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LISTENING (Texas Premiere)

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As part of its year ‘round programming, Other Worlds Austin SciFi Film Festival is pleased to announce the Texas premiere of LISTENING on August 27 (9:00PM) at the Flix Brewhouse in Round Rock. Writer/director Khalil Sullins will be available after the screening for a Q&A.

LISTENING, has been invited to over 30 film festivals, and won numerous awards, including Best Director: Phoenix Film Festival, Best Screenplay: Hoboken International Film Festival, and Best Feature Film Audience Award: Irvine International Film Festival.

LOGLINE:

A team of genius-but-broke grad students invent mind-reading technology that destroys their lives and threatens the future of free-will itself.

SYNOPSIS:

For years, we have tried to harness the power of the human mind... and failed. Now, one breakthrough will change everything. Beyond technology. Beyond humanity. Beyond control.

LISTENING is a psychological thriller about penniless grad students who invent mind-reading technology that destroys their lives. David, Ryan, and Jordan hope the telepathy invention will solve all their problems, but the bleeding-edge technology opens a Pandora’s box of new dangers, as the team discovers that when they open their minds, there is nowhere to hide their thoughts. Secrets and betrayals surface, and the technology is stolen by a covert government agency with a hidden agenda. With no one left to trust, David is forced against his friends in a life-or-death battle over not only the privacy of the human mind, but the future of free will itself.

“LISTENING takes the audience on a journey,” says first time director Khalil Sullins. “It starts as an intimate, relatable domestic drama, but the stakes continually rise until our characters find themselves in a life-or-death showdown with the world hanging in the balance.”

Sullins says his personal change-the-world ideals might be considered naive, but that the story structure subtly encourages the audience to feel the same way. “The thoughts you cultivate, the conversations you have, what you do today at work, at school, with your family, in your garage, it just might have global implications,” says Sullins.

“LISTENING is exactly my favorite kind of Science Fiction movie,” says Bears Fonté, OWA Founder and Director of Programming.  “It starts small, with a couple of renegade scientists trying to solve a problem in their garage. But technology is often more complicated than just the formulas behind it – and that’s what makes LISTENING so exciting. Plus any time you throw a bit of sex into the mix, everything gets murky. How is a scientist ever able to keep their priorities straight? LISTENING offers the viewer a night of intrigue and deception, and one more thing to be afraid of that someone is actually inventing.”

LISTENING explores the nature of our relationship with technology and communication. “Every day we’re given a new tool to send our thoughts and feelings out into the world faster than ever before, but we aren’t necessarily learning how to become better communicators,” Sullins explains. “There’s a filter in our brain somewhere that prevents us from saying, or doing, every little thing that pops into our head. That’s a good thing. But in a world where telepathy exists, that filter is gone. This isn’t too different from what it’s like in the world of social media today.”

Says Sullins, “LISTENING examines these issues through David, an introverted genius who, even though he invents the latest, greatest form of communication, he has no idea how to actually communicate with his wife, or kid, or best friend. Because the characters can’t communicate on a human level, technology only makes things worse. It also explores potential real-world implications of inventing telepathy, government spying on its citizens, the extremes of where that could lead, and the dynamic between thought and action.”

The story in LISTENING is ‘hard SciFi.’ “All of the technology is not only theoretically possible, but a lot of it has actually been invented since we were in production,” says Sullins. “The science should feel so real that the audience believes telepathy isn’t only possible, but that it might have already happened. Maybe in your neighbor’s garage.”

“The story is rare in that it is both an intelligent sci-fi thriller, as well as a tragic, character-driven exploration of communication and interpersonal relationships,” says Pardis Sullins, producer.

LISTENING employs a “flicker 3D” stereoscopic photography technique for the inside-the-mind sequences throughout the film. This is the first time this effect has ever been showcased in a feature- length film.


MEET THE CAST:

Thomas Stroppel - DAVID

Thomas Stroppel has appeared recently as the lead role in the feature film Listening (Best Actor Nominee, FilmQuest Film Festival and Hoboken International Film Festival) directed by Khalil Sullins, The Things I Do For You (BAFTA/Ideastap Film Award Winner) directed by Thomas Sidali, Bucksville (Best Actor, Madrid International Film Festival) directed by Chel White, The Falls: Testament of Love directed by Jon Garcia, and multiple appearances on television. His work has been seen at the Sundance Film Festival, the Brooklyn Film Festival, the Berlin Independent Film Festival, Sci-Fi London, the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, the Guthrie Theatre, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Hallmark Channel, VH1, The Prague Theatre Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Rocky Mountain PBS, and ACT Theatre. Thomas is an M.F.A. graduate of the Professional Actor Training Program at the University of Washington.

Artie Ahr – RYAN

Artie Ahr has trained under respected acting coach Donna Morong, originated the lead character in the play THE COLUMBINE PROJECT, which premiered Off Broadway and has had a leading part in four independent feature films and several national commercials. He is starring in the feature film Magnet this fall. While he's not acting, Artie enjoys camping and SCUBA diving. He is represented by Rainstorm Entertainment and Entertainment Law Partners.

Amber Marie Bollinger – JORDAN

Amber Marie Bollinger was born and raised in small town Bellevue, Ohio and was recruited to the University of Cincinnati's Track Team as the team's top high jumper and javelin thrower. She graduated with an Electronic Media degree, but was much more inspired to perform and be in front of the camera. Soon after graduation she moved to California to jump on screen and immediately started booking commercials and now has more than 30 National Commercials under her belt (Samsung Galaxy SIII, Slim Jim, Budweiser, Burlington Coat Factory, etc.). Amber also has success in the indie-film world with four feature films released this year (CAVEMEN, THE ACTIVIST, DRUGS AND OTHER LOVE, and BIG BAD WOLF). In addition to films, Amber joined forces with her funniest friend to write, star and produce their own web series, HOLLYWOOD IS HARD FOR KIMMY KIM AND FRUTRON. With over a million views, they are one of YouTube's Who's Who Among Comedic Duo's.

Christine Haeberman – MELANIE

Christine Haeberman is best known for her work in VH1's Scream Queens 2, (hosted by Jaime King), which won her accolades in the horror genre industry.  She has also appeared in several indie films including ONE DAY LIKE RAIN (alongside Jesse Eisenberg), MURDER LOVES KILLERS TOO, THE MILLENNIUM BUG and THE CATERPILLAR’S KIMONO (starring Ben Savage and Joey Kern). Her commercial credits include Ford, Verizon, Comcast and the list goes on. See more of Christine's credits at IMDB. 

Steve Hanks – MATTHEWS

Steve Hanks started his career as a series regular on an Aaron Spelling ABC television series with his now-famous co-star, Michelle Pfeiffer, and then moved to a recurring series regular as Daisy Duke’s boyfriend on DUKES OF HAZARD. After a 30 year break in acting, he has come back strong with a string of twenty-three films in the last two years, including 12-12-12, HOLD YOUR BREATH, HANSEL AND GRETEL, BUDDY HUTCHINS, and JAILBAIT, all available on Netflix and Apple iTunes.

Arn Chorn-Pond – HEAD MONK

Arn Chorn-Pond is a Cambodian survivor of the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, a world-renowned flute player, and the subject of a newly released novel, NEVER FALL DOWN, a National Book Award finalist, by Patricia McCormick, which is currently being developed into a play. In 2013, he performed at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York for their Season of Cambodia. He founded the Cambodian Living Arts organization, and currently works with the Khmer Magic Music Bus in Cambodia to help heal his people from the wars, the bombs, and the killing fields that still plague them. He promotes peace through the arts and culture of his country of Cambodia.


MEET THE FILMMAKERS:

Khalil Sullins – DIRECTOR, WRITER, PRODUCER

Khalil Sullins is an award-winning writer and director. He was born and raised in San Diego, California. His background is in the visual arts, and his artwork has been exhibited at numerous galleries in Los Angeles. He graduated with honors from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, receiving a B.F.A. in film. He also studied art and photography at Parsons in both Paris and New York. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and producing partner, Pardis Sullins.

Pardis Sullins – PRODUCER

Pardis Sullins was raised in Vancouver, Canada. She studied marketing at British Columbia Institute of Technology. She has traveled extensively, and lived in Yunnan, China for a year volunteering in rural areas. She moved to Los Angeles in 2010 where she started her career in the film and television industry. Working for Rainn Wilson’s company, SOULPANCAKE, she gained experience with all stages of production, including various jobs as producer, production coordinator, and art director on a series created for SUPER SOUL SUNDAY on the OPRAH WINFREY NETWORK. Her first feature film LISTENING has been screened at over 30 Film Festival and won numerous awards. She currently works with her husband to continue creating exciting and original features with their production company.

Travis Nicholson – PRODUCER

Travis Nicholson began his filmmaking career  as an assistant to film-makers such as D.A. Pennebaker (Down from the Mountain), Walter Salles (On the Road), and The Coen Brothers (O' Brother, Where Art Thou?), to name a few.  In 2012, he produced a short entitled The Arm, which received a special Jury award for comedic storytelling at the Sundance Film Festival.  He has since produced three Independant feature films, including Listening. Travis is also an accomplished actor, with over twenty film and television credits.  Earlier this year, a show Travis co-created was sold to Viacom.  He is currently writing and executive producing the 30 minute scripted comedy for entitled Still the King and will be starring alongside Billy Ray Cyrus on CMT.  Filming begins in mid September of this year.

© 2014 OWA SciFi Film Fest, LLC