May 12, 2017 – Violet, Director and Writer Bas Devos

 

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In his first feature film Belgium-based director Bas Devos (We Know, Taurus) 15-year-old Jesse’s best friend, Jonas, is violently attacked at random during a routine trip to the mall. The attackers do not confront or acknowledge Jesse, and Jesse does not engage or pursue the attackers… he simply backs away. Why did this happen? Could Jesse have done more? Did he have an obligation? These are the questions posed by VIOLET, a carefully calibrated character study of the process of coping in the midst of senseless trauma. In the aftermath of Jonas shocking death Jesse has to face his family and friends from the BMX riders crew and explain the unexplainable – how he feels about it. Jesse’s parents and friends all seem to have their own (often destructive) reactions to the incident, but it’s the parents of the victim with whom he develops a strange connection. Shot partially on 8-perf 65mm film by acclaimed cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis (Bullhead, The Drop), Director and writer Bas Devos’ meticulously calculated debut is constructed like a series of lush photographs. In each of the film’s compositions we see a sophisticated mosaic of loss, the permanence of trauma, and the tumult of youth. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2014 Berlinale, VIOLET looks at Jesse’s inability to answer their questions gradually isolate Jesse and the growing grief prevents him from finding comfort. Director Bas Devos joins us for an thoughtful conversation on the power of cinema and the space in between exposition and observation.

For news and updates go to: neweuropefilms or alteredinnocence.net/violet

“It bores into the mourning process and its piquant combination of emotional numbness and sensory vulnerability, rigorously avoiding finding an easy way out of this quagmire.” – Christopher Gray, Slant Magazine

“Violet is deft and rigorous, oblique to the point of inscrutability.” – Calum Marsh, Village Voice

“Intensely stylized, highly original and utterly mesmerizing.” – Ronnie Scheib, Variety

“Beautifully shot images speak way louder than words in this Belgian drama about a teenager’s mourning process. If Gus Van Sant had grown up in Flanders (…) he might have directed something like Violet. The final image, an 8-minute sequence shot, is a wonder to behold and ends the film on a perfect and perfectly poetic note.” – Boyd van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter

May 12, 2017 – Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story, Director Daniel Raim

 

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In the new documentary Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story, Award-winning director Daniel Raim (The Man on Lincoln’s Nose, Something’s Gonna Live) brings to life a fascinating and moving account of the romantic and creative partnership of storyboard artist Harold Michelson and film researcher Lillian Michelson: two unsung heroes of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story spans the Golden Age of Hollywood through New Hollywood and beyond. It’s a portrait of a time, and an intimate chronicle of their epic journey of life, love, family, and making great movies. Harold and Lillian worked on hundreds of renowned films including The Ten Commandments, The Apartment, The Birds, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, The Graduate, Rosemary’s Baby, Fiddler On The Roof, Scarface, Full Metal Jacket and many more. Although the couple was responsible for some of Hollywood’s most iconic examples of visual storytelling, their contributions remain largely uncredited. Through an engaging mix of love letters, film clips and candid conversations with Harold and Lillian, Danny DeVito, Mel Brooks, Francis Ford Coppola and others, this deeply engaging documentary from Academy Award®-nominated director Daniel Raim (who first encountered Harold Michelson as a student at the AFI Conservatory in 1997), chronicles their remarkable marriage and extraordinary careers through six decades of movie-making history.  Harold and Lillian’s story humanizes Hollywood—an industry sustained by numerous hard-working cinema artisans; master craftsmen and craftswomen who give their lives, their genius and their hearts to the movies. Beyond Harold and Lillian’s contribution to cinema, their story can’t be told without weaving in their 60-year marriage—a creative, challenging, and profoundly loving partnership. Director Daniel Raim stops by for a conversation on his loving tribute to a beguiling pair of artists, partners and lovers.

For news and updates go to: Harold and Lilian: A Hollywood Love Story

**100% on RottenTomatoes

Truly charming…A terrifically moving human story!” – Glenn Kenny, Vanity Fair

“CRITICS’ PICK! Charming… Like flipping through misplaced leaves in a photo book, the documentary maintains a free-flowing tone as it uncovers the work that went into creating some of the indelible scenes in Hollywood history.” – Monica Castillo, The New York Times

“For an hour and a half, this charming little movie, with its chatty talking heads and its sweet-natured subjects, offers a glimpse into the lives of two fascinating people whom I had never heard of, and who shared an unlikely life filled with achievements and setbacks, wonder and pain.” – Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice

“One of the very best documentaries ever made about movies…I have rarely seen any movie, fact or fiction, that was quite so suffused with love—movie love and human love—as this one.” – David Noh, Film Journal

“An awesome film… funny, heartbreaking, and packed with delicious film lore.” – Ken Kwapis, Director of The Office

May 5, 2017 – Bang!, The Bert Berns Story, Co-director Brett Berns

 

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You may have never heard of Bert Berns, but you know the enduring songs he’s written and produced: Twist & Shout, Cry to Me, Tell Him, Piece of My Heart, Cry Baby, Hang On Sloopy, I Want Candy, Everybody Needs Somebody to Love – Berns’ career IS Rock and Roll. Berns sessions made legends of Solomon Burke, The Isley Brothers, The Drifters, Ben E. King, and Wilson Pickett. He helped launch the careers of Van Morrison and Neil Diamond and produced some of the greatest soul music ever made. Filmmaker and son of Bert, Brett Berns, brings his late father’s story to the screen through interviews with those who knew him best and rare performance footage. Included in the film are interviews with Ronald Isley, Ben E. King, Solomon Burke, Van Morrison, Keith Richards and Paul McCartney. Narrated by E Street Band guitarist Stevie Van Zandt, about the life and career of Bert Berns, the most important songwriter and record producer from the sixties that you never heard of. His premature death at 38 cut short a seven-year streak of hits, rooted in his early Brill Building and 1650 Broadway days, through his tenure at Atlantic Records to the formation and success of his own labels Bang Records and Shout Records. First-time director Brett Berns joins us to talk about a father he never knew and his amazing musical legacy.

For news and updates go to: bangthebertbernsstory.com

facebook.com/bangthebertbernsstory

“[The] impressive lineup of interview subjects properly tells the story of a man whose contributions to popular music have been largely unheralded.” Noel Murray, LA Times

“It has a ton of heart and a bevy of interesting interviewees who paint a clear and coherent picture of who Bert Berns was inside and outside of the music biz… It’s a must see for any fan, new or old.” Anthony Ray Bench, Film Threat

“If you love the music Berns made, you’ll love this movie; if you don’t, I feel for you, but “Bang!” might nevertheless entertain with its dish.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times

May 5, 2017 – Tomorrow Ever After, Director / Writer Ela Thier

 

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In Tomorrow Ever After Shaina is an historian who lives 600 years in the future. War, poverty, pollution, greed, exploitation, depression, loneliness: these are things that she’s read about in history books. And while she studied this dark period of history, in which money was viewed as more important than people, she has never, in the flesh, seen humans hurting other humans. Until now. While visiting a group of physicists who experiment with time travel, Shaina is accidentally stranded in the year 2015. Here she involves herself with a group of friends who are as lovable as they are flawed. As the harsh realities of their lives unfold, she learns what no history book could have taught her. Old habits, however, are hard to break, and Shaina can’t help but assume that everyone around her is honest, generous, and caring, as she works to recruit the help that she needs to get back home. While most futuristic films depict a dystopia that is even colder and more mechanical than our own, this film takes a bold departure from the sci-fi genre by exploring the possibility of a future in which caring and compassion govern our societies. What if the future of humanity and the planet turns out exactly as we would want it to be? Director and writer Ela Thier joins us for a conversation on her sweet, insightful and humorous rumination on the past, present and hopeful future 

For news and updates go to: tomorroweveraftermovie.com  

“Built around Thier’s dignity and gentle humor… she emanates charismatic warmth and seems genuinely engaged with the film’s theme of compassion in an era of despair.” – Chris Packham, The Village Voice

“Held up brilliantly its premise …Played with touching insight and natural beauty …[Thier] provided me with a new sense of wonder for my fellow humans.” – E. Nina Roth, Huffington Post

“Simultaneously funny and tear-jerking” – Allison Tate, The Advocate

“It is a rare film that insinuates itself so gently into your consciousness, and then opens up like a stealth bomb inside your mind and heart.” Dorothy Woodend, Alliance of Women Film Journalist

**2016 Fort Lauderdale international Film Festival – Winner Best American Indie**

**2016 Moondance International Film Festival – Winner Best Feature Film and the Audience Choice Award**

**2016 Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival – Winner Best Director**

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City, Director Matt Tyrnauer

 

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Citizen Jane: Battle for the City is a story about our global urban future, in which nearly three-fourths of the world’s population will live in cities by the end of this century. It’s also a story about America’s recent urban past, in which bureaucratic, “top down” approaches to building cities have dramatically clashed with grassroots, “bottom up” approaches. The film brings us back mid-century, on the eve of the battles for the heart and soul of American cities, about to be routed by cataclysmically destructive Urban Renewal and highway projects. The film details the revolutionary thinking of Jane Jacobs, and the origins of her magisterial 1961 treatise The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in which she singlehandedly undercuts her era’s orthodox model of city planning, exemplified by the massive Urban Renewal projects of New York’s “Master Builder,” Robert Moses. Jacobs and Moses figure centrally in our story as archetypes of the “bottom up” and the “top down” vision for cities. They also figure as two larger-than-life personalities: Jacobs—a journalist with provincial origins, no formal training in city planning, and scarce institutional authority—seems at first glance to share little in common with Robert Moses, the upper class, high prince of government and urban theory fully ensconced in New York’s halls of power and privilege. Citizen Jane: Battle for the City gives audiences a front row seat to this battle, and shows how two opposing visions of urban greatness continue to ripple across the world stage. In perilous times for the city and for civil rights, Citizen Jane offers a playbook, courtesy of Jane Jacobs, for organizing communities and speaking the truth to entrenched and seemingly insurmountable powers. Director Matt Tyrnauer joins us to talk about a citizen activist whose vision and principals resonate to this day.

For news and updates go to: Citizen Jane: Battle for the City

Citizen Jane at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles starting April 28th

“In a spritely edited feature, Tyrnauer pushes his audience to make the connection between the turbulent growth spurts of the 1950s and 1960s with today’s political aspirations.” – Flias Savada

“Jacobs argued that what looks to officialdom like disorder is actually what makes a crowded human landscape function – it’s just a more complex order. This compelling documentary lets you see the beauty she found in that complexity.” – Bob Mondello, NPR

“It’s a story that needs periodic retelling, and Mr. Tyrnauer has heightened the human drama by focusing on Jacobs, an improbable David to Moses’s Goliath.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

“A fascinating documentary captures the showdown, half a century ago, between the activist Jane Jacobs and the Trumpian urban planner Robert Moses: a fight for the future of New York.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

One Week and 1 Day, Director Asaph Polonsky

 

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In the Jewish religion, a week of sitting Shiva (or mourning the deceased) is called for after a funeral. However, for Eyal and Vicky, a week is hardly enough time to properly mourn the loss of their 25-year-old son Ronnie. A married couple edging into the back half of middle age, the two find themselves reacting to the end of Shiva in markedly different ways.  A return to routine seems to be in order for Vicky, a teacher, as she finds herself back at school trying to abruptly kick out the substitute assigned in her stead. Meanwhile, shopkeeper Eyal opts for a total abdication of routine, as he steals his dead son’s bag of medical marijuana, and proceeds to get high, play ping-pong and judge air guitar routines with his neighbor’s stoner son Zooler. As the world refuses to accommodate Vicky and Eyal’s sensitivities during their time of bereavement — taxi drivers are still difficult, neighbors are still obnoxious, and grave diggers are just as indifferent as anyone else in the service industry — the two grieving parents find themselves acting out in outlandish ways as they attempt to regain a sense of control over their lives. Asaph Polonsky’s debut feature ONE WEEK AND A DAY juxtaposes the grieving process against the immutable fact that, despite the most painful losses imaginable, the world stops for no one’s mourning. With endearing performances from Shai Avivi and Evgenia Dodina as Eyal and Vicky, and Tomer Kapon as Zooler, ONE WEEK AND A DAY provides a nuanced perspective on loss that’s as funny as it is insightful. Director Asaph Polonsky joins us to talk about his thoughtful and nuanced film of loss, grieve and resilience.

For news and updates go to: oneweekandaday.oscilloscope.net

“Tears of laughter and tears of grief are both in abundant supply in Asaph Polonsky’s uproariously funny and heart-wrenchingly moving ONE WEEK AND A DAY.” – Ben Croll, THE WRAP

“A sweet and subdued look at the absurdity of life after death.” – David Ehrlich, INDIEWIRE

“The strength of Asaph Polonskys debut feature is that it’s actually a bittersweet comedy-drama in which the pain is as real as the frequent chuckles.” – Boyd van Hoeij, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER 

“Asaph Polonsky’s moving, deceptively simple film ONE WEEK AND A DAY looks at that supremely difficult day after the shiva ends.”Hannah Brown, – THE JERUSALEM POST

“Polonsky resists easy sentimentalisation…the moments of stillness have real potency.”Wendy Ide, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL

Karl Marx City, Co-directors Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker

 

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In this chilling, intimate and evocative documentary, KARL MARX CITY filmmaker Petra Epperlein returns to the proletarian Oz of her childhood, twenty-five years after the collapse of the German Democratic Republic (GDR), to find the truth about her late father’s suicide and his rumored Stasi past. The Stasi, the GDR’s Ministry for State Security, was the “shield and sword” of a ruling party that was well aware of the illegitimate nature of its power. This was, after all, a country living on one side of a wall erected—officially—not to keep the people in, but to keep the fascists out. Under the guise of combating reactionary forces, the apparatus implemented a policy of total surveillance. Much like her GDR hometown, Karl Marx City, which was redacted from public memory after German reunification, Petra Epperlein’s father erased himself. Right after the new year in 1999, he cleaned his car, burned all of his photographs and letters, and then took his own life near the house where she was raised. Had he been an informant for the secret police? Was her childhood an elaborate fiction? As she looks for answers in the Stasi’s extensive archives, she pulls back the curtain of her own ostalgia and enters the parallel world of the security state, seeing her former life through the lens of the oppressor. KARL MARX CITY Reconstructs everyday GDR life through declassified Stasi surveillance footage, the past plays like dystopian science fiction, providing a chilling backdrop to interrogate the apparatus of control and the meaning of truth in a society where every action and thought was suspect. Co-directors Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker (Gunner Palace, The Prisoner Or How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair) join us for a conversation on going home, what it means to live in a surveillance state and facing down a complex crosscurrent of family history. 

For news and updates go to: karlmarxcity.com

“… a shrewd personal inquiry into the mass psychology of fear and oppression … a film that ingeniously subverts the weaponry of Cold War-era surveillance, employing the tools of the Stasi’s intelligence-gathering operation toward a far more principled end. Whereas the secret police sought to root out and destroy even the slightest hint of subversive activity among a terrified populace, Epperlein and Tucker sift through these illicit materials — and forge their own fresh images and interviews — with an eye toward illuminating the truth and possibly even vindicating the innocent. … Shot in evocative black and white, Karl Marx City is a sleek, absorbing detective story, a fascinating primer on mass surveillance in the pre-Snowden era, and a roving memoir of East German life.” – Justin Chang, LA Times 

New York Times Critic’s Pick: “… a smart, highly personal addition to the growing syllabus of distressingly relevant cautionary political tales. … The mystery of her (Epperlein’s) father’s life and death provides Karl Marx City with suspense, and with a concrete sense of profound moral and emotional stakes. Repressive regimes excel at creating ambiguity, at making complicity easier than resistance and at blurring the lines between heroes and villains. Ms. Epperlein and Mr. Tucker, shooting in black and white and making judicious use of historical footage, brilliantly evoke a landscape of gray areas. They also uncover glimmers of decency, loyalty and solidarity — the tiny cracks in the totalitarian edifice that foretold its eventual and inevitable collapse.” – A.O.Scott, The New York Times

“[A] must-see… An essayistic, quietly moving look at another lost world… The movie draws you in quickly with its intelligence, its restrained emotions and its jaw-dropping period material, which includes some wildly creepy Stasi surveillance imagery.” – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

Finding Oscar, Director Ryan Suffern

 

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FINDING OSCAR is the feature-length documentary about the search for justice in the case of the Dos Erres massacre in Guatemala in 1982. That search leads to the trail of two little boys, Oscar and Ramiro, who were abducted during the slaughter and raised by some of the very soldiers who had murdered their families. These boys offer the only living evidence that ties the Guatemalan government to the massacre. FINDING OSCAR follows the men and women who have spent nearly two decades looking for answers—from the human-rights worker who first heard the story to the forensic anthropologists trying to identify victims and contact families. The film profiles the young Guatemalan prosecutor who took on her own government, and the U.S. immigration agents who began rounding up war criminals found living in the States. In a country built on impunity, it will take this dedicated team to find justice more than thirty years later, and uncover a truth more significant than anyone could have imagined. Filmmaker Ryan Suffern is producer and director of FINDING OSCAR, with Frank Marshall as producer and Steven Spielberg as Executive Producer. Director Ryan Suffern joins us to talk about the victims, the families, the impact that these massacres continue to have on the people of Guatemala and the continuing search of justice.

For news and updates go to: filmrise.com/finding-oscar

“A twisty, protracted fight for justice is deftly traced in “Finding Oscar,” an absorbing, if grim, documentary …” – Gary Goldstein, LA Times

“The barbarity described in “Finding Oscar” is stomach-turning, but moments of courage still shine through in this unsettling yet vital documentary.” – Ken Jaworoski, New York Times

“Suffern strikes a respectful, not entirely hopeless tone throughout, allowing those affected by the civil war in general and the Dos Erres massacre in particular to speak at length about their experiences.” – Michael Nordine, Village Voice

“An absorbing documentary about an unlikely survival story.” – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

Take My Nose Please…A Joan Kron Film, Director Joan Kron

 

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TAKE MY NOSE PLEASE is a seriously funny and wickedly subversive look at the role comedy has played in exposing the pressures on women to be attractive and society’s desire/shame relationship with plastic surgery. More than 15 million cosmetic procedures were performed in the US in 2014.  And 90% of them on were done on women. Yet, for those who elect to tinker with Mother Nature, especially for high-profile women, plastic surgery is still a very dark secret.  Funny women, though, are the exception.  From Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers to Roseanne Barr and Kathy Griffin, comedians have been unashamed to talk about their perceived flaws, and the steps taken to remedy them. TAKE MY NOSE PLEASE follows two comedians as they deliberate about going under the knife. Emily Askin, an up-and coming improv performer, has always wanted her nose refined. Jackie Hoffman, a seasoned headliner on Broadway and on TV, considers herself ugly and regrets not having the nose job offered in her teens. And maybe she’d like a face-lift, as well. As we follow their surprisingly emotional stories, we meet other who have taken the leap – or held out. Putting it all in perspective are psychologists, sociologists, the medical community and cultural critics. And for comic relief and the profundity only comedians can supply.  The film includes commentary from Roseanne Barr, Phyllis Diller, the late Joan Rivers,Judy Gold, Julie Halston, Lisa Lampanelli, Giulia Rozzi, Bill Scheft, and Adrianne Tolsch. Director Joan Kroc joins us to talk her engaging. lively, funny and enlightening debut film.

For news and updates go to: takemynoseplease.com

See “Take My Nose Please” next Thursday evening (5:15 PM) at Big Newport Theatre in Fashion Island for the Newport Beach Film Festival

Check out a recent article from the Wall Street Journal on Take My Nose Please

The Green Fog – A San Francisco Fantasia, Composer Jacob Garchik


 

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Jacob Garchik, multi-instrumentalist and composer, was born in San Francisco and lived in New York since 1994. At home in a wide variety of styles and musical roles, he is a vital part of the Downtown and Brooklyn scene, playing trombone with the Lee Konitz Nonet, Ohad Talmor/Steve Swallow Sextet, Mary Halvorson Octet, and the John Hollenbeck Large Ensemble. He has released 4 albums as a leader including “The Heavens: the Atheist Gospel Trombone Album”. He co-leads Brooklyn’s premiere Mexican brass band, Banda de los Muertos. Since 2006 Jacob has contributed dozens of arrangements and transcriptions for Kronos Quartet of music from all over the world. He composed the score for Kronos for the documentary “The Campaign” (2013), and “The Green Fog” (2017) directed by Guy Maddin. He has created arrangements for vocalists Anne Sofie von Otter, Angelique Kidjo, Laurie Anderson, Rhiannon Giddens, kd lang, Natalie Merchant, Tanya Tagaq, and Alim Qasimov. Garchik returns to San Francisco Sunday, April 16 for a live performance during the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival’s closing night screening of The Green Fog – A San Francisco Fantasia. Commissioned by the San Francisco Film Society, that reimagines one of the most iconic San Francisco films of all time, Vertigo, as a visual collage by award-winning filmmaker and cultural iconoclast Guy Maddin. The Green Fog will screen at the historic Castro Theatre on Sunday, April 16 at 7:00 pm, followed by the Closing Night Party at Mezzanine. Jacob Garchik joins us for a conversation on collaborating with director Guy Maddin and his own musical journey.

 For news and updates go to: jacobgarchik.com

For news and updates on the 2017 San Francisco International Film Festival go to: sffilm.org/festival

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary, Director John Scheinfeld

 

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CHASING TRANE: THE JOHN COLTRANE DOCUMENTARY is a thought-provoking, uplifting, powerful and passionate film about an outside-the-box thinker whose boundary-shattering music continues to impact and influence people around the world. This rich, textured and compelling portrait of a remarkable artist reveals the critical events, passions, experiences and challenges that shaped the life of John Coltrane and his revolutionary sounds. It is a story of demons and darkness, of persistence and redemption. But, above all else, it is the incredible journey of a spiritual warrior who found himself, found God, and in the process, created an extraordinary body of work that transcends all barriers of race, religion, age and geography. It is a film for anyone who appreciates the power of music to entertain, inspire and transform. The beauty, poignancy, energy, pain, joy and inspiration heard in nearly 50 Coltrane recordings from throughout his career brings alive the artist and the times in which he lived. Even those familiar with his music will be able to hear and appreciate the music of John Coltrane in a new and exciting way. Although Coltrane never participated in any television interviews (and only a handful for radio) during his lifetime, he has an active and vibrant presence in the film through his print interviews. These words — spoken by Academy Award winner Denzel Washington – illuminate what John Coltrane was thinking and feeling at critical moments throughout his life and career. CHASING TRANE: THE JOHN COLTRANE DOCUMENTARY was written and directed by critically-acclaimed documentary filmmaker John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs. John Lennon and Who Is Harry Nilsson…?). He joins us to talk about his moving, insightful portrait of a music icon whose music and philosophy continues to inspire.

For news and updates go to: coltranefilm.com

For screenings: coltranefilm.com/screenings

“Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary unfolds the life of the galactic saxophonist whose soulful approach to music incessantly spread light, peace, and love into the world.” – Felipe Freitas, Film Threat

“Scheinfeld’s film does the hardest thing for a bio-doc to do: it gets what’s great about the artist, and moves you in the same ways their art does.” – Jason Bailey, Flavorwire

“Director John Scheinfeld’s doc is a comprehensive, engrossing and, it’s tempting to say, worshipful account of the life of the music titan.” – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

Daughters of the Dust, Director Julie Dash

 

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Set in the legendary Sea Islands off the South Carolina/Georgia coast in 1902, Julie Dash’s DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST (1991) follows a Gullah family (descendants of West African slaves) on the eve of its migration to the North. Led by a group of women who carry with them ancient African traditions, the extended family readies itself to leave behind friends, loved ones and their insulated way of life. Can these women hold fast to their sacred religious beliefs and customs, or will their world be swept away in the course of a new century? This richly costumed drama, structured in tableaux to reflect the art and icons of African tradition, testifies movingly to the secret celebrations and packed-away sorrows of African-American women. These vital images were introduced to a new generation on a massive scale earlier this year, when the film was heavily referenced in Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade. DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST became the first film by an African-American woman ever to receive widespread theatrical release. Enriched by John Barnes’s eclectic score and Arthur Jafa’s Sundance Film Festival-prize-winning cinematography, listed in the National Film Registry DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST was hailed as one of the most visually and sonically ravishing in American independent cinema. Director Julie Dash joins us for a conversation on her sweeping, absorbing and poetic homage to African culture.

For news and updates go to: daughters-of-the-dust

“Every image, every moment is a full creation. Dash is one of the heroines of the modern cinema.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“A film of spellbinding visual beauty. Julie Dash emerges as a strikingly original filmmaker.” – Stephen Holden, The New York Times

“Daughters of the Dust abounds with stunning motifs and tableaux, the iconography seemingly sourced from dreams as much as from history and folklore.” – Melissa Anderson, Village Voice

“Its examination of a bygone way of life is so patient and evocative, so beholden to its own storytelling conventions and rhythms, that watching it is a bit like submitting to a form of time travel” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

Little Boxes, Director Rob Meyer

 

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It’s the summer before 6th grade, and Clark (Armani Jackson) is the new biracial kid in a very white town. Discovering that to be cool he needs to act ‘more black’, he fumbles to meet expectations. Meanwhile, his urban intellectual parents Mack (Nelsan Ellis) and Gina (Melanie Lynskey) try to adjust to small-town living. Accustomed to life in New York, the tight-knit family is ill-prepared for the drastically different set of obstacles that their new community presents. They soon find themselves struggling to understand themselves and each other in this new context. Based on a true story, LITTLE BOXES is a poignant comedy about understanding identity, featuring a cast that also includes, Oona Laurence, Janeane Garofalo and Christine Taylor. Director Rob Meyer joins us to talk about his funny, insightful and complex film.

“Even as some of the supporting players and subplots veer toward caricature, the family dynamics at the film’s center remain entirely relatable.“ – Geoff Berkshire, Variety

“Writer Annie J. Howell and director Rob Meyer stack up their woes without making them feel contrived, so when the breakdown comes, it’s real, and it’s heartbreaking.” – Jason Bailey, Flavorwire

“Jackson, Lynskey and Ellis all deliver effortless performances that further illuminate an essential narrative.” – Reel Talk Online

“Countless movies have examined what happens when a country mouse goes to the city; this one shows that leaving a gentrified urban oasis for a small-town world can be just as jolting.“ – Neil Genzlinger

Tickling Giants, Subject Bassem Youssef

 

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TICKLING GIANTS is a great story about the power of political satire in the face of oppression. In the midst of the Egyptian Arab Spring, Bassem Youssef makes a decision that’s every mother’s worst nightmare… He leaves his job as a heart surgeon to become a full-time comedian. Dubbed, “The Egyptian Jon Stewart,” Bassem creates the satirical show, Al Bernameg. The weekly program quickly becomes the most viewed television program in the Middle East, with 30 million viewers per episode. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart averaged two million viewers. In a country where free speech is not settled law, Bassem’s show becomes as controversial as it popular. He and his staff must endure physical threats, protests, and legal action, all because of jokes. As Bassem attempts to remain on the air, keep his staff safe, and not get arrested, he continues to let those in power know they’re being held accountable. Despite increasing danger, the team at Al Bernameg employ comedy, not violence, to comment on hypocrisy in media, politics, and religion. Directed by Sara Taksler TICKLING GIANTS follows the team of Al Bernameg as they discover democracy is not easily won. The young women and men working on Bassem’s show are fearless revolutionaries, who just happen to be really, really funny. The subject of Tickling Giants, Bassem Youssef joins us for a conversation on the cost and consequences of speaking out.

For news and updates go to: ticklinggiants.com

“Tickling Giants surprises us on several levels. It reveals Egypt’s familiar Arab Spring experience through a lens, that of satiric comedy, which is very different from the way we usually see it. And it has the personal element of Youssef’s involving story.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Mostly, the movie makes you understand how every society – and ours more than ever – needs people like Bassem Youssef to demonstrate that laughter will always be one of the essential ways to keep power in check.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“There’s a lot to laugh at, and to learn from, in “Tickling Giants,” a documentary that starts off by telling the story of one man and ends up speaking volumes about satire, freedom of expression and political pressure.” – Ken Jaworoski, New York Times

“Media are their own giant, they shape beliefs and create community, instill hope and fear. Perhaps it’s a lesson that will be taken seriously by viewers in the US.” – Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters

I Called Him Morgan, Director Kasper Collin

 

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On a snowy night in February 1972, legendary jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan was shot dead by his common-law wife, Helen, during a gig at a club in New York City. The murder sent shockwaves through the jazz community, and the memory of the event still haunts the people who knew the Morgans. Helen served time for the crime and, following her release, retreated into obscurity. Over 20 years later, a chance encounter led her to give a remarkable interview. Helen’s revealing audio “testimony” acts as a refrain throughout the film, which draws together a wealth of archival photographs and footage, interviews with friends and bandmates and incredible jazz music to tell the ill-fated pair’s story. Part true crime tale, part love story, and an all-out musical treat, I CALLED HIM MORGAN is a chronicle of the dramatic destinies of two unique personalities and the music that brought them together. Swedish filmmaker Kasper Collin’s I CALLED HIM MORGAN is also a love letter to two unique personalities and the music that brought them together. A film about love, jazz and America with cinematography by Bradford Young (DOP, Selma).

For news and updates go to: icalledhimmorgan.com

Los Angeles Area: Laemmle’s Monica Film Center in Santa Monica and Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 in Pasadena. 

“Layering experiences and impressions, music and image, Kasper Collin’s remarkable film is less concerned with history than with effects, influences that stretch across time, ideas that shape art.” – Cynthia Fuchs, PopMatters

“The interview-“an amazing document,” Collin says-enriches the documentary and transforms it into a story within the story.” – Michael J. Agovino, Village Voice

“This is not a lurid true-crime tale of jealousy and drug addiction, but a delicate human drama about love, ambition and the glories of music.” – A.o. Scott, New York Times

“Collin’s film brings out these stories with a wealth of details energized by the experiences and the insights of his interview subjects as well as an engaging range of archival images and clips.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker

“Quite simply, the greatest film about a jazz musician ever. Do not miss this story of a career cut short by a “Frankie and Johnny” tragedy.” – Louis Proyect, CounterPunch

Zookeeper’s Wife, Director Nikki Caro

 

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The time is 1939. The place is Poland, homeland of Antonina (two-time Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain) and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh). Devoted to each other, the couple thrive as personal and professional partners; the Warsaw Zoo flourishes until the entrance is slammed shut and the zoo is crippled in an attack as the entire country is invaded by the Germans. The couple is forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl, Captain America: Civil War). Heck envisions a new, selective breeding program for the zoo. Antonina and Jan fight back on their own terms, and covertly begin working with the Resistance – realizing that their zoo’s abandoned animal cages and underground tunnels, originally designed to safeguard animal life, can now secretly safeguard human life. As the couple puts into action plans to save lives out of what has become the Warsaw Ghetto, Antonina places herself and even her children at great risk. Director Niki Caro (Whale Rider, North Country) directs the movie from a screenplay by Angela Workman, adapted from Diane Ackerman’s nonfiction book of the same name and based on Antonina’s diaries. Director Niki Caro joins us for a conversation on her beautiful and moving historic drama.

For news and updates go to: focusfeatures.com/thezookeeperswife

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“A fundamental sense of empathy may not be especially cinematic, but that’s no reason to ignore it (and Chastain, who strikes a wonderful balance with Heldenbergh, is masterful at expressing stoicism without ever tipping into sanctimony).” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

“Subtle yet striking, this is a film that is filled with the power of exquisitely executed storytelling.” – Chelsey Grasso, The Film Stage

“”The Zookeeper’s Wife” may have appeal to history buffs of that turbulent time but the story has a more universal appeal about love and compassion for all animals, even us humans.” – Robin Clifford, Reeling Reviews

“It imbues a pessimistic view of the seemingly bottomless depths of human cruelty with sorrowful tragic force.” – Kenji Fujishima, Slant Magazine

God Knows Where I Am, Co-director Jedd and Todd Wider

 

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God Knows Where I Am is the story of Linda Bishop, a well-educated New Hampshire mother who suffered from severe bipolar disorder with psychosis, who was intermittently incarcerated and homeless, inevitably being committed for three years to a state psychiatric facility. Successfully fighting her sister’s protective attempts to be named her legal guardian, Linda was able to refuse treatment and medication, and eventually procured an early, unconditional release, despite the lack of post release planning. Upon her release, she wandered ten miles down the road from the hospital, broke into an abandoned farmhouse and lived off of rainwater and apples picked from a nearby orchard for the next four months, through one of the coldest winters on record. For nearly four months, Linda Bishop, a prisoner of her own mind, survived on apples and rain water, waiting for God to save her, during one of the coldest winters on record. Unable to leave the house, she became its prisoner, and remained there, a prisoner of her own mind, eventually starving to death. Her body was discovered several months later and with it a diary that Linda kept documenting her journey. The diary, given voice by actress Lori Singer, is poignant, beautiful, funny, spiritual, and deeply disturbing. As her story unfolds from different perspectives, including her own, we learn about our systemic failure to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Over the last 16 years co-directors Jedd and Todd Wider have produced many of the most critically and commercially successful feature documentary films including, King’s Point (2012) nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short, the multiple Primetime Emmy and Peabody Award winning Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012) directed by Alex Gibney, the Emmy Award nominated Semper Fi: Always Faithful (2011) directed by Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon, the multiple Emmy Award nominated Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010) directed by Alex Gibney Peabody Award and 2008 Academy Award Winner for Best Documentary and 2009 Emmy Award Winner for Best Documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) also directed by Alex Gibney, and many more. In 2011, Todd Wider and Jedd Wider were each nominated by the Producers Guild of America for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures. Co-director Jedd and Todd Wider join us to talk about their haunting new documentary.

For news and updates go to: godknowswhereiam.com

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“A film of great beauty and tenderness that gradually reveals a confounding mental illness, this film is a human story at its heart. Ultimately, it illuminates a hidden problem of vast proportion with an epic yet intimate cinematic vision.” – Jury, Hot Docs

“MUST SEE AT HOT DOCS: God Knows Where I Am will break your heart but also empower you to question, be helpful and provide encouragement to the vulnerable in our lives. God Knows Where I Am is wonderfully shot and captures the isolation, desperation and human condition at its essence.” – Thirty-Four Flavours

“Throughout the beautiful, evocative, and ultimately heartbreaking tale of Linda Bishop, the Widers use a variety of cameras and film formats to grant the movie an almost dreamlike feel, and they’re aided immeasurably by Bishop’s meticulous daily journal, which is read with tenderness and humanity by Lori Singer, bringing Bishop elegantly to life as the chronicler of her own story.” – Christopher Orr, The Atlantic

“I’ve seen God Know Where I Am three times. It’s not only rich and layered enough to hold up on every viewing, but on an emotional level, I wept profusely – again and again and yet again. This is great cinema and certainly a contender for one of the best documentaries of the new millennium. It captures profound poetic truths about homelessness, mental illness and loneliness which are rendered with such artistry and sensitivity that this is a film for the ages. 5 out of 5 stars.” – The Film Corner

HyperNormalisation, Director Adam Curtis

 

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In Adam Curtis’s acclaimed BBC documentary, HyperNormalisation, he employs masterfully edited found footage to investigate how, at a time of confusing and inexplicable world events, politicians and other power brokers construct new, slippery realities. Curtis tells a story that begins in 1975 in New York and Damascus, and ends with today’s world.          

Adam Curtis on his work and HyperNormalisation: ”Those in power in society – the politicians, the journalists, the experts – maintain their power by telling us stories about the world. Those stories tell us what is true and what is false, what is right and wrong, and what is real – and what is illusion. But there come times when these stories begin to break down. And people start to distrust those in power – and their definition of what is real and what is fake. At that point you enter the Zone. The film Hypernormalisation tells the story of how we got to this place. It is also about the new systems of power that we cannot see – because we are trapped inside the Zone.”

Adam Curtis is an award-winning widely influential documentary filmmaker and journalist. He works for BBC television in London. His acclaimed films include The Century of the Self (2002), The Power of Nightmares  (2004), All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011), Bitter Lake (2015) – and most recently HyperNormalisation..  His films go back into the recent past to tell dramatic stories that lead the viewer to look again at the present day – and help them make sense of it. They try to show how power really flows in today’s complex society, not just through politics – but through science, public relations and advertising, psychology, computer networks and finance. Curtis has also done live shows with the immersive theatre group Punchdrunk and the band Massive Attack. His films have been shown at the Cannes film festival and have won awards – including 6 BAFTAs. Curtis joins us to talk about power, journalism, the world as is understood today and his work.

For news and updates go to: bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis

“I want to be Adam Curtis when I grow up.” – Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris

“Hypernormalisation” feels like a greatest hits compilation of familiar Curtis themes — the decline of political power in a corporate age, the rise of global terrorism, America’s tortuous secret history in the Middle East, the hollow narcissism of cyberspace. But this also is a dazzling and thought-provoking film that blurs the line between op-ed journalism and mesmerizing audio-visual art.” – Hollywood Reporter

“‘HyperNormalisation’ is a searching and essential document of our times, a movie that leaves us, as in its opening shot, groping through a pitch-black forest with only a flashlight, wondering what lies in all that terrifying darkness that no one has found a way through.” – The New Yorker

March 3, 2017 – Cries From Syria, Director Evgeny Afineevsky

 

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CRIES FROM SYRIA will take the audience on a unique, five-year journey, from Syria to Turkey, through Jordan, Lebanon and into Europe. They will see the situation from the inside out, through the eyes of those trapped in-between – many of them children – and experience their suffering, bravery, struggle, survival and hope. In March 2011, the Syrian people, inspired by events in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, rose up against the authoritarian rule of President Bashar al-Assad. Public protests sparked by the arrest and torture of children who had been detained after writing anti-regime graffiti led to violent crackdowns. As what would become a long civil war intensified, the Islamic State and other groups began seizing Syrian territory and imposing brutally oppressive conditions of their own. Stranded between the opposing forces in the conflict, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed, seven million have been internally displaced and more than five million have desperately tried to survive by fleeing the country. Two-thirds of those who have fled to date are women and children. CRIES FROM SYRIA is a searing, comprehensive account of the Syrian war from the inside out. The film draws on hundreds of hours of war footage from Syrian activists and citizen journalists, as well as testimony from child protestors, revolution leaders, human rights defenders, ordinary citizens and high-ranking army generals who have defected from the government. Their collective stories are a cry for attention and help from a world that little understands their reality or agrees on what to do about it. Oscar®-nominated Director Evgeny Afineevsky (Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom) joins us to talk about his unflinching look inside our own heart of darkness.

For news and updates go to: criesfromsyria.com

“If the idea of cozying up to Russia strikes you as harmless, or all those Syrian refugees are too far away to seem real, the HBO documentary Cries From Syria is something you ought to watch.” – Neil Genzlinger, New York Times

“Documentarian Evgeny Afineevsky offers a comprehensive, immensely powerful look inside the Syrian civil war through this vital film that aims for the heart with urgency.”- Tomris Laffly, Film Journal International

“It’s understandable why many people struggle to process the tsunami of devastating news coming out of Syria, but Evgeny Afineevsky’s extraordinary film vigorously cuts through the noise, and dramatically shows us the human cost of the war through the eyes of children and the innocent.” -Jamie Carmichael, President-Film at Content

“Cries from Syria is one of the most heart-rending documentaries at Sundance, with disturbing images of the civil war including infants killed by sarin gas released by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and schoolchildren tortured by the regime for writing anti-government graffiti.” -The Wrap

Water & Power A California Heist, Director Marina Zenovich

 

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This thrilling investigation uncovers the high-level corruption behind California’s long-standing water crisis. Sweeping cinematography of California’s harsh, dry landscape asks us to visualize a fight for water in what feels like a modern day Chinatown. Emmy award-winning  filmmaker Marina Zenovich (“Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired”) peels back the layers of California’s convoluted water structure—wealthy water barons show their guilty hand in exploiting the state’s resource, while small farmers and neighboring towns endure debilitating drought. We see luxury crops, like almonds, on the rise and groundwater contamination increasing tenfold, pitting backroom business dealings against human and environmental costs. Water & Power: A California Heist, is a National Geographic documentary film executive produced by Academy Award winner Alex Gibney and produced by Jigsaw Productions. California has the sixth-largest economy in the world. It is home to the global entertainment and technology capitals, one of the most productive farm belts mankind has ever known and nearly 39 million residents. But the state’s continued survival is dependent on a consistent supply of fresh water, a dwindling public resource with a long history of mismanagement. Water & Power: A California Heist dives deep into the past, present and future of California’s endangered lifeblood. This natural resource is only growing more valuable as the new war for water is already upon us. This daring and extremely timely documentary asks us to question who has control of our access to our water. Director Marina Zenovich (Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired) joins us to talk about the “how and why” of the looming disaster that awaits California residents.

For news and updates go to: nationalgeographic.com

“Guided by the work of a handful of burr-like journalists, this dense and disturbing documentary dives into the regulatory quagmire of California water rights with more courage than hope.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

“While the approach taken by filmmaker Marina Zenovich, who directed 2008’s “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” relies heavily on talking heads – Gov. Jerry Brown among them – she admittedly paints a compelling picture of timeless greed.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times

“The history of California is written in water, and in the shady deals that allow a few to control it, director Marina Zenovich shows in her fact-packed documentary Water & Power: A California Heist.” – Sean P. Means, Salt Lake Tribune