The thought-provoking and intriguing new documentary IN BRIGHT AXIOM introduces us into the world of the House of Latitude. A place where absolute discretion is demanded in exchange for entry into a mysterious social experiment in the form of an elaborate immersive experience. Drawing a community of curiosity seekers, this secret society becomes a way of life for some, putting increasing pressure on the organizers to maintain this sophisticated and fantastical parallel world. From the minds who inspired AMC’s upcoming series Dispatches From Elsewhere,IN BRIGHT AXIOM weaves an intriguing cautionary tale about the unforeseen consequences of embracing the unknown. Followers of Meow Wolf, Sleep No More, Ingress and other immersive & augmented reality entertainment should take note. IN BRIGHT AXIOM also features never-before-seen discourse from the mesmerizing hip-hop polymath, RAMMELLZEE and original music by Justin Robbins, with additional songs from Isan, Tickles, and ü-Ziq. Director Spencer McCall has spent the last ten years orchestrating socio-reengineering and public hoax-prank performance art pieces. An avid fan of the Yes Men, McCall began by participating in Improv Everywhere inspired events, “plant” based roles in The Go Game, and location-based performances with Atmos-theater. In 2009, he became a co-creator of the Jejune Institute; a citywide alternate reality game in San Francisco that lasted three years and “inducted” over 10,000 unknowing participants. McCall took his experience working with Jejune and turned it into an award-winning documentary The Institute.The Institute is currently being remade into a series on a major television network. McCall also contributed to follow-up experience The Latitude Society; a faux secret society with an underground experiential labyrinth beneath San Francisco. Director Spencer McCall and House of Latitude founder and In Bright Axiom subject, Jeff Hull, join us for a fascinating conversation on the ebb and flow, as well as, the inherent contradiction that facilitated the unraveling of this remarkable enterprise.
Winner of the Grand Prix at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, ATLANTICS marks the feature narrative debut of director Mati Diop. Along the Atlantic coast of Africa, a soon-to-be-inaugurated futuristic tower looms over a suburb of Dakar. Ada, 17, is in love with Souleimane, a young construction worker. But she has been promised to another man. One night, Souleimane and his co-workers disappear at sea. Soon after, they come back to haunt their old neighbourhood by taking possession of the girlfriends they left behind. Some of the workers have come claiming revenge and threaten to burn the tower down if the developer does not pay their wages. But Souleiman has come back for Ada, so they can be together one last time. Director and writer Mati Diop joins us for a conversation on her compelling new film, finding love, and the mythology of a ghost story.
About the filmmaker: Trained in Le Fresnoy (National Studio of Contemporary Arts – a leading and very selective French artistic institution), Mati Diop directed four shorts and a medium-length film which received the “Martin E. Segal – Emerging Artist Award” of the Lincoln Center (USA) in 2016. A THOUSAND SUNS (2013), BIG IN VIETNAM (2011), SNOW CANON (2010) and ATLANTIQUES (2009) were selected and awarded in a wide number of international festivals such as the Venice International Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Viennale, The Indie Lisboa International Film Festival, and the FID Marseille. They were also programmed in the MoMA and in the Moving Image Museum (USA). As an actress, Mati Diop played in HERMIA Y HELENA by director Matias Piñeiro (2015), FORT BUCHANAN by Benjamin Crotty (2014), SIMON KILLER by Antonio Campos (2012) and 35 SHOTS OF RHUM by Claire Denis (2008).
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival 2019
Official Selection, New York Film Festival 2019
Mati Diop, Mary Pickford Award Winner, Toronto InternationalFilm Festival 2019
“This shape-shifting Senegalese drama is pure cinematic poetry. Slipping in and out of modes with a magician’s confidence, Atlantics is mysterious and mythic, with a wizardly use of sound and some unforgettable images.” – ★★★★★ The Telegraph – Tim Robey
“A striking work, with a lyrical, richly evocative ghost story. Exquisitely shot by Claire Mathon and lushly scored by Fatima Al Qadiri, the film pulls together some exceedingly strong components.”– The Hollywood Reporter – Leslie Felperin
“Constantly intriguing, Atlantics is an intense romance notable for the craft of the filmmaking and Diop’s original approach to complex issues of love, loss and the forces for change that can rise from the ashes of tragedy.” – Screen International – Allan Hunter
“A gorgeous, mesmerizing feature directorial debut. Atlantics is an absorbing, otherworldly vision of an alienated seaside life in Dakar.” – IndieWire – Eric Kohn
“A romantic and melancholy film, part social commentary, part ghost tale, that works best in its evocation of loss and female solidarity.” – Variety – Jay Weissberg
The acclaimed PBS documentary series Independent Lens, recently honored with two Peabody Awards, a Primetime Emmy nomination and 12 News & Documentary Emmy nominations, returns for a new season on Monday, October 28.This year’s premiere is Made in Boise,an engrossing look at the complex and controversial world of gestational surrogacy told through the stories of four women carrying babies for gay men and infertile couples in the conservative heartland of Idaho — the unofficial “surrogacy capital” of the United States. Also on the fall schedule is Decade of Fire, which travels back to the 1970s when the South Bronx was burning, to showcase the dedicated citizens who outlasted the flames and saved their community; The Interpreters, a moving look at the Afghan and Iraqi interpreters who risked their lives aiding American troops and who now struggle to find safety and security for themselves and their families; Conscience Point, which unearths the deep clash of values between the Native American Shinnecock of Long Island and their affluent Hamptons neighbors; and Attla, the rousing story of Alaska Native George Attla, who with one good leg and a determined mindset went on to become a champion dogsled racer. Other highlights of the Winter/Spring 2020 slate include Always in Season, a harrowing look at the history of lynching and the 2014 case of Lennon Lacy, a North Carolina teen who died under unexplained circumstances; Bedlam, a psychiatrist’s chronicle of what mental illness means in the U.S. today, interwoven with the story of how the system tragically failed his own sister; and Rewind, a devastating, autobiographical documentary about the far-reaching consequences of multigenerational child sexual abuse. Independent Lens Executive Producer Lois Vossen joins us to talk about the fundamental principles to support filmmakers telling stories about their communities and commitment to showcase thought-provoking documentaries about the issues that divide us and the ideals and beliefs that bind us together.
Made in Boise by Beth Aala(Monday, October 28)Go inside the lives of four surrogates and the intended parents whose children they carry. As the number of surrogate births surge across the country, a surprising epicenter of the movement is Boise, Idaho, where hundreds of women are choosing to be surrogates. For gay couples, single men, and those who struggle with infertility, this booming industry is often the last resort to biological parenthood. The film follows the four women as they navigate the rigors of pregnancy and the mixed feelings of their own families, who struggle to understand their choice to risk the physical and emotional complications of carrying babies for someone else.
Decade of Fire by Vivian Vázquez Irizarry, Gretchen Hildebran and Julia Steele Allen(Monday, November 4)In the 1970s, the Bronx was on fire and close to a quarter-million people were displaced when their close-knit, multiethnic neighborhood burned. While the abandonment of landlords and dwindling support from government officials led to the devastation, Black and Puerto Rican residents were blamed. Now, Bronx-born Vivian Vázquez Irizarry explores the truth about the borough’s untold history and reveals how her community chose to resist, remain and rebuild.
The Interpreters by Andrés Caballero and Sofian Khan(Monday, November 11)More than 50,000 local interpreters helped protect U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, enabling soldiers to communicate with the local population. But those who took the job were often considered traitors. In the aftermath of war, some have been able to leave their home countries and reach safety, while others still languish in hiding and fear for their lives.
Conscience Point by Treva Wurmfeld(Monday, November 18)In Long Island’s Hamptons, one of the wealthiest areas in the nation and an epicenter of the luxury property boom, a clash of values is taking place. The original inhabitants of the beautiful peninsula — the Shinnecock Indian Nation — find themselves squeezed onto a tiny, impoverished reservation. Over hundreds of years they have seen their ancient burial grounds plowed up for the widening of roads, mega-mansions, and ultra-exclusive golf courses like the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Now Shinnecock activists and long-standing residents, including farmers and fishing communities, are taking a stand against a never-ending tide of wealthy transplants, overdevelopment, pollution, congested highways and skyrocketing property taxes.
Attla by Catharine Axley (Monday, December 16)The inspiring but little-known story of legendary Alaska Native dogsled champion George Attla, who — with one good leg and fierce determination — rose to international fame. In the final chapter of his life, Attla emerges from retirement to mentor his 20-year-old grandnephew. With their sights set on reviving proud cultural traditions, the pair embark on a journey to compete in the world’s largest dogsled sprint race, one that has seen a steep decline in Native competitors.
Inspired by Lewis Hyde’s beloved classic The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, GIFTis a richly cinematic film, interweaving character‐driven stories. On North America’s Pacific Northwest Coast, a young Indigenous artist and carver undertakes the elaborate preparations for a potlatch – to make a name for himself by giving everything away. In Rome, Italy, a factory occupied by migrant families is transformed into a living museum, protected by a barricade of art : a model of resistance, and an invaluable gift. In the pirate utopia of Burning Man, a mutant bumblebee art car distributes honey in a post-apocalyptic desert landscape. Meanwhile, in Auckland, New Zealand, artist Lee Mingwei prepares to launch Sonic Blossom – a “transformative gift” of song.GIFT is a tribute to something that can’t be measured or counted, bought or sold. Exploring the parallels between artists’ work and a gift economy, it’s a reflection on the creative process, the reasons we “labour in service of our gifts”, and a celebration of the imagination. Director Robin McKenna joins us to talk about her beautifully meditative film about paying forward human connection and how communities can re-imagine the meaning of wealth and prosperity.
About the filmmaker:Robin McKenna is director, producer and writer of GIFT, a feature-length documentary and crossmedia project inspired by Lewis Hyde’s classic bestseller The Gift. She is currently making Thanadoula, a short animated documentary fairytale about a real-life “death doula”, in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada – and Medicine, a feature-length documentary over a decade in the making, about ayahuasca, medicine and healing, with Dr. Gabor Maté. She directed Genevieve Bujold: ArtVie, a short film tribute to Bujold on 16mm, for the Governor General’s Awards for the Performing Arts in 2018. Robin grew up in Montréal, and began making films with La course destination monde. Her cinematography credits include City of Borders (Berlinale, Hot Docs 2009) and The Take with Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis (AFI Best Documentary 2004).
Black babies don’t come from white people. Except this one just did. That’s what Jen (Sarah Butler) tells her husband Tom (Will McFadden). He says he believes her. But soon, amidst a constant barrage of questions from everyone, Tom’s doubts and worst fears take hold. Both new parents are scared by the thoughts entering their minds, and scared to share them with each other. Baby Liam seems to love their dear friend Ron (Jamie Hector) – but why does that make it harder for Tom? And why do people keep confusing Ron for Liam’s father? Maybe because they’re both black. By the time a twist is revealed that could explain the baby’s appearance, it may be too late. Before Tom and Jen can accept their child, they’ll have to accept themselves… or face living their lives apart. Starring Will McFadden, Sarah Butler, Jamie Hector, Rob Belushi, Zach Cregger, James Morrison, and Melora Walters. Doubting Thomas, winner of Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Audience Award, Best First Feature, will begin its theatrical run in Los Angeles on Friday, October 11th, ahead of its North American VOD / Digital release on October 15th, 2019 through Gravitas Ventures. Will McFadden’s directorial debut, DOUBTING THOMASbrings unconscious racism home in the innocence of a baby. A complex tale that touches on institutionalracism and assumed privilege, the concept for the film was born from the true story of a black man killed in police custody in a racially charged incident. That man’s son, Joseph Campbell, shares story by credit with McFadden. Director / Co-writer / Producer and Lead Actor Will McFadden joins us to talk about his thought provoking drama that raises a multitude of questions about the relevance of family history, trust and race.
When Dian was 6 years old, she heard a deep rumble and turned to see a tsunami of mud barreling towards her village. She remembers her mother scooping her up to save her from the boiling mud. Her neighbors ran for their lives. Sixteen villages, including Dian’s, were wiped away. A decade later, nearly 60,000 people have been displaced from what was once a thriving industrial and residential area in East Java, located just 20 kilometers from Indonesia’s second largest city. Dozens of factories, schools and mosques are submerged 60 feet under a moonscape of cracked mud. The majority of international scientists believe that Lapindo, a multinational company that was drilling for natural gas in 2006, accidentally struck an underground mud volcano and unleashed a violent flow of hot sludge from the earth’s depths. Ten years later, despite initial assurances to do so, Lapindo has not provided 80% of its promised reparations to the hundreds of victims of who lost everything in the mud explosion. While the survivors live in the shadow of the mudflow and wait for restitution, they live in makeshift rented homes next to levees that hold back the still flowing mud. Dian is determined to rise out of the muddy life. She and her mother, along with many neighbors, fight against the corporate powers accused of one of the largest environmental disasters in recent history. The gripping documentary film GRIT bears witness to Dian’s transformation into a politically active teenager as she questions the role of corporate power and money in the institution of democracy itself.
About the filmmaker(s): Cynthia Wade’s 2008 documentary Freeheld won a 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject, Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and 13 other awards. She was a lead producer on the 2015 fictionalized adaptation of Freeheld, starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell and Michael Shannon. Wade’s 2013 HBO documentary Mondays at Racine was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013. She is the director of the documentaries Grist for the Mill (1999, HBO), Shelter Dogs (2004, HBO), Born Sweet (2009), Living the Legacy (2009, Sundance Channel) and Generation Startup (2016, Netflix), and producer of The Gnomist (2015, CNN). She holds a BA from Smith College and an MA in Documentary Film Production from Stanford University. Wade has won more than 45 film awards worldwide.
Co-director Sasha Friedlander directed, produced, shot and edited the feature-documentary Where Heaven Meets Hell. The film, set in East Java, Indonesia, won numerous prizes including Best Feature Documentary Film at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, Hawaii International Film Festival and Special Mention for Outstanding Cinematography at the LAAPFF. At the One World International Human Rights Film Festival in Prague, the Václav Havel Jury gave a Special Mention Award to Where Heaven Meets Hell for its “exceptional contribution to the defense of human rights.” The Alliance of Women Film Journalists awarded Sasha an EDA Award for Documentary Artistry in March 2013. This ITVS-funded film aired on PBS in 2013. Sasha’s has lived and worked in Indonesia. She is fluent in Indonesian and worked there as a journalist for several years. Sasha holds a BA from UCLA and an MFA in Social Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts.
GIVE ME LIBERTY is based on his personal experience as a medical transport driver and an immigrant, director Kirill Mikhanovsky, with writer Alice Austen, create a raw feature film about the comedy andheartbreak of people in the underprivileged communities living in a struggling American city. Medical transport driver Vic (newcomer Chis Galust) is running late, but it’s not his fault. Roads are closed for a protest, and no one else can shuttle his Russian grandfather and his emigre friends to a funeral. The new route uproots his scheduled clients, particularly Tracy (Lauren “Lolo” Spencer in a breakout performance), a vibrant young woman with ALS. As the day goes from hectic to off-the-rails, their collective ride becomes a hilarious, compassionate and intersectional portrait of American dreams and disenchantment. The characters in GIVE ME LIBERTY are drawn from the people of Milwaukee – they’re magnificently diverse and their struggle to survive is desperate, contradictory, funny and moving. Director Kirill Mahanovsky joins us for a spirited conversation on working with a cast of mostly non-professional actors, drawing upon his own work history for the story behind the film and the importance of making Give Me Liberty in his adopted hometown of Milwaukee.
About the filmmaker:Russian-born Kirill Mikhanovsky grew up in Moscow where his early passion for cinema compelled him to skip school and go to the movie theatre across the street from his home where, often as the only person in the house, he watched countless films. After the Soviet Union collapsed, Mikhanovsky immigrated to Milwaukee, where he had a series of odd jobs, including driving medical transport for people with disabilities, and began making films. After graduating from NYU Film School, Mikhanovsky went on to make films in the US, Brazil, Russia, and South America. A Sundance Alum, his first feature SONHOS DE PEIXEwon the Critics Week at the Cannes Film Festival.
“Completely, delightfully unpredictable from scene to scene, ‘Give Me Liberty’ draws you in with its moving performances and blasts of broad comedy.” – Manohla Dargis, THE NEW YORK TIMES
“A wonderfully anarchic dark comedy, which deftly welds its frenetically farcical structure to a humanistic portrait of marginalized communities thrown together.” – David Rooney, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“Lyrical and touching. It’s a journey worth taking.” – Tim Grierson, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL
“Establishes writer-director Kirill Mikhanovsky as a major talent.” – Eric Kohn, INDIEWIRE
TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID is set in an unnamed Mexican northern border town.The young 10-year-old girl Estrella (Paulo Lara) has 3 wishes: The first one, that her missing mother comes back and it happens. Her mother returns but she is dead and follows Estrella everywhere. Petrified, Estrella tries to escape from her by joining a gang orphaned by violence. Soon she realizes that dead are never left behind and when you are in the middle of brutality and violence, wishes never come true the way you want them to be. A haunting horror fairytale set against the backdrop of Mexico’s devastating drug wars, TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID follows a group of orphaned children armed with three magical wishes, running from the ghosts that haunt them and the cartel that murdered their parents. Filmmaker Issa López creates a world that recalls the early films of Guillermo del Toro, imbued with her own gritty urban spin on magical realism to conjure a wholly unique experience that audiences will not soon forget. Director / writer Issa López joins us to talk about her inventive and viscerally chilling film about dreams, politics, violence against the powerless and justice.
Fantastic Fest 2017: Best Horror Director
Screamfest 2017: Best Actress, Actor, Editing, Director and Picture
Dedfest 2017: Best Picture, Audience Award
Mórbido 2017: Mórbido Award (Best Picture) & Press Award
ITHACA FANTASTIK 2017: Cinema Pur Audience Award, for Best Movie
Paris Fantastic Film Fest 2017: Best Feature, Cinema+ Award, Audience Award
10 nominations for the 2018 Ariel Awards (Mexican Academy Awards)
Best Child Actor, Best Child Actress, Best Support Actor, Best Makeup Design, Best Visual Effects, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Sound, Best Script, Best Director*
“Issa Lopez is an incredibly exciting filmmaker who, if there is any justice, will go onto have a career comparable to Guillermo del Toro.” – Fiona Underhill, JumpCut Online
“Heartbreaking, thought-provoking and exquisitely beautiful in equal measure, López unflinchingly rejects the fetishization of young people and their experiences so typical of narratives about childhood trauma.” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ Women on Film
“What it gets right, it does brilliantly. The acting is superb, the mix of fantasy and realistic drama is sublime, and the story is haunting and fascinating in equal measure.” – Bobby LePire. Film Threat
“Watching Tigers Are Not Afraid is like stepping into a enchanting nightmare. There’s an uncomfortable darkness wrapped up in a charming package.” – Kat Hughes, The Hollywood News
DRIVEN is a fast-paced, comedic crime thriller of a bromance gone wrong between John DeLorean, played by Lee Pace (Captain Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Book of Henry), and Jim Hoffman, played by Jason Sudeikis (Colossal, Booksmart). Set in early 1980s California, the story follows the meteoric rise of the golden boy of the automotive industry, John DeLorean and his iconic DeLorean Motor Company, through the eyes of his friendship with charming, ex-con pilot turned FBI informant, Jim Hoffman. DeLorean turned to unsavory activities to save his financially troubled DeLorean Motor Company, and it was Hoffman who was all too willing to lure the car designer / engineer into a cocaine trafficking ring set up by the FBI. Isabel Arraiza is Cristina DeLorean, DeLorean’s fashion model wife, Judy Greer (Ant-Man, Jurassic World, War for the Planet of the Apes) is Ellen Hoffman, Hoffman’s direct, no nonsense wife and Corey Stoll (First Man, Ant-Man, Midnight in Paris) is ambitious FBI Special Agent Benedict Tisa. Director Nick Hamm joins us for a conversation on the challenges of re-creating the time and place where the DeLorean / Hoffman took place and establishing a comedic tone that propels this highly entertaining story.
“Driven is a short and sweet supernatural romp that never gets boring and somehow manages to pack laughs into what could be a very intense storyline in another film.” – Lorry Kikta, Film Threat
“Once again, two fine central performances bring a clever Colin Bateman script alive, with Jason Sudeikis injecting a well of emotional depth to his portrayal of a scuzzy FBI informant with a small but troubling conscience.” – Lee Marshall, Screen International
THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON is an adventure story set in the world of a modern Mark Twain that begins when Zak (Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome, runs away from a nursing home where he lives to chase his dream of becoming a professional wrestler and attending the wrestling school of The Salt Water Redneck. Through circumstances beyond their control Tyler (LaBeouf), a small time outlaw on the run, becomes Zak’s unlikely coach and ally. Together they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whisky, find God, catch fish, and convince Eleanor (Johnson), a kind nursing home employee with a story of her own, to join them on their journey. THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON stars Shia LaBeouf,Dakota Johnson, Thomas Haden Church, Bruce Dern, John Hawkes and newcomer, Zack Gottsagen, premiered back in March at SXSW and was a huge critical success, with a current score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film also won over fans, taking home the Audience Award for Narrative Spotlight. Co-directors and co-writers Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson stop by to talk about there experiences and the stacks of miracles that brought this heart-warming tale of friendship and reaching for your dreams.
“LaBeouf brings the soul to “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” while Gottsagen brings the spirit. He has an undeniably charming screen presence, and the actor takes to this starring role with gusto.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“A heartwarming, tender and funny adventure grounded in humanism. Refreshingly witty and unconventional. It’s one of the summer’s best surprises.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
“What’s clear is that a lot of development time, movie resources, and A-List actors all came together to make a masterpiece of a film centering on one person…Zack Gottsagen.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat
“‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ is a sweet, warm story about dreams and the family you choose. Zack Gottsagen is pure comedy. Shia LaBeof is giving me sexy, scruffy with substance and the pairing of these two on screen is perfection.” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic
Mohammed Emwazi was a grade school student in London with a promising future ahead of him in 1995. By 2014, he had become known as “Jihadi John,” a masked ISIS terrorist in Syria who internationalized his notoriety by broadcasting his beheadings of Western hostages on the internet. UNMASKING JIHADI JOHN: ANATOMY OF A TERRORIST includes rare footage of Emwazi as a young boy in London and interviews with his schoolteachers who reveal that he lived a relatively comfortable and normal childhood. His behavior grew more disconcerting in his teenage years. Emwazi’s brutality is illustrated through harrowing, first-hand accounts from his surviving hostages, and the collaboration between the world’s leading intelligence agencies, including the CIA and Britain’s intelligence agents, who ultimately tracked him down and ended his life. UNMASKING JIHADI JOHN: ANATOMY OF A TERRORIST examines what propelled Emwazi’s journey down a violent path despite US and British authorities being aware of his extremism. It also highlights the self-declared operational failures by counter-terrorism officials as Emwazi became ISIS’s chief executioner and propagandist. Joining us on Film School Radio will be Oscar®-nominated, BAFTA and Emmy®-winning director Anthony Wonke (HBO’s “The Battle for Marjah”), and BAFTA-winning producer and investigative journalist Richard Kerbaj for a conversation on the how and why a schoolboy and promising soccer player morphs into a sadistic killer.
UNMASKING JIHADI JOHN: ANATOMY OF A TERRORIST debuts WEDNESDAY, JULY 31 (8:00-9:40 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.
“Part high-tech manhunt and part brutal captivity narrative, “Unmasking Jihadi John: The Anatomy of a Terrorist” is one documentary unlikely to leave anyone in its viewing audience bored.” – David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun
“This is a film that spends much of its time on observation and analysis of the known facts… This makes it feel rather dry in places but avoids any glamorisation of its subject.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“In terms of cinematography and editing, Jihadi John: Anatomy of a Terrorist is well-executed, and it’s certainly informative.” – Amy Glynn, Paste Magazine
Never before has journalism in America been so hotly debated. At a time when it seems like the hard-hitting question is fighting for its right to be asked, MIKE WALLACE IS HERE turns the tough question loose on its inventor to understand how we got here and what’s really at stake. Legendary newsman Mike Wallace unflinchingly interrogated the 20th century’s biggest figures in over fifty years on the air, and his aggressive reporting style and showmanship redefined what America came to expect from broadcasters. Unearthing decades of never-before-seen footage from the 60 Minutes vault, this documentary portrait explores what drove and plagued this restless reporter, whose storied career was entwined with the evolution of journalism itself. MIKE WALLACE IS HERE is told exclusively through archival footage, without one talking-head commentary or backward-looking interview diluting the immediacy and power of Wallace’s work. The film traces his career on the air from his invention of the “tough question” in his 1950s interview show Night Beat to his news specials of the ’60s and his extraordinary four decades on CBS’ 60 Minutes, examining how his genre-defining work changed the standards of broadcast journalism for good and for ill, while unpacking the personal qualities that made Mike tick. Director Avi Belkin takes us behind the mask of the fearless inquisitor to reveal a driven man fraught with doubt and insecurities.
“A compulsively engrossing account of a career notable for its gutsy, confrontational attitude toward the power brokers in business and politics.” – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter
“A no holds barred, sobering look at one our most acerbic, in your face, troubled award winning journalist – Mike Wallace. CBS unlocked their vaults with exclusive archival footage, interviews and words from Wallace himself.” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic
“As Belkin’s brisk and compelling documentary fades to black, the director seems to hope that the Wallace quotation audiences cling to isn’t one of his fanged questions, but his optimism for the profession to which he dedicated his life” – Amy Nicholson, Variety
THE MOUNTAIN is a dark, hypnotic and surreal satire about repression and conformity set against the 1950’s “golden age” of American male domination.(Tye Sheridan, READY PLAYER ONE, MUD), whose mother was sent to an asylum years ago, is an introverted young photographer at loose ends, ignored by his father (cult actor Udo Kier). After the death of his father, Andy is befriended by renowned lobotomist Dr. Wallace Fiennes (Jeff Goldblum, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, JURASSIC PARK) and joins him on a tour to promote the doctor’s recently-debunked procedure. As Andy increasingly identifies with the asylum’s patients, he falls in love with a rebellious young woman, Susan (Hannah Gross), and encounters the burgeoning New Age movement of the West. Also starring Denis Lavant (HOLY MOTORS). Director and co-writer Rick Alverson (THE COMEDY, ENTERTAINMENT) joins us for a conversation on the subversive performances of Goldblum and Sheridan and the ways his harrowing, brilliant film cuts to the core of savage male brutality in the guise of “science.”
On the outskirts of Birmingham and the margins of society the Billingham family perform extreme rituals and break social taboos as they muddle through a life decided by factors beyond their control. At times shocking and laced with an unsettling humour, three episodes unfold as a powerful evocation of the experience of growing up in a Black Country council flat. Director Richard Billingham joins us for a conversation on his raw, intimate, biographical tale of dysfunctional family and fractured memories.
About the filmmaker Richard Billingham:In 1997 he was the first recipient of the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize and the following year BBC2 broadcast his film Fishtank, (47mins) produced by Artangel and filmmaker Adam Curtis. He exhibited at the Venice Biennale 2001 and was nominated for the Turner Prize, also 2001. He has made work about his immediate family, about animals in zoos around the world and about the British landscape. Recently he has written and directed his first feature film for cinema called ‘Ray & Liz’, shot on location in the Midlands where he grew up. His work is held in many collections including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum, New York, V & A and Tate Galleries, London.
“Performed with absolute commitment by its cast (Justin Salinger and Ella Smith play the younger versions of the title characters), “Ray & Liz” is a quietly harrowing movie.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times
“Reaching backwards to understand the hardship of his formative years, [Richard] Billingham finds clarity and cinematic grace by reconciling the deep, irreparable flaws of his mother and father.” – Rhys Handley, One Room With A View
“We often say art “cuts close to the bone,” but in its depiction of clinking liquor bottles and drawers of unopened rent notices soaked in dog urine, Ray & Liz slices clean through that bone.” – Andrew Lapin, NPR
TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM offers an artful and intimate meditation on the life and works of the acclaimed novelist. From her childhood in the steel town of Lorain, Ohio to ‘70s-era book tours with Muhammad Ali, from the front lines with Angela Davis to her own riverfront writing room, Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics and colleagues on an exploration of race, America, history and the human condition as seen through the prism of her own literature. Woven together with a rich collection of art, history, literature and personality, the film includes discussions about her many critically acclaimed works, including novels “The Bluest Eye,” “Sula” and “Song of Solomon,” her role as an editor of iconic African-American literature and her time teaching at Princeton University. In addition to Ms. Morrison, the film features interviews with HiltonAls, Angela Davis, Fran Lebowitz, Walter Mosley, Sonia Sanchez and Oprah Winfrey, who turned Morrison’s novel “Beloved” into a feature film. Using Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ elegant portrait-style interviews, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am includes original music by Kathryn Bostic, a specially created opening sequence by artist Mickalene Thomas, and evocative works by other contemporary African-American artists including Kara Walker, Rashid Johnson and Kerry James Marshall.Director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders joins us for a conversation on gaining the trust and confidence of a literary icon.
“[An] inspiring doc. An eloquent nonfiction biopic that travels creatively through the past, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ film is enlivened both by its own storytelling dexterity and by the participation of its subject, who at 87 years old remains as warm, vibrant and insightful as ever… [She] comes across as a vivacious and intellectually formidable presence deserving of the titanic praise heaped upon by her.” – Nick Schager, Variety
“[A] visually beautiful documentary… Morrison, now 87, narrates her life in a tone that is determined, self-assured and sly… The clarity of her vision as she talks about race may be the most trenchant and potent aspect of the film… Morrison and her novels are treasures.” – Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter
“What’s most interesting about The Pieces I Am is not just Morrison’s explanations and reflections of her work but her steadfast determination while editing, writing and raising two children on her own, to never indulge the white gaze… A comprehensive examination of Morrison, the perseverance of Black women and how we understand ourselves as a people.” – Aramide Tinubu, Shadow and Act
Avant-garde Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov (The Student) returns to the big-screen with a tribute to the early years of Russian rock with LETO. Leningrad, in the summer, early eighties. Smuggling LP’s by Lou Reed and David Bowie, the underground rock scene is boiling ahead of Perestroika. LETO tells the tale of Viktor Tsoi (Theo U) and the Kino group, about his relationship with Mike Naumenko (Roma the Beast), his wife Natalya (Irina Starshenbaum) and many who were in the vanguard of the rock movement Leningrad in 1981. This is a story about Leningrad of the 80s, about love, searching and high hopes – about a mood that will stay with us forever. LETO is full of music that the characters live and breathe: the Kino group, Mike Naumenko, the cult tracks of that time. Mike and his beautiful wife Natasha meet with young Viktor Tsoï. Together with friends, they will change the trajectory of rock n’roll music in the Soviet Union. Co-writers Mikhail Idov and Lili Idova join us to talk about theworking with avant-garde Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov, celebrating a time of artistic freedom and indelible impression that these artists had on the people who connected to their enthusiasm.
“Weaving a glancing love triangle into a poignant observation on the waxing and waning of creativity, Serebrennikov revels in radiant black-and-white scenes of urban grit.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
“Far from an angry political screed, it feels both removed from its fraught larger context and shrewdly, poignantly attuned to it.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“Leto is a gorgeous, endlessly charming romance drama that’s part jukebox musical and part anthropological document. With revolution on the periphery, Leto is a superb picture.” – Joshua Brunsting, The CriterionCast
“There is a sprawling sense of time and place to Leto, which blows out the running to over two hours, yet there is not a frame of the film one would want to see excised.” – Simon Foster, Screen-Space
Routinely dismissed by film critics as a lesser genre artistically, romantic comedies aren’t simply traditionally beloved, but also a true art form which has produced some of the most classic and enduring films we know today. These films should receive the recognition they deserve along with an experience to bring together a community of film fans that flock to them. To remedy that perception, there is ROMCOM FEST. Rom Com Fest is founded by Miraya Berke, female entrepreneur – founder of Pop Productions event boutique studio and co-founder of Dessert Goals, the popular dessert festival in New York and Los Angeles. With a background in events and partnership and a personal love of romantic comedies, she is passionate about the romantic comedy genre and its legitimization in the eyes of film fans, filmmakers, and critics, in addition to the pure enjoyment of the films themselves. The first ever Rom Com Fest will take place June 20-23 in Los Angeles at Downtown Independent. In addition to a mix of new and classic rom com film screenings, we will host engaging activities and events to connect the community of rom com lovers. Highlights include a 20th anniversary screening of 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, A special screening of the classic NEVER BEEN KISSED (curated by actress Rachel Bloom), the west coast premiere of actor Joe Cross’ directorial debut SUMMER NIGHT, a late night CBD screening of HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK, and more. Festival founder and director Miraya Berke joins us to talk about her love of film and her desire to create a unique filmgoing experience.
Money, power, politics, drugs, scandal, and fast cars. The incredible story of John DeLorean is the stuff of a Hollywood screenwriter’s dreams. But who was the real John DeLorean? To some, he was a renegade visionary who revolutionized the automobile industry. To others, he was the ultimate con man. For the first time, Framing John DeLoreanrecounts the extraordinary life and legend of the controversial automaker, tracing his meteoric rise through the ranks of General Motors, his obsessive quest to build a sports car that would conquer the world, and his shocking fall from grace on charges of cocaine trafficking. Interweaving a treasure trove of archival footage with dramatic vignettes starring Alec Baldwin,Framing John DeLoreanis a gripping look at a man who gambled everything in his pursuit of the American Dream. Co-directors Don Argott (The Art of the Steal) and Sheena M. Joyce (The Atomic States of America) talk about the complex, brilliant and driven man behind the salacious headlines and explore with us just how far was he willing to go to realize his dreams.
“A smart, hook-filled blend of documentary and fictionalized re-enactments…” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times
“Framing John DeLorean deftly tells the bigger-than-life tale of one man’s bold quest to build a timeless sports car.” – Ryan McCaffrey, IGN Movies
“Most compelling of all are the interviews with the two people who come closest to answering, or at least addressing, the question that overwhelms this entire project: DeLorean’s daughter Kathryn and son Zach.” – ElizabethWeltzman, The Wrap
“Framing John DeLorean is an entertaining, high wire filmmaking experiment that does well by the controversial visionary at its centre.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate
CHARLIE SAYS, follows three women whose names have become synonymous with the murders of that shocked a nation and the man who ordered them on their deadly spree, Charles Manson. The women – Leslie Van Houten (Hannah Murray), Patricia Krenwinkel (Sosie Bacon), and Susan Atkins (Marianne Rendón) – remained under the spell of the infamous cult leader (Matt Smith) for years. Confined to an isolated cellblock in a California penitentiary, the trio seem destined to live out the rest of their lives under the delusion that their crimes were part of a cosmic plan, until empathetic graduate student Karlene Faith (Merritt Wever) is enlisted to rehabilitate them. Convinced the prisoners are not the inhuman monsters the world believes them to be, Karlene begins the arduous process of breaking down the psychological barriers erected by Manson. But are the women ready to confront the horror of what they did? In CHARLIE SAYS, boundary pushing auteur Mary Harron (American Psycho, I Shot Andy Warhol) presents a provocative new perspective on one of the most notorious crimes of the 20th century.Director Mary Harron joins us to talk about how these seemingly sane, likable young woman could have committed such hideous crimes and why it drove her to tell their stories.
“This is a stunning piece of American cinema that draws on the events in California to talk about the death of an era, to foreshadow a nation’s loss of hope.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“What makes Charlie Says so original is its perspective and its willingness to depict the banality and absurdity of life with Manson rather than simply to portray him as the quintessence of evil.” – Geoffrey Macnab, Independent
“Charlie Says is absorbing if only intermittently effective, but it has the distinction of bringing a female gaze to arguably the most notorious crime spree in American history.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
** Spotlight on the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Visual Communications, the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, announced its outstanding program of films and events for the upcoming 35th edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) running MAY 2 – MAY 10, 2018. The all encompassing annual film celebration is presented across Los Angeles in West Hollywood, Downtown LA, Little Tokyo, Koreatown, and Hollywood. Visual Communications proudly celebrates the Film Festival’s 34 years as Southern California’s largest and most prestigious film festival of its kind. LAAPFF launches the celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month through this year’s slate of over 100 films from both Asian Pacific American and Asian international artists. For over three decades, the Festival has presented nearly 5,000 films by Asian Pacific American and Asian International talent. This year’s festival will feature over 130 short films during the nine day fest from May 2 – May 10. These cinema gems from around the globe featuring stories about love, family, heartbreak, friendships, and self acceptance are all part of the exciting line up. The Festival opens May 2nd with the World Premiere of YELLOW ROSE directed by Diane Paragas and starring Broadway legend Lea Salonga and emerging star Eva Noblezada. Two acclaimed festival favorites will screen as the Centerpiece Films at the Festival; GO BACK TO CHINA directed by Emily Ting and MS. PURPLE directed by Justin Chon. The closing night film is the world premiere of EMPTY BY DESIGN directed by Andrea A. Walter premiering on Friday, May 10. LAAPFF Executive Director Francis Cullado of Visual Communications stops by to talk about the ever expanding interest in Asian filmmakers and the trailblazing artistry being done by them.
For the last 20 years the Newport Beach Film Festival has brought the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking from around the world to Orange County. Under the direction of CEO and Co-founder Gregg Schwenk and the festival’s staff have been committed to entertaining and enlightening the public with a first-class international film program as well as providing a forum for cultural understanding and enriching educational opportunities, the Festival focuses on showcasing a diverse collection of both studio and independent films. The Festival supports the creation and advancement of innovative and artistic cinematic works from both emerging and seasoned filmmakers and proudly embraces the passion, vision and independent spirit of these talented artists. With the integration of the local community and educational institutions, the Festival stimulates an interest in the study and appreciation of film and encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to participate. The Community Outreach Program was created with the idea that film offers new perspectives and possibilities for a changing world. Each year, the Festival partners with over 40 non-profit organizations and pairs each philanthropic organization with a film that aligns with their mission. The Festival gives non-profit organizations a forum to voice their message to large audiences and spread awareness of their organization and mission through the medium of film. Areas of focus include the arts, health and human services, the environment, education, children’s causes, seniors’ and veterans’ programs, and alumni clubs. CEO and Co-founder Gregg Schwenk joins us to talk about a remarkable festival line-up of comedies, dramas, short films, action sports, classics, documentaries, musicals and foreign film excellence.
In a media environment dominated by increasingly concentrated corporate interests, eight distribution companies who have long championed the best in independent features, documentaries, and social issue films, have joined forces to help launch a new subscription streaming service, OVID.tv. Starting today, OVID.tv offers more than 350 quality documentaries and art-house films from the collections of its founding content partners: Bullfrog Films, The dGenerate Films Collection, Distrib Films US, First Run Features, Grasshopper Film, Icarus Films, KimStim, and Women Make Movies. Most of the films on OVID.tv are not available on any other streaming platform, and OVID.tvwill be adding even more films every two weeks–14 fiction feature films and one 10-part documentary series are already scheduled for release. Despite the odds and with little capital, Icarus Films, Docuseek, and our partners have decided that the time has come to step forward and build a new, independent space, dedicated to the films that we believe in and care about, and that we believe you care about, and value as well. OVID.tv co-founder Jonathan Miller joins us to talk about an affordable option for film lovers looking for the highest quality cinema experience presented by people who share your passion.
“A cornucopia of international movies and documentaries… recent ones as well as classics. It’s far better for recent movies than FilmStruck ever was, and its spectrum of new movies is far more substantial than that of Netflix, wider-ranging than that of Amazon.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker, March 22, 2019
Never before released in the US, Franco Rosso’s incendiary BABYLON had its world premiere at Cannes in 1980 but was deemed “too controversial, and likely to incite racial tension” (Vivien Goldman, Time Out) by the New York Film Festival that same year. Raw and smoldering, it follows a young reggae DJ (Brinsley Forde, frontman of landmark British group Aswad) in Thatcher-era Brixton as he pursues his musical ambitions, while battling fiercely against the racism and xenophobia of employers, neighbors, police, and the National Front. Written by Martin Stellman (QUADROPHENIA) and shot by two-time Oscar® winner Chris Menges (THE KILLING FIELDS) with beautiful, smoky cinematography that’s been compared to TAXI DRIVER, BABYLON is fearless and unsentimental, yet tempered by the hazy bliss of the dancehall set to a blistering reggae, dub, and lovers rock soundtrack featuring Aswad, Johnny Clarke, and others, anchored by Dennis Bovell’s (The Slits) atmospheric score. BABYLON is the product of outsiders: director Rosso (1941-2016) immigrated from Italy as a child, Stellman is the son of Viennese Jewish immigrants, producer Gavrik Losey is the son of blacklisted Hollywood director Joseph Losey, and composer Bovell immigrated from Barbados, and was falsely imprisoned for running a sound system—the script was partly based on his experiences. Beyond the significance of being the only feature film about London’s sound system scene, BABYLON unflinchingly observes the place of marginalized people in a society resistant—to the point of violence—to multiculturalism. Writer Martin Stellman joins us to talk about the impact that Babylon had on the Caribbean diaspora living in London, the neo-realism style of the film and winding path that Babylon has taken over the last 40 years.
“A STORY WITH LITERALLY EPIC STAKES. It’s no surprise why the film may resonate now—its themes of finding community through art and trying to exist in a society that doesn’t want you are unfortunately both timeless and extremely current.” – Jaya Saxena, GQ
“REMARKABLE. Never lets go for a moment.” – Derek Malcolm, The Guardian
“FEARLESS. Loud and musical and cheerful and funny, and also tragic.” – David Robinson, The Times“EXPLODES IN THE GUT with a powerful mix of pain and pleasure. Like the reggae music that pulses through it, Babylon is RICH, ROUGH and REAL. And like the street life of the young black Londoners it portrays, it’s THREATENING, TOUCHING, VIOLENT and FUNNY.”– Simon Perry, Variety
“FIVE STARS. One of the greatest British films.” – MOJO
In BILLBOARD Casey Lindeweiler (John Robinson) inherits WTYT 960 from his legendary radioman father only to discover that it’s on the brink of financial collapse. To right the sinking ship, Casey pulls out the oldest trick in radio, the wacky contest. His grand plan is to host a billboard sitting contest where four people will live on a catwalk in front of a billboard for the chance of winning a mobile home and “nine-sixty thousand” dollars. Unprepared for the spotlight, Casey rises to the challenge of running a business but is faced with relentless attacks from his competition (Eric Roberts), the local authorities, the media, and mother nature herself. Casey struggles to keep his father’s legacy alive while fighting to stay independent.BILLBOARD is inspired by an actual billboard-sitting contest Zelker recalls from his youth. BILLBOARD, which stars: John Robinson (Elephant, Lords of Dogtown). Heather Matarazzo (Welcome to the Dollhouse, The Princess Diaries), Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight, Grey’s Anatomy), Leo Fitzpatrick (Kids, Bully), DarleneCates (What’s Eating Gilbert Grapes, Picket Fences), and Oakes Fegley (Pete’s Dragon, This is Where I Leave You). A long-time pioneer in what has been called “transmedia” entertainment, Zelker is committed to changing the face of film. The “Billboard cine•experience,” tells variations of its story in different ways per medium, which is something unique and not yet fully embraced by the mainstream movie industry. Zelker exploresmultiple sides of the narrative and is unafraid to push traditional boundary lines between truth and fiction; all while enabling audiences to become a part of the story. The innovative filmmaker Zeke Zelker joins us to talk about his approach to creating an entire cinematic eco-system and why it is so important for filmmakers to seek out new ways of engaging an audience.
DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE tells the tale of two policemen, one an old-timer, Ridgemen, (Mel Gibson), the other his volatile younger partner, Anthony, (Vince Vaughn), who find themselves suspended when a video of their strong-arm tactics become the media’s cause du jour. Low on cash and with no other options, these two embittered soldiers descend into the criminal underworld to gain their just due, but instead find far more than they wanted awaiting them in the shadows. What bad things will good men do for their families? In the hardboiled world of DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE, who lives, who dies, and who gets rich is a fate written in bullets. Director S. Craig Zahler stops to talk about his stylishly brutal, modern day film noir and his determination to tell this story on his own terms.
“S. Craig Zahler’s latest film is a true master stroke in filmmaking. It is elegantly slow, contained, precise and notably beautifully framed throughout.” – Ben Ralph, Discussing Film
“Anchored by three brilliant central performances, Dragged Across Concrete is an interesting, unpredictable movie that presents two plots that feel like we’ve seen them before and then zigs when we expect it to zag.” – Sean Fallon, Film Inquiry
“S. Craig Zahler is a singular voice in cinema, one who is willing to take pulp concepts and craft them into unflinchingly violent features.” – Niall Browne, Movies in Focus
“Few filmmakers come to mind who could orchestrate these slow-burning set pieces with such precision; it’s like watching a chess game in which everyone thinks they’re a king but most of them are pawns” – Michael Nordine, IndieWire