Funny Face – Director Tim Sutton

Tim Sutton’s menacing and hauntingly elegant film, FUNNY FACE,  follows the stifling dread of a young Muslim woman, Zama (Dela Meskienyar), running away from her aunt and uncle’s house, desperate for a new life. She quickly finds that she must now navigate the peril of life on the street. A disturbed young man, Saul (Cosmo Jarvis) from Coney Island dons the menacing “Funny Face” mask, transforming himself into a makeshift superhero with a rage disorder as he seeks revenge on the Real Estate Developer, (Jonny Lee Miller) of a soulless high rise that has displaced his grandparents. Misfit avengers in a changing city, the two embark on a neighborhood odyssey that brings danger, love, and tragedy. And pickles. Director / Writer Tim Sutton (Memphis, Dark Knight, Donnybrook) joins us for a conversation on creating films that connect with viewers beyond traditional storytelling, filmmakers and films that inspire him, and how telling the story of Saul and Zama reflects his own anxiety about the hallowing out of his beloved New York City.

For news and updates go to: gravitasventures.com/funny-face

Tim Sutton’s menacing and hauntingly elegant film, FUNNY FACE,  follows the stifling dread of a young Muslim woman, Zama (Dela Meskienyar), running away from her aunt and uncle’s house, desperate for a new life. She quickly finds that she must now navigate the peril of life on the street. A disturbed young man, Saul (Cosmo Jarvis) from Coney Island dons the menacing “Funny Face” mask, transforming himself into a makeshift superhero with a rage disorder as he seeks revenge on the Real Estate Developer, (Jonny Lee Miller) of a soulless high rise that has displaced his grandparents. Misfit avengers in a changing city, the two embark on a neighborhood odyssey that brings danger, love, and tragedy. And pickles. Director / Writer Tim Sutton (Memphis, Dark Knight, Donnybrook) joins us for a conversation on creating films that connect with viewers beyond traditional storytelling, filmmakers and films that inspire him, and how telling the story of Saul and Zama reflects his own anxiety about the hallowing out of his beloved New York City. For news and updates go to: gravitasventures.com/funny-face

“Genuinely otherworldly… a tender evocation of a New York City that is currently passing before its inhabitants’ eyes.” —Variety

“Haunting.” —Screen Daily

“A hypotensive urban fairy tale…of a New York borough imagined as a faraway land of rooftops and distant lights and corner bodegas where every day—every moment even—seems to start with ‘once upon a time.'” — The Playlist
“Seductive.” —The Film Stage
“Electric.” —Indiewire

Moffie – Director Oliver Hermanus

To be a moe is to be weak, effeminate, illegal. The year is 1981 and South Africa’s white minority government is embroiled in a conflict on the southern Angolan border. Like all white boys over the age of 16, Nicholas Van der Swart (Kai Luke Brummer) must complete two years of compulsory military service. South African director Oliver Hermanus, fourth feature MOFFIE explores the life of a closeted young boy serving his mandatory military service during Apartheid in 1980s South Africa. MOFFIE  is an adaptation of André-Carl van der Merwe’s iconic memoir, the film serves as a brilliant period piece exposing the psychological violence of institutionalized homophobia. Achingly raw depictions of the brutality of military training recall scenes from Kubrick’s FULL METAL JACKET while the beautifully acted love story provides a sharp contrast to the pervasive violence. Director and screenwriter Oliver Hermanus joins us for a conversation on how important it was to accurately capture to nexus of religion and the racist Apartheid regime and how the repressive culture it created made any relationship outside of it a treasonous act and how rewarding it was for him to be working with a gifted group of talented actors.

For news and updates go to: ifcfilms.com/films/moffie

IFC Films will release MOFFIE on Friday, April 9, 2021 in select theaters and on digital and VOD platforms. 

About the filmmaker – Oliver HERMANUS (1983, South Africa) started his career as a press photographer. He studied at the University of Cape Town and received a scholarship for the University of California. In 2006 he was offered a private scholarship by film director Roland Emmerich to complete his MA at the London Film School. His earlier films Shirley Adams (2009) and Beauty (2011) were both screened in Rotterdam. In 2015, The Endless River became the first South African film to be nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. His newest feature, Moffie (2019), premiered in the Horizons section of Venice Film Festival and won the Mermaid Award for best LGBTQI-themed film at the 60th edition of Thessaloniki International Film Festival.

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“A masterpiece…establishing [Hermanus] quite plainly as South Africa’s most vital contemporary filmmaker” – Variety, Guy Lodge

“Hermanus digs deep into the South African psyche and teases out the contradictions within white society itself, especially the fracture between South Africans of English origin and Afrikaners.” – Kevin Maher, Times (UK)

“An extraordinary young ensemble cast…Kai Luke Brummer makes a magnetic centre” – Screen International, Jonathan Romney

“Moffie is another powerful addition to the Hermanus canon, and I can’t wait to see what this film maker will do next.” – Grethe Kemp, City Press (South Africa)

“Moments of aching tenderness and desire” – The Hollywood Reporter

A Love Song for Latasha, Director Sophia Nahli Allison

Sophia Nahli Allison’s A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA righteous rebuttal to the injustice surrounding the shooting death of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins at a South Central Los Angeles store that became a flashpoint for the city’s 1992 civil uprising. As the Black community expressed its profound pain in the streets, Latasha’s friends and family privately mourned the loss of a vibrant child whose full story was never in the headlines. Three decades later, A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA removes Latasha from the context of her death and rebuilds an archive of a promising life lost. Oral history and memories from Latasha’s best friend and cousin converge in a dreamlike portrait that shows the impact one brief but brilliant life can have. Sophia Nahli Allison grew up in South Central Los Angeles and recalls experiencing the 1992 L.A. riots as a four year-old girl. Though Latasha’s death was a catalyst for the riots, Sophia wanted to make a film about Latasha’s life so she would be remembered beyond the trauma of a Black body, beyond a statistic, a newspaper headline, or an inaccurate Wikipedia page. Director, producer, cinematographer and editor Sophia Nahli Allison stops by to talk about how a Latasha’s legacy should not be judged in terms of longevity or her tragic end, but on the lasting impact that Latasha’s kindness, bravery and encouragement continues to have on people’s lives.

 

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For news and updates go to: alovesongforlatasha.com

Available on netflix.com/Latasha

2021 Oscar® nominee – Best Documentary Short 

The Latasha Harlins story continues… Earlier this year, a mural created by artist Victoria Cassinova and dedicated to the life and legacy of Latasha Harlins debuted on what would have been her 45th birthday. Located at the Algin Sutton Recreation Center in South LA, the mural stands at the front of the building where Latasha and her friends spent time throughout their childhood and teenage years. The art is based on a portrait of Latasha meant to represent her innocence and youth. The words to the left of her face are a poem Latasha wrote, it is also spoken in the film. The phrase “We Queens” is something Latasha often said to her friends to remind them of their power and importance. Latasha’s full name is a focal point. Watch a video of the mural’s creation that can be downloaded here.

The Latasha Harlins story continues… Earlier this year, a mural created by artist Victoria Cassinova and dedicated to the life and legacy of Latasha Harlins debuted on what would have been her 45th birthday. Located at the Algin Sutton Recreation Center in South LA, the mural stands at the front of the building where Latasha and her friends spent time throughout their childhood and teenage years. The art is based on a portrait of Latasha meant to represent her innocence and youth. The words to the left of her face are a poem Latasha wrote, it is also spoken in the film. The phrase “We Queens” is something Latasha often said to her friends to remind them of their power and importance. Latasha’s full name is a focal point. Watch a video of the mural’s creation that can be downloaded here.

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“Allison’s experimental style, lush palette, fast-paced editing and tender close-ups on Latasha’s cousins and friends, all now 40-something Black women like me, recreate the loss of Latasha’s innocence.” – The New York Times

“If you’ve seen anything of Latasha’s life, it’s likely the final seconds of her existence. Allison instead creates a brief, stirring portrait of the fifteen years that preceded them.” – Esquire 

“The 15-minute film gives new meaning to the notion of “short and sweet” and in it, Allison manages to paint a picture of a life not lived.  A Love Song for Latasha is a mesmerizing piece of work that takes an unconventional route to storytelling.” – The Grio

“This documentary is an invitation to rethink how Black life and death are documented in a society where the media glamorizes violence against Black bodies. This work is especially crucial during these a time when Black death is at the forefront of daily coverage, and it challenges us to remember the Black womxn, trans men, and non-binary folx we’ve lost and to reimagine the rich and nuanced lives they lived.” – Vice

Colette, Director Anthony Giacchino and Producer Alice Doyard

In this Oscar® nominated Best Documentary (Short ) we follow one of the last surviving members of the French Resistance, ninety-year-old Colette Marin-Catherine. As a young girl, she belonged to a family of Resistance fighters that included her 17-year-old brother Jean-Pierre. The last time Colette saw Jean-Pierre was in 1943, when he was arrested by the Gestapo and “disappeared” into the Nazi concentration camp system, never to be seen by his family again. The family was inwardly shattered, but outwardly stoic. No tears. Never permitted. For the past 74-years, Colette has never allowed herself to put one foot in Germany. But that’s all about to change when a young history student named Lucie enters her life. Lucie is researching the camp in Germany where Jean-Pierre died. Tracing the story of Jean-Pierre is, in fact, her special assignment.  The film follows Colette as she travels with Lucie to what remains of the forced labor camp near Nordhausen, Germany. It’s a journey of discovery on many levels, but the film’s greatest revelation is Colette herself, who at 90, is finally ready to let go of what she has, for over seven decades, held so tightly inside. Lucie’s youth and genuine concern has pierced the armor. The ultimate discovery of the film is Colette’s to make. That some wounds can only be healed if we allow them to be re-opened. Director Anthony Giacchino and Producer Alice Doyard join us to talk about the incredible strength of Colette Marin-Catherine and why her clear-eyed admonishment that we never forget the monstrous brutality of Nazi Germany as well as the importance of vigilance and resistance.

 

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For news and updates go to: colettedoc.com

Watch Colette at theguardian.com/world

Director’s Statement – “When I first met Colette in the fall of 2019, one of the first things she told me was: ‘When it’s your turn to live through a war, you’ll see you don’t have time to feel anything.’ It was quite an introduction. While making the film, I learned that only one percent of the French population had actively resisted the Nazi occupation before the Normandy Invasion and Colette — as a young girl — was one of those resisters.  She had so much to tell us about the war. I was particularly interested in her immediate family, as they all played their part in the Resistance. In fact, Colette’s 17-year-old brother, Jean-Pierre, was captured by the Gestapo and died a gruesome death in a German forced labor camp. Seven full decades beyond the events of Colette’s youth, the war’s aftermath remains as a dramatic, living thing to filmically explore. And the terrific reality is that war, at its core, is a universally human experience that stays inside all who go through it. And as Colette’s story demonstrates, healing is possible if we find the courage to face our darkest and most haunting memories.” – Anthony Giacchino

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“The bond between these two different, very strong, intelligent women renders this film staggeringly powerful whilst remaining simplicity itself. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.” – Emma Thompson

“A miniature masterpiece” – Ian Martin

“A moving character study” – POV Magazine

Êxtase – Director Moara Passoni

ÊXTASE explores the intersection of Clara’s personal and political life. She lives with her parents in the outskirts of São Paulo that is slowly being taken over by organized crime. As her mother becomes a congresswoman in Brasilia, her family moves to the Federal District. There as Clara feels her mother’s life is increasingly imperiled, she descends into a downward spiral of self-destruction in which suffering has a life force. In Clara’s life, the personal and political are intertwined. She lives with her parents in the outskirts of São Paulo that is slowly being taken over by organized crime. As her mother becomes a congresswoman in Brasilia, her family moves to the Federal District. There as Clara feels her mother’s life is increasingly imperiled, she descends into a downward spiral of self-destruction in which suffering has a life force. ÊXTASE is an immersive exploration of the agony and paradoxical pleasure of anorexia set against the backdrop of the chaotic political landscape of Brasil in the 1990s. Both a deeply personal journey as well as a collective story of young women and their attempts to control the brutal world around them, director Moara Passoni, co-writer and associate producer on the Oscar® nominated documentary THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY, puts fiction, delirium and reality in a conflicting symbiotic relation. Director Moara Passoni joins us for an illuminating conversation on her own personal journey and how that informed the telling of this multi-layered tale that beautifully blends narrative and documentary techniques in telling it.

For news and updates go to: extasefilme.com

About the filmmaker – Moara Passoni co-wrote and associate produced the Academy Awards Nominee and Platino and Peabody Winner documentary THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY (Netflix Originals, Sundance Film Festival) for which she was nominated for best narrative for both Critic Choices Awards Documentary Awards and International Documentary Association. ÊXTASE is her first non-fiction feature film that premiered in the main competition of CPH:DOX 2020, receiving fabulous critiques. Alumni from the L’atelier de Production de La Fémis/Cannes, Moara graduated in Sociology, Anthropology and Political Sciences (USP-SP); studied Dance and Performance (PUC-SP) and Aesthetics (Paris 8). After finishing a Master in Documentary Theory (UNICAMP-SP) she joined an MFA program on screenwriting/ directing at Columbia University where she is a current candidate. Filmmaker Magazine named her one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” of 2020.

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AWARDS
Prix D’Innovation Daniel Langlois – Montréal Festival of New Cinema
Youngsters 16 + Award / Best Film – Lucas International Festival of Films for Children and Young People
Jury Award of the Brazilian Cinema Critics Association – São Paulo International Film Festival
Prix of the Portuguese Association of Authors – Porto/Post/Doc Film & Media Festival

“Passoni was inspired by the works of Marguerite Duras. She has the same passionate intensity.” – FILMUFORIA 

“An excellent example of how the extremely personal can hold universal insight.” –  EYE FOR FILM

“Delicate and personal.” – MARIE CLAIRE 

“The universal character of the anxieties and experiences of women inserted in patriarchal systems, which manifest themselves in different ways in each one of us.” – PERSONA CULTURAL CRITICISM 

“Astonishing. Startingly unusual coming-of-age story.” – FILMMAKER MAGAZINE 

MakeSHIFT – Co-directors Casey Suchan and Tim Cawley

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kb_6AnwJHNoCo-directors Casey Suchan and Tim Cawley provocative documentary MakeSHIFT explores the art and science behind the advertising industry’s 20+ year evolution. We hear from many of the industries highest profile players, industry leaders,  developers, designers  and creative directors and founders at some of the most innovative agencies in the world, both small and large, digital and traditional. MakeSHIFT takes an inside look at how these makers and agencies have shifted and re-shifted their skillsets, creativity, and businesses, as new creative technologies emerged, declined, and were replaced by the next technology in an endless cycle of change. MakeSHIFT shines light on this beautifully frustrating pattern, and celebrates the makers that have embraced the shift and thrived. From the heyday of TV advertising, to the dawn of the Internet, to the rise of the digital experience, MakeSHIFT focuses on the industries adaptability in the face of a constantly changing digital landscape, daring to say “yes” before something is completely ready, and stretching ideas to new technological applications. Co-directors Casey Suchan (The Animal People) and Tim Cawley (Well-Founded Concerns) join us to talk about how unrelentingly competitive the world of advertising can be, the quantum leap that world has taken over the last 20 years and what the future holds for the art of persuasion.

For news and updates go to: makeshift.film

About the filmmaker – Casey Suchan directed Rock The Bells, a Warner Brothers documentary on the final performance of hip-hop artists Wu-Tang Clan. Rock The Bells was a Tribecca Premiere and picked up for distribution by Warner Brothers. Recently Casey directed The Animal People — a feature documentary for Executive Producer Joaquin Phoenix about a precedent setting case brought against the activist organization “Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty USA”, and in 2020 finished work as lead director on Make/Shift — a branded documentary sponsored by WordPress about marketing in the digital age. To see some of Casey’s work, click here.

About the filmmaker – Tim Cawley is founder and Chief Creative Officer of HeyLet’sGo! In 2014 he co-founded Sleek Machine, which grew to be one of the most highly-regarded small agencies in New England. In 2019, he took all he’d learned from that venture and channeled it into HeyLet’sGo! Tim’s work as a Writer, Director and Creative Director has been featured in Adweek, Ad Age’s Creativity Online, One Show, Cannes, Clio, Webbys, Shorty Awards, The Minneapolis Show, Communication Arts, and the New England Hatch Awards (twice winning Best of Show). He’s name-checked in the influential advertising book Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. Archive Magazine ranks him as one of the top ten U.S. writers of all time. Beyond advertising, his films have screened in competition at such festivals at Locarno, Montreal World, Vancouver, New Orleans, FantasticFest, Cleveland and Independent Film Festival of Boston. His feature-length documentary “From Nothing, Something” was acquired by The Orchard – one of the world’s largest independent distributors – and released in over a dozen countries worldwide. Tim is also an ASCAP songwriter whose music has been featured in hundreds of television shows around the world.

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“Any small business person or really anyone selling anything should make Make|SHIFT required viewing.” – Tom Santilli, Movie Show Plus

“If you’ve never given advertising much though, you’ll find this documentary a real eye-opener.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

 

Groomed – Director Gwen van de Pas

GROOMED is the devastatingly powerful story of filmmaker Gwen van de Pas as she returns to her hometown in search of answers about the man who sexually abused her as a child. To understand her ongoing traumas, Gwen travels to meet survivors, psychologists, and even a convicted sex offender.  Produced by Gwen van de Pas, Bill Guttentag, and Dylan Nelson, GROOMED addresses a common yet little understood manipulation type called ‘grooming’, how to recognize it, and how to stop it. What begins as an exploration into grooming becomes a dramatic journey where Gwen faces unexpected revelations in her case, finally finds her anger, and boldly confronts the evil we’d rather ignore. Filmmaker and subject of Groomed, Gwen van de Pas joins us for a conversation on the setbacks and the triumphs she has experienced during the many years she has lived with the trauma of sexual abuse and why it was so important for her to make this film.

 

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For news and updates go to: groomedthemovie.com

Groomed is available now on Discovery Plus at discoveryplus.com

About the filmmaker – Gwen van de Pas is a Dutch filmmaker who lived in San Francisco for 12 years. She studied Film in Holland, holds an MBA from Stanford, and worked for Consulting firm Bain & Company for 12 years. Passionate about stories that matter, she’s ready to tell the story of “GROOMED.”

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“Van de Pas calls on experts, psychologists and a convicted sex offender for interviews, but the most illuminating examples come from her own story.” – Natalia Winkelman, New York Times

“Director Gwen van de Pass, who lives in San Francisco as an adult, turns the tables on that scenario by being able take control of the narrative of own sexual abuse story. – Susan Wloszczyna, AWFJ Women on Film

“Van de Pas structures her film efficiently, creating, despite the dark topics, a highly watchable mix of facts and figures and trauma and healing.” – Anita Katz, San Francisco Examiner

Islands – Director Martin Edralin

Martin Edralin’s feature debut film, Islands centers on the life of Joshua (Rogelio Balagtas), a timid, middle-aged Filipino immigrant, who works as a janitor at a local school, has lived in the comfort of his parents’ home his entire life. One day he pleads with God to find him a wife for fear of being alone forever.  When his mother (Vangie Alcasid) suddenly passes, Joshua quits his job to take on full-time  care of his ailing and depressed father (Esteban Comilang). Inexperienced at taking care of anyone, including himself,  Joshua struggles with his father’s care. Help arrives when a cousin, Marisol, (Sheila Lotuaco) visiting from abroad.  Marisol’s warmth and nurturing breathes new life into the home and stirs confused emotions in him. ISLANDS director, producer and screenwriter Martin Edralin (Calvin, Emma, joins us for a conversation on his desire to explore the Filipino diaspora experience in his award-winning, and offbeat story of filial duty and adult puppy love. 

 

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ISLANDS – 2021 South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) – World Premiere

2021 SXSW Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Performance – Rogelio Balagtas

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After the Murder of Albert Lima – Director Aengus James

Aengus James’ Award-winning documentary AFTER THE MURDER OF ALBERT LIMA tells the story of a son obsessed with capturing his father’s killer. Paul Lima has spent over a decade seeking justice for his slain father, Albert. Though convicted, Albert’s murderer has remained free in Honduras. After years of the legal system failing him, Paul takes the unorthodox step of hiring two bounty hunters to travel with him to Honduras to track down and capture his father’s killer. This riveting, and, at times, darkly comedic documentary explores both the importance of family and the dangers of taking the law into your own hands. Director Aengus James (I Am Jazz, Scandalous) joins us to talk about the tragedy that has been visited upon the Lima family, the heart-stopping actions that Paul and James’ crew took in the bring this story to life and the collapse of any semblance of civil society in Honduras.

 

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For news, and updates go to: after-the-murder-of-albert-lima

To watch go to: crackle.com/watch

Director’s Statement – A man hires two bounty hunters to help him kidnap his father’s killer in Honduras… what could possibly go wrong? From the beginning, this was a bad idea.  At the time we filmed this documentary, a report on NPR named Honduras the murder capital of the world; it had a case closure rate of just 2.5%. When I first met Paul (Lima), he was at a breaking point. The desperation he felt was echoed by victims’ families in Honduras we spoke to. What is justice in a broken and horribly corrupt system? Is vengeance just? Paul’s obsession for justice and his moral struggle with vengeance compelled me to follow him on this deeply flawed adventure. – Aengus James

About the filmmaker – Aengus James is an award-winning filmmaker and television producer. His recent works include SCANDALOUS (Magnolia, CNN, BBC), Undercover Billionaire (Discovery), and the GLAAD Media Award-winning I Am Jazz (TLC). Aengus began his career serving as Barry Levinson’s cinematographer in POLIWOOD.  AFTER THE MURDER OF ALBERT LIMA follows Aengus’ directorial debut and IDA award nominated documentary comedy AMERICAN HARMONY. He has created and directed content for global brands and non-profits, and his work has received numerous honors including special recognition from the White House and the United Nations for raising awareness on issues including veterans’ mental health and women’s healthcare around the world. Aengus is the co-founder and head of This is Just a Test.

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“More than once I had to hit pause to investigate if what I was seeing actually happened, but it ended up winning me over with its absurd and equally emotional and healing story.” – Jorge Rivera Rubio, QiiBO

“After the Murder of Albert Lima is a truly singular experience, stuck somewhere between laughter and tears.” – Rob Aldam, Backseat Mafia

’Til Kingdom Come, Director Maya Zinshtein & Producer Abraham (Abie) Troen

Director Maya Zinshtein and Producer Abraham (Abie) Troen’s well-balanced, insightful documentary ’TIL KINGDOM COME focuses on the millions of American Evangelicals who are praying for the State of Israel. Among them are the Binghams, a dynasty of Kentucky pastors, and their Evangelical congregants in an impoverished coal mining town. They donate sacrificially to Israel’s foremost philanthropic organization, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, because they fervently believe the Jews are crucial to Jesus’s return. ’TIL KINGDOM COME traces this unusual relationship, from rural Kentucky to the halls of government in Washington, through the moving of the American Embassy in Jerusalem and to the annexation plan of the West-Bank. With unparalleled access, the film exposes a stunning backstory of the Trump and Netanyahu administrations, where financial, political and messianic motivations intersect with the apocalyptic worldview that is insistently reshaping American foreign policy toward Israel and the Middle-East. Director Maya Zinshtein and Producer Abie Troen join us for a lively conversation on how their clear-eyed film takes us right into the heart of some of the world’s most powerful political forces and how this confluence of interests are apparently hellbent to realize a worldview where the world ends in fiery judgement for non-believers and true believers.

 

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

About the filmmaker – Maya Zinshtein – Director, producer Maya Zinshtein is an Emmy award-winning Israeli documentary filmmaker and journalist with a BA in Cinema and French studies and an MA in Security and Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University. Her last documentary “Forever Pure” won an Emmy award for Outstanding Politics and Government documentary in 2018 (Independent Lens/PBS). An alumna of Sundance Institute, for the last ten years she has directed and produced documentaries broadcast on Israeli TV and abroad including by Netflix, BBC, ARTE/ZDF, and PBS, and screened at over 100 festivals around the world.

About the filmmaker – Abraham (Abie) Troen – Producer, Cinematography Abraham “Abie” Troen is an award-winning documentary filmmaker & D.O.P. He has led doc projects in Israel, Kenya, India, Mexico and the US, his work screened at TIFF, SXSW, Doc NYC, IDFA and online for National Geographic, Vanity Fair, CNE and Out Magazine. Abie studied at the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem and Brandeis University before receiving an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. There he was awarded the Annenberg Fellowship for specializing in documentary filmmaking. He currently resides in LA and films on both sides of the Atlantic.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A toxic mix of fundamentalist religion and real world politics is examined soberly but startlingly by Israeli documentarist Maya Zinstein in ‘Til Kingdom Come.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen International

“Evangelicals and right-wing Jews make for strange bedfellows and ‘Til Kingdom Come shows why people should be uncomfortable.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“Hones in on one of the three legs of the stool that Trump sat on. (The other two are white supremacy and nativism.)” – Louis Proyect, Counterpunch.org

“Awaiting the Messiah – second coming or first?” – Harvey S. Karten, Shockya.com

Stray – Director Elizabeth Lo

STRAY explores what it means to live as a being without status or security, following three strays as they embark on inconspicuous journeys through Turkish society. Zeytin, fiercely independent, embarks on  adventures through the city at night; Nazar, nurturing and protective, easily befriends the humans around her; while Kartal, a shy puppy living on the outskirts of a construction site, finds companions in the security guards who care for her. The strays’ disparate lives intersect when they each form intimate bonds with a group of young Syrians with whom they share the streets. Director Elizabeth Lo joins us to talk about her remarkable debut documentary film, meeting Zeytin and Nazar and how she navigated the streets and the people of Istanbul to present an illuminating observation of human civilization through the unfamiliar gaze of dogs and a sensory voyage into new ways of seeing.

 

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For news and updates go to: straymovie.com

Watch at: straymovie.com/tickets

2021 Spirit Award nomination for the Truer Than Fiction Award

Director’s Statement – The impetus for STRAY is personal. When my childhood dog died, I felt a quiet need to suppress my grief at his passing. I was shocked that something as personal as how my heart responds to the death of a loved one could be shaped by an external politics that defined him or “it” as “valueless.” As my grief evolved, I also saw how our moral conceptions of who or how much one matters can be in constant flux. This transformative moment is what propels STRAY’s exploration into value, hierarchy, and sentience. In 2017, I traveled to Turkey, a country whose history and relationship with strays is unique in the world. Turkish authorities have tried to annihilate stray dogs since 1909, leading to mass killings of Istanbul’s street dogs for the last century. But widespread protests against these killings transformed Turkey into one of the only countries where it is now illegal to euthanize or hold captive any stray dog. Every free-roaming dog today is an emblem of resistance — living manifestations of compassion in the face of intolerance. I first met Zeytin, our canine protagonist, as she hurried past me in a busy underground tunnel in Istanbul. Intrigued by her sense of purposefulness, I chased after her. She was joined by Nazar, another street dog. As it turned out, they were on the heels of a group of young men from Syria — Jamil, Halil and Ali — who were living on the streets as refugees in Turkey. Zeytin quickly emerged as the focus of our production because she was one of the rare dogs we followed who did not inadvertently end up following us back. To the very last day of shooting, she remained radically independent. In Zeytin I saw a character who could fully envelop us within her own non-human will — a quality that was vital to a story about dogs who, unlike pets, are not only defined by their relationship to humans. My journey through Turkey traversed a socio-cultural terrain in which for a moment, one nation became refuge for many others. When xenophobia, species destruction and nationalist sentiment are rising all around the world, STRAY springs from these cracks in our anthropocentric modernity. It asks us to re-evaluate what it means that our streets are continuously emptied of everyone except those whom we’ve deemed to be its legitimate citizens. Through STRAY, I hope to continually push the boundaries of the cinematic medium in order to explore and challenge unequal states of personhood — to expand viewers’ circles of moral and perceptual consideration beyond their own class, culture, and species. – Elizabeth Lo

About the filmmaker – Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor Elizabth Lo is an award-winning filmmaker. Her work has been broadcast and showcased internationally, including at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs, True/False, BAM Cinema fest, New York Times Op-Docs, and PBS POV. Elizabeth was named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine in 2015 and was featured in the 2015 Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase at Cannes Lion. She was selected for the New York Film Festival Artist Academy in 2018 and the Locarno Film Festival Filmmakers Academy in 2019. Elizabeth’s work has played at over 100 film festivals and has won numerous awards. Her short films include Hotel 22 (2015), Bisonhead (2016), Mother’s Day (2017), The Disclosure President (2016), Notes from Buena Vista (2016), Treasure Island (2014), and Last Stop in Santa Rosa (2013). In 2017, her collected shorts were released by Video Project as a DVD, The Short Films of Elizabeth Lo, for distribution to educational institutions and libraries around the world. Elizabeth was born and raised in Hong Kong and holds a B.F.A. from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and an M.F.A. from Stanford University. STRAY is her feature film debut. 

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95% on Rotten Tomatoes

“The ultimate love letter to dogs and a multifaceted moral inquiry into humanity… [A] virtuosic feature documentary debut.” – Tomris Laffly, Variety

“Dog lovers will drool over this profound canine love letter from Turkey.  Gorgeous, absorbing…The dogs run most of the show, and they serve as remarkable centerpieces in a complex visual tapestry.”- Eric Kohn, IndieWire 

“A howling success. Artful, intimate… ‘Stray’ shines a piercing light on what it means to be an outcast in a teeming metropolis.”- Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter

“As simple as its title and as complex as the city it briefly illuminates…” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

“Lo inspects both the faultlines and fringes of the Turkish society and ponders profound philosophical questions concerning humanity.” – Tomris Laffly, Variety

La Llorona – Director Jayro Bustamante

Ripped from the pages of Guatemala’s recent wrenching history, LA LLORONA follows the story of a fictional and indignant retired general, Enrique, as he is being forced to face his murderous past at his own trial for the genocidal massacre of thousands of Mayans decades ago. As a horde of angry protestors threatens to invade their opulent home, the women of the house – his haute wife, conflicted daughter, and precocious granddaughter – weigh their responsibility to shield the erratic, senile Enrique against the devastating truths behind being publicly revealed and the increasing sense that a wrathful supernatural force is targeting them for his crimes. Meanwhile, much of the family’s domestic staff flees, leaving only loyal housekeeper Valeriana until a mysterious young indigenous maid arrives. A tale of horror and magical realism, the film reimagines the iconic Latin American fable as an urgent metaphor of Guatemala’s recent history and tears open the country’s unhealed political wounds to grieve a seldom discussed crime against humanity. LA LLORONA marks Jayro Bustamante’s third feature and demonstrates his continued efforts to highlight social inequality in his native Guatemala with deft sensitivity and visual richness. The Silver Bear-winning director, writer, producer and editor, Jayro Bustamante (Temblores, Ixcanul) joins us to talk about his tale of horror and fantasy, ripe with suspense, and an urgent metaphor of Guatemalan recent history and its unhealed political wounds, 

 

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For news and updates go to: filmfactoryentertainment.com/la-llorona

LA LLORONA will make its U.S. theatrical premiere this Friday, March 5 as part of the programming at the IFC Center, which is reopening following one year of closures of New York City movie theaters. 

LA LLORONA is Guatemala’s Official Oscar® entry for Best International Feature Film, and one of the 15 films shortlisted being considered for the final five films in the running for the Academy Award.

2021 National Board of Review WINNER – Best Foreign Language Film
2021 Satellite Awards WINNER – Best Film, International
2021 Critics Choice Awards Nominee – Best Foreign Language Film

97% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Bustamante’s La Llorona is a bold assertion of the embedded prejudice against indigenous populations in his home country of Guatemala while also asserting that women and children in particular bore the brunt of the violence.” – Natalia Keogan, Paste Magazine

“Smart and elegant. The real horror lies not in the supernatural but in the savage acts of men.” – Carolina Miranda, Los Angeles Times

“Bustamante’s reimagining of the famous folkloric figure is a reminder that in the right hands, horror can be turned into something with almost indescribably enormous ideological potency.” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ Women on Film

“Bustamante’s latest travels into the dark recesses of the human condition to shine a brightly shimmering spotlight on vile evils that should never be locked away and forgotten.” Sara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com

“La Llorona is a beautifully conceived and constructed piece which cleverly utilises ghost story tropes, imagery and sound effects to enhance the impact of its real-life inspired revelations.” – Emma Simmonds, The List

Mr. Soul! – Director Melissa Haizlip

From 1968 to 1973, the public television variety show SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an unfiltered, uncompromising celebration of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics—voices that had few other options for national exposure, and, as a result, found the program an improbable place to call home.  The WNET-based series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement. With participants’ recollections and illuminating archival clips, Mr. SOUL! captures a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate, and an unsung hero whose voice we need now more than ever to restore the SOUL of a nation. Director / Producer / Writer and the niece of Ellis Haizlip, Melissa Haizlip joins us for a lively conversation on the joy and passion that her uncle brought to all of his artistic projects but none more than this resounding response to a constipated white culture that marginalized outside voices with a joyous ode to the astounding depth and breath of Black Culture.

 

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

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** Mr. Soul!’s Show Me Your Soul – 2021 Oscar® Shortlisted for the Best Song

About the filmmaker – Melissa Haizlip, Producer, Director, Writer is an award-winning filmmaker based in New York. Her work responds to pressing social issues at the intersection of racial justice, social justice, activism, and representation. Female transformation and empowerment are at the core of all of her ideas, with the goal being to advocate and amplify the voices of women and people of color. Melissa’s feature documentary, Mr. SOUL!, has been shortlisted for the Oscars, for Best Original Song. Mr. SOUL! has been nominated by the Guild of Music Supervisors for Best Music Supervision for a Documentary. Mr. SOUL! is also nominated for three NAACP Image Awards, including Outstanding Documentary (Film), Outstanding Writing in a Documentary (Television or Motion Picture), and Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture). Mr. SOUL! won the 2020 Critics Choice Documentary Award for Best First Documentary Feature. Melissa’s two-channel art films have been exhibited by the Hammer Museum Los Angeles Biennial, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Melissa has been awarded grants from the Ford Foundation JustFilms, National Endowment for the Humanities, International Documentary Association, National Endowment for the Arts, Black Public Media, Firelight Media, ITVS, Awesome Without Borders, and Puffin Foundation. Melissa went to Yale University. She’s currently co-executive producing a docu-series on women in hip-hop for Netflix.

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96% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Mr. Soul! is an effulgent and joyous celebration of the life-changing public broadcasting program. … Imagine for a moment what pop culture might be like without Questlove and you may have a small sense of what things would be like without SOUL!.” – Douglas Davidson, CLTure

“There’s a sense of overpowering love and gratitude for Haizlip that’s beautiful and wholly felt throughout Mr. Soul!’s runtime, and it’s as warm and comforting as the hot milk cake that Haizlip’s mom used to make for him.” – Jenny Nulf, Austin Chronicle

“Broad in scope and rapidly paced, the film can feel as if it’s bursting at the seams. But it acutely conveys the radical joy that “Soul!” inspired, barely contained in the movie’s running time.” – Devika Girish, New York Times

“Mr. SOUL brings the amazing individual that was Ellis Haizlip back into the forefront of his and our cultural history.” – Robert Daniels, 812filmreviews

“[Mr. Soul!] highlights black excellence and champions equality, tolerance and inclusion … that it manages to be funny, charming, and uplifting is icing on the cake.” – Victor Stiff, Goomba Stomp

“A rich and illuminating piece of cultural history.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter

Underplayed – Director Stacey Lee

Filmed over the summer festival season, UNDERPLAYED presents a portrait of the current status of the gender, ethnic, and sexual equality issues through the lens of the female pioneers, next-generation artists, and industry leaders who are championing the change, and inspiring a more diverse pool of role models for future generations. The impetus for the UNDERPLAYED came to light during the 2018 Bud Light House Party Tour, when Bud Light Canada sat down with artists from diverse backgrounds and genres to learn about the evolution of their careers, and their unique experiences in recording, touring, and performing. Key conversations with female DJs exposed a striking gender inequality in the space, and further research substantiated their experiences. Electronic music was born from the ideals of diversity, community, and inclusivity; yet in 2019 only 7% of Billboard’s Top 100 DJs were women. They make up less than 3% of production and technical roles in the music industry. For women of color, it’s less than 0.3%.An official selection of both the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, UNDERPLAYED features NERVO, Rezz, TOKiMONSTA, Alison Wonderland, and Tygapaw. Director Stacey Lee stops by to talk about just how grotesquely under represented women are in a music genre that has made truckloads of music from a female fan base that is ready and willing to support a rise wave of women taking their place behind soundboards and laptops all around the world.

 

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

UNDERPLAYED will have its global on demand release on Monday, March 8. In the U.S. and abroad, the film will be released on Amazon Prime Video.

World Premiere – 2020 Toronto International Film Festival

Official Selection – 2020 Tribeca Film Festival

Director’s Statement – “When the pioneering godmothers of electronic music first began tinkering away in their scientific labs back in the 50s and 60s, they could never have imagined their little back room experiments would make way for a blossoming 8 billion dollar global industry today. Nor could they have foreseen how drastically its very creative, egalitarian roots would transmute from an open experimental playing field, to an industry dominated by a one-dimensional male point of view. This is a universal theme, and sadly one that I can personally relate to as a “female” filmmaker in a heavily male field. I empathize and understand the frustration of having to fight harder to be considered for jobs “because there aren’t as many good female directors,” to turn a deaf ear to the belief that women “can’t be technical”, that we don’t deserve equal pay, or in my instance, hiding my pregnancy beneath an oversized blazer so I wouldn’t jeopardize my chances of securing jobs. When I learned about the shared plight of the women in electronic music, I saw a necessity to tell a story that speaks to the deeply personal and very human impact of this global issue. That transcends the music space, and speaks to the collective experience of so many working women today from film to politics and beyond.” Ultimately Underplayed raises the question; do we want our ears to be controlled by logarithms, safe bets and preconceived formulas…or become a space that is radically free to sound as rich, diverse and ever- changing as the world around us? The hope is for Underplayed to stimulate the conversation needed to break down the systematic bias’ and bring electronic music back to its open, diverse and fiercely experimental roots. To remind us that equality isn’t about one side defeating the other, but by all sides coming together for the greater good. Because the more we can lift each other up, the more we all have to gain.” – Stacey Lee

About the filmmaker – Director Stacey Lee was born in New Zealand, Stacey Lee’s work focuses on humanity, music, and movement. Her documentary short Live Fast Draw Yung premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2015, winning awards in Atlanta and Tacoma. She was recently shortlisted for the Cannes Young Directors Award and selected as part of the DGA/AICP Diversity Showcase. Underplayed is her feature debut. 

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“By its conclusion, you will want to check out everyone’s playlists, spin some tunes and get a groove on. May they never be underplayed again.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail

“Stacey Lee’s film will have one pumping your fist in solidarity with these insanely talented women while simultaneously bopping your head to their infectious beats.” – Courtney Small, That Shelf

“In an industry that has historically failed to make space for female artists, creating safe spaces where women can feel seen and heard is crucial. – Natalia Winkelman, The Daily Beast

“Directed by Stacey Lee, the in-depth Underplayed looks at how women have risen to take up space in the male-dominated music production world.” – Carolyn Mauricette, View From The Dark

LUCKY – Director Natasha Kermani & Writer / Lead Actor Brea Grant

In the unnerving and creeping panic that is LUCKY, life takes a sudden turn for May, a popular self-help book author, when she finds herself the target of a mysterious man with murderous intentions. Every night, without fail he comes after her, and every day the people around her barely seem to notice. With no one to turn to, May is pushed to her limits and must take matters into her own hands to survive and to regain control of her life. The sophomore feature from Iranian-American filmmaker Natasha Kermani (Imitation Girl), Lucky is written and starring Brea Grant, star of the indie darling AFTER MIDNIGHT and writer/director of the critically acclaimed dark comedy 12 HOUR SHHIFT  Home invasion horror by way of a time loop mystery, LUCKY is a uniquely nightmarish, darkly funny, and timely slasher, and a thrilling addition to the Final Girl genre. Brea Grant stars alongside Dhruv Uday Singh (Good Trouble) and Kausar Mohammed (East of La Brea, What Men Want). Director Natasha Kermani and screenwriter / lead actor Brea Grant join us to talk about how they brought life to their feminist allegory on how relentless cultural and psychological duress undermines women and why injecting their perspective into a horror genre helps them deliver the appropriate mix of fear and reflection.

 

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For news, updates and screenings go to: epic-pictures.com/lucky

Lucky will premiere and debut exclusively to Shudder on March 4th in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as via the Shudder offering within the AMC+ bundle where available. www.shudder.com.

About the filmmaker – Director Natasha Kermani is a writer and director in LA/NY, and the co-founder of Illium Pictures. Natasha’s credits includes science-fiction feature film Imitation Girl (FrightFest ‘17), starring Lauren Ashley Carter. Short form work includes Lewis Black’s web series The Mentors (for which she won Best Director at the NYC Web Fest), the very first live-action short film of beloved manga series, Battle Angel Alita, and the short film POLE, the first film to be funded entirely on twitch.tv. Kermani has directed a variety of commercial content for clients including NYDJ, Thinx, Microsoft, and ThirdLove. Outside film and television, Natasha is a violinist and composer who enjoys playing live shows with local bands and ensembles. Natasha’s Iranian-American heritage, her interest in female-led stories, and her love for genre- filmmaking all converge in her work — a lyrical exploration of how we experience the world around us. 

About the filmmaker – Writer and Lead Actor Brea Grant’s first television acting job was on Friday Night Lights. She is best known for her role as Daphne Millbrook on Heroes. Other TV credits include the series, Cold Case. She has starred in several films, including Battle Planet and Homecoming. She directed and starred in a post-apocalyptic film called Best Friends Forever. She also created a comic book miniseries called We Will Bury You with her brother Zane Grant and artist Kyle Strahm. She continued with the SuicideGirls comic miniseries, based on the pin-up web site of the same name.

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91% on Rotten Tomatoes

“As the filmmakers dial in tighter on those keen observations, their movie gets more and more chilling.” – Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

“Lucky has something to say, and Grant has thought very deeply about the subjects of violence against women and trauma, as well as gender-based assumptions about these things.” – Sheila O’Malley, RogerEbert.com

“Lucky is a suspenseful, magnificently told metaphor for the real-life horrors women face on a daily basis.” – Molly Henery, The Blogging Banshee

“If you know someone who doesn’t quite grasp the emotional terrorism behind concepts like gaslighting and victim-blaming, sit them down with Lucky.” – Katie Rife, AV Club

“Harrowing experiences are revealed through disorienting sequences heightened by sleek cinematography from Julia Swain and a powerful lead performance from Grant.” – Katherine McLaughlin, Through the Trees

“A gutsy, kick-ass performance from Brea Grant combines with intricately thoughtful directing by Kermani to create a refreshingly modern spin on the tormented female story.” – Kat Hughes, THN

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.

 

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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

The War and Peace of Tim O’Brien – Director Aaron Matthews

In Aaron Matthews’ clear-eyed look into the life and times of a writer that has been called “the best American writer of his generation,” and our “poet laureate of war” Tim O’Brien. A Vietnam veteran, and National Book Award-winner, O’Brien is one of the great voices in modern American literature. The Library of Congress recently named his groundbreaking novel about the Vietnam War, “The Things They Carried,” one of the 65 most influential books in American history. It’s practically a cliché in the military – the book everyone carries is “The Things They Carried.” But O’Brien hasn’t put pen to paper in nearly two decades. He swore off making sentences when, at a late age, he had his first of two  children. Plus, the nation was waging new wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that he couldn’t wrap his head around – wars that both reconfirmed and upended the notions of war, soldiers, and society that animated his books. Now, Tim O’Brien is trying to write again. He thinks the country is past due for a conversation about war’s impact. He thinks we’re running out of time. And, at age 70, that he is too. THE WAR AND PEACE OF TIM O”BRIEN follows O’Brien on his journey writing his next and last book. What makes wars worth fighting? How do we write about war? What are the obligations of citizens with respect to war?  What are the after-effects of war on individuals and families? Director Aaron Matthews (Token Exchange, The Paper), brings us inside the lives of the O’Brien family with his intimate film about the struggles of a world-renowned war writer illuminates the everyday ties between duty, art, family, and the trauma of war.

 

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

About the filmmaker – Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor: Aaron Matthews is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose films have appeared on national and international television, and at over fifty film festivals around the world. His documentaries include, The Paper, A Panther in Africa, andMy American Girls, all broadcast on PBS’s flagship documentary series POV, or Independent Lens. He has been a Sundance Fellow and has received funding from The Sundance Institute, The Independent Television Service, The New York State Council on the Arts, The Jerome Foundation, The Brooklyn Arts Council, The Puffin Foundation, and Latino Public Broadcasting. Aaron Matthews holds a degree in English literature from Wesleyan University, and lives in Brooklyn. For more about the filmmaker: aaronmatthews.com

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“As O’Brien…pours a little more of himself onto every hard-won page, all I could think to say is “Thank you for your service.”” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

Little Fish – Director Chad Hartigan

LITTLE FISH, the fourth feature film from director Chad Hartigan, is a romance set in a near-future Seattle teetering on the brink of calamity. The film imagines a world where a pandemic has broken out, that strikes with no rhyme or reason, and causes its victims to lose their memories. This is the world that newlyweds Emma and Jude find themselves in, not long after meeting and falling in love. When Jude contracts the disease, the young couple will do anything to hold onto the memory of their love.  Starring Olivia Cooke (Sound of Metal, Thoroughbreds) as Emma, Jack O’Connell (’71, Starred Up) as Jude, Soko and Raul Castillo, LITTLE FISH, opens in the midst of a global epidemic: Neuroinflammatory Affliction, a severe and rapid Alzheimer’s-like condition in which people’s memories disappear. Couple Jude Williams and Emma Ryerson are grappling with the realities of NIA, interspersed with glimpses from the past as the two meet and their relationship blooms. But as NIA’s grip on society tightens, blurring the lines between the past and the present, it becomes more and more difficult to know what’s true and what’s false. Director Chad Hartigan (Morris From America, This is Martin Bonner) joins us for a conversation on the making of his  subversively sly sci-fi / love story and how the on-screen artistry of the two lead actors helped shape this prescient tale of love in an age of isolation and mistrust.

 

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For news and updates go to: littlefish.movie

About the filmmaker – Writer/director Chad Hartigan is best known for his award-winning feature films THIS IS MARTIN BONNER and MORRIS FROM AMERICA. Hartigan won the John Cassavetes Award at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards, as well as the “Best of NEXT” Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, for THIS IS MARTIN BONNER. Hartigan won the Waldo Scott Screenwriter Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival for his film MORRIS FROM AMERICA. LITTLE FISH marks the third collaboration between childhood friends Hartigan, composer Keegan Dewitt (HEARTS BEAT LOUD) and cinematographer Sean McElwee (THE INCREDIBLE JESSICA JAMES). Based on Aja Gabel’s short story, the film is written by up and coming screenwriter Mattson Tomlin who co-wrote the latest Batman film, THE BATMAN, and wrote the Netflix hit PROJECT POWER.

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“In the midst of a flurry of pandemic-themed media coming out which tries to reflect the [present] situation, LITTLE FISH manages to distinguish itself from the crowd with its brilliant leads and emotional resonance.” – Oluwatayo Adewole, The Spool

“The result is better than smart, it’s stirring. With the NIA pandemic as a pretext, the essential subject becomes memory — its fragility, its wondrousness, its centrality to our existence as sentient beings.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

“Hartigan’s moody evocation of Emma and Jack’s love – and the way in which it, like so much else, is predicated on knowledge of the past – casts a moving spell.” – Nick Schager, Variety

“Chad Hartigan’s Little Fish drips with equal doses of beauty and poignancy – an affecting dive into love and memory, and how it defines who we are.” – Natasha Alvar, Cultured Vultures

Night of the Kings – Director Philippe Lacôte

In the 2021 OSCAR® Shortlisted for Best International Feature Film, NIGHT OF THE KINGS a young man is sent to LA MACA, a prison in the middle of the Ivorian forest ruled by its inmates. As tradition goes with the rising of the red moon, he is designated by the Boss to be the new “Roman” and must tell a story to the other prisoners. Learning what fate awaits him, he begins to narrate the mystical life of the legendary outlaw named Zama King and has no choice but to make his story last until dawn. Director Philippe Lacôte (Chronicles of War in the Ivory Coast, Run) joins us to talk about his searingly dramatic film that feels like part documentary, part narrative as it tracks a story of survival, deception, mythology and the power of storytelling.

 

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For news and updates go to: neonrated.com/films/night-of-the-kings

IN SELECT THEATERS AND VIRTUAL CINEMAS
LAEMMLE VIRTUAL CINEMA in Los Angeles Area

 

About the filmmaker – Writer and Director Philippe Lacote grew up in Abidjan near a movie theater – the “Magic”. His work as a director has taken on several forms, before focusing in 2002 on the recent history of his country with CHRONICLES OF WAR IN THE IVORY COAST, a film on the edge between a documentary and a diary. It is followed by the feature film RUN, the story of a wandering madman, selected in Cannes Un Certain Regard 2014. This selection confirmed his talent as a filmmaker and revealed a new voice from the African continent. NIGHT OF THE KINGS (original title “La Nuit Des Rois”), his second feature, is a dive into the largest prison in West Africa, during a night of red moon.

Nominee – Best International Feature Films – Film Independent Spirit Awards 2021
Nominee – Outstanding International Motion Picture – NAACP Image Awards 2021
One of the Top Five Best International Feature Films – NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW
Winner – Amplify Voices Award – Toronto International Film Festival 2020

96% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A power struggle and a ritual practiced by the collective within a microcosm of society housed under the oppression of the state, and a powerful demonstration of the transporting, and liberating, power of narrative.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

“An assured, energetic piece of epic filmmaking, one that celebrates how storytelling, oration, and folklore teach us about our past so we might change our present.” – Robert Daniels RogerEbert.com

“Philippe Lacôte’s restless film – a rare United States release from Ivory Coast – braids together its struggles for survival to suggest an entire country fighting to emerge.” – Nicolas Rapold, New York Times

“This captivating hybrid of a movie mixes fairy-tale and storytelling elements with a vividly drawn backdrop of heightened realism… and relies on images and sounds as much as the human voice to tell its multiple stories.” – Boyd van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter

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.

 

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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  

Do Not Split – Director Anders Hammer

Filmed across an entire year, DO NOT SPLIT takes us within the heart of the 2019 Hong Kong protests, capturing the determination and sacrifices of the city’s youth as their movement becomes symbolic for a generation’s rebellion against the political systems of two governments. Armed with umbrellas, gas masks, social media, and sheer determination, the protestors risk their lives, safety, and futures against the police’s tear gas, armed vehicles, and violence. Anders Hammer’s powerful film paints a nuanced and sobering picture of the challenges faced by the protestors,  joining student leaders and protestors on the ground to give an expansive and first-hand portrait of the unrest that prompted a government’s backlash, the passage of the new Beijing-backed national security law, and captured the attention of the world. Director Anders Hammer joins us to talk about the history of Hong Kong’s relationship to the British empire and the handover to the People’s Republic of China, the 20-year deterioration of civil and political rights as well as the determined bravery of the student led protestors determined to resist the tightening grip of an increasingly oppressive regime.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to andershammer.com

2021 Oscar® shortlist – Best Documentary (Short form)

DO NOT SPLIT premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival; screened at CPH:DOX, Guanajuato International Film Festival, Denver Film Festival, SFFILM’s Doc Stories, Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI, and Indy Shorts International Film Festival; and received the AFI DOCS Short Film Special Jury Prize and Special Jury Recognition for Courage Under Fire at DOC NYC.

About the filmmaker – Anders Hammer has filmed and directed the documentary Do Not Split which takes us within the heart of the Hong Kong protests that started in the summer of 2019. The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and received the Special Jury Prize at AFI DOCS and Special Jury Recognition for Courage under Fire at DOC NYC. Hammer directed the documentary series Our Allies for Field of Vision. He also directed and produced Escape from Syria: Rania’s Odyssey, which was published by The Guardian and won a Webby Award and a One World Media Award for Best Refugee Reporting in 2018. The documentary went viral and gained more than 10 million views and 100,000 shares in social media. Hammer is one of the directors of the documentary  Exit Afghanistan published by Netflix. He has directed seven documentaries for the Norwegian investigative journalism program NRK Brennpunkt and many short documentaries. Hammer lived and worked in Afghanistan for six years and has written four documentary books about the country, one of them together with the Danish author Carsten Jensen. In Norway, where Hammer was born in 1977, he has received the Fritt Ord Award (which is given in support of freedom of expression), the International Reporter’s Journalism Award and the Big Journalist Award.

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“A visually stunning piece of reportage” – Nick Cunningham, BusinessDoc Europe

“A frenetic, urgent look at the protests that have rocked the city since June 2019” – Susannah Gruder, Hyperallergic

A Concerto is a Conversation – Co-directors Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers

The new short subject documentary A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION tells the story of virtuoso jazz pianist and film composer Kris Bowers as he tracks his family’s lineage through his 91-year-old grandfather, Horace Bowers, from Jim Crow Florida to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. In the 13-minute film A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION, Bowers traces the process of breaking into new spaces through generations of sacrifice that came before him, focusing on the story of his grandfather Horace Bowers. As a young man, he left his home in  the Jim Crow South, eventually ending up in Los Angeles. Encountering discrimination at every turn, he and his wife, Alice, nevertheless made a life as business owners. Today, their legacy lives on through their family and community in South Los Angeles, where a stretch of Central Avenue was recently designated Bowers Retail Square — in case any question remained about whether it’s a place they belong. Horace Bowers tells his grandson Kris Bowers,  “Never think that you’re not supposed to be there.” A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION, co-directors Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers join us for a conversation on their deeply personal film, primer on race in Southern California and the power of music and family to help us all see the world beyond ourselves.

 

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For news and updates go to: breakwaterstudios.com/a-concerto-is-a-conversation

Click here to watch: A Concerto is a Conversation

A Concerto is a Conversation has been shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Documentary – Short Form

About the filmmaker – Kristopher Bowers (born 1989) is an American composer and pianist who has composed scores for films, video games, television and documentaries including, “Green Book,” Madden NFL, “Dear White People,” and Kobe Bryant’s “Muse.” He has recorded, performed, and collaborated with the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, and José James. He won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition in 2011 and a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition in 2017 for The Snowy Day. Bowers worked on the score of Ava DuVernay’s Netflix mini-series When They See Us as well as the current Netflix hit Bridgerton. For more go to: krisbowers.com

About the filmmaker – Ben Proudfoot (born 1990) is a Nova Scotia born filmmaker and founder of Breakwater Studios, an emerging leader in the short documentary space. A former sleight of hand magician, Ben has pioneered alternative models of short documentary financing and distribution including noteworthy and award-winning collaborations with The New York Times, Charles Schwab, Annapurna Pictures and the LA Phil, earning him a spot on the 2020 Forbes 30 under 30 list. In addition to his work as an entrepreneur, Ben is an award-winning artist and filmmaker, having directed over fifty noteworthy original short documentaries. Ben’s work as a director has been selected by HotDocs, Sundance, Tribeca and Telluride. He resides in Los Angeles. For more go to: breakwaterstudios.com

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Call Center Blues – Director Geeta Gandbhir

A character-driven, cinematic tale of deportation, migration, displacement and opportunistic capitalism, CALL CENTER BLUES follows four characters as they struggle to make sense of their lives in Tijuana. Each with a vastly different story, they are all linked by their displacement and the sole choice of call center work they have in a country that is so unfamiliar and oftentimes frightening, yet other times a ray of hope. Tijuana becomes their home, a place defined by the border but yet defiant towards it, a no man’s land where everything and everyone feels transient. These characters paint a picture of love, loss and longing – for home, for an American Dream deferred, and for justice. Director Geeta Gandbhir joins us conversation on an aspect of immigration and deportation that is as relevant and heartbreaking as any immigration issue and the importance that an Oscar nomination brings to the issue and the film.

 

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For news annd updates go to: multitudefilms.com/call-center-blues

Shortlisted for 2021 Oscar nomination for Best Documentary (Short Form)

SHORTS SHORTLIST – IDA Documentary Awards 2020
OFFICIAL SELECTION – DOC NYC Short List: Shorts 2020
OFFICIAL SELECTION – SXSW Film Festival 2020
WINNER – Best Documentary Short – Virginia Film Festival 2020
WINNER – Best Documentary Short – Fayetteville Film Festival 2020

About the filmmaker – Geeta Gandbhir is an award-winning director, producer and editor. As director, she won Best Documentary at the News and Doc Emmys for I AM EVIDENCE, an HBO Documentary Film, and Best Government and Politics Documentary for ARMED WITH FAITH, a PBS Documentary film. As editor, she won a Primetime Emmy for Best Editing for Spike Lee’s HBO documentary series WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE and also for the HBO film BY THE PEOPLE, THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA. A documentary film she co-produced, THE SENTENCE, for HBO, also won a Special Jury Primetime Emmy.Other feature docs she co-directed include PRISON DOGS, A JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES: PEACEKEEPERS, and REMEMBERING THE ARTIST: ROBERT DENIRO SR.She created and is co-directing and co-producing a series on race with The New York Times Op-Docs titled “The Conversation” which won the AFI Documentary Film Festival and a MacArthur Grant. She has been the recipient of a Ford Foundation grant, a MacArthur Grant, among others, and in 2017, she was the recipient of Chicken and Eggs prestigious Breakthrough Filmmaker Award.

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Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa – Co-directors Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Mike Attie

At the Philadelphia abortion helpline, counselors arrive each morning to the nonstop ring of calls from women and teens who are seeking to end a pregnancy but can’t afford to. In this short documentary we learn how economic stigma and cruel legislation determines who in America has access to abortion. Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa gives voice to women and teens affected by discriminatory policies like the Hyde Amendment. At the abortion helpline in Philadelphia, phone counselors—all called Lisa—arrive each morning to the nonstop ring of calls from people who are seeking to end a pregnancy . . . and can’t afford to. Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa shares the stories of the callers for whom getting through to the helpline in time can literally be life-changing—for them and their families. Co-directors Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Mike Attie join us for a conversation on the continuing assault on the Constitutionally guaranteed right of women to seek and receive access to safe and legally appropriate health services and how important these privately funded community helplines are to women and their families.

 

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For news and updates go to: abortionhelplinedoc.com

To watch the film go to: vimeo.com/staffpicks

Oscar Shortlisted 2021 Best Documentary (Short Program)

WINNER – Grand Jury Prize, Shorts – AFI DOCS 2020
NOMINEE – Best Short – IDA Awards 2020
SHORTLIST – Shorts – Cinema Eye Honors 2020
FINALIST – ShortList Film Festival 2020

 

The Hyde Amendment – What is the Hyde Amendment and why has its repeal become a litmus test for progressive politicians? In 1976, only three years after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, the Hyde Amendment was enacted with the explicit intention of denying poor individuals—those receiving Medicaid—access to abortion. To learn more about the Hyde Amendment read this or watch this short video.

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