Director D.W. Thomas’, Too Late, cozy horror comedy set in the Los Angeles indie comedy scene features Violet Fields who works a thankless job as the assistant to Bob Devore, famed comedian and host of the live variety show,Too Late. But what only Violet knows is that Bob is a monster both literally and figuratively. Resigned to her fate, Violet is caught by surprise when she meets aspiring comedian Jimmy Rhodes and sparks fly. But as her feelings for Jimmy grow and Bob starts to doubt her loyalty, she and Jimmy could end up as Bob’s next meal.TOO LATE is the debut feature film from director D.W. Thomas and writer Tom Becker. It stars Alyssa Limperis (Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun), Ron Lynch (Bob’s Burgers, Adventure Time), Will Weldon (Comedy Central’s This Isn’t Happening), Mary Lynn Rajskub (24, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Fred Armisen (SNL, Portlandia), Jenny Zigrino (Bad Santa 2, 50 Shades of Black), Jack De Sena (Avatar: The Last Airbender), and Brooks Wheelan (SNL). Director and writer D.W. Thomas joins us for a spirited conversation on comedy, fame, Hungarian Cultural Centers, Stand up, and a well-balanced diet.
Gravitas Ventures will release TOO LATE in select theaters and on digital platforms including iTunes, Google Play, Fandango Now and all major cable/satellite platforms on June 25.
About the filmmaker – D.W. Thomas is a feature film director. She had her start editing films for indie production company, Cineville International known for Mi Vida Loca, Gas Food Lodging and Swimming with Sharks. She has produced and edited behind-the-scenes segments for studios including NBC, Disney, Marvel, and Pixar. Her feature film directorial debut Too Late will be premiering June 25th in theaters and on demand. For more go to: firemarkmedia.com
“’Too Late’ can be taken as a show business metaphor. Throughout we see that only the strong and ruthless survive and succeed, with Devore himself being a symbol of star power gobbling up the competition.” – Bob BloomJournal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
SWEET THING, centers on Billie (Lana Rockwell, Little Feet), a 15-year-old girl who fantasizes Billie Holiday as a sort of fairy godmother. Billie has to navigate the evolving challenges of her life while she plays mother to her 11-year-old brother, Nico. They meet up with another adolescent, run away from home, and together roam the area free from their parents’ watchful eye. They discover freedom and enchantment among New Bedford’s boats and railway tracks. They fantasize about a life of luxury when they break into a posh home, and are able to carry the taste of affluence into their adventures. SWEET THING celebrates their ability to make poetry and a joyful life out of hardship. The children come to represent a hope in our own resilience, as the film is an ode to that trying age when young people prepare to take their first step into adulthood. The story is an intense but ultimately uplifting, poetic rendering of childhood that captures the essence of that time in life when a day can last forever. SWEET THING, stars Rockwell’s children Lana and Nico, Karyn Parsons and Will Patton, Director and writer Alexandre Rockwell (In the Soup, Louis & Frank, 13 Moons) joins us for a conversation on his working with a superb cast that includes Lana and Nico Rockwell, Karyn Parsons and Will Patton, re-discovering a love for instinctive filmmaking and his embrace of storytelling that celebrates fearless youth, friendships, and family.
SWEET THING winner of the Berlinale Crystal Bear in the Generation K-plus section in 2020.
About the filmmaker – Rockwell managed to establish himself by the early 1980s. He already had several short films under his belt and his work was shown at Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art and New York City’s Association of Independent Video and Film. This led to him landing his first feature film, Lenz which was shown at the 1982 Berlin Film Festival and enjoyed success. Rockwell followed up with the release of Hero, which won a Special Jury Prize at the 1984 Sundance Film Festival. In 1986, he married Yale graduate and Flashdance star Jennifer Beals. He didn’t make any films until Sons. Praise rained on Rockwell at The Sundance Film Festival when he released In the Soup. The movie featured Steve Buscemi, Seymour Cassel and Jennifer Beals. Rockwell’s next film Somebody to Love was less successful, though the omnibus movie Four Rooms was popular, in which Rockwell directed the segment “The Wrong Man”. Rockwell’s marriage to Beals ended in 1996 but they remained close friends. Unfortunately, Rockwell’s next offering, Louis & Frank, reprising two minor characters from In The Soup, flopped with audiences. Rockwell hit his stride again with the release of the successful 13 Moons, a comedy which featured a strong ensemble cast including Steve Buscemi and Karyn Parsons. Rockwell later married Parsons (best known for her work as “Hilary Banks” on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) on Valentine’s Day, 2003. After Pete Smalls Is Dead, he made the critically acclaimed Little Feet, starring his two young children, son Nico and daughter Lana, which was entirely funded by a Kickstarter campaign. With this feature, Rockwell continued the form that made him an iconoclast of the independent New York film movement of the nineties. After a break of 7 years, he returned to filmmaking with Sweet Thing, starring his wife Karyn and their two kids, winning the Crystal Bear award at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival.
“A lively, bittersweet meditation on an impoverished childhood that is still rich in innocence and imagination…. With verve and vitality it pays a dreamy-eyed retrospective debt to films past, and largely due to the beguiling performance from Rockwell’s own daughter Lana, ultimately delivers a moving, tousled journey of discovery….” – Jessica Kiang, Variety
“Rockwell’s film about specific heartbreaking circumstances is accessibly potent in its portrayal of childhood and memory. He taps into the experience of complex emotions – fear mixed with hope, love entangled with heartbreak, and childhood prematurely ripped away – in ways that exemplify the unique potential of cinema.” – Mary-Catherine Harvey, The Upcoming
“Gorgeous… stunningly rendered….this is a film that deserves to be seen – Stephen Silver, Goomba Stomp
“The windswept, wild-maned ‘Sweet Thing’ boasts beautiful performances and a definite throwback charm.” – VARIETY
“The first paces of ‘Sweet Thing’ feel as they are taken from Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Kid’. By iris-in, iris-out, long shot cuts into close-ups, the director Alexander Rockwell conveys a really fresh and intimate nostalgia.” – FILMFESTIVALS
“Sweet Thing is also stunningly rendered. All three kid actors are incredibly talented, and the film makes very strong use of music, which includes multiple examples of Lana Rockwell’s fine singing.” – Goomba Stomp
The DREAM HORSE tells the inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely race horse bred by small town Welsh bartender, Jan Vokes (Academy Award® nominee Toni Collette). With very little money and no experience, Jan convinces her neighbors to chip in their meager earnings to help raise Dream Alliance in the hopes he can compete with the racing elites. The group’s investment pays off as Dream rises through the ranks with grit and determination and goes on to race in the Welsh Grand National showing the heart of a true champion. Director Euros Lyn joins us for a conversation on the attraction that horses and horse racing’s has for filmmakers and film lovers, the superb cast of outstanding performances led by Toni Collette and Damian Lewis and the importance of establishing an upbeat and winning vibes that imbues every frame of DREAM HORSE.
About the filmmaker – Euros Lyn studied drama at Manchester University and worked as an assistant director before directing the multi-BAFTA winning rebooted Doctor Who, including the Hugo award winning The Girl In The Fireplace. He has won BAFTA Cymru Best Director several times, most recently for Kiri with Sarah Lancashire. Euros directed Fifteen Million Merits, part of the Black Mirror anthology for C4 which won an International Emmy for Best Drama Series. He directed three episodes of the opening season of Broadchurch, two seasons of Last Tango in Halifax, the pilot episode of Happy Valley and the single drama Damilola, Our Loved Boy, all four shows winning BAFTA awards. In 2015 he was the recipient of Bafta Cymru’s Sian Phillips award. The Library Suicides, a Welsh language thriller for BFI/ Film Cymru Wales/S4C/BBC Films/ Soda Pictures was released in theatres in August 2016. He directed an episode of His Dark Materials for BBC/HBO and Dream Horse, a feature film starring Toni Collette, Damian Lewis and Owen Teale for Film4/Warner Bros/Bleecker Street premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and is slated for theatrical release in 2021. He is currently working on an adaptation of Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper for Netflix/SeeSaw. For more go to: euroslyn.com
“Dream Horse’s careful navigation of the predictable is undoubtedly helped by its top-drawer cast and sparky dialogue, but it also does well at building tension throughout key race scenes.” – Tori Brazier, One Room With A View
“Like horseracing, filmmaking is a high-risk gamblers’ game, but the team behind Dream Horse, the resulting dramatization of the Vokes’ story, have surely bred a winner with this endearing, determinedly crowd-pleasing adaptation.” – Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter
Emily @ the Edge of Chaos interweaves Emily Levine’s live performance with animation, appearances by scientists, and animated characters (John Lithgow as Sir Isaac Newton, Lily Tomlin as Ayn Rand, Leonard Nimoy as Sigmund Freud, Richard Lewis as Aristotle, Matt Groening as Aldo Leopold). Emily @ the Edge of Chaos uses physics, which explains how the universe works, to explain our metaphysics – the story of our values, our institutions, our interactions. Using her own experience and a custom blend of insight and humor, provocation and inspiration, personal story and social commentary, Emily takes her audience through its own paradigm shift: from the Fear of Change to the EDGE OF CHAOS!Emily Levine, like her film, was one-of-a-kind. She was a television writer and producer (Designing Women, Love & War and Dangerous Minds), a stand-up performer, and an out-of-the box-thinker, whose brilliant TED Talks have been watched by millions. She made this film with Wendy Apple, who produced and directed it.Wendy died in 2017 and Emily continued working on the film until she also passed away in 2019. Executive Producer Thea Kerman joins us to talk about how her friend and colleague, Emily Levine, poured her heart and should into making this film before cancer took her, and how the unexpected death of the director Wendy Apple played into Thea stepping in to guide the film to completion and distribution.
About Emily Levine – Emily graduated cum laude from Harvard, intent on pursuing a career as an Oracle. Unable to find a good Oracle agent, she settled for a career as a stand-up comedian, headlining in comedy clubs and making television appearances on shows such as David Letterman’s Late Night. The LA Times called her “a stand-out as a stand-up.” Newsweek called her “one of the new queens of comedy.” Her mother called her every week. Later, as a television writer and producer, Emily worked on shows such as Designing Women, Love and War and Dangerous Minds. She created and produced pilots for new situation comedies for CBS, NBC, ABC and HBO. In the 90’s, Emily’s career began to suffer as an undiagnosed tumor in her pituitary gland began to wreak havoc. Lacking an explanation for the weird array of symptoms, including brain fog, osteoarthritis, and a curious lack of interest in consumer-driven activity, she could only believe she was going crazy. The relief that accompanied the eventual diagnosis in 2007 – the fact that there was an actual real reason for her decline – led Emily to fall in love with fact-based reality, aka science. Her movie, “Emily @ the Edge of Chaos,” details this journey, using humor, animations, and guest stars to inspire the country with that same love of fact-based reality. Emily was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2018 and started a blog, “The Yoy of Dying,” that takes it all on. Emily died on February 3, 2019, but Emily’s daughter Abby continues working to release “Emily @ the Edge of Chaos.” You can subscribe to Emily’s Universe and continue to follow Emily’s accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to stay up-to-date. For more about Emily go to: emilysuniverse.com
About the filmmaker – Thea Kerman, Executive Producer, has over 30 years of experience as an entertainment lawyer. She has provided legal services for narrative films such as Donnie Brasco, The Fisher King, Hook, Hairspray, Warriors of Virtue, Bats and Black Dynamite, documentary films such as The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Film Editing and Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack and worked with clients and talent such as Akiro Kurasawa, Barry Levinson, Sidney Lumet, Bruce Willis, Richard Gere, Al Pacino, Whitney Houston and Kiss. Prior to establishing her own law firm in 1990 in Los Angeles, Ms. Kerman was the Senior Production Counsel for Tri-Star Pictures and served as General Counsel for the Marvel Comics Group.. She was a co-producer on Dukhtar, a U.S./Pakistani/Norwegian/Indian narrative co-production which had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and was the official Pakistani nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th annual Academy Awards. She was an executive producer of Doctors of the Dark Side, a feature length documentary, and co-producer of Yellow Rose, an American-Fillipino musical drama.
The latest caper / drama / comedy from director Paul Tanter STEALING CHAPLIN was inspired by a surreal plot that took place over 40 years ago. Two Las Vegas based con men decided to dig up and steal the corpse of the legendary silent-era comedian Charlie Chaplin in order to ransom it. The bizarre plot grabs the attention of the nation and sets in motion an escalating reward offer by the family. Before long every local lowlife, criminal and dirty cop is looking to cash in on the easy money. STEALING CHAPLIN is driven forward by a slew of quirky but captivating performances that includes the film’s co-writers Simon Phillips (Age of the Living Dead, No Easy Days), Doug Phillips (Not All Who Wander, Butchers) and producer Ken Bressers (The Nights Before Christmas, Not All Who Wander). The prolific British director Paul Tanter (The Nights Before Christmas, Dystopia, and Kill Ratio) joins us to talk about the inspiration for the film, finding the right tone for a multi-genre story and the lightning fast pace he and his crew worked at to make STEALING CHAPLIN.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. With more than two decades as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events such as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Big Screen Classics series in partnership with Fathom Events, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app. Fans can also enjoy a TCM curated classics experience on HBO Max.
TCM UNDERGROUND – Tune in every Friday night for TCM Underground, our late-night movie franchise that showcases the best of classic cult favorites and hard-to-find films, from experimental shorts to off-beat comedies. For more discussions around the wild, weird world of cult films and films shown on TCM Underground, check out our web series TCM Slumberground on YouTube!
TCM SLUMBERGROUND is the official monthly pre-show for TCM Underground, a late-night cult movie franchise that airs at 2:00 am EST on Friday nights on Turner Classic Movies. In each episode, TCM Underground programmer Millie De Chirico sits down with a panel of her fellow TCM employees to discuss the upcoming double feature and other cult movie topics.
Other Midnight Films at past TCM Classic Film Festivals include: Boom!, Duck Soup, Eraserhead, Freaks, Gog, Island of Lost Souls, Kentucky Fried Movie, Night of the Living Dead, Nothing Lasts Forever, Phase IV, Roar, Santo vs. The Evil Brain,The Bride of Frankenstein, The Day of the Triffids, The Mummy, The Student Nurses, The Tingler, The World’s Greatest Sinner and Zardoz.
In the late 1960s, in the aftermath of the Watts Uprising and against the backdrop of the continuing Civil Rights Movement and the escalating Vietnam War, a group of African and African-American students entered the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, as part of an Ethno-Communications initiative designed to be responsive to communities of color (also including Asian, Chicano and Native American communities). Now referred to as the “L.A. Rebellion,” these mostly unheralded artists created a unique cinematic landscape, as—over the course of two decades—students arrived, mentored one another and passed the torch to the next group. Beyond the films themselves, what makes the L.A. Rebellion movement a discovery worthy of a place in film history is the vitality of its filmmakers, their utopian vision of a better society, their sensitivity to children and gender issues, their willingness to question any and all received wisdom, their identification with the liberation movements in the Third World, and their expression of Black pride and dignity. As part of the 2021 TCM (Turner Classic Movies) Film Festival is spotlighting two of the L.A. Rebellion’s leading lights, Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry in the festival’s Special Collections section. Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry join us for a conversation on their recollections the birth of the L.A. Rebellion and the inspiration for their life altering decision to become filmmakers.
About the filmmaker – Charles Burnett is a writer-director whose work has received extensive honors. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, his family soon moved to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Burnett studied creative writing at UCLA before entering the University’s graduate film program. His thesis project, Killer of Sheep (1977), won accolades at film festivals and a critical devotion; in 1990, it was among the first titles named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. European financing allowed Burnett to shoot his second feature, My Brother’s Wedding (1983), but a rushed debut prevented the filmmaker from completing his final cut until 2007. In 1988, Burnett was awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur (“genius grant”) Fellowship and shortly thereafter Burnett became the first African American recipient of the National Society of Film Critics’ best screenplay award, for To Sleep withAnger (1990). Burnett made the highly acclaimed “Nightjohn” in 1996 for the Disney Channel; his subsequent television works include “Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding” (1998), “Selma, Lord, Selma” (1999), an episode of the seven-part series “Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues” (2003) and “Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property” (2003), which was shown on the PBS series “Independent Lens.” Burnett has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the J. P. Getty Foundation. In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art showcased his work with a month-long retrospective.
To Sleep with Anger – Writer and Director Charles Burnett – A slow-burning masterwork of the early 1990s, this third feature by Charles Burnett is a singular piece of American mythmaking. In a towering performance, Danny Glover plays the enigmatic southern drifter Harry, a devilish charmer who turns up out of the blue on the South Central Los Angeles doorstep of his old friends. In short order, Harry’s presence seems to cast a chaotic spell on what appeared to be a peaceful household, exposing smoldering tensions between parents and children, tradition and change, virtue and temptation. Interweaving evocative strains of gospel and blues with rich, poetic-realist images, To Sleep with Anger is a sublimely stirring film from an autonomous artistic sensibility, a portrait of family resilience steeped in the traditions of African American mysticism and folklore.
About the filmmaker – Billy Woodberry Born in Dallas in 1950, Billy Woodberry is one of the founders of the L.A. Rebellion film movement. His first feature film Bless Their Little Hearts (1983) is a pioneer and essential work of this movement, influenced by Italian neo-realism and the work of Third Cinema filmmakers. The film was awarded with an OCIC and Interfilm awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2013. His latest feature film And when I die, I won’t stay dead (2015) about the beat poet Bob Kaufman was the opening film of MoMA’s Doc Fortnight in 2016. Woodberry has appeared in Charles Burnett’s “When It Rains” (1995) and provided narration for Thom Andersen’s Red HOLLYWOOD” (1996) and James Benning’s “Four Corners”(1998). His work has been screened at Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Harvard Film Archive, Camera Austria Symposium, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Tate Modern and Centre Pompidou. He received his MFA degree from UCLA in 1982 where he also taught at the School of Theater, Film and Television. Since 1989 Billy Woodberry is a faculty member of the School of Film/Video and the School of Art at the California Institute of the Arts.
Bless Their Little Hearts – Director / Producer / Editor Billy Woodberry – A key masterpiece of the L.A Rebellion, Bless Their Little Hearts distills the social concerns and aesthetics of that trailblazing movement in African American cinema. Billy Woodberry’s film showcases his attentive eye, sensitivity to the nuances of community and family, and the power of the blues. Searching for steady work, Charlie Banks (Nate Hardman) views his chronic unemployment as a kind of spiritual trial. But day work and selling a few catfish can’t sustain a family of five. While his wife, Andais (Kaycee Moore), works to support them with dignity, Charlie finds comfort for his wounded sense of manhood in an affair that threatens his marriage and family.At the heart of this devastatingly beautiful film is the couple’s agonizing confrontation – shot in one continuous ten-minute take – that ranks as “one of the great domestic cataclysms of modern movies.” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker) Named to the National Film Registry, Bless Their Little Hearts features contributions by two iconic American artists: Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep, To Sleep With Anger), who wrote and shot the film, and Kaycee Moore (Daughters of the Dust), whose powerful performance as Andais Banks remains a revelation. Film restoration by Ross Lipman with Billy Woodberry at UCLA Film & Television Archive. 2K Digital restoration by Re-Kino, Warsaw. English captions and Spanish subtitles.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM)is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. With more than two decades as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events such as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Big Screen Classics series in partnership with Fathom Events, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app. Fans can also enjoy a TCM curated classics experience on HBO Max.
STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET takes audiences inside the minds and hearts of the “Sesame Street” creators, artists, writers, and educators who together established one of the most influential and enduring children’s programs in television history. Inspired by the activism of the late 1960s, socially conscious television executive Joan Ganz Cooney and Sesame Workshop co-founder Lloyd Morrisett conducted a revolutionary experiment: to harness the burgeoning power of television and create an educational, impactful, uplifting and entertaining show that could reach children nationwide, especially those living in urban areas. Cooney recruited trailblazing Muppets creator Jim Henson and acclaimed children’s television writer and director Jon Stone to craft the iconic and beloved world of “Sesame Street.”STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET reintroduces this visionary “gang” of mission-driven artists, writers, and educators that audaciously interpreted radical changes in society and created one of most impactful television programs in history. With more than 20 interviews with original writers, cast, and crew, and never-before-seen behind the scenes footage, STREET GANG is told from the inside with humor and emotion, weaving together personal narratives and eyewitness accounts. The film explores the original mission of the “gang” that created this cultural phenomenon, now spanning 50-plus years and reaching more than 150 countries. Director Marilyn Agrelo joins us to talk about the enduring legacy of SESAME STREET as well as the beautifully disruptive and groundbreaking approach to connecting with children and in doing so made them into collaborators and the beneficiaries of this illuminating enterprise.
“Street Gang is a wonderful documentary that would play extraordinarily well whenever it was released, but in this present moment? It feels positively miraculous; a much-needed happy-sad warm blanket indeed.” – Shaun Munro, Flickering Myth
“It’s hard to ask for much more than a doc that captures creatives thoughtfully sneaking the civil revolution as well as basic education into children’s TV and includes a Muppets blooper reel.” – Chris Willman, Variety
“It’s genuinely, enormously inspirational to watch this ragtag band of beatniks and beardos turning sinister Madison Avenue techniques into instruments of learning.” – Sean Burns, Spliced Personality
“Carries tremendous power as an emotional reminder of such a triumphant run, also working beautifully as a reunion with old faces and as an introduction to key behind-the-scenes figures helping to bring inclusion to the masses.” – Brian Orndorf, BrianOrndorf.com
“Street Gang is a loving, emotional tribute to a global brand that tackled racism, education and more with puppets, music through a street that everyone wanted to live on – Sesame Street…” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic
PARIS CALLIGRAMMES is an epic self-portrait of Ulrike Ottinger, one of Germany’s most prominent contemporary avant-garde artists, known for her paintings, photographs, and, above all, her films. An impressive and extensive archive of sensorial memories, historical photographs, and documentary footage traces the early influences of Ottinger’s life in Paris in the 1960s. This was a time marked by her integration into the rich intellectual and cultural circles of the city, but also engagement in the political and social eruptions around the Algerian War and May 1968. These varied dimensions of her experience make PARIS CALLIGRAMMES an essential historical time capsule, beautifully interwoven with the most precious of memories and images. In a rich torrent of archival audio and visuals, paired with extracts from her own artworks and films, Ottinger resurrects the old Saint-Germaindes-Prés and Latin Quarter, with their literary cafés and jazz clubs, and revisits encounters with Jewish exiles, life with her artistic community, the world views of Parisian ethnologists and philosophers, the political upheavals of the Algerian War and May 1968, and the legacy of the colonial era. Director Ulrike Ottinger (Seven Women, Seven Sins, Ticket of No Return, Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia) joins us for a conversation on her life as young painter in Paris in the 1960s, and her personal memories of Parisian bohemianism and the serious social, political and cultural upheavals of the time into a cinematic “figure poem” (calligram) in “Paris Calligrammes”.
“In Paris Calligrammes, the artist Ulrike Ottinger casts a highly personal and subjective gaze back to the twentieth century. At the heart of her film is Paris: its protagonist is the city itself, its streets, neighborhoods, bookstores, cinemas, but also its artists, authors, and intellectuals. It is a place of magical appeal, an artistic biotope, but also a place where the demons of the twentieth century still confront us.” – Bernd Scherer
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“One of the great works of first-person cinema. Ottinger’s personal and political masterwork. Extraordinary; a work of vital and energetic modernism.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“Enriching, stimulating; vital and contradictory. Captures the zeitgeist as experienced by a young woman eager to soak up the cultural riches around her, which she then distilled through her own sensibility to create paintings reflecting the era’s upheavals.” – Jay Weissberg, Variety
“Never a dull moment; the work of a consummate artist who understands the importance of the form matching the story.” – Kaleem Aftab, Cineuropa
“Her cinema is restless, Odyssean: full of stories of exile and adventure. [‘Paris Calligrammes’ is] an homage to the intellectual and artistic life of the city in the 1960s.” – Amy Sherlock, Frieze Magazine
Set in Los Angeles in 1998, PINK SKIES AHEAD follows Winona (Jessica Barden) who, after dropping out of college and moving back home to live with her parents, is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Skeptical of her doctor’s opinion — she hasn’t had a panic attack after all —Winona carries on with her wild lifestyle. Only when things begin to truly unravel around her, does she reluctantly decide to see a therapist and face her truths. PINK SKIES AHEAD showcases mental health issues in a nuanced and authentic way and is a featured part of MTV’s newly-launched Mental Health is Healthinitiative. PINK SKIES AHEADis Director Kelly Oxford’s feature-length directorial debut and is based on “No Real Danger,” an essay from her second book, “When You Find Out the World Is Against You.” PINK SKIES AHEAD stars Jessica Barden (End of the F***ing World, The New Romantic), Mary J. Blige (The Umbrella Academy), Devon Bostick (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River, Pollock), Michael McKean (Better Call Saul, This Is Spinal Tap), Lewis Pullman (Bad Times at the El Royale), Evan Ross Cameron (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Odeya Rush (Goosebumps, Lady Bird), Rosa Salazar (Alita: Battle Angel) and Henry Winkler (Barry). Writer and Director Kelly Oxford joins us for a lively conversation on making the jump from novelist / essayist to filmmaker and the role that media and storytelling can play in addressing our nation’s persistent and growing mental health challenges.
PINK SKIES AHEAD, written and directed by New York Times best-selling author Kelly Oxford, will premiere, commercial-free broadcast on Saturday, May 8 at 9:00PM ET/PT on MTV with a simulcast on Pop TV.
Director’s Statement – Pink Skies Ahead is loosely based on events that occurred when I was nineteen years old. It is a manifestation and reckoning with my own anxiety struggles. Purely out of self-protection, I’ve spent my life creating a firmly independent exterior surface that does not reflect my inner turmoil or compulsive and obsessive worried thoughts. As a forty-two-year-old woman, I’m still grappling with shame and denial of my own inner workings as an anxious person. The catharsis of writing and directing Pink Skies Ahead was a huge step in accepting myself. And I hope our film helps others feel less shame in their “not normal” feelings than I did. – Kelly Oxford
Books by Kelly Oxford
Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar
When You Find Out the World is Against You: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments
“The catchy title’s a clever way of saying “It gets better,” and in the end, that feels as true for Winona as it does for the high-potential writer-director who created her.”– Peter Debruge, Variety
“Kelly Oxford’s comedically-tinged fictionalized drama paints a staggeringly honest, raw and revelatory portrait that makes for an assured debut directorial feature.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction
“Pink Skies Ahead makes some major strides toward destigmatizing mental health disorders and therapeutic treatment, thanks to Oxford’s empathetic approach and the way she normalizes these experiences through the eyes of her protagonist.” – Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review
“The heartfelt, autobiographical elements in writer-director Kelly Oxford’s storytelling, coupled with an appealing and empathetic performance by Jessica Barden… provide a real understanding of mental health that so often escapes films and TV shows.” – Alonso Duralde, TheWrap
OLYMPIA is a sublimely intimate fly-on-the-wall verité documentary that tells a poignant story of a woman finding her own voice on her own terms to assert a gigantic creative force into the world. Rebelling against her suspicious Greek mother to assert her strong sexual drive, fighting the feeling she was “too ethnic” in Boston, and starting her own theatre company in New Jersey instead of waiting for the phone to ring, Olympia Dukakis models how to live life with blazing courage. Throughout an engrossing story that seamlessly blends past and present, she opens her heart and exposes her truest self to Harry Mavromichalis’ unobtrusive camera. The raw honesty with which Olympia leads us into the core of herself is what makes this film luminary. As fellow actors with whom she has shared the limelight Laura Linney, Diane Ladd, Whoopi Goldberg, and Armistead Maupin all testify, Olympia is “totally open and crazy”, which is what turns out to be the marker of her absolute sanity. OLYMPIA’s intimate portrait of a working class professional, a scholar actor of intuitive power, and a woman beloved around the world, culminates on the steps of the Dukakis’ humble ancestral home in Lesbos, Greece. Through her brutal honesty and sincerity, Olympia compels us to confront our own shortcomings and differences by letting go, and move forward with defiant conviction. Director Harry Mavromichalis takes a page from the Albert Maysles’ school of fly-on-the-wall verité documentary storytelling leaving the viewer with an appreciation of an artist becoming her own woman, on her own terms, primed to share her creative insights with the world.
About the filmmaker – Producer and Director Harry Mavromichalis – OLYMPIA is Harry Mavromichalis’ directorial feature documentary debut and he is currently in post-production for “Yankee Restraint”; a character driven piece that examines the intricacies of a gay relationship spanning decades and tackles issues of love and resentment. After a long career as a modern dancer with his own dance company in New York, he pursued a Masters in Film Directing from New York University. He wrote, directed and produced multiple short films, music videos and commercials. Curator of the inaugural LGBTQ Film Festival, Harry was a key organizer of the historic first-ever Pride Parade in Cyprus which attracted over 4,000 attendees.
About Olympia Dukakis – Born June 20, 1931 in Lowell, Massachusetts, the daughter of Greek immigrants, Dukakis earned two degrees from Boston University and worked as a physical therapist while pursuing a stage career. Olympia Dukakis won an Academy Award for her performance in Moonstruck, a role that also earned her a Golden Globe Award, American Comedy Award, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has appeared in more than 60 feature and short films, including Steel Magnolias, Cloudburst, Dad, Mr. Holland’s Opus, Working Girl, Look Who’s Talking I, II & III, Mighty Aphrodite, Jeffrey, Away From Her, among many others. Her television include : Big Driver, Sex & Violence, Forgive Me, Bored to Death, Last of the Blond Bombshells, Sinatra (Golden Globe Nominee), Joan of Arc (Emmy Nominee), Tales of the City, More Tales of the City (Emmy Nominee), Further Tales of the City among more than 40 others. She has performed in over 130 productions on and off-Broadway and regionally at theatres including the Public Theater, A.C.T., Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare & Co., and the Williamstown Theatre Festival, where she also served as Associate Director. She was a Founding member and Producing Artistic Director of the Whole Theatre in Montclair, NJ, for 19 years; also a founding member of the Actor’s Company and the Charles Playhouse in Boston. She continues to teach acting at NYU and master classes for professional theatre companies, colleges, and universities across the country. She was bestowed the National Arts Club Medal of Honor and her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was placed in 2013.
“It is a pleasure to spend time with Dukakis, who is always not just open to but hungry for revelation, growth, and connection, giving the documentary a deliciously buoyant quality.” – Nell Minow, RogerEbert.com
“Director Harry Mavromichalis, using extreme close-ups that caress the stunning, dramatic topography of [Dukakis’] face, eschews traditional narration and chases after the firebrand as she attends the unveiling of her star on the walk of fame.” – Andrea Simakis,Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Harry Mavromichalis’ Olympia delivers a deeply personal and philosophical documentary, following Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis over the course of several years.” – Grace Williams, Battle Royale With Cheese
“The documentary Olympia is a lot like the Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis herself — opinionated, funny, candid, foul-mouthed, sometimes rambling, but never boring.” – Carla Hay, Culture Mix
Tim Sutton’s menacing and hauntingly elegant film, FUNNY FACE,follows the stifling dread of a young Muslim woman, Zama (Dela Meskienyar), running away from her aunt and uncle’s house, desperate for a new life. She quickly finds that she must now navigate the peril of life on the street. A disturbed young man, Saul (Cosmo Jarvis) from Coney Island dons the menacing “Funny Face” mask, transforming himself into a makeshift superhero with a rage disorder as he seeks revenge on the Real Estate Developer, (Jonny Lee Miller) of a soulless high rise that has displaced his grandparents. Misfit avengers in a changing city, the two embark on a neighborhood odyssey that brings danger, love, and tragedy. And pickles. Director / Writer Tim Sutton (Memphis, Dark Knight, Donnybrook) joins us for a conversation on creating films that connect with viewers beyond traditional storytelling, filmmakers and films that inspire him, and how telling the story of Saul and Zama reflects his own anxiety about the hallowing out of his beloved New York City.
Tim Sutton’s menacing and hauntingly elegant film, FUNNY FACE, follows the stifling dread of a young Muslim woman, Zama (Dela Meskienyar), running away from her aunt and uncle’s house, desperate for a new life. She quickly finds that she must now navigate the peril of life on the street. A disturbed young man, Saul (Cosmo Jarvis) from Coney Island dons the menacing “Funny Face” mask, transforming himself into a makeshift superhero with a rage disorder as he seeks revenge on the Real Estate Developer, (Jonny Lee Miller) of a soulless high rise that has displaced his grandparents. Misfit avengers in a changing city, the two embark on a neighborhood odyssey that brings danger, love, and tragedy. And pickles. Director / Writer Tim Sutton (Memphis, Dark Knight, Donnybrook) joins us for a conversation on creating films that connect with viewers beyond traditional storytelling, filmmakers and films that inspire him, and how telling the story of Saul and Zama reflects his own anxiety about the hallowing out of his beloved New York City. For news and updates go to: gravitasventures.com/funny-face
“Genuinely otherworldly… a tender evocation of a New York City that is currently passing before its inhabitants’ eyes.” —Variety
“Haunting.” —Screen Daily
“A hypotensive urban fairy tale…of a New York borough imagined as a faraway land of rooftops and distant lights and corner bodegas where every day—every moment even—seems to start with ‘once upon a time.'” — The Playlist “Seductive.” —The Film Stage “Electric.” —Indiewire
In I BLAME SOCIETY Gillian (Gillian Wallace Horvat) is one of those many struggling filmmakers in L.A. who just can’t seem to get the money for their first feature. Feeling like her friends and her partner (Keith Poulson) are losing faith in her abilities, she decides to resurrect her abandoned documentary based on a pseudo-compliment she once received that she would make a good murderer. But while she documents what makes “the perfect murder” a hitherto unseen dark side of Gillian emerges and grows. Furthermore the problem with being a successful serial killer, she discovers, is keeping the whole thing stealth, denying her the recognition that she craves… and that unhinges her even more. After accidentally-ish killing her best friend (Chase Williamson), Gillian goes on a killing spree culminating with a final bloody act that nobody would dare deny her credit for. I BLAME SOCIETY is razor-sharp satire of the pitfalls of post-#MeToo culture in Los Angeles. Director, writer and lead actor Gillian Wallace Horvat (Kiss Kiss Fingerbang) joins us to talk about her gleefully disturbing feature film debut that delves into the psyche of a young woman trying to believe in her dreams and herself… and facing the darkness that lurks inside in this macabre Cinderella story.
About the filmmaker – Gillian Wallace Horvat is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker, writer, and film programmer. Her first short film, GUNPLAY, was a 2007 Wasserman Semi-Finalist and the only film to ever receive a disclaimer for graphic content at NYU Tisch’s First Run Film Festival. KISS KISS FINGERBANG, starring Anton Yelchin, Kate Lyn Sheil, and Buck Henry was awarded the Jury Prize in the Midnight Shorts category at the 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival; it later premiered online as a Vimeo Staff Pick. Miriam Bale wrote in Indiewire that. Gillian is one of “the most exciting American indie filmmakers I can think of.” Her films have screened in festivals around the world including SXSW, Fantasia, Palm Springs International Short Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Yale University, and many others. Gillian also produced A FULLER LIFE, a documentary on the life and films of director Samuel Fuller that premiered at the 2013 Venice Film Festival. Recently she has produced documentary shorts for Arrow Films, Kino Lorber, and Olive Films, working on projects ranging from an AMERICAN NINJA box set to Orson Welles’ MACBETH. She is also a guest columnist for Filmmaker Magazine and her writing has appeared in Sight & Sound.
“I Blame Society is a pretty startling and original film. Writer-director-star Horvat explores the dark comedy genre on her own terms, and has the courage to keep upping the ante – right until the very end.” – Frank J. Avella, Edge Media Network
“In some ways, I totally believe that you have to be at least a little bit insane to want to follow an artistic career path. I Blame Society takes that ball and runs with it to a successfully awesome finish line.” – Lorry Kikta, Film Threat
“Writer/director/actress/mischievous malcontent Gillian Wallace Horvat’s I Blame Society is a wry, anarchic mockumentary that will almost immediately turn some people all the way the hell off. Pity those poor, incorrect fools.” – Ryan Syrek, The Reader (Omaha, NE)
“The originality of story and filmmaking is a sight to see, and its narrative is an exquisite example of how quickly the thin line between reality and art can blur.” – Stephanie Archer, Film Inquiry
Shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Documentary Film – Short Form, THE SPEED CUBERS drops us into the frenetic world of Speed Cubing. Cubing is the competitive sport of solving a Rubik’s Cube in mere seconds that has grown into a worldwide phenomenon in recent years. For nearly a decade in the sport, Feliks Zemdegs from Australia, has reigned unchallenged as the king of cubers, the greatest of all time. That is, until now. The cubing world was stunned when an unknown challenger named Max Park from California took home the Gold medal in 2017 and emerged onto the global stage. Since then, Max’s rise to the top has been swift and steady, save for one obstacle in his way: Feliks. The two have been trading wins and world records steadily, neither one able to truly dominate while the other still competes. But rather than developing into a bitter rivalry, Feliks and Max have instead grown their competitive relationship into a tender yet complicated friendship.THE SPEED CUBERS finds Max and Feliks on the threshold of another World Championship, both driven to win but both rooting for each other’s success. Director Sue Kim stops by to talk about her high-energy, and warm-hearted look into the feverishly competitive but refreshingly idyllic world of Speed Cubers.
Take a trip and break out of your shell with Barb and Star. From the gals who broughtyouBridesmaids (co-stars and co-writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo) comes BARB & STAR GO TO VISTA DEL MAR. Lifelong friends Barb and Star embark on the adventure of a lifetime when they decide to leave their small Midwestern town for the first time…ever. Romance, friendship and a villain’s evil plot…Hold onto your culottes, BARB & STAR is streaming now! Director Josh Greenbaum (Too Funny to Fail, Behind the Mask, Becoming Bond) joins us for a lively conversation on he became part ofthe Trish-a-licious inspired Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo’s project, and finding just the right amount of kitsch, color and culottes to make the funniest magical turtle comedy in the history of cinema.
About the filmmaker – Josh Greenbaum is a Director, Writer and Producer in both film and television. He has won an Emmy Award, an MTV Award, and a CINE Golden Eagle Award. His first feature documentary THE SHORT GAME won the Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival and was acquired by Netflix to launch their Originals film division. His second film BECOMING BOND also won the Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival and was acquired by Hulu as one of their first Original films. His latest film called TOO FUNNY TO FAIL is a Hulu Original Documentary about The Dana Carvey Show, which was the launching ground for then unknowns Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, Louis CK, and Charlie Kaufman among others and currently has a 100% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In television, Greenbaum is the creator, Executive Producer, and Director of the Emmy- nominated Hulu Original series BEHIND THE MASK now in its second season, and Executive Producer and Director of the Netflix Original Series THE PLAYBOOK. In addition, Greenbaum has written and directed projects for ABC, CBS, Fox, Comedy Central and the CW, including THE NEW GIRL for Fox, as well as dozens of short films, including one for the Clinton Foundation and Funny or Die starring Matt Damon, Ben Stiller, Kevin Spacey, Sean Penn, Jack Black, Bill Clinton, Kristen Wiig and others. Greenbaum has also directed award-winning commercials for brands such as Dove, Coke, AT&T, ESPN, Burger King, Old Navy, Carhartt, and has directed top name talent such as Daniel Craig, Ben Affleck, Kristen Bell, Matt Damon, including a commercial starring Arnold Schwarzenegger that garnered 20 million hits in less than two days and was awarded the Youtube Ad of the Year. He also recently won a Cannes Lion Award for a campaign he directed for Burger King. Greenbaum is a graduate of Cornell and Oxford Universities and received his MFA in film from the graduate program at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.
“To call it a trip is an understatement. Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is a tumble down a piña-colada-fuelled rabbit hole. Once through the looking glass, it’s an uncanny but thoroughly enjoyable time.” – Gabriella Geisinger, Digital Spy
“’Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar’ is one of the silliest and most ridiculous films I’ve seen in some time…and I loved every damn moment of it.” – Doug Jamieson, The Jam Report
“Barb & Star is what happens when you let two genius women do whatever they want and what they want happens to be an action comedy set in tourist Florida with two middle-aged women who love culottes at the center.” – Esther Zuckerman, Thrillist
“Brimming with incredible energy and non-stop laughter, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is the movie the entire world needs right now.” – Maxance Vincent, Cultured Vultures
“A tropical blue beacon of absurd joy that has nothing profound to say, and is all the better for it.” – Abby Olcese, Crooked Marquee
Based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel, DAYS OF THE BAGNOLD SUMMER is a funny yet sweet coming-of-age story about single motherhood and Metallica.Daniel (Earl Cave) was supposed to spend the summer with his dad and his dad’s new wife in Florida, but when his dad cancels the trip Daniel and his mom, Sue, (Monica Dolan) suddenly face the prospect of six long weeks together. An epic war of wills ensues in their suburban home as Daniel just wants to listen to heavy metal and start a band while his mom hopes to rekindle the fun times they used to have together. Featuring original songs by Belle and Sebastian. Director Simon Bird joins us for a conversation on his beautifully rendered tale of a sullen, insecure teen and his effervescent single mom doing her best to keep moving forward in a world that is pelting her with cheap shots and exasperating insults.
About the filmmaker – Director Simon Bird’s first short film, Ernestine and Kit, premiered at South By Southwest, and was nominated for Best Short at the Irish Film and Television Awards. Previously, Simon has worked as a stand-up comedian, writer, producer, and actor. As a writer, he created The King Is Dead for the BBC and co-created Chickens for Sky, which was nominated for Best Sitcom at the Broadcast Awards. As a producer, he set up Guilty Party Pictures, a TV and film production company backed by RED and Studiocanal. Guilty Party has produced content for Channel 4, Sky and the BBC, and recently wrapped on How Europe Stole My Mum, an original TV show for Channel 4, to air later this year. As an actor, Simon has starred in five series of Rose D’Or-winning sitcom Friday Night Dinner. The sixth series shoots later this year. He is perhaps best known as Will McKenzie from Channel 4’s BAFTA-winning sitcom THE INBETWEENERS, THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE, which is the highest-grossing comedy film ever in the UK, and THE INBETWEENERS 2, which had the highest-grossing opening weekend of any film in the UK in 2014. Simon has won multiple British Comedy Awards and been nominated for a BAFTA and Royal Television Society award for acting.
“Far closer in spirit to the lighter works of Mike Leigh than the broader material that made him a well known figure in British comedy, Bird’s debut is innately humanistic, with cross-generational appeal.” – Alistair Ryder, Film Inquiry
The animated short film based on her own childhood experience in Wuhan China, WINDUP, tells the story of a father trying to stay connected with his unconscious daughter through music. He plays a windup music box and hopes she can hear it while fighting with his own emotions to stay strong. Meanwhile, his daughter follows the melody in her dreams and looks for a way back. WINDUPis a nine-minute animated short written and directed by an emergingfemale Chinese filmmaker Yibing Jiang, and Animation DirectorJason Keane. Keanehas a long family legacy in animation, which includes, his grandfather Bill Keane (Family Circus comics) and his uncles Jeff Keane; and Glenn Keane,(The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan, and Tangled). WINDUP was also a collaboration with artists working remotely from around the world, created in real-time with Unity. At a time when we are feeling isolated, craving connection and preoccupied with the health and well-being of loved ones, the theme of the film is an uplifting and universal one that highlights the fragile nature of life, love, resiliency and the healing power of music, told through the eyes of a father and the special bond he shares with his ailing young daughter. Director Yibing Jiang and Artistic Director Jason Keane stop by to talk about their work and vision for this heartwarming and beautiful animated film.
LAPSIS is a smart, funny, slyly suffocating look into a parallel present, delivery man Ray Tincelli (Dean Imperial) is struggling to support himself and his ailing younger brother. After a series of two-bit hustles and unsuccessful swindles, Ray takes a job in a strange new realm of the gig economy: trekking deep into the forest, pulling cable over miles of terrain to connect large, metal cubes that link together the new quantum trading market. As he gets pulled deeper into the zone, he encounters growing hostility and the threat of robot cablers, and must choose to either help his fellow workers or to get rich and get out. What he doesn’t expect is to be pulled into a conspiracy involving hostile cablers, corporate greed, and the mysterious LAPSIS who may have previously owned his permit. Director / writer / editor Noah Hutton joins us for a conversation on his unique vision of the near future, quasi-syfy world, relationships, family and cabling.
About the filmmaker – Noah Hutton is a writer and director of documentary and narrative films. He wrote and directed the sci-fi feature Lapsis, which premiered in the narrative feature competition at SXSW 2020 and was acquired by Film Movement for theatrical release in 2021. In 2020 he completed In Silico, a ten-year documentary begun in 2009 and supported by Sandbox Films and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation about a ten-year project to simulate the human brain on supercomputers. Previously he directed the documentary features Deep Time (SXSW 2015) and Crude Independence (SXSW 2009). For more about Noah Hutton and his films go to: couple3films.com
“Hutton’s inventive storytelling weaves a clever web throughout….” – Andrew Osborne, Culture Vulture
“An ingenious social satire wrapped inside an intelligent sci-fi parable.” – Rob Aldam, Backseat Mafia
“Lapsis lives on the central performance by Dean Imperial as Ray, and that life is undoubtedly vibrant and complex.” – Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle “A world away from the clichés of popular science fiction, this is the real thing.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“…entertainingly original…. This tale of a floundering gig-economy worker straddles both the bleak present-tense reality of Ken Loach’s “Sorry We Missed You” and the subversive near-future political satire of Boots Riley’s “Sorry to Bother You” while arriving at a whimsical critique all its own.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
After producing the comeback tour of The Monkees in 1986, promoter and talent agentDavid Fishof founded Rock’ n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, which has been making dream comes true for more than 25 years. Summer camp meets Spinal Tap, Rock’ n’ Roll Fantasy Camp brings together musicians from all walks of life for an unforgettable experience with legendary rock stars. These musicians teach, inspire, and jam with the campers over four days, concluding with a life performance at a famed venue. The experience takes music lovers from spectator to the stage, sharing the limelight with their musical heroes. Rock Camp, The Movie follows four campers (and their families) trough their journeys to shred with their heroes and see how they overcome their fears and transform their lives. Rock Camp – The Movie boasts a jaw-dropping array of rock star “counselors” that include Roger Daltrey, Alice Cooper, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons,Nancy Wilson, Joe Perry, Jeff Beck, Slash, and countless other rock legends. Directed and produced by Doug Blush, co-directed and edited by Renee Barron, and produced by Jeff Rowe. Rock’ n’ Roll Fantasy Camp founder David Fishof joins us to talk about his life as a promoter, the amazing array of talented artists he has gotten to know and the endless joy that his “Fantasy Camp” and now the “The Movie” has brought him over these many years.
About the founder – David Fishof began his career as a sports agency and eventually an entertainment executive and music producer more than four decades ago. Through the Rock’ n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, he has been making dream comes true for more than 25 years. Whether he’s producing a tour, assembling an All-Starr band with Ringo Starr, or writing a best-selling book, there’s one thing David Fishof is always doing: dreaming. Hailed as one of the most creative and innovative entertainment producers in the world, David has been responsible for some of the most original, successful, and exciting live shows ever brought to the stage. But of all the shows he’s put on over his 40-plus year career, there’s one production that stands out from all the rest: Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp. After years of good fortune working with veteran rockers like Roger Daltrey, Ringo Starr, The Monkees, Levon Helm, Joe Walsh, Jack Bruce and Peter Frampton, David decided it was time to share his experiences with rock fans around the world. And so, in 1997, he debuted the rock camp—a place where regular people can reconnect with their passion for music alongside the most famous names in the business. For more information go to: rockcamp.com
About the filmmaker – Doug Blush is an award-winning director, producer, editor, and cinematographer. His credits include, as editor, the Oscar and ACE Eddie Award winning 20 Feet from Stardom (2013), as executive producer, the Oscar winning Period. End of Sentence. (2018) and, as consulting producer and editor, the Oscar winning Icarus (2017).
January 12-24 2021, Highways, the legendary Los Angeles Performance Space and Gallery presents its Second Annual Film Maudit 2.0 festival showcasing and celebrating new outré, unusual and startling films. The festival will feature over 125 works of cinema from 25 countries including films rarely if ever, seen in festivals: works addressing socio-political issues and taboo subject matter that challenges conventional artistic assumptions and sexual mores.Virtual, online screenings of 18 feature films, 21 shorts programs, specially commissioned programs, and new film scored performed by artists who reflect the diversity of Los Angeles. Included are a range of narrative, documentary and experimental films that are deliberately bold, extreme, confrontational and unusual. Film Maudit 2.0 highlights this year include the U.S. premieres of Feature Films:Mathius Marvellous Shop, a Spanish/German surrealistic satire;Kriya, a magical Indian thriller, and the Los Angeles premieres of Woman of the Photographs; a powerful Japanese film about image and reality for a beautiful model; The Columnist, a darkly comic horror film from The Netherlands; A Dark, Dark Man, the Kazakhstan/France thriller just long-listed for the Golden Globes; and Darkness (Buio)the first feature film by Donatello Award-winning director Emanuela Rossi. Other special programs include a special fundraising screening of erotic art pioneers Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens’ Water Makes Us Wet, featuring a live stream Q&A with both; new, original music scores performed live to silent films, and multiple Feature and Shorts Programs that showcase works from 25 countries in 16 uniquely curated categories from ‘Ms. Fear’ to ‘Shattering Form’ – with animated documentaries to experimental works handmade on film; extreme horror to comic surrealism. There is a special focus on works in Film Maudit’s BEHOLD section, which includes NSFW! curated by Planet Queer, Hi Kicks Entrails, curated by performance artist Ironstone, and QLX: the Performance of Queer Latinx.
Film Maudit 2.0 festival is inspired by French avant-garde filmmaker and writer Jean Cocteau who created the original Festival du Film Maudit (literally “cursed films”) in 1949 aiming to celebrate overlooked, shocking and experimental films. Film Maudit 2.0, in its 2nd year, showcases a counter-cinema will blend of narrative, documentary and experimental films that in their style and/or subject matter, are deliberately bold, extreme, confrontational, troubling, shocking and/or unusual. The festival is funded in part by the California Arts Council, Los Angeles County Department of Cultural Affairs and the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs CAP Program.
About HIGHWAYS – Film Maudit 2.0 is co-presented by and takes place at Southern California’s boldest center for new performance and media arts, Highways Performance Space & Gallery in Santa Monica, CA. In its 31st year, Highways continues to be an important alternative cultural center in Los Angeles that encourages radical artists from diverse communities to develop and present innovative new works. Described by the Los Angeles Times as “a hub of experimental theater, dance, solo drama and other multimedia performance,” Highways promotes the development of contemporary socially involved artists and art forms. Under the helm of Executive Director, Leo Garcia, Highways has received funding and support from organizations such as the The James Irvine Foundation, Metabolic Studio, California Community Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, The Warhol Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Roy Cockrum Foundation. Leo Garcia is an award-winning playwright, filmmaker, visual artist and actor who has produced over 800 performance works as Artistic Director-turned-Executive Director of Highways since 2003. highwaysperformance.org
Mike Stasko’sBOYS vs. GIRLS drops us into the summer of 1990, Camp Kindlewood is being forced to go co-ed for the first time in its seventy-year existence. Roger (Colin Mochrie, Whose Line Is It Anyway?), the camp director, tries to convince both sides that this is a great idea in an effort to keep the camp off the corporate chopping block. But after head counsellors Dale (Eric Osborne, Degrassi) and Amber (Rachel Dagenais, The Birder) have an awkward encounter, all bets are off. Both Dale and Amber rally their sides in an attempt to win back their camp and gain dominance over what they feel is rightfully theirs.This battle of the sexes sets off a series of pranks and mischief, fueled by camp caretaker Coffee (Kevin McDonald, The Kids in the Hall), as the boys and girls fight for their summertime home. BOYS vs. GIRLS Director / Producer / Writer Mike Stasko joins us to talk about the collaboration with comedic stalwarts Colin Mochrie and Kevin McDonald and showcasing talented newcomers like Eric Osborne and Rachel Dagenais in his rowdy battle of the sexes.
Tandem Pictures is a leader in conceiving and implementing eco-sustainable filmmaking practices in the indie film space,with all of their productions following Environmental Media Association standards and the Producers Guild’s Green Best Practices. They’re also an advocate for how these practices – from using hybrid vehicles on set, to having the sound and camera teams use rechargeable batteries, to composting and using metal straws – can and should be adopted industry-wide. Female owned and operated, it is Tandem’s mission is to bring female talent and narratives to the forefront. They embrace female-centric storytelling, and pride themselves on the fact that the casts and crews of their films are composed of underserved and underrepresented minority groups, LGBTQIA, and women.tandempictures.com
JULIE CHRISTEAS – Tandem Pictures – Founder, Chief Executive Officer Julie’s recent films include BLACK BEAR (Sundance 2020) starring Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon which will be released later this year by eOne/Momentum and THE SURROGATE (SXSW 2020/Monument Releasing) . She also executive produced the cult horror favorite THE EYES OF MY MOTHER (Sundance 2016/Magnet Releasing), MONOGAMY (Best NY Narrative, Tribeca Film Festival 2010), the feature doc DUKALE’S DREAM starring Hugh Jackman, and GHOST TEAM starring Jon Heder, David Krumholtz, Justin Long, Amy Sedaris and Melonie Diaz. Previously she produced BLOOD STRIPE (Jury Prize for Best Narrative Film, LA Film Festival 2016), WILDLIKE starring Bruce Greenwood and Brian Geraghty (HIFF), and THE SLEEPWALKER starring Christopher Abbott and Brady Corbet (Sundance 2014/IFC).
JONATHAN BLITSTEIN – Tandem Pictures – Co-owner, Chief Operating Officer Jonathan’s most recently produced the acclaimed films THE SURROGATE, and BLACK BEAR (SUNDANCE, EOne/Universal release) starring Aubrey Plaza. Prior to Tandem he worked in production and branded entertainment for Vudu, Sony and Disney, supporting Fortune 500 Brands such as Walmart, Sprint and Covergirl. At Oracle (formerly CrowdTwist), he initiated the creation of Marvel Studios’ first nationwide fan loyalty program Marvel Insider. In his early career, he made two micro-budget feature films LET THEM CHIRP AWHILE and ANOTHER KIND which both premiered at the Woodstock Film Festival which were distributed on Netflix and VOD. Early career roles include marketing arthouse films such as Park Chan Wook’s OLD BOY, and Noah Baumbach’s SQUID AND THE WHALE.
KING OF KNIVES tells the story of Frank and Kathy who are baby boomer parents and Sadie & Kaitlin, their millennial daughters. Frank is screaming towards a mid-life crisis. Kathy pretends she’s happy and doesn’t drink that much wine. Sadie is the good child; convinced her first and only boyfriend is the one to marry. Kaitlin is the rebel, the entertainer; the truth teller who will not filter how she’s feeling. Over three days, with much drama and humor, this crap-happy family careens and skids straight towards a fateful anniversary. On the way, they realize they are more alike than they know. KING OF KNIVES, co-written by Lindsay Joy & Gene Pope and directed Jon Delgado, has earned critical acclaim from audiences who have been lucky enough to see the film. It has also won awards from numerous festivals including “Best Narrative Feature Film” at the Williamsburg International Film & Music Competition, “Best Feature & Lead Actress” at the Milan World Cinema Festival, and seven Platinum awards including “Winner Narrative Feature” at the International Independent Film Awards. Producer and lead actor Gene Pope joins us for a lively conversation on his own mid-life reckoning that inspired the film, his role in front of and behind the camera, what his theatre background brought to the project and working with a cast that includes Mel Harris.
KING OF KNIVES is a Gravitas Ventures release that is available on VOD and Digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Fandango Now and all major cable/satellite platforms on Tuesday, December 1.
From director Dana Nachman (BATKID BEGINS, PICK OF THE LITTER) comes the fanciful and poignant story of Operation Santa. For more than 100 years human elves have been helping Santa respond to the thousands of letters that are written and mailed to him. Through Operation Santa, the United States Postal Service makes it possible for the public to safely adopt these letters and make children’s dreams come true. DEAR SANTA invites audiences along for the magic of this massive endeavor. Traveling the country, much like Santa does on Christmas Eve, the film focuses on select Operation Santa centers: some in metropolitan areas like the massive operation in New York City and others in small towns where the post office is the heart of the community. This is a no Christmas spoiler film and Santa himself has watched the film and can’t wait for the December 4th release! Director Dana Nachman drops down the chimney to talk about her latest, and much needed heart-warming ode to generosity, kindness, and unabashed humanity.
About the filmmaker – Director Dana Nachman is a veteran documentary filmmaker and former journalist. Her films have received dozens of awards from top film festivals across the U.S. and around the world. Her recent film PICK OF THE LITTER, which she directed with Don Hardy, premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival, was distributed by IFC Films, and was adapted into an original television series for Disney+ that she also co-directed. Her documentary BATKID BEGINS debuted at Slamdance Film Festival and was distributed by Warner Bros / New Line Cinema. Her film WITCH HUNT debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and her film LOVE HATE LOVE debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival. She also directed the documentaries THE HUMAN EXPERIMENT, WASHED AWAY and the comedies HOOKED UP 2.0 and THE FINAL SHOW. Her television news work earned her multiple Emmy® awards, an Edward R. Murrow Award, and a regional AP award. Nachman is a member of the Directors Guild of America (DGA).
“Ultimately, “Dear Santa” is about pulling together, helping neighbors, loving each other and celebrating life and the spirit of giving. It’s a delightful gift at the end of a challenging year.” – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle
“Dear Santa delivers a desperately needed dose of holiday cheer during these troubled times that will leave even the most Grinch-like of viewers bathed in their own tears.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
“Overall, I think this documentary is perfect, even if it is a bit of a Christmas propaganda movie. This is the perfect time for that.” – Lorry Kikta, Film Threat
“Director Dana Nachman juggles the insights of children, the feeling of the season, and the aspirations of people seeking to do good works in several locations across the country in the three weeks of activity ahead of Christmas.” – Douglas Davidson, Elements of Madness
Josh Duhamel (Transformers) stars in this wild and hilarious, no-holds-barred comedy. After six lifelong friends have a five year falling out, Bob (Duhamel), aka “The Bobfather”, reunites his pals for the Buddy Games, an insane competition of absurd physical and mental challenges with the chance to win a $150,000 pot. Now all bets are off, as the determined dudes fight, claw, and party for the big bucks in this star-studded bro-fest featuring Dax Shepard (CHiPs), Olivia Munn (Office Christmas Party) and Kevin Dillon (“Entourage”). Director / Producer / Co-screenwriter Josh Duhamel stops by to talk about collaborating on the script and the actual “Buddy”games with Bob Schwartz and Jude Weng, pulling together a great comedic cast and discovering a love for directing his own projects.
Director’s Statement – At its core, BUDDY GAMES is a comedy, but it is also an homage to the lifelong friendships I’ve built. For many years, my friends and I have had an annual weekend of games and debauchery – everything from classic ping pong competitions to naked paintball (right off the bat, I can tell you that this is like nothing anyone has ever seen from me before). The concept always seemed like a great premise for a movie, and while I’ve always wanted to direct, I knew that the best way to start that journey in my career was to write something myself. So, I sat down with Bob Schwartz (the real life “Bobfather”) and Jude Weng to write a script based on the shenanigans that my buddies and I have done for over 20 years. My hope is that BUDDY GAMES not only shocks people and makes them curl over with laughter, but that it also resonates with people when they think of their own group of buddies, the crazy situations they find themselves in, and how much more important those friendships become as we get older. I couldn’t be more grateful for the insanely talented cast and crew who really helped tell this story. As is the goal for the audience, I think that everyone involved in this project was able to draw upon their own personal relationships, relish in the camaraderie, and have a hell of a lot of fun thinking about beating their best buddies in the ultimate competition that would win them bragging rights for life. – Josh Duhamel
In his follow-up to the acclaimed debut feature film, The Giant, Johannes Nyholm’s Koko-Di Koko-Da recounts the story of Elin and Tobias, a happily married couple who regularly vacation with their young daughter. The family is on a dreamy holiday when an innocuous case of food poisoning derails their plans and forever alters the course of their lives.Three years later, the once loving couple is on the road again to go camping, looking for one last chance to go back to the way things used to be. But what once was is lost, and our characters instead find themselves having to relive the same nightmarish events, as that day and the horrors it brings repeat themselves infinitely. Together, they must overcome their trauma, reconcile with their past and fight for their lives. Over, and over, and over again.Discerned through a dreamlike fabric, a story emerges about relationships in general, grief and reconciliation in particular, and love as a healing force. Director Johannes Nyholm stops by to talk about the mind-bending, Federico Fellini meets Rod Sterling mise-en-scène inhabiting this profoundly passive-aggressive tale of trauma, loss and truly terrible camping strategies.
Director’s Statement – The setting is those wee hours of the morning when dreams are at their most relentlessly untamed. This is also when the seed for many of my films comes to me. I’m sweating, struggling to go back to sleep and plagued by scattered thoughts. Suddenly they come together, leading me into a fairy tale. I write it down and then I can sleep. “Koko-di Koko-da” was both written and takes place during such a time – this nightmarish landscape between wakefulness and sleep. The film is deeply personal and a means to confront my own worst fears, much like the way the characters in the film are forced to confront theirs. It’s a universal narrative about a relationship that is falling apart. The main reason for making this film is that I’m fascinated by the everyday situations and power struggles lurking beneath the surface in relationships; what is not said, what is embedded between the lines. The love and happiness they once shared has evaporated, and so has the care they used to show for each other. Over and over again, we see them pushed yet again onto the same stage, the open glen in the woods, and into the airless tent. We observe them from above, like gladiators clashing repeatedly, without any opportunity to escape – be it from their tormenters or from each other. They are forced to confront each other, to display emotions, to be pushed around, humiliated, spat upon, tormented; in short – to be together. Any attempts to get away inevitably lead back to the same claustrophobic scenario. Made up of dreams, this story is also structurally constructed like a dream – or more specifically, a nightmare. Taking us through a labyrinth in time, like a dark grinding thought, never letting go, stuck on repeat. Presenting minor variations, but always with the same horrific outcome. – Johannes Nyholm
“Johannes Nyholm follows up his masterful debut, 2016’s The Giant, with this often inexplicable yet increasingly captivating endeavor…” – David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews
“Though at times tasteless and barely coherent, the story is oddly affecting, the very strangeness of Nyholm’s folkloric vision and its unnerving execution pulling you in.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
“It works as a parable for what happens to grief when it is left un-exorcised and unexpressed.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
“Writer-director Johannes Nyholm (The Giant, 2016) takes all the grief, loss and bitter recriminations of this Swedish couple and drops them into the realm of myth, dream and folklore.” – Anton Bitel, Sight and Sound
What started out as an inside joke amongst two self-proclaimed weirdos in Ft. Worth, Texas soon becomes much more than they bargained for when they decide to turn their conservative southern ideology on its head and invent a new religion all their own and all is chronicled in the rousing new documentary, J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius. The film features appearances from Church devotees Richard Linklater, Penn Jillette and Nick Offerman. The Church of the SubGenius has been called “the most aggressively preposterous theology the world has ever known!” But what is the Church? And who is J.R. “Bob” Dobbs? And why is his name always in quotes? Filmmaker Sandy K. Boone explores the underground movement that has galvanized the imaginative, the artistic, the nerdy, even the deranged – to examine the simmering dystopia in their culture, and do absolutely nothing about it… except, maybe, poke fun at it all. Director Sandy K. Boone and co-founder Dr. Philo Drummond (Reverend Ivan Stang) join us for a lively conversation on how the Church’s subversive and deliberately chaotic anti-dogma was unleashed on an unsuspecting world of pinks and normals.
Director Statement – My late husband, filmmaker David Boone, and I moved to Austin in the early 1980s to join the film department at the University of Texas, write scripts, make films and raise our family. The Austin Chronicle was a new venture back then and the original TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE was just being filmed. Austin was being called The Third Coast by longtime friends: directors Jonathan Demme and John Sayles, and singer-songwriter David Byrne of the Talking Heads.In fact it was David’s film INVASION OF THE ALUMINUM which first caught the attention of Jonathan Demme, who went on the present it and five other Austin films at the Collective for Living Cinema in 1981 in New York. Three decades later, INVASION had become a Texas cult classic and I proudly produced a restoration of the film as part of JONATHAN DEMME PRESENTS: MADE IN TEXAS – SIX FILMS FROM AUSTIN, which premiered at SXSW in 2015. At that screening, Richard Linklater shared that seeing the MIT films years earlier at an art gallery screening in Houston actually inspired his move to Austin. In recent years I have co-founded several Austin based film companies with a shared mission to encourage local indie filmmakers, foster creative talent, and perpetuate a sense of community through filmmaking. Diving deeper into the world of film, I served as an associate producer on RICHARD LINKLATER – DREAM IS DESTINY, which premiered at Sundance in 2016. I then went on to executive produce films such as Ethan Hawke’s BLAZE, Karen Skloss’ THE HONOR FARM, and Keith Maitland’s Emmy winning documentary, TOWER. Currently I’ve just wrapped directing and producing my first feature documentary, J.R. “BOB” DOBBS AND THE CHURCH OF THE SUBGENIUS, a look inside the Church of the SubGenius, of which my late husband was an early disciple.
WINNER – Grand Jury Award, Texas Feature (DIFF 2019)
WINNER – Best International Documentary (MDFF 2019)
WINNER – Best Documentary Feature (Blow-Up Filmfest Chicago 2019)
“Boone gives us both a nostalgic account on this underground movement and how their sci-fi inspired dystopia applies to each decade of history, up till today, where the documentary earns its whole-hearted earnestness.” – Alex Lines,Film Inquiry
“J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius captures a period in history when rebelling against the boundaries of reality could still be a positively charged, life-altering experience.” – Cheryl Eddy, io9.com
“This (mostly) playful, always thoughtful documentary is an unusual cautionary tale about what happens when society abandons absurdity as release and distraction.” – Andrea Chase, Killer Movie Reviews
“A wild, an engrossing look at a fascinating sliver of off-the-wall Americana, a minor religious movement that just sort of happened while two friends were messing around.” – Brent McKnight, The Last Thing I See
When it was released in 1987, The Monster Squad was deemed a failure by critics and was, according to the box office, a film no one cared about. But over the last three decades, word of mouth has turned this sleeping hit into a cultural phenomenon. WOLFMAN’S GOT NARDS explores the relationship a dedicated audience (including celebrities and filmmakers) has with The Monster Squad. The film takes an in-depth look into the film’s conception, response, cult status, and revival. Through interviews with the cast, crew, screenwriters, directors, academics and original reviewers as well as through never-before-seen footage, it turns the lens on an audience of self-proclaimed misfits who have kept The Monster Squad alive for more than 30 years. Director Andre Gower and Monster Squad member, Sean, joins us for a lively conversation on the unlikely saga of a box-office bomb that, like the squad, refuses to give up, and a community of fans that continues to grow.
About the filmmaker – Director André Gowerhas 40 years of experience in the entertainment industry, making him one of the most recognizable child stars of his generation. His body of work includes network series, movies of the week, and features. He is best known for playing the lead character in the cult classic The Monster Squad. Currently, André heads Fitterpiper Entertainment, a production company focusing on young independent filmmakers, new concepts from industry veterans, experimental digital concepts and short films with a roster of production professionals. He also co-hosts the short film series ‘Short Ends’ (Nerdist/ALPHA) and a podcast, ‘Squadcast with Ryan and André.
“There’s so much to cover, and Gower and his crew do an astounding job of being as thorough as possible.” – Kyle Anderson, Nerdist
“Watching these films – and this documentary – generates the type of joy we only felt as kids, as well as evoking the warm fuzzy feeling that nostalgia brings.” – Katie Driscoll, Starburst
“As a whole, I cannot recommend Wolfman’s Got Nards enough for those who love The Monster Squad, for fans of the horror genre, or even for anyone who has ever felt misunderstood by the world at large.” – Heather Wixson, Daily Dead
Cooper Raiff’s extraordinarily assured debut film, SHITHOUSE, follows a lonely college freshman Alex (Cooper Raiff) during his first year at college and first time away from home. Alex has closed himself off from his classmates, who all appear to have this whole “college thing” figured out. Among thousands of kids trying their best to make college work, He feels alone and depressed. Home is 1500 miles away and he’s struggling to find a reason not to go back. Maggie (Dylan Gelula, First Girl I Loved), Alex’s sophomore RA, has been crushing college since day one. Today though, Maggie is dealt an unexpected loss. After a party at Shithouse, Maggie wants some company and finds it in Alex. Two young people raised in very different households, Alex and Maggie challenge each other and grow up together. Desperately clinging to his social breakthrough, Alex pulls out all the stops with one more night at Shithouse, hoping to rekindle that moment of connection. Director / Producer / Writer / Editor / Actor Cooper Raiff joins us to talk about the challenge of making his debut feature film, SHITHOUSE, while taking on a multitude of roles and winning the 2020 SXSW Grand Jury Prize for his first film.
“One of the most extraordinary debuts on the list of SXSW selections for this year” – Richard Whittaker, The Austin Chronicle
“Charmingly funny and surprisingly sweet” – Matt Delman, Hammer to Nail
“Whenever “Shithouse” starts drifting towards a more generic energy, or gets the tiniest bit too plotty for its own good down the home stretch, Gelula is there to bring things back on course.” – David Ehrlich, Indiewire
“Cooper Raiff is breakthrough filmmaker and actor to watch and these are immensely fascinating characters in all of their anxiety, naivety, vulnerability, pain, and palpable growth as human beings” – Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth
The directorial debut of Sam Soko, SOFTIE is an intimate look at the life of Boniface Mwangi, a daring and audacious Kenyan photojournalist and activist who fights for Kenyan citizens to change a corrupt political system; his supportive wife Njeri stands by him and was often protesting alongside him. Now that they three small children, her priorities have shifted. Boniface on the other hand, decided to take his ideas further and run for political office. He claims he is fighting for his children and their future, but after receiving serious threats of violence, Njeri worries he is risking the safety of their entire family. Boniface is forced to face a difficult choice – which should come first, family or country? SOFTIE, the winner of the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing at the Sundance Film Festival, is now streaming as part of Hot Docs Film Festival Online. SOFTIE will have its North American broadcast premiere on October 12 as a part of the award-winning PBS documentary series POV. Director Sam Solo joins us for a conversation on his intimate, moving portrait of Boniface “Softie” Mwangi, a man willing to sacrifice everything for his country, his wife, Njeri and his family.
WINNER – Special Jury Award for Editing – 2020 Sundance Film Festival
About the filmmaker – Sam Soko is a director and producer based in Nairobi. His work on sociopolitical projects in music and film has allowed him to connect and work with artists around the world. He is co-founder of LBx Africa, a Kenyan production company that produced the 2018 Academy Award–nominated short fiction film Watu Wote. The film Softie is his first feature documentary project.
About the subject – Boniface “Softie” Mwangi has long fought injustices in his country as a political activist. Now he’s taking the next step by running for office in a regional Kenyan election. From the moment Boniface decides to run, telling his wife, Njeri, in passing with a hesitant laugh, he responds to each challenge with optimism. But running a clean campaign against corrupt opponents becomes increasingly harder to combat with idealism alone. And Boniface soon finds that challenging strong political dynasties is putting his family at risk. Should country really come before family, as he’s always believed?
“Eye-opening as “Softie” is as an immediate account of toxic Kenyan politics, it’s an equally moving marriage story, unsentimental but generously sympathetic in its study of a family brought to the brink of collapse for a greater good cause.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“A marvel of narrative storytelling…” – Filmmaker Magazine
“Softie is a compelling act of defiance, made more alarming by the violent events documented throughout the film, including the torture and murder of an official charged with keeping the elections fair and safe.” – John Fink, The Film Stage