Friday, March 23, 2018 – I Kill Giants, Director Anders Walter

Barbara Thorson (Madison Wolfe) is your new hero. A quick-witted, sharp- tongued middle-schooler who isn’t afraid of anything. As the only girl in school carrying an ancient Norse warhammer in her purse and killing giants for a living, why wouldn’t she be? I Kill Giants is the sweeping, bittersweet story of a young girl struggling to conquer monsters both real and imagined as her world crumbles at the feet of giants bigger than any one child can handle. Based on the best-selling graphic novel by Joe Kelly. I Kill Giants features terrific performances from Zoe Saldana and Imogen Poots. Academy Award winning director Anders Walter joins us to talk about his clever, creative and emotionally resonant feature film debut.

For news and updates go to: xyzfilms/i-kill-giants

“This intimate story about a troubled 12-year-old who’s on a mission to save her town is virtually tone perfect.” – Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times

“A sweetly imaginative, tenderly played coming of age drama.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International

“The vivid cinematography, affecting performance by Wolfe, and lack of saccharine allow the film to resonate not only with the teen target demographic but older viewers as well.” – James Beradinelli, ReelReviews

“I Kill Giants is a dark piece of work for children, which is far from a bad thing.” – Ann Storm, Film Journal International

Friday, March 23, 2018 – The Peacemaker, Director James Demo

The Peacemaker is an intimate portrait of Padraig O’Malley, an international peacemaker who helps make peace for others but struggles to find it for himself. At the heart of the world’s seminal conflicts is an international peacemaker riddled with internal strife. Padraig O’Malley has made it his life’s work to bring leaders on both sides of the most explosive conflicts to the same table. His innovative behind the-scenes work has established Padraig as a publicly unrecognized but highly influential figure in conflict resolution. Yet, these dramatic undertakings serve as a sharp contrast to the man – an alcoholic bar owner who fails to manage the most basic of personal relationships. His solitary life hangs in a delicate balance, bound together by weekly AA meetings and relentless work. As age takes its toll, he begins to lose his only source of solace and the motivation behind his life’s work comes into question. The Peacemaker plunges us into the depths of the journey of a man utterly defined by conflict. The film takes us from Padraig’s isolated life in Cambridge, Massachusetts to some of the most dangerous crisis zones on Earth – from Northern Ireland to Kosovo, Nigeria to Iraq – as he works a peacemaking model based on his recovery from addiction. We meet Padraig in the third act of his life in a race against time to find some kind of salvation for both the world and himself. Director James Demo joins us to talk about his film and the conflicted man working to resolve turmoil internally and in the world.

For news and updates go to: peacemakermovie.com

Visit The Peacemaker’s Facebook page

THE PEACEMAKER filmmaker James Demo and the film’s subject, Padraig O’Malley, will participate in Q&A’s after the 4:40 PM screenings at the Music Hall on Saturday and Sunday, March 24 and 25.

Awards:

• Jury Award Best Documentary – Cleveland International Film Festival

• Special Jury Award for Vision and Storytelling at the Florida Film Festival

• Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature at the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival

• Service Above Self Award – Chagrin Documentary Film Festival

“The weight of the world is evident in O’Malley’s dour gaze, but it’s clear too, in Demo’s sensitive, piercing portrait, that the endless job he’s carved out for himself is his lifeblood, and its own kind of addiction.” – Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times

“The more we get to know him, the more his core motivation – is he an idealist or something else? – becomes the mystery of the film.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“An intense, intimate portrait of a visionary capable of sophisticated analysis, abrupt anger, self-deprecating wit, and profound insights – all while existing at considerable remove from his fellow man.” – Daphne Howland, Village Voice

“A deeply moving portrait of its truly admirable, complex subject.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

“The movie is a fascinating portrait that is if anything too brief.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times

Friday, March 23, 2018 – Beauty and the Dogs, Director Kaouther Ben Hania

BEAUTY AND THE DOGS tells the harrowing story of Mariam, an attractive young Tunisian woman, starts off the evening in carefree spirits at a student party with her girlfriends, where she meets a handsome young man and goes for a walk with him on the beach in the moonlight. In the next scene, she is seen disheveled, running through the streets at night, flinching at every passing car, with her male companion trailing behind. She has been raped by police officers. But her harrowing ordeal has just begun, as she attempts to find help, report the crime, and seek justice, battling overwhelming obstacles to make those guilty accountable. Employing impressive cinematic techniques and anchored by a fiery tour-de-force performance from newcomer Mariam Al Ferjani, Beauty and the Dogs tells an urgent, unapologetic, and important story head-on. A rare film from a female Tunisian writer and director, Kaouther Ben Hania’s startling drama is a striking critique on a repressive society and a forcefully feminist rallying cry. Director and writer Kaouther Ben Hania stops by to talk about her moving portrait of a woman who slowly but surely comes to grips with her increasingly desperate situation.

 

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For news and updates go to: Beauty and the Dogs site at Oscilloscope Films

Beauty and the Dogs is playing at the NuArt Theatre in Los Angeles beginning Friday, March 23 (check out the Nuart listing)

“Beauty and the Dogs plays like an actual, unending nightmare.”

“A crescendo of humiliation, anxiety and abuse, “Beauty and the Dogs” plays like a horror movie where every choice is a Catch-22 and every door a trap.” – Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times

“Her experience becomes an incendiary account of bureaucracy built to overwhelm, a complex commentary on political capital and how justice for one can be justice for all.” – Jared Mobarak, Film Stage

“It’s not an easy watch. But, with its feminist spin on the continued battle for basic legal rights following the 2011 ousting of Tunisia’s Ben Ali regime, it feels like an important one.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International

“A harrowing and necessary film in only nine shots.” – Boys van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter

Friday, March 16, 2018 – Wild Wild Country, Director Maclain Way and Chapman Way

On a quiet day in 1981, disciples of an obscenely wealthy religious guru named Bhagwan Rajneesh suddenly appear in the small, conservative Oregon town of Antelope, dressed in all red and with portraits of their leader hanging from their necks. This, of course, makes the townsfolk uneasy. The Rajneesh followers spend over $125 million to build Rajneeshpuram, a 64,000-acre utopia, complete with a hospital, schools, restaurants, a shopping mall, and their own airport. The spokesperson for the movement is Ma Anand Sheela, a fearless disciple whose belief in the principles of Rajneesh are only outweighed by her feisty spirit. In order to stack the results of county elections in their favor, the Rajneesh bus thousands of homeless people onto the ranch. When these new recruits are denied voting rights by the state, Rajneesh leaders surreptitiously infect local restaurants with salmonella, resulting in the largest biochemical terrorist attack on U.S. soil. And that’s only the beginning … Directors Maclain and Chapman Way, whose debut documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, return with this riveting six-part docu-series that recounts the amazing true story of a fallen religious movement. They join us to talk about this amazing, riveting and unbelievable story.

 

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For news and updates go to: netflix.com

“Wild Wild Country couldn’t be more timely-even if the particulars of its story are crazily unique to itself.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

“It’s a slice of partially forgotten history in which real life just keeps getting more and more outlandish and implausible.” – Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter

Friday, March 16, 2018 – In the Land of Pomegranates, Hava Kohav Beller

In the Land of Pomegranates is a suspenseful, multi-layered documentary about a group of young people who were born into a violent and insidious ongoing war. They are young Palestinians and Israelis invited to Germany to join a retreat called ‘Vacation From War’ where they live under the same roof and face each other every day. In these highly charged encounters they confront the entrenched myths and grievances that each side has for the other. As they try to gain insight into the seemingly irreconcilable narratives, the paradoxes and contradictions born of legend and history along with passionately held ideals and the daily fight for survival surface. Interwoven into this intense footage, adding context, the film also follows other embattled lives in the Occupied Territories and Israel: a mother and her four children living in the shadow of the wall abutting Gaza; an imprisoned Palestinian and the subsequent path he’s taken; an Israeli survivor of a suicide bombing; and a daring Palestinian mother whose son’s life is saved by an Israeli doctor. They are all caught in the duality of the pomegranate: will they embrace rebirth and each other’s humanity, or will they pull the pin on the grenade? We are joined by the Director Hava Kohav Beller (The Restless Conscience: Resistance to Hitler within Germany 1933-1945) for a conversation on what, if any, options may be available to break the cycle of violence and mistrust for people living in a place where hatred and retribution have been normalized.

For news and updates go to: firstrunfeatures.com/landofpomegranates

“The state of affairs in the Middle East may actually be thornier than it seems from afar: that is the position this brave, intimate perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to take.” – MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Philosopher

“Amidst tense airings of grievances, context is set against beautiful images of the disputed homeland, archival footage, and personal testimonials of clashes and cooperation” – Nora Lee Mandel, Film-Forward

“Sobering. A tough and clear-eyed look at how things are, rather than how we want them to be.” –  Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times

“Hava Kohav Beller’s beautifully shot documentary gives an urgent and very modern new face to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” – New York Magazine

Friday, March 16, 2018 – Finding Your Feet, Director Richard Loncraine

When ‘Lady’ Sandra Abbott (Academy Award nominee Imelda Staunton, Maleficent, Vera Drake) discovers that her husband of forty years (John Sessions) is having an affair with her best friend (Josie Lawrence) she seeks refuge in London with her estranged, older sister Bif (Celia Imrie), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Bridget Jones’ Baby). The two could not be more different – Sandra is a fish out of water next to her outspoken, serial dating, free-spirited sibling. But different is just what Sandra needs at the moment, and she reluctantly lets Bif drag her along to a community dance class, where gradually she starts finding her feet and romance as she meets her sister’s friends, Charlie (Timothy Spall), Jackie (Joanna Lumley) and Ted (David Hayman). Director Richard Loncraine talks about his endearing and touching film about seconds chances and finding love.

 

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

“The cast lend charm to this feel good fairy tale and Celia Imrie is especially good as the inspiring Bif.” – Allan Hunter, Daily Express

“The cinematic equivalent of a pair of comfy slippers. This is a charming, oft-told tale of second chances in life and love, and it is filled with fine performances only let down occasionally by an indulgent run time and some stunted dialogue.” – Linda Maric, HeyUGuys

“It’s about real adults living ordinary, important and sometimes difficult lives. Finding Your Feet is rightly billed as comedy-drama; yet, although it’s full of rib-tickling dialogue, it’s the drama that cuts deep.” – Stephen Romei, The Australian

“Its love-in-later-life insights are well-worn, but with Staunton on song, Richard Loncraine’s film mines genuine feeling.” – James Mottram, Total Film

Thoroughbreds, Director Cory Finley

Childhood friends Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) reconnect in suburban Connecticut after years of growing apart. Lily has turned into a polished, upper-class teenager, with a fancy boarding school on her transcript and a coveted internship on her resume; Amanda has developed a sharp wit and her own particular attitude, but all in the process of becoming a social outcast. Though they initially seem completely at odds, the pair bond over Lily’s contempt for her oppressive stepfather, Mark, and as their friendship grows, they begin to bring out one another’s most destructive tendencies. Their ambitions lead them to hire a local hustler, Tim, and take matters into their own hands to set their lives straight. From first-time writer-director Cory Finley comes a darkly comic psychological thriller exploring friendship, privilege and morality in a rarefied Connecticut setting of sprawling mansions, equestrian stables and elite private schools. Starring Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) and Anton Yelchin (Green Room), in one of his final screen performances, Thoroughbreds takes its cues from classic film noir, locating a deadpan wickedness in the maneuvers of his dual protagonists Amanda and Lily.  Director and writer Cory Finley joins us to talk about his his background as a playwright, adjusting to life on a film set and working with his stellar cast of young actors.

For news and updates go to: focusfeatures.com/thoroughbreds

 

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“It’s a testament to the twisted brilliance of (Cory) Finley’s film that a scumbag drug dealer becomes its moral center.” – Rob Thomas, Capital Times

“Set in the opulent, WASP-y world of teen divas with killer instincts, Cory Finley’s deliciously depraved satire skewers an empathy drain that he sees as sadly emblematic of modern life.” – Peter Travis, Rolling Stone

“Remember the name Cory Finley.” – Peter DeBruge, Variety

“Thoroughbreds was written and directed by first-time filmmaker Cory Finley, and for other amateurs it’s a masterclass in squeezing everything you can out of a small budget.” – Andrew Lapin, NPR

“Thoroughbreds, in other words, has been made with diabolical craft and intelligence, the kind that marks director (Cory) Finley as a major new American talent.” – A.A. Dowd, AV Club

“One of the most assured and impressive American debut movies of the year.” – Oliver Lyttleton, The Playlist

Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes, Dick Cavett

With its upcoming premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes directed by Robert S. Bader tells the extraordinary story of a famous friendship played out before a captivated national audience Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes, directed by Robert S. Bader, shares the rich history of the Muhammed Ali and Dick Cavett’s relationship that spanned decades and late night TV. From his 1960’s Olympic Gold Medal win, the heavyweight championship against Sonny Liston in 1964, to joining the Nation of Islam, refusing induction into the United States Army, and his legendarily epic battles in the ring with Joe Frazier and George Foreman, Muhammad Ali remained a unique and powerful force of nature in our popular culture. More than any sports documentary, this unique film deeply delves into hotly contended political and social matters that remain equally as relevant today. Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes Director Robert S. Bader produced the acclaimed documentaries Dick Cavett’s Watergate and Dick Cavett’s Vietnam for PBS. He is the writer and producer of the Warner Bros. documentary The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk, and the author of Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers on Stage. Legendary television host Dick Cavett joins us to talk about his 53-year relationship with “the greatest of all time,” Muhammad Ali.

 

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Check out the SXSW screening schedule for Ali & Cavett: Tale of the Tapes

Oh Lucy! – Director Atsuko Hirayanagi

Oh Lucy! follows Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima in an Independent Spirit Award-nominated performance), a single, emotionally unfulfilled woman, seemingly stuck with a drab, meaningless life in Tokyo. At least until she’s convinced by her niece, Mika to enroll in an unorthodox English class that requires her to wear a blonde wig and take on an American alter ego named “Lucy.” This new identity awakens something dormant in Setsuko, and she quickly develops romantic feelings for her American instructor, John (Josh Hartnett). When John suddenly disappears from class and Setsuko learns that he and her niece were secretly dating, Setsuko enlists the help of her sister, Ayako and the pair fly halfway across the world to the outskirts of Southern California in search of the runaway couple. In a brave new world of tattoo parlors and seedy motels, family ties and past lives are tested as Setsuko struggles to preserve the dream and promise of “Lucy.” Director Atsuko Hirayanagi (Spirit Award nominee for Best First Feature) joins us for a conversation on the challenges of making her  multi-cultural comedy / drama and working with the film’s Executive Producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.

For news and updates go to: ohlucyfilm.com

 

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“Within the confines of this cross-cultural shaggy-dog tale, Hirayanagi locates both a sharp vein of absurdist comedy and a bitter, melancholy undertow.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“Hirayanagi isn’t selling a packaged idea about what it means to be human; she does something trickier and more honest here, merely by tracing the ordinary absurdities and agonies of one woman’s life.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“Japanese filmmaker Atsuko Hirayanagi explores the transformative power of human connection in Oh Lucy!, a film which seems to play like a standard culture clash comedy but reveals itself to run significantly deeper.” – Nikki Baughan, Screen International

“Expanded from her award-winning short of the same title, Oh Lucy! betrays some rough edges in the transition, but Hirayanagi’s idiosyncratic touch marks her as a talent worth tracking.” – Andrew Barker, Variety

Leaning into the Wind, Director Thomas Riedelsheimer

Sixteen years after the release of the Rivers and Tides Thomas Riedelsheimer returns to work with renown artist Andy Goldsworthy. LEANING INTO THE WIND—ANDY GOLDSWORTHY, The film follows Andy on his exploration of the layers of his world and the impact of the years on himself and his art. As Goldsworthy introduces his own body into the work it becomes at the same time even more fragile and personal and also sterner and tougher, incorporating massive machinery and crews on his bigger projects. LEANING INTO THE WIND subject Andy Goldsworthy makes works of art using the materials and conditions that he encounters wherever he is. Using earth, rocks, leaves, ice, snow, rain, or sunlight, the resulting artworks exist briefly before they are altered and erased by natural processes. He also uses his own body as a medium, as with his Rain Shadows, or through actions such as spitting, throwing, climbing and walking. He has undertaken commissions in the Queensland rainforest, Australia and the New Zealand coast; in Rio de Janeiro, New York City, St Louis, Montreal and San Francisco; in the New Mexico desert, the mountains of central Spain and Haute-Provence, France, and the fells of Cumbria and Dumfriesshire. Goldsworthy has published many books throughout his career, beginning with Rain, sun, snow, mist, calm: Photoworks (1985). Director Thomas Reidelsheimer joins us for a conversation on what inspires Andy Goldsworthy to make his art, what attracts him to the work and why did he return to work with the Andy Goldsworthy 16 years after their first collaboration, Rivers and Tides.

For news and updates go to: leaningintothewindfilm.com

 

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“A nonfiction-focused director and cinematographer frequently attracted to the intersection between artistic expression, nature, and spirituality (however unarticulated), Riedelsheimer is well-matched to Goldsworthy’s methods and interests.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety