Visual Communications, the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, announced its outstanding program of films and events for the upcoming 34th edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) running MAY 3 – MAY 12, 2018. The all encompassing annual film celebration is presented across Los Angeles in West Hollywood, Downtown LA, Little Tokyo, Koreatown, and Hollywood. Visual Communications proudly celebrates the Film Festival’s 34 years as Southern California’s largest and most prestigious film festival of its kind. LAAPFF launches the celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month through this year’s slate of over 100 films from both Asian Pacific American and Asian international artists. For over three decades, the Festival has presented nearly 5,000 films by Asian Pacific American and Asian International talent. This year, 39 feature films and 79 shorts from the over 800 submissions will be showcased during the ten-day fest. The Festival opens with the Los Angeles premiere of Aneesh Chaganty’s feature debut SEARCHING starring John Cho and Debra Messing giving audiences an early chance to see the movie that took the NEXT audience award and the Alfred P. Sloan award at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Other programs include CENTERPIECE FILMS will feature two outstanding world premieres with IN THE LIFE OF MUSIC and FICTION & OTHER REALITIES. Centerpiece Films will be presented on Saturday, May 5th at the Aratani Theatre at the Japanese American Community and Cultural Center (JACCC) in Little Tokyo – Downtown Los Angeles. The CLOSING NIGHT FILM will be the Los Angeles premiere of the acclaimed 2018 Sundance World Documentary Special Jury Award winner MATANGI/ MAYA/ M.I.A., directed by Stephen Loveridge. Inspired by her roots, M.I.A. created a mashup, cut-and-paste identity that pulled from every corner of her journey; a sonic sketchbook that blended Tamil politics, art school punk, hip-hop beats and the voice of multicultural youth. Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival Co-Director David Magdael will join us to talk about this years’s exciting festival line up.
Centuries ago, many cultures believed the Earth was a flat disc. As scientific thought and technology evolved, the Earth was revealed to be a globe, a view that’s widely accepted today—but not by everyone. In Daniel J. Clarks feature documentary, Behind the Curve explores the internet fueled resurgence of the flat Earth movement. These conspiracy theorists deny the scientific model of the globe and join together through conventions, forums and online platforms to discuss their belief system. On the other end of the spectrum, the scientific community aims to counter this resurrected myth, resulting in an ever- growing public battle of conspiracies and anti-intellectualism. Giving a well-rounded look at all sides of the debate, Behind the Curve shows that no matter where you stand on this issue, the conversations and people around it are anything but flat. Director Daniel J. Clark joins is to talk about all of the various factions and personalities that make up flat-earth society and his film’s debut at the 2018 Hot Docs Film Festival.
“Unlike a few other films about people who hold questionable beliefs, Behind The Curve is a remarkably clear-eyed look at the Flat Earth movement, in which people around the globe (but mostly in America) labour to convince the rest of us that our planet is flat – more like a terrarium, really – but sinister forces have gone to elaborate lengths to keep it quiet.” – Norman Wilner, NOW
Warrior Women is the untold story of American Indian Movement activists who fought for civil rights in the 1970s, and the children who served as their inspiration and their cohorts. The film is anchored by one of the Red Power Movement’s most outspoken Lakota leaders, Madonna Thunder Hawk, and her daughter Marcy Gilbert. Together, they weathered some of the most turbulent battles for Native sovereignty in the modern era: Thunder Hawk as an activist and mother, Marcy as a teenager growing into a young woman while sharing her mother with a movement that was bigger than either of them. Thunder Hawk lived through a time when Natives were ashamed to be themselves and violently pressured to conform to white culture or punished for holding on to what little Native identity they had left. She did not want her children to live through a continuation of that history. Now, forty years later, Madonna is moving into the twilight of her life, fighting the inevitable slowing she dreads. She constantly worries aloud who she will “pass the torch” to. Warrior Women unveils not only the women’s perspective on history, but also real-life activism echoing far beyond news events into generations to come. Co-directors Elizabeth Castle and Christina D. King stop by to talk about the Native American struggle for human rights and social justice and the strong women who continue to fight for their homeland, values and people.
Made following the discovery of amateur footage shot in China in 1966 during the first and most radical stage of the Cultural Revolution, IN THE INTENSE NOW speaks to the fleeting nature of moments of great intensity. Scenes of China are set alongside archival images of the events of 1968 in France, Czechoslovakia, and, to a lesser extent, Brazil. In keeping with the tradition of the film-essay, they serve to investigate how the people who took part in those events continued onward after passions had cooled. The footage, all of it archival, not only reveals the state of mind of those filmed—joy, enchantment, fear, disappointment, dismay—but also sheds light on the relationship between a document and its political context. What can one say of Paris, Prague, Rio de Janeiro, or Beijing by looking at the images of the period? Why did each of these cities produce a specific sort of record? Narrated in first person, the film reflects on that which is revealed by four sets of images: footage of the French students’ uprising in May of 1968; the images captured by amateurs during the invasion of Czechoslovakia in August of the same year, when forces led by the Soviet Union put an end to the Prague Spring; shots of the funerals of students, workers, and police officers killed during the events of 1968 in the cities of Paris, Lyon, Prague, and Rio de Janeiro; and the scenes that a tourist—the director’s mother—filmed in China in 1966, the year of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Director João Moreira Salles joins us to talk about family, memories, politics, the immediacy of the moments that made up one of history’s most consequential years.
92% on Rotten Tomatoes!
”Find solace, enlightenment and surprise in João Moreira Salles’s ‘In the Intense Now,’ a bittersweet, ruminative documentary essay.” —A. O. Scott, The New York Times
“Melancholy, inspiring and evocative.” —J. Hoberman, The New York Review of Books
“One of the 10 best films of Berlin Film Festival! Remarkably resonant and personal.” —Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“Spellbinding! The [Chicago Film Festival’s] most ambitious documentary is a meditation on cameras in times of political spectacle.” —Bill Stamets, Chicago Sun-Times
“Recommended! A dazzling, true-world dreamscape; deeply personal even as the kaleidoscopic imagery bursts forth in grandiloquent poetry. Cataclysm awaits. So much history ahead. Such dense, ordered beauty behind.”—Ray Pride, Newcity Film
“A rich, immersive contemplation of the emotional battery life of revolutions, Brazilian filmmaker João Moreira Salles’ remarkable, deeply felt essay film ‘In the Intense Now’ examines 1968’s turbulence in four countries through the prism of what its amateur documentarians filmed.”—Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
Library Award and Best Soundtrack Award, 2017 Cinéma du Réel Film Festival
Best Documentary, 2017 Civil Society of Multimedia Authors (SCAM)
Panorama Selection, 2017 Berlinale Film Festival
U.S. Premiere, 2017 Chicago International Film Festival
Official Selection, 2017 It’s All True International Documentary Festival
A film within a film IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE CITY, Tamer El Said’s ambitious debut feature, tells the fictional story of a filmmaker from downtown Cairo played by Khalid Abdalla (The Kite Runner, United 93, Green Zone, The Square) as he struggles to capture the soul of a city on edge while facing loss in his own life. IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE CITY is a haunting yet lyric chronicle of recent years in the Arab world, where revolutions seemed to spark hope for change and yield further instability in one stroke. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Shot in Cairo, Beirut, Baghdad and Berlin during the two years before the outbreak of revolution in Egypt. Throughout, friends send footage and stories creating a powerful, multilayered meditation on togetherness, the tactile hold of cities, and the meaning of homeland. Shot in 2008 and completed in 2016, the film explores the weight of cinematic images as record and storytelling in an ongoing time of change. IN THE LAST DAYS OF THE CITY is a multi-layered stories are a visually rich exploration of friendship, loneliness and life in cities shaped by the shadows of war and adversity. Director, producer and writer Tamer El-Said joins us for a conversation on his remarkably accomplished film debut.
Caligari Film Prize at Berlinale
Critics Award for Best Arab Film in 2016, Arab Cinema Center
Grand Prix of New Horizons International Film Festival
Grand Prix of Festival des 3 Continents, Nantes
Best Film, San Francisco Arab Film Festival, USA, 2016
Best Director at Buenos Aires International Film festival (BAFICI)
82% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“Without doubt the most important event in Egyptian cinema, if not Arab cinema, in a very long time.” — Jean-Michel Frodon, Slate.com
“A melancholic love-hate poem to Cairo and the role of filmmakers in any city in pain.” —Jay Weissberg, Variety
“Majestic… a lionhearted elegy for the Egyptian capital, artistic heritage in the Arab world, inspired politics, and hope itself” —Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, Artforum
“Beautifully lensed and complexly edited in a dense patchwork of people, feelings and events” —Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter
When she was a young lawyer, Kholoud Al-Faqih walked into the office of Palestine’s Chief Justice and announced she wanted to join the bench. He laughed at her. But just a few years later, Kholoud became the first woman judge to be appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a (Islamic law) courts. THE JUDGE offers a unique portrait of Judge Kholoud—her brave journey as a lawyer, her tireless fight for justice for women, and her drop-in visits with clients, friends, and family. With unparalleled access to the courts, THE JUDGE presents an unfolding vérité legal drama, with rare insight into both Islamic law and gendered justice. In the process, the film illuminates some of the universal conflicts in the domestic life of Palestine—custody of children, divorce, abuse—while offering an unvarnished look at life for women and Shari’a. Director and producer Erika Cohn stops by to talk about her warm, moving portrait of a dedicated professional officer of the court determined to see that men and women receive the highest level of justice.
100% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“The documentary is an inspiration to women – not just in the Middle East – who are determined to rise to the top of their professions, despite the odds being stacked against them.” – Gayle MacDonald, Globe and Mail
“There are scandalously few female-empowerment documentaries about Arab women that also aim to counter Islamophobia, which is why Erika Cohn’s “The Judge” is a welcome addition.” – Jay Weissberg, Variety
“This skillfully conceived documentary focuses on a charismatic Muslim judge, a woman appointed to the Palestinian Shari’a court.” – Maria Garcia, Film Journal International
“The Judge is packed tight; it’s enlightening and suspenseful and paced for maximum enjoyment.” – Daphne Howland, Village Voice
In the piercingly straightforward documentary The Heart of Nuba we meet the only surgeon within 200 miles, Dr. Tom Catena does his best to save lives in the midst of carnage and terror, treating as many as 400 patients a day at Mother of Mercy Hospital, nestled in the heart of the Nuba Mountains. The region is the latest target of Omar al-Bashir, a man wanted by the International Criminal Court for committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. Surrounded by a country at war, living under the constant shadow of aerial bombardment, Dr. Tom Catena and his mostly local staff defy Bashir’s ban on humanitarian aid, and work tirelessly to serve the Nuba people. This population of one million Muslims, Christians, Animists and Africans of traditional belief have lived together harmoniously for centuries. Now, together with ‘Dr. Tom’, they struggle to survive. His patients come to him from hundreds of miles away on foot, in carts, or often cradled in their mother’s arms. Welcome to the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, an area of the world so void of humanitarian and media attention that years of war go ignored, and cries for help go largely unheard. Here, this lone American surgeon tends with equal compassion to patients ranging from malnutrition and leprosy, to grave wounds inflicted by the indiscriminate bombings ordered by their own president, Omar al-Bashir. When a government can attack defenseless men, women and children with supersonic bombers,and it doesn’t make anyone’s newswire, something is terribly awry. Dr. Tom’ and his staff defy Bashir’s ban on humanitarian aid, work tirelessly to save the lives of the Nuba people, and bring hope to one million people who would be otherwise forgotten. Director Kenneth Carlson joins us to talk about Dr. Tom’s selfless work, the people of the region and the impact that The Heart of Nuba is having on their plight.
100% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“Absorbingly, unfussily captures Catena’s daily challenges and feats while also painting a vivid, often heartbreaking portrait of a forgotten people trapped in an underreported sociopolitical nightmare.” – Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
“The film is worth seeing because it’s a moving and remarkable story and it represents a great cause.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times
“A most down-to-earth saint presented in the most refreshingly candid manner.” – Louis Project, counterpunch.org
“The only surgeon for hundreds of miles, Tom Catena earns $350 a month but given his dedication to the poor people in Sudan’s Nuba mountains, he should be nominated for sainthood.” – Harvey S, Karten, schockya.com
Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami is an electrifying journey through the public and private worlds of pop culture mega-icon Grace Jones. The documentary contrasts musical sequences with intimate personal footage, all the while brimming with Jones’s bold aesthetic. A larger-than-life entertainer, an androgynous glam-pop diva, an unpredictable media presence – Grace Jones is all these things and more. Sophie Fiennes’s documentary goes beyond the traditional music biography, offering a portrait as stylish and unconventional as its subject. Taking us home with her to Jamaica, into the studio with long-time collaborators Sly & Robbie, and backstage at gigs around the world, the film reveals Jones as lover, daughter, mother, and businesswoman. But the stage is the fixed point to which the film returns, with eye-popping performances of “Slave to the Rhythm,” “Pull Up to the Bumper,” “Love is the Drug,” and more. Jones herself has said watching the film “will be like seeing me almost naked” and, indeed, Fiennes’s treatment is every bit as definition-defying as its subject, untamed by either age or life itself. Director Sophie Fiennes (Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, Legend of Leigh Bowery) joins us to talk about the dynamic in-concert performances, her access to Grace and her startling candor concerning her public and private life and the critical recognition the film has garnered.
90% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Brilliantly and beautifully engaged in the present. A sparkling example of how to document our icons. Allows us to appreciate the reality of the artist in her most candid moments, in her own words, which is way more interesting than what we’d find in yet another standard biopic.” – Daisy Jones, VICE
“Pure energy, fierce, and empowering. If you want a rock-n- roll, sexy, feel good, empowering film, pull up to the theater in your most audacious outfit and get ready for the Grace Jones experience.” – The Huffington Post
“A celebration of art and life. Jones herself has promised the film ‘will be like seeing me almost naked.’” – Michael-Oliver Harding, Interview Magazine
“A sumptuous sensory treat.” – Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter
“A true testament to the power of style.” – Caitlin Agnew, The Globe and Mail
“The film feels as epic as the artist herself. A mix of concert doc and intimate verité, Fiennes has crafted a film that feels like Stop Making Sense via Frederick Wiseman. As an intimate look at Jones the film succeeds, as a powerful testament to her talent the film soars.” – Jason Gorber, BirthMoviesDeath
In Rachel Israel’s endearing feature debut Keep the Change, we meet aspiring filmmaker David (Brandon Polansky), mandated by a judge to attend a social program at the Jewish Community Center, who is sure of one thing: he doesn’t belong there. But when he’s assigned to visit the Brooklyn Bridge with the vivacious Sarah (Samantha Elisofon), sparks fly and his convictions are tested. Their budding relationship must weather Sarah’s romantic past, David’s judgmental mother (Jessica Walter), and their own pre-conceptions of what love is supposed to look like. Under the guise of an off-kilter New York romantic comedy, Keep the Change does something quite radical in offering a refreshingly honest portrait of a community seldom depicted on the big screen. Rarely has a romcom felt so deep and poignant. Thoroughly charming and quite funny, the film’s warmth and candor brings growth and transformation to the characters, and ultimately, to us. Director and writer Rachel Israel stops by to talk about her friendship with lead actor Brandon Polansky, making the short film version of Keep the Change as well as the personal and artistically rewarding process of making this beguiling film.
Best U.S. Narrative Feature – Tribeca Film Festival
Best New Narrative Director – Tribeca Film Festival
Special Mention, Nora Ephron Prize – Tribeca Film Festival
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“This gently humorous, fiercely honest indie film is a step forward in the quest for a move inclusive Hollywood, which seems to one of the themes of the cultural moment.” – Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic
’“Keep the Change” is not a seamlessly crafted movie, but it’s awfully tenderhearted and thoroughly disarming. It deserves to be widely seen.’ – Glenn Kenny, New York Times
“What distinguishes it are Israel’s empathetic characterizations – she’s known Polansky for 15 years – and the winning performances, not only by the leads but also by the supporting players” – Mark Jenkins, Washington Post
“Hilarious and warm, finding its own voice as Israel creates a special space for her cast to shine, preserving idiosyncrasies and timing to best reinforce the unusual atmosphere of pure personality on display.” – Brian Orndorf, blu-ray.com
“An ode to self-discovery and acceptance that’s as funny as it is sweet.” – Nick Schager, Variety
Presenting Michelle Pfeiffer in one of the most acclaimed performances of her storied career, Andrew Dosunmu’s WHERE IS KYRA? tells the story of Kyra Johnson, a middle-aged divorcee who moves into her elderly mother’s Brooklyn apartment while she looks for work and tries to get back on her feet. When her mother suddenly dies, Kyra is left without any support, both emotional and financial, and finds herself with very few options–none of them good. Despite a blossoming affair with a sympathetic neighbor (Kiefer Sutherland) with struggles of his own, Kyra can’t accept that her once-tidy life has fallen apart, and she resorts to increasingly desperate measures to hold onto what little she has left. Another unique and evocative portrait of life in contemporary New York City, WHERE IS KYRA? is Dosunmu’s follow-up to his award-winning feature, Mother of George, widely considered one of the best independent films of recent years. Re-teaming with writer Darci Picoult, cinematographer Bradford Young (Academy Award-nominated for Arrival, Selma), and composer Philip Young, Dosunmu brilliantly conveys the plight of a strong-willed, capable woman who nonetheless finds herself slipping through society’s cracks, and toppling from a stable, secure life to the very edge of ruin. Director Andrew Dosunmu joins us to talk about take on the “invisible” people living at the margins of our major urban centers, a collective loss of empathy, and the impact his photo-journalism work had on the making of this starkly beautiful film.
80% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“This woman may be lost to the world, but in Dosunmu’s quietly shattering vision, she is also unexpectedly, triumphantly found.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“It’s a performance of such nuance and vulnerability, so quietly catastrophic in communicating this woman’s accumulation of loss.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone
“Where Is Kyra? finally allows [Pfeiffer] to explore the darker, unvarnished side of her talent and gives her the opportunity to do perhaps the best work of her lengthy, eclectic career.” – Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com
“A shattering portrait of a luckless woman unable to pull out of the tailspin that is her life, “Where Is Kyra?” is a powerfully moody character study anchored by a remarkable performance from Michelle Pfeiffer.” – Tim Grierson, Screen International
“Rarely on film has the sheer debilitating exhaustion of poverty been so clearly conveyed.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice
I AM EVIDENCE exposes the alarming number of untested rape kits in the United States through a character–driven narrative, bringing much needed attention to the disturbing of how the criminal justice system has historically treated sexual assault survivors. Why is there a rape kit backlog? What can we do to fix the problem? This film explores these questions through survivors’ experiences as they trace the fates of their kits and re-engage in the criminal justice process. I AM EVIDENCE illuminates how the system has impeded justice while also highlighting those who are leading the charge to work through the backlog and pursue long-awaited justice in these cases. In this film, we seek to send a clear message to survivors that they matter, that we as a nation will do everything possible to bring them a path to healing and justice, and that their perpetrators will be held accountable for their crimes. Trish Adlesic (Co-director / Producer) and Geeta Gandbhir (Co-director / Supervising Editor) join us to talk about the institutional breakdown in American judicial system, putting an end to a scandalous epidemic of justice denied and working with I AM EVIDENCE producer Mariska Hargitay.
100% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“It’s full of fighting spirit and the conviction that society can do better.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“The film is intense, making for one of the sniffliest audiences in which I’ve ever been included, so viewer discretion is certainly advised. But with that kind of emotional power too comes the intellectual and statistical weight we need to enact change.” – Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine
“Most of all, Adlesic and Gandbhir’s cameras listen to their stories, and give them the attention they deserve. For once.” – Jason Bailey, Flavorwire
When a simple organ harvesting caper goes awry, a twist of fate unites three of society’s forgotten and ignored: EL MONSTRUO, a disgraced Mexican wrestler working as hired muscle for a local crime boss. CRYSTAL, a recovering addict desperate enough to arrange a black market kidney transplant to save her husband’s life. And RANDY, a loveable two-strike convict fresh out of prison, cursed with a full-face swastika tattoo and a best friend guilting him into some hair-brained kidnapping scheme. In LOWLIFE we follow the sordid lives of these small-time criminals collide, as they fight tooth and nail to save a pregnant woman from a certain, and surely gruesome, death. Director Ryan Prows joins for a lively conversation on his hard-charging, high-energy debut feature film.
91% on Rotten Tomatoes
“The result is a film that’s as brutal in its imagery as it is funny in its execution.” – Jared Mobarak, Film Stage
“A captivating feature debut despite some missteps, it flashes back to a time when every other filmmaking newcomer wanted to be Quentin Tarantino; surprisingly, it does not provoke the weary eye-rolling that greeted so many of those films.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
“A movie with the sole purpose of an adrenalin rush, designed to strap you to your seat, entertain you, and spit you back into reality, exhausted but satisfied.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
“Lowlife is such a wild ride that any cinema showing it might want to consider installing seat belts on their chairs. Every second is electrifying.” – Mike McGranahan, Aisle Seat
“Nicely calibrates a twisty course between straight crime melodrama and black comedy, one that has cult-following potential among adventurous genre fans.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
“Throughout its swirling stories, Lowlife does an impeccable job of teasing, pulling back, and delivering, whether it be violence, drama, or the intermittent moment of temporary joy.” – Scott Beggs, Nerdist
The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA) is a nonprofit organization devoted to a greater appreciation of Indian cinema and culture by showcasing films, supporting emerging filmmakers, and promoting the diverse perspectives of the Indian diaspora. Each year the festival features a rich mix of film programs designed to build and support the growing interest in the Indian entertainment industry. This includes programming that cultivates an audience for Indian films while supporting filmmakers of Indian descent in career development as they navigate the larger studio system in Hollywood. The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles, runs from Wednesday, April 11 – 15 at Regal Live in downtown Los Angeles, featuring programs that include One-on-One program where film industry professionals from major and independent production and distribution companies are invited to participate in meetings with the IFFLA filmmakers; and panel discussions with speakers from the film industry. We are joined by IFFLA’s Director of Programming Mike Dougherty to talk about the past, present and future of Indian cinema and the increasing acceptance among mainstream American film lovers.
King in the Wilderness chronicles the final chapters of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, revealing a conflicted leader who faced an onslaught of criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. While the Black Power movement saw his nonviolence as weakness, and President Lyndon B. Johnson saw his anti-Vietnam War speeches as irresponsible, Dr. King’s unyielding belief in peaceful protest became a testing point for a nation on the brink of chaos. Dr. King’s leadership during the bus boycotts, the sit-ins and the historic Selma to Montgomery marches is now legendary, but much of what happened afterward – during the last three years of his life – is rarely discussed. It’s a time when Dr. King said his dream “turned into a nightmare.” From the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 to his assassination in 1968, King remained unshakably committed to nonviolence in the face of an increasingly unstable country. The documentary debuted at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and is directed by Peter Kunhardt (HBO’s Emmy-winning Jim: The James Foley Story). Drawing on conversations with those who knew Dr. King well, including many fellow members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), King in the Wilderness reveals stirring new perspectives on Dr. King’s character, his radical doctrine of nonviolence and his internal philosophical struggles prior to his assassination in 1968. The documentary also features interviews with Andrew Young and Jesse Jackson, archival footage, behind-the-scenes video of Dr. King’s private moments, intimate archival photographs and phone conversations recorded by President Johnson, who were both ally and adversary in King’s fight for civil rights. Director Peter Kunhardt talks about his moving, insightful and illuminating film about an extraordinary human being.
100% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“It veers from the very public to the deeply personal, including heart-wrenching scenes of King’s father collapsing with grief over his son’s coffin.” – Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press
“The movie humanizes King, in occasionally startling ways.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“The film’s message remains timely, shaped by the voices and vivid recollections of King’s intimate associates in the struggle for equality.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
“Employs a simple and straightforward method to extraordinary effect.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
Guy Maddin and collaborators Galen and Evan Johnson made this ode to VERTIGO and the city of San Francisco for the closing night world premiere gala of the 2017 San Francisco International Film Festival. The iconoclastic Winnipeg-based filmmakers, working together since 2015’s THE FORBIDDEN ROOM, set themselves the challenge and constraint to remake VERTIGO, creating what they call a “parallel-universe version.” Using Bay Area-based footage from hundreds of sources—studio classics, ’50s noir, documentary and experimental films, and ’70s prime-time TV—and employing Maddin’s mastery of assemblage technique, seen in work like MY WINNIPEG and BRAND UPON THE BRAIN, the result exerts the inexorable pull of Hitchcock’s twisted tale of erotic obsession while paying tribute to the City by the Bay and the ways it looks and feels through the medium of cinema Composed by Jacob Garchik and performed by Kronos Quartet, the film’s score nods to Bernard Hermann’s classic VERTIGO music as it collides and converses with Maddin and Johnsons’ irreverent and loving footage to create a distinctive musical extravaganza. Through 12 features and many shorts, adventurous artist Guy Maddin exhibits the rare ability to simultaneously subvert and honor the craft of filmmaking. His credits include the Emmy Award-winning ballet film Dracula: Pages From A Virgin’s Diary (2002); The Saddest Music in the World (2003); My Winnepeg (2007) and US National Society of Film Critics Best Experimental Film Prize-winners Archangel (1990) and The Heart of the World (2000). Guy Maddin talks about the “City by the Bay,” scriptwriting, storytelling and his favorite film, Vertigo.
94% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“First and foremost, “The Green Fog” is a marvel of film scholarship that looks backward and forward from the Hitchcock masterpiece.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
“The Green Fog fairly closely follows the structure of Hitchcock’s film; achieving that in itself is some sort of accomplishment. However, it’s not so much an assemblage as it is a conjuring.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice
“The film is a brilliant exercise in meta-narrative, which raises questions galore about reality and representation, time and space, genre and gender, individual and urban identity, cinematic suture and casting. Mainly, though, it’s just very, very funny.” – Geoff Andrew, Sight and Sound
“The work of a sensibility as impish as it is scholarly, animated by a mischievous sense of the medium’s possibilities” – Justin Change, Los Angeles Times
“It demonstrates the act of creation as a perpetually reconstructive effort…” – Lawrence Garcia, Cinema Scope
We aren’t dying the way we used to. We have ventilators, dialysis machines, ICUs—technologies that can “fix” us and keep our bodies alive—which have radically changed how we make medical decisions. Defining Hope takes on the topic of dying in our death-denying culture, no matter how sick we get, there is always “hope.” The will to live is a powerful force, and eventually we will all have to make individual decisions when faced with very complex choices. Filmmaker Carolyn Jones spent four years interviewing and photographing nurses for the groundbreaking American Nurse book and film, and another year of research and interviews focused on what Dying in America looks like, all of which has led her to making this new film, the culmination of a journey, called Defining Hope. Defining Hope is a story about people weighing what matters most at the most fragile junctures in life, and the nurses who guide them. It’s a documentary that follows patients with life-threatening illness as they make choices about how they want to live, how much medical technology they can accept, what they hope for and how that hope evolves when life is threatened. It is optimistic and reminds us that we have choices in how we die. Defining Hope is critical and relevant right now, with our rapidly aging population and incalculable challenges in healthcare and end-of-life care. Director Carolyn Jones (American Nurse) joins us for a conversation on her empathetic, clear-eyed look at death and living.
WINNER – Best Premiere for Documentary Feature 2017 Heartland Film Festival
DEFINING HOPE DEBUTS ON PBS/PUBLIC TELEVISION STATIONS NATIONWIDE ON APRIL 1, 2018 VIA AMERICAN PUBLIC TELEVISION
“Shining a light on hospice and palliative care, approaches that are still considered alternative, Defining Hope builds a persuasive case for the ways they empower patients and their loved ones.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
A Suitable Girl follows three young women in India struggling to maintain their identities and follow their dreams amid intense pressure to get married. Ritu, Dipti and Amrita represent the new India. Educated, financially stable and raised with a mix of traditional and contemporary values in the urban cities of Mumbai and New Delhi, they have access to the world in ways their mothers did not. Yet their lives take a dramatic turn when the pressure to settle down and get married hits. Career aspirations become secondary to the pursuit of a husband, and the women struggle with the prospect of leaving their homes and families to become part of another. Documenting the arranged marriage and matchmaking process in vérité over four years, the film examines the women’s complex relationships with marriage, family and culture; the many nuanced ways society molds them into traditional roles; and a rarely-seen portrait of India’s urban middle class. Co-directors Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra join us for a conversation on the underlying changing social, economic and cultural dynamics influencing a generation young women growing up in modern India.
85% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“This is a film full of love, colour and warmth, and it takes a nuanced view of its subject, but the loneliness saturating some of the celebrations is palpable.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“Movingly chronicles its subjects’ emotional travails and the societal and family pressures they face.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
“A Suitable Girl proves a somber lament for a part of the world still clinging to its restrictive past, at great cost to (particularly) its female population.” – Nick Schager, Variety
“Regardless of your background, it’s impossible to not be moved by A Suitable Girl.” – Clay Cane, BET
Barbara Thorson (Madison Wolfe) is your new hero. A quick-witted, sharp- tongued middle-schooler who isn’t afraid of anything. As the only girl in school carrying an ancient Norse warhammer in her purse and killing giants for a living, why wouldn’t she be? I Kill Giants is the sweeping, bittersweet story of a young girl struggling to conquer monsters both real and imagined as her world crumbles at the feet of giants bigger than any one child can handle. Based on the best-selling graphic novel by Joe Kelly. I Kill Giants features terrific performances from Zoe Saldana and Imogen Poots. Academy Award winning director Anders Walter joins us to talk about his clever, creative and emotionally resonant feature film debut.
80% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“This intimate story about a troubled 12-year-old who’s on a mission to save her town is virtually tone perfect.” – Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times
“A sweetly imaginative, tenderly played coming of age drama.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
“The vivid cinematography, affecting performance by Wolfe, and lack of saccharine allow the film to resonate not only with the teen target demographic but older viewers as well.” – James Beradinelli, ReelReviews
“I Kill Giants is a dark piece of work for children, which is far from a bad thing.” – Ann Storm, Film Journal International
“Like its heroine, I Kill Giants isn’t afraid to tackle the darkness or rage of little girls, or their fear and pain.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
The Peacemaker is an intimate portrait of Padraig O’Malley, an international peacemaker who helps make peace for others but struggles to find it for himself. At the heart of the world’s seminal conflicts is an international peacemaker riddled with internal strife. Padraig O’Malley has made it his life’s work to bring leaders on both sides of the most explosive conflicts to the same table. His innovative behind the-scenes work has established Padraig as a publicly unrecognized but highly influential figure in conflict resolution. Yet, these dramatic undertakings serve as a sharp contrast to the man – an alcoholic bar owner who fails to manage the most basic of personal relationships. His solitary life hangs in a delicate balance, bound together by weekly AA meetings and relentless work. As age takes its toll, he begins to lose his only source of solace and the motivation behind his life’s work comes into question. The Peacemaker plunges us into the depths of the journey of a man utterly defined by conflict. The film takes us from Padraig’s isolated life in Cambridge, Massachusetts to some of the most dangerous crisis zones on Earth – from Northern Ireland to Kosovo, Nigeria to Iraq – as he works a peacemaking model based on his recovery from addiction. We meet Padraig in the third act of his life in a race against time to find some kind of salvation for both the world and himself. Director James Demo joins us to talk about his film and the conflicted man working to resolve turmoil internally and in the world.
• Jury Award Best Documentary – Cleveland International Film Festival
• Special Jury Award for Vision and Storytelling at the Florida Film Festival
• Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature at the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival
• Service Above Self Award – Chagrin Documentary Film Festival
92% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“The weight of the world is evident in O’Malley’s dour gaze, but it’s clear too, in Demo’s sensitive, piercing portrait, that the endless job he’s carved out for himself is his lifeblood, and its own kind of addiction.” – Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times
“The more we get to know him, the more his core motivation – is he an idealist or something else? – becomes the mystery of the film.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“An intense, intimate portrait of a visionary capable of sophisticated analysis, abrupt anger, self-deprecating wit, and profound insights – all while existing at considerable remove from his fellow man.” – Daphne Howland, Village Voice
“A deeply moving portrait of its truly admirable, complex subject.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter
“The movie is a fascinating portrait that is if anything too brief.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times
BEAUTY AND THE DOGS tells the harrowing story of Mariam, an attractive young Tunisian woman, starts off the evening in carefree spirits at a student party with her girlfriends, where she meets a handsome young man and goes for a walk with him on the beach in the moonlight. In the next scene, she is seen disheveled, running through the streets at night, flinching at every passing car, with her male companion trailing behind. She has been raped by police officers. But her harrowing ordeal has just begun, as she attempts to find help, report the crime, and seek justice, battling overwhelming obstacles to make those guilty accountable. Employing impressive cinematic techniques and anchored by a fiery tour-de-force performance from newcomer Mariam Al Ferjani, Beauty and the Dogs tells an urgent, unapologetic, and important story head-on. A rare film from a female Tunisian writer and director, Kaouther Ben Hania’s startling drama is a striking critique on a repressive society and a forcefully feminist rallying cry. Director and writer Kaouther Ben Hania stops by to talk about her moving portrait of a woman who slowly but surely comes to grips with her increasingly desperate situation.
71% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“Beauty and the Dogs plays like an actual, unending nightmare.”
“A crescendo of humiliation, anxiety and abuse, “Beauty and the Dogs” plays like a horror movie where every choice is a Catch-22 and every door a trap.” – Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times
“Her experience becomes an incendiary account of bureaucracy built to overwhelm, a complex commentary on political capital and how justice for one can be justice for all.” – Jared Mobarak, Film Stage
“It’s not an easy watch. But, with its feminist spin on the continued battle for basic legal rights following the 2011 ousting of Tunisia’s Ben Ali regime, it feels like an important one.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International
“A harrowing and necessary film in only nine shots.” – Boys van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter
On a quiet day in 1981, disciples of an obscenely wealthy religious guru named Bhagwan Rajneesh suddenly appear in the small, conservative Oregon town of Antelope, dressed in all red and with portraits of their leader hanging from their necks. This, of course, makes the townsfolk uneasy. The Rajneesh followers spend over $125 million to build Rajneeshpuram, a 64,000-acre utopia, complete with a hospital, schools, restaurants, a shopping mall, and their own airport. The spokesperson for the movement is Ma Anand Sheela, a fearless disciple whose belief in the principles of Rajneesh are only outweighed by her feisty spirit. In order to stack the results of county elections in their favor, the Rajneesh bus thousands of homeless people onto the ranch. When these new recruits are denied voting rights by the state, Rajneesh leaders surreptitiously infect local restaurants with salmonella, resulting in the largest biochemical terrorist attack on U.S. soil. And that’s only the beginning … Directors Maclain and Chapman Way, whose debut documentary, The Battered Bastards of Baseball, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, return with this riveting six-part docu-series that recounts the amazing true story of a fallen religious movement. They join us to talk about this amazing, riveting and unbelievable story.”To describe Wild Wild Country as jaw-dropping is to understate the number of times my mouth gaped while watching the series.”
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Wild Wild Country…is a true story that seems too strange to be real, but with the sure hands of directors Chapman and Maclain Way, who weave this together with a keen artistic skill, it manages to feel not only tangible, but it provokes sincere emotion.” – Kristy Strouse, FIlm Inquiry
“To describe Wild Wild Country as jaw-dropping is to understate the number of times my mouth gaped while watching the series.” – Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic
“Wild Wild Country couldn’t be more timely-even if the particulars of its story are crazily unique to itself.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast
“It’s a slice of partially forgotten history in which real life just keeps getting more and more outlandish and implausible.” – Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter
In the Land of Pomegranates is a suspenseful, multi-layered documentary about a group of young people who were born into a violent and insidious ongoing war. They are young Palestinians and Israelis invited to Germany to join a retreat called ‘Vacation From War’ where they live under the same roof and face each other every day. In these highly charged encounters they confront the entrenched myths and grievances that each side has for the other. As they try to gain insight into the seemingly irreconcilable narratives, the paradoxes and contradictions born of legend and history along with passionately held ideals and the daily fight for survival surface. Interwoven into this intense footage, adding context, the film also follows other embattled lives in the Occupied Territories and Israel: a mother and her four children living in the shadow of the wall abutting Gaza; an imprisoned Palestinian and the subsequent path he’s taken; an Israeli survivor of a suicide bombing; and a daring Palestinian mother whose son’s life is saved by an Israeli doctor. They are all caught in the duality of the pomegranate: will they embrace rebirth and each other’s humanity, or will they pull the pin on the grenade? We are joined by the Director Hava Kohav Beller (The Restless Conscience: Resistance to Hitler within Germany 1933-1945) for a conversation on what, if any, options may be available to break the cycle of violence and mistrust for people living in a place where hatred and retribution have been normalized.
“The state of affairs in the Middle East may actually be thornier than it seems from afar: that is the position this brave, intimate perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to take.” – MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Philosopher
“Amidst tense airings of grievances, context is set against beautiful images of the disputed homeland, archival footage, and personal testimonials of clashes and cooperation” – Nora Lee Mandel, Film-Forward
“Sobering. A tough and clear-eyed look at how things are, rather than how we want them to be.” – Ken Jaworowski, The New York Times
“Hava Kohav Beller’s beautifully shot documentary gives an urgent and very modern new face to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” – New York Magazine
Childhood friends Lily (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Amanda (Olivia Cooke) reconnect in suburban Connecticut after years of growing apart. Lily has turned into a polished, upper-class teenager, with a fancy boarding school on her transcript and a coveted internship on her resume; Amanda has developed a sharp wit and her own particular attitude, but all in the process of becoming a social outcast. Though they initially seem completely at odds, the pair bond over Lily’s contempt for her oppressive stepfather, Mark, and as their friendship grows, they begin to bring out one another’s most destructive tendencies. Their ambitions lead them to hire a local hustler, Tim, and take matters into their own hands to set their lives straight. From first-time writer-director Cory Finley comes a darkly comic psychological thriller exploring friendship, privilege and morality in a rarefied Connecticut setting of sprawling mansions, equestrian stables and elite private schools. Starring Olivia Cooke (Ready Player One, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl), Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch, Split) and Anton Yelchin (Green Room), in one of his final screen performances, Thoroughbreds takes its cues from classic film noir, locating a deadpan wickedness in the maneuvers of his dual protagonists Amanda and Lily. Director and writer Cory Finley joins us to talk about his his background as a playwright, adjusting to life on a film set and working with his stellar cast of young actors.
86% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“It’s a testament to the twisted brilliance of (Cory) Finley’s film that a scumbag drug dealer becomes its moral center.” – Rob Thomas, Capital Times
“Set in the opulent, WASP-y world of teen divas with killer instincts, Cory Finley’s deliciously depraved satire skewers an empathy drain that he sees as sadly emblematic of modern life.” – Peter Travis, Rolling Stone
“Remember the name Cory Finley.” – Peter DeBruge, Variety
“Thoroughbreds was written and directed by first-time filmmaker Cory Finley, and for other amateurs it’s a masterclass in squeezing everything you can out of a small budget.” – Andrew Lapin, NPR
“Thoroughbreds, in other words, has been made with diabolical craft and intelligence, the kind that marks director (Cory) Finley as a major new American talent.” – A.A. Dowd, AV Club
“One of the most assured and impressive American debut movies of the year.” – Oliver Lyttleton, The Playlist
With its upcoming premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes directed by Robert S. Bader tells the extraordinary story of a famous friendship played out before a captivated national audience Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes, directed by Robert S. Bader, shares the rich history of the Muhammed Ali and Dick Cavett’s relationship that spanned decades and late night TV. From his 1960’s Olympic Gold Medal win, the heavyweight championship against Sonny Liston in 1964, to joining the Nation of Islam, refusing induction into the United States Army, and his legendarily epic battles in the ring with Joe Frazier and George Foreman, Muhammad Ali remained a unique and powerful force of nature in our popular culture. More than any sports documentary, this unique film deeply delves into hotly contended political and social matters that remain equally as relevant today. Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes Director Robert S. Bader produced the acclaimed documentaries Dick Cavett’s Watergate and Dick Cavett’s Vietnam for PBS. He is the writer and producer of the Warner Bros. documentary The Dawn of Sound: How Movies Learned to Talk, and the author of Four of the Three Musketeers: The Marx Brothers on Stage. Legendary television host Dick Cavett joins us to talk about his 53-year relationship with “the greatest of all time,” Muhammad Ali.
Oh Lucy! follows Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima in an Independent Spirit Award-nominated performance), a single, emotionally unfulfilled woman, seemingly stuck with a drab, meaningless life in Tokyo. At least until she’s convinced by her niece, Mika to enroll in an unorthodox English class that requires her to wear a blonde wig and take on an American alter ego named “Lucy.” This new identity awakens something dormant in Setsuko, and she quickly develops romantic feelings for her American instructor, John (Josh Hartnett). When John suddenly disappears from class and Setsuko learns that he and her niece were secretly dating, Setsuko enlists the help of her sister, Ayako and the pair fly halfway across the world to the outskirts of Southern California in search of the runaway couple. In a brave new world of tattoo parlors and seedy motels, family ties and past lives are tested as Setsuko struggles to preserve the dream and promise of “Lucy.” Director Atsuko Hirayanagi (Spirit Award nominee for Best First Feature) joins us for a conversation on the challenges of making her multi-cultural comedy / drama and working with the film’s Executive Producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.
100% on Rotten Tomatoes!
“Within the confines of this cross-cultural shaggy-dog tale, Hirayanagi locates both a sharp vein of absurdist comedy and a bitter, melancholy undertow.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“Hirayanagi isn’t selling a packaged idea about what it means to be human; she does something trickier and more honest here, merely by tracing the ordinary absurdities and agonies of one woman’s life.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times
“Japanese filmmaker Atsuko Hirayanagi explores the transformative power of human connection in Oh Lucy!, a film which seems to play like a standard culture clash comedy but reveals itself to run significantly deeper.” – Nikki Baughan, Screen International
“Expanded from her award-winning short of the same title, Oh Lucy! betrays some rough edges in the transition, but Hirayanagi’s idiosyncratic touch marks her as a talent worth tracking.” – Andrew Barker, Variety