Being in a Muslim family in modern day India can sometimes be a struggle for 20-year-old Kaikasha and her two sisters. Their father wants them to wear burkas and to have arranged marriages, but these determined young women have dreams of their own. This beautiful and rousing story follows Kaikasha in her quest to be the first Muslim on the Mumbai women’s cricket team and then follows her into a corridor of uncertainty after a shocking turn of events changes the fate of her family. You’ll want to cheer for Kaikasha and her sisters as they courageously respond to the circumstances that threaten to undermine their dreams. Director Jeremy Guy joins us for a conversation on this insightful and inspiring story of female empowerment through sport, against a background of religious and cultural roadblocks.
Carter Pilcher founded Shorts International in 2000. Coming from a background in both investment banking and law, Carter has made Shorts International the world’s leading short movie Entertainment Company, functioning as distributor, broadcaster and producer. Carter has extensive experience in short movie production and short movie entertainment. He is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a member of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch of The US Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) – the guys who pick the Oscars. Carter, originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, received a B.S. from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a J.D. from Georgetown University, is a member of the New York Bar and attended the London Business School Corporate Finance Evening Program. Carter Pilcher has been and continues to be the highlight of Oscar season here on Film School. His insight, commitment and love of films and filmmaking always makes for a lively and informative conversation on some of the best films you will see all year.
Written & directed by Michele Remsen (“Juke,” “Two in the Morning”),Toss It will make it’s world premiere during the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival at the LA Live Regal Cinemas on Sunday, February 25th. Opening on the last two bitter singles at a wedding — smart-skeptical Emily and obsessive-compulsive-flirt Finn – (latter-day Rosalind Russel and Cary Grant types) who can witty-banter-for-days and seem a perfect match — then everything gets tossed. Finn wonders why he’s so fucked up, and Emily wonders why she’s so drawn to him. A younger couple, sophisticated parents, a wise great-uncle, and a flaky friend impact both, driving them apart until they take a leap. Then a major curve-ball hits, the curtain gets pulled-back on dearly held traditions and reveals what made them who they are. Discovering the real-deal goes down in back-hallways, Finn and Emily kick against convention to find some kind of truth of their own.Toss It explores women as the real power players because women, by and large, run and nurture the fundamental unit of society: family. Director and screenwriter joins us to talk about love, relationships, fast-paced filmmaking and writing modern day cinematic dialog.
Heroin(e) focuses on the once a bustling industrial town, Huntington, West Virginia. Huntington has become the epicenter of America’s modern opioid epidemic, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average. This flood of heroin now threatens this Appalachian city with a cycle of generational addiction, lawlessness, and poverty. But within this distressed landscape, Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon (Hollow) shows a different side of the fight against drugs — one of hope. Sheldon highlights three women working to change the town’s narrative and break the devastating cycle of drug abuse one person at a time. Fire Chief Jan Rader spends the majority of her days reviving those who have overdosed; Judge Patricia Keller presides over drug court, handing down empathy along with orders; and Necia Freeman of Brown Bag Ministry feeds meals to the women selling their bodies for drugs. As America’s opioid crisis threatens to tear communities apart, the Netflix original short documentary HEROIN(E) shows how the chain of compassion holds one town together. Director Elaine McMillion Sheldon is a Peabody Award winning, Emmy nominated filmmaker and now Oscar nominated from West Virginia. HEROIN(E) was produced in association with the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), as part of a new initiative to support women filmmakers. In 2016, Chicken & Egg Pictures awarded her with the inaugural “Breakthrough Filmmaker” award. Sheldon was a 2013 Future of Storytelling Fellow, and named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2013 by Filmmaker Magazine and one of “50 People Changing The South” in 2015 by Southern Living Magazine. She has also contributed several shorts to The New York Times Op-Docs. She joins us to talk about her clear-eyed, bracing film that shines a bright and intimate light on an epidemic that is destroying large swaths of American society.
5 Doctors follows Spencer, a miserable young stand-up comedian and hypochondriac, convinced that he’s dying from a bizarre array of symptoms. After a few years trying to make it in L.A., he’s got nothing to show for his efforts except for a viral YouTube video and an indifferent agent who does most of her business via text. Out of options and armed with a binder full of WebMD printouts, Spencer takes drastic action: he flies cross-country to his quaint hometown in upstate New York to consult with his five childhood doctors in a single day, planning to take the redeye back to L.A. that night without seeing any of his friends or family. Spencer’s unwitting accomplice is Jay, who happily agrees to chauffeur him to his appointments. Tearing through town, eluding his loved ones, Spencer is prodded, dilated, and biopsied into accepting that the cause of his symptoms and his reasons for coming home may be more complicated than he thought. 5 Doctors stars: Matt Porter (“New Timers,”“Hasta La Vista”), Max Azulay (“Argyle,” “First Time”), Emily Walton (“Submission,” “Deliverance”), Bobby Moynihan (“Saturday Night Live,” CBS’ “Me, Myself & I”), Eddie Pepitone (“Old School,” “The Muppets”), Peter Friedman (“Love & Other Drugs,” “Single White Female”), Adam Dannheisser (“Down to Earth,” “Nine Minutes”), Jodi Long (“The Hot Chick,” “Splash”), Jeremy Shamos (“The Big Sick,” “Magic in the Moonlight”), Jordan Baker (“Escape from L.A.,” “Another Earth”),and Annabelle Zasowski (“The Blacklist,”“Orange is the New Black”). The co-directors Matt Porter and Max Azulay join us to talk about their funny and touching debut feature.
Days of Power tells the story of a Swiss pop star , Milow the Girl,(Jenny Hutton) the who disappears while on tour, along with her assistant, backup singer, and drummer; they find themselves kidnapped, hidden within a concealed puppy mill industry. The film, written and produced by Michel Grey (“Trinity Rising,” “Foreclosure Dogs,” and “Beyond The Bombs”), and the directorial debut from Jason Pagnoni, was inspired by actual events.The film has received incredible support from multiple rescue groups and animal rights organizations around the country including: Rescue Ohio English Bulldogs, Pacc911, Paws New England, Barcs, Faithful Friends Animal Society, and SPCA of Tennessee. Days of Power stars: Oscar®-nominee Eric Roberts (“The Dark Knight,” “Runaway Train”), Eliza Roberts (“Animal House,” “Doctor Who”), Simone Reyes (”Running Russell Simmons,” “Cemetery High”), award-winner Jenny Hutton (“Boderna Fluff,” “Forgotten Kingdom: Genesis”), award-winning musician/actors Paul Lewis (“Radio Gods,” “Foreclosure Dogs”) and Keaton Simons (“The Legends of Nethiah,” “Feast”). Writer and producer Michel Greyjoins us for a conversation on modern horror filmmaking and the hidden scourge of puppy mills.
AMERICAN FOLK tells the story of two strangers grounded on the morning of September 11, 2001. Elliott (Joe Purdy) and Joni (Amber Rubarth) are unexpectedly thrust together amidst the chaos of that historic day. With little in common but both needing to get to NYC urgently, they accept help from Joni’s family friend Scottie (Krisha Fairchild) who lends the duo a rusty old 1972 Chevy Van. The shock and stress of 9/11 quickly threatens to derail their cross country journey until the pair discover what they do have in common: a love for old folk songs. Armed with a pile of guitars left in the van from Scottie’s touring days, Elliott and Joni raise their voices together (and with those they meet on the road), re-discovering the healing nature of music and bearing witness to a nation of people who, even while mourning, manage to lift each other up in the wake of tragedy. With a refreshing gentleness and beauty, AMERICAN FOLK lovingly chronicles the spaces between the suffering and fear, where music has the power to connect. Musicians Joe Purdy and Amber Rubarth give nuanced and thoughtful performances, with voices that are uplifting and achingly gorgeous. Filmed over 3,500 miles in 14 states, AMERICAN FOLK serves as a love letter to the natural beauty of America, to the style of music that has shepherded us through historically tough times and to the kindness of all of the “folk” that make America what it is. Director David Heinz and Cinematographer Devin Whetstone talk about the challenges of filming in cramped quarters, capturing the spirit of a surprisingly united people coping with a disintegrating civic society.
“The songs are lovely, and the first-time actors give performances that grow warmer as the film progresses.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“David Heinz’s excellent debut is an ardent plea for togetherness in a divided world. Aided by his leading actors, talented cinematographer, and ear-worm of a soundtrack, Joni and Elliott’s journey is a privilege to share.” – Chloe Walker, Film Inquiry
“A simple story, beautifully told, American Folk is a timely reminder of a dream not yet dead.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“The actors are both accomplished folk musicians, so the music is amazing. The film is quiet and peaceful as they journey in a forced slow pace back to the epicenter.” – Bradley Gibson, Film Threat
Friday, January 19, 2018 – Human Affairs, Director Charlie Birns
HUMAN AFFAIRS is a compassionate drama about a young, successful theatre couple in New York City who meet their surrogate mother for the first time, and embark on a startling and intimate weekend of surprises and emotional revelations. Featuring powerful performances from Kerry Condon (Better Call Saul, Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri) and Dominic Fusuma (13 Hours, Focus) and a standout portrayal by young French actress Julie Sokolowski (star of Bruno Dumont’s Hadewijch) as Genevieve, the film also features David Harbour (Stranger Things). Writer / director / actor Charlie Birns has crafted a nuanced debut feature drama about embarking on the precarious closeness of surrogacy while bravely searching for a connection. Featuring exquisite cinematography by Sean Price Williams, Good Time and Heaven Knows What and with the Safdie Brothers,Listen Up Philip and Queen of Earth with Alex Ross Perry, the HUMAN AFFAIRS experiments with new modes of cinematic storytelling, employing raw performance, unexpected sound design, editing, narration and the use of still photography to dazzling effect. Director Charlie Burns joins us for a conversation on the challenges and rewards of directing his first feature film and the film’s debut at the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival.
Slamdance Film Festival narrative feature “Quest,” starring: Dash Mihok (“Ray Donovan,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” and“Romeo + Juliet”),and Lou Diamond Phillips (“La Bamba,” “Courage Under Fire,” and “Young Guns”) is included in the Slamdance 2018 Special Screening section. “Quest,” a beloved audience award winner that debuted at the Mill Valley Film Festival this fall, and has continued to win award after award throughout it’s festival journey. Quest’s will debut on Monday, January 22nd, 2018, at the Slamdance Film Festival. This powerful film addresses the brutality of child abuse in a way we haven’t seen before, winning praise from the foster child community, among others who see the plight of this epidemic firsthand.Quest is a story that speaks to the power of love, and it’s ability to reach us even through the darkness and pain that surround us. Based on a true story, the film follows an uncertain friendship between a 12-year-old graffiti addict “ Mills” (Greg Kasyan, in his debut role), who faces abuse from his stepfather (Lou Diamond Phillips), and a devoted teacher & coach named Tim Moellering (Dash Mihok), who believes there is no such thing as a bad kid – only a bad situation. Based on the stories of their lives in the Bay Area of California, the first draft of Quest was written together by first time director Santiago Rizzo, and his mentor & teacher Tim Moellering (whom has sadly since passed away from Pancreatic Cancer before he could see the film made). Director, producer and writer joins us for a conversation on his debut film.
introducing us to the charismatic Gabriel Cordell. After hitting rock-bottom, this newly sober paraplegic attempts to save his gang-banger (and barely out of rehab) nephew’s life by bringing him along on a record breaking 3,100-mile wheelchair trek across the United States. This intense trip will challenge Gabriel physically and emotionally as he becomes a vision of hope for countless strangers along his journey. Gabriel’s support crew is an unlikely team, that become a family. All of them are from very different backgrounds and each dealing with their own issues – PTSD, homelessness, unemployment, family estrangement and sobriety struggles. What started out as a challenge to push an unmodified wheelchair from California to New York, morphs into a most transcendent journey that fills your heart for long after the movie ends and the screen grows dark. In an age divided, Roll With Me ignites our common humanity and urges us to find our inner hero or heroine. We can be heroes…every single day that we reach outside of ourselves. Director Lisa France joins us to talk about her own journey and the challenges involved with a cross-country trek with 9 people in a small SUV and no film making experience.
Ivan Williams is a partner and Scenario’s executive vice president of finance. After a successful career as a senior business leader at major energy companies (ARCO and BP), he has been active starting up a media technology company, and executive producing feature films, Broadway musicals, musical recordings, theatrical plays, and Web tv shows. A member of Film Independent and the Sundance Institute, Ivan holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Oregon State University, and is a Dean’s M.B.A. Scholar at the UC Irvine Paul Merage School of Business, and a veteran Naval Reserve intelligence officer. An active contributor to his alma maters, Ivan serves as a member of the board of directors for Oregon State University’s Alumni Association, and is active with the University of California Irvine as chairman of the Dean’s Arts Council of the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, serving as a member of the Graduate Division’s Dean’s Leadership Council, as an entertainment industry advisory board member for the Cybersecurity Policy & Research Institute, and a founding board member of the L.A./Orange County Anteaters in the Arts organization. Ivan joins us for a conversation on the his latest projects and the exiting future of digital film and arts at the Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California, Irvine.
Mysterious events surround two travelers as they make their way across a remote American landscape. On the surface all seems normal, but what appears to be a simple vacation soon gives way to a dark and complex web of secrets. THE STRANGE ONES had its world premiere at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival where it was awarded the Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Performance for James Freedson-Jackson.
Director’s Statement – “There is a line late in the film where two teenage characters are engaged in an awkward conversation that consists more of silence than words. “It’s crazy to think,” the girl says, “that you like, never really know a person. You know?” The idea of “not knowing” is at the core of The Strange Ones. As filmmakers, we are most interested in stories that leave a strong impression but somehow stop short of surrendering a tidy explanation, and in characters that have secrets that may or may not ever be fully revealed. There is something more satisfying in this for us – as if the truth, by virtue of remaining unseen, can expand upon speculation and become something larger, more profound, and \more fascinating than a straightforward answer. Perhaps we find also that this is a more accurate reflection of real life – so often we believe we understand something or someone in their entirety, only to find out that we have only really glimpsed the surface; and that beneath lies a world of complexity that we might never fully know. In that regard, The Strange Ones is a story that presents a rather simple surface, as well as a more complicated and mysterious hidden dimension.” –
Official Website: www.thestrangeones.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheStrangeOnesFilm Twitter: www.twitter.com/thestrangeones
“Secrets curl with thick dread around a man and boy on the run from a dark past in this elliptical and mysterious road movie.” – Chris Barsanti, Film International Journal
“The Strange Ones is a solid movie on first watch that becomes a seriously good movie on second watch. Maybe that’s a poor framework for an endorsement, but the film is more than the shock of its climax.” – Andy Crump, Paste Magazine
“It’s an artful, boundary-pushing debut from Radcliffe and Wolkstein, with breakthrough performances from Freedson-Jackson, and Pettyfer, perhaps signaling a new direction in his career.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“As with all great films, it takes an angle that we may have never thought of before, and one we may not soon forget.” – Fernando Andres, Film School Rejects
Grand Saline, Texas, a town east of Dallas, has a history of racism, a history the community doesn’t talk about. This shroud of secrecy ended when Charles Moore, an elderly white preacher, self-immolated to protest the town’s racism in 2014, shining a spotlight on the town’s dark past.MAN ON FIRE untangles the pieces of this protest and questions the racism in Grand Saline today. Overall, MAN ON FIRE encapsulates the racial climate in Grand Saline and chronicles Moore’s life and death, presenting Grand Saline and Moore as two pillars of the film’s narrative: one a disjointed man seeking truth and communal repentance and the other a community whose present is inextricably tied to their past. MAN ON FIREwas Joel Fendelman’s thesis film for the completion of his MFA program at the University of Texas in Austin. The film went into production late May of 2016 and was completed late May of 2017. The crew took seven trips to the Van Zandt County area to film and compile interviews as well as a weekend of filming in Austin and one in Dallas. The recreations were filmed over three days in Austin, Texas. Director Joel Fendelman joins us to talk about what led Reverend Charles Moore to commit such a radical act, his approach to telling this timely story and MAN ON FIRE’s upcoming debut at the 2018 Slamdance Film Festival.
Ela Thier is a critically acclaimed writer, director and actor. She is known for creating dramedies that bring laughter and tears to diverse audiences across racial and socio-economic lines, and unifies audiences across political spectra. Thier’s critically acclaimed Tomorrow Ever After (2017) won numerous major festival awards. After a successful theatrical run Tomorrow Ever After is now available on numerous PPV and VOD platforms including iTunes and Amazon. Her award-winning feature, Foreign Letters, was distributed by Film Movement (2012) and shown at over 140 festivals world-wide. Thier directed over a dozen short films winning numerous Best Short awards. Her film, A Summer Rain, screened at hundreds of venues and became a YouTube sensation. Thier worked as a writer-for-hire on Puncture, starring Chris Evans. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and released by Millenium Films (2011). Thier is a recipient of the Jerome Foundation Film Production Grant (2015), was a nominee of the White House Project Emerging Artist Award (2010), and a recipient of the NYFA Fellowship Grant in Screenwriting (2008). Thier joins us to talk about the multi-platform release of Tomorrow Ever After, filmmaking and her own The Independent Film School workshops.
“My guiding principle has been to create the workshops that I would want to attend. I think back to my beginnings as a filmmaker and I design the workshops that I could have really used: ones that are packed with concrete information made easy to understand, and are super supportive and encouraging. My life would have been easier if I had gotten the encouragement that artists need.” – Ela Their on her Independent Film School workshops
Ela Thier brings a fresh perspective …Thier plays the kooky interloper with the same open and unguarded childlike naiveté as Robin Williams’ beloved alien Mork …Ultimately, “Tomorrow Ever After,” contains a hopeful message that somehow, the world just might end up a better place. – Kate Walsh, LA TIMES
Her writing and direction are resourceful and assured, and her performance is as delightful as it is imbued with political commentary …In its sweet but pointed way, saying a good deal with relatively little, and in unpredictable ways, the film is also a critique of art as corporate product, especially in the realm of sci-fi franchise extravaganzas. – Sheri Linden, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
Played with touching insight and natural beauty …provided me with a newfound hopefulness and a new sense of wonder for my fellow humans. – E. Nina Rothe, THE HUFFINGTON POST
Thier’s sensibility offers such a welcome break… inviting audiences to see our modern-day world through fresh eyes. – Peter Debruge, VARIETY
After ending her engagement and finding herself at a loss for inspiration actor Sadie Katz, finds herself up late at night searching the internet. In her loneliness, she keeps clicking on stories of others having magical chance encounters with her favorite actor and life guruBill Murray. Katz shares with the audience that she finds herself at a loss as to why she needs to meet Bill Murray but, that’s part of the intrigue and pleasure of knowing that secretly we all wish we had a little MurrayMagic in our life…which starts both Sadie and the audience on the quest of finding the unfindable and zany Bill Murray. The directorial debut from actress Katz (“Blood Feast,” “Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort”), “The Bill Murray Experience,” is being distributed by Gravitas Ventures across VOD platforms globally on December 19th, 2017.The documentary features: Joel Murray (“Mad Men”), P.J. Soles (“Stripes”), and the legend himself. At crossroads in her life director Sadie Katz joins us to talk about her magical quest to meet comedian and legend Bill Murray.
On November 28th, 1953, mild-mannered military scientist Frank Olson plunged from the window of his 13th-floor New York hotel room and died. His cause of death was described as a “fall or jump” and though many questions remained about the exact circumstances, the case was left unsolved, and Olson’s wife and three young children attempted to move on. Over two decades later, in June of 1975, the Rockefeller Commission issued a comprehensive, high-profile report on myriad illegal CIA activities that featured a passing mention of a 1953 incident in which an army scientist was purposefully drugged with LSD without his knowledge and died from a fall a few days later. This revelation sends the Olson family, led by oldest son Eric, on a decades-long hunt for answers that takes them to the highest corridors of power in the U.S. government and close to some of its darkest secrets. Acclaimed storyteller Errol Morris weaves this mystery into a six-part story exploring the limits of our knowledge about the past and the lengths we’ll go in the search for the truth.Wormwood is the saga of one man’s obsessive, sixty-year quest to identify the real circumstances about his father’s death that tells a hidden history of key events of the second half of the 20th Century. Was Frank’s death an accident? Did he commit suicide after a bad drug trip? Or was he murdered for knowing too much? In Wormwood, Morris connects Frank’s story to the Korean War, mind control experiments, illegal germ warfare, brainwashing, Manchurian candidates, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and more.
“Wormwood is more concerned with its intellectual and philosophical musings on the intangibility everything about this case represents, but it comes at the cost of an emotional impact that’s always just beneath the surface.” – Kevin Jagernauth, The Playlist
“With “Wormwood,” Morris reclaims the approach he popularized by employing accomplished performers such as Molly Parker, Tim Blake Nelson, Peter Sarsgaard and Bob Balaban to bridge the gap between fact, presumption and fantasy.” – Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times
“Redefining what a documentary can do and be, Morris’ epic proves a tragedy of systemic corruption, personal mania, and the inability to grasp that which one knows exists, but remains just out of reach.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast
“heir testimonies unfolds alongside a series of dramatic reenactments that may or may not illustrate the precise nature of the events being described. The result is a documentary-fiction combination like nothing seen before.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire
“It has an eerie, something-is-happening-here-but-you-don’t-know-what-it-is-do-you-Mr.-Jones vibe that evokes mid-century American cold war paranoia” – Jordan Hoffman, Vanity Fair
“People been labeling me a bad kid all my life. You don’t have to really do nothing, people just expect it. So you start to expect it of yourself.” – Daje Shelton
Beginning one year before the fatal police shooting of a Black teenager in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, For Ahkeem is the coming-of-age story of Daje (Boonie) Shelton, a Black 17-year-old girl in North St. Louis. She fights for her future as she is placed in an alternative high school and navigates the marginalized neighborhoods, biased criminal justice policies and economic devastation that have set up many Black youth like her to fail.After she is expelled from her public high school, a juvenile court judge sends Daje to the court-supervised Innovative Concept Academy, which offers her one last chance to earn a diploma. Over two years we watch as Daje struggles to maintain focus in school, attends the funerals of friends killed around her, falls in love with a classmate named Antonio, and navigates a loving-but-tumultuous relationship with her mother. As Antonio is drawn into the criminal justice system and events in Ferguson just four miles from her home seize the national spotlight, Daje learns she is pregnant and must contend with the reality of raising a young Black boy.Through Daje’s intimate story, For Ahkeem illuminates challenges that many Black teenagers face in America today, and witnesses the strength, resilience, and determination it takes to survive. Co-director Landon Van Soest joins us to talk about his collaboration with co-direct Jeremy S. Levine and their incredibly intimate, troubling and surprisingly hopeful tale.
In this emotionally moving documentary, Edith and Eddie, Edith Hill and Eddie Harrison get married in Virginia at ages 96 and 95. Since tying the knot, both Edith and Eddie have experienced an awakening; they have a new reason to get up in the morning. At the start of each day, he helps her put in her teeth. They enjoy exercising and relaxing by the river. They are always holding hands.We soon learn that the couple is embroiled in a legal battle between Edith’s daughters, over Edith’s estate and her rights. The daughters are unable to reach an agreement so a court has appointed an outside guardian for Edith, a stranger that has never met Edith. Stripped of her own decision making, Edith is now a ward of the state. Edith and Eddie’s marriage is in danger of being torn apart. Then things take a dramatic turn. Director Laura Checkoway joins us to talk about her partnership with executive producer Cher, the bond she formed with Edith and Eddie and the greater truth about the care of our elderly in a culture that devalues seniors but covets their assets.
WINNER– IDA Awards (International Documentary Association)Best Short 2017
NOMINEE– Cinema Eye Honors – Best Nonfiction Short 2017
WINNER – Audience Award at Montclair Film Festival
WINNER– Jury Award for Best Documentary at Palm Springs International ShortFest
WINNER–Best Documentary Short at Nevada City Film Festival
WINNER– Jury Award for Best Documentary Short (Youth Jury) at Rhode Island
WINNER –Best Documentary Short Film at Hamptons International Film Festival 2017
“‘EDITH+EDDIE’, the heartfelt story of two elderly lovebirds, is a heavyweight contender in thisyear’s Oscar® race for Best Documentary Short Subject.” –AwardsCircuit.com
“Devastating… It is the mix of incredible access and a willingness to embrace a story’s shrewdly synthesized structure, running the gamut from unbelievable fantasy to unbearable nightmare, that yields an extraordinarily memorable work of nonfiction that stands among the festival’s best.” — Jordan M. Smith, NonFics.com at True/False 2017
“EDITH+EDDIE starts out feeling like an inspirational story. A black woman and white man find each other, and love, in their mid-90s. But as the couple is separated due to a legal battle, what could have been a life-affirming hug turns into something darker: an indictment of the elder-care system, with racial undertones.” — Steven Zeitchik, Los Angeles Times
“One of the most beautiful and quietly furious films I have ever seen.” – Julia Reichert, director of A LION IN THE HOUSE
“All of the things we look for in a film… challenging, universal… a gift of love and compassion.” – Paul Booth, Talking Pictures
“In just half an hour, EDITH+EDDIE captures so much about love, aging and infirmity–and speak volumes about America’s issues with elder care and guardianship.” – Norman Wilner, Now Toronto
QUEST is Jonathan Olshefski’s moving chronicle of a close-knit African-American family living in North Philadelphia.Beginning at the dawn of the Obama presidency, the film follows the Raineys:father Christopher “Quest” Rainey, who juggles various jobs to support his family; Christine’s “Ma Quest,” who works at a women’s shelter; Christine’a’s son William, who is undergoing cancer treatment while caring for his baby son; and PJ, Quest and Christine’a’s young daughter. In a neighborhood besieged by inequality and neglect, they nurture a community of hip hop artists in their home music studio. It’s a safe space where all are welcome, but this creative sanctuary can’t always shield them from the strife that grips their neighborhood. Epic in scope, QUEST is a vivid illumination of race and class in America, and a profound testament to love, healing and hope. Filmed with vérité intimacy for almost a decade, QUEST has swept top documentary awards at festivals across the country since it premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, including the Grand Jury prize at the Full Frame Festival, as well as nominations for Best Documentary at the upcoming Independent Spirit and Cinema Eye awards. Quest will open in New York on Friday, December 8 at the Quad Cinema and in Los Angeles on December 15. Director Jonathan Olshefski and Producer Sabrina Schmidt Gordon join us for a conversation on their beautifully rendered story offamily, race and hope.
“[A] superb film. A living, breathing, stunning documentary study of an African-American family in North Philadelphia weathering a tumultuous decade.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“Class and race intersect meaningfully in the wonderful documentary Quest, a decade-plus labor of love.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“Recalls Steve James’ Hoop Dreams in both the way it captures people over a long period of a time and in how it finds the profound in the everyday, the universal in the specific.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
“A sweeping and intimate documentary about the struggles of an average American family.” – Jude Dry, Indiewire
“Quest may be one of the most important films about the American experience ever filmed.” – Jason Gorber, POV Magazine
The Rape of Recy Taylor tells the not so-long-ago story of how a 24-year-old black mother and sharecropper, Recy Taylor, was gang raped by six white boys in 1944 Alabama. Common in the Jim Crow South, few women spoke up in fear for their lives. Not Recy Taylor, who bravely identified her rapists. The NAACP sent its chief rape investigator Rosa Parks, who rallied support and triggered an unprecedented outcry for justice.The Rape of Recy Taylor exposes a legacy of physical abuse of black women and reveals Rosa Parks’ intimate role in Recy Taylor’s story. An attempted rape against Parks was but one inspiration for her ongoing work to find justice for countless women like Taylor. The 1955 bus boycott was an end result, not a beginning. More and more women are now speaking up after rape. The Rape of Recy Taylor tells the story of black women who spoke up when danger was greatest; it was their noble efforts to take back their bodies that led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott and movements that followed. The 2017 Global March by Women is linked to their courage. From sexual aggression on ‘40s southern streets to today’s college campuses and to the threatened right to choose, it is control of women’s bodies that powered the movement in Recy Taylor’s day and fuels our outrage today. Director Nancy Buirski (By Sidney Lumet, Afternoon of a Faun, The Loving Story) stops by for a conversation on a remarkably prescient and moving story of courage and the struggle to overcome America’s system of institutional injustice.
“The Rape of Recy Taylor combines archival footage, home movies, and “race films” along with current interviews to tell Taylor’s story, which director Nancy Buirski broadens into a larger discussion about gender and race.” – Tricia Olszewski, Washington City Paper
“Forceful family interviews, immersive location visits, letters, testimony and articles from Afr-Am papers bring you into 1944 Alabama night…supported by NAACP’s Rosa Parks.” – Nora Lee Mandel, FF2 Media
“Buirski’s weaving together of material is most impactful in these mid-feature scenes, unspooling a rich and horrifying world that goes far beyond just Taylor’s experiences.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire
“With lucidity and deep feeling, Nancy Buirski’s documentary maps an ugly trail of injustice and then widens its lens to pay tribute to the women of color whose refusal to be silent helped drive the evolution of the Civil Rights movement.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
In 1943 a young British officer, Norman Lewis, entered a war-torn Naples with the American Fifth Army. Lewis began writing in his notepad everything that happened to him during his one-year stay observing the complex social cauldron of a city that contrived every day the most incredible ways of fighting to survive. These notes turned into the masterpiece NAPLES ‘44. This film adaptation imagines Lewis returning to the city that charmed and seduced him many years later. Filmmaker Francesco Patierno combines riveting archival war footage with clips from movies set in Naples from the 1950s and 60s (featuring Marcello Mastroianni, Alan Arkin, Ernest Borgnine) and Oscar-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch narrating a portray of a city that was as much a victim of the war as any individual, but that has come back to life with all the charisma of Vesuvius, its very own volcano. This visionary reminiscence is made up of flashbacks between the places of the present that Lewis revisits and the stories of the past. Cumberbatch gives life to Lewis’ words through the stories and fortunes of the people he meets, by the end of this intimate nostalgic journey we can fully share with him a deep feeling for the city. Director Francesco Patierno and Producers Francesca Barra and Davide Azzolini stop by to talk about this stunning, intimate evocation of a time and place from the not-too-distant past that has much to teach us today.
“A riveting film, a complex portrait of the mystery of Naples.” – Corriere della Sera
“If it weren’t for the time-chiseled patina on the footage dug out from archives, the powerful images of Vesuvius erupting, or the Caravaggio-esque faces of the faithful praying, there really wouldn’t be much difference between the Naples of this time and the cities martyred by the conflicts of today, like Aleppo, like Mosul.” – Il Mattino
“Magnificent. (An) elegant, moving, balanced war diary.” – Il Foglio
“Naples ’44 is a harrowing portrait of a defiant population which after suffering great losses, finally drove out its Nazi occupiers, and did survive.” Patrick McGrath, New York
According to one of many Haitian beliefs, we are born from water and so to water our souls return… but only for a year and a day, after our demise. Guetty Felin’s AYITI MON AMOUR is set in a land inhabited by spirits looking for their final resting place, mourners seeking closure and ordinary individuals engaged in a precarious dance of survival. It spins the magic neo-realist tale of Orphée an awkward teen grieving the loss of his father. One day after a freak encounter with an underwater sea creature he develops special electrifying powers, but with power comes certain responsibilities…The world seems to be changing much too rapidly for Jaurès the old fisherman. These days Jaurès is obsessed with the environmental degradation, the rising temperature of the sea and the drought that is starving his cows. But what pre-occupies Jaurès the most is his beloved wife Odessa who is bedridden and homesick. Jaurès is determined to do everything to make her well again even if it means putting his own life in peril…Lastly, there’s the beautiful mysterious Ama, part muse, part wandering soul but also the main character of a novel by an uninspired writer. After five years of waiting for him to complete his masterpiece, she decides to leave him and his story, and sets out to live her own life. With AYITI MON AMOUR the island nation of Haiti has its first ever entry in the Academy Awards category of Best Foreign Language Film. It is alsothe first narrative feature entirely shot in Haiti by a Haitian-born female director, Guetty Felin. She joins us to talk about her warm-hearted, humane film and its celebration of her native country.
When TV editor Ramsey Denison was jailed for simply reporting police brutality on the Las Vegas strip, he was inspired to investigate the Las Vegas Police Department. His investigation would lead him right up to the biggest mass shooting in American history. In this damning exposé, he reveals that the police know more than they are letting on about what really happened at the Mandalay Bay Resort, where 59 people were killed. Uncovering a long legacy of cavalier methods and dire consequences, civilian fatalities, unconstitutional arrests and embellished crime reports, this doc paints an incriminating picture of a police department where the officers are above the law.
By Director Ramsey Denison: “When I drove into Vegas a couple years ago, making a documentary about police corruption was the furthest thing from my mind; I’d come to relax. I’d just finished editing a programme about cops tracking down bad guys – the notion that cops could be the bad guys was not something I’d spent much time thinking about. That all changed when my friend Rhett Nielson and I saw police officers torturing a stranger. I called 911 and reported the incident. A couple minutes later, I got beat up, arrested, and thrown in jail by those same cops. I reported officers Mark Belanger, Kyle Frett, and Jared Casper but LVMPD’s Internal Affairs department decided to do nothing about it. Officer Cole Erskine’s police report was full of fiction, written to justify the brutality. The club where my arrest occurred told me they had no footage because their cameras weren’t recording that night. Without video, it was three police officers’ words against mine and Rhett’s. In a town where you can get beaten up, arrested, and thrown in jail simply for making a phone call to report police brutality, I couldn’t help but wonder what else the LVMPD has done. I discovered that behind the glittering lights, the real Las Vegas is a rigged game of corrupt policing and institutional cover ups.”
“The problems Denison uncovers serve as a warning to all Americans.” – Daphne Howland, Village Voice
“A documentary profile that blows the whistle on a disturbing pattern of excessive force and corruption within its ranks.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“Effective despite some storytelling flaws, the documentary is nonetheless unlikely to draw too much attention on the national stage, with fresher outrages never hard to come by.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
On April 29, 1992, the streets and neighborhoods of Los Angeles, California started to burn just after the Rodney King verdict was announced where four white police officers caught on videotape brutally beating an unarmed black motorist (King) were acquitted of assault by a predominantly white Simi Valley jury. Violent protests, looting and arson lasted several days and left more than 50 people dead. Twenty-five years later, the acclaimed documentary LA 92 from Oscar® winning directors Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin (UNDEFEATED) explores the events leading to the violence, as well as the chaos and destruction that happened.LA 92 presents an incredibly immersive and affecting experience of a city in turmoil, without any talking heads or narration, which eerily resembles the same news stories we see on TV today in 2017. The filmmakers spent over a year searching and sifting through over 1700 hours of footage from news reports, journalists’ stories and news archives. Told entirely only through these stunning news reports and images and rarely seen archive footage, this gripping film captures the shock, disappointment and fury felt by many Angelenos, particularly those in the African American community. In the case of the King beating, it was the first time the kind of abuse many had witnessed or experienced at the hands of LAPD officers was recorded and broadcast for the world to see, leaving some with the sense that if justice did not prevail despite such graphic evidence, it never would. Named by Variety as one of the best films of 2017, LA 92 is more than a moment in time, it’s an illuminating political, cultural and social experience that elevates our collective understanding of our history and ourselves. Co-directors T.J. Martin and Daniel Lindsay join us.
“..not just a defining work on the riots and a wrenching visual essay on power, race, media, and mob violence in the modern era, but also one of the year’s best documentaries.” – Chris Barsanti, The Playlist
“The results are visceral, scary, and infuriating all over again, a true miscarriage of justice that turned into a civil uprising that asked more questions than it answered.” – Jason Bailey, Flavorwire
“An immersive, you-are-there experience that is as dramatic (or more so) as any Hollywood feature film.” – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle
“Gives a full sense of the anarchy and rage of the post-King verdict days, thrusting us fully and disturbingly into events in very much of a You Are There manner.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
In 2010 David Crowley, an Iraq veteran, aspiring filmmaker and charismatic up-and-coming voice in fringe politics, began production on his film “Gray State.” Set in a dystopian near-future where civil liberties are trampled by an unrestrained federal government, the film’s crowd funded trailer was enthusiastically received by the burgeoning online community of libertarians, Tea Party activists as well as members of the nascent alt-right. In January of 2015, Crowley was found dead with his family in their suburban Minnesota home. Their shocking deaths quickly become a cause célèbre for conspiracy theorists who speculate that Crowley was assassinated by a shadowy government concerned about a film and filmmaker that was getting too close to the truth about their aims. Directed by “Grizzly Man” producer Erik Nelson and Executive Produced by Werner Herzog, “A Gray State” combs through Crowley’s archive of 13,000 photographs, hundreds of hours of home video, and exhaustive behind-the-scenes footage of David’s work in progress to reveal what happens when a paranoid view of the government turns inward — blurring the lines of what is real and what people want to believe. Director Erik Nelson joins us to talk about his verite-style film and the truth behind the Crowley family’s tragic deaths.
Opening Los Angeles November 24th at the Laemmle’s Music Hall 3
“A highly-topical and resonant trip down the alt-right rabbit hole…A GRAY STATE offers a powerful rebuke to the post-truth groups that subsumed both Crowley’s life and his death” – Anthony Kaufman, SCREEN DAILY
“Part suspenseful murder-mystery and part real-life political thriller, this true-crime deep-dive feels poised to be a…breakout hit ” – Jason Newman, ROLLING STONE
“The somewhat rare documentary that’s actually as illuminating as good print reporting on the same case.” – Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice
“A story similar to “The Shining” but much scarier because it is true.”– Louis Proyect, COUNTERPUNCH
“[A] real-life tale that’s as unsettling as it is precisely of-the-moment.” – Godfrey Cheshire, ROGER EBERT