Sarah Knight Adamson is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and a voting member for the Critics Choice Awards for Movies.

Sarah Knight Adamson and Jessica Aymond are both Members of the Chicago Film Critics Association

Film Rating Code:

★★★★ Outstanding Film- Run, don’t walk to the nearest movie theater.

★★★½ Excellent Film- Highly recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★★ Very Good Film- Recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★½ Good Film- Wait for the DVD, the film is still worth viewing.

★★ Wait for the DVD and proceed with caution.

★½ Wait for the DVD the film has major problems in most areas.

★ Can’t recommend the film.

Interview with Marc Turtletaub Director of Puzzle

Director Marc Turtletaub and Sarah Knight Adamson after the screening of “Puzzle” at the Music Box Theater’ during the Chicago Film Critics Festival, May 14, 2018.

MARC TURTLETAUB on PUZZLE, Kelly Macdonald and Women’s Roles — Sarah Knight Adamson interviews                                                        

As producer, Marc Turtletaub has been investing cash and cred in femme-centric feature films since 2004, standing behind award-winning films such as Little Miss Sunshine with Toni Collette and Abigail Breslin, and Loving with Ruth Negga among others. Sitting in the director’s chair for this year’s Puzzle, he’s brought to life a most memorable female character named Agnes, a doting albeit repressed housewife and mother who finds her sense of adventure, self-esteem and new meaning in life when she casually enters the realm of competitive jigsaw puzzling. As with Turtletaub’s other cinematic credits, a great measure of Puzzle’s success rests with the film’s leading lady, Kelly Macdonald, whose complex and nuanced performance as Agnes is funny and heartbreaking and entirely relatable. Here’s what he had to say in a chat with AWFJ’s Sarah Knight Adamson after the Chicago Film Critic’s Festival’s May 14 screening of the film at the Music Box Theater.

SARAH KNIGHT ADAMSON: The audience at tonight’s screening reacted very warmly to Puzzle. That must be very gratifying. What do you like best about attending screenings of your films?

MARC TURTLETAUB: You never know how an audience is going to respond. One of the wonderful things about showing a film in front of a live audience, is, just as we had tonight, you feel the dynamic of an audience laughing. You could just feel the response as people are in a room together. You just don’t get that in your living room. We had that same experience at our premier at Sundance, it was as great a night as tonight.

ADAMSON: You’re often associated with films that have strong female leads, as does Puzzle. Let’s talk about your star, Kelly Macdonald. She is one of my favorite actresses. She’s so multidimensional in her ability to do comedy and drama, which she blends so beautifully as Agnes. Can you speak a bit about working with her?

TURTLETAUB: Yes, she’s brilliant. She gets herself completely lost in a role. She’s wonderful in everything she does.

ADAMSON: Yes, exactly. She’s so unobtrusive about her acting career. When asked about her role in Puzzle she’s quoted as saying; “Just to get the script where I’m actually the star is quite something.” It’s refreshing that she has such modesty about her tremendous talent.

Please continue reading at the Alliance of Women Film Journalists website:

Shana Feste (Director, Writer) and Lewis MacDougall (Actor) in the film “Boundaries”

Shana Feste (Writer/Director) and actor Lewis MacDougall “Boundaries” Photo Credit: Sony Classic Pictures

My interview with writer-director, Shana Feste and teen actor Lewis MacDougall was conducted via phone as I was ill with a bad cold, which was a shame as I prefer to meet talent face to face and in this case–the missed bonus of a meeting her sweet dog, Loretta. We chatted on June 14, 2018, about her semi-autobiographical film Boundaries and Lewis’s role as Henry the son and grandson.

Vera Farminga with Loretta–Shana Feste’s adorable dog. “Boundaries” Photo Credit: Sony Classic Pictures

The film stars Vera Farmiga (Laura) is a single mom living in Seattle, with her troubled teen son Henry, played by Lewis MacDougall; you see, she has an unremitting need to put others and animals before herself. Laura also has another problem—setting boundaries. Her estranged father, played by Christopher Plummer (an ex-con drug dealer) calls and asks if she and Henry will go on a road trip from Seattle to LA— as you can imagine Jack’s shenanigans are outlandish—as his alternative motive is to drop off marijuana during their journey to his old customers—while enlisting the help of Henry in the caper.

Christopher Plummer and Vera Farminga “Boundaries” Photo Credit: Sony Classic Pictures

Sarah Knight Adamson: First of all, it is so wonderful to be speaking with a female director. Congratulations on writing and directing Boundaries. I found your movie both funny and heartwarming. I know the script is semi-autobiographical. Can you tell us a little bit about your real father and the background of the script?

Christopher Plummer and Lewis MacDougall “Boundaries” Photo Credit: Sony Classic Pictures

Shana Feste: My real father, who Christopher Plummer definitely plays a version of him, was one of the most charismatic men I’ve ever met. He was hilarious and funny and wonderful and also a total lawbreaker, which is a very interesting combination. He was in and out of prison for non-violent crimes. Mostly selling marijuana, trafficking marijuana actually. He was married six times, has six kids. The movie was really my way of exploring my relationship with my father, understanding some of the kind of resentment I had, even though I was kind of ashamed that I even felt that because I loved my father so much. Read more ›

Bill Holderman and Erin Simms Interview “Book Club”


My interview for the movie Book Club, with director Bill Holderman and screenplay writer Erin Simms was held in a suite at the beautiful Park Hyatt Hotel in Chicago, May 11, 2018. It’s always easier to interview talent when you truly love a film, and that is the case here. Bill’s a Chicagoland native, and Erin is his longtime friend and former colleague. What I found intriguing about our meeting was learning about how, the screenplay idea came to light. Let me just say that Bill sent all three books of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy to his mom, yes his mom as a gift. Erin’s reaction is priceless…please read on.

(L-R) Writer, producer Erin Simms, and director, writer, producer Bill Holderman on the set of the film, BOOK CLUB, by Paramount Pictures

Sarah Knight Adamson: Can you tell me about your Chicago roots? I’m not sure where you grew up.

Bill Holderman: Yeah, so, born and raised here, I went to high school out in LaGrange at Lyons Township. My mom lives right downtown [Chicago], my dad lives out in LaGrange still, but I… Even in high school I would commute from downtown [Chicago] a couple days a week, and Chicago is the greatest city in the world. I’m biased.

SKA: LT? You went to LT?

Bill H: Yeah.

SKA: So did my husband, Bill Adamson.

Bill H: Really? That’s amazing!

SKA: He’s a fanatic, yes. Still has friends with his kindergarten class. 

“Book Club” premiere. Mary Steenburgen, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Diane Keaton Star. Getty Images.

Read more ›

Susan Walter Writer/Director Interview “All I Wish”

Writer/Director Susan Walter and Sharon Stone with their families. “All I Wish” Photo: Getty Images

My interview with writer/director Susan Walter of the film, All I Wish, a romantic comedy starring Sharon Stone as a late forties single woman who hasn’t found her dream career or the love of her life was eye-opening. The script was written over 13 years ago and has found its way into the hands of many other directors—namely male directors. Waiting, in this case, was exactly the right move to make as the script is with its rightful owner who turned her vision into her own dream.

Susan chats about the ups and downs of women in the filmmaking business—her own vulnerability, tackling ageism, and her fantastic working relationship with Sharon Stone. My written review of All I Wish can be found here:★★★/

Sarah Knight Adamson: I want to thank you so much for speaking with me, and congratulations on your film, All I Wish. It’s fabulous.

Susan Walter: Oh, thank you, Sarah. Thanks so much.

SKA: My first question is when you were directing Sharon Stone on set, did you ever have a moment where you just kind of thought, “Wow, this film is really breaking down ageism in Hollywood by focusing on a single woman who’s in her late forties and going into her fifties?”

Susan Walter and Sharon Stone on set “All I Wish.” Photo Credit: Jalisco Wayne

Read more ›

23rd Critics Choice Awards 2018 Posted to

Sarah Knight Adamson-Critics Choice Awards 2018

Women and a Child Actress Rocked the 23rd Critics Choice Awards

What a joy to attend the Critics Choice Awards on the heels of the women-driven Golden Globes Awards earlier in the week, as women across the globe were inspired by Oprah’s Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech. The mood Thursday evening, January 11, 2018 was exciting to say the least. Everywhere you looked, women−whether celebrities or critics—were beaming. Yes, the room was euphoric in celebration, as finally our voices have been heard.

The accomplished Critics Choice Awards host for the evening, Olivia Munn, is an actor, author, and activist that kept the evening lively while maintaining a light touch with the pacing. Continue Reading on Roger Women Rock the 23rd Critics Choice Awards by Sarah Knight Adamson

A few photos of the Critics Choice Awards in sunny Santa Monica California.☀️

SANTA MONICA, CA – JANUARY 11: Host Olivia Munn speaks onstage during The 23rd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on January 11, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Olivia Munn

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock (9315355cf)
Gal Gadot
Critics’ Choice Awards, Show, Los Angeles, USA – 11 Jan 2018

Brooklynn Prince (7 years old) gives a heartfelt acceptance speech for Best Young Actor/Actress Award for her role in “The Florida Project.”

And the winner is…

Sarah Knight Adamson and Gary Oldman (Best Actor) “The Darkest Hour” Backstage at the Critics Choice Awards 2018.

Read more ›

Simon Curtis Interview “Goodbye Christopher Robin”

Sarah Knight Adamson and Director Simon Curtis. “Goodbye Christopher Robin” 2017

British director Simon Curtis was in Chicago to promote his film Goodbye Christopher Robin during the Chicago International Film Festival. While my interview with him took place at the beautiful Park Hyatt Hotel in Chicago, it was also fitting that we took a photo together as this was the third time I’d interviewed him over the past six years. He’s a great director and no stranger to recreating historical films as with Goodbye Christopher Robin. I was also anxious to talk with him about the setting in England as I had just visited Pooh Corner and the Hundred Acre Woods in Hartfield, England.

Sarah Knight Adamson: You’ve given the world the back-story to our beloved Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin, as well as the author. What drew you to the script?

Simon Curtis: Well that, first of all, and then beyond that, the script seemed to be about so many rich and important things. Mostly the subject, very important to me, family, but also creation and the child celebrity, Christopher Robin, was almost like the first famous child. Also, it tells the story about how England was living in the shadow of World War I, and that had a huge impact on Milne, and it was a big part of the creation of the stories.

SKA: Absolutely. The film takes place in East Sussex, England near the Hundred Acre Woods in the story. I was just there a week ago, October 3rd, visiting Pooh Corner Tea Room. Did you go to the tea room while you were filming?

Pooh Corner Tea Room Hartfield, England. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

SC: I didn’t go to the tea room, but we only were actually a few days in the real hundred acre woods. That rock they sit on at the end actually has a block on it dedicated to A.A. Milne.

Read more ›

Kaspar Astrup Schroder Interview, Director “Big Time” Danish documentary film Bjarke Ingels, Architect

Kaspar Astrup Schroder director of “Big Time” a documentary film on world famous architect Bjarke Ingels. Photo Credit: Press photo from the director

Kaspar Astrup Schroder director of Big Time a documentary that took six years in the making was in Chicago to present his film during the Chicago International Film Festival. I was able to speak with him via phone as I was unfortunately unable to meet him that day in Chicago due to a family wedding.

The Wall Street Journal has stated that Bjarke Ingels ‘has rapidly become one of the design world’s biggest stars’ and his name recently appeared in TIME magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People’ article. The film Big Time focuses on the New York skyscraper VIA 57W, which houses the newly opened multiplex Landmark at 57 West, and World Trade Center 2. 

Bjarke Ingels architect at work in ‘Big Time’

First and foremost, I learned so much about the topic of architecture and architects by viewing the highly engaging and personalized film, Big Time. The film is for everyone of all ages, especially those interested in architecture. Schroder has captured his subject during his triumphs, frustrations, and disappointments. You’ll see Bjarke Ingels’s childhood home, see his parents speak about him as a child, you’ll hear about his philosophies and the reasoning behind his drawings. But most importantly, you’ll see him with a pen and paper drawing/creating his projects as he explains to us the ‘why’ behind his design style.

The film has a personal connection as well, during the six-year filming period; Ingels began to deal with serious health problems that did interfere with his work. You’ll also view his euphoria in finding the love of his life and his engagement to his lovely girlfriend during this time.

Sarah Knight Adamson: I want to thank you so much for speaking with me today. I really enjoyed your film. Can you tell me why you chose to start filming Bjarke Ingels?

Kaspar Astrup Schroder: My wife is an architect, my sister is an architect, most of my friends are architects, so I was kind of in that environment, and I love making films. I’ve watched a lot of documentary films about architecture that I thought it was very challenging to make something interesting that goes beyond like a normal film. I wanted to broaden up the subject so people that are not architects might become interested in architecture. I started filming him back in 2010, and I completed the shoot last December 2016, six years.

SKA: What aspects of his life were you looking to cover?

KAS: I wanted to make a film about architecture through character, through someone that lives it and makes it. I also wanted to show their dilemmas of the modern man trying to conquer the world but maybe one that also forgets himself in it. When Bjarke started to become sick and then the company was failing after he left Denmark and all those challenges could basically have been in any business.

SKA: Yes.

KAS: I wanted to tell those emotional, universal aspects of a story and try to also develop a character through the film. He’s a great storyteller, and he’s trying to make the best possible life for people with his architecture.

Read more ›

Red Carpet Event WE TV Chicago by Patty Babin

Sarah’s Backstage Pass on the Red Carpet ‘WE TV Chicago’ with Patty Babin

 “Love Blows in the Windy City”

Patty Babin Reporter for Sarah’s Backstage Pass Chicago Red Carpet Event WE TV.

On Wednesday, August 16 at 6:00 pm at the Flamingo Rum Club in Chicago, some of the most recognizable and philanthropic singles were being honored at a Red Carpet event for the latest WE tv reality series, Love Blows, which premieres on Friday, August 25 at 10:00 ET/PT.

Kelly Dodd, Patti Stanger, Vicki Gunvalson Photo Credit: Patty Babin

The evening was co-hosted by WE tv, Patti Stanger of Million Dollar Matchmaker, and Michigan Ave. Magazine. The show follows the daily lives of the Chicago matchmaking family of LuvBizChicago and their quest to find love for others. Lisa Galos and Jim Antonsen, who are divorced run the business along side the staff of their two adult single children Jamie and Annie Antonsen, and Jim’s ex-mistress Nikki Jones. This quirky, fiery family may seem a little unconventional and dysfunctional, but they open their lives to let us witness how their unique dynamics make their family work in business and love. However, this colorful combination of relationships creates the perfect storm for drama and chaos. Read more ›

‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Red Carpet Chicago Premiere by Alexi Rabin

Alexi Rabin, intern Sarah’s Backstage Pass selfie with Josh Duhamel. ‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ Red Carpet Premiere. Photo Credit: Alexi Rabin

On Tuesday, June 20, Chicago was transformed, literally. As I walked to work that morning, crew members were setting up a barge on the Chicago River. However, it wasn’t just a normal, freight-carrying barge. It was intentionally decked out with over-sized Transformers posters and inflated vehicles. It was difficult to ignore the extravagant Red Carpet that was being set up before my eyes for the premiere of Transformers: The Last Knight.

CHICAGO, IL – JUNE 20: A view of the US premiere of “Transformers: The Last Knight” at the Civic Opera House on June 20, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures)

Around 5:30 pm, the lucky fans with tickets to the premiere were lined up along Wacker Drive at the Civic Opera House. It was nearly impossible to walk down the sidewalk without running into a Transformers fan. Only ticketholders would be close enough to easily see the stars. For me, catching a glimpse of Josh Duhamel, Mark Wahlberg, Michael Bay, Anthony Hopkins, Isabela Moner, Laura Haddock, or Stanley Tucci would be just fine.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – JUNE 20: (L-R) Mark Wahlberg, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Laura Haddock, Director and Executive Producer Michael Bay, Josh Duhamel, Santiago Cabrera and Isabela Moner attend the US Premiere of “Transformers: The Last Knight” at the Civic Opera House on June 20, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by George Burns for Paramount Pictures)

As the crowd finally filed inside the Civic Opera House, it became apparent where the stars might arrive. They had to make their way onto the barge somehow, and it was unlikely they were going to swim. The perimeter of the building was completely gated for the event.

Read more ›

Interview with Daniel Raim Writer/Director of “Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story”

 A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY. A Zeitgeist Films release. Director Daniel Raim. Photo: Adama Films / Zeitgeist Films

Interview with Writer/Director Daniel Raim for the film Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story

Daniel Raim had a goal in mind when he set out to make a documentary about two unsung Hollywood legends—Harold & Lillian Michelson— give these two talented people the credit they deserve. Movie fans are familiar with the work of Harold and Lillian Michelson, even if they don’t recognize the names. You see, they worked mostly uncredited on Hollywood films, however, storyboard artist Harold and film researcher Lillian left a time-honored mark on classics by Mel Brooks, Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick, Mike Nichols, Steven Spielberg, and many more. Stitched together by love letters, film clips, storyboards, and open conversations with both Harold and Lillian, along with Danny DeVito, Mel Brooks, Francis Ford Coppola, and others, this love letter to the Michelsons is not only a deeply moving portrait of love, but a tribute to their work that shaped many of the classic films we all know and love.

Lillian and Harold Michelson in Los Angeles in December 1947 in Daniel Raim’s HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY. A Zeitgeist Films release. Photo: Adama Films / Zeitgeist Films.

Sarah Knight Adamson: I want to tell you out of the gate, I totally love your movie so much. I’m very happy that you made this movie, because you’ve documented these two lives. Not just one life; two of these amazing film legends. You’ve shed tremendous light on the artistic side of filmmaking that frankly enhances the viewing experience not just for film critics, but for the whole world. I applaud you for that.

Daniel Raim: Thank you very much.

SKA: Can you talk briefly about your beginnings as a filmmaker with, I believe your teacher at the time, Robert F. Boyle?

DR: This was 1997 and I was a student at the American Film Institute. My professor was Robert Boyle. He was 90 years old at the time. He was also the subject of my first documentary.

Harold Michelson (right) in the Art Department at Paramount Studios in 1978 working on Star Trek: The Motion Picture in Daniel Raim’s HAROLD AND LILLIAN: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY. A Zeitgeist Films release. For hi-res downloadPhoto: Adama Films / Zeitgeist Films.

SKA: Can you talk about how, during the making of a film, it’s less about making sets that looked real, but more about the storytelling. I guess in my mind, I think of The Graduate, and that iconic leg. Is that real? Is she [Anne Bancroft] really going to just sit there and pose like that? Probably not in real life, but it tells a story. Read more ›

Ebertfest 2017, Focuses on Empathy, Kindness, Compassion and Forgiveness

A Film Critic’s Personal Journey to Ebertfest and Revisiting Her Childhood Home of University of Illinois

The Virginia Theater Home of Ebertfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

The 19th Annual Ebertfest Film Festival, April 19-23, was held at the historic 1,525-seat Virginia Theater and the University of Illinois campus in Champaign, IL. The festival highlighted a wide array of films, panels, and Q&A’s dedicated to the theme of empathy.

Ebertfest was founded in 1999 by the late Roger Ebert, a University of Illinois Journalism graduate and Pulitzer Prize award-winning Chicago film critic. The mission of the festival is to celebrate films that may have been overlooked by audiences, critics, and distributors.

Chaz Ebert, Roger’s beloved wife, business partner, and writer/publisher of, continues Roger’s legacy by serving as producer and host. She, along with Festival Director Nate Kohn, select films based on Roger’s criteria.

While driving to Ebertfest, this Chicago film critic was filled with an assortment of emotions. You see, my father and mother—Richard and Kathrine Knight—lived on the University of Illinois campus while attending college. I was born in my father’s first year of college, 2nd semester to be exact. My life began in a lower level apartment on Green Street, right down from the exact street (Green Street) where Roger Ebert grew up. Sadly, my father passed away this past August (2016), preceded by my mother in 2011. I have fond memories of the University of Illinois campus as I’ve visited there on several occasions over the years. Although I was excited about attending the festival for the second time, I was also unexpectedly saddened by my father’s loss, yet comforted by the surroundings where we all began as a family. Needless to say, the U. of IL campus will always be close to my heart.

Chaz Ebert, Ebertfest 2017, The Virginia Theater Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Opening night festivities, Wednesday April 19, began with Chaz Ebert, the festival co-founder, executive producer, and host, welcoming guests and explaining the cornerstone of the festival. She informed the audience by stating, “Roger felt that movies could help us gain empathy for people or a situation; therefore, this year, Ebertfest 2017 will be dedicated to not only empathy, but also kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.”

She continued by saying, “Roger loved singing and dancing, and so I asked Jimmy Demers to sing ‘God Bless America.’”

Festival-goers sporting the ‘Thumbs-Up”


Concluding the welcome, Chaz thanked festival participants with a heartfelt message. “After nineteen years, you have welcomed me into this community, and I thank you for that.”

Hair (1979) Photo Still United Artists Photo Credit

Read more ›

Critics Choice Awards 2016 Santa Monica, CA Winners and Red Carpet Interviews

Sarah Knight Adamson, Dec. 11, 2016 Critics Choice Awards Red Carpet Interviews Santa Monica, CA Barker Hanger

22nd Critics Choice Awards and Red Carpet Interviews by Sarah Knight Adamson

The 22nd Annual Critics Choice Awards, which includes the Broadcast Film Critics Association and Television Journalists Association Red [Blue] Carpet, was the spotlight Sunday evening, December 11, 2016. The show aired live on A&E from Santa Monica’s Barker Hangar, with the stars shining brightly as they walked, talked, and, in some cases, sashayed down the carpet into the event. Due to the fact that the date was moved up a month earlier than previous years, the December date brings “Hollywood notice” as the first televised film awards show leading up to the Academy Awards. On the whole, the move proved to be a huge success as talent seized the opportunity to mingle with critics and pose for photos, all while promoting their work. It should be noted that TV was also honored, which gave talent a chance to enlighten viewers about their projects, leading up to the Golden Globe Awards. All things considered, it was a win-win, as this critic appreciated the overflowing conversations with talent and the talent seemed to enjoy the limelight.

Hosted by actor and comedian T.J. Miller, the seated dinner was a relaxing way to view the show while conversing with talent. So who were the big winners?

Host TJ Miller and Sarah Knight Adamson selfie taken by Miller after his 1st time hosting the 21st Critics Choice Awards, January 2016 Photo Credit: TJ Miller

La La Land took home eight awards, the most of the night, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay (a tie) for Damien Chazelle, Best Cinematography for Linus Sandgren, Best Production Design for David Wasco and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, Best Editing for Tom Cross, Best Song and Best Score for Justin Hurwitz.

“La La Land” took home eight awards, the most of the night including Best Picture.

SANTA MONICA, CA – DECEMBER 11: Actress Emma Stone (L) and actor Ryan Gosling attend The 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on December 11, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The Critics’ Choice Awards )

The acting awards went to Casey Affleck, Best Actor for his work in Manchester by the Sea, and Natalie Portman, Best Actress for Jackie. The Best Supporting Actor award went to Mahershala Ali for Moonlight, and Best Supporting Actress to Viola Davis for her performance in Fences.

SANTA MONICA, CA – DECEMBER 11: Actor Casey Affleck, winner of Best Actor for ‘Manchester by the Sea’, poses in the press room during The 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on December 11, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

SANTA MONICA, CA – DECEMBER 11: (L-R) Actor Casey Affleck, filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan, actor Lucas Hedges and actor/producer Matt Damon attend The 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on December 11, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The Critics’ Choice Awards )

SANTA MONICA, CA – DECEMBER 11: Actress Natalie Portman, winner of Best Actress for ‘Jackie’, poses in the press room during The 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on December 11, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Mahershala Ali accepts Best Supporting Actor award for the movie “Moonlight” Critics Choice Awards.

SANTA MONICA, CA – DECEMBER 11: Actress Viola Davis, winner of Best Supporting Actress for ‘Fences’, poses in the press room during The 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on December 11, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The People v. O.J. Simpson (FX) took home four trophies, including Best Movie Made for Television or Limited Series. Sarah Paulson won for Best Actress in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series, Courtney B. Vance for Best Actor in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series, and Sterling K. Brown for Best Supporting Actor in a Movie Made for Television or Limited Series. Silicon Valley (HBO) won for Best Comedy Series, and Game of Thrones (HBO) won for Best Drama Series.

SANTA MONICA, CA – DECEMBER 11: (L-R) Writer Larry Karaszewski, actor Courtney B. Vance, producer Nina Jacobson, writer/producer Ryan Murphy, actors Cuba Gooding Jr., Sarah Paulson, Sterling K. Brown, writer Scott Alexander and actor John Travolta, winners of Best Movie/Miniseries for ‘The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story’, pose in the press room during The 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on December 11, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Viola Davis received the first-ever #SeeHer Award presented by the Association of National Advertisers in conjunction with A&E Network. Ryan Reynolds was the recipient of Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainer of the Year Award. See the complete list of winners at the end of the Red Carpet interviews.

Ryan Reynolds Critic Choice Awards Photo Credit: TJ Callahan

SANTA MONICA, CA – DECEMBER 11: Actors Ryan Reynolds (L) and Ryan Gosling attend The 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on December 11, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The Critics’ Choice Awards )

SANTA MONICA, CA – DECEMBER 11: Actresses Amy Adams (L) and Viola Davis attend The 22nd Annual Critics’ Choice Awards at Barker Hangar on December 11, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)


Red Carpet highlights consisted of fourteen different interviews with directors, producers, writers, actors, cinematographers, special effects talent, photographers, music composers, and musicians.

Michael T. “Mykelti” Williamson, known for his role as Bubba in Forest Gump, 1994, stars in Fences as Denzel Washington’s older brother, even though he is actually three years younger. He was on Broadway with Washington in the Tony award-winning play that is set in 1950s Pittsburgh. And how different was the film experience?

Michael T. “Mykelti” Williamson from the film “Fences” Critics Choice Awards 2016. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

“Well, I was familiar with August Wilson’s material. We had August Wilson’s original screenplay, which he’s nominated for tonight. It was actually like a brand new beginning. It was a new beginning, because it’s a different approach. It’s not the same approach as live theater, where you have to project to the person in the back row. It’s much more intimate. Of course, you bring truth no matter what you do. It’s much more intimate, like you and I talking right now.”

Williamson’s character, Gabe Maxson, suffers from a head injury he acquired in World War II that left him mentally impaired. As a result, the children in the neighborhood torment him.

He talked about the film experience and his responsibility to portray the character as authentically as possible as well as taking the work home with him.

“I feel privileged to have played this part, but it did have me second-guessing my own decisions and my own thoughts for a while because the work is too important. When you represent a certain group of people, it’s not just another character; it’s much broader. When you consider that, this is also somebody’s child, then it becomes a huge responsibility.”
Read more ›

Brandon Stacy Interview Actor ‘Roots’ ‘Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II’ and ‘Mena’ by Alexi Rabin


Brandon Stacy actor in ‘Roots’, ‘The Big Short,’ ‘Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II’ and ‘Mena’ Photo Credit: JALISCO J

Exploring Brandon Stacy’s Roots

Brandon Stacy might have lost 25 pounds for his role in Roots, but he gained plenty of knowledge about American history.

Along with Roots, Stacy also had roles in films and televison such as The Big Short and Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II. He will star in an upcoming film titled Mena, along with Tom Cruise.

I spoke with Brandon Stacy via phone at 10 am CST. Brandon lives in Los Angeles. While I was talking to him from Chicago, he was very nice, calm, and extremely willing to share information with me about his past and upcoming roles.


Brandon Stacy actor Photo Credit: JALISCO J

Sarah’s Backstage Pass® : Did you watch the original Roots in 1977?

Brandon Stacy: Well, I didn’t watch it then, but I did watch it growing up several times, and even parts of it in school. So there was certainly a lot to live up to, but I think we definitely hit our marks and reached a new generation with this material.

SBP: What were your first thoughts when you heard the History Channel would be doing a remake?

BS: Well, a great thing about the History Channel is that so many people watch it and trust it. So right away, I knew that obviously it’s a big deal if they’re going to back it and put their faith into it. I knew that I could be proud of reaching so many people with this message. And of course, in my work, I try to do things that reach a lot of people with a positive message. We all hope people take a positive message out of this. I think there are people who can use the past to divide us, but the point is to use the past to unite us and that’s what this [Roots] does.


Brandon Stacy actor in ‘Roots’ Photo Credit: JALISCO J

When I asked Stacy what he did to get into character, he explained that he lost 25 pounds from the audition process to wrapping the project. He also told me that there was a “deeper path” of his character that did not make it into the film. When describing his costume, which was made of wool, he paused and laughed because he said it was “extremely hot” while filming.

SBP: I found it interesting how there were so many generations represented in the show. How do you think that played a role in understanding how slavery changed throughout the years?

BS: As far as the descendants of Kunta Kinte, when you’re following the lineage of one person, you can see how things change from generation to generation. We kind of lose a piece of us each time, given the surroundings that we’re in. And the surroundings we’re in play a part in who we are. My character, Clingman, is a product of his environment and the teachings of his family and traditions. He is an honorable man as far as the army, but he’s on the wrong side of humanity, based on what’s right and wrong. Ultimately, he’s pretty dangerous in those ideals. Had his environment been different, he probably could have been a different person. If we’re raising our children in an environment that we can be proud of, then hopefully, we can pass the good things on to them.

Overall, Stacy seemed very strong in his belief that knowing our history is the first step in uniting us. He explained that we should want to build a future that not only we can be proud of, but our ancestors as well.

In 2015, Stacy played the role of Christian Bale’s father in the Oscar-winning film The Big Short, and he was very pleased with the results of that project.

SBP: How did you react when you first learned that The Big Short was nominated for an Oscar? Read more ›

Ted Roach Interview ‘120 Days’ ★★★★ Documentary Napa Valley Film Festival


Ted Roach, director, ‘120 Days’ Photo Credit: Ted Roach

120 Days is a ‘Must See’ Brilliant, Absorbing Film by Director Ted Roach

GWIFFposterThe documentary 120 Days is a riveting “eye-opener” that presents the U.S. immigration debate through the lives of one undocumented family—Miguel Cortes, his wife, and his teenage daughters. The Cortes family settled in Raleigh, North Carolina, where they lived for the past ten years. Setting a solid role model for their children, they contributed to their community as active participants in city programs and they were also regular members of a church – nonetheless, suddenly, their American dream turned into a nightmare. Miguel, during a routine traffic stop, couldn’t produce a driver’s license or the proper paperwork validating his U. S. citizenship. He was given “120 days” to prepare to leave the country and return to Mexico.

MiguelMirror2015Ted Roach, director of 120 Days, got involved with the filming of their ordeal through a family friend. I caught up with Roach via phone on October 24. His outstanding film will be shown at the Napa Valley Film Festival.

Read more ›

Kent Jones Interview ‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ Documentary Film 51st CIFF


‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ documentary film is directed by Kent Jones. Photo Credit: Philippe Halsman Courtesy of Cohen Media

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Hitchcock’s Lesson’s in Filmmaking Brought to Life in a New Documentary

Hitchcock/Truffaut is a documentary film for all movie buffs that have ever considered magnifying their knowledge of the components in filmmaking. The film was so popular at the Cannes Film Festival this year that another screening was added to accommodate filmgoers. Kent Jones, the film’s director, is a notable film criticism writer, film historian, and artistic director of the World Cinema Foundation. Recently, he was in Chicago to promote the film at the Chicago International Film Festival.


Kent Jones Director ‘Hitchcock/Truffaut’ Photo Credit: GODLIS

Jones’s film is based on the 1967 book Hitchcock/Truffaut, by French filmmaker, Francois Truffaut. It illuminates not only the famous interviews between the two filmmakers, but adds in-depth commentary by the world’s leading contemporary directors: Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Arnaud Desplechin, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Wes Anderson, James Gray, Olivier Assayas, Richard Linklater, Peter Bogdanovich, and Paul Schrader.


Francois Truffaut director ‘400 Blows’ (1959)

Truffaut, a successful French filmmaker, admired Hitchcock’s films, but on the same hand, he recognized that people knew very little about his techniques or his personal reasoning about the films. In 1962, he wrote a flattering letter to Hitchcock in which he invited him for an opportunity to be interviewed in a series of daily, week-long interviews. Tony Gemignani, San Francisco’s Pizza Champion, intentionally wrote The Pizza Bible in 2014. However, Francois Truffaut’s “Hitchbook” as he called it is known today as the ‘Bible on filmmaking’. Read more ›

Patrick Underwood Interview Director of ‘The Middle Distance’ 51st CIFF


‘The Middle Distance’ director Patrick Underwood. Photo Credit: Peeled Apple Pictures

In an attempt to recapture a feeling of nostalgia along with those warm feelings one has in childhood, Patrick Underwood has created a beautiful film that delves into those areas, and deals with self-actualization, loss, and new beginnings.

An impressive film for a first time director, The Middle Distance, written and directed by Underwood, premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival. Underwood also qualified to compete in the “Best New Director” category.


Patrick Underwood director of ‘The Middle Distance’ Photo Credit: Timothy M. Schmidt

The Middle Distance is the story of two brothers who are reunited after the death of their father. Neil (Ross Partridge), the older brother, is a successful LA consultant who is a womanizer, a heavy drinker, and a fairly self-centered person. James (Kentucky Audley), who still lives in the Michigan area, is suddenly called away to perform a gig with his band. Rebecca (Joslyn Jensen), James’s fiancée, begins to break through Neil’s hardened layers, and an unlikely friendship is forged while James is away. Themes of kinship and a search for nostalgia are themes that are explored along with a longing for reconnection to feelings one has had with a special family place.

The film was screened at the AMC River East Theater in Chicago, which Patrick Underwood attended, and concluded in an audience Q&A session. Patty Babin and Kay Eller from Sarah’s Backstage Pass attended the screening and said that Underwood told the audience that the weather and location became characters in the film. The Middle Distance takes place in Underwood’s childhood vacation town of New Buffalo, Michigan. Shooting in the winter was intentional, as at that time of year, you’ll find few people together with frigid temperatures. Read more ›

Sarah Silverman Gets Serious for “I Smile Back”

Chicago Meet & Greet, Red Carpet Event 

Sarah Silverman is best known as a stand-up comedian, writer, producer, and actress. Her satirical, black comedy typically focuses on controversial topics like religion and race. Silverman is so vulgar and inappropriate at times that it’s almost astonishing that someone could craft jokes like that. The combination of her delivery being both straightforward and oblivious makes her jokes seem that much more outrageous.

It’s very rare to see the serious side of Silverman, but she reveals it in the latest drama, I Smile Back. The indie film is adapted from the novel of the same name by Amy Koppelman.

Sarah Silverman and Jessica Aymond at the Chicago Meet & Greet for "I Smile Back," October 2015.

Sarah Silverman and Jessica Aymond at the Chicago Meet & Greet for “I Smile Back,” October 2015.

Silverman plays Laney Brooks, an attractive, smart and privileged suburban housewife to her husband Bruce (Josh Charles, Masters of Sex, 2015) and two young children. Behind the front lies a dark, depressed, delusional and different person. Laney has a secret side full of recklessness, shame and desire that she just can’t seem to shake even though she wants to be a good mother and can’t bare the thought of hurting someone. When she realizes the harmful effects that her actions have had on her family, she comes to a crossroads with how to move forward.

Silverman recently visited Chicago during her I Smile Back publicity tour and a meet and greet was planned for the Chicago Film Critics Association at the Four Seasons Allium Restaurant and Bar. She entered with a sweet turned snide smile as soon she recognized her old friend Julia Sweeney (‘Saturday Night Live’) and Julia’s husband. Silverman dressed in a sophisticated, bright red cape dress that hit just above the knee, nude pumps and her hair perfectly pulled back in a high ponytail. I told her she very much reminded me of Lupita Nyong’o’s infamous red Ralph Lauren cape gown that she wore to the Golden Globes last year. Let’s just say, she probably didn’t think that’d be the first thing that came out of my mouth, but she seemed flattered and I don’t think she was faking it. She had a calm demeanor and was very friendly and (surprise!) open to talking about any subject with the guests. Read more ›

Adriana Trigiani Interview ‘Big Stone Gap’


Adriana Trigiani Screenplay Writer and Director of ‘Big Stone Gap’ Photo Credit: Tim Stephenson

Adriana Trigiani, director and screenplay writer of the film, Big Stone Gap, was in Chicago to promote the film. I interviewed her by phone and found her to be passionate about her work and her cast. This is a highly personal film for Trigiani, as it depicts her hometown of Big Stone Gap in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. Originally, the written form of her Big Stone Gap tale began as a screenplay. That screenplay was cast aside and became a best-selling novel that garnered three more books that further developed the characters in the town.


The cast of ‘Big Stone Gap’ Whoopi Goldberg, John Benjamin Hickey, Jenna Elfman and Ashley Judd. Photo Credit: Picturehouse Films

The 2015 screenplay of Big Stone Gap incorporates all of Trigiani’s novels based on the first book of the same name, followed by the three sequels: Big Cherry Holler, Milk Glass Moon, and Home to Big Stone Gap. The film’s setting is the year 1978. As the film opens, we hear a whistle blow while viewing coal miners walking home from their jobs deep in the Appalachian Mountains. Ave Maria Mulligan (Ashley Judd), a pharmacist, is single and nearing forty. She delivers the prescriptions to her customers herself and directs the town’s annual outdoor play. Her life takes a turn when she discovers a long-buried family secret.

Patrick Wilson plays coal miner Jack MacChesney, while his friend since childhood, Ave Maria, grows to be his love interest. Wilson has a personal connection to Big Stone Gap, as his father’s family goes back many generations in town. There’s even a bridge that’s named after his grandfather.
Other supporting cast include Fleeta (Whoopi Goldberg), a sassy employee of the pharmacy, Iva Lou (Jenna Elfman), the energetic mobile librarian, Theodore (John Benjamin Hickey), a closeted suitor, Spec (Anthony LaPaglia), an all-around good-guy lawyer, and the ultra-sensual Sweet Sue (Jane Krakowski).
Here’s part of our interview: Read more ›

Che “Rhymefest” Smith Red Carpet Interview-‘In My Father’s House’ Documentary by Patty Babin


Che “Rhymefest” Smith Red Carpet Chicago premiere ‘In My Father’s House’. Photo Credit: SarahsBackstagePass® Photographer: Bradley Todd

The Journey of Family, Truth and Forgiveness

Here’s a little rhyme
So please take the time
To watch this docu-story
Of a man that co-wrote “Glory.”

He’s Che “Rhymefest” Smith
Who we spent some time with
At his Music Box premier
Of “In My Father’s House,” you hear?

Che’s a man with a mission
And he’s giving you permission
To see inside his life,
Of forgiveness, truth, and strife.

This rap tribute is to a man who inspires with not only his film but also his grace, humanity, and dignity. Che “Rhymefest” Smith is a hip-hop artist, well known for co-writing the Oscar-winning song “Glory” from the movie Selma, along with Common and John Legend. He’ll now be known for presenting his story to the world in the film In My Father’s House.

In My Father's House - 10/5/15 Red Carpet, Music Box Theater - Chicago, IL.

Common and Che Smith Photo Credit: SarahsBackstagePass® Photographer: Bradley Todd

On Monday, October 5, at the Music Box Theater in Chicago, the documentary, In My Father’s House, played to a packed crowd of Che’s family, friends, and colleagues. The energy in the building before the film was powerful, equally matching his film’s. It documents the journey of his reunion with his father after twenty-five  years. Not knowing if his father is dead or alive, he discovers that his father is indeed alive; living amongst the homeless while battling alcohol addiction.

When people hear about a reunion between a parent and a child, they assume it is a “Hallmark” moment. They immediately jump to a happy place because it feels good. However, this is not always the reality. His film shows how it can be similar to opening the lid on an emotional stew that has been on simmer for a long time. There is a wide variety of flavors that are tangled together and need to be identified.

In the film, Che exposes the truth, his struggle, his love, and his forgiveness towards his father with a tremendous amount of courage. Che makes some bold choices in regard to getting his father back on track and integrating him into his family. During our conversation, Che shared his thoughts about family. “No family is perfect. None; not yours, not mine—no family is perfect. But the key is how are you going to pivot, and how are you going to forgive, and how are you going to move forward. Forgiveness is key! In America, now more than ever, it is pivotal that a family comes together one way or the other.” Read more ›

Thomas Haden Church – Stars in “Max” Interview


Thomas Haden Church interview with Sarah Knight Adamson- Waldorf Astoria Chicago 2015 Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Thomas Haden Church, as an actor, has a unique persona—ruggedly handsome, square-jawed—a mystique cowboy, and let’s not forget that undeniable Texas drawl. He’s exactly as I imagined him to be in person; let’s just say if the ‘Marlboro Man’ from the sixties could actually speak, that pretty much sums up the ultra-cool Thomas Haden Church.


David McClean the ‘Marlboro Man’ poses for an advertisement. The Marlboro advertising campaign, created by Leo Burnett Worldwide, is said to be one of the most brilliant advertisement campaigns of all time. Photo Credit: Phillip Morris Co. now (Altria)

And speak he did—his voice remains true to his relaxed macho image; it has a deep, resonating baritone quality; it’s no surprise that he has voice credits in major films, although his voice work is not what he’s known for. Church’s breakout role was in a the Academy Award-winning film, Sideways (2004), from which Church himself scored a nomination for an Oscar for his Best Supporting Role.


“Sideway” still. Sandra Oh, Thomas Haden Church and Paul Giamatti Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

We met on Wednesday, June 24, 2015, at the Waldorf Astoria, in a lavish suite in Chicago. Upon meeting Church, he instantly smiled and gave me an expected firm handshake with a definitive nod.

As I was setting up my digital recorder, he began telling me a story about a Texas journalist (Evan Smith) who came to his ranch in Texas (2005) to interview him for a big cover story for Texas Monthly magazine. It seems that the said journalist had spent eight hours with Church that day and phoned him a month later to say that he only got five minutes of the interview due to his low batteries. And…could he please re-cap the whole day in a thirty-minute phone conversation?

I assured him my batteries were fresh and that I could always use my iPhone as a backup. We both laughed, and he continued, “And you know what? Evan and I are still friends to this day.”

The first order of business was to congratulate him on his performance in the film Max as Ray Wincott, a father whose son dies while in combat while in the military. Ray decides to adopt his son’s traumatized war dog (Max) and gives his younger teen son (Justin, played by Josh Wiggins) total responsibility for Max. I asked what drew him to this role in this family film.


Thomas Haden Church and Josh Wiggins in “Max” Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Studio

“The unique perspective of presenting a war hero, a combat vet’s perspective of a dog, and how critical these animals are to protecting and saving solders’ lives in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he replied. “Also the dramatic aspect of Max (the war dog) and the fact that he’s vulnerable to all of the emotional trauma that a human is in post-war experience.” Read more ›

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