Maria by Callas, Director Tom Volf

Tom Volf’s MARIA BY CALLAS is the first film to tell the life story of the legendary Greek/American opera singer completely in her own words. Told through performances, TV interviews, home movies, family photographs, private letters and unpublished memoirs—nearly all of which have never been shown to the public—the film reveals the essence of an extraordinary woman who rose from humble beginnings in New York City to become a glamorous international superstar and one of the greatest artists of all time. Assembling the material for the film took director Volf four years of painstaking research, which included personal outreach to dozens of Callas’s closest friends and associates, who allowed him to share their personal memorabilia in the film. When recordings of Callas’s voice aren’t available, Joyce DiDonato, one of contemporary opera’s biggest stars, reads her words. Through Volf’s intimate portrait of Callas, we see that some commonly held beliefs about Callas, notably her reputation as a “tempestuous” diva, have no basis in fact. MARIA BY CALLAS revisits many of the most notable controversies of Callas’s life, from the “Rome Cancellation” to her conflict with the Metropolitan Opera’s Rudolf Bing, and demonstrates that, while Callas was a demanding perfectionist, she was neither capricious nor someone who made trouble for its own sake. The film also sheds new light on Callas’s relationship with Aristotle Onassis, the supreme love of her life. Director Tom Volf joins us in a conversation on the story behind his illuminating look into the complex life of a music icon and his decision to tell Maria’s story in her own voice.

 

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For news and updates go to: sonyclassics.com/mariabycallas

Social Media:

facebook.com/mariabycallas

twitter.com/mariabycallas

Reviews:  90% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Captivating.” – The Hollywood Reporter

“Such artistry!” – Figaro Magazine

“A generous, full-throated defense of a tarnished icon.” – Variety“

“An enchanting story” – Vanity Fair

“A magnificent film” – Huffington Post

United Skates, Co-directors Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler

For years, roller-skating rinks have been a constant for African-American communities across the U.S., serving as a meeting ground, a place to have fun and an incubator of iconic hip-hop talents like Queen Latifah and N.W.A. As America’s last standing roller rinks are threatened with closure, a community joins forces in a racially charged environment to save the underground African-American subculture of roller skating, which has been overlooked by the mainstream for generations – yet has given rise to some of the world’s greatest musical talents. From executive producer John Legend and first-time directors Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown, the documentary UNITED SKATES highlights the dynamic world of roller skating, showcasing African-American rinks and skaters across the country as they fight to keep the culture alive and skate their hearts out. The film features interviews with hip-hop legends like Salt-N-Pepa, Coolio, Vin Rock of Naughty by Nature and World Class Wreckin’ Cru. UNITED SKATES spotlights three skaters fighting for their community: L.A. native Phelicia, a single mom who grew up in skates and hopes to keep skating alive for her children; North Carolinian Reggie, who lives hours from any rink that offers a night for black skaters and vows to launch his own; and Buddy Love, the owner of Chicago-based Rich City Skate, who struggles to keep his rink open, despite financial pressure. Co-directors Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler stop by to talk about their infectious and insightful look at a facet of African-American life in danger of fading away.

 

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For more news and updates go to: unitedskatesfilm.com

Check out United Skates on HBO

Social Media:

facebook.com/UnitedSkatesDocumentary

twitter.com/unitedskatesdoc

instagram.com/unitedskatesdoc

Reviews: 100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“This kaleidoscopically vibrant, essential-viewing survey plunges audiences into a dazzling underground scene, celebrating the endangered art form it finds there.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“This is a passion project in the best sense of the word, a movie in which the ingenuity and dedication of the filmmakers illuminate the same qualities in their subjects.” – Two Bugbee, New York Times

“…[an] exceedingly entertaining and genuinely revealing look into a roller-skating subculture that I frankly knew next to nothing about.” – Daniel Nava, Chicago Cinema Circuit

“This is a film that paints a humanizing portrait of an endangered form of expression, risked at the hands of the micro-racism and economic tribulations faced by the African-American community.” – Laura Birnbaum, Film Inquiry

2019 Oscar Nominated Short Films, with ShortsTV Chief Executive, Carter Pilcher

For over a decade, ShortsTV has proudly brought the Oscar© Nominated Short Films to audiences across the globe. This exclusive release features the year’s most spectacular short films and for a limited time is available to watch on the big screen. Each nominee is released in one of three distinct feature-length compilations according to their category of nomination: Live Action, Animation or Documentary. The films go into theaters around the world shortly after nominations are announced and are not released anywhere else until a few days before the Oscars©, when they are also made available via on demand platforms, including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play and Vimeo on Demand. The release ensures the greatest number of viewers can see all the nominees before the ceremony, while providing short filmmakers with an unprecedented opportunity to commercialize their movies. Carter Pilcher founded Shorts International in 2000. Coming from a background in both investment banking and law, Carter has made Shorts International the world’s leading short movie Entertainment Company, functioning as distributor, broadcaster and producer. Carter has extensive experience in short movie production and short movie entertainment. He is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a member of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch of The US Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) – the guys who pick the Oscars. For the last five years Carter Pilcher has been the highlight of Oscar season here on Film School. His insight, commitment and love of the short film format and the dedicated people who create them insures a lively and informative conversation on some of the best films you will see all year.

 

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For news and updates on the Oscar Shorts go to: shortstv – theoscarshorts

For screening information go to: theoscarshorts/theatrical release

Live Action (Short)    

Detainment 

Madre

Fauve    

Skin    

Marguerite 

 

Documentary (Short)

Black Sheep

Night at the Garden

End Game

Period. End of Sentence

Lifeboat

Animation (Short)

Animal Behavior

One Small Step

Bao

Weekends

Late Afternoon

 

Who Will Write Our History, Director Roberta Grossman

In November 1940, days after the Nazis sealed 450,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, a secret band of journalists, scholars and community leaders decided to fight back. Led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum and known by the code name Oyneg Shabes, this clandestine group vowed to defeat Nazi lies and propaganda not with guns or fists but with pen and paper. Now, for the first time, their story is told as a feature documentary. Written, produced and directed by Roberta Grossman, based upon the book Who Will Write Our History? by Samuel D. Kassow, and executive produced by Nancy Spielberg, Who Will Write Our History mixes the writings of the Oyneg Shabes archive with new interviews, rarely seen footage, and stunning dramatizations (shot on location in Lodz and Warsaw, Poland) to transport us inside the Ghetto and the lives of these courageous resistance fighters. They defied their murderous enemy with the ultimate weapon – the truth – and risked everything so that their archive would survive the war, even if they did not. Featuring the voices of three-time Academy Award nominee Joan Allen and Academy Award winner Adrian Brody, the film honors the Oyneg Shabes  members’ determination in creating the most important cache of eyewitness accounts to survive the war. Director / producer / writer Roberta Grossman joins us to talk about how her passion for social justice led her to Emanuel Ringelblum and what Who Will Write Our History can teaches about the world we live in today.

 

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For news and updates go to: whowillwriteourhistory.com

Social Media

https://www.facebook.com/whowillwriteourhistory/

https://twitter.com/writeourhistory

“A vital and sobering documentary” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“Who Will Write Our History tells the courageous but mostly unknown story of a covert group known as Oyneg Shabes and how they vowed to defeat the Nazis with pen and paper.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“The staged scenes are well acted, while readings from diaries and letters are heartbreaking.” – Ken Jaworowski, New York Times

“A deeply moving history-behind-the-history.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

2019 Slamdance Film Festival Spotlight

Spiral Farm, Director Alec Tibaldi

Up a dirt road, nestled in the hills of Southern California lies Spiral Farm, a vibrant and colorful intentional community inspired by the communes of the late 60’s. Its eclectic inhabitants look out for each other, as they work side by side on this completely self sustaining permaculture farm. 17 year-old Anahita (Piper De Palma), has lived on Spiral Farm for as long as she can remember and dreams of one day leaving the safety of Spiral and pursuing a career as a dancer. However, whenever she makes these plans she is always deterred by the thought of leaving Ocean, her eight year old nephew who she cares for and shares a deep bond with. Stifled by her responsibilities to her family and the commune, Anahita has developed what her mother (Amanda Plummer) calls a “bashfulness” when it comes to sexuality. When her mother’s old flame, Maurizio (Cosimo Fusco) arrives for an unexpected visit, he brings along his teenage son, Theo (Teo Halm). Anahita is immediately drawn to him, confused by her newfound feelings. When Theo discovers her passion for dance he encourages her to journey into the city for an audition. Away from the confines of the communes, Anahita discovers that although she lacks the technical skills to be a professional dancer, she may still be able to leave Spiral by going to college in the city changing the course of her life. But will Anahita, who has been so dedicated to others chose to live for herself? Director and writer Alex Tibaldi joins us to talk about his feature film debut and his intimate, moving character study of women in transition, searching for meaningful connections.

Letterboxd.com/film/spiral-farm

Behind the Bullet, Director Heidi Yewman

BEHIND THE BULLET is the directorial debut from author and activist, Heidi Yewman. When her former basketball coach and teacher, Dave Sanders was killed in the Columbine High School massacre along with 12 students, she began profiling the lives of those altered by the impact of gun violence. She is a tireless advocate for gun safety, sitting on the boards of The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Women Donors Network, Stop our Shootings, and Trauma Intervention Program of Portland, OR. In BEHIND THE BULLET will make it’s world debut as a documentary competition selection at the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival, Yewman chronicles an in-depth look at four individuals who have pulled the trigger and the profound impact it’s had on their lives. Every year, almost 40,000 people are shot and killed in America. Each shooting devastates and forever changes the victim’s family and friends. BEHIND THE BULLET explores a side of gun violence that’s rarely talked about – the impact a shooting has on the shooter. Four individuals share how the pull of a trigger, changed them emotionally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually. They describe the conflicting emotions and moral injury that comes after a self-defense, accidental, or unintentional shooting, offering a new and unbiased perspective on gun violence. Director Heidi Yewman joins us to talk about the devastating impacts that guns and the profound impact they have had on four people’s lives.

 

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For news and updates go to: behindthebulletfilm.com

“BEHIND THE BULLET is a captivating and honest look at what is going on in our country when it comes to gun control.  It looks at all sides of the issue that sometimes the media does not discuss or cover.  This is a must see film in our current climate.”   — Peter Hammond, Deadline

“Behind The Bullet is just WOW – an amazing insight into what we are dealing with in the U.S.  It’s a refreshing insight and a story that needs to be told.”  — Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter

This Teacher, Actor Kevin Kane (Director Mark Jackson)

THIS TEACHER follows a French Muslim woman (Cesar-winner Hafsia Herzi) as she travels to New York City to visit her childhood best friend from the rough neighborhoods outside of Paris. When the reunion proves disastrous, Hafsia steals her friend’s credit card and identity, and disappears to a remote cabin upstate. Deep in the woods and alone for the first time in her life, she experiences a divine revelation of an existence without borders. But when she discovers that she’s not alone on the property, Hafsia’s sojourn in nature gradually descends into a terrifying study of the intolerance and suspicion she encounters and reflects back to an Islamophobic America. Written and directed by Mark Jackson featuring a score composed from the Grammy nominated Dave Eggar, the film stars: Cesar-winner Hafsia Herzi  (The Secret of the  Grain)  Sarah Kazemy (Circumstance)  Lucy Walters (Power), Kevin Kane (Inside Amy Schumer), and Lev Gorn (The Americans). Jackson’s previous films have won 17 awards including an Independent Spirit Award and a Gotham Nomination.  Jackson is also a Sundance, Cinereach and Skywalker Sound Fellow. Actor Kevin Kane joins us for a conversation on THIS TEACHER’S closing night screening at the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival, intolerance and not being afraid to love.

For news and updates go to: visitfilms.com/This Teacher

Lois Vossen, Independent Lens Executive Producer

Lois Vossen is the Executive Producer of Independent Lens and has been with the show since its inception as a primetime series on PBS. Lois is responsible for commissioning new films, programming the series and working with filmmakers on editorial and broadcast issues. Independent Lens films have received 17 Emmy Awards, 16 George Foster Peabody Awards, five Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Journalism Awards and eight Academy Award nominations. The series was honored in 2013, 2014, 2015  and 2017 with the International Documentary Association (IDA) Award for Best Series. Before joining ITVS, Lois was the Associate Managing Director of Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Labs. Lois is a member of the Television Academy Board of Governors, representing the documentary branch. She has served on the jury at  Shanghai Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, SXSW, DOC New Zealand and Palm Springs International Film Festival, among others. Under her leadership, films funded or co-produced by Independent Lens include I Am Not Your Negro, Always in Season, Bedlam, One Child Nation, Black Memorabilia, The King, People’s Republic of Desire, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, TOWER, Newtown, Best of Enemies, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, (T)ERROR, The House I Live In, The Invisible War, and The Trials of Muhammad Ali, among many others. Widely regarded as one of the most influential supporters of independent and documentary filmmaking, Lois Vossen joins us for a conversation on the role that Independent Lens /POV and Public Broadcasting has had in maintaining the highest standards for innovative storytelling in non-fiction cinema.

 

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For news and updates go to: pbs.org/independentlens/films

Social Media:

facebook.com/independentlens

twitter.com/independentlens

instagram.com/independentlens

** 2019 Academy Award nominated ** Hale County, This Morning, This Evening, Director RaMell Ross

Acclaimed photographer RaMell Ross, 2019 Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary, has made his directorial debut with one of the most critically-acclaimed films of the year — Hale County This Morning, This Evening. An inspired and intimate portrait of a place and its people, the film looks at the lives of two young African American men from rural Alabama over the course of five years. Daniel Collins attends college in search of opportunity while Quincy Bryant becomes a father to an energetic son in this open-ended, poetic film without a traditional narrative. Distilling life to its essence, the film invites the audience to experience the mundane and the monumental, birth and death, the quotidian and the sublime. These moments combine to communicate the region’s deep culture and provide glimpses of the complex ways the African American community’s collective image is integrated into America’s visual imagination.. RaMell Ross met Quincy when he was teaching in a GED program in Greensboro, Alabama, and met Daniel when he was coaching basketball at a local high school. He shot over 1300 hours of footage over five years, which was then edited down into the final film. Director RaMell Ross stops by to talk about his meticulously assembled, ethereal ode to Black lives in Hale County, Alabama.

 

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*** 2019 Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary ***

For news and updates go to: halecountyfilm.com

Social Media

facebook.com/halecountydoc

twitter.com/HaleCountyDoc

The film premieres on Independent Lens Monday, February 11, 2019, 10:00-11:30 PM ET (check local listings) on PBS

94% on Rotten Tomatoes

“At every juncture, Ross elects for ambiguity and poses a question to the viewer to answer how black bodies are viewed, encouraging the audience to perform the labour of challenging their expectations.” – Melissa Vincent, Globe and Mail

“You could call it a transcendental scrapbook, because it wipes away the muck of subjectivity that guides most movies. It turns the audience into direct receptors of experience.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“…the cinematic equivalent of a memory quilt, woven together with a deep love of community, comprised of intimate though disparate moments from others’ lives, and poetically comforting despite its historically weighty components.” – Jordan M. Smith, Film School Rejects

“Hale County is the type of film designed to violate common rules of cinema. Story gives way to lyricism; there’s little dialogue, minimal plot, minutes upon minutes of pastoral imagery…Ross’s lens captures a reality that’s rarely seen by the human eye.” – Natalia Winkelman, The Daily Beast

“It’s not every day that you witness a new cinematic language being born, but watching RaMell Ross’s evocatively titled documentary Hale County, This Morning, This Evening qualifies.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice

Slamdance Film Festival Co-founder Peter Baxter

It all began when a group of cheerful, subversive filmmakers weren’t accepted into the Sundance Film Festival. Unwilling to take “no” for an answer, they instead started their own event – Slamdance: Anarchy in Utah. 24 years later, Slamdance has become a year-round organization fostering the development of unique and innovative filmmakers. The organization now consists of the Film Festival, Screenplay Competition and Slamdance Studios. Dan Mirvish, Jon Fitzgerald, Shane Kuhn and Peter Baxter are the founding forefathers who, along with co-conspirator Paul Rachman, fought for truly independent filmmakers by giving them a voice in 1995 at the very first Slamdance Film Festival. Since then, the festival takes place every January in the breathtakingly stunning, snow-capped mountains of Park City, Utah at the exact same time as the Sundance Film Festival, toprovide a more authentic representation of independent filmmaking.  Up-and-coming writers, directors and producers, alongside seasoned veterans and film lovers, converge for the weeklong celebration of independent cinema, realizing that Slamdance is a great place to find those next, great, visionary films.  Slamdance lives and bleeds by its mantra By Filmmakers For Filmmakers. No other film festival in the world is entirely run and organized by the creative force that can only be found in filmmakers. Slamdance adamantly supports self-governance amongst independents, and exists to deliver what filmmakers go to festivals for – a chance to show their work and a platform to launch their careers. The festival has earned a solid reputation for premiering films by first-time writers and directors working within the creative confines of limited budgets. Co-founder and President Peter Baxter joins us to talk about this year’s Slamdance, the groundbreaking films and the innovative new distribution being launched by Slamdance.

 

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For news and updates go to: slamdance.com

Check out the film schedule at slamdance 2019 schedule

Slamdance Film Festival will take place January 25-31, 2019 in Park City, Utah

Social Media:

facebook.com/SlamdanceFilmFestival

twitter.com/Slamdance

instagram.com/slamogram

’63 Boycott, Director Gordon Quinn

’63 Boycott is the award-winning film directed by Gordon Quinn, the co-founder of Kartemquin Films, and produced by Rachel Dickson and Tracye A. Matthews. ’63 Boycott revisits October 22, 1963, when more than 250,000 students boycotted the Chicago Public Schools to protest racial segregation. Many marched through the city calling for the resignation of School Superintendent Benjamin Willis, who placed trailers, dubbed ‘Willis Wagons,’ on playgrounds and parking lots of overcrowded black schools rather than let them enroll in nearby white schools. Blending unseen 16mm footage of the march shot by Gordon Quinn when he was just 21 years old with the participants’ reflections today, 63 Boycott connects the forgotten story of one of the largest northern civil rights demonstrations to contemporary issues around race, education, school closings, and youth activism. Director Gordon Quinn joins us for a conversation on his lacerating look at the historic non-violent campaign to win access to educational parity and basic human rights.  ’63 Boycott is an overview of how much Chicago has changed and how much remains the same.

For news and updates go to: kartemquin.com/films/63-boycott

For more about ’63 Boycott and the catalog Kartemquin films

‘63 Boycott

Winner – Best Short Documentary Award at the 2018 Nashville Film Festival

Winner – Audience Award at the 2018 Pan African African Film Festival.

Winner – Best Short Documentary at the Berlin Black International Cinema Exhibition

Winner – Best Short Documentary Roxbury International Film Festival

Winner – Best Short Documentary Adrian International Film Festival

Winner – Best Short Documentary Montreal International Black Film Festival

Winner – Jury Citation Award at the Black Maria Film Festival.

 ** ‘63 Boycott is one of 10 short documentaries to advance as a contender for Best Documentary Short at the 2019 Academy Awards.

The Distant Barking of Dogs, Director Simon Lereng Wilmont and Producer Monica Hellström

THE DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS is set in Eastern Ukraine on the frontline of the war. The film follows the life of 10-year-old Ukrainian boy Oleg throughout a year, witnessing the gradual erosion of his innocence beneath the pressures of war.  Oleg lives with his beloved grandmother, Alexandra, in the small village of Hnutove. Having no other place to go, Oleg and Alexandra stay and watch as others leave the village. Life becomes increasingly difficult with each passing day, and the war offers no end in sight. In this now half-deserted village where Oleg and Alexandra are the only true constants in each other’s lives, the film shows just how fragile, but crucial, close relationships are for survival.  Through Oleg’s perspective, the film examines what it means to grow up in a warzone. It portrays how a child’s universal struggle to discover what the world is about grows interlaced with all the dangers and challenges the war presents. THE DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS unveils the consequences of war bearing down on the children in Eastern Ukraine, and by natural extension, the scars and self- taught life lessons this generation will carry with them into the future. Director Simon Lereng Wilmont and Producer Monica Hellström stop by to talk about this harrowing, intimate and loving look at Oleg and Alexandra’s claustrophobic life on the frontlines of an undeclared war.

 

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For news and updates go to: Distant Barking of Dogs

**Spotlight Award Nominee – Cinema Eye Honors 2019

**Honorable Mention – Pare Lorentz Award – 2018 IDA Awards

**Winner – First Appearance Award – IDFA 2017

**Winner – Best Nordic Documentary – Göteborg Film Festival 2018

**Winner – Golden Gate Award – SFFILM 2018

**Winner – Fipresci Award – Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival 2018

**Winner – Best International Film – DocAviv Film Festival 2018

**Nominee – Best European Documentary – European Film Awards 2018

“Finds beauty and horror on the bleeding edge of war” – The Hollywood Reporter

“Moving and effective” – Screen Daily

“Resembles classic Terence Malick” – Point of View Magazine

“A beautiful, poetic observational documentary” – Cineuropa

“An intimate, stirring portrayal of life during wartime” – Film Pulse

Communion, Director Anna Zamecka

Anna Zamecka’s intimate documentary Communion drops us into a truncated family living amid domestic instability and teenaged volatility, a sister and brother play out their lives on camera. At fourteen, Ola is already functioning as the woman of the house, cooking and cleaning for her lethargic father and helping her energetic autistic brother, Nikodem, prepare for his first Holy Communion. Throughout, she longs for her mother, Magda, whose absence is never explained, yet always deeply felt. As the date of Communion nears, it becomes an opportunity for the family to meet up and Ola is entirely responsible for planning the perfect family celebration. Communion is a portrait of young womanhood and crash course in growing up that teaches us that no failure is final, and that change is possible and needed, especially when love is in question. Anna Zamecka is a Polish film director, screenwriter and producer. She has studied cultural anthropology, journalism and photography in Warsaw and Copenhagen. Her 2016 debut feature film, Communion” received over 40 awards, including the European Film Award for Best European Documentary 2017 and the Critic’s Week Award at Locarno IFF, amongst others. Anna Zamecka joins us for a conversation about gaining the confidence of a struggling family and young woman trying to navigate a family life that threatens to overwhelm her.

For news and updates go to: communion-movie.com

Friday, January 4 | 1:00 PM | AMC Sunset 5
8000 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046
Director Anna Zamecka in-conversation following the screening.
Hosted by LAURA NIX

Friday, January 4 | 3:00 PM | Laemmle Glendale
207 N Maryland Avenue, Glendale, CA 91206
Director Anna Zamecka in-conversation following the screening.
Hosted by ONDI TIMONER and CHUCK BRAVERMAN

Friday, January 4 | 7:30 PM | Laemmle Glendale
207 N Maryland Avenue, Glendale, CA 91206
Director Anna Zamecka in-conversation following the screening.
Hosted by LANA WILSON

Saturday, January 5 | 11:00 AM | Laemmle Monica Film Center
1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401,
Director Anna Zamecka in-conversation following the screening.

“Anna Zamecka’s doc masterpiece Communion took my breath away, brought me to tears, left me contemplating mysteries of family” Joshua Oppenheimer, dir. „The Act of Killing”

“Communion” is a heartbreaking example of a classic documentary genre – the immersive, observational film that takes a bold leap and embeds itself with a small group of people. – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Idelible” – Alissa Wilkinson, VOX

“Transcendent and highly accomplished film!” Filmmaker Magazine

Los Comandos, Co-directors Juliana Schatz-Preston and Joshua Bennett

Violence has overrun El Salvador. El Salvador remains one of the most dangerous non-war zones in the world. Violent turf wars between rival gangs and the government threatens Salvadorans’ day-to-day life. This is highlighted by a continued migration crisis where families, and unaccompanied youth attempt to flee to neighboring countries or the United States, with hopes of a safer future. The emergency medical unit Los Comandos de Salvamento is standing up to the gangs’ reign of terror. Sixteen-year-old Mimi is a dedicated Comando caught in the cross hairs. When her fellow Comando, 14-year-old Erick, is gunned down while serving, she faces pressure to flee El Salvador and head north. Co-directors Juliana Schatz-Preston and Joshua Bennett join us for a conversation on their ripped from today’s headlines project and the importance of putting a human face on the plight of these beleaguered people.

For news and updates go to: loscomandos.film

The Comandos de Salvamento (Los Comandos) provide a potentially life saving alternative for young people who want to avoid being recruited by gangs. Because the group does not discriminate when attending to victims, Los Comandos have earned a certain degree of respect from the gangs. Many of the volunteers find the Comandos base safer than home. Suport Los Comandos

KIND protects unaccompanied children who enter the US immigration system alone to ensure that no child appears in court without an attorney. Ensuring that no child appears in immigration court without high quality legal representation. Support KIND

GLASSWING help young people who remain in El Salvador or return after deportation, life is a daily struggle. Not only do they face extreme violence and poverty, but cycles of massive migration and social upheaval are also exacerbating issues of family disintegration, school dropout, early pregnancy, and limited economic opportunities. Youth face persistent stigma, social exclusion, and exposure to extreme violence and trauma. They lack opportunities to develop the core skills they need to thrive.  Support Glasswing International

• Winner of Best Documentary Short at Austin Film Festival (Oscar® qualifying award)
• Winner of Best Short at Los Angeles Cinefest
• Finalist for CINE Golden Eagle award for Best Documentary Short

Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski, Director Irek Dobrowolski and Co-Producer Stephen Cooper

A Netflix original documentary,  Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski takes us inside the mind of one of the last century’s great characters, offering a startling look at how history can stand in the way of true artistic genius in one generation while stepping aside to reveal it dramatically in the next. In 1968, pop culture collector Glenn Bray, who had an interest in surrealist art, happened upon an unusual book featuring the art of Stanislav Szukalski.  Like most people, Bray had never heard of Szukalski, but he delighted in showing the book of drawings and photos of sculptures to his circle of friends in the underground art comic world, including Robert and Suzanne Williams and George DiCaprio, who found the forgotten Polish master’s vision far ahead of its time. It was a few years later when Bray noticed an unusual poster  depicting Copernicus on the wall of a small bookstore in Tarzana – something he immediately recognized as the work of SzukalskiThe bookseller informed him that the artist himself had given the poster as a gift – in fact, he lived nearby.  Bray couldn’t believe it – this long-forgotten genius was still alive, and in the same area code. Featuring archival footage and dozens of interviews with Szukalski himself,  Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski offers a startling look at how history can stand in the way of artistic genius in one generation while stepping aside to reveal it dramatically in the next. Director Irek Dobrowolski and Producer Stephen Cooper join us to talk about an incredible artist and incredibly complex, nearly forgotten “genius” who remained true to his inner demons.

 

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netflix.com/Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski

Love, Gilda, Director Lisa D’Apolito

Gilda Radner puts a smile on the faces of people who remember watching her as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, where she created and portrayed such now-classic comic characters as Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella and Lisa Loopner. LOVE, GILDA, directed by Lisa D’Apolito, is a true autobiography, told in Gilda’s words and in her own voice. Working with the Radner Estate, D’Apolito unearthed a collection of diaries and personal audio and videotapes documenting her childhood, her comedy career, her relationships and ultimately, her struggle with cancer. This never-before-seen footage and journal entries form the narrative spine of the documentary, allowing Gilda to tell her own story– through the laughter and sometimes the tears. Incredibly, she was able to find humor in even the darkest of times. Gilda’s spirit lives on in comedy as a female trailblazer who continues to inspire many present day comedic performers, including Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Cecily Strong. Also interviewed are SNL original cast members– Chevy Chase, Laraine Newman and Paul Shaffer– as well as, Lorne Michaels (SNL creator and producer), Alan Zweibel (SNL writer), Stephen Schwartz (Broadway composer); Andrew Alexander (CEO of Second City) and long-time friend Martin Short. LOVE, GILDA Director Lisa D’Apolito talks about the unique window her loving film provides into the honest and whimsical world of a beloved performer whose greatest role was sharing her own story.

 

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For news and updates go to: lovegilda.com

LOVE, GILDA will air on CNN:

Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 9pm and 11pm Eastern (Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 6pm and 8pm Pacific)

Saturday, Jan. 5 at 9pm Eastern (Saturday, Jan. 5 at 6pm Pacific)

Sunday, Jan. 6 at 12am Eastern (Saturday, Jan. 5 at 9pm Pacific)

And available for playback via CNN on Demand.

Social Media:

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“A splendid tribute to one of America’s comedy legends.” – J.R. Kinnard, Film Inquiry

“We come away with the portrait of someone who was never just going along for the ride, but who was always questioning and challenging herself, working toward professional excellence and hoping for an ideal romance.” – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

“‘Laughter – that’s what hugs me and holds me,’ she confides on those muddy cassettes. So does the warm, tender embrace of “Love, Gilda.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times

“All the laughs-as well as the tears-in the too-brief but shining life of a true comic genius are present and accounted for in this essential, intensely moving doc.” – David Noh, Film Journal International

My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes, Director Charlie Tyrell

In the endlessly clever and bittersweet documentary My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes filmmaker Charlie Tyrell Seeks to better understand his emotionally distant late-father through personal belongings he left behind… including a stack of his VHS dirty movies. Director / producer Charlie Tyrell joins us for an engaging conversation on the universality of inter-generational silence and obfuscation surrounding the backgrounds and traumas that shaped the lives of parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. And how this wall of that silence can lead to unwarranted alienation and resentment between fathers and sons.

 

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For news and updates go to: mydeaddadspornotapes.com

Social media

facebook.com/mddptfilm

twitter.com/mddptfilm

mddptfilm@gmail.com

Drug$, Director Jonathan Marshall Thompson

Narrated by Academy Award® Winner J.K. Simmons, “DRUG$” is a feature-length documentary about the soaring price of medicines in the U.S., featuring interviews with academics, patients, advocates and political leaders, including Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Elijah Cummings. With prices as high as $1,000 per pill, many patients are now forced to choose between putting food on the table or purchasing medicine, while pharma companies pocket billions of dollars in profits. “DRUG$” breaks down the intricacies of the drug pricing system by incorporating interviews with patients, prominent policymakers and employees of major pharmaceutical and insurance companies, as well as highly respected doctors, scientists and economists. Due to misguided legislation, there are more stringent laws protecting drug patents than human lives. Drug companies use patents to perpetuate monopolies by making slight changes to existing drugs, a practice known as “evergreening,” which prevents competition and blocks the production of affordable generic drugs, ensuring perpetual price hikes on decades-old medicines. In a titanic struggle against corporate greed, see how a diverse group of concerned Americans is fighting back to keep lifesaving medicines affordable for us all. Director Jonathan Marshall Thompson stops by to talk about the scandalous and inhumane business practices by many of the most profitable businesses in the world, often at the expense of dying people in desperate need of live-saving medications that literally cost pennies on an avariciously profitable dollar to produce.

 

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For news and updates go to: drugsthefilm.com

DRUG$ is now streaming on Amazon and You Tube

TAKE ACTION:

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 Tell them: Drug companies are price gouging patients and putting lives at risk. I am contacting you to request that you support the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act by voting for H.R. 6505.

 Support legislation: For more information on H.R. 6505, visit: CONGRESS.GOV/BILL/115TH-CONGRESS/HOUSE-BILL/6505

“Drug$ is no less enraging for its story’s familiarity.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

“A blistering takedown of a venal healthcare system that prizes corporate profit over saving lives.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

Lifeboat, Director Skye Fitzgerald

In a political environment increasingly hostile to immigrants and refugees, documenting the real-life plight of those fleeing war and oppression is more vital and important than ever. The short form documentary film LIFEBOAT bears witness to refugees desperate enough to risk their lives in rubber boats leaving Libya in the middle of the night, despite a high probability of drowning. With few resources but certain that civil society must intervene, volunteers from a German non-profit risk the waves of the Mediterranean to pluck refugees from sinking rafts.  In a real-life context with dire consequences, LIFEBOAT puts a human face on one of the world’s greatest contemporary, global crises and provides a spark of hope surrounding how civil society can intervene in the refugee crisis in a meaningful way. Director Skye Fitzgerald joins us for a conversation on the extremely dangerous and inhospitable world awaiting most of the desperate people fleeing for their lives across the vast expanse of the Mediterranean Sea.

For news and updates go to: lifeboatdocumentary.com

LIFEBOAT nominated as BEST SHORT of 2018 by International Documentary Association

LIFEBOAT wins BEST SHORT at world premiere at Mountainfilm in Telluride!

LIFEBOAT WINS Best Short Doc at Woodstock Intl. Film Festival

LIFEBOAT WINS Special Jury Award at BendFilm!

LIFEBOAT honored with JURY AWARD at Traverse City Film Festival

LIFEBOAT wins social justice ACT NOW award at Crested Butte Film Festival

LIFEBOAT WINS at Dublin International Shorts Film Festival

Islam and the Future of Tolerance, Co-director Jay Shapiro (Desh Amila)

The riveting and illuminating documentary, Islam and the Future of Tolerance follows prominent atheist philosopher Sam Harris and Islamist-turned-liberal-Muslim Maajid Nawaz, after publicly clashing in a debate over the concept of Islamic reform in the Muslim world. The two men reconnect several years later in an attempt at civil and honest dialogue. Sam and Maajid attempt to explore their real or imagined divides by clearly and rationally dissecting their disagreements. Through the course of their discussions, they tackle troubling passages from the Quran, the importance of the precision of language and terms (such as “Jihadism,” “Islamists,” and “radical,”) and the difficulty in finding helpful and honest responses in a fraught political terrain. Ultimately, this unlikely collaboration sheds light on the many confusions that afflict the public conversation about Islam and emphasizes how the virtues of open dialogue can help foster both understanding and tolerance in an increasingly polarized world.

 

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Sam Harris entered life as a public intellectual after 9/11 and soon found himself regarded as a leading voice of the “New Atheist” movement, along with Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett. He spent much of the next decade writing books such as The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation,and The Moral Landscape and publicly engaging religious scholars and apologists in highly contentious conversations.

Maajid Nawaz was arrested and thrown into an Egyptian prison, where he spent four years  before beginning his slow journey out of radical Islamism. By the time he emerged, he had decided to dedicate his life’s work to reforming Islam from within. He started Quilliam, a counter-extremism organization.

Islam and the Future of Tolerance tells the story of an unlikely conversation on a topic of grave importance, and how it changed two foes into friends. Director Jay Shapiro joins us to talk about his engaging and enlightening documentary.

For news and updates go to: islamandthefutureoftolerance.com

Watch the debate featuring Maajid Nawaz on the Australian Public Affairs program: Think Ink

“For these reasons and more, the film serves as a rewarding introductory course to the school of thought that Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz are a part of.” – Hunter Lanier, Film Threat

“Anyone can wrangle a group of talking heads in front of a camera or audience to bloviate on the merits of religious belief, but Avila and Shapiro’s purposes are more urgent and pressing.” – Nathanael Hood, The Young Folks

“A talkative film in which the very act of talking about this subject is a first tiny victory.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

“Nevertheless, in a society that’s always demanding that minorities do the hard work of explaining themselves, only to deny them the chance to do so, this is a bold attempt to do things differently.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

Out in the Ring, Director Ryan Bruce Levey (Crowdfunding Campaign)

OUT IN THE RING looks at the lives of LGBTQ professional wrestlers past and present, and the history of LGBTQ representation in professional wrestling, told through a combination of archival footage and interviews with out performers, wrestling journalists & historians, friends and allies. The crowdfunding campaign at GoGetFunding will help support the post production of the film including editing, color correction, sound mixing, score and legal expenses. The campaign includes perks and producer credit opportunities, and from wrestler Eat and Greets, special one of a kind memorabilia, wrestling \tickets and much more! People will be delighted by the incredibly talented performers and experts who speak about this topic and showcase their amazing in ring skills. Alongside this is the incredibly important issues around LGBTQ representation, visibility, freedom and change. Director Ryan Bruce Levey stops by to talk about the history of pro wrestling and LGBTQ performers and promoters as well as the steep challenging finding money to finish a documentary project.

 

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To help with post production costs go to: gogetfunding.com/out-in-the-ring

facebook.com/OutInTheRing

Springsteen on Broadway, Director Tommy Zimny

SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY is a solo acoustic performance written and performed by Tony Award, Academy Award, and 20-time Grammy Award winner Bruce Springsteen. Based on his worldwide best-selling autobiography Born to Run and nothing short of the theater event of the year, SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY is a unique evening with Bruce, his guitar, a piano, and own stories—including a special appearance by Patti Scialfa. The intimate performance features personal anecdotes and songs including “Born to Run,” “Thunder Road” and “Brilliant Disguise.” SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY was filmed live for Netflix at Jujamcyn’s Walter Kerr Theatre and directed and produced by Emmy Award-winner Thom Zimny (“Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Live in New York City (2001)”). In addition to Zimny, the Netflix original special is produced by the same team that produced “Springsteen On Broadway,” including Springsteen manager Jon Landau, Springsteen tour director George Travis, and Landau Management partner Barbara Carr. Director Thom Zimny joins us for a conversation on his working relationship with one of the singular musical artist in recording history and the challenge of capturing the intimacy of a live, Broadway experience.

 

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Springsteen on Broadway on netflix.com

Social Media

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Facebook/brucespringsteen

“Springsteen has mastered the dynamics needed to keep a mostly talking, partly singing show riveting for a running time that’s epic by monologists’ standards, if not his own.” – Chris Willman, Variety

“For nearly three hours, Springsteen jokes, rails, wails, and yes, plays his heart out, providing an achingly raw, often disarmingly honest breakdown of his life.” – Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm

“Not only does “Springsteen on Broadway” work on its own as a Netflix special, it gives you all the same feels seeing the show live at the Walter Kerr Theater brought out.” – Joey Madison, AwarsCircuit.com

Avicii: True Stories, Director Levan Tsikurishvili

AVICII: TRUE STORIES, a compelling new documentary film by Levan Tsikurishvili, reveals the unvarnished truth behind the success of Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and artist Avicii (A.K.A. Tim Bergling). One of the world’s highest grossing live music artists whose seemingly sudden decision last year to quit doing live shows came as a complete shock to his fans and the industry. The film traces the artist/DJ’s life from his beginnings, all the way to the joy of his success, from his chart-topping global radio hits and subsequent struggles with his physical and mental health. Tsikurishvili followed Bergling for over four years, and captured fly-on-the-wall footage of his experiences and thinking. Featuring appearances by colleagues such as Chris Martin, Nile Rodgers, David Guetta, Tiësto and Wyclef Jean, AVICII: TRUE STORIES is a cautionary tale that explores the taxing nature and intensity of fame from the artist’s point of view as much as it is a film for Avicii’s die-hard fans.

I wanted to do a brutally honest film about Tim as a person and not only about Avicii. Everybody knows Avicii but very few people know Tim. I think this documentary really shows Tim’s struggle and strength of character. Being a worldwide superstar artist is not as easy as it looks on Instagram. – Director Levan Tsikurishvili

 

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For news and updates go to: aviciitruestories.com

“Compelling and Cautionary Tale” – Variety

“Insight into the life of a special young artist” – Cine Magazine

“Truthful, thought provoking…compelling documentary – 5 stars” – one EDM

“An unusually sincere documentary that – unlike AMY – ends with a personal triumph.” – Alfred Bos, IndieBioscoo

Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes, Director Alexis Bloom

Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes deftly fuses the personal, the political and the just plain surreal as it charts the origin, rise and downfall of Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. Variously called a bulldog, a kingmaker, and the Ernest Hemingway of campaign advisors, Ailes was the wizard of Oz. But he collected talent like dolls, and became consumed by paranoia about his own personal security. The son of a factory foreman, Ailes had a hand in political campaigns in almost every state in the country. He was a key advisor over the last half century to presidents Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush. When President Obama called him “the most powerful man in media” he basked in the glow, and posed smiling alongside the Democratic president he had done everything to undermine. Ailes fashioned Fox News into a ratings powerhouse, with more viewers than all its direct competitors, combined. But he was forced out by the Murdoch family in 2016, amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment. How did a tap-dancing hemophiliac become one of the most powerful and divisive executives in American media? Director and producer Alexis Bloom (Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds) stops by to talk about one of America’s seminal figures and how he has shaped the destiny of the Republican Party and the future of American democracy.

 

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For news and updates go to: divideandconquerfilm.com

85% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Ultimately, “Divide and Conquer” offers useful lessons – and maybe even a little hope – for people on both sides of the national divide, about just how we came to this terrible, but not irreversible, place.” – Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post

“Alexis Bloom’s keenly insightful and deeply depressing documentary is probably best viewed not as a record of the past but a document of what’s to come.” – Chris Barsanti, Slant Magazine

“A well-made documentary that leaves you with the imprint of Roger Ailes’ domineering arrogance, and the way he used it to shape American political reality and, finally, the world.” – Owen

Bob Lazar, Area 51 and Flying Saucers, Director Jeremy Corbell

In the highly entertaining and jarring documentary BOB LAZAR: AREA 51 AND FLYING SAUCERS the curtain is pulled back on Area 51, flying saucers from another world – and the program to create a fierce, new technology that could easily change everything about the world we think we know. Bob Lazar remains the singular most famous and controversial name in the world of UFOs. The reason you know about Area 51 is because Lazar came forward and told you about it. His disclosures have turned his life upside-down and he has tried to stay out of the spotlight. For this reason, he has never let any filmmaker into the private world of his daily life – that is – until now. BOB LAZAR: AREA 51 AND FLYING SAUCERS explores Lazar’s claims through the lens of thirty years – providing rare and never before revealed footage – guaranteed to alter the landscape of the debate. Director Jeremy Corbell joins us to talk about the fantastical and yet credible story of a seemingly honest and sincere messenger telling the world that we are not alone.

 

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For news and updates go to: TheLazarStory.com

United We Fan, Director Michael Sparaga

Fans, stars, creators and more come together to explore the history and evolution of TV’s save-our-show fan campaigns in Michael Sparaga’s (The Missing Ingredient) humorous and heartfelt feature documentary UNITED WE FAN. From the letter-writing and product mail-ins of yesterday to the social media and crowdfunding campaigns of today, UNITED WE FAN goes beyond the headlines to give viewers deeper insights into fandom, community and identity. For most viewers, it’s simply a disappointment when their favorite TV series is cancelled. But the fans of some series take the loss a lot harder. And they fight back. UNITED WE FAN chronicles the stories of those passionate individuals and their unique crusades to save their beloved shows. Declared “a joy to watch” by POV Magazine, UNITED WE FAN intertwines the remarkable stories of Kaily, Dorothy and the Trimbles while also taking time to delve into the inspiring campaigns to save Designing Women, Quantum Leap, Chuck, Longmire, Jericho, Veronica Mars, Roswell and the Rosetta Stone of rescued TV series Star Trek. “UNITED WE FAN is not a movie about television’s wackiest fans,” said director Michael Sparaga, “rather, it’s a love letter to the inspiring people who have formed communities and fought tirelessly against seemingly impossible odds to give viewers everywhere more seasons of some of television’s most iconic shows.” Director / Writer / Producer Michael Sparaga joins us to talk about the men and women whose embrace and affection for specific television series goes way beyond passive entertainment into the realm of a life affirming connections to the creators, performers and characters who have enriched their lives via episodic storytelling.

 

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Social Media

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twitter.com/unitedwefandoc

instagram.com/unitedwefandoc

UNITED WE FAN is available on multiple VOD platforms beginning December 4

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A cheery collage of anecdotes about how popular culture brings people together and inspires them to fight for the things they love.” – Norman Wilner, Toronto Now

“It’s a fun film to watch, but also one that makes us question how far we’re all willing to go to save our favourite series from extinction, and where the future of such fan campaigns might be going from here.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate

“United We Fan is a brisk, enjoyable look at the way TV fan culture has evolved since the days when Star Trek first flirted with cancellation.” – Jesse Schedeen, IGN Movies

“What United We Fan does very well is that the documentary offers a blueprint for the many television fans wanting to save their favorite series.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

Life Underground, Director Hervé Cohen

LIFE UNDERGROUND is a groundbreaking trans-media project that invites visitors on a journey through the subways of the world and into the personal stories of their passengers. Its main component is an interactive web documentary. LIFE UNDERGROUND has also become an immersive multimedia installation for museums and public spaces (including subway stations) featuring the same content but on large screens with a multi-track soundscape. Shot in over 17 cities, across 4 continents, in over 11 languages, by director Hervé Cohen this interactive web documentary and immersive media installation takes viewers on a journey into the subways of the world through the personal stories of passengers. Hervé Cohen is an award-winning filmmaker and cinematographer and has traveled the world to capture compelling stories for international productions. He has also shot two feature narratives, in San Francisco and in Haiti (the 2017 Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film, AYITI MON AMOUR). LIFE UNDERGROUND is nominated for Best Short Form Series by the International Documentary Association. Director Hervé Cohen joins us to talk about his enlightening and humanizing look at a world where people have much more in common than not.

 

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To watch the film go to: life-underground.com

Social Media

facebook.com/lifeundergroundproject

instagram.com/lifeunderground2018

twitter.com/lifeunderdoc