September 22, 2017 – Machines, Director Rahul Jain

Marrying stunning visuals with social advocacy, Rahul Jain’s debut documentary — winner of the Special Jury Award for Cinematography at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival — takes audiences into the labyrinthine passages of an enormous textile factory in Gujarat, India. Jain’s camera wanders freely between pulsating machines and bubbling vats of dye to create a moving portrait of the human laborers who toil away there for 12 hours a day to eke out a meager living for their families back home. Interviews with these workers and the factory owners who employ them reveal the stark inequality and dangerous working conditions brought about by unregulated industrialization in the region. This political message is delivered amidst the unsettling beauty of the factory’s mechanical underworld and the colorful, billowing fabrics it produces. Director Rahul Jain joins us to talk about the making of his stark, mesmerizing, and unsettling film and the penetrating sense of complicity we all should feel for the men and the inhumane work conditions they find themselves in.

For news and updates go to: Machines

facebook.com/machinesmovie

Machines open in Los Angeles at the Laemmle’s Monica Fourplex

1332 Second St., Santa Monica, CA 90401  Showtimes: 3:20 PM5:30 PM7:40 PM9:50 PM

Sundance Film Festival 2017 Winner of the Excellence in Cinematography Award

“Five stars! Astonishing. A dignifying hymn to the common worker.” – The Guardian

“Displays an all-too-rare combination of artistic vision and social conscience… [a] sensory immersion into a hidden, secretive environment.” – The Hollywood Reporter

“Visually stunning. Frames everything with an inquisitive eye.”- Financial Times

“Hypnotic and frequently beautiful. An intoxicating look at the lives of… migrant workers.” – Variety

“Operates with an intense rhythm and visual depth.” – No Film School

September 15, 2017 – School Life, Co-directors David Rane and Neasa Ni Chiandain

This observational documentary follows a year in the lives of two inspirational teachers at Headfort, the only primary-age boarding school in Ireland. Housed in an 18th century estate, school life embraces tradition and modernity. For John, rock music is just another subject alongside Maths, Scripture and Latin, taught in a collaborative and often hilarious fashion. For his wife Amanda, the key to connecting with children is the book, and she uses all means to snare the young minds. For nearly half a century these two have shaped thousands of minds, but now the unthinkable looms: what would retirement mean? What will keep them young if they leave? Co-directors David Rane and Neasa Ni Chiandain stop by to talk about gaining the trust of a remarkably dedicated couple who have given their lives to the students and a way of life at Headfort and the joy of documenting an academic culture that celebrates and elevates young minds.

For news and updates go to: schoollifefilm.com

 

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Opens in Los Angeles on Friday, September 15 at the Laemmle Monica Film Center

“‘School Life’ is as charming, intimate and warm-hearted an observational documentary as you’d ever want to see.”  – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“The filmmakers demonstrate mastery of documentary style by achieving an extraordinary level of on-camera comfort with their subjects, intimate access where everyone seems unaware they are being filmed.” – Bradley Gibson, Film Threat

“It’s the kind of school that could never exist in today’s America: It’s too freewheeling, too unstructured. Maybe it won’t exist in Ireland much longer either, so it’s a good thing that School Life manages to capture its weird, wonderful world.” – Josh Modell, AV Club

“A celebration of the importance of teachers and putting faith into the next generation of kids, School Life is quite the pleasing little documentary.” – Alex Lines, Film Inquiry

September 8, 2017 – Trophy, Co-directors Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz

 

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In filmmakers Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau’s bracingly balanced new documentary TROPHY explores the complex heart of contemporary issues of animal conservation and commodification at a time when endangered African species such as elephants, rhinos and lions march ever closer to extinction. This provocative follow-up to Schwarz’s acclaimed Narco Cultura journeys viewers across lush African forests and vast plains and into the world’s largest hunters’ convention in Las Vegas to meet breeders and hunters who passionately believe in animal conservation. A common mantra of these businesses – “if it pays, it stays” – sums up the controversial notion that if you assign monetary value to an animal, it is worth protecting. TROPHY follows Philip Glass, a Texas-based sheep breeder and life-long hunter who is on a quest to collect the “Big Five” (elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, and rhino). Philip is deeply connected to the land and animals, Chris Moore, a Zimbabwean wildlife officer whose anti-poaching campaign is partially subsidized by big-game hunters like Philip. Chris works with government authorities and communities to keep people safe from wild animals. He also protects those animals from ruthless poachers. The great irony of Chris’s work is that he goes to “extreme lengths” to protect endangered animals, only to have them killed by trophy hunters. Co-director Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz joins us for a frank conversation on the fate of these magnificent creatures and who or what will determine their uncertain future.

For news and update go to: trophy.film

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

”A bracing look at the intersection of big business and animal-rights protection.  It will enrage, enlighten and confound in equal measure.” – Variety

“Sprawling, complex and beautifully lensed documentary about the tensions that exist between wild-life conservation and the global hunting industry.” – Screen International

“A more elegant, cinematically sophisticated approach… a documentary that is simultaneously gorgeous and unwatchable. Its very form embodies the film’s central, andvery controversial conflict… Don’t let the beauty of its images fool you; it’s a supremely confrontational, even infuriating work. It’s hard to know what to make of Trophy, and something tells me the filmmakers wouldn’t want it any other way.” – Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice / LA Weekly

“A sweeping new documentary that tells a story as captivating as its images are beautiful.” – IndieWire

September 1, 2017 – Viceroy’s House, Director Gurinder Chadha

New nations are rarely born in peace… India, 1947: Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) is dispatched, along with his wife Edwina (Gillian Anderson), to New Delhi to oversee the country’s transition from British rule to independence. Taking his place in the resplendent mansion known as the Viceroy’s House, Mountbatten arrives hopeful for a peaceful transference of power. But ending centuries of colonial rule in a country divided by deep religious and cultural differences proves no easy undertaking, setting off a seismic struggle that threatens to tear India apart. VICEROY’S HOUSE delves into the “upstairs/downstairs” real-life history of Lord Mountbatten and his family in 1947 India from the perspectives of both the Mountbattens and the people of India. The story of India’s partition is not only a story of independence, but also one of the greatest refugee crisis in history. With sumptuous period detail, director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) brings to life a pivotal historical moment that re-shaped the world.

For news and updates go to: Viceroy’s House 

Viceroy’s House at IFC Films

“At the end of this sprawling, passionate but generously non-partisan epic, a moving coda reveals the director’s personal stake in telling the story her way. You should stay for the credits.” – Ella Taylor, NPR

“The film carries a trace of the sweep of a great screen epic along with the straightforward, explanatory qualities of mass-audience TV, and is never less than absorbing.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times

“sing the trappings of old-fashioned romanticism, Chadha envisions the cataclysmic upheaval of millions in the traumatic lives of a few.” – Serena Donadoni, Village Voice

August 25, 2017 – Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, Executive Producer Stevie Salas

 

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RUMBLE: THE INDIANS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD, reveals the rousing history of American Indians in popular music, kicks off with Link Wray (Shawnee) whose raw, distorted electric guitar riff from the 1958 instrumental “Rumble” was a major influence on rock legends Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page, and Iggy Pop. RUMBLE powers through the music and life stories of artists whose Indian heritage has long been unsung: Delta blues master Charley Patton (Choctaw), “queen of swing” Mildred Bailey (Coeur D’Alene), The Band’s Robbie Robertson (Mohawk), Jimi Hendrix (Cherokee), folk icon Buffy Sainte-Marie (Cree), “guitarist to the greats” Jesse Ed Davis (Kiowa/Comanche), and others. RUMBLE collages historical footage and electrifying performances with commentary by surviving musicians. Music historians, family members and assorted luminaries (including Martin Scorsese, Quincy Jones, George Clinton, Dan Auerbach, Taj Mahal, Steven Van Zandt, Slash, Steven Tyler, Tony Bennett, and Rolling Stone’s David Fricke) weigh in on how Native American musicians shaped the sounds of our lives. The film won the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Masterful Storytelling at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. RUMBLE originated with guitarist/executive producer Stevie Salas (Apache), who realized that the public was unaware of the profound contribution of Native Americans to pop music. Salas joins us for a lively conversation on the profound impact Native American’s have had on our collective history, culture and music.

For news and updates go to: rumblethemovie.com

“What is strikingly brought home in Rumble is how the vast stew of influences in American music, rather than diluting everything, makes the music all the more powerful.” – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

“In the end, the story is one not only of rock- and pop-culture history, but of human persistence and indigenous contributions that have been historically (and often intentionally) overlooked.” – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail

“It’s been a terrific few years for music documentaries, and that winning streak continues with “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World.”” – Ken Jaworowski, New York Times

“Irresistible for popular music lovers.” Allan Hunter, Screen International

August 18, 2017 – The Fencer, Director Klaus Härö

 

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In Klaus Härö’s beautifully rendered tale a young man, Endel Nelis, arrives in Haapsalu, Estonia, in the early 1950s. Having left Leningrad to escape the secret police, he finds work as a teacher and founds a sports club for his students. Endel becomes a father figure to his students and starts teaching them his great passion – fencing, which causes a conflict with the school’s principal. Envious, the principal starts investigating Endel’s background… Endel learns to love the children and looks after them; most are orphans as a result of the Russian occupation. Fencing becomes a form of self-expression for the children and Endel becomes a role model. The children want to participate in a national fencing tournament in Leningrad, and Endel must make a choice: risk everything to take the children to Leningrad or put his safety first and disappoint them. Director Klaus Härö (The New Man, Mother of Mine, Elina – As If I Wasn’t There) joins us to talk about his heart-wrenching, superbly crafted true story about character and resistance in a time of political repression.

For news and updates go to: thefencermovie.com

“This well-acted, smoothly crafted drama tells a story of cross-generational bonding in the face of historical oppression, in touching if unsurprising fashion.” – Justin Chang, Variety

“A feel-good, well-acted, visually evocative foreign-language biopic about a master fencing teacher in Soviet-controlled 1950s Estonia who changed the lives of his students.” – Simi Horowitz, Film Journal International

“An affecting portrait of a decent man who risks his life to uphold a bond of trust with his students. Though squarely in the tradition of Dead Poets Society and The Bad News Bears, the film offers higher stakes and, consequently, a bigger payoff.” – Marilyn Ferdinand, Chicago Reader

August 4, 2017 – Icarus, Director Bryan Fogel

 

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In the truly audacious documentary ICARUS, director Bryan Fogel’s bold gambit was this: to investigate doping in sports, Fogel (an amateur bike racer) would dope himself, observe the changes in his performance, and see if he could evade detection. In doing so, he was connected to a renegade Russian scientist, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, a pillar of his country’s “anti-doping” program. Over dozens of Skype calls, urine samples, and badly administered hormone injections, Fogel and Rodchenkov grow closer despite shocking allegations that place Rodchenkov at the center of Russia’s state-sponsored Olympic doping program. When the truth is more complex than imagined, and accusations of illegalities run to Russia’s highest chains of command, the two realize they hold the power to reveal the biggest international sports scandal in living memory. Exemplifying the special bond between filmmaker and subject, this is a vital portrait of the sacrifice some people will make to stand up for truth. ICARUS places you at the heart of an international game of cat and mouse, where a miscalculation can cost you your life. Director Bryan Fogel joins us to talk about his unbelievably prescient film.

Icarus opens on August 4 at the Laemmle Monica Film Center

Watch Icarus on netflix.com

87% on Rotten Tomatoes

WINNER: “Orwell Award” – 2017 Sundance Film Festival

WINNER: Audience Award – 2017 Sundance Film Festival: London

“A wildly timely movie for our current moment, as issues of cheating, illegitimacy and geopolitical bullies take center stage… engrossing, disturbing and believable” – Robert Abele, The Wrap 

“What started out as director/bicycle rider Bryan Fogel’s personal documentary takes a startling and unexpected turn into nerve-wracking thriller territory” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, it couldn’t be more timely” – Eric Kohn, Indiewire

“Takes viewers inside a world-rattling, whistleblowing controversy” – Logan Hill, Esquire 

August 4, 2017 – Columbus, Director Kogonada

When a renowned architecture scholar falls suddenly ill during a speaking tour, his son Jin (John Cho) finds himself stranded in Columbus, Indiana – a small Midwestern city celebrated for its many significant modernist buildings. Jin strikes up a friendship with Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), a young architecture enthusiast who works at the local library. As their intimacy develops, Jin and Casey explore both the town and their conflicted emotions: Jin’s estranged relationship with his father, and Casey’s reluctance to leave Columbus and her mother. With its naturalistic rhythms and empathy for the complexities of families, debut director Kogonada’s COLUMBUS unfolds as a gently drifting, deeply absorbing conversation. With strong supporting turns from Parker Posey, Rory Culkin, and Michelle Forbes, COLUMBUS is also a showcase for its director’s striking eye for the way physical space can affect emotions. Director Kogonada s a proud immigrant, born in Seoul and raised in the Midwest. He has been noted by Filmmaker Magazine (25 New Faces of Independent Film) and The New Yorker for his visual work and film criticism commissioned by the Criterion Collection and Sight & Sound. He joins us to talk about his emotionally powerful, visually stunning feature film debut.

facebook.com/ColumbusMov

96% on Rotten Tomatoes

Independent Film Festival of Boston

Special Jury Prize – Narrative Feature

“The seeming miracle of Columbus is its mixture of formal precision with a philosophical grasp of human mystery.” – Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine

“‘Columbus’ is a feast for the eyes, but its more lasting impression is on the heart.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“The movie leaves quite a bit to the eye of the beholder, but it’s always worth looking at.” – Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

“As a movie about intimacy Columbus is a masterpiece.” – Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic

“Columbus crept up on me so gradually and quietly that I don’t even know when I started to love it. When it was over, though, I was left with a sweet aftertaste that stayed with me for hours.” – Angie Han, Slashfilm

“A clever and compelling exploration into how physical structures can come to represent emotional landmarks in our personal lives.” – Jordan Hoffman, Vanity Fair

August 4, 2017 – Some Freaks, Director Ian MacAllister McDonald

When high school senior Matt (Thomas Mann) meets fellow outcast Jill (Lily Mae Harrington), he falls more in love than he thought possible. However, after graduation comes and Jill moves cross-country to go to college, she loses more than 50 pounds and changes her appearance entirely – much to Matt’s surprise when he arrives to visit her six months later. While Matt struggles to accept Jill’s new choices, Jill begins to question whether Matt is really the man she wants to date. As the distance widens between them, the characters are propelled onto a collision course with brutality and loss, forcing them to confront who they are, who they were, and who everyone thinks they’re supposed to be. Also starring Ely Henry, Lachlan Buchanan, and this feature by writer-director Ian MacAllister-McDonald. McDonald joins us to talk about his touching, heartfelt feature film debut.

For new and updates go to: somefreaksthemovie.com

Special added event: Please join us for a Q&A session after the 7:20PM show on Friday 8/4. Participants will be writer/director Ian MacAllister-McDonald along with cast members Thomas Mann, Lily Mae Harrington, Ely Henry, and Lachlan Buchanan.

!00% on Rotten Tomatoes

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Instagram@SomeFreaksFilm2016

“All the actors are good, but Harrington is remarkable. It’s not just the physical changes in her character, but the genuineness with which she inhabits her”. – Billy Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

“Playwright Ian MacAllister-McDonald’s debut feature is a refreshingly grounded, unsentimental yet empathetic slice of D-list teenage life that goes a bit overboard in its final act.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety

“The characters are authentic and deeply felt.” – Bradley Gibson, Film Threat

“Brittle and beautifully-acted and cleverly written “find your tribe” high school romance.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

Lost in Paris, co-directors Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel

 

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Filmed in Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon’s signature whimsical style, LOST IN PARIS stars the filmmakers as a small-town Canadian librarian and a strangely seductive, oddly egotistical vagabond. When Fiona’s (Gordon) orderly life is disrupted by a letter of distress from her 88-year-old Aunt Martha (delightfully portrayed by Oscar nominee Emmanuelle Riva) who is living in Paris, Fiona hops on the first plane she can and arrives only to discover that Martha has disappeared. In an avalanche of spectacular disasters, she encounters Dom (Abel), the affable, but annoying tramp who just won’t leave her alone. Replete with the amazing antics and intricately choreographed slapstick that has come to define Abel and Gordon’s work, LOST IN PARIS is a wondrously fun and hectic tale of peculiar people finding love while lost in the City of Lights. Co-directors Dominique Abel and Fiona Gordon join us to talk about their warmhearted, funny and embracing ode to love.

For news and updates go to: lostinparis.oscilloscope.net

“Gordon and Abel incorporate elements of lighthearted musicals and silent-film comedy (a scene atop the Eiffel Tower evokes the derring-do of Harold Lloyd) and provide themselves plenty of opportunities to stretch their pliant, wiry physicality.” – Serena Donadoni, Village Voice

“An exquisite miniature puzzle-box pop-up-book of a movie. All is color and light and exhilaration here, a fantastical lark that is sheer mischievous joy.” – MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Philospher

“Cruel comic mishaps may be this movie’s raison d’être, but they are softened at every turn by the gentle humanity of the city’s inhabitants, and by the unspoken sense that everything will turn out fine in the end.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“Rather than reinventing the wheel, Abel and Gordon keep turning it with their own intimate touch.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire

“Always inventive and occasionally hilarious.” – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

The Last Men in Aleppo, Director Feras Fayyad

 

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After five years of war in Syria, the remaining citizens of Aleppo are getting ready for a siege. We follow the volunteers from The White Helmets as they experience the daily life of death and struggle in the streets of the city. They fight for sanity in a place where war has become the norm. Khaled, Subhi and Mahmoud are among the first to enter the destroyed buildings, scouring through the rubble in search of bodies and signs of life. They now live more or less under siege and constant bombings, together with the remaining 350.000 civilians in Aleppo. They all struggle with the same dilemma: Should they flee and bring their families to safety, or should they stay and fight for their city? Director Feras Fayyad talks about the fearless actions of the The White Helmets and his gripping, harrowing and sobering documentary.

For news and updates go to: Last Men in Aleppo

“‘Last Men in Aleppo’ is likely to make you almost ashamed of your comforts and leave you with a feeling of impotence.” Glenn Kenny, The NYTimes

You should — you must — see Last Men in Aleppo to witness an ongoing tragedy. But you should also see it to learn humility.” – David Edelstein, Vulture

Feras Fayyad’s viscerally immediate, exquisitely realized portrait of the Syrian Civil Defense’s “White Helmet” volunteers.” – Guy Lodge, Variety

“Last Men In Aleppo has the upsetting urgency of breaking news: There are moments that could have come straight from a live stream, given the violence that’s still rocking Syria, months after Fayyad’s cameras stopped rolling.” – A.A. Down, AV Club

Nowhere to Hide, Director Zaradasht Ahmed

 

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Nowhere to Hide follows male nurse Nori Sharif through five years of dramatic change, providing unique access into one of the world’s most dangerous and inaccessible areas – the “triangle of death” in central Iraq. Initially filming stories of survivors and the hope of a better future as American and Coalition troops retreat from Iraq in 2011, conflicts continue with Iraqi militias, and the population flees accompanied by most of the hospital staff. Nori is one of the few who remain. When ISIS advances on Jalawla in 2014 and takes over the city, he too must flee with his family at a moment’s notice, and turns the camera on himself. The film stretches over a period of five years, beginning with the hope of a better future, to witnessing the growth of ISIS (the Islamic State), and eventually the fall of Nori’s home town. As Nori keeps filming throughout this period of time, he begins to turn the camera on himself. Nori’s narrative represents persistence, hope and faith. But, in this new reality of being squeezed between two giant forces – ISIS on one side and the Iraqi militias on the other, is it possible to remain impartial and keep his family intact? Will he and his family survive, and be able to rebuild the country and the oasis that lies hidden behind the smoke and rubble? Director Zaradasht Ahmed talks with us about the utter devastation and fading hope of normality that now pervades his beloved country.

For news and updates go to Nowhere to Hide

NOWHERE TO HIDE at the Laemmle Music Hall (9036 Wilshire Blvd.) – Q&A schedule: Friday, June 30th – 7:30 p.m. : Director Zaradasht Ahmed in conversation with Documentary Editor/Filmmaker Doug Blush; Saturday July 1st – 7:30 p.m. : Q and A with Director Zaradasht Ahmed; Sunday, July 2nd – 7:30 p.m. : Director Zaradasht Ahmed in conversation with Film Critic Dan Schindel (Film School Rejects, Paste Magazine).

“As captured through the ceaselessly unflinching lens of Sharif’s borrowed video camera, “Nowhere to Hide” offers an uneasy prognosis that is at once graphically gut-wrenching and doggedly life-affirming” – Michael Rechtshaffen, LA Times

“Zaradasht Ahmed’s documentary Nowhere to Hide is a you-are-there gut-punch about Iraq after the American military’s 2011 withdrawal.” – Sherilyn Connelly, SF Weekly

“Some great documentaries cut through the inessentials and help you make sense of an apparently senseless world. Others … shock you into an even greater confoundment, demonstrating, moment by moment, how irrational the world really is.” – David Edelstein, New York Magazine

“A profoundly brave film.” – Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times

The Skyjacker’s Tale, Director Jamie Kastner

In the riveting new documentary THE SKYJACKER’S TALE, Ishmael Muslim Ali (formerly LaBeet) is the American convicted of murdering eight people on a Rockefeller-owned golf course in the US Virgin Islands. After years of trying to get his conviction overturned, he took matters into his own hands and hijacked an American Airlines plane full of passengers to Cuba on New Years Eve 1984, and got away with it. Until now. Thirty years on the FBI’s most wanted list and against the backdrop of his looming extradition to serve eight consecutive life sentences in the US, the film recounts the hijacking that got him here, re-examines his original trial and reveals a gross miscarriage of justice. In a story that is more relevant than ever with racially charged police brutality and injustice constantly in the headlines, THE SKYJACKER’S TALE captures LaBeet / Ali’s first interview since the hijacking and includes never before seen footage. Is he a heartless criminal or a victim? The audience must decide. But what emerges is a picture of American government and law enforcement attitudes and actions toward their own population that are shockingly similar to the headlines of today. Director Jamie Kastner talks about the shocking revelations surrounding the forced confessions and extraordinary legal proceedings that led to LaBeet’s desperate act.

For news and updates go to: Skyjacker’s Tale

THE SKYJACKERS TALE filmmaker Jamie Kastner will participate in Q&As following the 7:20 screenings on Friday and Saturday evening at the Monica Film Center, July 14 and 15.

“The Skyjacker’s Tale mixes archival footage with well-detailed re-creations and present-day interviews to explore a little-known chapter in U.S. colonial politics.” – Georgia Straight

“Kastner relies a little too heavily on dramatic re-enactments of Labeet’s flight to Cuba in the first section, but the film gets a lot more involving once he starts digging into the history that put Labeet on that plane in the first place.” – Peter Howell, Toronto Star

“Kastner has crafted an entertainingly kitschy version of an Errol Morris film …” – Village Voice

Sami Blood, Director Amanda Kernell

 

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SAMI BLOOD is the electrifying debut feature of writer/director Amanda Kernell. Based on her own grandmother’s life and set in 1930s Sweden during the pre-Nazi eugenics movement, SAMI BLOOD follows Elle, a young indigenous Lapland girl made to feel like an inferior species when she’s subjected to indoctrination and race biology in a Swedish boarding school. Elle escapes, and in doing so is estranged from her sister, her family and her culture. SAMI BLOOD is a unique and intimate perspective on the history of the Sami people, and tells a story of oppression that resonates across borders and generations. The film features a breakthrough performance from its young lead actress Lene Cecilia Sparrok, who has never acted before and is Sami herself.  She stars in the film alongside her sister Mia Sparrok. Director and writer Amanda Kernell joins us to talk about her heart wrenching story of a young woman struggling to find a place in an increasingly hostile world.

90% on RottenTomatoes

For news and updates go to: sami-blood.synergetic.tv

facebook.com/sameblod

Los Angeles Screening: Beginning June 30, 2017 at the Laemmle Monica Film Center

WINNER – Best Director of a Debut Film – 2016 Venice Film Festival

WINNER – Best Director – 2016 Toyko International Film Festival

WINNER – Best Actress – 2016 Toyko International Film Festival

WINNER – Valhalla Award – Santa Barbara Film Festival

OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2017 Sundance Film Festival

OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2016 Toronto International Film Festival

OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2017 Berlin Film Festival

“Fierce, expertly crafted” – Laura Kern, Film Comment

“A stirring debut… introduces a poised, intelligent young talent in star Lene Cecilia Sparrok.” – Guy Lodge, Variety

“An attractively assembled coming-of-age story.” – Boyd Van Hoji, The Hollywood Reporter

“Sámi Blood features a winning combination of strong central performances… and an intimate, empathetic approach to a period of history which is not widely known” – Wendy Ide, Screen Daily

Dalya’s Other Country – Director Julia Meltzer

 

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A smiling, effervescent teenager, Dalya is the focus of the new documentary Dalya’s Other Country, which tells the remarkable story of a family displaced by the Syrian conflict and explores a young life caught between highly politicized identities. Dalya comes across as an ordinary Southern California teenager. She takes selfies and goes to prom. She plays sports and hangs out at the mall. She is also the only student at her Catholic high school who wears a hijab. In 2012, Dalya moved to the United States from Aleppo, Syria, as her country disintegrated in the wake of a horrific civil war. Starting in 2013, the film follows Dalya and her mother through what seems at first a typical immigration experience. They adjust to unfamiliar American ways,  even as they maintain the cultural and religious traditions that sustain them. However, they grow tense and anxious as the 2016 presidential campaign unfolds and candidate Donald Trump calls for restrictions on Muslim immigrants. Director Julia Meltzer stops by to talk about Dalya’s uniqueness and the commonality of human beings seeking acceptance and a chance to be themselves.

MONDAY, JUNE 26 at 9 PM PBS Television Series POV Kicks-Off 30th Season with Timely Focus on Syrian War and Global Refugee Crisis

Dalya’s Other Country is a co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM)

For news and updates go to: pbs.org/pov/dalyasothercountry

Also go to: dalyasothercountry.com

Hare Krishna! The Mantra, The Movement and the Swami Who Started It All – Co-Director Lauren Ross (John Griesser, Jean Griesser)

 

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1965: America is in turmoil. Unprecedented introspection and questioning of societal norms roil the country. Prabhupada, an unassuming 70-year-old Swami from India, arrives in New York City alone and without support or money. He carries only the ancient scriptures he has translated, and the firm faith in his teacher’s request: “offer spiritual wisdom to the people of the world!” Suddenly thrust into the raging counterculture movement, Prabhupada speaks of the world’s real need, which is not necessarily satisfied by political or social revolutions, but by a revolution of consciousness. This divergence from the status quo successfully captures the attention of a generation of youth seeking answers to life’s existential questions. From a tiny storefront on 26th 2nd Avenue, Prabhupada shares with them the idea that the way to find real happiness, love and freedom is to search within and connect to your true self. All this, the Swami says, begins by simply chanting a rhythmic, meditative 16-word mantra – Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This universal message resonates with more and more people, including musician George Harrison whose hit song ‘My Sweet Lord’, features the Hare Krishna chant. From there, Prabhupada’s movement explodes, and his followers – now known as the Hare Krishnas – become infamous for chanting and dancing in the streets. Co-director Lauren Ross (John Griessen, Jean Griessen) joins us to talk about the remarkable life and time of Swami Prabhupada and his mission to teach happiness.

For news and updates: harekrishnathefilm.com

“A dynamic documentary about the visionary Vedic scholar who launched the Hare Krishna movement.” – Spirituality and Practice

HARE KRISHNA! director John Griesser and producer Lauren Ross will participate in Q&A’s at the Monica Film Center after the 7:30 PM screenings on Friday and Saturday, June 23 and 24. HARE KRISHNA! writer Jean Griesser will join them on Friday and HARE KRISHNA! composer Michael Mollura will join them on Saturday.

** LAFF – What We Started, Co-Directors Bert Marcus and Cyrus Saidi

 

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WHAT WE STARTED aims to establish itself as the defining film of the electronic music genre.  Through an artfully crafted narrative and stunning visual techniques, the film delves into the highly popular world of electronic dance music, providing backdoor access to a widely misunderstood, self-driven and well-insulated industry on its way to global domination.  Presently, the genre is booming at a pinnacle higher than ever before, however most do not realize that electronic dance music began as an underground movement that originated in America.  The film sets out to illuminate this rich history: from its underground inception in the late 1980s in America to the musicians and fans of this genre that relentlessly fought for their rights around the world, both in the dance club and on the streets, to find a safe space to express themselves, to the development of this modern, mainstream revolution that has taken the world by storm. Specifically, and with unprecedented access, WHAT WE STARTED follows industry pioneers, like Carl Cox, who are juxtaosed by the journey of a young, superstar of today, Martin Garrix.  These dichotomous journeys of past and present are carefully interwoven to illuminate all viewpoints and highlight the momentous and groundbreaking time that electronic dance music is experiencing presently, while also leaving open the question of what will happen next for this incredible genre of music. WHAT WE STARTED Co-directors Bert Marcus and Cyrus Saidi join us to talk about the history of today’s dynamic soundtrack and their film’s world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

For news and updates go to: bertmarcus.com/what-we-started/

** For news and updates go to: filmindependent.org/la-film-festival

World Premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival

Thursday, June 15, 5:30 p.m. – Arclight Santa Monica

 Press and Industry screening

Monday, June 19, 1:30 p.m. – Arclight Culver City

Catching Feelings, Director / Writer Kagiso Lediga

Max  Matshane  (Kagiso  Lediga),  is  a  34-year  old  author  who  wrote  a  South African bestseller  in  his  20’s,  but  whose  star has  waned  and  now  finds  himself  as  a disgruntled  professor,  teaching  creative writing  at  the  local  university. Max  lives in  a  leafy  Johannesburg  suburb  with  his exceptionally  beautiful  wife,  Samkelo (Pearl  Thusi),  whose  career  is  on  the  rise as a reputable  journalist. Despite  their love  for  each  other,  their  relationship has  hit  a  rut.  Max  now  spends  his  time at  dinners  and  events,  musing  over  his frustrations  with  his  key  conspirator  and sounding  board,  Joel  (Akin  Omotoso), who  himself  has  his  hands  full  with  an illicit affair. A  wintery  Johannesburg  sets  the  scene, as  it  brings  with  it  a  very  successful  and flamboyant  author,  Heiner  Miller  (Andrew Buckland),  who  abandoned  South  Africa for greener pastures and now returns to  do  a  residency  in  Max’s  department.  But  after  Heiner  suffers  a mild  heart  attack, Max is  forced  to  bring him into his own home to recuperate. Instantly,  tensions  rise  as  the  infectious joie  de  vivre  of  Heiner  is  set  on  a  collision course  with  the  mundane  life  that  Max and  Sam  have  cultivated.  With  new questions  about  love  and  truth  thrust upon  them,  Max  and  Sam  are  faced  with an  unexpected  crossroad,  as  they  search for reason and purpose to life. Director and writer Kagiso Lediga joins usto talk about his edgy, sophisticated and funny feature and its debut at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival.

Los Angeles Film Festival Screening Time:

Sunday, June 18th at 6:10pm (ArcLight Culver City)

For news and updates go to: bigdog.digitalworkshop.tv/CatchingFeelings or go to: diprente.co.za/portfolio/catching-feelings

facebook.com/FeelingsMovie

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, Director Steve James

 http://www.kuci.org/podcastfiles/683/FS-6-9-17%20James-Abacus.mp3

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From the celebrated filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself), comes his illuminating new film, ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL. The film tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces Thomas Sung and his formidable daughters to defend themselves—and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community—over the course of a five-year legal battle. Tracking the many twists and turns of the case, Oscar-nominated James creates a moving portrait of a family, a community, and a way of life. Director Steve James joins us for a conversation on his illuminating and infuriating showcase of great documentary filmmaking.

For news and updates go to:abacusmovie.com

facebook.com/abacusmovie

Nuart – Los Angeles. Steve James and Mark Mitten in Q&A with Kirby Dick following 6/9, 7:30pm screening.

**WINNER** AUDIENCE AWARD – 2017 San Diego Asian Film Festival Showcase

**WINNER** AUDIENCE AWARD: BEST DOCUMENTARY – 2017 Sarasota Film Festival

**WINNER** BEST EDITING: FEATURE LENGTH DOCUMENTARY – 2017 Ashland Independent Film Festival

RUNNER UP – GROLSCH PEOPLE’S CHOICE DOCUMENTARY AWARD – 2016 Toronto International Film Festival

BEST OF FEST – 2017 Palm Springs International Film Festival

“[Steve James] is one of our most humanist filmmakers… [He] has an amazing ability to capture entire communities by focusing on a few people within them… The big picture doesn’t matter if we can’t see how it’s impacting people on a day to day basis.” – Brian Tallerico, Roger Ebert.com

“It’s not every day that you end up rooting for a bank, but the story “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail” tells is no ordinary tale.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“James spins a fascinating and complex web involving lies, fraud, a months-long trial with a hung jury, and cultural biases against Abacus and the immigrant Chinese community it serves.” – Kristen Yoonson Kim, Village Voice

“In its intimate, well-observed way, the film is deeply moving… a snapshot of a loving family coming together during a crisis.” – Tim Grierson, Screen International

Radio Dreams, Director Babak Jalali

 

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RADIO DREAMS, winner of the 45th Rotterdam International Film Festival’s Tiger Award, is the newest feature film from Iranian-British director Babak Jalali (FRONTIER BLUES). RADIO DREAMS creates the bizarre yet very real world of PARS-FM – a Farsi-language radio station broadcasting from the heart of San Francisco. The story unfolds over a single day as the station’s program manager, Hamid – a brilliant, misunderstood Iranian writer (played by the “Iranian Bob Dylan” Mohsen Namjoo) – prepares for a triumphant broadcast – a live performance pairing Metallica and Kabul Dreams, Afghanistan’s first rock band. Meanwhile, Hamid must juggle a dysfunctional mix of on-air talent, station managers, and performers while fending off the owner’s plans to wrest control of the station. RADIO DREAMS brings to life the sometimes bizarre experience of immigrants pursuing dreams in the U.S.A. with the perfect mixture of honesty, art, and socio-political topicality served up in an ingenious, offbeat transmission.

For news and updates go to: radiodreamsthemovie.com

facebook.com/radiodreamsmovie

WINNER – Tiger Award for Best Picture – 45th Rotterdam International Film Festival
WINNER – Best Director – Tarkovsky International Film Festival
WINNER – Best Actor – Durban International Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Viennale, Milano, Munich, San Francisco, and Seattle International Film Festivals

Screenings in Southern California:

Opens in the Los Angeles area on Friday, June 9 

at Laemmle’s Ahrya Fine Arts (Beverly Hills)

at Laemmle’s Town Center (Encino)

and at Edwards Westpark 8 (Irvine)

“The quirky setups, oddball interactions and erratic conflicts … provide ample doses of amusement and provocation to keep things afloat.” – Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

“There are traces of early Wim Wenders in this story of immigrants adrift in a world not their own, trying to make the best of things.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times

“Royami is the heart of the film: It is his sincere and artistically principled dream of a musical union between East and West, between Metallica and Kabul Dreams, that fuels the film’s engine.” – Catherine Bray, Variety

“The film examines, with wit and patience, the hard work of community-building – and the toll on someone far from home, doing work that’s not his calling.” – Alan Scherstuhl, Village Voice

One Less God, Director Lliam Worthington

 

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In 2008, a band of young Islamic militants from Pakistan lands in Mumbai, their primary target, the iconic Taj Mahal hotel. With Indian forces unable to regain control, for 4 days the guests must battle to survive as the terrorists seek to drive them from hiding. The harrowing events that follow will come to be known as India’s 9/11 and one of the most audacious terrorist attacks in history is captured in a horrifying and enlightening story of cruelty and sustaining humanity. One Less God Director Lliam Worthington joins us to talk about why it was important for him to shine a light on a tale of monsters and men. Director Lliam Worthington Statement: “I wanted to craft a story that walked the line between demonization and apologetics, and that would be a genuine movement towards greater humanism and compassion. One that might aspire to promote healthy discussion afterwards, as opposed to heighten fear and increase the polarization. I also wanted to capture the emotional authenticity of those who suffered in the attacks but counter that with a genuine exploration into the psyches of the terrorists. Then use those two conflicting yet parallel journeys as a means to evoke broader questions around man’s inhumanity to man and the nature of belief.”

For news and updates go to: newrealmsfilms.com.au

For details on the screening of One Less God go to: danceswithfilms.com/one-less-god

Dances with Film screening Thursday, June 8 @ 9:30PM

facebook.com/OneLessGodMovie

Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS, Co-director Nick Quested (and Sebastian Junger)

 

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Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker and best-selling author Sebastian Junger and his Emmy-winning producing partner, Nick Quested, chronicle Syria’s descent into the unbridled chaos that allowed the rise of the Islamic State, better known as ISIS, in Iraq and Syria. The film follows as the peaceful anti-government protests of the Arab Spring turn into an armed uprising against the despotic regime of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, opening a door to a dangerous new enemy that preys on the disenfranchisement felt by Sunni Muslims in the Middle East and around the world.  In 2011, the Syrian people’s hopeful demonstrations for democratic reform were met with brutal repression by the Assad government, plunging the country into unending violence and despair. The resulting civil war has taken the lives of an estimated 400,000 people and uprooted millions more, creating a global refugee crisis. Conflict between the government, moderate rebel groups and ISIS jihadis have all but destroyed ordinary daily life in much of the country, and left the  nation’s largest metropolis, the ancient city of Aleppo, in ruins. Pulling from nearly 1,000 hours of stunningly visceral footage, the filmmakers provide a comprehensive picture of the conflict. Junger and Quested, who previously collaborated on a trio of films about the war in Afghanistan (Restrepo, “The Last Patrol” and “Korengal”), capture the Syrian war’s harrowing carnage, political and social consequences, and, most important, its human toll, while painting an alarming picture of the west’s role in the creation of ISIS. Hell on Earth co-director / co-producer Nick Quested stops by to talk about a war that is destroying the social and political fabric of the entire Middle East as well as the unspeakable horror being visited upon millions of innocents.

For news and updates go to: nationalgeographic.com/hell-on-earth

“The 100-minute film does a phenomenal job detangling the numerous scenarios that led to Syria’s civil war and current bloodbath, dispelling the notion that this conflict is too complicated for those not versed on the Middle East to understand.” – Lorraine Ali, Los Angeles Times

“”Hell on Earth” portrays the Syrian citizens, who live in a morass of civil war, with an emotional directness we can’t turn away from, to the point that it’s no longer possible to think of those citizens as “them.” They are us, or could be.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“A mostly impressive array of experts … adds to the merciless clarity of this tragic picture.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times

Mammoth Lakes Film Festival – Shira Dubrovner, Founder and Festival Director

 

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Shira Dubrovner, longtime resident of Mammoth Lakes, is a community organizer and leader, arts advocate, and film lover who followed her lifelong passion for cinema to become the founder of the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival. Shira is also the Artistic Director of this well regarded theatre company. After her experience creating a successful theatre in Mammoth (established at the Edison Theatre, which will serve as one of the key screening venues during this year’s film festival), she decided to introduce the community to her other passion – independent film – by creating the Mammoth Lakes Film Festival.  This year’s Mammoth Lakes Film Festival is a five-day festival that screens independent features and shorts in the spectacular setting of Mammoth Lakes—California’s premier mountain resort, high in the Eastern Sierras from May 24 – 28, 2017, Memorial Day weekend. The 3rd Annual Mammoth Lakes Film Festival, taking place  in the magnificent mountain setting of Mammoth Lakes, California, has announced its line-up of screenings, which will include premieres, festival favorites and classic films. The five-day festival will take place May 24-28, 2017, beginning on Wednesday with the Opening Night Screening of Cheech and Chong’s much-loved first feature UP IN SMOKETommy Chong, one of its stars as well as its uncredited co-director, will be  present for a Q&A after the screening, which is followed by the Gala Opening Night Party at the Sierra Events Center. Saturday evening will feature the SIERRA SPIRIT AWARD CENTERPIECE GALA & SCREENING: A Night with John Sayles. The evening will begin with a screening of his 1983 film BABY IT’S YOU starring Rosanna Arquette and Vincent Spano, followed by a conversation with Sayles and a presentation of the Sierra Spirit Award. Sayles’s credits include THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET, MATEWAN, EIGHT MEN OUTLONE STAR, and THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH, amongst others. In addition to the two classic films representing the work of Chong and Sayles, an additional 18 features will be screened over the five days of the festival. Feature documentary films in competition will include EIGHT (US Premiere), FOREVER B, (World Premiere), THE ISLANDS AND THE WHALES, OLANCHO, RAT FILM, STRAD STYLE and WHAT LIES UPSTREAM. Spotlight Screening Documentaries not in competition will include THE CHALLENGEDINA, and MACHINES. Feature narrative films in competition will include NEIGHBORHOOD FOOD DRIVE, WITHDRAWN, SPACE DETECTIVE. Foreign films in competition will include COLD BREATH, THE ERLPRINCE, THE FIXER and THE GREAT UNWASHED (U.S. Premiere). The final Narrative Feature, not in competition, will be the rave-reviewed Sundance hit MENASHE, which has been picked up by A24 for distribution. In addition to the Opening Night Gala and the Sierra Spirit Award Event, there is a Filmmakers Bash on Saturday evening at Rafters featuring the band Jelly Bread and the Awards Ceremony on Sunday, May 27 at the Sierra Events Center. Founder and Director Shira Dubrovner joins us to talk about this year’s festival highlights.

For ticket sales and updates go to: mammothlakesfilmfestival.com

The Last Shaman, Director Raz Degan

 

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Directed by Raz Degan, The Last Shaman is the story of James Freeman, a young man who decides to take matters in his own hands when faced with incurable depression. He undergoes a life-changing journey in the Amazon jungle that brings him a deeper understanding and acceptance of self. Along the way, he experiences the healing properties of the tribal plant medicine Ayahuasca and the world around it. From the outside looking in, James is living the American dream. But behind closed doors, he has no desire to live and contemplates suicide. Desperate to find a way out of darkness, James travels to the Amazon rain forest with one mission: to save his own life. Without knowing any of the dangers that lie ahead, he starts searching for a Shaman who can help. James’ road to redemption isn’t easy — he faces many obstacles and even a few life-threatening experiences as he learns to acknowledge the space inside himself and understand a larger truth about how we’re all connected. After undergoing various forms of treatments from tribal plants and medicines, James is faced with the consequences of his own actions. He undergoes a life changing experience that brings him a deeper understanding and acceptance of himself, and a more profound understanding of the interconnectedness of us all. Director Raz Degan join us for a conversation on their journey into a world of spirituality, self awareness and an ancient culture.

For news and updates go to: thelastshaman.com

“It’s possible to have doubts about ayahuasca (which, we learn, has been increasingly commercialized) and still find Mr. Freeman’s resolve uplifting.” – Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

Violet, Director and Writer Bas Devos

 

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In his first feature film Belgium-based director Bas Devos (We Know, Taurus) 15-year-old Jesse’s best friend, Jonas, is violently attacked at random during a routine trip to the mall. The attackers do not confront or acknowledge Jesse, and Jesse does not engage or pursue the attackers… he simply backs away. Why did this happen? Could Jesse have done more? Did he have an obligation? These are the questions posed by VIOLET, a carefully calibrated character study of the process of coping in the midst of senseless trauma. In the aftermath of Jonas shocking death Jesse has to face his family and friends from the BMX riders crew and explain the unexplainable – how he feels about it. Jesse’s parents and friends all seem to have their own (often destructive) reactions to the incident, but it’s the parents of the victim with whom he develops a strange connection. Shot partially on 8-perf 65mm film by acclaimed cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis (Bullhead, The Drop), Director and writer Bas Devos’ meticulously calculated debut is constructed like a series of lush photographs. In each of the film’s compositions we see a sophisticated mosaic of loss, the permanence of trauma, and the tumult of youth. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 Berlinale, VIOLET looks at Jesse’s inability to answer their questions gradually isolate Jesse and the growing grief prevents him from finding comfort. Director Bas Devos joins us for an thoughtful conversation on the power of cinema and the space in between exposition and observation.

For news and updates go to: neweuropefilms or alteredinnocence.net/violet

“It bores into the mourning process and its piquant combination of emotional numbness and sensory vulnerability, rigorously avoiding finding an easy way out of this quagmire.” – Christopher Gray, Slant Magazine

“Violet is deft and rigorous, oblique to the point of inscrutability.” – Calum Marsh, Village Voice

“Intensely stylized, highly original and utterly mesmerizing.” – Ronnie Scheib, Variety

“Beautifully shot images speak way louder than words in this Belgian drama about a teenager’s mourning process. If Gus Van Sant had grown up in Flanders (…) he might have directed something like Violet. The final image, an 8-minute sequence shot, is a wonder to behold and ends the film on a perfect and perfectly poetic note.” – Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter