This year, from May 24-28, Mammoth Lakes Film Festival brings lovers of film, especially indies an exciting line up from documentaries to feature films, and more. The festival will feature a Short Films Program of 38 Narrative Shorts, 24 documentary shorts and 17 animation shorts, as well as a program of music videos and a screenplay competition.
Opening and Closing Night Films at Mammoth Lakes Film Festival 2023
Films will be screened at various venues across Mammoth Lakes, CA.
The festival will open on May 24 with “Queendom” directed by Agniia Galdanova, a spectacular yet intimate portrait of a brave Russian transgender performance artist and her dangerous journey of self-actualization. The closing night on May 28 will feature the West Coast Premiere of “Kokomo City” directed by D. Smith, a raw depiction of the lives of four black trans sex workers as they confront the dichotomy between the black community and themselves. In the wake of the tragic murder of Koko Da Doll, one of the subjects of the documentary, the film has sadly taken on an added poignancy.
“It’s the artist’s responsibility to create change by holding up a mirror to society,” said Festival Director Shira Dubrovner, “inspiring audiences to self-reflection and taking action to better the world around us. This year’s lineup is a showcase of how artists can change the way we see and connect and we can’t wait to share their work.”
Director of Programming Paul Sbrizzi added, “Two of the most compelling documentaries we came across this year happened to be transgender stories, highlighting characters living in circumstances that threaten their survival, and we are so thrilled to showcase Queendom and Kokomo City as our opening and closing Spotlight films.”
The MLFF feature film line-up is as follows:
North American Narrative Features:
Free Time (USA) – Approaching the end of his twenties, a man impulsively decides to quit his cushy desk job and “embrace life” — only to realize he doesn’t really have one. Directed and written by Ryan Martin Brown. West Coast Premiere
I Said Daddy I Said (USA) – LaLa’s plan to leave her abusive boyfriend Daddy crumbles around her when she realizes someone is watching her every move. Directed by Sebastian Karantonis and written by Sebastian Karantonis and Ryan Miller. World Premiere
Love Dump (USA) – Trash-filled love ensues when a quirky antique shop owner searches for her missing father and falls for a determined dog lawyer along the way. Directed by Jason Avezzano and written by Leila Gorstein and Jesse Kendall. California Premiere
Pure Gesticulation (USA) – When Son begins a mysterious new business venture instructing strangers over the phone, Mother can’t help but involve herself. Mother plus Son to the power of gravity… Directed and written by Joey Hirsh. World Premiere
Unicorn Boy (USA) – When a heartbroken young artist is sucked into a unicorn-run alternate dimension, they must help conquer a dark force in order to bring peace to the kingdom and themselves. Directed and written by Matt Kiel. California Premiere
International Narrative Features:
The Horse Tail (Poland) – Diana, an aging sex worker, comes back to a town at the foot of a cliff, between a rubbish dump, barns, and a forest, where people form incestuous relationships and hold painful secrets. Directed and written by Justyna Łuczaj. World Premiere
Mad Cats (Japan) – Taka, a shiftless young man, teams up with a quirky new friend and an edgy, mysterious young girl, on a quest to find his brother who has been kidnapped by a pack of vicious monster cats determined to execute unscrupulous pet shop owners. Directed and written by Reiki Tsuno. West Coast Premiere
Nut Jobs (Canada) – Benjamin tells his ex-girlfriend Angie that he joined a leftist terrorist cell to avenge her from being fired by an awful right-wing talk radio station. His wild story revolves around a hallucinogenic vinyl record album, and Angie suspects he’s making it all up just to get her back. Directed by Alexandre Leblanc. Written by Alexandre Leblanc and Julien Grégoire. West Coast Premiere
Where the Road Leads (Serbia) – A stranger arrives in an isolated village and the locals suspect his involvement in constructing a highway nearby; their intolerance gradually builds to open conflict. Jana falls in love with him and sees the danger; she’s the only one who can save him. Directed and written by Nina Ognjanović.
North American Documentary Features:
A Still Small Voice (USA) – An aspiring hospital chaplain begins a yearlong residency in spiritual care, only to discover that to successfully tend to her patients, she must look deep within herself. Directed by Luke Lorentzen. West Coast Premiere
Mississippi River Styx (USA) – An enigmatic drifter with terminal cancer lives his dream of floating down the Mississippi River on a ramshackle houseboat — until locals start to question his story. Directed by Tim Grant & Andy McMillan. California Premiere
Name of the Game (USA) – The untold story of black male exotic dancing in south Los Angeles and how it intersects with the origins of hip hop, gang culture, and kung fu assassins. Directed by William Forbes and Douglas Skinner. World Premiere
Starring Jerry as Himself (USA) – A family re-enacts the unbelievable, twisting true story of how their immigrant father Jerry, a recently divorced and retired Florida man, was unexpectedly recruited by the Chinese police to be an undercover agent in an international money laundering investigation. Directed by Law Chen. West Coast Premiere
International Documentary Features:
Destiny (Iran) – A poignant profile of a smart and gifted teenage girl who desperately wants to go to college but has to face hard choices in the wake of her mother’s tragic passing and her father’s need for daily assistance. Directed and written by Yaser Talebi. West Coast Premiere
Naked Israel (Israel) – Interviewees are exposed both physically and mentally in this irreverent look at Israeli masculinity, through a series of interviews with men from a broad range of ages and backgrounds. Directed by Ines Moldavsky. World Premiere
No Place For You In Our Town (Bulgaria) – A group of hooligans from a decaying ex-mining city cling to their soccer team’s success as though their lives depend on it. When they face a series of personal and communal collapses, it seems that the whole world is changing — but will they? Directed by NIkolay Stefanov. US Premiere
To Kill A Tiger (India) – Ranjit takes on the fight of his life when he seeks justice for his 13-year old daughter, the victim of a gang rape. Directed by Nisha Kumari Pahuja.
Burning Stone (USA) – An ensemble of hypnotic instruments and choir weave together, intersect, and thread sonic and visual information in an unconventional approach to musical film. Directed by Tyler Brunner. Written by Claire Fraleigh. World Premiere
Kokomo City (USA) – Four outspoken Black transgender sex workers explore the dichotomy between the Black community and themselves, confronting long-avoided issues with deep insight, thoughtfulness, and a tart sense of humor. Directed by D. Smith. California Premiere
Queendom (Russia) – Gena, a queer artist from a small town in Russia, stages radical performances in public that become a new form of art and activism—and put her life in danger. Directed by Agniia Galdanova.
MLFF jurors include: Allison Amon (EP, Superconductor), Kimberley Browning (Programmer, Tribeca), Sandrine Cassidy (USC), Sarah Crowe (Filmmaker, Amazon), Sarah Diamond (Programmer, Slamdance), Dan Perlman (Flatbush Misdemeanors), Shaun Hill (Indican Pictures), Sandra Seeling Lipski (Founder, Evolution Mallorca Int’l Film Festival), Margeaux Sippell (MovieMaker Magazine), Ana Souza (Programmer, Sundance), Scott Steindorff (Producer), Jacques Thelemaque (Filmmaker, Founder Filmmakers Alliance), and Brian Welk (Indiewire).
Over $40,000 in cash and prizes will be given out in ten categories to this year’s films in competition. Winners will be announced on May 28 at the Awards Ceremony.
The last day to purchase early bird tickets and passes is May 5, 2023.
About the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival
The Mammoth Lakes Film Festival, held in the scenic and majestic setting of Mammoth Lakes in the Eastern Sierra region of California, brings together world-class cinema, emerging filmmakers, industry veterans, and audiences from around the world to celebrate films with thought-provoking filmmaking. The Mammoth Lakes Film Festival is a non-profit 501 (c)3 under the Eastern Sierra Arts Alliance, which has contributed to the arts and culture of the area through theatre and film festival programming. Visit www.MammothLakesFilmFestival.com for more information or connect on Facebook and Twitter.
2023 Mammoth Lakes Film Festival Sponsors include Panavision, Tambour Foundation, Limelight Residences Mammoth, LightIron, Mammoth Brewing Company, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, Mono County, Mammoth Lakes Recreation, Mammoth Lakes Tourism, National Endowment for the Arts, Sierra Nevada Resort An Outbound Hotel, Slated, and more.