Students, alumni and artists convene at Future of Cinema Film Festival 2017

On April 6-8, Interlochen Arts Academy’s Motion Picture Arts Department hosted its 11th annual Future of Cinema Film Festival, featuring special guests such as iconic television writer/producer Norman Lear and documentarian Heidi Ewing, master classes with Interlochen alumni, film screenings and more.

The festival began with a master class from Heidi Ewing, director of the biographical documentary Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You. During the presentation, Ewing discussed the human side of working with her documentary subjects. “You’re with them all the time. They’re not your friends, but they’re more than that,” she said. “You feel like you have to protect them. You feel like you have to do right by them, because they do unflattering things all the time. But you don’t take things out of context.”

Later that evening, Ewing returned for a screening of the film and a question-and-answer session—and free popcorn for everyone. The evening’s events concluded with an exclusive Skype conversation with the documentary’s subject, legendary writer and producer Norman Lear, who is best known for his work on classic sitcoms including All in the Family, Good Times and The Jeffersons.

The following day, the first of three Interlochen alumni arrived to share their after-Interlochen experiences with the students. Abbey Sacks (IAC 11, IAA 12-15, IAC St 16), a Los Angeles-based filmmaker and artist whose work has been featured in over 60 film festivals worldwide, joined the students to talk about her recent creative work. Since leaving Interlochen, Sacks has traveled across the United States and Europe with fellow alumna Kira Bursky (IAA 11-14), artfully capturing her experiences along the way and entering several film festivals. “It’s really exciting to think about your work being shown in so many places,” she told the students.

Sacks also worked alongside installation artist Alexa Meade, filming behind-the-scenes footage of Meade at work. Sacks projected several of her recent projects, then answered student questions about college and working in the industry after Interlochen.

“It’s so gratifying to see our graduates doing well,” said Director of Motion Picture Arts Michael Mittelstaedt after Sacks’ presentation.

On Friday afternoon, the students participated in a master class with indie filmmakers David F. Sandberg and Lotta Losten. After a short break for dinner, the group reconvened for a showing of Sandberg’s short film “Lights Out.” Sandberg and Losten shared their experience, esepcially that of being lofted from the small, homemade collaborations to a feature-length version of Lights Out! for New Line Cinema.

The close of the festival featured two more Interlochen alumni. Brothers Will (IAC 06) and Aaron Eisenberg (IAC 05), who have written for Nickelodeon, Netflix and Comedy Central, led a master class on writing for film. The brothers also wrapped up the festival with a showing of their animated holiday film Albert, followed by the festival’s final question-and-answer session.

The Future of Cinema Film Festival at Interlochen Center for the Arts provides a setting for high school filmmakers to meet professionals and peers, discuss trends and new developments in cinema, while creating a greater understanding of a quickly evolving art form. Learn more at