Barbara Thorson (Madison Wolfe) is your new hero. A quick-witted, sharp- tongued middle-schooler who isn’t afraid of anything. As the only girl in school carrying an ancient Norse warhammer in her purse and killing giants for a living, why wouldn’t she be? I Kill Giants is the sweeping, bittersweet story of a young girl struggling to conquer monsters both real and imagined as her world crumbles at the feet of giants bigger than any one child can handle.Based on the best-selling graphic novel by Joe Kelly. I Kill Giants features terrific performances from Zoe Saldana and Imogen Poots. Academy Award winning director Anders Walter joins us to talk about his clever, creative and emotionally resonant feature film debut.
“This intimate story about a troubled 12-year-old who’s on a mission to save her town is virtually tone perfect.” – Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times
“A sweetly imaginative, tenderly played coming of age drama.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
“The vivid cinematography, affecting performance by Wolfe, and lack of saccharine allow the film to resonate not only with the teen target demographic but older viewers as well.” – James Beradinelli, ReelReviews
“I Kill Giants is a dark piece of work for children, which is far from a bad thing.” – Ann Storm, Film Journal International
“Like its heroine, I Kill Giants isn’t afraid to tackle the darkness or rage of little girls, or their fear and pain.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
In the Land of Pomegranates is a suspenseful, multi-layered documentary about a group of young people who were born into a violent and insidious ongoing war. They are young Palestinians and Israelis invited to Germany to join a retreat called ‘Vacation From War’ where they live under the same roof and face each other every day. In these highly charged encounters they confront the entrenched myths and grievances that each side has for the other. As they try to gain insight into the seemingly irreconcilable narratives, the paradoxes and contradictions born of legend and history along with passionately held ideals and the daily fight for survival surface. Interwoven into this intense footage, adding context, the film also follows other embattled lives in the Occupied Territories and Israel: a mother and her four children living in the shadow of the wall abutting Gaza; an imprisoned Palestinian and the subsequent path he’s taken; an Israeli survivor of a suicide bombing; and a daring Palestinian mother whose son’s life is saved by an Israeli doctor. They are all caught in the duality of the pomegranate: will they embrace rebirth and each other’s humanity, or will they pull the pin on the grenade? We are joined by the Director Hava Kohav Beller (The Restless Conscience: Resistance to Hitler within Germany 1933-1945) for a conversation on what, if any, options may be available to break the cycle of violence and mistrust for people living in a place where hatred and retribution have been normalized.
“The state of affairs in the Middle East may actually be thornier than it seems from afar: that is the position this brave, intimate perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to take.” – MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Philosopher
“Amidst tense airings of grievances, context is set against beautiful images of the disputed homeland, archival footage, and personal testimonials of clashes and cooperation” – Nora Lee Mandel, Film-Forward
“Sobering. A tough and clear-eyed look at how things are, rather than how we want them to be.” – Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times
“Hava Kohav Beller’s beautifully shot documentary gives an urgent and very modern new face to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” – New York Magazine
At the age of 26, Karl Marx (August Diehl; INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, THE COUNTERFEITERS) embarks with his wife Jenny (Vicky Krieps; PHANTOM THREAD) on the road to exile. In 1844 Paris they meet young Friedrich Engels (Stefan Konarske), son of a factory owner and an astute student of the English proletariat class. Engels brings Marx the missing piece to the puzzle that composes his new vision of the world. Together, between censorship and police raids, riots and political upheavals, they will preside over the birth of the labor movement, which until then had been mostly makeshift and unorganized. This will grow into the most complete theoretical and political transformation of the world since the Renaissance – driven, against all expectations, by two brilliant, insolent and sharp-witted young men. In his first film since the Oscar®-nominated documentary I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, celebrated Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck (LUMUMBA) paints a vivid portrait of another of history’s most influential thinkers with THE YOUNG KARL MARX. A fervently intelligent chronicling of the blood, sweat and debate that went into the creation of a manifesto and a movement, the film premiered at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival. Director Raoul Peck joins us for a lively conversation on capturing the essence of a young Marx and Engels relationship, the relevance of Marxism today and the critical reaction to his film.
Carter Pilcher founded Shorts International in 2000. Coming from a background in both investment banking and law, Carter has made Shorts International the world’s leading short movie Entertainment Company, functioning as distributor, broadcaster and producer. Carter has extensive experience in short movie production and short movie entertainment. He is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a member of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch of The US Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) – the guys who pick the Oscars. Carter, originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, received a B.S. from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a J.D. from Georgetown University, is a member of the New York Bar and attended the London Business School Corporate Finance Evening Program. Carter Pilcher has been and continues to be the highlight of Oscar season here on Film School. His insight, commitment and love of films and filmmaking always makes for a lively and informative conversation on some of the best films you will see all year.
On November 28th, 1953, mild-mannered military scientist Frank Olson plunged from the window of his 13th-floor New York hotel room and died. His cause of death was described as a “fall or jump” and though many questions remained about the exact circumstances, the case was left unsolved, and Olson’s wife and three young children attempted to move on. Over two decades later, in June of 1975, the Rockefeller Commission issued a comprehensive, high-profile report on myriad illegal CIA activities that featured a passing mention of a 1953 incident in which an army scientist was purposefully drugged with LSD without his knowledge and died from a fall a few days later. This revelation sends the Olson family, led by oldest son Eric, on a decades-long hunt for answers that takes them to the highest corridors of power in the U.S. government and close to some of its darkest secrets. Acclaimed storyteller Errol Morris weaves this mystery into a six-part story exploring the limits of our knowledge about the past and the lengths we’ll go in the search for the truth.Wormwood is the saga of one man’s obsessive, sixty-year quest to identify the real circumstances about his father’s death that tells a hidden history of key events of the second half of the 20th Century. Was Frank’s death an accident? Did he commit suicide after a bad drug trip? Or was he murdered for knowing too much? In Wormwood, Morris connects Frank’s story to the Korean War, mind control experiments, illegal germ warfare, brainwashing, Manchurian candidates, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and more.
“Wormwood is more concerned with its intellectual and philosophical musings on the intangibility everything about this case represents, but it comes at the cost of an emotional impact that’s always just beneath the surface.” – Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist
“With “Wormwood,” Morris reclaims the approach he popularized by employing accomplished performers such as Molly Parker, Tim Blake Nelson, Peter Sarsgaard and Bob Balaban to bridge the gap between fact, presumption and fantasy.” – Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times
“Redefining what a documentary can do and be, Morris’ epic proves a tragedy of systemic corruption, personal mania, and the inability to grasp that which one knows exists, but remains just out of reach.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast
“heir testimonies unfolds alongside a series of dramatic reenactments that may or may not illustrate the precise nature of the events being described. The result is a documentary-fiction combination like nothing seen before.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire
“It has an eerie, something-is-happening-here-but-you-don’t-know-what-it-is-do-you-Mr.-Jones vibe that evokes mid-century American cold war paranoia” – Jordan Hoffman, Vanity Fair
FINDING OSCAR is the feature-length documentary about the search for justice in the case of the Dos Erres massacre in Guatemala in 1982. That search leads to the trail of two little boys, Oscar and Ramiro, who were abducted during the slaughter and raised by some of the very soldiers who had murdered their families. These boys offer the only living evidence that ties the Guatemalan government to the massacre. FINDING OSCAR follows the men and women who have spent nearly two decades looking for answers—from the human-rights worker who first heard the story to the forensic anthropologists trying to identify victims and contact families. The film profiles the young Guatemalan prosecutor who took on her own government, and the U.S. immigration agents who began rounding up war criminals found living in the States. In a country built on impunity, it will take this dedicated team to find justice more than thirty years later, and uncover a truth more significant than anyone could have imagined. Filmmaker Ryan Suffern is producer and director of FINDING OSCAR, with Frank Marshall as producer and Steven Spielberg as Executive Producer.Director Ryan Suffern joins us to talk about the victims, the families, the impact that these massacres continue to have on the people of Guatemala and the continuing search of justice.
“A twisty, protracted fight for justice is deftly traced in “Finding Oscar,” an absorbing, if grim, documentary …” – Gary Goldstein, LA Times
“The barbarity described in “Finding Oscar” is stomach-turning, but moments of courage still shine through in this unsettling yet vital documentary.” – Ken Jaworoski, New York Times
“Suffern strikes a respectful, not entirely hopeless tone throughout, allowing those affected by the civil war in general and the Dos Erres massacre in particular to speak at length about their experiences.” – Michael Nordine, Village Voice
“An absorbing documentary about an unlikely survival story.” – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter
The time is 1939. The place is Poland, homeland of Antonina (two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain) and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh). Devoted to each other, the couple thrive as personal and professional partners; the Warsaw Zoo flourishes until the entrance is slammed shut and the zoo is crippled in an attack as the entire country is invaded by the Germans. The couple is forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl, Captain America: Civil War). Heck envisions a new, selective breeding program for the zoo. Antonina and Jan fight back on their own terms, and covertly begin working with the Resistance – realizing that their zoo’s abandoned animal cages and underground tunnels, originally designed to safeguard animal life, can now secretly safeguard human life. As the couple puts into action plans to save lives out of what has become the Warsaw Ghetto, Antonina places herself and even her children at great risk. Director Niki Caro (Whale Rider, North Country) directs the movie from a screenplay by Angela Workman, adapted from Diane Ackerman’s nonfiction book of the same name and based on Antonina’s diaries. Director Niki Caro joins us for a conversation on her beautiful and moving historic drama.
“A fundamental sense of empathy may not be especially cinematic, but that’s no reason to ignore it (and Chastain, who strikes a wonderful balance with Heldenbergh, is masterful at expressing stoicism without ever tipping into sanctimony).” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“Subtle yet striking, this is a film that is filled with the power of exquisitely executed storytelling.” – Chelsey Grasso, The Film Stage
“”The Zookeeper’s Wife” may have appeal to history buffs of that turbulent time but the story has a more universal appeal about love and compassion for all animals, even us humans.” – Robin Clifford, Reeling Reviews
“It imbues a pessimistic view of the seemingly bottomless depths of human cruelty with sorrowful tragic force.” – Kenji Fujishima, Slant Magazine
God Knows Where I Am is the story of Linda Bishop, a well-educated New Hampshire mother who suffered from severe bipolar disorder with psychosis, who was intermittently incarcerated and homeless, inevitably being committed for three years to a state psychiatric facility. Successfully fighting her sister’s protective attempts to be named her legal guardian, Linda was able to refuse treatment and medication, and eventually procured an early, unconditional release, despite the lack of post release planning. Upon her release, she wandered ten miles down the road from the hospital, broke into an abandoned farmhouse and lived off of rainwater and apples picked from a nearby orchard for the next four months, through one of the coldest winters on record. For nearly four months, Linda Bishop, a prisoner of her own mind, survived on apples and rain water, waiting for God to save her, during one of the coldest winters on record. Unable to leave the house, she became its prisoner, and remained there, a prisoner of her own mind, eventually starving to death. Her body was discovered several months later and with it a diary that Linda kept documenting her journey. The diary, given voice by actress Lori Singer, is poignant, beautiful, funny, spiritual, and deeply disturbing. As her story unfolds from different perspectives, including her own, we learn about our systemic failure to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Over the last 16 years co-directors Jedd and Todd Wider have produced many of the most critically and commercially successful feature documentary films including, King’s Point (2012) nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short, the multiple Primetime Emmy and Peabody Award winning Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012) directed by Alex Gibney, the Emmy Award nominated Semper Fi: Always Faithful (2011) directed by Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon, the multiple Emmy Award nominated Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010) directed by Alex Gibney Peabody Award and 2008 Academy Award Winner for Best Documentary and 2009 Emmy Award Winner for Best Documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) also directed by Alex Gibney, and many more. In 2011, Todd Wider and Jedd Wider were each nominated by the Producers Guild of America for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures. Co-director Jedd and Todd Wider join us to talk about their haunting new documentary.
“A film of great beauty and tenderness that gradually reveals a confounding mental illness, this film is a human story at its heart. Ultimately, it illuminates a hidden problem of vast proportion with an epic yet intimate cinematic vision.” – Jury, Hot Docs
“MUST SEE AT HOT DOCS: God Knows Where I Am will break your heart but also empower you to question, be helpful and provide encouragement to the vulnerable in our lives. God Knows Where I Am is wonderfully shot and captures the isolation, desperation and human condition at its essence.” – Thirty-Four Flavours
“Throughout the beautiful, evocative, and ultimately heartbreaking tale of Linda Bishop, the Widers use a variety of cameras and film formats to grant the movie an almost dreamlike feel, and they’re aided immeasurably by Bishop’s meticulous daily journal, which is read with tenderness and humanity by Lori Singer, bringing Bishop elegantly to life as the chronicler of her own story.” – Christopher Orr, The Atlantic
“I’ve seen God Know Where I Am three times. It’s not only rich and layered enough to hold up on every viewing, but on an emotional level, I wept profusely – again and again and yet again. This is great cinema and certainly a contender for one of the best documentaries of the new millennium. It captures profound poetic truths about homelessness, mental illness and loneliness which are rendered with such artistry and sensitivity that this is a film for the ages. 5 out of 5 stars.” – The Film Corner
This thrilling investigation uncovers the high-level corruption behind California’s long-standing water crisis. Sweeping cinematography of California’s harsh, dry landscape asks us to visualize a fight for water in what feels like a modern day Chinatown. Emmy award-winningfilmmaker Marina Zenovich (“Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired”) peels back the layers of California’s convoluted water structure—wealthy water barons show their guilty hand in exploiting the state’s resource, while small farmers and neighboring towns endure debilitating drought. We see luxury crops, like almonds, on the rise and groundwater contamination increasing tenfold, pitting backroom business dealings against human and environmental costs. Water & Power: A California Heist, is a National Geographic documentary film executive produced by Academy Award winner Alex Gibney and produced by Jigsaw Productions. California has the sixth-largest economy in the world. It is home to the global entertainment and technology capitals, one of the most productive farm belts mankind has ever known and nearly 39 million residents. But the state’s continued survival is dependent on a consistent supply of fresh water, a dwindling public resource with a long history of mismanagement.Water & Power: A California Heist dives deep into the past, present and future of California’s endangered lifeblood. This natural resource is only growing more valuable as the new war for water is already upon us. This daring and extremely timely documentary asks us to question who has control of our access to our water. Director Marina Zenovich(Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired) joins us to talk about the “how and why” of the looming disaster that awaits California residents.
“Guided by the work of a handful of burr-like journalists, this dense and disturbing documentary dives into the regulatory quagmire of California water rights with more courage than hope.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
“While the approach taken by filmmaker Marina Zenovich, who directed 2008’s “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” relies heavily on talking heads – Gov. Jerry Brown among them – she admittedly paints a compelling picture of timeless greed.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“The history of California is written in water, and in the shady deals that allow a few to control it, director Marina Zenovich shows in her fact-packed documentary Water & Power: A California Heist.” – Sean P. Means, Salt Lake Tribune
Joe’s Violin – During a drive to donate musical instruments to public schools, 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Joseph Feingold offers his beloved violin, which he has played for more than 70 years. The instrument goes to the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls, where young musician Brianna Perez is inspired to become friends with her benefactor. Joining us will be Director Kahane Cooperman to talk about this beautifully told story about survival, and the ties that bind us together. 2017 Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Short Film.
Pear Cider and Cigarettes – Hard-living Techno Stypes has been Robert’s best friend since childhood, and over the years, Robert has been amazed by Techno’s ability to sabotage himself. When Techno is hospitalized in China and needs a liver transplant, Robert goes on a wild ride to get him home to Vancouver. Director(s) Robert Valley and Cara Speller stop to discuss the creative process and determination behind their visually striking vision of friendship and heartbreak. 2017 Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short Film.
SHORTSHD™TO RELEASE OSCAR® NOMINATED SHORT FILMS 2017 IN THEATRES NATIONALLY BEGINNING ON FRIDAY FEBRUARY 10
World’s Only Short Movie Channel To Showcase Oscar Shorts Release with Theatrical Premieres of Live Action Short, Animated Short and Documentary Short Categories
This marks the 12th consecutive year of the Oscar® nominated short films theatrical experience and is the only opportunity for audiences to watch the nominated short films prior to the 89th Academy Awards® ceremony on Sunday, February 26, 2017.“This year’s Oscar Nominated Shorts are formidable storytelling at its best,” said Carter Pilcher, CEO of ShortsHD, the TV network behind the annual theatrical compilations.“Short films are exploding in popularity around the globe, and these Oscar® noms are the pinnacle—and ShortsHD’s theatrical release is the only way to see this year’s Live Action, Animation and Documentary shorts nominees on the big screen, a delight for movie fans the world over.”ShortsHD™ is the first high definition channel dedicated to short movies and is available on DIRECTV (Channel 573), and AT&T U-Verse (Channel 1789), CenturyLink Prism TV (1789), Verizon Fios TV, Frontier Communications (Channel 1789), Google Fiber. ShortsHD™ is operated by Shorts International, the world’s leading short movie entertainment company with the world’s largest movie catalogue dedicated to short movies. Shorts™ is the short movie on-demand service available on iTunes movie stores in 54 countries across the globe and Amazon Instant Video. The company is headquartered in London, England with an additional office in Los Angeles and is led by Carter Pilcher, Chief Executive. Find them on Facebook: facebook.com/shortshd and twitter: twitter.com/shortshd.For a sneak peak at The Oscar® Nominated Short Films 2017 program, please visit: http://shorts.tv/theoscarshorts/
In the late 1930s China is in dire straits. The country will collapse under Japan’s military juggernaut if it doesn’t get outside help. Chinese American firebrand Li Ling-Ai jolts Americans into action with a new medium — 16mm Kodachrome color film. She hires photo-journalist Rey Scott to travel to China and capture a citizen’s perspective of the war-torn country, including the massive bombing of the wartime capital Chungking (now Chongqing). Their landmark film KUKAN screens for President Franklin Roosevelt at the White House, is called “awesome” by the New York Times, and receives one of the first Academy Awards for a feature documentary in 1942. Why have we never heard of Li Ling-Ai? And why have all copies of KUKAN disappeared? FINDING KUKAN uses rare and unseen archival footage to create an unforgettable portrait of a female filmmaking pioneer, and sheds light on the long history of racial and gender discrimination behind the camera, which continues to reverberate in Hollywood today. Director / Producer Robin Lung stops by to talk about the 7-year quest to find the answers to a multitude of questions.
Starring Nicolas Cage and Willian DaFoe, Dog Eat Dog is the story of when three desperate ex cons are offered a job by a Mexican mob boss, they know they should refuse, but the payoff’s too rich to turn down. It’s enough to buy their way out of the Life and start over. All they have to do is kidnap the kid of a colleague who’s ripping the mob boss off. But the abduction goes awry when the kidnappers are forced to kill an unexpected intruder who turns out to be the child’s father — the very man the mob boss intended to extort. Now unwelcome in the underworld and on the run for murder, the ex cons find themselves as the most wanted fugitives in the City of Angels. And each vows that none of them will ever go back to prison. No matter what the cost. Director, screenwriter Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Cat People, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, Auto Focus, Light Sleeper) joins us totally about his latest film as well as his remarkable career in filmmaking.
“Dog Eat Dog occasionally positions itself as social commentary, but it’s mainly a bloody, trippy, bare-fanged pulp thriller featuring terrifically entertaining performances from old dogs Cage and Dafoe.” Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun Times
“Schrader thrusts the amoral ugliness onto the screen in puckishly cold compositions suffused with screechingly acidulous colors.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker
“A giant middle finger to anyone who’s ever forced Paul Schrader to compromise.” – David Ehrlich, Indiewire
On the evening of September 18, 1980, Airmen David F. Powell and Jeffrey L. Plumbwere performing routine maintenance at theTitan II silo in Damascus, Arkansas. At the age of 21, Powell was considered a highly experienced missile technician; Plumb, who had just turned 19, was still in training. As the two stood on a platform near the top of the Titan II, a socket fell from Powell’s wrench, plummeted 70 feet and, shockingly, punctured the missile. A stream of highly explosive rocket fuel began pouring into the silo of the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States. A chilling, Dr. Strangelovian nightmare plays out at a Titan II missile complex in Arkansas in September, 1980. A deadly accident leads Air Force personnel, weapon designers, and first responders to work feverishly to prevent a catastrophic explosion. Directed by Robert Kenner (FOOD, INC.) and based on the critically-acclaimed book by Eric Schlosser (FAST FOOD NATION), COMMAND AND CONTROL is a minute-by-minute account of this long-hidden story – much of it based on recently declassified documents that expose other freak accidents and near-misses. How do you manage weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? COMMAND AND CONTROL chronicles nine hours of terror that prevented an explosion 600 times more powerful than Hiroshima.Director Robert Kenner joins us for a lively conversation on impact nuclear weapons have on our lives and the horrifying 36-year old apocalyptic tale that is just now being told.
Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny takes the viewer from the Academy Awards for the acclaimed, Boyhood, and an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Linklater’s latest film, Everybody Wants Some. Throughout the film, Richard Linklater himself addresses his own life at mid-career point, at times while embarrassed and shy. He tells of the influential array of filmmakers, playwrights and criminals that continue to form his own independent work, and the philosophical modalities which have guided the path; all in conversation with Louis Black, an Austin-based journalist who has known him since the 1980’s. Other interviews include Ethan Hawke, Jack Black, Jonathan Demme, Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Adair and Julie Delpy, members of the Linklater family, Clark Walker and more. Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny was produced for PBS’ American Masters series is an unusual look at a fiercely independent style of filmmaking that arose from Austin, Texas in the 1980s/ early 90’s.It is an unconventional look at how Linklater’s films of that period, Slacker, Dazed and Confused and Before Sunrise, sparked a low budget, in your own backyard movement in this country and around the world.Co-directors and co-producers Louis Black and Karen Bernstein joins us for a spirited conversation on what makes Richard run, the early days of the Austin film scene and how Linklater has influenced and mentored many of the independent film world’s brightest talents.
“It’s shamelessly partial but also warmly pleasurable, partly because Mr. Linklater is an engaging and humble conversationalist who moves easily to the beat of his own soundtrack.” – Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times
“A documentary portrait of the director of ‘Boyhood’ and ‘Dazed and Confused’ is full of revealing offscreen footage as well as a pinpoint feeling for the filmmaker’s visionary humanism.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“Warm, familial and unhurried portrait of the great Austin auteur provides a good overview of an underappreciated director’s work and unusual approach.” – Chris Barsanti, Film Journal International
“Black and Bernstein understand what it is that makes Linklater so curious, and in chronicling his career in such a clear and entertaining way, they’ve put together a worthwhile and winning portrait of a very special filmmaker.” – Adam Chitwood, Collider
In 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade recognized the right of every woman in the United States to have an abortion. Since 2011, over half the states in the nation have significantly restricted access to abortions. In 2016, abortion remains one of the most divisive issues in America, especially in Missouri, where only one abortion clinic remains open, patients and their doctors must navigate a 72-hour waiting period, and each year sees more restrictions. Awarding-winning director and Missouri native Tracy Droz Tragos sheds new light on the contentious issue with a focus not on the debate, but rather on the women themselves – those struggling with unplanned pregnancies, the providers who show up at clinics to give medical care, as well as the activists on both sides of the issue hoping to sway decisions and lives. Tragos’ illuminating documentary Abortion: Stories Women Tell offers an intimate window into the lives of these women through their personal stories. Some are heartbreaking and tender some are bleak and frightening; some women, on both sides of the issue, find the choice easy to make due to their own circumstances and beliefs, while others simply inform us of the strength and capacity of women to overcome and persevere through complicated and unexpected circumstances. Director and producer Tracy Droz Tragos joins us for a conversation on one of the most contentious and intractable issues facing women and her beautifully balanced, heart wrenching and moving documentary.
“The key to understanding why “Abortion: Stories Women Tell” is a quietly powerful documentary is not the first word in the title but the final three.” – Kenneth Turan, LA Times
“This doc is a tearjerker, but it’s also enraging. Taken together, these stories add up to a larger and deeply troubling narrative about what it’s like to be a woman living in America today.” – Amy Brody, Village Voice
“Stories Women Tell does succeed at what it primarily means to do, which is to take abortion out of the realm of the theoretical and make it more personal.” – Noel Murray, AV Club
Two-time Academy Award-Winner® Barbara Kopple (Harlan County USA, American Dream) follows Grammy-nominated R&B dynamo Sharon Jones during the most courageous year of her life. Often compared to the legendary James Brown because of her powerful and energetic performances, Sharon Jones is no stranger to challenge. For years her music career struggled as she was kept in the wings by a music industry that branded her “too short, too black, too fat.” After decades of working odd jobs, from a corrections officer to a wedding singer, Sharon had a middle-aged breakthrough after joining forces with Brooklyn R&B outfit The Dap-Kings. In 2013, on the eve of the release of the much-anticipated album Give the People What They Want, Sharon was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Miss Sharon Jones!is a triumphant crowd-pleaser that captures an irrepressible human spirit as she battles back to where she belongs; center stage. Director / Producer Barbara Kopple joins us to talk about the daunting personal and career challenges Miss Sharon Jones has faced and her inexhaustible energy to create and carry on.
“The film’s real success lies in having Jones as its primary subject, and that’s because she’s a wickedly funny, fierce, phenomenal force of nature, a positive, vivacious character whose generosity and charisma touches every single person.” – Tina Hassannia, rogerebert.com
“When she bounds onstage with a holler and a howl – and diction that nails every last word to the melody – it’s clear she deserves that exclamation point in the title.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
“Intimate without digging too deeply, but still a highly satisfying portrait of a resilient soul singer.” – David Noah, Film Journal international
“In the empowering tradition of Shut Up & Sing, Running From Crazy and Force of Nature, veteran documentarian Barbara Kopple serves up another portrait of female strength and resilience with Miss Sharon Jones!” – Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter
The latest documentary from the renowned filmmaking team of Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker (The War Room), UNLOCKING THE CAGE follows trailblazing animal rights lawyer Steven Wise in his challenge to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans.UNLOCKING THE CAGEpremiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Given that the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are people, why not chimps? Attorney Steven Wise and his legal team, the Nonhuman Rights Project, are making history by filing the first lawsuits that seek to transform an animal from a “thing” with no rights to a “person” with legal protections. Supported by affidavits from primatologists around the world, Wise maintains that, based on scientific evidence, cognitively complex animals such as chimpanzees, whales, dolphins and elephants have the capacity for limited personhood rights that would protect them from abuse. The filmmakers capture Wise’s progress: from the halls of academia to animal sanctuaries and zoos, and finally into the courtrooms where he makes a compelling case on behalf of four captive chimpanzees in New York State.UNLOCKING THE CAGE captures a monumental shift in our culture, as the public and judicial system show increasing receptiveness to Wise’s impassioned arguments. It is a provocative and intimate look at a lawsuit that could forever transform our legal system, and one man’s lifelong quest to protect “nonhuman” animals. Among the most renowned and accomplished documentary filmmakers ever, co-directors Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker join us to talk about their latest groundbreaking film.
“Thoughtful, Compelling and Heroic. The film made me proud to be a primate.” – Jon Stewart
“In their new documentary, D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus bring their relaxed, acute observational style of filmmaking to bear on a thorny tangle of legal and philosophical questions. Observant and absorbing.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times
“Engaging… makes a worthy case for reconsidering the sturdiness of laws that explicitly separate humans from animals. With legal-thriller pacing and emotional intelligence, it chronicles attorney Steven Wise’s gung-ho effort to get a U.S. court to recognize a chimpanzee as a legal person with protections, as opposed to a legal “thing” without rights.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
“A smart, heroic act of film-making. This compassionate and distinctive work is a combination of single-minded legal drama and humane consciousness raising possibilities. It is a story about something that is often very near to our hearts.” – Isa Freeling and Deborah Kane, The Huffington Post
From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams (“Music by Prudence”), is the inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. This emotional coming-of-age documentary follows Owen as he graduates to adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence. The subject of his father Ron Suskind’s New York Times bestseller, Owen was a thriving three-year-old who suddenly and inexplicably went silent—and for years after remained unable to connect with other people or to convey his thoughts, feelings or desires. Over time, through repeated viewings of Disney classics like The Little Mermaid and The Lion King, Owen found useful tools to help him to understand complex social cues and to re-connect with the world around him. Life, Animated evocatively interweaves classic Disney sequences with vérité scenes from Owen’s life in order to explore how his identification and empathy for characters like Simba, Jafar and Ariel gave him a means to understand his feelings and allowed him to interpret reality. Director and Producer Roger Ross Williams (God Love Uganda) joins us to talk about the challenge of presenting a balanced portrait of Owen Suskind and his family.
Winner of the Audience Award – San Francisco Film Festival
Winner of the Audience Award – Full Frame Film Festival
Winner of the Directing Award – Sundance Film Festival, Life, Animated
“A captivating portrait of a young man for whom Disney animated movies have provided a powerful lifeline to progress, language and understanding. – Justin Chang, Variety
“Williams smartly devotes large portions of the documentary to Owen on his own, letting him explain his fears himself rather than relying on the other Suskinds for clarification and translation. – Noel Murray, A.V. Club
“Incredibly moving documentary takes us into the interior life of an autistic person, and explores how films helped him communicate with the outside world.” – Lanre Bakare, The Guardian
“Instead of false hope, it offers up possibility, the chance of a stimulus that might get past the blocks of developmental disorder.”- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
MARCH OF THE LIVING tells the story of the last generation of Holocaust survivors traveling to Poland with thousands of teenagers from around the world to revisit the sites of the Holocaust and retrace the Death March fromAuschwitz to Birkenau, in a journey of remembrance. Filmed in Brazil, Germany, Poland, Israel and the US, the film tells the moving story of the survivors’ hope of passing down their history and memory of the Holocaust to the next generation. MARCH OF THE LIVING follows survivors and teens from Sao Paulo, Los Angeles and Berlin on an emotional journey as they confront the enormity of the past and the possibility of hope in a visit to Israel on its 60th anniversary. A contemporary and unique look at the Holocaust, the film features striking cinematography of the concentration camps today and images and artifacts never seen. MARCH OF THE LIVING raises questions about Holocaust memory as it relates to genocides worldwide today, and about what will happen when the remaining survivors, now in their 80’s and 90’s, will be gone. MARCH OF THE LIVING director and writer Jessica Sanders joins us to talk about the desire of Holocaust survivors to share their memories and the hope that the world will say once and for all never again to racism, indifference, anti-semitism and injustice.
“The Idol” is two-time Academy Award nominated Director Hany Abu-Assad’s new film. Hany is only one of three foreign language filmmakers nominated for two Oscars in this century! “The Idol” which World Premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival is an inspirational, upbeat, crowd-pleasing change-of-pace based on the true story of the young man who escaped from Gaza into Egypt (and finally Lebanon) for a chance to be crowned Arab Idol champion. To so many with conflict, destruction and despair but to Mohammed Assaf, and his sister Nour, Gaza is their home and their playground. It’s where they, along with their best friends Ahmad and Omar, play music, football and dare to dream big. For Mohammed and Nour, nothing less than playing the world famous Cairo Opera Hall will do. It might take them a lifetime to get there but, as Mohammed will find out, some dreams are worth living for. Along the way, Mohammed will experience tragedy and loss. The world around him will shatter. Mohammed knows he has a rare gift. Mohammed auditions for Arab Idol, the most popular show in the Arab world, are taking place in Cairo. Somehow, he finds a way and makes it in front of the judges in Egypt. From there, destiny awaits, a chance to change his life and give a voiceless people the greatest feeling of all: the freedom to love, live and feel free. Director and writer Hany Abu-Assad joins us for a conversation on the challenges and rewards of bringing this revelatory story to life.
“Mr. Abu-Assad, who wrote the script with Sameh Zoabi, mounts an idealistic appreciation of music as a way of bridging boundaries through a unifying appeal to beauty, gliding past differences in the soulful pleasure of song.” – New York Time
“It’s about art overcoming setbacks and bringing happiness to a region beset by troubles, the sort of cheerful story that speaks a universal language to any audience.” – Minneapolis Star
“Assaf’s 2013 Arab Idol victory occurred around the time the campaign in this week’s Weiner began, and both are recent period pieces about how the media can influence politics, for good and ill. The Idol ends on a far more hopeful note, to put it mildly.” – SF Weekly
Gloria Vanderbilt and her youngest son, Anderson Cooper, come together with Academy Award nominated director Liz Garbus to reflect on their extraordinary personal history. Born under a name synonymous with wealth, fortune and New York royalty, Gloria Vanderbilt has lived in the public eye for over ninety years, unapologetically pursuing love, family, and career, and experiencing extreme tragedy and tremendous success side by side. Now, through Gloria’s charming and unique artwork, coupled with rare personal footage, and narrated by candid conversations between mother and son, we see her as never before. Gloria and Anderson tell the story of their pasts and presents, losses and loves, revealing how, in life, our family stories repeat themselves in the most unexpected ways. HBO will debut NOTHING LEFT UNSAID: GLORIA VANDERBILT & ANDERSON COOPER exclusively on Saturday, April 9. Academy Award® nominated director Liz Garbus is one of the most celebrated American documentary filmmakers working today; her films have been acclaimed worldwide, and have garnered multiple Academy Award® nominations and Emmy Award wins. Garbus’ most recent documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone? was the Opening Night film of the2015 Sundance Film Festival and had its theatrical and worldwide release on Netflix in June. Garbus’ first documentary film, The Farm: Angola, USA, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, was awarded ten other festival and critics’ awards, and was nominated for an Academy Award® in 1998. She stops by to talk about a remarkably accomplished woman who has spent her entire life in the withering glare of public and the press and the complex and loving relationship she has with her accomplished son, Anderson Cooper.
GLORIA VANDERBILT TELLS THE STORY OF HER REMARKABLE LIFE IN THE POIGNANT DOCUMENTARY NOTHING LEFT UNSAID: GLORIA VANDERBILT & ANDERSON COOPER, DEBUTING APRIL 9, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO.
Clive Owen shines in this irresistible comedy as Walt, a down-on-his luck carpenter tasked with entertaining his eight-year-old son Anthony while Anthony’s mom (Maria Bello) and her new husband are away. But when Walt’s prized toolbox is stolen, a quiet father-and-son weekend turns into an adventure of a lifetime. Aided by an oddball drywall repairman (Patton Oswalt), Walt and Anthony go on a wildly funny search for the thieves—and find something they never imagined: a true family connection. As Walt and Anthony set about finding the guys who stole the tools and improvise around their other misfortunes, they begin to discover a true connection with each other, causing Walt to become a better father and Anthony to reveal the promise and potential of the good man he will become…Director and Oscar nominated screenwriter Bob Nelson (Nebraska) joins us for a conversation on moving into the director’s chair and the challenges and rewards of working with a strong ensemble cast.
Opening Friday, March 18 at the Laemmle’s NoHo 7 5240 Lankershim Boulevard • (310) 478-3836
“Feature films these days rarely come as gentle and equitable as “The Confirmation.” – Gary Goldstein, LA Times
“One of the selling points of “The Confirmation” is how it steers clear of melodrama or tidy perfection in favor of a taste of life on the margins, where even living paycheck to paycheck would be a luxury.” – Stephanie Merry, Washington Post
“In the best moments, Nelson juxtaposes … ephemeral, eternal doubt against the concrete realities of small-town American poverty and marginality.” – Adam Nayman, AV Club
“The movie’s not just good but moving, funny and true to the way people actually live in hard-times America.” – Alan Scherstuhl , Village Voice
In the Academy Award nominated short documentary film Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah director Adam Benzine explores the arduous 12-year journey that led to the creation of one of the most important films of our time. Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the release of Shoah — Claude Lanzmann’s nine-and-a-half-hour examination of the Holocaust of European Jews — this documentary reveals for the first time the trials and tribulations the French iconoclast faced. Notably, the film features an array of previously unseen outtake footage that was shot during the creation of Shoah, to illustrate Lanzmann’s journey from the bright-eyed journalist of 1973 to the world-weary auteur of 1985. The outtake footage has been digitally restored and was provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Israel’s Yad Vashem. In addition to exploring the making of Shoah the documentary also reflects on several key points in Lanzmann’s life, including his teenage years fighting in the French resistance, his love affair with Simone de Beauvoir and his deep friendship with Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as his hopes and expectations for the future. Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah is the first major documentary to be made on the life of the 90-year-old auteur. Writer, producer and director British filmmaker and journalist Adam Benzine joins us for an in-depth conversation on the Lanzmann, the remarkable story behind the making of Shoah and the tremendous impact Shoah has had on our collective understanding of Holocaust.
The **2016 Academy Award nominated Best Foreign Language Film is at once blistering and poetic in its examination of the ravages of colonialism and the dark shadow it casts over the South American landscape in EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT. It is director Ciro Guerra third film and the first film shot in the Amazonian rainforest in over 30 years. Filmed in stunning black-and-white, the film centers on Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people, and the two scientists (Evan and Theo, portrayed by Brionne Davis and Jan Bijvoet) who, over the course of 40 years, build a friendship with him. The film was inspired by the real-life journals of two explorers (Theodor Kock-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes) who traveled through the Colombian Amazon during the last century in search of the sacred and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna plant. EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it was awarded the top prize, the CIACE Art Cinema Award, and is Colombia’s official Oscar® entry for Best Foreign Language Film. Director Ciro Guerra and Brionne Davis stop by Film School to talk about the many challenges of filming in the jungles of Brazil and the rewards of shining a spotlight on the brutality of European colonial dominance over indigenous people.
** 2016 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film
* 2016 Spirit Award nominee for Best International Film
“An intense journey and very rewarding visual feast.” Nathaniel Rogers, THE FILM EXPERIENCE
“Shot on sumptuous Super 35, the black and white photography lends itself to the film’s sorrowful ode to a world devastated, but it is the ceaseless teeming life of the soundtrack that transports the audience into the midst of the rainforest.” – Ben Nicholson, CINEVUE
“A visual astonishment… There’s no denying the film’s chastening moral conviction or the transfixing power of its black-and-white imagery.Not just an ethnographic study but also a striking act of cinematic witness.” – Justin Chang, Variety
“‘Embrace of the Serpent’ is simply a work of art, and one of the most singular cinematic experiences you could hope to have in Cannes, or anywhere really. It’s an absorbing, even thrilling head trip. It is a Heart-of-Darkness voyage of discovery. It is a lament for all the lost plants and peoples of the world.” – Jessica Kiang, Indiewire’s “The Playlist”
In the **2016 Academy Award nominated Best Foreign Language film A WAR, company commander Claus M. Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk) and his men are stationed in an Afghan province. Meanwhile, back in Denmark, Claus’ wife Maria (Tuva Novotny) is trying to hold everyday life together with a husband at war and three children who are missing their father. During a routine mission, the soldiers are caught in heavy crossfire and in order to save his men, Claus makes a decision that has grave consequences for not only him, but also for his family back home. Award winning director Tobias Lindholm (A Hijacking, Bodil, The Hunt) and lead actor Pilou Asbaek (A Hijacking, Bodil, Ben-Hur (2016)) join us for an insightful conversation into the brutal and amoral circumstance of an urban war environment that often leaves participants with no right answers.
** 2016 Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film
“Rigorous and engrossing. It scrutinizes the Afghanistan conflict with consummate sensitivity and detail. A particularly gutsy showcase for Pilou Asbæk.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“Tremendous. Beautifully written. The sense of directorial sureness throughout can’t be overstated.” – Jessica Kiang, Indiewire’s “The Playlist”
“The action in “A War” unfolds so spontaneously, and unpredictably, that you share the young soldiers’ sense of danger without realizing it at first.” – The Wall Street Journal
“A tightly-wound, gripping story that evokes the pressures that these men feel and the solid bonds of attachments to their buddies. Few films have done a better job of examining the notion that there is often a difficulty between the law and justice.” – Harvey Karten, Showbiz