A looming disaster in one of the most spectacular environments on Earth sparks a rescue mission unlike any other in SEA OF SHADOWS, a riveting new documentary with the intensity of a Hollywood thriller from National Geographic Documentary Films and winner of the Sundance audience award. When Mexican drug cartels and Chinese traffickers join forces to poach the rare totoaba fish in the Sea of Cortez, their deadly methods threaten to destroy virtually all marine life in the region, including the most elusive and endangered whale species on Earth, the vaquita porpoise.SEA OF SHADOWS follows a team of dedicated scientists, high-tech conservationists, investigative journalists and courageous undercover agents as well as the Mexican Navy as they put their lives on the line to save the last remaining vaquitas and bring the vicious international crime syndicate to justice. Director Richard Ladkani (The Ivory Game, The Devil’s Miner) talks about the monumental challenge of saving a highly intelligent mammal from a desperately poor community who see the black market totoaba and the vaquita as a way to spare their family from a life of poverty and degradation.
“Sea of Shadows may still raise awareness about the plight of other sea creatures still under threat from illegal nets sweeping the bottom of the ocean, killing everything unfortunate enough to swim in its wake.” – Monica Castillo, Remezcla
Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love is renowned filmmaker Nick Broomfield’s most personal and romantic film of his career. The Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love starts on the Greek island of Hydra in 1960, where Leonard Cohen, then a struggling and unknown fiction writer, and Marianne Ihlen, a single mother with a young son, became part of community of expat artists, writers and musicians. Never-before-seen footage shot by Broomfield and legendary documentarian D.A. Pennebaker make for a unique portrait of an idyllic 1960’s bohemia. The time on Hydra left a lasting imprint on both Marianne and Leonard, whose friendship would last another fifty years before their deaths in 2016. It was on Hydra in 1968 that director Broomfield, then aged 20, first himself met Marianne. She introduced him to Cohen’s music and encouraged Nick to make his first film. As she was with so many artists, Marianne was an enormous influence on Broomfield, who went on to direct award-winningdocumentaries, many about iconic music legends including Whitney Houston, (Whitney Houston: Can I Be Me) Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, (Tupac and Biggie) Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love (Kurt & Courtney). Director Nick Broomfield joins us to talk about his relationship with Marianne, the undeniable talent and charisma of Cohen, and the profound impact his time on Hydra had on his personal and professional life.
“Love stories are like Tolstoy’s unhappy families: no two of them are alike. But even given that, the relationship chronicled in “Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love” has a quality very much its own.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“Broomfield’s personal engagement and his embrace of the complexities of life and love elevate this film, which travels across decades and continents to show the lasting power of one connection.” – Joe Blessing, The Playlist
ENDZEIT – EVER AFTER, is apost-apocalyptic feminist gothic fairy tale that takes place two years after zombies have overrun Earth. Two young women, Vivi (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) and Eva (Maja Lehrer), develop an unlikely friendship in order to survive. They are stranded in the no-man’s land of the Black Forest where they have to rely on each other and on nature, while in search of a more humane world. But their survival has also unleashed demons from their past that they must confront. In the end, love arises not only for each other, but also for the fantastic natural world surrounding them. According to the director Carolina Hellsgård:“ENDZEIT – EVER AFTER reflects upon our future existence, how we choose to live, and what our options will be in a world where nature strikesback. The aesthetics are inspired by the quirky and refreshing style of Olivia Vieweg’s graphic novel, which the script is based on.”
About the filmmaker:Carolina Hellsgård is a writer-director, born in Sweden and based in Berlin. She studied experimental media design at the Berlin University of Arts and film directing and screenwriting at Cal Arts in Los Angeles. Her critically acclaimed debut feature film WANJA premiered at the Berlinale 2015 and was nominated for Berlinale Best First Feature Award. It won Best Screenplay (Valletta Film Festival) and Best Feature Film Debut at the Biberacher Filmfestspiele. She is currently in post-production for the feature film project SUNBURNED.
“The alternating light and darkness here, and throughout “Ever After,” is a wonderful leitmotif for the women’s labyrinthian path, the journey of heroes.” – Maria GarciaLos Angeles Times
“A post-apocalyptic film, although fictional alludes to the reality we face today as nature begins to wreak its revenge on an out-of-control civilization.” – Louis ProyectCounterpunch.org
“Endzeit has definitely become one of my favorite films of the year, and one of my favorites of the genre. It is a refreshing take on not only these horrific creatures but also the meaning behind them and the apocalypse they bring.” – Stephanie ArcherFilm Inquiry
“It’s this ecological theme that leads to some truly inspired visuals which sustain the film until its unexpected, conciliatory conclusion. Endzeit is an unbalanced film, to be sure, but proof nonetheless of zombies’ enduring relevance in horror cinema.” – Christopher MachellCineVue
Avant-garde Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov (The Student) returns to the big-screen with a tribute to the early years of Russian rock with LETO. Leningrad, in the summer, early eighties. Smuggling LP’s by Lou Reed and David Bowie, the underground rock scene is boiling ahead of Perestroika. LETO tells the tale of Viktor Tsoi (Theo U) and the Kino group, about his relationship with Mike Naumenko (Roma the Beast), his wife Natalya (Irina Starshenbaum) and many who were in the vanguard of the rock movement Leningrad in 1981. This is a story about Leningrad of the 80s, about love, searching and high hopes – about a mood that will stay with us forever. LETO is full of music that the characters live and breathe: the Kino group, Mike Naumenko, the cult tracks of that time. Mike and his beautiful wife Natasha meet with young Viktor Tsoï. Together with friends, they will change the trajectory of rock n’roll music in the Soviet Union. Co-writers Mikhail Idov and Lili Idova join us to talk about theworking with avant-garde Russian filmmaker Kirill Serebrennikov, celebrating a time of artistic freedom and indelible impression that these artists had on the people who connected to their enthusiasm.
“Weaving a glancing love triangle into a poignant observation on the waxing and waning of creativity, Serebrennikov revels in radiant black-and-white scenes of urban grit.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
“Far from an angry political screed, it feels both removed from its fraught larger context and shrewdly, poignantly attuned to it.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“Leto is a gorgeous, endlessly charming romance drama that’s part jukebox musical and part anthropological document. With revolution on the periphery, Leto is a superb picture.” – Joshua Brunsting, The CriterionCast
“There is a sprawling sense of time and place to Leto, which blows out the running to over two hours, yet there is not a frame of the film one would want to see excised.” – Simon Foster, Screen-Space
THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY is a cautionary tale for these times of democracy in crisis, the personal and political fuse to explore one of the most dramatic periods in Brazilian history. THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY captures thepersonal journey of filmmaker Petra Costa (ELENA, Olma and the Seagull) into politics watching her country fall into disarray, echoing the undoing of so many democracies around the world. Combining unprecedented access to leaders past and present, including Presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva, Costa witnesses their rise and fall and the tragically polarized nation that remains. Through the stories of her mother and father, Costa documents the rebirth of a democratized Brazil following years of authoritarian rule under a military dictatorship. She traces the impeachment of Rousseff, the imprisonment of de Silva, and the rise of the far right. Was Brazil’s democracy a short-lived dream? Merging the personal and the political, Costa delves to the heart of her country’s unfolding identity crisis, examining widespread institutional corruption while connecting her own family’s complex past to Brazil’s current crisis. Capturing a unique historical moment, A NETFLIX original documentary production, THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY examines the forces at play in the global erosion of democracy. Director Petra Costa joins us for a conversation about Brazil’s past, present and future and how the political trajectory of her beloved country is increasingly relevant to our own.
“Directed by Petra Costa, this completely fascinating documentary provides an unexpectedly compelling inside look at the political earthquakes that have been roiling Brazil for several years.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“A dense, complex undertaking Costa impressively wraps her arms – and our minds – around, made even more daunting by the dual purpose “The Edge of Democracy” serves as both an immediate witness to an extraordinarily precarious historical moment.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest
Routinely dismissed by film critics as a lesser genre artistically, romantic comedies aren’t simply traditionally beloved, but also a true art form which has produced some of the most classic and enduring films we know today. These films should receive the recognition they deserve along with an experience to bring together a community of film fans that flock to them. To remedy that perception, there is ROMCOM FEST. Rom Com Fest is founded by Miraya Berke, female entrepreneur – founder of Pop Productions event boutique studio and co-founder of Dessert Goals, the popular dessert festival in New York and Los Angeles. With a background in events and partnership and a personal love of romantic comedies, she is passionate about the romantic comedy genre and its legitimization in the eyes of film fans, filmmakers, and critics, in addition to the pure enjoyment of the films themselves. The first ever Rom Com Fest will take place June 20-23 in Los Angeles at Downtown Independent. In addition to a mix of new and classic rom com film screenings, we will host engaging activities and events to connect the community of rom com lovers. Highlights include a 20th anniversary screening of 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, A special screening of the classic NEVER BEEN KISSED (curated by actress Rachel Bloom), the west coast premiere of actor Joe Cross’ directorial debut SUMMER NIGHT, a late night CBD screening of HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK, and more. Festival founder and director Miraya Berke joins us to talk about her love of film and her desire to create a unique filmgoing experience.
A motorcycle cop, Officer Frank Shankwitz, is still haunted by the traumatic separation from his father when he was a boy. After surviving a near-fatal accident and being framed for police brutality, his whole world falls apart. Unexpectedly, he finds hope in the shape of a terminally ill boy, who reunites him with his father after 28 years. To honor the boy, he creates the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The cast of Wish Man includes Kirby Bliss Blanton (“Project X,”), Robert Pine (“CHiPs,” “Independence Day”), Danny Trejo(“Machete,” “Con Air”), Bruce Davison (“X-Men,” X”-Men 2,” “Longtime Companion”), Frank Whaley (“Pulp Fiction,” “Field of Dreams,” “The Doors”), Tom Sizemore (“Saving Private Ryan,” “Heat”), Dale Dickey (“Winter’s Bone,” “Hell or High Water,”), Larry Wilcox (“CHiPs,” “Lassie”), Fay Masterson (“Eyes Wide Shut,” “The Quick and the Dead,”), and Steven Michael Quezada (“Breaking Bad,””).The story of Frank Shankwitz is brought to life by director Theo Davies and the performance of Australian actor Andrew Steel as Frank Stankwitz.
The documentary FREE TRIP to EGYPT is the brainchild of Canadian-Egyptian entrepreneur Tarek Mounib to build a bridge of mutual understanding and friendship with the very people who fear him. Traveling across the United States to find Americans concerned about an Islamic threat, he makes them an intriguing offer – a free trip to Egypt. With initial reactions ranging from suspicion to hostility, Tarek Mounib embarks on a mission. Traveling from sunny California to a Trump Rally in Kentucky, from a small town in the heart of Georgia, to Union Square in NYC, they cobble together a diverse group of people – including a school teacher, police officer, Marine Corps veteran, single mom, preacher and beauty pageant queen. All have preconceptions and misgivings, but are open and courageous enough to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Arriving in Cairo, the Americans spend 10 days paired with locals just as diverse as them – and possibly with just as many misconceptions. What happens when a retired teacher and her husband are united with a young Egyptian revolutionary? Or when a Christian missionary and a born-again, former Miss Kentucky are housed with an orthodox Muslim family where the mother wears a burqa? Or when a police officer faces off with a radical, left-leaning journalist? The answers are provocative, surprising, funny, magical, emotional, revealing, enlightening and ultimately life-changing, in other words, all things human. When people look beyond their ethnicity, political affiliations, religious beliefs, economic status and connect at a human level, it¹s a transformative and universal message for everyone to come together and join the global #PledgeToListen initiative, a social media revolution of acceptance. Director Ingrid Serban and Producer Tarek Mounib talk about the challenges and rewards of working on the revelatory and heartwarming FREE TRIP to EGYPT.
Q&A immediately following 7:10 PM Screening withCreator/Producer Tarek Mounib and Director Ingrid Serban
“Gently observing how many of our fellow Americans are full of fear while trying, in its tiny way, to do something about that, Ingrid Serban’s Free Trip to Egypt offers just that to a handful of travelers.”– John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
An expectant couple’s intimate weekend turns to terror when they discover their secluded country inn is a haunted maternity home where unwanted infants and mothers were murdered. Inspired by the true story of the infamous ‘Butterbox Babies’,THE CHILD REMAINS is a twisting supernatural thriller and homage to slow-burn vintage horror like The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby and Session 9. Starring Cannes’ Best Actress winner Suzanne Clement (Mommy), Allan Hawco (Hyena Road), Shelley Thompson (Labyrinth) and genre hero Geza Kovacs (Scanners, The Dead Zone), THE CHILDREMAINS is a character-driven, psychological scary movie for adults that will leave audiences breathless. Director Michael Melski stops by to talk about the real-life horror story behind THE CHILD REMAINS, filming in his hometown in beautiful Nova Scotia and putting together a first rate cast of accomplished actors.
In the quietly powerful documentary, THE PROPOSAL, director Jill Magid explores the life, death and profoundly moving work of Luis Barragán.Known as “the artist among architects,” Barragán is among the world’s most celebrated architects of the 20th century. Upon his death in 1988, much of his work was locked away in a Swiss bunker, hidden from the world’s view. In an attempt to resurrect Barragán’s life and art, boundary redefining artist Jill Magid creates a daring proposition that becomes a fascinating artwork in itself—a high-wire act of negotiation that explores how far an artist will go to democratize access to art.
Director’s Statement – The Proposal is my first feature film and the last chapter of a larger project I began in 2013 called The Barragán Archives. The project explores the contested legacy of Luis Barragán, Mexico’s most famous architect, and how his legacy is affected by the fact that a private corporation, Vitra, owns his archives and controls the rights in his name and work. For more than twenty years, this corporation has made his work largely inaccessible to the public. The film questions whether a single actor should be exclusively in control of how the world can engage with Barragán’s work. Almost as an invitation for image-making, Barragán was known to adjust a buildings’ design so that it would photograph better. With this film, I wanted to capture the overwhelming beauty of his work while simultaneously questioning the legal challenges one faces to do so. The film is in itself a proposal: A way to elicit dialogue about access to legacy and its proprietary nature, and not simply if the proposal will be accepted.– Jill Magid.
“Captivatingly wily. ‘The Proposal’ meditates on the meaning of artistic legacy. Most of all, it shines an ingeniously media-savvy spotlight on Barragán’s work.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, THE NEW YORK TIMES – Critic’s Pick
“A thoughtful, elegantly hypnotic exploration of ownership, access, and moral responsibility. “A multi-layered and thought-provoking work of art. Magid’s inspired response to a complex situation makes for an intriguing and approachable film.” – Allan Hunter, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL
“The documentary doesn’t bring closure to her fight for Barragán’s archive, but it will work its way under a viewer’s skin and leave them with persistent ideas to consider.” – Dan Schindel, HYPERALLERGIC
With its measured pacing and haunting ambience, Magid’s hypnotic film is an engaging examination of artistry, diplomacy, and posterity at a crossroads.” – Manuel Betancourt, REMEZCLA
“Beguiling. An unforgettable consideration of who should have ownership of an artist’s legacy.” – Stephen Saito, MOVEABLE FEST
In the late 1980s, the Detroit Red Wings hockey team was a laughing stock, often called the “Dead Wings.” After a wealthy pizza magnate bought the failing franchise, he appointed an unorthodox General Manager to build a championship team. Throwing off conventional wisdom, the new GM looked to America’s mortal enemy in the Cold War, the Soviet Union itself. Through a plot that sounds like a spy novel, the Red Wings organization brought on one Russian after another, sneaking them out under cover of night and whisking them to the Motor City, only to find that the new players faced another problem: Integration. THE RUSSIAN FIVE follows the stories of the five Russian players that emigrated to America, took root in Detroit, Michigan, and struggled to fit in, all while training day and night to become Stanley Cup champions. The new immigrants had to learn to communicate with their teammates, assimilate into the culture, and become Americans. THE RUSSIAN FIVE is the true story of immigrants that became American heroes, teammates that became family, and a scrappy, resilient city that became Stanley Cup Champions, twice. It’s a story about hopes and dreams becoming reality, and the harsh reality of dreaming big. The names Fedorov, Larionov, Fetisov, Kozlov, and Konstantinov are legend now in the Motor City and their influence is still felt throughout the National Hockey League today. Director Joshua Riehl stops by to talk about the long and winding journey of five gifted athletes who changed the course of North American hockey.
“One of the most dramatic and emotional of sports stories gets the expert film it deserves in “The Russian Five,” a documentary that is moving in ways you won’t see coming.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“It’s a story fans already know well, but “The Russian Five” lays it out in a compelling, easily digestible fashion. And it shows how without a major assist from Russia, Detroit would have never become Hockeytown.” – Adam Graham, Detroit News
“I know a good story when I see one and … this new passionately-realized debut feature from director Joshua Riehl got me involved in its sport, its personalities and its man-made mythos.” – Glenn Dunks, The FIlm Experience
“Timely, insightful, well-structured and thoughtful…” – Michael Ward, Should I See It
ECHO IN THE CANYON celebrates the explosion of popular music that came out of LA’s Laurel Canyon in the mid-60s as folk went electric and The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield and The Mamas and the Papas gave birth to the California Sound. It was a moment (1965 to 1967) when bands came to LA to emulate The Beatles and Laurel Canyon emerged as a hotbed of creativity and collaboration for a new generation of musicians who would soon put an indelible stamp on the history of American popular music. Featuring Jakob Dylan, the film explores the beginnings of the Laurel Canyon music scene. Dylan uncovers never-before-heard personal details behind the bands and their songs and how that music continues to inspire today. Echo In The Canyon contains candid conversations and performances with Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Michelle Phillips, Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Roger McGuinn and Jackson Browne as well as contemporary musicians they influenced such as Tom Petty (in his last film interview), Beck, Fiona Apple, Cat Power, Regina Spektor, and Norah Jones.ECHO IN THE CANYON is directed by former music journalist, record producer and label executive Andrew Slater. Andrew Slater joins us to talk about connecting the lasting impact of the “Canyon’s” rock royalty with their modern day torchbearers and his enlistment of Jakob Dylan to be a tour guide and music director.
“I have a feeling Echo in the Canyon will be watched for decades into the future as the essential document of a very specific time and place that changed music forever.” – Andy Howell, Film Threat
“Rich with revealing observations and engaging anecdotes, Slater’s documentary skirts the nostalgia trap by engagingly connecting with an impressive lineup of contemporary singer-songwriters…” Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter
“A richly evocative and entertainingly anecdotal overview of the 1960s Laurel Canyon music scene and its influence on contemporary artists.” – Joe Leydon, Variety
“Echo In the Canyon has the timeless appeal of a tasty riff. It’s the sunny equivalent of a tourist bus trip past the homes of famous rock stars, and director Andrew Slater carefully avoids the dark alleys.” – Noah Gittell, Washington City Paper
The searing new documentary from Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar, THE SILENCE OF OTHERS asks the question, “What if in the ‘60s you were sadistically tortured for your political beliefs – and the man responsible (Antonio González Pacheco, aka “Billy the Kid”) is now your neighbor?” The bloody Spanish Civil War (1936-39) was followed by the Generalissimo Francisco Franco dictatorship that ended only with his death in 1975 – after which a law granted amnesty for crimes committed throughout this period.THE SILENCE OF OTHERS tackles the legal/political questions that this enforced obliviousness has created, and equally compelling, the existential conundrum of living in a nation in which no one has been charged with the murder of hundreds of thousands, buried in more than 2000 mass graves. A new movement in Spain confronts these hard truths. With the rise of authoritarian regimes around the world – and with human rights abuses being committed on our own border – this film could not be more timely. THE SILENCE OF OTHERS won Best Documentary at the Goya Awards (Spain’s Oscar equivalent), as well as more than 30 honors from international festivals (Berlinale, IDFA, Sheffield, etc.) and was among the films shortlisted for the 2019 Best Documentary Oscar. The film has become a phenomenon in Spain, where more than a million people have seen it. Co-directors Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar join us for a conversation on the decades long search for justice by the families and the victims and why it matters.
Written and directed by Storm Saulter (“Better Mus’ Come”), SPRINTER follows Akeem Sharp (newcomer Dale Elliott), nicknamed the Rasta Rocket for his once-in-a-generation speed, who is set to be Jamaica’s next big track-and-field sensation. Akeem hopes his rise in athletics will take him to the U.S. to reunite him with his mother, who has supported the family while living as an illegal resident for over a decade. But Akeem’s rising star is weighed down by turmoil at home: a volatile father, and an unruly older brother who insinuates himself into Akeem’s career as a means of escaping – or perhaps enhancing – his scam artist hustle. The film also stars Kadeem Wilson (Ghett’ A Life), Dennis Titus (The Mighty Quinn), Shantol Jackson (Yardie), Bryshere Y. Gray (Empire), with Lorraine Toussaint (Selma, Orange is The New Black), and David Alan Grier (In Living Color) with songs by Grammy Award winning artist NE-YO and Jamaican dancehall performer Shenseea. Director and co-writer Storm Saulter (Robert A Maylor) joins us to talk about creating a beautiful film rooted in a heartfelt drama about a Jamaican family struggling with separation and the jolt of sudden success.
“A beautiful and triumphant film. What the film also importantly illustrates is the struggle so many immigrants’ families feel when mothers or fathers are forced to separate from their children in order to find a better life in another country so they can send money back home.” – The Knockturnal
“Saulter displays a great eye with his thoughtfully shot drama that captures life in Jamaica in a way that is rarely seen on screen.” – The Los Angeles Times
“One of those rare films that will grow by the positive word-of-mouth. Every single frame is beautiful to look at and under director Saulter’s expert eye, he makes Jamaica look like a paradise lost which matches the intensity of the story. Powerful. A must see.” – Los Angeles Sentinel
Academy Award-winning Passion Pictures and HHMI Tangled Bank Studios present one of the most important but untold science stories of our time, THE SERENGETI RULESis a tale with profound implications for the fate of life on our planet. Beginning in the 1960s, a small band of young scientists, Bob Paine, Tony Sinclair, Mary E. Power, John Terborgh, Jim Estes, and Sean B. Carroll headed out into the wilderness, driven by an insatiable curiosity about how nature works. Immersed in some of the most remote and spectacular places on Earth—from the majestic Serengeti to the Amazon jungle; from the Arctic Ocean to Pacific tide pools—they discovered a single set of rules that govern all life. Now in the twilight of their eminent careers, these five unsung heroes of modern ecology share the stories of their adventures, reveal how their pioneering work flipped our view of nature on its head, and give us a chance to reimagine the world as it could and should be. Director Nicolas Brown joins us to talk about the far-reaching implications of the groundbreaking work done by Bob Paine on the importance of “keystone” species and the tremendously important work done by his colleagues since then can lead to a restoration of the natural order and help humanity reverse an ecological catastrophe.
** THE SERENGETI RULES – Dr. Jim Estes, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UCSC and subject of the film with Dr John Terborgh, Professor of Environmental Sciences, Duke University also subject of the film will participate in a Q&A moderated by David Guy Elisco, Executive Producer, HHMI Tangled Bank Studios following the 7:50 pm show on Friday, 5/17 at the Monica Film Center.
“‘The Serengeti Rules’ celebrates not only the diversity and beauty of the natural world but also recognizes the transformative power of curiosity and knowledge.” – Kimber Myers, Los Angeles Times
“An absolutely riveting documentary about biodiversity and the need for humanity–its gravest threat–to reverse its course and preserve it. Difficult under the likes of Trump and the Koch’s but necessary.” Louis Proyect, counterpunch.com
“The great accomplishment of “The Serengeti Rules” is that it directs the viewer to see beauty in the way an ecologist might.” – Two Bugbee, New York Times
“It’s a film which sounds an alarm, but, unlike most similarly-themed pictures, one which permits a chink of light into the traditionally bleak narrative of man’s impact on the land.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International
** Spotlight on the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Visual Communications, the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, announced its outstanding program of films and events for the upcoming 35th edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) running MAY 2 – MAY 10, 2018. The all encompassing annual film celebration is presented across Los Angeles in West Hollywood, Downtown LA, Little Tokyo, Koreatown, and Hollywood. Visual Communications proudly celebrates the Film Festival’s 34 years as Southern California’s largest and most prestigious film festival of its kind. LAAPFF launches the celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month through this year’s slate of over 100 films from both Asian Pacific American and Asian international artists. For over three decades, the Festival has presented nearly 5,000 films by Asian Pacific American and Asian International talent. This year’s festival will feature over 130 short films during the nine day fest from May 2 – May 10. These cinema gems from around the globe featuring stories about love, family, heartbreak, friendships, and self acceptance are all part of the exciting line up. The Festival opens May 2nd with the World Premiere of YELLOW ROSE directed by Diane Paragas and starring Broadway legend Lea Salonga and emerging star Eva Noblezada. Two acclaimed festival favorites will screen as the Centerpiece Films at the Festival; GO BACK TO CHINA directed by Emily Ting and MS. PURPLE directed by Justin Chon. The closing night film is the world premiere of EMPTY BY DESIGN directed by Andrea A. Walter premiering on Friday, May 10. LAAPFF Executive Director Francis Cullado of Visual Communications stops by to talk about the ever expanding interest in Asian filmmakers and the trailblazing artistry being done by them.
Anchored by a riveting performance Yellow Rose tells the story of Rose, (Eva Noblezada) an undocumented 17-year old Filipina, dreams of one day leaving her small Texas town to pursue her country music dreams. Her world is shattered when her mom, Priscilla, (Princess Punzalan) suddenly gets picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Rose, facing this new realty, is forced to flee the scene, leaving behind the only life she knows, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery as she searches for a new home in the honky tonk world of Austin, Texas. Director Diane Paragas stops by to talk about heartwarming and insightful film, working with Dale Watson and the film’s World Premiere at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.
In the new film GO BACK TO CHINA we meet Sasha Li (Anna Akana). To say that Sasha is spoiled would be an understatement. She’s entitled and self centered. But unlike many of her peers, she doesn’t have to struggle financially. Her father, (Richard Ng) a toy tycoon in China, has given her a million dollar trust fund. But instead of investing in her future, she has blown through half of it already on designer duds and bottle services. When she calls her father to complain, she finds out that he has blocked all her accounts and is cutting her off. She’s given an ultimatum. She can either go back to China and work for the family business, or she’s cut off forever.Teddy Li, the patriarch of the family, is not exactly father of the year. Divorced three times (all due to infidelity) and father of four. But with Sasha’s arrival, they all have to figure out a way to co-exist as a family for the first time.Once Sasha starts working at the factory, she also gets a much needed dose of reality check. When she makes a huge mistake that threatens the workers’ livelihood, it’s on Sasha to decide what she’s willing to sacrifice, in order to do the right thing. GO BACK TO CHINAis a heartfelt and bittersweet family portrait that offers an honest look at the human cost of things that are made in China. Director Emily Ting (Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong) joins us to talk about her fish-out-of-water dramedy, and a talented cast of artists.
“A funny, light, and heartfelt situation comedy…thanks in part to its likable lead whose adventures to find herself don’t involve meeting a man of her dreams but rather landing a dream job after learning the value of hard work.” – John Fink, The Film Stage
“Smartly written, funny and wonderfully acted blend of comedy and drama. Its themes of family conflict, the clash of cultures and finding your true calling are framed within a likable, entertaining narrative which will surely find its audience.” – Rouven Linnarz, Asian Movie Pulse
“Anna Akana and Lynn Chen manufacture joy in ‘Go Back to China.’ [It] is funny enough to draw in an audience and smart enough to teach them something while they’re there.” – Brooke Sjoberg, The Daily Texan
“Emily Ting is a needed voice in cinema because she displays life in a way that you won’t see anywhere else. It’s real, raw, and relevant” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic
EATING UP EASTER, directed by native Rapanui filmmaker Sergio Mata’u Rapu, explores the dilemma his people are facing. Crafted as a story passed down to his newborn son, Sergio intertwines the authentic history of the island with the stories of four islanders. In their own voices, these Rapanui reveal the reality of modern life and the actions they are taking to preserve their culture and environment amidst rapid development. A local ecologistleads recycling efforts to tackle the mounting trash arriving with tourists and the waves of plastic washing up on shore. Two musicians struggle to build a free music school they hope will preserve cultural practices and reunite their fractured community. Sergio’s father, formerly the island’s first native Governor, attempts to balance traditions against the advantages of development while building a mini-mall in the island’s only town. EATING UP EASTER reveals and suggests ways forward in tackling the universal complexities of balancing growth and sustainability faced by local communities worldwide. Producer / DirectorSergio Mata’u Rapu joins us for a conversation on the impacts of globalization and tourism are having on his beloved community and how the challenges facing them are the same challenges we all face.
Native Rapanui Producer/Director Sergio Mata’u Rapu is the only Easter Islander working in production in an English speaking country. He has spent the last 15 years shooting, and producing documentaries that have aired on History Channel, Travel Channel, National Geographic, and NOVA. Through his work, Sergio aims to show the diversity of life through thought-provoking media to inspire resolutions to social, economic, and environmental conflicts.
In this unforgettable documentary we meet Gemma, a teenage troublemaker, a so called ‘Scheme Bird’ who introduces us to her world. The police know her by the way she runs – and she brags that she’ll end up either ”knocked up or locked up”. But in addition to fighting she loves her grandfather Joseph. He’s been like a father to her since her own mom abandoned her as a baby because of a drug addiction.Grandpa Joseph is sick and tired of the gang fights that has plagued the area for generations. But he likes pigeons. In fact he likes pigeons more than he likes most people. And when he turns the local boxing gym into a beauty contest for pigeons things start to change. With great care the men of the scheme pick out the most beautiful pigeons and suddenly they have something to live for. But despite Joseph’s efforts Gemma isn’t interested in the birds at all. She doesn’t want to disappoint her grandpa but the violent world of the scheme is also part of who she is. But what happens when the childish games turns into serious crime? Co-directors Ellen Fiske and Ellinor Hallin join us to talk about how they connected with Gemma, seamlessly blending into her world and can people escape patterns of destructive behaviorand find positive ways to navigate a community of “lost causes.”
For the last 20 years the Newport Beach Film Festival has brought the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking from around the world to Orange County. Under the direction of CEO and Co-founder Gregg Schwenk and the festival’s staff have been committed to entertaining and enlightening the public with a first-class international film program as well as providing a forum for cultural understanding and enriching educational opportunities, the Festival focuses on showcasing a diverse collection of both studio and independent films. The Festival supports the creation and advancement of innovative and artistic cinematic works from both emerging and seasoned filmmakers and proudly embraces the passion, vision and independent spirit of these talented artists. With the integration of the local community and educational institutions, the Festival stimulates an interest in the study and appreciation of film and encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to participate. The Community Outreach Program was created with the idea that film offers new perspectives and possibilities for a changing world. Each year, the Festival partners with over 40 non-profit organizations and pairs each philanthropic organization with a film that aligns with their mission. The Festival gives non-profit organizations a forum to voice their message to large audiences and spread awareness of their organization and mission through the medium of film. Areas of focus include the arts, health and human services, the environment, education, children’s causes, seniors’ and veterans’ programs, and alumni clubs. CEO and Co-founder Gregg Schwenk joins us to talk about a remarkable festival line-up of comedies, dramas, short films, action sports, classics, documentaries, musicals and foreign film excellence.
¡Boza! follows the harrowing journey of three young sub-Saharan African immigrants: Sani, Yamal & Kone, as they leave home in their teens to embark on their years-long journey to a new life in Spain. Crossing the Sahara Desert by foot, spending months to years living in the forests of Morocco, and finally making the dangerous crossing to the Spanish mainland or territories by land or sea, these three powerfully distinct immigration stories have one thing in common: their incredible optimism in the face of inconceivable adversity. Their stories teach us the perseverance of the human spirit, something our world desperately needs to be reminded of now. The dynamic structure jumps between present day footage of life in Spain and reconstructing their migration story using animation and archival footage. Through parallel storytelling, the film compares these three inspiring stories of success to the hopes of a group of migrants living in the slums of Tangier, Morocco. ¡Boza! Director and Producer Sydney Bowie discovered her love of documentary film as an undergraduate at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her short films have been selected to screen at festivals across the United States. In addition, Sydney has worked alongside noted documentary filmmakers, including Oscar-nominated Robert Kenner (Food Inc.)and world renowned British journalist and filmmaker Sean Langan. Sydney has received the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to work on her most recent film the New Migration Project, from which ¡Boza! was produced, documenting the lives of immigrants in Spain. Director Sydney Bowie stops by to talk about her intimate and heartfelt portrayal of people struggling to find a better life.
Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché,is a documentary about the first female filmmaker, Alice Guy-Blaché, which explores the heights of fame and financial success she achieved before she was shut out from the very industry she helped create. Over the span of her career, she wrote, produced or directed 1,000 films, including 150 with synchronized sound during the ‘silent’ era. Her work includes comedies, westerns and dramas, as well as films with groundbreaking subject matter such as child abuse, immigration, Planned Parenthood, and female empowerment. She also etched a place in history by making the earliest known surviving narrative film with an all-African American cast. Pamela B. Green has dedicated more than eight years of research in order to discover the real story of Alice Guy-Blaché (1873-1968) – not only highlighting her pioneering contributions to the birth of cinema but also her acclaim as a creative force and entrepreneur in the earliest years of movie-making. Green discovered rare footage of televised interviews and long archived audio interviews which can be heard for the first time in Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché, which affords Alice Guy-Blaché to tell her own story. Director Pamela B. Green joins us for a conversation on the winding journey of discovery and the exhilaration that comes from showcasing a visionary artist, producer, studio head, entrepreneur, feminist, and groundbreaking filmmaker.
“What starts as a biography turns into a detective thriller as Green crisscrosses the globe, searching for clues as to why Guy-Blaché has been forgotten.” – katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“A scrupulously well-researched documentary about one of early cinema’s greatest pioneers and the world’s first woman filmmaker.” – Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter
“The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché is essential viewing for those who want a complete perspective on the history of film.” – Lorry Kikta, Film Threat
“In her passionate debut film, Green achieves a feat of making a two-level research project informative and entertaining. Exciting and essential documentary for film history!” – Nora Lee Mandel, Maven’s Nest
In a media environment dominated by increasingly concentrated corporate interests, eight distribution companies who have long championed the best in independent features, documentaries, and social issue films, have joined forces to help launch a new subscription streaming service, OVID.tv. Starting today, OVID.tv offers more than 350 quality documentaries and art-house films from the collections of its founding content partners: Bullfrog Films, The dGenerate Films Collection, Distrib Films US, First Run Features, Grasshopper Film, Icarus Films, KimStim, and Women Make Movies. Most of the films on OVID.tv are not available on any other streaming platform, and OVID.tvwill be adding even more films every two weeks–14 fiction feature films and one 10-part documentary series are already scheduled for release. Despite the odds and with little capital, Icarus Films, Docuseek, and our partners have decided that the time has come to step forward and build a new, independent space, dedicated to the films that we believe in and care about, and that we believe you care about, and value as well. OVID.tv co-founder Jonathan Miller joins us to talk about an affordable option for film lovers looking for the highest quality cinema experience presented by people who share your passion.
“A cornucopia of international movies and documentaries… recent ones as well as classics. It’s far better for recent movies than FilmStruck ever was, and its spectrum of new movies is far more substantial than that of Netflix, wider-ranging than that of Amazon.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker, March 22, 2019
Never before released in the US, Franco Rosso’s incendiary BABYLON had its world premiere at Cannes in 1980 but was deemed “too controversial, and likely to incite racial tension” (Vivien Goldman, Time Out) by the New York Film Festival that same year. Raw and smoldering, it follows a young reggae DJ (Brinsley Forde, frontman of landmark British group Aswad) in Thatcher-era Brixton as he pursues his musical ambitions, while battling fiercely against the racism and xenophobia of employers, neighbors, police, and the National Front. Written by Martin Stellman (QUADROPHENIA) and shot by two-time Oscar® winner Chris Menges (THE KILLING FIELDS) with beautiful, smoky cinematography that’s been compared to TAXI DRIVER, BABYLON is fearless and unsentimental, yet tempered by the hazy bliss of the dancehall set to a blistering reggae, dub, and lovers rock soundtrack featuring Aswad, Johnny Clarke, and others, anchored by Dennis Bovell’s (The Slits) atmospheric score. BABYLON is the product of outsiders: director Rosso (1941-2016) immigrated from Italy as a child, Stellman is the son of Viennese Jewish immigrants, producer Gavrik Losey is the son of blacklisted Hollywood director Joseph Losey, and composer Bovell immigrated from Barbados, and was falsely imprisoned for running a sound system—the script was partly based on his experiences. Beyond the significance of being the only feature film about London’s sound system scene, BABYLON unflinchingly observes the place of marginalized people in a society resistant—to the point of violence—to multiculturalism. Writer Martin Stellman joins us to talk about the impact that Babylon had on the Caribbean diaspora living in London, the neo-realism style of the film and winding path that Babylon has taken over the last 40 years.
“A STORY WITH LITERALLY EPIC STAKES. It’s no surprise why the film may resonate now—its themes of finding community through art and trying to exist in a society that doesn’t want you are unfortunately both timeless and extremely current.” – Jaya Saxena, GQ
“REMARKABLE. Never lets go for a moment.” – Derek Malcolm, The Guardian
“FEARLESS. Loud and musical and cheerful and funny, and also tragic.” – David Robinson, The Times“EXPLODES IN THE GUT with a powerful mix of pain and pleasure. Like the reggae music that pulses through it, Babylon is RICH, ROUGH and REAL. And like the street life of the young black Londoners it portrays, it’s THREATENING, TOUCHING, VIOLENT and FUNNY.”– Simon Perry, Variety
“FIVE STARS. One of the greatest British films.” – MOJO