Io Capitano – Director Matteo Garrone

Director Matteo Garrone made his name with the landmark Neapolitan crime film GOMORRAH, and has since demonstrated a penchant for gothic tales tinged with dark fantasy, including TALE OF TALES, DOGMAN and PINOCCHIO. With IO CAPITANO, Italy’s official selection for the Academy Award® Best International Film category, Garrone turns his attention back to real-life subject matter, where he finds a story of bravery and heroism in the face of harrowing danger that’s equal to any classical epic or enchanting fairy tale. Musician-turned-actor Seydou Sarr gives an impressiv performance as Seydou, a Senegalese teenager who lives in an over-crowded house with his mother and younger sisters. Along with his cousin Moussa (Moustapha Fall), Seydou has been working odd jobs and saving money, preparing for a move to Italy, with dreams of pursuing a music career. Along the way, they will contend with shakedowns from corrupt border guards, mistreatment from human traffickers, a dangerous and deadly crossing of the Sahara Desert, and imprisonment, abuse and modern-day slavery in Libya. Director and co-writer Matteo Garrone stops by to talk about his “reverse shot” of the immigration experience while unfurling an epic, cinematographically magnificent odyssey from West Africa to Italy and his confidence in the two young, untested actors to embody the determination, courage, and character he needed to make this film such a resounding success.

 

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For more go to: cohenmedia.net/io-capitano

Italy’s Oscar® submission for Best International Feature

 
WINNER – Best Director – 2023 Venice Film Festival
WINNER – Marcello Mastroianni Award – 2023 Venice Film Festival
WINNER – Green Drop Award – 2023 Venice Film Festival

Matteo Garrone (Writer, Director, Producer) was born in Rome in 1968. In 1997 he made his first feature film, Terra di mezzo, with his production company, Archimede. In 1998 his second film, Guest (Ospiti) and in 2000 Roman Summer (Estate romana). The Embalmer (L’imbalsamatore), from 2002, received the David di Donatello award for Best Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor and the Nastro d’Argento (Silver Ribbon) for Best Editing. In 2005 he was in competition at the Berlinale with First Love (Primo Amore), and was awarded the Silver Bear for best soundtrack. In 2008, Garrone wrote and directed Gomorrah, which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival; he won five European Film Awards including Best Film and Best Director, seven David di Donatello awards and 2 Nastri d’Argento prizes; Gomorrah was selected by Italy as the entry for Best International Film (then known as Best Foreign Language Film) at the Academy Awards and entered the Golden Globes as well as receiving BAFTA and César nominations. With Reality (2012) Garrone again won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, followed by three David di Donatello awards and 3 Nastri d’Argento prizes; he returned to Cannes in 2015 with Tale of Tales (Il Racconto dei Racconti), winning 7 David di Donatello and 3 Nastri d’Argento awards. In 2018 Dogman was awarded the Best Actor prize at Cannes, subsequently winning 9 David di Donatello and 8 Nastri D’Argento prizes before being selected by Italy as the entry for Best International Film (then known as Best Foreign Language Film) at the Academy Awards In 2019 he brought Pinocchio to theaters, winning 5 David di Donatello and 4 Nastri d’Argento awards as well as earning two Oscar nominations for Best Makeup and Best Costume Design. For more go to: matteogarrone.eu

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“A grand, honestly felt emotional sweep… Garrone’s most robust, purely satisfying filmmaking since his international breakthrough with Gomorrah 15 years ago.” – Variety

“Both epic and personal, with moments of harsh inhumanity and dreamy surrealism, the film never quite goes where you expect it to, right up to the final exhilarating moments…Sarr is amazing in a breakthrough performance of such depth and pathos…” – Frank J. Avella, Awards Daily

“The film builds on a docudrama realism while also reaching toward the mythological.” – Chris Barsanti, Slant Magazine

“Garrone’s film has a three-dimensional and devastatingly realized human soul at its core. The world could do with paying attention to Seydou’s story and the millions of other real ones like it.” – Leila Latif, indieWire

“Intensely personal, the film finds global resonance in its specific story of a 16-year-old whose innate hopefulness is beaten and battered but never extinguished over the course of an astonishing odyssey.” – Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

“Garrone… almost never puts a foot wrong with this painstakingly composed work, an adventure peppered by moments of nauseating horror but also ravishing beauty and grace.” – Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter

Stopmotion – Director Robert Morgan

Ella Blake is a stop-motion animator who is struggling to control her demons after the loss of her overbearing mother. Suddenly alone in the world, she embarks upon the creation of a macabre new puppet film, which soon becomes the battleground for her sanity. As Ella’s mind starts to fracture, the characters in her animated film take on a terrifying life of their own, and the unleashed power of her imagination threatens to destroy her. Anchored by a standout performance featuring actress Aisling Franciosi, the story takes a disturbing turn when a precocious young girl, played by  Caoilinn Springall makes a series of suggestions and soon demands on Ella to change the course of her film, leading to increasingly frightening outcomes. Attempts by her boyfriend, and friends to help, only drive her closer to the edge. STOPMOTION also features Morgan’s captivating yet frightening stop-motion animation. . Director Robert Morgan (The Vandal, To Dust) joins us to talk about his background as an artist, his love of stop motion filmmaking and horror, working with a superb cast that includes Aisling Franciosi, Stella Gonet and newcomer Caoilinn Springall, and his collaboration with co-writer Robin King. 

 

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For more go to: ifcfilms.com/films/stopmotion

About the filmmaker – Robert Morgan was born in 1974. He is a director and writer, known for ABCs of Death 2 (2014), Bobby Yeah (2011) and The Cat with Hands (2001). His feature directorial debut, STOPMOTION will be released by theatrically on February 23 through IFC Films. STOPMOTION currently rated 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

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92% on RottenTomatoes

“It’s chilling and tragic in equal measures.” – Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle

“Stopmotion is a surprising film using unique sights and sounds to breathe new life into a familiar, horrifying tale of a tortured artist.” – Molly HeneryThe Blogging Banshee

“At every level, Stopmotion is a formally and narratively thrilling feature debut from one of our greatest living animators. … A must watch for fans of animation … it’s also a visually striking and thought-provoking horror movie about creativity.” – Kyle Logan, ScreenAnarchy

“Aside from just being a good old fashioned horror movie, there is an intelligence and ferocity at play here that speaks to much grander things than just simple genre thrills.” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ.org

“The visuals are astounding; filled with unsettling claymation figures and darkly suspenseful atmosphere. Robert Morgan has crafted an impressive first feature that is certainly visually arresting. But the film lacks dramatic power…” – Peg Aloi, Arts Fuse

Kiss The Future – Director Nenad Cicin-Sain

An exploration of the perils of nationalism and art’s role as a weapon of resistance and activism, KISS THE FUTURE, follows an underground community that continued to work, create and live throughout the 1990s Siege of Sarajevo. Amid the breakup of Yugoslavia, the citizens of Sarajevo wake to find the city under siege and Bosnia at war. In a far-fetched scheme inspired by local resistance, an American aid worker living in Sarajevo reached out to the world’s biggest band, U2, to see if they could help raise global awareness of the devastating conflict. The band pledges to perform in the city once the conflict was over. KISS THE FUTURE follows the story of that promise, with a post-war concert that saw U2 play to over 45,000 local fans in a liberated city, a show that lives on as a joyous collective memory for the people of Sarajevo – proof that they did not just survive the blockade, but thrived in spite of it; that amid the horrors of the darkest human impulses, music and art can be acts of rebellion. Director and co-writer Nenad Cicin-Sain (The Time Being) joins us to talk about his own connection to Yugoslavia, meeting Bill Carter, the power of music, working with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck on the project and connecting with the people who survived the darkest days and now stand as an example of hope and a better way forward.

 

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For more go to: fifthseason.com/kiss-the-future

On Wednesday, February 21st at 7pm local, select AMC Theatres across the country will host an exclusive early screening. “KISS THE FUTURE: A Dolby Special Event” will include an introduction from producers Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, plus a pre-recorded post-film discussion hosted by Matt Carey (Deadline) featuring director Nenad Cicin-Sain, Vesna Andree Zaimovic and Bill Carter – in conversation with U2’s The Edge and Adam Clayton – about their personal experiences as part of the extraordinary Sarajevan creative community whose commitment to art and life and the City of Sarajevo was, and continues to be, an inspiration to so many. Tickets to this special event, presented in Dolby Cinema, are on sale now atamctheatres.com or on the AMC Theatres mobile app.

KISS THE FUTURE, a critically acclaimed documentary, that World Premiered at Berlinale and opened The Tribeca Film Festival in 2023, directed by Nenad Cicin-Sain, produced by Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Sarah Anthony, which will debut at select U.S. AMC locations beginning Friday, February 23, for a full theatrical run. The doc features Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Christiane Amanpour and Bill Clinton. Released through Fifth Season. 

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“Kiss the Future is a long-overdue documentary about the power that music has during times of war, particularly in Sarajevo.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“”Kiss the Future” is a portrait of a city and a people who used culture to fight back; it’s also the story of a rock ‘n’ roll band exploring the limits of how its music can impact the real world.” – Steve Pond, TheWrap

“A touching reminder of music’s ability to change the world.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

“A polished yet unexpectedly affecting documentary…” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International

“This movie is a time-capsule of Europe’s recent tragic past.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

“It’s easy to question the motives of pop stars who get behind a cause, but the end-product here is a joyful night for people who’ve experienced unimaginable hardship” – Lou Thomas, NME (New Musical Express)

Rojek – Director Zayne Akyol

Director Zayne Akyol’s even handed and insightful documentary ROJEK places the viewer face-to-face with incarcerated members of the Islamic State from all over the world, as well as their wives  detained in prison-camps, who all share a common dream: establishing a caliphate. Confronted with the fundamentalist beliefs of the jihadists, the ROJEK attempts to trace the beginning, the rise and fall of the Islamic State (ISIS) through their personal stories. These conversations are the threads along which the documentary evolves, as it is intertwined with various sequences depicting current, post-war Syrian Kurdistan. ROJEK offers an intimate gaze at an unknown reality, testifying of pivotal moments experienced by the actors of this conflict. Director Zayne Akyol yeoman’s work in ROJEK brings us into the center of a dangerous and vexing question facing much of the world right now… is the ideological warfare we have all witnessed in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, an historic anomaly or the beginning of a terrifying threat to our collective security?

 

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For more go to: icarusfilms.com/if-rojek

Canada’s entry 2024 Academy Award® Best International Feature

About the filmmaker – Zaynê Akyol is a Canadian filmmaker, producer and photographer. She went to Université du Québec à Montréal, where she obtained a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Communication, with a specialization in film. In 2016, Zaynê released her first feature documentary  Gulîstan, Land of Roses, which was selected by 80 international film festivals with 50 nominations and won 12 awards, including the prestigious Doc Alliance Award given at Locarno Film Festival. Zaynê also started producing other filmmaker’s films, two of which are expected to be released in 2021. In her free time, she is a photographer whose exhibitions have been attended worldwide. Her latest documentary, Rojek, was Canada’s submission for the 2024 Academy Award® in the Best International Feature category.

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“A deeply unsettling exploration of morality and terror.” – The Globe and Mail

“Rojek is a work of poetic inquisitiveness years-in-the-making. This absorbing and admirably even-handed documentary looks the beast in the eye to weigh the context, cost, and consequences of fundamentalism.” – POV Magazine

“Offers an insight into the seemingly impenetrable, monolith group and paints the extremist faction through its affiliates, who are – unlike their general perception by media and the public – distinguishable and diverse.” – Modern Times Review

“Kurdish fundamentalist extremists and Western cultures…faint possibility of finding co-existence. normalizes torture and murder in a burning hellscape of ancient repressive laws, fascinating, ugly, raw, and real; we need to know.” – Anne Brodie, What She Said

“Here is an astringent, devastating and truly extraordinary film that is hard work to watch, but entirely worth it.” – Leslie Felperin, Guardian

“It’s a truly disturbing doc, illuminating a mindset that is difficult to comprehend but that must be understood if there is to ever be anything close to an attempt at peaceful coexistence.” – Awards Daily

“Highly recommended. This is one of DOC NYC’s most important films.” – Unseen Films

“An unexpected look at a far-reaching current political issue and a film whose subject matter and rhythm create an impressive cinematographic object.” – AV Club

Shari & Lamb Chop – Director Lisa D’Apolito

Director Lisa D’Apolita takes us back to a time before there was Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street, to the world of  Shari Lewis and her lovable cast of puppets, including Hush Puppy, Charlie Horse, and the most beloved puppet of all time, Lamb Chop. In 1960, while still in her early 20s, NBC gave Shari her first national network show, The Shari Lewis Show, replacing The Howdy Doody Show. Lewis quickly became a pioneer in television and changed the face of children’s entertainment. She created a playful, non-judgmental world for children and adults alike, inviting us not just to ‘be ourselves,’ but to be the best version of ourselves we can be. She used her puppets as  her voice – to say the things that women couldn’t say in mid-century America and to take control over her personal story. Over five decades, she was able to straddle two very different worlds as a performer, conquering both children’s and more mature entertainment; from her Saturday morning program to her late-night talk show performances and Las Vegas club act. Lewis also won dozens of awards – including 13 Emmys and a Peabody – published 60 children’s books, and finally found a way to achieve her dreams as a performer and managed to stay relevant with her age defying comeback in her 60’s, endearing her to a new generation with Lamb Chop’s Play-A-Long. Shari used her renewed popularity to reinforce her commitment to children’s education. Director Lisa D’Apolito stops to talk about why she believes that Shari Lewis remains so under appreciated, delves into the unique psychology that exists between performer and puppet, and the peculiar world of ventriloquism and magic and how Shari and Lamb Chop became one of the most unique and enduring “comedy teams” in American culture.

 

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For more go to: shariandlambchopdoc.com

About the filmmaker – Lisa D’Apolito is an Emmy nominated producer and director Lisa’s film documentary, LOVE, GILDA was selected as the opening night film of the Tribeca Film Festival, was distributed theatrically through Magnolia Pictures, had a broadcast premiere on CNN and was nominated for 2 creative Emmy’s. Lisa started as an actress in film, theater and television including a part in GOODFELLAS. She went on to producing and directing in advertising , making her way to SVP/EP of production at FCB and then starting her own production company 3 Faces Films. Lisa was named one of Variety’s 10 Documentarians to Watch in 2018 and SHOOT Magazines New Directors Showcase 2019. Lisa is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Italy.  She is in post production with PYUNERVERSE a documentary on the Cult director Albert Pyun and recently completed Shari Lewis and Lambchop film.

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The Hobby – Director Morgan Jon Fox

A McDonald’s Happy Meal shortage. A security guard escort. Guns pulled in a Target parking lot. All of these are caused by a common factor: trading cards. In 2020, a new BOOM began. For the first time, large hedge funds, celebrities like Logan Paul and Steve Aoki, nostalgic millennials, entrepreneurs like Josh Luber, and billionaires scrambled to add sports, Pokémon, and other hot item cards to their collections and portfolios. Over the next two years, the hobby exploded — even causing card grading services to shut down due to overwhelming customer service. This documentary is a character-driven feel good deep dive into the high-stakes, eccentric world of card collecting, following buyers, sellers, card shop owners, graders, online streamers, auctioneers, and more, who all participate in the hobby in their own unique ways. Directed by Morgan Jon Fox, viewers are brought directly into the highs, lows, big gains, and sometimes devastating  losses of a century-old hobby that anyone can break into, and some can hit the jackpot with. The trading card industry saw a massive boom in 2020, as people began clearing out garages, storage units, closets, and more to find old trading cards – ranging from sports cards to Pokemon, to garbage-pail kids and everything in between. The hobby has now grown into a multi-million dollar industry, with its very own trading index launching to assess the value of the market. Director Morgan Jon Fox stops by to talk about the pure joy of opening a Topps pack with a Pete Rose Rookie card or finding a Pokemon Charizard Base Set, as well as the thrill of meeting people who share your passion for collectibles and memories.

 

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For more go to: morganjonfox.com

Available on TVOD beginning February 16

About the filmmaker – Named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine, Morgan Jon Fox is a Southern director/producer/1st AD from Memphis, TN, based in Chicago, IL. Known for getting strong, authentic performances, and telling gritty regional southern stories, his early micro-budget feature films Blue Citrus Hearts, and OMG/HaHaHa were film festival hits and gained international distribution. His documentary This Is What Love In Action Looks Like gained praise and national attention from CNN, Good Morning America, The New York Times and The Advocate for capturing the true story of a Memphis teen who was forced into a religious based “straight camp” intended to change his sexuality. The doc screened around the world and won the Derek Oyston CHE Film Award at the London LGBT Film Festival. His TV project, FERAL is an 8 Episode show about a close knit group of 20-something LGBT artists living in Memphis, TN. Described as “‘Weekend’ meets ‘Girls’(Huffington Post), His latest project, The One You Never Forget is a multi-award winning short film about teenagers going on their first dance. After screening at over 100 film festivals around the world, it has amassed more than 500K views on Vimeo & Youtube. Morgan has over 15 years of experience as a Producer and Assistant Director, with companies such as A24, HBO, NIKE, VICE, The Lonely Island, MTV, ESPN, FedEx, the Memphis Grizzlies, and Marquee Sports. 

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Perfect Days – Director Wim Wenders & Producer Takuma Takasaki

Set in Tokyo, Director Wim Wenders PERFECT DAYS follows Hirayama (Kōji Yakusho) a toilet cleaner with a highly structured routine. Every morning, he wakes up to the sound of a street cleaner, waters his plants, buys a coffee from the vending machine outside his apartment, and gets into his truck. His workday routine, he travels around Tokyo, cleaning the city’s public toilets. He eats lunch in the same park and takes a photo of the leaves above him while eating. After working more, he goes to the bathhouse, gets dinner at the same restaurant, reads for a bit, and goes to bed. We are joined by the award winning Director and co-scriptwriter Wim Wenders (Paris Texas, Wings of Desire, Buena Vista Social Club) and Producer and co-scriptwriter Takuma Takasaki to talk working with renown actor Kōji Yakusho to create Hirayama, making Tokyo a central character in the story, the cultural importance of the “common good”, and the meaning of the word Komorebi.

 

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For more go to: neonrated.com/films/perfect-days

About the filmmaker – Director, Writer Wim Wenders (born 1945) came to international prominence as one of the pioneers of German Cinema during the 1970’s and is now considered one of the most important figures in contemporary film. In addition to his many prize-winning feature films, his work as a scriptwriter, director, producer, photographer and author also encompasses an abundance of innovative documentary films. His career as a filmmaker began in 1967 when Wenders enrolled at the newly founded University of Television and Film Munich (HFF Munich). Parallel to his studies, he also worked as a film critic for a number of years. Upon graduating from the academy in 1971, he founded, together with fifteen other directors and authors, the Filmverlag der Autoren, a film distribution company for German auteur films, which organized the production, rights administration and distribution of their own independent films. After “The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick” (1971), his first feature length film after his graduation film, “Summer in the City”, Wenders turned to shooting his road movie trilogy, “Alice in the Cities” (1973), “Wrong Move” (1975) and “Kings of the Road (1976), in which his protagonists try to come to terms with their rootlessness in post-war Germany. His international breakthrough came with “The American Friend” (1977), an adaptation of a Patricia Highsmith novel. Since then, Wenders has continued to work both in Europe and the USA as well as in Latin America and Asia and has been honored with countless awards at festivals around the world, including the Golden Lion at the international Film Festival in Venice for “The State of Things” (1982); the Golden Palm at the Cannes Festival and the BAFTA Film Award for “Paris, Texas” (1984); the Director’s Prize in Cannes for “Wings of Desire” (1987); or the Silver Bear for “The Million Dollar Hotel” (2000) at the Berlin International Film Festival. His documentary films “Buena Vista Social Club” (1999), “Pina” (2011), and “The Salt of the Earth” (2014) have all been nominated for an Oscar. In 2015, Wenders received the Honorary Golden Bear for his lifetime achievement at the Berlin International Film Festival. In 2022, he was awarded the Praemium Imperiale, also known as the “Nobel Prize for the Arts”, by the Japan Arts Association. Among other honorary titles and positions, he has been a member of the Akademie der Künste and the European Film Academy in Berlin of which he was the President from 1996 to 2020. He taught as a professor at the University of Fine Arts in Hamburg until 2017. Wim Wenders is a member of the order Pour le Mérite. In 2012, together with his wife Donata, Wim Wenders established the Wim Wenders Stiftung, a non-profit foundation based in his native city of Düsseldorf. The WWS is archiving, restoring and presenting the cinematic, photographic, artistic and literary work of Wim Wenders and makes it permanently accessible to a worldwide public. At the same time, the foundation supports young talents in the field of innovative storytelling, especially through the Wim Wenders Stipendium, a grant awarded together with the Filmund Medienstiftung NRW. wim-wenders.com

About the filmmaker – Producer, Writer Takuma Takasaki is one of Japan’s leading Creative Directors, and he has also been active as a novelist in recent years. He is currently the Growth Officer at Dentsu Inc. In 2002, he won international awards such as Cannes International Advertising Festival, One Show, NY ADC, and Adfest for the Advertising Council Japan commercial. In Japan, he has been named “Creator of the Year” twice. He specializes in story-based commercials as well as building large campaigns. He has created a commercial for a movie distribution service featuring Robert De Niro, and a commercial with Richard Gere have become a big success. He has also written numerous scripts for movies and TV dramas. His novel “Auto-Reverse” is currently being developed for a film adaptation. His picture book “Makuro” was published last year and won an award.

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93% on RottenTomatoes

“At its best, Perfect Days shares the same haunting sense of stillness that characterized Wenders’ best work in films such as The American Friend and Wings of Desire.” – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

“Perfect Days is a poem of extraordinary subtlety and beauty.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox

“There’s a guileless purity to the film, though, and a delicate, contemplative performance from Yakusho.” – Ed Potton, Times (UK)

“[Wenders] strolls in the park while contemplating dreams, the dignity of labor, and the fleeting joys of waking moments.” – Siddhant Adlakha, indieWire

“This is a philosophical contemplation that is very much about something – a meaning-of-life film, no less – with an introverted, immensely likeable central performance from Koji Yakusho.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen International

The Monk and the Gun – Director Pawo Choyning Dorji

In his beguiling second feature film, THE MONK AND THE GUN director, writer and producer Pawo Choyning Dorji captures the wonder and disruption as Bhutan becomes one of the world’s youngest democracies. Known throughout the world for its extraordinary beauty and its emphasis on Gross National Happiness, the remote Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan was the last nation to connect to the internet and television. And if that weren’t enough change, the King announced shortly afterwards that he would cede his power to the people via their vote and a new form of  government: Democracy. An elderly lama (Kelsang Choejey), recognizing that extraordinary change is about to sweep through his country, is troubled by the possible outcomes. He instructs his young disciple Tashi (Tandin Wangchuk) to set forth into the kingdom and bring him two guns before the full moon to “set it right.” The young monk is perplexed by his guru’s request, and his familiarity with guns is based solely on images from the only film available on television: James Bond. His quest brings him into contact with a scheming American gun collector Ron (Harry Einhorn), leading to a most unexpected outcome. Director Pawo Choyning Dorji (Yak in the Classroom) stops by to talk about his award winning, Oscar® shortlisted latest film, his choice to mix non-professional actors with established actors, his inspiration for this gentile satire and once again showcasing his beloved country of Bhutan.

 

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For more go to: roadsideattractions.com/themonkandthegun

About the filmmaker – Director & Writer Pawo Choyning Dorji started his film making career under the guidance of film Director and renowned Buddhist Lama, Khyentse Norbu. Pawo worked as Norbu’s assistant for Norbu’s films Vara: A Blessing (2013) and Hema Hema: Sing me a Song While I Wait (2016). Pawo made his directorial debut in 2019 with Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom. The film was shot in one of the remotest human settlements in the world, so remote that the production relied on solar batteries and local yak herders to be the main cast of the film. The film went on to become a festival favorite, winning numerous awards, before making history by becoming the first ever Bhutanese film to secure an Oscar nomination when it was nominated for Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards. The Monk and the Gun is Pawo’s second feature film as Writer, Director, and Producer. Pawo is the youngest recipient of the Royal Order of Bhutan, The Druk Thuksey (The Heart Son of the Thunder Dragon), an award bestowed upon him by King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck on December 17, 2022. The award recognizes individual for distinguished service to the Bhutanese nation and people. 

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96% on RottenTomatoes

“An unexpectedly suspenseful shaggy dog story, as well as a pretty funny one, with subtly pointed barbs about American politics.” – Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post

“The film pulls off something truly bold: taking what are perhaps the most emotionally and symbolically loaded items in existence and subverting their meaning completely to end on a note of peace, joy, and hope for the future.” – Ross McIndoe, Slant Magazine

“This wholly entertaining film takes perfect pot shots at the divisive nature of American politics…But Dorji is an equal opportunity satirist poking fun at the evils of western influences but also the dangers of unenlightened mob rule.” – Frank J. Avella, Awards Daily

“While the entire film is entertaining, the ending delivers the ultimate payoff that’s both gratifying and apt.” – Sarah Gopaul, Digital Journal

“A droll, shrewdly satirical fable, in which Western values crash against a seemingly intransigent (but potentially more enlightened) South Asian culture.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

Out of Darkness – Director Andrew Cumming

Andrew Cumming’s feature film debut,  OUT OF DARKNESS opens with a small boat reaches the shores of a raw and desolate landscape. A group of six have struggled across the narrow sea to find a new home. They are starving, desperate, and living 45,000 years ago. First they must find shelter, and they strike out across the tundra wastes towards the distant mountains that promise the abundant caves they need to survive. But when night falls, anticipation turns to fear and doubt as they realize they are not alone. Terrifying sounds suggest something monstrous at large in this landscape, something that could kill or steal them away. As relationships in the group fracture, the determination of one young woman reveals the terrible actions taken to survive. OUT OF DARKNESS uses a language called TOLA invented by poet, historian and multi-linguist Dr. Daniel Andersson. TOLA stands for ‘The Origin Language’ and is a mix of Arabic as well as some Basque vocabulary. Director Andrew Cumming (Payback, Cold Feet) stops by to talk about the challenges of making his debut feature film in a stark location, using dialog from a made up language, working with a talented but largely unheralded cast of actors that includes Safia Oakley-Green, Chuku Modu, Arno Lüning and Kit Young and how project has given him the confidence to trust his creative instincts.   

 

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For more go to: outofdarkness.movie

Get Tickets: outofdarkness.movie/tickets

About the filmmaker – ANDREW CUMMING (DIRECTOR) This year Andrew completed his debut feature film OUT OF DARKNESS with Escape Plan Productions (SAINT MAUD). The film will premiere at festivals next year and to cap an eventful 2021, he was recently selected for Screen Daily’s prestigious Stars of Tomorrow. In 2019, he directed the last two episodes of COLD FEET series 9 for ITV and BIG TALK, now streaming on Britbox, and in 2018 directed three episodes of BBC3’s acclaimed thriller CLIQUE (S2). In 2015 he directed KAI, funded by i-D and VICE, which has been viewed over one million times on social media. Andrew’s National Film & Television School graduation film RADIANCE, a supernatural thriller about a young woman with a dangerous condition, was nominated for best film at the BAFTA Scotland New Talent Awards, while his claustrophobic psychological drama BENEATH won Best Student Film at the Courant 3D festival in France. He is represented by Sarah Williams at Independent Talent. 

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91% on RottenTomatoes

“The story and characters are simple, but compelling. If this is the direction where British independent genre cinema is moving towards, we should be very satisfied and excited indeed.” – Maria Lattila, WhyNow (UK)

“It’s a film that oozes primordial atmosphere: the skies are permanently grey and brooding, and the terrain is primarily razor-sharp rocks and boulders, endless wet forests, dank caves where here be monsters. Its visual grandeur is impressive.” – Martyn Conterio, CineVue

“In his debut feature, Cumming shows a real talent for world-building and creating suspense when the danger of uncharted territory can be felt at every turn.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest

“A stunning prehistoric journey into the unknown, highlighting primitive fears and a deadly struggle for survival.” – Molly Henery, The Blogging Banshee

“Gorgeous visuals, luscious soundscapes, and a courageous decision to create an entirely new language, ensure that [the film] stands proudly unique.” – Kat Hughes, THN

“What sets Cumming’s movie apart is how it shows audiences how little it takes to tell a story that holds our attention and makes us think, from the narrative tactics it uses to the old-school cinematic trickery and natural scenery that make it sing.” – Abby Olcese, The Pitch

Housekeeping for Beginners – Director Goran Stolevski

Debuting to rave reviews, filmmaker Goran Stolevski’s HOUSEKEEPING FOR BEGINNERS explores the universal truths of family, encompassing both the bonds we inherit and those we create. Stolevski’s multi-layered focuses on the exploration  of human behavior and the universal truths of family life. Both the ones we are born into and the ones we find for ourselves. Dita (Anamaria Marinca) never wanted to be a mother, but circumstances force her to raise her girlfriend’s two daughters, tiny troublemaker Mia (Dzada Selim) and rebellious teen Vanesa (Mia Mustafi). Toni (Vladimir Tintor) never wanted to be a father. A battle of wills ensues as they continue to butt heads and become an unlikely family that must fight to stay together. Director / Writer / Editor Goran Stolevski (You Won’t Be Alone, Of Any Age) joins us to talk about the challenges that come with a mostly non-professional cast of actors, cultivating the kinetic talent that we see in Samson Selim (Ali), how he wove together multiple, overlapping storylines into the joy that this unconventional family eventually finds in each other.

 

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For more go to: focusfeatures.com/housekeeping-for-beginners

96th Academy Award® Best International Feature Official Selection Northern Macedonia.

About the filmmaker – Goran Stolevski was born and grew up in North Macedonia before migrating to Australia as a teenager. He completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts at the University of Melbourne and a Masters in Film and Television at the Victorian College of the Arts. He won the Ruben Mamoulian Best Director Award at the 2016 Sydney Film Festival with You Deserve Everything, before attending the Berlinale Talent Campus and MIFF Accelerator as well as receiving the $50,000 Lexus Fellowship for his short film My Boy Oleg. His 25 shorts have screened at more than hundred festivals across six continents, including the Clermont-Ferrand, Melbourne, Raindance, Adelaide, London Shorts. He is an alumnus of Screen Australia’s Talent Escalator initiative. He is director of three episodes of the next season of a popular Australian adventure series Nowhere Boys. He has written nine feature scripts and his tenth, You’ll Love Me, has received a development grant from Screen Australia.

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“An untamed, densely detailed drama that crackles with so much feral energy, you practically get a static shock from the screen.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International

“There are many greatly moving moments in the director’s third feature, all connected by a heartfelt understanding of the value of nurturing companionship.” – Rafaela Sales Ross, Little White Lies

“Like an unkempt home that is messy to the visitor’s eye, yet where the owner can find anything in a heartbeat, “Housekeeping for Beginners” is in full control of its disorder.” – Guy Lodge, Variety

“It confirms Stolevski’s standing, established with the witchy thriller You Won’t Be Alone, as a filmmaker of impressive originality, skill and style. Goran Stolevski. Remember that name.” – Stephanie Bunbury, Deadline Hollywood Daily

“For all the apparent chaos, this is a tightly controlled piece of work which fully delivers on the promise of Stolevski’s earlier films.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

Vishniac – Director Laura Bialis

Roman Vishniac was difficult and flamboyant, a shameless self-promoter, bender of the truth and master of reinvention. He was also one of the groundbreaking photographers of the last century – a brilliant artist whose body of work spans decades, continents, and the catastrophic fallout from two world wars. With help from his daughter Mara director Laura Bialis’ brilliant documentary VISHNIAC resets the misconceptions and perceptions of Vishniac into a wholly formed figure in the world of photography, art and science.  Though his pioneering microscopy transformed the nature of science photography, Roman Vishniac perhaps is best known now for his iconic images of Jewish life in Eastern Europe from 1935 through 1938. Few predicted that less than a decade later, these communities would be wiped out, and Vishniac’s photographs would provide the last stunning visual records of an entire world. Now for the first time, his story comes to life as a feature documentary. A retrospective and family saga, VISHNIAC is narrated by Vishniac’s daughter Mara. She grew up in his shadow and sought to break free of his grip, only to eventually come around and embrace his legacy. Director Laura Bialis joins us for a conversation on her personal journey to bring Mara Vishniac into the heart of the project, the stories behind the fateful photographs taken Eastern European Jews, Albert Einstein, and the satisfaction of spotlighting one of the more complex figures in the history of modern photography.

 

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For screenings go to: abramorama.com/vishniac

or For more go to: vishniacfilm.com

About the filmmaker – Laura Bialis is an award-winning filmmaker whose projects have taken her from war-torn villages in Kosovo to concentration camps in Poland to underground shelters in Sderot, Israel, less than a mile from the Gaza Strip. Her film Rock in the Red Zone (2015) is a personal view from the ground in Sderot and an exploration of the lives of musicians creating art under rocket fire attacks. The film premiered at the Haifa International Film Festival and screened in more than 80 cities worldwide. In 2007, Bialis released Refusenik, a critically acclaimed documentary chronicling the thirty-year human rights campaign to free more than 1.5 million Soviet Jews. Bialis spent a decade immersing herself in the story of dissidents inside the Soviet Union and their activist allies in the West. She befriended leaders of the movement, including Anatoly (now Natan) Sharansky; filmed key locations including the notorious Perm 36 gulag where Sharansky was held; and conducted more than 100 interviews, with many participants telling their stories on film for the first time. The film was released in 15 cities in the US and broadcast in Israel. Bialis’ film View From the Bridge: Stories From Kosovo (2008) explored tensions among Serbs, Albanian and Roma (Gypsies) in the ethnically divided town of Mitrovica. The film premiered at the Slamdance International Film Festival and was used by the European Union and NATO in training staff working to rebuild Kosovo. Bialis received a BA in history from Stanford University and an MFA in production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. While at USC, Bialis produced and directed Daybreak Berlin, about German American artist Ilse-Margret Vogel, who was active in Berlin’s underground during World War II. Her next film, Tak For Alt, followed Holocaust survivor turned civil rights activist Judy Meisel through Lithuania as she searched for her father’s grave in an abandoned Jewish cemetery outside the town of Jasvene. The film was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, won the Anti-Defamation League’s Dore Schary Award, was broadcast on PBS, and has been used extensively in American high schools for Holocaust education. 

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“The horror is offscreen yet inescapable…” – Dennis Harvey, 48 Hills

‘Vishniac’ is a perfect marriage of subject and storyteller. Thank goodness Laura Bialis was able to interview Vishniac’s daughter Mara, who passed away in 2018, and accumulate all the background materials that make this film so vividly true” – Leonard Maltin, leonardmaltin.com

“Thanks to this film, books and other museum exhibits in existence, Roman Vishniac’s legacy will live on for years to come.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“Bialis reveals his and his family’s lives behind iconic photographs from her access over three years to the complete Vishniac archive of over 23,000 items. She also well illustrates times and places with other apt archival footage and visual context.” – Nora Lee Mandel, Maven’s Nest

“Bialis has done a masterful job bringing Vishniac’s magic and passions to the big screen, which was her sincerest hope.” – Jeanne Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan

TOTEM – Director Lila Avilés

In the enormously poignant follow-up to her international breakthrough, The Chambermaid, director Lila Avilés nestles in with one family over the course of a single, meaningful day. TOTEM is told largely from the perspective of 7-year-old Sol (the marvelously naturalistic Naíma Sentíes), as her mother (Montserrat Marañón) and extended relatives prepare for the birthday party of the girl’s father, Tona (Mateo Garcia). As the hours wear on, building to an event both anticipated and dreaded, the fragile bonds and unsure future of the family become ever clearer. Avilés confirms her  formidable skill at expressing the subtlest contours of her characters’ inner lives in this emotionally expansive and affecting drama. This emotionally expansive film from Lila Aviles (The Chambermaid) cements her skill at directing dynamic, ensemble performances in her stunning sophomore effort. Director, producer , writer Lila Avilés joins us to talk about casting Naíma Sentíes (Sol) and the rest of this superb troupe of performers, shooting in tight spaces, sound design, and her unbridled love for filmmaking.

 

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For more on how to watch go to: totem.film

Or: janusfilms.com/Totem

Mexico’s – Best International Feature, 2024 Academy Awards®

About the filmmaker – Lila Avilés is a Mexican independent film director, screenwriter and producer. She founded her company, Limerencia Films, in 2018. Her breakthrough debut feature film “The Chambermaid,” 2018, was selected to represent Mexico at the 2020 Oscars© and Goya Awards. The film was invited to more than sixty film festivals around the world, garnering awards and critical acclaim. Avilés has served on many festival juries, including San Sebastian International Film Festival (Spain 2021), Morelia International Film Festival (Mexico 2019), FICUNAM (Mexico 2020), Lima International Film Festival (Peru 2020), Antofacine Festival (Chile 2020), Nespresso Talents 2019 (Festival Morelia 2019), Fic Monterrey 2022.

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96% on RottenTomatoes

“One of the finest movies you’ll see this year.”Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“Exquisite…so achingly assured is Avilés’ grasp of character and narrative, so attuned is her handheld camera to nuances of perspective, setting and atmosphere, that she pulls you into the action with a depth and force of feeling that eludes some of her more veteran peers.”Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times 

“A dazzling, vibrant child’s-eye view of jubilation and tragedy. Exuberantly lovely.”Jessica Kiang, Sight & Sound

“JOYFUL AND DEVASTATING. The dynamism of Ms. Avilés’s observational style — and the delicacy with which she threads moving drama through the quotidian — sidesteps sentimentality for something more bracing, and more true.” – Zachary Barnes, Wall Street Journal

I.S.S. – Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite brings the viewer into the lives of the scientist / astronauts orbiting the planet aboard the International Space Station. Two crews of scientists, American and Russian, conduct research towards the betterment of humanity. Tensions flare in the near future aboard the International Space Station as the astronauts receive orders from the ground that are both horrifying and unfathomable. The cold harshness of space comes into stark reality as thriller and science fiction combine to form an engrossing look at power dynamics and the places they exist regardless of Earth and space. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, working with Nick Shafir’s Blacklist script, brings together a stellar cast that includes Academy Award winner Ariana DeBose, Chris Messina, Pilou Asbaek, John Gallagher Jr., Costa Ronin, and Masha Mashkova, in a high-stakes thriller set entirely in the confines of the I.S.S. as astronauts are called to duty in fateful and terrifying ways.

 

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To watch now: tribecafilm.com/films/i-s-s-2023

About the filmmaker – Gabriela Cowperthwaite has been directing both documentaries and narrative films for over 20 years, rising to prominence with the 2013 release of Blackfish, which examined the plight of orcas and their trainers at SeaWorld. Blackfish quickly became one of the highest grossing documentaries of all time. In addition to being shortlisted for an Academy Award, Blackfish was nominated for a BAFTA, a Broadcast Critics’ Awards, an International Documentary Association Award, and won the Satellite Award for Best Feature. Most recently, Gabriela completed ISS, a space station thriller starring Academy Award winner Arianna DeBose. Her critically acclaimed film Our Friend, starring Casey Affleck, Dakota Johnson, and Jason Segel was released in 2020. Based on a true life story, Our Friend told the story of a couple struggling through a diagnosis alongside their best friend. Megan Leavey, which marked Gabriela’s narrative directorial debut in 2015 is based on the true life story of a Marine corporal (Kate Mara), whose unique bond with her military combat dog saved many lives during their deployment in Iraq. Gabriela’s latest documentary THE GRAB, a geo-political thriller, follows a shadowy world of powerful entities who are grabbing up the world’s food and water while we all look the other way. THE GRAB opened TIFF this year (2022) and is being hailed as the “holy sh*t documentary of the year”.  gabrielacowperthwaite.com

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Makayla’s Voice: A Letter to the World, Director Julio Palacio

In the heartwarming short documentary, Makayla’s Voice: A Letter to the World, we are introduced to a remarkable young girl whose spirit and determination defy all expectations. Makayla, a black teenage girl, has spent her life grappling with a rare form of autism that rendered her essentially nonverbal. However, her parents (father, Grammy-award winning producer Needlz and business owner mother, Mañana), filled with unwavering belief in their daughter’s potential, embarked on a transformative journey to discover the true depth of Makayla’s inner world. Recently, through the help of Roxy Sewell, Makayla’s letterboard therapist, a groundbreaking breakthrough came into their lives in the form of letter board therapy, a method that finally provided Makayla with the means to communicate. As her voice gradually emerges, the audience is invited into a world of wonder, poetry, and brilliance that was once hidden from sight. Through the lens of the documentary, we witness Makayla’s courageous steps as she unveils her thoughts, feelings, and insights. With her newfound ability to express herself, she shines as an inspiring advocate for autism, determined to show the world the power and beauty of neurodiversity.  Makayla’s Voice: A Letter to the World is directed, written and produced by Julio Palacio, who has won several awards for his short form documentaries. The film is also produced by Sam Hanson and Sasha Levinson, editor is Jeff Jay and cinematography is by Brock Hanson.

 

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For more go to: makaylasvoice.com

Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2024 Slamdance Film Festival

About the filmmaker – Julio Palacio is an award winning director passionate about crafting emotions through storytelling. He is proud of his Colombian background and brings that energy and diversity to all of his projects. He focuses on short form documentary and his work has been officially selected at festivals all over the world, such as Vail, Diversity in Cannes, Riom France, AmDocs, and the Oscar qualifying Riif; among many others. His work has also been showcased at Tribeca and Sundance. He has recently directed films for brands such as Google, 3M, Daimler Mercedes, MasterCard, Stanley Black and Decker, National Bank of Australia, and many others. His passion for filmmaking has taken him to work on projects all over the world including countries such as Australia, Germany, Italy, China, EAU, Taiwan, China, India, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Brazil and all over the US. Julio has an eye for real authentic moments as he believes this is what makes documentaries and films special, but he is also a strong believer in the power of beautiful and cinematic visuals.

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The Anne Frank Gift Shop – Director / Writer Mickey Rapkin

When a high-end design firm presents its plans to reimagine the gift shop at The Anne Frank House, the company’s overt appeals to Generation Z sparks a darkly comic debate about collective trauma, the Holocaust and tote  bags. THE ANNE FRANK GIFT SHOP, which stars Ari Graynor and Abbott Elementary’s Chris Perfetti among other notable actors, imagines a meeting between the Anne Frank House and the New York design firm they’ve hired to help them appeal to young people. The idea for the film grew out of a disturbing  study that revealed two-thirds of young Americans couldn’t tell you how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust. Eleven percent of respondents somehow believe Jews “caused” the Holocaust. The film aims to combat that with humor, disarming young people before making its emotional appeal: We have to keep telling this story again and again and again or it will happen again. Journalist turned filmmaker Mickey Rapkin joins us to talk about the thrill of making the Oscar® shortlist for Live-Action Short (in a category with the likes of Almodovar, Wes Anderson and Alfonso Cuaron), how his a dark comedy has suddenly become very timely and striking the right balance of irreverent humor and the jarring reality of Anne Frank’s actual life story.

 

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Watch: The Anne Frank Gift Shop

For more go to: rebooting.com/anne-frank-gift-shop

About the filmmaker – A journalist and creative thinker, Mickey Rapkin, whose first book of nonfiction, PITCH PERFECT, inspired the film franchise about a cappella singing. For the last decade he has contributed compelling feature stories to award-winning magazines while writing captivating content for brands and developing projects for film and TV. He’s currently co-hosting the Forbes interview series, CEREAL ENTREPRENEUR, with Method co-founder Eric Ryan. Rapkin has a feature in development at TriStar inspired by The Chainsmokers’s global hit song PARIS, to be produced by the band’s production company Kick the Habit and Entertainment 360. He previously sold a series to Apple with John Wells and Warner Bros. based on Stephen McCauley’s novel MY EX-LIFE. His original horror feature pitch, KILLER CHOIR, sold to MRC with Scooter Braun’s SB Projects and Entertainment 360 producing. In 2023, he wrote and directed a short film called THE ANNE FRANK GIFT SHOP. Rapkin’s writing on entertainment, lifestyle and travel has appeared in GQ, the New York Times, ELLE, Town & Country, Bon Appetit, Esquire and many others.

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“Featuring darkly funny and ultimately moving turns by a strong cast including Ari Graynor and Chris Perfetti and comedian Mary Beth Barone as a stone-faced Gen Z influencer, ‘The Anne Frank Gift Shop’ provides a poignant meta-commentary on our continually robust Anne Frank discourse.” – Sarah Seltzer, GQ

Lindsay Malin – Manager of Film Granting and Artist Programs for Jewish Story Partners

With support from Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg’s Righteous Persons Foundation and Maimonides Fund, the Jewish Story Partners (JSP) was launched in April 2021. The objective of the Jewish Story Partners is to stimulate and support the highest caliber independent films that expand the Jewish story. Since its inception, JSP has awarded approximately $2.5 million in grants to 85 projects. Today, JSP seeks to provide critical gap in funding for independent films telling Jewish stories, as well as the paucity of and pressing need for films that reflect the full spectrum of Jewish experiences,  cultures, and encounters. In addition to supporting projects financially, Jewish Story Partners offers a continuum of support—providing filmmakers with advisory services at pivotal points in their process. JSP, recently announced its new grantees, with $450,000 distributed among 18 documentary films. In light of the rise of antisemitism, particularly in the aftermath of October 7th, and in response to the persistence of Holocaust denial and the myriad Holocaust stories yet to be told, JSP renews our faith in film as an indispensable tool to build empathy and fight against ignorance and hate. JSP today announced two new funds: the Holocaust Film Fund and the Antisemitism and the Ecosystem of Hate Film Fund. The former provides funding for JSP documentaries about the Holocaust; the latter supports JSP documentaries directly exploring antisemitism as well as those that probe the connections between antisemitism and other group-based hate. The naming opportunity for both funds are currently open. Joining us is Lindsay Malin, the Manager of Film Granting and Artist Programs at JSP for a conversation on the recent announcement of its new grantees, the $450,000 distributed among 18 documentary films, other funding currently open for applications, as well as the past, present and future of Jewish Story Partners.

 

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For more go to: jewishstorypartners.org

The latest slate of JSP grants features a number of powerful documentaries from award-winning filmmakers including Anne Aghion (My Neighbor, My Killer), Dan Habib (Intelligent Lives), Mark Jonathan Harris (The Long Way Home, Into the Arms of Strangers), Rachel Leah Jones (Advocate), Jacob Kornbluth (Inequality for All, Haiku Tunnel), Marlene McCurtis (Women on Death Row), and Bernadette Wegenstein (The Conductor, The Good Breast). See below for a full list. JSP is also launching a new Education-Impact Program. In partnership with distributor Good Docs, JSP is annually underwriting 600+ free screenings of three JSP-funded documentaries at non-profits, schools, and religious institutions. The inaugural cohort of Education-Impact grants went to the support of Ondi Timoner’s Last Flight Home, Tessa Louise Salomé’s The Wild One, and Iris Zaki’s Egypt, A Love Song.

About the subject – Lindsay Malin is the Manager of Film Granting and Artist Programs at Jewish Story Partners. Before moving to Los Angeles, she served as a Program Officer at The Covenant Foundation, a New York City-based organization that supports innovation in Jewish education. Previously, she was the Manager of Membership Initiatives at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, where she curated programs exploring Jewish culture and the history of the Holocaust. Lindsay holds a BA in Jewish Studies from American University and an MA in Holocaust Studies from Royal Holloway, University of London. It is her firm belief that exploring diverse stories through film is vital to securing a better, more empathetic future.

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Four Daughters – Director Kaouther Ben Hania

One of the year’s most acclaimed releases, FOUR DAUGHTERS by Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania uses an audacious formal conceit to tell the story of Olfa Hamrouni and her four daughters. Attempting to answer the question of how and why the Tunisian woman’s two eldest were radicalized, Ben Hania reveals a complex history. We watch as the family relives key events in their lives with help from professional actors standing in for the missing girls. Winner of the Best Documentary award at the Cannes Film Festival, Best Documentary Feature at the Gotham Awards, and Best Writing at the IDA Documentary Awards, FOUR DAUGHTERS is a compelling portrait of five women and a unique and ambitious work of nonfiction cinema that pushes against the conventional boundaries of the documentary form to explore the nature of memory, rebellion, and the ties that bind mothers and daughters. Director Kaouther Ben Hania (Beauty and the Dogs, The Man Who Sold His Skin) joins us for a conversation on what inspired her wildly creative and award winning  documentary on trauma, family, displacement, love and freedom. 

 

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For more go to: kinolorber.com/film/four-daughters

About the filmmaker – Award-winning Tunisian director and Oscar nominee, Kaouther Ben Hania, refined her cinematic prowess in Tunisia and later in Paris at the renowned Femis and la Sorbonne. Her groundbreaking work has consistently been showcased on the global stage. Her poignant “Four Daughters” won l’Oeil d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 2023. “The Man Who Sold His Skin” not only secured an Oscar nomination for Best International Feature but also claimed the best actor prize at the 2020 Venice Film Festival’s Horizons Section. “Beauty and the Dogs” earned the Best Sound Creation Award at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard in 2017. Earlier successes like “Challat of Tunis” marked her debut at Cannes’ ACID section in 2014. Beyond features, her documentaries and shorts, including “Zaineb hates the Snow” and “Wooden Hand”, have won accolades and thrived in international festivals.

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96% on RottenTomatoes

“A revelatory, poignant blend of drama, memory, and self-scrutiny.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“Formally daring, emotionally gripping…a heartbreaker about mothers and daughters, the cruelty of repression and the slippery but revealing nature of performance.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“In telling the story of Olfa and her daughters, Ben Hania is also telling the tumultuous story of Tunisia in the wake of the Arab Spring, a promising movement that began in that country before spreading to the rest of North Africa and the Middle East.” – Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture

“Arab voices in Western cinemas are all too rare, and “Four Daughters” is one of the best films of the year…” – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle

“An enthralling narrative about memory, motherhood and the inherited traumas of a patriarchal society.” – Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter

 “An admirable film. And through it all, Huppert still finds subtle ways to disappear into and elevate the narrative.” – Ethan Vestby, The Film Stage

Apolonia, Apolonia – Director Lea Glob

When Danish filmmaker Lea Glob first met Apolonia Sokol in 2009, she appeared to be leading a storybook life. The talented Apolonia was born in an underground theatre in Paris and grew up in an artist community — the ultimate bohemian life. In her 20s, she studied at the Beaux-Arts de Paris, one of the most prestigious art academies in Europe. Over the years, Lea kept returning to film Apolonia as the latter sought her place in the art world, grappling with the agonies and joys of womanhood, the relationships with others and her own body and creation. The result is a fascinating portrait of the young woman’s trying voyage into the art world. Apolonia is confident in her talent, but her path is not always an easy one to tread. Life is not a storybook, and Apolonia learns that women painters have to make more sacrifices and overcome greater obstacles than their male counterparts. This also applied to the friend she lived with for a long time, Oksana Shachko, one of the founders of the feminist action group Femen. Apolonia’s resilience is put to the test. As time passes and a special bond grows between Apolonia and Lea, we witness a film being born and a painter rising to fame. 13 years on, the two women continue to reflect on each other’s paths in this mesmerizing film about art, love, motherhood, sexuality, representation, and how to succeed in a world dominated by patriarchy, capitalism and war, without losing oneself.  Director Lea Glob (Olmo & the Seagull) joins us for a conversation on how and why her first meeting with Apolonia propelled them both on this complex and meaningful journey, how she navigated the line between director and subject during the 13-year long duration of the project, the impact that Oksana had on Apolonia, and where are Apolonia and Lea today.

 

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For more go to: instagram.com/apolonia_apolonia_film

To watch: mubi.com/apolonia-apolonia

About the filmmaker – Lea Glob graduated as a director from The National Film School of Denmark in 2011 with the short film MEETING MY FATHER- KASPER TOPHAT about the directors’ involuntary journey into a stranger than fiction story of her own origins. Glob co-directed OLMO & THE SEAGULL with Petra Costa in 2014. It premiered at Locarno where it won the Young Jury Prize. It also won the Best Nordic Dox Award at CPH:DOX, Best Documentary at the Rio Film Festival, Best Documentary at the Cairo Film Festival, and Best Narrative at the RiverRun International film festival, among others.  In 2016 Glob co-directed the feature documentary VENUS together with Mette Carla Albrechtsen about sexuality from a female perspective, which became a moment to share thoughts on sexuality and identity, in an attempt to formulate a language and reclaim the female body. The film premiered in IDFA’s First Appearance Competition and won the audience award in IndieLisboa IIFF. All along those years Glob followed the story of Apolonia Sokol, creating a sort of double sided portrait of the artist as a young woman. APOLONIA, APOLONIA is the director’s first documentary feature as a solo-director. 

About the subject – Apolonia Sokol was born in 1988 in Paris, Apolonia Sokol is a French figurative painter of Danish and Polish descent. After graduating from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, she moved to the United States and settled in New York where she worked in Dan Colen’s studio. She later moved to Los Angeles where she befriended other artists and painters with whom she started an ongoing conversation on figurative painting. Sokol is known for her political stance on the art of portraiture, claiming the need to use it as a tool of empowerment and deconstruction of marginalization and domination. That is why she addresses multiple issues such as feminisms, queerness, women’s representation throughout art history and body politics in general. Apolonia Sokol exhibited her work in Copenhagen, Brussels, Paris,Istanbul, Mexico City, Rome, Los Angeles and her work has been included in institutional exhibitions, such as: Tainted Love / Club Edit at the Villa Arson in 2019 (curated by Yann Chevallier), Aux sources des années 1980, at the Musée de l’Abbaye Sainte-Croix, Sables d’Olonne, in 2019 (curated by Amélie Adamo), Mademoiselle at the Crac Occitanie in 2018 (curated by Tara Londi), Tainted Love, inaugural exhibition at the Comfort Moderne in 2017 (curated by Yann Chevalier), Peindre, dit-elle at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dole in 2017 (curated by Julie Crenn). Her recent institutional exhibitions includePossessedcurated by Vincent Honoré at the MOCO Museum and Conversation Piece VII Verso Narragonia (Towards Narragonia) curated by Marcello Smarrelli at the Fondazione Memmo in Rome, Women Painting Women at The Modern, Forth Worth, Texas USA and Women in Arken Museum of Modern Art, Denmark. In 2020, the artist was granted the prestigious Academy of France in Rome, enabling the artist to benefit from a one year residency at the Villa Medici. 

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“layered and substantial” “an impressively idiosyncratic, far-reaching work” – Variety

“an absorbingly intimate portrait of an artist” – Screen Daily

“A multi-layered, intensely personal exploration of what’s at stake in an artistic life.” – The Film Verdict

“delightful and poignant” – Volkskrant

”art and life melt together in a magnificent and hypnotizing portrait” – Politiken

“was utterly transfixed” – Lena Dunham, writer, director, actress, producer

Inshallah A Boy – Director Amjad Al Rasheed

INSHALLAH A BOY is Jordan’s official entry for Best International Feature Film at the 2024 Academy Awards®. It begins with the sudden death of the husband of Nawal, a young Arab woman. The tragedy leaves her and her daughter without rights or property under Islamic law—and at the mercy of male relatives. Both her own brother and brother-in-law at first show sympathy. But soon it’s clear that any whiff of assertion—I paid for half this house; I will keep my job; I will raise my daughter as I see fit—is met with the forces of patriarchy. Amjad Al Rasheed’s gripping, taut debut INSHALLAH A BOY immerses us in the tangled impossibilities for a woman who simply wants to keep her home and protect her daughter, without a husband or male heir to legitimize her. Her acts of resistance (including necessary deception) enmesh multiple players in a complex web of risk and hope – reminiscent of Asghar Farhadi’s masterpiece A SEPARATION – as we root and fear for her at every turn. Director/Co-writer Amjad Al Rasheed stops by to talk about the inspiration for his multi-faceted, finding his lead actor Mouna Hawa to play Nawal and the superb supporting cast as well as the pride tken from the wide recognition the film has received from the Cannes Film Festival and other prestigious film festivals from around the world.

 

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US Premiere Friday, January 12 at Film Forum in NYC

To watch go to: greenwichentertainment.com/inshallah-a-boy

INSHALLAH A BOY is the first film from Jordan ever selected for the Cannes Film Festival, where it took home two prizes. It also played at the 2023 Toronto, BFI London, and Karlovy Vary Film Festivals, among many others. It’s Jordan’s official entry for Best International Feature Film at the 2024 Academy Awards®.

About the filmmaker – Director / Writer Amjad Al Rasheed, born in 1985, is a Jordanian director and writer who holds an MFA in Cinematic Arts, specializing in Directing and Editing. His debut feature film, “Inshallah a Boy,” had its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, as part of the prestigious La Semaine de la Critique. This marked it as the first Jordanian film ever to be selected for the Cannes Film Festival. It further garnered recognition by winning the Gan Foundation Award for Distribution, and is set to be distributed worldwide in 2023/2024. Following its Cannes premiere, “Inshallah A Boy” was also featured in numerous international film festivals, including TIFF, the Busan International Film Festival, the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the BFI London Film Festival, and the AFI Fest, among others. In 2016, Al Rasheed was recognized by “Screen International” as one of five “Arab Stars of Tomorrow,” shining a spotlight on talents from the region. Prior to this, Amjad was invited to participate in the Talent Campus during the 57th Berlinale, after which he directed three short films that received acclaim at multiple Arab and international film festivals.

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“Terrifically tense. Exciting, galvanizing…A gripping social drama about systemic oppression…” – Jessica Kiang, Variety

“The film strongly evokes a flattering comparison to Asghar Farhadi’s Iranian efforts, especially A SEPARATION and THE SALESMAN: a top-to-bottom accounting of a repressive society laden with class antagonism.” – David Katz, Cineuropa

“The acting is superb, and the pacing is remarkable. But most importantly, the look into women’s rights, morality, and normalized societal oppression speaks volumes about its country and the road to freedom.” – Abhishek Sharma, Film Threat

“A sort of soft-faced tyrany abounds – from the manipulations Rifqi uses in a bid to get Nawal to agree to everything, to the acquiescent response of her brother, who though broadly sympathetic is unwilling to fight her corner.” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film

“Al Rasheed presents Nawal’s dilemma as Jobian: we’re asked to wonder if her faith will hold firm as her desperation grows. Thrills come from seeing how close she will walk to the precipice. The pleasure of watching is not in wondering if she’ll overcome, but how.” – Rory O’Connor, The Film Stage

A Storm Foretold, Roger Stone and Die – Director Christoffer Guldbrandsen

Donald Trump’s longtime adviser, Roger Stone maneuvers in and out of Danish filmmaker Christoffer Guldbrandsen’s grasp in this jaw-dropping portrait of a puppet master tangled in his own strings. A STORM FORETOLD – ROGER STONE AND DIE follows the revered right-wing powerbroker, his influential journey back to the era of President Nixon, a legacy inked onto his own back. In a film marked by unparalleled access, Christoffer Guldbrandsen captures the tumultuous final months of the Trump administration, centering on the heart of power and climaxing with the unprecedented storming of Congress. Guldbrandsen finds himself amidst the chaos as Trump supporters converge on Washington, witnessing firsthand Roger Stone’s strategic retreat from his hotel suite as the ‘Stop the Steal’ campaign spirals into a riot. A STORM FORETOLD – ROGER STONE AND DIE unfolds the narrative of a once-established political party metamorphosing into an anti-democratic movement, where impassioned rhetoric evolves into tangible violence. Director Christoffer Guldbrandsen (Stealing Africa) joins us for a conversation on that amazing level of access was able to attain, getting to know the Trump movement from the ultimate insider and how he sees the future of American politics.

 

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For the latest updates go to: astormforetoldfilm.com

For screenings go to: abramorama.com/a-storm-foretold

About the filmmaker – Christoffer Guldbrandsens’ work is inspired by the observational style of the direct cinema movement. He trained as a journalist in Denmark and the United Kingdom, and his work has won the Peabody Award in the US and The Danish Art Council’s Grant. Guldbrandsen penetrates closed and secretive milieus like no other, from where he draws the material for his documentary dramas. His films are characterized by an expressive realism in structure, form, and content. With understated but effective means, he lets the characters, and the dramas unfold before the audience naturally.  His breakthrough film, The Road to Europe (2003), was an observational doc- thriller about the enlargement of the European Union, that created an international stir when it revealed that Germany would never let Turkey into the EU. Russian President Vladimir Putin was also upset by the film, publicly protesting, he had been recorded during a private conversation. Guldbrandsen’s observational film about the rise and fall of the new political party New Alliance, has become a satirical landmark documentary – and an inspiration for the drama hit-series “Borgen.” A mainstay in Guldbrandsen’s films is his ability to turn complicated subject matter into cinema. He highlights the often banal, unassuming actions that reveal essential character traits and emotions of humans in high-tension situations. In a striking visual style and with a sense for sharply drawn characters, Guldbrandsen delivers dramas from the political reality among the winners and losers of power. In addition to his film work, Guldbrandsen has served as CEO for The Why Foundation, Commissioning Editor and Executive Editor for DR – The Danish Broadcasting Corporation.

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“Entertaining, at times jaw-dropping, yet deeply dismaying…” – Jessica Kiang, Variety

“A riveting nonfiction film that “platforms” a controversial figure and then goes on to hang him with his own words” – Stephen Silver, The SS Ben Hecht

“Even more disturbing is how entertaining all this can be, Stone often appearing humorously genial…The film is unsettling in more ways than one.” – Laura Clifford, Reeling Reviews

“Provocative, enraging, timely and illuminating.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru

Man on the Run – Director Cassius Michael Kim

MAN ON THE RUN follows the enigmatic Low Taek Jho—known to most as Jho Low–a mysterious businessman and playboy. Working with former Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, Low orchestrated a scheme to exploit 1MDB, a sovereign wealth fund established in 2009 with the noble purpose of benefiting the people of Malaysia. In 2015, the intrepid journalist Clare Rewcastle-Brown receives leaked financial documents, setting off a global investigation that uncovers a staggering amount of money being funneled into international bank accounts to fuel Low’s extravagant lifestyle. He now faces charges of money laundering and a slew of other offenses related to the multibillion-dollar scandal and is wanted by international authorities. Through director Cassius Michael Kim’s unprecedented access to key individuals involved on both sides of the story, and gripping first-person accounts, Man On The Run exposes a complex web of greed, corruption and betrayal that shook an entire nation’s financial stability. Currently jailed former Prime Minister Najib Razak, 1MDB whistleblower Xavier André Justo, and journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown who broke the story, are featured in the film. Kim’s meticulous investigation lays bare the extensive repercussions of one of the most colossal financial scandals in history. Jho Low is currently on the run and believed to be hiding in China. Director Cassius Michael Kim (Stockton on My Mind) stops by to talk about the remarkable access he had in the making of this scathing expose on the way dirty money warps the world and how the world’s banking system for adjudicating financial crimes is a broken fraud of an institution.

 

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For more go to: thesmokingsection.us/Information

netflix.com/search/Manontherun

About the filmmaker – Cassius Michael Kim is a director, producer, and writer who helped create the CNN Original Series, The Wonder List with Bill Weir. He was the senior producer on the documentary program over its first three seasons, directing and producing half of the show’s twenty documentary hours from locations as diverse as Vanuatu, Madagascar, and Egypt. Prior to joining CNN, Cassius worked at ABC News. He began his career at the independent film production company This is that. Most recently, Kim produced and filmed Stockton On My Mind, in collaboration with Marc Levin’s Blowback Productions and HBO Documentary Films, about Mayor Michael Tubbs Jr. and the city of Stockton, CA. Stockton On My Mind was an official selection at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and the 2020 AFI DOCS Festival and was nominated in the category of Outstanding Current Affairs Documentary for the 2021 News & Documentary Emmy® Awards.

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90% on RottenTomatoes

“An unbelievably spectacular documentary.” – Wade Major, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

“If you don’t know anything about it, this film offers an exemplary walkthrough of the facts…” – Leslie Felperin, Guardian

“A fine documentary treatment of a wild, true-life story.” – Stephen Silver, The SS Ben Hecht

“It could almost make for a true crime miniseries because it’s so tautly constructed and informative.” – Claudia Puig, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

“[A] deft documentary…” – Ellen E Jones, Observer (UK)

DANIEL – Producer Erin Northcott

When Daniel Northcott got a hold of his father’s video camera at the age of seven, a lifetime of documenting the world around him began. Growing up, he focused his lens on his family and close friends, and as a young man, he recorded precious moments with the people and places he encountered on his travels, striving to live a life of love and seek out universal human connection. The deeply personal and poignant HBO documentary feature DANIEL chronicles his mission to pursue an epic adventure, Daniel visits war zones to sacred sites, including a Mayan burial ground in a cave in Mexico. He would often take a keepsake from each location as a reminder of his connection to the earth. But Daniel’s world travels abruptly end when he must return home to Vancouver because of health reasons. While undergoing treatment, he is haunted by the memory of an ancient Mayan curse and goes on a quest to put things back where they belong before he runs out of time. Crafted from over 1,400 hours of vérité-style footage shot in 42 countries across four continents, DANIEL is an unflinching self-portrait of a young man with an insatiable curiosity and a boundless desire to understand the world and his place in it. Daniel’s sister, Erin Northcott joins us for a conversation on her own journey to honor his memory, beginning with her decision to become  the film’s producer and then assembling an award winning team of film veterans to help her turn a mountain of images into a deeply affecting portrait of a man in search of the irreducible essence of what it means to be human.

 

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For more go to: hbo.com/movies/daniel

The HBO Original documentary DANIEL, directed by first-time filmmaker Daniel Northcott, debuts on HBO and is available to stream on Max.

HBO Documentary Films presents DANIEL. Directed by Daniel Northcott; produced by Erin Northcott, Jeff Waxman, Jennifer Madeloff, Dan Walser, Ricky Staub, Adam McKay, Kevin Messick. For HBO: executive producers, Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller; senior producer, Tina Nguyen.

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Fireline – Director Tylor Norwood

Enter the spectacle and drama of a megafire, alongside a firefighting team struggling to save anything they can while protecting each other. FIRELINE takes audiences into the firescape, to feel for the first time what those fighting these blazes face, especially as climate change makes megafires larger and more frequent. It’s an intimate portrait of a system stretched to its breaking point, revealing the friendship, heartbreak, and exhilaration experienced by those who go to war against this elemental force. FIRELINE focuses on three firefighters from the Cal Fire Lassen-Modoc Unit, and their harrowing experience fighting a megafire for 36 emotional hours. The filmmakers also worked with The California Fire Foundation, which provides emotional support to families of fallen firefighters, firefighters and the communities they protect. Director Tylor Norwood (Robin’s Wish, Fireline) joins us for a conversation on the importance of connecting to the people who can open doors for a filmmaker into an otherwise insulated world, and standing a few feet from a roaring inferno while filming the people trying to fight it.

 

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For more go to: gravitasventures.com/fireline-2023

Watch FIRELINE on tv.apple.com/us/fireline

About the filmmaker – Tylor Norwood’s work draws out the human stories and insights hidden in plain sight, both at great companies and in the lives of everyday people. His documentary work (Robin’s Wish, Fireline) has focused on social justice issues and highlighted how people in difficult situations handle adversity. He leads a rotating team of talented creatives to tackle the projects Quotable Pictures invests in.

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Immediate Family – Director Denny Tedesco

Filmmaker Denny Tedesco’s follow up to his excellent documentary WRECKING CREW is the equally entertaining, IMMEDIATE FAMILY. The film tracks the rise and collaborations of a group of legendary studio musicians through the 1970s and onward, chronicling their illustrious partnerships and their formidable record of hit-making. While The Wrecking Crew followed the first wave of studio musicians in the 60s, IMMEDIATE FAMILY reveals the machinery behind the booming era of the singer-songwriter, when the talents of these four musicians were in furious demand. Known for their long, illustrious careers backing up such Hall-of-Fame artists such as James Taylor, Keith Richards, Jackson Browne,  Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Stevie Nicks and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, guitarists Danny Kortchmar and Waddy Wachtel, drummer Russ Kunkel, and bassist Leland Sklar have come together, along with guitarist Steve Postell, to perform their own songs as The IMMEDIATE FAMILY band that can legitimately be called a supergroup. The foundations of their enduring friendship, formed on the road and in studios, is recalled with dynamite clarity —reminisced with fondness through intimate interviews with the guys themselves, as well as the memories of some of rock’s most iconic voices. IMMEDIATE FAMILY is a backstage tour spanning multiple eras of musical history. Director Denny Tedesco (Wrecking Crew) joins us to talk about his joyous and entertaining bookend toWrecking Crew and how he initially resisted any film follow-up until he came to realize that Danny Kortchmar, Waddy Wachtel, Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar, and Steve Postell were in fact today’s worthy successors to his dad and the hit-making musicians he brought to our attention in 2008.

 

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For more go to: immediatefamilyfilm.com

In theaters on December 15

About the filmmaker – Denny Tedesco grew up in Los Angeles. He started as a set decorator on feature films such as “Eating Raoul” and then went on to working on films, commercials and music videos during the MTV Years as a grip. During the 1990s and 2000s, Denny worked as a freelance producer and director and conducted interviews for A&E, TV-Land, and was a producer on Comedy Central’s Pulp Comics. Most notably in 2000, he produced the Academy Awards “opening” staring Billy Crystal and also the award-winning music video for Elton John’s song, “I Want Love” starring Robert Downey Jr. In 1996, Denny set out on the labor of love of all loves. His father, famed session guitarist Tommy Tedesco, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. With a year left in his father’s life, Denny quickly started filming his father and his co-horts and other musicians fondly known as the Wrecking Crew. His latest producing job is currently on the 2nd season of a comedy series, Hanging With Doctor Z, featuring comedian Dana Gould who plays Dr. Z, (character from Planet of the Apes) Dr. Z interviews other comedians; Dave Foley, Bobcat Goldthwait, Patton Oswalt, Steven Webber, Will Forte, Penn Jillett, Maria Bamford, Al Yankovic, Paget Brewster, Jeff Garlin ,Hank Azaria and more. He is now in Pre-Production of his next documentary, “The Salad Oil Swindle”, one of the greatest financial crises in American History. It stars Ron Insana, Warren Buffett and other financial legends of Wall Street.

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“Immediate family is a treat for music fans of all stripes. It’s a privilege to watch these four unsung heroes do what they love so well – and to see them interact with some of the most celebrated singer-songwriters of all time.” – Leonard Maltin, Maltin on Movies

“Denny has told an extraordinary story and done a masterful job od connecting with all the people who were involved. A great achievement. This is a film that as many people as possible should see.” – Chris Bisha, 360 Degree Sound

Elise McCave – Senior Director of Film, Kickstarter

Elise McCave -Elise McCave has been working with documentary filmmakers since 2008. As Kickstarter’s Senior Director of Film since 2016, she’s worked with film organizations and filmmakers worldwide, providing tailored support and mentorship on fundraising and audience-building for projects in development and production. From 2008-2016 she was Deputy Director of Doc Society (formerly BRITDOC) in London and then in New York, primarily overseeing the Good Pitch program. Senior Director of Film for Kickstarter Elise McCave joins us to talk about the projects being supported on the platform, how identifying a target audience is one of the keys to getting crucial financial support and the wide spectrum distribution for a film that increases its chances of success and what the future of filmmaking and the support from Kickstarter may look like.

 

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For more go to: kickstarter.com

For more on film: kickstarter.com/film

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Razing Liberty Square – Director Katja Esson

Academy Award nominated filmmaker Katja Esson’s RAZING LIBERTY SQUARE is a character-driven verité documentary that weaves personal stories in and out of the larger social justice narrative on Climate Gentrification. The stories originate at the intersection of race, climate, and socio-economic gentrification and examines the assumptions regarding who mattersand who doesn’t—and about land and who controls it. As rising seas threaten Miami’s luxurious beachfront, wealthy property owners are pushing inland to higher ground. The historically black neighborhood of Liberty City, which has been ignored by developers and policy-makers alike, for generations is 12 feet above sea level, has now becomes more attractive to the wealthy with each rising tide. At the heart of Liberty City is the Liberty Square housing projects, the first segregated public housing project in the South. New Liberty Square: a $300 million mixed income development. The dramatic changes happening in Miami’s Liberty Square are a looking glass for contemporary issues of wide-scale significance: the affordable housing crisis, the impact of systemic racism and climate gentrification. Miami is experiencing sea level rise before the rest of the country. What is happening in Liberty Square is a prescient story of what is to come, and strategies put to the test here are being closely observed by the rest of the world. Director / Producer Katja Esson (Ferry Tales, Poetry of Resilience) joins us for a conversation on how she came to know about the history and looming fate of Liberty Square, why ringing the bell on relationship between rising sea levels, systemic racism, affordable housing and Climate Gentrification should scare the hell out of every community in here in America and beyond.

 

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For more go to: razinglibertysquare.org/thefilm

Broadcast Premiere January 29, Independent Lens/PBS

The history of Liberty Square – Despite its eclectic mix of cultures, Miami is one of the most racially segregated cities in the United States (remnants of the 6-foot-high ‘race wall’ are still visible today). Liberty Square and the surrounding Liberty City that grew up around it were a cultural hot-spot for famous black entertainers and public figures. Barred from the whites-only beach hotels, where they consistently sold out performances, world-class celebrities like Sammy Davis Jr., Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Lena Horne had to stay in Liberty City hotels like the Hampton House. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the first version of his “I Have a Dream” speech there and Malcolm X threw a victory party for Cassius Clay after he beat Sonny Liston in 1965.

About the filmmaker – Katja Esson  ( Director/Producer ) is an Academy Award-nominated filmmaker based in Miami. She is known for her character-driven documentaries tackling race, class, and gender. Her documentary short Ferry Tales garnered awards at international film festivals, was nominated for an Oscar and premiered on HBO in 2004. Other notable films include: Hole in the Sky – The Scars of 9/11; Skydancer; and Poetry of Resilience (Cinema for Peace Award Nomination). She was awarded the Simons Public Humanities Fellowship at Kansas University and her films have screened at the Museum of Modern Art, American Museum of Natural History, and the Smithsonian.  Her work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Knight Foundation, the Ford Foundation.

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A heartfelt and illuminating documentary.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru

“Mixing racial divisions, political opportunism, climate change, and gentrification all in one package is Katie Esson’s Razing Liberty Square.” – Dennis Harvey, 48 Hills

Radioactive: The Women of Three Mile Island – Director Heidi Hutner

In Director Heidi Hutner’s thrilling feminist documentary, four indomitable women fight back against America’s powerful nuclear industry to expose one of the most consequential and egregious cover-ups in our country’s history. RADIOACTIVE: THE WOMEN OF THREE MILE ISLAND is an award-winning film about the 1979 Three Mile Island meltdown – the worst commercial nuclear accident in U.S. history – and its aftermath. It uncovers the never-before-told stories of four intrepid homemakers, Linda Braasch, Joyce Corradi, Beth Drazba and Paula Kinney, who take their local community’s case against the plant operator all the way to the Supreme Court – and a young female journalist who’s caught in the radioactive crossfire. RADIOACTIVE  features activist and actor Jane Fonda, whose film,The China Syndrome (a fictional account of a nuclear meltdown), opened 12 days before the real disaster in Pennsylvania. RADIOACTIVE also breaks the story of a radical new health study that may finally expose the truth of the meltdown. For over forty years, the nuclear industry has done everything in their power to cover up their criminal actions, claiming, as they always do, “No one was harmed and nothing significant happened.” Director, producer and writer Heidi Hutner joins us for a conversation on the devastation caused by the reactor meltdown, the cover-up, the dogged determination by a small group of extraordinary people to the unvarnished truth, the dire consequences of the lies and malfeasance that occurred on March 28, 1979 and why it matters today and tomorrow.

 

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For more go to: radioactivethefilm.com

Los Angeles Theatrical Run – Friday, Dec 8 – Thursday, Dec 14 at Laemmle’s Royal

STREAMING: RADIOACTIVE will drop on Apple+ and Prime on March 12, 2024.

About the filmmaker – Heidi Hutner,Award-WinningDirector, Writer, and Producer, is an award-winning Professor of Environmental Humanities and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University, and a scholar of nuclear and environmental history, literature, film, and ecofeminism. She is the winner of Sierra Club Long Island’s 2015 Environmentalist of the Year Award. At SBU, Hutner chaired the Sustainability Studies Program for six years and was Associate Dean in the School of Marine, Atmospheric Science. Hutner publishes widely as a writer and journalist on nuclear, environmental, environmental justice, and gender issues. She regularly gives public talks. Her current book project, RADIOACTIVE: Women and Nuclear Disasters, will accompany the documentary and forms the basis of the documentary project. Hutner’s many books, book chapters, and essays have been published by Oxford University Press, University of Virginia Press, Palgrave, Rowman and Littlefield, Broadview, and she has written for the New York Times-Dot EarthMs. MagazinePublic Radio, InternationalLongreadsAEONDAMESpirituality and HealthMom’s Clean Air ForceYes!Tikkun, and more. Hutner produces a popular sustainability web video show in which she interviews Nobel Peace Prize winners, McArthur Genius Fellows, and other luminaries. She recently appeared on the NBC News Think episode, “Clean Water is a Human Right” and gave a Tedx on “Eco-Grief and Ecofeminism.”  Hutner was the associate producer of the off-Broadway climate-change musical,  Endangered. She is in development, with Richard Saperstein, President of Bluestone Pictures (formerly with Miramax and Fine Line) on several documentary and scripted film projects.  RADIOACTIVE: The Women of Three Mile Island is Hutner’s first film. For more go to: HeidiHutner.com.

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“RADIOACTIVE: The Women of Three Mile Island is a compelling and significant documentary in the grand tradition of such trailblazing women filmmakers as Kimberlee Acquaro, Christine Choy, and Barbara Koppel … this is a film that should be rated in supernovas, not stars.” – Edward Moran, Cinema Daily

“A stunning film. It asks the important question: should we or shouldn’t we with nuclear energy? First-time filmmaker Heidi Hutner answers this question with solid research and interviews with scientists, engineers, whistleblowers, physicians, and most importantly with the victims themselves.  RADIOACTIVE is a must-see tour-de-force for anyone who cares about our energy future and our planet.” – Jon Bowermaster, Award-winning National Geographic filmmaker

“A powerful piece and its story needs to be told.” – Benjamin Franz, Film Threat

“The filmmakers have created a powerful and essential film that will resonate deeply with everyone who sees it.” – Dave Chameides, Emmy-Award director & cinematographer

No One Asked You – Director Ruth Leitman

Director Ruth Leitman’s NO ONE ASKED YOU, focuses her camera on the day-to-day health care providers who risk their own safety in service to the women seeking an abortion. As well as the powerful political and religious interests seeking to deny them access to a constitutionally guaranteed right by the Roe v. Wade decision. A civil right to privacy that had stood for 50 years, lost after the US Supreme Court’s  Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. With the conservative movement conspiring to take away healthcare and bodily autonomy from all, “Daily Show” co-creator Lizz Winstead brings us on the road with Abortion Access Front and her merry band of activists and comedians, that includes Sarah Silverman. Margaret Cho, Alex English, and Joyelle Johnson, as they crisscross the U.S. to support abortion clinics and providers. An urgent and humorous account of the serious work that this audacious group of activists are doing to battle misogyny and fight for reproductive rights in a divided country. Director Ruth Leitman (Lipstick & Dynomite, Hard Earned) joins us for a conversation on the challenges of filming on the road for nearly six years and getting to know the dedicated doctors, clinic workers and volunteers has given her reasons to be guardedly optimistic about the future of women’s access to the full range of reproductive health care.

 

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For more go to: nooneaskedyoudoc.com

About the filmmaker – Ruth Leitman is an award-winning filmmaker recognized for highlighting social justice issues in feature documentaries over the past 25 years, with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, Paul Robeson Fund, TribeCa Film Institute, Fledgling Fund and Illinois Humanities Council. In 2016 she was named in British Film Institute, Sight and Sound Magazine’s The Female Gaze: 100 Overlooked Films Directed by Women. In 2015, she directed for Kartemquin Films’ Al Jazeera America documentary series Hard Earned, which was nominated for an International Documentary Association Award (2015) and won an Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Journalism Award (2016). Premiering at Tribeca Film Festival and Hot Docs, Lipstick & Dynamite (2005) won the Documentary Storytelling Prize at Nantucket Film Festival; was broadcast on SHOWTIME and featured on Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and NPR’s Fresh Air and Morning Edition. Her immigration film Tony & Janina’s American Wedding (2010) premiered at Chicago International Film Festival won a jury prize as well as several social justice awards. Alma (1998) won the Documentary Feature Jury Prize at Hamptons Film Festival, screened at IDFA, SXSW, Director’s Guild of America and Whitney Biennial. Wildwood, NJ (1994) has enjoyed a second life as a viral film since 2009 and screened at Hot Docs, CHP:DOX and toured theatrically in the UK in 2015. Her early photography work was part of the current major exhibition, Underexposed: 100 years of Women Photographers at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in 2021.  Ruth is developing The Pin-Down Girl, a fiction feature film based on her documentary Lipstick & Dynamite about the pioneers of women’s wrestling. 

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“Humorous and urgent” – IndieWire

“A call to action as much as a profile in courage, No One Asked You inspires, even as it terrifies through its hard luck on where we are today.”– Christopher Reed, Hammer To Nail

Concrete Utopia – Director Um Tae Hwa

This gripping and thought provoking film from Um Tae Hwa, CONCRETE UTOPIA, begins with a massive earthquake that reduces Seoul, Korea to rubble. Everything in the city has collapsed, except for one building. Hwang Gung Apartments remains standing, as it was before that day. When survivors from the outside hear of this, they begin to gather at Hwang Gung Apartments. However, the original residents of the building start to feel threatened. Banding together for the sake of their survival, they elect ‘Young-tak’ as their Resident Delegate. Under his leadership, they strictly ban entry by outsiders and draw up a new set of Resident Regulations. Thanks to this, in contrast to the hellish nightmare outside, Hwang Gung Apartments stands as a safe and peaceful utopia for its residents. But amidst the continual threats to their survival, unexpected conflicts begin to arise among them… Director Um Tae Hwa (Ingtoogi: The Battle of the Internet Trolls) joins us to talk about the orgin story for the film, how shaping the characters vastly different perspective is critical to the success of the film and the outstanding cast of actors who bring strong-willed resolve to this complex story.

 

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For more go to: concrete-utopia-film.com

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South Korea Official Oscar Entry – Best International Feature

About the filmmaker – After his critically acclaimed movie Ingtoogi: The Battle of Internet Trolls, which is renowned for its unique and distinctive setting and energy, director UM Tae-hwa, who received the Best New Director award at the 54th Grand Bell Awards for Vanishing Time: A Boy Who Returned, returns after seven years with his new movie Concrete Utopia. In this enthralling disaster drama, UM Tae-hwa skillfully portrays a diverse range of characters while successfully presenting an original yet realistic story. Poised to tighten its grip on audiences this summer, Concrete Utopia will entrance audiences with its dynamic ensemble of characters, unpredictable turns of the plot, and visual pleasures.

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“A fractious, blood-soaked drama about the will to survive that feels like Earthquake crossed with Lord of the Flies.”Variety

“A rare find… An impressive epic.” – Next Best Picture

““Concrete Utopia” is a gripping, disturbing, and powerful representation of the worst of society, yet equally showcasing the best qualities in humans and how hope, community, and decency will always exist through the dust and devastation.” – Anna Miller, Next Best Picture

“A film that’s intense and powerful, but without ever losing its propulsive entertainment value. We consider our own morality as the characters shatter or solidify theirs, and in the end, you just want to spend more time in this world.” – Germain Lussier, io9.com

“Disturbingly and crushingly human.” – The Huffington Post

“An entertaining film that could follow in the wake of Parasite and Squid Game.”Screen Daily

Great Photo, Lovely Life – Co-director Amanda Mustard & Rachel Beth Anderson

In this riveting and disturbing documentary GREAT PHOTO, LOVELY LIFE, Photojournalist Amanda Mustard directorial debut, alongside co-director and cinematographer Rachel Beth Anderson, (First to Fall, Unschooled) returns home to Pennsylvania to investigate the sexual abuse crimes committed by her grandfather. A visual whirlwind of memories from her family’s archive unravels a world of secrets through interviews, photographs, and home movies. A cinematic journey eight years in the making, GREAT PHOTO, LOVELY LIFE, chronicles a granddaughter’s attempt to disrupt a cycle of intergenerational trauma through the voices of the survivors and her grandfather himself. Secrets kept close and snapshots of joy plague almost every family. This is a film about having the courage to take the steps we must take and have the conversations we must have to disrupt the cycle of intergenerational trauma. GREAT PHOTO, LOVELY LIFE is dedicated to those carrying secrets they shouldn’t have to keep and is a validation for all of the people who are suffering in silence. Amanda Mustard directorial debut alongside co-director and cinematographer Rachel Beth Anderson (First to Fall, Unschooled) join us for a conversation on Amanda’s decision to undertake this deeply personal project knowing the potential of fracturing family ties and how the  collaboration with Rachel came about and their determination in pursuit of the truth and how to insure that everyone who wanted to participate would feel unfettered. 

 

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For more go to: greatphotolovelylife.com

HBO documentary GREAT PHOTO, LOVELY LIFE follows Photojournalist, Amanda Mustard, as she investigates her own family on a quest to uncover the truth. GREAT PHOTO, LOVELY LIFE debuts on HBO December 5th. 

About the filmmaker – Amanda Mustard is an independent photojournalist and filmmaker based between Brooklyn and Bangkok. She is currently accepting assignments and project collaborations worldwide. Mustard has contributed work to clients such as Associated Press, New York Times, Outside Magazine, Monocle, National Geographic PROOF, Le Monde, Al Jazeera, WIRED, Bloomberg, The Smithsonian, Ritz Carlton, Chrysler, Facebook, Colgate, GAVI, amongst others. She is a contributor for Redux Pictures. Mustard is an advocate for the protection and sustainability of the freelance community and gender equality in the media industry. She serves as an advisor for the Photography Ethics Center. Previously, she was a board member and exhibition curator of the Foreign Correspondents Club in Thailand, served four years on the Frontline Freelance Register board, and was a member of the Makeshift Magazine editorial board, an independent quarterly magazine about grassroots innovation around the globe. Her directorial debut, feature-length documentary Great Photo, Lovely Life, premiered at SXSW in March 2023 and will air on HBO December 5, 2023. amandamustard.com

About the filmmaker – Rachel Beth Anderson, a Sundance award winning cinematographer, began her career filming in conflict zones across North Africa and the Middle East. Anderson was on the ground in Egypt during the 2011 uprising for the investigative documentary series PBS Frontline, and has worked on over twenty acclaimed films for the series. Anderson’s focus on the Middle East extended to her shooting award winning independent documentaries E-TEAM, THEO WHO LIVED and her directorial debut, FIRST TO FALL. Broadcast on BBC’s Storyville Global, FIRST TO FALL was born of an 8-month journey spanning the 2011 Libyan war. Screening at festivals worldwide, after premiering at IDFA, the film garnered international praise – among the accolades the film won two grand jury awards at the investigative journalism festival FIGRA in France, the Grand Prix Jury Award at IRFF in Poland, and was featured at the Bayeux-Calvados Award for War Correspondents. Originally from North Dakota, Anderson graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Journalism school, producing a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award winning documentary BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS. Prior to graduating she participated in a Fulbright sponsored journalism program based in Cairo, Egypt focusing on international reporting and conversational Arabic – which led Anderson to officially relocate to Cairo in 2010.Currently Anderson is now based in Brooklyn, NY – where she has continued to collaborate on PBS Frontline docs while directing / filming multiple indie feature films. In the fall of 2019 her second feature, UNSCHOOLED, premiered at DOC NYC and was awarded the Prix D’or – Best of Fest at the Lower East Side Film Festival. UNSCHOOLED, is a character driven film focused on the racial and class disparity of education through a lens of alternative school choices, based in Philadelphia, PA.Anderson recently wrapped production as a Director/DOP on the HBO feature documentary, GREAT PHOTO, LOVELY LIFE. The film is a verite doc following a photojournalist as she turns her lens on the decades of sexual abuse her family and community experienced at the hands of her grandfather in an unflinching portrait of intergenerational trauma, family secrets, and redemption.  rachelbethanderson.com

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“A gut-wrenching saga about illuminating the darkest corners of private lives, and about the difficulty—and perhaps unjustness—of genuine Christian forgiveness.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

“The beauty of the film is that it doesn’t ask you to judge Debi or her mother, so much as to reckon with their complicity, which is fraught and messy and infuriating and tragic all at once.” – Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune