A Thousand Cuts, Director Ramona S. Diaz

Award-wining filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz’s latest documentary, A THOUSAND CUTS, is a blistering indictment of a free press and democracy are under attack in the Philippines. In the face of journalist Maria Ressa and founder of the on-line news site Rappler is holding the line and fighting back against President Rodrigo Duterte’s escalating threats of assignation and death. Duterte smear tactics and threats against Ressa (discredit journalists/media, spread misinformation, attacks on social media) are similar to what other authoritarian leaders are now using against the press. Duterte’s war on truth and journalism has become a blueprint for other authoritarian regimes around the world. A THOUSAND CUTS spotlights Ressa’s fight for justice in the country is ongoing as she was found guilty of cyber libel last month in a blatant attempt to silence one of the most outspoken critics of the Philippine President. The alarming result is not only an attack on Democracy in the Philippines, but also a warning shot to the rest of the world. Ressa’s lawyer Amal Clooney (also featured in the film) recently penned this Op-Ed  last month underscoring the implications of this trial. Director, Producer, Writer and Co-editor Ramona S. Diaz (Motherland, Imelda) joins us to talk about the suffocating pressure being brought to bear on journalists, her admiration for those who remain committed to a free press and the hope she has for her beloved homeland. 

 

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For news and updates go to: athousandcuts.film

For screenings go to: athousandcuts.film/watch-screenings

Produced by Concordia Studio and Motto Pictures, A THOUSAND CUTS will release nationwide in virtual cinemas on August 7th via PBS Distribution / Frontline PBS.

About the filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz is an award-winning Asian American filmmaker whose films have screened at Sundance, the Berlinale, Tribeca, the Viennale, IDFA, and many other top-tier film festivals. All of Ramona’s feature-length films—Imelda (2004), The Learning (2011), Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey (2012) and, Motherland (2017)—have been broadcast on PBS, on either the POV or Independent Lens series. Motherland won an award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and had its international premiere at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival. It was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for best Documentary, a Peabody Award, and a Gaward Urian Award from the Filipino Film Critics. She has received funding from ITVS, Sundance, CAAM, Tribeca, Catapult Film Fund, Chicken & Egg, MacArthur Foundation, the IDA, Cinereach and Creative Capital, among others. For the past four years, Ramona has been a film envoy for the American Film Showcase, a joint program of the U.S. Department of State and the USC School of Cinematic Arts that brings American films to audiences worldwide. She has conducted master classes and production workshops all over the world. Ramona was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship and was inducted into the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) in 2016, and in 2017 received a Women at Sundance Fellowship and a Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Filmmaker Award. She is a current recipient of a United States Artist Fellowship. Ramona is a graduate of Emerson College and holds an MA from Stanford University.

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Winner – Best Documentary – DocEdge 2020

“[This] engrossing, galvanizing film feels more like a political thriller than an off-the-cuff investigation into embattled journalism in the Philippines, but Ressa’s seemingly boundless energy, good humor, and intelligence make her basically a power plant for the manufacture of inspiration in embattled times.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety

“A Thousand Cuts provides an expansive, revealing look at the current Filipino political situation, and it doesn’t feel like it’s warning viewers about what will happen in America, so much as telling us what’s coming next.”- Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com

“Diaz creates a rousing paean to the bravery of Ressa and her colleagues, and a clarion call to action that we should all heed.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail

“A Thousand Cuts is a must see for those who care about freedom of the press, democracy, and the future of one particular country-our own.” – Max Weiss, Baltimore Magazine

Street Fighting Men, Director Andrew James

In a rapidly changing America where mass inequality and dwindling opportunity have devastated the black working class, three Detroit men must fight to build something lasting for themselves and future generations. STREET FIGHTING MEN takes a deep, observational dive into the lives of retired cop Jack Rabbit, who continues to patrol his own neighborhood as a citizen; Deris, who wants to further his education and serve as a role model for his baby daughter; and Luke, who labors mightily to rehab a dilapidated house while pulling together a meager living. Shot over three years in the neighborhoods of Detroit, STREET FIGHTING MEN is a story of hard work, faith and manhood in a community that never settles for defeat. STREET FIGHTING MEN takes place in the neighborhoods, where the real fight over Detroit’s future is being waged every day. For the people who live here, Detroit is not a blank slate, it is their home — where they have invested their lives, families, and memories. Director Andrew James joins us to talk about the grinding reality for people determined to do the right thing, get an education, provide for their families, promote a safe neighborhood, buy a home, but are faced with a crippling lack of resources or the opportunities to accomplish anything of last value.

 

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Watch Street Fighting Men at: ovid.tv/videos/street-fighting-men

Watch Street Fighting Men at: vimeo.com/ondemand/streetfightingmen

Director’s Statement – I became interested in making a film in Detroit after reading a Metro Times article about James “Jack Rabbit” Jackson. The article featured a picture of Jack Rabbit standing on a street corner at night with his partner, Keith, close behind him. The two men, Jack Rabbit in particular, had taken it upon themselves to be the neighborhood watch after the local police station shut down, and their story of resistance resonated with me. Jack Rabbit’s story and the struggle of his largely black working-class neighborhood is the story of our times. It has become increasingly hard to ignore how the US system is leaving behind poor, working-class and even middle-class people, many of whom are people of color, in favor of global economic interests. I wanted to create something personal and experiential, with an emphasis on the day-to-day, that could speak to this systemic decay of opportunity. I contacted Jack Rabbit and asked if we could meet. He was enthusiastic about the idea and excited to tell his story, and eager to help me understand the ups and downs of his neighborhood. After spending some time in Detroit and getting to know Jack Rabbit, we began shooting with Deris and Luke as well. It was then that I decided to move to Detroit – to capture their stories in real time. I felt that a longitudinal, fly on the wall style would allow me time to get to know the community better and find the story in collaboration with the subjects. This extended time allowed me to form close bonds with the three men, as well as others in the community, and it gave me a unique opportunity to tell their story in a very personal way. – Andrew James, Director/Editor/Cinematographer

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“Stories of the death and rebirth of [Detroit] are familiar, but Andrew James’s documentary conveys the experience of living there. From the beginning there’s an undercurrent of weariness, of the wear and tear of living in a place to which the rest of the world — or rather, the movie strongly implies, the white world, the money world — has grown indifferent.” – Glenn Kenny, The New York Times

“A painful but honest depiction of black life in urban Detroit, featuring multifaceted men striving against the odds. A portrait of black resilience and perseverance — without sentimentality — that stands in stark contrast to the one-dimensional stories of transformation, but still offers a way out of the dark.” – April Wolfe, Film Critic & Writer

“An incisive, intimate and enlightening cinematic gaze on Detroit, Street Fighting Men triumphs as an authentic story of resilience in a neighborhood that will never settle for defeat.” – Les Roka, The Utah Review

“For those curious about Detroit, this is one of the essential docs.” – Inney Prakash, Cinema Programmer, Maysles Documentary Center

The Infiltrators, Co-directors Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera

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

 

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

About the filmmakers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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