For over a decade, ShortsTV has proudly brought the Oscar© Nominated Short Films to audiences across the globe. This exclusive release features the year’s most spectacular short films and for a limited time is available to watch on the big screen. Each nominee is released in one of three distinct feature-length compilations according to their category of nomination: Live Action, Animation or Documentary. The films go into theaters around the world shortly after nominations are announced and are not released anywhere else until a few days before the Oscars©, when they are also made available via on demand platforms, including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play and Vimeo on Demand. The release ensures the greatest number of viewers can see all the nominees before the ceremony, while providing short filmmakers with an unprecedented opportunity to commercialize their movies. Carter Pilcher founded Shorts International in 2000. Coming from a background in both investment banking and law, Carter has made Shorts International the world’s leading short movie Entertainment Company, functioning as distributor, broadcaster and producer. Carter has extensive experience in short movie production and short movie entertainment. He is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a member of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch of The US Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) – the guys who pick the Oscars. For the last seven years Carter Pilcher has been the highlight of Oscar season here on Film School Radio. His insight, commitment and love of the short film format and the dedicated people who create them insures a lively and informative conversation on some of the best films you will see all year.
To be a moﬃe is to be weak, effeminate, illegal. The year is 1981 and South Africa’s white minority government is embroiled in a conﬂict on the southern Angolan border. Like all white boys over the age of 16, Nicholas Van der Swart (Kai Luke Brummer) must complete two years of compulsory military service. South African director Oliver Hermanus, fourth feature MOFFIE explores the life of a closeted young boy serving his mandatory military service during Apartheid in 1980s South Africa. MOFFIE is an adaptation of André-Carl van der Merwe’s iconic memoir, the film serves as a brilliant period piece exposing the psychological violence of institutionalized homophobia. Achingly raw depictions of the brutality of military training recall scenes from Kubrick’s FULL METAL JACKET while the beautifully acted love story provides a sharp contrast to the pervasive violence. Director and screenwriter Oliver Hermanus joins us for a conversation on how important it was to accurately capture to nexus of religion and the racist Apartheid regime and how the repressive culture it created made any relationship outside of it a treasonous act and how rewarding it was for him to be working with a gifted group of talented actors.
IFC Films will release MOFFIE on Friday, April 9, 2021 in select theaters and on digital and VOD platforms.
About the filmmaker – Oliver HERMANUS (1983, South Africa) started his career as a press photographer. He studied at the University of Cape Town and received a scholarship for the University of California. In 2006 he was offered a private scholarship by film director Roland Emmerich to complete his MA at the London Film School. His earlier films Shirley Adams (2009) and Beauty (2011) were both screened in Rotterdam. In 2015, The Endless River became the first South African film to be nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. His newest feature, Moffie (2019), premiered in the Horizons section of Venice Film Festival and won the Mermaid Award for best LGBTQI-themed film at the 60th edition of Thessaloniki International Film Festival.
“A masterpiece…establishing [Hermanus] quite plainly as South Africa’s most vital contemporary filmmaker” – Variety, Guy Lodge
“Hermanus digs deep into the South African psyche and teases out the contradictions within white society itself, especially the fracture between South Africans of English origin and Afrikaners.” – Kevin Maher, Times (UK)
“An extraordinary young ensemble cast…Kai Luke Brummer makes a magnetic centre” – Screen International, Jonathan Romney
“Moments of aching tenderness and desire” – The Hollywood Reporter
Based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel, DAYS OF THE BAGNOLD SUMMER is a funny yet sweet coming-of-age story about single motherhood and Metallica. Daniel (Earl Cave) was supposed to spend the summer with his dad and his dad’s new wife in Florida, but when his dad cancels the trip Daniel and his mom, Sue, (Monica Dolan) suddenly face the prospect of six long weeks together. An epic war of wills ensues in their suburban home as Daniel just wants to listen to heavy metal and start a band while his mom hopes to rekindle the fun times they used to have together. Featuring original songs by Belle and Sebastian. Director Simon Bird joins us for a conversation on his beautifully rendered tale of a sullen, insecure teen and his effervescent single mom doing her best to keep moving forward in a world that is pelting her with cheap shots and exasperating insults.
About the filmmaker – Director Simon Bird’s first short film, Ernestine and Kit, premiered at South By Southwest, and was nominated for Best Short at the Irish Film and Television Awards. Previously, Simon has worked as a stand-up comedian, writer, producer, and actor. As a writer, he created The King Is Dead for the BBC and co-created Chickens for Sky, which was nominated for Best Sitcom at the Broadcast Awards. As a producer, he set up Guilty Party Pictures, a TV and film production company backed by RED and Studiocanal. Guilty Party has produced content for Channel 4, Sky and the BBC, and recently wrapped on How Europe Stole My Mum, an original TV show for Channel 4, to air later this year. As an actor, Simon has starred in five series of Rose D’Or-winning sitcom Friday Night Dinner. The sixth series shoots later this year. He is perhaps best known as Will McKenzie from Channel 4’s BAFTA-winning sitcom THE INBETWEENERS, THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE, which is the highest-grossing comedy film ever in the UK, and THE INBETWEENERS 2, which had the highest-grossing opening weekend of any film in the UK in 2014. Simon has won multiple British Comedy Awards and been nominated for a BAFTA and Royal Television Society award for acting.
90% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Far closer in spirit to the lighter works of Mike Leigh than the broader material that made him a well known figure in British comedy, Bird’s debut is innately humanistic, with cross-generational appeal.” – Alistair Ryder, Film Inquiry
DEAR COMRADES! is based on a true story surrounding a strike by factory workers on June 1st and 2nd, 1962 in the city of Novocherkassk. The raising of food prices and the lowering of wages at the local factory led to a spontaneous uprising by thousands of area residents that eventually leading to violent reaction by local and federal officials. The events of those two days was kept secret until the nineties. DEAR COMRADES! focuses on the life and family of Lyudmila (Julia Vysotskaya) is a Party executive and devout communist who had fought in WWII for Stalin’s ideology. Certain that her work will create a communist society, the woman detests any anti-Soviet sentiment. During a strike at the local electromotive factory, Lyudmila witnesses a laborers’ piquet gunned down under orders from the government that seeks to cover up mass labor strikes in USSR. After the bloodbath, when survivors flee from the square, Lyudmila realizes her daughter has disappeared. A gaping rift opens in her worldview. Despite the blockade of the city, mass arrests, and the authorities’ attempts to cover up the massacre, Lyudmila searches for her daughter. We don’t know how the search will end, but realize that the woman’s life won’t ever be the same. Director Andrei Konchalovsky (Uncle Vanya, Siberiade, Runaway Train, The Inner Circle) and lead actor Julia Vysotskaya join us for a conversation on the importance of telling an unknown story, the role of art and storytelling and how Lyuda’s saga reflexes a broader perspective on Soviet-era repression.
Russia’s official submission to the 2021 Academy Awards® for Best International Film
Director’s Statement – The process of making films about the 1960s is increasingly becoming the process of restoring the historical authenticity of the era, a fairly difficult task all in itself. Recently we’ve been seeing plenty of films where the 60s-70s-80s of the 20th century look fake and contrived, without any resemblance to the Soviet films made at the time, like “The Great Cranes Are Flying” or “Ballad of a Soldier”. So, my goal was to scrupulously and in great detail reproduce the era of the USSR’s 1960s. I think that the Soviet people of post-war time, the ones who fought in the WWII until victory, deserve to have a movie that pays tribute to their purity and the tragic dissonance that followed the realization of how different the communist ideals were from the reality around them. – Andrei Konchalovsky
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“KONCHALOVSKY’S MASTERPIECE. The artistry is calm, controlled, persuasively detailed… Catch it if you can. Beautiful and damning, DEAR COMRADES! is also an act of remembrance.” – Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
“A scintillating, surgical exposé of Khrushchev-era oppression… A 1962 massacre in the Soviet Union is reclaimed from its historical cover-up by Andrei Konchalovsky’s pristine, extraordinary drama… Perversely beautiful and coldly furious… meticulous and majestic, epic in scope and tattoo-needle intimate in effect.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety
“Now in his 80s, Andrei Konchalovsky, the veteran Russian director… has made one of his most Russian, and most accomplished, latter-day films… Carried off with evocative precision and a cannily underplayed emotional tug. The drama keeps a well-calibrated balance between political horror, the matter-of-fact texture of everyday life, and the rhetoric that keeps the Soviet machinery oiled – and that Lyuda is struggling to see through. The film’s magnetic centre is a strong performance from Vysotskaya, working from a base line of initial testiness to rising anxiety and terror in face of the oppression that she realizes she has been enabling.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily
“Although at first sight this dramatization of a 1962 strike at a factory in the U.S.S.R. may seem a long way from the interests of contemporary audiences, it is surprising how much resonance the film has with the political struggles of our own time. much credit due to Julia Vysotskaya and her uncommonly gripping perf in the main role.” – Deborah Young, – The Hollywood Reporter
THE REASON I JUMP is an immersive cinematic exploration of neuro-diversity through the experiences of non-speaking autistic people from around the world, based on the best-selling book by Naoki Higashida. The film blends Higashida’s revelatory insights into autism, written when he was just 13, with intimate portraits of five remarkable young people. It opens a window for audiences into an intense and overwhelming, but often joyful, sensory universe. Moments in the lives of each of the characters are linked by the journey of a young Japanese boy through an epic landscape; narrated passages from Naoki’s writing reflect on what his autism means to him and others, how his perception of the world differs, and why he acts in the way he does: the reason he jumps. THE REASON I JUMP distills these elements into a sensually rich tapestry that leads us to Naoki’s core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say. Director Jerry Rothwell stops by to talk about his deeply empathetic look into the lives of people with autism from around the world, with each story broadening our perspective and understanding of what it means to be a neuro-diverse person.
About the filmmaker – Jerry Rothwell is a filmmaker whose work includes the award-winning feature documentaries: The Reason I Jump, based on the bestselling book by Naoki Higashida; How To Change The World, about the founders of Greenpeace; Sour Grapes (co-directed with Reuben Atlas) a film about a wine counterfeiter Town of Runners, about two girls in an Ethiopian village who aspire to be athletes; Donor Unknown, about a sperm donor and his many offspring; School In The Cloud, about radical educationalist, Sugata Mitra; Heavy Load, about a group of people with learning disabilities who form a punk band, and Deep Water (co-directed with Louise Osmond), about Donald Crowhurst’s ill-fated voyage in the 1968 round the world yacht race. His work has won numerous accolades including two Grierson Awards, a Sundance Special Jury Prize, an RTS Award, the IDA Pare Lorentz Award and a BAFTA nomination.
About the writer (The Reason I Jump) – Naoki Higashida was born in Kimitsu, Japan in 1992. Diagnosed with severe autism when he was five, he subsequently learned to communicate using a handmade alphabet grid and began to write poems and short stories. At the age of thirteen he wrote The Reason I Jump, which was published in Japan in 2007. Its English translation came out in 2013, and it has now been published in more than thirty languages. Higashida has since published several books in Japan, including children’s and picture books, poems, and essays. He continues to give presentations throughout Japan about his experience of autism.
WINNER – World Cinema Documentary Audience Award – Sundance FF 2020
NOMINEE – Best Cinematography – Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards 2020
NOMINEE – Best Feature – IDA Documentary Awards 2020 NOMINEE – Best Director – IDA Documentary Awards 2020 NOMINEE – Best Documentary – British Independent Film Awards 2020
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Wondrous… A work that enlightens and informs but that is also ravishing
to behold.” – Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter
“An inventive, sensuous documentary worthy of its source… This compassionate, creative documentary will open ears and eyes in equal measure.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“Exquisite… All aspects of this film deserve praise.” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen
The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story is a deep dive into the origin story for one of the most successful cable operations in media history as well as the many reasons why millions of children and adults made the Nickelodeon Network synonymous with growing up. In just a few years, the channel grew from a small local channel to an international phenomenon that helped shape a generation. Led by trailblazing visionary Geraldine Laybourne and her commitment to putting kids first, a group of unconventional heroes turned an underdog channel into an $8 billion dollar juggernaut as the golden standard for children’s programming. The Orange Years chronicles the rise of Nickelodeon, with the actors, writers, and creators from all the golden age Nickelodeon shows that shaped your lives. It’s wild. It’s crazy. It changed the world. Co-directors Adam Sweeney and Scott Barber join us for a conversation on the unlikely history of a children’s cable network that really was about and for kids from its quirky lo-fi programming to the young at heart creators who have never lost dight of who their audience is.
It’s 1984 and outside a small-town nightclub, a group of 8th graders gather, grappling with a spate of recent suicides, UFO sightings, their absentee parents, and each other. 18 TO PARTY spans a single evening in the lives of these kids, but manages to transport us fully to a time when waiting for something to happen felt just as significant as the thing itself. Gorgeously atmospheric, with a pulsating sense of anticipation that steadily builds, the film pulls us into the fears, wounds, and desires of each character, ultimately revealing that hope may arrive from the last place we expect. The meticulously authentic production design, killer soundtrack, and universally excellent performances recall the spirit of classic 80s teen movies like Stand By Me and The Breakfast Club. 18 TO PARTY is a spot-on love letter to Gen X, awkward teenagers, and the transcendent power of friendship. Director Jeff Roda joins us for a conversation on the universal trials and tribulations of youth, working with a very talented group of actors and the inspiration for his insightful new film.
About the filmmaker: Jeff Roda has written screenplays for DreamWorks, Universal, Paramount Pictures, New Regency, TriStar, and television pilots for HBO, CBS, and Warner Bros. Additionally, he was a producer on the Sony Pictures Classics feature, Love Liza, starring Academy Award winning actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Kathy Bates. 18 TO PARTY marks his directorial debut. Roda is a local resident of Woodstock area and the film is set in Upstate New York.
“If John Hughes and Richard Linklater had a love child, it would be 18 to Party.” – Sean Boelman. WORLD FILM GEEK
“A riveting meditation on Gen X cynicism.” – Ken Scrudato, BLACKBOOK
“No film captures the purgatory of adolescence better than 18 to Party which gets its premiere today at the Woodstock Film Festival. Writer/Director Jeff Roda so perfectly captures the tension of this time period I found myself having middle school flashbacks.” – Tyler Unsell, SIGNAL HORIZON
“18 TO PARTY was an instant time machine back to a time when social media was science fiction, and friendships were flesh and bone instead of 2D digital snaps.” – Matt Mungle, MUNGLE SHOW
In her exasperating new documentary, THE STATE OF TEXAS VS. MELISSA, Sabrina Van Tassel explores the life journey of Melissa Lucio, the first Hispanic woman to be sentenced to death in the state of Texas. For over ten years she has been awaiting her fate, and now faces her last appeal. No one had ever seen Melissa be violent towards her children, yet she was blamed for the daily abuse and subsequent death of her two-year-old daughter, who died from blunt head trauma. Set in the heart of the Latino community of South Texas, the film takes a look at Melissa’s broken childhood, her adult life plagued by poverty and prejudice, and the miscarriage of justice Melissa faced, from the court appointed attorney who willingly set aside evidence, to the District attorney who used her case to help his re-election. THE STATE OF TEXAS VS. MELISSA is the portrait of a woman’s fight against an entire system. Director Sabrina Van Tassel joins us for a conversation on the draconian nature of justice in the state of Texas and how the chance to prove that the accused can pass a point of no return.
Official Selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival
About the filmmaker – Director Sabrina Van Tassel is a French American film director and a journalist. As an investigative reporter she has directed over 45 documentary films for the last 15 years for major television programs. Focusing mainly on social and politically motivated matters such as women forced into marriage, underage sex trafficking, post-traumatic stress, children in the white nationalist movement, women in prison and the holocaust. THE SILENCED WALLS (2015) was her first documentary theatrically released. Critically acclaimed by the French press, it told her journey to discover the history of the Drancy camp, the biggest internment camp, turned into a social housing building at the end of the war.
“That Sabrina Van Tassel is able to convey the bafflingly wide array of information available in a fairly calm and reasonable manner is an accomplishment in itself.” – Andrea Thompson, A Reel of One’s Own
Erik Nelson’s latest documentary Apocalypse ‘45 draws upon over 700 reels of footage from the National Archives covering the harrowing expanse of the final months of the War in the Pacific. Very little of this material has ever been screened, and none of it has ever been digitally restored, frame by frame, to 4K. Because of Apocalypse ‘45 another treasure was uncovered and restored — astonishing new footage captured by legendary director John Ford. In essence, a “lost film” by Ford, it depicts the ruins of the Pacific Fleet, and the terrible aftermath of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Also driving the narrative of Apocalypse ‘45 are recently completed interviews with two dozen men who lived through these nightmarish events. All of these men were in their mid to late 90’s, with the oldest, B-29 pilot Thomas Vaucher, 101 years old at the time of his February 2020 interview. Apocalypse ‘45 documents events from the flag raising at Iwo Jima in February to the harrowing kamikaze attacks and vicious ground combat at Okinawa in April to the first test of the atomic bomb in the remote deserts of New Mexico on July 16th. In addition, we witness the air war over Japan in the summer of 1945, and perhaps most astonishingly, the still burning ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when a U.S Army medical camera crew photographed the devastation to both the city and its inhabitants. Director Erik Nelson (Grizzly Man, A Gray State, Cave of Forgotten Dreams), joins us to talk about the recent discovery of “lost” film, access to hundreds of hours from the National Archive, his conversations with the men who fought in the Pacific and the fate of the American Empire.
“A stately, somber reminder of the soul-scarring god-awfulness of war and its catastrophic consequences, and a heartfelt salute to those who answered the call of something much bigger than themselves.” – Neil Pond, Parade Magazine
“Narrated by members of The Great Generation, this documentary about the final six months of the Pacific theater in World War II, contains startling archival film never before shown.” – Harvey S. Karten, Big Apple Reviews
ACCIDENTAL CLIMBER tells the story of Jim Geiger, a retired forest-ranger and amateur mountaineer from Sacramento, CA who at 68 years old, attempts to become the oldest American and first great grandfather to summit Mt. Everest. The world’s highest mountain is known to torture the mind, body, and soul of those who dare to do what few have ever achieved. ACCIDENTAL CLIMBER follows Jim as he embarks on a journey to transform from a weekend hiker to attempting one of the most extreme and physically demanding feats known to man. Driven by a desire to prove that age is just a number, Jim pushes his body to the limits in the quest to summit the world’s tallest mountain. What ensued however, was the worst disaster in mountaineering history, leaving sixteen climbers dead in a tragic avalanche and forever changing Jim’s life. Director Steven Oritt joins us to talk about getting to know Jim Geiger, working through the multiple challenges of shooting in high altitude and Jim Geiger talks about the rigors of climbing in the Himalayans and the emotionally wrenching experience he witnessed during his journey to conquer the world’s highest peak.
“Succinct but affecting, Accidental Climber serves as a gentle reminder that age really is just a number, and sometimes it’s not about achieving your dreams, it’s about the pursuit of them.” – Alex Saveliev, Film Threat
The 2008 financial crisis seemed to hit the American landscape out of nowhere. But in reality, it was both the inevitable conclusion to 40 years of Wall Street misconduct, and a warning for the meltdown that threatens to engulf us now. In the gripping original five-part docu-series THE CON, filmmaker Patrick Lovell investigates what happened, beginning with personal stories — including the foreclosure of his own Utah home, and the suicide of a 91-year-old African American widow in Akron, Ohio — before zooming out to examine the corrupt systems that doomed the United States to government funded bailouts that would only perpetuate a predatory system. Lovell also looks back to when the government properly functioned for the people it represented by holding banks accountable during the Great Depression and rescuing the country from the S&L Crisis of the late 1980s. Through interviews with those inside the 2008 crisis — regulators, former officials, foreclosure victims, industry whistleblowers, and journalists — Lovell and writer-director Eric Vaughan connect the dots to what America used to be, and most crucially, where we’re going in 2020, as nearly 40 million Americans are claiming unemployment by summer 2020. Amongst the many heartbreaks and horrors of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cracks that it exposed in the fragile financial tapestry of the world’s biggest economy are more evidence that THE CON is still on. Producer Patrick Lovell joins us to talk about THE CON’s sweeping inquiry into the blatant criminality perpetrated by the country’s most powerful financial and real estate interests colluding to bilk millions of Americans out of trillions of dollars, robbing them of their most important assets, pensions and housing.
THE CUBAN tells the story of nineteen-year-old Mina Ayoub, (Ana Golja) a pre-med student who has given up her dream of becoming a singer. Orphaned as a baby in Afghanistan, Mina’s grandfather sent her to Canada at the age of eight to live with a lone aunt, Bano (Shohreh Agdashloo). Mina longs to return to a better time when, as a child, she and her grandfather would sing and play music together. Thanks to Bano, Mina has a part-time job in a long-term care home. It’s there that Mina meets the withdrawn and enigmatic resident Luis (Louis Gossett Jr.). Luis spends his time in a wheelchair in a quiet corner of the room, retreated inside his own mind. Mina brings a record player into his room. Luis reacts, reminisces, dances, reveals his incredible life as a famous musician in Cuba, and talks about the one great love who was left behind. THE CUBAN is a celebration and exploration of the power of music to connect and reset people’s outlook on life. Director, Producer and Co-screenwriter Sergio Navarretta joins us to talk about his warm-hearted tale of people in search of place and end up on a musical journey of love, friendship and the power of imagination.
About the filmmaker: Sergio Navarretta made his directorial debut with LOOKING FOR ANGELINA, a true crime feature that tells the story of one of the most sensational murder cases in North American history. LOOKING FOR ANGELINA won numerous awards, was showcased at festivals around the world, played to sold-out theatres in fifteen Canadian cities, and ranked amongst the top five in box office revenues for Canadian films at the time. Navarretta’s follow-up feature, THE COLOSSAL FAILURE OF THE MODERN RELATIONSHIP, starring Enrico Colantoni (“Just Shoot Me”). Between features, Navarretta has directed a number of award-winning short films, including THE FORTUNE COOKIE, OVER A SMALL CUP OF COFFEE and EN PLEIN AIR, an homage to the Group of Seven. He also worked as a producer, service producer and executive producer under his own company banner, S.N.A.P. Films Inc., as well as for various international clients. He executive produced (for Canada) the sci-fi movie, ANDRON starring Danny Glover and Alec Baldwin. He is an executive producer of the biopic LAMBORGHINI, starring Alec Baldwin and Antonio Banderas, and was a consulting producer on TRADING PAINT, starring John Travolta. Navarretta is proud to have executive produced and overseen all aspects of production and casting for the star-studded animated theatrical feature ARCTIC DOGS, now on Netflix, featuring Jeremy Renner, James Franco, Anjelica Huston, Alec Baldwin, John Cleese and Heidi Klum.
Winner – Audience Favorite Award – Pan African Film Festival 2020
Winner – Special Programmers’ Award – Pan African Film Festival 2020
Winner – Best Cinematography in a Borsos Competition Film – Whistler Film Festival 2019
Runner up – Audience Award – Whistler Film Festival 2019
Official Selection – Sonoma Film Fesstival 2020
“Perhaps sensing that the rest of his story – mostly focusing around the earnest do-goodery of Golja’s aide – falls emotionally flat, Navarretta lavishes attention on his two marquee players, creating tiny moments of poignancy.” – Barry Hertz, Globe and Mail
THE CURRENT OCCUPANT drops us into a mysterious psychiatric ward, where a man named Henry Cameron, with no memory comes to learn that he is the President of the United States and the subject of a diabolical political conspiracy. As the asylum’s soul-crushing forces bear down on him, he fights to preserve his sanity and escape so that he can return to power. THE CURRENT OCCUPANT is part of the Blumhouse anthology, INTO THE DARK, currently airing on HULU with each episode tied to the relevant holiday. The film is loosely tied to 4th of July. The story is a timely, edge-of-your-seat-until-the-very-end thriller that is part SHUTTER ISLAND meets BLACK MIRROR. THE CURRENT OCCUPANT features a number of terrific performances anchored by Barry Watson as “President” Henry Cameron, as well as Sonita Henry, Marvin Jones III, and Lilli Birdsell. Director Julius Ramsay stops by to talk about his creative process and how his background as a film editor informs his eye for filmmaking as well as the cinematic influences that echo throughout this taut thriller.
About the filmmakers: Julius Ramsay is a critically acclaimed film and television director. His latest feature, THE CURRENT OCCUPANT, is a mind-bending, psychedelic horror film about a man trapped in a mysterious psychiatric ward with no memory who comes to believe that he’s the President of the United States and the subject of a diabolical political conspiracy. Produced by Blumhouse as a Hulu Original, it was released on Hulu in July 2020. Julius made his directorial debut with MIDNIGHTERS, a taut psychological thriller centered on a troubled marriage that explodes in an emotional bloodbath over the course of a single night. The film won numerous accolades, including the top prize at the Ravenna Film Festival, and garnered rave reviews at the Los Angeles Film Festival. In 2018, MIDNIGHTERS was distributed by IFC and is currently available on Hulu.Julius spent five years working as an editor and director on THE WALKING DEAD, the highest rated series in the history of cable television. His directorial work for television ranges from the science fiction series KRYPTON for David Goyer’s Phantom Four and Warner Horizon, to the adaptation of the blockbuster franchise THE PURGE for Blumhouse/NBCUniversal. His additional directorial credits include OUTCAST for Cinemax and SCREAM for The Weinstein Co & MTV. Prior to his career as a director, Julius was nominated for three Primetime Emmy awards for his work as an editor on such groundbreaking series as ALIAS and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. For more on the filmmaker: juliusramsay.com
“While the latest Into The Dark installment is bleak and will crush your hopes, it’ll have you wondering about conspiracies, reality, and what really happens when the institutions that are established to help us actually end up harming us instead.’ – Sarah Musnicky, Nightmarish Conjurings
When he was only eight, Guor Mading Maker (formally known as Guor Marial) ran from captivity in war-torn Sudan to eventually seek safety in the US. In his new life, Maker began running again, participating in high school track and field and eventually becoming a sensation and qualifying for the 2012 Olympics. But because the newly formed South Sudan was not recognized by the International Olympic Committee, Maker had to fight to compete independently, refusing to run for Sudan and taking a stand against its oppression. RUNNER depicts Maker’s difficult and triumphant journey from refugee to a world-renowned athlete, told in intimate interviews with gorgeously animated flashbacks of Guor’s upbringing, and culminating in a heart-wrenching reunion with his parents after a 20-year separation. His story is a distinctly inspirational one in which the indomitable human spirit emerges against all odds. Director Bill Gallagher joins us to talk about the indomitable spirit of Guor Mading Maker and how the hope he has for “the world’s newest” country and love of his family have fueled his determination for finish his race.
About the filmmaker: BILL GALLAGHER is the director and producer of the award-winning documentary RUNNER that is currently playing at festivals around the world. He was the line producer for the Academy Award nominated documentary IF A TREE FALLS (Sundance), and Production Manager on the documentary RACING DREAMS (Tribeca – Best Documentary). Both films were in theaters and broadcasted on BBC and PBS. Originally from outside of Boston in the United States, he is now living in Madrid, Spain. He studied Documentary Media at The New School and has lectured on documentary production at the University of Navarra in Spain. RUNNER is his first film as director.
In her searingly insightful latest documentary, All That I Am, Director Tone Grøttjord-Glenne drops us into the life of eighteen year old Emilie Andrea. After five years in the foster system, she is returning to her family home to rebuild a fractured relationship with her mother and younger half-siblings. Over the next two years a determined Emilie begins to heal the trauma that haunts her, learns to speak her truth aloud, and takes her first steps towards a self-determined future. Now Emilie must gather the courage to reveal to her half-siblings the reason their father was imprisoned and their sister went away. Told with a commitment to emotional insight and dedication to Emilie’s subjective experience, this is the story of an extraordinarily courageous young woman on the cusp of adulthood finding the voice that was long denied to her. Director Tone Grøttjord-Glenne joins us for conversation on embedding herself into the lives of Emilie and her family, how a well intentioned Norwegian justice and welfare system can sometimes do more harm than good and the reception her remarkably intimate look at trauma, struggle and healing has received in her native country of Norway and the recent North American premiere at the HotDocs film festival.
About the filmmaker – Tone Grøttjord-Glenne has a master’s degree in direction from the National Film and Television School in England, and both her graduation film Brother (2003) and her debut film Prirechnyy won numerous awards, both in Norway and internationally. In 2005 she founded Sant & Usant with a vision of creating an environment for documentary film that had room to discuss both images and visual storytelling. Sant & Usant has produced several award-winning documentaries since then. Together with co-owner and producer Anita Rehoff Larsen, she has produced Bravehearts (2012), When the Boys Return (2012 ), I Am Kuba (2014),Maiko – Dancing Child (2015) and 69 Minutes of 86 Days (2017), among others. Currently she is directing Norway’s first Netflix Original, Sisters on Track, and is executive director on Gunda, which premiered at the Berlinale earlier this year, as well as working on the impact project for a cinematic release of ALL THAT I AM.
“Gorgeously shot, expertly paced, and overwhelmingly emotional documentary All That I Am is the kind of film you hope everyone sees because it might make the world a more understanding and empathetic place.” – The Gate
“Tone Grottjord-Glenne directs this emotionally touching Norwegian documentary with a powerful appreciation of the lasting damage of sexual abuse on children and those closest to them.” – Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat. Spirituality and Practice
FERAL tells the story of Yasmine (Annapurna Sriram), a homeless woman living in the tunnels underneath Manhattan’s West Side. Surviving on her own terms while trying to build a new life alone, she is reeling from the loss of her mother, who was deported when she was 16. Older now, Yasmine, struggles to rise from poverty as the perils of the underground fill her with despair. Along her journey, Yasmine meets a cast of characters and real New York personalities, each living in their own form of exile: a lonely piano player who’s never played his music out loud; a mother who regrets the birth of her six-year-old; a lonely grandmother nostalgic for her salsa music past and the Mission who is there to help, but only if she’s willing to play by their rules. Based on actual stories of living underground and working with former homeless individuals, FERAL peers deep into Yasmine’s emotional reality, staring this bold young woman directly in the eyes as she struggles to carry on. Lead actor Annapurna Sriram stops by to talk about her theatre background, adapting to working in a cramped, underground setting and collaborating with director and writer Andrew Wonder.
About – Annapurna Sriram, (Yasmine) Nashville-born actor, writer, and director, landed her first agent at thirteen in Nashville, Tennessee. After turning eighteen, Annapurna left Nashville and headed to Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts, where she studied for a year at London at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, and was chosen to perform as part of the Sam Wanamaker Festival. Recent stage credits include the origination of “Reshma” in Jesse Eisenberg’s “The Spoils,” which was directed by Scott Elliot for The New Group and later reprising that role on the West End in London and Wallace Shawn’s United States premiere of “Evening at the Talkhouse.” 2019 has been a banner year for Annapurna, as two of her projects have been getting international attention. Her performance in the 2019 film Feral was her first lead role in a narrative feature film, and after its premiere at the Sarasota Film Festival, the film has been featured at the Sidewalk Film Festival, Bushwick Festival (where she won the Best Actor Award), and The Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema World Film Festival garnering excellent accolades from critics for her work. Her short film, Dom, won the Sidewalk Film Festival as “Best Narrative Short,” and has been programmed at the Brooklyn Film Festival, LES Film Festival, Indie Memphis, and the Cucalorus Film Festival. Annapurna resides in New York City, where she is currently working on films as writer, director and actor.
“Sriram is extraordinary in her role as Yazmine and carries the film on her own.” – Deirdre Crimmins, High Def Digest
“Sriram gives an amazing, empathic, and heartfelt performance. ” – Tim Murr, Biff Bam Pop
“Annapurna Sriram is truly captivating as Yasmine. Her striking beauty is juxtaposed with her fierce attitude, but as the film progresses she also exhibits a serene spirituality coupled with a heartbreaking vulnerability. Like a force of nature in her own right, she flows and crashes into other denizens of the city. ” – Alec I. Gillis, Lewton Bus
“Sriram’s performance is exceptional; she completely embodies Yazmine, in her moments of loneliness, self-entertainment, brutality, pain, and brief moments of joy. We never doubt her completeness as a character, even if our view of her ranges from sympathy to anger to laughter. ” – Shelagh Rowan-Legg, Screen Anarchy
FERAL tells the story of Yasmine (Annapurna Sriram), a homeless woman living in the tunnels underneath Manhattan’s West Side. Surviving on her own terms while trying to build a new life alone, she is reeling from the loss of her mother, who was deported when she was 16. Older now, Yasmine, struggles to rise from poverty as the perils of the underground fill her with despair. Along her journey, Yasmine meets a cast of characters and real New York personalities, each living in their own form of exile: a lonely piano player who’s never played his music out loud; a mother who regrets the birth of her six-year-old; a lonely grandmother nostalgic for her salsa music past and the Mission who is there to help, but only if she’s willing to play by their rules. Based on actual stories of living underground and working with former homeless individuals, FERAL peers deep into Yasmine’s emotional reality, staring this bold young woman directly in the eyes as she struggles to carry on. Director, producer, writer and cinematographer Andrew Wonder joins us fr a deep dive into the inspiration for Feral, his journey as a filmmaker, working with Paul Schrader and his organic approach to making one of the year’s best films.
Director’s Statement –Yet for as many people as the tunnels beneath New York City represent fear, there are the few who see it as freedom. FERAL is inspired by my experiences underground and living with mole people in New York. To explore this world, our story revolves around the journey of a young homeless woman, Yasmine, living in the tunnels beneath the West Side (same as the one featured in Dark Days) in the days leading up to a blizzard. Within a month our key crew of four, cast of professional and non professional actors including former homeless people as well as those who work in the system, came together to create what we want to be an exploration of invisibility and the masks we put on when we face the world. The story is told, through the lens of a homeless woman, Yasmine, who only feels safe underground. – Andrew Wonder
“With its staggeringly beautiful cinematography of down-and-dirty New York and a layered central performance, Adam Wonder’s debut feature is a complex and dynamic look at social outliers and how we find the means to survive.” – Chloe Leeson, Screen Queens
“Feral is a sobering and introspective journey into depression and isolation associated with life in the city, but it also presents a powerful social parable as the secret behind the protagonist’s sorrowful predicament is revealed.” – VyceVictus, Lewton Bus
Terrence McNally, Every Act Of Life, tells the story of the groundbreaking life and work of 5-time Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally: a personal journey through 6-decades of the American theatre, the struggle for LGBT rights, triumph over addiction, the power of the arts to shape society, and finding love and inspiration at all ages. F. Murray Abraham, Audra McDonald, Christine Baranski, Edie Falco, Nathan Lane, Angela Lansbury, Rita Moreno and others weigh in on the pioneering playwright’s influential career, and speak frankly of his struggles as well as his monumental successes. The voices of Dan Bucatinsky, Bryan Cranston and Meryl Streep are also featured. Intimate conversations with the late McNally complete this essential portrait of the four-time Tony winner and 2019 recipient of the Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. Playwright, librettist, scriptwriter and outspoken LGBTQ activist Terrence McNally died of coronavirus complications in April 2020 at age 81. American Masters and the filmmaking team explored McNally’s six-decade career through the intimate and revealing documentary. Director Jeff Kaufman and Producer Marcia Ross join us for a look back at one of the greatest playwrights in American theatre history.
About the filmmakers: Jeff Kaufman produced, directed, and wrote the documentaries Every Act Of Life (2018 Tribeca premiere, aired June 2019 on American Masters), The State of Marriage, Father Joseph, The Savoy King: Chick Webb and the Music That Changed America, Brush With Life: The Art of Being Edward Biberman, and Education Under Fire, plus a number of short films for Amnesty International, and programs for The Discovery Channel, and The History Channel. He also edited/designed a book based on the film Every Act Of Life, contributed cartoons to The New Yorker, and illustrations to The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, wrote/illustrated several children’s books, and hosted daily radio shows in Vermont and Los Angeles.
Marcia S. Ross produced the documentaries Every Act Of Life, The State of Marriage, Father Joseph, and The Savoy King. Additionally she has an over 3-decade career as an independent casting director and casting executive, serving 16 years as EVP for Casting at Walt Disney Motion Pictures, and 5 years as VP for Casting and Talent Development at Warner Brothers TV. Some of her film and television credits include Clueless, Cujo, thirtysomething, Murder in Mississippi, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Princess Diaries, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, The Lookout, Enchanted, Oblivion, and Parental Guidance. She has received career achievement awards from the Casting Society of America and the Hollywood Film Festival.
91% on Rotten Tomatoes
The Ghost of Peter Sellers is a comic-tragic feature doc about what it takes to be a film director and survive your biggest disaster. After 43 years the wounds have barely healed for Director Peter Medak (The Ruling Class, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, Romeo is Bleeding) and this is his opportunity to tell the story and finally release the weight associated with its failure. At its core lies the story of an unraveling production but also the tale of a young Director firmly on a path to greatness. Medak had made 3 back-to-back successes; most notably ‘The Ruling Class’ in 1972 with Peter O’Toole. This film changed his career forever. In September 1973 Peter Sellers embarked on the production of a 17th Century pirate comedy in Cyprus for Columbia Pictures (Ghost in the Noonday Sun). Structured around the original director Peter Medak and his journey back to the island 42 years later, The Ghost of Peter Sellers is a timeline of events supported by eye-opening and heart-felt interviews with remaining cast members, production staff, Cypriot locals and others from the world of filmmaking. From Los Angeles to New York, from London to Cyprus, Medak recaptures what it was like to work with the genius talents of Sellers and Milligan whilst explaining the saga of the Pirate film and how such a brilliant and funny idea could go so terribly wrong and become a total disaster. Director Peter Medak joins us for a candid conversation on the toll the making of his star-crossed film took on him professionally, personally and psychologically and where he is today.
About the Director – Peter Medak is an award-winning international Film Director. Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1937. In 1956 he fled to England at the age of 18 during the famous uprising against the communist regime. He studied and worked his way through by being an assistant editor, assistant cameraman and eventually a 3rd, 2nd and 1st assistant Director on some of the most remarkable British Films of the late 50’s and early 60’s. He was fortunate enough to work with some of the most legendary British film Directors such as Sir Carol Reed, Anthony Asquith, Fred Zimmerman and many others. In 1967 he went under contract with Paramount Studios where he directed his first feature film called Negatives with Glenda Jackson in her first ever film. He then proceeded making two highly acclaimed black comedies: A day in the death of Joe Egg (starring Alan Bates and Janet Suzman) and The Ruling Class (Starring Peter O’ Toole) for which he received an Academy Award Nomination. Since that time he has Directed a great number of feature films on both sides of the Atlantic starring Peter Sellers, Alan Bates, George C Scott, Richard Harris, Gary Oldman, Ted Danson and many more. In recent years Peter has made The Krays which won him The Evening Standard Award for “Best Director in England”. Then he made Let Him Have It, Romeo is Bleeding, The Men’s Club etc. In addition, he has directed a great number of television plays, mini-series, films for television, operas and stage productions over the past 50 years of his directing career and continues today.
“The director has made a documentary that’s both a mea culpa for his role in a botched enterprise that left no one looking good and an affecting attempt to define a life’s turning point.” – Todd McCarthy. Hollywood Reporter
“Deeply entertaining and profoundly moving, The Ghost of Peter Sellers offers a slice of forgotten movie history that, it turns out, is well worth remembering.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail
“Many times throughout the documentary, Medak’s friends and associated ask him why he’s making this film. Like those tragic moments in our lives, we have to re-live it and confront it in order to move on with life.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat
“The Ghost of Peter Sellers beautifully allows the guilt-ridden director to exorcise his demons; against himself, against Sellers and against the film itself, within this surprisingly eloquent contemplation of a well-intentioned misfire.” – Alex Lines, Film Inquiry
Inspired by actual crime. Set in the streets of Las Vegas, away from the strip, PUNCHING AND STEALING is an action comedy vigilante film about Sam Bransby (Ryan Churchill), a young man that becomes jaded and uses violence to get back his dad’s stolen pension money from corporate suits under the direction of his hitman boss (Melvin Rodriguez) in their organization, “Pension Recovery Force”. As fate would have it, as he turns to the dark side (with humor) in his vigilante faction, he meets the love of his life, Jen (Jenny Vilim). As hard as he tries to keep it a secret from her, his vigilante world and love life collide. He attempts to convince her to be his wing-woman but her moral code prohibits her from joining Sam’s underground faction of “beating people until they’re unrecognizable.” A modern day indie caper taking place over 13 years both in plot and film. Co-director, co-producer and lead actor Ryan Churchill stops by to talk about a personal connection to the origin story for his oft-kilter, high-energy comedy and how he pulled together a terrific supporting cast that pushed PUNCHING AND STEALING into a higher trajectory.
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Set centuries apart but in the same place, OVID AND THE ART OF LOVE tellsthe story of the renowned Roman poet Ovid, whose comic verses and permissive lifestyle provoked the brutal Emperor Augustus’s ire. As Ovid and the emperor’s granddaughter – thrown together by fate – race to escape execution, Ovid’s story asks: In a world of unrest, is love the most radical act of all? Bringing together togas, high-tops, oration, poetry slams and hip-hop, this film tells a timely story about power, pleasure and politics. Strong women characters clamor for respect and a better place in society. All is set amongst the faded beauty of modern Detroit’s neoclassical architecture. Corbin Bleu (High School Musical) masterfully transforms into the poet Ovid, whose work has been cherished for over 2,000 years, while John Savage (The Deer Hunter) gives an electrifying performance as Augustus, Ovid’s conflicted nemesis. Tara Summers (Mercy Street, Boston Legal) plays Julia, Augustus’s tough, rebellious daughter, and Tamara Feldman (Gossip Girl, Hatchet) is the emperor’s activist granddaughter. Also starring Joseph McKenna (Shutter Island, 12 Monkeys) and Lailani Ledesma (Comedy Central’s Detroiters). Director and writer Esmé von Hoffman joins us to talk about her decision to recast this tale of a free-thinking Roman artist speaking truth to power as a modern parable.
About the filmmaker – Esmé von Hoffman: With a background in theater, journalism and visual arts, Esmé von Hoffman brings a fresh aesthetic to film to create a unique and topical world. An American-German dual citizen, born and raised in the U.S., Esmé has directed several shorts and has worked as a film editor on Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip, and Desiree Akhavan’s Appropriate Behavior and as a producer. She received a Sudler Fund for the Arts grant for her 16 mm film “Oblivion” and was commissioned to produce and direct a series of short documentaries, including one profiling three editors at The New York Times. Esmé was president of the Yale Film Society, where she oversaw visits of industry leaders including David Lynch, Alexander Payne and Doug Wick. She recently served as Director of the Filmmaking Program at The Edit Center in New York City.
“Though Detroit may seem like an unusual backdrop for a classic story of government intrigue, politicking, and romance, the urban setting works … attracting an aware, woke audience who are almost certainly overdue for discovery of the charms of a 2000 year old poet.” – Picture This Post
“Corbin Bleu masterfully transforms into the poet Ovid, whose work has been cherished for over 2,000 years, while John Savage gives an electrifying performance as Augustus, Ovid’s conflicted nemesis.”– Vimooz
“Such a novel film … extremely entertaining and enlightening… ”– Debbie Elias, Behind the Lens, Adrenaline Radio
“Writer/director Esme von Hoffman has taken the risk of trying to blend the customs and costumes of Ancient Rome with the vibe of 21st century America … giving viewers a sometimes quirky, sometimes humorous, and sometimes brutal film that is unlike most of the fare on today’s big screens.” – Theatre Byte
Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student. Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own – between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive. The Apple+TV limited drama series is a gripping, character-driven thriller based on the 2012 New York Times best selling novel of the same name by William Landay. Creator and Executive Producer Mark Bomback joins us to talk about how he and his creative team, including director Morten Tyldum, brought this complex and nuanced tale to life.
“One thing that’s evident from the outset is that all of the actors are perfect for their roles. Jaeden Martell, in particular, is still a young actor, but he handles the dark material with ease, and I appreciated the way the journey began with him.” – Paul Dailly, TV Fanatic
“Chris Evans does some of the best work of his career as Andy… He expertly conveys Andy’s desperate, ferocious need to protect his son, his genuine love for his wife – and the haunting memories that jolt him awake in the middle of the night.” – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
“The pilot does a remarkable job of building up the situation and its main players, but leaving enough in a nebulous spot that there’s still some doubt and some questions to dig deeper into.” – Kevin Lever, Tell-Tale TV
Inspired by a couple of true presidential corpse stories: the 1876 plot to steal Abraham Lincoln’s body, and the exhumation of Zachary Taylor in 1991, RAISING BUCHANAN took the idea of presidential corpse stealing to extraordinary lengths of dark comedy delight with terrible dead presidents. Because there’s certainly something to be learned from terrible presidents, as well as laughing at them. Finding their inspiration in the off-kilter tone of the dramatically rooted comedies of Alexander Payne, the Coen Brothers, and Hal Ashby, the RAISING BUCHANAN stars Amanda Melby (Candid Camera), René Auberjonois (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Cathy Shim (Reno 911!), Robert Ben Garant (Reno 911!), Terence Bernie Hines (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), Jennifer Pfalzgraff (21 Grams), Steve Briscoe (Covet), Lynnette ‘L.A.’ Brown (Kerry and Angie), and M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner). Produced by Melby and Joe Gruberman (Eleven Eleven), this award-winning feature film swept the film festival circuit racking up multiple awards, including: Best Feature, Best Dramedy, Best Actress (Melby) and Best Screenplay (Bruce Dellis), among others. Creator and lead actor Amanda Melby stops by for a lively conversation on her wryly funny and endearing film, Raising Buchanan, and her collaboration with the late, great René Auberjonois.
“Surely, Buchanan was never going to earn the kind of cinematic lionization that so many American filmmaking greats (like Steven Spielberg and John Ford) gave to good old Abe Lincoln, but he could have done a whole lot worse than this.” – Nick Rocco Scalia. Film Threat
Co-written by experimental filmmakers James N. Kienitz Wilkins and Robin Schavoir (who, along with Paul Dallas, served as producers), The Plagiarists is at once a hilarious send-up of low-budget American indie filmmaking and a probing inquiry into race, relationships, and the social uncanny. A young novelist (Lucy Kaminsky) and her cinematographer boyfriend (Eamon Monaghan) are waylaid by a snowstorm on their way to visit a friend in upstate New York and are taken in by the kindly yet enigmatic Clip (Michael “Clip” Payne of Parliament Funkadelic), who puts them up for the night. But an accidental discovery months later recasts in an unnerving light what had seemed like an agreeable evening, stoking resentments both latent and not-so-latent. Exhilaratingly intelligent and distinctively shot on a vintage TV-news camera, The Plagiarists is a work whose provocations are inseparable from its pleasures. Screenwriters James N. Kienitz Wilkins and Robin Schavoir join us to talk about whip-smart project, as well as their creative process, white privilege, blending together acting styles and Dogma 95.
Background – The Plagiarists is a dramatic comedy about the clash of money and culture, reality and desire, race and identity. It’s a social satire about who has the privilege to say what in today’s world. It was conceived as a playful critique of the mannerisms of “indie film” used by aspiring filmmakers to denote authenticity of performance, often resulting in the casual perpetuation of stereotypes. The Plagiarists is at once the thing it mimics: a completely independent micro-budget feature shot entirely on vintage news cameras from the 1980s, despite a contemporary subject matter. The camera cited in the story is also the production camera, recording on real Betacam SP videotape (sourced from eBay) to create a visual style reflecting the internal debate over obsolescence, nostalgia, and the heavy weight of originality.
“Its crude imagery and the sharp editing that implicitly contradicts it are deliberate components of a termite-like digging into the permutations of postmodern cultural work.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times
“The film improves upon reflection, raising, as it does, some knotty questions about originality in art and in life, as well as provocatively positing that even a copy of a copy of a copy has the potential to move hearts and minds.” – Keith Uhlich, Hollywood Reporter
For 35-plus years, the gay porn shop Circus of Books gave Los Angeles’ LGBT+ community a space to socialize and celebrate themselves without judgment. Unbeknownst to many customers, the store was cultivated by owners Karen and Barry Mason, a straight, mainstream couple with three children who went to religious school and were unaware of their parents’ business. The Masons long refused to disclose the nature of their business to friends or family. While maintaining the secret, they witnessed the dawn of the HIV/AIDS epidemic firsthand, losing a generation of treasured employees. Still, during that time, they never identified https://www.netflix.com/title/81011569as activists — just everyday entrepreneurs catering to a market, until the Internet destroyed it. Executive produced by Ryan Murphy, CIRCUS OF BOOKS is the debut documentary from artist Rachel Mason, who finally asks the least radical people she knows — her parents — how they became America’s biggest distributors of gay porn, and why Karen reacted so negatively when her own son came out of the closet.Director and daughter Rachel Mason joins us to talk her parents, her brothers, her own story and the impact her family’s business had on a community fighting to survive.
About the filmmaker – Rachel Mason is an artist, musician and filmmaker from Los Angeles. Mason has recorded 13 albums, has toured, exhibited sculpture, video and performance at the Whitney Museum, Queens Museum, LACMA, Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art, School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Henry Gallery in Seattle, James Gallery at CUNY, University Art Museum in Buffalo, Sculpture Center, Hessel Museum of Art at Bard and Occidental College, Kunsthalle Zurich, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, The New Museum, Park Avenue Armory, Art in General, La Mama, Galapagos, Dixon Place, and Empac Center for Performance in Troy among other venues. Reviews include New York Times, Village Voice, Los Angeles Times, Flash Art, Art in America, Art News, and Artforum. Her album and feature film, The Lives of Hamilton Fish. has toured festivals and museums internationally and was released in 2016.
98% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Circus of Books is the story of an American family who wandered into the eye of history, and a virtuoso example of how to make a movie both very big and very small at once.” – Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic
“A RARE DELIGHT – AND A NEARLY PERFECT DOCUMENTARY. Mason keeps a thread of tension taut throughout, never losing sight of the contradictions between her parents’ work and their home life.” – Jude Dry, IndieWire
“VERY FUNNY, VERY MOVING. The filmmaker does right by front-loading most of the snicker-worthy scenes. She knows that even the most open-minded among us need to get past a certain level of shock and incredulity to see Karen and Barry as the beautiful, and beautifully complicated, people they are.” – Keith Uhlich, The Hollywood Reporter
“Circus of Books tells this complex and enthralling story, about the rise and fall of their family business, with a unique specificity. It’s Mason’s lack of distance from the subject — in fact, it’s that she, too, is part of the story — that makes the picture soar with intimacy.” – Tre’vell Anderson, OUT