In the remarkable documentary Finders KeepersShannon Whisnant has a nose for a bargain. But when he bought a used grill at a North Carolina auction, the severed human foot he found among its ashes was not part of the deal. Soon the gruesome discovery becomes the toast of the infotainment world, and the new owner spies a golden opportunity to cash in on the media frenzy, until struggling addict and amputee John Wood recognizes his missing member and demands his own foot back. This astonishing, stranger-than-fiction tale defies definition because it uniquely traverses the quirks of a small town in the midst of a media phenomenon, while it examines manifold human paradoxes such as greed, ego, familial dysfunction, and that most elusive of all human conditions, redemption. Co-directors Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel joins us for a conversation on their wildly entertaining, and surprisingly touching film.
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“Filmmakers Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel, over the film’s quick 84 minutes, find some humanity and pathos in the story, which eventually takes an unexpectedly heartwarming turn.” – Moira MacDonald, Seattles Times
“This hysterical, insightful and genuinely empathetic documentary could easily prove a specialty hit.” – Andrew Barker· Variety
“This shockingly funny, weirdly touching custody battle is as authentic as the North Carolina vernacular in which it unfolds.” – Jeannette Catsoulis New York Times
“Finders Keepers” is a thorough, frequently hilarious and ultimately touching investigation of a legal dispute between two North Carolina men, each of whom lays claim to severed human foot.” – Michael O’Sullivan Washington Post
Written, produced and directed by Tommy Oliver, inspired by his life growing up in Philadelphia, “1982” depicts the lengths one man will go to save his family. Tim Brown is a devoted family man who has worked hard to provide a good life for his wife Shenae and daughter Maya. But all is threatened when Shenae’s old boyfriend returns from prison and lures her back into a dangerous lifestyle. Though his wife has abandoned him, Tim refuses to give up hope, fighting against impossible odds to bring his family back together in this powerful drama. An official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival, “1982” features an all-star cast including, Hill Harper (“Concussion,” “Limitless”) Sharon Leal (“Dreamgirls”), Bokeem Woodbine (FX’s “Fargo”), La La Anthony (“Power”), Quinton Aaron (“The Blind Side”), introducing Troi Zee, with Wayne Brady and the Oscar® nominated Ruby Dee (Best Supporting Actress, “American Gangster,”) in the final performance of her legendary career. “1982” awards include the Best Film/Audience Awards at the Austin Film Festival and the Pan African Film Festival; Best Ensemble Acting and Best Director Award, Dallas Film Festival; Best Actor, Hill Harper, Santa Barbara Film Festival and First Time Fest NYC; Special Jury Award, First Time Fest, among others. Director Oliver joins us for a conversation on his very personal story and vivid depiction of a man trying desperately to hold on to those he holds dear.
We hope you will join us for this special film, “1982,” during its exclusive engagement at the Laemmle Fine Arts Theater begins February 26th. On Saturday, February 27thTommy Oliver, Hill Harper, and Troi Zee be at the Fine Arts Theatre for a Q&A for the 7:30 and 9:00 PM screenings.
“The biggest takeaway from 1982, writer-director Tommy Oliver’s debut feature film, is that Hill Harper should simply be getting more roles. With a decades-spanning career … the actor and writer has had the fate of many a black actor in Hollywood: steady work, yes but with few opportunities for roles that show off his movie star potential. With 1982 that potential is on full display …” – Indiewire
In the Academy Award nominated short documentary film Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah director Adam Benzine explores the arduous 12-year journey that led to the creation of one of the most important films of our time. Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the release of Shoah — Claude Lanzmann’s nine-and-a-half-hour examination of the Holocaust of European Jews — this documentary reveals for the first time the trials and tribulations the French iconoclast faced. Notably, the film features an array of previously unseen outtake footage that was shot during the creation of Shoah, to illustrate Lanzmann’s journey from the bright-eyed journalist of 1973 to the world-weary auteur of 1985. The outtake footage has been digitally restored and was provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Israel’s Yad Vashem. In addition to exploring the making of Shoah the documentary also reflects on several key points in Lanzmann’s life, including his teenage years fighting in the French resistance, his love affair with Simone de Beauvoir and his deep friendship with Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as his hopes and expectations for the future. Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah is the first major documentary to be made on the life of the 90-year-old auteur. Writer, producer and director British filmmaker and journalist Adam Benzine joins us for an in-depth conversation on the Lanzmann, the remarkable story behind the making of Shoah and the tremendous impact Shoah has had on our collective understanding of Holocaust.
The **2016 Academy Award nominated Best Foreign Language Film is at once blistering and poetic in its examination of the ravages of colonialism and the dark shadow it casts over the South American landscape in EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT. It is director Ciro Guerra third film and the first film shot in the Amazonian rainforest in over 30 years. Filmed in stunning black-and-white, the film centers on Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people, and the two scientists (Evan and Theo, portrayed by Brionne Davis and Jan Bijvoet) who, over the course of 40 years, build a friendship with him. The film was inspired by the real-life journals of two explorers (Theodor Kock-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes) who traveled through the Colombian Amazon during the last century in search of the sacred and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna plant. EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it was awarded the top prize, the CIACE Art Cinema Award, and is Colombia’s official Oscar® entry for Best Foreign Language Film. Director Ciro Guerra and Brionne Davis stop by Film School to talk about the many challenges of filming in the jungles of Brazil and the rewards of shining a spotlight on the brutality of European colonial dominance over indigenous people.
** 2016 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film
* 2016 Spirit Award nominee for Best International Film
“An intense journey and very rewarding visual feast.” Nathaniel Rogers, THE FILM EXPERIENCE
“Shot on sumptuous Super 35, the black and white photography lends itself to the film’s sorrowful ode to a world devastated, but it is the ceaseless teeming life of the soundtrack that transports the audience into the midst of the rainforest.” – Ben Nicholson, CINEVUE
“A visual astonishment… There’s no denying the film’s chastening moral conviction or the transfixing power of its black-and-white imagery.Not just an ethnographic study but also a striking act of cinematic witness.” – Justin Chang, Variety
“‘Embrace of the Serpent’ is simply a work of art, and one of the most singular cinematic experiences you could hope to have in Cannes, or anywhere really. It’s an absorbing, even thrilling head trip. It is a Heart-of-Darkness voyage of discovery. It is a lament for all the lost plants and peoples of the world.” – Jessica Kiang, Indiewire’s “The Playlist”
In the **2016 Academy Award nominated Best Foreign Language film A WAR, company commander Claus M. Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk) and his men are stationed in an Afghan province. Meanwhile, back in Denmark, Claus’ wife Maria (Tuva Novotny) is trying to hold everyday life together with a husband at war and three children who are missing their father. During a routine mission, the soldiers are caught in heavy crossfire and in order to save his men, Claus makes a decision that has grave consequences for not only him, but also for his family back home. Award winning director Tobias Lindholm (A Hijacking, Bodil, The Hunt) and lead actor Pilou Asbaek (A Hijacking, Bodil, Ben-Hur (2016)) join us for an insightful conversation into the brutal and amoral circumstance of an urban war environment that often leaves participants with no right answers.
** 2016 Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film
“Rigorous and engrossing. It scrutinizes the Afghanistan conflict with consummate sensitivity and detail. A particularly gutsy showcase for Pilou Asbæk.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“Tremendous. Beautifully written. The sense of directorial sureness throughout can’t be overstated.” – Jessica Kiang, Indiewire’s “The Playlist”
“The action in “A War” unfolds so spontaneously, and unpredictably, that you share the young soldiers’ sense of danger without realizing it at first.” – The Wall Street Journal
“A tightly-wound, gripping story that evokes the pressures that these men feel and the solid bonds of attachments to their buddies. Few films have done a better job of examining the notion that there is often a difficulty between the law and justice.” – Harvey Karten, Showbiz
This **Academy Award nominated story about the friendship of two boys that is tested to its limits, as they battle for survival during the Kosovo War. Based on true events, SHOK is set during the escalation of the Kosovo War when the country was occupied by Serbia. Two young Kosovan boys, Petrit and Oki, are best friends. After Oki buys a bike, Petrit is desperate to have one of his own. Building a steady network of clients and contacts, Petrit drags Oki into ever more dangerous situations until their lives are put at risk. Oki’s bicycle is taken away by a soldier and given to a Serbian boy instead. Escalating effects of war become even more intense for these boys and their families. And as their relationship is tested to the limits, they encounter the true intentions of the Serbians and learn the meaning of friendship. SHOK is based on true events of the film’s producer/actor Eshref Durmishi – who was a young boy during these tumultuous times in Kosovo. Director – writer Jamie Donoughue and Durmishi join us to talk about the making of this wrenching drama and the lessons learned from years of brutal civil war.
** 2016 Academy Award nominated – Live Action Short Film
The statistics are staggering. One in five women in college are sexually assaulted, yet only a fraction of these crimes are reported, and even fewer result in punishment for the perpetrators. From the intrepid team behind The Invisible War comes The Hunting Ground, a piercing, monumental exposé of rape culture on campuses, poised to light a fire under a national debate. In a tour de force of verité footage, expert insights, and first-person testimonies, The Hunting Ground follows undergraduate rape survivors pursuing both their education and justice, despite ongoing harassment and the devastating toll on them and their families. Scrutinizing the gamut of elite Ivies, state universities, and small colleges, filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering reveal an endemic system of institutional cover-ups, rationalizations, victim-blaming, and denial that creates perfect storm conditions for predators to prey with impunity. Meanwhile, the film captures mavericks Andrea Pino and Annie Clark, survivors who are taking matters into their own hands—ingeniously employing Title IX legal strategy to fight back and sharing their knowledge among a growing, unstoppable network of young women who will no longer be silent. Since the film’s premiere at Sundance, it had been screened at the White House and hundreds of college campuses across the country. The documentary has inspired new laws in New York and California and changes in campus policies.
In this sparkling romance, ALREADY TOMORROW IN HONG KONG, Ruby (Jamie Chung), a Chinese American toy designer from LA, visits Hong Kong for the first time on business. Finding herself stranded, she meets Josh (Bryan Greenberg), an American expat who shows her the city. Meandering through nighttime streets pulsing with energy and possibility, they fall into a winding and carefree conversation, buoyed by an undeniable attraction. As effervescent as a perfect first date, Emily Ting’s charming directorial debut takes full advantage of the chemistry of its leads, the playfulness of their exchanges, and the magical landscape that is Hong Kong at night. Director, writer and producer Emily Ting join us for a conversation on the making of her ode to the beauty of Hong Kong and her inspiration for a dazzling and romantic story.
“Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong channels Before Sunrise in a very good way.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“Ting, to her credit, is more interested in the battle between heart and head, instinct and obligation, than in what follows. [The film] is about ambivalence, not gratification, and is more interesting for it.” – Tom Keogh, Seattle Times
“Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong is welcome proof that they can still make romantic comedies.” – Sherilyn Connelly, Village Voice
“The film is beautifully executed, with gorgeous cinematography and a lovely sense of rhythm, long walking and talking steadicam shots juxtaposed with environment-establishing shots of the nighttime city. The editing, sound design, and music, both diegetic and non, weave together a sensory tapestry of sound and light.” – Katie Walsh, Indiewire
“Ting has a talent for natural dialogue and relatable situations and with a crisp 80 minute runtime, a nice pace as well… a highly enjoyable and impressively put together film.” – CJ Perry, Film Slate
headlines this striking debut feature from Korean-American writer-director Josh Kim. As the now grown Oat, he recalls his childhood experience of trying to rescue his gay older brother Ek from being drafted into military service. As Ek grapples with the gritty realities of life in Bangkok – working at a bar for male hustlers and sex-workers – he has also found love with his more privileged boyfriend Jai. When the moment of truth arrives with the draft lottery these 21-year-olds must draw either a black or a red slip to possibly be conscripted into the armed forces. Director-writer Josh Kim stops by to talk about compassionate and insightful tale on brotherly love.
Thailand’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film to the 2016 Academy Awards
“A winning drama about loss of innocence.” – The Hollywood Reporter
“Deeply felt tale of fraternal bonds splintered by social inequality reps a confident feature-length debut for the Texas-born Kim, who brings both non-native objectivity and a traveler’s eye for geographic detail to the pic’s earthy Bangkok setting.” – Variety
“One of the year’s best Thai movies…heart-warming, bittersweet tale of orphaned brothers growing up.”- The Nation
“The film has an elegiac tone, shot in warm hazy light that captures both Thailand’s vivid natural beauty and its stark poverty… It’s gritty without being exploitative, and as a story that treads a line between incendiary subjects it is admirable in its restraint.” – Eye for Film
HBO documentary Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma is a timely exploration of one of today’s most divisive and pressing issues – the threat posed by homegrown Islamic extremism and the challenges of detecting and countering it. Directed by Emmy® award-winner Greg Barker (HBO’s Manhunt: The Search for Bin Laden), Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma is a gripping, insider’s account of the homegrown terrorist threat in America, told from the perspectives of those who helped construct America’s counter-terrorism machine – as well as those who are its targets. Inspired by the nonfiction book “United States of Jihad:” by Peter Bergen, who also wrote “Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden – from 9/11 to Abbottabad,” which was also the basis for Barker’s Manhunt. Bergen is a print and television journalist who conducted Osama Bin Laden’s first TV interview in 1997, in which he declared war against the United States. A former war correspondent, Barker’s other film includes Koran by Heart and the Emmy® nominated Sergio. He joins us for an in-depth conversation on the many nuanced issues that are in-play for those seeking to prevent and deter attacks on American soil.
Body Team 12 is tasked with collecting the victims at the height of the Ebola outbreak. These body collectors have arguably the most dangerous and gruesome job in the world. The story is told on the ground in Monrovia, Liberia through the eyes of the only female member of the team, Garmai Sumo. A mother and a caretaker, Garmai posesses a certain type of maternal heroism. And through Garmai, we see the heartbreaking, lifesaving work of removing bodies from loved ones in order to halt the transmission of the disease. Director David Darg shot the film himself at great personal risk in an effort to humanize the workers he felt were saving the world. He edited the film while in quarantine upon returning to the United States.
Director David Darg on the making of Body Team 12: “Being on the ground during the height of the viral Ebola outbreak in 2014, I was astonished by the bravery of Liberia’s Ebola body teams, and in particular, Garmai Sumo, the female body collector featured in the film BODY TEAM 12. I was immediately inspired by her – by her fearlessness, determination and love for her community. History is defined by people who stood up against huge odds to fight immense battles. If it was not for the courage of the body teams, the Ebola epidemic would be far worse. Africa, and ultimately the world, owes so much to this small group of brave young Liberians. I hope BODY TEAM 12 earns them gratitude from people all around the globe.”
** 2016 Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary – Short Subject
“… it is Body Team 12 that clutches at the heart. Not only is Sumo a redemptive presence in an apocalyptic moment in her country’s history, but she represents the best in all of us. For that reason, Darg and Mooser might just nab the Oscar.” – Film Journal
“It’s a showcase of the human spirit and a selfless attitude to do what’s necessary for the greater good because today’s generation deserves the chance to have the same future every generation before them had. It’s also a memorial for the nameless and faceless victims… Darg gives them something with his film by immortalizing them through Sumo’s mission. And one day it’ll all be worth it.” – Jared Mubarek
Chau, Beyond the Lines Chau, a teenager living in a Ho Chi Minh care center for children disabled by Agent Orange, battles with the reality of his dream to one day become a professional artist.
Director Courtney Marsh on the making ofChau, Beyond the Lines: “Eight years ago, I traveled to Vietnam with a classmate to make a documentary on the plight of the street kids in Ho Chi Minh City. However, not too long into our trip, we were introduced to a small care center for kids disabled by Agent Orange, tucked away in the back of a maternity hospital. When I entered, something struck deep inside me and I decided to volunteer there for a week, becoming close with the kids almost instantly. I asked them if I could film their lives, and thus, began a two month journey that would span out into my 8-year endeavor. And as I finished this film, what I saw and began to believe was the truth of the unconquerable human spirit. I focused on Chau’s story because of the relentless pursuit for his dream to be an artist. He taught me to hope in a world where, most often than not, there is a lack of such. If we could all look at the larger picture, focus on what we have rather than what we don’t have, perhaps our seemingly impossible dreams would be actually within our reach.” Director Marsh joins us for a conversation on the remarkable spirit of Chau and the impact that Agent Orange has had, and continues to have on the people of Vietnam.