James (Ryan O’Nan) returns from Iraq to face a new battle – reintegrating into his small-town life in Texas. His wife (America Ferrera), his mother (Melissa Leo), and his friend (Jason Ritter) provide support, but they can’t fully understand the pain and suffering he feels since his tour of duty ended. Lonely, James reconnects with an army buddy (Wilmer Valderrama), who provides him with compassion and camaraderie during his battle to process his experiences in Iraq. But their reunion also exposes the different ways that war affects people – at least on the surface.
This moving, taut story of redemption and reconstruction extends beyond a post-traumatic-stress-disorder narrative. O’Nan is heartbreaking as he explores the depths of his internal struggles; Ferrera fearlessly tackles her role of a young wife in turmoil. The Dry Land is about one man’s fight within his own terrain – his country, home, and mind – and his journey to rebuild what he’s lost.
2010 Sundance Film Festival Selection
Director: Ryan Piers Williams Screenwriter: Ryan Piers Williams Cast: Ryan O’Nan, America Ferrera, Jason Ritter, Wilmer Valderrama, Melissa Leo, June Diane Raphael Executive producer: Sergio Aguero, America Ferrera Producer: Heather Rae
Winner of awards at 2009 Heartland Film Festival and 2009 Woodstock Film Festival
AFTER THE STORM is a feature-length documentary film that follows the production of the musical Once on this Island from auditions through performances and also includes the story of each young actor’s life in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The focus is not on rescues, evacuations and losses, but on survival, hopes and dreams.
The film explores the cultural landscape of New Orleans as seen through the eyes of these teenage artists. The goal of the film – through character development and a narrative scene structure – is to create an emotional and entertaining storytelling experience that celebrates the spirit and culture of New Orleans at a specific point in history. AFTER THE STORM depicts a unique American city and how it is beginning to piece itself back together. The film also explores how art can be used as a tool for healing and growth and the power a community wields by sharing its story, locally and beyond.
Director: Hilla Medalia Producers: Hilla Medalia and James Lecesne Executive Producers: John, Ed, and Mark Priddy
HBO Documentary Films, 2008 Peabody Award winner; 3 Emmy nominations; Grand Jury & Audience Award winner, Faito Doc Film Festival
Saturday, June 19th, 7 pm
TO DIE IN JERUSALEM presents the deadly conflict between Israel and Palestine through the eyes of two families who both lost their daughters in the conflict. Ever since 17-year-old Rachel Levy, an Israeli, was killed in 2002 in Jerusalem by a Palestinian suicide bomber, her mother Avigail has found hardly a moment’s peace. Levy’s killer was Ayat al-Akhras, also 17, a schoolgirl from a Palestinian refugee camp several miles away. The two young women looked unbelievably alike. The impact of the blast that killed them both remains as powerful today as it was the moment of the explosion. The recent events in Gaza make this film timely again as it explores the difficult challenge of a peaceful and just resolution to the conflict. By contrasting the lives and deaths of these two teenage girls, the documentary offers a personal perspective that is all too often eclipsed by political issues. The film explores on one side, al-Akhras’ reasons and ideology, and the events that led her to sacrifice her life. On the other, Levy, who paid with her life when she was caught up in the ongoing conflict during her daily routine. The film’s glimpse into each young woman’s world seeks to enhance the viewer’s understanding of the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, while opening a window into the lives of these tragic families as they cope with their pain.
Director: Hilla Medalia Executive Producers: John and Ed Priddy
It's just another day in Israel, as a young woman and her fiancé head for the bus she'll be taking to Tel Aviv to return to the University and her studies. But this is no ordinary day, and Israel is no ordinary place. Short that precedes the feature film: To Die in Jerusalem.