[New York, May 11, 2017] – IFC Center today announced the first portion of its impressive lineup for the inaugural Split Screens Festival taking place Friday, June 2 through Thursday, June 8, 2017, at the IFC Center in New York City. Throughout the week, the festival will host a series of special events celebrating the art and craft of TV with exclusive screenings and vibrant panel conversations featuring the biggest and boldest names in scripted content. Tickets to the public go on sale beginning Thursday, May 11.
Curated by one of television's biggest fans, author and critic Matt Zoller Seitz, the festival will be anchored by four signature categories: PREMIERES, an opportunity for audiences to be among the first to screen an anticipated new series; CLOSE-UP, focused primarily on the work of one or two celebrated actors in a series; SHOWCASE, which will take a deeper look at a series through the lens of its creators, producers and stars; and REWIND, revisiting an iconic episode of television via a screening and conversation with the creatives who have brought their vision to life.
The festival's opening night will kick-off with a world PREMIERE of HBO’s highly anticipated new NYC period drama, “The Deuce” followed by a Q&A with series producer and co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal, pilot director Michelle MacLaren and series co-creator George Pelecanos. Additional highlights throughout the week include: SHOWCASE events on acclaimed series “Difficult People” (Hulu), “The Get Down” (Netflix), “Orphan Black” (BBC AMERICA), and “Search Party” (TBS); REWIND panels on “The Girlfriend Experience”(STARZ), and “Underground” (WGN America); CLOSE-UP conversations featuring Asia Kate Dillon of “Billions" (Showtime), Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet of “Brockmire” (IFC), Rami Malek, star of “Mr. Robot” (USA Network), and the many faces of Michael McKean who currently stars as Chuck McGill on “Better Call Saul” (AMC).
Additional festival programs and special events, including awards presentations, will be announced in the coming days.
Most festival screenings and panel discussions will be hosted and moderated by Split Screens artistic director Matt Zoller Seitz. As Editor-in-Chief of RogerEbert.com, TV critic for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism, and the author of TV (The Book) and studies on Wes Anderson, Oliver Stone and Mad Men, Seitz, the ultimate TV fan, knows that audiences can't get enough of good television content.
Seitz said: "First and foremost, I am a fan--so studying the great work of these casts and creators has been an honor. What we have done in this inaugural Split Screens Festival is to cull what we believe to be the best of the best in today's content landscape and it has been thrilling and as a creative myself, incredibly humbling. I look forward to having both powerful and meaningful dialogue throughout the week and am excited about the opportunity to share art and craft of these programs with passionate and enthusiastic TV fans from NY and beyond."
“We are thrilled to welcome the first-ever Split Screens Festival to New York City next month,” said Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner, Julie Menin. “Our city’s television production industry is booming like never before, and the Festival is an ideal venue to celebrate and reflect upon the groundbreaking content being created in this increasingly popular medium. I thank the IFC Center for their partnership and encourage New Yorkers to experience this celebration of creativity in the entertainment world.”
SPLIT SCREENS FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
FRIDAY, JUNE 2
7:00PM - “THE DEUCE” (HBO) OPENING NIGHT PREMIERE
In person: Series producer and co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal, pilot director Michelle MacLaren and series co-creator George Pelecanos
Split Screens premieres the pilot episode of HBO’s eagerly anticipated New York period drama from executive producers David Simon and George Pelecanos (The Wire), about the rise of the porn industry in and around Times Square in the 1970s. The cast includes Maggie Gyllenhaal as an entrepreneurial sex worker and James Franco as twin brothers who serve as fronts for the Mafia. True to form for a producing team that shepherded The Wire and Treme into existence, The Deuce is a beating-heart-of-the-city drama that explores the interconnectedness of characters from different social classes and ethnicities, some of whom find themselves at odds over money, honor and the obligation to uphold the law.
SATURDAY, JUNE 3
4:30 PM – “MR. ROBOT” (USA Network) CLOSE-UP with Rami Malek
In person: Actor Rami Malek
It’s tricky enough to be the lead actor on a TV drama, more so when you’re in almost every scene, and trickier still when your character narrates the show. USA Network’s Golden Globe® award winner Mr. Robot tasks its star, Rami Malek, with all these responsibilities, then adds more: It’s one of the most relentlessly interior shows, inviting you into the headspace of its lead character—computer expert and secret vigilante hacker Elliot Alderson—and showing you the world as he sees it.
Through clips and discussion, the event takes a deep dive with Malek into his performance as the show’s title character. Playing an introvert turned underground revolutionary, Malek shapes his role through research and prep work, posture and gestures, and even the way he modulates his voice between Elliot’s dialogue with different characters and his voiceover narration directly to the audience.
9:00 PM – “SEARCH PARTY” (TBS) - SHOWCASE
In person: Series creators, co-directors and executive producers Sarah-Violet Blissand Charles Rogers, and Executive Producer Lilly Burns
It’s rare to encounter a TV series that could accurately be described as a satire, much less an unsparing one, but Search Party absolutely qualifies. It’s a mystery about people trying to get to the bottom of a young woman’s disappearance, but that’s just what’s happening on the surface. The mystery is the gimmick that draws you in so that this exceptional and surprising show — credited to a rogue’s gallery of executive producers, including Michael Showalter, Sarah-Violet Bliss, and Charles Rogers, Lilly Burns and Tony Hernandez — can work its dark magic. Chantal’s vanishing is a device that the show uses to explore Dory’s (Alia Shawkat) world and make uncomfortable observations about modern life, in particular the tendency to confuse the ego-stroking virtual busywork of the text- and social media-driven era for actual, meaningful action. There’s an even deeper level to this series, something on the order of an existential quest, a long journey into the heroine’s emotional interior. The condition of believing oneself sensitive while feeling very little has rarely been examined with such exactness.
SUNDAY, JUNE 4
2:30 PM - “THE GET DOWN” (Netflix) - SHOWCASE
In person: Series co-executive producer Stephen Adly Guirgis, supervising producer Nelson George
“Unfold your own myth,” blares a graffiti tag on the skin of a subway car in The Get Down. Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Adly Guirgis’s 1970s musical melodrama about the birth of hip-hop and the fall of dirty-glorious Gotham is forever characterizing itself this way: like a rapper nimbly reframing a story as he tells it. It’s a multimedia work—television, cinema, a novel, a scrapbook; collage, decoupage, a montage barrage. The sheer, shameless entertainment value of The Get Down camouflages how formally inventive it is. The gleeful way that the image texture changes from shot to shot (1970s TV news video, 16mm, what looks like enhanced YouTube footage) suggests the filmmakers are glorying in a crazy-quilt aesthetic instead of knocking themselves out trying to make every piece seem like part of a seamless whole. The show is sampling pop culture history, New York City history and music history to create its own sound.
4:30 PM – “DIFFICULT PEOPLE” (Hulu) -SHOWCASE
In person: Series creator, executive producer, writer and star Julie Klausner
Julie Klausner’s series about brilliant, acerbic, self-defeating best buds on the fringes of stardom is tailor-made for the YouTube era, when artists and entertainers act s their own agents, publicists and managers and watch their colleagues’ successes and failures unfold in real time, with envy or glee, depending.
Julie (Klausner) and Billy (Billy Eichner) keep hatching schemes like a couple of Lucy Ricardos, even though their quest is motivated less by a burning urge to express themselves than a lust for fame and comfort. They pop others’ delusions and preserve their own, but even at their pettiest, there are moments when they speak the truth, and some of their most penetrating insights have to do with the show you’re watching and the medium that spawned it. One of Difficult People’s fiercest convictions is that a sitcom’s first obligation is to be funny and engaging, a surprisingly contrarian point of view now that every form of scripted entertainment is striving to subvert rather than embrace proven formulas. “When did comedies become 30-minute dramas?” Billy asks, with an aghast tone that suggests Difficult People is not interested in becoming one. The upcoming third season of Difficult People premieres Tuesday, August 8 on Hulu.
6:15 PM – “BETTER CALL SAUL” (AMC) - CLOSE-UP with Michael McKean
In person: Michael McKean and series co-creator and co-executive producer Peter Gould
Better Call Saul, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s improbably just-as-good prequel to Breaking Bad, is a showcase for ace character actors, none as sneakily great as Michael McKean, who costars as the slippery hero’s straight-arrow older brother, Chuck McGill. Chuck is a feared trial lawyer at a top Albuquerque, New Mexico law firm who claims to be hypersensitive to electricity, and is equally allergic to laziness and ethical short cuts. In lesser hands, he could have been an amusing if one-note foil. But McKean, a wizardly comic actor with the soul of a Method chameleon, imbues him with so many layers of personality, all operating simultaneously, that you can’t help feeling for him and understanding Chuck even when the character grates on you. This close-up panel will explore McKean’s collaboration with the character’s creator, writer-producer Peter Gould, and delve into McKean’s long and varied history as a dramatic and comedic actor and improvisational comic.
TUESDAY, JUNE 6
6:30 PM – “ORPHAN BLACK” (BBC AMERICA) - SHOWCASE
In person: Actors Tatiana Maslany, Jordan Gavaris, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Kristian Bruun, Kevin Hanchard, Evelyne Brochu and Ari Millen, and Executive Producers Graeme Manson and John Fawcett
BBC AMERICA’s clone conspiracy thriller stars Emmy® award winner Tatiana Maslany as multiple genetically identical women. But this is not merely a series about clones; it’s a continuous study in nature versus nurture that routinely puts Maslany in conversations with iterations of herself, and each iteration feels like a distinct human being rather than a sketch-comedy caricature. Graeme Manson and John Fawcett create a maze-like world where the reflections can not only talk, but have their own opinions. The result is sorcery, and Maslany is at the center, playing as many as four personalities at once while a constellation of gifted supporting players, including, Jordan Gavaris, Kristian Bruun, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Kevin Hanchard, Evelyn Brochu, and others swirl around her. The show’s bottomless inventiveness and persistent sense of fun are infectious. In addition to the suspense generated by the story itself, there’s a secondary thrill from watching the cast and crew struggle to top themselves in sheer outrageousness.
8:45 PM - “BILLIONS” (Showtime) CLOSE-UP withAsia Kate Dillon
In person: Actor Asia Kate Dillon and creators David Levien and Brian Koppelman
In its second season, Showtime’s hit drama series Billions made history by introducing TV’s first gender non-binary major character, Taylor Mason, an intern at Axe Capital (played by Asia Kate Dillon) who unexpectedly becomes a favorite of macho hedge funder Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis). Dillon, who uses the singular they pronoun, auditioned for the role shortly after playing the racist skinhead Brandy on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. Sharing the stage with series creators and executive producers Brian Koppelman and David Levien, they will discussthe second season of Billions and the fine points of playing a trailblazing character in a medium where starkly defined gender roles still rule the perceptions of casting directors and viewers alike.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 7
7:00 PM – “BROCKMIRE”(IFC)CLOSE-UP with Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet
In person: Series executive producer and star Hank Azaria and star Amanda Peet
Although he’s perhaps best known as one of the versatile repertory actors on The Simpsons, Hank Azaria is also a formidable live-action performer who can adjust his body to suit the needs of a role as deftly as he can his voice. Jim Brockmire, a minor-league sportscaster struggling with alcoholism and his own monstrous ego, gives the actor a rare opportunity to hold the spotlight for the entire running time of a series, as a character he’s been developing for years. The results are dazzling.
He’s matched by Amanda Peet, who brings a no-nonsense toughness to the role of Jules James, the owner of both the team and a local bar. Peet is equally comfortable as a romantic leading lady, a kitchen-sink drama actress and a pratfaller, and she gets to combine all three of those talents here. This detailed one-on-one discussion will delve into Peet and Azaria’s varied careers, their chemistry on the show, and the ne points of bringing these two eccentric characters to life.
8:45 PM –“THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE” (STARZ)REWIND with “Separation” episode
In person: Co-executive producers Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimet
The most narratively complex single episode of an ongoing series since the hero of Louie went to China, this alternately unnerving, baffling and hilarious half-hour of The Girlfriend Experience works as a psychological X-ray of the show’s heroine, escort Christine (Riley Keough); a play within a play; and a meditation on voyeurism, exhibitionism, sex, and acting. Co-written by series creators Amy Seimetz and Lodge Kerrigan, and directed by Kerrigan, the episode doesn’t just avoid the traditional sorts of closure that TV viewers tend to crave; it throws the totality of the show’s first season into question, making us question the intent and substance of everything we’ve seen. As such, it owes less to current trends in scripted TV, even the most rarified kinds, than to 1960s European art cinema classics like Blow-Up, Last Year at Marienbad and The Exterminating Angel.
THURSDAY, JUNE 8
7:00 PM –“UNDERGROUND” (WGN America, produced by Sony Pictures Television) - REWIND with “Minty” episode
In person: Actor Aisha Hinds and executive producer/director Anthony Hemingway
WGN America’s groundbreaking series “Underground” made television history with the extended episode “Minty” that originally aired April 12. Featuring an hour-long solo, and career-defining performance, Aisha Hinds brings Harriet Tubman back to life, as she delivers a monumental and definitive speech in character as the Underground Railroad's most famous conductor. Set in 1858 against the backdrop of a nation deeply divided by race, class and gender, Tubman makes a passionate plea to abolitionists to shift their thinking as she challenges them to take swift action against those who are determined to oppress others. “Minty,” was written by series co-creators Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, and directed by Emmy and Golden Globe Award® winner Anthony Hemingway.