First-time director Lillian LaSalle’s award-winning and timely documentary MY NAME IS PEDRO explores what public education meant to South Bronx Latino maverick educator, Pedro Santana, and what he, in turn, meant to public education. MY NAME IS PEDRO is a profound story of how one person actualizes learning and positive change in children, adults, environments and communities through an ‘impact’ ripple effect strategy that he has effortlessly perfected. MY NAME IS PEDRO is also an essential and timely reminder of the importance of great educators that exist within the infrastructure of our country’s public education system. Infectious in his optimism, Santana becomes one of the most influential public-school teachers and then administrators in the New York public school system after turning his troubled Bronx middle school, MS 391, around. He is unapologetic in his commitment to create change for kids, no matter the odds. When a glowing front-page New York Times article catapults him into the spotlight, he is recruited and then accepts a promotion to use his famed ‘out of the box’ and transformative practices to save a corrupt and divided suburban school district. But the political challenges there may simply be too great, even for the infallible Santana. Director Lillian LaSalle joins us to talk about her beautifully rendered story of a man determined to guide and motivate young people to be better students and better people.
My Name is Pedro is opening: New York (The Maysles Cinema) September 17 – Los Angeles (Laemmle) on October 2. A multi-city regional expansion on October 9 including: Philadelphia (Film Society), Buffalo (North Park), Baltimore (Senator, The Charles), Vancouver (Kiggins Theater), Tucson (Loft), Cleveland (Cleveland Cinemas), Phoenix (Film Bar), Bellingham (Pickford Center), San Jose (3 Below Outdoor), Winston Salem (Aperture Cinema), Tampa (Tampa Theater) and more.
ONE HOUR OUTCALL is a sophisticated, sexy drama unraveling the complex relationship between a call girl and her client who meet every Thursday night. Esmeralda (Natalia Ochoa) is a college-aged, high-class escort, Greg (William Norrett ) a middle-aged, divorced introvert. Sexual tension and curiosity fill the air during their first rendezvous, each vying for the upper hand. As they continue their weekly explorations, however, they start to develop an intimacy that goes beyond the transactional and into the deeply personal. When his ulterior motive is revealed, their interludes force Greg to confront his relationship with Esmeralda, his family, and his own inner demons. And it forces Esmeralda to question whether or not she can truly leave her emotions at the door. ONE HOUR OUTCALL stars Natalia Ochoa (The Pastor, The Real Steal), William Norrett (Carbuncle, Elysian Gardens), Kristin Carey (Hall Pass, Criminal Minds), Shannon Leigh Godwin (Fake The Joy, Fantasy Fitness), Octavio Rodriguez (NCIS: New Orleans, Homeland”), and Will Holbrook (Ride Home, The Gunman). Director T. Arthur Cottam and Writer / Lead Actor William Norrett join us to talk about their character driven drama told in a series of flashbacks and real-time fragments that add up to a gripping story of power, control and hidden agendas.
About the filmmaker(s) Award-winning director T. Arthur Cottam is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. His critically-acclaimed first feature film, Carbuncle, was nominated for Best Feature Film at the Milan Film Festival and was hailed as “brilliant” by Campus Circle and “wonderfully eccentric” by Films In Review. His follow-up film, Pollywogs, was nominated for Best Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles Film Festival and is available on various streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime and iTunes. His short film phenomenon, Pornographic Apathetic, won 9 awards and played at film festivals and art museums around the world from 2003 until 2019. The Los Angeles Times said, “The piece makes you laugh while illustrating one of the paradoxes of smut: At its core, it’s rather idiotic and boring.” The film became the most viewed film on Atom.com which was later acquired by Comedy Central. His controversial 2006 film Filthy Food received the award for Best Experimental Short film at CineKink NYC, screened at numerous film festivals and was licensed for French television by Canal+. Filthy Food was also banned for 12 years in Italy and Korea, and was censored at the former AFI Dallas Film Festival. Cottam’s short 52 Takes of the Same Thing, Then Boobs was featured at several film festivals, including theFestival Internacional de Curtas Metragens de Sao Paulo (Brazil), Lille International Short Film Festival (France), Visionaria (Italy) and the Austin Film Festival. It was described as “the most outrageously ‘out there’ film that we have scheduled” by AFI Fest Director of Programming, Lane Kneedler. His feature film One Hour Outcall won Best Screenplay at the Block Island Film Festival and was an official selection of the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival. Cottam is currently in post-production on two additional feature films, Objects and No Apparent Motive.
Writer / Lead Actor William Norrett is a graduate of Regis High School in New York City and Duke University, William Norrett is the author of several plays, including The Sophisticated Rogue, The Dealer Was Showing Six, and Brendan O’Lenihan Leaves Three Daughters, and the co-author of the musical comedy Presidential Suite. He wrote the novel The Vanilla Gigolo Prescription. He is also the writer/director of the short film collection You Know What This Song’s About?
The emotionally gripping documentary, OUR TIME MACHINE, focuses on 43-year-old Maleonn, one of China’s most influential conceptual artists, and his father, Ma Ke, former artistic director of the Shanghai Chinese Opera Theater. After being humiliated and forbidden from working for a decade during the Cultural Revolution, Ma Ke immersed himself in theater. The mysterious excitement of Ma Ke’s creative world inspired the young Maleonn, but his father’s absences stoked early feelings of resentment. When Ma Ke is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Maleonn pours everything into an ambitious new theater project: “Papa’s Time Machine,” a visually stunning time-travel adventure told with human-sized puppets. At the play’s heart are autobiographical scenes inspired by Maleonn’s memories with his father. He hopes this will bring them together artistically and personally. Facing his father’s painful decline, Maleonn becomes more aware of life’s complexities. There are no effortless masterpieces or simple solutions. And there’s no traveling back in time to retrieve what has been lost. OUR TIME MACHINE probes the complex relationships of a family in transition, generation to generation, filtered through the lens through art, theatre and puppeteering. Co-director S. Leo Chiang joins us to talk about his collaboration with co-director Yang Sun and subject Maleonn as well as unpack the multi-layered questions concerning memory, dreams, love, and family.
Directors’ Statement Those who grew up in post-Cultural Revolution China lived through a kind of socio-economic transformation that would have taken another country 100 years to bring about. In the span of 20 years, cities emerged from towns, the economy generated unprecedented wealth for some while leaving others behind, and new roads and digital networks connected China to the world. These migrations within our country and its rapid digitization have fundamentally changed the way people communicate and relate to one another. So, when we came across Maleonn and his ageing father, both artists, but who came of age on opposite sides of the Cultural Revolution in China, we made immediate personal connections. We see a story that could be our own in the not-so-distant future. For us and for Maleonn, the struggle to express affection towards one’s family goes hand in hand with defining and sharing the meaning behind devoting one’s life to art. Our intentions in crafting our film are to move others the way it has profoundly moved us. This is an evergreen story, relevant for past and future generations and across cultural divides, so long as there is love between children and their parents. Our story provides a needed addition to highlight the similarities between people in the West and in China during a time where the political language can be hostile and divisive.We hope this film celebrates the process in which two men reconcile their past feelings and create something together that repairs a distressed part of the fabric of Chinese society. – S. Leo Chiang and Yang Sun
“The issues of aging and familial relationships and the appealing nature of this family would make “Our Time Machine” worthy of a look in any case, but what puts it over the top is Maleonn’s fascinating visual creations.” – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle
“S. Leo Chiang and Yang Sun’s vibrant documentary about this labor of love proves to be a multi-layered metaphor of the interplay of art, memory, loss, and reconciliation, as well as a study of a touching and fraught father-son relationship.” – Peter Keough, Boston Globe
“Even though Our Time Machine is about a big, ambitious stage production with some visually stunning puppets, the documentary’s smaller, quieter moments with Maleonn and his family are where the movie is at its best.” – Carla Hay, Culture Mix
“Maleonn’s wondrous creations are enough of an attraction on their own, but the film… has many more layers to reveal about the legacy of Cultural Revolution, familial relationships, the agonies of love and loss and the circle of life.” – Scott Tobias, Variety
In their mesmerizing new film, SPACE DOG, Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter chronicle the legacy of Laika, a stray dog picked up by the Soviet space program on the streets of Moscow, the first living being to orbit the earth when she was launched into space on Sputnik 2. Kremser and Peter trace the persistence of her memory and legacy into the present day. As the capsule containing the lifeless body of Laika re-entered Earth’s orbit and began to burn up, the narrator announces “What had been a Moscow street dog had become a ghost.”The ghost Laika lives on in the present-day strays of SPACE DOGS. Photographed at ground level with wandering, hypnotic camera movements, the strays are seen navigating the urban environs of modern Moscow. In hewing closely to the dog’s point of view, the city is rendered as a strange, alien environment. Pulsating music from buildings and unidentified passerby take on an unfamiliar quality as the dogs explore this strange new world. Archival footage of the Soviet space program is interwoven throughout the film, reveling in the bizarre tests and procedures the canines were subjected to in preparation for space travel. Co-directors Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter join us for a conversation on their fascinating project that features stunning cinematography and meditative pacing that recalls the work of Andrei Tarkovsky, and how SPACE DOGS de-centers humans in order to uncover a forgotten history.
About the filmmaker – Director ELSA KREMSER Born 1985 in Austria, Elsa Kremser studied Film at the University of Vienna and the Filmakademie Ludwigsburg. As an author and producer, she realized several documentaries that were shown worldwide. Her diploma film NEBEL premiered at the Berlinale. She was a jury member of Visions du Réel and participated in the Nipkow Grand and the EuroDoc program. In 2016 she founded the Vienna-based production company RAUMZEITFILM together with Levin Peter. As a directing duo, they are currently working on their first fiction feature, THE GREEN PARROT, which received the Berlinale Kompagnon Script Award. Their recent documentary SPACE DOGS premiered at Locarno IFF where it received two special jury mentions. It was presented at over 50 festivals worldwide and awarded as the “Best Austrian Film 2019” at the Viennale.
About the filmmaker – Director LEVIN PETER Born 1985 in Germany, Levin Peter studied at the Filmakademie Ludwigsburg where he realized several documentaries that were shown worldwide. His diploma film BEYOND THE SNOWSTORM won the German Upcoming Film Award and was presented as a Guest at the Berlinale. He was a jury member at Visions du Réel and received the Nipkow and the Gerd Ruge Grant. In 2016 he founded the Vienna-based production company RAUMZEITFILM with Elsa Kremser. As a directing duo, they are currently working on their first fiction feature, THE GREEN PARROT, which received the Berlinale Kompagnon Script Award. Their recent documentary SPACE DOGS premiered at Locarno IFF where it received two special jury mentions. It was presented at over 50 festivals worldwide and awarded as the “Best Austrian Film 2019” at the Viennale.
BUOYANCY is the story of a Cambodian teenager sold into forced labor on a Thai fishing boat is a passionate testimony against social injustice and a moving coming-of-age tale about a boy whose humanity is put to the test. Spirited 14-year-old Chakra works the rice fields with his family. He yearns for independence and seeks out a local broker who can get him paid work in a Thai factory. Without telling his family, Chakra travels to Bangkok to make his fortune. But when he gets there, he and his new friend Kea realize the broker has lied to them. Along with other Cambodians and Burmese, they are sold to a fishing captain as slaves. Chakra and Kea are trapped at sea, trawling fish 22 hours a day, surviving on just a handful of cold rice a day. The captain quickly weeds out those weakened by the conditions or trying to escape, and throws them overboard. The trawler sells its catch and restocks its supplies without going to land, making escape impossible. Chakra looks to Rom Ran to understand what it will take to be free. With hope and humanity dwindling, Chakra decides to take matters into his own hands. Director Rodd Rathjen joins us to talk about shooting at sea, with a cast composed of mostly non-English speaking actor, making his first feature film.
Set in the dark underbelly of Silicon Valley, THE SOCIAL DILEMMA fuses investigative documentary with enlightening narrative drama—think An Inconvenient Truth meets The Matrix. Expert testimony from tech whistle-blowers exposes our disturbing predicament: the services Big Tech provides—search engines, networks, instant information, et cetera—are merely the candy that lures us to bite. Once we’re hooked and coming back for more, the real commodity they sell is their prowess to influence and manipulate us. Technology wizards have masterminded a new form of capitalism, and humanity is now the raw resource feeding the machine. THE SOCIAL DILEMMA focuses on the powerful, hidden artificial intelligence tasked with hijacking our attention is tearing apart social norms, jeopardizing truth and democracy, and putting civilization on a programmed path toward self-destruction. Award-winning filmmaker and environmentalist Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Ice, 2012; Chasing Coral, 2017) disrupts the disrupters by uncorking the invisible story purring from that mobile phone hidden in your pocket. Cunningly entertaining, THE SOCIAL DILEMMA sounds the alarm on surveillance capitalism in hopes of preserving the very fabric of our society before it’s too late. Director Jeff Orlowski joins us to talk about his incredibly relevant and important film.
About the filmmaker: Jeff Orlowski is the director, producer, and cinematographer of Chasing Coral(2017 Sundance Film Festival winner of the Audience Award: U.S. Documentary) andChasing Ice(2012 Festival winner of the Excellence in Cinematography Award Documentary). Both films screened at the United Nations and Congress and won Emmy Awards. Orlowski was awarded the inaugural Sundance Institute Discovery Impact Fellowship and named a United Nations Environment Programme Champion of the Earth. For more on the work of Jeff Orlowski go to: exposurelabs.com
In Maite Alberdi’s The Mole Agent Sergio is a Chilean spy. Sort of. At least, Sergio is offered the role of one after a casting session organized by Detective Romulo, a private investigator who needs a credible mole to infiltrate a retirement home. Romulo’s client, the concerned daughter of a resident, suspects her mother is being abused and hires him to find out what is really happening. However, Sergio is 83, not 007, and not an easy trainee when it comes to technology and spying techniques. But he is a keen student, looking for ways to distract himself after recently losing his wife. What could be a better distraction than some undercover spy action? While gathering intelligence, Sergio grows close to several residents and realizes that the menacing truth beneath the surface is not what anyone had suspected. Director Maite Alberdi’s The Mole Agent is a stylish combination of an observational dcumentary and a spy movie, with sleek camerawork and wonderfully watchable characters. It’s a unique meditation on compassion and loneliness that will infiltrate your heart and never let go.
About the filmmaker –Director Maite Alberdi has developed a particular style that is characterized by an intimate portrait of small worlds, and her renowned personal hallmark has made her one of the most important voices in Latin American documentaries. In 2011 she released her first feature The Lifeguard. Her second film Tea Time won more than 12 international awards and was nominated for Best Ibero-American Film at the Goya Awards in 2016. In that same year, her short film I’m Not From Here premiered, and was later nominated for the European Films Award. Her most recent feature film The Grown Ups received 10 international awards. Additionally, she co-authored the book Documentary Film Theory in Chile 1957-1973. Maite is a Global Shaper, Young Leaders by the World Economic Forum (WEF), and a member of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).
“The most heartwarming spy movie ever made.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire
“Funny, poignant and finely crafted. A refreshing, beautifully made documentary.”– John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
“A perfect movie that will make you laugh and break your heart.”– Jonathan Christian, The Playlist
“There’s no small irony here when it takes the perceived artifice of a movie to get at a reality about aging that most of us would rather not face, but the more Sergio is asked to go undercover in “The Mole Agent,” the deeper it gets for everyone.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest
Katherine Hervey’s emotionally charged new documentary THE PRISON WITHIN exposes the devastating impact untreated trauma has on individuals and communities through the powerful stories of survivors of violent crimes and prisoners incarcerated for murder in San Quentin prison. The prisoners and survivors come together and participate in the Victim Offender Education Group (VOEG)—an innovative restorative justice program enabling prisoners to discover how the trauma they’ve experienced contributed to their criminality and to understand the impact their crimes have on their victims. Together, the prisoners and survivors confront and expose the pain, shame, and rage caused by the extreme trauma they’ve experienced throughout their lives. THE PRISON WITHIN goes beyond whyand how the system is inadequate, deftly exposing the torment experienced by people on both sides of prison walls. Through personal stories illustrative of the systemic injustices that perpetuate cycles of violence and trauma, this film lays a path to heal and reconcile our notions of justice. The Prison Within is narrated by Hill Harper (The Good Doctor, Homeland, CSI:NY, Covert Affairs) and author of Letters to an Incarcerated Brother, which speaks to the current mass incarceration crisis. Director Katherin Hervey, a former Los Angeles Public Defender and volunteer prison college instructor, and Producer Erin Kenway, is the first filmmaker to gain access to chronicle these intimate and revealing sessions inside San Quentin Prison.
THE PRISON WITHIN is now available on all VOD/Digital & Blu-Ray/DVD platforms.
About the filmmakers – Director / Producer / Writer Katherin Hervey is a multimedia artist and activist. She has over a decade of experience in the criminal justice field as both an attorney and prison university educator. Katherin received her Bachelor’s degree in Cross-cultural Communications in America from University of Washington and is a graduate of Vancouver Film School. She also holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School. Prior to law school, she was the Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of Shades of Contradiction, a nationally distributed arts and culture magazine dedicated to promoting critical thinking and creative action. Katherin has produced, directed and art-directed short documentary and narrative films, including “Bob vs. The Incubus” (Best Documentary, Vancouver Film School Festival), and was the Art Director for “Her Urge” (Best Short Film, Sydney Mardi Gras Film Festival and Outstanding Women’s Short, Dallas Out Takes Festival). Katherin is also Co-founder of Raw Love Productions, a multimedia production ensemble dedicated to visual storytelling with social and artistic value. She is currently co-producing The Spirit of a Child, an interactive web documentary based in Ghana, West Africa. The Prison Within is her first feature film.
About the filmmaker – Producer / Writer / Executive Producer Erin Kenway graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree with honors from University of California, Irvine, majoring in both Criminology, Law & Society, and Psychology & Social Behavior. She holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Seattle University School of Law, is admitted to the National Order of the Barristers, and is a certified mediator. Prior to shifting careers to focus full-time on independent filmmaking, she practiced law for over a decade primarily represented economically disadvantaged victims of domestic violence in civil dissolution and child custody cases, and also served on several committees for both the Washington State and King County Bar Associations. She was also a Global Campaign Manager for broadcast, print, digital, and social advertising campaigns for Amazon’s award-winning Brand / Mass Advertising team. She is the co-founder of Tarina Productions, which is currently in development on multiple feature documentaries.
In November 2016, a nasty election cycle had exposed a seismic cultural rift, and the country suddenly felt like a much different place. For underground cartoonist Matt Furie, that sensation was even more surreal. Furie’s comic creation Pepe the Frog, conceived more than a decade earlier as a laid-back humanoid amphibian, had unwittingly become a grotesque political pawn.FEELS GOOD MAN is a Frankenstein-meets-Alice-in-Wonderland journey of an artist battling to regain control of his creation, while confronting a disturbing cast of characters who have their own peculiar attachments to Pepe. Now, as Pepe continues to morph around the world – FEELS GOOD MAN offers a vivid, moving portrait of one man, one frog, and the very strange reality we’ve all found ourselves living in. Director Arthur Jones and Producer Giorgio Angelini stop by to talk about their mind-blowing journey into an internet / social media / 4Chan rabbit hole where a hippy-dippy cartoon character becomes an avatar and unfathomable messenger of hatred and bigoted propaganda.
About the filmmakers: Arthur Jones – Director / Animator / Writer FEELS GOOD MAN is Jones’s directorial debut, but he’s uniquely suited to tell the story. He’s a cartoonist who came up in the same indie comics scene as the film’s subject, Matt Furie. Jones published a book of his illustrations in 2011: Post-it Note Diaries (Penguin/Plume Paperbacks). Over his career, he’s art directed animation and motion graphics for journalists and documentary filmmakers, working with companies including The New York Times, VICE, The Center for Investigative Reporting and The International Consortium of Journalists. Recently he’s been a part of several documentary features: Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story (2015), BUNKER 77 (Amazon Studios, 2017), Owned, A Tale of Two Americas (2018) and Hal (Oscilloscope Films, 2018). Jones is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. For more on the work of Arthur Jones go to: futuresmells.com
Giorgio Angelini: Producer / Writer / Cinematographer came into film from a longer, multi-faceted career in the creative arts. After touring in bands like The Rosebuds and Bishop Allen for much of his 20s, Giorgio enrolled in the Masters of Architecture program at Rice University during the depths of the 2008 real estate collapse. It was during this tumultuous time that the seeds for Giorgio’s directorial debut, OWNED: A Tale of Two Americas began to take shape. Following graduate school, Angelini began working with the boutique architecture firm, Schaum Shieh Architects, where he designed the White Oak Music Hall in Houston, Texas, as well as the headquarters for The Transart Foundation for Art and Anthropology, which won the Architect’s Newspaper’s “Design of the Year” award in 2018.
WINNER – U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Emerging Filmmaker – 2020 Sundance Film Festival
WINNER – Best Feature Documentary – 2020 Lighthouse International Film Festival Official Selection – 2020 True/False Film Festival Official Selection – 2020 Big Sky Documentary Festival Official Selection – Festival Favorites – 2020 SXSW Film Festival
“You’ve just got to see it. It is chilling, hopeful, terrible, and wonderful—and made with care, gorgeous animation, and perfect pacing.” – Allen Salkin, Los Angeles Magazine
“An expansive forensic look at the life cycle of an idea, a warp-speed analysis of internet sociology, and a harrowingly modern fable about innocence lost.“– David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“It’s mesmerizing and kind of trippy, but also makes the film feel like a one-of-a-kind creation in the greater context of the Pepe the Frog legacy…an outstanding documentary.” 9/10– Alex Billington, FirstShowing
“The most urgent and poignant political documentary of the year.”– Matt Patches, Polygon
Andorra, a tiny, independent country situated between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains with a total population of 80,000 people found itself at the center of one of the most convoluted and outrageous bank robberies in modern history: on March 10, 2015, Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA), a private bank in Andorra, was shut down by Spanish, American, and Andorran governments in Spain’s efforts todestroy the Catalonian Independence Movement thus leaving dozens of innocent civilians facing prison for money laundering crimes that never existed, and scores of innocent families have had their entire life savings stolen from them. The incentive for the Spanish government to destroy BPA was part of Spain’s ongoing “Operation Catalonia”—a covert state-sponsored war-like operation meant to undermine the progress of Catalonia’s efforts to separate from Spain due to generations of humanitarian and economic repression Madrid has inflicted upon Catalonia. America’s incentive was to protect Spain’s interests, as they are an ally of the United States. Andorra’s incentive appears to be purely economical on behalf of its leadership. Director Eric Merola, (Burzynski, Second Opinion: Laetrile at Sloan-Kettering, Burzynski: The Cancer Cure Cover-Up, and The God Cells) joins us to talk about this shocking, but true story of an international banking system, and a regulatory oversight regime that is only incidentally concerned with banking integrity or financial criminality.
Merola Productions is proud to present the VOD release of THE ANDORRA HUSTLE, a documentary film written and directed by the award-winning filmmaker Eric Merola. The film will be available for streaming on Amazon Prime on September 4, 2020.
About the filmmaker – Eric Merola is an internationally award-winning documentary filmmaker. For the last decade Eric has directed and produced four documentaries exploring disruptive scientific technologies in the space of medical research. All of his documentaries can be viewed on Amazon Prime Video Merola’s 5th documentary, The Andorra Hustle, releases worldwide in English, Spanish, and Catalan on Amazon Prime Video. Merola’s first documentary, Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business was an international success seen by tens of millions of people worldwide. This project was presented on Netflix, PBS, The Documentary Channel, and various international television outlets. The positive reception of the Burzynski story led Merola to produce its sequel, Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business, Part II Merola’s third documentary, Second Opinion: Laetrile At Sloan-Kettering tells the story of Ralph W. Moss, PhD, who blew the whistle on the successful laetrile studies conducted for 5 years at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City in the 1970s. Today, Eric Merola is most passionate about investigating fetal stem cell therapy, where he spent four years researching and releasing his most recent documentary, The God Cells: A Fetal Stem Cell Journey. Merola continues to follow new patients who seek fetal stem cell treatment and share their stories. Merola feels that fetal stem cells could be the most disruptive technology he’s discovered in the medical research space, potentially replacing nearly every pharmaceutical medication on the market. Eric is also a painter and fine art currently holding a residency at the 18th Street Studios in Santa Monica.
GET DUKED! follows teenage pals from Glasgow Dean, Duncan and DJ Beatroot as they embark on the character-building camping trip — based on a real-life program — known as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, where foraging, teamwork and orienteering are the order of the day. Eager to cut loose and smoke weed in the Scottish Highlands, the trio find themselves paired with strait-laced Ian, a fellow camper determined to play by the rules. After veering off-path into remote farmland that’s worlds away from their urban comfort zone, the boys find themselves hunted down by a shadowy force hell-bent on extinguishing their futures. From writer-director Ninian Doff — making his feature debut after a slew of award-winning music videos and short films for artists including Run the Jewels, The Chemical Brothers, Miike Snow, Migos, and Mykki Blanco— comes an anarchic satire of generational politics, hip-hop-loving farmers and hallucinogenic rabbit droppings that pits the youth of tomorrow against the status quo of yesterday. GET DUKED! stars Eddie Izzard, Kate Dickie, Georgie Glen, James Cosmo and a breakout young cast featuring Samuel Bottomley, Viraj Juneja, Rian Gordon, and Lewis Gribben. Creator and director Ninian Doff joins us for a raucous conversation on the brilliance of Eddie Izzard, getting a chance to bring his music video chops to a feature film and why the Brits are so attuned to the power of satire.
About the filmmaker: Ninian Doff is a robot built by the military as an advanced ruthless killing machine. Unfortunately when they booted him up he showed no interest in murder and to their dismay started making films instead. He is considered the greatest military failure in history. Nominated for 9 British Arrows 2020 (Sainsburys and Veg Power), Grammy 2020 Best Music Video Nominated (Chem Brothers), Campaign’s Top 10 Directors 2019, Winner Shots Awards “Television Commercial of the Year – Up to and including 60 second” (Veg Power), BIFA Best Debut Director Nominated (Boyz In the Wood/ Get Duked!), Winner Just Film Grand Prix Talin Black Night Festival (Boyz In the Wood/ Get Duked!), Winner The Siren Award for Best Feature Film 2019 Lund Fantastik Film Festival (Boyz In the Wood/ Get Duked!), Winner Music video of the year Ars Independent Festival (Chemical Brothers), Nominated Best Dance Video UKMVA 2019 (Chemical Brothers), Winner SXSW Audience Award Midnighters (Boyz In The Wood), Winner of Best Director at UKMVA 2016. Winner Best Urban Video, Best Pop Video UKMVA 2016. D&AD Director Pencil 2016. Gold in FilmCraft at Europebest 2015. UKMVA 2015 Best Director Nominee. UKMVA 2104 “Best Director” Nominee. Winner UKMVA 2014 “Best Choreography”. Winner of UKMVA 2013 “Best Indie Video”. Jury and Audience award at ‘Depict13 at Brief Encounters Film Festival 2013. Nominee at UKMVA’s in last 3 years running including “Best New Director”. Selected for Saatchi and Saatchi’s New Director’s Showcase at Cannes 2012 and One Dot Zero’s “New British Talent 11”. Work has been screened at over A BILLION festivals around the world including SXSW, LA Film Festival, London Short Film Festival, Las Vegas Film Festival, Montreal Museum of Modern Art, The V&A London. For more on the filmmaker fo to: niniandoff.com
“Serves as a distinctive calling card for a gifted yet twisted comedian, one without the slightest qualms about turning a bucolic countryside jaunt into a bloody “The Hills Have Eyes”-style hunting party.” – Peter Debruge, Variety
“A rambunctious film shot through with daft humour and an endearing, toxic masculinity-smashing sweet streak.” – Jamie Dunn, The Skinny
“An anarchic, pitch black, generation gap horror comedy that’s also one of the funniest films in a year where we are desperately in need of a laugh.” – James Croot, Stuff.co.nz
EPICENTRO, a richly textured portrait of the resilient people of Cubadirected by renowned documentarian Hubert Sauper (We Come As Friends, Oscar-nominated Darwin’s Nightmare). Winner of the 2020 Sundance Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema Documentary, the film launches in virtual cinemas through Kino Marquee starting Friday, August 28. EPICENTRO is an immersive and metaphorical portrait of post-colonial, “utopian” Cuba, where the 1898 explosion of the USS Maine still resonates. This Big Bang ended Spanish colonial dominance in the Americas and ushered in the era of the American Empire. At the same time and place, a powerful tool of conquest was born: cinema as propaganda. In his latest film, Hubert Sauper explores a century of interventionism and myth-making together with the extraordinary people of Havana—who he calls “young prophets”—to interrogate time, imperialism and cinema itself.
About the filmmaker: Hubert Sauper is an Academy Award–nominated director, cinematographer, writer, and producer living in France. Best known for his documentaries We Come As Friends (2014) and the Academy Award-nominated Darwin’s Nightmare (2004), he has been recognized for his work with more than 50 film awards, among them a European Film Award, a French César, and awards at the Berlin, Venice and Sundance film festivals. Hubert is a visiting professor at several universities, including Harvard, Yale and Columbia.
Winner: Grand Prize, World Documentary – Sundance Film Festival
“A brilliant mixture of historical-poetic analysis and a ground-level journey among the denizens of Havana… The director’s remarkable eye for lived-in detail and for spectacular imagery will mesmerize you.” – Bilge Ebiri, Vulture
“Acclaimed nonfiction filmmaker Hubert Sauper turns his rigorous but compassionate gaze on this fascinating place in Epicentro… Sauper and his co-editor… work the material with a remarkable fluidity and gracefulness that’s consistently engaging and surprising.” – Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter
“[A] tender portrait of Cuba. Politics, people and the power of cinema are brought together to create a mosaic-like reflection on Cuba’s history… Epicentro shines in Sauper’s many encounters with the people of Cuba.” – Alan Hunter, Screen International
While making a documentary about the Anglo-American coup in Iran in 1953,director Taghi Amirani and editor Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now, Godfather II) discovered extraordinary, never-before-seen archival material that had been hidden for decades. The 16mm footage and documents they uncovered not only allowed them to tell the story of the overthrow of the Iranian government in unprecedented detail, but it also led to explosive revelations about dark secrets buried for 67 years. Working with Ralph Fiennes (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Schindler’s List, The English Patient) to help bring the lost material to life, what begins as a historical documentary about four days in August 1953 turns into a live investigation, taking the filmmakers into uncharted cinematic waters. Ten years in the making, COUP 53 tells the story of the 1953 the Anglo-American coup d’état that overthrew Iran’s government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and reinstalled the Shah. The CIA/MI6 covert action was called Operation Ajax. It was all about Iran’s oil and who gets to control and benefit from it. BP was at the heart of this story. Shot in seven countries, featuring participants and first-hand witnesses, and unearthing never seen before archive material, COUP 53 is a politically explosive and cinematically innovative documentary that lifts the lid on secrets buried for over sixty-six years. Director Taghi Armirani and Editor / Writer Walter Murch join us to talk about their own journey to tell the definitive story behind one of the 20th Century’s most consequential geo-political events.
“A MASTERPIECE OF POLITICAL INTERVENTION. Beyond extraordinary.” – Ariel Dorfman, Author and human rights activist
“BREATHTAKING. THE MOST ENTHRALLING AND REVELATORY DOCUMENTARY I’VE SEEN OVER THE PAST YEAR. Remarkable. Taghi Amirani’s passionate and fearless work grew from an impudent home movie into a magnum opus.” – Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
“As compelling as a John Le Carré novel or a Costa-Gavras classic.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
How does a filmmaker Walerian Borowczyk go from creating cutting-edge work and competing in Cannes to being labelled a failed erotic filmmaker? The debut documentary feature, from Polish film critic and academic Kuba Mikurda, Love Express, The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk, investigates the work of a film director and animator of unparalleled creativity & sensitivity, revered in the 1970s for creations including Goto, Island of Love, The Beast, & Immoral Tales. The documentary features interviews with his closest collaborators, filmmakers, and leading intellectuals, including Bertrand Bonello, Neil Jordan, Patrice Leconte, Slavoj Ziek, Terry Gilliam, Mark Cousins and the late Andrzej Wajda.Love Express, offers a rare insight into his groundbreaking animated films, short films, and controversial narrative films as it poses questions about artistic freedom. Director Kuba Mikurda joins us to put the life and career of a trailblazing, visionary, now nearly forgotten director Walerian Borowczyk into perspective.
Since 1935 the American Legion has sponsored a program for teenagers to learn about democracy and civil discourse through a week-long engagement in self-governance. The sensational winner of the Grand Jury Prize for documentary at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Boys State” is a wildly entertaining and continually revealing immersion into a week-long annual program in which a thousand Texas high school seniors gather for an elaborate mock exercise: building their own state government. Filmmakers Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine closely track the escalating tensions that arise within a particularly riveting gubernatorial race, training their cameras on unforgettable teenagers like Ben,a Reagan-loving arch-conservative who brims with confidence despite personal setbacks, and Steven, a progressive-minded child of Mexican immigrants who stands by his convictions amidst the sea of red. In the process, they have created a complex portrait of contemporary American masculinity, as well as a microcosm of our often dispiriting national political divisions that nevertheless manages to plant seeds of hope. Co-directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss joins us for a conversation on chronicling the rough and tumble world of 1,000 aspiring politicians and how some of them shattered expectations,emerging as the potential leaders for a more harmonious future.
“The punchiest doc of the year focuses on an annual leadership conference in which teen boys prove they can run a government better than the old farts doing it now. This wake-up call promises a change in the air. And it’s exhilarating.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“Some of these boys are already as hard-faced and cynical as velociraptors. Some are gentle and sweet natured. Some are even shown changing their minds. It’s an amazing spectacle.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
“This extraordinary portrait of a democratic process in microcosm is both a testament to how Washington, D.C. and the rest of the country could achieve bipartisanship as well as a look at what has led to such a fractured political system.” – Jordan Raup, The Film Stage
“There are so many laughs, and so many telling and relatable moments, and so many fascinating, colorful characters here, Boys State is utterly mesmerizing.” – Tasha Robinson, Polygon
YUSUF HAWKINS: STORM OVER BROOKLYN, directed by Muta’Ali Muhammad (“Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee”) and debuting on HBO Wednesday, August 12 tells the story of Yusuf Hawkins, a black teenager who was murdered in 1989 by a group of young white men in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Yusuf Hawkins’ death and the official response to it sparked outrage in New York, unleashing a torrent of racial tension and spurring tireless civil rights activism that exposed deep racial prejudices and inequities which continue to plague the country today. Over 30 years later, New Yorkers, including Yusuf’s family and friends, reflect on the tragedy and the subsequent fight for justice that inspired and divided New York City. YUSUF HAWKINS: STORM OVER BROOKLYN utilizes archival footage and photos, witness statements, news footage, in addition to candid interviews with Yusuf’s mother, Diane; brothers, Freddy and Amir; cousins, Darlene and Felicia Brown; and friend Christopher Graham and the two friends with him during the attack, Luther Sylvester and Bensonhurst native Russell Gibbons. A harrowing account of an immutable part of the city’s history, and of a family coping with profound grief deepened by injustice,YUSUF HAWKINS: STORM OVER BROOKLYNdetails how the senseless murder that shook the foundation of the city shed light on deep racial divisions and inequity. Yusuf’s death and the demands of his family and community had political ramifications that contributed to the ousting of New York Mayor Ed Koch in favor of David Dinkins, the city’s first and only black Mayor. Director Muta’Ali Muhammad joins us to talk about how the murder of Yusuf Hawkins pulled back the curtain on the racism, both past a present can rear its head anywhere in America, even in a city thought to be a bastion of racial tolerance.
About the filmmaker: Muta’Ali is an award-winning film director from Westchester County, NY. His latest feature documentary “Yusuf Hawkins: Storm Over Brooklyn” airs on HBO this August 12th at 9PM. His past documentary films include the award-winning “Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee”, which featured notable guests including Harry Belafonte, Alan Alda, and Spike Lee. Muta’Ali is determined that his artistic body of work be wholly focussed on what he calls “Love, Art & Activism”. For more on Muta’ Ali go to:mutaali.com
“Muta’Ali Muhammad’s documentary focuses on a pivotal time in New York City’s history and includes an impressive set of interviews with many of those connected to the event, its consequences and Hawkins’ legacy.” – Dwight Brown, National Newspaper Publishing Association
The rePRO Film Festival begins its inaugural run this August 12-16. The virtual film festival is dedicated to exploring women’s reproductive healthcare, awareness, advocacy and bodily integrity in America. The lineup of films includes documentaries and narratives dealing with women’s rights, endometriosis, illegal sterilization, access to abortion, and reproductive justice for women of color, among other topics. rePRO Film Festival, will host five days of features, short films and themed-conversations focused on a range of topics including healthcare access, fertility, pregnancy, sexual education, abortion, and issues related to the gender spectrum. In-festival moderated conversations will include call-to-action messaging on how people can get involved in a corresponding initiative or topic. The conversations, designed to spotlight the creators who dare to tell stories about women’s reproductive rights, and to showcase courageous advocators, will be available online for free globally. All feature films playing the rePRO Film Festival are directed by women, and all filmmakers, including shorts filmmakers, are being paid to screen their films. The pay-what-you-can film ticket proceeds for films at the festival will be converted to donations to be split evenly among five beneficiary non-profit organizations – SisterSong, Endometriosis Foundation of America, Center for Reproductive Rights, URGE and Trust Women.Tickets are on sale online at repromamafilm.org. Tickets are all pay-what-you-can ($5, $10 or $15) with a limited number of complimentary vouchers available upon request to ensure access for all. rePro Film Festival and festival sponsor mama.film founders Lela Meadow-Conner, Mallory Martin and Debby Samples join us to talk about the launch of their deep dive into the issues, challenges and stories that face 49% of the world’s population and the people who love them.
About MAMA.FILM – Through the power of cinema, mama.film (link), a 501c(3) non-profit organization, unites nurturers of all kinds to ignite conversation and to reflect upon our shared human experience. Founded in 2019, in a pop-up microcinema in a shipping container in Wichita, Kansas, mama.film has since been awarded expanded programming to Cleveland, and to a virtual platform. Film selections include stories and topics that amplify and explore the evolving realities of the human condition and that spark dialogue and reflection. mamafilm is committed to representing the realities and complexities of a diverse range of nurturers, across race, class, geography, sexual preference, ability and generation.An emphasis is placed on independent and foreign films that are grounded in authentic storytelling. mamafilm is committed to supporting the work of creators who are nurturers and caregivers. Initial support for rePRO by mama.film was generously provided by a grant from the George R. Tiller, M.D., Memorial Fund for the Advancement of Women’s Health at the Wichita Community Foundation. Follow @mamafilm1 on Instagram or Twitter for updates, or follow rePRO by mama.film on Facebook for more updates.
It is one of the most iconic images of our time: two African-American medal winners at the 1968 Olympics standing in silent protest with heads bowed and fists raised as “The Star Spangled Banner” is played. Fifty years later, that singular event remains deeply inspiring, controversial and even misunderstood as one of the most overtly political statement in the annals of sport. The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World is a revealing exploration into the circumstances that led runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos to that historic moment at the Mexico City Games, mining the great personal risks they took and the subsequent fallout they endured. Through intimate interviews with the participants and witnesses involved in that moment, along with compelling images and archive, the film explores the 1968 Olympics human rights stand in the context of a critically important and volatile time for the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. While The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World documents this lasting moment in American history, The Stand also remains faithful to what was, for athletes and millions of Olympic fans around the world, a riveting 200-meter footrace between the fastest runners of the day, young people in their athletic prime striving to be the best on one October day in Mexico City. The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World also features high jumper Ralph Boston, sprinter Mel Pender, crew member Paul Hoffman, silver medalist Peter Norman and Professor Harry Edwards. Filmmakers Tom Ratcliffe and Becky Paige (Bannister: Everest on the Track) join us to talk about the story behind a legendary act that echoes to this day.
SPINSTER drops us into the life of Gaby (Chelsea Peretti). Gaby wants desperately to find real love. Recently dumped and on the brink of forty, she feels she doesn’t matter to anyone. Her best friend is pre-occupied with her kids, her family doesn’t get her, and running her own catering business, mostly weddings, serves as a constant reminder of the love that has eluded her. Gaby’s greatest fear, that she’ll end up a lonely and pathetic spinster, seems to be her destiny. After a frenzy of dating leaves her exhausted and demoralized, she admits she might never find love and must create a Plan B. Gaby begins to build a meaningful and connected life. But when a chance romantic encounter with Mr. Right threatens to uproot her, she realizes the value of her life, even if it doesn’t involve romance. Written by Jennifer Deyell and anchored by a beautifully nuanced performance from Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), SPINSTER Director Andrea Dorfman joins us to talk about her witty, beguiling comedy about being honest with oneself and embracing life.
SPINSTER will released August 7 through Vertical Entertainment on VOD and Digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Fandango Now and all major cable/satellite platforms.
About the filmmaker: Andrea Dorfman is a filmmaker, animator and artist. She directed the feature films Parsley Days (2000), a TIFF top ten film, the critically acclaimed Love That Boy (2003) featuring a young Ellen Page, the musical drama, Heartbeat (2014), and the soon-to-be released comedy, Spinster, starring Chelsea Peretti. The short film, There’s A Flower in my Pedal (2005), was runner up to Best Short at TIFF and her documentary, Sluts (2006), won Best Documentary at the Atlantic Film Festival. Dorfman also made several animated films including two with the National Film Board of Canada – the Emmy nominated, Flawed (2010) and Big Mouth (2012). She recently shot and directed the feature doc, also produced by the NFB, The Girls of Meru (2018) and it’s currently screening at film festivals around the world. Her short live action-animation video collaboration with poet-musician, Tanya Davis, How to Be Alone (2010), has garnered over 8 million YouTube hits and was adapted to a book, illustrated by Dorfman and published by HarperCollins. She also adapted and illustrated Flawed, released as a YA graphic memoir by Firefly Canada in 2018. Dorfman occasionally teaches at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and was the co-creator of Blowhard, a thematic storytelling series that ran for 7 years in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
From the team that directed the jaw-dropping, award winning documentary on the life and mayoral campaign of former congressman Anthony Wiener (Weiner)comes THE FIGHT. Only days after the 2017 inauguration of Donald Trump, furious Americans gathered at airports across the country in protest of the Muslim ban. But it was the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union, waging the fight in federal court, that turned the tide, staying the executive order on grounds of unconstitutionality. The ACLU has never granted access to its offices, even as its battles—on the fronts of abortion rights, immigration rights, LGBT rights and voting rights —have become more timely and momentous than ever. Rousing, inspiring and slyly humorous, their THE FIGHT follows four seismically important cases and a handful of magnetic attorneys. These lawyers may not know how to charge a cell phone or operate a stand-up desk but have persuaded Supreme Court Justices, beating back serious encroachments upon our freedoms. An antidote to endless news cycles filled with tweet tantrums, THE FIGHT inspires with the story of front-line warriors in the battle for the American soul. Co-director Eli Despres (Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman) joins us to talk about this entertaining, fast-paced, and highly engaging peek behind the curtain of the self-effacing attorneys and their support team as they scramble to maintain and bolster many of the most substantive constitutional protections under constant assault.
Set in Oakland, a city with a deep history of social justice movements, WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS documents the Radical Monarchs – an alternative to the Scout movement for girls of color, aged 8-13. Its members earn badges for completing units on social justice including being an LGBTQ ally, the environment, and disability justice. The group was started by two, fierce, queer women of color, Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest as a way to address and center her daughter’s experience as a young brown girl. Their work is anchored in the belief that adolescent girls of color need dedicated spaces and that the foundation for this innovative work must also be rooted in fierce inter-dependent sisterhood, self-love, and hope. WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS follows the first troop of Radical Monarchs for over three years, until they graduate, and documents the Co-founders struggle to respond to the needs of communities across the US and grow the organization after the viral explosion of interest in the troop’s mission to create and inspire a new generation of social justice activists. Director / Producer Linda Goldstein Knowlton (Somewhere Between, Dream,Girl, Whale Rider, The Shipping News) joins us to talk about the positive role-modeling, the sense of community connection and empowerment that the Radical Monarchs has brought into the lives of these young women of color.
About the filmmaker Linda Goldstein Knowlton (Producer/Director) is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, working in documentary and scripted feature films, as well as television. In 2016, she Executive Produced the documentary DREAM,GIRL, which premiered at The White House. The film showcases the stories of inspiring and ambitious female entrepreneurs. Goldstein Knowlton directed and produced one of the six, Emmy-nominated documentaries for the PBS MAKERS: Women Who Make America series. The film, WOMEN AND HOLLYWOOD, aired in October, 2014 and includes interviews with Jane Fonda, Shonda Rhimes, Lena Dunham, Ava Duvernay, Glenn Close, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Alfre Woodard, Hunger Games producer Nina Jacobson, among many other notable women. Prior to that, she produced CODE BLACK, Best Documentary winner at LA Film Festival and the Hamptons International Film Festival, and the basis for the CBS one-hour drama of the same name. Previously she directed and produced SOMEWHERE BETWEEN, which won the Sundance Channel Audience Award at the Hot Docs Film Festival, and was released theatrically in over 80 cities across the US. For her directorial debut, she co-directed THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET, which debuted at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival in competition and aired nationally on PBS. Linda started her career producing feature films, including the award-winning WHALE RIDER and THE SHIPPING NEWS.
Winner of the first-ever Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, Elizabeth Coffman and Mark Bosco’s documentary FLANNERY is the lyrical, intimate exploration of the life and work of author Flannery O’Connor, whose distinctive style influenced a generation of artists. A devout Catholic who collected peacocks and walked with crutches (due to a diagnosis of lupus that would take her life before the age of 40), O’Connor’s provocative, award-winning fiction about Southern prophets, girls with wooden legs, and intersex “freaks” was unlike anything published before (or since). Over the course of her short-lived but prolific writing career (two novels, 32 short stories and numerous essays and lectures), O’Connor never shied away from examining timely themes of racism, religion, socio-economic disparity, and more with her characteristic wit and irony. Including conversations with those who knew her and those inspired by her (Mary Karr, Hilton Als, Tommy Lee Jones, Lucinda Williams, and more), FLANNERY employs never-before-seen archival footage, newly discovered personal letters and her own published words (read by Mary Steenburgen) alongside original animations and music to examine the life and legacy of an American literary icon. Co-director Elizabeth Coffman and Mark Bosco join us to talk about the life and work of a writer and cartoonist who’s trenchant worldview and powers of observation provided her stories with a window into the soul of subjects that resonates to this day.
For news, screenings and updates go to: flanneryfilm.com
*Flannery O’Connor was recently the subject of a provocative article by Paul Elie in The New Yorker, in which he quotes personal letters, and other writings, to question her attitudes on race. This is certainly a contentious and timely issue. We also note that earlier this month, The New York Times critic Wesley Morris named her 1965 short story, “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” as an example of “Art That Confronts and Challenges Racism.”
The Modern Consciousness: A FLANNERY Discussion Series, a four-part weekly series of virtual panel discussions on O’Connor’s legacy, will be presented concurrent with the run, with a new discussion every Monday from July 20 – August 10. Each part will cover a different topic (race, faith, disability, and craft). More details TBA.
“‘Flannery’ is an extraordinary documentary that allows us to follow the creative process of one of our country’s greatest writers.” — Ken Burns, Oscar-nominated Documentarian
“A lively and insightful documentary that explores the troubled life and unblinking writing of Flannery O’Connor.” – Christopher Lloyd, The Film Yap
“Despite having a certain squareness that puts it slightly at odds with its subject, “Flannery” does succeed in its ultimate objective — after watching it, you will want to instantly get a hold of and read as much of Flannery O’Connor’s work as you can.” – Peter Sobczynski, eFilmCritic.com
In Director David Wnendt (Wetlands) beguiling new film, TheSunlit Night, summer is off to a terrible start for Frances (Jenny Slate). Her art school project fails, her boyfriend unceremoniously kicks her out of his Hamptons home, and, to top it all off, her younger sister reveals she’s engaged just moments before her parents announce their separation. Hoping to invigorate her work and expand her horizons Frances hastily takes an opening for an art residency in Norway and heads off to an isolated island where the sun never sets. In a remote village, among the locals,she meets a fellow New Yorker (Sharp), who has come in search of a proper Viking funeral only to find that the Chief (Galifianakis) is but a re-enactor from Cincinnati. The eclectic crew ranges from “home” to “lost,” within the extreme and dazzling landscape of the Far North. Under a sun that never quite sets, and the high standards of an unforgiving mentor, Frances must navigate between ambition, desire, obligation, and risk in order to find a way forward. Author and screenwriter Rebecca Dinerstein Knight joins us to talk her collaboration with actor / producer Jenny Slate and director David Wnendt and finding the right mixture of understated drama and absurdist spirit that informs this charming gem of a film.
About the filmmaker(s): “I wrote The Sunlit Night as a stranger in a foreign land: no Jewish New Yorkers had ever moved to the Norwegian Arctic for no reason before, so the locals told me, on the island I had come to share with them, 95 miles north of the Arctic Circle and floating in the Norwegian Sea. Without any Norwegian ancestry to justify my journey, I could only explain my sudden relocation to the Lofoten Islands as a search for beauty, an opportunity to test language against a supreme landscape. I wanted to write about rapture. In the story that resulted, and in our faithful film, the gruffness of ancient mountain rock meets the unpredictable softness of goat’s fur; cultures clash and form new harmonies. Living alone at the top of the planet drove me to ask what connection means. What makes a person feel at home in the world, and who is responsible for the warmth of a welcome? Can geography exert emotional force? How can a woman communicate herself in the absence of common language and custom? How does the practice of art transcend practical circumstances? This is a movie about stretching oneself over the abyss of the unknown and touching the other, quieter side. The blankness and newness that open up there carry the risk of incredible loneliness, and the promise of wild revelation.” Writer Rebecca Dinerstein Knight
Director David Wnendt made his mark at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival with Wetlands, adapted from the best-selling novel by Charlotte Roche. His next film, Look Who’s Back, grossed over $20 million and was released by Netflix. Wnendt’s debut film, Combat Girls, earned him the Bavarian Film Award for best young director and the Prix Genève Europe for best fiction script by a newcomer. Wnendt was one of Variety’s “10 Europeans to watch” for 2016.
Maggie Kiley is the Executive Producer and one of the series directors for the second season of USA Network’s high profile series, DIRTY JOHN: THE BETTY BRODERICK STORY. This season is special for the fact that all eight episodes were directed by women. Kiley directed four out of the eight episodes, including the season premiere and finale. DIRTY JOHN: THE BETTY BRODERICK STORY follows the tumultuous relationship of Betty and Dan Broderick, played by Amanda Peet and Christian Slater, as their marriage turns into what was called one of “America’s messiest divorces” even before it ended in double homicide. DIRTY JOHN: THE BETTY BRODERICK STORY follows a high society woman, mother of four, driven to the edge by her husband’s lies, manipulation, and psychological abuse, that slowly escalates as his extra-marital affair is revealed, a bitter divorce ensues, and blood is shed. This is a warts-and-all depiction of the extremes of erratic behavior provoked under pressure. The creative juggernaut known as Maggie Kiley takes time out of her very busy life to talk with us about her love for storytelling, mentoring other artists and working with her beloved actors.
About the filmmaker: Award-winning filmmaker Maggie Kiley, is an alumnae of AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, both a Fox and Film Independent Directing Fellow. She was recently as the first director chosen for Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative, which has led to gigs helming episodes of American Horror Story: Cult, Scream Queens, and 9-1-1. Her credits reflect her diversity, since she has made contributions to CW’s Katy Keene, Riverdale, Marvel’s The Gifted, Netflix’s What/If and Syfy’s George R. R. Martin’s Nighflyers, to name just a few. Kiley recently signed a major exclusive, multi-year overall deal at Warner Bros TV. Under the pact, she will render director and executive producer services for the studio, in addition to developing new TV projects for broadcast, cable and streaming services. She was the first woman in 30 years to have a TV deal at WBTV like this. Maggie Kiley began her career as an actor with the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York City before making the transition from acting to directing with her award winning short film, Some Boys Don’t Leave. The film stars Jesse Eisenberg and Eloise Mumford and played over 50 festivals, garnering top honors at Tribeca and Palm Springs. Kiley received the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant for her debut feature, Brightest Star which starred Chris Lowell and Allison Janney. Her second feature, Dial a Prayer, released in 2015 starred Brittany Snow and William H. Macy. Her third feature was a thriller with Anna Camp, titled Caught marking the last of three features films in three years.
In the shadows of the bright lights of Las Vegas, its last call for a beloved dive bar known as the Roaring 20s. That’s the premise, at least; the reality is as unreal as the world the regulars are escaping from. BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETSis a mosaic of disparate lives, teetering between dignity and debauchery, reckoning with the past as they face an uncertain future, and singing as their ship goes down. Filmmaking duo Bill and Turner Ross return with an elegiac portrait of a tiny world fading away but still warm and beating with the comfort of community. Their beguiling approach to nonfiction storytelling makes for a foggy memory of experience lost in empty shot glasses and puffs of smoke. Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross (45365, Tchoupitoulas, Western, Contemporary Color) join us for a lively conversation on the fiction and non-fiction filmmaking expectations, the logistical and post-production challenges of making this film and the cinematic inspirations that inform Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets.
Renting Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets includes Director Introduction, the Feature Film and Post-Film Q&A with Cast/Crew. Order for July 8th in celebration of National Dive Bar Day! 10% of rental proceeds and 100% of all ‘GIVE’ donations benefit the US Bar Guild Foundation’s Bartender Emergency Assistance Program COVID-19 Relief Fund.
About the filmmakers: Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross are an American filmmaking team whose credits include the award-winning films 45365 (2009), TCHOUPITOULAS (2012), WESTERN (2015), and CONTEMPORARY COLOR (2017). Born and raised in Sidney, Ohio, and both graduates of the Savannah College of Art and Design, Bill and Turner Ross began work in the film industry in Los Angeles, with Bill as an editor and filmmaking teacher, and Turner in art departments on studio features. But they soon decided to eschew the day jobs of Hollywood and continue the creative partnership they began as kids by making their own films. In the years since, their films have brought them renown as some of the most innovative and interesting documentary filmmakers working today, with a style all their own and always evolving — pushing the art of presenting uninhibited portraits of and journeys through places, with all the complicated, humanistic, and lyrical truth that that entails. Their work has been supported by the Sundance Institute, the Rooftop Filmmaker’s Fund, Cinereach, the San Francisco Film Society and a generous grant from the late Roger Ebert. They were honored as Ambassadors for the American Film Showcase and as Sundance Documentary Institute Fellows. They were named Decade Filmmakers by Cinema Eye Honors, and in 2018 they became members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences. When not making their own films, they collaborate with friends and fellow filmmakers such as Benh Zeitlin (BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, WENDY), David Lowery (AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS, A GHOST STORY), A.J. Schnack (CAUCUS), Robert Greene (BISBEE ’17), Raoul Peck (I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO), and David Byrne. They live and work in New Orleans. According to Metacritic, Bill and Turner Ross are the 6th best reviewed filmmakers of the 21st century. For more go to: rossbros.net