Friday, November 25, 2016 – Notes on Blindness, Co-directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney

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Based on the Emmy Award-winning short film of the same name, Notes on Blindness is the debut feature from writer / directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney. In 1983, after decades of steady deterioration, writer and theologian John Hull became totally blind. To help him make sense of the upheaval in his life, he began documenting his experiences on audio cassette. Drawing on John’s original audio recordings, Notes on Blindness is a poetic and intimate story of loss, rebirth and transformation, charting his extraordinary journey into ‘a world beyond sight’. To compliment this archive material, the filmmakers recorded over twenty hours of audio interviews with John and his wife Marilyn. These audio interviews are interwoven throughout the film’s soundtrack, forming a lyrical narration, with the couple reflecting on events from a distance of thirty years. This wealth of documentary audio material is embedded within cinematic interpretations, in which actors play John and his family, lip-synching to this documentary audio. This innovative creative approach liberates the scope of the film to explore the interior aspects of John’s journey into blindness – John’s dream life, his memories and flights of imagination. Writer / directors Peter Middleton and James Spinney join us for a conversation on the their innovative approach to conveying the experience of blindness and the challenges of telling this deeply personal story of love and triumph.

Story of film subject John Hull: John M. Hull taught for 30 years at the University of Birmingham until his retirement in 2002. He was the first professor of Religious Education in the UK and recipient of the prestigious William Rainey Harper award from the Religious Education Association of the US and Canada. This award is only held by 12 international scholars, and is presented to ‘outstanding leaders whose work in other fields has had a profound impact upon religious education’, including luminaries such as Marshall McLuhan, Margaret Mead and Paolo Freire.

For news and updates go to: notesonblindness.arte.tv/en/

★★★★★  “The genius of the film is in allowing us to understand and visualise the world of blindness… A beautiful, accessible and thoughtful work of art.”   THE GUARDIAN, Charlie Phillips

★★★★★ “A visionary, lyrical film” THE TIMES, Kate Muir

★★★★★ “Articulate, eloquent and soul-searching” OBSERVER, Mark Kermode

★★★★★ “Remarkable… a haunting, throat-catching documentary that shares some of the lyrical power of Clio Barnard’s The Arbor or Carol Morley’s Dreams of a Life.”  THE LIST, Allan Hunter

★★★★★ “Beautiful and reassuring, Notes On Blindness is a moving and inspiring film” DAILY MAIL, Libby Purves

‘I, Daniel Blake,’ ‘American Honey,’ ‘Notes On Blindness,’ ‘Under The Shadow’ Lead British Indie Film Award Nominations DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD

Friday November 25, 2016 – Finding Kukan, Director Robin Lung

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In the late 1930s China is in dire straits. The country will collapse under Japan’s military juggernaut if it doesn’t get outside help. Chinese American firebrand Li Ling-Ai jolts Americans into action with a new medium — 16mm Kodachrome color film. She hires photo-journalist Rey Scott to travel to China and capture a citizen’s perspective of the war-torn country, including the massive bombing of the wartime capital Chungking (now Chongqing). Their landmark film KUKAN screens for President Franklin Roosevelt at the White House, is called “awesome” by the New York Times, and receives one of the first
kukan-film-posterAcademy Awards for a feature documentary in 1942. Why have we never heard of Li Ling-Ai?
And why have all copies of KUKAN disappeared? FINDING KUKAN uses rare and unseen archival footage to create an unforgettable portrait of a female filmmaking pioneer, and sheds light on the long history of racial and gender discrimination behind the camera, which continues to reverberate in Hollywood today. Director / Producer Robin Lung stops by to talk about the 7-year quest to find the answers to a multitude of questions.

For news and updates go to: nestedeggproductions.com/

“Totally absorbing.” Louis Proyect (Rec Arts)

“Amazing.” “If you love movies or history see this film.” Steve Kopian (Unseen Films)

“4 stars” John Soltes (Hollywood Soapbox)

Friday, November 18, 2016 – National Bird, Director / Producer Sonia Kennebeck

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National Bird is an investigative political documentary that explores the complex issue of drone warfare from a human perspective. National Bird follows the dramatic journey of three whistleblowers who are determined to break the silence around one of the most controversial current affairs issues of our time: the secret U.S. drone war. At the center of the film are three U.S. military veterans. Plagued by guilt over participating in the killing of faceless people in foreign countries, they decide to speak out publicly, despite the possible consequences. Their stories take dramatic turns, leading one of the protagonists to Afghanistan where she learns about a horrendous incident. But her journey also gives hope for peace and redemption. National Bird gives rare insight into the U.S. drone program through the eyes of veterans and survivors, connecting their stories as never seen before in a documentary. Like previous advancements in military technology, combat drones have transformed warfare, outpacing the ability of legal and moral frameworks to adapt and address these developments. Director / producer and journalist Sonia Kennebeck joins us for a conversation on the immediate consequences, long term ramifications and potential for abuse of a technology that has not received an appropriate level of public discourse.

For news and updates go to: nationalbirdfilm.com

“National Bird” is powerful cinematic journalism.” – Kimber Myers, LA Times

“Chilling testimony from those three veterans, each of whom helped to wage war from behind consoles half a world away, serves as the backbone of a film that adds its voice to mounting criticism of the U.S. drone program.” – Peter DeBarge, Variety

“[An] elegantly unsettling documentary about the United States’ reliance on aerial combat drones.” – Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times

“This is a truly amazing and eye-opening film about the drone program of the U.S. Air Force and some courageous people who realized what sort of threat these unmanned warplanes represent and who decided to speak out about their experiences.  You will see and hear things you’ve never seen or heard, and you will leave the theater with insight, in the true sense of the word, you did not have before.” – Wim Wenders        

“NATIONAL BIRD is a one-of-a-kind film. It’s nothing short of miraculous that Sonia Kennebeck was able to secure the cooperation of multiple analysts recently active in the U.S. drone program. The film offers an unparalleled glimpse into the surreal landscape of automated murder. – Errol Morris

“NATIONAL BIRD is an extraordinary first person perspective that is starkly riveting, deeply compelling, and a signature eyewitness portrayal of three drone whistleblowers confronted by the remote killing fields of American foreign policy as well as the tragedy experienced by the people of Afghanistan at the everyday level. – Thomas Drake, Whistleblower/ Former Senior Executive of the National Security Agency

Friday, November 18, 2016 – Magnus, Director Benjamin Ree

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How would you react if you discovered that your child –  who is often lost in their own thoughts and disconnected from other children – is actually one of the greatest minds of their time? As a young boy, Magnus Carlsen was very different from his peers. Bullied by the other children, he usually sat by himself, lost in thought. But when a strong interest in numbers led him to the game of chess at the age of 5, he quickly started to climb the ranks of the chess world. At 13, he decided that he would become the World Chess Champion. Magnus is now known as the “Mozart of Chess” – combing the skill and intellect of chess with unrivaled originality and instinct.  Through an extensive amount of archival footage and home movies, filmmaker Benjamin Ree follows Magnus’s meteoric rise to the top in this unique coming-of-age story.  The film invites audiences to not only experience the fascinating world of competitive chess, but also peek into the mind of a modern genius. Director Benjamin Ree joins us to talk about the international culture of chess and the fascinating story of a prodigy with a talent for understanding numbers, patterns and following his remarkable instincts.

For news and updates go to: trustnordisk.com/film/2015-magnus

Opening in Los Angeles on November 25 

Exclusively at Laemmle Music Hall9036 Wilshire Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

Available on VOD NOVEMBER 25 on all platforms

Opening New York on November 18 at Village East Cinema181-189 2nd Ave.  NY, NY 10003

OFFICIAL SELECTION AT THE 2016 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

“Taut and paced with drama…captivating to watch.” – Screen Daily

“Chess has never been quite so riveting.” – We Got This Covered

“Hits all the right beats.” – Film Pulse

“Superb documentary filmmaking.” – The Hollywood News

Friday, November 18, 2016 – The Anthropologist, Co-director Jeremy Newberger (Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller)

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The Anthropologist tells the story of Katie Yegorov-Crate, a thirteen-year-old girl from Fairfax, Virginia. She is carted around the globe by her mother, noted environmental anthropologist Susie Crate. Susie studies the effects of climate change on centuries-old indigenous communities. Famed anthropologist Margaret Mead also analyzed how communities confront change, but that which results from war and modernity. Mead’s daughter Mary Catherine Bateson, now 76 and a cultural anthropologist in her own right, provides extraordinary insight into what Susie and Katie discover. Filmed over the course of five years, The Anthropologist is a meditation on change, both individual and societal. Susie and Katie work with people in Siberia, the South Pacific, the Andes, and the nearby Chesapeake Bay, who struggle to reconfigure how and where they live. In Siberia, where Susie met Katie’s father while doing research, Katie’s relatives can no longer farm on land they’ve occupied for generations. Katie’s roots are also threatened by the inhospitable soil. Uniquely revealed from their daughters’ perspectives, Mead and Crate demonstrate a fascination with how societies are forced to negotiate the disruption of their traditional ways of life, whether through encounters with the outside world or the unprecedented change wrought by melting permafrost, receding glaciers and rising tides. Co-director Jeremy Newberger stops by to talk about the rapid climate changes occurring around the world and the increasing human cost.

For news and updates go to: ironboundfilms.com/the anthropologist

facebook.com/TheAnthropologistDocumentary/

THE ANTHROPOLOGIST will have a one-week engagement beginning November 18 at Laemmle’s Music Hall, 9036 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90021, 310-478-3836. Go to: laemmle.com/films/41178

“A highly human look at a single mother field scientist and her teenage daughter as they globetrot to study the effects of climate change.” – Film Journal International

“At this point no documentarian can possibly have a fresh take on climate change, right? Wrong.” – Neil Gezlinger, New York Times

“It may not be handled with the rigor that climate change activists would like to see, but it’s an entertaining way of putting a human face on a problem while still providing enough important facts to promote thought.” – Valeriy Kolyadych, PopMatters

Friday, October 28, 2016 – Fire at Sea, Director Gianfranco Rosi


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Fire at Sea is the first documentary to ever win the top award at the Berlin International Film Festival. It is the story of a twelve year old boy, Samuele living on an island in the Mediterranean, far away from the mainland. Like all boys of his age, he does not always enjoy going to school. He would much rather climb the rocks by the shore, play with his slingshot or mooch around the port. But his home is not like other islands. For years, it has been the destination of men, women and children trying to make the crossing from Africa in boats that are far too small and decrepit. The island is Lampedusa, which has become ground zero for the flight of refugees to Europe and a symbol of the hope and fate of hundreds of thousands of emigrants fleeing dire living conditions. These people long for peace, freedom and happiness, and yet so often only their dead bodies are pulled out of the water. Thus, every day the inhabitants of Lampedusa are bearing witness to the greatest humanitarian tragedy of our times. With tenderness and a nocturnal grandeur, Director Gianfranco Rosi creates a remarkable narrative that jolts us into a new understanding of what is really happening in the Mediterranean today as well as bear witness to the resiliency at the core of our humanity.

For news and updates go to: kinolorber.com/Fire at Sea

FIRE AT SEA filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi, winner of the Golden Bear at the 2016 Berlin International Film Festival, will participate in Q&A’s after the 7:15 PM screenings at the Fine Arts on Friday and Saturday, October 28 and 29. Laemmle Fine Arts Theatre

Also opening at the Laemmle Playhouse in Pasadena

“A clear-eyed, sublimely made account of a heartbreaking, sometimes gut-wrenching subject. A quietly profound study in contrasts. This isn’t just an apt documentary, but a very fine film” Demetrios Matheou, Indiewire

“REMARKABLE. Rosi’s masterstroke is to not approach the hot-button material – of sinking boats, clamouring migrants, bellowing officials – head on, but instead watch it at one remove, through the eyes of the locals on Lampedusa, the Sicilian island that has become a major gateway for the exodus. Rosi’s film is a collection of tiny details that morph, almost by osmosis, into a shocking excavation of the mechanics of crisis.” – Andrew Pulver, The Guardian

“POWERFUL, at times shocking, but also intensely human.”  Lee Marshall, Screen International

“Where journalism leaves off, Fire at Sea begins. It takes a unique documentary filmmaker like Gianfranco Rosi to capture the drama through the periscope of his camera focused on the small Sicilian island of Lampedusa.” -The Hollywood Reporter

Friday, October 28, 2016 – The Uncondemned, Director Michele Mitchell (co-Director Nick Louvel)

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Directors Michele Mitchell and Nick Louvel’s THE UNCONDEMNED is a riveting documentary about an underdog group of lawyers and activists who defied the odds to do what had never been done: prosecute rape as an international war crime. In 1997, the young men and women at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found themselves inexplicably in charge of the first case of genocide in history. Underfunded, understaffed and overwhelmed, they faced incredible hurdles as they pursued their first case against a small town mayor. Crimes of war and against humanity had not been prosecuted since 1946, and surviving witnesses feared for their lives. And then, based on a last minute revelation, the prosecuting team amended the charge to include rape. Three heroic women would overcome their fears and shame to speak for all those who could not. Secret memos, witness assassinations, setbacks and barriers – THE UNCONDEMNED captures the untold, remarkable story that changed the course of international judicial history. Co-director and producer Michele Mitchell joins us for a conversation on the Rwandan genocide, an unprecedented prosecution, and remarkable courage by remarkable women.

For news and updates go to: theuncondemned.com

facebook.com/theuncondemned

theuncondemned.com/screenings

The Uncondemned is screening the starting Friday, October 28, 2016 at the Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles

Q & A schedule with special guests at the following screenings:

Friday, October 28 – 7:10 Pierre Prosper, Michele Mitchell

Saturday, October 28 – 4:30 pm Naama Haviv, executive director of Panzi USA, & Michele Mitchell, co-director/producer 

7:10 pm Mike Brand, atrocities prevention expert and advocacy director, Jewish World Watch; Naama Haviv, executive director, Panzi USA; Michele Mitchell, co-director/producer

Tuesday, Nov 1 – 7:10 pm Dr. Caroline Heldman, associate professor of politics at Occidental College, principal researcher at Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media; Chelsea Byers, creative action coordinator at Beautiful Trouble and campaign activist with CODEPINK: Women for Peace; Schatzi Throckmorton, associate producer, THE UNCONDEMNED

Wednesday, Nov 2 – 7:10 pm Mike Brand, atrocities prevention expert and advocacy director, Jewish World Watch; Schatzi Throckmorton, associate producer, THE UNCONDEMNED

Thursday, Nov 3rd – 7:10 pm Junemarie Justus, Human Rights Watch; Schatzi Throckmorton, associate producer, THE UNCONDEMNED

“What “The Uncondemned” convincingly demonstrates is the cumulative power of a small group of people with an intense passion for justice, idealists with practical experience whose belief in the power inherent in speaking the truth is not to be denied.” – Kenneth Turan, LA Times

“Though it is, indeed, at times hard to take, it should be seen by everyone. – David Not, Film Journal International

“While this sober documentary about rape during wartime treats those words and its subject with the required gravity, there are also moments of inspiration.” – Ken Jaworowski, New York Times

“In their eye-opening documentary, directors Nick Louvel and Michele Mitchell reveal how the young, idealistic prosecutors, already overextended, uncovered evidence of the systematic violation, torture, mutilation, and enslavement of women in Taba.” – Andrea Gronvall, Chicago Reader

Friday, October 21, 2016 – A Stray, Director and Writer Musa Syeed

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In Minneapolis’ large Somali refugee community, Adan (Barkhad Abdirahman) has nowhere to go. His mom kicked him out, and his friends are tired of his headstrong ways. As a last resort, he moves into the mosque, praying for a little help. Surprisingly, God seems to answer. Adan quickly lands a good job, devout friends, and a newfound faith. When Adan nearly hits a stray dog on the job, he’s forced to take it in for a night. But one of his new mosque friends considers the dog impure, and he throws Adan out. With Adan back on the streets, surrounded by his old crew, ex-girlfriends, prying FBI agents, and his estranged family, the dog may be his only friend asmusa-syeed-director-photo he tries to keep his faith and get through the night. Filmmaker Musa Syeed’s first narrative feature VALLEY OF SAINTS won the World Cinema Audience Award at Sundance and was a New York Times Critics Pick. The result of an immersive research process similar to A STRAY, the film was shot during a military curfew in Kashmir, employing a community of boat people as cast and crew. His previous documentaries, also produced with cinematographer Yoni Brook, include BRONX PRINCESS (Berlinale, POV) and A SON’S SACRIFICE (Tribeca Best Short Doc, Independent Lens)Director and writer Musa Syeed stops by for a conversation on the challenges and rewards of making an intimate and moving portrait of a stranger in a strange land.

For news and updates go to: musasyeed.com

World Premiere – SXSW

Best MN-Made Feature – Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival

Official Selection – BAM Cinemafest, Maryland Film Festival, Blackstar Film Festival

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“The substantial pleasures of the movie are supplemented by the gratification of seeing an emerging talent with concerns far outside the conventional indie realm asserting himself with such authority.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times

“The writer-director’s seemingly random yet never aimless narrative avoids predictable sentimental notes as well as any explicit backstory, leaving us to fill in the blanks.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety

“A truly empathetic look at the immigrant experience in today’s jittery American “homeland.””  – Shirley Sealy, Film Journal International

Friday October 7, 2016 – Among the Believers, Co-directors Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi’s

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Charismatic cleric Abdul Aziz Ghazi, an ISIS supporter and Taliban ally, is waging jihad against the Pakistani state. His dream is to impose a strict version of Shariah law throughout the country, as a model for the world. A flashpoint in Aziz’s holy war took place in 2007, when the government leveled his flagship mosque to the ground, killing his mother, brother, only son and 150 students. With unprecedented access, Among the Believers follows Aziz on his very personal quest to create an Islamic utopia, during the bloodiest period in Pakistan’s modern history. The film also follows the lives of two teenage students who have attended madrassahs (Islamic seminaries) run by Aziz’s Red Mosque network. Throughout the film, their paths diverge: Talha, 12, detaches from his moderate Muslim family and decides to become a jihadi preacher. Zarina, also 12, escapes her madrassah and joins a regular school. Over the next few years, Zarina’s education is threatened by frequent Taliban attacks on schools like her own. Intimate and shocking, Among the Believers offers rare insights into the ideological battles shaping Pakistan and the Muslim world. The co-directors of Among the Believers, Hemal Trivedi (Producer) and Mohammed Ali Naqvi join us for a conversation on their beautifully balanced film.

For news and updates go to: amongthebelieversfilm.com

“It insists on seeing its subjects’ humanity – something rare in the Western press, particularly when reporting on Islam, and especially fundamentalism.” – Diana Clark, Village Voice

“The filmmakers skillfully orchestrate the various levels of their exploration, from the intimate details of Talha and Zarina’s lives to the workings of the big national picture.” – Ronnie Schieb, Variety

“Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Ali Naqvi’s Among the Believers takes viewers to the frontlines of an ideological battle playing out in the Islamic world that receives little coverage in the Western media.” Oleg Ivanov, Slant Magazine

Awards

Winner, FACT Award Jury Prize, CPH:DOX Copenhagen Documentary Festival
Winner, Grand Prix, International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH), Geneva
Winner, Docu/Right Competition (Special Mention), Docudays UA Film Festival, Kiev
Winner, Best International Feature (Special Mention) & Best International Director, Doc Edge Festival, New Zealand
Winner, Best Documentary Feature, Hollywood Film Festival
Winner, Best Documentary & Audience Choice Prize, Tasveer South Asian Film Festival
Winner, Amnesty International Prize, San Sebastian Human Rights Film Festival
Winner, Power of Film Award, Beloit International Film Festival
Winner, Best International Documentary, Oaxaca Film Fest
Winner, Best Director, Documentary Feature SOMA Film Festival
Winner, David Ponce Award for Best Film, Chagrin Documentary Film Fest
Winner, Best Feature, Abraham Lincoln Brigade Association Human Rights Film Festival

100 Years, Director Melinda Janko

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With the current coverage of the North Dakota Pipeline Protest, we are shown how the sacred lands of Native Americans in the United States are constantly being destroyed for capital and economic gain with the government failing to protect these tribal lands. In the new documentary 100 YEARS, we see another similar story come to the forefront when Elouise Cobell from the Blackfeet tribe in Montana discovers that the United States government has been mismanaging funds and the lands and exploiting the Blackfeet reservation. Many of the Blackfeet tribe members could see the oil being pumped out from their land on a daily basis.  But they saw barely a few dollars from the millions that was being made from their land’s natural resources. It was with the fierceness and dedication that Elouise Cobell embarked on a 30 year fight with the U.S. government that lead her to file the largest class action lawsuit in the history of the United States Government.  100 YEARS  is her story!  Below is more information on the theatrical release of this important film and event in our own American history. Director Melinda Jenko joins for a conversation on the indignities and the injustice that Native Americans continue to suffer under an oppressive and unethical federal government.

For news and updates go to:100yearsthemovie.com

“100 Years” will be screening for a limited engagement in the Laemmle Monica Film Center,

September 23-30, with a Q&A with the Director on Saturday, September 24.  The film will also screen in the Cinema Village in New York City, from October 14-21, with a Q&A with the Director on Saturday, October 15th.

“What emerges watching 100 Years is Elouise Cobell’s indomitable spirit and passion, her conviction in pursuing a case that seemed impossible to win.” – Daniel Eagan, Film Journal International

“With any luck, Hollywood will take note and someday present an Erin Brockovich-like adaptation of this tale, drawing more casual moviegoers into this ire-stoking story …” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

Cameraperson, Director Kirsten Johnson

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What does it mean to film another person? How does it affect that person – and what does it do to the one who films? A boxing match in Brooklyn; life in postwar Bosnia and Herzegovina; the daily routine of a Nigerian midwife; an intimate family moment at home: these scenes and others are woven into Cameraperson, a tapestry of footage captured over the twenty-five-year career of documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. Through a series of episodic juxtapositions, Johnson explores the relationships between image makers and their subjects, the tension between the objectivity and intervention of the camera, and the complex interaction of unfiltered reality and crafted narrative. A work that combines documentary, autobiography, and ethical inquiry, Cameraperson is both a moving glimpse into one filmmaker’s personal journey and a thoughtful examination of what it means to train a camera on the world. Director and subject Kirsten Johnson stops by to talk about her career, what inspires her, the power of the image and often conflicting realities of documentary filmmaking.

For news and updates go to: camerapersonfilm.com

Sept. 23 – 29 — Los Angeles | Laemmle Royal | [More Info]

***Filmmaker Kirsten Johnson in-person Sept. 23 and 24

“… a uniquely insightful memoir-cum-critical-treatise on the nature and ethics of [Johnson’s] craft.” – Variety

“…an extraordinary self-portrait and an existential statement.” – Rolling Stone

“… a beautifully curated collage …” – The Guardian

“Transfixing…”- The New York Times

Landfill Harmonic, Co-directors Brad Allgood (Juliana Penaranda-Loftus)

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LANDFILL HARMONIC chronicles the incredible journey of Paraguay’s Recycled Orchestra of Cateura.   Orchestra Founder Favio Chavez had hopes of sharing music with the children of Cateura, a poverty stricken slum next to the capital’s largest landfill.  Since expensive musical instruments were not within attainable for families in Cateura, Favio, along with carpenter and trash picker Nicolas “Cola” Gomez, began to craft instruments from materials found in the landfill to provide children with the opportunity to play.  They journey exceeds all expectations as they find themselves playing for audiences around the world, even accompanying artists such as Stevie Wonder, Metallica and Megadeth.  They’ve also played for Pope Francis, and recently performed at The United Nations in NYC.  Winner of the Audience Award at the South By Southwest Film Festival, AFI DOCS Festival, Vancouver Film Festival; official selection at the Sheffield Film Festival and winner of the Documentary Award for The Humanitas Prize. Co-director Brad Allgood joins us for a conversation on this uplifting and captivating film.

For news and updates go to: landfillharmonicmovie.com/

OPENS IN LOS ANGELES SEPTEMBER 23rd

Laemmle’s Monica Film Center, 1332 2nd St, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Laemmle’s Pasadena Playhouse, 673 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101

****WINNER: Audience Award: BEST DOCUMENTARY- SXSW

****WINNER: Audience Award: BEST DOCUMENTARY- AFI FEST

**** SPECIAL MENTION The Environmental Award- SHEFFIELD DOC FEST

“From Trash to Triumph: The Recycled Orchestra” – NPR

“An inspiring tale – if it were fiction you’d dismiss it as unbelievable.” – The New York Times

“[A] deeply inspiring doc about how trouble for a real-life river city was transformed into triumph.” – David Noh, Film Journal International

When Two Worlds Collide, Co-directors Heidi Brandenburg and Mathew Orzel

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In this tense and immersive tour de force film, When Two Worlds Collide, audiences are taken directly into the line of fire between powerful, opposing Peruvian leaders who will stop at nothing to keep their respective goals intact. On the one side is President Alan Garcia, who, eager to enter the world stage, begins aggressively extracting oil, minerals, and gas from untouched indigenous Amazonian land. He is quickly met with fierce opposition from indigenous leader Alberto Pizango, whose impassioned speeches against Garcia’s destructive actions prove a powerful rallying cry to throngs of his supporters. When Garcia continues to ignore their pleas, a tense war of words erupts into deadly violence. Co-director Heidi Brandenburg (Mathew Orzel) joins us to talk about the physically arduous and personally dangerous challenges they faced in making this dynamic and compelling film. 

For news and updates go to: whentwoworldscollide.com

Opening Friday, September 16th  at the Laemmle Monica Film Center

Critic’s Pick! A stellar doc…devastating…the rawest vision of capitalism run amok. Epochal moments on the screen.” – Alan Scherstuhl, The Village Voice

“A potent chronicle of the fight between indigenous tribes and government-supported business interests in the Peruvian Amazon.” – Variety

“Potent…harrowing. Startlingly immersive in its immediacy.” – Kenji Fujishima , Paste Magazine

“A tour-de-force…damning…a must-see.” – Manuel Betancourt, Remezcla

“Gripping… serves as a reminder that when it comes to a fight between government-backed business interests and the rights of the people, the official story is rarely the whole story.” – Noel Murray, AV Club

Demon, Producer Olga Szymanska, widow of DEMON director Marcin Wrona

demon-film-posterNewly arrived from England to marry his fiancée Zaneta (Agnieszk Zulewska, Chemo), Peter (Israeli actor Itay Tiran, Lebanon) has been given a gift of her family’s ramshackle country house in rural Poland.  It’s a total fixer-upper, and while inspecting the premises on the eve of the wedding, he falls into a pile of human remains.  The ceremony proceeds, but strange things begin to happen…During the wild reception, Peter begins to come undone, and a dybbuk, the iconic ancient figure from Jewish folklore, takes a toehold in this present-day celebration-for a very particular reason, as it turns out.  Based on noted Polish writer Piotr Rowicki’s play Adherence, DEMON is the final work by Marcin Wrona, who died just as DEMON was set to premiere in Poland, is part absurdist comedy, part love story-that scares, amuses, and charms in equal measure.  Acclaimed at several festivals including New Directors/New Films, the Toronto Film Festival, and Austin Fantastic Fest where it won the Award for Best Horror Feature. Producer Olga Szymanska, widow of DEMON director Marcin Wrona joins us for a conversation on this hauntingly beautiful film.

For news and updates go to: demon.film

Winner: Austin Fantastic Fest, Best Horror Feature, 2015

Winner: Haifa Film Festival, Tobias Spencer Award, 2015

“Wrona keeps everything creepily ambiguous right up to the end, when the foggy dawn breaks and what we have witnessed becomes like a dream within a dream.” – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

“..a unique take on the Jewish legend of the Dybbuk that feels both deeply rooted in cultural nightmares and refreshingly new…“Demon” is stylish and clever from its concept..but it’s the execution that really matters.  There’s a great energy to the piece, from the framing of the visual compositions, to the eerie atmosphere created by the lights hanging from the ceiling of what looks like a barn.  There’s fantastic costume design as well as a lead performance that engages on every level.” — Brian Tallerico, Rogerebert.com

“Crackling, spookily atmospheric, intelligent, sometimes funny ghost story. It builds on family secrets to take on wider social and historical resonance for Poles and Jews.” – Nora Lee Mandel, Film Forward

“A darkly humorous reworking of “The Dybbuk,” with a deftly realized switch that turns that familiar tale of love from beyond the grave into a parable of Polish anti-Semitism in the post-war era….  a black comedy in the vein of “The Exterminating Angel.” — George Robinson, The Jewish Week

August 19, 2016 – Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny, Co-directors Louis Black and Karen Bernstein

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Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny takes the viewer from the Academy Awards for the acclaimed, Boyhood, and an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Linklater’s latest film, Everybody Wants Some. Throughout the film, Richard Linklater himself addresses his own life at mid-career point, at times while embarrassed and shy. He tells of the influential array of filmmakers, playwrights and criminals that continue to form his own independent work, and the philosophical modalities which have guided the path; all in conversation with Louis Black, an Austin-based journalist who has known him since the 1980’s. Other interviews include Ethan Hawke, Jack Black, Jonathan Demme, Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Adair and Julie Delpy, members of the Linklater family, Clark Walker and more. Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny was produced for PBS’ American Masters series is an unusual look at a fiercely independent style of filmmaking that arose from Austin, Texas in the 1980s/ early 90’s.  It is an unconventional look at how Linklater’s films of that period, Slacker, Dazed and Confused and Before Sunrise, sparked a low budget, in your own backyard movement in this country and around the world. Co-directors and co-producers Louis Black and Karen Bernstein joins us for a spirited conversation on what makes Richard run, the early days of the Austin film scene and how Linklater has influenced and mentored many of the independent film world’s brightest talents.

For news and updates go to: linklaterdoc.com

“It’s shamelessly partial but also warmly pleasurable, partly because Mr. Linklater is an engaging and humble conversationalist who moves easily to the beat of his own soundtrack.” – Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times

“A documentary portrait of the director of ‘Boyhood’ and ‘Dazed and Confused’ is full of revealing offscreen footage as well as a pinpoint feeling for the filmmaker’s visionary humanism.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“Warm, familial and unhurried portrait of the great Austin auteur provides a good overview of an underappreciated director’s work and unusual approach.” – Chris Barsanti, Film Journal International

“Black and Bernstein understand what it is that makes Linklater so curious, and in chronicling his career in such a clear and entertaining way, they’ve put together a worthwhile and winning portrait of a very special filmmaker.” – Adam Chitwood, Collider

Hooligan Sparrow, Director Nanfu Wang

Hooligan Sparrow film poster IThe danger is palpable as intrepid young filmmaker Nanfu Wang follows maverick activist Ye Haiyan (a.k.a Hooligan Sparrow) and her band of colleagues to Hainan Province in southern China to protest the case of six elementary school girls who were sexually abused by their principal. Marked as enemies of the state, the activists are under constant government surveillance and face interrogation, harassment, and imprisonment. Sparrow, who gained notoriety with her advocacy work for sex workers’ rights, continues to champion girls’ and women’s rights and arms herself with the power and reach of social media. Filmmaker Wang becomes a target along with Sparrow, as she faces destroyed cameras and intimidation. Yet she bravely and tenaciously keeps shooting, guerrilla-style, with secret recording devices and hidden-camera glasses, and in the process, she exposes a startling number of undercover security agents on the streets. Eventually, through smuggling footage out of the country, Wang is able tell the story of her journey with the extraordinary revolutionary Sparrow, her fellow activists, and their seemingly impossible battle for human rights. Director Nanfu Wang stops by for a conversation on her daunting journey to bring this story to light and Ye Haiyan’s bravery in the face of overwhelming obstacles. 

http://hooligansparrow.com/

LA Asian-Pacific Film Festival – Grand Jury Prize

Dallas Film Festival – Silver Heart Award

Sheffield Doc/Fest – Special Jury Prize

International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights – Youth Prize AND Jury Prize

Movies that Matter – Golden Butterfly AND Human Rights Award

Nashville Film Festival – Special Jury Prize for Badass Filmmaking

Ashland Independent – Best Documentary

Greenwich Film Festival – Best Documentary AND Best Social Impact Film

Human Rights Watch NY – Nestor Almendros Award for Courage in Filmmaking

Northwest Fest – Best International Feature

“A whistleblowing documentary made with fearless guerrilla cunning …” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“Other movies have more powerfully exposed the corruption of contemporary China, but few have so articulately confronted how women always seem to be the first citizens to have their wings clipped.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

“[A] tremendous documentary …” – Diana Clark, Village Voice

“This is independent filmmaking at its most courageous. By keeping faith with her subjects, she put herself at risk, which is beyond admirable.” – Joe Bendel, Epoch Times

March of the Living, Director Jessica Sanders

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MARCH OF THE LIVING tells the story of the last generation of Holocaust survivors traveling to Poland with thousands of teenagers from around the world to revisit the sites of the Holocaust and retrace the Death March from Auschwitz to Birkenau, in a journey of remembrance. Filmed in Brazil, Germany, Poland, Israel and the US, the film tells the moving story of the survivors’ hope of passing down their history and memory of the Holocaust to the next generation. MARCH OF THE LIVING follows survivors and teens from Sao Paulo, Los Angeles and Berlin on an emotional journey as they confront the enormity of the past and the possibility of hope in a visit to Israel on its 60th anniversary. A contemporary and unique look at the Holocaust, the film features striking cinematography of the concentration camps today and images and artifacts never seen. MARCH OF THE LIVING raises questions about Holocaust memory as it relates to genocides worldwide today, and about what will happen when the remaining survivors, now in their 80’s and 90’s, will be gone. MARCH OF THE LIVING director and writer Jessica Sanders joins us to talk about the desire of Holocaust survivors to share their memories and the hope that the world will say once and for all never again to racism, indifference, anti-semitism and injustice.

For news and updates on Jessica Sanders go to: jessicasandersfilm.com

For news and updates on March of the Living go to: www.visitfilms.com

MARCH OF THE LIVING will be available on VOD 
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
on iTunes and Amazon Prime


iTunes Link: https://itunes.apple.com/movie/march-of-the-living/id1111106663

Vimeo On Demand Link: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/marchoftheliving

Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Producer Carthew Neal

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HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE is a zany tale of a defiant city kid, Ricky, raised on hip-hop and foster care, gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family. Equal parts road comedy and rousing adventure story, director Taika Waititi (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, upcoming THOR: RAGNORAK) masterfully weaves lively humor with emotionally honest performances by Sam Neill, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House and Julian Dennison. A hilarious, touching crowd-pleaser, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE reminds us about the journey that growing up is (at any age) and those who help us along the way. Producer Carthew Neal (Tickled, A Band Called Hook Ups) joins us to talk about how Barry Crump’s classic book, Wild Pork and Watercress found its way into the hands of the talented director and writer Taika Waititi and onto the screen.

For news and updates go to: wilderpeople.film

“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” takes a troika of familiar story types – the plucky kid, the crusty geezer, the nurturing bosom – and strips them of cliché.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“Every once in a while, a small, unheralded film comes along, so smart and funny, such a pleasure to experience, you can’t believe your luck. “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is such a film.” – Kenneth Turan, LA Times

“It’s off-beat in all the best ways, has fantastic actors all delivering fantastic performances, and is a uproarious adventure with endless heart.” – CinemaBlend.com

“An oddball and oddly affecting take on two misfits finding their metaphorical partner-in-crime match.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone

The Music of Strangers, Director / Producer Morgan Neville

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THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS: YO-YO MA AND THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE follows an ever-changing lineup of performers drawn from the ensemble’s more than 50 instrumentalists, vocalists, composers, arrangers, visual artists and storytellers as they gather in locations across the world, exploring the ways art can both preserve traditions and shape cultural evolution. Over the past 16 years, an extraordinary group of musicians has come together to celebrate the universal power of music. Named for the ancient trade route linking Asia, Africa and Europe, The Silk Road Ensemble, an international collective created by acclaimed cellist Yo-Yo Ma, exemplifies music’s ability to blur geographical boundaries, blend disparate cultures and inspire hope for both artists and audiences.  Blending performance footage, personal interviews and archival film, Academy Award winning director of 20 FEET FROM STARDOM Morgan Neville (Cool School, Beauty is Embarrassing, Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, Best of Enemies) and producer Caitrin Rogers focus on the journeys of a small group of Silk Road Ensemble mainstays from across the globe to create an intensely personal chronicle of passion, talent and sacrifice.

For news and update go to:themusicofstrangers.film

THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS SPECIAL APPEARANCE: The universal power of music is celebrated in THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS: YO-YO MA AND THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE, opening at The Landmark on Thursday, June 9 at 7:15pm, with daily screenings beginning Friday, June 10. The film’s Oscar-winning director, Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom), will appear in person on Saturday, June 11 for a Q&A after the 7:40pm show; and Monday, June 13 for a Q&A after the 7:40pm show.

**2016 Berlin Film Festival – Special Gala**

**2015 Toronto International Film Festival – Official Selection**

“Neville is keenly aware of how to show the musicians’ kinetic energy onscreen, and he relies on this talent to keep the film consistently alive and moving.” – Tina Hassannia, Rogertebert.com

“Neville is as expert at getting the human stories behind the songs as he is in capturing the music.” – Kenneth Turan, LA Times

“Morgan Neville’s documentary is a joyous revelation, a group portrait of superb musicians from all over the world offering music as an emblem of what people can do in these fractious times when they live in concert with one another.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

The God Cells, Director Eric Merola

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Director Eric Merola’s THE GOD CELLS explores one of the most controversial and polarizing subjects facing mankind today: the harvesting of stem cells from aborted fetuses to be used for therapeutic use. Currently, the clinical practice fetal stem cell therapy is illegal in the United States, but research toward seeking FDA-approval has been underway for more than a decade. Stem Cell research and therapy have been growing at a rapid rate over the past 15 years. Scientific advances coupled with consumer demand has proven that stem cell therapy is the wave of the future, and is poised to change the face of medicine. THE GOD CELLS takes the audience on a journey by following those who are seeking fetal stem cell therapy abroad—while avoiding these seemingly insurmountable roadblocks at home. THE GOD CELLS follows patients from all walks of life who sought fetal stem cells for a variety of reasons: including Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Muscular Dystrophy, Lupus and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Also included are interviews with some of the patients’ doctors, who were once highly skeptical, but now stand baffled by the full remissions their patients have achieved due to fetal stem cells. In addition to THE GOD CELLS  Merola’s other documentaries, Burzynski (2010-2013), and Second Opinion have received rave reviews by the mainstream press with the New York Daily News saying: “Though a documentary, it’s dramatic enough to be reminiscent of ‘The Insider,’ the whistleblowing thriller about Big Tobacco.” Director Merola stops by to talk about many of the religious, scientific, cultural, financial and political reasons this very promising therapy will have to overturn to become a viable option for people in need.

For news and updates go to: stemcellsmovie.com

Puts heartbreaking faces of very human people into the [stem cell] debate.” – Frank Lovece, Film Journal International

Remains intriguing despite its troublesome issues.“ – Michael Rechtshaffen, LA Times

“The film relies solely on patient testimony to argue for the legalization of the injections. But what it lacks in comprehensive research, it makes up for in fascinating rhetoric. – Amy Brady, Village Voice

The Idol, Director Hany Abu-Assad

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“The Idol” is two-time Academy Award nominated Director Hany 
Abu-Assad’s new film. Hany is only one of three foreign language 
filmmakers nominated for two Oscars in this century! “The Idol” which World Premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival is an inspirational, upbeat, crowd-pleasing change-of-pace based on the true story of the young man who escaped from Gaza into Egypt (and finally Lebanon) for a chance to be crowned Arab Idol champion. To so many with conflict, destruction and despair but to Mohammed Assaf, and his sister Nour, Gaza is their home and their playground. It’s where they, along with their best friends Ahmad and Omar, play music, football and dare to dream big.  For Mohammed and Nour, nothing less than playing the world famous Cairo Opera Hall will do. It might take them a lifetime to get there but, as Mohammed will find out, some dreams are worth living for. Along the way, Mohammed will experience tragedy and loss. The world around him will shatter. Mohammed knows he has a rare gift. Mohammed auditions for Arab Idol, the most popular show in the Arab world, are taking place in Cairo. Somehow, he finds a way and makes it in front of the judges in Egypt. From there, destiny awaits, a chance to change his life and give a voiceless people the greatest feeling of all: the freedom to love, live and feel free. Director and writer Hany Abu-Assad joins us for a conversation on the challenges and rewards of bringing this revelatory story to life.

For news and updates go to: adoptfilms.com/the-idol

“Mr. Abu-Assad, who wrote the script with Sameh Zoabi, mounts an idealistic appreciation of music as a way of bridging boundaries through a unifying appeal to beauty, gliding past differences in the soulful pleasure of song.” – New York Time

“It’s about art overcoming setbacks and bringing happiness to a region beset by troubles, the sort of cheerful story that speaks a universal language to any audience.” – Minneapolis Star

“Assaf’s 2013 Arab Idol victory occurred around the time the campaign in this week’s Weiner began, and both are recent period pieces about how the media can influence politics, for good and ill. The Idol ends on a far more hopeful note, to put it mildly.” – SF Weekly

Margarita with a Straw, Director Shonali Bose

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In Margarita with a Straw Indian writer/director Shonali Bose beautifully portrays the story of a luminous Indian teenager with cerebral palsy who leaves her homeland to study in New York, falls in love with a young blind woman, and begins a remarkable journey to self-discovery and independence.  Bose was inspired to write this humane story by her cousin’s experience with cerebral palsy. Margarita with a Straw features award-winning performances from some of India’s most acclaimed actors, including Kalki Koechlin as Laila in a remarkable and life affirming portrayal.  Margarita with a Straw is told with insight and humor.  Director Shonali Bose joins us for a conversation on censorship, changing perceptions within her home country of India on same sex relations and how her own life experience inspired the making of this warm hearted film.

Official Facebook page for Margarita with a Straw

For news and updates go to: margarita-with-a-straw

Margarita, With a Straw California is opening on May 20th at:

LOS ANGELES. Arena Theater in Hollywood. Arena Cinema in Hollywood

On Friday May 20 there is a pre-screening reception at 7pm and a Q&A with Director Shonali Bose following the 7:40pm show. Join her for Q&A’s after the following showtimes: Sat 4 pm, Sun 5 25pm.

“MARGARITA WITH A STRAW is an unexpected delight of charm and substance.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety

“An acting triumph. Kalki is amazing . . . her spirit flying as she tastes the delights and dilemmas, from crushes to creative pushes, of a college student’s life.” – Times of India

“A coming-of-age tale that treats its subject with the sensitivity it deserves …” – The Huffington Post

“Emotionally direct study of disability and sexuality… Big issues handled with dignity.” – The Guardian

Almost Holy, Director Steve Hoover

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ALMOST HOLY follows Pastor Gennadiy Mokhnenko as he attempts to rescue homeless and drug-addicted Ukrainian youth, utilizing highly controversial “tough love” methods in which he forcibly abducts street kids.  A powerful portrait of a unorthodox folk hero, the film serves as a eye-opening look into Ukraine’s rapidly evolving social and political reality. The critically acclaimed sophomore feature documentary from director Steve Hoover (Sundance Grand Jury and Audience Award winner Blood Brother) is executive produced by Terrence Malick and features a score by Atticus Ross (Gone Girl, The Social Network). The film premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. Director Steve Hoover stops by to talk about a courageous man on a crusade to impact the live and the surroundings of the most vulnerable.

For news and updates go to: almostholyfilm.com

Almost Holy opens May 20th at the Los Angeles – Sundance Sunset 5
Q&A with the subject, Gennadiy Mokhnenko, following the 7:00pm screening on Friday and Saturday.

“Almost Holy” captures something meaningfully urgent in the brutal day-to-day of tough love amid a world of tougher indifference. – LA Times

Almost Holy has the feel of following an embedded journalist on one of those raw, ground-level views of a problem you’d never considered before but now, by virtue of good reporting, feels urgent and alive. – Village Voice

There have been numerous criticisms of Mokhnenko’s tactics over the years… But one has to wonder: if Hoover’s side shows a man striving to ensure that children no longer die in the streets from drug addiction, who’s on the other side? – IndieWire

Bridgend – Director Jeppe Rønde’s

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BRIDGEND premiered at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, winning 3 of the 6 main awards – Best Actress, Best Cinematography and Best Editing. Based on a real life, mysterious teenage suicide cluster that took place in a former coal mining province in Wales, filmmaker Jeppe Rønde followed teenagers in the area for six years, and wrote the narrative script based on their life stories. Shot entirely on location in Wales, many of the local teenagers act in the film as well. Deftly structured around young heroine Sara (an award-winning performance from Hannah Murray from UK’s Skins and Gilly on Game of Thrones), the film paints a sensitive exploration of natural adolescent confusion, romanticism, and sadness, set amidst rugged natural landscapes and spectacular cinematography. This is filmmaker Jeppe Rønde’s fiction film debut. Director Jeppe Rønde joins us to talk about his haunting and mysterious tale of lost youth and intense love.

Bridgend is being released theatrically as well as through the stream service FANDOR

To sign up and watch Bridgend go to: fandor.com/

“Hannah Murray is excellent! This is ripped-from-the-headlines cinema reformulated as real-world horror film, with a shivery stylistic nod to the crime drama of Rønde’s homeland.”  – Variety

“Haunting! (Hanna) Murray’s Tribeca win for Best Actress is well deserved. A provocative film that eventually blazes to a searing finish.” – The Playlist

“15 Must-See Movies at Tribeca Film Festival 2015. While the movie could have played the story for cheap creeps, (Filmmaker) Ronde instead puts a sharp focus on how its heroine’s natural adolescent confusion, romanticism and sadness are magnified by the continuing loss of her peers.” – Rolling Stone

“Throughout, (Filmmaker) Ronde’s visuals are intense and exhilarating.” – Screen Daily

Elstree 1976, Director / Writer Jon Spira

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ELSTREE 1976 explores the lives of the actors and extras behind one of the most celebrated science fiction films in cinematic history: STAR WARS. A captivating look at the unheralded stars of George Lucas’s original film – from the man behind film’s most iconic villain, to the actor whose character was completely cut from the final film – the documentary delves into the eccentric community these individuals have formed and how the Star Wars franchise – which spans five decades from A NEW HOPE to THE FORCE AWAKENS –  from Millennium Falcon Pilots to uncredited Temple Guards to Darth Vader himself, ELSTREE 1976 shows the profound impact that STAR WARS had on all involved, no matter the role. Director and writer Jon Spira joins us to talk about his own journey into their world.

For news and updates go to: filmrise.com/elstree-1976/

** New York Times Critics Pick

** LA Times Critics Pick

“A sweet, quietly funny, fascinating and contemplative study of 10 character actors and extras, none of whom had any idea back in the 1970s they’d forever be defined by the one or two days they spent on the set of a sci-fi movie.” – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun Times

“In telling a small story of bit players, the director, Jon Spira, captures a more universal picture of the droplets of fame created by a pop-culture tidal wave.” – Neil Genzlinger, New York Times

“It finds a way of proving valuable not just to fans, but to Force agnostics as well.” – Oliver Lyttelton, The Playlist