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.
“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 CrimminsHighDef 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 TuckerFilm 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 BartleyQBP Reviews
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.
Eric Kohnis 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.
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 Awardat 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.
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
A Netflix original documentary, Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalskitakes 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 Szukalski. The 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.
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.
“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
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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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.
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.
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 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 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.
“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
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.
“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
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
“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
There are 8,000 miles of roads and paths in New York City and for the past six years Matt Green has been walking them all – every street, park, cemetery, beach, and bridge. In the entertaining new documentary THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET we’re taken on a bird’s eye tour through the city’s five-boroughs. It’s a journey that stretches from the barbershops of the Bronx to the forests of Staten Island, from the Statue of Liberty to Times Square, with Matt amassing a surprisingly detailed knowledge of New York’s history and people along the way. Something of a modern-day Thoreau, Matt gave up his former engineering job, his apartment, and most of his possessions, sustaining his endeavor through couch-surfing, cat-sitting and a $15-per-day budget. He’s not sure exactly why he’s doing it, only knowing that there’s no other way he’d rather spend his days. Executive produced by Oscar® nominee Jesse Eisenberg, THE WORLD BEFORE YOUR FEET is a tribute to an endlessly fascinating city and the freedom to be found, wherever you live, in simply taking a walk. Jeremy Workman is known for such documentaries as Magical Universe (IFC Films),Who Is Henry Jaglom? (First Run Features), and the “One Track Mind” segment of True New York (First Run Features). Jeremy’s documentaries have played at such film festivals as SXSW, Tribeca, DocNYC, Hamptons, Slamdance, Melbourne, AFI, Woodstock, Big Sky Documentary, IFFBoston, among several others. Director Jeremy Workman stops by to talk about what motivates this urban John Muir’s curiosity about the most famous city in the world.
“Filmmaker Workman, who’s behind [Green] every step of the way without ever getting in the way, allows the city and its colorful denizens to take center stage.” = Michael Rechtschaffen, Los Angeles Times
“Short of walking with Green, a film is an ideal way to share in his knowledge. And after watching “The World Before Your Feet,” it’s difficult to look at the city the same way.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
“Jeremy Workman connects Matt Green’s foot journey to the real-time scale of New York City and to the soul of its citizens. This inspired documentary is perfect.” – Cole Smithey, ColeSmithey.com
“What Green ultimately does, as one interviewee describes it, is show us the “heart, soul, and pulse” of New York City.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
ASTRAL is the story of a son coming to terms with the explanation of his mother’s untimely death. Searching for answers, Alex turns to spiritual contact after the relationship with his father breaks down. As a student of metaphysics, Alex learns of the “scientific” premise of astral projection-the ability to project your spirit into an unseen spatial dimension. Attempting to astral project, Alex becomes plagued by shadow spirits-malevolent entities vying to enter his body to access our world. Alex soon learns that he is not the only member of his family to have been besieged by such beings, as his mother’s dark past is brought to his attention. ASTRAL was co-written by Chris and Michael Mul and is Chris Mul’s directorial debut. The film stars Frank Dillane (FEAR THE WALKING DEAD) and features a bright up-and-coming cast of young actors. Vertical Entertainment will release ASTRAL in a multi-city theatrical release with markets including LA and NY among others on November 23. The film will also be made available on digital platforms such as iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, Fandango Now, Direct TV, Dish Network and through local cable providers. Director and co-writer Chris Mul (Michael Mul) joins us to talk about shooting his slick and stylish psychological thriller on an insanely tight production schedule while trying to optimize the performances from talented cast of young actors.
Nora Sandigo is a fierce immigration activist who serves as the legal guardian for U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants who have been deported. Were it not for her, many would be forced into the foster care system, keeping them legally separated from their parents. THE GREAT MOTHER profiles this inspiring woman, who not only provides economic, legal and emotional support for her charges, but lobbies Congress for immigration reform despite an increasingly hostile political climate. Filmed over two years, and encompassing both the 2016 election and its aftermath, the film captures two of the most tumultuous years on record for immigrants. THE GREAT MOTHER is a personal look at immigration through the eyes of Nora Sandigo, legal guardian to over 1,000 US-born children of undocumented immigrants. Without Nora as their guardian, if the parents of these US-citizen children are deported, the kids will be sent to foster care. After three months, they can be adopted, ending any chance of a reunion. With Nora as the guardian, however, not only will the kids never enter foster care, but Nora will also battle to keep their parents from being deported.THE GREAT MOTHER captures the tension of the 2016 election and its aftermath, the film captures the most tumultuous years on record for immigrants in a deeply personal way. Co-director Dave LaMattina (Chad Walker) joins us to talk about the heartbreaking reality that immigrant refugees face and the collateral damage that comes with a broken immigration system
Located in mid-America, MONROVIA, INDIANA, (population 1,063) founded in 1834, is primarily a farming community. MONROVIA, INDIANA is about the day-to-day experiences living and working in Monrovia, with emphasis on community organizations and institutions, religion and daily life in this farming community. These towns were once the backbone of American life. While their number and populations have shrunk, the importance of rural America as a formative center of American politics and values was demonstrated in the 2016 presidential election.The film explores the conflicting stereotypes and illustrates how values like community service, duty, spiritual life, generosity and authenticity are formed, experienced and lived. MONROVIA, INDIANA gives a complex and nuanced view of daily life in Monrovia and provides some understanding of a rural, mid-American way of life that has always been important in America but whose influence and force have not always been recognized or understood in the big cities on the east and west coasts of America and in other countries.Since1967,FrederickWisemanhasdirected42documentaries — dramatic, narrative films that seek to portray ordinary humanexperience in a widevarietyofcontemporary socialinstitutions. His films include TITICUT FOLLIES, HIGHSCHOOL, WELFARE, JUVENILE COURT, BOXING GYM, LADANSE,BALLET, CENTRAL PARK, BALLET, LA COMEDIE FRANCAISE, BELFAST, MAINE, and EX LIBRIS – The New York Public Library. At the 2016 Academy Awards ceremony Frederick Wiseman received an Honorary Award (Governors Awards) for a lifetime of brilliant filmmaking. He joins us to talk about his latest cinematic treasure, Monrovia Indiana.
“He’s arguably the most brilliant, brave and innovative person working in his field.” – Terry Atkinson, Los Angeles Times
“Rigorously shot, impeccably edited and at times startling in their beauty, these films usher us into often otherwise anonymous spaces and lives, and help make the invisible visible.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times
“The result is surprisingly companionable and enjoyable, an unhurried look at a location that is in no kind of rush, a place that is concerned most of all with preserving the way it’s always been.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“Legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman turns his camera on a pro-gun, pro-God Midwestern town and gives us a landmark view of what it looks like to live in Trump’s America.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“A calmly analytical film in which-as ever in Wiseman’s work-extended discussions and public debates are developed with an absorbing dramatic power.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker
“The unavoidable political implications of “Monrovia, Indiana” give its observations an undeniable urgency.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times
I AM THE REVOLUTION is the inspiring documentary about three women fighting for freedom and gender equality – Selay Ghaffar, Rojda Felat, and Yanar Mohammed- while living in three of the worst countries in the world for women: Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. Each country reflects the groundswell of feminist revolutions: political revolution in Afghanistan, armed in Syria, and grassroots activism in Iraq. Taking a journalistic approach, the film challenges the images of veiled, silent, and timid women in the Middle East and instead shows the strength of women rising up on the front lines, in remote villages, and in city streets, to claim their voice and their rights. Director Benedetta Argentieri is an independent journalist and director based in New York and I AM THE REVOLUTION is her second film. Since 2014 she has been covering the Iraqi and Syrian war, with several trips on the ground. Her work as a journalist has appeared in publication that include including Reuters, The Sunday Times, Quartz, and Corriere della Sera. In 2016 she co-directed with Bruno Chiaravalloti and Claudio Jampaglia, “Our War”, a documentary about foreigners joining the Kurds in Syria to fight the Islamic State. In 2013 she co-produced “Capulcu-Voices from Gezi”, a documentary about the revolt that occurred in Gezi Park in Istanbul, Turkey, which won several awards including the Amnesty International award. Director Benedatta Argentieri to talk about her thrilling and enlighting look at three extraordinarily brave women and the people who support their groundbreaking movement.
Syrian-born filmmaker Talal Derki (Return to Homs) travels to his homeland where he gains the trust of a radical Islamist family, sharing their daily life for over two years. His camera focuses primarily on the children, providing an extremely rare insight into what it means to grow up with a father whose only dream is to establish an Islamic caliphate. Osama (13) and his brother Ayman (12) both love and admire their father and obey his words, but while Osama seems content to follow the path of Jihad, Ayman wants to go back to school. Of Fathers and Sons was shot between Summer 2014 and September 2016. During that time, Talal Derki and Director of Photography, Kahtan Hasson, spent about 300 days with Abu Osama’s family.Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for World Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, Of Fathers and Sons is a work of unparalleled access that captures the chilling moment when childhood dies and jihadism is born. Director Talal Derki joins us to talk about his own personal journey through a devastated country and a troubled society, looking for answers to desperate questions about the future of his country and the future of his own family’s need to flee into exile.
Winner – World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, 2018 Sundance Film Festival
Winner – Filmmaker Award, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Of Fathers and Sons succeeds in transporting us behind “enemy” lines for a rare glimpse of a world that seems exotic and threatening” – Screen Daily
“A chilling look at extremism on its home front.” – The Film Stage
“Merely being present to bear witness to this side of the Syrian border would make “Of Fathers and Sons” well worth watching, but Derki is so scrupulous in what he reveals about how ingrained the beliefs of the Islamic jihadis are.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Feast
“What makes the film all the more poignant is the fact that the children are, of course, despite all this, like kids anywhere else.” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film
“An admirably audacious feat of documentarian access, Of Fathers and Sons is of obvious topical and anthropological interest as a glimpse into the gradual radicalization of young males and the deep community ties which underpin the process.” – Neil Young, Hollywood Reporter
Long Island was the birthplace of American stock car racing. At its peak, there were over forty racetracks on Long Island, but today, only one remains: Riverhead Raceway. This quarter-mile track somehow managed to slip through the cracks as progress transformed Long Island from a stretch of sand with sleepy main streets and mom and pop farm stands, to a maze of highways connecting shopping malls to buy-in-bulk shopping centers.When it was built in 1949, the racetrack sat on the edge of a small country road surrounded on every side by miles of farmland. The land the track sits on is valued at well over ten million dollars, while the money that it generates in ticket sales on summer weekends is barely enough to keep the lights on. The fact that the Riverhead Raceway remains open defies the laws of capitalism, and the only thing standing in the way of the bulldozers are 87-year-old Barbara and Jim Cromarty. Barbara and Jim bought the track in 1977 and they continue to run it even as multi-million dollar offers roll in, tempting them toward a well-deserved retirement. Barbara and Jim fight to keep it open because they understand that Riverhead carries the burden of being the last bastion of stock car racing on Long Island, and when Riverhead goes, it’s all over. THE LAST RACE is a cinematic portrait of a Long Island stock car race track as its 87 year-old owners struggle to maintain an American racing tradition in the face of a real estate development boom. The film merges image and sound in a unique narrative form to bring the audience into the world of grassroots racing culture and explores a story that subtly grapples with questions of blue collar American identity that have taken on a profound relevance in the current political era. Director Michael Dweck talks about the community and the loss of a place where people have come to laugh, cheer and share in the ties that bind.
In Jeff Fry’s directorial debut KRIEG, an elite German SS mountain unit commits atrocities against their Partisan prisoners while attempting to locate a French Underground transmitter. Ashamed of his involvement, one of the unit’s officers, Konrad Winter, is compelled to leave camp and seek out the resister’s transmitter in order to prevent further crimes. During his search he discovers a downed American aircraft. In a redemptive twist of fate, Winter embarks on a mission to save the wounded American bombardier by delivering to the very enemy for whom they are searching. KRIEG is a richly textured film that follows the journey of a soldier whose remorse for inaction in the face of murder compels him to risk all to protect a wounded enemy airman. KRIEG is an anti-war film that challenges our conceptions of war and how the enemy behaves, blurring the boundaries between nations to teach us that wars are not fought on the battlefield, but in the hearts of men. KRIEG stars Heiko Obermoller (“A Cure For Wellness”), Scott Bailey (“Timeless”), Alexander Schottky (“Nikola”), Zoey Sidwell (“How To Get Away With Murder”), Alex DeVorak (”Night of the Dead: Leben Tod”), Rene Heger (“Circle”), Marko Janovic (“Then What Happened?”), Amanda Michaels (KRIEG), Sierra Willis (“Forerunner”), Chad Evans (KRIEG), Joshua M. Bott (“Loser’s Lounge”), John Gillen (“Surge of Power: The Revenge of the Sequel”), Matt O’Hare (“Wearing Hitler’s Pants”), Ken Collins (“Cape Fear”), and Alison Lees-Taylor (“Escape From Tomorrow”). With an unprecedented thirty-three awards and an additional thirty nominations, KRIEGcontinues its incredible film festival awards sweep. Director Jeff Fry joins us for an in-depth conversation on the blood, sweat and tears that went into his “American foreign film” as well as the personal satisfaction of working with a dedicated group of film professionals who made it all possible.
WELCOME TO THE MEN’S GROUP is an emotional roller-coaster through the often bumpy inner terrain of the male psyche, as we hear the men open about their lives, sharing truth, telling lies, and revealing secrets they dare not discuss in their lives. WELCOME TO THE MEN’S GROUP is largely inspired by the phenomenon of the “Men’s Movement” of the past 30 years that was championed by writers like the poet Robert Bly and his bestselling book “Iron John” which explored the need for men to reconnect to their authenticity through storytelling, myth and ritualized gathering. WELCOME TO THE MEN’S GROUP takes us inside the intimate dynamic of an all-male support group (Timothy Bottoms, Stephen Tobolowsky, Terence Rotolo, Mackenzie Astin, Joseph Culp, Ali Saam, Phil Abrams, and David Clennon) when they gather one morning for a ritual breakfast and their unique form of male bonding—One Sunday a month, these eight men refrain from beer and football to sit in a circle where they share their personal issues, in the noble hope of becoming a bit more evolved than their fathers. Award winning actor David Clennon (The Right Stuff, Being There, Syriana, Thirtysomething, Missing) joins us to talk about the male psyche, challenges and rewards of working within a strong ensemble cast and the legendary filmmaker Hal Ashby.
“The Hangover this is not. Instead, it explores men trying to support each other but ending up triggering each other, escalating tensions as more and more secrets are revealed until the startling, cathartic climax. Like The Big Chill, it’s ensemble acting at its finest, and like Sideways, it’s an insightful exploration of men’s issues that will appeal to both men and women. The story is complex, beautifully written, deftly filmed.” – New Times
“Welcome to the Men’s Group is full of surprises. It promised to be cutting-edge, but wow, Welcome to the Men’s Group was so much more than I had expected! It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. This is a film that changes the rules.” – Agenda Magazine
Lucha VaVOOM: Inside America’s Most Outrageous Show is the documentary that explores the fascinating cast of characters behind Lucha VaVOOM — an enthralling combination of high-octane Mexican wrestling, retro-style burlesque dancing, and witty commentary provided by Hollywood’s most celebrated comedians. Discover how this family of wildly creative and passionate performers from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, and gender orientations come together to create a unique shared experience. As the costumes, alter egos, and flamboyant performances are put on display, these masked marvels reveal their truest selves, offering up stories of perseverance, equality, and self-acceptance. Lucha VaVOOM: Inside America’s Most Outrageous Showtakes you onstage, backstage, and into the minds of the wrestlers, dancers, and producers who provide a show that is not only entertaining, but has the power to change people’s perspectives. Director Ben Churchill joins us totalk about capturing the on-stage energy of the performances and the bond between the performers and the audience.
Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) tells the provocative story of legendary director Orson Welles during the final 15 years of his life. No longer the “wonder boy” of Citizen Kane, Welles in 1970 was an artist in exile looking for his Hollywood comeback with a project called The Other Side of the Wind. For years, Welles worked on his project about an aging film director trying to finish his last great movie. Welles shot the picture guerrilla-style in chaotic circumstances with a devoted crew of young dreamers, all the while struggling with financiers and fate. In 1985, Welles died, leaving as his final testament the most famous unfinished film in movie history. The negative stayed in a vault for decades until now. With revelatory new insights from Welles collaborators including Peter Bogdanovich, Frank Marshall, Oja Kodar and daughter Beatrice Welles, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead is the untold final chapter of one of the greatest careers in film history: brilliant, innovative, defiant and unbowed. Director Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom, Won’t You Me My Neighbor, Cool School) joins us for a conversation about his hurly-burly look at the making of a ragged masterpiece by cinema’s greatest auteur.
“The impeccably assembled production employs Neville’s virtuoso touch to provocative effect.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“For cinephiles, it’s a high-calorie, clip-and-interview-laden feast of biography, insight, and gossip.” – Robert Abele, The Wrap
“Neville’s film may reveal little that hardcore Wellesians don’t already know. But it offers a lively evocation of the great man’s brilliance, waywardness and pained relationship to Hollywood history.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen International
“A fascinating account of an agonizing creative process.” – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter
“A cinephiles’ delight.” – Kimberly Myers, The Playlist