Screening at this year’s Dances with Films, Cowboy and Preacher comes face-to-face with thedegradation of the environment as the most daunting crisis facing humankind. If that isn’t enough, many people oppose action to save the environment or deny there is even a problem. Some of the most vocal and powerful of these people are conservative Christians in the USA. Tri Robinson, a conservative evangelical pastor but also life-long environmentalist, has battled throughout his life to show that Christianity and environmentalism are not mutually exclusive. In fact, environmental stewardship is demanded by Christianity – “with dominion comes responsibility”. Most environmental films are framed for a liberal audience and preach to the converted. This film addresses “unconverted” Christians, while offering liberal non-Christians a fascinating insight into evangelical values and mindset as Tri, at work on his ranch or church, builds up a Biblical case for environmentalism emphasizing respect and responsibility that flies in the face of many on either side. This film is absolutely timely – the destruction of the environment is the most important issue facing all people, and many politicians and voters need to face it. Director Will Fraser (The Genius of Cavaillé-Coll, Martinkerk Rondeau) stops by to talk about breaking down the barriers that are keeping many from an honest conversation on the looming challenge of climate disruption and the impact Tri Robison has had on his own path to spiritual commitment.
“To A More Perfect Union: U.S. V. Windsor” shares a rich tapestry of love, marriage, and a fight for equality. The film chronicles unlikely heroes — octogenarian Edie Windsor and her attorney, Roberta Kaplan, on their quest for justice. Upon the death of her spouse Thea Spyer, Windsor was forced to pay a huge estate tax bill because the government denied federal benefits to same-sex couples. Windsor became a renowned LGBTQ civil rights advocate when she chose to sue the United States government to recognize her more than 40 year union– andwon Windsor and Kaplan’slegal and personal journeys go beyond the story of this pivotal case in the marriage equality movement as Zaccaro tells the story of our journey as a culture, and as a country that promises its citizens equal rights for all. The film features interviews with notable voices in this civil rights battle, including: Roberta Kaplan (Windsor Attorney), Pam Karlan (Windsor Legal Team & Co-Director, Stanford Supreme Court Litigation Clinic), Rosie O’Donnell (Comedian, Actor & Activist), Frank Rich (Writer-At-Large, NY Magazine), Hilary Rosen (Communications Advisor & LGBT Activist), Richard Socarides (White House Special Assistant & Advisor to President Clinton), Matt Staver (Founder & Chairman of Liberty Counsel), Jeff Toobin (CNN Legal Analyst & New Yorker Staff Writer), Nina Totenberg (Legal Affairs Correspondent for National Public Radio), Tony West (Former Associate U.S. Attorney General), Edie Windsor (Plaintiff), Evan Wolfson (Founder & President of Freedom to Marry), among others.Donna Zaccaro (“Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way”) joins us to talk about her intimate tale of the struggle for universal equal rights and the on-going attempts to undermine them. Director Donna Zaccaro talks about the heroic struggle by Edie Windsor and the scarring legal battles that it took to achieve this historic victory for human rights.
In a farmhouse basement on the Iowa countryside, eccentric collector Mike Zahs makes a remarkable discovery: the showreels of the man who brought moving pictures to America’s Heartland. Among the treasures: rare footage of President Teddy Roosevelt, the first moving images from Palestine, a lost relic from magical effects godfather Georges Méliés. These are the films that introduced movies to the world. And they didn’t end up in Iowa by accident. The old nitrate reels are just some of the artifacts that belonged to William Franklin Brinton. From thousands of trinkets, handwritten journals, receipts, posters and catalogs emerges the story of an inventive farmboy who became America’s greatest barnstorming movieman. As Mike uncovers this hidden legacy, he begins a journey to restore the Brinton name that takes us to The Library of Congress, Paris and back for a big screen extravaganza in the same small-town movie theater where Frank first turned on a projector over a century ago. By uniting community through a pride in their living history, Mike embodies a welcome antidote to the breakneck pace of our disposable society.Saving Brinton’s co-director Andrew Sherburne joins us to talk about this moving a portrait of this unlikely Midwestern folk hero, at once a meditation on living simply and a celebration of dreaming big.
“The movie’s hands-off approach does often amount to something poignant.” – Wesley Morris, New York Times
“A charming tribute to one remarkably dedicated cinema fan and historian, and to his decades-long hard work to save an essential piece of the pop-culture past and cultivate its story for the future.” – MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Filosopher
“… a marvelous documentary about saving the past and why it’s important to remember it.” – Linda Cook, Quad City Times
“Anyone who loves movies is bound to love Saving Brinton” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
With a title taken from the New Testament, Strangers on the Earth follows the extraordinary, almost foolishly ambitious mission of Cleveland Orchestra cellist Dane Johansen to traverse the storied paths of Europe’s famed pilgrimage trail, the Camino de Santiago. Johansen’s singular quest to walk the 600-mile trail carrying his cello on his back sets him apart from most other pilgrims. His goal: to perform and record Bach’s Cello Suites in 36 ancient churches along the way. As has likely occurred on every Camino pilgrimage since the Middle Ages, Johansen encounters a diverse array of characters: lovers whose entire relationship plays out in a matter of a few weeks; self-styled philosophers; wounded souls recovering from illness or mourning the loss of loved ones. All share the trials and tribulations of the journey along with their personal stories over goat-skins of wine. An experiential piece of filmmaking, Strangers on the Earth brings to audiences a musical artist’s personal journey set against a universal backdrop. The film reveals the shared experience of the pilgrims who walk the Camino, finding common patterns in both the multitude of bodies who move westward on the path each year (the physical) and the inner life of these same individuals who are often surrounded by other pilgrims – but are very much alone. We are joined by director Tristan Cook to talk about his thoughtful take on recognizing the importance of beauty, dreams, spirituality, art, music and humanity,
“Opens a window onto a famous Catholic pilgrimage…giving some sense of the profundity of the experience.” – The New York Times
“A soulful riff on the all-too-fleeting rhapsodies of travel. Beauty-dazed and rapt with a kind of giddy sadness.” – Film Journal
“Europe’s most famous path. Take it, and this marvelous film, at your own pace.” – The Globe and Mail
“Ironically if you’re walking 700 km or 700 miles with other people, you cannot expect them to be strangers on the earth. An engaging doc about the centuries’ old pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela” – Harvey S. Karten, Big Apple Reviews
NOSSA CHAPE tracks the rebuilding of the Chapecoense football club in Brazil after a November 28, 2016 airplane crash left only three players alive. Through exclusive access to the families of the deceased, the new team and three severely injured recovering players, the documentary investigates the community’s many challenges in the aftermath of tragedy. The town finds itself divided by a desire to respect the memory of those they lost while also preparing to move the club into its future. The citizens and team must find a way to unite around a common identity. From fairytale to tragedy to triumph once more. The unique story of Chapecoense — a football club from a remote Brazilian city that miraculously qualifies for the final of the Copa Sudamericana, only to face destruction when the plane flying them to the game crashes, killing the entire team except for three players. How will those who remain alive handle the tragedy? Co-director Michael Zimbalist (Two Escobars) joins us to talk about the tragedy and the resurrection of a city, team and three Nossa Chape players’ incredible story.
“A rising-from-the-ashes-of-tragedy documentary that underlines how well the filmmaking Zimbalist Brothers know South America, know Brazil and know futbol.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“Charged and poignant.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
“From finger pointing to shared sadness, and moments of unexpected communion and joy, Nossa Chape is most engrossing when it pulls back from individual players, and takes in the whole stadium.” – Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle
“Nossa Chape has an urgency and poignancy that several narrative dramas only wish they could achieve.” – Bobby LePire, Film Threat
More than 50,000 local interpreters helped protect U.S. troops on the ground during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, enabling soldiers to communicate with the local population. But those who took the job were often considered traitors in their own countries. From the acclaimed filmmakers of “Gaucho del Norte,” Andrés Caballero and Sofian Khan, comes the new feature documentary The Interpreters, making its World Premiere at Telluride Mountainfilm Festival on Memorial Day Weekend on Saturday, May 26 and Monday, May 28. The film tells the story of three interpreters woven together over the course of two years, following them as they struggle for safety in the aftermath of war and attempt to rebuild their lives. “The idea for The Interpreters came after meeting Phillip Morris,” said directors Andrés Caballero and Sofian Khan. “We were immediately curious about his journey from the moment he started working with U.S. forces until his arrival to the U.S. with the help of Paul Braun. But simply telling Phillip’s journey would not be enough to tell the full story. We also wanted to know about the stories of the interpreters who were still in hiding, waiting for their Special Immigrant Visas, and those who had given up on the visas and left for Europe as refugees. Our goal with the film is to inform viewers about an important issue, which became even more relevant after the last U.S. election, without overshadowing the personal journeys of the characters.” Co-directors Andres Caballero and Sofian Khan stop by to talk about the challenges and imminent danger that thousands of men and women have faced by assisting US soldiers attempting to connect with local communities.
Filmworker is an observation on how legends and legendary works are created. The complex, productive and interdependent relationship between Leon Vitali and Stanley Kubrick was founded on devotion, artistic passion, sensibility, sacrifice and the grueling joy of the creative process. It’s a rare person who would give up fame and fortune to toil in obscurity for someone else’s creative vision. Yet, that’s exactly what Leon Vitali did after his acclaimed performance as ‘Lord Bullingdon” in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. On the brink of a successful acting career, the young actor stepped back from the limelight in order to become the right-hand man to perhaps the most influential and ground-breaking filmmaker of his time, Stanley Kubrick. Vitali played a crucial part in the director’s career, working tirelessly in close collaboration with Kubrick in helping to make and maintain his extraordinary legacy of work. Vitali’s unique working relationship with Kubrick is explored through anecdotes about his candid, funny (and sometimes shocking) experiences with the director, enhanced with a rich variety of previously-unseen archival materials including photos, videos, letters and notebooks from Vitali’s personal collection, and brought together through interviews with actors, family, and key film industry professionals who worked with both Kubrick and Vitali. Filmworker. Director Tony Zierra joins us to talk about the creative process, Stanley Kubrick and his closest and most dedicated collaborator, Leon Vitali, who once described his own occupation simply as “Filmworker.”
The story of why and how more than 3 million high school students take the SAT or ACT, the college entrance exams required by most four-year colleges, is vividly dissected in THE TEST & THE ART OF THINKING. For decades there have been questions about exactly what these tests measure, what role they play in the admissions process and how predictive they are of academic success. The anxiety-provoking exams, and the multibillion-dollar test-prep industry that has grown up around them, have also become lightning rods in the ongoing national debate over equity in educational opportunity. No matter what age the child, they will have, or have had, a lot of pressure to perform well on these tests. There is also much money to be made from students and their parents in education particularly when it comes to the SAT/ACT with the not-for-profit College Board and the thousands of independent tutors reaping millions of dollars in profits.THE TEST & THE ART OF THINKING traces the history and evolution of the SAT/ACT as a major player on the pathway to higher education in America, and documents its current power in our culture. Director Michael Arlen Davis examines this controversy through interviews with students, parents, counselors, test-prep professionals and academics, to provide a fascinating look at this uniquely American rite of passage and how it reflects deeper issues in our educational system — and our society as a whole. Davis joins us for a lively conversation on how we got here and other options that may provide viable alternatives.
Conveying Basquiat’s personal magnetism, eccentricity and non-stop creativity without romanticizing him, BOOM FOR REAL: THE LATE TEENAGE YEARS OF JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT serves as another chapter in the ongoing effort to rescue the artist from his own hype. To tell this story, Driver, who was part of the New York arts scene herself, worked closely and collaboratively with friends and other artists who emerged from that period. Drawing upon their memories and anecdotes, the film also uses period film footage, music and images to visually evoke the era, drawing a portrait of Jean-Michel and Downtown New York City-pre AIDS, President Reagan, the real estate and art booms – before anyone was motivated by money and ambition. BOOM FOR REAL: THE LATE TEENAGE YEARS OF JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT follows Basquiat’s life pre-fame and how New York City, the times, the people and the movements surrounding him formed the artist he became. Using never-before-seen works, writings and photographs, director Sara Driver worked closely and collaboratively with friends and other artists who emerged from that period: Jim Jarmusch, James Nares, Fab Five Freddy, Glenn O’Brien, Kenny Scharf, Lee Quinones, Patricia Field, Luc Sante and many others.Sara Driver made her directorial debut with the short film YOU ARE NOT I in 1981, which she adapted from the 1948 Paul Bowles short story of the same name. The film, named as one of the best movies of the 1980s in aCahiers du Cinémacritics’ poll, was lost for many years until its rediscovery in 2008 among Bowles’ belongings in Tangier. Director Sara Driver joins us for engaging conversation with one of the late-twentieth century’s brightest and innovative artist.
“A treasure. A transporting doc about the early career of Basquiat and the environment where he flourished. Conveys his personal magnetism, eccentricity and non-stop creativity without romanticizing him.” – John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
“Vivid and beautifully meditative. It shows how one of the most emblematic American artists of the late 20th century found his voice in the rubble.” – Chris Barsanti, AV Club
“Movingly remembers him -forever young- as unique figure who connected punk, hip hop, hardcore, DIY films, gallery, graffiti and street art, across genres, classes, and races.” – Nora Lee Mandel, FF2 Media
“Driver does a great job of showing how Basquiat’s graffiti smears were more than just a subjective piece of art but also spoke candidly to social commentary on race, poverty, and oppression.” – Jamie Broadnax, Black Girl Nerds
Jon Kean’sAfter Auschwitz, is a “Post-Holocaust” documentary that follows six extraordinary women after their liberation from Nazi concentration camps, capturing what it means to move from tragedy and trauma towards life. Following its North American premiere in Toronto on April 14, the film will have its U.S. theatrical premiere in New York City April 20 and then roll out to select theaters across the country, including Los Angeles and Miami. After Auschwitz, examines the question, “What happens after surviving an unspeakable horror?” with six stories of remarkable women who survived the Holocaust and went on to build lives in the United States, but never truly found a place to call home. For survivors of the Holocaust, liberation was both an incredible moment and a devastating one. It marked the beginning of a life-long struggle. Most wanted to go home, but there was no home left in devastated post-war Europe. Many came to America and wanted to tell people about their experiences, but were silenced. “You’re in America now, put it behind you” is what they were told. The women Kean follows became mothers and wives with successful careers, but never fully healed from the scars of the past. Their stories show the indelible role immigrants and women played in the history of America during the second half of the 20th century, and they serve as our guides on an unbelievable journey – sometimes celebratory, sometimes heart-breaking, but always inspiring. After Auschwitz director, Producer and writer Jon Kean (Kill The Man; Swimming in Auschwitz) stops by for a conversation on the unspeakable horror of the Holocaust and the fierce determination of six remarkable women who refused to allow the genocidal massacre to ruin them.
“For the death camp survivors we meet in the brisk, engaging, and sneakily profound After Auschwitz, the day of liberation was the best and worst day of their lives.” – Gary Thompson, Philadelphia Daily News
“Jon Kean, the director, chose the material wisely and doesn’t shy from severe images. He and his team also have good ears for anecdotes.” – Ken Jaworowski, New York Times
“A powerful testament to individual humanity emerging from inhuman horrors.’ Serena Donadoni, Village
“Lively and moving documentary about six women who survived the Holocaust to live fruitful lives that serve to defy the Nazis’ extermination plans.” – Frank Lovece, Film Journal International
When UCLA Film & Television Archive launched its annual UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema in 1990, it was the first showcase for new Iranian films in the U.S. It has been a platform for exciting new voices in cinema as well as a dialogue to foster cultural understanding—and in that time Iranian filmmakers have moved to the forefront of the cinematic world. It has also been a barometer of global politics. In partnership with Farhang Foundation, this year’s UCLA Celebration of Iranian Cinema offers Los Angeles the chance to see a stellar lineup of new Iranian films that includes four Los Angeles premieres and three U.S. premieres, along with the revival of a modern classic. From fraught intimate relationships to big social issues, these expertly crafted films reveal the complexities – and universalities – of contemporary Iran. The annual celebration, now entering its 28th year, showcases the best in contemporary Iranian Cinema. Paul Malcolm is the film programmer for UCLA Film & Television Archive where he began in 2007. He was an associate programmer of feature and short films for the Los Angeles Film Festival 2006-2010. As adjunct faculty at Chapman University, he has taught classes on the history and aesthetics of 3D cinema and film reviewing at Chapman University. He was also assistant film editor and film critic for the LA Weekly from 1998-2006. Malcolm graduated from USC with a BA in journalism and he received his MA in Film Studies from UCLA. He is a Sundance Institute Arts Writing Fellow (2001).
Visual Communications, the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, announced its outstanding program of films and events for the upcoming 34th edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) running MAY 3 – MAY 12, 2018. The all encompassing annual film celebration is presented across Los Angeles in West Hollywood, Downtown LA, Little Tokyo, Koreatown, and Hollywood. Visual Communications proudly celebrates the Film Festival’s 34 years as Southern California’s largest and most prestigious film festival of its kind. LAAPFF launches the celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month through this year’s slate of over 100 films from both Asian Pacific American and Asian international artists. For over three decades, the Festival has presented nearly 5,000 films by Asian Pacific American and Asian International talent. This year, 39 feature films and 79 shorts from the over 800 submissions will be showcased during the ten-day fest. The Festival opens with the Los Angeles premiere of Aneesh Chaganty’s feature debutSEARCHING starring John Cho and Debra Messing giving audiences an early chance to see the movie that took the NEXT audience award and the Alfred P. Sloan award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Other programs includeCENTERPIECE FILMS will feature two outstanding world premieres with IN THE LIFE OF MUSIC and FICTION & OTHER REALITIES. Centerpiece Films will be presented on Saturday, May 5th at the Aratani Theatre at the Japanese American Community and Cultural Center (JACCC) in Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles. The CLOSING NIGHT FILM will be the Los Angeles premiere of the acclaimed 2018 Sundance World Documentary Special Jury Award winner MATANGI/ MAYA/ M.I.A., directed by Stephen Loveridge. Inspired by her roots, M.I.A. created a mashup, cut-and-paste identity that pulled from every corner of her journey; a sonic sketchbook that blended Tamil politics, art school punk, hip-hop beats and the voice of multicultural youth. Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Co-Director David Magdael will join us to talk about this years’s exciting festival line up.
Centuries ago, many cultures believed the Earth was a flat disc. As scientific thought and technology evolved, the Earth was revealed to be a globe, a view that’s widely accepted today—but not by everyone. In Daniel J. Clarks feature documentary, Behind the Curve explores the internet fueled resurgence of the flat Earth movement. These conspiracy theorists deny the scientific model of the globe and join together through conventions, forums and online platforms to discuss their belief system. On the other end of the spectrum, the scientific community aims to counter this resurrected myth, resulting in an ever- growing public battle of conspiracies and anti-intellectualism. Giving a well-rounded look at all sides of the debate, Behind the Curve shows that no matter where you stand on this issue, the conversations and people around it are anything but flat. Director Daniel J. Clark joins is to talk about all of the various factions and personalities that make up flat-earth society and his film’s debut at the 2018 Hot Docs Film Festival.
“Unlike a few other films about people who hold questionable beliefs, Behind The Curve is a remarkably clear-eyed look at the Flat Earth movement, in which people around the globe (but mostly in America) labour to convince the rest of us that our planet is flat – more like a terrarium, really – but sinister forces have gone to elaborate lengths to keep it quiet.” – Norman Wilner, NOW
Warrior Women is the untold story of American Indian Movement activists who fought for civil rights in the 1970s, and the children who served as their inspiration and their cohorts. The film is anchored by one of the Red Power Movement’s most outspoken Lakota leaders, Madonna Thunder Hawk, and her daughter Marcy Gilbert. Together, they weathered some of the most turbulent battles for Native sovereignty in the modern era: Thunder Hawk as an activist and mother, Marcy as a teenager growing into a young woman while sharing her mother with a movement that was bigger than either of them. Thunder Hawk lived through a time when Natives were ashamed to be themselves and violently pressured to conform to white culture or punished for holding on to what little Native identity they had left. She did not want her children to live through a continuation of that history. Now, forty years later, Madonna is moving into the twilight of her life, fighting the inevitable slowing she dreads. She constantly worries aloud who she will “pass the torch” to. Warrior Women unveils not only the women’s perspective on history, but also real-life activism echoing far beyond news events into generations to come. Co-directors Elizabeth Castle and Christina D. King stop by to talk about the Native American struggle for human rights and social justice and the strong women who continue to fight for their homeland, values and people.
Made following the discovery of amateur footage shot in China in 1966 during the first and most radical stage of the Cultural Revolution,IN THE INTENSE NOWspeaks to the fleeting nature of moments of great intensity. Scenes of China are set alongside archival images of the events of 1968 in France, Czechoslovakia, and, to a lesser extent, Brazil. In keeping with the tradition of the film-essay, they serve to investigate how the people who took part in those events continued onward after passions had cooled. The footage, all of it archival, not only reveals the state of mind of those filmed—joy, enchantment, fear, disappointment, dismay—but also sheds light on the relationship between a document and its political context. What can one say of Paris, Prague, Rio de Janeiro, or Beijing by looking at the images of the period? Why did each of these cities produce a specific sort of record? Narrated in first person, the film reflects on that which is revealed by four sets of images: footage of the French students’ uprising in May of 1968; the images captured by amateurs during the invasion of Czechoslovakia in August of the same year, when forces led by the Soviet Union put an end to the Prague Spring; shots of the funerals of students, workers, and police officers killed during the events of 1968 in the cities of Paris, Lyon, Prague, and Rio de Janeiro; and the scenes that a tourist—the director’s mother—filmed in China in 1966, the year of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Director João Moreira Salles joins us to talk about family, memories, politics, the immediacy of the moments that made up one of history’s most consequential years.
”Find solace, enlightenment and surprise in João Moreira Salles’s ‘In the Intense Now,’ a bittersweet, ruminative documentary essay.” —A. O. Scott, The New York Times
“Melancholy, inspiring and evocative.” —J. Hoberman, The New York Review of Books
“One of the 10 best films of Berlin Film Festival! Remarkably resonant and personal.” —Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“Spellbinding! The [Chicago Film Festival’s] most ambitious documentary is a meditation on cameras in times of political spectacle.” —Bill Stamets, Chicago Sun-Times
“Recommended! A dazzling, true-world dreamscape; deeply personal even as the kaleidoscopic imagery bursts forth in grandiloquent poetry. Cataclysm awaits. So much history ahead. Such dense, ordered beauty behind.”—Ray Pride, Newcity Film
“A rich, immersive contemplation of the emotional battery life of revolutions, Brazilian filmmaker João Moreira Salles’ remarkable, deeply felt essay film ‘In the Intense Now’ examines 1968’s turbulence in four countries through the prism of what its amateur documentarians filmed.”—Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
Library Award and Best Soundtrack Award, 2017 Cinéma du Réel Film Festival
Best Documentary, 2017 Civil Society of Multimedia Authors (SCAM)
Panorama Selection, 2017 Berlinale Film Festival
U.S. Premiere, 2017 Chicago International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2017 It’s All True International Documentary Festival
A film within a film IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE CITY, Tamer El Said’s ambitious debut feature, tells the fictional story of a filmmaker from downtown Cairo played by Khalid Abdalla (The Kite Runner, United 93, Green Zone, The Square) as he struggles to capture the soul of a city on edge while facing loss in his own life. IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE CITY is a haunting yet lyric chronicle of recent years in the Arab world, where revolutions seemed to spark hope for change and yield further instability in one stroke. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Shot in Cairo, Beirut, Baghdad and Berlin during the two years before the outbreak of revolution in Egypt. Throughout, friends send footage and stories creating a powerful, multilayered meditation on togetherness, the tactile hold of cities, and the meaning of homeland. Shot in 2008 and completed in 2016, the film explores the weight of cinematic images as record and storytelling in an ongoing time of change.IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE CITY is amulti-layered stories are a visually rich exploration of friendship, loneliness and life in cities shaped by the shadows of war and adversity. Director, producer and writer Tamer El-Said joins us for a conversation on his remarkably accomplished film debut.
AWARDS Caligari Film Prize at Berlinale Critics Award for Best Arab Film in 2016, Arab Cinema Center Grand Prix of New Horizons International Film Festival Grand Prix of Festival des 3 Continents, Nantes Best Film, San Francisco Arab Film Festival, USA, 2016 Best Director at Buenos Aires International Film festival (BAFICI)
82% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“Without doubt the most important event in Egyptian cinema, if not Arab cinema, in a very long time.” — Jean-Michel Frodon, Slate.com
“A melancholic love-hate poem to Cairo and the role of filmmakers in any city in pain.” —Jay Weissberg, Variety
“Majestic… a lionhearted elegy for the Egyptian capital, artistic heritage in the Arab world, inspired politics, and hope itself” —Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, Artforum
“Beautifully lensed and complexly edited in a dense patchwork of people, feelings and events” —Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter
When she was a young lawyer, Kholoud Al-Faqih walked into the office of Palestine’s Chief Justice and announced she wanted to join the bench.He laughed at her. But just a few years later, Kholoud became the first woman judge to be appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a (Islamic law) courts. THE JUDGE offers a unique portrait of Judge Kholoud—her brave journey as a lawyer, her tireless fight for justice for women, and her drop-in visits with clients, friends, and family. With unparalleled access to the courts, THE JUDGE presents an unfolding vérité legal drama, with rare insight into both Islamic law and gendered justice. In the process, the film illuminates some of the universal conflicts in the domestic life of Palestine—custody of children, divorce, abuse—while offering an unvarnished look at life for women and Shari’a. Director and producer Erika Cohn stops by to talk about her warm, moving portrait of a dedicated professional officer of the court determined to see that men and women receive the highest level of justice.
“The documentary is an inspiration to women – not just in the Middle East – who are determined to rise to the top of their professions, despite the odds being stacked against them.” – Gayle MacDonald, Globe and Mail
“There are scandalously few female-empowerment documentaries about Arab women that also aim to counter Islamophobia, which is why Erika Cohn’s “The Judge” is a welcome addition.” – Jay Weissberg, Variety
“This skillfully conceived documentary focuses on a charismatic Muslim judge, a woman appointed to the Palestinian Shari’a court.” – Maria Garcia, Film Journal International
“The Judge is packed tight; it’s enlightening and suspenseful and paced for maximum enjoyment.” – Daphne Howland, Village Voice
In the piercingly straightforward documentary The Heart of Nuba we meet the only surgeon within 200 miles, Dr. Tom Catena does his best to save lives in the midst of carnage and terror, treating as many as 400 patients a day at Mother of Mercy Hospital, nestled in the heart of the Nuba Mountains. The region is the latest target of Omar al-Bashir, a man wanted by the International Criminal Court for committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. Surrounded by a country at war, living under the constant shadow of aerial bombardment, Dr. Tom Catena and his mostly local staff defy Bashir’s ban on humanitarian aid, and work tirelessly to serve the Nuba people. This population of one million Muslims, Christians, Animists and Africans of traditional belief have lived together harmoniously for centuries. Now, together with ‘Dr. Tom’, they struggle to survive. His patients come to him from hundreds of miles away on foot, in carts, or often cradled in their mother’s arms. Welcome to the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, an area of the world so void of humanitarian and media attention that years of war go ignored, and cries for help go largely unheard. Here, this lone American surgeon tends with equal compassion to patients ranging from malnutrition and leprosy, to grave wounds inflicted by the indiscriminate bombings ordered by their own president, Omar al-Bashir. When a government can attack defenseless men, women and children with supersonic bombers,and it doesn’t make anyone’s newswire, something is terribly awry. Dr. Tom’ and his staff defy Bashir’s ban on humanitarian aid, work tirelessly to save the lives of the Nuba people, and bring hope to one million people who would be otherwise forgotten. Director Kenneth Carlson joins us to talk about Dr. Tom’s selfless work, the people of the region and the impact that The Heart of Nuba is having on their plight.
“Absorbingly, unfussily captures Catena’s daily challenges and feats while also painting a vivid, often heartbreaking portrait of a forgotten people trapped in an underreported sociopolitical nightmare.” – Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
“The film is worth seeing because it’s a moving and remarkable story and it represents a great cause.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times
“A most down-to-earth saint presented in the most refreshingly candid manner.” – Louis Project, counterpunch.org
“The only surgeon for hundreds of miles, Tom Catena earns $350 a month but given his dedication to the poor people in Sudan’s Nuba mountains, he should be nominated for sainthood.” – Harvey S, Karten, schockya.com
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami is an electrifying journey through the public and private worlds of pop culture mega-icon Grace Jones.The documentary contrasts musical sequences with intimate personal footage, all the while brimming with Jones’s bold aesthetic. A larger-than-life entertainer, an androgynous glam-pop diva, an unpredictable media presence – Grace Jones is all these things and more. Sophie Fiennes’s documentary goes beyond the traditional music biography, offering a portrait as stylish and unconventional as its subject. Taking us home with her to Jamaica, into the studio with long-time collaborators Sly & Robbie, and backstage at gigs around the world, the film reveals Jones as lover, daughter, mother, and businesswoman. But the stage is the fixed point to which the film returns, with eye-popping performances of “Slave to the Rhythm,” “Pull Up to the Bumper,” “Love is the Drug,” and more. Jones herself has said watching the film “will be like seeing me almost naked” and, indeed, Fiennes’s treatment is every bit as definition-defying as its subject, untamed by either age or life itself. Director Sophie Fiennes (Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, Legend of Leigh Bowery) joins us to talk about the dynamic in-concert performances, her access to Grace and her startling candor concerning her public and private life and the critical recognition the film has garnered.
“Brilliantly and beautifully engaged in the present. A sparkling example of how to document our icons. Allows us to appreciate the reality of the artist in her most candid moments, in her own words, which is way more interesting than what we’d find in yet another standard biopic.” – Daisy Jones, VICE
“Pure energy, fierce, and empowering. If you want a rock-n- roll, sexy, feel good, empowering film, pull up to the theater in your most audacious outfit and get ready for the Grace Jones experience.” – The Huffington Post
“A celebration of art and life. Jones herself has promised the film ‘will be like seeing me almost naked.’” – Michael-Oliver Harding, Interview Magazine
“A sumptuous sensory treat.” – Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter
“A true testament to the power of style.” – Caitlin Agnew, The Globe and Mail
“The film feels as epic as the artist herself. A mix of concert doc and intimate verité, Fiennes has crafted a film that feels like Stop Making Sense via Frederick Wiseman. As an intimate look at Jones the film succeeds, as a powerful testament to her talent the film soars.” – Jason Gorber, BirthMoviesDeath
I AM EVIDENCEexposes the alarming number of untested rape kits in the United States through a character–driven narrative, bringing much needed attention to the disturbing of how the criminal justice system has historically treated sexual assault survivors. Why is there a rape kit backlog? What can we do to fix the problem? This film explores these questions through survivors’ experiences as they trace the fates of their kits and re-engage in the criminal justice process. I AM EVIDENCEilluminates how the system has impeded justice while also highlighting those who are leading the charge to work through the backlog and pursue long-awaited justice in these cases. In this film, we seek to send a clear message to survivors that they matter, that we as a nation will do everything possible to bring them a path to healing and justice, and that their perpetrators will be held accountable for their crimes. Trish Adlesic (Co-director / Producer) and Geeta Gandbhir (Co-director / Supervising Editor) join us to talk about the institutional breakdown in American judicial system, putting an end to a scandalous epidemic of justice denied and working withI AM EVIDENCE producer Mariska Hargitay.
“It’s full of fighting spirit and the conviction that society can do better.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“The film is intense, making for one of the sniffliest audiences in which I’ve ever been included, so viewer discretion is certainly advised. But with that kind of emotional power too comes the intellectual and statistical weight we need to enact change.” – Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine
“Most of all, Adlesic and Gandbhir’s cameras listen to their stories, and give them the attention they deserve. For once.” – Jason Bailey, Flavorwire
The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) is a nonprofit organization devoted to a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture by showcasing films, supporting emerging filmmakers, and promoting the diverse perspectives of the Indian diaspora. Each year the festival features a rich mix of film programs designed to build and support the growing interest in the Indian entertainment industry. This includes programming that cultivates an audience for Indian films while supporting filmmakers of Indian descent in career development as they navigate the larger studio system in Hollywood. The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, runs from Wednesday, April 11 – 15 at Regal Live in downtown Los Angeles, featuring programs that include One-on-One program where film industry professionals from major and independent production and distribution companies are invited to participate in meetings with the IFFLA filmmakers; and panel discussions with speakers from the film industry. We are joined by IFFLA’sDirector of Programming Mike Dougherty to talk about the past, present and future of Indian cinema and the increasing acceptance among mainstream American film lovers.
King in the Wilderness chronicles the final chapters of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, revealing a conflicted leader who faced an onslaught of criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. While the Black Power movement saw his nonviolence as weakness, and President Lyndon B. Johnson saw his anti-Vietnam War speeches as irresponsible, Dr. King’s unyielding belief in peaceful protest became a testing point for a nation on the brink of chaos. Dr. King’s leadership during the bus boycotts, the sit-ins and the historic Selma to Montgomery marches is now legendary, but much of what happened afterward – during the last three years of his life – is rarely discussed. It’s a time when Dr. King said his dream “turned into a nightmare.” From the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to his assassination in 1968, King remained unshakably committed to nonviolence in the face of an increasingly unstable country. The documentary debuted at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival andis directed by Peter Kunhardt (HBO’s Emmy-winning Jim: The James Foley Story). Drawing on conversations with those who knew Dr. King well, including many fellow members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), King in the Wilderness reveals stirring new perspectives on Dr. King’s character, his radical doctrine of nonviolence and his internal philosophical struggles prior to his assassination in 1968. The documentary also features interviews with Andrew Young and Jesse Jackson, archival footage, behind-the-scenes video of Dr. King’s private moments, intimate archival photographs and phone conversations recorded by President Johnson, who were both ally and adversary in King’s fight for civil rights. Director Peter Kunhardt talks about his moving, insightful and illuminating film about an extraordinary human being.
Guy Maddin and collaborators Galen and Evan Johnson made this ode to VERTIGOand the city of San Francisco for the closing night world premiere gala of the 2017 San Francisco International Film Festival. The iconoclastic Winnipeg-based filmmakers, working together since 2015’s THE FORBIDDEN ROOM, set themselves the challenge and constraint to remake VERTIGO, creating what they call a “parallel-universe version.” Using Bay Area-based footage from hundreds of sources—studio classics, ’50s noir, documentary and experimental films, and ’70s prime-time TV—and employing Maddin’s mastery of assemblage technique, seen in work like MY WINNIPEG and BRAND UPON THE BRAIN, the result exerts the inexorable pull of Hitchcock’s twisted tale of erotic obsession while paying tribute to the City by the Bay and the ways it looks and feels through the medium of cinema Composed by Jacob Garchik and performed by Kronos Quartet, the film’s score nods to Bernard Hermann’s classic VERTIGO music as it collides and converses with Maddin and Johnsons’ irreverent and loving footage to create a distinctive musical extravaganza. Through 12 features and many shorts, adventurous artist Guy Maddin exhibits the rare ability to simultaneously subvert and honor the craft of filmmaking. His credits include the Emmy Award-winning ballet film Dracula: Pages From A Virgin’s Diary(2002); The Saddest Music in the World (2003); My Winnepeg (2007) and US National Society of Film Critics Best Experimental Film Prize-winners Archangel (1990) and The Heart of the World (2000). Guy Maddin talks about the “City by the Bay,” scriptwriting, storytelling and his favorite film, Vertigo.
“First and foremost, “The Green Fog” is a marvel of film scholarship that looks backward and forward from the Hitchcock masterpiece.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
“The Green Fog fairly closely follows the structure of Hitchcock’s film; achieving that in itself is some sort of accomplishment. However, it’s not so much an assemblage as it is a conjuring.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice
“The film is a brilliant exercise in meta-narrative, which raises questions galore about reality and representation, time and space, genre and gender, individual and urban identity, cinematic suture and casting. Mainly, though, it’s just very, very funny.” – Geoff Andrew, Sight and Sound
“The work of a sensibility as impish as it is scholarly, animated by a mischievous sense of the medium’s possibilities” – Justin Change, Los Angeles Times
“It demonstrates the act of creation as a perpetually reconstructive effort…” – Lawrence Garcia, Cinema Scope
We aren’t dying the way we used to. We have ventilators, dialysis machines, ICUs—technologies that can “fix” us and keep our bodies alive—which have radically changed how we make medical decisions. Defining Hopetakes on the topic of dying in our death-denying culture, no matter how sick we get, there is always “hope.” The will to live is a powerful force, and eventually we will all have to make individual decisions when faced with very complex choices. Filmmaker Carolyn Jonesspent four years interviewing and photographing nurses for the groundbreaking American Nurse book and film, and another year of research and interviews focused on what Dying in America looks like, all of which has led her to making this new film, the culmination of a journey, calledDefining Hope. Defining Hope is a story about people weighing what matters most at the most fragile junctures in life, and the nurses who guide them. It’s a documentary that follows patients with life-threatening illness as they make choices about how they want to live, how much medical technology they can accept, what they hope for and how that hope evolves when life is threatened. It is optimistic and reminds us that we have choices in how we die. Defining Hopeis critical and relevant right now, with our rapidly aging population and incalculable challenges in healthcare and end-of-life care. Director Carolyn Jones(American Nurse) joins us for a conversation on her empathetic, clear-eyed look at death and living.
WINNER – Best Premiere for Documentary Feature 2017 Heartland Film Festival
DEFINING HOPE DEBUTS ON PBS/PUBLIC TELEVISION STATIONS NATIONWIDE ON APRIL 1, 2018 VIA AMERICAN PUBLIC TELEVISION
“Shining a light on hospice and palliative care, approaches that are still considered alternative, Defining Hope builds a persuasive case for the ways they empower patients and their loved ones.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
A Suitable Girl follows three young women in India struggling to maintain their identities and follow their dreams amid intense pressure to get married.Ritu, Dipti and Amrita represent the new India. Educated, financially stable and raised with a mix of traditional and contemporary values in the urban cities of Mumbai and New Delhi, they have access to the world in ways their mothers did not. Yet their lives take a dramatic turn when the pressure to settle down and get married hits. Career aspirations become secondary to the pursuit of a husband, and the women struggle with the prospect of leaving their homes and families to become part of another. Documenting the arranged marriage and matchmaking process in vérité over four years, the film examines the women’s complex relationships with marriage, family and culture; the many nuanced ways society molds them into traditional roles; and a rarely-seen portrait of India’s urban middle class. Co-directors Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra join us for a conversation on the underlying changing social, economic and cultural dynamics influencing a generation young women growing up in modern India.