Hong Chau, Melanie Lynskey, Sheryl Lee Ralph to Present at Artios Awards – Film News in Brief

Casting Society (CSA) announced Hong Chau (“The Whale,” “The Menu”), Anna Camp (“Pitch Perfect”), Melanie Lynskey (“The Last of Us”) and Sheryl Lee Ralph (“Abbott Elementary”) are among the presenters for its 38th Artios Awards taking place in both Los Angeles and New York City.

Also presenting at the Los Angeles gala alongside host Yvette Nicole Brown are Utkarsh Ambudkar, Paul Walter Hauser, Andrew Leeds, Sam Richardson, Britt Robertson, Glynn Turman and Tuc Watkins. Sarita Choudhury, Jordan E. Cooper, Rory Culkin, Khris Davis, Alex Edelman, Raúl Esparza, Katie Finneran, Katrina Lenk, Nicole Ari Parker, Peppermint, Morgan Spector, Chris Sullivan and Kuhoo Verma will present at the New York ceremony, with Amber Ruffin as host.

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The Artios Awards has 20 categories spanning film, TV and theater. The ceremonies will take place Thursday, March 9.

WePresent Drops Trailer for Documentary ‘Life is Excellent’

WePresent, the arts platform behind the Oscar-winning short “The Long Goodbye,” released the trailer for its first feature documentary “Life is Excellent.”

In the documentary, actor and art enthusiast Russell Tovey (“American Horror Story,” “Looking”) works to understand poet and artist David Robilliard, who died of AIDS in 1988 at age 36.

The trailer drop comes with a larger announcement that Tovey will complete a guest curatorship with WePresent. Through the curatorship, Tovey will share LGBTQ artists’ work before and through the AIDS crisis with projects releasing this summer including the documentary and live performances.

“As a 40-year-old queer man, I feel the responsibility to make sure that this stuff that matters to me and my kind, actually matters to everyone,” said Tovey in a statement.

Check out the trailer for “Life is Excellent” below.

AFI Announces New Partnership with Disney, The Underrepresented Storytellers Initiative

The Disney/ AFI Underrepresented Storytellers Initiative is an expansion of Disney’s Launchpad program and will work to remove economic barriers for new filmmakers.

The Underrepresented Storytellers Initiative has awarded the four finalists, Razzaaq Boykin, Paige Compton, Blake Pickens and Sophia Youssef, a microgrant of $35,000 to direct a short film, as well as access to AFI and Disney Launchpad mentor meetings and professional development workshops.

The chosen finalists will have until the summer to complete their short films.

The AFI and Disney collaboration is a part of the Disney Future Storytellers Initiative, which invests in the next generation of storytellers. In addition to the recent Underrepresented Storytellers Initiative, Disney Launchpad and AFI have worked together to provide program curriculum for Launchpad filmmakers.

Susan Ruskin, Dean of the AFI Conservatory and EVP of the American Film Institute said, “Building on the success of our innovative programs that have redefined the landscape of the entertainment industry, the Disney/AFI Underrepresented Storytellers Initiative provides a critical opportunity for emerging filmmakers, and we look forward to working with our notable Alumni to serve as mentors and our esteemed Faculty to provide the necessary tools for success for each of the finalists.”

Sarasota Film Festival to Honor Producer Roma Downey, Screen ‘On a Wing and a Prayer’

Sarasota Film Festival announced its initial programming lineup for its 25th celebration.

Roma Downey, an Emmy-nominated actor and producer whose credits include “Touched by an Angel,” “Son of God” and “Borrowed Hearts” will receive the festival’s career honors. A screening of Downey’s recent Prime Video film “On a Wing and a Prayer” will close out the festival.

Indigo Girls, the Grammy-winning duo of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, will be presented with the festival’s Maestro Award. The festival will screen the Indigo Girls’ documentary “It’s Only Life After All” as its documentary centerpiece. The festival will also screen Lisa Cortes’ “Little Richard: I Am Everything” and Roger Ross Williams and Brooklyn Sudano’s “Love to Love You, Donna Summer.”

Sarasota Film Festival runs March 24 to April 2 in Sarasota, Fla. See the festival’s website for more details on programming and submissions.

Micheaux Film Festival Announces Dates for Fifth Year Celebrations, Calls for Submissions

The Micheaux Film Festival is back for its fifth year to highlight diverse representation in entertainment as well as BIPOC and multicultural creators at its July event. The festival, helmed by Noel Braham and Courtney L. Branch, works to amplify underrepresented voices.

“We created this festival as a way to showcase avant-garde talent and highlight disruptive, bold, and noteworthy creatives,” said festival co-founder Braham in a statement. “Over these past 5 years it has transformed into something we never could have imagined. Our goal is to ensure the 2023 Micheaux Film Festival will be an unforgettable experience for all attendees and feature industry screenings, sneak peaks, exclusive conversations with creative visionaries, riveting social events, activations, and so much more – as we further elevate and serve as a unique space for all artists regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, military service, or other non-merit factor.”

The festival runs July 10 to 16 at the Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live. Submissions are open for episodic, shorts, features and podcasts with a final deadline of April 30. See the festival’s website for eligibility details.

Vanessa Roth, Kathy Ireland to Attend Virtual ‘Anxious Nation’ Global Premiere

“Anxious Nation,” an upcoming documentary from Academy Award winning director Vanessa Roth, will have its global premiere May 3, followed by a live-streamed panel with the film’s cast and crew.

Joining Roth for the virtual conversation is co-director, writer and producer Laura Morton along with executive producer Kathy Ireland and cast members like Tim Storey and Lynn Lyons. Other guests will be announced closer to the film’s debut.

The feature documentary spotlights the state of mental health in the United States, placing emphasis on how subjects, ages 11-26 are impacted by anxiety. The film also utilizes personal interviews with the families of kids navigating anxiety diagnoses.

“Anxiety does not discriminate, it affects people from every different culture and socio-economic background, and the film portrays this through its diverse stories,” said Morton, whose teenage daughter is one of the documentary participants. “Our kids are in crisis and it’s only getting worse.”

The virtual screening and conversation are being hosted in partnership with Area 23a and Lasega Films. “Anxious Nation” will hit U.S. theaters after its worldwide premiere and will be available for streaming May 5 through Anxious Nation Virtual Cinema.

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