January 25 – Lois Vossen, Independent Lens Executive Producer

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

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

Social Media:

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January 25 – *Hale County, This Morning, This Evening, Director RaMell Ross

Acclaimed photographer RaMell Ross, recent winner of the Gotham Award 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.

For news and updates go to: halecountyfilm.com

Social Media

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

*Shortlisted – 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary

94% on Rotten Tomatoes

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

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

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

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

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

Slamdance Film Festival Co-founder Peter Baxter

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

 

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For news and updates go to: slamdance.com

Check out the film schedule at slamdance 2019 schedule

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

Social Media:

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instagram.com/slamogram

January 18 – Arctic, Director Joe Penna

Driven by a virtuoso performance by Mads Mikkelsen ARCTIC tells the story of a man 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.

 

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For news and updates go to: bleeckerstreetmedia.com/arctic

For more about Joe Penna go to: mysteryguitarman.com

Social Media

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facebook.com/MysteryGuitarMan

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“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)

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.

For news and updates go to: ashleyconnor.net

Social Media:

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January 11 – Don’t Come Back from the Moon, Director Bruce Thierry Cheung

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 and  and 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.

 

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Social Media:

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Bruce Thierry Cheung:

brucethierry.com

facebook.com/brucethierrycheung

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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

January 11 – Buffalo Boys, Director Mike Wiluan

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.

samuelgoldwynfilms.com/buffalo-boys

“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

 

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:

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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.

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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

’63 Boycott, Director Gordon Quinn

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

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

For more about ’63 Boycott and the catalog Kartemquin films

‘63 Boycott

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

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

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

Winner – Best Short Documentary Roxbury International Film Festival

Winner – Best Short Documentary Adrian International Film Festival

Winner – Best Short Documentary Montreal International Black Film Festival

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

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

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

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

 

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For news and updates go to: Distant Barking of Dogs

**Spotlight Award Nominee – Cinema Eye Honors 2019

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

**Winner – First Appearance Award – IDFA 2017

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

**Winner – Golden Gate Award – SFFILM 2018

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

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

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

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

“Moving and effective” – Screen Daily

“Resembles classic Terence Malick” – Point of View Magazine

“A beautiful, poetic observational documentary” – Cineuropa

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

January 11 – Stu Pollard, President of Lunacy Productions

Lunacy Productions helmed by prolific producer Stu Pollard is excited debut for you their latest film “Rust Creek,” which is being distributed theatrically by IFC Midnight beginning January 11th, 2019.  “Rust Creek” starring Hermione Corfield (“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”), Jay Paulson (“Mad Me”), Sean O’Bryan (“Olympus Has Fallen”), Micah Hauptman (“Homeland”), Daniel R. Hills (“The Resident”), Jeremy Glazer (“Letters From Iwo Jima”), and John Marshall Jones (Con Air”); chronicles the presence of mind and skill an ordinary woman, utilizes while summoning extraordinary courage to survive a nightmare odyssey in this harrowing survival thriller. This  film takes the woman in jeopardy premise and turns it on its head with agility and smarts. This is the latest female driven (both in front of & behind the camera) film from Pollard & his team at Lunacy. Lunacy’s team are incredibly committed to supporting gender parity in filmmaking, producing several films featuring female protagonists (This Is Home, Rust Creek, Short History, Plus One) and working with female filmmakers like Jen McGowan (“Rust Creek”), Ani Simon Kennedy (“Short History of the Long Road”), and documentarian Alex Shiva (“This Is Home: A Refugee Story”) among others. Half of the department heads on “Rust Creek” are women and for many of the female crew, “Rust Creek” was their first feature film or their first opportunity in an elevated position (including DP Michelle Lawler, make-up artist Allie Shehorn, art director Priyanka Guterres, and postproduction supervisor Alex Jensen). Pollard has also directed two features: NICE GUYS SLEEP ALONE and KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. In his spare time he teaches at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and Film Independent. He holds a degree in business from Georgetown and an MFA in film from USC, is a member of the DGA and PGA, and serves on the boards of the Louisville Film Society and GU’s Alumni Board of Governors. Director, producer and head of Lunacy Productions Stu Pollard joins us to talk about his company’s commitment to gender equity on both sides of the camera.

For news and updates go to: lunacyproductions.com

Vimeo: vimeo.com/lunacy

Social Media:

twitter.com/LunacyProds

facebook.com/LunacyProds

instagram.com/lunacyprods

Rust Creek, Director Jen McGowan

Rust Creek is a gripping tale of an ordinary woman who must summon extraordinary courage to survive a nightmare odyssey. Sawyer (Hermione Corfield) is an ambitious, overachieving college senior with a seemingly bright future. While on her way to a job interview, a wrong turn leaves her stranded deep in the frozen Kentucky woods. Suddenly, the young woman with everything to live for finds herself facing her own mortality as she’s punished by the elements and pursued by a band of ruthless outlaws Hollister (Micah Hauptman) and Buck (Daniel Hill). With nowhere left to run, she is forced into an uneasy alliance with Lowell (Jay Paulson), an enigmatic loner with shadowy intentions. Though she’s not sure she can trust him, Sawyer must take a chance if she hopes to escape Rust Creek alive. Director Jen McGowan joins us to talk about her multi-faceted, nuanced “woman in distress” storyline and her decision to work with a predominantly female crew.

For news and updates go to: ifcfilms.com/films/rust-creek

“Fighting off a bunch of backwoods yokels is nothing new to horror movies, but somehow Rust Creek makes this old tale feel fresh and tense.” – Deirdre Crimmins HighDef Digest

“Rust Creek, in addition to its success as a thriller, also has a strong emotional core in its consistent admonishment of amorality and apathy, a deceptively layered thriller that touches upon the inherent horror in being a woman.” – Christina Tucker Film Inquiry

“…what looks on the surface to be a film we’ve seen a thousand times, turns out to be a multi-layered, multifaceted convolution of curve balls and metaphor.” – Amyana Bartley QBP Reviews

“It’s tight without being punishing, and its humor takes you happily by surprise.” – David Edelstein New York Magazine/Vulture

New York Film Critic Circle, Chair Eric Kohn and Vice Chair Alison Willmore

The New York Film Critics Circle was founded in 1935.  The Circle’s membership includes critics from daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, magazines, and qualifying online general-interest publications. Every year in December the organization meets in New York to vote on awards for the previous calendar year’s films. For 65 years the New York Film Critics Circle has consistently recognized, championed, and defended films that may otherwise have been slighted by audiences and the entertainment industry. Founded in part as a response to the Academy Awards’s sometimes dubious selections for the annual best in cinema, the NYFCC has from the start prided itself on striving to recognize a higher standard of film.The Circle’s awards are often viewed as harbingers of the Oscar nominations, which are announced each February. The Circle’s awards are also viewed, perhaps more accurately, as a principled alternative to the Oscars, honoring aesthetic merit in a forum that is immune to commercial and political pressures. A complete list of previous winners is available on this site, along with a list of current members with links to their publications.  NYFCC Chair Eric Kohn (IndieWire ) and Vice Chair Alison Willmore (Buzzfeed) join us to break down the top films of 2018 and the ever changing landscape of the film criticism industry.

For news and updates go to:www.nyfcc.com

Eric Kohn is the New York-based Deputy Editor & Chief Critic at Indiewire, where he has worked since 2007. In addition to overseeing operations for IndieWire‘s New York film team, he reviews numerous films throughout the year and reports on the industry. Kohn travels to film festivals around the globe, interviews filmmakers, and manages Indiewire’s network for professional film critics, the Criticwire Network. He also oversees the Critics Academy initiative, a series of educational workshops for aspiring entertainment journalists, and teaches film criticism at NYU. Prior to joining Indiewire, Eric contributed to The New York Times and other outlets.

Publication: IndieWire

Twitter: @erickohn

Alison Willmore is the film critic for Buzzfeed and is based in New York.

Publication: Buzzfeed

Twitter: @alisonwillmore

Communion, Director Anna Zamecka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Idelible” – Alissa Wilkinson, VOX

“Transcendent and highly accomplished film!” Filmmaker Magazine

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

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

For news and updates go to: loscomandos.film

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Love, Gilda, Director Lisa D’Apolito

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

 

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For news and updates go to: lovegilda.com

LOVE, GILDA will air on CNN:

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

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

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

And available for playback via CNN on Demand.

Social Media:

facebook.com/LoveGildathefilm

twitter.com/LoveGildaFilm

instagram.com/LoveGildaTheFilm

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

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

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

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

My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes, Director Charlie Tyrell

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

 

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For news and updates go to: mydeaddadspornotapes.com

Social media

facebook.com/mddptfilm

twitter.com/mddptfilm

mddptfilm@gmail.com

Drug$, Director Jonathan Marshall Thompson

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

 

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For news and updates go to: drugsthefilm.com

DRUG$ is now streaming on Amazon and You Tube

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

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

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

Lifeboat, Director Skye Fitzgerald

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

For news and updates go to: lifeboatdocumentary.com

LIFEBOAT nominated as BEST SHORT of 2018 by International Documentary Association

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

LIFEBOAT WINS Best Short Doc at Woodstock Intl. Film Festival

LIFEBOAT WINS Special Jury Award at BendFilm!

LIFEBOAT honored with JURY AWARD at Traverse City Film Festival

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

LIFEBOAT WINS at Dublin International Shorts Film Festival

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

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

 

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

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

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

For news and updates go to: islamandthefutureoftolerance.com

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

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

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

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

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

Avicii: True Stories, Director Levan Tsikurishvili

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

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

 

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For news and updates go to: aviciitruestories.com

“Compelling and Cautionary Tale” – Variety

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

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

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

Tyrel, Director Sebastian Silva

In Director Sebastián Silva latest film. Tyrel, Tyler (Jason Mitchell) and his friend John (Christopher Abbott), two young restaurateurs from New York City, push a car along a back road high on a cold, snowy day in the Catskills Mountains. Tyler and John are on their way to a weekend getaway to celebrate the birthday of Pete (Michael Cera), one of John’s old friends, at a cabin in the woods. Tyler needs the excursion, even though he will be among mostly strangers, because the home he shares with his Puerto Rican girlfriend is packed with her visiting family – and the ailing, elderly mother to whom she is devoted. What could be better than a jocular, beer-soaked weekend in the country with a bunch of his buddy’s friends? Well, nothing … except that an empty gas tank is only the first in a series of discomforting moments Tyler encounters and engenders over the next 48 hours. Writer/director Sebastián Silva’s deploys his signature handheld style probing subtext and body language, TYREL conjures an undeniable underlying tension and it marks his most radical character exploration yet—a timely, provocative, and brilliant observation of the idea of otherness in today’s American climate. Director Sebastián Silva (The Maid, Nasty Baby, Crystal Fairy) joins is for a lively conversation on male bonding, tribalism, race, working with this outstanding cast of actors and undermining expectations.

 

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For news and updates go to: tyrelmovie.com

Social Media

facebook.com/tyrelmovie

twitter.com/MagnoliaPics

“CRITIC’S PICK. UNNERVINGLY SHARP, AGONIZINGLY DEAD-ON.  The stranger “Tyrel” gets, the more accurate it feels.”  – Bilge Ebiri, The New York Times

“Silva’s most political work yet–though it is sly and subtle, the intention is palpable, the emotions elicited all too real, and ultimately, “Tyrel” proves to be a fascinating entry in his body of work.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

“This is a fast and lean film, an absolute workout for its outstanding cast and a devilish roller coaster ride for audiences.” – Jordan Hoffman, Vanity Fair

“Every time this fly-in-the-buttermilk scenario leans toward satire, it reminds you that you’re really watching a horror movie.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone Magazine