My Little Sister – Co-directors Stephanie Chuat and Veronique Reymond

In this moving, yet unsentimental tale from co-directors Stephanie Chuat and Veronique Reymond brilliant playwright Lisa (Nina Hoss) no longer writes. She lives in Switzerland with her family but her heart has stayed in Berlin, beating to the rhythm of her twin brother’s heart. The ties between the twins have grown stronger since Sven (Lars Eidinger) was diagnosed with an aggressive type of leukemia. He’s a famous theater actor and Lisa refuses to accept his fate, moving heaven and earth to get him back on stage. She gives her all for her soul mate, neglecting everything else, even risking her marriage. Her relationship with her husband starts to fall apart, but Lisa only has eyes for her brother, her mirror, who connects her back with her aspirations and rekindles her desire to create, to feel alive… Co-directors Stephanie Chuat and Veronique Reymond join us for a conversation on their exceptional and beautifully rendered drama on family, mortality, options and love.

 

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For newsand updates go to: filmmovement.com/my-little-sister

To watch go to: filmmovement.com/virtual-cinema-guide

Official submission of Switzerland for the ‘Best International Feature Film’ category of the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021.

Director’s statement – My Little Sister (Schwesterlein) has a special meaning for us. This film brings together three elements that are central to our lives. First, the city of Berlin to which we’ve had a strong attachment for over fifteen years. Second, the theatre, as we are both actresses. And above all, a unique friendship that goes back to our childhood. Stéphanie and Véronique were first and foremost two teenagers who shared the same love of theatre and decided to make a career out of it. Together we created a multitude of shows and together we started making films. To write My Little Sister we drew inspiration from our own atypical relationship, wherein we sometimes feel more alive when we are creating than in everyday life, like the twins in our movie, always hooked up to their shared imaginary world when they are together. We made them part of a theatre family because we are fascinated by the passion that drives those known in Germany as “Theatermenschen”. In this community, an actor who doesn’t perform doesn’t exist. He is erased from memory. Whilst on stage he glows, borne by the presence of the audience. Through our characters’ love of the theatre, our movie recounts in its own way the necessity of dreams as a way of escaping reality. My Little Sister is also the story of Lisa’s inner journey back to her creativity through the illness of her brother, her alter ego. By reconnecting with writing to beat back the shadows, she brings herself out of the darkness. Through the unbreakable bonds that link these two beings, our film celebrates the fragility and power of life, the strength of transmission, and relates that the end of one life can also be the beginning of another. – Stephanie Chuat and Veronique Reymond

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Chuat and Reymond take their time unspooling a graceful drama that twists the tear-soaked conventions of the cancer drama into something raw and satisfying.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“Nina Hoss …turns every moment into an acting master class.” – Boyd van Hoeij , The Hollywood Reporter

“A miraculous performance piece….” – Andrew Bundy, The Playlist
“With performances deeply entrenched in character ordeal and interpersonal ties, My Little Sister could not have come at a better time. “ – Joseph Braverman, We Live Entertainment

““My Little Sister” …is a thoughtful and deep look at the bonds both breakable and unbreakable in family.” – Neely Swanson, Easy Reader News

Film Maudit 2.0 – Executive Director Leo Garcia and Artistic Director Patrick Kennelly

January 12-24 2021, Highways, the legendary Los Angeles Performance Space and Gallery presents its Second Annual Film Maudit 2.0 festival showcasing and celebrating new outré, unusual and startling films. The festival will feature over 125 works of cinema from 25 countries including films rarely if ever, seen in festivals: works addressing socio-political issues and taboo subject matter that challenges conventional artistic assumptions and sexual mores.Virtual, online screenings of 18 feature films, 21 shorts programs, specially commissioned programs, and new film scored performed by artists who reflect the diversity of Los Angeles. Included are a range of narrative, documentary and experimental films that are deliberately bold, extreme, confrontational and unusual. Film Maudit 2.0 highlights this year include the U.S. premieres of Feature Films: Mathius Marvellous Shop, a Spanish/German surrealistic satire; Kriya, a magical Indian thriller, and the Los Angeles premieres of Woman of the Photographs; a powerful Japanese film about image and reality for a beautiful model; The Columnist, a darkly comic horror film from The Netherlands; A Dark, Dark Man, the Kazakhstan/France thriller just long-listed for the Golden Globes; and Darkness (Buio) the first feature film by Donatello Award-winning director Emanuela Rossi. Other special programs include a special fundraising screening of erotic art pioneers Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens’ Water Makes Us Wet, featuring a live stream Q&A with both; new, original music scores performed live to silent films, and multiple Feature and Shorts Programs that showcase works from 25 countries in 16 uniquely curated categories from ‘Ms. Fear’ to ‘Shattering Form’ – with animated documentaries to experimental works handmade on film; extreme horror to comic surrealism. There is a special focus on works in Film Maudit’s BEHOLD section, which includes NSFW! curated by Planet Queer, Hi Kicks Entrails, curated by performance artist Ironstone, and QLX: the Performance of Queer Latinx.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: filmmaudit.org

All films at the festival are free and available online January 12 through 24. Reservations are required and can be made for each program via Film Maudit 2.0’s Screening Portal: filmmaudit.org/filmmaudit

Film Maudit 2.0 festival is inspired by French avant-garde filmmaker and writer Jean Cocteau who created the original Festival du Film Maudit (literally “cursed films”) in 1949 aiming to celebrate overlooked, shocking and experimental films. Film Maudit 2.0, in its 2nd year, showcases a counter-cinema will blend of narrative, documentary and experimental films that in their style and/or subject matter, are deliberately bold, extreme, confrontational, troubling, shocking and/or unusual. The festival is funded in part by the California Arts Council, Los Angeles County Department of Cultural Affairs and the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs CAP Program.

About HIGHWAYS – Film Maudit 2.0 is co-presented by and takes place at Southern California’s boldest center for new performance and media arts, Highways Performance Space & Gallery in Santa Monica, CA. In its 31st year, Highways continues to be an important alternative cultural center in Los Angeles that encourages radical artists from diverse communities to develop and present innovative new works. Described by the Los Angeles Times as “a hub of experimental theater, dance, solo drama and other multimedia performance,” Highways promotes the development of contemporary socially involved artists and art forms. Under the helm of Executive Director, Leo Garcia, Highways has received funding and support from organizations such as the The James Irvine Foundation, Metabolic Studio, California Community Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, The Warhol Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Roy Cockrum Foundation. Leo Garcia is an award-winning playwright, filmmaker, visual artist and actor who has produced over 800 performance works as Artistic Director-turned-Executive Director of Highways since 2003. highwaysperformance.org

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Beautiful Something Left Behind – Director Katrine Philp

Life-affirming and profound, BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING LEFT BEHIND beautifully captures the heartbreaking, mundane and even the funny moments in the lives of several young children who have recently lost one or both parents. The Good Grief community in New Jersey focuses on a holistic approach to mourning, where children can give in to rage in ‘the volcano room’ or say goodbye to a dying teddy bear patient in ‘the hospital room.’ Over the course of a year, we get close to Kimmy, Nicky, Peter, Nora, Nolan and Mikayla along with their constant companion: grief, as they attend their weekly group meetings at Good Grief, practice small rituals to remember their loved ones, and go about the daily work of living. Filmmaker Katrine Philp keeps the camera and the point-of-view firmly on the children and while it is sometimes deeply sad, it’s also at times humorous to experience questions about life and death through their open and curious minds. Director Katrine Philp joins us to talk about gaining the trust of the Good Grief community, the unfettered way the children interact with one another, the loss of her own father during the making of Something Beautiful and how all of it informed the making of the film.

 

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For news and updates go to: goodcompanypictures.com/beautiful-something-left-behind

About the filmmaker – Katrine Philp is an award-winning director who graduated from The National Film School of Denmark in 2009. Her first film, ‘Book of Miri’, was awarded the President´s Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, nominated at IDFA and won the European Young CIVIS Media Prize in Germany. In 2014 Katrine won the Audience Award at the American Documentary Film Festival for her debut feature length documentary ‘Dance For Me’ which was also selected for POV on PBS in 2014.  The film was also nominated for an Emmy Award in the category ‘Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming’ 2015. She directed ‘Home Sweet Home’ in 2015 – produced with Good Company Pictures (Winner of the Danish Film Academy’s Award 2016 for Best Short Documentary, IDFA, TIFF Kids), then ‘False Confessions’ in 2018 (award Winner at CPH:DOX, Nominated as best Nordic Documentary at Nordic Panorama, winner of Special Jury Prize at LA film festival. TV2 prime time). Beautiful Something Left Behind is her latest film which won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW 2020. To find out more go to:  goodcompanypictures.com/katrine-philp

WINNER – SXSW 2020 – Best Documentary Feature

OFFICIAL SELECTION – Winner’s Circle – 2020 DOC NYC

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“Beautiful Something Left Behind” is a simple, elegant documentary about children coping with… heartbreaking loss, at a facility designed especially for them.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times

“Very emotional. Heart warming and uplifting.” – FILM THREAT

“There are no manufactured moments of intense grief, just the day-to-day activities of parents, caregivers, and children doing their best to move on from the trauma they’ve experienced.” – Audrey Fox, JumpCut Online

“Katrine Philp’s lens gracefully avoids emotional manipulation, allowing the heartbreaking stories of its children and their process to take center stage” – THE FILM STAGE

Sing Me a Song – Director Thomas Balmès

Award-winning director/producer Thomas Balmès’ returns to one of his beloved Happiness (2014) subjects, Peyangki, now a teenaged Buddhist monk living in a rural (yet Wi-Fi equipped) monastery in Bhutan, absorbed in the wonders of the world that are a simple click away. The structured daily village rituals of prayer and candle lighting now compete with the powerful lure of smartphones and TV.  Apps for chats and dating introduce the monks to girls and violent video games, neither of which quite line up with the traditional vows of the monks. Peyangki is passionate about love songs and forms a relationship over an app, WeChat, with a young singer (Ugyen) in the “big city” of Thimphu. Distracted and disinterested in study, and often scolded by his masters and mother, he sells medicinal mushrooms to make enough money to leave the monastery and travel to Ugyen. Peyangki trades in his robes for street clothes, but will he succumb to romance and the temptations of the city or return to his pious life in the monastery? Director Thomas Balmès (Babies, Christ Comes to Papuans, A Decent Factory) joins us to talk about his nuanced portrait of a young man’s introduction to the world, offers us an eye-opening snapshot of the effects of technology, and challenges us to reassess our perceptions of self-worth and beliefs in an age of unparalleled connectivity.

 

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For news and updates go to: thomasbalmes.com/sing-me-a-song

About the filmmaker – Thomas Balmès directed his first film in 1996; BOSNIA HOTEL was the story of U.N. Kenyan peacekeepers in Bosnia. Thomas Balmès has been working as an independent director and producer of nonfiction films, specializing in international co-productions, since 1992. His initial projects included studies of filmmakers James Ivory and Michelangelo Antonioni. This was followed by MAHARAJAH BURGER; Mad Cows; Holy Cows, about the mad cow crisis as seen from the Indian perspective. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE PAPUANS (2000) following the conversion to Christianity of a Papuan Chief, was honored with the Silver Spire Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival. He directed a sequel in Papua the following year, WAITING FOR JESUS. A DECENT FACTORY, the story of a Nokia executive who inspects a mobile phone factory in China, was screened at more than 50 film festivals and received many honors, including a Europa Award. The film was released theatrically in the U.S. in 2005. DAMAGES, a.k.a. How Much Is Your Life Worth?, was filmed at a Connecticut law firm specializing in personal injury cases, and was co-produced by 15 countries and broadcast worldwide. Thomas initiated a series for national Japanese television : NHK, Tokyo Modern; and produced (A NORMAL LIFE – CHRONICLE OF A SUMO Wrestler), directed by Jill Coulon, which screened at Amsterdam’s 2009 International Documentary Film Festival. He is regularly invited to conduct lectures and master classes in France and abroad such as Brown University, the Watson Institute, Lisbon International Film Festival. His next film, BABIES takes a look at one year in the life of four babies from around the world, from Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo. Happiness reflects the impact of the arrival of television in a small Himalayan village. Through the eyes of an eight years old monk named Peyangki, praying eagerly for a TV set, we see the last village of Bhutan going through the process of globalization. The film won the Documentary World Cinema Cinematography Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. For more go to: thomasbalmes.com

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90% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Balmès has greater profundity in mind when disseminating astute observations about how modern necessities and communicative devices impact cultures and ecosystems.” – Courtney Howard, Variety

“Balmès doesn’t arrive at easy, scathing conclusions about the internet. Instead, he lets the camera journey to unexpected places, leading to a different kind of meditation that strikes with deep emotional resonance…” – Kristen Yoonsoo Kim, New York Times

“Even if we see “trouble” the minute we spy that first phone, we don’t necessarily guess how this fascinating “speed of change” story will play out.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

“This film will not resolve the question of whether technological “progress” represents an advance or a decline in civilization, but it certainly will provoke conversations about that issue.” – Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter

The Reason I Jump – Director Jerry Rothwell

THE REASON I JUMP is an immersive cinematic exploration of neuro-diversity through the experiences of non-speaking autistic people from around the world, based on the best-selling book by Naoki Higashida. The film blends Higashida’s revelatory insights into autism, written when he was just 13, with intimate portraits of five remarkable young people. It opens a window for audiences into an intense and overwhelming, but often joyful, sensory universe. Moments in the lives of each of the characters are linked by the journey of a young Japanese boy through an epic landscape; narrated passages from Naoki’s writing reflect on what his autism means to him and others, how his perception of the world differs, and why he acts in the way he does: the reason he jumps. THE REASON I JUMP distills these elements into a sensually rich tapestry that leads us to Naoki’s core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say. Director Jerry Rothwell stops by to talk about his deeply empathetic look into the lives of people with autism from around the world, with each story broadening our perspective and understanding of what it means to be a neuro-diverse person. 

 

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For news and updates go to: the-reason-i-jump

About the filmmaker – Jerry Rothwell is a filmmaker whose work includes the award-winning feature documentaries: The Reason I Jump, based on the bestselling book by Naoki Higashida; How To Change The World, about the founders of Greenpeace; Sour Grapes (co-directed with Reuben Atlas) a film about a wine counterfeiter Town of Runners, about two girls in an Ethiopian village who aspire to be athletes; Donor Unknown, about a sperm donor and his many offspring; School In The Cloud, about radical educationalist, Sugata Mitra; Heavy Load, about a group of people with learning disabilities who form a punk band, and Deep Water (co-directed with Louise Osmond), about Donald Crowhurst’s ill-fated voyage in the 1968 round the world yacht race. His work has won numerous accolades including two Grierson Awards, a Sundance Special Jury Prize, an RTS Award, the IDA Pare Lorentz Award and a BAFTA nomination.

About the writer (The Reason I Jump) – Naoki Higashida was born in Kimitsu, Japan in 1992. Diagnosed with severe autism when he was five, he subsequently learned to communicate using a handmade alphabet grid and began to write poems and short stories. At the age of thirteen he wrote The Reason I Jump, which was published in Japan in 2007. Its English translation came out in 2013, and it has now been published in more than thirty languages. Higashida has since published several books in Japan, including children’s and picture books, poems, and essays. He continues to give presentations throughout Japan about his experience of autism.

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WINNER – World Cinema Documentary Audience Award – Sundance FF 2020 
NOMINEE – Best Cinematography – Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards 2020
NOMINEE – Best Feature – IDA Documentary Awards 2020
NOMINEE – Best Director – IDA Documentary Awards 2020 NOMINEE – Best Documentary – British Independent Film Awards 2020

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Wondrous… A work that enlightens and informs but that is also ravishing

to behold.” – Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter

“While The Reason I Jump is a profound and moving experience, one that isn’t easy to forget, it’s most effective when operating as an experimental work.” – John Fink, The Film Stage

“An inventive, sensuous documentary worthy of its source… This compassionate, creative documentary will open ears and eyes in equal measure.” – Guy Lodge, Variety

“Exquisite… All aspects of this film deserve praise.” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen

Two Ways Home – Director Ron Vignone and Producer / Actor Tanna Frederick

Based on Richard Schinnow’s screenplay,  TWO WAYS HOME compassionately follows Kathy (Tanna Frederick), a woman newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder who is released from prison on good behavior and returns to her country home in Iowa to reconnect with her estranged 12-year-old daughter (Rylie Behr) and her cantankerous elderly grandfather (Tom Bower). Her return home is turbulent and a rough, unwelcome transition in which Kathy must come to terms with her diagnosis and its implications on her identity, while also realizing that her family was happier when she was gone. As she struggles to maintain balance with her condition, complications with her daughter’s well-being and her grandfather’s health test her sense of self-worth to the limit. TWO WAYS HOME masterfully showcases Iowa’s small town beauty and sympathetically highlights the importance of mental wellness and self-discovery. Director Ron Vignone and actor / producer Tanna Frederick join us to talk about their collaboration in the making of a film that features a person dealing with a mental illness without making it the only thing we should care about in TWO WAYS HOME.

 

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

Tanna Frederick is an Actress, Producer, and Environmental Activist. She has starred in six feature films with film iconoclast Henry Jaglom, and has won numerous Best Actress awards on the festival circuit. Method Fest named her “One to Watch”; she has received the CineCause Award, the University of Iowa’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival’s Maverick Award. Tanna alongside director Randal Kleiser (Grease) created and launched DEFROST, a revolutionary virtual reality experience, premiering at Sundance and Cannes. She is the founder of ProjectSaveOurSurf.org hosting monthly beach cleanups and a camp, which has reached thousands of displaced youth in Southern California and Mexico, educating them on environmental issues in our oceans.

Ron Vignone is an award-winning director whose filmmaking revolves around issues that are deeply personal and important in his life. Two Ways Home, his latest effort, is an edgy slice of Americana about a woman living with bipolar condition who aims to reunite with her estranged teenage daughter in their sleepy Iowa hometown. “Taking the shame out of our conditions” was a theme that drew Ron to making Two Ways Home. A graduate of the University of Southern California, Vignone’s work as a filmmaker has focused on protagonists who embark on a physical journey while struggling with their deeply conflicted interiors. Ron’s inspirations come from compromising situations while traveling, his family, great literature, and strong Italian coffee.

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TWO WAYS HOME has been officially endorsed by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

“TWO WAYS HOME… makes for a thoughtful, warm journey back to a place a lot of Americans will recognize, even those of us who moved away.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

‘”TWO WAYS HOME makes a valuable contribution to the public understanding of mental health issues and to reduce stigma surrounding them…” – Mitzi Wright, National Alliance on Mental Illness (LA, California chapter)

“With star Tanna Frederick producing, Two Ways Home was directed by Ron Vignone and filmed in Iowa. They found the right mix: one false move in any direction and the tone could have gone off the rails into hopeless Hallmark-channel schmaltz, or incomprehensible chaos. Amazingly, Frederick and Vignone masterfully created a moving film that pulls no punches while compassionately exploring life with mental illness.” – FIlm Threat

“One actress and film that stood out to us is Tanna Frederick from Two Ways Home. Tanna Frederick is captivating, raw, and lights up the screen. Frederick’s performance also provokes intense emotion from the audience. You find yourself rooting for her character, Kathy, who is fighting hard to put her family back together. Tanna Frederick is an incredibly gifted actress.” – GEMMA

“TWH will make a significant difference in people’s lives and is a powerful tool to further families’ understanding and education about bi-polar illness.” – Yin Simpson, National Alliance on Mental Illness (Minneapolis, MN chapter)

Nasrin – Director Jeff Kaufman and Producer Marcia S. Ross

Directed, produced, and written by Jeff Kaufman and produced by Marcia S. Ross (Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life) NASRIN is an immersive portrait of one of the world’s most courageous human rights activists and an outspoken leader of Iran’s remarkably resilient women’s rights movement. She is currently in the fifth week of a hunger strike and serving a long sentence in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. Millions of people from over 200 nations have called for Nasrin’s release including President-elect Joe Biden; journalist Christiane Amanpour; journalist/activist Gloria Steinem; author Margaret Atwood; Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, and many others. Secretly filmed in Iran by men and women who risked arrest, NASRIN features interviews with acclaimed filmmaker Jafar Panahi, Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, journalist Ann Curry, and Nasrin’s husband and fellow-activist Reza Khandan. NASRIN is narrated by Oscar® winning actress Olivia Colman and also features an original song by Tony Award®-winning composers Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty and performed by 4-time Grammy® winner Angélique Kidjo. In addition, Washington Post columnist and former political prisoner Jason Rezaian serves as one of the film’s Executive Producers. Director Jeff Kaufman and Producer Marcia S. Ross join us to talk about one of the world’s most courageous woman and about the daily challenges she and other civil and women’s rights activist face in one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

Update on Nasrin: As of today, Nasrin Sotoudeh has been ordered back to prison in Iran. Earlier last month, she was released from prison due to health reasons and the corona -19 virus. Then, she had just ended her 40+ day hunger strike at the end of October in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. Please join us in telling her story and amplifying her voice for her freedom. Nasrin hashtag #StandUp4NASRIN continues to grow daily.

 

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

About the filmmaker – Jeff Kaufman produced, directed, and wrote the documentaries Every Act Of Life (2018 Tribeca premiere, aired June 2019 on American Masters), The State of Marriage, Father Joseph, The Savoy King: Chick Webb and the Music That Changed America, Brush With Life: The Art of Being Edward Biberman, and Education Under Fire, plus a number of short films for Amnesty International, and programs for The Discovery Channel, and The History Channel. He also edited/designed a book based on the film Every Act Of Life, contributed cartoons to The New Yorker, and illustrations to The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, wrote/illustrated several children’s books, and hosted daily radio shows in Vermont and Los Angeles.

About the filmmaker – Marcia Ross produced the documentaries Every Act Of Life, The State of Marriage, Father Joseph, and The Savoy King. Additionally she has an over 3-decade career as an independent casting director and casting executive, serving 16 years as EVP for Casting at Walt Disney Motion Pictures, and 5 years as VP for Casting and Talent Development at Warner Brothers TV. Some of her film and television credits include Clueless, Cujo, thirtysomething, Murder in Mississippi, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Princess Diaries, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, The Lookout, Enchanted, Oblivion, and Parental Guidance. She has received career achievement awards from the Casting Society of America and the Hollywood Film Festival.

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“A terrific documentary by Jeff Kaufman.” – Peter Rainer, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

“Nasirin reaffirmed my faith in the humanity and courage of those in Iran who struggle against a repressive regime.”- Robert Denerstein, Denerstein Unleashed

“Nasrin is a moving portrait of an unforgettable fighter and a vital film that should be seen by audiences around the globe.” – Loren King, AWFJ Women on Film

“This is fortitude writ large.” – Brian Shaer, Film Threat

Yellow Rose – Director Diane Paragas

YELLOW ROSE features Eva Noblezada, who is joined by fellow Miss Saigon alum and Tony Award winner Lea Salonga. The film follows Rose Garcia, a 17-year-old Filipina American in Texas. When her mom is arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Rose undertakes a musical journey while facing deportation back to the Philippines. Inspired by the music of country musicians like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Willie Nelson, the original composition accompanied by Noblezada’s captivating voice becomes the soundtrack of Rose’s wanderings akin to American westerns. YELLOW ROSE Director Diane Paragas joins us to talk about her warm-hearted tale of a young woman’s determination to fight back against the cruelty of a heartless immigration system while pursuing her own version of the American Dream deep in the heart of Texas with Austin’s music icon, Dale Watson at her side.

 

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

Yellow Rose is available on Digital now and on Blu-ray and DVD January 5

About the filmmaker – Diane Paragas is an award-winning director, editor, cinematographer and producer of commercials, narrative features and documentaries. IN 2012, Paragas co-directed Brooklyn Boheme, a feature length documentary about an African American arts movement, with writer and critic Nelson George.  The film featuring Spike Lee, Chris Rock and Rosie Perez to name a few. The film was acquired by Showtime and won a Black Reel Award for Best Documentary. In 2019, Paragas wrote and directed her debut narrative feature, Yellow Rose, about an undocumented Filipino-American teen pursuing a dream to become a country music singer. The film won over a dozen Grand Jury Prizes during its festival run and will be released by Sony Pictures in 2020. She is also in pre-production for a bold feature documentary about a wrongfully convicted undocumented immigrant called “The Three Lives of David Wong” that uses puppetry to tell its story. The film was is supported by The Sundance Institute,  The Bertha Foundation Grant and CAAM. Ms Paragas is a 2020 recipient of the prestigious Creative Capital Award  and was named as A100’s Most Impactful Asians of 2020 alongside directors Bong Joon Ho, Taika Waititi and Lulu Wang. 

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“The film beautifully captures the struggles of a young woman to find her voice and a sense of belonging in an often hostile world as it celebrates the joy of making music and its power to provide hope.” – Loren King, AWFJ Women on Film

“Diane Paragas’ film finds fresh ground to explore the price and the power of the American dream, bolstered by country crooning and heartbreaking (and very real) legal worries.” – Kate Erbland, indieWire

“Writer-director Diane Paragas spins a story that is both politically timely and personal.” – Kristen Yoonsoo Kim, New York Times

“An affecting portrayal of a young woman finding her footing against all odds, and claiming her home in a nation that makes it unduly challenging.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

“The lean screenplay and [Diane] Paragas’ focused creative vision makes for a singular directorial feature debut that feels like nothing else happening in film right now.” – Beth Sullivan, Austin Chronicle

HERSELF – Director Phyllida Lloyd

HERSELF tells the story of Sandra (Clare Dunne) a single mom looking to escape her abusive partner with her two young children, only to find herself trapped in temporary accommodation. After months of struggling, she draws inspiration from one of her daughter’s bedtime stories and hits upon the idea of self-building an affordable home. She finds an architect who provides her with plans and is offered land by Peggy (Harriet Walter), a woman she cleans for. Aido (Conleth Hill), a building contractor, appears willing to help, too. In order to do so, she must escape the grip of a possessive ex-partner, circumnavigate a broken housing system, and bring together a community of friends who can support her and lend a helping hand. But as her past rears its head in the form of Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson), her possessive ex, and as bureaucrats fight back against her independent spirit, will Sandra be able to rebuild her life from the ground up? Director Phyllida Lloyd (The Iron Lady, Mama Mia!) joins us to talk about her beautifully rendered story about a young woman who refuses to give up on her girls, her her life and her dreams.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: herself.film

About the filmmaker – Director Phyllida Lloyd studied English and drama at Birmingham University and is now widely known for her award-winning work in theatre, opera and film. Her opera credits include La Bohème, Albert Herring, Carmen and Peter Grimes for Opera North, The Carmelites for English National Opera and Welsh National Opera, The Handmaid’s Tale for Royal Danish Opera and ENO, the Ring cycle and a staged production of Verdi’s Requiem for ENO, Macbeth for Paris Opéra and an award-winning film of Gloriana for BBC2. Her theatre and musical credits include Josephine and I (Bush Theatre/Public Theatre, New York), Mary Stuart (Donmar Warehouse, West End and Broadway; winner of a 2006 South Bank Show Theatre Award), Six Degrees of Separation and Wild East (Royal Court), Henry IV and Julius Caesar (Donmar Warehouse/St Ann’s Warehouse), Pericles, The Duchess of Malfi, What the Butler Saw, The Way of the World and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (National Theatre), The Virtuoso and Artists and Admirers (Royal Shakespeare Company) and the global musical hit Mamma Mia!. Lloyd directed the film of Mamma Mia! in 2008, which went on to make over $600 million worldwide. She also directed The Iron Lady in 2011, which went on to win a Best Actress Oscar for its star, Meryl Streep, as well as grossing over $100 million at the box office. 

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“A stunning, taut performance from actor and co-writer Dunne cuts through a flurry of clumsy good intentions to convince. The film is at its most powerful when it rests on her traumatised face.” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International

“So many films are branded ‘urgent’ nowadays, but in the case of Herself the term really does feel apt.” – Hannah Woodhead, Little White Lies

“With her elegant, restrained and quietly devastating performance as a headstrong yet financially struggling single-mother of two young girls, Clare Dunne is a revelation [in Herself].” – Tomris Laffly, RogerEbert.com

“If there is a lot of “happy coincidence” driving the plot, Dunne gets away with it by constructing this tale of female resilience and community from the ground up, through well-observed moments between mother and daughters.” – Amber Wilkinson, Times (UK)

Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults – Director Clay Tweel

Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults is a thorough examination of the infamous UFO cult through the eyes of its former members and loved ones. What started in 1975 with the disappearance of 20 people from a small town in Oregon, ended in 1997 with the largest suicide on US soil and changed the face of modern New Age religion forever. This HBO Max four-part docu-series uses never-before-seen footage and first-person accounts to explore the infamous UFO cult that shocked the nation with their out-of-this-world beliefs. Director and Producer Clay Tweel joins us for a rollicking conversation on one of the most sensational and compelling collection of intelligent, engaging, and spiritually inspired people to ever embrace a collection of beliefs, brought to them by former minister and natal nurse, that eventually led them to hitch a ride on an undetectable space ship heading for parts unknown.

 

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Heaven’s Gate: Cult of Cults can be seen on: hbomax.com

In the beginning… The son of a Presbyterian minister and a former soldier, Marshall Applewhite began his foray into biblical prophecy in the early 1970s. After being fired from the University of St. Thomas in HoustonTexas over an alleged relationship with one of his male students, he met Bonnie Nettles, a 44-year-old married nurse with an interest in theosophy and biblical prophecy, in March 1972. According to Applewhite’s writings, the two met in a hospital where she worked while he was visiting a sick friend there. It has been rumored that it was a psychiatric hospital, but Nettles was substituting for another nurse working with premature babies in the nursery.  Applewhite later recalled that he felt as though he had known Nettles for a long time and concluded that they had met in a past life. She told him their meeting had been foretold to her by extraterrestrials, persuading him that he had a divine assignment. – (from Wikipedia) 

About the filmmaker – Clay Tweel is a native Virginian living in Los Angeles, California. Clay is a documentary director/producer/editor with a passion for telling great character based stories. His works include Make Believe, Print the Legend, Finders Keepers, Out of Omaha and Gleason – the last of which was shortlisted for an Academy Award and named one of the 5 best documentaries of 2016 by the National Board of Review. His features have been distributed by Showtime, Netflix, and Amazon Studios while working closely with companies that include Open Road, The Orchard and Exhibit A. Most recently, Clay executive produced and directed all six episodes of The Innocent Man, a true crime doc series for Netflix based on John Grisham’s only non fiction book. He is currently directing a feature documentary and producing numerous projects under his banner Parkside Films. claytweel.com

About the filmmaker – Shannon Riggs is a producer with a diverse background in film spanning multiple genres and scales. Alongside award winning director Clay Tweel, she produced the Netflix 6 part docu-series, The Innocent Man, and the Academy Award shortlisted documentary Gleason. Recently Shannon produced The Smartest Kids In the World based on Amanda Ripley’s New York Times bestseller, which premiered at DOC NYC in 2018 and was directed by Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, Tracy Droz Tragos. Shannon was a Sundance Fellow and participant in their 2015  Female Filmmaker Initiative.  She is also honored to be a member of Women in Film and actively mentors young filmmakers through various industry programs.   She is currently producing a feature documentary and numerous projects under her banner Parkside Films with co-founder and director Clay Tweel.

86% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Heaven’s Gate: Cult of Cults is a thoughtful assessment of the mechanisms of how otherwise smart, savvy people are attracted to fringe beliefs. It takes a story that is larger than life and brings it solidly back to earth.” – Ashlie D. Stevens, Salon.com

“What The Cult Of Cults does very effectively is tell the story of the organization, showing why it attracted members and held onto them for so long.” – Joel Keller, Decider

“Viewers may bob in and out during the first few episodes, though it’s worth sticking out for the grand finale, as sickening as it is oddly poignant.” – Ryan Lattanzio, indieWire

“The human toll isn’t lost among the kooky, UFO-centric beliefs of Ti and Do’s followers.” – Beau North, The Spool

Finding Yingying – Jiayan “Jenny” Shi

FINDING YINGYING follows the nightmarish story of a 26-year-old Chinese student, Yingying Zhang, who comes to the U.S. to study. In her detailed and beautiful diaries, the aspiring young scientist and teacher is full of optimism, hoping to also be married and a mother someday. Within weeks of her arrival, Yingying disappears from the campus. Through exclusive access to Yingying’s family and boyfriend, Finding Yingying closely follows their journey as they search to unravel the mystery of her disappearance and seek justice for their daughter while navigating a strange, foreign country. But most of all, Finding Yingying is the story of who Yingying was: a talented young woman loved by her family and friends. Director Jiayan “Jenny” Shi joins us for a conversation on documenting a heartbreaking story, gaining the trust and confidence of a grieving family dealing with some very difficult truths.

 

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

To watch the film go yo: findingyingying.com/see-the-film

About the filmmaker – Jiayan “Jenny” Shi is a Chicago-based documentary filmmaker and video journalist who is passionate about social justice issues regarding people of color. She shoots, edits and produces video stories and short documentaries about immigration, race and crime in Chicago for multiple outlets. She is also working on several projects as a researcher, digital content editor and translator including the ITVS co-produced web series Pulling The Thread and the 2020 Academy Award-winning Higher Ground Netflix film, American Factory. Jenny is a graduate of Kartemquin’s Diverse Voices In Docs program, a TFI Network alum, the winner of the Paley DocPitch Competition 2018 and a fellow of 2020-2021 Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellowship. Jenny is named one of the DOC NYC “40 Under 40” filmmakers.

About Kartemquin – Sparking democracy through documentary since 1966, Kartemquin is a collaborative community that empowers documentary makers who create stories that foster a more engaged and just society. Kartemquin’s films have received four Academy Award® nominations and won many more major prizes, including six Emmys® and four Peabody Awards. Recognized as a leading advocate for independent public media, Kartemquin has helped hundreds of artists via its filmmaker development programs and championing of documentary.Kartemquin is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization based in Chicago.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“It’s remarkable how Finding Yingying gets away from the traditional framework that governs how these stories are told, allowing the Zhangs to be seen separately from the horrific situation they find themselves in…” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest

“’Finding Yingying proves that centering the lives lost and the loved ones left behind can make for an intriguing a true-crime documentary.” – Jonita Davis, The Black Cape

“Compelling, heartfelt, and just as frustrating to watch – Finding Yingying not only makes for one of the most essential watches of the year but also for the sake of much-needed change.” – Andrew J. Salazar, Geeks of Color

“Intimate and haunting.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter

Through the Night – Director Loira Limbal

THROUGH THE NIGHT is a cinema vérité portrait of three working mothers whose lives intersect at Dee’s Tots Daycare in New Rochelle, NY: a mother working the overnight shift as a pediatric nurse; another holding down three low-wage jobs to support her two girls; and Deloris “Nunu” Hogan, who for over two decades has cared for the children of parents with nowhere else to turn. A tender portrait of titanic strength, love and selflessness, THROUGH THE NIGHT showcases the multiplicity of “women’s work” – paid, underpaid and unpaid; emotional and physical; domestic and career-oriented – all while negotiating the terms of a dignified existence under the three arrows of racism, sexism and capitalism in America. THROUGH THE NIGHT will open this Friday, December 11th at the Laemmle Virtual Cinema in addition to virtual cinemas around the country. Director Loira Limbal joins us for a conversation on the myriad of issues raised in this deceptively simple meditation of the why and how millions of hard working people in the home of the brave can do all the right things only to find themselves one random event away from the economic abyss that is modern American life. 

 

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For news and updates go to: throughthenightfilm.com

About the filmmaker – Loira Limbal is an Afro-Dominican filmmaker and DJ based in the Bronx. She is the Senior Vice President of Programs at Firelight Media, an organization that provides mentorship, funding and industry access to emerging filmmakers of color. THROUGH THE NIGHT was an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca, AFI Docs, Camden, Hot Springs Documentary, Double Exposure and DOC NYC festivals. Her first film, ESTILO HIP HOP, aired on PBS in 2009. Loira is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a former Ford Foundation Justfilms/Rockwood Fellow. Additionally, she co-produces and helms the popular Brooklyn monthly #APartyCalledRosiePerez. Limbal received a B.A. in History from Brown University and is a graduate of the Third World Newsreel’s Film and Video Production Training Program. She is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a former Ford Foundation Justfilms/Rockwood Fellow.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“This quietly engaging documentary is also subtly political, showing with clear eyes how good people are trying to patch gaps in our society that shouldn’t be there in the the first place.” – Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

“Through the Night is both celebration and indictment. A sympathetic depiction of “women’s work,” in all its unsung dignity, it’s also a quietly damning portrait of a merciless economy’s effect on working-class mothers… – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter

“Without making it too obvious, Limbal’s documentary shines a light on the unspoken backbone of our economy. – Monica Castillo, Remezcla

‘”Through the Night” won me over though, not because director Loira Limbal has any illusions about objectivity, but because she prefers to step back and show the toll inequality takes on the very people our culture supposedly reveres most – families.” – Andrea Thompson, A Reel of One’s Own

Assassins – Director Ryan White

ASSASSINS documents the bizarre, international plot, ripped from the headlines story of  Kim Jong-nam—the half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un assassination in the bustling departures hub of Malaysia’s international airport. The spectacularly brazen murder happened in broad daylight, filmed entirely by security cameras. Footage showed two young women approaching Jong-nam from behind, covering his eyes with their hands, and pressing VX—the most lethal nerve gas on earth—into his eyes. He stumbled away and was dead within an hour. But if the murder was extreme, the story behind what came next was even more bizarre: The two women who killed Jong-nam claimed they had simply been hired to pull a video prank and had no idea what they were really doing. The Malaysian government scoffed, arrested and imprisoned the women and put them on trial for murder, facing execution. But was their outlandish story actually the truth? And would anyone believe them? ASSASSINS the latest film from director Ryan White (Ask Dr. Ruth, The Case Against 8), travels from the sanctums of Pyongyang to the rice fields of Indonesia and Vietnam to the courtrooms of Kuala Lumpur to tell an extraordinary tale of manipulation and subterfuge in the age of social media. A masterful investigation that offers an unprecedented look at the real story of Kim Jong-nam’s murder,  ASSASSINS Director Ryan White stops by to discuss the wildly improbable tale of a calculating dictator, a nefarious plot, a very public murder, and two women fighting for their lives.

 

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

For more on the filmmakers go to: tripod-media.com

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Ryan White’s fascinating documentary chronicles plays like a political thriller with tragic consequences for the two women at its center.” – Matt Goldberg, Collider

“It’s a Kafka-esque and sometimes darkly comic tale of deception and exploitation that makes for a smartly assembled and eminently topical film that arrives at a crucial juncture in world affairs…” – Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter

“As you watch the movie, I promise that there are moments when your jaw will drop.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“Director Ryan White masterfully breaks down the complex mechanics of North Korean politics and the Malaysian justice system in a fascinating thriller.” – Ian Thomas Malone

Actor Azura Skye, The Swerve

In Dean Kapsalis’s feature film debut, THE SWERVE, we meet Holly, (Azura Skye) woman who seemingly has it all: two kids, a nice house, a good job as a teacher, and a husband with his career on the way up. But there are troubling signs that all is not right in her world. The insomnia. The medication for the insomnia. The dreams from the medication for the insomnia. (Are they even dreams?) And then there’s the mouse that appears in her home. Upsetting her already delicate balance, it sends her spiraling out of control. Writer/director Dean Kapsalis’ emotionally raw and unsparing film, THE SWERVE, explores a week in the life of a woman on the verge in this haunting meditation on mental illness. Actor Azura Skye joins us to talk about her preparation and collaboration with director / writer Kapsalis as well as the physical challenges of playing such a demanding role.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: epic-pictures.com/film/the-swerve

About the actor – Azura Skye is a Los Angeles native whose gemologist parents named her after the mineral azurite. Skye began her career in the theatre as a child and segued into film and television in her teens, where she’s since managed to garner a lengthy resume. Skye’s credits include the films 28 DAYS, BANDITS, RED DRAGON, ONE MISSED CALL, HEAVEN’S FALL and WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY. On the small screen she has appeared in numerous television shows including BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, HOUSE M.D., THE MENTALIST, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, GIRLS, and RIVERDALE. She starred in the NBC comedy WORKING THE ENGELS and in the independent feature TAKE ME TO THE RIVER, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

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98% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Azura Skye’s tremendous performance [is] as unblinkingly honest as anything Gena Rowlands has done.” – Sheila O’Malley, RogerEbert.com

“The Swerve’s devastating depiction of domestic depression is elevated by an astonishing, tortured performance from Azura Skye.” – Shaun Munro, Flickering Myth

“Azura Skye’s broken, powerhouse performance animates this brittle psychological thriller about a woman on the edge.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

“…no less irresistible and poisonous than the nation’s prevailing patriarchy, making Holly’s violent deviation from her prescribed homemaking path the last tragic swerve of a woman in trouble.” – Anton Bitel, Sight and Sound

“It is an amazingly cathartic experience. I’m incredibly impressed that Dean Kapsalis was able to convey the suffering of a woman so well, without belittling or objectifying Holly in the process.” – Lorry Kikta, Film Threat

“A beautiful and brutal study of depression, paranoia and the descent into the unthinkable. The message that Kapsalis voicing is one that, like Holly, needs to be heard.” – Kat Hughes, THN

Tandem Pictures, Founder Julie Christeas and COO Jonathan Blitstein

Tandem Pictures is a leader in conceiving and implementing eco-sustainable filmmaking practices in the indie film space, with all of their productions following Environmental Media Association standards and the Producers Guild’s Green Best Practices. They’re also an advocate for how these practices – from using hybrid vehicles on set, to having the sound and camera teams use rechargeable batteries, to composting and using metal straws – can and should be adopted industry-wide. Female owned and operated, it is Tandem’s mission is to bring female talent and narratives to the forefront. They embrace female-centric storytelling, and pride themselves on the fact that the casts and crews of their films are composed of underserved and underrepresented minority groups, LGBTQIA, and women.  tandempictures.com

 

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ABOUT TANDEM PICTURES Since 2010, TANDEM PICTURES has elevated and given a platform to misrepresented and underrepresented ideas. We are filmmakers, driven by justice and representation for both people and the planet. We strive to not only tell stories, but to share learnings with the industry in order to grow positive filming practices across our community.  Past films include acclaimed festival films THE SURROGATE, BLOODSTRIPE, THE EYES OF MY MOTHER, THE SLEEPWALKER, WILDLIKE, GHOST TEAM and more.  tandempictures.com

JULIE CHRISTEAS – Tandem Pictures – Founder, Chief Executive Officer        Julie’s recent films include BLACK BEAR (Sundance 2020) starring Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon which will be released later this year by eOne/Momentum and THE SURROGATE (SXSW 2020/Monument Releasing) . She also executive produced the cult horror favorite THE EYES OF MY MOTHER (Sundance 2016/Magnet Releasing), MONOGAMY (Best NY Narrative, Tribeca Film Festival 2010), the feature doc DUKALE’S DREAM starring Hugh Jackman, and GHOST TEAM starring Jon Heder, David Krumholtz, Justin Long, Amy Sedaris and Melonie Diaz. Previously she produced BLOOD STRIPE (Jury Prize for Best Narrative Film, LA Film Festival 2016), WILDLIKE starring Bruce Greenwood and Brian Geraghty (HIFF), and THE SLEEPWALKER starring Christopher Abbott and Brady Corbet (Sundance 2014/IFC). 

JONATHAN BLITSTEIN – Tandem Pictures – Co-owner, Chief Operating Officer Jonathan’s most recently produced the acclaimed films THE SURROGATE, and BLACK BEAR (SUNDANCE, EOne/Universal release) starring Aubrey Plaza. Prior to Tandem he worked in production and branded entertainment for Vudu, Sony and Disney, supporting Fortune 500 Brands such as Walmart, Sprint and Covergirl. At Oracle (formerly CrowdTwist), he initiated the creation of Marvel Studios’ first nationwide fan loyalty program Marvel Insider. In his early career, he made two micro-budget feature films LET THEM CHIRP AWHILE and ANOTHER KIND which both premiered at the Woodstock Film Festival which were distributed on Netflix and VOD. Early career roles include marketing arthouse films such as Park Chan Wook’s OLD BOY, and Noah Baumbach’s SQUID AND THE WHALE. 

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The Last Sermon, Director Jack Baxter

THE LAST SERMON begins with a flashback to the horrific 2003 terrorist attack on a Tel Aviv blues bar called Mike’s Place. THE LAST SERMON then takes us straight into today’s headlines when filmmakers Baxter and Faudem – united for life by the tragedy of that terrible night – seek answers about the suicide bombers who almost murdered them. In the aftermath of the infamous April 2003 suicide bombing at Mike’s Place that killed three and injured dozens, including Baxter, the filmmakers made the award-winning documentary BLUES BY THE BEACH (2004). But they didn’t get to tell the entire story at that time. THE LAST SERMON started in Jerusalem. Baxter and Faudem and their film crew traveled to Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary, Germany, Czech Republic, France, then on to England. At Refugee Camps and  Mosques they interviewed, interacted and challenged Muslims and non-Muslims with the last words of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or a non-Arab over an Arab, or a White over a Black, or a Black over a White, except by righteousness and piety.” Director and subject Jack Baxter joins us for a conversation on the how the Mike’s Place bombing started him on a personal quest to confront hatred, ignorance and move those he meets to recognize our collective humanity.

 

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For news and updates go to: thelastsermonmovie.com

About the filmmaker – Jack Baxter is a writer, director, producer and freelance journalist from New York City. He produced the controversial and critically acclaimed 1995 documentary “Brother Minister: The Assassination of Malcolm X.” Mr. Baxter and his wife, Executive Producer Fran Strauss-Baxter, are the producers of the award-winning documentary, “Blues by The Beach” (2004). Jack is the co-author of the graphic novel, “Mike’s Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv” (2015) published by Macmillan.

About the filmmaker – Joshua Faudem is an award-winning American-Israeli documentary filmmaker who has shot and directed television programs in Israel, Europe, Canada, and America. Mr. Faudem directed the award-winning documentary “Blues by the Beach” (2004) and is the co-author of the graphic novel “Mike’s Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv.”

Official Selection of the 2020 International Human Rights Film Festival

Winner of the Best Documentary Feature and the Truth Seeker Award at the 2020 Queens World

Yalda – A Night for Forgiveness, Director Massoud Bakhshi

In Massoud Bakhshi’s riveting new film, Yalda – A Night for Forgiveness, Maryam is a 22-year-old woman, who has been sentenced to death for murdering her 65-year-old husband, Nasser. Iranian law allows for the victim’s family to forgive her and spare her life, so Maryam’s fate will be decided by Nasser’s daughter, Mona, 37, on the country’s most popular televised reality show. In front of millions of viewers during Yalda, the winter solstice celebration, Maryam and Mona discover that forgiveness can be difficult as they relive the past. Director and screenwriter Massoud Bakhshi brings aesthetic energy and dramatic intensity to a story that unfolds over a few hours and almost entirely within the studio. Compelled by the social complexities of contemporary Iran, Bakhshi started as a documentary filmmaker, during which time he met several women who had murdered their husbands. Their stories stayed with him as he developed this powerful exploration of women characters. Although Maryam and Mona are condemned in some way and subject to Iran’s profound patriarchy, they find agency, moral authority, and freedom within those confines.  Winner of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness elucidates Iran’s vibrant, modern identity alongside its deeply traditional culture.

 

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For news and updates go to: pyramidefilms.com/yalda-a-night-for-forgiveness

About the filmmaker – Born in Tehran, Iran, in 1972, Massoud Bakhshi has worked as film critic, scriptwriter and producer, before making 12 documentaries and short films which were awarded internationally. His first feature film A Respectable Family was selected at Cannes Film Festival 2012 (Quinzaine des réalisateurs). Yalda, a night for forgiveness is his second feature film, selected at the World Cinema Dramatic Competition Sundance Film Festival 2020 and at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival Generation 14+ Competition 2020.

2020 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL – GRAND JURY PRIZE World Cinema Dramatic Competition

Kiss the Ground – Co-directors Josh and Rebecca Tickell

Narrated by Woody Harrelson and directed by critically-acclaimed filmmakers Joshua Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell (Oscar® shortlisted film and Sundance Audience Award winner “Fuel,” Cannes Film Festival Official Selection “The Big Fix”), KISS THE GROUND unveils a game-changer: We can reverse global warming and the Earth’s soil is the solution. By regenerating earth, we can completely and rapidly stabilize our planet’s climate, restore lost ecosystems, and create abundant food supplies.With epic footage shot on five continents, striking visuals from NASA and NOAA, and stunning animation, KISS THE GROUND conveys this critical message through the voices of leading scientists, ecologists, and experts including Nobel Laureates in climate, members of the International Panel on Climate Change, top scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), as well as environmental activists such as Gisele Bundchen, Tom Brady, Jason Mraz, Ian Somerhalder, Patricia Arquette, and Rosario Dawson. As an urgent call to action in addressing the world’s climate crisis, KISS THE GROUND artfully illustrates an accessible, relatively simple solution to humanity’s greatest challenge. Co-directors Josh and Rebecca Tickell join us to talk about how, despite all of the dire news about the impact of climate change, there is a way forward that is basic, sustainable, scalable and immediate, regeneration of earth’s most plentiful resources, soil.

 

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For news, screening and updates go to: kissthegroundmovie.com

To find out more about the movement go to: kisstheground.com

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83% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Climate Change is definitely real and this doc proves it while encouraging and teaching the human race how we can save the earth and save ourselves. Should be watched by every living human being!” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic

“It’s dense but nutritious. The science is explained in simple terms with plenty of visually striking graphics and animation.” – Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times

“The argument that they make is inspiring and thorough.” – Wade Major, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

“A frenetic but ultimately persuasive and optimistic plan to counter the climate crisis.” – Natalia Winkelman,New York Times

76 Days, Director Hao Wu

On January 23rd, 2020, China locked down Wuhan, a city of 11 million, to combat the emerging COVID-19 outbreak. Set deep inside the frontlines of the crisis, 76 DAYS tells indelible human stories at the center of this pandemic—from a woman begging in vain to bid a final farewell to her father, a grandpa with dementia searching for his way home, a couple anxious to meet their newborn, to a nurse determined to return personal items to families of the deceased. These raw and intimate stories bear witness to the death and rebirth of a city under a 76-day lockdown, and to the human resilience that persists in times of profound tragedy. MTV Documentary Films is pleased to announce the release of 76 DAYS, a raw and emotional look at the struggles of the people of Wuhan, China, in the earliest days of the COVID-19 outbreak. Directed by New York filmmaker Hao Wu (People’s Republic of Desire) and two China-based journalists, Weixi Chen and Anonymous, who took enormous personal risks to film at four different hospitals. 76 DAYS was directed by Hao Wu, Weixi Chen and Anonymous. Director Hoa Wu joins us for a conversation on the challenges of keeping his crew focused and in-tact while charging into the epicenter of the most devastating and understood pandemic of the last 100 years.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: 76daysfilm.com

76 DAYS world-premiered at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival where it topped IndieWire’s Critics Poll as Best Documentary of the festival. It will be released in over 50 virtual cinemas nationwide (including Film Forum in NY and Laemmle Theaters in LA) beginning Friday, December 4.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A startling picture from inside Wuhan’s besieged hospitals at the onset of the pandemic” – Screen Daily

“Remarkable” – The Hollywood Reporter

“A potent and horrifying document” ★★★★ – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

“Essential viewing for now and the future” – The Playlist

“A tribute to the heroic efforts of the workers it follows” – The Atlantic

A Dog Called Money – Director Seamus Murphy

As imaginative as the creative process it documents, A DOG CALLED MONEY is a uniquely intimate journey through the inspiration, writing and recording of a PJ Harvey record. Writer and musician Harvey and award-winning photographer Seamus Murphy, hatched a collaboration. Seeking first-hand experience of the countries she wanted to write about, Harvey accompanied Murphy on some of his worldwide reporting trips, joining him in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Washington DC. Harvey collected words, Murphy collected images. Back home, the words become poems, songs, then an album, which is recorded in an unprecedented art experiment in Somerset House, London. In a specially constructed room behind one-way glass, the public – all cameras surrendered – are invited to watch the 5 week process as a live sound-sculpture. Murphy exclusively documents the experiment with the same forensic vision and private access as their travels. Director / photographer Seamus Murphy brilliantly captures encounters with the people and places he and Polly Jean visit, showcasing the humanity at the heart of his work, while also tracing the evolution of their shared experience into her recorded music and ultimately into their impassioned collaboration.

 

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For news and updates go to: abramorama.com/pjharvey-adogcalledmoney

About the filmmaker – Seamus Murphy grew up in Ireland and is based in London. He is the recipient of seven World Press Photo awards for his photographic work in Afghanistan, Gaza, Lebanon, Sierra Leone, Peru and Ireland. He received The World Understanding Award from POYi in the USA for his work from Afghanistan and a film he made based around this work was nominated for an Emmy and won the Liberty in Media Prize in 2011. His work has been published and exhibited widely. He has made films for The New Yorker and Channel 4 Television in the UK.  He is the author of four books including A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan (Saqi Books. 2008) is based on 12 trips to the country between 1994 and 2007 and is a chronicle of Afghanistan’s extraordinary recent history. I Am The Beggar of the World (Farrar Straus Giroux. 2014) offers a rare glimpse into the lives of Afghan women through their anonymous Landay poetry. He has collaborated with musician PJ Harvey on projects for Let England Shake and The Hope Six Demolition Project, for which he won a Q Award for Best Music Film in October 2016. Patti Smith listed Murphy’s film for Harvey’s The Words that Maketh Murder as one of her Top 10 artworks, saying “… this unheralded piece (directed by Seamus Murphy) is a wisp of humanity celebrating the small things. “Murphy and Harvey together published The Hollow of the Hand (Bloomsbury. 2015) a book of his photography and her poetry. An exhibition and live presentation of The Hollow of the Hand work took place at the Royal Festival Hall, London in 2015 and at Les Recontres d’Arles in France in 2016. His latest book The Republic (Allen Lane. 2016) is an immediate and personal portrait of Ireland and was exhibited at The Little Museum in Dublin in 2017. 

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“It’s fascinating to see the creative process laid bare in such a way, and the film confirms Harvey’s position as a vital and relevant artist who thrives through collaboration and experimentation.” – Jamie Healy, Radio Times

“Murphy has an unerring eye for poetic compositions that emphasise faces, isolated soldiers and civilians in battle zones, and anomalous juxtapositions of vulnerable non-combatants and military personnel.” – Graham Fuller, Sight and Sound

“As a peek inside the artistic process, Murphy’s film succeeds: it’s the type of demystification that only serves to make the endeavour more remarkable.” – Hilary A White, Sunday Independent (Ireland)

“[A] stunning ode to director Seamus Murphy’s métier and PJ Harvey’s collaborative genius.” – June Butler, Film Ireland Magazine

Sky Blossom – Director Richard Liu

Director Richard Lui’s SKY BLOSSOM is a raw, uplifting window into 24.5 million children and millennials stepping forward as frontline heroes. Caring for family with tough medical conditions, they stay at home doing things often seen only in hospitals. They are cheerleaders, work part time, and go to college – but also live double lives – quietly growing up as America’s next greatest generation. The filmmaker, veteran journalist and award-winning CNN/MSNBC news anchor Richard Lui says the interviews were so honest they genuinely surprised him, as they revealed insights into the lives of young people across America. Troops used to look up and say, “Here come the Sky Blossoms”-paratroopers rushing to their aid. Today, there is a new generation answering that call. These are their stories. First-time director and MSNBC news anchor Richard Liu joins us for a conversation on the reason he began the project, the exploration of these families courage and determination and the historic and spiritual meaning behind the film’s title. 

 

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

For information on resources available go to: skyblossom.com/resources

Watch during the Virtual Theatre release at: /skyblossom.com/watch-film

Director’s statement – My life changed when my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I stepped back from my work as a cable news anchor, changing to work part-time on weekends. I began a weekly commute from my work in New York and my family in San Francisco. My parents come from military families, and this experience has only brought us closer together. With Sky Blossom, I wanted to show the power of caring for others. To tell stories of positivity despite pain. – Richard Liu

About the Film – Sky Blossom is an Academy Award qualifying film salute to 2020. Filmed over three years, it is a raw, uplifting window into 24.5 million children and millennials stepping forward as frontline heroes. Caring for family with tough medical conditions, they stay at home doing things often seen only in hospitals. They are cheerleaders, work part time, and go to college – but also live double lives – quietly growing up as America’s next greatest generation.

What’s In a Name? – During the Second World War, troops used to look up and say, “Here come the Sky Blossoms” — paratroopers rushing to their aid. Today, there is a new generation answering that call. These are their stories.

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Gay Chorus Deep South, Director David Charles Rodrigues

UPDATE: MTV Documentary Films’ Gay Chorus Deep South directed by David Charles Rodrigues premieres Sunday, December 20 at 9:00PM ET/PT on Pop, Logo and Pluto

The documentary Gay Chorus Deep South chronicles one community’s response to a wave of discriminatory anti-LGBTQ laws in Southern states and the divisive 2016 election. The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus embarks on a tour of the American Deep South. Led by Gay Chorus conductor Dr. Tim Seelig and joined by The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the tour brings a message of music, love, and acceptance to communities and individuals confronting intolerance. Over 300 singers travelled from Mississippi to Tennessee through the Carolinas and over the bridge in Selma. They  performed in churches, community centers, and concert halls in hopes of uniting us in a time of difference. The journey also challenges Tim and other Chorus members who fled the South to confront their own fears, pain, and prejudices on a journey towards reconciliation. The conversations and connections that emerge offer a glimpse of a less divided America, where the things that divide us – faith, politics, sexual identity – are set aside by the soaring power of music and humanity. Director David Charles Rodrigues joins us to talk about the expectations and realities that comes with traveling to communities with the hope of changing hearts and minds.

 

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

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WINNER AUDIENCE AWARD – BEST DOCUMENTARY – 2019 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

WINNER AUDIENCE AWARD – BERKSHIRE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

WINNER AUDIENCE AWARD – TOP 5 NONFICTION FAVORITES – 2019 TRAVERSE CITY FILM FESTIVAL

“Successfully harnessing the power of both music and message, documentary Gay Chorus Deep South draws its strength not only from its subject, but also the effective way in which it it presents its arguments.” – Nikki Baughan, Screen International

“What makes the film especially compelling, though, are the all-too-human narratives involving those who were at one time badly victimized because of their sexual orientation; they want to forgive, but may never be able to.” – Phil Guie, Film-Forward.com

“There’s a lesson here that applies to more than just LGBT political causes: To heal the country and move on, we must reach across the divide and listen to one another.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“With good folks like this, from both sides of the aisle, there is hope for humanity yet.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail

Music Got Me Here – Director Susan Koch

From award-winning director Susan Koch’s comes new feature documentary, MUSIC GOT ME HERE. The film follows the against-all-odds, true-life journey of Forrest Allen – a story of the power of music to heal and transform lives, often in miraculous ways. A snowboard accident leaves Forrest Allen, age 18, trapped inside himself, unable to speak or walk for almost two years. Tom Sweitzer, an eccentric music therapist with a troubled childhood who credits music with saving his own life, is determined to help Forrest find his voice. He dresses up in costumes and makes up silly songs.  For months, Forrest doesn’t even acknowledge him. Then, one day Forrest painstakingly types with one finger on his Dynavox: “Please help me find my voice”. Tom begins by teaching Forrest to breathe…then hum. After many months of painstaking practice, the hums turn into Forrest’s first two words. Director and writer Susan Koch joins us to talk about her uplifting tale of overcoming hardship, physical, spiritual and psychological as well as underscoring the pre-cognitive connective that humans share and with it our brains can be rewired to overcome trauma.

 

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

Winner of the Best Social Impact Award at the Greenwich International Film Festival,MUSIC GOT ME HERE was filmed over the course of five years and features interviews with renowned soprano and music therapy advocate Renee Fleming and National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins. MUSIC GOT ME HERE, is currently screening at Laemmle Virtual Cinema.

About the Director – Emmy and Peabody award-winning filmmaker Susan Koch’s films and non-fiction television shows have appeared on ABC, NBC, PBS, HBO, Showtime, MTV, ESPN, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, CNN, and American Movie Classics. Koch’s documentary Kicking It, about homeless soccer players who compete in an international tournament, premiered at the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals and was broadcast on ESPN. Koch’s other films include the award-winning documentaries Reel Models:  First Women of Film (AMC), Mario’s Story (Showtime), City at Peace (HBO) and The Other City (Showtime). Koch is the Executive Director of the Middleburg Film Festival, located in Middleburg, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C.

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Songs of Repression, Co-directors Marianne Hougen-Moraga and Estephan Wagner

The incredible story that lies at the heart of Songs of Repression begins and ends at  the foot of the Andes Mountains in Chile in the picturesque German colony of Colonia Dignidad (Colony of Dignity). The beauty of the place belies a grim past. In 1961, a German preacher named Paul Schäfer and his congregation moved to Chile with the stated aim of helping the poor. They established Colonia Dignidad, which transformed into a closed sect where child abuse, collective beatings and slave-like living conditions were an ongoing reality for 45 years. Many in the colony assisted Pinochet’s dictatorship in torturing and killing political prisoners and burying them in mass graves on their own 40,000-acre land. In 2007, Schäfer was arrested and the colony opened up. During that process, the community changed its name to Villa Baviera (Bavarian Village), now a tourist resort where you can relax, eat German cuisine and listen to yodeling. It remains the home of several generations of perpetrators and victims of the cult, inexplicably coexisting without reckoning with decades of abuse. Co-directors Marianne Hougen-Moraga and Estephan Wagner join us to talk about their chilling exploration of the community through the experiences of its surviving members.

 

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For news and updates go to: estephanwagner.com/songs-of-repression

About the filmmaker – Marianne Hougen-Moraga (Director) Graduated with a Master’s degree in film studies from Copenhagen University. She also holds a master in Screen Documentary from Goldsmiths College. Hougen-Moraga has directed a number of short documentaries, such as ‘Returned’ (2011), which premiered at CPH:DOX, and ‘Sea of Sorrow – Sea of Hope’ (2017), which was nominated for a Danish Robert Award for best short documen- tary. Her feature documentary debut is ‘Songs of Represvsion’ (2020), which she has directed with Estephan Wagner. 

About the filmmaker – Estephan Wagner (Director and Editor). Graduated from the National Film and Television School in London. Originally trained as an editor in Germany. Wagner has been working as a documentary director for more than a decade. He directed ‘Last Dreams’ (2013) that premiered at CPH:DOX. His feature documentary ‘Les Sau- teurs’ (2016) had theatrical distribution in Germany, France, the UK and Italy, has been screened at more than 70 film festivals and has won more than 15 awards including at the Ecumenical Jury Award at the Berlinale and the Cinema Eye Spotlight award. 

Social Media
twitter.com/HougenMoraga

 

The Way Home – Co-director Don Hardy & Camille Servan-Schreiber, Shawn Dailey

THE WAY HOME is a short-form documentary series from KTF Films and Bread and Butter Films  focusing on the current homelessness epidemic in California – the state with the largest population of homeless people in the USA. Through these compelling short films, you will be inspired by the solution creators and the game-changers who are making an impact in this ongoing situation. Joining us are co-directors and co-writters Camille Servan-Schreiber and Don Hardy and producer Shawn Dailey The Way Home offers is a nuanced and informative four-part series that focuses on the big picture issues that present structural impediments to people struggling to overcome poverty in Oakland, Los Angeles and Bakersfield as well as the personal stories that humanize the people who live in the shadows

 

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For news and updates go to: thewayhomedoc.com

For a glimpse of our episodes, click the play buttons below. The full episodes will be available on Amazon, Apple, Google, and other streaming platforms on December 4th.

Ep. 1- How Did We Get Here? We examine the origins the homelessness crisis in the US and how has grown to an epidemic in California.

Ep. 2 – The Most Vulnerable More than half of homeless people in California are seniors. One pilot program in Northern California is focused on getting them off the street.

Ep. 3 – The Invisible In one California community volunteers, non-profit organizations, and the local government are working together to find creative ways to get people into sustainable housing … and it’s working.

Ep. – 4 – The California Dream California is in the midst of a housing crisis, and the lack of affordable housing is why so many become homeless.

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