On May 30, 2018, IFC Center kicked off the second annual Split Screens Festival in New York City with a sold-out live fan viewing party of FX’s “The Americans” series finale, followed by a conversation with the festival’s Creative Director, author/critic Matt Zoller Seitz, Rolling Stone’s new TV critic Alan Sepinwall and TV columnist Jen Chaney. Tomorrow, Friday, June 1st, “The Americans” showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields will be joined by Seitz to walk viewers through the rich narrative history and evolution of their critically acclaimed series.
Meant for those who don’t “just watch TV, but live TV,” the festival (May 30-June 3) will feature a series of special events including a Vanguard Award presentation on Sunday, June 3rd, honoring actress Sandra Oh (Killing Eve). Celebrating the art and craft of TV with exclusive screenings and compelling panel conversations, the annual event features the biggest and boldest names in scripted content, both in front of and behind the camera (lineup of upcoming events below).
SPLIT SCREENS FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, MAY 31
7:00 PM – SMART TV: THE MANY FACES OF JEAN SMART – CLOSE-UP
In attendance: Actor Jean Smart
Jean Smart has received numerous accolades during her illustrious career spanning television, film, and theater including two Emmy® Awards for her role as Lana Gardener in Frasier, an Independent Spirit Award nomination for the feature filmGuinevere and a Tony Award® for her Broadway performance in The Man Who Came to Dinner. And who could forget her turn as Charlene Frazier Stillfield in the classic Designing Women?
Most recently, Smart’s career has been redefined thanks to starring roles in two critically-acclaimed FX series’ - Fargoand Legion. In the limited series Fargo, she captivated audiences as Floyd Gerhardt, the fierce matriarch of a Midwestern crime family. In the mind-bending drama Legion, she currently stars as Melanie Bird, a therapist with a sharp mind and unconventional methods. In this wide-ranging career survey, Smart will talk about the difference between drama and sitcom acting and how she manages to disappear into such a dazzling array of characters.
FRIDAY, JUNE 1
1:00 PM – THE AMERICANS: THE FINAL DEBRIEFING (FX) – SPECIAL EVENT
In attendance: Series creator and executive producer Joe Weisberg; executive producer Joel Fields
The Americans' showrunners Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields walk us through the rich narrative history of their Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated FX series (set around DC, but largely shot in New York), from its debut in 2012, which put a fresh spin on the newly minted tradition of antihero-driven drama, through its wrenching 2018 final season, which exposed deep fissures in a marriage of spies and set its fictional characters against real history with the deftness of Mad Men.
6:00 PM – MONEY IN THE BANK: DAVID COSTABILE IN “BILLIONS” (Showtime) – CLOSE-UP
In attendance: Actor David Costabile
David Costabile has proven his ability to play hard-edged, intelligent eccentrics in a variety of settings. From his breakthrough role as Detective Rick Messer on Damages through his hilarious and haunting turn as meth chef Gale Boetticher (the would-be Salieri to Walter White's Mozart) on Breaking Bad, he’s the sort of actor who draws the eye no matter where he is in the frame. He’s an electrifying listener and watcher, creating old-fashioned movie star tension by making you wonder what his characters will say or do next.
He's at the peak of his power inhabiting high finance enforcer Mike “Wags” Wagner on Showtime's drama Billions, a character whose knife-flick menace is wreathed in elegance and dry wit. Join us as we discuss a great character actor’s bottomless repertoire of disappearing acts.
7:30 PM – ACTING MACHINE: WESTWORLD’S JEFFREY WRIGHT (HBO) – CLOSE-UP
In attendance: Actor Jeffrey Wright
Since his first movie star turns as the troubled savant artist of Basquiat, Jeffrey Wright has become one of the most versatile and mesmerizing of actors, playing everything from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the HBO film Boycott to a gangster kingpin and political leader on Boardwalk Empire. His work is distinguished by its intellectual precision and emotional transparency. You see the gears turning in the characters’ heads, and you always hear their heartbeats.
Wright’s tour-de-force work on Westworld as two versions of the same character might be his most challenging assignment yet, somehow striking a perfect balance between felt emotion and analytical cool. There is something slightly chilly and lost about the human incarnation, and something hauntingly human about the synthetic replica, a conundrum that sums up the show’s preoccupation with what it means to be human. Wright will walk audiences through the fine points of this performance and others in an hour-long discussion of acting craft.
SATURDAY, JUNE 2
11:00 AM – DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SET: JOURNEY TO THE OUTER LIMITS – REWIND
In attendance: classic TV expert Stephen Bowie (AV Club, Vulture); Reba Wissner, author of We Will Control All That You Hear: The Outer Limits and the Aural Imagination; Barry Award-nominated crime fiction author Wallace Stroby (The Devil’s Share; Some Die Nameless); fantasy novelist Daniel Kraus (The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch; Trollhunters; Rotters)
The Kinks to The Twilight Zone's Beatles, the science fiction anthology series The Outer Limits ran for just two years on ABC, but is fondly recalled by fans, many of whom (including Steven Spielberg and Stephen King) grew up to become leading figures in pop culture. Now enshrined in a remastered Blu-ray box set from Kino Lorber, the series will be commemorated with a big-screen showing of one of its most beloved episodes, “The Demon with the Glass Hand,” and discussed by a panel of passionate fans drawn from filmmaking, crime fiction, criticism, and academia.
1:00 PM – THE SHOW IS NOT WHAT IT SEEMS: OR, CAN TV REALLY BE CINEMATIC – TV TALK
In attendance: Critics Candice Frederick, Frank Guan, Dennis Lim, Emily Nussbaum
The question above will be debated by Pulitzer prizewinning New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum; Dennis Lim, author of the David Lynch critical biography The Man from Another Place and director of programming at the Film Society of Lincoln Center; Candice Frederick, who writes about film for The Daily Beast, Black Girl Nerds and other outlets; pop music and literature critic Frank Guan of Vulture, and moderator and Split Screens artistic director Matt Zoller Seitz, who named Twin Peaks: The Return his #1 TV program of 2017. And speaking of that franchise, David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks: The Return galvanized film and television critics, inspiring debate about whether it ultimately owed more to serialized TV or cinema, or if it was some strange hybrid form. That debate continues in this critical exploration of TV as cinema.
2:45 PM – THE WOMEN BEHIND THE CAMERA: FOUR TOP TV DIRECTORS ON SHOWING VS. TELLING – TV TALK
In attendance: Directors Tricia Brock, Gillian Robespierre, Julie Anne Robinson, Lauren Wolkstein
"Show, don't tell." You hear that phase bandied about all the time. It's a guiding principle across the arts, especially in visual storytelling forms like cinema and TV. But what does it mean? A gathering of top TV directors explores the answer, showing clips from their own work and revealing how the magic happens. Our panel includes Tricia Brock (Mr. Robot, The Walking Dead, Halt and Catch Fire); Julie Anne Robinson (The Good Place, Masters of Sex, Orange is the New Black); Lauren Wolkstein (Queen Sugar), and Gillian Robespierre (Silicon Valley, Casual, Crashing). They’ll walk us through the choices they made in their own work, talk about some of their most cherished storytelling moments from film and television, and take questions from the audience about their craft.
6:30 PM - STREETS OF GLASS: SNOWFALL'S EPIC CRIME DRAMA (FX) – PREMIERE
In attendance: Co-creator/showrunner/executive producer/writer Dave Andron; consulting producer/writer Walter Mosley, star/”Franklin Saint” Damson Idris
After previewing the first episode of season two of Snowfall on the big screen, take a ride deep into the menacing heart of this sensational FX series, which tells a sprawling, politically charged story about the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic’s destabilizing effect on Southern California. Not content to be a mere crime thriller or muckraking docudrama, this epic portrait from John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood) & Eric Amadio (Shadows & Lies), and Dave Andron (Justified), paints a panoramic view of greater Los Angeles, showing how the national security state, local law enforcement and the daily hustle of street criminals intersect in the nexus of the drug trade. The latest addition to the show’s deep bench of screenwriters is Walter Mosley, author of the acclaimed Easy Rawlins novels and one of America’s greatest crime fiction writers.
SUNDAY, JUNE 3
11:00 AM – DAMN FINE COFFEE: TWIN PEAKS FAN THEORIES – TV TALK
In attendance: Presenters Jeremiah Beaver, Jennifer Condon, Matthew C., Andreas Halskov, Samantha McLaren, Donald McCarthy, Connor Ratliff
David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks created a new template for small-screen storytelling, mixing melodrama, surrealism, extreme violence, cliffhangers, and enough mysterious patterns and marginal details to inspire feverish theorizing. The most recent season, which ran on Showtime with the subtitle The Return, was even more unsettling and beguiling, as indebted to music, dance, mythology and performance art as to any tradition of cinema or TV. What was it saying? What was it doing? What was it?
Split Screens is proud to host an international gathering of Peaks obsessives, unveiling videos and multimedia presentations to prove grand unifying theories of what makes Agent Cooper’s cosmos tick.
Presentations include “The Tragedy and Triumph of Diane Evans,” “Talk about Judy,” “Ding-Dong, Cooper’s Dead,” “Bryan Fuller's Hannibal as David Lynch's Red Dragon,” “Peopled by Her Many Parts: Twin Peaks, Trauma, and Macrocosm-Microcosm,” "Just A Stranger's Dream: A Unified Field Theory Of Twin Peaks,” and “Returning, Recycling and Remixing: Cut-Up and Collage in Twin Peaks: The Return.”
3:00 PM – VANGUARD AWARD: SANDRA OH – SPECIAL EVENT
With a special screening of Killing Eve’s Episode 1, “Nice Face” (BBC AMERICA)
In attendance: Actress Sandra Oh
Split Screens will sit down with Golden Globe® and SAG® Award-winning actress Sandra Oh, who now stars in the critically-acclaimed BBC AMERICA drama Killing Eve, which follows Oh as Eve, a bored, whip-smart, pay-grade MI5 security officer whose life changes when she’s tasked with hunting down a psychopathic assassin.
Oh’s expansive career is full of widely-praised performances, including this year’s “delicious, instantly addictive” Killing Eve, which have consistently impressed across film, theatre and television. She received extensive critical acclaim for her outstanding performance on Grey’s Anatomy, for which she received a Golden Globe®, two SAG® awards and five Primetime Emmy® Award nominations. Other notable television roles include American Crime and HBO’s Arli$$. Oh’s award-winning performances in film include Sideways, Last Night and Double Happiness, and most recently she starred in the films Catfight and Window Horses.
5:00 PM – DEAD GIRLS: A TV OBSESSION – TV TALK
In attendance: Writers Alice Bolin, Megan Abbott, Sarah Weinman
From Laura and Lolita through Vertigo, Twin Peaks, True Detective and beyond, murdered women have driven some of the most influential and disturbing works of popular art. Author Alice Bolin explores the phenomenon in her provocative essay anthology Dead Girls: Essays on Surviving an American Obsession, tracing her fascination with classic hardboiled fiction, film noir, true crime books, and cable series about unsolved murders and autopsies.
Bolin will be joined by two fellow experts in the field: Megan Abbott, writer for HBO’s The Deuce and acclaimed author of crime novels (including You Will Know Me and The Fever); and crime fiction expert Sarah Weinman, author of the upcoming The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World.
7:00 PM – THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT: THE BITTERSWEET MAGIC OF YOUNGER (TV Land) – PREMIERE - In attendance: Actors Debi Mazar, Nico Tortorella and Charles Michael Davis; Executive Producer Dottie Zicklin; Plus Kai Falkenberg, Media and Entertainment 1st Deputy Commissioner, NYC Mayor’s Office
For four glorious seasons, Darren Star’s TV Land series Younger has told the story of 40-something single mother Liza Miller (Sutton Foster), who lies about her age at her job in the highly competitive world of publishing. For a very specific premise, this series has proved itself endlessly inventive, quickly evolving into an ensemble comedy-drama about an extended community of friends and lovers making their mark in New York City. Join us for an exclusive advance screening of the season five premiere -- one that promises to keep the characters, and the audience, on their toes – followed by a Q&A with cast and producers. Co-presented by TV Land
8:30 PM – KIM’S TURN: RHEA SEEHORN IN BETTER CALL SAUL (AMC) – CLOSE-UP
In attendance: Actor Rhea Seehorn
The backbone of AMC’s Emmy-nominated drama Better Call Saul, Rhea Seehorn’s Kim Wexler anchors a whirlwind of incidents and a heavy-hitting cast of veteran actors. And yet Kim is no mere reactive character: she’s an ethical person fighting a constant battle to maintain her standards even as she’s surrounded by lawyers and criminals who barely notice them, and engaged in a business and romantic partnership with an attorney who’s becoming more corrupt by the week. Seehorn’s subtlety helps us believe that she can keep complex secrets from other people while being honest with herself.
The critically-acclaimed actress talks about the art of being Kim, her stints on Franklin & Bash and Whitney, how her training as a visual artist influences her acting, and what it’s like to work on a show that never gives its performers their story arcs in advance.