The Truffle Hunters – Co-directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw

Deep in the forests of Piedmont, Italy, a handful of men, seventy or eighty years young, hunt for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle—which to date has resisted all of modern science’s efforts at cultivation. They’re guided by a secret culture and training passed down through generations, as well as by the noses of their cherished and expertly-trained dogs. Co-directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw (The Last Race) seamlessly navigates viewers through an enigmatic world where the denizens live a simpler, slower way of life, in harmony with their loyal animals and their picture-perfect land, seemingly straight out of a fairy tale. They’re untethered to cell phone screens or the Internet, opting instead to make their  food and drink by hand and prioritizing in-person connections and community. The demand for white truffles increases year after year, even as the supply decreases. As a result of climate change, deforestation, and the lack of young people taking up the mantle, the truffle hunters’ secrets are more coveted than ever. However, as it soon becomes clear, these aging men may just hold something much more valuable than even this prized delicacy: the secret to a rich and meaningful life. Co-directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw (The Last Race) join us to talk about their immersion into a very closed, arcane multi-tiered society that dates back hundreds of years and the impact that modernity and climate disruption is having on this enchanting corner of the world.

 

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For news, updates and screenings go to: sonyclassics.com/thetrufflehunters

About the filmmakers – Michael Dweck is an award-winning American filmmaker and contemporary visual artist. Best recognized for his evocative narrative photography, Dweck artistically investigates the on-going struggles between identity and adaptation found within endangered societal enclaves. Dweck’s works have been featured in solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries worldwide, and are part of prestigious international art collections, including the archive of the Department of Film at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, where two of his long-form television pieces reside.In his first feature-length film, “The Last Race” (Sundance US Documentary Competition 2018), Dweck extended his exploratory repertoire by combining observational documentary, stylized imagery, and a symphonic merging of motion and sound. Experimenting with both form and subject matter, Dweck highlights the mysterious beauty and exuberant passion shared by the last custodians of a disappearing tradition. Aside from creating an artistic appraisal of class and American identity, Dweck’s film allegorizes the broader, global epidemic wherein handmade objects and ritualistic traditions face extinction at the hands of mass conglomerate takeover. For more go to: michaeldweck.co

About the filmmaker – Gregory Kershaw has worked on narrative and documentary film productions as a producer, cinematographer, and director. Most recently, he was a senior producer at Fusion television where he made environmental documentaries. His work explored the impact of climate change on indigenous populations throughout Latin America in a series of United Nations Foundation funded videos, as well as long form documentaries on the global species extinction crisis featuring environmental luminaries such as Jane Goodall and Sylvia Earle. Gregory is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA film program.

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A scrumptious cinematic journey. Try not to fall hard for the joy it spreads.” – Tomris Laffly, VARIETY

“Gorgeous. Unique. Delightful. Visual Poetry. A fascinating glimpse inside a world of arcane knowledge and the luxury market that feeds off it. A constant feast for the eyes and a nourishment for the soul, giving the illusion of a journey back in time to a pre-technology age of simpler pleasures.” – David Rooney, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“An eccentric world that you have never heard of, never seen…” – Kenneth Turan, LOS ANGELES TIMES

“It’s a sweet and simple movie with a healthy dose of bittersweet wistfulness for a fading world, and it’s beautiful.” – Alissa Wilkinson,Vox

“This is a sensuous plunge into a world that’s built on simple pleasures.” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film

The People vs. Agent Orange – Co-directors Alan Adelson & Kate Taverna

As the latest film from filmmakers Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna lays bares the dioxin-based defoliant, insecticide, Agent Orange catastrophe did not end with the Vietnam War. Today, the world over, a primary chemical of the toxic defoliant controls weeds in farming, forestry, parks, even on children’s playgrounds. Agent Orange wreaks havoc on the human genome, causing deformed births and deadly cancers. After decades of struggle and tragic personal losses, two heroic women are leading a worldwide movement to end the plague and hold the manufacturers accountable. In France, Tran To Nga is suing the American chemical industry for poisoning her in Vietnam. In America, Carol Van Strum exposes the continuing use of toxic herbicides in the Pacific Northwest. Incriminating documents disappear. Activists are threatened. A helicopter technician secretly films the contamination of reservoirs, while a massive industrial cover-up goes on. The People vs. Agent Orange co-directors Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna join us for a conversation on the journey of two women, joned together in their mutual pain, resist intimidation and threats, bringing to light the ongoing, intergenerational catastrophe of chemical warfare and toxic herbicides in the hope of bringing the manufacturers and business related perpetrators to justice.

 

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For news and updates go to: javafilms.film/the-people-vs-agent-orange

Jury Award at Eugene Environmental Film Festival 2020

About the filmmakers: Kate Taverna and Alan Adelson produced and co-­directed In Bed with Ulysses as well as Lodz Ghetto, both of these widely acclaimed films had nationwide theatrical releases. Lodz Ghetto was short-listed for the Best Feature Documentary Oscar. Adelson and Taverna also collaborated on Two Villages in Kosovo, In Bed with Ulysses and Agent Orange: La derniere bataille, an adaptation of The People vs. Agent Orange made for Arte in French and German. Alan Adelson works in both film and print: as a page-one investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal and national magazines he made worldwide headlines exposing the disappearance of enough enriched plutonium to make two Hiroshima-sized bombs. Early in his journalistic career he published investigative articles on the chemical industry. Kate Taverna has edited more than 50 films over her career: Asylum and Killing in the Name were the Academy Award nominees in the Best Short documentary category in 2004 and 2011 respectively. The feature length Pray the Devil Back to Hell won the Best Documentary award at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry won the Audience award at the 2014 Boston Independent Film Festival, released theatrically nationwide and was translated into 22 languages andshown globally on Netflix.Her broadcast editing work has been seen on CBS, IFC, A&E, BBC and PBS, among others. 

Films for Humanity is proud to present the US virtual theatrical release of THE PEOPLE vs AGENT ORANGE, a documentary film by Kate Taverna and Alan Adelson. Winner of the Jury Award at the 2020 Eugene Environmental Film Festival, the film will have a virtual release at the New Plaza Cinema in New York, at Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles and in other cities on March 5, 2021

The Speed Cubers – Director Sue Kim

Shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Documentary Film – Short Form, THE SPEED CUBERS drops us into the frenetic world of Speed Cubing. Cubing is the competitive sport of solving a Rubik’s Cube in mere seconds that has grown into a worldwide phenomenon in recent years. For nearly a decade in the sport, Feliks Zemdegs from Australia, has reigned unchallenged as the king of cubers, the greatest of all time. That is, until now. The cubing world was stunned when an unknown challenger named Max Park from California took home the Gold medal in 2017 and emerged onto the global stage. Since then, Max’s rise to the top has been swift and steady, save for one obstacle in his way: Feliks. The two have been trading wins and world records steadily, neither one able to truly dominate while the other still competes. But rather than developing into a bitter rivalry, Feliks and Max have instead grown their competitive relationship into a tender yet complicated friendship. THE SPEED CUBERS finds Max and Feliks on the threshold of another World Championship, both driven to win but both rooting for each other’s success. Director Sue Kim stops by to talk about her high-energy, and warm-hearted look into the feverishly competitive but refreshingly idyllic world of Speed Cubers.

 

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The Speed Cubers has been Shortlisted for 2021 Oscar® –  Best Documentary – Short Form

Kapaemahu – Co-directors Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hammer and Joe Wilson

Long ago, four extraordinary beings of dual male and female spirit brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii and imbued their powers in four giant boulders. The stones still stand on Waikiki Beach, but the true story behind them has been hidden – until now. Shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Animated Film – Short Form, KAPAEMAHU brings this powerful legend back to life in vivid animation, seen through the eyes of a curious child.  Co-directors, and co-producers Joe Wilson, (Out in the Silence) Dean Hamer (The Science of Desire, The God Gene) and Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu (Leitis in Waiting, Lady Eva) joins us for a conversation on the ways in which indigenous cultures of the Pacific Islands have embraced third-gender (mahu) identities and celebrate the ability and spirit of male and female strengths, as well as the decision to tell the story of Kapaemahu in an animated story format.

For news and updates go to: kapaemahu.com

Kapaemahu has been shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Animated Film – Short Form

Director’s Statement – I am Kanaka — a native person descended from the original inhabitants of the islands of Hawaii.  Our survival as indigenous people depends on our ability to know and practice our cultural traditions, to speak and understand our language, and to feel an authentic connection to our own history. That is why I wanted to make a film about Kapaemahu, and to write and narrate it in Olelo Niihau – the only form of Hawaiian that has been continuously spoken since prior to the arrival of foreigners. It is not enough to study our language in an American classroom, nor to read about our history in an English language textbook. We need to be active participants in telling our own stories in our own way. I am also mahu, which like many indigenous third-gender identities was once respected but is now more often a target for hatred and discrimination. I want our young people to understand that the ability to embrace both the male and female aspects of their spirit is not a weakness but a strength, a reason to rejoice not to fear.  Whether it is protecting Mauna Kea or Kapaemahu, I shall always believe in what historian S. M. Kamakau articulated in 1865 : He makemake ko’u e pololei ka moolelo o ko’u one hanau, aole na ka malihimi e ao ia’u I ka moolelo o ko’u lahui, na’u e ao aku I ka moolelo I ka malihini.  (“I want the history of my homeland to be correct. The foreigner shall not teach me the history of my people, I will teach the foreigner.”) ~ Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu

About the filmmaker – Director, Producer Dean Hamer is a New York Times Book of the Year author, Emmy and GLAAD Media award-winning filmmaker, and National Institutes of Health scientist emeritus with a long history in communicating complex and controversial ideas to diverse publics.  He formed Kanaka Pakipika with partner Joe Wilson and documentary film protagonist Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu to collaborate on an insightful series of films that have opened the eyes of the worlds to the lessons to be learned from Polynesia’s unique approach to diversity and inclusion.  He is currently working on a book and museum exhibition based on Kapaemahu.  Hamer is  the author of several best-selling nonfiction books including “The Science of Desire” and “The God Gene,” has been a consultant for the BBC and Discovery channels, and his research has been featured in Time, Newsweek, and Science magazines and on Frontline and Oprah.

About the filmmaker – Director, ProducerJoe Wilson is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker dedicated to telling stories that emanate from the voices of those on the outside.   His feature and short films combine live action with animation to explore pressing social issues through innovative storytelling.  Wilson’s work has screened and won awards at festivals around the world including Berlin, Toronto and Tribeca, been viewed by millions of viewers on PBS, ARTE and other international broadcasts, and has been supported by Sundance, Ford and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Wilson’s 2010 film Out in the Silence focused on the challenges of LGBT people in rural and small town America and became the centerpiece of a multi-year national campaign to open dialogue and build bridges across socio-political divides. Shortly after, he and partner Dean Hamer began their now decade-long collaboration with Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, first documenting her story in the PBS Independent Lens Audience Award-winner Kumu Hina, then with Hina joining as producer on a series of films about gender diversity in the Pacific, including Leitis in Waiting, Lady Eva, and The RogersKapaemahu is Wilson’s fifth film in collaboration with Hina. Prior to filmmaking, he served as Director of Human Rights at the Public Welfare Foundation and Producer of Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now.

About the filmmaker – Director, Producer, Narrator Hinaleimoana Wong-Kaluis a Native Hawaiian teacher, cultural practitioner and filmmaker who uses digital media to protect and perpetuate indigenous languages and traditions. She began her film work as a protagonist and educational advisor for the award winning films Kumu Hina and A Place in the Middle, and received a National Education Association Human Rights Award, Native Hawaiian Educator of the year and White House Champion of Change Award for the groundbreaking impact campaigns associated with those films. Continuing her journey to the other side of the lens, Kumu Hina produced the PBS/ARTE feature documentary Leitis in Waiting and award-winning short Lady Eva about her transgender sisters in the Kingdom of Tonga. Hina is also a transgender health advocate, burial council chair, candidate for the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and composer of “Ku Haaheo E Kuu Hawaii,” the internationally-known anthem for the protection of Mauna Kea which was honored as Hawaiian Song of the Year in the 2020 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, known as the Hawaiian Grammys.

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Black Holes: The Edge of All We Know – Director Peter Galison

In Peter Galison’s thoroughly entertaining and informative new documentary, Black Hole: The Edge of We Know poses and answers an intriguing question, What can black holes teach us about the boundaries of knowledge? These holes in spacetime are the darkest objects and the brightest—the simplest and the most complex. With unprecedented access, Black Hole: The Edge of All We Know follows two powerhouse collaborations. Stephen Hawking anchors one, striving to show that black holes do not annihilate the past. Another group, working in the world’s highest-altitude observatories, creates an earth-sized telescope to capture the first-ever image of a black hole. Interwoven with other dimensions of exploring black holes, these stories bring us to the pinnacle of humanity’s quest to understand the universe. Director Peter Galison (Secrecy) joins us to talk about the world-wide effort of scientists, mathematicians, engineers, students, teachers and physicists to reach new heights of understanding our universe and the opportunity to showcase the more personal and life-affirming side of the late physicist and deep-thinker Stephen Hawking.

 

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 For news, updates and screenings go to blackholefilm.com

Director’s Statement – “I began filming Black Holes | The Edge of All We Know in the spring of 2016, when five colleagues and I launched the Black Hole Initiative, an interdisciplinary center for the study of black holes. Unlike the many fascinating objects in the sky, black holes have come to be central not only to astronomy, but also to mathematics, physics, and philosophy—not to speak of the way they figure in science fiction, in the art world, and in everyday speech. Two of those co-founders (both key figures in the film) are Sheperd Doeleman, the first director of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), and Andy Strominger, a long-time collaborator with Stephen Hawking. By April 2016, I had begun working as a physicist/philosopher with the EHT— Alongside the scientific work, during the following years, I filmed what became the first of the three strands of Edge: the EHT’s struggle to make the first image of a black hole. The resulting image was released on 10 April 2019 and seen in the following forty-eight hours by several billion people: the most-viewed scientific image in history. Also from 2016-19, I filmed a parallel effort by Hawking and colleagues, as they undertook to make sense of the (theoretical) threat that black holes pose to the very idea of universal physical law. Finally, philosophers reflect on these most mysterious objects: Is knowledge of the interior of a black hole even to be counted as real? Edge weaves these strands (observation, theory, and philosophy) together, all around the theme of what it is possible to know of these darkest, most elusive and mysterious edges of space and time. The goal of the film is not just to popularize already-achieved science results—it is to bring the audience into the all-too human conduct of science, the dynamics of collaboration, the challenges of observing and theorizing, the tantalizing clues to space and time that can be garnered in the making of science at the absolute forefront of what we can understand.” – Peter Galison

About the filmmaker – Peter Galison is a physicist/historian of science/filmmaker at Harvard University. In 1997, he was named a MacArthur Fellow; with his Event Horizon Telescope colleagues, Galison shared in the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for the first image of a black hole. He is a co-founder of the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard, an interdisciplinary center for the study of these most extreme objects. His documentary film (with Pamela Hogan, 2000) probed the moral-political debates over the H-bomb: Ultimate Weapon: The H-bomb Dilemma. He and Robb Moss co-directed Secrecy (2008), on national security secrecy, which premiered at Sundance. The two also co-directed Containment (2015), about the need to guard radioactive materials and warn the 10,000-year future. Galison partnered (as dramaturg) with South African artist William Kentridge on a multi-screen installation, The Refusal of Time (2012) and an associated chamber opera. He is also the author of several books, including Image and Logic; Objectivity; (with L. Daston), and Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps.

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“Peter Galison’s film does a superb job of conveying the life of science – the passion, the wonder, and the comradery forged by a group of people working together to fathom this strange cosmos we live in” – Alan Lightman, writer/physicist, MIT

““You need to watch this space-time bending doc on Apple TV ASAP”” – Inverse

“…explores the many meanings of black holes and that pioneering photo… a symbol of what humanity is capable of when it aims high and works together.” – space.com

“The experience is akin to that of watching a great artist at work … just a healthy respect and an opportunity to forge a human connection.”- Eye for Film

The War and Peace of Tim O’Brien – Director Aaron Matthews

In Aaron Matthews’ clear-eyed look into the life and times of a writer that has been called “the best American writer of his generation,” and our “poet laureate of war” Tim O’Brien. A Vietnam veteran, and National Book Award-winner, O’Brien is one of the great voices in modern American literature. The Library of Congress recently named his groundbreaking novel about the Vietnam War, “The Things They Carried,” one of the 65 most influential books in American history. It’s practically a cliché in the military – the book everyone carries is “The Things They Carried.” But O’Brien hasn’t put pen to paper in nearly two decades. He swore off making sentences when, at a late age, he had his first of two  children. Plus, the nation was waging new wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that he couldn’t wrap his head around – wars that both reconfirmed and upended the notions of war, soldiers, and society that animated his books. Now, Tim O’Brien is trying to write again. He thinks the country is past due for a conversation about war’s impact. He thinks we’re running out of time. And, at age 70, that he is too. THE WAR AND PEACE OF TIM O”BRIEN follows O’Brien on his journey writing his next and last book. What makes wars worth fighting? How do we write about war? What are the obligations of citizens with respect to war?  What are the after-effects of war on individuals and families? Director Aaron Matthews (Token Exchange, The Paper), brings us inside the lives of the O’Brien family with his intimate film about the struggles of a world-renowned war writer illuminates the everyday ties between duty, art, family, and the trauma of war.

 

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

About the filmmaker – Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor: Aaron Matthews is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose films have appeared on national and international television, and at over fifty film festivals around the world. His documentaries include, The Paper, A Panther in Africa, andMy American Girls, all broadcast on PBS’s flagship documentary series POV, or Independent Lens. He has been a Sundance Fellow and has received funding from The Sundance Institute, The Independent Television Service, The New York State Council on the Arts, The Jerome Foundation, The Brooklyn Arts Council, The Puffin Foundation, and Latino Public Broadcasting. Aaron Matthews holds a degree in English literature from Wesleyan University, and lives in Brooklyn. For more about the filmmaker: aaronmatthews.com

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“As O’Brien…pours a little more of himself onto every hard-won page, all I could think to say is “Thank you for your service.”” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

The Vigil – Director Keith Thomas

THE VIGIL, the debut feature film debut of writer and director Keith Thomas is the  accomplished and chilling tale steeped in ancient Jewish lore and demonology. THE VIGIL is supernatural horror film set over the course of a single evening in Brooklyn’s Hasidic Borough Park neighborhood. Low on funds and having recently left his insular religious community, Yakov (Dave Davis) reluctantly accepts an offer from his former rabbi and confidante (Menashe Lustig) to take on the responsibility of an overnight “shomer,” fulfilling the Jewish practice of watching over the body of a deceased community member. Shortly after arriving at the recently departed’s dilapidated house to sit the vigil, Yakov begins to realize that something is very, very wrong. Director Keith Thomas joins us for a conversation on informing his horror film in the iconography and literature of ancient Jewish traditions, finding a perfect location and the importance of finding a lead actor who could embody Yakov’s vulnerabilities and strengths.

 

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For news, updates and screenings go to: ifcfilms.com/films/the-vigil

Director’s Statement – “When I sat down to write the very first draft of THE VIGIL, I knew I wanted to tell a personal story that felt universal. The movie would be very contained and the stakes would, at first glance, seem small – one man, one ritual, and one struggle with a threatening force. But the stories I gravitate towards, the stories I like to tell, are rooted in tangible human experience. One person’s struggle can take on a mythic quality that resonates far more than stories about countries or even worlds at war. All of us have suffered “dark nights of the soul” (likely several times over during the upheaval of the past year) and most of us emerge from those lean and often frightening hours changed – generally for the better but sometimes for the worse. If you’ve come to the movie for a thrill, I hope you enjoy it and it troubles your sleep. If you’ve come to it for a glimpse into a cloistered world few secular people know, I’ll assure you that it is authentic. Regardless of the reason you’re watching THE VIGIL, I hope you find something in our little story that haunts you, that burrows like a splinter in your consciousness and leaves you thinking. Even if it’s just for a few heartbeats.” – Keith Thomas

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“The Vigil is proof that bible-thumping priests and haunted converts can’t have all the spooky fun. The filmmaking maintains its gripping spell all the way through; A remarkable showcase for Dave Davis, who commands every scene.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire

“Get out your tallit, your tefillin and your terrifying visions of a diabolical entity because The Exorcist is coming to Borough Park. A devilish, and very Yiddish, bone-crunching chiller.” – Jordan Mintzner, The Hollywood Reporter

“Cultural context adds to an effectively creepy chiller. Anything might be (and usually is) hiding in the shadows. Davis is excellent.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety

“view[ing] Jewish history and identity through the prism of genre, The Vigil dramatizes the processes by which myth and memory sustain trauma down the generations” – Anton Bitel, Sight and Sound

“Featuring strong performances and excellent effects work, The Vigil is a genuinely creepy debut which explores the ways in which our psychological demons can get their claws into our entire lives.” – Nikki Baughan, Empire Magazine

Little Fish – Director Chad Hartigan

LITTLE FISH, the fourth feature film from director Chad Hartigan, is a romance set in a near-future Seattle teetering on the brink of calamity. The film imagines a world where a pandemic has broken out, that strikes with no rhyme or reason, and causes its victims to lose their memories. This is the world that newlyweds Emma and Jude find themselves in, not long after meeting and falling in love. When Jude contracts the disease, the young couple will do anything to hold onto the memory of their love.  Starring Olivia Cooke (Sound of Metal, Thoroughbreds) as Emma, Jack O’Connell (’71, Starred Up) as Jude, Soko and Raul Castillo, LITTLE FISH, opens in the midst of a global epidemic: Neuroinflammatory Affliction, a severe and rapid Alzheimer’s-like condition in which people’s memories disappear. Couple Jude Williams and Emma Ryerson are grappling with the realities of NIA, interspersed with glimpses from the past as the two meet and their relationship blooms. But as NIA’s grip on society tightens, blurring the lines between the past and the present, it becomes more and more difficult to know what’s true and what’s false. Director Chad Hartigan (Morris From America, This is Martin Bonner) joins us for a conversation on the making of his  subversively sly sci-fi / love story and how the on-screen artistry of the two lead actors helped shape this prescient tale of love in an age of isolation and mistrust.

 

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For news and updates go to: littlefish.movie

About the filmmaker – Writer/director Chad Hartigan is best known for his award-winning feature films THIS IS MARTIN BONNER and MORRIS FROM AMERICA. Hartigan won the John Cassavetes Award at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards, as well as the “Best of NEXT” Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, for THIS IS MARTIN BONNER. Hartigan won the Waldo Scott Screenwriter Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival for his film MORRIS FROM AMERICA. LITTLE FISH marks the third collaboration between childhood friends Hartigan, composer Keegan Dewitt (HEARTS BEAT LOUD) and cinematographer Sean McElwee (THE INCREDIBLE JESSICA JAMES). Based on Aja Gabel’s short story, the film is written by up and coming screenwriter Mattson Tomlin who co-wrote the latest Batman film, THE BATMAN, and wrote the Netflix hit PROJECT POWER.

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“In the midst of a flurry of pandemic-themed media coming out which tries to reflect the [present] situation, LITTLE FISH manages to distinguish itself from the crowd with its brilliant leads and emotional resonance.” – Oluwatayo Adewole, The Spool

“The result is better than smart, it’s stirring. With the NIA pandemic as a pretext, the essential subject becomes memory — its fragility, its wondrousness, its centrality to our existence as sentient beings.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

“Hartigan’s moody evocation of Emma and Jack’s love – and the way in which it, like so much else, is predicated on knowledge of the past – casts a moving spell.” – Nick Schager, Variety

“Chad Hartigan’s Little Fish drips with equal doses of beauty and poignancy – an affecting dive into love and memory, and how it defines who we are.” – Natasha Alvar, Cultured Vultures

Barb and Star go to Vista del Mar – Director Josh Greenbaum

Take a trip and break out of your shell with Barb and Star. From the gals who brought you Bridesmaids (co-stars and co-writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo) comes BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR. Lifelong friends Barb and Star embark on the adventure of a lifetime when they decide to leave their small Midwestern town for the first time…ever. Romance, friendship and a villain’s evil plot…Hold onto your culottes, BARB & STAR is streaming now! Director Josh Greenbaum (Too Funny to Fail, Behind the  Mask, Becoming Bond) joins us for a lively conversation on he became part of  the Trish-a-licious inspired Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo’s project, and finding just the right amount of kitsch, color and culottes to make the funniest magical turtle comedy in the history of cinema.

 

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 For news, updates and screening go to: barbandstar.movie

About the filmmaker – Josh Greenbaum is a Director, Writer and Producer in both film and television. He has won an Emmy Award, an MTV Award, and a CINE Golden Eagle Award. His first feature documentary THE SHORT GAME won the Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival and was acquired by Netflix to launch their Originals film division. His second film BECOMING BOND also won the Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival and was acquired by Hulu as one of their first Original films. His latest film called TOO FUNNY TO FAIL is a Hulu Original Documentary about The Dana Carvey Show, which was the launching ground for then unknowns Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Louis CK, and Charlie Kaufman among others and currently has a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In television, Greenbaum is the creator, Executive Producer, and Director of the Emmy- nominated Hulu Original series BEHIND THE MASK now in its second season, and Executive Producer and Director of the Netflix Original Series THE PLAYBOOK. In addition, Greenbaum has written and directed projects for ABC, CBS, Fox, Comedy Central and the CW, including THE NEW GIRL for Fox, as well as dozens of short films, including one for the Clinton Foundation and Funny or Die starring Matt Damon, Ben Stiller, Kevin Spacey, Sean Penn, Jack Black, Bill Clinton, Kristen Wiig and others. Greenbaum has also directed award-winning commercials for brands such as Dove, Coke, AT&T, ESPN, Burger King, Old Navy, Carhartt, and has directed top name talent such as Daniel Craig, Ben Affleck, Kristen Bell, Matt Damon, including a commercial starring Arnold Schwarzenegger that garnered 20 million hits in less than two days and was awarded the Youtube Ad of the Year. He also recently won a Cannes Lion Award for a campaign he directed for Burger King. Greenbaum is a graduate of Cornell and Oxford Universities and received his MFA in film from the graduate program at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. 

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“To call it a trip is an understatement. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is a tumble down a piña-colada-fuelled rabbit hole. Once through the looking glass, it’s an uncanny but thoroughly enjoyable time.” – Gabriella Geisinger, Digital Spy

“’Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar’ is one of the silliest and most ridiculous films I’ve seen in some time…and I loved every damn moment of it.” – Doug Jamieson, The Jam Report

“Barb & Star is what happens when you let two genius women do whatever they want and what they want happens to be an action comedy set in tourist Florida with two middle-aged women who love culottes at the center.” – Esther Zuckerman, Thrillist

“Brimming with incredible energy and non-stop laughter, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is the movie the entire world needs right now.” – Maxance Vincent, Cultured Vultures

“A tropical blue beacon of absurd joy that has nothing profound to say, and is all the better for it.” – Abby Olcese, Crooked Marquee

Night of the Kings – Director Philippe Lacôte

In the 2021 OSCAR® Shortlisted for Best International Feature Film, NIGHT OF THE KINGS a young man is sent to LA MACA, a prison in the middle of the Ivorian forest ruled by its inmates. As tradition goes with the rising of the red moon, he is designated by the Boss to be the new “Roman” and must tell a story to the other prisoners. Learning what fate awaits him, he begins to narrate the mystical life of the legendary outlaw named Zama King and has no choice but to make his story last until dawn. Director Philippe Lacôte (Chronicles of War in the Ivory Coast, Run) joins us to talk about his searingly dramatic film that feels like part documentary, part narrative as it tracks a story of survival, deception, mythology and the power of storytelling.

 

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For news and updates go to: neonrated.com/films/night-of-the-kings

IN SELECT THEATERS AND VIRTUAL CINEMAS
LAEMMLE VIRTUAL CINEMA in Los Angeles Area

 

About the filmmaker – Writer and Director Philippe Lacote grew up in Abidjan near a movie theater – the “Magic”. His work as a director has taken on several forms, before focusing in 2002 on the recent history of his country with CHRONICLES OF WAR IN THE IVORY COAST, a film on the edge between a documentary and a diary. It is followed by the feature film RUN, the story of a wandering madman, selected in Cannes Un Certain Regard 2014. This selection confirmed his talent as a filmmaker and revealed a new voice from the African continent. NIGHT OF THE KINGS (original title “La Nuit Des Rois”), his second feature, is a dive into the largest prison in West Africa, during a night of red moon.

Nominee – Best International Feature Films – Film Independent Spirit Awards 2021
Nominee – Outstanding International Motion Picture – NAACP Image Awards 2021
One of the Top Five Best International Feature Films – NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW
Winner – Amplify Voices Award – Toronto International Film Festival 2020

96% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A power struggle and a ritual practiced by the collective within a microcosm of society housed under the oppression of the state, and a powerful demonstration of the transporting, and liberating, power of narrative.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

“An assured, energetic piece of epic filmmaking, one that celebrates how storytelling, oration, and folklore teach us about our past so we might change our present.” – Robert Daniels RogerEbert.com

“Philippe Lacôte’s restless film – a rare United States release from Ivory Coast – braids together its struggles for survival to suggest an entire country fighting to emerge.” – Nicolas Rapold, New York Times

“This captivating hybrid of a movie mixes fairy-tale and storytelling elements with a vividly drawn backdrop of heightened realism… and relies on images and sounds as much as the human voice to tell its multiple stories.” – Boyd van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter

Hunger Ward – Director Skye Fitzgerald

Filmed from inside two of the most active therapeutic feeding centers in Yemen, HUNGER WARD documents two female health care workers fighting to thwart the spread of starvation against the backdrop of a forgotten war. HUNGER WARD provides an unflinching portrait of Dr. Aida Al Sadeeq and Nurse Mekkia Mahdi as they try to save the lives of hunger-stricken children within a population on the brink of famine. HUNGER WARD is the third installment of Director Skye Fitzgerald’s Humanitarian Trilogy, focused on the global refugee crisis. The first film, 50 FEET FROM SYRIA focused on doctors working on the Syrian border and was Oscar® shortlisted. The second, LIFEBOAT documents search and rescue operations off the coast of Libya and was nominated for an Academy Award® and national Emmy®. Director Skye Fitzgerald (Lifeboat, 50 Feet from Syria, Finding Face) joins us for a conversation on the making of his 2021 Oscar® Shortlisted Hunger Ward documentary, how little American mass media has talked about the ongoing genocidal war against a defenseless civilian population – done with diplomatic,  political backing by the Trump Administration, as well as, intelligence and logistical support from the US military – and what we can do to stop it.

 

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For news and updates go to: hungerward.org

2021 Oscar® shortlist – Best Documentary (Short form)

About the filmmaker – Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Documentary Branch). Oscar/Emmy/IDA-Nominated Director Skye Fitzgerald is directing The Humanitarian Trilogy: HUNGER WARD (2020) documents the impact of the war and famine in Yemen on children, families, and health care workers. LIFEBOAT (2018) highlights search and rescue operations off the coast of Libya and was nominated for an Academy Award® and national Emmy® award. 50 FEET FROM SYRIA (2015) focuses on doctors working on the Syrian border and was voted onto the Oscar® shortlist. Fitzgerald was also inducted as an honorary member into SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society) for his work with Syrian refugees and named a Distinguished Alumnus at his alma mater EOU for documentary work. As a Fulbright Research Scholar Fitzgerald directed the film Bombhunters and has since worked with the Sundance Institute, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the State Department, the Paul Robeson Fund and Mountainfilm. As a Director of Photography, Fitzgerald lenses work for major clients including Dateline, VICE, Mercy Corps, CNN, the Discovery, Travel, History and Animal Planet Channels. For more on Skye Fitzgerald go to: spinfilm.org

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Critical reactions to Skye Fitzgerald’s work:

“…a rare look inside the human impact of the war in Yemen” – Jane Ferguson – PBS NewsHour

“Once you see it, you won’t forget it.” – Sarah Larson – THE NEW YORKER 

“Fitzgerald has sought to harness this art-form to draw attention those who are struggling to obtain their most basic, fundamental human freedoms. LIFEBOAT…is vitally important.” – US HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION 

“…deftly addresses the most critical humanitarian issue of our time and those who are doing something about it.” – Michael Brody – Programmer Crested Butte FF  

“…visually brutal…a harrowing package.”  – VARIETY  

Do Not Split – Director Anders Hammer

Filmed across an entire year, DO NOT SPLIT takes us within the heart of the 2019 Hong Kong protests, capturing the determination and sacrifices of the city’s youth as their movement becomes symbolic for a generation’s rebellion against the political systems of two governments. Armed with umbrellas, gas masks, social media, and sheer determination, the protestors risk their lives, safety, and futures against the police’s tear gas, armed vehicles, and violence. Anders Hammer’s powerful film paints a nuanced and sobering picture of the challenges faced by the protestors,  joining student leaders and protestors on the ground to give an expansive and first-hand portrait of the unrest that prompted a government’s backlash, the passage of the new Beijing-backed national security law, and captured the attention of the world. Director Anders Hammer joins us to talk about the history of Hong Kong’s relationship to the British empire and the handover to the People’s Republic of China, the 20-year deterioration of civil and political rights as well as the determined bravery of the student led protestors determined to resist the tightening grip of an increasingly oppressive regime.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to andershammer.com

2021 Oscar® shortlist – Best Documentary (Short form)

DO NOT SPLIT premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival; screened at CPH:DOX, Guanajuato International Film Festival, Denver Film Festival, SFFILM’s Doc Stories, Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI, and Indy Shorts International Film Festival; and received the AFI DOCS Short Film Special Jury Prize and Special Jury Recognition for Courage Under Fire at DOC NYC.

About the filmmaker – Anders Hammer has filmed and directed the documentary Do Not Split which takes us within the heart of the Hong Kong protests that started in the summer of 2019. The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and received the Special Jury Prize at AFI DOCS and Special Jury Recognition for Courage under Fire at DOC NYC. Hammer directed the documentary series Our Allies for Field of Vision. He also directed and produced Escape from Syria: Rania’s Odyssey, which was published by The Guardian and won a Webby Award and a One World Media Award for Best Refugee Reporting in 2018. The documentary went viral and gained more than 10 million views and 100,000 shares in social media. Hammer is one of the directors of the documentary  Exit Afghanistan published by Netflix. He has directed seven documentaries for the Norwegian investigative journalism program NRK Brennpunkt and many short documentaries. Hammer lived and worked in Afghanistan for six years and has written four documentary books about the country, one of them together with the Danish author Carsten Jensen. In Norway, where Hammer was born in 1977, he has received the Fritt Ord Award (which is given in support of freedom of expression), the International Reporter’s Journalism Award and the Big Journalist Award.

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“A visually stunning piece of reportage” – Nick Cunningham, BusinessDoc Europe

“A frenetic, urgent look at the protests that have rocked the city since June 2019” – Susannah Gruder, Hyperallergic

A Concerto is a Conversation – Co-directors Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers

The new short subject documentary A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION tells the story of virtuoso jazz pianist and film composer Kris Bowers as he tracks his family’s lineage through his 91-year-old grandfather, Horace Bowers, from Jim Crow Florida to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. In the 13-minute film A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION, Bowers traces the process of breaking into new spaces through generations of sacrifice that came before him, focusing on the story of his grandfather Horace Bowers. As a young man, he left his home in  the Jim Crow South, eventually ending up in Los Angeles. Encountering discrimination at every turn, he and his wife, Alice, nevertheless made a life as business owners. Today, their legacy lives on through their family and community in South Los Angeles, where a stretch of Central Avenue was recently designated Bowers Retail Square — in case any question remained about whether it’s a place they belong. Horace Bowers tells his grandson Kris Bowers,  “Never think that you’re not supposed to be there.” A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION, co-directors Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers join us for a conversation on their deeply personal film, primer on race in Southern California and the power of music and family to help us all see the world beyond ourselves.

 

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For news and updates go to: breakwaterstudios.com/a-concerto-is-a-conversation

Click here to watch: A Concerto is a Conversation

A Concerto is a Conversation has been shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Documentary – Short Form

About the filmmaker – Kristopher Bowers (born 1989) is an American composer and pianist who has composed scores for films, video games, television and documentaries including, “Green Book,” Madden NFL, “Dear White People,” and Kobe Bryant’s “Muse.” He has recorded, performed, and collaborated with the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, and José James. He won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition in 2011 and a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition in 2017 for The Snowy Day. Bowers worked on the score of Ava DuVernay’s Netflix mini-series When They See Us as well as the current Netflix hit Bridgerton. For more go to: krisbowers.com

About the filmmaker – Ben Proudfoot (born 1990) is a Nova Scotia born filmmaker and founder of Breakwater Studios, an emerging leader in the short documentary space. A former sleight of hand magician, Ben has pioneered alternative models of short documentary financing and distribution including noteworthy and award-winning collaborations with The New York Times, Charles Schwab, Annapurna Pictures and the LA Phil, earning him a spot on the 2020 Forbes 30 under 30 list. In addition to his work as an entrepreneur, Ben is an award-winning artist and filmmaker, having directed over fifty noteworthy original short documentaries. Ben’s work as a director has been selected by HotDocs, Sundance, Tribeca and Telluride. He resides in Los Angeles. For more go to: breakwaterstudios.com

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Call Center Blues – Director Geeta Gandbhir

A character-driven, cinematic tale of deportation, migration, displacement and opportunistic capitalism, CALL CENTER BLUES follows four characters as they struggle to make sense of their lives in Tijuana. Each with a vastly different story, they are all linked by their displacement and the sole choice of call center work they have in a country that is so unfamiliar and oftentimes frightening, yet other times a ray of hope. Tijuana becomes their home, a place defined by the border but yet defiant towards it, a no man’s land where everything and everyone feels transient. These characters paint a picture of love, loss and longing – for home, for an American Dream deferred, and for justice. Director Geeta Gandbhir joins us conversation on an aspect of immigration and deportation that is as relevant and heartbreaking as any immigration issue and the importance that an Oscar nomination brings to the issue and the film.

 

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For news annd updates go to: multitudefilms.com/call-center-blues

Shortlisted for 2021 Oscar nomination for Best Documentary (Short Form)

SHORTS SHORTLIST – IDA Documentary Awards 2020
OFFICIAL SELECTION – DOC NYC Short List: Shorts 2020
OFFICIAL SELECTION – SXSW Film Festival 2020
WINNER – Best Documentary Short – Virginia Film Festival 2020
WINNER – Best Documentary Short – Fayetteville Film Festival 2020

About the filmmaker – Geeta Gandbhir is an award-winning director, producer and editor. As director, she won Best Documentary at the News and Doc Emmys for I AM EVIDENCE, an HBO Documentary Film, and Best Government and Politics Documentary for ARMED WITH FAITH, a PBS Documentary film. As editor, she won a Primetime Emmy for Best Editing for Spike Lee’s HBO documentary series WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE and also for the HBO film BY THE PEOPLE, THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA. A documentary film she co-produced, THE SENTENCE, for HBO, also won a Special Jury Primetime Emmy.Other feature docs she co-directed include PRISON DOGS, A JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES: PEACEKEEPERS, and REMEMBERING THE ARTIST: ROBERT DENIRO SR.She created and is co-directing and co-producing a series on race with The New York Times Op-Docs titled “The Conversation” which won the AFI Documentary Film Festival and a MacArthur Grant. She has been the recipient of a Ford Foundation grant, a MacArthur Grant, among others, and in 2017, she was the recipient of Chicken and Eggs prestigious Breakthrough Filmmaker Award.

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Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa – Co-directors Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Mike Attie

At the Philadelphia abortion helpline, counselors arrive each morning to the nonstop ring of calls from women and teens who are seeking to end a pregnancy but can’t afford to. In this short documentary we learn how economic stigma and cruel legislation determines who in America has access to abortion. Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa gives voice to women and teens affected by discriminatory policies like the Hyde Amendment. At the abortion helpline in Philadelphia, phone counselors—all called Lisa—arrive each morning to the nonstop ring of calls from people who are seeking to end a pregnancy . . . and can’t afford to. Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa shares the stories of the callers for whom getting through to the helpline in time can literally be life-changing—for them and their families. Co-directors Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Mike Attie join us for a conversation on the continuing assault on the Constitutionally guaranteed right of women to seek and receive access to safe and legally appropriate health services and how important these privately funded community helplines are to women and their families.

 

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For news and updates go to: abortionhelplinedoc.com

To watch the film go to: vimeo.com/staffpicks

Oscar Shortlisted 2021 Best Documentary (Short Program)

WINNER – Grand Jury Prize, Shorts – AFI DOCS 2020
NOMINEE – Best Short – IDA Awards 2020
SHORTLIST – Shorts – Cinema Eye Honors 2020
FINALIST – ShortList Film Festival 2020

 

The Hyde Amendment – What is the Hyde Amendment and why has its repeal become a litmus test for progressive politicians? In 1976, only three years after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, the Hyde Amendment was enacted with the explicit intention of denying poor individuals—those receiving Medicaid—access to abortion. To learn more about the Hyde Amendment read this or watch this short video.

17 Blocks – Director Davy Rothbart

In 1999, filmmaker Davy Rothbart met Emmanuel Sanford-Durant and his older brother, Smurf, during a pickup basketball game in Southeast Washington, D.C. Davy began filming their lives, and soon the two brothers and other family members began to use the camera themselves. The result is 17 BLOCKS. Made in a unique collaboration with filmmaker and journalist Davy Rothbart, the film focuses on four generations of the Sanford Family, including Emmanuel, a promising student, his brother Smurf, his sister Denice, an aspiring cop, and his mother Cheryl, who must conquer her own demons for her family to prosper. Spanning two decades, 17 BLOCKS illuminates a nation’s ongoing crisis through one family’s raw, stirring, and deeply personal saga. Made from more than 1,000 hours of footage, it all starts on the street where they lived in 1999, 17 blocks behind the U.S. Capitol. Director Davy Rothbart joins us to talk about his profoundly moving gut punch of a film about the lives of a family fighting against the chaos and cruelty of embedded racism, broken social institutions and pervasive violence, all of it happening a little more than a stones throw from the lawmakers who step over their dead bodies on their way to “work”. God help us if you are not moved by this film.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: 17blocksfilm.com

In Virtual Cinemas Starting February 19th, 2021 

Director Davy Rothbart’s team has partnered with organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety and Black Lives Matter D.C. on screenings, and for the film’s national release, presented by MTV Documentary Films. Its national virtual release is set for February 19, 2021, streaming from nearly 100 theaters across the U.S., and viewable on computers, tablets, mobile devices, AppleTV, and Roku.

About the filmmaker – Davy Rothbart is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, bestselling author and journalist, frequent contributor to public radio’s This American Life , and the creator of Found Magazine. Rothbart’s film MEDORA, about a resilient high-school basketball team in a dwindling Indiana town, based on the NewYork Times story by Pulitzer Prize winner John Branch, was Executive Produced by Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci, and premiered at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival. MEDORA later aired on the acclaimed PBS series Independent Lens and won an Emmy Award.  Rothbart previously directed two documentaries about the activist band Rise Against, which became best-selling DVDs in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Sweden. A separate short film featuring Rise Against’s song “Make It Stop” was created for Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project and later won an MTV Music Video Award.  Rothbart’s radio stories featured on This American Life have reached more than 20 million listeners, and his books FOUND and My Heart Is An Idiot have debuted on The New York Times Bestseller List. He has made multiple appearances on The Late Show With David Letterman , been featured on ABC’s 20/20, Last Call with Carson Daly, MSNBC, and NPR’s All Things Considered, and been profiled in The New Yorker and The New York Times. A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Rothbart now lives in Los Angeles, California. 

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“An essential viewing doc about race & class in America… A documentary with Cinema Verite sensibilities and no qualms whatsoever about the honest presentation of its subjects, 17 BLOCKS is both heartbreaking and inspiring.” – Warren Cantrell, The Playlist 

“RAW AND IMMEDIATE… packs a potent emotional punch.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter 

“A remarkably raw and heartfelt piece of filmmaking… At its best, 17 BLOCKS  reminded me of the deep humanism of Steve James’ work.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

“More than just a singular achievement in documentary filmmaking, “17 Blocks” is the result of the Sanford family’s profound act of bravery. – Mark Keizer, Variety

“An absolutely devastating, powerful, and deeply moving film.“ – Tim Cogshell, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

“There’s a searing honesty and immediacy about the footage.” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film

Test Pattern – Director Shatara Michelle

TEST PATTERN follows an interracial couple whose rock-solid relationship is put to the test when Renesha, a Black woman played by Brittany S. Hall, is sexually assaulted. Her white boyfriend Evan (Will Brill) insistently pursues a rape kit and is met with medical and administrative incompetence at every turn. Part psychological horror, part realist drama, TEST PATTERN unfolds against the backdrop of national discussions around inequitable health care and policing, the #MeToo movement, and race in America. The dives into the effects of the systemic factors and social conditioning women face when navigating sex and consent within the American patriarchy, along with exploring institutional racism from a Black female point of view. Director / Producer / Writer Shatara Michelle Ford joins us for a conversation on how this deeply moving personal story came to life through a collaboration with an exceptionally creative and supportive cast and crew and why TEST PATTERN is particularly relevant at a time when many of us are proclaiming Black Lives Matter.

 

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For news and updates go to: kinomarquee.com/Test Pattern

To watch virtually go to: laemmle.com/videos/testpattern

BlackStar Film Festival 2019 – Lionsgate/STARZ Producer Award
New Orleans Film Festival 2019 – Narrative Features Jury Award

 

About the filmmaker – Shatara Michelle Ford is a black American filmmaker born in rural Arkansas and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2010, she received an MFA in Screenwriting from Royal Holloway, University of London. Shatara’s work explores class, power, womanhood, identity, perception and race. Intellectually propelled by the LA Rebellion film movement and stylistically influenced by Neoclassical directors; Shatara’s films feature marginalized characters with rich internal lives that defy dominant stereotypes. Her script, QUEEN ELIZABETH was featured on the 2017 Black List. TEST PATTERN is Shatara’s debut feature film. TEST PATTERN was the 2019 Grand Jury Prize winner at New Orleans Film Festival, and won the Special Jury Prize for Best Feature at Deadcenter Film Festival.

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“A must-see gem… a serious discovery, and the kind of project that should rocket [Ford] (and her stars) to a new level of Hollywood hype.” – KateErbland, Indiewire

“Offers a fresh way of examining sexual assault and its aftermath on screen, one that feels just as emblematic of its moment as Thelma & Louise.” – Soraya Nadia McDonald, Film Comment

“A searing, yet nuanced, interrogation of the racism and sexism baked into our society at every level… Strikingly punctuates the detachment of realist drama with the expressionism of psychological horror.” – William Repass, Slant Magazine

“A slow burn movie done right… with brilliant performances by Hall and Brill.” – Cal Gesner, Film Snob Reviews

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair – Director Jane Schoenbrun and Actor Anna Cobb

How to take the World’s Fair Challenge: Say the words “I want to go to the World’s Fair. I want to go to the World’s Fair. I want to go to the World’s Fair.” into your computer camera. Prick your finger, draw some blood and smear it on the screen. Now press play on the video. They say that once you’ve seen it, the changes begin…  In a small town, a shy and isolated teenage girl (Anna Cobb in a stunning feature debut) becomes immersed in an online role-playing game. Late on a cold night somewhere in America, teenage Casey sits alone in her attic bedroom, scrolling the internet under the glow-in-the-dark stars and black-light posters that blanket the ceiling. She has finally decided to take the World’s Fair Challenge, an online role-playing horror game, and embrace the uncertainty it promises. After the initiation, she documents the changes that may or may not be happening to her, adding her experiences to the shuffle of online clips available for the world to see. As she begins to lose herself between dream and reality, a mysterious figure reaches out, claiming to see something special in her uploads. Director Jane Schoenbrun and lead actor Anna Cobb join us for a conversation on the making of this jarring, mind bending and strangely empowering tale of a young woman determined to challenge boundaries.

 

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For more go to: fliescollective.com/were-all-going-to-the-worlds-fair

About the filmmaker – Jane Schoenbrun is a non-binary filmmaker who co-created ongoing touring variety series “The Eyeslicer,” which has screened in hundreds of venues across the world, including MoMA, the Tribeca Film Festival, and Kansas City’s oldest porn theater. In 2018, they created the Radical Film Fair, a film flea market and mentorship event that drew thousands of attendees. Schoenbrun is the director of feature documentary “A Self-Induced Hallucination,” producer on Aaron Schimberg’s “Chained for Life” an EP on season one of Terence Nance’s “Random Acts of Flyness,” and creator of the omnibus “dream film” “collective:unconscious. “We’re All Going to the World’s Fair” is premiering at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival

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88% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Schoenbrun’s debut is one of the only American films that really excited me, in both ideas and film form, at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.” – Orla Smith, Seventh Row

“None of the formal inventiveness would work if it wasn’t grounded by a real person at its center. This may be her first feature, but [Anna Cobb] brings an immense amount of nuance to each moment.” – Drew Gregory, Autostraddle

“It’s a strong debut for both Schoenbrun and Cobb, capturing a profound sense of contemporary adolescent loneliness that many artists have tried (and failed) to portray on screen.” – Hannah Woodhead, Little White Lies

“This is a film of great and grand expression, transforming and challenging our own ideas and beliefs of art, of ourselves, and of others.” – Bill Arceneaux, Of Those Who

“Cobb and Michael J. Rogers both deliver haunting performances here. Cobb introduces enough vulnerability in the beginning to make her slow transformation into someone almost unrecognizable all the more terrifying.” – Alysha Prasad, One Room With A View

Days of the Bagnold Summers – Director Simon Bird

Based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel, DAYS OF THE BAGNOLD SUMMER is a funny yet sweet coming-of-age story about single motherhood and Metallica. Daniel (Earl Cave) was supposed to spend the summer with his dad and his dad’s new wife in Florida, but when his dad cancels the trip Daniel and his mom, Sue, (Monica Dolan) suddenly face the prospect of six long weeks together. An epic war of wills ensues in their suburban home as Daniel just wants to listen to heavy metal and start a band while his mom hopes to rekindle the fun times they used to have together. Featuring original songs by Belle and Sebastian. Director Simon Bird joins us for a conversation on his beautifully rendered tale of a sullen, insecure teen and his effervescent single mom doing her best to keep moving forward in a world that is pelting her with cheap shots and exasperating insults. 

 

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For news and updates go to: days-of-the-bagnold-summer

About the filmmaker – Director Simon Bird’s first short film, Ernestine and Kit, premiered at South By Southwest, and was nominated for Best Short at the Irish Film and Television Awards. Previously, Simon has worked as a stand-up comedian, writer, producer, and actor. As a writer, he created The King Is Dead for the BBC and co-created Chickens for Sky, which was nominated for Best Sitcom at the Broadcast Awards. As a producer, he set up Guilty Party Pictures, a TV and film production company backed by RED and Studiocanal. Guilty Party has produced content for Channel 4, Sky and the BBC, and recently wrapped on How Europe Stole My Mum, an original TV show for Channel 4, to air later this year.  As an actor, Simon has starred in five series of Rose D’Or-winning sitcom Friday Night Dinner. The sixth series shoots later this year. He is perhaps best known as Will McKenzie from Channel 4’s BAFTA-winning sitcom THE INBETWEENERS, THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE, which is the highest-grossing comedy film ever in the UK, and THE INBETWEENERS 2, which had the highest-grossing opening weekend of any film in the UK in 2014. Simon has won multiple British Comedy Awards and been nominated for a BAFTA and Royal Television Society award for acting. 

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90% on Rotten Tomatoes

“[A] funny, acerbic, yet surprisingly tender film…” – Mark Kermode, Observer (UK)

“Bird and writer Lisa Owens manage not only to mine repeated laughs from their basic gag – metal mayhem in Hornchurch Drive – but to do so sweetly rather than tweely.” – Danny Leigh, Financial Times

“An unexpectedly gentle and pensive portrait of a strained relationship between a mother and a son.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International

“Far closer in spirit to the lighter works of Mike Leigh than the broader material that made him a well known figure in British comedy, Bird’s debut is innately humanistic, with cross-generational appeal.” – Alistair Ryder, Film Inquiry

A Glitch in the Matrix – Director Rodney Ascher

A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX ask the question, what if we are living in a simulation, and the world as we know it is not real? To tackle this mind-bending idea, acclaimed filmmaker Rodney Ascher (ROOM 237, THE NIGHTMARE) uses a noted speech from Philip K. Dick to dive down the rabbit hole of science, philosophy, and conspiracy theory. Leaving no stone unturned in exploring the unprovable, the film uses contemporary cultural touchstones like THE MATRIX, interviews with real people shrouded in digital avatars, and a wide array of voices, expert and amateur alike. If simulation theory is not science fiction but fact, and life is a video game being played by some unknowable entity, then who are we, really? A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX attempts to find out. The film introduces us to a handful of real-world testifiers who are certain that their bodies and minds are being operated by some external game-player. Ascher, as ever an inviting, curious questioner (never one who mocks), brings a wealth of cultural and intellectual context to his latest exploration, from the videotaped musings of paranoid sci-fi giant Philip K. Dick to clips of Keanu Reeves in The Matrix and a host of bespoke animated re-creations that give eerie credence to the most outré of notions. Director Rodney Ascher joins us to talk about his paranoia-inducing, exhilarating and definitive introduction to a subject that, subscribe to it or not, involves us all.

 

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For news and updates go to: aglitchinthematrixfilm.com

About the filmmaker – RODNEY ASCHER (Director, Editor, and Executive Producer) RODNEY ASCHER is a filmmaker known for creating documentaries that explore the subjective experience, freely appropriating the vocabularies of genre, experimental, and found-footage films along the way. His first feature, 2012’s ROOM 237 looked at The Shining through the eyes of five very different people. He visualized their wildly different interpretations of Kubrick’s classic by juxtaposing excerpts of the film with everything from Murnau’s Faust to the cover of the January 1978 issue of Playgirl magazine creating a trip down the rabbit hole. His follow up, THE NIGHTMARE was called “The Scariest Movie of the decade.” Creatively, the film completely changed tactics from Room 237’s archival-driven montage. To visualize real people’s seemingly supernatural experiences during bouts of ‘sleep paralysis’ his team filmed interviews at night in the subjects’ own bedrooms and created stylized re-enactments inspired by the interviewees’ drawings and his own personal memories of a visitation by a ‘shadowman.’ Like Room 237, it premiered at Sundance before traveling around the world including an Imax screening in Moscow. A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX is his most ambitious film yet, using multiple styles of 3D animation to illustrate the experiences and philosophies of people who suspect the world itself is not quite real.

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“A Glitch in the Matrix becomes not about whether we’re living in a simulation but about the many understandable reasons someone may think this. In effect, it winds up being about the mysteries of the human experience.” – Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture

“’A Glitch in the Matrix’ goes for the head by way of the heart, or maybe vice versa. Superb and startling, breathtaking and compassionate.” – Bill Arceneaux, Of Those Who

“A compellingly out-there look at the possibility that we’re all avatars in a game we can’t comprehend.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

“Ascher’s appropriately discombobulating stew of queasiness, comedy, and terror seems well-cued to the subject matter, even while missing a certain editorial sharpness that might have brought some of its notions into greater clarity.” – Chris Barsanti, The Playlist

“While Ascher casts a wide net, “A Glitch in the Matrix” works quite well as an overview of the various epistemological questions it raises.” – Eric Kohn, indieWire

Windup – Director Yibing Jiang and Artistic Director Glenn Keane

The animated short film based on her own childhood experience in Wuhan China, WINDUP, tells the story of a father trying to stay connected with his unconscious daughter through music. He plays a windup music box and hopes she can hear it while fighting with his own emotions to stay strong. Meanwhile, his daughter follows the melody in her dreams and looks for a way back. WINDUP is a nine-minute animated short written and directed by an emerging female Chinese filmmaker Yibing Jiang, and Animation Director Jason Keane. Keane has a long family legacy in animation, which includes, his grandfather Bill Keane (Family Circus comics) and his uncles Jeff Keane; and Glenn Keane, (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan, and Tangled). WINDUP was also a collaboration with artists working remotely from around the world, created in real-time with Unity. At a time when we are feeling isolated, craving connection and preoccupied with the health and well-being of loved ones, the theme of the film is an uplifting and universal one that highlights the fragile nature of life, love, resiliency and the healing power of music, told through the eyes of a father and the special bond he shares with his ailing young daughter. Director Yibing Jiang and Artistic Director Jason Keane stop by to talk about their work and vision for this heartwarming and beautiful animated film.

 

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To find out more or to watch go to: unity.com/demos/windup

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The Friendliest Town – Director Stephen Janis and Subject Kelvin Sewell

THE FRIENDLIEST TOWN chronicles a startling tale of institutionalized racism working against the dedicated efforts of the first African American Police Chief, Kelvin Sewell in the small town of Pocomoke on Maryland’s lower Eastern Shore. The national debate over policing generally misses a critical point: how embedded law enforcement is in the political power structure of this country. Historically this has situated law enforcement at a critical juncture in conflicts regarding race, equity, and politics. This complex story made national news and shines spotlight on the insidious racism often just under the surface. Since the death of George Floyd at the hands of police, calls for substantive reform of law enforcement have launched an intense national debate. But an effort by veteran African American officer, Kelvin Sewell to implement community policing in the small racially divided town of Pocomoke is a cautionary tale on limits both to reforms and how racism may be the biggest obstacle to change. THE FRIENDLIEST TOWN is the directorial debut from award winning journalist and author Stephen Janis. Produced by award winning journalists Taya Graham and Janis (hosts of TRNN’s Police Accountability Report, and producers and co-creators of the award-winning podcast Truth and Reconciliation on Baltimore’s NPR affiliate WYPR). Director Stephen Janis and Subject Kelvin Sewell join us to talk about the many twists and turns this saga has taken over the last 6 years and why Sewell’s particular story is a clarion call for reforming law enforcement and criminal justice at every level of government.

 

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For more on the work of Stephen Janis and Taya Graham go to: therealnews.com/police-accountability-report

Gravitas Ventures has released The Friendliest Town across North America (the United States and Canada) on all VOD/Digital & Blu-Ray/DVD platforms. 

“This is a film steeped in social justice, empowerment and the promise of societal change.” – David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun

Anatomy of Wings – Co-directors Kirsten D’Andrea Hollander and Nikiea Redmond

ANATOMY OF WINGS is the direct result of an after-school film project, where ten Black middle school girls gathered each week to collaborate with their Black and white mentors on a feature-length documentary about their own coming-of-age in Baltimore City. Weeks turn into years. Then, shortly before the girls’ high school graduations, a sea of misunderstanding arises about what’s to come. This self-defined ‘second family’ is left to question if their solidarity will survive the realities of living in a world of racial inequity.WINGS mentors created a safe space for the girls to practice filmmaking and share life experiences, questions and  personal moments such as proms, first time gynecologist visits and accomplishments. Their lives in Baltimore reflected their corresponding community and, once in high school, the girls began inviting their best friends to join the program. The result: we became a group of 10. What began as a videography program evolved into a powerful space of sharing for ten years, where ten girls, mentors, professors and college students at MICA created a family. The co-directors Kirsten D’Andrea Hollander and Nikiea Redmond join us for a conversation on the power of storytelling, especially for young women of color, living in a community bereft of opportunity can be a powerful and unmistakable call to arms for real social change.

 

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For news and updates go to: anatomyofwings.com

Watch Anatomy of Wings, premiering at the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival

About the filmmaker – Kirsten D’Andrea Hollander is a full-time professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where she currently directs the MFA Filmmaking program. Equipped with an undergraduate degree in Painting from MICA in 1988, she turned to documentary filmmaking after receiving an MFA in Imaging and Digital Arts from UMBC in 1997. Having taught in higher education for 22 years, Hollander explored how the camcorder can be a collaborative tool to bear witness. In 2008 she launched the ‘Wings Video Skills After School Program for Girls’ and the recently completed ‘Anatomy of Wings’ feature length documentary. In 2011 Hollander was selected for an Independent Filmmaker Project Fellowship to launch her first feature length documentary, ‘Us, Naked: Trixie & Monkey’, which premiered with the DOC NYC film festival in 2014. In 2015, ‘Us, Naked: Trixie & Monkey’ received Best International Feature Length Documentary at the Netherland’s DOCfeed Film Festival and Best Feature Length Documentary at New York’s Coney Island Film Festival. The film went into international distribution with Random Media/The Orchard in 2017. Hollander lives in Baltimore City with her husband, son, and two silly dogs. 

About the filmmaker – Nikiea Redmond received her Bachelors in Corporate Communication from the University of Baltimore in 2011. Growing up in East Baltimore Redmond became a mentor to the youth coming-of-age around her. Being a child in Baltimore’s impoverished neighborhoods, researching the history of slavery in her family, traveling with Freedom Schools focused on teaching African history – and working professionally in the public-school system has provided Redmond with the experience to tell the ‘Anatomy of Wings’ story with a direct understanding of societal makeups and the human rights she wishes to see in the world. Additionally, Redmond serves as a liaison bringing together political organizations, community groups and stakeholders in East Baltimore. The Afro-American Newspaper presented Redmond with the ‘Sam Lacy Award for Youth Leadership’ in 2004. She is also a 2015 recipient of the ‘Black Wall Street Journal Award’ for her work in Baltimore City. 

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Riding the Rails, Co-director Michael Uys (Lexy Lovell)

RIDING THE RAILS recalls the poignant and little-known story of teen hobos during the 1930s, a time of desperation and bitter hardship. These young itinerant Americans were all searching for a better life; what they found was a mixture of freedom, camaraderie, misery, and loneliness. RIDING THE RAILS interweaves the evocative stories of ten men and women who left home in their youth. Producers Michael Uys and Lexy Lovell placed notices in national publications in search of individuals who rode the rails as teenagers. Three thousand people, now in their 70s and 80s, responded. Uys and Lovell selected a handful to tell their stories on camera. “Some hadn’t spoken of their experiences in sixty years. They poured their hearts out to us,” says Uys. “They were just kids then and when they look back, it’s with a blend of nostalgia and pain.” RIDING THE RAILS vividly combines the clear-eyed memories of witnesses with archival footage of teens riding atop speeding trains and newsreel interviews with lean-bodied kids full of bravado. RIDING THE RAILS features a rich soundtrack of American folk tunes of the time, including songs by Woody Guthrie, Elizabeth Cotten, Doc Watson, and Jimmie Rodgers. RIDING THE RAILS co-director and co-producer Michael Uys joins us to talk about a misunderstood era in our nation’s history, and his recollection on the making of a still relevant documentary classic. 

 

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For more go to: pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/rails

For more about the film go to: ridingtherails-themovie.com

For more about Michael Uys go to: erroluys.com

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“I think it’s wonderful. I really think it’s very moving and beautiful, and I think it’s important. Riding the Rails is a natural. I’m astonished that it hasn’t been done through all these years. It’s one of the vital, terribly unreported sagas of the thirties. With today’s homeless kids, it’s a contemporary story of overwhelming importance. The analogy may awaken a public conscience that has been too long asleep. I thank you for making this movie. It’s terrific.” – Studs Terkel

“Excellent! Not only fascinating history, but it is poignant and evocative on an emotional level as well.” – Kenneth Turan,  Los Angeles Times

“Moving and informative, this is a winning documentary… From the sad and stirring folk songs on the sound track to the unforgettable faces and stories, Riding the Rails is a historical journey well worth taking.” – David Hunter,  The Hollywood Reporter

“As straightforward as a stretch of prairieland track, Riding the Rails succeeds on all counts. These stories — the sharecropper’s son who was a financial burden to his family, the French boy beaten by his parents, the kid who wanted to see America and play the guitar, the girl who stormed out of the house after a fight with her dad — are fascinating character studies. Taken as a whole, they depict a time when rampant poverty and desperation forced thousands of youths into the itinerant life, begging for change and food, sleeping in hobo encampments and hoping for a better tomorrow.” – Steven Rea,  The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Toxic Pigs of Fukushima – Director Otto Bell

THE TOXIC PIGS OF FUKUSHIMA follows a lone hunter into an isolated and changed landscape. Along the way, other citizens who still live near the reactor share their perspectives on the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 triggered a tsunami, nuclear meltdown and mass evacuations in Fukushima Prefecture. Today, as part of a Government push to encourage resettlement, local hunters have been enlisted to dispose of radiated Wild Boars that now roam the abandoned streets and buildings. THE TOXIC PIGS OF FUKUSHIMA focuses on the people who still live near the reactor share their perspectives on the aftermath. Along the way, other citizens who still live near the reactor share their perspectives on the aftermath. THE TOXIC PIGS OF FUKUSHIMA was inspired by the photographs of co-producers Toru Hanai and Yuki Iwanami. The original score was written and performed by renowned ambient artist Midori Takada. Directed by Otto Bell (The Eagle Huntress) THE TOXIC PIGS OF FUKUSHIMA has been acquired by VICE and will be featured in “The Short List with Suroosh Alvi,” an upcoming series from VICE World News. The Short List is a collection of the world’s best documentaries curated by VICE founder Suroosh Alvi.

 

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Watch The Toxic Pigs of Fukushima

**Top 10 short docs of the year from Cinema Eye**
**Official Selection – Telluride Film Festival 2020**
**WINNER – Rhode Island International Film Festival 2020 – Grand Prize, Green Planet Award
**Official Selection – Docs Without Borders Film Festival 2020
**Official Selection – Montclair Film Festival 2020
**Official Selection – St Louis Film Festival 2020
**WINNER – Thomas Edison – Black Maria Film Festival 2021
**Official Selection – Big Sky Film Festival 2021

 

About the filmmaker – Otto Bell runs Courageous, a commercial studio of filmmakers and designers based in New York. He has directed over fifteen documentary films as far afield as Uganda, Japan, Egypt and Vietnam for brands such as IBM and Philips. During a decade in the industry, he has also created and produced multi-award winning world affairs programming such as “Horizons” on BBC World News and “Shunya” on Times Now of India. Otto is a graduate of Oxford University and the prestigious WPP Fellowship Scheme. He lives in Manhattan, but originally hails from Northern England.

The Earthquake And Tsunami – The magnitude-9.1 earthquake struck March 11, 2011 at 2:46 PM. The epicentre was located some 80 miles (130 km) east of the city of SendaiMiyagi prefecture, and the focus occurred at a depth of 18.6 miles (about 30 km) below the floor of the western Pacific Ocean. The earthquake triggered a shut down of the three active reactors at the  Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant (Fukushima Dai-Ichi). The ensuing tsunami crippled the site, stopped the Fukushima I backup diesel generators, and caused a station blackout. The subsequent lack of cooling led to explosions and meltdowns at the Fukushima I facility, with problems at three of the six reactors and in one of the six spent-fuel pools. The March 11, 2011, earthquake was the strongest to strike the region since the beginning of record keeping in the late 19th century, and it is considered one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded. Hundreds of aftershocks, dozens of magnitude 6.0 or greater and two of magnitude 7.0 or greater, followed in the days and weeks after the main quake.

The Impact – Following the 2011 Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster, authorities shut down the nation’s 54 nuclear power plants. The Tokyo Electric Power CompanyFukushima Daiichi plant remains highly radioactive, with some 160,000 evacuees still living in temporary housing, and some land will be unfarmable for centuries. The  difficult cleanup job will take 40 or more years, and cost many tens of billions of dollars, with total economic costs estimated at $250–$500 billion