Still from Picnic at Hanging Rock
Image courtesy of Variety

Four Alumni in Tribeca Film Festival

April 30, 2018

Four Alumni premiered work at the Tribeca Film Festival this year. Among them, The Dark, which is alumnus Justin P. Lange’s '14 screenwriting and directorial debut, Salam, written and directed by alumna Claire Fowler '11, Picnic at Hanging Rock with episodes directed be alumna Larysa Kondracki '01, and Sweetbitter, with an episode directed by alumna Cherien Dabis '04.


Still from The Dark

Still from The Dark, image courtesy of Screen Anarchy


Lange’s The Dark follows Mina, played by Nadia Alexander, who won the 2017 prize for Best Actress in a U.S. Narrative Feature Film. Mina haunts her childhood home in the woods, feasting on anyone who crosses her path—Until she meets Alex, a blind boy who she feels compassion for and chooses to spare. Alex awakens Mina’s empathy and love, revealing “that she might be more alive than she thought.”


Justin Lange lives in Los Angeles. He has written and directed the short film, Vater Paul (2010). According to his bio, “he only wears red shoes.”


In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Lange stated, “[My film] is scary and disturbing and draws from a range of different influences, such as Psycho, Let the Right One In, Pan’s Labyrinth, and No Country for Old Men. Ultimately at its core, this is an emotional story about two kids who were robbed of the ability to be just And they find in each other an understanding and an empathy that opens up a pathway back to innocence.”


By contrast, Claire Fowler’s film, Salam, follows “a female Lyft driver [as she] navigates the night shift in New York City while waiting to hear life-or-death news from her family in Syria.” Salam is currently Fowler’s seventh film.


In a guest blog post on Women in Film & Television UK, Fowler spoke about how the film’s genesis was a result of President Trump’s election and Muslim Ban. Fowler said, “This [ban] served as both a catalyst and an impediment to the project. Like many people, I felt quite hopeless, but at the same time it was more important than ever to make a film that countered the negative stereotypes of immigrants—specifically Arab immigrants—being churned out. So I pressed ahead, trying to raise the remaining funds I needed…”


Fowler’s previous shorts include Noodles (2016), Two Missing (2014), and Mum’s Not In (2011), among others. Born in Wales, her films and documentaries have showcased at Sheffield Docfest UK, the International Human Rights Watch Festival and the International Film festival Rotterdam. In 2014, her screenplay, Little House, won first prize in the Short Scripts Screenwriting Competition and Starz Denver Screenwriting Competition.


Still from Picnic at Hanging Rock

Still from Picnic at Hanging Rock, image courtesy of Variety


Alumna Larysa Kondracki directed three episodes of the much anticipated TV mini-series Picnic at Hanging Rock, which ​will premiere next month. Kondracki graduated from Columbia's General Studies college in 2001 and studied in the MFA Film program until 2006. The mini-series, Picnic at Hanging Rock, includes six episodes and stars Game of Thrones actress Natalie Dormer through a re-imagining of Australian author Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel, which “chronicles the mysterious disappearances of three schoolgirls and one teacher on Valentine’s Day 1900,” according to Variety. “The complex, interwoven narrative follows the subsequent investigation and the event’s far-reaching impact on the students, families, and staff of Appleyard College and on the nearby township.”


Still from Sweetbitter

Still from Sweetbitter, image courtesy of Cosmopolitan


Cherien Dabis '04 directed an episode of the upcoming series Sweetbitter, which also screened at the festival. The series will premiere on Starz in May. "Following 22-year-old Tess who, shortly after arriving in New York City, lands a job at a celebrated downtown restaurant and learns to navigate the chaotically alluring, yet punishing life she has stumbled upon."


Tribeca Film Festival ran April 18 - 29, 2018.