Gideon’s Army, Director Dawn Porter

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Film Independent Spirit Award nominee and winner of a Sundance Film Festival award, GIDEON’S ARMY follows the personal stories of Travis Williams, Brandy Alexander and June Hardwick, three young public defenders who are part of a small group of idealistic lawyers in the Deep South challenging the assumptions that drive a criminal justice system strained to the breaking point. Backed by mentor Jonathan “Rap” Rapping, a charismatic leader who heads the Southern Public Defender Training Center (now known as Gideon’s Promise) they struggle against long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads so common that even the most committed often give up in their first year. Director Dawn Porter joins us to talk about her compelling film and a barely functional judicial system.

For the latest news on Gideon’s Army go to: gideonsarmythefilm.com

“The soldiers of ‘Gideon’s Army,’ Dawn Porter’s stirring debut docu, are public defenders  —  lawyers who dedicate themselves to representing the indigent, and regularly answering the question, ‘How can you defend those people?’ Like the film itself, Porter’s handful of devoted, charismatic attorneys do a righteous job of reminding people that the accused are innocent until proven guilty, and that the criminal justice system seems otherwise disposed.”– Variety

“In this comprehensive revelation of the craziness and dysfunction of the world of public defenders, filmmaker Porter sagely shows us the personal toll it takes on the lawyers. Overall, Gideon’s Army is an eye-opening insight into a judicial hellhole world that ordinary citizens can never imagine.  Throughout the unsung heroism of these three warriors in the legal trenches is fittingly stirred.” – The Hollywood Reporter

“Do yourself a favor and watch this gripping and beautiful film. If the inequitable system to which they have dedicated themselves doesn’t make you proud to be an American, the dramatic stories of these young lawyers will.” – Esquire

The Pretty One, Director Jenee LaMarque

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THE PRETTY ONE is a coming of age comedy about identity and a wallflower who finally learns how to break out of her shell. In a balancing act of a performance, Zoe Kazan portrays twins Laurel and Audrey, most poignantly as a relationship blooms with her new neighbor (Jake Johnson). As Laurel begins to slip into the life she has always wanted but never thought was possible, she must decide between continuing her life as Audrey and revealing herself as the perfect fraud. Written and directed by Jenée LaMarque, THE PRETTY ONE explores a story of identity and loss while maintaining a finely calibrated sense of humor. Director LaMarque joins us for an engaging conversation on the tribulations and triumphs of making of her feature film debut.

For the latest news on The Pretty One go to: theprettyonemovie.com

“Zoe Kazan breathes fresh, exciting life into a tried-and-true high concept, playing opposite herself as twentysomething identical twins in ‘The Pretty One.’”  – Chris Lemire, Rogerebert.com

“Writer/director LaMarque…has a confident voice and she’s a lovely new discovery…She pulls some amazing performances out of these actors and has a real sense for mood, tone and style.” – Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist

“The film is a quiet, tender triumph that leaves you feeling as if you’ve been embraced without you feeling had.” – Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine

35th Anniversary of… The Stunt Man – Director / Writer Richard Rush

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In THE STUNT MAN, Vietnam veteran Cameron (Steve Railsback) is on the run from the police when he stumbles onto the set of a war movie directed by megalomaniac Eli Cross (Peter O’Toole). But when the young fugitive is forced to replace a dead stunt man, he falls in love with the movie’s leading lady (Barbara Hershey) while trying to avoid getting arrested or killed. Is Eli trying to capture Cameron’s death on film? And what happens to a paranoid stunt man when illusion and reality change places? Completed in 1979 but unreleased until 1980, this innovative dramatic comedy/action thriller has become one of the most acclaimed cult hits of our time. Director, writer and Oscar nominated filmmaker Richard Rush joins us for an engaging conversation the challenges of making a movie about making a movie and the rewards of working with one of cinemas all-time greats, Peter O’Toole.

** Landmark Theatres and Reel Talk with Stephen Farber present the Anniversary Classics Series, returning to The Landmark LA on Wednesday, February 19 at 7:00pm with THE STUNT MAN, celebrating the film’s 35th Anniversary, with in person guests director Richard Rush, lead actor Steve Railsback, and others to be announced.

“THE STUNT MAN is a virtuoso piece of kinetic moviemaking.” – Pauline Kael, New York Times

“Richard Rush’s inventive narrative about the blurred lines between movie reality and factual reality is vastly entertaining, boasting Peter O’Toole in a diabolical, delicious Oscar-nominated performance.” – Emanuel Levy

“At the 1980 San Francisco Film Festival, François Truffaut was asked to name his favorite director. He replied, ‘I don’t know his name, but I just saw his picture last night. It’s called The Stunt Man.’” – Mark Bourne, DVD Journal

Visitors – Director Godfrey Reggio

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Thirty years after Koyaanisqatsi, Godfrey Reggio–with the support of Philip Glass and Jon Kane–once again leapfrogs over earth-bound filmmakers and creates another stunning, wordless portrait of modern life. Presented by Steven Soderbergh in Black and White digital 4K projection, VISITORS reveals humanity’s trancelike relationship with technology, which, when commandeered by extreme emotional states, produces massive effects far beyond the human species. The film is visceral, offering the audience an experience beyond information about the moment in which we live. Comprised of only seventy-four shots, VISITORS takes viewers on a journey to the moon and back to confront them with themselves. Director Reggio joins us for an engaging conversation on his brave and challenging new film.

The effect is akin to a mediated staring contest: the film audience looks into the eyes of the individual people on screen, who look back, their expressions changing in slow-motion, as Glass’s minor-key score triggers emotional synapses deep within. – TCha Dunlevy, Montreal Gazette

We see unadorned faces staring at the camera; afternoon shadows moving across a large, institutional-looking building; forlorn images of an abandoned amusement park; the misty, magical quiet of a swamp.– Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

For better or worse, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

Some of what [Godfrey] Reggio is trying to say is obvious, and some is elusive. Either way, the effect is remarkable. – Noel Murray, Dissolve

The word for the film is transfixing. – Stephen Holden, New York Times

For more on Visitors go to: http://visitorsfilm.com/

Oscar Nominated, Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Jack Hall – Director Edgar Barens

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Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall is a moving cinema verité documentary that breaks through the walls of one of Americas oldest maximum security prisons to tell the story of the final months in the life of a terminally ill prisoner, Jack Hall and the hospice volunteers, they themselves prisoners, who care for him. The film draws from footage shot over a six-month period behind the walls of the Iowa State Penitentiary and provides a fascinating and often poignant account of how the hospice experience can profoundly touch even the forsaken lives of the incarcerated.  Director Edgar Barens stops to talk about his moving film and the tens of thousands of Jack Halls that are dying right now in prisons all over the United States.

“The only truly great film in this category… The 2013 Short Documentary you shouldn’t miss. – Salon.com film critic Andrew O’Hehir

“Terribly CAPTIVATING. GALVANIZING. GRIPPING.” “SHOULD WIN” the Academy Award for Best Doc Short Subject. – SLANT Magazine

“The film is most moving as a case study of one man, a decorated WWII vet and German POW who killed his late son’s drug dealer. Hall’s a tough bird and so are the volunteers, convicted murderers all, who care for him in his final illness, but “Prison Terminal” turns out to be a profoundly tender experience.” – Ty Burr, The Boston Globe

For More on Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Jack Hall go to: http://www.prisonterminal.com/

Short Term 12 – Director Destin Cretton

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A 20-something supervising staff member of a foster care facility navigates the troubled waters of that world alongside her co-worker and longtime boyfriend. From writer / director Destin Daniel Cretton’s simple premise comes a complex and nuanced story where no good choice is often the only choice. Funny, moving, surprising and emotional, Short Term 12 director Cretton stops by to talk about the risks and the rewards that come with working on a film that defies easy answers. Nominated for three Film Independent Spirit awards, Short Term 12 continues to resonate with audiences and critics.

“Magical. A shining example of what cinema is all about” – Germain Lussier, Slash Film

Short Term 12” expresses its serious subject matter in a fresh and authentic manner, never relying on the content itself to keep the viewer’s interest but how it unfolds for the audience, anchored to these characters who we grow to deeply care about. In the end, “Short Term 12” is a roller coaster of every emotion, managing to be both heartwarming and heartrending at once. But what a great ride. – Katie Walsh, The Playlist

“Phenomenally moving” – David Edelstein, New York Magazine

 “The performances are outstanding and should be remembered when the time comes to remember who did great things this year. Everyone filling in the tapestry of the film is memorable. This is a film I will remember for a long time.” Fred Topel, Crave Online

Concussion – Director Stacie Passon

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Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and a Film Independent Spirit, Concussion is a poignant sexual examination of Abby Abelman (Robin Weigert, in a star-making, turn), a married and wealthy forty-something lesbian housewife who suffers a blow to the head, only to find herself re-examining every corner of her suburban New Jersey life in an effort to confront a mounting desire for something more. Soon Abby sets in motion a double life as a high-end escort. Palpably sensual and deliciously contained, Concussion is a keen observation of the complicated contours in one woman’s epic mid-life crisis. The film mark the auspicious debut effort from writer-director Stacie Passon.

“Explicitly sexy.” — Screen Daily

“The film is frank in its depiction of sex, with many highly charged erotic scenes… Robin Weigert is spectacular in the film, delivering a performance of intense vulnerability and complete abandon.” — AfterEllen

“Concussion isn’t some sultry, titillating sex-fest, it’s an exploration of not just sexuality and human growth, but… a brilliantly nuanced look at the complications of modern relationships.” — Film Threat

Key to Concussion is the fearless performance of Weigert, best known for playing Calamity Jane on Deadwood.  – Village Voice

Oscar Nominated – The Lady in Number 6 – Director Malcom Clarke

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The Oscar nominated Short Live Action film The Lady in Number 6 is one of the most inspirational and uplifting stories of the year.  As the world’s oldest pianist and holocaust survivor, 109 year-old Alice Herz Sommer shares her views on how to live a long and happy life. She discusses music, laughter and how to remain optimistic come what may. The film features beautiful photographs and rare film footage that truly brings Alice’s extraordinary story to life. The director of The Lady in Number 6, Malcolm Clarke joins us to talk about the remarkable life an times of a gifted artist and resilient human being.

“Herz-Sommer’s story is remarkable. Born in Prague to a family focused on the arts, she recalls, as a child, going for fun walks with her mother’s great friend Franz Kafka — the brilliant existentialist author not necessarily known as being a fun guy — or sitting on the knee of Gustav Mahler, the world-renowned composer and a close acquaintance of her kin. But it was another luminary, classical pianist Artur Schnabel, who encouraged her to pursue a concert career.” –  Bill Brownstein, Montreal Gazette

Oscar Nominated Live Action Short – Cavedigger, Director Jeffrey Karoff

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Ra Paulette has dug 14 caves in the sandstone cliffs of Northern New Mexico Paulette using only hand tools — a pickaxe and wheelbarrow strapped to his back, each project taking months, sometimes years to complete. Paulette digs cathedral-like, ‘eighth wonder of the world’ art. Each creation takes him years to complete, and each is a masterwork. Paulette’s process is wholly intuitive — he creates arches, pillars, rooms, doorways, steps, benches with carving as detailed as a cathedral. But patrons who have commissioned caves have cut off nearly all of his projects due to artistic differences. Paulette is the subject of filmmaker Jeffrey Karoff’s Academy Award nominated Live Action Short, CaveDigger. Director Karoff joins us to talk about the challenges of capturing the Paulette’s particular vision and spectacular works on film.

“Akin to Andy Goldsworthy—who also painstakingly creates fleeting beauty in the wilderness, but mainly reaches his audience through photographs of those creations—Paulette may benefit from being the subject of Jeffrey Karoff‘s intriguing doc portrait.”  – Aaron Hills, Village Voice

For more on Cavedigger news and screenings go to: cavediggerdocumentary.com/

Oscar Nominated Short Films – Animated and Live Action with Carter Pilcher

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Since founding Shorts International in 2000, Carter Pilcher has worked to make his company the world’s leading short movie entertainment company. Shorts International has become the first choice distributor, broadcaster and producer for hundreds of films. Carter has extensive experience in short movie production and short movie entertainment. He is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a member of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch of The US Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) – the guys who pick the Oscars.
 Carter talks to us about the ten wonderful films nominated for the Live Action and Animated Short Film Academy Awards.

“The fact that dedicated committees of conscientious human beings who know a lot about how movies are made weeded through hundreds and hundreds of submissions and picked their favorites … is something to be grateful for.” – Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com

“See them all … You won’t be sorry.” – Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer

“There isn’t a bad film in this bunch …” – Anders Wright, San Diego Union-Tribune

For more on the Oscar nominated Live Action and Animated Short films: oscar.go.com/nominees