Fourteen-year-old Eleanor (ADELINA AMOSCO) is tormented at school because of the large red birthmarks across her face. Eleanor’s devoted teacher Ms. Gutierrez (KATHLEEN CHANGHO) encourages her to ignore her bullies and focus on her studies. But when things get really bad, Eleanor runs away from school to work in a restaurant run by Alex (ROD RODRIQUEZ), a grown man with whom she is having a casual affair. At home, Eleanor is raised by her grandmother (SHIRLEY CUYUGAN O’BRIEN), who dotes on her granddaughter even though she does not understand her. Eleanor prefers to be alone. At night, if she gazes at the water stains on her bedroom wall, they transform into mountains, leading into a vast, desolate landscape. In this world, Eleanor is alone and free. One day the kids start to tease Eleanor, “who’s the father?” and she discovers a baby crying alone in her dreamed landscape. When another student, Carly (VANESSA CARMONA) asks Eleanor what happened to her baby, Eleanor breaks down and attacks her. Eleanor is arrested and confined until Ms. Gutierrez is able to get her released and enrolled in a new school. Eleanor wants to succeed there, but the pressure of her impending assault trial and the increasing complexity of her life in her dreamed world may push this hope out of her reach. Director Cath Gulick joins us to talk about her haunting, lyrical portrait of a young woman searching for her own place in a hostile world.
THE LIGHT OF THE MOON is the story of Bonnie, a young and successful Latina architect, sexually assaulted while walking home from an evening out with friends in Brooklyn. At first, she attempts to keep the assault a secret from her long-term boyfriend Matt, but the truth quickly emerges. Bonnie emphatically denies the impact of what has just happened to her. She fights to regain normalcy and control, but returning to her old life is more complicated than expected. Her attempt to recapture the intimacy she previously had with Matt falters and cracks begin to surface in their relationship. Another attack in the neighborhood only drives Bonnie further into denial, before an encounter with an at-risk woman forces her to face the truth and confront her own self-blame. Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Short Term 12) gives a powerful and moving performance as Bonnie, a woman who maintains her dignity and sense of humor as she deals with the aftermath of a life-altering experience. Written and directed by Emmy-nominated Australian filmmaker Jessica M. Thompson in her feature film debut, THE LIGHT OF THE MOON is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the importance of relationships in the face of a tragedy.
11/17 ~ Panel with filmmakers.
11/18 ~ Talkback hosted by Julie Rosing, producer-host of the Lady Parts Justice podcast ReproMadness with LPJ founder Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show.
11/19: Seed&Spark/Big Vision screening with talkback hosted by Emily Best, the founder of Seed&Spark, and Amy Rosner, co-director of the upcoming documentary Second Assault.
“A clear-eyed film that’s clinical in its specifics.” – Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times
“The Light of the Moon isn’t a film you forget easily. It takes on a global issue and acts as if it’s something small, resulting in a film that feels both vitally important and imminently personal.” – Ryan Morris, Film Inquiry
“As a resource for those looking to understand the process of recovery, it’s hard to imagine a more comprehensive or sympathetic look at the challenge of surviving.” – Teo Bugbee, New York Times
“With the wider cultural conversation about rape culture, especially in the U.S., raging in the media, this honest and complex engagement with the subject is particularly welcome.” – Leslie Felperine, Hollywood Reporter
“[This] simply-structured film is harrowingly effective in its streamlined, low-frills way: sensitive without ever being sanctimonious, brutally frank without ever lapsing into exploitation.” – Andrew Barker, Variety
Noël Wells portrays Emily, a talented but hard-to-classify comedic performer who left behind her home and boyfriend to pursue career opportunities in L.A. When a loved one falls ill, Emily rushes back to Austin where she’s forced to stay with her ex-boyfriend (Nick Thune) and his new-and-improved girlfriend (Britt Lower), a totally together woman with a five-year plan. Though Emily is the same, everything else is different: her house has been smartly redecorated, her rocker boyfriend is training to be a real estate agent, and her old haunts show serious signs of gentrification. Holed up in her own guest room, Emily–who has no idea what she’ll be doing five days from now, let alone five years– is forced to question everyone’s values: are they sell-outs or have they just figured out what makes them happy? And is she following her dreams or is she just a self-absorbed loser? Director, writer and producer Noël Wells stops by for a conversation about her funny and touching film about reconciling your past with your present.
“Wells doesn’t just focus on her laugh-out-loud funny performance or insightful script: she displays a real eye for the cinematic with shot-on-film visuals that elevate her movie and lavish attention on its Texas setting.” – Kimber Myers, Los Angeles Times
“It’s a reminder that the 21st century is going to be full of coming-of-age films about 30-year-olds, and it’s compelling evidence that that might be alright.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“Ms. Wells is 10 times funnier and smarter than Louis CK. Her film is a reminder of what a crime sexism is. It not only harms women, it prevents the real cream from rising to the surface.” – Louis Proyect, counterpunch.org
“Creatives have stories to tell. This is Noël Wells’ story to tell. And good storytelling like Mr. Roosevelt is why we watch independent films. It’s a good story and a good start for Wells.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat
Winner of the Audience Award for Best Narrative Film at the Tribeca Film Festival, The Divine Order is set in Switzerland in 1971 where, despite the worldwide social upheavals of the previous decade, women were still denied the right to vote. When unassuming and dutiful housewife Nora (Marie Leuenberger, winner of a Best Actress award at Tribeca) is forbidden by her husband to take a part-time job, her frustration leads to her becoming the poster child of her town’s suffragette movement. Her newfound celebrity brings humiliation, threats, and the potential end to her marriage, but, refusing to back down, she convinces the women in her village to go on strike…and makes a few startling discoveries about her own liberation. Uplifting and crowd-pleasing, this charming, captivating film is a time-capsule that could not be more timely. Director Petra Volpe joins us to talk about the story behind a struggle for human rights and the women who made Swiss history.
Switzerland’s submission for the Academy Awards Best Foreign-Language Film
Winner – Audience Award for Best Feature – Tribeca Film Festival 2017
Winner – Audience Award for Best Fiction – Traverse City Film Festival 2017
“A gentle, unassuming picture, it does have a satisfying, feelgood trajectory and empathetic central performance from Marie Leuenberger.” – Wendy Ice, Screen International
“‘The Divine Order’ effectively illustrates how peer pressure can influence the political process.” – Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times
“Within the story’s sometimes too-neat outline, Volpe lets most of her characters breathe.” – Sheri Linden, Los Angeles Times
“Essential viewing for those interested in a wider perspective on feminist challenges.” – Ben Orndorf, Blue-ray.com
Holy Air is the story of Adam, a Christian Arab living in Nazareth – member of a vanishing minority within a minority in the Holy Land and the Middle East. His wife Lamia is a strong, beautiful and progressive Arab woman, who runs a foundation for women’s rights. When Adam hears that Lamia is pregnant and his father falls very ill, he evaluates his life and realizes that he has not achieved much. Despite all his business ideas failing so far, he gives one last try to make it big. And what’s better to sell in the Holy Land other than the very air that Virgin Mary breathed during her annunciation? But in order to, as one priest tells Adam during confession, bring such product into the market he needs to find allies from the three cultures ruling over Nazareth – the Jewish politicians, the Muslim mafia boss and the Catholic church officials. In a politically unstable world where religion is just another merchandise, can the Holy Air be Adam’s salvation or is it just an illusion? Director and writer Shady Srour joins us to talk about his contemporary comedy that not only transcends barriers of religion, gender, and culture, but is also intelligent and funny.
“As a wry commentary on religious tourism, and the limited avenues of prosperity for occupied, idealistic Arabs, “Holy Air” is tartly effective.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
“With a masterful sense of framing, Srour and cinematographer Daniel Miller turn beautifully composed shots into absurdist delights with a simple twist.” – Serena Donadoni, Village Voice
UNA, based on David Harrower’s play ‘Blackbird’ follows a young woman’s journey to reclaim her past. Fifteen years earlier, UNA ran away with an older man, Ray, a crime for which he was arrested and imprisoned. When she comes across a photo of him in a trade magazine, UNA tracks him down and turns up at his workplace. Her abrupt arrival threatens to destroy Ray’s new life and derail her stability. Unspoken secrets and buried memories surface as Una and Ray sift through the wreckage of the past. Their confrontation raises unanswered questions and unresolved longings. It will shake them both to the core. UNA gazes into the heart of a devastating form of love and asks if redemption is possible. Bolstered by the remarkable performances of Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelson, UNA rips at the fragile facade of two irreparably damaged people forced to reconcile entangled their past. Director Benedict Andrews talks about the making of his complex, intimate and relentlessly raw tale of abuse, and unresolved emotion.
“Una is an inquiry into the complicated bond between a predator and his prey. Yet Harrower does not play monsters and victims.” Ella Taylor, NPR
“Be warned: the film — perhaps unsurprisingly — is heading somewhere pretty dark, but you can’t fail to be impressed by this cleverly constructed and brilliantly acted piece.” Matthew Bond, The Mail
“What gives Una its unnerving tension is not just the skill of these two performers locked together in their unsettling combat, but the realization that no matter what she ends up doing to him, it won’t fix what has already nearly destroyed her.” – Chris Barsanti, Pop Matters
An idealistic recent film school graduate with few local professional options takes a road trip from Ohio to Los Angeles with his anxious best friend, his troubled high school sweetheart, and a hitchhiker hippie, to chase his dream of becoming a filmmaker. Your Own Road is about not letting extenuating circumstances determine your path in life. Brian (ASHTON MOIO) wants to make films but whether it’s his parents’ wishes, his geographical location, or just his self-doubt, the world seems stacked against him. Brian hits the road to break away from what is expected of him and pursue what he truly wants out of life. Along for the ride is his best friend Dan (AMIR MALAKLOU) whose whole life is structure and routine until his abusive ex-girlfriend dumps him and his plans go out the window. Brian also “accidently” invites his next-door-neighbor and hormer crush, Ally (CORTNEY PALM), who abuses prescription drugs to deal with her depression from caring for her grandmother with Alzheimer’s. Along the road they meet vibrant characters none more so than Ariel (KYM JACKSON), an Australian hitchhiker hippie who is not all that she seems, who they pick up in Colorado going in no place in particular. Each one of these characters takes the journey to California for unique reasons but they all find their inner selves traveling through such a diverse and sometimes scary country. Director and writer Brandon Buczek joins us to talk about his debut film world premiere at the 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival.
** Screening at the Los Angeles Film Festival
In Adam Curtis’s acclaimed BBC documentary, HyperNormalisation, he employs masterfully edited found footage to investigate how, at a time of confusing and inexplicable world events, politicians and other power brokers construct new, slippery realities. Curtis tells a story that begins in 1975 in New York and Damascus, and ends with today’s world.
Adam Curtis on his work and HyperNormalisation: ”Those in power in society – the politicians, the journalists, the experts – maintain their power by telling us stories about the world. Those stories tell us what is true and what is false, what is right and wrong, and what is real – and what is illusion. But there come times when these stories begin to break down. And people start to distrust those in power – and their definition of what is real and what is fake. At that point you enter the Zone. The film Hypernormalisation tells the story of how we got to this place. It is also about the new systems of power that we cannot see – because we are trapped inside the Zone.”
Adam Curtis is an award-winning widely influential documentary filmmaker and journalist. He works for BBC television in London. His acclaimed films include The Century of the Self (2002), The Power of Nightmares (2004), All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace (2011), Bitter Lake (2015) – and most recently HyperNormalisation.. His films go back into the recent past to tell dramatic stories that lead the viewer to look again at the present day – and help them make sense of it. They try to show how power really flows in today’s complex society, not just through politics – but through science, public relations and advertising, psychology, computer networks and finance. Curtis has also done live shows with the immersive theatre group Punchdrunk and the band Massive Attack. His films have been shown at the Cannes film festival and have won awards – including 6 BAFTAs. Curtis joins us to talk about power, journalism, the world as is understood today and his work.
“I want to be Adam Curtis when I grow up.” – Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris
“Hypernormalisation” feels like a greatest hits compilation of familiar Curtis themes — the decline of political power in a corporate age, the rise of global terrorism, America’s tortuous secret history in the Middle East, the hollow narcissism of cyberspace. But this also is a dazzling and thought-provoking film that blurs the line between op-ed journalism and mesmerizing audio-visual art.” – Hollywood Reporter
“‘HyperNormalisation’ is a searching and essential document of our times, a movie that leaves us, as in its opening shot, groping through a pitch-black forest with only a flashlight, wondering what lies in all that terrifying darkness that no one has found a way through.” – The New Yorker
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’s stunning 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.
Opening at the Nuart Theatre in Los Angeles, Friday December 2, 2016 with Q&A at the Friday, December 2nd 7:30 PM screening
*SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL – OFFICIAL SELECTION*
“It claws into your subconscious and lingers there. A simmering nightmare of a movie.” – Bilge Ebiri, NEW YORK MAGAZINE
“An exquisite waking nightmare. An impressive, highly original horror fable.” – Guy Lodge, VARIETY
“Equal parts Ingmar Bergman, Tim Burton and Tobe Hooper. The discovery of this year’s Sundance Film Festival.” – Eric Kohn, INDIEWIRE
“Ms. Magalhaes, a former dancer, uses her expressive eyes and graceful limbs to bring the intimacy and sensuality of her actions to vivid life.” – Jeanette Catsoulis, New York Times
1967: the height of the Cold War, Tte CIA suspects there is a Russian mole inside of NASA, sabotaging the Apollo program. They send two young agents on a mission to go undercover, posing as documentary filmmakers to capture NASA’s race to the moon. The real mission – use their access and technology to hunt down the leak. But what they discover is far more shocking than soviet spies… Their government may be hiding a secret about Apollo that could define the decade, and the White House will stop at nothing to silence anyone who learns it. Operation Avalanche, Director Matt Johnson’s follow-up to the widely-acclaimed The Dirties, is another fake documentary film starring Johnson and collaborator Owen Williams, once again as young would-be filmmakers. This time, though, the DV cameras and school-shooting plot are swapped out for 16mm and the faking of the moon landing. Director Matt Johnson and Producer Matthew Miller join us for a conversation on the inspiration for Operation Avalanche , striking the right tone and the wide variety of reactions of filmgoers to the “conspiracy.”
“A bold, imaginative and refreshingly diverting “documentary” that’s occasionally uneven in tone, and most fun and clever when it doesn’t take itself too seriously.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guide
“Matthew Johnson may not have his big breakout with Operation Avalanche, but there is enough here to suggest that he possesses the triple-threat skills to build a comedy auteur career on the model of (hyperbole alert!) Woody Allen or Albert Brooks.” – Michael Agresta, Austin Chronicle
“A film for nerds, of the film, science and conspiracy variety. The attention to detail is astounding and the obsession with art and history is infectious.” – William Babbiani, CraveOnline
“Operation Avalanche” weaves well-known conspiracy theories into a goofily entertaining satire of youthful ambition co-opted as a tool of government intrigue.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
In his feature film debut crime heist thriller, MISFORTUNE, director-writer-producer-lead actor Desmond Devenish takes us through a world of intrigue, family secrets and double crosses. Mallick, after his prison release, hunts down his ex-partner’s son, Boyd, an out of work mechanic, whom he believes could lead the way to the missing, stolen diamonds, which landed him in lockup years earlier. With the threat of death and chance at a potential small fortune, Boyd, his girlfriend Sloan and best friend Russell, a small time crook, set out on a rugged search through the treacherous Arizona desert. As events spiral out of control, the prospects of a criminal fugitive lifestyle become an inevitable reality. In addition to Devenish MISFORTUNE also stars co-screenwriter Xander Bailey, Jenna Kanell, Kevin Gage, Steve Earle and Nick Mancuso. Director-writer-producer-lead actor Desmond Devenish joins us to talk about the challenges and rewards that come with taking on the heavy responsibilities of the multi-hyphens he takes on for MISFORTUNE while staying true to his original vision.
For news and updates go to:facebook.com/MisfortuneFilm
Jaipur International Film Festival (Winner – Yellow Rose)
Arizona International Film Festival (Sold out)
Black Hills Film Festival (Winner – Best Feature Film)
Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are all grown up in this reimagined, modern day fable that finds them still searching for a hidden treasure that has eluded them since childhood. A modern-day retelling of Mark Twain’s iconic books, Band of Robbers is a comedic adventure that re-imagines the characters as grown men, and small-time crooks. When Huck Finn is released from prison, he hopes to leave his criminal life behind, but his lifelong friend, and corrupt cop, Tom Sawyer, has other plans. Not ready to give up on his childhood fantasies, Tom forms the Band of Robbers, recruiting their misfit friends, Joe Harper and Ben Rogers, to join them for an elaborate plan to find a fabled treasure. But the plan soon unravels, thrusting the guys on a wild journey with dangerous consequences. Band of Robbers premiered to stellar reviews out of LA Film Festival this year and stars Kyle Gallner (American Sniper, Dear White People, The Finest Hours), Adam Nee (Drunk History), Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds, 500 Days of Summer, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou), Hannibal Buress (SNL Emmy-nominated writer, Broad City, Neighbors), Melissa Benoist (Glee, Supergirl), Daniel Mora (The Bridge), Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS: Los Angeles), and Stephen Lang (Avatar films, Salem). Co-director Aaron Nee stops by for a conversation on this kinetic, funny and entertaining feature debut film.
Special appearance by directors and cast
NEW YORK: At the AMC EMPIRE 25 co-director Adam Nee and cast Kyle Gallner and Hannibal Buress will be doing a Q&A. (More details coming soon.) Later at the Nitehawk Cinema a special 12:25 AM screening will be introduced by Adam, Hannibal and Kyle.
LOS ANGELES: Co-director Aaron Nee, DP Noah Rosenthal and some of the cast will be doing a Q&A at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena at 7:10 PM.
“A film that’s as hilarious as it is beautiful.” – Paste Magazine
“Wound tight by a killer premise, polished direction, and a tone as though Anton Chigurh sauntered into “Bottle Rocket.” – Indiewire
“A wonderfully absurd crime comedy.” – Playlist
“This comic take on “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” is infused with a gleefully absurdist sense of humor while retaining a childlike sense of wonder.” – Stephen Holden, New York Times
Bill Plympton is considered the King of Indie Animation and is the only person to hand draw an entire animated feature film. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, he graduated from Portland State University in Graphic Design. Plympton moved to New York City in 1968. He began his career creating cartoons for publications such as New York Times, National Lampoon, Playboy and Screw. In 1987 he was nominated for an Oscar® for his animated short “Your Face”. In 2005, Bill received another Oscar® nomination, this time for a short film “Guard Dog”. “Push Comes to Shove” another short film, won the prestigious Cannes 1991 Palme d’Or. After producing many shorts that appeared on MTV and Spike and Mike’s, he turned his talent to feature films. Since 1991 he’s made 9 feature films, 6 of them, “The Tune”, “Mondo Plympton”, “I Married A Strange Person”, “Mutant Aliens”, “Hair High” and “Idiots and Angels” are all animated features. His latest feature animated film is Cheatin’ is a fateful tale of a bumper car collision, Jake and Ella meet and become the most loving couple in the long history of Romance. But when a scheming “other” woman drives a wedge of jealousy into their perfect courtship, insecurity spells out an untimely fate. With only the help of a disgraced magician and his forbidden “soul machine,” Ella takes the form of Jake’s numerous lovers, desperately fighting through malfunction and deceit as they try to reclaim their destiny. Animator / director Bill Plympton joins us to talk about his latest, magically adult tale of love and fidelity.
“At a time when so many computer-generated features have an increasingly homogenized look, Plympton is a welcome reminder that the art of animation is too protean to be limited to a single visual style, medium or point of view.” – Charles Solomon, LA Times
“Strife and sexual humor reign in this energetic romp, one of Bill Plympton’s best longform animated works.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
“It’s pleasingly old-school stuff that harks back to older, non-realist, counter-cultural schools of cartooning, a style through-line that reaches back to the very early days of Winsor McKay, through Tex Avery shorts and Ralph Bakshi in his Fritz the Cat-heyday.” – Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter
Winner of the Prix du Jury at Annecy 2014
Nominated for 3 Annie Awards
Opening night film for the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival
Best Animated Film at the Gujun International Film Festival
FEAST is a new short from first-time director Patrick Osborne (Head of Animation, PAPERMAN) and Walt Disney Animation Studios, is the story of one man’s love life as seen through the eyes of his best friend and dog, Winston, and revealed bite by bite through the meals they share. Osborne is behind Walt Disney Animation Studios’ new short FEAST, taking the film from conception to completion. Osborne joined Disney as an animator on the 2008 feature film BOLT and went on to work on the PREP & LANDING movies andDisney’s 2010 hit TANGLED. Osborne served as Head of Animation for Disney’s’ OSCAR®-winning short PAPERMAN, and acted as Co-Head of Animation for the upcoming feature BIG HERO 6 prior to assuming full-time directing duties for FEAST. Prior to joining Disney, the Cincinnati, Ohio, native was lead character animator on THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. He also worked as an animator on I AM LEGEND, SuRF’S uP and OPEN SEASON. Osborne, who earned a BFA with a focus in computer animation from Ringling College of Art and Design, got his start as a kid making movies with his brothers on their parents’ camcorder. His fascination with visual effects was elevated to a career goal when his dad gave him a book about the making of JURASSIC PARK. Director Osborne joins us to talk about Oscar nominated film and the challenges and rewards of having the final say on his own animated film.
2015 Annie Awards Nomination
Audience Award Winner: 2014 Hamptons International Film Festival
Paul Schneider (Parks and Recreation) stars as a newly single dad navigating the good, the bad, and the weird of the 30-something singles scene in this whip-smart comedy. When his wife unexpectedly informs him that she wants a divorce, well-meaning but oblivious husband Otto Wall (Schneider) finds himself thrust back into bachelorhood. Cue a hilarious sequence of romantic encounters—from reconnecting with a former crush to online dating—as Otto searches for the real thing amidst a string of one night stands. Directed by the acclaimed writer of Junebug, this sexy farce co-stars Anna Camp, Heather Graham, Amy Sedaris, and Melanie Lynskey. Director Angus MacLachlan joins us for a conversation on his first feature film’s exploration of maintaining relationships, love, perceptions and modern dating.
“Goodbye to All That” is very evenhanded in assessing its characters’ flaws, and it never sentimentalizes.” – Stephen Holden, New York Times
“The film’s tone remains playful — there are even some broad, laugh-out-loud moments involving a sex toy — but poignant little moments sneak in, hinting at darker, more troubling themes. “ – Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine / Vulture
“Goodbye To All That never dares to sentimentalize, but the performances and tones are so well played that the movie is tenderly wistful in all the exact moments.”– The Playlist
Winner of the Best Actor Award at Tribeca Film Festival, Paul Schneider.
Thirty years after Koyaanisqatsi, Godfrey Reggio–with the support of Philip Glass and Jon Kane–once again leapfrogs over earth-bound filmmakers and creates another stunning, wordless portrait of modern life. Presented by Steven Soderbergh in Black and White digital 4K projection, VISITORS reveals humanity’s trancelike relationship with technology, which, when commandeered by extreme emotional states, produces massive effects far beyond the human species. The film is visceral, offering the audience an experience beyond information about the moment in which we live. Comprised of only seventy-four shots, VISITORS takes viewers on a journey to the moon and back to confront them with themselves. Director Reggio joins us for an engaging conversation on his brave and challenging new film.
The effect is akin to a mediated staring contest: the film audience looks into the eyes of the individual people on screen, who look back, their expressions changing in slow-motion, as Glass’s minor-key score triggers emotional synapses deep within. – TCha Dunlevy, Montreal Gazette
We see unadorned faces staring at the camera; afternoon shadows moving across a large, institutional-looking building; forlorn images of an abandoned amusement park; the misty, magical quiet of a swamp.– Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times
For better or worse, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor
Some of what [Godfrey] Reggio is trying to say is obvious, and some is elusive. Either way, the effect is remarkable. – Noel Murray, Dissolve
The word for the film is transfixing. – Stephen Holden, New York Times
I AM DIVINE is the story of Divine, aka Harris Glenn Milstead, from his humble beginnings as an overweight, teased Baltimore youth to internationally recognized drag superstar through his collaboration with filmmaker John Waters. Spitting in the face of the status quos of body image, gender identity, sexuality, and preconceived notions of beauty, Divine was the ultimate outsider turned underground royalty. With a completely committed in-your-face style, he blurred the line between performer and personality, and revolutionized pop culture. I AM DIVINE is a definitive biographical portrait that charts the legendary icon’s rise to infamy and emotional complexities. Director Jeffrey talks about Harris / Divine’s journey from outsider to cultural avatar.
“Pink Flamingos star Divine gets her own well-deserved spotlight.”— Peter Debruge, Variety
“Just as garish, splashy, and loud as Divine himself.”— Drew Taylor, indieWire’s The Playlist
“Divine expanded the concept of the drag queen from brash female impersonator into something much larger, more subversive and less gender specific.” – Stephen Holden, New York Times
Since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in May 2009, there are only four American doctors left who openly provide third-trimester abortions. After Tiller paints a complex, compassionate portrait of these physicians—Dr. LeRoy Carhart, Dr. Warren Hern, Dr. Susan Robinson and Dr. Shelley Sella—who have become the new number-one targets of the anti-abortion movement, yet continue to risk their lives every day to do work that many believe is murder, but which they believe is profoundly important for their patients’ lives. The film weaves together revealing, in-depth interviews with the doctors with intimate vérité scenes from their lives and inside their clinics, where they counsel and care for their anxious, vulnerable patients at an important crossroads in their lives. By sharing the moving stories of several of these patients, After Tiller illuminates the experiences of women who seek late abortions and the reasons why they do so. Co–director Lana Wilson joins us to talk about the challenges of finding the right balance when tackling such a emotionally charged issue.
“Debuting helmers Martha Shane and Lana Wilson manage a rare feat in After Tiller, making a calm, humanist documentary about a hot-button topic…Well contextualized and sensitively shot with extraordinary access, the pic reflects the personal, moral and ethical struggles of the doctors as well as their patients, and deserves the widest possible audience.” – Variety
“Intimate and heartfelt…Brings an emotional clarity to an issue in which every nuanced turn of phrase has been made politically complicated.” – Los Angeles Times
“One of the most courageous pieces of filmmaking I’ve ever seen. The film takes the issue out of pulpit/talk show screaming-match format and engages viewers hearts and minds, reminding us why we need to make and watch documentary films at all.” – Fandor
On May 13, 1985, a longtime feud between the city of Philadelphia and controversial radical urban group MOVE came to a deadly climax. By order of local authorities, police dropped military-grade explosives onto a MOVE-occupied rowhouse. TV cameras captured the conflagration that quickly escalated-and resulted in the tragic deaths of eleven people (including five children) and the destruction of 61 homes. It was only later discovered that authorities decided to “…let the fire burn.” Using only archival news coverage and interviews, first-time filmmaker Osder has brought to life one of the most tumultuous and largely forgotten clashes between government and citizens in modern American history. In the astonishingly gripping Let the Fire Burn, director Jason Osder talks about how he was able to craft found-footage film into a work that unfurls with the tension of a great thriller.
“Let the Fire Burn outshines the lackluster likes of Our Nixon by combining the death-trip of a Senna with the radical history of Black Power Mixtape.” – Nicolas Rapold, Film Comment Magazine
“Telling its riveting, despairing tale entirely through archival footage, the terrific documentary “Let the Fire Burn” has the force and intrigue of a courtroom thriller.” – Tim Griererson, Screen International
In the Kunsthistorisches Art Museum in Vienna, Johann is a security guard who finds a special quiet magic at the institution. One day, a Canadian woman arrives on a compassionate visit to the city, and the two strike up a friendship through their appreciation of art. That relationship helps put all the other goings on at the museum and in the city in perspective as Johann observes and participates in them in a world where art can say so much more than a casual visitor might know. Director / Writer / Producer / Cinematographer / Editor, Jem Cohen (Chain, Benjamin Smoke, Instrument, and Evening’s Civil Twilight in Empires of Tin) joins us for a discussion on love, friendship, life and art.
“Quietly amazing.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times
“Rapturous. A film of such intelligence and originality that ‘radical’ seems the only accurate word.” – Calum Marsh, Village Voice
“luminous.” – Film Comment
“Deeply Felt, gorgeously shot.” – San Francisco Bay Guardian
“A lovely ode to art and friendship.” – Artforum
Each year, 60,000 people from around the globe gather in a dusty windswept Nevada desert to build a temporary city, collaborating on large-scale art and partying for a week before burning a giant effigy in a ritual frenzy. Rooted in principles of self-expression, self-reliance and community effort, Burning Man has grown famous for stirring ordinary people to shed their nine-to-five existence and act on their dreams. Spark takes us behind the curtain with Burning Man organizers and participants, revealing a year of unprecedented challenges and growth. When ideals of a new world based on freedom and inclusion collide with realities of the “default world,” we wonder which dreams can survive. Co-Director / Producer Jessie Deeter stops by to discuss the challenges of making a film about the chaos and community that make up one of the world’s greatest annual spectacles.
Painstakingly created over the course of the last fifteen years, Chris Sullivan’s debut animated feature is an absolute marvel to behold. Employing multiplane cut-outs, drawings on paper and stop motion (all shot on 16mm), Sullivan weaves a psychologically dense chronicle of a crumbling Rust Belt town, and the intermingled lives of three lonely souls who work at its local newspaper. Unfolding like a vision quest from the mind of a memory-haunted insomniac, it tenderly navigates its ugly characters down twisted paths upon which their pasts, fears, and longings converge. This is a totally singular and eerie landscape, dotted with ghost-ridden farmhouses, midnight car accidents, late night radio broadcasts and the world’s oldest cat. Painted with frequent strokes of unexpected humor and rendered with a beautifully rough hewn craft emphasizing its characters’ fragility, it emerges as a quiet feature-length epic unlike anything you’ve ever seen: adult, complex and brimming with the irrepressible spirit of American independent filmmaking.. Director/ Writer/ Producer Chris Sullivan joins us for an extended conversation on this stunningly original animated film. Be sure to see Chris Sullivan for the 8:00 PM Friday and 7:00 PM Saturday screening at the Cinefamily – 611 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles.
“CRITICS’ PICK! A dark and painful fantasy for grown-ups… A work of obsessive artisanal discipline and unfettered artistic vision. You have never seen anything like it. This remarkable film…conducts its inquiry into the darkest zones of the human heart in a spirit at once anguished and playful…A wonder.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times
“Emotionally raw, thoroughly original…The entire world he’s built is constructed of ugliness shot through with moments of unexpected beauty. His narrative is the same… small moments of beauty and redemption sneak through.” – Ian Buckwalter, NPR online
“A sprawling, slithering, stream-of-consciousness tale… a moribund, rust-belt dreamland. This is the rare animated feature whose subtext is as rich as its sensuality… CONSUMING SPIRITS (is) not only a monstrous visual achievement, but one of the most uniquely humanistic animated features of all time.” – Joseph Jon Lanthier, Slant
“Every frame in Chris Sullivan’s American Gothic saga aches and echoes from a place of unique artistry, meticulous craftsmanship and great imagination. It is the little touches, the small world-building and grounding details that make CONSUMING SPIRITS feel so rich and so worthwhile. It is adult animation at its best and most unique, and a film which exudes the true spirit of American independent filmmaking.”
– Ben Umstead, TwitchFilm.com
In this doomsday comedy, four couples meet for Sunday brunch and find themselves stranded in a house together as the world may be about to end. When Tracy Scott (Julia Stiles) decides to introduce her new beau Glenn (David Cross) to her three friends Hedy (America Ferrera), Emma, and Lexi and their significant others, her biggest fear is whether or not her friends will approve of her new relationship, little does she realize that’s the least of her worries. Before long the couples find themselves in the midst of an apocalyptic disaster, catching them all off guard. One thing is clear; these four couples aren’t going to let the potential end of the world get in the way of the relationship issues they all need to work out. Director Todd Berger joins us to shed some light on how best to embrace the end times.
“It’s a Disaster is an impeccably-written, dark-as-a-moonless-night satire that hearkens back to the glory days of classic comedy. Existing in the surreal ether somewhere between Preston Sturges and Woody Allen, Berger takes on disaster films as well as the trope of trapping characters in one location; all the while, Berger and cinematographer Nancy Schreiber beautifully choreograph the on screen events to Altman-esque precision.” – Don Simpson, Smells Like Screen Spirit
“Writer-director Todd Berger brings a fresh stamp to Armageddon with his sharply scripted comedy It’s a Disaster, which is anything but.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
Kris is derailed from her life when she is drugged by a small-time thief. But something bigger is going on. She is unknowingly drawn into the life cycle of a presence that permeates the microscopic world, moving to nematodes, plant life, livestock, and back again. Along the way, she finds another being—a familiar, who is equally consumed by the larger force. The two search urgently for a place of safety within each other as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of their wrecked lives. Director/Writer/Actor Shane Carruth stops by Film School to talk about his “heart-stoppingly” beautiful film mediation.
“With its densely layered, thematically rich storytelling, Upstream Color is in part about the mutual psychosis that can be an essential part of romance, the agreement of a shared madness. It’s intense and hypnotically powerful, and a more intimate and moving film than Primer. Color is somehow at once emotionally direct, while narratively abstract.” – Mark Olsen, LA Times
“…having the movie wash over me was one of the most transcendent experiences of my movie going life. It’s utterly perplexing, and heart-stoppingly beautiful, quite literally overwhelming.” – Sam Adams, A. V. Club
In 1980 Stanley Kubrick released his classic horror film, THE SHINING. Over 30 years later, viewers are still struggling to understand its hidden meanings. Loved and hated by equal numbers, the film is considered a genre standard by many loyalists, while other viewers dismiss it as the lazy result of a legendary director working far below his talent level. In between these two poles, however, live the theories of ardent fans who are convinced they have decoded THE SHINING’s secret messages regarding genocide, government conspiracy, and the nightmare that we call history. Ascher’s ROOM 237 fuses fact and fiction through interviews with the fans and scholars who espouse these theories. Ideas of five devotees of the film with wildly different ideas about its true meaning are braided together in a kaleidoscopic deconstruction of the horror classic. Director Rodney Ascher joins us for a conversation on the joy of interpretation and discovery, wherever you find it.
“Ascher’s unique and unforgettable film is a tribute to movie love. I couldn’t have liked it more.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“A delirious ode to movie love; a meditation on becoming so consumed by a film that every single inch of the screen seems to hold some kind of special meaning… both hilarious and electrifying, a must-see for any true film buff.” - Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine
“One of the great movies about movies… With Ascher’s brilliant editing subtly teasing the participants for their sillier comments, there’s a sense in which ‘Room 237′ mirrors Kubrick’s film as a work of genre satire… That these fans’ revelations run the gamut from ingenious to inane does nothing to diminish the pic’s aptly Kubrickian study of human flailing.” – Rob Nelson, Variety