As Hollywood embraces social change through movements like Time’s Up, those same shifting tides will bring young, diverse and empowering stars to the University’s campus as part of the annual Ivy Film Festival Apr. 8-14.
André Leon Talley GS ’72, the former editor-at-large of Vogue, will open the festival with a keynote address Apr. 8, accompanied by a screening of “The Gospel According to André.” The documentary chronicles Talley’s life and career, from his childhood in the segregated South to his unparalleled career at fashion giants W and Vogue. The address marks Talley’s first return to the University since he graduated with his master’s degree in French Literature in 1972, according to an IFF press release.
“He’s bringing his life story in film form to us,” said Misha Gehring ’19, co-executive director of IFF. Not only is Talley a fashion mogul, he also brings a unique perspective to the festival as the subject, rather than producer or director, of the documentary. “The thing that is so amazing about film is its multiplicity and the fact that it is more than cinematography. It is production design, it is costume, it is storytelling, it is documentary.”
Official Selection blocks will be the core of the festival, which feature 22 undergraduate and graduate short films, “meticulously curated from over 330 submissions from 26 different countries,” according to the press release. For the first time in the festival’s history, the selection blocks are organized by themes: “Strength,” “Home” and “Selfhood.”
“We always find it so interesting to see what student filmmakers want to turn their camera toward and what sorts of issues they want to capture,” said Kripa Venkatesh ’19, co-executive director of IFF. “They approach similar themes in such different, nuanced ways.”
Beyond the Official Selection, these themes extend into the advanced screenings, speakers and projects presented throughout the festival, Venkatesh said. “Selfhood … is so integral to young film in the sense that coming-of-age stories (are) kind of the nature of films being made at this age,” Gehring said.
Included in this category is a screening of “Booksmart,” the directorial debut of actress Olivia Wilde on Wednesday, Apr. 10. The film follows two girls, played by Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever, after they decide to “let loose on their last night of high school,” according to the press release. Wilde, known for her role in “House” and a number of feature films will join Feldstein, who starred in “Lady Bird,” and Dever, who recently acted as Lauren in “Beautiful Boy,” in a question-and-answer segment after the film. The film debuted in Austin last week to rave reviews — Vulture critic Emily Yoshida wrote that Feldstein and Dever have “chemistry that sings,” and that the film “manages to be inclusive and progressive, without being precious about anything or sacrificing an ounce of humor.”
The film “aligns with our vision as a festival to be young and fresh and kind of unapologetically female,” Venkatesh said. Seventy-seven percent of Ivy Film Festival’s leadership is female, according to the press release, as are three out of the four directors of this year’s festival.
Continuing this theme, “Mickey and the Bear,” written and directed by Annabelle Attanasio, will screen Saturday, Apr. 13. The film follows a teenage girl as she cares for her father who struggles with addiction and she grapples with the choice between family and personal fulfillment, the press release said. 25-year-old Attanasio began working on the film as her thesis project at NYU, Venkatesh said. “She’s gone through this whole process and now we’re seeing her at the other end of it as an industry professional.” Attanasio and her producing partner Lizzie Shapiro will answer questions following the screening.
Saturday’s “Rising Stars” panel will feature Logan Lerman, Danielle Macdonald and Callum Woodhouse. Lerman, known for his starring role in the Percy Jackson series and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” has appeared more recently in independent films, which he also sometimes executive-produces. Macdonald recently appeared in the Netflix film “Dumplin” alongside Jennifer Aniston and was featured in the streaming service’s hit horror film “Bird Box.”
Throughout the week, students will be able to attend numerous advanced screenings of feature films, including “The Farewell,” “Teen Spirit,” “Science Fair” and “Luce.” Workshops will feature producer Mike Medavoy, producer and writer Jonathan Schwartz and costume designer Beatrice Bulgari, among others.
“We always try to … bridge the gap between being students and entering the industry, so we’re so excited to have … industry professionals come and run intimate workshops on different aspects of the industry.” These workshops allow for meaningful “tangible experience,” Gehring added.
“I ultimately hope that students are able to see that film is not this kind of abstract … impossible industry to get involved with,” Gehring said. Today, the industry has become “about self-initiative and independent film, young film, just taking initiative and making it happen.”
Ivy Film Festival will release tickets for all events, which are free and open to the public, on Apr. 1.
The official Selection Blocks will be screened throughout the week of events. “Strength,” which is presented in partnership with Bumble, will play at 7 p.m. Thursday, Apr. 11 and will feature films by female-identifying filmmakers. “Home” will play Friday, Apr. 12 at 7 p.m. and “Selfhood” Saturday, Apr. 13 at 3 p.m. in the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts Martinos Auditorium.