SCAD Savannah Film Festival Opens With ‘NYAD,’ a Movie That’s a Crowd-Pleader and Resonates with Dreamers of All Ages – Awardsdaily

Megan McLachlan is in Savannah, Georgia to cover the SCAD Savannah Film Festival, which kicked off its 26th year with the premiere of the SCAD Savannah Film Festival. NYAD.

It’s great to be back in Savannah for the 26th Annual SCAD Savannah Film Festival! Not only did I get here just in time for the festival’s opening night, but it’s also one of the best times of year to be in Savannah—period—as the city is fully prepared for Halloween (I noticed the Hearse Ghost Tour on my way to the screening). Plus, I also learned that it’s Wag-O-Ween weekend where pets go out and trick-or-treat.

NYAD Opens the festival

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(Left) David Canfield and Jimmy Chin perform on stage after the NYAD screening (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SCAD)

In 2023, the festival began with the premiere NYAD, the story of Diana Nyad’s (Annette Bening) quest to swim the 100-mile journey from Cuba to Key West. Biopics have become a bit stale in recent years, facing the same rhythms and obstacles as other similar films. NYAD deals with themes of aging differently and echoes the message of never giving up on your dreams (something aspiring creative SCAD students can relate to and applaud while watching). Annette Bening’s latest Oscar bid saw her play Julianne Moore’s most understated role in the 2011 film. The kids are fine but in NYADshe demands attention (literally—ask Diane Nyad what “Nyad” means) and Bening transforms physically and emotionally into an athlete.

Based on the results of the show Vanity FairDavid Canfield interviewed co-director Jimmy Chin, who explained why he and his life partner/partner Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi decided to take on the project: “It’s this incredible story about Diana, but from a woman’s point of view. Besides, what really stuck with us was the story of friendship.”

One of the biggest tricks Bening pulls off as the prickly Nyad, who loves to talk about herself at every opportunity, is to make you love her as much as her best friend Bonnie (Jodie Foster). Not only that NYAD a testament to how good Bening is and always has been, but it also serves as a reminder that there’s a reason Jodie Foster has two Oscars. A lot of this film depends on the ability of these two actresses to play off each other because their personalities and chemistry define a lot of their friendship. In the Q&A, Jimmy Chin said he hit the jackpot with Bening and Foster and said how scared he was while on set with them when he had to give Foster her first note in the film by yelling at her from a boat.

Chin and Vasarhelyi’s direction really brings depth to what could have been a surface-level story. While some of the ideas about Nyad’s family heritage could have been explored more in Julia Cox’s script, NYAD ambitiously covers a lot in a short amount of time, making you feel like you’re in the water with her every lap.

Area of ​​interest

The most amazing thing about Jonathan Glaser’s work Area of ​​interest that sense of dread that hangs over every frame like a dead weight. This is truly a horror movie where the monster isn’t lurking in the background, but sitting at breakfast and chatting with friends about stealing clothes from the dead that your husband had a hand in destroying. There’s been a lot of debate in recent years about why we make movies about bad people and whether we should focus on these people in particular, but Area of ​​interest Insightfully centers the Höss family against the backdrop of a concentration camp in their backyard, thanks to chilling sound design by Johnny Byrne. You see these evil people being humanized in their home lives, but always just yards away from gunshots and screams. It introduces you to this family, but never for a second allows them to escape responsibility for their complicity, and even makes you question your own complicity as people.

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(Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for SCAD)

Time Magazine West Coast editor Sam Lansky interviewed actor Christian Friedel after the screening, and Friedel reflected on his doubts about playing Commander Rudolf Höss.

“I had a feeling from the beginning that this was the right way to do it (tell this story). We need that perspective even in these difficult political times. We had a lot of conversations about what is wrong and what is right. I felt a responsibility to the victims every time, every day. The decorations were very close to the original house. It was intense.”

Friedel also talked about what the set was like, with Glaser filming with 10 cameras at once.

“Jonathan named the system”Big Brother in a sense, in a Nazi house.” You want to look out the window and observe these characters, not follow the traditional storyline or the emotional wave of that character, but observe them. From the very beginning he was very open about this approach.”

American fiction

Ahead of the screening of Cord Jefferson’s film American fictionfilm adaptation of the novel Erasing Percival Everett, I spoke with the writer/director on the red carpet about his film, which won the TIFF Audience Award in September, which he called “a little surreal.”

“I wasn’t at all sure the film would make it to Toronto,” Jefferson said. “This is the year when literally the greatest directors in the world release films. Linklater, Fincher, Scorsese, Alexander Payne. All these people whose work I really love and appreciate. I was told it would be a really competitive year, so when I found out the film was in TIFF, I didn’t even allow myself to dream about winning the Audience Award.”

American fiction it’s certainly a crowd pleaser, with the SCAD audience reacting with a lot of laughter during the screening. The trailer doesn’t do the film justice, setting you up for a blistering satire that pokes fun at the book industry when in fact it’s about much more than that, bittersweet in the same vein as Alexander Payne. Sideways (Paul Giamatti’s Miles and Jeffrey Wright’s Monk would have a lot to talk about). Jeffrey Wright plays Thelonious “Monk” Ellison, a writer whose latest book can’t be published because it isn’t considered “black” enough because his characters aren’t slaves, drug dealers, or shot by cops. So on a drunken whim, he writes a book for the lowest common denominator (mostly smug white people) that plays on those stereotypes, and it sells IMMEDIATELY.

During a post-screening Q&A with Rotten Tomatoes awards editor Jacqueline Coley, Jefferson spoke about the “poverty of imagination” in Black storytelling. “We are defined by the bad things that happen to us,” he said.

While reading ErasingJefferson said he kept thinking of Monk as Jeffrey Wright, and it’s hard to imagine the character in anyone else’s place. As a reliable supporting player in Wes Anderson films and even on HBO. WestworldJeffrey Wright deserves more leading roles, such as American fiction. The script is especially poignant and compelling when Monk and fellow author, Sintara Golden (Issa Rae), argue over the topic of black literature and what they consider “pandering.”

I’ll be back with more news as we continue to report on the festival!

The SCAD Savannah Film Festival runs Oct. 21-28.

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