An Array of Adaptations Await

September 6, 2022

FilmScene is thrilled to announce eight highlights from the inaugural Refocus Film Festival.

These selections represent a diverse array of storytelling, adapted from, informed by, and in conversation with other works of art. All eight films will screen for the first time in Iowa, the Midwest, or the United States.

Films include documentaries on famed musicians from Thelonious Monk to The Strokes, an all trans cast in a form-breaking cross-examination of 50s gender health archives, Tolstoy’s letters and diaries interpreted by a famed documentarian, a zombie comedy that opened Cannes, an immigrant’s story told through letters sent from prison, a family drama adapted from a Palestinian novelist, and a traveling 35mm print — the only one in existence — which can only be seen in theaters before it deteriorates.

Want to ensure you get tickets to these great films? Passholders choose their films first!


Directed by Will Lovelace, Dylan Southern

Refocused from the book Meet Me in the Bathroom (Lizzy Goodman)

Dialogue with Author Lizzy Goodman

Official Selection: Sundance Film Festival 2022

The 2000s saw an explosion in the indie rock scene in New York City. Lizzy Goodman's book, Meet Me in the Bathroom, details those ramshackle sessions that spawned overnight sensations and cult favorites. With unprecedented access to footage of bands like The Strokes, Interpol, and many more, this film gives us access into the lives of the musicians that created a scene that went round the world.


Directed by Eran Kolirin

Refocused from the Hebrew-language novel Let It Be Morning by Palestinian author Sayed Kashua

Official Submission: 94th Annual Academy Awards (Israel)

Adapted from the Hebrew language novel of the same name by Palestinian author Sayed Kashua, this gentle comedic drama follows Sami, as he finds himself and his family stuck back in the Arabic village where he grew up. The latest from the director of The Band's Visit deals with some charged issues of class and identity.


Directed by Michel Hazanavicius

Refocused from the 2017 Japanese film One Cut of the Dead

Official Selection: Cannes Film Festival 2022 (Opening Night selection)

An adaptation of a modern cult classic (One Cut of the Dead) that itself was an adaptation of a play from the Academy Award winning director of The Artist, this bloody zom-com stays true to its predecessor, even casting one of the the actors from the original film in one of many meta shoutouts.


Directed by Frederick Wiseman

Refocused from the letters and diaries of Leo and Sophia Tolstoy

Official Selection: Venice Film Festival 2022

At 92 years old, legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman (Titicut Follies) has made only a handful of fiction films. His latest is a collaboration with Nathalie Boutefeu who co-wrote and stars in this adaptation of letters and diary entries from Leo and Sophia Tolstoy.


Directed by Chase Joynt

Refocused from 1950s archives of the UCLA gender health clinic.

Dialogue with Filmmaker
Official Selection: Sundance Film Festival 2022 (NEXT Audience Award, NEXT Innovator Award).

After discovering the 1950 case files of a trans woman forced to choose between honesty and access to care, a trans director and cast interpret archival transcripts as talk show in a meta examination of the power, privilege, and perils of visibility.


Directed by Alain Gomis

Refocused from Thelonius Monk’s 1969 appearance on French television show Jazz Portrait

Official Selection: Berlin International Film Festival 2022

Using rushes from an episode of the French television show Jazz Portrait from December 1969 on which Thelonius Monk appeared, director Alain Gomis recontextualizes the footage of Monk's time in Paris, before his evening concert, to give us a raw and intimate look at an artist who is in the grip of the violent factory of stereotypes from which he is trying to escape.


Directed by Rodrigo Reyes

Refocused from letters sent between the filmmaker and the titular character, a prisoner at Pelican Bay State Prison

Dialogue with Director Rodrigo Reyes
Official Selection: Tribeca Festival 2022

How do you make a film about a person who isn't allowed to be filmed? Director Rodrigo Reyes seeks to do just that as he adapts his letters and conversations with Sansón, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who was sentenced to life in a California prison without parole, casting his family members for re-enactments of his personal history.


Directed by Charlie Shackleton

Refocused from hundreds of film fragments, each no longer alive, to create a living record

Official Selection: CPH:DOX 2022

Using footage from hundreds of films over decades of film history, The Afterlight tells a ghost story of sorts that is itself disappearing. This archival film brings together an ensemble cast of actors with one thing in common: each is no longer alive. There exists only a single 35mm print of the film. No digital copies. Touring around the world, director Charlie Shackelton's archival film is meant to deteriorate over time. As the film erodes with each projection, it will succumb to the same fate as those in it. It will cease to exist entirely.


Your pass is a promise. 

Our full festival film lineup will be released the week of September 12th. Why buy your pass now? The festival is an immersive experience. So whether you prioritize the films, the conversations, the happy hours, or you're just here for the communal celebration, we can promise both a good time and new films you haven't seen.

Festival passholders also get the first chance to select their films, before they go on sale to the public. Seating will be limited so a pass is your surest way to see the films you're most excited for AND support our work.

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