Friday, October 18 – Cyrano, My Love, Director Alexis Michalik

In Alexis Michalik’s rousing, re-telling of the story about France’s enduring and iconic dramatist Edmond Rostand is not yet thirty, but he already has two children and a lot of anxieties. He hasn’t written anything for two years. In desperation, he offers the great Constant Coquelin a new play, a heroic comedy, written in verse for the holidays. There is just one problem: the play hasn’t been written yet. Ignoring the whims of the actresses, the demands of his Corsican producers, his wife’s jealousy, his best friend’s relationship problems and the lack of enthusiasm of all those around him, Edmond begins to write the play that nobody believes in. For the time being, he only has the title: ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ Director Alexis Michalik joins us o talk about the recasting of this timeless tale as a peak behind the curtain of a failing playwright’s topsy-turvy effort to bring his tale of unrequited love to life and how his own attempts to bring Edward Rostand’s story to the screen eerily mirrored Cyrano’s author Edward Rostand.

 

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Director’s Statement: Cyrano, My Love is a project that I have had in mind for more than fifteen years. I first came up with the idea for it in 1999 when I saw Shakespeare in Love at the cinema. In this film, Joe Madden, based on real facts, recounted how Shakespeare found inspiration and wrote his greatest masterpiece, Romeo and Juliette, inspired by a beautiful muse despite being crippled by debt. I then asked myself why we had never made a similar film in France. A few years later I came across an information booklet which explained the circumstances surrounding the ‘première’ of Cyrano. I said to myself that it was unbelievable that nobody had ever thought to tell the greatest ‘success story’ of French theater. I realized that the author, Edmond Rostand was just 29 years old when he wrote it. He wrote such a masterpiece before even turning 30! I was astounded! I began to make notes and I went to see Alain Goldman, who encouraged me to write a script. It was around six years ago, and I was only 30 years old. We faced a great deal of struggles, as we couldn’t get financial backing for the film, which was deemed too costly. I was about to give up, when I went to London. And there, incredibly, among the many shows performed there was the theatrical adaptation of Shakespeare in Love! The play was marvelous, and so well received, and this gave me the idea to take up my Cyrano, My Love again, rewrite it for the theater and present it to Alain Goldman. Because the plays Le Porteur d’histoire and Le Cercle des illusionnistes had done quite well, they gave me the go ahead. Despite Cyrano, My Love requiring a significant number of comedians, the Palais Royal theater agreed to host it. The play was so successful that we soon found the budget that we needed to finance the film.Alexis Michalik

For news, updates and screenings go to roadsideattractions.com/cyranomylove

Cyrano, My Love opens on October 18 at the Laemmel Royal Theatre in Los Angeles

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“[A] brisk, funny, sneakily poignant love letter to words, plays, playwrights and actors.” – Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

“… Michalik’s Cyrano, My Love is full of rapid-fire dialogue, engaging performances, and sublime direction, all of which capture the energy of a play on celluloid.” – Douglas Davidson, Elements of Madness

“A film that is completely different, a completely distinct proposal, that also ended up sculpting a respect and a love for the theater.” – Erick Estrada, Cinegarage

“A whimsical, charming and amusing antidote for all of the heavy, downbeat awards films.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru

Friday, October 18 – The Cave, Director Feras Fayyad

Oscar nominee Feras Fayyad (“Last Men in Aleppo”) delivers an unflinching story of the Syrian war with his powerful new documentary, THE CAVE. For besieged civilians, hope and safety lie underground inside the subterranean hospital known as the Cave, where pediatrician and managing physician Dr. Amani Ballor and her colleagues Samaher and Dr. Alaa have claimed their right to work as equals alongside their male counterparts, doing their jobs in a way that would be unthinkable in the oppressively patriarchal culture that exists above. Following the women as they contend with daily bombardments, chronic supply shortages and the ever-present threat of chemical attacks, THE CAVE paints a stirring portrait of courage, resilience and female solidarity. Director and writer Feras Fayyad stops by to talk about the unbelievable courage of the hospital staff led by Dr. Amani Ballor, and the volunteers as they keep an otherwise harrowing day-to-day nightmare from devolving into soul-destroying chaos.

 

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For news, updates and screenings go to: nationalgeographic.com/films/the-cave

The Cave opens on October 18 at the Laemmle Royal Theatre in Los Angeles

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**WINNER – Audience Award – Toronto International Film Festival 2019

**WINNER – Audience Award – Camden International Film Festival 2019

**SPECIAL JURY MENTION – Camden International Film Festival 2019

“Miraculous. A standout. Feras Fayyad’s powerful portrait audaciously puts women’s imperative contribution to survival front and center.” – Tomris Laffly, Variety

“Look no further than The Cave for a portrait of true heroism. Provides astonishingly immediate and gripping footage of the collective effort to survive. The Cave ranks among the best of films to portray the tragedy of the Civil War in Syria and the resilience of the everyday people who keep the spirit of the nation alive.” – Pat Mullen, POV

“Emotionally Moving. Both intensely real and a carefully wrought work of cinema.” – Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter

“Gripping. Unprecedented. A real-time thriller. Fayyad excels at finding small moments that take on poetic resonance.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire

Friday, October 18 – Diego Maradona, Director Asif Kapadia

In this brilliant followup to his award-winning documentaries (SENNA, AMY) DIEGO MARADONA captures the athletic brilliance and maddening duality of a soccer player widely considered to be best player in the world from the moment he burst onto the scene in his native Argentina. And yet success proved elusive. He failed at Barcelona. He was considered a problem player, too interested in partying. Meanwhile, having never won a major tournament, the ailing Italian football giant SSC Napoli were perennial underachievers. Their fanatical support was unequalled in both passion and size. But how they ached for success… On 5th July 1984, Diego Maradona arrived in Naples for a world-record fee and for seven years all hell broke loose. The world’s most celebrated football genius and the most passionate but dangerous city in Europe were a perfect match for each other. Diego Maradona was blessed on the field and treated like a God off it; the charismatic Argentine loved a fight against the odds and led Naples to their first-ever League title. It was the stuff of dreams. But there was a price… Diego could do as he pleased while performing miracles on the pitch, but as time passed, darker days closed in. Italy turned on him. The third film from the Academy Award-winning & multi-BAFTA-winning team behind SENNA and AMY (director Asif Kapadia, producer James Gay-Rees, editor Chris King, composer Antonio Pinto), and also Paul Martin, DIEGO MARADONA was constructed from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage from Maradona’s personal archive. DIEGO MARADONA is crafted in the style of SENNA and AMY. It is the definitive feature documentary on the charismatic enigma that is Maradona. In a city where even the devil would need bodyguards, Diego Maradona became a god. Maradona in Naples is the story of his life, the wild and unforgettable story of an unrivalled talent. He was a rebel, cheat, hero and god. This is a story of glory, despair and betrayal, a tale of corruption and, ultimately, of redemption. Director / Producer Asif Kapadia joins us to talk about the enigma of “Diego” and “Maradona.”

For news, updates and screenings go to:hbo.com/documentaries/diego-maradona

For news, updates and screenings go to: diegomaradona.movie

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Asif Kapadia:

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“MESMERIZING… one of the most colorful and fascinating personalities in all of sports, with a life story bordering on the mythic. You may know outlines of the soccer legend’s life, but there’s no way you won’t learn something from DIEGO MARADONA, Asif Kapadia’s absorbing and exhaustive new film.” – Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press

“a fame-technique movie, measured in crowd roars, off-field revelry, media run-ins, and fan scrums as dizzying accoutrements to success, but also – when Maradona succumbed to scandals surrounding women, an unclaimed son from an affair, cocaine, loyalty, and powerful mob friends – in how those same trappings can suddenly turn vicious, and a hero’s fall can go shockingly unsupported.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

“[Kapadia] has edited cruddy video footage (some of which appears barely more than camcorder-grade) and photographs into a movie so fluid that it moves like a Hollywood production. He also dispenses with much of the filler common to documentaries… It is exhausting and exhilarating, cheap looking and slick, a documentary for Maradona fans but also for many others besides.” – Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

“Asif Kapadia has put together an extraordinarily intimate account of [Diego Maradona’s] rise and fall, enriched by grainy but graphic footage recording every phase of his life.” – Sandra Hall, Sydney Morning Herald

Friday, October 18 – On the President’s Orders, Directors James Jones and Olivier Sarbil

ON THE PRESIDENT’S ORDERS tell the searing story of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody campaign against drug dealers and addicts in the Philippines, told with unprecedented and intimate access to both sides of the war – the Manila police, and an ordinary family from the slum. Shot in the style of a thriller, this observational film combines the look and feel of a narrative feature film with a real life revelatory journalistic investigation into a campaign of killings. The film uncovers a murky world where crime, drugs and politics meet in a deathly embrace – and reveal that although the police have been publicly ordered to stop extra-judicial killings, the deaths continue. Director / Producer James Jones and Director / Cinematographer Olivier Sarbil join us for a conversation on the challenges of gaining access to the police, the victims of police violence and the draconian drug policy being enforced by a dictatorial, human-rights abusing regime.

 

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About the filmmakers:

Director and Producer – James Jones is an award-winning British director who makes documentary films for international television and theatrical release. His documentaries tackle important issues through powerful personal stories told in a filmic style and narrative. He has made films about police shootings in America, suicide in the military, wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and undercover investigations in Saudi Arabia and North Korea. His background in current affairs investigations means the films still have a hard journalistic edge while using the craft techniques of documentary. His films have won two Emmys, three DuPonts, a Grierson, a Rory Peck, a Frontline Club, a Royal Television Society, a Broadcast Award, two Overseas Press Club of America, two Golden Nymphs, and a Venice TV Award, as well as being nominated five times at the BAFTAs. Recently, he co-directed the Emmy-winning Mosul with Olivier Sarbil.

Cinematographer and Director – Olivier Sarbil is an award-winning French documentary director and Emmy-winning cinematographer based in London. Over the past decade, Olivier has covered conflicts and critical social issues across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. With strong visual storytelling, Olivier’s films are intimate and human, conveying emotions through beautiful and cinematic imagery. His work has been recognized with awards from a variety of organizations, including, Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography, DuPont, Royal Television Society, One World Media, Overseas Press Club of America, Broadcast Awards, Bayeux-Calvados for war correspondents (twice), Golden Nymph, Rory Peck, Venice TV Award, Frontline Club, Grand Award and Gold Medal at the New York Festivals International TV & Film. His imagery has also garnered a BAFTA Nomination for Best Cinematography.

For news, updates and screenings go to: onthepresidentsorders.com

ON THE PRESIDENT’S ORDERS Q&A with filmmakers James Jones and Olivier Sarbil will participate following the 7:40 pm show on Friday, 10/18  at the Monica FIlm Center

Social Media:

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“A shockingly alarming investigation produced with the sensibilities of a social realist drama, Sarbil and Jones’ nonfiction warning should petrify U.S. viewers immeasurably.” – Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times

“A wholly cinematic, sensory experience, with straight-ahead reportage electrified by glaring streetlights and a panicked urban wall of sound…” Guy Lodge, Variety

“On the President’s Orders is the disturbing observational documentary we’ve needed about the Philippines drug war, made with finesse and astonishing access.” Musanna Ahmed, Film Inquiry

“A riveting account of the consequences of unfettered demagoguery.” – Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter

Friday, October 11 – GIFT, Director Robin McKenna

Inspired by Lewis Hyde’s beloved classic The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, GIFT is a richly cinematic film, interweaving character‐driven stories. On North America’s Pacific Northwest Coast, a young Indigenous artist and carver undertakes the elaborate preparations for a potlatch – to make a name for himself by giving everything away. In Rome, Italy, a factory occupied by migrant families is transformed into a living museum, protected by a barricade of art : a model of resistance, and an invaluable gift.  In the pirate utopia of Burning Man, a mutant bumblebee art car distributes honey in a post-­apocalyptic desert landscape. Meanwhile, in Auckland, New Zealand, artist Lee Mingwei prepares to launch Sonic Blossom – a “transformative gift” of song. GIFT is a tribute to something that can’t be measured or counted, bought or sold. Exploring the parallels between artists’ work and a gift economy, it’s a reflection on the creative process, the reasons we “labour in service of our gifts”, and a celebration of the imagination. Director Robin McKenna joins us to talk about her beautifully meditative film about paying forward human connection and how communities can re-imagine the meaning of wealth and prosperity.

About the filmmaker: Robin McKenna is director, producer and writer of GIFT, a feature-length documentary and crossmedia project inspired by Lewis Hyde’s classic bestseller The Gift. She is currently making Thanadoula, a short animated documentary fairytale about a real-life “death doula”, in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada – and Medicine, a feature-length documentary over a decade in the making, about ayahuasca, medicine and healing, with Dr. Gabor Maté. She directed Genevieve Bujold: ArtVie, a short film tribute to Bujold on 16mm, for the Governor General’s Awards for the Performing Arts in 2018. Robin grew up in Montréal, and began making films with La course destination monde. Her cinematography credits include City of Borders (Berlinale, Hot Docs 2009) and The Take with Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis (AFI Best Documentary 2004).

 

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For news, updates and screenings go to: giftitforwardproject.com/the-film

GIFT opens at the Laemmle Monica Film Center on Friday, October 11. On Saturday, October 12 John Densmore (The Doors) and director Robin McKenna will participate in a Q&A following the 7:45 pm show.

Social Media:

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“For many people, Gift will live up to its title.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

“Documentarian Robin McKenna’s intelligent and life affirming documentary Gift will make viewers consider how they give, receive, and create art in a fresh, new light.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate

“A documentary showing how art keeps moving in circles of sharing, giving, and generosity.” – Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice

Friday, October 11 – Doubting Thomas, Director Will McFadden

Black babies don’t come from white people. Except this one just did. That’s what Jen (Sarah Butler) tells her husband Tom (Will McFadden). He says he believes her. But soon, amidst a constant barrage of questions from everyone, Tom’s doubts and worst fears take hold. Both new parents are scared by the thoughts entering their minds, and scared to share them with each other. Baby Liam seems to love their dear friend Ron (Jamie Hector) – but why does that make it harder for Tom? And why do people keep confusing Ron for Liam’s father? Maybe because they’re both black. By the time a twist is revealed that could explain the baby’s appearance, it may be too late. Before Tom and Jen can accept their child, they’ll have to accept themselves… or face living their lives apart. Starring Will McFadden, Sarah ButlerJamie HectorRob Belushi, Zach Cregger,  James Morrison,  and Melora Walters. Doubting Thomas, winner of Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Audience Award, Best First Feature, will begin its theatrical run in Los Angeles on Friday, October 11th, ahead of its North American VOD / Digital release on October 15th, 2019 through  Gravitas Ventures.  Will McFadden’s  directorial debut, DOUBTING THOMAS brings unconscious racism home in the innocence of a baby. A complex tale that  touches on institutional    racism and assumed privilege, the concept for the film was born from the true story of a black man killed in police custody in a racially charged incident. That man’s son, Joseph Campbell, shares story by credit with McFadden.  Director / Co-writer / Producer and Lead Actor Will McFadden joins us to talk about his thought provoking drama that raises a multitude of questions about the relevance of family history, trust and race.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: doubtingthomasmovie.com

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“ONE OF THE BEST WRITTEN MOMENTS OF ANY MOVIE ALL YEAR, WHAT IT SAYS ABOUT RACE, PERCEPTION, AND YOUR TRUE SELF IS SINCERE. 10 OUT OF 10.” – Bobby LePire, Film Threat

“DOUBTING THOMAS IS STELLAR IN ALL ASPECTS THANKS TO THE VISION OF HELMER WILL MCFADDEN AND HIS CAST – BRAVO.” – Jason Coleman, Whysoblu

“DOUBTING THOMAS SHOWS US THAT LOVE KNOWS NO BOUNDS.” – Malie Mason, Movie Ranker

Friday, October 4 – Midnight Traveler, Producers Emelie Mahdavian and Su Kim

In 2015, after Hassan Fazili’s documentary Peace in Afghanistan aired on Afghan national television, the Taliban assassinated the film’s main subject and put a price on Fazili’s head. Fearing for their survival, the Fazili family, Nargis, Zahra, and Fatima fled Kabul for Tajikistan. Yet after 14 months spent submitting asylum applications that were rejected again and again, they were deported back to Afghanistan. It was at this juncture that Fazili picked up his cell phone and hit the record button and with that Midnight Traveler began to take shape. Chronicling every step from inside the action, Fazili, his filmmaker wife, and their young daughters trek across Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Serbia—scurrying through perilous landscapes, huddling in freezing forests, cramming into rattling vehicles. As they endure smugglers, gangs, and refugee camps, the camera witnesses not only the danger and desperation but also the exuberance and tenderness of this irresistible, loving family. For Fazili, framing their story becomes an assertion of control, humanity, and self-expression in a situation where none exists. With its radical subjectivity, visceral footage, and poetic form, Midnight Traveler is a migration story like no other. Producer Su Kim and Producer / writer / editor Emilie Mahdavian join us for a look at at Hassan and his remarkably resilient family as they attempt to overcome institutional and deadly political obstacles in their fight for freedom as seen through the eyes of his children, Zahra and Nargis and wife, Fatima. A fight for freedom that they have to win.

 

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For news and updates go to: midnighttraveler.oscilloscope.net

For news and screening information go to: midnighttravelerfilm.com

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*WINNER* SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2019

World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for No Borders

BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019

Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention

100% on Rotten Tomatoes 

“Modest but full of urgency, MIDNIGHT TRAVELER uses the power of smart phones to reveal a migrant family’s search for a safe haven. Gretchen Jude’s percussive, electronic score helps hold it all together. [The film] stands as a family’s joint testimony, heartfelt and heartbreaking, particular yet hauntingly representative.” – Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter

“Has a home-movie quality that’s enormously effective in putting a human face on a global crisis.” – Scott Tobias, Variety

“What makes [the film] so moving, though, is the portrait that Fazili and Hussaini paint of both themselves as full, ungainly people, with flaws and hopes and perfections and their daughters who, in a way, are the stars [of the movie]. A languid, poetic film. [The parents] meditate on family, fear, equality, Islam, and the banality of everyday life. Throughout, though, it is hard not to forget that MIDNIGHT TRAVELER is a film of life or death which the score constantly reminds, and which infuses tensions into the narrative’s nooks and crannies.” – Gary Garrison, The Playlist

“A remarkable achievement…an affecting, essential documentary. The suffering, fear and humiliation that they experience is balanced by moments of warmth and an artist’s magpie eye for unexpected glimpses of beauty…While there have been numerous documentaries which deal with the plight of asylum seekers, there have been few which have shown, with this level of intimacy, the journey of a family from certain danger to an uncertain fate. It’s a film which deserves to be as widely seen as possible.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International

Friday, October 4 – Collisions, Director Richard Levien

COLLISIONS follows the story of a twelve-year-old girl, Itan (Izabella Alvarez), a straight-A-student in San Francisco, who comes home from school to find their family’s furniture up-ended and no trace of her mother, Yoana (Ana de la Reguera), who was detained by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). Child Protective Services dumps Itan and her six-year-old brother Neto (Jason Garcia) with their estranged uncle Evencio (Jesse Garcia), a big rig truck driver. Itan can’t stand him. He’s arrogant, unreliable, and possibly a criminal. After a desperate search, Itan locates Yoana in an immigration detention center in Arizona and convinces Evencio to take them there. They are propelled onto the road in Evencio’s truck, through the maddening labyrinth of immigration detention. Itan fights to free her mother before she is deported. But her mother keeps slipping from her grasp, as she is transferred from prison to prison. Their journey takes them through the deserts of the southern border, to sprawling truck stops, border patrol offices and secret immigration prisons. Director / Producer / Writer / Editor Richard Levien joins us for a conversation on the inspiration for COLLISIONS, his desire to humanize the tragic stories behind the headlines and the corrosive impact that cruel, politically motivated policies can have on the lives of hardworking peoples lives.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: collisionsmovie.com

Opens at Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles – October 4

Friday, October 4 – Collisions, Director Richard Levien

Friday, September 25 – Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, Co-directors Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky

A stunning sensory experience and cinematic meditation on humanity’s massive reengineering of the planet, ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH is a years-in-the-making feature documentary from the award-winning team behind Manufactured Landscapes (2006) and Watermark (2013) and narrated by Alicia Vikander. The film follows the research of an international body of scientists, the Anthropocene Working Group who, after nearly 10 years of research, argue that the Holocene Epoch gave way to the Anthropocene Epoch in the mid-twentieth century as a result of profound and lasting human changes to the Earth. From concrete seawalls in China that now cover 60% of the mainland coast, to the biggest terrestrial machines ever built in Germany, to psychedelic potash mines in Russia’s Ural Mountains, to metal festivals in the closed city of Norilsk, to the devastated Great Barrier Reef in Australia and massive marble quarries in Carrara, the filmmakers have traversed the globe using state of the art camera techniques to document the evidence and experience of human planetary domination. At the intersection of art and science, ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH witnesses a critical moment in our geological history. Co-directors  Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky bring a provocative and unforgettable experience of our species’s ever-expanding breadth and devastating impact. 

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: kinolorber.com/Anthropocene: The Human Epoch

For more information on Anthropocene and filmmakers go to: theanthropocene.org/

For additional information on Jennifer Baichwal at mercuryfilms.ca

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“Astonishment. Pure, lurid, ravishing, genuine astonishment. That is Anthropocene: The Human Epoch.” – Luke Hicks, Nonfics

“The [team’s] latest film is the culmination of a major body of work and it’s as visually stunning and intellectually invigorating as the previous two films are.” – Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

“To say that there are no easy answers to planetary woes is to state the obvious. But the film seeks to reveal rather than lecture, in the hope that our eyes will convince our brains to act before it’s too late.” – Peter Howell, the Toronto Star

“Its cinematography and passion for our planet make a strong case for your attention.” – Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com

“The luminous, terrifying and beautiful documentary “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” feels like the culmination of the life’s work of its three directors… because it chronicles what could be the end of human life on Earth.” – Sean P. Means, The Movie Cricket