SHARKWATER EXTINCTION is a thrilling and inspiring action packed journey that follows filmmaker Rob Stewart (Sharkwater, Revolution) as he exposes the massive illegal shark fin industry and the political corruption behind it – a conspiracy that is leading to the extinction of sharks. From West Africa, Spain, Panama, Costa Rica, France, and even in our own backyard, Stewart’s third film dives into the often violent underworld of the pirate fishing trade to expose a multi-billion dollar industry. Shark finning is still rampant, shark fin soup is still being consumed on an enormous scale, and endangered sharks are now also being used to make products for human consumption. Stewart’s mission is to save the sharks and oceans before it’s too late. SHARKWATER EXTINCTION exposes the illegal activities isn’t easy; protecting sharks has earned him some powerful enemies. Friend colleague and founder of SeaChange Agency Brock Cahill joins us to talk about working with director and sea mammal advocate Rob Stewart, the popular misconceptions about sharks and the challenge to stop the unwarranted slaughter of 150 million sharks every year by a clandestine world-wide cabal.
“Stewart… reveals a cruel market in which tens of millions of sharks are caught every year, their fins cut off and their bodies thrown back in the water to die.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times
“Stewart’s third film is also his best… with scenes of marine genocide that should make us all weep tears of rage.” – Peter Howell, Toronto Star
“Rob Stewart literally gave his life for Sharkwater Extinction. From the beginning, you see his passion for sharks and his dedication to saving them.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat
“An alarming, illuminating and emotionally gripping exposé. Forget about Captain Marvel and watch this powerful doc about the quest of a real-life hero, Rob Stewart, instead.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
Joseph Pulitzer’s New York newspaper, The World, would transform American media and make him wealthy, admired and feared. Throughout his four decades as a reporter and publisher, he created a powerful artistic vehicle that spoke to an unprecedented number of readers. Towards the end of his life, both sickly and blind, Pulitzer’s commitment to fearless reporting would tested by the most powerful person in American life. Pulitzer is an American icon who spoke of “fake news” over one hundred years ago. He fought the dangers that the suppression of news had for a democracy long before our present threats to press freedom. While he is remembered for the prizes that bear his name, his own heroic battles in the face of grave illness and Presidential ire have been forgotten as has the artistry and game changing originality he brought to newspapers. How did Joseph Pulitzer, once a penniless young Jewish immigrant from Hungary, come to challenge a popular president and fight for freedom of the press as essential to our democracy? Adam Driver narrates the film. Liev Schreiber is the voice of Pulitzer. Tim Blake Nelson is the voice of Teddy Roosevelt and Rachel Brosnahan is the voice of Nelly Bly.Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People Director and Producer Oren Rudavsky is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and several National Endowment for the Humanities and National Endowment for the Arts grants. Rudavsky produced Witness Theater a film chronicling a Self help organized workshop between holocaust survivors and high-school students which will premiere in 2019. His previous films Colliding Dreams co-directed with Joseph Dorman, and The Ruins of Liftaco-directed with Menachem Daum, were released theatrically in 2016. Colliding Dreamswas broadcast on PBS in May 2018.Director Oren Rudavsky joins us for a conversation on the indispensable role Joseph Pulitzer played in the development of America’s crown jewel, freedom of the press.
“Summarizing the great strides he made for journalism without ignoring his colorful flaws, Oren Rudavsky’s Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People is an excellent primer, not just on the man but on the birth of the modern newspaper.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
“Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People serves as a profile of the publishing giant and an important lesson on freedom of the press.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
“Newspapers have been going downhill ever since the days of “yellow journalism” but this film about one of its masters demonstrates that documentaries are better than ever.” – Louis Proyect, Counterpunch.org
Always tight on money, with a self-inflated view of his own “genius,” Bruce (Eden Marryshow “Jessica Jones”) is an egocentric, self-professed writer, director, artist and playboy who damages all of his relationships, romantic or otherwise, as he cons his way through his self-obsessed existence with a mixture of swagger and deeply insecure neuroticism. On the heels of his parents cutting him off, his free ride comes to an abrupt end after his roommate (Jason Tottenham “Quantico”) informs him he’s moving in with his fiancé (Jade Eshete “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”). Desperate to keep his apartment and stay afloat financially, Bruce concocts a plan to run an ad for a hot female roommate and charge her 80% of the rent. When Bruce falls for one of the applicants (Mle’ Chester “Vinyl”), he tries to turn his life around, but as the saying goes, “karma is a bitch.” Will Bruce see the error of his ways or remain irredeemably awful? Director, Producer, Writer Eden Marryshow joins us to talk about assembling a terrific supporting cast and the inspiration for his brash feature film debut.
Tucked in the trees of Oregon’s Mount Hood, an introspective young snowboarder camps alone, anticipating a winter of adventure and self-renewal. In Cambria Matlow’s latest documentary WOODSRIDER a tenacious, 19-year old Sadie Ford operates within the poetic persona of a searching pioneer. Her footsteps track over the town of Government Camp’s mountain landscape, her dog Scooter her only constant companion. Deep among the Douglas firs Sadie snowshoes to build her nestled tentsite, a place she feels more at ease than anywhere with four walls. Riding sessions and house parties in town provide brief breaths of social interaction and connection, but otherwise she chooses to spend time in solitude. Sadie’s simple quest for joy is tempered by melancholy when increasingly warm temperatures on the mountain cause rain to replace snow, and the winter season grows shorter. Striking a youthful yet elegiac tone, WOODSRIDER is a meditative film about identity, home, and the way that human experience echoes that of the natural world. Director Caitland Matlow joins us to talk about the immersive, intimate look into the life of a woman determined to stake out her own path.
“Matlow’s patient, unobtrusive camera and Ford’s magnetism as a subject makes Woodsrider
one of the most intimate docs you’ll see this year. Hauntingly beautiful.” – Walker Macmurdo, Willamette Week
“Stunning camerawork, lovingly composed with visual fluidity. This film will have a lot of appeal to audiences who understand the thrall of the wilderness. It’s a rare capture to see a woman, alone in the elements, strong, independent and totally at ease with her space. The film provokes a lot of thought about our ‘place’ in the natural – and unnatural – world.” – Ashland Independent Film Festival
“Lovely and engrossing, mixing an ethereal distance with a strange intimacy.” – Mark Elijah Rosenberg,
Stunningly lensed and invoking the very best of cinema vérité, director Michael Dominic (SUNSHINE HOTEL) brings his newest feature documentary CLEAN HANDS to the Cinequest Film Festival for a much anticipated world premiere. Shot over the course of seven years (2011-2018) in Nicaragua, Clean Hands is a feature-length documentary which tells the remarkable, riveting story of the Lopez family surviving against the backdrop of Central America’s largest garbage dump, La Chureca and beyond. It is about family, extreme poverty, the hope and innocence of children, rescue and salvation, and the challenges we all face. This is a slice of life that is rarely seen. Director Michael Dominic stops by for a conversation on how crushing poverty impacts multiple generations and the daunting challenges people face in breaking the poverty cycle.
Mining country in Appalachia has been declared The Devilʼs Playground. A close-knit group of veteran miners, all friends and family, commence what would bea normal dayʼs work — except today a rookie, the son of one of our veterans and the god-son of the Section Leader, joins them, 18 year-old Ryan. With ever-growing safety concerns at the mine, Zeke (Section Leader and long time coal mining veteran), struggles with the correct course of action, weighing on one hand the safety of his men, and on the other, the need to earn a steady wage in an economically depressed region. Today, however, fate takes matters into its own hands when a huge methane explosion rips through the mine. Smoke engulfs the men, forcing them to rely on nothing more than, brains, brawn and faulty self-rescuers (oxygen tanks that afford them one hour of air). MINE 9 is the story of the struggle for survival against all odds; men trapped in hell as the result of exploitation, greed and circumstance.Director Edward Mensore’sintense new action/thriller MINE 9 will have its’ World premiere at the 2019 Cinequest Film Festival, running March 5-17th, 2019 in San Jose, California. MINE 9 is Edward Mensore’s second feature film.Eddie Mensore joins us to talk about his rivet, harrowing film about bravery in the face of insurmountable odds and the devotion of the men and women to a way of life.
The war with Iraq was the largest mobilization of the Iranian population, achieved primarily by producing and promoting a culture of martyrdom based on religious themes found in Shi’a Islam. Martyrdom became state policy. Khomeini made it clear the war was a spiritual one that the people, and not a professional army, would fight. It would be a sacred defense; a war of good against evil, of spirit against military might, where a human wave of believers would form a wall of defense against the Iraqis. Over 800,000 people died. Anthropologist, writer and filmmaker Roxanne Varzi spent twelve years researching and writing about post-Revolution public culture in Iran. As an Iranian-American who was born in Iran and left shortly after the Revolution she found that even though she had missed the war with Iraq it was omnipresent. She spent a year in Iran without a film permit speaking to ideologically driven mural painters, museum curators, war vets and other cultural producers alongside the secular youth who were meant to consume the culture created by the government. The result is an experimental documentary and meditation on the aftermath of the war, and especially the mourning after. Dr. Roxanne Varzi (Tehran Tourist) for a conversation on her compelling and informative film about her homeland, martyrdom and the devastating consequences of war.
From director Todd Douglas Miller (Dinosaur 13) comesAPOLLO 11a cinematic event fifty years in the making. Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, APOLLO 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission—the one that first put men on the moon, and forever madeNeil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins into household names. Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future. APOLLO 11 director Todd Douglas Miller joins us to talk about taking on the challenge of sifting through a mountain of audio and video, developing new technologies for processing and enhancing 16mm film stock and capturing the tension and triumph of an incomparable achievement in human history.
“The result is a stirring companion piece to Damien Chazelle’s recent “First Man,” and one no less worth seeing on the big screen when Neon releases it in theaters worldwide.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“‘Apollo 11″ is a cool, meticulous, at times enthralling documentary that captures the Apollo 11 flight in its entirety through raw footage drawn from the NASA vaults.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“The images astound, the audio soundtrack is a master class in montage, and the events captured are herculean in scope.” – Jason Gorber, High Def Digest
“A masterful work of archival research.” – Nate Jones, New York Magazine / Vulture
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.
From the Oscar nominated team behind the genre-defying Embrace of the Serpent,comes an equally audacious saga centered on the Wayúu indigenous people during a crucial period in recent Colombian history. Torn between his desire to become a powerful man and his duty to uphold his culture’s values, Rapayet (José Acosta) enters the drug trafficking business in the 1970s and finds quick success despite his tribe’s matriarch Ursula’s (Carmiña Martínez) disapproval. Ignoring ancient omens, Rapayet and his family get caught up in a conflict where honor is the highest currency and debts are paid with blood. A sprawling epic about the erosion of tradition in pursuit of material wealth, Birds of Passage is a visually striking exploration of loyalty, greed, and the voracious nature of change. Co-directors Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego join us for a conversation on their beautifully crafted mix of drug-trade epic and intimate family saga.
“Harrowing in its repetitive violence, but never less than fascinating as a piece of ethnology, with magic-realist dimensions, that amounts to an origin story of the Latin American drug trade. It’s an extraordinarily accomplished piece of filmmaking.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
“Imagine “The Godfather” made by dazzling Latin American directors who combine bravura filmmaking with political awareness and a probing social conscience.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“Three viewings in, I’m still flabbergasted by the scope and detail of this movie … and in awe of the way its unique cover version of a crime-doesn’t-pay story totally pays off.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone
“The ease and charisma of the performers, trained and nonprofessional actors alike, heighten the emotional impact.” – A.O.Scott, New York Times
Based loosely on Scottish ghostly folklore with inspiration from Greek sirens, the tale is set in 1846 on a remote island off the west coast of Scotland, where three survivors from a mysterious sinking of their merchant ship find themselves stranded on a small misty isle. The isle’s four sole secretive residents, an old harbor man, a farmer, his niece and a young mad woman, are anything but welcoming and reluctant to aid the sailors back to the mainland. The promise of a boat never materializes leading one of the sailors to question why people had abandoned the island. Through his investigation he discovers that every year around the same date a tragedy at sea would occur and young men from the island would perish. When his two shipmates meet with fatal accidents, the myth of a ghostly siren haunting the island leads him to try and uncover the truth. Directed and co-written by British filmmaker Matthew Butler Hart (TWO DOWN), the film stars Olivier Award-winning, Tony-nominated actor Conleth Hill (HBO’s “The Game of Thrones”), Alex Hall (SUBURBICAN, BBC’s “The Miniaturist”), Fisaya Akinade (BAFTA-nominated GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS with Glenn Close and Gemma Arterton), THE ISLE co-writer and producer, Tori Butler Hart (MISS IN HER TEENS), Alix Wilton Regan (THE WIFE) and Graham Butler (Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful”). Director Matthew Butler Hart stops by to talk about his gorgeous, haunting new film.
Official Selection, Newcastle International Film Festival 2018
Winner, Jury Prize for Best Cinematography Manchester International Film Festival, 2018
Winner, Jury Prize for Best Sci-Fi/Horror Film London Independent Film Festival, 2018
“The Isle is the kind of cinema that is getting far too rare. Superbly shot, exquisitely paced and genuinely compelling and surprising – indeed astonishing – in its development of plot and character.” – Stephen Fry
“Beautifully shot… subtle and measured in execution… a refreshing entry in a genre so often saturated by repetition.” – Flickering Myth
“…genuinely surprising and engaging…innovative, finely-drawn and confident…” – Warped Perspective
“Exquisitely-wrought… quintessentially intelligent Gothic horror: all in a surprisingly large scope and absolutely unforgettable cinematic experience. “ – The 405
THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT follows the epic adventures of an American legend that no one has ever heard of. Since WWII, Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott) has lived with the secret that he was responsible for the assassination of Adolf Hitler. Now, decades later, the US government has called on him again for a new top-secret mission. Bigfoot has been living deep in the Canadian wilderness and is carrying a deadly plague that is now threatening to spread to the general population. Relying on the same skills that he honed during the war, Calvin must set out to save the free world yet again. Director Robert D. Kryzkowski joins us to talk about working with two-time Academy Award nominated director John Sayles and visual effects wizard and two time Academy Award winner, Douglas Trumbull (Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey) and how he was able to fashion an endearing, bittersweet saga of a heavy hearted man driven by a profound sense of duty.
“From its world-weary hero to its no-nonsense, casual swapping of fiction for fact, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot uses action and something like science fiction to deliver an wholly entertaining, yet poignant message.” – Slashfilm
Reed (Christopher Abbott) is going on a business trip. He kisses his wife and infant son goodbye, but in lieu of a suitcase filled with clothes, he’s packed a toothbrush and a murder kit. Everything is meticulously planned: check into a hotel and kill an unsuspecting victim. Only then will he rid himself of his devious impulses and continue to be a good husband and father. But Reed gets more than he bargained for with Jackie (Mia Wasikowska), an alluring call girl who arrives at his room. First, they relax and get in the mood, but when there’s an unexpected disruption, the balance of control begins to sway back and forth between the two. Is he seeing things? Who’s playing whom? Before the night is over, a feverish nightmare will unfold, and Reed and Jackie will seal their bond in blood. Based on the critically acclaimed cult novel by Ryu Murakami, Director Nicolas Pesce (THE EYES OF MY MOTHER) talks about how he was able to blend psychological horror with comedy and stylish neo-noir, resulting in a sly take on the fantasy of escape and the hazards of modern romance.
“Piercing is a quirky and nasty black comedy, essentially a two-hander-so if you don’t mind spending an hour and twenty minutes with a deranged duo doing their twisted tango, then, by all means, tune in.” – Staci Layne Wilson, We Live Entertainment
“Piercing is an unnerving mix of loveliness and lunacy.” – Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine
“What a deliciously demented and disturbing drama Nicolas Pesce’s “Piercing” is, dripping with gore and laden with forbidden innuendo.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
“Pesce deploys a potent arsenal of stylistic tools – urban landscape miniatures, plushly disquieting Lynchian interiors, flashbacks, creature effects, and florid gore – to tell the story of Reed.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
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.
“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
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.
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 anin-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.
“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 theGrain) 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.
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.
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.
“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
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.
Driven by a virtuoso performance by Mads Mikkelsen ARCTIC tells the story of aman stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive. Director Joe Penna stops by to talk about co-writing the minimalist script with Ryan Morrison, the remarkable performance by Mads Mikkelsen and the rigors of shooting in an inhospitably windy and frigid location.
“It’s broad stuff, and well-trod terrain for a movie that takes place in uncharted territory, but it cuts straight to the difference between endurance and survival.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“There are no cut corners, no overly blatant only-in-the-movies gambits. Mikkelsen’s stranded pilot has little to rely on beyond his will, so we feel at every step that he could truly be us.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“Arctic is elegantly shot, crisp and unfussy, and seamless in its near-invisible use of digital effects, creating a persuasive you-are-there feeling that’s rare in these days of flashy CG thrills.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
“Mikkelsen takes commanding centre stage in a guilty-pleasure survival drama with global ambitions.” – Kevin Maher, Times (UK)
Close, an adrenaline-pumping action thriller written and directed by Vicky Jewson (Born of War), is inspired by the life of the world’s leading female bodyguard, Jacquie Davis. The film stars Noomi Rapace as Sam. Sam is the world’s toughest female bodyguard, tasked with protecting high profile targets for terrorism and assassination. She fought her way to the top in a man’s world and feels more at home in the war zones of Sudan than back at her L.A. apartment. When she’s assigned to protect a VIP in Morocco, she thinks she’s in for a quick and easy job. That VIP turns out to be Zoe (Sophie Nélisse), a young and very rich heiress who’s never left her bubble of wealth and who isn’t keen on being baby sat. Sam can take a bullet for a president, but young privileged girls aren’t her specialty — especially a spoiled one. When Zoe’s bulletproof, secluded compound comes under attack in an explosive kidnapping attempt, Sam’s skills are put to the test. Accused of murder themselves, they must find a way to work together, determined to and hunt the attackers and their corrupt employers. Director Vicky Jewson joins us to talk about meeting Jacquie Davis and the impact it had on her decision to tell her story and the significance of her place in a world dominated by men.
ASHLEY CONNOR is a New York based director of photography. Her work on Josephine Decker’s BUTTER ON THE LATCH and THOU WAST MILD AND LOVELY prompted New Yorker critic Richard Brody to name her, alongside Darius Khonji and Fabrice Aragno, as one of the year’s best cinematographers. Her breadth of style can be seen in work as diverse as Dustin Guy Defa’s PERSON TO PERSON (Sundance ’17) and Adam Leon’s TRAMPS (TIFF ’16), as well as in popular music videos for artists including Jenny Lewis, Angel Olsen and Maggie Rogers. She had two films premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Josephine Decker’s MADELINE’S MADELINE and Desiree Akhavan’s Grand Jury Prize winning THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST starring Chloe Moretz and Sasha Lane. Most recently she shot two pilots for A24/Hulu and has three more films coming out in 2018: Olivia Newman’s FIRST MATCH (SXSW 2018 Audience Award Winner, Netflix produced), Alex O Eaton’s MOUNTAIN REST and an Untitled Daniel Scheinert film. Ashley Connor stops by for a conversation on her work on Josephine Decker’s Madeline’s Madeline’s Madeline and her Spirit Award nomination for her cinematography.
DON’T COME BACK FROM THE MOON is a story of abandonment, when all the men in a remote California desert town walk away from their families, one by one.They leave their angry, frustrated sons and daughters behind — kids who act out, engage in acts of petty burglary and vandalism, and look for love and family connection in the aftermath of their abandonment, all the while trying to understand why their fathers have “gone to the moon,” leaving them to traverse the difficult path to adulthood alone.
Director Bruce Thierry Cheung talks about the novelist Dean Bakopoulos who inspired DON’T COME BACK FROM THE MOON, a frequent collaborations with James Franco, the cast also includes a beautifully understated performance with Rashida Jones andand a group of talented young actors that includes Jeffrey Wahlberg, Alyssa Elle Steinacker, Zackary Arthur and Cheyenne Haynes.
About: Bruce is a film director / cinematographer with a background in architecture. Before pursuing film, Bruce was an architect at Studio Daniel Libeskind where he designed several projects, including a redevelopment of downtown Seoul and a wind-powered art center in Germany. As an MFA student in Film at NYU, he served as a Department Fellow and a Teaching Assistant for Spike Lee. In 2010, he helped launch Opening Ceremony TV, an award winning fashion film company. Bruce is also a frequent collaborator of James Franco, serving as his cinematographer on numerous commercials and feature films. His short film, “Each Moment is the Universe,” shot on the road in Thailand, was featured in Dazed and Confused magazine and screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Winner – Special Jury Award in Directing, Los Angeles Film Festival
Winner – James Lyons Award for Best Editing, Woodstock Film Festival
Winner – Special Mention for Best Feature, Woodstock Film Festival
Winner – Best Narrative Feature, Southampton Film Festival
Winner – Best Cinematography, Southampton Film Festival
“Bruce Thierry Cheung created a heroically, beautifully imagined interpretation of my first novel for the screen. With a small budget and brilliant heart, he made a gorgeous film out of my story and I am so grateful to him and the talented cast and crew.” – Dean Bakopoulos, Author, Please Don’t Come Back From the Moon
“… Moon is an unexpected meditation on the complicated nature of family & how our grief can lead to depression, causing ourselves to come up with a myriad of reasons to leave …” – Douglas Davidson, Elements of Madness
“Poignant and visually striking.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
In 19th Century Java, a brutal massacre and the murder of Sultan Hamza by Captain Van Trach and his Dutch soldiers force Arana, Jamar and Suwo – the sultan’s brother and infant sons – to flee the country, bringing them halfway around the world to the American Wild West. After working the railroads and learning the cowboy way of life, Arana tells the boys it’s time to return to their homeland and avenge their father’s death. Back on Indonesian soil, the hunt for their father’s killer begins. Along the way, they meet some villagers including Kiona, the rebellious and beautiful headman’s daughter who Suwo falls for, and soon find out that the treacherous Van Trach still rules the area. Their presence puts the village in danger, quickly turning their quest for revenge into a fight for freedom. With the odds stacked against them, Arana, Jamar and Suwo use the skills they learned from the wilds of America to face Van Trach and his army in a showdown for justice. Director Mike Wiluan joins us to talk about the universal themes that play out in the Western related genre and the expanding scope of Indonesian filmmaking.
“Energetic and well-shot with winning performances, producer turned director Mike Wiluan’s martial arts western is anything but boring.” – Jonathan W. Hickman, Daily Film Fix
“…the talent behind it is obvious, from its Indonesian and Singaporean producers down to the character players fighting for women’s rights while riding water buffaloes and firing shotguns.” – Kelly Vance, East Bay Express
“As expected, good wins over evil and the charismatic and capable brothers ride off into the sunset…but, is that the end of their adventures?” – Robin Clifford, Reeling Reviews
“[Reinout] Bussemaker’s work aside, the film as it its most impressive during the action sequences and, thankfully, it doesn’t skimp on these.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
Featuring a heartwarming performance by Molly Ringwald, ALL THESE SMALL MOMENTS tells the story of a teenage boy’s infatuation with a woman he sees on the bus thatfurther complicates his already tumultuous adolescence. ALL THESE SMALL MOMENTS is firmly rooted in the bewildering tangle of human relationships. A husband and wife who are trying to find their way back to themselves, because they’ve drifted too far and no longer recognize each other; an adult woman and a teenage boy who somehow fill a void in each other; and an almost accidental friendship that grows to be much more. ALL THESE SMALL MOMENTS is a portrait of adolescence and aims to capture a time period that, if we make it out unscathed, defines us. Director and screenwriter joins us for a conversation on the working with a cast of established actors like Molly Ringwald, Brian D’arcy James and Jemima Kirke and young actors like Brendan Meyer, Harley Quinn Smith and Sam McCarthy. Director and writer Melissa B. Miller Costanzo talks about getting her first feature film off the ground, enlisting actress Molly Ringwald to be a part of her project and channeling her own adolescent experiences into the performances of her talented cast.
“A beautifully accomplished first film.” Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter
“All These Small Moments reminded me a great deal of two films in particular: that of the recent Lady Bird and this year’s very underseen and underrated Blame.” – David Fontana, Film Inquiry
“Authenticity of character is All These Small Moments’ strongest suit because each proves honest whether or not their inclusion in the larger story does.” – Jared Mobarak, The FIlm Stage
“Despite being overly tidy and commonplace in its plot, [director Melissa B.] Miller-Costanzo succeeds in deliberately avoiding resolution, and while that’s bound to frustrate people, it’s key to the movie’s payoff.” – Kyle Kohner, The Playlist