Maria by Callas, Director Tom Volf

Tom Volf’s MARIA BY CALLAS is the first film to tell the life story of the legendary Greek/American opera singer completely in her own words. Told through performances, TV interviews, home movies, family photographs, private letters and unpublished memoirs—nearly all of which have never been shown to the public—the film reveals the essence of an extraordinary woman who rose from humble beginnings in New York City to become a glamorous international superstar and one of the greatest artists of all time. Assembling the material for the film took director Volf four years of painstaking research, which included personal outreach to dozens of Callas’s closest friends and associates, who allowed him to share their personal memorabilia in the film. When recordings of Callas’s voice aren’t available, Joyce DiDonato, one of contemporary opera’s biggest stars, reads her words. Through Volf’s intimate portrait of Callas, we see that some commonly held beliefs about Callas, notably her reputation as a “tempestuous” diva, have no basis in fact. MARIA BY CALLAS revisits many of the most notable controversies of Callas’s life, from the “Rome Cancellation” to her conflict with the Metropolitan Opera’s Rudolf Bing, and demonstrates that, while Callas was a demanding perfectionist, she was neither capricious nor someone who made trouble for its own sake. The film also sheds new light on Callas’s relationship with Aristotle Onassis, the supreme love of her life. Director Tom Volf joins us in a conversation on the story behind his illuminating look into the complex life of a music icon and his decision to tell Maria’s story in her own voice.

 

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Reviews:  90% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Captivating.” – The Hollywood Reporter

“Such artistry!” – Figaro Magazine

“A generous, full-throated defense of a tarnished icon.” – Variety“

“An enchanting story” – Vanity Fair

“A magnificent film” – Huffington Post

The Isle, Director Matthew Butler Hart

Based loosely on Scottish ghostly folklore with inspiration from Greek sirens, the tale is set in 1846 on a remote island off the west coast of Scotland, where three survivors from a mysterious sinking of their merchant ship find themselves stranded on a small misty isle.  The isle’s four sole secretive residents, an old harbor man, a farmer, his niece and a young mad woman, are anything but welcoming and reluctant to aid the sailors back to the mainland. The promise of a boat never materializes leading one of the sailors to question why people had abandoned the island. Through his investigation he discovers that every year around the same date a tragedy at sea would occur and young men from the island would perish.  When his two shipmates meet with fatal accidents, the myth of a ghostly siren haunting the island leads him to try and uncover the truth. Directed and co-written by British filmmaker Matthew Butler Hart (TWO DOWN), the film stars Olivier Award-winning, Tony-nominated actor Conleth Hill (HBO’s “The Game of Thrones”), Alex Hall (SUBURBICAN, BBC’s “The Miniaturist”), Fisaya Akinade (BAFTA-nominated GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS with Glenn Close and Gemma Arterton), THE ISLE co-writer and producer, Tori Butler Hart (MISS IN HER TEENS), Alix Wilton Regan (THE WIFE) and Graham Butler (Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful”). Director Matthew Butler Hart stops by to talk about his gorgeous, haunting new film.

 

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Official Selection, Newcastle International Film Festival 2018

Winner, Jury Prize for Best Cinematography Manchester International Film Festival, 2018

Winner, Jury Prize for Best Sci-Fi/Horror Film London Independent Film Festival, 2018

“The Isle is the kind of cinema that is getting far too rare. Superbly shot, exquisitely paced and genuinely compelling and surprising – indeed astonishing – in its development of plot and character.” – Stephen Fry

“Beautifully shot… subtle and measured in execution… a refreshing entry in a genre so often saturated by repetition.” – Flickering Myth

“…genuinely surprising and engaging…innovative, finely-drawn and confident…” – Warped Perspective

“Exquisitely-wrought… quintessentially intelligent Gothic horror: all in a surprisingly large scope and  absolutely unforgettable cinematic experience. “ – The 405

Tyrel, Director Sebastian Silva

In Director Sebastián Silva latest film. Tyrel, Tyler (Jason Mitchell) and his friend John (Christopher Abbott), two young restaurateurs from New York City, push a car along a back road high on a cold, snowy day in the Catskills Mountains. Tyler and John are on their way to a weekend getaway to celebrate the birthday of Pete (Michael Cera), one of John’s old friends, at a cabin in the woods. Tyler needs the excursion, even though he will be among mostly strangers, because the home he shares with his Puerto Rican girlfriend is packed with her visiting family – and the ailing, elderly mother to whom she is devoted. What could be better than a jocular, beer-soaked weekend in the country with a bunch of his buddy’s friends? Well, nothing … except that an empty gas tank is only the first in a series of discomforting moments Tyler encounters and engenders over the next 48 hours. Writer/director Sebastián Silva’s deploys his signature handheld style probing subtext and body language, TYREL conjures an undeniable underlying tension and it marks his most radical character exploration yet—a timely, provocative, and brilliant observation of the idea of otherness in today’s American climate. Director Sebastián Silva (The Maid, Nasty Baby, Crystal Fairy) joins is for a lively conversation on male bonding, tribalism, race, working with this outstanding cast of actors and undermining expectations.

 

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“CRITIC’S PICK. UNNERVINGLY SHARP, AGONIZINGLY DEAD-ON.  The stranger “Tyrel” gets, the more accurate it feels.”  – Bilge Ebiri, The New York Times

“Silva’s most political work yet–though it is sly and subtle, the intention is palpable, the emotions elicited all too real, and ultimately, “Tyrel” proves to be a fascinating entry in his body of work.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

“This is a fast and lean film, an absolute workout for its outstanding cast and a devilish roller coaster ride for audiences.” – Jordan Hoffman, Vanity Fair

“Every time this fly-in-the-buttermilk scenario leans toward satire, it reminds you that you’re really watching a horror movie.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone Magazine

Monrovia, Indiana – Director Frederick Wiseman

Located in mid-America, MONROVIA, INDIANA, (population 1,063) founded in 1834, is primarily a farming community. MONROVIA, INDIANA is about the day-to-day experiences living and working in Monrovia, with emphasis on community organizations and institutions, religion and daily life in this farming community. These towns were once the backbone of American life. While their number and populations have shrunk, the importance of rural America as a formative center of American politics and values was demonstrated in the 2016 presidential election. The film explores the conflicting stereotypes and illustrates how values like community service, duty, spiritual life, generosity and authenticity are formed, experienced and lived. MONROVIA, INDIANA gives a complex and nuanced view of daily life in Monrovia and provides some understanding of a rural, mid-American way of life that has always been important in America but whose influence and force have not always been recognized or understood in the big cities on the east and west coasts of America and in other countries. Since  1967,  Frederick  Wiseman  has  directed  42 documentaries — dramatic, narrative films that seek to portray ordinary human  experience in a wide  variety  of  contemporary social  institutions. His films include TITICUT FOLLIES, HIGH  SCHOOL, WELFARE, JUVENILE COURT, BOXING GYM, LA  DANSE,  BALLET, CENTRAL PARK, BALLET, LA COMEDIE FRANCAISE, BELFAST, MAINE, and EX LIBRIS – The New York Public Library. At the 2016 Academy Awards ceremony Frederick Wiseman received an Honorary Award (Governors Awards) for a lifetime of brilliant filmmaking. He joins us to talk about his latest cinematic treasure, Monrovia Indiana.

 

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For news and updates on all of Frederick Wiseman’s work go to: zipporah.com

“He’s arguably the most brilliant, brave and innovative person working in his field.” – Terry Atkinson, Los Angeles Times

“Rigorously shot, impeccably edited and at times startling in their beauty, these films usher us into often otherwise anonymous spaces and lives, and help make the invisible visible.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

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90% on Rotten Tomatoes

“The result is surprisingly companionable and enjoyable, an unhurried look at a location that is in no kind of rush, a place that is concerned most of all with preserving the way it’s always been.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns his camera on a pro-gun, pro-God Midwestern town and gives us a landmark view of what it looks like to live in Trump’s America.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“A calmly analytical film in which-as ever in Wiseman’s work-extended discussions and public debates are developed with an absorbing dramatic power.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker

“The unavoidable political implications of “Monrovia, Indiana” give its observations an undeniable urgency.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times

Bleeding Edge, Director Kirby Dick and Producer Amy Ziering

America has the most technologically advanced health care system in the world, yet preventable medical harm has become one of the leading causes of death, and the overwhelming majority of high-risk implanted devices never require a single clinical trial. In THE BLEEDING EDGE, Academy Award nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (THE INVISIBLE WAR, THE HUNTING GROUND) turn their sights on the $400 billion medical device industry, examining lax regulations, corporate cover-ups, and profit driven incentives that put patients at risk daily.  Weaving emotionally powerful stories of people whose lives have been irrevocably harmed, the film asks: what life-saving technologies may actually be killing us? Director Kirby Dick and Producer Amy Ziering join us for a conversation on the lack of integrity in the medical device industry, lax regulatory oversight by the Federal Food and Drug Administration and the potentially deadly combination that it can become.  

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A terrifying eye-opener… Exposes the massive health problems caused by the $400 billion medical device industry. – The Hollywood Reporter

“You’ll wish [these interviews] were heard by every government official.” – The New York Times

“Enlightening… A shocking expose of the medical device industry… [with] unnerving immediacy.” – Indiewire

“Equally infuriating and enlightening… I yelled, ‘Oh, my God!’ multiple times while watching.” – Village Voice

Letter from Masanjia, Director Leon Lee

Written and directed by internationally acclaimed filmmaker and Peabody Award winner, Leon Lee, LETTER FROM MASANJIA is an astonishing & riveting documentary follows the true story of an Oregon woman who finds a desperate SOS letter penned by a political prisoner in her Halloween decorations and the nail-biting chain of events that it sparks when she takes the letter public, exposing appalling flagrant human rights violations – that leads to sweeping labor reform in China. The impact of what those two unlikely heroes have accomplished is even more profound in today’s rapidly boiling over political climate, not just in China but around the rest of the world. LETTER FROM MASANJIA is a devastating tale of human rights violations in current day China with corporate giants across the globe receiving prisoner labor efforts for Halloween decorations, asking no questions in a price for pennies on the dollar. This is the tale of one political prisoners desperate plea to alert the world to horrors most of society sweeps under the carpet. Director and writer Leon Lee stops by to talk about the hundreds of thousands of people currently incarcerated in labor camps, and the millions more living in fear as well as the people resisting a totalitarian regime.

 

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Sun Yi’s stoicism is admirable and moving, but it’s his ex-wife Fu Ning’s tearful recollection of their separation that cements the story in your mind.” – Adam Keller, Film Threat

“‘Letter From Masanjia’ is a bracing reminder of our sometimes blindered approach to globalization and the effects of simple actions.” Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times

“It’s an important story, made more intense by its tight focus.” – Ken Jaworowski, New York Times

“A disquieting exposé of China’s human-rights abuses… The perseverance on show should leave viewers inspired to learn more.” – Lucy Liu, Georgia Straight

McQueen, Co-director Peter Ettedgui (Ian Bonhote)

Born and raised in East London’s working-class Stratford neighborhood, nothing in the background of Lee Alexander McQueen hinted at his future. The youngest of six children, Lee  might have been expected to become a plumber, a bricklayer or perhaps a cab driver like his  father. Instead, McQueen’s fierce romanticism and punk poetry helped create 1990s-era “Cool  Britannia,” a celebration of youth culture in the U.K. For perhaps the first time since the  Swinging Sixties, a lad from the East End of London could — and  did — become one of the most  original and influential artists of his time. Filmmakers Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui capture the life and work of a unique creative talent in all his glorious anarchy in their new film, McQueen. They offer a thrilling portrait of McQueen’s life and complex persona, following him as he conquers the world of fashion with designs as ravishing as they are sinister. From his apprenticeship at an old-school Savile Row tailor and haberdasher, where he displayed a preternatural knack for pattern cutting and tailoring, to his death at only 40, the film breaks the rules of documentary storytelling with its mosaic of standalone fragments shot in different  styles, which accumulate and combine to create a groundbreaking, multi-faceted portrait. Through exclusive interviews with his closest friends and family, recovered archives, exquisite visuals and music, McQUEEN is an authentic celebration and thrilling portrait of an inspired yet tortured fashion visionary. Co-director and writer Peter Ettedgui (co-director Ian Bonhote) talks about the making of a personal and intimate look into the  extraordinary life career and artistry of one of the most influential fashion designers of our time.

 

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“The intricacy of the pieces and stagings… makes McQueen the relatively rare documentary that demands to be seen on the big screen.” – Inkoo  Kang, Slate

“In the crowded field of fashion docs, this one stands tall.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

“This intelligent, honest documentary explores McQueen’s complex personality without getting tacky or tabloidy, or ignoring his dark side.” – Cath Clarke, Time Out

“There’s so much fresh air in this stunningly good biography that it feels like you’ve never encountered a rags-to-riches, tortured-artist story before. Not just for fashion lovers.” – MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Filosopher

Path of Blood, Director Jonathan Hacker

PATH OF BLOOD depicts Islamist terrorism, as it has never been seen before. Drawn from a hoard of jihadi home-movie footage that was captured by Saudi security services, this is the story of Muslim terrorists targeting Muslim civilians and brought to justice by Muslim security agents. It is a stark reminder that all who are touched by terrorism are victimized by it. A powerful and sometimes shocking cinematic experience, PATH OF BLOOD reveals how brainwashed youths, fuelled by idealism and the misguided pursuit of adventure, can descend into madness and carnage. The raw, unvarnished footage, to which the filmmakers negotiated exclusive access, captures young thrill-seekers at a jihadi “boot camp” deep in the Saudi desert, having signed on to overthrow the Saudi government. They plot to detonate car bombs in downtown Riyadh, become embroiled in a game of cat-and-mouse with government forces and, as their plans unravel, resort to ever more brutal tactics. Adopting a strictly objective approach, the film doesn’t editorialize and contains no interviews or “talking heads” commentary. The home video footage was shot by the terrorists themselves, allowing viewers to see them in all their complexity, while compelling audiences to draw their own conclusions.  Director / Producer Jonathan Hacker  is a documentary producer and director with numerous awards under his belt including the prestigious BAFTA and RTS awards. He joins us for a conversation on his frightening look at operational level of terrorism and the people who commit these heinous crimes.

 

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http://www.pathofbloodfilm.com/

83% on Rotten Tomatoes

“It commands attention as an object lesson in the banality of evil.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times

“Operates as a potent reminder of the randomness, and casual cruelty of modern terrorism, the way it leeches out the humanity of victims and perpetrators on both sides.” – Leslie Pelperin, Guardian

“The film is compiled from footage that was shot by the terrorists themselves… And the fact that the film offers no real sense of hope makes it that much more alarming.” – Rich Clines, Shadows on the Wall

“This is a dazzlingly revealing and upsetting film.” – Nigel Andrews, Financial Times

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, Director Sophie Fiennes

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami is an electrifying journey through the public and private worlds of pop culture mega-icon Grace Jones.  The documentary contrasts musical sequences with intimate personal footage, all the while brimming with Jones’s bold aesthetic. A larger-than-life entertainer, an androgynous glam-pop diva, an unpredictable media presence – Grace Jones is all these things and more. Sophie Fiennes’s documentary goes beyond the traditional music biography, offering a portrait as stylish and unconventional as its subject. Taking us home with her to Jamaica, into the studio with long-time collaborators Sly & Robbie, and backstage at gigs around the world, the film reveals Jones as lover, daughter, mother, and businesswoman. But the stage is the fixed point to which the film returns, with eye-popping performances of “Slave to the Rhythm,” “Pull Up to the Bumper,” “Love is the Drug,” and more. Jones herself has said watching the film “will be like seeing me almost naked” and, indeed, Fiennes’s treatment is every bit as definition-defying as its subject, untamed by either age or life itself. Director Sophie Fiennes (Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, Legend of Leigh Bowery) joins us to talk about the dynamic in-concert performances, her access to Grace and her startling candor concerning her public and private life and the critical recognition the film has garnered.

 

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90% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Brilliantly and beautifully engaged in the present. A sparkling example of how to document our icons. Allows us to appreciate the reality of the artist in her most candid moments, in her own words, which is way more interesting than what we’d find in yet another standard biopic.” – Daisy Jones, VICE

“Pure energy, fierce, and empowering. If you want a rock-n- roll, sexy, feel good, empowering film, pull up to the theater in your most audacious outfit and get ready for the Grace Jones experience.” – The Huffington Post

“A celebration of art and life. Jones herself has promised the film ‘will be like seeing me almost naked.’” – Michael-Oliver Harding, Interview Magazine

“A sumptuous sensory treat.” – Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter

“A true testament to the power of style.” – Caitlin Agnew, The Globe and Mail

“The film feels as epic as the artist herself. A mix of concert doc and intimate verité, Fiennes has crafted a film that feels like Stop Making Sense via Frederick Wiseman. As an intimate look at Jones the film succeeds, as a powerful testament to her talent the film soars.” – Jason Gorber, BirthMoviesDeath