Finding Yingying – Jiayan “Jenny” Shi

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.

 

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

To watch the film go yo: findingyingying.com/see-the-film

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.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“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

“Intimate and haunting.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter

Assassins – Director Ryan White

ASSASSINS documents the bizarre, international plot, ripped from the headlines story of  Kim Jong-nam—the half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un assassination in the bustling departures hub of Malaysia’s international airport. The spectacularly brazen murder happened in broad daylight, filmed entirely by security cameras. Footage showed two young women approaching Jong-nam from behind, covering his eyes with their hands, and pressing VX—the most lethal nerve gas on earth—into his eyes. He stumbled away and was dead within an hour. But if the murder was extreme, the story behind what came next was even more bizarre: The two women who killed Jong-nam claimed they had simply been hired to pull a video prank and had no idea what they were really doing. The Malaysian government scoffed, arrested and imprisoned the women and put them on trial for murder, facing execution. But was their outlandish story actually the truth? And would anyone believe them? ASSASSINS the latest film from director Ryan White (Ask Dr. Ruth, The Case Against 8), travels from the sanctums of Pyongyang to the rice fields of Indonesia and Vietnam to the courtrooms of Kuala Lumpur to tell an extraordinary tale of manipulation and subterfuge in the age of social media. A masterful investigation that offers an unprecedented look at the real story of Kim Jong-nam’s murder,  ASSASSINS Director Ryan White stops by to discuss the wildly improbable tale of a calculating dictator, a nefarious plot, a very public murder, and two women fighting for their lives.

 

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

For more on the filmmakers go to: tripod-media.com

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Ryan White’s fascinating documentary chronicles plays like a political thriller with tragic consequences for the two women at its center.” – Matt Goldberg, Collider

“It’s a Kafka-esque and sometimes darkly comic tale of deception and exploitation that makes for a smartly assembled and eminently topical film that arrives at a crucial juncture in world affairs…” – Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter

“As you watch the movie, I promise that there are moments when your jaw will drop.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“Director Ryan White masterfully breaks down the complex mechanics of North Korean politics and the Malaysian justice system in a fascinating thriller.” – Ian Thomas Malone

A Crime on the Bayou, Director Nancy Buirski

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.

 

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For news and updates on A Crime in the Bayou go to: augustafilms.com

“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.

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The 11th Green, Director Christopher Munch

A long-awaited follow up to Munch’s acclaimed 2011 Sundance film Letters From the Big Man, THE 11TH GREEN stars Campbell Scott (House of Cards, Roger Dodger) as a journalist who uncovers the truth behind the mythology of President Eisenhower’s long-alleged involvement in extraterrestrial events. Rife with hidden government secrets and Matrix-like mind-benders, THE 11TH GREEN is grounded in what is widely believed to be the nuts-and-bolts core story of post-war U.S. military and government involvement with UFOs. In this way, the film sketches a possible backdrop to recent revelations in the mainstream media (eg, the New York Times and Washington Post) and subsequent declassification of certain U.S. military interactions with UFOs. Thought-provoking but understated, filled with sharply drawn characters, stark desert landscapes, and leaps across the space-time continuum, THE 11TH GREEN is challenging cinema that generates questions, discussion, and debate long after the credits roll. The film’s distinguished cast also includes Agnes Bruckner (Blood and Chocolate, Blue Car), Ian Hart (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Backbeat), April Grace (Magnolia, Joker), Tom Stokes (The Railway Man, Wasted On the Young), David Clennon (Being There, The Thing), Monte Markham (Mr. Deed Goes to Town, Dallas), and Currie Graham (NYPD Blue, Project Blue Book). Groundbreaking American auteur Christopher Munch (director of The Sleepy Time Gal and the recently restored indie classic The Hours and Times) joins us to talk about his many-layered drama and the talented cast he assembled to breathe life into it.

 

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For news and updates go to: christophermunch.com

To watch the film go to: theatricalathome.com/the-11th-green

*** Special Event *** In celebration and support of its current virtual cinema release via the “Theatrical-At-Home” program (and in select traditional venues), the team behind the critically acclaimed sci-fi drama THE 11TH GREEN will unite together for a special Q & A event . This event will help theatres currently presenting the film to offer their audience more of the traditional filmgoing experience. The special event will take place on Monday, July 20 that 4:00 P.M. PST / 7:00 P.M. EST (check online for your correct time zone). The Q & A will feature writer-director Christopher Munch plus stars Campbell Scott and George Gerdes, moderated by the film’s editor Curtiss Clayton. Audience members attending the virtual Q and A will have the chance to submit questions to the team, as if they were attending an in-person event.

About the filmmaker: Christopher Munch’s feature, the wilder­ness drama Letters from the Big Man (2011), was a New York Times Critics’ Pick and featured a lauded central performance by Lily Rabe. Five of his features have played at Sundance, and his first, The Hours and Times (1992), a speculative biopic about Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, won a special jury prize there. An impossible dream was the overarching theme of Munch’s sec­ond feature, the period landscape drama Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day (1996), based on the true story of a young trolley mechanic who tries to save a doomed short-line railroad to Yosemite National Park. Munch then undertook the sprawling, unconventional mother-daughter story The Sleepy Time Gal (2002), which Kevin Thomas in the Los Angeles Times wrote “has a depth, range and subtlety far greater than most American films” and which David Ansen of Newsweek upon its release stated was Jacqueline Bisset’s “finest performance.” Munch followed this with another unconventional family dissection,  Harry and Max (2004), about two pop star brothers.  He is a past Guggenheim  fellow, recipient of the Wolfgang Staudte Prize at Berlin, winner of two Independent Spirit Awards, including the “Someone To Watch” Award, and has been featured in two Whitney Biennial exhibitions. He has received competitive awards from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (for science in film), Creative Capital Foundation, The American Film Institute, The Merchant and Ivory Foundation, and others. christophermunch.com

“The bottom line: a thoughtful and compelling what-if starring a never-better Campbell Scott. . . . A bracing example of Munch’s fearless knack for casting a new light on official stories. . . . that information unwinds with a provocative and illuminating slant, and in combination with the film’s eccentric mix of genres, time periods and SoCal desert atmosphere, it makes for a heady revisionist saga. . . . For all the story’s machinations and dark doings, The 11th Green is concerned not with narrowly defined party politics but the power of cabals, and the relative powerlessness of figureheads. . . . [I]n its precision and poetry, the language is alive, and Munch gives each character a distinctive voice.”Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter

“Wildly inventive . . . a work of meticulous historical reimagination. . . . With tight-lipped restraint, Munch giddily tweaks the past seventy-five years of political assumptions and the very concept of life on Earth.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker

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