Schipper (Germany).  Shot in a single, pulse-pounding take in Berlin, “Victoria” is a masterful feat of filmmaking ingenuity as well as a thrilling, action-packed bank heist film in its own right. Weaving through the sleepy city streets in the early morning hours, the camera follows the titular Victoria, a beautiful young Spanish girl who meets a group of young local thugs at an underground club. What starts off as a relatively innocent courtship between Victoria and one of the guys quickly evolves into a tense, nail-biting crime drama, as our naive but game protagonist gets drawn into a rapidly escalating series of illicit activities.


WildLike, written and directed by Frank Hall Green (USA).  Intimate and emotionally resonant, “WildLike” often brings to mind visions of a smaller, lower-key Wild—but this vivid, thorough exploration of a young woman’s bumpy and sometimes shocking path to self-discovery defiantly carves its own path. Along with an abundance of beautiful location work, the film is anchored by a breakthrough turn from alluring newcomer Ella Purnell and a complex performance by veteran Bruce Greenwood. 


Zurich (Foreign Title: Und morgen mittag bin ich tot), directed by Frederik Steiner (Germany).  Through sensitive direction and emotionally wrought storytelling, emerging filmmaker Frederik Steiner draws us head-first into the messy, complicated, and ultimately cathartic story of a young girl afflicted with cystic fibrosis who seeks to die with dignity. Bolstered by an entrancing breakout performance from Liv Lisa Fries, “Zurich” is unlike any film about terminal illness you've already seen.



3 and 1/2 Minutes (USA) directed by Marc Silver and winner of this year's US Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact at Sundance, “3 and 1/2 Minutes” is a taut, well-crafted recounting of the tragic and senseless murder of African American teenager Jordan Davis at the hands of white, middle-aged Michael Dunn. Cross-cutting between Dunn's emotionally-wrought trial and interviews with Davis' family and friends, the film delivers a potent commentary on Florida's Stand Your Ground self-defense laws and the cycle of violence in America while intimately exploring the lives of those personally involved in the incident.


Landfill Harmonic, directed by Brad Allgood and Graham Townsley (USA, Paraguay, Brazil, Norway). Globally, our planet generates approximately 1 billion tons of it a year, and the people of Cateura, Paraguay, who live amid a vast landfill, are surrounded by it constantly. With the help and encouragement of an inspirational teacher and a skillful craftsman who fashions instruments out of garbage, a symphony of its children have banded together to make beauty out of the massive heaps of trash they live in. Beautifully shot and inspirational, “Landfill Harmonic” is a feel-good family film that will make you appreciate the gift of music.


The Russian Woodpecker (Foreign Title: Orosz harkály), directed by Chad Gracia (UK, USA).  Fedor Alexandrovich, an idiosyncratic Ukrainian artist, possesses an incendiary and dangerous conspiracy theory: far from a careless mistake, he believes the catastrophic Chernobyl Disaster of 1986 was actually an elaborate government cover-up designed to mask a failed 8 billion ruble antennae (known as the "Russian Woodpecker") near the radioactive site intended to interfere with western radio frequencies. Rich with Soviet history and the stories of Chernobyl's former citizens, this documentary chronicles the history behind one of the most chilling events of our time as well as Alexandrovich's thrilling attempts to spread the word of his theory. Russian with English Subtitles.


Tiger Tiger, directed by George Butler (USA).  Deftly navigating through the exotic and treacherous Sunderbands, an expansive mangrove forest bordering India and Bangladesh, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, one of the top big cat biologists in the world, risks his life tracking tigers. Following closely behind is legendary filmmaker George Butler (Pumping Iron), documenting Rabinowitz’s latest (and potentially last, due to a recent diagnosis of terminal cancer) endeavor to halt the rapid, global extinction of the majestic cats. Intimate and riveting, Tiger Tiger is a compelling story of one man’s impossible quest to save a species.


Vaclav Havel: Living in Freedom (Foreign Title: Zivot podle Vaclava Havla), written and directed by Andrea Sedlackova (Czech Republic/France).  Think the life of a deceased Czech intellectual, writer, and politician can’t have the urgency of a modern-day political thriller? Think again. “Václav Havel: Living in Freedom” propels its viewers forward with an uncanny level of insight into the enigmatic world of social life in the Soviet Union by anchoring its focus on the life of one of its greatest figures.



I Smile Back, directed by Adam Salky (USA).  In an emotionally-wrought departure from her career-defining comedic roles, Sarah Silverman plays Laney Brooks, a suburban homemaker with a doting husband (Josh Charles, “The Good Wife”) and two healthy, beautiful children. But her struggles with mental illness and the demons of her past send her spiraling downward into drug addiction and extramarital affairs, threatening to upend everything she holds dear. The first narrative feature from director Adam Salky, “I Smile Back” is a psychological drama that examines one woman’s harrowing descent into chaos, and her desperate attempts to put her life back together.


The Keeping Room, directed by Daniel Barber (USA). A gut-punching, Civil War-era feminist manifesto from acclaimed director Daniel Barber (Harry Brown), “The Keeping Room” grips the viewer from its shocking opening scene to its powerful final frame. Featuring raw, emotionally-wrought performances from Brit Marling and Hailee Steinfeld, as Southern sisters fighting for their lives in their abandoned farm, and Sam Worthington, as a defected Union soldier drunk with power and lust, the film turns the traditional cat-and-mouse dynamic on its head while presenting a subtle societal critique of contemporary values.


Mania Days, written and directed by Paul Dalio (USA).  After being sent to a psychiatric hospital for exhibiting worrying behavior associated with their manic-depressive disorder, artists Carla (Katie Holmes) and Marco (Luke Kirby) instantly fall in love. But the chemistry that binds them also fuels their instability and mania, and before long they begin to spiral out of control, relentlessly thwarting all attempts to end their increasingly volatile relationship. With a level of sensitivity not often imbued upon stories about mental patients, Greenwich native Paul Dalio probes the couples’ highs and lows, creating a truly original and eye-opening tragic love story.


The Overnight, written and directed by Patrick Brice (USA).  Attractive, Type-A couple Alex and Emily (Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling), recent LA transplants, encounter flamboyant Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) at a neighborhood park and are invited to his palatial mansion for dinner with his wife and their kid. The night starts out innocently enough, but once the kids are put to bed, Alex and Emily begin to suspect that their new friends may have had less than savory motives for inviting them to dinner. A raucously funny, sexy and surprisingly sweet romp, “The Overnight” is full of twists and turns that are sure to keep the viewer guessing as this wild adult “playdate” unfolds.


Sing Your Song, directed by Susanne Rostock (USA) and presented in honor of this year's Changemaker Honoree, Sing Your Song brings a legend to full, ebullient life while telling a story of historical change and upheaval, imbuing its viewer with a renewed sense of appreciation for the inimitable singer, songwriter, actor and activist Harry Belafonte. With a studied deftness, director Susanne Rostock strings together current-day appraisals and footage of Belafonte's accomplishments into a cohesive portrait of making the world better.


Time Out of Mind, written and directed by Oren Moverman (USA). Richard Gere astounds with a poignant and moving performance in Time Out of Mind, a simple story of the trials and tribulations of homelessness in the slums of New York City. Helmed by the socially conscious director Oren Moverman—certainly one to follow in coming years—the film is powerful in its simplicity and documentary-like feel. With Jena Malone as Gere's estranged daughter, and cameo performances from Steve Buscemi, Kyra Sedgwick, Michael K. Williams, and Jeremy Strong, this is a film that questions the qualities of humanity and faces the invisibility and despondency of homeless Americans.



The 2015 festival’s esteemed jurors will be:


Narrative Shorts: Jim Ragan (Writer, “Until 20”), Alysia Reiner (“Orange is the New Black”) and Oday Rasheed (Director, “Underexposure”)


Documentary Shorts: Silvana Paternostro (Associate Producer, “Che”), Bears Fonte (Programmer and Director, "The Secret Keeper”) and Daniel Patrick Carbone (Director, "Hide Your Smiling Faces").


Narrative Feature Competition: Madeline Samit (Producer, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”), David Kaplan (Producer, Obvious Child) and Jack Giarraputo (Producer, “Grown Ups”)


Documentary Feature Competition: Eric Eisner (Producer, “Hamlet 2”), David Levien (Writer, “Rounders”) and Mallory Lance (Associate Programmer and Manager of Programming Operations, Tribeca Film Festival).


Further, the Greenwich International Film Festival will have a Social Impact Jury, made up of David Gideon (Fmr Director of Lee Strasberg Institute, Professor of Acting Suny Purchase Theater Conservatory), Michael Covino (Executive Producer, “Babysitter”) andAnne Kern, PhD (Associate Professor of Cinema Studies, SUNY Purchase).  This jury will present the Bill & Anne Bresnan Social Impact Award will be announced at the GIFF Opening Night Party, where they will receive a $10,000 award.  Four category winners will be announced as well.



The following panels and special events are confirmed for GIFF 2015:


Opening Night Party, Friday, June 5th, 8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.  This star-studded event will be held after the Opening Night Film Premiere of ALL THINGS MUST PASS and will include a red-carpet entrance, musical entertainment from The Voice finalist, film clips, passed appetizers/desserts and open bar, and engaging audience activities. We expect an audience of 800 to 1,000 people including top actors, filmmakers, journalists, industry leaders, film lovers and Fairfield and Westchester County residents.

Scheduled to Attend: Jenna Bush Hager will serve as Master of Ceremonies and there will be a performance by The Voice finalist Blessing Offor. In addition to entertainment, the Bill & Anne Bresnan Social Impact Award will be announced and awarded. 


The Changing Face of Television, Saturday, June 6th, 1:00pm.  It is impossible to deny that the past decade and a half has witnessed a marked resurgence of elevated, quality television programming that has effectively heightened the status of an often under-appreciated medium. Thanks in part to boutique networks like HBO (whose trailblazing series The Sopranos is widely heralded as the pioneer of this New Golden Age), Showtime, AMC, F/X and boundary-pushing digital platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime, contemporary television has managed to court Hollywood stars, command high production values and garner critical acclaim at an unparalleled level. Join our panel of industry insiders as they discuss the current landscape of television, tracing the history of the New Golden Age and predicting the illustrious future of the so called “Small Screen.”  

Scheduled to Attend: Marshall Fine (Moderator), Colin Hanks (“Fargo”), Thomas Kelly (Producer, “Copper,” “Blue Bloods”), Alysia Reiner (“Orange is the New Black”), Terence Winter (Creator, “Boardwalk Empire,” Executive Producer, “The Sopranos”), Charlie Collier (President and GM of AMC and SundanceTV)


Sports Guys on Sports Movies, Thursday, June 4th, 6:00pm.  What’s the best baseball movie – “Bull Durham” or “Major League”? If you follow football, is it “Any Given Sunday”? And, of course, you’d argue over the best based on a true story film, “Friday Night Lights,” “The Blind Side” or “Rudy”? And where does one place “Rocky” in this discussion – best sports movie of all time?  A panel of athletes and ESPN on-air talent will tackle the topic, and bring their insights – and passions – to a lively discussion of one of the most enduring conversation topics ever to take place over a beer…anywhere. This time, we all get to listen in. This event will include a happy hour and engaging audience activities. 

Scheduled to Attend: Mike Greenberg (Moderator), Mark Teixeira, Allan Houston, Cary Woods (Producer, “Rudy”), Patrick Kerney and Ryen Russillo (SVP & Russillo).


Women in Production, Saturday, June 6th, 3:00pm.  What is it that movie producers do? They make movies- but why was it a male dominated profession for so long? You will find out in this informative panel that examines how women producers have changed the way films are made something that is a shockingly recent concept. 

Scheduled to Attend: Anne Kern, PhD (Moderator), Margot Hand (“Rudderless,” “Miss Julie”), Rachel Winter (“Dallas Buyers Club”), Amy Hobby/Anne Hubbell (“Secretary,” “Lucky Them”), Caroline Kaplan (“Boyhood,” “Time Out of Mind”)


Inside Film Financing, Saturday, June 6th, 10:00am.  As important to movie making as cinematographers, production designers and composers are the people whose contributions underwrite all of those efforts and more: the film financiers. This panel will reveal the motivations from the people whose financial support, driven by sources from crowd funding to old school means, help filmmakers get their projects seen. These dreams no longer live only in movie theaters, but on platforms around the world so that they can be enjoyed by audiences. 

Scheduled to Attend: Bears Fonte (Moderator), Jeff Lipsky (Adopt Films), Milan Popelka (Film Nation), Kristen Konvitz (Indiegogo), Clay Pecorin (Producer, “The Big Wedding”)


Changemaker Honoree Gala, Saturday, June 6, 7:00pm.  This black-tie gala will honor longtime UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Harry Belafonte and Mia Farrow as the inaugural Changemaker Honorees, in recognition of their work to use film to impact positive social change. 


Ms. Farrow will be recognized for her work as a powerful advocate for children.  She campaigns tirelessly for their rights around the world, with a special focus on children impacted by armed conflict. Ms. Farrow has worked extensively to raise funds and awareness for children whose lives have been affected by violence in countries such as Angola, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti and Nigeria.  Along with her son, Ronan, a UNICEF Spokesperson for Youth, she has visited Darfur, Sudan, several times to highlight the devastating impact of continued violence on women and children. 


Mr. Belafone has established a long and distinguished record of human rights advocacy, beginning with the American civil rights movement in the 1950’s.  He has been an eloquent campaigner for the world’s children. He has met with presidents, parliamentarians, and members of civil society to champion the cause of UNICEF and help create partnerships for children. In 1997, UNICEF honored Mr. Belafonte for ten years of service as a Goodwill Ambassador in a ceremony attended by then Secretary General Kofi Annan.


The Gala will include an awards presentation hosted by Kathie Lee Gifford, featuring a retrospective of their work, followed by a dinner at L’Escale Restaurant on the water.


The Social Impact Panel, Sunday, June 7, 11:00am.  Why do some human rights stories garner more media coverage than others? Considering the vast multitude of human rights stories in today’s world, some are inevitably downplayed or downright ignored in favor of others—but what makes some issues more media-friendly than others and what are the potential risks of highlighting some issues while glossing over the others? Join our distinguished panel of filmmakers, human rights experts and humanitarians as they discuss the role of film and media in proliferating social issues around the globe. 

Scheduled to Attend: Perri Peltz (Moderator), Brian Newman (Producer, “DamNation”), Tom Scott (Founder, The Nantucket Project) and Matisse Bustos Hawkes (The Witness Project) as well as a UNICEF representative (to be announced). 


A Conversation with P. Riot, Sunday, June 7, 1:30pm.  From punk performance artists to labor camp prisoners to internationally renowned political activists, Nadezhda (Nadya) Tolokonnikova and Maria (Masha) Alekhina, the duo at the heart of the feminist protest art collective known as P. Riot, are without a doubt two of the most wildly controversial figures of the past several years. Sentenced to two years' imprisonment following an anti-Putin performance in Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in 2012, the incendiary pair immediately attracted a great amount of international media attention and support from the likes of Peter Gabriel, Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, and Aung San Suu Kyi. Now free, P. Riot use their global renown to proliferate their sobering political message, launching a number of initiatives such as a prisoners' rights NGO as well as their own independent news service, Mediazona, which focuses on reporting on, and reforming courts, law enforcement, and the prison system in Russia.

Join us for a screening of P. Riot's latest video, I Can't Breathe, followed by a discussion with Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina.


Children’s Acting Panel, Saturday, June 6, 1:00pm.  Children are invited to an interactive workshop with Hollywood’s rising stars Calum Worthy (Disney’s “Austin & Ally”) and Karan Brar (Disney’s “Jessie”).  Learn tricks of the trade, hear their stories and take a “selfie” with a star.  Priority admission given to pass holders. 


About the Greenwich International Film Festival

The Greenwich International Film Festival (GIFF) is a non-profit organization that will celebrate film and the visual arts in Greenwich, CT, June 4th through 7th, 2015.  GIFF was founded by Carina Crain, Colleen deVeer, and Wendy Stapleton Reyes to bridge the worlds of film, finance, and philanthropy.  The Festival’s mission is to provide filmmakers the opportunity to showcase their work with the goal of finding financing and distribution.  Additionally, GIFF will harness the power of film to support UNICEF with a percentage of funds raised to support their 2015 charity partner. Learn more at: www.unicefusa.org