ASTRAL is the story of a son coming to terms with the explanation of his mother’s untimely death. Searching for answers, Alex turns to spiritual contact after the relationship with his father breaks down. As a student of metaphysics, Alex learns of the “scientific” premise of astral projection-the ability to project your spirit into an unseen spatial dimension. Attempting to astral project, Alex becomes plagued by shadow spirits-malevolent entities vying to enter his body to access our world. Alex soon learns that he is not the only member of his family to have been besieged by such beings, as his mother’s dark past is brought to his attention. ASTRAL was co-written by Chris and Michael Mul and is Chris Mul’s directorial debut. The film stars Frank Dillane (FEAR THE WALKING DEAD) and features a bright up-and-coming cast of young actors. Vertical Entertainment will release ASTRAL in a multi-city theatrical release with markets including LA and NY among others on November 23. The film will also be made available on digital platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, Fandango Now, Direct TV, Dish Network and through local cable providers. Director and co-writer Chris Mul (Michael Mul) joins us to talk about shooting his slick and stylish psychological thriller on an insanely tight production schedule while trying to optimize the performances from talented cast of young actors.
In her latest project,SNAPSHOTS, legendary actor Piper Laurie plays family matriarch Rose.. The story will resonate with every person who has lived through the complexity of family relationships, It reminds us that if we are loved no secret is too difficult to hear and accept. Or is it? Rose (Gran) is the matriarch. She has lived in this house for over fifty years. She and her deceased husband Joe raised their daughter Patty in this home. Patty, now a widow in her early 50’s, lives in St. Louis. Each year Patty and her newly married daughter Allison spend a laughter filled girl’s weekend with Gran. This year will be different. Piper Laurie joins us for a conversation on the making of her latest project (Snapshots) in a legendary film career that includes three Academy Award nominated performances (The Hustler, Carrie, Children of a Lesser God) and an Emmy nomination for David Lynch’s groundbreaking television serial (Twin Peaks).
“Performances all around are strong, with Piper Laurie’s Rose taking the lead and directing us through the story’s narrative. We are invited to soak in the retro atmosphere as the story unfolds at a leisurely pace.” – Paul Parcellin, Film Threat
In the deserted hills of an Indonesian island, Marlina, a young widow, is attacked and robbed of all her livestock by a gang of seven bandits. She then defends herself, setting out on a journey to find justice, empowerment, retribution and redemption. But the road is long, especially when she begins to be haunted by the ghost of her victim. A stunning ‘Scope western set to a Morricone-inspired score, this unique tale of female cinematic revenge takes no prisoners. Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts, was directed by Indonesian-born Mouly Surya. This feminist revenge tale had its world premiere at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight. It opens nationwide, including Los Angeles at the Laemmle’s Monica Film Center on July 6, 2018. Mouly Surya is considered one of Indonesia’s most gifted filmmakers, Surya premiered her award-winning debut, Fiksi, at the Busan International FIlm Festival. Her second feature What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love had its world premiere at Sundance and went on to many festivals including Karlovy Vary and Rotterdam, where it received the NETPAC Award. In addition to making films, she also teaches directing. Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts, is her third film. Mouly Surya joins us to talk about her elegant allegory on revenge, justice and self-determination.
Selected Awards & Film Festivals
Winner, Grand Prize, Tokyo FilmEX
Winner, Best Actress, Sitges Cataonian Film Festival
Winner, Best Picture, QCinema International Film Festival
Winner, Special Mention, Jogja-NETPAC Asian Film Festival
Winner, NETPAC Award, Five Flavors Film Festival
Winner, Best Film, Best Actress, Best Camera,
Best Score and Best Art Direction, Maya Awards
Cannes International Film Festival
97% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Simmering with righteous fury.” — Variety
“AN UNWAVERING SLOW BURN… Ms. Surya gives Marlina a stark, steady, captivating look that keeps you engaged.” —Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“[Marlina] is, like so many classic gunslingers, a killer by circumstance, a desperado with an honorable cause.” – CinemaScope
“The feminist satay Western you need to see; satisfyingly deadpan, viciously vengeful and full of surprises. One of the most ravishingly beautiful films at Cannes.” – The Irish Times
“Going to be loved by arthouse audiences.” – Film Inquiry
UNDER THE TREE is a dark comedy based on real conflicts between neighbors that can often turn violent over trees (yes trees) in Iceland. There is a scarcity of trees in Iceland (which is why they are so treasured) and also a lack of sunshine….so you can see how a conflict would arise when a tree you’d never chop down in your backyard is blocking your neighbor’s sunlight. The films’ director Sigurdsson said he came up with idea when examining how minor conflicts between otherwise friendly neighbors become blown out of proportion and violent. UNDER THE TREE was Iceland’s Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards last year. The film was directed by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurdsson (Either Way) and produced by Grimar Jonsson. Hafsteinn joins us to talk about working with actors primarily known for comedic roles, conveying the film’s escalating tension without passing judgement on the characters actions.
85% on Rotten Tomatoes
“The tone is deliberately odd … blending the naturalism of the day-to-day emotions of relationships and grief, with the altogether more heightened tensions of a revenge thriller, while still keeping a cheeky eye on the absurdity of a mooning garden gnome” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film
“Unsettlingly perceptive as well as absurdly comedic, Under the Tree chronicles domestic tensions left to fester; when grudges branch out like a leafy tree in a suburban backyard, everyone suffers.” – Sarah Ward, Screen International
“What the film occasionally lacks in human finesse, it makes up for in sheer anything-goes resolve.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“Each character resonates as a problematic individual whose foolishness escalates first into drama, then tragedy.” – Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
Official Selection: World Premiere: Venice Film Festival 2017
Official Selection: North American premiere: Toronto International Film Festival 2017
Winner: Best Director (Comedy), Fantastic Fest 2017
Winner: Best Film, Denver International Film Festival 2017
Winner: International Feature Film, Zurich Film Festival 2017
Winner: Best Narrative Feature, Hamptons International film Festival 2017
Winner: Best Cinematography, Dublin Film Critics Circle Awards 2018
Winner: Best Music, HARPA Nordic Film Composers Award 2016
Impulse follows 16-year-old Henrietta, AKA Henry, (Maddie Hasson) who discovers she has the ability to teleport. The first time she realizes this, she is in a truck with her high school’s Golden Boy, who tries to rape her. She has a seizure and teleports, in the course of which she inadvertently crushes him, leaving him a paraplegic. Impulse explores Henry’s need to reconcile what her assaulter tried to do with the consequence, and her feelings about discovering she can teleport with her feelings about the assault. Impulse is an American drama web television series based on the novel Impulse by Steven Gould. The ten-episode series recently premiered on YouTube Premium. The series executive producers include Lauren LeFranc, Doug Liman, David Bartis, and GeneKlein. Director and Executive Producer Doug Liman reveals how his independent filmmaking roots (Swingers, Go) continues influence his work and the advantages of long form storytelling. Actor Maddie Hasson talks about the challenge of expressing her character’s deeply conflicted emotions and her desire leave it all behind.
“‘Impulse’ is smart enough to give the other adult characters, such as Cleo and Tom, some meaningful emotional beats of their own.” – Mark A. Perigard, Boston Herald
“The focus is Henry’s journey, however complicated and messy. Impulse takes care to make it feel real.” – Audra Schroeder, The Daily Dot
“Impulse doesn’t take the conventional route for a show with immense powers. In uncharted territory, it’s a show that’s finding its way.” – Steve Greene, IndieWire
“Intense, downbeat teen superhero series deals with assault.” – Joyce Slayton, Common Sense Media
Visual Communications, the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, announced its outstanding program of films and events for the upcoming 34th edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) running MAY 3 – MAY 12, 2018. The all encompassing annual film celebration is presented across Los Angeles in West Hollywood, Downtown LA, Little Tokyo, Koreatown, and Hollywood. Visual Communications proudly celebrates the Film Festival’s 34 years as Southern California’s largest and most prestigious film festival of its kind. LAAPFF launches the celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month through this year’s slate of over 100 films from both Asian Pacific American and Asian international artists. For over three decades, the Festival has presented nearly 5,000 films by Asian Pacific American and Asian International talent. This year, 39 feature films and 79 shorts from the over 800 submissions will be showcased during the ten-day fest. The Festival opens with the Los Angeles premiere of Aneesh Chaganty’s feature debut SEARCHING starring John Cho and Debra Messing giving audiences an early chance to see the movie that took the NEXT audience award and the Alfred P. Sloan award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Other programs include CENTERPIECE FILMS will feature two outstanding world premieres with IN THE LIFE OF MUSIC and FICTION & OTHER REALITIES. Centerpiece Films will be presented on Saturday, May 5th at the Aratani Theatre at the Japanese American Community and Cultural Center (JACCC) in Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles. The CLOSING NIGHT FILM will be the Los Angeles premiere of the acclaimed 2018 Sundance World Documentary Special Jury Award winner MATANGI/ MAYA/ M.I.A., directed by Stephen Loveridge. Inspired by her roots, M.I.A. created a mashup, cut-and-paste identity that pulled from every corner of her journey; a sonic sketchbook that blended Tamil politics, art school punk, hip-hop beats and the voice of multicultural youth. Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Co-Director David Magdael will join us to talk about this years’s exciting festival line up.
Following their Lovecraftian modern cult classic SPRING, acclaimed filmmakers Moorhead and Benson return with this mind-bending thriller that follows two brothers who receive a cryptic video message inspiring them to revisit the UFO death cult they escaped a decade earlier. Hoping to find the closure that they couldn’t as young men, they’re forced to reconsider the cult’s beliefs when confronted with unexplainable phenomena surrounding the camp. As the members prepare for the coming of a mysterious event, the brothers race to unravel the seemingly impossible truth before their lives become permanently entangled with the cult. Co-director Justin Benson (Aaron Moorhead) stops by to talk about this remarkably accomplished, mind-bending cinematic journey into the unknowable.
The Endless on Social Media:
96% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“The Endless isn’t just terrific – it’s poised to be that breakout genre hit that It Follows and The Babadook were in past years. ” – Jamie Righetti, /FILM
“Unique, mind-bending delights…Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson are wizards of ingenuity ” Peter Debruge, VARIETY
“The Endless will fuck your brain…Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead deliver an enticing, mysterious genre experiment that stands to be their best work yet.”- Brad Miska, BLOODY DISGUSTING
“(Justin) Benson and (Aaron) Moorhead are in every frame of this film. Together they give the cosmos-mangling insanity a grounded truth and a light hilarity” – Richard Whitaker, Austin Chronicle
“The Endless feels like a thunderstorm. It brews slowly, softly, and then in the blink of an eye, has consumed you, booming with fury and jaw-dropping force.” – Kristy Puchko, Pajiba
“The Endless [is] a meta-commentary of the nature of storytelling and a self-examination of the creative mind, the film will likely have its audience questioning their perception of time as they look to sky for falling photographs.” – Shelagh Rowan-Legg, Screen Anarchy
When a simple organ harvesting caper goes awry, a twist of fate unites three of society’s forgotten and ignored: EL MONSTRUO, a disgraced Mexican wrestler working as hired muscle for a local crime boss. CRYSTAL, a recovering addict desperate enough to arrange a black market kidney transplant to save her husband’s life. And RANDY, a loveable two-strike convict fresh out of prison, cursed with a full-face swastika tattoo and a best friend guilting him into some hair-brained kidnapping scheme. In LOWLIFE we follow the sordid lives of these small-time criminals collide, as they fight tooth and nail to save a pregnant woman from a certain, and surely gruesome, death. Director Ryan Prows joins for a lively conversation on his hard-charging, high-energy debut feature film.
91% on Rotten Tomatoes
“The result is a film that’s as brutal in its imagery as it is funny in its execution.” – Jared Mobarak, Film Stage
“A captivating feature debut despite some missteps, it flashes back to a time when every other filmmaking newcomer wanted to be Quentin Tarantino; surprisingly, it does not provoke the weary eye-rolling that greeted so many of those films.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
“A movie with the sole purpose of an adrenalin rush, designed to strap you to your seat, entertain you, and spit you back into reality, exhausted but satisfied.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
“Lowlife is such a wild ride that any cinema showing it might want to consider installing seat belts on their chairs. Every second is electrifying.” – Mike McGranahan, Aisle Seat
“Nicely calibrates a twisty course between straight crime melodrama and black comedy, one that has cult-following potential among adventurous genre fans.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
“Throughout its swirling stories, Lowlife does an impeccable job of teasing, pulling back, and delivering, whether it be violence, drama, or the intermittent moment of temporary joy.” – Scott Beggs, Nerdist
The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) is a nonprofit organization devoted to a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture by showcasing films, supporting emerging filmmakers, and promoting the diverse perspectives of the Indian diaspora. Each year the festival features a rich mix of film programs designed to build and support the growing interest in the Indian entertainment industry. This includes programming that cultivates an audience for Indian films while supporting filmmakers of Indian descent in career development as they navigate the larger studio system in Hollywood. The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, runs from Wednesday, April 11 – 15 at Regal Live in downtown Los Angeles, featuring programs that include One-on-One program where film industry professionals from major and independent production and distribution companies are invited to participate in meetings with the IFFLA filmmakers; and panel discussions with speakers from the film industry. We are joined by IFFLA’s Director of Programming Mike Dougherty to talk about the past, present and future of Indian cinema and the increasing acceptance among mainstream American film lovers.
Guy Maddin and collaborators Galen and Evan Johnson made this ode to VERTIGO and the city of San Francisco for the closing night world premiere gala of the 2017 San Francisco International Film Festival. The iconoclastic Winnipeg-based filmmakers, working together since 2015’s THE FORBIDDEN ROOM, set themselves the challenge and constraint to remake VERTIGO, creating what they call a “parallel-universe version.” Using Bay Area-based footage from hundreds of sources—studio classics, ’50s noir, documentary and experimental films, and ’70s prime-time TV—and employing Maddin’s mastery of assemblage technique, seen in work like MY WINNIPEG and BRAND UPON THE BRAIN, the result exerts the inexorable pull of Hitchcock’s twisted tale of erotic obsession while paying tribute to the City by the Bay and the ways it looks and feels through the medium of cinema Composed by Jacob Garchik and performed by Kronos Quartet, the film’s score nods to Bernard Hermann’s classic VERTIGO music as it collides and converses with Maddin and Johnsons’ irreverent and loving footage to create a distinctive musical extravaganza. Through 12 features and many shorts, adventurous artist Guy Maddin exhibits the rare ability to simultaneously subvert and honor the craft of filmmaking. His credits include the Emmy Award-winning ballet film Dracula: Pages From A Virgin’s Diary (2002); The Saddest Music in the World (2003); My Winnepeg (2007) and US National Society of Film Critics Best Experimental Film Prize-winners Archangel (1990) and The Heart of the World (2000). Guy Maddin talks about the “City by the Bay,” scriptwriting, storytelling and his favorite film, Vertigo.
94% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“First and foremost, “The Green Fog” is a marvel of film scholarship that looks backward and forward from the Hitchcock masterpiece.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
“The Green Fog fairly closely follows the structure of Hitchcock’s film; achieving that in itself is some sort of accomplishment. However, it’s not so much an assemblage as it is a conjuring.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice
“The film is a brilliant exercise in meta-narrative, which raises questions galore about reality and representation, time and space, genre and gender, individual and urban identity, cinematic suture and casting. Mainly, though, it’s just very, very funny.” – Geoff Andrew, Sight and Sound
“The work of a sensibility as impish as it is scholarly, animated by a mischievous sense of the medium’s possibilities” – Justin Change, Los Angeles Times
“It demonstrates the act of creation as a perpetually reconstructive effort…” – Lawrence Garcia, Cinema Scope
Barbara Thorson (Madison Wolfe) is your new hero. A quick-witted, sharp- tongued middle-schooler who isn’t afraid of anything. As the only girl in school carrying an ancient Norse warhammer in her purse and killing giants for a living, why wouldn’t she be? I Kill Giants is the sweeping, bittersweet story of a young girl struggling to conquer monsters both real and imagined as her world crumbles at the feet of giants bigger than any one child can handle. Based on the best-selling graphic novel by Joe Kelly. I Kill Giants features terrific performances from Zoe Saldana and Imogen Poots. Academy Award winning director Anders Walter joins us to talk about his clever, creative and emotionally resonant feature film debut.
80% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“This intimate story about a troubled 12-year-old who’s on a mission to save her town is virtually tone perfect.” – Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times
“A sweetly imaginative, tenderly played coming of age drama.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
“The vivid cinematography, affecting performance by Wolfe, and lack of saccharine allow the film to resonate not only with the teen target demographic but older viewers as well.” – James Beradinelli, ReelReviews
“I Kill Giants is a dark piece of work for children, which is far from a bad thing.” – Ann Storm, Film Journal International
“Like its heroine, I Kill Giants isn’t afraid to tackle the darkness or rage of little girls, or their fear and pain.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
BEETLE QUEEN CONQUERS TOKYO is a documentary that delves into the ineffable mystery of Japan’s age-old love affair with insects. A labyrinthine meditation on nature, beauty, philosophy and Japanese culture that might just make you question if your ‘instinctive’ repulsion to bugs is merely a trick of western conditioning. Sold live in vending machines and department stores, plastic replicas included as prizes in the equivalent of a McDonald’s Happy Meal and the subject of the No. 1 videogame, MushiKing, from the smallest backyard to the top of Mt. Fuji, insects inspire an enthusiasm in Japan seen nowhere else in this world. Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo discovers why Japan developed this rich and enriching social relationship with insects. Like a detective story, the film untangles the web of influences behind Japan’s captivation with insects. It opens in modern-day Tokyo where a single beetle recently sold for $90,000 then slips back to the early 1800s, to the first cricket-selling business and the development of haiku and other forms of insect literature and art. Through history and adventure, Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo travels all the way back in time to stories of the fabled first emperor who named Japan the “Isle of the Dragonflies.” Along the way the film takes side trips to Zen temples and Buddhist Shrines, nature preserves and art museums in its quest for the inspirations that moved Japan into this fascination while other cultures hurtled off towards an almost universal and profound fear of insects. Interspersed with the philosophies of one of Japan’s best-selling authors and anatomists, Dr. Takeshi Yoro, and laced with poetry and art from Japan’s history, this film becomes about much more than insects. Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo is set to the rhythm of traditional Japanese values in its attention to detail, harmony, and the appreciation of the seemingly mundane. It quietly challenges the viewer to observe the world from an uncommon perspective that will shift the familiar to the fantastic and just might change not only the way we think about bugs, but the way we think about life. Director Jessica Oreck joins us to talk about her debut documentary and her intriguing journey from entomologist to filmmaker.
“Oreck gives us some marvelous close-ups of scampering beetles and butterflies emerging from their pupae, but the focus here is primarily on people.” – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
“A scientist looking for a combination of childlike innocence and minimalist sophistication might not see it in Hello Kitty but can recognize it in a horned beetle.” – Mike Hale, New York Times
“Zen gardens, banzai trees, the art of haiku — indeed, the whole of Japanese minimalism becomes a setting for these multilegged scramblers, imbued with Shintoist wisdom for those who would look and listen.” – Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out
“An expansive take on the world in miniature, Jessica Oreck’s documentary debut pursues all angles on a novel subject — the Japanese obsession with insects — until it assumes a worldview.” – Eric Hynes, Village Voice