Syrian-born filmmaker Talal Derki (Return to Homs) travels to his homeland where he gains the trust of a radical Islamist family, sharing their daily life for over two years. His camera focuses primarily on the children, providing an extremely rare insight into what it means to grow up with a father whose only dream is to establish an Islamic caliphate. Osama (13) and his brother Ayman (12) both love and admire their father and obey his words, but while Osama seems content to follow the path of Jihad, Ayman wants to go back to school. Of Fathers and Sons was shot between Summer 2014 and September 2016. During that time, Talal Derki and Director of Photography, Kahtan Hasson, spent about 300 days with Abu Osama’s family.Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for World Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, Of Fathers and Sons is a work of unparalleled access that captures the chilling moment when childhood dies and jihadism is born. Director Talal Derki joins us to talk about his own personal journey through a devastated country and a troubled society, looking for answers to desperate questions about the future of his country and the future of his own family’s need to flee into exile.
Winner – World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, 2018 Sundance Film Festival
Winner – Filmmaker Award, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Of Fathers and Sons succeeds in transporting us behind “enemy” lines for a rare glimpse of a world that seems exotic and threatening” – Screen Daily
“A chilling look at extremism on its home front.” – The Film Stage
“Merely being present to bear witness to this side of the Syrian border would make “Of Fathers and Sons” well worth watching, but Derki is so scrupulous in what he reveals about how ingrained the beliefs of the Islamic jihadis are.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Feast
“What makes the film all the more poignant is the fact that the children are, of course, despite all this, like kids anywhere else.” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film
“An admirably audacious feat of documentarian access, Of Fathers and Sons is of obvious topical and anthropological interest as a glimpse into the gradual radicalization of young males and the deep community ties which underpin the process.” – Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter
Always one step ahead in signaling technology’s seismic shifts, Alex Winter has built up a body of work that documents how innovation changes the way people live their daily lives. DOWNLOADED explored the downloading revolution and how Napster and file-sharing took on the music industry, leaving musicians wondering about royalty payments and copyrights. DEEP WEB revealed a new kind of internet: decentralized, encrypted and dangerous; with particular focus on the FBI capture of the Tor hidden service Silk Road, and the judicial aftermath. In his newest documentary TRUST MACHINE: THE STORY OF BLOCKCHAIN, narrated by Rosario Dawson,Alex Winter drills down on blockchain, the decentralized technology that supports cryptocurrencies. Why are banks terrified while UNICEF Ventures embraces it to help refugee children? Winter follows tech innovators striking a raw nerve as banks and network pundits rush to condemn volatile cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. British hacktivist Lauri Love fights extradition—his computer skills perceived a threat to the US government. Through the film, Winter reveals that the proponents of the blockchain—a verified digital ledger—are already using the technology to change the world; fighting income inequality, the refugee crisis and world hunger. Director Alex Winter joins us for a conversation on a technology that has the potential to uplift and / or wreak havoc on human civilization and why we should care.
“You’re not going to come out of this understanding bitcoin and the other virtual currencies completely, but you will know a lot more coming out than you knew going in.” – Tony Medley, Tolucan Times
“A digestible intro to a potentially world-changing concept.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
“[Alex Winter’s] latest film, “Trust Machine: The Story of Blockchain,” is a heady, globe-spanning investigation.” – Gary Kramer, Salon
“Winter lies somewhere in-between with an agenda to shed light on real world applications in order to pique interest, demystify, and cut through the [talking head] bullshit.” – Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage
.TEAM KHAN is a fly-on-the-wall documentary about professional boxer Amir Khan, filmed between 2014 and 2016. Khan was born and raised in Bolton, Greater Manchester, to a Punjabi Rajput family. Hewas the WBA light-welterweight world champion from 2009 to 2012, and the IBF title in 2011. As an amateur, Khan won a silver medal in the lightweight division at the 2004 Olympics, becoming Britain’s youngest boxing Olympic medallist at the age of 17. He is also one of the youngest ever British professional world champions, winning the WBA title at the age of 22. Outside of boxing, he has worked as a philanthropist and mixed martial arts promoter. TEAM KHAN follows Khan as he chases a fight with the unbeaten superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr. Outside of the ring Amir must grapple with the significance of family, fame, and religion, as he grows from being boxing’s golden child into a man. Under the guidance of new trainer Virgil Hunter, Amir first puts on a stunning performance in beating former world champion Devon Alexander in Las Vegas. Buzz around a potential showdown with Mayweather grows, but he opts instead to fight Manny Pacquiao instead. Amir then goes on to defeat Chris Algieri in Brooklyn by unanimous decision. Mayweather again looks over Amir as his opponent, and then retires from boxing. TEAM KHAN follows Amir has he looks for a way to achieve the elusive goal of becoming a world champion. Co-directors Blair McDonald and Oliver Clark join us for a conversation on their first feature length documentary and this charismatic superstar, dedicated to his family and completely determined to reach the summit of his profession.
In Jeff Fry’s directorial debut KRIEG, an elite German SS mountain unit commits atrocities against their Partisan prisoners while attempting to locate a French Underground transmitter. Ashamed of his involvement, one of the unit’s officers, Konrad Winter, is compelled to leave camp and seek out the resister’s transmitter in order to prevent further crimes. During his search he discovers a downed American aircraft. In a redemptive twist of fate, Winter embarks on a mission to save the wounded American bombardier by delivering to the very enemy for whom they are searching. KRIEG is a richly textured film that follows the journey of a soldier whose remorse for inaction in the face of murder compels him to risk all to protect a wounded enemy airman. KRIEG is an anti-war film that challenges our conceptions of war and how the enemy behaves, blurring the boundaries between nations to teach us that wars are not fought on the battlefield, but in the hearts of men. KRIEG stars Heiko Obermoller (“A Cure For Wellness”), Scott Bailey (“Timeless”), Alexander Schottky (“Nikola”), Zoey Sidwell (“How To Get Away With Murder”), Alex DeVorak (”Night of the Dead: Leben Tod”), Rene Heger (“Circle”), Marko Janovic (“Then What Happened?”), Amanda Michaels (KRIEG), Sierra Willis (“Forerunner”), Chad Evans (KRIEG), Joshua M. Bott (“Loser’s Lounge”), John Gillen (“Surge of Power: The Revenge of the Sequel”), Matt O’Hare (“Wearing Hitler’s Pants”), Ken Collins (“Cape Fear”), and Alison Lees-Taylor (“Escape From Tomorrow”). With an unprecedented thirty-three awards and an additional thirty nominations, KRIEGcontinues its incredible film festival awards sweep. Director Jeff Fry joins us for an in-depth conversation on the blood, sweat and tears that went into his “American foreign film” as well as the personal satisfaction of working with a dedicated group of film professionals who made it all possible.
In Matthew Atkinson’s debut feature, Room for Rent, our “hero” Mitch Baldwin (Mark Little) is in a deep rut. He lives with his parents and has no intention of leaving. At 18, Mitch won the County Lottery, $3.5M dollars. 12 years later he’s broke, has no friends or love life, and is a laughing stock. With his dad retiring, talk of selling the house pushes tensions to a breaking point. Mitch convincingly suggests renting their spare room for extra cash. Tentative, his parents agree. Quickly, a charming, yet peculiar stranger shows up at their front door willing to pay cash – this is Carl Lemay Brett Gelman). Mitch sets rules for Carl, but the family’s routine is instantly upset. Mitch notices mysterious details about Carl; his car’s license plates are missing, his back story is vague, and he seems set on pushing Mitch out of his comfort zone. Yet Mitch is disarmed by Carl’s charm and confides in him about some of his regrets. To Mitch’s dismay, Carl begins to use the information to undermine Mitch and expose his faults. A battle of wits breaks out and turns into all-out war involving deception, humiliation, spying and revenge. The question is how far are these two prepared to go?Writer and director Matthew Atkinson joins us for a conversation on his entertaining, quirky and funny film with a crackling good ensemble cast (Mark McKinney, Carla Gallo, Stephanie Weir and Patrick J, Adams) of new and veteran performers.
Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) tells the provocative story of legendary director Orson Welles during the final 15 years of his life. No longer the “wonder boy” of Citizen Kane, Welles in 1970 was an artist in exile looking for his Hollywood comeback with a project called The Other Side of the Wind. For years, Welles worked on his project about an aging film director trying to finish his last great movie. Welles shot the picture guerrilla-style in chaotic circumstances with a devoted crew of young dreamers, all the while struggling with financiers and fate. In 1985, Welles died, leaving as his final testament the most famous unfinished film in movie history. The negative stayed in a vault for decades until now. With revelatory new insights from Welles collaborators including Peter Bogdanovich, Frank Marshall, Oja Kodar and daughter Beatrice Welles, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead is the untold final chapter of one of the greatest careers in film history: brilliant, innovative, defiant and unbowed. Director Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom, Won’t You Me My Neighbor, Cool School) joins us for a conversation about his hurly-burly look at the making of a ragged masterpiece by cinema’s greatest auteur.
“The impeccably assembled production employs Neville’s virtuoso touch to provocative effect.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“For cinephiles, it’s a high-calorie, clip-and-interview-laden feast of biography, insight, and gossip.” – Robert Abele, The Wrap
“Neville’s film may reveal little that hardcore Wellesians don’t already know. But it offers a lively evocation of the great man’s brilliance, waywardness and pained relationship to Hollywood history.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen International
“A fascinating account of an agonizing creative process.” – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter
“A cinephiles’ delight.” – Kimberly Myers, The Playlist
An inspired labor of love for zine-making (Exploding Cat) teens Sandi Tan, Jasmine Ng and Sophie Siddique, Shirkers was a Singapore-made 1992 cult classic—or it would have been, had the 16mm footage not been stolen by their enigmatic American collaborator Georges Cardona, who disappeared. More than two decades later, Tan, now a novelist in L.A., returns to the country of her youth and to the memories of a man who both enabled and thwarted her dreams. Magically, too, she returns to the film itself, revived in a way she never could have imagined. Shirkersmade its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018, where Sandi Tan received the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award, and went on to tour festivals all over the world, including True/False, HotDocs, CPHDOX, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Full Frame, San Francisco Intl. Film Festival, AFI Docs and more. Director Sandi Tan talks about her 25-year relationship with her friends, then and now, Exploding Cat and her thoughts on losing and then rediscovering a crucial part of her life.
“Wildly delightful… teeming with incident and personality… No amount of caustic self-criticism from Tan can dampen the thrill of witnessing the vibrancy and bounteous energy of everything captured within the frame.” – Eric Hynes, Film Comment
“Shirkers has the handmade delicacy of a scrapbook come to life… [Sandi Tan] has produced a remarkable statement on the formation of a creative identity across many years and life experiences.” – Eric Kohn, Indiewire
Under the guidance of acclaimed South African storyteller, Gcina Mhlophe, five orphaned children from Swaziland collaborate to craft a collective fairytale drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character, LIYANA is brought to life in innovative animated artwork as she embarks on a perilous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. The children’s real and imagined worlds begin to converge, and they must choose what kind of story they will tell – in fiction and in their own lives. This genre-defying film weaves an original animated hero’s journey with poetic documentary scenes to create an inspiring tale of perseverance. LIYANA is a tribute to creativity, the strength of the human spirit, and the healing power storytelling.Critically acclaimed, and executive produced by award-winning actress, Thandie Newton, LIYANA has won more than 25 jury and audience awards and screened at more than 80 film festivals around the world including the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival and MoMA’s Doc Fortnight. Co-directors Amanda and Aaron Kopp join us for a conversation on their enchanting, inspiring and wildly creative film.
Drawn from a cache of personal video recordings from the past 22 years, director Steve Loveridge’s Sundance award winning MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. is a startlingly personal profile of the critically acclaimed artist, chronicling her remarkable journey from refugee immigrant to pop star. She began as Matangi. Daughter of the founder of Sri Lanka’s armed Tamil resistance, she hid from the government in the face of a vicious and bloody civil war. When her family fled to the UK, she became Maya, a precocious and creative immigrant teenager in London. Finally, the world met her as M.I.A. when she emerged on the global stage, having created a mashup, cut-and-paste identity that pulled from every corner of her journey along the way; a sonic sketchbook that blended Tamil politics, art school punk, hip-hop beats and the unwavering, ultra-confident voice of a burgeoning multicultural youth. Never one to compromise on her vision, Maya kept her camera rolling throughout. MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. provides unparalleled, intimate access to the artist in her battles with the music industry and mainstream media as her success and fame explodes, becoming one of the most recognizable, outspoken and provocative voices in music today. Director Steve Loveridge joins us to talk about his long-time friendship with Mathangi Arulpragasam AKA Matangi / Maya / M.I.A. and how that friendship was tested during the making of this revelatory, illuminating window into her world.
“If there is one note that rings clear through all the xeroxed, glitchy, abrasive background noise, it is that of authenticity and sincerity.” – Jessica Kiang, Playlist
“Inspires deep respect for the fierce and independent artist she is.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“It is the synthesis of these contradictions, and how they’ve illuminated M.I.A.’s career path that makes up the spine of Loveridge’s fascinating portrait.” – Piotr Orlov, NPR
“Loveridge celebrates the mashup aesthetic that enabled the artist to find a voice, and reveals that reconciling contradictions… is key to both Arulpragasam’s music and the life she’s constructed with audacity and wit.” – Serena Donadoni, LA Weekly
For four decades, the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF) has maintained its position as a vital showcase of the global film community, attracting iconic red-carpet talent, emerging filmmakers, passionate audiences and astutely curated premieres. A destination event for film lovers, drawn by an exciting, diverse program of mainstream studio features and independent visions from around the world, set against the stunning backdrop of Northern California, MVFF also hosts an impressive array of panels, conversations, receptions, parties and live music performances, featuring many of the most acclaimed and in-demand artists and industry professionals of our time. With a reputation for launching new films and creating awards season buzz, MVFF has a knack for spotting emerging talent as well as drawing legendary artists. Known as the filmmaker’s festival, MVFF welcomes more than 200 filmmakers and guests from around the world and has hosted such luminaries as Nicole Kidman, Holly Hunter, Ang Lee, Todd Haynes, Mira Nair, Brie Larson, Costa-Gavras, Damien Chazelle, Marcel Ophuls, Amy Adams, Steve McQueen and Greta Gerwig. Mill Valley Film Festival Director of Programming Zoe Elton, joins us to talk about “the filmmaker’s festival,” and this year’s exciting line-up of documentary, foreign, animated, short and narrative films.
After marrying a successful Parisian writer known commonly as “Willy” (Dominic West), Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) is transplanted from her childhood home in rural France to the intellectual and artistic splendor of Paris. Soon after, Willy convinces Colette to ghostwrite for him. She pens a semi-autobiographical novel about a witty and brazen country girl named Claudine, sparking a bestseller and a cultural sensation. After its success, Colette and Willy become the talk of Paris and their adventures inspire additional Claudine novels. Colette’s fight over creative ownership and gender roles drives her to overcome societal constraints, revolutionizing literature, fashion and sexual expression. Director and screenwriter Wash Westmoreland stops by to talk about the story behind a remarkable trailblazing feminist, writer, performer and cultural icon whose influence has inspired artists for the last 100 years.
“Knightley is exceedingly well-equipped to carry this magnificent film on her own — an Oscar-nominated performance for sure.” – Jeanne Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan
“A witty, spirited portrait of the great French writer and libertine during the early Belle Époque years of her career.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“This timely and gorgeously shot account of a beloved French writer foregrounds Colette’s remarkable freedom from conventional norms as she finds her artistic voice.” – Erica Abeel, Film Journal International
“At first presenting itself as a tightly corseted Big Eyes set during the Belle Époque, Colette erupts into a fun, frothy, and unmistakably feminist biopic.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“The film has a towering performance from Keira Knightley, who plays Colette with such warmth and fiery feminism, that it would be hard not to make woman’s past run parallel with today’s world.” – Jordan Ruimy, The Playlist
In the days following his mother’s sudden death, Socrates (Christian Malheiros), a 15-year-old living on São Paulo’s margins, faces the difficulties of surviving on his own and coming to terms with his grief.SOCRATES was produced with a crew of 16-20 year-olds from the Querô Institute, a UNICEF-supported project that provides social inclusion through filmmaking to underprivileged youths in the Baixada Santista region of São Paulo, Brazil. SOCRATES was also written by Thayná Mantesso a 20 year-old Brazilian screenwriter and graduate of the Querô Institute. SOCRATES was filmed with a micro-budget of under $20,000.Alex Moratto’s award-winning short films NOWHERE TO BE FOUND, THE PARTING and THE OTHER SIDE have screened at international film festivals. SOCRATES is Alex Moratto’s debut feature film. The film was produced by Ramin Bahrani (99 HOMES) and stars Christian Malheiros and Tales Ordakji. Director Alex Moratto joins us for a conversation on working with a young non-professionals, UNICEF and producing his debut feature film.
Written and directed by internationally acclaimed filmmaker and Peabody Award winner, Leon Lee, LETTER FROM MASANJIA is an astonishing & riveting documentary follows the true story of an Oregon woman who finds a desperate SOS letter penned by a political prisoner in her Halloween decorations and the nail-biting chain of events that it sparks when she takes the letter public, exposing appalling flagrant human rights violations – that leads to sweeping labor reform in China. The impact of what those two unlikely heroes have accomplished is even more profound in today’s rapidly boiling over political climate, not just in China but around the rest of the world. LETTER FROM MASANJIA is a devastating tale of human rights violations in current day China with corporate giants across the globe receiving prisoner labor efforts for Halloween decorations, asking no questions in a price for pennies on the dollar. This is the tale of one political prisoners desperate plea to alert the world to horrors most of society sweeps under the carpet. Director and writer Leon Lee stops by to talk about the hundreds of thousands of people currently incarcerated in labor camps, and the millions more living in fear as well as the people resisting a totalitarian regime.
This Teacher follows a French Muslim woman (Cesar-winnerHafsia Herzi) as she travels to New York City to visit her childhood best friend from the rough neighborhoods outside of Paris. When the reunion proves disastrous, Hafsia steals her friend’s credit card and identity, and disappears to a remote cabin upstate. Deep in the woods and alone for the first time in her life, she experiences a divine revelation of an existence without borders. But when she discovers that she’s not alone on the property, Hafsia’ssojourn in nature gradually descends into a terrifying study of the intolerance and suspicion she encounters and reflects back to an Islamophobic America.Written and directed by Mark Jackson featuring a score composed from the Grammy nominated Dave Eggar, the film stars: Cesar-winner Hafsia Herzi (The Secret of the Grain) Sarah Kazemy (Circumstance) Lucy Walters (Power), Kevin Kane (Inside Amy Schumer), and Lev Gorn (The Americans). Jackson’s previous films have won 17 awards including an Independent Spirit Award and a Gotham Nomination. Jackson is also a Sundance, Cinereach and Skywalker Sound Fellow. Director and writer Mark Jackson (War Story, Without) joins us for a conversation on This Teachers’ premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival, intolerance and not being afraid to love.
This Teacher (LAFF World Premiere screening at September 22nd, 2018 at 4pm (with red carpet media check-in at 3pm) at ArcLight Culver City.
The Wrong Todd – Directed by Rob Schulbaum
Resistant to change, Todd (Jesse Rosen) finds himself at a crossroads when his girlfriend Lucy (Anna Rizzo) is offered a promotion on the other side of the country. Before he can decide whether to stay or go, Todd’s evil twin from a parallel universe arrives to take his place, and Todd must face the prospect of a world without Lucy.With the reluctant help of Lucy’s brother, Dave (Sean Carmichael), Lucy and Todd must confront the barriers to their relationship, their perception of self, and the laws of the universe itself to distinguish the wrong Todd from the right one. The Wrong Todd is a new take on a sci-fi-fi comedy drama with the added bonus of an evil twin from a parallel universe. The Wrong Todd is about championing love, accepting change, and realizing what you’ve taken for granted before it truly is too late.Inspired by the works of Charlie Kaufman (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Harold Ramis (Groundhog Day)The Wrong Toddanswer the question so many people think but never articulate “what is wrong with me?” Starring Jesse Rosen (The Art of Being Straight), Anna Rizzo (Lost in Bloom), Sean Carmichael (Trinity), Derek K. Moore (Ghostbusters), and Erin Rose. Director Rob Schulbaum (Family Guy), joins us to talk about his directorial debut.
We The Coyotes – Co-directors Hanna Ladoul and Marco La Via
Making the films USA debut (it world premiered in the Acid section of Cannes this spring), We The Coyotes by first-time feature filmmakers Hanna Ladoul and Marco La Via, was inspired by the adventure and challenges of their own early days in Los Angeles. Enveloped in the love bubble a young couple, played by Morgan Saylor (Homeland) and McCaul Lombardi (Sollers Point), arrive from their cross-country trip from the midwest to stay with her aunt Betsy Brandt (Breaking Bad), where we continually see them encounter the challenges of their first day in Los Angeles.The city is as much a character in this intimate drama as this young couple, as they find their hopes often crushed under the realities of what you encounter in any major city, much less the city of dreams.Not unlike countless twenty-somethings over the decades, our westward-bound couple in We The Coyotes arrive in Los Angeles with half-formed plans and half-empty pockets, but we see how tensions bend and shape them while the will to survive drives them on. Co-directors Hanna Ladoul and Marco La Via stop by to talk about their unvarnished, thought provoking film.
City of Joy follows the first class of students at a remarkable leadership center in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a region often referred to as “the worst place in the world to be a woman.” These women have been through unspeakable violence spurred on by a 20 year war driven by colonialism and greed. In the film, they band together with the three founders of this center: Dr. Denis Mukwege (2016 Nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize), radical playwright and activist Eve Ensler (“The Vagina Monolgoues”) and human rights activist, Christine Schuler-Deschryver, to find a way to create meaning in their lives even when all that was meaningful to them has long been stripped away. In this ultimately uplifting film, we witness the tremendous resilience as these women transform their devastation into powerful forms of leadership for their beloved country. Director, writer and editor Madeleine Gavin stops by to talk about this beautifully told story of unspeakable cruelty, remarkable resilience and unconditional love in a desperately poor country in a region of the world renown for violence.
“City Of Joy is, in as far as it goes, a powerful film, reminding viewers that survival itself is something to be proud of and consigning the notion that a raped woman is ruined forever to the dustbin of history.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
ACTIVE MEASURES chronicles the most successful espionage operation in Russian history, the American presidential election of 2016. Filmmaker Jack Bryan exposes a 30-year history of covert political warfare devised by Vladmir Putin to disrupt, and ultimately control world events. In the process, the filmmakers follow a trail of money, real estate, mob connections, and on the record confessions to expose an insidious plot that leads directly back to The White House. With democracy hanging in the balance, ACTIVE MEASURES is essential viewing. Unraveling the true depth and scope of “the Russia story” as we have come to know it, this film a jarring reminder that some conspiracies hide in plain sight. Director / Producer / Writer stops by to talk about his comprehensive, searing indictment of a vast, corrupting totalitarian political system determined to destroy any vestige of self-governance and democratic institutions.
In 2010, Taiji, a sleepy fishing town in Japan, suddenly found itself in the worldwide media spotlight. THE COVE, a documentary denouncing the town’s longstanding whale and dolphin hunting traditions, won an Academy Award and almost overnight, Taiji became the go-to destination and battleground for activists from around the world. Can a proud 400-year-old whaling tradition survive a tsunami of modern animal-rights activism and colliding forces of globalism vs. localism? A WHALE OF A TALE reveals the complex story behind the ongoing debate. Told through a wide range of characters including local fishermen, international activists and an American journalist (and long time Japanese resident), this powerful documentary unearths a deep divide in eastern and western thought about nature and wildlife and cultural sensitivity in the face of global activism. In 2008, Filmmaker Megumi Sasaki directed and produced her first feature-length documentary HERB & DOROTHY, about legendary New York art collectors Herb and Dorothy Vogel. The film went on to win top honors at many international film festivals and was released theatrically nationwide and as a part of PBS’s Independent Lens series. In 2013, Megumi completed the highly anticipated follow-up HERB & DOROTHY 50X50, focusing on the next (and final) chapter in the lives of the beloved couple. Director Megumi Sasaki joins us for a frank and wide-open conversation on the why she felt that telling this story was important and critical to understanding another side of a complex issue that has implication far beyond the shores of Tajii.
Based on the arresting true story of the Executioner of Emsland, The Captain follows a German army deserter, Willi Herold (Max Hubacher), after he finds an abandoned Nazi captain’s uniform in the final weeks of World War II. Emboldened by the authority the uniform grants him, he amasses a band of stragglers who cede to his command despite the suspicions of some. Citing direct orders from the Fuhrer himself, he soon takes command of a camp holding German soldiers accused of desertion and begins to dispense harsh justice. Increasingly intoxicated by the unquestioned authority, this enigmatic imposter soon discovers that many people will blindly follow the leader, whomever that happens to be. Simultaneously a historical docudrama and sociological examination with undertones of the absurd, The Captain presents fascism as something of a game to be played by those most gullible and unscrupulous. Director Robert Schwentke stops by for a conversation on the troubling implications of this tale of myopic madness sanctioned by a psychotic regime on the verge of collapse.
“It compels our attention with a remorseless, gripping single-mindedness, presenting Naziism as a communicable disease that smothers conscience, paralyzes resistance and extinguishes all shreds of humanity.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times
“Schwentke intends for these actions to parallel what Wehrmacht participated in against Jews and Roma …This astute film is an excoriating portrait of Nazism or fascism.” – Nora Lee Mandel, Film-Forward
“A brave and uncompromising indictment of human nature, Teutonic or otherwise.” – Peter Debruge, Variety
“We are left to contemplate this vision of Fascism as a machine that, once turned on, can sustain itself even in the absence of explicit direction from above.” – David Edelstein, New York Magazine / Vulture
In contemporary rural Iceland, a wayward 9-year old girl, Sól, is sent to distant countryside relatives for a summer to work and to mature. Nature seems endless there, the animals soulful but the people harsh. All except the mysterious farmhand Jón, who – as Sól herself – likes words better than people. But the farmers’ daughter Ásta has a claim on Jón as well, and soon Sól becomes entangled in a drama she hardly can grasp. This summer marks Sól’s rite of passage into the murky waters of adulthood, and the wild nature in us all. Director and screenwriterAsa Hjorleifsdottir stops by for a conversation on directing a first-time actor in the lead role, returning to her own childhood community and Icelandic traditions.
“A gently moving, lyrical and unflinching coming-of-age drama with a terrific performance by newcomer Gríma Valsdóttir.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
“Anchored by a remarkable child’s performance, The Swan is a sensitive example of an overlooked element in coming-of-age films: awakening to the outside world.” – Serena Donadoni, Village Voice
“It’s that forceful central performance that really makes The Swan special, together with Martin Neumeyer’s atmospheric but never overbearing cinematography, which brings out the light as well as the darkness in the hills.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“A coming-of-age drama that’s as beautiful and brutal as the remote, rural landscape of northern Iceland where it takes place.” – Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com
NICO, 1988 features a tour de force performance from Trine Dyrholm’s as the aging Nico (aka Christa Päffgen), interpreting rather than impersonating the famed singer-songwriter as she approaches 50. Leading a solitary existence in Manchester Nico’s life and career are on the ropes, a far cry from her glamorous days as a Warhol superstar and celebrated vocalist for The Velvet Underground. Nico’s new manager Richard (John Gordon Sinclair) convinces her to hit the road again and tour Europe to promote her latest album. Struggling with her demons and the consequences of a muddled life, she longs to rebuild a relationship with the son Ari (Sandor Funtek) she lost custody of long ago. A brave and uncompromising musician, Nico’s is the story of an artist, a mother, and the woman behind the icon. Director Susanna Nicchiarelli joins us to talk about Trine Dyrholm’s raw performance and her own unvarnished look into the post-iconic world of NICO and into the tortuous journey that Christa Päffgen took, as an artist and mother, towards the person she knew she wanted to be.
“Writer/director Susanna Nicchiarelli and star Trine Dyrholm craft a late-career biopic that acts not only as a portrait of a complex figure, but recognises the considerable toll of daring not to conform.” – Sarah Ward, Screen International
“Nicchiarelli dives deeply into the life of a tragic but remarkable woman, memorably portrayed by Danish actress and singer Trine Dyrholm as an unpleasant, hurtful junkie plagued with memories and regrets.” – Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
“Nico, 1988 shows us how extraordinary the biopic can be when it is freed from unnecessary restrictions to embrace the idiosyncrasies of its subject.” – Lee Jutton, Film Inquiry
“Remarkably personal, with a bold, gritty edge that echoes the intensity of both Nico’s singing and Trine Dyrholm’s thunderous performance.” – Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
Super close Mother Lyn and daughter Iona (Dafty One and Dafty Two) are excited for their new life in a new town. Determined to make a success of things after a tricky start, Iona becomes ‘best friends’ with Keely, Stacey and Chelsea. Used to being Iona’s bestie herself, Lyn feels left out. So Lyn also makes friends with Belinda, her neighbor. As much as Lyn and Iona pretend to each other that things are going great, things aren’t going great for either of them. Iona struggles with the girls, who act more like frenemies than friends, and Belinda won’t give Lyn her stepladders back. Both Mother andDaughter retreat into fantasy and lies. Anchored by two remarkable performances by the film’s leads, Joanna Scanlon (Lyn) and Lily Newmark (Iona) writer / director Deborah Haywood feature film debut confidently delivers a lacerating take on bullying, cruelty and mental illness.
“Pin Cushion is most emotionally piercing in depicting the daily ways in which the world still punishes this loving, mild-as-milk woman for her difference.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“Writer-director Deborah Haywood makes her feature directorial debut with the surreal and whimsical mother-daughter nightmare Pin Cushion, driven by a singular vision and masterful control of a unique tone, which tiptoes the line of beauty and terror.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“The film is like a cross between a crocheted bunny and a nail bomb.” – Wendy Ide, Observer
“Pin Cushion is a whimsical and achingly sad story.” – Emily Sears, Birth.Movies.Death
Born and raised in East London’s working-class Stratford neighborhood, nothing in the background of Lee Alexander McQueen hinted at his future. The youngest of six children, Leemight have been expected to become a plumber, a bricklayer or perhaps a cab driver like hisfather. Instead, McQueen’s fierce romanticism and punk poetry helped create 1990s-era “CoolBritannia,” a celebration of youth culture in the U.K. For perhaps the first time since theSwinging Sixties, a lad from the East End of London could — anddid — become one of the mostoriginal and influential artists of his time. Filmmakers Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui capture the life and work of a unique creative talent in all his glorious anarchy in their new film, McQueen. They offer a thrilling portrait of McQueen’s life and complex persona, following him as he conquers the world of fashion with designs as ravishing as they are sinister. From his apprenticeship at an old-school Savile Row tailor and haberdasher, where he displayed a preternatural knack for pattern cutting and tailoring, to his death at only 40, the film breaks the rules of documentary storytelling with its mosaic of standalone fragments shot in differentstyles, which accumulate and combine to create a groundbreaking, multi-faceted portrait. Through exclusive interviews with his closest friends and family, recovered archives, exquisite visuals and music, McQUEEN is an authentic celebration and thrilling portrait of an inspired yet tortured fashion visionary. Co-director and writer Peter Ettedgui (co-director Ian Bonhote) talks about the making of a personal and intimate look into theextraordinary life career and artistry of one of the most influential fashion designers of our time.
“The intricacy of the pieces and stagings… makes McQueen the relatively rare documentary that demands to be seen on the big screen.” – InkooKang, Slate
“In the crowded field of fashion docs, this one stands tall.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
“This intelligent, honest documentary explores McQueen’s complex personality without getting tacky or tabloidy, or ignoring his dark side.” – Cath Clarke, Time Out
“There’s so much fresh air in this stunningly good biography that it feels like you’ve never encountered a rags-to-riches, tortured-artist story before. Not just for fashion lovers.” – MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Filosopher
Netflix newest series Dark Tourist is the latest project of New Zealand journalist / filmmaker David Farrier, (Tickled), the doc that uncovered an unbelievable tickle fetish empire. In the new NETFLIX series, Farrier travels around the world trying to find the most dangerous and scariest experiences available to tourists. In the show we see a wounded Farrier going into an eerie hospital, being at the center of a war zone, a man breaking a statue on his own head, a killer named Popeye holding the gun at someone, and a woman telling Farrier to stay back because she doesn’t want him to be “possessed.” In one Los Angeles based episode Farrier is warned that he’ll be hurt, drowned, and buried. And yet nothing seems to deter this intrepid thrill seeker. Dark Tourist Director and creator David Farrier joins us to talk about the where, why and WTF of his newest adventure.
One of the most important artists of our era, Ryuichi Sakamoto has had a prolific career spanning over four decades. From techno-pop stardom to Oscar-winning film composer, the evolution of his music has coincided with his life journeys. Following Fukushima, Sakamoto became an iconic figure in Japan’s social movement against nuclear power. As Sakamoto returns to music following a cancer diagnosis, his haunting awareness of life crises leads to a resounding new masterpiece. RYUICHI SAKAMOTO: CODA is an intimate portrait of both the artist and the man. Director and writer Stephen Nomura Schible joins us for a conversation on his own journey into the internal and external world of Ryuichi’s inspiring spiritual and musical journey.
“This is a documentary that rejects every behind-the-scenes cliché around, and stands as an immensely moving and inspiring piece of cinema in its own right.” – Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph (UK)
“By the end of this documentary, you will feel as if you not only understand Mr. Sakamoto intellectually, but also share a sense of the excitement he feels when discovering just the right match of sounds.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
“Sakamoto is fascinating to watch. He’s a charming, lively presence, and it’s always a pleasure to watch his expressions of delight and surprise at the new sounds he’s discovering, his own or nature’s.” – Jonathan Romney, Film Comment Magazine
“Like Sakamoto himself, the documentary stretches boundaries, shifting forward and back through time, weaving archival clips and news footage with scenes of Sakamoto composing, rehearsing, experimenting and traveling.” – Daniel Eagan, Film Journal International
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is one of Shakespeare’s most beloved creations. The frolicking tale of lovesick young aristocrats, energetic but inept rustics, and mischievous woodland spirits is a staple of stage and screen. In the past, filmed adaptations have emphasized the play’s traditional, Elizabethan qualities. This production however is a fresh and stylish reinvention that takes an entirely different approach.The story takes place in present day Hollywood – a place where glamorous stars, commanding moguls, starving artists and vaulting pretenders all vie to get ahead. Hollywood is sometimes called “The Dream Factory,” and like the world of Shakespeare’s Dream, it’s a place where fantasy and reality collide.In the tradition of Baz Luhrmann’s rapturous reimagining of Romeo + Juliet, this modern vision breathes new life into a classic tale. Combined with a cast of established and emerging stars, as well as a pulsing original soundtrack, the film will appeal to ardent fans of the Shakespeare as well as audiences discovering Shakespeare for the first time. Director and screenwriter Casey Wilder Mott talk with us about the challenges and rewards of re-imagining one of the Bard’s most endearing plays.
“If you’re hoping to see a production just like the one that would have been done in 1596, this ain’t it. But Mott’s version is a hell of a good time in its own right.” – Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
“Mott’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” may not have a high bar to reach to be better than average as filmed Shakespearean comedies go. But by any standard, it’s a modest, resourceful and unexpected delight.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
“Darned if Casey Wilder Mott’s feature directorial debut doesn’t prove to be a disarmingly effective, visually vibrant frolic.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth and indulge in a film I feel certain Shakespeare himself would enjoy.” – Bradley Gibson, Film Threat
“A vibrant dose of California dreamin’.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter