The Plagiarists – Screenwriters Robin Schavoir and James N. Kienitz Wilkins

Co-written by experimental filmmakers James N. Kienitz Wilkins and Robin Schavoir (who, along with Paul Dallas, served as producers), The Plagiarists is at once a hilarious send-up of low-budget American indie filmmaking and a probing inquiry into race, relationships, and the social uncanny. A young novelist (Lucy Kaminsky) and her cinematographer boyfriend (Eamon Monaghan) are waylaid by a snowstorm on their way to visit a friend in upstate New York and are taken in by the kindly yet enigmatic Clip (Michael “Clip” Payne of Parliament Funkadelic), who puts them up for the night. But an accidental discovery months later recasts in an unnerving light what had seemed like an agreeable evening, stoking resentments both latent and not-so-latent. Exhilaratingly intelligent and distinctively shot on a vintage TV-news camera, The Plagiarists is a work whose provocations are inseparable from its pleasures. Screenwriters James N. Kienitz Wilkins and Robin Schavoir join us to talk about whip-smart project, as well as their creative process, white privilege, blending together acting styles and Dogma 95.

Background – The Plagiarists is a dramatic comedy about the clash of money and culture, reality and desire, race and identity. It’s a social satire about who has the privilege to say what in today’s world. It was conceived as a playful critique of the mannerisms of “indie film” used by aspiring filmmakers to denote authenticity of performance, often resulting in the casual perpetuation of stereotypes. The Plagiarists is at once the thing it mimics: a completely independent micro-budget feature shot entirely on vintage news cameras from the 1980s, despite a contemporary subject matter. The camera cited in the story is also the production camera, recording on real Betacam SP videotape (sourced from eBay) to create a visual style reflecting the internal debate over obsolescence, nostalgia, and the heavy weight of originality.

 

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“An adventurous comic thumping worth the working over of your sensibilities.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

“Its crude imagery and the sharp editing that implicitly contradicts it are deliberate components of a termite-like digging into the permutations of postmodern cultural work.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times

“The Plagiarists’ perfectly judged mimicry of independent cinema illustrates the profound effect a lack of diversity has on the type of art that gets made.” – Patrick Gamble, CineVue

“The film improves upon reflection, raising, as it does, some knotty questions about originality in art and in life, as well as provocatively positing that even a copy of a copy of a copy has the potential to move hearts and minds.” – Keith Uhlich, Hollywood Reporter

Circus of Books, Director Rachel Mason

For 35-plus years, the gay porn shop Circus of Books gave Los Angeles’ LGBT+ community a space to socialize and celebrate themselves without judgment. Unbeknownst to many customers, the store was cultivated by owners Karen and Barry Mason, a straight, mainstream couple with three children who went to religious school and were unaware of their parents’ business. The Masons long refused to disclose the nature of their business to friends or family. While maintaining the secret, they witnessed the dawn of the HIV/AIDS epidemic firsthand, losing a generation of treasured employees. Still, during that time, they never identified https://www.netflix.com/title/81011569as activists — just everyday entrepreneurs catering to a market, until the Internet destroyed it. Executive produced by Ryan Murphy, CIRCUS OF BOOKS is the debut documentary from artist Rachel Mason, who finally asks the least radical people she knows — her parents — how they became America’s biggest distributors of gay porn, and why Karen reacted so negatively when her own son came out of the closet.Director and daughter Rachel Mason joins us to talk her parents, her brothers, her own story and the impact her family’s business had on a community fighting to survive.

Circus of Books is nows screening at: netflix.com

About the filmmaker – Rachel Mason is an artist, musician and filmmaker from Los Angeles. Mason has recorded 13 albums, has toured, exhibited sculpture, video and performance at the Whitney Museum, Queens Museum, LACMA, Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art, School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Henry Gallery in Seattle, James Gallery at CUNY, University Art Museum in Buffalo, Sculpture Center, Hessel Museum of Art at Bard and Occidental College, Kunsthalle Zurich, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, The New Museum, Park Avenue Armory, Art in General, La Mama, Galapagos, Dixon Place, and Empac Center for Performance in Troy among other venues. Reviews include New York Times, Village Voice, Los Angeles Times, Flash Art, Art in America, Art News, and Artforum. Her album and feature film, The Lives of Hamilton Fish. has toured festivals and museums internationally and was released in 2016.

For more about Rachel Mason go to: rachelmasonart.com

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98% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Circus of Books is the story of an American family who wandered into the eye of history, and a virtuoso example of how to make a movie both very big and very small at once.” – Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic

“A RARE DELIGHT – AND A NEARLY PERFECT DOCUMENTARY. Mason keeps a thread of tension taut throughout, never losing sight of the contradictions between her parents’ work and their home life.” – Jude Dry, IndieWire

“VERY FUNNY, VERY MOVING. The filmmaker does right by front-loading most of the snicker-worthy scenes. She knows that even the most open-minded among us need to get past a certain level of shock and incredulity to see Karen and Barry as the beautiful, and beautifully complicated, people they are.” – Keith Uhlich, The Hollywood Reporter

“Circus of Books tells this complex and enthralling story, about the rise and fall of their family business, with a unique specificity. It’s Mason’s lack of distance from the subject — in fact, it’s that she, too, is part of the story — that makes the picture soar with intimacy.” – Tre’vell Anderson, OUT

The Infiltrators, Co-directors Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera

THE INFILTRATORS is a docu-thriller that tells the true story of young immigrants who are detained by Border Patrol and thrown into a shadowy for-profit detention center— on purpose. Marco and Viri are members of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, a group of radical DREAMers who are on a mission to stop unjust deportations. And the best place to stop deportations, they believe, is in detention. However, when Marco and Viri attempt a daring reverse ‘prison break,’ things don’t go according to plan. By weaving together documentary footage of the real infiltrators with re-enactments of the events inside the detention center, THE INFILTRATORS tells an incredible and thrilling true story in a genre-defying new cinematic language. Co-directors Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera joins for a conversation on dire conditions that await detainees, the cruelty of a for-profit system designed to frustrate people with legitimate reasons for remaining in the United States and their respect for the people who willingly put their lives and futures on the line for the sake of others.

 

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For news and updates go to: theinfiltrators.oscilloscope.net or infiltratorsfilm.com

About the filmmakers:

Alex Rivera is an award-winning filmmaker who tells visually adventurous stories. His first feature film, Sleep Dealer, won the screenwriting award at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, was screened at the Museum of Modern Art, and had a commercial release around the world. In 2015 Alex was awarded support from the Surdna Foundation and the Ford Foundation for The Infiltrators.

Cristina Ibarra has been making award-winning films that explore the U.S.-Mexico border for the past seventeen years. The New York Times calls her documentary Las Marthas “a striking alternative portrait of border-town life.” Her PBS documentary collaboration, The Last Conquistador, had a national broadcast on POV. In 2015 she became part of Women at Sundance.

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“THE INFILTRATORS manages to personalize the undocumented struggle by transforming it into an unlikely blend of activism and suspense that makes a compelling case for the abolishment of ICE.” – Eric Kohn, INDIEWIRE

“A doc mixing interviews, real-time action and reenactment in exciting ways, Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra’s THE INFILTRATORS tells a true story so inspiring it’s a wonder it isn’t better known.’ – John DeFore, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“Chronicling the audacious acts of a group of organized undocumented youth prior to the Obama-implemented, temporary relief known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), THE INFILTRATORS, from Latinx directors Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra, is a vital piece of hybrid cinema that shines light into the obscure realm of privately-operated immigration detention facilities.” – Carlos Aguilar, THE WRAP

Shadows of Freedom, Co-directors Amos Carlen and Aline Robichaud

SHADOWS OF FREEDOM recounts the untold story of the Jewish & French resistance of 1942 in Algiers, which helped change the course of WWII, yet remains largely forgotten. These 388 resistors – mostly young and inexperienced – almost haplessly ended up supporting the Allies in North Africa. In the process they paved the way for a successful invasion of Algiers by the U.S., but also helped to save the lives of over 500,000 Jews in North Africa, targeted by Hitler’s Final Solution. This was all part of OPERATION  TORCH the joint American/U.K. mission that was to be the Allies’ first successful strike against the Nazis. This largely forgotten military operation remains to this day as the longest invasion in the history of conflict. Co-directors and co-producers Amos Carlen and Aline Robichaud join us to talk about a little known but critically important chapter of French resistance, American and British military strategy and the courageous contributions made by Jewish resistance fighters. 

 

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* OPERATION TORCH was the 1942 Anglo-American invasion of North Africa (Algeria and Morocco). It was the 1st joint operation of the U.S. and the U.K., the 1st Allied success against the Nazis and, until D-Day, the largest military operation ever undertaken. It was a hugely significant turning point in the war – aided greatly by the resistance in Algiers – yet remains largely forgotten. SHDOWS OF FREEDOM unveils the importance of Operation Torch in the hopes of highlighting this historical moment that stands as a remarkable achievement by America and Great Britain. This powerful alliance made victory a certainty.

Planet of the Humans, Director Jeff Gibbs

Released on the eve of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and in the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic, PLANET OF THE HUMANS takes a harsh look at how the environmental movement has lost the battle through well-meaning but disastrous choices, including the belief that solar panels and windmills would save us, and by giving in to the corporate interests of Wall Street. PLANET OF THE HUMANS is the debut movie from director Jeff Gibbs, whom Executive Producer Michael Moore calls “a brave and brilliant filmmaker whose new voice must be heard.” Gibbs is a lifelong environmentalist and longtime collaborator of Moore’s with whom he co-produced Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11. Gibbs has dared to say what no one will — that “we are losing the battle to stop climate change because we are following environmental leaders, many of whom are well-intentioned, but who’ve sold out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America.” This film is the wake-up call to the reality which we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the so-called “environmental movement’s” answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids. Moore and Gibbs decided that with the American public — and much of the world – confined to their homes and suddenly having to consider the role humans and their behavior have played in our fragile ecosystem, the moment was too urgent to wait until later this year for the film’s planned release. Director / Producer / Writer / Editor and Cinematographer Jeff Gibbs joins us for a free-wheeling conversation on the hard truths we all face and the dawning realization that we have allowed ourselves to be lulled into believing the billionaire class is going to ensure a sustainable collective future.

 

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For news and updates go to: planetofthehumans.com

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“This is perhaps the most urgent film we’ve shown in the 15 year history of our film festival” – Filmmaker Michael Moore, Founder, Traverse City Film Festival

“A delusion-shattering documentary on how the environmental and green energy movements have been taken over by capitalists.” – Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice

“A bleak picture of a near future that mankind’s very existence is irrevocably condemning.” – Simon Foster, Screen-Space

“This doc, directed by long-time Michael Moore collaborator Jeff Gibbs, advocates passionately for a planet suffering from environmental devastation but offers few glimmers of hope.” – Liam Lacey, Original Cin

“From the warnings of the 1950s to the 21st-century corporate takeover of green energy, a grim look at humanity’s fate as the planet heats up. Is there any hope? This feels like only half the story.” – MaryAnn Johanson, Flick Filosopher

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crip Camp, Co-directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht

CRIP CAMP explores the revolution that blossomed in a ramshackle, unorthodox summer camp for teenagers with disabilities in the early 1970s, transforming their lives and igniting a landmark movement. This joyous and exuberant documentary, co-directed by Emmy®-winning filmmaker Nicole Newnham and sound mixer (and former camper) James LeBrecht, draws from a jaw-dropping store of archival footage to show how the campers’ bonds endured as they migrated West to Berkeley, California — a promised land for a growing and diverse disability community — where they realized that by working together they might secure life-changing accessibility for millions. CRIP CAMP arrives the same year as the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, at a time when the country’s largest minority group still battles daily for the freedom to exist. Co-directors Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht join us for a lively conversation on the personal and professional journey behind the making of CRIP CAMP and the remarkable people who fought and those who continue to fight for human rights.

 

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For news and updates go to: cripcamp.com

Watch Crip Camp on Netflix right now!

About the filmmakers: Jim LeBrecht is the founder of Berkeley Sound Artists (BSA), an audio postproduction house. Films that he has mixed have screened at film festivals including Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW, Telluride and Berlin. Credits include Unrest, The Force, Audrie and Daisy, The Waiting Room, The Devil and Daniel Johnston and We Were Here. LeBrecht started his career in the theater as the resident sound designer at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre for 10 years. He’s also designed sound for the American Conservatory Theatre, The Public Theater in NY, La Jolla Playhouse and the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Jim co-authored (with Deena Kaye) the book Sound and Music for the Theatre: the art and technique of design. Now in its 4th edition, the book is used all over the world as a textbook. Jim’s work as a disabled rights advocate began in his teens as a member of Disabled in Action, a pioneering disability rights group. While at UC, San Diego, he helped found the Disabled Students Union. Jim is currently a board member at the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, a leading organization working for the rights of the disabled through education, legislation and litigation.

Nicole Newnham is a documentary producer and director, Sundance Film Festival alumnus and four time Emmy-nominee. She recently produced the breakthrough virtual reality experience, Collisions, directed by artist Lynette Wallworth. Among her films are The Revolutionary Optimists, winner of the Sundance Hilton Sustainability Award, and Sentenced Home. Both films aired on PBS’ series Independent Lens. Nicole instigated, co-produced and directed the acclaimed documentary The Rape of Europa, about the Nazi war on European culture, which was nominated for a WGA award and shortlisted for the Academy Award. She is known for working to achieve concrete impact from the power of the stories she tells, and co-founded a story and data-mapping platform for youth – linked to The Revolutionary Optimists, own communities, called Map Your World (www.mapyourworld.org).

 

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“The riveting tale of a decades-long radical revolution that changed the world forever.” – Katie WalshTribune News Service

“The spirit of revolution – righteously angry yet full of bonhomie, demanding but generous in its reach – is alive and well in the film. As, one hopes, it is everywhere else.” – Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair

“Using a treasure trove of archived footage and colorful contemporary interviews, Lebrecht and Newnham weave together a punchy, straightforward and inspiring documentary that is greater than the sum of its parts.” – Ashlie D. Stevens, Salon.com

“”Crip Camp” is thus a moving and passionate tribute to the herculean efforts it took… to bring about ramps, curb cuts and other essential accessibility provisions.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

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

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

 

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

About the filmmakers:

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations, Director Andrew Goldberg

By virtually every yardstick, antisemitism in the US and Europe is rising and worsening in ways not seen since the 1930s. It comes in the forms of vandalism, social media abuse, assault and murder. Like a virus, it mutates and evolves across cultures, borders and ideologies, making it all but impossible to stop. Filmmaker Andrew Goldberg explores its infectious behavior in his film VIRAL: ANTISEMITISM IN FOUR MUTATIONS as he travels through four countries to speak firsthand with victims, witnesses, antisemites, and interviewees including Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Fareed Zakaria, George Will and Deborah Lipstadt. VIRAL: ANTISEMITISM IN FOUR MUTATIONS examines how some on the American far right have incited such acts as the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. In Hungary, we see how the Prime Minister has launched a massive campaign against Jewish Holocaust survivor and billionaire George Soros that’s reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. Moving to the far left in England, we see members of the traditionally anti-racist Labour party conflating Israel and Jews, causing tremendous pain for the Jewish community. And in France, the film illuminates the seemingly endless wave of violence against Jews by Islamists and radicals. The increasing bigotry, and at times violence, within each of these four countries paints a terrifying portrait of how global hatred disseminates and harms. As activist Maajid Nawaz says in the film, “If we don’t draw a red line in the sand when it comes to antisemitism, Muslims will be next, gays will be next and everyone else who is deemed a minority will be next.” Director Andrew Goldberg joins us to talk about this particularly virulent strain of racism going back hundreds of years, continues to threaten the lives of Jews in Europe and the United States.

 

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

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“As a topic of tremendous ongoing importance with roots that desperately need exploration, anti-Semitism deserves, and needs, a look into its global impact and perpetuation that makes a deeper dive than this documentary provides.” – Todd Gilchrist, TheWrap

“A terrifying, and sadly necessary, warning.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter

“Brutal, yet vital, the movie is must-see viewing in our current age of rising global hatred against not only Jews, but ethnic minorities everywhere.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail

“Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutation is timely and it is vital, and it is a documentary that not only a community needs, but all of us do.” – Stephanie Archer, Film Inquiry

Sorry We Missed You, Director Ken Loach

Ken Loach, the two-time Palme d’Or-winning, 83-year-old director trains his incisive lens on the human cost of our shopping habits and changing workforce. After losing their home in a financial crisis, Ricky and Abby trade the car she uses as a visiting nurse for a van, so Ricky can work as a delivery driver. The advantages of being self-employed come with the constant pressure of meeting impossible deadlines with no margin for error, sickness, or family emergency. Loach’s compassionate, hard-hitting drama will make you rethink your expectations the next time you enjoy the convenience of overnight delivery. Director Ken Loach (KES, THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY, I, DANIEL BLAKE) joins us for a conversation on the explosion of the “gig-economy” and the insidious impact its having on work schedules, worker safety, worker health and on the emotional toll it’s taking on raising a family.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: zeitgeistfilms.com/film/sorrywemissedyou

 

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“FIVE STARS! Ken Loach raises his game yet further with this gut-wrenching tale of a delivery worker driven to the brink… It’s fierce, open and angry, unironised and unadorned..This brilliant film will focus minds. ” – Peter Bradshaw, THE GUARDIAN

“Ken Loach has done it again. His new film is another intimate and powerful drama about what’s going on in people’s everyday lives—not just in England, but all over the world.”  – Owen Gleiberman, VARIETY

“At age 82, [Ken Loach is] doing some of his strongest work in Sorry We Missed You, a drama of such searing human empathy and quotidian heartbreak that its powerful climactic scenes actually impede your breathing… This is an expertly judged and profoundly humane movie…. You’d have to be made of stone not to be moved to your core by it.” – David Rooney, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons, Director Pi Ware

Director/Editor Pi Ware’s (“Solitude,” “The Act”) powerful new documentary “Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons,” takes a deep dive approach into the heated controversy surrounding Morgellons disease, a skin condition that most of the medical industry considers delusional. “Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons,” explores the controversy surrounding Morgellons—a disease where fibers grow from sufferers’ skin, but a disease that the medical industry considers, “all in the patient’s head”. The film brings to light the heated debate as to who is delusional—the patients who believe or the doctors who deny– and whether medical treatment for Morgellons should be antibiotics or anti-psychotics. The documentary follows subjects on both sides of the debate: a Texas nurse who suffers from the disease, and a skeptical dermatologist who asserts “there are no bad doctors”. The film investigates new research that claims the fibers are protein-based filaments created by the body, explores historical patterns of medical arrogance, and exposes the fatal flaws in the 2012 Morgellons study by the CDC. “Skin Deep: The Battle Over Morgellons” climaxes in a showdown at the Morgellons Conference in Austin, Texas, where the skeptical dermatologist presents his controversial opinions, and where bridges between doctors and patients will either be built… or burned.  Director Pi Ware stops by to talk about the embattled victims and advocates fighting for relief from a debilitating, life-altering disease.

 

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For news and updates go to: morgellonsmovie.org

 

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“A beautifully constructed, honest and earnest call-to-action about one of the most baffling and stigmatized illnesses of our time.” – ANDY ABRAHAMS WILSON, DIRECTOR OF UNDER OUR SKIN

“A superb documentary exploring the skin-crawling disease of Morgellons and the plight of its sufferers. A reminder that physicians need to be open-minded about emerging new diseases.” – KRIS NEWBY, AUTHOR OF BITTEN: THE SECRET HISTORY OF LYME DISEASE AND BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS

“This incredible documentary exposes the debilitating difficulties and barriers to effective treatment that Morgellons sufferers experience. The film dives deep into the denialism conventional medicine has towards emerging illnesses and how this attitude can have severe consequences when it comes to funding, needed research, patient care and treatment for these diseases. This is a must see for anyone looking for a better understanding of Morgellons.” – DR KELLY BAY, FUNCTIONAL HEALTH PRACTITIONER, NYC

The Woman Who Loves Giraffes, Director Alison Reid

In 1956, four years before Jane Goodall ventured into the world of chimpanzees and seven years before Dian Fossey left to work with mountain gorillas, 23-year-old biologist Anne Innis Dagg made an unprecedented solo journey to South Africa to study giraffes in the wild.  In THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES Anne (now 86) retraces her steps, and with letters and stunning, original 16mm film footage offers an intimate window into her life as a young woman, juxtaposed with a first hand look at the devastating reality that giraffes are facing today. Both the world’s first ‘giraffologist’, whose research findings ultimately became the foundation for many scientists following in her footsteps, and the species she loves have each experienced triumphs as well as setbacks. In THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES Anne takes us on her first expedition back to Africa to retrace where her trail-blazing journey began more than half a century ago. By retracing her original steps, and with letters and stunning, original 16mm film footage, Anne offers an intimate window into her life as a young woman, juxtaposed with a first hand look at the devastating reality that giraffes are facing today. Both the world’s first ‘giraffologist’, whose research findings ultimately became the foundation for many scientists following in her footsteps, and the species she loves have each experienced triumphs as well as nasty battle scars. THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES gives us a moving perspective on both. Director Alison Reid joins us for a conversation on meeting Anne Innis Dagg and learning how this gentle soul is more than a pioneer in understanding these magnificent creatures, but just as importantly an advocate for women and science.

About the filmmaker: Alison Reid (Director, Writer, Producer) is an award-winning director who began her career as a stunt coordinator and second unit director. After accumulating 300 credits, she formed Free Spirit Films to produce projects diverse in genre but similar in their exploration of the human spirit. Reid received the 2007 Crystal Award for Emerging Director from DGC/WIFT. Her independent feature, The Baby Formula (2009), sold internationally, won the Audience Award at the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, ‘Best LGBT Film’ at Nashville Film Festival and was nominated for the Golden Zenith at the Montreal World Film Festival. Her television directing credits include Saving HopeHeartland and Murdoch Mysteries.

 

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For news and updates go to: zeitgeistfilms.com/film/thewomanwholovesgiraffes

To see The Woman Who Loves Giraffes in Los Angeles go to: Laemmle.com

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“This warm documentary uses one woman’s singular passion to fuel a tale of zoological discovery, blatant sexism and environmental alarm.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, THE NEW YORK TIMES

“INSPIRING… A bright spot in the middle of this dark month, Alison Reid’s unabashedly sincere documentary offers gentle comfort even when it brushes up against tough subjects.” – Elizabeth Weitzman, THE WRAP

“Her research was groundbreaking, and the 16 millimeter color footage she shot at the time, amply displayed in the documentary, is breathtaking.” – Peter Rainer, THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

“Alison Reid’s loving documentary affectionately celebrates little-known giraffologist Dr. Anne Innis Dagg’s groundbreaking scientific work and generous contributions to women’s equality.” – Tomris Laffly, VARIETY

“An inspiring documentary that should be at the top of everyone’s list of must-see films.” – , THE ALLIANCE OF WOMEN FILM JOURNALISTS

After Parkland, Co-directors Emily Taguchi and Jake Lefferman

In the days after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018 that killed 17 people and launched a nationwide student movement, filmmakers Emily Taguchi and Jake Lefferman embedded with students and families whose lives were forever transformed. They include senior David Hogg, who recorded his class during the attack and became the face of the Never Again movement; freshman Brooke Harrison, who was in the first classroom under attack; Sam Zeif, a senior who was locked down in the same building, texting with his little brother and unsure if they would ever see each other again; Andrew Pollack, the father of 18- year-old Meadow, who was killed after being shot nine times; and the loved ones of 17-year-old Joaquin Oliver, including his parents Manuel and Patricia, girlfriend Victoria Gonzalez, and best friend Dillon McCooty. The filmmakers developed trusting relationships with these students and families, who opened their doors during some of the most difficult moments of their lives, and followed their private journeys as they rose to challenge the nation to end gun violence. Weaving together candid, in-depth interviews, vérité footage, and personal videos, the film chronicles moments both intimate and defining – from the quiet hours of grief and reflection, to those of political awakening, and onto milestones on the public stage – creating a moving portrait of one community’s crusade to turn tragedy into progress. Co-directors Emily Taguchi and Jake Lefferman join us to talk about developing the relationships with the students, parents and community that made their intimate, wrenching and hopeful film possible.

 

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For news and updates go to: afterparklandmovie.com

Nationwide Day of Conversation screenings on February 12 to commemorate the second anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

Over 100 cities to participate in one-night Demand Film screenings with community partners to turn tragedy into progress.

Find a screening near you: afterparklandmovie.com/screenings

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“The movie succeeds where it counts: showing the reverberations of violence long after most cameras left.” – New York Times

“’After Parkland’ is that gentle exchange of a movie – listening, being there – and sometimes that’s all an aftermath doc can be and should be.” –  LA Times

“The film records this experience in a moving and memorable way. After you’ve seen it, you know more about the meaning of this kind of horror than you did before, and that’s a vital thing.” Owen Gleiberman, Variety

What feels important in Parkland is less about pushing any kind of political agenda or viewpoint than about simply listening, and bearing witness.” – Entertainment Weekly

And Then We Danced, Levan Akin

AND THEN WE DANCED is a passionate tale of love and liberation set amidst the ultraconservative confines of modern Georgian society, AND THEN WE DANCED follows Merab, a devoted dancer who has been training for years with his partner Mary for a spot in the National Georgian Ensemble. The arrival of another male dancer, Irakli—gifted with perfect form and equipped with a rebellious streak—throws Merab off balance, sparking both an intense rivalry and romantic desire that may cause him to risk his future in dance as well as his relationships with Mary and his family. Director, writer and editor Levan Akin joins us to talk about is sensitive and moving account of finding love, no matter the cost and the way his film has opened a hopeful dialog in his beloved Georgia.

Director’s Statement: In Georgia there are three things that are upheld as the paragon of Georgian Tradition and National Identity: the Church, the traditional polyphonic singing, and the traditional national dance. The lead person I follow in the film actually shares the same name as me, his name is Levan and he is a dancer, I too used to dance when I was younger and I imagined being him in an alternate reality. I interviewed a lot of dancers and they all told me stories of how gender conservative and strict the Georgian Dance scene was. So I decided to set the story in this setting. The Georgian Dance would represent the “old” and the burgeoning love between two of the dancers would represent the new. With this film I find myself really going back to my roots as a filmmaker, working in an organic way, where the real lives of the people in the film and what’s going on in Georgia now affects the story. It is ever evolving. Telling the story of young LGBT+ people and their struggles on a smaller scale but also showing the history and situation of Georgia today on a larger scale. This film will not only be a very interesting look into a part of the world not so many people are familiar with but also a heartfelt movie about the importance of being free. – Levan Akin

 

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For news and updates go to: musicboxfilms.com/film/and-then-we-danced

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Cooked: Survival by Zip Code, Director Judith Helfand

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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St. Louis Superman, Director Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan

Bruce Franks Jr. is a 34-year-old battle rapper, Ferguson activist and state representative from St. Louis, Missouri. Known as Superman to his constituents, he is a political figure the likes of which you’ve never seen – full of contradictions and deep insights, who has overcome unspeakable loss to become one of the most exciting and unapologetic young leaders in the country. This short verité documentary follows Bruce at a critical juncture in his life, when he is forced to deal with the mental trauma he’s been carrying for the nearly 30 years since his 9-year-old brother was shot and killed in front of him, in order to find peace and truly fulfill his destiny as a leader for his community.  Co- director Smriti Mundhra  (Sami Khan) join us to talk about how a dynamic and charismatic man from a traumatized community took tragedy and turned into action.

About the filmmakers: Smriti Mundhras A SUITABLE GIRL  premiered at Tribeca in 2017 and won the Albert Maysles Award for Best New Documentary Director. KHOYASami Khan’s feature debut, was selected for the Tribeca Film Institute’s Tribeca All Access® fellowship.

 

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twitter.com/samikhanfilm

 

Awards Shortlists:

Cinema Eye Honors – Short Listed – Best Short

DOC NYC – Best Shorts Short List

WINNER AUDIENCE AWARD – BEST SHORT DOC  – 2019 HOT DOCS FILM FESTIVAL – 2019 AFI DOCS FILM FESTIVAL – 2019 TRAVERSE CITY FILM FESTIVAL

WINNER – SPECIAL JURY AWARD  – 2019 TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

WINNER – BEST SHORT DOC  – 2019 BIG SKY DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL

WINNER – BEST DOCUMENTARY – HEARTLAND FILM’S 2019 INDYSHORTS FILM FESTIVAL

“Thank you Mr. Mundhra. The film is powerful and simple.” – Lapacazo Sandoval, Los Angeles Sentinel

January 24 – Island of the Hungry Ghosts, Director Gabrielle Brady

ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS takes place off the coast of Indonesia, in the Australian territory of Christmas Island, inhabited by migratory crabs traveling in their millions from the jungle towards the ocean, in a movement that has been provoked by the full moon for hundreds of thousands of years. Poh Lin Lee is a “trauma therapist” who lives with her family in this seemingly idyllic paradise. Every day, she talks with the asylum seekers held indefinitely in a high-security detention centre hidden in the island’s core, attempting to support them in a situation that is as unbearable as its outcome is uncertain. As Poh Lin and her family explore the island’s beautiful yet threatening landscape, the local islanders carry out their “hungry ghost” rituals for the spirits of those who died on the island without a burial. They make offerings to appease the lost souls who are said to be wandering the jungles at night looking for home. ISLAND OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS is a hybrid documentary that moves between the natural migration and the chaotic and tragic migration of the humans, which is in constant metamorphoses by the unseen decision-making structures. Director Gabrielle Brady joins us to talk about her beautiful and quietly powerful tale of desperate people trapped in a place of pervasive uncertainty and a woman trying to help them cope.

 

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

** 2020 Spirit Award nominee for Best Documentary **

Tribeca Film FestivalAward for best documentary film

Mumbai International Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for best film

IDFAHuman rights award

Adelaide international Film Festival Winner best documentary film

 

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“ Island of the Hungry Ghosts is one of the year’s most impressively made documentaries, a film that’s as occasionally surreal as it is persistently moving. Island of the Hungry Ghosts is a true discovery.” – JOSHUA BRUNSTING, CRITERION CAST

“A documentary overflowing with empathy, poetry, and elemental power.”  – HUBERT VIGILLA, FLIXIST

“Hauntingly beautiful Island of the Hungry Ghosts combines multiple narratives…into one glorious whole… A mesmerizing work of visual wonder, the breathtaking images forming an evocative setting for a vital discussion of human rights… A stunning, visceral first feature, announcing the director as a major talent to watch”  – CHRISTOPHER LLEWELLYN REED, FILM FESTIVAL TODAY

“The best documentary award goes to a film that demonstrates extraordinary mastery of the full symphonic range of cinematic tools: cinematography, editing, score, sound design and, perhaps greatest of all, an exquisite use of metaphor. To a film that moved us deeply, impressed us immensely and made us feel we were witnessing nothing less than the emergence, fully formed, of a major new cinematic talent” – TRIBECA JURY

** Slamdance Film Festival – Bastards’ Road, Director Brian Morrison

BASTARDS’ ROAD tells the story of the many combat veterans, like Jon Hancock who are navigating the complicated transition back to civilian life. After years of struggling, Jon decided to take an epic journey across the country – on foot. Walking nearly 6,000 miles alone, Jon confronts the demons that had overtaken his life. Visiting his fellow 2/4 Marines – known as the The Magnificent Bastards – and families of their fallen along the way, Jon finds a mission greater than his own redemption. Veterans everywhere are struggling with PTSD. They are taking their own lives at an alarming rate – 50% higher than non-veterans. With remarkable honesty, insight and humor, Jon’s journey is uniquely positive. It’s about changing the ways one relates to traumatic memories. It’s about beginning the healing process. Director Brian Morrison joins us to talk about the raw emotions and the deep pain of men and woman who have done what their country asked them to do.

 

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For news and updates go to: bastardsroad.com

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Competition Documentary Feature Film
Premiere: Sunday, January 26th at 1pm in the Ballroom Screening Room
Second Screening: Thursday, January 30th at 6pm in the Gallery Screening Room

 

Slamdance Film Festival Headquarters
Treasure Mountain Inn
255 Main St.
Park City, UT

 

Veteran Suicide Statistics

More than 60,000 Veterans died by suicide from 2008-2017.
The suicide rate for Veterans is 50% higher than it is for non-veterans.
The suicide rate among Veterans aged 18-34 increased 76% from 2005-2017.

DIRECTOR’S STATEMENT – Why would somebody walk that far, for so long? That’s what I asked myself after seeing a news story on TV about somebody I went to high school with. I didn’t know him back then, but we shared many mutual friends. When I first contacted Jon on his walk I knew nothing about what he’d been through. The military was a foreign world to me. None of my family or friends had served. All I had to go on was that he was a Marine and had PTSD. But I was immediately drawn to his story and we quickly took steps to organize a trip for me to follow him for a few days. Over the course of the last 8 months of Jon’s walk, I was able to make a handful of trips to capture pieces of his journey. We became great friends. Most days it was just him and I, but I was lucky enough to meet many guys Jon served with, as well as several Gold Star families of their fallen. It was eye-opening to see Jon’s transformation in their presence. He smiled brighter, laughed harder and cried less. It’s like they kept the best versions of themselves for each other. I learned about the tremendous weight they carry day after day, the scars of war that will never heal, the lost brothers whose ultimate sacrifices they never stop thinking about. But I also learned about strength and selflessness that goes way beyond what most of us as civilians can comprehend. Together, they reminded each other how important it is that they are still here. – Brian Morrison

** Slamdance Film Festival – Ask No Questions, Director Jason Loftus

In ASK NO QUESTIONS Chinese State TV blames his faith for a fiery public suicide, Chen Ruichang is detained in a Clockwork Orange-style brainwashing facility and forced to accept the government’s account. But Chen, a former insider of the state TV himself, believes it was all a government plot. A CNN reporter smuggled out footage of the event that day, but was then muzzled by Beijing. Now, her eyewitness testimony helps untangle an intricate conspiracy, as Chinese authorities begin pressuring the filmmaker’s family and business associates. The terrifying danger of a government nefariously crafting the narrative & imprisoning its citizens who practice Falun Gong in China in the gripping feature documentary ASK NO QUESTIONS from filmmakers Jason Loftus (The Bleeding Edge, Human Harvest) and Eric Pedicelli (Black Code, Tin City Voices), which world premieres on Saturday, January 25th. In the vein of a journalistic true crime documentary, painting the scope of the crime, and the depths of the investigation. The story leads into allegations of criminal conduct at a governmental scale. Evidence is credibly presented, shocking, and thorough. Director Jason Loftus stops by for a conversation on the terrifying reach of a totalitarian state power structure and the impact it can have on those who dare challenge it.

 

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For news and updates go to: asknoquestionsfilm.com

Social Media
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Slamdance Competition Documentary Feature Film
Premiere: Saturday, January 25th at 10:30m in the Gallery Screening Room
Second Screening: Wednesday, January 29th at 6pm in the Ballroom Screening Room

 

Slamdance Film Festival Headquarters
Treasure Mountain Inn
255 Main St.
Park City, UT

 

January 17 – Slamdance Film Festival, Co-founder and President Peter Baxter

It all began when a group of cheerful, subversive filmmakers weren’t accepted into the Sundance Film Festival. Unwilling to take “no” for an answer, they instead started their own event – Slamdance: Anarchy in Utah. 26 years later, Slamdance has become a year-round organization fostering the development of unique and innovative filmmakers. The organization now consists of the Film Festival, Screenplay Competition and Slamdance Studios. It has also created Slamdance On The Road, a traveling theatrical showcase that brings popular Slamdance films to audiences that otherwise would not have the opportunity to see them. Dan Mirvish, Jon Fitzgerald, Shane Kuhn and Peter Baxter are the founding forefathers who, along with co-conspirator Paul Rachman, fought for truly independent filmmakers by giving them a voice in 1995 at the very first Slamdance Film Festival. Since then, the festival takes place every January in the breathtakingly stunning, snow-capped mountains of Park City, Utah at the exact same time as the Sundance Film Festival, to provide a more authentic representation of independent filmmaking. Up-and-coming writers, directors and producers, alongside seasoned veterans and film lovers, converge for the weeklong celebration of independent cinema, realizing that Slamdance is a great place to find those next, great, visionary films. Slamdance lives and bleeds by its mantra By Filmmakers For Filmmakers. No other film festival in the world is entirely run and organized by the creative force that can only be found in filmmakers. Slamdance adamantly supports self-governance amongst independents, and exists to deliver what filmmakers go to festivals for – a chance to show their work and a platform to launch their careers. The festival has earned a solid reputation for premiering films by first-time writers and directors working within the creative confines of limited budgets. Co-founder and President Peter Baxter joins us to talk about this year’s Slamdance, the groundbreaking films and the innovative new distribution and digital initiatives being launched by Slamdance.

 

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For news and updates go to: slamdance.com
Check out the film schedule at slamdance 2020 schedule

 

Slamdance Film Festival – January 24-30 at the Treasure Mountain Hotel in Park City, Utah

 

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January 10 – Two films by Director Rosine Mfetgo Mbakam

Chez Jolie Coiffure

In Rosine Mbakam’s loving and intimate documentary we get to know shop owner, businesswoman Sabine. Recruited by a Lebanese maid agency, Sabine leaves Cameroon and embarks for Lebanon. After many years of servitude, she escapes to Belgium, but her arrival there is complicated by the fact that she enters illegally, by way of Greece and Syria. She settles in Matonge, the African quarter, where she becomes the manager of the beauty salon Chez Jolie Coiffure. Sabine attaches a hair weave and gets to work. Her hands move quickly and precisely, as she tightly braids the hair in front of the sign in her salon promising African, European, and American-style coiffure. Sabine is a larger than-life personality crammed into a tiny, glassed-in shop in the largely immigrant Brussels district of Matonge. Here, she and her employees fit extensions and glue on lashes while watching soaps, dishing romantic advice, sharing rumors about government programs to legalize migrants, and talking about people back home in West Africa. Patrons, many of them undocumented immigrants, are not only be made to feel beautiful but can also escape the daily difficulties and harsh realities of their lives.

For news, screenings and updates go to: icarusfilms.com/if-chez

“Critic’s Pick! Rosine Mbakam makes a remarkable debut; demonstrates a mastery of perspective, a rare ability to include the camera in community.” —The New York Times

“Intense vulnerability makes the film emotionally gripping; the contrast between a public storefront and intimate confessions makes it engrossing… Unequivocally extracts a powerful sense of empathy—and urgency.” —Vox Magazine

“Immersive, provacative; a warm, appealing portrait. Mbakam’s portrait is knit as tightly as the braids Sabine weaves.” —Film International

“A must-see! Highly revealing, an atypical and timely portrait of the intersection between the immigrant experience and female identity.” —IndieWire

“An original filmmaker of exquisite sensibility; one of the foremost filmmakers of creative nonfiction working right now.” —The New Yorker

Chez Jolie Coiffure and The Two Faces of a Bamileke Woman are also available at ovid.tv

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The Two Faces of a Bamileke Woman

Filmmaker Rosine Mbakam left Cameroon at 27 to live in Belgium. Seven years later—having studied film and married a European—she returns to make what she calls a journey into darkness—to the village of her birth, and later to the capital city of Yaoundé, where her mother now lives most of the year. In the village of Tonga, her mother, Mâ Brêh, shares memories of the horrors of the war against French colonizers, and of daily life for a Cameroonian woman in an arranged marriage—a fate Rosine herself barely escaped, leaving the family of an angry ex-fiance behind. As she spends more time with her mother and the women around her, Rosine reveals the strength of their solidarity and their ability to face adversity.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: icarusfilms.com/if-bamil

“Critic’s Pick! Mbakam demonstrates a mastery of perspective, a rare ability to include the camera in community.” —Teo Bugbee, The New York Times

“Wrought with bliss and wonder; an exciting contribution to the canon of contemporary African cinema.” —Alexandra M. Thomas, Yale University, in the journal H-Black Europe

“An honest, captivating documentary essay.” —Jagoda Murczyńska, AfryKamera

“Touching; Mbakam is a cinematic artist… Reveals much about gender and family relations in postcolonial Africa.” —Carmela Garritano, Texas A&M University, in the journal African Studies Review

“Extraordinary in substance and style. An original filmmaker of exquisite sensibility; one of the foremost filmmakers of creative nonfiction working right now.” —Richard Brody, The New Yorker

December 20 – The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao, Director Karim Aïnouz

Set in a brilliantly recreated 1950s Rio de Janeiro, The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao revolves around two inseparable sisters, 18 and 20 years old, living restricted lives with their conservative parents. However, each nourishes a passionate dream: Eurídice of becoming a renowned pianist; Guida of finding true love. In a shocking turn of events, they are separated and forced to live apart. Karim Aïnouz’s first film, MADAME SATÃ, a Jean Genet-inspired story of 1930’s Rio’s drag demi-monde, premiered at Film Forum in 2003. INVISIBLE LIFE shares with it this director’s commitment to immersing himself in the emotional lives of his characters, visualized through rich, inventive, and lush imagery. Based on Martha Batalha’s popular novel The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão, the film won the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. INVISIBLE LIFE is nominated for Best International Film at the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards and is Brazil’s official submission to the 2020 Academy Awards® for Best International Film. Director and co-screenwriter joins us to talk about his razor-sharp, wrenching story of patriarchy, fierce determination and love in a time and place where gender mattered more than family.

 

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About the filmmaker: Karim Aïnouz was born in Fortaleza, Brazil in 1966. He studied architecture in Brasilia and film at New York University. He was assistant director to Todd Haynes, worked on over 20 films as an editor and has been directing his own films since 1992. In 2014 his film Praia do Futuro screened in the Berlinale Competition, and he was one of the directors of Cathedrals of Culture (also 2014). Selected filmography: Madame Satã (2002), Love for Sale (2006), The Silver Cliff (2011), Futuro Beach (2014), Central Airport THF (2017), The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão (2019).

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**OFFICIAL BRAZILIAN OSCAR® ENTRY FOR BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE**
**WINNER – UN CERTAIN REGARD – CANNES FILM FESTIVAL 2019**

“RAVISHING. A waking dream, saturated in sound, music and color to match its depth of feeling. Aïnouz has made both a testament to the resilience of women in a society stacked against them…as well as a stirring celebration of the families we create when the ones we’re born into fall away.” – Guy Lodge, Variety

“GORGEOUS. A haunting drama that quietly celebrates the resilience of women… by turns seductive and sorrowful, tender and raw.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“This is an absolutely gorgeous film that starts off as a sort of Rio fairytale and then turns into something a little more realistic with its feet on the ground.” – Amy Nicholson, FilmWeek

“It’s a drama of resilient women, thoughtless men and crushingly unrealized dreams, told with supple grace, deep feeling and an empathy that extends in every direction.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

December 27 – Dawson City: Frozen Time, Director Bill Morrison

A hallucinatory cinematic fever dream, Dawson City: Frozen Time tells the bizarre true story of some 533 silent film reels, dating from the 1910s and 20s, that accumulated at the end of a film distribution line in northwestern Canada and which were miraculously discovered some 50 years later, in 1978, buried in a sub-arctic swimming pool, deep in the Yukon permafrost. Filmmaker Bill Morrison (Decasia, The Miners’ Hymns, The Great Flood) deftly combines excerpts from this remarkable collection with historical footage, photographs, and original interviews, to explore the complicated history of Dawson City, a Canadian Gold Rush town founded across the river from a First Nation hunting camp, and then traces how the development of that town both reflected and influenced the evolution of modern Cinema. Combined with a powerful, evocative score by Alex Somers ( Captain Fantastic; Hale County This Morning, This Evening; Honey Boy), orchestrated and arranged by Ricardo Romaneiro, Dawson City: Frozen Time is a triumphant work of art that spins the life cycle of a singular film collection into a breath-taking history of the 20th century. Director, writer and editor Bill Morrison joins us to talk about his amazing re-creation of a time and place that existed in the parallel universes of a nascent film industry and crushing avarice of a gold rush that still resonates today.

About the filmmaker: Bill Morrison has premiered films at the New York, Rotterdam, Sundance, and Venice film festivals, and multi-media work at major performance venues around the globe such as BAM, the Barbican, Carnegie, and Walt Disney Concert Hall. Morrison’s films typically source rare archival footage in which long-forgotten, and sometimes deteriorated, imagery is reframed as part of a collective mythology. His work has been recognized with the Alpert Award, Creative Capital, the Foundation for Contemporary Art, a Guggenheim fellowship, and a mid-career retrospective at MoMA. His found footage opus Decasia (2002) was the first film of the 21st century to be selected to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. The Great Flood (2013) was awarded the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award of 2014 for historical scholarship. Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016) won a Critics’ Choice Award for the most innovative documentary of the year, and was named the best documentary of 2017 by the Boston Society of Film Critics.

 

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“an instantaneously recognizable masterpiece” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times

“Bill Morrison, whose extraordinary documentary Decasia turned decomposing film stock into the stuff of avante-garde reverie, returns with another staggering journey into the past.” – J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader

“The thrilling documentary “Dawson City: Frozen Time” is indescribable not because it’s ambiguous (it’s totally straightforward) but because it does so many things so beautifully it is hard to know where to begin.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“The rise and fall of Dawson City, intimately tied to the vagaries of climate and man’s greed, is heartbreakingly rendered.” – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

** Midnight Family, Director Luke Lorentzen

** Update – MIDNIGHT FAMILY is a shortlisted nominee for the 2020 ACADEMY AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY

MIDNIGHT FAMILY has won more than 25 national and international awards, played in 135 film festivals around the world. MIDNIGHT FAMILY is set in Mexico City, where the government operates fewer than 45 emergency ambulances for a population of 9 million. This has spawned an underground industry of for-profit ambulances often run by people with little or no training or certification. An exception in this ethically fraught, cutthroat industry, the Ochoa family struggles to keep their financial needs from jeopardizing the people in their care. When a crackdown by corrupt police pushes the family into greater hardship, they face increasing moral dilemmas even as they continue providing essential emergency medical services. MIDNIGHT FAMILY is an enthralling. harrowing, and intimate look at a family business of dedicated professionals who often fo more than simple transport the helping the people who end up in their ambulance. Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor Luke Lorentzen joins us to talk about his mesmerizing film and the challenges of capturing all the different facets of the Ochoa family.

About the filmmaker: Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor Luke Lorentzen is a graduate of Stanford University’s department of Art and Art History. His first film, Santa Cruz del Islote (2014) – a short documentary about a small and densely populated fishing community in Colombia – won awards at over ten international film festivals including the San Francisco International, Full Frame Documentary, Camden International, and Chicago International. Midnight Family (2019) – Luke’s first feature documentary out of school – tells the story of a family-run ambulance business in Mexico City. Midnight Family has played at over 130 film festivals around the world and has won over 25 awards including a Special Jury Award for Cinematography at the Sundance Film Festival and the Grand Jury Award at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Midnight Family will be released theatrically around the world in December of 2019. Luke is also a director and producer on the Netflix documentary series, Last Chance U. His work explores elements of everyday life, often through rigorous formal means, questioning and experimenting with the ways in which non-fiction stories are told. Originally from Connecticut, Luke currently lives in San Francisco.

 

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

Midnight Family opening at the Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles on Friday Decemebr 13 with a Q&A with director Luke Lorentzen at the 7:50 PM screening on Friday night

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AWARDS:
Special Jury Award for Cinematography, U.S. Documentary, Sundance Film Festival
IDA Documentary Awards, Winner, Best Editing
IDA Documentary Awards, Nominee, Best Feature
IDA Documentary Awards, Nominee, Best Cinematography
Cinema Eye Honors, Best Film Nominee
Cinema Eye Honors, Best Cinematography Nominee
Cinema Eye Honors, Best Production Nominee
Cinema Eye Honors, Unforgettables Award, Juan Ochoa, Nominee
Golden Frog for Best Documentary, EnergaCAMERIMAGE
Best Documentary, Films from the South, Oslo
Maysles Brothers Award, Special Jury Mention, Denver Film Festival
Best Film, WatchDocs IFF, Warsaw
FIPRESCI Rellumes Award for Best Director, Gijón Film Festival

 

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“10 Best Movies of Sundance 2019″

“Fantastically shot by the director Luke Lorentzen, the documentary develops an urgency that suits the life-or-death stakes onscreen. By turns terrifying and exhilarating, “Midnight Family” unfolds with such velocity that it may take a while for your ethical doubts to catch up to what’s happening. When they do, they leave you gasping.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“Arguably the most exhilarating documentary to come out of Sundance this year, Midnight Family follows the Ochoa family—the gruff but compassionate Fer and his two underage sons, Juan and Josué—at intensely close range on these Sisyphean missions of mercy.” – Museum of Modern Art and Film Society of Lincoln Center

“A deft mix of big-picture doc-making and intimate moments… not to mention a wild — and remarkably eye-opening — ride.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone

“An intimate verite documentary… the Ochoas emerge as fascinating embodiments of a country working overtime to correct its shortcomings and keep the lights on. This bracing U.S. competition documentary is poised to provide a personal window into the fast-paced mayhem of Mexico after dark.” – Eric Kohn, Indiewire

December 6 – Knives and Skin, Director Jennifer Reeder

What happened to Carolyn Harper? Part suburban nightmare, part neon-soaked teenage fever dream, this tantalizing mystery traces the wave of fear and distrust that spreads across a small Midwestern town in the wake of a high school girl’s mysterious disappearance. As the loneliness and darkness lurking beneath the veneer of everyday life gradually comes to light, a collective awakening seems to overcome the town’s teenage girls—gathering in force until it can no longer be contained. Unfolding in a hallucinatory haze of lushly surreal images, Knives and Skin is a one-of-a-kind coming-of-age noir that haunts like a half-remembered dream. Director / writer Jennifer Reeder joins us for a lively conversation on her heady melange of a film that bends multiple genres to its razor sharp will.

Director’s Statement: I tell stories about unruly women and the landscapes they transform. This is a story by a woman that proposes girlhood as a place of transcendence and transgression. I am committed to this voice and to producing unexpected narratives. I write scripts from actual experience and observation and my films are specific in mood and perspective. I am influenced by Ohio, where I grew up—all that sky and flatness. And even more so by the Midwestern people and their kind of everyday destructiveness and determination to cope. This awkward emotionality is evident in my films as scenes unfold like sticky flypaper and characters make one small mistake after another. – Jennifer Reeder

 

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For news and updates go to: chicagofilmproject.com/knives-and-skin

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“It may be the most anarchic and refreshing take on the American teen’s existential malaise since Heathers.” – Demetrios Matheou, Screen International

“An effervescent suburban noir rich with tragedy, rough around the edges, but sharp like the dagger when it counts.” – Matt Donato, Dread Central

“The film’s approach to narrative structure is both messy and strangely confident and alluring, poising Knives and Skin as a bold and complicated cross-genre anomaly, much like the women Reeder lovingly depicts.” – Chloe Leeson, Screen Queens

“At times fraught with anxiety, haunting in quiet horror, blackly comedic, and aching with with sorrow and love, Knives and Skin is many things and also defies easy categorization, as it puts forth a perspective that is multiple and complicated.” – Shelagh Rowan-Legg, ScreenAnarchy