In the new HBO Documentary Film – ERNIE & JOE: CRISIS COPS, director Jenifer McShane dives into the lives of these incredible officers and their amazing mental health unit officers, trying and succeeding in doing good and truly making an impact. Winner of the Special Jury Award for Empathy in Craft at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival, director Jenifer McShane follows two members Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro of the San Antonio Police Department’s 10-person Mental Health Unit who are helping to change the way police respond to mental health calls. Their jail diversion work is humane and desperately needed to improve not only the health of the mentally ill, but also of their families. The duo head the special team that looks to treat mental health calls as opposed to the traditional policing tactics. Drawing on their own experiences, each have learned that the old ways of policing and dealing with mental health issues weren’t working. The issues they face as a department are the issues every community and police department in the country faces. The two officers and their colleagues in this unique department provide hope and inspiration at a time when we need it most, and show that great ideas and inspiration can come from any corner of the country. Director Jenifer McShane and film subjects Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro join us for a conversation on the trailblazing work being done by themselves and their colleagues as well as the withering and sometimes frustrating challenges that mental health, “crisis cops” deal with in the face of a national mental health epidemic.
Winner – Special Jury Prize – 2019 SXSW Film Festival
Winner – Grand Jury Prize Documentary – 2019 Independent Film Festival Boston
“No story or lecture can replace the power of witnessing this empathy in action, and Ernie & Joe is a moving, important testament to the impact that this unique approach can make on a community.”- Tori Preston, Pajiba
“Impressively intimate” – VARIETY
“One of the Best Films of SXSW 2019” – THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“Should Change the Conversation on Modern Police Work” – GLIDE MAGAZINE
Winner of the Grand Prix at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, ATLANTICS marks the feature narrative debut of director Mati Diop. Along the Atlantic coast of Africa, a soon-to-be-inaugurated futuristic tower looms over a suburb of Dakar. Ada, 17, is in love with Souleimane, a young construction worker. But she has been promised to another man. One night, Souleimane and his co-workers disappear at sea. Soon after, they come back to haunt their old neighbourhood by taking possession of the girlfriends they left behind. Some of the workers have come claiming revenge and threaten to burn the tower down if the developer does not pay their wages. But Souleiman has come back for Ada, so they can be together one last time. Director and writer Mati Diop joins us for a conversation on her compelling new film, finding love, and the mythology of a ghost story.
About the filmmaker: Trained in Le Fresnoy (National Studio of Contemporary Arts – a leading and very selective French artistic institution), Mati Diop directed four shorts and a medium-length film which received the “Martin E. Segal – Emerging Artist Award” of the Lincoln Center (USA) in 2016. A THOUSAND SUNS (2013), BIG IN VIETNAM (2011), SNOW CANON (2010) and ATLANTIQUES (2009) were selected and awarded in a wide number of international festivals such as the Venice International Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Viennale, The Indie Lisboa International Film Festival, and the FID Marseille. They were also programmed in the MoMA and in the Moving Image Museum (USA). As an actress, Mati Diop played in HERMIA Y HELENA by director Matias Piñeiro (2015), FORT BUCHANAN by Benjamin Crotty (2014), SIMON KILLER by Antonio Campos (2012) and 35 SHOTS OF RHUM by Claire Denis (2008).
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival 2019
Official Selection, New York Film Festival 2019
Mati Diop, Mary Pickford Award Winner, Toronto InternationalFilm Festival 2019
“This shape-shifting Senegalese drama is pure cinematic poetry. Slipping in and out of modes with a magician’s confidence, Atlantics is mysterious and mythic, with a wizardly use of sound and some unforgettable images.” – ★★★★★ The Telegraph – Tim Robey
“A striking work, with a lyrical, richly evocative ghost story. Exquisitely shot by Claire Mathon and lushly scored by Fatima Al Qadiri, the film pulls together some exceedingly strong components.”– The Hollywood Reporter – Leslie Felperin
“Constantly intriguing, Atlantics is an intense romance notable for the craft of the filmmaking and Diop’s original approach to complex issues of love, loss and the forces for change that can rise from the ashes of tragedy.” – Screen International – Allan Hunter
“A gorgeous, mesmerizing feature directorial debut. Atlantics is an absorbing, otherworldly vision of an alienated seaside life in Dakar.” – IndieWire – Eric Kohn
“A romantic and melancholy film, part social commentary, part ghost tale, that works best in its evocation of loss and female solidarity.” – Variety – Jay Weissberg
Sex! Gossip! Scandal! For over 60 years, the National Enquirer has pumped out salacious, shocking stories, stretching the limits of journalism and blurring the lines between truth and fiction. Magnolia Pictures’ SCANDALOUS: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer, charts the thrilling origin story and influence of (in)famous supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer. The paper that former editor-in-chief Steve Coz called “the most perfectly placed piece of propaganda in America.” SCANDALOUS is the sensational true story of the most infamous tabloid in US history, a wild, probing look at how one newspaper’s prescient grasp of its’ readers darkest curiosities led it to massive profits and influence. From its coverage of Elvis’s death, to Monica Lewinsky and the O.J. Simpson murder trial, the National Enquirer rattled the foundations of American culture and politics, sometimes allegedly using payoffs and blackmail to get its scoops. With rare archival footage and revelations as wild as National Enquirer headlines themselves, SCANDALOUS examines our obsession with the rich, famous and powerful, and the tabloid that has fed those obsessions for generations of Americans. SCANDALOUS: The Untold Story of the National Enquirerwill open in select theaters on November 15, and features interviews with former Enquirer reporters and editors, including Iain Calder and Steve Coz, as well as journalists Ken Auletta, Carl Bernstein, and Maggie Haberman. Director Mark Landsman joins us to talk about the history of the supermarket tabloid that made UFO’s and mayhem respectable and in the process changed the way we consume all forms of media.
“While watching this entertaining documentary, keep in mind the claim made by journalist Ronan Farrow: The National Enquirer has buried at least 60 super-sleazy stories about our… president.” – Charles Mudede, The Stranger
“The story of the National Enquirer comes to life in Scandalous, a vibrant true Hollywood story that pulls numerous twists and turns.” – Kristen Lopez, Culturess
“”Scandalous” doesn’t break a lot of new ground in style, but it is a fascinating and essential examination of the media we consume and what consumes us.” – Karen M. Peterson, AwardsCircuit.com
Centered on the indomitable character of former first-lady Imelda Marcos, THE KINGMAKER examines, with intimate access, the Marcos family’s improbable return to power in the Philippines.THE KINGMAKER explores the disturbing legacy of the Marcos regime and chronicles Imelda’s present-day push to help her son, Bongbong, win the vice presidency. To this end, Imelda confidently rewrites her family’s history of corruption, replacing it with a narrative of a matriarch’s extravagant love for her country. In an age when fake news manipulates elections, Imelda’s comeback story serves as a dark fairy tale. Director Lauren Greenfield (Generation Wealth, The Queen of Versailles, Thin) joins us to talk about a powerful political family, led by a single-minded matriarch, determined to return to re-capture the corrupted glory ofher family’s discredited regime.
About the filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield Named by the New York Times as “America’s foremost visual chronicler of the plutocracy,” Emmy Award–winning filmmaker/photographer Lauren Greenfield has produced groundbreaking work on consumerism, youth culture and gender for the last 25 years. Her films Generation Wealth, The Queen of Versailles and Thin and photography books Generation Wealth, Fast Forward and Girl Culturehave provoked international dialogue about some of the most important issues of our time. The Queenof Versailles was the opening night film of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Best Documentary Director Award and was named by Vogue asoneofthetopdocumentariesofall time. Her record-breaking Super Bowl ad #LikeAGirl (250+ million views) earned her 14 CannesLions and the Most Awarded Director by Ad Age, making her the first woman to top thislist. Generation Wealth (Amazon Studios) opened the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, screened at Berlinale and received a Writers Guild nomination. The companion exhibition received The Paris Photography prize, has traveled around the world and opens at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Copenhagen) inFall2019.In2019,GreenfieldlaunchedGirlCultureFilmstoaddressthelackofdiversityofdirectors in the advertisingindustry.
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Venice International Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Telluride Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Toronto International Film Festival
“Jaw dropping. Lauren Greenfield proves the perfect person to infiltrate Imelda Marcos’ psyche.”- Peter Debruge, Variety
“An enraging portrait of entitlement, opulence and corruption. Greenfield shows a knack for illuminating the oddly hypnotic allure of obscene, tacky wealth.”– Tim Grierson, Screen International
“Eye opening. Lauren Greenfield transforms an absorbing look at the life and legacy of Imelda Marcos into a fascinating documentary about the Marcos family’s troubled history – and the disturbing ways that it’s making a comeback today.”– Eric Kohn, IndieWire
:Marcos innately understands the importance of image, but she seems to have underestimated her inquisitor, who uses well-chosen historic footage and powerfully-edited interviews with other Filipinos to gradually expand the canvas.” – Elizabeth Weitzman, TheWrap
Between 2015 and 2016, the number of homeless people in Los Angeles County rose 23% to nearly 58,000.DISCO’D is a character-driven portrait of individuals who were living on the street at the time of filming. This riveting, on-the-ground documentary film captures the moment-to-moment uncertainty and endless instability of life on the streets. Immersive and intimate, highlighting issues of displacement, affordable housing, addiction, consumerism, and sanitation, DISCO’D examines the nature and complexities of homelessness. Navigating through the streets with those who live there, DISCO’Dtells a story of those affected by homelessness in Los Angeles.We have seen homeless communities sweep into all parts of the city in recent years. Director, / Producer / Editor Matthew Siretta and Producer / Sound Engineer Sam Mantell join us to talk about his unsettling film that captures the chaos and sheer hopelessness of the men and woman with no where else to go.
Filmmaker(s) statement: “As filmmakers, we tried to explore human connections by examining interpersonal relationships, and self-reflection, while maintaining a firm look at the people who live within this uneasy margin of society. By facilitating a conversation about these individuals’ relationships with themselves, others, and the city that contains them, we can intimately recognize and connect with them in a very real way. From the beginning, our intention was to make a film that felt personal and experiential, with a narrative that emerged from the frame of human behavior. We wanted to focus on the visceral aspects of their stories, relating to them through feeling, expression, action, and reaction. For us, it was important to remain open to discovery, new connections, and interesting juxtapositions. As they share their lives with us, we come to understand what it means to feel “disco’d” on the streets of Los Angeles. We hope this film is a powerful portrayal that can positively impact the ideas and thoughts viewers may have around what it means to experience homelessness in Los Angeles. That said, we hope that you find the film consistent with our efforts, as we’ve attempted to create a meaningful portrait on homelessness in Los Angeles.” – Matthew Siretta and Sam Mantell
“Important doc on LA homeless.” – Sean Baker, @Lilfilm
“Siretta meant to nab his hero Frederick Wiseman as his mentor and he succeeded, so maybe keep an eye peeled.” – Pamela Cohn, Filmmaker Magazine
“Impressed with the film, particularly as a first-time feature. Raw, accomplished filmmaking. It’s very strong…and some of the characters are extraordinary.” – Jim Kolmar, SXSW Film Festival
“…A deeply engrossing portrait of Los Angeles homeless life.” – Harry Vaughn, Sundance Film Festival
“The film provides its subjects the agency to tell their own stories, without judgment or suggestion. The camerawork and editing are sharp and well-suited to the film’s narrative.” – David Wilson, True/False Film Festival
THE ALL-AMERICANS takes us into the home to the nation’s largest Latino immigrant population, East Los Angeles, a community that sits squarely in the crossfire of debate about American identity. Yet every November, this community comes together for a distinctly American event, drawing 25,000 proud locals to one of the country’s fiercest high school football rivalry games: The East L.A. Classic. THE ALL-AMERICANS follows four students seeking glory on the field, while grappling with personal obstacles and striving to make sense of their community’s place in today’s America. Director / Producer / Editor / Writer Billy McMillin (Iraq in Fragments, West of Memphis, Mike Wallace is Here) joins us to talk about his feature documentary debut, THE ALL-AMERICANS, and it’s intimate, unvarnished look at young men, often living on the margins, in their dogged pursuit of the American dream.
About the filmmaker: Billy McMillin – Director, Producer, Writer, Editor has spent over a decade as a writer and editor crafting a diverse mix of stories—from war-torn life in Academy Award Nominee Iraq in Fragments, to an epic search for justice in West of Memphis, to a quest for greatness amongst the world’s best 7-year-old golfers in The Short Game. He edited Hulu’s original documentaries Becoming Bond and Too Funny To Fail, and led a team of editors on History & Viceland’s docuseries Hunting ISIS and SundanceTV’s true crime series No One Saw a Thing. Most recently, he edited the all-archival feature documentary Mike Wallace Is Here, which premiered in competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures this summer. The All-Americans is his feature directorial debut.
QUEEN OF HEARTS tells the story of Anne, a brilliant and dedicated lawyer specializing in children and young adults, living what appears to be the picture perfect life with her doctor-husband, Peter, and their twin daughters. When her estranged teenage stepson, Gustav, moves in with them, Anne’s escalating desire leads her down a dangerous rabbit hole which, once exposed, unleashes a sequence of events that threatens to destroy her world. Denmark’s official entry for the 2019 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, QUEEN OF HEARTS explores the making of a tragic family secret step by step, as the consequences of hubris, lust and lies conspire to create an unimaginable dilemma. With bold and astonishing vision, co-writer/director May el-Toukhy masterfully builds Anne’s world, seducing the viewer into complicity before maneuvering her protagonist onto an unsettling and shocking path. Trine Dyrholm, one of Denmark’s finest dramatic actresses, skillfully inhabits the complicated Anne. In a finely calibrated performance, Dyrholm humanizes Anne’s contradictions and unpredictable behavior, creating an even more disconcerting character. A riveting and provocative film, QUEEN OF HEARTS is a portrait of a woman who manages to lose everything and nothing at the same time. Director and co-screenwriter May el-Toukhy joins us for a lively conversation on her shattering tale of power, family andself-preservation.
“Shot in icy blues and whites and among the hard edges of a modernist home, there’s nothing very comfortable about this environment; el-Toukhy doesn’t want us to get cosy.” – Alex Heeney, Seventh Row
“Queen of Hearts is certainly not a comfortable watch, let alone a pleasant one. But it is a fearless, important film whose impact explodes primarily out of the core collaboration between its masterful director and her main actor.” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ Women on Film
“A challenging sit, especially when Anne’s actions shift from ethically bankrupt to outright despicable, making her one of the most complicated female villains of recent memory.” – Tomris Laffly, RogerEbert.com
“Dyrholm, who remains one of Denmark’s most accomplished contemporary performers, adds another signature performance to her filmography as Anne, a good person who, like everyone, has the capability of doing terrible things.” – Nicholas Bell, IONCINEMA.com
Bruce Franks Jr. is a 34-year-old battle rapper, Ferguson activist and state representative from St. Louis, Missouri. Known as Superman to his constituents, he is a political figure the likes of which you’ve never seen – full of contradictions and deep insights, who has overcome unspeakable loss to become one of the most exciting and unapologetic young leaders in the country. This short verité documentary follows Bruce at a critical juncture in his life, when he is forced to deal with the mental trauma he’s been carrying for the nearly 30 years since his 9-year-old brother was shot and killed in front of him, in order to find peace and truly fulfill his destiny as a leader for his community. Co- director Smriti Mundhra (Sami Khan) join us to talk about how a dynamic and charismatic man from a traumatized community took tragedy and turned into action.
About the filmmakers:Smriti Mundhra’s A SUITABLE GIRL premiered at Tribeca in 2017 and won the Albert Maysles Award for Best New Documentary Director. KHOYA, Sami Khan’s feature debut, was selected for the Tribeca Film Institute’s Tribeca All Access® fellowship.
The documentary Gay Chorus Deep South chronicles one community’s response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws in Southern states and the divisive 2016 election. The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South. Led by Gay Chorus conductor Dr. Tim Seelig and joined by The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the tour brings a message of music, love, and acceptance to communities and individuals confronting intolerance. Over 300 singers travelled from Mississippi to Tennessee through the Carolinas and over the bridge in Selma. They performed in churches, community centers, and concert halls in hopes of uniting us in a time of difference. The journey also challenges Tim and other Chorus members who fled the South to confront their own fears, pain, and prejudices on a journey towards reconciliation. The conversations and connections that emerge offer a glimpse of a less divided America, where the things that divide us – faith, politics, sexual identity – are set aside by the soaring power of music and humanity. Director David Charles Rodrigues joins us to talk about the expectations and realities that comes with traveling to communities with the hope of changing hearts and minds.
WINNER AUDIENCE AWARD – BEST DOCUMENTARY – 2019 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER AUDIENCE AWARD – BERKSHIRE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
WINNER AUDIENCE AWARD – TOP 5 NONFICTION FAVORITES – 2019 TRAVERSE CITY FILM FESTIVAL
“Successfully harnessing the power of both music and message, documentary Gay Chorus Deep South draws its strength not only from its subject, but also the effective way in which it it presents its arguments.” – Nikki Baughan, Screen International
“What makes the film especially compelling, though, are the all-too-human narratives involving those who were at one time badly victimized because of their sexual orientation; they want to forgive, but may never be able to.” – Phil Guie, Film-Forward.com
“There’s a lesson here that applies to more than just LGBT political causes: To heal the country and move on, we must reach across the divide and listen to one another.” – Peter Debruge, Variety
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound reveals the hidden power of sound in cinema . . . and our lives. Few have “ears to hear” or comprehend the emotional storytelling impact sound plays in so-called visual media. Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas have both declared“sound is 50% of the movie,” with Steven Spielberg noting, “Our ears lead our eyes to where the story lives.” Through film clips, interviews and archival footage–an enlightening and nostalgic look at many of Hollywood’s biggest box office hits–the film captures the history, impact and unique creative process of this overlooked art form and the artists behind it. Filled with insights from legendary directors–including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, David Lynch, Ang Lee, Sofia Coppola and Ryan Coogler, among others–who share revealing stories about the award-winning work their sound collaborators help to create. In Making Waves, we witness the wild creativity of some of the industry’s most-respected key sound designers–including Oscar winners Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now), Ben Burtt (Star Wars), Gary Rydstrom (Saving Private Ryan) and Lora Hirschberg (Inception); and Oscar-nominees Cece Hall (Top Gun), Anna Behlmer (Braveheart) and Bobbi Banks (Selma)–who, in pursuing their art and desire to push the medium, are the very people who will go down in the history of cinema as developing sound into the immersive storytelling force it is today. Audiences will discover many unsung collaborators for the key creative artists they are, in a domain that has for too long been characterized as “technical.” Director Midge Costin joins us to evangelize on the power and glory of sound and the visionaries who have pioneered a new frontier in cinema.
“Accessible, illuminating and entertaining, it’s a documentary of huge value, something that will enhance not just your understanding but your future experience of film.” – Emma Simmonds, The List
“A practically perfect primer for anyone interested in the history and craft of filmmaking, answering most of the pertinent, baseline questions while leaving plenty of room for supplemental research.” – William Bibbiani, TheWrap
“Provides an exhaustive history of the medium right before our ears and eyes, jumping quickly from decade to decade and bringing it all together as a comprehensive cinematic dissertation of aural complexity.” – John Fink, The Film Stage
“Making Waves will likely inspire viewers to seek out their favorite films and experience them with fresh ears.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
The story behind RETURN TO MOUNT KENNEDY begins and ends with Bobby Kennedy becoming the first human to stand atop a lonely peak in the Canadian Yukon that had just been named to honor his assassinated brother, JFK. His climbing guide was Jim Whittaker, a mountain icon who at 28 had become the first American to summit Mt. Everest. From that solemn trek,Jim—the shy outdoorsman and eventual CEO of REI—and RFK ignited a friendship over their shared love of wilderness. In the following years their lives would intertwine, both men having a profound effect on the other. But their shared path would end with an assassin’s bullet. In June of 1968, Jim would look on as Bobby was taken off life support. 50 years later, Jim’s son Bobby Whittaker— a legend of the grunge scene— decides that he and his brother Leif must ascend the mountain. Leif, the experienced alpinist, will guide Bobby, as they test their relationship on dangerous ground. When they are joined by RFK’s son Christopher Kennedy their trio is complete. Mt. Kennedy’s long shadow has loomed in all of their lives for decades. Now, half a century after their fathers’ climb, three sons will forge their own paths and find a vantage point above the shadows. Like their fathers before them, the trio bring out the best in each other. Confronting deeply emotional memories from a tumultuous era of American history, Bobby, Chris, and Leif finally understand why they were so driven to go there and why they must continue to do good in the world. Director Eric Becker joins us to talk about the deeply personal story of a family and the unlikely bond between two men who lived lives of purpose and integrity.
At the turn of the 1900’s, two years after a quiet murder involving an out-of-town stage actor and a local doctor’s daughter, an esteemed Opera House welcomes a progressive Vaudevillian troupe from the East for its first performances since the tragedy; and along with it, a veiled actress with a curious intent. With tensions still thick surrounding past events, this mysterious performer discovers she isn’t the only one seeking revenge: someone or something has been “haunting” the assailant already. When the two conspirers uncover each other’s secrets, they decide their dual efforts will be more successful in subduing their enemy. THE RIOT ACT is a multi-award winning independent film that deftly immerses audiences in a layered tale of a caste system on the brink of violence where humanity and love are expendable in the eyes of society in the early 1900’s. Following a wildly successful festival and theatrical run, the film will be available to audiences everywhere on October 8th, 2019. The feature film directorial debut from auteur writer / director Devon Parks (Step Into: Miss Laura’s, The Help), THE RIOT ACT stars Lauren Sweetser (True Detective, Winter’s Bone), Brett Cullen (Joker, 42, Dark Knight Rises), Connor Price (Cinderella Man), Micah Hauptman (Homeland, Rust Creek), Brandon Keener (Traffic, The Purge: Anarchy) and Travis Joe Dixon (NCIS, Blackish). Director and writer Devon Parks joins us to talk about his intriguing mystery period piece, the he orchestrates from a very talented group of actors.
“While there are a few narrative implausibilities, they never derail the story, and while the story takes on a bit more thematically then it can ultimately deliver, it is generally preferable that a film’s reach exceeds its grasp.” – Dan Jardine, Cinemania
“A troupe that claims to offer “high-end vaudeville” arrives, not only to seriously heat up plot possibilities, but prove that Parks might have a real future at the movies.” – John Urbancich, Your Movies (cleveland.com)
The acclaimed PBS documentary series Independent Lens, recently honored with two Peabody Awards, a Primetime Emmy nomination and 12 News & Documentary Emmy nominations, returns for a new season on Monday, October 28.This year’s premiere is Made in Boise,an engrossing look at the complex and controversial world of gestational surrogacy told through the stories of four women carrying babies for gay men and infertile couples in the conservative heartland of Idaho — the unofficial “surrogacy capital” of the United States. Also on the fall schedule is Decade of Fire, which travels back to the 1970s when the South Bronx was burning, to showcase the dedicated citizens who outlasted the flames and saved their community; The Interpreters, a moving look at the Afghan and Iraqi interpreters who risked their lives aiding American troops and who now struggle to find safety and security for themselves and their families; Conscience Point, which unearths the deep clash of values between the Native American Shinnecock of Long Island and their affluent Hamptons neighbors; and Attla, the rousing story of Alaska Native George Attla, who with one good leg and a determined mindset went on to become a champion dogsled racer. Other highlights of the Winter/Spring 2020 slate include Always in Season, a harrowing look at the history of lynching and the 2014 case of Lennon Lacy, a North Carolina teen who died under unexplained circumstances; Bedlam, a psychiatrist’s chronicle of what mental illness means in the U.S. today, interwoven with the story of how the system tragically failed his own sister; and Rewind, a devastating, autobiographical documentary about the far-reaching consequences of multigenerational child sexual abuse. Independent Lens Executive Producer Lois Vossen joins us to talk about the fundamental principles to support filmmakers telling stories about their communities and commitment to showcase thought-provoking documentaries about the issues that divide us and the ideals and beliefs that bind us together.
Made in Boise by Beth Aala(Monday, October 28)Go inside the lives of four surrogates and the intended parents whose children they carry. As the number of surrogate births surge across the country, a surprising epicenter of the movement is Boise, Idaho, where hundreds of women are choosing to be surrogates. For gay couples, single men, and those who struggle with infertility, this booming industry is often the last resort to biological parenthood. The film follows the four women as they navigate the rigors of pregnancy and the mixed feelings of their own families, who struggle to understand their choice to risk the physical and emotional complications of carrying babies for someone else.
Decade of Fire by Vivian Vázquez Irizarry, Gretchen Hildebran and Julia Steele Allen(Monday, November 4)In the 1970s, the Bronx was on fire and close to a quarter-million people were displaced when their close-knit, multiethnic neighborhood burned. While the abandonment of landlords and dwindling support from government officials led to the devastation, Black and Puerto Rican residents were blamed. Now, Bronx-born Vivian Vázquez Irizarry explores the truth about the borough’s untold history and reveals how her community chose to resist, remain and rebuild.
The Interpreters by Andrés Caballero and Sofian Khan(Monday, November 11)More than 50,000 local interpreters helped protect U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, enabling soldiers to communicate with the local population. But those who took the job were often considered traitors. In the aftermath of war, some have been able to leave their home countries and reach safety, while others still languish in hiding and fear for their lives.
Conscience Point by Treva Wurmfeld(Monday, November 18)In Long Island’s Hamptons, one of the wealthiest areas in the nation and an epicenter of the luxury property boom, a clash of values is taking place. The original inhabitants of the beautiful peninsula — the Shinnecock Indian Nation — find themselves squeezed onto a tiny, impoverished reservation. Over hundreds of years they have seen their ancient burial grounds plowed up for the widening of roads, mega-mansions, and ultra-exclusive golf courses like the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Now Shinnecock activists and long-standing residents, including farmers and fishing communities, are taking a stand against a never-ending tide of wealthy transplants, overdevelopment, pollution, congested highways and skyrocketing property taxes.
Attla by Catharine Axley (Monday, December 16)The inspiring but little-known story of legendary Alaska Native dogsled champion George Attla, who — with one good leg and fierce determination — rose to international fame. In the final chapter of his life, Attla emerges from retirement to mentor his 20-year-old grandnephew. With their sights set on reviving proud cultural traditions, the pair embark on a journey to compete in the world’s largest dogsled sprint race, one that has seen a steep decline in Native competitors.
The latest documentary film from Peabody Award-winning director Beth Aala, Made in Boise, looks at the world of modern day surrogacy. In the idyllic city of Boise, nurses, nail technicians, and stay-at-home mothers are choosing to become paid surrogates for people from around the world. Made in Boise offers a rare glimpse into this mysterious world by intimately following the lives of four surrogates, as they build relationships with the intended parents, prepare for the rigors of pregnancy, and navigate the mixed feelings of their own families, who struggle to understand their choice to risk the physical and emotional complications of carrying babies for someone else. Legal in some states and illegal in others, a number of states, including Idaho, have no laws governing surrogacy on their books at all. As the number of surrogate births surge across the country, Boise has become an epicenter of the movement, with a large population of healthy women of reproductive age and a significant number of Mormon and Catholic communities who value large families. In this “City of Trees” with a population of a little over 200,000, it is estimated that one in 15 mothers will carry a baby for a stranger at some point in her life. For couples who struggle with infertility, for gay couples, and single men, this industry — outlawed in many countries around the world — is often the last resort to biological parenthood. Director Beth Aala (Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman ) joins us to talk about challenges and rewards of surrogacy for the the women who bear the children and the intended parents.
About the filmmaker: Beth Aala (Director) is a three-time Emmy Award-winning producer and recipient of a Peabody Award for her documentary work at HBO. Beth’s most recent feature documentary, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman (Sundance, 2017), which she co-directed and produced, is a film about unlikely conservationists based on New York Timesbest-selling author Miriam Horn’s book of the same name. Beth also directed and produced Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (Toronto, 2014) with comedian Mike Myers for A&E IndieFilms. The documentary is an intimate and entertaining portrait of talent manager Shep Gordon, the most famous man you’ve never heardhttps://www.facebook.com/madeinboise/ of. It won a Hollywood Film Award and garnered a 2015 News and Documentary Emmy Awards nomination. Her directorial debut, Pool Party, is the untold story of McCarren Pool-turned-music venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, featuring music and performances by the Beastie Boys, the Breeders, M.I.A, Sharon Jones, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo. It played in festivals around the world.
Fantastic Fungi, the engaging and informative documentary directed by Louie Schwartzberg, is a consciousness-shifting film that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet. Through the eyes of renowned scientists and mycologists like Paul Stamets, best-selling authors Michael Pollan, Eugenia Bone, Andrew Weil and others, we become aware of the beauty, intelligence and solutions the fungi kingdom offer us in response to some of our most pressing medical, therapeutic, and environmental challenges. When so many are struggling for connection, inspiration and hope, Fantastic Fungi brings us together as interconnected creators of our world. Directed by the pioneer of time-lapse photography, Louie Schwartzberg (Netflix’s “Moving Art”, Wings of Life for Disneynature, and Mysteries of the Unseen Worlds 3D Imax for Nat Geo still playing in theaters) Narrated by Academy Award-Winner Brie Larson.Director Louie Schwartzberg joins us to talk about the amazing world of fungus and the burgeoning field of scientific research into the thousands of positive, possibly planet saving benefits that can be realized from the magical spores.
“Fantastic Fungi makes the case that the answers to disease, anxiety, depression and global warming might be found underfoot. And they’re tasty to boot.” – Michael J. Casey, Boulder Weekly
“Louie and his team have accomplished an amazing task – with beautiful imagery, celebrating the quality of nature we have now. Fantastic Fungi is a film that serves to be a bridge of understanding to connect these ideas. By investing in these fungal networks we invest in the webs of life. Time is short. We need to bring this knowledge to the forefront of public consciousness.” – PAUL STAMETS
In this brilliant followup to his award-winning documentaries (SENNA, AMY) DIEGO MARADONA captures the athletic brilliance and maddening duality of a soccer player widely considered to be best player in the world from the moment he burst onto the scene in his native Argentina. And yet success proved elusive. He failed at Barcelona. He was considered a problem player, too interested in partying. Meanwhile, having never won a major tournament, the ailing Italian football giant SSC Napoli were perennial underachievers. Their fanatical support was unequalled in both passion and size. But how they ached for success… On 5th July 1984, Diego Maradona arrived in Naples for a world-record fee and for seven years all hell broke loose. The world’s most celebrated football genius and the most passionate but dangerous city in Europe were a perfect match for each other. Diego Maradona was blessed on the field and treated like a God off it; the charismatic Argentine loved a fight against the odds and led Naples to their first-ever League title. It was the stuff of dreams. But there was a price… Diego could do as he pleased while performing miracles on the pitch, but as time passed, darker days closed in. Italy turned on him. The third film from the Academy Award-winning & multi-BAFTA-winning team behind SENNA and AMY (director Asif Kapadia, producer James Gay-Rees, editor Chris King, composer Antonio Pinto), and also Paul Martin, DIEGO MARADONA was constructed from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage from Maradona’s personal archive.DIEGO MARADONA is crafted in the style of SENNA and AMY. It is the definitive feature documentary on the charismatic enigma that is Maradona. In a city where even the devil would need bodyguards, Diego Maradona became a god. Maradona in Naples is the story of his life, the wild and unforgettable story of an unrivalled talent. He was a rebel, cheat, hero and god. This is a story of glory, despair and betrayal, a tale of corruption and, ultimately, of redemption. Director / Producer Asif Kapadia joins us to talk about the enigma of “Diego” and “Maradona.”
“MESMERIZING… one of the most colorful and fascinating personalities in all of sports, with a life story bordering on the mythic. You may know outlines of the soccer legend’s life, but there’s no way you won’t learn something from DIEGO MARADONA, Asif Kapadia’s absorbing and exhaustive new film.” – Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press
“a fame-technique movie, measured in crowd roars, off-field revelry, media run-ins, and fan scrums as dizzying accoutrements to success, but also – when Maradona succumbed to scandals surrounding women, an unclaimed son from an affair, cocaine, loyalty, and powerful mob friends – in how those same trappings can suddenly turn vicious, and a hero’s fall can go shockingly unsupported.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
“[Kapadia] has edited cruddy video footage (some of which appears barely more than camcorder-grade) and photographs into a movie so fluid that it moves like a Hollywood production. He also dispenses with much of the filler common to documentaries… It is exhausting and exhilarating, cheap looking and slick, a documentary for Maradona fans but also for many others besides.” – Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times
“Asif Kapadia has put together an extraordinarily intimate account of [Diego Maradona’s] rise and fall, enriched by grainy but graphic footage recording every phase of his life.” – Sandra Hall, Sydney Morning Herald
Oscar nominee Feras Fayyad (“Last Men in Aleppo”) delivers an unflinching story of the Syrian war with his powerful new documentary, THE CAVE. For besieged civilians, hope and safety lie underground inside the subterranean hospital known as the Cave, where pediatrician and managing physician Dr. Amani Ballor and her colleagues Samaher and Dr. Alaa have claimed their right to work as equals alongside their male counterparts, doing their jobs in a way that would be unthinkable in the oppressively patriarchal culture that exists above. Following the women as they contend with daily bombardments, chronic supply shortages and the ever-present threat of chemical attacks, THE CAVE paints a stirring portrait of courage, resilience and female solidarity. Director and writer Feras Fayyad stops by to talk about the unbelievable courage of the hospital staff led by Dr. Amani Ballor, and the volunteers as they keep an otherwise harrowing day-to-day nightmare from devolving into soul-destroying chaos.
**WINNER – Audience Award – Toronto International Film Festival 2019
**WINNER – Audience Award – Camden International Film Festival 2019
**SPECIAL JURY MENTION – Camden International Film Festival 2019
“Miraculous. A standout. Feras Fayyad’s powerful portrait audaciously puts women’s imperative contribution to survival front and center.” – Tomris Laffly, Variety
“Look no further than The Cave for a portrait of true heroism. Provides astonishingly immediate and gripping footage of the collective effort to survive. The Cave ranks among the best of films to portray the tragedy of the Civil War in Syria and the resilience of the everyday people who keep the spirit of the nation alive.” – Pat Mullen, POV
“Emotionally Moving. Both intensely real and a carefully wrought work of cinema.” – Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter
“Gripping. Unprecedented. A real-time thriller. Fayyad excels at finding small moments that take on poetic resonance.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire
ON THE PRESIDENT’S ORDERStell the searing story of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody campaign against drug dealers and addicts in the Philippines, told with unprecedented and intimate access to both sides of the war – the Manila police, and an ordinary family from the slum. Shot in the style of a thriller, this observational film combines the look and feel of a narrative feature film with a real life revelatory journalistic investigation into a campaign of killings. The film uncovers a murky world where crime, drugs and politics meet in a deathly embrace – and reveal that although the police have been publicly ordered to stop extra-judicial killings, the deaths continue. Director / Producer James Jones and Director / Cinematographer Olivier Sarbil join us for a conversation on the challenges of gaining access to the police, the victims of police violence and the draconian drug policy being enforced by a dictatorial, human-rights abusing regime.
Director and Producer – James Jones is an award-winning British director who makes documentary films for international television and theatrical release. His documentaries tackle important issues through powerful personal stories told in a filmic style and narrative. He has made films about police shootings in America, suicide in the military, wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and undercover investigations in Saudi Arabia and North Korea. His background in current affairs investigations means the films still have a hard journalistic edge while using the craft techniques of documentary. His films have won two Emmys, three DuPonts, a Grierson, a Rory Peck, a Frontline Club, a Royal Television Society, a Broadcast Award, two Overseas Press Club of America, two Golden Nymphs, and a Venice TV Award, as well as being nominated five times at the BAFTAs. Recently, he co-directed the Emmy-winning Mosul with Olivier Sarbil.
Cinematographer and Director – Olivier Sarbilis an award-winning French documentary director and Emmy-winning cinematographer based in London. Over the past decade, Olivier has covered conflicts and critical social issues across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. With strong visual storytelling, Olivier’s films are intimate and human, conveying emotions through beautiful and cinematic imagery. His work has been recognized with awards from a variety of organizations, including, Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography, DuPont, Royal Television Society, One World Media, Overseas Press Club of America, Broadcast Awards, Bayeux-Calvados for war correspondents (twice), Golden Nymph, Rory Peck, Venice TV Award, Frontline Club, Grand Award and Gold Medal at the New York Festivals International TV & Film. His imagery has also garnered a BAFTA Nomination for Best Cinematography.
“A shockingly alarming investigation produced with the sensibilities of a social realist drama, Sarbil and Jones’ nonfiction warning should petrify U.S. viewers immeasurably.” – Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times
“A wholly cinematic, sensory experience, with straight-ahead reportage electrified by glaring streetlights and a panicked urban wall of sound…” Guy Lodge, Variety
“On the President’s Orders is the disturbing observational documentary we’ve needed about the Philippines drug war, made with finesse and astonishing access.” Musanna Ahmed, Film Inquiry
Inspired by Lewis Hyde’s beloved classic The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, GIFTis a richly cinematic film, interweaving character‐driven stories. On North America’s Pacific Northwest Coast, a young Indigenous artist and carver undertakes the elaborate preparations for a potlatch – to make a name for himself by giving everything away. In Rome, Italy, a factory occupied by migrant families is transformed into a living museum, protected by a barricade of art : a model of resistance, and an invaluable gift. In the pirate utopia of Burning Man, a mutant bumblebee art car distributes honey in a post-apocalyptic desert landscape. Meanwhile, in Auckland, New Zealand, artist Lee Mingwei prepares to launch Sonic Blossom – a “transformative gift” of song.GIFT is a tribute to something that can’t be measured or counted, bought or sold. Exploring the parallels between artists’ work and a gift economy, it’s a reflection on the creative process, the reasons we “labour in service of our gifts”, and a celebration of the imagination. Director Robin McKenna joins us to talk about her beautifully meditative film about paying forward human connection and how communities can re-imagine the meaning of wealth and prosperity.
About the filmmaker:Robin McKenna is director, producer and writer of GIFT, a feature-length documentary and crossmedia project inspired by Lewis Hyde’s classic bestseller The Gift. She is currently making Thanadoula, a short animated documentary fairytale about a real-life “death doula”, in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada – and Medicine, a feature-length documentary over a decade in the making, about ayahuasca, medicine and healing, with Dr. Gabor Maté. She directed Genevieve Bujold: ArtVie, a short film tribute to Bujold on 16mm, for the Governor General’s Awards for the Performing Arts in 2018. Robin grew up in Montréal, and began making films with La course destination monde. Her cinematography credits include City of Borders (Berlinale, Hot Docs 2009) and The Take with Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis (AFI Best Documentary 2004).
Black babies don’t come from white people. Except this one just did. That’s what Jen (Sarah Butler) tells her husband Tom (Will McFadden). He says he believes her. But soon, amidst a constant barrage of questions from everyone, Tom’s doubts and worst fears take hold. Both new parents are scared by the thoughts entering their minds, and scared to share them with each other. Baby Liam seems to love their dear friend Ron (Jamie Hector) – but why does that make it harder for Tom? And why do people keep confusing Ron for Liam’s father? Maybe because they’re both black. By the time a twist is revealed that could explain the baby’s appearance, it may be too late. Before Tom and Jen can accept their child, they’ll have to accept themselves… or face living their lives apart. Starring Will McFadden, Sarah Butler, Jamie Hector, Rob Belushi, Zach Cregger, James Morrison, and Melora Walters. Doubting Thomas, winner of Best Screenplay, Best Actor, Audience Award, Best First Feature, will begin its theatrical run in Los Angeles on Friday, October 11th, ahead of its North American VOD / Digital release on October 15th, 2019 through Gravitas Ventures. Will McFadden’s directorial debut, DOUBTING THOMASbrings unconscious racism home in the innocence of a baby. A complex tale that touches on institutionalracism and assumed privilege, the concept for the film was born from the true story of a black man killed in police custody in a racially charged incident. That man’s son, Joseph Campbell, shares story by credit with McFadden. Director / Co-writer / Producer and Lead Actor Will McFadden joins us to talk about his thought provoking drama that raises a multitude of questions about the relevance of family history, trust and race.
In 2015, after Hassan Fazili’s documentary Peace in Afghanistan aired on Afghan national television, the Taliban assassinated the film’s main subject and put a price on Fazili’s head.Fearing for their survival, the Fazili family, Nargis, Zahra, and Fatima fled Kabul for Tajikistan. Yet after 14 months spent submitting asylum applications that were rejected again and again, they were deported back to Afghanistan. It was at this juncture that Fazili picked up his cell phone and hit the record button and with that Midnight Traveler began to take shape. Chronicling every step from inside the action, Fazili, his filmmaker wife, and their young daughters trek across Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Serbia—scurrying through perilous landscapes, huddling in freezing forests, cramming into rattling vehicles. As they endure smugglers, gangs, and refugee camps, the camera witnesses not only the danger and desperation but also the exuberance and tenderness of this irresistible, loving family. For Fazili, framing their story becomes an assertion of control, humanity, and self-expression in a situation where none exists. With its radical subjectivity, visceral footage, and poetic form, Midnight Traveler is a migration story like no other. Producer Su Kim and Producer / writer / editor Emilie Mahdavian join us for a look at at Hassan and his remarkably resilient family as they attempt to overcome institutional and deadly political obstacles in their fight for freedom as seen through the eyes of his children, Zahra and Nargis and wife, Fatima. A fight for freedom that they have to win.
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for No Borders
BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Modest but full of urgency, MIDNIGHT TRAVELER uses the power of smart phones to reveal a migrant family’s search for a safe haven. Gretchen Jude’s percussive, electronic score helps hold it all together. [The film] stands as a family’s joint testimony, heartfelt and heartbreaking, particular yet hauntingly representative.” – Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter
“Has a home-movie quality that’s enormously effective in putting a human face on a global crisis.” – Scott Tobias, Variety
“What makes [the film] so moving, though, is the portrait that Fazili and Hussaini paint of both themselves as full, ungainly people, with flaws and hopes and perfections and their daughters who, in a way, are the stars [of the movie]. A languid, poetic film. [The parents] meditate on family, fear, equality, Islam, and the banality of everyday life. Throughout, though, it is hard not to forget that MIDNIGHT TRAVELER is a film of life or death which the score constantly reminds, and which infuses tensions into the narrative’s nooks and crannies.” – Gary Garrison, The Playlist
“A remarkable achievement…an affecting, essential documentary. The suffering, fear and humiliation that they experience is balanced by moments of warmth and an artist’s magpie eye for unexpected glimpses of beauty…While there have been numerous documentaries which deal with the plight of asylum seekers, there have been few which have shown, with this level of intimacy, the journey of a family from certain danger to an uncertain fate. It’s a film which deserves to be as widely seen as possible.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International
A stunning sensory experience and cinematic meditation on humanity’s massive reengineering of the planet, ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH is a years-in-the-making feature documentary from the award-winning team behind Manufactured Landscapes (2006) and Watermark (2013) and narrated by Alicia Vikander. The film follows the research of an international body of scientists, the Anthropocene Working Group who, after nearly 10 years of research, argue that the Holocene Epoch gave way to the Anthropocene Epoch in the mid-twentieth century as a result of profound and lasting human changes to the Earth. From concrete seawalls in China that now cover 60% of the mainland coast, to the biggest terrestrial machines ever built in Germany, to psychedelic potash mines in Russia’s Ural Mountains, to metal festivals in the closed city of Norilsk, to the devastated Great Barrier Reef in Australia and massive marble quarries in Carrara, the filmmakers have traversed the globe using state of the art camera techniques to document the evidence and experience of human planetary domination. At the intersection of art and science, ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH witnesses a critical moment in our geological history. Co-directorsJennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky bring a provocative and unforgettable experience of our species’s ever-expanding breadth and devastating impact.
“Astonishment. Pure, lurid, ravishing, genuine astonishment. That is Anthropocene: The Human Epoch.” – Luke Hicks, Nonfics
“The [team’s] latest film is the culmination of a major body of work and it’s as visually stunning and intellectually invigorating as the previous two films are.” – Pat Mullen, POV Magazine
“To say that there are no easy answers to planetary woes is to state the obvious. But the film seeks to reveal rather than lecture, in the hope that our eyes will convince our brains to act before it’s too late.” – Peter Howell, the Toronto Star
“Its cinematography and passion for our planet make a strong case for your attention.” – Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
“The luminous, terrifying and beautiful documentary “Anthropocene: The Human Epoch” feels like the culmination of the life’s work of its three directors… because it chronicles what could be the end of human life on Earth.” – Sean P. Means, The Movie Cricket
Claudia Lacy wants answers. When her 17-year-old son, Lennon, was found hanging from a swing set in Bladenboro, North Carolina, the authorities quickly ruled his death a suicide. In light of suspicious details surrounding his death, and certain that her son would not take his own life, Claudia is convinced Lennon was lynched. Jacqueline Olive’s unwavering debut film ALWAYS IN SEASON puts Lacy’s pursuit for justice into a wider historical context, inspiring a powerful discussion about lynching across racial lines. Appalling accounts of lynchings carried out at the beginning of the twentieth century provide a necessary historical framework, while an annual lynching reenactment in Monroe, Georgia, offers insight into the enduring legacy of racial violence in America. Olive’s layered exploration follows one African American family’s personal experience with a justice system that has failed so many, while also hinting at the promising first steps of a nation trying to reconcile. Olive’s film honors and acknowledges the injustices that have been inflicted, while emphasizing that only through the uncomfortable conversations and acceptance of our nation’s history will we begin to heal together. Director / Producer Jacqueline Olive joins us for a conversation on the bitter, pernicious and deadly legacy of the Confederacy and the enslavement of human beings in service to big business interests.
About the filmmaker: Director / Producer Jacqueline Olive is an independent filmmaker and immersive media producer with fifteen years of experience in journalism and \film. Her debut feature documentary, Always in Season, premiered in competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was awarded the Special Jury Prize for Moral Urgency. Jackie also co-directed the award-winning hour-long film, Black to Our Roots, which broadcast on PBS in 2009. Jackie has received artist grants and industry funding from Sundance Institute, Independent Television Service, Ford Foundation, Firelight Media, and more. She was recently awarded the Emerging Filmmakers of Color Award from IDA and the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation.
“‘Always in Season’ makes a powerful case that the history of lynching in the American South is not just history – that murders still haunt the present-day sites where they occurred, and that such killings can and do happen today.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
“A nuanced, layered reminder of how far we still have to go to correct the injustices of this country’s past and present.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
“Although difficult to watch, the film is invaluable in its exploration of lynching as a form of racial terrorism.” – Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader
JIM ALLISON: BREAKTHROUGHis the astounding, true story of one warm- hearted, stubborn man’s visionary quest to find a cure for cancer. The film traces Allison’s remarkable life from his school-boy days in Friday Night Lights, Creationist Texas all the way to Stockholm where, in December of 2018, he accepted the Nobel Prize in Medicine. Director Bill Haney is an award-winning documentarian, serial inventor and entrepreneur, who has founded more than a dozen companies, two of which develop drugs to cure cancer and neurological diseases. Meeting Allison in the labs of MD Anderson, Haney was immediately captivated by Jim’s empathy and pathos as much by his scientific accomplishments. Today, Jim Allison is a name to be reckoned with throughout the scientific world — a 2018 Nobel Prize winner for discovering the immune system’s role in defeating cancer but for decades he waged a lonely struggle against the skepticism of the medical establishment and the resistance of Big Pharma. Using intimate interviews with Allison and a set of scientific leaders, paired with the use of graphics and archival material, JIM ALLISON: BREAKTHROUGHtakes us into the inspiring and dramatic world of cutting-edge medicine, and into the heart of a true American pioneer, in a film that is both emotionally compelling and deeply entertaining. Director Bill Haney (The Price of Sugar, The Last Mountain, A Life Among the Whales) stops by to talk about this highly entertaining, informative story about an innovator, free-thinker, honky-tonk musician and a true iconoclast.
“Breakthrough remains loyal to its academic source material in a way that’s clear enough for any viewer to follow… [and] Haney seems to have made all the right filmmaking choices, from balancing the science and sentimental to picking his subject at the perfect time…” ~ Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica
“In a time when cynicism and skeptics run rampant, Breakthrough looks to offer a moment of comfort and hope via the story of Jim Allison.” ~ Dino-Ray Ramos, Deadline Hollywood
“In a field you’d never think of as having rock stars, Allison is a rock star of immunology. The filmmaker, Bill Haney, is a rock star among documentarians for bringing us this wonderful, hopeful film about a man and a Breakthrough achievement.” ~ Bradley Gibson, Film Threat
“Breakthrough demonstrates that the treatment is not a miracle, but the result of some wild but meticulous thinking by a true medical hero.” ~ Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter
“Breakthrough is an engaging and entertaining film because Allison is a fascinating subject. He’s blunt and honest and colorful.” ~ Sophie Novack, Texas Observer
The high-energy documentary DON’T BE NICE, chronicles the upstart Bowery Slam Poetry Team, made up of five African-American, Afro-Hispanic and queer poets in their 20s, preparing for the national championships. Coach Lauren Whitehead pushes them past personal boundaries to write from a painfully honest place with the credo “Don’t Be Nice.” She explains that to “be nice” is to stay on the surface of things, is to perpetuate the status quo, and is, for black people, to be what White culture demands. Her team of poets breaks down, breaks through, and ultimately writes their masterpiece—a celebration of black joy. Timely and difficult, their spoken word slays—but will their soul-searching pieces about police violence and the whitewashing of Black culture be able to compete against choreographed crowd-pleasers for the national title? Will opting to make a statement instead of a show spell their defeat?An emotional and inspiring film that gives insightful commentary on race, gender, identity and sexual politics in America today, DON’T BE NICE is both an exciting competition film and a deep dive into the wildly-popular Slam Poetry subculture, that proves once and for all that winning hearts and minds is the ultimate prize. Producer Nikhil Melnechuk joins us to talk about the phenomenally talented group of poets / writers / advocates that make up the Bowery Team and these from the heart, high-wire performances chronicled in this emotionally charged documentary.