The People vs. Agent Orange – Co-directors Alan Adelson & Kate Taverna

As the latest film from filmmakers Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna lays bares the dioxin-based defoliant, insecticide, Agent Orange catastrophe did not end with the Vietnam War. Today, the world over, a primary chemical of the toxic defoliant controls weeds in farming, forestry, parks, even on children’s playgrounds. Agent Orange wreaks havoc on the human genome, causing deformed births and deadly cancers. After decades of struggle and tragic personal losses, two heroic women are leading a worldwide movement to end the plague and hold the manufacturers accountable. In France, Tran To Nga is suing the American chemical industry for poisoning her in Vietnam. In America, Carol Van Strum exposes the continuing use of toxic herbicides in the Pacific Northwest. Incriminating documents disappear. Activists are threatened. A helicopter technician secretly films the contamination of reservoirs, while a massive industrial cover-up goes on. The People vs. Agent Orange co-directors Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna join us for a conversation on the journey of two women, joned together in their mutual pain, resist intimidation and threats, bringing to light the ongoing, intergenerational catastrophe of chemical warfare and toxic herbicides in the hope of bringing the manufacturers and business related perpetrators to justice.

For news and updates go to: javafilms.film/the-people-vs-agent-orange

Jury Award at Eugene Environmental Film Festival 2020

About the filmmakers: Kate Taverna and Alan Adelson produced and co-­directed In Bed with Ulysses as well as Lodz Ghetto, both of these widely acclaimed films had nationwide theatrical releases. Lodz Ghetto was short-listed for the Best Feature Documentary Oscar. Adelson and Taverna also collaborated on Two Villages in Kosovo, In Bed with Ulysses and Agent Orange: La derniere bataille, an adaptation of The People vs. Agent Orange made for Arte in French and German. Alan Adelson works in both film and print: as a page-one investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal and national magazines he made worldwide headlines exposing the disappearance of enough enriched plutonium to make two Hiroshima-sized bombs. Early in his journalistic career he published investigative articles on the chemical industry. Kate Taverna has edited more than 50 films over her career: Asylum and Killing in the Name were the Academy Award nominees in the Best Short documentary category in 2004 and 2011 respectively. The feature length Pray the Devil Back to Hell won the Best Documentary award at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry won the Audience award at the 2014 Boston Independent Film Festival, released theatrically nationwide and was translated into 22 languages andshown globally on Netflix.Her broadcast editing work has been seen on CBS, IFC, A&E, BBC and PBS, among others. 

Films for Humanity is proud to present the US virtual theatrical release of THE PEOPLE vs AGENT ORANGE, a documentary film by Kate Taverna and Alan Adelson. Winner of the Jury Award at the 2020 Eugene Environmental Film Festival, the film will have a virtual release at the New Plaza Cinema in New York, at Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles and in other cities on March 5, 2021

Hunger Ward – Director Skye Fitzgerald

Filmed from inside two of the most active therapeutic feeding centers in Yemen, HUNGER WARD documents two female health care workers fighting to thwart the spread of starvation against the backdrop of a forgotten war. HUNGER WARD provides an unflinching portrait of Dr. Aida Al Sadeeq and Nurse Mekkia Mahdi as they try to save the lives of hunger-stricken children within a population on the brink of famine. HUNGER WARD is the third installment of Director Skye Fitzgerald’s Humanitarian Trilogy, focused on the global refugee crisis. The first film, 50 FEET FROM SYRIA focused on doctors working on the Syrian border and was Oscar® shortlisted. The second, LIFEBOAT documents search and rescue operations off the coast of Libya and was nominated for an Academy Award® and national Emmy®. Director Skye Fitzgerald (Lifeboat, 50 Feet from Syria, Finding Face) joins us for a conversation on the making of his 2021 Oscar® Shortlisted Hunger Ward documentary, how little American mass media has talked about the ongoing genocidal war against a defenseless civilian population – done with diplomatic,  political backing by the Trump Administration, as well as, intelligence and logistical support from the US military – and what we can do to stop it.

For news and updates go to: hungerward.org

2021 Oscar® shortlist – Best Documentary (Short form)

About the filmmaker – Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Documentary Branch). Oscar/Emmy/IDA-Nominated Director Skye Fitzgerald is directing The Humanitarian Trilogy: HUNGER WARD (2020) documents the impact of the war and famine in Yemen on children, families, and health care workers. LIFEBOAT (2018) highlights search and rescue operations off the coast of Libya and was nominated for an Academy Award® and national Emmy® award. 50 FEET FROM SYRIA (2015) focuses on doctors working on the Syrian border and was voted onto the Oscar® shortlist. Fitzgerald was also inducted as an honorary member into SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society) for his work with Syrian refugees and named a Distinguished Alumnus at his alma mater EOU for documentary work. As a Fulbright Research Scholar Fitzgerald directed the film Bombhunters and has since worked with the Sundance Institute, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the State Department, the Paul Robeson Fund and Mountainfilm. As a Director of Photography, Fitzgerald lenses work for major clients including Dateline, VICE, Mercy Corps, CNN, the Discovery, Travel, History and Animal Planet Channels. For more on Skye Fitzgerald go to: spinfilm.org

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Critical reactions to Skye Fitzgerald’s work:

“…a rare look inside the human impact of the war in Yemen” – Jane Ferguson – PBS NewsHour

“Once you see it, you won’t forget it.” – Sarah Larson – THE NEW YORKER 

“Fitzgerald has sought to harness this art-form to draw attention those who are struggling to obtain their most basic, fundamental human freedoms. LIFEBOAT…is vitally important.” – US HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION 

“…deftly addresses the most critical humanitarian issue of our time and those who are doing something about it.” – Michael Brody – Programmer Crested Butte FF  

“…visually brutal…a harrowing package.”  – VARIETY  

17 Blocks – Director Davy Rothbart

In 1999, filmmaker Davy Rothbart met Emmanuel Sanford-Durant and his older brother, Smurf, during a pickup basketball game in Southeast Washington, D.C. Davy began filming their lives, and soon the two brothers and other family members began to use the camera themselves. The result is 17 BLOCKS. Made in a unique collaboration with filmmaker and journalist Davy Rothbart, the film focuses on four generations of the Sanford Family, including Emmanuel, a promising student, his brother Smurf, his sister Denice, an aspiring cop, and his mother Cheryl, who must conquer her own demons for her family to prosper. Spanning two decades, 17 BLOCKS illuminates a nation’s ongoing crisis through one family’s raw, stirring, and deeply personal saga. Made from more than 1,000 hours of footage, it all starts on the street where they lived in 1999, 17 blocks behind the U.S. Capitol. Director Davy Rothbart joins us to talk about his profoundly moving gut punch of a film about the lives of a family fighting against the chaos and cruelty of embedded racism, broken social institutions and pervasive violence, all of it happening a little more than a stones throw from the lawmakers who step over their dead bodies on their way to “work”. God help us if you are not moved by this film.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: 17blocksfilm.com

In Virtual Cinemas Starting February 19th, 2021 

Director Davy Rothbart’s team has partnered with organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety and Black Lives Matter D.C. on screenings, and for the film’s national release, presented by MTV Documentary Films. Its national virtual release is set for February 19, 2021, streaming from nearly 100 theaters across the U.S., and viewable on computers, tablets, mobile devices, AppleTV, and Roku.

About the filmmaker – Davy Rothbart is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, bestselling author and journalist, frequent contributor to public radio’s This American Life , and the creator of Found Magazine. Rothbart’s film MEDORA, about a resilient high-school basketball team in a dwindling Indiana town, based on the NewYork Times story by Pulitzer Prize winner John Branch, was Executive Produced by Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci, and premiered at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival. MEDORA later aired on the acclaimed PBS series Independent Lens and won an Emmy Award.  Rothbart previously directed two documentaries about the activist band Rise Against, which became best-selling DVDs in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Sweden. A separate short film featuring Rise Against’s song “Make It Stop” was created for Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project and later won an MTV Music Video Award.  Rothbart’s radio stories featured on This American Life have reached more than 20 million listeners, and his books FOUND and My Heart Is An Idiot have debuted on The New York Times Bestseller List. He has made multiple appearances on The Late Show With David Letterman , been featured on ABC’s 20/20, Last Call with Carson Daly, MSNBC, and NPR’s All Things Considered, and been profiled in The New Yorker and The New York Times. A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Rothbart now lives in Los Angeles, California. 

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“An essential viewing doc about race & class in America… A documentary with Cinema Verite sensibilities and no qualms whatsoever about the honest presentation of its subjects, 17 BLOCKS is both heartbreaking and inspiring.” – Warren Cantrell, The Playlist 

“RAW AND IMMEDIATE… packs a potent emotional punch.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter 

“A remarkably raw and heartfelt piece of filmmaking… At its best, 17 BLOCKS  reminded me of the deep humanism of Steve James’ work.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

“More than just a singular achievement in documentary filmmaking, “17 Blocks” is the result of the Sanford family’s profound act of bravery. – Mark Keizer, Variety

“An absolutely devastating, powerful, and deeply moving film.“ – Tim Cogshell, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

“There’s a searing honesty and immediacy about the footage.” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film

Riding the Rails, Co-director Michael Uys (Lexy Lovell)

RIDING THE RAILS recalls the poignant and little-known story of teen hobos during the 1930s, a time of desperation and bitter hardship. These young itinerant Americans were all searching for a better life; what they found was a mixture of freedom, camaraderie, misery, and loneliness. RIDING THE RAILS interweaves the evocative stories of ten men and women who left home in their youth. Producers Michael Uys and Lexy Lovell placed notices in national publications in search of individuals who rode the rails as teenagers. Three thousand people, now in their 70s and 80s, responded. Uys and Lovell selected a handful to tell their stories on camera. “Some hadn’t spoken of their experiences in sixty years. They poured their hearts out to us,” says Uys. “They were just kids then and when they look back, it’s with a blend of nostalgia and pain.” RIDING THE RAILS vividly combines the clear-eyed memories of witnesses with archival footage of teens riding atop speeding trains and newsreel interviews with lean-bodied kids full of bravado. RIDING THE RAILS features a rich soundtrack of American folk tunes of the time, including songs by Woody Guthrie, Elizabeth Cotten, Doc Watson, and Jimmie Rodgers. RIDING THE RAILS co-director and co-producer Michael Uys joins us to talk about a misunderstood era in our nation’s history, and his recollection on the making of a still relevant documentary classic. 

 

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For more go to: pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/rails

For more about the film go to: ridingtherails-themovie.com

For more about Michael Uys go to: erroluys.com

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“I think it’s wonderful. I really think it’s very moving and beautiful, and I think it’s important. Riding the Rails is a natural. I’m astonished that it hasn’t been done through all these years. It’s one of the vital, terribly unreported sagas of the thirties. With today’s homeless kids, it’s a contemporary story of overwhelming importance. The analogy may awaken a public conscience that has been too long asleep. I thank you for making this movie. It’s terrific.” – Studs Terkel

“Excellent! Not only fascinating history, but it is poignant and evocative on an emotional level as well.” – Kenneth Turan,  Los Angeles Times

“Moving and informative, this is a winning documentary… From the sad and stirring folk songs on the sound track to the unforgettable faces and stories, Riding the Rails is a historical journey well worth taking.” – David Hunter,  The Hollywood Reporter

“As straightforward as a stretch of prairieland track, Riding the Rails succeeds on all counts. These stories — the sharecropper’s son who was a financial burden to his family, the French boy beaten by his parents, the kid who wanted to see America and play the guitar, the girl who stormed out of the house after a fight with her dad — are fascinating character studies. Taken as a whole, they depict a time when rampant poverty and desperation forced thousands of youths into the itinerant life, begging for change and food, sleeping in hobo encampments and hoping for a better tomorrow.” – Steven Rea,  The Philadelphia Inquirer

Women in Blue – Director Deirdre Fishel

Filmed from 2017-2020, WOMEN IN BLUE follows Minneapolis’ first female police chief Janeé Harteau, as she works to reform the Minneapolis Police Department by getting rid of bad cops, retraining the rest, diversifying the ranks and promoting women—who statistically use less force than their male counterparts—into every rank of leadership. WOMEN IN BLUE focuses on four women in Harteau’s department, each trying to redefine what it means to protect and serve. After a high-profile, officer-involved shooting forces Chief Harteau to resign, the new, male chief selects only men as his top brass. The women left behind continue to fight to police differently and to rebuild community trust. WOMEN IN BLUE offers an unprecedented view into the inner workings of the MPD, chronicling a department—and a community—grappling with racism and a troubled history of police misconduct long before an MPD officer killed George Floyd in May of 2020. The film reveals the limitations of police reform through incremental change and asks questions that apply well beyond the city of Minneapolis. Could increased gender equity and more women —especially Black women — contribute to greater public safety? Director Deirdre Fishel joins us to talk about some of the many reason that law enforcement is at a critical juncture, how women can be agents of reform in more effective but often aren’t allowed to and the impact that the Floyd murder had on the project.

 

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Premieres February 8 on pbs.org/independentlens/films/women-in-blue

About the filmmaker – Deirdre Fishel is a producer/director of documentaries and dramas that have premiered in competition at Sundance, SXSW, AFI and Full Frame and been broadcast in 35 countries worldwide.  Her most recent documentary  CARE, which looks at the poignant but hidden world of home elder care, was funded by ITVS and the Ford and MacArthur Foundations. It was broadcast on AMERICA REFRAMED and had an extensive impact campaign with support from Bertha BritDocs, AFI DOCS, and the Fledgling Fund. Fishel has devoted the majority of her career to stories about women and is Director of the BFA program in Film/Video at City College.  For more go to: newday.com/filmmaker/Fishel

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“This is an unflinching study of a complex situation, showing gray areas where often only black and white are seen.” – Peter Keough, Boston Globe

“Plays like a spiritual prequel to everything we’ve seen in the past four weeks, and contains some early clues that there was something dreadfully wrong going on in the Minneapolis Police Department.” – Stephen Silver, Splice Today

“This is a timely, compelling look at a group of women who are dedicated to standing out in a male-dominated field.” – Mike McGranaghan, Aisle Seat

Through the Night – Director Loira Limbal

THROUGH THE NIGHT is a cinema vérité portrait of three working mothers whose lives intersect at Dee’s Tots Daycare in New Rochelle, NY: a mother working the overnight shift as a pediatric nurse; another holding down three low-wage jobs to support her two girls; and Deloris “Nunu” Hogan, who for over two decades has cared for the children of parents with nowhere else to turn. A tender portrait of titanic strength, love and selflessness, THROUGH THE NIGHT showcases the multiplicity of “women’s work” – paid, underpaid and unpaid; emotional and physical; domestic and career-oriented – all while negotiating the terms of a dignified existence under the three arrows of racism, sexism and capitalism in America. THROUGH THE NIGHT will open this Friday, December 11th at the Laemmle Virtual Cinema in addition to virtual cinemas around the country. Director Loira Limbal joins us for a conversation on the myriad of issues raised in this deceptively simple meditation of the why and how millions of hard working people in the home of the brave can do all the right things only to find themselves one random event away from the economic abyss that is modern American life. 

 

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For news and updates go to: throughthenightfilm.com

About the filmmaker – Loira Limbal is an Afro-Dominican filmmaker and DJ based in the Bronx. She is the Senior Vice President of Programs at Firelight Media, an organization that provides mentorship, funding and industry access to emerging filmmakers of color. THROUGH THE NIGHT was an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca, AFI Docs, Camden, Hot Springs Documentary, Double Exposure and DOC NYC festivals. Her first film, ESTILO HIP HOP, aired on PBS in 2009. Loira is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a former Ford Foundation Justfilms/Rockwood Fellow. Additionally, she co-produces and helms the popular Brooklyn monthly #APartyCalledRosiePerez. Limbal received a B.A. in History from Brown University and is a graduate of the Third World Newsreel’s Film and Video Production Training Program. She is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a former Ford Foundation Justfilms/Rockwood Fellow.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“This quietly engaging documentary is also subtly political, showing with clear eyes how good people are trying to patch gaps in our society that shouldn’t be there in the the first place.” – Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

“Through the Night is both celebration and indictment. A sympathetic depiction of “women’s work,” in all its unsung dignity, it’s also a quietly damning portrait of a merciless economy’s effect on working-class mothers… – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter

“Without making it too obvious, Limbal’s documentary shines a light on the unspoken backbone of our economy. – Monica Castillo, Remezcla

‘”Through the Night” won me over though, not because director Loira Limbal has any illusions about objectivity, but because she prefers to step back and show the toll inequality takes on the very people our culture supposedly reveres most – families.” – Andrea Thompson, A Reel of One’s Own

Dear Santa – Director Dana Nachman

From director Dana Nachman (BATKID BEGINS, PICK OF THE LITTER) comes the fanciful and poignant story of Operation Santa. For more than 100 years human elves have been helping Santa respond to the thousands of letters that are written and mailed to him. Through Operation Santa, the United States Postal Service makes it possible for the public to safely adopt these letters and make children’s dreams come true. DEAR SANTA invites audiences along for the magic of this massive endeavor. Traveling the country, much like Santa does on Christmas Eve, the film focuses on select Operation Santa centers: some in metropolitan areas like the massive operation in New York City and others in small towns where the post office is the heart of the community. This is a no Christmas spoiler film and Santa himself has watched the film and can’t wait for the December 4th release! Director Dana Nachman drops down the chimney to talk about her latest, and much needed heart-warming ode to generosity, kindness, and unabashed humanity.

 

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 For news, updates and screeings go to: dearsanta.movie

Learn more about Operation Santa at: uspsoperationsanta.com

About the filmmaker – Director Dana Nachman is a veteran documentary filmmaker and former journalist. Her films have received dozens of awards from top film festivals across the U.S. and around the world. Her recent film PICK OF THE LITTER, which she directed with Don Hardy, premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival, was distributed by IFC Films, and was adapted into an original television series for Disney+ that she also co-directed. Her documentary BATKID BEGINS debuted at Slamdance Film Festival and was distributed by Warner Bros / New Line Cinema. Her film WITCH HUNT debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival and her film LOVE HATE LOVE debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival. She also directed the documentaries THE HUMAN EXPERIMENT, WASHED AWAY and the comedies HOOKED UP 2.0 and THE FINAL SHOW. Her television news work earned her multiple Emmy® awards, an Edward R. Murrow Award, and a regional AP award. Nachman is a member of the Directors Guild of America (DGA).

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“Ultimately, “Dear Santa” is about pulling together, helping neighbors, loving each other and celebrating life and the spirit of giving. It’s a delightful gift at the end of a challenging year.” – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle

“Dear Santa delivers a desperately needed dose of holiday cheer during these troubled times that will leave even the most Grinch-like of viewers bathed in their own tears.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

“Overall, I think this documentary is perfect, even if it is a bit of a Christmas propaganda movie. This is the perfect time for that.” – Lorry Kikta, Film Threat

“Director Dana Nachman juggles the insights of children, the feeling of the season, and the aspirations of people seeking to do good works in several locations across the country in the three weeks of activity ahead of Christmas.” – Douglas Davidson, Elements of Madness

Belly of the Beast, Director Erika Cohn

BELLY OF THE BEAST shines a white hot spotlight on the pastoral farmlands surrounding the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF), the world’s largest women’s prison. For decades CCWF concealed the reproductive and human rights violations transpiring inside its walls. A courageous woman, Kelli Dillon, who was involuntarily sterilized at the CCWF, teams up with a radical lawyer, Cynthia Chandler, to stop these violations. Together they spearhead investigations that uncover a series of statewide crimes, primarily targeting women of color, from inadequate access to healthcare to sexual assault to illegal sterilization. With a team of tenacious heroines, both in and out of prison, they take to the courtroom to fight for reparations. But no one believes them. As additional damning evidence is uncovered by the Center for Investigative Reporting, a media frenzy and series of hearings provide hope for some semblance of justice. Yet, doctors and prison officials contend that the procedures were in each person’s best interest and of an overall social benefit. Invoking the weight of the historic stain and legacy of eugenics, BELLY OF THE BEAST presents a decade long, infuriating contemporary legal drama. Director Erika Cohn (The Judge, When the Voices Fade) joins us for a conversation about her incredible tale that chronicles the rampant abuse of incarcerated women, being coerced by a prison-based culture of medical personnel actively subverting their basic human rights.

 

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For news, updates and screenings go to: bellyofthebeastfilm.com

About the filmmaker – Director Erika Cohn is a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning director/producer who Variety recognized as one of 2017’s top documentary filmmakers to watch and was featured in DOC NYC’s 2019 “40 Under 40.” Most recently, Erika completed The Judge, a Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated film about the first woman judge appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a courts, which premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS’ 2018 Independent Lens series. Erika co-directed/produced, In Football We Trust, an Emmy award-winning, feature documentary about young Pacific Islander men pursuing their dreams of playing professional football, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS’ 2016 “Independent Lens” series. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including a Director’s Guild of America award for her fiction short film, When the Voices Fade. Erika grew up attending the Sundance Film Festival as a native Utahn, where she first began her career and later studied at Chapman University (California) and Hebrew University (Jerusalem) where she received degrees in Film Production, Middle East Studies, and Acting Performance. In 2013, Erika founded Idle Wild Films, Inc., which has released three feature documentaries and produced numerous branded content and commercial spots, including Gatorade’s “Win from Within” series, for which she received a 2016 Webby award nomination. Belly of the Beast is her third feature-length documentary. For more about Erika Cohn go to: idlewildfilmsinc.com

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“A harrowing documentary about the practice of forced sterilization.” – Evan Dossey, Midwest Film Journal

“Inside the belly of documentarian Erika Cohn’s Beast lurks a monstrosity more appalling than horror fiction.” – Scott Marks, San Diego Reader

Driving While Black, Co-directors Dr. Gretchen Sorin and Ric Burns

DRIVING WHILE BLACK: RACE, SPACE AND MOBILITY IN AMERICA is a ground-breaking, two-hour documentary film by acclaimed historian Dr. Gretchen Sorin and Emmy–winning director Ric Burns. Chronicling the riveting history and personal experiences – at once liberating and challenging, harrowing and inspiring, deeply revealing and profoundly transforming  –  of African Americans on the road from the advent of the automobile through the seismic changes of the 1960s and beyond – DRIVING WHILE BLACK explores the deep background of a recent phrase rooted in realities that have been an indelible part of the African American experience for hundreds of years – told in large part through the stories of the men, women and children who lived through it. The documentary draws upon the wealth of recent scholarship – and based on and inspired in large part by Gretchen Sorin’s recently published study of the way the automobile and highways transformed African American life across the 20th century – the film examines the history of African Americans on the road from the depths of the Depression to the height of the Civil Rights movement and beyond, exploring along the way the deeply embedded dynamics of race, space and mobility in America during one of the most turbulent and transformative periods in American history. Co-directors Gretchen Sorin and Ric Burns join us to talk about the crippling impact of systemic racism and the continuing stain of America’s original sin.

 

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For  more on the story and history behind the the film go to: dwbfilm.com

DRIVING WHILE BLACK will air on PBS on Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 9:00 p.m. (check local listings).

About the filmmaker – Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Project Director & Senior Historical Advisor Dr. Gretchen Sullivan Sorin is Distinguished Professor and Director of the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Her dissertation and upcoming book form the basis of the scholarship for this project. Her research explores the role that the automobile played in the lives of African Americans during the Jim Crow era, the way that African Americans expressed middle class American values through car ownership, and how cars helped change deeply entrenched racial etiquette. Sorin received her Ph.D. in history from the University at Albany in 2009. For more on the work of Dr. Gretchen Sorin go to gpmuseumstudies.org

About the filmmaker – Ric Burns is an internationally recognized documentary filmmaker and writer, best known for his eight-part, seventeen and a half hour series, New York: A Documentary Film, which premiered nationally on PBS to wide public and critical acclaim when broadcast in November 1999, September 2001, and September 2003. Burns has been writing, directing and producing historical documentaries for over 25 years, since his collaboration on the PBS series The Civil War, (1990), which he produced with his brother Ken and co-wrote with Geoffrey C. Ward.  Since founding Steeplechase Films in 1989, he has directed some of the most distinguished programs for PBS including Coney Island (1991), The Donner Party (1992), The Way West (1995), Ansel Adams (2002), Eugene O’NeillAndy Warhol (2006), We Shall Remain: Tecumseh’s Vision (2009), Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World (2010), Death and the Civil War (2012), American Ballet Theatre (2015), Debt of Honor (2015), The Pilgrims (2015), VA: The Human Cost of War (2017), and The Chinese Exclusion Act (2018). His work has won numerous film and television awards including six Emmy Awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards,  two Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards,  three Writer’s Guild of America Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Writing;  the Eric Barnouw Award of the Organization of American Historians, and the D.W. Griffith Award of the National Board of Review. Find out more about Ric Burns and Steeple Chaase Films at: ricburns.com  And dwbfilm.com

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This Is Not a Movie: Robert Fisk and the Politics of Truth, Director Yung Chang

Yung Chang’s This is Not a Movie is a fascinating documentary portrait of world-acclaimed British born Beirut-based foreign correspondent Robert Fisk. Fisk’s work is as vital as ever in an era of “fake news,” politicized facts, and the rise of ethno-nationalist politics. A Middle East correspondent for The Independent, Fisk holds more international journalism awards than any other foreign correspondent. For more than 40 years, journalist Robert Fisk has reported on some of the most violent and divisive conflicts in the world. Director Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze, The Fruit Hunters) captures Fisk in relentless action—feet on the ground, notebook in hand, as he travels into landscapes devastated by war, ferreting out the facts and firing reports back home to reach an audience of millions. Director Yung Chang stops by to talk about Robert Fisk’s dedicated work ethic, stamina and desire to talk with all sides of a story and why, in a time of disinformation and deceit by the powerful, his voice, his pen and his reporting have made him one of journalism’s most reliable sources of information and truth.

 

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For news, updates and screenings go to: kimstim.com/film/this-is-not-a-movie

For more about Yung Chang’s work go to: yungfilms.com

Watch This Is Not a Movie on virtual cinema at laemmle.com/film/not-movie

About the filmmaker – Yung 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. In 2015, Chang was selected to participate in the prestigious Sundance Labs for Eggplant. Chang was the Spotlight Artist for the 2019 Reel Asian Int’l Film Festival where a live script reading of Eggplant was performed to a sold-out audience by talented actors from Kim’s Convenience, The Handmaid’s Tale and Locke & Key.  Chang’s award-winning short, Gatekeeper, qualified for the 2016 Oscars and is distributed by Field of Vision, Laura Poitras’ curated online film unit. His latest feature documentary, This is Not a Movie is about Robert Fisk, the iconoclastic Middle East correspondent. The film is co-produced by the National Film Board of Canada, currently on the festival circuit, World Premiered at TIFF 2019 . A graduate of the Meisner acting technique from the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in NYC and Concordia University’s Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema in Montreal, Chang brings emotional depth and cinematic realism into his work. 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, the organization behind the Academy Awards. For more about Yung Chang’s work go to: yungfilms.com

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“[The film] provides a comprehensive portrait of a man who has become essential reading.” – Hollywood Reporter

“[A] laudatory, engaging profile of [Robert Fisk]…” – Globe and Mail

“In This Is Not a Movie, Fisk’s life history is paired with a director up to the task of presenting the facts in a compelling, cogent manner.” – Hammer to Nail

“It is as fascinating to watch Fisk talk about the media landscape as it is to read his inimitable writings on the Middle East.” – Cineuropa

“Fisk’s story is a compelling reminder of just how real the news can be.”- POV Magazine

A Thousand Cuts, Director Ramona S. Diaz

Award-wining filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz’s latest documentary, A THOUSAND CUTS, is a blistering indictment of a free press and democracy are under attack in the Philippines. In the face of journalist Maria Ressa and founder of the on-line news site Rappler is holding the line and fighting back against President Rodrigo Duterte’s escalating threats of assignation and death. Duterte smear tactics and threats against Ressa (discredit journalists/media, spread misinformation, attacks on social media) are similar to what other authoritarian leaders are now using against the press. Duterte’s war on truth and journalism has become a blueprint for other authoritarian regimes around the world. A THOUSAND CUTS spotlights Ressa’s fight for justice in the country is ongoing as she was found guilty of cyber libel last month in a blatant attempt to silence one of the most outspoken critics of the Philippine President. The alarming result is not only an attack on Democracy in the Philippines, but also a warning shot to the rest of the world. Ressa’s lawyer Amal Clooney (also featured in the film) recently penned this Op-Ed  last month underscoring the implications of this trial. Director, Producer, Writer and Co-editor Ramona S. Diaz (Motherland, Imelda) joins us to talk about the suffocating pressure being brought to bear on journalists, her admiration for those who remain committed to a free press and the hope she has for her beloved homeland. 

 

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For news and updates go to: athousandcuts.film

For screenings go to: athousandcuts.film/watch-screenings

Produced by Concordia Studio and Motto Pictures, A THOUSAND CUTS will release nationwide in virtual cinemas on August 7th via PBS Distribution / Frontline PBS.

About the filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz is an award-winning Asian American filmmaker whose films have screened at Sundance, the Berlinale, Tribeca, the Viennale, IDFA, and many other top-tier film festivals. All of Ramona’s feature-length films—Imelda (2004), The Learning (2011), Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey (2012) and, Motherland (2017)—have been broadcast on PBS, on either the POV or Independent Lens series. Motherland won an award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and had its international premiere at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival. It was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for best Documentary, a Peabody Award, and a Gaward Urian Award from the Filipino Film Critics. She has received funding from ITVS, Sundance, CAAM, Tribeca, Catapult Film Fund, Chicken & Egg, MacArthur Foundation, the IDA, Cinereach and Creative Capital, among others. For the past four years, Ramona has been a film envoy for the American Film Showcase, a joint program of the U.S. Department of State and the USC School of Cinematic Arts that brings American films to audiences worldwide. She has conducted master classes and production workshops all over the world. Ramona was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and was inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) in 2016, and in 2017 received a Women at Sundance Fellowship and a Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Filmmaker Award. She is a current recipient of a United States Artist Fellowship. Ramona is a graduate of Emerson College and holds an MA from Stanford University.

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Winner – Best Documentary – DocEdge 2020

“[This] engrossing, galvanizing film feels more like a political thriller than an off-the-cuff investigation into embattled journalism in the Philippines, but Ressa’s seemingly boundless energy, good humor, and intelligence make her basically a power plant for the manufacture of inspiration in embattled times.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety

“A Thousand Cuts provides an expansive, revealing look at the current Filipino political situation, and it doesn’t feel like it’s warning viewers about what will happen in America, so much as telling us what’s coming next.”- Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com

“Diaz creates a rousing paean to the bravery of Ressa and her colleagues, and a clarion call to action that we should all heed.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail

“A Thousand Cuts is a must see for those who care about freedom of the press, democracy, and the future of one particular country-our own.” – Max Weiss, Baltimore Magazine

The Killing Floor, Director Bill Duke

Praised by The Village Voice as the most “clear-eyed account of union organizing on film,” THE KILLING FLOOR tells a true story of how a group of black and white slaughterhouse workers attempted to break race barriers to build an interracial union for the first time in the brutal stockyards. Damien Leake (SERPICO, APOCALYPSE NOW) stars as Frank Custer, a young black sharecropper from Mississippi – one of tens of thousands of southern blacks who journeyed to the industrial north during World War One, hoping for more racial equality. When Frank lands a job as a laborer on “the killing floor” in one of Chicago’s giant meatpacking plants., he finds a place seething with racial antagonism and decides to support the union cause. His best friends from the South, distrustful of the white-led union, turn against him. As racial violence explodes in the notorious Chicago Race Riot of 1919, management is able to further divide the workforce to defeat the union, and Frank must forge a new path. Director Bill Duke ( A RAGE IN HARLEM, DEEP COVER) stops by to talk about the challenges of making a sweeping historical film on a PBS budget, bringing together a talent group of mostly unknown African-American actor and the joy of seeing his groundbreaking and newly relevant film restored and revisited.

For news and updates go to: filmmovement.com/the-killing-floor

Watch The Killing Floor: filmmovement.com/in-theaters

About The Killing Floor: The film was shot in 1983 in Chicago, working with local union crews and with many talented Chicago actors. It was made in the midst of the Reagan Era and shortly after the election of Chicago’s first African-American mayor, Harold Washington. Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, foundations, corporations and dozens of national and local unions, THE KILLING FLOOR premiered on PBS’ American Playhouse series in 1984 to rave reviews. In 1985 the film was invited to Cannes and won the Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Award. Featuring a screenplay by Obie Award-winner Leslie Lee, based on an original story by producer Elsa Rassbach and directed by Bill Duke (A RAGE IN HARLEM, DEEP COVER), THE KILLING FLOOR. New 4K restoration. Preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive, laboratory services and DCP by UCLA Film & Television Archive Digital Media Lab, with a special thanks to Elsa Rassbach, Sundance Institute Collection at UCLA Film & Television Archive.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Rich and revealing, a cry of historical dimensions….” — Variety

 “A classic study in class hate, greed and stubborn idealism.  You won´t forget it.” — Newsday

 “Brilliantly captures the drama of the moment as well as the historical forces that produced it.” — The Journal of American History

“…a particularly brilliant example of a cinema which knows how to use all the resources of fiction, without ever allowing its historical documentary side to be marred.” – La Revue du Cinema

“…fascinatingly recreated period reality, in performances that combine political faith with artistic force….” – London Evening Standard

“A very powerful, very surprising film….” – Le Monde

 “As compelling dramatically as its historical analysis is fascinating …Surprising that a film from the U.S. can be so frank and explicit in its exposure of the class struggle.” — Sight & Sound

Terrence McNally, Every Act Of Life, Director Jeff Kaufman and Producer Marcia Ross


Terrence McNally, Every Act Of Life, tells the story of the groundbreaking life and work of 5-time Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally: a personal journey through 6-decades of the American theatre, the struggle for LGBT rights, triumph over addiction, the power of the arts to shape society, and finding love and inspiration at all ages. F. Murray Abraham, Audra McDonald, Christine Baranski, Edie Falco, Nathan Lane, Angela Lansbury, Rita Moreno and others weigh in on the pioneering playwright’s influential career, and speak frankly of his struggles as well as his monumental successes. The voices of Dan Bucatinsky, Bryan Cranston and Meryl Streep are also featured. Intimate conversations with the late McNally complete this essential portrait of the four-time Tony winner and 2019 recipient of the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. Playwright, librettist, scriptwriter and outspoken LGBTQ activist Terrence McNally died of coronavirus complications in April 2020 at age 81. American Masters and the filmmaking team explored McNally’s six-decade career through the intimate and revealing documentary. Director Jeff Kaufman and Producer Marcia Ross join us for a look back at one of the greatest playwrights  in American theatre history.

 

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For news and updates go to: everyactoflife.com

Terrence McNally, Every Act Of Life, will be returning to PBS Streaming on June 1st. 

About the filmmakers: Jeff Kaufman produced, directed, and wrote the documentaries Every Act Of Life (2018 Tribeca premiere, aired June 2019 on American Masters), The State of Marriage, Father Joseph, The Savoy King: Chick Webb and the Music That Changed America, Brush With Life: The Art of Being Edward Biberman, and Education Under Fire, plus a number of short films for Amnesty International, and programs for The Discovery Channel, and The History Channel. He also edited/designed a book based on the film Every Act Of Life, contributed cartoons to The New Yorker, and illustrations to The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, wrote/illustrated several children’s books, and hosted daily radio shows in Vermont and Los Angeles.

Marcia S. Ross produced the documentaries Every Act Of Life, The State of Marriage, Father Joseph, and The Savoy King. Additionally she has an over 3-decade career as an independent casting director and casting executive, serving 16 years as EVP for Casting at Walt Disney Motion Pictures, and 5 years as VP for Casting and Talent Development at Warner Brothers TV. Some of her film and television credits include Clueless, Cujo, thirtysomething, Murder in Mississippi, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Princess Diaries, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, The Lookout, Enchanted, Oblivion, and Parental Guidance. She has received career achievement awards from the Casting Society of America and the Hollywood Film Festival.

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91% on Rotten Tomatoes

McNally’s life has the sweep of an epic novel, except that the novel’s inevitable movie version could never have as much star power as his life did.” – Ren Jender, Village Voice

“It’s a great introductory piece for those new to this area of theatre, and a pleasing chance for others to reflect on one of its greatest talents.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

“It does true justice to its subject by showing how his influence goes well beyond words, finding his tribe on Broadway and making it feel like home for others.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest

“McNally’s life has the sweep of an epic novel, except that the novel’s inevitable movie version could never have as much star power as his life did.” – Ren Jender, Village Voice

 

Slay the Dragon, Co-directors Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance, Journalist David Daley

After the 2008 election, a secretive, well-funded partisan initiative poured money into state legislative races in key swing states to gain control of their redistricting processes and used high-tech analytics to dramatically skew voting maps based on demographic data. The result is one of the greatest electoral manipulations in U.S. history, one that poses a fundamental threat to our democracy and exacerbates the already polarized atmosphere in Congress and state houses across the country.  Gerrymandering, the practice of redrawing electoral maps to serve the party in power, has been around for centuries. But in today’s hyper-partisan political environment it has been taken to unprecedented extremes, fueled by the elimination of corporate campaign contribution limits and the availability of vast amounts of personal information. The effects of this insidious strategy have continued to bear fruit through the 2018 midterms. But voters, fed up with cynical efforts to sidestep the will of the majority, have begun fighting back. In one example, a grassroots movement led by a young with no political experience gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures to put an anti-gerrymandering initiative on the ballot in Michigan. The new documentary SLAY THE DRAGON shines a light on this timely issue, and follows a handful of citizens’ groups, outraged by what they see as an attack on the core democratic principle that every person’s vote should count equally, as they battle party operatives and an entrenched political establishment to fix a broken system. Co-directors Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance stop by to talk about their approach to tackling a complex issue, and finding the grassroots activists who have shown that there is a way to affect real change despite the overwhelming odds.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: slaythedragonfilm.com

Watch Slay the Dragon AND support local Theatres: slaythedragonfilm.com/tickets

To learn more about the filmmakers and their work go to: ark-media.net

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“The most important political film of the year. It may prove to be one of the key political films of the decade. There is no issue more threatening to the future of American democracy than gerrymandering.” – Owen Gleiberman, VARIETY

“Slay the Dragon does an extraordinarily good job of taking a complex issue and connecting the dots, which seems particularly appropriate for a documentary about gerrymandering.” – Brian Lowry, CNN.com

“Outrage is a likely reaction.” – Karen Martin, ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE

“Shocking. It changes the way you see everything.”- Adrian Horton, THE GUARDIAN

The Rescue List – Co-directors Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink

THE RESCUE LIST focuses on a hidden safe-house in the Ghanaian forest, where social workers help two children recover from a childhood enslaved to fishermen on Lake Volta – the largest man-made lake on Earth. But their story takes an unexpected turn when their rescuer embarks on another rescue mission and asks the children for help. THE RESCUE LIST charts the unfolding drama of these rescue operations alongside a stirring portrait of the boys’ recoveries as they prepare to return to their families. The film depicts a moving story of friendship and courage that transcends the trope of victimhood, exploring what it means to love and to survive. Co-directors Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink join us for an in-depth conversation on the ground truth about human trafficking in sub-Sahara Africa, gaining the access and the trust of all the people in the film and their own reflections on how witnessing these people’s stories has impacted them.

 

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To watch The Rescue List on PBS POV go to: therescuelist.com

About the filmmakers:

ALYSSA FEDELE – PRODUCER  //  DIRECTOR  //  EDITOR – Alyssa Fedele is a documentary filmmaker and anthropologist based in San Francisco.  In 2016, She produced and edited The Ride of Their Lives, directed by Steve James, about youth rodeo bull riding. It premiered at Sundance and is distributed by Amazon Studios in the series The New Yorker Presents. Her work has appeared on National Geographic Channel, Amazon Studios, and PBS, and screened at IDFA, SFFILM, and Big Sky Film Festival. Alyssa directed, produced, and edited The Rescue List, which screened at Full Frame and DOC NYC and won awards at BendFilm and Heartland International Film Festival.Alyssa is a former resident at SFFILM’s FilmHouse and she is a recipient of the SFFILM Documentary Film Fund. She has a master’s degree in visual anthropology from the University of Manchester.

ZACHARY FINK – PRODUCER // DIRECTOR // CINEMATOGRAPHER – Zachary Fink is a documentary filmmaker and cinematographer. His immersive observational approach to storytelling is deeply influenced by his academic roots in cultural anthropology and visual ethnography. He recently lensed Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s SXSW opening night premiere, State Of Pride, which takes an unflinching look at the diverse expression of Pride 50 years after Stonewall. Last year he spent a month at McMurdo Station in Antarctica where he field directed and shot a forthcoming PBS NOVA series about how science is conducted on the harshest continent. In 2016, Zachary produced  and filmed The Ride Of Their Lives, a short directed by Steve James about youth rodeo bull riding. It premiered at Sundance as part of the Amazon Studios series, The New Yorker Presents. His work has appeared on PBS, HBO, National Geographic Channel, and Discovery Channel, and he has produced and directed projects for Facebook, Apple, Google, and for the Harvard Film Study Center. Zachary has a master’s degree in cultural anthropology and an MFA in film production from California Institute of the Arts. Together with Alyssa Fedele, he runs the production company Collective Hunch.

 

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“The Rescue List isn’t an exposé on the subject in the strictest terms, but by sticking close to those who’ve lived through such nightmares, Fedele and Fink tell the viewer all they need to know about the dangers involved.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate

“Stirring tale of children rescued from modern-day slavery.” – Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter

“Saving defenseless kids from the cruelty of Lake Volta must be some of the most challenging work imaginable, but The Rescue List ultimately resonates because of how little it can take to show them their own strength.” – David Ehrlich, indieWire

“Focusing on a rescue-and-rehabilitation organization and several youths it plucks from servitude, this is an involving indictment with enough individual human-interest elements to avoid being too much of a grim screed.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety

Cooked: Survival by Zip Code, Director Judith Helfand

Twenty-five years after the 1995 Chicago heat wave, COOKED: Survival by Zip Code examines the events that led to the deaths of 739 people, mostly Black and in the poorest neighborhoods of the city. The film arrives at a time of growing calls across the country to declare racism a public health crisis and to reinvest in communities ravaged by the long-term impact of structural racism. A recent NYU study found life expectancy differentials as wide as 20-30 years linked to racial and ethnic segregation between neighborhoods in American cities. Adapted from Eric Klinenberg’s ground-breaking book ‘HEAT WAVE: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago,’ the film is directed and produced by Peabody Award-winning director Judith Helfand (Blue Vinyl, A Healthy Baby Girl, Everything’s Cool), produced by Fenell Doremus (co-producer of Academy Award-nominated Abacus: Small Enough to Jail), and Kartemquin Films, the award-winning Chicago documentary production house behind Minding the Gap and Hoop Dreams. In COOKED, Helfand challenges herself, and ultimately all of us, to respond to the man-made disasters taking place in towns and cities across the country before the next unprecedented “natural” disaster hits. Director Judith Helfand joins us to talk about the systemic racism that makes the neighborhoods of the poorest the most likely location for

Independent Lens: COOKED: Survival by Zip Code will have its national television debut on the PBS television series Independent Lens on Monday, February 3 at 10:00 pm (check local listings), preceding coverage of the Iowa Caucuses. The film will also be available to stream at PBS.org and on the free PBS Video App throughout Black History Month.

 

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For news and updates go to: pbs.org/independentlens

For news, screenings and updates go to: cookedthefilm.com

For more information about Cooked: Survival by Zip Code go to: independentlens/cooked

About Independent Lens – Award-Winning Series
Each week this award-winning series bring you an original documentary film made by one of the best independent filmmakers working today. Independent Lens films have won 19 Emmy Awards16 Peabody Awardsfive duPont-Columbia University Awards, and have received 10 Academy Award nominationsIndependent Lens won the 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 International Documentary Association (IDA) Award for Best Continuing Series.

 

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Walk Run Cha Cha, Director Laura Nix

WALK RUN CHA-CHA has been nominated for Documentary Short Subject at the 92nd Academy Awards®. Directed by Laura Nix, the film follows Paul and Millie Cao, who lost their youth to the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Forty years later, they have become successful professionals in Southern California-and are rediscovering themselves on the dance floor. WALK RUN CHA CHA is now streaming on New York Times Op-Docs.

About the Filmmaker: Director Laura Nix Laura Nix is an award-winning fiction and nonfiction filmmaker based in Los Angeles. WALK RUN CHA-CHA is adapted from a feature-length documentary in progress. It was produced by Concordia Studio for The New York Times Op-Docs and premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Laura’s work also includes  other work includes her feature documentary INVENTING TOMORROW, about teenagers from around the globe tackling environmental issues through science,  THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING, a comedy about activism and climate change, the documentary THE LIGHT IN HER EYES, about a Syrian Qur’an school for women and she was a writer on the Emmy-nominated documentary CALIFORNIA STATE OF MIND: THE LEGACY OF PAT BROWN. In 2001, Nix co-founded the production company Automat Pictures, where she produced and/or directed over 100 presentations, including the feature documentary WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT: THE STORY OF HEDWIG, which played in over a dozen film festivals in the U.S. and worldwide. Previously she was a member of Oscar-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s production company Telling Pictures, where she was Associate Producer on THE CELLULOID CLOSET.

 

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For news and updates go to: feltfilms.com

Walk Run Cha Cha is now available at nytimes.com/Op-Docs

 

*** 2020 Oscar nomination for Best Documentary (Short) *** 

 

Official Selection – Tribeca Film Festival 2019

Winner – Grand Jury Trống Đồng Award for Best Short – Viet Film Fest 2019

Official Selection – SFFILM Doc Stories 2019

 

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“Laura Nix’s WALK RUN CHA-CHA is a moving, poignant portrait of two aging refugees who have endured a great deal, and who now face one of life’s biggest challenges: figuring out how to stay in love. Through them, Nix also evokes the textures, tastes, and sounds of Vietnamese refugee life, and mixes them in with everything that is good about the United States. Ultimately, WALK RUN CHA-CHA is an optimistic film about both love and hope—the hope that our country will continue to believe in welcoming strangers from other lands, who in the end are not that strange at all.” – Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer

 

Scandalous: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer, Director Mark Landsman

Sex! Gossip! Scandal! For over 60 years, the National Enquirer has pumped out salacious, shocking stories, stretching the limits of journalism and blurring the lines between truth and fiction. Magnolia Pictures’ SCANDALOUS: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer, charts the thrilling origin story and influence of (in)famous supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer. The paper that former editor-in-chief Steve Coz called “the most perfectly placed piece of propaganda in America.” SCANDALOUS is the sensational true story of the most infamous tabloid in US history, a wild, probing look at how one newspaper’s prescient grasp of its’ readers darkest curiosities led it to massive profits and influence. From its coverage of Elvis’s death, to Monica Lewinsky and the O.J. Simpson murder trial, the National Enquirer rattled the foundations of American culture and politics, sometimes allegedly using payoffs and blackmail to get its scoops. With rare archival footage and revelations as wild as National Enquirer headlines themselves, SCANDALOUS  examines our obsession with the rich, famous and powerful, and the tabloid that has fed those obsessions for generations of Americans. SCANDALOUS: The Untold Story of the National Enquirer will open in select theaters on November 15, and features interviews with former Enquirer reporters and editors, including Iain Calder and Steve Coz, as well as journalists Ken Auletta, Carl Bernstein, and Maggie Haberman. Director Mark Landsman joins us to talk about the history of the supermarket tabloid that made UFO’s and mayhem respectable and in the process changed the way we consume all forms of media.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: Scandalousfilm.com

SCANDALOUS: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER panel discussion on Friday (11/15) after the 7:10 pm show with director Mark Landsman and former National Enquirer reporters Tony Brenna, Judith Regan and Barbara Sternig. Q&A after the 7:10 pm show on Saturday (11/16) with producers Aengus James and Kristen Vaurio at the Royal.

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Mark Landsman – twitter.com/markolands

“While watching this entertaining documentary, keep in mind the claim made by journalist Ronan Farrow: The National Enquirer has buried at least 60 super-sleazy stories about our… president.” – Charles Mudede, The Stranger

“The story of the National Enquirer comes to life in Scandalous, a vibrant true Hollywood story that pulls numerous twists and turns.” – Kristen Lopez, Culturess

“”Scandalous” doesn’t break a lot of new ground in style, but it is a fascinating and essential examination of the media we consume and what consumes us.” – Karen M. Peterson, AwardsCircuit.com

“A journalism expose that lives up, or down, to its hype.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

Independent Lens, Executive Producer Lois Vossen

The acclaimed PBS documentary series Independent Lens, recently honored with two Peabody Awards, a Primetime Emmy nomination and 12 News & Documentary Emmy nominations, returns for a new season on Monday, October 28.This year’s premiere is Made in Boise, an engrossing look at the complex and controversial world of gestational surrogacy told through the stories of four women carrying babies for gay men and infertile couples in the conservative heartland of Idaho — the unofficial “surrogacy capital” of the United States. Also on the fall schedule is Decade of Fire, which travels back to the 1970s when the South Bronx was burning, to showcase the dedicated citizens who outlasted the flames and saved their community; The Interpreters, a moving look at the Afghan and Iraqi interpreters who risked their lives aiding American troops and who now struggle to find safety and security for themselves and their families; Conscience Point, which unearths the deep clash of values between the Native American Shinnecock of Long Island and their affluent Hamptons neighbors; and Attla, the rousing story of Alaska Native George Attla, who with one good leg and a determined mindset went on to become a champion dogsled racer. Other highlights of the Winter/Spring 2020 slate include Always in Season, a harrowing look at the history of lynching and the 2014 case of Lennon Lacy, a North Carolina teen who died under unexplained circumstances; Bedlam, a psychiatrist’s chronicle of what mental illness means in the U.S. today, interwoven with the story of how the system tragically failed his own sister; and Rewind, a devastating, autobiographical documentary about the far-reaching consequences of multigenerational child sexual abuse. Independent Lens Executive Producer Lois Vossen joins us to talk about the fundamental principles to support filmmakers telling stories about their communities and commitment to showcase thought-provoking documentaries about the issues that divide us and the ideals and beliefs that bind us together.

 

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For news, updates and screenings go to: pbs.org/independentlens

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Independent Lens upcoming schedule:

Made in Boise by Beth Aala (Monday, October 28) Go inside the lives of four surrogates and the intended parents whose children they carry. As the number of surrogate births surge across the country, a surprising epicenter of the movement is Boise, Idaho, where hundreds of women are choosing to be surrogates. For gay couples, single men, and those who struggle with infertility, this booming industry is often the last resort to biological parenthood. The film follows the four women as they navigate the rigors of pregnancy and the mixed feelings of their own families, who struggle to understand their choice to risk the physical and emotional complications of carrying babies for someone else.

Decade of Fire by Vivian Vázquez Irizarry, Gretchen Hildebran and Julia Steele Allen (Monday, November 4) In the 1970s, the Bronx was on fire and close to a quarter-million people were displaced when their close-knit, multiethnic neighborhood burned. While the abandonment of landlords and dwindling support from government officials led to the devastation, Black and Puerto Rican residents were blamed. Now, Bronx-born Vivian Vázquez Irizarry explores the truth about the borough’s untold history and reveals how her community chose to resist, remain and rebuild.

The Interpreters by Andrés Caballero and Sofian Khan (Monday, November 11) More than 50,000 local interpreters helped protect U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, enabling soldiers to communicate with the local population. But those who took the job were often considered traitors. In the aftermath of war, some have been able to leave their home countries and reach safety, while others still languish in hiding and fear for their lives.

Conscience Point by Treva Wurmfeld (Monday, November 18) In Long Island’s Hamptons, one of the wealthiest areas in the nation and an epicenter of the luxury property boom, a clash of values is taking place. The original inhabitants of the beautiful peninsula — the Shinnecock Indian Nation — find themselves squeezed onto a tiny, impoverished reservation. Over hundreds of years they have seen their ancient burial grounds plowed up for the widening of roads, mega-mansions, and ultra-exclusive golf courses like the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Now Shinnecock activists and long-standing residents, including farmers and fishing communities, are taking a stand against a never-ending tide of wealthy transplants, overdevelopment, pollution, congested highways and skyrocketing property taxes.

Attla by Catharine Axley (Monday, December 16) The inspiring but little-known story of legendary Alaska Native dogsled champion George Attla, who — with one good leg and fierce determination — rose to international fame. In the final chapter of his life, Attla emerges from retirement to mentor his 20-year-old grandnephew. With their sights set on reviving proud cultural traditions, the pair embark on a journey to compete in the world’s largest dogsled sprint race, one that has seen a steep decline in Native competitors.

Made in Boise, Director Beth Aala

The latest documentary film from Peabody Award-winning director Beth Aala, Made in Boise, looks at the world of modern day surrogacy. In the idyllic city of Boise, nurses, nail technicians, and stay-at-home mothers are choosing to become paid surrogates for people from around the world. Made in Boise offers a rare glimpse into this mysterious world by intimately following the lives of four surrogates, as they build relationships with the intended parents, prepare for the rigors of pregnancy, and navigate the mixed feelings of their own families, who struggle to understand their choice to risk the physical and emotional complications of carrying babies for someone else. Legal in some states and illegal in others, a number of states, including Idaho, have no laws governing surrogacy on their books at all. As the number of surrogate births surge across the country, Boise has become an epicenter of the movement, with a large population of healthy women of reproductive age and a significant number of Mormon and Catholic communities who value large families. In this “City of Trees” with a population of a little over 200,000, it is estimated that one in 15 mothers will carry a baby for a stranger at some point in her life. For couples who struggle with infertility, for gay couples, and single men, this industry — outlawed in many countries around the world — is often the last resort to biological parenthood. Director Beth Aala (Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman ) joins us to talk about challenges and rewards of surrogacy for the the women who bear the children and the intended parents.

 

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About the filmmaker: Beth Aala (Director) is a three-time Emmy Award-winning producer and recipient of a Peabody Award for her documentary work at HBO. Beth’s most recent feature documentary, Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman (Sundance, 2017), which she co-directed and produced, is a film about unlikely conservationists based on New York Times  best-selling author Miriam Horn’s book of the same name. Beth also directed and produced Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (Toronto, 2014) with comedian Mike Myers for A&E IndieFilms. The documentary is an intimate and entertaining portrait of talent manager Shep Gordon, the most famous man you’ve never heardhttps://www.facebook.com/madeinboise/ of. It won a Hollywood Film Award and garnered a 2015 News and Documentary Emmy Awards nomination. Her directorial debut, Pool Party, is the untold story of McCarren Pool-turned-music venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, featuring music and performances by the Beastie Boys, the Breeders, M.I.A, Sharon Jones, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo. It played in festivals around the world.

For more on Made in Boise screening on Independent Lens go to: pbs.org/made-in-boise

For more on the work of Director Beth Aala go to: pinaypictures.org

Additional resources for Made in Boise:

itvs.org/films/made-in-boise

Social Media:

facebook.com/madeinboise

On the President’s Orders, Directors James Jones and Olivier Sarbil

ON THE PRESIDENT’S ORDERS tell the searing story of President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody campaign against drug dealers and addicts in the Philippines, told with unprecedented and intimate access to both sides of the war – the Manila police, and an ordinary family from the slum. Shot in the style of a thriller, this observational film combines the look and feel of a narrative feature film with a real life revelatory journalistic investigation into a campaign of killings. The film uncovers a murky world where crime, drugs and politics meet in a deathly embrace – and reveal that although the police have been publicly ordered to stop extra-judicial killings, the deaths continue. Director / Producer James Jones and Director / Cinematographer Olivier Sarbil join us for a conversation on the challenges of gaining access to the police, the victims of police violence and the draconian drug policy being enforced by a dictatorial, human-rights abusing regime.

 

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About the filmmakers:

Director and Producer – James Jones is an award-winning British director who makes documentary films for international television and theatrical release. His documentaries tackle important issues through powerful personal stories told in a filmic style and narrative. He has made films about police shootings in America, suicide in the military, wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and undercover investigations in Saudi Arabia and North Korea. His background in current affairs investigations means the films still have a hard journalistic edge while using the craft techniques of documentary. His films have won two Emmys, three DuPonts, a Grierson, a Rory Peck, a Frontline Club, a Royal Television Society, a Broadcast Award, two Overseas Press Club of America, two Golden Nymphs, and a Venice TV Award, as well as being nominated five times at the BAFTAs. Recently, he co-directed the Emmy-winning Mosul with Olivier Sarbil.

Cinematographer and Director – Olivier Sarbil is an award-winning French documentary director and Emmy-winning cinematographer based in London. Over the past decade, Olivier has covered conflicts and critical social issues across Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. With strong visual storytelling, Olivier’s films are intimate and human, conveying emotions through beautiful and cinematic imagery. His work has been recognized with awards from a variety of organizations, including, Emmy for Outstanding Cinematography, DuPont, Royal Television Society, One World Media, Overseas Press Club of America, Broadcast Awards, Bayeux-Calvados for war correspondents (twice), Golden Nymph, Rory Peck, Venice TV Award, Frontline Club, Grand Award and Gold Medal at the New York Festivals International TV & Film. His imagery has also garnered a BAFTA Nomination for Best Cinematography.

For news, updates and screenings go to: onthepresidentsorders.com

ON THE PRESIDENT’S ORDERS Q&A with filmmakers James Jones and Olivier Sarbil will participate following the 7:40 pm show on Friday, 10/18  at the Monica FIlm Center

Social Media:

twitter.com/OnThePresident

@oliviersarbil

@jamesjonesfilm

@OnThePresident

“A shockingly alarming investigation produced with the sensibilities of a social realist drama, Sarbil and Jones’ nonfiction warning should petrify U.S. viewers immeasurably.” – Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times

“A wholly cinematic, sensory experience, with straight-ahead reportage electrified by glaring streetlights and a panicked urban wall of sound…” Guy Lodge, Variety

“On the President’s Orders is the disturbing observational documentary we’ve needed about the Philippines drug war, made with finesse and astonishing access.” Musanna Ahmed, Film Inquiry

“A riveting account of the consequences of unfettered demagoguery.” – Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter

Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins, Director Janice Engel

RAISE HELL: THE LIFE & TIMES OF MOLLY IVINS tells the story of media firebrand Molly Ivins, six feet of Texas trouble who took on the Good Old Boy corruption wherever she found it. Her razor sharp wit left both sides of the aisle laughing, and craving ink in her columns. She knew the Bill of Rights was in peril, and said “Polarizing people is a good way to win an election and a good way to wreck a country.” Molly’s words have proved prescient. Now it’s up to us to raise hell! Director Janice Engel (Ted Hawkins Amazing Grace, Jackson Browne: Going Home, Addicted and What We Carry) joins us for a lively conversation on a journalist who did not shy away from confronting and shaming the most powerful institutions, political interests and the people who protected them from her righteous anger and lacerating wit.

About Molly Ivins: Molly Ivins was a nationally-syndicated political columnist and author, who remained cheerful despite the state of politics in this country and her own physical trials. She emphasized the more hilarious aspects of both state and national government, and consequently never had to write fiction. Ivins was from Houston, Texas, graduated from Smith College in 1966, then from Columbia University’s School of Journalism with a Masters in 1967. Ivins won many awards too numerous to list for her writing, courage, and truth telling. Her freelance work appeared in The Nation, The Progressive, Mother Jones, Esquire, Harper’s, Atlantic, and Playboy. She was also known for her essays on National Public Radio as well as media appearances around the world. Ivins wrote seven books, several of which were best-sellers including; BUSHWHACKED: Life in George W. Bush’s America with Lou Dubose in 2003 and WHO LET THE DOGS IN? Incredible Political Animals I Have Known in 2004. Molly was President of the Board of the Texas Democracy Foundation publisher of the venerable Texas Observer, which was her spiritual home and love. She found her voice at the Observer and helped sustain them and lead countless other young writers in seeking out the “good” stories and bring them to the public.

“The best way to get the sons of bitches is to make people laugh at them.” Molly Ivins

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: mollyivinsfilm.com

Social Media:

facebook.com/mollyivinsfilm

twitter.com/mollyivinsfilm

instagram.com/mollyivinsfilm

Engel gives “Raise Hell” such momentum – it’s a whoosh of a movie – that you are quickly swept up in its sights and sounds. There’s a lot to take in.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“There was never anybody like Molly Ivins before, and never will be again, and this documentary does a fine job of capturing what made her special.” – Matt Zoller Seitz, RogerEbert.com

“Smart and entertaining, just like its subject.” – Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter

“It’s a rare documentary indeed that so expertly captures the singular essence of its subject, and [Molly] Ivins is restored to vivid and vital life, if not in the flesh than in the mind and spirit.” – Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle

Grit, Co-director Cynthia Wade (Sasha Friedlander)

When Dian was 6 years old, she heard a deep rumble and turned to see a tsunami of mud barreling towards her village. She remembers her mother scooping her up to save her from the boiling mud. Her neighbors ran for their lives. Sixteen villages, including Dian’s, were wiped away. A decade later, nearly 60,000 people have been displaced from what was once a thriving industrial and residential area in East Java, located just 20 kilometers from Indonesia’s second largest city. Dozens of factories, schools and mosques are submerged 60 feet under a moonscape of cracked mud. The majority of international scientists believe that Lapindo, a multinational company that was drilling for natural gas in 2006, accidentally struck an underground mud volcano and unleashed a violent flow of hot sludge from the earth’s depths. Ten years later, despite initial assurances to do so, Lapindo has not provided 80% of its promised reparations to the hundreds of victims of who lost everything in the mud explosion. While the survivors live in the shadow of the mudflow and wait for restitution, they live in makeshift rented homes next to levees that hold back the still flowing mud. Dian is determined to rise out of the muddy life. She and her mother, along with many neighbors, fight against the corporate powers accused of one of the largest environmental disasters in recent history. The gripping documentary film GRIT bears witness to Dian’s transformation into a politically active teenager as she questions the role of corporate power and money in the institution of democracy itself.

About the filmmaker(s): Cynthia Wade’s 2008 documentary Freeheld won a 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject, Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and 13 other awards. She was a lead producer on the 2015 fictionalized adaptation of Freeheld, starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell and Michael Shannon. Wade’s 2013 HBO documentary Mondays at Racine was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013. She is the director of the documentaries Grist for the Mill (1999, HBO), Shelter Dogs (2004, HBO), Born Sweet (2009), Living the Legacy (2009, Sundance Channel) and Generation Startup (2016, Netflix), and producer of The Gnomist (2015, CNN). She holds a BA from Smith College and an MA in Documentary Film Production from Stanford University. Wade has won more than 45 film awards worldwide.

Co-director Sasha Friedlander directed, produced, shot and edited the feature-documentary Where Heaven Meets Hell. The film, set in East Java, Indonesia, won numerous prizes including Best Feature Documentary Film at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, Hawaii International Film Festival and Special Mention for Outstanding Cinematography at the LAAPFF. At the One World International Human Rights Film Festival in Prague, the Václav Havel Jury gave a Special Mention Award to Where Heaven Meets Hell for its “exceptional contribution to the defense of human rights.” The Alliance of Women Film Journalists awarded Sasha an EDA Award for Documentary Artistry in March 2013. This ITVS-funded film aired on PBS in 2013. Sasha’s has lived and worked in Indonesia. She is fluent in Indonesian and worked there as a journalist for several years. Sasha holds a BA from UCLA and an MFA in Social Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: gritdocumentary.com/

For more on co-director Cynthia Wade go to: cynthiawade.com

Grit is screening on PBS documentary film series POV on Monday September 9

Social Media:

facebook.com/gritdocumentary

twitter.com/GritDocumentary

AWARDS & NOMINATIONS

Award Winner, 2019 Colorado International Activism Film Festival

Winner, Grand Prize, Best Feature Film, 2019 Seoul Eco Film Festival

Winner, Audience Choice Award, 2019 Seoul Eco Film Festival

Winner, Best International Documentary, 2019 Ecozine International Film & Environment Festival

Excellence in Documentary Production Jury Award Winner, 2019 Ashland International Film Festival

Jonathan Daniels Social Justice Award Winner, 2019 Monadnock International Film Festival

Winner, Best Documentary Award, 2019 Environmental Film Festival at Yale

KAU KA HOKU Award Nominee, 2018 Hawaii International Film Festival

Activist Documentary Award Nominee, 2019 Movies that Matter Film Festival

Graine de Cinéphage Nominee, 2019 Festival International de Films de Femmes de Créteil

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, Co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice is a love song to one of the most memorably stunning voices that has ever hit the airwaves, Linda Ronstadt. She burst onto the 1960s folk rock music scene in her early twenties as the lead singer of the Stone Poneys, Ronstadt eventually branched out to begin her decades long career as a solo artist, touring the world selling out stadiums and, at one point, setting the record as the highest paid female artist in rock. Most remarkable to this day is her interest in and willingness to jump into new and challenging styles of music, including opera, jazz, and Mexican folk, excelling fantastically with each. Ronstadt has also been an outspoken political advocate for causes such as same-sex marriage and the inhumane treatment of undocumented immigrants, never shying away from fighting for what she believes both on and off the stage. Oscar-winning directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Times of Harvey Milk, The Celluloid Closet, Common Threads: Stories from the Quilt, Howl, Lovelace and End Game) use deep-cut archival footage, and Ronstadt’s own astute recollections, to celebrate an artist whose desire to do justice to the songs that touched her soul made generations of fans fall in love with her – and with the sound of her voice. Co-directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman join us to talk about a remarkable singer /artist and an even better person.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: lindaronstadtmovie.com

For more on the films of Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman go to: tellingpictures.com

Social Media:

facebook.com/RonstadtMovie

twitter.com/RonstadtMovie

instagram.com/RonstadtMovie

“She shows herself to be one of its indispensable interpreters, as a vocalist and also as a thinker – covering a sprawling landscape with elegance, passion and insight.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times

“It captures the life and career of a rock ‘n’ roll star who never looked back, never apologized, never compromised.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“Astutely chronicling an amazing musical career that ended prematurely due to Parkinson’s disease, Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice will delight the singer’s old fans and likely make her many new ones as well.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

“An excellent retrospective and celebration of Ronstadt’s trailblazing career.” – Sophia Stewart, Nonfics

American Heretic: The Gospel of Politics, Director Jeanine Butler and Producer Catherine Lynn Butler

We’ve entered a time where the power of negative partisanship has sorted us along lines of race and religion. These two factions have exploited race and religion, two of the most visceral things you can think of in terms of the human experience, and they’ve locked them in partisan identities.” The latest documentary from filmmakers Jeanine Butler and Catherine Lynn Butler AMERICAN HERETICS: THE GOSPEL OF POLITICS takes audiences into the buckle of Bible belt where a group of defiant ministers, congregations, and community leaders are challenging deeply rooted fundamentalist Christian doctrine in favor of a Gospel of Inclusion.  Labeled as “heretics” for their beliefs and actions, they refuse to wield their faith as a sword sharpened by literal interpretations of the Bible. Especially those fundamentalist  Christian interpretations that continue to justify nationalism and hack away at landmark civil rights protections for women, minorities, immigrants, and the LGBTQ communities. This poignant story challenges what we think we know about the Christian heartland by offering a rare personal glimpse into the contentious and often misunderstood history of religion, race, and politics in America. These Heretics are still interested in saving you from hell, but’s the earthly one, where poverty, discrimination and nationalism oppresses “…those who are the least among us.” Director / Producer Jeanine Butler (Documenting the Face of America) and Producer Catherine Lynn Butler (Journey of the Universe) stop by to talk about their journey into America’s Bible Belt and the growing movement to embrace a more tolerant perspective of spiritual enlightenment. 

 

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For news and updates go to: americanhereticsthefilm.com

“‘American Heretics: The Politics of the Gospel’ doesn’t break ground cinematically, but it is eye-opening in other ways.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times

“All the usual theological arguments for a loving rather than discriminatory faith are here” – Luke Y. Thompson, Forbes

“It makes passionate arguments. It offers a ray of hope. And it evokes the sense that those most desperately in need of seeing it will never cross its path.” – John Anderson, America Magazine

“A film that shines a light on those who would be a candle in the midst of the Medieval darkness of modern, white Southern American Christianity.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation