THE LAST OUT tells the story of three talented Cuban athletes, Happy, Carlos, and Victor, leave their families and homes behind as they set off in pursuit of the ultimate dream: a contract with Major League Baseball. Cuban ballplayers are among baseball’s brightest stars but Cuban ball-players can’t just sign out of Cuba – the US Embargo is still in place and only being strengthened under the current administration – so Cubans have to leave their homeland, often under dangerous circumstances and establish residency in a third Country like The Dominican Republic, Haiti or Costa Rica. At the rundown Estadio Antonio Escarre, they have spent the past year training long and hard, thousands of miles away from their families in Cuba. They travel to Costa Rica and train under a seedy sports agent who dangles promises while exploiting their talents. As they navigate immigration and the ulterior motives of handlers, each man finds an unexpected path forward to a better life. Set against the backdrop of the dangerous Central American migrant trail, THE LAST OUT offers a rare window into the dark side of professional sports. THE LAST OUT co-directors Sami Khan and Michael Gassert stop by to talk about their process of following the many twists and turns these young men’s lives take them on and the personal risk they and their team took in chronicling it.
Sami Khan’s most recent film, the short documentary St. Louis Superman (with Smriti Mundhra), was nominated for an Academy Award® and won a Special Jury Prize at Tribeca in 2019. Michael Gassert’s documentary and archival work has been supported by IFP, the Sundance Institute, UNESCO, and the Kennedy Center.
RONNIE’S is a love letter to saxophonist Ronnie Scott and the indispensable night clubhe and partner Peter King established in 1959. For more than 60 years music giants have walked through the door of a small basement club in London’s Soho. From the beginning of the burgeoning British modern jazz movement, he and King dreamt of opening a club modeled after the swinging jazz scene of New York’s 52nd Street. From its humble beginnings sixty years ago, Ronnie Scott’s would become the cornerstone of the UK jazz scene and one of the most famous jazz clubs in the world. Ronnie Scott was beloved by many, from the great and famous who frequented his club, to the many hard up musicians who were often helped by his warmth and generous spirit. However, Ronnie was as complex and colourful as the music played on his stage. In private Ronnie battled with depression and when his untimely death occurred in 1996 it left the jazz community bereft of a respected and favorite leader. Funny and moving, Ronnie’s features performances by some of greatest musicians of the 20th Century including…Oscar Peterson, Dizzie Gillespie, Roland Kirk, Cleo Lane and John Danforth, Buddy Rich, Sarah Vaughn, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Ella Fitzgerald, Mary Lou Williams, Van Morrison and Chet Baker, Nina Simone and Ben Webster.
About the filmmaker – Oliver Murray was born in Oxford, United Kingdom in 1985. He is a writer and director. He studied Fine Art at The Glasgow School of Art and Film & Animation at The Pratt Institute in New York City. His feature film debut ‘The Quiet One’ was released in 2019. His second feature film ‘Ronnie’s’ is scheduled for release in 2020.
From 1968 to 1973, the public television variety show SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an unfiltered, uncompromising celebration of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics—voices that had few other options for national exposure, and, as a result, found the program an improbable place to call home.The WNET-based series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement. With participants’ recollections and illuminating archival clips, Mr. SOUL! captures a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate, and an unsung hero whose voice we need now more than ever to restore the SOUL of a nation. Director / Producer / Writer and the niece of Ellis Haizlip, Melissa Haizlip joins us for a lively conversation on the joy and passion that her uncle brought to all of his artistic projects but none more than this resounding response to a constipated white culture that marginalized outside voices with a joyous ode to the astounding depth and breath of Black Culture.
** Mr. Soul!’s Show Me Your Soul – 2021 Oscar® Shortlisted for the Best Song
About the filmmaker – Melissa Haizlip, Producer, Director, Writer is an award-winning filmmaker based in New York. Her work responds to pressing social issues at the intersection of racial justice, social justice, activism, and representation. Female transformation and empowerment are at the core of all of her ideas, with the goal being to advocate and amplify the voices of women and people of color. Melissa’s feature documentary, Mr. SOUL!, has been shortlisted for the Oscars, for Best Original Song. Mr. SOUL! has been nominated by the Guild of Music Supervisors for Best Music Supervision for a Documentary. Mr. SOUL! is also nominated for three NAACP Image Awards, including Outstanding Documentary (Film), Outstanding Writing in a Documentary (Television or Motion Picture), and Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture). Mr. SOUL! won the 2020 Critics Choice Documentary Award for Best First Documentary Feature. Melissa’s two-channel art films have been exhibited by the Hammer Museum Los Angeles Biennial, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Melissa has been awarded grants from the Ford Foundation JustFilms, National Endowment for the Humanities, International Documentary Association, National Endowment for the Arts, Black Public Media, Firelight Media, ITVS, Awesome Without Borders, and Puffin Foundation. Melissa went to Yale University. She’s currently co-executive producing a docu-series on women in hip-hop for Netflix.
“Mr. Soul! is an effulgent and joyous celebration of the life-changing public broadcasting program. … Imagine for a moment what pop culture might be like without Questlove and you may have a small sense of what things would be like without SOUL!.” – Douglas Davidson, CLTure
“There’s a sense of overpowering love and gratitude for Haizlip that’s beautiful and wholly felt throughout Mr. Soul!’s runtime, and it’s as warm and comforting as the hot milk cake that Haizlip’s mom used to make for him.” – Jenny Nulf, Austin Chronicle
“Broad in scope and rapidly paced, the film can feel as if it’s bursting at the seams. But it acutely conveys the radical joy that “Soul!” inspired, barely contained in the movie’s running time.” – Devika Girish, New York Times
“Mr. SOUL brings the amazing individual that was Ellis Haizlip back into the forefront of his and our cultural history.” – Robert Daniels, 812filmreviews
“[Mr. Soul!] highlights black excellence and champions equality, tolerance and inclusion … that it manages to b funny, charming, and uplifting is icing on the cake.” – Victor Stiff, Goomba Stomp
The Price of Freedom is an unflinching look at the gun violence epidemic in America and the role the National Rifle Association, with its outsized political and cultural influence, has played over time. The NRA believes the deaths of innocent Americans are a necessary price to pay for the freedom to own firearms without restrictions. By manipulating the narrative around guns and backing politicians who commit to upholding their agenda, the NRA has cost us far more than we realize. Featuring passionate pleas from President William J. Clinton, Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT); NRA Board Member and former NRA President David Keene, and activists on all sides of the issue, The Price of Freedom presents a compelling case for those brave enough to take a stand against the NRA in defense of our communities and collective future. Director Judd Ehrlich joins us for a conversation on how the NRA has abandoned its founding principles of promoting safe and responsible gun ownership through locally-based training programs into a shameless shill for gun manufacturers and more recently into a pernicious, corrosive and ruthlessly divisive political force in American culture and governance.
About the filmmaker – Judd Ehrlich – Grand Clio and Emmy Award-winning director and producer is the son of an architect and schoolteacher. He grew up in lower Manhattan and, at fourteen, was the youngest feature reporter at a New York newspaper. Ehrlich’s recent documentaries KEEPERS OF THE GAME and WE COULD BE KING, produced with Tribeca Studios and The Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation, forged a new model for documentary production and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and on ABC television. KEEPERS was a New York Times Critics’ Pick and nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award and KING won an Emmy and Grand Clio Award. Both films are part of the US State Department’s American Film Showcase. Ehrlich was nominated for Emmy Awards for the Tribeca Premiere RUN FOR YOUR LIFE and the PBS broadcast MAYOR OF THE WEST SIDE. His award-winning MAGIC CAMP was optioned for narrative remake and NOTES FROM LIBERIA won several awards. Ehrlich directed two television series for ESPN and a series for The CW Network. He collaborated on the editing of Sundance-winner FAMILY NAME and Ric Burns’ Emmy-winning series, NEW YORK. Ehrlich was an editor and producer at CBS News and directed film programs at BAM, Brooklyn College, JCC Manhattan and the Brooklyn Museum, hosting notables like Darren Aronofsky, Steve Buscemi and Willem Dafoe. Ehrlich is represented by Saville Productions, joining a roster that includes Wim Wenders, Barry Levinson, Oliver Stone and Werner Herzog, and directs content for Bose, Tough Mudder, MLS, Van Cleef & Arpels, Barilla, Atlantic Philanthropies, US Cellular, and the Serena Williams Fund, to name a handful. Before film, Ehrlich was a caseworker in NYC for Project Renewal, Homes for the Homeless and YAI. He lives with his wife and two children in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where his family lived for five generations. Ehrlich is a Vassar College graduate and teaches filmmaking. For more go to: flatbushpictures.com
“An absorbing, disturbing, and scrupulously well-researched documentary that lays out the nuts and bolts of the National Rifle Association’s history.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“What makes The Price of Freedom a film that should be on your must-see list is the way Ehrlich presents all of this.” – Sabina Dana Plasse, Film Threat
“An unflinching and powerful look at what the NRA means to American politics and how it has used manipulation and scare tactics.” – Nathaniel Muir, AIPT
“Clear-eyed, compassionate and compelling, the documentary “The Price of Freedom” efficiently unpacks and debunks the myths it posits the National Rifle Assn. of America has deployed to further its all-guns-all-the-time agenda and foster a culture war.” – Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
Through shard-like glimpses of everyday life in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico, LANDFALLis a cautionary tale for our times. Set against the backdrop of protests that toppled the The United States colony’s governor in 2019, the film offers a prismatic portrait of collective trauma and resistance. While the devastation of María attracted a great deal of media coverage, the world has paid far less attention to the storm that preceded it: a 72-billion-dollar debt crisis crippling Puerto Rico well before the winds and waters hit. LANDFALL examines the kinship of these two storms-one environmental, the other economic-juxtaposing competing utopian visions of recovery. LANDFALL explores the intertwining legacies of colonialism, exploitative industries and disaster capitalism and the barriers to recovery they create. As opportunists looking to make a profit descend upon the island, the Puerto Rican diaspora comes together to create unprecedented forms of community-led mutual aid when assistance from the federal government and traditional NGOs fails to appear.LANDFALL features intimate encounters with Puerto Ricans as well as the newcomers flooding the island, LANDFALL reflects on a question of contemporary global relevance: when the world falls apart, who do we become? Director Cecilia Aldarondo joins us for frank conversation on US colonialism, Puerto Rico as a laboratory for social experimentation and the crypto-libertarian grifters peddling economic fairy-tales about freedom and financial independence.
Director’s Statement – As a Puerto Rican from the diaspora, I watched Hurricane María unfold from afar while cut off from loved ones, including my grandmother who would die six months after the storm. Reeling from the debt crisis, which unleashed a wave of austerity, poverty and migration that María only intensified, the Puerto Rico depicted in Landfall is a laboratory for greed, privatization, gentrification, the dismantling of social services, and the devastating effects of climate change. We may have a new President and Puerto Rico a new governor, but little has changed since María hit, as evidenced by the recent privatization of Puerto Rico’s electric grid. The Puerto Rican people are still fighting to end the profit-driven policies that have proved disastrous ever since President Obama signed them into existence. In Landfall I wanted to balance a cautionary tale for our times, while also prioritizing a dignified image of Puerto Ricans who have banded together to fight for their sovereignty. – Cecilia Aldarondo
“An impressive, impressionistic and intimate overview of the unhappy “Island of Enchantment” as it stands today, years after Hurricane Maria hit.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“Cecilia Aldarondo’s intelligent, insightful documentary captures how a natural disaster served to expose the man-made troubles that have blighted the island down the centuries.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
“Impressionistic rather than explanatory, Landfall seldom spells out the complex set of issues still afflicting an island long beset by “the colonial disease.” But it still makes a powerful statement…” – Dennis Harvey, 48 Hills
How did a group of humble factory workers become a phenomenal sports success story and the pride of an entire nation? Julian Faraut’s (John McEnroe: In The Realm of Perfection) ferociously innovative and visually stunning The Witches of the Orient tells the tale of the Japanese women’s volleyball team’s thrilling rise, unbelievable 258 games winning streak, and eventual Olympic gold at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. United by their jobs in a textile factory, the Japanese women’s volleyball team chased absolute perfection under the guidance of their grueling coach Hirofumi Daimatsu. Known as “the Demon,” his intense, endless practice sessions, shaped the team into a powerful force striking fear in the hearts of their competitors and earning them the racist and dismissive moniker “oriental witches.” Faraut’s sparkling documentary uses fantastic manga and anime sequences, such as Attack no 1 (1968), with archival footage of blood-curdling matches, extreme training sessions (driven by rhythmic editing and great music from French musician K-Raw) with testimony from the now-octogenarian teammates. The result charts the Witches’ meteoric rise and overwhelmingly vital spirit. The ‘Witches’ success is infectious and offers a hopeful prelude to the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. Director Julien Faraut joins to talk about the players rigorous training regime, the complicated relationship they had with their coach, Hirofumi Daimatsu, and the enduring bond between the women / factory workers that has lasted for nearly 60 years.
About the director –Having worked with the French Sports Institute (INSEP) for 15 years, Julien has had access to a large and mostly unseen collection of 16mm archival footage, aiming to bridge the connections between sport, cinema and art. With a fascination for the incredible achievements of highly skilled athletes, Julien’s portfolio of work explores these unique and astonishing human beings through the medium of film.
“The world-beating Japanese women’s volleyball team of the 1960s roars colourfully back to life.”- Screen Daily
“If the team was derided by their prejudiced (and defeated) foes in the moment of their success, this documentary elegantly restores the glow of legend, saving the champions the trouble of having to explain their heroism in words.” – Teo Bugbee, New York Times
“One of the more engrossing sports documentaries in recent memory, and it is one that even those without much interest in athletics in general or volleyball in particular will find to be worth watching.” – Peter Sobczynski, eFilmCritic.com
“The film’s fanciful archival montages shrewdly demonstrate the ways in which memory and art seamlessly combine to document reality.” – Mark Hanson, Slant Magazine
A walk in the woods will never be the same after watching THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES. Based on his best-selling that has profoundly changed our understanding of forests, renowned forester and writer Peter Wohlleben guides us through his most enlightening ideas. Presenting his ecological, biological and academic expertise with infectious enthusiasm and candor, Wohlleben travels through Germany, Poland, Sweden, and Vancouver to illustrate the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in the woodland for decades. The result is an immersive and eye-opening look at the scientific mechanisms behind these wonders of nature. Peter Wohlleben, subject and best selling author joins us for a very engaging conversation on his reluctance to write The Hidden Life of Trees, his surprise at the reaction to the book and his own journey to better understand the magnificent complexity and awe-inspiring world of the kingdom of forests manifested by a remarkable level of dialog that take place among the thousands of it’s inhabitants.
About the production – Adaptations of bestsellers are part of Constantin Film’s DNA: the Munich-based film company’s adaptations – from “Christiane F.” to “The Name of the Rose”, “The House of the Spirits” and “Perfume – Story of a Murderer” to “Look Who’s Back” – have regularly become blockbuster hits at the German box office. But Constantin Film had never before adapted a non-fiction book as a documentary. Like many millions of other people, producer Friederich Oetker was given Peter Wohlleben’s book The Hidden Lives of Trees as a present. “To be honest, I only read it after I had been given it as a present for the second time,” he says. “But then in one go. I was incredibly impressed by the way. Peter Wohlleben took the reader by the hand and guided them through the forest. It was like a guided tour, a walk in the forest. Although it covers such large areas of Germany, the forest is a bit like terra incognita. Very few people have a real relationship and access to it. Wohlleben wrote a forest guide like Jacques Cousteau once did for the ocean.”
About the subject and the author – Born in 1964, Peter Wohlleben had already decided as a small child that he wanted to become a nature conservationist. He studied Forestry and was a civil servant at the State Forestry Administration for over twenty years. He now runs a forest academy in the Eifel region and works worldwide for the return of the primeval forests. He is a guest on numerous TV programmes, gives lectures and seminars and is the author of books about the forest and nature conservation issues. He has inspired people all over the world with his bestsellers The Hidden Life of Trees, The Inner Life of Animals, The Secret Wisdom of Nature and The Secret Bond between Humankind and Nature. Most recently, the magazine “Wohllebens Welt” was published. He was awarded the Bavarian Nature Conservation Medal in 2019 for his emotional and unconventional way of imparting knowledge. His latest book, The Heartbeat of Trees, is now available via Greystone books.
About the filmmaker – Director and screenwriter Jorg Adolph was born in Herford in 1967. He is considered to be one of the leading directors of documentaries in Germany. Last year saw him being nominated for the German Film Award for his latest work, “Parents’ School”. The film itself developed into a political issue and was the subject of much public controversy. From 1988 to 1994, Adolph studied Comtemporary German Literature and Media Studies in Marburg and then moved to the HFF in Munich where he studied Television Journalism and Documentary Film. His graduation film “Klein, schnell und außer Kontrolle” won the German Television Award in 2001. Since then, Adolph has been working as a freelance documentary filmmaker. Several of his works see him focusing on the artistic creative process: in “On/Off the Record”, he followed the internationally acclaimed Weilheim pop band The Notwist over one year during their work on their momentous album “Neon Golden”. In 2011, he directed the documentary feature “The Great Passion” about the preparations and performances of the Oberammergau Passion Play.
“Extremely exciting, instructive, entertaining documentary. Here you can be amazed, seriously thought and be happy.”– Bild
“THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES Based on the best-selling non-fiction book of the same name, “The Hidden Life of Trees” tells of the mechanisms of a forest and the lack of understanding of deforestation and reforestation. With the help of beautiful images the film creates awareness for the system of trees.” – Film-rezensionen
“Director Jörg Adolph’s documentary succeeds in conveying the joy and amazement about it on a journey through the world of nature. At times it is reminiscent of the motivating documentaries such as Erwin Wagenhofer’s “But beautiful”. In addition, the sensational shots by Jan Haft amaze. And in the spirit of the non-fiction author Peter Wohlleben, there is a positive outlook. Because for him one thing is certain: “The forest is coming back”. Of course, he remarks soberly: “It would only be nice if we were still there”.– Programmkino
“Adolph’s non-fiction documentary seeks the harmony between personal portraits, spectacular nature shots and political statements and thus walks a little on the trail of committed documentaries like Erwin Wagenhofer’s “WE FEED THE WORLD””.– epd-film
“Haft’s forest pictures are astonishing. At night the camera looks reverently into the canopy of the trees and a star-twinkling sky; it hovers over forests that are sometimes green, sometimes colorful; and immerse yourself in the fascinating play of light in a summer deciduous forest.“ – Süddeutsche Zeitung
In December 2015, the New Orleans City Council voted to remove four Confederate monuments from public grounds. A forceful group of critics protested the decision, and fearing retaliation, no work crew would agree to remove the statues. For comedian and Daily Show with Trevor Noah producer and writer CJ Hunt, these protestors’ fanatical loyalty to the losing side of a 160 year-old war seemed like ideal material for a short, satirical internet video. But as he filmed the conflict surrounding the monuments, a bigger story began to reveal itself. THE NEUTRAL GROUND confronts the Lost Cause—the Southern campaign that mythified the Confederacy—with refreshing clarity.With New Orleans as the main backdrop of the story, the film expands its scope to the country at large, bringing to light the fabricated histories born out of the Civil War and the hard truths much of America has yet to face about slavery. Throughout, Hunt’s radical openness leads to staggering, often personal conversations with advocates and opponents of Confederate monuments alike. Turning a sharp eye to the tangled thread between past and present, THE NEUTRAL GROUND targets necessary change centuries in the making that might—finally—be catching up to itself. Director / screenwriter and subject joins us for a candid conversation on America’s implacable racism, latent white violence towards historic truths about slavery, the urgent need to respond to blatant hatred, and The Neutral Ground’s premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.
About the filmmaker – A comedian and filmmaker living in NYC, CJ is currently a field producer on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He has also served as a staff writer for A&E’s Black and White, and afield producer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede. Before working in late night, CJ spent nine years living in New Orleans where – in 2015 – he began filming what he thought would be a quick and easy confederate monument removal. CJ is an alumnus of Firelight Media’s Doc Lab and New Orleans Film Festival’s Emerging Voices program. He is also a 2020 New America Fellow and a regular host of The Moth. A graduate from Brown University’s Africana Studies department, CJ is endlessly fascinated by race and comedy’s ability to say what we can’t.
This riveting new documentary from the team of Director Joe Saunders and Producer Alex Greer The Penny Black, is a non-fiction investigative thriller that begins when Will, the estranged son of a conman,agrees to safeguard a mysterious million-dollar stamp collection for his shady Russian neighbor. After the neighbor vanishes \without a trace, Will searches for the collection’s true owner, confronting his fear and integrity head-on. But when some of the stamps suddenly disappear, the filmmakers are forced to reexamine Will’s capacity for honesty. Director Joe Saunders and Producer Alex Greer joins us for a rollicking \conversation on the orgin story of Penny Black, meeting Will, the arduous journey of pulling together the financing and the hundreds of hours of stake outs, interviews, and looking over their shoulders that went into making this stranger -than-fiction, trust no one documentary thriller.
The Backstory – The Penny Black STAMP is the world’s first adhesive postage stamp. It’s notoriety made it easy to google among this massive collection. Coincidentally, this little stamp comes with its own nefarious origins. Issued in the United Kingdom on May 1st, 1840, the Penny Black didn’t take long before it was the subject of mass fraud. The stamps, due to their color, were canceled with red ink to prevent their reuse. Unfortunately, this red ink was water-soluble, which meant that the stamps could be washed and reused. To curb the rampant fraud, the Penny Red was introduced a year later to allow cancelations with black ink that were not water soluble and could not be removed. The striking design of the Penny Black was then consigned to stamp albums (there, ironically, to become a target of high value theft).
About the filmmaker: Joe Saunders began his filmmaking career at NFL Films producing and directing documentaries that aired on HBO, FOX, ABC, CBS, ESPN, NFL Network and the BBC. While at NFL Films, Saunders won an EMMY Award in the Outstanding Long Feature category for his documentary, Big Charlie’s. His recent documentary credits include, Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound and Coach Snoop. Saunders is a Film Independent documentary fellow, received an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, and currently lives in NYC.
About the filmmaker: Alexander Greer is an award-winning filmmaker whose work has screened at Tribeca Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, and Los Angeles Film Festival, amongst others. As a freelance producer, he’s created content for MTV, Funny or Die, RedBull TV, Warner Brothers Records, Columbia Records, Gatorade, and New Form Digital. He graduated with honors from the film program at Columbia University, and currently lives in Los Angeles.
Director Pedro Kos’ beautifully rendered story, REBEL HEARTS, takes us back to the 1960s and a Los Angeles-based group of trailblazing nuns, The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Sisters bravely stood up to the patriarchy of the Catholic Church, fighting for equality, their livelihoods, and their own freedom against an all-powerful Cardinal who sought to keep them in their place. Their bold acts of faith, defiance and activism turned the Church upside down, helping to reshape our society in ways that continue to resonate today. From marching in Selma in 1965 to the Women’s March in 2018, they challenged the notion of what a nun and a woman were supposed to be. These unlikely resistance fighters, including Anita Caspary, Helen Kelley, Pat Reif and iconic pop artist Corita Kent, were devoted to a life of service, not only to others but to themselves – forming a community that empowered each sister to live up to their fullest potential. Their desire to bring the church into modern life was met with forceful opposition at every turn. As each of them discovered their own talents and voices, they fully stepped into their roles as leaders in a movement that is still making waves. In the feature documentary REBEL HEARTS, director Pedro Kos combines incredible archival footage, stunning animation and two decades of interviews conducted and filmed by the film’s producer Shawnee Isaac-Smith, to beautifully illuminate the story of these incredible women. Director Pedro Kos joins us for a conversation on the historic, political, cultural and spiritual significance these brave women had and continue to have on their own faith, but on the world beyond the walls of their community.
About the filmmaker – Director, writer and editor Pedro Kos most recently wrote and produced Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer’s Netflix Original Documentary THE GREAT HACK which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for a BAFTA award and shortlisted for an Academy Award. His feature directorial debut BENDING THE ARC (co-directed with Kief Davidson) premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Previously, he edited Jehane Noujaim’s Academy Award nominee THE SQUARE which earned Pedro an Emmy Award for Best Editing for a Non-Fiction program, Lucy Walker’s Academy Award nominee WASTE LAND and THE CRASH REEL (2013 SXSW Film Festival Audience Award winner), Jon Shenk’s THE ISLAND PRESIDENT (2011 TIFF Documentary People’s Choice Award winner) among others. Pedro is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and received his B.A. in Theater Directing from Yale University.
“Rebel Hearts tells the group’s story, focusing on why the nuns changed and what they risked in refusing to bend to church leadership. It’s a fast-paced and fascinating story that has implications far beyond Catholicism.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
“The brilliant documentary is a colourful, contemplative and informative presentation of women whose dedicated faith led them to activism.” – Emily Maskell, Flip Screen
“”Rebel Hearts” is still determined to not only uplift, but do justice to the women it’s profiling and just what gave them a communal backbone of such stuff that they eventually chose to defy the Vatican itself.” – Andrea Thompson, A Reel of One’s Own
“Neatly threads a global feminist awakening through the very specific experience of a few defiant, no-longer-cloistered women.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“One of the best of Sundance for this years. Highly recommended.” – Steven Kopian, Unseen Films
“Before this film, I had never heard of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and now I can’t stop thinking about them.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times
When you look at Kenny Scharf’s surreal, colorful, pop-culture inspired art you can’t help but wonder where he gets his inspiration. This documentary about Scharf’s fascinating life—made over 11 years by the artist’s daughter, Malia Scharf, and Max Basch—answers that question. This fascinating documentary shows Scharf’s New York City arrival in the early 1980s where he quickly befriended Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.This trio, amongst the fervent creative bustle of a depressed downtown scene, would soon take the art world by storm.Featuring interviews and rare archival footage with the artist himself along with Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Ed Ruscha, Dennis Hopper and Yoko Ono, the film shows Scharf’s arrival in New York City in the early 1980s, where he quickly befriended Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat. There, amongst the fervent creative bustle of a depressed downtown scene, the trio would soon take the art world by storm. But unlike Haring and Basquiat, who both died tragically young, Scharf lived through cataclysmic shifts in the East Village as well as the ravages of AIDS and economic depression. Decades later, still obsessed with garbage, cartoons and plastic, and committed to the idea that art should be fun, Scharf’s whimsical mind continues to generate works rife with iconic images and bizarre forms. Co-directors Malia Scharf and Max Basch join us for a conversation on the New York City in the 1980s, why so many artists from multiple disciplines seized the opportunity to make art amidst the rumble of the Downtown, and the re-evaluation of Kenny Scharf’s prodigious technicolor artistic vision.
“A compelling and informative introduction to the life and work of Kenny Scharf. His perseverance, passion for art as well as for his inner child are very palpable.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
“I found it heart warming and endearing, especially because of his daughter’s direction of the film. If you are interested in the art of this period, I think you will love this documentary.” – Katrina Olson, katrinaolson.ca
:This is the harrowing, heartbreaking, ultimately affirming story of Kenny Scharf, and I urge you to see it.: – Norman Gidney, Film Threat
“Playfully deconstructs the life and times of a creator who tries to balance their childlike playfulness with the adult responsibilities of the real world.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate
In this revealing observational portrait of political courage, Brandon Kramer’s THE FIRST STEP, focuses his lens on Black progressive activist and political commentator Van Jones as he faces a polarized society head on in an effort to reform a broken criminal justice system. Jones, known for calling Donald Trump’s election “a whitelash” live on primetime TV, navigates increasingly tense and isolating political and racial divides in his attempt to become a “bridge builder” during the Trump administration. Condemned by the right for his progressive beliefs, and by the left for embracing conservatives, this fraught and cinematically captured personal journey questions his integrity from all sides, forcing him to consider not only his activism but his own identity. THE FIRST STEP takes us behind the scenes of these dramatic power struggles, from internal divisions within both parties, to the lives of activists fighting on the frontlines for their communities. The First Step features Louis L. Reed, Jessica Jackson, Virgie Walker, Pete White, Tylo James. Including Jared Kushner, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Shelly Capito, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Mike Lee, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Patrisse Cullors, Charlemagne Tha God, Karen Hunter, and Kim Kardashian. Director Brandon Kramer joins us to talk about the daunting challenge faced by Van ones as he attempts to find the common ground of common interest and policy reforms that will benefit all Americans, while being vilified by many of the same people he is working with.
About the filmmaker – Brandon Kramer is a documentary filmmaker and co-founder of Meridian Hill Pictures. Brandon directed CITY OF TREES (Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, national broadcast on PBS’ America Reframed, Netflix); and the Webby Award-winning documentary series THE MESSY TRUTH WITH VAN JONES. Brandon won Best Director at the 2016 Chesapeake Film Festival and Indie Capital Awards, received the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 American Conservation Film Festival and was a 2015 DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities Individual Arts Fellow. Brandon has directed over 30 short documentaries commissioned by public agencies and nonprofits including AARP and US Institute of Peace. Before starting MHP, Brandon served as a teaching artist for the John F. Kennedy Center’s national media education program. Brandon holds a bachelor’s degree in film and cultural anthropology from Boston University.
Winner of a Special Jury Award for Nonfiction Experimentation at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Director Theo Anthony (Rat Film, Subject to Review) ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE is an exploration of the shared histories of cameras, weapons, policing and justice. ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE plunges the viewer into world where police body cams are the hi-tech answer to questions of accountability andAs surveillance technologies become a fixture in everyday life, the film interrogates the complexity of an objective point of view, probing the biases inherent in both human perception and the lens. Director Theo Anthony joins us for a wide-ranging conversation on the seemingly relentless march toward an enveloping surveillance state, the expectation of privacy, optic nerves, technological corporate fantasies, bias AI and the Black Box.
About the filmmaker – Theo Anthony – Director, Writer and Editor – Theo Anthony is a filmmaker based in Baltimore and Upstate New York. His first feature documentary, RAT FILM, premiered internationally at the 2016 Locarno Film Festival and domestically at the 2017 True/ False Film Festival. It has received wide critical acclaim, and was nominated for a 2017 Gotham award for Best Documentary Feature film as well as Cinema Eye Honors for Best Debut Feature. The film was theatrically released and was featured on PBS’ Independent Lens Series in early 2018. Theo is the recipient of the 2018 Sundance Art of Non- Fiction Fellowship and the 2019 Sundance and Simons Foundation Science Sandbox Fellowship. In 2015, he was named to Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. His latest film SUBJECT TO REVIEW, for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, premiered at the 57th New York Film Festival. ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE is Theo’s second feature length film and his first film premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. For more go to: theoanthony.net
“SUPERB. A chillingly insightful doc on the ethics of looking and the incompleteness of seeing.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety
“BRILLIANT, vital criticism about American policing that also speaks to the limitless artistic potential of non-fiction filmmaking” – Nick Allen, Roger Ebert
“FASCINATING. A gripping, mind-expanding wake-up call” – Sheri Linden, The Hollywood ReporterOpen
“All Light, Everywhere is staggering in its expressive yet concise ability to explore a topic as urgent as rampant police violence and excessive surveillance from a strictly technological perspective.” – Jordan Raup, The Film Stage
“This engrossing, troubling documentary questions the idea that what we take in through our eyes is, any practical sense, the truth of our surroundings” – Tim Grierson, Screen International
Nicole Riegel’s starkly drawn feature film debut HOLLER zeroes in on a forgotten pocket of Southern Ohio where American manufacturing and opportunity are drying up, a determined young woman finds a ticket out when she is accepted to college. Alongside her older brother, Ruth Avery joins a dangerous scrap metal crew in order to pay her way. Together, they spend one brutal winter working the scrap yards during the day and stealing valuable metal from the once thriving factories by night. With her goal in sight, Ruth finds that the ultimate cost of an education for a girl like her may be more than she bargained for, and she soon finds herself torn between a promising future and the family she would leave behind. Director Nicole Riegel stops by for a conversation on the challenges of pulling together a shoe-string budget film, that has as much to say about the lack of opportunity for the millions of marginalized people as it does about the love of family, and working with a superb cast that includes Jessica Barden, Austin Amelio, Gus Halper and Pamela Adlon.
Director’s Statement – My film is a semi-autobiographical story about how challenging it was to transcend where I came from as a young woman, both practically and emotionally. Like Ruth, the teenage girl at the center of my story, and many young girls across America, I was vulnerable to a fractured system that felt rigged against me, particularly when it came to access to education for young people living in the margins. That lack of access made me feel like my voice didn’t matter, and that is a horrible feeling for any young girl to carry with her. In order to pursue the life that I wanted, I had to leave behind the family and community that created me which felt like a betrayal. HOLLER is not only a glimpse into that part of my life, but also a window into the lives of thousands of girls who, like Ruth, live in towns that are currently in a state of atrophy from fewer opportunities and a shrinking population. They are faced with the choice of forced reinvention or abandoning their hometowns completely. – Nicole Riegel
“Holler shows there is beauty everywhere-if you choose to look for it. It also shows the power of independent filmmaking to tell incredible stories on sheer will and desire to tell stories.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat
“A film that is heart-rattlingly poignant, haunting, and among the best of the year.” – Kristy Puchko, Pajiba
“With Holler, writer/director Nicole Riegel avoids traps into melodrama and miserablism to deliver a great feature-length directorial debut; an emotionally rousing coming-of-age story with a standout performance from Jessica Barden.” – Harris Dang, The AU Review
“Holler is a compelling, confident film about family, loyalty, hope and self-care, executed with a firm directorial vision and speaking with an authenticity and genuineness that is unambiguously refreshing.” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ Women on Film
“Holler is a beautifully crafted feature debut for Nicole Riegel complete with strong and memorable performances, especially from lead star Jessica Barden.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
Set in 1985, against the backdrop of social hysteria surrounding gory British video nasties.CENSOR is a psychological horror starring Niamh Algar (Raised By Wolves, The Virtues, Calm With Horses). Film censor Enid takes pride in her meticulous work, guarding unsuspecting audiences from the deleterious effects of watching the gore-filled decapitations and eye-gougings she pores over. Her sense of duty to protect is amplified by guilt over her inability to recall details of the long-ago disappearance of her sister, recently declared dead in absentia. When Enid is assigned to review a disturbing film from the archive that echoes her hazy childhood memories, she begins to unravel how this eerie work might be tied to her past. After viewing the strangely familiar video nasty at work, Enid attempts to solve the past mystery of her sister’s disappearance, embarking on a quest that dissolves the line between fiction and reality. CENSOR had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2021, opening the Midnight section of the festival, and will have its European premiere at Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival. Director Prano Bailey-Bond stops by for a conversation on her debut feature film that flawlessly captures the frightening ambiance of the “nasties” while plumbing the depths of Enid’s defenseless psyche.
About the filmmaker – Prano Bailey-Bond is a director and writer who grew up on a diet of Twin Peaks in the depths of a strange Welsh community. Named a 2021 ‘Director to Watch’ by Variety and a Screen International ‘Star of Tomorrow’ 2018, Prano’s work invokes imaginative worlds, fusing a dark vocabulary with eerie allure, revealing how beauty resides in strange places. Her debut feature film, CENSOR, had its world premiere at the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2021, opening the festival’s Midnight section, moving next to its European premiere at the BERLINALE – Berlin International Film Festival. Prano’s strong body of shorts have screened at festivals including BFI London Film Festival, Tampere Film Festival, UKMVA’s, Sitges Film Festival and Melbourne Int’l Film Festival. She was one of 17 filmmakers selected for the BFI Network@LFF 2017 which identified original new voices, iconoclasts and risk takers. She is an alumna of the Berlinale Talent Campus. Her short film NASTY screened at over 100 festivals to-date, winning awards globally. SHORTCUT, made as part of Film4’s Fright Bites series, was broadcast on Film4 and is available to view on All4. It screened at festivals around Europe, the USA and Canada, and toured with The Final Girls‘ WE ARE THE WEIRDOS program. THE TRIP won Best Director at Underwire Festival. Based on a real-life case study by ECPAT UK, it has been used to educate Police and other professionals on recognizing victims of human trafficking. Prano’s post-apocalyptic short MAN VS SAND, commissioned by The Letters Festival, Milan in association with London Short Film Festival, won Best Experimental Short at Aesthetica Short Film Festival, who described it as “a powerful satire of the live-to-work ethic”. Her music videos have picked up accolades including a UKMVA, Best Music Video at the European Independent Film Festival and Best Music Short at London Short Film Festival. Prano is on the Advisory Board for Underwire Festival, is a member of Cinesisters, BAFTA and is also an award-winning editor. For more go to: pranobaileybond.com
“Bailey-Bond creates something almost unbearably close and oppressive, like the bottom of a murky fish tank. It’s a very elegant and disquieting debut.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
“Censor works as such a strong study of someone whose personal and professional lives are dangerously intertwined and loses sight of every boundary in her life, though Bailey-Bond ensures it has plenty of edge.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest
“Bailey-Bond creates something almost unbearably close and oppressive, like the bottom of a murky fish tank. It’s a very elegant and disquieting debut.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
“With a winning confidence, [Bailey-Bond] guides the viewer to a frightening, disorienting, and frankly shocking third act.” – Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
“It’s more than emulating a cinematic look, like those faux-gialli. It’s creating an engrossing, disturbing, yet authentic world that cracks wide open like Enid’s fragile psyche.” – Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle
Martin Kraut’s chilling psychological thriller feature film debut focuses on the morally ambiguous life of Marcos (Carlos Portaluppi), an experienced nurse, who works the night shift of a private clinic. He is successful and professional, though it is soon revealed that he uses his position to help suffering patients find early peace. A new nurse in the clinic, Gabriel (Ignacio Rogers), shakes the sector: he is young, intelligent, beautiful, and seduces everyone. He soon deciphers Marcos’ secret and the clinic becomes a battle of wits and seduction. Marcos retracts until he discovers that Gabriel also dabbles in euthanasia, though for different reasons. This revelation forces him to confront Gabriel and Marcos knows that only by exposing his own true identity will he be able to stop him. Director Martin Kraut stops by to talk about his slow-burn deadly game of cat and mouse thriller, the story’s moral ambiguity and his collaboration with the gifted lead actors Ignacio Rogers and Carlos Portuppi.
LA DOSIS, the sharp slow-burn thriller from distributor Samuel Goldwyn Films, will be released on-demand and digital on June 11, 2021. The film world premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2020, and also played BFI Flare, the Fantasia Film Festival, and others.
Director’s Statement – Back in 2012 I read a news story on two nurses in Uruguay who had euthanized multiple patients, and almost right away I felt it was the plot for a movie. I followed the case with interest as I worked on multiple versions of a script that was increasingly drifting from what had allegedly happened. “La dosis” captures the essence of this conflict, the discussions it generated and the issues that surfaced with an entirely free approach. On the other hand, I am interested in investigating what happens when doctors and nurses know there is no chance of survival yet they must keep the bodies alive while they can: Keeping patients on life support or alive is also a very important and profitable business. This fact coupled with the immense power that some nurses like Marcos have while working the night shift, and who devote their time to the care of others in those conditions, can lead them to extreme situations. The film addresses, in as much detail as possible, the story of a nurse in the midst of an internal struggle. Day after day, year after year, and decade after decade, he has cared for hundreds of patients who were fighting for their lives, many of whom lost their battles. Sometimes the patients and their families find themselves in a modern yet perverse labyrinth that forces them to make very difficult decisions. The lead actor’s feelings in the face of the hiring of a new young nurse are also of interest to me as a narrative trigger. The known vs. the unknown, the ensuing competitiveness and the changes brought about in environments used to specific habits are also issues explored in the movie. The strange and complex reality that we have to live in today amid COVID-19 definitely gives the movie another meaning, for it revolves around the dynamics inside an intensive care unit (ICU). Involuntarily, the movie brings our worst nightmares to the forefront as healthcare professionals, who must provide care for us, end up committing illegal acts. – Martin Kraut
About the filmmaker – Martin Kraut is a director, screenwriter and photographer born in Buenos Aires (Argentina) in 1982. He graduated from Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires and studied Film Studies at the Universidad del Cine. Kraut took screenwriting classes from Mauricio Kartún and Pablo Solarz, among others. His first short film “Que Miren” screened and was recognized in several festivals. Kraut’s photography exhibition “Centros Clandestinos de Detención Hoy” (Today’s Clandestine Detention Centers) was shown in multiple places in Argentina. He also participated in other solo and group exhibitions. Since 2015, he has worked as a photographer and audiovisual producer at Revista Anfibia. His debut feature “La dosis” premiered at the 2020 The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR). He has participated in the Bucheon International Film Festival in Korea (BIFAN), the Fantasia International Film Festival in Canada and his work will soon be featured at the Taoyuan Film Festival in Taiwan and the USA.
“It emerges as a valuable film that takes us from the most pure realism to the most disturbing extremes of psychological terror.” – Diego Batlle, Otroscines.com
“It’s a film about threatened masculinity, the ethics of euthanasia, the tension between relevance and irrelevance, all played out with a decidedly subtle hand.” – Clint Worthington, The Spool
“Martin Kraut captures realistic tremors of physical tension among the characters, and much of the film’s first half is a captivating, slow-burn study of the protagonist in his setting.” – Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine
?… doesn’t pass judgment on either of its main characters as they match wits, while the intriguing dynamics ratchet up the tension amid the inherent life-or-death stakes.” – Todd Jorgenson, Cinemalogue
Zaida Bergroth’s enthralling new film, TOVE begins in Helsinki, 1945.The end of the war brings a new sense of artistic and social freedom for painter Tove Jansson. Modern art, dizzying parties and an open relationship with a married politician: Her unconventional life puts her at odds with her sculptor father’s strict ideals. Tove’s desire for liberty is put to the test when she meets theatre director Vivica Bandler. Her love for Vivica is electric and all-consuming but Tove begins to realize that the love she truly yearns has to be reciprocated. As she struggles with her personal life, her creative endeavors take her in an unexpected direction. While focusing her artistic dreams on her painting, the work that started as a side project, the melancholic, haunting tales she told scared children in bomb shelters, rapidly takes on a life of its own. The exploits of the Moomins, infused with inspiration from her own life, bring Tove international fame and financial freedom. There’s a daily comic strip, syndicated all over the world to 120 newspapers in 40 countries, a stage play and stories that continue to delight people around the world. But as she begins to find her artistic identity she has to learn to find herself. Her unrequited love for Vivica is preventing her true liberty and only by learning to break away from her can she truly be free. Director Zaida Bergroth joins us for an engaging conversation on humanizing the creative journey of an internationally recognized artistic talent and a woman energized by her personal search for freedom, identity and desire.
Finland’s entry – Best International Feature Film for the 2021 Academy Awards
Director’s Statement– Tove Jansson – the ”Moominmamma”, the one that everybody knows, the one put on a pedestal. My impression of her has been this gray haired, wise, unnaturally calm and somehow untouchable human being. The more I have got to know her through the research and preparation, I have made for this film about her life, the more surprised I’ve become – this film will be anything but calm and predictable. Tove’s passion and energy, her strong emotions and how she expressed them and the fact that she was so unconventional; those were the things that surprised me the most. TOVE struggled with serious issues; she was aware of having a predisposition for depression, her relation to her father was complicated and the strenuous intimate relationships left their marks, but her positivity and her ability to always take other people into consideration and really understand them combined with how she looked for and appreciated light and joy, gives me inspiration and hope. These aspects I have wanted to include in the film about Tove. I wanted to depict Tove closely and sensitively and show as many surprising sides of her as possible, so that the audience understands how passionate and wild she was, how much she loved parties and love itself. TOVE tells about Tove’s life while celebrating courage and independence. With TOVE I once again deal with the same themes and characters that excite me, but this time around I especially enjoy Tove’s inspiring, rambunctious and positive company. Even though the events in her life were sometimes both painful and overwhelming, Tove kept her beautiful outlook on the world and the people in it. It is very comforting that such a wise and understanding person has lived such a wild and uncompromising life. I’m also excited to use my own knowledge in depicting Tove’s life: I’ve lived my childhood surrounded by artists – my mother is a painter and I’ve spent endless hours in her studio. I find it very exciting – and most of all important – to tell this story of an enormously talented and inspiring female artist who continues to have a huge impact on people all around the world.
About the director – Zaida Bergroth (born 1977) is a Finnish film screenwriter-director. Bergroth’s previous films (Maria ́s Paradise, Miami, The Good Son, Last Cowboy Standing) have been screened at festivals including TIFF and have received awards at the Busan International Film Festival, at the Chicago International Film Festival and many others. TOVE is her fifth feature film as a director.
“Though narratively simple, it’s a dazzling piece of work which perfectly captures the essence of the artist and both the necessity and cost of authenticity.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“Biopics are a dime a dozen these days with many often featuring the usual cliched rise- and-fall scenario. But with Tove, director Zaida Bergroth is lucky enough to focus on a uniquely alluring Finnish sketcher.” – Susan Wloszczyna, AWFJ Women on Film
“TOVE dispatched me down a rabbit hole, or through a Moomin Door. I recommend the trip. – Anthony Lane, New Yorker
“A story that could have quickly succumbed to common themes about the dreams that are lost with age is instead a bitter-sweet celebration of a life, though imperfect, still lived to its fullest and with learned lessons accompanying regrets.” – Meghan White, AwardsWatch
“If anyone were expecting this to be about Moomins, they would be very disappointed, but if you were expecting a painful love story and struggle of an artist finding herself, this is the story for you.” – Katie Hogan, FILMHOUNDS Magazine
Unapologetically honest, IT’S NOT A BURDEN: The Humor and Heartache of Raising Elderly Parents provides an intimate look at the multi-layered and endlessly-complex relationships between aging parents and the adult children who care for them. Emmy® nominated filmmaker Michelle Boyaner shares her very personal journey caring for her long-divorced aging parents (her larger-than-life Mother battling dementia, her Father, a hoarder) as well as weaving in a variety of other families supporting stories, including several “When Harry Met Sally” couch-style interviews. Packed with archival and vérité footage, the families of IT’S NOT A BURDEN open their homes and their hearts, sharing stories of the universal issues we face around the topic of caring for our aging parents and reminding us we are not alone. IT’S NOT A BURDEN not only explores the frustrations and fears, but also the transformative bonds that happen when familial roles are reversed, friends support friends and communities come together, exemplifying our capacity to love. Emmy®-nominated director, writer and producer Michelle Boyaner (Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson) and Producer Katie Ford (Miss Congeniality) join us for a conversation on the many challenges as well as the enriching rewards of caring for your loved ones.
It’s Not a Burden will be distributed by Gravitas Ventures (North American), a Red Arrow Studios Company and will be released on VOD in the US on June 1, 2021 on several platforms.
About the filmmaker – Michelle Boyaner – Writer / Director / Produceris an award-winning, Emmy® nominated filmmaker whose projects have included the recent HBO Documentary film Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson, as well as the documentary feature, and festival favorite, A Finished Life: The Goodbye & No Regrets Tour. Documentary shorts include Hi, You’ve Reached Dave’s Apartment, and Tina Paulina: Living on Hope Street, as well as the narrative shorts, You’re Still Young, and The Bedwetter. Prior to her film work, Michelle wrote Oh, for God’s Sake Whisper It, a book of personal essays chronicling her beloved Grandmother’s battle with Alzheimer’s. She is currently also at work on a scripted web series about growing up in the 1970’s in a Southern California suburb.
About the filmmaker – Katie Ford – Producer – is best known for writing the hit film, Miss Congeniality. She is currently co-creator of High Desert, a new series for Apple TV starring Patricia Arquette and produced by Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Productions. Katie has written successfully for both comedy and drama with credits as diverse as the Golden Globe and Emmy-Nominated movie Prayers For Bobby, ABC’s Desperate Housewives, Wonderful World of Disney’s critically acclaimed, Little House on the Prairie mini-series, and TNT’s Transporter series. She got her start at age 21 writing for NBC’s Family Ties. Ford splits her time between writing for TV and Film, and creating new types of storytelling through digital media formats. She has been a guest teacher and lecturer at many Universites and independent classes – working with up-and-coming writers.
It’s been 75 years since the start of the Atomic Age, with the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, but its trail of destruction has never ended. The newly re-mastered Dark Circle, being re-released through First Run Features, covers both the period’s beginnings and its aftermath, providing a scientific primer on the catastrophic power of nuclear energy while also relating tragic human stories detailing the devastating toll radioactive toxicity has taken on people and livestock—focusing in large part on Rocky Flats, Colorado, whose plutonium processing facility infamously contaminated the surrounding area. Documentary Grand Prize winner at Sundance, Academy shortlisted for Best Documentary, and Emmy winner, Dark Circle is no less potent today than it was 40 years ago. Co-director Judy Irving (The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, Pelican Dreams) joins us for an informative and provocative conversation on the history and development of nuclear weapons and nuclear power facilities, as well as the clear and present danger this unimaginably destructive weaponry andtroubled technology continue to pose to the planet and the survival of humanity.
Filmmaker’s Statement – When I set out to make a personal film about the impact of nuclear weapons and power on ordinary people, I had no idea that the movie would create such a ruckus, or that it would still be so relevant 39 years after its release. My aim was to point the camera away from experts and politicians, and find stories about how plutonium is affecting us, even in the absence of a nuclear war. Those effects are not only physical, but psychological and spiritual as well. Having grown up under this nuclear cloud, I wanted to show how nuclear power and weapons are in fact the same industry, despite government propaganda that urges us to see them as separate. Part of understanding this industry required that we travel to Japan to film interviews with survivors of the atomic bombings. We were astonished to discover that we were the first American film crew to do so. American writers and still photographers had been to Hiroshima and Nagasaki before us, but no documentary film crew until we arrived in 1979. To me, this spoke volumes about how much guilt and denial we bring to the issue. After its theatrical release, Dark Circle was accepted for a national broadcast on public television, but then PBS gatekeepers broke the contract. Claiming we were not objective, they insisted that we cut a sequence in which we name the corporations that build the hydrogen bomb, such as General Electric, whose slogan is, ironically, “We bring good things to life.” Many of these corporations are PBS underwriters. We refused to cut the Arms Convention sequence and fought the obvious censorship. It took seven years before PBS finally created a new series, “POV,” to showcase films with a strong point of view, and when Dark Circle was broadcast it won a National News & Documentary Emmy – for PBS! Flash forward three decades: with nuclear stockpiles growing, missile accidents in the news, and nine nuclear states including China flexing their powers with threats, Dark Circle is suddenly relevant again.
About the filmmaker – Pelican Media Executive Director Judy Irving is a Sundance-and-Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker whose theatrical credits include The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a feature documentary about the relationship between a homeless street musician and a flock of wild parrots in San Francisco, Pelican Dreams, about California brown pelicans and the people who know them best, and Dark Circle, a personal film about the links between nuclear power and weapons. In 2015 Judy was invited to become a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Wild Parrotswas a “Top Ten Film of the Year” (National Film Critics’ Poll), was the highest-rated program on the 2007 national PBS series “Independent Lens,” and is now in international distribution. Pelican Dreams (completed in late 2014), features a young brown pelican who mistakenly landed — tired, hungry, and confused — on the roadway of the Golden Gate Bridge, creating a spectacular traffic jam and re-igniting Judy’s years’-long fascination with these ancient, charismatic birds. Judy spent childhood summers on the North Fork of Long Island, and came to love birds thanks to her grandfather. She graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in Psychology and worked as a freelance journalist in Montreal before hitchhiking across the continent and living on a handmade raft-house in British Columbia. Later, she received her Masters in Film and Broadcasting from Stanford University, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in Film. Her documentary film career has taken her to Alaska, Japan, Russia, Nepal, and Zimbabwe, with peace and the environment as her main areas of interest. For more about Judy Irving go to: pelicanmedia.org
“Dark Circle is one of the most horrifying films I’ve seen, and also sometimes one of the funniest (if you can laugh at the same things in real life that you found amusing in Dr. Strangelove). Using powers granted by the Freedom of Information Act, and sleuthing that turned up government film the government didn’t even know it had, the producers of this film have created a mosaic of the Atomic Age. It is a tribute to the power of the material, and to the relentless digging of the filmmakers, that the movie is completely riveting. Four Stars!”– Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times (1982)
“You owe it to yourself to see this chilling documentary. A much needed warning sign on a very dangerous road. Rated: A.”– People Magazine
“The best of the recent films about the atomic age” – Valerie Ellis, In These Times
“Uncompromising power” – Denver Post
:The most eloquent, far ranging, and convincing film on the subject to date.” John Hartl, Seattle Times
“An urgent horror story, Vincent Canaby, New York Times
Zeshawn Ali’s enthralling feature documentary debut, Two Gods follows Hanif, a Muslim casket maker and ritual body washer in Newark, New Jersey, as he takes two young men under his wing to teach them how to live better lives. He mentors two kids— Furquan, a confident 12- year-old who comes from a rough home and Naz, a 17-year -old who has been fighting through his own struggles as a young black man growing up in Newark. Hardship comes when Furquan’s home life becomes more turbulent and Naz gets caught up in a serious arrest. Hanif fears he has failed as a mentor and begins to fall into a downward spiral. During each of their darkest moments, they take what they’ve learned from their pasts and from each other to pull through. And through faith, brotherhood and redemption they find their purpose. Director Zeshawn Ali joins us for a conversation on meeting subject Hanif, his exploration of this sacred Islamic body washing tradition and how his own family’s recent losses impacted the film’s storytelling trajectory.
Director’s Statement – Two Gods explores the juxtaposition of grief and the rituals of death with the vibrancy of coming of age. The film is a tonal balance between those two worlds, and our choice to shoot in black and white was to show how they’re so delicately interconnected. In this film, we witness a crisis of faith within the older and younger generations. This idea of “two Gods” began coming up within the community as a way to refer to the struggle of feeling like you’re not able to worship God and the streets at the same time. Who do you worship when you’re trying your best to survive? One of the spaces where both generations come together is the janazah (the Islamic funeral) and the body washings. When someone dies, their loved ones and leaders in the community come together to wash the body as a way to prepare them for burial. About two years ago, as we were making this film, I lost my father and grandmother. I went from filming so many washings in this community to having to wash my own father. The grief is so hard to navigate, but the level of preparedness we felt because of the time we spent with Hanif made the process of burying our loved ones much easier. This story means so much to me and my brother Aman (the film’s producer) and I hope to have an impact on audiences in much the same way. Growing up Muslim in America, I always longed for interesting portrayals of Muslim Americans that were not political— stories that were personal, quiet and reflective. Our film gives nuance to our Muslim American community, which has needed a change in the narrative. And it presents a Muslim American story that is intersectional and showcases faith as a fact of life, rather than something that needs to be explained or defended. Two Gods explores a meaningful story in a way that reflects the intimacy, spirituality and vibrancy of coming-of-age and the rituals of death. And through Hanif’s mentorship and the journey and struggles of him, Furquan and Naz, we learn that the fight to find purpose and meaning in those moments, both small and profound, is what finding faith is all is about. It reminds us all that to be human is to grieve love, and fight— for faith, for redemption, and for purpose. – Ali Zeshawn
About the filmmaker – Director Ali Zeshawn is originally from Ohio and is a graduate of Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Two Gods is his first feature film and has received support from ITVS, Tribeca Film Institute, Ford Foundation, Sundance Institute, Doc Society, Points North Institute and IFP. He is a member of Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective and Meerkat Media. He is currently based in New York. For more: zeshawnali.com
“A timely portrait of lives lost and redeemed.” – The Hollywood Reporter
“We are blessed with both the craft and the documentation of sublime empathy that Ali brings to the film” – POV Magazine
“Ali expertly gathers footage to profile the travails and personal growth of his protagonists. It’s a moving, profound odyssey.” – Hammer to Nail
“[A] captivating feature debut…” – Moveable Fest
“This is real cinema vérité, one that authentically gives say to those who often remain voiceless.” – Film Forward
“A poetic meditation on life, death and the struggle to survive in between.” – Filmmaker Magazine
“Two Gods is a beautiful, deeply empathetic piece of storytelling that takes a ground-level look at our relationship with the biggest ideas in our lives. A masterpiece just waiting to be discovered.” – Criterion Cast
Suzanne (Suzanne Lindon) is sixteen. She is bored with people her own age. From the outside, everything appears lovely in her charmed world, but the everyday monotony of school and her relationships with friends and family feels completely uninspired. Every day on her way to high school, she passes a theater. There, she meets a 35-year-old actor named Raphaël (Arnaud Valois, BPM (Beats Per Minute). Despite their age difference they find in each other an answer to their ennui and develop a strong connection. Immersed in the world of grown-ups and adult choices, Suzanne begins questioning the pitfalls of blossoming too quickly and missing out on life – the life of a 16-year-old, which she had struggled so much to enjoy in the same way as her peers. SPRING BLOSSOM is a masterful and refreshing tale, filled with freewheeling musical numbers, of young teen’s sense of curiosity and wonderment at first-love. Director, writer and lead actor Suzanne Lindon joins us for a conversation on the personal story behind the story of SPRING BLOSSOM, the passion and confidence that propelled this project from diary to distribution and what was going through her mind on the first day the 19 year-old Suzanne step on to the set to direct her debut feature film.
About the filmmaker – Suzanne Lindon is 20 years old and was born IN April 2000 in Paris. At 15, she enrolled at the prestigious French high school Henri IV, and at the same time began writing SPRING BLOSSOM. Suzanne graduated high school with honors in 2018, and decided to take a one year preparatory course in sketching before joining l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs of Paris. It’s in 2019, the summer of her 19th birthday, that she decided to dive into preparation for her first feature film as both director and lead actress.
“Still just twenty when she directed and starred in the film, Lindon creates a portrait of first love which is fresh, honest and engaging.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International
“Writer-director Suzanne Lindon’s … dazzling directorial debut once again proves that there’s nothing more romantic than Parisian cafés and sun-bleached boulevards.” – Andrew Murray, The Upcoming
“It’s an extremely accomplished introduction from its young director-star, with Lindon delivering a beguiling take on first love that casually casts off the weight of judgement.” – Emma Simmonds, The List
“Spring Blossom is a light, frothy and charming drama from writer/director Suzanne Lindon, who shows great potential in becoming a formidable director in the future. Recommended.” – Harris Dang, The AU Review
1998’s Academy Award Best Feature Documentary, THE LAST DAYS, filmed in five countries, traces the compelling experiences of five Hungarian Holocaust survivors who fell victim to Hitler’s brutal war against the Jews during the final days of WWII. Including newly discovered historical footage and a rare interview with a former Nazi doctor at Auschwitz, the film tells the remarkable story of five people – now a grandmother, a teacher, a businessman, an artist, and a United States Congressman – as they return from the United States to their hometowns and to the ghettos and concentration camps in which they were imprisoned. Through the eyes of the survivors and other witnesses, THE LAST DAYS recounts one of the most brutal chapters of this dark period in human history, when families were taken from their homes, stripped of their dignity, deported to concentration camps and ultimately murdered. Above all, THE LAST DAYS, is a potent depiction of personal strength and courage. Director James Moll joins us to talk about the film’s recent remastering and upcoming re-release, the enduring power of the five survivor’s stories and why the THE LAST DAYS continues to cast a very long and cautionary shadow over contemporary history.
About the filmmaker – James Moll’s work as a documentary filmmaker has earned him an Oscar, two Emmys and a Grammy, among many other awards. A protege of Steven Spielberg, Moll’s career has focused mostly on non-fiction story telling. Moll recently directed and produced of Foo Fighters Back and Forth, a feature documentary about the sixteen year career of the rock band Foo Fighters, and most recently produced Always Faithful, a feature-length documentary about American military war dogs and their handlers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Together with Matt Damon serving as executive producer, Moll directed and produced the sports adventure documentary Running the Sahara. Filmed in eight countries, the film follows three elite athletes as they attempt be the first to run across the entire Sahara Desert. Moll was the director/editor and producer of Inheritance, for which he received an Emmy Award and was nominated for a second. The film is about the psychological legacy that a prominent Nazi commander (Amon Goethe) left upon his daughter. The NBC feature documentary Price for Peace was directed and produced by Moll, executive produced by Stephen Ambrose and Steven Spielberg. The film focused on WWII in the Pacific, and was hosted by Tom Brokaw. Moll received an Academy Award in 1999 for directing and editing the feature documentary The Last Days, executive produced by Steven Spielberg, chronicling the lives of five Hungarian Holocaust survivors. Moll produced Broken Silence, a collection of five foreign-language documentaries that premiered on primetime television in Russia, Poland, Argentina, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Moll has produced many programs for television, including programming for A&E, Hallmark, Vh1, TBS and History. Survivors of the Holocaust, a documentary produced for TBS earned Moll a Peabody Award and his first Emmy Award (the film was nominated for three). In addition to his work as a filmmaker, Moll established and operated The Shoah Foundation (currently the USC Shoah Foundation Institute) with Steven Spielberg for the purpose of videotaping Holocaust survivor testimonies around the world. The Foundation videotaped over 50,000 testimonies, in 57 countries. Born in Allentown, PA and raised in Los Angeles, Moll earned a degree from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Before graduation, he worked in feature film development for film producer Lauren Shuler Donner (Mr. Mom and the X-Men films). Moll is a member of the DGA, the Motion Picture Academy, and the Television Academy. Moll serves on the Executive Committee of the Documentary Branch of the Motion Picture Academy, and as co-chair for the DGA Documentary Award.For more: allentownproductions.com
Magnificent! Breathtaking!” – Joe Morgenstern, WALL STREET JOURNAL
“Unforgettable!” – Kevin Thomas, LOS ANGELES TIMES
After a startling opening image of extreme tension, first-time solo director Robert Machoian’s stark, slow-burn drama never quite goes where you expect. An evocative and atmospheric transmission from wintry Utah, THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS is a compact, economical portrait of a husband and father trying to keep it together while seething with rage during a trial separation from his wife. An interior drama set mostly outside, on the vast, lonely street where David (a knockout Clayne Crawford) stays with his ailing father just a few doors up from his wife Niki (Sepideh Moafi) and their four kids, Machoian’s film compassionately depicts a family in crisis, while moving at the ominous pace of a thriller. A complex, brooding soundscape from Peter Albrechtsen that seems to emanate directly from the head of its disturbed protagonist, and a claustrophobic aspect ratio contribute to the powerful emotional register of this impressive new work of American independent cinema. Director and writer Robert Machoian joins us for a conversation on the layered storylines, pulling together a superb cast and the importance of calibrating the appropriate atmospherics, such as sound and cinematography, to create a compelling film that punches way above it’s weight class.
About the filmmaker – Robert Machoian – Director & Writer. Born in the small town of King City California, and raised up in the DIY Punk culture, Robert has been taking photographs his whole life and making films for well over a decade. His films have premiered at the Sundance, SXSW, LA, and Tribeca Film Festivals in the States and have screened at festivals around the world. His second feature, God Bless the Child, made with his directing partner Robert Ojeda-Beck, received a rave review in The New York Times and won numerous awards, including best film at CPH:DOX, even though it was a narrative hybrid. Robert and Rodrigo were then nominated for a Cinema Eye Honors Heterdox and Indie Spirit Filmmaker to Watch Awards. Focusing on people living everyday lives whose stories often go untold, they bring their unique vision to weave deeply personal stories that absorb their audiences. Robert has won awards for his cinematography and his photographs have appeared in magazines at Filmmaker Magazine, Indiewire, and Bright Ideas. His work comes from the intimate experiences of his life and the lives of those around him. In 2019 Robert had his fourth short film go to the Sundance Film Festival, which won the Jury Prize for Directing. He is currently working on his first solo feature film. For more: robertmachoian.com
About the filmmaker – Clayne Crawford Producer and Lead Actor is an Alabama native that made his jump to Los Angeles in 1997 and immediately began work in numerous theatre productions. It wasn’t long before his talents were recognized on the big screen with major roles in A Walk to Remember, Swimfan, and A Love Song for Bobby Long. Clayne continued to build his fan base with eclectic roles on hit TV shows such as 24, The Glades, All Signs of Death, and Rectify. His most recent success was the lead role of Martin Riggs in the TV series Lethal Weapon.For more: claynecrawford.online
“A rural counterpart to Marriage Story … driven by a viscerally raw performance from Clayne Crawford.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
“Crawford’s immaculate performance cements The Killing of Two Lovers as required viewing.” – The Playlist
“The Killing of Two Lovers is flawless in so many ways; the poignant acting, the brilliant sound design, with a narrative so crisp and succinct that not a single moment is wasted.” – Natasha Alvar, Cultured Vultures
“It can best be defined as a cautionary tale dedicated to the fragility of the family structure in the United States, a showcase of a radically talented filmmaker and a dedication to the painful reality of love.” – Jonathan Christian, The Playlist
“Arresting… a poignant, unsentimental depiction of a common circumstance, lent intriguing frisson by the rigor of Machoian’s overall aesthetic.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
In Stephen Maxwell Johnson’s powerful new film, High Ground, a young indigenous man, Gutjuk, teams up with a World War I soldier / ex-sniper, Travis, to track down the dangerous Bayawara, a fierce warrior in the Territory, who is also his uncle. As Travis and Gutjuk journey through the outback they begin to earn each other’s trust, but when the truths of Travis’ past actions are suddenly revealed, it is he who becomes the hunted. High Ground was conceived as a story that would challenge accepted notions of the colonial settlement of Australia. High Ground is a powerful human drama, instilled with a strong sense of hope and fear, a story of treachery, heroism, sacrifice, freedom and love, misguided beliefs, an unequal struggle for power, and grief. But above all it is a story about the finding of one’s roots. Director Stephen Maxwell Johnson joins us for a conversation on the shameful treatment the indigenous peoples of Australia have suffered under, the denial of that history and why it was so important that High Ground reflect the human drama, instilled with a strong sense of hope and fear, but above all a story about the finding of one’s roots.
Director’s Statement – At the heart of High Ground is the tragic story of Frontier encounters and the missed opportunity between two cultures, black and white. High Ground was conceived as a story that would challenge accepted notions of the settlement of Australia. Faced with the myth of terra nullius the aim with the film is to create a new mythology and present a different perspective on how this country was made. It explores the themes of identity and culture and the attempts that were made to preserve and progress culture in the face of an overwhelming threat. High Ground is a story with mythic proportions with complexity and no easy answers. This story presents a view that there really is no such thing as settlement it’s all about conquest, it explores the way in which society is built and how connections are made between people and it exposes the shameful truth of our frontier history but rather than choosing to dramatize a specific historical event ‘High Ground’ draws on contact history from a variety of locations – a fiction to illustrate a deeper truth. High Ground is a powerful human drama, instilled with a strong sense of hope and fear, a story of treachery, heroism, sacrifice, freedom and love, misguided beliefs, an unequal struggle for power, and grief. But above all it is a story about the finding of one’s roots. My aim has been to entertain and immerse an audience in an environment teeming with unexpected threats, and to take them on a ride through an aspect of our history that is under-represented and hopefully encourage them to rethink the Australian story.
About the filmmaker – Stephen Maxwell Johnson grew up in the Bahamas, Africa and the Northern Territory of Australia. He began his film and television career at Channel 9 as a trainee cameraman and has worked on mainstream drama, news and current affairs shows. He attended acting school in London and then headed back to the Northern Territory intent on making his first movie. Stephen established a production house and narrow cast television station in Darwin and directed, produced and photographed drama, documentaries, television commercials, animation, corporate films and rock clips all over the Northern Territory, Australia and many remote Indigenous communities. Stephens work include his multi award winning rock clips for the band Yothu Yindi including ‘Treaty’ an AFI award for best Children’s drama ‘Out There’, an AFI nomination for best direction in television and his first movie which he directed, executive produced and script edited ‘Yolngu Boy’. Stephen has recently completed his second feature film ‘High Ground’ which has been 20 years in the making. High Ground premiered at the at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2020 and will be released in cinemas 2021.
“Australian storytelling that packs a punch and pushes you to think deeply about the history of this country, High Ground captures the raw beauty of Arnhem Land as it does the brutality of colonialism.” Wenlei Ma, News.com.au
“More intimate than epic, but gorgeous, stately and tense, it captures a last burst of tit-for-tat reprisals in a country starting to face its genocidal past and racist present.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“…High Ground is an overwhelming achievement of cinematic brilliance. It continues the legacy of Sweet Country by exposing the horrifying actions of White Australians…” – Andrew F. Peirce, The Curb
“High Ground is a deceptively simple story about the lingering consequences of revenge through racism taken to heights of excellence due to beautiful vistas, top representation of Aboriginal culture and its brutal depiction of violence.” – Harris Dang, The AU Review
“In the magnetic Nayinggul, superb as the boy on the brink of manhood who must choose whether to reject anger or embrace it, the film showcases a notable new talent.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International
The latest caper / drama / comedy from director Paul Tanter STEALING CHAPLIN was inspired by a surreal plot that took place over 40 years ago. Two Las Vegas based con men decided to dig up and steal the corpse of the legendary silent-era comedian Charlie Chaplin in order to ransom it. The bizarre plot grabs the attention of the nation and sets in motion an escalating reward offer by the family. Before long every local lowlife, criminal and dirty cop is looking to cash in on the easy money. STEALING CHAPLIN is driven forward by a slew of quirky but captivating performances that includes the film’s co-writers Simon Phillips (Age of the Living Dead, No Easy Days), Doug Phillips (Not All Who Wander, Butchers) and producer Ken Bressers (The Nights Before Christmas, Not All Who Wander). The prolific British director Paul Tanter (The Nights Before Christmas, Dystopia, and Kill Ratio) joins us to talk about the inspiration for the film, finding the right tone for a multi-genre story and the lightning fast pace he and his crew worked at to make STEALING CHAPLIN.
In the late 1960s, in the aftermath of the Watts Uprising and against the backdrop of the continuing Civil Rights Movement and the escalating Vietnam War, a group of African and African-American students entered the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, as part of an Ethno-Communications initiative designed to be responsive to communities of color (also including Asian, Chicano and Native American communities). Now referred to as the “L.A. Rebellion,” these mostly unheralded artists created a unique cinematic landscape, as—over the course of two decades—students arrived, mentored one another and passed the torch to the next group. Beyond the films themselves, what makes the L.A. Rebellion movement a discovery worthy of a place in film history is the vitality of its filmmakers, their utopian vision of a better society, their sensitivity to children and gender issues, their willingness to question any and all received wisdom, their identification with the liberation movements in the Third World, and their expression of Black pride and dignity. As part of the 2021 TCM (Turner Classic Movies) Film Festival is spotlighting two of the L.A. Rebellion’s leading lights, Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry in the festival’s Special Collections section. Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry join us for a conversation on their recollections the birth of the L.A. Rebellion and the inspiration for their life altering decision to become filmmakers.
About the filmmaker – Charles Burnett is a writer-director whose work has received extensive honors. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, his family soon moved to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Burnett studied creative writing at UCLA before entering the University’s graduate film program. His thesis project, Killer of Sheep (1977), won accolades at film festivals and a critical devotion; in 1990, it was among the first titles named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. European financing allowed Burnett to shoot his second feature, My Brother’s Wedding (1983), but a rushed debut prevented the filmmaker from completing his final cut until 2007. In 1988, Burnett was awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur (“genius grant”) Fellowship and shortly thereafter Burnett became the first African American recipient of the National Society of Film Critics’ best screenplay award, for To Sleep withAnger (1990). Burnett made the highly acclaimed “Nightjohn” in 1996 for the Disney Channel; his subsequent television works include “Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding” (1998), “Selma, Lord, Selma” (1999), an episode of the seven-part series “Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues” (2003) and “Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property” (2003), which was shown on the PBS series “Independent Lens.” Burnett has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the J. P. Getty Foundation. In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art showcased his work with a month-long retrospective.
To Sleep with Anger – Writer and Director Charles Burnett – A slow-burning masterwork of the early 1990s, this third feature by Charles Burnett is a singular piece of American mythmaking. In a towering performance, Danny Glover plays the enigmatic southern drifter Harry, a devilish charmer who turns up out of the blue on the South Central Los Angeles doorstep of his old friends. In short order, Harry’s presence seems to cast a chaotic spell on what appeared to be a peaceful household, exposing smoldering tensions between parents and children, tradition and change, virtue and temptation. Interweaving evocative strains of gospel and blues with rich, poetic-realist images, To Sleep with Anger is a sublimely stirring film from an autonomous artistic sensibility, a portrait of family resilience steeped in the traditions of African American mysticism and folklore.
About the filmmaker – Billy Woodberry Born in Dallas in 1950, Billy Woodberry is one of the founders of the L.A. Rebellion film movement. His first feature film Bless Their Little Hearts (1983) is a pioneer and essential work of this movement, influenced by Italian neo-realism and the work of Third Cinema filmmakers. The film was awarded with an OCIC and Interfilm awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2013. His latest feature film And when I die, I won’t stay dead (2015) about the beat poet Bob Kaufman was the opening film of MoMA’s Doc Fortnight in 2016. Woodberry has appeared in Charles Burnett’s “When It Rains” (1995) and provided narration for Thom Andersen’s Red HOLLYWOOD” (1996) and James Benning’s “Four Corners”(1998). His work has been screened at Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Harvard Film Archive, Camera Austria Symposium, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Tate Modern and Centre Pompidou. He received his MFA degree from UCLA in 1982 where he also taught at the School of Theater, Film and Television. Since 1989 Billy Woodberry is a faculty member of the School of Film/Video and the School of Art at the California Institute of the Arts.
Bless Their Little Hearts – Director / Producer / Editor Billy Woodberry – A key masterpiece of the L.A Rebellion, Bless Their Little Hearts distills the social concerns and aesthetics of that trailblazing movement in African American cinema. Billy Woodberry’s film showcases his attentive eye, sensitivity to the nuances of community and family, and the power of the blues. Searching for steady work, Charlie Banks (Nate Hardman) views his chronic unemployment as a kind of spiritual trial. But day work and selling a few catfish can’t sustain a family of five. While his wife, Andais (Kaycee Moore), works to support them with dignity, Charlie finds comfort for his wounded sense of manhood in an affair that threatens his marriage and family.At the heart of this devastatingly beautiful film is the couple’s agonizing confrontation – shot in one continuous ten-minute take – that ranks as “one of the great domestic cataclysms of modern movies.” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker) Named to the National Film Registry, Bless Their Little Hearts features contributions by two iconic American artists: Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep, To Sleep With Anger), who wrote and shot the film, and Kaycee Moore (Daughters of the Dust), whose powerful performance as Andais Banks remains a revelation. Film restoration by Ross Lipman with Billy Woodberry at UCLA Film & Television Archive. 2K Digital restoration by Re-Kino, Warsaw. English captions and Spanish subtitles.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM)is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. With more than two decades as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events such as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Big Screen Classics series in partnership with Fathom Events, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app. Fans can also enjoy a TCM curated classics experience on HBO Max.
As America currently deals with a rash of anti-Asian sentiment, FAR EAST DEEP SOUTHis a deeply moving story that offers a poignant perspective on race relations, immigration and the deep roots of Chinese Americans in our national identity. The award-winning documentary follows Charles Chiu and his family (including his son, producer Baldwin Chiu, and daughter-in-law, director Larissa Lam) as they travel from California to Mississippi to find answers about Charles’ father, K.C. Lou. A retired Air Force reservist, Charles was left behind in China as a baby and is reluctant to discuss his family’s complicated past with his sons, Baldwin and Edwin. The family’s emotional journey to a place they’ve never seen leads to stunning revelations and a crash course on the surprising history of Chinese immigrants in the segregated South. Through encounters with local residents who remember K.C., as well as interviews with historians, Congresswoman Judy Chu and others, the family’s trip becomes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for discovery and healing.FAR EAST DEEP SOUTH is based off the award-winning short film, Finding Cleveland. The film presents a very personal and unique perspective on immigration, race and American identity. Director Larissa Lam and producer Baldwin Chiu join us for a conversation on how a family trip and personal film project evolved into a revelatory story and sweeping historical overview of the immigrant Chinese experience and deeply moving family saga.
About the filmmaker – Larissa Lam, Director, Writer and Producer, is making her feature film directorial debut with the documentary Far East Deep South. The film has won garnered awards at numerous film festivals including CAAMFest, Cinequest, Oxford Film Festival and Seattle Asian American Film Festival. She previously directed the acclaimed short documentary Finding Cleveland, which is the basis for Far East Deep South. She has produced TV shows such as “Top 3” for JCTV, music videos and other short form videos such as “A Day in the Life of an Engineer” for Intel’s Stay With It campaign. She was part of a distinguished group of filmmakers invited to be part of the Smithsonian’s History Film Forum Emerging Filmmakers Lab. In addition to directing Far East Deep South, Lam is an award-winning singer and songwriter who has released four critically acclaimed solo albums, including her most recent, Love and Discovery. Her song, “I Feel Alive” won the Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Dance Song and was the theme song for a national suicide prevention campaign. Lam began her career as the Chief Financial Officer of NSOUL Records and has written & produced music for TV (The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Oz, E!, TLC), film (Zulu, Gone) and video games (Konami, Square Enix). Lam is passionate about empowering and inspiring others through film, music and speaking engagements. A dynamic speaker, she has spoken on diversity and inclusion, the Asian American experience among other topics at TEDx, Leadercast and numerous universities such as Yale, UCLA and MIT. For nine years, Lam hosted a talk show on JCTV interviewing prominent authors, humanitarians and celebrities. Currently, she hosts the podcast, “Love, Discovery and Dim Sum“, which she co-hosts with her husband, Baldwin Chiu. She is a native of Diamond Bar, CA and graduated UCLA with a degree in Business Economics.
About the filmmaker – Producer Baldwin Chiu and his family are the subjects of Far East Deep South and he teamed up with his wife, Larissa Lam, to produce the film. The film will make its national broadcast debut on “America Reframed” on World Channel (PBS) in May 2021. His family’s story has previously been featured on NBC News and NPR among other media outlets. He is a graduate of the ACT One film producing program, and he previously produced the award-winning documentary short, Finding Cleveland. He was born in San Francisco and raised in Sacramento, where he later graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a degree in mechanical engineering.
STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET takes audiences inside the minds and hearts of the “Sesame Street” creators, artists, writers, and educators who together established one of the most influential and enduring children’s programs in television history. Inspired by the activism of the late 1960s, socially conscious television executive Joan Ganz Cooney and Sesame Workshop co-founder Lloyd Morrisett conducted a revolutionary experiment: to harness the burgeoning power of television and create an educational, impactful, uplifting and entertaining show that could reach children nationwide, especially those living in urban areas. Cooney recruited trailblazing Muppets creator Jim Henson and acclaimed children’s television writer and director Jon Stone to craft the iconic and beloved world of “Sesame Street.”STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET reintroduces this visionary “gang” of mission-driven artists, writers, and educators that audaciously interpreted radical changes in society and created one of most impactful television programs in history. With more than 20 interviews with original writers, cast, and crew, and never-before-seen behind the scenes footage, STREET GANG is told from the inside with humor and emotion, weaving together personal narratives and eyewitness accounts. The film explores the original mission of the “gang” that created this cultural phenomenon, now spanning 50-plus years and reaching more than 150 countries. Director Marilyn Agrelo joins us to talk about the enduring legacy of SESAME STREET as well as the beautifully disruptive and groundbreaking approach to connecting with children and in doing so made them into collaborators and the beneficiaries of this illuminating enterprise.
“Street Gang is a wonderful documentary that would play extraordinarily well whenever it was released, but in this present moment? It feels positively miraculous; a much-needed happy-sad warm blanket indeed.” – Shaun Munro, Flickering Myth
“It’s hard to ask for much more than a doc that captures creatives thoughtfully sneaking the civil revolution as well as basic education into children’s TV and includes a Muppets blooper reel.” – Chris Willman, Variety
“It’s genuinely, enormously inspirational to watch this ragtag band of beatniks and beardos turning sinister Madison Avenue techniques into instruments of learning.” – Sean Burns, Spliced Personality
“Carries tremendous power as an emotional reminder of such a triumphant run, also working beautifully as a reunion with old faces and as an introduction to key behind-the-scenes figures helping to bring inclusion to the masses.” – Brian Orndorf, BrianOrndorf.com
“Street Gang is a loving, emotional tribute to a global brand that tackled racism, education and more with puppets, music through a street that everyone wanted to live on – Sesame Street…” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic
PARIS CALLIGRAMMES is an epic self-portrait of Ulrike Ottinger, one of Germany’s most prominent contemporary avant-garde artists, known for her paintings, photographs, and, above all, her films. An impressive and extensive archive of sensorial memories, historical photographs, and documentary footage traces the early influences of Ottinger’s life in Paris in the 1960s. This was a time marked by her integration into the rich intellectual and cultural circles of the city, but also engagement in the political and social eruptions around the Algerian War and May 1968. These varied dimensions of her experience make PARIS CALLIGRAMMES an essential historical time capsule, beautifully interwoven with the most precious of memories and images. In a rich torrent of archival audio and visuals, paired with extracts from her own artworks and films, Ottinger resurrects the old Saint-Germaindes-Prés and Latin Quarter, with their literary cafés and jazz clubs, and revisits encounters with Jewish exiles, life with her artistic community, the world views of Parisian ethnologists and philosophers, the political upheavals of the Algerian War and May 1968, and the legacy of the colonial era. Director Ulrike Ottinger (Seven Women, Seven Sins, Ticket of No Return, Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia) joins us for a conversation on her life as young painter in Paris in the 1960s, and her personal memories of Parisian bohemianism and the serious social, political and cultural upheavals of the time into a cinematic “figure poem” (calligram) in “Paris Calligrammes”.
“In Paris Calligrammes, the artist Ulrike Ottinger casts a highly personal and subjective gaze back to the twentieth century. At the heart of her film is Paris: its protagonist is the city itself, its streets, neighborhoods, bookstores, cinemas, but also its artists, authors, and intellectuals. It is a place of magical appeal, an artistic biotope, but also a place where the demons of the twentieth century still confront us.” – Bernd Scherer
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“One of the great works of first-person cinema. Ottinger’s personal and political masterwork. Extraordinary; a work of vital and energetic modernism.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“Enriching, stimulating; vital and contradictory. Captures the zeitgeist as experienced by a young woman eager to soak up the cultural riches around her, which she then distilled through her own sensibility to create paintings reflecting the era’s upheavals.” – Jay Weissberg, Variety
“Never a dull moment; the work of a consummate artist who understands the importance of the form matching the story.” – Kaleem Aftab, Cineuropa
“Her cinema is restless, Odyssean: full of stories of exile and adventure. [‘Paris Calligrammes’ is] an homage to the intellectual and artistic life of the city in the 1960s.” – Amy Sherlock, Frieze Magazine
Yung Chang’s intimate and harrowing latest film, WUHAN WUHAN, is an observational documentary unfolding during February and March, 2020 at the height of the pandemic in Wuhan city, where the coronavirus began. With unprecedented access at the peak of the pandemic lockdown, WUHAN WUHAN goes beyond the statistics and salacious headlines and puts a human experience into the early days of the mysterious virus as Chinese citizens and frontline healthcare workers grappled with an invisible, deadly killer. WUHAN WUHAN focuses on five heart-wrenching and endearing stories: a soft-hearted ER doctor and an unflappable ICU nurse from the COVID-19 hospital; a compassionate volunteer psychologist at a temporary hospital; a tenacious mother and son who are COVID-19 patients navigating the byzantine PRC healthcare system; and a volunteer driver for medical workers and his 9 month pregnant wife whose heartfelt story forms the backbone of this film.In a time when the world needs greater cross-cultural understanding, WUHAN WUHAN is an invaluable depiction of a metropolis joining together to overcome a crisis. Award-winning filmmaker Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze, This is Not a Movie) joins us for a conversation on the daunting challenges associated with a sprawling story with no end in sight and an unknowable trajectory.
Director’s Statement – As a Chinese person who grew-up in North America, I feel strongly committed to telling a nuanced story that doesn’t generalize a population of people and reveals them to be individuals, not just a monolith. Nationalism builds walls and this is not the intention of this film. In WUHAN WUHAN, the lives of the people we follow are individually a document of perseverance, but collectively they represent the profound humanity we universally hope for in times of crisis. I’m driven to make this film because of anti-Asian racism quelled by double-speak and mis-truths from leaders around the world, who obfuscate the realities of this pandemic; that in the end it is the everyday person, the essential frontline workers, the volunteers, the intergenerational families, it is us, who must navigate the ups-and-downs of this unprecedented and historic event that will shape our lives forever. In a way, as systems and governments fail us, the people have come together. We will survive. – Yung Chang
About the filmmaker – Ying Chang is the director of Up the Yangtze (2007), China Heavyweight (2012), and The Fruit Hunters (2012). He is currently completing a screenplay for his first dramatic feature, Eggplant, which was selected in 2015 to participate in the prestigious Sundance Labs. Chang’s films have premiered at international film festivals including Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, and IDFA and have played theatrically in cinemas around the world. Up the Yangtze was one of the top-grossing documentary releases in 2008. In 2013, China Heavyweight became the most widely screened social-issue documentary in Chinese history with an official release in 200 Mainland Chinese cinemas. His films have been critically-acclaimed, receiving awards in Paris, Milan, Vancouver, San Francisco, the Canadian Genie, Taiwan Golden Horse, Cinema Eye Honors, among others and have been nominated at Sundance, the Independent Spirit Awards and the Emmys. Chang’s films have been shown on international broadcasters including PBS, National Geographic, ARTE, ZDF, Channel 4, HBO, TMN, NHK, CBC, TV2, SBS and EBS. Chang is the recipient of the Don Haig Award, the Yolande and Pierre Perrault Award, and the Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award. He is a member of the Directors Guild of Canada. In 2013, he was invited to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.