After he’s attacked on the street at night by a roving motorcycle gang, timid bookkeeper Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) joins a neighborhood karate studio to learn how to protect himself. Under the watchful eye of a charismatic instructor, Sensei (Alessandro Nivola), and hardcore brown belt Anna (Imogen Poots), Casey gains a newfound sense of confidence for the first time in his life. But when he attends Sensei’s mysterious night classes, he discovers a sinister world of fraternity, brutality and hyper-masculinity, presenting a journey that places him squarely in the sights of his enigmatic new mentor. Audacious and offbeat, The Art of Self-Defense is an original dark comedy that takes toxic masculinity to absurd extremes. Director Riley Stearns joins us for a lively conversation on this wildly inventive, surreal black comedy.
“The Art of Self-Defense manages to clarify the filmmaker’s intriguing vision by stuffing it into a remarkably unnerving character study.” – Eric Kohn, indieWire
“”The Art of Self-Defense” may be presented as an absurdist satire, but like the best American comedies… it doubles as a keen critique of our national character.” – Peter Debruge, Variety
“’Fight Club’ by way of Yorgos Lanthimos, Riley Stearns’ screed on “might is right” toxic masculinity is a giggly black comedy that cowers down a twisty-turny rabbit hole.” – Matt Oakes, Silver Screen Riot
A looming disaster in one of the most spectacular environments on Earth sparks a rescue mission unlike any other in SEA OF SHADOWS, a riveting new documentary with the intensity of a Hollywood thriller from National Geographic Documentary Films and winner of the Sundance audience award. When Mexican drug cartels and Chinese traffickers join forces to poach the rare totoaba fish in the Sea of Cortez, their deadly methods threaten to destroy virtually all marine life in the region, including the most elusive and endangered whale species on Earth, the vaquita porpoise.SEA OF SHADOWS follows a team of dedicated scientists, high-tech conservationists, investigative journalists and courageous undercover agents as well as the Mexican Navy as they put their lives on the line to save the last remaining vaquitas and bring the vicious international crime syndicate to justice. Director Richard Ladkani (The Ivory Game, The Devil’s Miner) talks about the monumental challenge of saving a highly intelligent mammal from a desperately poor community who see the black market totoaba and the vaquita as a way to spare their family from a life of poverty and degradation.
“Sea of Shadows may still raise awareness about the plight of other sea creatures still under threat from illegal nets sweeping the bottom of the ocean, killing everything unfortunate enough to swim in its wake.” – Monica Castillo, Remezcla
Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love is renowned filmmaker Nick Broomfield’s most personal and romantic film of his career. The Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love starts on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960, where Leonard Cohen, then a struggling and unknown fiction writer, and Marianne Ihlen, a single mother with a young son, became part of community of expat artists, writers and musicians. Never-before-seen footage shot by Broomfield and legendary documentarian D.A. Pennebaker make for a unique portrait of an idyllic 1960’s bohemia. The time on Hydra left a lasting imprint on both Marianne and Leonard, whose friendship would last another fifty years before their deaths in 2016. It was on Hydra in 1968 that director Broomfield, then aged 20, first himself met Marianne. She introduced him to Cohen’s music and encouraged Nick to make his first film. As she was with so many artists, Marianne was an enormous influence on Broomfield, who went on to direct award-winningdocumentaries, many about iconic music legends including Whitney Houston, (Whitney Houston: Can I Be Me) Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, (Tupac and Biggie) Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love (Kurt & Courtney). Director Nick Broomfield joins us to talk about his relationship with Marianne, the undeniable talent and charisma of Cohen, and the profound impact his time on Hydra had on his personal and professional life.
“Love stories are like Tolstoy’s unhappy families: no two of them are alike. But even given that, the relationship chronicled in “Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love” has a quality very much its own.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“Broomfield’s personal engagement and his embrace of the complexities of life and love elevate this film, which travels across decades and continents to show the lasting power of one connection.” – Joe Blessing, The Playlist
Directed byAcademy Award nominated actor Greg Kinnear (As Good as It Gets, Little Miss Sunshine, The Matador) with an outstanding cast that includes; Emily Mortimer (Mary Poppins Returns), Luke Wilson (Bottle Rocket, Meadowland), Bradley Whitford (Get Out, West Wing), Jay Duplass (Beatriz at Dinner, Landline), Robert Forster (Jackie Brown, The Descendants), and Kurt Fuller (Midnight in Paris, Auto Focus). PHIL is the story of a depressed dentist whose life is falling apart. Phil is shocked when one of his patients, Michael Fisk (Bradley Whitford),a man who seemed to have the perfect life, kills himself. Determined to find out what would drive a man who had everything to end his life, Phil pretends to be a handyman and integrates himself in to the dead man’s life, befriending his wife (Emily Mortimer) and daughter. How long can Phil keep up this double life when he is determined to end his normal one? Director and lead actor Greg Kinnear joins us to talk about the challenges and rewards of a first-time director, finding the humanity in a story of personal tragedy and working with an incredibly talented group of artists.
BLUE NOTE RECORDS: BEYOND THE NOTES chronicles one of the most important record labels in the history of jazz — and, by extension, that of American music. Blue Note Records has been home to such groundbreaking artists as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Bud Powell and Art Blakey, as well as present-day luminaries like Robert Glasper, Ambrose Akinmusire and Norah Jones. Founded in New York in 1939 by German Jewish refugees Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, the history of Blue Note Records goes beyond the landmark recordings, encompassing the pursuit of musical freedom, the conflict between art and commerce and the idea of music as a transformative and revolutionary force. Through rare archival footage, current recording sessions and conversations with jazz iconsHerbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and today’s groundbreaking Blue Note musicians, BLUE NOTE RECORDS: BEYOND THE NOTES reveals a powerful mission and illuminates the vital connections between jazz and hip hop. FilmmakerSophie Huber gained her filmmaking experience as a member of an award winning Berlin film collective. Huber’s debut feature documentary, the critically acclaimed HARRY DEAN STANTON: PARTLY FICTION, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2012. Director Sophie Huber joins us to talk about chronicling the lives and musical journey for many of the greatest artists of the 20th Century and the German Jewish refugees who provided them with a platform in her second remarkable feature documentary BLUE NOTE RECORD: BEYOND THE NOTES.
“Damn near immaculate music documentary” – Leslie Felperin, The Guardian
“Glorious and invaluable documentary by Sophie Huber of the ultimate jazz record label Blue Note Records.” – Dennis Dermody, Paper Magazine
“The 85-minute film is a jazz nerd’s dream… Jazz’s evolution into hip-hop is a major theme in Beyond the Notes, which is in some ways also a hip-hop documentary and a passing of the torch.” – Maiysha Kai, The Root
“Jazz lovers will go ape over Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes… For jazz lovers worldwide, this Swiss doc is heaven-sent and heaven itself.” – Doris Toumarkine, The Film Journal
“Seductive and invigorating… taking the viewer beyond the music to immerse them in the talent, drive and sense of heritage that continue to propel the distinct mission …” – Jason Wood, Wire Magazine
“It’s about music, yes, but the label and this film concern more: Life-lessons, collaboration, open-minded attitudes and the value of submitting to the now.” – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail
“A must-see if you love John Coltrane … or Kendrick Lamar… And especially if you think jazz is dead.” – Pamela Espeland, Minnpost, Sound Unseen Review
TONI MORRISON: THE PIECES I AM offers an artful and intimate meditation on the life and works of the acclaimed novelist. From her childhood in the steel town of Lorain, Ohio to ‘70s-era book tours with Muhammad Ali, from the front lines with Angela Davis to her own riverfront writing room, Toni Morrison leads an assembly of her peers, critics and colleagues on an exploration of race, America, history and the human condition as seen through the prism of her own literature. Woven together with a rich collection of art, history, literature and personality, the film includes discussions about her many critically acclaimed works, including novels “The Bluest Eye,” “Sula” and “Song of Solomon,” her role as an editor of iconic African-American literature and her time teaching at Princeton University. In addition to Ms. Morrison, the film features interviews with HiltonAls, Angela Davis, Fran Lebowitz, Walter Mosley, Sonia Sanchez and Oprah Winfrey, who turned Morrison’s novel “Beloved” into a feature film. Using Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ elegant portrait-style interviews, Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am includes original music by Kathryn Bostic, a specially created opening sequence by artist Mickalene Thomas, and evocative works by other contemporary African-American artists including Kara Walker, Rashid Johnson and Kerry James Marshall.Director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders joins us for a conversation on gaining the trust and confidence of a literary icon.
“[An] inspiring doc. An eloquent nonfiction biopic that travels creatively through the past, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ film is enlivened both by its own storytelling dexterity and by the participation of its subject, who at 87 years old remains as warm, vibrant and insightful as ever… [She] comes across as a vivacious and intellectually formidable presence deserving of the titanic praise heaped upon by her.” – Nick Schager, Variety
“[A] visually beautiful documentary… Morrison, now 87, narrates her life in a tone that is determined, self-assured and sly… The clarity of her vision as she talks about race may be the most trenchant and potent aspect of the film… Morrison and her novels are treasures.” – Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter
“What’s most interesting about The Pieces I Am is not just Morrison’s explanations and reflections of her work but her steadfast determination while editing, writing and raising two children on her own, to never indulge the white gaze… A comprehensive examination of Morrison, the perseverance of Black women and how we understand ourselves as a people.” – Aramide Tinubu, Shadow and Act
ENDZEIT – EVER AFTER, is apost-apocalyptic feminist gothic fairy tale that takes place two years after zombies have overrun Earth. Two young women, Vivi (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) and Eva (Maja Lehrer), develop an unlikely friendship in order to survive. They are stranded in the no-man’s land of the Black Forest where they have to rely on each other and on nature, while in search of a more humane world. But their survival has also unleashed demons from their past that they must confront. In the end, love arises not only for each other, but also for the fantastic natural world surrounding them. According to the director Carolina Hellsgård:“ENDZEIT – EVER AFTER reflects upon our future existence, how we choose to live, and what our options will be in a world where nature strikesback. The aesthetics are inspired by the quirky and refreshing style of Olivia Vieweg’s graphic novel, which the script is based on.”
About the filmmaker:Carolina Hellsgård is a writer-director, born in Sweden and based in Berlin. She studied experimental media design at the Berlin University of Arts and film directing and screenwriting at Cal Arts in Los Angeles. Her critically acclaimed debut feature film WANJA premiered at the Berlinale 2015 and was nominated for Berlinale Best First Feature Award. It won Best Screenplay (Valletta Film Festival) and Best Feature Film Debut at the Biberacher Filmfestspiele. She is currently in post-production for the feature film project SUNBURNED.
“The alternating light and darkness here, and throughout “Ever After,” is a wonderful leitmotif for the women’s labyrinthian path, the journey of heroes.” – Maria GarciaLos Angeles Times
“A post-apocalyptic film, although fictional alludes to the reality we face today as nature begins to wreak its revenge on an out-of-control civilization.” – Louis ProyectCounterpunch.org
“Endzeit has definitely become one of my favorite films of the year, and one of my favorites of the genre. It is a refreshing take on not only these horrific creatures but also the meaning behind them and the apocalypse they bring.” – Stephanie ArcherFilm Inquiry
“It’s this ecological theme that leads to some truly inspired visuals which sustain the film until its unexpected, conciliatory conclusion. Endzeit is an unbalanced film, to be sure, but proof nonetheless of zombies’ enduring relevance in horror cinema.” – Christopher MachellCineVue
BEFORE STONEWALL tells the story of the 1969 the police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, leading to three nights of rioting by the city’s gay community. With this outpouring of courage and unity the gay liberation movement had begun. BEFORE STONEWALL pries open the closet door, setting free the dramatic story of the sometimes horrifying public and private existences experienced by LGBT Americans since the early 1900’s. Revealing and often humorous, this widely acclaimed film relives the emotionally-charged sparking of the contemporary Lesbian and Gay rights movements, from the events that led to the fevered 1969 riots to many other milestones in the brave fight for acceptance. Experience the fascinating and unforgettable, decade-by-decade history of homosexuality in America through eye-opening historical footage and amazing interviews with those who lived through an often brutal closeted history. The recently restored version of BEFORE STONEWALL, supervised by Co-director Greta Schiller and underwritten by First Run Features, is being released for a 2019 theatrical run in commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall riots. Co-director Robert Rosenberg joins us to talk about the making of the landmark film and how it helped change perceptions of the LGBTQ community.
Avant-garde Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov (The Student) returns to the big-screen with a tribute to the early years of Russian rock with LETO. Leningrad, in the summer, early eighties. Smuggling LP’s by Lou Reed and David Bowie, the underground rock scene is boiling ahead of Perestroika. LETO tells the tale of Viktor Tsoi (Theo U) and the Kino group, about his relationship with Mike Naumenko (Roma the Beast), his wife Natalya (Irina Starshenbaum) and many who were in the vanguard of the rock movement Leningrad in 1981. This is a story about Leningrad of the 80s, about love, searching and high hopes – about a mood that will stay with us forever. LETO is full of music that the characters live and breathe: the Kino group, Mike Naumenko, the cult tracks of that time. Mike and his beautiful wife Natasha meet with young Viktor Tsoï. Together with friends, they will change the trajectory of rock n’roll music in the Soviet Union. Co-writers Mikhail Idov and Lili Idova join us to talk about theworking with avant-garde Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov, celebrating a time of artistic freedom and indelible impression that these artists had on the people who connected to their enthusiasm.
“Weaving a glancing love triangle into a poignant observation on the waxing and waning of creativity, Serebrennikov revels in radiant black-and-white scenes of urban grit.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
“Far from an angry political screed, it feels both removed from its fraught larger context and shrewdly, poignantly attuned to it.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“Leto is a gorgeous, endlessly charming romance drama that’s part jukebox musical and part anthropological document. With revolution on the periphery, Leto is a superb picture.” – Joshua Brunsting, The CriterionCast
“There is a sprawling sense of time and place to Leto, which blows out the running to over two hours, yet there is not a frame of the film one would want to see excised.” – Simon Foster, Screen-Space
THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY is a cautionary tale for these times of democracy in crisis, the personal and political fuse to explore one of the most dramatic periods in Brazilian history. THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY captures thepersonal journey of filmmaker Petra Costa (ELENA, Olma and the Seagull) into politics watching her country fall into disarray, echoing the undoing of so many democracies around the world. Combining unprecedented access to leaders past and present, including Presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva, Costa witnesses their rise and fall and the tragically polarized nation that remains. Through the stories of her mother and father, Costa documents the rebirth of a democratized Brazil following years of authoritarian rule under a military dictatorship. She traces the impeachment of Rousseff, the imprisonment of de Silva, and the rise of the far right. Was Brazil’s democracy a short-lived dream? Merging the personal and the political, Costa delves to the heart of her country’s unfolding identity crisis, examining widespread institutional corruption while connecting her own family’s complex past to Brazil’s current crisis. Capturing a unique historical moment, A NETFLIX original documentary production, THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY examines the forces at play in the global erosion of democracy. Director Petra Costa joins us for a conversation about Brazil’s past, present and future and how the political trajectory of her beloved country is increasingly relevant to our own.
“Directed by Petra Costa, this completely fascinating documentary provides an unexpectedly compelling inside look at the political earthquakes that have been roiling Brazil for several years.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“A dense, complex undertaking Costa impressively wraps her arms – and our minds – around, made even more daunting by the dual purpose “The Edge of Democracy” serves as both an immediate witness to an extraordinarily precarious historical moment.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest
Assia Boundaoui’sdeeply personal investigative documentary THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED about the Arab-American neighborhood outside of Chicago where director she grew up. It is a community where most of her neighbors think they have been under surveillance for over a decade. While investigating their experiences, Assia uncovers tens of thousands of pages of FBI documents that prove her hometown was the subject of one of the largest counter-terrorism investigations ever conducted in the U.S. before 9/11, code-named “Operation Vulgar Betrayal.” With unprecedented access, THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED weaves the personal and the political as it follows the filmmaker’s examination of why her community fell under blanket government surveillance. Assia struggles to disrupt the government secrecy shrouding what happened and takes the FBI to federal court to compel them to make the records they collected about her community public. In the process, she confronts long-hidden truths about the FBI’s relationship to her community.THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHEDfollows Assia as she pieces together this secret FBI operation, while grappling with the effects of a lifetime of surveillance on herself and her family. Director / Producer Assia Boundaoui talks about her own determination to hold the FBI and the government accountable, the impact the FBI surveillance has had on her family and community and the bigger question, why?
“Expanding its scope beyond Bridgeview and Islamophobia, it looks at the larger question of how the United States government has targeted minority groups throughout its history.” – Kimber Myers, Los Angeles Times
“Equal parts angry and anxious, Boundaoui’s smart, unsettling documentary functions both as a real-world conspiracy thriller and a personal reflection on the psychological strain of being made to feel an outsider in one’s own home.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“A quietly unsettling first-person doc,The Feeling of Being Watched proceeds as a head-on exploration of the gray area between fear and certainty.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
“This should be required viewing for all Americans, but especially those who think they couldn’t possibly be living in a surveillance state.” – Leah Pickett, Chicago Reader
Routinely dismissed by film critics as a lesser genre artistically, romantic comedies aren’t simply traditionally beloved, but also a true art form which has produced some of the most classic and enduring films we know today. These films should receive the recognition they deserve along with an experience to bring together a community of film fans that flock to them. To remedy that perception, there is ROMCOM FEST. Rom Com Fest is founded by Miraya Berke, female entrepreneur – founder of Pop Productions event boutique studio and co-founder of Dessert Goals, the popular dessert festival in New York and Los Angeles. With a background in events and partnership and a personal love of romantic comedies, she is passionate about the romantic comedy genre and its legitimization in the eyes of film fans, filmmakers, and critics, in addition to the pure enjoyment of the films themselves. The first ever Rom Com Fest will take place June 20-23 in Los Angeles at Downtown Independent. In addition to a mix of new and classic rom com film screenings, we will host engaging activities and events to connect the community of rom com lovers. Highlights include a 20th anniversary screening of 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, A special screening of the classic NEVER BEEN KISSED (curated by actress Rachel Bloom), the west coast premiere of actor Joe Cross’ directorial debut SUMMER NIGHT, a late night CBD screening of HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK, and more. Festival founder and director Miraya Berke joins us to talk about her love of film and her desire to create a unique filmgoing experience.
ICE ON FIRE, an eye-opening documentary that focuses on many never-before-seen solutions designed to slow down our escalating environmental crisis, goes beyond the current climate change narrative and offers hope that we can actually stave off the worst effects of global warming. Eleven years after Conners’ first collaboration with Executive Producer Leonardo DiCaprio on “The 11th Hour,”which emphasized the problems of climate change, ICE ON FIRE instead focuses on the cutting-edge research behind today’s climate science – and the innovations aimed at reducing carbon in the atmosphere, which could pave the way for a reduction in the global temperature rise and a benefit to the planet’s life systems. ICE ON FIRE emphasizes the importance of an immediate, two-pronged approach to reversing the crisis: reducing carbon emissions through traditional renewable energy sources and new ones, like tidal energy, and implementing “drawdown” measures, focusing on methods for drawing down and sequestering carbon, including direct air capture, sea farms, urban farms, biochar, marine snow, bionic leaves and others. Director Leila Conners joins us to talk about the looming catastrophe and the emerging and encouraging techniques and technologies that can provide a sustainable path forward.
Underground filmmaker Barbara Rubin’s 1964 art-porn masterpiece “Christmas on Earth”, made when she was only 18 years old, shattered creative and sexist boundaries and shocked NYC’s experimental film scene. Working with Jonas Mekas at the Filmmaker’s Coop, Rubin was instrumental in creating NYC’s thriving underground film community and a rare female voice in a world of powerful men. A rebellious Zelig of the Sixties, she introduced Andy Warhol to the Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan to the Kabbalah. But beyond shaping the spirit of the Sixties, Barbara was seeking the deeper meaning of life. After retiring to a farm with Allen Ginsberg, she shocked everyone by becoming a Hasidic Jew. How and why did one of the 1960’s freest spirits submit to a religious life? For years, 94-year-old filmmaker Jonas Mekas has saved all of Barbara’s letters and cherished her memory. Working with Mekas’ footage and rare clips from the Andy Warhol archives, the film takes us inside the world and mind of Barbara Rubin; a woman who truly believed that film could change the world and then vanished into obscurity. Director Chuck Smith joins us for a conversation on the life and times of a gifted artistic protégé and the impact she had on the people who loved her.
“Barbara Rubin & the Exploding NY Underground,” an informative and overdue documentary… – Sheri Linden The Hollywood Reporter
“This bold, enthusiastic documentary details the unsung yet important role played by its subject in the 1960s artistic counterculture.” – Nick Schager Variety
“An evocative portrait of a vibrant and mysterious artist.It’s a riveting tale of an extraordinary, seemingly uncontrollable force, a supremely talented woman dealing with mental illness, a central figure in an artistic movement who was gone too soon.” – This Week in New York
…pound for pound, minute for minute, there are few biographical documentaries more impressive than this.” – Joshua Brunsting Criterioncast
In Richard Miron’s surprising and empathetic FOR THE BIRDS, we follow an unusual woman named Kathy who lives with 200 pet chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. What starts as a story seemingly about Kathy’s battle with local animal advocacy groups slowly transforms into an intimate drama about her relationship with her husband Gary, and the toll the birds have taken on their marriage and her well-being. Filmed over the course of five years, this sensitive tale of one woman’s world breaking down—poignant and absorbing in equal measure—is ultimately one of hope about the possibility of regaining one’s life. Director Richard Miron stops by to talk about winning the Murphy’s confidence and trust, following his filmmaker’s instinct to stay with a story with more than its share of twists and turns and crafting a compassionate portrait of beautifully flawed people.
Every Thursday Night hundreds of women gather for a potluck celebration and the chance to throw singles at the hottest dancers in New Jersey, The Nasty Boyz – featuring Satan, Mr. Capable, Fever, Young Rider and lesbian ‘dom’ dancer Blaze. THIS ONE’S FOR THE LADIES isn’t just about the tips or the dancing. It’s a heartwarming story of friendship and the resilience that comes from community. Hilarious, eye-opening, and breathtakingly sexy, THIS ONE’S FOR THE LADIES is a virtual how to guide for letting go of your troubles and having a good time. Director Gene Graham (The Godfather of Disco) joins us to talk about the respect he has for all of the people, patrons and strippers, in his film, how the film Magic Mike and the lack of people of color in it “inspired” his nuanced, multi-layer response.
A motorcycle cop, Officer Frank Shankwitz, is still haunted by the traumatic separation from his father when he was a boy. After surviving a near-fatal accident and being framed for police brutality, his whole world falls apart. Unexpectedly, he finds hope in the shape of a terminally ill boy, who reunites him with his father after 28 years. To honor the boy, he creates the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The cast of Wish Man includes Kirby Bliss Blanton (“Project X,”), Robert Pine (“CHiPs,” “Independence Day”), Danny Trejo(“Machete,” “Con Air”), Bruce Davison (“X-Men,” X”-Men 2,” “Longtime Companion”), Frank Whaley (“Pulp Fiction,” “Field of Dreams,” “The Doors”), Tom Sizemore (“Saving Private Ryan,” “Heat”), Dale Dickey (“Winter’s Bone,” “Hell or High Water,”), Larry Wilcox (“CHiPs,” “Lassie”), Fay Masterson (“Eyes Wide Shut,” “The Quick and the Dead,”), and Steven Michael Quezada (“Breaking Bad,””).The story of Frank Shankwitz is brought to life by director Theo Davies and the performance of Australian actor Andrew Steel as Frank Stankwitz.
Saturday, June 15 – Raceland, Director Scott Bloom
Raceland is the story of Blake and Lloyd, two old friends from the bayou. As kids they were thick as thieves and had the kind of close friendship that songs are written about. After being separated for a number of years, they’ve rekindled their friendship anew, present day. During a day of fishing, Lloyd is tragically injured and Blake steps up to nurse him back to health. It’s during their concentrated time alone together that they realize the love they had for each other back when they were kids, did not disappear… it’s just buried under years of social cues and macho veneer. Director, Producer and Writer Scott Bloom joins us to talk about the story behind Raceland, his own transition from documentary to narrative filmmaking and the film’s premiere at the Dances with Films Festival.
Wednesday June 18 – Gutterbug, Director Andrew Gibson
GUTTERBUG is a film about a young man’s human experience as he struggles with the demands of conformity. After running away from home, Bug finds his place in the underbelly of society, among the counter culture of anti-establishment street punks. He is driven by conflict: between morality and survival, life and death, love and anger, being a decent person and not giving a fuck. Homelessness, mental health, drug addiction, family and violence will carry our plot. His desire to cut ties with his past life is outweighed by a powerful pull back to true north, brought on by a series of sentimental flashbacks which spark a journey back to his family. Back to the only thing that makes life worth living. He could do without the possessions and he could do without a house, but he sees it is impossible to live without a home. Today is Bug’s birthday, this is his story. Director and writer Andrew Gibson stops by to talk about the guerrilla filmmaking that brought Gutterbug to life, hanging out with the “right” crowd and the upcoming West Coast premiere at the Dances with Films Festival Wednesday, June 19 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
Money, power, politics, drugs, scandal, and fast cars. The incredible story of John DeLorean is the stuff of a Hollywood screenwriter’s dreams. But who was the real John DeLorean? To some, he was a renegade visionary who revolutionized the automobile industry. To others, he was the ultimate con man. For the first time, Framing John DeLoreanrecounts the extraordinary life and legend of the controversial automaker, tracing his meteoric rise through the ranks of General Motors, his obsessive quest to build a sports car that would conquer the world, and his shocking fall from grace on charges of cocaine trafficking. Interweaving a treasure trove of archival footage with dramatic vignettes starring Alec Baldwin,Framing John DeLoreanis a gripping look at a man who gambled everything in his pursuit of the American Dream. Co-directors Don Argott (The Art of the Steal) and Sheena M. Joyce (The Atomic States of America) talk about the complex, brilliant and driven man behind the salacious headlines and explore with us just how far was he willing to go to realize his dreams.
“A smart, hook-filled blend of documentary and fictionalized re-enactments…” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times
“Framing John DeLorean deftly tells the bigger-than-life tale of one man’s bold quest to build a timeless sports car.” – Ryan McCaffrey, IGN Movies
“Most compelling of all are the interviews with the two people who come closest to answering, or at least addressing, the question that overwhelms this entire project: DeLorean’s daughter Kathryn and son Zach.” – ElizabethWeltzman, The Wrap
“Framing John DeLorean is an entertaining, high wire filmmaking experiment that does well by the controversial visionary at its centre.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate
The documentary FREE TRIP to EGYPT is the brainchild of Canadian-Egyptian entrepreneur Tarek Mounib to build a bridge of mutual understanding and friendship with the very people who fear him. Traveling across the United States to find Americans concerned about an Islamic threat, he makes them an intriguing offer – a free trip to Egypt. With initial reactions ranging from suspicion to hostility, Tarek Mounib embarks on a mission. Traveling from sunny California to a Trump Rally in Kentucky, from a small town in the heart of Georgia, to Union Square in NYC, they cobble together a diverse group of people – including a school teacher, police officer, Marine Corps veteran, single mom, preacher and beauty pageant queen. All have preconceptions and misgivings, but are open and courageous enough to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Arriving in Cairo, the Americans spend 10 days paired with locals just as diverse as them – and possibly with just as many misconceptions. What happens when a retired teacher and her husband are united with a young Egyptian revolutionary? Or when a Christian missionary and a born-again, former Miss Kentucky are housed with an orthodox Muslim family where the mother wears a burqa? Or when a police officer faces off with a radical, left-leaning journalist? The answers are provocative, surprising, funny, magical, emotional, revealing, enlightening and ultimately life-changing, in other words, all things human. When people look beyond their ethnicity, political affiliations, religious beliefs, economic status and connect at a human level, it¹s a transformative and universal message for everyone to come together and join the global #PledgeToListen initiative, a social media revolution of acceptance. Director Ingrid Serban and Producer Tarek Mounib talk about the challenges and rewards of working on the revelatory and heartwarming FREE TRIP to EGYPT.
Q&A immediately following 7:10 PM Screening withCreator/Producer Tarek Mounib and Director Ingrid Serban
“Gently observing how many of our fellow Americans are full of fear while trying, in its tiny way, to do something about that, Ingrid Serban’s Free Trip to Egypt offers just that to a handful of travelers.”– John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
THE LAVENDER SCARE is the first documentary film to tell the little-known story of an unrelenting campaign by the federal government to identify and fire all employees suspected of being homosexual. In 1953, President Eisenhower declared gay men and lesbians to be a threat to the security of the country and therefore unfit for government service. His directive triggered the longest witch hunt in American history. Over the next four decades, tens of thousands of government workers would lose their jobs for no reason other than their sexual orientation. But the actions of the government had an unintended effect. They inadvertently helped ignite the gay rights movement. In 1957, after thousands had lost their jobs, a Harvard-trained astronomer named Frank Kameny became the first person to fight his dismissal. His attempts to regain his job evolved into a lifelong fight for the rights of LGBT people. The Lavender Scare is a compelling story of one man’s fight for justice. And it is a chilling reminder of how easy it can be, during a time of fear and uncertainty, to trample the rights of an entire class of people in the name of patriotism and national security. Director Josh Howard (60 Minutes) joins us to talk about Senator Joseph McCarthy, scare tactics, blind prejudice and the willful destruction of thousands of peoples lives.
“Glenn Close’s voice-over is used to try to smooth over jumps forward and backward in time, but keeping all the players here in balance proves difficult for first-time director Josh Howard. – Dan Callahan, The Wrap
“This powerful doc is sadly all too relevant.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
“Thoroughly researched and evidenced, wonderfully detailed, informative and authoritative but always in touch with the human story at its heart. – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“The Lavender Scare is a must watch for everyone in today’s political climate regardless of sexual orientation.” – Beth McDonough, After Ellen
In the quietly powerful documentary, THE PROPOSAL, director Jill Magid explores the life, death and profoundly moving work of Luis Barragán.Known as “the artist among architects,” Barragán is among the world’s most celebrated architects of the 20th century. Upon his death in 1988, much of his work was locked away in a Swiss bunker, hidden from the world’s view. In an attempt to resurrect Barragán’s life and art, boundary redefining artist Jill Magid creates a daring proposition that becomes a fascinating artwork in itself—a high-wire act of negotiation that explores how far an artist will go to democratize access to art.
Director’s Statement – The Proposal is my first feature film and the last chapter of a larger project I began in 2013 called The Barragán Archives. The project explores the contested legacy of Luis Barragán, Mexico’s most famous architect, and how his legacy is affected by the fact that a private corporation, Vitra, owns his archives and controls the rights in his name and work. For more than twenty years, this corporation has made his work largely inaccessible to the public. The film questions whether a single actor should be exclusively in control of how the world can engage with Barragán’s work. Almost as an invitation for image-making, Barragán was known to adjust a buildings’ design so that it would photograph better. With this film, I wanted to capture the overwhelming beauty of his work while simultaneously questioning the legal challenges one faces to do so. The film is in itself a proposal: A way to elicit dialogue about access to legacy and its proprietary nature, and not simply if the proposal will be accepted.– Jill Magid.
“Captivatingly wily. ‘The Proposal’ meditates on the meaning of artistic legacy. Most of all, it shines an ingeniously media-savvy spotlight on Barragán’s work.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, THE NEW YORK TIMES – Critic’s Pick
“A thoughtful, elegantly hypnotic exploration of ownership, access, and moral responsibility. “A multi-layered and thought-provoking work of art. Magid’s inspired response to a complex situation makes for an intriguing and approachable film.” – Allan Hunter, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL
“The documentary doesn’t bring closure to her fight for Barragán’s archive, but it will work its way under a viewer’s skin and leave them with persistent ideas to consider.” – Dan Schindel, HYPERALLERGIC
With its measured pacing and haunting ambience, Magid’s hypnotic film is an engaging examination of artistry, diplomacy, and posterity at a crossroads.” – Manuel Betancourt, REMEZCLA
“Beguiling. An unforgettable consideration of who should have ownership of an artist’s legacy.” – Stephen Saito, MOVEABLE FEST
America’s first superstar designer, Halston rose to international fame in the1970s, creating an empire and personifying the dramatic social and sexual revolution of the last century. Reaching beyond the glamour and glitz, acclaimed filmmakers, Director Frédéric Tcheng and Producer Roland Ballester reveal Halston’s profound impact on fashion, culture, and business. HALSTONcaptures the epic sweep of the life and times of the legendary designer Roy Halston Frowick, the man who set women free with his unstructured designs and strove to “dress all of America.” Framing the story as an investigation featuring actress and writer Tavi Gevinson as a young archivist diving into the Halston company records, Tcheng expertly weaves rare archival footage and intimate interviews with Halston’s family, friends and collaborators including Jacqueline Kennedy, Liza Minelli, Andy Warhol and Iman. What results is a behind-the-headlines look into the thrilling struggle between Halston’s artistic legacy and the pressures of big business. Director Frédéric Tcheng and Producer Roland Ballester join us to talk about a designer, artist and fashion mogul who drove himself as fast and as far as anyone before him.
“Halston is thrilling stuff for fashion nerds, as well as a poignant character study of a misfit ultimately undone by an excessive hunger to prove himself.” – Variety
“The expansive scope of this tribute seems entirely fitting for an industry giant who put America on the global fashion map.” – The Hollywood Reporter
“This film was an amazing exploration of an artist who lived to create. When his work was devalued, he had nothing to live for anymore. Tcheng does Halston proud, honoring his life’s work in this very entertaining dramocumentary.” – Katrina Olson, Calgary Movies
“Halston is tailor-made for fashionistas. Frédéric Tcheng’s breezy, docudrama offers a serious assessment of the fashion designer’s achievements, accessorised with enough gossip, conflict and celebrity to attract a wider audience.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
ARTIFISHAL is a film about wild rivers and wild fish. It explores the high cost – ecological, financial and cultural – of our mistaken belief that engineered solutions can make up for habitat destruction. The film traces the impact of fish hatcheries and farms, and the extraordinary amount of American taxpayer dollars wasted on an industry that hinders wild fish recovery, pollutes our rivers, and contributes to the problem it claims to solve. ARTIFISHAL also dives beneath the surface of the open-water fish farm controversy, as citizens work to stop the damage done to public waters and our remaining wild salmon. Director Josh Murphy joins us for a conversation on the devastating consequences that fish hatcheries are having on the salmon and other native species, the damage being done vital eco-systems and the enormous cost of a failed system.
Call to Action:
Wild salmon and southern resident killer whales are on the brink of extinction. Now a misguided plan to feed the starving whales with hatchery salmon will push both endangered species closer to the edge, while costing taxpayers millions of dollars per year. Hatcheries and over harvest, along with net-pen fish farms and dams, are key contributors to the catastrophic decline of wild Chinook salmon and southern resident killer whales in the Pacific Northwest. Now, Washington state’s Orca Task Force recommendations include a plan to “feed the orcas” with 60 million more hatchery salmon per year. The proposed budget requests up to $87 million dollars to fund this plan for 10 years. Science tells us this won’t work: orcas need larger wild salmon, while adding more hatchery fish further weakens the wild-salmon gene pool. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) have the power to make this change.Patagonia’s petition calls on NOAA Regional Administrator Barry Thom, WDFW Director Kelly Susewind, and our elected decision makers to stop wasting money on failed plans and invest in science-based solutions: reduce hatchery production, remove dams and change how we harvest salmon.
In the late 1980s, the Detroit Red Wings hockey team was a laughing stock, often called the “Dead Wings.” After a wealthy pizza magnate bought the failing franchise, he appointed an unorthodox General Manager to build a championship team. Throwing off conventional wisdom, the new GM looked to America’s mortal enemy in the Cold War, the Soviet Union itself. Through a plot that sounds like a spy novel, the Red Wings organization brought on one Russian after another, sneaking them out under cover of night and whisking them to the Motor City, only to find that the new players faced another problem: Integration. THE RUSSIAN FIVE follows the stories of the five Russian players that emigrated to America, took root in Detroit, Michigan, and struggled to fit in, all while training day and night to become Stanley Cup champions. The new immigrants had to learn to communicate with their teammates, assimilate into the culture, and become Americans. THE RUSSIAN FIVE is the true story of immigrants that became American heroes, teammates that became family, and a scrappy, resilient city that became Stanley Cup Champions, twice. It’s a story about hopes and dreams becoming reality, and the harsh reality of dreaming big. The names Fedorov, Larionov, Fetisov, Kozlov, and Konstantinov are legend now in the Motor City and their influence is still felt throughout the National Hockey League today. Director Joshua Riehl stops by to talk about the long and winding journey of five gifted athletes who changed the course of North American hockey.
“One of the most dramatic and emotional of sports stories gets the expert film it deserves in “The Russian Five,” a documentary that is moving in ways you won’t see coming.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“It’s a story fans already know well, but “The Russian Five” lays it out in a compelling, easily digestible fashion. And it shows how without a major assist from Russia, Detroit would have never become Hockeytown.” – Adam Graham, Detroit News
“I know a good story when I see one and … this new passionately-realized debut feature from director Joshua Riehl got me involved in its sport, its personalities and its man-made mythos.” – Glenn Dunks, The FIlm Experience
“Timely, insightful, well-structured and thoughtful…” – Michael Ward, Should I See It