An inspired labor of love for zine-making (Exploding Cat) teens Sandi Tan, Jasmine Ng and Sophie Siddique, Shirkers was a Singapore-made 1992 cult classic—or it would have been, had the 16mm footage not been stolen by their enigmatic American collaborator Georges Cardona, who disappeared. More than two decades later, Tan, now a novelist in L.A., returns to the country of her youth and to the memories of a man who both enabled and thwarted her dreams. Magically, too, she returns to the film itself, revived in a way she never could have imagined. Shirkersmade its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018, where Sandi Tan received the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award, and went on to tour festivals all over the world, including True/False, HotDocs, CPHDOX, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Full Frame, San Francisco Intl. Film Festival, AFI Docs and more. Director Sandi Tan talks about her 25-year relationship with her friends, then and now, Exploding Cat and her thoughts on losing and then rediscovering a crucial part of her life.
“Wildly delightful… teeming with incident and personality… No amount of caustic self-criticism from Tan can dampen the thrill of witnessing the vibrancy and bounteous energy of everything captured within the frame.” – Eric Hynes, Film Comment
“Shirkers has the handmade delicacy of a scrapbook come to life… [Sandi Tan] has produced a remarkable statement on the formation of a creative identity across many years and life experiences.” – Eric Kohn, Indiewire
Forty years ago, Dorothea (Tyne Daly) and Greta (Elisabeth Henry) moved to the town of Checkford and bought an abandoned bread factory that they transformed into an arts space. Here they host movies, plays, dance, exhibits and artists. It’s where civic groups and immigrant communities can meet, where there are after school programs for children. Now a celebrity couple—performance artists from China—have come to Checkford. They’ve constructed a huge building, the FEEL Institute, down the street. It is a strange sight for a small town. Dorothea and Greta learn about a new proposal to give all the funding from the school system for their children’s arts programs to the FEEL Institute. Without this funding, the Bread Factory would not survive. They quickly rally the community to save their space. The commercial forces behind the FEEL Institute fight also, bringing a young movie star to town to help make their case. The school board meeting turns into a circus where the fate of the Bread Factory hangs in the balance.
Bread Factory, Part Two: Walk with Me a While
Checkford hasn’t been the same since the school board meeting. Mysteriously, the reporter who runs the local newspaper disappears. Bizarre tourists start to show up, then come mysterious tech start-up workers. With all the new people, real estate is booming. Amidst all these distractions, Dorothea and Greta try to continue their work. They are rehearsing a production of HECUBA by Euripides. On the day they open the play, Dorothea gets the news that the Bread Factory will lose an essential piece of their funding. The beautiful opening night performance of HECUBA plays to a tiny audience. Brokenhearted, Dorothea and Greta must decide whether to give up their work at the Bread Factory because their community and support has disappeared, or to continue in their struggle to build community through art.
Patrick Wang was born in Texas, the son of Taiwanese immigrants. He is author of the books THE MONOLOGUE PLAYS and POST SCRIPT, an interactive book about the making of THE GRIEF OF OTHERS.His first film IN THE FAMILY was released to critical acclaim in the US and France and hailed “an indie masterpiece” by Roger Ebert. He was named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine, and the New York Times remarked, “This is a career to keep an eye on.” Director and writer Patrick Wang joins us for a conversation on his brilliant, funny, touching, humanist rumination on art, relationships and MAY RAY.
Under the guidance of acclaimed South African storyteller, Gcina Mhlophe, five orphaned children from Swaziland collaborate to craft a collective fairytale drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character, LIYANA is brought to life in innovative animated artwork as she embarks on a perilous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. The children’s real and imagined worlds begin to converge, and they must choose what kind of story they will tell – in fiction and in their own lives. This genre-defying film weaves an original animated hero’s journey with poetic documentary scenes to create an inspiring tale of perseverance. LIYANA is a tribute to creativity, the strength of the human spirit, and the healing power storytelling.Critically acclaimed, and executive produced by award-winning actress, Thandie Newton, LIYANA has won more than 25 jury and audience awards and screened at more than 80 film festivals around the world including the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival and MoMA’s Doc Fortnight. Co-directors Amanda and Aaron Kopp join us for a conversation on their enchanting, inspiring and wildly creative film.
BISBEE ’17 is a non-fiction feature film by Sundance award winning director Robert Greene set in Bisbee, Arizona, an eccentric old mining town just miles away from both Tombstone and the Mexican border. Radically combining documentary and genre elements, the film follows several members of the close knit community as they collaborate with the filmmakers to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Bisbee Deportation, where 1,200 immigrant miners were violently taken from their homes by a deputized force, shipped to the desert on cattle cars and left to die. Bisbee was once known as a White Man’s Camp, and that racist past lingers in the air. As we meet the townspeople, they begin to confront the violent past of the Deportation, a long-buried secret in the old company town. As the 100th anniversary of Bisbee’s darkest day approaches, locals dress as characters on both sides of the still-polarizing event, staging dramatic recreations of scenes from the escalating miner’s strike that lead to the Deportation. Spaces in town double as past and present; re-enactors become ghosts in the haunted streets of the old copper camp. Richard plays the sheriff in a Western, Fernando portrays a Mexican miner in a Musical, a local politician is in her own telenovela. These and other enacted fantasies mingle with very real reckonings and it all builds towards a massive re-staging of the Deportation itself on the exact day of its centennial anniversary. Director Robert Greene (Actress, Kate Plays Christine) joins us for a conversation on his latest provocative and compelling new film.
“‘Even though “Bisbee ’17′ depicts a wholesome and harmonious community undertaking, it is a profoundly haunted and haunting film.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times
“The director purposefully pulls us this way and that, weaving cinematic spells and then yanking us out of them; as viewers, we are both inside and outside the story.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice
“The film is rich and multifaceted, as Greene employs an array of styles (historical reenactments, direct cinema-style portraiture, musical numbers) to investigate the complex relationship between Bisbee’s past and present.” – Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader
“The result is a singularly American riff on The Act of Killing, a fascinating and dream-like mosaic that’s less driven by residual anger than by cockeyed concern, less interested in exhuming the past than in revealing its value to the present.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“Bisbee ’17 is a fierce, lyrical probe into the soul of a town haunted by a history it would rather forget. It’s also an unsettling cipher for America, in a year when the ghosts of our past revealed themselves in frightening ways.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
This Teacher follows a French Muslim woman (Cesar-winnerHafsia 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’ssojourn 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 the Grain) 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. Director and writer Mark Jackson (War Story, Without) joins us for a conversation on This Teachers’ premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival, intolerance and not being afraid to love.
This Teacher (LAFF World Premiere screening at September 22nd, 2018 at 4pm (with red carpet media check-in at 3pm) at ArcLight Culver City.
The Wrong Todd – Directed by Rob Schulbaum
Resistant to change, Todd (Jesse Rosen) finds himself at a crossroads when his girlfriend Lucy (Anna Rizzo) is offered a promotion on the other side of the country. Before he can decide whether to stay or go, Todd’s evil twin from a parallel universe arrives to take his place, and Todd must face the prospect of a world without Lucy.With the reluctant help of Lucy’s brother, Dave (Sean Carmichael), Lucy and Todd must confront the barriers to their relationship, their perception of self, and the laws of the universe itself to distinguish the wrong Todd from the right one. The Wrong Todd is a new take on a sci-fi-fi comedy drama with the added bonus of an evil twin from a parallel universe. The Wrong Todd is about championing love, accepting change, and realizing what you’ve taken for granted before it truly is too late.Inspired by the works of Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day)The Wrong Toddanswer the question so many people think but never articulate “what is wrong with me?” Starring Jesse Rosen (The Art of Being Straight), Anna Rizzo (Lost in Bloom), Sean Carmichael (Trinity), Derek K. Moore (Ghostbusters), and Erin Rose. Director Rob Schulbaum (Family Guy), joins us to talk about his directorial debut.
We The Coyotes – Co-directors Hanna Ladoul and Marco La Via
Making the films USA debut (it world premiered in the Acid section of Cannes this spring), We The Coyotes by first-time feature filmmakers Hanna Ladoul and Marco La Via, was inspired by the adventure and challenges of their own early days in Los Angeles. Enveloped in the love bubble a young couple, played by Morgan Saylor (Homeland) and McCaul Lombardi (Sollers Point), arrive from their cross-country trip from the midwest to stay with her aunt Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad), where we continually see them encounter the challenges of their first day in Los Angeles.The city is as much a character in this intimate drama as this young couple, as they find their hopes often crushed under the realities of what you encounter in any major city, much less the city of dreams.Not unlike countless twenty-somethings over the decades, our westward-bound couple in We The Coyotes arrive in Los Angeles with half-formed plans and half-empty pockets, but we see how tensions bend and shape them while the will to survive drives them on. Co-directors Hanna Ladoul and Marco La Via stop by to talk about their unvarnished, thought provoking film.
Directed by Chris Paine and executive produced by Paine and Tiffany Asakawa, Do You Trust This Computer? examines the promises and perils of this developing era. Science fiction has long anticipated the rise of machine intelligence. Today, a new generation of self-learning computers has begun to reshape every aspect of our lives. Incomprehensible amounts of data are being created, interpreted, and fed back to us in a tsunami of apps, personal assistants, smart devices, and targeted advertisements. Virtually every industry on earth is experiencing this transformation, from job automation, to medical diagnostics, even military operations. Do You Trust This Computer? explores the promises and perils of our new era. Will A.I. usher in an age of unprecedented potential, or prove to be our final invention? Featuring influential minds, including but not limited to: former Google Brain co-founder & director Andrew Ng, co-founder and CEO of Affectiva Rana el Kaliouby, Osaka University robotic engineer Hiroshi Ishiguro, engineer & entrepreneur Elon Musk, OpenAI director Shivon Zilis, and co- showrunner of HBO’s Westworld, Jonathan Nolan. Director Chris Paine ((Who Killed The Electric Car?, Revenge of the Electric Car) joins us for a lively conversation on where we are and where we are heading with Artificial Intelligence.
“‘Do You Trust This Computer?’ covers the major talking points about the benefits and dangers of artificial intelligence, assembling them into something engaging and alarming – if not exactly in-depth.” – Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times
“A sleek and engaging watch.” – Ken Jaworowski, New York Times
“This documentary covers a wide array of examples of the potentially scary downside of artificial intelligence, none particularly in depth but with enough ingenuity to cause alarm.” – Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media
“here’s a lot to cram into 78 minutes. Director Chris Paine doesn’t waste any time, so you’ll need to pay attention.” – Jennie Kermode. Eye for Film
Us three. Us brothers. Us kings, inseparable. Three boys tear through their childhood, in the midst of their young parents’ volatile love that makes and unmakes the family many times over. While Manny and Joel grow into versions of their loving and unpredictable father, Ma seeks to shelter her youngest, Jonah, in the cocoon of home. More sensitive and conscious than his older siblings, Jonah increasingly embraces an imagined world all his own. With a screenplay by Dan Kitrosser and Jeremiah Zagar based on the celebrated Justin Torres novel, We the Animals is a visceral coming-of-age story propelled by layered performances from its astounding cast of Sheila Vand, Raul Castillo, and three talented, young first-time actors, Evan Rosado, Isaiah Kristian, Josiah Gabriel as well as stunning animated sequences which bring Jonah’s torn inner world to life. Drawing from his documentary background, director Jeremiah Zagar creates an immersive portrait of working class family life and brotherhood. Director and screenwriter Jeremiah Zagar joins us to talk about his gorgeous and ethereal tale of young boys struggling to find their own way in a tattered landscape of family and identity.
“Every once in a while a movie grabs you, unsuspecting, and hustles its way into your heart. Jeremiah Zagar’s “We the Animals” does that.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
“On one level… “We the Animals” is a classic coming-of age tale; on another, it’s a near perfect depiction of the emotional damage that can result from economic insecurity” – Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times
“An impressionistic swirl of a film about masculinity, about abuse, about growing up queer, about chaotic family life, about the jumble of incidents and stirrings through which a child discovers a self. – Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
“In every scene, We the Animals evokes not only the specificity of that world but the deep-seated challenges of escaping it.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire
Madeline (Helena Howard) has become an integral part of a prestigious physical theater troupe. When the workshop’s ambitious director (Molly Parker) pushes the teenager to weave her rich interior world and troubled history with her mother (Miranda July) into their collective art, the lines between performance and reality begin to blur. The resulting battle between imagination and appropriation rips out of the rehearsal space and through all three women’s lives. Writer/director Josephine Decker has long been an independent filmmaker to admire, utilizing a welcome expressionistic approach that imbues her subjects with a vibrant sense of urgency. Anchored by a virtuoso performance from newcomer Helena Howard, whose powerful screen presence commands attention, Decker’s film displays a rare sensitivity for capturing the messy struggles of discovering a sense of one’s self that defies easy narrative categorization. Producers Krista Parris and Elizabeth Rao joins us to talk about this immersive “psychological horror” narrative, collaboration in creative process, the casting of newcomer Helena Howard.
“An ecstatically disorienting experience that defines its terms right from the start and then obliterates any trace of traditional film language, achieving a cinematic aphasia that allows Decker to redraw the boundaries between the stories we tell and the people we tell them about.” – David Ehrlich, INDIEWIRE
“In her third film, writer-director Josephine Decker confirms her position as the American indie queen of improv, whose self-styled mission it is to push the outer limits of film language into the stratosphere.”Deborah Young, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“Among its other astonishments, Josephine Decker’s new feature, MADELINE’S MADELINE, does something very simple: it dispels the shibboleth that movies spotlighting strong and original performances differ from ones that innovate at the level of cinematic style. MADELINE’S MADELINE does both, with equal intensity. Decker’s film, in its dramatic contours, is an utterly clear and classical drama about a Queens family.” – Richard Brody, THE NEW YORKER
“One of this year’s headiest, most dazzlingly assured moviegoing experiences.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
In contemporary rural Iceland, a wayward 9-year old girl, Sól, is sent to distant countryside relatives for a summer to work and to mature. Nature seems endless there, the animals soulful but the people harsh. All except the mysterious farmhand Jón, who – as Sól herself – likes words better than people. But the farmers’ daughter Ásta has a claim on Jón as well, and soon Sól becomes entangled in a drama she hardly can grasp. This summer marks Sól’s rite of passage into the murky waters of adulthood, and the wild nature in us all. Director and screenwriterAsa Hjorleifsdottir stops by for a conversation on directing a first-time actor in the lead role, returning to her own childhood community and Icelandic traditions.
“A gently moving, lyrical and unflinching coming-of-age drama with a terrific performance by newcomer Gríma Valsdóttir.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
“Anchored by a remarkable child’s performance, The Swan is a sensitive example of an overlooked element in coming-of-age films: awakening to the outside world.” – Serena Donadoni, Village Voice
“It’s that forceful central performance that really makes The Swan special, together with Martin Neumeyer’s atmospheric but never overbearing cinematography, which brings out the light as well as the darkness in the hills.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“A coming-of-age drama that’s as beautiful and brutal as the remote, rural landscape of northern Iceland where it takes place.” – Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com
In her latest project,SNAPSHOTS, legendary actor Piper Laurie plays family matriarch Rose.. The story will resonate with every person who has lived through the complexity of family relationships, It reminds us that if we are loved no secret is too difficult to hear and accept. Or is it? Rose (Gran) is the matriarch. She has lived in this house for over fifty years. She and her deceased husband Joe raised their daughter Patty in this home. Patty, now a widow in her early 50’s, lives in St. Louis. Each year Patty and her newly married daughter Allison spend a laughter filled girl’s weekend with Gran. This year will be different. Piper Laurie joins us for a conversation on the making of her latest project (Snapshots) in a legendary film career that includes three Academy Award nominated performances (The Hustler, Carrie, Children of a Lesser God) and an Emmy nomination for David Lynch’s groundbreaking television serial (Twin Peaks).
“Performances all around are strong, with Piper Laurie’s Rose taking the lead and directing us through the story’s narrative. We are invited to soak in the retro atmosphere as the story unfolds at a leisurely pace.” – Paul Parcellin, Film Threat
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood is the deliciously scandalous story of Scotty Bowers, a handsome ex-Marine who landed in Hollywood after World War II and became confidante, aide de camp and lover to many of Hollywood’s greatest male — and female — stars. In the 1940s and ’50s, Scotty ran a gas station in the shadow of the studio lots where he would connect his friends with actors and actresses who had to hide their true sexual identities for fear of police raids at gay bars, societal shunning and career suicide. An unsung Hollywood legend, Bowers would cater to the sexual appetites of celebrities – straight and gay – for decades. In 2012, he finally spilled his secrets in the New York Times bestselling memoir “Full Service,” which revealed a dramatic, pre-Stonewall alternate history of Hollywood. While the studio PR machine were promoting their stars as wholesome and monogamous,Bowers was fulfilling the true desires of many of them. This cinema-vérité documentary tells his story, as well as presents eye-opening takes on icons from the Hollywood Golden Age including Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner and many more. Director Matt Tyrnauer (Studio 54, Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, Valentino: The Last Emperor) joins us for spirited conversation on the days when the Hollywood PR machine mattered more than the lives of the artist who made it successful and the role Scotty Bowers played in breaking that stranglehold on them.
“Scotty” is more than just a portrait of the man, also serving as a history lesson on how the film industry once tried to project a repressive, clean-cut image to satisfy moral watchdogs” – Tim Grierson, Screen International
“A nicely filled-out look at different eras, one secrecy-ridden and dedicated to the preservation of illusion, the other wide open and blasé about personal predilections.” – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter
“There’s plenty of gossip to be found here, but there’s also no shortage of humanity.” – Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
“The present-day footage is more compelling than any of the gossipy bits, which turn out to be the hook that pulls the film into more fraught and complex directions.” – Kevin Ritchie, NOW Toronto
“’Scotty and the Secret History’ is a fascinating portrait that neither lionizes nor judges its subject. It merely lets you take him for what he is.” – Jason Bailey, Flavorwire
NICO, 1988 features a tour de force performance from Trine Dyrholm’s as the aging Nico (aka Christa Päffgen), interpreting rather than impersonating the famed singer-songwriter as she approaches 50. Leading a solitary existence in Manchester Nico’s life and career are on the ropes, a far cry from her glamorous days as a Warhol superstar and celebrated vocalist for The Velvet Underground. Nico’s new manager Richard (John Gordon Sinclair) convinces her to hit the road again and tour Europe to promote her latest album. Struggling with her demons and the consequences of a muddled life, she longs to rebuild a relationship with the son Ari (Sandor Funtek) she lost custody of long ago. A brave and uncompromising musician, Nico’s is the story of an artist, a mother, and the woman behind the icon. Director Susanna Nicchiarelli joins us to talk about Trine Dyrholm’s raw performance and her own unvarnished look into the post-iconic world of NICO and into the tortuous journey that Christa Päffgen took, as an artist and mother, towards the person she knew she wanted to be.
“Writer/director Susanna Nicchiarelli and star Trine Dyrholm craft a late-career biopic that acts not only as a portrait of a complex figure, but recognises the considerable toll of daring not to conform.” – Sarah Ward, Screen International
“Nicchiarelli dives deeply into the life of a tragic but remarkable woman, memorably portrayed by Danish actress and singer Trine Dyrholm as an unpleasant, hurtful junkie plagued with memories and regrets.” – Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
“Nico, 1988 shows us how extraordinary the biopic can be when it is freed from unnecessary restrictions to embrace the idiosyncrasies of its subject.” – Lee Jutton, Film Inquiry
“Remarkably personal, with a bold, gritty edge that echoes the intensity of both Nico’s singing and Trine Dyrholm’s thunderous performance.” – Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most beloved creations. The frolicking tale of lovesick young aristocrats, energetic but inept rustics, and mischievous woodland spirits is a staple of stage and screen. In the past, filmed adaptations have emphasized the play’s traditional, Elizabethan qualities. This production however is a fresh and stylish reinvention that takes an entirely different approach.The story takes place in present day Hollywood – a place where glamorous stars, commanding moguls, starving artists and vaulting pretenders all vie to get ahead. Hollywood is sometimes called “The Dream Factory,” and like the world of Shakespeare’s Dream, it’s a place where fantasy and reality collide.In the tradition of Baz Luhrmann’s rapturous reimagining of Romeo + Juliet, this modern vision breathes new life into a classic tale. Combined with a cast of established and emerging stars, as well as a pulsing original soundtrack, the film will appeal to ardent fans of the Shakespeare as well as audiences discovering Shakespeare for the first time. Director and screenwriter Casey Wilder Mott talk with us about the challenges and rewards of re-imagining one of the Bard’s most endearing plays.
“If you’re hoping to see a production just like the one that would have been done in 1596, this ain’t it. But Mott’s version is a hell of a good time in its own right.” – Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
“Mott’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” may not have a high bar to reach to be better than average as filmed Shakespearean comedies go. But by any standard, it’s a modest, resourceful and unexpected delight.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
“Darned if Casey Wilder Mott’s feature directorial debut doesn’t prove to be a disarmingly effective, visually vibrant frolic.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth and indulge in a film I feel certain Shakespeare himself would enjoy.” – Bradley Gibson, Film Threat
“A vibrant dose of California dreamin’.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
Will (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter, Tom (Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie), have lived off the grid for years in the forests of Portland, Oregon. When their idyllic life is shattered, both are put into social services. After clashing with their new surroundings, Will and Tom set off on a harrowing journey back to their wild homeland. The film is directed by Debra Granik (Winter’s Bone) from a script adapted by Granik and Anne Rosellini and based on the novel My Abandonment by Peter Rock. Director Debra Granik joins us to talk about her modern day tale of two people grappling with a sense of place, loyalty, love, and deep wounds.
“When civilization feels threatened, starting over in the woods seems not only appealing, but maybe even necessary. Especially when seen though Granik’s discerning eye. How lucky we are to have her work.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
“A profound story about love, family, loyalty, understanding, and compassion.” – Tiffany Tchobanian, Film Threat
“Minimalistic, deliberate and largely silent, “Leave No Trace” clings to each word like an endangered species. It demands patience from the audience, but that patience is richly rewarded.” – J.R. Kinnard, Seattle Times
“The heart of Leave No Trace is the rapport between the father and daughter, and McKenzie and Foster are keyed to each other’s movements, perhaps even each other’s thoughts.”- David Edelstein, New York Magazine
When a simple organ harvesting caper goes awry, a twist of fate unites three of society’s forgotten and ignored: EL MONSTRUO, a disgraced Mexican wrestler working as hired muscle for a local crime boss.CRYSTAL, a recovering addict desperate enough to arrange a black market kidney transplant to save her husband’s life. And RANDY, a loveable two-strike convict fresh out of prison, cursed with a full-face swastika tattoo and a best friend guilting him into some hair-brained kidnapping scheme. In LOWLIFE we follow the sordid lives of these small-time criminals collide, as they fight tooth and nail to save a pregnant woman from a certain, and surely gruesome, death. Director Ryan Prows joins for a lively conversation on his hard-charging, high-energy debut feature film.
“The result is a film that’s as brutal in its imagery as it is funny in its execution.” – Jared Mobarak, Film Stage
“A captivating feature debut despite some missteps, it flashes back to a time when every other filmmaking newcomer wanted to be Quentin Tarantino; surprisingly, it does not provoke the weary eye-rolling that greeted so many of those films.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
“A movie with the sole purpose of an adrenalin rush, designed to strap you to your seat, entertain you, and spit you back into reality, exhausted but satisfied.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
“Lowlife is such a wild ride that any cinema showing it might want to consider installing seat belts on their chairs. Every second is electrifying.” – Mike McGranahan, Aisle Seat
“Nicely calibrates a twisty course between straight crime melodrama and black comedy, one that has cult-following potential among adventurous genre fans.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
“Throughout its swirling stories, Lowlife does an impeccable job of teasing, pulling back, and delivering, whether it be violence, drama, or the intermittent moment of temporary joy.” – Scott Beggs, Nerdist
The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) is a nonprofit organization devoted to a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture by showcasing films, supporting emerging filmmakers, and promoting the diverse perspectives of the Indian diaspora. Each year the festival features a rich mix of film programs designed to build and support the growing interest in the Indian entertainment industry. This includes programming that cultivates an audience for Indian films while supporting filmmakers of Indian descent in career development as they navigate the larger studio system in Hollywood. The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, runs from Wednesday, April 11 – 15 at Regal Live in downtown Los Angeles, featuring programs that include One-on-One program where film industry professionals from major and independent production and distribution companies are invited to participate in meetings with the IFFLA filmmakers; and panel discussions with speakers from the film industry. We are joined by IFFLA’sDirector of Programming Mike Dougherty to talk about the past, present and future of Indian cinema and the increasing acceptance among mainstream American film lovers.
Guy Maddin and collaborators Galen and Evan Johnson made this ode to VERTIGOand the city of San Francisco for the closing night world premiere gala of the 2017 San Francisco International Film Festival. The iconoclastic Winnipeg-based filmmakers, working together since 2015’s THE FORBIDDEN ROOM, set themselves the challenge and constraint to remake VERTIGO, creating what they call a “parallel-universe version.” Using Bay Area-based footage from hundreds of sources—studio classics, ’50s noir, documentary and experimental films, and ’70s prime-time TV—and employing Maddin’s mastery of assemblage technique, seen in work like MY WINNIPEG and BRAND UPON THE BRAIN, the result exerts the inexorable pull of Hitchcock’s twisted tale of erotic obsession while paying tribute to the City by the Bay and the ways it looks and feels through the medium of cinema Composed by Jacob Garchik and performed by Kronos Quartet, the film’s score nods to Bernard Hermann’s classic VERTIGO music as it collides and converses with Maddin and Johnsons’ irreverent and loving footage to create a distinctive musical extravaganza. Through 12 features and many shorts, adventurous artist Guy Maddin exhibits the rare ability to simultaneously subvert and honor the craft of filmmaking. His credits include the Emmy Award-winning ballet film Dracula: Pages From A Virgin’s Diary(2002); The Saddest Music in the World (2003); My Winnepeg (2007) and US National Society of Film Critics Best Experimental Film Prize-winners Archangel (1990) and The Heart of the World (2000). Guy Maddin talks about the “City by the Bay,” scriptwriting, storytelling and his favorite film, Vertigo.
“First and foremost, “The Green Fog” is a marvel of film scholarship that looks backward and forward from the Hitchcock masterpiece.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
“The Green Fog fairly closely follows the structure of Hitchcock’s film; achieving that in itself is some sort of accomplishment. However, it’s not so much an assemblage as it is a conjuring.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice
“The film is a brilliant exercise in meta-narrative, which raises questions galore about reality and representation, time and space, genre and gender, individual and urban identity, cinematic suture and casting. Mainly, though, it’s just very, very funny.” – Geoff Andrew, Sight and Sound
“The work of a sensibility as impish as it is scholarly, animated by a mischievous sense of the medium’s possibilities” – Justin Change, Los Angeles Times
“It demonstrates the act of creation as a perpetually reconstructive effort…” – Lawrence Garcia, Cinema Scope
BEAUTY AND THE DOGS tells the harrowing story of Mariam, an attractive young Tunisian woman, starts off the evening in carefree spirits at a student party with her girlfriends, where she meets a handsome young man and goes for a walk with him on the beach in the moonlight. In the next scene, she is seen disheveled, running through the streets at night, flinching at every passing car, with her male companion trailing behind. She has been raped by police officers. But her harrowing ordeal has just begun, as she attempts to find help, report the crime, and seek justice, battling overwhelming obstacles to make those guilty accountable. Employing impressive cinematic techniques and anchored by a fiery tour-de-force performance from newcomer Mariam Al Ferjani, Beauty and the Dogs tells an urgent, unapologetic, and important story head-on. A rare film from a female Tunisian writer and director, Kaouther Ben Hania’s startling drama is a striking critique on a repressive society and a forcefully feminist rallying cry. Director and writer Kaouther Ben Hania stops by to talk about her moving portrait of a woman who slowly but surely comes to grips with her increasingly desperate situation.
“Beauty and the Dogs plays like an actual, unending nightmare.”
“A crescendo of humiliation, anxiety and abuse, “Beauty and the Dogs” plays like a horror movie where every choice is a Catch-22 and every door a trap.” – Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times
“Her experience becomes an incendiary account of bureaucracy built to overwhelm, a complex commentary on political capital and how justice for one can be justice for all.” – Jared Mobarak, Film Stage
“It’s not an easy watch. But, with its feminist spin on the continued battle for basic legal rights following the 2011 ousting of Tunisia’s Ben Ali regime, it feels like an important one.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International
“A harrowing and necessary film in only nine shots.” – Boys van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter
Childhood friends Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) reconnect in suburban Connecticut after years of growing apart. Lily has turned into a polished, upper-class teenager, with a fancy boarding school on her transcript and a coveted internship on her resume; Amanda has developed a sharp wit and her own particular attitude, but all in the process of becoming a social outcast. Though they initially seem completely at odds, the pair bond over Lily’s contempt for her oppressive stepfather, Mark, and as their friendship grows, they begin to bring out one another’s most destructive tendencies. Their ambitions lead them to hire a local hustler, Tim, and take matters into their own hands to set their lives straight. From first-time writer-director Cory Finley comes a darkly comic psychological thriller exploring friendship, privilege and morality in a rarefied Connecticut setting of sprawling mansions, equestrian stables and elite private schools. Starring Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) and Anton Yelchin (Green Room), in one of his final screen performances, Thoroughbreds takes its cues from classic film noir, locating a deadpan wickedness in the maneuvers of his dual protagonists Amanda and Lily.Director and writer Cory Finley joins us to talk about his his background as a playwright, adjusting to life on a film set and working with his stellar cast of young actors.
“It’s a testament to the twisted brilliance of (Cory) Finley’s film that a scumbag drug dealer becomes its moral center.” – Rob Thomas, Capital Times
“Set in the opulent, WASP-y world of teen divas with killer instincts, Cory Finley’s deliciously depraved satire skewers an empathy drain that he sees as sadly emblematic of modern life.” – Peter Travis, Rolling Stone
“Remember the name Cory Finley.” – Peter DeBruge, Variety
“Thoroughbreds was written and directed by first-time filmmaker Cory Finley, and for other amateurs it’s a masterclass in squeezing everything you can out of a small budget.” – Andrew Lapin, NPR
“Thoroughbreds, in other words, has been made with diabolical craft and intelligence, the kind that marks director (Cory) Finley as a major new American talent.” – A.A. Dowd, AV Club
“One of the most assured and impressive American debut movies of the year.” – Oliver Lyttleton, The Playlist
Oh Lucy!follows Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima in an Independent Spirit Award-nominated performance), a single, emotionally unfulfilled woman, seemingly stuck with a drab, meaningless life in Tokyo. At least until she’s convinced by her niece, Mika to enroll in an unorthodox English class that requires her to wear a blonde wig and take on an American alter ego named “Lucy.” This new identity awakens something dormant in Setsuko, and she quickly develops romantic feelings for her American instructor, John (Josh Hartnett). When John suddenly disappears from class and Setsuko learns that he and her niece were secretly dating, Setsuko enlists the help of her sister, Ayako and the pair fly halfway across the world to the outskirts of Southern California in search of the runaway couple. In a brave new world of tattoo parlors and seedy motels, family ties and past lives are tested as Setsuko struggles to preserve the dream and promise of “Lucy.” Director Atsuko Hirayanagi (Spirit Award nominee for Best First Feature) joins us for a conversation on the challenges of making hermulti-cultural comedy / drama and working with the film’s Executive Producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.
“Within the confines of this cross-cultural shaggy-dog tale, Hirayanagi locates both a sharp vein of absurdist comedy and a bitter, melancholy undertow.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“Hirayanagi isn’t selling a packaged idea about what it means to be human; she does something trickier and more honest here, merely by tracing the ordinary absurdities and agonies of one woman’s life.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times
“Japanese filmmaker Atsuko Hirayanagi explores the transformative power of human connection in Oh Lucy!, a film which seems to play like a standard culture clash comedy but reveals itself to run significantly deeper.” – Nikki Baughan, Screen International
“Expanded from her award-winning short of the same title, Oh Lucy! betrays some rough edges in the transition, but Hirayanagi’s idiosyncratic touch marks her as a talent worth tracking.” – Andrew Barker, Variety
At the age of 26, Karl Marx (August Diehl; INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, THE COUNTERFEITERS) embarks with his wife Jenny (Vicky Krieps; PHANTOM THREAD) on the road to exile. In 1844 Paris they meet young Friedrich Engels (Stefan Konarske), son of a factory owner and an astute student of the English proletariat class. Engels brings Marx the missing piece to the puzzle that composes his new vision of the world. Together, between censorship and police raids, riots and political upheavals, they will preside over the birth of the labor movement, which until then had been mostly makeshift and unorganized. This will grow into the most complete theoretical and political transformation of the world since the Renaissance – driven, against all expectations, by two brilliant, insolent and sharp-witted young men. In his first film since the Oscar®-nominated documentary I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, celebrated Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck (LUMUMBA) paints a vivid portrait of another of history’s most influential thinkers with THE YOUNG KARL MARX. A fervently intelligent chronicling of the blood, sweat and debate that went into the creation of a manifesto and a movement, the film premiered at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival. Director Raoul Peck joins us for a lively conversation on capturing the essence of a young Marx and Engels relationship, the relevance of Marxism today and the critical reaction to his film.
Cinequest has led the world in its showcase and implementation of the innovations that have revolutionized film making, exhibition and distribution. Over 100,000 attend CQFF, yet the three-block proximity of its state-of-the-art venues along with Cinequest’s renowned hospitality, makes the festival experience as warm and personal as it is electrifying. Cinequest presents over 90 World and U.S. premieres with groundbreaking innovations by 700+ participating filmmakers from over 50 countries each year. Set in the home of the world’s most influential media technology companies (Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, LinkedIn etc.) CQFF showcases premier films, renowned and emerging artists, and breakthrough technology—empowering global connectivity between creators, innovators and audiences. Michael Rabehl has been a member of the Cinequest team since 1994. As the Director of Programming he manages the film selection process for the festival and supervises the programming teams to create a world class line up of films and guests every year. In his role as the Associate Director he is directly involved with the strategic planning of the festival. Michael joins us to talk about the 2018 Conquest film and virtual reality line-up.
Cinequest Film and Virtual Reality Film Festival February 27 – March 11, 2018
“Move over Cannes! Of the more than 4,000 film festivals around the globe, more than half take place on U.S. soil, and many rank among the best of the best. Our panel of film experts, movie buffs and festival gurus were tasked with narrowing down the field to the best 20 film festivals in the nation before we turned it over to USA TODAY and 10Best readers to choose their favorites. After four weeks of voting, we have a winner. Cinequest Voted Best Film Festival!” — USA Today
“Technology always drives the film business. In Cinequest, we have a good window on the future. I think they’re leading the world in this regard.” — Peter Belsito, Executive Vice President, Film Finders
“This festival is one that sets the trends and is actually ahead of the trends. Other festivals are copying Cinequest; I see it all the time.” — Chris Gore, Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide and Film Threat
“At Cinequest you often haven’t heard of the film before you go see it, but the audiences come anyway. That’s a testament to the festival — that audiences are willing to take that leap of faith.” — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
Carter Pilcher founded Shorts International in 2000. Coming from a background in both investment banking and law, Carter has made Shorts International the world’s leading short movie Entertainment Company, functioning as distributor, broadcaster and producer. Carter has extensive experience in short movie production and short movie entertainment. He is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a member of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch of The US Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) – the guys who pick the Oscars. Carter, originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, received a B.S. from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a J.D. from Georgetown University, is a member of the New York Bar and attended the London Business School Corporate Finance Evening Program. Carter Pilcher has been and continues to be the highlight of Oscar season here on Film School. His insight, commitment and love of films and filmmaking always makes for a lively and informative conversation on some of the best films you will see all year.
Mysterious events surround two travelers as they make their way across a remote American landscape. On the surface all seems normal, but what appears to be a simple vacation soon gives way to a dark and complex web of secrets. THE STRANGE ONES had its world premiere at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival where it was awarded the Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Performance for James Freedson-Jackson.
Director’s Statement – “There is a line late in the film where two teenage characters are engaged in an awkward conversation that consists more of silence than words. “It’s crazy to think,” the girl says, “that you like, never really know a person. You know?” The idea of “not knowing” is at the core of The Strange Ones. As filmmakers, we are most interested in stories that leave a strong impression but somehow stop short of surrendering a tidy explanation, and in characters that have secrets that may or may not ever be fully revealed. There is something more satisfying in this for us – as if the truth, by virtue of remaining unseen, can expand upon speculation and become something larger, more profound, and \more fascinating than a straightforward answer. Perhaps we find also that this is a more accurate reflection of real life – so often we believe we understand something or someone in their entirety, only to find out that we have only really glimpsed the surface; and that beneath lies a world of complexity that we might never fully know. In that regard, The Strange Ones is a story that presents a rather simple surface, as well as a more complicated and mysterious hidden dimension.” –
Official Website: www.thestrangeones.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheStrangeOnesFilm Twitter: www.twitter.com/thestrangeones
“Secrets curl with thick dread around a man and boy on the run from a dark past in this elliptical and mysterious road movie.” – Chris Barsanti, Film International Journal
“The Strange Ones is a solid movie on first watch that becomes a seriously good movie on second watch. Maybe that’s a poor framework for an endorsement, but the film is more than the shock of its climax.” – Andy Crump, Paste Magazine
“It’s an artful, boundary-pushing debut from Radcliffe and Wolkstein, with breakthrough performances from Freedson-Jackson, and Pettyfer, perhaps signaling a new direction in his career.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“As with all great films, it takes an angle that we may have never thought of before, and one we may not soon forget.” – Fernando Andres, Film School Rejects
Ela Thier is a critically acclaimed writer, director and actor. She is known for creating dramedies that bring laughter and tears to diverse audiences across racial and socio-economic lines, and unifies audiences across political spectra. Thier’s critically acclaimed Tomorrow Ever After (2017) won numerous major festival awards. After a successful theatrical run Tomorrow Ever After is now available on numerous PPV and VOD platforms including iTunes and Amazon. Her award-winning feature, Foreign Letters, was distributed by Film Movement (2012) and shown at over 140 festivals world-wide. Thier directed over a dozen short films winning numerous Best Short awards. Her film, A Summer Rain, screened at hundreds of venues and became a YouTube sensation. Thier worked as a writer-for-hire on Puncture, starring Chris Evans. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and released by Millenium Films (2011). Thier is a recipient of the Jerome Foundation Film Production Grant (2015), was a nominee of the White House Project Emerging Artist Award (2010), and a recipient of the NYFA Fellowship Grant in Screenwriting (2008). Thier joins us to talk about the multi-platform release of Tomorrow Ever After, filmmaking and her own The Independent Film School workshops.
“My guiding principle has been to create the workshops that I would want to attend. I think back to my beginnings as a filmmaker and I design the workshops that I could have really used: ones that are packed with concrete information made easy to understand, and are super supportive and encouraging. My life would have been easier if I had gotten the encouragement that artists need.” – Ela Their on her Independent Film School workshops
Ela Thier brings a fresh perspective …Thier plays the kooky interloper with the same open and unguarded childlike naiveté as Robin Williams’ beloved alien Mork …Ultimately, “Tomorrow Ever After,” contains a hopeful message that somehow, the world just might end up a better place. – Kate Walsh, LA TIMES
Her writing and direction are resourceful and assured, and her performance is as delightful as it is imbued with political commentary …In its sweet but pointed way, saying a good deal with relatively little, and in unpredictable ways, the film is also a critique of art as corporate product, especially in the realm of sci-fi franchise extravaganzas. – Sheri Linden, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
Played with touching insight and natural beauty …provided me with a newfound hopefulness and a new sense of wonder for my fellow humans. – E. Nina Rothe, THE HUFFINGTON POST
Thier’s sensibility offers such a welcome break… inviting audiences to see our modern-day world through fresh eyes. – Peter Debruge, VARIETY