Boys State, Co-directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss

Since 1935 the American Legion has sponsored a program for teenagers to learn about democracy and civil discourse through a week-long engagement in self-governance. The sensational winner of the Grand Jury Prize for documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Boys State” is a wildly entertaining and continually revealing immersion into a week-long annual program in which a thousand Texas high school seniors gather for an elaborate mock exercise: building their own state government. Filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine closely track the escalating tensions that arise within a particularly riveting gubernatorial race, training their cameras on unforgettable teenagers like Ben, a Reagan-loving arch-conservative who brims with confidence despite personal setbacks, and Steven, a progressive-minded child of Mexican immigrants who stands by his convictions amidst the sea of red. In the process, they have created a complex portrait of contemporary American masculinity, as well as a microcosm of our often dispiriting national political divisions that nevertheless manages to plant seeds of hope. Co-directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss joins us for a conversation on chronicling the rough and tumble world of 1,000 aspiring politicians and how some of them shattered expectations,  emerging as the potential leaders for a more harmonious future.

 

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For news, and updates go to : tv.apple.com/us/movie/boys-state

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“The punchiest doc of the year focuses on an annual leadership conference in which teen boys prove they can run a government better than the old farts doing it now. This wake-up call promises a change in the air. And it’s exhilarating.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“Some of these boys are already as hard-faced and cynical as velociraptors. Some are gentle and sweet natured. Some are even shown changing their minds. It’s an amazing spectacle.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

“This extraordinary portrait of a democratic process in microcosm is both a testament to how Washington, D.C. and the rest of the country could achieve bipartisanship as well as a look at what has led to such a fractured political system.” – Jordan Raup, The Film Stage

“There are so many laughs, and so many telling and relatable moments, and so many fascinating, colorful characters here, Boys State is utterly mesmerizing.” – Tasha Robinson, Polygon

For news, and updates go to : tv.apple.com/us/movie/boys-state

Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn, Director Muta ‘Ali

YUSUF HAWKINS: STORM OVER BROOKLYN, directed by Muta’Ali Muhammad (“Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee”) and debuting on HBO Wednesday, August 12 tells the story of Yusuf Hawkins, a black teenager who was murdered in 1989 by a group of young white men in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Yusuf Hawkins’ death and the official response to it sparked outrage in New York, unleashing a torrent of racial tension and spurring tireless civil rights activism that exposed deep racial prejudices and inequities which continue to plague the country today. Over 30 years later, New Yorkers, including Yusuf’s family and friends, reflect on the tragedy and the subsequent fight for justice that inspired and divided New York City. YUSUF HAWKINS: STORM OVER BROOKLYN utilizes archival footage and photos, witness statements, news footage, in addition to candid interviews with Yusuf’s mother, Diane; brothers, Freddy and Amir; cousins, Darlene and Felicia Brown; and friend Christopher Graham and the two friends with him during the attack, Luther Sylvester and Bensonhurst native Russell Gibbons. A harrowing account of an immutable part of the city’s history, and of a family coping with profound grief deepened by injustice, YUSUF HAWKINS: STORM OVER BROOKLYN details how the senseless murder that shook the foundation of the city shed light on deep racial divisions and inequity. Yusuf’s death and the demands of his family and community had political ramifications that contributed to the ousting of New York Mayor Ed Koch in favor of David Dinkins, the city’s first and only black Mayor. Director Muta’Ali Muhammad joins us to talk about how the murder of Yusuf Hawkins pulled back the curtain on the racism, both past a present can rear its head anywhere in America, even in a city thought to be a bastion of racial tolerance.

 

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For news and screenings go to: hbo.com/yusuf-hawkins-storm-over-brooklyn

About the filmmaker: Muta’Ali is an award-winning film director from Westchester County, NY. His latest feature documentary “Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn” airs on HBO this August 12th at 9PM. His past documentary films include the award-winning “Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee”, which featured notable guests including Harry Belafonte, Alan Alda, and Spike Lee. Muta’Ali is determined that his artistic body of work be wholly focussed on what he calls “Love, Art & Activism”. For more on Muta’ Ali go to:mutaali.com

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“Muta’Ali Muhammad’s documentary focuses on a pivotal time in New York City’s history and includes an impressive set of interviews with many of those connected to the event, its consequences and Hawkins’ legacy.” – Dwight Brown, National Newspaper Publishing Association

The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World, Co-directors Becky Paige and Tom Ratcliffe

It is one of the most iconic images of our time: two African-American medal winners at the 1968 Olympics standing in silent protest with heads bowed and fists raised as “The Star Spangled Banner” is played.  Fifty years later, that singular event remains deeply inspiring, controversial and even misunderstood as one of the most overtly political statement in the annals of sport. The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World is a revealing exploration into the circumstances that led runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos to that historic moment at the Mexico City Games, mining the great personal risks they took and the subsequent fallout they endured. Through intimate interviews with the participants and witnesses involved in that moment, along with compelling images and archive, the film explores the 1968 Olympics human rights stand in the context of a critically important and volatile time for the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. While The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World documents this lasting moment in American history, The Stand also remains faithful to what was, for athletes and millions of Olympic fans around the world, a riveting 200-meter footrace between the fastest runners of the day, young people in their athletic prime striving to be the best on one October day in Mexico City. The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World also features high jumper Ralph Boston, sprinter Mel Pender, crew member Paul Hoffman, silver medalist Peter Norman and Professor Harry Edwards. Filmmakers Tom Ratcliffe and Becky Paige (Bannister: Everest on the Track) join us to talk about the story behind a legendary act that echoes to this day.

 

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For news and updates go to: junofilms.com/the-stand

The Fight, Co-director Eli Despres (Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman)

From the team that directed the jaw-dropping, award winning documentary on the life and mayoral campaign of former congressman Anthony Wiener (Weiner) comes THE FIGHT. Only days after the 2017 inauguration of Donald Trump, furious Americans gathered at airports across the country in protest of the Muslim ban. But it was the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union, waging the fight in federal court, that turned the tide, staying the executive order on grounds of unconstitutionality. The ACLU has never granted access to its offices, even as its battles—on the fronts of abortion rights, immigration rights, LGBT rights and voting rights —have become more timely and momentous than ever. Rousing, inspiring and slyly humorous, their THE FIGHT follows four seismically important cases and a handful of magnetic attorneys. These lawyers may not know how to charge a cell phone or operate a stand-up desk but have persuaded Supreme Court Justices, beating back serious encroachments upon our freedoms. An antidote to endless news cycles filled with tweet tantrums, THE FIGHT inspires with the story of front-line warriors in the battle for the American soul. Co-director Eli Despres (Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman) joins us to talk about this entertaining, fast-paced, and highly engaging peek behind the curtain of the self-effacing attorneys and their support team as they scramble to maintain and bolster many of the most substantive constitutional protections under constant assault.

 

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For news and updates go to: fightthefilm.com

The Fight is available for viewing at: fightthefilm.com/watch-at-home

The Fight is available for viewing at: fightthefilm.com/watch-at-home

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WINNER – U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award forSocial Impact Filmmaking – Sundance 2020

“Inspiring, infuriating, and unbounded. Filled with raw emotion and real world immediacy.”Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“A celebration of the lawyers on the front lines in the Trump age. Captures the intense emotion of the moment.”Beandrea July, The Hollywood Reporter

“A powerful, necessary, and illuminating look at the ACLU as it tries to navigate the age of Trump’s presidency” – Jason Gorber, POV Magazine

“In a moment divided into heroes and villains, there’s an urge for the film to go deeper into how, exactly, these lawyers use the Constitution as a cape.” – Amy Nicholson, Variety

“A gorgeous, enraging, and uplifting film.”Chris Hayes, MSNBC

Flannery, Co-directors Elizabeth Coffman and Mark Bosco

Winner of the first-ever Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, Elizabeth Coffman and Mark Bosco’s documentary FLANNERY is the lyrical, intimate exploration of the life and work of author Flannery O’Connor, whose distinctive style influenced a generation of artists. A devout Catholic who collected peacocks and walked with crutches (due to a diagnosis of lupus that would take her life before the age of 40), O’Connor’s provocative, award-winning fiction about Southern prophets, girls with wooden legs, and intersex “freaks” was unlike anything published before (or since). Over the course of her short-lived but prolific writing career (two novels, 32 short stories and numerous essays and lectures), O’Connor never shied away from examining timely themes of racism, religion, socio-economic disparity, and more with her characteristic wit and irony. Including conversations with those who knew her and those inspired by her (Mary Karr, Hilton Als, Tommy Lee Jones, Lucinda Williams, and more), FLANNERY employs never-before-seen archival footage, newly discovered personal letters and her own published words (read by Mary Steenburgen) alongside original animations and music to examine the life and legacy of an American literary icon. Co-director Elizabeth Coffman and Mark Bosco join us to talk about the life and work of a writer and cartoonist who’s trenchant worldview and powers of observation provided her stories with a window into the soul of subjects that resonates to this day.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: flanneryfilm.com

*Flannery O’Connor was recently the subject of a provocative article by Paul Elie in The New Yorker, in which he quotes personal letters, and other writings, to question her attitudes on race. This is certainly a contentious and timely issue. We also note that earlier this month, The New York Times critic Wesley Morris named her 1965 short story, “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” as an example of “Art That Confronts and Challenges Racism.”

The Modern Consciousness: A FLANNERY Discussion Series, a four-part weekly series of virtual panel discussions on O’Connor’s legacy, will be presented concurrent with the run, with a new discussion every Monday from July 20 – August 10. Each part will cover a different topic (race, faith, disability, and craft). More details TBA.

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“‘Flannery’ is an extraordinary documentary that allows us to follow the creative process of one of our country’s greatest writers.” — Ken Burns, Oscar-nominated Documentarian

“A lively and insightful documentary that explores the troubled life and unblinking writing of Flannery O’Connor.” – Christopher Lloyd, The Film Yap

“If the mission of the filmmakers was to get people interested in reading her works again, they’ve done admirable work.” – Steven Prokopy, Third Coast Review

“Despite having a certain squareness that puts it slightly at odds with its subject, “Flannery” does succeed in its ultimate objective — after watching it, you will want to instantly get a hold of and read as much of Flannery O’Connor’s work as you can.” – Peter Sobczynski, eFilmCritic.com

The 11th Green, Director Christopher Munch

A long-awaited follow up to Munch’s acclaimed 2011 Sundance film Letters From the Big Man, THE 11TH GREEN stars Campbell Scott (House of Cards, Roger Dodger) as a journalist who uncovers the truth behind the mythology of President Eisenhower’s long-alleged involvement in extraterrestrial events. Rife with hidden government secrets and Matrix-like mind-benders, THE 11TH GREEN is grounded in what is widely believed to be the nuts-and-bolts core story of post-war U.S. military and government involvement with UFOs. In this way, the film sketches a possible backdrop to recent revelations in the mainstream media (eg, the New York Times and Washington Post) and subsequent declassification of certain U.S. military interactions with UFOs. Thought-provoking but understated, filled with sharply drawn characters, stark desert landscapes, and leaps across the space-time continuum, THE 11TH GREEN is challenging cinema that generates questions, discussion, and debate long after the credits roll. The film’s distinguished cast also includes Agnes Bruckner (Blood and Chocolate, Blue Car), Ian Hart (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Backbeat), April Grace (Magnolia, Joker), Tom Stokes (The Railway Man, Wasted On the Young), David Clennon (Being There, The Thing), Monte Markham (Mr. Deed Goes to Town, Dallas), and Currie Graham (NYPD Blue, Project Blue Book). Groundbreaking American auteur Christopher Munch (director of The Sleepy Time Gal and the recently restored indie classic The Hours and Times) joins us to talk about his many-layered drama and the talented cast he assembled to breathe life into it.

 

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For news and updates go to: christophermunch.com

To watch the film go to: theatricalathome.com/the-11th-green

*** Special Event *** In celebration and support of its current virtual cinema release via the “Theatrical-At-Home” program (and in select traditional venues), the team behind the critically acclaimed sci-fi drama THE 11TH GREEN will unite together for a special Q & A event . This event will help theatres currently presenting the film to offer their audience more of the traditional filmgoing experience. The special event will take place on Monday, July 20 that 4:00 P.M. PST / 7:00 P.M. EST (check online for your correct time zone). The Q & A will feature writer-director Christopher Munch plus stars Campbell Scott and George Gerdes, moderated by the film’s editor Curtiss Clayton. Audience members attending the virtual Q and A will have the chance to submit questions to the team, as if they were attending an in-person event.

About the filmmaker: Christopher Munch’s feature, the wilder­ness drama Letters from the Big Man (2011), was a New York Times Critics’ Pick and featured a lauded central performance by Lily Rabe. Five of his features have played at Sundance, and his first, The Hours and Times (1992), a speculative biopic about Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, won a special jury prize there. An impossible dream was the overarching theme of Munch’s sec­ond feature, the period landscape drama Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day (1996), based on the true story of a young trolley mechanic who tries to save a doomed short-line railroad to Yosemite National Park. Munch then undertook the sprawling, unconventional mother-daughter story The Sleepy Time Gal (2002), which Kevin Thomas in the Los Angeles Times wrote “has a depth, range and subtlety far greater than most American films” and which David Ansen of Newsweek upon its release stated was Jacqueline Bisset’s “finest performance.” Munch followed this with another unconventional family dissection,  Harry and Max (2004), about two pop star brothers.  He is a past Guggenheim  fellow, recipient of the Wolfgang Staudte Prize at Berlin, winner of two Independent Spirit Awards, including the “Someone To Watch” Award, and has been featured in two Whitney Biennial exhibitions. He has received competitive awards from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (for science in film), Creative Capital Foundation, The American Film Institute, The Merchant and Ivory Foundation, and others. christophermunch.com

“The bottom line: a thoughtful and compelling what-if starring a never-better Campbell Scott. . . . A bracing example of Munch’s fearless knack for casting a new light on official stories. . . . that information unwinds with a provocative and illuminating slant, and in combination with the film’s eccentric mix of genres, time periods and SoCal desert atmosphere, it makes for a heady revisionist saga. . . . For all the story’s machinations and dark doings, The 11th Green is concerned not with narrowly defined party politics but the power of cabals, and the relative powerlessness of figureheads. . . . [I]n its precision and poetry, the language is alive, and Munch gives each character a distinctive voice.”Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter

“Wildly inventive . . . a work of meticulous historical reimagination. . . . With tight-lipped restraint, Munch giddily tweaks the past seventy-five years of political assumptions and the very concept of life on Earth.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker

Mr. Jones, Director Agnieszka Holland

Oscar nominated filmmaker Agnieszka Holland’s thriller, MR. JONES, set on the eve of WWII, sees Hitler’s rise to power and Stalin’s Soviet propaganda machine pushing their “utopia” to the Western world. Meanwhile an ambitious young journalist, Gareth Jones (James Norton) becomes famous after publishing an article about his ride on an airplane with the new Chancellor of Germany – Adolph Hitler. Jones uses his political position in the British government as a foreign affairs advisor to David Lloyd George to get privileged access to the Soviet Union. Once there he searches for his next big story, scrutinizing the political and economic situation in Russia. Jones soon learns of government-induced hunger program, known as Holodomor, imposed on the Ukrainian people. The Soviets, with the help of the British and American governments, keep the starvation of 4 to 5 million people mostly secret. Jones efforts to uncover the truth behind the propaganda and expose an international conspiracy could cost him and his informant their lives. Jones goes on a life-or-death journey to uncover the truth behind the façade that would later inspire George Orwell’s seminal book Animal Farm. Director Agnieszka Holland joins us for a lively conversation on the little known story of mass slaughter prior to the onset one World War II and the craven rationale by the Western Powers willing to look the other way as millions of innocent people perished.

 

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For news, updates and screenings go to: samuelgoldwynfilms.com/mr-jones

Watch on Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Vudu and Fandango Now

Writer’s Statement: “It was for my grandfather, Olexji, and the countless others who suffered under the Soviet regime that I wrote and produced this film. The idea first came to me in my final year of university and followed me to Ukraine after college and to a road trip through Wales shortly before my wedding, and many research trips for several years after. I wanted to tell a story that would honor the millions of victims of Stalin, who has been resurrected under Putinism as a great hero, and expose how Kremlin propaganda works – sometimes with the help of corrupt Western journalists and political leaders. Fifteen years ago, I never imagined this film would be relevant. It was always my intention to unearth buried history not hold up a mirror to our own times. As surreal as this journey has been against the backdrop of growing authoritarianism around the world, I have been heartened by how our story has brought together so many talented, fearless people determined to fight for the truth. Agnieszka, who survived prison under Soviet occupation and lost loved ones to the regime, put so much of herself into this masterpiece. Never could I have written in detail the rich wonderland that she created on screen, poetically guiding the audience through an adventure, while giving greater context to the challenges the world faces today. It has been a testament of faith that this film came together with these brave artists, and the timing for its release could not be more urgent.” – Writer Andrea Chalupa

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