Through shard-like glimpses of everyday life in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico, LANDFALLis a cautionary tale for our times. Set against the backdrop of protests that toppled the The United States colony’s governor in 2019, the film offers a prismatic portrait of collective trauma and resistance. While the devastation of María attracted a great deal of media coverage, the world has paid far less attention to the storm that preceded it: a 72-billion-dollar debt crisis crippling Puerto Rico well before the winds and waters hit. LANDFALL examines the kinship of these two storms-one environmental, the other economic-juxtaposing competing utopian visions of recovery. LANDFALL explores the intertwining legacies of colonialism, exploitative industries and disaster capitalism and the barriers to recovery they create. As opportunists looking to make a profit descend upon the island, the Puerto Rican diaspora comes together to create unprecedented forms of community-led mutual aid when assistance from the federal government and traditional NGOs fails to appear.LANDFALL features intimate encounters with Puerto Ricans as well as the newcomers flooding the island, LANDFALL reflects on a question of contemporary global relevance: when the world falls apart, who do we become? Director Cecilia Aldarondo joins us for frank conversation on US colonialism, Puerto Rico as a laboratory for social experimentation and the crypto-libertarian grifters peddling economic fairy-tales about freedom and financial independence.
Director’s Statement – As a Puerto Rican from the diaspora, I watched Hurricane María unfold from afar while cut off from loved ones, including my grandmother who would die six months after the storm. Reeling from the debt crisis, which unleashed a wave of austerity, poverty and migration that María only intensified, the Puerto Rico depicted in Landfall is a laboratory for greed, privatization, gentrification, the dismantling of social services, and the devastating effects of climate change. We may have a new President and Puerto Rico a new governor, but little has changed since María hit, as evidenced by the recent privatization of Puerto Rico’s electric grid. The Puerto Rican people are still fighting to end the profit-driven policies that have proved disastrous ever since President Obama signed them into existence. In Landfall I wanted to balance a cautionary tale for our times, while also prioritizing a dignified image of Puerto Ricans who have banded together to fight for their sovereignty. – Cecilia Aldarondo
“An impressive, impressionistic and intimate overview of the unhappy “Island of Enchantment” as it stands today, years after Hurricane Maria hit.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“Cecilia Aldarondo’s intelligent, insightful documentary captures how a natural disaster served to expose the man-made troubles that have blighted the island down the centuries.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
“Impressionistic rather than explanatory, Landfall seldom spells out the complex set of issues still afflicting an island long beset by “the colonial disease.” But it still makes a powerful statement…” – Dennis Harvey, 48 Hills
A walk in the woods will never be the same after watching THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES. Based on his best-selling that has profoundly changed our understanding of forests, renowned forester and writer Peter Wohlleben guides us through his most enlightening ideas. Presenting his ecological, biological and academic expertise with infectious enthusiasm and candor, Wohlleben travels through Germany, Poland, Sweden, and Vancouver to illustrate the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in the woodland for decades. The result is an immersive and eye-opening look at the scientific mechanisms behind these wonders of nature. Peter Wohlleben, subject and best selling author joins us for a very engaging conversation on his reluctance to write The Hidden Life of Trees, his surprise at the reaction to the book and his own journey to better understand the magnificent complexity and awe-inspiring world of the kingdom of forests manifested by a remarkable level of dialog that take place among the thousands of it’s inhabitants.
About the production – Adaptations of bestsellers are part of Constantin Film’s DNA: the Munich-based film company’s adaptations – from “Christiane F.” to “The Name of the Rose”, “The House of the Spirits” and “Perfume – Story of a Murderer” to “Look Who’s Back” – have regularly become blockbuster hits at the German box office. But Constantin Film had never before adapted a non-fiction book as a documentary. Like many millions of other people, producer Friederich Oetker was given Peter Wohlleben’s book The Hidden Lives of Trees as a present. “To be honest, I only read it after I had been given it as a present for the second time,” he says. “But then in one go. I was incredibly impressed by the way. Peter Wohlleben took the reader by the hand and guided them through the forest. It was like a guided tour, a walk in the forest. Although it covers such large areas of Germany, the forest is a bit like terra incognita. Very few people have a real relationship and access to it. Wohlleben wrote a forest guide like Jacques Cousteau once did for the ocean.”
About the subject and the author – Born in 1964, Peter Wohlleben had already decided as a small child that he wanted to become a nature conservationist. He studied Forestry and was a civil servant at the State Forestry Administration for over twenty years. He now runs a forest academy in the Eifel region and works worldwide for the return of the primeval forests. He is a guest on numerous TV programmes, gives lectures and seminars and is the author of books about the forest and nature conservation issues. He has inspired people all over the world with his bestsellers The Hidden Life of Trees, The Inner Life of Animals, The Secret Wisdom of Nature and The Secret Bond between Humankind and Nature. Most recently, the magazine “Wohllebens Welt” was published. He was awarded the Bavarian Nature Conservation Medal in 2019 for his emotional and unconventional way of imparting knowledge. His latest book, The Heartbeat of Trees, is now available via Greystone books.
About the filmmaker – Director and screenwriter Jorg Adolph was born in Herford in 1967. He is considered to be one of the leading directors of documentaries in Germany. Last year saw him being nominated for the German Film Award for his latest work, “Parents’ School”. The film itself developed into a political issue and was the subject of much public controversy. From 1988 to 1994, Adolph studied Comtemporary German Literature and Media Studies in Marburg and then moved to the HFF in Munich where he studied Television Journalism and Documentary Film. His graduation film “Klein, schnell und außer Kontrolle” won the German Television Award in 2001. Since then, Adolph has been working as a freelance documentary filmmaker. Several of his works see him focusing on the artistic creative process: in “On/Off the Record”, he followed the internationally acclaimed Weilheim pop band The Notwist over one year during their work on their momentous album “Neon Golden”. In 2011, he directed the documentary feature “The Great Passion” about the preparations and performances of the Oberammergau Passion Play.
“Extremely exciting, instructive, entertaining documentary. Here you can be amazed, seriously thought and be happy.”– Bild
“THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES Based on the best-selling non-fiction book of the same name, “The Hidden Life of Trees” tells of the mechanisms of a forest and the lack of understanding of deforestation and reforestation. With the help of beautiful images the film creates awareness for the system of trees.” – Film-rezensionen
“Director Jörg Adolph’s documentary succeeds in conveying the joy and amazement about it on a journey through the world of nature. At times it is reminiscent of the motivating documentaries such as Erwin Wagenhofer’s “But beautiful”. In addition, the sensational shots by Jan Haft amaze. And in the spirit of the non-fiction author Peter Wohlleben, there is a positive outlook. Because for him one thing is certain: “The forest is coming back”. Of course, he remarks soberly: “It would only be nice if we were still there”.– Programmkino
“Adolph’s non-fiction documentary seeks the harmony between personal portraits, spectacular nature shots and political statements and thus walks a little on the trail of committed documentaries like Erwin Wagenhofer’s “WE FEED THE WORLD””.– epd-film
“Haft’s forest pictures are astonishing. At night the camera looks reverently into the canopy of the trees and a star-twinkling sky; it hovers over forests that are sometimes green, sometimes colorful; and immerse yourself in the fascinating play of light in a summer deciduous forest.“ – Süddeutsche Zeitung
THE LONELIEST WHALE: THE SEARCH FOR 52 is a cinematic quest to find the “52 Hertz Whale,” which scientists believe has spent its entire life in solitude calling out at a frequency that is different from any other whale. As the film embarks on this engrossing journey, audiences will explore what this whale’s lonely plight can teach us — not just about our changing relationship to the oceans, but to each other. This is the only film that set out in search of 52. The 52 Hertz Whale was originally discovered in 1989. Over the last 3 decades 52 has become a global sensation capturing the hearts of fans around the world. This whale’s story has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Business Insider and more. Most recently the British Indie Rock band Amber Run and the K-pop band BTS have written songs about the whale. Award winning filmmaker Joshua Zeman has been at the forefront of investigative documentaries for the past decade. His most recent work was the hit Netflix documentary series, THE SONS OF SAM: DESCENT INTO DARKNESS. His critically-acclaimed film CROPSEY, a look into the disappearance of five children, is considered to be one of most terrifying horror documentaries of all time. Director Joshua Zeman joins us for a conversation on the primordial fascination that whales exert over humans, the impact his first encounter with Blue Whale had on him, how “singing Humpbacks saved whales for being hunted into extinction and why 52’s story has captured a world-wide audience.
In 1921, white mobs in Tulsa terrorized and burned down the Greenwood District, known as “Negro Wall Street.”With the discovery of a mass grave, the city reckons with its painful past.In the early 20th century, racial violence erupted in dozens of cities across the United States. Hundreds were killed. Black communities fought back, rebuilt, and prospered in the face of extreme oppression and the evils of white supremacy. Dawn Porter’s RISE AGAIN: TULSA AND THE RED SUMMER comes one hundred years from the two-day Tulsa Massacre in 1921 that led to the murder of hundreds of Black people and left thousands homeless and displaced. Award-winning Washington Post journalist and Oklahoma native DeNeen Brown is at the heart of the film, reporting on the search for a mass grave in her native state. Digging into the events that led to one of the worst episodes of racial violence in America’s history, Brown reveals insights into racial conflict incidents that erupted in the early 20th century. Between 1917 and 1923, when Jim Crow laws were at their height and the Klu Klux Klan was resurging across the nation, scores of Black homes and businesses were razed, and hundreds of Black people were lynched and massacred with impunity. Brown’s reporting highlights the revived call for justice for victims and survivors. Following a 2018 investigative report, Brown explores the current anti-racism movement in the context of the Tulsa Massacre and the Red Summer. With access to family members of those killed, city officials, archeologists, and historians, the film reveals the decades-long effort by descendants and community members to find victims’ bodies and unearth truths that have been suppressed for nearly a century. RISE AGAIN: TULSA AND THE RED SUMMER also untangles the role the media played in covering events at the time in order to reveal the full extent of the nation’s buried past. Our guide into this harrowing and disgraceful chapter of American history is award-winning journalist DeNeen Brown joins us for a detailed and personal perspective of the events that played a part in a deadly racist attack on innocent, law-abiding Black citizens.
About the filmmaker – DeNeen Brown is an award-winning staff writer at The Washington Post, who has covered night police, education, courts, politics and culture. She has written about the black middle class, poverty, the homeless, arts and gentrification. As a foreign correspondent, Brown traveled throughout the Arctic to write about climate change and indigenous populations. Her 2018 piece on the Tulsa mass graves restarted the search that had gone dormant. She has won awards from the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors and the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and she is also a professor at the University of Maryland and Merrill College.
It’s been 75 years since the start of the Atomic Age, with the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, but its trail of destruction has never ended. The newly re-mastered Dark Circle, being re-released through First Run Features, covers both the period’s beginnings and its aftermath, providing a scientific primer on the catastrophic power of nuclear energy while also relating tragic human stories detailing the devastating toll radioactive toxicity has taken on people and livestock—focusing in large part on Rocky Flats, Colorado, whose plutonium processing facility infamously contaminated the surrounding area. Documentary Grand Prize winner at Sundance, Academy shortlisted for Best Documentary, and Emmy winner, Dark Circle is no less potent today than it was 40 years ago. Co-director Judy Irving (The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, Pelican Dreams) joins us for an informative and provocative conversation on the history and development of nuclear weapons and nuclear power facilities, as well as the clear and present danger this unimaginably destructive weaponry andtroubled technology continue to pose to the planet and the survival of humanity.
Filmmaker’s Statement – When I set out to make a personal film about the impact of nuclear weapons and power on ordinary people, I had no idea that the movie would create such a ruckus, or that it would still be so relevant 39 years after its release. My aim was to point the camera away from experts and politicians, and find stories about how plutonium is affecting us, even in the absence of a nuclear war. Those effects are not only physical, but psychological and spiritual as well. Having grown up under this nuclear cloud, I wanted to show how nuclear power and weapons are in fact the same industry, despite government propaganda that urges us to see them as separate. Part of understanding this industry required that we travel to Japan to film interviews with survivors of the atomic bombings. We were astonished to discover that we were the first American film crew to do so. American writers and still photographers had been to Hiroshima and Nagasaki before us, but no documentary film crew until we arrived in 1979. To me, this spoke volumes about how much guilt and denial we bring to the issue. After its theatrical release, Dark Circle was accepted for a national broadcast on public television, but then PBS gatekeepers broke the contract. Claiming we were not objective, they insisted that we cut a sequence in which we name the corporations that build the hydrogen bomb, such as General Electric, whose slogan is, ironically, “We bring good things to life.” Many of these corporations are PBS underwriters. We refused to cut the Arms Convention sequence and fought the obvious censorship. It took seven years before PBS finally created a new series, “POV,” to showcase films with a strong point of view, and when Dark Circle was broadcast it won a National News & Documentary Emmy – for PBS! Flash forward three decades: with nuclear stockpiles growing, missile accidents in the news, and nine nuclear states including China flexing their powers with threats, Dark Circle is suddenly relevant again.
About the filmmaker – Pelican Media Executive Director Judy Irving is a Sundance-and-Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker whose theatrical credits include The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a feature documentary about the relationship between a homeless street musician and a flock of wild parrots in San Francisco, Pelican Dreams, about California brown pelicans and the people who know them best, and Dark Circle, a personal film about the links between nuclear power and weapons. In 2015 Judy was invited to become a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Wild Parrotswas a “Top Ten Film of the Year” (National Film Critics’ Poll), was the highest-rated program on the 2007 national PBS series “Independent Lens,” and is now in international distribution. Pelican Dreams (completed in late 2014), features a young brown pelican who mistakenly landed — tired, hungry, and confused — on the roadway of the Golden Gate Bridge, creating a spectacular traffic jam and re-igniting Judy’s years’-long fascination with these ancient, charismatic birds. Judy spent childhood summers on the North Fork of Long Island, and came to love birds thanks to her grandfather. She graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in Psychology and worked as a freelance journalist in Montreal before hitchhiking across the continent and living on a handmade raft-house in British Columbia. Later, she received her Masters in Film and Broadcasting from Stanford University, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in Film. Her documentary film career has taken her to Alaska, Japan, Russia, Nepal, and Zimbabwe, with peace and the environment as her main areas of interest. For more about Judy Irving go to: pelicanmedia.org
“Dark Circle is one of the most horrifying films I’ve seen, and also sometimes one of the funniest (if you can laugh at the same things in real life that you found amusing in Dr. Strangelove). Using powers granted by the Freedom of Information Act, and sleuthing that turned up government film the government didn’t even know it had, the producers of this film have created a mosaic of the Atomic Age. It is a tribute to the power of the material, and to the relentless digging of the filmmakers, that the movie is completely riveting. Four Stars!”– Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times (1982)
“You owe it to yourself to see this chilling documentary. A much needed warning sign on a very dangerous road. Rated: A.”– People Magazine
“The best of the recent films about the atomic age” – Valerie Ellis, In These Times
“Uncompromising power” – Denver Post
:The most eloquent, far ranging, and convincing film on the subject to date.” John Hartl, Seattle Times
“An urgent horror story, Vincent Canaby, New York Times
The DREAM HORSE tells the inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely race horse bred by small town Welsh bartender, Jan Vokes (Academy Award® nominee Toni Collette). With very little money and no experience, Jan convinces her neighbors to chip in their meager earnings to help raise Dream Alliance in the hopes he can compete with the racing elites. The group’s investment pays off as Dream rises through the ranks with grit and determination and goes on to race in the Welsh Grand National showing the heart of a true champion. Director Euros Lyn joins us for a conversation on the attraction that horses and horse racing’s has for filmmakers and film lovers, the superb cast of outstanding performances led by Toni Collette and Damian Lewis and the importance of establishing an upbeat and winning vibes that imbues every frame of DREAM HORSE.
About the filmmaker – Euros Lyn studied drama at Manchester University and worked as an assistant director before directing the multi-BAFTA winning rebooted Doctor Who, including the Hugo award winning The Girl In The Fireplace. He has won BAFTA Cymru Best Director several times, most recently for Kiri with Sarah Lancashire. Euros directed Fifteen Million Merits, part of the Black Mirror anthology for C4 which won an International Emmy for Best Drama Series. He directed three episodes of the opening season of Broadchurch, two seasons of Last Tango in Halifax, the pilot episode of Happy Valley and the single drama Damilola, Our Loved Boy, all four shows winning BAFTA awards. In 2015 he was the recipient of Bafta Cymru’s Sian Phillips award. The Library Suicides, a Welsh language thriller for BFI/ Film Cymru Wales/S4C/BBC Films/ Soda Pictures was released in theatres in August 2016. He directed an episode of His Dark Materials for BBC/HBO and Dream Horse, a feature film starring Toni Collette, Damian Lewis and Owen Teale for Film4/Warner Bros/Bleecker Street premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and is slated for theatrical release in 2021. He is currently working on an adaptation of Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper for Netflix/SeeSaw. For more go to: euroslyn.com
“Dream Horse’s careful navigation of the predictable is undoubtedly helped by its top-drawer cast and sparky dialogue, but it also does well at building tension throughout key race scenes.” – Tori Brazier, One Room With A View
“Like horseracing, filmmaking is a high-risk gamblers’ game, but the team behind Dream Horse, the resulting dramatization of the Vokes’ story, have surely bred a winner with this endearing, determinedly crowd-pleasing adaptation.” – Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter
In Stephen Maxwell Johnson’s powerful new film, High Ground, a young indigenous man, Gutjuk, teams up with a World War I soldier / ex-sniper, Travis, to track down the dangerous Bayawara, a fierce warrior in the Territory, who is also his uncle. As Travis and Gutjuk journey through the outback they begin to earn each other’s trust, but when the truths of Travis’ past actions are suddenly revealed, it is he who becomes the hunted. High Ground was conceived as a story that would challenge accepted notions of the colonial settlement of Australia. High Ground is a powerful human drama, instilled with a strong sense of hope and fear, a story of treachery, heroism, sacrifice, freedom and love, misguided beliefs, an unequal struggle for power, and grief. But above all it is a story about the finding of one’s roots. Director Stephen Maxwell Johnson joins us for a conversation on the shameful treatment the indigenous peoples of Australia have suffered under, the denial of that history and why it was so important that High Ground reflect the human drama, instilled with a strong sense of hope and fear, but above all a story about the finding of one’s roots.
Director’s Statement – At the heart of High Ground is the tragic story of Frontier encounters and the missed opportunity between two cultures, black and white. High Ground was conceived as a story that would challenge accepted notions of the settlement of Australia. Faced with the myth of terra nullius the aim with the film is to create a new mythology and present a different perspective on how this country was made. It explores the themes of identity and culture and the attempts that were made to preserve and progress culture in the face of an overwhelming threat. High Ground is a story with mythic proportions with complexity and no easy answers. This story presents a view that there really is no such thing as settlement it’s all about conquest, it explores the way in which society is built and how connections are made between people and it exposes the shameful truth of our frontier history but rather than choosing to dramatize a specific historical event ‘High Ground’ draws on contact history from a variety of locations – a fiction to illustrate a deeper truth. High Ground is a powerful human drama, instilled with a strong sense of hope and fear, a story of treachery, heroism, sacrifice, freedom and love, misguided beliefs, an unequal struggle for power, and grief. But above all it is a story about the finding of one’s roots. My aim has been to entertain and immerse an audience in an environment teeming with unexpected threats, and to take them on a ride through an aspect of our history that is under-represented and hopefully encourage them to rethink the Australian story.
About the filmmaker – Stephen Maxwell Johnson grew up in the Bahamas, Africa and the Northern Territory of Australia. He began his film and television career at Channel 9 as a trainee cameraman and has worked on mainstream drama, news and current affairs shows. He attended acting school in London and then headed back to the Northern Territory intent on making his first movie. Stephen established a production house and narrow cast television station in Darwin and directed, produced and photographed drama, documentaries, television commercials, animation, corporate films and rock clips all over the Northern Territory, Australia and many remote Indigenous communities. Stephens work include his multi award winning rock clips for the band Yothu Yindi including ‘Treaty’ an AFI award for best Children’s drama ‘Out There’, an AFI nomination for best direction in television and his first movie which he directed, executive produced and script edited ‘Yolngu Boy’. Stephen has recently completed his second feature film ‘High Ground’ which has been 20 years in the making. High Ground premiered at the at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2020 and will be released in cinemas 2021.
“Australian storytelling that packs a punch and pushes you to think deeply about the history of this country, High Ground captures the raw beauty of Arnhem Land as it does the brutality of colonialism.” Wenlei Ma, News.com.au
“More intimate than epic, but gorgeous, stately and tense, it captures a last burst of tit-for-tat reprisals in a country starting to face its genocidal past and racist present.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“…High Ground is an overwhelming achievement of cinematic brilliance. It continues the legacy of Sweet Country by exposing the horrifying actions of White Australians…” – Andrew F. Peirce, The Curb
“High Ground is a deceptively simple story about the lingering consequences of revenge through racism taken to heights of excellence due to beautiful vistas, top representation of Aboriginal culture and its brutal depiction of violence.” – Harris Dang, The AU Review
“In the magnetic Nayinggul, superb as the boy on the brink of manhood who must choose whether to reject anger or embrace it, the film showcases a notable new talent.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. With more than two decades as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events such as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Big Screen Classics series in partnership with Fathom Events, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app. Fans can also enjoy a TCM curated classics experience on HBO Max.
TCM UNDERGROUND – Tune in every Friday night for TCM Underground, our late-night movie franchise that showcases the best of classic cult favorites and hard-to-find films, from experimental shorts to off-beat comedies. For more discussions around the wild, weird world of cult films and films shown on TCM Underground, check out our web series TCM Slumberground on YouTube!
TCM SLUMBERGROUND is the official monthly pre-show for TCM Underground, a late-night cult movie franchise that airs at 2:00 am EST on Friday nights on Turner Classic Movies. In each episode, TCM Underground programmer Millie De Chirico sits down with a panel of her fellow TCM employees to discuss the upcoming double feature and other cult movie topics.
Other Midnight Films at past TCM Classic Film Festivals include: Boom!, Duck Soup, Eraserhead, Freaks, Gog, Island of Lost Souls, Kentucky Fried Movie, Night of the Living Dead, Nothing Lasts Forever, Phase IV, Roar, Santo vs. The Evil Brain,The Bride of Frankenstein, The Day of the Triffids, The Mummy, The Student Nurses, The Tingler, The World’s Greatest Sinner and Zardoz.
In the late 1960s, in the aftermath of the Watts Uprising and against the backdrop of the continuing Civil Rights Movement and the escalating Vietnam War, a group of African and African-American students entered the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, as part of an Ethno-Communications initiative designed to be responsive to communities of color (also including Asian, Chicano and Native American communities). Now referred to as the “L.A. Rebellion,” these mostly unheralded artists created a unique cinematic landscape, as—over the course of two decades—students arrived, mentored one another and passed the torch to the next group. Beyond the films themselves, what makes the L.A. Rebellion movement a discovery worthy of a place in film history is the vitality of its filmmakers, their utopian vision of a better society, their sensitivity to children and gender issues, their willingness to question any and all received wisdom, their identification with the liberation movements in the Third World, and their expression of Black pride and dignity. As part of the 2021 TCM (Turner Classic Movies) Film Festival is spotlighting two of the L.A. Rebellion’s leading lights, Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry in the festival’s Special Collections section. Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry join us for a conversation on their recollections the birth of the L.A. Rebellion and the inspiration for their life altering decision to become filmmakers.
About the filmmaker – Charles Burnett is a writer-director whose work has received extensive honors. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, his family soon moved to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Burnett studied creative writing at UCLA before entering the University’s graduate film program. His thesis project, Killer of Sheep (1977), won accolades at film festivals and a critical devotion; in 1990, it was among the first titles named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. European financing allowed Burnett to shoot his second feature, My Brother’s Wedding (1983), but a rushed debut prevented the filmmaker from completing his final cut until 2007. In 1988, Burnett was awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur (“genius grant”) Fellowship and shortly thereafter Burnett became the first African American recipient of the National Society of Film Critics’ best screenplay award, for To Sleep withAnger (1990). Burnett made the highly acclaimed “Nightjohn” in 1996 for the Disney Channel; his subsequent television works include “Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding” (1998), “Selma, Lord, Selma” (1999), an episode of the seven-part series “Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues” (2003) and “Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property” (2003), which was shown on the PBS series “Independent Lens.” Burnett has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the J. P. Getty Foundation. In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art showcased his work with a month-long retrospective.
To Sleep with Anger – Writer and Director Charles Burnett – A slow-burning masterwork of the early 1990s, this third feature by Charles Burnett is a singular piece of American mythmaking. In a towering performance, Danny Glover plays the enigmatic southern drifter Harry, a devilish charmer who turns up out of the blue on the South Central Los Angeles doorstep of his old friends. In short order, Harry’s presence seems to cast a chaotic spell on what appeared to be a peaceful household, exposing smoldering tensions between parents and children, tradition and change, virtue and temptation. Interweaving evocative strains of gospel and blues with rich, poetic-realist images, To Sleep with Anger is a sublimely stirring film from an autonomous artistic sensibility, a portrait of family resilience steeped in the traditions of African American mysticism and folklore.
About the filmmaker – Billy Woodberry Born in Dallas in 1950, Billy Woodberry is one of the founders of the L.A. Rebellion film movement. His first feature film Bless Their Little Hearts (1983) is a pioneer and essential work of this movement, influenced by Italian neo-realism and the work of Third Cinema filmmakers. The film was awarded with an OCIC and Interfilm awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2013. His latest feature film And when I die, I won’t stay dead (2015) about the beat poet Bob Kaufman was the opening film of MoMA’s Doc Fortnight in 2016. Woodberry has appeared in Charles Burnett’s “When It Rains” (1995) and provided narration for Thom Andersen’s Red HOLLYWOOD” (1996) and James Benning’s “Four Corners”(1998). His work has been screened at Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Harvard Film Archive, Camera Austria Symposium, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Tate Modern and Centre Pompidou. He received his MFA degree from UCLA in 1982 where he also taught at the School of Theater, Film and Television. Since 1989 Billy Woodberry is a faculty member of the School of Film/Video and the School of Art at the California Institute of the Arts.
Bless Their Little Hearts – Director / Producer / Editor Billy Woodberry – A key masterpiece of the L.A Rebellion, Bless Their Little Hearts distills the social concerns and aesthetics of that trailblazing movement in African American cinema. Billy Woodberry’s film showcases his attentive eye, sensitivity to the nuances of community and family, and the power of the blues. Searching for steady work, Charlie Banks (Nate Hardman) views his chronic unemployment as a kind of spiritual trial. But day work and selling a few catfish can’t sustain a family of five. While his wife, Andais (Kaycee Moore), works to support them with dignity, Charlie finds comfort for his wounded sense of manhood in an affair that threatens his marriage and family.At the heart of this devastatingly beautiful film is the couple’s agonizing confrontation – shot in one continuous ten-minute take – that ranks as “one of the great domestic cataclysms of modern movies.” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker) Named to the National Film Registry, Bless Their Little Hearts features contributions by two iconic American artists: Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep, To Sleep With Anger), who wrote and shot the film, and Kaycee Moore (Daughters of the Dust), whose powerful performance as Andais Banks remains a revelation. Film restoration by Ross Lipman with Billy Woodberry at UCLA Film & Television Archive. 2K Digital restoration by Re-Kino, Warsaw. English captions and Spanish subtitles.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM)is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. With more than two decades as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events such as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Big Screen Classics series in partnership with Fathom Events, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app. Fans can also enjoy a TCM curated classics experience on HBO Max.
Produced and directed by filmmaker Bill Morrison, “let me come in” features a new song by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang performed by soprano Angel Blue, one of opera’s brightest stars. The short film incorporates rediscovered (and heavily damaged) footage from the lost 1928 silent film Pawns of Passion to astonishing effect. Filmmaker Bill Morrison, director of the highly acclaimed films Decasia and Dawson City: Frozen Time, has long been fascinated with ancient, decayed nitrate film stock from long-forgotten films—what he describes as “goopy, sticky films deemed not worth saving.” For “let me come in,” he has resurrected footage from what may be the last surviving reels of the 1928 German silent romance Pawns of Passion, discovered in a Pennsylvania barn in 2012. After decades of expanding in hot summers and contracting in freezing winters, the deteriorated nitrate film stock now reveals, in Morrison’s words, “imagery that seems to be pulled from a state of semi-consciousness, asleep but dreaming.” Morrison describes Lang’s song as “a rumination on love and the borderline separating two souls, seemingly from the precipice of consciousness. When I heard Angel Blue’s incredible interpretation, my mind immediately recalled the ambiguous tension in this scene from Pawns of Passion.Left to rot in a barn, and then scanned and archived again for another eight years on my own personal hard drive, it has found a new life through David’s words and music, and Angel Blue’s voice. It was very exciting to see how quickly it came together and how perfectly the image, words and sound meshed.” Director Bill Morrison joins us for conversation on his inspired interpretation of hauntingly beautiful film fragments.
About the filmmaker – Bill Morrison makes films that reframe long-forgotten moving images. His films have premiered at the New York, Rotterdam, Sundance, and Venice film festivals. In 2014 Morrison had a mid-career retrospective at MoMA. His found footage opus Decasia (2002) was the first film of the 21st century to be selected to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. The Great Flood (2013),was recognized with the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award of 2014 for historical scholarship. Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016) was included on over 100 critics’ lists of the best films of the year, and on numerous lists ranking the best films of the decade, including those of the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times and Vanity Fair. His work has previously been seen at LA Opera in productions of David Lang’s “anatomy theater” (2016) and David T. Little’s Soldier Songs (2019). Co-presented by Los Angeles Opera with composer David Lang and soprano Angel Blue. Special thanks to the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. For more go to: billmorrisonfilm.com/bio-filmography
Yung Chang’s intimate and harrowing latest film, WUHAN WUHAN, is an observational documentary unfolding during February and March, 2020 at the height of the pandemic in Wuhan city, where the coronavirus began. With unprecedented access at the peak of the pandemic lockdown, WUHAN WUHAN goes beyond the statistics and salacious headlines and puts a human experience into the early days of the mysterious virus as Chinese citizens and frontline healthcare workers grappled with an invisible, deadly killer. WUHAN WUHAN focuses on five heart-wrenching and endearing stories: a soft-hearted ER doctor and an unflappable ICU nurse from the COVID-19 hospital; a compassionate volunteer psychologist at a temporary hospital; a tenacious mother and son who are COVID-19 patients navigating the byzantine PRC healthcare system; and a volunteer driver for medical workers and his 9 month pregnant wife whose heartfelt story forms the backbone of this film.In a time when the world needs greater cross-cultural understanding, WUHAN WUHAN is an invaluable depiction of a metropolis joining together to overcome a crisis. Award-winning filmmaker Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze, This is Not a Movie) joins us for a conversation on the daunting challenges associated with a sprawling story with no end in sight and an unknowable trajectory.
Director’s Statement – As a Chinese person who grew-up in North America, I feel strongly committed to telling a nuanced story that doesn’t generalize a population of people and reveals them to be individuals, not just a monolith. Nationalism builds walls and this is not the intention of this film. In WUHAN WUHAN, the lives of the people we follow are individually a document of perseverance, but collectively they represent the profound humanity we universally hope for in times of crisis. I’m driven to make this film because of anti-Asian racism quelled by double-speak and mis-truths from leaders around the world, who obfuscate the realities of this pandemic; that in the end it is the everyday person, the essential frontline workers, the volunteers, the intergenerational families, it is us, who must navigate the ups-and-downs of this unprecedented and historic event that will shape our lives forever. In a way, as systems and governments fail us, the people have come together. We will survive. – Yung Chang
About the filmmaker – Ying Chang is the director of Up the Yangtze (2007), China Heavyweight (2012), and The Fruit Hunters (2012). He is currently completing a screenplay for his first dramatic feature, Eggplant, which was selected in 2015 to participate in the prestigious Sundance Labs. Chang’s films have premiered at international film festivals including Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, and IDFA and have played theatrically in cinemas around the world. Up the Yangtze was one of the top-grossing documentary releases in 2008. In 2013, China Heavyweight became the most widely screened social-issue documentary in Chinese history with an official release in 200 Mainland Chinese cinemas. His films have been critically-acclaimed, receiving awards in Paris, Milan, Vancouver, San Francisco, the Canadian Genie, Taiwan Golden Horse, Cinema Eye Honors, among others and have been nominated at Sundance, the Independent Spirit Awards and the Emmys. Chang’s films have been shown on international broadcasters including PBS, National Geographic, ARTE, ZDF, Channel 4, HBO, TMN, NHK, CBC, TV2, SBS and EBS. Chang is the recipient of the Don Haig Award, the Yolande and Pierre Perrault Award, and the Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award. He is a member of the Directors Guild of Canada. In 2013, he was invited to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Where his prior film, the acclaimed epic AQUARELA, was a reminder of the fragility of human tenure on earth, in GUNDA, master filmmaker Viktor Kossakovsky reminds us that we share our planet with billions of other animals. Through encounters with a mother sow (the eponymous Gunda), two ingenious cows, and a scene-stealing, one-legged chicken, Kossakovsky movingly recalibrates our moral universe, reminding us of the inherent value of life and the mystery of all animal consciousness, including our own. Experiential cinema in its purest form, GUNDA chronicles the unfiltered lives of a mother pig, a flock of chickens, and a herd of cows with masterful intimacy. Using stark, transcendent black and white cinematography and the farm’s ambient soundtrack, Master director Victor Kossakowsky invites the audience to slow down and experience life as his subjects do, taking in their world with a magical patience and an other worldly perspective. GUNDA asks us to meditate on the mystery of animal consciousness, and reckon with the role humanity plays in it.
“GUNDA is a mesmerizing perspective on sentience within animal species, normally – and perhaps purposely – hidden from our view. Displays of pride and reverence, amusement and bliss at a pig’s inquisitive young; her panic, despair and utter defeat in the face of cruel trickery, are validations of just how similarly all species react and cope with events in our respective lives. Victor Kossakovsky has crafted a visceral meditation on existence that transcends the normal barriers that separate species. It is a film of profound importance and artistry.” – Executive producer Joaquin Phoenix
Director’s Statement – Growing up I was very much a city kid, but at the age of four I spent a few months in a village in the countryside, where I met my best friend Vasya. He was much younger than me – just a few weeks old when we met – but over time he became my dearest friend and the times we spent together are some of the most cherished memories from my childhood. One day, when we were still young, Vasya was killed and served as pork cutlets for a New Year’s Eve dinner. I was devastated and immediately became (probably) the first vegetarian kid in the Soviet Union. As a consequence, since I became a filmmaker I have always wanted to make a film about the creatures with whom we share the earth, a film about animals as living, feeling beings in their own right. I wanted to make a film without patronizing or humanizing them, without any sentimentality, and without vegan propaganda. However, as the film I had in mind is not about dolphins, elephants, pandas or other cute animals we love to love, it was impossible to finance. I tried for almost three decades until I finally met Norwegian producer Anita Rehoff Larsen from Sant & Usant who took the risk on making it. We were unbelievably lucky to meet Gunda in the Norwegian countryside on the very first day of our research trip. Gunda is on the screen for over half of the runtime of the final film and is an extraordinarily powerful character – you do not need an interpreter to understand her emotions and experiences. As such I decided to make this film without any captions, voice-over, or music, you just need to watch it and allow yourself to feel. For me, the essence of cinema is showing, not telling. I do not make films if I want to tell an audience something I have no interest in prescribing an opinion. I make films if there is something I want people to see and to allow them to find their own conclusion. Documentary cinema is a great tool to show the realities of the world, to show things that we do not see by ourselves, that we do not want to see, or that we have collectively agreed that we do not see, and so we allow ourselves not to think about. With GUNDA I want people to see these animals as sentient beings and to encourage them to think about the possibility of their consciousness and selfhood. With that I feel that GUNDA is the most personal and important film I have made as a filmmaker and as a human being. – Victor Kossakovsky
NOMINEE – Best Feature – IDA Documentary Awards 2021
FEATURES SHORTLIST – DOC NYC 2020
TOP 10 FILM OF THE YEAR – The New York Times
“GUNDA is pure cinema. This is a film to take a bath in – it’s stripped to its essential elements, without any interference. It’s what we should all aspire to as filmmakers and audiences – pictures and sound put together to tell a powerful and profound story without rush. It’s jaw dropping images and sound put together with the best ensemble cast and you have something more like a potion than a movie.” – Paul Thomas Anderson
98% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Sublimely beautiful and profoundly moving, it offers you the opportunity to look – at animals, yes, but also at qualities that are often subordinated in narratively driven movies, at textures, shapes and light.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times
“”Gunda” may be a meditational slow-burn, but as it unfurls its immersive audiovisual tapestry it hovers between non-fiction observation and lyrical insight, and to that end feels like an advancement of the nature documentary form.” – Eric Kohn, indieWire
“It is hard to fully articulate how, but Gunda is as much a damning meditation on the human condition as it is a glowing, thought-provoking portrayal of a mother’s love for her children, a sow’s love for her piglets.” – Matthew Anderson, CineVue
Victor Valle’s documentary 8 BILLION ANGELS focuses on how and why humanity’s demand for resources vastly are outpacingnature’s ability to supply them. Food, water, climate and extinction emergencies are unfolding before our eyes. 8 BILLION ANGELS tells the truth about the conflict between the size of our global population and the sustainability of our planet. It dispels the misperceptions that technology can save us, that reducing consumption is the only answer, and that the blame lies solely in the developing world. 8 BILLION ANGELS enlists a wide array of experts that include; Jason Hall-Spencer, Dr, Saroj Pachauri, David Montgomery, Bill Stowe, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Stuart Pimm, William Ryerson, Zoe Weil and Brownie Wilson to lay out how the world can achieve a sustainable balance for ourselves and earth. Using breathtaking cinematography and startling emotion, the film takes the viewer on an immersive and emotional journey into the lives of farmers, fisherman and others as they witness an unfolding global crisis and inspires real solutions toward lasting sustainability and a better quality of life for all Earth’s inhabitants. In 8 BILLION ANGELS Executive Producer and Executive Director of Earth Overshoot Terry Spahr joins us for a conversation on how and why facing the questions around the ever-expanding population of people is a vital and indispensable part of any plan to save humans from cataclysmic event.
About Earth Overshoot – Earth Overshoot is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to making ecological limits central to all personal and public decision-making through targeted education and advocacy. Its goal is to achieve a sustainable society characterized by human well-being and flourishing biodiversity. Launched in early 2019, the organization builds upon the key messages presented in 8 Billion Angels, a documentary feature about overpopulation as an overarching upstream cause of our global environmental emergencies. earthovershoot.org
Executive Producer’s Statement – In my lifetime I have witnessed remarkable changes in humanity’s growth, in prosperity, lifespan, and in sheer numbers across the globe. As a child in the 1970’s, I saw the unintended consequences of this growth near my home in Philadelphia where pollution clogged the same Delaware River so celebrated for Washington’s crossing, huge landfills for garbage fouled the landscape close to Independence Hall, and masses of cars produced smog-filled air as they navigated roads designed centuries ago for far fewer people. Despite awakening to our environmental pollution problem, giving rise to recycling, renewable energy, land conservation and environmental awareness and stewardship, we now see that no amount of technology, voluntary reduction in consumption, or conservation can halt the greater forces propelling us toward climate change, ocean acidification, deforestation and a host of other natural catastrophes. All of our efforts, up until now, have amounted to stop-gap measures that distract us from the fact that we add 80 million more people every year to the earth, who together consume more resources faster than the world can replenish, and emit more waste than the earth can naturally absorb. That is why I decided to stop talking about it and do something, dedicating my time and money to telling the truth about the problem, and sharing the hope of real solutions in the stories of everyday people. After all, it is only when we are not afraid to name a problem, confront it and talk openly and honestly about it, that we can begin to fix it. It is critical to offer an alternate vision for the future. If we, as individuals, families and nations, band together by pursuing smaller families, supporting the worldwide adoption of accessible and affordable family planning, and strengthening our global commitment to the education and empowerment of women and girls, we will not only bring tremendous social justice, economic prosperity and health equity to billions, but we will unequivocally restore the environment. Join me in on this first step of my mission to ensure a planet that provides a just, safe and sustainable future for everyone. – Terry Spahr
Emmy Award winning director Joe Gantz’s compassionate documentary THE RACE TO SAVE THE WORLD is a climate change film like no other. Instead of focusing on paralyzing facts and numbers THE RACE TO SAVE THE WORLD inspiring takes a unique approach by following passionate activists, ages 15-72, who are in the trenches fighting for a livable future. These brave climate warriors put their lives on the line to push for change, regardless of the personal cost. THE RACE TO SAVE THE WORLD brings an urgent and intimate portrait of the protests, arrests, courtroom drama and family turmoil these activists endure as they single-mindedly focus their attention on the goal of creating a more sustainable world for future generations. Drawing on powerful footage and moving interviews, THE RACE TO SAVE THE WORLD is an inspiring call to action, urging each one of us to become climate warriors for a livable future. Director and producer Joe Gantz stops by to talk about the dedicated activist who are willing to push aside a comfortable life of in-action to become everyday heroes push to create a sustainable world, often risking their relationships, careers – and freedoms in the process.
About the filmmaker – Joe Gantz is known for work that examines personal stories with honesty, humor, and depth. He calls his film style, “life in progress”, where his small crew fades into the background and lets the story evolve organically. Joe tries to be present for the pivotal moments as well as the everyday moments, to give insight into each subject’s life and relationships. The goal is to allow the subjects to be comfortable enough to go about their daily life as if there was no one filming. And the subjects are not performing, because there is no agenda, making for very authentic storytelling. Taxicab Confessions: Emmy award-winning HBO documentary series featuring real-life interactions between cab drivers and their passengers that was broadcast for fifteen years. American Winter: A documentary film about families struggling in the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Ending Disease: The Stem Cell, Anti-Cancer T-Cell, & Antibody Revolution In Medicine, is a film about how regenerative therapies are transforming medicine from a lifetime of treatments to onetime cures for a whole host of debilitating diseases. The Race to Save the World: uses the same personal approach to emotionally-engage viewers in the urgent fight against catastrophic climate change.
“The Race to Save the World realistically captures characters who take real risks and the impacts on their loved ones and on themselves. Implicitly it raises questions about the best way to achieve environmental goals… Gantz’ film spurs us to think about how to be more effective”.– Jim Hansen, Director Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Program Columbia University Earth Institute
As the world searches for a cure to a disastrous virus, a scientist (Joel Fry) and park scout (Ellora Torchia) venture deep in the forest for a routine equipment run. Through the night, their journey becomes a terrifying voyage through the heart of darkness, the forest coming to life around them as nature becomes a force of evil, Director, writer and editor Ben Wheatley (Down Terrace, Kill List, Fields of England) joins us for a conversation on his endlessly compelling pandemic folk tale that is begins with a walk in the woods that drops us into subversively horrifying landscape of screeching trees and bone-crushing vibrations. Golden Globe nominee composer Clint Mansell (The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream, Moon) provides a stunningly propulsive soundtrack to the film.
“It’s damn terrifying, trippy, thoughtfully imaginative in sound design and visual tricks to convey communicating with nature, and packs a savage kick of relatively insane individuals and body horror” – Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth
“The biggest success, however, is the balance of psychedelic mysticism and heady science that are melded with toe-curling scenes of gore and suspense.” – Norman Gidney, Film Threat
“Wheatley is firing on all cylinders with his stripped-down approach to massive topics. An assault on the senses that’s bigger than any blockbuster.” – Kyle Anderson, Nerdist
“In the Earth reminds us that there’s so much more still to fear in the invisible darkness of the natural world — things that our little animal brains can barely grok in all of its terrible splendor.” – Nick Johnston, Vanyaland
“Wheatley and his collaborators have produced something that some of us thought would be impossible: an outrageously entertaining film that feels utterly rooted in the bleak era in which it was made.” – Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph (UK)
“This is the work of someone who’s always been more in his element when making something out of nothing, and that energy is especially well-served to a story about the fundamental human impulse to do the same.” – David Ehrlich, indieWire
JUMBO is the coming-of-age story of Jeanne, a shy young woman, lives at home with her uninhibited bartender mother and works the graveyard shift as a cleaner at an amusement park. Her mother wants her to meet a man, but Jeanne prefers tinkering in her bedroom with wires, light bulbs, and spare parts, creating miniature versions of theme park rides. During her late-night shifts she begins spending intimate time with the alluring new Tilt-A-Whirl ride that she decides to call JUMBO. Finding herself seduced by “his” red lights, smooth chrome, and oily hydraulics, Jeanne concludes that the thrilling new relationship she wants to pursue is with JUMBO. Director and writer Zoé Wittock (A demi-mot, Le Silence de l’Aube) joins us for a conversation on the challenging logistics of filming at amusement park, crafting a nuanced look at sexuality and social norms and the personal journey of the filmmaker in selecting the amazing Noemie Merlant for the role of Jeanne.
About the filmmaker – Zoe Wittock is an award winning writer and director. Originally hailing from Belgium, Zoé grew up living around the world and trained at the prestigious directing program of the American Film Institute (AFI), in Los Angeles, where she graduated the youngest and top of her class, while being awarded the “Hal and Robyn Berson” scholarship for excellence in directing. In France, she directed her last short film “A demi-mot”, broadcasted on OCS and Netflix, before making her feature film debut with “Jumbo” which went on to many selections around the world, including Sundance and the Berlinale, where she was awarded a prize in the Generation section. She was also a nominee for the Discovery Prize at the European Film Awards and was named in Hollywood Reporter’s list of the 20 female filmmakers to watch in 2020. As an active member of the SRF (French association of Film Authors), Zoe campaigns for greater equality in films, while advocating for the protection of author’s right in the ever-changing industry. For more go to: zoewittock.com
Director’s Statement – When I was still living in the United States, I stumbled upon an article describing the incredible story of Erika Labrie, an Olympic gold winner in archery, who got married to the Eiffel tower in 2004 and became Erika Eiffel. She was said to suffer from the “Objectum sexual” condition. It struck me as the most improbable story, but it encouraged me to think further: How did she become like that? What draws her to objects? How does she experience her love? When did she know? So I contacted her… Only to realize she was one of the most grounded people I had ever met. The contrast was fascinating. Satisfying ourselves within the confines of what we know can be very limiting. Being Belgian, I grew up with the influences of famous surrealist artists such as Magritte or Nougé who excelled at twisting reality and objects through extreme visuals, thus allowing for the unconscious to express itself. They gave new meanings to daily commodities, while revolutionizing our perception of traditional art and everyday preconceptions of life. The concept of falling in love with a landmark object may of course be hard to grasp at first, but this unconventionality is the mere reason that I chose to seek interest in this extraordinary coming of age story. Whilst providing a seductive and poetic adventure based on strong colorful visuals, I wanted to question what one defines as normal versus monstrous, at a time where I was personally questioning my own identity and place in this world. However if I were to undertake such a romance, I knew that had to use all the power that fiction had to offer. I ought to find the perfect object, one that would allow for the richest communication through sound, movement, lights or any other means available to the cinematographic language. Being particularly sensitive to my environment, I felt that an amusement park and its surroundings would be pivotal in setting the fantastical tone needed to believe and be moved by our character’s journey. Lyrically transporting you from one scene to the next, using humor in very dramatic moments, this film seeks to make a statement about tolerance and the freedom of one’s own choices. It is a modern take on love and its infinite possibilities. – Zoe Wittock
“Merlant’s writhing, fainting spells and intense gaze do well to communicate the intensity of desire and, although the film can sometimes be a dizzying attraction to climb on, Jumbo is certainly worth the ride.” – Adesola Thomas, Paste Magazine
“So will Jumbo take Jeanne’s heart for a ride? And should we object to her sexuality if she’s not hurting anyone? These questions, and more, abound in the out-there, but not-like-anything-else-out-there, “Jumbo.” – Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times
“First time writer-director Zoé Wittock takes an absurd idea and imbues it with such heart, soul, and beauty that you’ll automatically look past the inherent ridiculousness. Instead, you’ll simply absorb its glowing sense of wonder.” – Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle
“Jumbo, a unique and beautiful addition to the coming-of-age genre, gives us a tender exploration of a young woman’s journey of a first romance and discovering her sexuality along the way.” – Alysha Prasad, One Room With A View
STRAY explores what it means to live as a being without status or security, following three strays as they embark on inconspicuous journeys through Turkish society. Zeytin, fiercely independent, embarks on adventures through the city at night; Nazar, nurturing and protective, easily befriends the humans around her; while Kartal, a shy puppy living on the outskirts of a construction site, finds companions in the security guards who care for her. The strays’ disparate lives intersect when they each form intimate bonds with a group of young Syrians with whom they share the streets. Director Elizabeth Lo joins us to talk about her remarkable debut documentary film, meeting Zeytin and Nazar and how she navigated the streets and the people of Istanbul to present an illuminating observation of human civilization through the unfamiliar gaze of dogs and a sensory voyage into new ways of seeing.
Director’s Statement – The impetus for STRAY is personal. When my childhood dog died, I felt a quiet need to suppress my grief at his passing. I was shocked that something as personal as how my heart responds to the death of a loved one could be shaped by an external politics that defined him or “it” as “valueless.” As my grief evolved, I also saw how our moral conceptions of who or how much one matters can be in constant flux. This transformative moment is what propels STRAY’s exploration into value, hierarchy, and sentience. In 2017, I traveled to Turkey, a country whose history and relationship with strays is unique in the world. Turkish authorities have tried to annihilate stray dogs since 1909, leading to mass killings of Istanbul’s street dogs for the last century. But widespread protests against these killings transformed Turkey into one of the only countries where it is now illegal to euthanize or hold captive any stray dog. Every free-roaming dog today is an emblem of resistance — living manifestations of compassion in the face of intolerance. I first met Zeytin, our canine protagonist, as she hurried past me in a busy underground tunnel in Istanbul. Intrigued by her sense of purposefulness, I chased after her. She was joined by Nazar, another street dog. As it turned out, they were on the heels of a group of young men from Syria — Jamil, Halil and Ali — who were living on the streets as refugees in Turkey. Zeytin quickly emerged as the focus of our production because she was one of the rare dogs we followed who did not inadvertently end up following us back. To the very last day of shooting, she remained radically independent. In Zeytin I saw a character who could fully envelop us within her own non-human will — a quality that was vital to a story about dogs who, unlike pets, are not only defined by their relationship to humans. My journey through Turkey traversed a socio-cultural terrain in which for a moment, one nation became refuge for many others. When xenophobia, species destruction and nationalist sentiment are rising all around the world, STRAY springs from these cracks in our anthropocentric modernity. It asks us to re-evaluate what it means that our streets are continuously emptied of everyone except those whom we’ve deemed to be its legitimate citizens. Through STRAY, I hope to continually push the boundaries of the cinematic medium in order to explore and challenge unequal states of personhood — to expand viewers’ circles of moral and perceptual consideration beyond their own class, culture, and species. – Elizabeth Lo
About the filmmaker – Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor Elizabth Lois an award-winning filmmaker. Her work has been broadcast and showcased internationally, including at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs, True/False, BAM Cinema fest, New York Times Op-Docs, and PBS POV. Elizabeth was named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine in 2015 and was featured in the 2015 Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase at Cannes Lion. She was selected for the New York Film Festival Artist Academy in 2018 and the Locarno Film Festival Filmmakers Academy in 2019. Elizabeth’s work has played at over 100 film festivals and has won numerous awards. Her short films include Hotel 22 (2015), Bisonhead (2016), Mother’s Day (2017), The Disclosure President (2016), Notes from Buena Vista (2016), Treasure Island (2014), and Last Stop in Santa Rosa (2013). In 2017, her collected shorts were released by Video Project as a DVD, The Short Films of Elizabeth Lo, for distribution to educational institutions and libraries around the world. Elizabeth was born and raised in Hong Kong and holds a B.F.A. from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and an M.F.A. from Stanford University. STRAY is her feature film debut.
“The ultimate love letter to dogs and a multifaceted moral inquiry into humanity… [A] virtuosic feature documentary debut.” – Tomris Laffly, Variety
“Dog lovers will drool over this profound canine love letter from Turkey. Gorgeous, absorbing…The dogs run most of the show, and they serve as remarkable centerpieces in a complex visual tapestry.”- Eric Kohn, IndieWire
“A howling success. Artful, intimate… ‘Stray’ shines a piercing light on what it means to be an outcast in a teeming metropolis.”- Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
Deep in the forests of Piedmont, Italy, a handful of men, seventy or eighty years young, hunt for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle—which to date has resisted all of modern science’s efforts at cultivation. They’re guided by a secret culture and training passed down through generations, as well as by the noses of their cherished and expertly-trained dogs. Co-directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw (The Last Race) seamlessly navigates viewers through an enigmatic world where the denizens live a simpler, slower way of life, in harmony with their loyal animals and their picture-perfect land, seemingly straight out of a fairy tale. They’re untethered to cell phone screens or the Internet, opting instead to make their food and drink by hand and prioritizing in-person connections and community. The demand for white truffles increases year after year, even as the supply decreases. As a result of climate change, deforestation, and the lack of young people taking up the mantle, the truffle hunters’ secrets are more coveted than ever. However, as it soon becomes clear, these aging men may just hold something much more valuable than even this prized delicacy: the secret to a rich and meaningful life. Co-directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw (The Last Race) join us to talk about their immersion into a very closed, arcane multi-tiered society that dates back hundreds of years and the impact that modernity and climate disruption is having on this enchanting corner of the world.
About the filmmakers – Michael Dweck is an award-winning American filmmaker and contemporary visual artist. Best recognized for his evocative narrative photography, Dweck artistically investigates the on-going struggles between identity and adaptation found within endangered societal enclaves. Dweck’s works have been featured in solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries worldwide, and are part of prestigious international art collections, including the archive of the Department of Film at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, where two of his long-form television pieces reside.In his first feature-length film, “The Last Race” (Sundance US Documentary Competition 2018), Dweck extended his exploratory repertoire by combining observational documentary, stylized imagery, and a symphonic merging of motion and sound. Experimenting with both form and subject matter, Dweck highlights the mysterious beauty and exuberant passion shared by the last custodians of a disappearing tradition. Aside from creating an artistic appraisal of class and American identity, Dweck’s film allegorizes the broader, global epidemic wherein handmade objects and ritualistic traditions face extinction at the hands of mass conglomerate takeover. For more go to: michaeldweck.co
About the filmmaker – Gregory Kershaw has worked on narrative and documentary film productions as a producer, cinematographer, and director. Most recently, he was a senior producer at Fusion television where he made environmental documentaries. His work explored the impact of climate change on indigenous populations throughout Latin America in a series of United Nations Foundation funded videos, as well as long form documentaries on the global species extinction crisis featuring environmental luminaries such as Jane Goodall and Sylvia Earle. Gregory is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA film program.
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“A scrumptious cinematic journey. Try not to fall hard for the joy it spreads.”– Tomris Laffly, VARIETY
“Gorgeous. Unique. Delightful. Visual Poetry. A fascinating glimpse inside a world of arcane knowledge and the luxury market that feeds off it. A constant feast for the eyes and a nourishment for the soul, giving the illusion of a journey back in time to a pre-technology age of simpler pleasures.”– David Rooney, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“An eccentric world that you have never heard of, never seen…”– Kenneth Turan, LOS ANGELES TIMES
“It’s a sweet and simple movie with a healthy dose of bittersweet wistfulness for a fading world, and it’s beautiful.” – Alissa Wilkinson,Vox
Long ago, four extraordinary beings of dual male and female spirit brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii and imbued their powers in four giant boulders. The stones still stand on Waikiki Beach, but the true story behind them has been hidden – until now. Shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Animated Film – Short Form, KAPAEMAHU brings this powerful legend back to life in vivid animation, seen through the eyes of a curious child.Co-directors, and co-producers Joe Wilson, (Out in the Silence) Dean Hamer (The Science of Desire, The God Gene) and Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu (Leitis in Waiting, Lady Eva) joins us for a conversation on the ways in which indigenous cultures of the Pacific Islands have embraced third-gender (mahu) identities and celebrate the ability and spirit of male and female strengths, as well as the decision to tell the story of Kapaemahu in an animated story format.
Director’s Statement – I am Kanaka — a native person descended from the original inhabitants of the islands of Hawaii. Our survival as indigenous people depends on our ability to know and practice our cultural traditions, to speak and understand our language, and to feel an authentic connection to our own history. That is why I wanted to make a film about Kapaemahu, and to write and narrate it in Olelo Niihau – the only form of Hawaiian that has been continuously spoken since prior to the arrival of foreigners. It is not enough to study our language in an American classroom, nor to read about our history in an English language textbook. We need to be active participants in telling our own stories in our own way. I am also mahu, which like many indigenous third-gender identities was once respected but is now more often a target for hatred and discrimination. I want our young people to understand that the ability to embrace both the male and female aspects of their spirit is not a weakness but a strength, a reason to rejoice not to fear. Whether it is protecting Mauna Kea or Kapaemahu, I shall always believe in what historian S. M. Kamakau articulated in 1865 : He makemake ko’u e pololei ka moolelo o ko’u one hanau, aole na ka malihimi e ao ia’u I ka moolelo o ko’u lahui, na’u e ao aku I ka moolelo I ka malihini. (“I want the history of my homeland to be correct. The foreigner shall not teach me the history of my people, I will teach the foreigner.”) ~ Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu
About the filmmaker – Director, Producer Dean Hamer is a New York Times Book of the Year author, Emmy and GLAAD Media award-winning filmmaker, and National Institutes of Health scientist emeritus with a long history in communicating complex and controversial ideas to diverse publics. He formed Kanaka Pakipika with partner Joe Wilson and documentary film protagonist Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu to collaborate on an insightful series of films that have opened the eyes of the worlds to the lessons to be learned from Polynesia’s unique approach to diversity and inclusion. He is currently working on a book and museum exhibition based on Kapaemahu. Hamer is the author of several best-selling nonfiction books including “The Science of Desire” and “The God Gene,” has been a consultant for the BBC and Discovery channels, and his research has been featured in Time, Newsweek, and Science magazines and on Frontline and Oprah.
About the filmmaker – Director, ProducerJoe Wilson is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker dedicated to telling stories that emanate from the voices of those on the outside. His feature and short films combine live action with animation to explore pressing social issues through innovative storytelling. Wilson’s work has screened and won awards at festivals around the world including Berlin, Toronto and Tribeca, been viewed by millions of viewers on PBS, ARTE and other international broadcasts, and has been supported by Sundance, Ford and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Wilson’s 2010 film Out in the Silence focused on the challenges of LGBT people in rural and small town America and became the centerpiece of a multi-year national campaign to open dialogue and build bridges across socio-political divides. Shortly after, he and partner Dean Hamer began their now decade-long collaboration with Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, first documenting her story in the PBS Independent Lens Audience Award-winner Kumu Hina, then with Hina joining as producer on a series of films about gender diversity in the Pacific, including Leitis in Waiting, Lady Eva, and The Rogers. Kapaemahu is Wilson’s fifth film in collaboration with Hina. Prior to filmmaking, he served as Director of Human Rights at the Public Welfare Foundation and Producer of Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now.
About the filmmaker – Director, Producer, Narrator Hinaleimoana Wong-Kaluis a Native Hawaiian teacher, cultural practitioner and filmmaker who uses digital media to protect and perpetuate indigenous languages and traditions. She began her film work as a protagonist and educational advisor for the award winning films Kumu Hina and A Place in the Middle, and received a National Education Association Human Rights Award, Native Hawaiian Educator of the year and White House Champion of Change Award for the groundbreaking impact campaigns associated with those films. Continuing her journey to the other side of the lens, Kumu Hina produced the PBS/ARTE feature documentary Leitis in Waiting and award-winning short Lady Eva about her transgender sisters in the Kingdom of Tonga. Hina is also a transgender health advocate, burial council chair, candidate for the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and composer of “Ku Haaheo E Kuu Hawaii,” the internationally-known anthem for the protection of Mauna Kea which was honored as Hawaiian Song of the Year in the 2020 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, known as the Hawaiian Grammys.
In Peter Galison’s thoroughly entertaining and informative new documentary, Black Hole: The Edge of We Know poses and answers an intriguing question, What can black holes teach us about the boundaries of knowledge? These holes in spacetime are the darkest objects and the brightest—the simplest and the most complex. With unprecedented access, Black Hole: The Edge of All We Know follows two powerhouse collaborations. Stephen Hawking anchors one, striving to show that black holes do not annihilate the past. Another group, working in the world’s highest-altitude observatories, creates an earth-sized telescope to capture the first-ever image of a black hole. Interwoven with other dimensions of exploring black holes, these stories bring us to the pinnacle of humanity’s quest to understand the universe. Director Peter Galison (Secrecy) joins us to talk about the world-wide effort of scientists, mathematicians, engineers, students, teachers and physicists to reach new heights of understanding our universe and the opportunity to showcase the more personal and life-affirming side of the late physicist and deep-thinker Stephen Hawking.
Director’s Statement – “I began filming Black Holes | The Edge of All We Know in the spring of 2016, when five colleagues and I launched the Black Hole Initiative, an interdisciplinary center for the study of black holes. Unlike the many fascinating objects in the sky, black holes have come to be central not only to astronomy, but also to mathematics, physics, and philosophy—not to speak of the way they figure in science fiction, in the art world, and in everyday speech. Two of those co-founders (both key figures in the film) are Sheperd Doeleman, the first director of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), and Andy Strominger, a long-time collaborator with Stephen Hawking. By April 2016, I had begun working as a physicist/philosopher with the EHT— Alongside the scientific work, during the following years, I filmed what became the first of the three strands of Edge: the EHT’s struggle to make the first image of a black hole. The resulting image was released on 10 April 2019 and seen in the following forty-eight hours by several billion people: the most-viewed scientific image in history. Also from 2016-19, I filmed a parallel effort by Hawking and colleagues, as they undertook to make sense of the (theoretical) threat that black holes pose to the very idea of universal physical law. Finally, philosophers reflect on these most mysterious objects: Is knowledge of the interior of a black hole even to be counted as real? Edge weaves these strands (observation, theory, and philosophy) together, all around the theme of what it is possible to know of these darkest, most elusive and mysterious edges of space and time. The goal of the film is not just to popularize already-achieved science results—it is to bring the audience into the all-too human conduct of science, the dynamics of collaboration, the challenges of observing and theorizing, the tantalizing clues to space and time that can be garnered in the making of science at the absolute forefront of what we can understand.” – Peter Galison
About the filmmaker – Peter Galison is a physicist/historian of science/filmmaker at Harvard University. In 1997, he was named a MacArthur Fellow; with his Event Horizon Telescope colleagues, Galison shared in the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for the first image of a black hole. He is a co-founder of the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard, an interdisciplinary center for the study of these most extreme objects. His documentary film (with Pamela Hogan, 2000) probed the moral-political debates over the H-bomb: Ultimate Weapon: The H-bomb Dilemma. He and Robb Moss co-directed Secrecy (2008), on national security secrecy, which premiered at Sundance. The two also co-directed Containment (2015), about the need to guard radioactive materials and warn the 10,000-year future. Galison partnered (as dramaturg) with South African artist William Kentridge on a multi-screen installation, The Refusal of Time (2012) and an associated chamber opera. He is also the author of several books, including Image and Logic; Objectivity; (with L. Daston), and Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps.
“Peter Galison’s film does a superb job of conveying the life of science – the passion, the wonder, and the comradery forged by a group of people working together to fathom this strange cosmos we live in” – Alan Lightman, writer/physicist, MIT
““You need to watch this space-time bending doc on Apple TV ASAP”” – Inverse
“…explores the many meanings of black holes and that pioneering photo… a symbol of what humanity is capable of when it aims high and works together.” – space.com
“The experience is akin to that of watching a great artist at work … just a healthy respect and an opportunity to forge a human connection.”- Eye for Film
LITTLE FISH, the fourth feature film from director Chad Hartigan, is a romance set in a near-future Seattle teetering on the brink of calamity. The film imagines a world where a pandemic has broken out, that strikes with no rhyme or reason, and causes its victims to lose their memories. This is the world that newlyweds Emma and Jude find themselves in, not long after meeting and falling in love. When Jude contracts the disease, the young couple will do anything to hold onto the memory of their love. Starring Olivia Cooke (Sound of Metal, Thoroughbreds) as Emma, Jack O’Connell (’71, Starred Up) as Jude, Soko and Raul Castillo, LITTLE FISH, opens in the midst of a global epidemic: Neuroinflammatory Affliction, a severe and rapid Alzheimer’s-like condition in which people’s memories disappear. Couple Jude Williams and Emma Ryerson are grappling with the realities of NIA, interspersed with glimpses from the past as the two meet and their relationship blooms. But as NIA’s grip on society tightens, blurring the lines between the past and the present, it becomes more and more difficult to know what’s true and what’s false. Director Chad Hartigan (Morris From America, This is Martin Bonner) joins us for a conversation on the making of hissubversively sly sci-fi / love story and how the on-screen artistry of the two lead actors helped shape this prescient tale of love in an age of isolation and mistrust.
About the filmmaker – Writer/director Chad Hartigan is best known for his award-winning feature films THIS IS MARTIN BONNER and MORRIS FROM AMERICA. Hartigan won the John Cassavetes Award at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards, as well as the “Best of NEXT” Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, for THIS IS MARTIN BONNER. Hartigan won the Waldo Scott Screenwriter Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival for his film MORRIS FROM AMERICA. LITTLE FISH marks the third collaboration between childhood friends Hartigan, composer Keegan Dewitt (HEARTS BEAT LOUD) and cinematographer Sean McElwee (THE INCREDIBLE JESSICA JAMES). Based on Aja Gabel’s short story, the film is written by up and coming screenwriter Mattson Tomlin who co-wrote the latest Batman film, THE BATMAN, and wrote the Netflix hit PROJECT POWER.
“In the midst of a flurry of pandemic-themed media coming out which tries to reflect the [present] situation, LITTLE FISH manages to distinguish itself from the crowd with its brilliant leads and emotional resonance.” – Oluwatayo Adewole, The Spool
“The result is better than smart, it’s stirring. With the NIA pandemic as a pretext, the essential subject becomes memory — its fragility, its wondrousness, its centrality to our existence as sentient beings.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
“Hartigan’s moody evocation of Emma and Jack’s love – and the way in which it, like so much else, is predicated on knowledge of the past – casts a moving spell.” – Nick Schager, Variety
“Chad Hartigan’s Little Fish drips with equal doses of beauty and poignancy – an affecting dive into love and memory, and how it defines who we are.” – Natasha Alvar, Cultured Vultures
A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX ask the question, what if we are living in a simulation, andthe world as we know it is not real? To tackle this mind-bending idea, acclaimed filmmaker Rodney Ascher (ROOM 237, THE NIGHTMARE) uses a noted speech from Philip K. Dick to dive down the rabbit hole of science, philosophy, and conspiracy theory. Leaving no stone unturned in exploring the unprovable, the film uses contemporary cultural touchstones like THE MATRIX, interviews with real people shrouded in digital avatars, and a wide array of voices, expert and amateur alike. If simulation theory is not science fiction but fact, and life is a video game being played by some unknowable entity, then who are we, really? A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX attempts to find out. The film introduces us to a handful of real-world testifiers who are certain that their bodies and minds are being operated by some external game-player. Ascher, as ever an inviting, curious questioner (never one who mocks), brings a wealth of cultural and intellectual context to his latest exploration, from the videotaped musings of paranoid sci-fi giant Philip K. Dick to clips of Keanu Reeves in The Matrix and a host of bespoke animated re-creations that give eerie credence to the most outré of notions. Director Rodney Ascher joins us to talk about his paranoia-inducing, exhilarating and definitive introduction to a subject that, subscribe to it or not, involves us all.
About the filmmaker – RODNEY ASCHER (Director, Editor, and Executive Producer) RODNEY ASCHER is a filmmaker known for creating documentaries that explore the subjective experience, freely appropriating the vocabularies of genre, experimental, and found-footage films along the way. His first feature, 2012’s ROOM 237 looked at The Shining through the eyes of five very different people. He visualized their wildly different interpretations of Kubrick’s classic by juxtaposing excerpts of the film with everything from Murnau’s Faust to the cover of the January 1978 issue of Playgirl magazine creating a trip down the rabbit hole. His follow up, THE NIGHTMARE was called “The Scariest Movie of the decade.” Creatively, the film completely changed tactics from Room 237’s archival-driven montage. To visualize real people’s seemingly supernatural experiences during bouts of ‘sleep paralysis’ his team filmed interviews at night in the subjects’ own bedrooms and created stylized re-enactments inspired by the interviewees’ drawings and his own personal memories of a visitation by a ‘shadowman.’ Like Room 237, it premiered at Sundance before traveling around the world including an Imax screening in Moscow. A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX is his most ambitious film yet, using multiple styles of 3D animation to illustrate the experiences and philosophies of people who suspect the world itself is not quite real.
“A Glitch in the Matrix becomes not about whether we’re living in a simulation but about the many understandable reasons someone may think this. In effect, it winds up being about the mysteries of the human experience.” – Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture
“’A Glitch in the Matrix’ goes for the head by way of the heart, or maybe vice versa. Superb and startling, breathtaking and compassionate.” – Bill Arceneaux, Of Those Who
“A compellingly out-there look at the possibility that we’re all avatars in a game we can’t comprehend.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast
“Ascher’s appropriately discombobulating stew of queasiness, comedy, and terror seems well-cued to the subject matter, even while missing a certain editorial sharpness that might have brought some of its notions into greater clarity.” – Chris Barsanti, The Playlist
“While Ascher casts a wide net, “A Glitch in the Matrix” works quite well as an overview of the various epistemological questions it raises.” – Eric Kohn, indieWire
ANATOMY OF WINGS is the direct result of an after-school film project, where ten Black middle school girls gathered each week to collaborate with their Black and white mentors on a feature-length documentary about their own coming-of-age in Baltimore City. Weeks turn into years. Then, shortly before the girls’ high school graduations, a sea of misunderstanding arises about what’s to come. This self-defined ‘second family’ is left to question if their solidarity will survive the realities of living in a world of racial inequity.WINGS mentors created a safe space for the girls to practice filmmaking and share life experiences, questions and personal moments such as proms, first time gynecologist visits and accomplishments. Their lives in Baltimore reflected their corresponding community and, once in high school, the girls began inviting their best friends to join the program. The result: we became a group of 10. What began as a videography program evolved into a powerful space of sharing for ten years, where ten girls, mentors, professors and college students at MICA created a family. The co-directors Kirsten D’Andrea Hollander and Nikiea Redmond join us for a conversation on the power of storytelling, especially for young women of color, living in a community bereft of opportunity can be a powerful and unmistakable call to arms for real social change.
About the filmmaker – Kirsten D’Andrea Hollander is a full-time professor at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where she currently directs the MFA Filmmaking program. Equipped with an undergraduate degree in Painting from MICA in 1988, she turned to documentary filmmaking after receiving an MFA in Imaging and Digital Arts from UMBC in 1997. Having taught in higher education for 22 years, Hollander explored how the camcorder can be a collaborative tool to bear witness. In 2008 she launched the ‘Wings Video Skills After School Program for Girls’ and the recently completed ‘Anatomy of Wings’ feature length documentary. In 2011 Hollander was selected for an Independent Filmmaker Project Fellowship to launch her first feature length documentary, ‘Us, Naked: Trixie & Monkey’, which premiered with the DOC NYC film festival in 2014. In 2015, ‘Us, Naked: Trixie & Monkey’ received Best International Feature Length Documentary at the Netherland’s DOCfeed Film Festival and Best Feature Length Documentary at New York’s Coney Island Film Festival. The film went into international distribution with Random Media/The Orchard in 2017. Hollander lives in Baltimore City with her husband, son, and two silly dogs.
About the filmmaker – Nikiea Redmond received her Bachelors in Corporate Communication from the University of Baltimore in 2011. Growing up in East Baltimore Redmond became a mentor to the youth coming-of-age around her. Being a child in Baltimore’s impoverished neighborhoods, researching the history of slavery in her family, traveling with Freedom Schools focused on teaching African history – and working professionally in the public-school system has provided Redmond with the experience to tell the ‘Anatomy of Wings’ story with a direct understanding of societal makeups and the human rights she wishes to see in the world. Additionally, Redmond serves as a liaison bringing together political organizations, community groups and stakeholders in East Baltimore. The Afro-American Newspaper presented Redmond with the ‘Sam Lacy Award for Youth Leadership’ in 2004. She is also a 2015 recipient of the ‘Black Wall Street Journal Award’ for her work in Baltimore City.
THE TOXIC PIGS OF FUKUSHIMAfollows a lone hunter into an isolated and changedlandscape. Along the way, other citizens who still live near the reactor share their perspectives on the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 triggered a tsunami, nuclear meltdown and mass evacuations in Fukushima Prefecture. Today, as part of a Government push to encourage resettlement, local hunters have been enlisted to dispose of radiated Wild Boars that now roam the abandoned streets and buildings. THE TOXIC PIGS OF FUKUSHIMA focuses on the people who still live near the reactor share their perspectives on the aftermath. Along the way, other citizens who still live near the reactor share their perspectives on the aftermath. THE TOXIC PIGS OF FUKUSHIMA was inspired by the photographs of co-producers Toru Hanai and Yuki Iwanami. The original score was written and performed by renowned ambient artist Midori Takada. Directed by Otto Bell (The Eagle Huntress) THE TOXIC PIGS OF FUKUSHIMA has been acquired by VICE and will be featured in “The Short List with Suroosh Alvi,” an upcoming series from VICE World News. The Short List is a collection of the world’s best documentaries curated by VICE founder Suroosh Alvi.
**Official Selection – Telluride Film Festival 2020**
**WINNER – Rhode Island International Film Festival 2020 – Grand Prize, Green Planet Award
**Official Selection – Docs Without Borders Film Festival 2020
**Official Selection – Montclair Film Festival 2020
**Official Selection – St Louis Film Festival 2020
**WINNER – Thomas Edison – Black Maria Film Festival 2021
**Official Selection – Big Sky Film Festival 2021
About the filmmaker – Otto Bell runs Courageous, a commercial studio of filmmakers and designers based in New York. He has directed over fifteen documentary films as far afield as Uganda, Japan, Egypt and Vietnam for brands such as IBM and Philips. During a decade in the industry, he has also created and produced multi-award winning world affairs programming such as “Horizons” on BBC World News and “Shunya” on Times Now of India. Otto is a graduate of Oxford University and the prestigious WPP Fellowship Scheme. He lives in Manhattan, but originally hails from Northern England.
The Earthquake And Tsunami – The magnitude-9.1 earthquake struck March 11, 2011 at 2:46 PM. The epicentre was located some 80 miles (130 km) east of the city of Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, and the focus occurred at a depth of 18.6 miles (about 30 km) below the floor of the western Pacific Ocean. The earthquake triggered a shut down of the three active reactors at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant (Fukushima Dai-Ichi). The ensuing tsunami crippled the site, stopped the Fukushima I backup diesel generators, and caused a station blackout. The subsequent lack of cooling led to explosions and meltdowns at the Fukushima I facility, with problems at three of the six reactors and in one of the six spent-fuel pools. The March 11, 2011, earthquake was the strongest to strike the region since the beginning of record keeping in the late 19th century, and it is considered one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded. Hundreds of aftershocks, dozens of magnitude 6.0 or greater and two of magnitude 7.0 or greater, followed in the days and weeks after the main quake.
The Impact – Following the 2011 Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster, authorities shut down the nation’s 54 nuclear power plants. The Tokyo Electric Power CompanyFukushima Daiichi plant remains highly radioactive, with some 160,000 evacuees still living in temporary housing, and some land will be unfarmable for centuries. The difficult cleanup job will take 40 or more years, and cost many tens of billions of dollars, with total economic costs estimated at $250–$500 billion
In the world of Anmaere, north of the city of Whithren, wild horses run through the moorlands and up the coast. These horses are the city’s most valuable export and, as a result, are hunted, trapped, sold, and shipped across the sea once a year. For those in Whithren, this trade passage creates lucrative and exciting possibilities: the chance to escape their constantly sweltering city and escape to the Western continent of Levithen, or simply to begin again. Nothing can prepare audiences for the secrets, seduction, and sights of THE WANTING MARE, an intimate, dramatic fantasy epic written and directed by renowned digital artist Nicholas Ashe Bateman (visual effects supervisor of David Lowery’s upcoming The Green Knight). A technical marvel of digital world-building and independent ambition, the sprawling vistas, fantastical sights, and otherworldly tableaus of THE WANTING MARE were lensed almost entirely inside a warehouse in Paterson, New Jersey. Director, writer, and editor Nicholas Ashe Bateman joins us to talk about the five year journey of making THE WANTING MARE, the defining connection humans and horses share, the support he received from a dedicated group of friends and filmmakers, and the importance of Carl Jung.
THE WANTING MARE was written and directed by Nicholas Ashe Bateman, Executive Produced by Lawrence Inglee, and stars Jordan Monaghan, Yasmin Keshtkar, Edmond Cofie, Nicholas Ashe Bateman, Josh Clark, and Christine Kellogg-Darrin.
ACASA, MY HOME is set in the wilderness of the Bucharest Delta, an abandoned water reservoir just outside the bustling metropolis, Radu Ciorniciuc’a striking debut feature documentary follows the Enache family.The Enache’s have lived in perfect harmony with nature for two decades, sleeping in a hut on the lakeshore, catching fish barehanded, and following the rhythm of the seasons. When this area is transformed into a public national park, they are forced to leave behind their unconventional life and move to the city, where fishing rods are replaced by smartphones and idle afternoons are now spent in classrooms. As the family struggles to conform to modern civilization and maintain their connection to each other and themselves, they each begin to question their place in the world and what their future might be. With their roots in the wilderness, the nine children and their parents struggle to find a way to keep their family united in the concrete jungle. With an empathetic and cinematic eye, ACASA, MY HOME filmmakerRadu Ciorniciuc offers viewers, in his feature debut, a compelling tale of an impoverished family living on the fringes of society in Romania, fighting for acceptance and their own version of freedom. Director Radu Ciorniciuc stops by to talk about his profoundly personal exploration into the insulated and untamed lives of the Enache family as they navigate the grinding reality of an urban existence that threatens to tear them apart.
About the filmmaker – In 2012, Radu Ciorniciuc co-founded the first independent media organization in Romania – Casa Jurnalistului, a community of reporters specialized in in-depth, long-form and multimedia reporting. Since then, he has been working as a long-form writer and undercover investigative reporter. His researches are focused on human rights, animal welfare and environmental issues across the globe. His investigative and reporting work was published on most of the major international media organizations in the world – Channel 4 News, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, etc. – and received national and international awards. His journalistic work was acknowledged by Royal Television Society UK (2014), Amnesty International UK (2014), Harold Wincott Awards for Business, Economic and Financial Journalism (2016), and by other international and national prestigious institutions.
WINNER – Special Jury Prize for Cinematography Sundance Film Festival
WINNER – Phoenix Prize Best Documentary Cologne Film Festival
WINNER – Main Competition – Dok.Fest Munchen
WINNER – Olden Horn Award – Krakow Film Festival
WINNER – Best Moral Approach – 2020 Makedox
WINNER – Human Rights Award – Sarajevo Film Festival
WINNER – Special Jury Prize– Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival
WINNER – ZagrebDox– FIPRECI Award | Big Stamp Award | Little Stamp Award
Tribes on the Edgefollows filmmaker Céline Cousteau as she returns to the Brazilian Amazon after a fateful email from Beto of the Marúbo tribe who beckons her back to help tell his people’s story. Céline, who comes from a lineage of renowned explorers, ventures into the heart of the jungle to explore the health crises and the threats to land and human rights of the Indigenous Peoples of the Vale do Javari. From a history of invaders bringing devastating diseases, to ongoing illegal activities, to the alarming dismantling of all protection of their land and human rights by the government – these indigenous communities are fighting to protect their home, critical to the ecological balance of our planet, and as a result…they protect us. TRIBES ON THE EDGEis Céline’s first full feature documentary. The film is co-written by Joseph Kwong and Executive Produced by Bill Miller, Mercedes Zobel, James Cox and Çapkin Van Alphen. Director Celine Cousteau joins us for a lively conversation on the slow-motion genocide of indigenous people who happen to live in and steward some of the most ecologically valuable and endangered eco-system on the planet and how we can do something to stop the Brazilian government crime against humanity.
TRIBES ON THE EDGE took home the Special Jury Award at the Brazil International Film Festival, and the Impact Award at the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival. Additional festivals include Black Hills International Film Festival (Global Reach Award), ART & TUR International Film Festival (Ethnography and Society Award), United Nations Association Film Festival, San Diego International Film Festival, Earth X Festival, Jackson Wild Media Summit, Vision Du Reel Film Festival, San Francisco Green Film Festival, National Geographic Exodus Aveiro Festival (Portugal) and One Earth Film Festival.
About the filmmaker – Céline Cousteau, Expedition Leader, Director and Producer – Céline Cousteau is a humanitarian and environmental activist working with a variety of mediums that range from documentaries to art, from consulting with corporations and foundations to public speaking. Each form shares the same message of interconnectivity between humans and the natural world. As a documentary film director, producer, and presenter, Céline is the founder and executive director of CauseCentric Productions, creating cause-focused content. Extending her family legacy and her expertise, Céline co-founded The Outdoor Film Fellowship, a nonprofit program whose mission is to empower young the next generation of filmmakers, creatives, and activists to inspire change through leadership, film, and the arts. Céline is ambassador for the TreadRight Foundation and on the board of directors of the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Her previous work has included being Guest Designer for Swarovski and Member of the World Economic ForumCouncil on Oceans. With a degree in psychology and a masters in Intercultural Relations, Céline is fluent in three languages.
THE REASON I JUMP is an immersive cinematic exploration of neuro-diversity through the experiences of non-speaking autistic people from around the world, based on the best-selling book by Naoki Higashida. The film blends Higashida’s revelatory insights into autism, written when he was just 13, with intimate portraits of five remarkable young people. It opens a window for audiences into an intense and overwhelming, but often joyful, sensory universe. Moments in the lives of each of the characters are linked by the journey of a young Japanese boy through an epic landscape; narrated passages from Naoki’s writing reflect on what his autism means to him and others, how his perception of the world differs, and why he acts in the way he does: the reason he jumps. THE REASON I JUMP distills these elements into a sensually rich tapestry that leads us to Naoki’s core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say. Director Jerry Rothwell stops by to talk about his deeply empathetic look into the lives of people with autism from around the world, with each story broadening our perspective and understanding of what it means to be a neuro-diverse person.
About the filmmaker – Jerry Rothwell is a filmmaker whose work includes the award-winning feature documentaries: The Reason I Jump, based on the bestselling book by Naoki Higashida; How To Change The World, about the founders of Greenpeace; Sour Grapes (co-directed with Reuben Atlas) a film about a wine counterfeiter Town of Runners, about two girls in an Ethiopian village who aspire to be athletes; Donor Unknown, about a sperm donor and his many offspring; School In The Cloud, about radical educationalist, Sugata Mitra; Heavy Load, about a group of people with learning disabilities who form a punk band, and Deep Water (co-directed with Louise Osmond), about Donald Crowhurst’s ill-fated voyage in the 1968 round the world yacht race. His work has won numerous accolades including two Grierson Awards, a Sundance Special Jury Prize, an RTS Award, the IDA Pare Lorentz Award and a BAFTA nomination.
About the writer (The Reason I Jump) – Naoki Higashida was born in Kimitsu, Japan in 1992. Diagnosed with severe autism when he was five, he subsequently learned to communicate using a handmade alphabet grid and began to write poems and short stories. At the age of thirteen he wrote The Reason I Jump, which was published in Japan in 2007. Its English translation came out in 2013, and it has now been published in more than thirty languages. Higashida has since published several books in Japan, including children’s and picture books, poems, and essays. He continues to give presentations throughout Japan about his experience of autism.
WINNER – World Cinema Documentary Audience Award – Sundance FF 2020
NOMINEE – Best Cinematography – Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards 2020 NOMINEE – Best Feature – IDA Documentary Awards 2020 NOMINEE – Best Director – IDA Documentary Awards 2020 NOMINEE – Best Documentary – British Independent Film Awards 2020
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Wondrous… A work that enlightens and informs but that is also ravishing
to behold.” – Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter
“While The Reason I Jump is a profound and moving experience, one that isn’t easy to forget, it’s most effective when operating as an experimental work.” – John Fink, The Film Stage
“An inventive, sensuous documentary worthy of its source… This compassionate, creative documentary will open ears and eyes in equal measure.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“Exquisite… All aspects of this film deserve praise.” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen
Based on Richard Schinnow’s screenplay,TWO WAYS HOME compassionately follows Kathy (Tanna Frederick), a woman newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder who is released from prison on good behavior and returns to her country home in Iowa to reconnect with her estranged 12-year-old daughter (Rylie Behr) and her cantankerous elderly grandfather (Tom Bower). Her return home is turbulent and a rough, unwelcome transition in which Kathy must come to terms with her diagnosis and its implications on her identity, while also realizing that her family was happier when she was gone. As she struggles to maintain balance with her condition, complications with her daughter’s well-being and her grandfather’s health test her sense of self-worth to the limit. TWO WAYS HOME masterfully showcases Iowa’s small town beauty and sympathetically highlights the importance of mental wellness and self-discovery. Director Ron Vignone and actor / producer Tanna Frederick join us to talk about their collaboration in the making of a film that features a person dealing with a mental illness without making it the only thing we should care about in TWO WAYS HOME.
Tanna Frederick is an Actress, Producer, and Environmental Activist. She has starred in six feature films with film iconoclast Henry Jaglom, and has won numerous Best Actress awards on the festival circuit. Method Fest named her “One to Watch”; she has received the CineCause Award, the University of Iowa’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival’s Maverick Award. Tanna alongside director Randal Kleiser (Grease) created and launched DEFROST, a revolutionary virtual reality experience, premiering at Sundance and Cannes. She is the founder of ProjectSaveOurSurf.org hosting monthly beach cleanups and a camp, which has reached thousands of displaced youth in Southern California and Mexico, educating them on environmental issues in our oceans.
Ron Vignone is an award-winning director whose filmmaking revolves around issues that are deeply personal and important in his life. Two Ways Home, his latest effort, is an edgy slice of Americana about a woman living with bipolar condition who aims to reunite with her estranged teenage daughter in their sleepy Iowa hometown. “Taking the shame out of our conditions” was a theme that drew Ron to making Two Ways Home. A graduate of the University of Southern California, Vignone’s work as a filmmaker has focused on protagonists who embark on a physical journey while struggling with their deeply conflicted interiors. Ron’s inspirations come from compromising situations while traveling, his family, great literature, and strong Italian coffee.
TWO WAYS HOME has been officially endorsed by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
“TWO WAYS HOME… makes for a thoughtful, warm journey back to a place a lot of Americans will recognize, even those of us who moved away.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
‘”TWO WAYS HOME makes a valuable contribution to the public understanding of mental health issues and to reduce stigma surrounding them…” – Mitzi Wright, National Alliance on Mental Illness (LA, California chapter)
“With star Tanna Frederick producing, Two Ways Home was directed by Ron Vignone and filmed in Iowa. They found the right mix: one false move in any direction and the tone could have gone off the rails into hopeless Hallmark-channel schmaltz, or incomprehensible chaos. Amazingly, Frederick and Vignone masterfully created a moving film that pulls no punches while compassionately exploring life with mental illness.” – FIlm Threat
“One actress and film that stood out to us is Tanna Frederick from Two Ways Home. Tanna Frederick is captivating, raw, and lights up the screen. Frederick’s performance also provokes intense emotion from the audience. You find yourself rooting for her character, Kathy, who is fighting hard to put her family back together. Tanna Frederick is an incredibly gifted actress.” – GEMMA
“TWH will make a significant difference in people’s lives and is a powerful tool to further families’ understanding and education about bi-polar illness.” – Yin Simpson, National Alliance on Mental Illness (Minneapolis, MN chapter)
Tandem Pictures is a leader in conceiving and implementing eco-sustainable filmmaking practices in the indie film space,with all of their productions following Environmental Media Association standards and the Producers Guild’s Green Best Practices. They’re also an advocate for how these practices – from using hybrid vehicles on set, to having the sound and camera teams use rechargeable batteries, to composting and using metal straws – can and should be adopted industry-wide. Female owned and operated, it is Tandem’s mission is to bring female talent and narratives to the forefront. They embrace female-centric storytelling, and pride themselves on the fact that the casts and crews of their films are composed of underserved and underrepresented minority groups, LGBTQIA, and women.tandempictures.com
JULIE CHRISTEAS – Tandem Pictures – Founder, Chief Executive Officer Julie’s recent films include BLACK BEAR (Sundance 2020) starring Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon which will be released later this year by eOne/Momentum and THE SURROGATE (SXSW 2020/Monument Releasing) . She also executive produced the cult horror favorite THE EYES OF MY MOTHER (Sundance 2016/Magnet Releasing), MONOGAMY (Best NY Narrative, Tribeca Film Festival 2010), the feature doc DUKALE’S DREAM starring Hugh Jackman, and GHOST TEAM starring Jon Heder, David Krumholtz, Justin Long, Amy Sedaris and Melonie Diaz. Previously she produced BLOOD STRIPE (Jury Prize for Best Narrative Film, LA Film Festival 2016), WILDLIKE starring Bruce Greenwood and Brian Geraghty (HIFF), and THE SLEEPWALKER starring Christopher Abbott and Brady Corbet (Sundance 2014/IFC).
JONATHAN BLITSTEIN – Tandem Pictures – Co-owner, Chief Operating Officer Jonathan’s most recently produced the acclaimed films THE SURROGATE, and BLACK BEAR (SUNDANCE, EOne/Universal release) starring Aubrey Plaza. Prior to Tandem he worked in production and branded entertainment for Vudu, Sony and Disney, supporting Fortune 500 Brands such as Walmart, Sprint and Covergirl. At Oracle (formerly CrowdTwist), he initiated the creation of Marvel Studios’ first nationwide fan loyalty program Marvel Insider. In his early career, he made two micro-budget feature films LET THEM CHIRP AWHILE and ANOTHER KIND which both premiered at the Woodstock Film Festival which were distributed on Netflix and VOD. Early career roles include marketing arthouse films such as Park Chan Wook’s OLD BOY, and Noah Baumbach’s SQUID AND THE WHALE.