All posts by James McNally

About James McNally

James McNally is the founder and Director of Programming for Shorts That Are Not Pants.

Full Program for February 21 Screening

We are tickled to be launching our EIGHTH great season on Thursday February 21st. We’d love it if you could join us!

Thursday February 21st at 7:00pm
Cinecycle
129 Spadina Avenue (slightly down the alley)


Still from BROTHERHOOD

BROTHERHOOD

Dir: Meryam Joobeur
Canada/Tunisia/Qatar/Sweden – 2018

Mohamed is a hardened shepherd living in rural Tunisia with his wife and two sons. He is deeply shaken when his eldest son Malik returns home after a long journey with a mysterious new wife. Tension between father and son rises over three days until reaching a breaking point.

  • Official Selection – Sundance Film Festival
  • Official Selection – Toronto International Film Festival

Duration: 25:00


Still from ALL-INCLUSIVE

ALL-INCLUSIVE

Dir: Corina Schweingruber Ilic
Switzerland – 2018

Under the spell of mass entertainment on the high seas.

  • Official Selection – Sundance Film Festival
  • Official Selection – Toronto International Film Festival

Duration: 10:00


Still from CAROLINE

CAROLINE

Dirs: Celine Held and Logan George
USA – 2018

When plans fall through, a six-year-old is faced with a big responsibility on a hot Texas day.

  • Best North American Short – Palm Springs International ShortFest
  • Official Selection – Cannes Film Festival

Duration: 12:00


Still from BENEATH THE INK

BENEATH THE INK

Dir: Cy Dodson
USA – 2018

As society’s belief systems are seemingly changing, or even reverting in time, one Ohio artist is challenging his community by saying, “bring me your mistakes.” Inspired by recent events, Billy Joe White and his Red Rose Tattoo Studio are promoting one simple concept… ERASE THE HATE. Beneath the Ink is a timely look at hate and racism in the western foothills of this Appalachian region that reveals heartfelt stories of change and redemption.

  • Audience Award, Best Documentary – Palm Springs International ShortFest

Duration: 12:00


Still from FAST HORSE

FAST HORSE

Dir: Alexandra Lazarowich
Canada – 2018

Fast Horse follows the return of the Blackfoot bareback horse racing tradition in a new form: Indian Relay. Siksika horseman Allison RedCrow struggles to build a team with second-hand races and a new jockey, Cody BigTobacco, to take on the best riders in the Blackfoot Confederacy at the Calgary Stampede.

  • Special Jury Award for Direction – Sundance Film Festival

Duration: 14:00


Still from FATHERLAND

FATHERLAND

Dir: George Sikharulidze
Georgia – 2018

.In 2016, on the 63rd anniversary of his death, Stalin’s worshippers gather outside his birthplace in Georgia to demand his canonization as a saint … when something uncanny materializes.

  • Official Selection – Sundance Film Festival

Duration: 15:00


Help us kick off our 2019 season! The Facebook RSVP is free, and door tickets are just $10 (a 20% price reduction from previous years). And why not bring a friend? 🙂

Sundance 2019: Day 13

Sundance 2019: Risk Independence

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 22nd to February 3rd.

Festival Day 11

Happy to say that not overindulging last night made getting up to pack at 8:00am much less painful than last year. Nevertheless, the work and play and disrupted sleep and eating schedules of the past two weeks are all finally catching up with me. My roomie Bryan and I were able to get out by 10:00am but didn’t spot our other housemate Chad. I’d barely seen him during the festival but assume he got out okay.

Bryan was staying one more night with friends at a different Park City condo, so we said goodbye somewhere on Empire Avenue with him hauling his luggage through the freshly fallen snow, and me on my way to HQ for one last goodbye. I spent about 15 minutes having a chat with Bobby and it was sobering to see the Artist Relations office almost completely taken down. We sat with a few of the rest of the team and just chatted before I made my goodbyes. Hoping to work with everyone again next year.

I had the idea to use the last of my “grub stubs” at the Grub Steak’s salad bar but discovered it was closed on weekends for lunch. And I was too early (11:30am) to grab some last slices at Este Pizza, too, which didn’t open until noon. I wanted to get to the Holiday Village cinemas by then to grab a volunteer ticket for The Sharks which won the World Cinema Jury Award for Best Direction. This small Uruguayan film turned out to be my favourite of the festival. 14-year-old tomboy Rosina lives in a beach town and works with her Dad doing landscaping. One day she spots what she thinks might be a shark in the ocean near home, and soon rumours are swirling that there are sharks offshore. This hinted but unseen danger makes a great background for Rosina’s own budding attraction to her co-worker Joselo, who seems uninterested. A series of actions that seem halfway between cries for attention and cruel pranks leads Rosina to a final act that leaves her walking toward the camera and flashing her first and only smile. It’s a really assured debut from Lucia Garibaldi, and I hope more people get to see it.

After that, I grabbed some lunch at Fresh Market with my grub stub (chicken tenders and potato wedges) before heading to the Prospector to see The Infiltrators, a documentary-fiction hybrid that won two awards: Audience Award for the NEXT programme, as well as the NEXT Innovator Award. I enjoyed this one a lot, too, which features activists breaking INTO an immigration detention facility in order to try to get detainees scheduled for deportation freed. The hybrid form is a little unwieldy in places, but overall it adds urgency and tension to an issue that most of us know little about.

At the shuttle stop afterward, a woman was attempting to engage people to see what they thought. When I said I liked the film, she started talking about the need for people to obey the law and not jump the (immigration) line, etc. so I sort of tuned her out. It’s a huge issue but the film is clearly focused on people who have done nothing illegal and who are being unfairly detained. Hopefully it gets a wide viewing, particularly among young people, who will be inspired by the youth of the activists portrayed.

The film ended around 5:00pm and was followed by a short Q&A with one of the producers, who was generous enough to stick around so long, but it made getting back to the Park City Mountain Resort to pick up my luggage a bit of a race.

I was scheduled for a 6:00pm shuttle pickup with Susan, and then she was early. It had also started snowing again. I got a shuttle back to the Fresh Market stop but was waiting a while for the connecting one back to the condo, so I walked, only to be passed by two busses just a few minutes from home. Then I got a message that Susan had gone on to HQ to pick up more people and would come back. I had to wait outside and had a bit of trouble finding her, but soon we were on our way to Salt Lake City.

Another volunteer named James (whom I had met last year and who I bumped into a lot over the past few days) was in the seat right behind me, but nobody really talked much. We were all exhausted by this point and looking forward to our flights, or in my case, a quiet night at an AirBnB. For me, it’s off to LA for some much-needed sunshine and time and space to plan our upcoming screening season!

Sundance 2019: Day 12

Artist Relations Colleagues - Sundance 2019
Colleagues from Artist Relations: Bobby, Hester, Fabiola, and Doug

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 22nd to February 3rd.

Festival Day 10

I slept very late today since I wasn’t going to be seeing any films. We were advised to make ourselves available for the whole day to prepare for the Awards Ceremony but Bobby told me I wasn’t really needed in the office until 3:30pm. I went in for 12:30pm just to be on the safe side, but things were very quiet.

We all piled into four cars around 4:00pm and headed for the Basin Amphitheatre in Kimball Junction, the site of the awards ceremony ever since I started volunteering in 2015. There wasn’t a lot for me to do, just be ready to greet filmmakers at the entrance.

About half of our teams had already gone home, but I was able to greet filmmakers from a few of our films, including Adalmadrina, Birds in the Earth, Fast Horse, Docking, Muteum, Those Bad Things, and a few more.

The only other job I had was to clear chairs after the awards were finished around 9:15pm, and then we were free to enjoy the party. I met up with my friend Mike Lane from Toronto, and hung out a bit with him, and with Bobby, and with a few of my other Artist Relations colleagues, but I was ready to go home by about 12:30am. It had started to snow again and I didn’t want to get caught in a snowstorm, especially when everyone else was leaving.

Tomorrow I need to be out of my lodging by 10:00am and I haven’t even packed yet. I might try to see some of the award winners, which screen at several venues tomorrow, but I have a shuttle ride back to Salt Lake City at either 3:00pm or 6:00pm, depending on which one has room.

I had fun this year, but the general consensus is that the films weren’t as strong as in 2018, and overall I just didn’t connect with as many people. I’m still interested in coming back next year, and I’m sure upon reflection I’ll find lots to love about Sundance 2019.

Sundance 2019: Day 11

To The Stars Q&A - Sundance 2019
To The Stars Q&A. Director Martha Stevens is at far right.

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 22nd to February 3rd.

Festival Day 9

Another hour in the office this morning, and then off to the enormous Eccles Theatre to see To The Stars, a rural 50s story about two misfit young women. Great performances, really nice black and white cinematography, and an excellent score. There were some touches that made it feel like an old-fashioned melodrama, but it had a sweetness and a love for its characters that made it really enjoyable. And nice to see young Kara Hayward in something. Moonrise Kingdom seems so long ago now.

I met up with my Toronto friend Mike Lane at the screening. Remarkable because Mike doesn’t own a smart phone and we’d tried to arrange our meeting by email. But when I got to the Eccles, the largest cinema at Sundance, it was impossible to spot him, thanks in part to my diminished eyesight. I sat in the middle of a row but happily there was a free seat in the row in front of me, and he somehow found it. After the film, we walked back toward HQ and had lunch at Este Pizza. It was nice to hear how his festival has been.

I put in another couple of hours at the office but found myself getting sleepy. I’d originally planned to see Greener Grass at the Ray and then try to stick around and get a ticket to Blinded by the Light which was playing next, but I decided to come home for a nap and then get into the volunteer ticket line early so I didn’t miss Blinded by the Light, which a few of my colleagues had recommended.

It’s a very frothy crowd-pleaser about an English Pakistani kid in the 80s who discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen. Despite some downright silly moments, it was hard to resist. A feel-good movie was just what I needed at this stage of the festival. The film let out at 11:30pm and I just stopped at Fresh Market on the way home for some snacks.

It’s hard to believe that tomorrow is the last full day of Sundance 2019. I don’t need to be in the office until 3:30pm when we’ll be heading over to work the awards ceremony and party. If I’m keen, I’ll get up early and try to see a film, but I wouldn’t bet on it. 🙂

Sundance 2019: Day 10

Carla Patullo - Sundance Talent Forum Closing Party 2019
Carla Patullo performs at the Talent Forum Closing Party

Director of Programming James McNally is attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival from January 22nd to February 3rd.

Festival Day 8

Another very quiet day in the office which allowed me to see two films. At noon, there was a volunteer screening of Penny Lane’s documentary Hail Satan?, which was an excellent examination of the rise of The Satanic Temple, which turns out to be a much more political organization than you might think. The film explores issues of religious liberty, the separation of church and state, the nature of organized religion, and even the limits of anarchy and resistance. All with a generous helping of (forgive me) black humour.

Then at 5:45pm, I was able to catch This Is Not Berlin at the Library Theatre, an enjoyable 80s-set coming-of-age story. Director Hari Sama explained that it was a semi-autobiographical look at his early exposure to the art and music scenes of Mexico City. This one had a killer soundtrack, too.

I was conveniently nearby The Shop, an events venue that was hosting the closing night party for the Sundance Talent Forum. I was determined to attend to see my friend Carla Patullo perform. I met Carla back in 2015 at the Scruffy City Film and Music Festival in Knoxville, where she was attending with her film Cinderella, a Shadow Ballet. Last year after Sundance, I stayed with her and her partner Elizabeth in Los Angeles for a few days. It was great to see both of them here in Park City, and to catch up on how they’re doing. Carla is just finishing a feature score for a film which will premiere in a few weeks at SXSW.

I ended up running into lots of people I knew at the party, including the filmmakers from Adalmadrina (Pepe, Carlota, and Oriol), my friend from Toronto Grant Cermak (15 year Sundance volunteer), and Natacha, a Slamdance programmer I have bumped into several times this year. I also had good chats with longtime Artist Relations volunteer Hayley and my US shorts counterpart Angelo. Bobby was there for a while, too, and invited me to join him later at the Park Avenue hotel bar, where the shorts programmers were gathering with some of our filmmakers.

That began at 11pm, and I think I stayed just over an hour. We said goodbye to the team from Brotherhood and I had a good conversation with producer Maria Gracia Turgeon, who also produced the Oscar-nominated Fauve. She was saying she was disappointed she couldn’t go to Clermont-Ferrand this year, but that it was because she had to be at the Oscar nominees’ luncheon, which didn’t sound too terrible. She’s having a very good year. We also said goodbye to Gregorio Rodríguez, the producer of End, who’s returning to the Dominican Republic.

A busy and social day, and I realize how close to the end of the festival we are now. I’m going to try to see as many films as I can over the next few days, but we’ll also be preparing for the Awards Ceremony and party on Saturday night.