January 25 – Lois Vossen, Independent Lens Executive Producer

Lois Vossen is the Executive Producer of Independent Lens and has been with the show since its inception as a primetime series on PBS. Lois is responsible for commissioning new films, programming the series and working with filmmakers on editorial and broadcast issues. Independent Lens films have received 17 Emmy Awards, 16 George Foster Peabody Awards, five Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Journalism Awards and eight Academy Award nominations. The series was honored in 2013, 2014, 2015  and 2017 with the International Documentary Association (IDA) Award for Best Series. Before joining ITVS, Lois was the Associate Managing Director of Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Labs. Lois is a member of the Television Academy Board of Governors, representing the documentary branch. She has served on the jury at  Shanghai Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, SXSW, DOC New Zealand and Palm Springs International Film Festival, among others. Under her leadership, films funded or co-produced by Independent Lens include I Am Not Your Negro, Always in Season, Bedlam, One Child Nation, Black Memorabilia, The King, People’s Republic of Desire, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, TOWER, Newtown, Best of Enemies, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, (T)ERROR, The House I Live In, The Invisible War, and The Trials of Muhammad Ali, among many others. Widely regarded as one of the most influential supporters of independent and documentary filmmaking, Lois Vossen joins us for a conversation on the role that Independent Lens /POV and Public Broadcasting has had in maintaining the highest standards for innovative storytelling in non-fiction cinema.

For news and updates go to: pbs.org/independentlens/films

Social Media:

facebook.com/independentlens

twitter.com/independentlens

instagram.com/independentlens

January 25 – *Hale County, This Morning, This Evening, Director RaMell Ross

Acclaimed photographer RaMell Ross, recent winner of the Gotham Award for Best Documentary, has made his directorial debut with one of the most critically-acclaimed films of the year — Hale County This Morning, This Evening. An inspired and intimate portrait of a place and its people, the film looks at the lives of two young African American men from rural Alabama over the course of five years. Daniel Collins attends college in search of opportunity while Quincy Bryant becomes a father to an energetic son in this open-ended, poetic film without a traditional narrative. Distilling life to its essence, the film invites the audience to experience the mundane and the monumental, birth and death, the quotidian and the sublime. These moments combine to communicate the region’s deep culture and provide glimpses of the complex ways the African American community’s collective image is integrated into America’s visual imagination.. RaMell Ross met Quincy when he was teaching in a GED program in Greensboro, Alabama, and met Daniel when he was coaching basketball at a local high school. He shot over 1300 hours of footage over five years, which was then edited down into the final film. Director RaMell Ross stops by to talk about his meticulously assembled, ethereal ode to Black lives in Hale County, Alabama.

For news and updates go to: halecountyfilm.com

Social Media

facebook.com/halecountydoc

twitter.com/HaleCountyDoc

The film premieres on Independent Lens Monday, February 11, 2019, 10:00-11:30 PM ET (check local listings) on PBS

*Shortlisted – 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary

94% on Rotten Tomatoes

“At every juncture, Ross elects for ambiguity and poses a question to the viewer to answer how black bodies are viewed, encouraging the audience to perform the labour of challenging their expectations.” – Melissa Vincent, Globe and Mail

“You could call it a transcendental scrapbook, because it wipes away the muck of subjectivity that guides most movies. It turns the audience into direct receptors of experience.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“…the cinematic equivalent of a memory quilt, woven together with a deep love of community, comprised of intimate though disparate moments from others’ lives, and poetically comforting despite its historically weighty components.” – Jordan M. Smith, Film School Rejects

“Hale County is the type of film designed to violate common rules of cinema. Story gives way to lyricism; there’s little dialogue, minimal plot, minutes upon minutes of pastoral imagery…Ross’s lens captures a reality that’s rarely seen by the human eye.” – Natalia Winkelman, The Daily Beast

“It’s not every day that you witness a new cinematic language being born, but watching RaMell Ross’s evocatively titled documentary Hale County, This Morning, This Evening qualifies.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice

Slamdance Film Festival Co-founder Peter Baxter

It all began when a group of cheerful, subversive filmmakers weren’t accepted into the Sundance Film Festival. Unwilling to take “no” for an answer, they instead started their own event – Slamdance: Anarchy in Utah. 24 years later, Slamdance has become a year-round organization fostering the development of unique and innovative filmmakers. The organization now consists of the Film Festival, Screenplay Competition and Slamdance Studios. Dan Mirvish, Jon Fitzgerald, Shane Kuhn and Peter Baxter are the founding forefathers who, along with co-conspirator Paul Rachman, fought for truly independent filmmakers by giving them a voice in 1995 at the very first Slamdance Film Festival. Since then, the festival takes place every January in the breathtakingly stunning, snow-capped mountains of Park City, Utah at the exact same time as the Sundance Film Festival, toprovide a more authentic representation of independent filmmaking.  Up-and-coming writers, directors and producers, alongside seasoned veterans and film lovers, converge for the weeklong celebration of independent cinema, realizing that Slamdance is a great place to find those next, great, visionary films.  Slamdance lives and bleeds by its mantra By Filmmakers For Filmmakers. No other film festival in the world is entirely run and organized by the creative force that can only be found in filmmakers. Slamdance adamantly supports self-governance amongst independents, and exists to deliver what filmmakers go to festivals for – a chance to show their work and a platform to launch their careers. The festival has earned a solid reputation for premiering films by first-time writers and directors working within the creative confines of limited budgets. Co-founder and President Peter Baxter joins us to talk about this year’s Slamdance, the groundbreaking films and the innovative new distribution being launched by Slamdance.

 

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For news and updates go to: slamdance.com

Check out the film schedule at slamdance 2019 schedule

Slamdance Film Festival will take place January 25-31, 2019 in Park City, Utah

Social Media:

facebook.com/SlamdanceFilmFestival

twitter.com/Slamdance

instagram.com/slamogram

January 18 – Arctic, Director Joe Penna

Driven by a virtuoso performance by Mads Mikkelsen ARCTIC tells the story of a man stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive. Director Joe Penna stops by to talk about co-writing the minimalist script with Ryan Morrison, the remarkable performance by Mads Mikkelsen and the rigors of shooting in an inhospitably windy and frigid location.

 

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For news and updates go to: bleeckerstreetmedia.com/arctic

For more about Joe Penna go to: mysteryguitarman.com

Social Media

instagram.com/mysteryguitarman

facebook.com/MysteryGuitarMan

twitter.com/MysteryGuitarM

“It’s broad stuff, and well-trod terrain for a movie that takes place in uncharted territory, but it cuts straight to the difference between endurance and survival.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

“There are no cut corners, no overly blatant only-in-the-movies gambits. Mikkelsen’s stranded pilot has little to rely on beyond his will, so we feel at every step that he could truly be us.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“Arctic is elegantly shot, crisp and unfussy, and seamless in its near-invisible use of digital effects, creating a persuasive you-are-there feeling that’s rare in these days of flashy CG thrills.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

“Mikkelsen takes commanding centre stage in a guilty-pleasure survival drama with global ambitions.” – Kevin Maher, Times (UK)

January 18 – Ashley Connor, Cinematographer, Independent Spirit Award Nominee (Madeline’s Madeline)

ASHLEY CONNOR is a New York based director of photography. Her work on Josephine Decker’s BUTTER ON THE LATCH and THOU WAST MILD AND LOVELY prompted New Yorker critic Richard Brody to name her, alongside Darius Khonji and Fabrice Aragno, as one of the year’s best cinematographers. Her breadth of style can be seen in work as diverse as Dustin Guy Defa’s PERSON TO PERSON (Sundance ’17) and Adam Leon’s TRAMPS (TIFF ’16), as well as in popular music videos for artists including Jenny Lewis, Angel Olsen and Maggie Rogers. She had two films premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Josephine Decker’s MADELINE’S MADELINE and Desiree Akhavan’s Grand Jury Prize winning THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST starring Chloe Moretz and Sasha Lane. Most recently she shot two pilots for A24/Hulu and has three more films coming out in 2018: Olivia Newman’s FIRST MATCH (SXSW 2018 Audience Award Winner, Netflix produced), Alex O Eaton’s MOUNTAIN REST and an Untitled Daniel Scheinert film. Ashley Connor stops by for a conversation on her work on Josephine Decker’s Madeline’s Madeline’s Madeline and her Spirit Award nomination for her cinematography.

For news and updates go to: ashleyconnor.net

Social Media:

facebook.com/ashley.connor

All These Small Moments, Melissa B. Miller Costanzo

Featuring a heartwarming performance by Molly Ringwald, ALL THESE SMALL MOMENTS tells the story of a teenage boy’s infatuation with a woman he sees on the bus that  further complicates his already tumultuous adolescence. ALL THESE SMALL MOMENTS is firmly rooted in the bewildering tangle of human relationships. A husband and wife who are trying to find their way back to themselves, because they’ve drifted too far and no longer recognize each other; an adult woman and a teenage boy who somehow fill a void in each other; and an almost accidental friendship that grows to be much more. ALL THESE SMALL MOMENTS is a portrait of adolescence and aims to capture a time period that, if we make it out unscathed, defines us. Director and screenwriter joins us for a conversation on the working with a cast of established actors like Molly Ringwald, Brian D’arcy James and Jemima Kirke and young actors like Brendan Meyer, Harley Quinn Smith and Sam McCarthy. Director and writer Melissa B. Miller Costanzo talks about getting her first feature film off the ground, enlisting actress Molly Ringwald to be a part of her project and channeling her own adolescent experiences into the performances of her talented cast. 

 

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Social Media for All These Small Moments:

twitter.com/hashtag/allthesesmallmoments

Social Media for Melissa B. Miller Costanzo:

twitter.com/melbmiller

“A beautifully accomplished first film.” Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter

“All These Small Moments reminded me a great deal of two films in particular: that of the recent Lady Bird and this year’s very underseen and underrated Blame.” – David Fontana, Film Inquiry

“Authenticity of character is All These Small Moments’ strongest suit because each proves honest whether or not their inclusion in the larger story does.” – Jared Mobarak, The FIlm Stage

“Despite being overly tidy and commonplace in its plot, [director Melissa B.] Miller-Costanzo succeeds in deliberately avoiding resolution, and while that’s bound to frustrate people, it’s key to the movie’s payoff.” – Kyle Kohner, The Playlist

January 24 – The Final Wish, Director Timothy Woodard Jr and Actor Michael Welsh

From the creator of the Final Destination franchise comes a new tale of death. Following the passing of his father, Aaron Hammond (Michael Welsh) returns to his hometown to help his devastated mother (Lin Shaye) and to confront his past demons. Sifting through his father’s belongings, Aaron comes upon a mysterious item that is far more than it seems. The Final Wish Director Timothy Woodward Jr. and lead actor Michael Welsh joins us for a conversation on continuing the cinematic legacy of Final Destination and bringing a creative energy to a familiar story of demonic possession, family struggles and reckoning with the past.

facebook.com/officialtimothywoodwardjr

michaelwelchact.com

“If you’re looking for a spooky little flick that forges some new ground against a backdrop of familiar terror tropes, The Final Wish will grant you that.” – Steve Barton, Brainwaves

“The Final Wish is an easy watch, fun and simple. It’s perfect for that night when you just want to sit back, relax and enjoy.” – Staci Layne Wilson, We Live Entertainment

“There’s still a lot to The Final Wish that I really appreciated and enjoyed, and it would make for a killer double feature with Wish Upon.” – Heather Wilson, Daily Dead

“THE FINAL WISH is yet another example of taking a low budget and bringing a fresh new take on a familiar storyline. It offers a well written script and a cast worth investing in.” – Jimmy O, Movie Emporium

Capernaum, Director Nadine Labaki

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Nadine Labaki’s CAPERNAUM (“Chaos”) tells the story of Zain (Zain al Rafeea), a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the “crime” of giving him life. CAPERNAUM follows Zain, a gutsy streetwise child as he flees his negligent parents, survives through his wits on the streets, takes care of Ethiopian refugee Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw) and her baby son, Yonas (Boluwatife Treasure Bankole), being jailed for a crime, and finally, seeks justice in a courtroom. CAPERNAUM was made with a cast of non-professionals playing characters whose lives closely parallel their own. Following her script, Labaki placed her performers in scenes and asked them to react spontaneously with their own words and gestures. When the non-actors’s instincts diverged from the written script, Labaki adapted the screenplay to follow them. While steeped in the quiet routines of ordinary people, CAPERNAUM is a film with an expansive palette: without warning it can ignite with emotional intensity, surprise with unexpected tenderness, and inspire with flashes of poetic imagery. Although it is set in the depths of a society’s systematic inhumanity, CAPERNAUM is ultimately a hopeful film that stirs the heart as deeply as it cries out for action. Director and writer Nadine Labaki joins us for a conversation on her impassioned new film and how CAPERNAUM changed her and many of the cast and crew from this multi-award winning film.

 

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For news and updates go to: sonyclassics.com/capernaum

2018 Cannes Film Festival

Winner, Grand Jury Prize

Winner, Prix de la citoyenneté

Winner, Prize of the Ecumenical Jury

Nominated, Palme d’Or

Social Media for Capernaum

facebook.com/capernaummovie

twitter.com/SonyClassics

Instagram.com/SonyClassics

“It’s a scathing commentary on the effects of poverty, the failure to properly respond to refugee crises, and simple human decency populated by those struggling just as much as the next yet have also crossed a line they cannot return from.” – Jared Mobarak, Film Stage

“It’s a deeply assured piece of direction, and though it only plays a few emotional notes, they are ones that won’t soon leave your memory. Prepare to be blown-away.” – Emily Yoshida, New York Magazine / Vulture

“A social-realist blockbuster – fired by furious compassion and teeming with sorrow, yet strewn with diamond-shards of beauty, wit and hope.” – Robbie Collins, Daily Telegraph

“Can favorably be compared to everyone from De Sica to Truffaut to ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ A stunning piece of cinema.” – Pete Hammond, Deadline

’63 Boycott, Director Gordon Quinn

’63 Boycott is the award-winning film directed by Gordon Quinn, the co-founder of Kartemquin Films, and produced by Rachel Dickson and Tracye A. Matthews. ’63 Boycott revisits October 22, 1963, when more than 250,000 students boycotted the Chicago Public Schools to protest racial segregation. Many marched through the city calling for the resignation of School Superintendent Benjamin Willis, who placed trailers, dubbed ‘Willis Wagons,’ on playgrounds and parking lots of overcrowded black schools rather than let them enroll in nearby white schools. Blending unseen 16mm footage of the march shot by Gordon Quinn when he was just 21 years old with the participants’ reflections today, 63 Boycott connects the forgotten story of one of the largest northern civil rights demonstrations to contemporary issues around race, education, school closings, and youth activism. Director Gordon Quinn joins us for a conversation on his lacerating look at the historic non-violent campaign to win access to educational parity and basic human rights.  ’63 Boycott is an overview of how much Chicago has changed and how much remains the same.

For news and updates go to: kartemquin.com/films/63-boycott

For more about ’63 Boycott and the catalog Kartemquin films

‘63 Boycott

Winner – Best Short Documentary Award at the 2018 Nashville Film Festival

Winner – Audience Award at the 2018 Pan African African Film Festival.

Winner – Best Short Documentary at the Berlin Black International Cinema Exhibition

Winner – Best Short Documentary Roxbury International Film Festival

Winner – Best Short Documentary Adrian International Film Festival

Winner – Best Short Documentary Montreal International Black Film Festival

Winner – Jury Citation Award at the Black Maria Film Festival.

 ** ‘63 Boycott is one of 10 short documentaries to advance as a contender for Best Documentary Short at the 2019 Academy Awards.

The Distant Barking of Dogs, Director Simon Lereng Wilmont and Producer Monica Hellström

THE DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS is set in Eastern Ukraine on the frontline of the war. The film follows the life of 10-year-old Ukrainian boy Oleg throughout a year, witnessing the gradual erosion of his innocence beneath the pressures of war.  Oleg lives with his beloved grandmother, Alexandra, in the small village of Hnutove. Having no other place to go, Oleg and Alexandra stay and watch as others leave the village. Life becomes increasingly difficult with each passing day, and the war offers no end in sight. In this now half-deserted village where Oleg and Alexandra are the only true constants in each other’s lives, the film shows just how fragile, but crucial, close relationships are for survival.  Through Oleg’s perspective, the film examines what it means to grow up in a warzone. It portrays how a child’s universal struggle to discover what the world is about grows interlaced with all the dangers and challenges the war presents. THE DISTANT BARKING OF DOGS unveils the consequences of war bearing down on the children in Eastern Ukraine, and by natural extension, the scars and self- taught life lessons this generation will carry with them into the future. Director Simon Lereng Wilmont and Producer Monica Hellström stop by to talk about this harrowing, intimate and loving look at Oleg and Alexandra’s claustrophobic life on the frontlines of an undeclared war.

 

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For news and updates go to: Distant Barking of Dogs

**Spotlight Award Nominee – Cinema Eye Honors 2019

**Honorable Mention – Pare Lorentz Award – 2018 IDA Awards

**Winner – First Appearance Award – IDFA 2017

**Winner – Best Nordic Documentary – Göteborg Film Festival 2018

**Winner – Golden Gate Award – SFFILM 2018

**Winner – Fipresci Award – Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival 2018

**Winner – Best International Film – DocAviv Film Festival 2018

**Nominee – Best European Documentary – European Film Awards 2018

“Finds beauty and horror on the bleeding edge of war” – The Hollywood Reporter

“Moving and effective” – Screen Daily

“Resembles classic Terence Malick” – Point of View Magazine

“A beautiful, poetic observational documentary” – Cineuropa

“An intimate, stirring portrayal of life during wartime” – Film Pulse

January 11 – Stu Pollard, President of Lunacy Productions

Lunacy Productions helmed by prolific producer Stu Pollard is excited debut for you their latest film “Rust Creek,” which is being distributed theatrically by IFC Midnight beginning January 11th, 2019.  “Rust Creek” starring Hermione Corfield (“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”), Jay Paulson (“Mad Me”), Sean O’Bryan (“Olympus Has Fallen”), Micah Hauptman (“Homeland”), Daniel R. Hills (“The Resident”), Jeremy Glazer (“Letters From Iwo Jima”), and John Marshall Jones (Con Air”); chronicles the presence of mind and skill an ordinary woman, utilizes while summoning extraordinary courage to survive a nightmare odyssey in this harrowing survival thriller. This  film takes the woman in jeopardy premise and turns it on its head with agility and smarts. This is the latest female driven (both in front of & behind the camera) film from Pollard & his team at Lunacy. Lunacy’s team are incredibly committed to supporting gender parity in filmmaking, producing several films featuring female protagonists (This Is Home, Rust Creek, Short History, Plus One) and working with female filmmakers like Jen McGowan (“Rust Creek”), Ani Simon Kennedy (“Short History of the Long Road”), and documentarian Alex Shiva (“This Is Home: A Refugee Story”) among others. Half of the department heads on “Rust Creek” are women and for many of the female crew, “Rust Creek” was their first feature film or their first opportunity in an elevated position (including DP Michelle Lawler, make-up artist Allie Shehorn, art director Priyanka Guterres, and postproduction supervisor Alex Jensen). Pollard has also directed two features: NICE GUYS SLEEP ALONE and KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. In his spare time he teaches at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and Film Independent. He holds a degree in business from Georgetown and an MFA in film from USC, is a member of the DGA and PGA, and serves on the boards of the Louisville Film Society and GU’s Alumni Board of Governors. Director, producer and head of Lunacy Productions Stu Pollard joins us to talk about his company’s commitment to gender equity on both sides of the camera.

For news and updates go to: lunacyproductions.com

Vimeo: vimeo.com/lunacy

Social Media:

twitter.com/LunacyProds

facebook.com/LunacyProds

instagram.com/lunacyprods

Rust Creek, Director Jen McGowan

Rust Creek is a gripping tale of an ordinary woman who must summon extraordinary courage to survive a nightmare odyssey. Sawyer (Hermione Corfield) is an ambitious, overachieving college senior with a seemingly bright future. While on her way to a job interview, a wrong turn leaves her stranded deep in the frozen Kentucky woods. Suddenly, the young woman with everything to live for finds herself facing her own mortality as she’s punished by the elements and pursued by a band of ruthless outlaws Hollister (Micah Hauptman) and Buck (Daniel Hill). With nowhere left to run, she is forced into an uneasy alliance with Lowell (Jay Paulson), an enigmatic loner with shadowy intentions. Though she’s not sure she can trust him, Sawyer must take a chance if she hopes to escape Rust Creek alive. Director Jen McGowan joins us to talk about her multi-faceted, nuanced “woman in distress” storyline and her decision to work with a predominantly female crew.

For news and updates go to: ifcfilms.com/films/rust-creek

“Fighting off a bunch of backwoods yokels is nothing new to horror movies, but somehow Rust Creek makes this old tale feel fresh and tense.” – Deirdre Crimmins HighDef Digest

“Rust Creek, in addition to its success as a thriller, also has a strong emotional core in its consistent admonishment of amorality and apathy, a deceptively layered thriller that touches upon the inherent horror in being a woman.” – Christina Tucker Film Inquiry

“…what looks on the surface to be a film we’ve seen a thousand times, turns out to be a multi-layered, multifaceted convolution of curve balls and metaphor.” – Amyana Bartley QBP Reviews

“It’s tight without being punishing, and its humor takes you happily by surprise.” – David Edelstein New York Magazine/Vulture

New York Film Critic Circle, Chair Eric Kohn and Vice Chair Alison Willmore

The New York Film Critics Circle was founded in 1935.  The Circle’s membership includes critics from daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, magazines, and qualifying online general-interest publications. Every year in December the organization meets in New York to vote on awards for the previous calendar year’s films. For 65 years the New York Film Critics Circle has consistently recognized, championed, and defended films that may otherwise have been slighted by audiences and the entertainment industry. Founded in part as a response to the Academy Awards’s sometimes dubious selections for the annual best in cinema, the NYFCC has from the start prided itself on striving to recognize a higher standard of film.The Circle’s awards are often viewed as harbingers of the Oscar nominations, which are announced each February. The Circle’s awards are also viewed, perhaps more accurately, as a principled alternative to the Oscars, honoring aesthetic merit in a forum that is immune to commercial and political pressures. A complete list of previous winners is available on this site, along with a list of current members with links to their publications.  NYFCC Chair Eric Kohn (IndieWire ) and Vice Chair Alison Willmore (Buzzfeed) join us to break down the top films of 2018 and the ever changing landscape of the film criticism industry.

For news and updates go to:www.nyfcc.com

Eric Kohn is the New York-based Deputy Editor & Chief Critic at Indiewire, where he has worked since 2007. In addition to overseeing operations for IndieWire‘s New York film team, he reviews numerous films throughout the year and reports on the industry. Kohn travels to film festivals around the globe, interviews filmmakers, and manages Indiewire’s network for professional film critics, the Criticwire Network. He also oversees the Critics Academy initiative, a series of educational workshops for aspiring entertainment journalists, and teaches film criticism at NYU. Prior to joining Indiewire, Eric contributed to The New York Times and other outlets.

Publication: IndieWire

Twitter: @erickohn

Alison Willmore is the film critic for Buzzfeed and is based in New York.

Publication: Buzzfeed

Twitter: @alisonwillmore

Communion, Director Anna Zamecka

Anna Zamecka’s intimate documentary Communion drops us into a truncated family living amid domestic instability and teenaged volatility, a sister and brother play out their lives on camera. At fourteen, Ola is already functioning as the woman of the house, cooking and cleaning for her lethargic father and helping her energetic autistic brother, Nikodem, prepare for his first Holy Communion. Throughout, she longs for her mother, Magda, whose absence is never explained, yet always deeply felt. As the date of Communion nears, it becomes an opportunity for the family to meet up and Ola is entirely responsible for planning the perfect family celebration. Communion is a portrait of young womanhood and crash course in growing up that teaches us that no failure is final, and that change is possible and needed, especially when love is in question. Anna Zamecka is a Polish film director, screenwriter and producer. She has studied cultural anthropology, journalism and photography in Warsaw and Copenhagen. Her 2016 debut feature film, Communion” received over 40 awards, including the European Film Award for Best European Documentary 2017 and the Critic’s Week Award at Locarno IFF, amongst others. Anna Zamecka joins us for a conversation about gaining the confidence of a struggling family and young woman trying to navigate a family life that threatens to overwhelm her.

For news and updates go to: communion-movie.com

Friday, January 4 | 1:00 PM | AMC Sunset 5
8000 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046
Director Anna Zamecka in-conversation following the screening.
Hosted by LAURA NIX

Friday, January 4 | 3:00 PM | Laemmle Glendale
207 N Maryland Avenue, Glendale, CA 91206
Director Anna Zamecka in-conversation following the screening.
Hosted by ONDI TIMONER and CHUCK BRAVERMAN

Friday, January 4 | 7:30 PM | Laemmle Glendale
207 N Maryland Avenue, Glendale, CA 91206
Director Anna Zamecka in-conversation following the screening.
Hosted by LANA WILSON

Saturday, January 5 | 11:00 AM | Laemmle Monica Film Center
1332 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401,
Director Anna Zamecka in-conversation following the screening.

“Anna Zamecka’s doc masterpiece Communion took my breath away, brought me to tears, left me contemplating mysteries of family” Joshua Oppenheimer, dir. „The Act of Killing”

“Communion” is a heartbreaking example of a classic documentary genre – the immersive, observational film that takes a bold leap and embeds itself with a small group of people. – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Idelible” – Alissa Wilkinson, VOX

“Transcendent and highly accomplished film!” Filmmaker Magazine

Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski, Director Irek Dobrowolski and Co-Producer Stephen Cooper

A Netflix original documentary,  Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski takes us inside the mind of one of the last century’s great characters, offering a startling look at how history can stand in the way of true artistic genius in one generation while stepping aside to reveal it dramatically in the next. In 1968, pop culture collector Glenn Bray, who had an interest in surrealist art, happened upon an unusual book featuring the art of Stanislav Szukalski.  Like most people, Bray had never heard of Szukalski, but he delighted in showing the book of drawings and photos of sculptures to his circle of friends in the underground art comic world, including Robert and Suzanne Williams and George DiCaprio, who found the forgotten Polish master’s vision far ahead of its time. It was a few years later when Bray noticed an unusual poster  depicting Copernicus on the wall of a small bookstore in Tarzana – something he immediately recognized as the work of SzukalskiThe bookseller informed him that the artist himself had given the poster as a gift – in fact, he lived nearby.  Bray couldn’t believe it – this long-forgotten genius was still alive, and in the same area code. Featuring archival footage and dozens of interviews with Szukalski himself,  Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski offers a startling look at how history can stand in the way of artistic genius in one generation while stepping aside to reveal it dramatically in the next. Director Irek Dobrowolski and Producer Stephen Cooper join us to talk about an incredible artist and incredibly complex, nearly forgotten “genius” who remained true to his inner demons.

 

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netflix.com/Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski

Love, Gilda, Director Lisa D’Apolito

Gilda Radner puts a smile on the faces of people who remember watching her as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, where she created and portrayed such now-classic comic characters as Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella and Lisa Loopner. LOVE, GILDA, directed by Lisa D’Apolito, is a true autobiography, told in Gilda’s words and in her own voice. Working with the Radner Estate, D’Apolito unearthed a collection of diaries and personal audio and videotapes documenting her childhood, her comedy career, her relationships and ultimately, her struggle with cancer. This never-before-seen footage and journal entries form the narrative spine of the documentary, allowing Gilda to tell her own story– through the laughter and sometimes the tears. Incredibly, she was able to find humor in even the darkest of times. Gilda’s spirit lives on in comedy as a female trailblazer who continues to inspire many present day comedic performers, including Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Cecily Strong. Also interviewed are SNL original cast members– Chevy Chase, Laraine Newman and Paul Shaffer– as well as, Lorne Michaels (SNL creator and producer), Alan Zweibel (SNL writer), Stephen Schwartz (Broadway composer); Andrew Alexander (CEO of Second City) and long-time friend Martin Short. LOVE, GILDA Director Lisa D’Apolito talks about the unique window her loving film provides into the honest and whimsical world of a beloved performer whose greatest role was sharing her own story.

 

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For news and updates go to: lovegilda.com

LOVE, GILDA will air on CNN:

Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 9pm and 11pm Eastern (Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 6pm and 8pm Pacific)

Saturday, Jan. 5 at 9pm Eastern (Saturday, Jan. 5 at 6pm Pacific)

Sunday, Jan. 6 at 12am Eastern (Saturday, Jan. 5 at 9pm Pacific)

And available for playback via CNN on Demand.

Social Media:

facebook.com/LoveGildathefilm

twitter.com/LoveGildaFilm

instagram.com/LoveGildaTheFilm

“A splendid tribute to one of America’s comedy legends.” – J.R. Kinnard, Film Inquiry

“We come away with the portrait of someone who was never just going along for the ride, but who was always questioning and challenging herself, working toward professional excellence and hoping for an ideal romance.” – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

“‘Laughter – that’s what hugs me and holds me,’ she confides on those muddy cassettes. So does the warm, tender embrace of “Love, Gilda.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times

“All the laughs-as well as the tears-in the too-brief but shining life of a true comic genius are present and accounted for in this essential, intensely moving doc.” – David Noh, Film Journal International

Drug$, Director Jonathan Marshall Thompson

Narrated by Academy Award® Winner J.K. Simmons, “DRUG$” is a feature-length documentary about the soaring price of medicines in the U.S., featuring interviews with academics, patients, advocates and political leaders, including Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Elijah Cummings. With prices as high as $1,000 per pill, many patients are now forced to choose between putting food on the table or purchasing medicine, while pharma companies pocket billions of dollars in profits. “DRUG$” breaks down the intricacies of the drug pricing system by incorporating interviews with patients, prominent policymakers and employees of major pharmaceutical and insurance companies, as well as highly respected doctors, scientists and economists. Due to misguided legislation, there are more stringent laws protecting drug patents than human lives. Drug companies use patents to perpetuate monopolies by making slight changes to existing drugs, a practice known as “evergreening,” which prevents competition and blocks the production of affordable generic drugs, ensuring perpetual price hikes on decades-old medicines. In a titanic struggle against corporate greed, see how a diverse group of concerned Americans is fighting back to keep lifesaving medicines affordable for us all. Director Jonathan Marshall Thompson stops by to talk about the scandalous and inhumane business practices by many of the most profitable businesses in the world, often at the expense of dying people in desperate need of live-saving medications that literally cost pennies on an avariciously profitable dollar to produce.

 

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For news and updates go to: drugsthefilm.com

DRUG$ is now streaming on Amazon and You Tube

TAKE ACTION:

After providing your zip code, you will be asked whether you want to be connected to your U.S. Representative and either of your two U.S. Senators. You can leave a message for all three of them.

ZIPLOOK.HOUSE.GOV/HTBIN/FINDREP_HOUSE

SENATE.GOV/SENATORS/CONTACT

 Tell them: Drug companies are price gouging patients and putting lives at risk. I am contacting you to request that you support the Medicare Negotiation and Competitive Licensing Act by voting for H.R. 6505.

 Support legislation: For more information on H.R. 6505, visit: CONGRESS.GOV/BILL/115TH-CONGRESS/HOUSE-BILL/6505

“Drug$ is no less enraging for its story’s familiarity.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

“A blistering takedown of a venal healthcare system that prizes corporate profit over saving lives.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

Islam and the Future of Tolerance, Co-director Jay Shapiro (Desh Amila)

The riveting and illuminating documentary, Islam and the Future of Tolerance follows prominent atheist philosopher Sam Harris and Islamist-turned-liberal-Muslim Maajid Nawaz, after publicly clashing in a debate over the concept of Islamic reform in the Muslim world. The two men reconnect several years later in an attempt at civil and honest dialogue. Sam and Maajid attempt to explore their real or imagined divides by clearly and rationally dissecting their disagreements. Through the course of their discussions, they tackle troubling passages from the Quran, the importance of the precision of language and terms (such as “Jihadism,” “Islamists,” and “radical,”) and the difficulty in finding helpful and honest responses in a fraught political terrain. Ultimately, this unlikely collaboration sheds light on the many confusions that afflict the public conversation about Islam and emphasizes how the virtues of open dialogue can help foster both understanding and tolerance in an increasingly polarized world.

 

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Sam Harris entered life as a public intellectual after 9/11 and soon found himself regarded as a leading voice of the “New Atheist” movement, along with Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Daniel Dennett. He spent much of the next decade writing books such as The End of Faith, Letter to a Christian Nation,and The Moral Landscape and publicly engaging religious scholars and apologists in highly contentious conversations.

Maajid Nawaz was arrested and thrown into an Egyptian prison, where he spent four years  before beginning his slow journey out of radical Islamism. By the time he emerged, he had decided to dedicate his life’s work to reforming Islam from within. He started Quilliam, a counter-extremism organization.

Islam and the Future of Tolerance tells the story of an unlikely conversation on a topic of grave importance, and how it changed two foes into friends. Director Jay Shapiro joins us to talk about his engaging and enlightening documentary.

For news and updates go to: islamandthefutureoftolerance.com

Watch the debate featuring Maajid Nawaz on the Australian Public Affairs program: Think Ink

“For these reasons and more, the film serves as a rewarding introductory course to the school of thought that Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz are a part of.” – Hunter Lanier, Film Threat

“Anyone can wrangle a group of talking heads in front of a camera or audience to bloviate on the merits of religious belief, but Avila and Shapiro’s purposes are more urgent and pressing.” – Nathanael Hood, The Young Folks

“A talkative film in which the very act of talking about this subject is a first tiny victory.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

“Nevertheless, in a society that’s always demanding that minorities do the hard work of explaining themselves, only to deny them the chance to do so, this is a bold attempt to do things differently.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes, Director Alexis Bloom

Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes deftly fuses the personal, the political and the just plain surreal as it charts the origin, rise and downfall of Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. Variously called a bulldog, a kingmaker, and the Ernest Hemingway of campaign advisors, Ailes was the wizard of Oz. But he collected talent like dolls, and became consumed by paranoia about his own personal security. The son of a factory foreman, Ailes had a hand in political campaigns in almost every state in the country. He was a key advisor over the last half century to presidents Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush. When President Obama called him “the most powerful man in media” he basked in the glow, and posed smiling alongside the Democratic president he had done everything to undermine. Ailes fashioned Fox News into a ratings powerhouse, with more viewers than all its direct competitors, combined. But he was forced out by the Murdoch family in 2016, amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment. How did a tap-dancing hemophiliac become one of the most powerful and divisive executives in American media? Director and producer Alexis Bloom (Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds) stops by to talk about one of America’s seminal figures and how he has shaped the destiny of the Republican Party and the future of American democracy.

 

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For news and updates go to: divideandconquerfilm.com

85% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Ultimately, “Divide and Conquer” offers useful lessons – and maybe even a little hope – for people on both sides of the national divide, about just how we came to this terrible, but not irreversible, place.” – Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post

“Alexis Bloom’s keenly insightful and deeply depressing documentary is probably best viewed not as a record of the past but a document of what’s to come.” – Chris Barsanti, Slant Magazine

“A well-made documentary that leaves you with the imprint of Roger Ailes’ domineering arrogance, and the way he used it to shape American political reality and, finally, the world.” – Owen

Ghostbox Cowboy, Director John Maringouin

John Maringouin’s brilliant, darkly comedic morality tale examines a wildly ambitious Westerner who tries to get in on China’s tech boom and finds that he may not be up to the task. Texan Jimmy Van Horn (David Zellner) is a cowboy huckster who arrives in the booming city of Shenzhen with a couple of bitcoins and huge ambitions of parlaying them into economic success. Lucky for Jimmy, he’s got a friend holding open the back door to this “accidental Shangri-La” – Bob Grainger (Robert Longstreet) – who’s gotten new teeth, a blonde wig and looks twenty years younger. He promises to do the same for Jimmy in 6 weeks. Director and writer John Maringouin (BIG RIVER MAN) develops a startling visual language in this excitingly fresh, complex perspective on China’s economic growth – and the gold rush mentality it inspires. Director John Maringouin joins us for a free-wheeling conversation about his funny, surreal and enthralling tale of the wild west cowboy capitalism that China is now living through.

 

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For news and updates go to: ghostboxcowboy.com

Social Media

facebook.com/ghostboxcowboy

twitter.com/GhostboxCowboy

instagram.com/ghostboxcowboy

88% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Stylish, comic and shameless, with a gonzo, midnight movie tone.” – David D’Arcy, Screen International

“”Ghostbox Cowboy” truly defies categorization, and remains so unpredictable that no single viewing can resolve the fertile ideas it puts on the table about globalization, innovation, and the role of individuality in a fast-paced world that rejects it.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire

“Fascinating, atmospheric, and utterly strange in ways both good and bad, Ghostbox Cowboy pulls back the curtain on those trying to export the American dream and reaping the whirlwind.” – Joe Blessing, The Playlist

“‘Ghostbox Cowboy’ is fascinating, atmospheric and utterly strange.” – Joe Blessing, The Playlist

Bob Lazar, Area 51 and Flying Saucers, Director Jeremy Corbell

In the highly entertaining and jarring documentary BOB LAZAR: AREA 51 AND FLYING SAUCERS the curtain is pulled back on Area 51, flying saucers from another world – and the program to create a fierce, new technology that could easily change everything about the world we think we know. Bob Lazar remains the singular most famous and controversial name in the world of UFOs. The reason you know about Area 51 is because Lazar came forward and told you about it. His disclosures have turned his life upside-down and he has tried to stay out of the spotlight. For this reason, he has never let any filmmaker into the private world of his daily life – that is – until now. BOB LAZAR: AREA 51 AND FLYING SAUCERS explores Lazar’s claims through the lens of thirty years – providing rare and never before revealed footage – guaranteed to alter the landscape of the debate. Director Jeremy Corbell joins us to talk about the fantastical and yet credible story of a seemingly honest and sincere messenger telling the world that we are not alone.

 

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For news and updates go to: TheLazarStory.com

The 20th Annual Animation Show of Shows, Founder and CEO Ron Diamond

The 20th anniversary of the award winning The 20th Annual Animation Show of Shows presents 15 thought-provoking, poignant, and very funny animated shorts from around the world. In a year when the best and worst of human nature has been on constant display, the works in this year’s show remind us of both the universality of shared ideals, as well as the diverse challenges we face. For 20 years, The Animation Show of Shows  has been presenting new and innovative short films to appreciative audiences at animation studios, schools and, since 2015, theaters around the world. Over the years, 38 of the films showcased in The 20th Annual Animation Show of Shows  went on to receive Academy Award® nominations, with 11 films winning the Oscar®. The 20th Annual Animation Show of Shows  not only has something for everyone, but is a remarkable and insightful microcosm of our world. According to founder and curator Ron Diamond, “Animation is such a flexible and open-ended medium that it lends itself to exploring the innumerable aspects of what it means to be human, and this year’s program, as much as any of our past presentations, really illuminates human strengths and foibles, and the bonds that unite us across cultures and generations.” Ron Diamond joins us to talk about this year’s latest collection of wonderfully creative, insightful and entertaining animation from across the globe. 

 

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For news and updates go to: animationshowofshows.com

Social Media

facebook.com/AnimationShowOfShows

Upcoming Los Angeles area screenings:

The Vista Theatre at 4473 Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles

Tuesday December 11 – 2:45pm, 5:30pm, 8:45pm

Wednesday December 12 – 2:45pm, 5:30pm, 8:45pm

Thursday December 13 – 2:45pm, 5:30pm

Glendale Laemmle Theatres – Friday, December 14

207 N. Maryland Ave. Glendale, CA

Call: 310-478-3836 for screening times

United We Fan, Director Michael Sparaga

Fans, stars, creators and more come together to explore the history and evolution of TV’s save-our-show fan campaigns in Michael Sparaga’s (The Missing Ingredient) humorous and heartfelt feature documentary UNITED WE FAN. From the letter-writing and product mail-ins of yesterday to the social media and crowdfunding campaigns of today, UNITED WE FAN goes beyond the headlines to give viewers deeper insights into fandom, community and identity. For most viewers, it’s simply a disappointment when their favorite TV series is cancelled. But the fans of some series take the loss a lot harder. And they fight back. UNITED WE FAN chronicles the stories of those passionate individuals and their unique crusades to save their beloved shows. Declared “a joy to watch” by POV Magazine, UNITED WE FAN intertwines the remarkable stories of Kaily, Dorothy and the Trimbles while also taking time to delve into the inspiring campaigns to save Designing Women, Quantum Leap, Chuck, Longmire, Jericho, Veronica Mars, Roswell and the Rosetta Stone of rescued TV series Star Trek. “UNITED WE FAN is not a movie about television’s wackiest fans,” said director Michael Sparaga, “rather, it’s a love letter to the inspiring people who have formed communities and fought tirelessly against seemingly impossible odds to give viewers everywhere more seasons of some of television’s most iconic shows.” Director / Writer / Producer Michael Sparaga joins us to talk about the men and women whose embrace and affection for specific television series goes way beyond passive entertainment into the realm of a life affirming connections to the creators, performers and characters who have enriched their lives via episodic storytelling.

 

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Social Media

facebook.com/UnitedWeFanDoc  

twitter.com/unitedwefandoc

instagram.com/unitedwefandoc

UNITED WE FAN is available on multiple VOD platforms beginning December 4

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A cheery collage of anecdotes about how popular culture brings people together and inspires them to fight for the things they love.” – Norman Wilner, Toronto Now

“It’s a fun film to watch, but also one that makes us question how far we’re all willing to go to save our favourite series from extinction, and where the future of such fan campaigns might be going from here.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate

“United We Fan is a brisk, enjoyable look at the way TV fan culture has evolved since the days when Star Trek first flirted with cancellation.” – Jesse Schedeen, IGN Movies

“What United We Fan does very well is that the documentary offers a blueprint for the many television fans wanting to save their favorite series.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

Life Underground, Director Hervé Cohen

LIFE UNDERGROUND is a groundbreaking trans-media project that invites visitors on a journey through the subways of the world and into the personal stories of their passengers. Its main component is an interactive web documentary. LIFE UNDERGROUND has also become an immersive multimedia installation for museums and public spaces (including subway stations) featuring the same content but on large screens with a multi-track soundscape. Shot in over 17 cities, across 4 continents, in over 11 languages, by director Hervé Cohen this interactive web documentary and immersive media installation takes viewers on a journey into the subways of the world through the personal stories of passengers. Hervé Cohen is an award-winning filmmaker and cinematographer and has traveled the world to capture compelling stories for international productions. He has also shot two feature narratives, in San Francisco and in Haiti (the 2017 Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film, AYITI MON AMOUR). LIFE UNDERGROUND is nominated for Best Short Form Series by the International Documentary Association. Director Hervé Cohen joins us to talk about his enlightening and humanizing look at a world where people have much more in common than not.

 

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To watch the film go to: life-underground.com

Social Media

facebook.com/lifeundergroundproject

instagram.com/lifeunderground2018

twitter.com/lifeunderdoc

The Cleaners, Co-Director Moritz Riesewieck (Hans Block)

The riveting new documentary film THE CLEANERS takes us into the hidden third world shadow industry of digital cleaning, where the Internet rids itself of what it doesn‘t like. Here we meet five “digital scavengers” among thousands of people outsourced from Silicon Valley whose job is to delete “inappropriate” content of the net. In a parallel struggle, we meet people around the globe whose lives are dramatically affected by online censorship. A typical “cleaner” must observe and rate thousands of often deeply disturbing images and videos every day, leading to lasting psychological impacts. Yet underneath their work lie profound questions around what makes an image art or propaganda and what defines journalism. Where exactly is the point of balance for social media to be neither an “unlegislated” space nor a forum rife with censorship? THE CLEANERS struggles to come to terms with this new and disconcerting paradigm. Evolving from a shared social vision of a global village to a web of fake news and radicalization, the film charts the rise and fall of social media’s utopian ideology.  We talk about THE CLEANERS role managing what is seen and not seen on the internet, who are they, what are the criteria and why are the companies who are paying them so determined to remain hidden. Co-director Moritz Riesewieck (Hans Block) joins us for an engaging and provocative conversation on the lack of transparency and unaccountability from the people who have promised the world the opposite.

For news and updates go to: The Cleaners

92% on Rotten Tomatoes

“The chilling, morally hyper-conscious film “The Cleaners”… introduces us to a handful of these hidden, meagerly paid office workers, cogs in a shadow business headquartered mainly in Manila in unassuming buildings.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

“The Cleaners is a riveting piece of work, prompting reflection on a whole range of big, urgent questions.” – Jake Wilson, The Age Australia

“It is the starting point for a wide-ranging examination of complex issues surrounding freedom of speech, censorship and corporate responsibility.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International

“With its excellent cinematography, ominous tone and incredibly relevant subject matter, The Cleaners is a masterclass in documentary filmmaking.” – Adam Patterson, Film Pulse