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Split Screen Festival lineup is a TV-lover’s dream come true

If the line-up for IFC Center’s inaugural Split Screen Festival seems like a television-lover’s dream come true, it’s because the event’s programmer, acclaimed author and critic Matt Zoller Seitz, was driven by his passion for the medium.

“This festival is really for fans, and I’m a fan,” Seitz tells amNewYork. “Every one of the shows that’s represented and every actor who is spotlighted at this festival is someone I think is great.”

While film festivals are a dime a dozen, fests dedicated to the small screen are pretty rare. “Most television festivals are organized around the idea of an academic conference or a promotional event, and this one is not like that,” Seitz explains. “We are almost entirely focused on the craft and art of television. We are mostly interested in what is happening on screen — the writing, the direction, the nature of the sound, and the production design.” Each panel, screening and interview at Split Screen is dedicated to what Seitz calls “the granular” aspects of television, like diving into how production designers create entirely alternative universes, or analyzing each moment of one particularly memorable episode. Think of this festival as your opportunity to take that water cooler chat to the next level with a true insider’s look into how television gets made.

The shows represented include critical darlings, like “Better Call Saul” and “The Girlfriend Experience,” and cult favorites, like “Orphan Black” and “Mr. Robot.”

Seitz also cites another commonality: his fancy. “This is a festival dedicated to TV shows and actors, writers, and showrunners that I won’t shut up about.”

But he’s not shying away from the spotlight, adding, “I’m getting a huge kick out of the fact that as a kid I was constantly being chastised for watching too much television and now here I am programming a festival on nothing but.”

Here are eight must-see events that will make you love your favorite shows more — and maybe open your eyes to a new one.

The Split Screen Festival runs June 2 to June 8 at the IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue, with individual tickets going for $12-$19 (except where noted otherwise). A festival pass is $125. For the full schedule go to splitscreensfestival.com.

'The Deuce'

The festival opens with the premiere of HBO's
Photo Credit: HBO / Paul Schiraldi Photography

The festival opens with the premiere of HBO's much-anticipated period drama set in the seedy Times Square of the 1970s. The series boasts a stellar cast with Maggie Gyllenhaal as a sex worker and James Franco playing twin brothers in the Mafia. David Simon and George Pelecanos of "The Wire" are executive producers. This is your chance to check it out before it hits the airwaves -- and computers -- this fall. (Friday at 7 p.m., $30)

Rami Malek in 'Mr. Robot'

Malek's turn as a modern-day Robin Hood --
Photo Credit: USA

Malek's turn as a modern-day Robin Hood -- a vigilante hacker who uses coding to steal from a major tech conglomerate -- earned him an Emmy Award after just one season. Here the actor will discuss the nuances of his performance, from how he changes his process when doing voiceovers or talking to himself in the mirror, to how he interacts with other characters who do and don't know his secret web identity. (Saturday at 4:30 p.m.)

'Difficult People'

Ahead of the uproarious Hulu sitcom's third season,
Photo Credit: Hulu / Linda Kallerus

Ahead of the uproarious Hulu sitcom's third season, series creator, writer and star Julie Klausner discusses how she keeps the 30-minute show fresh, innovative, and funny (none of those half-hour dramas disguised as dark comedies here). Klausner and real-life buddy Billy Eichner co-star in the series about two petty, fame-obsessed New Yorkers. (Sunday at 4:30 p.m.)

Margo Martindale in 'Sneaky Pete'

In
Photo Credit: Amazon Prime / Eric Liebowitz

In "Bojack Horseman" Martindale plays a cartoon version of herself, known fittingly, as "Esteemed Character Actress Margo Martindale." Though Martindale has worked in theater and film for decades, her talent gained critical recognition in recent years with Emmy Award-winning performances in "Justified" and "The Americans." She's now taking on a new challenge in Amazon's "Sneaky Pete." (Sunday at 12:30 p.m.)

Michael McKean in 'Better Call Saul'

Though McKean's career began in the 1970s when
Photo Credit: AMC / Robert Trachtenberg

Though McKean's career began in the 1970s when he played Lenny on "Laverne & Shirley" and includes memorable film roles in mockumentaries such as "This is Spinal Tap" and "Best in Show," this hour-plus talk will focus solely on the comedic actor's performance as Chuck, the older brother and foil to Bob Odenkirk's titular character. (Sunday at 6:15 p.m.)

'The Man in the High Castle'

In Amazon's ambitious adaptation of Philip K. Dick's
Photo Credit: Amazon Studios / David Berg

In Amazon's ambitious adaptation of Philip K. Dick's award-winning novel, Americans live in an alternate universe in which they were on the losing side of World War II and the United States is occupied by Nazi Germany in the East and Imperial Japan in the West. At this panel, production designer Drew Boughton, costume designer J.R. Hawbaker and executive producer Richard Heus explain how they created and maintained such a believable universe, which Seitz says is as complex as "'Game of Thrones." (Saturday at 2:45 p.m.)

Vanguard Award: David Chase ('The Sopranos')

For the festival's inaugural Vanguard Award,
Photo Credit: Getty Images

For the festival's inaugural Vanguard Award, "The Sopranos" series creator and executive producer, David Chase, is being recognized for his groundbreaking achievement. Chase will lead an in-depth discussion of the magnificent season 3 episode "Pine Barrens," with the help of co-executive producer and co-writer Terence Winter, and episode director and actor Steve Buscemi. (Monday at 8:30 p.m.)

'The Girlfriend Experience': 'Separation'

Series co-creators Amy Seimetz and Lodge Kerrigan discuss
Photo Credit: Starz

Series co-creators Amy Seimetz and Lodge Kerrigan discuss the season 1 finale, "Separation," an episode they co-wrote and Kerrigan directed. The episode took big narrative risks, outside the bounds of normal television. Seitz describes "Separation" as "My number one episode of television last year. I just thought it was a classic." (Wednesday at 8:45 p.m.)

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