Friday, March 23, 2018 – The Peacemaker, Director James Demo

The Peacemaker is an intimate portrait of Padraig O’Malley, an international peacemaker who helps make peace for others but struggles to find it for himself. At the heart of the world’s seminal conflicts is an international peacemaker riddled with internal strife. Padraig O’Malley has made it his life’s work to bring leaders on both sides of the most explosive conflicts to the same table. His innovative behind the-scenes work has established Padraig as a publicly unrecognized but highly influential figure in conflict resolution. Yet, these dramatic undertakings serve as a sharp contrast to the man – an alcoholic bar owner who fails to manage the most basic of personal relationships. His solitary life hangs in a delicate balance, bound together by weekly AA meetings and relentless work. As age takes its toll, he begins to lose his only source of solace and the motivation behind his life’s work comes into question. The Peacemaker plunges us into the depths of the journey of a man utterly defined by conflict. The film takes us from Padraig’s isolated life in Cambridge, Massachusetts to some of the most dangerous crisis zones on Earth – from Northern Ireland to Kosovo, Nigeria to Iraq – as he works a peacemaking model based on his recovery from addiction. We meet Padraig in the third act of his life in a race against time to find some kind of salvation for both the world and himself. Director James Demo joins us to talk about his film and the conflicted man working to resolve turmoil internally and in the world.

For news and updates go to:

Visit The Peacemaker’s Facebook page

THE PEACEMAKER filmmaker James Demo and the film’s subject, Padraig O’Malley, will participate in Q&A’s after the 4:40 PM screenings at the Music Hall on Saturday and Sunday, March 24 and 25.


• Jury Award Best Documentary – Cleveland International Film Festival

• Special Jury Award for Vision and Storytelling at the Florida Film Festival

• Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature at the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival

• Service Above Self Award – Chagrin Documentary Film Festival

“The weight of the world is evident in O’Malley’s dour gaze, but it’s clear too, in Demo’s sensitive, piercing portrait, that the endless job he’s carved out for himself is his lifeblood, and its own kind of addiction.” – Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times

“The more we get to know him, the more his core motivation – is he an idealist or something else? – becomes the mystery of the film.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“An intense, intimate portrait of a visionary capable of sophisticated analysis, abrupt anger, self-deprecating wit, and profound insights – all while existing at considerable remove from his fellow man.” – Daphne Howland, Village Voice

“A deeply moving portrait of its truly admirable, complex subject.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

“The movie is a fascinating portrait that is if anything too brief.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times

Friday, March 16, 2018 – In the Land of Pomegranates, Hava Kohav Beller

In the Land of Pomegranates is a suspenseful, multi-layered documentary about a group of young people who were born into a violent and insidious ongoing war. They are young Palestinians and Israelis invited to Germany to join a retreat called ‘Vacation From War’ where they live under the same roof and face each other every day. In these highly charged encounters they confront the entrenched myths and grievances that each side has for the other. As they try to gain insight into the seemingly irreconcilable narratives, the paradoxes and contradictions born of legend and history along with passionately held ideals and the daily fight for survival surface. Interwoven into this intense footage, adding context, the film also follows other embattled lives in the Occupied Territories and Israel: a mother and her four children living in the shadow of the wall abutting Gaza; an imprisoned Palestinian and the subsequent path he’s taken; an Israeli survivor of a suicide bombing; and a daring Palestinian mother whose son’s life is saved by an Israeli doctor. They are all caught in the duality of the pomegranate: will they embrace rebirth and each other’s humanity, or will they pull the pin on the grenade? We are joined by the Director Hava Kohav Beller (The Restless Conscience: Resistance to Hitler within Germany 1933-1945) for a conversation on what, if any, options may be available to break the cycle of violence and mistrust for people living in a place where hatred and retribution have been normalized.

For news and updates go to:

“The state of affairs in the Middle East may actually be thornier than it seems from afar: that is the position this brave, intimate perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to take.” – MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Philosopher

“Amidst tense airings of grievances, context is set against beautiful images of the disputed homeland, archival footage, and personal testimonials of clashes and cooperation” – Nora Lee Mandel, Film-Forward

“Sobering. A tough and clear-eyed look at how things are, rather than how we want them to be.” –  Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times

“Hava Kohav Beller’s beautifully shot documentary gives an urgent and very modern new face to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” – New York Magazine

Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes, Dick Cavett

With its upcoming premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes directed by Robert S. Bader tells the extraordinary story of a famous friendship played out before a captivated national audience Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes, directed by Robert S. Bader, shares the rich history of the Muhammed Ali and Dick Cavett’s relationship that spanned decades and late night TV. From his 1960’s Olympic Gold Medal win, the heavyweight championship against Sonny Liston in 1964, to joining the Nation of Islam, refusing induction into the United States Army, and his legendarily epic battles in the ring with Joe Frazier and George Foreman, Muhammad Ali remained a unique and powerful force of nature in our popular culture. More than any sports documentary, this unique film deeply delves into hotly contended political and social matters that remain equally as relevant today. Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes Director Robert S. Bader produced the acclaimed documentaries Dick Cavett’s Watergate and Dick Cavett’s Vietnam for PBS. He is the writer and producer of the Warner Bros. documentary The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk, and the author of Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers on Stage. Legendary television host Dick Cavett joins us to talk about his 53-year relationship with “the greatest of all time,” Muhammad Ali.


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Check out the SXSW screening schedule for Ali & Cavett: Tale of the Tapes

Leaning into the Wind, Director Thomas Riedelsheimer

Sixteen years after the release of the Rivers and Tides Thomas Riedelsheimer returns to work with renown artist Andy Goldsworthy. LEANING INTO THE WIND—ANDY GOLDSWORTHY, The film follows Andy on his exploration of the layers of his world and the impact of the years on himself and his art. As Goldsworthy introduces his own body into the work it becomes at the same time even more fragile and personal and also sterner and tougher, incorporating massive machinery and crews on his bigger projects. LEANING INTO THE WIND subject Andy Goldsworthy makes works of art using the materials and conditions that he encounters wherever he is. Using earth, rocks, leaves, ice, snow, rain, or sunlight, the resulting artworks exist briefly before they are altered and erased by natural processes. He also uses his own body as a medium, as with his Rain Shadows, or through actions such as spitting, throwing, climbing and walking. He has undertaken commissions in the Queensland rainforest, Australia and the New Zealand coast; in Rio de Janeiro, New York City, St Louis, Montreal and San Francisco; in the New Mexico desert, the mountains of central Spain and Haute-Provence, France, and the fells of Cumbria and Dumfriesshire. Goldsworthy has published many books throughout his career, beginning with Rain, sun, snow, mist, calm: Photoworks (1985). Director Thomas Reidelsheimer joins us for a conversation on what inspires Andy Goldsworthy to make his art, what attracts him to the work and why did he return to work with the Andy Goldsworthy 16 years after their first collaboration, Rivers and Tides.

For news and updates go to:


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“A nonfiction-focused director and cinematographer frequently attracted to the intersection between artistic expression, nature, and spirituality (however unarticulated), Riedelsheimer is well-matched to Goldsworthy’s methods and interests.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety

Survivor Guide to Prison, Director Matthew Cooke

You’re more likely to go to prison in the United States than any other country in the world, so in the unfortunate case it happens to you, this is the Survivors Guide to Prison. Narrated by Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon, the nonstop film chronicles the stories of two men who spent decades behind bars for murders they did not commit. With additional commentary by activist celebrities like Danny Trejo, Patricia Arquette, Jesse Williams, Ice T, RZA, Busta Rhymes, Tom Morello, Macklemore, B-Real, Deepak Chopra, Warren G and more joining forces to change this broken system, Survivors Guide exposes a failed “punishment model.” Gripping testimony from inmates, guards, staff, police, analysts, lawyers and reformers lend further credibility as documentarian Matthew Cooke examines the system cell by cell and by contrast, the dramatic programs proven to work. Director Matthew Cooke (How to Make Money Selling Drugs) joins us for an honest conversation on a broken and brutal criminal justice system that continues to incarcerated and warehouse use millions of Americans with little to no genuine oversight.


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FACEBOOK: @survivorsguidetoprison

TWITTER: @surviveprison

HASHTAGS: #survivorsguidetoprison #cut50

“Matthew Cooke’s assaultive documentary hammers away at injustices in U.S. justice system.” – Joe Leydon, Variety

“Survivors Guide to Prison has changed the way I view the American justice system. There’s not enough room in any review to account for all of it’s essential information. It is a testament to how the 1% rule our world at the expense of everyone else,” – Amyana Bartley, Film Inquiry

“Cooke crams in so much persuasively appalling information … that it’s easy to forgive him for seemingly trying to push all viewers’ proverbial buttons at once.” – Simon Abrams, Village Voice

“Familiar but important points about our broken justice system, packaged for viewers who don’t usually watch documentaries.” – John Defore, Hollywood Reporter

Friday, March 9, 2018 – Chasing Great, Director Michelle Walshe

All Black captain Richie McCaw has lived his dream with characteristic precision and calculated determination.  He’s 34 and perhaps the best rugby player ever.  But the dream is almost over.  He is old by professional sport standards and everyone is asking when he’s going to retire.  Before his career ends Richie McCaw sets his sights on a risk-all attempt to win the Rugby World Cup back to back. No team has won it a  second time in a row.  No captain has won it twice. He will either end his career on an impossibly high note or take a nation’s dreams down with him. Chasing Great follows the incomparable Richie McCaw through his final season as he attempts to captain the All Blacks to the first ever-back-to back World Cup win. Director and writer Michelle Walsh joins us to talk about her access to McCaw’s professional and  personal McCaw, the heartache and exhilaration of competition and what it takes, physically, emotionally and  psychologically to compete at an elite level.


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For news and updates go

“It’s clear where all of this is going, but McCaw surprises with his mental rigor (he excelled academically) and total commitment to his sport (he plays with a stress fracture in his foot).” – Chris Packham, Village Voice

“Rugby union fans will draw long and lasting satisfaction from this documentary tribute to All Blacks all-time great Richie McCaw.” – Leigh Paatsch, Herald Sun

“Even non-rugby fans will know how it ends but it’s worth the nostalgic pain to keep watching until the final siren.” – Stephen Romei, The Australian

Michael Rabehl – 2018 Cinequest Film & VR Festival, Director of Programming

Cinequest has led the world in its showcase and implementation of the innovations that have revolutionized film making, exhibition and distribution. Over 100,000 attend CQFF, yet the three-block proximity of its state-of-the-art venues along with Cinequest’s renowned hospitality, makes the festival experience as warm and personal as it is electrifying. Cinequest presents over 90 World and U.S. premieres with groundbreaking innovations by 700+ participating filmmakers from over 50 countries each year. Set in the home of the world’s most influential media technology companies (Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, LinkedIn etc.) CQFF showcases premier films, renowned and emerging artists, and breakthrough technology—empowering global connectivity between creators, innovators and audiences. Michael Rabehl has been a member of the Cinequest team since 1994. As the Director of Programming he manages the film selection process for the festival and supervises the programming teams to create a world class line up of films and guests every year. In his role as the Associate Director he is directly involved with the strategic planning of the festival. Michael joins us to talk about the 2018 Conquest film and virtual reality line-up.


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Cinequest Film and Virtual Reality Film Festival February 27 – March 11, 2018

“Move over Cannes! Of the more than 4,000 film festivals around the globe, more than half take place on U.S. soil, and many rank among the best of the best. Our panel of film experts, movie buffs and festival gurus were tasked with narrowing down the field to the best 20 film festivals in the nation before we turned it over to USA TODAY and 10Best readers to choose their favorites. After four weeks of voting, we have a winner. Cinequest Voted Best Film Festival!” — USA Today

“Technology always drives the film business. In Cinequest, we have a good window on the future. I think they’re leading the world in this regard.” — Peter Belsito, Executive Vice President, Film Finders

“This festival is one that sets the trends and is actually ahead of the trends. Other festivals are copying Cinequest; I see it all the time.” — Chris Gore, Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide and Film Threat

“At Cinequest you often haven’t heard of the film before you go see it, but the audiences come anyway. That’s a testament to the festival — that audiences are willing to take that leap of faith.” — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

Purdah, Director Jeremy Guy (2018 Cinequest Film Festival)

Being in a Muslim family in modern day India can sometimes be a struggle for 20-year-old Kaikasha and her two sisters. Their father wants them to wear burkas and to have arranged marriages, but these determined young women have dreams of their own. This beautiful and rousing story follows Kaikasha in her quest to be the first Muslim on the Mumbai women’s cricket team and then follows her into a corridor of uncertainty after a shocking turn of events changes the fate of her family. You’ll want to cheer for Kaikasha and her sisters as they courageously respond to the circumstances that threaten to undermine their dreams. Director Jeremy Guy joins us for a conversation on this insightful and inspiring story of female empowerment through sport, against a background of religious and cultural roadblocks.


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World Premiere:

Saturday, March 3rd 12:25 pm. – 3 Below (288 South 2nd Street. San Jose)

Other screenings:

Monday, March 5th at 8:15 PM – Century 20 Redwood City Screen #10 (825 Middlefield Rd, Redwood City)

Saturday, March 10th at 10:00 AM – 3 Below

Sunday, March 11th at 10:45 AM  – Century 20 Redwood City Screen #11

Carter Pilcher, Chief Executive of Shorts International

Carter Pilcher founded Shorts International in 2000. Coming from a background in both investment banking and law, Carter has made Shorts International the world’s leading short movie Entertainment Company, functioning as distributor, broadcaster and producer. Carter has extensive experience in short movie production and short movie entertainment. He is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a member of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch of The US Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) – the guys who pick the Oscars. Carter, originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, received a B.S. from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a J.D. from Georgetown University, is a member of the New York Bar and attended the London Business School Corporate Finance Evening Program. Carter Pilcher has been and continues to be the highlight of Oscar season here on Film School. His insight, commitment and love of films and filmmaking always makes for a lively and informative conversation on some of the best films you will see all year.


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Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant


Victor Caire and Gabriel Grapperon


Dave Mullins and Dana Murray


Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata


Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer



Reed Van Dyk


Derin Seale and Josh Lawson


Kevin Wilson, Jr.


Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton


Katja Benrath and Tobias Rosen



Laura Checkoway and Thomas Lee Wright


Frank Stiefel


Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon


Thomas Lennon


Kate Davis and David Heilbroner

Friday, February 9, 2018 – Heroin(e), Director Elaine McMillion Sheldon

Heroin(e) focuses on the once a bustling industrial town, Huntington, West Virginia. Huntington has become the epicenter of America’s modern opioid epidemic, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average. This flood of heroin now threatens this Appalachian city with a cycle of generational addiction, lawlessness, and poverty. But within this distressed landscape, Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon (Hollow) shows a different side of the fight against drugs — one of hope. Sheldon highlights three women working to change the town’s narrative and break the devastating cycle of drug abuse one person at a time. Fire Chief Jan Rader spends the majority of her days reviving those who have overdosed; Judge Patricia Keller presides over drug court, handing down empathy along with orders; and Necia Freeman of Brown Bag Ministry feeds meals to the women selling their bodies for drugs. As America’s opioid crisis threatens to tear communities apart, the Netflix original short documentary HEROIN(E) shows how the chain of compassion holds one town together. Director Elaine McMillion Sheldon is a Peabody Award winning, Emmy nominated filmmaker and now Oscar nominated from West Virginia. HEROIN(E) was produced in association with the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), as part of a new initiative to support women filmmakers. In 2016, Chicken & Egg Pictures awarded her with the inaugural “Breakthrough Filmmaker” award. Sheldon was a 2013 Future of Storytelling Fellow, and named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2013 by Filmmaker Magazine and one of “50 People Changing The South” in 2015 by Southern Living Magazine. She has also contributed several shorts to The New York Times Op-Docs. She joins us to talk about her clear-eyed, bracing film that shines a bright and intimate light on an epidemic that is destroying large swaths of American society.


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* 2018 Oscar nominated Documentary Short Program

“Putting human faces on the crisis”New York Times

“Finds the humanity numbers too easily ignore”The Film Stage

“The one to beat at the Oscars..a knockout short”

“Three women prove that dedication plus empathy works”Reeling Reviews

“Unflinching portrayal.”Moveable Fest

“Alternating between stark realism and a sense of the surreal”NEW REPUBLIC

10 Most Powerful Docs of 2017NATION SWELL

“A window into the front lines of the opioid crisis”Bill Moyers

“Hauntingly powerful film on the opioid crisis”Mother Jones

Roll With Me, Director Lisa France

introducing us to the charismatic Gabriel Cordell. After hitting rock-bottom, this newly sober paraplegic attempts to save his gang-banger (and barely out of rehab) nephew’s life by bringing him along on a record breaking 3,100-mile wheelchair trek across the United States. This intense trip will challenge Gabriel physically and emotionally as he becomes a vision of hope for countless strangers along his journey. Gabriel’s support crew is an unlikely team, that become a family. All of them are from very different backgrounds and each dealing with their own issues – PTSD, homelessness, unemployment, family estrangement and sobriety struggles. What started out as a challenge to push an unmodified wheelchair from California to New York, morphs into a most transcendent journey that fills your heart for long after the movie ends and the screen grows dark. In an age divided, Roll With Me ignites our common humanity and urges us to find our inner hero or heroine. We can be heroes…every single day that we reach outside of ourselves. Director Lisa France joins us to talk about her own journey and the challenges involved with a cross-country trek with 9 people in a small SUV and no film making experience.

For news and updates go to:


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“Roll With Me” Slamdance Film Festival Premiere & Red Carpet:

Monday, January 22nd 

3:30pm— Red Carpet

4:00pm— Festival Premiere Screening 

5:40pm — Q&A to follow with cast & filmmakers.

*Select tickets for screening still available upon request.

Location: The Ballroom at Treasure Mountain Inn


Virginia Film Festival

 Won, Audience Award for Documentary Feature

Woodstock Film Festival

Won, Carpe Diem Andretta Award

Runner Up, Audience Award

The Strange Ones, Co-directors Lauren Wolkstein and Christopher Radcliff

Mysterious events surround two travelers as they make their way across a remote American landscape. On the surface all seems normal, but what appears to be a simple vacation soon gives way to a dark and complex web of secrets. THE STRANGE ONES had its world premiere at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival where it was awarded the Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Performance for James Freedson-Jackson.

Director’s Statement – There is a line late in the film where two teenage characters are engaged in an awkward conversation that consists more of silence than words. “It’s crazy to think,” the girl says, “that you like, never really know a person. You know?” The idea of “not knowing” is at the core of The Strange Ones. As filmmakers, we are most interested in stories that leave a strong impression but somehow stop short of surrendering a tidy explanation, and in characters that have secrets that may or may not ever be fully revealed. There is something more satisfying in this for us – as if the truth, by virtue of remaining unseen, can expand upon speculation and become something larger, more profound, and \more fascinating than a straightforward answer. Perhaps we find also that this is a more accurate reflection of real life – so often we believe we understand something or someone in their entirety, only to find out that we have only really glimpsed the surface; and that beneath lies a world of complexity that we might never fully know. In that regard, The Strange Ones is a story that presents a rather simple surface, as well as a more complicated and mysterious hidden dimension.”

Official Website:


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“Secrets curl with thick dread around a man and boy on the run from a dark past in this elliptical and mysterious road movie.” – Chris Barsanti, Film International Journal

“The Strange Ones is a solid movie on first watch that becomes a seriously good movie on second watch. Maybe that’s a poor framework for an endorsement, but the film is more than the shock of its climax.” – Andy Crump, Paste Magazine

“It’s an artful, boundary-pushing debut from Radcliffe and Wolkstein, with breakthrough performances from Freedson-Jackson, and Pettyfer, perhaps signaling a new direction in his career.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times

“As with all great films, it takes an angle that we may have never thought of before, and one we may not soon forget.” – Fernando Andres, Film School Rejects

Man on Fire, Director Joel Fendelman

Grand Saline, Texas, a town east of Dallas, has a history of racism, a history the community doesn’t talk about. This shroud of secrecy ended when Charles Moore, an elderly white preacher, self-immolated to protest the town’s racism in 2014, shining a spotlight on the town’s dark past. MAN ON FIRE untangles the pieces of this protest and questions the racism in Grand Saline today. Overall, MAN ON FIRE encapsulates the racial climate in Grand Saline and chronicles Moore’s life and death, presenting Grand Saline and Moore as two pillars of the film’s narrative: one a disjointed man seeking truth and communal repentance and the other a community whose present is inextricably tied to their past. MAN ON FIRE was Joel Fendelman’s thesis film for the completion of his MFA program at the University of Texas in Austin. The film went into production late May of 2016 and was completed late May of 2017. The crew took seven trips to the Van Zandt County area to film and compile interviews as well as a weekend of filming in Austin and one in Dallas. The recreations were filmed over three days in Austin, Texas. Director Joel Fendelman joins us to talk about what led Reverend Charles Moore to commit such a radical act, his approach to telling this timely story and MAN ON FIRE’s upcoming debut at the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival.


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Co-winner of the International Documentary Association (IDA) 2017 David L. Wolper Student Documentary Award

Man of Fire premieres at 2018 Slamdance Film Festival

For news and updates go to:

Joel Fendelman’s site

Tomorrow Ever After, Director Ela Thier

Ela Thier is a critically acclaimed writer, director and actor. She is known for creating dramedies that bring laughter and tears to diverse audiences across racial and socio-economic lines, and unifies audiences across political spectra. Thier’s critically acclaimed Tomorrow Ever After (2017) won numerous major festival awards. After a successful theatrical run Tomorrow Ever After is now available on numerous PPV and VOD platforms including iTunes and Amazon. Her award-winning feature, Foreign Letters, was distributed by Film Movement (2012) and shown at over 140 festivals world-wide. Thier directed over a dozen short films winning numerous Best Short awards. Her film, A Summer Rain, screened at hundreds of venues and became a YouTube sensation. Thier worked as a writer-for-hire on Puncture, starring Chris Evans. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and released by Millenium Films (2011). Thier is a recipient of the Jerome Foundation Film Production Grant (2015), was a nominee of the White House Project Emerging Artist Award (2010), and a recipient of the NYFA Fellowship Grant in Screenwriting (2008). Thier joins us to talk about the multi-platform release of Tomorrow Ever After, filmmaking and her own The Independent Film School workshops. 

My guiding principle has been to create the workshops that I would want to attend. I think back to my beginnings as a filmmaker and I design the workshops that I could have really used: ones that are packed with concrete information made easy to understand, and are super supportive and encouraging. My life would have been easier if I had gotten the encouragement that artists need.” – Ela Their on her Independent Film School workshops


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For more on Ela Thier’s filmmakers workshops go to:

Keep up with the latest on Ela Thier at:

For news and updates go to:

Ela Thier brings a fresh perspective …Thier plays the kooky interloper with the same open and unguarded childlike naiveté as Robin Williams’ beloved alien Mork …Ultimately, “Tomorrow Ever After,” contains a hopeful message that somehow, the world just might end up a better place. – Kate Walsh, LA TIMES

Her writing and direction are resourceful and assured, and her performance is as delightful as it is imbued with political commentary …In its sweet but pointed way, saying a good deal with relatively little, and in unpredictable ways, the film is also a critique of art as corporate product, especially in the realm of sci-fi franchise extravaganzas. – Sheri Linden, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Played with touching insight and natural beauty …provided me with a newfound hopefulness and a new sense of wonder for my fellow humans. – E. Nina Rothe, THE HUFFINGTON POST

Thier’s sensibility offers such a welcome break… inviting audiences to see our modern-day world through fresh eyes. – Peter Debruge, VARIETY

The Bill Murray Experience, Director Sadie Katz

After ending her engagement and finding herself at a loss for inspiration actor Sadie Katz, finds herself up late at night searching the internet. In her loneliness, she keeps clicking on stories of others having magical chance encounters with her favorite actor and life guru Bill Murray. Katz shares with the audience that she finds herself at a loss as to why she needs to meet Bill Murray but, that’s part of the intrigue and pleasure of knowing that secretly we all wish we had a little Murray Magic in our life…which starts both Sadie and the audience on the quest of finding the unfindable and zany Bill Murray. The directorial debut from actress Katz (“Blood Feast,” “Wrong Turn 6: Last  Resort”), “The Bill Murray Experience,” is being distributed by Gravitas Ventures across VOD platforms globally on December 19th, 2017.  The documentary features: Joel Murray (“Mad Men”), P.J. Soles (“Stripes”), and the legend himself. At crossroads in her life director Sadie Katz joins us to talk about her magical quest to meet comedian and legend Bill Murray.


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Wormwood, Director Errol Morris

On November 28th, 1953, mild-mannered military scientist Frank Olson plunged from the window of his 13th-floor New York hotel room and died. His cause of death was described as a “fall or jump” and though many questions remained about the exact circumstances, the case was left unsolved, and Olson’s wife and three young children attempted to move on. Over two decades later, in June of 1975, the Rockefeller Commission issued a comprehensive, high-profile report on myriad illegal CIA activities that featured a passing mention of a 1953 incident in which an army scientist was purposefully drugged with LSD without his knowledge and died from a fall a few days later. This revelation sends the Olson family, led by oldest son Eric, on a decades-long hunt for answers that takes them to the highest corridors of power in the U.S. government and close to some of its darkest secrets. Acclaimed storyteller Errol Morris weaves this mystery into a six-part story exploring the limits of our knowledge about the past and the lengths we’ll go in the search for the truth. Wormwood is the saga of one man’s obsessive, sixty-year quest to identify the real circumstances about his father’s death that tells a hidden history of key events of the second half of the 20th Century. Was Frank’s death an accident? Did he commit suicide after a bad drug trip? Or was he murdered for knowing too much? In Wormwood, Morris connects Frank’s story to the Korean War, mind control experiments, illegal germ warfare, brainwashing, Manchurian candidates, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and more.

For news and updates go to:


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“Wormwood is more concerned with its intellectual and philosophical musings on the intangibility everything about this case represents, but it comes at the cost of an emotional impact that’s always just beneath the surface.” – Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist

“With “Wormwood,” Morris reclaims the approach he popularized by employing accomplished performers such as Molly Parker, Tim Blake Nelson, Peter Sarsgaard and Bob Balaban to bridge the gap between fact, presumption and fantasy.” – Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times

“Redefining what a documentary can do and be, Morris’ epic proves a tragedy of systemic corruption, personal mania, and the inability to grasp that which one knows exists, but remains just out of reach.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

“heir testimonies unfolds alongside a series of dramatic reenactments that may or may not illustrate the precise nature of the events being described. The result is a documentary-fiction combination like nothing seen before.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire

“It has an eerie, something-is-happening-here-but-you-don’t-know-what-it-is-do-you-Mr.-Jones vibe that evokes mid-century American cold war paranoia” – Jordan Hoffman, Vanity Fair

December 15, 2017 – For Ahkeem, Co-directors Landon Van Soest (Jeremy S. Levine)

“People been labeling me a bad kid all my life. You don’t have to really do nothing, people just expect it. So you start to expect it of yourself.” – Daje Shelton

Beginning one year before the fatal police shooting of a Black teenager in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, For Ahkeem is the coming-of-age story of Daje (Boonie) Shelton, a Black 17-year-old girl in North St. Louis. She fights for her future as she is placed in an alternative high school and navigates the marginalized neighborhoods, biased criminal justice policies and economic devastation that have set up many Black youth like her to fail.  After she is expelled from her public high school, a juvenile court judge sends Daje to the court-supervised Innovative Concept Academy, which offers her one last chance to earn a diploma. Over two years we watch as Daje struggles to maintain focus in school, attends the funerals of friends killed around her, falls in love with a classmate named Antonio, and navigates a loving-but-tumultuous relationship with her mother. As Antonio is drawn into the criminal justice system and events in Ferguson just four miles from her home seize the national spotlight, Daje learns she is pregnant and must contend with the reality of raising a young Black boy.  Through Daje’s intimate story, For Ahkeem illuminates challenges that many Black teenagers face in America today, and witnesses the strength, resilience, and determination it takes to survive. Co-director Landon Van Soest joins us to talk about his collaboration with co-direct Jeremy S. Levine and their incredibly intimate, troubling and surprisingly hopeful tale.

For news and updates go to:


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“A special achievement…As close as documentaries come to putting us inside the mind of someone who society easily overlooks.” –

“Masterful…shows us the undeniable power of cinema.” – Huffington Post

“One of the most powerful documentaries ever crafted about the current nature of race relations in America.” – Toronto Film Scene

“A bracing story of grit in a world of social injustice.”  – Los Angeles Times

“For Ahkeem is THE millennial documentary on Black girlhood.” – Jet

“Hands-down one of the best documentaries of 2017…essential viewing.” – Under The Radar Mag

“Compelling…a vivid example of the incontrovertible fact that Black lives matter.” – IndieWire

“Incredibly moving.” – Paste Magazine

“A remarkable experience.” – The Knockturnal

Edith + Eddie, Director Laura Checkoway

In this emotionally moving documentary, Edith and Eddie, Edith Hill and Eddie Harrison get married in Virginia at ages 96 and 95. Since tying the knot, both Edith and Eddie have experienced an awakening; they have a new reason to get up in the morning. At the start of each day, he helps her put in her teeth. They enjoy exercising and relaxing by the river. They are always holding hands. We soon learn that the couple is embroiled in a legal battle between Edith’s daughters, over Edith’s estate and her rights. The daughters are unable to reach an agreement so a court has appointed an outside guardian for Edith, a stranger that has never met Edith. Stripped of her own decision making, Edith is now a ward of the state. Edith and Eddie’s marriage is in danger of being torn apart. Then things take a dramatic turn. Director Laura Checkoway joins us to talk about her partnership with executive producer Cher, the bond she formed with Edith and Eddie and the greater truth about the care of our elderly in a culture that devalues seniors but covets their assets.


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OSCAR SHORTLIST Best Documentary Short Subject

WINNER – IDA Awards (International Documentary Association)  Best Short 2017

NOMINEE – Cinema Eye Honors – Best Nonfiction Short 2017

WINNER – Audience Award at Montclair Film Festival

WINNER – Jury Award for Best Documentary at Palm Springs International ShortFest

WINNER  Best Documentary Short at Nevada City Film Festival

WINNER – Jury Award for Best Documentary Short (Youth Jury) at Rhode Island

WINNER – Best Documentary Short Film at Hamptons International Film Festival 2017

“‘EDITH+EDDIE’, the heartfelt story of two elderly lovebirds, is a heavyweight contender in this year’s Oscar® race for Best Documentary Short Subject.”

“Devastating… It is the mix of incredible access and a willingness to embrace a story’s shrewdly synthesized structure, running the gamut from unbelievable fantasy to unbearable nightmare, that yields an extraordinarily memorable work of nonfiction that stands among the festival’s best.” — Jordan M. Smith, at True/False 2017

“EDITH+EDDIE starts out feeling like an inspirational story. A black woman and white man find each other, and love, in their mid-90s. But as the couple is separated due to a legal battle, what could have been a life-affirming hug turns into something darker: an indictment of the elder-care system, with racial undertones.” — Steven Zeitchik, Los Angeles Times

“One of the most beautiful and quietly furious films I have ever seen.” – Julia Reichert, director of A LION IN THE HOUSE

“All of the things we look for in a film… challenging, universal… a gift of love and compassion.” – Paul Booth, Talking Pictures

“In just half an hour, EDITH+EDDIE captures so much about love, aging and infirmity–and speak volumes about America’s issues with elder care and guardianship.” – Norman Wilner, Now Toronto

Quest, Director Jonathan Olshefski and Producer Sabrina Schmidt Gordon

QUEST is Jonathan Olshefski’s moving chronicle of a close-knit African-American family living in North Philadelphia. Beginning at the dawn of the Obama presidency, the film follows the Raineys: father Christopher “Quest” Rainey, who juggles various jobs to support his family; Christine’s “Ma Quest,” who works at a women’s shelter; Christine’a’s son William, who is undergoing cancer treatment while caring for his baby son; and PJ, Quest and Christine’a’s young daughter. In a neighborhood besieged by inequality and neglect, they nurture a community of hip hop artists in their home music studio. It’s a safe space where all are welcome, but this creative sanctuary can’t always shield them from the strife that grips their neighborhood. Epic in scope, QUEST is a vivid illumination of race and class in America, and a profound testament to love, healing and hope. Filmed with vérité intimacy for almost a decade, QUEST has swept top documentary awards at festivals across the country since it  premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, including the Grand Jury prize at the Full Frame Festival, as well as nominations for Best Documentary at the upcoming Independent Spirit and Cinema Eye awards. Quest will open in New York on Friday, December 8 at the Quad Cinema and in Los Angeles on December 15. Director Jonathan Olshefski and Producer Sabrina Schmidt Gordon join us for a conversation on their beautifully rendered story of  family, race and hope.

For news and updates go to: – Quest


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“[A] superb film. A living, breathing, stunning documentary study of an African-American family in North Philadelphia weathering a tumultuous decade.” – Guy Lodge, Variety

“Class and race intersect meaningfully in the wonderful documentary Quest, a decade-plus labor of love.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

“Recalls Steve James’ Hoop Dreams in both the way it captures people over a long period of a time and in how it finds the profound in the everyday, the universal in the specific.” – Brian Tallerico,

“A sweeping and intimate documentary about the struggles of an average American family.” – Jude Dry, Indiewire

“Quest may be one of the most important films about the American experience ever filmed.” – Jason Gorber, POV Magazine

The Rape of Recy Taylor, Director Nancy Buirski

The Rape of Recy Taylor tells the not so-long-ago story of how a 24-year-old black mother and sharecropper, Recy Taylor, was gang raped by six white boys in 1944 Alabama. Common in the Jim Crow South, few women spoke up in fear for their lives. Not Recy Taylor, who bravely identified her rapists. The NAACP sent its chief rape investigator Rosa Parks, who rallied support and triggered an unprecedented outcry for justice.  The Rape of Recy Taylor exposes a legacy of physical abuse of black women and reveals Rosa Parks’ intimate role in Recy Taylor’s story. An attempted rape against Parks was but one inspiration for her ongoing work to find justice for countless women like Taylor. The 1955 bus boycott was an end result, not a beginning.  More and more women are now speaking up after rape. The Rape of Recy Taylor tells the story of black women who spoke up when danger was greatest; it was their noble efforts to take back their bodies that led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and movements that followed. The 2017 Global March by Women is linked to their courage. From sexual aggression on ‘40s southern streets to today’s college campuses and to the threatened right to choose, it is control of women’s bodies that powered the movement in Recy Taylor’s day and fuels our outrage today. Director Nancy Buirski (By Sidney Lumet, Afternoon of a Faun, The Loving Story) stops by for a conversation on a remarkably prescient and moving story of courage and the struggle to overcome America’s system of institutional injustice.

For news and updates go to The Rape of Recy Taylor film


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Screening Friday, December 8 at the Laemmle Monica Theatre in Santa Monica

“The Rape of Recy Taylor combines archival footage, home movies, and “race films” along with current interviews to tell Taylor’s story, which director Nancy Buirski broadens into a larger discussion about gender and race.” – Tricia Olszewski, Washington City Paper

“Forceful family interviews, immersive location visits, letters, testimony and articles from Afr-Am papers bring you into 1944 Alabama night…supported by NAACP’s Rosa Parks.” – Nora Lee Mandel, FF2 Media

“Buirski’s weaving together of material is most impactful in these mid-feature scenes, unspooling a rich and horrifying world that goes far beyond just Taylor’s experiences.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“With lucidity and deep feeling, Nancy Buirski’s documentary maps an ugly trail of injustice and then widens its lens to pay tribute to the women of color whose refusal to be silent helped drive the evolution of the Civil Rights movement.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Naples ’44, Director Francesco Patierno, Producers Francesca Barra and Davide Azzolini

In 1943 a young British officer, Norman Lewis, entered a war-torn Naples with the American Fifth Army. Lewis began writing in his notepad everything that happened to him during his one-year stay observing the complex social cauldron of a city that contrived every day the most incredible ways of fighting to survive. These notes turned into the masterpiece NAPLES ‘44. This film adaptation imagines Lewis returning to the city that charmed and seduced him many years later. Filmmaker Francesco Patierno combines riveting archival war footage with clips from movies set in Naples from the 1950s and 60s (featuring Marcello Mastroianni, Alan Arkin, Ernest Borgnine) and Oscar-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch narrating a portray of a city that was as much a victim of the war as any individual, but that has come back to life with all the charisma of Vesuvius, its very own volcano. This visionary reminiscence is made up of flashbacks between the places of the present that Lewis revisits and the stories of the past. Cumberbatch gives life to Lewis’ words through the stories and fortunes of the people he meets, by the end of this intimate nostalgic journey we can fully share with him a deep feeling for the city. Director Francesco Patierno and Producers Francesca Barra and Davide Azzolini stop by to talk about this stunning, intimate evocation of a time and place from the not-too-distant past that has much to teach us today.

For the latest on Naples ’44 go to: Naples ’44 at First Run Features

Naples ’44 opens Friday, December 8 at the Laemmle Monica in Santa Monica


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“A riveting film, a complex portrait of the mystery of Naples.” – Corriere della Sera

“If it weren’t for the time-chiseled patina on the footage dug out from archives, the powerful images of Vesuvius erupting, or the Caravaggio-esque faces of the faithful praying, there really wouldn’t be much difference between the Naples of this time and the cities martyred by the conflicts of today, like Aleppo, like Mosul.” – Il Mattino

“Magnificent. (An) elegant, moving, balanced war diary.” – Il Foglio

“Naples ’44 is a harrowing portrait of a defiant population which after suffering great losses, finally drove out its Nazi occupiers, and did survive.” Patrick McGrath, New York

What Happened in Vegas, Director Ramsey Denison

When TV editor Ramsey Denison was jailed for simply reporting police brutality on the Las Vegas strip, he was inspired to investigate the Las Vegas Police Department. His investigation would lead him right up to the biggest mass shooting in American history. In this damning exposé, he reveals that the police know more than they are letting on about what really happened at the Mandalay Bay Resort, where 59 people were killed. Uncovering a long legacy of cavalier methods and dire consequences, civilian fatalities, unconstitutional arrests and embellished crime reports, this doc paints an incriminating picture of a police department where the officers are above the law.

By Director Ramsey Denison: When I drove into Vegas a couple years ago, making a documentary about police corruption was the furthest thing from my mind; I’d come to relax. I’d just finished editing a programme about cops tracking down bad guys – the notion that cops could be the bad guys was not something I’d spent much time thinking about. That all changed when my friend Rhett Nielson and I saw police officers torturing a stranger. I called 911 and reported the incident. A couple minutes later, I got beat up, arrested, and thrown in jail by those same cops. I reported officers Mark Belanger, Kyle Frett, and Jared Casper but LVMPD’s Internal Affairs department decided to do nothing about it. Officer Cole Erskine’s police report was full of fiction, written to justify the brutality. The club where my arrest occurred told me they had no footage because their cameras weren’t recording that night. Without video, it was three police officers’ words against mine and Rhett’s. In a town where you can get beaten up, arrested, and thrown in jail simply for making a phone call to report police brutality, I couldn’t help but wonder what else the LVMPD has done. I discovered that behind the glittering lights, the real Las Vegas is a rigged game of corrupt policing and institutional cover ups.”

For news and updates go to: what-happened-in-vegas


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“The problems Denison uncovers serve as a warning to all Americans.” – Daphne Howland, Village Voice

“A documentary profile that blows the whistle on a disturbing pattern of excessive force and corruption within its ranks.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times

“Effective despite some storytelling flaws, the documentary is nonetheless unlikely to draw too much attention on the national stage, with fresher outrages never hard to come by.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

LA 92, Co-directors T.J. Martin and Dan Lindsay

On April 29, 1992, the streets and neighborhoods of Los Angeles, California started to burn just after the Rodney King verdict was announced where four white police officers caught on videotape brutally beating an unarmed black motorist (King) were acquitted of assault by a predominantly white Simi Valley jury. Violent protests, looting and arson lasted several days and left more than 50 people dead. Twenty-five years later, the acclaimed documentary LA 92  from Oscar® winning directors Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin (UNDEFEATED) explores the events leading to the violence, as well as the chaos and destruction that happened. LA 92  presents an incredibly immersive and affecting experience of a city in turmoil, without any talking heads or narration, which eerily resembles the same news stories we see on TV today in 2017. The filmmakers spent over a year searching and sifting through over 1700 hours of footage from news reports, journalists’ stories and news archives. Told entirely only through these stunning news reports and images and rarely seen archive footage, this gripping film captures the shock, disappointment and fury felt by many Angelenos, particularly those in the African American community. In the case of the King beating, it was the first time the kind of abuse many had witnessed or experienced at the hands of LAPD officers was recorded and broadcast for the world to see, leaving some with the sense that if justice did not prevail despite such graphic evidence, it never would. Named by Variety as one of the best films of 2017, LA 92 is more than a moment in time, it’s an illuminating political, cultural and social experience that elevates our collective understanding of our history and ourselves. Co-directors T.J. Martin and Daniel Lindsay join us. 

For news and updates go to:


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“..not just a defining work on the riots and a wrenching visual essay on power, race, media, and mob violence in the modern era, but also one of the year’s best documentaries.” – Chris Barsanti, The Playlist

“The results are visceral, scary, and infuriating all over again, a true miscarriage of justice that turned into a civil uprising that asked more questions than it answered.” – Jason Bailey, Flavorwire

“An immersive, you-are-there experience that is as dramatic (or more so) as any Hollywood feature film.” – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle

“Gives a full sense of the anarchy and rage of the post-King verdict days, thrusting us fully and disturbingly into events in very much of a You Are There manner.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

A Gray State, Director Erik Nelson

In 2010 David Crowley, an Iraq veteran, aspiring filmmaker and charismatic up-and-coming voice in fringe politics, began production on his film “Gray State.” Set in a dystopian near-future where civil liberties are trampled by an unrestrained federal government, the film’s crowd funded trailer was enthusiastically received by the burgeoning online community of libertarians, Tea Party activists as well as members of the nascent alt-right. In January of 2015, Crowley was found dead with his family in their suburban Minnesota home. Their shocking deaths quickly become a cause célèbre for conspiracy theorists who speculate that Crowley was assassinated by a shadowy government concerned about a film and filmmaker that was getting too close to the truth about their aims. Directed by “Grizzly Man” producer Erik Nelson and Executive Produced by Werner Herzog, “A Gray State” combs through Crowley’s archive of 13,000 photographs, hundreds of hours of home video, and exhaustive behind-the-scenes footage of David’s work in progress to reveal what happens when a paranoid view of the government turns inward — blurring the lines of what is real and what people want to believe. Director Erik Nelson joins us to talk about his verite-style film and the truth behind the Crowley family’s tragic deaths.

For news and updates go to:


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Opening Los Angeles November 24th at the Laemmle’s Music Hall 3

“A highly-topical and resonant trip down the alt-right rabbit hole…A GRAY STATE offers a powerful rebuke to the post-truth groups that subsumed both Crowley’s life and his death” Anthony Kaufman, SCREEN DAILY        

“Part suspenseful murder-mystery and part real-life political thriller, this true-crime deep-dive feels poised to be a…breakout hit ” Jason Newman, ROLLING STONE        

“The somewhat rare documentary that’s actually as illuminating as good print reporting on the same case.” – Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice

“A story similar to “The Shining” but much scarier because it is true.” – Louis Proyect, COUNTERPUNCH 

“[A] real-life tale that’s as unsettling as it is precisely of-the-moment.” – Godfrey Cheshire, ROGER EBERT

Strad Style, Director Stefan Avalos

It’s a story that beggars belief—a bipolar practitioner of “candle magick” living in a dilapidated farmhouse in rural Ohio with a lifelong obsession for building violins (and covered in tattoos of master builders such as Stradivarius) convinces a world-renowned soloist via social media that he is capable of creating a perfect replica of the world’s most valuable violin, Guarneri’s Il Cannone. A quirky look into one man’s DIY enthusiasm and perseverance when facing down a self-created, impossible task, Strad Style is the feel-good doc of 2017. Stefan Avalos is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Having started his life as a classically trained violinist and knowing the obsessions that are part of the violin-world, he became intrigued with the story of Daniel Houck, while working on a broader documentary about New vs old violins. While this movie is still in process, “Strad Style” emerged as a story that became HIS obsession. Stefan joins us to talk about the making of this magical documentary.

For news and updates go to:


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“One of Slamdance 2017’s documentary treasures, Strad Style is as deeply heartfelt as it is riveting.” – Kathy Zhou, Slugmag

“- irresistible, way-stranger-than-fiction documentary” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

I LOVED LOVED LOVED Strad Style and have not been able to stop recommending it to anyone who will listen. – MoviePro

“a beautifully shot shaggy-dog story with an overcoming-adversity theme and fairy-tale outcome Hollywood would kill for, which leaves audiences applauding through tears.” – Adam Patterson, Film Pulse

“Wonderful; so funny and strange and human. An amazing portrait of a fascinating character, beautifully told with enormous suspense and tenderness.” – Mary Ann Johanson, Film Filosopher