THE LAST OUT tells the story of three talented Cuban athletes, Happy, Carlos, and Victor, leave their families and homes behind as they set off in pursuit of the ultimate dream: a contract with Major League Baseball. Cuban ballplayers are among baseball’s brightest stars but Cuban ball-players can’t just sign out of Cuba – the US Embargo is still in place and only being strengthened under the current administration – so Cubans have to leave their homeland, often under dangerous circumstances and establish residency in a third Country like The Dominican Republic, Haiti or Costa Rica. At the rundown Estadio Antonio Escarre, they have spent the past year training long and hard, thousands of miles away from their families in Cuba. They travel to Costa Rica and train under a seedy sports agent who dangles promises while exploiting their talents. As they navigate immigration and the ulterior motives of handlers, each man finds an unexpected path forward to a better life. Set against the backdrop of the dangerous Central American migrant trail, THE LAST OUT offers a rare window into the dark side of professional sports. THE LAST OUT co-directors Sami Khan and Michael Gassert stop by to talk about their process of following the many twists and turns these young men’s lives take them on and the personal risk they and their team took in chronicling it.
Sami Khan’s most recent film, the short documentary St. Louis Superman (with Smriti Mundhra), was nominated for an Academy Award® and won a Special Jury Prize at Tribeca in 2019. Michael Gassert’s documentary and archival work has been supported by IFP, the Sundance Institute, UNESCO, and the Kennedy Center.
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.
** 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.
“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 b funny, charming, and uplifting is icing on the cake.” – Victor Stiff, Goomba Stomp
The Price of Freedom is an unflinching look at the gun violence epidemic in America and the role the National Rifle Association, with its outsized political and cultural influence, has played over time. The NRA believes the deaths of innocent Americans are a necessary price to pay for the freedom to own firearms without restrictions. By manipulating the narrative around guns and backing politicians who commit to upholding their agenda, the NRA has cost us far more than we realize. Featuring passionate pleas from President William J. Clinton, Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT); NRA Board Member and former NRA President David Keene, and activists on all sides of the issue, The Price of Freedom presents a compelling case for those brave enough to take a stand against the NRA in defense of our communities and collective future. Director Judd Ehrlich joins us for a conversation on how the NRA has abandoned its founding principles of promoting safe and responsible gun ownership through locally-based training programs into a shameless shill for gun manufacturers and more recently into a pernicious, corrosive and ruthlessly divisive political force in American culture and governance.
About the filmmaker – Judd Ehrlich – Grand Clio and Emmy Award-winning director and producer is the son of an architect and schoolteacher. He grew up in lower Manhattan and, at fourteen, was the youngest feature reporter at a New York newspaper. Ehrlich’s recent documentaries KEEPERS OF THE GAME and WE COULD BE KING, produced with Tribeca Studios and The Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation, forged a new model for documentary production and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and on ABC television. KEEPERS was a New York Times Critics’ Pick and nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award and KING won an Emmy and Grand Clio Award. Both films are part of the US State Department’s American Film Showcase. Ehrlich was nominated for Emmy Awards for the Tribeca Premiere RUN FOR YOUR LIFE and the PBS broadcast MAYOR OF THE WEST SIDE. His award-winning MAGIC CAMP was optioned for narrative remake and NOTES FROM LIBERIA won several awards. Ehrlich directed two television series for ESPN and a series for The CW Network. He collaborated on the editing of Sundance-winner FAMILY NAME and Ric Burns’ Emmy-winning series, NEW YORK. Ehrlich was an editor and producer at CBS News and directed film programs at BAM, Brooklyn College, JCC Manhattan and the Brooklyn Museum, hosting notables like Darren Aronofsky, Steve Buscemi and Willem Dafoe. Ehrlich is represented by Saville Productions, joining a roster that includes Wim Wenders, Barry Levinson, Oliver Stone and Werner Herzog, and directs content for Bose, Tough Mudder, MLS, Van Cleef & Arpels, Barilla, Atlantic Philanthropies, US Cellular, and the Serena Williams Fund, to name a handful. Before film, Ehrlich was a caseworker in NYC for Project Renewal, Homes for the Homeless and YAI. He lives with his wife and two children in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where his family lived for five generations. Ehrlich is a Vassar College graduate and teaches filmmaking. For more go to: flatbushpictures.com
“An absorbing, disturbing, and scrupulously well-researched documentary that lays out the nuts and bolts of the National Rifle Association’s history.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“What makes The Price of Freedom a film that should be on your must-see list is the way Ehrlich presents all of this.” – Sabina Dana Plasse, Film Threat
“An unflinching and powerful look at what the NRA means to American politics and how it has used manipulation and scare tactics.” – Nathaniel Muir, AIPT
“Clear-eyed, compassionate and compelling, the documentary “The Price of Freedom” efficiently unpacks and debunks the myths it posits the National Rifle Assn. of America has deployed to further its all-guns-all-the-time agenda and foster a culture war.” – Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
Through shard-like glimpses of everyday life in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico, LANDFALLis a cautionary tale for our times. Set against the backdrop of protests that toppled the The United States colony’s governor in 2019, the film offers a prismatic portrait of collective trauma and resistance. While the devastation of María attracted a great deal of media coverage, the world has paid far less attention to the storm that preceded it: a 72-billion-dollar debt crisis crippling Puerto Rico well before the winds and waters hit. LANDFALL examines the kinship of these two storms-one environmental, the other economic-juxtaposing competing utopian visions of recovery. LANDFALL explores the intertwining legacies of colonialism, exploitative industries and disaster capitalism and the barriers to recovery they create. As opportunists looking to make a profit descend upon the island, the Puerto Rican diaspora comes together to create unprecedented forms of community-led mutual aid when assistance from the federal government and traditional NGOs fails to appear.LANDFALL features intimate encounters with Puerto Ricans as well as the newcomers flooding the island, LANDFALL reflects on a question of contemporary global relevance: when the world falls apart, who do we become? Director Cecilia Aldarondo joins us for frank conversation on US colonialism, Puerto Rico as a laboratory for social experimentation and the crypto-libertarian grifters peddling economic fairy-tales about freedom and financial independence.
Director’s Statement – As a Puerto Rican from the diaspora, I watched Hurricane María unfold from afar while cut off from loved ones, including my grandmother who would die six months after the storm. Reeling from the debt crisis, which unleashed a wave of austerity, poverty and migration that María only intensified, the Puerto Rico depicted in Landfall is a laboratory for greed, privatization, gentrification, the dismantling of social services, and the devastating effects of climate change. We may have a new President and Puerto Rico a new governor, but little has changed since María hit, as evidenced by the recent privatization of Puerto Rico’s electric grid. The Puerto Rican people are still fighting to end the profit-driven policies that have proved disastrous ever since President Obama signed them into existence. In Landfall I wanted to balance a cautionary tale for our times, while also prioritizing a dignified image of Puerto Ricans who have banded together to fight for their sovereignty. – Cecilia Aldarondo
“An impressive, impressionistic and intimate overview of the unhappy “Island of Enchantment” as it stands today, years after Hurricane Maria hit.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“Cecilia Aldarondo’s intelligent, insightful documentary captures how a natural disaster served to expose the man-made troubles that have blighted the island down the centuries.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
“Impressionistic rather than explanatory, Landfall seldom spells out the complex set of issues still afflicting an island long beset by “the colonial disease.” But it still makes a powerful statement…” – Dennis Harvey, 48 Hills
How did a group of humble factory workers become a phenomenal sports success story and the pride of an entire nation? Julian Faraut’s (John McEnroe: In The Realm of Perfection) ferociously innovative and visually stunning The Witches of the Orient tells the tale of the Japanese women’s volleyball team’s thrilling rise, unbelievable 258 games winning streak, and eventual Olympic gold at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. United by their jobs in a textile factory, the Japanese women’s volleyball team chased absolute perfection under the guidance of their grueling coach Hirofumi Daimatsu. Known as “the Demon,” his intense, endless practice sessions, shaped the team into a powerful force striking fear in the hearts of their competitors and earning them the racist and dismissive moniker “oriental witches.” Faraut’s sparkling documentary uses fantastic manga and anime sequences, such as Attack no 1 (1968), with archival footage of blood-curdling matches, extreme training sessions (driven by rhythmic editing and great music from French musician K-Raw) with testimony from the now-octogenarian teammates. The result charts the Witches’ meteoric rise and overwhelmingly vital spirit. The ‘Witches’ success is infectious and offers a hopeful prelude to the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. Director Julien Faraut joins to talk about the players rigorous training regime, the complicated relationship they had with their coach, Hirofumi Daimatsu, and the enduring bond between the women / factory workers that has lasted for nearly 60 years.
About the director –Having worked with the French Sports Institute (INSEP) for 15 years, Julien has had access to a large and mostly unseen collection of 16mm archival footage, aiming to bridge the connections between sport, cinema and art. With a fascination for the incredible achievements of highly skilled athletes, Julien’s portfolio of work explores these unique and astonishing human beings through the medium of film.
“The world-beating Japanese women’s volleyball team of the 1960s roars colourfully back to life.”- Screen Daily
“If the team was derided by their prejudiced (and defeated) foes in the moment of their success, this documentary elegantly restores the glow of legend, saving the champions the trouble of having to explain their heroism in words.” – Teo Bugbee, New York Times
“One of the more engrossing sports documentaries in recent memory, and it is one that even those without much interest in athletics in general or volleyball in particular will find to be worth watching.” – Peter Sobczynski, eFilmCritic.com
“The film’s fanciful archival montages shrewdly demonstrate the ways in which memory and art seamlessly combine to document reality.” – Mark Hanson, Slant Magazine
PHILLY D.A.is a multi-part series that details the dramatic work inside the office of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner as he and his team work to end mass incarceration and transform the criminal justice system from the inside. In 2017, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had one of the highest incarceration rates of any major city in the United States. And it’s become the epicenter of a historic experiment that could shape the future of prosecution in America for decades to come. When civil rights attorney Larry Krasner mounted a long-shot campaign to become District Attorney, he ran on a bold pledge: to end mass incarceration by changing the culture of the criminal justice system from within. He shocked the establishment by winning in a landslide. Now, the bureaucrats he spent his campaign denigrating are his co-workers; the police he alienated are his rank-and-file law enforcers. Pressure comes from all sides of a system resistant to reform. Krasner’s unapologetic promise to use the power of the D.A.’s office for sweeping change is what got him elected; now that he’s in office, that same stubbornness threatens to alienate those he needs to work with the most. From the eye of this political storm, filmmakers Ted Passon, Yoni Brook, and Nicole Salazar gained unprecedented access into Krasner’s office and behind the scenes of the criminal justice system. Over the course of eight episodes, PHILLY D.A. explores the most pressing social issues of our time—police brutality, the opioid crisis, gun violence, and mass incarceration—through the lens of an idealistic team attempting fundamental overhaul from within the system.The series debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January, with its broadcast premiere in April of 2021 on ITVS’s flagship, Emmy award-winning documentary anthology series Independent Lenson PBS, followed by First Look Media’s streaming service Topic.
PHILLY D.A. is now streaming on TOPIC Topic features North American premieres and programming from around the world, complemented by a diverse slate of Originals including documentaries, scripted comedies and dramas, discussion shows, and more. With exclusive TV series and films that take you to more than 40 countries, Topic showcases an unparalleled diversity of creators, perspectives, and experiences. Topic is available to US and Canadian audiences on topic.com, AppleTV & iOS, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android & Android TV, and Apple TV Channels, Roku Premium Channels, Bell Fibe, and Amazon Prime Video Channels.
About the filmmaker – Yoni Brook is a twice Independent Spirit-nominated cinematographer and producer. As a director, his films have screened at the Berlinale, New York and Toronto Film Festivals, True/False, and IDFA. For PBS’s POV series, Brook co-directed Bronx Princess (with Musa Syeed). Brook co-directed The Calling, a four hour series about young religious leaders for Independent Lens. His directorial debut A Son’s Sacrifice for Independent Lens, won Best Documentary Short at the Tribeca Film Festival.
About the filmmaker – Ted Passon is an award-winning director and video artist. He has directed episodic series for Netflix and Disney. He is a 2016 Sundance Lab Fellow, a recipient of the Pew Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship Grant, and a 2016 Headlands Artist in Residency. He has exhibited his award-winning short films in festivals and galleries around the US and abroad including exhibitions by the Whitney Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and 96 Gillespie in London.
“All these conflicts are messy, uncomfortable and human, and “Philly D.A.” gives voice to a range of Philadelphians, including hard-line police, left-wing activists and residents worried about crime and police abuses.” – James Poniewozik, New York Times
“Philly D.A.’s fast-moving, over-the-shoulder, fly on the wall pressure-cooker pace conveys perfectly the importance of what is at stake and the life-and-death issues on the table for Krasner as he attempts to attack the system by the jugular.” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International
“Philly D.A. is a beautiful, sprawling story that does justice to both the giant organizations and the many individuals caught inside them. It also reminds us that “doing justice” is so much harder than we may want to believe.” – Kathryn VanArendonk, New York Magazine/Vulture
“Philly D.A. is the kind of documentary series that makes me feel good about the future of documentaries and nonfiction storytelling.” – David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun
“The filmmakers spent three years following the longtime criminal defense lawyer Larry Krasner for this essential, remarkably balanced vérité-style account of his unlikely tenure as the city’s district attorney.” – Judy Berman, TIME Magazine
“The trio of film-makers marshal a lot of material consistently well. Each installment looks primarily at one subject, while continuing to tie it into the wider drive to change the policy of mass incarceration.” – Lucy Mangan, Guardian
“For anyone looking for a leader who is not interested in simply paying lip service to win an election or a second term, Philly D.A. will likely be their candidate of choice.” – Kiko Martinez, Variety
Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters is a feature documentary that traces the history and legacy of one of the most important works of art to come out of the age of AIDS – Bill T. Jones’ tour de force ballet “D-Man in the Waters”. In 1989, “D-Man in the Waters” gave physical manifestation to the fear, anger, grief, and hope for salvation that the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company felt as they were embattled by the AIDS pandemic. As a group of young dancers reconstructs the dance, they learn about this oft forgotten history and deepen their understanding of the power of art in a time of plague. Bill T. Jones is arguably the most socially, politically and emotionally compelling choreographer alive today. Thirty years ago, he embedded motifs of risk and sacrifice, love, loss and resurrection in the choreography for “D-Man in the Waters”. Through an extraordinary series of interviews, archival material, and uniquely powerful cinematography of movement, this 90-minute, lyrical documentary uses the story of this dance to illustrate the triumph of the human spirit in art and in the community. Today, by learning the dance, a new generation reinvigorates the spirit of a community fighting to survive. Co-directors Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz join us for a conversation on the history of D-Man in the Waters, why it is just as relevant today, the spirit of discovery for the student dance ensemble featured in the film and the collaboration with the visionary artist Bill T. Jones.
About the filmmaker – Rosalynde LeBlanc, Producer and Co-Director danced with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company (1993 -1999), and Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project (1999 – 2002). She has also worked onscreen with film directors Burt Barr, John Turturro, Gretchen Bender, and Matthew Rolston. She can be seen in the short film, Roz, the PBS Specials, Still/Here, Free to Dance, Dancing in the Light, A Good Man, and in the feature film, Romance and Cigarettes. Ms. LeBlanc Loo is a leading figure in the legacy and pedagogy of Bill T. Jones. She re-stages his work around the country and runs the Jones/Zane Educational Partnership at Loyola Marymount University, where she is an Associate Professor in the Department of Dance. In 2020, her work in dance research and pedagogy was recognized with an honorary induction into the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu.
About the filmmaker – Tom Hurwitz, ASC, Co-Director and Director of Photography – Tom Hurwitz, ASC, a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, is one of America’s most honored documentary cinematographers. Winner of two Emmy Awards, the Sundance and Jerusalem Film Festival Awards for Best Cinematography, Hurwitz has photographed films that have won four academy awards and several more nominations, recently for Dancemaker and Killing in the Name. Mr. Hurwitz’s features and television programs have won dozens of awards, Emmy, Dupont, Peabody, Directors Guild and film festival awards for Best Documentary, over the last 25 years. He recently won Emmy Awards for Best Documentary Specials for the PBS show Jerome Robbins and the PBS series Franklin, as well as Sundance Awards for Queen of Versailles, and Love Free or Die. Other award-winning films and programs that Mr. Hurwitz has photographed include: Studio 54, Cradle of Champions, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper, Valentino: The Last Emperor, Harlan County USA, Wild Man Blues, My Generation, Down and Out in America, The Turandot Project, Liberty, Dolley, Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero, for PBS; and I Have a Dream, for ABC; and Killing in the Name, and Questioning Faith for HBO. In addition, films that he has directed have won the Cine Golden Eagle and have been shown in festivals around the world. Mr. Hurwitz is also a founding member of the faculty of The MFA Program in the Social Documentary Film Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts.
Bill T. Jones, Artistic Director/Co-Founder/Choreographer: Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company; Artistic Director: New York Live Arts
Bill T. Jones is a multi-talented artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer, and Associate Artist for the 2020 Holland Festival. Mr. Jones has received major honors including the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Visibility Award, 2013 National Medal of Arts to a 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award and Kennedy Center Honors in 2010. Mr. Jones was honored with the 2014 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, recognized as Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 2010, inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2009 and named “An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure” by the Dance Heritage Coalition in 2000. His ventures into Broadway theater resulted in a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography in the critically acclaimed FELA!, the musical which was co-conceived, co-written, directed and choreographed by Mr. Jones. He also earned a 2007 Tony Award for Best Choreography in Spring Awakening as well as an Obie Award for the show’s 2006 off-Broadway run. His choreography for the off-Broadway production of The Seven earned him a 2006 Lucille Lortel Award. Mr. Jones began his dance training at the State University of New York at Binghamton (SUNY), where he studied classical ballet and modern dance. After living in Amsterdam, Mr. Jones returned to SUNY, where he became co-founder of the American Dance Asylum in 1973. In 1982 he formed the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company (then called Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane & Company) with his late partner, Arnie Zane. Mr. Jones is currently Artistic Director of New York Lives Arts, an organization that strives to create a robust framework in support of the nation’s dance and movement-based artists through new approaches to producing, presenting and educating. For more go to: newyorklivearts.org
“Can You Bring It” is most compelling as an archival work. An early section pairs the original dancers’ memories of the piece’s development with visuals of the corresponding movement, sharply telegraphing the viewer into the creative process.” – Jude Dry, indieWire
What happens if the entire industry is laid off in a single day?Filmed during the height of the pandemic, Last Call : The Shutdown of NYC Bars explores the social and economic impact of COVID-19 on the NYC hospitality industry. Last Call : The Shutdown of NYC Bars follows Jena Ellenwood, a bartender in Queens, NY, as she and her co-works and friends recount their experiences in the dawning realization that they are going to lose their jobs to a deadly new virus. Jena has just moved to New York and recently been brought on as a bartender at the Sparrow Tavern, a local Astoria watering hole. In March 2020, business-as-usual comes to a grinding halt as COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, quickly establishing Queens as the epicenter of the pandemic, not only the state of New York, but throughout the entire country. Bars and restaurants are ordered to close, leaving thousands of hospitality workers stranded without work and an uncertain future. Jena and her friends vent their frustrations and anxieties, not only surrounding the seemingly hopeless economic uncertainty, but also the deadly virus that threatens their very lives.Throughout the process of finding a foothold in this “new normal”, the anxiety and uncertainty of New York’s hospitality industry looms, as 2020 ends with COVID hospitalizations in New York continuing to rise once again. Director, producer and writer Johnny Sweet (Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story) joins us to talk about his own journey over the last 16 months, the serious challenges of making a film under the cloud brought on by the pandemic and why showcasing the undervalued work and contributions of the service workers is so important to a healthy community.
About the filmmaker – Born and raised in NYC, Johnny Sweet graduated from Syracuse University in 2003. He was recently nominated for an Emmy for Best Long Sports Documentary for “Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story.” Sweet was an Emmy Award winning feature producer at ESPN for 10 years, primarily covering the NBA and the NFL. In 2016 Sweet directed his first long form documentary, “Vick” which won the Associated Press Sports Editor Award for journalism, his second APSE award. His second film, “Quiet Storm,” a documentary about the life of Ron Artest was released in 2019 on Showtime. The film won the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Cleveland International Films Festival for Best Documentary and was selected by the Hot Docs and Big Sky Film Festivals. For more go to: ocp-productions.com
On a cold February night in 1983, Wanda Lopez was stabbed to death while she worked at a Corpus Christi Texas gas station. 21 year old Carlos DeLuna was arrested, and over the next six years, through his trial and subsequent imprisonment he protested his innocence, declaring that it was another Carlos who committed the crime. The prosecution insisted that this other Carlos was a “phantom’ and didn’t exist. THE PHANTOM tells the story of one of the darkest episodes in the long history of American justice. A story of how the State of Texas knowingly sent an innocent man to his death and left a serial killer at large. A case in which — for the first time — it can be conclusively proven that the US courts executed a blameless man. This film uncovers the shocking truth behind a tale of murder, corruption and lies that unfolded in the dusty, desperate streets of a Texas oil town nearly thirty years ago. Through illuminating interviews with witnesses, Carlos DeLuna’s family members, and legal experts the film asks, for the first time since 1983, if the judicial system executed an innocent man, examining key evidence that calls into question whether or not Carlos DeLuna was right about the other Carlos. Was he a phantom after all, or was he a brutal killer, and did a poor Hispanic young man have any chance within a justice system and a society that by its actions seemed to regard him as disposable? Director Patrick Forbes (The Widowmaker, Brexit: A Very British Coup) joins us for a conversation on a criminal justice system that spends more time obfuscating and dodging questions about their investigation and prosecution of an innocent man than reforming a system that makes a fatal mistake possible and coming clean about why Carlos DeLuna was really put to death.
About the filmmaker- Director, Producer, Writer Patrick Forbes career began as a very junior researcher on a BBC series, when he was arrested after discovering Britain had a (secret) spy satellite. At that moment it was clear that documentaries offered a lot more excitement and interest than his previous career a bank economist. He’s gone on to become one of Britain’s best documentary directors – winning the best director Bafta for his Channel 4 series ‘The Force’, best series Bafta for ‘The National Trust’ (BBC), and having his documentary feature about Julian Assange, ‘Wikileaks; Secrets & Lies’, premier at SXSW, before being seen around the world. Patrick believes that documentary is an art form that is as vital, exciting and uplifting as the best drama – a view confirmed by his recent films tracking Britain’s tumultuous exit from the European Union, where everyone involved talks with extraordinary candour about this defining moment of history.
In December 2015, the New Orleans City Council voted to remove four Confederate monuments from public grounds. A forceful group of critics protested the decision, and fearing retaliation, no work crew would agree to remove the statues. For comedian and Daily Show with Trevor Noah producer and writer CJ Hunt, these protestors’ fanatical loyalty to the losing side of a 160 year-old war seemed like ideal material for a short, satirical internet video. But as he filmed the conflict surrounding the monuments, a bigger story began to reveal itself. THE NEUTRAL GROUND confronts the Lost Cause—the Southern campaign that mythified the Confederacy—with refreshing clarity.With New Orleans as the main backdrop of the story, the film expands its scope to the country at large, bringing to light the fabricated histories born out of the Civil War and the hard truths much of America has yet to face about slavery. Throughout, Hunt’s radical openness leads to staggering, often personal conversations with advocates and opponents of Confederate monuments alike. Turning a sharp eye to the tangled thread between past and present, THE NEUTRAL GROUND targets necessary change centuries in the making that might—finally—be catching up to itself. Director / screenwriter and subject joins us for a candid conversation on America’s implacable racism, latent white violence towards historic truths about slavery, the urgent need to respond to blatant hatred, and The Neutral Ground’s premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.
About the filmmaker – A comedian and filmmaker living in NYC, CJ is currently a field producer on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He has also served as a staff writer for A&E’s Black and White, and afield producer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede. Before working in late night, CJ spent nine years living in New Orleans where – in 2015 – he began filming what he thought would be a quick and easy confederate monument removal. CJ is an alumnus of Firelight Media’s Doc Lab and New Orleans Film Festival’s Emerging Voices program. He is also a 2020 New America Fellow and a regular host of The Moth. A graduate from Brown University’s Africana Studies department, CJ is endlessly fascinated by race and comedy’s ability to say what we can’t.
Director Pedro Kos’ beautifully rendered story, REBEL HEARTS, takes us back to the 1960s and a Los Angeles-based group of trailblazing nuns, The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Sisters bravely stood up to the patriarchy of the Catholic Church, fighting for equality, their livelihoods, and their own freedom against an all-powerful Cardinal who sought to keep them in their place. Their bold acts of faith, defiance and activism turned the Church upside down, helping to reshape our society in ways that continue to resonate today. From marching in Selma in 1965 to the Women’s March in 2018, they challenged the notion of what a nun and a woman were supposed to be. These unlikely resistance fighters, including Anita Caspary, Helen Kelley, Pat Reif and iconic pop artist Corita Kent, were devoted to a life of service, not only to others but to themselves – forming a community that empowered each sister to live up to their fullest potential. Their desire to bring the church into modern life was met with forceful opposition at every turn. As each of them discovered their own talents and voices, they fully stepped into their roles as leaders in a movement that is still making waves. In the feature documentary REBEL HEARTS, director Pedro Kos combines incredible archival footage, stunning animation and two decades of interviews conducted and filmed by the film’s producer Shawnee Isaac-Smith, to beautifully illuminate the story of these incredible women. Director Pedro Kos joins us for a conversation on the historic, political, cultural and spiritual significance these brave women had and continue to have on their own faith, but on the world beyond the walls of their community.
About the filmmaker – Director, writer and editor Pedro Kos most recently wrote and produced Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer’s Netflix Original Documentary THE GREAT HACK which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for a BAFTA award and shortlisted for an Academy Award. His feature directorial debut BENDING THE ARC (co-directed with Kief Davidson) premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Previously, he edited Jehane Noujaim’s Academy Award nominee THE SQUARE which earned Pedro an Emmy Award for Best Editing for a Non-Fiction program, Lucy Walker’s Academy Award nominee WASTE LAND and THE CRASH REEL (2013 SXSW Film Festival Audience Award winner), Jon Shenk’s THE ISLAND PRESIDENT (2011 TIFF Documentary People’s Choice Award winner) among others. Pedro is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and received his B.A. in Theater Directing from Yale University.
“Rebel Hearts tells the group’s story, focusing on why the nuns changed and what they risked in refusing to bend to church leadership. It’s a fast-paced and fascinating story that has implications far beyond Catholicism.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
“The brilliant documentary is a colourful, contemplative and informative presentation of women whose dedicated faith led them to activism.” – Emily Maskell, Flip Screen
“”Rebel Hearts” is still determined to not only uplift, but do justice to the women it’s profiling and just what gave them a communal backbone of such stuff that they eventually chose to defy the Vatican itself.” – Andrea Thompson, A Reel of One’s Own
“Neatly threads a global feminist awakening through the very specific experience of a few defiant, no-longer-cloistered women.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“One of the best of Sundance for this years. Highly recommended.” – Steven Kopian, Unseen Films
“Before this film, I had never heard of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and now I can’t stop thinking about them.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times
When you look at Kenny Scharf’s surreal, colorful, pop-culture inspired art you can’t help but wonder where he gets his inspiration. This documentary about Scharf’s fascinating life—made over 11 years by the artist’s daughter, Malia Scharf, and Max Basch—answers that question. This fascinating documentary shows Scharf’s New York City arrival in the early 1980s where he quickly befriended Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.This trio, amongst the fervent creative bustle of a depressed downtown scene, would soon take the art world by storm.Featuring interviews and rare archival footage with the artist himself along with Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Ed Ruscha, Dennis Hopper and Yoko Ono, the film shows Scharf’s arrival in New York City in the early 1980s, where he quickly befriended Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat. There, amongst the fervent creative bustle of a depressed downtown scene, the trio would soon take the art world by storm. But unlike Haring and Basquiat, who both died tragically young, Scharf lived through cataclysmic shifts in the East Village as well as the ravages of AIDS and economic depression. Decades later, still obsessed with garbage, cartoons and plastic, and committed to the idea that art should be fun, Scharf’s whimsical mind continues to generate works rife with iconic images and bizarre forms. Co-directors Malia Scharf and Max Basch join us for a conversation on the New York City in the 1980s, why so many artists from multiple disciplines seized the opportunity to make art amidst the rumble of the Downtown, and the re-evaluation of Kenny Scharf’s prodigious technicolor artistic vision.
“A compelling and informative introduction to the life and work of Kenny Scharf. His perseverance, passion for art as well as for his inner child are very palpable.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
“I found it heart warming and endearing, especially because of his daughter’s direction of the film. If you are interested in the art of this period, I think you will love this documentary.” – Katrina Olson, katrinaolson.ca
:This is the harrowing, heartbreaking, ultimately affirming story of Kenny Scharf, and I urge you to see it.: – Norman Gidney, Film Threat
“Playfully deconstructs the life and times of a creator who tries to balance their childlike playfulness with the adult responsibilities of the real world.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate
I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK returns with a special episode directed by Elizabeth Wolff (HBO’s “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark”) and executive produced by Liz Garbus (HBO’s “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” and “Who Killed Garrett Phillips?”). The critically acclaimed six-part documentary series based on the best-selling book of the same name debuted in June 2020 and explores writer Michelle McNamara’s investigation into the dark world of the violent predator she dubbed “The Golden State Killer.” In the summer of 2020, former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo, also known as the Golden State Killer, was sentenced to life in prison for the 50 home-invasion rapes and 13 murders he committed during his reign of terror in the 1970s and ‘80s in California. Many of the survivors and victim’s family members reconvened for an emotional public sentencing hearing in August 2020, where they were given the opportunity to speak about their long-held pain and anger through victim impact statements, facing their attacker directly for the first time and bringing a sense of justice and resolution to the case. This powerful special closes one chapter in McNamara’s investigative work on cold cases, and brings to light another, the rape and murder of Kathy Lombardo in 1984 in McNamara’s hometown of Oak Park, Illinois, which sparked her life-long fascination with unsolved murders. This special episode brings shocking new revelations to light in the Lombardo case and features the late McNamara’s own research into the rape and murder, which led to her return to Oak Park in 2013 to investigate it on the ground, quickly finding inconsistencies in the police work. Featuring the late McNamara’s own archival research and voice recordings, and interviews with residents of present-day Oak Park, this special episode highlights the trauma that persists when a crime goes unsolved, with McNamara’s work standing as a stark reminder of the importance of citizen sleuths who remain dogged in their search for the truth. I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK co-producer and co-director Elizabeth Wolff joins us to talk the years-long collaboration with series director Liz Garbus and her team, the art of storytelling, defining her own personal boundaries and becoming a mom.
The I’ll Be Gone in the Dark docs-series was directed by Academy Award nominee and Emmy® winning director Liz Garbus (HBO’s “Who Killed Garrett Phillips,” “Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper”) and produced by Story Syndicate. Additional directors on the series include Elizabeth Wolff, Myles Kane and Josh Koury.I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK will also be available on HBO On Demand, HBO NOW, HBO GO and partners’
“This is both a satisfying story of justice restored, and a moving tribute to one woman’s refusal to give up on forgotten victims.” – Anna Leszkiewicz, New Statesman
“Deviating from the well-trodden arc of most true-crime documentaries, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark tells several parallel stories, each of them interwoven, yet discretely fascinating.” – Kylie Northover, The Age (Australia)
“”I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” is more than a true crime documentary, although it succeeds in a terrifyingly brilliant way.” – Kristen Lopez, indieWire
“Sensitive, unusual, uplifting, revelatory and deeply moving, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is one of the best true crime docu-series in a while and it’s up against stiff competition.” – Rosie Fletcher, Den of Geek
“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark can be very difficult to watch; it’s haunting and incredibly sad. But that’s also what made it all the more moving, in the end, to see the survivors join together: bonding, smiling, and living their lives in the light.” – Allison Keene, Paste Magazine
Director James Fletcher’s THE ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT uncovers a detailed play-by-play from all angles on how it all went down, the state of America that led to the results, what the electorate was really motivated by, and how a former reality show host with an elevated understanding of the media and entertainment was able to connect and how a former reality show host with an elevated understanding of the media and entertainment was able to connect with voters from all walks of life and stage a takeover of Washington D.C. — whether he meant to or not. As America began to try and come to terms with the surprising (and for many voters, horrifying) results of the presidential race of 2016, the subsequent rapid-fire speed of events and jam-packed news cycles meant that nobody would ever have the opportunity to truly and properly reflect on what exactly just happened — and how did it? Featuring an impressively diverse and balanced set of fascinating interviews from both sides of the aisle, that includes:Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, Piers Morgan, Mary Katharine Ham, Aaron Sorkin, Anthony Scaramucci, David Pakman, Molly Ball, April Ryan, Steve Schmidt, and Van Jones. THE ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT is an educated examination of the most controversial election in modern history, and one that every future campaign – most notably the one currently in play – should study with an electron microscope. Directed and produced by British filmmaker/journalist James Fletcher joins us for a conversation on the many twists and turns, happenstance, orchestrated chaos, massive campaign miscalculations and incompetence that results in the election of the most deified and nefarious president in American history.
THE ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT will be screening in limited U.S. theaters beginning Monday, June 21, 2021, and will be coming soon to Starz.
About the filmmaker – James Fletcher Director, Producer – James Fletcher is a UK television producer/director currently based in New York City. He started out working on commercial and music videos, before being hired by a number of political campaigns to produce TV ads (spots) including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former Prime Minister David Cameron. He has also worked on European elections, campaigns in the US, and the Middle East. He has written articles about the business of politics, and increasing deployment of technology, especially social media as prime channels of voter communication. He is directing his first feature. The Accidental President which simply seeks to answer ‘How on earth did Donald Trump win the election of 2016?’
“I think the film is about as unbiased a story as you can get on the 2016 election.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat
“Director James Fletcher’s objective, in his words: “How the hell did he win?” The doc, with entertaining archival films and input from talking heads, offers suggestions.” – Harvey S. Karten, Shockya.com
“…more than just a trip down memory lane (a painful one or a gleeful one depending on your politics), it poses a timely “can it happen again” question for 2020.” – Tom Santilli, Movie Show Plus
In this revealing observational portrait of political courage, Brandon Kramer’s THE FIRST STEP, focuses his lens on Black progressive activist and political commentator Van Jones as he faces a polarized society head on in an effort to reform a broken criminal justice system. Jones, known for calling Donald Trump’s election “a whitelash” live on primetime TV, navigates increasingly tense and isolating political and racial divides in his attempt to become a “bridge builder” during the Trump administration. Condemned by the right for his progressive beliefs, and by the left for embracing conservatives, this fraught and cinematically captured personal journey questions his integrity from all sides, forcing him to consider not only his activism but his own identity. THE FIRST STEP takes us behind the scenes of these dramatic power struggles, from internal divisions within both parties, to the lives of activists fighting on the frontlines for their communities. The First Step features Louis L. Reed, Jessica Jackson, Virgie Walker, Pete White, Tylo James. Including Jared Kushner, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Shelly Capito, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Mike Lee, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Patrisse Cullors, Charlemagne Tha God, Karen Hunter, and Kim Kardashian. Director Brandon Kramer joins us to talk about the daunting challenge faced by Van ones as he attempts to find the common ground of common interest and policy reforms that will benefit all Americans, while being vilified by many of the same people he is working with.
About the filmmaker – Brandon Kramer is a documentary filmmaker and co-founder of Meridian Hill Pictures. Brandon directed CITY OF TREES (Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, national broadcast on PBS’ America Reframed, Netflix); and the Webby Award-winning documentary series THE MESSY TRUTH WITH VAN JONES. Brandon won Best Director at the 2016 Chesapeake Film Festival and Indie Capital Awards, received the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 American Conservation Film Festival and was a 2015 DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities Individual Arts Fellow. Brandon has directed over 30 short documentaries commissioned by public agencies and nonprofits including AARP and US Institute of Peace. Before starting MHP, Brandon served as a teaching artist for the John F. Kennedy Center’s national media education program. Brandon holds a bachelor’s degree in film and cultural anthropology from Boston University.
In 1921, white mobs in Tulsa terrorized and burned down the Greenwood District, known as “Negro Wall Street.”With the discovery of a mass grave, the city reckons with its painful past.In the early 20th century, racial violence erupted in dozens of cities across the United States. Hundreds were killed. Black communities fought back, rebuilt, and prospered in the face of extreme oppression and the evils of white supremacy. Dawn Porter’s RISE AGAIN: TULSA AND THE RED SUMMER comes one hundred years from the two-day Tulsa Massacre in 1921 that led to the murder of hundreds of Black people and left thousands homeless and displaced. Award-winning Washington Post journalist and Oklahoma native DeNeen Brown is at the heart of the film, reporting on the search for a mass grave in her native state. Digging into the events that led to one of the worst episodes of racial violence in America’s history, Brown reveals insights into racial conflict incidents that erupted in the early 20th century. Between 1917 and 1923, when Jim Crow laws were at their height and the Klu Klux Klan was resurging across the nation, scores of Black homes and businesses were razed, and hundreds of Black people were lynched and massacred with impunity. Brown’s reporting highlights the revived call for justice for victims and survivors. Following a 2018 investigative report, Brown explores the current anti-racism movement in the context of the Tulsa Massacre and the Red Summer. With access to family members of those killed, city officials, archeologists, and historians, the film reveals the decades-long effort by descendants and community members to find victims’ bodies and unearth truths that have been suppressed for nearly a century. RISE AGAIN: TULSA AND THE RED SUMMER also untangles the role the media played in covering events at the time in order to reveal the full extent of the nation’s buried past. Our guide into this harrowing and disgraceful chapter of American history is award-winning journalist DeNeen Brown joins us for a detailed and personal perspective of the events that played a part in a deadly racist attack on innocent, law-abiding Black citizens.
About the filmmaker – DeNeen Brown is an award-winning staff writer at The Washington Post, who has covered night police, education, courts, politics and culture. She has written about the black middle class, poverty, the homeless, arts and gentrification. As a foreign correspondent, Brown traveled throughout the Arctic to write about climate change and indigenous populations. Her 2018 piece on the Tulsa mass graves restarted the search that had gone dormant. She has won awards from the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors and the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and she is also a professor at the University of Maryland and Merrill College.
Winner of a Special Jury Award for Nonfiction Experimentation at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Director Theo Anthony (Rat Film, Subject to Review) ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE is an exploration of the shared histories of cameras, weapons, policing and justice. ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE plunges the viewer into world where police body cams are the hi-tech answer to questions of accountability andAs surveillance technologies become a fixture in everyday life, the film interrogates the complexity of an objective point of view, probing the biases inherent in both human perception and the lens. Director Theo Anthony joins us for a wide-ranging conversation on the seemingly relentless march toward an enveloping surveillance state, the expectation of privacy, optic nerves, technological corporate fantasies, bias AI and the Black Box.
About the filmmaker – Theo Anthony – Director, Writer and Editor – Theo Anthony is a filmmaker based in Baltimore and Upstate New York. His first feature documentary, RAT FILM, premiered internationally at the 2016 Locarno Film Festival and domestically at the 2017 True/ False Film Festival. It has received wide critical acclaim, and was nominated for a 2017 Gotham award for Best Documentary Feature film as well as Cinema Eye Honors for Best Debut Feature. The film was theatrically released and was featured on PBS’ Independent Lens Series in early 2018. Theo is the recipient of the 2018 Sundance Art of Non- Fiction Fellowship and the 2019 Sundance and Simons Foundation Science Sandbox Fellowship. In 2015, he was named to Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. His latest film SUBJECT TO REVIEW, for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, premiered at the 57th New York Film Festival. ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE is Theo’s second feature length film and his first film premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. For more go to: theoanthony.net
“SUPERB. A chillingly insightful doc on the ethics of looking and the incompleteness of seeing.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety
“BRILLIANT, vital criticism about American policing that also speaks to the limitless artistic potential of non-fiction filmmaking” – Nick Allen, Roger Ebert
“FASCINATING. A gripping, mind-expanding wake-up call” – Sheri Linden, The Hollywood ReporterOpen
“All Light, Everywhere is staggering in its expressive yet concise ability to explore a topic as urgent as rampant police violence and excessive surveillance from a strictly technological perspective.” – Jordan Raup, The Film Stage
“This engrossing, troubling documentary questions the idea that what we take in through our eyes is, any practical sense, the truth of our surroundings” – Tim Grierson, Screen International
Nicole Riegel’s starkly drawn feature film debut HOLLER zeroes in on a forgotten pocket of Southern Ohio where American manufacturing and opportunity are drying up, a determined young woman finds a ticket out when she is accepted to college. Alongside her older brother, Ruth Avery joins a dangerous scrap metal crew in order to pay her way. Together, they spend one brutal winter working the scrap yards during the day and stealing valuable metal from the once thriving factories by night. With her goal in sight, Ruth finds that the ultimate cost of an education for a girl like her may be more than she bargained for, and she soon finds herself torn between a promising future and the family she would leave behind. Director Nicole Riegel stops by for a conversation on the challenges of pulling together a shoe-string budget film, that has as much to say about the lack of opportunity for the millions of marginalized people as it does about the love of family, and working with a superb cast that includes Jessica Barden, Austin Amelio, Gus Halper and Pamela Adlon.
Director’s Statement – My film is a semi-autobiographical story about how challenging it was to transcend where I came from as a young woman, both practically and emotionally. Like Ruth, the teenage girl at the center of my story, and many young girls across America, I was vulnerable to a fractured system that felt rigged against me, particularly when it came to access to education for young people living in the margins. That lack of access made me feel like my voice didn’t matter, and that is a horrible feeling for any young girl to carry with her. In order to pursue the life that I wanted, I had to leave behind the family and community that created me which felt like a betrayal. HOLLER is not only a glimpse into that part of my life, but also a window into the lives of thousands of girls who, like Ruth, live in towns that are currently in a state of atrophy from fewer opportunities and a shrinking population. They are faced with the choice of forced reinvention or abandoning their hometowns completely. – Nicole Riegel
“Holler shows there is beauty everywhere-if you choose to look for it. It also shows the power of independent filmmaking to tell incredible stories on sheer will and desire to tell stories.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat
“A film that is heart-rattlingly poignant, haunting, and among the best of the year.” – Kristy Puchko, Pajiba
“With Holler, writer/director Nicole Riegel avoids traps into melodrama and miserablism to deliver a great feature-length directorial debut; an emotionally rousing coming-of-age story with a standout performance from Jessica Barden.” – Harris Dang, The AU Review
“Holler is a compelling, confident film about family, loyalty, hope and self-care, executed with a firm directorial vision and speaking with an authenticity and genuineness that is unambiguously refreshing.” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ Women on Film
“Holler is a beautifully crafted feature debut for Nicole Riegel complete with strong and memorable performances, especially from lead star Jessica Barden.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
Set in 1985, against the backdrop of social hysteria surrounding gory British video nasties.CENSOR is a psychological horror starring Niamh Algar (Raised By Wolves, The Virtues, Calm With Horses). Film censor Enid takes pride in her meticulous work, guarding unsuspecting audiences from the deleterious effects of watching the gore-filled decapitations and eye-gougings she pores over. Her sense of duty to protect is amplified by guilt over her inability to recall details of the long-ago disappearance of her sister, recently declared dead in absentia. When Enid is assigned to review a disturbing film from the archive that echoes her hazy childhood memories, she begins to unravel how this eerie work might be tied to her past. After viewing the strangely familiar video nasty at work, Enid attempts to solve the past mystery of her sister’s disappearance, embarking on a quest that dissolves the line between fiction and reality. CENSOR had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2021, opening the Midnight section of the festival, and will have its European premiere at Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival. Director Prano Bailey-Bond stops by for a conversation on her debut feature film that flawlessly captures the frightening ambiance of the “nasties” while plumbing the depths of Enid’s defenseless psyche.
About the filmmaker – Prano Bailey-Bond is a director and writer who grew up on a diet of Twin Peaks in the depths of a strange Welsh community. Named a 2021 ‘Director to Watch’ by Variety and a Screen International ‘Star of Tomorrow’ 2018, Prano’s work invokes imaginative worlds, fusing a dark vocabulary with eerie allure, revealing how beauty resides in strange places. Her debut feature film, CENSOR, had its world premiere at the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2021, opening the festival’s Midnight section, moving next to its European premiere at the BERLINALE – Berlin International Film Festival. Prano’s strong body of shorts have screened at festivals including BFI London Film Festival, Tampere Film Festival, UKMVA’s, Sitges Film Festival and Melbourne Int’l Film Festival. She was one of 17 filmmakers selected for the BFI Network@LFF 2017 which identified original new voices, iconoclasts and risk takers. She is an alumna of the Berlinale Talent Campus. Her short film NASTY screened at over 100 festivals to-date, winning awards globally. SHORTCUT, made as part of Film4’s Fright Bites series, was broadcast on Film4 and is available to view on All4. It screened at festivals around Europe, the USA and Canada, and toured with The Final Girls‘ WE ARE THE WEIRDOS program. THE TRIP won Best Director at Underwire Festival. Based on a real-life case study by ECPAT UK, it has been used to educate Police and other professionals on recognizing victims of human trafficking. Prano’s post-apocalyptic short MAN VS SAND, commissioned by The Letters Festival, Milan in association with London Short Film Festival, won Best Experimental Short at Aesthetica Short Film Festival, who described it as “a powerful satire of the live-to-work ethic”. Her music videos have picked up accolades including a UKMVA, Best Music Video at the European Independent Film Festival and Best Music Short at London Short Film Festival. Prano is on the Advisory Board for Underwire Festival, is a member of Cinesisters, BAFTA and is also an award-winning editor. For more go to: pranobaileybond.com
“Bailey-Bond creates something almost unbearably close and oppressive, like the bottom of a murky fish tank. It’s a very elegant and disquieting debut.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
“Censor works as such a strong study of someone whose personal and professional lives are dangerously intertwined and loses sight of every boundary in her life, though Bailey-Bond ensures it has plenty of edge.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest
“Bailey-Bond creates something almost unbearably close and oppressive, like the bottom of a murky fish tank. It’s a very elegant and disquieting debut.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
“With a winning confidence, [Bailey-Bond] guides the viewer to a frightening, disorienting, and frankly shocking third act.” – Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
“It’s more than emulating a cinematic look, like those faux-gialli. It’s creating an engrossing, disturbing, yet authentic world that cracks wide open like Enid’s fragile psyche.” – Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle
Martin Kraut’s chilling psychological thriller feature film debut focuses on the morally ambiguous life of Marcos (Carlos Portaluppi), an experienced nurse, who works the night shift of a private clinic. He is successful and professional, though it is soon revealed that he uses his position to help suffering patients find early peace. A new nurse in the clinic, Gabriel (Ignacio Rogers), shakes the sector: he is young, intelligent, beautiful, and seduces everyone. He soon deciphers Marcos’ secret and the clinic becomes a battle of wits and seduction. Marcos retracts until he discovers that Gabriel also dabbles in euthanasia, though for different reasons. This revelation forces him to confront Gabriel and Marcos knows that only by exposing his own true identity will he be able to stop him. Director Martin Kraut stops by to talk about his slow-burn deadly game of cat and mouse thriller, the story’s moral ambiguity and his collaboration with the gifted lead actors Ignacio Rogers and Carlos Portuppi.
LA DOSIS, the sharp slow-burn thriller from distributor Samuel Goldwyn Films, will be released on-demand and digital on June 11, 2021. The film world premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2020, and also played BFI Flare, the Fantasia Film Festival, and others.
Director’s Statement – Back in 2012 I read a news story on two nurses in Uruguay who had euthanized multiple patients, and almost right away I felt it was the plot for a movie. I followed the case with interest as I worked on multiple versions of a script that was increasingly drifting from what had allegedly happened. “La dosis” captures the essence of this conflict, the discussions it generated and the issues that surfaced with an entirely free approach. On the other hand, I am interested in investigating what happens when doctors and nurses know there is no chance of survival yet they must keep the bodies alive while they can: Keeping patients on life support or alive is also a very important and profitable business. This fact coupled with the immense power that some nurses like Marcos have while working the night shift, and who devote their time to the care of others in those conditions, can lead them to extreme situations. The film addresses, in as much detail as possible, the story of a nurse in the midst of an internal struggle. Day after day, year after year, and decade after decade, he has cared for hundreds of patients who were fighting for their lives, many of whom lost their battles. Sometimes the patients and their families find themselves in a modern yet perverse labyrinth that forces them to make very difficult decisions. The lead actor’s feelings in the face of the hiring of a new young nurse are also of interest to me as a narrative trigger. The known vs. the unknown, the ensuing competitiveness and the changes brought about in environments used to specific habits are also issues explored in the movie. The strange and complex reality that we have to live in today amid COVID-19 definitely gives the movie another meaning, for it revolves around the dynamics inside an intensive care unit (ICU). Involuntarily, the movie brings our worst nightmares to the forefront as healthcare professionals, who must provide care for us, end up committing illegal acts. – Martin Kraut
About the filmmaker – Martin Kraut is a director, screenwriter and photographer born in Buenos Aires (Argentina) in 1982. He graduated from Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires and studied Film Studies at the Universidad del Cine. Kraut took screenwriting classes from Mauricio Kartún and Pablo Solarz, among others. His first short film “Que Miren” screened and was recognized in several festivals. Kraut’s photography exhibition “Centros Clandestinos de Detención Hoy” (Today’s Clandestine Detention Centers) was shown in multiple places in Argentina. He also participated in other solo and group exhibitions. Since 2015, he has worked as a photographer and audiovisual producer at Revista Anfibia. His debut feature “La dosis” premiered at the 2020 The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR). He has participated in the Bucheon International Film Festival in Korea (BIFAN), the Fantasia International Film Festival in Canada and his work will soon be featured at the Taoyuan Film Festival in Taiwan and the USA.
“It emerges as a valuable film that takes us from the most pure realism to the most disturbing extremes of psychological terror.” – Diego Batlle, Otroscines.com
“It’s a film about threatened masculinity, the ethics of euthanasia, the tension between relevance and irrelevance, all played out with a decidedly subtle hand.” – Clint Worthington, The Spool
“Martin Kraut captures realistic tremors of physical tension among the characters, and much of the film’s first half is a captivating, slow-burn study of the protagonist in his setting.” – Chuck Bowen, Slant Magazine
?… doesn’t pass judgment on either of its main characters as they match wits, while the intriguing dynamics ratchet up the tension amid the inherent life-or-death stakes.” – Todd Jorgenson, Cinemalogue
Zaida Bergroth’s enthralling new film, TOVE begins in Helsinki, 1945.The end of the war brings a new sense of artistic and social freedom for painter Tove Jansson. Modern art, dizzying parties and an open relationship with a married politician: Her unconventional life puts her at odds with her sculptor father’s strict ideals. Tove’s desire for liberty is put to the test when she meets theatre director Vivica Bandler. Her love for Vivica is electric and all-consuming but Tove begins to realize that the love she truly yearns has to be reciprocated. As she struggles with her personal life, her creative endeavors take her in an unexpected direction. While focusing her artistic dreams on her painting, the work that started as a side project, the melancholic, haunting tales she told scared children in bomb shelters, rapidly takes on a life of its own. The exploits of the Moomins, infused with inspiration from her own life, bring Tove international fame and financial freedom. There’s a daily comic strip, syndicated all over the world to 120 newspapers in 40 countries, a stage play and stories that continue to delight people around the world. But as she begins to find her artistic identity she has to learn to find herself. Her unrequited love for Vivica is preventing her true liberty and only by learning to break away from her can she truly be free. Director Zaida Bergroth joins us for an engaging conversation on humanizing the creative journey of an internationally recognized artistic talent and a woman energized by her personal search for freedom, identity and desire.
Finland’s entry – Best International Feature Film for the 2021 Academy Awards
Director’s Statement– Tove Jansson – the ”Moominmamma”, the one that everybody knows, the one put on a pedestal. My impression of her has been this gray haired, wise, unnaturally calm and somehow untouchable human being. The more I have got to know her through the research and preparation, I have made for this film about her life, the more surprised I’ve become – this film will be anything but calm and predictable. Tove’s passion and energy, her strong emotions and how she expressed them and the fact that she was so unconventional; those were the things that surprised me the most. TOVE struggled with serious issues; she was aware of having a predisposition for depression, her relation to her father was complicated and the strenuous intimate relationships left their marks, but her positivity and her ability to always take other people into consideration and really understand them combined with how she looked for and appreciated light and joy, gives me inspiration and hope. These aspects I have wanted to include in the film about Tove. I wanted to depict Tove closely and sensitively and show as many surprising sides of her as possible, so that the audience understands how passionate and wild she was, how much she loved parties and love itself. TOVE tells about Tove’s life while celebrating courage and independence. With TOVE I once again deal with the same themes and characters that excite me, but this time around I especially enjoy Tove’s inspiring, rambunctious and positive company. Even though the events in her life were sometimes both painful and overwhelming, Tove kept her beautiful outlook on the world and the people in it. It is very comforting that such a wise and understanding person has lived such a wild and uncompromising life. I’m also excited to use my own knowledge in depicting Tove’s life: I’ve lived my childhood surrounded by artists – my mother is a painter and I’ve spent endless hours in her studio. I find it very exciting – and most of all important – to tell this story of an enormously talented and inspiring female artist who continues to have a huge impact on people all around the world.
About the director – Zaida Bergroth (born 1977) is a Finnish film screenwriter-director. Bergroth’s previous films (Maria ́s Paradise, Miami, The Good Son, Last Cowboy Standing) have been screened at festivals including TIFF and have received awards at the Busan International Film Festival, at the Chicago International Film Festival and many others. TOVE is her fifth feature film as a director.
“Though narratively simple, it’s a dazzling piece of work which perfectly captures the essence of the artist and both the necessity and cost of authenticity.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“Biopics are a dime a dozen these days with many often featuring the usual cliched rise- and-fall scenario. But with Tove, director Zaida Bergroth is lucky enough to focus on a uniquely alluring Finnish sketcher.” – Susan Wloszczyna, AWFJ Women on Film
“TOVE dispatched me down a rabbit hole, or through a Moomin Door. I recommend the trip. – Anthony Lane, New Yorker
“A story that could have quickly succumbed to common themes about the dreams that are lost with age is instead a bitter-sweet celebration of a life, though imperfect, still lived to its fullest and with learned lessons accompanying regrets.” – Meghan White, AwardsWatch
“If anyone were expecting this to be about Moomins, they would be very disappointed, but if you were expecting a painful love story and struggle of an artist finding herself, this is the story for you.” – Katie Hogan, FILMHOUNDS Magazine
From Academy Award®-nominated and Emmy-Winning filmmaker Matthew Heineman (Cartel Land, City of Ghosts, A Private War) comes an astonishingly intimate portrait of one of the biggest international music super-stars of our time. THE BOY FROM MEDELLÍN follows J Balvin as he prepares for the most important concert of his career–a sold out stadium show in his hometown of Medellín, Colombia. But as the performance draws ever closer, the streets explode with growing political unrest, forcing the Latin Grammy-winning musician to wrestle with his responsibility as an artist to his country and his legions of fans around the globe. As the public pressure of the approaching concert heightens, behind the scenes, Balvin also continues to deal with the anxiety and depression that has plagued him for years. Shot entirely in the dramatic week leading up to the concert, THE BOY FROM MEDELLÍN gives us unprecedented access to the “Prince of Reggaeton,” and provides an immersive look into one of the most pivotal and emotionally charged moments of his life. Director, producer, cinematographer and editor Matthew Heineman joins us for a conversation on the insanely compressed and tumultuous week of filming, gaining the confidence and comfort of Balvin’s family and friends and capping the shoot by capturing a stadium-size concert, something he had never attempted before.
About the filmmaker – Matthew Heineman is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker. The Sundance Film Festival called Heineman “one of the most talented and exciting documentary filmmakers working today”, while Anne Thompson of Indiewire wrote that Heineman is a “respected and gifted filmmaker who combines gonzo fearlessness with empathetic sensitivity.” In 2019, he received a nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First Time Feature Film Director from the Directors Guild of America for his narrative debut A Private War — making Heineman and Martin Scorsese the only filmmakers ever nominated for both narrative and documentary DGA Awards. Heineman’s 2015 film Cartel Land, which explores vigilantes taking on Mexican drug cartels, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and won three Primetime Emmy Awards, including Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking and Best Cinematography. For more go to: ourtimeprojects.com
“[A]n appealing tag-along portrait of Colombian reggaeton superstar J Balvin at a moment of noteworthy pressure in his Latin Grammy-winning, Coachella-headlining and streaming-dominant pop ascendancy.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
“Some films make do with stories that present an interesting surface and little more. In The Boy From Medellín, undercurrents run constantly. Depression and anxiety provide two of them, but the most dramatic one flows from politics.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
“…intimate, open-hearted…Balvin seems to invite Heineman right into the heart of that inner circle, as “The Boy from Medellín” takes a fly-on-the-wall approach that codifies its subject’s authenticity at every turn.” – INDIEWIRE, David Ehrlich
Imprisoned by the Soviets. Orphaned by the Holocaust. Elected Prime Minister. Crowned peacemaker by the Nobel Prize Committee. Disgraced by the Lebanon War. Menachem Begin was a pillar of the State of Israel and a tireless fighter for the Jewish people. He was, at the same time, a controversial leader. Whether he was challenging the British, founding the Likud political party or fighting to end bigotry against Middle Eastern and African Jews in Israeli society, his dedication to his country and his people was boundless. Still, that unwavering commitment could bear untoward consequences. In 1948, as Israel fought for its life as a nation, his role in the tragic Altalena Affair that ended in the deaths of 19 Jews, and at Deir Yassin, where more than 100 Palestinians died, including women and children, haunted him until the day he died. As Prime Minister of Israel, he made an historic peace deal with Egypt, and he also gave the go-ahead to bomb Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor. His life is a nuanced and complicated canvas that tells the story of key events and currents in the history of modern Israel and its relationship to its Middle East neighbors. The recent ground-breaking peace agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco make this a propitious time to look back at Begin’s achievements and consider them in a new light. Director Jonathan Gruber stops by for a conversation on one of the most consequential patriots and political leaders in the Israeli history, and a man who was also provided a moral compass for the people he led.
Worldwide Virtual Live Premiere on June 7, 2021 and
Nationwide Watch Now @ Home Cinema Release on June 9, 2021
Director’s Statement When I was asked to direct UPHEAVAL, I immediately knew that the complexity of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s story should be underscored by the need to strike a balance among vastly different political and ideological perspectives. As we see in society today, the gray is often erased in favor of more partisan and oversimplified stances, when, as I see it, there are untold nuances to leadership from which we can learn deeper truths and lessons. This film is a study in the gray. Begin fiercely advocated for Arab-Israeli citizenship but was deemed a radical right-winger for his role infighting for Israel’s independence, as well as expanding Jewish settlements in theWest Bank.He elevated North African and Middle Eastern Jews in Israeli society, helping to counter the discrimination they were facing, and heal so oversaw the rescue of Ethiopian Jews and Vietnamese refugees, welcoming them as immigrants. He sought and achieved peace with Egypt — but also led a tragic and unsuccessful war in Lebanon. Directing the first English-language feature documentary on Prime Minister Begin has been an eye-opening exploration of the heart and mind of one of the most iconic leaders of the 20th century. From his Eastern European roots to becoming an advocate and politician on the world stage, Begin’s humility and modesty belie his courage and resilience. For better or for worse, he stood up for his ideals, and, ultimately, he held himself accountable to them. World leaders today would be wise to learn from someone who did not enrich himself through his position but fought for his values and beliefs on behalf of the people who elected him. – Jonathan Gruber
Unapologetically honest, IT’S NOT A BURDEN: The Humor and Heartache of Raising Elderly Parents provides an intimate look at the multi-layered and endlessly-complex relationships between aging parents and the adult children who care for them. Emmy® nominated filmmaker Michelle Boyaner shares her very personal journey caring for her long-divorced aging parents (her larger-than-life Mother battling dementia, her Father, a hoarder) as well as weaving in a variety of other families supporting stories, including several “When Harry Met Sally” couch-style interviews. Packed with archival and vérité footage, the families of IT’S NOT A BURDEN open their homes and their hearts, sharing stories of the universal issues we face around the topic of caring for our aging parents and reminding us we are not alone. IT’S NOT A BURDEN not only explores the frustrations and fears, but also the transformative bonds that happen when familial roles are reversed, friends support friends and communities come together, exemplifying our capacity to love. Emmy®-nominated director, writer and producer Michelle Boyaner (Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson) and Producer Katie Ford (Miss Congeniality) join us for a conversation on the many challenges as well as the enriching rewards of caring for your loved ones.
It’s Not a Burden will be distributed by Gravitas Ventures (North American), a Red Arrow Studios Company and will be released on VOD in the US on June 1, 2021 on several platforms.
About the filmmaker – Michelle Boyaner – Writer / Director / Produceris an award-winning, Emmy® nominated filmmaker whose projects have included the recent HBO Documentary film Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson, as well as the documentary feature, and festival favorite, A Finished Life: The Goodbye & No Regrets Tour. Documentary shorts include Hi, You’ve Reached Dave’s Apartment, and Tina Paulina: Living on Hope Street, as well as the narrative shorts, You’re Still Young, and The Bedwetter. Prior to her film work, Michelle wrote Oh, for God’s Sake Whisper It, a book of personal essays chronicling her beloved Grandmother’s battle with Alzheimer’s. She is currently also at work on a scripted web series about growing up in the 1970’s in a Southern California suburb.
About the filmmaker – Katie Ford – Producer – is best known for writing the hit film, Miss Congeniality. She is currently co-creator of High Desert, a new series for Apple TV starring Patricia Arquette and produced by Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Productions. Katie has written successfully for both comedy and drama with credits as diverse as the Golden Globe and Emmy-Nominated movie Prayers For Bobby, ABC’s Desperate Housewives, Wonderful World of Disney’s critically acclaimed, Little House on the Prairie mini-series, and TNT’s Transporter series. She got her start at age 21 writing for NBC’s Family Ties. Ford splits her time between writing for TV and Film, and creating new types of storytelling through digital media formats. She has been a guest teacher and lecturer at many Universites and independent classes – working with up-and-coming writers.
It’s been 75 years since the start of the Atomic Age, with the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, but its trail of destruction has never ended. The newly re-mastered Dark Circle, being re-released through First Run Features, covers both the period’s beginnings and its aftermath, providing a scientific primer on the catastrophic power of nuclear energy while also relating tragic human stories detailing the devastating toll radioactive toxicity has taken on people and livestock—focusing in large part on Rocky Flats, Colorado, whose plutonium processing facility infamously contaminated the surrounding area. Documentary Grand Prize winner at Sundance, Academy shortlisted for Best Documentary, and Emmy winner, Dark Circle is no less potent today than it was 40 years ago. Co-director Judy Irving (The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, Pelican Dreams) joins us for an informative and provocative conversation on the history and development of nuclear weapons and nuclear power facilities, as well as the clear and present danger this unimaginably destructive weaponry andtroubled technology continue to pose to the planet and the survival of humanity.
Filmmaker’s Statement – When I set out to make a personal film about the impact of nuclear weapons and power on ordinary people, I had no idea that the movie would create such a ruckus, or that it would still be so relevant 39 years after its release. My aim was to point the camera away from experts and politicians, and find stories about how plutonium is affecting us, even in the absence of a nuclear war. Those effects are not only physical, but psychological and spiritual as well. Having grown up under this nuclear cloud, I wanted to show how nuclear power and weapons are in fact the same industry, despite government propaganda that urges us to see them as separate. Part of understanding this industry required that we travel to Japan to film interviews with survivors of the atomic bombings. We were astonished to discover that we were the first American film crew to do so. American writers and still photographers had been to Hiroshima and Nagasaki before us, but no documentary film crew until we arrived in 1979. To me, this spoke volumes about how much guilt and denial we bring to the issue. After its theatrical release, Dark Circle was accepted for a national broadcast on public television, but then PBS gatekeepers broke the contract. Claiming we were not objective, they insisted that we cut a sequence in which we name the corporations that build the hydrogen bomb, such as General Electric, whose slogan is, ironically, “We bring good things to life.” Many of these corporations are PBS underwriters. We refused to cut the Arms Convention sequence and fought the obvious censorship. It took seven years before PBS finally created a new series, “POV,” to showcase films with a strong point of view, and when Dark Circle was broadcast it won a National News & Documentary Emmy – for PBS! Flash forward three decades: with nuclear stockpiles growing, missile accidents in the news, and nine nuclear states including China flexing their powers with threats, Dark Circle is suddenly relevant again.
About the filmmaker – Pelican Media Executive Director Judy Irving is a Sundance-and-Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker whose theatrical credits include The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a feature documentary about the relationship between a homeless street musician and a flock of wild parrots in San Francisco, Pelican Dreams, about California brown pelicans and the people who know them best, and Dark Circle, a personal film about the links between nuclear power and weapons. In 2015 Judy was invited to become a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Wild Parrotswas a “Top Ten Film of the Year” (National Film Critics’ Poll), was the highest-rated program on the 2007 national PBS series “Independent Lens,” and is now in international distribution. Pelican Dreams (completed in late 2014), features a young brown pelican who mistakenly landed — tired, hungry, and confused — on the roadway of the Golden Gate Bridge, creating a spectacular traffic jam and re-igniting Judy’s years’-long fascination with these ancient, charismatic birds. Judy spent childhood summers on the North Fork of Long Island, and came to love birds thanks to her grandfather. She graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in Psychology and worked as a freelance journalist in Montreal before hitchhiking across the continent and living on a handmade raft-house in British Columbia. Later, she received her Masters in Film and Broadcasting from Stanford University, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in Film. Her documentary film career has taken her to Alaska, Japan, Russia, Nepal, and Zimbabwe, with peace and the environment as her main areas of interest. For more about Judy Irving go to: pelicanmedia.org
“Dark Circle is one of the most horrifying films I’ve seen, and also sometimes one of the funniest (if you can laugh at the same things in real life that you found amusing in Dr. Strangelove). Using powers granted by the Freedom of Information Act, and sleuthing that turned up government film the government didn’t even know it had, the producers of this film have created a mosaic of the Atomic Age. It is a tribute to the power of the material, and to the relentless digging of the filmmakers, that the movie is completely riveting. Four Stars!”– Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times (1982)
“You owe it to yourself to see this chilling documentary. A much needed warning sign on a very dangerous road. Rated: A.”– People Magazine
“The best of the recent films about the atomic age” – Valerie Ellis, In These Times
“Uncompromising power” – Denver Post
:The most eloquent, far ranging, and convincing film on the subject to date.” John Hartl, Seattle Times
“An urgent horror story, Vincent Canaby, New York Times
Zeshawn Ali’s enthralling feature documentary debut, Two Gods follows Hanif, a Muslim casket maker and ritual body washer in Newark, New Jersey, as he takes two young men under his wing to teach them how to live better lives. He mentors two kids— Furquan, a confident 12- year-old who comes from a rough home and Naz, a 17-year -old who has been fighting through his own struggles as a young black man growing up in Newark. Hardship comes when Furquan’s home life becomes more turbulent and Naz gets caught up in a serious arrest. Hanif fears he has failed as a mentor and begins to fall into a downward spiral. During each of their darkest moments, they take what they’ve learned from their pasts and from each other to pull through. And through faith, brotherhood and redemption they find their purpose. Director Zeshawn Ali joins us for a conversation on meeting subject Hanif, his exploration of this sacred Islamic body washing tradition and how his own family’s recent losses impacted the film’s storytelling trajectory.
Director’s Statement – Two Gods explores the juxtaposition of grief and the rituals of death with the vibrancy of coming of age. The film is a tonal balance between those two worlds, and our choice to shoot in black and white was to show how they’re so delicately interconnected. In this film, we witness a crisis of faith within the older and younger generations. This idea of “two Gods” began coming up within the community as a way to refer to the struggle of feeling like you’re not able to worship God and the streets at the same time. Who do you worship when you’re trying your best to survive? One of the spaces where both generations come together is the janazah (the Islamic funeral) and the body washings. When someone dies, their loved ones and leaders in the community come together to wash the body as a way to prepare them for burial. About two years ago, as we were making this film, I lost my father and grandmother. I went from filming so many washings in this community to having to wash my own father. The grief is so hard to navigate, but the level of preparedness we felt because of the time we spent with Hanif made the process of burying our loved ones much easier. This story means so much to me and my brother Aman (the film’s producer) and I hope to have an impact on audiences in much the same way. Growing up Muslim in America, I always longed for interesting portrayals of Muslim Americans that were not political— stories that were personal, quiet and reflective. Our film gives nuance to our Muslim American community, which has needed a change in the narrative. And it presents a Muslim American story that is intersectional and showcases faith as a fact of life, rather than something that needs to be explained or defended. Two Gods explores a meaningful story in a way that reflects the intimacy, spirituality and vibrancy of coming-of-age and the rituals of death. And through Hanif’s mentorship and the journey and struggles of him, Furquan and Naz, we learn that the fight to find purpose and meaning in those moments, both small and profound, is what finding faith is all is about. It reminds us all that to be human is to grieve love, and fight— for faith, for redemption, and for purpose. – Ali Zeshawn
About the filmmaker – Director Ali Zeshawn is originally from Ohio and is a graduate of Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Two Gods is his first feature film and has received support from ITVS, Tribeca Film Institute, Ford Foundation, Sundance Institute, Doc Society, Points North Institute and IFP. He is a member of Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective and Meerkat Media. He is currently based in New York. For more: zeshawnali.com
“A timely portrait of lives lost and redeemed.” – The Hollywood Reporter
“We are blessed with both the craft and the documentation of sublime empathy that Ali brings to the film” – POV Magazine
“Ali expertly gathers footage to profile the travails and personal growth of his protagonists. It’s a moving, profound odyssey.” – Hammer to Nail
“[A] captivating feature debut…” – Moveable Fest
“This is real cinema vérité, one that authentically gives say to those who often remain voiceless.” – Film Forward
“A poetic meditation on life, death and the struggle to survive in between.” – Filmmaker Magazine
“Two Gods is a beautiful, deeply empathetic piece of storytelling that takes a ground-level look at our relationship with the biggest ideas in our lives. A masterpiece just waiting to be discovered.” – Criterion Cast
In Stephen Maxwell Johnson’s powerful new film, High Ground, a young indigenous man, Gutjuk, teams up with a World War I soldier / ex-sniper, Travis, to track down the dangerous Bayawara, a fierce warrior in the Territory, who is also his uncle. As Travis and Gutjuk journey through the outback they begin to earn each other’s trust, but when the truths of Travis’ past actions are suddenly revealed, it is he who becomes the hunted. High Ground was conceived as a story that would challenge accepted notions of the colonial settlement of Australia. High Ground is a powerful human drama, instilled with a strong sense of hope and fear, a story of treachery, heroism, sacrifice, freedom and love, misguided beliefs, an unequal struggle for power, and grief. But above all it is a story about the finding of one’s roots. Director Stephen Maxwell Johnson joins us for a conversation on the shameful treatment the indigenous peoples of Australia have suffered under, the denial of that history and why it was so important that High Ground reflect the human drama, instilled with a strong sense of hope and fear, but above all a story about the finding of one’s roots.
Director’s Statement – At the heart of High Ground is the tragic story of Frontier encounters and the missed opportunity between two cultures, black and white. High Ground was conceived as a story that would challenge accepted notions of the settlement of Australia. Faced with the myth of terra nullius the aim with the film is to create a new mythology and present a different perspective on how this country was made. It explores the themes of identity and culture and the attempts that were made to preserve and progress culture in the face of an overwhelming threat. High Ground is a story with mythic proportions with complexity and no easy answers. This story presents a view that there really is no such thing as settlement it’s all about conquest, it explores the way in which society is built and how connections are made between people and it exposes the shameful truth of our frontier history but rather than choosing to dramatize a specific historical event ‘High Ground’ draws on contact history from a variety of locations – a fiction to illustrate a deeper truth. High Ground is a powerful human drama, instilled with a strong sense of hope and fear, a story of treachery, heroism, sacrifice, freedom and love, misguided beliefs, an unequal struggle for power, and grief. But above all it is a story about the finding of one’s roots. My aim has been to entertain and immerse an audience in an environment teeming with unexpected threats, and to take them on a ride through an aspect of our history that is under-represented and hopefully encourage them to rethink the Australian story.
About the filmmaker – Stephen Maxwell Johnson grew up in the Bahamas, Africa and the Northern Territory of Australia. He began his film and television career at Channel 9 as a trainee cameraman and has worked on mainstream drama, news and current affairs shows. He attended acting school in London and then headed back to the Northern Territory intent on making his first movie. Stephen established a production house and narrow cast television station in Darwin and directed, produced and photographed drama, documentaries, television commercials, animation, corporate films and rock clips all over the Northern Territory, Australia and many remote Indigenous communities. Stephens work include his multi award winning rock clips for the band Yothu Yindi including ‘Treaty’ an AFI award for best Children’s drama ‘Out There’, an AFI nomination for best direction in television and his first movie which he directed, executive produced and script edited ‘Yolngu Boy’. Stephen has recently completed his second feature film ‘High Ground’ which has been 20 years in the making. High Ground premiered at the at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2020 and will be released in cinemas 2021.
“Australian storytelling that packs a punch and pushes you to think deeply about the history of this country, High Ground captures the raw beauty of Arnhem Land as it does the brutality of colonialism.” Wenlei Ma, News.com.au
“More intimate than epic, but gorgeous, stately and tense, it captures a last burst of tit-for-tat reprisals in a country starting to face its genocidal past and racist present.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“…High Ground is an overwhelming achievement of cinematic brilliance. It continues the legacy of Sweet Country by exposing the horrifying actions of White Australians…” – Andrew F. Peirce, The Curb
“High Ground is a deceptively simple story about the lingering consequences of revenge through racism taken to heights of excellence due to beautiful vistas, top representation of Aboriginal culture and its brutal depiction of violence.” – Harris Dang, The AU Review
“In the magnetic Nayinggul, superb as the boy on the brink of manhood who must choose whether to reject anger or embrace it, the film showcases a notable new talent.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International
Emily @ the Edge of Chaos interweaves Emily Levine’s live performance with animation, appearances by scientists, and animated characters (John Lithgow as Sir Isaac Newton, Lily Tomlin as Ayn Rand, Leonard Nimoy as Sigmund Freud, Richard Lewis as Aristotle, Matt Groening as Aldo Leopold). Emily @ the Edge of Chaos uses physics, which explains how the universe works, to explain our metaphysics – the story of our values, our institutions, our interactions. Using her own experience and a custom blend of insight and humor, provocation and inspiration, personal story and social commentary, Emily takes her audience through its own paradigm shift: from the Fear of Change to the EDGE OF CHAOS!Emily Levine, like her film, was one-of-a-kind. She was a television writer and producer (Designing Women, Love & War and Dangerous Minds), a stand-up performer, and an out-of-the box-thinker, whose brilliant TED Talks have been watched by millions. She made this film with Wendy Apple, who produced and directed it.Wendy died in 2017 and Emily continued working on the film until she also passed away in 2019. Executive Producer Thea Kerman joins us to talk about how her friend and colleague, Emily Levine, poured her heart and should into making this film before cancer took her, and how the unexpected death of the director Wendy Apple played into Thea stepping in to guide the film to completion and distribution.
About Emily Levine – Emily graduated cum laude from Harvard, intent on pursuing a career as an Oracle. Unable to find a good Oracle agent, she settled for a career as a stand-up comedian, headlining in comedy clubs and making television appearances on shows such as David Letterman’s Late Night. The LA Times called her “a stand-out as a stand-up.” Newsweek called her “one of the new queens of comedy.” Her mother called her every week. Later, as a television writer and producer, Emily worked on shows such as Designing Women, Love and War and Dangerous Minds. She created and produced pilots for new situation comedies for CBS, NBC, ABC and HBO. In the 90’s, Emily’s career began to suffer as an undiagnosed tumor in her pituitary gland began to wreak havoc. Lacking an explanation for the weird array of symptoms, including brain fog, osteoarthritis, and a curious lack of interest in consumer-driven activity, she could only believe she was going crazy. The relief that accompanied the eventual diagnosis in 2007 – the fact that there was an actual real reason for her decline – led Emily to fall in love with fact-based reality, aka science. Her movie, “Emily @ the Edge of Chaos,” details this journey, using humor, animations, and guest stars to inspire the country with that same love of fact-based reality. Emily was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2018 and started a blog, “The Yoy of Dying,” that takes it all on. Emily died on February 3, 2019, but Emily’s daughter Abby continues working to release “Emily @ the Edge of Chaos.” You can subscribe to Emily’s Universe and continue to follow Emily’s accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to stay up-to-date. For more about Emily go to: emilysuniverse.com
About the filmmaker – Thea Kerman, Executive Producer, has over 30 years of experience as an entertainment lawyer. She has provided legal services for narrative films such as Donnie Brasco, The Fisher King, Hook, Hairspray, Warriors of Virtue, Bats and Black Dynamite, documentary films such as The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Film Editing and Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack and worked with clients and talent such as Akiro Kurasawa, Barry Levinson, Sidney Lumet, Bruce Willis, Richard Gere, Al Pacino, Whitney Houston and Kiss. Prior to establishing her own law firm in 1990 in Los Angeles, Ms. Kerman was the Senior Production Counsel for Tri-Star Pictures and served as General Counsel for the Marvel Comics Group.. She was a co-producer on Dukhtar, a U.S./Pakistani/Norwegian/Indian narrative co-production which had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and was the official Pakistani nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th annual Academy Awards. She was an executive producer of Doctors of the Dark Side, a feature length documentary, and co-producer of Yellow Rose, an American-Fillipino musical drama.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. With more than two decades as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events such as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Big Screen Classics series in partnership with Fathom Events, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app. Fans can also enjoy a TCM curated classics experience on HBO Max.
TCM UNDERGROUND – Tune in every Friday night for TCM Underground, our late-night movie franchise that showcases the best of classic cult favorites and hard-to-find films, from experimental shorts to off-beat comedies. For more discussions around the wild, weird world of cult films and films shown on TCM Underground, check out our web series TCM Slumberground on YouTube!
TCM SLUMBERGROUND is the official monthly pre-show for TCM Underground, a late-night cult movie franchise that airs at 2:00 am EST on Friday nights on Turner Classic Movies. In each episode, TCM Underground programmer Millie De Chirico sits down with a panel of her fellow TCM employees to discuss the upcoming double feature and other cult movie topics.
Other Midnight Films at past TCM Classic Film Festivals include: Boom!, Duck Soup, Eraserhead, Freaks, Gog, Island of Lost Souls, Kentucky Fried Movie, Night of the Living Dead, Nothing Lasts Forever, Phase IV, Roar, Santo vs. The Evil Brain,The Bride of Frankenstein, The Day of the Triffids, The Mummy, The Student Nurses, The Tingler, The World’s Greatest Sinner and Zardoz.
In the late 1960s, in the aftermath of the Watts Uprising and against the backdrop of the continuing Civil Rights Movement and the escalating Vietnam War, a group of African and African-American students entered the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, as part of an Ethno-Communications initiative designed to be responsive to communities of color (also including Asian, Chicano and Native American communities). Now referred to as the “L.A. Rebellion,” these mostly unheralded artists created a unique cinematic landscape, as—over the course of two decades—students arrived, mentored one another and passed the torch to the next group. Beyond the films themselves, what makes the L.A. Rebellion movement a discovery worthy of a place in film history is the vitality of its filmmakers, their utopian vision of a better society, their sensitivity to children and gender issues, their willingness to question any and all received wisdom, their identification with the liberation movements in the Third World, and their expression of Black pride and dignity. As part of the 2021 TCM (Turner Classic Movies) Film Festival is spotlighting two of the L.A. Rebellion’s leading lights, Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry in the festival’s Special Collections section. Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry join us for a conversation on their recollections the birth of the L.A. Rebellion and the inspiration for their life altering decision to become filmmakers.
About the filmmaker – Charles Burnett is a writer-director whose work has received extensive honors. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, his family soon moved to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Burnett studied creative writing at UCLA before entering the University’s graduate film program. His thesis project, Killer of Sheep (1977), won accolades at film festivals and a critical devotion; in 1990, it was among the first titles named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. European financing allowed Burnett to shoot his second feature, My Brother’s Wedding (1983), but a rushed debut prevented the filmmaker from completing his final cut until 2007. In 1988, Burnett was awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur (“genius grant”) Fellowship and shortly thereafter Burnett became the first African American recipient of the National Society of Film Critics’ best screenplay award, for To Sleep withAnger (1990). Burnett made the highly acclaimed “Nightjohn” in 1996 for the Disney Channel; his subsequent television works include “Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding” (1998), “Selma, Lord, Selma” (1999), an episode of the seven-part series “Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues” (2003) and “Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property” (2003), which was shown on the PBS series “Independent Lens.” Burnett has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the J. P. Getty Foundation. In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art showcased his work with a month-long retrospective.
To Sleep with Anger – Writer and Director Charles Burnett – A slow-burning masterwork of the early 1990s, this third feature by Charles Burnett is a singular piece of American mythmaking. In a towering performance, Danny Glover plays the enigmatic southern drifter Harry, a devilish charmer who turns up out of the blue on the South Central Los Angeles doorstep of his old friends. In short order, Harry’s presence seems to cast a chaotic spell on what appeared to be a peaceful household, exposing smoldering tensions between parents and children, tradition and change, virtue and temptation. Interweaving evocative strains of gospel and blues with rich, poetic-realist images, To Sleep with Anger is a sublimely stirring film from an autonomous artistic sensibility, a portrait of family resilience steeped in the traditions of African American mysticism and folklore.
About the filmmaker – Billy Woodberry Born in Dallas in 1950, Billy Woodberry is one of the founders of the L.A. Rebellion film movement. His first feature film Bless Their Little Hearts (1983) is a pioneer and essential work of this movement, influenced by Italian neo-realism and the work of Third Cinema filmmakers. The film was awarded with an OCIC and Interfilm awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2013. His latest feature film And when I die, I won’t stay dead (2015) about the beat poet Bob Kaufman was the opening film of MoMA’s Doc Fortnight in 2016. Woodberry has appeared in Charles Burnett’s “When It Rains” (1995) and provided narration for Thom Andersen’s Red HOLLYWOOD” (1996) and James Benning’s “Four Corners”(1998). His work has been screened at Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Harvard Film Archive, Camera Austria Symposium, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Tate Modern and Centre Pompidou. He received his MFA degree from UCLA in 1982 where he also taught at the School of Theater, Film and Television. Since 1989 Billy Woodberry is a faculty member of the School of Film/Video and the School of Art at the California Institute of the Arts.
Bless Their Little Hearts – Director / Producer / Editor Billy Woodberry – A key masterpiece of the L.A Rebellion, Bless Their Little Hearts distills the social concerns and aesthetics of that trailblazing movement in African American cinema. Billy Woodberry’s film showcases his attentive eye, sensitivity to the nuances of community and family, and the power of the blues. Searching for steady work, Charlie Banks (Nate Hardman) views his chronic unemployment as a kind of spiritual trial. But day work and selling a few catfish can’t sustain a family of five. While his wife, Andais (Kaycee Moore), works to support them with dignity, Charlie finds comfort for his wounded sense of manhood in an affair that threatens his marriage and family.At the heart of this devastatingly beautiful film is the couple’s agonizing confrontation – shot in one continuous ten-minute take – that ranks as “one of the great domestic cataclysms of modern movies.” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker) Named to the National Film Registry, Bless Their Little Hearts features contributions by two iconic American artists: Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep, To Sleep With Anger), who wrote and shot the film, and Kaycee Moore (Daughters of the Dust), whose powerful performance as Andais Banks remains a revelation. Film restoration by Ross Lipman with Billy Woodberry at UCLA Film & Television Archive. 2K Digital restoration by Re-Kino, Warsaw. English captions and Spanish subtitles.
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