Fifteen years in the making, The Animal People, Co-directed by Casey Suchan and Denis Henry Hennelly – Executive Produced by Joaquin Phoenix – follows the journey of six young Americans who find themselves targeted as terrorists by the US government for their involvement in a controversial protest campaign. Seeing the future of social movement organizing, the activists used the then fledgling internet to dramatically magnify their impact as they systematically knocked out the pillars of financial support that kept the company in business. But when letter writing and protests began to mushroom into dead-of-night vandalism and worse by unknown activists, this corporation and the government formed an alliance to destroy the group. The FBI began an unprecedented campaign of surveillance in preparation for prosecution, creating a model that would later be used against Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter. Congress, under corporate influence, rewrote laws and bent the definition of incitement in order to accomplish the prosecution of these six, potentially weakening free speech rights for all Americans. Featuring expansive interviews with the activists spanning over a decade, rare archival footage – including never-before-seen FBI undercover surveillance tapes, wiretaps and government documents, The Animal People is a chilling portrait of what happens when activism rattles the institutions of power. Co-director Casey Suchan (Denis Henry Hennelly) joins us to talk about their bellwether film that puts the anti-accountability campaign engineered by large corporate interests and the supine partnership with complicit government agencies on full display.
In the fascinating new documentary from Matt Wolf (Teenage, Wild Combination)RECORDER: THE MARION STOKES PROJECT, we follow the life of a former librarian, Marion Stokes. Her unusual “project” began when she started secretly recording American television twenty-four hours a day at the dawn of what we know today as the twenty-four hour news cycle. It started in 1979 with the Iranian Hostage Crisis, ending more than 32 years later, on December 14, 2012. Marion passed away as the Sandy Hook massacre played out on television. In between, she recorded on 70,000 VHS tapes, capturing revolutions, lies, wars, triumphs, catastrophes, bloopers, talk shows, and commercials that tell us who we were, and show how television shaped the world of today. Before the era of “fake news,” Marion was fighting to protect the truth by archiving everything that was said and shown on television. The public didn’t know it, but the networks were disposing their archives for decades into the trashcan of history. Remarkably, Marion saved it, and now the Internet Archive will digitize her tapes and we’ll be able to search them online for free. A mystery in the form of a time capsule, the film delves into the strange life of a radical Communist activist who became a fabulously wealthy recluse archivist. Marion’s work was crazy but it was also genius, and she would pay a profound price for dedicating her life to this visionary and maddening project. Director Matt Wolf joins us to talk about the librarian / activist / archivist / free thinker Marion Stokes, and how her unusual obsession has provided us with a window into an era of rapidly evolving news and infotainment platforms and the profound impact it continues to have on the present.
“Matt Wolf’s remarkable Recorder uses Stokes’ recording obsession as a way to explore both Stokes herself and the world she literally committed to video tape. The results are fascinating, weird, and often quite moving.” – Indiewire
“Intriguing from first minute to last… Relating this stranger-than-fiction tale with the narrative twists and turns of a well-paced thriller, Recorder will make news junkies feel a lot better about themselves.” – Hollywood Reporter
“Weirdly exhilarating… Enlightening and the stuff of madness.” Critic’s Pick – New York Times
“One outstanding offering in this year’s Tribeca Film Festival is Recorder, which reveals the secret greatness of a reclusive activist… An information revolutionary, Stokes, despite her decades of isolation, touched the nerve center of the times.” – New Yorker
“Recorder is more than just a portrait of a woman’s complicated relationships and obsessions… Recorder quietly seeds damning observations about the ways media narratives are formed, and how the shapers of these narratives distort the truth and our worldview.” – Flixist
“Utterly compelling and beautifully textured… A thrilling portrait of a woman collecting the history of the world as she lived through it through the very media we all engaged with, this is a powerful and truly important documentary feature.” – CriterionCast
“Marion’s life makes for a pensive, complicated romantic tragedy.” –Nonfics
In October of 1974 the body of Rachel Heller, a female IDF solider, is found in the sand dunes of Caesarea. She’s completely naked, except for a single sandal and a bra strap tied tightly around her neck. The investigation leads nowhere, until a young man by the name of Amos Baranes storms into a local police station, claiming he knew the victim and wants to help find the person responsible. He’s arrested and after 3 days of interrogations, he confesses to the murder. Coastal Road Killer is a rivetingmulti-part series examines whether a serial killer, who was never brought to justice, was behind a string of murders that occurred in Israel between the late 70s and early 80s and whether they might still be on the loose.Coastal Road Killer was created by Yotam Guendelman, Mika Timor and Ari Pines, the team behind Shadow of Truth, the story of the 2006 murder of Tair Rada, a 13-year old Israeli girl, which became one of Netflix’s most-watched true crime docs. Coastal Road Killer explores the connection between storytelling and truth. Very much like Shadow of Truth, the filmmaking is aimed at showing us how easily we can be manipulated into believing a certain narrative, only to have it completely deconstructed in the next few frames.Co-directors Yotam Guendelman and Ari Pines stop by to talk about their riveting multi-part series investigative expose that through diligent research and forensic experts uncover new, credible evidence that raises a possible serial killer who has, so far, avoided responsibility for their crimes.
In this extraordinary documentary, WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS we are immersed in the Kenyan bush, as a small-time ivory dealer fights to stay on top while forces mobilize to destroy his trade. When he propositions his younger cousin, a conflicted wildlife ranger who hasn’t been paid in months, they both see a possible lifeline. The plummeting elephant population in Africa has captured the attention of the world, and as the government cracks down, both poachers and rangers face their own existential crises— what is the value of elephant life relative to human life? And can we understand these hunters who will risk death, arrest, and the moral outrage of the world to provide for their families? The photography in this film is so stunning that many people forget they’re watching a documentary, and it’s probably why WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONSwas justnominated for two 2019 IDA Documentary Awards (Best Cinematography and Best Editing). WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS is told in the style of “embedded” filmmaking with an intimate and strikingly honest look at elephant poaching in Kenya, told from both perspectives — the poachers and the rangers who pursue them. At its core, WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS is the human side of why people do what they do given their circumstances. An angle not many people think about when they hear “elephant poaching”. WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS is executive produced by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land) and directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and Doc NYC 40 Under 40 honoree, Jon Kasbe. Kasbe followed his subjects over a three-year period, gaining an extraordinary level of access and trust on both sides of the ideological and ethical spectrum. The result is a rare and visually arresting look at the perspectives and motives of the people at the epicenter of this conservation crisis. Director Jon Kasbe joins us to talk about the making of his riveting film, gaining the confidence of the film’s subjects and navigating the many ethical questions he confronted during the making of When Lambs Become Lions.
“A probing view of how a failed African state allows poaching to continue, no matter the lofty speeches of its new president. When people are desperate, they turn to crime–including poaching.” – Louis Proyect, Counterpunch.org
“Documents how this daily struggle binds together the inhabitants of Northern Kenya, both man and beast, and explores how questions of morality and mortality become increasingly complicated in such a savage landscape.” – Nikki Baughan, Screen International
“Kasbe nudges us to remember the importance of food on the table – for all Kenyatta’s show of might, wouldn’t a better situation be kindled by simply paying people what they’re owed?” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film
In her latest documentary, TO KID OR NOT TO KID,filmmaker Maxine Trump turns the camera on herself and her close circle of family and friends as she confronts the idea of not having kids. While exploring the cultural pressures and harsh criticism childfree women regularly experience, as well as the personal impact this decision may have on her own relationship, Maxine meets other women reckoning with their choice: Megan, who struggles to get medical permission to undergo elective sterilization, and Victoria, who lives with the backlash of publicly acknowledging that she made a mistake when she had a child. TO KID OR NOT TO KIDbravely plunges into an aspect of reproductive choice often misunderstood, mischaracterized, or considered too taboo to discuss. With rising public awareness about climate change, resource scarcity and global population, this timely film asks the question “Why can’t we talk about not having children?” Director Maxine Trump joins us for a lively conversation on pros and cons of parenthood, how that decision has played itself out in her life and the lives of those around her.
About the filmmaker:Maxine Trump worked for the BBC in London for seven years as a development executive for scripted comedy before emigrating to the USA, working as a TV commercial director and producer for eight years. She won BDA awards for her work on numerous commercial projects for Network TV and agency clients. Shewent on to direct documentaries for Sundance, TNT, BBC, TLC, Discovery etc. Her previous feature film Musicwood was a New York Times Critics pick, festival award winner and played on TV and in theaters around the world. Maxine is the author of the book “The Documentary Filmmakers Roadmap” published by Routledge, she is a Sundance advisor and teaches documentary filmmaking at the New York Film Academy. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and inquisitive cat and is always seeking new stories to tell.
“Candid and empathetic, the movie’s segments can feel rushed and unfocused; yet they have a ragged intimacy that argues implicitly for an individual’s right to choose, without interference or condemnation.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
“An engaging personal essay documentary about not having children, complete with interviews, arguments, hard data and sound reasoning coming from both sides of the debate” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“Strong arguments hold that having children is in some cases a selfish choice. Not having children, by contrast, is not selfish.” – Harvey S. Karten, Big Apple Reviews
The thought-provoking and intriguing new documentary IN BRIGHT AXIOM introduces us into the world of the House of Latitude. A place where absolute discretion is demanded in exchange for entry into a mysterious social experiment in the form of an elaborate immersive experience. Drawing a community of curiosity seekers, this secret society becomes a way of life for some, putting increasing pressure on the organizers to maintain this sophisticated and fantastical parallel world. From the minds who inspired AMC’s upcoming series Dispatches From Elsewhere,IN BRIGHT AXIOM weaves an intriguing cautionary tale about the unforeseen consequences of embracing the unknown. Followers of Meow Wolf, Sleep No More, Ingress and other immersive & augmented reality entertainment should take note. IN BRIGHT AXIOM also features never-before-seen discourse from the mesmerizing hip-hop polymath, RAMMELLZEE and original music by Justin Robbins, with additional songs from Isan, Tickles, and ü-Ziq. Director Spencer McCall has spent the last ten years orchestrating socio-reengineering and public hoax-prank performance art pieces. An avid fan of the Yes Men, McCall began by participating in Improv Everywhere inspired events, “plant” based roles in The Go Game, and location-based performances with Atmos-theater. In 2009, he became a co-creator of the Jejune Institute; a citywide alternate reality game in San Francisco that lasted three years and “inducted” over 10,000 unknowing participants. McCall took his experience working with Jejune and turned it into an award-winning documentary The Institute.The Institute is currently being remade into a series on a major television network. McCall also contributed to follow-up experience The Latitude Society; a faux secret society with an underground experiential labyrinth beneath San Francisco. Director Spencer McCall and House of Latitude founder and In Bright Axiom subject, Jeff Hull, join us for a fascinating conversation on the ebb and flow, as well as, the inherent contradiction that facilitated the unraveling of this remarkable enterprise.
In the entertaining and informative documentary we meet Jack Sim,MR. TOILET: The World’s #2 Man.To strangers, Jack Sim might come across as an eccentric entrepreneur who is obsessed with toilets, but to those who know him he’s “Mr. Toilet,” a crusader for global sanitation. Born in the Singapore slums, Sim knows first-hand the agonies of not having a proper loo. Sim’s is dedicating his life to a crisis no one dares talk about. Not having a place “to go” isn’t just an inconvenience, it’s a problem that impacts 2.4 billion people worldwide. In India alone, 200,000 children die each year from lack of safe sanitation, while women are regularly raped because they have to defecate in public spaces. He founded the World Toilet Organization and spent the last 13 years lobbying 193 countries to raise awareness for proper sanitation. He even successfully lobbied the United Nations to create World Toilet Day (November 19) – the first International day of celebration for the toilet.Now he is plunged into his biggest challenge yet when asked to secure 6 million toilets for the “Clean India” initiative. But with few resources and no help from the government, his epic project and reputation are in jeopardy. Jack’s once supportive staff begins to doubt him; and when his family bonds start to fray over his obsessive dedication, Mr. Toilet realizes there is a price to pay for being the world’s #2 man. But as a “su-poo-hero”, he can’t quit. Director, producer and writer Lily Zepeda joins us to talk about a man possessed with bringing sanitation to a world that may not be ready to embrace it and how his mission has impacted the people closest to him.
“For me, the issue of clean sanitation and access to it is absolutely something I took for granted. Mr. Toilet showed me how foolish that idea was.” – Bobby LePire, Film Threat
“Enhanced by playful animations, this nicely composed documentary serves as an engagingly honest profile of a driven man and his prodigious movement.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“An intelligently crafted and balanced documentary that effectively captures her subject’s rambunctious personality, the sanitary issues he wants to bring to a wider audience, and even some light criticism.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate
After the patriotic themes of her first hit song launch her to stardom in Vietnam, Mai Khoi’s personal and artistic growth places her and those around her in jeopardy. A shift from pop star to activist sees Khoi run for office, advocate for women’s rights and sit down with President Barack Obama. Her aspirations to release an album with her new band, The Dissidents, are challenged by looming retaliation by the authoritarian Vietnamese regime, leading the young activist to take drastic measures. Director Joe Piscatella stops by to talk about the journey of Vietnam’s most popular leading pop star from celebrated to hunted for speaking out against an oppressive regime hell-bent to silence her.
About the filmmaker: Joe Piscatella’s second feature documentary, Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower won the Audience Award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and was acquired as a Netflix Original. His first feature documentary, #ChicagoGirl, has been seen in more than 60 countries. He was also an executive producer on the documentary Finders Keepers, which premiered at Sundance in 2015. In 2019 he was nominated for an Emmy for his directorial work on Food Interrupted. His latest documentary, Mai Khoi & the Dissidents premiered at the 2019 DOC/NYC film festival.
In the new HBO Documentary Film – ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS, director Jenifer McShane dives into the lives of these incredible officers and their amazing mental health unit officers, trying and succeeding in doing good and truly making an impact. Winner of the Special Jury Award for Empathy in Craft at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival, director Jenifer McShane follows two members Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro of the San Antonio Police Department’s 10-person Mental Health Unit who are helping to change the way police respond to mental health calls. Their jail diversion work is humane and desperately needed to improve not only the health of the mentally ill, but also of their families. The duo head the special team that looks to treat mental health calls as opposed to the traditional policing tactics. Drawing on their own experiences, each have learned that the old ways of policing and dealing with mental health issues weren’t working. The issues they face as a department are the issues every community and police department in the country faces. The two officers and their colleagues in this unique department provide hope and inspiration at a time when we need it most, and show that great ideas and inspiration can come from any corner of the country. Director Jenifer McShane and film subjects Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro join us for a conversation on the trailblazing work being done by themselves and their colleagues as well as the withering and sometimes frustrating challenges that mental health, “crisis cops” deal with in the face of a national mental health epidemic.
Winner – Special Jury Prize – 2019 SXSW Film Festival
Winner – Grand Jury Prize Documentary – 2019 Independent Film Festival Boston
“No story or lecture can replace the power of witnessing this empathy in action, and Ernie & Joe is a moving, important testament to the impact that this unique approach can make on a community.”- Tori Preston, Pajiba
“Impressively intimate” – VARIETY
“One of the Best Films of SXSW 2019” – THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“Should Change the Conversation on Modern Police Work” – GLIDE MAGAZINE
Sex! Gossip! Scandal! For over 60 years, the National Enquirer has pumped out salacious, shocking stories, stretching the limits of journalism and blurring the lines between truth and fiction. Magnolia Pictures’ SCANDALOUS: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer, charts the thrilling origin story and influence of (in)famous supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer. The paper that former editor-in-chief Steve Coz called “the most perfectly placed piece of propaganda in America.” SCANDALOUS is the sensational true story of the most infamous tabloid in US history, a wild, probing look at how one newspaper’s prescient grasp of its’ readers darkest curiosities led it to massive profits and influence. From its coverage of Elvis’s death, to Monica Lewinsky and the O.J. Simpson murder trial, the National Enquirer rattled the foundations of American culture and politics, sometimes allegedly using payoffs and blackmail to get its scoops. With rare archival footage and revelations as wild as National Enquirer headlines themselves, SCANDALOUS examines our obsession with the rich, famous and powerful, and the tabloid that has fed those obsessions for generations of Americans. SCANDALOUS: The Untold Story of the National Enquirerwill open in select theaters on November 15, and features interviews with former Enquirer reporters and editors, including Iain Calder and Steve Coz, as well as journalists Ken Auletta, Carl Bernstein, and Maggie Haberman. Director Mark Landsman joins us to talk about the history of the supermarket tabloid that made UFO’s and mayhem respectable and in the process changed the way we consume all forms of media.
“While watching this entertaining documentary, keep in mind the claim made by journalist Ronan Farrow: The National Enquirer has buried at least 60 super-sleazy stories about our… president.” – Charles Mudede, The Stranger
“The story of the National Enquirer comes to life in Scandalous, a vibrant true Hollywood story that pulls numerous twists and turns.” – Kristen Lopez, Culturess
“”Scandalous” doesn’t break a lot of new ground in style, but it is a fascinating and essential examination of the media we consume and what consumes us.” – Karen M. Peterson, AwardsCircuit.com
The problem: The decline of the world’s coral reefs
Coral reefs cover only 0.1 percent of the Earth’s surface, but they’re home to 25 percent of all marine species, and they’re being lost at an alarming rate. Pollution, overfishing and climate change are some of the human-influenced culprits in the dramatic decline of these magnificent natural structures. Coral reefs serve as a linchpin in the global food web. Their decline leads our entire planet in a perilous direction. But research from scientists around the world hints at bright spots where real strides can be made in preservation and protection of these habitats.
The film: SAVING ATLANTIS
Narrated by actor and activist Peter Coyote, SAVING ATLANTIS is a feature-length documentary film by Oregon State University that covers the dramatic decline of the world’s coral reefs and those who are fighting to save them. Following the Global Coral Microbiome Project, a National Science Foundation-funded effort to understand the underlying causes of coral disease, as well as other coral conservation efforts, SAVING ATLANTIS focuses on the plight of an endangered habitat and the people most dramatically impacted by its disappearance.It is an emotional exploration of some of our planet’s greatest natural wonders at a tipping point in their ecological history. Co-directors Justin Smith and David Baker join us to talk about the intense research being done to save this invaluable planetary resource.
Centered on the indomitable character of former first-lady Imelda Marcos, THE KINGMAKER examines, with intimate access, the Marcos family’s improbable return to power in the Philippines.THE KINGMAKER explores the disturbing legacy of the Marcos regime and chronicles Imelda’s present-day push to help her son, Bongbong, win the vice presidency. To this end, Imelda confidently rewrites her family’s history of corruption, replacing it with a narrative of a matriarch’s extravagant love for her country. In an age when fake news manipulates elections, Imelda’s comeback story serves as a dark fairy tale. Director Lauren Greenfield (Generation Wealth, The Queen of Versailles, Thin) joins us to talk about a powerful political family, led by a single-minded matriarch, determined to return to re-capture the corrupted glory ofher family’s discredited regime.
About the filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield Named by the New York Times as “America’s foremost visual chronicler of the plutocracy,” Emmy Award–winning filmmaker/photographer Lauren Greenfield has produced groundbreaking work on consumerism, youth culture and gender for the last 25 years. Her films Generation Wealth, The Queen of Versailles and Thin and photography books Generation Wealth, Fast Forward and Girl Culturehave provoked international dialogue about some of the most important issues of our time. The Queenof Versailles was the opening night film of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Best Documentary Director Award and was named by Vogue asoneofthetopdocumentariesofall time. Her record-breaking Super Bowl ad #LikeAGirl (250+ million views) earned her 14 CannesLions and the Most Awarded Director by Ad Age, making her the first woman to top thislist. Generation Wealth (Amazon Studios) opened the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, screened at Berlinale and received a Writers Guild nomination. The companion exhibition received The Paris Photography prize, has traveled around the world and opens at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Copenhagen) inFall2019.In2019,GreenfieldlaunchedGirlCultureFilmstoaddressthelackofdiversityofdirectors in the advertisingindustry.
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Venice International Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Telluride Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Toronto International Film Festival
“Jaw dropping. Lauren Greenfield proves the perfect person to infiltrate Imelda Marcos’ psyche.”- Peter Debruge, Variety
“An enraging portrait of entitlement, opulence and corruption. Greenfield shows a knack for illuminating the oddly hypnotic allure of obscene, tacky wealth.”– Tim Grierson, Screen International
“Eye opening. Lauren Greenfield transforms an absorbing look at the life and legacy of Imelda Marcos into a fascinating documentary about the Marcos family’s troubled history – and the disturbing ways that it’s making a comeback today.”– Eric Kohn, IndieWire
:Marcos innately understands the importance of image, but she seems to have underestimated her inquisitor, who uses well-chosen historic footage and powerfully-edited interviews with other Filipinos to gradually expand the canvas.” – Elizabeth Weitzman, TheWrap
Between 2015 and 2016, the number of homeless people in Los Angeles County rose 23% to nearly 58,000.DISCO’D is a character-driven portrait of individuals who were living on the street at the time of filming. This riveting, on-the-ground documentary film captures the moment-to-moment uncertainty and endless instability of life on the streets. Immersive and intimate, highlighting issues of displacement, affordable housing, addiction, consumerism, and sanitation, DISCO’D examines the nature and complexities of homelessness. Navigating through the streets with those who live there, DISCO’Dtells a story of those affected by homelessness in Los Angeles.We have seen homeless communities sweep into all parts of the city in recent years. Director, / Producer / Editor Matthew Siretta and Producer / Sound Engineer Sam Mantell join us to talk about his unsettling film that captures the chaos and sheer hopelessness of the men and woman with no where else to go.
Filmmaker(s) statement: “As filmmakers, we tried to explore human connections by examining interpersonal relationships, and self-reflection, while maintaining a firm look at the people who live within this uneasy margin of society. By facilitating a conversation about these individuals’ relationships with themselves, others, and the city that contains them, we can intimately recognize and connect with them in a very real way. From the beginning, our intention was to make a film that felt personal and experiential, with a narrative that emerged from the frame of human behavior. We wanted to focus on the visceral aspects of their stories, relating to them through feeling, expression, action, and reaction. For us, it was important to remain open to discovery, new connections, and interesting juxtapositions. As they share their lives with us, we come to understand what it means to feel “disco’d” on the streets of Los Angeles. We hope this film is a powerful portrayal that can positively impact the ideas and thoughts viewers may have around what it means to experience homelessness in Los Angeles. That said, we hope that you find the film consistent with our efforts, as we’ve attempted to create a meaningful portrait on homelessness in Los Angeles.” – Matthew Siretta and Sam Mantell
“Important doc on LA homeless.” – Sean Baker, @Lilfilm
“Siretta meant to nab his hero Frederick Wiseman as his mentor and he succeeded, so maybe keep an eye peeled.” – Pamela Cohn, Filmmaker Magazine
“Impressed with the film, particularly as a first-time feature. Raw, accomplished filmmaking. It’s very strong…and some of the characters are extraordinary.” – Jim Kolmar, SXSW Film Festival
“…A deeply engrossing portrait of Los Angeles homeless life.” – Harry Vaughn, Sundance Film Festival
“The film provides its subjects the agency to tell their own stories, without judgment or suggestion. The camerawork and editing are sharp and well-suited to the film’s narrative.” – David Wilson, True/False Film Festival
THE ALL-AMERICANS takes us into the home to the nation’s largest Latino immigrant population, East Los Angeles, a community that sits squarely in the crossfire of debate about American identity. Yet every November, this community comes together for a distinctly American event, drawing 25,000 proud locals to one of the country’s fiercest high school football rivalry games: The East L.A. Classic. THE ALL-AMERICANS follows four students seeking glory on the field, while grappling with personal obstacles and striving to make sense of their community’s place in today’s America. Director / Producer / Editor / Writer Billy McMillin (Iraq in Fragments, West of Memphis, Mike Wallace is Here) joins us to talk about his feature documentary debut, THE ALL-AMERICANS, and it’s intimate, unvarnished look at young men, often living on the margins, in their dogged pursuit of the American dream.
About the filmmaker: Billy McMillin – Director, Producer, Writer, Editor has spent over a decade as a writer and editor crafting a diverse mix of stories—from war-torn life in Academy Award Nominee Iraq in Fragments, to an epic search for justice in West of Memphis, to a quest for greatness amongst the world’s best 7-year-old golfers in The Short Game. He edited Hulu’s original documentaries Becoming Bond and Too Funny To Fail, and led a team of editors on History & Viceland’s docuseries Hunting ISIS and SundanceTV’s true crime series No One Saw a Thing. Most recently, he edited the all-archival feature documentary Mike Wallace Is Here, which premiered in competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures this summer. The All-Americans is his feature directorial debut.
Bruce Franks Jr. is a 34-year-old battle rapper, Ferguson activist and state representative from St. Louis, Missouri. Known as Superman to his constituents, he is a political figure the likes of which you’ve never seen – full of contradictions and deep insights, who has overcome unspeakable loss to become one of the most exciting and unapologetic young leaders in the country. This short verité documentary follows Bruce at a critical juncture in his life, when he is forced to deal with the mental trauma he’s been carrying for the nearly 30 years since his 9-year-old brother was shot and killed in front of him, in order to find peace and truly fulfill his destiny as a leader for his community. Co- director Smriti Mundhra (Sami Khan) join us to talk about how a dynamic and charismatic man from a traumatized community took tragedy and turned into action.
About the filmmakers:Smriti Mundhra’s A SUITABLE GIRL premiered at Tribeca in 2017 and won the Albert Maysles Award for Best New Documentary Director. KHOYA, Sami Khan’s feature debut, was selected for the Tribeca Film Institute’s Tribeca All Access® fellowship.
The documentary Gay Chorus Deep South chronicles one community’s response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws in Southern states and the divisive 2016 election. The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South. Led by Gay Chorus conductor Dr. Tim Seelig and joined by The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the tour brings a message of music, love, and acceptance to communities and individuals confronting intolerance. Over 300 singers travelled from Mississippi to Tennessee through the Carolinas and over the bridge in Selma. They performed in churches, community centers, and concert halls in hopes of uniting us in a time of difference. The journey also challenges Tim and other Chorus members who fled the South to confront their own fears, pain, and prejudices on a journey towards reconciliation. The conversations and connections that emerge offer a glimpse of a less divided America, where the things that divide us – faith, politics, sexual identity – are set aside by the soaring power of music and humanity. Director David Charles Rodrigues joins us to talk about the expectations and realities that comes with traveling to communities with the hope of changing hearts and minds.
WINNER AUDIENCE AWARD – BEST DOCUMENTARY – 2019 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER AUDIENCE AWARD – BERKSHIRE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER AUDIENCE AWARD – TOP 5 NONFICTION FAVORITES – 2019 TRAVERSE CITY FILM FESTIVAL
“Successfully harnessing the power of both music and message, documentary Gay Chorus Deep South draws its strength not only from its subject, but also the effective way in which it it presents its arguments.” – Nikki Baughan, Screen International
“What makes the film especially compelling, though, are the all-too-human narratives involving those who were at one time badly victimized because of their sexual orientation; they want to forgive, but may never be able to.” – Phil Guie, Film-Forward.com
“There’s a lesson here that applies to more than just LGBT political causes: To heal the country and move on, we must reach across the divide and listen to one another.” – Peter Debruge, Variety
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound reveals the hidden power of sound in cinema . . . and our lives. Few have “ears to hear” or comprehend the emotional storytelling impact sound plays in so-called visual media. Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas have both declared“sound is 50% of the movie,” with Steven Spielberg noting, “Our ears lead our eyes to where the story lives.” Through film clips, interviews and archival footage–an enlightening and nostalgic look at many of Hollywood’s biggest box office hits–the film captures the history, impact and unique creative process of this overlooked art form and the artists behind it. Filled with insights from legendary directors–including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, David Lynch, Ang Lee, Sofia Coppola and Ryan Coogler, among others–who share revealing stories about the award-winning work their sound collaborators help to create. In Making Waves, we witness the wild creativity of some of the industry’s most-respected key sound designers–including Oscar winners Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now), Ben Burtt (Star Wars), Gary Rydstrom (Saving Private Ryan) and Lora Hirschberg (Inception); and Oscar-nominees Cece Hall (Top Gun), Anna Behlmer (Braveheart) and Bobbi Banks (Selma)–who, in pursuing their art and desire to push the medium, are the very people who will go down in the history of cinema as developing sound into the immersive storytelling force it is today. Audiences will discover many unsung collaborators for the key creative artists they are, in a domain that has for too long been characterized as “technical.” Director Midge Costin joins us to evangelize on the power and glory of sound and the visionaries who have pioneered a new frontier in cinema.
“Accessible, illuminating and entertaining, it’s a documentary of huge value, something that will enhance not just your understanding but your future experience of film.” – Emma Simmonds, The List
“A practically perfect primer for anyone interested in the history and craft of filmmaking, answering most of the pertinent, baseline questions while leaving plenty of room for supplemental research.” – William Bibbiani, TheWrap
“Provides an exhaustive history of the medium right before our ears and eyes, jumping quickly from decade to decade and bringing it all together as a comprehensive cinematic dissertation of aural complexity.” – John Fink, The Film Stage
“Making Waves will likely inspire viewers to seek out their favorite films and experience them with fresh ears.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
The story behind RETURN TO MOUNT KENNEDY begins and ends with Bobby Kennedy becoming the first human to stand atop a lonely peak in the Canadian Yukon that had just been named to honor his assassinated brother, JFK. His climbing guide was Jim Whittaker, a mountain icon who at 28 had become the first American to summit Mt. Everest. From that solemn trek,Jim—the shy outdoorsman and eventual CEO of REI—and RFK ignited a friendship over their shared love of wilderness. In the following years their lives would intertwine, both men having a profound effect on the other. But their shared path would end with an assassin’s bullet. In June of 1968, Jim would look on as Bobby was taken off life support. 50 years later, Jim’s son Bobby Whittaker— a legend of the grunge scene— decides that he and his brother Leif must ascend the mountain. Leif, the experienced alpinist, will guide Bobby, as they test their relationship on dangerous ground. When they are joined by RFK’s son Christopher Kennedy their trio is complete. Mt. Kennedy’s long shadow has loomed in all of their lives for decades. Now, half a century after their fathers’ climb, three sons will forge their own paths and find a vantage point above the shadows. Like their fathers before them, the trio bring out the best in each other. Confronting deeply emotional memories from a tumultuous era of American history, Bobby, Chris, and Leif finally understand why they were so driven to go there and why they must continue to do good in the world. Director Eric Becker joins us to talk about the deeply personal story of a family and the unlikely bond between two men who lived lives of purpose and integrity.
The acclaimed PBS documentary series Independent Lens, recently honored with two Peabody Awards, a Primetime Emmy nomination and 12 News & Documentary Emmy nominations, returns for a new season on Monday, October 28.This year’s premiere is Made in Boise,an engrossing look at the complex and controversial world of gestational surrogacy told through the stories of four women carrying babies for gay men and infertile couples in the conservative heartland of Idaho — the unofficial “surrogacy capital” of the United States. Also on the fall schedule is Decade of Fire, which travels back to the 1970s when the South Bronx was burning, to showcase the dedicated citizens who outlasted the flames and saved their community; The Interpreters, a moving look at the Afghan and Iraqi interpreters who risked their lives aiding American troops and who now struggle to find safety and security for themselves and their families; Conscience Point, which unearths the deep clash of values between the Native American Shinnecock of Long Island and their affluent Hamptons neighbors; and Attla, the rousing story of Alaska Native George Attla, who with one good leg and a determined mindset went on to become a champion dogsled racer. Other highlights of the Winter/Spring 2020 slate include Always in Season, a harrowing look at the history of lynching and the 2014 case of Lennon Lacy, a North Carolina teen who died under unexplained circumstances; Bedlam, a psychiatrist’s chronicle of what mental illness means in the U.S. today, interwoven with the story of how the system tragically failed his own sister; and Rewind, a devastating, autobiographical documentary about the far-reaching consequences of multigenerational child sexual abuse. Independent Lens Executive Producer Lois Vossen joins us to talk about the fundamental principles to support filmmakers telling stories about their communities and commitment to showcase thought-provoking documentaries about the issues that divide us and the ideals and beliefs that bind us together.
Made in Boise by Beth Aala(Monday, October 28)Go inside the lives of four surrogates and the intended parents whose children they carry. As the number of surrogate births surge across the country, a surprising epicenter of the movement is Boise, Idaho, where hundreds of women are choosing to be surrogates. For gay couples, single men, and those who struggle with infertility, this booming industry is often the last resort to biological parenthood. The film follows the four women as they navigate the rigors of pregnancy and the mixed feelings of their own families, who struggle to understand their choice to risk the physical and emotional complications of carrying babies for someone else.
Decade of Fire by Vivian Vázquez Irizarry, Gretchen Hildebran and Julia Steele Allen(Monday, November 4)In the 1970s, the Bronx was on fire and close to a quarter-million people were displaced when their close-knit, multiethnic neighborhood burned. While the abandonment of landlords and dwindling support from government officials led to the devastation, Black and Puerto Rican residents were blamed. Now, Bronx-born Vivian Vázquez Irizarry explores the truth about the borough’s untold history and reveals how her community chose to resist, remain and rebuild.
The Interpreters by Andrés Caballero and Sofian Khan(Monday, November 11)More than 50,000 local interpreters helped protect U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, enabling soldiers to communicate with the local population. But those who took the job were often considered traitors. In the aftermath of war, some have been able to leave their home countries and reach safety, while others still languish in hiding and fear for their lives.
Conscience Point by Treva Wurmfeld(Monday, November 18)In Long Island’s Hamptons, one of the wealthiest areas in the nation and an epicenter of the luxury property boom, a clash of values is taking place. The original inhabitants of the beautiful peninsula — the Shinnecock Indian Nation — find themselves squeezed onto a tiny, impoverished reservation. Over hundreds of years they have seen their ancient burial grounds plowed up for the widening of roads, mega-mansions, and ultra-exclusive golf courses like the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Now Shinnecock activists and long-standing residents, including farmers and fishing communities, are taking a stand against a never-ending tide of wealthy transplants, overdevelopment, pollution, congested highways and skyrocketing property taxes.
Attla by Catharine Axley (Monday, December 16)The inspiring but little-known story of legendary Alaska Native dogsled champion George Attla, who — with one good leg and fierce determination — rose to international fame. In the final chapter of his life, Attla emerges from retirement to mentor his 20-year-old grandnephew. With their sights set on reviving proud cultural traditions, the pair embark on a journey to compete in the world’s largest dogsled sprint race, one that has seen a steep decline in Native competitors.
The latest documentary film from Peabody Award-winning director Beth Aala, Made in Boise, looks at the world of modern day surrogacy. In the idyllic city of Boise, nurses, nail technicians, and stay-at-home mothers are choosing to become paid surrogates for people from around the world. Made in Boise offers a rare glimpse into this mysterious world by intimately following the lives of four surrogates, as they build relationships with the intended parents, prepare for the rigors of pregnancy, and navigate the mixed feelings of their own families, who struggle to understand their choice to risk the physical and emotional complications of carrying babies for someone else. Legal in some states and illegal in others, a number of states, including Idaho, have no laws governing surrogacy on their books at all. As the number of surrogate births surge across the country, Boise has become an epicenter of the movement, with a large population of healthy women of reproductive age and a significant number of Mormon and Catholic communities who value large families. In this “City of Trees” with a population of a little over 200,000, it is estimated that one in 15 mothers will carry a baby for a stranger at some point in her life. For couples who struggle with infertility, for gay couples, and single men, this industry — outlawed in many countries around the world — is often the last resort to biological parenthood. Director Beth Aala (Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman ) joins us to talk about challenges and rewards of surrogacy for the the women who bear the children and the intended parents.
About the filmmaker: Beth Aala (Director) is a three-time Emmy Award-winning producer and recipient of a Peabody Award for her documentary work at HBO. Beth’s most recent feature documentary, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman (Sundance, 2017), which she co-directed and produced, is a film about unlikely conservationists based on New York Timesbest-selling author Miriam Horn’s book of the same name. Beth also directed and produced Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (Toronto, 2014) with comedian Mike Myers for A&E IndieFilms. The documentary is an intimate and entertaining portrait of talent manager Shep Gordon, the most famous man you’ve never heardhttps://www.facebook.com/madeinboise/ of. It won a Hollywood Film Award and garnered a 2015 News and Documentary Emmy Awards nomination. Her directorial debut, Pool Party, is the untold story of McCarren Pool-turned-music venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, featuring music and performances by the Beastie Boys, the Breeders, M.I.A, Sharon Jones, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo. It played in festivals around the world.
Fantastic Fungi, the engaging and informative documentary directed by Louie Schwartzberg, is a consciousness-shifting film that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet. Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, Andrew Weil and others, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions the fungi kingdom offer us in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges. When so many are struggling for connection, inspiration and hope, Fantastic Fungi brings us together as interconnected creators of our world. Directed by the pioneer of time-lapse photography, Louie Schwartzberg (Netflix’s “Moving Art”, Wings of Life for Disneynature, and Mysteries of the Unseen Worlds 3D Imax for Nat Geo still playing in theaters) Narrated by Academy Award-Winner Brie Larson.Director Louie Schwartzberg joins us to talk about the amazing world of fungus and the burgeoning field of scientific research into the thousands of positive, possibly planet saving benefits that can be realized from the magical spores.
“Fantastic Fungi makes the case that the answers to disease, anxiety, depression and global warming might be found underfoot. And they’re tasty to boot.” – Michael J. Casey, Boulder Weekly
“Louie and his team have accomplished an amazing task – with beautiful imagery, celebrating the quality of nature we have now. Fantastic Fungi is a film that serves to be a bridge of understanding to connect these ideas. By investing in these fungal networks we invest in the webs of life. Time is short. We need to bring this knowledge to the forefront of public consciousness.” – PAUL STAMETS
In this brilliant followup to his award-winning documentaries (SENNA, AMY) DIEGO MARADONA captures the athletic brilliance and maddening duality of a soccer player widely considered to be best player in the world from the moment he burst onto the scene in his native Argentina. And yet success proved elusive. He failed at Barcelona. He was considered a problem player, too interested in partying. Meanwhile, having never won a major tournament, the ailing Italian football giant SSC Napoli were perennial underachievers. Their fanatical support was unequalled in both passion and size. But how they ached for success… On 5th July 1984, Diego Maradona arrived in Naples for a world-record fee and for seven years all hell broke loose. The world’s most celebrated football genius and the most passionate but dangerous city in Europe were a perfect match for each other. Diego Maradona was blessed on the field and treated like a God off it; the charismatic Argentine loved a fight against the odds and led Naples to their first-ever League title. It was the stuff of dreams. But there was a price… Diego could do as he pleased while performing miracles on the pitch, but as time passed, darker days closed in. Italy turned on him. The third film from the Academy Award-winning & multi-BAFTA-winning team behind SENNA and AMY (director Asif Kapadia, producer James Gay-Rees, editor Chris King, composer Antonio Pinto), and also Paul Martin, DIEGO MARADONA was constructed from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage from Maradona’s personal archive.DIEGO MARADONA is crafted in the style of SENNA and AMY. It is the definitive feature documentary on the charismatic enigma that is Maradona. In a city where even the devil would need bodyguards, Diego Maradona became a god. Maradona in Naples is the story of his life, the wild and unforgettable story of an unrivalled talent. He was a rebel, cheat, hero and god. This is a story of glory, despair and betrayal, a tale of corruption and, ultimately, of redemption. Director / Producer Asif Kapadia joins us to talk about the enigma of “Diego” and “Maradona.”
“MESMERIZING… one of the most colorful and fascinating personalities in all of sports, with a life story bordering on the mythic. You may know outlines of the soccer legend’s life, but there’s no way you won’t learn something from DIEGO MARADONA, Asif Kapadia’s absorbing and exhaustive new film.” – Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press
“a fame-technique movie, measured in crowd roars, off-field revelry, media run-ins, and fan scrums as dizzying accoutrements to success, but also – when Maradona succumbed to scandals surrounding women, an unclaimed son from an affair, cocaine, loyalty, and powerful mob friends – in how those same trappings can suddenly turn vicious, and a hero’s fall can go shockingly unsupported.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
“[Kapadia] has edited cruddy video footage (some of which appears barely more than camcorder-grade) and photographs into a movie so fluid that it moves like a Hollywood production. He also dispenses with much of the filler common to documentaries… It is exhausting and exhilarating, cheap looking and slick, a documentary for Maradona fans but also for many others besides.” – Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times
“Asif Kapadia has put together an extraordinarily intimate account of [Diego Maradona’s] rise and fall, enriched by grainy but graphic footage recording every phase of his life.” – Sandra Hall, Sydney Morning Herald
Oscar nominee Feras Fayyad (“Last Men in Aleppo”) delivers an unflinching story of the Syrian war with his powerful new documentary, THE CAVE. For besieged civilians, hope and safety lie underground inside the subterranean hospital known as the Cave, where pediatrician and managing physician Dr. Amani Ballor and her colleagues Samaher and Dr. Alaa have claimed their right to work as equals alongside their male counterparts, doing their jobs in a way that would be unthinkable in the oppressively patriarchal culture that exists above. Following the women as they contend with daily bombardments, chronic supply shortages and the ever-present threat of chemical attacks, THE CAVE paints a stirring portrait of courage, resilience and female solidarity. Director and writer Feras Fayyad stops by to talk about the unbelievable courage of the hospital staff led by Dr. Amani Ballor, and the volunteers as they keep an otherwise harrowing day-to-day nightmare from devolving into soul-destroying chaos.
**WINNER – Audience Award – Toronto International Film Festival 2019
**WINNER – Audience Award – Camden International Film Festival 2019
**SPECIAL JURY MENTION – Camden International Film Festival 2019
“Miraculous. A standout. Feras Fayyad’s powerful portrait audaciously puts women’s imperative contribution to survival front and center.” – Tomris Laffly, Variety
“Look no further than The Cave for a portrait of true heroism. Provides astonishingly immediate and gripping footage of the collective effort to survive. The Cave ranks among the best of films to portray the tragedy of the Civil War in Syria and the resilience of the everyday people who keep the spirit of the nation alive.” – Pat Mullen, POV
“Emotionally Moving. Both intensely real and a carefully wrought work of cinema.” – Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter
“Gripping. Unprecedented. A real-time thriller. Fayyad excels at finding small moments that take on poetic resonance.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire
ON THE PRESIDENT’S ORDERStell the searing story of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody campaign against drug dealers and addicts in the Philippines, told with unprecedented and intimate access to both sides of the war – the Manila police, and an ordinary family from the slum. Shot in the style of a thriller, this observational film combines the look and feel of a narrative feature film with a real life revelatory journalistic investigation into a campaign of killings. The film uncovers a murky world where crime, drugs and politics meet in a deathly embrace – and reveal that although the police have been publicly ordered to stop extra-judicial killings, the deaths continue. Director / Producer James Jones and Director / Cinematographer Olivier Sarbil join us for a conversation on the challenges of gaining access to the police, the victims of police violence and the draconian drug policy being enforced by a dictatorial, human-rights abusing regime.
Director and Producer – James Jones is an award-winning British director who makes documentary films for international television and theatrical release. His documentaries tackle important issues through powerful personal stories told in a filmic style and narrative. He has made films about police shootings in America, suicide in the military, wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and undercover investigations in Saudi Arabia and North Korea. His background in current affairs investigations means the films still have a hard journalistic edge while using the craft techniques of documentary. His films have won two Emmys, three DuPonts, a Grierson, a Rory Peck, a Frontline Club, a Royal Television Society, a Broadcast Award, two Overseas Press Club of America, two Golden Nymphs, and a Venice TV Award, as well as being nominated five times at the BAFTAs. Recently, he co-directed the Emmy-winning Mosul with Olivier Sarbil.
Cinematographer and Director – Olivier Sarbilis an award-winning French documentary director and Emmy-winning cinematographer based in London. Over the past decade, Olivier has covered conflicts and critical social issues across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. With strong visual storytelling, Olivier’s films are intimate and human, conveying emotions through beautiful and cinematic imagery. His work has been recognized with awards from a variety of organizations, including, Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography, DuPont, Royal Television Society, One World Media, Overseas Press Club of America, Broadcast Awards, Bayeux-Calvados for war correspondents (twice), Golden Nymph, Rory Peck, Venice TV Award, Frontline Club, Grand Award and Gold Medal at the New York Festivals International TV & Film. His imagery has also garnered a BAFTA Nomination for Best Cinematography.
“A shockingly alarming investigation produced with the sensibilities of a social realist drama, Sarbil and Jones’ nonfiction warning should petrify U.S. viewers immeasurably.” – Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times
“A wholly cinematic, sensory experience, with straight-ahead reportage electrified by glaring streetlights and a panicked urban wall of sound…” Guy Lodge, Variety
“On the President’s Orders is the disturbing observational documentary we’ve needed about the Philippines drug war, made with finesse and astonishing access.” Musanna Ahmed, Film Inquiry
Inspired by Lewis Hyde’s beloved classic The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, GIFTis a richly cinematic film, interweaving character‐driven stories. On North America’s Pacific Northwest Coast, a young Indigenous artist and carver undertakes the elaborate preparations for a potlatch – to make a name for himself by giving everything away. In Rome, Italy, a factory occupied by migrant families is transformed into a living museum, protected by a barricade of art : a model of resistance, and an invaluable gift. In the pirate utopia of Burning Man, a mutant bumblebee art car distributes honey in a post-apocalyptic desert landscape. Meanwhile, in Auckland, New Zealand, artist Lee Mingwei prepares to launch Sonic Blossom – a “transformative gift” of song.GIFT is a tribute to something that can’t be measured or counted, bought or sold. Exploring the parallels between artists’ work and a gift economy, it’s a reflection on the creative process, the reasons we “labour in service of our gifts”, and a celebration of the imagination. Director Robin McKenna joins us to talk about her beautifully meditative film about paying forward human connection and how communities can re-imagine the meaning of wealth and prosperity.
About the filmmaker:Robin McKenna is director, producer and writer of GIFT, a feature-length documentary and crossmedia project inspired by Lewis Hyde’s classic bestseller The Gift. She is currently making Thanadoula, a short animated documentary fairytale about a real-life “death doula”, in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada – and Medicine, a feature-length documentary over a decade in the making, about ayahuasca, medicine and healing, with Dr. Gabor Maté. She directed Genevieve Bujold: ArtVie, a short film tribute to Bujold on 16mm, for the Governor General’s Awards for the Performing Arts in 2018. Robin grew up in Montréal, and began making films with La course destination monde. Her cinematography credits include City of Borders (Berlinale, Hot Docs 2009) and The Take with Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis (AFI Best Documentary 2004).