For the last 20 years the Newport Beach Film Festival has brought the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking from around the world to Orange County. Under the direction of CEO and Co-founder Gregg Schwenk and the festival’s staff have been committed to entertaining and enlightening the public with a first-class international film program as well as providing a forum for cultural understanding and enriching educational opportunities, the Festival focuses on showcasing a diverse collection of both studio and independent films. The Festival supports the creation and advancement of innovative and artistic cinematic works from both emerging and seasoned filmmakers and proudly embraces the passion, vision and independent spirit of these talented artists. With the integration of the local community and educational institutions, the Festival stimulates an interest in the study and appreciation of film and encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to participate. The Community Outreach Program was created with the idea that film offers new perspectives and possibilities for a changing world. Each year, the Festival partners with over 40 non-profit organizations and pairs each philanthropic organization with a film that aligns with their mission. The Festival gives non-profit organizations a forum to voice their message to large audiences and spread awareness of their organization and mission through the medium of film. Areas of focus include the arts, health and human services, the environment, education, children’s causes, seniors’ and veterans’ programs, and alumni clubs. CEO and Co-founder Gregg Schwenk joins us to talk about a remarkable festival line-up of comedies, dramas, short films, action sports, classics, documentaries, musicals and foreign film excellence.
THE RIVER AND THE WALL follows five friends on an immersive adventure through the unknown wilds of the Texas borderlands as they travel from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on horses, mountain bikes, and canoes. Conservation filmmaker Ben Masters realizes the urgency of documenting the last remaining wilderness in Texas as the threat of new border wall construction looms ahead. Masters recruits NatGeo Explorer Filipe DeAndrade, ornithologist Heather Mackey, river guide Austin Alvarado, and conservationist Jay Kleberg to join him on the two-and-a-half-month journey down 1,200 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. They set out to document the borderlands and explore the potential impacts of a border wall on the natural environment, but as the wilderness gives way to the more populated and heavily trafficked Lower Rio Grande Valley, they come face-to-face with the human side of the immigration debate and enter uncharted emotional waters. Ben Masters is best known for his UNBRANDED, a feature documentary on Netflix, in which he and three friends adopted 16 wild mustangs, trained them, and rode 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada to inspire wild horse adoptions. Director Ben Masters join us to talk about the spectacular natural beauty of the Rio Grande Valley, the people who live along the Mexico – American border and the on-the-ground reality of a border wall.
“If The River and the Wall runs the risk of being too repetitive, Masters breaks up the argument with a sense of adventure.” – Alan Zilberman, Washington City Paper
“Visually stunning and politically sharp.” – Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter
“The River and the Wall is going to be one of the most-talked about documentaries of 2019 because of its timeliness in the current political environment.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
Hail Satan? chronicles the extraordinary rise of one of the most colorful and controversial religious movements in American history, Hail Satan? is an inspiring and entertaining new feature documentary from acclaimed director Penny Lane. When media-savvy members of the Satanic Temple organize a series of public actions designed to advocate for religious freedom and challenge corrupt authority, they prove that with little more than a clever idea, a mischievous sense of humor, and a few rebellious friends, you can speak truth to power in some truly profound ways. As charming and funny as it is thought-provoking, Hail Satan? offers a timely look at a group of often misunderstood outsiders whose unwavering commitment to social and political justice has empowered thousands of people around the world. But with their numbers swelling and dozens of new chapters forming in cities across the globe, increased threats of violence against Satanists and disagreements within the group’s own ranks complicate the Temple’s work. As a complex and costly legal battle erupts over a similar Ten Commandments monument in Arkansas, Greaves, Blackmore, and their fellow Temple members struggle to adjust to the movement’s explosive popularity while maintaining the integrity of their core beliefs. Director Penny Lane (Nuts!, Our Nixon) once again joins us for a lively discussion on Satanic beliefs, Lucien Greaves, Jex Blackmore and the creative and subversive strategies for preserving many deeply held patriotic ideals.
“Lane sets out to subvert American history with intelligence and wit. Here, she asks us to question why certain religions are deemed “normal,” even though, notes one Temple member, Catholic mass is all about the symbolic drinking of blood.” – Amy Nicholson, Variety
“Provocative, hilarious, and latently enraging documentary about The Satanic Temple.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“”Hail Satan?” finds that simply presenting reason and historical precedent proves to be audacious and Lane follows the lead of her subjects in showing that it can be done with enormous amounts of fun.” – Stephen Saito, Movable Feast
“Wickedly funny, fascinating and niftily made, this crowd-pleaser will reign at festivals and prove, yet again, that the devil always has the best tunes.” – Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter
Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché, is a documentary about the first female filmmaker, Alice Guy-Blaché, which explores the heights of fame and financial success she achieved before she was shut out from the very industry she helped create. Over the span of her career, she wrote, produced or directed 1,000 films, including 150 with synchronized sound during the ‘silent’ era. Her work includes comedies, westerns and dramas, as well as films with groundbreaking subject matter such as child abuse, immigration, Planned Parenthood, and female empowerment. She also etched a place in history by making the earliest known surviving narrative film with an all-African American cast. Pamela B. Green has dedicated more than eight years of research in order to discover the real story of Alice Guy-Blaché (1873-1968) – not only highlighting her pioneering contributions to the birth of cinema but also her acclaim as a creative force and entrepreneur in the earliest years of movie-making. Green discovered rare footage of televised interviews and long archived audio interviews which can be heard for the first time in Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché, which affords Alice Guy-Blaché to tell her own story. Director Pamela B. Green joins us for a conversation on the winding journey of discovery and the exhilaration that comes from showcasing a visionary artist, producer, studio head, entrepreneur, feminist, and groundbreaking filmmaker.
“What starts as a biography turns into a detective thriller as Green crisscrosses the globe, searching for clues as to why Guy-Blaché has been forgotten.” – katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“A scrupulously well-researched documentary about one of early cinema’s greatest pioneers and the world’s first woman filmmaker.” – Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter
“The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché is essential viewing for those who want a complete perspective on the history of film.” – Lorry Kikta, Film Threat
“In her passionate debut film, Green achieves a feat of making a two-level research project informative and entertaining. Exciting and essential documentary for film history!” – Nora Lee Mandel, Maven’s Nest
In 2004, the United States’ first problem-solving court around prostitution was created in Queens County, New York. The court, presided over by the Honorable Toko Serita, attempts to redress the way women and young girls arrested for prostitution are shuffled through the criminal justice system. With unparalleled access to the workings of the court, BLOWIN’ UP captures what it feels like to go through these criminal proceedings as a female defendant. The overwhelming majority of women arrested are undocumented Asian immigrants, black, Latina and transgender youth. We hear directly from these women, in their own words, and we begin to understand the complex scenarios that bring them into the courtroom. As BLOWIN’ UP progresses, and a new administration takes over in the White House in 2016, the courtroom’s fragile ecosystem is tested and the fates of those who pass through become less certain. Director Stephanie Wang-Breal is an award-winning filmmaker and commercial director. BLOWIN’ UP is her third feature length film. Her first film, Wo Ai Ni Mommy (I Love You, Mommy), was nominated for an Emmy®, and was the recipient of three Grand Jury Best Documentary Awards at the AFI/ Discovery Silverdocs Film Festival, the Asian American International Film Festival and the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, as well as a 2011 CINE special Jury Award. The film had its national television broadcast in 2010 on the award-winning PBS series POV. Director Stephanie Wang Breal stops by for a conversation on the vicious cycle of poverty, few job prospects, lack educational resources and criminalization of sex work.
Learn more about the organization in the film and how you can get involved
“A true justice league of wonder women in action… one of the most hopeful real-world visions of heroic women ever to fill the screen.” – Sheri Linden, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“Stephanie Wang-Breal’s fascinating film is an immersive portrait of a courtroom in Queens with a refreshingly nuanced take on a timely issue… Wang-Breal approaches the vastly misunderstood topic of sex work from a non-judgmental feminist perspective.” – Jude Dry, INDIEWIRE
“A powerful film about an innovative court in Queens where judgments are made with real world considerations beyond the letter of the law… The result is brilliant in every way.” – Stephen Saito, THE MOVEABLE FEST
“Candid in its politics and slow and meticulous in its exploration of a workplace and its cast of characters…these individual testimonies show how difficult it is to put someone into a convenient box, effectively blowing up the neat compartments we build around criminals and victims.” – Amy Zimmerman, THE DAILY BEAST
In a media environment dominated by increasingly concentrated corporate interests, eight distribution companies who have long championed the best in independent features, documentaries, and social issue films, have joined forces to help launch a new subscription streaming service, OVID.tv. Starting today, OVID.tv offers more than 350 quality documentaries and art-house films from the collections of its founding content partners: Bullfrog Films, The dGenerate Films Collection, Distrib Films US, First Run Features, Grasshopper Film, Icarus Films, KimStim, and Women Make Movies. Most of the films on OVID.tv are not available on any other streaming platform, and OVID.tv will be adding even more films every two weeks–14 fiction feature films and one 10-part documentary series are already scheduled for release. Despite the odds and with little capital, Icarus Films, Docuseek, and our partners have decided that the time has come to step forward and build a new, independent space, dedicated to the films that we believe in and care about, and that we believe you care about, and value as well. OVID.tv co-founder Jonathan Miller joins us to talk about an affordable option for film lovers looking for the highest quality cinema experience presented by people who share your passion.
For now OVID.tv is only available in the U.S.
“A cornucopia of international movies and documentaries… recent ones as well as classics. It’s far better for recent movies than FilmStruck ever was, and its spectrum of new movies is far more substantial than that of Netflix, wider-ranging than that of Amazon.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker, March 22, 2019
From acclaimed filmmaker David Sutherland, Marcos Doesn’t Live Here Anymore examines the US immigration system through the eyes of two unforgettable protagonists whose lives reveal the human cost of deportation. Elizabeth Perez, a decorated US Marine veteran living in Cleveland, fights to reunite her family after her undocumented husband, Marcos, is deported. Meanwhile, Marcos is alone in Mexico, working as a soccer referee, struggling with depression and fighting the urge to cross the border illegally to see his family. With his signature raw, unfiltered intimacy, Sutherland weaves a parallel love story that takes us into a world often lived in the shadows. When Elizabeth’s efforts hit a legal brick wall, she must plan for the unthinkable alternative: leaving the US with her children to live in exile in Mexico. “He is missing their entire life,” Elizabeth says. Marcos Doesn’t Live Here Anymore follows Elizabeth on her mission to bring back Marcos, which she pursues with the take-no-prisoners attitude of a Marine squad leader. Marcos Doesn’t Live Here Anymore tells a profoundly human story of complicated, imperfect people doing their best to cope with what life has dealt them. Director David Sutherland (Kind Hearted Woman, Country Boys, The Farmer’s Wife, Out of Sight) joins us to talk about the multi-faceted issues surrounding immigration, family separation, lost time, and the omnipresent fear of the unknown.
A celebration of the transformative power of music, and the bonds that develop when artists collaborate and worlds collide, the film follows Satan & Adam, a blues duo and a fixture on Harlem’s sidewalks in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Director V. Scott Balcerek pulls together over two decades of documentary footage to chart the duo’s trajectory from busking in the streets of Harlem, where they were happened upon by U2 who were filming for their Rattle and Hum documentary, to bigger and bigger stages, depicting the challenges that both had to overcome to keep Satan & Adam and their friendship together. Playing for years with artists including James Brown, King Curtis and Big Maybelle, Sterling Magee experienced the music industry’s exploitation of black musicians firsthand. So he walked away to play on the Harlem streets for “his people.” Reborn as Satan, he spread his gospel of freedom and became a New York City legend. When a white Jewish Ivy league scholar and musician named Adam Gussow asked if he could join him one day, both their lives took a powerful turn. Adam put aside the ivory tower life to play in the streets, and Sterling’s embrace of his younger apprentice forged a sound that thrust him back in the spotlight. But life on the road took its toll on the duo, and suddenly Sterling vanished without a trace. The separation would test both men’s courage, and their journey to find each other again a tale of tragedy, survival and miraculous rebirth. Director V. Scott Balacerek stops by to talk about a 23 year long journey chronicling the twists and turns of two dedicated musicians and an unlikely friendship.
April 19 – Opening in Los Angeles – Glendale Laemmle Theatre – Director V. Scott Balcerek will participate in Q&A’s following the 7:30 pm shows on Friday, 4/19, and Saturday, 4/20 at the Glendale and on Tuesday, 4/23 at the Monica Film Center. Producer Ryan Suffern will join him on Saturday.
Grand Jury Prize
2018 Nashville Film Festival
2018 American Film Festival
2018 Tribeca Film Festival
“John Sayles once told me that he thinks it’s music, more than anything, that has the power to bring Americans together across racial lines. Satan & Adam speaks to just such a power and goes beyond that to show us what it’s worth.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“The best third act of any music doc since Searching for Sugar Man.” – JB Spins
“Will move your feet and soul.” – Unseen Films
“Passionate and moving… Nothing could prepare me for what I would discover.” Film Inquiry
“Inspiring… reminds you what it means to be human.” – Nonfics
The 17th edition of the fest begins on Thursday, April 11th with an opening night tribute to legendary Indian Actress TABU, who is regarded as one of the most talented Indian actors of her generation, having been honored with two National Film Awards, six Filmfare Awards and notably, the Padma Shri from the Government of India in 2011. In addition to opening with a tribute and moderated discussion with TABU, the festival’s opening night gala event will also include a screening of her latest film ANDHADHUN, a feature directed by IFFLA alum Sriram Raghavan (Johnny Gaddaar).
Some other highlights from this year’s lineup include:
– A moderated panel featuring successful South Asian professionals working across various fields in the television industry. The panel boasts a lineup that includes actor/comedian Nik Dodani (Murphy Brown, Netflix’s Atypical), director Meera Menon (The Walking Dead, GLOW, The Magicians), writer Fawzia Mirza (CBS’ upcoming The Red Line), writer Chitra Sampath (Good Behavior, Southland), writer and co-creator of Fox’s The Resident Roshan Sethi, and actor Dhruv Uday Singh (Freeform’s Good Trouble, CBS pilot Pandas of New York).
-The screening of a trio of Sundance and Slamdance favorites that includes Ronny Sen’s unforgettable feature debut CAT STICKS, the exhilarating and imaginative real-life journey of TAKING THE HORSE TO EAT JALEBIS from theatre-turned-film director Anamika Haksar, and PHOTOGRAPH from The Lunchbox director Ritesh Batra.
-Director Megha Ramaswamy’s THE ODDS would close out the festival on April 14. THE ODDS is a coming-of-age tale about two teens who skip school on an important exam day and go on a fantastical journey through Mumbai. THE ODDS features supporting turns from Abhay Deol (Dev D) and Priyanka Bose (Lion) and special appearance by Monica Dogra, all of whom are expected to attend the Gala along with Ramaswamy and co-leads Yashaswini Dayama and Karanvir Malhotra.
Director of Programming Mike Dougherty stops by to talk the 2019 edition of IFFLA, the future of Indian cinema and the increasing acceptance among mainstream American film lovers.
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In early 2016, when a dark wave of anti-transgender “bathroom bills” began sweeping across the nation, The Human Rights Campaign published a report identifying 2016 as the most dangerous year for transgender Americans. In Washington State six such “bathroom bills” were introduced in the State Legislature. Documentary filmmaker Vlada Knowlton captured the ensuing civil rights battle from the perspective of a small group of embattled parents as they banded together to fight a deluge of proposed laws that would strip away the rights of their young, transgender children. As one of the parents, Knowlton presents an intimate portrait of her own struggle to protect her 5-year-old transgender daughter from laws inspired by ignorance and fear. From tension-filled Senate hearings in Olympia to intimate household settings of the families involved; from thought provoking conversations with key lawmakers to elucidating facts explained by leading scientists – The Most Dangerous Year explores the transgender civil rights battle in all its richness and complexity. While the film follows the story and outcome of anti-transgender legislation in Washington, the heart of the film lies in the stories of the families who made the decision to accept and support their kids for exactly who they are. Director Vlada Knowlton joins us for a conversation on her deeply personal film about her own family’s story and the stories of other loving and caring families fighting to protect and nourish their own.
“Capturing the perspective from families with transgender children, The Most Dangerous Year is a compelling documentary showing that transgender rights matter.” – Danielle Solzman. Solzy at the Movies
“The Most Dangerous Year excels in doing what great politically-charged pieces of art often do. (Director Vlada) Knowlton centers us, grabs our focus, and makes us listen.” – Michael Ward, You Should See It
The highly anticipated documentary AMAZING GRACE, captures the live recording of Aretha Franklin’s album “Amazing Grace” at The New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles in January 1972. Producer Alan Elliot joins us to talk about the “making of” and the resurrection of this remarkable display of raw talent and consuming passion, the 47-year long path that Amazing Grace has taken and how its arrival in theaters fulfills Aretha Franklin’s dying wish.
The Amazing Grace backstory
In 1972 Director Sydney Pollack (Tootsie, 3 Days of the Condor, Out of Africa) was inexperienced in shooting music documentary and shot without clapper boards snapping shut at the beginning of each take to help synchronize sound and picture in post-production. As a result of this mistake, even after months of work by experts, the 20 hours of footage couldn’t be synchronized with the audio tracks. The choir director from the Watts recordings was brought in to try to lip-read the reels, but after months of work, only about 150 minutes of footage had been matched with sound, none of it adding up to a complete, useable song. Deadlines passed as the “Amazing Grace” album came out in June 1972, selling millions with no synergy. In August, Warner Bros. officially wrote off and shelved the movie. Pollack never gave up on the project, but constantly had other commitments. In 2007, dying of cancer, Pollack finally handed the documentary project over to producer and music enthusiast Producer Alan Elliott.
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
CRITIC’S PICK: “Nonetheless, from a distance, this is obviously one of the great music films, less epic in scope than, say, “The Last Waltz” but as glorious in communal feeling and South Los Angeles zeal as “Wattstax” (the natural partner for a double feature) and as musically imaginative as “Stop Making Sense.” What distinguishes “Amazing Grace,” what lifts it to the penthouse, is a mix of energy and moment…You get both the most lovely gaze a professional camera’s ever laid upon Aretha Franklin and some of the mightiest singing she’s ever laid on you. The woman practically eulogizes herself. Don’t bother with tissues. Bring a towel.” – Wesley Morris, NEW YORK TIMES
“The two nights of filmed performances find Franklin-accompanied by the Reverend James Cleveland and the Southern California Community Choir-in spectacular voice and prolific imagination. Her rapturous power and intense concentration are revealed in long, urgent closeups that seem to reflect even the cinematographers’ awed astonishment. The film is a triumph of timeless artistry over transitory obstacles; its very existence is a secular miracle.” – Richard Brody, NEW YORKER
” … A captivating artifact, the rare making-of documentary that doesn’t just comment on but completely merges with its subject. The lift-you-to-the-rafters intensity of Franklin’s voice remains so pure and galvanic that “Amazing Grace” is one of the few movies you could watch with your eyes closed, though you would hardly want to.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
The gripping new documentary Roll Red Roll goes behind the headlines on a story that grabbed the national attention seven years ago. At a pre-season football party in small-town Steubenville, Ohio, a heinous crime took place: the assault of a teenage girl by members of the beloved high school football team. What transpired would garner national attention and result in the sentencing of two key offenders. But it was the disturbing social media evidence uncovered online by crime blogger Alex Goddard that provoked the most powerful questions about the case, and about the collusion of teen bystanders, teachers, parents and coaches to protect the assailants and discredit the victim. As it painstakingly reconstructs the night of the crime and its aftermath, Roll Red Roll uncovers the engrained rape culture at the heart of the incident, acting as a cautionary tale about what can happen when teenage social media bullying runs rampant and adults look the other way. The film unflinchingly asks: “why didn’t anyone stop it?” Director Nancy Schwartzman joins us to talk about life in a town where high school football is king, a “boys will be boys” ethos that can easily morph into a rape culture and how a few brave women said no more.
“A tough but essential watch, “Roll Red Roll” documents how a sexual assault in a declining Appalachian town became an international cause célèbre.” – Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times
“Nancy Schwartzman’s devastating real-life thriller documents a shocking sexual assault in a tight-knit community, and the role of social media in compounding the felony but also helping to solve it” – Peter Howell, Toronto Star
“Documentaries don’t usually horrify the oxygen out of me, but I found myself gulping for air more than once during Roll Red Roll.” – Lena Wilson, Slate
“Roll Red Roll is often hard to watch, but [director Nancy] Schwartzman handles the subject matter with respect, grace, insight, and even hope.” – Erika W. Smith, Bust Magazine
When Steve Bannon left his position as White House chief strategist less than a week after the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017, he was already a notorious figure in Trump’s inner circle, and for bringing a far-right ideology into the highest echelons of American politics. Unconstrained by an official post – though some say he still has a direct line to the White House – he became free to peddle influence as a perceived kingmaker, turning his controversial brand of nationalism into a global movement. Alison Klayman’s THE BRINK follows Bannon through the 2018 mid-term elections in the United States, shedding light on his efforts to mobilize and unify far-right parties in order to win seats in the May 2019 European Parliamentary elections. To maintain his power and influence, the former Goldman Sachs banker and media investor reinvents himself – as he has many times before – this time as the self-appointed leader of a global populist movement. Keen manipulator of the press and gifted self-promoter, Bannon continues to draw headlines and protests wherever he goes, feeding the powerful myth on which his survival relies. Director and Cinematographer Alison Klayman (Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry, On Her Shoulders) joins us for a conversation on gaining access and the confidence of a man who has maneuvered his way into the darkest corners of white-wing global brinksmanship.
“STARTLING.” Steven Zeitchik, Washington Post.
“GRIPPING.” Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times.
“A MUST SEE.” Manohla Dargis, New York Times.
“The Brink” is an impeccably crafted verité ramble – an engaging and enraging, disturbing and highly revealing movie…” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“What makes The Brink so different from just another platform for this professional troll? Though Klayman sticks to a largely vérité approach of following her subject around and observing his various interactions, she also provides important context.” – Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine / Vulture
TRE MAISON DASAN is told directly through the eyes of the children themselves, Tre Maison Dasan is a moving portrait of three unforgettable young boys struggling to grow up with a parent in prison. They face the pressure of growing up in a society that often demonizes their parents, provides little support for their families, and assumes “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Society writes them off as criminals, but in their hearts their children still see them as mom and dad. Tre is a charismatic but troubled 13-year-old who hides his emotions behind a mask of tough talk and hard edges. Maison is a funny, charming, hyper-articulate 11-year-old whose Autism Spectrum Disorder presents itself through his ever-active mind and deep love for those around him. Dasan, the youngest of the boys, is a shy and sensitive six-year-old full of curiosity and empathy. Although their parents are incarcerated for serious crimes, the strong and caring relationships they maintain with their kids shatter stereotypes about those behind bars and remind us of the plight of the over 1.7 million American children growing up with an incarcerated parent. Denali Tiller is an artist and filmmaker. Following her work directing and producing TRE MAISON DASAN, Tiller is working on a large-scale, multi-sectoral impact campaign for the film, engaging communities affected by incarceration across the US and in Europe. In 2015, Denali was named one of 10 “Filmmakers to Watch” by Variety. As a director, Tiller is passionate about exploring new perspectives on systemic issues, empowering youth and women, and how we raise boys in America. Director Denali Tiller joins us for an engaging conversation on the implications of incarceration that go far beyond a prisoners time behind bars and into the deeper impacts it has on their family, community and civil society.
Rhode Island International Film Festival – Grand Prize
London Raindance Film Festival – Best Documentary Feature
Olympia International Film Festival for Children and Young People – Youth Jury Award for Best Film and Best Direction
Heartland International Film Festival – Grand Prize (Nominee)
“It’s a remarkable film, powerful in its emotional content and profound in its criticism of a system that sets the next generation up for failure.” – Christopher Llewellyn. Hammer to Nail
“A gripping look at children wounded by their parents’ crimes.” – Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter
“Nonfiction filmmaking doesn’t get much better than this.” Chris Reed, Film Festival Today
THE BOY BAND CON: THE LOU PEARLMAN STORY is a documentary feature that tells the story of famed boy band impresario Lou Pearlman. The film tracks his life from his childhood in Queens, New York through discovering mega-bands *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, and chronicles his later life, including his perpetration of one of the largest Ponzi schemes in American history. This is the first time this story has ever been told from the perspective of the people involved: from the boy band members themselves, and the Ponzi scheme investors to Lou’s childhood friends. Interview subjects include artists Lance Bass, JC Chasez, and Chris Kirkpatrick (*NSYNC); AJ McLean (Backstreet Boys); and Aaron Carter and Ashley Parker Angel (O-Town). Director, editor and cinematographer Aaron Kunkel (Charlie and the Ghost, The Moment) joins us to talk about an all-too-familiar tale of deception perpetrated by a trusted, likable and conflicted con artist.
“The Boy Band Con, The Lou Pearlman Story is a film wrought with both truth and lies, and Lance and I, and the whole team at Pilgrim, really took to heart uncovering what was real story amongst all the rumors, half-truths and full-blown falsehoods. Lou wove a tangled web. As Johnny Wright, the former manager of Backstreet and *NSYNC says, Lou was like a tabloid: there’s 10 percent of truth to what he says, and the rest is Lou taking it where he wants. We’re living in a time when truth and lies seem to blur together more and more and I wanted to examine the differences between them, while also exploring why they’re becoming – and in a lot of ways may always have been – difficult to tell apart.” – Director Aaron Kunkel
Los Angeles – Arclight Sherman Oaks from Wednesday, March 27th through Tuesday, April 2nd.
New York – AMC 34th Street 14 from Friday, March 29th through Thursday April 4th.
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“It may be an all-too-familiar refrain – trusted music manager rips off his clients – but “The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story” sets it in the broader, more intriguing context of the age-old pursuit of those twin trappings, fame and fortune.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“Told in jaw-dropping fashion, the The Lou Pearlman Story follows the famed musical talent scout…to the Harvey Weinstein/Bernie Madoff figure he would ultimately become.” – Robert Daniels, ThatShelf.com
“As Kunkel structures the doc, it’s like “Here’s this guy who nobody completely understands, now let’s go back in time and … nobody understood him then, either.” I prefer that to cheap and specious psychoanalyzing.” – Dan Feinberg, Hollywood Reporter
“The Boy Band Con’s most remarkable feat is showing how Pearlman’s two crowning achievements were merely cogs in the vast machinery of his deception.” – Bryan Rolli, The Daily Dot
AMERICAN RELAPSE tells the story of two people fighting to make a difference against the devastating heroin epidemic that’s spawning a billion-dollar treatment industry. Against the odds, in an “Us vs. the World” mentality, two recovering addicts spend their lives pulling needles out of the arms of addicts and assist in placing them in reputable treatment facilities. The film features Frankie and Allie who live and work in Delray Beach, Florida, the Rehab Capital of America, now referred to by some as the Relapse Capital of America. They allowed the film crew all access for one weekend. What transpires over 72 hours is not only captivating and raw, but a heart-breaking rollercoaster ride. Frankie is 38 and has relapsed multiple times but continues to operate his F*ck Heroin Foundation with his mother. Allie is 28 and has been clean and sober for 10 years. While they are at different points on the recovery spectrum, they both share a deep belief in the 12th step: helping others. These unlikely and imperfect heroes opened their lives for the world to see, hoping to shine a light anywhere and any way they can. In the process, they show viewers and addicts alike that despite seemingly impossible odds and devastating damage, empathy and hope can restore a little bit of humanity to those who struggle and can sometimes save their lives. Co-directors Pat McGee (Dopesick Nation, The Deported) and Adam Linkenhelt (24 to Life) join us to talk about their raw, honest film and South Florida’s heroin epidemic and the revolving door of the for-profit rehab industry.
“How the revolving door of drug rehabilitation became big business.” – Louis Proyect, counterpunch.org
“Eye-opening and damning.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“Captures the recurring nightmare of substance abuse, which makes enduring the unthinkable (homelessness, prostitution, crime, death) an inevitable facet of one’s day-to-day.” – Nick Schager, Variety
Of all the divisions in America, none is as insidious and destructive as racism. The powerful documentary THE LONG SHADOW takes a shockingly candid look at America’s original sin – slavery — and traces the history of slavery from the country’s founding, up through its insidious ties to racism today. We witness from the moment of America’s birth, how slavery was embedded in principal structural elements of society, and yet, even as slavery ended, these systems still operate today in various forms, carrying out their original purpose – to diminish the social role of black people and keep them in a perpetual state of suffering. Director Frances Causey and Producer Sally Holst, both privileged daughters of the South, were haunted by their families’ slave-owning pasts. They grew up in a time when white superiority was rarely questioned, and challenging this norm was often met with deadly consequences. Rejecting the oft-told romanticized version of early U.S. history, they embarked on a journey of hidden truths and the untold stories of how America – driven by the South’s powerful political influence – steadily, deliberately and with great stealth, established white privilege in our institutions, laws, culture and economy. From New Orleans to Virginia, Mississippi and Canada, they traveled the roads of oppression, suppression, and even hope to reveal the direct link from early slavery, Jim Crow and strong-arm Southern politics to the current racial strife and division we face today. Director and Frances Causey is an Emmy-award winning journalist and documentary filmmaker who began her career with CNN. Her 2012 documentary feature, “Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?”was a New York Times Critic’s Pick and is currently seen in over 50 countries. Causey was honored with the Women’s International Film and Television Jury Award for her work on Heist. Frances Causey joins us to talk about the stain of slavery and the legacy of racism that continues to torment the American Promise.
“The Long Shadow is a moving personal and informative history of anti-Black racism in the US packed with revealing details and analysis and leading us towards understanding, healing, and commitment to work for racial justice. A must see for white people concerned about racial equity and social justice.” ~ Paul Kivel, Co-founder, Showing Up for Racial Justice
“The Long Shadow is a gripping personalized history lesson, with Causey covering salient points, including how economics drove the despicable trading of humans. Her of-the-moment feature couldn’t be more necessary.” ~ Randy Myers, Mercury News
“If you want to know the true hidden history of the evil that slavery cast over America, and how it continues to this day, you must watch this movie.” ~ Thom Hartmann, The Thom Hartmann Show
The most awarded “dream team” of documentary talent in decades CRADLE OF CHAMPIONS captures the epic story of three young people fighting for their lives in the oldest, biggest, most important amateur boxing tournament in the world: New York’s Daily News Golden Gloves. CRADLE OF CHAMPIONS follows three extraordinary, inspiring individuals—James Wilkins, Nisa Rodriguez, and Titus Williams—on an urban odyssey through a ten-week tournament, founded in 1927, that has produced more professional world champions than the Olympic Games. Telling a compelling story of dreams, heartbreak, and redemption, the result is a unique work of art. CRADLE OF CHAMPIONS is edge-of-the-seat drama with the polish of a Hollywood feature film and the intimacy of a gritty cinéma vérité classic.CRADLE OF CHAMPIONS Director Bartle Bull is a noted author and journalist who has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Financial Times. He joins us for a conversation on his desire to document an iconic sporting event that is teetering on the edge of extinction and the community that continues to support it.
Cradle of Champions Dream Team:
Director of Photography, TOM HURWITZ ASC, – (Valentino: The Last Emperor, Queen of Versailles)
KIRSTEN JOHNSON – (Citizenfour, Cameraperson)
MATT PORWOLL – (Cartel Land )
WOLFGANG WELD – (Escape Fire: The Fight to Save American Health Care, Carrier)
NADIA HELLGREN – (Trapped, Searching for Sugarman, Fahrenheit 11/9)
Editor MICHAEL LEVINE – (Restrepo, Central Park Five, Billy the Kid)
Producer MAIKEN BAIRD – (Icarus, City of Ghosts, Client 9: The Trial of Eliot Spitzer)
Executive Producer DONALD ROSENFELD – (Tree of Life, Jodorowsky’s Dune)
“A new standard for character-driven narrative documentary… the excitement, the powerful story arc, and the unforgettable characters one expects from a first rate fiction film.” – Santa Barbara Independent
Just out of high school, at the age of 18, Miles Lagoze enlisted in the Marine Corps. Lagoze was deployed to Afghanistan where he served as Combat Camera — his unit’s official videographer, tasked with shooting and editing footage for the Corps’ recruiting purposes and historical initiatives. But upon discharging, Lagoze took all the footage he and his fellow cameramen shot, and he assembled quite simply the very documentary the Corps does not want you to see. COMBAT OBSCURA is a groundbreaking look at daily life in a war zone as told by the Marines themselves. More than a mere compilation of violence, the edit ingeniously repurposes the original footage to reveal the intensity and paradoxes of an ambiguous war from an unvarnished perspective. Director Miles Lagoze joins us to talk about his deployment in America’s longest war, adapting to a whipsaw life of boredom, camaraderie and death and training to become a filmmaker via the United States Marine Corp.
“The beauty of the film is its realness. All the footage is taken directly from his camera. Lagoze went on to compile all the events he felt were representative of his experience. He shows the gun fights, the cursing, the shouting, the laughter, the fear and the hostility of the men in the war. Nothing is withheld.”Jessica Duffield, VOX MAGAZINE
“War is not fought but lived, and this is as close to first-person as one can get without being there. COMBAT OBSCURA sinks deeper into darkness as it progresses, as the utter pointlessness and futility of America’s presence in Afghanistan overwhelms the troops. While we are initially invited to empathize with the Marines, their jokey comradery gives way to vicious menace. There is no apparent mission, just a loop of injuries and reprisals against an amorphous outside threat. The final two scenes are a despairing diptych. In the first, the men realize they’ve killed an unarmed shopkeeper and plot to cover it up. In the second, one of them is seriously wounded in a firefight and they scramble to get him airlifted to aid. There is no point to any of it, just horror. That is all there is to this war, and no uplifting words will ameliorate it.” – Daniel Schindel, THE FILM STAGE
“This Marine-made war documentary is so raw the corps doesn’t want you to see it. One of most genuine looks at what the Forever War was like for those who waged it.”James Clark, TASK AND PURPOSE
The story follows rising political star Ilhan Omar, a proud hijab-wearing, one-time refugee Somali-American mother and community activist, as she seeks to unseat the long time incumbent who served in the legislature for 43 years. Also in the race is an eloquent male Somali activist who challenged but lost to Kahn in 2014. All three candidates run as progressive Democrats. Ilhan Omar’s win means she will become the first Somali-American, Muslim woman to hold state office in the United States, an especially dramatic prospect given the anti-Muslim rhetoric that brewed in the lead up to the 2016 Presidential race. Although the U.S. failed to elect its first female president, one woman still made history. Ilhan Omar’s story will present a counter narrative to the pervasive negative portrayal of both politics and Muslim immigrants and women in America. It will also raise questions about barriers to access to the political process in this country, and offer a refreshing and inspiring example of overcoming them. Director Norah Shapiro joins us for a conversation about her intimate and invigorating look into the quixotic campaign and the multi-faceted life of a Somali refugee seeking to bring a new voice and perspective into an evolving American paradigm.
From the Time for Ihan website: Kicking off on International Women’s Day, March 9th, 2019, and continuing through the 2020 elections, we are partnering with grassroots groups, national organizations, and schools and universities to host dynamic screening events that connect audiences with opportunities to take action in their own communities.
“Leaves little doubt about what immigrants, especially diaspora survivors, have historically contributed to our democracy.” – Film Journal
“Although it’s too soon to say what Ilhan Omar’s long-term impact on American politics will be, her very presence represents the infusion of new energy that many believe the Democratic Party has long been in need of. She is now part of a new wave of politicians—and many more who’ve been inspired to run since the election of Donald Trump. And if she truly is the progressive politician Time for Ilhan portrays, maybe we still have a reason to say, ‘I’m with her.’” – The Root
“Observing her life on the electoral trail with remarkable intimacy and access, this rousing documentary offers rare insight into this formidable newcomer’s journey as she takes on a 43-year incumbent and redefines the face of American politics.” – The List
“She is so eloquent and passionate, I have no doubt that her platform will bring her to the world’s attention in the very near future. She is one to watch for.” – Musee Magazine
SHARKWATER EXTINCTION is a thrilling and inspiring action packed journey that follows filmmaker Rob Stewart (Sharkwater, Revolution) as he exposes the massive illegal shark fin industry and the political corruption behind it – a conspiracy that is leading to the extinction of sharks. From West Africa, Spain, Panama, Costa Rica, France, and even in our own backyard, Stewart’s third film dives into the often violent underworld of the pirate fishing trade to expose a multi-billion dollar industry. Shark finning is still rampant, shark fin soup is still being consumed on an enormous scale, and endangered sharks are now also being used to make products for human consumption. Stewart’s mission is to save the sharks and oceans before it’s too late. SHARKWATER EXTINCTION exposes the illegal activities isn’t easy; protecting sharks has earned him some powerful enemies. Friend colleague and founder of SeaChange Agency Brock Cahill joins us to talk about working with director and sea mammal advocate Rob Stewart, the popular misconceptions about sharks and the challenge to stop the unwarranted slaughter of 150 million sharks every year by a clandestine world-wide cabal.
Social Media for Sharkwater
Social Media for The SeaChange Agency
“Stewart… reveals a cruel market in which tens of millions of sharks are caught every year, their fins cut off and their bodies thrown back in the water to die.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times
“Stewart’s third film is also his best… with scenes of marine genocide that should make us all weep tears of rage.” – Peter Howell, Toronto Star
“Rob Stewart literally gave his life for Sharkwater Extinction. From the beginning, you see his passion for sharks and his dedication to saving them.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat
“An alarming, illuminating and emotionally gripping exposé. Forget about Captain Marvel and watch this powerful doc about the quest of a real-life hero, Rob Stewart, instead.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
Joseph Pulitzer’s New York newspaper, The World, would transform American media and make him wealthy, admired and feared. Throughout his four decades as a reporter and publisher, he created a powerful artistic vehicle that spoke to an unprecedented number of readers. Towards the end of his life, both sickly and blind, Pulitzer’s commitment to fearless reporting would tested by the most powerful person in American life. Pulitzer is an American icon who spoke of “fake news” over one hundred years ago. He fought the dangers that the suppression of news had for a democracy long before our present threats to press freedom. While he is remembered for the prizes that bear his name, his own heroic battles in the face of grave illness and Presidential ire have been forgotten as has the artistry and game changing originality he brought to newspapers. How did Joseph Pulitzer, once a penniless young Jewish immigrant from Hungary, come to challenge a popular president and fight for freedom of the press as essential to our democracy? Adam Driver narrates the film. Liev Schreiber is the voice of Pulitzer. Tim Blake Nelson is the voice of Teddy Roosevelt and Rachel Brosnahan is the voice of Nelly Bly. Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People Director and Producer Oren Rudavsky is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and several National Endowment for the Humanities and National Endowment for the Arts grants. Rudavsky produced Witness Theater a film chronicling a Self help organized workshop between holocaust survivors and high-school students which will premiere in 2019. His previous films Colliding Dreams co-directed with Joseph Dorman, and The Ruins of Lifta co-directed with Menachem Daum, were released theatrically in 2016. Colliding Dreams was broadcast on PBS in May 2018. Director Oren Rudavsky joins us for a conversation on the indispensable role Joseph Pulitzer played in the development of America’s crown jewel, freedom of the press.
“Summarizing the great strides he made for journalism without ignoring his colorful flaws, Oren Rudavsky’s Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People is an excellent primer, not just on the man but on the birth of the modern newspaper.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
“Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People serves as a profile of the publishing giant and an important lesson on freedom of the press.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
“Newspapers have been going downhill ever since the days of “yellow journalism” but this film about one of its masters demonstrates that documentaries are better than ever.” – Louis Proyect, Counterpunch.org
Tucked in the trees of Oregon’s Mount Hood, an introspective young snowboarder camps alone, anticipating a winter of adventure and self-renewal. In Cambria Matlow’s latest documentary WOODSRIDER a tenacious, 19-year old Sadie Ford operates within the poetic persona of a searching pioneer. Her footsteps track over the town of Government Camp’s mountain landscape, her dog Scooter her only constant companion. Deep among the Douglas firs Sadie snowshoes to build her nestled tentsite, a place she feels more at ease than anywhere with four walls. Riding sessions and house parties in town provide brief breaths of social interaction and connection, but otherwise she chooses to spend time in solitude. Sadie’s simple quest for joy is tempered by melancholy when increasingly warm temperatures on the mountain cause rain to replace snow, and the winter season grows shorter. Striking a youthful yet elegiac tone, WOODSRIDER is a meditative film about identity, home, and the way that human experience echoes that of the natural world. Director Caitland Matlow joins us to talk about the immersive, intimate look into the life of a woman determined to stake out her own path.
“Matlow’s patient, unobtrusive camera and Ford’s magnetism as a subject makes Woodsrider
one of the most intimate docs you’ll see this year. Hauntingly beautiful.” – Walker Macmurdo, Willamette Week
“Stunning camerawork, lovingly composed with visual fluidity. This film will have a lot of appeal to audiences who understand the thrall of the wilderness. It’s a rare capture to see a woman, alone in the elements, strong, independent and totally at ease with her space. The film provokes a lot of thought about our ‘place’ in the natural – and unnatural – world.” – Ashland Independent Film Festival
“Lovely and engrossing, mixing an ethereal distance with a strange intimacy.” – Mark Elijah Rosenberg,
Stunningly lensed and invoking the very best of cinema vérité, director Michael Dominic (SUNSHINE HOTEL) brings his newest feature documentary CLEAN HANDS to the Cinequest Film Festival for a much anticipated world premiere. Shot over the course of seven years (2011-2018) in Nicaragua, Clean Hands is a feature-length documentary which tells the remarkable, riveting story of the Lopez family surviving against the backdrop of Central America’s largest garbage dump, La Chureca and beyond. It is about family, extreme poverty, the hope and innocence of children, rescue and salvation, and the challenges we all face. This is a slice of life that is rarely seen. Director Michael Dominic stops by for a conversation on how crushing poverty impacts multiple generations and the daunting challenges people face in breaking the poverty cycle.
Festival screening dates at Cinequest:
Century 20 Redwood City – Screen 1 Saturday, March 9 @ 3:15 PM
Century 20 Redwood City – Screen 17 Sunday, March 10 @ 4:35 PM
3Below Wednesday, March 13 @ 1:40 PM
Mining country in Appalachia has been declared The Devilʼs Playground. A close-knit group of veteran miners, all friends and family, commence what would bea normal dayʼs work — except today a rookie, the son of one of our veterans and the god-son of the Section Leader, joins them, 18 year-old Ryan. With ever-growing safety concerns at the mine, Zeke (Section Leader and long time coal mining veteran), struggles with the correct course of action, weighing on one hand the safety of his men, and on the other, the need to earn a steady wage in an economically depressed region. Today, however, fate takes matters into its own hands when a huge methane explosion rips through the mine. Smoke engulfs the men, forcing them to rely on nothing more than, brains, brawn and faulty self-rescuers (oxygen tanks that afford them one hour of air). MINE 9 is the story of the struggle for survival against all odds; men trapped in hell as the result of exploitation, greed and circumstance. Director Edward Mensore’s intense new action/thriller MINE 9 will have its’ World premiere at the 2019 Cinequest Film Festival, running March 5-17th, 2019 in San Jose, California. MINE 9 is Edward Mensore’s second feature film. Eddie Mensore joins us to talk about his rivet, harrowing film about bravery in the face of insurmountable odds and the devotion of the men and women to a way of life.
Festival screening dates at Cinequest:
3Below Friday, Mar 8 @ 7:00 PM
3Below Monday, Mar 11 @ 7:05 PM
Century 20 Redwood City #17 Tuesday, Mar 12 @ 6:15 PM
Century 20 Redwood City #2 Thursday, Mar 14 @ 5:00 PM