In the latest documentary from Academy Award winning director Alex Gibney Crazy, Not Insane asks the question, Why do we kill? Why do some of us kill, and others resist the temptation? What makes a serial killer? Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis, a psychiatrist who’s worked with numerous serial killers, including Ted Bundy, Arthur Shawcross and Joel Rifkin, has been looking to answer these questions for decades. Fascinated by the human brain and its capacity for ruthlessness, she has spent her life investigating the interior lives of violent people. With each case, she came closer to developing a unified field theory of what makes a killer. Along the way – steering away from the conventional wisdom of her colleagues — she explored the world of multiple personality disorder. Producer Ophelia Harutyunyan joins us in conversation on the groundbreaking work on trauma and abuse being done by Dr. Lewis and others, as well as the question of evil and its impact on the dispensation of justice in a secular system of justice.
“While the documentary might not convince those who prefer a black-and-white picture of crime and justice, for anybody with an open mind, it’ll definitely make you think.” – Brian Lowry, CNN.com
“A fascinating look at the human mind. Whether you agree or not will be irrelevant next to all the questions this HBO documentary asks.” – Nathaniel Muir, AIPT
“You may not agree with everything Dorothy Lewis says in “Crazy, Not Insane,” but you come out of the movie alive to the place where evil and insanity meet and then fall back apart.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
The feature film debut of director Darius Marder,Sound of Metal, chronicles the life of Ruben, (Riz Ahmed) an itinerant punk-metal drummer. During a series of adrenaline-fueled one-night gigs, Ruben begins to experience intermittent hearing loss. When a specialist tells him his condition will rapidly worsen, he thinks his music career — and with it his life — is over. His bandmate and girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) checks the recovering heroin addict into a secluded sober house for the deaf in hopes it will prevent a relapse and help him learn to adapt to his new situation. But after being welcomed into a community that accepts him just as he is, Ruben has to choose between his equilibrium and the drive to reclaim the life he once knew. Utilizing startling, innovative sound design techniques, director Darius Marder takes audiences inside Ruben’s experience to vividly recreate his journey into a rarely examined world. Director and screenwriter Darius Marder joins us for a conversation on technical challenge of creating a cinematic language to meet the demands of telling Ruben’s complex story, creating an environment for remarkable performances from Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke and Paul Raci and his collaboration with fellow director Derek Cianfrance (The Place Beyond the Pines).
About the filmmaker – DARIUS MARDER (Director, Writer) is a writer and director making his narrative feature directorial debut. His film Loot was awarded the Best Documentary Feature prize at the 2008 Los Angeles Film Festival, received five Cinema Eye Honors Award nominations and earned Marder an Independent Spirit Award nomination in the Truer Than Fiction category. Marder then co-wrote The Place Beyond the Pines with Derek Cianfrance and Ben Coccio. The original screenplay won the trio a PEN Literary Award in 2014. The following year Marder and Cianfrance co-adapted S.C. Gwynne’s Pulitzer Prize finalist Empire of the Summer Moon for Warner Bros. The film will go into production in 2021 with Cianfrance directing.
“As Ruben’s fear and rage begins to open itself to the unknown, the movie reaches toward something profound – finding real, furious power in the spaces between the sound.” – Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
“An engrossing deeply affecting, meticulously crafted movie. The tone is straightforward and naturalistic. The camera focuses on intimate connections between the characters. This is a thoughtful, grounded, human scale film.” – Karen Gordon, Original Cin
“The film is profound, frightening, uplifting and, yes, actually breathtaking at times, and you’re not likely to take your hearing for granted anytime soon afterward.” – Brian Truitt, USA Today
“It’s a devastating, poignant, and ultimately hopeful film, especially for a side of humanity that rarely sees itself portrayed on screen.” – David Fontana, Film Inquiry
HBO Documentary Films’ MURDER ON MIDDLE BEACH, a four-part documentary series directed by first-time filmmaker Madison Hamburg, presents Hamburg’s complicated journey as a young man determined to solve an unspeakable crime and the desire to absolve the people he loves, while looking for answers within his fractured family and community. On March 3, 2010, single mother Barbara Hamburg was found violently murdered near her home in the upper middle class enclave of Madison, Connecticut. Investigators speculated her murder appeared to be a crime of passion, but without enough evidence, the case grew cold.Over the course of eight years, Barbara’s son, Madison Hamburg, interviewed his family members and many others, longing to learn more about his mother and gathering evidence in hopes of solving her murder, sending him into a deep web of buried familial secrets, connections to shadowy criminal figures,and the uncovering of years-old resentments in his deceptively serene hometown. While Madison wrestles with troubling revelations about his mother, the most unsettling conflict comes from Madison’s obligation to bring into question those inside his community and members of his own family. Director Madison Hamburg joins us to talk about this deeply personal story of loss, discovery, anxiety and reconciliation.
Filmmaker’s Statement – At 18 years old, my worst fears came true when my sister called to tell me that my mother had been murdered, As much as I fought it, her death became a part of my life. Her memory faded and her case went cold, but I couldn’t accept that. Even if it meant sacrificing my own safety and sanity, I made my mother a promise when I started this project, ‘I will never let you be forgotten.’ It is less than what she would have done for me. – Madison Hamburg.
“Murder on Middle Beach is one of the most intense and emotional true-crime docuseries ever made.” – John Doyle, Globe and Mail
“Murder on Middle Beach is like watching a surgeon wield a scalpel on his own body, uncovering new layers of infection every time he cuts. It’s hard to say what’s more horrifying — that he keeps carving or that you keep watching.” – Glenn Garvin, Reason Online
“The emotional foundation of a torn-apart family is what strengthens Murder on Middle Beach but it’s also a fascinating mystery without the personal touch.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
“On the one hand, if anyone has the right to tell this story, it’s Hamburg. And the human toll of his investigation is very close to the surface in Murder On Middle Beach, particularly when his questions get more pointed later on.” – Katie Rife, AV Club
Josh Duhamel (Transformers) stars in this wild and hilarious, no-holds-barred comedy. After six lifelong friends have a five year falling out, Bob (Duhamel), aka “The Bobfather”, reunites his pals for the Buddy Games, an insane competition of absurd physical and mental challenges with the chance to win a $150,000 pot. Now all bets are off, as the determined dudes fight, claw, and party for the big bucks in this star-studded bro-fest featuring Dax Shepard (CHiPs), Olivia Munn (Office Christmas Party) and Kevin Dillon (“Entourage”). Director / Producer / Co-screenwriter Josh Duhamel stops by to talk about collaborating on the script and the actual “Buddy”games with Bob Schwartz and Jude Weng, pulling together a great comedic cast and discovering a love for directing his own projects.
Director’s Statement – At its core, BUDDY GAMES is a comedy, but it is also an homage to the lifelong friendships I’ve built. For many years, my friends and I have had an annual weekend of games and debauchery – everything from classic ping pong competitions to naked paintball (right off the bat, I can tell you that this is like nothing anyone has ever seen from me before). The concept always seemed like a great premise for a movie, and while I’ve always wanted to direct, I knew that the best way to start that journey in my career was to write something myself. So, I sat down with Bob Schwartz (the real life “Bobfather”) and Jude Weng to write a script based on the shenanigans that my buddies and I have done for over 20 years. My hope is that BUDDY GAMES not only shocks people and makes them curl over with laughter, but that it also resonates with people when they think of their own group of buddies, the crazy situations they find themselves in, and how much more important those friendships become as we get older. I couldn’t be more grateful for the insanely talented cast and crew who really helped tell this story. As is the goal for the audience, I think that everyone involved in this project was able to draw upon their own personal relationships, relish in the camaraderie, and have a hell of a lot of fun thinking about beating their best buddies in the ultimate competition that would win them bragging rights for life. – Josh Duhamel
They say you can never escape a mother’s love… but for Chloe, that’s not a comfort — it’s a threat. Hulu’s latest high profile film project RUN opens the door on something unnatural, even sinister about the relationship between Chloe (newcomer Kiera Allen) and her mom, Diane (Sarah Paulson). Diane has raised her daughter in total isolation, controlling every move she’s made since birth, and there are secrets that Chloe’s only beginning to grasp. From the visionary writers, producers and director of the breakout film Searching, comes a suspense thriller that shows that when mom gets a little too close, you need to RUN.Director Aneesh Chaganty and Producer Sev Ohanian join us for a conversation on the challenges of pulling together a high wire psychological thriller and working with a promising young actor, Kiera Allen on a brilliant film anchored by one of the finest actors working today, Sarah Paulson.
“Run gives its dual leads a slim window for making first impressions and finding bases for their roles, which makes their performances and Chaganty’s direction doubly impressive.” – Andy Crump, Paste Magazine
“It’s also a hell of a lot of fun on a basic B-movie level, thanks to Chaganty’s expert control of tone, his superb crafting of suspense sequences, and excellent work from Paulson and Allen.” – Don Kaye, Den of Geek
“Run showcases the whiplash intensity and cold calculation of Sarah Paulson at her peak, with intense moments that will leave you breathless.” – Jack Wilhelmi, Screen Rant
In 2018, 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg held a school strike outside her country’s Parliament building in Stockholm. At first she sat alone, handing out information and answering questions from passersby. Slowly, others began to join her—and within months she had sparked a worldwide movement. I AM GRETA offers a personal and inspiring glimpse inside Greta’s path to becoming an internationally known environmental activist. Shot in the style of cinéma vérité and with support from the Thunberg family, cameras capture Greta’s meetings with government leaders, headline-making public appearances, and global protests. But they also depict Greta’s life outside of the moments visible on news channels worldwide: laughing at home with her family, writing impassioned speeches, and trying to handle the mounting stress of nonstop travel, public scrutiny and becoming the face of the climate change cause. The film culminates with Greta’s arduous two-week journey by sailboat to the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City, where she’s greeted by crowds chanting her name. (Greta stopped flying because of the high emissions caused by air travel.) Today, her #FridaysForFuture movement has organized climate strikes on every continent except Antarctica. As she tells the UN, “The world is waking up, and change is coming whether you like it or not.” Director Nathan Grossman joins us to talk about his filmmaker instinct to document Greta Thunberg’s first days in front of the Swedish Parliament, the remarkable level of trust he had with Greta and her family as he chronicled the tale of a young woman determined to hold the most powerful people in the world accountable for their pathological abuse of Planet Earth.
A Statement from Greta – “I really like the film and I think it gives a realistic image of myself and my daily life. I hope anyone who watches the film can finally understand that we young people aren’t school striking just for fun. We are protesting because we don’t have a choice. A lot has of course happened since I started school striking, but sadly we are still stuck on square one. The changes and the level of awareness needed are nowhere to be seen today. All that we ask for is for our society to treat the climate crisis as a crisis, and give us a safe future. I think the film shows just how far that is from happening right now. It shows that the urgency of the scientific message isn’t getting through.” – Greta Thunberg
About the filmmaker – Nathan Grossman is educated at The Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts. He started his career as a stills photographer for Rolling Stone India and later moved into documentary filmmaking, mainly focusing on environmental issues. In 2015 Nathan got the world’s attention for his short film The Toaster Challenge where an athlete tries to generate energy to toast a slice of bread. The video became a global phenomenon with over 15 million views. 2017 Nathan completed his first full-length tv-series for public broadcaster SVT, about the growing meat consumption in Sweden. The show sparked a big discussion about meat consumption in Sweden and got nominated for best factual program of the year.
“FASCINATING. A close-up, behind-the-headlines portrait of a passionately committed, media-savvy young woman.” – Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter
“ABSORBING. An uplifting, inspirational story.”– Lee Marshall, Screen International
“INTIMATE AND URGENT. Thunberg’s very existence has been politicized by both friend and foe, but “I Am Greta” is intent on reminding people that she’s really just a kid who has a big dream.”– Kate Erbland, IndieWire
“[Grossman’s] straightforward yet utterly compelling documentary invites us into the life of a remarkable teenager who is sure to accomplish even more remarkable things in the years to come.” – Andrew Collins, Radio Times
The latest documentary film from award-winning director Alexander Nanau is a veritelook behind the curtain of the pervasive corruption of Romania’s Health Ministry. Collective is a scathing examination of the 2015, a fire at Bucharest’s Colectiv club. A fire that leaves 27 dead and 180 injured. Soon, more burn victims begin dying in hospitals from wounds that were not life-threatening. When a doctor blows the whistle on the misuse and abuse of medical protocols and treatments at the facility specializing in burn victim recovery a team of investigative journalists jump into the fray. One revelation leads to another as the journalists start to uncover vast health care fraud. When a new health minister is appointed, he offers unprecedented access to his efforts to reform the corrupt system but also to the obstacles he faces. Following journalists, whistle-blowers, burn victims, and government officials, Collective is an uncompromising look at the impact of investigative journalism at its best. Collective Director Alexander Nanua joins us for a conversation on his remarkable access to the inner circle of the reform-minded new minister and how naked greed and corruption led to deaths of far too many innocent victims.
About the filmmaker – Alexander Nanau was born in Bucharest, Romania in 1979. His family belongs to the Transylvanian Saxons, a cultural minority of German descent who lived since generations in Romania. 1990 they emigrated to Germany and became German citizens. Nanau studied Film Direction at the renowned DFFB in Berlin. His first feature documentary Peter Zadek inszeniert Peer Gynt was released 2006 in Germany and Austria. In 2007 he was a scholarship holder of the Academy of Arts in Berlin. In 2008/2009 he co-produced with HBO Romania, directed and shot the documentary The World According to Ion B. about a 62 years homeless man who starts a career in the international art world with collages he made over the last 30 years. The documentary was selected for over 40 international film festivals and won the prestigious ‘International Emmy Award’ for Arts Programming in 2010. His third feature documentary Toto and His Sisters, produced together with HBO Europe, premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival in the ‘New Directors’ section. The film won major awards at the international film festivals in Angers, Zurich, Warsaw, Jihlava, Leipzig and Sarajevo. It was nominated as ‘Best Documentary’ at the European Film Awards 2015 and won the international Cinema Eye Honors’ Spotlight Award 2016.
“Collective gives us a glimpse of the top-the gangster hospital managers and the government functionaries who appointed them, all helping themselves to taxpayer money while providing care that kills.” – Amy Taubin, Artforum
“Collective is a documentary that grows progressively more frightening, infuriating, and illuminating the longer one sits with it.” – Andrew Parker,The Gate
“A documentary pulsing with an urgency that’s impossible to ignore and a furious sense of anger that’s genuinely palpable.” – Doug Jamieson, The Jam Report
Although he is dealing specifically with one instance in Romania, it’s easy to see evidence of greater global malaise reflected here. – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film
The story behind Steven Bernstein’s latest film, LAST CALL, begins in New York City as renowned poet Dylan Thomas’ (Rhys Ifans) began his final tour in 1953 – a tour that was meant to save him fromruin. The Welsh poet’s reputation for heavy drinking and philandering would soon be forgotten as eageraudiences are captivated by his poetry lectures. Full of poetry, passion, and an ultimate betrayal, the poet who gave us Do not go gentle into that goodnight, Under Milkwood, and stories and broadcasts such as A Child’s Christmas in Wales and Portraitof the Artist as a Young Dog, rages, loves and fights against the gathering darkness. One day at the local White Horse Tavern, he drinks 18 doublescotches, naming each one after his life experience. Soon his fantasies, his memories, and an uncertainpresent blend into a wild, surreal farewell to the world. Inspired by the real life of a man who was regarded as one of the twentieth century’s most influential lyrical poets, LAST CALLstars Rhys Ifans (The Fantastic Flitcrofts), two-time Academy Award-nominee John Malkovich (In the Line of Fire, Places in the Heart) as Thomas’s confidant and enabler, Dr. Felton, and in supporting roles, Rodrigo Santoro (Westworld), Romola Garai (Atonement), Tony Hale (Veep), Zosia Mamet (Girls), and Philip Ettinger. Director Steven Bernstein stops by to talk about the enduring legacy of a literary giant, pulling together a stellar collection of actors and how his love of classic TV dramas inspired his vision to work on a black and white cinematic canvas.
GHOSTS OF THE RÉPUBLIQUEfollows Aurelien and Nicolas, who, when confronted with France’s conservative surrogacy laws (where surrogacy is illegal), decide to exhaust their last option by traveling to Las Vegas to start a family of their own through international surrogacy. Nicolas and Aurelien’s story is unique in that it is a portrayal of the same-sex experience in creating a biological family through surrogacy, a technology developed in the 1980’s becoming more and more commonplace each year. This technology is one that has not only brought hope to couples who struggle with infertility but also to couples who struggle with equality. But while it is a source of hope for many, surrogacy also raises ethical considerations with various legal implications across the globe. Through the lens of one family, this film demonstrates the extreme lengths many gay couples go to have children, while highlighting the ever-expanding and controversial surrogacy industry. GHOSTS OF THE RÉPUBLIQUEseeks to explore the complexities of the issues, and in particular, asks, what does define family in our modern age? Director Jonathan Narducci joins us for a conversation on the negative impact of uncertainty in denying people their human rights and how this project has change the lives of the people who participated.
Gravitas Ventures is proud to present the US virtual release of GHOSTS OF THE RÉPUBLIQUE a documentary film by Jonathon Narducci.The film will be available on Amazon Prime, iTunes and other platforms starting November 17, 2020.
Director’s Statement – We’ve achieved marriage equality in the US and other countries around the world, but today’s laws are far from clear when it comes to surrogacy, and that’s where things really get interesting…the idea of what a family is, is one of the most coveted values in society, and GHOSTS OF THE RÉPUBLIQUE shows us that the definition of family is constantly changing. – Jonathon Narducci.
The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story is a deep dive into the origin story for one of the most successful cable operations in media history as well as the many reasons why millions of children and adults made the Nickelodeon Network synonymous with growing up. In just a few years, the channel grew from a small local channel to an international phenomenon that helped shape a generation. Led by trailblazing visionary Geraldine Laybourne and her commitment to putting kids first, a group of unconventional heroes turned an underdog channel into an $8 billion dollar juggernaut as the golden standard for children’s programming. The Orange Years chronicles the rise of Nickelodeon, with the actors, writers, and creators from all the golden age Nickelodeon shows that shaped your lives. It’s wild. It’s crazy. It changed the world. Co-directors Adam Sweeney and Scott Barber join us for a conversation on the unlikely history of a children’s cable network that really was about and for kids from its quirky lo-fi programming to the young at heart creators who have never lost dight of who their audience is.
A CRIME ON THE BAYOU is the third film in director Nancy Buirski’s trilogy profiling brave individuals who fought for justice in and around the Civil Rights era, following The Loving Story and The Rape of Recy Taylor. The story begins in 1966 in Plaquemines Parish, a swampy strip of land south of New Orleans. After months of clashes, the public schools have been integrated by court order. But we are in the land of the white separatist despot, Leander Perez, who rules Plaquemines like his fiefdom, making sure that segregation sticks regardless of federal laws desegregating schools and mandating voting rights. A 19-year old Black fisherman, Gary Duncan, tries to break up a fight between white and Black teenagers outside a newly integrated school. He lays his hand on a white boy’s arm and the boy recoils, as if bitten by snake. That night, police arrest Gary Duncan for assault on a minor. With the help of a young attorney, Richard Sobol, Duncan bravely stands up to Perez. Systemic racism and pervasive anti-Semitism meet their match in decisive courtroom battles, including the U.S. Supreme Court; hate is vanquished by a powerful friendship that will last a lifetime. With the rise of white nationalism in the U.S. and abroad, there is no more important story to tell today. The roots and the mechanics of hate groups are in full display in this dramatic story of a crime on the bayou. Together this trilogy demonstrates that regular people standing up for their values are the root of human progress. Mildred Loving, Recy Taylor and Gary Duncan did not set out to change history. But they remind us that anyone can. A CRIME ON THE BAYOU Executive Producer is John Legend. Director Nancy Buirski joins us to talk about the her searing indictment of the systemic racism that is responsible for the hideously unjust incarceration of Gary Duncan and thousands of others as well as how it continues to this day.
“You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time.” – Civil Rights leader and colleague of Martin Luther King Jr., friend John Lewis
About the filmmakers – Nancy Buirski is Director/Producer/Writer of THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR (2017); World Premiere, Venice Film Festival; North American Premiere, New York Film Festival. Awarded the prestigious Human Rights Nights Special Prize for Human Rights at the 74° Venice Biennale. Nominated for the NAACP Image Award and Peabody Award. TV broadcast on STARZ/HULU. Buirski is Director/Producer/Writer of BY SIDNEY LUMET (2015; American Masters); World Premiere at Cannes Film Festival. She is Director/Producer/Writer of AFTERNOON OF A FAUN (2013; American Masters); World Premiere, New York Film Festival, International Premiere, 64th Berlinale, record-breaking U.S Theatrical release with Kino Lorber. She is Director/Producer/Writer of the Oscar shortlisted, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning THE LOVING STORY (2011; HBO) and a Producer of LOVING by Jeff Nichols. Buirski will direct TANNY, a narrative version of AFTERNOON OF A FAUN and ENDANGERED, an animated feature based on award-winning novel of the same name by Eliot Schrefer.
RONNIE’S is a love letter to saxophonist Ronnie Scott and the indispensable night clubhe and partner Peter King established in 1959. For more than 60 years music giants have walked through the door of a small basement club in London’s Soho. From the beginning of the burgeoning British modern jazz movement, he and King dreamt of opening a club modeled after the swinging jazz scene of New York’s 52nd Street. From its humble beginnings sixty years ago, Ronnie Scott’s would become the cornerstone of the UK jazz scene and one of the most famous jazz clubs in the world. Ronnie Scott was beloved by many, from the great and famous who frequented his club, to the many hard up musicians who were often helped by his warmth and generous spirit. However, Ronnie was as complex and colourful as the music played on his stage. In private Ronnie battled with depression and when his untimely death occurred in 1996 it left the jazz community bereft of a respected and favorite leader. Funny and moving, Ronnie’s features performances by some of greatest musicians of the 20th Century including…Oscar Peterson, Dizzie Gillespie, Roland Kirk, Cleo Lane and John Danforth, Buddy Rich, Sarah Vaughn, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Ella Fitzgerald, Mary Lou Williams, Van Morrison and Chet Baker, Nina Simone and Ben Webster.
About the filmmaker – Oliver Murray was born in Oxford, United Kingdom in 1985. He is a writer and director. He studied Fine Art at The Glasgow School of Art and Film & Animation at The Pratt Institute in New York City. His feature film debut ‘The Quiet One’ was released in 2019. His second feature film ‘Ronnie’s’ is scheduled for release in 2020.
Giedrė Žickytė remarkable documentary, THE JUMP, chronicles the stranger than fiction story of a man determined to free himself from the stifling clutches of a political system that destroyed the lives of millions living behind the Iron Curtain, It’s Thanksgiving Day, 1970. The US coast guard sets out to meet a Soviet vessel anchored just off the shore of Martha’s Vineyard. A one-day conference between the two nations has been set to discuss fishing rights in the Atlantic Ocean. While the talks are in full swing, Lithuanian sailor Simas Kudirka jumps across the icy water onto the American boat in a frantic bid for freedom. To his horror, and to the outcry of the world media, the Americans return him to the Soviets and he is tried for treason. The event sets off a series of protests throughout the US begging for his freedom and all hope seems lost, until new information about Simas’ citizenship surfaces. Through eye-witness reports, rare archival footage and a dramatic first-person re-enactment by now 90-year-old would-be defector Simas Kudirka, director Giedrė Žickytė takes us on a stranger-than-fiction journey that became an inspiration for people, pictures and politics, reaching all the way up to the White House. Director Giedrė Žickytė joins us to talk about why Simas Kudirka’s story, and the stories of the thousands of migrants from around the globe, both past migrants and those of the future who will be seeking freedom and a promise of a better life. are so near to her heart and to the people of her native land, Lithuania.
About the filmmaker – Giedrė Žickytė is an award-winning Lithuanian documentary film director and producer and the co-founder of the production company, MOONMAKERS. She graduated with a Master’s degree in Visual Arts from Vilnius Art Academy in 2007. Her films have been selected at numerous international film festivals including IDFA, Hot Docs, Visions du Réel (Sesterce d’or Fondation Goblet Award), Sheffield Doc/Fest (Short Doc Award), IFFR, Camerimage (Golden Frog), DocumentaMadrid (Audience Award), Krakow IFF (European Film Award), etc. Many of her films have been theatrically distributed and broadcast on television internationally. I’M NOT FROM HERE (co-directed with Maite Alberdi) was nominated at the European Film Academy Awards in 2016. MASTER AND TATYANA won 4 “Silver Cranes”, the Lithuanian Film Academy Awards including the awards for Best Director and Best Documentary, and was selected as one of “Ten Documentary Film Talents of 2015” by international film critic Tue Steen Müller. In 2016, she was awarded a St. Christopher’s statue by the Vilnius City Council for merits in cinema artwork. Giedrė produced THE EARTH IS BLUE AS AN ORANGE by Iryna Tsilyk which premiered in Sundance 2020 World Documentary Competition and received the Best Directing Award. Giedrė is a member of the European Film Academy, Lithuanian Filmmakers Union, alumni of Berlinale Talent Campus, Sources2, CPH:DOX LAB, EURODOC and dok.incubator.
Director Sian-Pierre Regis’ poignant feature documentary debut, DUTY FREE, takes us into the world of his mom, Rebecca Danigelis, a British immigrant living in Boston, who has been fired from her job as a hotel housekeeper at the age of 75. An experience that has left her financially and emotionally devastated. Her son, Sian-Pierre, is living in New York City, trying to work his way into the competitive world of TV journalism. With his mother’s reality crashing down, Sian-Pierre resolves to leave New York, and the life he expected to lead, to help his mother get back on her feet. As Sian-Pierre looks for ways to support Rebecca, he gives her an adventure spanning two continents that uncovers a surprising family saga, a story that reveals the compromises and injustices placed on single mothers, the persistence of sexism and ageism, and the difficult dance of duty and freedom where the older and younger generations come together.DUTY FREE and the impact campaign inspired by the film examines ageism, the care crisis, and economic insecurity in America. Who will care for and support our moms and dads? Our grandmothers and our grandfathers? Watch our film, raise these questions in your own community, and together let’s point to solutions that work for all generations. Director Sian-Pierre Regis joins us for a conversation about the challenges facing millions of families as they confront the impacts of aging love ones and how we navigate the challenges and embrace the opportunity to better understand a part of the human experience that awaits us all.
About the filmmaker – Sian-Pierre is currently a Firelight Media Fellow 2018-2020 and a Film Independent Documentary Fellow 2019. He is also an award-winning journalist, on-camera personality, and cultural critic with an undying love for both pop-culture and social responsibility. He has been a contributor for CNN, HLN, MTV and CBS, covering stories of youth political activism and pop-culture.
The endlessly intriguing “what if” documentary, RED HEAVEN, pulls back the curtain on what are the practical implications for the astronauts on a mission to colonize Mars. What are the physical, mental and psychological impacts likely to be on these explorers in an isolated and unforgiving environment as they carry out their mission to colonize Mars? RED HEAVEN focuses on a group of six volunteers, Carmel Johnston, Sheyna Gifford, Christiane Heinicke, Tristan Bassingthwaighte, Andrzej Stewart, and Cyprien Verseux as they take part in the ultimate dress rehearsal, living inside a year-long NASA simulation designed to understand the effects of isolation on the human mind. RED HEAVENasks audiences to look at their own fundamental needs as human beings, what they can and can’t live without, and pose a fundamental question about why humans seem so determined to explore and expand our boundaries. Co-directors Lauren DeFilippo and Katherine Gorringe join us to talk about why they see their film in a different light since the COVID pandemic and how they gained a new understanding for what our subjects went through – living together while separated from the rest of the world, everyday a struggle against the pressures of boredom and isolation.
Director’s Statement – We were finishing up graduate school at Stanford University, studying documentary film, in the heart of Silicon Valley at a time when space exploration and traveling to Mars had reemerged in the public consciousness. It was also the moment when climate change was becoming a more prominent threat to the future of humanity. We wanted to interrogate this new fascination with sending humans to Mars. What does this dream of living on Mars say about our culture, about human beings? We both were contending with how to imagine the future at a time when the Earth is in crisis. We started to research possible stories that spoke to this question and we quickly learned about the Hawai’i Space Exploration Analogue and Simulation, where six people would soon be entering a small dome where they would live isolated from the rest of the world for an entire year as if they were on Mars. These six crew members of HI-SEAS were actually going to act out living on Mars, and they would be actually living in this world for an entire year – that was irresistibly intriguing. We were interested in the complex, human side of the story – the intensity of living in a place that is totally inhospitable to us as a species all the while being completely isolated from everything you’ve ever known. We felt that was the most fascinating part, yet it was being repeatedly overlooked in the race to get to Mars. In a way, RED HEAVEN was our mode of expressing an uncertainty about what the future holds. – Co-directors Lauren DeFilippo and Katherine Gorringe
Director/Producer: RED HEAVEN marks Lauren DeFilippo’s feature-length directorial debut. She is currently in production on two upcoming feature documentaries: Free Money (director/producer), about the world’s largest universal basic income experiment, and Ailey (producer) about visionary dance choreographer, Alvin Ailey.
Director/Producer/Editor: Katherine Gorringe is a documentary director and editor whose work has been featured at numerous festivals including SXSW, CPH:DOX and Hot Docs. Her recent editing work includes the Emmy-nominated Netflix Original Saving Capitalism, which follows former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. RED HEAVEN is her feature documentary directorial debut.
THE LAST OUT tells the story of three talented Cuban athletes, Happy, Carlos, and Victor, leave their families and homes behind as they set off in pursuit of the ultimate dream: a contract with Major League Baseball. Cuban ballplayers are among baseball’s brightest stars but Cuban ball-players can’t just sign out of Cuba – the US Embargo is still in place and only being strengthened under the current administration – so Cubans have to leave their homeland, often under dangerous circumstances and establish residency in a third Country like The Dominican Republic, Haiti or Costa Rica. At the rundown Estadio Antonio Escarre, they have spent the past year training long and hard, thousands of miles away from their families in Cuba. They travel to Costa Rica and train under a seedy sports agent who dangles promises while exploiting their talents. As they navigate immigration and the ulterior motives of handlers, each man finds an unexpected path forward to a better life. Set against the backdrop of the dangerous Central American migrant trail, THE LAST OUT offers a rare window into the dark side of professional sports. THE LAST OUT co-directors Sami Khan and Michael Gassert stop by to talk about their process of following the many twists and turns these young men’s lives take them on and the personal risk they and their team took in chronicling it.
Sami Khan’s most recent film, the short documentary St. Louis Superman (with Smriti Mundhra), was nominated for an Academy Award® and won a Special Jury Prize at Tribeca in 2019. Michael Gassert’s documentary and archival work has been supported by IFP, the Sundance Institute, UNESCO, and the Kennedy Center.
CRUTCHtakes the audience on a journey that literally spans the entire globe. The documentary features the abandoned Pittsburgh steel mills of Bill’s childhood; his diagnosis with Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, a rare, degenerative condition of the hip; the underground NYC break dance battles of his twenties; his groundbreaking performances in Sydney, Quebec, Madrid, Helsinki, Moscow, London, Paris, Tokyo, and more. CRUTCH is a global story, a powerful story, a transformational story, and one which will have you re-evaluating your own perspectives. From childhood “cripple” to international provocateur, CRUTCH is an engrossing, emotional story of an artist’s struggle to be understood and an auspicious DOC NYC debut. Two decades in the making and employing a kinetic tapestry of 8mm film from the 70’s, Hi-8 and VHS tapes from the 80’s, mini-DV tapes from the 90’s, and stunning HD footage from the 2000’s, CRUTCH documents Bill’s extraordinary life’s story: the history of Bill’s medical odyssey, his struggles with chronic pain, the evolution of his crutch dancing and skating, his rise to become a world-renowned performance artist, and his transformation from an angry skate punk to an international hero. Co-directors Sachi Cunningham and Vayabobo (Chandler Evans) join us to talk about Bill Shannon’s fierce determination to breakthrough cultural perceptions of what it is to be a dancer, skateboarder and performance artist.
About the filmmaker – Director /Producer Sachi Cunningham is an award winning documentary filmmaker and Associate Professor of Journalism at San Francisco State University. A graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and Brown University, Cunningham has worked on the staffs of PBS FRONTLINE/World, where she covered stories from the first Presidential election in Afghanistan to sex trafficking in Dubai, and the Los Angeles Times, where she was recruited to start their first video team. When not making documentaries, Cunningham can be found swimming somewhere in the Pacific, where she is known for her pioneering big wave water surf photography
About the filmmaker – Director / Producer / Writer Vayabobo (Chandler Evans) is a writer/director, whose award winning videos have garnered over 150 million views online. Vayabobo wrote and directed for Disney Interactive and subsequently helped to launch Buzzfeed Video. He wrote Visions of Everest, a feature length documentary about the only blind man to summit Mount Everest and has written for TV shows on CBS, Syfy and CW. His work in advertising includes directing commercial spots for companies such as Disney, Singapore Airlines, Hamilton Beach and KB Homes. When not working, you can catch Vayabobo playing and documenting Capoeira around the world.
IN MY OWN TIME: A PORTRAIT OF KAREN DALTON explores Karen’s early days in Oklahoma where she experienced the harsh realities of growing up during the Great Depression and follows her through more than two decades at the margins of popular music. With two ex-husbands and two children by the time she was eighteen, she rejected the life of a housewife and set off for New York City. Constantly struggling to find her audience yet too close to her own music to compromise, Karen’s negotiations with fortune and fame were complex, but one thing is clear, she lived the music. While Karen projected a tough exterior, as a musician she was fragile and rife with insecurity. IN MY OWN TIME: A PORTRAIT OF KAREN DALTON focuses on Karen’s difficulties in pursuing success while trying to maintain a pure relationship with the creative process. Through stories from her closest friends, family and collaborators, combined with Karen’s rarely seen personal journals and poetry. We dive deep into the existential struggles she faced, and that ultimately led to her drug use and an untimely death due to AIDs related illness. Co-directors Ricahrd Peete and Robert Yapkowitz join us to talk about an artist who eschewed the spotlight, admired by her peers, difficult to know and the creator of a body of work that will inspire others for as long as music is made.
Octogenarian artist Audrey Flack has always been a trailblazer.QUEEN OF HEARTS: AUDREY FLACK, a documentary from Oscar® and Emmy® Award-winning directorDeborah Shaffer (The Wobblies, To Be Heard) and co-director/editor Rachel Reichman (Hitchcock/Truffaut, A Letter to Elia), is an intimate portrait of her life and work, as she returns to her canvas for the first time in decades, revealing her longtime struggles as an artist and mother to find her rightful place in the art world. At 88 years-old, Audrey Flack holds a unique place in the history of contemporary art in America. Feminist, rebel, mother, painter, sculptor and teacher, Audrey’s often controversial 40-year career evolved from abstract expressionism in the 1950s to photorealism in the 1970s. One of the first women ever included in the famed Janson’s History of Art, Audrey continues to create, explore, and inspire with her unique style and indomitable spirit. QUEEN OF HEARTS follows Flack as she takes her work in a brand new direction and reveals her long-term struggles as the mother of a child with autism. Flack has something deep and genuine to communicate to the world. Director Deborah Shaffer joins us for a conversation on getting to know her endlessly fascinating, multi-talented subject who is still testing, still experimenting, still searching.
About the filmmaker – Academy Award winning filmmaker Deborah Shaffer began making social issue documentaries as a member of the Newsreel collective the ‘70’s. She co-founded Pandora Films, one of the first women’s film companies, which produced several shorts. Her first feature documentary, The Wobblies, premiered at the New York Film Festival in 1979. During the 80’s Shaffer focused on human rights in Central America and Latin America, directing many films including Witness to War: Dr. Charlie Clements which won the Academy Award for Short Documentary in 1985, and Fire From the Mountain and Dance of Hope which both played at the Sundance Film Festival. Shaffer directed one of the first post-September 11 films, From the Ashes: 10 Artists followed by From the Ashes: Epilogue, which premiered at the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals. She is also the Executive Producer of the Academy Award-nominated short Asylum, and has directed numerous acclaimed public television programs on women and the arts. She directed and produced To Be Heard, which won awards at numerous festivals and aired nationwide on PBS. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Irene Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award by the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.
“a thoroughly engaging documentary portrait of an artist…[and] the perfect introduction to its subject, comprehensive in its detail and captivating in its approach.” – Christopher Reed, Hammer to Nail
“…what’s refreshing about Deborah Shaffer and Rachel Reichman’s look is how intimate and personal it feels, grounding a remarkable woman in a very personable and extraordinary light.”-Tynan Yanaga, Film Inquiry
“…she has been an incredible photorealist, armed with a convincing spray brush. Now, the artist finally gets her due in this documentary about her life.” – Nadja Sayej, Forbes
CODED BIAS explores the fallout of MIT media lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s startling discovery, technology based bias is real. Modern society sits at the intersection of two crucial questions: What does it mean when artificial intelligence increasingly governs our liberties? And what are the consequences for the people AI is biased against? When MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that most facial-recognition software does not accurately identify darker-skinned faces and the faces of women, she delves into an investigation of widespread bias in algorithms. As it turns out, artificial intelligence is not neutral, and women are leading the charge to ensure our civil rights are protected. Director Shalini Kantayya (Catching the Sun) joins us for a conversation on computerized racial, political, sexual, social, financial, cultural bias and how it is here now and what, if any, way that people can do anything reform it or stop it from determining our collective future.
About the filmmaker: Director Shalini Kantayya’sfeature documentary, CODED BIAS, premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. She directed an episode of the National Geographic television series Breakthrough, Executive Produced by Ron Howard, broadcast globally in 2017. Her debut feature film Catching the Sun, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was named a New York Times Critics’ Pick. Catching the Sun released globally on Netflix on Earth Day 2016 with Executive Producer Leonardo DiCaprio, and was nominated for the Environmental Media Association Award for Best Documentary. She is an Associate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. shalinikantayya.net
“Racial bias, algorithms, facial recognition and badass women of color put our government on blast for using technology while rolling back privacy and Civil Rights in America. Joy Buolamwini and Shalini Kantayya should get a Nobel Peace Prize!” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic
“In a time where we as consumers instill unrelenting trust in the people behind the screen, there has never been a more vital documentary.” – Stephanie Archer, Film Inquiry
“Without shying away the issue’s enormity or its devastating consequences, Coded Bias gradually works toward almost inspirational vibe, as Buolamwini and others get to work solving the problem they’ve identified. – Angie Han, Mashable
“Kantayya makes a strong and compelling argument that everyone needs to pay attention to. Not only do we need to be talking about this, but we, the people, need to be doing more about this.” – Amyana Bartley, QBP Reviews
Sacha Polak’s DIRTY GOD is a film about a young mother from London who must pick up the pieces after an acid attack leaves her with severe facial burns. Prior to the attack, with limited education and opportunities, Jade’s main currency was her looks. Her face has been reconstructed, but her beauty is gone. Jade must set about rebuilding herself – and this is a gargantuan task. Cast adrift from her young daughter, Jade finds solace in the hidden world of online liaisons where she uncovers the passion and connection she’s craved in an often humorous and celebratory way. However, the actions of a stranger threaten to turn her life upside down once more, and those around her are ill-equipped to halt her descent. As family life and friendships start to crumble, her lowest ebb proves the inspiration that Jade needs. Jade takes drastic action, finally finding her path back to her daughter and herself. Finalist for the 2019 Sundance Grand Jury Prize (World Cinema Dramatic) DIRTY GOD is a powerful film about motherhood, courage and self-acceptance.Director Sacha Polak joins us for a conversation on how Jade’s story resonated with lead actor Vicki Knight’s own recovery and the trust and bonding that the entire cast and crew experienced during the making of this compelling film.
Oscar winning Director Ron Howard’s gripping new documentary. Rebuilding Paradise, movingly recounts and expands on the devastating events of Nov. 8, 2018. A tragedy that began with a spark from a transmission line in Northern California, coupled with climate-impacted conditions, quickly grew into a devastating firestorm that engulfed the picturesque city of Paradise, California. By the time the Camp Fire was extinguished, it had killed 85 people, displaced 50,000 residents and destroyed 95% of local structures. It was the deadliest U.S. fire in 100 years — and the worst ever in California’s history. As residents faced the damage to their lives, to their homes and to more than 150,000 acres in and around their 141-year-old town, they did something amazing: They worked together to heal. The community members went on to forge a bond stronger than what they had before the catastrophe, even as their hope and spirit were challenged by continued adversity: relocations, financial crises, government hurdles, water poisoning, grief and PTSD. From the moment the crisis began, The Camp Fire and its overwhelming aftermath became a de facto lesson in what we all must do: protect our environment, help our neighbors, plan for future dangers and remember to preserve the traditions that unite us — just as these resilient citizens did when they began the important task of REBUILDING PARADISE. Producer Sara Bernstein joins us for a conversation on how the production team, led by Oscar-winning director Ron Howard gained the confidence and trust of families scarred by one of the most devastating fires in California as well as documenting the resiliency and character of the people rebuilding Paradise.
About the filmmaker – Sara Bernstein is an award-winning producer and Executive Vice President at Imagine Documentaries the newly launched documentary division of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s, Imagine Entertainment. Recent feature films she has executive produced include Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band (2019) and Dads (2019) which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Ron Howard-directed documentary film, Rebuilding Paradise (2020), for National Geographic Films, D.Wade: Life Unexpected (2020) for ESPN Films and the documentary feature film on legendary chef Julia Child, Julia (2021) directed by Academy Award nominees Julie Cohen and Betsy West. Prior to joining Imagine, Bernstein was Senior Vice President, HBO Documentary Films over seeing nonfiction development and production for HBO. Credits include Academy Award-winner Citizenfour (2014), Academy Award-winner Music by Prudence (2010), Academy Award nominees Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country (2008), Iraq In Fragments (2006), The Children of Leningradsky (2005), Poster Girl (2010). Emmy-nominated The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019), Emmy-nominated The Case Against Adnan Syed (2019), Judd Apatow’s Emmy-winning The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling (2018), Emmy winners Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015), White Light, Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2007) and Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012). Emmy-nominated The Case Against 8 (2014), Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures (2016), Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker’s Emmy-nominated Unlocking The Cage (2016); Beware the Slenderman (2016), I Love You Now Die (2019) and Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017). Bernstein has garnered 10 Emmy wins, 29 Emmy nominations and 11 Peabody Awards. Documentaries she has supervised have garnered 2 Oscars and 13 Oscar nominations.
“Rebuilding Paradise might easily have blazed with righteous fury, but its conclusions are quieter and bleaker.” – Ellen E Jones, Guardian
“Filmmaker Howard admittedly does a superb job of immediately drawing the viewer into the briskly-paced proceedings…” David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews
“Howard’s documentary is not so much about the fire as it takes a looks at the resilience members of the community showed. It is both painful and inspirational.” – Rick Bentley,Tribune News Service
“Mr. Howard wants us to know that greater challenges lie ahead… Yet his documentary also dramatizes the resilience and resourcefulness we can bring to bear in meeting them. Calamity, the film says, isn’t destiny.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
Based on a non-fiction novel RECON is set in the mountains of Italy at the close of the Second World War. Adapted from the critically acclaimed New York Times best seller by famed author Richard Bausch, and based on a true event – RECON tells the story of four American soldiers in WW2, who after they witness a vicious murder of an innocent civilian at the hands of their platoon Sergeant, are sent on a reconnaissance/suicide mission lead by a local partisan, an elderly man whose indeterminate loyalties add to the terror and confusion that engulfs the Americans as they are hunted by an unseen enemy. RECON centers around young men in the midst of war. The action occurs over the course of one long day between four soldiers placed in a crucible, as they debate both their fates and that of life itself.Each has a different perspective, liberal, racist, =uncertain – a metaphor for the America both of 1945 and 2018. As the soldiers fight amongst themselves they realize they are being both hunted and haunted by a mysterious sniper and the specter of a burning question – is their Italian guide, this old man from the village, a fascist sympathizer who wishes to lead them to their death? As they struggle to make it off the mountain alive, these American soldiers face the worst that war can offer men…. and through this each finds their own peace. Director Robert Port stops by for a conversation on the challenges of meeting the expectations set by an award winning novel, working with a very talented cast of young actors and capturing a tone and look that puts you in the middle of this intense drama.
About the making of RECON – The novel, RECON, based on a true military event, was written by Air Force veteran Richard Bausch; it was awarded the 2010 Dayton International Literary Peace Prize. “Peace” will be re-published by Penguin Random House as an e-book in October. RECON stars Alexander Ludwig (BAD BOYS FOR LIFE, THE HUNGER GAMES, “Vikings”) Sam Keeley (BURNT, “68 Whiskey”), Chris Brochu (DYNASTY, “Shameless”) and Italian acting legend Franco Nero (DJANGO UNCHAINED, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2). The film is produced by Rick Dugdale and Richard Bullock and executive produced by Maury Povich. Writer/director Robert Port won an Academy award for his film TWIN TOWERS, a documentary short about Detective Joe Vigiano, an elite New York City policeman who was killed during the tragic events of 9/11. RECON is Robert Port’s feature debut.
It’s 1984 and outside a small-town nightclub, a group of 8th graders gather, grappling with a spate of recent suicides, UFO sightings, their absentee parents, and each other. 18 TO PARTY spans a single evening in the lives of these kids, but manages to transport us fully to a time when waiting for something to happen felt just as significant as the thing itself. Gorgeously atmospheric, with a pulsating sense of anticipation that steadily builds, the film pulls us into the fears, wounds, and desires of each character, ultimately revealing that hope may arrive from the last place we expect. Themeticulously authentic production design, killer soundtrack, and universally excellent performances recall the spirit of classic 80s teen movies like Stand By Me and The Breakfast Club. 18 TO PARTY is a spot-on love letter to Gen X, awkward teenagers, and the transcendent power of friendship. Director Jeff Roda joins us for a conversation on the universal trials and tribulations of youth, working with a very talented group of actors and the inspiration for his insightful new film.
About the filmmaker: Jeff Roda has written screenplays for DreamWorks, Universal, Paramount Pictures, New Regency, TriStar, and television pilots for HBO, CBS, and Warner Bros. Additionally, he was a producer on the Sony Pictures Classics feature, Love Liza, starring Academy Award winning actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Kathy Bates. 18 TO PARTY marks his directorial debut. Roda is a local resident of Woodstock area and the film is set in Upstate New York.
“If John Hughes and Richard Linklater had a love child, it would be 18 to Party.”– Sean Boelman. WORLD FILM GEEK
“A riveting meditation on Gen X cynicism.”– Ken Scrudato, BLACKBOOK
“No film captures the purgatory of adolescence better than 18 to Party which gets its premiere today at the Woodstock Film Festival. Writer/Director Jeff Roda so perfectly captures the tension of this time period I found myself having middle school flashbacks.”– Tyler Unsell, SIGNAL HORIZON
In his follow-up to the acclaimed debut feature film, The Giant, Johannes Nyholm’s Koko-Di Koko-Da recounts the story of Elin and Tobias, a happily married couple who regularly vacation with their young daughter. The family is on a dreamy holiday when an innocuous case of food poisoning derails their plans and forever alters the course of their lives.Three years later, the once loving couple is on the road again to go camping, looking for one last chance to go back to the way things used to be. But what once was is lost, and our characters instead find themselves having to relive the same nightmarish events, as that day and the horrors it brings repeat themselves infinitely. Together, they must overcome their trauma, reconcile with their past and fight for their lives. Over, and over, and over again.Discerned through a dreamlike fabric, a story emerges about relationships in general, grief and reconciliation in particular, and love as a healing force. Director Johannes Nyholm stops by to talk about the mind-bending, Federico Fellini meets Rod Sterling mise-en-scène inhabiting this profoundly passive-aggressive tale of trauma, loss and truly terrible camping strategies.
Director’s Statement – The setting is those wee hours of the morning when dreams are at their most relentlessly untamed. This is also when the seed for many of my films comes to me. I’m sweating, struggling to go back to sleep and plagued by scattered thoughts. Suddenly they come together, leading me into a fairy tale. I write it down and then I can sleep. “Koko-di Koko-da” was both written and takes place during such a time – this nightmarish landscape between wakefulness and sleep. The film is deeply personal and a means to confront my own worst fears, much like the way the characters in the film are forced to confront theirs. It’s a universal narrative about a relationship that is falling apart. The main reason for making this film is that I’m fascinated by the everyday situations and power struggles lurking beneath the surface in relationships; what is not said, what is embedded between the lines. The love and happiness they once shared has evaporated, and so has the care they used to show for each other. Over and over again, we see them pushed yet again onto the same stage, the open glen in the woods, and into the airless tent. We observe them from above, like gladiators clashing repeatedly, without any opportunity to escape – be it from their tormenters or from each other. They are forced to confront each other, to display emotions, to be pushed around, humiliated, spat upon, tormented; in short – to be together. Any attempts to get away inevitably lead back to the same claustrophobic scenario. Made up of dreams, this story is also structurally constructed like a dream – or more specifically, a nightmare. Taking us through a labyrinth in time, like a dark grinding thought, never letting go, stuck on repeat. Presenting minor variations, but always with the same horrific outcome. – Johannes Nyholm
“Johannes Nyholm follows up his masterful debut, 2016’s The Giant, with this often inexplicable yet increasingly captivating endeavor…” – David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews
“Though at times tasteless and barely coherent, the story is oddly affecting, the very strangeness of Nyholm’s folkloric vision and its unnerving execution pulling you in.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
“It works as a parable for what happens to grief when it is left un-exorcised and unexpressed.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
“Writer-director Johannes Nyholm (The Giant, 2016) takes all the grief, loss and bitter recriminations of this Swedish couple and drops them into the realm of myth, dream and folklore.” – Anton Bitel, Sight and Sound