To be a moﬃe is to be weak, effeminate, illegal. The year is 1981 and South Africa’s white minority government is embroiled in a conﬂict on the southern Angolan border. Like all white boys over the age of 16, Nicholas Van der Swart (Kai Luke Brummer) must complete two years of compulsory military service. South African director Oliver Hermanus, fourth feature MOFFIE explores the life of a closeted young boy serving his mandatory military service during Apartheid in 1980s South Africa. MOFFIEis an adaptation of André-Carl van der Merwe’s iconic memoir, the film serves as a brilliant period piece exposing the psychological violence of institutionalized homophobia. Achingly raw depictions of the brutality of military training recall scenes from Kubrick’s FULL METAL JACKET while the beautifully acted love story provides a sharp contrast to the pervasive violence. Director and screenwriter Oliver Hermanus joins us for a conversation on how important it was to accurately capture to nexus of religion and the racist Apartheid regime and how the repressive culture it created made any relationship outside of it a treasonous act and how rewarding it was for him to be working with a gifted group of talented actors.
IFC Films will release MOFFIE on Friday, April 9, 2021 in select theaters and on digital and VOD platforms.
About the filmmaker – Oliver HERMANUS (1983, South Africa) started his career as a press photographer. He studied at the University of Cape Town and received a scholarship for the University of California. In 2006 he was offered a private scholarship by film director Roland Emmerich to complete his MA at the London Film School. His earlier films Shirley Adams (2009) and Beauty (2011) were both screened in Rotterdam. In 2015, The Endless River became the first South African film to be nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. His newest feature, Moffie (2019), premiered in the Horizons section of Venice Film Festival and won the Mermaid Award for best LGBTQI-themed film at the 60th edition of Thessaloniki International Film Festival.
“A masterpiece…establishing [Hermanus] quite plainly as South Africa’s most vital contemporary filmmaker” – Variety, Guy Lodge
“Hermanus digs deep into the South African psyche and teases out the contradictions within white society itself, especially the fracture between South Africans of English origin and Afrikaners.” – Kevin Maher, Times (UK)
“An extraordinary young ensemble cast…Kai Luke Brummer makes a magnetic centre” – Screen International, Jonathan Romney
Jesse Noah Klein’s powerful second feature, LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE, follows Dara (Sarah Sutherland) as she returns home to reconnect with her husband Danny (Jared Abrahamson) and her young daughter, whom she left two years earlier. When she arrives, she discovers that Therese, (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) who is seven months pregnant has taken her place. Compounding Dara’s anxiety, Isabel, (Margaux Vaillancourt) her daughter no longer recognizes her. LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE tells the story of a woman’s struggle to regain the life she left behind. Director and writer Jesse Noah Klein joins us to talk about how he used his film to take nuanced look at motherhood, trauma, mental health, marriage, identity and what it means to be a family. Under his direction a superb cast, led by Jared Abrahamson (Finding a Family) and a breakout performance by Sarah Sutherland (VEEP, Chronic) LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE is a compelling tale of struggle and hope.
About the filmmaker – Jesse Noah Klein is a filmmaker from Montréal. He studied film at The University of Texas at Austin and went on to teach in the United States before returning to his native Canada to teach and make films. His first feature We’re Still Together had its world premiere in competition at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, and went on to play at over 20 festivals worldwide. The film won two ACTRA awards as well as Prix Iris nominations at the Québec Cinéma Gala for outstanding male performance for its two leading actors. It is distributed by AZ Films in Canada and by Strand Releasing in the US and abroad.
About Sarah Sutherland – Upon graduating from New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, Sutherland was cast alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus as her daughter in HBO’s critically acclaimed and award-winning comedy series “Veep”. The political satire follows the life of former Senator Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and all that entails being the Vice President of the United States. Sutherland and the cast have been nominated 3 times in the category of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Up next Sutherland has a leading role in the indie film “Like a House on Fire” and will co-star with Adam Brody in “Kid Detective.” Other credits include the features “Chronic” opposite Tim Roth, “What They Had” with Michael Shannon and Hilary Swank, and television appearances in HBO’s “The Newsroom” and “Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories” on Adult Swim.
Director Benjamin Ree’s latest documentary, THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF,tracks the journey of young Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova after relocating from Berlin to Oslo to launch her career as a painter. In April of 2015, her two most valuable, large-format paintings are stolen – with care – in broad daylight from the window fronts of Galleri Nobel in Oslo’s city center. Desperate for answers about the theft of her paintings, Barbora is presented with an unusual opportunity to reach out to one of the men involved in the heist – Norwegian career criminal, Karl-‘Bertil’ Nordland. Ree begins to document the story after Barbora unbelievably invites her thief to sit for a portrait, capturing the unlikely relationship that ensues as the equally damaged duo find common ground and form an inseparable bond through their mutual affinity for art. Over three years, THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF follows the incredible story of the artist looking for her stolen paintings, while at the same time turning the thief into art. Director Benjamin Ree (Magnus) joins us for a lively conversation about gaining the confidence of these two very complex people and why it was important for him to craft a story where Barbara and Karl resilience and humanity shone through.
2020 Sundance Film Festival: Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Creative Storytelling
Director’s statement – “From the moment I began filming I wanted to explore the complex friendship between the painter and the thief. Two questions were the driving motor: What do we humans do to be seen and appreciated, and why do we help others? For me, filmmaking is about asking intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging questions through observing human behavior. I hope I have managed to raise some intriguing questions with this film, questions you will think about long after the end credits. I have also tried to push the cinema verite form onto a new path, with several perspectives jumping back and forth in time, revealing new layers of the friendship throughout the whole film. I have worked hard to find a cinematic form to suit the content for each scene, that reflects the inner state of the characters.” – Benjamin Ree
About the filmmaker – Benjamin Ree is a Norwegian documentary filmmaker. In the beginning of his career he worked for BBC and Reuters. Today he makes award winning short and feature documentary films. Ree’s first feature documentary is Magnus, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and was sold to 64 countries. The film is a coming of age story of a modern genius, Magnus Carlsen, who is the world’s best chess player. The film won many awards at festivals around the world. Ree’s second feature is The Painter and the Thief, premiered at World Documentary Competition at Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and won a Special Jury Award for Creative Storytelling. Benjamin Ree works for the production company and broadcaster VGTV, which co-produced Magnus and The Painter and the Thief. For more on the filmmaker go to benjaminree.com
“Benjamin Ree’s extraordinary documentary feels like a movie – there’s a heist, villains who are not what they seem, scenes of striking intimacy and some fabulous twists.” – Ed Potton, Observer (UK)
“It ends up being about friendship, addiction, and the power of art — but also the cost of art. Throughout it all, the spine of this movie is the rich, layered, and complicated friendship between these two people.” Angie Han, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)
“[T]here are moments so intimate and unguarded that you may briefly dissociate and question what you’re watching – a documentary, or its carefully scripted and acted narrative counterpart.” – Justin Chang,
“So compelling is “The Painter and the Thief” – and ultimately so powerfully moving in its faith in human resilience – that you may not notice the illuminating ways in which Ree plays with form and viewpoint.” – Ty Burr, Boston Globe
“A story of deeply human connection between two souls that actually see each other, and the healing power wrapped up in that sense of visibility.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
In this Oscar® nominated Best Documentary (Short ) we follow one of the last surviving members of the French Resistance, ninety-year-old Colette Marin-Catherine. As a young girl, she belonged to a family of Resistance fighters that included her 17-year-old brother Jean-Pierre. The last time Colette saw Jean-Pierre was in 1943, when he was arrested by the Gestapo and “disappeared” into the Nazi concentration camp system, never to be seen by his family again. The family was inwardly shattered, but outwardly stoic. No tears. Never permitted. For the past 74-years, Colette has never allowed herself to put one foot in Germany. But that’s all about to change when a young history student named Lucie enters her life. Lucie is researching the camp in Germany where Jean-Pierre died. Tracing the story of Jean-Pierre is, in fact, her special assignment.The film follows Colette as she travels with Lucie to what remains of the forced labor camp near Nordhausen, Germany. It’s a journey of discovery on many levels, but the film’s greatest revelation is Colette herself, who at 90, is finally ready to let go of what she has, for over seven decades, held so tightly inside. Lucie’s youth and genuine concern has pierced the armor. The ultimate discovery of the film is Colette’s to make. That some wounds can only be healed if we allow them to be re-opened. Director Anthony Giacchino and Producer Alice Doyard join us to talk about the incredible strength of Colette Marin-Catherine and why her clear-eyed admonishment that we never forget the monstrous brutality of Nazi Germany as well as the importance of vigilance and resistance.
Director’s Statement – “When I first met Colette in the fall of 2019, one of the first things she told me was: ‘When it’s your turn to live through a war, you’ll see you don’t have time to feel anything.’ It was quite an introduction. While making the film, I learned that only one percent of the French population had actively resisted the Nazi occupation before the Normandy Invasion and Colette — as a young girl — was one of those resisters. She had so much to tell us about the war. I was particularly interested in her immediate family, as they all played their part in the Resistance. In fact, Colette’s 17-year-old brother, Jean-Pierre, was captured by the Gestapo and died a gruesome death in a German forced labor camp. Seven full decades beyond the events of Colette’s youth, the war’s aftermath remains as a dramatic, living thing to filmically explore. And the terrific reality is that war, at its core, is a universally human experience that stays inside all who go through it. And as Colette’s story demonstrates, healing is possible if we find the courage to face our darkest and most haunting memories.” – Anthony Giacchino
“The bond between these two different, very strong, intelligent women renders this film staggeringly powerful whilst remaining simplicity itself. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.” – Emma Thompson
ÊXTASE explores the intersection of Clara’s personal and political life. She lives with her parents in the outskirts of São Paulo that is slowly being taken over by organized crime. As her mother becomes a congresswoman in Brasilia, her family moves to the Federal District. There as Clara feels her mother’s life is increasingly imperiled, she descends into a downward spiral of self-destruction in which suffering has a life force. In Clara’s life, the personal and political are intertwined. She lives with her parents in the outskirts of São Paulo that is slowly being taken over by organized crime. As her mother becomes a congresswoman in Brasilia, her family moves to the Federal District. There as Clara feels her mother’s life is increasingly imperiled, she descends into a downward spiral of self-destruction in which suffering has a life force.ÊXTASE is an immersive exploration of the agony and paradoxical pleasure of anorexia set against the backdrop of the chaotic political landscape of Brasil in the 1990s. Both a deeply personal journey as well as a collective story of young women and their attempts to control the brutal world around them,director Moara Passoni, co-writer and associate producer on the Oscar® nominated documentary THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY, puts fiction, delirium and reality in a conflicting symbiotic relation. Director Moara Passoni joins us for an illuminating conversation on her own personal journey and how that informed the telling of this multi-layered tale that beautifully blends narrative and documentary techniques in telling it.
About the filmmaker – Moara Passoni co-wrote and associate produced the Academy Awards Nominee and Platino and Peabody Winner documentary THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY (Netflix Originals, Sundance Film Festival) for which she was nominated for best narrative for both Critic Choices Awards Documentary Awards and International Documentary Association. ÊXTASE is her first non-fiction feature film that premiered in the main competition of CPH:DOX 2020, receiving fabulous critiques. Alumni from the L’atelier de Production de La Fémis/Cannes, Moara graduated in Sociology, Anthropology and Political Sciences (USP-SP); studied Dance and Performance (PUC-SP) and Aesthetics (Paris 8). After finishing a Master in Documentary Theory (UNICAMP-SP) she joined an MFA program on screenwriting/ directing at Columbia University where she is a current candidate. Filmmaker Magazine named her one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” of 2020.
GROOMED is the devastatingly powerful story of filmmaker Gwen van de Pas as she returns to her hometown in search of answers about the man who sexually abused her as a child. To understand her ongoing traumas, Gwen travels to meet survivors, psychologists, and even a convicted sex offender.Produced by Gwen van de Pas, Bill Guttentag, and Dylan Nelson, GROOMED addresses a common yet little understood manipulation type called ‘grooming’, how to recognize it, and how to stop it. What begins as an exploration into grooming becomes a dramatic journey where Gwen faces unexpected revelations in her case, finally finds her anger, and boldly confronts the evil we’d rather ignore. Filmmaker and subject of Groomed, Gwen van de Pas joins us for a conversation on the setbacks and the triumphs she has experienced during the many years she has lived with the trauma of sexual abuse and why it was so important for her to make this film.
About the filmmaker – Gwen van de Pas is a Dutch filmmaker who lived in San Francisco for 12 years. She studied Film in Holland, holds an MBA from Stanford, and worked for Consulting firm Bain & Company for 12 years. Passionate about stories that matter, she’s ready to tell the story of “GROOMED.”
“Van de Pas calls on experts, psychologists and a convicted sex offender for interviews, but the most illuminating examples come from her own story.” – Natalia Winkelman, New York Times
“Director Gwen van de Pass, who lives in San Francisco as an adult, turns the tables on that scenario by being able take control of the narrative of own sexual abuse story. – Susan Wloszczyna, AWFJ Women on Film
“Van de Pas structures her film efficiently, creating, despite the dark topics, a highly watchable mix of facts and figures and trauma and healing.” – Anita Katz, San Francisco Examiner
JUMBO is the coming-of-age story of Jeanne, a shy young woman, lives at home with her uninhibited bartender mother and works the graveyard shift as a cleaner at an amusement park. Her mother wants her to meet a man, but Jeanne prefers tinkering in her bedroom with wires, light bulbs, and spare parts, creating miniature versions of theme park rides. During her late-night shifts she begins spending intimate time with the alluring new Tilt-A-Whirl ride that she decides to call JUMBO. Finding herself seduced by “his” red lights, smooth chrome, and oily hydraulics, Jeanne concludes that the thrilling new relationship she wants to pursue is with JUMBO. Director and writer Zoé Wittock (A demi-mot, Le Silence de l’Aube) joins us for a conversation on the challenging logistics of filming at amusement park, crafting a nuanced look at sexuality and social norms and the personal journey of the filmmaker in selecting the amazing Noemie Merlant for the role of Jeanne.
About the filmmaker – Zoe Wittock is an award winning writer and director. Originally hailing from Belgium, Zoé grew up living around the world and trained at the prestigious directing program of the American Film Institute (AFI), in Los Angeles, where she graduated the youngest and top of her class, while being awarded the “Hal and Robyn Berson” scholarship for excellence in directing. In France, she directed her last short film “A demi-mot”, broadcasted on OCS and Netflix, before making her feature film debut with “Jumbo” which went on to many selections around the world, including Sundance and the Berlinale, where she was awarded a prize in the Generation section. She was also a nominee for the Discovery Prize at the European Film Awards and was named in Hollywood Reporter’s list of the 20 female filmmakers to watch in 2020. As an active member of the SRF (French association of Film Authors), Zoe campaigns for greater equality in films, while advocating for the protection of author’s right in the ever-changing industry. For more go to: zoewittock.com
Director’s Statement – When I was still living in the United States, I stumbled upon an article describing the incredible story of Erika Labrie, an Olympic gold winner in archery, who got married to the Eiffel tower in 2004 and became Erika Eiffel. She was said to suffer from the “Objectum sexual” condition. It struck me as the most improbable story, but it encouraged me to think further: How did she become like that? What draws her to objects? How does she experience her love? When did she know? So I contacted her… Only to realize she was one of the most grounded people I had ever met. The contrast was fascinating. Satisfying ourselves within the confines of what we know can be very limiting. Being Belgian, I grew up with the influences of famous surrealist artists such as Magritte or Nougé who excelled at twisting reality and objects through extreme visuals, thus allowing for the unconscious to express itself. They gave new meanings to daily commodities, while revolutionizing our perception of traditional art and everyday preconceptions of life. The concept of falling in love with a landmark object may of course be hard to grasp at first, but this unconventionality is the mere reason that I chose to seek interest in this extraordinary coming of age story. Whilst providing a seductive and poetic adventure based on strong colorful visuals, I wanted to question what one defines as normal versus monstrous, at a time where I was personally questioning my own identity and place in this world. However if I were to undertake such a romance, I knew that had to use all the power that fiction had to offer. I ought to find the perfect object, one that would allow for the richest communication through sound, movement, lights or any other means available to the cinematographic language. Being particularly sensitive to my environment, I felt that an amusement park and its surroundings would be pivotal in setting the fantastical tone needed to believe and be moved by our character’s journey. Lyrically transporting you from one scene to the next, using humor in very dramatic moments, this film seeks to make a statement about tolerance and the freedom of one’s own choices. It is a modern take on love and its infinite possibilities. – Zoe Wittock
“Merlant’s writhing, fainting spells and intense gaze do well to communicate the intensity of desire and, although the film can sometimes be a dizzying attraction to climb on, Jumbo is certainly worth the ride.” – Adesola Thomas, Paste Magazine
“So will Jumbo take Jeanne’s heart for a ride? And should we object to her sexuality if she’s not hurting anyone? These questions, and more, abound in the out-there, but not-like-anything-else-out-there, “Jumbo.” – Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times
“First time writer-director Zoé Wittock takes an absurd idea and imbues it with such heart, soul, and beauty that you’ll automatically look past the inherent ridiculousness. Instead, you’ll simply absorb its glowing sense of wonder.” – Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle
“Jumbo, a unique and beautiful addition to the coming-of-age genre, gives us a tender exploration of a young woman’s journey of a first romance and discovering her sexuality along the way.” – Alysha Prasad, One Room With A View
Aengus James’ Award-winning documentary AFTER THE MURDER OF ALBERT LIMA tells the story of a son obsessed with capturing his father’s killer. Paul Lima has spent over a decade seeking justice for his slain father, Albert. Though convicted, Albert’s murderer has remained free in Honduras. After years of the legal system failing him, Paul takes the unorthodox step of hiring two bounty hunters to travel with him to Honduras to track down and capture his father’s killer. This riveting, and, at times, darkly comedic documentary explores both the importance of family and the dangers of taking the law into your own hands. Director Aengus James (I Am Jazz, Scandalous) joins us to talk about the tragedy that has been visited upon the Lima family, the heart-stopping actions that Paul and James’ crew took in the bring this story to life and the collapse of any semblance of civil society in Honduras.
Director’s Statement – A man hires two bounty hunters to help him kidnap his father’s killer in Honduras… what could possibly go wrong? From the beginning, this was a bad idea. At the time we filmed this documentary, a report on NPR named Honduras the murder capital of the world; it had a case closure rate of just 2.5%. When I first met Paul (Lima), he was at a breaking point. The desperation he felt was echoed by victims’ families in Honduras we spoke to. What is justice in a broken and horribly corrupt system? Is vengeance just? Paul’s obsession for justice and his moral struggle with vengeance compelled me to follow him on this deeply flawed adventure. – Aengus James
About the filmmaker – Aengus James is an award-winning filmmaker and television producer. His recent works include SCANDALOUS (Magnolia, CNN, BBC), Undercover Billionaire (Discovery), and the GLAAD Media Award-winning I Am Jazz (TLC). Aengus began his career serving as Barry Levinson’s cinematographer in POLIWOOD. AFTER THE MURDER OF ALBERT LIMA follows Aengus’ directorial debut and IDA award nominated documentary comedy AMERICAN HARMONY. He has created and directed content for global brands and non-profits, and his work has received numerous honors including special recognition from the White House and the United Nations for raising awareness on issues including veterans’ mental health and women’s healthcare around the world. Aengus is the co-founder and head of This is Just a Test.
“More than once I had to hit pause to investigate if what I was seeing actually happened, but it ended up winning me over with its absurd and equally emotional and healing story.” – Jorge Rivera Rubio, QiiBO
“After the Murder of Albert Lima is a truly singular experience, stuck somewhere between laughter and tears.” – Rob Aldam, Backseat Mafia
Director Maya Zinshtein and Producer Abraham (Abie) Troen’s well-balanced, insightful documentary ’TIL KINGDOM COME focuses on the millions of American Evangelicals who are praying for the State of Israel. Among them are the Binghams, a dynasty of Kentucky pastors, and their Evangelical congregants in an impoverished coal mining town. They donate sacrificially to Israel’s foremost philanthropic organization, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, because they fervently believe the Jews are crucial to Jesus’s return. ’TIL KINGDOM COME traces this unusual relationship, from rural Kentucky to the halls of government in Washington, through the moving of the American Embassy in Jerusalem and to the annexation plan of the West-Bank.With unparalleled access, the film exposes a stunning backstory of the Trump and Netanyahu administrations, where financial, political and messianic motivations intersect with the apocalyptic worldview that is insistently reshaping American foreign policy toward Israel and the Middle-East. Director Maya Zinshtein and Producer Abie Troen join us for a lively conversation on how their clear-eyed film takes us right into the heart of some of the world’s most powerful political forces and how this confluence of interests are apparently hellbent to realize a worldview where the world ends in fiery judgement for non-believers and true believers.
About the filmmaker – Maya Zinshtein – Director, producer Maya Zinshtein is an Emmy award-winning Israeli documentary filmmaker and journalist with a BA in Cinema and French studies and an MA in Security and Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University. Her last documentary “Forever Pure” won an Emmy award for Outstanding Politics and Government documentary in 2018 (Independent Lens/PBS). An alumna of Sundance Institute, for the last ten years she has directed and produced documentaries broadcast on Israeli TV and abroad including by Netflix, BBC, ARTE/ZDF, and PBS, and screened at over 100 festivals around the world.
About the filmmaker – Abraham (Abie) Troen – Producer, Cinematography Abraham “Abie” Troen is an award-winning documentary filmmaker & D.O.P. He has led doc projects in Israel, Kenya, India, Mexico and the US, his work screened at TIFF, SXSW, Doc NYC, IDFA and online for National Geographic, Vanity Fair, CNE and Out Magazine. Abie studied at the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem and Brandeis University before receiving an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. There he was awarded the Annenberg Fellowship for specializing in documentary filmmaking. He currently resides in LA and films on both sides of the Atlantic.
“A toxic mix of fundamentalist religion and real world politics is examined soberly but startlingly by Israeli documentarist Maya Zinstein in ‘Til Kingdom Come.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen International
STRAY explores what it means to live as a being without status or security, following three strays as they embark on inconspicuous journeys through Turkish society. Zeytin, fiercely independent, embarks on adventures through the city at night; Nazar, nurturing and protective, easily befriends the humans around her; while Kartal, a shy puppy living on the outskirts of a construction site, finds companions in the security guards who care for her. The strays’ disparate lives intersect when they each form intimate bonds with a group of young Syrians with whom they share the streets. Director Elizabeth Lo joins us to talk about her remarkable debut documentary film, meeting Zeytin and Nazar and how she navigated the streets and the people of Istanbul to present an illuminating observation of human civilization through the unfamiliar gaze of dogs and a sensory voyage into new ways of seeing.
Director’s Statement – The impetus for STRAY is personal. When my childhood dog died, I felt a quiet need to suppress my grief at his passing. I was shocked that something as personal as how my heart responds to the death of a loved one could be shaped by an external politics that defined him or “it” as “valueless.” As my grief evolved, I also saw how our moral conceptions of who or how much one matters can be in constant flux. This transformative moment is what propels STRAY’s exploration into value, hierarchy, and sentience. In 2017, I traveled to Turkey, a country whose history and relationship with strays is unique in the world. Turkish authorities have tried to annihilate stray dogs since 1909, leading to mass killings of Istanbul’s street dogs for the last century. But widespread protests against these killings transformed Turkey into one of the only countries where it is now illegal to euthanize or hold captive any stray dog. Every free-roaming dog today is an emblem of resistance — living manifestations of compassion in the face of intolerance. I first met Zeytin, our canine protagonist, as she hurried past me in a busy underground tunnel in Istanbul. Intrigued by her sense of purposefulness, I chased after her. She was joined by Nazar, another street dog. As it turned out, they were on the heels of a group of young men from Syria — Jamil, Halil and Ali — who were living on the streets as refugees in Turkey. Zeytin quickly emerged as the focus of our production because she was one of the rare dogs we followed who did not inadvertently end up following us back. To the very last day of shooting, she remained radically independent. In Zeytin I saw a character who could fully envelop us within her own non-human will — a quality that was vital to a story about dogs who, unlike pets, are not only defined by their relationship to humans. My journey through Turkey traversed a socio-cultural terrain in which for a moment, one nation became refuge for many others. When xenophobia, species destruction and nationalist sentiment are rising all around the world, STRAY springs from these cracks in our anthropocentric modernity. It asks us to re-evaluate what it means that our streets are continuously emptied of everyone except those whom we’ve deemed to be its legitimate citizens. Through STRAY, I hope to continually push the boundaries of the cinematic medium in order to explore and challenge unequal states of personhood — to expand viewers’ circles of moral and perceptual consideration beyond their own class, culture, and species. – Elizabeth Lo
About the filmmaker – Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor Elizabth Lois an award-winning filmmaker. Her work has been broadcast and showcased internationally, including at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs, True/False, BAM Cinema fest, New York Times Op-Docs, and PBS POV. Elizabeth was named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine in 2015 and was featured in the 2015 Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase at Cannes Lion. She was selected for the New York Film Festival Artist Academy in 2018 and the Locarno Film Festival Filmmakers Academy in 2019. Elizabeth’s work has played at over 100 film festivals and has won numerous awards. Her short films include Hotel 22 (2015), Bisonhead (2016), Mother’s Day (2017), The Disclosure President (2016), Notes from Buena Vista (2016), Treasure Island (2014), and Last Stop in Santa Rosa (2013). In 2017, her collected shorts were released by Video Project as a DVD, The Short Films of Elizabeth Lo, for distribution to educational institutions and libraries around the world. Elizabeth was born and raised in Hong Kong and holds a B.F.A. from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and an M.F.A. from Stanford University. STRAY is her feature film debut.
“The ultimate love letter to dogs and a multifaceted moral inquiry into humanity… [A] virtuosic feature documentary debut.” – Tomris Laffly, Variety
“Dog lovers will drool over this profound canine love letter from Turkey. Gorgeous, absorbing…The dogs run most of the show, and they serve as remarkable centerpieces in a complex visual tapestry.”- Eric Kohn, IndieWire
“A howling success. Artful, intimate… ‘Stray’ shines a piercing light on what it means to be an outcast in a teeming metropolis.”- Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
Ripped from the pages of Guatemala’s recent wrenching history,LA LLORONA follows the story of a fictional and indignant retired general, Enrique, as he is being forced to face his murderous past at his own trial for the genocidal massacre of thousands of Mayans decades ago. As a horde of angry protestors threatens to invade their opulent home, the women of the house – his haute wife, conflicted daughter, and precocious granddaughter – weigh their responsibility to shield the erratic, senile Enrique against the devastating truths behind being publicly revealed and the increasing sense that a wrathful supernatural force is targeting them for his crimes. Meanwhile, much of the family’s domestic staff flees, leaving only loyal housekeeper Valeriana until a mysterious young indigenous maid arrives.A tale of horror and magical realism, the film reimagines the iconic Latin American fable as an urgent metaphor of Guatemala’s recent history and tears open the country’s unhealed political wounds to grieve a seldom discussed crime against humanity. LA LLORONA marks Jayro Bustamante’s third feature and demonstrates his continued efforts to highlight social inequality in his native Guatemala with deft sensitivity and visual richness. The Silver Bear-winning director, writer, producer and editor, Jayro Bustamante (Temblores, Ixcanul) joins us to talk about his tale of horror and fantasy, ripe with suspense, and an urgent metaphor of Guatemalan recent history and its unhealed political wounds,
2021 National Board of ReviewWINNER – Best Foreign Language Film
2021 Satellite AwardsWINNER – Best Film, International
2021 Critics Choice AwardsNominee – Best Foreign Language Film
97% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Bustamante’s La Llorona is a bold assertion of the embedded prejudice against indigenous populations in his home country of Guatemala while also asserting that women and children in particular bore the brunt of the violence.” – Natalia Keogan, Paste Magazine
“Smart and elegant. The real horror lies not in the supernatural but in the savage acts of men.” – Carolina Miranda, Los Angeles Times
“Bustamante’s reimagining of the famous folkloric figure is a reminder that in the right hands, horror can be turned into something with almost indescribably enormous ideological potency.” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ Women on Film
“Bustamante’s latest travels into the dark recesses of the human condition to shine a brightly shimmering spotlight on vile evils that should never be locked away and forgotten.” Sara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com
“La Llorona is a beautifully conceived and constructed piece which cleverly utilises ghost story tropes, imagery and sound effects to enhance the impact of its real-life inspired revelations.” – Emma Simmonds, The List
Filmed over the summer festival season, UNDERPLAYED presents a portrait of the current status of the gender, ethnic, and sexual equality issues through the lens of the female pioneers, next-generation artists, and industry leaders who are championing the change, and inspiring a more diverse pool of role models for future generations. The impetus for the UNDERPLAYED came to light during the 2018 Bud Light House Party Tour, when Bud Light Canada sat down with artists from diverse backgrounds and genres to learn about the evolution of their careers, and their unique experiences in recording, touring, and performing. Key conversations with female DJs exposed a striking gender inequality in the space, and further research substantiated their experiences. Electronic music was born from the ideals of diversity, community, and inclusivity; yet in 2019 only 7% of Billboard’s Top 100 DJs were women. They make up less than 3% of production and technical roles in the music industry. For women of color, it’s less than 0.3%.An official selection of both the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, UNDERPLAYED features NERVO, Rezz, TOKiMONSTA, Alison Wonderland, and Tygapaw.Director Stacey Lee stops by to talk about just how grotesquely under represented women are in a music genre that has made truckloads of music from a female fan base that is ready and willing to support a rise wave of women taking their place behind soundboards and laptops all around the world.
World Premiere – 2020 Toronto International Film Festival
Official Selection – 2020 Tribeca Film Festival
Director’s Statement – “When the pioneering godmothers of electronic music first began tinkering away in their scientific labs back in the 50s and 60s, they could never have imagined their little back room experiments would make way for a blossoming 8 billion dollar global industry today. Nor could they have foreseen how drastically its very creative, egalitarian roots would transmute from an open experimental playing field, to an industry dominated by a one-dimensional male point of view. This is a universal theme, and sadly one that I can personally relate to as a “female” filmmaker in a heavily male field. I empathize and understand the frustration of having to fight harder to be considered for jobs “because there aren’t as many good female directors,” to turn a deaf ear to the belief that women “can’t be technical”, that we don’t deserve equal pay, or in my instance, hiding my pregnancy beneath an oversized blazer so I wouldn’t jeopardize my chances of securing jobs. When I learned about the shared plight of the women in electronic music, I saw a necessity to tell a story that speaks to the deeply personal and very human impact of this global issue. That transcends the music space, and speaks to the collective experience of so many working women today from film to politics and beyond.” Ultimately Underplayed raises the question; do we want our ears to be controlled by logarithms, safe bets and preconceived formulas…or become a space that is radically free to sound as rich, diverse and ever- changing as the world around us? The hope is for Underplayed to stimulate the conversation needed to break down the systematic bias’ and bring electronic music back to its open, diverse and fiercely experimental roots. To remind us that equality isn’t about one side defeating the other, but by all sides coming together for the greater good. Because the more we can lift each other up, the more we all have to gain.” – Stacey Lee
About the filmmaker – Director Stacey Lee was born in New Zealand, Stacey Lee’s work focuses on humanity, music, and movement. Her documentary short Live Fast Draw Yung premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2015, winning awards in Atlanta and Tacoma. She was recently shortlisted for the Cannes Young Directors Award and selected as part of the DGA/AICP Diversity Showcase. Underplayed is her feature debut.
Deep in the forests of Piedmont, Italy, a handful of men, seventy or eighty years young, hunt for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle—which to date has resisted all of modern science’s efforts at cultivation. They’re guided by a secret culture and training passed down through generations, as well as by the noses of their cherished and expertly-trained dogs. Co-directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw (The Last Race) seamlessly navigates viewers through an enigmatic world where the denizens live a simpler, slower way of life, in harmony with their loyal animals and their picture-perfect land, seemingly straight out of a fairy tale. They’re untethered to cell phone screens or the Internet, opting instead to make their food and drink by hand and prioritizing in-person connections and community. The demand for white truffles increases year after year, even as the supply decreases. As a result of climate change, deforestation, and the lack of young people taking up the mantle, the truffle hunters’ secrets are more coveted than ever. However, as it soon becomes clear, these aging men may just hold something much more valuable than even this prized delicacy: the secret to a rich and meaningful life. Co-directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw (The Last Race) join us to talk about their immersion into a very closed, arcane multi-tiered society that dates back hundreds of years and the impact that modernity and climate disruption is having on this enchanting corner of the world.
About the filmmakers – Michael Dweck is an award-winning American filmmaker and contemporary visual artist. Best recognized for his evocative narrative photography, Dweck artistically investigates the on-going struggles between identity and adaptation found within endangered societal enclaves. Dweck’s works have been featured in solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries worldwide, and are part of prestigious international art collections, including the archive of the Department of Film at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, where two of his long-form television pieces reside.In his first feature-length film, “The Last Race” (Sundance US Documentary Competition 2018), Dweck extended his exploratory repertoire by combining observational documentary, stylized imagery, and a symphonic merging of motion and sound. Experimenting with both form and subject matter, Dweck highlights the mysterious beauty and exuberant passion shared by the last custodians of a disappearing tradition. Aside from creating an artistic appraisal of class and American identity, Dweck’s film allegorizes the broader, global epidemic wherein handmade objects and ritualistic traditions face extinction at the hands of mass conglomerate takeover. For more go to: michaeldweck.co
About the filmmaker – Gregory Kershaw has worked on narrative and documentary film productions as a producer, cinematographer, and director. Most recently, he was a senior producer at Fusion television where he made environmental documentaries. His work explored the impact of climate change on indigenous populations throughout Latin America in a series of United Nations Foundation funded videos, as well as long form documentaries on the global species extinction crisis featuring environmental luminaries such as Jane Goodall and Sylvia Earle. Gregory is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA film program.
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“A scrumptious cinematic journey. Try not to fall hard for the joy it spreads.”– Tomris Laffly, VARIETY
“Gorgeous. Unique. Delightful. Visual Poetry. A fascinating glimpse inside a world of arcane knowledge and the luxury market that feeds off it. A constant feast for the eyes and a nourishment for the soul, giving the illusion of a journey back in time to a pre-technology age of simpler pleasures.”– David Rooney, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“An eccentric world that you have never heard of, never seen…”– Kenneth Turan, LOS ANGELES TIMES
“It’s a sweet and simple movie with a healthy dose of bittersweet wistfulness for a fading world, and it’s beautiful.” – Alissa Wilkinson,Vox
As the latest film from filmmakers Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna lays bares the dioxin-based defoliant, insecticide, Agent Orange catastrophe did not end with the Vietnam War. Today, the world over, a primary chemical of the toxic defoliant controls weeds in farming, forestry, parks, even on children’s playgrounds. Agent Orange wreaks havoc on the human genome, causing deformed births and deadly cancers. After decades of struggle and tragic personal losses, two heroic women are leading a worldwide movement to end the plague and hold the manufacturers accountable. In France, Tran To Nga is suing the American chemical industry for poisoning her in Vietnam. In America, Carol Van Strum exposes the continuing use of toxic herbicides in the Pacific Northwest. Incriminating documents disappear. Activists are threatened. A helicopter technician secretly films the contamination of reservoirs, while a massive industrial cover-up goes on. The People vs. Agent Orange co-directors Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna join us for a conversation on the journey of two women, joned together in their mutual pain, resist intimidation and threats, bringing to light the ongoing, intergenerational catastrophe of chemical warfare and toxic herbicides in the hope of bringing the manufacturers and business related perpetrators to justice.
Jury Award at Eugene Environmental Film Festival 2020
About the filmmakers: Kate Taverna and Alan Adelson produced and co-directed In Bed with Ulysses as well as Lodz Ghetto, both of these widely acclaimed films had nationwide theatrical releases. Lodz Ghetto was short-listed for the Best Feature Documentary Oscar. Adelson and Taverna also collaborated on Two Villages in Kosovo, In Bed with Ulysses and Agent Orange: La derniere bataille, an adaptation of The People vs. Agent Orange made for Arte in French and German. Alan Adelson works in both film and print: as a page-one investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal and national magazines he made worldwide headlines exposing the disappearance of enough enriched plutonium to make two Hiroshima-sized bombs. Early in his journalistic career he published investigative articles on the chemical industry. Kate Taverna has edited more than 50 films over her career: Asylum and Killing in the Name were the Academy Award nominees in the Best Short documentary category in 2004 and 2011 respectively. The feature length Pray the Devil Back to Hell won the Best Documentary award at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry won the Audience award at the 2014 Boston Independent Film Festival, released theatrically nationwide and was translated into 22 languages andshown globally on Netflix.Her broadcast editing work has been seen on CBS, IFC, A&E, BBC and PBS, among others.
Shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Documentary Film – Short Form, THE SPEED CUBERS drops us into the frenetic world of Speed Cubing. Cubing is the competitive sport of solving a Rubik’s Cube in mere seconds that has grown into a worldwide phenomenon in recent years. For nearly a decade in the sport, Feliks Zemdegs from Australia, has reigned unchallenged as the king of cubers, the greatest of all time. That is, until now. The cubing world was stunned when an unknown challenger named Max Park from California took home the Gold medal in 2017 and emerged onto the global stage. Since then, Max’s rise to the top has been swift and steady, save for one obstacle in his way: Feliks. The two have been trading wins and world records steadily, neither one able to truly dominate while the other still competes. But rather than developing into a bitter rivalry, Feliks and Max have instead grown their competitive relationship into a tender yet complicated friendship.THE SPEED CUBERS finds Max and Feliks on the threshold of another World Championship, both driven to win but both rooting for each other’s success. Director Sue Kim stops by to talk about her high-energy, and warm-hearted look into the feverishly competitive but refreshingly idyllic world of Speed Cubers.
Long ago, four extraordinary beings of dual male and female spirit brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii and imbued their powers in four giant boulders. The stones still stand on Waikiki Beach, but the true story behind them has been hidden – until now. Shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Animated Film – Short Form, KAPAEMAHU brings this powerful legend back to life in vivid animation, seen through the eyes of a curious child.Co-directors, and co-producers Joe Wilson, (Out in the Silence) Dean Hamer (The Science of Desire, The God Gene) and Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu (Leitis in Waiting, Lady Eva) joins us for a conversation on the ways in which indigenous cultures of the Pacific Islands have embraced third-gender (mahu) identities and celebrate the ability and spirit of male and female strengths, as well as the decision to tell the story of Kapaemahu in an animated story format.
Director’s Statement – I am Kanaka — a native person descended from the original inhabitants of the islands of Hawaii. Our survival as indigenous people depends on our ability to know and practice our cultural traditions, to speak and understand our language, and to feel an authentic connection to our own history. That is why I wanted to make a film about Kapaemahu, and to write and narrate it in Olelo Niihau – the only form of Hawaiian that has been continuously spoken since prior to the arrival of foreigners. It is not enough to study our language in an American classroom, nor to read about our history in an English language textbook. We need to be active participants in telling our own stories in our own way. I am also mahu, which like many indigenous third-gender identities was once respected but is now more often a target for hatred and discrimination. I want our young people to understand that the ability to embrace both the male and female aspects of their spirit is not a weakness but a strength, a reason to rejoice not to fear. Whether it is protecting Mauna Kea or Kapaemahu, I shall always believe in what historian S. M. Kamakau articulated in 1865 : He makemake ko’u e pololei ka moolelo o ko’u one hanau, aole na ka malihimi e ao ia’u I ka moolelo o ko’u lahui, na’u e ao aku I ka moolelo I ka malihini. (“I want the history of my homeland to be correct. The foreigner shall not teach me the history of my people, I will teach the foreigner.”) ~ Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu
About the filmmaker – Director, Producer Dean Hamer is a New York Times Book of the Year author, Emmy and GLAAD Media award-winning filmmaker, and National Institutes of Health scientist emeritus with a long history in communicating complex and controversial ideas to diverse publics. He formed Kanaka Pakipika with partner Joe Wilson and documentary film protagonist Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu to collaborate on an insightful series of films that have opened the eyes of the worlds to the lessons to be learned from Polynesia’s unique approach to diversity and inclusion. He is currently working on a book and museum exhibition based on Kapaemahu. Hamer is the author of several best-selling nonfiction books including “The Science of Desire” and “The God Gene,” has been a consultant for the BBC and Discovery channels, and his research has been featured in Time, Newsweek, and Science magazines and on Frontline and Oprah.
About the filmmaker – Director, ProducerJoe Wilson is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker dedicated to telling stories that emanate from the voices of those on the outside. His feature and short films combine live action with animation to explore pressing social issues through innovative storytelling. Wilson’s work has screened and won awards at festivals around the world including Berlin, Toronto and Tribeca, been viewed by millions of viewers on PBS, ARTE and other international broadcasts, and has been supported by Sundance, Ford and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Wilson’s 2010 film Out in the Silence focused on the challenges of LGBT people in rural and small town America and became the centerpiece of a multi-year national campaign to open dialogue and build bridges across socio-political divides. Shortly after, he and partner Dean Hamer began their now decade-long collaboration with Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, first documenting her story in the PBS Independent Lens Audience Award-winner Kumu Hina, then with Hina joining as producer on a series of films about gender diversity in the Pacific, including Leitis in Waiting, Lady Eva, and The Rogers. Kapaemahu is Wilson’s fifth film in collaboration with Hina. Prior to filmmaking, he served as Director of Human Rights at the Public Welfare Foundation and Producer of Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now.
About the filmmaker – Director, Producer, Narrator Hinaleimoana Wong-Kaluis a Native Hawaiian teacher, cultural practitioner and filmmaker who uses digital media to protect and perpetuate indigenous languages and traditions. She began her film work as a protagonist and educational advisor for the award winning films Kumu Hina and A Place in the Middle, and received a National Education Association Human Rights Award, Native Hawaiian Educator of the year and White House Champion of Change Award for the groundbreaking impact campaigns associated with those films. Continuing her journey to the other side of the lens, Kumu Hina produced the PBS/ARTE feature documentary Leitis in Waiting and award-winning short Lady Eva about her transgender sisters in the Kingdom of Tonga. Hina is also a transgender health advocate, burial council chair, candidate for the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and composer of “Ku Haaheo E Kuu Hawaii,” the internationally-known anthem for the protection of Mauna Kea which was honored as Hawaiian Song of the Year in the 2020 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, known as the Hawaiian Grammys.
LITTLE FISH, the fourth feature film from director Chad Hartigan, is a romance set in a near-future Seattle teetering on the brink of calamity. The film imagines a world where a pandemic has broken out, that strikes with no rhyme or reason, and causes its victims to lose their memories. This is the world that newlyweds Emma and Jude find themselves in, not long after meeting and falling in love. When Jude contracts the disease, the young couple will do anything to hold onto the memory of their love. Starring Olivia Cooke (Sound of Metal, Thoroughbreds) as Emma, Jack O’Connell (’71, Starred Up) as Jude, Soko and Raul Castillo, LITTLE FISH, opens in the midst of a global epidemic: Neuroinflammatory Affliction, a severe and rapid Alzheimer’s-like condition in which people’s memories disappear. Couple Jude Williams and Emma Ryerson are grappling with the realities of NIA, interspersed with glimpses from the past as the two meet and their relationship blooms. But as NIA’s grip on society tightens, blurring the lines between the past and the present, it becomes more and more difficult to know what’s true and what’s false. Director Chad Hartigan (Morris From America, This is Martin Bonner) joins us for a conversation on the making of hissubversively sly sci-fi / love story and how the on-screen artistry of the two lead actors helped shape this prescient tale of love in an age of isolation and mistrust.
About the filmmaker – Writer/director Chad Hartigan is best known for his award-winning feature films THIS IS MARTIN BONNER and MORRIS FROM AMERICA. Hartigan won the John Cassavetes Award at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards, as well as the “Best of NEXT” Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, for THIS IS MARTIN BONNER. Hartigan won the Waldo Scott Screenwriter Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival for his film MORRIS FROM AMERICA. LITTLE FISH marks the third collaboration between childhood friends Hartigan, composer Keegan Dewitt (HEARTS BEAT LOUD) and cinematographer Sean McElwee (THE INCREDIBLE JESSICA JAMES). Based on Aja Gabel’s short story, the film is written by up and coming screenwriter Mattson Tomlin who co-wrote the latest Batman film, THE BATMAN, and wrote the Netflix hit PROJECT POWER.
“In the midst of a flurry of pandemic-themed media coming out which tries to reflect the [present] situation, LITTLE FISH manages to distinguish itself from the crowd with its brilliant leads and emotional resonance.” – Oluwatayo Adewole, The Spool
“The result is better than smart, it’s stirring. With the NIA pandemic as a pretext, the essential subject becomes memory — its fragility, its wondrousness, its centrality to our existence as sentient beings.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
“Hartigan’s moody evocation of Emma and Jack’s love – and the way in which it, like so much else, is predicated on knowledge of the past – casts a moving spell.” – Nick Schager, Variety
“Chad Hartigan’s Little Fish drips with equal doses of beauty and poignancy – an affecting dive into love and memory, and how it defines who we are.” – Natasha Alvar, Cultured Vultures
Filmed from inside two of the most active therapeutic feeding centers in Yemen, HUNGER WARD documents two female health care workers fighting to thwart the spread of starvation against the backdrop of a forgotten war. HUNGER WARD provides an unflinching portrait of Dr. Aida Al Sadeeq and Nurse Mekkia Mahdi as they try to save the lives of hunger-stricken children within a population on the brink of famine. HUNGER WARD is the third installment of Director Skye Fitzgerald’s Humanitarian Trilogy, focused on the global refugee crisis. The first film, 50 FEET FROM SYRIA focused on doctors working on the Syrian border and was Oscar® shortlisted. The second, LIFEBOAT documents search and rescue operations off the coast of Libya and was nominated for an Academy Award® and national Emmy®. Director Skye Fitzgerald (Lifeboat, 50 Feet from Syria, Finding Face) joins us for a conversation on the making of his 2021 Oscar® Shortlisted Hunger Ward documentary, how little American mass media has talked about the ongoing genocidal war against a defenseless civilian population – done with diplomatic,political backing by the Trump Administration, as well as, intelligence and logistical support from the US military – and what we can do to stop it.
2021 Oscar® shortlist – Best Documentary (Short form)
About the filmmaker – Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Documentary Branch). Oscar/Emmy/IDA-Nominated Director Skye Fitzgerald is directing The Humanitarian Trilogy: HUNGER WARD (2020) documents the impact of the war and famine in Yemen on children, families, and health care workers. LIFEBOAT (2018) highlights search and rescue operations off the coast of Libya and was nominated for an Academy Award® and national Emmy® award. 50 FEET FROM SYRIA (2015) focuses on doctors working on the Syrian border and was voted onto the Oscar® shortlist. Fitzgerald was also inducted as an honorary member into SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society) for his work with Syrian refugees and named a Distinguished Alumnus at his alma mater EOU for documentary work. As a Fulbright Research Scholar Fitzgerald directed the film Bombhunters and has since worked with the Sundance Institute, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the State Department, the Paul Robeson Fund and Mountainfilm. As a Director of Photography, Fitzgerald lenses work for major clients including Dateline, VICE, Mercy Corps, CNN, the Discovery, Travel, History and Animal Planet Channels. For more on Skye Fitzgerald go to: spinfilm.org
“…a rare look inside the human impact of the war in Yemen” – Jane Ferguson – PBS NewsHour
“Once you see it, you won’t forget it.” – Sarah Larson – THE NEW YORKER
“Fitzgerald has sought to harness this art-form to draw attention those who are struggling to obtain their most basic, fundamental human freedoms. LIFEBOAT…is vitally important.” – US HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
“…deftly addresses the most critical humanitarian issue of our time and those who are doing something about it.” – Michael Brody – Programmer Crested Butte FF
Filmed across an entire year, DO NOT SPLIT takes us within the heart of the 2019 Hong Kong protests, capturing the determination and sacrifices of the city’s youth as their movement becomes symbolic for a generation’s rebellion against the political systems of two governments. Armed with umbrellas, gas masks, social media, and sheer determination, the protestors risk their lives, safety, and futures against the police’s tear gas, armed vehicles, and violence. Anders Hammer’s powerful film paints a nuanced and sobering picture of the challenges faced by the protestors, joining student leaders and protestors on the ground to give an expansive and first-hand portrait of the unrest that prompted a government’s backlash, the passage of the new Beijing-backed national security law, and captured the attention of the world. Director Anders Hammer joins us to talk about the history of Hong Kong’s relationship to the British empire and the handover to the People’s Republic of China, the 20-year deterioration of civil and political rights as well as the determined bravery of the student led protestors determined to resist the tightening grip of an increasingly oppressive regime.
About the filmmaker – Anders Hammer has filmed and directed the documentary Do Not Split which takes us within the heart of the Hong Kong protests that started in the summer of 2019. The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and received the Special Jury Prize at AFI DOCS and Special Jury Recognition for Courage under Fire at DOC NYC. Hammer directed the documentary series Our Allies for Field of Vision. He also directed and produced Escape from Syria: Rania’s Odyssey, which was published by The Guardian and won a Webby Award and a One World Media Award for Best Refugee Reporting in 2018. The documentary went viral and gained more than 10 million views and 100,000 shares in social media. Hammer is one of the directors of the documentary Exit Afghanistan published by Netflix. He has directed seven documentaries for the Norwegian investigative journalism program NRK Brennpunkt and many short documentaries. Hammer lived and worked in Afghanistan for six years and has written four documentary books about the country, one of them together with the Danish author Carsten Jensen. In Norway, where Hammer was born in 1977, he has received the Fritt Ord Award (which is given in support of freedom of expression), the International Reporter’s Journalism Award and the Big Journalist Award.
A character-driven, cinematic tale of deportation, migration, displacement and opportunistic capitalism, CALL CENTER BLUES follows four characters as they struggle to make sense of their lives in Tijuana. Each with a vastly different story, they are all linked by their displacement and the sole choice of call center work they have in a country that is so unfamiliar and oftentimes frightening, yet other times a ray of hope. Tijuana becomes their home, a place defined by the border but yet defiant towards it, a no man’s land where everything and everyone feels transient. These characters paint a picture of love, loss and longing – for home, for an American Dream deferred, and for justice. Director Geeta Gandbhir joins us conversation on an aspect of immigration and deportation that is as relevant and heartbreaking as any immigration issue and the importance that an Oscar nomination brings to the issue and the film.
Shortlisted for 2021 Oscar nomination for Best Documentary (Short Form)
SHORTS SHORTLIST – IDA Documentary Awards 2020
OFFICIAL SELECTION – DOC NYC Short List: Shorts 2020
OFFICIAL SELECTION – SXSW Film Festival 2020
WINNER – Best Documentary Short – Virginia Film Festival 2020
WINNER – Best Documentary Short – Fayetteville Film Festival 2020
About the filmmaker – Geeta Gandbhir is an award-winning director, producer and editor. As director, she won Best Documentary at the News and Doc Emmys for I AM EVIDENCE, an HBO Documentary Film, and Best Government and Politics Documentary for ARMED WITH FAITH, a PBS Documentary film. As editor, she won a Primetime Emmy for Best Editing for Spike Lee’s HBO documentary series WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE and also for the HBO film BY THE PEOPLE, THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA. A documentary film she co-produced, THE SENTENCE, for HBO, also won a Special Jury Primetime Emmy.Other feature docs she co-directed include PRISON DOGS, A JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES: PEACEKEEPERS, and REMEMBERING THE ARTIST: ROBERT DENIRO SR.She created and is co-directing and co-producing a series on race with The New York Times Op-Docs titled “The Conversation” which won the AFI Documentary Film Festival and a MacArthur Grant. She has been the recipient of a Ford Foundation grant, a MacArthur Grant, among others, and in 2017, she was the recipient of Chicken and Eggs prestigious Breakthrough Filmmaker Award.
Based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel, DAYS OF THE BAGNOLD SUMMER is a funny yet sweet coming-of-age story about single motherhood and Metallica.Daniel (Earl Cave) was supposed to spend the summer with his dad and his dad’s new wife in Florida, but when his dad cancels the trip Daniel and his mom, Sue, (Monica Dolan) suddenly face the prospect of six long weeks together. An epic war of wills ensues in their suburban home as Daniel just wants to listen to heavy metal and start a band while his mom hopes to rekindle the fun times they used to have together. Featuring original songs by Belle and Sebastian. Director Simon Bird joins us for a conversation on his beautifully rendered tale of a sullen, insecure teen and his effervescent single mom doing her best to keep moving forward in a world that is pelting her with cheap shots and exasperating insults.
About the filmmaker – Director Simon Bird’s first short film, Ernestine and Kit, premiered at South By Southwest, and was nominated for Best Short at the Irish Film and Television Awards. Previously, Simon has worked as a stand-up comedian, writer, producer, and actor. As a writer, he created The King Is Dead for the BBC and co-created Chickens for Sky, which was nominated for Best Sitcom at the Broadcast Awards. As a producer, he set up Guilty Party Pictures, a TV and film production company backed by RED and Studiocanal. Guilty Party has produced content for Channel 4, Sky and the BBC, and recently wrapped on How Europe Stole My Mum, an original TV show for Channel 4, to air later this year. As an actor, Simon has starred in five series of Rose D’Or-winning sitcom Friday Night Dinner. The sixth series shoots later this year. He is perhaps best known as Will McKenzie from Channel 4’s BAFTA-winning sitcom THE INBETWEENERS, THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE, which is the highest-grossing comedy film ever in the UK, and THE INBETWEENERS 2, which had the highest-grossing opening weekend of any film in the UK in 2014. Simon has won multiple British Comedy Awards and been nominated for a BAFTA and Royal Television Society award for acting.
“Far closer in spirit to the lighter works of Mike Leigh than the broader material that made him a well known figure in British comedy, Bird’s debut is innately humanistic, with cross-generational appeal.” – Alistair Ryder, Film Inquiry
The animated short film based on her own childhood experience in Wuhan China, WINDUP, tells the story of a father trying to stay connected with his unconscious daughter through music. He plays a windup music box and hopes she can hear it while fighting with his own emotions to stay strong. Meanwhile, his daughter follows the melody in her dreams and looks for a way back. WINDUPis a nine-minute animated short written and directed by an emergingfemale Chinese filmmaker Yibing Jiang, and Animation DirectorJason Keane. Keanehas a long family legacy in animation, which includes, his grandfather Bill Keane (Family Circus comics) and his uncles Jeff Keane; and Glenn Keane,(The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan, and Tangled). WINDUP was also a collaboration with artists working remotely from around the world, created in real-time with Unity. At a time when we are feeling isolated, craving connection and preoccupied with the health and well-being of loved ones, the theme of the film is an uplifting and universal one that highlights the fragile nature of life, love, resiliency and the healing power of music, told through the eyes of a father and the special bond he shares with his ailing young daughter. Director Yibing Jiang and Artistic Director Jason Keane stop by to talk about their work and vision for this heartwarming and beautiful animated film.
M.C. Escher: Journey To Infinity is the story of world famous Dutch graphic artist M.C Escher (1898-1972). Equal parts history, psychology, and psychedelia, Robin Lutz’s entertaining, eye-opening portrait gives us theman through his own words and images: diary musings, excerpts from lectures, correspondence and more are voiced by British actor Stephen Fry, while Escher’s woodcuts, lithographs, and other print works appear in both original and playfully altered form. Two of his sons, George (92) and Jan (80), reminisce about their parents while musician Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills & Nash) talks about Escher’s rediscovery in the 1970s. M.C. Escher: Journey To Infinity looks at Escher’s legacy: one can see tributes to his work in movies, in fiction, on posters, on tattoos, and elsewhere throughout our culture; indeed, few fine artists of the 20th century can lay claim to such popular appeal. Director Robin Lutz and Producer Marijnke de Jong stop by for a conversation on how far ahead of his contemporaries Escher was in capturing using abstract design elements to capture a provocative view of the natural world and how little he cared about being considered as an acceptable artist by the public or the art establishment.
Director’s Statement: “I fear that there is only one person in the world who could make a really good movie about my prints: myself ‘. This line wrote Escher in 1969 to an American collector of his work. And that is exactly what Escher is doing in this movie: he is the director, not literally but symbolically. Besides a visionary graphic artist Maurits Escher was a sharp observer who described his observations in numerous diaries, letters, lectures and catalogues. Thus, an image will be created of his personal life described in his own words, with all his fears, doubts, euphoric moments, political considerations, his amazements, his artistic development and of course his own opinion on his work. The public sees the film through the eyes of Escher himself: the camera is Escher. M.C. Escher will tell in his own words what he saw, what he felt, what inspired him, what amazed him, what irritated him. We will get under his skin and come as close as possible to meet and understand this great graphic artist. The camera is Escher’s eye! How did he get his inspiration, how he lived, who was that genius graphic artist which worked fanatic and finally stunned the world. Escher was astonished by his huge success, especially among the youth. This documentary is the first complete film about Escher’s live and work told in his own words!
About the filmmaker – Director Robin Lutz founded his own company in cultural audio-visual productions in 1988. He specialized in the production of cultural documentaries, in cooperation with or on behalf of broadcasters, funds, museums etc. Robin Lutz Audiovisual Productions has developed into a renowned production company and due to their great quality, a substantial amount of his films have been awarded, both nationally and internationally.
About the filmmaker – Co-ProducerMarijnke de Jong – After having finished her study in art history at Leiden University, Marijnke de Jong worked for 13 years as a curator in the print room of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Afterwards she worked for Europa Nostra, a heritage NGO, and was involved in the development and organization of the first two editions of a Heritage Film Festival, where she met Robin Lutz. From 2001-2014 she was director/curator of Panorama Mesdag in The Hague and specialized in art and illusion. Nowadays she is advising cultural organizations and since 2016 she also co-produces films with Lutz.
“Delightful…a playful but serious look at the life and work of a wildly popular woodcut printer, lithographer, painter and mezzotint print-maker Maurits Cornelius Escher.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
DEAR COMRADES! is based on a true story surrounding a strike by factory workers on June 1st and 2nd, 1962 in the city of Novocherkassk. The raising of food prices and the lowering of wages at the local factory led to a spontaneous uprising by thousands of area residents that eventually leading to violent reaction by local and federal officials. The events of those two days was kept secret until the nineties. DEAR COMRADES! focuses on the life and family of Lyudmila (Julia Vysotskaya) is a Party executive and devout communist who had fought in WWII for Stalin’s ideology. Certain that her work will create a communist society, the woman detests any anti-Soviet sentiment. During a strike at the local electromotive factory, Lyudmila witnesses a laborers’ piquet gunned down under orders from the government that seeks to cover up mass labor strikes in USSR. After the bloodbath, when survivors flee from the square, Lyudmila realizes her daughter has disappeared. A gaping rift opens in her worldview. Despite the blockade of the city, mass arrests, and the authorities’ attempts to cover up the massacre, Lyudmila searches for her daughter. We don’t know how the search will end, but realize that the woman’s life won’t ever be the same. Director Andrei Konchalovsky (Uncle Vanya, Siberiade, Runaway Train, The Inner Circle) and lead actor Julia Vysotskaya join us for a conversation on the importance of telling an unknown story, the role of art and storytelling and how Lyuda’s saga reflexes a broader perspective on Soviet-era repression.
Russia’s official submission to the 2021 Academy Awards® for Best International Film
Director’s Statement – The process of making films about the 1960s is increasingly becoming the process of restoring the historical authenticity of the era, a fairly difficult task all in itself. Recently we’ve been seeing plenty of films where the 60s-70s-80s of the 20th century look fake and contrived, without any resemblance to the Soviet films made at the time, like “The Great Cranes Are Flying” or “Ballad of a Soldier”. So, my goal was to scrupulously and in great detail reproduce the era of the USSR’s 1960s. I think that the Soviet people of post-war time, the ones who fought in the WWII until victory, deserve to have a movie that pays tribute to their purity and the tragic dissonance that followed the realization of how different the communist ideals were from the reality around them. – Andrei Konchalovsky
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“KONCHALOVSKY’S MASTERPIECE. The artistry is calm, controlled, persuasively detailed… Catch it if you can. Beautiful and damning, DEAR COMRADES! is also an act of remembrance.” – Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
“A scintillating, surgical exposé of Khrushchev-era oppression… A 1962 massacre in the Soviet Union is reclaimed from its historical cover-up by Andrei Konchalovsky’s pristine, extraordinary drama… Perversely beautiful and coldly furious… meticulous and majestic, epic in scope and tattoo-needle intimate in effect.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety
“Now in his 80s, Andrei Konchalovsky, the veteran Russian director… has made one of his most Russian, and most accomplished, latter-day films… Carried off with evocative precision and a cannily underplayed emotional tug. The drama keeps a well-calibrated balance between political horror, the matter-of-fact texture of everyday life, and the rhetoric that keeps the Soviet machinery oiled – and that Lyuda is struggling to see through. The film’s magnetic centre is a strong performance from Vysotskaya, working from a base line of initial testiness to rising anxiety and terror in face of the oppression that she realizes she has been enabling.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily
“Although at first sight this dramatization of a 1962 strike at a factory in the U.S.S.R. may seem a long way from the interests of contemporary audiences, it is surprising how much resonance the film has with the political struggles of our own time. much credit due to Julia Vysotskaya and her uncommonly gripping perf in the main role.” – Deborah Young, – The Hollywood Reporter
In the world of Anmaere, north of the city of Whithren, wild horses run through the moorlands and up the coast. These horses are the city’s most valuable export and, as a result, are hunted, trapped, sold, and shipped across the sea once a year. For those in Whithren, this trade passage creates lucrative and exciting possibilities: the chance to escape their constantly sweltering city and escape to the Western continent of Levithen, or simply to begin again. Nothing can prepare audiences for the secrets, seduction, and sights of THE WANTING MARE, an intimate, dramatic fantasy epic written and directed by renowned digital artist Nicholas Ashe Bateman (visual effects supervisor of David Lowery’s upcoming The Green Knight). A technical marvel of digital world-building and independent ambition, the sprawling vistas, fantastical sights, and otherworldly tableaus of THE WANTING MARE were lensed almost entirely inside a warehouse in Paterson, New Jersey. Director, writer, and editor Nicholas Ashe Bateman joins us to talk about the five year journey of making THE WANTING MARE, the defining connection humans and horses share, the support he received from a dedicated group of friends and filmmakers, and the importance of Carl Jung.
THE WANTING MARE was written and directed by Nicholas Ashe Bateman, Executive Produced by Lawrence Inglee, and stars Jordan Monaghan, Yasmin Keshtkar, Edmond Cofie, Nicholas Ashe Bateman, Josh Clark, and Christine Kellogg-Darrin.
ACASA, MY HOME is set in the wilderness of the Bucharest Delta, an abandoned water reservoir just outside the bustling metropolis, Radu Ciorniciuc’a striking debut feature documentary follows the Enache family.The Enache’s have lived in perfect harmony with nature for two decades, sleeping in a hut on the lakeshore, catching fish barehanded, and following the rhythm of the seasons. When this area is transformed into a public national park, they are forced to leave behind their unconventional life and move to the city, where fishing rods are replaced by smartphones and idle afternoons are now spent in classrooms. As the family struggles to conform to modern civilization and maintain their connection to each other and themselves, they each begin to question their place in the world and what their future might be. With their roots in the wilderness, the nine children and their parents struggle to find a way to keep their family united in the concrete jungle. With an empathetic and cinematic eye, ACASA, MY HOME filmmakerRadu Ciorniciuc offers viewers, in his feature debut, a compelling tale of an impoverished family living on the fringes of society in Romania, fighting for acceptance and their own version of freedom. Director Radu Ciorniciuc stops by to talk about his profoundly personal exploration into the insulated and untamed lives of the Enache family as they navigate the grinding reality of an urban existence that threatens to tear them apart.
About the filmmaker – In 2012, Radu Ciorniciuc co-founded the first independent media organization in Romania – Casa Jurnalistului, a community of reporters specialized in in-depth, long-form and multimedia reporting. Since then, he has been working as a long-form writer and undercover investigative reporter. His researches are focused on human rights, animal welfare and environmental issues across the globe. His investigative and reporting work was published on most of the major international media organizations in the world – Channel 4 News, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, etc. – and received national and international awards. His journalistic work was acknowledged by Royal Television Society UK (2014), Amnesty International UK (2014), Harold Wincott Awards for Business, Economic and Financial Journalism (2016), and by other international and national prestigious institutions.
WINNER – Special Jury Prize for Cinematography Sundance Film Festival
WINNER – Phoenix Prize Best Documentary Cologne Film Festival
WINNER – Main Competition – Dok.Fest Munchen
WINNER – Olden Horn Award – Krakow Film Festival
WINNER – Best Moral Approach – 2020 Makedox
WINNER – Human Rights Award – Sarajevo Film Festival
WINNER – Special Jury Prize– Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival
WINNER – ZagrebDox– FIPRECI Award | Big Stamp Award | Little Stamp Award
Pensioners Nina (Barbara Sukowa) and Madeleine (Martine Chevallier) have hidden their deep and passionate love for many decades. From the point of view of those surrounding them, including Madeleine’s meddling daughter (Léa Drucker), they are simply two neighbors sharing a hallway during their sunset years. In reality, this landing is a bridge between two worlds: one belonging to a widowed, doting grandmother, the other to a free-spirited woman who longs to spend her life with the person she loves. Clandestinely, Nina and Madeleine share a tender life, moving freely between their apartments until an unexpected event closes the portal. But their secret cannot remain hidden if they are to stay together – and their unconditional love is put to the test. Director Filippo Meneghetti joins us for a conversation on this beautifully rendered film that’s a loving tribute to passion, fidelity and a fierce determination to hold on to the people who matter most.
** France’s entry for 2021 Best International Film – Academy Awards
About the filmmaker – Director, screenwriter Filippo Meneghetti – Originally from Padova, Italy, Filippo’s earliest work experience was on New York’s indie film circuit. After film school and an Anthropology degree in Rome, he co-wrote the feature Imago Mortis (2009). He worked as a first assistant for several years before starting to direct his own short films, Undici (2011, codirected by Piero Tomaselli) and L’intruso (2012), which screened and garnered prizes at festivals in Italy and abroad. In 2018, Filippo moved to France where he made his next short, The Beast, which screened in competition at SXSW 2019 and can now be seen at international festivals. Two Of Us is Filippo’s first feature.
“The film’s brevity means some ideas are under-developed. But what we’re left with is a sublime and sublimely simple portrait of a love that’s been lived in and the devotion it will take to ensure that endures.” – Roger MooreMovie Nation
“Two of Us is absolutely beautiful … and [it’s] refreshing to see two older women as sexual beings in all their yearning.” – Sara Clements, AwardsWatch
“This is a smart movie that starts from a relatively simple yet captivating premise and then steadily gains in complexity as it develops.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
“Perhaps most importantly, what Two of Us captures is something which so much of mainstream media would rather ignore: the desire, passion and sexuality of people above a certain age.” – Becky Kukla, Film Inquiry
Tribes on the Edgefollows filmmaker Céline Cousteau as she returns to the Brazilian Amazon after a fateful email from Beto of the Marúbo tribe who beckons her back to help tell his people’s story. Céline, who comes from a lineage of renowned explorers, ventures into the heart of the jungle to explore the health crises and the threats to land and human rights of the Indigenous Peoples of the Vale do Javari. From a history of invaders bringing devastating diseases, to ongoing illegal activities, to the alarming dismantling of all protection of their land and human rights by the government – these indigenous communities are fighting to protect their home, critical to the ecological balance of our planet, and as a result…they protect us. TRIBES ON THE EDGEis Céline’s first full feature documentary. The film is co-written by Joseph Kwong and Executive Produced by Bill Miller, Mercedes Zobel, James Cox and Çapkin Van Alphen. Director Celine Cousteau joins us for a lively conversation on the slow-motion genocide of indigenous people who happen to live in and steward some of the most ecologically valuable and endangered eco-system on the planet and how we can do something to stop the Brazilian government crime against humanity.
TRIBES ON THE EDGE took home the Special Jury Award at the Brazil International Film Festival, and the Impact Award at the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival. Additional festivals include Black Hills International Film Festival (Global Reach Award), ART & TUR International Film Festival (Ethnography and Society Award), United Nations Association Film Festival, San Diego International Film Festival, Earth X Festival, Jackson Wild Media Summit, Vision Du Reel Film Festival, San Francisco Green Film Festival, National Geographic Exodus Aveiro Festival (Portugal) and One Earth Film Festival.
About the filmmaker – Céline Cousteau, Expedition Leader, Director and Producer – Céline Cousteau is a humanitarian and environmental activist working with a variety of mediums that range from documentaries to art, from consulting with corporations and foundations to public speaking. Each form shares the same message of interconnectivity between humans and the natural world. As a documentary film director, producer, and presenter, Céline is the founder and executive director of CauseCentric Productions, creating cause-focused content. Extending her family legacy and her expertise, Céline co-founded The Outdoor Film Fellowship, a nonprofit program whose mission is to empower young the next generation of filmmakers, creatives, and activists to inspire change through leadership, film, and the arts. Céline is ambassador for the TreadRight Foundation and on the board of directors of the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Her previous work has included being Guest Designer for Swarovski and Member of the World Economic ForumCouncil on Oceans. With a degree in psychology and a masters in Intercultural Relations, Céline is fluent in three languages.
Lili Horvát’s PREPARATIONS TO BE TOGETHER FOR AN UNKNOWN PERIOD OF TIME is a mesmerizing psychological romance about a woman who upends her whole life to return to her home city of Budapest for a romantic rendezvous with a fellow surgeon, who then claims the two have never met. Márta Vizy (Natasa Stork) is a 39-year-old Hungarian neurosurgeon. After 20 years in the United States, she returns to Budapest for a romantic rendezvous at the Liberty Bridge with János (Viktor Bodó), a fellow doctor she met at a conference in New Jersey. Márta waits in vain, while the love of her life is nowhere to be seen. When she finally tracks him down, the bewildered man claims the two have never met. It’s unclear whether Márta’s wits are clouded by love or if other neurological factors are at play. Determined to solve the enigma, she takes a position at a hospital where she is treated as an outsider and must endure real and perceived slights, while also navigating a no man’s land separating love from madness. For her second feature, following 2015’s The Wednesday Child, writer-director Lili Horvát spins a delicate web of contrasts and silent explosions that shift the viewer’s understanding. Shot with impeccable symmetry on entrancing 35mm, it is an Orphic tale reminding us that, while the heart is an abstruse trickster, the human brain — ruling us with over 80 billion interconnected neurons — is our most complex organ. Director Lili Horvát joins us for a conversation on her Hitchcockian tale of a woman who’s certainty drives this compelling cinematic “love” story.
“What sets this film apart is its fusing of the impassioned and the grimly palpable.” – Anthony Lane, New Yorker
“ [A] state of existential crisis, one that director Lili Horvat teases with curiosity and ambiguity, as if Krzysztof Kieslowski were alive and well and making movies in Budapest.” – Barry Hertz, Globe and Mail
Inspired by the true historical event, BREAKING THE SILENCE tells the story of Francesca (Grace Shen), a Chinese-American nurse working for the Red Cross in Hong Kong when the St. Stephen’s College massacre occurred. She survived but she and many other Asian women were captured then forced to work to “comfort” Japanese troops. Francesca finally comes to terms with her past after forty years by breaking her silence with a New York Times journalist. There are two comfort women memorials in California, one in Glendale and the other in San Francisco. The Glendale memorial was erected in Glendale Central Park in 2013, shortly after Osaka Mayor Toshio Hashimoto made the controversial argument that World War II era comfort women were “necessary” to “maintain discipline in the army.” BREAKING THE SILENCE is a new live-action short film by Seayoon Jeong, starring Grace Shen (“This is Us”, “Grey’s Anatomy”), Rumi Oyama (RUNNING FOR GRACE) and Grace Chim (“Neighbours”). Director Seayoon Jeong joins us to talk about her deeply personal story and the desire to keep this issue in the forefront of human rights and reconciliation.
** BREAKING THE SILENCE has been submitted to the Academy Awards for Best Live Action Short Film consideration.**
About the filmmaker – Seayoon Jeong has written a feature-length film on the same subject and will be self-releasing a book based on her script in January. Seayoon Jeong is originally from South Korea and spent her youth in Atlanta, Georgia. She is currently living in New York. Seayoon Jeong is available for interviews.
About the history – During WWII, Imperial Japan established military brothels known as “comfort stations” in the Pacific region as their military campaign intensified. Many young women from Korea, China, the Philippines, and other parts of Asia as well as the Netherlands and Australia – some as young as thirteen – were forced or duped into sexual enslavement. Many of these women died or were killed before they could be released. Meanwhile, survivors of the harrowing militarized sexual enslavement wound up being shrouded in a profound sense of shame and guilt, living in the shadows of their former selves, resulting in an understated tragedy of the war that even today remains an unfamiliar war story to many.
“For its 27 minutes, Breaking the Silence showcases captivating filmmaking in exploring the reality of ‘comfort stations’ and its victims but also briefly the fight to have these atrocities recognized and condemned as war crimes.” – Corey Bulloch, UK Film Review
“Breaking the Silence” is a brutally sad film, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen…a fantastic short film that really knew how to push my emotional buttons.”- Will Conrad, Indyred