Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Executive Director Francis Cullado

** Spotlight on the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

Visual Communications, the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, announced its outstanding program of films and events for the upcoming 35th edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) running MAY 2 – MAY 10, 2018. The all encompassing annual film celebration is presented across Los Angeles in West Hollywood, Downtown LA, Little Tokyo, Koreatown, and Hollywood. Visual Communications proudly celebrates the Film Festival’s 34 years as Southern California’s largest and most prestigious film festival of its kind.  LAAPFF launches the celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month through this year’s slate of over 100 films from both Asian Pacific American and Asian international artists. For over three decades, the Festival has presented nearly 5,000 films by Asian Pacific American and Asian International talent. This year’s festival  will feature over 130 short films during the nine day fest from May 2 – May 10. These cinema gems from around the globe featuring stories about love, family, heartbreak, friendships, and self acceptance are all part of the exciting line up. The Festival opens May 2nd with the World Premiere of YELLOW ROSE directed by Diane Paragas and starring Broadway legend Lea Salonga and emerging star Eva Noblezada. Two acclaimed festival favorites will screen as the Centerpiece Films at the Festival; GO BACK TO CHINA directed by Emily Ting and MS. PURPLE directed by Justin Chon. The closing night film is the world premiere of EMPTY BY DESIGN directed by Andrea A. Walter premiering on Friday, May 10.  LAAPFF Executive Director Francis Cullado of Visual Communications stops by to talk about the ever expanding interest in Asian filmmakers and the trailblazing artistry being done by them.

 

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 For news and updates go to: festival.vcmedia.org/2019

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Go Back to China, Director Emily Ting

** 2019 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

In the new film GO BACK TO CHINA we meet Sasha Li (Anna Akana). To say that Sasha is spoiled would be an understatement. She’s entitled and self centered. But unlike many of her peers, she doesn’t have to struggle financially. Her father, (Richard Ng) a toy tycoon in China, has given her a million dollar trust fund. But instead of investing in her future, she has blown through half of it already on designer duds and bottle services. When she calls her father to complain, she finds out that he has blocked all her accounts and is cutting her off. She’s given an ultimatum. She can either go back to China and work for the family business, or she’s cut off forever. Teddy Li, the patriarch of the family, is not exactly father of the year. Divorced three times (all due to infidelity) and father of four. But with Sasha’s arrival, they all have to figure out a way to co-exist as a family for the first time. Once Sasha starts working at the factory, she also gets a much needed dose of reality check. When she makes a huge mistake that threatens the workers’ livelihood, it’s on Sasha to decide what she’s willing to sacrifice, in order to do the right thing. GO BACK TO CHINA is a heartfelt and bittersweet family portrait that offers an honest look at the human cost of things that are made in China. Director Emily Ting (Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong) joins us to talk about her fish-out-of-water dramedy, and a talented cast of artists.

For news and updates go to: gobacktochinafilm.com

“A funny, light, and heartfelt situation comedy…thanks in part to its likable lead whose adventures to find herself don’t involve meeting a man of her dreams but rather landing a dream job after learning the value of hard work.” – John Fink, The Film Stage

“Smartly written, funny and wonderfully acted blend of comedy and drama. Its themes of family conflict, the clash of cultures and finding your true calling are framed within a likable, entertaining narrative which will surely find its audience.” – Rouven Linnarz, Asian Movie Pulse

“Anna Akana and Lynn Chen manufacture joy in ‘Go Back to China.’ [It] is funny enough to draw in an audience and smart enough to teach them something while they’re there.” – Brooke Sjoberg, The Daily Texan

“Emily Ting is a needed voice in cinema because she displays life in a way that you won’t see anywhere else. It’s real, raw, and relevant” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic

20th Anniversary of Newport Beach Film Festival, CEO and Co-founder Gregg Schwenk

For the last 20 years the Newport Beach Film Festival has brought the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking from around the world to Orange County. Under the direction of CEO and Co-founder Gregg Schwenk and the festival’s staff have been committed to entertaining and enlightening the public with a first-class international film program as well as providing a forum for cultural understanding and enriching educational opportunities, the Festival focuses on showcasing a diverse collection of both studio and independent films. The Festival supports the creation and advancement of innovative and artistic cinematic works from both emerging and seasoned filmmakers and proudly embraces the passion, vision and independent spirit of these talented artists. With the integration of the local community and educational institutions, the Festival stimulates an interest in the study and appreciation of film and encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to participate. The Community Outreach Program was created with the idea that film offers new perspectives and possibilities for a changing world. Each year, the Festival partners with over 40 non-profit organizations and pairs each philanthropic organization with a film that aligns with their mission. The Festival gives non-profit organizations a forum to voice their message to large audiences and spread awareness of their organization and mission through the medium of film. Areas of focus include the arts, health and human services, the environment, education, children’s causes, seniors’ and veterans’ programs, and alumni clubs. CEO and Co-founder Gregg Schwenk joins us to talk about a remarkable festival line-up of comedies, dramas, short films, action sports, classics, documentaries, musicals and foreign film excellence.

For news, updates and film schedules go to: newportbeachfilmfest.com

For more on the OC FIlm Society go to: newportbeachfilmfest.com/ocfs

Babysplitters, Director Sam Friedlander

** 2019 Newport Beach Film Festival Spotlight

Writer/director Sam Friedlander’s (“Larry Gaye: Renegade Male Flight Attendant”), second feature film is the comedic gem Babysplitters. Jeff and Sarah are struggling to come to an agreement about having a baby.  Jeff wants to be a father eventually, but is afraid to lock himself into his current job situation. Meanwhile Sarah, nearing 35, feels her biological clock ticking and is impatient to start trying.  Their mutual friends Don and Taylor have the opposite problem.  Don has a successful business and is ready to be a dad.  But Taylor, an aspiring dancer, is worried that the toll on her body and career will be too much.  When the two couples hatch a plan to share one baby between them, it seems like they may have found the perfect compromise — until things spiral out of control. Winner of the Panavision Spirit Award for Independent Cinema at Santa Barbara Film Festival, Babysplitters is screening at the 2019 Newport Beach Film Festival. Director and writer Sam Friedlander joins us to talk about his wry, playful take on young couple willing to go to any length in hope of starting a new family.

For news and updates go to: babysplittersmovie.com

** 2019 Newport Beach Film Festival screenings

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“The trials and travails of impending parenthood are captured through Friedlander’s highly comedic filter, giving birth to enough dazzling wit to sustain the gimmick.” – Courtney Howard, Variety

“Whether it’s a conversation about triple-earlobes or a private confession to a therapist, Babysplitters gets its comedy right.” – Alex Saveliev

Body at Brighton Rock, Director Roxanne Benjamin

BODY AT BRIGHTON ROCK is a psychological thriller about a part time summer employee, Wendy, (Karina Fontes) at a mountainous state park, takes on a rough trail assignment at the end of the season, trying to prove to her friends that she’s capable enough to do the job. When she takes a wrong turn and ends up deep in the backcountry, she stumbles upon what might be a potential crime scene. Stuck with no communication after losing her radio and with orders to guard the site, Wendy must fight the urge to run and do the harder job of staying put — spending the night deep in the wilderness, facing down her worst fears and proving to everyone – including herself – that she’s made of stronger stuff than they think she is. Director and writer Roxanne Benjamin made her directorial debut in the anthology SOUTHBOUND, which world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. She was last in the director’s chair for “Don’t Fall”, part of Magnolia Pictures’ all-women-helmed horror anthology XX, which premiered at Sundance in the Midnight section last year. Director Roxanne Benjamin stops by to talk about her slow-burn thriller and the challenges of a wilderness shoot.

 

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For news and updates go to: bodyatbrightonrock.com

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“Deftly employing the power of suggestion and an emotionally potent sound design, “Body at Brighton Rock” is a well-crafted thriller with some crafty tricks up its sleeve.” – Joe Leydon, Variety

“Body at Brighton Rock shifts from being a fun and colorful throwback to something a little darker and deeper.” – Meredith Borders, Slashfilm

“Relating to Wendy, and to her terror, is easy, and immediate, and lets the movie hook its claws into the viewer with jolting urgency.” – Andy Crump, Paste Magazine

“Anchored by a star-making lead turn and sporting superb sound design, Body At Brighton Rock is a bloody good time.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat

Wild Nights with Emily, Director Madeleine Olnek

WILD NIGHTS WITH EMILY tells the story of the mid-19th century poet, Emily Dickinson writing prolifically, baking gingerbread, and enjoying a passionate, lifelong romantic relationship with another woman, her friend and sister-in-law Susan…yes this is the iconic American poet, popularly thought to have been a recluse. Beloved comic and Saturday Night Live alum Molly Shannon leads in this humorous yet bold reappraisal of Dickinson, informed by her private letters. While seeking publication of some of the 1,775 poems written during her lifetime, Emily (Shannon) finds herself facing a troupe of male literary gatekeepers too confused by her genius to take her work seriously. Instead her work attracts the attention of an ambitious woman editor, who also sees Emily as a convenient cover for her own role in buttoned-up Amherst’s most bizarre love triangle. Meticulously researched with the support of the Guggenheim foundation, this dramatic comedy generously intertwines Dickinson’ actual letters and poems into the texture of the film, used with permission from Harvard University Press.  A timely critique of how women’s history is rewritten, WILD NIGHTS WITH EMILY remains vibrant, irreverent and tender–a perhaps closer depiction of Emily Dickinson’s real life than anything seen before. Director Madeleine Olnek (The Foxy Merkins, Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same) stops by to talk about her “wildly” inventive and poignant reset of the often maligned American literary giant.

 

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For news and updates go to: wildnightswithemily.com

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93% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Wild Nights With Emily may be Olnek’s most political film to date, one that could forever change the narrative of the world’s most famous woman poet.” – Jude Dry, IndieWire

“Like the remarkable poet at its center, Wild Nights with Emily is playful, clever, and alive.” – Kristy Puchko, Pajiba

“This is an irreverent film, but its lightness is meaningful. With each silly flourish, Olnek offers joy and companionship to a figure whose history was more conveniently presented to generations of readers as solitary.” – Two Bugbee, New York Times

“Olnek has crafted a lovely, heart-warming piece which reminds us of the importance of revisiting and challenging historical narratives and leaves one in both fits of laughter and in need of a few moments of contemplation.” – Hannah Ryan, Much Ado About Cinema

Her Smell, Director Alex Ross Perry

Fueled by an incendiary performance by Elisabeth Moss, HER SMELL follows Becky Something (Moss) is a ’90s punk rock superstar who once filled arenas with her grungy all-female trio Something She. Now she plays smaller venues while grappling with motherhood, exhausted band mates, nervous record company executives, and a new generation of rising talent eager to usurp her stardom. When Becky’s chaos and excesses derail a recording session and national tour, she finds herself shunned, isolated and alone. Forced to get sober, temper her demons, and reckon with the past, she retreats from the spotlight and tries to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success. Anchored by a towering, unflinching performance from Golden Globe and Emmy winner Moss, and supported by a stellar ensemble cast, HER SMELL examines the grit, grace and gravitas of an unforgettable fictional rock star crashing down to earth into the harsh realities of mid-life. With his deeply humane sixth feature, writer- director Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip, Golden Exits) pumps up the volume and shines a light on the terrifying moment when superstardom wanes — and quiet becomes the new loud. Alex Ross Perry joins us for a lively conversation on the film’s fascinating shooting schedule, collaborating with cinematographer Sean Price Williams and working with a remarkable cast of actors.

 

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For news and updates go to hersmellmovie.com

“Elisabeth Moss turns in a five-alarm blaze of a performance as a frontwoman who makes Courtney Love look like Mother Teresa.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“Moss varies the volume and the tempo of her performance, calling forth cascades of profane invention and rills of whispery poetry, but she always stays in the same key, the key of Becky.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times

“Formally audacious and ferociously intelligent, Her Smell is Perry’s greatest achievement yet, a wild saga of prestige and madness that is ultimately rooted in the female bonds keeping women sane.” – Natalia Winkelman, The Daily Beast

“Over and above the furious-and ultimately painfully tender-drama, Perry achieves something of a new, grand version of his own cinematic music.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker

OVID.tv, Co-founder of OVID.tv and Director of Icarus Films Jonathan Miller

In a media environment dominated by increasingly concentrated corporate interests, eight distribution companies who have long championed the best in independent features, documentaries, and social issue films, have joined forces to help launch a new subscription streaming service, OVID.tv. Starting today, OVID.tv offers more than 350 quality documentaries and art-house films from the collections of its founding content partners: Bullfrog Films, The dGenerate Films Collection, Distrib Films US, First Run Features, Grasshopper Film, Icarus Films, KimStim, and Women Make Movies. Most of the films on OVID.tv are not available on any other streaming platform, and OVID.tv will be adding even more films every two weeks–14 fiction feature films and one 10-part documentary series are already scheduled for release. Despite the odds and with little capital, Icarus Films, Docuseek, and our partners have decided that the time has come to step forward and build a new, independent space, dedicated to the films that we believe in and care about, and that we believe you care about, and value as well. OVID.tv co-founder Jonathan Miller joins us to talk about an affordable option for film lovers looking for the highest quality cinema experience presented by people who share your passion.

 

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For news and updates go to:ovid.tv

You can read more about OVID on the International Documentary Association website, click here.

For now OVID.tv is only available in the U.S.

“A cornucopia of international movies and documentaries… recent ones as well as classics. It’s far better for recent movies than FilmStruck ever was, and its spectrum of new movies is far more substantial than that of Netflix, wider-ranging than that of Amazon.”  Richard Brody, The New Yorker, March 22, 2019

Babylon, Writer Martin Stellman

Never before released in the US, Franco Rosso’s incendiary BABYLON had its world premiere at Cannes in 1980 but was deemed “too controversial, and likely to incite racial tension” (Vivien Goldman, Time Out) by the New York Film Festival that same year. Raw and smoldering, it follows a young reggae DJ (Brinsley Forde, frontman of landmark British group Aswad) in Thatcher-era Brixton as he pursues his musical ambitions, while battling fiercely against the racism and xenophobia of employers, neighbors, police, and the National Front. Written by Martin Stellman (QUADROPHENIA) and shot by two-time Oscar® winner Chris Menges (THE KILLING FIELDS) with beautiful, smoky cinematography that’s been compared to TAXI DRIVER, BABYLON is fearless and unsentimental, yet tempered by the hazy bliss of the dancehall set to a blistering reggae, dub, and lovers rock soundtrack featuring Aswad, Johnny Clarke, and others, anchored by Dennis Bovell’s (The Slits) atmospheric score. BABYLON is the product of outsiders: director Rosso (1941-2016) immigrated from Italy as a child, Stellman is the son of Viennese Jewish immigrants, producer Gavrik Losey is the son of blacklisted Hollywood director Joseph Losey, and composer Bovell immigrated from Barbados, and was falsely imprisoned for running a sound system—the script was partly based on his experiences. Beyond the significance of being the only feature film about London’s sound system scene, BABYLON unflinchingly observes the place of marginalized people in a society resistant—to the point of violence—to multiculturalism. Writer Martin Stellman joins us to talk about the impact that Babylon had on the Caribbean diaspora living in London, the neo-realism style of the film and winding path that Babylon has taken over the last 40 years.

 

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For news and updates go to: kinolorber.com/film/Babylon

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A STORY WITH LITERALLY EPIC STAKES. It’s no surprise why the film may resonate now—its themes of finding community through art and trying to exist in a society that doesn’t want you are unfortunately both timeless and extremely current.” – Jaya Saxena, GQ

“REMARKABLE. Never lets go for a moment.” – Derek Malcolm, The Guardian

“FEARLESS. Loud and musical and cheerful and funny, and also tragic.” – David Robinson, The Times“EXPLODES IN THE GUT with a powerful mix of pain and pleasure. Like the reggae music that pulses through it, Babylon is RICH, ROUGH and REAL. And like the street life of the young black Londoners it portrays, it’s THREATENING, TOUCHING, VIOLENT and FUNNY.” – Simon Perry, Variety

“FIVE STARS. One of the greatest British films.” – MOJO

“REVOLUTIONARY.” – Miguel Cullen, The Independent 

Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, Director of Programming Mike Doughtery

The 17th edition of the fest begins on Thursday, April 11th with an opening night tribute to legendary Indian Actress TABU, who is regarded as one of the most talented Indian actors of her generation, having been honored with two National Film Awards, six Filmfare Awards and notably, the Padma Shri from the Government of India in 2011. In addition to opening with a tribute and moderated discussion with TABU, the festival’s opening night gala event will also include a screening of her latest film ANDHADHUN, a feature directed by IFFLA alum Sriram Raghavan (Johnny Gaddaar).

Some other highlights from this year’s lineup include:

– A moderated panel featuring successful South Asian professionals working across various fields in the television industry. The panel boasts a lineup that includes actor/comedian Nik Dodani (Murphy Brown, Netflix’s Atypical), director Meera Menon (The Walking Dead, GLOW, The Magicians), writer Fawzia Mirza (CBS’ upcoming The Red Line), writer Chitra Sampath (Good Behavior, Southland), writer and co-creator of Fox’s The Resident Roshan Sethi, and actor Dhruv Uday Singh (Freeform’s Good Trouble, CBS pilot Pandas of New York).

-The screening of a trio of Sundance and Slamdance favorites that includes Ronny Sen’s unforgettable feature debut CAT STICKS, the exhilarating and imaginative real-life journey of TAKING THE HORSE TO EAT JALEBIS from theatre-turned-film director Anamika Haksar, and PHOTOGRAPH from The Lunchbox director Ritesh Batra.

-Director Megha Ramaswamy’s THE ODDS would close out the festival on April 14. THE ODDS is a coming-of-age tale about two teens who skip school on an important exam day and go on a fantastical journey through Mumbai. THE ODDS features supporting turns from Abhay Deol (Dev D) and Priyanka Bose (Lion) and special appearance by Monica Dogra, all of whom are expected to attend the Gala along with Ramaswamy and co-leads Yashaswini Dayama and Karanvir Malhotra.

Director of Programming Mike Dougherty stops by to talk the 2019 edition of IFFLA, the future of Indian cinema and the increasing acceptance among mainstream American film lovers.

For news and updates go to: indianfilmfestival.org/

IFFLA Film Guide

IFFLA ticket information

Location:

Regal L.A. LIVE: A Barco Innovation Center

1000 W. Olympic Blvd.

Los Angeles CA 90015

The Boy Band Con, Director Aaron Kunkel

THE BOY BAND CON: THE LOU PEARLMAN STORY is a documentary feature that tells the story of famed boy band impresario Lou Pearlman. The film tracks his life from his childhood in Queens, New York through discovering mega-bands *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, and chronicles his later life, including his perpetration of one of the largest Ponzi schemes in American history. This is the first time this story has ever been told from the perspective of the people involved: from the boy band members themselves, and the Ponzi scheme investors to Lou’s childhood friends. Interview subjects include artists Lance Bass, JC Chasez, and Chris Kirkpatrick (*NSYNC); AJ McLean (Backstreet Boys); and Aaron Carter and Ashley Parker Angel (O-Town). Director, editor and cinematographer Aaron Kunkel (Charlie and the Ghost, The Moment) joins us to talk about an all-too-familiar tale of deception perpetrated by a trusted, likable and conflicted con artist.

“The Boy Band Con, The Lou Pearlman Story is a film wrought with both truth and lies, and Lance and I, and the whole team at Pilgrim, really took to heart uncovering what was real story amongst all the rumors, half-truths and full-blown falsehoods. Lou wove a tangled web. As Johnny Wright, the former manager of Backstreet and *NSYNC says, Lou was like a tabloid: there’s 10 percent of truth to what he says, and the rest is Lou taking it where he wants. We’re living in a time when truth and lies seem to blur together more and more and I wanted to examine the differences between them, while also exploring why they’re becoming – and in a lot of ways may always have been – difficult to tell apart.” – Director Aaron Kunkel

 

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For news and updates go to: The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story

Los Angeles – Arclight Sherman Oaks from Wednesday, March 27th through Tuesday, April 2nd.

New York – AMC 34th Street 14 from Friday, March 29th through Thursday April 4th.

Social Media:

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“It may be an all-too-familiar refrain – trusted music manager rips off his clients – but “The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story” sets it in the broader, more intriguing context of the age-old pursuit of those twin trappings, fame and fortune.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times

“Told in jaw-dropping fashion, the The Lou Pearlman Story follows the famed musical talent scout…to the Harvey Weinstein/Bernie Madoff figure he would ultimately become.” – Robert Daniels, ThatShelf.com

“As Kunkel structures the doc, it’s like “Here’s this guy who nobody completely understands, now let’s go back in time and … nobody understood him then, either.” I prefer that to cheap and specious psychoanalyzing.” – Dan Feinberg, Hollywood Reporter

“The Boy Band Con’s most remarkable feat is showing how Pearlman’s two crowning achievements were merely cogs in the vast machinery of his deception.” – Bryan Rolli, The Daily Dot

Billboard, Director Zeke Zelker

In BILLBOARD Casey Lindeweiler (John Robinson) inherits WTYT 960 from his legendary radioman father only to discover that it’s on the brink of financial collapse. To right the sinking ship, Casey pulls out the oldest trick in radio, the wacky contest. His grand plan is to host a billboard sitting contest where four people will live on a catwalk in front of a billboard for the chance of winning a mobile home and “nine-sixty thousand” dollars. Unprepared for the spotlight, Casey rises to the challenge of running a business but is faced with relentless attacks from his competition (Eric Roberts), the local authorities, the media, and mother nature herself. Casey struggles to keep his father’s legacy alive while fighting to stay independent.  BILLBOARD is inspired by an actual billboard-sitting contest Zelker recalls from his youth. BILLBOARD, which stars: John  Robinson (Elephant, Lords of Dogtown). Heather Matarazzo (Welcome to the Dollhouse, The Princess Diaries), Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight, Grey’s Anatomy), Leo Fitzpatrick (Kids, Bully), Darlene  Cates  (What’s Eating Gilbert Grapes, Picket Fences), and Oakes Fegley (Pete’s Dragon, This is Where I Leave You). A long-time pioneer in what has been called “transmedia” entertainment, Zelker is committed to changing the face of film. The “Billboard cine•experience,” tells variations of its story in different ways per medium, which is something unique and not yet fully embraced by the mainstream movie industry. Zelker  explores multiple sides of the narrative and is unafraid to push traditional boundary lines between truth and fiction; all while enabling audiences to become a part of the story. The innovative filmmaker Zeke Zelker joins us to talk about his approach to creating an entire cinematic eco-system and why it is so important for filmmakers to seek out new ways of engaging an audience.

 

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For news and updates go to: billboardmovie.com   Or to keep track of WTYT 960        

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Dragged Across Concrete, Director S. Craig Zahler

DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE tells the tale of two policemen, one an old-timer, Ridgemen, (Mel Gibson), the other his volatile younger partner, Anthony, (Vince Vaughn), who find themselves suspended when a video of their strong-arm tactics become the media’s cause du jour. Low on cash and with no other options, these two embittered soldiers descend into the criminal underworld to gain their just due, but instead find far more than they wanted awaiting them in the shadows. What bad things will good men do for their families? In the hardboiled world of DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE, who lives, who dies, and who gets rich is a fate written in bullets. Director S. Craig Zahler stops to talk about his stylishly brutal, modern day film noir and his determination to tell this story on his own terms.

 

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For news and updates go to: Lionsgate.com / Dragged Across Concrete

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“S. Craig Zahler’s latest film is a true master stroke in filmmaking. It is elegantly slow, contained, precise and notably beautifully framed throughout.” – Ben Ralph, Discussing Film

“Anchored by three brilliant central performances, Dragged Across Concrete is an interesting, unpredictable movie that presents two plots that feel like we’ve seen them before and then zigs when we expect it to zag.” – Sean Fallon, Film Inquiry

“S. Craig Zahler is a singular voice in cinema, one who is willing to take pulp concepts and craft them into unflinchingly violent features.” – Niall Browne, Movies in Focus

“Few filmmakers come to mind who could orchestrate these slow-burning set pieces with such precision; it’s like watching a chess game in which everyone thinks they’re a king but most of them are pawns” – Michael Nordine, IndieWire

Finding Steve McQueen, Director Mark Steven Johnson

The story of the United California Bank Robbery is one of the greatest stories never told. Back in 1972, the leader of a small group of safecrackers from Youngstown, Ohio got a tip from Jimmy Hoffa: President Nixon was hiding up to $30 million in dirty campaign funds in a bank in Laguna Niguel. Propelled by their hatred for Nixon, the gang travelled to California to rip off the President of The United States. “Finding Steve McQueen” is an unbelievable true story about one of the most daring bank jobs of all time. But at its heart it’s a story about identity. Who we are versus who we want to be — and what happens when those worlds collide. FINDING STEVE MCQUEEN features Travis Fimmel (“Vikings,” Warcraft: The Beginning, The Experiment), Rachael Taylor (Transformers, “Jessica Jones”, Shutter,) William  Fichtner (“Mom,” Black Hawk Down, Crash, Armageddon)  and Forest Whitaker (Black Panther, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Last King of Scotland). The film is directed by Mark Steven Johnson (Ghost Rider, Daredevil and Grumpy Old Men) is the true story behind “Finding Steve McQueen” one of those fascinating footnotes in American History that deserves to be told. And with a crooked president in the White House and a scandal looming…it’s a story that has never been more relevant. Director Mark Steven Johnson (Grumpy Old Men) stops by to talk about his beguiling stranger-than-fiction tale of politically motivated larceny and the love of a true Hollywood icon.

 

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For news and updates go to: momentumpictures.net

“[Director Mark Steven Johnson takes] what would have been a rather bland heist story and mix it with a mediocre love story to create an enjoyable final product. It’s an example of getting the most out of the material at hand.” – Rick Bentley, Tribune News Service

“Veteran director Johnson knows to prioritize his characters instead of his own cleverness, while Enzo’s motivating anger about bad men like Nixon reaching the highest levels of power without being punished for their crimes has a resonance today.” – Sherilyn Connelly, SF Weekly

“A slickly made piece of entertainment that’s a good time out at the movies.” – Walter Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle

Bruce, Director Eden Marryshow

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.

 

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For news and updates go to: brucethefilm.com

Social Media

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twitter.com/bruce_thefilm

instagram.com/bruce_thefilm

**2019 Cinequest Film Festival Spotlight: Mine 9, Director Edward Mensore

Mining country in Appalachia has been declared The Devilʼs Playground. A close-knit group of veteran miners, all friends and family, commence what would benormal dayʼs work — except today a rookie, the son of one of our veterans and the god-son of the Section Leader, joins them, 18 year-old Ryan. With ever-growing safety concerns at the mine, Zeke (Section Leader and long time coal mining veteran), struggles with the correct course of action, weighing on one hand the safety of his men, and on the other, the need to earn a steady wage in an economically depressed region. Today, however, fate takes matters into its own hands when a huge methane explosion rips through the mine. Smoke engulfs the men, forcing them to rely on nothing more than, brains, brawn and faulty self-rescuers (oxygen tanks that afford them one hour of air). MINE 9 is the story of the struggle for survival against all odds; men trapped in hell as the result of exploitation, greed and circumstance. Director Edward Mensore’s  intense new action/thriller MINE 9 will have its’ World premiere at the 2019 Cinequest Film Festival, running March 5-17th, 2019 in San Jose, California.  MINE 9 is Edward Mensore’s second feature film.  Eddie Mensore joins us to talk about his rivet, harrowing film about bravery in the face of insurmountable odds and the devotion of the men and women to a way of life.

 

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For news and updates go to: mine9movie.com

Festival screening dates at Cinequest:

3Below Friday, Mar 8 @ 7:00 PM

3Below Monday, Mar 11 @ 7:05 PM

Century 20 Redwood City #17 Tuesday, Mar 12 @ 6:15 PM

Century 20 Redwood City #2 Thursday, Mar 14 @ 5:00 PM

Social Media

facebook.com/mine9movie

twitter.com/Mine9movie

instagram.com/mine9movie

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

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

 

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

For screening information go to: theoscarshorts/theatrical release

Live Action (Short)    

Detainment 

Madre

Fauve    

Skin    

Marguerite 

 

Documentary (Short)

Black Sheep

Night at the Garden

End Game

Period. End of Sentence

Lifeboat

Animation (Short)

Animal Behavior

One Small Step

Bao

Weekends

Late Afternoon

 

The Man Who Killed Hitler Then Bigfoot, Director Robert D. Krzykowski

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.

 

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For news and updates go to: The Man Who Killed Hitler and then Bigfoot

“The Man Who Killed Bigfoot and Then Hitler is a real movie – one more emotionally resonant and character-driven than that deceptively goony title suggests.” – Simon Abrams, NPR

“In spite of the premise at hand, Sam Elliott–one of America’s greatest treasures–quietly delivers another astonishing performance.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“A wise, odd, and unforgettable ballad.” – Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com

“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

Work in Progress, Co-Directors Abby McEnany, Tim Mason and Actor Julia Sweeney

**SUNDANCE PREMIERE** Based loosely on Abby McEnany’s own experiences, WORK IN PROGRESS is an honest, funny, and rarely seen exploration of the “isms” and phobias that permeate all of our lives: homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, sizeism, classism, and more. In a nutshell, Abby is a 45 year old queer dyke who is finally coming into her own or she is a 45 year old queer dyke who is about to kill herself.  Both are true.  It just depends on which day you meet her. She is a finely crafted cocktail of Depression, OCD, Queerness, Insecurity and Anxiety but she only drinks Miller Lite.  And in this coming of age story, every little thing or person she meets has the potential for life-altering meaning. Abby is in an adolescent-like stage and has been stuck there for 30 years. After her therapist dies mid-session and she begins to date a trans man, Abby is forced to re-evaluate her life choices, her dating options and whether or not to confront the woman responsible for ‘ruining her life’: SNL’s Julia Sweeney. Co-directors Abby McEnany, Tim Mason and actor Julia Sweeney join us for a rollicking conversation on their hilarious, honest and engaging Sundance Film Festival debut episode of Work in Progress.

Social Media:

facebook.com/Abby McEnany

Twitter:@workinptv

Instagram:@workinp

 

2019 Slamdance Film Festival Spotlight

Spiral Farm, Director Alec Tibaldi

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

Letterboxd.com/film/spiral-farm

Behind the Bullet, Director Heidi Yewman

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

 

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For news and updates go to: behindthebulletfilm.com

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

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

This Teacher, Actor Kevin Kane (Director Mark Jackson)

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

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

Slamdance Film Festival Co-founder Peter Baxter

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

 

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For news and updates go to: slamdance.com

Check out the film schedule at slamdance 2019 schedule

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

Social Media:

facebook.com/SlamdanceFilmFestival

twitter.com/Slamdance

instagram.com/slamogram

January 18 – Ashley Connor, Cinematographer, Independent Spirit Award Nominee (Madeline’s Madeline)

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.

 

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For news and updates go to: ashleyconnor.net

Social Media:

facebook.com/ashley.connor

All These Small Moments, Melissa B. Miller Costanzo

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 that  further 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. 

 

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Social Media for All These Small Moments:

twitter.com/hashtag/allthesesmallmoments

Social Media for Melissa B. Miller Costanzo:

twitter.com/melbmiller

“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

January 24 – The Final Wish, Director Timothy Woodard Jr and Actor Michael Welsh

From the creator of the Final Destination franchise comes a new tale of death. Following the passing of his father, Aaron Hammond (Michael Welsh) returns to his hometown to help his devastated mother (Lin Shaye) and to confront his past demons. Sifting through his father’s belongings, Aaron comes upon a mysterious item that is far more than it seems. The Final Wish Director Timothy Woodward Jr. and lead actor Michael Welsh joins us for a conversation on continuing the cinematic legacy of Final Destination and bringing a creative energy to a familiar story of demonic possession, family struggles and reckoning with the past.

facebook.com/officialtimothywoodwardjr

michaelwelchact.com

“If you’re looking for a spooky little flick that forges some new ground against a backdrop of familiar terror tropes, The Final Wish will grant you that.” – Steve Barton, Brainwaves

“The Final Wish is an easy watch, fun and simple. It’s perfect for that night when you just want to sit back, relax and enjoy.” – Staci Layne Wilson, We Live Entertainment

“There’s still a lot to The Final Wish that I really appreciated and enjoyed, and it would make for a killer double feature with Wish Upon.” – Heather Wilson, Daily Dead

“THE FINAL WISH is yet another example of taking a low budget and bringing a fresh new take on a familiar storyline. It offers a well written script and a cast worth investing in.” – Jimmy O, Movie Emporium

Capernaum, Director Nadine Labaki

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Nadine Labaki’s CAPERNAUM (“Chaos”) tells the story of Zain (Zain al Rafeea), a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the “crime” of giving him life. CAPERNAUM follows Zain, a gutsy streetwise child as he flees his negligent parents, survives through his wits on the streets, takes care of Ethiopian refugee Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw) and her baby son, Yonas (Boluwatife Treasure Bankole), being jailed for a crime, and finally, seeks justice in a courtroom. CAPERNAUM was made with a cast of non-professionals playing characters whose lives closely parallel their own. Following her script, Labaki placed her performers in scenes and asked them to react spontaneously with their own words and gestures. When the non-actors’s instincts diverged from the written script, Labaki adapted the screenplay to follow them. While steeped in the quiet routines of ordinary people, CAPERNAUM is a film with an expansive palette: without warning it can ignite with emotional intensity, surprise with unexpected tenderness, and inspire with flashes of poetic imagery. Although it is set in the depths of a society’s systematic inhumanity, CAPERNAUM is ultimately a hopeful film that stirs the heart as deeply as it cries out for action. Director and writer Nadine Labaki joins us for a conversation on her impassioned new film and how CAPERNAUM changed her and many of the cast and crew from this multi-award winning film.

 

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

2018 Cannes Film Festival

Winner, Grand Jury Prize

Winner, Prix de la citoyenneté

Winner, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury

Nominated, Palme d’Or

Social Media for Capernaum

facebook.com/capernaummovie

twitter.com/SonyClassics

Instagram.com/SonyClassics

“It’s a scathing commentary on the effects of poverty, the failure to properly respond to refugee crises, and simple human decency populated by those struggling just as much as the next yet have also crossed a line they cannot return from.” – Jared Mobarak, Film Stage

“It’s a deeply assured piece of direction, and though it only plays a few emotional notes, they are ones that won’t soon leave your memory. Prepare to be blown-away.” – Emily Yoshida, New York Magazine / Vulture

“A social-realist blockbuster – fired by furious compassion and teeming with sorrow, yet strewn with diamond-shards of beauty, wit and hope.” – Robbie Collins, Daily Telegraph

“Can favorably be compared to everyone from De Sica to Truffaut to ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ A stunning piece of cinema.” – Pete Hammond, Deadline