Provocative, funny, intelligent and fiercely political, audiences had better be ready to dive in for the new documentary feature MR. FISH: CARTOONING FROM THE DEEP END. Directed by Pablo Bryant, will have its NYC Premiere at the DOC NYC 2017. In this documentary we discover the dangerously funny cartoonist Mr. Fish, struggling to make a living in an industry that is dying out. In a world where consumerism is king, and opportunities are few, will this uncensored artist find a way to sell his art, or be forced to sell himself out?After a rousing, standing ovation laden World premiere, comes word that director Pablo Bryant’s MR. FISH: CARTOONING FROM THE DEEP END has won the 2017 Hiscox Audience Award for Best documentary at at the Austin Film Festival. Director Pablo Bryant joins us for a lively conversation on free speech, our political culture, and the artistic sensibilities of today’s most scathing and insightful political satirist.
WHAT HAUNTS UStells the real story behind the town that remained silent but the outcome was that of suicide by the victims. This film is a cautionary tale for parents and their children and a horrifying example of what happens when one stays quiet about sexual abuse/molestation. WHAT HAUNTS US tells the story about the 1997 class of Porter Gaud High School in Charleston, South Carolina that graduated 49 boys. Within the last 35 years, six of these boys committed suicide. Filmmaker Tolmach graduated from Porter Gaud, and now she digs deep with this film in discovering the dark secrets that have lingered and haunted this community that she so loves. The six boys that committed suicide featured in the film didn’t have to die if they would have spoken out and not remained quiet about what had happened to them. However, the shame associated with this nightmare often weighs more on the victims – only to keep them silent. WHAT HAUNTS US is not a new story, but it is the continuing common tale of sexual abuse, molestation, shame and a community’s silence so that “no one rocks the boat” rings all too true to this day. Until, we as concerned people speak up, these crimes against innocent victims will continue. Director Paige Goldberg Tolmach joins us to talk about an all to familiar tale that haunts the lives of former students of a prestiges prep school.
A documentary as dramatic, ambiguous, and multilayered as any fiction film, A RIVER BELOW examines the efforts of two conservationists in the Amazon to bring about change by using the national media, only to discover the consequences of their actions come with a high price. A RIVER BELOW provides an eye-opening look at what happens when passion and opinion trump reason and morality. The crux of the story questions the truth in images, its manipulation to get the public’s attention and, ultimately, who pays the price for someone else’s passion for radical change.
Director Statement – “A RIVER BELOWexplores these ideas and moral questions, but ultimately it is the story about the massacre of this incredible dolphin, the people out there trying to save them, and the ethical dilemmas we face with what must be done to achieve sudden change. There is no doubt that we are living in an extinction crisis and there is very little time left to save certain species – that is the view of the river from above. My hope is that this film will take audiences on the plunge to ask, “Who do we want out there saving in our name and at what long-term cost?” It is a mirror held up to the documentary and a journey into ourselves as we attempt to better this messy world.” – Mark Grieco
“The truth turns into a tangled mess in “A River Below,” a bold and urgent documentary whose seemingly straightforward story quickly runs awry.” – Ken Jaworowski
“Díaz’s sublime cinematography and the way Grieco teases out the knotty narrative make for a haunting exploration of an ethical morass, where vilification is easy, but deconstructing power much more difficult.” – Daphne Howland, Village Voice
“[It] is pure investigative journalism. It trusts no one and questions every side of the story — even the possible coercion of illegal activities by one of its stars while those he coerced have threatened to shoot him in the head if he ever turns up again” – Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine
“The film’s moral argument sets it apart from films like Blackfish – this is more or less an investigation into an investigation.” John Fink, The Film Stage
The riveting documentary THE WORK, set inside a single room in Folsom Prison, follows three men from outside as they participate in a four-day group therapy retreat with level-four convicts. Over the four days, each man in the room takes his turn at delving deep into his past. The raw and revealing process that the incarcerated men undertake exceeds the expectations of the free men, ripping them out of their comfort zones and forcing them to see themselves and the prisoners in unexpected ways. THE WORK offers a powerful and rare look past the cinder block walls, steel doors and the dehumanizing tropes in our culture to reveal a movement of change and redemption that transcends what we think of as rehabilitation. Director Jairus McLeary joins us to talk about the men, inmates and outsiders, the program and the challenges of making a film about men seeking to reclaim their lives.
Starting October 27 The Work opens at the Laemmle Monica Center in Los Angeles / Santa Monica
“A simple, tense, gritty auditing of a collective unburdening that obviously brings some needed clarity, and the promise of rehabilitation, to some hurt, searching souls.” – Robert Abele, TheWrap
In its visceral purity, the film drags male toxicity up into the light, offering it as a cure for itself. – Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine
The Work makes gruelling viewing at times – it’s more like psychotherapy than entertainment – but, by the end, viewers will feel as if they’ve been on the same rewarding journey as the subjects. – Geoffrey McNab, Independent (UK)
“The Work chronicles a kind of breakneck psychoanalysis in which the origins of problematic behavior are dramatically expunged in public.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire
“No filmmaker could have written a richer set of masculine archetypes as these real individuals represent, each equally totemic in his defining idiosyncrasies and in his historically male characteristics.” – Sean L. Malin, Austin Chronicle
Across more than 50 years of essays, novels, screenplays, and criticism, Joan Didion has been our premier chronicler of the ebb and flow of America’s cultural and political tides with observations on her personal – and our own – upheavals, downturns, life changes, and states of mind. In the intimate, extraordinary documentary JOAN DIDION: THE CENTER WILL NOT HOLD, actor and directorGriffin Dunne unearths a treasure trove of archival footage and talks at length to his “Aunt Joan” about the eras she covered and the eventful life she’s lived, including partying with Janis Joplin in a house full of L.A. rockers; hanging in a recording studio with Jim Morrison; and cooking dinner for one of Charles Manson’s women for a magazine story. Didion guides us through the sleek literati scene of New York in the 1950s and early ’60s, when she wrote for Vogue; her return to her home state of California for two turbulent decades; the writing of her seminal books, including Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Play It as It Lays, A Book of Common Prayer, and The White Album; her film scripts, including The Panic in Needle Park; her view of 1980s and ’90s political personalities; and the meeting of minds that was her long marriage to writer John Gregory Dunne. She reflects on writing about her reckoning with grief after Dunne’s death, in The Year of Magical Thinking (winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction), and the death of their daughter Quintana Roo, in Blue Nights. With commentary from friends and collaborators including Vanessa Redgrave, Harrison Ford, Anna Wintour, David Hare, Calvin Trillin, Hilton Als, and Susanna Moore, the most crucial voice belongs to Didion, one of the most influential American writers alive today. Director Griffin Dunne (American Werewolf in London, After Hours) joins us for a conversation on “Aunt Joan” and her fiercely personal body of remarkable body of fiction and non-fiction.
“Access is almost everything for a documentary filmmaker, and the entree Griffin Dunne had to his celebrated subject makes all the difference in “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“A documentary that’s incisive and haunting, like Didion’s best writing.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“This is an intensive appreciation of perhaps the greatest living American essayist, and one of the best ever. It plays like a finely tuned authorized biography.” – Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News
International Documentary Association (IDA) is fiercely committed to protecting and defending the rights of documentary filmmakers to practice their craft, seek and reveal truth in their films, and make and sell their work freely in a fair marketplace. We strenuously uphold the principles of free speech and believe that documentary films, however provocative they may be, should never be silenced by an authority, corporation or legal system that may feel threatened by their content. Where filmmakers are under fire, and their predicament stands to set precedent for us all, the IDA brings together the weight of our community to fight for their rights in the courts, the press, congress or wherever that threat may lie. IDA is the only group advocating specifically for the documentary filmmaking community. In many ways, this makes IDA’s advocacy work the most important and relevant work we do. If documentary films better inform your world, if you believe in freedom of speech, if you are concerned that the media space grows ever smaller and cherish the diversity that independent voices bring, and if you’re a fan of David (over Goliath) then you probably share our values. Documentary storytelling expands our understanding of shared human experience, fostering an informed, compassionate, and connected world. The International Documentary Association (IDA) is dedicated to building and serving the needs of a thriving documentary culture. Through its programs, the IDA provides resources, creates community, and defends rights and freedoms for documentary artists, activists, and journalists. Executive Director Simon Kilmurry joins us to talk about IDA, the screening series currently underway and the state of documentary filmmaking in 2017.
In their new documentary ONE OF US, acclaimed observational filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (JESUS CAMP, DETROPIA) take a deep and moving look at the lives of three individuals who have chosen to leave the hugely insular world of Hasidic Judaism. The film follows Etty, a mother of seven, as she decides to leave a violent marriage and divorce her husband; Ari, a teenager on the verge of manhood who is struggling with addiction and the effects of childhood abuse; and Luzer, an actor who, despite having found success in the secular world, still wrestles with his decision eight years earlier to leave the Hasidic community. Produced over three years, ONE OF US offers unique and intimate access to the lives of all three as they deal not only with questions of their beliefs but also with the consequences of leaving the only community they have ever known. With their trademark sensitivity and keen interest in the nature of faith, Ewing and Grady chronicle these journeys towards personal freedom that comes at a very high cost. Co-directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady join us for a conversation on their emotionally wrenching look into a world of dogmatism, ostracism and community.
Directors’ Statement – We have always been drawn to stories that put the nature/nurture debate into stark relief. Are some of us just born with an unshakable need to question the status quo, despite the consequences? The three main subjects of One of Us are jumping head first into the unknown. Their rocky journey from insular Hasidic Brooklyn out into the secular world – with its emphasis on radical individualism – is fraught with both doubt and exhilaration. These three brave people are bucking the exacting rules of their ultra-orthodox community to experience the world for the first time as true individuals. Their journey is a profoundly human one that took us by surprise. One of Us is the most thought-provoking film we’ve ever made. We are excited to hear audiences weigh in on the vexing question of what price we’re all willing to pay to forge our own identity.
“It’s incisive in its condemnation of the oppression innate in the social structure of Brooklyn’s Hasidic communities.” – Christopher Gray, Slant Magazine
“Employing intimate, evocative aesthetics to amplify their material’s heart-wrenching power, the filmmakers craft a harrowing portrait of trauma, bravery and insular societal oppression.” – Nick Schager, Variety
“Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady have made their most powerful and complex film.” – Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
THE DEPARTURE, Lana Wilson’s (After Tiller) poetic and deeply moving look at a former punk-turned-Buddhist priest in Japan who has made a career out of helping suicidal people find reasons to live. One of the discoveries of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and featured at some of the world’s top documentary festivals, THE DEPARTURE follows a 44-year-old Tokyo native, Ittetsu Nemoto loves riding his motorcycle and dancing all night in clubs. But he’s also a Rinzai Zen priest, who lives with his wife, mother and baby son at a temple in the remote countryside of Gifu prefecture, Japan. There, over the last ten years, he has become famous for his work in combating suicide. But this work has come increasingly at the cost of his own family and health, as he refuses to draw lines between the people he counsels and himself. With astonishing access and artistry, Wilson’s camera captures Nemoto at a crossroads, when his growing self-destructive tendencies lead him to confront the same question his patients ask him: what makes life worth living? Director Lana Wilson (After Tiller) joins us for a conversation about death, love, priorities and family.
The Departure opens in Los Angeles at Laemmle’s Monica Film Center on Friday, October 20 with other cities to follow.
“A beautiful, wise, and deeply empathetic immersion into one fascinating character’s unique approach to suicide prevention. A quietly impressive work whose images, characters, and ruminations linger on long after the lights come up.” – Scott Macaulay, Filmmaker Magazine
“An intimate, deeply felt engagement with profound matters of life and death.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
“Immensely moving. Lyrical and deeply meditative… digs deep into major questions without being afraid of the answers.” – Kate Erbland, Indiewire
DINA, an outspoken and eccentric 49-year-old in suburban Philadelphia, invites her fiancé Scott, a Walmart door greeter, to move in with her. Having grown up neurologically diverse in a world blind to the value of their experience, the two are head-over-heels for one another, but shacking up poses a new challenge. Getting married in a few weeks and there’s still so much to do. She has to move her boyfriend, Scott, from his parents’ house to her apartment, and settle him in to only the second home he’s ever had, all while juggling his schedule as an early morning Walmart door greeter. She has to get her dress, confirm arrangements with the venue, and make peace with her family, who remain nervous for their beloved DINA, after the death of her first husband and the string of troubled relationships that followed. Throughout it all, in the face of obstacles large and small, DINA, remains indomitable. She’s overcome tragedy and found the man she wants and is bent on building the life for herself that she believes she deserves. DINA captures the cadences and candid conversations of a relationship that reexamines the notion of love on-screen.DINA is unstoppable, a force of nature, and as the star of her own life story, she’s an unconventional movie protagonist the likes of which hasn’t been seen before. Co-directors Antonio Santini and Dan Sickle join us to talk about their empathetic, moving and enveloping documentary.
**Winner – Grand Jury Prize – US Documentary – 2017 Sundance Film Festival
“DINA comes from a deep place of love…Alternately comic and tragic and best when its both at once, DINA humanizes a world of people who were only dehumanized because we allowed them to be… Whereas most docs about ‘different’ people are content to flatter our empathy, DINA aims to deepen it.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“We come to understand that the camera’s distance from its subjects as an act of respect that allows the complex, funny, and indomitable personalities to shine through.” – Christopher Gray, Slant Magazine
“A sensitive snapshot of two ordinary people on the autism spectrum who are determined to carve out a meaningful future together.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
“The rapport between the filmmakers and their principal characters is so comfortable, it occasionally feels as if we are watching a scripted film.” – Peter DeBruge, Variety
Jennifer Brea is a Harvard PhD student soon to be engaged to the love of her life when she’s struck down by a mysterious fever that leaves her bedridden. She becomes progressively more ill, eventually losing the ability even to sit in a wheelchair, but doctors tell her it’s “all in her head.” Unable to convey the seriousness and depth of her symptoms to her doctor, Jennifer begins a video diary on her iPhone that eventually becomes the feature documentary film Unrest.Once Jennifer is diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), commonly called chronic fatigue syndrome, she and her new husband, Omar, are left to grapple with how to live in the face of a lifelong illness. Refusing to accept the limitations of bedbound life, Jennifer goes on an inspiring virtual voyage around the world where she finds a hidden community of millions confined to their homes and bedrooms by ME. These patients use the internet, Skype and Facebook to connect to each other — and to offer support and understanding. Many ME patients have experienced uncertainty, confusion and even disbelief from the medical community and society as a whole. After all, it’s easy to ignore a disease when patients are too sick to leave their homes. In Unrest, Jennifer shares her pain and the most intimate moments of her life in order to offer hope and visibility to those who suffer alone in dark, silent rooms. Though Jennifer and Omar may have to accept that they will never live the life they originally dreamed about, together they find resilience, strength, and meaning in their community and each other. Director, subject and activist Jennifer Brea joins us to talk about her journey, illness and her determination to make things better for people living with ME.
“The movie delivers a striking degree of emotional authenticity with its home footage, allowing it to become more about its central couple’s resilience than the hardships that tests their bond.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire
“It powerfully insists on giving a voice to victims whose greatest challenge, apart from their symptoms, is surmounting a world of indifference.” – Daniel M. Gold, New York Times
“It’s a film that’s remarkably intimate, deeply edifying and a stirring call to action.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“Brea shot much of the film on her iPhone, which often gives it the tone of a found-footage horror film. Making it all the more horrifying is the fact that not only is it real, but it’s while Brea is unable to stand up or often even move beyond crawling.” – SF Weekly
When Chinese filmmaker Nanfu Wang (Hooligan Sparrow) first came to America, Florida seemed like an exotic frontier full of theme parks, prehistoric swamp creatures, and sunburned denizens. As she travels wide-eyed from one city to another, she eventually encounters a charismatic young drifter named Dylan. Fascinated by his rejection of society’s rules and unsure of his past, Nanfu follows Dylan with her camera on a journey that spans years, takes her across America, and explores the meaning of freedom. But as Nanfu delves deeper into Dylan’s world, she discovers something that calls her entire worldview into question. Director, Producer, Cinematographer & Editor Nanfu Wang is an award-winning filmmaker based in New York City. Her feature debut Hooligan Sparrow was shortlisted for the 2017 Academy Award for best documentary feature. Since its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2016, Hooligan Sparrow has screened at more than 100 festivals in over 25 countries including Hot Docs, Sheffield, Full Frame, and Human Rights Watch Film Fest. It opened theatrically across North America and was later released on POV, Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes. It has won over twenty awards internationally including a Cinema Eye Honor for the Best Debut Film, the George Polk Award for the journalistic achievement, and the Truer than Fiction Award at the Independent Spirit Awards. Wang was honored by the International Documentary Association with the 2016 Emerging Filmmaker Award. Director Nanfu Wang joins us to talk about Dylan, freedom, travel and her own experience on the streets.
Who is the man behind the most highly controversial, intensely debated topics in modern medicine? In THE PATHOLOGICAL OPTIMIST, director Miranda Bailey brings us a character study of Dr. Andrew Wakefield, one of 13 co-authors of a notorious 1998 paper in the UK medical Journal The Lancet, but who became the very public face of what has come to be known as “The Anti-Vax Movement.” An expat from Britain who currently resides in Austin, Texas, Wakefield allowed Bailey and her team to follow him and his family for five years beginning in 2011 as he fought a defamation battle in the courts against the British Medical Journal and journalist Brian Deer. The results of that case – and the self-reflection, pronouncements, and observations of Wakefield, his legal team, wife, and his children – create a complex and incisive look at one of our era’s most fear-provoking and continuously provocative figures. THE PATHOLOGICAL OPTIMIST takes no sides, instead letting Wakefield and the battles he fought speak for themselves. Director Miranda Bailey joins us to talk about her riveting portrait of a man driven to prove his detractors wrong.
Director’s statement: “I gravitate towards provocative and discussion-making material for most of my films. When I began this journey in 2010, Andrew Wakefield was much less known in the United States than he is now. But those who did know him seemed to have very strong feelings either for or against him. I was curious as to who he was and how he could stand up to such rejection from his peers and such scrutiny in the media regarding his part in the MMR Scandal. As the style of my film evolved, I decided it was not my place to defend Andrew Wakefield, nor was it to condemn him. My interest lies in observance. I asked questions and observed. It is up to the audience to decide what they see. ”
The Laemmle Monica Film Center – After the 7:20 pm showings with director Miranda Bailey & Dr. Andrew Wakefield
October 8 –The Laemmle Monica Film Center
After the 2:20 pm showing with director Miranda Bailey & Dr. Andrew Wakefield
“Regardless of where you stand on the vaccination issue, it’s possible to relish Miranda Bailey’s highly informative, anger-arousing film, and to feel it’s promoting your own views.” – Lisa Jo Sagolia. Film Journal International
“The controversy over vaccinations will rage on and this cinematic portrait will merely be a footnote. But it proves a compelling one, however you may feel about the burning issue.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
The 1990’s were the “Golden Age” of the Orange County California music scene. Bands like The Offspring, No Doubt, Sugar Ray and Social Distortion where blowing up the mainstream and selling millions of records around the world. Meanwhile, the undisputed kings of the O.C. scene, The Cadillac Tramps, were falling apart. Infighting, addiction, frustration and dysfunction would tear the band apart at the peak of their success, but their bond would prove too strong to remain broken for long.THE CADILLAC TRAMPS: LIFE ON THE EDGE is a humble, honest and entertaining look at five young men who found each other in sobriety, created a lasting musical legacy that influenced indie rock’s biggest bands, and overcame the past to support lead singer Michael “Gabby” Gaborno as he fights for his life from the ravages of Hep-C.First time filmmaker, Jamie Sims Coakley,expertly mixes a colorful combination of archival footage, insightful artist interviews and intimate vérité footage together into an arresting, heartwarming and cautionary tale of brotherhood, reflection and the power of music to heal and unite us. Director Jamie Sims Coakley joins usto talk about the music, the what ifs, and the bond that has been their musical journey.
MOTHERLAND takes us into the heart of the planet’s busiest maternity hospital in one of the world’s poorest and most populous countries: the Philippines. The film’s viewer, like an unseen outsider dropped unobtrusively into the hospital’s stream of activity, passes through hallways, enters rooms and listens in on conversations. At first, the surrounding people are strangers, but as the film continues, it’s absorbingly intimate, rendering the women at the heart of the story increasingly familiar. In a hospital that is literally bursting with life, we witness the miracle and wonder of the human condition. Diaz, a veteran documentarian began filming in the search of a story on reproductive justice, visited the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila, Philippines. As the busiest maternity ward in the world, it averages 60 births a day—and at its peak, as many as 100 babies within a 24-hour period. Fabella Hospital is the final safety net for very poor pregnant women, most of whom cannot afford either contraception or the $60 delivery fee. Immersing the viewer with a fly on the wall cinema verité approach,” MOTHERLAND – winner of World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Commanding Vision at Sundance will open on September 22 in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Monica Film Center. Director Ramona Diaz stops by to talk about her immersive, intimate film that finds intimacy and caring in the midst of controlled bedlam.
Opens Friday, September 22nd at the LAEMMLE MONICA FILM CENTER
MOTHERLAND director Ramona Diaz will participate in brief Q&A’s opening weekend at the Monica Film Center: FRIDAY, 9/22, 7:30 PM screening; SATURDAY, 9/23, 5 PM and 7:30 PM screenings; SUNDAY, 9/24, 2:30 and 5 PM screenings.
“Motherland” is an extraordinary vérité portrait of Manila’s Fabella Hospital, where an average of 60 babies are born daily, making it the busiest maternity ward in the predominantly Catholic country, and reportedly in the world. – LA Times
Marrying stunning visuals with social advocacy, Rahul Jain’s debut documentary — winner of the Special Jury Award for Cinematography at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival — takes audiences into the labyrinthine passages of an enormous textile factory in Gujarat, India. Jain’s camera wanders freely between pulsating machines and bubbling vats of dye to create a moving portrait of the human laborers who toil away there for 12 hours a day to eke out a meager living for their families back home. Interviews with these workers and the factory owners who employ them reveal the stark inequality and dangerous working conditions brought about by unregulated industrialization in the region. This political message is delivered amidst the unsettling beauty of the factory’s mechanical underworld and the colorful, billowing fabrics it produces.Director Rahul Jain joins us to talk about the making of his stark, mesmerizing, and unsettling film and the penetrating sense of complicity we all should feel about the inhumane work conditions these men find themselves in.
Strong Island chronicles the arc of a family across history, geography and tragedy – from the racial segregation of the Jim Crow South to the promise of New York City; from the presumed safety of middle class suburbs, to the maelstrom of an unexpected, violent death. It is the story of the Ford family: Barbara Dunmore, William Ford and their three children and how their lives were shaped by the enduring shadow of race in America. In April 1992, on Long Island NY, William Jr., the Ford’s eldest child, a black 24 year-old teacher, was killed by Mark Reilly, a white 19 year-old mechanic. Although Ford was unarmed, he became the prime suspect in his own murder. A deeply intimate and meditative film, Strong Island asks what one can do when the grief of loss is entwined with historical injustice, and how one grapples with the complicity of silence, which can bind a family in an imitation of life, and a nation with a false sense of justice.Director Yance Ford, who is transgender, is a recipient of the Creative Capital Award, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, a Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellowship, and was among Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2011. For ten years Ford was privileged to work as Series Producer for the PBS showcase POV and where his curatorial work helped garner more than 16 Emmy nominations. Ford is also an architectural welder, and while at Modern Art Foundry he helped assemble the sculpture “Maman” by Louise Bourgeois—the series of three spiders exhibited at Rockefeller Center, and now on permanent display at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Director Yance Ford joins us for a conversation on grief, justice, racism, expectations, and the profound impact this 25-year long saga has had on his family.
Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica | California
“Ford is more than a witness-he is a crucial participant in the events of the film, and its elements of pain and guilt are reflected in his grief-stricken, self-interrogating aesthetic.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker
“Ford’s intent as a filmmaker isn’t just to expose and protest the injustice of his brother’s murder. It’s to say: Behold what was lost. A life. A human being. A complex soul. A family’s equilibrium. Feel what was lost.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“It’s clear that the filmmaker wants you to feel the same kind of hurt and anger he feels as more information unfolds about William Ford Jr.’s death.” – Jamie Broadnax, Black Girl Nerds
“Truly special, especially as it moves towards its final act, in which Yance begins to wonder about his own actions before William Jr.’s death, and how they might have contributed to the situation.” – Bilge Emir, Village Voice
This observational documentary follows a year in the lives of two inspirational teachers at Headfort, the only primary-age boarding school in Ireland. Housed in an 18th century estate, school life embraces tradition and modernity. For John, rock music is just another subject alongside Maths, Scripture and Latin, taught in a collaborative and often hilarious fashion. For his wife Amanda, the key to connecting with children is the book, and she uses all means to snare the young minds. For nearly half a century these two have shaped thousands of minds, but now the unthinkable looms: what would retirement mean? What will keep them young if they leave? Co-directors David Rane and Neasa Ni Chiandain stop by to talk about gaining the trust of a remarkably dedicated couple who have given their lives to the students and a way of life at Headfort and the joy of documenting an academic culture that celebrates and elevates young minds.
Opens in Los Angeles on Friday, September 15 at the Laemmle Monica Film Center
“‘School Life’ is as charming, intimate and warm-hearted an observational documentary as you’d ever want to see.”– Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“The filmmakers demonstrate mastery of documentary style by achieving an extraordinary level of on-camera comfort with their subjects, intimate access where everyone seems unaware they are being filmed.” – Bradley Gibson, Film Threat
“It’s the kind of school that could never exist in today’s America: It’s too freewheeling, too unstructured. Maybe it won’t exist in Ireland much longer either, so it’s a good thing that School Life manages to capture its weird, wonderful world.” – Josh Modell, AV Club
“A celebration of the importance of teachers and putting faith into the next generation of kids, School Life is quite the pleasing little documentary.” – Alex Lines, Film Inquiry
In filmmakers Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau’s bracingly balanced new documentaryTROPHY explores the complex heart of contemporary issues of animal conservation and commodification at a time when endangered African species such as elephants, rhinos and lions march ever closer to extinction. This provocative follow-up to Schwarz’s acclaimed Narco Cultura journeys viewers across lush African forests and vast plains and into the world’s largest hunters’ convention in Las Vegas to meet breeders and hunters who passionately believe in animal conservation. A common mantra of these businesses – “if it pays, it stays” – sums up the controversial notion that if you assign monetary value to an animal, it is worth protecting. TROPHY follows Philip Glass, a Texas-based sheep breeder and life-long hunter who is on a quest to collect the “Big Five” (elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, and rhino). Philip is deeply connected to the land and animals, Chris Moore, a Zimbabwean wildlife officer whose anti-poaching campaign is partially subsidized by big-game hunters like Philip. Chris works with government authorities and communities to keep people safe from wild animals. He also protects those animals from ruthless poachers. The great irony of Chris’s work is that he goes to “extreme lengths” to protect endangered animals, only to have them killed by trophy hunters. Co-director Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz joins us for a frank conversation on the fate of these magnificent creatures and who or what will determine their uncertain future.
”A bracing look at the intersection of big business and animal-rights protection. It will enrage, enlighten and confound in equal measure.” – Variety
“Sprawling, complex and beautifully lensed documentary about the tensions that exist between wild-life conservation and the global hunting industry.” – Screen International
“A more elegant, cinematically sophisticated approach… a documentary that is simultaneously gorgeous and unwatchable. Its very form embodies the film’s central, andvery controversial conflict… Don’t let the beauty of its images fool you; it’s a supremely confrontational, even infuriating work. It’s hard to know what to make of Trophy, and something tells me the filmmakers wouldn’t want it any other way.” – Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice / LA Weekly
“A sweeping new documentary that tells a story as captivating as its images are beautiful.” – IndieWire
Dolores Huerta is among the most important, yet least known, activists in American history. An equal partner in co-founding the first farm workers unions with Cesar Chavez, her enormous contributions have gone largely unrecognized. Dolores tirelessly led the fight for racial and labor justice alongside Chavez, becoming one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century—and she continues the fight to this day, at 87. With intimate and unprecedented access to this intensely private mother to eleven, the film reveals the raw, personal stakes involved in committing one’s life to social change. DOLORES is directed by Peter Bratt (LA MISSION) and Executive Produced by humanitarian and Grammy Award-winning musician Carlos Santana. The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival this year and continues to be a favorite on the festival circuit, garnering Audience Awards at the San Francisco International Film Festival, Montclair Film Festival, Houston Latino Film Festival and the Denver Women + Film Festival, as well as receiving the Golden Space Needle Best Documentary Award from the Seattle International Film Festival. Director Peter Bratt joins us for an engaging and lively conversation about a visionary leader who refuses to give into to pessimism and inaction.
Question and Answers with Dolores Huerta, Peter Bratt, and Carlos Santana in person 9/8
Friday 9/8, 5:00pm – Dolores Huerta and Peter Bratt in-person – Moderated by Mike De la Rocha – Introduced by Maria Elena Durazo
Friday 9/8, 7:30pm – Dolores Huerta, Peter Bratt and Carlos Santana in-person
Moderated by Martin Sheen – Introduced by Andrew Russell, President & CEO (PBS SoCal)
Friday 9/8, 9:55pm – Introduction by Dolores Huerta and Peter Bratt
Saturday 9/9, 7:30pm – Members of the Huerta family, including Camila Chavez, Maria Elena Chavez and Rick Chavez, in-person – Moderated by Shane Murphy Goldsmith (Liberty Hill Foundation)
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“‘Dolores’ is a documentary that celebrates a hero, but it’s no hagiography. Its subject wouldn’t stand for that.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“As a girl, she says, she had wanted to be a dancer. In some way you can see that in her work: She has made activism an art form.” – Ken Jaworowsky, New York Times
“Bratt masterfully corrects the record … revealing a charismatic, complicated woman who persevered – despite the disruption to her family and swirling disapproval of her personal life.”– Daphne Howland, Village Voice
Crossett, Arkansas is home to about 5,500 people, one Georgia-Pacific paper and chemical plant owned by billionaire brothers Charles Koch and David Koch, and a startling rate of cancer and illness. The groundbreaking investigative documentary Company Town follows local pastor David Bouie as he fights to save his community. It offers a rare look inside a small town ruled by a single company, where the government’s environmental protections have been subverted and ignored, leaving its citizens to take on entrenched powers in a fight for justice. Crossett is just one of hundreds of towns across America polluted by big business and failed by local, state and federal environmental protections. Company Town ultimately asks, what do you do when the company you work for and live next to is making you sick? It is the story of a modern-day David vs. Goliath. Filmed over the course of nearly four years, Company Townoffers first-hand accounts from a wide range of residents in Crossett’s “cancer cluster,” including Simone Smith, who was diagnosed with cancer at 9 years old; Hazel Parker, a former Georgia-Pacific employee whose mother, sister and father died from cancer; and Leroy Patton, the only person on his block to survive his health battle. And it brings to light the account on one whistle-blower who puts his life and family on the line to shed light on Georgia-Pacific’s egregious pollution, cover up and political influence. Co-directors Natalie Kotke-Masocco and Erica Sardarian join us to talk about their quietly devastating film about corporate greed, corruption and malfeasance.
RUMBLE: THE INDIANS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD, reveals the rousing history of American Indians in popular music, kicks off withLink Wray (Shawnee) whose raw, distorted electric guitar riff from the 1958 instrumental “Rumble” was a major influence on rock legends Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page, and Iggy Pop. RUMBLE powers through the music and life stories of artists whose Indian heritage has long been unsung: Delta blues master Charley Patton (Choctaw), “queen of swing” Mildred Bailey (Coeur D’Alene), The Band’s Robbie Robertson (Mohawk), Jimi Hendrix (Cherokee), folk icon Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree), “guitarist to the greats” Jesse Ed Davis (Kiowa/Comanche), and others. RUMBLE collages historical footage and electrifying performances with commentary by surviving musicians. Music historians, family members and assorted luminaries (including Martin Scorsese, Quincy Jones, George Clinton, Dan Auerbach, Taj Mahal, Steven Van Zandt, Slash, Steven Tyler, Tony Bennett, and Rolling Stone’s David Fricke) weigh in on how Native American musicians shaped the sounds of our lives. The film won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Masterful Storytelling at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. RUMBLE originated with guitarist/executive producer Stevie Salas (Apache), who realized that the public was unaware of the profound contribution of Native Americans to pop music. Salas joins us for a lively conversation on the profound impact Native American’s have had on our collective history, culture and music.
“What is strikingly brought home in Rumble is how the vast stew of influences in American music, rather than diluting everything, makes the music all the more powerful.” – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
“In the end, the story is one not only of rock- and pop-culture history, but of human persistence and indigenous contributions that have been historically (and often intentionally) overlooked.” – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail
“It’s been a terrific few years for music documentaries, and that winning streak continues with “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World.”” – Ken Jaworowski, New York Times
“Irresistible for popular music lovers.” Allan Hunter, Screen International
For over a thousand years, Tibetan Buddhist psychology has taught techniques for overcoming negative, afflictive emotions, such as anger, greed, jealousy, sloth and ignorance. In the film THE LAST DALAI LAMA?, His Holiness explains that Tibetan Buddhism is both a religion and a “science of the mind”; he also shares his crystallized understanding of the nature of mind, and its part in the creation and alleviation of all of our suffering. Believing that this precious wisdom belongs to the world, twenty years ago The Dalai Lama challenged a select group of world-renowned Neuroscientists and Mind/Brain researchers to look into the workings of the mind, and to prove scientifically that “Tibetan Buddhist technologies” for overcoming afflictive emotions are skills that can be learned by anyone. The Dalai Lama commissioned Dr. Paul Ekman and his daughter Dr. Eve Ekman to come up with an “Atlas of Emotions” as a way of understanding the effects of emotions on having a tranquil mind. Being able to recognize the patterns, triggers and responses to emotions is the first step in dealing with them. In a moving sequence with a high school class in British Columbia, His Holiness The Dalai Lama is able to share his passion for the subject. His urgency and dedication come through in THE LAST DALAI LAMA? as he now turns 82, and must deal with the questions of aging and death, and whether he will reincarnate as The Dalai Lama, or if he will be the last of the lineage that has existed for a millennia. Director Mickey Lemle joins us to talk about his three decade friendship with His Holiness and the profound impact he has had on politics, culture and a deeper understanding of our shared human nature.
Join Director Mickey Lemle for a Q & A following the Friday, Saturday and Sunday 7:30pm screenings
“You want the chance to bask in his presence and come out with a heightened sense of what he’s about. “The Last Dalai Lama?” accomplishes that, and with an offhand eloquence, though it’s a sketchy, catch-as-catch-can movie …” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“A surplus of wisdom and benevolence radiates from “The Last Dalai Lama?”’ – Helen T. Verongos, New York Times
“The more an audience member sees the beauty left in the Buddhist leader’s wake, the more it become clear that his influence has the power to continue generations beyond his passing.” – Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle
Filmmaker Michael Galinsky takes you on his 12-year journey to heal his back. Suffering from chronic back pain and weeks of living and sleeping on the floor, Galinsky found healing through his work directly with Dr. John Sarno at NYU Medical Center. Sarno had changed shock jock Howard Stern’s life. Veteran Senator Tom Harkin was inspired to campaign for his cause, and he gave comedian Larry David “the closest thing to a religious experience” he’s ever had. Sarno’s best selling book “Healing Back Pain” was first published in the 1980’s, and when co-director Galinsky’s father read it, he was cured of chronic whiplash. This artful and personal film, ALL THE RAGE – SAVED BY SARNO, braids Galinsky’s universal story of pain and emotion together with the story of Dr. Sarno’s work, connecting the audience to both the issues and the emotions at play. Featuring interviews with Howard Stern, Larry David, journalist John Stossel, Dr. Andrew Weil, Senators Bernie Sanders and Tom Harkin, and other luminaries, ALL THE RAGE offers a profound rethink of our health care. Director Michael Galinsky stops by to talk about his own back pain and journey to find out the connection between the body and personal trauma.
Friday 8/11: 2:20 Director Michael Galinsky joined by Adam Heller of Zero Pain Now
4:50 Director Michael Galinsky joined by Dr. David Schechter
7:20 Director Michael Galinsky joined by writer Director Jonathan Ames
Saturday 8/12: 2:20 Director Michael Galinsky
4:50 Director Michael Galinsky joined by Alan Gordon of the Pain Psychology Center
7:20 Director Michael Galinsky joined by Alan Gordon of the Pain Psychology Center
Sunday 8/13: 2:20 Michael Galinsky with Jennifer Huggins, Cinical Psychologist
4:50 Michael Galinsky with guest
“This isn’t a conventional documentary, but it’s a damn adventurous film.” – John Everhart, Under the Radar
“”All the Rage” overrides most of its shortcomings by keeping a breezy tone and by showing Dr. Sarno to be a convincing speaker, as well as an affable and somewhat crusty character.” – Ken Jaworosky, New York Times
In the truly audacious documentary ICARUS, director Bryan Fogel’s bold gambit was this: to investigate doping in sports, Fogel (an amateur bike racer) would dope himself, observe the changes in his performance, and see if he could evade detection. In doing so, he was connected to a renegade Russian scientist, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, a pillar of his country’s “anti-doping” program. Over dozens of Skype calls, urine samples, and badly administered hormone injections, Fogel and Rodchenkov grow closer despite shocking allegations that place Rodchenkov at the center of Russia’s state-sponsored Olympic doping program. When the truth is more complex than imagined, and accusations of illegalities run to Russia’s highest chains of command, the two realize they hold the power to reveal the biggest international sports scandal in living memory. Exemplifying the special bond between filmmaker and subject, this is a vital portrait of the sacrifice some people will make to stand up for truth. ICARUS places you at the heart of an international game of cat and mouse, where a miscalculation can cost you your life. Director Bryan Fogel joins us to talk about his unbelievably prescient film.
Combining a wealth of recently discovered home movies, video, and written documents with artfully shot contemporary interviews and vérité footage, MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART is a documentary that cracks open a Pandora’s box of unresolved family drama. Originating from filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo’s suspicion that there was something ugly in her family’s past, the film charts her excavation of the buried family conflict around her uncle Miguel’s death, and her search for Miguel’s partner Robert a generation later. After two years of dead ends, Robert turns up: but he’s not the same man. He’s reinvented himself as Father Aquin, a Franciscan monk with twenty-five years of pent-up grief and bitterness. For the first time, a member of Miguel’s family wants to hear Aquin’s side of the story—but is it too little, too late? A story about the mistakes of the past and the second chances of the present, MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART is a cautionary tale about the unresolved conflicts wrought by AIDS, and a nuanced exploration of how faith is used and abused in times of crisis. Director Cecilia Aldarondo is a 2017 Women at Sundance Fellow and was named by Filmmaker Magazine as one of 2015’s ’25 New Faces of Independent Film.’ She joins us to talk about her brother Miguel, a Catholic priest, her father Jorge and the ramifications of revealing her family’s hidden history.