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
Mining country in Appalachia has been declared The Devilʼs Playground. A close-knit group of veteran miners, all friends and family, commence what would bea normal dayʼs work — except today a rookie, the son of one of our veterans and the god-son of the Section Leader, joins them, 18 year-old Ryan. With ever-growing safety concerns at the mine, Zeke (Section Leader and long time coal mining veteran), struggles with the correct course of action, weighing on one hand the safety of his men, and on the other, the need to earn a steady wage in an economically depressed region. Today, however, fate takes matters into its own hands when a huge methane explosion rips through the mine. Smoke engulfs the men, forcing them to rely on nothing more than, brains, brawn and faulty self-rescuers (oxygen tanks that afford them one hour of air). MINE 9 is the story of the struggle for survival against all odds; men trapped in hell as the result of exploitation, greed and circumstance.Director Edward Mensore’sintense new action/thriller MINE 9 will have its’ World premiere at the 2019 Cinequest Film Festival, running March 5-17th, 2019 in San Jose, California. MINE 9 is Edward Mensore’s second feature film.Eddie Mensore joins us to talk about his rivet, harrowing film about bravery in the face of insurmountable odds and the devotion of the men and women to a way of life.
From director Todd Douglas Miller (Dinosaur 13) comesAPOLLO 11a cinematic event fifty years in the making. Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, APOLLO 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission—the one that first put men on the moon, and forever madeNeil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins into household names. Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future. APOLLO 11 director Todd Douglas Miller joins us to talk about taking on the challenge of sifting through a mountain of audio and video, developing new technologies for processing and enhancing 16mm film stock and capturing the tension and triumph of an incomparable achievement in human history.
“The result is a stirring companion piece to Damien Chazelle’s recent “First Man,” and one no less worth seeing on the big screen when Neon releases it in theaters worldwide.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“‘Apollo 11″ is a cool, meticulous, at times enthralling documentary that captures the Apollo 11 flight in its entirety through raw footage drawn from the NASA vaults.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“The images astound, the audio soundtrack is a master class in montage, and the events captured are herculean in scope.” – Jason Gorber, High Def Digest
“A masterful work of archival research.” – Nate Jones, New York Magazine / Vulture
THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT follows the epic adventures of an American legend that no one has ever heard of. Since WWII, Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott) has lived with the secret that he was responsible for the assassination of Adolf Hitler. Now, decades later, the US government has called on him again for a new top-secret mission. Bigfoot has been living deep in the Canadian wilderness and is carrying a deadly plague that is now threatening to spread to the general population. Relying on the same skills that he honed during the war, Calvin must set out to save the free world yet again. Director Robert D. Kryzkowski joins us to talk about working with two-time Academy Award nominated director John Sayles and visual effects wizard and two time Academy Award winner, Douglas Trumbull (Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey) and how he was able to fashion an endearing, bittersweet saga of a heavy hearted man driven by a profound sense of duty.
“From its world-weary hero to its no-nonsense, casual swapping of fiction for fact, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot uses action and something like science fiction to deliver an wholly entertaining, yet poignant message.” – Slashfilm
**SUNDANCE PREMIERE** Based loosely on Abby McEnany’s own experiences, WORK IN PROGRESS is an honest, funny, and rarely seen exploration of the “isms” and phobias that permeate all of our lives: homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, sizeism, classism, and more. In a nutshell, Abby is a 45 year old queer dyke who is finally coming into her own or she is a 45 year old queer dyke who is about to kill herself. Both are true.It just depends on which day you meet her. She is a finely crafted cocktail of Depression, OCD, Queerness, Insecurity and Anxiety but she only drinks Miller Lite. And in this coming of age story, every little thing or person she meets has the potential for life-altering meaning. Abby is in an adolescent-like stage and has been stuck there for 30 years. After her therapist dies mid-session and she begins to date a trans man, Abby is forced to re-evaluate her life choices, her dating options and whether or not to confront the woman responsible for ‘ruining her life’: SNL’s Julia Sweeney. Co-directors Abby McEnany, Tim Mason and actor Julia Sweeney join us for a rollicking conversation on their hilarious, honest and engaging Sundance Film Festival debut episode of Work in Progress.
In November 1940, days after the Nazis sealed 450,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, a secret band of journalists, scholars and community leaders decided to fight back. Led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum and known by the code name Oyneg Shabes, this clandestine group vowed to defeat Nazi lies and propaganda not with guns or fists but with pen and paper. Now, for the first time, their story is told as a feature documentary. Written, produced and directed by Roberta Grossman, based upon the book Who Will Write Our History? by Samuel D. Kassow, and executive produced by Nancy Spielberg, Who Will Write Our History mixes the writings of the Oyneg Shabes archive with new interviews, rarely seen footage, and stunning dramatizations (shot on location in Lodz and Warsaw, Poland) to transport us inside the Ghetto and the lives of these courageous resistance fighters. They defied their murderous enemy with the ultimate weapon – the truth – and risked everything so that their archive would survive the war, even if they did not. Featuring the voices of three-time Academy Award nominee Joan Allen and Academy Award winner Adrian Brody, the film honors the Oyneg Shabes members’ determination in creating the most important cache of eyewitness accounts to survive the war. Director / producer / writer Roberta Grossman joins us to talk about how her passion for social justice led her to Emanuel Ringelblum and what Who Will Write Our History can teaches about the world we live in today.
“A vital and sobering documentary” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“Who Will Write Our History tells the courageous but mostly unknown story of a covert group known as Oyneg Shabes and how they vowed to defeat the Nazis with pen and paper.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
“The staged scenes are well acted, while readings from diaries and letters are heartbreaking.” – Ken Jaworowski, New York Times
“A deeply moving history-behind-the-history.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
Up a dirt road, nestled in the hills of Southern California lies Spiral Farm, a vibrant and colorful intentional community inspired by the communes of the late 60’s. Its eclectic inhabitants look out for each other, as they work side by side on this completely self sustaining permaculture farm. 17 year-old Anahita (Piper De Palma), has lived on Spiral Farm for as long as she can remember and dreams of one day leaving the safety of Spiral and pursuing a career as a dancer. However, whenever she makes these plans she is always deterred by the thought of leaving Ocean, her eight year old nephew who she cares for and shares a deep bond with. Stifled by her responsibilities to her family and the commune, Anahita has developed what her mother (Amanda Plummer) calls a “bashfulness” when it comes to sexuality. When her mother’s old flame, Maurizio (Cosimo Fusco) arrives for an unexpected visit, he brings along his teenage son, Theo (Teo Halm). Anahita is immediately drawn to him, confused by her newfound feelings. When Theo discovers her passion for dance he encourages her to journey into the city for an audition. Away from the confines of the communes, Anahita discovers that although she lacks the technical skills to be a professional dancer, she may still be able to leave Spiral by going to college in the city changing the course of her life. But will Anahita, who has been so dedicated to others chose to live for herself? Director and writer Alex Tibaldi joins us to talk about his feature film debut and his intimate, moving character study of women in transition, searching for meaningful connections.
BEHIND THE BULLET is the directorial debut from author and activist, Heidi Yewman. When her former basketball coach and teacher, Dave Sanders was killed in the Columbine High School massacre along with 12 students, she began profiling the lives of those altered by the impact of gun violence. She is a tireless advocate for gun safety, sitting on the boards of The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence,Women Donors Network,Stop our Shootings, and Trauma Intervention Program of Portland, OR. In BEHIND THE BULLET will make it’s world debut as a documentary competition selection at the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival, Yewman chronicles anin-depth look at four individuals who have pulled the trigger and the profound impact it’s had on their lives. Every year, almost 40,000 people are shot and killed in America. Each shooting devastates and forever changes the victim’s family and friends. BEHIND THE BULLET explores a side of gun violence that’s rarely talked about – the impact a shooting has on the shooter. Four individuals share how the pull of a trigger, changed them emotionally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually. They describe the conflicting emotions and moral injury that comes after a self-defense, accidental, or unintentional shooting, offering a new and unbiased perspective on gun violence. Director Heidi Yewman joins us to talk about the devastating impacts that guns and the profound impact they have had on four people’s lives.
“BEHIND THE BULLET is a captivating and honest look at what is going on in our country when it comes to gun control.It looks at all sides of the issue that sometimes the media does not discuss or cover.This is a must see film in our current climate.” — Peter Hammond, Deadline
“Behind The Bullet is just WOW – an amazing insight into what we are dealing with in the U.S.It’s a refreshing insight and a story that needs to be told.”— Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter
This Teacher, Actor Kevin Kane (Director Mark Jackson)
THIS TEACHER follows a French Muslim woman (Cesar-winner Hafsia Herzi) as she travels to New York City to visit her childhood best friend from the rough neighborhoods outside of Paris. When the reunion proves disastrous, Hafsia steals her friend’s credit card and identity, and disappears to a remote cabin upstate. Deep in the woods and alone for the first time in her life, she experiences a divine revelation of an existence without borders. But when she discovers that she’s not alone on the property, Hafsia’s sojourn in nature gradually descends into a terrifying study of the intolerance and suspicion she encounters and reflects back to an Islamophobic America. Written and directed by Mark Jackson featuring a score composed from the Grammy nominated Dave Eggar, the film stars: Cesar-winner Hafsia Herzi (The Secret of theGrain) Sarah Kazemy (Circumstance) Lucy Walters (Power), Kevin Kane (Inside Amy Schumer), and Lev Gorn (The Americans). Jackson’s previous films have won 17 awards including an Independent Spirit Award and a Gotham Nomination. Jackson is also a Sundance, Cinereach and Skywalker Sound Fellow. Actor Kevin Kane joins us for a conversation on THIS TEACHER’S closing night screening at the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival, intolerance and not being afraid to love.
Lois Vossen is the Executive Producer of Independent Lens and has been with the show since its inception as a primetime series on PBS. Lois is responsible for commissioning new films, programming the series and working with filmmakers on editorial and broadcast issues. Independent Lens films have received 17 Emmy Awards, 16 George Foster Peabody Awards, five Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Journalism Awards and eight Academy Award nominations. The series was honored in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 with the International Documentary Association (IDA) Award for Best Series. Before joining ITVS, Lois was the Associate Managing Director of Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Labs. Lois is a member of the Television Academy Board of Governors, representing the documentary branch. She has served on the jury at Shanghai Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, SXSW, DOC New Zealand and Palm Springs International Film Festival, among others. Under her leadership, films funded or co-produced by Independent Lens include I Am Not Your Negro, Always in Season, Bedlam, One Child Nation, Black Memorabilia, The King, People’s Republic of Desire, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, TOWER, Newtown, Best of Enemies, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, (T)ERROR, The House I Live In, The Invisible War, and The Trials of Muhammad Ali, among many others. Widely regarded as one of the most influential supporters of independent and documentary filmmaking, Lois Vossen joins us for a conversation on the role that Independent Lens /POV and Public Broadcasting has had in maintaining the highest standards for innovative storytelling in non-fiction cinema.
It all began when a group of cheerful, subversive filmmakers weren’t accepted into the Sundance Film Festival. Unwilling to take “no” for an answer, they instead started their own event – Slamdance: Anarchy in Utah. 24 years later, Slamdance has become a year-round organization fostering the development of unique and innovative filmmakers. The organization now consists of the Film Festival, Screenplay Competition and Slamdance Studios.Dan Mirvish, Jon Fitzgerald, Shane Kuhn and Peter Baxter are the founding forefathers who, along with co-conspirator Paul Rachman,fought for truly independent filmmakers by giving them a voice in 1995 at the very first Slamdance Film Festival. Since then, the festival takes place every January in the breathtakingly stunning, snow-capped mountains of Park City, Utah at the exact same time as the Sundance Film Festival, toprovide a more authentic representation of independent filmmaking. Up-and-coming writers, directors and producers, alongside seasoned veterans and film lovers, converge for the weeklong celebration of independent cinema, realizing that Slamdance is a great place to find those next, great, visionary films. Slamdance lives and bleeds by its mantra By Filmmakers For Filmmakers. No other film festival in the world is entirely run and organized by the creative force that can only be found in filmmakers. Slamdance adamantly supports self-governance amongst independents, and exists to deliver what filmmakers go to festivals for – a chance to show their work and a platform to launch their careers. The festival has earned a solid reputation for premiering films by first-time writers and directors working within the creative confines of limited budgets. Co-founder and President Peter Baxter joins us to talk about this year’s Slamdance, the groundbreaking films and the innovative new distribution being launched by Slamdance.
Driven by a virtuoso performance by Mads Mikkelsen ARCTIC tells the story of aman stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive. Director Joe Penna stops by to talk about co-writing the minimalist script with Ryan Morrison, the remarkable performance by Mads Mikkelsen and the rigors of shooting in an inhospitably windy and frigid location.
“It’s broad stuff, and well-trod terrain for a movie that takes place in uncharted territory, but it cuts straight to the difference between endurance and survival.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“There are no cut corners, no overly blatant only-in-the-movies gambits. Mikkelsen’s stranded pilot has little to rely on beyond his will, so we feel at every step that he could truly be us.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“Arctic is elegantly shot, crisp and unfussy, and seamless in its near-invisible use of digital effects, creating a persuasive you-are-there feeling that’s rare in these days of flashy CG thrills.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
“Mikkelsen takes commanding centre stage in a guilty-pleasure survival drama with global ambitions.” – Kevin Maher, Times (UK)
Close, an adrenaline-pumping action thriller written and directed by Vicky Jewson (Born of War), is inspired by the life of the world’s leading female bodyguard, Jacquie Davis. The film stars Noomi Rapace as Sam. Sam is the world’s toughest female bodyguard, tasked with protecting high profile targets for terrorism and assassination. She fought her way to the top in a man’s world and feels more at home in the war zones of Sudan than back at her L.A. apartment. When she’s assigned to protect a VIP in Morocco, she thinks she’s in for a quick and easy job. That VIP turns out to be Zoe (Sophie Nélisse), a young and very rich heiress who’s never left her bubble of wealth and who isn’t keen on being baby sat. Sam can take a bullet for a president, but young privileged girls aren’t her specialty — especially a spoiled one. When Zoe’s bulletproof, secluded compound comes under attack in an explosive kidnapping attempt, Sam’s skills are put to the test. Accused of murder themselves, they must find a way to work together, determined to and hunt the attackers and their corrupt employers. Director Vicky Jewson joins us to talk about meeting Jacquie Davis and the impact it had on her decision to tell her story and the significance of her place in a world dominated by men.
Featuring a heartwarming performance by Molly Ringwald, ALL THESE SMALL MOMENTS tells the story of a teenage boy’s infatuation with a woman he sees on the bus thatfurther complicates his already tumultuous adolescence. ALL THESE SMALL MOMENTS is firmly rooted in the bewildering tangle of human relationships. A husband and wife who are trying to find their way back to themselves, because they’ve drifted too far and no longer recognize each other; an adult woman and a teenage boy who somehow fill a void in each other; and an almost accidental friendship that grows to be much more. ALL THESE SMALL MOMENTS is a portrait of adolescence and aims to capture a time period that, if we make it out unscathed, defines us. Director and screenwriter joins us for a conversation on the working with a cast of established actors like Molly Ringwald, Brian D’arcy James and Jemima Kirke and young actors like Brendan Meyer, Harley Quinn Smith and Sam McCarthy. Director and writer Melissa B. Miller Costanzo talks about getting her first feature film off the ground, enlisting actress Molly Ringwald to be a part of her project and channeling her own adolescent experiences into the performances of her talented cast.
“A beautifully accomplished first film.” Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter
“All These Small Moments reminded me a great deal of two films in particular: that of the recent Lady Bird and this year’s very underseen and underrated Blame.” – David Fontana, Film Inquiry
“Authenticity of character is All These Small Moments’ strongest suit because each proves honest whether or not their inclusion in the larger story does.” – Jared Mobarak, The FIlm Stage
“Despite being overly tidy and commonplace in its plot, [director Melissa B.] Miller-Costanzo succeeds in deliberately avoiding resolution, and while that’s bound to frustrate people, it’s key to the movie’s payoff.” – Kyle Kohner, The Playlist
From the creator of the Final Destination franchise comes a new tale of death. Following the passing of his father, Aaron Hammond (Michael Welsh) returns to his hometown to help his devastated mother (Lin Shaye) and to confront his past demons. Sifting through his father’s belongings, Aaron comes upon a mysterious item that is far more than it seems. The Final Wish Director Timothy Woodward Jr. and lead actor Michael Welsh joins us for a conversation on continuing the cinematic legacy of Final Destination and bringing a creative energy to a familiar story of demonic possession, family struggles and reckoning with the past.
“If you’re looking for a spooky little flick that forges some new ground against a backdrop of familiar terror tropes, The Final Wish will grant you that.” – Steve Barton, Brainwaves
“The Final Wish is an easy watch, fun and simple. It’s perfect for that night when you just want to sit back, relax and enjoy.” – Staci Layne Wilson, We Live Entertainment
“There’s still a lot to The Final Wish that I really appreciated and enjoyed, and it would make for a killer double feature with Wish Upon.” – Heather Wilson, Daily Dead
“THE FINAL WISH is yet another example of taking a low budget and bringing a fresh new take on a familiar storyline. It offers a well written script and a cast worth investing in.” – Jimmy O, Movie Emporium
A Netflix original documentary, Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalskitakes us inside the mind of one of the last century’s great characters, offering a startling look at how history can stand in the way of true artistic genius in one generation while stepping aside to reveal it dramatically in the next. In 1968, pop culture collector Glenn Bray, who had an interest in surrealist art, happened upon an unusual book featuring the art of Stanislav Szukalski. Like most people, Bray had never heard of Szukalski, but he delighted in showing the book of drawings and photos of sculptures to his circle of friends in the underground art comic world, including Robert and Suzanne Williams and George DiCaprio, who found the forgotten Polish master’s vision far ahead of its time. It was a few years later when Bray noticed an unusual poster depicting Copernicus on the wall of a small bookstore in Tarzana – something he immediately recognized as the work of Szukalski. The bookseller informed him that the artist himself had given the poster as a gift – in fact, he lived nearby. Bray couldn’t believe it – this long-forgotten genius was still alive, and in the same area code. Featuring archival footage and dozens of interviews with Szukalski himself, Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski offers a startling look at how history can stand in the way of artistic genius in one generation while stepping aside to reveal it dramatically in the next. Director Irek Dobrowolski and Producer Stephen Cooper join us to talk about an incredible artist and incredibly complex, nearly forgotten “genius” who remained true to his inner demons.
Gilda Radner puts a smile on the faces of people who remember watching her as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, where she created and portrayed such now-classic comic characters as Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella and Lisa Loopner. LOVE, GILDA, directed by Lisa D’Apolito, is a true autobiography, told in Gilda’s words and in her own voice. Working with the Radner Estate, D’Apolito unearthed a collection of diaries and personal audio and videotapes documenting her childhood, her comedy career, her relationships and ultimately, her struggle with cancer. This never-before-seen footage and journal entries form the narrative spine of the documentary, allowing Gilda to tell her own story– through the laughter and sometimes the tears. Incredibly, she was able to find humor in even the darkest of times. Gilda’s spirit lives on in comedy as a female trailblazer who continues to inspire many present day comedic performers, including Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Cecily Strong. Also interviewed are SNL original cast members– Chevy Chase, Laraine Newman and Paul Shaffer– as well as, Lorne Michaels (SNL creator and producer), Alan Zweibel (SNL writer), Stephen Schwartz (Broadway composer); Andrew Alexander (CEO of Second City) and long-time friend Martin Short. LOVE, GILDA Director Lisa D’Apolito talks about the unique window her loving film provides into the honest and whimsical world of a beloved performer whose greatest role was sharing her own story.
“A splendid tribute to one of America’s comedy legends.” – J.R. Kinnard, Film Inquiry
“We come away with the portrait of someone who was never just going along for the ride, but who was always questioning and challenging herself, working toward professional excellence and hoping for an ideal romance.” – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
“‘Laughter – that’s what hugs me and holds me,’ she confides on those muddy cassettes. So does the warm, tender embrace of “Love, Gilda.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“All the laughs-as well as the tears-in the too-brief but shining life of a true comic genius are present and accounted for in this essential, intensely moving doc.” – David Noh, Film Journal International