MLK/FBI – Director Sam Pollard

MLK/FBI is the first film to uncover the extent of the FBI’s surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Based on newly discovered and declassified files, utilizing a trove of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and unsealed by the National Archives, as well as revelatory restored footage, the documentary explores the government’s history of targeting Black activists, and the contested meaning behind some of our most cherished ideals. MLK/FBI is an essential expose of the surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (labeled by the FBI as the “most dangerous” Black person in America), undertaken by J. Edgar Hoover and the U.S. government. Featuring interviews with key cultural figures including former FBI Director James Comey, MLK/FBI tells this astonishing and tragic story with searing relevance to our current moment. Directed by Emmy® Award-winner and Oscar®-nominee Sam Pollard, MLK/FBI recounts a tragic story with searing relevance to our current moment. Sam Pollard joins us for a conversation on how incredibly important Dr. King work and influence continues to illuminate every aspect of race relations, criminal justice, housing, wealth inequality, education access and political leadership.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: mlkfbi.com

Sam Pollard is an Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated director and producer. His films for HBO, PBS, and the Discovery Channel include the documentaries Four Little Girls, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, Slavery by Another Name, Sammy Davis, Jr.: I Gotta Be Me, ACORN and the Firestorm, Why We Hate, and Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children.  Pollard also directed two episodes of the groundbreaking series Eyes on the Prize. Since 1994 Pollard has served on the faculty of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and lives in New York City.

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WINNER – Visionaries Tribute Lifetime Achievement Award 2020
WINNER – Career Achievement Award – IDA Documentary Award 2021
WINNER – Best Archival Doc – Critics Choice Documentary Awards 2020
NOMINEE – Best Feature – IDA Documentary Awards 2021
NOMINEE – Best Director – IDA Documentary Awards 2021
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Double Exposure Investigative FF 2020
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Masters – DOC NYC 2020

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“RIVETING. A timely reminder that King’s struggle for racial justice wasn’t straightforward, nor is it close to complete.” – THE ATLANTIC, David Sims

“A blunt fable of state power and a nuanced essay on the fallibility of heroes and the ethics of historical inquiry. Rigorously focused on the facts of the past, the movie is also as timely as an alarm clock.” – THE NEW YORK TIMES, A.O. Scott

“SEARING. Serves as a chilling reminder that white supremacy is not solely a partisan problem; it’s a cruelty baked into the fabric of our political system, poisoning it at every level. Change comes when we allow ourselves to challenge the stories we have been told about our history.” – THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, Jourdain Searles

“It’s an argument for the humanity of our revolutionaries, flaws and all, a humanity that has been either systematically denied, or weaponized against them.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

Film Maudit 2.0 – Executive Director Leo Garcia and Artistic Director Patrick Kennelly

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.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: filmmaudit.org

All films at the festival are free and available online January 12 through 24. Reservations are required and can be made for each program via Film Maudit 2.0’s Screening Portal: filmmaudit.org/filmmaudit

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

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Night Stalker – Director Tiller Russell

The Netflix limited docu-series Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer tells the spellbinding true story of how one of the most notorious serial killers in American history was hunted down and brought to justice. In the sweltering summer of 1985, a record-breaking heatwave hit Los Angeles, along with a series of murders and sexual assaults that at first seemed disconnected. The victims were men, women, and children. They ranged in age from six to 82, coming came from different neighborhoods, racial backgrounds and socioeconomic levels. Never before in criminal history had a single killer been responsible for such a grisly array of crimes.  Racing against the clock to stop this nocturnal monster were a young detective named Gil Carrillo from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the legendary homicide investigator Frank Salerno. As they worked tirelessly to solve the case, the media hounded their tracks, and panic gripped California.  Told through harrowing first-person interviews, gripping archival footage and spectacular original photography, this four-part series represents the definitive telling of this iconic L.A. real-life horror story, painting a portrait of how it felt to live in fear at a time when absolutely anyone could be the Night Stalker’s next victim. Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer director Tiller Russell joins us to talk about his deep dive into truly terrifying chapter of Southern California history, capturing the palpable fear that gripped and connected so many communities in 1985 and the people who brought Richard Ramirez to justice.

 

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To watch go to: netflix.com/nightstalker

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Beautiful Something Left Behind – Director Katrine Philp

Life-affirming and profound, BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING LEFT BEHIND beautifully captures the heartbreaking, mundane and even the funny moments in the lives of several young children who have recently lost one or both parents. The Good Grief community in New Jersey focuses on a holistic approach to mourning, where children can give in to rage in ‘the volcano room’ or say goodbye to a dying teddy bear patient in ‘the hospital room.’ Over the course of a year, we get close to Kimmy, Nicky, Peter, Nora, Nolan and Mikayla along with their constant companion: grief, as they attend their weekly group meetings at Good Grief, practice small rituals to remember their loved ones, and go about the daily work of living. Filmmaker Katrine Philp keeps the camera and the point-of-view firmly on the children and while it is sometimes deeply sad, it’s also at times humorous to experience questions about life and death through their open and curious minds. Director Katrine Philp joins us to talk about gaining the trust of the Good Grief community, the unfettered way the children interact with one another, the loss of her own father during the making of Something Beautiful and how all of it informed the making of the film.

 

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For news and updates go to: goodcompanypictures.com/beautiful-something-left-behind

About the filmmaker – Katrine Philp is an award-winning director who graduated from The National Film School of Denmark in 2009. Her first film, ‘Book of Miri’, was awarded the President´s Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, nominated at IDFA and won the European Young CIVIS Media Prize in Germany. In 2014 Katrine won the Audience Award at the American Documentary Film Festival for her debut feature length documentary ‘Dance For Me’ which was also selected for POV on PBS in 2014.  The film was also nominated for an Emmy Award in the category ‘Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming’ 2015. She directed ‘Home Sweet Home’ in 2015 – produced with Good Company Pictures (Winner of the Danish Film Academy’s Award 2016 for Best Short Documentary, IDFA, TIFF Kids), then ‘False Confessions’ in 2018 (award Winner at CPH:DOX, Nominated as best Nordic Documentary at Nordic Panorama, winner of Special Jury Prize at LA film festival. TV2 prime time). Beautiful Something Left Behind is her latest film which won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW 2020. To find out more go to:  goodcompanypictures.com/katrine-philp

WINNER – SXSW 2020 – Best Documentary Feature

OFFICIAL SELECTION – Winner’s Circle – 2020 DOC NYC

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“Beautiful Something Left Behind” is a simple, elegant documentary about children coping with… heartbreaking loss, at a facility designed especially for them.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times

“Very emotional. Heart warming and uplifting.” – FILM THREAT

“There are no manufactured moments of intense grief, just the day-to-day activities of parents, caregivers, and children doing their best to move on from the trauma they’ve experienced.” – Audrey Fox, JumpCut Online

“Katrine Philp’s lens gracefully avoids emotional manipulation, allowing the heartbreaking stories of its children and their process to take center stage” – THE FILM STAGE

Sing Me a Song – Director Thomas Balmès

Award-winning director/producer Thomas Balmès’ returns to one of his beloved Happiness (2014) subjects, Peyangki, now a teenaged Buddhist monk living in a rural (yet Wi-Fi equipped) monastery in Bhutan, absorbed in the wonders of the world that are a simple click away. The structured daily village rituals of prayer and candle lighting now compete with the powerful lure of smartphones and TV.  Apps for chats and dating introduce the monks to girls and violent video games, neither of which quite line up with the traditional vows of the monks. Peyangki is passionate about love songs and forms a relationship over an app, WeChat, with a young singer (Ugyen) in the “big city” of Thimphu. Distracted and disinterested in study, and often scolded by his masters and mother, he sells medicinal mushrooms to make enough money to leave the monastery and travel to Ugyen. Peyangki trades in his robes for street clothes, but will he succumb to romance and the temptations of the city or return to his pious life in the monastery? Director Thomas Balmès (Babies, Christ Comes to Papuans, A Decent Factory) joins us to talk about his nuanced portrait of a young man’s introduction to the world, offers us an eye-opening snapshot of the effects of technology, and challenges us to reassess our perceptions of self-worth and beliefs in an age of unparalleled connectivity.

 

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For news and updates go to: thomasbalmes.com/sing-me-a-song

About the filmmaker – Thomas Balmès directed his first film in 1996; BOSNIA HOTEL was the story of U.N. Kenyan peacekeepers in Bosnia. Thomas Balmès has been working as an independent director and producer of nonfiction films, specializing in international co-productions, since 1992. His initial projects included studies of filmmakers James Ivory and Michelangelo Antonioni. This was followed by MAHARAJAH BURGER; Mad Cows; Holy Cows, about the mad cow crisis as seen from the Indian perspective. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE PAPUANS (2000) following the conversion to Christianity of a Papuan Chief, was honored with the Silver Spire Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival. He directed a sequel in Papua the following year, WAITING FOR JESUS. A DECENT FACTORY, the story of a Nokia executive who inspects a mobile phone factory in China, was screened at more than 50 film festivals and received many honors, including a Europa Award. The film was released theatrically in the U.S. in 2005. DAMAGES, a.k.a. How Much Is Your Life Worth?, was filmed at a Connecticut law firm specializing in personal injury cases, and was co-produced by 15 countries and broadcast worldwide. Thomas initiated a series for national Japanese television : NHK, Tokyo Modern; and produced (A NORMAL LIFE – CHRONICLE OF A SUMO Wrestler), directed by Jill Coulon, which screened at Amsterdam’s 2009 International Documentary Film Festival. He is regularly invited to conduct lectures and master classes in France and abroad such as Brown University, the Watson Institute, Lisbon International Film Festival. His next film, BABIES takes a look at one year in the life of four babies from around the world, from Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo. Happiness reflects the impact of the arrival of television in a small Himalayan village. Through the eyes of an eight years old monk named Peyangki, praying eagerly for a TV set, we see the last village of Bhutan going through the process of globalization. The film won the Documentary World Cinema Cinematography Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. For more go to: thomasbalmes.com

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90% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Balmès has greater profundity in mind when disseminating astute observations about how modern necessities and communicative devices impact cultures and ecosystems.” – Courtney Howard, Variety

“Balmès doesn’t arrive at easy, scathing conclusions about the internet. Instead, he lets the camera journey to unexpected places, leading to a different kind of meditation that strikes with deep emotional resonance…” – Kristen Yoonsoo Kim, New York Times

“Even if we see “trouble” the minute we spy that first phone, we don’t necessarily guess how this fascinating “speed of change” story will play out.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

“This film will not resolve the question of whether technological “progress” represents an advance or a decline in civilization, but it certainly will provoke conversations about that issue.” – Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter

Phoenix Rising – Co-directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui

RISING PHOENIX tells the extraordinary story of the Paralympic Games. From the rubble of World War II to the third biggest sporting event on the planet, the Paralympics sparked a global movement which continues to change the way the world thinks about disability, diversity & human potential.The film features breathtaking footage and compelling interviews with several Medal-Winning Paralympians including Tatyana McFadden (Para Athletics, United States), Bebe Vio (Wheelchair Fencing), Jean-Baptiste Alaize (Para Long Jump), Ntando Mahlangu (Para Track & Field), Matt Stutzman (Para Archery, United States), Jonnie Peacock (Para Sprint Runner), Ryley Batt (Para Wheelchair Ruby), Ellie Cole (Para Swimming), and Cui Zhe (Powerlifting). It also features an interview with Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex. RISING PHOENIX Co-directors Peter Ettedgui and Ian Bonhôte makers of the BAFTA nominated McQueen, join us to talk about remarkable athletes who have worked most of their lives to fulfill the dream of being an Olympic champion as well as the story of the ParaOlympic founder, Ludwig Guttman, a Jewish doctor who rescued people from Nazi camps and believed in the power of community to heal and empower.

 

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To watch go to: netflix.com/Rising Phoenix

To coincide with the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the film team have launched an educational website for RISING PHOENIX that includes a down-loadable Education Guide, providing a framework and resources to enable teachers to delve deeper into the subject matter in the classroom.

About the filmmaker – Peter Ettedgui’s ‘Rising Phoenix’ marks Peter’s second feature documentary as writer and director with Ian Bonhôte, following their collaboration on ‘McQueen’ in 2018. Described as “supremely engrossing and elegant” by Variety, the film was nominated for two Baftas (British Film and Documentary). Previously, Peter had cut his teeth in the non-fiction arena as writer of ‘Everything Or Nothing’ (the story of James Bond) and ‘Listen to Me, Marlon’ (a film biography of Marlon Brando told through the actor’s audio archive), for which Peter was the recipient of a Peabody Award and the IDA (Independent Documentary Award) for best writing in a documentary. Peter began his career in narrative fiction. He worked as director’s assistant and co-writer to Ken Russell on a number of feature and television projects, before writing screenplays including the Bafta-nominated ‘Onegin’, an adaptation of Pushkin’s classic tale of unrequited love, which starred Ralph Fiennes and Liv Tyler. He went on to produce films such as ‘Kinky Boots’, starring Joel Edgerton and Chiwitel Ejiofor, which became a hit Broadway/West End musical, and ‘Unmade Beds’ for Film4.Beyond his work as writer and producer, Peter has worked extensively as a development consultant and story editor including on ‘Spectre’ the 2017 Bond movie.  For more go to: misfitsentertainment.com

About the filmmaker – IAN BONHÔTE is a two times BAFTA nominated director and producer for MCQUEEN, a feature documentary on Alexander McQueen the iconic fashion designer. RISING PHOENIX is Ian’s second documentary which he has co-written and co-directed alongside Peter Ettedgui. The film covers the story of the Paralympics from its humble beginning to becoming the third biggest sporting event in the world. Ian’s directorial debut, ALLEYCATS, was distributed internationally by Universal pictures in over 25 territories and by Filmmode in the US/Canada. Following this, Ian co-founded MISFITS ENTERTAINMENT alongside Andee Ryder, the producer of Alleycats. In 2018 Misfits Entertainment produced VIKING DESTINY, an action adventure film starring Terence Stamp. Prior to this, Ian co-founded PULSE FILMS in 2005 alongside Thomas Benski and Marisa Clifford. Pulse Films recently produced GANGS OF LONDON and AMERICAN HONEY (2016 Jury Prize Cannes Winner). The company is now a part of the VICE MEDIA GROUP. Ian has also directed international campaigns, music videos and fashion films for clients such as Puma, Nike, Pepsi, Mumford & Sons, Tom Jones, and fashion designers Matthew Williamson and Hussein Chalayan. For more go to: misfitsentertainment.com

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90% on Rotten Tomatoes

“‘Phoenix’ is a testament to resiliency, determination and passion, and is one of the best documentaries of 2020.” – Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News

“There are athletes all across the spectrum of sport who would kill to have a documentary portray them as heroic, epic and badass as Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui paint the superstars in “Rising Phoenix. – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

This is profoundly inspiring… It is an extraordinary look at what makes us human.” – Wade Major, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

“Gives sports fans a jolt of greatness, inspiration, history and drop-dead gorgeous photography” – Carole Horst, Variety

“Slick, rousing documentary” – Tim Grierson, Screen Daily

The Reason I Jump – Director Jerry Rothwell

THE REASON I JUMP is an immersive cinematic exploration of neuro-diversity through the experiences of non-speaking autistic people from around the world, based on the best-selling book by Naoki Higashida. The film blends Higashida’s revelatory insights into autism, written when he was just 13, with intimate portraits of five remarkable young people. It opens a window for audiences into an intense and overwhelming, but often joyful, sensory universe. Moments in the lives of each of the characters are linked by the journey of a young Japanese boy through an epic landscape; narrated passages from Naoki’s writing reflect on what his autism means to him and others, how his perception of the world differs, and why he acts in the way he does: the reason he jumps. THE REASON I JUMP distills these elements into a sensually rich tapestry that leads us to Naoki’s core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say. Director Jerry Rothwell stops by to talk about his deeply empathetic look into the lives of people with autism from around the world, with each story broadening our perspective and understanding of what it means to be a neuro-diverse person. 

 

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For news and updates go to: the-reason-i-jump

About the filmmaker – Jerry Rothwell is a filmmaker whose work includes the award-winning feature documentaries: The Reason I Jump, based on the bestselling book by Naoki Higashida; How To Change The World, about the founders of Greenpeace; Sour Grapes (co-directed with Reuben Atlas) a film about a wine counterfeiter Town of Runners, about two girls in an Ethiopian village who aspire to be athletes; Donor Unknown, about a sperm donor and his many offspring; School In The Cloud, about radical educationalist, Sugata Mitra; Heavy Load, about a group of people with learning disabilities who form a punk band, and Deep Water (co-directed with Louise Osmond), about Donald Crowhurst’s ill-fated voyage in the 1968 round the world yacht race. His work has won numerous accolades including two Grierson Awards, a Sundance Special Jury Prize, an RTS Award, the IDA Pare Lorentz Award and a BAFTA nomination.

About the writer (The Reason I Jump) – Naoki Higashida was born in Kimitsu, Japan in 1992. Diagnosed with severe autism when he was five, he subsequently learned to communicate using a handmade alphabet grid and began to write poems and short stories. At the age of thirteen he wrote The Reason I Jump, which was published in Japan in 2007. Its English translation came out in 2013, and it has now been published in more than thirty languages. Higashida has since published several books in Japan, including children’s and picture books, poems, and essays. He continues to give presentations throughout Japan about his experience of autism.

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WINNER – World Cinema Documentary Audience Award – Sundance FF 2020 
NOMINEE – Best Cinematography – Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards 2020
NOMINEE – Best Feature – IDA Documentary Awards 2020
NOMINEE – Best Director – IDA Documentary Awards 2020 NOMINEE – Best Documentary – British Independent Film Awards 2020

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Wondrous… A work that enlightens and informs but that is also ravishing

to behold.” – Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter

“While The Reason I Jump is a profound and moving experience, one that isn’t easy to forget, it’s most effective when operating as an experimental work.” – John Fink, The Film Stage

“An inventive, sensuous documentary worthy of its source… This compassionate, creative documentary will open ears and eyes in equal measure.” – Guy Lodge, Variety

“Exquisite… All aspects of this film deserve praise.” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen

Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults – Director Clay Tweel

Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults is a thorough examination of the infamous UFO cult through the eyes of its former members and loved ones. What started in 1975 with the disappearance of 20 people from a small town in Oregon, ended in 1997 with the largest suicide on US soil and changed the face of modern New Age religion forever. This HBO Max four-part docu-series uses never-before-seen footage and first-person accounts to explore the infamous UFO cult that shocked the nation with their out-of-this-world beliefs. Director and Producer Clay Tweel joins us for a rollicking conversation on one of the most sensational and compelling collection of intelligent, engaging, and spiritually inspired people to ever embrace a collection of beliefs, brought to them by former minister and natal nurse, that eventually led them to hitch a ride on an undetectable space ship heading for parts unknown.

 

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Heaven’s Gate: Cult of Cults can be seen on: hbomax.com

In the beginning… The son of a Presbyterian minister and a former soldier, Marshall Applewhite began his foray into biblical prophecy in the early 1970s. After being fired from the University of St. Thomas in HoustonTexas over an alleged relationship with one of his male students, he met Bonnie Nettles, a 44-year-old married nurse with an interest in theosophy and biblical prophecy, in March 1972. According to Applewhite’s writings, the two met in a hospital where she worked while he was visiting a sick friend there. It has been rumored that it was a psychiatric hospital, but Nettles was substituting for another nurse working with premature babies in the nursery.  Applewhite later recalled that he felt as though he had known Nettles for a long time and concluded that they had met in a past life. She told him their meeting had been foretold to her by extraterrestrials, persuading him that he had a divine assignment. – (from Wikipedia) 

About the filmmaker – Clay Tweel is a native Virginian living in Los Angeles, California. Clay is a documentary director/producer/editor with a passion for telling great character based stories. His works include Make Believe, Print the Legend, Finders Keepers, Out of Omaha and Gleason – the last of which was shortlisted for an Academy Award and named one of the 5 best documentaries of 2016 by the National Board of Review. His features have been distributed by Showtime, Netflix, and Amazon Studios while working closely with companies that include Open Road, The Orchard and Exhibit A. Most recently, Clay executive produced and directed all six episodes of The Innocent Man, a true crime doc series for Netflix based on John Grisham’s only non fiction book. He is currently directing a feature documentary and producing numerous projects under his banner Parkside Films. claytweel.com

About the filmmaker – Shannon Riggs is a producer with a diverse background in film spanning multiple genres and scales. Alongside award winning director Clay Tweel, she produced the Netflix 6 part docu-series, The Innocent Man, and the Academy Award shortlisted documentary Gleason. Recently Shannon produced The Smartest Kids In the World based on Amanda Ripley’s New York Times bestseller, which premiered at DOC NYC in 2018 and was directed by Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, Tracy Droz Tragos. Shannon was a Sundance Fellow and participant in their 2015  Female Filmmaker Initiative.  She is also honored to be a member of Women in Film and actively mentors young filmmakers through various industry programs.   She is currently producing a feature documentary and numerous projects under her banner Parkside Films with co-founder and director Clay Tweel.

86% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Heaven’s Gate: Cult of Cults is a thoughtful assessment of the mechanisms of how otherwise smart, savvy people are attracted to fringe beliefs. It takes a story that is larger than life and brings it solidly back to earth.” – Ashlie D. Stevens, Salon.com

“What The Cult Of Cults does very effectively is tell the story of the organization, showing why it attracted members and held onto them for so long.” – Joel Keller, Decider

“Viewers may bob in and out during the first few episodes, though it’s worth sticking out for the grand finale, as sickening as it is oddly poignant.” – Ryan Lattanzio, indieWire

“The human toll isn’t lost among the kooky, UFO-centric beliefs of Ti and Do’s followers.” – Beau North, The Spool

Finding Yingying – Jiayan “Jenny” Shi

FINDING YINGYING follows the nightmarish story of a 26-year-old Chinese student, Yingying Zhang, who comes to the U.S. to study. In her detailed and beautiful diaries, the aspiring young scientist and teacher is full of optimism, hoping to also be married and a mother someday. Within weeks of her arrival, Yingying disappears from the campus. Through exclusive access to Yingying’s family and boyfriend, Finding Yingying closely follows their journey as they search to unravel the mystery of her disappearance and seek justice for their daughter while navigating a strange, foreign country. But most of all, Finding Yingying is the story of who Yingying was: a talented young woman loved by her family and friends. Director Jiayan “Jenny” Shi joins us for a conversation on documenting a heartbreaking story, gaining the trust and confidence of a grieving family dealing with some very difficult truths.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: findingyingying.com

To watch the film go yo: findingyingying.com/see-the-film

About the filmmaker – Jiayan “Jenny” Shi is a Chicago-based documentary filmmaker and video journalist who is passionate about social justice issues regarding people of color. She shoots, edits and produces video stories and short documentaries about immigration, race and crime in Chicago for multiple outlets. She is also working on several projects as a researcher, digital content editor and translator including the ITVS co-produced web series Pulling The Thread and the 2020 Academy Award-winning Higher Ground Netflix film, American Factory. Jenny is a graduate of Kartemquin’s Diverse Voices In Docs program, a TFI Network alum, the winner of the Paley DocPitch Competition 2018 and a fellow of 2020-2021 Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellowship. Jenny is named one of the DOC NYC “40 Under 40” filmmakers.

About Kartemquin – Sparking democracy through documentary since 1966, Kartemquin is a collaborative community that empowers documentary makers who create stories that foster a more engaged and just society. Kartemquin’s films have received four Academy Award® nominations and won many more major prizes, including six Emmys® and four Peabody Awards. Recognized as a leading advocate for independent public media, Kartemquin has helped hundreds of artists via its filmmaker development programs and championing of documentary.Kartemquin is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization based in Chicago.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“It’s remarkable how Finding Yingying gets away from the traditional framework that governs how these stories are told, allowing the Zhangs to be seen separately from the horrific situation they find themselves in…” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest

“’Finding Yingying proves that centering the lives lost and the loved ones left behind can make for an intriguing a true-crime documentary.” – Jonita Davis, The Black Cape

“Compelling, heartfelt, and just as frustrating to watch – Finding Yingying not only makes for one of the most essential watches of the year but also for the sake of much-needed change.” – Andrew J. Salazar, Geeks of Color

“Intimate and haunting.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter

Through the Night – Director Loira Limbal

THROUGH THE NIGHT is a cinema vérité portrait of three working mothers whose lives intersect at Dee’s Tots Daycare in New Rochelle, NY: a mother working the overnight shift as a pediatric nurse; another holding down three low-wage jobs to support her two girls; and Deloris “Nunu” Hogan, who for over two decades has cared for the children of parents with nowhere else to turn. A tender portrait of titanic strength, love and selflessness, THROUGH THE NIGHT showcases the multiplicity of “women’s work” – paid, underpaid and unpaid; emotional and physical; domestic and career-oriented – all while negotiating the terms of a dignified existence under the three arrows of racism, sexism and capitalism in America. THROUGH THE NIGHT will open this Friday, December 11th at the Laemmle Virtual Cinema in addition to virtual cinemas around the country. Director Loira Limbal joins us for a conversation on the myriad of issues raised in this deceptively simple meditation of the why and how millions of hard working people in the home of the brave can do all the right things only to find themselves one random event away from the economic abyss that is modern American life. 

 

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For news and updates go to: throughthenightfilm.com

About the filmmaker – Loira Limbal is an Afro-Dominican filmmaker and DJ based in the Bronx. She is the Senior Vice President of Programs at Firelight Media, an organization that provides mentorship, funding and industry access to emerging filmmakers of color. THROUGH THE NIGHT was an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca, AFI Docs, Camden, Hot Springs Documentary, Double Exposure and DOC NYC festivals. Her first film, ESTILO HIP HOP, aired on PBS in 2009. Loira is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a former Ford Foundation Justfilms/Rockwood Fellow. Additionally, she co-produces and helms the popular Brooklyn monthly #APartyCalledRosiePerez. Limbal received a B.A. in History from Brown University and is a graduate of the Third World Newsreel’s Film and Video Production Training Program. She is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a former Ford Foundation Justfilms/Rockwood Fellow.

Social Media
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@ThrutheNightdoc

 

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“This quietly engaging documentary is also subtly political, showing with clear eyes how good people are trying to patch gaps in our society that shouldn’t be there in the the first place.” – Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

“Through the Night is both celebration and indictment. A sympathetic depiction of “women’s work,” in all its unsung dignity, it’s also a quietly damning portrait of a merciless economy’s effect on working-class mothers… – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter

“Without making it too obvious, Limbal’s documentary shines a light on the unspoken backbone of our economy. – Monica Castillo, Remezcla

‘”Through the Night” won me over though, not because director Loira Limbal has any illusions about objectivity, but because she prefers to step back and show the toll inequality takes on the very people our culture supposedly reveres most – families.” – Andrea Thompson, A Reel of One’s Own

Assassins – Director Ryan White

ASSASSINS documents the bizarre, international plot, ripped from the headlines story of  Kim Jong-nam—the half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un assassination in the bustling departures hub of Malaysia’s international airport. The spectacularly brazen murder happened in broad daylight, filmed entirely by security cameras. Footage showed two young women approaching Jong-nam from behind, covering his eyes with their hands, and pressing VX—the most lethal nerve gas on earth—into his eyes. He stumbled away and was dead within an hour. But if the murder was extreme, the story behind what came next was even more bizarre: The two women who killed Jong-nam claimed they had simply been hired to pull a video prank and had no idea what they were really doing. The Malaysian government scoffed, arrested and imprisoned the women and put them on trial for murder, facing execution. But was their outlandish story actually the truth? And would anyone believe them? ASSASSINS the latest film from director Ryan White (Ask Dr. Ruth, The Case Against 8), travels from the sanctums of Pyongyang to the rice fields of Indonesia and Vietnam to the courtrooms of Kuala Lumpur to tell an extraordinary tale of manipulation and subterfuge in the age of social media. A masterful investigation that offers an unprecedented look at the real story of Kim Jong-nam’s murder,  ASSASSINS Director Ryan White stops by to discuss the wildly improbable tale of a calculating dictator, a nefarious plot, a very public murder, and two women fighting for their lives.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: assassinsdoc.com

For more on the filmmakers go to: tripod-media.com

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Ryan White’s fascinating documentary chronicles plays like a political thriller with tragic consequences for the two women at its center.” – Matt Goldberg, Collider

“It’s a Kafka-esque and sometimes darkly comic tale of deception and exploitation that makes for a smartly assembled and eminently topical film that arrives at a crucial juncture in world affairs…” – Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter

“As you watch the movie, I promise that there are moments when your jaw will drop.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“Director Ryan White masterfully breaks down the complex mechanics of North Korean politics and the Malaysian justice system in a fascinating thriller.” – Ian Thomas Malone

The Last Sermon, Director Jack Baxter

THE LAST SERMON begins with a flashback to the horrific 2003 terrorist attack on a Tel Aviv blues bar called Mike’s Place. THE LAST SERMON then takes us straight into today’s headlines when filmmakers Baxter and Faudem – united for life by the tragedy of that terrible night – seek answers about the suicide bombers who almost murdered them. In the aftermath of the infamous April 2003 suicide bombing at Mike’s Place that killed three and injured dozens, including Baxter, the filmmakers made the award-winning documentary BLUES BY THE BEACH (2004). But they didn’t get to tell the entire story at that time. THE LAST SERMON started in Jerusalem. Baxter and Faudem and their film crew traveled to Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Germany, Czech Republic, France, then on to England. At Refugee Camps and  Mosques they interviewed, interacted and challenged Muslims and non-Muslims with the last words of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or a non-Arab over an Arab, or a White over a Black, or a Black over a White, except by righteousness and piety.” Director and subject Jack Baxter joins us for a conversation on the how the Mike’s Place bombing started him on a personal quest to confront hatred, ignorance and move those he meets to recognize our collective humanity.

 

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For news and updates go to: thelastsermonmovie.com

About the filmmaker – Jack Baxter is a writer, director, producer and freelance journalist from New York City. He produced the controversial and critically acclaimed 1995 documentary “Brother Minister: The Assassination of Malcolm X.” Mr. Baxter and his wife, Executive Producer Fran Strauss-Baxter, are the producers of the award-winning documentary, “Blues by The Beach” (2004). Jack is the co-author of the graphic novel, “Mike’s Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv” (2015) published by Macmillan.

About the filmmaker – Joshua Faudem is an award-winning American-Israeli documentary filmmaker who has shot and directed television programs in Israel, Europe, Canada, and America. Mr. Faudem directed the award-winning documentary “Blues by the Beach” (2004) and is the co-author of the graphic novel “Mike’s Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv.”

Official Selection of the 2020 International Human Rights Film Festival

Winner of the Best Documentary Feature and the Truth Seeker Award at the 2020 Queens World

Kiss the Ground – Co-directors Josh and Rebecca Tickell

Narrated by Woody Harrelson and directed by critically-acclaimed filmmakers Joshua Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell (Oscar® shortlisted film and Sundance Audience Award winner “Fuel,” Cannes Film Festival Official Selection “The Big Fix”), KISS THE GROUND unveils a game-changer: We can reverse global warming and the Earth’s soil is the solution. By regenerating earth, we can completely and rapidly stabilize our planet’s climate, restore lost ecosystems, and create abundant food supplies.With epic footage shot on five continents, striking visuals from NASA and NOAA, and stunning animation, KISS THE GROUND conveys this critical message through the voices of leading scientists, ecologists, and experts including Nobel Laureates in climate, members of the International Panel on Climate Change, top scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), as well as environmental activists such as Gisele Bundchen, Tom Brady, Jason Mraz, Ian Somerhalder, Patricia Arquette, and Rosario Dawson. As an urgent call to action in addressing the world’s climate crisis, KISS THE GROUND artfully illustrates an accessible, relatively simple solution to humanity’s greatest challenge. Co-directors Josh and Rebecca Tickell join us to talk about how, despite all of the dire news about the impact of climate change, there is a way forward that is basic, sustainable, scalable and immediate, regeneration of earth’s most plentiful resources, soil.

 

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For news, screening and updates go to: kissthegroundmovie.com

To find out more about the movement go to: kisstheground.com

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83% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Climate Change is definitely real and this doc proves it while encouraging and teaching the human race how we can save the earth and save ourselves. Should be watched by every living human being!” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic

“It’s dense but nutritious. The science is explained in simple terms with plenty of visually striking graphics and animation.” – Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times

“The argument that they make is inspiring and thorough.” – Wade Major, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

“A frenetic but ultimately persuasive and optimistic plan to counter the climate crisis.” – Natalia Winkelman,New York Times

76 Days, Director Hao Wu

On January 23rd, 2020, China locked down Wuhan, a city of 11 million, to combat the emerging COVID-19 outbreak. Set deep inside the frontlines of the crisis, 76 DAYS tells indelible human stories at the center of this pandemic—from a woman begging in vain to bid a final farewell to her father, a grandpa with dementia searching for his way home, a couple anxious to meet their newborn, to a nurse determined to return personal items to families of the deceased. These raw and intimate stories bear witness to the death and rebirth of a city under a 76-day lockdown, and to the human resilience that persists in times of profound tragedy. MTV Documentary Films is pleased to announce the release of 76 DAYS, a raw and emotional look at the struggles of the people of Wuhan, China, in the earliest days of the COVID-19 outbreak. Directed by New York filmmaker Hao Wu (People’s Republic of Desire) and two China-based journalists, Weixi Chen and Anonymous, who took enormous personal risks to film at four different hospitals. 76 DAYS was directed by Hao Wu, Weixi Chen and Anonymous. Director Hoa Wu joins us for a conversation on the challenges of keeping his crew focused and in-tact while charging into the epicenter of the most devastating and understood pandemic of the last 100 years.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: 76daysfilm.com

76 DAYS world-premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival where it topped IndieWire’s Critics Poll as Best Documentary of the festival. It will be released in over 50 virtual cinemas nationwide (including Film Forum in NY and Laemmle Theaters in LA) beginning Friday, December 4.

Social Media
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@DogwoofSales

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A startling picture from inside Wuhan’s besieged hospitals at the onset of the pandemic” – Screen Daily

“Remarkable” – The Hollywood Reporter

“A potent and horrifying document” ★★★★ – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“Essential viewing for now and the future” – The Playlist

“A tribute to the heroic efforts of the workers it follows” – The Atlantic

A Dog Called Money – Director Seamus Murphy

As imaginative as the creative process it documents, A DOG CALLED MONEY is a uniquely intimate journey through the inspiration, writing and recording of a PJ Harvey record. Writer and musician Harvey and award-winning photographer Seamus Murphy, hatched a collaboration. Seeking first-hand experience of the countries she wanted to write about, Harvey accompanied Murphy on some of his worldwide reporting trips, joining him in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Washington DC. Harvey collected words, Murphy collected images. Back home, the words become poems, songs, then an album, which is recorded in an unprecedented art experiment in Somerset House, London. In a specially constructed room behind one-way glass, the public – all cameras surrendered – are invited to watch the 5 week process as a live sound-sculpture. Murphy exclusively documents the experiment with the same forensic vision and private access as their travels. Director / photographer Seamus Murphy brilliantly captures encounters with the people and places he and Polly Jean visit, showcasing the humanity at the heart of his work, while also tracing the evolution of their shared experience into her recorded music and ultimately into their impassioned collaboration.

 

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For news and updates go to: abramorama.com/pjharvey-adogcalledmoney

About the filmmaker – Seamus Murphy grew up in Ireland and is based in London. He is the recipient of seven World Press Photo awards for his photographic work in Afghanistan, Gaza, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Peru and Ireland. He received The World Understanding Award from POYi in the USA for his work from Afghanistan and a film he made based around this work was nominated for an Emmy and won the Liberty in Media Prize in 2011. His work has been published and exhibited widely. He has made films for The New Yorker and Channel 4 Television in the UK.  He is the author of four books including A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan (Saqi Books. 2008) is based on 12 trips to the country between 1994 and 2007 and is a chronicle of Afghanistan’s extraordinary recent history. I Am The Beggar of the World (Farrar Straus Giroux. 2014) offers a rare glimpse into the lives of Afghan women through their anonymous Landay poetry. He has collaborated with musician PJ Harvey on projects for Let England Shake and The Hope Six Demolition Project, for which he won a Q Award for Best Music Film in October 2016. Patti Smith listed Murphy’s film for Harvey’s The Words that Maketh Murder as one of her Top 10 artworks, saying “… this unheralded piece (directed by Seamus Murphy) is a wisp of humanity celebrating the small things. “Murphy and Harvey together published The Hollow of the Hand (Bloomsbury. 2015) a book of his photography and her poetry. An exhibition and live presentation of The Hollow of the Hand work took place at the Royal Festival Hall, London in 2015 and at Les Recontres d’Arles in France in 2016. His latest book The Republic (Allen Lane. 2016) is an immediate and personal portrait of Ireland and was exhibited at The Little Museum in Dublin in 2017. 

Social Media
facebook.com/AbramoramaInc
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#ADogCalledMoney
@SEAMUSMURPHY3
@PJHarveyUK
#PJHarvey
#SeamusMurphy
@abramorama

“It’s fascinating to see the creative process laid bare in such a way, and the film confirms Harvey’s position as a vital and relevant artist who thrives through collaboration and experimentation.” – Jamie Healy, Radio Times

“Murphy has an unerring eye for poetic compositions that emphasise faces, isolated soldiers and civilians in battle zones, and anomalous juxtapositions of vulnerable non-combatants and military personnel.” – Graham Fuller, Sight and Sound

“As a peek inside the artistic process, Murphy’s film succeeds: it’s the type of demystification that only serves to make the endeavour more remarkable.” – Hilary A White, Sunday Independent (Ireland)

“[A] stunning ode to director Seamus Murphy’s métier and PJ Harvey’s collaborative genius.” – June Butler, Film Ireland Magazine

Sky Blossom – Director Richard Liu

Director Richard Lui’s SKY BLOSSOM is a raw, uplifting window into 24.5 million children and millennials stepping forward as frontline heroes. Caring for family with tough medical conditions, they stay at home doing things often seen only in hospitals. They are cheerleaders, work part time, and go to college – but also live double lives – quietly growing up as America’s next greatest generation. The filmmaker, veteran journalist and award-winning CNN/MSNBC news anchor Richard Lui says the interviews were so honest they genuinely surprised him, as they revealed insights into the lives of young people across America. Troops used to look up and say, “Here come the Sky Blossoms”-paratroopers rushing to their aid. Today, there is a new generation answering that call. These are their stories. First-time director and MSNBC news anchor Richard Liu joins us for a conversation on the reason he began the project, the exploration of these families courage and determination and the historic and spiritual meaning behind the film’s title. 

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: skyblossom.com

For information on resources available go to: skyblossom.com/resources

Watch during the Virtual Theatre release at: /skyblossom.com/watch-film

Director’s statement – My life changed when my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I stepped back from my work as a cable news anchor, changing to work part-time on weekends. I began a weekly commute from my work in New York and my family in San Francisco. My parents come from military families, and this experience has only brought us closer together. With Sky Blossom, I wanted to show the power of caring for others. To tell stories of positivity despite pain. – Richard Liu

About the Film – Sky Blossom is an Academy Award qualifying film salute to 2020. Filmed over three years, it is a raw, uplifting window into 24.5 million children and millennials stepping forward as frontline heroes. Caring for family with tough medical conditions, they stay at home doing things often seen only in hospitals. They are cheerleaders, work part time, and go to college – but also live double lives – quietly growing up as America’s next greatest generation.

What’s In a Name? – During the Second World War, troops used to look up and say, “Here come the Sky Blossoms” — paratroopers rushing to their aid. Today, there is a new generation answering that call. These are their stories.

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No Ordinary Man – Co-director Chase Joynt (Aisling Chin-Yee) and Writer Amos Mac

In the documentary film No Ordinary Man The legacy of Billy Tipton, a 20th-century American jazz musician and trans icon, is brought to life by a diverse group of contemporary trans artists. Revered jazz musician Billy Tipton — born Dorothy Lucille Tipton — gained fame throughout the United States in the 1940s and ’50s. His trans identity was not known throughout the echelons of the jazz and pop worlds, and it wasn’t revealed publicly until after his death in 1989. For decades, Tipton was portrayed as an ambitious woman “passing” as a man in pursuit of a music career at a time when the industry was dominated by men and trans representation was virtually non-existent. Since then, he has become a foundational icon of trans-masculinity. Co-directors Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt’s examine the disgraceful media scrutiny and questions of legitimacy his family endured after his death. This thoughtful, timely documentary embraces the challenge of bringing Tipton’s words to life, reimagining his narrative through a diverse group of contemporary trans performers as they collectively paint a portrait of an unlikely hero. NO ORDINARY MAN explores the life and legacy of American jazz musician and trans icon Billy Tipton as told through the eyes of today’s leading voices in the trans community. NO ORDINARY MAN features Marquise Vilsón, Scott Turner Schofield, Susan Stryker, C. Riley Snorton, and Thomas Page McBee, among others. Co-director Chase Joynt (Aisling Chin-Yee) and Writer Amos Mac join us to talk about the life and the times of an artist, husband and father hiding in plain sight and how Billy Tipton’s story informs and imbues today’s trans community.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: chasejoynt.com/no-ordinary-man

About the filmmaker – (Co-director) Chase Joynt is a transgender moving-image artist and writer whose films have won jury and audience awards internationally. His latest short film, Framing Agnes, premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, won the Audience Award at Outfest in Los Angeles, and is being developed into a feature film with support from Telefilm Canada’s Talent to Watch program. Awarded the EP Canada/Canada Film Capital Award for Emerging Canadian Artist, Joynt’s first book You Only Live Twice (co-authored with Mike Hoolboom) was a 2017 Lambda Literary Award Finalist and named one of the best books of the year by The Globe and Mail and CBC. 

About the filmmaker (Writer) Amos Mac is an out transgender writer staffed on the upcoming drama series Gossip Girl (HBO Max, 2021). Previously he’s worked on shows including Amazon’s Transparent and VICELAND’s Gaycation. From 2009-2019, Amos was a founding editor of Original Plumbing; the first print magazine in America dedicated to trans male culture. Informational and humorous, OP provided ten years of artful documentation of trans masculine community. The official book, Original Plumbing: The Best of Ten Years of Trans Male Culture, was released in 2019 by the Feminist Press.

About the filmmaker – (Co-director) Aisling Chin-Yee is a cisgender, award-winning producer, writer, and director based in Montreal, Canada. Aisling was named one of Canada’s Rising Film Stars by Now Magazine 2019. Her feature film directorial debut, The Rest of Us, starring Heather Graham (Boogie Nights, The Hangover), and Sophie Nélisse (The Book Thief) premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 2019. Aisling also produced the award winning feature films, Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Last Woman Standing , and The Saver among others. In 2017, she co-founded the #AfterMeToo movement alongside Mia Kirshner and Freya Ravensbergen. In 2018 she was selected in the inaugural cohort of professionals in the 50 Women Can Change the World in Media and Entertainment in Hollywood. In 2019, Aisling received the TIFF Canning Fellowship. 

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“The film contains interviews with a number of trans artists who find Tipton especially meaningful in their lives; the moment when Tipton’s son discovers that his father is important to many people is worth the price of admission.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox

“Tender, topical and well-crafted, No Ordinary Man is no ordinary film.” – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail

“No Ordinary Man isn’t so much a documentary of musician Billy Tipton but a major contribution to the history of trans-masculinity.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“It’s moving and empowering, a reminder of how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

Gay Chorus Deep South, Director David Charles Rodrigues

UPDATE: MTV Documentary Films’ Gay Chorus Deep South directed by David Charles Rodrigues premieres Sunday, December 20 at 9:00PM ET/PT on Pop, Logo and Pluto

The documentary Gay Chorus Deep South chronicles one community’s response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws in Southern states and the divisive 2016 election. The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South. Led by Gay Chorus conductor Dr. Tim Seelig and joined by The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the tour brings a message of music, love, and acceptance to communities and individuals confronting intolerance. Over 300 singers travelled from Mississippi to Tennessee through the Carolinas and over the bridge in Selma. They  performed in churches, community centers, and concert halls in hopes of uniting us in a time of difference. The journey also challenges Tim and other Chorus members who fled the South to confront their own fears, pain, and prejudices on a journey towards reconciliation. The conversations and connections that emerge offer a glimpse of a less divided America, where the things that divide us – faith, politics, sexual identity – are set aside by the soaring power of music and humanity. Director David Charles Rodrigues joins us to talk about the expectations and realities that comes with traveling to communities with the hope of changing hearts and minds.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: gaychorusdeepsouth.com

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WINNER AUDIENCE AWARD – BEST DOCUMENTARY – 2019 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

WINNER AUDIENCE AWARD – BERKSHIRE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

WINNER AUDIENCE AWARD – TOP 5 NONFICTION FAVORITES – 2019 TRAVERSE CITY FILM FESTIVAL

“Successfully harnessing the power of both music and message, documentary Gay Chorus Deep South draws its strength not only from its subject, but also the effective way in which it it presents its arguments.” – Nikki Baughan, Screen International

“What makes the film especially compelling, though, are the all-too-human narratives involving those who were at one time badly victimized because of their sexual orientation; they want to forgive, but may never be able to.” – Phil Guie, Film-Forward.com

“There’s a lesson here that applies to more than just LGBT political causes: To heal the country and move on, we must reach across the divide and listen to one another.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“With good folks like this, from both sides of the aisle, there is hope for humanity yet.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail

Music Got Me Here – Director Susan Koch

From award-winning director Susan Koch’s comes new feature documentary, MUSIC GOT ME HERE. The film follows the against-all-odds, true-life journey of Forrest Allen – a story of the power of music to heal and transform lives, often in miraculous ways. A snowboard accident leaves Forrest Allen, age 18, trapped inside himself, unable to speak or walk for almost two years. Tom Sweitzer, an eccentric music therapist with a troubled childhood who credits music with saving his own life, is determined to help Forrest find his voice. He dresses up in costumes and makes up silly songs.  For months, Forrest doesn’t even acknowledge him. Then, one day Forrest painstakingly types with one finger on his Dynavox: “Please help me find my voice”. Tom begins by teaching Forrest to breathe…then hum. After many months of painstaking practice, the hums turn into Forrest’s first two words. Director and writer Susan Koch joins us to talk about her uplifting tale of overcoming hardship, physical, spiritual and psychological as well as underscoring the pre-cognitive connective that humans share and with it our brains can be rewired to overcome trauma.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: musicgotmehere.com

Winner of the Best Social Impact Award at the Greenwich International Film Festival,MUSIC GOT ME HERE was filmed over the course of five years and features interviews with renowned soprano and music therapy advocate Renee Fleming and National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins. MUSIC GOT ME HERE, is currently screening at Laemmle Virtual Cinema.

About the Director – Emmy and Peabody award-winning filmmaker Susan Koch’s films and non-fiction television shows have appeared on ABC, NBC, PBS, HBO, Showtime, MTV, ESPN, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, CNN, and American Movie Classics. Koch’s documentary Kicking It, about homeless soccer players who compete in an international tournament, premiered at the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals and was broadcast on ESPN. Koch’s other films include the award-winning documentaries Reel Models:  First Women of Film (AMC), Mario’s Story (Showtime), City at Peace (HBO) and The Other City (Showtime). Koch is the Executive Director of the Middleburg Film Festival, located in Middleburg, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C.

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Songs of Repression, Co-directors Marianne Hougen-Moraga and Estephan Wagner

The incredible story that lies at the heart of Songs of Repression begins and ends at  the foot of the Andes Mountains in Chile in the picturesque German colony of Colonia Dignidad (Colony of Dignity). The beauty of the place belies a grim past. In 1961, a German preacher named Paul Schäfer and his congregation moved to Chile with the stated aim of helping the poor. They established Colonia Dignidad, which transformed into a closed sect where child abuse, collective beatings and slave-like living conditions were an ongoing reality for 45 years. Many in the colony assisted Pinochet’s dictatorship in torturing and killing political prisoners and burying them in mass graves on their own 40,000-acre land. In 2007, Schäfer was arrested and the colony opened up. During that process, the community changed its name to Villa Baviera (Bavarian Village), now a tourist resort where you can relax, eat German cuisine and listen to yodeling. It remains the home of several generations of perpetrators and victims of the cult, inexplicably coexisting without reckoning with decades of abuse. Co-directors Marianne Hougen-Moraga and Estephan Wagner join us to talk about their chilling exploration of the community through the experiences of its surviving members.

 

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For news and updates go to: estephanwagner.com/songs-of-repression

About the filmmaker – Marianne Hougen-Moraga (Director) Graduated with a Master’s degree in film studies from Copenhagen University. She also holds a master in Screen Documentary from Goldsmiths College. Hougen-Moraga has directed a number of short documentaries, such as ‘Returned’ (2011), which premiered at CPH:DOX, and ‘Sea of Sorrow – Sea of Hope’ (2017), which was nominated for a Danish Robert Award for best short documen- tary. Her feature documentary debut is ‘Songs of Represvsion’ (2020), which she has directed with Estephan Wagner. 

About the filmmaker – Estephan Wagner (Director and Editor). Graduated from the National Film and Television School in London. Originally trained as an editor in Germany. Wagner has been working as a documentary director for more than a decade. He directed ‘Last Dreams’ (2013) that premiered at CPH:DOX. His feature documentary ‘Les Sau- teurs’ (2016) had theatrical distribution in Germany, France, the UK and Italy, has been screened at more than 70 film festivals and has won more than 15 awards including at the Ecumenical Jury Award at the Berlinale and the Cinema Eye Spotlight award. 

Social Media
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Crock of Gold, A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan – Director Julien Temple

If future generations look back at what it was truly like to be both human and alive in the late 20th century, they will be hard put to find a more powerful and enlightening testament than the songs of Shane McGowan. In a world where music has become increasingly sanitized and unable to venture beneath the surface clichés of human emotion, Shane’s songs stand out in ever greater relief. A cinematic exploration of Shane MacGowan’s story, Julien Temple’s film CROCK OF GOLD details Shane’s explosive existence, from his salad days, growing up in Ireland, to time spent on the mean streets of London and embracing the punk scene. To forming the Pogues and the conquering the known universe, we discover MacGowan’s passions, his humor and deep knowledge of music, history, spirituality & popular culture. For this is Shane’s story. A vision of the world through the eyes of the great punk poet himself and an intimate cast of close friends and family members, all channeled through  director Julien Temple’s inimitable and eternally vibrant lens. Director Julien Temple joins us for an enlightening conversation on MacGowan’s unusual childhood living on a farm without electricity, his collaboration with Johnny Depp and his respect and admiration for an artist that has stay faithful to his love of music and his country, no matter the cost.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: crockofgoldfilm.com

Director’s Statement – In a world where music has become increasingly sanitized and unable to venture beneath the surface clichés of human emotion, none has bared their soul like Shane McGowan. His unique ability to plumb the dark recesses of the human soul, while in the very same breath celebrating its capacity to find healing transcendence, in both love and the sublime mysteries of existence, goes a long way to making sense of who we actually are. His work is raw, unflinching and unashamed, reflecting all the many places Shane inhabits – the invisible world, hedonism, alcoholism, God, redemption and romance, in all their respective grit and glory. And so, here, via the inventions of the Pogues and the Popes, via the hits, the flops, the fallouts of fame. Via the triumphs and the disasters. Via the love, the hate. Via the bodily abuse and miraculous survival against the odds. And above all else, via the songs… Shane’s incomparable songs, we join Shane, in this film, in his never-ending search for that elusive ‘Crock of Gold’… – Julien Temple

About the filmmaker – Julien Temple became established as one of the early pioneers of music videos, directing such diverse talents as; Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, David Bowie, Kinks, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Janet Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Pete Doherty and many more. He has directed feature films including the musicals ‘Absolute Beginners’ and ‘Earth Girls Are Easy’. Other directing credits ‘Pandaemonium’, selected as the Gala film at the Toronto Film Festival 2000 and winner of the Evening Standard best British actor award for Linus Roache. Temple’s feature documentary about the Sex Pistols ‘The Filth & The Fury’ screened in official selection at both the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals 2001. In 2005 he directed ‘Glastonbury’, a vivid chronicle of the past thirty years of the music festival. ‘The Future Is Unwritten’, a film to celebrate the life of Joe Strummer, premiered at Sundance in 2007. His recent films include ‘Oil City Confidential’ a documentary about the forgotten precursors of punk, Dr. Feelgood, which won the main prize at the 2009 Turin Film Festival, ‘Imaginary Man’ a film about songwriter Ray Davies for BBC One Imagine and ‘Kinkdom Come’ about his brother Day Davies. Temple’s feature documentary ‘Requiem For Detroit’ won a Grierson Award for Best Historical Documentary 2010. He is currently working with producer Jeremy Thomas to develop ‘You Really Got Me – The Kinks’, the story of Ray and Dave Davies, the brilliant love hate sibling creative force behind the legendary band.

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95% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Crock of Gold” isn’t intended as a lament for an artist derailed by his worst impulses, though. Instead, it’s a celebration of what MacGowan accomplished at his peak, as well as an explanation of the experiences that informed his music. – Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

“Temple has always used archive material playfully; here, it’s particularly riotous, like a chaotic patchwork quilt tacked together by one of Shane’s drunk aunties. – Wendy Ide, Observer (UK)

“Bold and crass, insightful and fascinating. Director Julien Temple makes clear that this is a complex artist, with a multi-faceted personality, who has changed greatly over the years.” – Deirdre Molumby, entertainment.ie

“The director Julien Temple – who has excellent documentaries on the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer and other galvanic musicians under his belt – is very good at this sort of thing.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times

The Way Home – Co-director Don Hardy & Camille Servan-Schreiber, Shawn Dailey

THE WAY HOME is a short-form documentary series from KTF Films and Bread and Butter Films  focusing on the current homelessness epidemic in California – the state with the largest population of homeless people in the USA. Through these compelling short films, you will be inspired by the solution creators and the game-changers who are making an impact in this ongoing situation. Joining us are co-directors and co-writters Camille Servan-Schreiber and Don Hardy and producer Shawn Dailey The Way Home offers is a nuanced and informative four-part series that focuses on the big picture issues that present structural impediments to people struggling to overcome poverty in Oakland, Los Angeles and Bakersfield as well as the personal stories that humanize the people who live in the shadows

 

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For news and updates go to: thewayhomedoc.com

For a glimpse of our episodes, click the play buttons below. The full episodes will be available on Amazon, Apple, Google, and other streaming platforms on December 4th.

Ep. 1- How Did We Get Here? We examine the origins the homelessness crisis in the US and how has grown to an epidemic in California.

Ep. 2 – The Most Vulnerable More than half of homeless people in California are seniors. One pilot program in Northern California is focused on getting them off the street.

Ep. 3 – The Invisible In one California community volunteers, non-profit organizations, and the local government are working together to find creative ways to get people into sustainable housing … and it’s working.

Ep. – 4 – The California Dream California is in the midst of a housing crisis, and the lack of affordable housing is why so many become homeless.

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GATHER – Director Sanjay Rawal

Award winning filmmaker Sanjay Rawal’s latest documentary, GATHER, is a powerful portrait of Indigenous Americans reclaiming sovereignty over their decimated ancestral food systemswhile battling against the historical trauma brought on by centuries of genocide.  The early American economy was solely based on extracting money from the land. This nascent economy needed labor, but it mainly needed land. Stolen native land fueled American capitalism while slavery drove the economy. Native bodies were impediments because they occupied land the American economy needed, thus the genocide of thousands of indigenous people.  After a century of stealing land, the American government began an active program to destroy Native food systems to subjugate Natives. In doing so, they destroyed tens of thousands of years of deep knowledge of the food space. Native Americans are now fighting to re-establish their right to their lands and their food traditions – this fight for food is as important as the fight against pipelines.  As the pandemic continues to disproportionately affect Indian Country (IC), the common narrative is to blame poverty.  In reality, IC is ravaged due to inadequate infrastructure, lack of health systems and environmental racism – directly driven by government disregard of legal and treaty obligations. Director Sanjay Rawal (Food Chains) talks with us about how the US government continues to neglect these communities and perpetuate its long-term genocide and the efforts of the Native American people’s to fight back.

 

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For news, updates and screenings go to: gather.film

Gather is now available to stream on iTunes (US/UK/Canada)Amazon (US/UK) and Vimeo-on-Demand (rest of the world).

About the filmmaker – A James Beard Award winning filmmaker, Sanjay  Rawal made FOOD CHAINS (EP Eva Longoria, Eric Schlosser) which chronicled the battle of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a small group of Oaxacan and Chiapan indigenous farmworkers in Florida, against the largest agribusiness conglomerates in the world. The film was released theatrically in a number of countries (Screen Media in the US) and won numerous awards – including citations from the US Conference of Mayors, the Clinton Global Initiative and the White House. The film was also a Winner (shared) of the 2016 BritDoc Impact award and several festival prizes. Sanjay’s last film 3100: RUN AND BECOME won several festival prizes, had a robust theatrical release in the US in 2018 and is opening in traditional theatrical engagements across Europe and Australia in 2020 and 2021.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Rawal covers a substantial amount of ground and deftly balances the dense material without losing sight of the mission driving the bigger story: Healing from generational trauma sometimes starts with just one person.” – Lovia Gyarkye,

“Docu on food sovereignty has positive messages, role models.” – Brian Costello, Common Sense Media

“The stunning cinematography accentuates every aspect of the story, the beauty of our land, and the need to understand the gifts we have all been given to live a life of truth about our pasts and create a new path for the future.” – Pamela Powell, Reel Honest Reviews

“Rawal’s movie offers a fascinating, visually striking glimpse of just how the seeds of oppression and racism can thrive for generations.” – Rob Rector, Film Threat

 

MAYOR, Director David Osit

MAYOR is a real-life political saga following Musa Hadid, the Christian mayor of Ramallah, during his second term in office. His immediate goals: repave the sidewalks, attract more tourism, and plan the city’s Christmas celebrations. His ultimate mission: to end the occupation of Palestine. Rich with detailed observation and a surprising amount of humor, MAYOR offers a portrait of dignity amidst the madness and absurdity of endless occupation while posing a question: how do you run a city when you don’t have a country?  MAYOR, director, producer, editor, cinematographer, David Osit joins us to talk about a most remarkable public servant, who spends much of his days greeting members of his community, visiting schools, meetings with staff on branding issues for Ramallah and having lunch with a grateful, but insistent constituent.

 

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For news, updates and screenings go to: filmmovement.com/mayor  or: go to: mayorfilm.com

About the filmmaker – DAVID OSIT is an Emmy Award-winning documentary film director, editor and composer. He is an alumnus of the Berlinale Talent Campus and the Sundance Nonfiction Director’s Residency. David graduated from the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan, and studied Refugee Law at the American University of Cairo. He received his MFA in Social Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts.

*WINNER – NEXT:WAVE Prize, 2020 CPH:DOX*
*WINNER – Grand Jury Prize, 2020 Full Frame*
*WINNER’S CIRCLE – 2020 DOC NYC*
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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Shows the West Bank as we rarely see it. A real-life political saga following Musa Hadid, the Christian mayor of Ramallah, during his second term. Filmed over 18 months, Mayor is aimed at Westerners, particularly Americans.” – Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times

“THRILLING. The best new film about Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a dark comedy about Ramallah’s mayor. David Osit’s documentary blends black comedy and unnerving suspense for a fascinating look at life under occupation.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire

“IMPRESSIVE. ENGROSSING…HEARTENING. Mayor is a study in politics both micro and macro, showing what happens when the two come fatefully crashing together.” – Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter

“A GRIPPING portrait of Ramallah’s beloved mayor, Musa Hadid, whose job consists of the mundane tasks of running a local government mixed with the extraordinary circumstances of navigating the repercussions of a geopolitical conflict. A sincere tale of a public servant who’s seeking to lead in a world that’s stacked against him.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox

Dear Santa – Director Dana Nachman

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.

 

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 For news, updates and screeings go to: dearsanta.movie

Learn more about Operation Santa at: uspsoperationsanta.com

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).

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“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