The DREAM HORSE tells the inspiring true story of Dream Alliance, an unlikely race horse bred by small town Welsh bartender, Jan Vokes (Academy Award® nominee Toni Collette). With very little money and no experience, Jan convinces her neighbors to chip in their meager earnings to help raise Dream Alliance in the hopes he can compete with the racing elites. The group’s investment pays off as Dream rises through the ranks with grit and determination and goes on to race in the Welsh Grand National showing the heart of a true champion. Director Euros Lyn joins us for a conversation on the attraction that horses and horse racing’s has for filmmakers and film lovers, the superb cast of outstanding performances led by Toni Collette and Damian Lewis and the importance of establishing an upbeat and winning vibes that imbues every frame of DREAM HORSE.
About the filmmaker – Euros Lyn studied drama at Manchester University and worked as an assistant director before directing the multi-BAFTA winning rebooted Doctor Who, including the Hugo award winning The Girl In The Fireplace. He has won BAFTA Cymru Best Director several times, most recently for Kiri with Sarah Lancashire. Euros directed Fifteen Million Merits, part of the Black Mirror anthology for C4 which won an International Emmy for Best Drama Series. He directed three episodes of the opening season of Broadchurch, two seasons of Last Tango in Halifax, the pilot episode of Happy Valley and the single drama Damilola, Our Loved Boy, all four shows winning BAFTA awards. In 2015 he was the recipient of Bafta Cymru’s Sian Phillips award. The Library Suicides, a Welsh language thriller for BFI/ Film Cymru Wales/S4C/BBC Films/ Soda Pictures was released in theatres in August 2016. He directed an episode of His Dark Materials for BBC/HBO and Dream Horse, a feature film starring Toni Collette, Damian Lewis and Owen Teale for Film4/Warner Bros/Bleecker Street premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and is slated for theatrical release in 2021. He is currently working on an adaptation of Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper for Netflix/SeeSaw. For more go to: euroslyn.com
“Dream Horse’s careful navigation of the predictable is undoubtedly helped by its top-drawer cast and sparky dialogue, but it also does well at building tension throughout key race scenes.” – Tori Brazier, One Room With A View
“Like horseracing, filmmaking is a high-risk gamblers’ game, but the team behind Dream Horse, the resulting dramatization of the Vokes’ story, have surely bred a winner with this endearing, determinedly crowd-pleasing adaptation.” – Leslie Felperin, Hollywood Reporter
After a startling opening image of extreme tension, first-time solo director Robert Machoian’s stark, slow-burn drama never quite goes where you expect. An evocative and atmospheric transmission from wintry Utah, THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS is a compact, economical portrait of a husband and father trying to keep it together while seething with rage during a trial separation from his wife. An interior drama set mostly outside, on the vast, lonely street where David (a knockout Clayne Crawford) stays with his ailing father just a few doors up from his wife Niki (Sepideh Moafi) and their four kids, Machoian’s film compassionately depicts a family in crisis, while moving at the ominous pace of a thriller. A complex, brooding soundscape from Peter Albrechtsen that seems to emanate directly from the head of its disturbed protagonist, and a claustrophobic aspect ratio contribute to the powerful emotional register of this impressive new work of American independent cinema. Director and writer Robert Machoian joins us for a conversation on the layered storylines, pulling together a superb cast and the importance of calibrating the appropriate atmospherics, such as sound and cinematography, to create a compelling film that punches way above it’s weight class.
About the filmmaker – Robert Machoian – Director & Writer. Born in the small town of King City California, and raised up in the DIY Punk culture, Robert has been taking photographs his whole life and making films for well over a decade. His films have premiered at the Sundance, SXSW, LA, and Tribeca Film Festivals in the States and have screened at festivals around the world. His second feature, God Bless the Child, made with his directing partner Robert Ojeda-Beck, received a rave review in The New York Times and won numerous awards, including best film at CPH:DOX, even though it was a narrative hybrid. Robert and Rodrigo were then nominated for a Cinema Eye Honors Heterdox and Indie Spirit Filmmaker to Watch Awards. Focusing on people living everyday lives whose stories often go untold, they bring their unique vision to weave deeply personal stories that absorb their audiences. Robert has won awards for his cinematography and his photographs have appeared in magazines at Filmmaker Magazine, Indiewire, and Bright Ideas. His work comes from the intimate experiences of his life and the lives of those around him. In 2019 Robert had his fourth short film go to the Sundance Film Festival, which won the Jury Prize for Directing. He is currently working on his first solo feature film. For more: robertmachoian.com
About the filmmaker – Clayne Crawford Producer and Lead Actor is an Alabama native that made his jump to Los Angeles in 1997 and immediately began work in numerous theatre productions. It wasn’t long before his talents were recognized on the big screen with major roles in A Walk to Remember, Swimfan, and A Love Song for Bobby Long. Clayne continued to build his fan base with eclectic roles on hit TV shows such as 24, The Glades, All Signs of Death, and Rectify. His most recent success was the lead role of Martin Riggs in the TV series Lethal Weapon.For more: claynecrawford.online
“A rural counterpart to Marriage Story … driven by a viscerally raw performance from Clayne Crawford.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
“Crawford’s immaculate performance cements The Killing of Two Lovers as required viewing.” – The Playlist
“The Killing of Two Lovers is flawless in so many ways; the poignant acting, the brilliant sound design, with a narrative so crisp and succinct that not a single moment is wasted.” – Natasha Alvar, Cultured Vultures
“It can best be defined as a cautionary tale dedicated to the fragility of the family structure in the United States, a showcase of a radically talented filmmaker and a dedication to the painful reality of love.” – Jonathan Christian, The Playlist
“Arresting… a poignant, unsentimental depiction of a common circumstance, lent intriguing frisson by the rigor of Machoian’s overall aesthetic.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
Where his prior film, the acclaimed epic AQUARELA, was a reminder of the fragility of human tenure on earth, in GUNDA, master filmmaker Viktor Kossakovsky reminds us that we share our planet with billions of other animals. Through encounters with a mother sow (the eponymous Gunda), two ingenious cows, and a scene-stealing, one-legged chicken, Kossakovsky movingly recalibrates our moral universe, reminding us of the inherent value of life and the mystery of all animal consciousness, including our own. Experiential cinema in its purest form, GUNDA chronicles the unfiltered lives of a mother pig, a flock of chickens, and a herd of cows with masterful intimacy. Using stark, transcendent black and white cinematography and the farm’s ambient soundtrack, Master director Victor Kossakowsky invites the audience to slow down and experience life as his subjects do, taking in their world with a magical patience and an other worldly perspective. GUNDA asks us to meditate on the mystery of animal consciousness, and reckon with the role humanity plays in it.
“GUNDA is a mesmerizing perspective on sentience within animal species, normally – and perhaps purposely – hidden from our view. Displays of pride and reverence, amusement and bliss at a pig’s inquisitive young; her panic, despair and utter defeat in the face of cruel trickery, are validations of just how similarly all species react and cope with events in our respective lives. Victor Kossakovsky has crafted a visceral meditation on existence that transcends the normal barriers that separate species. It is a film of profound importance and artistry.” – Executive producer Joaquin Phoenix
Director’s Statement – Growing up I was very much a city kid, but at the age of four I spent a few months in a village in the countryside, where I met my best friend Vasya. He was much younger than me – just a few weeks old when we met – but over time he became my dearest friend and the times we spent together are some of the most cherished memories from my childhood. One day, when we were still young, Vasya was killed and served as pork cutlets for a New Year’s Eve dinner. I was devastated and immediately became (probably) the first vegetarian kid in the Soviet Union. As a consequence, since I became a filmmaker I have always wanted to make a film about the creatures with whom we share the earth, a film about animals as living, feeling beings in their own right. I wanted to make a film without patronizing or humanizing them, without any sentimentality, and without vegan propaganda. However, as the film I had in mind is not about dolphins, elephants, pandas or other cute animals we love to love, it was impossible to finance. I tried for almost three decades until I finally met Norwegian producer Anita Rehoff Larsen from Sant & Usant who took the risk on making it. We were unbelievably lucky to meet Gunda in the Norwegian countryside on the very first day of our research trip. Gunda is on the screen for over half of the runtime of the final film and is an extraordinarily powerful character – you do not need an interpreter to understand her emotions and experiences. As such I decided to make this film without any captions, voice-over, or music, you just need to watch it and allow yourself to feel. For me, the essence of cinema is showing, not telling. I do not make films if I want to tell an audience something I have no interest in prescribing an opinion. I make films if there is something I want people to see and to allow them to find their own conclusion. Documentary cinema is a great tool to show the realities of the world, to show things that we do not see by ourselves, that we do not want to see, or that we have collectively agreed that we do not see, and so we allow ourselves not to think about. With GUNDA I want people to see these animals as sentient beings and to encourage them to think about the possibility of their consciousness and selfhood. With that I feel that GUNDA is the most personal and important film I have made as a filmmaker and as a human being. – Victor Kossakovsky
NOMINEE – Best Feature – IDA Documentary Awards 2021
FEATURES SHORTLIST – DOC NYC 2020
TOP 10 FILM OF THE YEAR – The New York Times
“GUNDA is pure cinema. This is a film to take a bath in – it’s stripped to its essential elements, without any interference. It’s what we should all aspire to as filmmakers and audiences – pictures and sound put together to tell a powerful and profound story without rush. It’s jaw dropping images and sound put together with the best ensemble cast and you have something more like a potion than a movie.” – Paul Thomas Anderson
98% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Sublimely beautiful and profoundly moving, it offers you the opportunity to look – at animals, yes, but also at qualities that are often subordinated in narratively driven movies, at textures, shapes and light.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times
“”Gunda” may be a meditational slow-burn, but as it unfurls its immersive audiovisual tapestry it hovers between non-fiction observation and lyrical insight, and to that end feels like an advancement of the nature documentary form.” – Eric Kohn, indieWire
“It is hard to fully articulate how, but Gunda is as much a damning meditation on the human condition as it is a glowing, thought-provoking portrayal of a mother’s love for her children, a sow’s love for her piglets.” – Matthew Anderson, CineVue
As the world searches for a cure to a disastrous virus, a scientist (Joel Fry) and park scout (Ellora Torchia) venture deep in the forest for a routine equipment run. Through the night, their journey becomes a terrifying voyage through the heart of darkness, the forest coming to life around them as nature becomes a force of evil, Director, writer and editor Ben Wheatley (Down Terrace, Kill List, Fields of England) joins us for a conversation on his endlessly compelling pandemic folk tale that is begins with a walk in the woods that drops us into subversively horrifying landscape of screeching trees and bone-crushing vibrations. Golden Globe nominee composer Clint Mansell (The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream, Moon) provides a stunningly propulsive soundtrack to the film.
“It’s damn terrifying, trippy, thoughtfully imaginative in sound design and visual tricks to convey communicating with nature, and packs a savage kick of relatively insane individuals and body horror” – Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth
“The biggest success, however, is the balance of psychedelic mysticism and heady science that are melded with toe-curling scenes of gore and suspense.” – Norman Gidney, Film Threat
“Wheatley is firing on all cylinders with his stripped-down approach to massive topics. An assault on the senses that’s bigger than any blockbuster.” – Kyle Anderson, Nerdist
“In the Earth reminds us that there’s so much more still to fear in the invisible darkness of the natural world — things that our little animal brains can barely grok in all of its terrible splendor.” – Nick Johnston, Vanyaland
“Wheatley and his collaborators have produced something that some of us thought would be impossible: an outrageously entertaining film that feels utterly rooted in the bleak era in which it was made.” – Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph (UK)
“This is the work of someone who’s always been more in his element when making something out of nothing, and that energy is especially well-served to a story about the fundamental human impulse to do the same.” – David Ehrlich, indieWire
Director Benjamin Ree’s latest documentary, THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF,tracks the journey of young Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova after relocating from Berlin to Oslo to launch her career as a painter. In April of 2015, her two most valuable, large-format paintings are stolen – with care – in broad daylight from the window fronts of Galleri Nobel in Oslo’s city center. Desperate for answers about the theft of her paintings, Barbora is presented with an unusual opportunity to reach out to one of the men involved in the heist – Norwegian career criminal, Karl-‘Bertil’ Nordland. Ree begins to document the story after Barbora unbelievably invites her thief to sit for a portrait, capturing the unlikely relationship that ensues as the equally damaged duo find common ground and form an inseparable bond through their mutual affinity for art. Over three years, THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF follows the incredible story of the artist looking for her stolen paintings, while at the same time turning the thief into art. Director Benjamin Ree (Magnus) joins us for a lively conversation about gaining the confidence of these two very complex people and why it was important for him to craft a story where Barbara and Karl resilience and humanity shone through.
2020 Sundance Film Festival: Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Creative Storytelling
Director’s statement – “From the moment I began filming I wanted to explore the complex friendship between the painter and the thief. Two questions were the driving motor: What do we humans do to be seen and appreciated, and why do we help others? For me, filmmaking is about asking intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging questions through observing human behavior. I hope I have managed to raise some intriguing questions with this film, questions you will think about long after the end credits. I have also tried to push the cinema verite form onto a new path, with several perspectives jumping back and forth in time, revealing new layers of the friendship throughout the whole film. I have worked hard to find a cinematic form to suit the content for each scene, that reflects the inner state of the characters.” – Benjamin Ree
About the filmmaker – Benjamin Ree is a Norwegian documentary filmmaker. In the beginning of his career he worked for BBC and Reuters. Today he makes award winning short and feature documentary films. Ree’s first feature documentary is Magnus, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and was sold to 64 countries. The film is a coming of age story of a modern genius, Magnus Carlsen, who is the world’s best chess player. The film won many awards at festivals around the world. Ree’s second feature is The Painter and the Thief, premiered at World Documentary Competition at Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and won a Special Jury Award for Creative Storytelling. Benjamin Ree works for the production company and broadcaster VGTV, which co-produced Magnus and The Painter and the Thief. For more on the filmmaker go to benjaminree.com
“Benjamin Ree’s extraordinary documentary feels like a movie – there’s a heist, villains who are not what they seem, scenes of striking intimacy and some fabulous twists.” – Ed Potton, Observer (UK)
“It ends up being about friendship, addiction, and the power of art — but also the cost of art. Throughout it all, the spine of this movie is the rich, layered, and complicated friendship between these two people.” Angie Han, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)
“[T]here are moments so intimate and unguarded that you may briefly dissociate and question what you’re watching – a documentary, or its carefully scripted and acted narrative counterpart.” – Justin Chang,
“So compelling is “The Painter and the Thief” – and ultimately so powerfully moving in its faith in human resilience – that you may not notice the illuminating ways in which Ree plays with form and viewpoint.” – Ty Burr, Boston Globe
“A story of deeply human connection between two souls that actually see each other, and the healing power wrapped up in that sense of visibility.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
STRAY explores what it means to live as a being without status or security, following three strays as they embark on inconspicuous journeys through Turkish society. Zeytin, fiercely independent, embarks on adventures through the city at night; Nazar, nurturing and protective, easily befriends the humans around her; while Kartal, a shy puppy living on the outskirts of a construction site, finds companions in the security guards who care for her. The strays’ disparate lives intersect when they each form intimate bonds with a group of young Syrians with whom they share the streets. Director Elizabeth Lo joins us to talk about her remarkable debut documentary film, meeting Zeytin and Nazar and how she navigated the streets and the people of Istanbul to present an illuminating observation of human civilization through the unfamiliar gaze of dogs and a sensory voyage into new ways of seeing.
Director’s Statement – The impetus for STRAY is personal. When my childhood dog died, I felt a quiet need to suppress my grief at his passing. I was shocked that something as personal as how my heart responds to the death of a loved one could be shaped by an external politics that defined him or “it” as “valueless.” As my grief evolved, I also saw how our moral conceptions of who or how much one matters can be in constant flux. This transformative moment is what propels STRAY’s exploration into value, hierarchy, and sentience. In 2017, I traveled to Turkey, a country whose history and relationship with strays is unique in the world. Turkish authorities have tried to annihilate stray dogs since 1909, leading to mass killings of Istanbul’s street dogs for the last century. But widespread protests against these killings transformed Turkey into one of the only countries where it is now illegal to euthanize or hold captive any stray dog. Every free-roaming dog today is an emblem of resistance — living manifestations of compassion in the face of intolerance. I first met Zeytin, our canine protagonist, as she hurried past me in a busy underground tunnel in Istanbul. Intrigued by her sense of purposefulness, I chased after her. She was joined by Nazar, another street dog. As it turned out, they were on the heels of a group of young men from Syria — Jamil, Halil and Ali — who were living on the streets as refugees in Turkey. Zeytin quickly emerged as the focus of our production because she was one of the rare dogs we followed who did not inadvertently end up following us back. To the very last day of shooting, she remained radically independent. In Zeytin I saw a character who could fully envelop us within her own non-human will — a quality that was vital to a story about dogs who, unlike pets, are not only defined by their relationship to humans. My journey through Turkey traversed a socio-cultural terrain in which for a moment, one nation became refuge for many others. When xenophobia, species destruction and nationalist sentiment are rising all around the world, STRAY springs from these cracks in our anthropocentric modernity. It asks us to re-evaluate what it means that our streets are continuously emptied of everyone except those whom we’ve deemed to be its legitimate citizens. Through STRAY, I hope to continually push the boundaries of the cinematic medium in order to explore and challenge unequal states of personhood — to expand viewers’ circles of moral and perceptual consideration beyond their own class, culture, and species. – Elizabeth Lo
About the filmmaker – Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor Elizabth Lois an award-winning filmmaker. Her work has been broadcast and showcased internationally, including at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs, True/False, BAM Cinema fest, New York Times Op-Docs, and PBS POV. Elizabeth was named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine in 2015 and was featured in the 2015 Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase at Cannes Lion. She was selected for the New York Film Festival Artist Academy in 2018 and the Locarno Film Festival Filmmakers Academy in 2019. Elizabeth’s work has played at over 100 film festivals and has won numerous awards. Her short films include Hotel 22 (2015), Bisonhead (2016), Mother’s Day (2017), The Disclosure President (2016), Notes from Buena Vista (2016), Treasure Island (2014), and Last Stop in Santa Rosa (2013). In 2017, her collected shorts were released by Video Project as a DVD, The Short Films of Elizabeth Lo, for distribution to educational institutions and libraries around the world. Elizabeth was born and raised in Hong Kong and holds a B.F.A. from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and an M.F.A. from Stanford University. STRAY is her feature film debut.
“The ultimate love letter to dogs and a multifaceted moral inquiry into humanity… [A] virtuosic feature documentary debut.” – Tomris Laffly, Variety
“Dog lovers will drool over this profound canine love letter from Turkey. Gorgeous, absorbing…The dogs run most of the show, and they serve as remarkable centerpieces in a complex visual tapestry.”- Eric Kohn, IndieWire
“A howling success. Artful, intimate… ‘Stray’ shines a piercing light on what it means to be an outcast in a teeming metropolis.”- Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter
Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults is a thorough examination of the infamous UFO cult through the eyes of its former members and loved ones. What started in 1975 with the disappearance of 20 people from a small town in Oregon, ended in 1997 with the largest suicide on US soil and changed the face of modern New Age religion forever. This HBO Max four-part docu-series uses never-before-seen footage and first-person accounts to explore the infamous UFO cult that shocked the nation with their out-of-this-world beliefs. Director and Producer Clay Tweel joins us for a rollicking conversation on one of the most sensational and compelling collection of intelligent, engaging, and spiritually inspired people to ever embrace a collection of beliefs, brought to them by former minister and natal nurse, that eventually led them to hitch a ride on an undetectable space ship heading for parts unknown.
In the beginning… The son of a Presbyterian minister and a former soldier, Marshall Applewhite began his foray into biblical prophecy in the early 1970s. After being fired from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas over an alleged relationship with one of his male students, he met Bonnie Nettles, a 44-year-old married nurse with an interest in theosophy and biblical prophecy, in March 1972. According to Applewhite’s writings, the two met in a hospital where she worked while he was visiting a sick friend there. It has been rumored that it was a psychiatric hospital, but Nettles was substituting for another nurse working with premature babies in the nursery. Applewhite later recalled that he felt as though he had known Nettles for a long time and concluded that they had met in a past life. She told him their meeting had been foretold to her by extraterrestrials, persuading him that he had a divine assignment. – (from Wikipedia)
About the filmmaker – Clay Tweel is a native Virginian living in Los Angeles, California. Clay is a documentary director/producer/editor with a passion for telling great character based stories. His works include Make Believe, Print the Legend,Finders Keepers, Out of Omaha and Gleason – the last of which was shortlisted for an Academy Award and named one of the 5 best documentaries of 2016 by the National Board of Review. His features have been distributed by Showtime, Netflix, and Amazon Studios while working closely with companies that include Open Road, The Orchard and Exhibit A. Most recently, Clay executive produced and directed all six episodes of The Innocent Man, a true crime doc series for Netflix based on John Grisham’s only non fiction book. He is currently directing a feature documentary and producing numerous projects under his banner Parkside Films.claytweel.com
About the filmmaker – Shannon Riggs is a producer with a diverse background in film spanning multiple genres and scales. Alongside award winning director Clay Tweel, she produced the Netflix 6 part docu-series, The Innocent Man, and the Academy Award shortlisted documentary Gleason. Recently Shannon produced The Smartest Kids In the World based on Amanda Ripley’s New York Times bestseller, which premiered at DOC NYC in 2018 and was directed by Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, Tracy Droz Tragos. Shannon was a Sundance Fellow and participant in their 2015 Female Filmmaker Initiative. She is also honored to be a member of Women in Film and actively mentors young filmmakers through various industry programs. She is currently producing a feature documentary and numerous projects under her banner Parkside Films with co-founder and director Clay Tweel.
86% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Heaven’s Gate: Cult of Cults is a thoughtful assessment of the mechanisms of how otherwise smart, savvy people are attracted to fringe beliefs. It takes a story that is larger than life and brings it solidly back to earth.” – Ashlie D. Stevens, Salon.com
“What The Cult Of Cults does very effectively is tell the story of the organization, showing why it attracted members and held onto them for so long.” – Joel Keller, Decider
“Viewers may bob in and out during the first few episodes, though it’s worth sticking out for the grand finale, as sickening as it is oddly poignant.” – Ryan Lattanzio, indieWire
“The human toll isn’t lost among the kooky, UFO-centric beliefs of Ti and Do’s followers.” – Beau North, The Spool
FINDING YINGYING follows the nightmarish story of a 26-year-old Chinese student, Yingying Zhang, who comes to the U.S. to study. In her detailed and beautiful diaries, the aspiring young scientist and teacher is full of optimism, hoping to also be married and a mother someday. Within weeks of her arrival, Yingying disappears from the campus. Through exclusive access to Yingying’s family and boyfriend, Finding Yingying closely follows their journey as they search to unravel the mystery of her disappearance and seek justice for their daughter while navigating a strange, foreign country. But most of all, Finding Yingying is the story of who Yingying was: a talented young woman loved by her family and friends. Director Jiayan “Jenny” Shi joins us for a conversation on documenting a heartbreaking story, gaining the trust and confidence of a grieving family dealing with some very difficult truths.
About the filmmaker – Jiayan “Jenny” Shi is a Chicago-based documentary filmmaker and video journalist who is passionate about social justice issues regarding people of color. She shoots, edits and produces video stories and short documentaries about immigration, race and crime in Chicago for multiple outlets. She is also working on several projects as a researcher, digital content editor and translator including the ITVS co-produced web series Pulling The Thread and the 2020 Academy Award-winning Higher Ground Netflix film, American Factory. Jenny is a graduate of Kartemquin’s Diverse Voices In Docs program, a TFI Network alum, the winner of the Paley DocPitch Competition 2018 and a fellow of 2020-2021 Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellowship. Jenny is named one of the DOC NYC “40 Under 40” filmmakers.
About Kartemquin – Sparking democracy through documentary since 1966, Kartemquin is a collaborative community that empowers documentary makers who create stories that foster a more engaged and just society. Kartemquin’s films have received four Academy Award® nominations and won many more major prizes, including six Emmys® and four Peabody Awards. Recognized as a leading advocate for independent public media, Kartemquin has helped hundreds of artists via its filmmaker development programs and championing of documentary.Kartemquin is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization based in Chicago.
“It’s remarkable how Finding Yingying gets away from the traditional framework that governs how these stories are told, allowing the Zhangs to be seen separately from the horrific situation they find themselves in…” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest
“’Finding Yingying proves that centering the lives lost and the loved ones left behind can make for an intriguing a true-crime documentary.” – Jonita Davis, The Black Cape
“Compelling, heartfelt, and just as frustrating to watch – Finding Yingying not only makes for one of the most essential watches of the year but also for the sake of much-needed change.” – Andrew J. Salazar, Geeks of Color
In Dean Kapsalis’s feature film debut, THE SWERVE, we meet Holly, (Azura Skye) woman who seemingly has it all: two kids, a nice house, a good job as a teacher, and a husband with his career on the way up. But there are troubling signs that all is not right in her world. The insomnia. The medication for the insomnia. The dreams from the medication for the insomnia. (Are they even dreams?) And then there’s the mouse that appears in her home. Upsetting her already delicate balance, it sends her spiraling out of control. Writer/director Dean Kapsalis’ emotionally raw and unsparing film, THE SWERVE, explores a week in the life of a woman on the verge in this haunting meditation on mental illness. Actor Azura Skye joins us to talk about her preparation and collaboration with director / writer Kapsalis as well as the physical challenges of playing such a demanding role.
About the actor – Azura Skye is a Los Angeles native whose gemologist parents named her after the mineral azurite. Skye began her career in the theatre as a child and segued into film and television in her teens, where she’s since managed to garner a lengthy resume. Skye’s credits include the films 28 DAYS, BANDITS, RED DRAGON, ONE MISSED CALL, HEAVEN’S FALL and WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY. On the small screen she has appeared in numerous television shows including BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, HOUSE M.D., THE MENTALIST, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, GIRLS, and RIVERDALE. She starred in the NBC comedy WORKING THE ENGELS and in the independent feature TAKE ME TO THE RIVER, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
“The Swerve’s devastating depiction of domestic depression is elevated by an astonishing, tortured performance from Azura Skye.” – Shaun Munro, Flickering Myth
“Azura Skye’s broken, powerhouse performance animates this brittle psychological thriller about a woman on the edge.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“…no less irresistible and poisonous than the nation’s prevailing patriarchy, making Holly’s violent deviation from her prescribed homemaking path the last tragic swerve of a woman in trouble.” – Anton Bitel, Sight and Sound
“It is an amazingly cathartic experience. I’m incredibly impressed that Dean Kapsalis was able to convey the suffering of a woman so well, without belittling or objectifying Holly in the process.” – Lorry Kikta, Film Threat
“A beautiful and brutal study of depression, paranoia and the descent into the unthinkable. The message that Kapsalis voicing is one that, like Holly, needs to be heard.” – Kat Hughes, THN
A CRIME ON THE BAYOU is the third film in director Nancy Buirski’s trilogy profiling brave individuals who fought for justice in and around the Civil Rights era, following The Loving Story and The Rape of Recy Taylor. The story begins in 1966 in Plaquemines Parish, a swampy strip of land south of New Orleans. After months of clashes, the public schools have been integrated by court order. But we are in the land of the white separatist despot, Leander Perez, who rules Plaquemines like his fiefdom, making sure that segregation sticks regardless of federal laws desegregating schools and mandating voting rights. A 19-year old Black fisherman, Gary Duncan, tries to break up a fight between white and Black teenagers outside a newly integrated school. He lays his hand on a white boy’s arm and the boy recoils, as if bitten by snake. That night, police arrest Gary Duncan for assault on a minor. With the help of a young attorney, Richard Sobol, Duncan bravely stands up to Perez. Systemic racism and pervasive anti-Semitism meet their match in decisive courtroom battles, including the U.S. Supreme Court; hate is vanquished by a powerful friendship that will last a lifetime. With the rise of white nationalism in the U.S. and abroad, there is no more important story to tell today. The roots and the mechanics of hate groups are in full display in this dramatic story of a crime on the bayou. Together this trilogy demonstrates that regular people standing up for their values are the root of human progress. Mildred Loving, Recy Taylor and Gary Duncan did not set out to change history. But they remind us that anyone can. A CRIME ON THE BAYOU Executive Producer is John Legend. Director Nancy Buirski joins us to talk about the her searing indictment of the systemic racism that is responsible for the hideously unjust incarceration of Gary Duncan and thousands of others as well as how it continues to this day.
“You must also study and learn the lessons of history because humanity has been involved in this soul-wrenching, existential struggle for a very long time.” – Civil Rights leader and colleague of Martin Luther King Jr., friend John Lewis
About the filmmakers – Nancy Buirski is Director/Producer/Writer of THE RAPE OF RECY TAYLOR (2017); World Premiere, Venice Film Festival; North American Premiere, New York Film Festival. Awarded the prestigious Human Rights Nights Special Prize for Human Rights at the 74° Venice Biennale. Nominated for the NAACP Image Award and Peabody Award. TV broadcast on STARZ/HULU. Buirski is Director/Producer/Writer of BY SIDNEY LUMET (2015; American Masters); World Premiere at Cannes Film Festival. She is Director/Producer/Writer of AFTERNOON OF A FAUN (2013; American Masters); World Premiere, New York Film Festival, International Premiere, 64th Berlinale, record-breaking U.S Theatrical release with Kino Lorber. She is Director/Producer/Writer of the Oscar shortlisted, Peabody and Emmy Award-winning THE LOVING STORY (2011; HBO) and a Producer of LOVING by Jeff Nichols. Buirski will direct TANNY, a narrative version of AFTERNOON OF A FAUN and ENDANGERED, an animated feature based on award-winning novel of the same name by Eliot Schrefer.
WALK RUN CHA-CHAhas been nominated for Documentary Short Subject at the 92nd Academy Awards®. Directed by Laura Nix, the film follows Paul and Millie Cao, who lost their youth to the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Forty years later, they have become successful professionals in Southern California-and are rediscovering themselves on the dance floor. WALK RUN CHA CHA is now streaming on New York Times Op-Docs.
About the Filmmaker: Director Laura Nix Laura Nix is an award-winning fiction and nonfiction filmmaker based in Los Angeles. WALK RUN CHA-CHA is adapted from a feature-length documentary in progress. It was produced by Concordia Studio for The New York Times Op-Docs and premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Laura’s work also includesother work includes her feature documentary INVENTING TOMORROW, about teenagers from around the globe tackling environmental issues through science, THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING, a comedy about activism and climate change, the documentary THE LIGHT IN HER EYES, about a Syrian Qur’an school for women and she was a writer on the Emmy-nominated documentary CALIFORNIA STATE OF MIND: THE LEGACY OF PAT BROWN. In 2001, Nix co-founded the production company Automat Pictures, where she produced and/or directed over 100 presentations, including the feature documentary WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT: THE STORY OF HEDWIG, which played in over a dozen film festivals in the U.S. and worldwide. Previously she was a member of Oscar-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s production company Telling Pictures, where she was Associate Producer on THE CELLULOID CLOSET.
“Laura Nix’s WALK RUN CHA-CHA is a moving, poignant portrait of two aging refugees who have endured a great deal, and who now face one of life’s biggest challenges: figuring out how to stay in love. Through them, Nix also evokes the textures, tastes, and sounds of Vietnamese refugee life, and mixes them in with everything that is good about the United States. Ultimately, WALK RUN CHA-CHA is an optimistic film about both love and hope—the hope that our country will continue to believe in welcoming strangers from other lands, who in the end are not that strange at all.”– Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer
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.
“ 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
On Oct. 24, 2011, 12-year-old Garrett Phillips was murdered in his home in Potsdam, a small town in upstate New York. Police quickly zeroed in on a suspect in this unthinkable crime: Oral “Nick” Hillary, a black man in the mostly white community, who was a soccer coach at Clarkson University and the ex-boyfriend of Garrett’s mother, Tandy Cyrus. WHO KILLED GARRETT PHILLIPS? chronicles the five years following the murder, as Garrett’s family and community relentlessly seek justice for Garrett, and as Nick, who maintains his innocence, fights to clear his name and take back control of his life while raising five children. Through interviews with local police investigators, District Attorneys, defense lawyers, Phillips’ family members, friends of Tandy Cyrus as well as Nick Hillary and his children, along with extensive police audio and video recordings, and courtroom footage, the film is a gripping, eye-opening look at how justice is delivered and delayed. WHO KILLED GARRETT PHILLIPS? seeks to uncover the truth behind both the tragic murder of a young boy that traumatized a town, as well as the vilification of a black man who was swept up in a quest for justice, and the enduring mysteries that remain. Directed by two-time Academy Award® nominee and Emmy® winner Liz Garbus (HBO’s A Dangerous Son and Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper, and What Happened, Miss Simone?), the captivating two-part documentary WHO KILLED GARRETT PHILLIPS? looks at the case from the initial investigation through the arrest and numerous legal twists and turns that culminated in Hillary’s trial for murder five years after the crime. Director Liz Garbus joins us to talk about how this case raises troubling questions of racial bias and issues surrounding policing and the criminal justice system.
WHO KILLED GARRETT PHILLIPS?debuts TUESDAY, JULY 23 and WEDNESDAY, JULY 24 (8:00 pm ET/PST), exclusively on HBO. The film will also be available on HBO On Demand, HBO NOW, HBO GO and partners’ streaming platforms.
Lois Vossen is the Executive Producer of Independent Lens and has been with the show since its inception as a primetime series on PBS. Lois is responsible for commissioning new films, programming the series and working with filmmakers on editorial and broadcast issues. Independent Lens films have received 17 Emmy Awards, 16 George Foster Peabody Awards, five Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Journalism Awards and eight Academy Award nominations. The series was honored in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 with the International Documentary Association (IDA) Award for Best Series. Before joining ITVS, Lois was the Associate Managing Director of Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Labs. Lois is a member of the Television Academy Board of Governors, representing the documentary branch. She has served on the jury at Shanghai Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, SXSW, DOC New Zealand and Palm Springs International Film Festival, among others. Under her leadership, films funded or co-produced by Independent Lens include I Am Not Your Negro, Always in Season, Bedlam, One Child Nation, Black Memorabilia, The King, People’s Republic of Desire, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, TOWER, Newtown, Best of Enemies, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, (T)ERROR, The House I Live In, The Invisible War, and The Trials of Muhammad Ali, among many others. Widely regarded as one of the most influential supporters of independent and documentary filmmaking, Lois Vossen joins us for a conversation on the role that Independent Lens /POV and Public Broadcasting has had in maintaining the highest standards for innovative storytelling in non-fiction cinema.
ASHLEY CONNOR is a New York based director of photography. Her work on Josephine Decker’s BUTTER ON THE LATCH and THOU WAST MILD AND LOVELY prompted New Yorker critic Richard Brody to name her, alongside Darius Khonji and Fabrice Aragno, as one of the year’s best cinematographers. Her breadth of style can be seen in work as diverse as Dustin Guy Defa’s PERSON TO PERSON (Sundance ’17) and Adam Leon’s TRAMPS (TIFF ’16), as well as in popular music videos for artists including Jenny Lewis, Angel Olsen and Maggie Rogers. She had two films premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Josephine Decker’s MADELINE’S MADELINE and Desiree Akhavan’s Grand Jury Prize winning THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST starring Chloe Moretz and Sasha Lane. Most recently she shot two pilots for A24/Hulu and has three more films coming out in 2018: Olivia Newman’s FIRST MATCH (SXSW 2018 Audience Award Winner, Netflix produced), Alex O Eaton’s MOUNTAIN REST and an Untitled Daniel Scheinert film. Ashley Connor stops by for a conversation on her work on Josephine Decker’s Madeline’s Madeline’s Madeline and her Spirit Award nomination for her cinematography.
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Nadine Labaki’sCAPERNAUM (“Chaos”) tells the story of Zain (Zain al Rafeea), a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the “crime” of giving him life.CAPERNAUM follows Zain, a gutsy streetwise child as he flees his negligent parents, survives through his wits on the streets, takes care of Ethiopian refugee Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw) and her baby son, Yonas (Boluwatife Treasure Bankole), being jailed for a crime, and finally, seeks justice in a courtroom. CAPERNAUMwas made with a cast of non-professionals playing characters whose lives closely parallel their own. Following her script, Labaki placed her performers in scenes and asked them to react spontaneously with their own words and gestures.When the non-actors’s instincts diverged from the written script, Labaki adapted the screenplay to follow them. While steeped in the quiet routines of ordinary people, CAPERNAUM is a film with an expansive palette: without warning it can ignite with emotional intensity, surprise with unexpected tenderness, and inspire with flashes of poetic imagery. Although it is set in the depths of a society’s systematic inhumanity, CAPERNAUM is ultimately a hopeful film that stirs the heart as deeply as it cries out for action. Director and writer Nadine Labaki joins us for a conversation on her impassioned new film and how CAPERNAUM changed her and many of the cast and crew from this multi-award winning film.
“It’s a scathing commentary on the effects of poverty, the failure to properly respond to refugee crises, and simple human decency populated by those struggling just as much as the next yet have also crossed a line they cannot return from.” – Jared Mobarak, Film Stage
“It’s a deeply assured piece of direction, and though it only plays a few emotional notes, they are ones that won’t soon leave your memory. Prepare to be blown-away.” – Emily Yoshida, New York Magazine / Vulture
“A social-realist blockbuster – fired by furious compassion and teeming with sorrow, yet strewn with diamond-shards of beauty, wit and hope.” – Robbie Collins, Daily Telegraph
“Can favorably be compared to everyone from De Sica to Truffaut to ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’ A stunning piece of cinema.” – Pete Hammond, Deadline
Oscar-winning director Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) tells the provocative story of legendary director Orson Welles during the final 15 years of his life. No longer the “wonder boy” of Citizen Kane, Welles in 1970 was an artist in exile looking for his Hollywood comeback with a project called The Other Side of the Wind. For years, Welles worked on his project about an aging film director trying to finish his last great movie. Welles shot the picture guerrilla-style in chaotic circumstances with a devoted crew of young dreamers, all the while struggling with financiers and fate. In 1985, Welles died, leaving as his final testament the most famous unfinished film in movie history. The negative stayed in a vault for decades until now. With revelatory new insights from Welles collaborators including Peter Bogdanovich, Frank Marshall, Oja Kodar and daughter Beatrice Welles, They’ll Love Me When I’m Dead is the untold final chapter of one of the greatest careers in film history: brilliant, innovative, defiant and unbowed. Director Morgan Neville (20 Feet From Stardom, Won’t You Me My Neighbor, Cool School) joins us for a conversation about his hurly-burly look at the making of a ragged masterpiece by cinema’s greatest auteur.
“The impeccably assembled production employs Neville’s virtuoso touch to provocative effect.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“For cinephiles, it’s a high-calorie, clip-and-interview-laden feast of biography, insight, and gossip.” – Robert Abele, The Wrap
“Neville’s film may reveal little that hardcore Wellesians don’t already know. But it offers a lively evocation of the great man’s brilliance, waywardness and pained relationship to Hollywood history.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen International
“A fascinating account of an agonizing creative process.” – Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter
“A cinephiles’ delight.” – Kimberly Myers, The Playlist
Forty years ago, Dorothea (Tyne Daly) and Greta (Elisabeth Henry) moved to the town of Checkford and bought an abandoned bread factory that they transformed into an arts space. Here they host movies, plays, dance, exhibits and artists. It’s where civic groups and immigrant communities can meet, where there are after school programs for children. Now a celebrity couple—performance artists from China—have come to Checkford. They’ve constructed a huge building, the FEEL Institute, down the street. It is a strange sight for a small town. Dorothea and Greta learn about a new proposal to give all the funding from the school system for their children’s arts programs to the FEEL Institute. Without this funding, the Bread Factory would not survive. They quickly rally the community to save their space. The commercial forces behind the FEEL Institute fight also, bringing a young movie star to town to help make their case. The school board meeting turns into a circus where the fate of the Bread Factory hangs in the balance.
Bread Factory, Part Two: Walk with Me a While
Checkford hasn’t been the same since the school board meeting. Mysteriously, the reporter who runs the local newspaper disappears. Bizarre tourists start to show up, then come mysterious tech start-up workers. With all the new people, real estate is booming. Amidst all these distractions, Dorothea and Greta try to continue their work. They are rehearsing a production of HECUBA by Euripides. On the day they open the play, Dorothea gets the news that the Bread Factory will lose an essential piece of their funding. The beautiful opening night performance of HECUBA plays to a tiny audience. Brokenhearted, Dorothea and Greta must decide whether to give up their work at the Bread Factory because their community and support has disappeared, or to continue in their struggle to build community through art.
Patrick Wang was born in Texas, the son of Taiwanese immigrants. He is author of the books THE MONOLOGUE PLAYS and POST SCRIPT, an interactive book about the making of THE GRIEF OF OTHERS.His first film IN THE FAMILY was released to critical acclaim in the US and France and hailed “an indie masterpiece” by Roger Ebert. He was named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine, and the New York Times remarked, “This is a career to keep an eye on.” Director and writer Patrick Wang joins us for a conversation on his brilliant, funny, touching, humanist rumination on art, relationships and MAY RAY.
After marrying a successful Parisian writer known commonly as “Willy” (Dominic West), Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) is transplanted from her childhood home in rural France to the intellectual and artistic splendor of Paris. Soon after, Willy convinces Colette to ghostwrite for him. She pens a semi-autobiographical novel about a witty and brazen country girl named Claudine, sparking a bestseller and a cultural sensation. After its success, Colette and Willy become the talk of Paris and their adventures inspire additional Claudine novels. Colette’s fight over creative ownership and gender roles drives her to overcome societal constraints, revolutionizing literature, fashion and sexual expression. Director and screenwriter Wash Westmoreland stops by to talk about the story behind a remarkable trailblazing feminist, writer, performer and cultural icon whose influence has inspired artists for the last 100 years.
“Knightley is exceedingly well-equipped to carry this magnificent film on her own — an Oscar-nominated performance for sure.” – Jeanne Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan
“A witty, spirited portrait of the great French writer and libertine during the early Belle Époque years of her career.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“This timely and gorgeously shot account of a beloved French writer foregrounds Colette’s remarkable freedom from conventional norms as she finds her artistic voice.” – Erica Abeel, Film Journal International
“At first presenting itself as a tightly corseted Big Eyes set during the Belle Époque, Colette erupts into a fun, frothy, and unmistakably feminist biopic.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“The film has a towering performance from Keira Knightley, who plays Colette with such warmth and fiery feminism, that it would be hard not to make woman’s past run parallel with today’s world.” – Jordan Ruimy, The Playlist
The International Documentary Association (IDA) is dedicated to building and serving the needs of a thriving documentary culture. Through its programs, the IDA provides resources, creates community, and defends rights and freedoms for documentary artists, activists, and journalists. IDA is the only group advocating specifically for the documentary filmmaking community. In many ways, this makes IDA’s advocacy work the most important and relevant work we do. Documentary storytelling expands our understanding of shared human experience, fostering an informed, compassionate, and connected world. The Enterprise Documentary Fund is one of the many logistical and financial programs offered by IDA.
About the Enterprise Documentary Fund:
“In the face of an all-out assault on the press, IDA is committed to standing behind the independent storytellers and watchdogs that make up our community—in large part, through the newly created Enterprise Documentary Fund. Made possible by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the fund will disburse $1 million per year for the next four years, in the form of production grants up to $100,000 and development grants up to $15,000. The fund is intended to support primarily mid-career filmmakers producing feature-length, in-depth explorations of original, contemporary stories with a journalistic foundation or that incorporate journalistic practice into the filmmaking process. The mission of the Enterprise Documentary Fund is admittedly ambitious: It seeks to provide valuable resources and support systems (not unlike those in newsrooms) for filmmakers taking on the critical stories of our time. Originally sparked by the findings in “Dangerous Documentaries,” the fund is a response to pleas from filmmakers themselves. In interviews recently conducted by Toni Bell, IDA’s Filmmaker Services Manager, filmmakers reiterated the major findings in “Dangerous Docs”: They want access to information about digital and physical security, research databases, legal and other experts, public relations strategists and mentors. Exercising our rights to free speech and freedom of the press are critical for a healthy democracy. As I write this, these rights are clearly under assault, and we owe it to ourselves and to the public to staunchly call ourselves journalists and artists—they are not mutually exclusive.” – Carrie Lozano, Director of the Enterprise Documentary Fund
Chicago’s Oak Park and River Forest High School’s (OPRF) student population encompasses a racial, economic and cultural mix that reflects the nation as a whole. Located in a mostly affluent, progressive suburb, the school attracts families of all races and means, many of whom make great sacrifices to secure their children a place there. But even in this diverse and liberal community, ensuring an educational experience that equally benefits all students poses challenges for the school’s dedicated and well-meaning teachers, administrators and parents. In the multipart unscripted documentary series AMERICA TO ME, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interupters, Life Itself, Abacus: Small Enough to Jail) and his team follow a diverse selection of the school’s 3,400 students, including artists, athletes, scholars, underachievers and iconoclasts, to present an indelible account of their dreams, fears, triumphs and aspirations. Posing complex and controversial questions, the film wrestles with crucial issues, including the effects of race and privilege on education as seen through the eyes of young Americans on the precipice of adulthood. Candid and relatable portraits of 12 students who are just beginning to come into their own provide moving insights into the teenage search for personal identity in today’s world. Director Steve James joins us with his impressions on the state of secondary education, how best to facilitate better outcomes for students and the role racial stereotyping plays in achieving success.
“The 10-part documentary series from Steve James (Hoop Dreams) is profound and thoughtful, taking a detailed look at inequality in America through the lens of a storied high school in Chicago.” – Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic
“[America to Me] is an invaluable look at where inequity begins, as well as the difficulty of getting to the place where it ends.” – James Poniewozik
“Even in a series this expansive, you keep wishing you could spend more time with more people, but its scope allows James and his team to show both victories and defeats fade into the past, how fragile and yet how resilient its protagonists can be.” – Sam Adams, Slate
“[James] captures the specific moments that are hard to explain without being there – like a young black girl who feels uncomfortable with a white teacher’s constant attempts to relate to her – and the larger systemic issues that are harder to upend.” – Ben Travers, IndieWire
America has the most technologically advanced health care system in the world, yet preventable medical harm has become one of the leading causes of death, and the overwhelming majority of high-risk implanted devices never require a single clinical trial. In THE BLEEDING EDGE, Academy Award nominated filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (THE INVISIBLE WAR, THE HUNTING GROUND) turn their sights on the $400 billion medical device industry, examining lax regulations, corporate cover-ups, and profit driven incentives that put patients at risk daily.Weaving emotionally powerful stories of people whose lives have been irrevocably harmed, the film asks: what life-saving technologies may actually be killing us? Director Kirby Dick and Producer Amy Ziering join us for a conversation on the lack of integrity in the medical device industry, lax regulatory oversight by the Federal Food and Drug Administration and the potentially deadly combination that it can become.
In the beautifully realized story of struggle and determination, young cowboy Brady Blackburn (Brady Jandreau), once a rising star of the rodeo circuit and an uniquely gifted horse trainer, is warned that his riding days are over after a horse badly crushed his skull at a rodeo and put him in a three-day coma. Back home on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, Brady struggles with the physical and emotional complications of the accident. He is comforted by his inimitable little sister Lilly (Lilly Jandreau), who has Asperger’s Syndrome, while tensions between him and his gambling father, Wayne (Tim Jandreau), approach a breaking point when Wayne resorts to selling Brady’s favorite horse to keep their trailer home. Brady finds himself wondering what he has to live for when he can no longer do what gives him a sense of purpose: to ride and compete. In an attempt to regain control of his fate, Brady undertakes a search for new identity and tries to redefine his idea of what it means to be a man in the heartland of America. Lead actor Brady Jandreau talks about his journey from the rodeo to his portrayal of a fictionalized version of his own brush with death, depression, and recovery, and the thrill of working with family and friends in this celebrated film debut by award-winning (Cannes Film Festival Directors’ Fortnight, Best Picture) director/writer /producer Chloe Zhao (Songs My Brother Taught Me).
“The Rider marries the majestic vistas of the greatest American westerns with a deeply interior story of a cowboy having to renegotiate his identity.” – Ben Croll, The Wrap
“It’s just plain excellent.” – Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
“A remarkable, deeply moving melding of fact and fiction.” – Jeffrey M. Anderson, San Francisco Examiner
“Filmmaker Chloé Zhao turns the story of real-life bronc rider Brady Jandreau into a gritty, graceful character study. Once The Rider hooks you – and believe me, it will – there’s no way you will ever forget it.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“One of the year’s most arresting and unforgettable films.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast
For the past 25 years acclaimed photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield has travelled the world, documenting with ethnographic precision and an artist’s sensitivity a vast range of cultural movements and moments. Yet, after so much seeking and searching, she realized that much of her work pointed at one uniting phenomenon: wealth culture. With her new film, Generation Wealth, she puts the pieces of her life’s work together for in an incendiary investigation into the pathologies that have created the richest society the world has ever seen. Spanning consumerism, beauty, gender, body commodification, aging and more, Greenfield has created a comprehensive cautionary tale about a culture heading straight for the cliff’s edge. Generation Wealth, simultaneously a deeply personal journey, rigorous historical essay, and raucously entertaining expose, bears witness to the global boom-bust economy, the corrupted American Dream and the human costs of capitalism, narcissism and greed. Emmy-award-winning photographer / filmmaker, Lauren Greenfield’s expansive artistry includes her monographs (Girl Culture, Fast Forward, THIN, Generation Wealth), and documentaries (THIN, kids+money, The Queen of Versailles). The Queen of Versailleswon her the 2012 Best Documentary Director Award at Sundance Film Festival. Director Lauren Greenfield joins us to talk about her sweeping film and the damning indictment of a profligate world of depraved indifference, hell-bent on stockpiling pointless possessions.
“Through her dedication to other people’s lives, and with such open-book storytelling of her own, Greenfield is able to make a stunningly deeply resonant documentary about notions as seemingly obvious as the value of love over wealth itself.” – Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
“Greenfield makes a compelling argument for a society on the brink of precipitous decline, choosing to interpret the runaway vanity and rampant materialism observed in her own work as harbingers of our imminent destruction.” – Peter DeBruge, Variety
“This personal approach gives the film a sharp intimacy, and from here Greenfield pulls out to reveal how similar patterns are reshaping lives and families the world over.” – Nikki Baughan, Screen International
HALF THE PICTURE celebrates the groundbreaking work of female film directors and investigates the systemic discrimination that has, for decades, denied opportunities to far too many talented women in Hollywood. The film consists of interviews with high profile women directors including Ava DuVernay, Jill Soloway, Lena Dunham, Catherine Hardwicke and Miranda July, among many others, who discuss their early careers, how they transitioned to studio films or television, how they balance having a demanding directing career with family, as well as challenges and joys along the way. HALF THE PICTURE also includes interviews with experts about gender inequality in Hollywood including the ACLU’s Melissa Goodman, Sundance Institute’s Caroline Libresco, Vanity Fair’s Rebecca Keegan, USC’s Dr. Stacy Smith and San Diego State University’s Dr. Martha Lauzen, who establish the magnitude of this employment discrimination issue as women are shut out, across the board, of an industry that systemically denies their expression and point of view. HALF THE PICTUREDirector / Producer Amy Adrion joins us to talk about a unique time in the film industry where systemic change seems possible and whether, unlike previous efforts to address gender inequality in Hollywood, will this time be different?
“Half the Picture is a vital, comprehensive documentary on a subject that’s so fundamental to the industry it’s about, you have to wonder why dozens of movies on this scale or bigger haven’t already been made.” – Leslie Felperin
“Half The Picture is an inspiring, important documentary that should be seen by as many people as possible, particularly those who aren’t aware of the problems women face in Hollywood.” – Manon de Reeper, Film Inquiry
“Half the Picture, Amy Adrion’s no-frills documentary, offers a diligent, straightforward overview of the innumerable obstacles facing today’s female directors, both aspiring and accomplished.” – Natalia Winkelman, Film Threat
“A platform for those who want to hear about the reality of being a woman in Hollywood from dozens of women who have lived it, it’s an invaluable resource.” – Rebecca Pahle, Film Journal International
“It’s experiential revelation as advocacy filmmaking, an incisive and inviting example of the personal as political.” – Serena Donadoni, Village Voice
Oh Lucy!follows Setsuko (Shinobu Terajima in an Independent Spirit Award-nominated performance), a single, emotionally unfulfilled woman, seemingly stuck with a drab, meaningless life in Tokyo. At least until she’s convinced by her niece, Mika to enroll in an unorthodox English class that requires her to wear a blonde wig and take on an American alter ego named “Lucy.” This new identity awakens something dormant in Setsuko, and she quickly develops romantic feelings for her American instructor, John (Josh Hartnett). When John suddenly disappears from class and Setsuko learns that he and her niece were secretly dating, Setsuko enlists the help of her sister, Ayako and the pair fly halfway across the world to the outskirts of Southern California in search of the runaway couple. In a brave new world of tattoo parlors and seedy motels, family ties and past lives are tested as Setsuko struggles to preserve the dream and promise of “Lucy.” Director Atsuko Hirayanagi (Spirit Award nominee for Best First Feature) joins us for a conversation on the challenges of making hermulti-cultural comedy / drama and working with the film’s Executive Producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay.
“Within the confines of this cross-cultural shaggy-dog tale, Hirayanagi locates both a sharp vein of absurdist comedy and a bitter, melancholy undertow.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
“Hirayanagi isn’t selling a packaged idea about what it means to be human; she does something trickier and more honest here, merely by tracing the ordinary absurdities and agonies of one woman’s life.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times
“Japanese filmmaker Atsuko Hirayanagi explores the transformative power of human connection in Oh Lucy!, a film which seems to play like a standard culture clash comedy but reveals itself to run significantly deeper.” – Nikki Baughan, Screen International
“Expanded from her award-winning short of the same title, Oh Lucy! betrays some rough edges in the transition, but Hirayanagi’s idiosyncratic touch marks her as a talent worth tracking.” – Andrew Barker, Variety
Set in the legendary Sea Islands off the South Carolina/Georgia coast in 1902, Julie Dash’s DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST (1991) follows a Gullah family (descendants of West African slaves) on the eve of its migration to the North. Led by a group of women who carry with them ancient African traditions, the extended family readies itself to leave behind friends, loved ones and their insulated way of life. Can these women hold fast to their sacred religious beliefs and customs, or will their world be swept away in the course of a new century? This richly costumed drama, structured in tableaux to reflect the art and icons of African tradition, testifies movingly to the secret celebrations and packed-away sorrows of African-American women. These vital images were introduced to a new generation on a massive scale earlier this year, when the film was heavily referenced in Beyoncé’s visual album, Lemonade. DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST became the first film by an African-American woman ever to receive widespread theatrical release. Enriched by John Barnes’s eclectic score and Arthur Jafa’s Sundance Film Festival-prize-winning cinematography, listed in the National Film Registry DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST was hailed as one of the most visually and sonically ravishing in American independent cinema. Director Julie Dash joins us for a conversation on her sweeping, absorbing and poetic homage to African culture.
“Every image, every moment is a full creation. Dash is one of the heroines of the modern cinema.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“A film of spellbinding visual beauty. Julie Dash emerges as a strikingly original filmmaker.” – Stephen Holden, The New York Times
“Daughters of the Dust abounds with stunning motifs and tableaux, the iconography seemingly sourced from dreams as much as from history and folklore.” – Melissa Anderson, Village Voice
“Its examination of a bygone way of life is so patient and evocative, so beholden to its own storytelling conventions and rhythms, that watching it is a bit like submitting to a form of time travel” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
In the riveting story THE EYES OF MY MOTHER Francisca has been unfazed by death from an early age—her mother, formerly a surgeon in Portugal, imbued her with a thorough understanding of the human anatomy. When tragedy shatters her family’s idyllic life in the countryside, her deep trauma gradually awakens some unique curiosities. Driven by a mesmerizing performance by Kika Magalhaes Francisca’s desire to connect with the world around her takes a distinctly dark form. Shot in crisp black and white, the haunting visual compositions of THE EYES OF MY MOTHER evoke its protagonist’s isolation and illuminate her deeply unbalanced worldview. Genre-inflected but so strikingly unique as to defy categorization, writer/director Nicolas Pesce’sstunning feature debut allows us only an elliptical presence in Francisca’s world, guiding our imaginations to follow her into peculiar, secret places. Lead actress Kika Magalhaes joins us to talk about the challenges presented by this deeply troubled character and her eerily compelling performance.
Inventive and wildly fun, NUTS! recounts the unbelievable true story of John Romulus Brinkley, a Kansas doctor who in 1917 discovered that he could cure impotence by transplanting goat testicles into men. From there, the story only gets more bizarre. Mixing hand-drawn animated reenactments, interviews, archival footage, and a very unreliable narrator, NUTS! traces Brinkley’s rise from poverty and obscurity to the heights of celebrity, wealth, and influence. Along the way, he transplants thousands of goat testicles, amasses an enormous fortune, is (sort of) elected Governor of Kansas, invents junk mail and the infomercial, builds the world’s most powerful radio station, and generally annoys the heck out of the establishment. Filmmaker Penny Lane has skillfully borrowed a page from her subject – charming viewers into believing the unbelievable, building their trust and excitement, until the final chapter bares the painful truth and reveals the doctor for what he truly was. NUTS! reminds us that our love of (and need for) compelling narratives is exactly what makes us so endlessly susceptible to being conned. Director Penny Lane stops by for a conversation on Brinkley, our collective need to believe in something and any contemporary parallels to be drawn from this bizarre story.
NUTS! had it’s World Premiere at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing.
“Mixing droll animation, stock footage and a restrained number of talking head interviews, the director Penny Lane’s biography has all the whimsy of a tall tale, until a late change in tone surprises with genuine emotion.Nuts! is really a kick.” – The Guardian
“Don’t let the synopsis fool you, there’s much more here than a simple movie about a guy who likes to put goat balls in people…[Lane] explores the peculiar and undeniably fascinating story of Brinkley in what is easily an early contender doc of the year…Nuts! is a film you’ll definitely want to check out.” – Film Pulse
“Penny Lane is a documentarian who blends the archival with the personal in powerfully emotive ways… [she] is now firmly ensconced as a leading voice among her documentary filmmaking peers. “ – Vimeo
“What won’t spoil the film is my spewing praise for Lane’s craft… Lane is the answer to a question more people should be asking: who’s the great documentarian of this generation?” – The Verge
“In keeping with a recent trend in documentary filmmaking, nontraditional, sometimes controversial storytelling techniques will be on full display, Mr. Cooper said. The director Penny Lane, for instance, uses animated re-enactments and “one seriously unreliable narrator” to trace the “mostly true” story of a man who found success selling a goat-testicle impotence cure..” – New York Times
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE is a zany tale of a defiant city kid, Ricky, raised on hip-hop and foster care, gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella, the cantankerous Uncle Hec, and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. As a national manhunt ensues, the newly branded outlaws must face their options: go out in a blaze of glory or overcome their differences and survive as a family. Equal parts road comedy and rousing adventure story, director Taika Waititi (WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, upcoming THOR: RAGNORAK) masterfully weaves lively humor with emotionally honest performances by Sam Neill, Rima Te Wiata, Rachel House and Julian Dennison. A hilarious, touching crowd-pleaser, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE reminds us about the journey that growing up is (at any age) and those who help us along the way. Producer Carthew Neal (Tickled, A Band Called Hook Ups) joins us to talk about how Barry Crump’s classic book, Wild Pork and Watercress found its way into the hands of the talented director and writer Taika Waititi and onto the screen.
“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” takes a troika of familiar story types – the plucky kid, the crusty geezer, the nurturing bosom – and strips them of cliché.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times
“Every once in a while, a small, unheralded film comes along, so smart and funny, such a pleasure to experience, you can’t believe your luck. “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is such a film.” – Kenneth Turan, LA Times
“It’s off-beat in all the best ways, has fantastic actors all delivering fantastic performances, and is a uproarious adventure with endless heart.” – CinemaBlend.com
“An oddball and oddly affecting take on two misfits finding their metaphorical partner-in-crime match.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone