After marrying a successful Parisian writer known commonly as “Willy” (Dominic West), Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) is transplanted from her childhood home in rural France to the intellectual and artistic splendor of Paris. Soon after, Willy convinces Colette to ghostwrite for him. She pens a semi-autobiographical novel about a witty and brazen country girl named Claudine, sparking a bestseller and a cultural sensation. After its success, Colette and Willy become the talk of Paris and their adventures inspire additional Claudine novels. Colette’s fight over creative ownership and gender roles drives her to overcome societal constraints, revolutionizing literature, fashion and sexual expression. Director and screenwriter Wash Westmoreland stops by to talk about the story behind a remarkable trailblazing feminist, writer, performer and cultural icon whose influence has inspired artists for the last 100 years.
“Knightley is exceedingly well-equipped to carry this magnificent film on her own — an Oscar-nominated performance for sure.” – Jeanne Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan
“A witty, spirited portrait of the great French writer and libertine during the early Belle Époque years of her career.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“This timely and gorgeously shot account of a beloved French writer foregrounds Colette’s remarkable freedom from conventional norms as she finds her artistic voice.” – Erica Abeel, Film Journal International
“At first presenting itself as a tightly corseted Big Eyes set during the Belle Époque, Colette erupts into a fun, frothy, and unmistakably feminist biopic.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“The film has a towering performance from Keira Knightley, who plays Colette with such warmth and fiery feminism, that it would be hard not to make woman’s past run parallel with today’s world.” – Jordan Ruimy, The Playlist
America has the most technologically advanced health care system in the world, yet preventable medical harm has become one of the leading causes of death, and the overwhelming majority of high-risk implanted devices never require a single clinical trial. In THE BLEEDING EDGE, Academy Award nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (THE INVISIBLE WAR, THE HUNTING GROUND) turn their sights on the $400 billion medical device industry, examining lax regulations, corporate cover-ups, and profit driven incentives that put patients at risk daily.Weaving emotionally powerful stories of people whose lives have been irrevocably harmed, the film asks: what life-saving technologies may actually be killing us? Director Kirby Dick and Producer Amy Ziering join us for a conversation on the lack of integrity in the medical device industry, lax regulatory oversight by the Federal Food and Drug Administration and the potentially deadly combination that it can become.
Forty-five years after it revolutionized abortion law in America, the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade is once again at a crossroads. In their timely new documentary REVERSING ROE, filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK, MARATHON: THE PATRIOT’S DAY BOMBING) present a deeply illuminating look of the state of abortion and women’s rights in America. The film offers candid and riveting interviews with key figures from both sides of the divide, among them doctors Colleen McNicholas and Curtis Boyd; feminist icon Gloria Steinem; Operation Rescue president Troy Newman; and National Right to Life president Carol Tobias.Intense and unflinching in its commitment to telling the whole story, REVERSING ROE provides a gripping look at what’s happening on the ground in 2018. Drawing from a wealth of historical footage, it charts the period leading up to the Roe decision-and documents the opposition that has followed ever since.Regardless of where you stand on the issue of abortion, REVERSING ROE is essential viewing to understand how the country got here-and where it may be going. Co-directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg join us for an informed conversation on the long history and politics swirling around one of the country’s most divisive issues.
“As contentiousness turned into real-world consequences, “Reversing Roe” reminds us that the more women get involved regarding their rights, the more likely we’re to see a fair, principled fight.” – Robert Abele, Los Times
“Nothing new here but a good primer for those who never thought that politics has anything to do with their lives.” – Harvey S. Karten, Big Apple Reviews
“Solid and valuable but familiar.” – Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter
“Provides a clear and accessible overview of more than 50 years of the social and legal history of the issue in the United States.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
Although Hal Ashby directed a remarkable string of acclaimed, widely admired classics throughout the 1970s—HAROLD AND MAUDE, THE LAST DETAIL, SHAMPOO, COMING HOME, BEING THERE—he is often overlooked amid the crowd of luminaries from his generation. Amy Scott’s HAL is an exuberant portrait that explores that curious oversight, using rare archival materials, interviews, personal letters, and audio recordings to reveal a passionate, obsessive artist. Ashby was a Hollywood director who constantly clashed with Hollywood, but also a unique soul with an unprecedented insight into the human condition and an unmatched capacity for good. His films were an elusive blend of honesty, irreverence, humor, and humanity. Through the heartrending and inspiring HAL, you feel buoyed by Ashby’s love of people and of cinema, a little like walking on water. On camera interviews his many collaborators, including Oscar®-winning actors Lee Grant, Jane Fonda, Jon Voight, Louis Gossett Jr, Jeff Bridges and more recall how they were empowered by Ashby and granted them artistic freedom. Contemporary directors include Alexander Payne, Judd Apatow, Lisa Cholodenko, and David O. Russell attest to the quiet but powerful influence Ashby has had on their own filmmaking. Behind the camera colleagues Norman Jewison, Robert Towne, Haskell Wexler, and Pablo Ferro stand witness to Ashby’s brilliance as a filmmaker and the forces that led to his undoing. Director Amy Scott joins us to talk about her artistic connection to Hal Ashby, as editor and director, and her desire to correct many of the lingering misperceptions of Ashby through her riveting and loving film about a true maverick.
“If there’s still the sense that Ashby isn’t as sanctified as American New Wave stalwarts Coppola or Scorsese, Amy Scott’s breezy tribute of a documentary is out to correct that oversight.” – Robert Abele, TheWrap
“A vivid portrait of artistic integrity and complete commitment to the art of filmmaking.” – J.R. Kinnard
“Hal is a loving tribute to a filmmaker who rarely gets the attention he deserves.” – Brian Thompson, Film Threat
“Just before the documentary slips into hero worship, Amy Scott pries beneath the calm surface of her bearded and bespectacled subject to reveal the silent rage that fueled his work.” – A.J. Serrano, Slant Magazine
In her latest project,SNAPSHOTS, legendary actor Piper Laurie plays family matriarch Rose.. The story will resonate with every person who has lived through the complexity of family relationships, It reminds us that if we are loved no secret is too difficult to hear and accept. Or is it? Rose (Gran) is the matriarch. She has lived in this house for over fifty years. She and her deceased husband Joe raised their daughter Patty in this home. Patty, now a widow in her early 50’s, lives in St. Louis. Each year Patty and her newly married daughter Allison spend a laughter filled girl’s weekend with Gran. This year will be different. Piper Laurie joins us for a conversation on the making of her latest project (Snapshots) in a legendary film career that includes three Academy Award nominated performances (The Hustler, Carrie, Children of a Lesser God) and an Emmy nomination for David Lynch’s groundbreaking television serial (Twin Peaks).
“Performances all around are strong, with Piper Laurie’s Rose taking the lead and directing us through the story’s narrative. We are invited to soak in the retro atmosphere as the story unfolds at a leisurely pace.” – Paul Parcellin, Film Threat
For the past 25 years acclaimed photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield has travelled the world, documenting with ethnographic precision and an artist’s sensitivity a vast range of cultural movements and moments. Yet, after so much seeking and searching, she realized that much of her work pointed at one uniting phenomenon: wealth culture. With her new film, Generation Wealth, she puts the pieces of her life’s work together for in an incendiary investigation into the pathologies that have created the richest society the world has ever seen. Spanning consumerism, beauty, gender, body commodification, aging and more, Greenfield has created a comprehensive cautionary tale about a culture heading straight for the cliff’s edge. Generation Wealth, simultaneously a deeply personal journey, rigorous historical essay, and raucously entertaining expose, bears witness to the global boom-bust economy, the corrupted American Dream and the human costs of capitalism, narcissism and greed. Emmy-award-winning photographer / filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield’s expansive artistry includes her monographs (Girl Culture, Fast Forward, THIN, Generation Wealth), and documentaries (THIN, kids+money, The Queen of Versailles). The Queen of Versailleswon her the 2012 Best Documentary Director Award at Sundance Film Festival. Director Lauren Greenfield joins us to talk about her sweeping film and the damning indictment of a profligate world of depraved indifference, hell-bent on stockpiling pointless possessions.
“Through her dedication to other people’s lives, and with such open-book storytelling of her own, Greenfield is able to make a stunningly deeply resonant documentary about notions as seemingly obvious as the value of love over wealth itself.” – Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
“Greenfield makes a compelling argument for a society on the brink of precipitous decline, choosing to interpret the runaway vanity and rampant materialism observed in her own work as harbingers of our imminent destruction.” – Peter DeBruge, Variety
“This personal approach gives the film a sharp intimacy, and from here Greenfield pulls out to reveal how similar patterns are reshaping lives and families the world over.” – Nikki Baughan, Screen International
HALF THE PICTURE celebrates the groundbreaking work of female film directors and investigates the systemic discrimination that has, for decades, denied opportunities to far too many talented women in Hollywood. The film consists of interviews with high profile women directors including Ava DuVernay, Jill Soloway, Lena Dunham, Catherine Hardwicke and Miranda July, among many others, who discuss their early careers, how they transitioned to studio films or television, how they balance having a demanding directing career with family, as well as challenges and joys along the way. HALF THE PICTURE also includes interviews with experts about gender inequality in Hollywood including the ACLU’s Melissa Goodman, Sundance Institute’s Caroline Libresco, Vanity Fair’s Rebecca Keegan, USC’s Dr. Stacy Smith and San Diego State University’s Dr. Martha Lauzen, who establish the magnitude of this employment discrimination issue as women are shut out, across the board, of an industry that systemically denies their expression and point of view. HALF THE PICTUREDirector / Producer Amy Adrion joins us to talk about a unique time in the film industry where systemic change seems possible and whether, unlike previous efforts to address gender inequality in Hollywood, will this time be different?
“Half the Picture is a vital, comprehensive documentary on a subject that’s so fundamental to the industry it’s about, you have to wonder why dozens of movies on this scale or bigger haven’t already been made.” – Leslie Felperin
“Half The Picture is an inspiring, important documentary that should be seen by as many people as possible, particularly those who aren’t aware of the problems women face in Hollywood.” – Manon de Reeper, Film Inquiry
“Half the Picture, Amy Adrion’s no-frills documentary, offers a diligent, straightforward overview of the innumerable obstacles facing today’s female directors, both aspiring and accomplished.” – Natalia Winkelman, Film Threat
“A platform for those who want to hear about the reality of being a woman in Hollywood from dozens of women who have lived it, it’s an invaluable resource.” – Rebecca Pahle, Film Journal International
“It’s experiential revelation as advocacy filmmaking, an incisive and inviting example of the personal as political.” – Serena Donadoni, Village Voice
Presenting Michelle Pfeiffer in one of the most acclaimed performances of her storied career, Andrew Dosunmu’s WHERE IS KYRA? tells the story of Kyra Johnson, a middle-aged divorcee who moves into her elderly mother’s Brooklyn apartment while she looks for work and tries to get back on her feet. When her mother suddenly dies, Kyra is left without any support, both emotional and financial, and finds herself with very few options–none of them good. Despite a blossoming affair with a sympathetic neighbor (Kiefer Sutherland) with struggles of his own, Kyra can’t accept that her once-tidy life has fallen apart, and she resorts to increasingly desperate measures to hold onto what little she has left. Another unique and evocative portrait of life in contemporary New York City, WHERE IS KYRA? is Dosunmu’s follow-up to his award-winning feature, Mother of George, widely considered one of the best independent films of recent years. Re-teaming with writer Darci Picoult, cinematographer Bradford Young (Academy Award-nominated for Arrival, Selma), and composer Philip Young, Dosunmu brilliantly conveys the plight of a strong-willed, capable woman who nonetheless finds herself slipping through society’s cracks, and toppling from a stable, secure life to the very edge of ruin. Director Andrew Dosunmu joins us to talk about take on the “invisible” people living at the margins of our major urban centers, a collective loss of empathy, and the impact his photo-journalism work had on the making of this starkly beautiful film.
“This woman may be lost to the world, but in Dosunmu’s quietly shattering vision, she is also unexpectedly, triumphantly found.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“It’s a performance of such nuance and vulnerability, so quietly catastrophic in communicating this woman’s accumulation of loss.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone
“Where Is Kyra? finally allows [Pfeiffer] to explore the darker, unvarnished side of her talent and gives her the opportunity to do perhaps the best work of her lengthy, eclectic career.” – Christy Lemire, RogerEbert.com
“A shattering portrait of a luckless woman unable to pull out of the tailspin that is her life, “Where Is Kyra?” is a powerfully moody character study anchored by a remarkable performance from Michelle Pfeiffer.” – Tim Grierson, Screen International
“Rarely on film has the sheer debilitating exhaustion of poverty been so clearly conveyed.” – Bilge Ebiri, Village Voice
At the age of 26, Karl Marx (August Diehl; INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS, THE COUNTERFEITERS) embarks with his wife Jenny (Vicky Krieps; PHANTOM THREAD) on the road to exile. In 1844 Paris they meet young Friedrich Engels (Stefan Konarske), son of a factory owner and an astute student of the English proletariat class. Engels brings Marx the missing piece to the puzzle that composes his new vision of the world. Together, between censorship and police raids, riots and political upheavals, they will preside over the birth of the labor movement, which until then had been mostly makeshift and unorganized. This will grow into the most complete theoretical and political transformation of the world since the Renaissance – driven, against all expectations, by two brilliant, insolent and sharp-witted young men. In his first film since the Oscar®-nominated documentary I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, celebrated Haitian filmmaker Raoul Peck (LUMUMBA) paints a vivid portrait of another of history’s most influential thinkers with THE YOUNG KARL MARX. A fervently intelligent chronicling of the blood, sweat and debate that went into the creation of a manifesto and a movement, the film premiered at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival. Director Raoul Peck joins us for a lively conversation on capturing the essence of a young Marx and Engels relationship, the relevance of Marxism today and the critical reaction to his film.
Cinequest has led the world in its showcase and implementation of the innovations that have revolutionized film making, exhibition and distribution. Over 100,000 attend CQFF, yet the three-block proximity of its state-of-the-art venues along with Cinequest’s renowned hospitality, makes the festival experience as warm and personal as it is electrifying. Cinequest presents over 90 World and U.S. premieres with groundbreaking innovations by 700+ participating filmmakers from over 50 countries each year. Set in the home of the world’s most influential media technology companies (Apple, Cisco, Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, LinkedIn etc.) CQFF showcases premier films, renowned and emerging artists, and breakthrough technology—empowering global connectivity between creators, innovators and audiences. Michael Rabehl has been a member of the Cinequest team since 1994. As the Director of Programming he manages the film selection process for the festival and supervises the programming teams to create a world class line up of films and guests every year. In his role as the Associate Director he is directly involved with the strategic planning of the festival. Michael joins us to talk about the 2018 Conquest film and virtual reality line-up.
Cinequest Film and Virtual Reality Film Festival February 27 – March 11, 2018
“Move over Cannes! Of the more than 4,000 film festivals around the globe, more than half take place on U.S. soil, and many rank among the best of the best. Our panel of film experts, movie buffs and festival gurus were tasked with narrowing down the field to the best 20 film festivals in the nation before we turned it over to USA TODAY and 10Best readers to choose their favorites. After four weeks of voting, we have a winner. Cinequest Voted Best Film Festival!” — USA Today
“Technology always drives the film business. In Cinequest, we have a good window on the future. I think they’re leading the world in this regard.” — Peter Belsito, Executive Vice President, Film Finders
“This festival is one that sets the trends and is actually ahead of the trends. Other festivals are copying Cinequest; I see it all the time.” — Chris Gore, Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide and Film Threat
“At Cinequest you often haven’t heard of the film before you go see it, but the audiences come anyway. That’s a testament to the festival — that audiences are willing to take that leap of faith.” — Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
Carter Pilcher founded Shorts International in 2000. Coming from a background in both investment banking and law, Carter has made Shorts International the world’s leading short movie Entertainment Company, functioning as distributor, broadcaster and producer. Carter has extensive experience in short movie production and short movie entertainment. He is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a member of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch of The US Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) – the guys who pick the Oscars. Carter, originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, received a B.S. from the U.S. Air Force Academy, a J.D. from Georgetown University, is a member of the New York Bar and attended the London Business School Corporate Finance Evening Program. Carter Pilcher has been and continues to be the highlight of Oscar season here on Film School. His insight, commitment and love of films and filmmaking always makes for a lively and informative conversation on some of the best films you will see all year.
Heroin(e) focuses on the once a bustling industrial town, Huntington, West Virginia. Huntington has become the epicenter of America’s modern opioid epidemic, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average. This flood of heroin now threatens this Appalachian city with a cycle of generational addiction, lawlessness, and poverty. But within this distressed landscape, Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon (Hollow) shows a different side of the fight against drugs — one of hope. Sheldon highlights three women working to change the town’s narrative and break the devastating cycle of drug abuse one person at a time. Fire Chief Jan Rader spends the majority of her days reviving those who have overdosed; Judge Patricia Keller presides over drug court, handing down empathy along with orders; and Necia Freeman of Brown Bag Ministry feeds meals to the women selling their bodies for drugs. As America’s opioid crisis threatens to tear communities apart, the Netflix original short documentary HEROIN(E) shows how the chain of compassion holds one town together. Director Elaine McMillion Sheldon is a Peabody Award winning, Emmy nominated filmmaker and now Oscar nominated from West Virginia. HEROIN(E) was produced in association with the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), as part of a new initiative to support women filmmakers. In 2016, Chicken & Egg Pictures awarded her with the inaugural “Breakthrough Filmmaker” award. Sheldon was a 2013 Future of Storytelling Fellow, and named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2013 by Filmmaker Magazine and one of “50 People Changing The South” in 2015 by Southern Living Magazine. She has also contributed several shorts to The New York Times Op-Docs. She joins us to talk about her clear-eyed, bracing film that shines a bright and intimate light on an epidemic that is destroying large swaths of American society.
God Knows Where I Am is the story of Linda Bishop, a well-educated New Hampshire mother who suffered from severe bipolar disorder with psychosis, who was intermittently incarcerated and homeless, inevitably being committed for three years to a state psychiatric facility. Successfully fighting her sister’s protective attempts to be named her legal guardian, Linda was able to refuse treatment and medication, and eventually procured an early, unconditional release, despite the lack of post release planning. Upon her release, she wandered ten miles down the road from the hospital, broke into an abandoned farmhouse and lived off of rainwater and apples picked from a nearby orchard for the next four months, through one of the coldest winters on record. For nearly four months, Linda Bishop, a prisoner of her own mind, survived on apples and rain water, waiting for God to save her, during one of the coldest winters on record. Unable to leave the house, she became its prisoner, and remained there, a prisoner of her own mind, eventually starving to death. Her body was discovered several months later and with it a diary that Linda kept documenting her journey. The diary, given voice by actress Lori Singer, is poignant, beautiful, funny, spiritual, and deeply disturbing. As her story unfolds from different perspectives, including her own, we learn about our systemic failure to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Over the last 16 years co-directors Jedd and Todd Wider have produced many of the most critically and commercially successful feature documentary films including, King’s Point (2012) nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short, the multiple Primetime Emmy and Peabody Award winning Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012) directed by Alex Gibney, the Emmy Award nominated Semper Fi: Always Faithful (2011) directed by Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon, the multiple Emmy Award nominated Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010) directed by Alex Gibney Peabody Award and 2008 Academy Award Winner for Best Documentary and 2009 Emmy Award Winner for Best Documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) also directed by Alex Gibney, and many more. In 2011, Todd Wider and Jedd Wider were each nominated by the Producers Guild of America for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures. Co-director Jedd and Todd Wider join us to talk about their haunting new documentary.
“A film of great beauty and tenderness that gradually reveals a confounding mental illness, this film is a human story at its heart. Ultimately, it illuminates a hidden problem of vast proportion with an epic yet intimate cinematic vision.” – Jury, Hot Docs
“MUST SEE AT HOT DOCS: God Knows Where I Am will break your heart but also empower you to question, be helpful and provide encouragement to the vulnerable in our lives. God Knows Where I Am is wonderfully shot and captures the isolation, desperation and human condition at its essence.” – Thirty-Four Flavours
“Throughout the beautiful, evocative, and ultimately heartbreaking tale of Linda Bishop, the Widers use a variety of cameras and film formats to grant the movie an almost dreamlike feel, and they’re aided immeasurably by Bishop’s meticulous daily journal, which is read with tenderness and humanity by Lori Singer, bringing Bishop elegantly to life as the chronicler of her own story.” – Christopher Orr, The Atlantic
“I’ve seen God Know Where I Am three times. It’s not only rich and layered enough to hold up on every viewing, but on an emotional level, I wept profusely – again and again and yet again. This is great cinema and certainly a contender for one of the best documentaries of the new millennium. It captures profound poetic truths about homelessness, mental illness and loneliness which are rendered with such artistry and sensitivity that this is a film for the ages. 5 out of 5 stars.” – The Film Corner
Joe’s Violin – During a drive to donate musical instruments to public schools, 91-year-old Holocaust survivor Joseph Feingold offers his beloved violin, which he has played for more than 70 years. The instrument goes to the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls, where young musician Brianna Perez is inspired to become friends with her benefactor. Joining us will be Director Kahane Cooperman to talk about this beautifully told story about survival, and the ties that bind us together. 2017 Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Short Film.
Pear Cider and Cigarettes – Hard-living Techno Stypes has been Robert’s best friend since childhood, and over the years, Robert has been amazed by Techno’s ability to sabotage himself. When Techno is hospitalized in China and needs a liver transplant, Robert goes on a wild ride to get him home to Vancouver. Director(s) Robert Valley and Cara Speller stop to discuss the creative process and determination behind their visually striking vision of friendship and heartbreak. 2017 Academy Award nomination for Best Animated Short Film.
SHORTSHD™TO RELEASE OSCAR® NOMINATED SHORT FILMS 2017 IN THEATRES NATIONALLY BEGINNING ON FRIDAY FEBRUARY 10
World’s Only Short Movie Channel To Showcase Oscar Shorts Release with Theatrical Premieres of Live Action Short, Animated Short and Documentary Short Categories
This marks the 12th consecutive year of the Oscar® nominated short films theatrical experience and is the only opportunity for audiences to watch the nominated short films prior to the 89th Academy Awards® ceremony on Sunday, February 26, 2017.“This year’s Oscar Nominated Shorts are formidable storytelling at its best,” said Carter Pilcher, CEO of ShortsHD, the TV network behind the annual theatrical compilations.“Short films are exploding in popularity around the globe, and these Oscar® noms are the pinnacle—and ShortsHD’s theatrical release is the only way to see this year’s Live Action, Animation and Documentary shorts nominees on the big screen, a delight for movie fans the world over.”ShortsHD™ is the first high definition channel dedicated to short movies and is available on DIRECTV (Channel 573), and AT&T U-Verse (Channel 1789), CenturyLink Prism TV (1789), Verizon Fios TV, Frontier Communications (Channel 1789), Google Fiber. ShortsHD™ is operated by Shorts International, the world’s leading short movie entertainment company with the world’s largest movie catalogue dedicated to short movies. Shorts™ is the short movie on-demand service available on iTunes movie stores in 54 countries across the globe and Amazon Instant Video. The company is headquartered in London, England with an additional office in Los Angeles and is led by Carter Pilcher, Chief Executive. Find them on Facebook: facebook.com/shortshd and twitter: twitter.com/shortshd.For a sneak peak at The Oscar® Nominated Short Films 2017 program, please visit: http://shorts.tv/theoscarshorts/
In the late 1930s China is in dire straits. The country will collapse under Japan’s military juggernaut if it doesn’t get outside help. Chinese American firebrand Li Ling-Ai jolts Americans into action with a new medium — 16mm Kodachrome color film. She hires photo-journalist Rey Scott to travel to China and capture a citizen’s perspective of the war-torn country, including the massive bombing of the wartime capital Chungking (now Chongqing). Their landmark film KUKAN screens for President Franklin Roosevelt at the White House, is called “awesome” by the New York Times, and receives one of the first Academy Awards for a feature documentary in 1942. Why have we never heard of Li Ling-Ai? And why have all copies of KUKAN disappeared? FINDING KUKAN uses rare and unseen archival footage to create an unforgettable portrait of a female filmmaking pioneer, and sheds light on the long history of racial and gender discrimination behind the camera, which continues to reverberate in Hollywood today. Director / Producer Robin Lung stops by to talk about the 7-year quest to find the answers to a multitude of questions.
The latest documentary from the renowned filmmaking team of Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker (The War Room), UNLOCKING THE CAGE follows trailblazing animal rights lawyer Steven Wise in his challenge to break down the legal wall that separates animals from humans.UNLOCKING THE CAGEpremiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Given that the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are people, why not chimps? Attorney Steven Wise and his legal team, the Nonhuman Rights Project, are making history by filing the first lawsuits that seek to transform an animal from a “thing” with no rights to a “person” with legal protections. Supported by affidavits from primatologists around the world, Wise maintains that, based on scientific evidence, cognitively complex animals such as chimpanzees, whales, dolphins and elephants have the capacity for limited personhood rights that would protect them from abuse. The filmmakers capture Wise’s progress: from the halls of academia to animal sanctuaries and zoos, and finally into the courtrooms where he makes a compelling case on behalf of four captive chimpanzees in New York State.UNLOCKING THE CAGE captures a monumental shift in our culture, as the public and judicial system show increasing receptiveness to Wise’s impassioned arguments. It is a provocative and intimate look at a lawsuit that could forever transform our legal system, and one man’s lifelong quest to protect “nonhuman” animals. Among the most renowned and accomplished documentary filmmakers ever, co-directors Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker join us to talk about their latest groundbreaking film.
“Thoughtful, Compelling and Heroic. The film made me proud to be a primate.” – Jon Stewart
“In their new documentary, D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus bring their relaxed, acute observational style of filmmaking to bear on a thorny tangle of legal and philosophical questions. Observant and absorbing.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times
“Engaging… makes a worthy case for reconsidering the sturdiness of laws that explicitly separate humans from animals. With legal-thriller pacing and emotional intelligence, it chronicles attorney Steven Wise’s gung-ho effort to get a U.S. court to recognize a chimpanzee as a legal person with protections, as opposed to a legal “thing” without rights.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
“A smart, heroic act of film-making. This compassionate and distinctive work is a combination of single-minded legal drama and humane consciousness raising possibilities. It is a story about something that is often very near to our hearts.” – Isa Freeling and Deborah Kane, The Huffington Post
From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Roger Ross Williams (“Music by Prudence”), is the inspirational story of Owen Suskind, a young man who was unable to speak as a child until he and his family discovered a unique way to communicate by immersing themselves in the world of classic Disney animated films. This emotional coming-of-age documentary follows Owen as he graduates to adulthood and takes his first steps toward independence. The subject of his father Ron Suskind’s New York Times bestseller, Owen was a thriving three-year-old who suddenly and inexplicably went silent—and for years after remained unable to connect with other people or to convey his thoughts, feelings or desires. Over time, through repeated viewings of Disney classics like The Little Mermaid and The Lion King, Owen found useful tools to help him to understand complex social cues and to re-connect with the world around him. Life, Animated evocatively interweaves classic Disney sequences with vérité scenes from Owen’s life in order to explore how his identification and empathy for characters like Simba, Jafar and Ariel gave him a means to understand his feelings and allowed him to interpret reality. Director and Producer Roger Ross Williams (God Love Uganda) joins us to talk about the challenge of presenting a balanced portrait of Owen Suskind and his family.
Winner of the Audience Award – San Francisco Film Festival
Winner of the Audience Award – Full Frame Film Festival
Winner of the Directing Award – Sundance Film Festival, Life, Animated
“A captivating portrait of a young man for whom Disney animated movies have provided a powerful lifeline to progress, language and understanding. – Justin Chang, Variety
“Williams smartly devotes large portions of the documentary to Owen on his own, letting him explain his fears himself rather than relying on the other Suskinds for clarification and translation. – Noel Murray, A.V. Club
“Incredibly moving documentary takes us into the interior life of an autistic person, and explores how films helped him communicate with the outside world.” – Lanre Bakare, The Guardian
“Instead of false hope, it offers up possibility, the chance of a stimulus that might get past the blocks of developmental disorder.”- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
MARCH OF THE LIVING tells the story of the last generation of Holocaust survivors traveling to Poland with thousands of teenagers from around the world to revisit the sites of the Holocaust and retrace the Death March fromAuschwitz to Birkenau, in a journey of remembrance. Filmed in Brazil, Germany, Poland, Israel and the US, the film tells the moving story of the survivors’ hope of passing down their history and memory of the Holocaust to the next generation. MARCH OF THE LIVING follows survivors and teens from Sao Paulo, Los Angeles and Berlin on an emotional journey as they confront the enormity of the past and the possibility of hope in a visit to Israel on its 60th anniversary. A contemporary and unique look at the Holocaust, the film features striking cinematography of the concentration camps today and images and artifacts never seen. MARCH OF THE LIVING raises questions about Holocaust memory as it relates to genocides worldwide today, and about what will happen when the remaining survivors, now in their 80’s and 90’s, will be gone. MARCH OF THE LIVING director and writer Jessica Sanders joins us to talk about the desire of Holocaust survivors to share their memories and the hope that the world will say once and for all never again to racism, indifference, anti-semitism and injustice.
Gloria Vanderbilt and her youngest son, Anderson Cooper, come together with Academy Award nominated director Liz Garbus to reflect on their extraordinary personal history. Born under a name synonymous with wealth, fortune and New York royalty, Gloria Vanderbilt has lived in the public eye for over ninety years, unapologetically pursuing love, family, and career, and experiencing extreme tragedy and tremendous success side by side. Now, through Gloria’s charming and unique artwork, coupled with rare personal footage, and narrated by candid conversations between mother and son, we see her as never before. Gloria and Anderson tell the story of their pasts and presents, losses and loves, revealing how, in life, our family stories repeat themselves in the most unexpected ways. HBO will debut NOTHING LEFT UNSAID: GLORIA VANDERBILT & ANDERSON COOPER exclusively on Saturday, April 9. Academy Award® nominated director Liz Garbus is one of the most celebrated American documentary filmmakers working today; her films have been acclaimed worldwide, and have garnered multiple Academy Award® nominations and Emmy Award wins. Garbus’ most recent documentary, What Happened, Miss Simone? was the Opening Night film of the2015 Sundance Film Festival and had its theatrical and worldwide release on Netflix in June. Garbus’ first documentary film, The Farm: Angola, USA, won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, was awarded ten other festival and critics’ awards, and was nominated for an Academy Award® in 1998. She stops by to talk about a remarkably accomplished woman who has spent her entire life in the withering glare of public and the press and the complex and loving relationship she has with her accomplished son, Anderson Cooper.
GLORIA VANDERBILT TELLS THE STORY OF HER REMARKABLE LIFE IN THE POIGNANT DOCUMENTARY NOTHING LEFT UNSAID: GLORIA VANDERBILT & ANDERSON COOPER, DEBUTING APRIL 9, EXCLUSIVELY ON HBO.
In the Academy Award nominated short documentary film Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah director Adam Benzine explores the arduous 12-year journey that led to the creation of one of the most important films of our time. Coinciding with the 30th anniversary of the release of Shoah — Claude Lanzmann’s nine-and-a-half-hour examination of the Holocaust of European Jews — this documentary reveals for the first time the trials and tribulations the French iconoclast faced. Notably, the film features an array of previously unseen outtake footage that was shot during the creation of Shoah, to illustrate Lanzmann’s journey from the bright-eyed journalist of 1973 to the world-weary auteur of 1985. The outtake footage has been digitally restored and was provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Israel’s Yad Vashem. In addition to exploring the making of Shoah the documentary also reflects on several key points in Lanzmann’s life, including his teenage years fighting in the French resistance, his love affair with Simone de Beauvoir and his deep friendship with Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as his hopes and expectations for the future. Claude Lanzmann: Spectres of the Shoah is the first major documentary to be made on the life of the 90-year-old auteur. Writer, producer and director British filmmaker and journalist Adam Benzine joins us for an in-depth conversation on the Lanzmann, the remarkable story behind the making of Shoah and the tremendous impact Shoah has had on our collective understanding of Holocaust.
The **2016 Academy Award nominated Best Foreign Language Film is at once blistering and poetic in its examination of the ravages of colonialism and the dark shadow it casts over the South American landscape in EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT. It is director Ciro Guerra third film and the first film shot in the Amazonian rainforest in over 30 years. Filmed in stunning black-and-white, the film centers on Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people, and the two scientists (Evan and Theo, portrayed by Brionne Davis and Jan Bijvoet) who, over the course of 40 years, build a friendship with him. The film was inspired by the real-life journals of two explorers (Theodor Kock-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes) who traveled through the Colombian Amazon during the last century in search of the sacred and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna plant. EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it was awarded the top prize, the CIACE Art Cinema Award, and is Colombia’s official Oscar® entry for Best Foreign Language Film. Director Ciro Guerra and Brionne Davis stop by Film School to talk about the many challenges of filming in the jungles of Brazil and the rewards of shining a spotlight on the brutality of European colonial dominance over indigenous people.
** 2016 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film
* 2016 Spirit Award nominee for Best International Film
“An intense journey and very rewarding visual feast.” Nathaniel Rogers, THE FILM EXPERIENCE
“Shot on sumptuous Super 35, the black and white photography lends itself to the film’s sorrowful ode to a world devastated, but it is the ceaseless teeming life of the soundtrack that transports the audience into the midst of the rainforest.” – Ben Nicholson, CINEVUE
“A visual astonishment… There’s no denying the film’s chastening moral conviction or the transfixing power of its black-and-white imagery.Not just an ethnographic study but also a striking act of cinematic witness.” – Justin Chang, Variety
“‘Embrace of the Serpent’ is simply a work of art, and one of the most singular cinematic experiences you could hope to have in Cannes, or anywhere really. It’s an absorbing, even thrilling head trip. It is a Heart-of-Darkness voyage of discovery. It is a lament for all the lost plants and peoples of the world.” – Jessica Kiang, Indiewire’s “The Playlist”
In the **2016 Academy Award nominated Best Foreign Language film A WAR, company commander Claus M. Pedersen (Pilou Asbæk) and his men are stationed in an Afghan province. Meanwhile, back in Denmark, Claus’ wife Maria (Tuva Novotny) is trying to hold everyday life together with a husband at war and three children who are missing their father. During a routine mission, the soldiers are caught in heavy crossfire and in order to save his men, Claus makes a decision that has grave consequences for not only him, but also for his family back home. Award winning director Tobias Lindholm (A Hijacking, Bodil, The Hunt) and lead actor Pilou Asbaek (A Hijacking, Bodil, Ben-Hur (2016)) join us for an insightful conversation into the brutal and amoral circumstance of an urban war environment that often leaves participants with no right answers.
** 2016 Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film
“Rigorous and engrossing. It scrutinizes the Afghanistan conflict with consummate sensitivity and detail. A particularly gutsy showcase for Pilou Asbæk.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“Tremendous. Beautifully written. The sense of directorial sureness throughout can’t be overstated.” – Jessica Kiang, Indiewire’s “The Playlist”
“The action in “A War” unfolds so spontaneously, and unpredictably, that you share the young soldiers’ sense of danger without realizing it at first.” – The Wall Street Journal
“A tightly-wound, gripping story that evokes the pressures that these men feel and the solid bonds of attachments to their buddies. Few films have done a better job of examining the notion that there is often a difficulty between the law and justice.” – Harvey Karten, Showbiz
This **Academy Award nominated story about the friendship of two boys that is tested to its limits, as they battle for survival during the Kosovo War. Based on true events, SHOK is set during the escalation of the Kosovo War when the country was occupied by Serbia. Two young Kosovan boys, Petrit and Oki, are best friends. After Oki buys a bike, Petrit is desperate to have one of his own. Building a steady network of clients and contacts, Petrit drags Oki into ever more dangerous situations until their lives are put at risk. Oki’s bicycle is taken away by a soldier and given to a Serbian boy instead. Escalating effects of war become even more intense for these boys and their families. And as their relationship is tested to the limits, they encounter the true intentions of the Serbians and learn the meaning of friendship. SHOK is based on true events of the film’s producer/actor Eshref Durmishi – who was a young boy during these tumultuous times in Kosovo. Director – writer Jamie Donoughue and Durmishi join us to talk about the making of this wrenching drama and the lessons learned from years of brutal civil war.
** 2016 Academy Award nominated – Live Action Short Film
Body Team 12 is tasked with collecting the victims at the height of the Ebola outbreak. These body collectors have arguably the most dangerous and gruesome job in the world. The story is told on the ground in Monrovia, Liberia through the eyes of the only female member of the team, Garmai Sumo. A mother and a caretaker, Garmai posesses a certain type of maternal heroism. And through Garmai, we see the heartbreaking, lifesaving work of removing bodies from loved ones in order to halt the transmission of the disease. Director David Darg shot the film himself at great personal risk in an effort to humanize the workers he felt were saving the world. He edited the film while in quarantine upon returning to the United States.
Director David Darg on the making of Body Team 12: “Being on the ground during the height of the viral Ebola outbreak in 2014, I was astonished by the bravery of Liberia’s Ebola body teams, and in particular, Garmai Sumo, the female body collector featured in the film BODY TEAM 12. I was immediately inspired by her – by her fearlessness, determination and love for her community. History is defined by people who stood up against huge odds to fight immense battles. If it was not for the courage of the body teams, the Ebola epidemic would be far worse. Africa, and ultimately the world, owes so much to this small group of brave young Liberians. I hope BODY TEAM 12 earns them gratitude from people all around the globe.”
** 2016 Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary – Short Subject
“… it is Body Team 12 that clutches at the heart. Not only is Sumo a redemptive presence in an apocalyptic moment in her country’s history, but she represents the best in all of us. For that reason, Darg and Mooser might just nab the Oscar.” – Film Journal
“It’s a showcase of the human spirit and a selfless attitude to do what’s necessary for the greater good because today’s generation deserves the chance to have the same future every generation before them had. It’s also a memorial for the nameless and faceless victims… Darg gives them something with his film by immortalizing them through Sumo’s mission. And one day it’ll all be worth it.” – Jared Mubarek
Chau, Beyond the Lines Chau, a teenager living in a Ho Chi Minh care center for children disabled by Agent Orange, battles with the reality of his dream to one day become a professional artist.
Director Courtney Marsh on the making ofChau, Beyond the Lines: “Eight years ago, I traveled to Vietnam with a classmate to make a documentary on the plight of the street kids in Ho Chi Minh City. However, not too long into our trip, we were introduced to a small care center for kids disabled by Agent Orange, tucked away in the back of a maternity hospital. When I entered, something struck deep inside me and I decided to volunteer there for a week, becoming close with the kids almost instantly. I asked them if I could film their lives, and thus, began a two month journey that would span out into my 8-year endeavor. And as I finished this film, what I saw and began to believe was the truth of the unconquerable human spirit. I focused on Chau’s story because of the relentless pursuit for his dream to be an artist. He taught me to hope in a world where, most often than not, there is a lack of such. If we could all look at the larger picture, focus on what we have rather than what we don’t have, perhaps our seemingly impossible dreams would be actually within our reach.” Director Marsh joins us for a conversation on the remarkable spirit of Chau and the impact that Agent Orange has had, and continues to have on the people of Vietnam.
Since founding Shorts International in 2000, Carter Pilcher has worked to make his company the world’s leading short movie entertainment company. Shorts International has become the first choice distributor, broadcaster and producer for hundreds of films. Carter has extensive experience in short movie production and short movie entertainment. He is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a member of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch of The US Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) – the guys who pick the Oscars. Carter talks to us about the fifteen wonderful films nominated for the Live Action, Documentary and Animated Short Film 2016 Academy Awards.