When ‘Lady’ Sandra Abbott (Academy Award nominee Imelda Staunton, Maleficent, Vera Drake) discovers that her husband of forty years (John Sessions) is having an affair with her best friend (Josie Lawrence) she seeks refuge in London with her estranged, older sister Bif (Celia Imrie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Bridget Jones’ Baby). The two could not be more different – Sandra is a fish out of water next to her outspoken, serial dating, free-spirited sibling. But different is just what Sandra needs at the moment, and she reluctantly lets Bif drag her along to a community dance class, where gradually she starts finding her feet and romance as she meets her sister’s friends, Charlie (Timothy Spall), Jackie (Joanna Lumley) and Ted (David Hayman). Director Richard Loncraine talks about his endearing and touching film about seconds chances and finding love.
“The cast lend charm to this feelgood fairy tale and Celia Imrie is especially good as the inspiring Bif.” – Allan Hunter, Daily Express
“The cinematic equivalent of a pair of comfy slippers. This is a charming, oft-told tale of second chances in life and love, and it is filled with fine performances only let down occasionally by an indulgent run time and some stunted dialogue.” – Linda Maric, HeyUGuys
“It’s about real adults living ordinary, important and sometimes difficult lives. Finding Your Feet is rightly billed as comedy-drama; yet, although it’s full of rib-tickling dialogue, it’s the drama that cuts deep.” – Stephen Romei, The Australian
“Its love-in-later-life insights are well-worn, but with Staunton on song, Richard Loncraine’s film mines genuine feeling.” – James Mottram, Total Film
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
With its upcoming premiere at the South by Southwest Film FestivalAli & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes directed by Robert S. Bader tells the extraordinary storyof a famous friendship played out before a captivated national audience Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes, directed by Robert S. Bader,shares the rich history of the Muhammed Ali andDick Cavett’s relationship that spanned decades and late night TV. From his 1960’s Olympic Gold Medal win, the heavyweight championship against Sonny Liston in 1964, to joining the Nation of Islam, refusing induction into the United States Army, and his legendarily epic battles in the ring with Joe Frazier and George Foreman, Muhammad Ali remained a unique and powerful force of nature in our popular culture. More than any sports documentary, this unique film deeply delves into hotly contended political and social matters that remain equally as relevant today. Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes Director Robert S. Bader produced the acclaimed documentaries Dick Cavett’s Watergate and Dick Cavett’s Vietnam for PBS. He is the writer and producer of the Warner Bros. documentary The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk, and the author of Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers on Stage. Legendary television host Dick Cavett joins us to talk about his 53-year relationship with “the greatest of all time,” Muhammad Ali.
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
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.
Written & directed by Michele Remsen (“Juke,” “Two in the Morning”),Toss It will make it’s world premiere during the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival at the LA Live Regal Cinemas on Sunday, February 25th. Opening on the last two bitter singles at a wedding — smart-skeptical Emily and obsessive-compulsive-flirt Finn – (latter-day Rosalind Russel and Cary Grant types) who can witty-banter-for-days and seem a perfect match — then everything gets tossed. Finn wonders why he’s so fucked up, and Emily wonders why she’s so drawn to him. A younger couple, sophisticated parents, a wise great-uncle, and a flaky friend impact both, driving them apart until they take a leap. Then a major curve-ball hits, the curtain gets pulled-back on dearly held traditions and reveals what made them who they are. Discovering the real-deal goes down in back-hallways, Finn and Emily kick against convention to find some kind of truth of their own.Toss It explores women as the real power players because women, by and large, run and nurture the fundamental unit of society: family. Director and screenwriter joins us to talk about love, relationships, fast-paced filmmaking and writing modern day cinematic dialog.
5 Doctors follows Spencer, a miserable young stand-up comedian and hypochondriac, convinced that he’s dying from a bizarre array of symptoms. After a few years trying to make it in L.A., he’s got nothing to show for his efforts except for a viral YouTube video and an indifferent agent who does most of her business via text. Out of options and armed with a binder full of WebMD printouts, Spencer takes drastic action: he flies cross-country to his quaint hometown in upstate New York to consult with his five childhood doctors in a single day, planning to take the redeye back to L.A. that night without seeing any of his friends or family. Spencer’s unwitting accomplice is Jay, who happily agrees to chauffeur him to his appointments. Tearing through town, eluding his loved ones, Spencer is prodded, dilated, and biopsied into accepting that the cause of his symptoms and his reasons for coming home may be more complicated than he thought. 5 Doctors stars: Matt Porter (“New Timers,”“Hasta La Vista”), Max Azulay (“Argyle,” “First Time”), Emily Walton (“Submission,” “Deliverance”), Bobby Moynihan (“Saturday Night Live,” CBS’ “Me, Myself & I”), Eddie Pepitone (“Old School,” “The Muppets”), Peter Friedman (“Love & Other Drugs,” “Single White Female”), Adam Dannheisser (“Down to Earth,” “Nine Minutes”), Jodi Long (“The Hot Chick,” “Splash”), Jeremy Shamos (“The Big Sick,” “Magic in the Moonlight”), Jordan Baker (“Escape from L.A.,” “Another Earth”),and Annabelle Zasowski (“The Blacklist,”“Orange is the New Black”). The co-directors Matt Porter and Max Azulay join us to talk about their funny and touching debut feature.
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
After ending her engagement and finding herself at a loss for inspiration actor Sadie Katz, finds herself up late at night searching the internet. In her loneliness, she keeps clicking on stories of others having magical chance encounters with her favorite actor and life guruBill Murray. Katz shares with the audience that she finds herself at a loss as to why she needs to meet Bill Murray but, that’s part of the intrigue and pleasure of knowing that secretly we all wish we had a little MurrayMagic in our life…which starts both Sadie and the audience on the quest of finding the unfindable and zany Bill Murray. The directorial debut from actress Katz (“Blood Feast,” “Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort”), “The Bill Murray Experience,” is being distributed by Gravitas Ventures across VOD platforms globally on December 19th, 2017.The documentary features: Joel Murray (“Mad Men”), P.J. Soles (“Stripes”), and the legend himself. At crossroads in her life director Sadie Katz joins us to talk about her magical quest to meet comedian and legend Bill Murray.
According to one of many Haitian beliefs, we are born from water and so to water our souls return… but only for a year and a day, after our demise. Guetty Felin’s AYITI MON AMOUR is set in a land inhabited by spirits looking for their final resting place, mourners seeking closure and ordinary individuals engaged in a precarious dance of survival. It spins the magic neo-realist tale of Orphée an awkward teen grieving the loss of his father. One day after a freak encounter with an underwater sea creature he develops special electrifying powers, but with power comes certain responsibilities…The world seems to be changing much too rapidly for Jaurès the old fisherman. These days Jaurès is obsessed with the environmental degradation, the rising temperature of the sea and the drought that is starving his cows. But what pre-occupies Jaurès the most is his beloved wife Odessa who is bedridden and homesick. Jaurès is determined to do everything to make her well again even if it means putting his own life in peril…Lastly, there’s the beautiful mysterious Ama, part muse, part wandering soul but also the main character of a novel by an uninspired writer. After five years of waiting for him to complete his masterpiece, she decides to leave him and his story, and sets out to live her own life. With AYITI MON AMOUR the island nation of Haiti has its first ever entry in the Academy Awards category of Best Foreign Language Film. It is alsothe first narrative feature entirely shot in Haiti by a Haitian-born female director, Guetty Felin. She joins us to talk about her warm-hearted, humane film and its celebration of her native country.
In this biting domestic story, Jill, a lonely, unfulfilled housewife with four unruly children, paces on her dining room table with a belt around her neck, contemplating a desperate end. Her husband, Bill, focused on his identity as breadwinner and an affair with a lusty co-worker, is as oblivious to Jill’s growing terror that she will do something destructive as he is to the panic at his unraveling company. Meanwhile, dogs bark and howl through the night, as one persistent mutt continually stalks the family’s yard. When Jill’s psyche finally breaks, she takes on a vicious new canine persona. Marianna Palka writes, directs, and stars as Jill in this dark and provocative film, balancing a whip-smart, deeply unsettling take on the horrors of a crumbling nuclear family with a palpable sensitivity for her character’s plight and perfectly timed comedic flourishes. Jason Ritter delivers a beautifully tragicomic performance as Bill, who’s transformed by bizarre crisis from an indifferent hound of a man entirely untethered from his family to their unexpected emotional anchor. Director and lead actor Marianna Palka joins us in a conversation about her go-for-broke approach to the story and performance.
“A satirical scream of rage against patriarchal prerogatives, this feminist horror-comedy, written and directed by Ms. Palka, has a vicious edge… Palka carves a black and biting niche between a man and a woman, a space where chaos and psychological unease demand to be reckoned with.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
“Marianna Palka is fearless. She wrote, directed and starred in a movie that has her acting like a rabid dog for most of its duration. It’s a bold move, and one that pays off in a big way.” – Meredith Borders, Birth Movies Death
“Vicious feminist satire…Palka recalls Michael Haneke, but with an eye for surreal black comedy that suggests the anything-goes weirdness of Quentin Dupieux.“– Eric Kohn, Indiewire
It’s a story that beggars belief—a bipolar practitioner of “candle magick” living in a dilapidated farmhouse in rural Ohio with a lifelong obsession for building violins (and covered in tattoos of master builders such as Stradivarius) convinces a world-renowned soloist via social media that he is capable of creating a perfect replica of the world’s most valuable violin, Guarneri’s Il Cannone. A quirky look into one man’s DIY enthusiasm and perseverance when facing down a self-created, impossible task, Strad Style is the feel-good doc of 2017.Stefan Avalos is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Having started his life as a classically trained violinist and knowing the obsessions that are part of the violin-world, he became intrigued with the story of Daniel Houck, while working on a broader documentary about New vs old violins. While this movie is still in process, “Strad Style” emerged as a story that became HIS obsession. Stefan joins us to talk about the making of this magical documentary.
Provocative, funny, intelligent and fiercely political, audiences had better be ready to dive in for the new documentary feature MR. FISH: CARTOONING FROM THE DEEP END. Directed by Pablo Bryant, will have its NYC Premiere at the DOC NYC 2017. In this documentary we discover the dangerously funny cartoonist Mr. Fish, struggling to make a living in an industry that is dying out. In a world where consumerism is king, and opportunities are few, will this uncensored artist find a way to sell his art, or be forced to sell himself out?After a rousing, standing ovation laden World premiere, comes word that director Pablo Bryant’s MR. FISH: CARTOONING FROM THE DEEP END has won the 2017 Hiscox Audience Award for Best documentary at at the Austin Film Festival. Director Pablo Bryant joins us for a lively conversation on free speech, our political culture, and the artistic sensibilities of today’s most scathing and insightful political satirist.
Across more than 50 years of essays, novels, screenplays, and criticism, Joan Didion has been our premier chronicler of the ebb and flow of America’s cultural and political tides with observations on her personal – and our own – upheavals, downturns, life changes, and states of mind. In the intimate, extraordinary documentary JOAN DIDION: THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD, actor and directorGriffin Dunne unearths a treasure trove of archival footage and talks at length to his “Aunt Joan” about the eras she covered and the eventful life she’s lived, including partying with Janis Joplin in a house full of L.A. rockers; hanging in a recording studio with Jim Morrison; and cooking dinner for one of Charles Manson’s women for a magazine story. Didion guides us through the sleek literati scene of New York in the 1950s and early ’60s, when she wrote for Vogue; her return to her home state of California for two turbulent decades; the writing of her seminal books, including Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Play It as It Lays, A Book of Common Prayer, and The White Album; her film scripts, including The Panic in Needle Park; her view of 1980s and ’90s political personalities; and the meeting of minds that was her long marriage to writer John Gregory Dunne. She reflects on writing about her reckoning with grief after Dunne’s death, in The Year of Magical Thinking (winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction), and the death of their daughter Quintana Roo, in Blue Nights. With commentary from friends and collaborators including Vanessa Redgrave, Harrison Ford, Anna Wintour, David Hare, Calvin Trillin, Hilton Als, and Susanna Moore, the most crucial voice belongs to Didion, one of the most influential American writers alive today. Director Griffin Dunne (American Werewolf in London, After Hours) joins us for a conversation on “Aunt Joan” and her fiercely personal body of remarkable body of fiction and non-fiction.
“Access is almost everything for a documentary filmmaker, and the entree Griffin Dunne had to his celebrated subject makes all the difference in “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“A documentary that’s incisive and haunting, like Didion’s best writing.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“This is an intensive appreciation of perhaps the greatest living American essayist, and one of the best ever. It plays like a finely tuned authorized biography.” – Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News
International Documentary Association (IDA) is fiercely committed to protecting and defending the rights of documentary filmmakers to practice their craft, seek and reveal truth in their films, and make and sell their work freely in a fair marketplace. We strenuously uphold the principles of free speech and believe that documentary films, however provocative they may be, should never be silenced by an authority, corporation or legal system that may feel threatened by their content. Where filmmakers are under fire, and their predicament stands to set precedent for us all, the IDA brings together the weight of our community to fight for their rights in the courts, the press, congress or wherever that threat may lie. IDA is the only group advocating specifically for the documentary filmmaking community. In many ways, this makes IDA’s advocacy work the most important and relevant work we do. If documentary films better inform your world, if you believe in freedom of speech, if you are concerned that the media space grows ever smaller and cherish the diversity that independent voices bring, and if you’re a fan of David (over Goliath) then you probably share our values. Documentary storytelling expands our understanding of shared human experience, fostering an informed, compassionate, and connected world. The International Documentary Association (IDA) is dedicated to building and serving the needs of a thriving documentary culture. Through its programs, the IDA provides resources, creates community, and defends rights and freedoms for documentary artists, activists, and journalists. Executive Director Simon Kilmurry joins us to talk about IDA, the screening series currently underway and the state of documentary filmmaking in 2017.
GKIDS, the acclaimed producer and distributor of animation for adult and family audiences, Annecy International Animation Film Festival, the world’s leading animation Festival and Market, and Variety magazine, have announced the launch of ANIMATON IS FILM, an annual animation film festival in Los Angeles. The first edition will run October 20-22 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theater in Hollywood (Mann’s Chinese Theater) with a showcase of 20 programs including feature films in competition, special presentations, retrospectives and short film programs. ANIMATION IS FILM aims to fill a gap in the US market by establishing a world class animation festival on par with the major events in Europe and Asia – and locating it in the world capital of animated filmmaking. The Festival will be a vocal advocatein the heart of Hollywood, for excellence in animation, and for filmmakers who push the boundaries of their art to the fullest range of expression that the medium is capable of. GKIDS and Animation is Film founder Eric Beckmanstops by to talk about his love of animation and the endless possibilities for enriching and entertaining filmmaking contained in it.
DINA, an outspoken and eccentric 49-year-old in suburban Philadelphia, invites her fiancé Scott, a Walmart door greeter, to move in with her. Having grown up neurologically diverse in a world blind to the value of their experience, the two are head-over-heels for one another, but shacking up poses a new challenge. Getting married in a few weeks and there’s still so much to do. She has to move her boyfriend, Scott, from his parents’ house to her apartment, and settle him in to only the second home he’s ever had, all while juggling his schedule as an early morning Walmart door greeter. She has to get her dress, confirm arrangements with the venue, and make peace with her family, who remain nervous for their beloved DINA, after the death of her first husband and the string of troubled relationships that followed. Throughout it all, in the face of obstacles large and small, DINA, remains indomitable. She’s overcome tragedy and found the man she wants and is bent on building the life for herself that she believes she deserves. DINA captures the cadences and candid conversations of a relationship that reexamines the notion of love on-screen.DINA is unstoppable, a force of nature, and as the star of her own life story, she’s an unconventional movie protagonist the likes of which hasn’t been seen before. Co-directors Antonio Santini and Dan Sickle join us to talk about their empathetic, moving and enveloping documentary.
**Winner – Grand Jury Prize – US Documentary – 2017 Sundance Film Festival
“DINA comes from a deep place of love…Alternately comic and tragic and best when its both at once, DINA humanizes a world of people who were only dehumanized because we allowed them to be… Whereas most docs about ‘different’ people are content to flatter our empathy, DINA aims to deepen it.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“We come to understand that the camera’s distance from its subjects as an act of respect that allows the complex, funny, and indomitable personalities to shine through.” – Christopher Gray, Slant Magazine
“A sensitive snapshot of two ordinary people on the autism spectrum who are determined to carve out a meaningful future together.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
“The rapport between the filmmakers and their principal characters is so comfortable, it occasionally feels as if we are watching a scripted film.” – Peter DeBruge, Variety
This observational documentary follows a year in the lives of two inspirational teachers at Headfort, the only primary-age boarding school in Ireland. Housed in an 18th century estate, school life embraces tradition and modernity. For John, rock music is just another subject alongside Maths, Scripture and Latin, taught in a collaborative and often hilarious fashion. For his wife Amanda, the key to connecting with children is the book, and she uses all means to snare the young minds. For nearly half a century these two have shaped thousands of minds, but now the unthinkable looms: what would retirement mean? What will keep them young if they leave? Co-directors David Rane and Neasa Ni Chiandain stop by to talk about gaining the trust of a remarkably dedicated couple who have given their lives to the students and a way of life at Headfort and the joy of documenting an academic culture that celebrates and elevates young minds.
Opens in Los Angeles on Friday, September 15 at the Laemmle Monica Film Center
“‘School Life’ is as charming, intimate and warm-hearted an observational documentary as you’d ever want to see.”– Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“The filmmakers demonstrate mastery of documentary style by achieving an extraordinary level of on-camera comfort with their subjects, intimate access where everyone seems unaware they are being filmed.” – Bradley Gibson, Film Threat
“It’s the kind of school that could never exist in today’s America: It’s too freewheeling, too unstructured. Maybe it won’t exist in Ireland much longer either, so it’s a good thing that School Life manages to capture its weird, wonderful world.” – Josh Modell, AV Club
“A celebration of the importance of teachers and putting faith into the next generation of kids, School Life is quite the pleasing little documentary.” – Alex Lines, Film Inquiry
Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza)is an unhinged social media stalker with a history of confusing “likes” for meaningful relationships. Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) is an Instagram-famous “influencer” whose perfectly curated, boho-chic lifestyle becomes Ingrid’s latest obsession. When Ingrid moves to LA and manages to insinuate herself into the social media star’s life, their relationship quickly goes from #BFF to #WTF. Built around a brilliantly disarming performance from Aubrey Plaza, Ingrid Goes West (winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance) is a savagely hilarious dark comedy that satirizes the modern world of social media and proves that being #perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Director Matt Spicer joins us to talk about his scalpel sharp tale about celebrity and validation.
“Plaza shines here in her most multifaceted role to date, fearless in her willingness to take Ingrid to cringe-worthy depths with a chameleonic precision.” – Jen Yamato, Los Angeles Times
“Shiny pop satire with a humming undercurrent of existential dread, Ingrid Goes West is a clever, corrosive little trick of a movie, a neon candy heart dipped in asbestos.” – Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
“Matt Spicer’s social media satire is a bonbon spiked with wit and malice. Plaza and Olsen, both toxic perfection, show us a nightmare world of Insta-obsessives that’s all too recognizable as our own.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“It is entertaining, and often touching, even if it pulls back right when it should be going totally nuts.” – Bilge Emir, Village Voice
For over a thousand years, Tibetan Buddhist psychology has taught techniques for overcoming negative, afflictive emotions, such as anger, greed, jealousy, sloth and ignorance. In the film THE LAST DALAI LAMA?, His Holiness explains that Tibetan Buddhism is both a religion and a “science of the mind”; he also shares his crystallized understanding of the nature of mind, and its part in the creation and alleviation of all of our suffering. Believing that this precious wisdom belongs to the world, twenty years ago The Dalai Lama challenged a select group of world-renowned Neuroscientists and Mind/Brain researchers to look into the workings of the mind, and to prove scientifically that “Tibetan Buddhist technologies” for overcoming afflictive emotions are skills that can be learned by anyone. The Dalai Lama commissioned Dr. Paul Ekman and his daughter Dr. Eve Ekman to come up with an “Atlas of Emotions” as a way of understanding the effects of emotions on having a tranquil mind. Being able to recognize the patterns, triggers and responses to emotions is the first step in dealing with them. In a moving sequence with a high school class in British Columbia, His Holiness The Dalai Lama is able to share his passion for the subject. His urgency and dedication come through in THE LAST DALAI LAMA? as he now turns 82, and must deal with the questions of aging and death, and whether he will reincarnate as The Dalai Lama, or if he will be the last of the lineage that has existed for a millennia. Director Mickey Lemle joins us to talk about his three decade friendship with His Holiness and the profound impact he has had on politics, culture and a deeper understanding of our shared human nature.
Join Director Mickey Lemle for a Q & A following the Friday, Saturday and Sunday 7:30pm screenings
“You want the chance to bask in his presence and come out with a heightened sense of what he’s about. “The Last Dalai Lama?” accomplishes that, and with an offhand eloquence, though it’s a sketchy, catch-as-catch-can movie …” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“A surplus of wisdom and benevolence radiates from “The Last Dalai Lama?”’ – Helen T. Verongos, New York Times
“The more an audience member sees the beauty left in the Buddhist leader’s wake, the more it become clear that his influence has the power to continue generations beyond his passing.” – Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle
When high school senior Matt (Thomas Mann) meets fellow outcast Jill (Lily Mae Harrington), he falls more in love than he thought possible. However, after graduation comes and Jill moves cross-country to go to college, she loses more than 50 pounds and changes her appearance entirely – much to Matt’s surprise when he arrives to visit her six months later. While Matt struggles to accept Jill’s new choices, Jill begins to question whether Matt is really the man she wants to date. As the distance widens between them, the characters are propelled onto a collision course with brutality and loss, forcing them to confront who they are, who they were, and who everyone thinks they’re supposed to be. Also starring Ely Henry, Lachlan Buchanan, and this feature by writer-director Ian MacAllister-McDonald. McDonald joins us to talk about his touching, heartfelt feature film debut.
“All the actors are good, but Harrington is remarkable. It’s not just the physical changes in her character, but the genuineness with which she inhabits her”. – Billy Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic
“Playwright Ian MacAllister-McDonald’s debut feature is a refreshingly grounded, unsentimental yet empathetic slice of D-list teenage life that goes a bit overboard in its final act.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
“The characters are authentic and deeply felt.” – Bradley Gibson, Film Threat
“Brittle and beautifully-acted and cleverly written “find your tribe” high school romance.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
SWIM TEAM is a feature documentary chronicling the rise of a competitive swim team made up of diverse teens on the autism spectrum. Based in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the cast of SWIM TEAM is largely Latino and Asian, minorities that are underrepresented in competitive swimming and underserved in autism intervention and education. SWIM TEAM follows three of the team’s star athletes, boys on the cusp of adulthood as they face a future of exclusion and dependence. But everything changes when they come together as a team with parent coaches who train them with high expectations and zero pity. As the team vies for state and national Special Olympics championships, SWIM TEAM captures a moving quest for inclusion, independenceand a life that feels winning. Director Lara Stolman joins us for to talk about the struggles and triumphs of Mikey, Kelvin and Robbie and the people who love them.
“The breaststroking, freestyling young athletes in “Swim Team” couldn’t be more different in terms of personality, drive, appeal and, of course, developmental challenges, and it gives this film from Lara Stolman its particular character, heart and verve.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
“Swim Team is long enough to break and warm your heart in equal measure – which is about what you’d expect from a documentary about teenagers with autism who are training to compete in the Special Olympics.” – Ella Taylor, NPR
“This isn’t “just” a film about special needs. It’s about special kids – and the very special adults who advocate for them.” – Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger
“Well paced and well produced, Swim Team is engaging throughout and would be easy to enjoy as light viewing, but there’s more going on beneath the surface.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
Filmed in Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon’s signature whimsical style, LOST IN PARIS stars the filmmakers as a small-town Canadian librarian and a strangely seductive, oddly egotistical vagabond. When Fiona’s (Gordon) orderly life is disrupted by a letter of distress from her 88-year-old Aunt Martha (delightfully portrayed by Oscar nominee Emmanuelle Riva) who is living in Paris, Fiona hops on the first plane she can and arrives only to discover that Martha has disappeared. In an avalanche of spectacular disasters, she encounters Dom (Abel), the affable, but annoying tramp who just won’t leave her alone. Replete with the amazing antics and intricately choreographed slapstick that has come to define Abel and Gordon’s work, LOST IN PARIS is a wondrously fun and hectic tale of peculiar people finding love while lost in the City of Lights. Co-directors Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon join us to talk about their warmhearted, funny and embracing ode to love.
“Gordon and Abel incorporate elements of lighthearted musicals and silent-film comedy (a scene atop the Eiffel Tower evokes the derring-do of Harold Lloyd) and provide themselves plenty of opportunities to stretch their pliant, wiry physicality.” – Serena Donadoni, Village Voice
“An exquisite miniature puzzle-box pop-up-book of a movie. All is color and light and exhilaration here, a fantastical lark that is sheer mischievous joy.” – MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Philospher
“Cruel comic mishaps may be this movie’s raison d’être, but they are softened at every turn by the gentle humanity of the city’s inhabitants, and by the unspoken sense that everything will turn out fine in the end.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“Rather than reinventing the wheel, Abel and Gordon keep turning it with their own intimate touch.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire
“Always inventive and occasionally hilarious.” – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter
An idealistic recent film school graduate with few local professional options takes a road trip from Ohio to Los Angeles with his anxious best friend, his troubled high school sweetheart, and a hitchhiker hippie, to chase his dream of becoming a filmmaker. Your Own Roadis about not letting extenuating circumstances determine your path in life. Brian (ASHTON MOIO)wants to make films but whether it’s his parents’ wishes, his geographical location, or just his self-doubt, the world seems stacked against him. Brian hits the road to break away from what is expected of him and pursue what he truly wants out of life. Along for the ride is his best friend Dan (AMIR MALAKLOU) whose whole life is structure and routine until his abusive ex-girlfriend dumps him and his plans go out the window. Brian also “accidently” invites his next-door-neighbor and hormer crush, Ally (CORTNEY PALM), who abuses prescription drugs to deal with her depression from caring for her grandmother with Alzheimer’s. Along the road they meet vibrant characters none more so than Ariel (KYM JACKSON), an Australian hitchhiker hippie who is not all that she seems, who they pick up in Colorado going in no place in particular. Each one of these characters takes the journey to California for unique reasons but they all find their inner selves traveling through such a diverse and sometimes scary country. Director and writer Brandon Buczek joins us to talk about his debut film world premiere at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival.