September 22, 2017 – The Force, Director Peter Nicks

Peter Nicks’ THE FORCE, is a compelling cinema vérité look deep inside the long-troubled Oakland Police Department as it struggles to confront federal demands for reform, a popular uprising following events in Ferguson, MO, and an explosive scandal. THE FORCE is the story of a young chief, hailed as a reformer, is brought in to complete the turnaround at the very moment the #BlackLivesMatter movement emerges to demand police accountability and racial justice both in Oakland and across the nation. Meanwhile, young cops in the Academy learn how to police in a new era of transparency and accountability. And out on the street, the camera gets up close as rookie and veteran officers alike face an increasingly hostile public where dueling narratives surround each use of force. Officers are being watched like never before as they respond to a constant flood of 911 calls, revealing the wide gulf between how cops see themselves and how they are seen by the public. Despite growing public distrust, the OPD is garnering national attention as a model of police reform. But just as the department is on the verge of a breakthrough, the man charged with turning the department around faces the greatest challenge of his career, one that could threaten not only the progress that has been made, but the very authority of the institution itself. THE FORCE was the winner of the Director’s Prize at the 2017 Sundance for U.S. Documentary, and premiered in New York at both BAMcinemaFest and the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Director Peter Nicks (The Waiting Room) joins us for a conversation on the second film of a trilogy on his adopted hometown’s institutions and the seemingly intractable issues that bedevil them.

The news and updates go to: theforcefilm.com

The Force opens in Los Angeles on September 22nd at the NuArt Theatre in Los Angeles

Directing Award / U.S. Documentary at Sundance Film Festival 2017

Courage in Cinema Prize at Independent Film Festival Boston

Best Bay Area Doc at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

“Hypnotic and eye-opening. Nicks has a style that is both experiential and ethereal: from its ground-level immersion in the minutiae of police work to its sweeping helicopter shots of the city at night, The Force has a texture of a Michael Mann film combined with the clarity of a Frederick Wiseman documentary.” – Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice

“A poignant, realistic sense of the difficulties and challenges of modern policing.” – Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

“Gripping. With superb use of vérité filmmaking, director Peter Nicks follows the Oakland Police Department over two years. The film shows what’s possible when police departments try to be the force of good they’re designed to be – but this documentary is also clear-eyed about how often they fall short.” –  Tim Grierson, Screen International

September 22, 2017 – Machines, Director Rahul Jain

Marrying stunning visuals with social advocacy, Rahul Jain’s debut documentary — winner of the Special Jury Award for Cinematography at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival — takes audiences into the labyrinthine passages of an enormous textile factory in Gujarat, India. Jain’s camera wanders freely between pulsating machines and bubbling vats of dye to create a moving portrait of the human laborers who toil away there for 12 hours a day to eke out a meager living for their families back home. Interviews with these workers and the factory owners who employ them reveal the stark inequality and dangerous working conditions brought about by unregulated industrialization in the region. This political message is delivered amidst the unsettling beauty of the factory’s mechanical underworld and the colorful, billowing fabrics it produces. Director Rahul Jain joins us to talk about the making of his stark, mesmerizing, and unsettling film and the penetrating sense of complicity we all should feel for the men and the inhumane work conditions they find themselves in.

For news and updates go to: Machines

facebook.com/machinesmovie

Machines open in Los Angeles at the Laemmle’s Monica Fourplex

1332 Second St., Santa Monica, CA 90401  Showtimes: 3:20 PM5:30 PM7:40 PM9:50 PM

Sundance Film Festival 2017 Winner of the Excellence in Cinematography Award

“Five stars! Astonishing. A dignifying hymn to the common worker.” – The Guardian

“Displays an all-too-rare combination of artistic vision and social conscience… [a] sensory immersion into a hidden, secretive environment.” – The Hollywood Reporter

“Visually stunning. Frames everything with an inquisitive eye.”- Financial Times

“Hypnotic and frequently beautiful. An intoxicating look at the lives of… migrant workers.” – Variety

“Operates with an intense rhythm and visual depth.” – No Film School

September 15, 2017 – Strong Island, Director Yance Ford

Strong Island chronicles the arc of a family across history, geography and tragedy – from the racial segregation of the Jim Crow South to the promise of New York City; from the presumed safety of middle class suburbs, to the maelstrom of an unexpected, violent death. It is the story of the Ford family: Barbara Dunmore, William Ford and their three children and how their lives were shaped by the enduring shadow of race in America. In April 1992, on Long Island NY, William Jr., the Ford’s eldest child, a black 24 year-old teacher, was killed by Mark Reilly, a white 19 year-old mechanic. Although Ford was unarmed, he became the prime suspect in his own murder. A deeply intimate and meditative film, Strong Island asks what one can do when the grief of loss is entwined with historical injustice, and how one grapples with the complicity of silence, which can bind a family in an imitation of life, and a nation with a false sense of justice. Director Yance Ford, who is transgender, is a recipient of the Creative Capital Award, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, a Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellowship, and was among Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2011. For ten years Ford was privileged to work as Series Producer for the PBS showcase POV and where his curatorial work helped garner more than 16 Emmy nominations. Ford is also an architectural welder, and while at Modern Art Foundry he helped assemble the sculpture “Maman” by Louise Bourgeois—the series of three spiders exhibited at Rockefeller Center, and now on permanent display at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Director Yance Ford joins us for a conversation on grief, justice, racism, expectations, and the profound impact this 25-year long saga has had on his family. 

For news and updates go to: strongislandfilm.com

 

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Opening Friday, September 15

IFC CENTER, NEW YORK

IFC Center + Q&A with director Yance Ford – Friday 7:05 PM

LAEMMLE MONICA FILM CENTER, SANTA MONICA

Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica | California

“Ford is more than a witness-he is a crucial participant in the events of the film, and its elements of pain and guilt are reflected in his grief-stricken, self-interrogating aesthetic.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker

“Ford’s intent as a filmmaker isn’t just to expose and protest the injustice of his brother’s murder. It’s to say: Behold what was lost. A life. A human being. A complex soul. A family’s equilibrium. Feel what was lost.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“It’s clear that the filmmaker wants you to feel the same kind of hurt and anger he feels as more information unfolds about William Ford Jr.’s death.” – Jamie Broadnax, Black Girl Nerds

“Truly special, especially as it moves towards its final act, in which Yance begins to wonder about his own actions before William Jr.’s death, and how they might have contributed to the situation.” – Bilge Emir, Village Voice

September 15, 2017 – School Life, Co-directors David Rane and Neasa Ni Chiandain

This observational documentary follows a year in the lives of two inspirational teachers at Headfort, the only primary-age boarding school in Ireland. Housed in an 18th century estate, school life embraces tradition and modernity. For John, rock music is just another subject alongside Maths, Scripture and Latin, taught in a collaborative and often hilarious fashion. For his wife Amanda, the key to connecting with children is the book, and she uses all means to snare the young minds. For nearly half a century these two have shaped thousands of minds, but now the unthinkable looms: what would retirement mean? What will keep them young if they leave? Co-directors David Rane and Neasa Ni Chiandain stop by to talk about gaining the trust of a remarkably dedicated couple who have given their lives to the students and a way of life at Headfort and the joy of documenting an academic culture that celebrates and elevates young minds.

For news and updates go to: schoollifefilm.com

 

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Opens in Los Angeles on Friday, September 15 at the Laemmle Monica Film Center

“‘School Life’ is as charming, intimate and warm-hearted an observational documentary as you’d ever want to see.”  – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“The filmmakers demonstrate mastery of documentary style by achieving an extraordinary level of on-camera comfort with their subjects, intimate access where everyone seems unaware they are being filmed.” – Bradley Gibson, Film Threat

“It’s the kind of school that could never exist in today’s America: It’s too freewheeling, too unstructured. Maybe it won’t exist in Ireland much longer either, so it’s a good thing that School Life manages to capture its weird, wonderful world.” – Josh Modell, AV Club

“A celebration of the importance of teachers and putting faith into the next generation of kids, School Life is quite the pleasing little documentary.” – Alex Lines, Film Inquiry

September 8, 2017 – Trophy, Co-directors Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz

 

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In filmmakers Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau’s bracingly balanced new documentary TROPHY explores the complex heart of contemporary issues of animal conservation and commodification at a time when endangered African species such as elephants, rhinos and lions march ever closer to extinction. This provocative follow-up to Schwarz’s acclaimed Narco Cultura journeys viewers across lush African forests and vast plains and into the world’s largest hunters’ convention in Las Vegas to meet breeders and hunters who passionately believe in animal conservation. A common mantra of these businesses – “if it pays, it stays” – sums up the controversial notion that if you assign monetary value to an animal, it is worth protecting. TROPHY follows Philip Glass, a Texas-based sheep breeder and life-long hunter who is on a quest to collect the “Big Five” (elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, and rhino). Philip is deeply connected to the land and animals, Chris Moore, a Zimbabwean wildlife officer whose anti-poaching campaign is partially subsidized by big-game hunters like Philip. Chris works with government authorities and communities to keep people safe from wild animals. He also protects those animals from ruthless poachers. The great irony of Chris’s work is that he goes to “extreme lengths” to protect endangered animals, only to have them killed by trophy hunters. Co-director Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz joins us for a frank conversation on the fate of these magnificent creatures and who or what will determine their uncertain future.

For news and update go to: trophy.film

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

”A bracing look at the intersection of big business and animal-rights protection.  It will enrage, enlighten and confound in equal measure.” – Variety

“Sprawling, complex and beautifully lensed documentary about the tensions that exist between wild-life conservation and the global hunting industry.” – Screen International

“A more elegant, cinematically sophisticated approach… a documentary that is simultaneously gorgeous and unwatchable. Its very form embodies the film’s central, andvery controversial conflict… Don’t let the beauty of its images fool you; it’s a supremely confrontational, even infuriating work. It’s hard to know what to make of Trophy, and something tells me the filmmakers wouldn’t want it any other way.” – Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice / LA Weekly

“A sweeping new documentary that tells a story as captivating as its images are beautiful.” – IndieWire

September 8, 2017 – Dolores, Director Peter Bratt

 

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Dolores Huerta is among the most important, yet least known, activists in American history. An equal partner in co-founding the first farm workers unions with Cesar Chavez, her enormous contributions have gone largely unrecognized. Dolores tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice alongside Chavez, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century—and she continues the fight to this day, at 87. With intimate and unprecedented access to this intensely private mother to eleven, the film reveals the raw, personal stakes involved in committing one’s life to social change. DOLORES is directed by Peter Bratt (LA MISSION) and Executive Produced by humanitarian and Grammy Award-winning musician Carlos Santana. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival this year and continues to be a favorite on the festival circuit, garnering Audience Awards at the San Francisco International Film Festival, Montclair Film Festival, Houston Latino Film Festival and the Denver Women + Film Festival, as well as receiving the Golden Space Needle Best Documentary Award from the Seattle International Film Festival. Director Peter Bratt joins us for an engaging and lively conversation about a visionary leader who refuses to give into to pessimism and inaction.

For news and updates go to: doloresthemovie.com

Twitter #DOLORESHUERTA

Opens LA / September 8, 2017 / Nuart Theatre

Question and Answers with Dolores Huerta, Peter Bratt, and Carlos Santana in person 9/8

Friday 9/8, 5:00pm – Dolores Huerta and Peter Bratt in-person – Moderated by Mike De la Rocha – Introduced by Maria Elena Durazo

Friday 9/8, 7:30pm – Dolores Huerta, Peter Bratt and Carlos Santana in-person

Moderated by Martin Sheen – Introduced by Andrew Russell, President & CEO (PBS SoCal)

Friday 9/8, 9:55pm – Introduction by Dolores Huerta and Peter Bratt

Saturday 9/9, 7:30pm – Members of the Huerta family, including Camila Chavez, Maria Elena Chavez and Rick Chavez, in-person – Moderated by Shane Murphy Goldsmith  (Liberty Hill Foundation)

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“‘Dolores’ is a documentary that celebrates a hero, but it’s no hagiography. Its subject wouldn’t stand for that.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“As a girl, she says, she had wanted to be a dancer. In some way you can see that in her work: She has made activism an art form.” – Ken Jaworowsky, New York Times

“Bratt masterfully corrects the record … revealing a charismatic, complicated woman who persevered – despite the disruption to her family and swirling disapproval of her personal life.”  – Daphne Howland, Village Voice

September 1, 2017 – Company Town, Co-directors Natalie Kottke-Masocco and Erica Sardarian

Crossett, Arkansas is home to about 5,500 people, one Georgia-Pacific paper and chemical plant owned by billionaire brothers Charles Koch and David Koch, and a startling rate of cancer and illness. The groundbreaking investigative documentary Company Town follows local pastor David Bouie as he fights to save his community. It offers a rare look inside a small town ruled by a single company, where the government’s environmental protections have been subverted and ignored, leaving its citizens to take on entrenched powers in a fight for justice. Crossett is just one of hundreds of towns across America polluted by big business and failed by local, state and federal environmental protections. Company Town ultimately asks, what do you do when the company you work for and live next to is making you sick? It is the story of a modern-day David vs. Goliath. Filmed over the course of nearly four years, Company Town offers first-hand accounts from a wide range of residents in Crossett’s “cancer cluster,” including Simone Smith, who was diagnosed with cancer at 9 years old; Hazel Parker, a former Georgia-Pacific employee whose mother, sister and father died from cancer; and Leroy Patton, the only person on his block to survive his health battle. And it brings to light the account on one whistle-blower who puts his life and family on the line to shed light on Georgia-Pacific’s egregious pollution, cover up and political influence. Co-directors Natalie Kotke-Masocco and Erica Sardarian join us to talk about their quietly devastating film about corporate greed, corruption and malfeasance.

For news and updates go to: CompanyTown.com

firstrunfeatures.com/companytown

August 25, 2017 – Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, Executive Producer Stevie Salas

 

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RUMBLE: THE INDIANS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD, reveals the rousing history of American Indians in popular music, kicks off with Link Wray (Shawnee) whose raw, distorted electric guitar riff from the 1958 instrumental “Rumble” was a major influence on rock legends Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page, and Iggy Pop. RUMBLE powers through the music and life stories of artists whose Indian heritage has long been unsung: Delta blues master Charley Patton (Choctaw), “queen of swing” Mildred Bailey (Coeur D’Alene), The Band’s Robbie Robertson (Mohawk), Jimi Hendrix (Cherokee), folk icon Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree), “guitarist to the greats” Jesse Ed Davis (Kiowa/Comanche), and others. RUMBLE collages historical footage and electrifying performances with commentary by surviving musicians. Music historians, family members and assorted luminaries (including Martin Scorsese, Quincy Jones, George Clinton, Dan Auerbach, Taj Mahal, Steven Van Zandt, Slash, Steven Tyler, Tony Bennett, and Rolling Stone’s David Fricke) weigh in on how Native American musicians shaped the sounds of our lives. The film won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Masterful Storytelling at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. RUMBLE originated with guitarist/executive producer Stevie Salas (Apache), who realized that the public was unaware of the profound contribution of Native Americans to pop music. Salas joins us for a lively conversation on the profound impact Native American’s have had on our collective history, culture and music.

For news and updates go to: rumblethemovie.com

“What is strikingly brought home in Rumble is how the vast stew of influences in American music, rather than diluting everything, makes the music all the more powerful.” – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

“In the end, the story is one not only of rock- and pop-culture history, but of human persistence and indigenous contributions that have been historically (and often intentionally) overlooked.” – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail

“It’s been a terrific few years for music documentaries, and that winning streak continues with “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World.”” – Ken Jaworowski, New York Times

“Irresistible for popular music lovers.” Allan Hunter, Screen International

August 11, 2017 – The Last Dalai Lama?, Director Mickey Lemle

 

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For over a thousand years, Tibetan Buddhist psychology has taught techniques for overcoming negative, afflictive emotions, such as anger, greed, jealousy, sloth and ignorance.  In the film THE LAST DALAI LAMA?, His Holiness explains that Tibetan Buddhism is both a religion and a “science of the mind”; he also shares his crystallized understanding of the nature of mind, and its part in the creation and alleviation of all of our suffering.  Believing that this precious wisdom belongs to the world, twenty years ago The Dalai Lama challenged a select group of world-renowned Neuroscientists and Mind/Brain researchers to look into the workings of the mind, and to prove scientifically that “Tibetan Buddhist technologies” for overcoming afflictive emotions are skills that can be learned by anyone. The Dalai Lama commissioned Dr. Paul Ekman and his daughter Dr. Eve Ekman to come up with an “Atlas of Emotions” as a way of understanding the effects of emotions on having a tranquil mind.  Being able to recognize the patterns, triggers and responses to emotions is the first step in dealing with them.  In a moving sequence with a high school class in British Columbia, His Holiness The Dalai Lama is able to share his passion for the subject. His urgency and dedication come through in THE LAST DALAI LAMA? as he now turns 82, and must deal with the questions of aging and death, and whether he will reincarnate as The Dalai Lama, or if he will be the last of the lineage that has existed for a millennia. Director Mickey Lemle joins us to talk about his three decade friendship with His Holiness and the profound impact he has had on  politics, culture and a deeper understanding of our shared human nature.

For news and updates go to: thelastdalailamafilm.com/

The Last Dalai Lama opens on Friday, August 11 at the Laemmle Monica Center in Santa Monica for tickets and showtimes

Join Director Mickey Lemle for a Q & A following the Friday, Saturday and Sunday 7:30pm screenings

“You want the chance to bask in his presence and come out with a heightened sense of what he’s about. “The Last Dalai Lama?” accomplishes that, and with an offhand eloquence, though it’s a sketchy, catch-as-catch-can movie …” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“A surplus of wisdom and benevolence radiates from “The Last Dalai Lama?”’ – Helen T. Verongos, New York Times 

“The more an audience member sees the beauty left in the Buddhist leader’s wake, the more it become clear that his influence has the power to continue generations beyond his passing.” – Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle

August 11, 2017 – All the Rage: Saved by Sarno, Director Michael Galinsky

Filmmaker Michael Galinsky takes you on his 12-year journey to heal his back. Suffering from chronic back pain and weeks of living and sleeping on the floor, Galinsky found healing through his work directly with Dr. John Sarno at NYU Medical Center. Sarno had changed shock jock Howard Stern’s life. Veteran Senator Tom Harkin was inspired to campaign for his cause, and he gave comedian Larry David “the closest thing to a religious experience” he’s ever had. Sarno’s best selling book “Healing Back Pain” was first published in the 1980’s, and when co-director Galinsky’s father read it, he was cured of chronic whiplash. This artful and personal film, ALL THE RAGE – SAVED BY SARNO, braids Galinsky’s universal story of pain and emotion together with the story of Dr. Sarno’s work, connecting the audience to both the issues and the emotions at play. Featuring interviews with Howard Stern, Larry David, journalist John Stossel, Dr. Andrew Weil, Senators Bernie Sanders and Tom Harkin, and other luminaries, ALL THE RAGE offers a profound rethink of our health care. Director Michael Galinsky stops by to talk about his own back pain and journey to find out the connection between the body and personal trauma. 

For news and updates go to: alltheragedoc.com

All The Rage: Saved by Sarno screens at the Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles, 9036  Wilshire Blvd. beginning Friday, August 11. Join Director Michael Galinsky and special guests this weekend.

Friday 8/11: 2:20 Director Michael Galinsky joined by Adam Heller of Zero Pain Now

4:50 Director Michael Galinsky joined by Dr. David Schechter 

7:20 Director Michael Galinsky joined by writer Director Jonathan Ames

Saturday 8/12: 2:20 Director Michael Galinsky

4:50 Director Michael Galinsky joined by Alan Gordon of the Pain Psychology Center

7:20 Director Michael Galinsky joined by Alan Gordon of the Pain Psychology Center

Sunday 8/13: 2:20 Michael Galinsky with Jennifer Huggins, Cinical Psychologist

4:50 Michael Galinsky with guest

“This isn’t a conventional documentary, but it’s a damn adventurous film.” – John Everhart, Under the Radar

“”All the Rage” overrides most of its shortcomings by keeping a breezy tone and by showing Dr. Sarno to be a convincing speaker, as well as an affable and somewhat crusty character.” – Ken Jaworosky, New York Times

August 4, 2017 – Icarus, Director Bryan Fogel

 

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In the truly audacious documentary ICARUS, director Bryan Fogel’s bold gambit was this: to investigate doping in sports, Fogel (an amateur bike racer) would dope himself, observe the changes in his performance, and see if he could evade detection. In doing so, he was connected to a renegade Russian scientist, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, a pillar of his country’s “anti-doping” program. Over dozens of Skype calls, urine samples, and badly administered hormone injections, Fogel and Rodchenkov grow closer despite shocking allegations that place Rodchenkov at the center of Russia’s state-sponsored Olympic doping program. When the truth is more complex than imagined, and accusations of illegalities run to Russia’s highest chains of command, the two realize they hold the power to reveal the biggest international sports scandal in living memory. Exemplifying the special bond between filmmaker and subject, this is a vital portrait of the sacrifice some people will make to stand up for truth. ICARUS places you at the heart of an international game of cat and mouse, where a miscalculation can cost you your life. Director Bryan Fogel joins us to talk about his unbelievably prescient film.

Icarus opens on August 4 at the Laemmle Monica Film Center

Watch Icarus on netflix.com

87% on Rotten Tomatoes

WINNER: “Orwell Award” – 2017 Sundance Film Festival

WINNER: Audience Award – 2017 Sundance Film Festival: London

“A wildly timely movie for our current moment, as issues of cheating, illegitimacy and geopolitical bullies take center stage… engrossing, disturbing and believable” – Robert Abele, The Wrap 

“What started out as director/bicycle rider Bryan Fogel’s personal documentary takes a startling and unexpected turn into nerve-wracking thriller territory” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, it couldn’t be more timely” – Eric Kohn, Indiewire

“Takes viewers inside a world-rattling, whistleblowing controversy” – Logan Hill, Esquire 

July 28, 2017 – Memories of a Penitent Heart, Director Cecilia Aldarondo

Combining a wealth of recently discovered home movies, video, and written documents with artfully shot contemporary interviews and vérité footage, MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART is a documentary that cracks open a Pandora’s box of unresolved family drama. Originating from filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo’s suspicion that there was something ugly in her family’s past, the film charts her excavation of the buried family conflict around her uncle Miguel’s death, and her search for Miguel’s partner Robert a generation later. After two years of dead ends, Robert turns up: but he’s not the same man. He’s reinvented himself as Father Aquin, a Franciscan monk with twenty-five years of pent-up grief and bitterness. For the first time, a member of Miguel’s family wants to hear Aquin’s side of the story—but is it too little, too late? A story about the mistakes of the past and the second chances of the present, MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART is a cautionary tale about the unresolved conflicts wrought by AIDS, and a nuanced exploration of how faith is used and abused in times of crisis. Director Cecilia Aldarondo is a 2017 Women at Sundance Fellow and was named by Filmmaker Magazine as one of 2015’s ’25 New Faces of Independent Film.’ She joins us to talk about her brother Miguel, a Catholic priest, her father Jorge and the ramifications of revealing her family’s hidden history.

For news and updates go to: penitentheart.com

Watch Memories of a Penitent Heart – on the PBS POV series Monday, July 31 at 10 PM

“A highly personal portrait of the importance of embracing who you have while you still can.” – Nick Schager, Village Voice

July 21, 2017 – Chasing Coral, Director Jeff Orlowski

 

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Coral reefs are the nursery for all life in the oceans, a remarkable ecosystem that sustains us. Yet with carbon emissions warming the seas, a phenomenon called “coral bleaching”—a sign of mass coral death—has been accelerating around the world, and the public has no idea of the scale or implication of the catastrophe silently raging underwater. Chasing Coral taps into the collective will and wisdom of an ad man, a self-proclaimed coral nerd, top-notch camera designers, and renowned marine biologists as they invent the first time-lapse camera to record bleaching events as they happen. Unfortunately, the effort is anything but simple, and the team doggedly battles technical malfunctions and the force of nature in pursuit of their golden fleece: documenting the indisputable and tragic transformation below the waves. With its breathtaking photography, nail-biting suspense, and startling emotion, Chasing Coral is a dramatic revelation that won’t have audiences sitting idle for long. Director Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Ice) joins us for a lively and hopeful discussion on what is happening to mother ocean and how we can avoid the catastrophic consequences of a world without coral reefs.

For news and updates go to: chasingcoral.com

“The beauty of Chasing Coral is matched only by its urgency, as director Jeff Orlowski encapsulates the issue of global climate change by showing where it’s doing real, measurable damage in real time: The world’s coral reefs.” – Sean P. Means

“The film is a devastating success, moving in its beauty and wrenching when that beauty withers.” – Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice

“‘Chasing Coral’ presents the evidence with beauty, intelligence and a surprising amount of emotion.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angles Times

“The urgency of this problem requires people to become informed about the issues, starting with seeing the film either at the IFC or on Netflix.” – Louis Proyect, rec.arts.movies

July 21, 2017 – Swim Team, Director Lara Stolman

 

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SWIM TEAM is a feature documentary chronicling the rise of a competitive swim team made up of diverse teens on the autism spectrum. Based in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the cast of SWIM TEAM is largely Latino and Asian, minorities that are underrepresented in competitive swimming and underserved in autism intervention and education. SWIM TEAM follows three of the team’s star athletes, boys on the cusp of adulthood as they face a future of exclusion and dependence. But everything changes when they come together as a team with parent coaches who train them with high expectations and zero pity. As the team vies for state and national Special Olympics championships, SWIM TEAM captures a moving quest for inclusion, independence  and a life that feels winning. Director Lara Stolman joins us for to talk about the struggles and triumphs of Mikey, Kelvin and Robbie and the people who love them.

For news and updates go to: swimteamthefilm.com

“The breaststroking, freestyling young athletes in “Swim Team” couldn’t be more different in terms of personality, drive, appeal and, of course, developmental challenges, and it gives this film from Lara Stolman its particular character, heart and verve.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

“Swim Team is long enough to break and warm your heart in equal measure – which is about what you’d expect from a documentary about teenagers with autism who are training to compete in the Special Olympics.” – Ella Taylor, NPR

“This isn’t “just” a film about special needs. It’s about special kids – and the very special adults who advocate for them.” – Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

“Well paced and well produced, Swim Team is engaging throughout and would be easy to enjoy as light viewing, but there’s more going on beneath the surface.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

The Last Men in Aleppo, Director Feras Fayyad

 

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After five years of war in Syria, the remaining citizens of Aleppo are getting ready for a siege. We follow the volunteers from The White Helmets as they experience the daily life of death and struggle in the streets of the city. They fight for sanity in a place where war has become the norm. Khaled, Subhi and Mahmoud are among the first to enter the destroyed buildings, scouring through the rubble in search of bodies and signs of life. They now live more or less under siege and constant bombings, together with the remaining 350.000 civilians in Aleppo. They all struggle with the same dilemma: Should they flee and bring their families to safety, or should they stay and fight for their city? Director Feras Fayyad talks about the fearless actions of the The White Helmets and his gripping, harrowing and sobering documentary.

For news and updates go to: Last Men in Aleppo

“‘Last Men in Aleppo’ is likely to make you almost ashamed of your comforts and leave you with a feeling of impotence.” Glenn Kenny, The NYTimes

You should — you must — see Last Men in Aleppo to witness an ongoing tragedy. But you should also see it to learn humility.” – David Edelstein, Vulture

Feras Fayyad’s viscerally immediate, exquisitely realized portrait of the Syrian Civil Defense’s “White Helmet” volunteers.” – Guy Lodge, Variety

“Last Men In Aleppo has the upsetting urgency of breaking news: There are moments that could have come straight from a live stream, given the violence that’s still rocking Syria, months after Fayyad’s cameras stopped rolling.” – A.A. Down, AV Club

Birthright: A War Story, Director Civia Tamarkin and Producer Luchina Fisher

 

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BIRTHRIGHT: A WAR STORY is a feature length documentary that examines how women are being jailed, physically violated and even put at risk of dying as a radical movement tightens its grip across America. The film tells the story of women who have become collateral damage in the aggressive campaign to take control of reproductive health care and to allow states, courts and religious doctrine to govern whether, when and how women will bear children. The documentary explores the accelerating gains of the crusade to control pregnant women and the fallout that is creating a public health crisis, turning pregnant women into criminals and challenging the constitutional protections of every woman in America. This is the real-life “Handmaid’s Tale.” Director Civia Tamarkin and Producer Luchina Fisher talk about an insidious, pernicious campaign to undermine and ultimately deny women’s control over their own body.

For news and updates go to: birthrightfilm.com

“Birthright is a stark look at how far the rights of half the US population have been eroded, and it should make anybody — no matter their feelings about abortion — sit up and take notice.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

“… this film is important especially for people, like one group of interviewed high schoolers, who think that Roe v. Wade was something “learned some time ago” with no application to their own lives.” Harvey Karen, Compuserve

“A necessary, if not always well-constructed, examination of the perilous state of reproductive rights in the United States.” – Maria Garcia, Film Journal International

“The case histories are stacked to support the film’s point of view, but that doesn’t make them less painful.” – Helen Verongos, New York Times

“The film’s real strength, however, is revealed a bit late, in a series of stark portraits of women who have faced prosecution as they sought to take care of themselves.” – Daphne Howland, Village Voice

The Man in the Camo Jacket, Director Russ Kendall

 

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MAN IN THE CAMO JACKET is the story of iconic musician Mike Peters of the Welsh rock band The Alarm. The film traces his rise to fame, battles with cancer, and inspiring climb back as he enlists some of the world’s top musicians to help save the lives of cancer patients around the globe. Ultimately though, the life he saves may be his own. Filmed over the course of eight years, the film documents Mike’s journeys to the summits of the world’s tallest mountains and to the depths of his regular chemotherapy treatments and features one-of-a-kind performances from legendary rock musicians. MAN IN THE CAMO JACKET won Best Music Documentary at the 2017 Arizona International Film Festival and the Audience Award for Best Music at the 2017 Newport Beach Film Festival. Mike Peters was honored with the Humanitarian Award at the 2017 American Documentary Film Festival. MAN IN THE CAMO JACKET features Mike Peters of The Alarm, Slim Jim Phantom of Stray Cats, Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses, Billy Bragg, Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins, Richard Blade, Martha Quinn. Director Russ Kendall joins us to talk about his rousing, life-affirming new film.

For news and updates go to: maninthecamojacket.com

Nobody Speak, Trials of the Free Press, Director Brian Knappenberger

When online tabloid Gawker posted a sex tape starring former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, a high-stakes legal battle pitting privacy rights against the First Amendment ensued. Hogan won the case and the staggering settlement he received not only bankrupted Gawker, but exposed a controversial, behind-the-scenes benefactor: Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel. Taking examples like Sheldon Adelson’s purchase of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, this documentary illustrates a growing, sinister trend at odds with our country’s free press. Billionaires are tipping the balance on the public’s access to news, posing new threats to society’s relationship to the truth. Director Brian Knappenberger’s film “NOBODY SPEAK: Trials of the Free Press” premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. His previous film “The Internet’s Own Boy:The Story of Aaron Swartz” won the Writers Guild Award for Outstanding Documentary Screenplay. His other work includes “We Are Legion:The Story of the Hacktivists” and the series “Truth And Power.” Director Brian Knappenberger joins us to talk about the extraordinarily important issues raised in Nobody Speaks  and the ramifications of a brave new world where a ruling class of rich and powerful interest can determine our collective access to vital information.

Check out Nobody Speak at Netflix

“What the film offers is evidence of a pattern, the shadows of a disturbing trend that add up to a warning: If we, as a society, don’t push back against the chipping away of the freedom of information, it’s only going to get worse, until it eats us alive.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“A film about the vital importance of speaking truth to power needn’t be so concerned with dressing up its own frightful truths, but Nobody Speak still compels as an opening statement on journalism’s dubious future.” – Michael Nordine, IndieWire

“A troubling foreshadowing of things to come if journalists are threatened, sidelined or attacked by powerful institutions and people more concerned with their own interests than what’s best for the country or communities.” – Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times

“This documentary is an invigorating, disturbing portrait of the arrogance and sinister self-importance of rich people, bullying politicians and their battalions of lawyers.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

Vegas Baby, Director Amanda Micheli

 

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Executive Producer Morgan Spurlock presents director Amanda Micheli’s provocative documentary follows several aspiring parents who desperately want to have a baby but are struggling with infertility and the high cost of treatments. They place themselves in the hands of a Las Vegas doctor and his annual contest, which offers a prize of a free round of in-vitro fertilization—with no guarantee of success. Contestants post their video entries on YouTube, counting on the votes of strangers to make their dreams of parenthood come true. Despite the fact that 1 in 6 couples worldwide are unable to naturally conceive and carry a baby to term, for fear of judgment or heartache or both, infertility stories are largely kept secret. While exposing private pain online to win a contest is a brutal proposition, IVF is rarely covered by insurance in the U.S., so many infertile couples consider this a gamble worth taking. Through this controversial contest, VEGAS BABY navigates the complexities of America’s burgeoning fertility industry and unveils the class disparity within a topic that is often clouded by judgment and stereotypes.Oscar-nominated Director Amanda Micheli joins us to talk about the universal themes of desire and loss through her intimate portrait of the diverse individuals – from a devoutly Catholic Latino couple in Texas to a lesbian Lady Gaga Impersonator in New York – determined to have a baby against all odds.

For news and updates go to: Vegas Baby

“Through a humane, emotional examination of the contest… director Amanda Micheli’s documentary highlights the complexities and despair of America’s fertility industry.” – Joe McGovern / Entertainment Weekly

“The economic and emotional costs of in vitro fertilization are powerfully evident from the first moments of VEGAS BABY… having gained remarkable access to fertility patients over a two-year period, Micheli follows them through roller-coaster waves of despair and hope.” – Sheri Linden / Hollywood Reporter

“VEGAS BABY offers a look inside an otherwise intensely private sphere, marked by economic difficulties, raw emotions, and—with luck—confetti-strewn celebrations.” – Laura Regensdorf / Vogue

“New IVF Doc Exposes Underground World of Hunger Games-Esque Baby Raffles; Amanda Micheli’s VEGAS BABY explores a digital-age concept for women failing to conceive.” – Elissa Strauss / Elle

“Micheli turns an unrelenting eye on tough stories that transcend sex and gender.” – Kate Erbland / Indiewire

Food Evolution, Director Scott Hamilton Kennedy

 

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Amidst a brutally polarized debate marked by passion, suspicion and confusion, FOOD EVOLUTION, by Academy Award®-nominated director Scott Hamilton Kennedy (The Garden, Fame High, OT: Our Town), explores the controversy surrounding GMOs and food. Traveling from Hawaiian papaya groves, to banana farms in Uganda to the cornfields of Iowa, the film, narrated by esteemed science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson, wrestles with the emotions and the science driving one of the most heated arguments of our time. In the GMO debate, both pro and anti camps claim science is on their side. Who’s right? FOOD EVOLUTION shows how easily misinformation, confusion and fear can overwhelm objective analysis. How do we ensure that our food supply is safe, and that everyone has enough to eat? How do we feed the world while also protecting the planet? Has genetic engineering increased or decreased pesticide use? Are GMO foods bad for your health? And, most importantly, what data, evidence and sources are we using to approach these important questions? Enlisting experts such as Mark Lynas, Michael Pollan, Alison Van Eenennaam, Jeffrey Smith, Andrew Kimbrell, Vandana Shiva, Robert Fraley, Marion Nestle and Bill Nye, as well as farmers and scientists from around the world, this bold and necessary documentary separates the hype and emotion from the science and data to unravel the debate around food, and help audiences reach their own conclusions. In a debate in which all sides claim to be on the side of science, FOOD EVOLUTION brings a fresh perspective to one of the most critical issues facing global society today. Director Scott Hamilton Kennedy joins us for a conversation on the science of genetically modified organism and the impassioned arguments surrounding them.

For news and updates go to: Food Evolution

“Persuasive rather than polemical, it’s the unusual issue film that deals in counterintuitive reason rather than barely controlled hysteria.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“With a soft tone, respectful to opponents but insistent on the data, “Food Evolution” posits an inconvenient truth for organic boosters to swallow: In a world desperate for safe, sustainable food, G.M.O.s may well be a force for good.” – Daniel Gold, New York Times

“A polished and provocative call for activists to be as scientifically minded as they believe they are.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

Nowhere to Hide, Director Zaradasht Ahmed

 

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Nowhere to Hide follows male nurse Nori Sharif through five years of dramatic change, providing unique access into one of the world’s most dangerous and inaccessible areas – the “triangle of death” in central Iraq. Initially filming stories of survivors and the hope of a better future as American and Coalition troops retreat from Iraq in 2011, conflicts continue with Iraqi militias, and the population flees accompanied by most of the hospital staff. Nori is one of the few who remain. When ISIS advances on Jalawla in 2014 and takes over the city, he too must flee with his family at a moment’s notice, and turns the camera on himself. The film stretches over a period of five years, beginning with the hope of a better future, to witnessing the growth of ISIS (the Islamic State), and eventually the fall of Nori’s home town. As Nori keeps filming throughout this period of time, he begins to turn the camera on himself. Nori’s narrative represents persistence, hope and faith. But, in this new reality of being squeezed between two giant forces – ISIS on one side and the Iraqi militias on the other, is it possible to remain impartial and keep his family intact? Will he and his family survive, and be able to rebuild the country and the oasis that lies hidden behind the smoke and rubble? Director Zaradasht Ahmed talks with us about the utter devastation and fading hope of normality that now pervades his beloved country.

For news and updates go to Nowhere to Hide

NOWHERE TO HIDE at the Laemmle Music Hall (9036 Wilshire Blvd.) – Q&A schedule: Friday, June 30th – 7:30 p.m. : Director Zaradasht Ahmed in conversation with Documentary Editor/Filmmaker Doug Blush; Saturday July 1st – 7:30 p.m. : Q and A with Director Zaradasht Ahmed; Sunday, July 2nd – 7:30 p.m. : Director Zaradasht Ahmed in conversation with Film Critic Dan Schindel (Film School Rejects, Paste Magazine).

“As captured through the ceaselessly unflinching lens of Sharif’s borrowed video camera, “Nowhere to Hide” offers an uneasy prognosis that is at once graphically gut-wrenching and doggedly life-affirming” – Michael Rechtshaffen, LA Times

“Zaradasht Ahmed’s documentary Nowhere to Hide is a you-are-there gut-punch about Iraq after the American military’s 2011 withdrawal.” – Sherilyn Connelly, SF Weekly

“Some great documentaries cut through the inessentials and help you make sense of an apparently senseless world. Others … shock you into an even greater confoundment, demonstrating, moment by moment, how irrational the world really is.” – David Edelstein, New York Magazine

“A profoundly brave film.” – Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times

The Skyjacker’s Tale, Director Jamie Kastner

In the riveting new documentary THE SKYJACKER’S TALE, Ishmael Muslim Ali (formerly LaBeet) is the American convicted of murdering eight people on a Rockefeller-owned golf course in the US Virgin Islands. After years of trying to get his conviction overturned, he took matters into his own hands and hijacked an American Airlines plane full of passengers to Cuba on New Years Eve 1984, and got away with it. Until now. Thirty years on the FBI’s most wanted list and against the backdrop of his looming extradition to serve eight consecutive life sentences in the US, the film recounts the hijacking that got him here, re-examines his original trial and reveals a gross miscarriage of justice. In a story that is more relevant than ever with racially charged police brutality and injustice constantly in the headlines, THE SKYJACKER’S TALE captures LaBeet / Ali’s first interview since the hijacking and includes never before seen footage. Is he a heartless criminal or a victim? The audience must decide. But what emerges is a picture of American government and law enforcement attitudes and actions toward their own population that are shockingly similar to the headlines of today. Director Jamie Kastner talks about the shocking revelations surrounding the forced confessions and extraordinary legal proceedings that led to LaBeet’s desperate act.

For news and updates go to: Skyjacker’s Tale

THE SKYJACKERS TALE filmmaker Jamie Kastner will participate in Q&As following the 7:20 screenings on Friday and Saturday evening at the Monica Film Center, July 14 and 15.

“The Skyjacker’s Tale mixes archival footage with well-detailed re-creations and present-day interviews to explore a little-known chapter in U.S. colonial politics.” – Georgia Straight

“Kastner relies a little too heavily on dramatic re-enactments of Labeet’s flight to Cuba in the first section, but the film gets a lot more involving once he starts digging into the history that put Labeet on that plane in the first place.” – Peter Howell, Toronto Star

“Kastner has crafted an entertainingly kitschy version of an Errol Morris film …” – Village Voice

The Reagan Show, Co-Director Sierra Pettengill (Pacho Velez)

 

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Teasing apart the spectacle at the heart of finger-on-the-button global diplomacy, THE REAGAN SHOW follows Ronald Reagan’s rivalry with charismatic Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, tracing how the Communicator-in-Chief uses his public relations chops to overcome Soviet mistrust, the objections of a skeptical press corps and the looming threat of WW III. Chock full of wit and political irony, and told solely through 1980s network news and videotapes created by the Reagan administration itself, the film explores Reagan’s made-for-TV approach to politics as he faced down the United States’ greatest rival.  Pacho Velez’s & Sierra Pettengill’s timely film explores Ronald Reagan’s media savvy through the use of  previously unseen footage shot by White House staff. Co-director Sierra Pettengill (Pacho Velez) joins us for a conversation on this sweeping behind the scenes look at a pivotal moment in the history of US / Russian relations and the impact of an enveloping new media culture.

For news and updates go to: The Reagan Show

100% on RottenTomatoes

Laemmle – Playhouse 7  – Q&A with Writer Josh Alexander and moderated by: Akiva Gottlie (Int’l Documentary Association) – Saturday July 1st

“As clever and breathtaking a look at the performative aspects of our politics as any film made in recent memory, and perhaps ever.”– Brandon Harris, Filmmaker Magazine.com

“[A] masterful documentary that is crucial and unique.” – Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out NY

“This doc says volumes about then and now.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone.com

“…a jokey yet wonky trip through the alternate reality of the modern era’s first great political media machine.” – Chris Barsanti, The Playlist

Dalya’s Other Country – Director Julia Meltzer

 

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A smiling, effervescent teenager, Dalya is the focus of the new documentary Dalya’s Other Country, which tells the remarkable story of a family displaced by the Syrian conflict and explores a young life caught between highly politicized identities. Dalya comes across as an ordinary Southern California teenager. She takes selfies and goes to prom. She plays sports and hangs out at the mall. She is also the only student at her Catholic high school who wears a hijab. In 2012, Dalya moved to the United States from Aleppo, Syria, as her country disintegrated in the wake of a horrific civil war. Starting in 2013, the film follows Dalya and her mother through what seems at first a typical immigration experience. They adjust to unfamiliar American ways,  even as they maintain the cultural and religious traditions that sustain them. However, they grow tense and anxious as the 2016 presidential campaign unfolds and candidate Donald Trump calls for restrictions on Muslim immigrants. Director Julia Meltzer stops by to talk about Dalya’s uniqueness and the commonality of human beings seeking acceptance and a chance to be themselves.

MONDAY, JUNE 26 at 9 PM PBS Television Series POV Kicks-Off 30th Season with Timely Focus on Syrian War and Global Refugee Crisis

Dalya’s Other Country is a co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)

For news and updates go to: pbs.org/pov/dalyasothercountry

Also go to: dalyasothercountry.com

Hare Krishna! The Mantra, The Movement and the Swami Who Started It All – Co-Director Lauren Ross (John Griesser, Jean Griesser)

 

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1965: America is in turmoil. Unprecedented introspection and questioning of societal norms roil the country. Prabhupada, an unassuming 70-year-old Swami from India, arrives in New York City alone and without support or money. He carries only the ancient scriptures he has translated, and the firm faith in his teacher’s request: “offer spiritual wisdom to the people of the world!” Suddenly thrust into the raging counterculture movement, Prabhupada speaks of the world’s real need, which is not necessarily satisfied by political or social revolutions, but by a revolution of consciousness. This divergence from the status quo successfully captures the attention of a generation of youth seeking answers to life’s existential questions. From a tiny storefront on 26th 2nd Avenue, Prabhupada shares with them the idea that the way to find real happiness, love and freedom is to search within and connect to your true self. All this, the Swami says, begins by simply chanting a rhythmic, meditative 16-word mantra – Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This universal message resonates with more and more people, including musician George Harrison whose hit song ‘My Sweet Lord’, features the Hare Krishna chant. From there, Prabhupada’s movement explodes, and his followers – now known as the Hare Krishnas – become infamous for chanting and dancing in the streets. Co-director Lauren Ross (John Griessen, Jean Griessen) joins us to talk about the remarkable life and time of Swami Prabhupada and his mission to teach happiness.

For news and updates: harekrishnathefilm.com

“A dynamic documentary about the visionary Vedic scholar who launched the Hare Krishna movement.” – Spirituality and Practice

HARE KRISHNA! director John Griesser and producer Lauren Ross will participate in Q&A’s at the Monica Film Center after the 7:30 PM screenings on Friday and Saturday, June 23 and 24. HARE KRISHNA! writer Jean Griesser will join them on Friday and HARE KRISHNA! composer Michael Mollura will join them on Saturday.