A looming disaster in one of the most spectacular environments on Earth sparks a rescue mission unlike any other in SEA OF SHADOWS, a riveting new documentary with the intensity of a Hollywood thriller from National Geographic Documentary Films and winner of the Sundance audience award. When Mexican drug cartels and Chinese traffickers join forces to poach the rare totoaba fish in the Sea of Cortez, their deadly methods threaten to destroy virtually all marine life in the region, including the most elusive and endangered whale species on Earth, the vaquita porpoise.SEA OF SHADOWS follows a team of dedicated scientists, high-tech conservationists, investigative journalists and courageous undercover agents as well as the Mexican Navy as they put their lives on the line to save the last remaining vaquitas and bring the vicious international crime syndicate to justice. Director Richard Ladkani (The Ivory Game, The Devil’s Miner) talks about the monumental challenge of saving a highly intelligent mammal from a desperately poor community who see the black market totoaba and the vaquita as a way to spare their family from a life of poverty and degradation.
“Sea of Shadows may still raise awareness about the plight of other sea creatures still under threat from illegal nets sweeping the bottom of the ocean, killing everything unfortunate enough to swim in its wake.” – Monica Castillo, Remezcla
Underground filmmaker Barbara Rubin’s 1964 art-porn masterpiece “Christmas on Earth”, made when she was only 18 years old, shattered creative and sexist boundaries and shocked NYC’s experimental film scene. Working with Jonas Mekas at the Filmmaker’s Coop, Rubin was instrumental in creating NYC’s thriving underground film community and a rare female voice in a world of powerful men. A rebellious Zelig of the Sixties, she introduced Andy Warhol to the Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan to the Kabbalah. But beyond shaping the spirit of the Sixties, Barbara was seeking the deeper meaning of life. After retiring to a farm with Allen Ginsberg, she shocked everyone by becoming a Hasidic Jew. How and why did one of the 1960’s freest spirits submit to a religious life? For years, 94-year-old filmmaker Jonas Mekas has saved all of Barbara’s letters and cherished her memory. Working with Mekas’ footage and rare clips from the Andy Warhol archives, the film takes us inside the world and mind of Barbara Rubin; a woman who truly believed that film could change the world and then vanished into obscurity. Director Chuck Smith joins us for a conversation on the life and times of a gifted artistic protégé and the impact she had on the people who loved her.
“Barbara Rubin & the Exploding NY Underground,” an informative and overdue documentary… – Sheri Linden The Hollywood Reporter
“This bold, enthusiastic documentary details the unsung yet important role played by its subject in the 1960s artistic counterculture.” – Nick Schager Variety
“An evocative portrait of a vibrant and mysterious artist.It’s a riveting tale of an extraordinary, seemingly uncontrollable force, a supremely talented woman dealing with mental illness, a central figure in an artistic movement who was gone too soon.” – This Week in New York
…pound for pound, minute for minute, there are few biographical documentaries more impressive than this.” – Joshua Brunsting Criterioncast
Every Thursday Night hundreds of women gather for a potluck celebration and the chance to throw singles at the hottest dancers in New Jersey, The Nasty Boyz – featuring Satan, Mr. Capable, Fever, Young Rider and lesbian ‘dom’ dancer Blaze. THIS ONE’S FOR THE LADIES isn’t just about the tips or the dancing. It’s a heartwarming story of friendship and the resilience that comes from community. Hilarious, eye-opening, and breathtakingly sexy, THIS ONE’S FOR THE LADIES is a virtual how to guide for letting go of your troubles and having a good time. Director Gene Graham (The Godfather of Disco) joins us to talk about the respect he has for all of the people, patrons and strippers, in his film, how the film Magic Mike and the lack of people of color in it “inspired” his nuanced, multi-layer response.
In the quietly powerful documentary, THE PROPOSAL, director Jill Magid explores the life, death and profoundly moving work of Luis Barragán.Known as “the artist among architects,” Barragán is among the world’s most celebrated architects of the 20th century. Upon his death in 1988, much of his work was locked away in a Swiss bunker, hidden from the world’s view. In an attempt to resurrect Barragán’s life and art, boundary redefining artist Jill Magid creates a daring proposition that becomes a fascinating artwork in itself—a high-wire act of negotiation that explores how far an artist will go to democratize access to art.
Director’s Statement – The Proposal is my first feature film and the last chapter of a larger project I began in 2013 called The Barragán Archives. The project explores the contested legacy of Luis Barragán, Mexico’s most famous architect, and how his legacy is affected by the fact that a private corporation, Vitra, owns his archives and controls the rights in his name and work. For more than twenty years, this corporation has made his work largely inaccessible to the public. The film questions whether a single actor should be exclusively in control of how the world can engage with Barragán’s work. Almost as an invitation for image-making, Barragán was known to adjust a buildings’ design so that it would photograph better. With this film, I wanted to capture the overwhelming beauty of his work while simultaneously questioning the legal challenges one faces to do so. The film is in itself a proposal: A way to elicit dialogue about access to legacy and its proprietary nature, and not simply if the proposal will be accepted.– Jill Magid.
“Captivatingly wily. ‘The Proposal’ meditates on the meaning of artistic legacy. Most of all, it shines an ingeniously media-savvy spotlight on Barragán’s work.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, THE NEW YORK TIMES – Critic’s Pick
“A thoughtful, elegantly hypnotic exploration of ownership, access, and moral responsibility. “A multi-layered and thought-provoking work of art. Magid’s inspired response to a complex situation makes for an intriguing and approachable film.” – Allan Hunter, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL
“The documentary doesn’t bring closure to her fight for Barragán’s archive, but it will work its way under a viewer’s skin and leave them with persistent ideas to consider.” – Dan Schindel, HYPERALLERGIC
With its measured pacing and haunting ambience, Magid’s hypnotic film is an engaging examination of artistry, diplomacy, and posterity at a crossroads.” – Manuel Betancourt, REMEZCLA
“Beguiling. An unforgettable consideration of who should have ownership of an artist’s legacy.” – Stephen Saito, MOVEABLE FEST
America’s first superstar designer, Halston rose to international fame in the1970s, creating an empire and personifying the dramatic social and sexual revolution of the last century. Reaching beyond the glamour and glitz, acclaimed filmmakers, Director Frédéric Tcheng and Producer Roland Ballester reveal Halston’s profound impact on fashion, culture, and business. HALSTONcaptures the epic sweep of the life and times of the legendary designer Roy Halston Frowick, the man who set women free with his unstructured designs and strove to “dress all of America.” Framing the story as an investigation featuring actress and writer Tavi Gevinson as a young archivist diving into the Halston company records, Tcheng expertly weaves rare archival footage and intimate interviews with Halston’s family, friends and collaborators including Jacqueline Kennedy, Liza Minelli, Andy Warhol and Iman. What results is a behind-the-headlines look into the thrilling struggle between Halston’s artistic legacy and the pressures of big business. Director Frédéric Tcheng and Producer Roland Ballester join us to talk about a designer, artist and fashion mogul who drove himself as fast and as far as anyone before him.
“Halston is thrilling stuff for fashion nerds, as well as a poignant character study of a misfit ultimately undone by an excessive hunger to prove himself.” – Variety
“The expansive scope of this tribute seems entirely fitting for an industry giant who put America on the global fashion map.” – The Hollywood Reporter
“This film was an amazing exploration of an artist who lived to create. When his work was devalued, he had nothing to live for anymore. Tcheng does Halston proud, honoring his life’s work in this very entertaining dramocumentary.” – Katrina Olson, Calgary Movies
“Halston is tailor-made for fashionistas. Frédéric Tcheng’s breezy, docudrama offers a serious assessment of the fashion designer’s achievements, accessorised with enough gossip, conflict and celebrity to attract a wider audience.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
GENERAL MAGIC takes us back tothe early 1990’s, as a team of former Apple employees form their own company and prepare to take Silicon Valley by storm. From the first smartphones to touchscreens, e-commerce, eBay to emoticons, the ideas that now dominate the tech industry and our day-to-day lives were born at General Magic, a 1989 Silicon Valley startup that you’ve never heard of. The company and the product were so ahead of their time, that it ultimately failed, and the company closed down. However, General Magic’s former employees have since gone on to found eBay, Linkedin, and Android, to developing the technology that has led to the iPhone, iPad, iPod and everything that we all use today in our daily lives. These “magicians” have become the tech innovators that now lead companies like Samsung, Apple and Facebook. GENERAL MAGIC, the film tells the story of how great vision, grave betrayal and an epic failure changed the world forever.What was once thought of as an embarrassment is now embraced as amazing.This incredibly insightful and entertaining film looks at the rise and fall of the most influential Silicon Valley company you have never heard of called GENERAL MAGIC. The film captures the spirit of those of us who dare to dream big and the life-changing consequences when we fail, fail again, and fail better. GENERAL MAGIC Co-director Matt Maude (Sarah Kerruish) and film subject Marc Porat talk abouthow this remarkable team of creatively brilliant engineers, artists and visionaries that failed and succeeded at creating a technologies that continue to have an impact on the world around us.
“A fascinating tale.” – The Hollywood Reporter
“The biggest eye-opener of Tribeca 2018,” – Film Journal
“Poignant, entertaining and full of life and lessons.”- Forbes
“Gripping material, deftly edited, “General Magic” is remarkable’’ – Barrons
“General Magic is a reminder of how compelling stories about technology can be.” – The Verge
“The footage is unbelievable. This geekily comic doc inspires big dreams at every turn.” – TimeOut
In this unforgettable documentary we meet Gemma, a teenage troublemaker, a so called ‘Scheme Bird’ who introduces us to her world. The police know her by the way she runs – and she brags that she’ll end up either ”knocked up or locked up”. But in addition to fighting she loves her grandfather Joseph. He’s been like a father to her since her own mom abandoned her as a baby because of a drug addiction.Grandpa Joseph is sick and tired of the gang fights that has plagued the area for generations. But he likes pigeons. In fact he likes pigeons more than he likes most people. And when he turns the local boxing gym into a beauty contest for pigeons things start to change. With great care the men of the scheme pick out the most beautiful pigeons and suddenly they have something to live for. But despite Joseph’s efforts Gemma isn’t interested in the birds at all. She doesn’t want to disappoint her grandpa but the violent world of the scheme is also part of who she is. But what happens when the childish games turns into serious crime? Co-directors Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin join us to talk about how they connected with Gemma, seamlessly blending into her world and can people escape patterns of destructive behaviorand find positive ways to navigate a community of “lost causes.”
Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché,is a documentary about the first female filmmaker, Alice Guy-Blaché, which explores the heights of fame and financial success she achieved before she was shut out from the very industry she helped create. Over the span of her career, she wrote, produced or directed 1,000 films, including 150 with synchronized sound during the ‘silent’ era. Her work includes comedies, westerns and dramas, as well as films with groundbreaking subject matter such as child abuse, immigration, Planned Parenthood, and female empowerment. She also etched a place in history by making the earliest known surviving narrative film with an all-African American cast. Pamela B. Green has dedicated more than eight years of research in order to discover the real story of Alice Guy-Blaché (1873-1968) – not only highlighting her pioneering contributions to the birth of cinema but also her acclaim as a creative force and entrepreneur in the earliest years of movie-making. Green discovered rare footage of televised interviews and long archived audio interviews which can be heard for the first time in Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché, which affords Alice Guy-Blaché to tell her own story. Director Pamela B. Green joins us for a conversation on the winding journey of discovery and the exhilaration that comes from showcasing a visionary artist, producer, studio head, entrepreneur, feminist, and groundbreaking filmmaker.
“What starts as a biography turns into a detective thriller as Green crisscrosses the globe, searching for clues as to why Guy-Blaché has been forgotten.” – katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“A scrupulously well-researched documentary about one of early cinema’s greatest pioneers and the world’s first woman filmmaker.” – Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter
“The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché is essential viewing for those who want a complete perspective on the history of film.” – Lorry Kikta, Film Threat
“In her passionate debut film, Green achieves a feat of making a two-level research project informative and entertaining. Exciting and essential documentary for film history!” – Nora Lee Mandel, Maven’s Nest
The highly anticipated documentary AMAZING GRACE, captures the live recording of Aretha Franklin’s album “Amazing Grace” at The New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles in January 1972.Producer Alan Elliot joins us to talk about the “making of” and the resurrection of this remarkable display of raw talent and consuming passion, the 47-year long path that Amazing Grace has taken and how its arrival in theaters fulfills Aretha Franklin’s dying wish.
The Amazing Grace backstory
In 1972 Director Sydney Pollack (Tootsie, 3 Days of the Condor, Out of Africa) was inexperienced in shooting music documentary and shot without clapper boards snapping shut at the beginning of each take to help synchronize sound and picture in post-production. As a result of this mistake, even after months of work by experts, the 20 hours of footage couldn’t be synchronized with the audio tracks. The choir director from the Watts recordings was brought in to try to lip-read the reels, but after months of work, only about 150 minutes of footage had been matched with sound, none of it adding up to a complete, useable song. Deadlines passed as the “Amazing Grace” album came out in June 1972, selling millions with no synergy. In August, Warner Bros. officially wrote off and shelved the movie. Pollack never gave up on the project, but constantly had other commitments. In 2007, dying of cancer, Pollack finally handed the documentary project over to producer and music enthusiast Producer Alan Elliott.
CRITIC’S PICK: “Nonetheless, from a distance, this is obviously one of the great music films, less epic in scope than, say, “The Last Waltz” but as glorious in communal feeling and South Los Angeles zeal as “Wattstax” (the natural partner for a double feature) and as musically imaginative as “Stop Making Sense.” What distinguishes “Amazing Grace,” what lifts it to the penthouse, is a mix of energy and moment…You get both the most lovely gaze a professional camera’s ever laid upon Aretha Franklin and some of the mightiest singing she’s ever laid on you. The woman practically eulogizes herself. Don’t bother with tissues. Bring a towel.” – Wesley Morris, NEW YORK TIMES
“The two nights of filmed performances find Franklin-accompanied by the Reverend James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir-in spectacular voice and prolific imagination. Her rapturous power and intense concentration are revealed in long, urgent closeups that seem to reflect even the cinematographers’ awed astonishment. The film is a triumph of timeless artistry over transitory obstacles; its very existence is a secular miracle.” – Richard Brody, NEW YORKER
” … A captivating artifact, the rare making-of documentary that doesn’t just comment on but completely merges with its subject. The lift-you-to-the-rafters intensity of Franklin’s voice remains so pure and galvanic that “Amazing Grace” is one of the few movies you could watch with your eyes closed, though you would hardly want to.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
The gripping new documentary Roll Red Roll goes behind the headlines on a story that grabbed the national attention seven years ago. At a pre-season football party in small-town Steubenville, Ohio, a heinous crime took place: the assault of a teenage girl by members of the beloved high school football team. What transpired would garner national attention and result in the sentencing of two key offenders. But it was the disturbing social media evidence uncovered online by crime blogger Alex Goddard that provoked the most powerful questions about the case, and about the collusion of teen bystanders, teachers, parents and coaches to protect the assailants and discredit the victim. As it painstakingly reconstructs the night of the crime and its aftermath, Roll Red Roll uncovers the engrained rape culture at the heart of the incident, acting as a cautionary tale about what can happen when teenage social media bullying runs rampant and adults look the other way. The film unflinchingly asks: “why didn’t anyone stop it?” Director Nancy Schwartzman joins us to talk about life in a town where high school football is king, a “boys will be boys” ethos that can easily morph into a rape culture and how a few brave women said no more.
“A tough but essential watch, “Roll Red Roll” documents how a sexual assault in a declining Appalachian town became an international cause célèbre.” – Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times
“Nancy Schwartzman’s devastating real-life thriller documents a shocking sexual assault in a tight-knit community, and the role of social media in compounding the felony but also helping to solve it” – Peter Howell, Toronto Star
“Documentaries don’t usually horrify the oxygen out of me, but I found myself gulping for air more than once during Roll Red Roll.” – Lena Wilson, Slate
“Roll Red Roll is often hard to watch, but [director Nancy] Schwartzman handles the subject matter with respect, grace, insight, and even hope.” – Erika W. Smith, Bust Magazine
When Steve Bannon left his position as White House chief strategist less than a week after the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017, he was already a notorious figure in Trump’s inner circle, and for bringing a far-right ideology into the highest echelons of American politics. Unconstrained by an official post – though some say he still has a direct line to the White House – he became free to peddle influence as a perceived kingmaker, turning his controversial brand of nationalism into a global movement. Alison Klayman’s THE BRINK follows Bannon through the 2018 mid-term elections in the United States, shedding light on his efforts to mobilize and unify far-right parties in order to win seats in the May 2019 European Parliamentary elections. To maintain his power and influence, the former Goldman Sachs banker and media investor reinvents himself – as he has many times before – this time as the self-appointed leader of a global populist movement. Keen manipulator of the press and gifted self-promoter, Bannon continues to draw headlines and protests wherever he goes, feeding the powerful myth on which his survival relies. Director and Cinematographer Alison Klayman (Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry, On Her Shoulders) joins us for a conversation on gaining access and the confidence of a man who has maneuvered his way into the darkest corners of white-wing global brinksmanship.
“The Brink” is an impeccably crafted verité ramble – an engaging and enraging, disturbing and highly revealing movie…” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“What makes The Brink so different from just another platform for this professional troll? Though Klayman sticks to a largely vérité approach of following her subject around and observing his various interactions, she also provides important context.” – Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine / Vulture
Just out of high school, at the age of 18, Miles Lagoze enlisted in the Marine Corps. Lagoze was deployed to Afghanistan where he served as Combat Camera — his unit’s official videographer, tasked with shooting and editing footage for the Corps’ recruiting purposes and historical initiatives. But upon discharging, Lagoze took all the footage he and his fellow cameramen shot, and he assembled quite simply the very documentary the Corps does not want you to see. COMBAT OBSCURA is a groundbreaking look at daily life in a war zone as told by the Marines themselves. More than a mere compilation of violence, the edit ingeniously repurposes the original footage to reveal the intensity and paradoxes of an ambiguous war from an unvarnished perspective. Director Miles Lagoze joins us to talk about his deployment in America’s longest war, adapting to a whipsaw life of boredom, camaraderie and death and training to become a filmmaker via the United States Marine Corp.
“The beauty of the film is its realness. All the footage is taken directly from his camera. Lagoze went on to compile all the events he felt were representative of his experience. He shows the gun fights, the cursing, the shouting, the laughter, the fear and the hostility of the men in the war. Nothing is withheld.”Jessica Duffield, VOX MAGAZINE
“War is not fought but lived, and this is as close to first-person as one can get without being there. COMBAT OBSCURA sinks deeper into darkness as it progresses, as the utter pointlessness and futility of America’s presence in Afghanistan overwhelms the troops. While we are initially invited to empathize with the Marines, their jokey comradery gives way to vicious menace. There is no apparent mission, just a loop of injuries and reprisals against an amorphous outside threat. The final two scenes are a despairing diptych. In the first, the men realize they’ve killed an unarmed shopkeeper and plot to cover it up. In the second, one of them is seriously wounded in a firefight and they scramble to get him airlifted to aid. There is no point to any of it, just horror. That is all there is to this war, and no uplifting words will ameliorate it.” – Daniel Schindel, THE FILM STAGE
“This Marine-made war documentary is so raw the corps doesn’t want you to see it. One of most genuine looks at what the Forever War was like for those who waged it.”James Clark, TASK AND PURPOSE
Joseph Pulitzer’s New York newspaper, The World, would transform American media and make him wealthy, admired and feared. Throughout his four decades as a reporter and publisher, he created a powerful artistic vehicle that spoke to an unprecedented number of readers. Towards the end of his life, both sickly and blind, Pulitzer’s commitment to fearless reporting would tested by the most powerful person in American life. Pulitzer is an American icon who spoke of “fake news” over one hundred years ago. He fought the dangers that the suppression of news had for a democracy long before our present threats to press freedom. While he is remembered for the prizes that bear his name, his own heroic battles in the face of grave illness and Presidential ire have been forgotten as has the artistry and game changing originality he brought to newspapers. How did Joseph Pulitzer, once a penniless young Jewish immigrant from Hungary, come to challenge a popular president and fight for freedom of the press as essential to our democracy? Adam Driver narrates the film. Liev Schreiber is the voice of Pulitzer. Tim Blake Nelson is the voice of Teddy Roosevelt and Rachel Brosnahan is the voice of Nelly Bly.Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People Director and Producer Oren Rudavsky is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and several National Endowment for the Humanities and National Endowment for the Arts grants. Rudavsky produced Witness Theater a film chronicling a Self help organized workshop between holocaust survivors and high-school students which will premiere in 2019. His previous films Colliding Dreams co-directed with Joseph Dorman, and The Ruins of Liftaco-directed with Menachem Daum, were released theatrically in 2016. Colliding Dreamswas broadcast on PBS in May 2018.Director Oren Rudavsky joins us for a conversation on the indispensable role Joseph Pulitzer played in the development of America’s crown jewel, freedom of the press.
“Summarizing the great strides he made for journalism without ignoring his colorful flaws, Oren Rudavsky’s Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People is an excellent primer, not just on the man but on the birth of the modern newspaper.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
“Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People serves as a profile of the publishing giant and an important lesson on freedom of the press.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
“Newspapers have been going downhill ever since the days of “yellow journalism” but this film about one of its masters demonstrates that documentaries are better than ever.” – Louis Proyect, Counterpunch.org
For years, roller-skating rinks have been a constant for African-American communities across the U.S., serving as a meeting ground, a place to have fun and an incubator of iconic hip-hop talents like Queen Latifah and N.W.A. As America’s last standing roller rinks are threatened with closure, a community joins forces in a racially charged environment to save the underground African-American subculture of roller skating, which has been overlooked by the mainstream for generations – yet has given rise to some of the world’s greatest musical talents. From executive producer John Legend and first-time directors Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown, the documentary UNITED SKATES highlights the dynamic world of roller skating, showcasing African-American rinks and skaters across the country as they fight to keep the culture alive and skate their hearts out. The film features interviews with hip-hop legends like Salt-N-Pepa, Coolio, Vin Rock of Naughty by Nature and World Class Wreckin’ Cru. UNITED SKATES spotlights three skaters fighting for their community: L.A. native Phelicia, a single mom who grew up in skates and hopes to keep skating alive for her children; North Carolinian Reggie, who lives hours from any rink that offers a night for black skaters and vows to launch his own; and Buddy Love, the owner of Chicago-based Rich City Skate, who struggles to keep his rink open, despite financial pressure. Co-directors Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler stop by to talk about their infectious and insightful look at a facet of African-American life in danger of fading away.
“This kaleidoscopically vibrant, essential-viewing survey plunges audiences into a dazzling underground scene, celebrating the endangered art form it finds there.” – Peter Debruge, Variety
“This is a passion project in the best sense of the word, a movie in which the ingenuity and dedication of the filmmakers illuminate the same qualities in their subjects.” – Two Bugbee, New York Times
“…[an] exceedingly entertaining and genuinely revealing look into a roller-skating subculture that I frankly knew next to nothing about.” – Daniel Nava, Chicago Cinema Circuit
“This is a film that paints a humanizing portrait of an endangered form of expression, risked at the hands of the micro-racism and economic tribulations faced by the African-American community.” – Laura Birnbaum, Film Inquiry
In November 1940, days after the Nazis sealed 450,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, a secret band of journalists, scholars and community leaders decided to fight back. Led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum and known by the code name Oyneg Shabes, this clandestine group vowed to defeat Nazi lies and propaganda not with guns or fists but with pen and paper. Now, for the first time, their story is told as a feature documentary. Written, produced and directed by Roberta Grossman, based upon the book Who Will Write Our History? by Samuel D. Kassow, and executive produced by Nancy Spielberg, Who Will Write Our History mixes the writings of the Oyneg Shabes archive with new interviews, rarely seen footage, and stunning dramatizations (shot on location in Lodz and Warsaw, Poland) to transport us inside the Ghetto and the lives of these courageous resistance fighters. They defied their murderous enemy with the ultimate weapon – the truth – and risked everything so that their archive would survive the war, even if they did not. Featuring the voices of three-time Academy Award nominee Joan Allen and Academy Award winner Adrian Brody, the film honors the Oyneg Shabes members’ determination in creating the most important cache of eyewitness accounts to survive the war. Director / producer / writer Roberta Grossman joins us to talk about how her passion for social justice led her to Emanuel Ringelblum and what Who Will Write Our History can teaches about the world we live in today.
“A vital and sobering documentary” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“Who Will Write Our History tells the courageous but mostly unknown story of a covert group known as Oyneg Shabes and how they vowed to defeat the Nazis with pen and paper.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
“The staged scenes are well acted, while readings from diaries and letters are heartbreaking.” – Ken Jaworowski, New York Times
“A deeply moving history-behind-the-history.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
Lois Vossen is the Executive Producer of Independent Lens and has been with the show since its inception as a primetime series on PBS. Lois is responsible for commissioning new films, programming the series and working with filmmakers on editorial and broadcast issues. Independent Lens films have received 17 Emmy Awards, 16 George Foster Peabody Awards, five Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Journalism Awards and eight Academy Award nominations. The series was honored in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 with the International Documentary Association (IDA) Award for Best Series. Before joining ITVS, Lois was the Associate Managing Director of Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Labs. Lois is a member of the Television Academy Board of Governors, representing the documentary branch. She has served on the jury at Shanghai Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, SXSW, DOC New Zealand and Palm Springs International Film Festival, among others. Under her leadership, films funded or co-produced by Independent Lens include I Am Not Your Negro, Always in Season, Bedlam, One Child Nation, Black Memorabilia, The King, People’s Republic of Desire, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, TOWER, Newtown, Best of Enemies, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, (T)ERROR, The House I Live In, The Invisible War, and The Trials of Muhammad Ali, among many others. Widely regarded as one of the most influential supporters of independent and documentary filmmaking, Lois Vossen joins us for a conversation on the role that Independent Lens /POV and Public Broadcasting has had in maintaining the highest standards for innovative storytelling in non-fiction cinema.
Acclaimed photographer RaMell Ross, 2019 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary,has made his directorial debut with one of the most critically-acclaimed films of the year — Hale County This Morning, This Evening. An inspired and intimate portrait of a place and its people, the film looks at the lives of two young African American men from rural Alabama over the course of five years. Daniel Collins attends college in search of opportunity while Quincy Bryant becomes a father to an energetic son in this open-ended, poetic film without a traditional narrative. Distilling life to its essence, the film invites the audience to experience the mundane and the monumental, birth and death, the quotidian and the sublime. These moments combine to communicate the region’s deep culture and provide glimpses of the complex ways the African American community’s collective image is integrated into America’s visual imagination.. RaMell Ross met Quincy when he was teaching in a GED program in Greensboro, Alabama, and met Daniel when he was coaching basketball at a local high school. He shot over 1300 hours of footage over five years, which was then edited down into the final film. Director RaMell Ross stops by to talk about his meticulously assembled, ethereal ode to Black lives in Hale County, Alabama.
“At every juncture, Ross elects for ambiguity and poses a question to the viewer to answer how black bodies are viewed, encouraging the audience to perform the labour of challenging their expectations.” – Melissa Vincent, Globe and Mail
“You could call it a transcendental scrapbook, because it wipes away the muck of subjectivity that guides most movies. It turns the audience into direct receptors of experience.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“…the cinematic equivalent of a memory quilt, woven together with a deep love of community, comprised of intimate though disparate moments from others’ lives, and poetically comforting despite its historically weighty components.” – Jordan M. Smith, Film School Rejects
“Hale County is the type of film designed to violate common rules of cinema. Story gives way to lyricism; there’s little dialogue, minimal plot, minutes upon minutes of pastoral imagery…Ross’s lens captures a reality that’s rarely seen by the human eye.” – Natalia Winkelman, The Daily Beast
“It’s not every day that you witness a new cinematic language being born, but watching RaMell Ross’s evocatively titled documentary Hale County, This Morning, This Evening qualifies.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice
’63 Boycott is the award-winning film directed by Gordon Quinn, the co-founder of Kartemquin Films, and produced by Rachel Dickson and Tracye A. Matthews. ’63 Boycott revisits October 22, 1963, when more than 250,000 students boycotted the Chicago Public Schools to protest racial segregation. Many marched through the city calling for the resignation of School Superintendent Benjamin Willis, who placed trailers, dubbed ‘Willis Wagons,’ on playgrounds and parking lots of overcrowded black schools rather than let them enroll in nearby white schools. Blending unseen 16mm footage of the march shot by Gordon Quinn when he was just 21 years old with the participants’ reflections today, ’63 Boycott connects the forgotten story of one of the largest northern civil rights demonstrations to contemporary issues around race, education, school closings, and youth activism. Director Gordon Quinn joins us for a conversation on his lacerating look at the historic non-violent campaign to win access to educational parity and basic human rights.’63 Boycott is an overview of how much Chicago has changed and how much remains the same.
THE DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS is set in Eastern Ukraine on the frontline of the war. The film follows the life of 10-year-old Ukrainian boy Oleg throughout a year, witnessing the gradual erosion of his innocence beneath the pressures of war. Oleg lives with his beloved grandmother, Alexandra, in the small village of Hnutove. Having no other place to go, Oleg and Alexandra stay and watch as others leave the village. Life becomes increasingly difficult with each passing day, and the war offers no end in sight. In this now half-deserted village where Oleg and Alexandra are the only true constants in each other’s lives, the film shows just how fragile, but crucial, close relationships are for survival. Through Oleg’s perspective, the film examines what it means to grow up in a warzone. It portrays how a child’s universal struggle to discover what the world is about grows interlaced with all the dangers and challenges the war presents.THE DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS unveils the consequences of war bearing down on the children in Eastern Ukraine, and by natural extension, the scars and self- taught life lessons this generation will carry with them into the future. Director Simon Lereng Wilmont and Producer Monica Hellström stop by to talk about this harrowing, intimate and loving look at Oleg and Alexandra’s claustrophobic life on the frontlines of an undeclared war.
The New York Film Critics Circle was founded in 1935.The Circle’s membership includes critics from daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, magazines, and qualifying online general-interest publications. Every year in December the organization meets in New York to vote on awards for the previous calendar year’s films. For 65 years the New York Film Critics Circle has consistently recognized, championed, and defended films that may otherwise have been slighted by audiences and the entertainment industry. Founded in part as a response to the Academy Awards’s sometimes dubious selections for the annual best in cinema, the NYFCC has from the start prided itself on striving to recognize a higher standard of film.The Circle’s awards are often viewed as harbingers of the Oscar nominations, which are announced each February. The Circle’s awards are also viewed, perhaps more accurately, as a principled alternative to the Oscars, honoring aesthetic merit in a forum that is immune to commercial and political pressures. A complete list of previous winners is available on this site, along with a list of current members with links to their publications.NYFCC Chair Eric Kohn (IndieWire ) and Vice Chair Alison Willmore (Buzzfeed) join us to break down the top films of 2018 and the ever changing landscape of the film criticism industry.
Eric Kohnis the New York-based Deputy Editor & Chief Critic at Indiewire, where he has worked since 2007. In addition to overseeing operations for IndieWire‘s New York film team, he reviews numerous films throughout the year and reports on the industry. Kohn travels to film festivals around the globe, interviews filmmakers, and manages Indiewire’s network for professional film critics, the Criticwire Network. He also oversees the Critics Academy initiative, a series of educational workshops for aspiring entertainment journalists, and teaches film criticism at NYU. Prior to joining Indiewire, Eric contributed to The New York Times and other outlets.
The riveting and illuminating documentary, Islam and the Future of Tolerance follows prominent atheist philosopher Sam Harris and Islamist-turned-liberal-Muslim Maajid Nawaz, after publicly clashing in a debate over the concept of Islamic reform in the Muslim world. The two men reconnect several years later in an attempt at civil and honest dialogue. Sam and Maajid attempt to explore their real or imagined divides by clearly and rationally dissecting their disagreements. Through the course of their discussions, they tackle troubling passages from the Quran, the importance of the precision of language and terms (such as “Jihadism,” “Islamists,” and “radical,”) and the difficulty in finding helpful and honest responses in a fraught political terrain. Ultimately, this unlikely collaboration sheds light on the many confusions that afflict the public conversation about Islam and emphasizes how the virtues of open dialogue can help foster both understanding and tolerance in an increasingly polarized world.
Sam Harris entered life as a public intellectual after 9/11 and soon found himself regarded as a leading voice of the “New Atheist” movement, along with Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett. He spent much of the next decade writing books such as The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation,and The Moral Landscape and publicly engaging religious scholars and apologists in highly contentious conversations.
Maajid Nawaz was arrested and thrown into an Egyptian prison, where he spent four years before beginning his slow journey out of radical Islamism. By the time he emerged, he had decided to dedicate his life’s work to reforming Islam from within. He started Quilliam, a counter-extremism organization.
Islam and the Future of Tolerance tells the story of an unlikely conversation on a topic of grave importance, and how it changed two foes into friends. Director Jay Shapiro joins us to talk about his engaging and enlightening documentary.
“For these reasons and more, the film serves as a rewarding introductory course to the school of thought that Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz are a part of.” – Hunter Lanier, Film Threat
“Anyone can wrangle a group of talking heads in front of a camera or audience to bloviate on the merits of religious belief, but Avila and Shapiro’s purposes are more urgent and pressing.” – Nathanael Hood, The Young Folks
“A talkative film in which the very act of talking about this subject is a first tiny victory.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“Nevertheless, in a society that’s always demanding that minorities do the hard work of explaining themselves, only to deny them the chance to do so, this is a bold attempt to do things differently.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY is a solo acoustic performance written and performed by Tony Award, Academy Award, and 20-time Grammy Award winner Bruce Springsteen. Based on his worldwide best-selling autobiography Born to Run and nothing short of the theater event of the year, SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY is a unique evening with Bruce, his guitar, a piano, and own stories—including a special appearance by Patti Scialfa. The intimate performance features personal anecdotes and songs including “Born to Run,” “Thunder Road” and “Brilliant Disguise.”SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY was filmed live for Netflix at Jujamcyn’s Walter Kerr Theatre and directed and produced by Emmy Award-winner Thom Zimny (“Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Live in New York City (2001)”). In addition to Zimny, the Netflix original special is produced by the same team that produced “Springsteen On Broadway,” including Springsteen manager Jon Landau, Springsteen tour director George Travis, and Landau Management partner Barbara Carr. DirectorThom Zimny joins us for a conversation on his working relationship with one of the singular musical artist in recording history and the challenge of capturing the intimacy of a live, Broadway experience.
“Springsteen has mastered the dynamics needed to keep a mostly talking, partly singing show riveting for a running time that’s epic by monologists’ standards, if not his own.” – Chris Willman, Variety
“For nearly three hours, Springsteen jokes, rails, wails, and yes, plays his heart out, providing an achingly raw, often disarmingly honest breakdown of his life.” – Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm
“Not only does “Springsteen on Broadway” work on its own as a Netflix special, it gives you all the same feels seeing the show live at the Walter Kerr Theater brought out.” – Joey Madison, AwarsCircuit.com
AVICII: TRUE STORIES, a compelling new documentary film by Levan Tsikurishvili, reveals the unvarnished truth behind the success of Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and artist Avicii (A.K.A. Tim Bergling). One of the world’s highest grossing live music artists whose seemingly sudden decision last year to quit doing live shows came as a complete shock to his fans and the industry. The film traces the artist/DJ’s life from his beginnings, all the way to the joy of his success, from his chart-topping global radio hits and subsequent struggles with his physical and mental health. Tsikurishvili followed Bergling for over four years, and captured fly-on-the-wall footage of his experiences and thinking. Featuring appearances by colleagues such as Chris Martin, Nile Rodgers, David Guetta, Tiësto and Wyclef Jean, AVICII: TRUE STORIES is a cautionary tale that explores the taxing nature and intensity of fame from the artist’s point of view as much as it is a film for Avicii’s die-hard fans.
I wanted to do a brutally honest film about Tim as a person and not only about Avicii. Everybody knows Avicii but very few people know Tim. I think this documentary really shows Tim’s struggle and strength of character. Being a worldwide superstar artist is not as easy as it looks on Instagram. – Director Levan Tsikurishvili
Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes deftly fuses the personal, the political and the just plain surreal as it charts the origin, rise and downfall of Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. Variously called a bulldog, a kingmaker, and the Ernest Hemingway of campaign advisors, Ailes was the wizard of Oz. But he collected talent like dolls, and became consumed by paranoia about his own personal security. The son of a factory foreman, Ailes had a hand in political campaigns in almost every state in the country. He was a key advisor over the last half century to presidents Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush. When President Obama called him “the most powerful man in media” he basked in the glow, and posed smiling alongside the Democratic president he had done everything to undermine. Ailes fashioned Fox News into a ratings powerhouse, with more viewers than all its direct competitors, combined. But he was forced out by the Murdoch family in 2016, amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment. How did a tap-dancing hemophiliac become one of the most powerful and divisive executives in American media? Director and producer Alexis Bloom (Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds) stops by to talk about one of America’s seminal figures and how he has shaped the destiny of the Republican Party and the future of American democracy.
“Ultimately, “Divide and Conquer” offers useful lessons – and maybe even a little hope – for people on both sides of the national divide, about just how we came to this terrible, but not irreversible, place.” – Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post
“Alexis Bloom’s keenly insightful and deeply depressing documentary is probably best viewed not as a record of the past but a document of what’s to come.” – Chris Barsanti, Slant Magazine
“A well-made documentary that leaves you with the imprint of Roger Ailes’ domineering arrogance, and the way he used it to shape American political reality and, finally, the world.” – Owen
In an increasingly digital universe where live streamers earn as much as $200,000 a month, can virtual relationships replace real-life human connection? PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF DESIRE tells the stories of two such online stars who have risen from isolation to fame and fortune on NASDAQ-listed YY, China’s largest live streaming platform.Live-streaming showrooms have become virtual gathering places for hundreds of millions – from the super rich who lavish these online stars with digital gifts, to poor migrant workers who exhaust meager savings idolizing them. All of these characters are brought together in a series of bizarre online talent competitions, where they discover that happiness in their virtual world may be as elusive as in the real one. Director Hao Wu talks with us about his mind-boggling, high-energy documentary that chronicles a technical /social revolution taking place in the world’s most populous country.
WINNER – Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature at SXSW
WINNER – Grand Jury Award for International Doc at Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
WINNER – Best Cinematography at CAAMFest
WINNER – Best International Director at Doc Edge Festival
96% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Tragic and terrifying in equal measure, Hao Wu’s look at China’s live-streaming culture offers a dark window into our collective future.” – IndieWire
“Provocative and unsettling as it brings us on a guided tour through the digital marketplace for something resembling human contact.” – Variety
“Yes, Black Mirror is already here.” – Ars Technica
“The ability of “People’s Republic of Desire” to show these familiar desires playing out in futuristic surroundings is invariably surprising and never less than compelling.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“A microcosm of the bizarre fantasy economy and complex, parasitic interdependencies of late capitalism as a whole.” – Katie Rife, AV Club