BROOKLYN CASTLE, director Katie Dellamaggiore

 

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BROOKLYN CASTLE tells the stories of five members of the chess team at a below-the-poverty-line inner city junior high school that has won more national championships than any other in the country.  The film follows the challenges these kids face in their personal lives as well as on the chessboard, and is as much about the sting of their losses as it is about the anticipation of their victories. Ironically, the biggest obstacle thrust upon them arises not from other competitors but from recessionary budget cuts to all the extracurricular activities at their school.  BROOKLYN CASTLE shows how these kids’ dedication to chess magnifies their belief in what is possible for their lives.  After all, if they can master the world’s most difficult game, what can’t they do?  Director Katie Dellamaggiore stops by to talk about this captivating documentary and the insight she gained working with a smart and dedicated group of middle school students.

“If you want to see what may well be the most optimistic, inspiring and downright thrilling movie released all year – then absolutely do not miss Katie Dellamaggiore’s documentary Brooklyn Castle”– Andrew O’Hehir, Salon

“A wonderful doc. If I could pick only one film from the South By Southwest film festival and bodily force everyone I know to see it, it would be Brooklyn Castle.”
– Linda Holmes, NPR

THE LONELIEST PLANET, director Julia Loktev

 

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Alex and Nica are young, in love and engaged to be married. The summer before their wedding, they are backpacking in the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. The couple hire a local guide to lead them on a camping trek, and the three set off into a stunning wilderness, a landscape that is both overwhelmingly open and frighteningly closed. Walking for hours, they trade anecdotes, play games to pass the time of moving through space. And then, a momentary misstep, a gesture that takes only two or three seconds, a gesture that’s over almost as soon as it begins. But once it is done, it can’t be undone. Once it is done, it threatens to undo everything the couple believed about each other and about themselves. All the while, they are not alone. They are always with the guide, who witnesses their every move. The film plays off the relationship between young travelers and the places they travel to, between guide and guided. But at heart, it is a love story — a tale about betrayal, both accidental and deliberate, about masculinity, failure and the ambiguities of forgiveness. Director Julia Loktev (Day Night Day Night) joins us to talk about her compelling and beautiful film.

“A strikingly successful piece of daring.” – Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal

 “Marvelous! Stunningly shot… somehow manages to be both audacious and subtle: Awkward silences become deafening, and the spacious wilderness unsettles with a devastating claustrophobia.” – Aaron Hills, Village Voice

“Loktev’s staging of the crucial moment is expert; her look at the aftermath is poignant and nuanced, culminating in a nocturnal sequence that condenses a world of bitter and incommensurable experience into a single shot.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker

WAKE IN FRIGHT, director Ted Kotcheff

 

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Alongside MAD MAX and WALKABOUT, WAKE IN FRIGHT is widely acknowledged as one of the seminal films in the development of modern Australian cinema. Directed by Ted Kotcheff (FIRST BLOOD) and starring Donald Pleasence (HALLOWEEN, THE GREAT ESCAPE), WAKE IN FRIGHT tells the nightmarish story of a schoolteacher’s (Gary Bond) descent into personal demoralization at the hands of drunken, deranged derelicts while stranded in a small town in outback Australia. Believed to be lost for decades and virtually unseen in America until now, WAKE IN FRIGHT returns fully-restored in stunning HD in what the New York Observer says “may be the greatest Australian film ever made.”

“WAKE IN FRIGHT is a deeply – and I mean deeply – unsettling and disturbing movie. I saw it when it premiered at Cannes in 1971, and it left me speechless. Visually, dramatically, atmospherically and psychologically, it’s beautifully calibrated and it gets under your skin one encounter at a time, right along with the protagonist played by Gary Bond. I’m excited that WAKE IN FRIGHT has been preserved and restored and that it is finally getting the exposure it deserves.” —Martin Scorsese, 2012

 “The quintessential Australian exploitation film…a harrowing journey, but one you’ll likely want to take again, very soon.” —Drew Taylor, Indiewire

“Vibrant with color, atmosphere, emotion, violence and dread. It’s simultaneously terrifying and hilarious, a full-on shotgun blast to the face of rediscovered 1970s weirdness… This tale of endless debauchery is unforgettable.” Andrew O’hehir, Salon

LEAST AMONG SAINTS, director Martin Papazian

 

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LEAST AMONG SAINTS marks MARTIN PAPAZIAN’S (Writer/Director/Anthony) debut as a feature director and writer. Inspired by true events, the story centers on a man’s quest for redemption through his compassion and service to an orphaned boy. Previously, Papazian directed the award winning short film In The Wind, about a soldier’s return to Katrina-ravaged New Orleans only to discover the place he grew up in has collapsed in his absence. The film was awarded Best Picture at both the New Orleans and Vail Film Festivals as well as being the official selection of numerous other festivals. In the theater, Martin has directed a wide array of plays in Los Angeles. Notably, the Pulitzer Prize winning drama Topdog/Underdog, The Exonderated, Eric Bogosian’s Pounding Nails Into The Floor With My Forehead, Neil Labute’s Autobahn, and the one woman show You Can Eat Me. Martin joins us to talk about his gritty and moving first feature film.

THE HOUSE I LIVE IN, director Eugene Jarecki

 

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As America remains embroiled in conflict overseas, a less visible war is taking place at home, costing countless lives, destroying families, and inflicting untold damage upon future generations of Americans. In forty years, the War on Drugs has accounted for more than 45 million arrests, made America the world’s largest jailer, and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet for all that, drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available today than ever before.

Filmed in more than twenty states, THE HOUSE I LIVE IN captures heart-wrenching stories from individuals at all levels of America’s War on Drugs. From the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge, the film offers a penetrating look inside America’s longest war—a definitive portrait revealing its profound human rights implications.

Beyond simple misguided policy, the film examines how political and economic corruption have fueled the war for 40 years, despite persistent evidence of its moral, economic, and practical failures. Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki joins us to talk about his remarkable documentary and the future of drug policy in America.

“A masterpiece filled with hope and the potential to effect change.” – Sundance Film Festival

“I’d hate to imply that it’s your civic duty to see The House I Live In, but guess what – it is.” – Ty Burr, The Boston Globe

“The House I Live In will blow your mind.” – Anne Thompson, Indiewire

SMASHED, director James Ponsoldt

 

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Kate and Charlie are a young married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of music, laughter and drinking…especially the drinking. When Kate’s drinking leads her to dangerous places and her job as a school teacher is put into jeopardy, she decides to join AA and get sober.

With the help of her friend and sponsor Jenny, and the vice principal at her school, the awkward, but well intentioned, Mr. Davies, Kate takes steps toward improving her health and life. Sobriety isn’t as easy as Kate had anticipated. Her new lifestyle brings to the surface a troubling relationship with her mother, facing the lies she’s told her employer and calls into question whether or not her relationship with Charlie is built on love or is just boozy diversion from adulthood. Director James Ponsoldt will stop by to talk about the story behind his award winning film.

“Ponsoldt, Paul and Winstead make a remarkably effective team for this film’s points and purposes, and Smashed burns long after it goes down smoothly.”James Rocchi, The Playlist

“Movies about drugs and alcohol might be a dime (bag) a dozen, but James Ponsoldt’s Smashed is so beautifully shot and well acted as to transcend the genre.” – Michael Nordine, Village Voice

THE WAITING ROOM, director Peter Nicks

THE WAITING ROOM uses extraordinary access to go behind the doors of an American public hospital struggling to care for a community of largely uninsured patients. The film – using a blend of cinema verité and characters’ voiceover – offers a raw, intimate, and even uplifting look at how patients, staff and caregivers each cope with disease, bureaucracy and hard choices.

The ER waiting room serves as the grounding point for the film, capturing in vivid detail what it means for millions of Americans to live without health insurance. Young victims of gun violence take their turn alongside artists and small business owners who lack insurance. Steel workers, taxi cab drivers and international asylum seekers crowd the halls. The film weaves the stories of several patients – as well as the hospital staff charged with caring for them – as they cope with the complexity of the nation’s public health care system, while weathering the storm of a national recession. Director Peter Nicks will join us for an in-depth conversation about this ground-zero look at our national health care system.

Of all the memorable films on offer at Silverdocs, the most haunting by far is “The Waiting Room,” Peter Nicks’s engrossing cinema verite film set in the emergency room of the Highland Hospital in Oakland, California.
- Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

“The film’s intimate perspective, that of people who have nowhere else to go, brings seemingly intractable political problem to the social level, rendering it a human problem.”
- Elien Becque, Center for Health Media and Policy at Hunter College

ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare, director Matthew Heineman

 

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ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare tackles one of the most pressing issues of our time: how can we save our badly broken healthcare system?

American healthcare costs are rising so rapidly that they could reach $4.2 trillion annually, roughly 20% of our gross domestic product, within ten years. We spend $300 billion a year on pharmaceutical drugs – almost as much as the rest of the world combined. We pay more, yet our health outcomes are worse. About 65% of Americans are overweight and almost 75% of healthcare spending goes to preventable diseases that are the major causes of disability and death in our society.

The current battle over cost and access does not ultimately address the root of the problem: we have a disease-care system, not a healthcare system. The film examines the powerful forces maintaining the status quo, a medical industry designed for quick fixes rather than prevention, for profit-driven care rather than patient-driven care. Director Matthew Heineman will stop by to talk about the powerful forces impacting real reform for our health care system on this week’s Film School.

“Like a doctor’s carefully structured analysis of a patient’s condition, the film breaks down its massive subject into manageable, clear, but not simplified parts.” – Robert Koelher, Variety

“I saw an extraordinary documentary a few days ago, “Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare.” There’s more money to be made in healing sick people than in keeping them well in the first place.” – Roger Ebert, At the Movies