Sprinter, Director / Writer Storm Saulter

Written and directed by Storm Saulter (“Better Mus’ Come”), SPRINTER follows Akeem Sharp (newcomer Dale Elliott), nicknamed the Rasta Rocket for his once-in-a-generation speed, who is set to be Jamaica’s next big track-and-field sensation. Akeem hopes his rise in athletics will take him to the U.S. to reunite him with his mother, who has supported the family while living as an illegal resident for over a decade. But Akeem’s rising star is weighed down by turmoil at home: a volatile father, and an unruly older brother who insinuates himself into Akeem’s career as a means of escaping – or perhaps enhancing – his scam artist hustle. The film also stars Kadeem Wilson (Ghett’ A Life), Dennis Titus (The Mighty Quinn), Shantol Jackson (Yardie), Bryshere Y. Gray (Empire), with Lorraine Toussaint (Selma, Orange is The New Black), and David Alan Grier (In Living Color) with songs by Grammy Award winning artist NE-YO and Jamaican dancehall performer Shenseea. Director and co-writer Storm Saulter (Robert A Maylor) joins us to talk about creating a beautiful film rooted in a heartfelt drama about a Jamaican family struggling with separation and the jolt of sudden success.

 

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For news and updates go to: sprinterthefilm.com

Social Media:

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instagram.com/sprinterthefilm

Pan African Film Festival

Won, Jury Prize – Best Narrative Feature

American Black Film Festival

Won, Grand Jury Prize – Best Narrative Feature

 Won, Best Director

 Won, Audience Award – Narrative Feature

“A beautiful and triumphant film.  What the film also importantly illustrates is the struggle so many immigrants’ families feel when mothers or fathers are forced to separate from their children in order to find a better life in another country so they can send money back home.”  – The Knockturnal

“Saulter displays a great eye with his thoughtfully shot drama that captures life in Jamaica in a way that is rarely seen on screen.” – The Los Angeles Times

“One of those rare films that will grow by the positive word-of-mouth. Every single frame is beautiful to look at and under director Saulter’s expert eye, he makes Jamaica look like a paradise lost which matches the intensity of the story.  Powerful.  A must see.”  – Los Angeles Sentinel

“Compelling, moving, heartbreaking and uplifting”  – The Grio

Friday May 17 – Wrestle, Co-directors Suzannah Herbert and Lauren Belfer

*** Independent Lens Spotlight

WRESTLE takes us inside the lives of four members of the high school wrestling team at Huntsville’s J.O. Johnson High School, a longstanding entry on Alabama’s list of failing schools. Teammates Jailen, Jamario, Teague, and Jaquan face challenges far beyond a shot at the state championship: splintered families, drug use, teenage pregnancy, mental health struggles, and run-ins with the law threaten to derail their athletic success and lock doors that might open their future. Their tough-love coach Chris Scribner isn’t off the hook, either; he must come to terms with his own past while unwittingly wading into the complexities of race, class and privilege. Director Suzannah Herbert and co-director Lauren Belfer captured over 650 hours of footage during the team’s final season to create this closely observed, deeply affecting depiction of growing up disadvantaged in America. Wrestle premieres on Independent Lens Monday, May 20, 10:00-11:30 PM ET (check local listings) on PBS and will also be available simultaneously for online streaming at pbs.org.

 

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For news and updates go to: wrestlefilm.com

For more about Independent Lens and Wrestle schedule go to: independentlens

About the Filmmakers:

Suzannah Herbert (Director/Writer/Producer), originally from Memphis, Tennessee, is a documentary filmmaker. Her NYU Tisch senior thesis, Home Game, premiered at DOC NYC. Herbert was the associate producer on Free Angela & All Political Prisoners, directed by Shola Lynch, and has since worked as an assistant editor on Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next and Fahrenheit 11/9, and Martin Scorsese’s upcoming documentary, Rolling Thunder Revue, about Bob Dylan’s pivotal 1975 tour. Herbert made her feature directorial debut with Wrestle, which won 11 awards on the 2018 festival circuit, and was distributed theatrically by Oscilloscope in 2019.

Lauren Belfer (Co-Director/Writer/Lead Producer) is a producer and filmmaker based in Brooklyn. Most recently she was the line and field producer on Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story (Netflix 2019), and she has frequently collaborated with Michael Moore, having worked on Fahrenheit 11/9, Trumpland, and the Oscar-shortlisted Where to Invade Next. Belfer produced the narrative feature After Louie (BFI 2017), starring Alan Cumming, and the documentary Hotline (Hot Docs 2014). Belfer’s directorial debut, Wrestle, garnered 11 awards on the festival circuit, including two audience awards and the Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary Film.

Social Media:

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twitter.com/WrestleTheFilm

instagram.com/wrestlefilm

“Profiling four members of an underdog high-school wrestling team in Huntsville, Alabama, “Wrestle” constructs an empathetic portrait of a mat that’s anything but level.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

“Wrestle will completely suck you in from beginning to end. It’s is a heartbreaking, yet honest look at the more poverty-torn cities in our country.” – Dante Jones, Film Threat

“Sometimes hopeful, other times heartbreaking, Wrestle is an honest portrait of disadvantaged American youth that will inspire empathy and leave viewers with lots to ponder.” Kieran Fisher, Nonfics

“One reason “Wrestle” is so effective is that director Herbert and cinematographer Sinisa Kukic made the decision to move to Huntsville for the duration of the shoot.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Friday, May 17 – The Serengeti Rules, Director Nicolas Brown

Academy Award-winning Passion Pictures and HHMI Tangled Bank Studios present one of the most important but untold science stories of our time, THE SERENGETI RULES  is a tale with profound implications for the fate of life on our planet. Beginning in the 1960s, a small band of young scientists, Bob Paine, Tony Sinclair, Mary E. Power, John Terborgh, Jim Estes, and Sean B. Carroll headed out into the wilderness, driven by an insatiable curiosity about how nature works. Immersed in some of the most remote and spectacular places on Earth—from the majestic Serengeti to the Amazon jungle; from the Arctic Ocean to Pacific tide pools—they discovered a single set of rules that govern all life. Now in the twilight of their eminent careers, these five unsung heroes of modern ecology share the stories of their adventures, reveal how their pioneering work flipped our view of nature on its head, and give us a chance to reimagine the world as it could and should be. Director Nicolas Brown joins us to talk about the far-reaching implications of the groundbreaking work done by Bob Paine on the importance of “keystone” species and the tremendously important work done by his colleagues since then can lead to a restoration of the natural order and help humanity reverse an ecological catastrophe.

For news and updates go to: theserengetirules.com

Monica Film Center – 1332 2nd Street – 1:10pm | 3:20pm | 5:30pm | 7:50pm | 10:15pm

** THE SERENGETI RULESDr. Jim Estes, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC and subject of the film with Dr John Terborgh, Professor of Environmental Sciences, Duke University also subject of the film will participate in a Q&A moderated by David Guy Elisco, Executive Producer, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios following the 7:50 pm show on Friday, 5/17 at the Monica Film Center.

Social Media:

facebook.com/SerengetiRules

twitter.com/serengetirules

instagram.com/serengetirules

100% on Rottentomatoes

“‘The Serengeti Rules’ celebrates not only the diversity and beauty of the natural world but also recognizes the transformative power of curiosity and knowledge.” – Kimber Myers, Los Angeles Times

“An absolutely riveting documentary about biodiversity and the need for humanity–its gravest threat–to reverse its course and preserve it. Difficult under the likes of Trump and the Koch’s but necessary.” Louis Proyect, counterpunch.com

“The great accomplishment of “The Serengeti Rules” is that it directs the viewer to see beauty in the way an ecologist might.” – Two Bugbee, New York Times

“It’s a film which sounds an alarm, but, unlike most similarly-themed pictures, one which permits a chink of light into the traditionally bleak narrative of man’s impact on the land.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International

Friday, May 17 – General Magic, Co-director Matt Maude (Sarah Kerruish) and film subject Marc Porat

GENERAL MAGIC takes us back to the early 1990’s, as a team of former Apple employees form their own company and prepare to take Silicon Valley by storm. From the first smartphones to touchscreens, e-commerce, eBay to emoticons, the ideas that now dominate the tech industry and our day-to-day lives were born at General Magic, a 1989 Silicon Valley startup that you’ve never heard of. The company and the product were so ahead of their time, that it ultimately failed, and the company closed down. However, General Magic’s former employees have since gone on to found eBay, Linkedin, and Android, to developing the technology that has led to the iPhone, iPad, iPod and everything that we all use today in our daily lives. These “magicians” have become the tech innovators that now lead companies like Samsung, Apple and Facebook. GENERAL MAGIC, the film tells the story of how great vision, grave betrayal and an epic failure changed the world forever.  What was once thought of as an embarrassment is now embraced as amazing.  This incredibly insightful and entertaining film looks at the rise and fall of the most influential Silicon Valley company you have never heard of called GENERAL MAGIC. The film captures the spirit of those of us who dare to dream big and the life-changing consequences when we fail, fail again, and fail better. GENERAL MAGIC Co-director Matt Maude (Sarah Kerruish) and film subject Marc Porat talk abouthow this remarkable team of creatively brilliant engineers, artists and visionaries that failed and succeeded at creating a technologies that continue to have an impact on the world around us.

 

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For news and updates go to: generalmagicthemovie.com

Social Media:

facebook.com/generalmagicthemovie

instagram.com/generalmagicthemovie

twitter.com/generalmagicmov

Hashtags: #generalmagicmovie   #generalmagic

“A fascinating tale.” – The Hollywood Reporter
“The biggest eye-opener of Tribeca 2018,” – Film Journal
“Poignant, entertaining and full of life and lessons.”- Forbes
“Gripping material, deftly edited, “General Magic” is remarkable’’ – Barrons
“General Magic is a reminder of how compelling stories about technology can be.” – The Verge
“The footage is unbelievable. This geekily comic doc inspires big dreams at every turn.” – TimeOut 

Carmine Street Guitars, Director Ron Mann

Once the center of the New York bohemia, Greenwich Village is now home to luxe restaurants, and buzzer door clothing stores catering to the nouveau riche. But one shop in the heart of the Village remains resilient to the encroaching gentrification: Carmine Street Guitars. There, custom guitar maker Rick Kelly and his young apprentice Cindy Hulej, build handcrafted guitars out of reclaimed wood from old hotels, churches, bars and other local buildings. Nothing looks or sounds quite like a Rick Kelly guitar, which is the reason they are embraced by the likes of Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Jim Jarmusch, just to name a few. Featuring a cast of prominent musicians and artists, and some virtuoso performances, the film captures five days in the life of one shop in the heart of Greenwich Village that remains resilient to an all-too-quickly vanishing way of life. Director and Producer Ron Mann stops by to talk about the guitar artisans, Rick Kelly and Cindy Hulej, their own personal journeys and the last remaining vestige of a musical community that continues to inspire musicians all over the world.

ABOUT THE FILMMAKER: RON MANNThe Canadian filmmaker and producer Ron Mann is renowned for his genre-bending approach to filmmaking and documentary cinema that explores art forms and contemporary popular culture with vision and verve. From jazz (Imagine the Sound, 1981), spoken word (Poetry in Motion, 1982), comics (Comic Book Confidential, 1988), dance (Twist, 1992), marijuana (Grass, 1999), car culture (Tales of the Rat Fink, 2006), fungi (Know Your Mushrooms, 2009), and independent filmmaking (Altman, 2015) Mannʼs films invoke the ethos and spirit of his subjects in resonant and contemporary ways.

 

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For news and updates go to: carminestreetguitarsfilm.com

Social Media:

facebook.com/carminestreetguitarsfilm

twitter.com/carmineguitars

 **Official Selection – 2019 SXSW Film Festival**

**Official Selection – 2018 Venice Film Festival**

**Official Selection – 2018 Toronto International Film Festival**

“Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic”​– VARIETY, Owen Gleiberman​

…an absolutely essential documentary…”​ ROLLING STONE, David Fear

“At its core, this is the story of a master craftsman told whilst we watch him at work. You don’t need to know the first thing about guitars to be drawn in by it.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

“Like the great musicians who come in and out of Kelly’s shop, Mann knows how to hit the right notes and how long to hold them, creating a nice rhythm that allows the room for charming interludes” – Stephen Saito, Movable Fest

Charlie Says, Director Mary Harron

CHARLIE SAYS, follows three women whose names have become synonymous with the murders of that shocked a nation and the man who ordered them on their deadly spree, Charles Manson. The women – Leslie Van Houten (Hannah Murray), Patricia Krenwinkel (Sosie Bacon), and Susan Atkins (Marianne Rendón) – remained under the spell of the infamous cult leader (Matt Smith) for years. Confined to an isolated cellblock in a California penitentiary, the trio seem destined to live out the rest of their lives under the delusion that their crimes were part of a cosmic plan, until empathetic graduate student Karlene Faith (Merritt Wever) is enlisted to rehabilitate them. Convinced the prisoners are not the inhuman monsters the world believes them to be, Karlene begins the arduous process of breaking down the psychological barriers erected by Manson. But are the women ready to confront the horror of what they did? In CHARLIE SAYS, boundary pushing auteur Mary Harron (American Psycho, I Shot Andy Warhol) presents a provocative new perspective on one of the most notorious crimes of the 20th century.  Director Mary Harron joins us to talk about how these seemingly sane, likable young woman could have committed such hideous crimes and why it drove her to tell their stories.

 

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For news and updates go to: charliesaysmovie.com

“This is a stunning piece of American cinema that draws on the events in California to talk about the death of an era, to foreshadow a nation’s loss of hope.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

“What makes Charlie Says so original is its perspective and its willingness to depict the banality and absurdity of life with Manson rather than simply to portray him as the quintessence of evil.” – Geoffrey Macnab, Independent

“Charlie Says is absorbing if only intermittently effective, but it has the distinction of bringing a female gaze to arguably the most notorious crime spree in American history.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Harvest Season, Director Bernardo Ruiz

*** Independent Lens Spotlight

HARVEST SEASON delves into the lives of people who work behind the scenes of the premium California wine industry, during one of the most dramatic grape harvests in recent memory. The film follows the stories of Mexican-American winemakers and migrant workers who are essential to the wine business, yet are rarely recognized for their contributions. Their stories unfold as wildfires ignite in Napa and Sonoma counties, threatening the livelihoods of small farmers and winemakers who are already grappling with a growing labor shortage, shifting immigration policies, and the impacts of a rapidly changing climate. Director Bernardo Ruiz is a two-time Emmy® nominated documentary filmmaker and member of the Academy. He was born in Guanajuato, Mexico and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. His directorial feature debut, Reportero, about attacks on the press in Mexico. New York Magazine called it “a powerful reminder of how journalism often requires immense amounts of physical and psychological bravery.” His second feature documentary, Kingdom of Shadows premiered at SXSW in the U.S. and IDFA in Europe. “Many documentaries have chronicled the drug war in the U.S. and Mexico,” writes Slackerwood of the film, “but few have humanized it as poignantly as Kingdom of Shadows. [It] is more observant than crusading…rooted in first-rate journalism.” The New York Times called it “unforgettable.” With the release of his third film HARVEST SEASON Director Bernardo Ruiz joins us to talk about his intimate look at the lives of veteran winemaker Gustavo Brambila, Mexican migrant worker René Reyes, and wine entrepreneur Vanessa Robledo.

 

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For news and updates go to: harvestseasonmovie.com

*** Monday May 13th at 10:00PM to watch HARVEST SEASON on PBS’s Independent Lens

More about the the director go to: bernardoruiz.com

“Ruiz’s film making transforms the Napa and Sonoma Valleys into a stage for much larger stories about migration, politics and the American Dream.” – Arturo Conde, NBC Latino

“Told expertly and with some startlingly gorgeous photography, director Bernardo Ruiz gives a first hand account of small wine producers and the struggles they face both economically and politically in 2018 America… a film that’s as beautiful as it is intimate and emotionally moving.” – Joshua Brunsting, Criterion Cast

“Rising above all the other similar films on wine, Harvest Season shines by focusing on all the people involved in making the wine and not just the people at the top.” – Steve Kopian, Unseen Films

“A beautifully filmed documentary that is part wine story and part immigrant/migrant story…a loving portrait of the ups and downs of life in the vineyard and those who put their backs as well as their heart and soul into it.” – Winston Salem Journal

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Executive Director Francis Cullado

** Spotlight on the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

Visual Communications, the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, announced its outstanding program of films and events for the upcoming 35th edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) running MAY 2 – MAY 10, 2018. The all encompassing annual film celebration is presented across Los Angeles in West Hollywood, Downtown LA, Little Tokyo, Koreatown, and Hollywood. Visual Communications proudly celebrates the Film Festival’s 34 years as Southern California’s largest and most prestigious film festival of its kind.  LAAPFF launches the celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month through this year’s slate of over 100 films from both Asian Pacific American and Asian international artists. For over three decades, the Festival has presented nearly 5,000 films by Asian Pacific American and Asian International talent. This year’s festival  will feature over 130 short films during the nine day fest from May 2 – May 10. These cinema gems from around the globe featuring stories about love, family, heartbreak, friendships, and self acceptance are all part of the exciting line up. The Festival opens May 2nd with the World Premiere of YELLOW ROSE directed by Diane Paragas and starring Broadway legend Lea Salonga and emerging star Eva Noblezada. Two acclaimed festival favorites will screen as the Centerpiece Films at the Festival; GO BACK TO CHINA directed by Emily Ting and MS. PURPLE directed by Justin Chon. The closing night film is the world premiere of EMPTY BY DESIGN directed by Andrea A. Walter premiering on Friday, May 10.  LAAPFF Executive Director Francis Cullado of Visual Communications stops by to talk about the ever expanding interest in Asian filmmakers and the trailblazing artistry being done by them.

 

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 For news and updates go to: festival.vcmedia.org/2019

LEARN MORE ABOUT LAAPFF and VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS:

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Yellow Rose, Director Diane Paragas

** 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

Anchored by a riveting performance Yellow Rose tells the story of Rose, (Eva Noblezada) an undocumented 17-year old Filipina, dreams of one day leaving her small Texas town to pursue her country music dreams. Her world is shattered when her mom, Priscilla, (Princess Punzalan) suddenly gets picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Rose, facing this new realty, is forced to flee the scene, leaving behind the only life she knows, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery as she searches for a new home in the honky tonk world of Austin, Texas. Director Diane Paragas stops by to talk about heartwarming and insightful film, working with Dale Watson and the film’s World Premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

For news and updates go to: yellowrosefilm.com

Social Media:

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twitter.com/YellowRoseFilm

Go Back to China, Director Emily Ting

** 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

In the new film GO BACK TO CHINA we meet Sasha Li (Anna Akana). To say that Sasha is spoiled would be an understatement. She’s entitled and self centered. But unlike many of her peers, she doesn’t have to struggle financially. Her father, (Richard Ng) a toy tycoon in China, has given her a million dollar trust fund. But instead of investing in her future, she has blown through half of it already on designer duds and bottle services. When she calls her father to complain, she finds out that he has blocked all her accounts and is cutting her off. She’s given an ultimatum. She can either go back to China and work for the family business, or she’s cut off forever. Teddy Li, the patriarch of the family, is not exactly father of the year. Divorced three times (all due to infidelity) and father of four. But with Sasha’s arrival, they all have to figure out a way to co-exist as a family for the first time. Once Sasha starts working at the factory, she also gets a much needed dose of reality check. When she makes a huge mistake that threatens the workers’ livelihood, it’s on Sasha to decide what she’s willing to sacrifice, in order to do the right thing. GO BACK TO CHINA is a heartfelt and bittersweet family portrait that offers an honest look at the human cost of things that are made in China. Director Emily Ting (Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong) joins us to talk about her fish-out-of-water dramedy, and a talented cast of artists.

For news and updates go to: gobacktochinafilm.com

“A funny, light, and heartfelt situation comedy…thanks in part to its likable lead whose adventures to find herself don’t involve meeting a man of her dreams but rather landing a dream job after learning the value of hard work.” – John Fink, The Film Stage

“Smartly written, funny and wonderfully acted blend of comedy and drama. Its themes of family conflict, the clash of cultures and finding your true calling are framed within a likable, entertaining narrative which will surely find its audience.” – Rouven Linnarz, Asian Movie Pulse

“Anna Akana and Lynn Chen manufacture joy in ‘Go Back to China.’ [It] is funny enough to draw in an audience and smart enough to teach them something while they’re there.” – Brooke Sjoberg, The Daily Texan

“Emily Ting is a needed voice in cinema because she displays life in a way that you won’t see anywhere else. It’s real, raw, and relevant” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic

Eating Up Easter, Director Sergio Mata’u Rapu

** 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

EATING UP EASTER, directed by native Rapanui filmmaker Sergio Mata’u Rapu, explores the dilemma his people are facing. Crafted as a story passed down to his newborn son, Sergio intertwines the authentic history of the island with the stories of four islanders. In their own voices, these Rapanui reveal the reality of modern life and the actions they are taking to preserve their culture and environment amidst rapid development. A local ecologist leads recycling efforts to tackle the mounting trash arriving with tourists and the waves of plastic washing up on shore. Two musicians struggle to build a free music school they hope will preserve cultural practices and reunite their fractured community. Sergio’s father, formerly the island’s first native Governor, attempts to balance traditions against the advantages of development while building a mini-mall in the island’s only town. EATING UP EASTER reveals and suggests ways forward in tackling the universal complexities of balancing growth and sustainability faced by local communities worldwide. Producer / Director Sergio Mata’u Rapu joins us for a conversation on the impacts of globalization and tourism are having on his beloved community and how the challenges facing them are the same challenges we all face.

 

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About the filmmaker: Sergio Mata’u Rapu

Native Rapanui Producer/Director Sergio Mata’u Rapu is the only Easter Islander working in production in an English speaking country. He has spent the last 15 years shooting, and producing documentaries that have aired on History Channel, Travel Channel, National Geographic, and NOVA. Through his work, Sergio aims to show the diversity of life through thought-provoking media to inspire resolutions to social, economic, and environmental conflicts.

For news and updates go to: Eatingupeaster.com/the-film

Help the peoples of Rapa Nui by contributing to the Easter Island Foundation

Hesburgh, Director Patrick Creadon

In Patrick Creadon’s illuminating new documentary, HESBURGH, shines a bright light on a unique public figure whom came to light during one of the country’s most divisive political and social storm. His name is Reverend Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C, president of the University of Notre Dame for more than 35 years. This revered figure worked his entire adult life to advance of peace and equal rights for all people. As the most dynamic member of the U.S. government’s Civil Rights Commission Hesburgh pushed Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson to enact legislation that culminated in the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act. HESBURGH offers a unique glimpse at more than fifty years of American history. Educator, civil rights champion, advisor to presidents, envoy to popes, theologian and activist, Hesburgh was called on by countless world leaders to tackle the most challenging issues of the day. He built a reputation as a savvy political operator with a penchant for bridging the divide between bitter enemies. Through it all, he remained a man armed with a fierce intelligence, a quick wit and an unyielding moral compass — a timeless example of bipartisan leadership that would serve us in today’s increasingly polarized times. Director Patrick Creadon (Wordplay, If You Build It , Ski Bum: The Warren Miller Story), joins us for a conversation on a man who’s life’s work harkens back to a time when compromise and cooperation were the political norms and not the exception.

 

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For news and updates go to: hesburghfilm.com

To find a theatre near you go to: hesburghfilm.com/tickets

Social Media:

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twitter.com/hesburghfilm

instagram.com/hesburghfilm

“[A] thoroughly engaging documentary chronicle of the life and turbulent times of longtime Notre Dame president Father Theodore M. Hesburgh, whose tenure coincided with a particularly pivotal stretch of American history.” – Micheal Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times

“This moving, illuminating slice of American life and social history serves as a stirring example that we should all do much better. And we can start right now.” – Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

“A portrait of a man who can be seen as not merely blameless, but genuinely heroic.” – GlennKenny, New York Times

“As described by many of those who, in the movie, talk about Hesburgh, he comes across as a man of conscience and conviction, who was willing to walk his own path no matter whom he rankled or angered.” – Bob Bloom, Journal and Courier

Out of State, Director Ciara Lacy

** Independent Lens Spotlight

The riveting new documentary by Ciara Lacy Out of State provides an inside look at the lives of two native Hawaiians sent thousands of miles away from the tropical islands to a private prison in the Arizona desert. In this unlikely setting, David and Hale find a community of other native Hawaiians and discover their indigenous traditions from a fellow inmate serving a life sentence. Hoping for a fresh start and eager to prove that the experience has changed them forever, the two men finish their terms and return to Hawai’i. But once on the outside, they struggle with life’s hurdles and wonder if it’s possible to ever go home again. Director Ciara Lacy joins us to talk about the challenges and the barriers facing two men struggling to make the best of what may be their last chance.

About the Filmmaker – Ciara Lacy

Director Ciara Lacy is a native Hawaiian filmmaker whose interest lies in crafting films that use strong characters and investigative journalism to challenge the creative and political status quo. She has produced documentary content for film and television, managed independent features, as well as coordinated product placement and clearances for various platforms. Her work has shown in theaters and has aired on PBS, ABC, TLC, Discovery, Bravo and A&E. Lacy is honored to be the inaugural Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellow and a current Princess Grace Awards Special Project grantee. She has also benefited from fellowships with Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab, the Sundance Institute, NATIVe at Berlinale, the Princess Grace Foundation, and IFP. Ciara holds a BA from Yale University, and graduated from Hawai`i’s Kamehameha Schools.

 

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For more on PBS award winning series go to: pbs.org/independentlens

For more about the film go to: outofstatefilm.com

For more about the filmmaker go to: ciaralacy.com

AWARDS

PORTLAND FILM FESTIVAL  Special Jury Award for Artistic Vision

HAWAII INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL  Made in Hawaii Best Feature Film & Audience Choice for Documentary Feature

SAN DIEGO ASIAN FILM FESTIVAL – Best Feature Documentary

Scheme Birds, Co-directors Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin

** Tribeca Film Festival Spotlight

In this unforgettable documentary we meet Gemma, a teenage troublemaker, a so called ‘Scheme Bird’ who introduces us to her world. The police know her by the way she runs – and she brags that she’ll end up either ”knocked up or locked up”. But in addition to fighting she loves her grandfather Joseph. He’s been like a father to her since her own mom abandoned her as a baby because of a drug addiction. Grandpa Joseph is sick and tired of the gang fights that has plagued the area for generations. But he likes pigeons. In fact he likes pigeons more than he likes most people. And when he turns the local boxing gym into a beauty contest for pigeons things start to change. With great care the men of the scheme pick out the most beautiful pigeons and suddenly they have something to live for. But despite Joseph’s efforts Gemma isn’t interested in the birds at all. She doesn’t want to disappoint her grandpa but the violent world of the scheme is also part of who she is. But what happens when the childish games turns into serious crime? Co-directors Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin join us to talk about how they connected with Gemma, seamlessly blending into her world and can people escape patterns of destructive behavior  and find positive ways to navigate a community of “lost causes.”

For news and updates go to: filmbasen.se/projekt/scheme-birds

20th Anniversary of Newport Beach Film Festival, CEO and Co-founder Gregg Schwenk

For the last 20 years the Newport Beach Film Festival has brought the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking from around the world to Orange County. Under the direction of CEO and Co-founder Gregg Schwenk and the festival’s staff have been committed to entertaining and enlightening the public with a first-class international film program as well as providing a forum for cultural understanding and enriching educational opportunities, the Festival focuses on showcasing a diverse collection of both studio and independent films. The Festival supports the creation and advancement of innovative and artistic cinematic works from both emerging and seasoned filmmakers and proudly embraces the passion, vision and independent spirit of these talented artists. With the integration of the local community and educational institutions, the Festival stimulates an interest in the study and appreciation of film and encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to participate. The Community Outreach Program was created with the idea that film offers new perspectives and possibilities for a changing world. Each year, the Festival partners with over 40 non-profit organizations and pairs each philanthropic organization with a film that aligns with their mission. The Festival gives non-profit organizations a forum to voice their message to large audiences and spread awareness of their organization and mission through the medium of film. Areas of focus include the arts, health and human services, the environment, education, children’s causes, seniors’ and veterans’ programs, and alumni clubs. CEO and Co-founder Gregg Schwenk joins us to talk about a remarkable festival line-up of comedies, dramas, short films, action sports, classics, documentaries, musicals and foreign film excellence.

For news, updates and film schedules go to: newportbeachfilmfest.com

For more on the OC FIlm Society go to: newportbeachfilmfest.com/ocfs

Right to Harm, Co-director Matt Wechsler Annie Speicher

** 2019 Newport Beach Film Festival Spotlight

Through the riveting stories of five rural communities, RIGHT TO HARM exposes the devastating public health impact factory farming has on many disadvantaged citizens throughout the United States. Filmed across the country, the documentary chronicles the failures of state agencies to regulate industrial animal agriculture. Known formally as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations – or CAFOs – these facilities produce millions of gallons of untreated waste that destroys the quality of life for nearby neighbors. The film features agricultural economist John Ikerd, who abandoned industry beliefs after a 14-year career as a livestock marketing specialist. RIGHT TO HARM tracks the tribulations and triumphs of rural residents across America who are victims of the past 50 years of agricultural consolidation and the consequential laws that now govern the land. Fed up with the lack of regulation, these disenfranchised citizens band together to demand justice from their legislators. Filmmakers Matt Wechsler and Annie Speicher skillfully weave together five stories that span eight states from the Southwest to the Midwest to the Eastern Shore. Farmers, mothers, scientists and politicians share intimate stories of how their lives were forever changed by factory farming. RIGHT TO HARM is an enlightening exploration that questions whether citizens are entitled to clean air and water, while examining the political issues that stand in the way of nationwide reform.

For news and updates go to: righttoharm.film

** Screening at the Newport Beach Film Festival – Find out when and where

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Boom, A Film About the Sonics, Director Jordan Albertsen

** 2019 Newport Beach Film Festival Spotlight

BOOM: A Film About the Sonics tells the untold story of one of rock ‘n’ roll’s wildest and most influential bands, The Sonics. For the first time ever, all five original members of the band tell the story of how it all went down, from beginning to end. ‘Boom’ takes a deep dive, exploring how a relatively unknown band from the Pacific Northwest became a worldwide phenomenon 50-years after their heyday, and in doing so, shaped music for decades to come (whether it was apparent at the time or not). Featuring interviews with homegrown heroes and breakthrough artists alike, Pearl Jam, The Sex Pistols, Heart, Mudhoney, and many, many more. BOOM: A Film About the Sonics is the documentary debut of filmmaker Jordan Albertsen. He joins us to talk about his honest and insightful look into the one of rock music’s more subversive bands.

For news and updates go to: sonicsfilm.com

Social Media:

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** 2019 Newport Beach Film Festival screenings – when and where

Best Documentary Feature – Lone Star Film Festival
Best Documentary Feature – Silk Road International Film Festival

Audience Award – Tacoma Film Festival
Audience Award – Olympia Film Festival

Babysplitters, Director Sam Friedlander

** 2019 Newport Beach Film Festival Spotlight

Writer/director Sam Friedlander’s (“Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant”), second feature film is the comedic gem Babysplitters. Jeff and Sarah are struggling to come to an agreement about having a baby.  Jeff wants to be a father eventually, but is afraid to lock himself into his current job situation. Meanwhile Sarah, nearing 35, feels her biological clock ticking and is impatient to start trying.  Their mutual friends Don and Taylor have the opposite problem.  Don has a successful business and is ready to be a dad.  But Taylor, an aspiring dancer, is worried that the toll on her body and career will be too much.  When the two couples hatch a plan to share one baby between them, it seems like they may have found the perfect compromise — until things spiral out of control. Winner of the Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema at Santa Barbara Film Festival, Babysplitters is screening at the 2019 Newport Beach Film Festival. Director and writer Sam Friedlander joins us to talk about his wry, playful take on young couple willing to go to any length in hope of starting a new family.

For news and updates go to: babysplittersmovie.com

** 2019 Newport Beach Film Festival screenings

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instagram.com/babysplitters

“The trials and travails of impending parenthood are captured through Friedlander’s highly comedic filter, giving birth to enough dazzling wit to sustain the gimmick.” – Courtney Howard, Variety

“Whether it’s a conversation about triple-earlobes or a private confession to a therapist, Babysplitters gets its comedy right.” – Alex Saveliev

¡Boza!, Director Sydney Bowie

** 2019 Newport Beach Film Festival Spotlight

¡Boza! follows the harrowing journey of three young sub-Saharan African immigrants: Sani, Yamal & Kone, as they leave home in their teens to embark on their years-long journey to a new life in Spain. Crossing the Sahara Desert by foot, spending months to years living in the forests of Morocco, and finally making the dangerous crossing to the Spanish mainland or territories by land or sea, these three powerfully distinct immigration stories have one thing in common: their incredible optimism in the face of inconceivable adversity. Their stories teach us the perseverance of the human spirit, something our world desperately needs to be reminded of now. The dynamic structure jumps between present day footage of life in Spain and reconstructing their migration story using animation and archival footage. Through parallel storytelling, the film compares these three inspiring stories of success to the hopes of a group of migrants living in the slums of Tangier, Morocco. ¡Boza! Director and Producer Sydney Bowie discovered her love of documentary film as an undergraduate at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her short films have been selected to screen at festivals across the United States. In addition, Sydney has worked alongside noted documentary filmmakers, including Oscar-nominated Robert Kenner (Food Inc.) and world renowned British journalist and filmmaker Sean Langan. Sydney has received the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to work on her most recent film the New Migration Project, from which ¡Boza! was produced, documenting the lives of immigrants in Spain. Director Sydney Bowie stops by to talk about her intimate and heartfelt portrayal of people struggling to find a better life.

 

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For news and updates go to: bozathefilm.com

Social Media:

Instagram: @bozathefilm

Facebook: @bozathefilm

Social Media for Sydney Bowie 

Twitter.com@newmigrationdoc

The River and The Wall, Director Ben Masters

** Newport Beach Film Festival Spotlight

THE  RIVER AND THE WALL follows five friends on an immersive adventure through the unknown wilds of the Texas borderlands as they travel from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on horses, mountain bikes, and canoes. Conservation filmmaker Ben Masters realizes the urgency of documenting the last remaining wilderness in Texas as the threat of new border wall construction looms ahead. Masters recruits NatGeo Explorer Filipe DeAndrade, ornithologist Heather Mackey, river guide Austin Alvarado, and conservationist Jay Kleberg to join him on the two-and-a-half-month journey down 1,200 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. They set out to document the borderlands and explore the potential impacts of a border wall on the natural environment, but as the wilderness gives way to the more populated and heavily trafficked Lower Rio Grande Valley, they come face-to-face with the human side of the immigration debate and enter uncharted emotional waters. Ben Masters is best known for his UNBRANDED, a feature documentary on Netflix, in which he and three friends adopted 16 wild mustangs, trained them, and rode 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada to inspire wild horse adoptions. Director Ben Masters join us to talk about the spectacular natural beauty of the Rio Grande Valley, the people who live along the Mexico – American border and the on-the-ground reality of a border wall.

 

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For news and updates go to: theriverandthewall.com

For more on the filmmaker go to: benmasters.com

Social Media:

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“If The River and the Wall runs the risk of being too repetitive, Masters breaks up the argument with a sense of adventure.” – Alan Zilberman, Washington City Paper

“Visually stunning and politically sharp.” – Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter

“The River and the Wall is going to be one of the most-talked about documentaries of 2019 because of its timeliness in the current political environment.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

Body at Brighton Rock, Director Roxanne Benjamin

BODY AT BRIGHTON ROCK is a psychological thriller about a part time summer employee, Wendy, (Karina Fontes) at a mountainous state park, takes on a rough trail assignment at the end of the season, trying to prove to her friends that she’s capable enough to do the job. When she takes a wrong turn and ends up deep in the backcountry, she stumbles upon what might be a potential crime scene. Stuck with no communication after losing her radio and with orders to guard the site, Wendy must fight the urge to run and do the harder job of staying put — spending the night deep in the wilderness, facing down her worst fears and proving to everyone – including herself – that she’s made of stronger stuff than they think she is. Director and writer Roxanne Benjamin made her directorial debut in the anthology SOUTHBOUND, which world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. She was last in the director’s chair for “Don’t Fall”, part of Magnolia Pictures’ all-women-helmed horror anthology XX, which premiered at Sundance in the Midnight section last year. Director Roxanne Benjamin stops by to talk about her slow-burn thriller and the challenges of a wilderness shoot.

 

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For news and updates go to: bodyatbrightonrock.com

Social Media:

facebook.com/BodyatBrightonRock

twitter.com/BodyatRockFilm

instagram.com/bodyatbrightonrock

“Deftly employing the power of suggestion and an emotionally potent sound design, “Body at Brighton Rock” is a well-crafted thriller with some crafty tricks up its sleeve.” – Joe Leydon, Variety

“Body at Brighton Rock shifts from being a fun and colorful throwback to something a little darker and deeper.” – Meredith Borders, Slashfilm

“Relating to Wendy, and to her terror, is easy, and immediate, and lets the movie hook its claws into the viewer with jolting urgency.” – Andy Crump, Paste Magazine

“Anchored by a star-making lead turn and sporting superb sound design, Body At Brighton Rock is a bloody good time.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat

Wild Nights with Emily, Director Madeleine Olnek

WILD NIGHTS WITH EMILY tells the story of the mid-19th century poet, Emily Dickinson writing prolifically, baking gingerbread, and enjoying a passionate, lifelong romantic relationship with another woman, her friend and sister-in-law Susan…yes this is the iconic American poet, popularly thought to have been a recluse. Beloved comic and Saturday Night Live alum Molly Shannon leads in this humorous yet bold reappraisal of Dickinson, informed by her private letters. While seeking publication of some of the 1,775 poems written during her lifetime, Emily (Shannon) finds herself facing a troupe of male literary gatekeepers too confused by her genius to take her work seriously. Instead her work attracts the attention of an ambitious woman editor, who also sees Emily as a convenient cover for her own role in buttoned-up Amherst’s most bizarre love triangle. Meticulously researched with the support of the Guggenheim foundation, this dramatic comedy generously intertwines Dickinson’ actual letters and poems into the texture of the film, used with permission from Harvard University Press.  A timely critique of how women’s history is rewritten, WILD NIGHTS WITH EMILY remains vibrant, irreverent and tender–a perhaps closer depiction of Emily Dickinson’s real life than anything seen before. Director Madeleine Olnek (The Foxy Merkins, Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same) stops by to talk about her “wildly” inventive and poignant reset of the often maligned American literary giant.

 

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For news and updates go to: wildnightswithemily.com

Greenwich Entertainment.com/film/wild-nights-with-emily/

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twitter.com/GreenwichET

instagram.com/greenwichentertainment

93% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Wild Nights With Emily may be Olnek’s most political film to date, one that could forever change the narrative of the world’s most famous woman poet.” – Jude Dry, IndieWire

“Like the remarkable poet at its center, Wild Nights with Emily is playful, clever, and alive.” – Kristy Puchko, Pajiba

“This is an irreverent film, but its lightness is meaningful. With each silly flourish, Olnek offers joy and companionship to a figure whose history was more conveniently presented to generations of readers as solitary.” – Two Bugbee, New York Times

“Olnek has crafted a lovely, heart-warming piece which reminds us of the importance of revisiting and challenging historical narratives and leaves one in both fits of laughter and in need of a few moments of contemplation.” – Hannah Ryan, Much Ado About Cinema

Little Woods – Director Nia DaCosta

Ollie (Tessa Thompson) is barely getting by in Little Woods, an economically depressed fracking boomtown in North Dakota. She has left her days of illegally running prescription pills over the Canadian border behind, eyeing a potential new job that would finally break her out of the small town. But when her mother dies, she is reunited with her estranged sister Deb (Lily James), who faces a mounting crisis: the combined effect of an unplanned pregnancy and a deadbeat ex (James Badge Dale). The two find they have one week to settle the mortgage on their mother’s house or face foreclosure. As both bills and pressure mount, Ollie faces a choice: whether to return to a way of life she thought she’d left behind for just one more score, or to leave it all behind. Writer-director Nia DaCosta’s debut is an emotionally charged small-town thriller that weaves themes of economic downturn and the opioid crisis into its intimate story of two sisters trying to get by. An unvarnished film anchored by an authentically drawn sibling bond, LITTLE WOODS speaks to both the biggest and smallest elements of the working-class struggle in rural America. Director and writer Nia DaCosta joins us for a conversation on her debut feature film and the crushing burden of a life without options or access to opportunity or education and the toll it takes on well intentioned people.

 

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For news and updates go to: littlewoodsmovie.com/home

Social Media:

facebook.com/neonrated

twitter.com/neonrated

instagram.com/neonrated

Tribeca Film Festival – Nominated, Best Narrative Feature – Nia DaCosta

Heartland Film – Winner, Truly Moving Picture Award – Nia DaCosta

Fargo Film Festival – Winner Best Narrative Feature – Nia DaCosta

97% on Rotten Tomatoes

“DaCosta has made a suspense film in which we root for the heroes to break the law, and then she sends us home to ponder all the reasons they need to.” – Ty Burr, Boston Globe

“The film smartly never goes the direction one might assume, embracing full-blown character study that shines a scorching light on many prevailing problems within the underclass of American society” – Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth

“Nia DaCosta’s absorbing debut is laced with urgent dread, experienced by characters you care deeply about.” – Sam Weisberb, pillage Voice

“Little Woods is a story we don’t often see told from a black woman’s lens, especially not in this particular setting. It’s a story of sisters who band together and fight against every complication.” – Aramide Tinubu, Shadow and Act

Her Smell, Director Alex Ross Perry

Fueled by an incendiary performance by Elisabeth Moss, HER SMELL follows Becky Something (Moss) is a ’90s punk rock superstar who once filled arenas with her grungy all-female trio Something She. Now she plays smaller venues while grappling with motherhood, exhausted band mates, nervous record company executives, and a new generation of rising talent eager to usurp her stardom. When Becky’s chaos and excesses derail a recording session and national tour, she finds herself shunned, isolated and alone. Forced to get sober, temper her demons, and reckon with the past, she retreats from the spotlight and tries to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success. Anchored by a towering, unflinching performance from Golden Globe and Emmy winner Moss, and supported by a stellar ensemble cast, HER SMELL examines the grit, grace and gravitas of an unforgettable fictional rock star crashing down to earth into the harsh realities of mid-life. With his deeply humane sixth feature, writer- director Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip, Golden Exits) pumps up the volume and shines a light on the terrifying moment when superstardom wanes — and quiet becomes the new loud. Alex Ross Perry joins us for a lively conversation on the film’s fascinating shooting schedule, collaborating with cinematographer Sean Price Williams and working with a remarkable cast of actors.

 

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For news and updates go to hersmellmovie.com

“Elisabeth Moss turns in a five-alarm blaze of a performance as a frontwoman who makes Courtney Love look like Mother Teresa.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“Moss varies the volume and the tempo of her performance, calling forth cascades of profane invention and rills of whispery poetry, but she always stays in the same key, the key of Becky.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times

“Formally audacious and ferociously intelligent, Her Smell is Perry’s greatest achievement yet, a wild saga of prestige and madness that is ultimately rooted in the female bonds keeping women sane.” – Natalia Winkelman, The Daily Beast

“Over and above the furious-and ultimately painfully tender-drama, Perry achieves something of a new, grand version of his own cinematic music.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker

Hail Satan?, Director Penny Lane and Subject Lucien Greaves

Hail Satan? chronicles the extraordinary rise of one of the most colorful and controversial religious movements in American history, Hail Satan? is an inspiring and entertaining new feature documentary from acclaimed director Penny Lane. When media-savvy members of the Satanic Temple organize a series of public actions designed to advocate for religious freedom and challenge corrupt authority, they prove that with little more than a clever idea, a mischievous sense of humor, and a few rebellious friends, you can speak truth to power in some truly profound ways. As charming and funny as it is thought-provoking, Hail Satan? offers a timely look at a group of often misunderstood outsiders whose unwavering commitment to social and political justice has empowered thousands of people around the world. But with their numbers swelling and dozens of new chapters forming in cities across the globe, increased threats of violence against Satanists and disagreements within the group’s own ranks complicate the Temple’s work. As a complex and costly legal battle erupts over a similar Ten Commandments monument in Arkansas, Greaves, Blackmore, and their fellow Temple members struggle to adjust to the movement’s explosive popularity while maintaining the integrity of their core beliefs. Director Penny Lane (Nuts!, Our Nixon) once again joins us for a lively discussion on Satanic beliefs, Lucien Greaves, Jex Blackmore and the creative and subversive strategies for preserving many deeply held patriotic ideals.

 

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For news and updates go to: hailsatanfilm.com

For more on the filmmaker go to: pennylaneismyrealname.com

Social Media:

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instagram.com/hailsatanfilm

“Lane sets out to subvert American history with intelligence and wit. Here, she asks us to question why certain religions are deemed “normal,” even though, notes one Temple member, Catholic mass is all about the symbolic drinking of blood.” – Amy Nicholson, Variety

“Provocative, hilarious, and latently enraging documentary about The Satanic Temple.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

“”Hail Satan?” finds that simply presenting reason and historical precedent proves to be audacious and Lane follows the lead of her subjects in showing that it can be done with enormous amounts of fun.” – Stephen Saito, Movable Feast

“Wickedly funny, fascinating and niftily made, this crowd-pleaser will reign at festivals and prove, yet again, that the devil always has the best tunes.” – Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter