In the latest documentary from Academy Award winning director Alex Gibney Crazy, Not Insane asks the question, Why do we kill? Why do some of us kill, and others resist the temptation? What makes a serial killer? Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis, a psychiatrist who’s worked with numerous serial killers, including Ted Bundy, Arthur Shawcross and Joel Rifkin, has been looking to answer these questions for decades. Fascinated by the human brain and its capacity for ruthlessness, she has spent her life investigating the interior lives of violent people. With each case, she came closer to developing a unified field theory of what makes a killer. Along the way – steering away from the conventional wisdom of her colleagues — she explored the world of multiple personality disorder. Producer Ophelia Harutyunyan joins us in conversation on the groundbreaking work on trauma and abuse being done by Dr. Lewis and others, as well as the question of evil and its impact on the dispensation of justice in a secular system of justice.
“While the documentary might not convince those who prefer a black-and-white picture of crime and justice, for anybody with an open mind, it’ll definitely make you think.” – Brian Lowry, CNN.com
“A fascinating look at the human mind. Whether you agree or not will be irrelevant next to all the questions this HBO documentary asks.” – Nathaniel Muir, AIPT
“You may not agree with everything Dorothy Lewis says in “Crazy, Not Insane,” but you come out of the movie alive to the place where evil and insanity meet and then fall back apart.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
HBO Documentary Films’ MURDER ON MIDDLE BEACH, a four-part documentary series directed by first-time filmmaker Madison Hamburg, presents Hamburg’s complicated journey as a young man determined to solve an unspeakable crime and the desire to absolve the people he loves, while looking for answers within his fractured family and community. On March 3, 2010, single mother Barbara Hamburg was found violently murdered near her home in the upper middle class enclave of Madison, Connecticut. Investigators speculated her murder appeared to be a crime of passion, but without enough evidence, the case grew cold.Over the course of eight years, Barbara’s son, Madison Hamburg, interviewed his family members and many others, longing to learn more about his mother and gathering evidence in hopes of solving her murder, sending him into a deep web of buried familial secrets, connections to shadowy criminal figures,and the uncovering of years-old resentments in his deceptively serene hometown. While Madison wrestles with troubling revelations about his mother, the most unsettling conflict comes from Madison’s obligation to bring into question those inside his community and members of his own family. Director Madison Hamburg joins us to talk about this deeply personal story of loss, discovery, anxiety and reconciliation.
Filmmaker’s Statement – At 18 years old, my worst fears came true when my sister called to tell me that my mother had been murdered, As much as I fought it, her death became a part of my life. Her memory faded and her case went cold, but I couldn’t accept that. Even if it meant sacrificing my own safety and sanity, I made my mother a promise when I started this project, ‘I will never let you be forgotten.’ It is less than what she would have done for me. – Madison Hamburg.
“Murder on Middle Beach is one of the most intense and emotional true-crime docuseries ever made.” – John Doyle, Globe and Mail
“Murder on Middle Beach is like watching a surgeon wield a scalpel on his own body, uncovering new layers of infection every time he cuts. It’s hard to say what’s more horrifying — that he keeps carving or that you keep watching.” – Glenn Garvin, Reason Online
“The emotional foundation of a torn-apart family is what strengthens Murder on Middle Beach but it’s also a fascinating mystery without the personal touch.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
“On the one hand, if anyone has the right to tell this story, it’s Hamburg. And the human toll of his investigation is very close to the surface in Murder On Middle Beach, particularly when his questions get more pointed later on.” – Katie Rife, AV Club
In 2018, 15-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg held a school strike outside her country’s Parliament building in Stockholm. At first she sat alone, handing out information and answering questions from passersby. Slowly, others began to join her—and within months she had sparked a worldwide movement. I AM GRETA offers a personal and inspiring glimpse inside Greta’s path to becoming an internationally known environmental activist. Shot in the style of cinéma vérité and with support from the Thunberg family, cameras capture Greta’s meetings with government leaders, headline-making public appearances, and global protests. But they also depict Greta’s life outside of the moments visible on news channels worldwide: laughing at home with her family, writing impassioned speeches, and trying to handle the mounting stress of nonstop travel, public scrutiny and becoming the face of the climate change cause. The film culminates with Greta’s arduous two-week journey by sailboat to the UN Climate Action Summit in New York City, where she’s greeted by crowds chanting her name. (Greta stopped flying because of the high emissions caused by air travel.) Today, her #FridaysForFuture movement has organized climate strikes on every continent except Antarctica. As she tells the UN, “The world is waking up, and change is coming whether you like it or not.” Director Nathan Grossman joins us to talk about his filmmaker instinct to document Greta Thunberg’s first days in front of the Swedish Parliament, the remarkable level of trust he had with Greta and her family as he chronicled the tale of a young woman determined to hold the most powerful people in the world accountable for their pathological abuse of Planet Earth.
A Statement from Greta – “I really like the film and I think it gives a realistic image of myself and my daily life. I hope anyone who watches the film can finally understand that we young people aren’t school striking just for fun. We are protesting because we don’t have a choice. A lot has of course happened since I started school striking, but sadly we are still stuck on square one. The changes and the level of awareness needed are nowhere to be seen today. All that we ask for is for our society to treat the climate crisis as a crisis, and give us a safe future. I think the film shows just how far that is from happening right now. It shows that the urgency of the scientific message isn’t getting through.” – Greta Thunberg
About the filmmaker – Nathan Grossman is educated at The Stockholm Academy of Dramatic Arts. He started his career as a stills photographer for Rolling Stone India and later moved into documentary filmmaking, mainly focusing on environmental issues. In 2015 Nathan got the world’s attention for his short film The Toaster Challenge where an athlete tries to generate energy to toast a slice of bread. The video became a global phenomenon with over 15 million views. 2017 Nathan completed his first full-length tv-series for public broadcaster SVT, about the growing meat consumption in Sweden. The show sparked a big discussion about meat consumption in Sweden and got nominated for best factual program of the year.
“FASCINATING. A close-up, behind-the-headlines portrait of a passionately committed, media-savvy young woman.” – Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter
“ABSORBING. An uplifting, inspirational story.”– Lee Marshall, Screen International
“INTIMATE AND URGENT. Thunberg’s very existence has been politicized by both friend and foe, but “I Am Greta” is intent on reminding people that she’s really just a kid who has a big dream.”– Kate Erbland, IndieWire
“[Grossman’s] straightforward yet utterly compelling documentary invites us into the life of a remarkable teenager who is sure to accomplish even more remarkable things in the years to come.” – Andrew Collins, Radio Times
The latest documentary film from award-winning director Alexander Nanau is a veritelook behind the curtain of the pervasive corruption of Romania’s Health Ministry. Collective is a scathing examination of the 2015, a fire at Bucharest’s Colectiv club. A fire that leaves 27 dead and 180 injured. Soon, more burn victims begin dying in hospitals from wounds that were not life-threatening. When a doctor blows the whistle on the misuse and abuse of medical protocols and treatments at the facility specializing in burn victim recovery a team of investigative journalists jump into the fray. One revelation leads to another as the journalists start to uncover vast health care fraud. When a new health minister is appointed, he offers unprecedented access to his efforts to reform the corrupt system but also to the obstacles he faces. Following journalists, whistle-blowers, burn victims, and government officials, Collective is an uncompromising look at the impact of investigative journalism at its best. Collective Director Alexander Nanua joins us for a conversation on his remarkable access to the inner circle of the reform-minded new minister and how naked greed and corruption led to deaths of far too many innocent victims.
About the filmmaker – Alexander Nanau was born in Bucharest, Romania in 1979. His family belongs to the Transylvanian Saxons, a cultural minority of German descent who lived since generations in Romania. 1990 they emigrated to Germany and became German citizens. Nanau studied Film Direction at the renowned DFFB in Berlin. His first feature documentary Peter Zadek inszeniert Peer Gynt was released 2006 in Germany and Austria. In 2007 he was a scholarship holder of the Academy of Arts in Berlin. In 2008/2009 he co-produced with HBO Romania, directed and shot the documentary The World According to Ion B. about a 62 years homeless man who starts a career in the international art world with collages he made over the last 30 years. The documentary was selected for over 40 international film festivals and won the prestigious ‘International Emmy Award’ for Arts Programming in 2010. His third feature documentary Toto and His Sisters, produced together with HBO Europe, premiered at the San Sebastian Film Festival in the ‘New Directors’ section. The film won major awards at the international film festivals in Angers, Zurich, Warsaw, Jihlava, Leipzig and Sarajevo. It was nominated as ‘Best Documentary’ at the European Film Awards 2015 and won the international Cinema Eye Honors’ Spotlight Award 2016.
“Collective gives us a glimpse of the top-the gangster hospital managers and the government functionaries who appointed them, all helping themselves to taxpayer money while providing care that kills.” – Amy Taubin, Artforum
“Collective is a documentary that grows progressively more frightening, infuriating, and illuminating the longer one sits with it.” – Andrew Parker,The Gate
“A documentary pulsing with an urgency that’s impossible to ignore and a furious sense of anger that’s genuinely palpable.” – Doug Jamieson, The Jam Report
Although he is dealing specifically with one instance in Romania, it’s easy to see evidence of greater global malaise reflected here. – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film
GHOSTS OF THE RÉPUBLIQUEfollows Aurelien and Nicolas, who, when confronted with France’s conservative surrogacy laws (where surrogacy is illegal), decide to exhaust their last option by traveling to Las Vegas to start a family of their own through international surrogacy. Nicolas and Aurelien’s story is unique in that it is a portrayal of the same-sex experience in creating a biological family through surrogacy, a technology developed in the 1980’s becoming more and more commonplace each year. This technology is one that has not only brought hope to couples who struggle with infertility but also to couples who struggle with equality. But while it is a source of hope for many, surrogacy also raises ethical considerations with various legal implications across the globe. Through the lens of one family, this film demonstrates the extreme lengths many gay couples go to have children, while highlighting the ever-expanding and controversial surrogacy industry. GHOSTS OF THE RÉPUBLIQUEseeks to explore the complexities of the issues, and in particular, asks, what does define family in our modern age? Director Jonathan Narducci joins us for a conversation on the negative impact of uncertainty in denying people their human rights and how this project has change the lives of the people who participated.
Gravitas Ventures is proud to present the US virtual release of GHOSTS OF THE RÉPUBLIQUE a documentary film by Jonathon Narducci.The film will be available on Amazon Prime, iTunes and other platforms starting November 17, 2020.
Director’s Statement – We’ve achieved marriage equality in the US and other countries around the world, but today’s laws are far from clear when it comes to surrogacy, and that’s where things really get interesting…the idea of what a family is, is one of the most coveted values in society, and GHOSTS OF THE RÉPUBLIQUE shows us that the definition of family is constantly changing. – Jonathon Narducci.
A CRIME ON THE BAYOU is the third film in director Nancy Buirski’s trilogy profiling brave individuals who fought for justice in and around the Civil Rights era, following The Loving Story and The Rape of Recy Taylor. The story begins in 1966 in Plaquemines Parish, a swampy strip of land south of New Orleans. After months of clashes, the public schools have been integrated by court order. But we are in the land of the white separatist despot, Leander Perez, who rules Plaquemines like his fiefdom, making sure that segregation sticks regardless of federal laws desegregating schools and mandating voting rights. A 19-year old Black fisherman, Gary Duncan, tries to break up a fight between white and Black teenagers outside a newly integrated school. He lays his hand on a white boy’s arm and the boy recoils, as if bitten by snake. That night, police arrest Gary Duncan for assault on a minor. With the help of a young attorney, Richard Sobol, Duncan bravely stands up to Perez. Systemic racism and pervasive anti-Semitism meet their match in decisive courtroom battles, including the U.S. Supreme Court; hate is vanquished by a powerful friendship that will last a lifetime. With the rise of white nationalism in the U.S. and abroad, there is no more important story to tell today. The roots and the mechanics of hate groups are in full display in this dramatic story of a crime on the bayou. Together this trilogy demonstrates that regular people standing up for their values are the root of human progress. Mildred Loving, Recy Taylor and Gary Duncan did not set out to change history. But they remind us that anyone can. A CRIME ON THE BAYOU Executive Producer is John Legend. Director Nancy Buirski joins us to talk about the her searing indictment of the systemic racism that is responsible for the hideously unjust incarceration of Gary Duncan and thousands of others as well as how it continues to this day.
“You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time.” – Civil Rights leader and colleague of Martin Luther King Jr., friend John Lewis
About the filmmakers – Nancy Buirski is Director/Producer/Writer of THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR (2017); World Premiere, Venice Film Festival; North American Premiere, New York Film Festival. Awarded the prestigious Human Rights Nights Special Prize for Human Rights at the 74° Venice Biennale. Nominated for the NAACP Image Award and Peabody Award. TV broadcast on STARZ/HULU. Buirski is Director/Producer/Writer of BY SIDNEY LUMET (2015; American Masters); World Premiere at Cannes Film Festival. She is Director/Producer/Writer of AFTERNOON OF A FAUN (2013; American Masters); World Premiere, New York Film Festival, International Premiere, 64th Berlinale, record-breaking U.S Theatrical release with Kino Lorber. She is Director/Producer/Writer of the Oscar shortlisted, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning THE LOVING STORY (2011; HBO) and a Producer of LOVING by Jeff Nichols. Buirski will direct TANNY, a narrative version of AFTERNOON OF A FAUN and ENDANGERED, an animated feature based on award-winning novel of the same name by Eliot Schrefer.
Giedrė Žickytė remarkable documentary, THE JUMP, chronicles the stranger than fiction story of a man determined to free himself from the stifling clutches of a political system that destroyed the lives of millions living behind the Iron Curtain, It’s Thanksgiving Day, 1970. The US coast guard sets out to meet a Soviet vessel anchored just off the shore of Martha’s Vineyard. A one-day conference between the two nations has been set to discuss fishing rights in the Atlantic Ocean. While the talks are in full swing, Lithuanian sailor Simas Kudirka jumps across the icy water onto the American boat in a frantic bid for freedom. To his horror, and to the outcry of the world media, the Americans return him to the Soviets and he is tried for treason. The event sets off a series of protests throughout the US begging for his freedom and all hope seems lost, until new information about Simas’ citizenship surfaces. Through eye-witness reports, rare archival footage and a dramatic first-person re-enactment by now 90-year-old would-be defector Simas Kudirka, director Giedrė Žickytė takes us on a stranger-than-fiction journey that became an inspiration for people, pictures and politics, reaching all the way up to the White House. Director Giedrė Žickytė joins us to talk about why Simas Kudirka’s story, and the stories of the thousands of migrants from around the globe, both past migrants and those of the future who will be seeking freedom and a promise of a better life. are so near to her heart and to the people of her native land, Lithuania.
About the filmmaker – Giedrė Žickytė is an award-winning Lithuanian documentary film director and producer and the co-founder of the production company, MOONMAKERS. She graduated with a Master’s degree in Visual Arts from Vilnius Art Academy in 2007. Her films have been selected at numerous international film festivals including IDFA, Hot Docs, Visions du Réel (Sesterce d’or Fondation Goblet Award), Sheffield Doc/Fest (Short Doc Award), IFFR, Camerimage (Golden Frog), DocumentaMadrid (Audience Award), Krakow IFF (European Film Award), etc. Many of her films have been theatrically distributed and broadcast on television internationally. I’M NOT FROM HERE (co-directed with Maite Alberdi) was nominated at the European Film Academy Awards in 2016. MASTER AND TATYANA won 4 “Silver Cranes”, the Lithuanian Film Academy Awards including the awards for Best Director and Best Documentary, and was selected as one of “Ten Documentary Film Talents of 2015” by international film critic Tue Steen Müller. In 2016, she was awarded a St. Christopher’s statue by the Vilnius City Council for merits in cinema artwork. Giedrė produced THE EARTH IS BLUE AS AN ORANGE by Iryna Tsilyk which premiered in Sundance 2020 World Documentary Competition and received the Best Directing Award. Giedrė is a member of the European Film Academy, Lithuanian Filmmakers Union, alumni of Berlinale Talent Campus, Sources2, CPH:DOX LAB, EURODOC and dok.incubator.
Director Sian-Pierre Regis’ poignant feature documentary debut, DUTY FREE, takes us into the world of his mom, Rebecca Danigelis, a British immigrant living in Boston, who has been fired from her job as a hotel housekeeper at the age of 75. An experience that has left her financially and emotionally devastated. Her son, Sian-Pierre, is living in New York City, trying to work his way into the competitive world of TV journalism. With his mother’s reality crashing down, Sian-Pierre resolves to leave New York, and the life he expected to lead, to help his mother get back on her feet. As Sian-Pierre looks for ways to support Rebecca, he gives her an adventure spanning two continents that uncovers a surprising family saga, a story that reveals the compromises and injustices placed on single mothers, the persistence of sexism and ageism, and the difficult dance of duty and freedom where the older and younger generations come together.DUTY FREE and the impact campaign inspired by the film examines ageism, the care crisis, and economic insecurity in America. Who will care for and support our moms and dads? Our grandmothers and our grandfathers? Watch our film, raise these questions in your own community, and together let’s point to solutions that work for all generations. Director Sian-Pierre Regis joins us for a conversation about the challenges facing millions of families as they confront the impacts of aging love ones and how we navigate the challenges and embrace the opportunity to better understand a part of the human experience that awaits us all.
About the filmmaker – Sian-Pierre is currently a Firelight Media Fellow 2018-2020 and a Film Independent Documentary Fellow 2019. He is also an award-winning journalist, on-camera personality, and cultural critic with an undying love for both pop-culture and social responsibility. He has been a contributor for CNN, HLN, MTV and CBS, covering stories of youth political activism and pop-culture.
THE LAST OUT tells the story of three talented Cuban athletes, Happy, Carlos, and Victor, leave their families and homes behind as they set off in pursuit of the ultimate dream: a contract with Major League Baseball. Cuban ballplayers are among baseball’s brightest stars but Cuban ball-players can’t just sign out of Cuba – the US Embargo is still in place and only being strengthened under the current administration – so Cubans have to leave their homeland, often under dangerous circumstances and establish residency in a third Country like The Dominican Republic, Haiti or Costa Rica. At the rundown Estadio Antonio Escarre, they have spent the past year training long and hard, thousands of miles away from their families in Cuba. They travel to Costa Rica and train under a seedy sports agent who dangles promises while exploiting their talents. As they navigate immigration and the ulterior motives of handlers, each man finds an unexpected path forward to a better life. Set against the backdrop of the dangerous Central American migrant trail, THE LAST OUT offers a rare window into the dark side of professional sports. THE LAST OUT co-directors Sami Khan and Michael Gassert stop by to talk about their process of following the many twists and turns these young men’s lives take them on and the personal risk they and their team took in chronicling it.
Sami Khan’s most recent film, the short documentary St. Louis Superman (with Smriti Mundhra), was nominated for an Academy Award® and won a Special Jury Prize at Tribeca in 2019. Michael Gassert’s documentary and archival work has been supported by IFP, the Sundance Institute, UNESCO, and the Kennedy Center.
CRUTCHtakes the audience on a journey that literally spans the entire globe. The documentary features the abandoned Pittsburgh steel mills of Bill’s childhood; his diagnosis with Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, a rare, degenerative condition of the hip; the underground NYC break dance battles of his twenties; his groundbreaking performances in Sydney, Quebec, Madrid, Helsinki, Moscow, London, Paris, Tokyo, and more. CRUTCH is a global story, a powerful story, a transformational story, and one which will have you re-evaluating your own perspectives. From childhood “cripple” to international provocateur, CRUTCH is an engrossing, emotional story of an artist’s struggle to be understood and an auspicious DOC NYC debut. Two decades in the making and employing a kinetic tapestry of 8mm film from the 70’s, Hi-8 and VHS tapes from the 80’s, mini-DV tapes from the 90’s, and stunning HD footage from the 2000’s, CRUTCH documents Bill’s extraordinary life’s story: the history of Bill’s medical odyssey, his struggles with chronic pain, the evolution of his crutch dancing and skating, his rise to become a world-renowned performance artist, and his transformation from an angry skate punk to an international hero. Co-directors Sachi Cunningham and Vayabobo (Chandler Evans) join us to talk about Bill Shannon’s fierce determination to breakthrough cultural perceptions of what it is to be a dancer, skateboarder and performance artist.
About the filmmaker – Director /Producer Sachi Cunningham is an award winning documentary filmmaker and Associate Professor of Journalism at San Francisco State University. A graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and Brown University, Cunningham has worked on the staffs of PBS FRONTLINE/World, where she covered stories from the first Presidential election in Afghanistan to sex trafficking in Dubai, and the Los Angeles Times, where she was recruited to start their first video team. When not making documentaries, Cunningham can be found swimming somewhere in the Pacific, where she is known for her pioneering big wave water surf photography
About the filmmaker – Director / Producer / Writer Vayabobo (Chandler Evans) is a writer/director, whose award winning videos have garnered over 150 million views online. Vayabobo wrote and directed for Disney Interactive and subsequently helped to launch Buzzfeed Video. He wrote Visions of Everest, a feature length documentary about the only blind man to summit Mount Everest and has written for TV shows on CBS, Syfy and CW. His work in advertising includes directing commercial spots for companies such as Disney, Singapore Airlines, Hamilton Beach and KB Homes. When not working, you can catch Vayabobo playing and documenting Capoeira around the world.
Sacha Polak’s DIRTY GOD is a film about a young mother from London who must pick up the pieces after an acid attack leaves her with severe facial burns. Prior to the attack, with limited education and opportunities, Jade’s main currency was her looks. Her face has been reconstructed, but her beauty is gone. Jade must set about rebuilding herself – and this is a gargantuan task. Cast adrift from her young daughter, Jade finds solace in the hidden world of online liaisons where she uncovers the passion and connection she’s craved in an often humorous and celebratory way. However, the actions of a stranger threaten to turn her life upside down once more, and those around her are ill-equipped to halt her descent. As family life and friendships start to crumble, her lowest ebb proves the inspiration that Jade needs. Jade takes drastic action, finally finding her path back to her daughter and herself. Finalist for the 2019 Sundance Grand Jury Prize (World Cinema Dramatic) DIRTY GOD is a powerful film about motherhood, courage and self-acceptance.Director Sacha Polak joins us for a conversation on how Jade’s story resonated with lead actor Vicki Knight’s own recovery and the trust and bonding that the entire cast and crew experienced during the making of this compelling film.
Oscar winning Director Ron Howard’s gripping new documentary. Rebuilding Paradise, movingly recounts and expands on the devastating events of Nov. 8, 2018. A tragedy that began with a spark from a transmission line in Northern California, coupled with climate-impacted conditions, quickly grew into a devastating firestorm that engulfed the picturesque city of Paradise, California. By the time the Camp Fire was extinguished, it had killed 85 people, displaced 50,000 residents and destroyed 95% of local structures. It was the deadliest U.S. fire in 100 years — and the worst ever in California’s history. As residents faced the damage to their lives, to their homes and to more than 150,000 acres in and around their 141-year-old town, they did something amazing: They worked together to heal. The community members went on to forge a bond stronger than what they had before the catastrophe, even as their hope and spirit were challenged by continued adversity: relocations, financial crises, government hurdles, water poisoning, grief and PTSD. From the moment the crisis began, The Camp Fire and its overwhelming aftermath became a de facto lesson in what we all must do: protect our environment, help our neighbors, plan for future dangers and remember to preserve the traditions that unite us — just as these resilient citizens did when they began the important task of REBUILDING PARADISE. Producer Sara Bernstein joins us for a conversation on how the production team, led by Oscar-winning director Ron Howard gained the confidence and trust of families scarred by one of the most devastating fires in California as well as documenting the resiliency and character of the people rebuilding Paradise.
About the filmmaker – Sara Bernstein is an award-winning producer and Executive Vice President at Imagine Documentaries the newly launched documentary division of Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s, Imagine Entertainment. Recent feature films she has executive produced include Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band (2019) and Dads (2019) which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. The Ron Howard-directed documentary film, Rebuilding Paradise (2020), for National Geographic Films, D.Wade: Life Unexpected (2020) for ESPN Films and the documentary feature film on legendary chef Julia Child, Julia (2021) directed by Academy Award nominees Julie Cohen and Betsy West. Prior to joining Imagine, Bernstein was Senior Vice President, HBO Documentary Films over seeing nonfiction development and production for HBO. Credits include Academy Award-winner Citizenfour (2014), Academy Award-winner Music by Prudence (2010), Academy Award nominees Burma VJ: Reporting from a Closed Country (2008), Iraq In Fragments (2006), The Children of Leningradsky (2005), Poster Girl (2010). Emmy-nominated The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (2019), Emmy-nominated The Case Against Adnan Syed (2019), Judd Apatow’s Emmy-winning The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling (2018), Emmy winners Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief (2015), White Light, Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2007) and Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012). Emmy-nominated The Case Against 8 (2014), Mapplethorpe: Look At The Pictures (2016), Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker’s Emmy-nominated Unlocking The Cage (2016); Beware the Slenderman (2016), I Love You Now Die (2019) and Mommy Dead and Dearest (2017). Bernstein has garnered 10 Emmy wins, 29 Emmy nominations and 11 Peabody Awards. Documentaries she has supervised have garnered 2 Oscars and 13 Oscar nominations.
“Rebuilding Paradise might easily have blazed with righteous fury, but its conclusions are quieter and bleaker.” – Ellen E Jones, Guardian
“Filmmaker Howard admittedly does a superb job of immediately drawing the viewer into the briskly-paced proceedings…” David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews
“Howard’s documentary is not so much about the fire as it takes a looks at the resilience members of the community showed. It is both painful and inspirational.” – Rick Bentley,Tribune News Service
“Mr. Howard wants us to know that greater challenges lie ahead… Yet his documentary also dramatizes the resilience and resourcefulness we can bring to bear in meeting them. Calamity, the film says, isn’t destiny.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
Based on a non-fiction novel RECON is set in the mountains of Italy at the close of the Second World War. Adapted from the critically acclaimed New York Times best seller by famed author Richard Bausch, and based on a true event – RECON tells the story of four American soldiers in WW2, who after they witness a vicious murder of an innocent civilian at the hands of their platoon Sergeant, are sent on a reconnaissance/suicide mission lead by a local partisan, an elderly man whose indeterminate loyalties add to the terror and confusion that engulfs the Americans as they are hunted by an unseen enemy. RECON centers around young men in the midst of war. The action occurs over the course of one long day between four soldiers placed in a crucible, as they debate both their fates and that of life itself.Each has a different perspective, liberal, racist, =uncertain – a metaphor for the America both of 1945 and 2018. As the soldiers fight amongst themselves they realize they are being both hunted and haunted by a mysterious sniper and the specter of a burning question – is their Italian guide, this old man from the village, a fascist sympathizer who wishes to lead them to their death? As they struggle to make it off the mountain alive, these American soldiers face the worst that war can offer men…. and through this each finds their own peace. Director Robert Port stops by for a conversation on the challenges of meeting the expectations set by an award winning novel, working with a very talented cast of young actors and capturing a tone and look that puts you in the middle of this intense drama.
About the making of RECON – The novel, RECON, based on a true military event, was written by Air Force veteran Richard Bausch; it was awarded the 2010 Dayton International Literary Peace Prize. “Peace” will be re-published by Penguin Random House as an e-book in October. RECON stars Alexander Ludwig (BAD BOYS FOR LIFE, THE HUNGER GAMES, “Vikings”) Sam Keeley (BURNT, “68 Whiskey”), Chris Brochu (DYNASTY, “Shameless”) and Italian acting legend Franco Nero (DJANGO UNCHAINED, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2). The film is produced by Rick Dugdale and Richard Bullock and executive produced by Maury Povich. Writer/director Robert Port won an Academy award for his film TWIN TOWERS, a documentary short about Detective Joe Vigiano, an elite New York City policeman who was killed during the tragic events of 9/11. RECON is Robert Port’s feature debut.
The compelling documentary WHERE SHE LIES tells the heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting true story of an assaulted teen, Peggy Phillips, who gives birth out of wedlock in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1962. Upon giving birth, Peggy receives conflicting narratives about her infant’s fate, with one doctor claiming that her baby had passed, and another claiming it was thriving. Thirty-three years later, Peggy’s mother reveals on her deathbed that Peggy’s baby is still alive. After a series of new attempts to uncover the truth, including exhuming her infant’s alleged grave, Peggy reaches an impasse when she runs out of money. Almost two decades later, a documentarian (Zach Marion) helps Peggy uncover the truth about what happened. They become friends, as they sift through an entanglement of local hearsay, claims from a greedy former inmate, and ultimately, DNA testing. Through its investigation of false narratives, memory, and motherhood, the film explores the gas-lighting and discrimination that Peggy faced as a sexual assault survivor in the 1960’s deep south. Director Zach Marion stops by to talk about his beautifully rendered recounting of a woman determined to find where the literal truth lies.
About the filmmaker – Director, Zach Marion, co-owns Zemma Productions with his partner and cinematographer, Emma Kragen, a commercial video agency whose clients include Lyft, The Grove, and The Salvation Army. Before moving to LA, Marion served as the Head of TV Development for Video Arts Studios in North Dakota. While there, he produced BIRTHS BEYOND BELIEF, an hour-long documentary on home-birth for TLC. Zach Marion, a two-time student recipient of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Directing Award. WHERE SHE LIES is Marion’s first feature-length film. The film was shot by Emma Kragen, a Motion Picture Association of America student award-winner and the Lisa Wiegand Fellowship in Cinematography recipient. Kragen was also featured in Variety’s 110 Students to Watch in 2015.
Hasan Oswald’s gripping, feature documentary debut,HIGHER LOVE takes a raw look at addiction, poverty, love, and broken promises through the life Daryl Gant a Camden, New Jersey native, father of eight, and printing press operator. Daryl was raised by a single mother and strives to be a better father than his own, who abandoned him at birth. His girlfriend, Nani, is the love of his life but her crippling crack and heroin addiction, is destroying any hope of a sustainable relationship. Nani finds herself pregnant with their new baby boy, Darnez. The pregnancy becomes Daryl’s new-found purpose to forge a better future for the both of them. Despite Nani’s struggles Darnez os born healthy, but in need of specialized care. Their friend, Iman, was once a drug dealing kingpin in Camden in the 1990s. He was also a father and a mechanical engineer until he caught a dealer’s habit selling dope. He embodies the spirit of many disaffected residents of Camden, taking the viewer on a tour of post-industrial American decay. His own quest to sobriety will eventually force the hand of Nani to make a change, as they forge parallel paths to recovery. Director Hasan Oswald joins us for a conversation on how immersing himself into the shattering reality of opioid users affected him and how much does poverty and the lack of economic opportunity impact the people on the business end of a needle.
Gravitas Ventures will release HIGHER LOVE on VOD and Digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Fandango Now and all major cable/satellite platforms on Tuesday, November 3.
About the filmmaker – Hasan Oswald, Director / Producer/ Cinematographer entered the film world only four years ago. In that short period of time Hasan Oswald has quickly established a unique ability to capture the human experience through verité cinema. His unfettered access to and intimacy with his characters creates a seamless veneer between the filmmaker and subject. In making HIGHER LOVE Oswald used a Robert Rodriguez inspired zero-budget strategy to make the film, selling his blood-plasma, racking up no interest credit card bills, and learning all things films on youtube tutorials in lieu of film school.His work first caught the eye of award-winning filmmakers Nick Quested & Sebastian Junger (Restrepo) and he started his professional career as a cameraman for National Geographic’s film Hell on Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS. He has since covered the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, drug trafficking and homelessness in Philadelphia. His current project focuses on the Yazidi Genocide in Iraq. Higher Love is his documentary feature directorial debut.
2020 Slamdance Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature
“Most stories need a point of view and with that point of view comes a set of morals and beliefs that angle the focus. For a documentary – or any film for that matter – to expel bias, there must be a highly nuanced approach that allows all views, in equal measure, in one space. Hasan Oswald’s HIGHER LOVE achieves just that.” – Take One Cinema
“Americans exist in this condition. Big Pharma aggressively markets addictive, profitable pain meds, and these ubiquitous drugs have seeped down into abandoned places and people. That these people are invisible and unknown is disgusting beyond the pale. Hasan Oswald shows us this life in Higher Love and calls us to action.” – Film Threat
“It is one of the best films of 2020 so far. This may have been the first truly great film I saw for Slamdance. It is a film that haunted me for days after I saw it. It is a tough tough film about what drugs are doing to society.”– Unseen Films
“What is most interesting about Oswald’s docu-style feature is the way in which horror manifests through the real-life monster of drug addiction and poverty.” – Horror Buzz
Ilana Navaro’s eye-opening new documentary Josephine Baker: The Story of An Awakening, illuminates the life of iconic artist and human rights activist Josephine Baker, the first global black superstar.World renowned performer, World War II spy, and activist are a few of the titles used to describe Josephine Baker, one of the most successful African American performers in French history. Josephine Baker: The Story of An Awakening follows Baker from being a poor little black girl from Missouri to becoming the Queen of Paris, before joining the French Resistance and finally creating her dream family “The Rainbow Tribe”, adopting twelve children from the four corners of the world. The film reveals rare and previously unseen archives that will resolve the puzzle of Josephine’s fascinating fifty-year-long “headline grabbing career.” Josephine Baker made three trips “back home” (1936, 1948, 1951), and each time she experienced everyday racism, despite her worldwide fame. Each tragic experience triggered her life-changing decisions. Gradually the battle for Civil Rights became her own, up until 1963, when she was the only woman who spoke on stage besides Martin Luther King during the famous March in Washington. Director Ilana Navaro (La Case de l’Oncle Doc, Toutes Les Télés Du Monde) stops by to talk about how a pervasive racist American society galvanized Josephine Baker’s determination to transcendthe “banana dancer” sobriquet on her way to international recognition as a performer and civil rights warrior.
Josephine Baker: The Story of An Awakening will be featured exclusively on the Cinémoi Network beginning on Thursday, October 29th at 7pm PST / 10pm EST. Cinémoi Network’s curated programming is available on Apple TV & Apple iOS, Sling TV, Comcast Xfinity, Verizon FiOS, Frontier, Google Play, and Samsung devices.
Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story is the latest documentary from award-winning filmmaker Julie Sokolow is a loving portrait of Mark Baumer, an environmental activist, avant-garde writer, and vegan, who hiked barefoot for over 100 days across America to draw attention to climate change. In a voice The New Yorker praised as “reminiscent of Andy Kaufman”, Baumer narrates his offbeat take on life and how we all can make a difference. Skillfully edited from Baumer’s own self-recorded videos, along with interviews from family and friends, is filled with laughs, tragedy, and inspiration. Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story is about a man who loved life, loved the world, and it showed in everything he did. Director Julie Sokolow (Women of Fire) and Mark’s parents, Jim and Mary Baumer joins us for a conversation on Mark’s warm-hearted, exuberant approach to life, his commitment to the vision of the life he wanted to champion and their loving support for their only child.
About the filmmaker – Julie Sokolow is the award-winning director of Woman on Fire, which aired on Starz in 2017. The film is about Brooke Guinan, the first openly transgender firefighter in New York. She also directed Aspie Seeks Love, which won Best Documentary at the 2015 Cinequest Film Festival. Her short film Street Doctor went viral in 2014 and received over one million views. She is the creator of the Healthy Artists web series (2012-2014), about the challenges of artists without health care access. Her films have been featured by The New York Times, Vimeo Staff Picks, IndieWire, VICE, Salon, Village Voice and Huffington Post. Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story is her third documentary feature.
“Barefoot “manages to get at deeper systemic questions that we often don’t face. Who is this world for? Why is it weird to walk from place to place? Why is it completely dangerous to do so? Why was our land designed this way, and what are the repercussions of that? By raising these questions through its material, ‘Barefoot’ becomes something more than a tragic story of a truly unique artist gone too soon — it’s also a profound inquiry into the very way we have to live our modern lives”. “ – The Playlist
“One of the finest American documentary features on offer was writer/director/editor Julie Sokolow’s Barefoot: The Mark Baumer Story”… “Baumer was a nonstop social-media diarist, and Sokolow has skillfully edited his self-recorded videos—and additional material—into a moving portrait that deservedly captured the Best Documentary Premiere Prize.” – Cineaste
“An affectionate and inspiring portrait of someone who walked the walk.” Barefoot is a “clear-eyed documentary” about “a man who discarded not merely his shoes, but also the trappings and constraints of the contemporary rat race.” – The Hollywood Reporter
The Atlantic’s first feature documentary, WHITE NOISE, is the definitive inside story of the movement that has come to be known as the alt-right. With unprecedented access, WHITE NOISE tracks the rise of far-right nationalism by focusing on the lives of three of its main proponents: Mike Cernovich, a conspiracy theorist and sex blogger turned media entrepreneur; Lauren Southern, an anti-feminist, anti-immigration YouTube star; and Richard Spencer, a white-power ideologue. Directed and shot by Daniel Lombroso in his directorial debut, this film takes the viewer into the terrifying heart of the movement—explosive protests, riotous parties, and the rooms where populist and racist ideologies are refined, weaponized, and injected into the mainstream. Just as the alt-right comes to prominence, infighting tears the movement apart. Spencer and Cernovich clash over the role of white nationalism in conservative politics. Southern struggles to reconcile her leadership role with the sexism and misogyny of her peers. Lawsuits mount and internecine fights erupt, but even as the alt-right fractures, its once-marginalized ideas gain a foothold in mainstream discourse; in Republican politics; in the establishment right-wing press, especially Fox News—and on the world’s biggest social-media platforms. Director Daniel Lombroso joins us to talk about his immersive experience into the world of the white nationalist movement, an ideologythat echos and trades on the tropes of fascism.
WHITE NOISE releases on October 21 in the U.S. on iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, and Google Play.
About the filmmaker – Daniel Lombroso is a freelance director and journalist. For five years, he was a staff producer at The Atlantic, where he directed shorts exploring Russian espionage, the Israeli settlement movement, far-right Christian media, and more. Lombroso graduated from McGill University with a degree in political science and lives in New York City. His debut feature film, WHITE NOISE, based on his four years reporting inside the alt-right, premiered at AFI DOCS in June 2020 to critical acclaim. It is the first-ever feature film by The Atlantic. For more go to: daniellombroso.com
“Lombroso did his homework, embedding himself with these people for several years, so that he won their trust and became privy to their private lives. “White Noise” is a deadly serious movie, but it is also, in a certain way, a funny one, because it captures the comedy of how much trouble even the influencers of hate now have squaring their lives with their belief systems. It takes reality to create characters as rivetingly contemptible as these.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“There have been several documentaries made about the ideological conditions that laid the ground for the Trump era, but White Noise may be the most illuminating.” – Stephen Silver, Splice Today
“Lombroso’s strategy is patient, and ruthless. He listens to these racists, spending long periods with them to better understand their lifestyles. We slowly start to see that they all kind of hate and resent each other; these fissures are at the heart of this movement’s moral and intellectual rot.” – Alan Zilberman, Brightest Young Things
“Director Daniel Lombroso takes a very clear-eyed approach to the subject, utilizing unprecedented access to show the movement for what it is – an effort to launch a full-on culture war, driven by people whose anger and media savvy is matched by their opportunism. Despite refraining from overt commentary most of the time, the last couple minutes of White Noise poignantly pull together the results of recent alt-right messaging.” – Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat
Fox Rich is a fighter. The entrepreneur, abolitionist and mother of six boys has spent the last two decades campaigning for the release of her husband, Rob G. Rich, who is serving a 60-year sentence for a robbery they both committed in the early 90’s in a moment of desperation. Combining the video diaries Fox has recorded for Rob over the years with intimate glimpses of her present-day life, TIMEdirector Garrett Bradley paints a mesmerizing portrait of the resilience and radical love necessary to prevail over the endless separations of the country’s prison-industrial complex. Bradley won the U.S. Documentary Directing Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and is the first Black woman to be awarded the prize with TIME, her documentary feature debut. Director and producer Garrett Bradley joins us to talk about her beautifully rendered look into the most intimate moments of a determined matriarch and a family grappling with a life lived under the relentless cloud of uncertainty.
TIME will open in select theaters on October 9 ahead of its global launch on Amazon Prime Video on October 16.
About the filmmaker – Garrett Bradley works across narrative, documentary, and experimental modes of filmmaking to address themes such as race, class, familial relationships, social justice, southern culture, and the history of film in the United States. Bradley has received numerous prizes which include the 2019 Prix de Rome, and the 2017 Sundance Jury Prize for the short film “Alone,” which was released by The New York Times OpDocs And became an Oscar Contender for short nonfiction filmmaking, included in Academy Shortlist. Bradleys work can be seen across a variety of spaces including her Second Unit Directing work on Ava DuVernays “When They See Us” and the 2019 Whitney Biennial. In December of this 2019, Bradley’s first solo exhibition opened at The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH), curated by Rebecca Matalon. In January of 2020, Bradley became the first Black American woman to receive Best Director at the 2020 Sundance Film festival for her first feature length documentary, “Time.” For more go to: garrettabradley.com
Sundance 2020 – Directing Award: U.S. Documentary
The Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2020 – The Charles E. Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award
“A vibrant cubist portrait, alive with shadings of Rich’s vulnerability and the psychic bruises from dealing with an indifferent correctional system, expensive lawyers and unresponsive courts.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
“It’s an enormous achievement to crystallize two decades of both fighting and loving in 81 minutes, as Bradley never takes Rich’s voice away to patronize or preach to the viewer about what we should care about.” – Ella Kemp, WeLoveCinema
BELLY OF THE BEAST shines a white hot spotlight on the pastoral farmlands surrounding the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF), the world’s largest women’s prison. For decades CCWF concealed the reproductive and human rights violations transpiring inside its walls. A courageous woman, Kelli Dillon, who was involuntarily sterilized at the CCWF, teams up with a radical lawyer, Cynthia Chandler, to stop these violations. Together they spearhead investigations that uncover a series of statewide crimes, primarily targeting women of color, from inadequate access to healthcare to sexual assault to illegal sterilization. With a team of tenacious heroines, both in and out of prison, they take to the courtroom to fight for reparations. But no one believes them. As additional damning evidence is uncovered by the Center for Investigative Reporting, a media frenzy and series of hearings provide hope for some semblance of justice. Yet, doctors and prison officials contend that the procedures were in each person’s best interest and of an overall social benefit. Invoking the weight of the historic stain and legacy of eugenics, BELLY OF THE BEASTpresents a decade long, infuriating contemporary legal drama. Director Erika Cohn (The Judge, When the Voices Fade) joins us for a conversation about her incredible tale that chronicles the rampant abuse of incarcerated women, being coerced by a prison-based culture of medical personnel actively subverting their basic human rights.
About the filmmaker – Director Erika Cohn is a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning director/producer who Variety recognized as one of 2017’s top documentary filmmakers to watch and was featured in DOC NYC’s 2019 “40 Under 40.” Most recently, Erika completed The Judge, a Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated film about the first woman judge appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a courts, which premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS’ 2018 Independent Lens series. Erika co-directed/produced, In Football We Trust, an Emmy award-winning, feature documentary about young Pacific Islander men pursuing their dreams of playing professional football, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS’ 2016 “Independent Lens” series. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including a Director’s Guild of America award for her fiction short film, When the Voices Fade. Erika grew up attending the Sundance Film Festival as a native Utahn, where she first began her career and later studied at Chapman University (California) and Hebrew University (Jerusalem) where she received degrees in Film Production, Middle East Studies, and Acting Performance. In 2013, Erika founded Idle Wild Films, Inc., which has released three feature documentaries and produced numerous branded content and commercial spots, including Gatorade’s “Win from Within” series, for which she received a 2016 Webby award nomination. Belly of the Beast is her third feature-length documentary. For more about Erika Cohn go to: idlewildfilmsinc.com
OLEANDER, (Emily Robinson)17, is the star and sole creator of her own provocative, sex-positive YouTube channel. She is also an unwilling student at a Christian abstinence program, led by the poised and charismatic Alissa, (Peri Gilpin) 50s. When Alissa demands that Oleander issue an on-camera apology for mocking her abstinence program online, a fierce battle of wills ensues. Alissa is aided by Kim, (Jennifer Lafleur) 30s, a filmmaker-for-hire who has no allegiance other than to serve her client. Oleander fights desperately for her voice and her beliefs, but will her anti slut-shaming message be able to stand up against the manipulative power of the two adults who seek to suppress her? Director Kate Hackett joins us for a conversation on her thoughtful, sharply focused look at the power of manipulation, respect, trust and sexual agency.
About the filmmaker – Kate Hackett is a filmmaker and film editor based in Los Angeles. She is a 2020 Emmy winner for her editing work on the Netflix documentary series “Cheer.” Her work as an editor also includes the Emmy award winning Netflix documentary series “Last Chance U,” and the Sundance documentary feature Half The Picture. She was the 2018 Sundance Institute Sally Menke Editing Fellow. As a screenwriter, she was a 2016 American Zoetrope Screenwriting contest finalist with the screenplay Purify My Heart.
Best Director – Short Film, The Method Fest 2020
Official Selection of LA Femme International Film Festival 2020*
DRIVING WHILE BLACK: RACE, SPACE AND MOBILITY IN AMERICA is a ground-breaking, two-hour documentary film by acclaimed historian Dr. Gretchen Sorin and Emmy–winning director Ric Burns. Chronicling the riveting history and personal experiences – at once liberating and challenging, harrowing and inspiring, deeply revealing and profoundly transforming – of African Americans on the road from the advent of the automobile through the seismic changes of the 1960s and beyond – DRIVING WHILE BLACK explores the deep background of a recent phrase rooted in realities that have been an indelible part of the African American experience for hundreds of years – told in large part through the stories of the men, women and children who lived through it. The documentary draws upon the wealth of recent scholarship – and based on and inspired in large part by Gretchen Sorin’s recently published study of the way the automobile and highways transformed African American life across the 20th century – the film examines the history of African Americans on the road from the depths of the Depression to the height of the Civil Rights movement and beyond, exploring along the way the deeply embedded dynamics of race, space and mobility in America during one of the most turbulent and transformative periods in American history. Co-directors Gretchen Sorin and Ric Burns join us to talk about the crippling impact of systemic racism and the continuing stain of America’s original sin.
About the filmmaker – Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Project Director & Senior Historical Advisor Dr. Gretchen Sullivan Sorin is Distinguished Professor and Director of the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Her dissertation and upcoming book form the basis of the scholarship for this project. Her research explores the role that the automobile played in the lives of African Americans during the Jim Crow era, the way that African Americans expressed middle class American values through car ownership, and how cars helped change deeply entrenched racial etiquette. Sorin received her Ph.D. in history from the University at Albany in 2009. For more on the work of Dr. Gretchen Sorin go to gpmuseumstudies.org
About the filmmaker – Ric Burns is an internationally recognized documentary filmmaker and writer, best known for his eight-part, seventeen and a half hour series, New York: A Documentary Film, which premiered nationally on PBS to wide public and critical acclaim when broadcast in November 1999, September 2001, and September 2003. Burns has been writing, directing and producing historical documentaries for over 25 years, since his collaboration on the PBS series The Civil War, (1990), which he produced with his brother Ken and co-wrote with Geoffrey C. Ward. Since founding Steeplechase Films in 1989, he has directed some of the most distinguished programs for PBS including Coney Island (1991), The Donner Party (1992), The Way West (1995), Ansel Adams (2002), Eugene O’Neill, Andy Warhol (2006), We Shall Remain: Tecumseh’s Vision (2009),Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World (2010), Death and the Civil War (2012), American Ballet Theatre (2015), Debt of Honor (2015), The Pilgrims (2015), VA: The Human Cost of War (2017), and The Chinese Exclusion Act (2018). His work has won numerous film and television awards including six Emmy Awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards, two Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards, three Writer’s Guild of America Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Writing; the Eric Barnouw Award of the Organization of American Historians, and the D.W. Griffith Award of the National Board of Review. Find out more about Ric Burns and Steeple Chaase Films at: ricburns.comAnd dwbfilm.com
In 2013, inspired by the book Wines of Lebanon by Michael Karam, filmmakers Mark Johnston and Mark Ryan set out to change the perceptions of the Middle East – and in particular the tiny nation of Lebanon – by examining an enigmatic and misunderstood part of the world with winemakers who had a story to tell. Co-directors Johnston and Ryan released their first award-winning documentary The Invisible Front, but by then, they were already in Lebanon recording stories of courage, adventure and determination. There, they met Michael Karam, and two became three. Wine and War: The Untold Story of Wine in the Middle East tells the story that starts in the 2nd BC, when the Phoenicians, the ancient Lebanese, with their awesome trading empire gave the gift of wine to the then known world.They were the first wine merchants! In doing so, the Lebanese became the masters of crisis management, a skill personified by Lebanon’s winemakers who for thousands of years have gone about their work in war, famine, occupation and the constant hum of political instability. Co-directors Mark Ryan and Mark Johnston join us to talk about the amazing resilience of the Lebanese people and how wine is such a powerful thread in their shared history.
About the filmmaker – Mark Johnston is an executive producer and documentary filmmaker who is known for tackling a full range of near-impossible production challenges with a proven track record of creative development in complex and cross-functional multicultural environments. Mark has invested all his savings to make documentaries. He doesn’t own a home. He literally once moved into a mini van to save money to film a documentary. Mark’s passion for the work takes him to the farthest places on the globe and he always strives to do what he can to help each project realize its full potential. Big budget or big challenge, domestic or around the globe… Mark has done it all with calm collection and inventive problem solving be it feature film documentaries, TV campaigns, brand funded content, animated short films, live event programming, experiential projects, the Lanzarote Iron Man, En Svensk Klassiker, Vasaloppet, and the Stones 100k Ultra Marathon.
About the filmmaker – Mark Ryan, Director / Producer. Over the past two decades, Mark has been a producer, director, and cinematographer on five continents and the North Pole. Early in his career, Mark was part of a film crew that was the first in thirty years to be given unprecedented access to the Hopi Indians of Arizona. This experience cemented Mark’s desire to sensitively tell the stories of other people. Mark has a number of film credits under his belt including the James Beard Award-winning short films The Scent of Black and Stewards of the Land. He’s also served as a producer on the MTV hit show PimpMy Ride. A Los Angeles native, Mark is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a BA in Cinema Production. He also holds a post-graduate degree from Central St. Martins School of Fine Art in London. Today, Mark combines his love for adventure, travel, and hearing the stories of other people with best practices for capturing scenes of film to create stunning imagery for clients around the world.
Yung Chang’sThis is Not a Movieis a fascinating documentary portrait of world-acclaimed British born Beirut-based foreign correspondent Robert Fisk. Fisk’s work is as vital as ever in an era of “fake news,” politicized facts, and the rise of ethno-nationalist politics. A Middle East correspondent for The Independent, Fisk holds more international journalism awards than any other foreign correspondent. For more than 40 years, journalist Robert Fisk has reported on some of the most violent and divisive conflicts in the world. Director Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze, The Fruit Hunters) captures Fisk in relentless action—feet on the ground, notebook in hand, as he travels into landscapes devastated by war, ferreting out the facts and firing reports back home to reach an audience of millions. Director Yung Chang stops by to talk about Robert Fisk’s dedicated work ethic, stamina and desire to talk with all sides of a story and why, in a time of disinformation and deceit by the powerful, his voice, his pen and his reporting have made him one of journalism’s most reliable sources of information and truth.
About the filmmaker – Yung Chang is the director of Up the Yangtze (2007), China Heavyweight (2012), and The Fruit Hunters (2012). He is currently completing a screenplay for his first dramatic feature, Eggplant. In 2015, Chang was selected to participate in the prestigious Sundance Labs for Eggplant. Chang was the Spotlight Artist for the 2019 Reel Asian Int’l Film Festival where a live script reading of Eggplant was performed to a sold-out audience by talented actors from Kim’s Convenience, The Handmaid’s Tale and Locke & Key. Chang’s award-winning short, Gatekeeper, qualified for the 2016 Oscars and is distributed by Field of Vision, Laura Poitras’ curated online film unit. His latest feature documentary, This is Not a Movie is about Robert Fisk, the iconoclastic Middle East correspondent. The film is co-produced by the National Film Board of Canada, currently on the festival circuit, World Premiered at TIFF 2019 . A graduate of the Meisner acting technique from the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in NYC and Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema in Montreal, Chang brings emotional depth and cinematic realism into his work. Chang is the recipient of the Don Haig Award, the Yolande and Pierre Perrault Award, and the Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award. He is a member of the Directors Guild of Canada. In 2013, he was invited to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization behind the Academy Awards. For more about Yung Chang’s work go to: yungfilms.com
InterReflections explores deep social issues. In three timelines our main story takes us into the future when ecological crisis and inequality has destabilized society. John Taylor, a defected government intelligence agent turned revolutionary leader, is captured by his former colleague and nemesis, Simon Devoe. Simon leads a government spy agency, encouraging John to join him to avoid punishment. Simon humors John as they debate ideas about humanity, seeing no possibility of John’s escape. But John has a secret. Our second timeline follows a woman in modern day, experiencing life as a horror show, reflecting issues such as racism and environmental destruction. Fired from her job, she sets about finding another. Her journey transforms her. Timeline three takes place 100 years forward as four academics of this future talk about the way things used to be in the early 21st century. They speak of “The Great Transition,” a dramatic global revolution that changed everything for the better. Director Peter Joseph (The New Human Rights Movement,The Zeitgeist Movement) joins us for a conversation about his genre-shattering approach to filmmaking and what his film’s vision says about the world we live in.