Since 1935 the American Legion has sponsored a program for teenagers to learn about democracy and civil discourse through a week-long engagement in self-governance. The sensational winner of the Grand Jury Prize for documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Boys State” is a wildly entertaining and continually revealing immersion into a week-long annual program in which a thousand Texas high school seniors gather for an elaborate mock exercise: building their own state government. Filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine closely track the escalating tensions that arise within a particularly riveting gubernatorial race, training their cameras on unforgettable teenagers like Ben,a Reagan-loving arch-conservative who brims with confidence despite personal setbacks, and Steven, a progressive-minded child of Mexican immigrants who stands by his convictions amidst the sea of red. In the process, they have created a complex portrait of contemporary American masculinity, as well as a microcosm of our often dispiriting national political divisions that nevertheless manages to plant seeds of hope. Co-directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss joins us for a conversation on chronicling the rough and tumble world of 1,000 aspiring politicians and how some of them shattered expectations,emerging as the potential leaders for a more harmonious future.
“The punchiest doc of the year focuses on an annual leadership conference in which teen boys prove they can run a government better than the old farts doing it now. This wake-up call promises a change in the air. And it’s exhilarating.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“Some of these boys are already as hard-faced and cynical as velociraptors. Some are gentle and sweet natured. Some are even shown changing their minds. It’s an amazing spectacle.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
“This extraordinary portrait of a democratic process in microcosm is both a testament to how Washington, D.C. and the rest of the country could achieve bipartisanship as well as a look at what has led to such a fractured political system.” – Jordan Raup, The Film Stage
“There are so many laughs, and so many telling and relatable moments, and so many fascinating, colorful characters here, Boys State is utterly mesmerizing.” – Tasha Robinson, Polygon
YUSUF HAWKINS: STORM OVER BROOKLYN, directed by Muta’Ali Muhammad (“Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee”) and debuting on HBO Wednesday, August 12 tells the story of Yusuf Hawkins, a black teenager who was murdered in 1989 by a group of young white men in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Yusuf Hawkins’ death and the official response to it sparked outrage in New York, unleashing a torrent of racial tension and spurring tireless civil rights activism that exposed deep racial prejudices and inequities which continue to plague the country today. Over 30 years later, New Yorkers, including Yusuf’s family and friends, reflect on the tragedy and the subsequent fight for justice that inspired and divided New York City. YUSUF HAWKINS: STORM OVER BROOKLYN utilizes archival footage and photos, witness statements, news footage, in addition to candid interviews with Yusuf’s mother, Diane; brothers, Freddy and Amir; cousins, Darlene and Felicia Brown; and friend Christopher Graham and the two friends with him during the attack, Luther Sylvester and Bensonhurst native Russell Gibbons. A harrowing account of an immutable part of the city’s history, and of a family coping with profound grief deepened by injustice,YUSUF HAWKINS: STORM OVER BROOKLYNdetails how the senseless murder that shook the foundation of the city shed light on deep racial divisions and inequity. Yusuf’s death and the demands of his family and community had political ramifications that contributed to the ousting of New York Mayor Ed Koch in favor of David Dinkins, the city’s first and only black Mayor. Director Muta’Ali Muhammad joins us to talk about how the murder of Yusuf Hawkins pulled back the curtain on the racism, both past a present can rear its head anywhere in America, even in a city thought to be a bastion of racial tolerance.
About the filmmaker: Muta’Ali is an award-winning film director from Westchester County, NY. His latest feature documentary “Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn” airs on HBO this August 12th at 9PM. His past documentary films include the award-winning “Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee”, which featured notable guests including Harry Belafonte, Alan Alda, and Spike Lee. Muta’Ali is determined that his artistic body of work be wholly focussed on what he calls “Love, Art & Activism”. For more on Muta’ Ali go to:mutaali.com
“Muta’Ali Muhammad’s documentary focuses on a pivotal time in New York City’s history and includes an impressive set of interviews with many of those connected to the event, its consequences and Hawkins’ legacy.” – Dwight Brown, National Newspaper Publishing Association
The rePRO Film Festival begins its inaugural run this August 12-16. The virtual film festival is dedicated to exploring women’s reproductive healthcare, awareness, advocacy and bodily integrity in America. The lineup of films includes documentaries and narratives dealing with women’s rights, endometriosis, illegal sterilization, access to abortion, and reproductive justice for women of color, among other topics. rePRO Film Festival, will host five days of features, short films and themed-conversations focused on a range of topics including healthcare access, fertility, pregnancy, sexual education, abortion, and issues related to the gender spectrum. In-festival moderated conversations will include call-to-action messaging on how people can get involved in a corresponding initiative or topic. The conversations, designed to spotlight the creators who dare to tell stories about women’s reproductive rights, and to showcase courageous advocators, will be available online for free globally. All feature films playing the rePRO Film Festival are directed by women, and all filmmakers, including shorts filmmakers, are being paid to screen their films. The pay-what-you-can film ticket proceeds for films at the festival will be converted to donations to be split evenly among five beneficiary non-profit organizations – SisterSong, Endometriosis Foundation of America, Center for Reproductive Rights, URGE and Trust Women.Tickets are on sale online at repromamafilm.org. Tickets are all pay-what-you-can ($5, $10 or $15) with a limited number of complimentary vouchers available upon request to ensure access for all. rePro Film Festival and festival sponsor mama.film founders Lela Meadow-Conner, Mallory Martin and Debby Samples join us to talk about the launch of their deep dive into the issues, challenges and stories that face 49% of the world’s population and the people who love them.
About MAMA.FILM – Through the power of cinema, mama.film (link), a 501c(3) non-profit organization, unites nurturers of all kinds to ignite conversation and to reflect upon our shared human experience. Founded in 2019, in a pop-up microcinema in a shipping container in Wichita, Kansas, mama.film has since been awarded expanded programming to Cleveland, and to a virtual platform. Film selections include stories and topics that amplify and explore the evolving realities of the human condition and that spark dialogue and reflection. mamafilm is committed to representing the realities and complexities of a diverse range of nurturers, across race, class, geography, sexual preference, ability and generation.An emphasis is placed on independent and foreign films that are grounded in authentic storytelling. mamafilm is committed to supporting the work of creators who are nurturers and caregivers. Initial support for rePRO by mama.film was generously provided by a grant from the George R. Tiller, M.D., Memorial Fund for the Advancement of Women’s Health at the Wichita Community Foundation. Follow @mamafilm1 on Instagram or Twitter for updates, or follow rePRO by mama.film on Facebook for more updates.
Award-wining filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz’s latest documentary, A THOUSAND CUTS, is a blistering indictment of a free press and democracy are under attack in the Philippines. In the face of journalist Maria Ressa and founder of the on-line news site Rappler is holding the line and fighting back against President Rodrigo Duterte’s escalating threats of assignation and death. Duterte smear tactics and threats against Ressa (discredit journalists/media, spread misinformation, attacks on social media) are similar to what other authoritarian leaders are now using against the press. Duterte’s war on truth and journalism has become a blueprint for other authoritarian regimes around the world. A THOUSAND CUTS spotlights Ressa’s fight for justice in the country is ongoing as she was found guilty of cyber libel last month in a blatant attempt to silence one of the most outspoken critics of the Philippine President. The alarming result is not only an attack on Democracy in the Philippines, but also a warning shot to the rest of the world. Ressa’s lawyer Amal Clooney (also featured in the film) recently penned this Op-Ed last month underscoring the implications of this trial. Director, Producer, Writer and Co-editor Ramona S. Diaz (Motherland, Imelda) joins us to talk about the suffocating pressure being brought to bear on journalists, her admiration for those who remain committed to a free press and the hope she has for her beloved homeland.
Produced by Concordia Studio and Motto Pictures, A THOUSAND CUTS will release nationwide in virtual cinemas on August 7th via PBS Distribution / Frontline PBS.
About the filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz is an award-winning Asian American filmmaker whose films have screened at Sundance, the Berlinale, Tribeca, the Viennale, IDFA, and many other top-tier film festivals. All of Ramona’s feature-length films—Imelda (2004), The Learning (2011), Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey (2012) and, Motherland (2017)—have been broadcast on PBS, on either the POV or Independent Lens series. Motherland won an award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and had its international premiere at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival. It was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for best Documentary, a Peabody Award, and a Gaward Urian Award from the Filipino Film Critics. She has received funding from ITVS, Sundance, CAAM, Tribeca, Catapult Film Fund, Chicken & Egg, MacArthur Foundation, the IDA, Cinereach and Creative Capital, among others. For the past four years, Ramona has been a film envoy for the American Film Showcase, a joint program of the U.S. Department of State and the USC School of Cinematic Arts that brings American films to audiences worldwide. She has conducted master classes and production workshops all over the world. Ramona was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and was inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) in 2016, and in 2017 received a Women at Sundance Fellowship and a Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Filmmaker Award. She is a current recipient of a United States Artist Fellowship. Ramona is a graduate of Emerson College and holds an MA from Stanford University.
“[This] engrossing, galvanizing film feels more like a political thriller than an off-the-cuff investigation into embattled journalism in the Philippines, but Ressa’s seemingly boundless energy, good humor, and intelligence make her basically a power plant for the manufacture of inspiration in embattled times.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety
“A Thousand Cuts provides an expansive, revealing look at the current Filipino political situation, and it doesn’t feel like it’s warning viewers about what will happen in America, so much as telling us what’s coming next.”- Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
It is one of the most iconic images of our time: two African-American medal winners at the 1968 Olympics standing in silent protest with heads bowed and fists raised as “The Star Spangled Banner” is played. Fifty years later, that singular event remains deeply inspiring, controversial and even misunderstood as one of the most overtly political statement in the annals of sport. The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World is a revealing exploration into the circumstances that led runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos to that historic moment at the Mexico City Games, mining the great personal risks they took and the subsequent fallout they endured. Through intimate interviews with the participants and witnesses involved in that moment, along with compelling images and archive, the film explores the 1968 Olympics human rights stand in the context of a critically important and volatile time for the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. While The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World documents this lasting moment in American history, The Stand also remains faithful to what was, for athletes and millions of Olympic fans around the world, a riveting 200-meter footrace between the fastest runners of the day, young people in their athletic prime striving to be the best on one October day in Mexico City. The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World also features high jumper Ralph Boston, sprinter Mel Pender, crew member Paul Hoffman, silver medalist Peter Norman and Professor Harry Edwards. Filmmakers Tom Ratcliffe and Becky Paige (Bannister: Everest on the Track) join us to talk about the story behind a legendary act that echoes to this day.
SPINSTER drops us into the life of Gaby (Chelsea Peretti). Gaby wants desperately to find real love. Recently dumped and on the brink of forty, she feels she doesn’t matter to anyone. Her best friend is pre-occupied with her kids, her family doesn’t get her, and running her own catering business, mostly weddings, serves as a constant reminder of the love that has eluded her. Gaby’s greatest fear, that she’ll end up a lonely and pathetic spinster, seems to be her destiny. After a frenzy of dating leaves her exhausted and demoralized, she admits she might never find love and must create a Plan B. Gaby begins to build a meaningful and connected life. But when a chance romantic encounter with Mr. Right threatens to uproot her, she realizes the value of her life, even if it doesn’t involve romance. Written by Jennifer Deyell and anchored by a beautifully nuanced performance from Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), SPINSTER Director Andrea Dorfman joins us to talk about her witty, beguiling comedy about being honest with oneself and embracing life.
SPINSTER will released August 7 through Vertical Entertainment on VOD and Digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Fandango Now and all major cable/satellite platforms.
About the filmmaker: Andrea Dorfman is a filmmaker, animator and artist. She directed the feature films Parsley Days (2000), a TIFF top ten film, the critically acclaimed Love That Boy (2003) featuring a young Ellen Page, the musical drama, Heartbeat (2014), and the soon-to-be released comedy, Spinster, starring Chelsea Peretti. The short film, There’s A Flower in my Pedal (2005), was runner up to Best Short at TIFF and her documentary, Sluts (2006), won Best Documentary at the Atlantic Film Festival. Dorfman also made several animated films including two with the National Film Board of Canada – the Emmy nominated, Flawed (2010) and Big Mouth (2012). She recently shot and directed the feature doc, also produced by the NFB, The Girls of Meru (2018) and it’s currently screening at film festivals around the world. Her short live action-animation video collaboration with poet-musician, Tanya Davis, How to Be Alone (2010), has garnered over 8 million YouTube hits and was adapted to a book, illustrated by Dorfman and published by HarperCollins. She also adapted and illustrated Flawed, released as a YA graphic memoir by Firefly Canada in 2018. Dorfman occasionally teaches at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and was the co-creator of Blowhard, a thematic storytelling series that ran for 7 years in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The 2008 financial crisis seemed to hit the American landscape out of nowhere.But in reality, it was both the inevitable conclusion to 40 years of Wall Street misconduct, and a warning for the meltdown that threatens to engulf us now. In the gripping original five-part docu-series THE CON, filmmaker Patrick Lovell investigates what happened, beginning with personal stories — including the foreclosure of his own Utah home, and the suicide of a 91-year-old African American widow in Akron, Ohio — before zooming out to examine the corrupt systems that doomed the United States to government funded bailouts that would only perpetuate a predatory system. Lovell also looks back to when the government properly functioned for the people it represented by holding banks accountable during the Great Depression and rescuing the country from the S&L Crisis of the late 1980s. Through interviews with those inside the 2008 crisis — regulators, former officials, foreclosure victims, industry whistleblowers, and journalists — Lovell and writer-director Eric Vaughan connect the dots to what America used to be, and most crucially, where we’re going in 2020, as nearly 40 million Americans are claiming unemployment by summer 2020. Amongst the many heartbreaks and horrors of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cracks that it exposed in the fragile financial tapestry of the world’s biggest economy are more evidence that THE CON is still on. Producer Patrick Lovell joins us to talk about THE CON’s sweeping inquiry into the blatant criminality perpetrated by the country’s most powerful financial and real estate interests colluding to bilk millions of Americans out of trillions of dollars, robbing them of their most important assets, pensions and housing.
From the team that directed the jaw-dropping, award winning documentary on the life and mayoral campaign of former congressman Anthony Wiener (Weiner)comes THE FIGHT. Only days after the 2017 inauguration of Donald Trump, furious Americans gathered at airports across the country in protest of the Muslim ban. But it was the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union, waging the fight in federal court, that turned the tide, staying the executive order on grounds of unconstitutionality. The ACLU has never granted access to its offices, even as its battles—on the fronts of abortion rights, immigration rights, LGBT rights and voting rights —have become more timely and momentous than ever. Rousing, inspiring and slyly humorous, their THE FIGHT follows four seismically important cases and a handful of magnetic attorneys. These lawyers may not know how to charge a cell phone or operate a stand-up desk but have persuaded Supreme Court Justices, beating back serious encroachments upon our freedoms. An antidote to endless news cycles filled with tweet tantrums, THE FIGHT inspires with the story of front-line warriors in the battle for the American soul. Co-director Eli Despres (Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman) joins us to talk about this entertaining, fast-paced, and highly engaging peek behind the curtain of the self-effacing attorneys and their support team as they scramble to maintain and bolster many of the most substantive constitutional protections under constant assault.
Director Matias Mariani’s lyrical new film, SHINE YOUR EYES tells the story of Amadi (OC Ukeje), a musician from Lagos who travels to São Paulo to track down his missing older brother Ikenna (Chukwudi Iwuji) and bring him back home to Nigeria. Following the faint traces of Ikenna’s footsteps, he discovers that his brother was not the distinguished math professor he was supposed to be, but actually had contrived an intricate and nearly delusional series of schemes to accumulate wealth in Brazil. As the mysteries deepen, so too does Amadi’s attraction to this vibrant newfound culture—and to his brother’s Brazilian ex-lover, Emilia (Indira Nascimento). As he closes in on his sibling’s whereabouts, Amadi is faced with choosing between his faithfulness to his family and the possibility of a new life in São Paulo. Director, Producer and Co-screenwriter Matias Mariani joins us to talk about his brilliant, thoughtful mediation on family, culture, identity and self-discovery.
Director’s Statement: Throughout my life the question of identity has always been very important to me. As a kid I moved around a lot within Brazil and abroad, and I always wondered what part of me was I able to bring to each new city and what part I left behind. The idea to reinvent oneself, to shed one’s skin and start anew, has always been a luring fantasy, which I carried with me and that heavily motivated me to write this film. When I was 18, shortly before I started university in New York, I went to West Africa for the first time with my aunt, who used to buy handcrafted wares and fabrics there to sell back in Brazil. We travelled throughout Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mali, and since then I’ve come back every couple of years, travelling through most of the region. A few years after that, when I moved back to São Paulo I’ve noticed the growing influx of West Africans, particularly Nigerian Igbos, moving to the downtown area of the city, which has been in a state of decay for several decades at that point. Together with my partner Maíra Bühler, we started frequenting the informal HQ of the Igbos in São Paulo, the Galeria Presidente, first only for fun and then as pro-bono teachers of Portuguese for the recent arrivals. With the contacts we made there, we proceeded to travel to Nigeria (Lagos, Onitsha, Enugu, Owerri) to extend our research, and that’s how Shine Your Eyes was originally born. – Matias Mariani
“[A] heady, enveloping narrative debut from Brazilian docmaker Matias Mariani…” – Guy Lodge, Variety
THE CUBAN tells the story of nineteen-year-old Mina Ayoub, (Ana Golja) a pre-med student who has given up her dream of becoming a singer. Orphaned as a baby in Afghanistan, Mina’s grandfather sent her to Canada at the age of eight to live with a lone aunt, Bano (Shohreh Agdashloo). Mina longs to return to a better time when, as a child, she and her grandfather would sing and play music together. Thanks to Bano, Mina has a part-time job in a long-term care home. It’s there that Mina meets the withdrawn and enigmatic resident Luis (Louis Gossett Jr.). Luis spends his time in a wheelchair in a quiet corner of the room, retreated inside his own mind. Mina brings a record player into his room. Luis reacts, reminisces, dances, reveals his incredible life as a famous musician in Cuba, and talks about the one great love who was left behind. THE CUBAN is a celebration and exploration of the power of music to connect and reset people’s outlook on life. Director, Producer and Co-screenwriter Sergio Navarretta joins us to talk about his warm-hearted tale of people in search of place and end up on a musical journey of love, friendship and the power of imagination.
About the filmmaker: Sergio Navarretta made his directorial debut with LOOKING FOR ANGELINA, a true crime feature that tells the story of one of the most sensational murder cases in North American history. LOOKING FOR ANGELINA won numerous awards, was showcased at festivals around the world, played to sold-out theatres in fifteen Canadian cities, and ranked amongst the top five in box office revenues for Canadian films at the time. Navarretta’s follow-up feature, THE COLOSSAL FAILURE OF THE MODERN RELATIONSHIP, starring Enrico Colantoni (“Just Shoot Me”). Between features, Navarretta has directed a number of award-winning short films, including THE FORTUNE COOKIE, OVER A SMALL CUP OF COFFEE and EN PLEIN AIR, an homage to the Group of Seven. He also worked as a producer, service producer and executive producer under his own company banner, S.N.A.P. Films Inc., as well as for various international clients. He executive produced (for Canada) the sci-fi movie, ANDRON starring Danny Glover and Alec Baldwin. He is an executive producer of the biopic LAMBORGHINI, starring Alec Baldwin and Antonio Banderas, and was a consulting producer on TRADING PAINT, starring John Travolta. Navarretta is proud to have executive produced and overseen all aspects of production and casting for the star-studded animated theatrical feature ARCTIC DOGS, now on Netflix, featuring Jeremy Renner, James Franco, Anjelica Huston, Alec Baldwin, John Cleese and Heidi Klum.
Winner – Audience Favorite Award – Pan African Film Festival 2020
Winner – Special Programmers’ Award – Pan African Film Festival 2020
Winner – Best Cinematography in a Borsos Competition Film– Whistler Film Festival 2019
Runner up – Audience Award – Whistler Film Festival 2019
“The Cuban does not develop everything in its screenplay to complete satisfaction. But what’s there is very good and believable.” – Bobby LePire, Film Threat
“Perhaps sensing that the rest of his story – mostly focusing around the earnest do-goodery of Golja’s aide – falls emotionally flat, Navarretta lavishes attention on his two marquee players, creating tiny moments of poignancy.” – Barry Hertz, Globe and Mail
THE CURRENT OCCUPANT drops us into a mysterious psychiatric ward, where a man named Henry Cameron, with no memory comes to learn that he is the President of the United States and the subject of a diabolical political conspiracy. As the asylum’s soul-crushing forces bear down on him, he fights to preserve his sanity and escape so that he can return to power. THE CURRENT OCCUPANT is part of the Blumhouse anthology, INTO THE DARK, currently airing on HULU with each episode tied to the relevant holiday. The film is loosely tied to 4th of July. The story is a timely, edge-of-your-seat-until-the-very-end thriller that is part SHUTTER ISLAND meets BLACK MIRROR. THE CURRENT OCCUPANT features a number of terrific performances anchored by Barry Watson as “President” Henry Cameron, as well as Sonita Henry, Marvin Jones III, and Lilli Birdsell. Director Julius Ramsay stops by to talk about his creative process and how his background as a film editor informs his eye for filmmaking as well as the cinematic influences that echo throughout this taut thriller.
About the filmmakers: Julius Ramsay is a critically acclaimed film and television director. His latest feature, THE CURRENT OCCUPANT, is a mind-bending, psychedelic horror film about a man trapped in a mysterious psychiatric ward with no memory who comes to believe that he’s the President of the United States and the subject of a diabolical political conspiracy. Produced by Blumhouse as a Hulu Original, it was released on Hulu in July 2020. Julius made his directorial debut with MIDNIGHTERS, a taut psychological thriller centered on a troubled marriage that explodes in an emotional bloodbath over the course of a single night. The film won numerous accolades, including the top prize at the Ravenna Film Festival, and garnered rave reviews at the Los Angeles Film Festival. In 2018, MIDNIGHTERS was distributed by IFC and is currently available on Hulu.Julius spent five years working as an editor and director on THE WALKING DEAD, the highest rated series in the history of cable television. His directorial work for television ranges from the science fiction series KRYPTON for David Goyer’s Phantom Four and Warner Horizon, to the adaptation of the blockbuster franchise THE PURGE for Blumhouse/NBCUniversal. His additional directorial credits include OUTCAST for Cinemax and SCREAM for The Weinstein Co & MTV. Prior to his career as a director, Julius was nominated for three Primetime Emmy awards for his work as an editor on such groundbreaking series as ALIAS and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. For more on the filmmaker: juliusramsay.com
“Owing more than a little to the old Twilight Zone, “The Current Occupant” executes a balancing act with considerable aplomb.” – John Anderson, Wall Street Journal
“While the latest Into The Dark installment is bleak and will crush your hopes, it’ll have you wondering about conspiracies, reality, and what really happens when the institutions that are established to help us actually end up harming us instead.’ – Sarah Musnicky, Nightmarish Conjurings
I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK, a six-part documentary series currently airing on HBO with new episodes premiering on Sunday nights at 10:00 p.m.I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK, is based on the book of the same name and explores writer Michelle McNamara’s investigation into the dark world of a violent predator she dubbed the Golden State Killer. Terrorizing California in the 1970s and ‘80s, the Golden State Killer is responsible for 50 home-invasion rapes and 12 murders. This series gives voice to the survivors and their families, documenting an era when sex crimes were often dismissed or hidden in shame. A timely inquiry into our macabre preoccupation with true crime and a cautionary tale of the dangerous lure of addiction, the series is a riveting meditation on obsession and loss, chronicling the unrelenting path of a mysterious killer and the fierce determination of one woman to bring the case to light. Michelle McNamara lived a quiet life as a writer, mother and wife, preferring to stay on the periphery of the Hollywood world of her comedian husband Patton Oswalt. But every night, as her family slept, she indulged her obsession with unsolved cases. Delving into the world of online chat rooms and crime blogs, she became immersed in the graphic details of the Golden State Killer, (aka EAR, Original Night Stalker),case, along the way connecting with like-minded sleuths, trading facts, photos and leads. I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK co-producer and co-director Elizabeth Wolff joins us to talk about her collaboration with series director Liz Garbus and her team as they pieced together the detective story within the detective story, emerging with a sprawling story of survival, obsession, pathology, community and heart-breaking loss.
The series is directed by Academy Award nominee and Emmy® winning director Liz Garbus (HBO’s “Who Killed Garrett Phillips,” “Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper”) and produced by Story Syndicate. Additional directors on the series include Elizabeth Wolff, Myles Kane and Josh Koury. I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK will also be available on HBO On Demand, HBO NOW, HBO GO and partners’ streaming platforms.
“This core of respect for shared humanity differentiates Garbus’ as well as McNamara’s tellings from so much true crime storytelling, and justifies weaving the personal into the procedural.” – Judy Berman, TIME Magazine
Set in Oakland, a city with a deep history of social justice movements, WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS documents the Radical Monarchs – an alternative to the Scout movement for girls of color, aged 8-13. Its members earn badges for completing units on social justice including being an LGBTQ ally, the environment, and disability justice. The group was started by two, fierce, queer women of color, Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest as a way to address and center her daughter’s experience as a young brown girl. Their work is anchored in the belief that adolescent girls of color need dedicated spaces and that the foundation for this innovative work must also be rooted in fierce inter-dependent sisterhood, self-love, and hope. WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS follows the first troop of Radical Monarchs for over three years, until they graduate, and documents the Co-founders struggle to respond to the needs of communities across the US and grow the organization after the viral explosion of interest in the troop’s mission to create and inspire a new generation of social justice activists. Director / Producer Linda Goldstein Knowlton (Somewhere Between, Dream,Girl, Whale Rider, The Shipping News) joins us to talk about the positive role-modeling, the sense of community connection and empowerment that the Radical Monarchs has brought into the lives of these young women of color.
About the filmmaker Linda Goldstein Knowlton (Producer/Director) is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, working in documentary and scripted feature films, as well as television. In 2016, she Executive Produced the documentary DREAM,GIRL, which premiered at The White House. The film showcases the stories of inspiring and ambitious female entrepreneurs. Goldstein Knowlton directed and produced one of the six, Emmy-nominated documentaries for the PBS MAKERS: Women Who Make America series. The film, WOMEN AND HOLLYWOOD, aired in October, 2014 and includes interviews with Jane Fonda, Shonda Rhimes, Lena Dunham, Ava Duvernay, Glenn Close, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Alfre Woodard, Hunger Games producer Nina Jacobson, among many other notable women. Prior to that, she produced CODE BLACK, Best Documentary winner at LA Film Festival and the Hamptons International Film Festival, and the basis for the CBS one-hour drama of the same name. Previously she directed and produced SOMEWHERE BETWEEN, which won the Sundance Channel Audience Award at the Hot Docs Film Festival, and was released theatrically in over 80 cities across the US. For her directorial debut, she co-directed THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET, which debuted at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival in competition and aired nationally on PBS. Linda started her career producing feature films, including the award-winning WHALE RIDER and THE SHIPPING NEWS.
Winner of the first-ever Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, Elizabeth Coffman and Mark Bosco’s documentary FLANNERY is the lyrical, intimate exploration of the life and work of author Flannery O’Connor, whose distinctive style influenced a generation of artists. A devout Catholic who collected peacocks and walked with crutches (due to a diagnosis of lupus that would take her life before the age of 40), O’Connor’s provocative, award-winning fiction about Southern prophets, girls with wooden legs, and intersex “freaks” was unlike anything published before (or since). Over the course of her short-lived but prolific writing career (two novels, 32 short stories and numerous essays and lectures), O’Connor never shied away from examining timely themes of racism, religion, socio-economic disparity, and more with her characteristic wit and irony. Including conversations with those who knew her and those inspired by her (Mary Karr, Hilton Als, Tommy Lee Jones, Lucinda Williams, and more), FLANNERY employs never-before-seen archival footage, newly discovered personal letters and her own published words (read by Mary Steenburgen) alongside original animations and music to examine the life and legacy of an American literary icon. Co-director Elizabeth Coffman and Mark Bosco join us to talk about the life and work of a writer and cartoonist who’s trenchant worldview and powers of observation provided her stories with a window into the soul of subjects that resonates to this day.
For news, screenings and updates go to: flanneryfilm.com
*Flannery O’Connor was recently the subject of a provocative article by Paul Elie in The New Yorker, in which he quotes personal letters, and other writings, to question her attitudes on race. This is certainly a contentious and timely issue. We also note that earlier this month, The New York Times critic Wesley Morris named her 1965 short story, “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” as an example of “Art That Confronts and Challenges Racism.”
The Modern Consciousness: A FLANNERY Discussion Series, a four-part weekly series of virtual panel discussions on O’Connor’s legacy, will be presented concurrent with the run, with a new discussion every Monday from July 20 – August 10. Each part will cover a different topic (race, faith, disability, and craft). More details TBA.
“‘Flannery’ is an extraordinary documentary that allows us to follow the creative process of one of our country’s greatest writers.” — Ken Burns, Oscar-nominated Documentarian
“A lively and insightful documentary that explores the troubled life and unblinking writing of Flannery O’Connor.” – Christopher Lloyd, The Film Yap
“Despite having a certain squareness that puts it slightly at odds with its subject, “Flannery” does succeed in its ultimate objective — after watching it, you will want to instantly get a hold of and read as much of Flannery O’Connor’s work as you can.” – Peter Sobczynski, eFilmCritic.com
In Director David Wnendt (Wetlands) beguiling new film, TheSunlit Night, summer is off to a terrible start for Frances (Jenny Slate). Her art school project fails, her boyfriend unceremoniously kicks her out of his Hamptons home, and, to top it all off, her younger sister reveals she’s engaged just moments before her parents announce their separation. Hoping to invigorate her work and expand her horizons Frances hastily takes an opening for an art residency in Norway and heads off to an isolated island where the sun never sets. In a remote village, among the locals,she meets a fellow New Yorker (Sharp), who has come in search of a proper Viking funeral only to find that the Chief (Galifianakis) is but a re-enactor from Cincinnati. The eclectic crew ranges from “home” to “lost,” within the extreme and dazzling landscape of the Far North. Under a sun that never quite sets, and the high standards of an unforgiving mentor, Frances must navigate between ambition, desire, obligation, and risk in order to find a way forward. Author and screenwriter Rebecca Dinerstein Knight joins us to talk her collaboration with actor / producer Jenny Slate and director David Wnendt and finding the right mixture of understated drama and absurdist spirit that informs this charming gem of a film.
About the filmmaker(s): “I wrote The Sunlit Night as a stranger in a foreign land: no Jewish New Yorkers had ever moved to the Norwegian Arctic for no reason before, so the locals told me, on the island I had come to share with them, 95 miles north of the Arctic Circle and floating in the Norwegian Sea. Without any Norwegian ancestry to justify my journey, I could only explain my sudden relocation to the Lofoten Islands as a search for beauty, an opportunity to test language against a supreme landscape. I wanted to write about rapture. In the story that resulted, and in our faithful film, the gruffness of ancient mountain rock meets the unpredictable softness of goat’s fur; cultures clash and form new harmonies. Living alone at the top of the planet drove me to ask what connection means. What makes a person feel at home in the world, and who is responsible for the warmth of a welcome? Can geography exert emotional force? How can a woman communicate herself in the absence of common language and custom? How does the practice of art transcend practical circumstances? This is a movie about stretching oneself over the abyss of the unknown and touching the other, quieter side. The blankness and newness that open up there carry the risk of incredible loneliness, and the promise of wild revelation.” Writer Rebecca Dinerstein Knight
Director David Wnendt made his mark at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival with Wetlands, adapted from the best-selling novel by Charlotte Roche. His next film, Look Who’s Back, grossed over $20 million and was released by Netflix. Wnendt’s debut film, Combat Girls, earned him the Bavarian Film Award for best young director and the Prix Genève Europe for best fiction script by a newcomer. Wnendt was one of Variety’s “10 Europeans to watch” for 2016.
Maggie Kiley is the Executive Producer and one of the series directors for the second season of USA Network’s high profile series, DIRTY JOHN: THE BETTY BRODERICK STORY. This season is special for the fact that all eight episodes were directed by women. Kiley directed four out of the eight episodes, including the season premiere and finale. DIRTY JOHN: THE BETTY BRODERICK STORY follows the tumultuous relationship of Betty and Dan Broderick, played by Amanda Peet and Christian Slater, as their marriage turns into what was called one of “America’s messiest divorces” even before it ended in double homicide. DIRTY JOHN: THE BETTY BRODERICK STORY follows a high society woman, mother of four, driven to the edge by her husband’s lies, manipulation, and psychological abuse, that slowly escalates as his extra-marital affair is revealed, a bitter divorce ensues, and blood is shed. This is a warts-and-all depiction of the extremes of erratic behavior provoked under pressure. The creative juggernaut known as Maggie Kiley takes time out of her very busy life to talk with us about her love for storytelling, mentoring other artists and working with her beloved actors.
About the filmmaker: Award-winning filmmaker Maggie Kiley, is an alumnae of AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, both a Fox and Film Independent Directing Fellow. She was recently as the first director chosen for Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative, which has led to gigs helming episodes of American Horror Story: Cult, Scream Queens, and 9-1-1. Her credits reflect her diversity, since she has made contributions to CW’s Katy Keene, Riverdale, Marvel’s The Gifted, Netflix’s What/If and Syfy’s George R. R. Martin’s Nighflyers, to name just a few. Kiley recently signed a major exclusive, multi-year overall deal at Warner Bros TV. Under the pact, she will render director and executive producer services for the studio, in addition to developing new TV projects for broadcast, cable and streaming services. She was the first woman in 30 years to have a TV deal at WBTV like this. Maggie Kiley began her career as an actor with the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York City before making the transition from acting to directing with her award winning short film, Some Boys Don’t Leave. The film stars Jesse Eisenberg and Eloise Mumford and played over 50 festivals, garnering top honors at Tribeca and Palm Springs. Kiley received the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant for her debut feature, Brightest Star which starred Chris Lowell and Allison Janney. Her second feature, Dial a Prayer, released in 2015 starred Brittany Snow and William H. Macy. Her third feature was a thriller with Anna Camp, titled Caught marking the last of three features films in three years.
In the shadows of the bright lights of Las Vegas, its last call for a beloved dive bar known as the Roaring 20s. That’s the premise, at least; the reality is as unreal as the world the regulars are escaping from. BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETSis a mosaic of disparate lives, teetering between dignity and debauchery, reckoning with the past as they face an uncertain future, and singing as their ship goes down. Filmmaking duo Bill and Turner Ross return with an elegiac portrait of a tiny world fading away but still warm and beating with the comfort of community. Their beguiling approach to nonfiction storytelling makes for a foggy memory of experience lost in empty shot glasses and puffs of smoke. Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross (45365, Tchoupitoulas, Western, Contemporary Color) join us for a lively conversation on the fiction and non-fiction filmmaking expectations, the logistical and post-production challenges of making this film and the cinematic inspirations that inform Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets.
Renting Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets includes Director Introduction, the Feature Film and Post-Film Q&A with Cast/Crew. Order for July 8th in celebration of National Dive Bar Day! 10% of rental proceeds and 100% of all ‘GIVE’ donations benefit the US Bar Guild Foundation’s Bartender Emergency Assistance Program COVID-19 Relief Fund.
About the filmmakers: Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross are an American filmmaking team whose credits include the award-winning films 45365 (2009), TCHOUPITOULAS (2012), WESTERN (2015), and CONTEMPORARY COLOR (2017). Born and raised in Sidney, Ohio, and both graduates of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Bill and Turner Ross began work in the film industry in Los Angeles, with Bill as an editor and filmmaking teacher, and Turner in art departments on studio features. But they soon decided to eschew the day jobs of Hollywood and continue the creative partnership they began as kids by making their own films. In the years since, their films have brought them renown as some of the most innovative and interesting documentary filmmakers working today, with a style all their own and always evolving — pushing the art of presenting uninhibited portraits of and journeys through places, with all the complicated, humanistic, and lyrical truth that that entails. Their work has been supported by the Sundance Institute, the Rooftop Filmmaker’s Fund, Cinereach, the San Francisco Film Society and a generous grant from the late Roger Ebert. They were honored as Ambassadors for the American Film Showcase and as Sundance Documentary Institute Fellows. They were named Decade Filmmakers by Cinema Eye Honors, and in 2018 they became members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. When not making their own films, they collaborate with friends and fellow filmmakers such as Benh Zeitlin (BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, WENDY), David Lowery (AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS, A GHOST STORY), A.J. Schnack (CAUCUS), Robert Greene (BISBEE ’17), Raoul Peck (I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO), and David Byrne. They live and work in New Orleans. According to Metacritic, Bill and Turner Ross are the 6th best reviewed filmmakers of the 21st century. For more go to: rossbros.net
From the Smith Brothers and Director Tony Dean Smith comes VOLITION, a mind-bending science-fiction thriller, where the line between fate and free-will blurs. When you know your world is pre-determined, it’s hard to care about your choices. This is true for James Odin (Adrian Glynn McMorran). On a rain-soaked night in 1991, two cars collide, leaving all drivers dead on the scene, including the mother of the lone survivor, a child , James Odin. It’s a tragedy. But what’s more tragic is that seven-year-old James foresaw the accident happening two daysprior. He tried to prevent it, but who’s going to believe a kid who claims to see the future? Twenty-plus years later, James is a product of the failed foster care system. Knowing that the events of his future are predestined, he’s getting by, using his ability for petty crime and cheap thrills. But when a pre-sentient vision reveals to him his own imminent murder, James must go on the run and change the fate he knows is fixed. Director /co-screenwriter Tony Dean Smith and Producer / co-screenwriter Ryan Smith join us to talk about their consistently creative, high-wire tale of time travel, heartbreak and determining your own fate.
About the filmmakers: Tony Dean Smith (director/co-writer) & Ryan W. Smith (producer/co-writer) Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tony Dean Smith & Ryan W. Smith are the Smith Brothers, a creative partnership forged in the fires of sibling revery.
Tony Dean Smith is the recent recipient of the Director’s Guild off Canada “Best BC Director” award, granted at the Whistler Film Festival for his feature film debut, VOLITION. An award-winning director, writer and editor, Tony has gone on to write and direct various long-form projects for film & television – as well as constantly developing new material that’s close to his heart. Tony is also an acclaimed editor, having cut for Neill Blomkamp, Netflix, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, NBC, Syfy and others.
Ryan W. Smithis an award-winning writer/producer, having won the ScreenCraft Fellowship for his feature script, Jacaranda. Along with his film work, Ryan has written on over 135 episodes of television, which has earned him two Leo Awards. Ryan has written for such companies as Netflix, Anonymous Content, Andrew Lauren Productions, SyFy, Disney and Original Film. The Smith Brothers live in Vancouver, B.C., where they continue to be not only creative partners, but brothers.
A long-awaited follow up to Munch’s acclaimed 2011 Sundance film Letters From the Big Man, THE 11TH GREEN stars Campbell Scott (House of Cards, Roger Dodger) as a journalist who uncovers the truth behind the mythology of President Eisenhower’s long-alleged involvement in extraterrestrial events. Rife with hidden government secrets and Matrix-like mind-benders, THE 11TH GREEN is grounded in what is widely believed to be the nuts-and-bolts core story of post-war U.S. military and government involvement with UFOs. In this way, the film sketches a possible backdrop to recent revelations in the mainstream media (eg, the New York Times and Washington Post) and subsequent declassification of certain U.S. military interactions with UFOs. Thought-provoking but understated, filled with sharply drawn characters, stark desert landscapes, and leaps across the space-time continuum, THE 11TH GREEN is challenging cinema that generates questions, discussion, and debate long after the credits roll. The film’s distinguished cast also includes Agnes Bruckner (Blood and Chocolate, Blue Car), Ian Hart (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Backbeat), April Grace (Magnolia, Joker), Tom Stokes (The Railway Man, Wasted On the Young), David Clennon (Being There, The Thing), Monte Markham (Mr. Deed Goes to Town, Dallas), and Currie Graham (NYPD Blue, Project Blue Book). Groundbreaking American auteur Christopher Munch (director of The Sleepy Time Gal and the recently restored indie classic The Hours and Times) joins us to talk about his many-layered drama and the talented cast he assembled to breathe life into it.
About the filmmaker: Christopher Munch’s feature, the wilderness drama Letters from the Big Man (2011), was a New York Times Critics’ Pick and featured a lauded central performance by Lily Rabe. Five of his features have played at Sundance, and his first, The Hours and Times (1992), a speculative biopic about Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, won a special jury prize there. An impossible dream was the overarching theme of Munch’s second feature, the period landscape drama Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day (1996), based on the true story of a young trolley mechanic who tries to save a doomed short-line railroad to Yosemite National Park. Munch then undertook the sprawling, unconventional mother-daughter story The Sleepy Time Gal (2002), which Kevin Thomas in the Los Angeles Times wrote “has a depth, range and subtlety far greater than most American films” and which David Ansen of Newsweek upon its release stated was Jacqueline Bisset’s “finest performance.” Munch followed this with another unconventional family dissection, Harry and Max (2004), about two pop star brothers. He is a past Guggenheim fellow, recipient of the Wolfgang Staudte Prize at Berlin, winner of two Independent Spirit Awards, including the “Someone To Watch” Award, and has been featured in two Whitney Biennial exhibitions. He has received competitive awards from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (for science in film), Creative Capital Foundation, The American Film Institute, The Merchant and Ivory Foundation, and others. christophermunch.com
“The bottom line: a thoughtful and compelling what-if starring a never-better Campbell Scott. . . . A bracing example of Munch’s fearless knack for casting a new light on official stories. . . . that information unwinds with a provocative and illuminating slant, and in combination with the film’s eccentric mix of genres, time periods and SoCal desert atmosphere, it makes for a heady revisionist saga. . . . For all the story’s machinations and dark doings, The 11th Green is concerned not with narrowly defined party politics but the power of cabals, and the relative powerlessness of figureheads. . . . [I]n its precision and poetry, the language is alive, and Munch gives each character a distinctive voice.” – Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
“Wildly inventive . . . a work of meticulous historical reimagination. . . . With tight-lipped restraint, Munch giddily tweaks the past seventy-five years of political assumptions and the very concept of life on Earth.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker
Can an ancient Amazonian plant medicine help heal mankind? Farzin Toussi’s documentary THE MEDICINE reveals the hidden mysteries of one of nature’s most powerful and controversial healing remedies: Ayahuasca. Increasingly popular in the West, Ayahuasca is both a tradition in Amazonian shamanism and a promising new focus of mental health research. THE MEDICINE introduces spiritual leader Taita Juanito Guillermo Chindoy Chindoy, both a teacher and student of the sacred plant in the Colombian Amazon, where Ayahuasca is known as Yagé. Former NFL safety Kerry Rhodes and actor AnnaLynne McCord, each facing personal struggles, are introduced to Ayahuasca by Taita Juanito, guided through a true ceremonial practice, and emerge with new insights. THE MEDICINE also features leading scholars and authors exploring the cultural and scientific significance of Ayahuasca. Humanity faces an unprecedented rise in addiction, depression, and disease – can an ancient indigenous plant medicine help heal mankind? Perhaps the cure lies within the arms of Mother Nature. Director Farzin Toussi joins us to talk about his professional and personal journey into the spirit world, ancient cultures and a root and plant that has changed lives and sustained a way of life for thousands of years.
Oscar nominated filmmaker Agnieszka Holland’s thriller, MR. JONES, set on the eve of WWII, sees Hitler’s rise to power and Stalin’s Soviet propaganda machine pushing their “utopia” to the Western world. Meanwhile an ambitious young journalist, Gareth Jones (James Norton) becomes famous after publishingan article about his ride on an airplane with the new Chancellor of Germany – Adolph Hitler. Jones uses his political position in the British government as a foreign affairs advisor to David Lloyd George to get privileged access to the Soviet Union. Once there he searches for his next big story, scrutinizing the political and economic situation in Russia. Jones soon learns of government-induced hunger program, known as Holodomor, imposed on the Ukrainian people. The Soviets, with the help of the British and American governments, keep the starvation of 4 to 5 million people mostly secret. Jones efforts to uncover the truth behind the propaganda and expose an international conspiracy could cost him and his informant their lives. Jones goes on a life-or-death journey to uncover the truth behind the façade that would later inspire George Orwell’s seminal book Animal Farm. Director Agnieszka Holland joins us for a lively conversation on the little known story of mass slaughter prior to the onset one World War II and the craven rationale by the Western Powers willing to look the other way as millions of innocent people perished.
Writer’s Statement: “It was for my grandfather, Olexji, and the countless others who suffered under the Soviet regime that I wrote and produced this film. The idea first came to me in my final year of university and followed me to Ukraine after college and to a road trip through Wales shortly before my wedding, and many research trips for several years after. I wanted to tell a story that would honor the millions of victims of Stalin, who has been resurrected under Putinism as a great hero, and expose how Kremlin propaganda works – sometimes with the help of corrupt Western journalists and political leaders. Fifteen years ago, I never imagined this film would be relevant. It was always my intention to unearth buried history not hold up a mirror to our own times. As surreal as this journey has been against the backdrop of growing authoritarianism around the world, I have been heartened by how our story has brought together so many talented, fearless people determined to fight for the truth. Agnieszka, who survived prison under Soviet occupation and lost loved ones to the regime, put so much of herself into this masterpiece. Never could I have written in detail the rich wonderland that she created on screen, poetically guiding the audience through an adventure, while giving greater context to the challenges the world faces today. It has been a testament of faith that this film came together with these brave artists, and the timing for its release could not be more urgent.” – Writer Andrea Chalupa
Few people ever experience the momentum that Leader, Texas star football player Greg Kelley had going into his senior year of high school. That all changed in the summer of 2013, when Kelley was shockingly convicted of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old boy, and sentenced to 25 years in prison with no possibility for parole. OUTCRY is a searing examination of the criminal case that sent Kelley to prison and left his family and supporters searching for answers. Emmy® Award-winning filmmaker Pat Kondelis captures a community torn asunder and follows the principal participants on both sides of the appeals process as they work in pursuit of opposing truths. Over the course of three years, the series unfolds as Kelley’s fate hangs in the balance and new evidence emerges amid mounting criticism of the Williamson County justice system. SHOWTIME’s five-part investigative documentary seriesOUTCRY,follows the gripping scandal surrounding Kelley and the quest for truth and justice that followed in the wake of his sentencing. The series captures a divided community, as a groundswell of support emerges for Kelley, calling into question the investigation, the prosecution’s tactics and ultimately, the validity of the conviction, as both sides of the appeal process work in pursuit of opposing truths. OUTCRY director Pat Kondelis joins us to talk about the multiple twists and turns that Kelley saga takes and how no one knew where it would end up.
OUTCRY premieres Sunday, July 5 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME. New OUTCRY episodes will debut every Sunday through August 2, while the entire series will release for on-demand streaming or download on the SHOWTIME and SHOWTIME ANYTIME® apps and partner on-demand platforms July 5.
About the filmmaker: Pat Kondelis is an Emmy award-winning director and producer. His previous work includes the Emmy-nominated CNN documentary series ‘High Profits’ (2015), the Emmy-winning Showtime documentary film ‘Disgraced’ (2017), the CNN documentary series ‘The Radical Story of Patty Hearst’ (2018), the HBO documentary film ‘The Scheme’ (2020), and the Showtime documentary series ‘Outcry’ (2020). Kondelis is the Creative Director at Austin based Bat Bridge Entertainment.
In the riveting new short format documentary film, BLOOD RIDERS, from director Jon Kasbe (When Lambs Become Lions, Nascent, Mipso in Japan), focuses on the crippling blood shortage crisis and standstill traffic that plagues most hours of the day in Nigeria. On far too many days it can take over 24 hours to transport blood to patients in critical need. Joseph, one of the city’s motorcycle “blood riders,” can deliver blood to hospitals in under an hour. For mothers in labor, particularly in the case of Deborah dealing with a difficult delivery, this is often the difference between life and death.Director Kasbe gives us an incredible sense of intimacy with his characters. BLOOD RIDERS puts usthere on the motorcycle and in the delivery room with Deborah and her husband. It boggles the mind. Director Jon Kasbe joins us for a conversation about the dire situation facing the people of Nigeria, a country of inadequate infrastructure, substandard health care capacity and systemic corruption, where a few dedicated people are determined to come to the aid of the most vulnerable among them.
About the filmmaker: Jon Kasbe is an Emmy Award-winning Australian-Indian director and cinematographer. His debut feature, “When Lambs Become Lions,” was a 2017 Sundance Documentary Fund recipient, won Best Editing at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival, and was nominated for two 2019 IDA Awards in Best Cinematography and Best Editing. The film was released theatrically across the United States by Oscilloscope Laboratories and is now available on Apple TV and Amazon. His short films have screened at festivals worldwide and been recognized by SXSW, Hot Docs, Webbys, Vimeo Staff Picks, Camerimage Film Festival, Sheffield Film Festival, and National Geographic. In 2018 he was selected for DOC NYC’s inaugural 40 Under 40 list. He is currently developing a new film in Concordia Studios Artist-in-Residence. For more about his filmology go to: jonkasbe.com
In this searing documentary, WELCOME TO CHECHNYA,Academy Award –nominated director David France (How To Survive A Plague) brings us a terrifying real-life thriller that shadows a group of brave activists risking their lives to confront the ongoing anti-LGBTQ persecution in the repressive and closed Russian republic of Chechnya. In recent years, tens of thousands of LGBTQ people in the republic have suffered detention, torture and sometimes death at the hands of the authorities. But a small network of queer activists have mobilized into action, smuggling people in need out of their communities, securing visas and sheltering them in safe houses. Shot with astonishing access, largely with hidden cameras that keep rolling throughout every moment of escape, and employing a revolutionary face-swapping technique to protect the anonymity of its endangered subjects, WELCOME TO CHECHNYA exposes these under-reported atrocities, while highlighting an extraordinary group of heroic people confronting a brutal system. Director David France joins us for a conversation on the remarkably effective facial technology used by France to protect the identity of the film subjects and on the Russian republic’s pogrom against defenseless people being tortured and killed because of their sexual identity.
Director’s Statement: In my work as a journalist and author over many years, I have focused closely on the stories of outsiders and people who society has pushed to its margins – the disregarded, the ignored, the hated. When I turned to documentary filmmaking, I chose outsider activism as my subject. My first film, HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE, documented the work of early AIDS activists, ordinary people with no training who marshalled the intricate details of virology to change the course of the epidemic. Next, I opened up the story of early gender radicals in THE DEATH AND LIFE OF MARSHA P. JOHNSON, which chronicled not only the founding of the modern LGBTQ movement but also the founding of the first transgender rights organization in 1970. WELCOME TO CHECHNYA completes this trilogy. It follows a group of ordinary humans who have done something extraordinary, and asks the question that has long preoccupied me: What makes a person assume enormous risk and responsibility when others might turn the other way? What does it take, in other words, to be a hero?When I left their underground pipeline for the last time, knowing I could never go back once it became known I was reporting on their work, I wept with gratitude for the work they are doing. And for the opportunity they gave me to witness bravery of the most unvarnished kind: selfless, humane, and entirely queer. – David France
“David France has created a true masterwork of LGBT empathy, working both as a devastating portrait of hate as well as a rallying cry to arms. This is one of the best documentaries of the year.” – Redmond Bacon, Culture Vultures
Praised by The Village Voice as the most “clear-eyed account of union organizing on film,” THE KILLING FLOOR tells a true story of how a group of black and white slaughterhouse workers attempted to break race barriers to build an interracial union for the first time in the brutal stockyards. Damien Leake (SERPICO, APOCALYPSE NOW) stars as Frank Custer, a young black sharecropper from Mississippi – one of tens of thousands of southern blacks who journeyed to the industrial north during World War One, hoping for more racial equality. When Frank lands a job as a laborer on “the killing floor” in one of Chicago’s giant meatpacking plants., he finds a place seething with racial antagonism and decides to support the union cause. His best friends from the South, distrustful of the white-led union, turn against him. As racial violence explodes in the notorious Chicago Race Riot of 1919, management is able to further divide the workforce to defeat the union, and Frank must forge a new path. Director Bill Duke ( A RAGE IN HARLEM, DEEP COVER) stops by to talk about the challenges of making a sweeping historical film on a PBS budget, bringing together a talent group of mostly unknown African-American actor and the joy of seeing his groundbreaking and newly relevant film restored and revisited.
About The Killing Floor: The film was shot in 1983 in Chicago, working with local union crews and with many talented Chicago actors. It was made in the midst of the Reagan Era and shortly after the election of Chicago’s first African-American mayor, Harold Washington. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, foundations, corporations and dozens of national and local unions, THE KILLING FLOOR premiered on PBS’ American Playhouse series in 1984 to rave reviews. In 1985 the film was invited to Cannes and won the Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award. Featuring a screenplay by Obie Award-winner Leslie Lee, based on an original story by producer Elsa Rassbach and directed by Bill Duke (A RAGE IN HARLEM, DEEP COVER), THE KILLING FLOOR. New 4K restoration. Preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive, laboratory services and DCP by UCLA Film & Television Archive Digital Media Lab, with a special thanks to Elsa Rassbach, Sundance Institute Collection at UCLA Film & Television Archive.