In this intimate and revelatory new documentary VISION PORTRAITS an extensive eyesight loss and the possibility of total blindness didn’t shut down queer filmmaker Rodney Evans (Brother to Brother). Instead, it inspired this profoundly personal non-fiction film, which not only documents his own genetic eye disorder, but shows how three other working artists with visual impairments—photographer John Dugdale, writer Ryan Knighton, and dancer Kayla Hamilton—have adjusted their practices around their changed capacities. An intimate study of the artistic process that contemplates the relationship between the sense of sight and artistic “vision,” Evans’ film explores the quintessence of cinema: adventures in perception, subjectivity, and the imagination. Director /Producer Rodney Evans joins us for a conversation on ways in which creativity and artistic expression can manifest and how perceived limitations can be shattered.
About the filmmaker: Rodney Evans is an award-winning fiction and documentary film writer, director and producer based in New York. His debut feature film Brother To Brother won the Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize in Drama. The film had its European premiere at The Berlin International Film Festival and garnered four Independent Spirit Award nominations. His second narrative feature, The Happy Sad, played at over thirty film festivals throughout the world and had its U.S. theatrical premiere at the IFC Center in NYC and the Sundance Sunset Cinema in Los Angeles. Evans has taught at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Princeton and currently teaches at Swarthmore College.
“Evans intersperses his own experience with those of three others, finding comforting commonalities and essential differences. The result is artistically uneven in structure but emotionally powerful throughout.” – Elizabeth Weitzman, TheWrap
“An inspiring film, a funny and informative feature whose subjects were creative kindred spirits I’d never seen onscreen before.” – Odie Henderson, RogerEbert.com
TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID is set in an unnamed Mexican northern border town.The young 10-year-old girl Estrella (Paulo Lara) has 3 wishes: The first one, that her missing mother comes back and it happens. Her mother returns but she is dead and follows Estrella everywhere. Petrified, Estrella tries to escape from her by joining a gang orphaned by violence. Soon she realizes that dead are never left behind and when you are in the middle of brutality and violence, wishes never come true the way you want them to be. A haunting horror fairytale set against the backdrop of Mexico’s devastating drug wars, TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID follows a group of orphaned children armed with three magical wishes, running from the ghosts that haunt them and the cartel that murdered their parents. Filmmaker Issa López creates a world that recalls the early films of Guillermo del Toro, imbued with her own gritty urban spin on magical realism to conjure a wholly unique experience that audiences will not soon forget. Director / writer Issa López joins us to talk about her inventive and viscerally chilling film about dreams, politics, violence against the powerless and justice.
Fantastic Fest 2017: Best Horror Director
Screamfest 2017: Best Actress, Actor, Editing, Director and Picture
Dedfest 2017: Best Picture, Audience Award
Mórbido 2017: Mórbido Award (Best Picture) & Press Award
ITHACA FANTASTIK 2017: Cinema Pur Audience Award, for Best Movie
Paris Fantastic Film Fest 2017: Best Feature, Cinema+ Award, Audience Award
10 nominations for the 2018 Ariel Awards (Mexican Academy Awards)
Best Child Actor, Best Child Actress, Best Support Actor, Best Makeup Design, Best Visual Effects, Best Editing, Best Production Design, Best Sound, Best Script, Best Director*
“Issa Lopez is an incredibly exciting filmmaker who, if there is any justice, will go onto have a career comparable to Guillermo del Toro.” – Fiona Underhill, JumpCut Online
“Heartbreaking, thought-provoking and exquisitely beautiful in equal measure, López unflinchingly rejects the fetishization of young people and their experiences so typical of narratives about childhood trauma.” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ Women on Film
“What it gets right, it does brilliantly. The acting is superb, the mix of fantasy and realistic drama is sublime, and the story is haunting and fascinating in equal measure.” – Bobby LePire. Film Threat
“Watching Tigers Are Not Afraid is like stepping into a enchanting nightmare. There’s an uncomfortable darkness wrapped up in a charming package.” – Kat Hughes, The Hollywood News
AMERICAN FACTORY tells the story of a Chinese billionaire opening a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant in Dayton, Ohio, hiring 2,000 blue-collar Americans still recovering from the effects of the 2008 recession. Working side-by-side with experienced Chinese workers, the locals are optimistic about the future for the first time in almost a decade. But early days of hope give way to setbacks as high-tech China collides with working-class America, and issues of language and culture become seemingly insurmountable walls between clashing factions. AMERICAN FACTORY, the new film from Academy Award®-nominated directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, documents the revitalization of one long-shuttered factory while providing a startling glimpse into a global economic realignment now playing out in towns and cities across the country — and around the world. Granted generous access to the factory, and with the in-depth participation of its employees, Bognar, Reichert and their team spent three years following Fuyao Glass America’s launch of a state-of- the-art glassmaking facility employing hundreds of Chinese and thousands of Midwestern workers in the American heartland. Capturing surprisingly candid moments of people ranging from the visionary billionaire who financed the enterprise to American and Chinese workers on the factory line, AMERICAN FACTORYpresents a microcosmic view of a global phenomenon that could represent a new normal for the American working class. Co-directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert join us for a lively conversation on the challenges of telling a multifaceted of people desperate for a new beginning working for an employer who sees the workplace from a point of view rooted in a culture a half a world away.
About the Filmmakers:STEVEN BOGNAR & JULIA REICHERT (Directors, Producers) are Oscar®-nominated documentary filmmakers whose work has screened at Sundance, Telluride, SXSW and other major festivals, as well as on HBO and PBS. Their film A Lion in the House, a co-production with ITVS, premiered at Sundance, screened on the PBS series “Independent Lens” and won a Primetime Emmy®. Their film The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant premiered at the 2009 Telluride Film Festival, screened on HBO, and was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short in 2010. Their films have, for the most part, told stories of rank-and-file citizens grappling with questions of agency and how to have a decent life. Julia Reichert’s work, in particular, spanning 50 years of filmmaking, has a through-line of concern for working-class and women’s stories. Julia Reichert was also Oscar®-nominated for her documentary feature films Union Maids (1977) and Seeing Red: Stories of American Communists (1983). Her first film, Growing Up Female, was selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. She is the 2018 recipient of the IDA Career Achievement Award. Bognar’s films Personal Belongings, Picture Day and Gravel all premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
WINNER – Best Director – 2019 Sundance Film Festival – U.S. Documentary Competition
OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2019 True/False Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2019 Tribeca Film Festival –
Opening Night, Critics’ Week
OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2019 Full Frame Film Festival
95% on Rotten Tomatoes
“FASCINATING.A sprawling cinema-verite account, it examines the real tensions of international businesses in human terms.”– Eric Kohn, Indiewire
“INTIMATE AND EPIC.30 years after Roger And Me, a similarly vital story updated and made relevant for our globalised age.”– Anthony Kaufman, Screen
“Of all the documentaries you see this year, this one most potently embodies the ever-changing sense of the words “Made in America.” – Peter Debruge, Variety
“American Factory demands comparison to Barbara Kopple’s Oscar-winning masterpiece American Dream with its frank and laudably objective portrait of the USA’s working class and its struggle for prosperity.” – Pat Mullen, POV Magazine
THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON is an adventure story set in the world of a modern Mark Twain that begins when Zak (Gottsagen), a young man with Down syndrome, runs away from a nursing home where he lives to chase his dream of becoming a professional wrestler and attending the wrestling school of The Salt Water Redneck. Through circumstances beyond their control Tyler (LaBeouf), a small time outlaw on the run, becomes Zak’s unlikely coach and ally. Together they wind through deltas, elude capture, drink whisky, find God, catch fish, and convince Eleanor (Johnson), a kind nursing home employee with a story of her own, to join them on their journey. THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON stars Shia LaBeouf,Dakota Johnson, Thomas Haden Church, Bruce Dern, John Hawkes and newcomer, Zack Gottsagen, premiered back in March at SXSW and was a huge critical success, with a current score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film also won over fans, taking home the Audience Award for Narrative Spotlight. Co-directors and co-writers Michael Schwartz and Tyler Nilson stop by to talk about there experiences and the stacks of miracles that brought this heart-warming tale of friendship and reaching for your dreams.
“LaBeouf brings the soul to “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” while Gottsagen brings the spirit. He has an undeniably charming screen presence, and the actor takes to this starring role with gusto.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“A heartwarming, tender and funny adventure grounded in humanism. Refreshingly witty and unconventional. It’s one of the summer’s best surprises.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
“What’s clear is that a lot of development time, movie resources, and A-List actors all came together to make a masterpiece of a film centering on one person…Zack Gottsagen.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat
“‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ is a sweet, warm story about dreams and the family you choose. Zack Gottsagen is pure comedy. Shia LaBeof is giving me sexy, scruffy with substance and the pairing of these two on screen is perfection.” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic
China’s One Child Policy, the extreme population control measure that made it illegal for couples to have more than one child, may have ended in 2015, but the process of dealing with the trauma of its brutal enforcement is only just beginning. From award-winning documentarian Nanfu Wang (HOOLIGAN SPARROW, I AM ANOTHER YOU)and Jialing Zhang, the sweeping ONE CHILD NATIONexplores the ripple effect of this devastating social experiment, uncovering one shocking human rights violation after another – from abandoned newborns, to forced sterilizations and abortions, and government abductions. Wang digs fearlessly into her own personal life, weaving her experience as a new mother and the firsthand accounts of her family members into archival propaganda material and testimony from victims and perpetrators alike, yielding a revelatory and essential record of this chilling, unprecedented moment in human civilization. ONE CHILD NATION is a stunning, nuanced indictment of the mindset that prioritizes national agenda over human life, and serves as a first-of-its-kind oral history of this collective tragedy – bearing witness to the truth as China has already begun to erase the horrors of its “population war” from public record and memory. Director Nanfu Wang joins us to talk about her own journey and how it illuminates a greater, more universal truth about family secrets.
**WINNER – Grand Jury Prize, U.S. Documentary – Sundance FF 2019**
**WINNER – Grand Jury Prize – Full Frame Doc Festival 2019**
**OFFICIAL SELECTION – Tribeca Film Festival 2019**
“SHATTERING. Informative yet always grounded in deep personal investment and clear-eyed compassion, this is a powerful indictment of a traumatic social experiment.”– David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
“PROVOCATIVE AND PERSONAL. Undoubtedly one of the year’s most important documentaries.”– Peter Debruge, Variety
“A thoroughly gripping and ceaselessly unnerving investigation into the policy that shaped and devastated China for a generation. Intimate, thought-provoking and well-crafted…gives voice to so many families whose agency was stolen from them. – Gary Garrison, The Playlist
KINGS OF BEER features behind-the-scenes interviews with Budweiser’s top Brewmasters and experts, along with cameos by beer aficionados Aisha Tyler, Michael Voltaggio and Jay Chandrasekhar. In KINGS OF BEER, a diverse group of elite Brewmasters from 65 breweries and 23 countries, battle it out in an intense competition to brew the world’s most iconic American Lager — Budweiser. The Brewmaster who can brew the best, most consistent Budweiser over a 12-month period will bring home the Global Brewmaster Cup. Judged by an illustrious group of experts who are sequestered deep within the historic walls of the most renowned room in the brewing world — “Room 220” — most of these “key tasters” have decades of tasting experience, which has trained their palates to pick up the most minute of flavor flaws. KINGS OF BEER is a fun and thoughtful deep dive into the world of brewing and what it takes to really be at the top of your game. It’s depicted through the eyes of Budweiser’s most highly-skilled Brewmasters, whose job is to maintain the consistency of the American Lager, which is widely regarded as the single hardest beer to brew.Director Sean Mullin joins us for a frothy conversation on the art and science of brewing the world’s oldest adult libation.
About the Filmmaker – Sean Mullin –As a writer/director, his short films – SADIQ, MAN IS A BRIDGE, and THE 14th MORNING – have won numerous awards and played at film festivals around the world. His MFA Thesis Film at Columbia – SADIQ – was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for “Best Student Film.” AMIRA & SAM is his feature-length debut as a writer/director.As a screenwriter, Sean has been hired to write screenplays for Oscar Nominated Director Henry-Alex Rubin (MURDERBALL) as well as pop sensation Britney Spears.Sean’s unique background as a former army officer turned stand-up comedian informs his creative sensibility, which oscillates between comedy and drama. Prior to launching his filmmaking career, Sean was a Captain in the New York Army National Guard – where he was a first responder after the attacks of September 11th. He spent his days working as the Officer in Charge of the soldiers down at Ground Zero, and his nights performing stand-up comedy. He was a regular at comedy clubs all around the city, including Stand-Up New York, Gotham Comedy Club, and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater.
¡Boza! follows the harrowing journey of three young sub-Saharan African immigrants: Sani, Yamal & Kone, as they leave home in their teens to embark on their years-long journey to a new life in Spain. Crossing the Sahara Desert by foot, spending months to years living in the forests of Morocco, and finally making the dangerous crossing to the Spanish mainland or territories by land or sea, these three powerfully distinct immigration stories have one thing in common: their incredible optimism in the face of inconceivable adversity. Their stories teach us the perseverance of the human spirit, something our world desperately needs to be reminded of now. The dynamic structure jumps between present day footage of life in Spain and reconstructing their migration story using animation and archival footage. Through parallel storytelling, the film compares these three inspiring stories of success to the hopes of a group of migrants living in the slums of Tangier, Morocco. ¡Boza! Director and Producer Sydney Bowie discovered her love of documentary film as an undergraduate at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her short films have been selected to screen at festivals across the United States. In addition, Sydney has worked alongside noted documentary filmmakers, including Oscar-nominated Robert Kenner (Food Inc.)and world renowned British journalist and filmmaker Sean Langan. Sydney has received the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to work on her most recent film the New Migration Project, from which ¡Boza! was produced, documenting the lives of immigrants in Spain. Director Sydney Bowie stops by to talk about her intimate and heartfelt portrayal of people struggling to find a better life.
In a media environment dominated by increasingly concentrated corporate interests, eight distribution companies who have long championed the best in independent features, documentaries, and social issue films, have joined forces to help launch a new subscription streaming service, OVID.tv. Starting today, OVID.tv offers more than 350 quality documentaries and art-house films from the collections of its founding content partners: Bullfrog Films, The dGenerate Films Collection, Distrib Films US, First Run Features, Grasshopper Film, Icarus Films, KimStim, and Women Make Movies. Most of the films on OVID.tv are not available on any other streaming platform, and OVID.tvwill be adding even more films every two weeks–14 fiction feature films and one 10-part documentary series are already scheduled for release. Despite the odds and with little capital, Icarus Films, Docuseek, and our partners have decided that the time has come to step forward and build a new, independent space, dedicated to the films that we believe in and care about, and that we believe you care about, and value as well. OVID.tv co-founder Jonathan Miller joins us to talk about an affordable option for film lovers looking for the highest quality cinema experience presented by people who share your passion.
“A cornucopia of international movies and documentaries… recent ones as well as classics. It’s far better for recent movies than FilmStruck ever was, and its spectrum of new movies is far more substantial than that of Netflix, wider-ranging than that of Amazon.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker, March 22, 2019
THE BOY BAND CON: THE LOU PEARLMAN STORY is a documentary feature that tells the story of famed boy band impresario Lou Pearlman. The film tracks his life from his childhood in Queens, New York through discovering mega-bands *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, and chronicles his later life, including his perpetration of one of the largest Ponzi schemes in American history. This is the first time this story has ever been told from the perspective of the people involved: from the boy band members themselves, and the Ponzi scheme investors to Lou’s childhood friends. Interview subjects include artists Lance Bass, JC Chasez, and Chris Kirkpatrick (*NSYNC); AJ McLean (Backstreet Boys); and Aaron Carter and Ashley Parker Angel (O-Town). Director, editor and cinematographer Aaron Kunkel (Charlie and the Ghost, The Moment) joins us to talk about an all-too-familiar tale of deception perpetrated by a trusted, likable and conflicted con artist.
“The Boy Band Con, The Lou Pearlman Story is a film wrought with both truth and lies, and Lance and I, and the whole team at Pilgrim, really took to heart uncovering what was real story amongst all the rumors, half-truths and full-blown falsehoods. Lou wove a tangled web. As Johnny Wright, the former manager of Backstreet and *NSYNC says, Lou was like a tabloid: there’s 10 percent of truth to what he says, and the rest is Lou taking it where he wants. We’re living in a time when truth and lies seem to blur together more and more and I wanted to examine the differences between them, while also exploring why they’re becoming – and in a lot of ways may always have been – difficult to tell apart.” – Director Aaron Kunkel
“It may be an all-too-familiar refrain – trusted music manager rips off his clients – but “The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Story” sets it in the broader, more intriguing context of the age-old pursuit of those twin trappings, fame and fortune.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“Told in jaw-dropping fashion, the The Lou Pearlman Story follows the famed musical talent scout…to the Harvey Weinstein/Bernie Madoff figure he would ultimately become.” – Robert Daniels, ThatShelf.com
“As Kunkel structures the doc, it’s like “Here’s this guy who nobody completely understands, now let’s go back in time and … nobody understood him then, either.” I prefer that to cheap and specious psychoanalyzing.” – Dan Feinberg, Hollywood Reporter
“The Boy Band Con’s most remarkable feat is showing how Pearlman’s two crowning achievements were merely cogs in the vast machinery of his deception.” – Bryan Rolli, The Daily Dot
Always tight on money, with a self-inflated view of his own “genius,” Bruce (Eden Marryshow “Jessica Jones”) is an egocentric, self-professed writer, director, artist and playboy who damages all of his relationships, romantic or otherwise, as he cons his way through his self-obsessed existence with a mixture of swagger and deeply insecure neuroticism. On the heels of his parents cutting him off, his free ride comes to an abrupt end after his roommate (Jason Tottenham “Quantico”) informs him he’s moving in with his fiancé (Jade Eshete “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”). Desperate to keep his apartment and stay afloat financially, Bruce concocts a plan to run an ad for a hot female roommate and charge her 80% of the rent. When Bruce falls for one of the applicants (Mle’ Chester “Vinyl”), he tries to turn his life around, but as the saying goes, “karma is a bitch.” Will Bruce see the error of his ways or remain irredeemably awful? Director, Producer, Writer Eden Marryshow joins us to talk about assembling a terrific supporting cast and the inspiration for his brash feature film debut.
Tucked in the trees of Oregon’s Mount Hood, an introspective young snowboarder camps alone, anticipating a winter of adventure and self-renewal. In Cambria Matlow’s latest documentary WOODSRIDER a tenacious, 19-year old Sadie Ford operates within the poetic persona of a searching pioneer. Her footsteps track over the town of Government Camp’s mountain landscape, her dog Scooter her only constant companion. Deep among the Douglas firs Sadie snowshoes to build her nestled tentsite, a place she feels more at ease than anywhere with four walls. Riding sessions and house parties in town provide brief breaths of social interaction and connection, but otherwise she chooses to spend time in solitude. Sadie’s simple quest for joy is tempered by melancholy when increasingly warm temperatures on the mountain cause rain to replace snow, and the winter season grows shorter. Striking a youthful yet elegiac tone, WOODSRIDER is a meditative film about identity, home, and the way that human experience echoes that of the natural world. Director Caitland Matlow joins us to talk about the immersive, intimate look into the life of a woman determined to stake out her own path.
“Matlow’s patient, unobtrusive camera and Ford’s magnetism as a subject makes Woodsrider
one of the most intimate docs you’ll see this year. Hauntingly beautiful.” – Walker Macmurdo, Willamette Week
“Stunning camerawork, lovingly composed with visual fluidity. This film will have a lot of appeal to audiences who understand the thrall of the wilderness. It’s a rare capture to see a woman, alone in the elements, strong, independent and totally at ease with her space. The film provokes a lot of thought about our ‘place’ in the natural – and unnatural – world.” – Ashland Independent Film Festival
“Lovely and engrossing, mixing an ethereal distance with a strange intimacy.” – Mark Elijah Rosenberg,
From director Todd Douglas Miller (Dinosaur 13) comesAPOLLO 11a cinematic event fifty years in the making. Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, APOLLO 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission—the one that first put men on the moon, and forever madeNeil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins into household names. Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future. APOLLO 11 director Todd Douglas Miller joins us to talk about taking on the challenge of sifting through a mountain of audio and video, developing new technologies for processing and enhancing 16mm film stock and capturing the tension and triumph of an incomparable achievement in human history.
“The result is a stirring companion piece to Damien Chazelle’s recent “First Man,” and one no less worth seeing on the big screen when Neon releases it in theaters worldwide.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“‘Apollo 11″ is a cool, meticulous, at times enthralling documentary that captures the Apollo 11 flight in its entirety through raw footage drawn from the NASA vaults.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“The images astound, the audio soundtrack is a master class in montage, and the events captured are herculean in scope.” – Jason Gorber, High Def Digest
“A masterful work of archival research.” – Nate Jones, New York Magazine / Vulture
Tom Volf’s MARIA BY CALLAS is the first film to tell the life story of the legendary Greek/American opera singer completely in her own words. Told through performances, TV interviews, home movies, family photographs, private letters and unpublished memoirs—nearly all of which have never been shown to the public—the film reveals the essence of an extraordinary woman who rose from humble beginnings in New York City to become a glamorous international superstar and one of the greatest artists of all time. Assembling the material for the film took director Volf four years of painstaking research, which included personal outreach to dozens of Callas’s closest friends and associates, who allowed him to share their personal memorabilia in the film. When recordings of Callas’s voice aren’t available, Joyce DiDonato, one of contemporary opera’s biggest stars, reads her words. Through Volf’s intimate portrait of Callas, we see that some commonly held beliefs about Callas, notably her reputation as a “tempestuous” diva, have no basis in fact.MARIA BY CALLAS revisits many of the most notable controversies of Callas’s life, from the “Rome Cancellation” to her conflict with the Metropolitan Opera’s Rudolf Bing, and demonstrates that, while Callas was a demanding perfectionist, she was neither capricious nor someone who made trouble for its own sake. The film also sheds new light on Callas’s relationship with Aristotle Onassis, the supreme love of her life. Director Tom Volf joins us in a conversation on the story behind his illuminating look into the complex life of a music icon and his decision to tell Maria’s story in her own voice.
THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT follows the epic adventures of an American legend that no one has ever heard of. Since WWII, Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott) has lived with the secret that he was responsible for the assassination of Adolf Hitler. Now, decades later, the US government has called on him again for a new top-secret mission. Bigfoot has been living deep in the Canadian wilderness and is carrying a deadly plague that is now threatening to spread to the general population. Relying on the same skills that he honed during the war, Calvin must set out to save the free world yet again. Director Robert D. Kryzkowski joins us to talk about working with two-time Academy Award nominated director John Sayles and visual effects wizard and two time Academy Award winner, Douglas Trumbull (Blade Runner and 2001: A Space Odyssey) and how he was able to fashion an endearing, bittersweet saga of a heavy hearted man driven by a profound sense of duty.
“From its world-weary hero to its no-nonsense, casual swapping of fiction for fact, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot uses action and something like science fiction to deliver an wholly entertaining, yet poignant message.” – Slashfilm
**SUNDANCE PREMIERE** Based loosely on Abby McEnany’s own experiences, WORK IN PROGRESS is an honest, funny, and rarely seen exploration of the “isms” and phobias that permeate all of our lives: homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, sizeism, classism, and more. In a nutshell, Abby is a 45 year old queer dyke who is finally coming into her own or she is a 45 year old queer dyke who is about to kill herself. Both are true.It just depends on which day you meet her. She is a finely crafted cocktail of Depression, OCD, Queerness, Insecurity and Anxiety but she only drinks Miller Lite. And in this coming of age story, every little thing or person she meets has the potential for life-altering meaning. Abby is in an adolescent-like stage and has been stuck there for 30 years. After her therapist dies mid-session and she begins to date a trans man, Abby is forced to re-evaluate her life choices, her dating options and whether or not to confront the woman responsible for ‘ruining her life’: SNL’s Julia Sweeney. Co-directors Abby McEnany, Tim Mason and actor Julia Sweeney join us for a rollicking conversation on their hilarious, honest and engaging Sundance Film Festival debut episode of Work in Progress.
It all began when a group of cheerful, subversive filmmakers weren’t accepted into the Sundance Film Festival. Unwilling to take “no” for an answer, they instead started their own event – Slamdance: Anarchy in Utah. 24 years later, Slamdance has become a year-round organization fostering the development of unique and innovative filmmakers. The organization now consists of the Film Festival, Screenplay Competition and Slamdance Studios.Dan Mirvish, Jon Fitzgerald, Shane Kuhn and Peter Baxter are the founding forefathers who, along with co-conspirator Paul Rachman,fought for truly independent filmmakers by giving them a voice in 1995 at the very first Slamdance Film Festival. Since then, the festival takes place every January in the breathtakingly stunning, snow-capped mountains of Park City, Utah at the exact same time as the Sundance Film Festival, toprovide a more authentic representation of independent filmmaking. Up-and-coming writers, directors and producers, alongside seasoned veterans and film lovers, converge for the weeklong celebration of independent cinema, realizing that Slamdance is a great place to find those next, great, visionary films. Slamdance lives and bleeds by its mantra By Filmmakers For Filmmakers. No other film festival in the world is entirely run and organized by the creative force that can only be found in filmmakers. Slamdance adamantly supports self-governance amongst independents, and exists to deliver what filmmakers go to festivals for – a chance to show their work and a platform to launch their careers. The festival has earned a solid reputation for premiering films by first-time writers and directors working within the creative confines of limited budgets. Co-founder and President Peter Baxter joins us to talk about this year’s Slamdance, the groundbreaking films and the innovative new distribution being launched by Slamdance.
ASHLEY CONNOR is a New York based director of photography. Her work on Josephine Decker’s BUTTER ON THE LATCH and THOU WAST MILD AND LOVELY prompted New Yorker critic Richard Brody to name her, alongside Darius Khonji and Fabrice Aragno, as one of the year’s best cinematographers. Her breadth of style can be seen in work as diverse as Dustin Guy Defa’s PERSON TO PERSON (Sundance ’17) and Adam Leon’s TRAMPS (TIFF ’16), as well as in popular music videos for artists including Jenny Lewis, Angel Olsen and Maggie Rogers. She had two films premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Josephine Decker’s MADELINE’S MADELINE and Desiree Akhavan’s Grand Jury Prize winning THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST starring Chloe Moretz and Sasha Lane. Most recently she shot two pilots for A24/Hulu and has three more films coming out in 2018: Olivia Newman’s FIRST MATCH (SXSW 2018 Audience Award Winner, Netflix produced), Alex O Eaton’s MOUNTAIN REST and an Untitled Daniel Scheinert film. Ashley Connor stops by for a conversation on her work on Josephine Decker’s Madeline’s Madeline’s Madeline and her Spirit Award nomination for her cinematography.
DON’T COME BACK FROM THE MOON is a story of abandonment, when all the men in a remote California desert town walk away from their families, one by one.They leave their angry, frustrated sons and daughters behind — kids who act out, engage in acts of petty burglary and vandalism, and look for love and family connection in the aftermath of their abandonment, all the while trying to understand why their fathers have “gone to the moon,” leaving them to traverse the difficult path to adulthood alone.
Director Bruce Thierry Cheung talks about the novelist Dean Bakopoulos who inspired DON’T COME BACK FROM THE MOON, a frequent collaborations with James Franco, the cast also includes a beautifully understated performance with Rashida Jones andand a group of talented young actors that includes Jeffrey Wahlberg, Alyssa Elle Steinacker, Zackary Arthur and Cheyenne Haynes.
About: Bruce is a film director / cinematographer with a background in architecture. Before pursuing film, Bruce was an architect at Studio Daniel Libeskind where he designed several projects, including a redevelopment of downtown Seoul and a wind-powered art center in Germany. As an MFA student in Film at NYU, he served as a Department Fellow and a Teaching Assistant for Spike Lee. In 2010, he helped launch Opening Ceremony TV, an award winning fashion film company. Bruce is also a frequent collaborator of James Franco, serving as his cinematographer on numerous commercials and feature films. His short film, “Each Moment is the Universe,” shot on the road in Thailand, was featured in Dazed and Confused magazine and screened at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Winner – Special Jury Award in Directing, Los Angeles Film Festival
Winner – James Lyons Award for Best Editing, Woodstock Film Festival
Winner – Special Mention for Best Feature, Woodstock Film Festival
Winner – Best Narrative Feature, Southampton Film Festival
Winner – Best Cinematography, Southampton Film Festival
“Bruce Thierry Cheung created a heroically, beautifully imagined interpretation of my first novel for the screen. With a small budget and brilliant heart, he made a gorgeous film out of my story and I am so grateful to him and the talented cast and crew.” – Dean Bakopoulos, Author, Please Don’t Come Back From the Moon
“… Moon is an unexpected meditation on the complicated nature of family & how our grief can lead to depression, causing ourselves to come up with a myriad of reasons to leave …” – Douglas Davidson, Elements of Madness
“Poignant and visually striking.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
Lunacy Productions helmed by prolific producer Stu Pollard is excited debut for you their latest film “Rust Creek,” which is being distributed theatrically by IFC Midnight beginning January 11th, 2019.“Rust Creek” starring Hermione Corfield (“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”), Jay Paulson (“Mad Me”), Sean O’Bryan (“Olympus Has Fallen”), Micah Hauptman (“Homeland”), Daniel R. Hills (“The Resident”), Jeremy Glazer (“Letters From Iwo Jima”), and John Marshall Jones (Con Air”); chronicles the presence of mind and skill an ordinary woman, utilizes while summoning extraordinary courage to survive a nightmare odyssey in this harrowing survival thriller. Thisfilm takes the woman in jeopardy premise and turns it on its head with agility and smarts. This is the latest female driven (both in front of & behind the camera) film from Pollard & his team at Lunacy. Lunacy’s teamareincrediblycommitted to supporting gender parity in filmmaking, producing several films featuring female protagonists (This Is Home, Rust Creek, Short History, Plus One) and working with female filmmakers like Jen McGowan (“Rust Creek”), Ani Simon Kennedy (“Short History of the Long Road”), and documentarian Alex Shiva (“This Is Home: A Refugee Story”) among others. Half of the department heads on “Rust Creek”are women and for many of the female crew, “Rust Creek”was their first feature film or their first opportunity in an elevated position (including DP Michelle Lawler, make-up artist Allie Shehorn, art director Priyanka Guterres, and postproduction supervisor Alex Jensen). Pollard has also directed two features: NICE GUYS SLEEP ALONE and KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. In his spare time he teaches at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and Film Independent. He holds a degree in business from Georgetown and an MFA in film from USC, is a member of the DGA and PGA, and serves on the boards of the Louisville Film Society and GU’s Alumni Board of Governors. Director, producer and head of Lunacy Productions Stu Pollard joins us to talk about his company’s commitment to gender equity on both sides of the camera.
Gilda Radner puts a smile on the faces of people who remember watching her as one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, where she created and portrayed such now-classic comic characters as Roseanne Roseannadanna, Emily Litella and Lisa Loopner. LOVE, GILDA, directed by Lisa D’Apolito, is a true autobiography, told in Gilda’s words and in her own voice. Working with the Radner Estate, D’Apolito unearthed a collection of diaries and personal audio and videotapes documenting her childhood, her comedy career, her relationships and ultimately, her struggle with cancer. This never-before-seen footage and journal entries form the narrative spine of the documentary, allowing Gilda to tell her own story– through the laughter and sometimes the tears. Incredibly, she was able to find humor in even the darkest of times. Gilda’s spirit lives on in comedy as a female trailblazer who continues to inspire many present day comedic performers, including Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Cecily Strong. Also interviewed are SNL original cast members– Chevy Chase, Laraine Newman and Paul Shaffer– as well as, Lorne Michaels (SNL creator and producer), Alan Zweibel (SNL writer), Stephen Schwartz (Broadway composer); Andrew Alexander (CEO of Second City) and long-time friend Martin Short. LOVE, GILDA Director Lisa D’Apolito talks about the unique window her loving film provides into the honest and whimsical world of a beloved performer whose greatest role was sharing her own story.
“A splendid tribute to one of America’s comedy legends.” – J.R. Kinnard, Film Inquiry
“We come away with the portrait of someone who was never just going along for the ride, but who was always questioning and challenging herself, working toward professional excellence and hoping for an ideal romance.” – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
“‘Laughter – that’s what hugs me and holds me,’ she confides on those muddy cassettes. So does the warm, tender embrace of “Love, Gilda.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“All the laughs-as well as the tears-in the too-brief but shining life of a true comic genius are present and accounted for in this essential, intensely moving doc.” – David Noh, Film Journal International
AVICII: TRUE STORIES, a compelling new documentary film by Levan Tsikurishvili, reveals the unvarnished truth behind the success of Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and artist Avicii (A.K.A. Tim Bergling). One of the world’s highest grossing live music artists whose seemingly sudden decision last year to quit doing live shows came as a complete shock to his fans and the industry. The film traces the artist/DJ’s life from his beginnings, all the way to the joy of his success, from his chart-topping global radio hits and subsequent struggles with his physical and mental health. Tsikurishvili followed Bergling for over four years, and captured fly-on-the-wall footage of his experiences and thinking. Featuring appearances by colleagues such as Chris Martin, Nile Rodgers, David Guetta, Tiësto and Wyclef Jean, AVICII: TRUE STORIES is a cautionary tale that explores the taxing nature and intensity of fame from the artist’s point of view as much as it is a film for Avicii’s die-hard fans.
I wanted to do a brutally honest film about Tim as a person and not only about Avicii. Everybody knows Avicii but very few people know Tim. I think this documentary really shows Tim’s struggle and strength of character. Being a worldwide superstar artist is not as easy as it looks on Instagram. – Director Levan Tsikurishvili
WELCOME TO THE MEN’S GROUP is an emotional roller-coaster through the often bumpy inner terrain of the male psyche, as we hear the men open about their lives, sharing truth, telling lies, and revealing secrets they dare not discuss in their lives. WELCOME TO THE MEN’S GROUP is largely inspired by the phenomenon of the “Men’s Movement” of the past 30 years that was championed by writers like the poet Robert Bly and his bestselling book “Iron John” which explored the need for men to reconnect to their authenticity through storytelling, myth and ritualized gathering. WELCOME TO THE MEN’S GROUP takes us inside the intimate dynamic of an all-male support group (Timothy Bottoms, Stephen Tobolowsky, Terence Rotolo, Mackenzie Astin, Joseph Culp, Ali Saam, Phil Abrams, and David Clennon) when they gather one morning for a ritual breakfast and their unique form of male bonding—One Sunday a month, these eight men refrain from beer and football to sit in a circle where they share their personal issues, in the noble hope of becoming a bit more evolved than their fathers. Award winning actor David Clennon (The Right Stuff, Being There, Syriana, Thirtysomething, Missing) joins us to talk about the male psyche, challenges and rewards of working within a strong ensemble cast and the legendary filmmaker Hal Ashby.
“The Hangover this is not. Instead, it explores men trying to support each other but ending up triggering each other, escalating tensions as more and more secrets are revealed until the startling, cathartic climax. Like The Big Chill, it’s ensemble acting at its finest, and like Sideways, it’s an insightful exploration of men’s issues that will appeal to both men and women. The story is complex, beautifully written, deftly filmed.” – New Times
“Welcome to the Men’s Group is full of surprises. It promised to be cutting-edge, but wow, Welcome to the Men’s Group was so much more than I had expected! It will make you laugh, it will make you cry. This is a film that changes the rules.” – Agenda Magazine
Under the guidance of acclaimed South African storyteller, Gcina Mhlophe, five orphaned children from Swaziland collaborate to craft a collective fairytale drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams. Their fictional character, LIYANA is brought to life in innovative animated artwork as she embarks on a perilous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. The children’s real and imagined worlds begin to converge, and they must choose what kind of story they will tell – in fiction and in their own lives. This genre-defying film weaves an original animated hero’s journey with poetic documentary scenes to create an inspiring tale of perseverance. LIYANA is a tribute to creativity, the strength of the human spirit, and the healing power storytelling.Critically acclaimed, and executive produced by award-winning actress, Thandie Newton, LIYANA has won more than 25 jury and audience awards and screened at more than 80 film festivals around the world including the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival and MoMA’s Doc Fortnight. Co-directors Amanda and Aaron Kopp join us for a conversation on their enchanting, inspiring and wildly creative film.
For 33 months, from 1978 to 1980, STUDIO 54 was the place to be seen in Manhattan. A haven of hedonism, tolerance, glitz and glamour, Studio was very hard to gain entrance to and impossible to ignore, with news of who was there filling the gossip columns daily. Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, two college friends from Brooklyn, succeeded in creating the ultimate escapist fantasy in the heart of the theater district. Rubell was the outgoing bon vivant who wanted to be everybody’s friend and was photographed with every celebrity du jour who entered the club and Schrager was the behind-the-scenes creative mastermind who shunned the limelight. STUDIO 54 was an instant success and a cash cow, but the drug-and-sex-fueled dream soon imploded in financial scandal and the club’s demise. With unprecedented access to Schrager, who tells the whole unvarnished story for the first time, and a treasure-trove of rare footage, director Matt Tyrnauer (Valentino: The Last Emperor, Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood, Citizen Jane) constructs a vivid, glorious portrait of a disco-era phenomenon, and tells the story of two friends who stuck together through an incredible series of highs and lows.A favorite at the Sundance and Tribeca film festivals, STUDIO 54 Director Matt Tyrnauer joins us to talk about his fascinating documentary look at the rise and fall of the legendary ‘70s New York nightclub.
“Studio 54 is resonant because it offers such a reasonable and poignant answer.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“Matt Tyrnauer’s thrilling and definitive documentary captures the delirium – and the dark side – of the legendary New York disco.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“It’s a cultural piece of history that paints a picture of an era of New York that had a significant effect on the world. And it goes without saying, changed the nightclub industry forever.” – Dante James, Film Threat
“A hugely entertaining exploration of the mythology of the legendary nightclub as something truly worth celebrating, and a towering Scorsese-esque drama of the men who invented it brought down by hubris.” – MaryAnn Johanson
Drawn from a cache of personal video recordings from the past 22 years, director Steve Loveridge’s Sundance award winning MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. is a startlingly personal profile of the critically acclaimed artist, chronicling her remarkable journey from refugee immigrant to pop star. She began as Matangi. Daughter of the founder of Sri Lanka’s armed Tamil resistance, she hid from the government in the face of a vicious and bloody civil war. When her family fled to the UK, she became Maya, a precocious and creative immigrant teenager in London. Finally, the world met her as M.I.A. when she emerged on the global stage, having created a mashup, cut-and-paste identity that pulled from every corner of her journey along the way; a sonic sketchbook that blended Tamil politics, art school punk, hip-hop beats and the unwavering, ultra-confident voice of a burgeoning multicultural youth. Never one to compromise on her vision, Maya kept her camera rolling throughout. MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. provides unparalleled, intimate access to the artist in her battles with the music industry and mainstream media as her success and fame explodes, becoming one of the most recognizable, outspoken and provocative voices in music today. Director Steve Loveridge joins us to talk about his long-time friendship with Mathangi Arulpragasam AKA Matangi / Maya / M.I.A. and how that friendship was tested during the making of this revelatory, illuminating window into her world.
“If there is one note that rings clear through all the xeroxed, glitchy, abrasive background noise, it is that of authenticity and sincerity.” – Jessica Kiang, Playlist
“Inspires deep respect for the fierce and independent artist she is.” – Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
“It is the synthesis of these contradictions, and how they’ve illuminated M.I.A.’s career path that makes up the spine of Loveridge’s fascinating portrait.” – Piotr Orlov, NPR
“Loveridge celebrates the mashup aesthetic that enabled the artist to find a voice, and reveals that reconciling contradictions… is key to both Arulpragasam’s music and the life she’s constructed with audacity and wit.” – Serena Donadoni, LA Weekly