Joan and Tom (Academy Award® nominee Lesley Manville and Liam Neeson) have been married for many years. An everyday couple with a remarkable love, there is an ease to their relationship which only comes from spending a lifetime together. When Joan is unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer, the course of her treatment shines a light on their relationship as they are faced with the challenges that lie ahead and the prospect of what might happen if something were to happen to her. Co-directors Lisa Barros D’sa (Good Vibration) and Glenn Leyburn (Cherrybomb) join us to talk about their collaboration with two top tier actors, striking a balance in the tone and look for their extraordinarily empathetic look at two people who truly care about each other.
“A beautifully understated look at intimacy and devotion in the face of potentially devastating loss; stars Leslie Manville and Liam Neeson tap effortlessly into the relatable routines, rhythms and nuances of a lived-in, long term relationship.” – Todd Gilchrist, TheWrap
“Armed with an incandescent screenplay and unforgettable performances, Ordinary Love is affecting in its own quiet way, as it showcases a deeply moving portrait of a marriage tested under strain after a cancer diagnosis.” – Laura Delaney, RTÉ (Ireland)
“An achingly intimate portrait of a marriage weathering a storm, the third feature from directing team Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn (Good Vibrations) is anything but ordinary.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International
“Everything is completely believable, the relationship and the home clearly lived in, and it’s this that gives Ordinary Love its quiet, but sometimes overwhelming, power.” – Jack Blackwell, One Room With A View
AND THEN WE DANCED is a passionate tale of love and liberation set amidst the ultraconservative confines of modern Georgian society, AND THEN WE DANCED follows Merab, a devoted dancer who has been training for years with his partner Mary for a spot in the National Georgian Ensemble. The arrival of another male dancer, Irakli—gifted with perfect form and equipped with a rebellious streak—throws Merab off balance, sparking both an intense rivalry and romantic desire that may cause him to risk his future in dance as well as his relationships with Mary and his family. Director, writer and editor Levan Akin joins us to talk about is sensitive and moving account of finding love, no matter the cost and the way his film has opened a hopeful dialog in his beloved Georgia.
Director’s Statement: In Georgia there are three things that are upheld as the paragon of Georgian Tradition and National Identity: the Church, the traditional polyphonic singing, and the traditional national dance. The lead person I follow in the film actually shares the same name as me, his name is Levan and he is a dancer, I too used to dance when I was younger and I imagined being him in an alternate reality. I interviewed a lot of dancers and they all told me stories of how gender conservative and strict the Georgian Dance scene was. So I decided to set the story in this setting. The Georgian Dance would represent the “old” and the burgeoning love between two of the dancers would represent the new. With this film I find myself really going back to my roots as a filmmaker, working in an organic way, where the real lives of the people in the film and what’s going on in Georgia now affects the story. It is ever evolving. Telling the story of young LGBT+ people and their struggles on a smaller scale but also showing the history and situation of Georgia today on a larger scale. This film will not only be a very interesting look into a part of the world not so many people are familiar with but also a heartfelt movie about the importance of being free. – Levan Akin
ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS takes place off the coast of Indonesia, in the Australian territory of Christmas Island, inhabited by migratory crabs traveling in their millions from the jungle towards the ocean, in a movement that has been provoked by the full moon for hundreds of thousands of years. Poh Lin Lee is a “trauma therapist” who lives with her family in this seemingly idyllic paradise. Every day, she talks with the asylum seekers held indefinitely in a high-security detention centre hidden in the island’s core, attempting to support them in a situation that is as unbearable as its outcome is uncertain. As Poh Lin and her family explore the island’s beautiful yet threatening landscape, the local islanders carry out their “hungry ghost” rituals for the spirits of those who died on the island without a burial. They make offerings to appease the lost souls who are said to be wandering the jungles at night looking for home. ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS is a hybrid documentary that moves between the natural migration and the chaotic and tragic migration of the humans, which is in constant metamorphoses by the unseen decision-making structures. Director Gabrielle Brady joins us to talk about her beautiful and quietly powerful tale of desperate people trapped in a place of pervasive uncertainty and a woman trying to help them cope.
“ Island of the Hungry Ghosts is one of the year’s most impressively made documentaries, a film that’s as occasionally surreal as it is persistently moving. Island of the Hungry Ghosts is a true discovery.” – JOSHUA BRUNSTING, CRITERION CAST
“A documentary overflowing with empathy, poetry, and elemental power.” – HUBERT VIGILLA, FLIXIST
“Hauntingly beautiful Island of the Hungry Ghosts combines multiple narratives…into one glorious whole… A mesmerizing work of visual wonder, the breathtaking images forming an evocative setting for a vital discussion of human rights… A stunning, visceral first feature, announcing the director as a major talent to watch” – CHRISTOPHER LLEWELLYN REED, FILM FESTIVAL TODAY
“The best documentary award goes to a film that demonstrates extraordinary mastery of the full symphonic range of cinematic tools: cinematography, editing, score, sound design and, perhaps greatest of all, an exquisite use of metaphor. To a film that moved us deeply, impressed us immensely and made us feel we were witnessing nothing less than the emergence, fully formed, of a major new cinematic talent” – TRIBECA JURY
It all began when a group of cheerful, subversive filmmakers weren’t accepted into the Sundance Film Festival. Unwilling to take “no” for an answer, they instead started their own event – Slamdance: Anarchy in Utah. 26 years later, Slamdance has become a year-round organization fostering the development of unique and innovative filmmakers. The organization now consists of the Film Festival, Screenplay Competition and Slamdance Studios. It has also created Slamdance On The Road, a traveling theatrical showcase that brings popular Slamdance films to audiences that otherwise would not have the opportunity to see them. Dan Mirvish, Jon Fitzgerald, Shane Kuhn and Peter Baxter are the founding forefathers who, along with co-conspirator Paul Rachman, fought for truly independent filmmakers by giving them a voice in 1995 at the very first Slamdance Film Festival. Since then, the festival takes place every January in the breathtakingly stunning, snow-capped mountains of Park City, Utah at the exact same time as the Sundance Film Festival, to provide a more authentic representation of independent filmmaking. Up-and-coming writers, directors and producers, alongside seasoned veterans and film lovers, converge for the weeklong celebration of independent cinema, realizing that Slamdance is a great place to find those next, great, visionary films. Slamdance lives and bleeds by its mantra By Filmmakers For Filmmakers. No other film festival in the world is entirely run and organized by the creative force that can only be found in filmmakers. Slamdance adamantly supports self-governance amongst independents, and exists to deliver what filmmakers go to festivals for – a chance to show their work and a platform to launch their careers. The festival has earned a solid reputation for premiering films by first-time writers and directors working within the creative confines of limited budgets. Co-founder and President Peter Baxter joins us to talk about this year’s Slamdance, the groundbreaking films and the innovative new distribution and digital initiatives being launched by Slamdance.
In Rosine Mbakam’s loving and intimate documentary we get to know shop owner, businesswoman Sabine. Recruited by a Lebanese maid agency, Sabine leaves Cameroon and embarks for Lebanon. After many years of servitude, she escapes to Belgium, but her arrival there is complicated by the fact that she enters illegally, by way of Greece and Syria. She settles in Matonge, the African quarter, where she becomes the manager of the beauty salon Chez Jolie Coiffure. Sabine attaches a hair weave and gets to work. Her hands move quickly and precisely, as she tightly braids the hair in front of the sign in her salon promising African, European, and American-style coiffure. Sabine is a larger than-life personality crammed into a tiny, glassed-in shop in the largely immigrant Brussels district of Matonge. Here, she and her employees fit extensions and glue on lashes while watching soaps, dishing romantic advice, sharing rumors about government programs to legalize migrants, and talking about people back home in West Africa. Patrons, many of them undocumented immigrants, are not only be made to feel beautiful but can also escape the daily difficulties and harsh realities of their lives.
“Critic’s Pick! Rosine Mbakam makes a remarkable debut; demonstrates a mastery of perspective, a rare ability to include the camera in community.” —The New York Times
“Intense vulnerability makes the film emotionally gripping; the contrast between a public storefront and intimate confessions makes it engrossing… Unequivocally extracts a powerful sense of empathy—and urgency.” —Vox Magazine
“Immersive, provacative; a warm, appealing portrait. Mbakam’s portrait is knit as tightly as the braids Sabine weaves.” —Film International
“A must-see! Highly revealing, an atypical and timely portrait of the intersection between the immigrant experience and female identity.” —IndieWire
“An original filmmaker of exquisite sensibility; one of the foremost filmmakers of creative nonfiction working right now.” —The New Yorker
Filmmaker Rosine Mbakam left Cameroon at 27 to live in Belgium. Seven years later—having studied film and married a European—she returns to make what she calls a journey into darkness—to the village of her birth, and later to the capital city of Yaoundé, where her mother now lives most of the year. In the village of Tonga, her mother, Mâ Brêh, shares memories of the horrors of the war against French colonizers, and of daily life for a Cameroonian woman in an arranged marriage—a fate Rosine herself barely escaped, leaving the family of an angry ex-fiance behind. As she spends more time with her mother and the women around her, Rosine reveals the strength of their solidarity and their ability to face adversity.
Set in a brilliantly recreated 1950s Rio de Janeiro, The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao revolves around two inseparable sisters, 18 and 20 years old, living restricted lives with their conservative parents. However, each nourishes a passionate dream: Eurídice of becoming a renowned pianist; Guida of finding true love. In a shocking turn of events, they are separated and forced to live apart. Karim Aïnouz’s first film, MADAME SATÃ, a Jean Genet-inspired story of 1930’s Rio’s drag demi-monde, premiered at Film Forum in 2003. INVISIBLE LIFE shares with it this director’s commitment to immersing himself in the emotional lives of his characters, visualized through rich, inventive, and lush imagery. Based on Martha Batalha’s popular novel The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão, the film won the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. INVISIBLE LIFE is nominated for Best International Film at the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards and is Brazil’s official submission to the 2020 Academy Awards® for Best International Film. Director and co-screenwriter joins us to talk about his razor-sharp, wrenching story of patriarchy, fierce determination and love in a time and place where gender mattered more than family.
About the filmmaker:Karim Aïnouz was born in Fortaleza, Brazil in 1966. He studied architecture in Brasilia and film at New York University. He was assistant director to Todd Haynes, worked on over 20 films as an editor and has been directing his own films since 1992. In 2014 his film Praia do Futuro screened in the Berlinale Competition, and he was one of the directors of Cathedrals of Culture (also 2014). Selected filmography: Madame Satã (2002), Love for Sale (2006), The Silver Cliff (2011), Futuro Beach (2014), Central Airport THF (2017), The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão (2019).
**OFFICIAL BRAZILIAN OSCAR® ENTRY FOR BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE**
**WINNER – UN CERTAIN REGARD – CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2019**
“RAVISHING. A waking dream, saturated in sound, music and color to match its depth of feeling. Aïnouz has made both a testament to the resilience of women in a society stacked against them…as well as a stirring celebration of the families we create when the ones we’reborn into fall away.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“GORGEOUS. A haunting drama that quietly celebrates the resilience of women… by turns seductive and sorrowful, tender and raw.”– David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
“This is an absolutely gorgeous film that starts off as a sort of Rio fairytale and then turns into something a little more realistic with its feet on the ground.” – Amy Nicholson, FilmWeek
“It’s a drama of resilient women, thoughtless men and crushingly unrealized dreams, told with supple grace, deep feeling and an empathy that extends in every direction.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
A hallucinatory cinematic fever dream, Dawson City: Frozen Time tells the bizarre true story of some 533 silent film reels, dating from the 1910s and 20s, that accumulated at the end of a film distribution line in northwestern Canada and which were miraculously discovered some 50 years later, in 1978, buried in a sub-arctic swimming pool, deep in the Yukon permafrost. Filmmaker Bill Morrison (Decasia, The Miners’ Hymns, The Great Flood) deftly combines excerpts from this remarkable collection with historical footage, photographs, and original interviews, to explore the complicated history of Dawson City, a Canadian Gold Rush town founded across the river from a First Nation hunting camp, and then traces how the development of that town both reflected and influenced the evolution of modern Cinema. Combined with a powerful, evocative score by Alex Somers ( Captain Fantastic; Hale County This Morning, This Evening; Honey Boy), orchestrated and arranged by Ricardo Romaneiro, Dawson City: Frozen Time is a triumphant work of art that spins the life cycle of a singular film collection into a breath-taking history of the 20th century. Director, writer and editor Bill Morrison joins us to talk about his amazing re-creation of a time and place that existed in the parallel universes of a nascent film industry and crushing avarice of a gold rush that still resonates today.
About the filmmaker: Bill Morrison has premiered films at the New York, Rotterdam, Sundance, and Venice film festivals, and multi-media work at major performance venues around the globe such as BAM, the Barbican, Carnegie, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Morrison’s films typically source rare archival footage in which long-forgotten, and sometimes deteriorated, imagery is reframed as part of a collective mythology. His work has been recognized with the Alpert Award, Creative Capital, the Foundation for Contemporary Art, a Guggenheim fellowship, and a mid-career retrospective at MoMA. His found footage opus Decasia (2002) was the first film of the 21st century to be selected to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. The Great Flood (2013) was awarded the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award of 2014 for historical scholarship. Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016) won a Critics’ Choice Award for the most innovative documentary of the year, and was named the best documentary of 2017 by the Boston Society of Film Critics.
“an instantaneously recognizable masterpiece” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times
“Bill Morrison, whose extraordinary documentary Decasia turned decomposing film stock into the stuff of avante-garde reverie, returns with another staggering journey into the past.” – J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader
“The thrilling documentary “Dawson City: Frozen Time” is indescribable not because it’s ambiguous (it’s totally straightforward) but because it does so many things so beautifully it is hard to know where to begin.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
The Disappearance of My Mother chronicles Benedetta Barzini desire to leave this world behind. An iconic fashion model in the 1960s, she became a muse to Warhol, Dali, Penn and Avedon. As a radical feminist in the 1970s, she fought for the rights and emancipation of women. But at the age of 75, she is fed up with all the roles that life has imposed upon her and decides to leave everything and everybody behind, to disappear to a place as far as possible from the world she knows. Hiding behind the camera, her son Beniamino witnesses her journey. Having filmed her since he was a child in spite of all her resistance, he now wants to make a film about her, to keep her close for as long as possible – or, at least, as long as his camera keeps running. The making of the film turns into a battle between mother son, a stubborn fight to capture the ultimate image of Benedetta – the image of her liberation.Director Beniamino Barrese joins us to talk about this remarkably intimate, raw film and his complex relationship with his muse and mother who reluctantly helping him with his “project” as she prepares for her final exit.
“One of the most moving and complex films at Sundance. I’ll add to my list of heroines Benedetta Barzini, an Italian 1960s supermodel who became a leftist feminist and mother.” – Amy Taubin, Film Comment
“A film that both beguiles and unsettles as it salutes a remarkable woman… who has spent a lifetime challenging the influence of the fashion industry and staring down the unflinching gaze of the camera.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
“One solitary word cannot fully encapsulate how utterly personal the documentary comes across. Barrese guides the audience through his mother’s mindscape, and as a thoughtful, remarkably insightful woman, the documentary reflects this sentiment through its visual language and fluid editing… ‘The Disappearance of My Mother’ is a noble effort, and as the subject of the film, Barzini herself is an intriguing personality; her perspective on the world is genuinely moving to hear at times, and her insights often work their way into your mind, inspiring you to openly consider your own life. Similarly, Barrese’s talents as a filmmaker cannot be disregarded.” – THE PLAYLIST, Jonathan Christian
“Deeply personal and shot through with fascinating contradictions, ‘The Disappearance of My Mother’ is a portrait of a woman in rebellion… Barzini is a severe, unsparing critic of the commodification and exploitation of the female body by men, which greatly complicates her son’s insistent, at times intrusive gaze. It also deepens the movie, making the personal ferociously political.” – NEW YORK TIMES, Manohla Dargis
** Update – MIDNIGHT FAMILY is a shortlisted nominee for the 2020 ACADEMY AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY
MIDNIGHT FAMILY has won more than 25 national and international awards, played in 135 film festivals around the world. MIDNIGHT FAMILY is set in Mexico City, where the government operates fewer than 45 emergency ambulances for a population of 9 million. This has spawned an underground industry of for-profit ambulances often run by people with little or no training or certification. An exception in this ethically fraught, cutthroat industry, the Ochoa family struggles to keep their financial needs from jeopardizing the people in their care. When a crackdown by corrupt police pushes the family into greater hardship, they face increasing moral dilemmas even as they continue providing essential emergency medical services. MIDNIGHT FAMILY is an enthralling. harrowing, and intimate look at a family business of dedicated professionals who often fo more than simple transport the helping the people who end up in their ambulance. Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor Luke Lorentzen joins us to talk about his mesmerizing film and the challenges of capturing all the different facets of the Ochoa family.
About the filmmaker:Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor Luke Lorentzen is a graduate of Stanford University’s department of Art and Art History. His first film, Santa Cruz del Islote (2014) – a short documentary about a small and densely populated fishing community in Colombia – won awards at over ten international film festivals including the San Francisco International, Full Frame Documentary, Camden International, and Chicago International. Midnight Family (2019) – Luke’s first feature documentary out of school – tells the story of a family-run ambulance business in Mexico City. Midnight Family has played at over 130 film festivals around the world and has won over 25 awards including a Special Jury Award for Cinematography at the Sundance Film Festival and the Grand Jury Award at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Midnight Family will be released theatrically around the world in December of 2019. Luke is also a director and producer on the Netflix documentary series, Last Chance U. His work explores elements of everyday life, often through rigorous formal means, questioning and experimenting with the ways in which non-fiction stories are told. Originally from Connecticut, Luke currently lives in San Francisco.
Special Jury Award for Cinematography, U.S. Documentary, Sundance Film Festival
IDA Documentary Awards, Winner, Best Editing
IDA Documentary Awards, Nominee, Best Feature
IDA Documentary Awards, Nominee, Best Cinematography
Cinema Eye Honors, Best Film Nominee
Cinema Eye Honors, Best Cinematography Nominee
Cinema Eye Honors, Best Production Nominee
Cinema Eye Honors, Unforgettables Award, Juan Ochoa, Nominee
Golden Frog for Best Documentary, EnergaCAMERIMAGE
Best Documentary, Films from the South, Oslo
Maysles Brothers Award, Special Jury Mention, Denver Film Festival
Best Film, WatchDocs IFF, Warsaw
FIPRESCI Rellumes Award for Best Director, Gijón Film Festival
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“10 Best Movies of Sundance 2019″
“Fantastically shot by the director Luke Lorentzen, the documentary develops an urgency that suits the life-or-death stakes onscreen. By turns terrifying and exhilarating, “Midnight Family” unfolds with such velocity that it may take a while for your ethical doubts to catch up to what’s happening. When they do, they leave you gasping.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times
“Arguably the most exhilarating documentary to come out of Sundance this year, Midnight Family follows the Ochoa family—the gruff but compassionate Fer and his two underage sons, Juan and Josué—at intensely close range on these Sisyphean missions of mercy.” – Museum of Modern Art and Film Society of Lincoln Center
“A deft mix of big-picture doc-making and intimate moments… not to mention a wild — and remarkably eye-opening — ride.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone
“An intimate verite documentary… the Ochoas emerge as fascinating embodiments of a country working overtime to correct its shortcomings and keep the lights on. This bracing U.S. competition documentary is poised to provide a personal window into the fast-paced mayhem of Mexico after dark.” – Eric Kohn, Indiewire
In October of 1974 the body of Rachel Heller, a female IDF solider, is found in the sand dunes of Caesarea. She’s completely naked, except for a single sandal and a bra strap tied tightly around her neck. The investigation leads nowhere, until a young man by the name of Amos Baranes storms into a local police station, claiming he knew the victim and wants to help find the person responsible. He’s arrested and after 3 days of interrogations, he confesses to the murder. Coastal Road Killer is a rivetingmulti-part series examines whether a serial killer, who was never brought to justice, was behind a string of murders that occurred in Israel between the late 70s and early 80s and whether they might still be on the loose.Coastal Road Killer was created by Yotam Guendelman, Mika Timor and Ari Pines, the team behind Shadow of Truth, the story of the 2006 murder of Tair Rada, a 13-year old Israeli girl, which became one of Netflix’s most-watched true crime docs. Coastal Road Killer explores the connection between storytelling and truth. Very much like Shadow of Truth, the filmmaking is aimed at showing us how easily we can be manipulated into believing a certain narrative, only to have it completely deconstructed in the next few frames.Co-directors Yotam Guendelman and Ari Pines stop by to talk about their riveting multi-part series investigative expose that through diligent research and forensic experts uncover new, credible evidence that raises a possible serial killer who has, so far, avoided responsibility for their crimes.
In this extraordinary documentary, WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS we are immersed in the Kenyan bush, as a small-time ivory dealer fights to stay on top while forces mobilize to destroy his trade. When he propositions his younger cousin, a conflicted wildlife ranger who hasn’t been paid in months, they both see a possible lifeline. The plummeting elephant population in Africa has captured the attention of the world, and as the government cracks down, both poachers and rangers face their own existential crises— what is the value of elephant life relative to human life? And can we understand these hunters who will risk death, arrest, and the moral outrage of the world to provide for their families? The photography in this film is so stunning that many people forget they’re watching a documentary, and it’s probably why WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONSwas justnominated for two 2019 IDA Documentary Awards (Best Cinematography and Best Editing). WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS is told in the style of “embedded” filmmaking with an intimate and strikingly honest look at elephant poaching in Kenya, told from both perspectives — the poachers and the rangers who pursue them. At its core, WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS is the human side of why people do what they do given their circumstances. An angle not many people think about when they hear “elephant poaching”. WHEN LAMBS BECOME LIONS is executive produced by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land) and directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and Doc NYC 40 Under 40 honoree, Jon Kasbe. Kasbe followed his subjects over a three-year period, gaining an extraordinary level of access and trust on both sides of the ideological and ethical spectrum. The result is a rare and visually arresting look at the perspectives and motives of the people at the epicenter of this conservation crisis. Director Jon Kasbe joins us to talk about the making of his riveting film, gaining the confidence of the film’s subjects and navigating the many ethical questions he confronted during the making of When Lambs Become Lions.
“A probing view of how a failed African state allows poaching to continue, no matter the lofty speeches of its new president. When people are desperate, they turn to crime–including poaching.” – Louis Proyect, Counterpunch.org
“Documents how this daily struggle binds together the inhabitants of Northern Kenya, both man and beast, and explores how questions of morality and mortality become increasingly complicated in such a savage landscape.” – Nikki Baughan, Screen International
“Kasbe nudges us to remember the importance of food on the table – for all Kenyatta’s show of might, wouldn’t a better situation be kindled by simply paying people what they’re owed?” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film
THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN reveals a beautifully intimate, real-time portrait that follows two Indigenous women from vastly different backgrounds whose worlds collide when one of them is fleeing a violent domestic attack.A love poem to women, THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN weaves a compellingly simple story around the complex themes of racialized female bodies, a country’s failure to support its most vulnerable youth, and the continuing effects of colonial violence. THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN is the newest acquisition from Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Releasing. Founded in 2010 by Ava DuVernay, ARRAY is a film collective dedicated to the amplification of images by people of color and women directors. Now in its ninth year, ARRAY Releasing focuses on grassroots distribution of feature narrative and documentary work by varied voices. Co-directors / co-writers Elle Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn, as well as lead actor Violet Nelson joins us to talk about the different creative elements that went into the making of this heart-bending film on violence against women, class, privilege and the limitations of compassion.
Elle Máijá Tailfeathers, Co-Writer / Co-Director, is a filmmaker, writer, and actor based in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is Blackfoot from the Kainai First Nation (Blood Reserve) as well as Sámi from northern Norway. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of British Columbia in Indigenous Studies with a Minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN is her debut narrative feature. Tailfeathers was the 2018 Sundance Institute Merata Mita Film Fellow and is an alumni of the Berlinale Talent Lab, the Hot Docs Accelerator Lab, the CFC/NFB/Ford Foundation Open Immersion Virtual Reality Lab, the Whistler Film Festival Aboriginal Film Fellowship, and the International Sámi Film Institute Indigenous Film Fellowship. Her short documentary, Bihttoš, was included in the TIFF Top Ten Canadian Shorts and was also nominated for a Canadian Screen Award and a Leo Award for Best Short Documentary.
Kathleen Hepburn, Co-Writer / Co-Director, is a Vancouver born writer and director whose debut feature, NEVER STEADY, NEVER STILL, which Variety Magazine calls a “stoically broken hearted debut,” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017 and was awarded Best Canadian Film and Best Director by the Vancouver Film Critics Circle, as well as Special Jury Prize at the Dublin International Film Festival. It went on to be nominated for eight Canadian Screen Academy Awards including Best Picture. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing, and a BFA in Film Production from the Universities of Guelph and Simon Fraser respectively. THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN is her sophomore feature, co-written and co-directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers.
“Intricate and impactful… a world-affirming work.” Sarah-Tai Black, Globe and Mail
“What Tailfeathers and Hepburn have shared… is a practice of filmmaking that grapples with these exact intricacies of embodiment and acknowledges them as wholly inextricable from Indigenous presents and futures.” – Sarah-Tai Black, Globe and Mail
“As poetic as its title, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open cannot be understated for its power and must not be erased from the conversation.” – Aaron Berry, Film Inquiry
“Stands alongside many recent social realism dramas by the likes of Andrea Arnold and Lynne Ramsay … these performances will hit you like a punch to the gut.” Shelagh Rowan-Legg, Screen Anarchy
In the entertaining and informative documentary we meet Jack Sim,MR. TOILET: The World’s #2 Man.To strangers, Jack Sim might come across as an eccentric entrepreneur who is obsessed with toilets, but to those who know him he’s “Mr. Toilet,” a crusader for global sanitation. Born in the Singapore slums, Sim knows first-hand the agonies of not having a proper loo. Sim’s is dedicating his life to a crisis no one dares talk about. Not having a place “to go” isn’t just an inconvenience, it’s a problem that impacts 2.4 billion people worldwide. In India alone, 200,000 children die each year from lack of safe sanitation, while women are regularly raped because they have to defecate in public spaces. He founded the World Toilet Organization and spent the last 13 years lobbying 193 countries to raise awareness for proper sanitation. He even successfully lobbied the United Nations to create World Toilet Day (November 19) – the first International day of celebration for the toilet.Now he is plunged into his biggest challenge yet when asked to secure 6 million toilets for the “Clean India” initiative. But with few resources and no help from the government, his epic project and reputation are in jeopardy. Jack’s once supportive staff begins to doubt him; and when his family bonds start to fray over his obsessive dedication, Mr. Toilet realizes there is a price to pay for being the world’s #2 man. But as a “su-poo-hero”, he can’t quit. Director, producer and writer Lily Zepeda joins us to talk about a man possessed with bringing sanitation to a world that may not be ready to embrace it and how his mission has impacted the people closest to him.
“For me, the issue of clean sanitation and access to it is absolutely something I took for granted. Mr. Toilet showed me how foolish that idea was.” – Bobby LePire, Film Threat
“Enhanced by playful animations, this nicely composed documentary serves as an engagingly honest profile of a driven man and his prodigious movement.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“An intelligently crafted and balanced documentary that effectively captures her subject’s rambunctious personality, the sanitary issues he wants to bring to a wider audience, and even some light criticism.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate
After the patriotic themes of her first hit song launch her to stardom in Vietnam, Mai Khoi’s personal and artistic growth places her and those around her in jeopardy. A shift from pop star to activist sees Khoi run for office, advocate for women’s rights and sit down with President Barack Obama. Her aspirations to release an album with her new band, The Dissidents, are challenged by looming retaliation by the authoritarian Vietnamese regime, leading the young activist to take drastic measures. Director Joe Piscatella stops by to talk about the journey of Vietnam’s most popular leading pop star from celebrated to hunted for speaking out against an oppressive regime hell-bent to silence her.
About the filmmaker: Joe Piscatella’s second feature documentary, Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower won the Audience Award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and was acquired as a Netflix Original. His first feature documentary, #ChicagoGirl, has been seen in more than 60 countries. He was also an executive producer on the documentary Finders Keepers, which premiered at Sundance in 2015. In 2019 he was nominated for an Emmy for his directorial work on Food Interrupted. His latest documentary, Mai Khoi & the Dissidents premiered at the 2019 DOC/NYC film festival.
Winner of the Grand Prix at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, ATLANTICS marks the feature narrative debut of director Mati Diop. Along the Atlantic coast of Africa, a soon-to-be-inaugurated futuristic tower looms over a suburb of Dakar. Ada, 17, is in love with Souleimane, a young construction worker. But she has been promised to another man. One night, Souleimane and his co-workers disappear at sea. Soon after, they come back to haunt their old neighbourhood by taking possession of the girlfriends they left behind. Some of the workers have come claiming revenge and threaten to burn the tower down if the developer does not pay their wages. But Souleiman has come back for Ada, so they can be together one last time. Director and writer Mati Diop joins us for a conversation on her compelling new film, finding love, and the mythology of a ghost story.
About the filmmaker: Trained in Le Fresnoy (National Studio of Contemporary Arts – a leading and very selective French artistic institution), Mati Diop directed four shorts and a medium-length film which received the “Martin E. Segal – Emerging Artist Award” of the Lincoln Center (USA) in 2016. A THOUSAND SUNS (2013), BIG IN VIETNAM (2011), SNOW CANON (2010) and ATLANTIQUES (2009) were selected and awarded in a wide number of international festivals such as the Venice International Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Viennale, The Indie Lisboa International Film Festival, and the FID Marseille. They were also programmed in the MoMA and in the Moving Image Museum (USA). As an actress, Mati Diop played in HERMIA Y HELENA by director Matias Piñeiro (2015), FORT BUCHANAN by Benjamin Crotty (2014), SIMON KILLER by Antonio Campos (2012) and 35 SHOTS OF RHUM by Claire Denis (2008).
Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival 2019
Official Selection, New York Film Festival 2019
Mati Diop, Mary Pickford Award Winner, Toronto InternationalFilm Festival 2019
“This shape-shifting Senegalese drama is pure cinematic poetry. Slipping in and out of modes with a magician’s confidence, Atlantics is mysterious and mythic, with a wizardly use of sound and some unforgettable images.” – ★★★★★ The Telegraph – Tim Robey
“A striking work, with a lyrical, richly evocative ghost story. Exquisitely shot by Claire Mathon and lushly scored by Fatima Al Qadiri, the film pulls together some exceedingly strong components.”– The Hollywood Reporter – Leslie Felperin
“Constantly intriguing, Atlantics is an intense romance notable for the craft of the filmmaking and Diop’s original approach to complex issues of love, loss and the forces for change that can rise from the ashes of tragedy.” – Screen International – Allan Hunter
“A gorgeous, mesmerizing feature directorial debut. Atlantics is an absorbing, otherworldly vision of an alienated seaside life in Dakar.” – IndieWire – Eric Kohn
“A romantic and melancholy film, part social commentary, part ghost tale, that works best in its evocation of loss and female solidarity.” – Variety – Jay Weissberg
Centered on the indomitable character of former first-lady Imelda Marcos, THE KINGMAKER examines, with intimate access, the Marcos family’s improbable return to power in the Philippines.THE KINGMAKER explores the disturbing legacy of the Marcos regime and chronicles Imelda’s present-day push to help her son, Bongbong, win the vice presidency. To this end, Imelda confidently rewrites her family’s history of corruption, replacing it with a narrative of a matriarch’s extravagant love for her country. In an age when fake news manipulates elections, Imelda’s comeback story serves as a dark fairy tale. Director Lauren Greenfield (Generation Wealth, The Queen of Versailles, Thin) joins us to talk about a powerful political family, led by a single-minded matriarch, determined to return to re-capture the corrupted glory ofher family’s discredited regime.
About the filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield Named by the New York Times as “America’s foremost visual chronicler of the plutocracy,” Emmy Award–winning filmmaker/photographer Lauren Greenfield has produced groundbreaking work on consumerism, youth culture and gender for the last 25 years. Her films Generation Wealth, The Queen of Versailles and Thin and photography books Generation Wealth, Fast Forward and Girl Culturehave provoked international dialogue about some of the most important issues of our time. The Queenof Versailles was the opening night film of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Best Documentary Director Award and was named by Vogue asoneofthetopdocumentariesofall time. Her record-breaking Super Bowl ad #LikeAGirl (250+ million views) earned her 14 CannesLions and the Most Awarded Director by Ad Age, making her the first woman to top thislist. Generation Wealth (Amazon Studios) opened the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, screened at Berlinale and received a Writers Guild nomination. The companion exhibition received The Paris Photography prize, has traveled around the world and opens at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Copenhagen) inFall2019.In2019,GreenfieldlaunchedGirlCultureFilmstoaddressthelackofdiversityofdirectors in the advertisingindustry.
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Venice International Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Telluride Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Toronto International Film Festival
“Jaw dropping. Lauren Greenfield proves the perfect person to infiltrate Imelda Marcos’ psyche.”- Peter Debruge, Variety
“An enraging portrait of entitlement, opulence and corruption. Greenfield shows a knack for illuminating the oddly hypnotic allure of obscene, tacky wealth.”– Tim Grierson, Screen International
“Eye opening. Lauren Greenfield transforms an absorbing look at the life and legacy of Imelda Marcos into a fascinating documentary about the Marcos family’s troubled history – and the disturbing ways that it’s making a comeback today.”– Eric Kohn, IndieWire
:Marcos innately understands the importance of image, but she seems to have underestimated her inquisitor, who uses well-chosen historic footage and powerfully-edited interviews with other Filipinos to gradually expand the canvas.” – Elizabeth Weitzman, TheWrap
QUEEN OF HEARTS tells the story of Anne, a brilliant and dedicated lawyer specializing in children and young adults, living what appears to be the picture perfect life with her doctor-husband, Peter, and their twin daughters. When her estranged teenage stepson, Gustav, moves in with them, Anne’s escalating desire leads her down a dangerous rabbit hole which, once exposed, unleashes a sequence of events that threatens to destroy her world. Denmark’s official entry for the 2019 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, QUEEN OF HEARTS explores the making of a tragic family secret step by step, as the consequences of hubris, lust and lies conspire to create an unimaginable dilemma. With bold and astonishing vision, co-writer/director May el-Toukhy masterfully builds Anne’s world, seducing the viewer into complicity before maneuvering her protagonist onto an unsettling and shocking path. Trine Dyrholm, one of Denmark’s finest dramatic actresses, skillfully inhabits the complicated Anne. In a finely calibrated performance, Dyrholm humanizes Anne’s contradictions and unpredictable behavior, creating an even more disconcerting character. A riveting and provocative film, QUEEN OF HEARTS is a portrait of a woman who manages to lose everything and nothing at the same time. Director and co-screenwriter May el-Toukhy joins us for a lively conversation on her shattering tale of power, family andself-preservation.
“Shot in icy blues and whites and among the hard edges of a modernist home, there’s nothing very comfortable about this environment; el-Toukhy doesn’t want us to get cosy.” – Alex Heeney, Seventh Row
“Queen of Hearts is certainly not a comfortable watch, let alone a pleasant one. But it is a fearless, important film whose impact explodes primarily out of the core collaboration between its masterful director and her main actor.” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ Women on Film
“A challenging sit, especially when Anne’s actions shift from ethically bankrupt to outright despicable, making her one of the most complicated female villains of recent memory.” – Tomris Laffly, RogerEbert.com
“Dyrholm, who remains one of Denmark’s most accomplished contemporary performers, adds another signature performance to her filmography as Anne, a good person who, like everyone, has the capability of doing terrible things.” – Nicholas Bell, IONCINEMA.com
The acclaimed PBS documentary series Independent Lens, recently honored with two Peabody Awards, a Primetime Emmy nomination and 12 News & Documentary Emmy nominations, returns for a new season on Monday, October 28.This year’s premiere is Made in Boise,an engrossing look at the complex and controversial world of gestational surrogacy told through the stories of four women carrying babies for gay men and infertile couples in the conservative heartland of Idaho — the unofficial “surrogacy capital” of the United States. Also on the fall schedule is Decade of Fire, which travels back to the 1970s when the South Bronx was burning, to showcase the dedicated citizens who outlasted the flames and saved their community; The Interpreters, a moving look at the Afghan and Iraqi interpreters who risked their lives aiding American troops and who now struggle to find safety and security for themselves and their families; Conscience Point, which unearths the deep clash of values between the Native American Shinnecock of Long Island and their affluent Hamptons neighbors; and Attla, the rousing story of Alaska Native George Attla, who with one good leg and a determined mindset went on to become a champion dogsled racer. Other highlights of the Winter/Spring 2020 slate include Always in Season, a harrowing look at the history of lynching and the 2014 case of Lennon Lacy, a North Carolina teen who died under unexplained circumstances; Bedlam, a psychiatrist’s chronicle of what mental illness means in the U.S. today, interwoven with the story of how the system tragically failed his own sister; and Rewind, a devastating, autobiographical documentary about the far-reaching consequences of multigenerational child sexual abuse. Independent Lens Executive Producer Lois Vossen joins us to talk about the fundamental principles to support filmmakers telling stories about their communities and commitment to showcase thought-provoking documentaries about the issues that divide us and the ideals and beliefs that bind us together.
Made in Boise by Beth Aala(Monday, October 28)Go inside the lives of four surrogates and the intended parents whose children they carry. As the number of surrogate births surge across the country, a surprising epicenter of the movement is Boise, Idaho, where hundreds of women are choosing to be surrogates. For gay couples, single men, and those who struggle with infertility, this booming industry is often the last resort to biological parenthood. The film follows the four women as they navigate the rigors of pregnancy and the mixed feelings of their own families, who struggle to understand their choice to risk the physical and emotional complications of carrying babies for someone else.
Decade of Fire by Vivian Vázquez Irizarry, Gretchen Hildebran and Julia Steele Allen(Monday, November 4)In the 1970s, the Bronx was on fire and close to a quarter-million people were displaced when their close-knit, multiethnic neighborhood burned. While the abandonment of landlords and dwindling support from government officials led to the devastation, Black and Puerto Rican residents were blamed. Now, Bronx-born Vivian Vázquez Irizarry explores the truth about the borough’s untold history and reveals how her community chose to resist, remain and rebuild.
The Interpreters by Andrés Caballero and Sofian Khan(Monday, November 11)More than 50,000 local interpreters helped protect U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, enabling soldiers to communicate with the local population. But those who took the job were often considered traitors. In the aftermath of war, some have been able to leave their home countries and reach safety, while others still languish in hiding and fear for their lives.
Conscience Point by Treva Wurmfeld(Monday, November 18)In Long Island’s Hamptons, one of the wealthiest areas in the nation and an epicenter of the luxury property boom, a clash of values is taking place. The original inhabitants of the beautiful peninsula — the Shinnecock Indian Nation — find themselves squeezed onto a tiny, impoverished reservation. Over hundreds of years they have seen their ancient burial grounds plowed up for the widening of roads, mega-mansions, and ultra-exclusive golf courses like the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Now Shinnecock activists and long-standing residents, including farmers and fishing communities, are taking a stand against a never-ending tide of wealthy transplants, overdevelopment, pollution, congested highways and skyrocketing property taxes.
Attla by Catharine Axley (Monday, December 16)The inspiring but little-known story of legendary Alaska Native dogsled champion George Attla, who — with one good leg and fierce determination — rose to international fame. In the final chapter of his life, Attla emerges from retirement to mentor his 20-year-old grandnephew. With their sights set on reviving proud cultural traditions, the pair embark on a journey to compete in the world’s largest dogsled sprint race, one that has seen a steep decline in Native competitors.
In this brilliant followup to his award-winning documentaries (SENNA, AMY) DIEGO MARADONA captures the athletic brilliance and maddening duality of a soccer player widely considered to be best player in the world from the moment he burst onto the scene in his native Argentina. And yet success proved elusive. He failed at Barcelona. He was considered a problem player, too interested in partying. Meanwhile, having never won a major tournament, the ailing Italian football giant SSC Napoli were perennial underachievers. Their fanatical support was unequalled in both passion and size. But how they ached for success… On 5th July 1984, Diego Maradona arrived in Naples for a world-record fee and for seven years all hell broke loose. The world’s most celebrated football genius and the most passionate but dangerous city in Europe were a perfect match for each other. Diego Maradona was blessed on the field and treated like a God off it; the charismatic Argentine loved a fight against the odds and led Naples to their first-ever League title. It was the stuff of dreams. But there was a price… Diego could do as he pleased while performing miracles on the pitch, but as time passed, darker days closed in. Italy turned on him. The third film from the Academy Award-winning & multi-BAFTA-winning team behind SENNA and AMY (director Asif Kapadia, producer James Gay-Rees, editor Chris King, composer Antonio Pinto), and also Paul Martin, DIEGO MARADONA was constructed from over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage from Maradona’s personal archive.DIEGO MARADONA is crafted in the style of SENNA and AMY. It is the definitive feature documentary on the charismatic enigma that is Maradona. In a city where even the devil would need bodyguards, Diego Maradona became a god. Maradona in Naples is the story of his life, the wild and unforgettable story of an unrivalled talent. He was a rebel, cheat, hero and god. This is a story of glory, despair and betrayal, a tale of corruption and, ultimately, of redemption. Director / Producer Asif Kapadia joins us to talk about the enigma of “Diego” and “Maradona.”
“MESMERIZING… one of the most colorful and fascinating personalities in all of sports, with a life story bordering on the mythic. You may know outlines of the soccer legend’s life, but there’s no way you won’t learn something from DIEGO MARADONA, Asif Kapadia’s absorbing and exhaustive new film.” – Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press
“a fame-technique movie, measured in crowd roars, off-field revelry, media run-ins, and fan scrums as dizzying accoutrements to success, but also – when Maradona succumbed to scandals surrounding women, an unclaimed son from an affair, cocaine, loyalty, and powerful mob friends – in how those same trappings can suddenly turn vicious, and a hero’s fall can go shockingly unsupported.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
“[Kapadia] has edited cruddy video footage (some of which appears barely more than camcorder-grade) and photographs into a movie so fluid that it moves like a Hollywood production. He also dispenses with much of the filler common to documentaries… It is exhausting and exhilarating, cheap looking and slick, a documentary for Maradona fans but also for many others besides.” – Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times
“Asif Kapadia has put together an extraordinarily intimate account of [Diego Maradona’s] rise and fall, enriched by grainy but graphic footage recording every phase of his life.” – Sandra Hall, Sydney Morning Herald
Oscar nominee Feras Fayyad (“Last Men in Aleppo”) delivers an unflinching story of the Syrian war with his powerful new documentary, THE CAVE. For besieged civilians, hope and safety lie underground inside the subterranean hospital known as the Cave, where pediatrician and managing physician Dr. Amani Ballor and her colleagues Samaher and Dr. Alaa have claimed their right to work as equals alongside their male counterparts, doing their jobs in a way that would be unthinkable in the oppressively patriarchal culture that exists above. Following the women as they contend with daily bombardments, chronic supply shortages and the ever-present threat of chemical attacks, THE CAVE paints a stirring portrait of courage, resilience and female solidarity. Director and writer Feras Fayyad stops by to talk about the unbelievable courage of the hospital staff led by Dr. Amani Ballor, and the volunteers as they keep an otherwise harrowing day-to-day nightmare from devolving into soul-destroying chaos.
**WINNER – Audience Award – Toronto International Film Festival 2019
**WINNER – Audience Award – Camden International Film Festival 2019
**SPECIAL JURY MENTION – Camden International Film Festival 2019
“Miraculous. A standout. Feras Fayyad’s powerful portrait audaciously puts women’s imperative contribution to survival front and center.” – Tomris Laffly, Variety
“Look no further than The Cave for a portrait of true heroism. Provides astonishingly immediate and gripping footage of the collective effort to survive. The Cave ranks among the best of films to portray the tragedy of the Civil War in Syria and the resilience of the everyday people who keep the spirit of the nation alive.” – Pat Mullen, POV
“Emotionally Moving. Both intensely real and a carefully wrought work of cinema.” – Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter
“Gripping. Unprecedented. A real-time thriller. Fayyad excels at finding small moments that take on poetic resonance.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire
ON THE PRESIDENT’S ORDERStell the searing story of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody campaign against drug dealers and addicts in the Philippines, told with unprecedented and intimate access to both sides of the war – the Manila police, and an ordinary family from the slum. Shot in the style of a thriller, this observational film combines the look and feel of a narrative feature film with a real life revelatory journalistic investigation into a campaign of killings. The film uncovers a murky world where crime, drugs and politics meet in a deathly embrace – and reveal that although the police have been publicly ordered to stop extra-judicial killings, the deaths continue. Director / Producer James Jones and Director / Cinematographer Olivier Sarbil join us for a conversation on the challenges of gaining access to the police, the victims of police violence and the draconian drug policy being enforced by a dictatorial, human-rights abusing regime.
Director and Producer – James Jones is an award-winning British director who makes documentary films for international television and theatrical release. His documentaries tackle important issues through powerful personal stories told in a filmic style and narrative. He has made films about police shootings in America, suicide in the military, wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and undercover investigations in Saudi Arabia and North Korea. His background in current affairs investigations means the films still have a hard journalistic edge while using the craft techniques of documentary. His films have won two Emmys, three DuPonts, a Grierson, a Rory Peck, a Frontline Club, a Royal Television Society, a Broadcast Award, two Overseas Press Club of America, two Golden Nymphs, and a Venice TV Award, as well as being nominated five times at the BAFTAs. Recently, he co-directed the Emmy-winning Mosul with Olivier Sarbil.
Cinematographer and Director – Olivier Sarbilis an award-winning French documentary director and Emmy-winning cinematographer based in London. Over the past decade, Olivier has covered conflicts and critical social issues across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. With strong visual storytelling, Olivier’s films are intimate and human, conveying emotions through beautiful and cinematic imagery. His work has been recognized with awards from a variety of organizations, including, Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography, DuPont, Royal Television Society, One World Media, Overseas Press Club of America, Broadcast Awards, Bayeux-Calvados for war correspondents (twice), Golden Nymph, Rory Peck, Venice TV Award, Frontline Club, Grand Award and Gold Medal at the New York Festivals International TV & Film. His imagery has also garnered a BAFTA Nomination for Best Cinematography.
“A shockingly alarming investigation produced with the sensibilities of a social realist drama, Sarbil and Jones’ nonfiction warning should petrify U.S. viewers immeasurably.” – Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times
“A wholly cinematic, sensory experience, with straight-ahead reportage electrified by glaring streetlights and a panicked urban wall of sound…” Guy Lodge, Variety
“On the President’s Orders is the disturbing observational documentary we’ve needed about the Philippines drug war, made with finesse and astonishing access.” Musanna Ahmed, Film Inquiry
Inspired by Lewis Hyde’s beloved classic The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, GIFTis a richly cinematic film, interweaving character‐driven stories. On North America’s Pacific Northwest Coast, a young Indigenous artist and carver undertakes the elaborate preparations for a potlatch – to make a name for himself by giving everything away. In Rome, Italy, a factory occupied by migrant families is transformed into a living museum, protected by a barricade of art : a model of resistance, and an invaluable gift. In the pirate utopia of Burning Man, a mutant bumblebee art car distributes honey in a post-apocalyptic desert landscape. Meanwhile, in Auckland, New Zealand, artist Lee Mingwei prepares to launch Sonic Blossom – a “transformative gift” of song.GIFT is a tribute to something that can’t be measured or counted, bought or sold. Exploring the parallels between artists’ work and a gift economy, it’s a reflection on the creative process, the reasons we “labour in service of our gifts”, and a celebration of the imagination. Director Robin McKenna joins us to talk about her beautifully meditative film about paying forward human connection and how communities can re-imagine the meaning of wealth and prosperity.
About the filmmaker:Robin McKenna is director, producer and writer of GIFT, a feature-length documentary and crossmedia project inspired by Lewis Hyde’s classic bestseller The Gift. She is currently making Thanadoula, a short animated documentary fairytale about a real-life “death doula”, in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada – and Medicine, a feature-length documentary over a decade in the making, about ayahuasca, medicine and healing, with Dr. Gabor Maté. She directed Genevieve Bujold: ArtVie, a short film tribute to Bujold on 16mm, for the Governor General’s Awards for the Performing Arts in 2018. Robin grew up in Montréal, and began making films with La course destination monde. Her cinematography credits include City of Borders (Berlinale, Hot Docs 2009) and The Take with Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis (AFI Best Documentary 2004).
In 2015, after Hassan Fazili’s documentary Peace in Afghanistan aired on Afghan national television, the Taliban assassinated the film’s main subject and put a price on Fazili’s head.Fearing for their survival, the Fazili family, Nargis, Zahra, and Fatima fled Kabul for Tajikistan. Yet after 14 months spent submitting asylum applications that were rejected again and again, they were deported back to Afghanistan. It was at this juncture that Fazili picked up his cell phone and hit the record button and with that Midnight Traveler began to take shape. Chronicling every step from inside the action, Fazili, his filmmaker wife, and their young daughters trek across Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Serbia—scurrying through perilous landscapes, huddling in freezing forests, cramming into rattling vehicles. As they endure smugglers, gangs, and refugee camps, the camera witnesses not only the danger and desperation but also the exuberance and tenderness of this irresistible, loving family. For Fazili, framing their story becomes an assertion of control, humanity, and self-expression in a situation where none exists. With its radical subjectivity, visceral footage, and poetic form, Midnight Traveler is a migration story like no other. Producer Su Kim and Producer / writer / editor Emilie Mahdavian join us for a look at at Hassan and his remarkably resilient family as they attempt to overcome institutional and deadly political obstacles in their fight for freedom as seen through the eyes of his children, Zahra and Nargis and wife, Fatima. A fight for freedom that they have to win.
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for No Borders
BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Modest but full of urgency, MIDNIGHT TRAVELER uses the power of smart phones to reveal a migrant family’s search for a safe haven. Gretchen Jude’s percussive, electronic score helps hold it all together. [The film] stands as a family’s joint testimony, heartfelt and heartbreaking, particular yet hauntingly representative.” – Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter
“Has a home-movie quality that’s enormously effective in putting a human face on a global crisis.” – Scott Tobias, Variety
“What makes [the film] so moving, though, is the portrait that Fazili and Hussaini paint of both themselves as full, ungainly people, with flaws and hopes and perfections and their daughters who, in a way, are the stars [of the movie]. A languid, poetic film. [The parents] meditate on family, fear, equality, Islam, and the banality of everyday life. Throughout, though, it is hard not to forget that MIDNIGHT TRAVELER is a film of life or death which the score constantly reminds, and which infuses tensions into the narrative’s nooks and crannies.” – Gary Garrison, The Playlist
“A remarkable achievement…an affecting, essential documentary. The suffering, fear and humiliation that they experience is balanced by moments of warmth and an artist’s magpie eye for unexpected glimpses of beauty…While there have been numerous documentaries which deal with the plight of asylum seekers, there have been few which have shown, with this level of intimacy, the journey of a family from certain danger to an uncertain fate. It’s a film which deserves to be as widely seen as possible.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International
COLLISIONS follows the story of a twelve-year-old girl, Itan (Izabella Alvarez), a straight-A-student in San Francisco, who comes home from school to find their family’s furniture up-ended and no trace of her mother, Yoana (Ana de la Reguera), who was detained by Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). Child Protective Services dumps Itan and her six-year-old brother Neto (Jason Garcia) with their estranged uncle Evencio (Jesse Garcia), a big rig truck driver. Itan can’t stand him. He’s arrogant, unreliable, and possibly a criminal. After a desperate search, Itan locates Yoana in an immigration detention center in Arizona and convinces Evencio to take them there.They are propelled onto the road in Evencio’s truck, through the maddening labyrinth of immigration detention. Itan fights to free her mother before she is deported. But her mother keeps slipping from her grasp, as she is transferred from prison to prison. Their journey takes them through the deserts of the southern border, to sprawling truck stops, border patrol offices and secret immigration prisons. Director / Producer / Writer / Editor Richard Levien joins us for a conversation on the inspiration for COLLISIONS, his desire to humanize the tragic stories behind the headlines and the corrosive impact that cruel, politically motivated policies can have on the lives of hardworking peoples lives.