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Its a MAD MAD MAD World
TFF OPENING FILM: MOTHER OF APOSTLES, UKRAINE – directed by Zaza Buadz, starring Natalia Polovinka

Its a MAD MAD MAD World 


Making Sense Through the Lens

TFF returns after weathering two years of global upheaval and uncertainty. As events and festivals are reemerging and finding their footing and purpose in a transformed world, it has become clear that they are more important than ever. In these times of remote working,
virtual commuting, and digital dating, the hunger for shared experiences, for meaningful connection is palpable.

In periods of crisis and disruption, we look to artists and storytellers to help us process a new reality, and forge new narratives with the power to unite and to inspire.

The world which we are re-entering has fundamentally changed and we’re all trying to cope, and to make sense of it while looking for ways to thrive and find meaning. What better way to examine our collective experience than through the eyes and the lens of the storyteller,
the artist, the filmmaker. Jean-Luc Godard, the Franco-Swiss pioneer of modern cinema, who passed away just this month, once observed that, “Film is truth. 24 frames a second”. It is light captured through the lens of the director that creates this truth. Now, more than ever, it is
vital that we stay curious, with an open mind, and an open heart, that we stay civil, willing to engage in dialogue about ideas, about art, about media, about truth. 24 frames a second.

With a packed week of programming spread over three initial days via our virtual and interactive platform, followed by three days of in person screenings and festivities held at our festival village at Froggy’s and adjacent Rosewood, Topanga Film Festival presents a strong body of work that is as beautiful and inspiring as any program we have shared in our 17 year history. We are grateful and proud to share content reflecting a global perspective and poignant commentary on this point in time.

Our programming team has curated over 70 films spread over six days, including our feature narrative, and documentary competition films, over 40 shorts, our returning young filmmakers showcase, roundtable talks with leading talent, thinkers and creators. The TFF team welcomes you with legendary Topanga hospitality, festivities, and an awards gala closing out the festival on Sunday Oct. 9th.

TFF OPENING FILM: MOTHER OF APOSTLES, UKRAINE – directed by Zaza Buadz, starring Natalia Polovinka



MOTHER OF APOSTLES, directed by Zaza Buadz, (Froggy’s, Oct 07, 4:30PM) An engrossing war drama from Ukraine, based on true events. It tells the story of a mother embarking on a harrowing journey behind enemy lines in search of her missing son who’s cargo plane carrying humanitarian supplies was shot down in the early days of the 2014 Russian invasion of Crimea. The director will be addressing the TFF audience via live feed before the screening at Froggy’s along with official representatives from the Ukrainian Center of Culture.


PROMISES, FRANCE – A US Premiere by Amanda Stehrs, featuring Jean Reno

PROMISES, directed by Amanda Stehrs (US premiere at Froggy’s, Oct 07, 8PM) A cinematic tour-de-force by acclaimed writer and first time director Amanda Stehrs takes us on a sweeping journey following its affable protagonist, a privileged yet emotionally scarred rare books dealer, throughout a lifetime of navigating friendships, family, lovers, and missed connections, all set against breathtaking locations and sumptuous affairs, pondering life’s big riddles. The film’s stars include the legendary Jean Reno. Also competing for the best Feature Narrative Film are PERIDOT, by director Shayne Pax-a taboo-breaking film about a young male prostitute who forms a most unlikely friendship with Martha, a mature, world renowned author; and, THE DAY I FOUND A GIRL IN THE TRASH, a delicately tender love story, reminiscent of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, set in dystopian 2028 Poland.


BIRTH OF THE ENDLESS SUMMER: Discovery Of Cape St. Francis from Director/Producer Richard Yelland (Seeding Change, The Long Way Back) (On two screens, Froggy’s and Rosewood, OCT 08, 8PM)

Birth of The Endless Summer follows California surf pioneer Dick Metz as he travels the globe from 1958-1961, revealing the untold story behind The Endless Summer – one of the most watched and beloved documentaries of all time. It chronicles how a couple of ‘surf bums’—Dick Metz, Bruce Brown, and Hobie Alter—almost single-handedly sparked a revolution that eventually exploded around the world and spawned today’s multi-billion dollar surf industry.


LAS ABAGADAS, directed by Victoria Bruce, follows four immigration attorneys over a four-year odyssey as the Trump administration upends every law to protect those fleeing from violence
and war. SOLSTICE, by director Helen Newman, is an intimate story about the stigmas faced by family members after they lose a loved one to suicide and the need for urgent and radical change in mental health care to support the surviving members of those families.

RUN RAVEN RUN directed by Michael Rainin

RUN RAVEN RUN, directed by Michael Rainin, takes us from the deserts of Rajasthan to the ghettos of Bucharest. The film explores the resounding pain and pleasure that emanates from the unvanquished soul of Gypsy music. SOUND OF SURF, directed by Thomas Duncan, is the first historic documentary to chronicle the definitive story of Surf Music as California’s own pop movement, before it became a Hollywood exploitation of teen culture. LOVELY JACKSON, directed by Matt Waldec tells the true and heart-wrenching story of Rickey Jackson, America’s longest-serving wrongfully convicted person as he returns to the prison where his 39-year journey of survival began. Jackson comforts and guides ‘his younger self’ from death row to freedom.


INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILMS. More than 45 short films, ranging between 2-22 min in length will be be competing for awards in five categories: Dramatic, Docs & Experimental, Comedy, LBGTQ, Environmental and Dance Film Shorts—the winner of each category will be eligible to contend for The Coveted Coyote Award for the Best Short Film. All short films will screen in consecutive showcases, on Saturday at Froggy’s and Rosewood, or on our virtual platform Oct. 4, Tuesday – Oct. 6, Thursday.


A special treat is in store for Topanga locals, old-timers, and newcomers alike. Saturday at Froggy’s 11:00AM and 12:30PM respectively the festival will screen two historic feature docs: MALIBU SONG, directed by Natalie Lettner, chronicles the final days and the subsequent
unraveling of a community and a way of life for the residents of lower Topanga (Rodeo Grounds). HOLLYWOOD’S BACKYARD directed by the late Alexander Von Wetter, looks back at Topanga’s storied cultural history through interviews, music, and theatrics. Featuring the likes
of Billy Preston, Bob ‘the Bear’ Hite, Lowell George, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Fred Tackett, Will and Herta Geer, and many others. Followed by TOPANGA SHORTS SHOWCASE a collection of the best short films by local filmmakers.


Closing out the festival is a spotlight on indigenous storytellers and creators. THE INHABITANTS, a feature directed by Costa Boutsikaris, documents indigenous land management practices across deserts, coastlines, forests, and prairies. INDIGENOUS
featuring D’Pharaoh Woon a Tai (Reservation Dogs) will examine the power of art, story and culture as a means to amplify Indigenous voices and influence locally and globally.


2022 Sundance winning feature THE TERRITORY. directed by Alex Pritz, produced by Academy Award nominee Darren Aronofsky. (Froggy’s and Rosewood, Oct 9, 4:30PM) The film provides an immersive on-the-ground look at the tireless fight of the Indigenous Uru-eu-wau-wau people against the encroaching deforestation brought by farmers and illegal settlers in the Brazilian Amazon.

Following the film stay for the awards ceremony!

For full program & tickets:

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