** Last Day of Freedom, co-directors Nomi Talisman and Dee Hibbert-Jones

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When Bill Babbitt realizes his brother Manny has committed a crime, he agonizes over his decision – should he call the police? In this Academy Award nominated documentary (Short Program), LAST DAY OF FREEDOM a richly animated personal narrative unfolds as a story of Bill’s decision to stand by his brother in the face of war, crime and capital punishment. LAST DAY OF FREEDOM is a portrait of a man at the nexus of the most pressing social issues of our day, veterans’ care, mental health access and criminal justice. Created from over 32,000 hand-drawn images, the film has garnered international film and art attention and has won numerous awards since its premiere at the 2015 Full Frame Film Festival. First time filmmakers Dee Hibbert-Jones & Nomi Talisman have been working together since 2004, collaborating on art, film and interactive projects that look at the ways power structures and politics impact everyday lives. Dee is originally from the U.K., and is an Associate Professor of Art & New Media at UC Santa Cruz; Nomi was born in Israel and is a freelance editor and animator. They join us to talk about a brother’s courage and love for his troubled sibling, as well as the cultural, social, and political issues surrounding this tragic story.

For news and updates go to: lastdayoffreedom.net 

* 2016 Academy Award nomination, Best Documentary, Short Program

Winner – Best Short Documentary – IDA Awards

Winner – Best Short Documentary – Full Frame Festival Filmmaker

Winner – Best Short Jury Award – Full Frame Film Festival

Winner – (In)Justice for All Film Festival Justice for All Impact Award

Winner – SF Doc Fest Best Short Audience Award

 “The film that stands out” – Variety

 “A searing study of our most pressing social issues” – Indiewire

Heart of a Dog, with Director Laurie Anderson

heart-of-a-dog posterIn HEART OF A DOG, musician and performance artist Laurie Anderson’s playful, lucid and heartbreaking nonfiction feature on the life and death of her dog, Lolabelle, told in a style only this unique artist could create. Taking as a jumping off point the recent passing of her beloved terrier Lolabelle, Anderson touches on what her love for her dog means to her by processing her childhood, music, and her life as an artist. Through all of it, she draws upon her childhood experiences and political beliefs as she lovingly tries to help Lolabelle’s spirit face the tribulations it will experience immediately after death (as described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead). Aided by a beautiful use of her own compositions, animation and 8 millimeter film from her family archive, Anderson creates a gorgeous, heartbreaking tapestry on love and loss – reminding us that every love story is a ghost story. Director Laurie Anderson joins us to talk about spirit and intention of Heart of a Dog, her thoughtful, funny and beautiful film.

For news and updates go to: heartofadogfilm.com

Director Laurie Anderson will be doing a Q&A for the 7:30 PM screening on Heart of a Dog on Friday, November 6

Laurie Anderson’s soundtrack for HEART OF A DOG is available at: nonesuch.com/albums/heart-of-a-dog

“Wildly innovative but also quiet and modestly scaled. A philosophically astute, emotional meditation on death, love, art and dogs.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“A dog is at the heart of this film, but there’s room for all manner of extraordinary insights about finding love and giving love, being canine and being human.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

“Exceptionally potent. I could write a whole essay about the way Anderson uses her light, scintillating voice in this movie. Her incredible control of the artistic arsenal this medium provides her with-images, music, sound, language-enable her to construct a work that’s both highly intellectually engaging and provocative and also emotionally wrecking.”  – Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com

Drunk Stone Brilliant Dead, Director Douglas Tirola

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Douglas Tirola‘s outrageous documentary DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: THE STORY OF THE NATIONAL LAMPOON, is an inside look at the rise and fall of the legendary humor magazine that launched dozens of careers and broke thousands of taboos. From the 1970s thru the 1990s, there was no hipper, no more outrageous comedy in print than The National Lampoon, the groundbreaking humor magazine that pushed the limits of taste and acceptability – and then pushed them even harder. Parodying everything from politics, religion, entertainment and the whole of American lifestyle, the Lampoon eventually went on to branch into successful radio shows, record albums, live stage revues and movies, including ANIMAL HOUSE and NATIONAL LAMPOON’S VACATION, launching dozens of huge careers on the way, including John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Christopher Guest, Richard Belzer, Gilda Radner, Brian Doyle-Murray, Bill Murray, Joe Flaherty, Harold Ramis, Michael O’Donoghue, Doug Kenney, Henry Beard, George W. S. Trow, Chris Miller, P. J. O’Rourke, Michael O’Donoghue, Chris Rush, Sean Kelly, Tony Hendra, Brian McConnachie, Gerald Sussman, Ellis Weiner, Danny Abelson, Ted Mann, Chris Cluess, Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jeff Greenfield, and John Hughes. As well as cartoonists, photographers and illustrators appeared in the magazine’s pages, including Neal Adams, Gahan Wilson, Michael Sullivan, Ron Barrett, Peter Bramley, Vaughn Bode, Bruce McCall, Rick Meyerowitz, M. K. Brown, Shary Flenniken, Bobby London, Edward Gorey, Jeff Jones, Joe Orlando, Arnold Roth, Rich Grote, Ed Subitzky, Mara McAfee, Sam Gross, Charles Rodrigues, Buddy Hickerson, B. K. Taylor, Birney Lettick, Frank Frazetta, Boris Vallejo, Marvin Mattelson, Stan Mack, Chris Callis, John E. Barrett, Raymond Kursar and Andy Lackow. Director Tirola tells the story of its rise and fall through fresh, candid interviews with its key staff, and illustrated with hundreds of outrageous images from the magazine itself (along with never-seen interview footage from the magazine’s prime). Director Tirola stops by to talk about the supernova of comedic satire that was The Lampoon and its influential legacy.

For news and updates go to: magpictures.com/nationallampoon

DRUNK STONED BRILLIANT DEAD: THE STORY OF THE NATIONAL LAMPOON opening in Los Angeles at the Nuart Theatre on October 2, and at Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 in Pasadena and Laemmle’s NoHo 7 in North Hollywood on October 9 (opens in NY and on VOD/iTunes September 25). 

Director Douglas Tirola will be doing a Q & A Friday, October 2nd and Saturday, October 3rd after the 7:30PM screenings.

“Punch-drunk and very much alive. A generous and briskly entertaining doc that traces the titular humor magazine’s lasting influence on American comedy  – a real nonfiction crowdpleaser. ” – Ben Kenigsberg, Variety

“Energetic, laugh-stuffed and very colorful – A lively, very entertaining look at the Lampoon’s unlikely empire.” – John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

FICG in LA, Director & Producer Hebe Tabachnik

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The Guadalajara International Film Festival in Los Angeles or FICG in LA is a window into the world of contemporary Mexican and Ibero-American cinema and it is an extension of the Guadalajara International Film Festival. This year′s FICG in LA will be back at the Hollywood′s historic Egyptian Theatre, right in the heart of the worldwide film and entertainment industry. The festival is designed to help critically acclaimed films from Mexican and Ibero-America cinema reach a wider audience. Among this year’s attendees will be Karina García Casanova (director, screenwriter and producer Juanicas), Safa (director, El Jeremías), Sebastián Schindel (director, screenwriter, producer,Hebe Tabachnik ficg director : producer El patrón, radiografía de un crimen), Flavio Florencio (director, scriptwriter and photography, Made in Bangkok), Michael Dwyer (director, Pocha-Manifest Destiny), Verónica Sixtos (lead actress, Pocha-Manifest Destiny), Jean-Cosme Delaloye (director, screenwriter, and sound La Prenda), Carolina Ramírez (actriz principal, Ciudad Delirio), Humberto Busto (director, scriptwriter, La teta de botero), Ximena Urrutia (director, Ella), Sofía Carrillo (director, Prita Noria and La Casa Triste), and Luis Téllez (animator, screenwriter, Jacinta and La Noira). This week FICG in LA, Director / Producer Hebe Tabachnik joins us to talk about the exciting and dynamic collection of films being offered at this years festival/

For news and updates on FICG go to: ficginla.com

For more information call (424) 382-2535 or visit www.ficginla.com

Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsXflYrncGU   

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FICGinLosAngeles

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FICGinLA

Station to Station, Director / Cinematographer Doug Aitken

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A high speed roadtrip through modern creativity, Station to Station is a revolutionary feature comprising 62 one-minute films highlighting an exciting and eclectic mix of artists, musicians, writers, places and perspectives. In the summer of 2013, a train designed as a kinetic light sculpture by director and ringmaster Doug Aitken traveled from New York City to San Francisco over 24 days. Aitken is an American artist and filmmaker. Defying definitions of genre, he explores every medium, from film and installations to architectural interventions. Aitken’s work leads us into a world where time, space and memory are fluid concepts. His films often explore the modern condition, and his transformative installations create immersive cinematic experiences. Rolling into ten stations on the route, the train set in motion a series of happenings, each unique to its location and mix of creative participants. The film includes profiles, intimate moments on the train, conversations, and performances at the happenings: Ed Ruscha describing the discoveries to be made in the great American landscape; Beck performing with a gospel choir in the Mojave desert; Jackson Browne reflecting on the influence of the railroad on his music, as well as many more. Director Aitken joins us to to talk about his exciting and wildly diverse kaleidoscope of experience and artistic production, as much as Station to Station is a story of our evolving creative culture.

For news and updates go to: submarinedeluxe.com

“It suggests that a one-minute part can be the whole for one viewer or that, conversely, the whole is made up of an infinite amount of smaller parts that can each tell only a small part of the story.” – Hollywood Reporter

“Banding together a community of outliers, wunderkinds and indie kids, Station to Station is a bubbling gumbo that Aitken evolves into a newly sculpted vernacular of dissolving landscapes, soundscapes and visual splendours.” – Cormac O’Brien, Little White Lies

“Watching all 62 films consecutively provides an experience every bit as exciting, thought-provoking, and ultimately ephemeral as an LED-laden train full of artists passing in the night” – Sarah Kurchak, Consequence of Sound

Friday, July 17, 2015 – Stanford Prison Experiment, Dr. Phillip Zimbardo

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The film THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT is based on Dr. Phillip Zimbardo’s 1971 psychology experiment focused on the psychology of imprisonment. The study assigned 24 male undergraduates as either guards or prisoners in a mock prison setting on campus. Virtually overnight the students became their roles, the guards exhibiting sadistic behavior by degrading their prisoners. The study is perhaps one of the most well-known of its kind. If you’ve taken a psych course in college you covered it along with Pavlov’s dog. It’s famous for its revelations about the fragility and impressionability of the human condition but also the experiment itself, not just its results, was so scandalous that it was shut down in a matter of days. Dr. Zimbardo was consultant on the film. He is one of the most distinguished living psychologists, having served as President of the American Psychological Association, designed and narrated the award winning 26-part PBS series, “Discovering Psychology,” and has published more than 50 books and 400 professional and popular articles and chapters, among them, Shyness, The Lucifer Effect, The Time Cure and The Time Paradox. Dr. Zimbardo join us for a conversation on what his famous experiment has taught him, torture, the nature of evil, on working with Billy Crudup, who portrays him in the film, and director Kyle Patrick Alvarez.

For news and updates on Stanford Prison Experiment go to: the-stanford-prison-experiment

“Alvarez captures the sickly green and dingy gray environment, and even though he emphasizes the claustrophobic nature of the stuffy hallway, brings movement and dynamism to the space.” – Kate Walsh, Los Angeles Times

“The result is a viscerally unsettling experience, and a testament to the enduring relevance of the study’s findings on the psychology of incarceration.” – Sara Stewart, New York Post

“Disturbing, honest and compelling, “The Stanford Prison Experiment” turns a well-known story into must-see storytelling, depicting the ugly truth through gorgeous filmmaking.” – James Rocchi, The Wrap

“An incredibly tense indie with strong performances across the entire ensemble … a who’s who of great, young male actors.” – Under the Radar

The Yes Men are Revolting, Director Laura Nix

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For the last 20 years, notorious activists the Yes Men (Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum) have staged outrageous hoaxes to hijack public dialogue worldwide about the issues of the day. In their third cinematic outing (after The Yes Men and The Yes Men Fix The World), they are now well into their 40s, and their mid life crises are threatening to drive them out of activism forever – even as they prepare to take on the biggest challenge they’ve ever faced, climate change. Frustrated by each other, and worried they can’t make a difference anymore, how can they keep fighting the world’s most urgent threat? Revealing the real people behind the ruses, their latest film is as much a character study as it is a thrilling ride depicting their latest interventions against corporate greed. Following their lives for over four years, The Yes Men Are Revolting reveals their creative process, hilarious strategies, and personal conflicts while they juggle the demands of getting older, holding down jobs, and maintaining some shred of personal lives. From villages in Uganda’s Karamoja region to the toxic oil fields in Canada’s tar sands, these iconoclastic revolutionaries take on big oil, lobbyists, Wall Street, and the U.S. government, armed with nothing but thrift-store suits and a lack of shame. Overcoming personal obstacles to deliver uproarious actions of global significance, the Yes Men deliver a hopeful message about ordinary people breaking through the paralysis to take back their planet. Director Laura Nix stops by to talk about the dedication and creativity of Mike and Andy and the chance to shine a light on why all politics are personal for two of the world’s best-known activists.

For news and updates go to: theyesmenarerevolting.com

“Who said that a political film can’t be sweet, too? In its grandest triumph, “The Yes Men Are Revolting” is an activist doc inspired by more than just its topical issues.” – Nick Allen, Rogerebert.com

“Entertaining mix of agitpop, pranksterism and autobiography” – Variety

“There aren’t too many stunts this time around, but that’s not really what ‘Revolting’ is about.” – Matt Prigge, Metro

“”The Yes Men Are Revolting” is an entertaining and interesting examination of the anxieties that make us question who we are and if we’re making a difference. “ – Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist

“The Yes Men show that while reality might get lost in this struggle, the truth does occasionally emerge from the chaos.” – Oleg Ivanov, Slant Magazine

Mammoth Lakes Film Festival – May 27 – 31, Founder Shira Dubrovner

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The Mammoth Lakes Film Festival, held in the scenic and majestic setting of Mammoth Lakes, California, has announced its line-up of screenings for the festival’s inaugural year. The five-day festival will take place May 27-31, 2015, and will open with acclaimed Academy Award winning filmmaker Alex Gibney’s new documentary Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine. The festival will present sixteen films in Narrative and Documentary Competition, as well as special events and screenings, and an industry panel discussion on women in the filmmaking world, with producer Allison Amon (The Queen of Versailles), actress Kristanna Loken actress (Terminator 3) and other guests. Taking place five hours north of Los Angeles by car and thirty minutes south of the entrance to Yosemite National Park, the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival will deliver an intimate and unique Shira Dubrovner MMFF founderexperience for festival goers, filmmakers, and industry guests, with the opportunity to experience screenings and events in a beautiful mountain setting. The festival will present a diverse collection of feature films – from world premieres to film festival favorites, short film screenings and Q&As over five days.  The festival will also include nightly gala events that celebrate the excitement and discovery of visionary filmmaking. Mammoth Lakes Film Festival Founder Shira Dubrovner joins us for a lively conversation on the exciting and inspiring new addition to the film festival lineup.

Ticket sales and updates for the festival go to: www.MammothLakesFilmFestival.com 

Newport Beach Film Festival, CEO and co-founder Gregg Schwenk

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The Newport Beach Film Festival seeks to bring to Orange County the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking from around the world. Committed to 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. Since its inception in 2000, the Festival has presented many acclaimed films such as the U.S. Premiere of  Gregg Schwenkn NBFFCrash and other notable films including (500) Days of Summer, The Cove, Waitress, Son of Rambow, Paprika, Broken English, American Teen, Fugitive Pieces, Death Note: The Last Name, The King of Kong, Layer Cake, The Illusionist, Art School Confidential, Emmanuel’s Gift, Mad Hot Ballroom, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, Spellbound, Castle in the Sky, Born into Brothels, and Pieces of April. Through tributes, special screenings and seminars, the Festival has honored film industry notables, including Aaron Sorkin, Haskell Wexler, Robert Wise, Henry Bumstead, Elmer Bernstein, John Waters, Alan Arkin, Bruce Brown, Richard Sherman, Penelope Spheeris, and McG. Co-founder and CEO Gregg Schwenk stops by to talk about the 2015 edition of NBFF, the opening night film, The Water Diviner, directed by Academy Award winner Russell Crowe and many of this year’s special screenings and events.

Newport Beach Film Festival – Thursday, April 23rd – Sunday April 30th

For the latest news and updates go to: newportbeachfilmfest.com

Cheatin’, Director Bill Plympton

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Bill Plympton is considered the King of Indie Animation and is the only person to hand draw an entire animated feature film. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, he graduated from Portland State University in Graphic  Design. Plympton moved to New York City in 1968. He began his career creating cartoons for publications such as New York Times, National Lampoon, Playboy and Screw. In 1987 he was nominated for an Oscar® for his animated short “Your Face”. In 2005, Bill received another Oscar® nomination, this time for a short film “Guard Dog”. “Push Comes to Shove” another short film, won the prestigious Cannes 1991 Palme d’Or. After producing many shorts that appeared on MTV and Spike and Mike’s, he turned his talent to feature films. Since 1991 he’s made 9 feature films, 6 of them, “The Tune”, “Mondo Plympton”, “I Married A Strange Person”, “Mutant Aliens”, “Hair High” and “Idiots and Angels” are all animated features. His latest feature animated film is Cheatin’ is a fateful tale of a bumper car collision, Jake and Ella meet and become the most loving couple in the long history of Romance. But when a scheming “other” woman drives a wedge of jealousy into their perfect courtship, insecurity spells out an untimely fate. With only the help of a disgraced magician and his forbidden “soul machine,” Ella takes the form of Jake’s numerous lovers, desperately fighting through malfunction and deceit as they try to reclaim their destiny. Animator / director Bill Plympton joins us to talk about his latest, magically adult tale of love and fidelity.

For news and updates on Cheatin’ go to: cheatinmovie.com

“At a time when so many computer-generated features have an increasingly homogenized look, Plympton is a welcome reminder that the art of animation is too protean to be limited to a single visual style, medium or point of view.” – Charles Solomon, LA Times

“Strife and sexual humor reign in this energetic romp, one of Bill Plympton’s best longform animated works.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety

“It’s pleasingly old-school stuff that harks back to older, non-realist, counter-cultural schools of cartooning, a style through-line that reaches back to the very early days of Winsor McKay, through Tex Avery shorts and Ralph Bakshi in his Fritz the Cat-heyday.” – Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter

Winner of the Prix du Jury at Annecy 2014

Nominated for 3 Annie Awards

Opening night film for the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival

Best Animated Film at the Gujun International Film Festival

Academy Award Nominee, The Bigger Picture – Director / Writer / Animator Daisy Jacobs

Bigger Picture film poster 

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You want to put her in a home; you tell her; tell her now!’ hisses one brother to the other. But Mother won’t go, and their own lives unravel as she clings on. Innovative life-size animated characters tell the stark and darkly humorous tale of caring for an elderly parent. Daisy Jacobs is a British animation director, based in London. She studied at the National Film and Television School and at Central St Martins School of Art. The Bigger Picture is her MA graduation film. Previous films include Don Justino de oscars-posters-300x213Nevem (2011) and Tosh (2012). In her films, Daisy has moved from 2D hand-drawn animation to a hybrid of stop- motion and life-size painted animation. In The Bigger Picture, two-metre tall 2D and 3D painted characters interact with real sets. Director / writer / animator Jacobs stops by to talk about her unique and compelling animated masterpiece.

Awards:

2014 – Edinburgh International Film Festival, Innovation Award

2014 – Festival de Cannes (Cinefondation), Troisieme Prix,

2014 – Manchester KinoFilm Festival, Best Short Animation

2014 – Annecy Animation Festival, Cristal for a Graduation Film

2014 – Edinburgh International Film Festival, Innovation Award

2014 – Hiroshima Film Festival, Grand Prize, Oscar Qualifying

* Academy Award Winner – Animated Short Film, FEAST, Director Patrick Osborne

Feast film poster 

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FEAST is a new short from first-time director Patrick Osborne (Head of Animation, PAPERMAN) and Walt Disney Animation Studios, is the story of one man’s love life as seen through the eyes of his best friend and dog, Winston, and revealed bite by bite through the meals they share. Osborne is behind Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new short FEAST, taking the film from conception to completion. Osborne joined Disney as an animator on the 2008 feature film BOLT and went on to work on the PREP & LANDING movies andDisney’s 2010 hit TANGLED. Osborne served as Head of Animation for Disney’s’ OSCAR®-winning short PAPERMAN, and acted as Co-Head of Animation for the upcoming feature BIG HERO 6 prior to assuming full-time directing duties for FEAST. Prior to joining Disney, the Cincinnati, Ohio, native was lead oscars-posters-300x213character animator on THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. He also worked as an animator on I AM LEGEND, SuRF’S uP and OPEN SEASON. Osborne, who earned a BFA with a focus in computer animation from Ringling College of Art and Design, got his start as a kid making movies with his brothers on their parents’ camcorder. His fascination with visual effects was elevated to a career goal when his dad gave him a book about the making of JURASSIC PARK. Director Osborne joins us to talk about Oscar nominated film and the challenges and rewards of having the final say on his own animated film.

Awards:

2015 Annie Awards Nomination

Audience Award Winner: 2014 Hamptons International Film Festival

Rocks in My Pocket, Director Signe Baumane

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Zeitgeist Films is proud to present the US Theatrical release of ROCKS IN MY POCKETS, the debut animated feature by Signe Baumane. ROCKS IN MY POCKETS had its World Premiere at the 2014 Karlovy Vary Film Festival where it won the FIPRESCI Prize and was the first animated feature ever to take part in the Karlovy Vary International Competition. In the animated gem ROCKS IN MY POCKETS Latvian-born artist and filmmaker Signe Baumane tells five fantastical tales based on the courageous women in her family and their battles with madness. With boundless imagination and a twisted sense of humor, she has created daring stories of art, romance, marriage, nature, business, and Eastern European upheaval—all in the fight for her own sanity. Employing a unique, beautifully textured combination of papier-mâché stop-motion and classic hand-drawn animation (with inspiration from Jan Svankmajer and Bill Plympton), Director Baumane stops by to talk about her poignant and often hilarious tale of mystery, mental health, redemption and survival.

Q & A with Signe Baumane at the Laemelle Royal in Los Angeles Saturday,  September 13th and Sunday, September 14th.

For news and updates on Rocks in My Pockets go to: http://www.rocksinmypocketsmovie.com//

The film will open at the 
Laemmle Royal
 at 11523 Santa Monica Blvd in Los Angeles on September 12th with a national release to follow.

“Boasting a narrative of extraordinary complexity and density, stuffed with irony, humor and tales-within-tales… a fascinating and very personal look at mental illness, as well as familial and societal dictates and dynamics.” –Alissa Simon, VARIETY

“With ‘Rocks In My Pockets,’ Signe Baumane presents a sharp, surprising and funny animated feature, plumbing the depths of depression via her family history. Guided by Ms. Baumane’s almost musically accented voice-over, this hand-drawn debut feature is based upon the mental struggles of her Latvian grandmother and other relatives. It’s told with remorseless psychological intelligence, wicked irony and an acerbic sense of humor.” – Nicholas Rapold, NEW YORK TIMES

“Signe Baumane examines her family members’ history with mental illness (as well as her own struggles) with humor, delicacy and eye-catching animation techniques… Her commitment and talent is overwhelming, and her production is about as “independent” as it gets. Because Baumane had total control over the movie, we’re treated to splendid and surreal images like these.”
– Whitney Matheson, USA TODAY

Child of God, Actor Scott Haze

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Directed by acclaimed filmmaker James Franco, and based on the chilling novel by Cormac McCarthy, Child of God, tells the provocative story of Lester Ballad (Scott Haze), a dispossessed, violent man, attempting to exist outside the social order. Consecutively deprived of parents and housing and driven by famished loneliness, Ballard descends literally and figuratively to the level of a cave dweller asScott Haze Child of God he falls deeper into crime and degradation. Set in a small town in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Tennessee in the 1960s, Child of God is structured in three segments with each segment describing Ballad’s ever-growing isolation of from society and social mores. Lead actor Haze join us to talk about how his approach to this breakout role.

For news and updates on Child of God go to: childofgodfilm.wordpress.com/

“Child of God is dominated by Scott Haze’s fearless performance, a theatricalized fusillade of full-throttle feral craziness loaded with blood, snot, spit, shit and bile.” – The Hollywood Reporter

“Child of God showcases a jaw-dropping turn from Scott Haze as Lester Ballard, a feral pariah who rails at his oppressors” – The Guardian

“Ballard is God’s lonely man – a rustic Travis Bickle – and on-screen Haze gives an astonishing and brave performance of wildness and despair gone feral.” – Cine-Vue

Spotlight on the Los Angeles Film Fest June 11 – 19

LA Film Fest 2014 II posterNow in its 20th year, running from June 11-19, the Los Angeles Film Festival, presented by Film Independent, showcases diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision in new American and international cinema, and provides the movie loving public with one-of-a-kind events featuring critically acclaimed filmmakers, film industry professionals, and emerging talent from around the world. The Festival’s signature programs include the Filmmaker Retreat, Music in Film at The GRAMMY Museum®, Celebrating Women Filmmakers, Master Classes, Spirit of Independence Award, LA Muse and more. Over 200 features, shorts, and music videos, representing more than 40 countries, make up the main body of the Festival.

Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound – Director William (Joe) Saunders

 

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Billy Mize pioneered a musical revolution that became known as The Bakersfield Sound, which enjoyed enormous popularity in the sixties, producing such talented artists as Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. During the height of Bakersfield’s popularity, Nashville snubbed Billy Mize Film Postertheir loud, electric twang in an attempted to distance itself from rock ‘n’ roll artists, like Elvis Presley, and move to a smoother, acoustic sound. While Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound follows Mize’s personal story, it also defines and explains the Bakersfield Sound. The film explores how Mize made it to the brink of super-stardom, turned it down to be a father, befell horrible tragedy, and climbed his way back into the spotlight. In the prime of his career, just after being nominated for Single Record of the Year (his competition included Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and Glen Campbell), Mize and his wife, Martha, are beset with horrific personal tragedy.  Director, producer, editor and Mize’s own grandson, William (Joe) Saunders talks about the professional and personal journey that making Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound has been for him and his family.

For news and updates on Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound go to: http://www.billymizemovie.com/

Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story – Director NC Heiken

 

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 Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story tells the story of a prodigal alto sax player who, like so many of his fellow musicians of the era, saw his career plagued by drug Sound of Redemption film posteraddiction. What sets Frank apart is not just his exceptionally beautiful, classic alto playing, but also the amazing fact that he survived 30 years of revolving door incarceration and drug abuse and went on to a much heralded comeback career in the last 22 years of his life. His story is one of brilliant promise in his youth, a journey through the depths of hell, and redemption through his art. Sound of Redemption tells the story of his life and transformation through interviews with fellow musicians and people who were close to him, intercut with footage of Frank, and tracks of his very emotional music. Director NC Heikin joins us for a conversation on the tragedy and triumphs that is Frank Morgan’s story.

For news and Updates on Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story go to: http://www.thefrankmorganproject.com/index.html

For No Good Reason, Director Charlie Paul and Producer Lucy Paul

for no good reason II 

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Ralph Steadman is the last of the original Gonzo visionaries. Made over the course of fifteen years, “For No Good Reason,” explores the connection between life and art through the eyes of seminal British artist, Ralph Steadman. Insightful, humorous, and visually stunning, this is a study in honesty, friendship and the ambition that drives an artist. Ralph’s rise to prominence began in the early 1970’s during the fallout from the love and hope that had swept the western world during the 1960’s. This legendary time for music, literature, art and philosophy was the catalyst, along with his developing relationship with writer Hunter S Thompson, for Ralph to express and chart the wreckage that followed; a large-scale disintegration of a demoralized counter-culture. His art gained recognition in the press and popular-culture publications, both in the U.K. and U.S., for its bold comment on his fiercely heart-felt politics. Director Charlie Paul and Producer Lucy Paul joins us to talk about one of the world’s most electrifying and insightful painter / cartoonist / satirist.

News and updates For No Good Reason go to: http://sonyclassics.com/fornogoodreason/

“There’s no more exciting effect in the documentary than the look of pure pleasure on Depp’s face as he stands by Steadman’s drawing table, peeking over his shoulder as he attacks a sheet of paper.’ – Mark Feeney, Boston Globe

“Ralph Steadman is one of the greatest, most underappreciated living artists, so it’s wonderful that this celebratory documentary has arrived. It also happens to be one of the finest docs ever made about an artist.” – David Noh, Film Journal International

Jodorowski’s Dune, Director Frank Pavich

Jodorowsky Dune Poster II 

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In 1974, Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky, whose films EL TOPO and THE HOLY MOUNTAIN launched and ultimately defined the midnight movie phenomenon, began work on his most ambitious project yet. Starring his own 12-year old son Brontis alongside Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, David Carradine and Salvador Dali, featuring music by Pink Floyd and art by some of the most provocative talents of the era, including H.R. Giger and Jean ‘Mœbius’ Giraud, Jodorowsky’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s classic sci-fi novel DUNE was poised to change cinema forever. Director Frank Pavich joins us to talk about the power of Dune’s narrative and the visionary zeal Jodorowski brought to his singular vision.

“Mindblowing” – Variety “

“A surprise Cannes hit was Frank Pavich’s JODOROWSKY’S DUNE .” – IndieWire

Fascinating, informative and funny. – The Toronto Star

“It’s also clear that we are all the better for Frank Pavich’s wonderful contribution of JODOROWSKY’S DUNE.” – Twitch.com

“Arguably the most legendary of unmade film projects.” –  film.com (Top 10 favorite films at Cannes)

“Never before has there been a documentary about lost cinema quite like JODOROWSKY’S DUNE.” – thefilmstage.com

Ernest and Celestine, Director Benjamin Renner

Ernest and Celestine film poster 

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Based on the classic Belgian book series by Gabrielle Vincent, Ernest & Celestine won France’s César Award for Best Animated Feature, and nominated for this year’s Oscar for Best Animated Feature, tells the story of a mouse named Celestine, an artist and a dreamer who forms an unlikely bond with a troubadour bear named Ernest. But it isn’t long before their friendship is put on trial by their respective bear-fearing and mice-eating communities. Like a gorgeous watercolor painting brought to life, a constantly shifting pastel color palette bursts and drips across the screen, while wonderful storytelling and brilliant comic timing draw up influences as varied as Buster Keaton, Bug Bunny and the outlaw romanticism of Bonnie and Clyde. Bringing it all together is the on-screen chemistry between the two lead characters – a flowing, tender and playful rapport that will put a smile on your face and make your heart grow. Co-director Benjamin Renner stops by Film School for a conversation on his beguiling collaboration with co-directors Vincent Patar and Stephane Aubier.

For more on Ernest and Celestine: www.gkids.tv/ernest

“MAGICAL! ENCHANTING! AN ABSOULTE DELIGHT!”
“From its inventive visuals to its unruly heroes, Ernest & Celestine is an equal pleasure for children and adults. A modern-day period piece, a fabulous fable, a most fortunate use of animation artistry!” – Los Angeles Times

“EXTRAORDINARY!”
“To call it one of the most beautiful animated films in recent years is not enough. It is simply enchanting!” – Le Monde

“AN UTTER SUCCESS!”
“Sublimely elegant, endearing, gorgeous, delightful! This is an artful, handcrafted, and unforgettable piece of animation!” – IndieWire

100% FRESH – ROTTEN TOMATOES!

Oscar Nominated Short Films – Animated and Live Action with Carter Pilcher

Oscar Shorts 2014 Poster 

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Since founding Shorts International in 2000, Carter Pilcher has worked to make his company the world’s leading short movie entertainment company. Shorts International has become the first choice distributor, broadcaster and producer for hundreds of films. 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 talks to us about the ten wonderful films nominated for the Live Action and Animated Short Film Academy Awards.

“The fact that dedicated committees of conscientious human beings who know a lot about how movies are made weeded through hundreds and hundreds of submissions and picked their favorites … is something to be grateful for.” – Andrew O’Hehir, Salon.com

“See them all … You won’t be sorry.” – Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer

“There isn’t a bad film in this bunch …” – Anders Wright, San Diego Union-Tribune

For more on the Oscar nominated Live Action and Animated Short films: oscar.go.com/nominees

Deceptive Practices – The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay, co-directors Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein

deceptive-practice posterWhat happens when documentary filmmakers—whose mission is to probe, explore, and Reveal—take as their subject one of the world’s greatest living magicians, whose life and art are basically off limits to probing, exploration and revelation? More than a decade in the making, Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay is the captivating result of this curious conundrum: a mesmerizing journey into the world of modern magic and the small circle of eccentrics who were its perpetual devotees. Award-winning co-directors Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein will join us for an informative and entertaining conversation on the making of a film about Ricky Jay, master magician, actor, artist, enigma.

Special Appearance at the Nuart Theatre (Los Angeles, CA)

Star and subject of film Ricky Jay, producer/director/editor Molly Bernstein and producer/co-director Alan Edelstein will appear in person on Friday, May 17 for a Q&A after the 7:30pm show. They will also appear on Saturday, May 18 for a Q&A after the 7:30pm show.

 “Wonderfully engaging!” – New York Magazine

“Full of happy surprises. Card tricks that leave his audience speechless.” – David Edelstein, New York Magazine

“He puts on a smashing show, whether on or off the stage… Mr. Jay proves a hugely entertaining guide…” –
Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“A riveting look at Mr. Jay’s arduous, arcane pursuits through the prism of those who taught and inspired him to be one of the world’s great magicians. Some of his illusions are so stunning that they leave spectators teary-eyed – out of amazement, or perhaps fear.” – Robert P. Walzer, Wall Street Journal

Consuming Spirits, director Chris Sullivan

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Painstakingly created over the course of the last fifteen years, Chris Sullivan’s debut animated feature is an absolute marvel to behold. Employing multiplane cut-outs, drawings on paper and stop motion (all shot on 16mm), Sullivan weaves a psychologically dense chronicle of a crumbling Rust Belt town, and the intermingled lives of three lonely souls who work at its local newspaper. Unfolding like a vision quest from the mind of a memory-haunted insomniac, it tenderly navigates its ugly characters down twisted paths upon which their pasts, fears, and longings converge. This is a totally singular and eerie landscape, dotted with ghost-ridden farmhouses, midnight car accidents, late night radio broadcasts and the world’s oldest cat. Painted with frequent strokes of unexpected humor and rendered with a beautifully rough hewn craft emphasizing its characters’ fragility, it emerges as a quiet feature-length epic unlike anything you’ve ever seen: adult, complex and brimming with the irrepressible spirit of American independent filmmaking.. Director/ Writer/ Producer Chris Sullivan joins us for an extended conversation on this stunningly original animated film. Be sure to see Chris Sullivan for the 8:00 PM Friday and 7:00 PM Saturday screening at the Cinefamily –  611 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles.

“CRITICS’ PICK!  A dark and painful fantasy for grown-ups… A work of obsessive artisanal discipline and unfettered artistic vision. You have never seen anything like it. This remarkable film…conducts its inquiry into the darkest zones of the human heart in a spirit at once anguished and playful…A wonder.”
– A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“Emotionally raw, thoroughly original…The entire world he’s built is constructed of ugliness shot through with moments of unexpected beauty. His narrative is the same… small moments of beauty and redemption sneak through.”  – Ian Buckwalter, NPR online

“A sprawling, slithering, stream-of-consciousness tale… a moribund, rust-belt dreamland. This is the rare animated feature whose subtext is as rich as its sensuality… CONSUMING SPIRITS (is) not only a monstrous visual achievement, but one of the most uniquely humanistic animated features of all time.”
 Joseph Jon Lanthier, Slant



“Every frame in Chris Sullivan’s American Gothic saga aches and echoes from a place of unique artistry, meticulous craftsmanship and great imagination.  It is the little touches, the small world-building and grounding details that make CONSUMING SPIRITS feel so rich and so worthwhile. It is adult animation at its best and most unique, and a film which exudes the true spirit of American independent filmmaking.”
– Ben Umstead, TwitchFilm.com

Carter Pilcher – Chief Executive of Shorts International

It’s time to start talking Oscars.  This week on Film School we’ll be talking about the Academy Award nominated films in the short form categories, Live-Action, Animated and Documentaries.  Joining us will be Carter Pilcher. Carter 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.

LIFE OF PI – writer, David Magee

 

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Based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, is a magical adventure story centering on Pi Patel, the precocious son of a zoo keeper. Dwellers in Pondicherry, India, the family decides to move to Canada, hitching a ride on a huge freighter. After a shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a 26-foot lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, all fighting for survival. Writer David Magee talks about the challenges and rewards of adapting a sprawling, best seller into a powerful three-dimensional drama.

That Ang Lee has managed to turn the limitations of the material into his adaptation’s greatest strength make “Life of Pi” into a significant achievement for the filmmaker in spite of blatant problems with structure, dialogue and other surface issues. – Eric Kohn, IndieWire

Melds a harrowing high-seas adventure with a dreamy meditation on the very nature of storytelling. – Justin Chang, Variety

TOMM MOORE director of THE SECRET OF KELLS

An interview with TOMM MOORE the director of THE SECRET OF KELLS, the animated story of the boy behind the famed Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a stunningly beautiful manuscript containing the Four Gospels. It is Ireland’s most precious medieval artifact, and is generally considered the finest surviving illuminated manuscript to have been produced in medieval Europe. Our hero, young Brendan lives in a remote medieval outpost under siege from barbarian raids. But a new life of adventure beckons when a celebrated master illuminator arrives from foreign lands carrying an ancient but unfinished book, brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest where mythical creatures hide. It is here that he meets the fairy Aisling, a mysterious young wolf-girl, who helps him along the way. But with the barbarians closing in, will Brendan’s determination and artistic vision illuminate the darkness and show that enlightenment is the best fortification against evil?  Moore is co-Founder and company director of Cartoon Saloon.  He has worked on almost every Cartoon Saloon production in various capacities including directing and designing commercials for clients including Cadburys and the Irish Independent, illustrating graphic novels and children’s books and working as animation artist on several tv series and feature film productions.

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, Director Jessica Oreck

BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO is a documentary that delves into the ineffable mystery of Japan’s age-old love affair with insects. A labyrinthine meditation on nature, beauty, philosophy and Japanese culture that might just make you question if your ‘instinctive’ repulsion to bugs is merely a trick of western conditioning.  Sold live in vending machines and department stores, plastic replicas included as prizes in the equivalent of a McDonald’s Happy Meal and the subject of the No. 1 videogame, MushiKing, from the smallest backyard to the top of Mt. Fuji, insects inspire an enthusiasm in Japan seen nowhere else in this world. Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo discovers why Japan developed this rich and enriching social relationship with insects.  Like a detective story, the film untangles the web of influences behind Japan’s captivation with insects. It opens in modern-day Tokyo where a single beetle recently sold for $90,000 then slips back to the early 1800s, to the first cricket-selling business and the development of haiku and other forms of insect literature and art. Through history and adventure, Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo travels all the way back in time to stories of the fabled first emperor who named Japan the “Isle of the Dragonflies.” Along the way the film takes side trips to Zen temples and Buddhist Shrines, nature preserves and art museums in its quest for the inspirations that moved Japan into this fascination while other cultures hurtled off towards an almost universal and profound fear of insects. Interspersed with the philosophies of one of Japan’s best-selling authors and anatomists, Dr. Takeshi Yoro, and laced with poetry and art from Japan’s history, this film becomes about much more than insects. Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo is set to the rhythm of traditional Japanese values in its attention to detail, harmony, and the appreciation of the seemingly mundane. It quietly challenges the viewer to observe the world from an uncommon perspective that will shift the familiar to the fantastic and just might change not only the way we think about bugs, but the way we think about life. Director Jessica Oreck joins us to talk about her debut documentary and her intriguing journey from entomologist to filmmaker.

For news and updates go to: beetlequeen.com/home

 

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“Oreck gives us some marvelous close-ups of scampering beetles and butterflies emerging from their pupae, but the focus here is primarily on people.” – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

“A scientist looking for a combination of childlike innocence and minimalist sophistication might not see it in Hello Kitty but can recognize it in a horned beetle.” – Mike Hale, New York Times

“Zen gardens, banzai trees, the art of haiku — indeed, the whole of Japanese minimalism becomes a setting for these multilegged scramblers, imbued with Shintoist wisdom for those who would look and listen.” – Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out

“An expansive take on the world in miniature, Jessica Oreck’s documentary debut pursues all angles on a novel subject — the Japanese obsession with insects — until it assumes a worldview.” – Eric Hynes, Village Voice