Ailey – Director Jamila Wignot

Alvin Ailey was a trailblazing pioneer who found salvation through dance. AILEY traces the full contours of this brilliant and enigmatic man whose search for the truth in movement resulted in enduring choreography that centers on the Black American experience with grace, strength, and unparalleled beauty. Told through Ailey’s own words and featuring evocative archival footage and interviews with those who intimately knew him, director Jamila Wignot weaves together a resonant biography of an elusive visionary. Many know the name Alvin Ailey, but how many know the man? Ailey’s commitment to  searching for truth in movement resulted in pioneering and enduring choreography that centers on African American experiences. Director Jamila Wignot’s resonant biography grants artful access to the elusive visionary who founded one of the world’s most renowned dance companies, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Director Jamila Wignot joins us to talk about the remarkably creative choreographer who never stopped searching for the truth and clarity of dance and how his desire to mentor and nurture others will insure an artistic legacy matched by few others.

For news, screenings and updates go to: neonrated.com/films/ailey

AILEY opens exclusively in New York and expands nationwide August 6

Director’s Statement – Nothing prepares you for the experience of Ailey—the emotional, spiritual, aural, and visual overwhelm the senses. As a filmmaker, I am drawn to stories about artists like Alvin Ailey—innovators who tenaciously follow their own voice and in doing redefined their chosen forms. Ailey’s dances—celebrations of African American beauty and history—did more than move bodies; they opened minds. His dances were revolutionary social statements that staked a claim as powerful in his own time as in ours: Black life is central to the American story and deserves a central place in American art and on the world stage. A working-class, gay, Black man, he rose to prominence in a society that made every effort to exclude him. He transformed the world of dance and made space for those of us on the margins—space for black artists like Rennie Harris and me. I am inspired by subjective documentary portraits like Tom Volf’s Maria by Callas and Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro, and by the poetic cinematic approaches of films such as Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight and Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven. My aim was to blend these influences into a sensorial, poetic documentary portrait.  – Jamila Wignot 

About the filmmaker – Jamila Wignot is a documentary filmmaker based in New York. Her directing work includes two episodes of the Peabody, Emmy and NAACP award-winning series The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (PBS), hosted by Henry Louis Gates and chronicling the five hundred year history of African Americans; Town Hall (co-directed with Sierra Pettingill), a feature-length co-production with ITVS following Tea Party activists determined to unseat Barack Obama; and, for PBS’s American Experience series, the Peabody Award-winning Triangle Fire and Emmy-nominated Walt Whitman. Jamila’s producing credits include W. Kamau Bell’s Bring The Pain (A&E); Sundance award-winning director Musa Syeed’s narrative feature A Stray (SXSW); Street Fighting Men, following the Black Detroiters fighting for the city they love; and The Rehnquist Revolution, the fourth episode of WNET’s series The Supreme Court, which was an IDA Best Limited Series winner.  – For more go to: insigniafilms.com/Ailey

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91% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Perhaps the greatest gift of this tightly conceived and beautiful doc lies in its appreciation of the divinity of dance.” – Lovia Gyarkye, Hollywood Reporter

“Wignot layers images, video and – most important – voice-overs from Ailey to create a portrait that feels as poetic and nuanced as choreography itself.” – Gia Kourlas, New York Times

“His legacy should be … how his dancers continue to breathe life into his choreography, a nod to his words. No one should miss Ailey. Though categorized as a documentary, the film captures creativity at its best.” – Wendy Shreve, Featuring Film

“Wignot masterfully weaves the present with the past in a way that causes her movie to surge with urgency.” – Oliver Jones, Observer

“Alvin Ailey sacrificed the pain, joy, and memorable moments of his life as a tapestry for his dance genius that lives with us always captured in a layered, emotional doc by Jamila Wignot” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic

Pray Away – Director Kristine Stolakis & Producer Anya Rous

Director Kristine Stolakis intimate and moving documentary, Pray Away, starts with the words “I lived transgender, but I left it all to follow Jesus.” So explains self-identified ‘ex-trans’ Jeffrey, whose belief that change is possible reflects the core message of the conversion therapy movement today. Former leaders of the “pray the gay away” movement contend with the aftermath unleashed by their actions, while a survivor seeks healing and acceptance from more than a decade of trauma From there, PRAY AWAY takes us back to the 1970s, five men struggling with being gay in their Evangelical church started a bible study to help each other leave the “homosexual lifestyle.” They quickly received over 25,000 letters from people asking for help and formalized as Exodus International, the largest and most controversial conversion therapy organization in the world. Julie is one of hundreds of thousands of people caught in Exodus’ wake. Former leaders of the “pray the gay away” movement contend with the aftermath unleashed by their actions, while a survivor seeks healing and acceptance from more than a decade of trauma. After years as Christian superstars in the religious right, Julie and many have come out as LGBTQ, disavowing the very movement they helped start. PRAY AWAY chronicles that movement’s rise to power, persistent influence, and the harm it causes. Director Kristine Stokalis and Producer Jessica Devaney join us to talk about the politicalization of gay rights in the 1980s by the Far Right led by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich and James Dobson, as well as the psychological, religious, cultural, and economic pressure brought to bear on people who live a non-conforming sexuality.

For news, screenings and update go to: prayawayfilm.com

Watch Pray Away on Netflix beginning on August 3

About the filmmaker – Kristine Stolakis (Director/Producer) is a documentary film director whose work wrestles with politics, prejudice, and power. Her debut feature PRAY AWAY takes you inside the history and continuation of the “pray the gay away” or ex-gay movement, and is a Multitude Films production. It is supported by the Catapult Film Fund, Tribeca Film Institute, Hartley Film Foundation, Chicken & Egg Pictures, and SFFilm. Her directorial debut THE TYPIST (Hot Docs 2015) cracks open the untold story of a closeted Korean War veteran tasked with writing the military dishonorable discharges of outed LGBTQ seamen. It was released by KQED and is currently a Vimeo Staff Pick. WHERE WE STAND (DOC NYC 2015) chronicles a group of Mormon women fighting for equal rights inside their church, and was released by The Atlantic and nominated for a Student BAFTA. She also produced ATTLA (Independent Lens 2019), a co-production of ITVS and Vision Maker Media. Her filmmaking approach is shaped by her background in anthropology, journalism, politics, and community art. She holds an MFA in Documentary Film from Stanford University, where she currently lectures, a BA in Cultural Anthropology from New York University, and has received further training at UC Berkley’s Investigative Reporting Program. She proudly hails from North Carolina and central New York. She is the founder of Lamplighter Films.

About the filmmaker – Anya Rous is a Brooklyn-based Producer and Vice President of Production at Multitude Films, an independent production company dedicated to telling stories by and about underrepresented communities. Anya co-produced the following critically-acclaimed films: ALWAYS IN SEASON (Independent Lens), which premiered in competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and won the Special Jury Award for Moral Urgency, THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED (Tribeca 2018, PBS) dubbed “a journalistic thriller” by The New York Times, and NAILA AND THE UPRISING (IDFA 2017, PBS), and co-executive produced CALL HER GANDA (Tribeca 2018, PBS). Anya brings a combined 10 years of experience in funding strategy and impact campaigns for stories that further movements for racial, economic, and gender justice. She formerly served as the Director of Strategic Relationships at Just Vision, as a grantmaker at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the coordinator of a multi-state oral history project at the Bob Bullock State History Museum in Austin, TX. Anya is a Sundance Creative Producing Fellow and an Impact Partners Documentary Producing Fellow. She is also on the board of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A sobering account of Christian intervention rooted in toxic homophobia.” – David Rooney – Hollywood Reporter

“Pray Away invites the viewer into a world that many would like to think doesn’t exist much anymore, but is in fact, quite prevalent.” – Brian Shaer, Film Threat

“Such visual reenforcement is constant, as we see footage of many so-called “ex-ex-gays” when they were being tortured by their ministries alongside footage of them looking far happier after they escaped.” – Dan Callahan, TheWrap

“Pray Away is an essential film for my fellow Evangelicals, who need to see the gay Christian issue from a different perspective that we’ve been resistant to see from the beginning.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat

“Pray Away gives a platform for these individuals to tell their story, and even to speak against conversion therapy, providing a chance for forgiveness and salvation.” – Stephanie Archer, Film Inquiry

Sabaya – Director Hogir Hirori and Producer Antonio Merenda

Guarded by Kurdish forces, 73,000 Daesh (ISIS) supporters are locked up in the Al-Hol Camp in northeastern Syria. Considered the most dangerous camp in the Middle East, it is situated amidst a volatile political and military reality where Daesh is still omnipresent. Five years ago, Daesh killed thousands of Yazidis in the Sinjar province of Iraq and abducted thousands of Yazidi women and girls to be held and sold as sex slaves – called sabaya. In SABAYA, Mahmud, Ziyad and other volunteers from the Yazidi Home Center rescue the sabaya, who are still being held by Daesh in the camp. Continuously phoning, smoking and sometimes bickering, Mahmud and Ziyad systematically prepare their missions and know exactly who to look for, and where. Often accompanied by female infiltrators – some of them former sabaya – and armed with nothing but an old mobile phone and a small gun, they travel to the camp in an inconspicuous van. Once there, mostly by night, they must act extremely quickly to avoid potential violence. Under the loving care of Mahmud’s wife, Siham, and his mother, Zahra, it might take a long time for the young women to heal, but perhaps one day the traumatized girls will also be strong enough to become brave female infiltrators themselves, helping to rescue even more Yazidi Sabaya from the claws of an ideology that tolerates nothing but itself. Through this observational film,  directed, shot and edited by acclaimed Swedish/Kurdish director Hogir Hirori, we experience first-hand the strong contrast between the tense situation in the camp and the comfort of daily life at home. Director Hogir Hirori and Producer Antonio Merenda joins us for a conversation on the risks that all of the project’s participants, including Mahmud and Siyad, took on in order to tell the story of unfathomable cruelty and deadly violence aimed at the Yazidi people in general and the Yazidi women.

For more go to: sabayathefilm.com

It opens on Friday, July 30 in New York (Film Forum) and Los Angeles (Laemmle Royal and Laemmle Pasadena Playhouse), with an expansion to theaters and virtual cinemas nationwide beginning August 6.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, July 30
In New York City: filmforum.org/film/sabaya
 
In the Los Angeles area are:
laemmle.com/theater/royal
laemmle.com/theater/playhouse-7

 

Winner of:
2021 Sundance Film Festival Directing Award (World Cinema Documentary)
2021 DocEdge – Best Director
2021 DocEdge – Special Mention for Best Feature (Int’l Competition)
2021 DocAviv – Best International Film

 

About the filmmaker – Hogir Hirori was born in 1980 in Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan. In 1999, he fled to Sweden and has lived since then in Stockholm. He works as a freelance photographer, editor and director and runs his own production company, Lolav Media. Hogir’s most recent work, The Deminer, had its world premiere at IDFA 2017, where it received the Special Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature. The film has since travelled to more than 50 international film festivals and aired on more than 30 broadcasters worldwide.

About the filmmaker – Originally from Italy, Antonio Russo Merenda moved to Stockholm in 1993 where he founded Hysteria Film, which he ran for 15 years. Antonio started his production company Ginestra Film in 2012 and served as Documentary Film Commissioner at the Swedish Film Institute between 2015-2017. Antonio’s productions have been aired on broadcasters worldwide, selected by major international film festivals and received awards such as the VPRO Award for Best Documentary Feature with Don Juan (IDFA 2015), the Special Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature for The Deminer (IDFA 2017) as well as the Golden Dove with Vodka Factory (DokLeipzig 2010) and withColombianos (DokLeipzig 2012). With Hysteria Film, Antonio was involved in the production of Searching for Sugar Man , the 2013 Oscar winner for Best Documentary Feature.

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“Intense [and] deeply embedded…Sabaya is remarkable… A gripping, harrowing, superb doc…[with] textures of compassion, healing and hope.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety

“With “Sabaya,” we witness documentary filmmaking at its boldest; we find hope in seeing not only the triumphs of the Yazidi Home Center but also what the medium can do.” – Kimber Myers, Los Angeles Times
“Impressively exciting and strikingly novel…Documents a situation so perilous, high-stakes and remarkable.” – Inkoo Kang, The Hollywood Reporter

“A stirring depiction of heroism… The daring on display by Hirori is matched and (he’d certainly say) exceeded by the bravery of his subjects… Stunning moments of visual awe… Sabaya is a triumph of risking-your-neck, DIY filmmaking.” – Christian Blauvelt, IndieWire

“There is so much earth-shattering bravery on display in the miraculous Sabaya that you wonder how the Swedish-Kurdish director Hogir Hirori managed to pull off a documentary that avoids showy, predictable notes of brouhaha throughout.” – Tomris Laffly, RogerEbert.com

6:45 – Director Craig Singer

What if one of the best days of your life suddenly turned into one of your worst nightmares?And what if you were forced to relive that same day again and again? From Director Craig Singer comes a pulse-pounding, time-looping psychological thriller about a dream vacation gone very, very bad. Bobby Patterson (Michael Reed) is taking one last romantic shot at saving his rocky relationship with his girlfriend, Jules Rables (Augie Duke) on a weekend getaway to the picturesque island resort of Bog Grove. To their bewilderment, the sleepy beach town is curiously deserted, but they soon learn about its notorious and bloody history – one that’s about to repeat itself again and again… The pair’s relationship issues are quickly cast aside in order to overcome a demented cycle of terror in which they’re seemingly trapped. And no matter what great lengths they take to avoid it, Bobby and Jules awake at 6:45 each morning to a nightmarish chain of events with no escape. Written by Robert Dean Klein (Little Fish, Strange Pond, A Good Night To Die), 6:45 stars Michael Reed (Missing William), Augie Duke (Amazon’s Red Oaks, 6 Years, 4 Months & 23 Days) and Thomas G. Waites (Savant, The Thing, The Warriors), Armen Garo (The Departed, The Sopranos) rappers Remy Ma (Queen of the South) and The 45 King (Hancock), boxing Hall of Famer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini (The Plot Against America). Director Craig Singer (Dark Ride, Perkins 14, Animal Room) joins us for a conversation on the challenges of pulling together a film project during a pandemic, working with a talented cast and crew and how taking the time loop theme into the realm of psychological thriller / horror opened up 6:45 to the exploration of a twisted love story.

For news and updates go to: 645movie.com

* Winner of the Paris Independent Film Festival 

Director’s statement – I was an executive with Disney, and while 6:45 is a far cry from family-friendly cartoons or happy endings, I had long thought about developing a Groundhog Day-type horror film. I’ve always been fascinated by the supernatural and the psychological and where the two intersect. My longtime writing partner Robert Dean Klein and I began working on the concept many years ago, and ironically, we finally started shooting 6:45 with a wonderful, eclectic group of young talented artists about two weeks before the world turned upside down due to COVID -19. 6:45 imagines what it would be like if the best days of your life suddenly turned into your very worst nightmare and you were forced to relive that same day again and again. But the interesting thing is that the plot, which is sort of a ‘Groundhog Day’ horror, has become rather relevant to what we have all just experienced with the pandemic — the same bad day over and over again. None of us could have predicted this, but it’s incredibly coincidental and bittersweet at the same time.

About the filmmaker – Director Craig Singer – After directing, writing and producing several Award Winning shorts and feature films (one starring Neil Patrick Harris, fresh off Doogie Howser fame), Craig Singer went on to found FanLib and My 2 Centences, companies that predicted the integration of film with internet and social media.In 2008 he sold the companies to The Walt Disney Company, where he took a creative VP role – Disney Online Originals develops and produces series for Disney Online’s sites and brands including Disney.com and Disney Family. A dynamic, Emmy nominated, award-winning filmmaker and new media executive – Singer is a results-driven, strategic thinker and media visionary with decades-long media expertise. Known as a creative leader and clear communicator with an innate ability to identify and resolve problems with a trust building empowering management style. Singer has a proven record of successful launch strategies with an exemplary record of leading creative teams for small to large privately-held and public companies. Singer has been recognized for comfortably interfacing at all levels of a vast global network andwas nominated for an Emmy in the interactive fiction category in 2008. Singer’s series have also been honored many times by both the Tellys and Webbys.

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“In Craig Singer’s romantic psychodrama, a couple’s perfect (groundhog) day turns to murderous nightmare, as their weekend getaway is also an escape and a fugue” – Anton Bitel, Projected Figures

“An accomplished terror tale that’s both exciting and unsettling.” – Matt Brunson, Film Frenzy

A Dark Foe – Director Maria Gabriela Cardenas

Guilt ridden FBI agent Tony Cruz is obsessed with finding his missing sister and catching the psychopath who murdered his mother. His childhood trauma developed into nyctophobia, an irrational fear of the dark, a condition he overcame over the years… or so he thought…Armed with the relentless purpose of catching the killer and undying hope of finding his sister, Tony descends into an underworld of sex traffickers and death, where a demon from his  past awaits…Director and co-writer Maria Gabriela Cardenas stops by to talk about working with her father, Oscar Cardenas (Bon Appettit, The Groom) as well as Selma Blair, Bill Bellamy and Graham Greene and the life changing experience of her first day on set as the film’s director.

For news and updates go to: adarkfoe.com

Starting July 30th, 2021 in Select Theaters and On Demand everywhere

In the Los Angeles area: 
laemmle.com/theater/playhouse-7
laemmle.com/theater/monica-film-center
laemmle.com/theater/noho-7

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The Price of Freedom – Director Judd Ehrlich

The Price of Freedom is an unflinching look at the gun violence epidemic in America and the role the National Rifle Association, with its outsized political and cultural influence, has played over time. The NRA believes the deaths of innocent Americans are a necessary price to pay for the freedom to own firearms without restrictions. By manipulating the narrative around guns and backing politicians who commit to upholding their agenda, the NRA has cost us far more than we realize. Featuring passionate pleas from President William J. Clinton, Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT); NRA Board Member and former NRA President David Keene, and activists on all sides of the issue, The Price of Freedom presents a compelling case for those brave enough to take a stand against the NRA in defense of our communities and collective future. Director Judd Ehrlich joins us for a conversation on how the NRA has abandoned its founding principles of promoting safe and responsible gun ownership through locally-based training programs into a shameless shill for gun manufacturers and more recently into a pernicious, corrosive and ruthlessly divisive political force in American culture and governance.

 

Download MP3 Podcast | Open Player in New Window

For news and updates go to: thepriceoffreedommovie.com

In theatres now: thepriceoffreedommovie.com/ Find a theatre

About the filmmaker – Judd Ehrlich – Grand Clio and Emmy Award-winning director and producer is the son of an architect and schoolteacher. He grew up in lower Manhattan and, at fourteen, was the youngest feature reporter at a New York newspaper. Ehrlich’s recent documentaries KEEPERS OF THE GAME and WE COULD BE KING, produced with Tribeca Studios and The Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation, forged a new model for documentary production and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and on ABC television. KEEPERS was a New York Times Critics’ Pick and nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award and KING won an Emmy and Grand Clio Award. Both films are part of the US State Department’s American Film Showcase. Ehrlich was nominated for Emmy Awards for the Tribeca Premiere RUN FOR YOUR LIFE and the PBS broadcast MAYOR OF THE WEST SIDE. His award-winning MAGIC CAMP was optioned for narrative remake and NOTES FROM LIBERIA won several awards. Ehrlich directed two television series for ESPN and a series for The CW Network. He collaborated on the editing of Sundance-winner FAMILY NAME and Ric Burns’ Emmy-winning series, NEW YORK. Ehrlich was an editor and producer at CBS News and directed film programs at BAM, Brooklyn College, JCC Manhattan and the Brooklyn Museum, hosting notables like Darren Aronofsky, Steve Buscemi and Willem Dafoe. Ehrlich is represented by Saville Productions, joining a roster that includes Wim Wenders, Barry Levinson, Oliver Stone and Werner Herzog, and directs content for Bose, Tough Mudder, MLS, Van Cleef & Arpels, Barilla, Atlantic Philanthropies, US Cellular, and the Serena Williams Fund, to name a handful. Before film, Ehrlich was a caseworker in NYC for Project Renewal, Homes for the Homeless and YAI. He lives with his wife and two children in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where his family lived for five generations. Ehrlich is a Vassar College graduate and teaches filmmaking. For more go to: flatbushpictures.com

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“An absorbing, disturbing, and scrupulously well-researched documentary that lays out the nuts and bolts of the National Rifle Association’s history.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“What makes The Price of Freedom a film that should be on your must-see list is the way Ehrlich presents all of this.” – Sabina Dana Plasse, Film Threat

Landfall – Director Cecilia Aldarondo

Through shard-like glimpses of everyday life in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico, LANDFALL is a cautionary tale for our times. Set against the backdrop of protests that toppled the The United States colony’s governor in 2019, the film offers a prismatic portrait of collective trauma and resistance. While the devastation of María attracted a great deal of media coverage, the world has paid far less attention to the storm that preceded it: a 72-billion-dollar debt crisis crippling Puerto Rico well before the winds and waters hit. LANDFALL examines the kinship of these two storms-one environmental, the other economic-juxtaposing competing utopian visions of recovery. LANDFALL explores the intertwining legacies of colonialism, exploitative industries and disaster capitalism and the barriers to recovery they create. As opportunists looking to make a profit descend upon the island, the Puerto Rican diaspora comes together to create unprecedented forms of community-led mutual aid when assistance from the federal government and traditional NGOs fails to appear.  LANDFALL features intimate encounters with Puerto Ricans as well as the newcomers flooding the island, LANDFALL reflects on a question of contemporary global relevance: when the world falls apart, who do we become? Director Cecilia Aldarondo joins us for frank conversation on US colonialism, Puerto Rico as a laboratory for social experimentation and the crypto-libertarian grifters peddling economic fairy-tales about freedom and financial independence.

 

Download MP3 Podcast | Open Player in New Window

For news and updates go to: landfallfilm.com

Landfall is a co-production of POV and ITVS, in association with Latino Public Broadcasting. Mark your calendars, LANDFALL to broadcast on PBS’ POV July 12An official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival and winner of the Viewfinders Grand Jury at 2020 DOC NYC, Landfall is Aldarondo’s second documentary film to broadcast on POV after her Season 30 title, Memories of a Penitent Heart. Offering a prismatic portrait of collective trauma and resistance and set against the backdrop of the 2019 protests in the wake of Hurricane María in Puerto Rico that toppled the governor, the film assembles scenes from all over the island, spotlighting the different ways each community addresses its own recovery. 

Director’s Statement – As a Puerto Rican from the diaspora, I watched Hurricane María unfold from afar while cut off from loved ones, including my grandmother who would die six months after the storm. Reeling from the debt crisis, which unleashed a wave of austerity, poverty and migration that María only intensified, the Puerto Rico depicted in Landfall is a laboratory for greed, privatization, gentrification, the dismantling of social services, and the devastating effects of climate change. We may have a new President and Puerto Rico a new governor, but little has changed since María hit, as evidenced by the recent privatization of Puerto Rico’s electric grid. The Puerto Rican people are still fighting to end the profit-driven policies that have proved disastrous ever since President Obama signed them into existence. In Landfall I wanted to balance a cautionary tale for our times, while also prioritizing a dignified image of Puerto Ricans who have banded together to fight for their sovereignty. – Cecilia Aldarondo 

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92% on Rotten Tomatoes

“An impressive, impressionistic and intimate overview of the unhappy “Island of Enchantment” as it stands today, years after Hurricane Maria hit.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

“Cecilia Aldarondo’s intelligent, insightful documentary captures how a natural disaster served to expose the man-made troubles that have blighted the island down the centuries.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International

“Impressionistic rather than explanatory, Landfall seldom spells out the complex set of issues still afflicting an island long beset by “the colonial disease.” But it still makes a powerful statement…” – Dennis Harvey, 48 Hills

“A studied and sober look at Puerto Rico’s dire state.” – Jordan Mintzer, Hollywood Reporter

“Aldarondo’s impressionistic, kaleidoscopic take offers a more accurate picture of the chaos than any standard narrated documentary ever could.” – Janet Smith, Georgia Straight

The Witches of the Orient – Director Julian Faraut

How did a group of humble factory workers become a phenomenal sports success story and the pride of an entire nation? Julian Faraut’s (John McEnroe: In The Realm of Perfection) ferociously innovative and visually stunning The Witches of the Orient tells the tale of the Japanese women’s volleyball team’s thrilling rise, unbelievable 258 games winning streak, and eventual Olympic gold at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. United by their jobs in a textile factory, the Japanese women’s volleyball team chased absolute perfection under the guidance of their grueling coach Hirofumi Daimatsu. Known as “the Demon,” his intense, endless practice sessions, shaped the team into a powerful force striking fear in the hearts of their competitors and earning them the racist and dismissive moniker “oriental witches.” Faraut’s sparkling documentary uses fantastic manga and anime sequences, such as Attack no 1 (1968), with archival footage of blood-curdling matches, extreme training sessions (driven by rhythmic editing and great music from French musician K-Raw) with testimony from the now-octogenarian teammates. The result charts the Witches’ meteoric rise and overwhelmingly vital spirit. The ‘Witches’ success is infectious and offers a hopeful prelude to the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. Director Julien Faraut joins to talk about the players rigorous training regime, the complicated relationship they had with their coach, Hirofumi Daimatsu, and the enduring bond between the women / factory workers that has lasted for nearly 60 years.

 

Download MP3 Podcast | Open Player in New Window

For news and updates go to: kimstim.com/film/the-witches-of-the-orient

About the director –Having worked with the French Sports Institute (INSEP) for 15 years, Julien has had access to a large and mostly unseen collection of 16mm archival footage, aiming to bridge the connections between sport, cinema and art. With a fascination for the incredible achievements of highly skilled athletes, Julien’s portfolio of work explores these unique and astonishing human beings through the medium of film.

Julien Faraut’s Filmography:
MEMOIRE D’ENTRAINEUR, series 2003-2009
PARIS JEUX T’AIME 2004
LA CREATIVITE DU VIDE 2006
PERSPECTIVES RUGBYSTIQUES 2007
APPARITIONS, 2008
UNE SEULE FOIS, 2009
PHRASES D’ARME, 2010
TABLEAUX NOIR ECRAN LUMINEUX, 2011
REGARD NEUF SUR OLYMPIA 52, 2013
ENTRAINEMENT
JJBALLET, 2015
IN THE REALM OF PERFECTION, 2018
THE WITCHES OF THE ORIENT, 2021

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92% on Rotten Tomatoes

“The world-beating Japanese women’s volleyball team of the 1960s roars colourfully back to life.”- Screen Daily

“If the team was derided by their prejudiced (and defeated) foes in the moment of their success, this documentary elegantly restores the glow of legend, saving the champions the trouble of having to explain their heroism in words.” – Teo Bugbee, New York Times

“One of the more engrossing sports documentaries in recent memory, and it is one that even those without much interest in athletics in general or volleyball in particular will find to be worth watching.” – Peter Sobczynski, eFilmCritic.com

“The film’s fanciful archival montages shrewdly demonstrate the ways in which memory and art seamlessly combine to document reality.” – Mark Hanson, Slant Magazine

Philly D.A. – Co-directors Yoni Brook and Ted Passon

PHILLY D.A. is a multi-part series that details the dramatic work inside the office of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner as he and his team work to end mass incarceration and transform the criminal justice system from the inside. In 2017, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had one of the highest incarceration rates of any major city in the United States. And it’s become the epicenter of a historic experiment that could shape the future of prosecution in America for decades to come. When civil rights attorney Larry Krasner mounted a long-shot campaign to become District Attorney, he ran on a bold pledge: to end mass incarceration by changing the culture of the criminal justice system from within. He shocked the establishment by winning in a landslide. Now, the bureaucrats he spent his campaign denigrating are his co-workers; the police he alienated are his rank-and-file law enforcers. Pressure comes from all sides of a system resistant to reform. Krasner’s unapologetic promise to use the power of the D.A.’s office for sweeping change is what got him elected; now that he’s in office, that same stubbornness threatens to alienate those he needs to work with the most. From the eye of this political storm, filmmakers Ted Passon, Yoni Brook, and Nicole Salazar gained unprecedented access into Krasner’s office and behind the scenes of the criminal justice system. Over the course of eight episodes, PHILLY D.A.  explores the most pressing social issues of our time—police brutality, the opioid crisis, gun violence, and mass incarceration—through the lens of an idealistic team attempting fundamental overhaul from within the system. The series debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January, with its broadcast premiere in April of 2021 on ITVS’s flagship, Emmy award-winning documentary anthology series Independent Lens on PBS, followed by First Look Media’s streaming service Topic.

 

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For more news go to: pbs.org/independentlens/philly-da

PHILLY D.A. is now streaming on TOPIC  Topic features North American premieres and programming from around the world, complemented by a diverse slate of Originals including documentaries, scripted comedies and dramas, discussion shows, and more. With exclusive TV series and films that take you to more than 40 countries, Topic showcases an unparalleled diversity of creators, perspectives, and experiences. Topic is available to US and Canadian audiences on topic.com, AppleTV & iOS, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android & Android TV, and Apple TV Channels, Roku Premium Channels, Bell Fibe, and Amazon Prime Video Channels.

About the filmmaker – Yoni Brook is a twice Independent Spirit-nominated cinematographer and producer. As a director, his films have screened at the Berlinale, New York and Toronto Film Festivals, True/False, and IDFA. For PBS’s POV series, Brook co-directed Bronx Princess (with Musa Syeed). Brook co-directed The Calling, a four hour series about young religious leaders for  Independent Lens. His directorial debut A Son’s Sacrifice for Independent Lens, won Best Documentary Short at the Tribeca Film Festival.

About the filmmaker – Ted Passon is an award-winning director and video artist. He has directed episodic series for Netflix and Disney. He is a 2016 Sundance Lab Fellow, a recipient of the Pew Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship Grant, and a 2016 Headlands Artist in Residency. He has exhibited his award-winning short films in festivals and galleries around the US and abroad including exhibitions by the Whitney Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and 96 Gillespie in London.

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92% on Rotten Tomatoes

“All these conflicts are messy, uncomfortable and human, and “Philly D.A.” gives voice to a range of Philadelphians, including hard-line police, left-wing activists and residents worried about crime and police abuses.” – James Poniewozik, New York Times

“Philly D.A.’s fast-moving, over-the-shoulder, fly on the wall pressure-cooker pace conveys perfectly the importance of what is at stake and the life-and-death issues on the table for Krasner as he attempts to attack the system by the jugular.” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International

“Philly D.A. is a beautiful, sprawling story that does justice to both the giant organizations and the many individuals caught inside them. It also reminds us that “doing justice” is so much harder than we may want to believe.” – Kathryn VanArendonk, New York Magazine/Vulture

“Philly D.A. is the kind of documentary series that makes me feel good about the future of documentaries and nonfiction storytelling.” – David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun

“The filmmakers spent three years following the longtime criminal defense lawyer Larry Krasner for this essential, remarkably balanced vérité-style account of his unlikely tenure as the city’s district attorney.” – Judy Berman, TIME Magazine

“The trio of film-makers marshal a lot of material consistently well. Each installment looks primarily at one subject, while continuing to tie it into the wider drive to change the policy of mass incarceration.” – Lucy Mangan, Guardian

“For anyone looking for a leader who is not interested in simply paying lip service to win an election or a second term, Philly D.A. will likely be their candidate of choice.” – Kiko Martinez, Variety

Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and the D-Man in the Waters – Co-directed by Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz

Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters is a feature documentary that traces the history and legacy of one of the most important works of art to come out of the age of AIDS – Bill T. Jones’ tour de force ballet “D-Man in the Waters”. In 1989, “D-Man in the Waters” gave physical manifestation to the fear, anger, grief, and hope for salvation that the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company felt as they were embattled by the AIDS pandemic. As a group of young dancers reconstructs the dance, they learn about this oft forgotten history and  deepen their understanding of the power of art in a time of plague. Bill T. Jones is arguably the most socially, politically and emotionally compelling choreographer alive today. Thirty years ago, he embedded motifs of risk and sacrifice, love, loss and resurrection in the choreography for “D-Man in the Waters”. Through an extraordinary series of interviews, archival material, and uniquely powerful cinematography of movement, this 90-minute, lyrical documentary uses the story of this dance to illustrate the triumph of the human spirit in art and in the community. Today, by learning the dance, a new generation reinvigorates the spirit of a community fighting to survive. Co-directors Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz join us for a conversation on the history of D-Man in the Waters, why it is just as relevant today, the spirit of discovery for the student dance ensemble featured in the film and the collaboration with the visionary artist Bill T. Jones.

 

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For news and updates go to: d-mandocumentary.com

For the theatrical / virtual release go to: kinolorber.com/can-you-bring-it

Kino Lorber is proud to present CAN YOU BRING IT: BILL T. JONES AND D-MAN IN THE WATERS co-directed by Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz. The film celebrated its world premiere at DOC NYC and will open in select theaters and virtual cinemas on Friday, July 16th at Film Forum in New York and on Friday, July 23rd at Laemmle’s Royal in Los Angeles, with national rollout to follow.  

About the filmmaker – Rosalynde LeBlanc, Producer and Co-Director danced with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company (1993 -1999), and Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project (1999 – 2002). She has also worked onscreen with film directors Burt Barr, John Turturro, Gretchen Bender, and Matthew Rolston. She can be seen in the short film, Roz, the PBS Specials, Still/Here, Free to Dance, Dancing in the Light, A Good Man, and in the feature film, Romance and Cigarettes. Ms. LeBlanc Loo is a leading figure in the legacy and pedagogy of Bill T. Jones. She re-stages his work around the country and runs the Jones/Zane Educational Partnership at Loyola Marymount University, where she is an Associate Professor in the Department of Dance. In 2020, her work in dance research and pedagogy was recognized with an honorary induction into the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu. 

About the filmmaker – Tom Hurwitz, ASC, Co-Director and Director of Photography – Tom Hurwitz, ASC, a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, is one of America’s most honored documentary cinematographers. Winner of two Emmy Awards, the Sundance and Jerusalem Film Festival Awards for Best Cinematography, Hurwitz has photographed films that have won four academy awards and several more nominations, recently for Dancemaker and Killing in the Name. Mr. Hurwitz’s features and television programs have won dozens of awards, Emmy, Dupont, Peabody, Directors Guild and film festival awards for Best Documentary, over the last 25 years. He recently won Emmy Awards for Best Documentary Specials for the PBS show Jerome Robbins and the PBS series Franklin, as well as Sundance Awards for Queen of Versailles, and Love Free or Die. Other award-winning films and programs that Mr. Hurwitz has photographed include: Studio 54, Cradle of Champions, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper, Valentino: The Last Emperor, Harlan County USA, Wild Man Blues, My Generation, Down and Out in America, The Turandot Project, Liberty, Dolley, Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero, for PBS; and I Have a Dream, for ABC; and Killing in the Name, and Questioning Faith for HBO. In addition, films that he has directed have won the Cine Golden Eagle and have been shown in festivals around the world. Mr. Hurwitz is also a founding member of the faculty of The MFA Program in the Social Documentary Film Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts.

Bill T. Jones, Artistic Director/Co-Founder/Choreographer: Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company; Artistic Director: New York Live Arts
Bill T. Jones is a multi-talented artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer, and Associate Artist for the 2020 Holland Festival. Mr. Jones has received major honors including the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Visibility Award, 2013 National Medal of Arts to a 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award and Kennedy Center Honors in 2010. Mr. Jones was honored with the 2014 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, recognized as Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 2010, inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2009 and named “An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure” by the Dance Heritage Coalition in 2000. His ventures into Broadway theater resulted in a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography in the critically acclaimed FELA!, the musical which was co-conceived, co-written, directed and choreographed by Mr. Jones. He also earned a 2007 Tony Award for Best Choreography in Spring Awakening as well as an Obie Award for the show’s 2006 off-Broadway run. His choreography for the off-Broadway production of The Seven earned him a 2006 Lucille Lortel Award. Mr. Jones began his dance training at the State University of New York at Binghamton (SUNY), where he studied classical ballet and modern dance. After living in Amsterdam, Mr. Jones returned to SUNY, where he became co-founder of the American Dance Asylum in 1973. In 1982 he formed the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company (then called Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane & Company) with his late partner, Arnie Zane. Mr. Jones is currently Artistic Director of New York Lives Arts, an organization that strives to create a robust framework in support of the nation’s dance and movement-based artists through new approaches to producing, presenting and educating.
For more go to: newyorklivearts.org

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The Hidden Life of Trees – Subject Peter Wohlleben (Director Jorg Adolph)

A walk in the woods will never be the same after watching THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES. Based on his best-selling that has profoundly changed our understanding of forests, renowned forester and writer Peter Wohlleben guides us through his most enlightening ideas. Presenting his ecological, biological and academic expertise with infectious enthusiasm and candor, Wohlleben travels through Germany, Poland, Sweden, and Vancouver to illustrate the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in the woodland for decades. The result is an immersive and eye-opening look at the  scientific mechanisms behind these wonders of nature. Peter Wohlleben, subject and best selling author joins us for a very engaging conversation on his reluctance to write The Hidden Life of Trees, his surprise at the reaction to the book and his own journey to better understand the magnificent complexity and awe-inspiring world of the kingdom of forests manifested by a remarkable level of dialog that take place among the thousands of it’s inhabitants.

 

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Opens July 16 in Theaters Across the U.S. via Capelight Pictures and MPI Media Group

For news and updates go to: globalscreen.de

About the production – Adaptations of bestsellers are part of Constantin Film’s DNA: the Munich-based film company’s adaptations – from “Christiane F.” to “The Name of the Rose”, “The House of the Spirits” and “Perfume – Story of a Murderer” to “Look Who’s Back” – have regularly become blockbuster hits at the German box office. But Constantin Film had never before adapted a non-fiction book as a documentary. Like many millions of other people, producer Friederich Oetker was given Peter Wohlleben’s book The Hidden Lives of Trees as a present. “To be honest, I only read it after I had been given it as a present for the second time,” he says. “But then in one go. I was incredibly impressed by the way. Peter Wohlleben took the reader by the hand and guided them through the forest. It was like a guided tour, a walk in the forest. Although it covers such large areas of Germany, the forest is a bit like terra incognita. Very few people have a real relationship and access to it. Wohlleben wrote a forest guide like Jacques Cousteau once did for the ocean.” 

About the subject and the author – Born in 1964, Peter Wohlleben had already decided as a small child that he wanted to become a nature conservationist. He studied Forestry and was a civil servant at the State Forestry Administration for over twenty years. He now runs a forest academy in the Eifel region and works worldwide for the return of the primeval forests. He is a guest on numerous TV programmes, gives lectures and seminars and is the author of books about the forest and nature conservation issues. He has inspired people all over the world with his bestsellers The Hidden Life of Trees, The Inner Life of Animals, The Secret Wisdom of Nature and The Secret Bond between Humankind and Nature. Most recently, the magazine “Wohllebens Welt” was published. He was awarded the Bavarian Nature Conservation Medal in 2019 for his emotional and unconventional way of imparting knowledge. His latest book, The Heartbeat of Trees, is now available via Greystone books. 

About the filmmaker – Director and screenwriter Jorg Adolph was born in Herford in 1967. He is considered to be one of the leading directors of documentaries in Germany. Last year saw him being nominated for the German Film Award for his latest work, “Parents’ School”. The film itself developed into a political issue and was the subject of much public controversy. From 1988 to 1994, Adolph studied Comtemporary German Literature and Media Studies in Marburg and then moved to the HFF in Munich where he studied Television Journalism and Documentary Film. His graduation film “Klein, schnell und außer Kontrolle” won the German Television Award in 2001. Since then, Adolph has been working as a freelance documentary filmmaker. Several of his works see him focusing on the artistic creative process: in “On/Off the Record”, he followed the internationally acclaimed Weilheim pop band The Notwist over one year during their work on their momentous album “Neon Golden”. In 2011, he directed the documentary feature “The Great Passion” about the preparations and performances of the Oberammergau Passion Play. 

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“Extremely exciting, instructive, entertaining documentary. Here you can be amazed, seriously thought and be happy.”Bild

“THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES Based on the best-selling non-fiction book of the same name, “The Hidden Life of Trees” tells of the mechanisms of a forest and the lack of understanding of deforestation and reforestation. With the help of beautiful images the film creates awareness for the system of trees.”Film-rezensionen

“Director Jörg Adolph’s documentary succeeds in conveying the joy and amazement about it on a journey through the world of nature. At times it is reminiscent of the motivating documentaries such as Erwin Wagenhofer’s “But beautiful”. In addition, the sensational shots by Jan Haft amaze. And in the spirit of the non-fiction author Peter Wohlleben, there is a positive outlook. Because for him one thing is certain: “The forest is coming back”. Of course, he remarks soberly: “It would only be nice if we were still there”.Programmkino

“Adolph’s non-fiction documentary seeks the harmony between personal portraits, spectacular nature shots and political statements and thus walks a little on the trail of committed documentaries like Erwin Wagenhofer’s “WE FEED THE WORLD””.epd-film

“Haft’s forest pictures are astonishing. At night the camera looks reverently into the canopy of the trees and a star-twinkling sky; it hovers over forests that are sometimes green, sometimes colorful; and immerse yourself in the fascinating play of light in a summer deciduous forest.“Süddeutsche Zeitung

Last Call: The Shutdown of NYC – Director Johnny Sweet

What happens if the entire industry is laid off in a single day? Filmed during the height of the pandemic, Last Call : The Shutdown of NYC Bars explores the social and economic impact of COVID-19 on the NYC hospitality industry. Last Call : The Shutdown of NYC Bars follows Jena Ellenwood, a bartender in Queens, NY, as she and her co-works and friends recount their experiences in the dawning realization that they are going to lose their jobs to a deadly new virus. Jena has just moved to New York and recently been brought on as a bartender at the Sparrow Tavern, a local Astoria watering hole. In March 2020, business-as-usual comes to a grinding halt as COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, quickly establishing Queens as the epicenter of the pandemic, not only the state of New York, but throughout the entire country. Bars and restaurants are ordered to close, leaving thousands of hospitality workers stranded without work and an uncertain future. Jena and her friends vent their frustrations and anxieties, not only surrounding the seemingly hopeless economic uncertainty, but also the deadly virus that threatens their very lives. Throughout the process of finding a foothold in this “new normal”, the anxiety and uncertainty of New York’s hospitality industry looms, as 2020 ends with COVID hospitalizations in New York continuing to rise once again. Director, producer and writer Johnny Sweet (Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story) joins us to talk about his own journey over the last 16 months, the serious challenges of making a film under the cloud brought on by the pandemic and why showcasing the undervalued work and contributions of the service workers is so important to a healthy community.

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

In Los Angeles watch at: laemmle.com/film/last-call-shutdown-nyc-bars

Last Call : The Shutdown of NYC Bars kicks off a virtual theatrical release on 7/16 viaLaemmle theatersahead of a wide digital release 8/13 from Global Digital Releasing.

About the filmmaker – Born and raised in NYC, Johnny Sweet graduated from Syracuse University in 2003. He was recently nominated for an Emmy for Best Long Sports Documentary for “Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story.” Sweet was an Emmy Award winning feature producer at ESPN for 10 years, primarily covering the NBA and the NFL. In 2016 Sweet directed his first long form documentary, “Vick” which won the Associated Press Sports Editor Award for journalism, his second APSE award. His second film, “Quiet Storm,” a documentary about the life of Ron Artest was released in 2019 on Showtime. The film won the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Cleveland International Films Festival for Best Documentary and was selected by the Hot Docs and Big Sky Film Festivals. For more go to: ocp-productions.com

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The Phantom – Director Patrick Forbes

On a cold February night in 1983, Wanda Lopez was stabbed to death while she worked at a Corpus Christi Texas gas station. 21 year old Carlos DeLuna was arrested, and over the next six years, through his trial and subsequent imprisonment he protested his innocence, declaring that it was another Carlos who committed the crime. The prosecution insisted that this other Carlos was a “phantom’ and didn’t exist. THE PHANTOM tells the story of one of the darkest episodes in the long history of American justice. A story of how the State of Texas knowingly sent an innocent man to his death and left a serial killer at large. A case in which — for the first time — it can be conclusively proven that the US courts executed a blameless man. This film uncovers the shocking truth behind a tale of murder, corruption and lies that unfolded in  the dusty, desperate streets of a Texas oil town nearly thirty years ago.   Through illuminating interviews with witnesses, Carlos DeLuna’s family members, and legal experts the film asks, for the first time since 1983, if the judicial system executed an innocent man, examining key evidence that calls into question whether or not Carlos DeLuna was right about the other Carlos. Was he a phantom after all, or was he a brutal killer, and did a poor Hispanic young man have any chance within a justice system and a society that by its actions seemed to regard him as disposable? Director Patrick Forbes (The Widowmaker, Brexit: A Very British Coup) joins us for a conversation on a criminal justice system that spends more time obfuscating and dodging questions about their investigation and prosecution of an innocent man than reforming a system that makes a fatal mistake possible and coming clean about why Carlos DeLuna was really put to death.

 

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For news and updates go to: the-phantom

RELEASING IN THEATERS – FRIDAY, July 2

About the filmmaker- Director, Producer, Writer Patrick Forbes career began as a very junior researcher on a BBC series, when he was arrested after discovering Britain had a (secret) spy satellite. At that moment it was clear that documentaries offered a lot more excitement and interest than his previous career a bank economist. He’s gone on to become one of Britain’s best documentary directors – winning the best director Bafta for his Channel 4 series ‘The Force’, best series Bafta for ‘The National Trust’ (BBC), and having his documentary feature about Julian Assange, ‘Wikileaks; Secrets & Lies’, premier at SXSW, before being seen around the world. Patrick believes that documentary is an art form that is as vital, exciting and uplifting as the best drama – a view confirmed by his recent films tracking Britain’s tumultuous exit from the European Union, where everyone involved talks with extraordinary candour about this defining moment of history.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A fascinating and ultimately infuriating look at a fatal miscarriage of justice in Texas.” – Joe Leydon, Variety

“A cinematic true-crime gem.” – Kurt Halfyard, ScreenAnarchy

“Adapting research that is, by now, hardly breaking news, Forbes has some solid strategies for making the material cinematic.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times

“The incident and its aftermath has an entire thriller’s worth of twists and turns, and the film makes persuasive arguments regarding racial bias and the death penalty.” – Todd Jorgenson, Cinemalogue

“The first part of The Phantom could almost be a summation to the jury by the prosecution.” – Nell Minow, RogerEbert.com

The Neutral Ground – Director C.J. Hunt

In December 2015, the New Orleans City Council voted to remove four Confederate monuments from public grounds. A forceful group of critics protested the decision, and fearing retaliation, no work crew would agree to remove the statues. For comedian and Daily Show with Trevor Noah producer and writer CJ Hunt, these protestors’ fanatical loyalty to the losing side of a 160 year-old war seemed like ideal material for a short, satirical internet video. But as he filmed the conflict surrounding the monuments, a bigger story began to reveal itself. THE NEUTRAL GROUND confronts the Lost Cause—the Southern campaign that mythified the Confederacy—with refreshing clarity.With New Orleans as the main backdrop of the story, the film expands its scope to the country at large, bringing to light the fabricated histories born out of the Civil War and the hard truths much of America has yet to face about slavery. Throughout, Hunt’s radical openness leads to staggering, often personal conversations with advocates and opponents of Confederate monuments alike. Turning a sharp eye to the tangled thread between past and present, THE NEUTRAL GROUND targets necessary change centuries in the making that might—finally—be catching up to itself. Director / screenwriter and subject joins us for a candid conversation on America’s implacable racism, latent white violence towards historic truths about slavery, the urgent need to respond to blatant hatred, and The Neutral Ground’s premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.

 

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For news and updates go to: neutralgroundfilm.com

Playing at the Laemmle theatre in Glendale, CA – July 2 – 8

Premiering Monday July 5 on PBS’ award-winning POV

Premiering on Monday July 5 on PBS’ award-winning documentary program POV, The Neutral Ground documents New Orleans’ fight over monuments and America’s troubled romance with the Lost Cause. CJ sets out to understand why a losing army from 1865 still holds so much power in America

About the filmmaker – A comedian and filmmaker living in NYC, CJ is currently a field producer on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He has also served as a staff writer for A&E’s Black and White, and afield producer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede. Before working in late night, CJ spent nine years living in New Orleans where – in 2015 – he began filming what he thought would be a quick and easy confederate monument removal. CJ is an alumnus of Firelight Media’s Doc Lab and New Orleans Film Festival’s Emerging Voices program. He is also a 2020 New America Fellow and a regular host of The Moth. A graduate from Brown University’s Africana Studies department, CJ is endlessly fascinated by race and comedy’s ability to say what we can’t.

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The Penny Black – Director Joe Saunders & Producer Alex Greer

This riveting new documentary from the team of Director Joe Saunders and Producer Alex Greer The Penny Black, is a non-fiction investigative thriller that begins when Will, the estranged son of a conman, agrees to safeguard a mysterious million-dollar stamp collection for his shady Russian neighbor. After the neighbor vanishes \without a trace, Will searches for the collection’s true owner, confronting his fear and integrity head-on. But when some of the  stamps suddenly disappear,  the filmmakers are forced to reexamine Will’s capacity for honesty. Director Joe Saunders and Producer Alex Greer joins us for a rollicking \conversation on the orgin story of Penny Black, meeting Will, the arduous journey of pulling together the financing and the hundreds of hours of stake outs, interviews, and looking over their shoulders that went into making this stranger -than-fiction, trust no one documentary thriller.

 

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

The Penny Black is now available on iTunes/Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, Microsoft/Xbox Video, Vudu, FandangoNow, Vimeo, Claro, inDemand Movies & more.

The Backstory – The Penny Black STAMP is the world’s first adhesive postage stamp. It’s notoriety made it easy to google among this massive collection. Coincidentally, this little stamp comes with its own nefarious origins. Issued in the United Kingdom on May 1st, 1840, the Penny Black didn’t take long before it was the subject of mass fraud. The stamps, due to their color, were canceled with red ink to prevent their reuse. Unfortunately, this red ink was water-soluble, which meant that the stamps could be washed and reused. To curb the rampant fraud, the Penny Red was introduced a year later to allow cancelations with black ink that were not water soluble and could not be removed. The striking design of the Penny Black was then consigned to stamp albums (there, ironically, to become a target of high value theft).

About the filmmaker: Joe Saunders began his filmmaking career at NFL Films producing and directing documentaries that aired on HBO, FOX, ABC, CBS, ESPN, NFL Network and the BBC. While at NFL Films, Saunders won an EMMY Award in the Outstanding Long Feature category for his documentary, Big Charlie’s. His recent documentary credits include, Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound and Coach Snoop. Saunders is a Film Independent documentary fellow, received an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, and currently lives in NYC. 

About the filmmaker:  Alexander Greer is an award-winning filmmaker whose work has screened at Tribeca Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, and Los Angeles Film Festival, amongst others. As a freelance producer, he’s created content for MTV, Funny or Die, RedBull TV, Warner Brothers Records, Columbia Records, Gatorade, and New Form Digital. He graduated with honors from the film program at Columbia University, and currently lives in Los Angeles.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“The Penny Black” is an utterly-engrossing…film laid out like a private eye thriller”  – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

“A truth is stranger than fiction thing. It would make for a great Chandler-esque fiction movie, too.” – Peter Rainer, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

“’The Penny Black’ keeps you off-balance because you don’t know whether or not Will is conning Saunders and us.” – Bob Bloom, Journal and Courier

“…just as you catch your breath the roller coaster ride sends you for one more drop.” – Joe Compton, Go Indie Now

“…one of 2020’s most riveting documentaries” – Kayla McCulloch, The Lens

“The Penny Black, tells an impossible-to-look-away-from story…”— Allen Salkin, Los Angeles Magazine

“The Penny Black” is a mystery and an enigma wrapped in a documentary’ – Bob Bloom, ReelBob

The Loneliest Whale: The Search for 52 – Director Joshua Zeman

THE LONELIEST WHALE: THE SEARCH FOR 52 is a cinematic quest to find the “52 Hertz Whale,” which scientists believe has spent its entire life in solitude calling out at a frequency that is different from any other whale. As the film embarks on this engrossing journey, audiences will explore what this whale’s lonely plight can teach us — not just about our changing relationship to the oceans, but to each other. This is the only film that set out in search of 52. The 52 Hertz Whale was originally discovered in 1989. Over the last 3 decades 52 has become a global sensation capturing the hearts of fans around the world. This whale’s story has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Business Insider and more. Most recently the British Indie Rock band Amber Run and the K-pop band BTS have written songs about the whale.  Award winning filmmaker Joshua Zeman has been at the forefront of investigative documentaries for the past decade. His most recent work was the hit Netflix documentary series, THE SONS OF SAM: DESCENT INTO DARKNESS. His critically-acclaimed film CROPSEY, a look into the disappearance of five children, is considered to be one of most terrifying horror documentaries of all time. Director Joshua Zeman joins us for a conversation on the primordial fascination that whales exert over humans, the impact his first encounter with Blue Whale had on him, how “singing Humpbacks saved whales for being hunted into extinction and why 52’s story has captured a world-wide audience.

 

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For news and updates go to: bleeckerstreetmedia.com/the-loneliest-whale

In theaters on July 9 / On Demand July 16

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“While 52 remains something of a mystery, The Loneliest Whale renders him less of a metaphor.” – Mark Jenkins, Slant Magazine

“…the work is very informative, not only about 52, but about the whale songs that engaged human interest in their fates and the perils facing them in today’s oceans.” – Laura Clifford, Reeling Reviews

Rebel Hearts – Director Pedro Kos

Director Pedro Kos’ beautifully rendered story, REBEL HEARTS, takes us back to the 1960s and a Los Angeles-based group of trailblazing nuns, The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Sisters bravely stood up to the patriarchy of the Catholic Church, fighting for equality, their livelihoods, and their own freedom against an all-powerful Cardinal who sought to keep them in their place. Their bold acts of faith, defiance and activism turned the Church upside down, helping to reshape our society in ways that continue to resonate today. From marching in Selma in 1965 to the Women’s March in 2018, they challenged the notion of what a nun and a woman were supposed to be. These unlikely resistance fighters, including Anita Caspary, Helen Kelley, Pat Reif and iconic pop artist Corita Kent, were devoted to a life of service, not only to others but to themselves – forming a community that empowered each sister to live up to their fullest potential. Their desire to bring the church into modern life was met with forceful opposition at every turn. As each of them discovered their own talents and voices, they fully stepped into their roles as leaders in a movement that is still making waves. In the feature documentary REBEL HEARTS, director Pedro Kos combines incredible archival footage, stunning animation and two decades of interviews conducted and filmed by the film’s producer Shawnee Isaac-Smith, to beautifully illuminate the story of these incredible women. Director Pedro Kos joins us for a conversation on the historic, political, cultural and spiritual significance these brave women had and continue to have on their own faith, but on the world beyond the walls of their community. 

 

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For news and updates go to: rebelheartsfilm.com

How to watch: rebelheartsfilm.com/screenings

Dig deeper – people and topics, go to: rebelheartsfilm.com/learn-more

Watch Rebel Hearts on Discovery Plus beginning June 27

About the filmmaker – Director, writer and editor Pedro Kos most recently wrote and produced Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer’s Netflix Original Documentary THE GREAT HACK which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for a BAFTA award and shortlisted for an Academy Award. His feature directorial debut BENDING THE ARC (co-directed with Kief Davidson) premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Previously, he edited Jehane Noujaim’s Academy Award nominee THE SQUARE which earned Pedro an Emmy Award for Best Editing for a Non-Fiction program, Lucy Walker’s Academy Award nominee WASTE LAND and THE CRASH REEL (2013 SXSW Film Festival Audience Award winner), Jon Shenk’s THE ISLAND PRESIDENT (2011 TIFF Documentary People’s Choice Award winner) among others. Pedro is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and received his B.A. in Theater Directing from Yale University.

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93% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Rebel Hearts tells the group’s story, focusing on why the nuns changed and what they risked in refusing to bend to church leadership. It’s a fast-paced and fascinating story that has implications far beyond Catholicism.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox

“The brilliant documentary is a colourful, contemplative and informative presentation of women whose dedicated faith led them to activism.” – Emily Maskell, Flip Screen

“”Rebel Hearts” is still determined to not only uplift, but do justice to the women it’s profiling and just what gave them a communal backbone of such stuff that they eventually chose to defy the Vatican itself.” – Andrea Thompson, A Reel of One’s Own

“Neatly threads a global feminist awakening through the very specific experience of a few defiant, no-longer-cloistered women.” – Guy Lodge, Variety

“One of the best of Sundance for this years. Highly recommended.” – Steven Kopian, Unseen Films

“Before this film, I had never heard of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and now I can’t stop thinking about them.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times

Quit – Director Dick Rude

A twenty-something couple (Segan and Baird) venturing from Hollywood to Joshua Tree in an attempt to quit smoking together, find their emotions unmasked. We see them cheating, lying and struggling valiantly to overcome their enslavement to smoking. As we share the pain and torture the couple put themselves through in the name of love and pleasure, we also learn that smoking is truly a metaphor for their equally addictive relationship. Their extreme passion (whether fighting or making up afterwards) turns out to be a measure of their love for each other. Whether they like it or not, they cannot escape destiny or the temptations that lead them there. QUIT is a relationship story about our attachment to inner needs and desires, and the awakening to what those are. Starring Noah Segan (Knives Out, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi) and the enthralling Diora Baird (Netflix’s Cobra Kai, Wedding Crashers,) as our couple, alongside Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time), Nathan Phillips (Snakes on a Plane, Wolf Creek,), and Don Swayze (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, The Visitation). Director and co-writer Dick Rude (Repo Man, Walker, Straight to Hell) stops by to talk about love, relationships, smoking, living life on your terms and creating art.

 

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For news and update go to: quitfilm.com

QUIT will be available for audiences to stream on Amazon Prime, Vudu, Tubi and other streaming platforms along with across TVOD platforms  iTunes, Fandango Now, Google Play, YouTube,  among others globally to rent or buy beginning on June 25th.  

About the filmmaker – Dick Rude was born and raised in Los Angeles. His film career began at the age of 15 when he attended the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. As an actor he has appeared in several films including “Sid and Nancy”, “The Wild Life” and “Repo Man,” which he also participated in as a contributing writer. Rude left UCLA Film School to co-write and star in “Straight to Hell,” which features such notables as Dennis Hopper, Courtney Love and Elvis Costello. His other writing credits include a pilot for Sophia Coppola, “Hi Octane” and an un-produced script commissioned by River Phoenix. As a Producer/Director, Rude has done several music videos. His latest accomplishments have been music documentaries for Blonde Redhead: “Nothing Something,” Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Off the Map” and “LA Punk – The First Five Years,” featured on the “Punk Attitude” DVD. His latest film “Let’s Rock Again!” has received widespread acclaim and recognition. Dick Rude is currently preparing for his next film “The Asshole” with his friend and Executive Producer Jim Jarmusch. dickrude.biz

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Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide – Co-directors Malia Scharf and Max Basch

When you look at Kenny Scharf’s surreal, colorful, pop-culture inspired art you can’t help but wonder where he gets his inspiration. This documentary about Scharf’s fascinating life—made over 11 years by the artist’s daughter, Malia Scharf, and Max Basch—answers that question. This fascinating documentary shows Scharf’s New York City arrival in the early 1980s where he quickly befriended Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.  This trio, amongst the fervent creative bustle of a depressed downtown scene, would soon take the art world by storm.  Featuring interviews and rare archival footage with the artist himself along with Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Ed Ruscha, Dennis Hopper and Yoko Ono, the film shows Scharf’s arrival in New York City in the early 1980s, where he quickly befriended Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat. There, amongst the fervent creative bustle of a depressed downtown scene, the trio would soon take the art world by storm. But unlike Haring and Basquiat, who both died tragically young, Scharf lived through cataclysmic shifts in the East Village as well as the ravages of AIDS and economic depression. Decades later, still obsessed with garbage, cartoons and plastic, and committed to the idea that art should be fun, Scharf’s whimsical mind continues to generate works rife with iconic images and bizarre forms. Co-directors Malia Scharf and Max Basch join us for a conversation on the New York City in the 1980s, why so many artists from multiple disciplines seized the opportunity to make art amidst the rumble of the Downtown, and the re-evaluation of Kenny Scharf’s prodigious technicolor artistic vision.

 

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For news and updates go to:kennyscharfmovie.com

Greenwich Entertainment is pleased to present KENNY SCHARF: WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE, a vibrant portrait of the life and work of the pop art icon and art world survivor,  opening on Friday, June 25 in select theaters and virtual cinemas nationwide, including New York, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Minneapolis, Houston, Portland, and Denver.

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“A compelling and informative introduction to the life and work of Kenny Scharf. His perseverance, passion for art as well as for his inner child are very palpable.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru

“I found it heart warming and endearing, especially because of his daughter’s direction of the film. If you are interested in the art of this period, I think you will love this documentary.” – Katrina Olson, katrinaolson.ca

:This is the harrowing, heartbreaking, ultimately affirming story of Kenny Scharf, and I urge you to see it.: – Norman Gidney, Film Threat

“Playfully deconstructs the life and times of a creator who tries to balance their childlike playfulness with the adult responsibilities of the real world.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate

Les Nôtres – Director Jeanne LeBlanc

Canadian-based director Jeanne LeBlanc’s searingly insightful drama, Les Nôtres takes us into the heights and depths of the French speaking, tight-knit community of Sainte-Adeline Quebec. Magalie (Émilie Bierre) appears as a normal suburban high school sophomore surrounded by friends. But this popular teenage girl is harboring a shocking secret: she’s pregnant. When Magalie refuses to identify the father, suspicions among the townsfolk come to a boiling point and the layers of a carefully maintained social varnish eventually crack. Anchored by a host of remarkable performances from a cast that includes Marianne Farley, Judith Baribeau, Paul Doucet, A. Patrice Mareau and the aforementioned Emilie Bierre.  Les Nôtres director and co-screenwriter Jeanne LeBlanc (co-writer Judith Baribeau) masterfully peels back the brittle veneer of respectability and conformity in her subversive tale of class, racism, sexual assault and the community’s bourgeoisie capitulation to the heavy hand of power.

 

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For news and updates go to: lesnotres.oscilloscope.net

Opens On Demand and in Select Theaters on June 18th from Oscilloscope Laboratories

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96% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Les nôtres is going to ruffle plenty feathers. Not because of its topic, but because of its willingness to depict characters that will stop at nothing to keep pretending.” – Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage

“Les Nôtres finished on something of an unsatisfactory but realistic note, but such is the story that knows that sadly this is still common in small communities, those that only pretend to have everyone’s best interests at heart.” – Shelagh Rowan-Legg, ScreenAnarchy

“An enraging film astringent enough to peel the paint from the façade of virtue propped up by the small-town Quebecois community in which it takes place.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety

“The film is a j’accuse aimed at those complicit in oppressing the most vulnerable in order to protect the powerful.” – Pat Brown, Slant Magazine

“Any time you make a movie with well-played characters who compel the audience to want to shout at the screen, you’ve accomplished something.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – Special Episode – Director Elizabeth Wolff

I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK returns with a special episode directed by Elizabeth Wolff (HBO’s “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark”) and executive produced by Liz Garbus (HBO’s “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” and “Who Killed Garrett Phillips?”). The critically acclaimed six-part documentary series based on the best-selling book of the same name debuted in June 2020 and explores writer Michelle McNamara’s investigation into the dark world of the violent predator she dubbed “The Golden State Killer.” In the summer of 2020, former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo, also known as the Golden State Killer, was sentenced to life in prison for the 50 home-invasion rapes and 13 murders he committed during his reign of terror in the 1970s and ‘80s in California. Many of the survivors and victim’s family members reconvened for an emotional public sentencing hearing in August 2020, where they were given the opportunity to speak about their long-held pain and anger through victim impact statements, facing their attacker directly for the first time and bringing a sense of justice and resolution to the case. This powerful special closes one  chapter in McNamara’s investigative work on cold cases, and brings to light another, the rape and murder of Kathy Lombardo in 1984 in McNamara’s hometown of Oak Park, Illinois, which sparked her life-long fascination with unsolved murders. This special episode brings shocking new revelations to light in the Lombardo case and features the late McNamara’s own research into the rape and murder, which led to her return to Oak Park in 2013 to investigate it on the ground, quickly finding inconsistencies in the police work. Featuring the late  McNamara’s own archival research and voice recordings, and interviews with residents of present-day Oak Park, this special episode highlights the trauma that persists when a crime goes unsolved, with McNamara’s work standing as a stark reminder of the importance of citizen sleuths who remain dogged in their search for the truth. I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK co-producer and co-director Elizabeth Wolff joins us to talk the years-long collaboration with series director Liz Garbus and her team, the art of storytelling, defining her own personal boundaries and becoming a mom.

 

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For news and updates go to: hbo.com/ill-be-gone-in-the-dark

This special episode debuts MONDAY, JUNE 21 (10:00-11:00 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max.

The I’ll Be Gone in the Dark docs-series was directed by Academy Award nominee and Emmy® winning director Liz Garbus (HBO’s “Who Killed Garrett Phillips,” “Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper”) and produced by Story Syndicate. Additional directors on the series include Elizabeth Wolff, Myles Kane and Josh Koury.I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK will also be available on HBO On Demand, HBO NOW, HBO GO and partners’

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96% on Rotten Tomatoes

“This is both a satisfying story of justice restored, and a moving tribute to one woman’s refusal to give up on forgotten victims.” – Anna Leszkiewicz, New Statesman

“Deviating from the well-trodden arc of most true-crime documentaries, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark tells several parallel stories, each of them interwoven, yet discretely fascinating.” – Kylie Northover, The Age (Australia)

“”I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” is more than a true crime documentary, although it succeeds in a terrifyingly brilliant way.” – Kristen Lopez, indieWire

“Sensitive, unusual, uplifting, revelatory and deeply moving, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is one of the best true crime docu-series in a while and it’s up against stiff competition.” – Rosie Fletcher, Den of Geek

“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark can be very difficult to watch; it’s haunting and incredibly sad. But that’s also what made it all the more moving, in the end, to see the survivors join together: bonding, smiling, and living their lives in the light.” – Allison Keene, Paste Magazine

Accidental President – Director James Fletcher

Director James Fletcher’s THE ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT uncovers a detailed play-by-play from all angles on how it all went down, the state of America that led to the results, what the electorate was really motivated by, and how a former reality show host with an elevated understanding of the media and entertainment was able to connect and how a former reality show host with an elevated understanding of the media and entertainment was able to connect with voters from all walks of life and stage a takeover of Washington D.C. — whether he meant to or not. As America began to try and come to terms with the surprising (and for many voters, horrifying) results of the presidential race of 2016, the subsequent rapid-fire speed of events and jam-packed news cycles meant that nobody would ever have the opportunity to truly and properly reflect on what exactly just happened — and how did it? Featuring an impressively diverse and balanced set of fascinating interviews from both sides of the aisle, that includes:Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, Piers Morgan, Mary Katharine Ham, Aaron Sorkin, Anthony Scaramucci, David Pakman, Molly Ball, April Ryan, Steve Schmidt, and Van Jones. THE ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT is an educated examination of the most controversial election in modern history, and one that every future campaign – most notably the one currently in play – should study with an electron microscope. Directed and produced by British filmmaker/journalist James Fletcher joins us for a conversation on the many twists and turns, happenstance, orchestrated chaos, massive campaign miscalculations and incompetence that results in the election of the most deified and nefarious president in American history.

 

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For news and updates go to: interventionmedia.com

THE ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT will be screening in limited U.S. theaters beginning Monday, June 21, 2021, and will be coming soon to Starz.

About the filmmaker – James Fletcher Director, Producer – James Fletcher is a UK television producer/director currently based in New York City. He started out working on commercial and music videos, before being hired by a number of political campaigns to produce TV ads (spots) including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former Prime Minister David Cameron. He has also worked on European elections, campaigns in the US, and the Middle East. He has written articles about the business of politics, and increasing deployment of technology, especially social media as prime channels of voter communication. He is directing his first feature. The Accidental President which simply seeks to answer ‘How on earth did Donald Trump win the election of 2016?’

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“I think the film is about as unbiased a story as you can get on the 2016 election.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat

“Director James Fletcher’s objective, in his words: “How the hell did he win?” The doc, with entertaining archival films and input from talking heads, offers suggestions.” – Harvey S. Karten, Shockya.com

“…more than just a trip down memory lane (a painful one or a gleeful one depending on your politics), it poses a timely “can it happen again” question for 2020.” – Tom Santilli, Movie Show Plus

The Last Out, Co-directors Sami Khan and Michael Gassert

THE LAST OUT tells the story of three talented Cuban athletes, Happy, Carlos, and Victor, leave their families and homes behind as they set off in pursuit of the ultimate dream: a contract with Major League Baseball. Cuban ballplayers are among baseball’s brightest stars but Cuban ball-players can’t just sign out of Cuba – the US Embargo is still in place and only being strengthened under the current administration – so Cubans have to leave their homeland, often under dangerous circumstances and establish residency in a third Country like The Dominican Republic, Haiti or Costa Rica. At the rundown Estadio Antonio Escarre, they have spent the past year training long and hard, thousands of miles away from their families in Cuba. They travel to Costa Rica and train under a seedy sports agent who dangles promises while exploiting their talents. As they navigate immigration and the ulterior motives of handlers, each man finds an unexpected path forward to a better life. Set against the backdrop of the dangerous Central American migrant trail, THE LAST OUT offers a rare window into the dark side of professional sports. THE LAST OUT co-directors Sami Khan and Michael Gassert stop by to talk about their process of following the many twists and turns these young men’s lives take them on and the personal risk they and their team took in chronicling it.

 

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Sami Khan’s most recent film, the short documentary St. Louis Superman (with Smriti Mundhra), was nominated for an Academy Award® and won a Special Jury Prize at Tribeca in 2019. Michael Gassert’s documentary and archival work has been supported by IFP, the Sundance Institute, UNESCO, and the Kennedy Center.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A powerful true story of athletics and exile.” – Jordan Mintzer,Hollywood Reporter

“The incredible journey of three people pursuing a dream. They start as baseball players but end up as pawns…” – Ricardo Gallegos, La Estatuilla

“Taking audiences on an eventful journey, The Last Out is an eye-opening example of the intersection of sports, geopolitics and individual liberty.” – Shane Slater, Awards Radar

“It may be dizzying to see everything that’s thrown at Oliveros, Gonzalez and Baro, but the filmmakers catch all of it with considerable grace.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest

Too Late – Director D.W. Thomas

Director D.W. Thomas’, Too Late, cozy horror comedy set in the Los Angeles indie comedy scene features Violet Fields who works a thankless job as the assistant to Bob Devore, famed comedian and host of the live variety show, Too Late. But what only Violet knows is that Bob is a monster both literally and figuratively. Resigned to her fate, Violet is caught by surprise when she meets aspiring comedian Jimmy Rhodes and sparks fly. But as her feelings for Jimmy grow and Bob starts to doubt her loyalty, she and Jimmy could end up as Bob’s next meal. TOO LATE is the debut feature film from director D.W. Thomas and writer Tom Becker. It stars Alyssa Limperis (Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun), Ron  Lynch (Bob’s Burgers, Adventure Time), Will Weldon (Comedy Central’s This Isn’t Happening), Mary Lynn Rajskub (24, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Fred Armisen (SNL, Portlandia), Jenny Zigrino (Bad Santa 2, 50 Shades of Black), Jack De Sena (Avatar: The Last Airbender), and Brooks Wheelan (SNL). Director and writer D.W. Thomas joins us for a spirited conversation on comedy, fame, Hungarian Cultural Centers, Stand up, and a well-balanced diet.

 

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For news and screenings go to: toolatethemovie.com

Gravitas Ventures will release TOO LATE in select theaters and on digital platforms including iTunes, Google Play, Fandango Now and all major cable/satellite platforms on June 25. 

About the filmmaker – D.W. Thomas is a feature film director. She had her start editing films for indie production company, Cineville International known for Mi Vida Loca, Gas Food Lodging and Swimming with Sharks. She has produced and edited behind-the-scenes segments for studios including NBC, Disney, Marvel, and Pixar. Her feature film directorial debut Too Late will be premiering June 25th in theaters and on demand. For more go to: firemarkmedia.com

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“’Too Late’ can be taken as a show business metaphor. Throughout we see that only the strong and ruthless survive and succeed, with Devore himself being a symbol of star power gobbling up the competition.” – Bob Bloom Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

“A lovely indie horror comedy that balances a good central metaphor and great creature effects.” – Evan Dossey, Midwest Film Journal

“Like the stand-ups it spotlights, it knows how to tell a joke, and how to get off the stage before you’re tired of it.” – Stephen Whitty, Film Racket

“A lovely and fun horror comedy that plays it safe when balancing the genres. An indie gem.” – Federico Furzan, Movie-Blogger.com

The First Step – Director Brandon Kramer

In this revealing observational portrait of political courage, Brandon Kramer’s THE FIRST STEP, focuses his lens on Black progressive activist and political commentator Van Jones as he faces a polarized society head on in an effort to reform a broken criminal justice system. Jones, known for calling Donald Trump’s election “a whitelash” live on primetime TV, navigates increasingly tense and isolating political and racial divides in his attempt to become a “bridge builder” during the Trump administration. Condemned by the right for his progressive beliefs, and by the left for embracing conservatives, this fraught and cinematically captured  personal journey questions his integrity from all sides, forcing him to consider not only his activism but his own identity. THE FIRST STEP takes us behind the scenes of these dramatic power struggles, from internal divisions within both parties, to the lives of activists fighting on the frontlines for their communities. The First Step features Louis L. Reed, Jessica Jackson, Virgie Walker, Pete White, Tylo James. Including Jared Kushner, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Shelly Capito, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Mike Lee, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Patrisse Cullors, Charlemagne Tha God, Karen Hunter, and Kim Kardashian. Director Brandon Kramer joins us to talk about the daunting challenge faced by Van ones as he attempts to find the common ground of common interest and policy reforms that will benefit all Americans, while being vilified by many of the same people he is working with.

 

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For news and updates go to: meridianhillpictures.com

About the filmmaker – Brandon Kramer is a documentary filmmaker and co-founder of Meridian Hill Pictures. Brandon directed CITY OF TREES (Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, national broadcast on PBS’ America Reframed, Netflix); and the Webby Award-winning documentary series THE MESSY TRUTH WITH VAN JONES. Brandon won Best Director at the 2016 Chesapeake Film Festival and Indie Capital Awards, received the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 American Conservation Film Festival and was a 2015 DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities Individual Arts Fellow. Brandon has directed over 30 short documentaries commissioned by public agencies and nonprofits including AARP and US Institute of Peace. Before starting MHP, Brandon served as a teaching artist for the John F. Kennedy Center’s national media education program. Brandon holds a bachelor’s degree in film and cultural anthropology from Boston University.

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“The First Step works because it’s as honest about the state of government as it is passionate about doing so.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat

“When progress is usually messier as it’s happening than when it’s remembered, the ability of The First Step to engage with the moment that it’s in is invaluable.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest