2015 Fresno Film Festival

November 13-15, 2015

The 2015 Fresno Film Festival, presented by Fresno Filmworks at the historic Tower Theatre, will feature eight exclusive programs of 21 short and feature-length movies from 21 different countries, including special filmmaker appearances, social gatherings, and Q&A discussions.

Tickets for individual programs cost $10 general and $8 for students and seniors; festival passes cost $50. Tickets and passes can be purchased starting October 19 at the Tower Theatre box office, 815 E. Olive Ave. Tickets and passes can be purchased online right now on our Tickets page.

Festival Lineup


Friday, November 13, 2015 @ 7:00 pm

Turkish-French filmmaker Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s impassioned coming-of-age drama presents a heartfelt perspective on the treatment of women in a socially regressive environment. With their long, dark tresses and defiant attitudes, five young sisters in a remote, coastal Turkish village symbolize the freeing spirits of this poignant film’s namesake: Mustang. What starts as the beginning of a fun summer quickly turns into an end of freedoms for Lale and her four sisters. After innocent play and laughter with male classmates at the beach, the sisters’ virtues are quickly called into question by local villagers and relatives. The girls soon find themselves in a culturally repressed home and present a united front to head off any attempts to be “tamed.” In Turkish, with English subtitles

Director: Deniz Gamze Ergüven
France / Turkey / Germany / Qatar (2015)
97 minutes, Not Rated
Distributor: Cohen Media Group

With Opening Night Reception
Admission to the reception, featuring hors d’oeuvres from Casa de Tamales and champagne from Sam’s Italian Deli & Market, is included with a festival pass or with admission to the opening night film.

¡Viva NYICFF! Short Films

Saturday, November 14, 2015 @ 10:00 am

For the first time on the big screen in the Central Valley, the Fresno Film Festival presents an exclusive engagement of short films from Spain and Latin America in this ¡Viva NYICFF! program. Chosen from among the best stories of the past five years from the New York International Children’s Film Festival, this diverse and daring 75-minute selection of short-form cinema features award-winners and audience favorites for all ages to enjoy and appreciate. Time Out New York says the ¡Viva NYICFF! collection “re-defines what kids’ entertainment can be.” With English subtitles.

Distributor: GKids

Screening Sponsor
Arte Américas – Casa de la Cultura


“My Queen” (Minha rainha)
A young girl looks forward to her big debut evening in the Rio de Janeiro carnival as the proud flag bearer for her samba school. Unfortunately, things don’t turn out the way she envisioned. (Live action)
Director: Cecilia Amado • Brazil • 11 minutes

“The Inflatable Grandma” (Amona putz!)
Exasperated parents can sometimes miss Grandma and her help. With the kids driving their parents crazy on a family camping trip, Dad comes up with an ingenious idea to keep them busy. (Live action)
Director: Telmo Esnal • Spain • 9 minutes

“Fifteen Years” (Quince años)
It’s her 15th birthday, and Vianney is getting ready for her quinceñera. But when things go awry on her big day, the best efforts of parents and friends cannot change the fact that she is “not alright.” (Live action)
Director: Liliana Torres • México • 7 minutes

“Grandma Grasshopper” (Abuela Grillo)
Based on a myth from the Bolivian lowlands. When Abuela Grillo sings, rain falls and crops grow. During a drought, a war erupts between villagers who need her and corporate heads who want her. (Animated)
Director: Denis Chapon • Bolivia/Denmark • 13 minutes

“Journey to Mars” (Viaje a Marte)
Like any space-curious boy, Antonio dreams of going to Mars. Luckily for the aspiring space cadet, his grandfather can take him there via his enchanted tow truck. Years later, he sees the truth behind his epic excursion. (Animated)
Director: Juan Pablo Zaramella • Argentina • 16 minutes

A curious nun sets out to discover the darker side of her world. (Animated)
Director: Juan Pablo Zaramella • Argentina • 3 minutes

On cue with the sunrise, each day begins with one man and his fellow residents of the luminous world being compelled to their jobs via sunlight. Tired of his job in the electric bulb factory, one man seeks to change the balance of things. (Mixed media)
Director: Juan Pablo Zaramella • Argentina • 7 minutes

“At the Opera”
Although miniscule in time, the power of one particular opera performance is captured, guaranteeing that the audience will be moved to tears. (Animated)
Director: Juan Pablo Zaramella • Argentina • 1 min

“Grandmother” (Mi abuela)
Once a 7-year-old city girl spends the weekend at her grandmother’s house in the countryside, she learns a beautiful lesson in not being quick to judges others — especially loved ones in her “family tree.” (Animated)
Director: Carlos Smith Rovira • Colombia • 8 min

The Cut

Saturday, November 14, 2015 @ 3:00 pm

A historical epic seven years in the making, “The Cut” concludes acclaimed filmmaker Fatih Akin’s trilogy on love, death, and the devil — preceded by 2004’s “Head-On” and 2007’s “The Edge of Heaven.” The drama tells the story of Nazaret, a young blacksmith from Mardin, Turkey, after he miraculously survives the 1915 Armenian genocide. Years later, still reeling from the horrors of the genocide, Nazaret learns his twin daughters are alive and he begins an epic odyssey — from the Mesopotamian deserts, across the Atlantic to Havana, and to the desolate prairies of North Dakota — to try and reunite with them. On his journey, he meets an array of people, from merciful and angelic beings to the devil incarnate. Co-written by Akin, a Turkish German, with screenwriter Mardik Martin, an Armenian American. Starring Tahar Rahim. In Armenian, Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, Spanish, and English, with English subtitles.

Director: Fatih Akin
Germany / France / Poland / Italy / Canada / Turkey (2014)
138 minutes, Not Rated
Distributor: Strand Releasing

Screening Sponsor
Armenian Studies Program — Fresno State

Filmmaker Q&A
After the screening, join visiting screenwriter Mardik Martin to talk about the movie. Martin immigrated to the United States from Iraq in the 1950s and attended New York University, where he later met and soon became friends with fellow student and now iconic director Martin Scorsese. Martin graduated with a Master’s degree and then went on to teach screenwriting at NYU from 1968 to 1973. In the years following, he wrote and co-wrote screenplays that led to some of the most distinguished American films of the 20th Century: Scorsese’s “Mean Streets,” “New York, New York” and the Oscar-winner “Raging Bull.” Martin teaches as a Senior Lecturer at the renowned USC film school and came out of semi-retirement to collaborate with Turkish director Fatih Akin on “The Cut.”

Additional support for this special filmmaker appearance comes from: Dr. Lillian Faderman & Dr. Phyllis Irwin, and Paul E. Pierce & Patience Milrod.


Saturday, November 14, 2015 @ 12:15 pm

Though the migrant crisis in Europe is dominating headlines in 2015, many immigrant struggles — leaving their familiar homes behind, paying large sums for a unsafe trek, and trusting strangers to guide their families across deserts and oceans toward more uncertainty — remain invisible to most. Hitting on a devastatingly timely topic, Italian-American director Jonas Carpignano’s debut feature manages to capture the scope of a global crisis through intimate terms. Through a neorealist shooting style, “Mediterranea” follows best friends Ayiva and Abas on their treacherous journey from Burkina Faso in West Africa to Italy, where the two find themselves conflicted with reality and the dream life they set out for. In French and Italian, with English subtitles.

Director: Jonas Carpignano
Italy / France / USA / Germany / Qatar (2015)
110 minutes, Not Rated
Distributor: IFC Films

The Wanted 18

Saturday, November 14, 2015 @ 7:30 pm

Artist Amer Shomali and filmmaker Paul Cowan bring to life an astonishing story of nonviolent resistance during the First Intifada of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 1987, the Palestinian townsmen of Beit Sahour decide to buy 18 cows and produce their own milk as part of a self-sufficiency movement, in lieu of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. After their cows are declared a “threat to the security of the state of Israel,” the dairy goes underground, hidden in the night, while the cows continue to produce their “Intifada milk” with the Israeli army in nonstop pursuit. Through an innovative blend of archival footage, stop-motion animation and interviews, this moo-ving documentary re-creates a serious piece of history while also finding humor in the absurdity of it all. In Arabic, Hebrew, and English, with English subtitles.

Directors: Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan
Palestine / Canada / France (2014)
75 minutes, Not Rated
Distributor: Kino Lorber

Screening Sponsor
Aimee & Kamal Abu-Shamsieh

Filmmaker Q&A
After the screening, join visiting director Paul Cowan to talk about the movie. The Canadian filmmaker has been prolific in his 40-year career for highlighting controversial issues. His previous works include: capturing the rise and fall of billionaire Robert Campeau (“Double or Nothing”), chronicling Dr. Henry Morgentaler on a contentious abortion crusade (“Democracy on Trial”), depicting wrongly-convicted murderer Donald Marshall’s landmark battle against Nova Scotia’s justice system (“Justice Denied”) and more. Cowan has also been nominated for an Academy Award for “Going the Distance,” a documentary about the 1978 Commonwealth Games.

Additional support for this special filmmaker appearance comes from: V. Ellis Vance & Robin L. Greiner; Kristopher Watanabe, PT; and Christine & Howard K. Watkins.

Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015 @ 1:30 pm

For the first time on the big screen in the Central Valley, the Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour stops at the Fresno Film Festival for an exclusive engagement. Showcasing a wide variety of stories and styles, the 2015 program features six short films that won awards this year at Sundance, which over the course of its more than 30-year history has been widely considered the premiere showcase for short films and has served as the launchpad for many now-prominent independent filmmakers. Including live action, documentary, and animation from around the world, this 83-minute short film program traverses a range of styles from wild comedy to quiet poetry and beyond.

Distributor: Sundance Institute

Screening Sponsor
Fresno Arts Council


“World of Tomorrow”
When a little girl named Emily meets a third-generation clone of herself, she soon learns through an eye-opening animated journey what the future will hold for herself and society. Winner of the Short Film Jury Award for Best of Fest.
Director: Don Hertzfeldt • USA • 17 minutes

A young single mother attempts to reclaim the freedoms of her former life when she invites a former lover over for a late-night visit. Winner of the Short Film Jury Prize for U.S. Fiction.
Director: Frankie Shaw • USA • 9 minutes

“Oh Lucy!”
Middle-aged office worker Setsuko finds her meek existence turned upside down when taking English classes from an unorthodox American instructor. Once she’s given a blonde wig and is required to refer to herself as ‘Lucy,’ Setsuko finds a new, liberating persona. Winner of the Short Film Jury Prize for International Fiction.
Director: Atsuko Hirayanagi • Japan/Singapore/USA • 22 minutes

“The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul”
Through a series of “screen tests,” a group of young girls strive to be cast as the Olympic figure skater and Ukrainian icon, all while sharing their recent memories of the war-torn country. Winner of the Short Film Jury Prize for Non-Fiction.
Director: Kitty Green • Russia/Ukraine • 7 minutes

“Storm Hits Jacket”
After a surreal storm hits the western coast of France, two research scientists find themselves caught in the chaos. They try to keep their latest invention safe from thieves and the zany weather itself. Winner of the Short Film Jury Prize for Animation.
Director: Paul Cabon • France • 13 minutes

Beneath a frozen-over lake, an ambiguous underwater search turns and twists through the multi-faceted views of the deep-sea diver, his rescue team, and the bystanders patiently waiting on the shoreline. Winner of the Short Film Special Jury Prize for Poetic Vision.
Directed by Paulina Skibińska • Poland • 15 minutes

The Russian Woodpecker

Sunday, November 15, 2015 @ 4:00 pm

Winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, this debut feature from director Chad Gracia contains equal parts Cold War thriller and hypnotic comedy — and it’s sure to bring out the conspiracy theorist in everyone. Ukrainian artist Fedor Alexandrovich was a young boy when the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded in 1986, spreading radioactive residue throughout northern Europe. Near Chernobyl, Fedor researches a secret Soviet broadcasting antenna, which transmitted an odd clicking noise across global airwaves for years. An obsessed Fedor interviews Soviet officials and scientists about its purpose and soon develops a dark theory of the antenna’s part in the nuclear disaster. In Russian and English, with English subtitles.

Director: Chad Gracia
Ukraine / UK / USA (2015)
80 minutes, Not Rated
Distributor: Film Buff

Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine

Sunday, November 15, 2015 @ 6:30 pm

From Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney comes an insightful, piercing documentary into the legacy of a man revered worldwide as a genius, while those close to him felt the weight of his ambition — the late Steve Jobs. With his black turtleneck, blue jeans, and a ubiquitous Apple shining behind him, Jobs’s image was iconic. Through archival footage and candid interviews with co-workers and journalists, Gibney seeks to understand if the tech legend’s contradictory nature toward his work and personal life affected not only those close to him, but the millions of customers who mourned him. Gibney — best known for “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” and “We Steal Secrets” — goes beyond the Apple stage to take an unflinching look into the man who forever shaped Silicon Valley.

Director: Alex Gibney
USA (2015)
128 minutes, Rated R
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

Screening Sponsor
Sharmayne Sikora, CPA

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