As part of its year ‘round programming, Other Worlds Austin SciFi Film Festival is proud to announce the Austin Premiere of THE MIDNIGHT SWIM on July 9 (9:30pm) at the Southwest Theaters Lake Creek 7 in Austin. Writer/director Sarah Adina Smith will be available after the screening for a Q&A.
AFI Fest Breakthrough Audience Award winner THE MIDNIGHT SWIM focuses on three-half sisters who travel home to settle the affairs of their mother after she goes missing in a haunted lake. Drenched in mystery, THE MIDNIGHT SWIM is a psychodrama with supernatural undertones that has garnered a cult following on the festival circuit, along with numerous awards. Told in faux-documentary style, the film’s “...an almost transparent bridge between you and a character’s psyche,” (Fangoria Magazine). For those who dare to open their minds, THE MIDNIGHT SWIM offers a truly transcendent experience.
“I’m drawn towards science fiction because I am interested in the terrible, relentless mechanism that churns this universe,” says first time director Sarah Adina Smith. “From what I can tell, suffering is required to keep the machine running, it’s a harrowing, unavoidable truth. The bargain seems to be: a near-infinity of loneliness for every spark of love. I like to make movies about people who live with this knowledge breathing down their neck. Which, essentially, means I like to make movies about people we would call “mentally ill.”
“THE MIDNIGHT SWIM is an intoxicating film,” says Bears Fonté, OWA Founder and Director of Programming. “On one level, it’s completely grounded, and deals with family relationships and the strain a death in the family creates. Old grudges resurface, truths get spoken for the first time, and sisters look at their own lives and where they stand in the world. On the other hand, the film is very ethereal, hinting throughout at the world just beyond our understanding, a reality of mystery and imagination, and the possibility of true enlightenment.”
Fonté says he had to program this film “if just to celebrate the triumph of a female writer/director working in a genre context and delivering something that is equally creepy and touching. This is a ghost story that really could only be told by this director and the performances she crafts out of this amazing ensemble of women, including Lindsay Burdge, one of my favorite indie actresses, make this one of the most artfully constructed genre films of the year.”
“I never set out to make a movie about women, with women,” says Smith. “But motherhood is the most terrifying, brave, supernatural thing I can imagine. Two sets of code come together and grow inside a flesh nest. This new life gets spit out with blood and tears, is taught to walk the earth, to speak the language, to find a place in the machine, and then it runs out of steam and dies. Does anyone else think that’s fucking crazy?”
On making the film, Smith compares THE MIDNIGHT SWIM to hypnosis more than entertainment. “I guess that’s the only thing I think people should know before they see it. I don’t feel like I “made" the movie, per se. I feel like the movie was already a thing and I just did my best to help it into the world, to get out of its way. It’s really JUNE’s movie (the protagonist), not mine. She's strange and quiet, and I love her very much.”
Fonté gives the director more credit. “THE MIDNIGHT SWIM is a fantastic indie drama that just happens play out in the shadow of something other worldly, something we just get glimpses of. It’s also one of the most beautifully shot ‘found footage’ films I’ve ever seen, and the construct of it being found footage for once makes complete sense.”
“SciFi really can contain elements of many other genres,” Fonté adds, “and Smith has a fresh, original voice. I can’t wait to bring her to Austin to talk about her film with our OWA fans."
When their mother goes missing in Spirit Lake, three half-sisters travel home to settle her affairs. The youngest sister, June, a documentary filmmaker, captures their bittersweet homecoming. But when the sisters jokingly summon a local ghost, their relationship begins to unravel and they find themselves drawn deeper and deeper into the true mystery of the lake.
ENIGMATIC AND FATHOMLESS
-- John Anderson, Indiewire
-- Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest
JUST OPEN UP YOUR MIND AND ENJOY THE RIDE
-- Michael Melton, The Film Philosopher
I WAS WRAPPED UP IN THE STORY FROM BEGINNING TO END
-- Kristian Horn, Ain’t It Cool News
-- Tim Evans, Verite Film Magazine
THROBBING, EERIE... UNNERVING
-- Nicholas Bell, Ion Cinema
-- Kurt Halfyard, Twitch Film
GRAND AND VIVID
-- Sam Zimmerman, Fangoria
A MARVELOUS DESCENT INTO MYTH AND POSSIBLE MADNESS
-- Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects
EERIE, MAGICAL, AND SURPRISING
-- Robin Burks, Fan Girl Confessions
A DEEPLY CONTEMPLATIVE MOVIE
-- Matthew David Surridge, Black Gate
FOLKS WERE RAVING COMING OUT OF THIS
-- Jay Seaver, eFilmCrictic
June......................................LINDSAY BURDGE (A Teacher)
Annie....................................JENNIFER LAFLEUR (Do-Deca Pentathalon)
Isa.........................................ALEKSA PALLADINO (Boardwalk Empire)
Josh.......................................ROSS PARTRIDGE (Baghead, The Off Hours)
Amelia................................. BETH GRANT (No Country for Old Men, The Artist)
Realtor..................................MICHELLE HUTCHISON (Fargo, Thin Ice)
Maggie..................................SHIRLEY VENARD (The Cure)
SARAH ADINA SMITH
Sarah Adina Smith co-wrote and produced the ensemble apocalypse comedy GOODBYE WORLD, starring Adrian Grenier, Mark Webber, Gaby Hoffmann, and hip-hop star Kid Cudi. The movie was picked up for distribution by Samuel Goldwyn & Phase 4 and opened in theaters this April.
Her award-winning short film THE SIRENS, starring The Chapin Sisters, was purchased by Shorts International for both broadcast and digital distribution. The film received the special jury prize for best screenwriting from the DreamAgo Foundation. In 2008, Sarah directed ONE CUP OF COFFEE, a documentary film on sustainable coffee farming starring Rohan Marley, narrated by Cedella Marley and featuring the music of their father.
Sarah works as a screenwriter in Los Angeles where she recently finished an adaptation of Paul Theroux’s chilling short story, MONKEY HILL. Her next project THE COLONY, a sci-fi thriller, is being produced by Night & Day Pictures and is scheduled to shoot in early 2015.
MARY PAT BENTEL
Mary Pat recently produced LOST IN AUSTIN, a comedy starring Linda Cardellini, Craig Robinson and Skeet Ulrich. Her last feature ANIMALS premiered at SXSW 2014, where it competed in the festival’s narrative competition category and won the Special Jury Prize for Courage in Storytelling. She produced GOODBYE WORLD with Sarah prior to that.
Mary Pat has had two films at Sundance Film Festival: UNA HORA POR FAVORA, written and directed by Jill Soloway in 2012, and THE LIE starring Joshua Leonard and Jess Weixler in 2011, which Screen Media distributed theatrically. Mary Pat’s produced music videos for high profile bands such as Fitz & The Tantrums, Emilie Simon and Morcheeba, as well as many commercials for clients such as American Express, Belkin and Nike.
She also produces art shows, including Hedi Slimane’s “California Song” at MOCA and the New Frontier section at 2012’s Sundance Film Festival. She just finished producing content for Bruno Mars’ Moonshine Jungle
Tour and is prepping another film that Joshua Leonard will direct.
Jonako Donley is an independent producer based in Los Angeles. Her first feature film, DEAR LEMON LIMA, starring Academy Award winner Melissa Leo, premiered in competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2009 and has screened and won awards at numerous festivals domestically and abroad. She has also produced numerous short films including THE SIRENS, WHITE LIGHT, an adaptation of a Miranda July short story, and SPRING OF SORROW for the ITVS Futurestates series. Her short OLIVE AND MOCHA won Funny of Die’s first annual “Make ‘em LAFF” competition at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival.
In 2007 Donley co-founded 5432 Films, a new media production company which has produced content for clients like Verizon Wireless, Microsoft and Wrigley’s gum. The company launched a premium webseries on Comedy Central’s Atom.com and penned a development deal with TBS for broadcast/web microseries and with FOX TV Studios to produce and develop multiplatform and TV content. Jonako was born and raised in Los Angeles California and received a BA in Film Studies and Art History from Columbia University and an MFA from the Peter Stark Producing Program at USC.
About Other Worlds Austin
Other Worlds Austin is dedicated to bringing the best of SciFi to Austin, Texas. The festival programming team looks past budgets or the Hollywood push to find great stories and give them an Austin premiere. In addition to its year ‘round programming, the 2nd Annual Other Worlds Austin SciFi Film Festival takes place December 3-5, 2015 at the Galaxy Highland 10. For more information, go to OtherWorldsAustin.com