Under the guidance of acclaimed South African storyteller, Gcina Mhlophe, five orphaned children from Swaziland collaborate to craft a collective fairytale drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character, LIYANA is brought to life in innovative animated artwork as she embarks on a perilous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. The children’s real and imagined worlds begin to converge, and they must choose what kind of story they will tell – in fiction and in their own lives. This genre-defying film weaves an original animated hero’s journey with poetic documentary scenes to create an inspiring tale of perseverance. LIYANA is a tribute to creativity, the strength of the human spirit, and the healing power storytelling.Critically acclaimed, and executive produced by award-winning actress, Thandie Newton, LIYANA has won more than 25 jury and audience awards and screened at more than 80 film festivals around the world including the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival and MoMA’s Doc Fortnight. Co-directors Amanda and Aaron Kopp join us for a conversation on their enchanting, inspiring and wildly creative film.
For 33 months, from 1978 to 1980, STUDIO 54 was the place to be seen in Manhattan. A haven of hedonism, tolerance, glitz and glamour, Studio was very hard to gain entrance to and impossible to ignore, with news of who was there filling the gossip columns daily. Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, two college friends from Brooklyn, succeeded in creating the ultimate escapist fantasy in the heart of the theater district. Rubell was the outgoing bon vivant who wanted to be everybody’s friend and was photographed with every celebrity du jour who entered the club and Schrager was the behind-the-scenes creative mastermind who shunned the limelight. STUDIO 54 was an instant success and a cash cow, but the drug-and-sex-fueled dream soon imploded in financial scandal and the club’s demise. With unprecedented access to Schrager, who tells the whole unvarnished story for the first time, and a treasure-trove of rare footage, director Matt Tyrnauer (Valentino: The Last Emperor, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood, Citizen Jane) constructs a vivid, glorious portrait of a disco-era phenomenon, and tells the story of two friends who stuck together through an incredible series of highs and lows.A favorite at the Sundance and Tribeca film festivals, STUDIO 54 Director Matt Tyrnauer joins us to talk about his fascinating documentary look at the rise and fall of the legendary ‘70s New York nightclub.
“Studio 54 is resonant because it offers such a reasonable and poignant answer.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“Matt Tyrnauer’s thrilling and definitive documentary captures the delirium – and the dark side – of the legendary New York disco.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“It’s a cultural piece of history that paints a picture of an era of New York that had a significant effect on the world. And it goes without saying, changed the nightclub industry forever.” – Dante James, Film Threat
“A hugely entertaining exploration of the mythology of the legendary nightclub as something truly worth celebrating, and a towering Scorsese-esque drama of the men who invented it brought down by hubris.” – MaryAnn Johanson
On the streets of Baltimore, shooting is rampant, the murder rate is approaching an all-timehigh and the distrust of the police is at a fever pitch. With nerves frayed and neighborhoods in distress, dedicated community leaders, compassionate law-enforcement officers and a progressive young city councilman try to stem the epidemic of violence. Filmed over three tumultuous years covering the lead up to, and aftermath of, Freddie Gray’s death in police custody, CHARM CITY is an intimate cinema verité portrait of those surviving in, and fighting for, the vibrant city they call home. Director and producer Marilyn Ness (Cameraperson; Trapped; E-Team), and film subject Alex Long join us to talk about the work of the Rose Street Community Center in providing the basic services; trash collection, gang mediation and his own brand of de-escalation training, and bring a sense of hope to a neighborhood known as the “Middle East.”
“The film captures up close the way violence transforms neighborhoods and families with an immediacy that transcends headlines or sensationalism.” – Ben Kenigberg, New York Times
“Even when the epidemic of violence touches a beloved character, Ness’ careful quilting of compassion and action across her years of filming suggests a fight that won’t diminish for these citizens.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
“It all adds up to an even-handed issue film featuring those who are working to change the face of one of the U.S.’s most violent cities.” – Tanner Tafelski, Village Voice
The hard-hitting new documentary Fail State explores how tens of thousands of unsuspecting students fall victim to predatory and fraudulent for-profit colleges each year. These profit-driven schools are high tuition, low-quality, often lack proper accreditation, or are so poor in reputation that employers do not recognize their credentials. What’s more, these colleges derive nearly all of their revenue—tens of billions of dollars a year—from the federal government in the form of student financial aid. Executive produced by news legend Dan Rather, Fail State investigates the dark side of American higher education, chronicling the decades of policy decisions in Washington, D.C. that have given rise to a powerful and highly-predatory for-profit college industry. With echoes of the subprime mortgage crisis, the film lays bare how for-profit colleges exploit millions of low-income and minority students, leaving them with worthless degrees and drowning in student loan debt. Director Alexander Shebanow joins us to talk about the rise, fall, and resurgence of the for-profit college industry, revealing its Wall Street Backing and the lawmakers enabling widespread fraud and abuse in American higher education.
“At a time when the US is beginning to reckon with the economic and social costs of having an undereducated population, Fail State is a useful contribution to ongoing debates.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“[Fail State] remains a truly eye-opening and crucial exposé of yet another way, not unlike during last decade’s subprime mortgage crisis, that vulnerable Americans get hurt just by trying to better their lives.” – Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles
John Zbikowski (Michael Kelly) is a down-on-his-luck, small town bookie having a hard time collecting on outstanding debts. After a one night stand with an ex-girlfriend (Pamela Adlon), John strikes up an unlikely friendship with her 12-year old son, Brian (Jesse Ray Sheps), and develops a plan to recoup the money owed to him by taking bets on Brian’s Youth League Baseball games. Written by Timothy Brady and directed by John Hyams, All Square features a line up of first rate actors that include;Michael Kelly (“House of Cards”), Jesse Ray Sheps (Collateral Beauty), Josh Lucas (Home Sweet Alabama), Pamela Adlon (Californication, Louie), Tom Everett Scott, Isiah Whitlock Jr, Yeardley (The Simpsons). Director John Hyams joins us to talk about his funny, messy and endearing story of a man trying hard to not wear his heart on his sleeve.
Winner – 2018 SXSW Film Festival – Audience Award
Winner – 2018 Narrative at Monmouth Film Festival – Best Feature
Winner – 2018 Newport Beach Film Festival – Best Film
Winner – 2018 Newport Beach Film Festival – Best Screenplay, Timothy Brady
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Kelly is a king among mordant underplayers. Yulin, a stalwart character actor, is reliably terrific. Adlon and Josh Lucas bring added value to their also-familiar characters.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times
“A casually profane and frequently uproarious working-class dramedy about a small-time bookie who turns a big profit – for a while – by taking bets on Little League games.” – Joe Leydon, Variety
“Kelly gets a well-earned leading man turn in the amiable indie comedy-drama “All Square” playing a surly, but likable bookie in a small Maryland town.” – Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times
“All Square is proof that Hyams is way more than just an “action movie director”, and can work well with a talented ensemble of performers, while still exploring the surface of their universe with a documentarian’s eye for East Coast life.” – Jacob Knight, Birth.Movies.Death.
Drawn from a cache of personal video recordings from the past 22 years, director Steve Loveridge’s Sundance award winning MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. is a startlingly personal profile of the critically acclaimed artist, chronicling her remarkable journey from refugee immigrant to pop star. She began as Matangi. Daughter of the founder of Sri Lanka’s armed Tamil resistance, she hid from the government in the face of a vicious and bloody civil war. When her family fled to the UK, she became Maya, a precocious and creative immigrant teenager in London. Finally, the world met her as M.I.A. when she emerged on the global stage, having created a mashup, cut-and-paste identity that pulled from every corner of her journey along the way; a sonic sketchbook that blended Tamil politics, art school punk, hip-hop beats and the unwavering, ultra-confident voice of a burgeoning multicultural youth. Never one to compromise on her vision, Maya kept her camera rolling throughout. MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. provides unparalleled, intimate access to the artist in her battles with the music industry and mainstream media as her success and fame explodes, becoming one of the most recognizable, outspoken and provocative voices in music today. Director Steve Loveridge joins us to talk about his long-time friendship with Mathangi Arulpragasam AKA Matangi / Maya / M.I.A. and how that friendship was tested during the making of this revelatory, illuminating window into her world.
“If there is one note that rings clear through all the xeroxed, glitchy, abrasive background noise, it is that of authenticity and sincerity.” – Jessica Kiang, Playlist
“Inspires deep respect for the fierce and independent artist she is.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“It is the synthesis of these contradictions, and how they’ve illuminated M.I.A.’s career path that makes up the spine of Loveridge’s fascinating portrait.” – Piotr Orlov, NPR
“Loveridge celebrates the mashup aesthetic that enabled the artist to find a voice, and reveals that reconciling contradictions… is key to both Arulpragasam’s music and the life she’s constructed with audacity and wit.” – Serena Donadoni, LA Weekly
SADIE is the story of a 13-year-old girl who lives at Shady Plains Trailer Park with her mother while her father serves repeated tours in the military. Her dad has broken many promises that he will return, but Sadie (Sophia Mitri Schloss) idolizes him and believes in his cause, so she waits, preserving his place on the home-front. Less patient is her mom, Rae (Melanie Lynskey) who stopped receiving letters or calls from her husband years ago. She has been half-heartedly dating the counselor from Sadie’s school, Bradley (Tony Hale) but it isn’t until a mysterious newcomer moves in next door that she truly considers moving on. Rae’s best friend is Carla (Danielle Brooks,) who works at the local bar and has a penchant for unavailable men. Carla’s son Francis (Keith L. Williams) and her retired father Deak (Tee Dennard) are Sadie’s charge and confidante, respectively. The arrival of Cyrus (John Gallagher, Jr.) disrupts the balance of life at Shady Plains. When Sadie sees a relationship developing between Cyrus and Rae, she pledges to come between them, whatever it takes. Cyrus becomes the enemy, and if she’s learned nothing else from the world she inhabits, it’s that the enemy deserves no mercy. Director and Writer Megan Griffiths joins us to talk about her gritty, heartfelt drama about class, addiction and growing up on the margins.
”Equal parts coming-of-age story and slow-burn thriller, writer-director Megan Griffiths’ quietly absorbing and methodically disquieting drama is a genuine rarity.” – Joe Leydon, Variety
“…as a character study of a young, simmering, resentful girl cheated by circumstance and life at a crucial age, the drama’s combative, aggrieved center is earned, authentic and genuinely tragic.” – Ally Johnson, The Playlist
“Set in the close-knit, secret-filled world of a trailer park, the film is an emotionally violent coming-of-age story crafted with vivid detail.” – John Fink, The Film Stage
“By once again venturing into a place that few too other filmmakers are willing to look, Griffiths delivers a drama that crackles with a sense of discovery, not only for the characters onscreen, but for audiences who so rarely see people who could so easily be their neighbors given the dignity of having their stories told on screen.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest
When Elan and Jonathan lose their beloved grandmother, Annette Ontell, they face a profound question: When a loved one dies, what do we do with the things they leave behind? Housewife, fashion designer, and beloved family member, Ontell lived seven decades in the same house—306 Hollywood Avenue in Hillside, New Jersey. Turning documentary on its head, the Bogaríns embark on a magical-realist journey to discover who their grandmother really was, transforming her cluttered New Jersey home of 71 years into a visually exquisite ruin where tchotchkes become artifacts, and the siblings become archaeologists. By turns elegiac, celebratory, and edgy, with extrapolations ranging from the Rockefellers to Rome, 306 Hollywood moves unexpectedly but inevitably, like a beautiful murmuration of birds. With help from physicists, curators and archivists—and the added inspiration of a decade of interviews with the vivacious octogenarian herself—they excavate the extraordinary universe contained in Annette’s home. 306 HOLLYWOOD playfully transforms the dusty fragments of an unassuming life into an epic metaphor for the nature of time, memory and history Co-directors Jonathan Bogarín (Elan) joins us for a conversation on celebrating family, peering into the unknown, why understanding the past can help us live better in the present.
“The movie’s blend of charm and philosophical inquiry makes it at once structurally daring and a total crowd-pleaser, sure to find appreciative audiences who will see echoes of their own clutter-filled lives in its story.” – Eric Kohn, Indiewire
“One of the more universal and relatable films you’re ever likely to see. It’s such a little story you may wonder about why it was being told at all, except that it’s a story likelyto touch anybody who has ever lost a loved one, which makes it a very big story.” – Daniel Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter
“It’s unforgettable. 306 HOLLYWOOD feels like a whole new way of tackling documentaries. This ‘magical-realist doc’ pushes subjectivity into poetry.” – Tasha Robinson The Verge
“Part biopic, part magical-realist rumination, the two [filmmakers] offer the genre a new format and the ordinary a beautiful homage.” – Deanna Janes, Harper’s Bazaar
Nina Geld is an up-and-comingcomedian in New York City. She’s funny, smart and has worked hard to build a career for herself in the male-dominated world of stand-up. When it comes to romantic relationships though, Nina’s life is a mess. When we meet her, she has picked up a random guy in a bar and brought him home, only to find Joe, a married policeman, waiting for her against her wishes. Unable to stand-up for herself, Nina sleeps with Joe again, bringing up old issues of self-hatred. Nina decides to focus on work and later gets Larry Michaels, producer of the legendary television show, Comedy Prime, to come see Nina’s stand-up. Amazingly, he asks Nina to audition! She will need to create characters impersonations and move to LA to audition. In LA, she meets Rafe Hines, a dream-come-true, quintessential good-guy who makes all of Nina feel good. But when Joe shows up in LA unexpectedly Nina has to deal with her past. Finally confronting the truth in such a public setting has terrifying and unexpectedly liberating consequences. Director / Producer / Writer Eva Vives joins us for a conversation on her sharp-edged, drama about a woman driven by demons, trauma and a dark need to embrace her pain.
“Vives’ filmmaking is confident, threading the needle on some emotionally complex scenes, but the film works because of Winstead’s bravura performance, taking Nina to a place of raw, deep emotional honesty.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“A striking and at times uncomfortably personal feature debut from writer-director Eva Vives that makes good on its title by not shying away from the emotional damage that makes its protagonist so compelling.” – Peter Debruge, Variety
“The movie is carried by Winstead’s mesmerizingly mercurial performance, and not just because she does pitch-perfect impressions of, among others, Kristen Stewart and Werner Herzog.” – Ella Taylor, NPR
“There are three main reasons you should seek out Nina: The phenomenal Winstead, a refreshing female character that manages to be truly hilarious, and a script that keeps a wonderful balance of humor and pain.” – Kristy Strouse, Film Inquiry
The Sentence draws from hundreds of hours of footage, filmmaker Rudy Valdez shows the aftermath of his sister Cindy’s 15-year sentence for conspiracy charges related to crimes committed by her deceased ex-boyfriend—something known, in legal terms, as “the girlfriend problem.” Valdez’s method of coping with this tragedy is to film his sister’s family for her, both the everyday details and the milestones—moments Cindy herself can no longer share in. But in the midst of this nightmare, Valdez finds his voice as both a filmmaker and activist, and he and his family begin to fight for Cindy’s release during the last months of the Obama administration’s clemency initiative. Whether their attempts will allow Cindy to break free of her draconian sentence becomes the aching question at the core of this deeply personal portrait of a family in crisis. Director Rudy Valdez stops by to talk about his intimate, and loving family saga that support each other no matter the cost.
**WINNER: Sundance 2018 Audience Award: U.S. Documentary**
**WINNER: 2018 Traverse City Film Festival Roger Ebert Prize For Best Film By A First Time Filmmaker**
**2018 Locarno International Film Festival Official Selection**
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“THE SENTENCE is poised to do for unjust sentencing what AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH did for climate change. If Al Gore was the hero Americans at Sundance and beyond needed in 2005 — a welcoming, professorial face to associate with the fight against environmental catastrophe — Shank and her daughters offer the criminal justice equivalent, giving a human access point to what many experts describe as a sociological disaster.”– Steven Zeitchik, The Washington Post
“The Sentence is so committed to its concentration on emotion and heart that it’s difficult not to get carried away and it feels almost churlish to quibble with the intellectual responses it barely aspires to.” – Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter
“The Sentence is a powerful film full of rich, raw emotions as all parties explore their vulnerabilities.” – John Fink, The Film Stage
For four decades, the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) has maintained its position as a vital showcase of the global film community, attracting iconic red-carpet talent, emerging filmmakers, passionate audiences and astutely curated premieres. A destination event for film lovers, drawn by an exciting, diverse program of mainstream studio features and independent visions from around the world, set against the stunning backdrop of Northern California, MVFF also hosts an impressive array of panels, conversations, receptions, parties and live music performances, featuring many of the most acclaimed and in-demand artists and industry professionals of our time. With a reputation for launching new films and creating awards season buzz, MVFF has a knack for spotting emerging talent as well as drawing legendary artists. Known as the filmmaker’s festival, MVFF welcomes more than 200 filmmakers and guests from around the world and has hosted such luminaries as Nicole Kidman, Holly Hunter, Ang Lee, Todd Haynes, Mira Nair, Brie Larson, Costa-Gavras, Damien Chazelle, Marcel Ophuls, Amy Adams, Steve McQueen and Greta Gerwig. Mill Valley Film Festival Director of Programming Zoe Elton, joins us to talk about “the filmmaker’s festival,” and this year’s exciting line-up of documentary, foreign, animated, short and narrative films.
BISBEE ’17 is a non-fiction feature film by Sundance award winning director Robert Greene set in Bisbee, Arizona, an eccentric old mining town just miles away from both Tombstone and the Mexican border. Radically combining documentary and genre elements, the film follows several members of the close knit community as they collaborate with the filmmakers to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Bisbee Deportation, where 1,200 immigrant miners were violently taken from their homes by a deputized force, shipped to the desert on cattle cars and left to die. Bisbee was once known as a White Man’s Camp, and that racist past lingers in the air. As we meet the townspeople, they begin to confront the violent past of the Deportation, a long-buried secret in the old company town. As the 100th anniversary of Bisbee’s darkest day approaches, locals dress as characters on both sides of the still-polarizing event, staging dramatic recreations of scenes from the escalating miner’s strike that lead to the Deportation. Spaces in town double as past and present; re-enactors become ghosts in the haunted streets of the old copper camp. Richard plays the sheriff in a Western, Fernando portrays a Mexican miner in a Musical, a local politician is in her own telenovela. These and other enacted fantasies mingle with very real reckonings and it all builds towards a massive re-staging of the Deportation itself on the exact day of its centennial anniversary. Director Robert Greene (Actress, Kate Plays Christine) joins us for a conversation on his latest provocative and compelling new film.
“‘Even though “Bisbee ’17′ depicts a wholesome and harmonious community undertaking, it is a profoundly haunted and haunting film.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times
“The director purposefully pulls us this way and that, weaving cinematic spells and then yanking us out of them; as viewers, we are both inside and outside the story.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice
“The film is rich and multifaceted, as Greene employs an array of styles (historical reenactments, direct cinema-style portraiture, musical numbers) to investigate the complex relationship between Bisbee’s past and present.” – Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader
“The result is a singularly American riff on The Act of Killing, a fascinating and dream-like mosaic that’s less driven by residual anger than by cockeyed concern, less interested in exhuming the past than in revealing its value to the present.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“Bisbee ’17 is a fierce, lyrical probe into the soul of a town haunted by a history it would rather forget. It’s also an unsettling cipher for America, in a year when the ghosts of our past revealed themselves in frightening ways.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
It’s the Summer of ’87, and Gio (Spencer Boldman), an Italian kid from Queens, has little on his mind but cars and girls. Gio thinks he’s got it all figured out until he meets Jessica (Emily Ratajkowski), a nice Jewish girl from Long Island who likes to go undercover for illicit thrills on the wrong side of the tracks. An affectionate look at the youth culture of a bygone era, CRUISE celebrates the joys of muscle cars, Motorola pagers and endless summer nights.CRUISE also stars Sebastian Maniscalco, Lucas Salvagno, Kathrine Narducci, Noah Robbins, and Gino Cafarelli. Director and writer Robert Siegel (Big Fan, The Wrestler and The Founder) joins us to talk about his coming-of-age story, his own attraction to outsider culture and the scarcity of red-blooded American actors.
After marrying a successful Parisian writer known commonly as “Willy” (Dominic West), Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) is transplanted from her childhood home in rural France to the intellectual and artistic splendor of Paris. Soon after, Willy convinces Colette to ghostwrite for him. She pens a semi-autobiographical novel about a witty and brazen country girl named Claudine, sparking a bestseller and a cultural sensation. After its success, Colette and Willy become the talk of Paris and their adventures inspire additional Claudine novels. Colette’s fight over creative ownership and gender roles drives her to overcome societal constraints, revolutionizing literature, fashion and sexual expression. Director and screenwriter Wash Westmoreland stops by to talk about the story behind a remarkable trailblazing feminist, writer, performer and cultural icon whose influence has inspired artists for the last 100 years.
“Knightley is exceedingly well-equipped to carry this magnificent film on her own — an Oscar-nominated performance for sure.” – Jeanne Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan
“A witty, spirited portrait of the great French writer and libertine during the early Belle Époque years of her career.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“This timely and gorgeously shot account of a beloved French writer foregrounds Colette’s remarkable freedom from conventional norms as she finds her artistic voice.” – Erica Abeel, Film Journal International
“At first presenting itself as a tightly corseted Big Eyes set during the Belle Époque, Colette erupts into a fun, frothy, and unmistakably feminist biopic.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“The film has a towering performance from Keira Knightley, who plays Colette with such warmth and fiery feminism, that it would be hard not to make woman’s past run parallel with today’s world.” – Jordan Ruimy, The Playlist
The International Documentary Association (IDA) is dedicated to building and serving the needs of a thriving documentary culture. Through its programs, the IDA provides resources, creates community, and defends rights and freedoms for documentary artists, activists, and journalists. IDA is the only group advocating specifically for the documentary filmmaking community. In many ways, this makes IDA’s advocacy work the most important and relevant work we do. Documentary storytelling expands our understanding of shared human experience, fostering an informed, compassionate, and connected world. The Enterprise Documentary Fund is one of the many logistical and financial programs offered by IDA.
About the Enterprise Documentary Fund:
“In the face of an all-out assault on the press, IDA is committed to standing behind the independent storytellers and watchdogs that make up our community—in large part, through the newly created Enterprise Documentary Fund. Made possible by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the fund will disburse $1 million per year for the next four years, in the form of production grants up to $100,000 and development grants up to $15,000. The fund is intended to support primarily mid-career filmmakers producing feature-length, in-depth explorations of original, contemporary stories with a journalistic foundation or that incorporate journalistic practice into the filmmaking process. The mission of the Enterprise Documentary Fund is admittedly ambitious: It seeks to provide valuable resources and support systems (not unlike those in newsrooms) for filmmakers taking on the critical stories of our time. Originally sparked by the findings in “Dangerous Documentaries,” the fund is a response to pleas from filmmakers themselves. In interviews recently conducted by Toni Bell, IDA’s Filmmaker Services Manager, filmmakers reiterated the major findings in “Dangerous Docs”: They want access to information about digital and physical security, research databases, legal and other experts, public relations strategists and mentors. Exercising our rights to free speech and freedom of the press are critical for a healthy democracy. As I write this, these rights are clearly under assault, and we owe it to ourselves and to the public to staunchly call ourselves journalists and artists—they are not mutually exclusive.” – Carrie Lozano, Director of the Enterprise Documentary Fund
Chicago’s Oak Park and River Forest High School’s (OPRF) student population encompasses a racial, economic and cultural mix that reflects the nation as a whole. Located in a mostly affluent, progressive suburb, the school attracts families of all races and means, many of whom make great sacrifices to secure their children a place there. But even in this diverse and liberal community, ensuring an educational experience that equally benefits all students poses challenges for the school’s dedicated and well-meaning teachers, administrators and parents. In the multipart unscripted documentary series AMERICA TO ME, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interupters, Life Itself, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail) and his team follow a diverse selection of the school’s 3,400 students, including artists, athletes, scholars, underachievers and iconoclasts, to present an indelible account of their dreams, fears, triumphs and aspirations. Posing complex and controversial questions, the film wrestles with crucial issues, including the effects of race and privilege on education as seen through the eyes of young Americans on the precipice of adulthood. Candid and relatable portraits of 12 students who are just beginning to come into their own provide moving insights into the teenage search for personal identity in today’s world. Director Steve James joins us with his impressions on the state of secondary education, how best to facilitate better outcomes for students and the role racial stereotyping plays in achieving success.
“The 10-part documentary series from Steve James (Hoop Dreams) is profound and thoughtful, taking a detailed look at inequality in America through the lens of a storied high school in Chicago.” – Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic
“[America to Me] is an invaluable look at where inequity begins, as well as the difficulty of getting to the place where it ends.” – James Poniewozik
“Even in a series this expansive, you keep wishing you could spend more time with more people, but its scope allows James and his team to show both victories and defeats fade into the past, how fragile and yet how resilient its protagonists can be.” – Sam Adams, Slate
“[James] captures the specific moments that are hard to explain without being there – like a young black girl who feels uncomfortable with a white teacher’s constant attempts to relate to her – and the larger systemic issues that are harder to upend.” – Ben Travers, IndieWire
Hailed by critics as “immensely likeable,” “brilliant and quirky” and an “ode to the teenage science geeks on whom our future depends,” and winner of the audience award at Sundance and SXSW, National Geographic Documentary Films’ SCIENCE FAIR follows nine high school students from around the globe as they navigate rivalries, setbacks and, of course, hormones, on their journey to compete at The International Science and Engineering Fair. As 1,700 of the smartest, quirkiest teens from 78 different countries face off, only one will be named Best in Fair. The film, from Fusion and Muck Media and directed by the DuPont Award-winning and Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaking team Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster, offers a front seat to the victories, defeats and motivations of an incredible group of young men and women who are on a path to change their lives, and the world, through science. Co-directors Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster join us to talk about their entertaining, enlightening and heart-warming film.
“Endlessly delightful.” – David Edelstein, New York Magazine
“A work of profound cinematic joy, Science Fair is a winner.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail
“INSPIRATIONAL AND INVIGORATING.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“It’s as irresistibly entertaining, inspirational and emotionally engrossing as Spellbound. You don’t have to be into science to be entertained, moved or enlightened by Science Fair. It’s one of the best documentaries of the year.” – Avi Offer, The NYC Movie Guru
“The ultimate crowd-pleaser.” – DeAnna Janes, Harper’s Bazaar
“Unfailingly charming.” – Teo Bugbee, The New York Times
America has the most technologically advanced health care system in the world, yet preventable medical harm has become one of the leading causes of death, and the overwhelming majority of high-risk implanted devices never require a single clinical trial. In THE BLEEDING EDGE, Academy Award nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (THE INVISIBLE WAR, THE HUNTING GROUND) turn their sights on the $400 billion medical device industry, examining lax regulations, corporate cover-ups, and profit driven incentives that put patients at risk daily.Weaving emotionally powerful stories of people whose lives have been irrevocably harmed, the film asks: what life-saving technologies may actually be killing us? Director Kirby Dick and Producer Amy Ziering join us for a conversation on the lack of integrity in the medical device industry, lax regulatory oversight by the Federal Food and Drug Administration and the potentially deadly combination that it can become.
Written and directed by internationally acclaimed filmmaker and Peabody Award winner, Leon Lee, LETTER FROM MASANJIA is an astonishing & riveting documentary follows the true story of an Oregon woman who finds a desperate SOS letter penned by a political prisoner in her Halloween decorations and the nail-biting chain of events that it sparks when she takes the letter public, exposing appalling flagrant human rights violations – that leads to sweeping labor reform in China. The impact of what those two unlikely heroes have accomplished is even more profound in today’s rapidly boiling over political climate, not just in China but around the rest of the world. LETTER FROM MASANJIA is a devastating tale of human rights violations in current day China with corporate giants across the globe receiving prisoner labor efforts for Halloween decorations, asking no questions in a price for pennies on the dollar. This is the tale of one political prisoners desperate plea to alert the world to horrors most of society sweeps under the carpet. Director and writer Leon Lee stops by to talk about the hundreds of thousands of people currently incarcerated in labor camps, and the millions more living in fear as well as the people resisting a totalitarian regime.
This Teacher follows a French Muslim woman (Cesar-winnerHafsia Herzi) as she travels to New York City to visit her childhood best friend from the rough neighborhoods outside of Paris. When the reunion proves disastrous, Hafsia steals her friend’s credit card and identity, and disappears to a remote cabin upstate. Deep in the woods and alone for the first time in her life, she experiences a divine revelation of an existence without borders. But when she discovers that she’s not alone on the property, Hafsia’ssojourn in nature gradually descends into a terrifying study of the intolerance and suspicion she encounters and reflects back to an Islamophobic America.Written and directed by Mark Jackson featuring a score composed from the Grammy nominated Dave Eggar, the film stars: Cesar-winner Hafsia Herzi (The Secret of the Grain) Sarah Kazemy (Circumstance) Lucy Walters (Power), Kevin Kane (Inside Amy Schumer), and Lev Gorn (The Americans). Jackson’s previous films have won 17 awards including an Independent Spirit Award and a Gotham Nomination. Jackson is also a Sundance, Cinereach and Skywalker Sound Fellow. Director and writer Mark Jackson (War Story, Without) joins us for a conversation on This Teachers’ premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival, intolerance and not being afraid to love.
This Teacher (LAFF World Premiere screening at September 22nd, 2018 at 4pm (with red carpet media check-in at 3pm) at ArcLight Culver City.
The Wrong Todd – Directed by Rob Schulbaum
Resistant to change, Todd (Jesse Rosen) finds himself at a crossroads when his girlfriend Lucy (Anna Rizzo) is offered a promotion on the other side of the country. Before he can decide whether to stay or go, Todd’s evil twin from a parallel universe arrives to take his place, and Todd must face the prospect of a world without Lucy.With the reluctant help of Lucy’s brother, Dave (Sean Carmichael), Lucy and Todd must confront the barriers to their relationship, their perception of self, and the laws of the universe itself to distinguish the wrong Todd from the right one. The Wrong Todd is a new take on a sci-fi-fi comedy drama with the added bonus of an evil twin from a parallel universe. The Wrong Todd is about championing love, accepting change, and realizing what you’ve taken for granted before it truly is too late.Inspired by the works of Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day)The Wrong Toddanswer the question so many people think but never articulate “what is wrong with me?” Starring Jesse Rosen (The Art of Being Straight), Anna Rizzo (Lost in Bloom), Sean Carmichael (Trinity), Derek K. Moore (Ghostbusters), and Erin Rose. Director Rob Schulbaum (Family Guy), joins us to talk about his directorial debut.
We The Coyotes – Co-directors Hanna Ladoul and Marco La Via
Making the films USA debut (it world premiered in the Acid section of Cannes this spring), We The Coyotes by first-time feature filmmakers Hanna Ladoul and Marco La Via, was inspired by the adventure and challenges of their own early days in Los Angeles. Enveloped in the love bubble a young couple, played by Morgan Saylor (Homeland) and McCaul Lombardi (Sollers Point), arrive from their cross-country trip from the midwest to stay with her aunt Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad), where we continually see them encounter the challenges of their first day in Los Angeles.The city is as much a character in this intimate drama as this young couple, as they find their hopes often crushed under the realities of what you encounter in any major city, much less the city of dreams.Not unlike countless twenty-somethings over the decades, our westward-bound couple in We The Coyotes arrive in Los Angeles with half-formed plans and half-empty pockets, but we see how tensions bend and shape them while the will to survive drives them on. Co-directors Hanna Ladoul and Marco La Via stop by to talk about their unvarnished, thought provoking film.
On the night of the 2016 Presidential election, Cass, (Omari Hardwick) an L.A. club promoter, takes a thrilling and emotional journey with Frida (Meagan Good), a Midwestern visitor. She challenges him to revisit his broken dreams – while he pushes her to discover hers. Director / writer / editor Qasim Basir joins us to talk about his riveting and elegant depiction of relationships, intimacy, Los Angeles, race, politics, and living the life we want instead of the life we have.
“A Boy. A Girl. A Dream may seem simple but every frame is a vibrant work of a passionate filmmaker.” – Matthew Passantino, Film Threat
“From the open cityscapes to the closed confines of the rideshare, Basir packs plenty of material for audiences to digest. His use of such a turbulent time is unique and thought-provoking.” – Jonita Davis, Black Girl Nerds
“The understated performances gurgle with powerful emotions. Hardwick and Good are terrific as people trying be cool to a stranger, but failing to conceal their underlying feelings.” – Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
“Set amid a changing nation, the chemistry between the leads help A Boy, A Girl, A Dream find a love story within an ever-changing world.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
“As Basir and co-writer Samantha Tanner make abundantly clear in this very earnest, ferociously hopeful film, we’re not going to get through this mess if we’re not pushing one another to be at our very best.” – Birth.Movies.Death.
Forty-five years after it revolutionized abortion law in America, the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade is once again at a crossroads. In their timely new documentary REVERSING ROE, filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK, MARATHON: THE PATRIOT’S DAY BOMBING) present a deeply illuminating look of the state of abortion and women’s rights in America. The film offers candid and riveting interviews with key figures from both sides of the divide, among them doctors Colleen McNicholas and Curtis Boyd; feminist icon Gloria Steinem; Operation Rescue president Troy Newman; and National Right to Life president Carol Tobias.Intense and unflinching in its commitment to telling the whole story, REVERSING ROE provides a gripping look at what’s happening on the ground in 2018. Drawing from a wealth of historical footage, it charts the period leading up to the Roe decision-and documents the opposition that has followed ever since.Regardless of where you stand on the issue of abortion, REVERSING ROE is essential viewing to understand how the country got here-and where it may be going. Co-directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg join us for an informed conversation on the long history and politics swirling around one of the country’s most divisive issues.
“As contentiousness turned into real-world consequences, “Reversing Roe” reminds us that the more women get involved regarding their rights, the more likely we’re to see a fair, principled fight.” – Robert Abele, Los Times
“Nothing new here but a good primer for those who never thought that politics has anything to do with their lives.” – Harvey S. Karten, Big Apple Reviews
“Solid and valuable but familiar.” – Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter
“Provides a clear and accessible overview of more than 50 years of the social and legal history of the issue in the United States.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
Hard headed Louisiana fisherman Thomas Gonzales doesn’t know what will hit him next. After decades of hurricanes and oil spills he faces a new threat – hordes of monstrous 20 pound swamp rats. Known as “nutria”, these invasive South American rodents breed faster than the roving squads of hunters can control them. And with their orange teeth and voracious appetite they are eating up the coastal wetlands that protects Thomas and his town of Delacroix Island from hurricanes. But the people who have lived here for generations are not the type of folks who will give up without a fight. Thomas and a pack of lively bounty hunters are hellbent on saving Louisiana before it dissolves beneath their feet. It is man vs. rodent. May the best mammal win. Rodents of Unusual Size is a documentary by Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer (Everyday Sunshine,The Story of Fishbone). Co-director Jeff Springer join us to talk about the other ‘beast of the Southern wild.”
Rodents is opening in Los Angeles on September 14th through September 19th @ 1:10pm, 3:20pm, 5:30pm, 8:00pm, & 10:10pm at the Laemmle’s Monica Film Center, 1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica
Opening night Q&A with filmmakers Chris Metzler, Quinn Costello, and animation director Mike Blum
BEST OF FESTIVAL AWARD – Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival
BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD – UNA George Lindsey Film Festival
BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD – Tupelo Film Festival
SPECIAL JURY AWARD FOR FILMS FOR OUR FUTURE – Mendocino Film Festival
EXCELLENCE IN AMERICAN PROFILES AWARD – SF Docfest
JURY AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY – Oceanside International Film Festival
92% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Rodents of Unusual Size is also a look at how human folly can contribute to environmental disaster, but awareness and ingenuity can help bail us out.” – Peter Keough, Boston Globe
“Depicting the resilience of both the nutria and the Louisianans who’ve endured their presence for many years, Rodents of Unusual Size proves enjoyably quirky and informative.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
“… a squirmy, funny, fascinating documentary that mixes history, zoology and social and cultural anthropology to examine the relationship of the giant rat to the bayou Louisianans who hunt, skin and sometimes even eat the dagger-incisored critters.” – John Beifuss, Commercial Appeal
“A bizarre and fascinating documentary that’ll make your jaw drop.” Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News
LOST CHILD follows an army veteran, Fern, who returns home in order to look for her brother, only to discover an abandoned boy lurking in the woods behind her childhood home. After taking in the boy, she searches for clues to his identity, and discovers the local folklore about a malevolent, life-draining spirit that comes in the form of a child; the Tatterdemalion. A beautifully-crafted mystery drama from award-winning director Ramaa Mosley. LOST CHILD stars Leven Rambin, Jim Parrack, John Taylor Smith, and Landon Edwards. Director / co-screenwriter (Tim Macy) Ramaa Mosley and actor Kip Collins joins us for a conversation on PTSD, self-financing your own film, the supernatural, and bracing the people of the Ozarks.
“An extraordinarily delicate balancing act between drama and horror, visually and psychologically expansive, set in a place where stories of monsters are not mere entertaining fun, and where superstition is not harmless.” – MaryAnn Johnson, Flick Filosopher
“The slow-burning thriller walks a fine line, balancing elements of psychological drama and the supernatural, with a surging undercurrent of social commentary that sneaks up on you.” – Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times
“The slow-burning thriller walks a fine line, balancing elements of psychological drama and the supernatural, with a surging undercurrent of social commentary that sneaks up on you.” – Fred Topel, Monsters and Critics
Although Hal Ashby directed a remarkable string of acclaimed, widely admired classics throughout the 1970s—HAROLD AND MAUDE, THE LAST DETAIL, SHAMPOO, COMING HOME, BEING THERE—he is often overlooked amid the crowd of luminaries from his generation. Amy Scott’s HAL is an exuberant portrait that explores that curious oversight, using rare archival materials, interviews, personal letters, and audio recordings to reveal a passionate, obsessive artist. Ashby was a Hollywood director who constantly clashed with Hollywood, but also a unique soul with an unprecedented insight into the human condition and an unmatched capacity for good. His films were an elusive blend of honesty, irreverence, humor, and humanity. Through the heartrending and inspiring HAL, you feel buoyed by Ashby’s love of people and of cinema, a little like walking on water. On camera interviews his many collaborators, including Oscar®-winning actors Lee Grant, Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, Louis Gossett Jr, Jeff Bridges and more recall how they were empowered by Ashby and granted them artistic freedom. Contemporary directors include Alexander Payne, Judd Apatow, Lisa Cholodenko, and David O. Russell attest to the quiet but powerful influence Ashby has had on their own filmmaking. Behind the camera colleagues Norman Jewison, Robert Towne, Haskell Wexler, and Pablo Ferro stand witness to Ashby’s brilliance as a filmmaker and the forces that led to his undoing. Director Amy Scott joins us to talk about her artistic connection to Hal Ashby, as editor and director, and her desire to correct many of the lingering misperceptions of Ashby through her riveting and loving film about a true maverick.
“If there’s still the sense that Ashby isn’t as sanctified as American New Wave stalwarts Coppola or Scorsese, Amy Scott’s breezy tribute of a documentary is out to correct that oversight.” – Robert Abele, TheWrap
“A vivid portrait of artistic integrity and complete commitment to the art of filmmaking.” – J.R. Kinnard
“Hal is a loving tribute to a filmmaker who rarely gets the attention he deserves.” – Brian Thompson, Film Threat
“Just before the documentary slips into hero worship, Amy Scott pries beneath the calm surface of her bearded and bespectacled subject to reveal the silent rage that fueled his work.” – A.J. Serrano, Slant Magazine