Great Photo, Lovely Life – Co-director Amanda Mustard & Rachel Beth Anderson

In this riveting and disturbing documentary GREAT PHOTO, LOVELY LIFE, Photojournalist Amanda Mustard directorial debut, alongside co-director and cinematographer Rachel Beth Anderson, (First to Fall, Unschooled) returns home to Pennsylvania to investigate the sexual abuse crimes committed by her grandfather. A visual whirlwind of memories from her family’s archive unravels a world of secrets through interviews, photographs, and home movies. A cinematic journey eight years in the making, GREAT PHOTO, LOVELY LIFE, chronicles a granddaughter’s attempt to disrupt a cycle of intergenerational trauma through the voices of the survivors and her grandfather himself. Secrets kept close and snapshots of joy plague almost every family. This is a film about having the courage to take the steps we must take and have the conversations we must have to disrupt the cycle of intergenerational trauma. GREAT PHOTO, LOVELY LIFE is dedicated to those carrying secrets they shouldn’t have to keep and is a validation for all of the people who are suffering in silence. Amanda Mustard directorial debut alongside co-director and cinematographer Rachel Beth Anderson (First to Fall, Unschooled) join us for a conversation on Amanda’s decision to undertake this deeply personal project knowing the potential of fracturing family ties and how the  collaboration with Rachel came about and their determination in pursuit of the truth and how to insure that everyone who wanted to participate would feel unfettered. 

 

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For more go to: greatphotolovelylife.com

HBO documentary GREAT PHOTO, LOVELY LIFE follows Photojournalist, Amanda Mustard, as she investigates her own family on a quest to uncover the truth. GREAT PHOTO, LOVELY LIFE debuts on HBO December 5th. 

About the filmmaker – Amanda Mustard is an independent photojournalist and filmmaker based between Brooklyn and Bangkok. She is currently accepting assignments and project collaborations worldwide. Mustard has contributed work to clients such as Associated Press, New York Times, Outside Magazine, Monocle, National Geographic PROOF, Le Monde, Al Jazeera, WIRED, Bloomberg, The Smithsonian, Ritz Carlton, Chrysler, Facebook, Colgate, GAVI, amongst others. She is a contributor for Redux Pictures. Mustard is an advocate for the protection and sustainability of the freelance community and gender equality in the media industry. She serves as an advisor for the Photography Ethics Center. Previously, she was a board member and exhibition curator of the Foreign Correspondents Club in Thailand, served four years on the Frontline Freelance Register board, and was a member of the Makeshift Magazine editorial board, an independent quarterly magazine about grassroots innovation around the globe. Her directorial debut, feature-length documentary Great Photo, Lovely Life, premiered at SXSW in March 2023 and will air on HBO December 5, 2023. amandamustard.com

About the filmmaker – Rachel Beth Anderson, a Sundance award winning cinematographer, began her career filming in conflict zones across North Africa and the Middle East. Anderson was on the ground in Egypt during the 2011 uprising for the investigative documentary series PBS Frontline, and has worked on over twenty acclaimed films for the series. Anderson’s focus on the Middle East extended to her shooting award winning independent documentaries E-TEAM, THEO WHO LIVED and her directorial debut, FIRST TO FALL. Broadcast on BBC’s Storyville Global, FIRST TO FALL was born of an 8-month journey spanning the 2011 Libyan war. Screening at festivals worldwide, after premiering at IDFA, the film garnered international praise – among the accolades the film won two grand jury awards at the investigative journalism festival FIGRA in France, the Grand Prix Jury Award at IRFF in Poland, and was featured at the Bayeux-Calvados Award for War Correspondents. Originally from North Dakota, Anderson graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Journalism school, producing a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award winning documentary BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS. Prior to graduating she participated in a Fulbright sponsored journalism program based in Cairo, Egypt focusing on international reporting and conversational Arabic – which led Anderson to officially relocate to Cairo in 2010.Currently Anderson is now based in Brooklyn, NY – where she has continued to collaborate on PBS Frontline docs while directing / filming multiple indie feature films. In the fall of 2019 her second feature, UNSCHOOLED, premiered at DOC NYC and was awarded the Prix D’or – Best of Fest at the Lower East Side Film Festival. UNSCHOOLED, is a character driven film focused on the racial and class disparity of education through a lens of alternative school choices, based in Philadelphia, PA.Anderson recently wrapped production as a Director/DOP on the HBO feature documentary, GREAT PHOTO, LOVELY LIFE. The film is a verite doc following a photojournalist as she turns her lens on the decades of sexual abuse her family and community experienced at the hands of her grandfather in an unflinching portrait of intergenerational trauma, family secrets, and redemption.  rachelbethanderson.com

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“A gut-wrenching saga about illuminating the darkest corners of private lives, and about the difficulty—and perhaps unjustness—of genuine Christian forgiveness.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

“The beauty of the film is that it doesn’t ask you to judge Debi or her mother, so much as to reckon with their complicity, which is fraught and messy and infuriating and tragic all at once.” – Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune

Smoke Sauna Sisterhood – Director Anna Hints

The first documentary by an Estonian director to compete and win at the Sundance Film Festival, Anna Hints’ SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD is a deeply moving, intimate and breathtaking approach to issues of trauma, healing, and community. Filmed almost as if a Vermeer or Rembrandt painting, the camera is never intrusive, never mechanical. Rather, the images move as the smoke – lingering, wafting, suspended briefly before disappearing and reappearing. With an authentic voice and authority born of their own heritage, inspired by her South-East Estonian culture of Võromaa and Setomaa, and the profound teachings of her Võro granny, filmmaker Anna Hints has created a transformative experience of being human within a female body, showing women “as they are” with great emotional veracity and deep empathy. In the darkness of a smoke sauna, women share their innermost secrets and intimate experiences, washing off the shame trapped in their bodies and regaining their strength through a sense of communion. Women share their innermost secrets and intimate experiences inside an Estonian smoke sauna. Cleansing their bodies and baring their souls, they embrace the healing power of sisterhood. Anna Hints’ Sundance-winning documentary celebrates the centuries-old smoke sauna tradition, recognized on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The impact of SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD on the communities represented in the film has been profound. Viewers have connected emotionally with the stories, finding solidarity and empowerment in the shared experiences of these brave women. Director Anna Hints joins us for a conversation on what brought her to documenting this sacred space where women give birth, wash the dead, and express their vulnerability, found self-acceptance, and a collective empowerment for generations to come..

 

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For more go to: greenwichentertainment.com/smoke-sauna-sister

About the filmmaker – Anna Hints is an Estonian film director with a background in contemporary art and experimental folk music. Having deep roots in the distinct culture of South Estonia, Anna’s second home is in India. As an active dumpster diver, Anna’s short documentary For Tomorrow Paradise Arrives (2021) initiated public discussion and growth of new grassroot movements against food waste in Estonia. Anna’s first feature documentary Smoke Sauna Sisterhood premiered at Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Documentary Competition program in January 2023 with Anna winning the Directing Award. After that the film won McBaine Feature Documentary Award at San Francisco International Film Festival Golden Gate Awards, Eurimages Audentia Award for the Best Female Director, two more awards and got nominated for LUX – The European Audience Film Award by European Parliament and European Film Academy. Anna’s upcoming short fiction Weight of Light (2024) depicts the life of female rag pickers in Delhi. Anna is a singer in the electronic-folk trio EETER that was nominated in the Best Film Music category at the Estonian Film and TV Awards 2018. EETER collaborated with Icelandic composer Edvard Egilsson for the original score of Smoke Sauna Sisterhood. Anna is currently pursuing a Masters Degree at the Department of Drama of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. 

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“It’s an intense watch; at times infectiously hilarious, at others wrenchingly sad. For the film’s brief running time, there’s an emotional osmosis at play, in both sauna and cinema alike.” – Wendy Ide, Observer (UK)

“This is a film that weaves a spell, the camera resting often not on the woman talking but on the person listening to her, thereby creating the impression of a universal experience of women.” – Cath Clarke, Guardian

“Hypnotic, intimate and blisteringly honest. No topic is off limits to [the film’s] spiritual sisters as they sweat to cleanse their souls and bodies while also purifying the essence of their viewers.” – Tomris Laffly, Harper’s Bazaar

“It’s a gorgeously captured space carved out away from the world of men, and Hints’s film renders it with lyrical intensity.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox

“A tidal wave of emotion that builds and builds into a crashing catharsis. While most documentaries thrive on the strength of their story, Smoke Sauna Sisterhood is powerful simply because it accords a group of women the space to tell theirs.” – Gayle Sequeira, Film Companion

“The strength of knowing others understand your pain can help fortify you deep in your soul. This is the heart of Hints’ bittersweet yet empowering film.” – Marya E. Gates, RogerEbert.com

Everyone Will Burn – Director David Hebrero

Set in the creepily idyllic village of Leon, Spain,EVERYONE WILL BURN burrows into the tortured life of María José (Macarena Gomez).  She is prepared to end her life after failing to get over the suicide of her bullied son years before. As she teeters on the brink of committing suicide, she encounters a mysterious young girl (newcomer Sofía García) caked in mud and dirt. Everything changes when Lucía appears. It is quickly revealed that the young girl has telekinetic powers and might be the harbinger of the apocalyptic prophecy that exists within town legend. Despite Lucia’s penchant for violence, María José feels an instant kinship with the girl because, like her late son, she has dwarfism — and the two of them face off against the vitriolic community who want to nip the potential hellscape in the bud. With the enigmatic girl by her side, María José faces the corrupt community, overloaded with sadistic secrets and immoral lies that triggers strange events and a series of horrific deaths among the local population. Director and writer David Hebrero (Dulcinea) joins us for a conversation about creating one of the year’s best opening scenes, as well as. how he struck the pitch perfect tone, found the right setting and orchestrated outstanding performances of his superb cast, Sofía García, Rodolfo Sancho, Ana Milán, Rubén Ochandiano, Germán Torres, Ella Kweku, Raquel Lobelos and the spectacularly deranged Macarena Gomez as María José.

 

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drafthousefilms.com/everyonewillburn

Opening 12/1 in LA at drafthouse.com/everyone-will-burn

About the filmmaker – David Hebrero is a Spanish writer, director and director of photography based all over the world. As a writer and director he released his first feature film “Dulcinea” at age 23 and his second feature film “Everyone Will Burn” is scheduled for a 2023 release featuring an all star Spanish cast. He is also the founder and executive producer of Nostalgia Films, a production company that has produced award winning short films like “Seeping Blue” and “NeGrow” both directed by Deja Gordon, music videos, commercials and editorials. As a Director of Photography, he has shot several feature films, commercials, and editorials having shot all around the world. He was also one of the leading Cinematographers for Condé Nast during his time in Los Angeles. David is also an avid music lover and often creates songs for his films.

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93% on RottenTomatoes

“Shocking. Incredible. A must-watch. Macarena Gómez gives a positively stunning, unhinged performance” – Dread Central

“Everyone Will Burn features one of the most ferocious performances of the year and should be sought out by horror fans.” – Alan French, Sunshine State Cineplex

“A fun, fantastical and furious supernatural horror” – Backseat Mafia

“A devilishly good time” – Nightmare of Film Street

“Everyone Will Burn is still a tremendous and unsettling achievement.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

“A stylish, visually polished film that combines characteristic elements of classic horror with a contemporary flair that will appeal to genre fans with a more sophisticated palate” – Screen Zealots

How I Learned to Fly – Director Simon Steuri

HOW I LEARNED TO FLY, beautifully recounts the story of two African-American teenage brothers who suddenly find themselves on their own after being mysteriously abandoned by their parents. Deeply haunted by the mental and physical abuse inflicted by their father (Wu-Tang Clan’s Cliff “Method Man” Smith), elder brother Daniel (Marcus Scribner, ABC’s Black-ish) is determined to keep their lives from falling apart. He maintains a daily routine, works as a dishwasher and does his best to keep a roof over their heads. Younger brother Eli (Lonnie Chavis, NBC’s This Is Us) struggles to cope with the absence of his mother, leaving her voicemail messages in search of answers. Embarking on a journey of survival and self-discovery, they uncover moments of beauty, newfound meaning and enduring love that strengthen their bond despite the uncertain road ahead. HOW I LEARNED TO FLY is a poignant story of determination and resilience in the face of profound adversity. Director / Writer Simon Steuri (Vandals) stops by to talk about the challenges of making the jump from commercials and videos into his feature film debut, working with a terrific cast that includes upcoming actors like Lonnie Davis, Marcus Scribner, and Michele Selene Ang, as well as, veteran actors Clifford “Method Man” Smith, and Cedric the Entertainer. 

 

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For more go to: filmmovement.com/how-i-learned-to-fly

About the filmmaker – Director/Writer Simon Steuri was born in Switzerland, writer and director Simon Steuri got his first start into the entertainment industry as a radio DJ when he was 18 years old. He studied film at the University of Arts in Zürich and soon started shooting music videos and commercials. His short film VANDALS ran in the competition at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival in France. His commercials work has won him several awards. Most recently, one of these films was based on a poem he wrote. The commercial has been translated into six languages. HOW I LEARNED TO FLY is his feature film debut. 

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“Gentle and deeply compassionate, this drama manages to depict harsh realities without being harsh itself, focusing on hope and change.” – Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media

“[A] poignant story of determination and resilience in the face of profound adversity.” – Elaine Hegwood Bowen, The Crusader

“How I Learned to Fly gives the audience a fly-on-the-wall look into a situation that should bring us to righteous anger at the plight of these boys and so many like them.” – Hosea Rupprecht, Pauline Center for Media Studies

“A wise, tender and heartfelt emotional journey. It embraces the message behind Pablo Neruda’s poem, “They can cut all of the flowers, but they can’t stop the spring from coming.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru

Rose – Director Niels Arden Oplev

Award winning director Niels Arden Oplev’s latest film, ROSE, takes place over the course of an eventful week that focuses on the depth of the relationship between two sisters, Inger and Ellen, and how their connection will be tested on a highly anticipated coach trip to Paris. When Inger announces her struggles with mental health to the group, the sisters are faced with pity from some and downright discrimination from others. On arrival in Paris, it soon becomes clear that Inger has a hidden agenda concerning a figure from her past, ultimately involving the entire group in her hunt for answers. The film stars Sofie Gråbøl (star of the hit Danish drama series, “The Killing”) and Lena Maria Christensen. ROSE is a film about love and care for each other, in spite of our differences, as much as it is a film about not judging a book by its cover. After its release in Denmark, ROSE received a number of nominations and accolades from the Danish Film Association and Denmark’s Bodil Awards, including Best Actress at the Bodil Awards and Best Supporting Actress at both the Bodil Awards and Danish Film Association Awards. Director and writer Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl With the Dragon, We Shall Overcome) joins us for a conversation on how a personal inspiration for making ROSE helped him meet the challenge of creating an empathetic and entertaining film about mental illness, and why securing the acting duo Sofie Gråbøl (“Forbrydelsen”/”The Killing”) and Lena Maria Christensen (The Legacy) was crucial to critical and commercial success of the film.

 

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For more go to: gametheoryfilms.com/rose

Opening in LA at the Laemmle Santa Monica on December 8th, 2023 Don’t miss an in-person Q & A with Director Niels Arden Oplev on Saturday 12/9 and Sunday 12/10

Available Digitally Beginning December 26th, 2023

About the filmmaker – Director / Producer / Writer Niels Arden Oplev graduated from National Film School of Denmark in 1989 and made an impressive debut with his student work WINTER’S END, starring screen legend Max Von Sydow, which was nominated for a student Academy Award. His feature debut PORTLAND (1996) was the first and most controversial film in the “new wave” of Danish films from the mid nineties. The film, portraying a violent underground in the northern and rural part of Denmark, was selected for competition at the Berlinale Film Festival, and went on to open Danish film week in Lincoln Center in NYC to great critical acclaim. In addition to his feature work he directed International Emmy Award winning series including UNIT ONE (for which he directed the pilot episode) and THE EAGLE. He returned to the Berlinale with his third feature WE SHALL OVERCOME, which won the Crystal Bear, and his fourth feature WORLDS APART. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (2010), based on the book from Swedish writer Stieg Larsson, is Niels’ fifth feature film. It is the best selling Scandinavian film ever, best selling European film of 2009 and the only Scandinavian film ever to reach more than $100 million in box office. The film was released worldwide to much acclaim, winning the BAFTA for Best Film Not in the English Language. He then directed MILLENIUM, the International Emmy winning series based on the books, the Steven Speilberg produced Stephen King adaptation UNDER THE DOME, and the pilot episode of the hit series MR ROBOT. In addition he has directed the pilot episodes of Dick Wolf’s FBI, and VIKINGS: VALHALLA. Up next for Oplev is the WW2 drama THIRTY-THREE, which stars Mark Strong and Silver Bear winning actress Paula Beer. It is based on the true story of Josef Hartinger, deputy prosecutor in Germany’s Weimar Republic in 1933. 

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“A warm, bittersweet and captivating story about unconditional love. Sofie Gråbøl gives a genuinely heartfelt and raw performance.’ – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru

“The entire ensemble is fantastic in their efforts to illuminate Oplev’s moving familial depiction of two sisters and their deep love for one another.” – Jeanne Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan

“Gråbøl is superb throughout, recognising Inger as a complicated individual who has a lot more going on than just her illness.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film

“ROSE is a Danish film certain to capture the hearts of any serious filmgoers — anchored by the absolutely wonderful portrayal by Sofie Gråbøl as Inger” – David Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill – Director Judy Irving

The beloved 2003 documentary, THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL, has been given a 4K restoration  for a new release is set in San Francisco, there are at least two flocks of largely wild parrots who flock around the city. This film focuses on the flock of cherry-headed conures (and a lonely blue-headed one named Connor) who flock around the Telegraph Hill region of the city and their closest human companion, Mark Bittner. Through his own words, we learn of his life as a frustrated, homeless musician and how he came to live in the area where he decided to explore the nature around him. That lead him to discovering the parrot flock and the individual personalities of it. In a cinematic portrait, we are introduced to his colorful companions and the relationship they share as well as the realities of urban wild life that would change Bittner’s life forever. Director / Producer / Writer / Editor / Cinematographer Judy Irving’s profoundly moving story of human interaction with nature is made personal and universal by Mark Bittner boundless love for Sophie, Picasso, Mingus, Olive, Pushkin, Tupelo and Connor. THE WILD PARROTS OF TELEGRAPH HILL is one the best documentaries of the last 20 years.

 

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For more go to: pelicanmedia.org/wild-parrots

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill was released theatrically in 35mm in 2005 and broadcast on national public television in 2007. The 4K re-mastered, restored version has been released to theaters by Shadow Distribution in 2023 and to streaming platforms by Ro*Co Films in 2024.

About the subject – Although Mark Bittner is no scientist and this is not a “nature film,” he becomes something of an expert as he consults local birders, and as he feeds, names, studies, and protects the cherry-headed conures — escaped pets who have begun to breed in the wilds of the city. Parrot “stars” include Connor, a lonely blue-crowned conure, ostracized by the cherry heads; Picasso and Sophie, an affectionate pair who love to cuddle; Pushkin, a single father who raises three babies on his own; and Mingus, who bebops to Mark’s guitar music.

About the filmmaker – Pelican Media Executive Director Judy Irving is a Sundance-and-Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker whose theatrical credits include The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a feature documentary about the relationship between a homeless street musician and a flock of wild parrots in San Francisco, Pelican Dreams, about California brown pelicans and the people who know them best, Dark Circle, a personal film about the links between nuclear power and weapons, and Cold Refuge, about how swimming in open water mitigates life’s challenges. In 2015 Judy was elected to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Documentary Branch. Wild Parrotswas a “Top Ten Film of the Year” (National Film Critics’ Poll), was the highest-rated program on the national PBS series “Independent Lens,” and is now in international distribution. Pelican Dreams  screened in over 100 theaters and later streamed by Netflix. Dark Circle, which won the Grand Prize at Sundance and a National Emmy, was re-mastered in HD and re-released by First Run Features. Cold Refuge has just begun its flight to festivals and eventual distribution. Judy spent childhood summers on the North Fork of Long Island, and came to love birds thanks to her grandfather. She graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in Psychology and worked as a freelance journalist in Montreal before hitchhiking across the continent and living on a handmade raft-house in British Columbia. Later, she received her Masters in Film and Broadcasting from Stanford University, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in Film. Her documentary film career has taken her to Alaska, Japan, Russia, Nepal, and Zimbabwe, with peace and the environment as her main areas of interest. Somehow, birds seem to show up in every movie. Judy’s six-film documentary series about the San Francisco Bay Area’s wildlife and open space led to her interest in the wild parrot flock flying the city’s north waterfront, and her habit of swimming year-round in the Bay led to her most recent documentary, Cold Refuge

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95% on RottenTomatoes

“An absolute delight and nothing like the wimpy nature film its title suggests. It’s a soaring — figuratively and literally — documentary with a surprising emotional power.” – Eleanor Ringel Cater, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Irving’s insightful, glorious little documentary reveals larger personal truths for her subject while exploring a hidden society of unwanted parrots.” – Robert K. Elder, Chicago Tribune

“By the end of the movie, you might find yourself so wrapped up in Bittner and the parrots that you have tears in your eyes.” – Russell Scott Smith, New York Post

“Quite simply, a beautiful film, in both form and content.” – Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

“An excellent film. By all means, flock to it!” – Phil Hall, Film Threat

“Bittner has a passion for these parrots, he’s taken the time to painstakingly befriend them, and Telegraph Hill takes you into his world as completely as he has gone into theirs.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Genuinely sweet, beautifully constructed documentary.” – Sura Wood, Hollywood Reporter

South to Black Power – Co-directors Llewellyn M. Smith & Sam Pollard

On the eve of last year’s midterm elections, Charles M. Blow, New York Times columnist and best-selling author of “The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto,” sets off across the country on a personal journey to test his theory on Black Liberation, which involves a daring strategy for Black Americans to move to the southern states to control southern legislatures and gain greater political power. Conversing with politicians, historians, community activists, colleagues, friends, and family members, Blow challenges Black Americans to disrupt the status quo by affecting change at the polls through reverse migration and gain control over states that already have the highest percentages of Black residents. Co-directors Llewellyn M. Smith and Sam Pollard’s thought provoking feature documentary SOUTH TO BLACK POWER also takes us on a journey through Blow’s personal story, from his childhood in Louisiana to his relentless commitment to racial justice, revealing the hard-won truths that illuminate his vision for the future. As the returns from the midterm elections roll in, Blow watches, acknowledging the gains, but also reflects on the possibility that a historic political transformation in the South might not come in his lifetime. Co-directors Llewellyn M. Smith and Sam Pollard join us for a conversation on the conflicted history of The Great Migration, the lack of substantive political and economic progress for Black Americans everywhere, and how Charles Blow’s provocative proposal to re-populate a handful of Southern states with enough Black voters to propel a seismic political shift in power towards a more equitable America.

 

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For more go to: hbo.com/south-to-black-power

The HBO Original documentary SOUTH TO BLACK POWER, a This Machine production, directed by Peabody and Emmy®-winning filmmaker Sam Pollard (HBO’s “Hostages,” “Black Art: In the Absence of Light”) and Peabody winner Llewellyn M. Smith (“Poisoned Water”), debuts TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28 (10:00-11:30 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO and will be available to stream on Max. 

About the subject – Charles M. Blow is an Op-Ed columnist at The New York Times where his column appears on Thursdays and Mondays. Blow’s columns tackle hot-button issues such as social justices, racial equality, presidential politics, police violence, gun control, and the Black Lives Matter Movement. He is also a CNN commentator and a Presidential Visiting Professor at Yale, where he teaches a seminar on media and politics. Blow is the author of the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones. The book won a Lambda Literary Award and the Sperber Prize and made multiple prominent lists of best books published in 2014. People Magazine called it “searing and unforgettable.” He joined The New York Times in 1994 as a graphics editor and quickly became the paper’s graphics director, a position he held for nine years. Blow went on to become the paper’s design director for news before leaving in 2006 to become the art director of National Geographic Magazine. Before coming to The Times, He had worked at The Detroit News. Blow graduated magna cum laude from Grambling State University in Louisiana, where he received a B.A. in mass communications, and he holds an honorary doctorate from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. He lives in Brooklyn and has three children.

About the filmmaker – Llewellyn M. Smith’s filmography focuses on stories of history and science that illuminate social inequality and transformation. He is the recipient of Peabody and duPont awards, and other honors. The ground-breaking projects Llew has produced, directed or contributed to include Eyes On The Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1987); Race: The Power Of An Illusion (2003); Reconstruction: The Second Civil War (2004);  Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? (2008);  Herskovits At The Heart Of Blackness (2010), American Denial (2015),  Wounded Places: Confronting PTSD In America’s Shell-Shocked Cities (2014), and Slavery In Effect (2016). As the first Story Editor for PBS’s American Experience (1988) Llew was central in the origination, development and acquisition of more than 70 programs for the acclaimed series. He was project director for the Emmy award-winning series Africans In America: America’s Journey Through Slavery (1997), and directed and produced the final episode Judgment Day. For the PBS science series NOVA, Llew produced and directed Forgotten Genius (2007), the award-winning profile of African American chemist and activist Percy Julian. His film Poisoned Water (2017), an examination of the Flint water crisis, won the AAAS Kavli International Science Journalism Award for best investigative television. His documentary Cuba’s Cancer Hope (2020) tells why some American cancer patients defy the U.S. embargo on Cuba to seek lifesaving immunotherapy treatment in this socialist country. He is a writer/director for documentary series on Future of Work (2021) and the NOVA program  Criminals vs Crime (2022), a look at the increasing role of Artificial Intelligence in our criminal legal system. In 2021 Black Public Media named Llew one of the Top 40 Game Changers in public media over the last 40 years.

About the filmmaker – Sam Pollard is a veteran feature film and television video editor, and documentary producer/director. Between 1990 and 2010, he edited a number of Spike Lee films: Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever, Girl 6, Clockers, and Bamboozled. Pollard and Lee co-produced a number of documentary productions for the small and big screen, including Four Little Girls, a feature-length documentary about the 1963 Birmingham church bombings which was nominated for an Academy Award® in 1998 and When The Levees Broke, a four-part documentary that won numerous awards, including a Peabody and three Emmy Awards. Five years later 2010 he co-produced and supervised the edit on the follow up, If God Is Willing And Da Creek Don’t Rise. As a producer/director, since 2015, his credits include: Slavery By Another Name, (2015) a 90-minute documentary for PBS that was in competition at the Sundance Festival; August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand, (2015) a 90-minute documentary for American Masters; Two Trains Runnin, a feature length documentary, which premiered at the Full Frame Film Festival in 2016; and Sammy Davis Jr., I’ve Gotta Be Me for American Masters premièred at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. In 2019, he co-directed the six-part series, Why We Hate, which premiered on The Discovery Channel. In 2020 he was one of the directors on the 2020 HBO Series Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children. also that year, he completed MLK/FBI,  which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and was also featured at the New York Film Festival. 

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“In a nice bit of journalistic even-handedness, several of Blow’s interviewees are not entirely convinced by his thesis, or they believe there are other paths to political gains.” – Lisa Kennedy, New York Times

“In their sprawling, often engaging adaptation of the book, Pollard and Smith have taken a work of political science and made it quite personal.” – John Fink, The Film Stage

5000 Space Aliens – Director Scott Bateman & Producer Lucas A. Ferrara

Ever wondered what it’d be like to encounter an extraterrestrial? Now, imagine experiencing this every single second. Scott Bateman’s latest mind-boggling feature film 5000 SPACE ALIENS means what it says because the viewer is going to experience the cinematic experience of “meeting’ 5000 space aliens in 5000 seconds that’s (83 minutes). The film is a wild  animated film that uses computer-manipulated found footage and collage, all created by director Scott Bateman and brought  to you by producer Lucas A. Ferrara. 5000 SPACE ALIENS is an entertaining non-narrative film unlike anything  you’ve ever seen before. It’s a one-man tour de force: Scott Bateman not only created the animated footage, he also composed the 84-minute score! Scott Bateman spent 2-1/2 years manipulating weird public domain footage in Photoshop, Fireworks, and Premiere Pro to create the 5000 one-second portraits that make up 5000 Space Aliens. Packed with memorable visual images, let all 5000 SPACE ALIENS wash over you. Director Scott Bateman (You Your Brain & You) and Producer /Attorney Lucas A. Ferrara join us for a lively conversation on their unlikely collaboration, the joy of work on this outside-the-box film project and the very encouraging reception that 5000 Space Aliens has received  from a wide variety of audiences.

 

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For more go to: 5000spacealiens.com

About the filmmaker – Scott Bateman is a filmmaker in New York’s Hudson Valley. He has directed the feature films 5000 Space Aliens (2021), The Bateman Lectures on Depression (2018), and You Your Brain & You (2015). He wrote the humor book Disalmanac: A Book of Fact-Like Facts (Penguin/TarcherPerigee, 2013). He has funded previous films with game show appearances: he was a one-day Jeopardy! champion, and he won $100,000 (and a cruise!) on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire.

About the filmmaker – Before venturing into the world of filmmaking, and aligning with amazing creatives, like Scott Bateman, Producer Lucas A. Ferrara primarily earned a living as a New York lawyer, heading a Manhattan law firm engaged in real estate, consumer protection, and civil rights work. (In 2020 alone, his successes include a $42 million class action settlement in a case brought on behalf of a group of NYC tenants.)  For four years in a row, Lucas has been recognized as a “Top 100” New York Metro area lawyer by “Super Lawyers” magazine. You can read more about him and his work at www.nfllp.com.

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“Imagine if Andy Warhol’s silkscreens came to life and danced before your eyes…the future has landed!” – Film Threat

“A one-of-a-kind rollercoaster experience!” – Screen Rant

“Great example of filmmaking in quarantine!” – Dan Mirvish – Slamdance co-founder

“Takes a simple idea and uses it to drill down into something deep rooted in the human psyche” ★★★★★ @EyeForFilm

“One of the coolest things I’ve seen this year, Wow! – 366 Weird Movies

Down in Dallas Town (From JFK to K2) – Director Alan Govenar

Alan Govenar’s beautifully rendered meditation, Down in Dallas Town (From JFK to KS)2 takes us to the shifting perceptions of public memory sixty years after the murder of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Through interviews with people on the street and songs recorded to memorialize JFK in the mid-1960s, the film explores the impact of the assassination on issues in today’s world, from lingering conspiracy theories to the proliferation of gun violence, homelessness, and the scourge of K2. Personal narratives are juxtaposed with the sentiments articulated in blues, gospel, norteño, and calypso recordings to haunting affect. Especially poignant is the account of Mary Ann Moorman, who returns to the assassination site fifty years later and details the making of her Polaroid photograph of the fatal head shot that killed JFK as the motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza. This resonant new film by Alan Govenar confronts ways we come to terms with the past through the power of storytelling, image-making, and a songbook that is largely unknown. Award winning filmmaker Alan Govenar (The Beat Hotel, Tattoo Uprising) joins us to talk about how the Kennedy legend continues to hold sway over people born long after his traumatizing public execution, the power of song in framing the Kennedy legacy, getting Mary Ann Moorman to participate in the making of this film and the impact of poverty and homelessness on the social fabric of a fraying society wracked by violence.

 

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For more go to: firstrunfeatures.com/downindallastown

About the filmmaker – Alan Govenar is an award-winning writer, poet, playwright, photographer, and filmmaker. He is director of Documentary Arts, a non-profit organization he founded to advance essential perspectives on historical issues and diverse cultures. Govenar is a Guggenheim Fellow and the author of more than thirty books, including Boccaccio in the Berkshires, Paradise in the Smallest Thing, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Untold Glory, Texas Blues, Stompin’ at the Savoy, Everyday Music, Texas in Paris, and A Pillow on the Ocean of Time. His book Osceola: Memories of a Sharecropper’s Daughter won First Place in the New York Book Festival (Children’s Non-Fiction), a Boston Globe-Hornbook Honor; and an Orbis Pictus Honor from the National Council of Teachers of English.  Govenar’s film, Stoney Knows How, based on his book by the same title about Old School tattoo artist Leonard St. Clair, was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and was selected as an Outstanding Film of the Year by the London Film Festival. His documentaries The Beat Hotel, Master Qi and the Monkey King, You Don’t Need Feet to Dance, Tattoo Uprising, Extraordinary Ordinary People, Myth of a Colorblind France and Looking for Home are distributed by First Run Features.  Govenar’s theatrical works include the musicals Blind Lemon: Prince of Country Blues, Blind Lemon Blues, Lonesome Blues (with Akin Babatundé), Texas in Paris, and Stompin’ at the Savoy.

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“Beautifully crafted with sensitivity and intelligence, it takes us beyond the images of 11/22/63 that have become so familiar that they have lost their initial power.” – Andrea Chase, Killer Movie Reviews

“What was particularly interesting is interviews with people who were there.” – Rachel Wagner, Rachel’s Reviews

“Down in Dallas Town is an illuminating documentary that delves into the memory of Kennedy, the art of photography and music, the struggles of homelessness, and the prevalence of gun violence.” – Andrew Stover, Film Threat

“Fascinating and eye-opening” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru

The Stones and Brian Jones – Director Nick Broomfield

Nick Broomfield’s new documentary THE STONES & BRIAN JONES uncovers the true story and legacy of Brian Jones, the founder and creative genius of The Rolling Stones.  As a schoolboy aged 14, Nick Broomfield met Brian Jones, by chance, on a train. Brian was at the height of his success, with the world at his feet, yet just six years later he would be dead. THE STONES & BRIAN JONES looks at the relationships and rivalries within The Rolling Stones in those formative years. It explores the iconoclastic freedom and exuberance of the 60s, a time of social conflict and sexual turmoil which reflects on where we are today. Featuring revealing interviews with all the main players and unseen archive released for the first time, THE STONES & BRIAN JONES explores the creative musical genius of Jones, key to the success of the band, and uncovers how the founder of what became the greatest rock & roll band in the world was left behind in the shadows of history. Director / Producer / Writer / Narrator Nick Broomfield (Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer, Kurt and Courtney) joins us for a conversation on meeting Brian Jones, connecting with his middle class sensibility, telling much of the story through the women in his life, and Brian’s love of American Blues artist’s and their music.

 

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For more go to: magpictures.com/thestonesandbrianjones

The Stones and Brian Jones is now available on VOD

About the filmmaker – Nick Broomfield studied Law at Cardiff, and Political Science at Essex University, he then went onto study film at the National Film School, under Professor Colin Young. Nick first got interested aged 15 when discovering his love for photography on a foreign exchange visit in France. “A great way to strike up conversations, and a great excuse to ask questions about the World around you”.  He made his first film ‘Who Cares’ about Slum Clearance in Liverpool, while at university, by borrowing a wind up Bolex camera, and shooting it on short ends. Professor Colin Young at the NFS had a great influence on his work encouraging participant observation, as well as introducing him to the lovely and most talented Joan Churchill. Together Joan and Nick made several films, ‘Juvenille Liaison’, Tattooed Tears’, ‘Soldier Girls’, ‘Lily Tomlin’, and more recently ‘Aileen: The Life and Death of a Serial Killer’. They also have a son together. Nick was originally influenced by the observational style of Fred Wiseman, and Robert Leacock and Pennebaker, before moving on largely by accident to the more idiosyncratic style for which he is better known. While making ‘Driving me Crazy’ in 1988 a film hopelessly out of control, Nick decided to place himself and the producer of the film in the story, as a way of making sense of the event. This experiment led to a sense of greater freedom, from the confines of observational cinema, and led to a more investigative and experimental type of filmmaking. ie ‘The Leader, the Driver and the Drivers Wife’, ‘Aileen Wuornos’, ‘Kurt and Courtney’ and ‘Biggie and Tupac’.  Nick Broomfield is the recipient of the following awards amongst others, Sundance first prize, British Academy Award, Prix Italia, Dupont Peabody Award, Grierson Award, Hague Peace Prize, Amnesty International Doen Award. 

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“A surprisingly poignant study of the Rolling Stones co-founder…” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter

“Indeed, Broomfield has created the definitive documentary on the early days of the Rolling Stones; even more crucially, he has shown both how the Stones became THE STONES and the cost of that success.” – Christopher Schobert, The Film Stage

“A brilliant exploration of the tortured soul of the founder of the Rolling Stones.” – James Verniere, Boston Herald

“… An absorbing film which aims to restore Jones to his rightful place as a central figure in the story of The Rolling Stones.” – Anita Singh, Daily Telegraph (UK)

“All told, “The Stones and Brian Jones” recaptures a wild time, the price at least one man paid  and some of the collateral damage done in the process.” – Bob Strauss, San Francisco Chronicle

The Disappearance of Shere Hite – Director Nicole Newnham

The Hite Report, a groundbreaking study of the intimate experiences of women, remains one of the bestselling books of all time since its publication in 1976. Drawn from anonymous survey responses, the book challenged restrictive conceptions of sex and opened a dialogue in popular culture around women’s pleasure. Its charismatic author, Shere Hite, a feminist sex researcher and former  model, became the public messenger of women’s  secret confessions. With each subsequent bestseller, she engaged television titans in unforgettably explicit debates about sexuality while suffering the backlash her controversial findings provoked. But few remember Shere Hite today. What led to her erasure? Digging into exclusive archives, as well as Hite’s personal journals and the original survey responses, filmmaker Nicole Newnham (Crip Camp, The Revolutionary Optimists) transports viewers back to a time of great societal transformation around sexuality. Her revelatory portrait is a re-discovery of a pioneer who has had an unmistakable influence on current conversations about gender, sexuality, and bodily autonomy, as well as a timely, cautionary tale of what too often happens to women who dare speak out.

 

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For more go to: ifcfilms.com/the-disappearance-of-shere-hite

About the filmmaker – Nicole Newnham is an Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning documentary producer and director, five-time Sundance Film Festival alumnus and six-time Emmy nominee. She most recently directed The Disappearance of Shere Hite, which premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and will be released by IFC films this fall, and two episodes of the Emmy-nominated ESPN landmark Title-1X series 37 Words. Nicole co-directed and produced the 2021 Academy Award-nominated documentary Crip Camp with Jim LeBrecht. The film won the 2020 Sundance Audience Award, the IDA Best Feature Documentary Award, the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature, and a Peabody. Nicole has produced two virtual reality films with artist/director Lynette Wallworth that have each won an Emmy for Outstanding New Approaches to Documentary: the breakthrough VR work Collisions (2017) and Awavena (2019). Both films premiered at Sundance New Frontiers and were featured in installation form at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Nicole’s other acclaimed documentaries include, the Emmy-nominated films The Revolutionary Optimists, Sentenced Home and The Rape of Europa. A graduate of Oberlin College and Stanford University’s documentary film graduate program, Nicole lives in Berkeley, CA with her husband, Tom Malarkey, and sons Finn and Blaine.

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“The documentary traces the major events of Hite’s career, marking the importance of her conclusions… as well as the emotional toll constantly defending her work took as her challengers attacked not only the integrity of her research, but her personally.”Sarah Gopaul, Digital Journal

“[An] absorbing portrait of a complex, at times contradictory woman – shy and flamboyant, unyielding and wounded, a truth-seeker who deserves resurged acknowledgement.”The Guardian, Adrian Horton

“Combining the delights of an eccentric character study with the tension of a thrilling investigation, “The Disappearance of Shere Hite” restores a forgotten trailblazer in sexuality studies to her rightful place in feminist history.” – Jude Dry, indieWire

“This film speaks with a fiery spark that should empower generations of viewers who share Hite’s hunger for change. And if it irks another generation of men unwilling to accept progress, then so much the better.” – Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

“You are not alone if you simply can’t stop asking yourself, “How on earth did I not know about this woman before?”Variety, Jessica Kiang

A Still Small Voice – Director Luke Lorentzen & Producer Kellen Quinn

In most US hospitals, alongside medical responses to illness and injury, lesser-known interventions take place every day. Responding to patients, family members and hospital staff who are experiencing spiritual and emotional distress, chaplains sit at bedsides, helping people to deepen connections with themselves, one another, and a world beyond this one. A STILL SMALL VOICE follows Mati, a chaplain completing a year-long residency at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital, as she learns to provide spiritual care to people confronting profound life changes. Following his acclaimed 2019 film MIDNIGHT FAMILY, director Luke Lorentzen digs into Mati’s spiritual work as an entry point to explore how we seek meaning in suffering, uncertainty, and grief. Through Mati’s experiences with her patients, her struggle with professional burnout, and her own spiritual questioning, we gain new perspectives on how meaningful connection can be and how painful its absence is. As Mati and her patients take stock of their lives and experiences, space opens up to reflect on our own. The award winning team of Director Luke Lorentzen (Midnight Family, Last Chance U) and Producer Kellen Quinn (In Silico, Brimstone & Glory, Time) join us for a conversation on the incredible work being done chaplains and caregivers to provide a measure of empathy, dignity and spiritual comfort to those facing profound uncertainty.

 

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For more go to: astillsmallvoicefilm.com

How to watch: astillsmallvoicefilm.com/screenings

Nov. 17 – 24 at the Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles

Sundance Film Festival 2023 – Directing Award U.S. Documentary Competition

About the filmmaker – Luke Lorentzen is an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and a graduate of Stanford University’s department of Art and Art History. His most recent film, A Still Small Voice, premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival where it won the U.S. Documentary Best Director Award. His previous film, Midnight Family, has won over 35 awards from film festivals and organizations around the world including a Special Jury Award for Cinematography at the Sundance Film Festival, Best Editing from the International Documentary Association, and the Golden Frog for Best Documentary from Camerimage. Midnight Family was shortlisted for the 2020 Best Documentary Oscar and was a New York Times ‘Critics’ Pick’. Luke’s other work as a director and cinematographer includes the Netflix original series, Last Chance U, which won an Emmy for Outstanding Serialized Sports Documentary in 2020. With Kellen Quinn, Luke is a co-founder of the independent production company Hedgehog Films. For more go to: lukelorentzen.com

About the filmmaker – Kellen Quinn is an Oscar-nominated producer whose credits include Garrett Bradley’s Time (Oscar nominated; Sundance 2020 winner of the Directing Award, US Documentary Competition), Luke Lorentzen’s A Still Small Voice (Sundance 2023 winner of the Directing Award, US Documentary Competition) and Midnight Family (shortlisted for Documentary Feature Oscar; Sundance 2019 winner of Special Jury Award for Cinematography, US Documentary Competition), Noah Hutton’s In Silico (DOC NYC 2020), Daniel Hymanson’s So Late So Soon (True/False 2020) and Viktor Jakovleski’s Brimstone & Glory (True/False 2017; aired on POV). Kellen was selected for the Dear Producer Award in 2023 and DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 class in 2020. In 2017 and 2018, he participated in the Sundance Documentary Creative Producing Lab and Fellowship. In 2016, he was among six producers selected for Impact Partners’ Documentary Producers Fellowship. With Luke Lorentzen, Kellen co-founded the independent production company Hedgehog Films. 

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95% on RottenTomatoes

“Unforgettable. A Still Small Voice is about listening for inner truth and bearing witness.” – The Hollywood Reporter, Sheri Linden

“Lorentzen’s camera sits quietly and nonjudgmentally so that his soft-spoken subjects can explore and express the grandest themes imaginable: what it means to live, and how we learn to die.” – THE WRAP, Elizabeth Weitzman

“One of the most rewarding character studies audiences will see this year. . . . therapeutically moving and a work of radical empathy for turbulent times.” – Pat Mullen, POV Magazine

“The holy water is in a Styrofoam cup. Somewhere, a door slams. It’s human and messy — and it’s divine.” – Amy Nicholson, New York Times

“Carries immeasurable strength from within,” – The Movable Fest

“One of the most profound and rewarding experiences any film offers this year.” – IndieWire, Christian Blauvelt

Your Lucky Day – Director Daniel Brown and Actor Jessica Garza

Director / writer / producer Daniel Brown’s riveting feature film debut, YOUR LUCK DAY takes viewers into the dark soul of humanity and the greedy perversion of the American Dream, winning the lottery. With Christmas cheer in the air, six strangers have converged at a convenience store: a struggling store owner, an overbearing wealthy man, a luckless criminal, an expectant couple, and a trigger happy rookie cop. Together, they witness the wealthy man discover that he is holding a lottery ticket worth $156 million dollars.  At gunpoint the criminal demands the winning ticket. The cop tries to stop the robbery, he shoots first — accidentally killing the wealthy man. In the ensuing confusion, the criminal takes out the cop. The criminal persuades the group to join him in a pact. Money for a cover-up. But they have failed to notice that the cop is still alive. The cop contacts his father, himself an ex-cop, who enlists his former partners, to help save his son and steal the winning ticket for themselves. A showdown is coming. Who will survive? And how far will all of them go to become a millionaire?  Director Daniel Brown and Actor Jessica Garza Penny Dreadful: City of Angels) join us for a conversation on how this complex plot and merciless character study came together for Brown’s first feature length film. And how Garza prepared herself for her character’s wild ride through this brutishly relentless and bloody tale.

 

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For more go to: wellgousa.com/films/your-lucky-day

About the filmmaker – Based in Seattle, Daniel Brown is an Emmy-nominated director, writer and storyteller. He has cultivated an eclectic approach, drawing inspiration from film, literature, illustration, animation and music. His art film Color TV, No Vacancy, described as, “Disney meets David Lynch” by Vice, received impressive critical buzz. Dan boasts multiple short film awards, and has won acclaim for his music videos for prominent artists such as ODESZA, Portugal. the Man and Jon Bellion. When released online, his short film Your Lucky Day amassed over a million views in a matter of days. Your Lucky Day is Daniel’s feature film debut. 

About the actor – Jessica Garza (Ana Marlene): JESSICA GARZA is best known in her role as ‘Josephina Vega’ in Showtime’s star-studded series, PENNY DREADFUL: CITY OF ANGELS, where she was seen alongside Nathan Lane, Natalie Dormer, Daniel Zovatto and Rory Kinnear. Previously, she starred in the television adaptation of the hugely successful feature Franchise, THE Purge, for USA. Originally from Texas, Jessica’s career launched from her role in the highly acclaimed series, SIX, which starred Walton Goggins and Juan Pablo Raba and was based on the historical ‘Seal Team Six.’ Her other credits include CBS’s PURE GENIUS and CBS’s SUPERGIRL. Jessica currently resides in NYC. 

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88% on RottenTomatoes

“It’s thrilling and suspenseful, with enough twists to keep you guessing, but the pointed commentary is impossible to ignore.” – Sheila O’Malley, RogerEbert.com

“Complex and confronting, Your Lucky Day highlights the downfall of the American dream and system beautifully. A solid script and some excellent elements of suspense ensure that this is one Christmas you won’t forget in a hurry.” – Kat Hughes, THN

“It’s a twisty, thrilling, unbearably tense rollercoaster ride that’s difficult to predict and keeps you on the edge of your seat. For those who enjoy a bit more depth to their action-packed thrills, Brown’s compelling script offers plenty of that, too.” – Stephanie Malone, Morbidly Beautiful

“Brown uses it to craft an intense siege thriller filled with characters making surprising choices and moral concessions. Anchored by Garza’s charismatic, primal turn, Your Lucky Day makes for an impressive debut that’ll leave you on edge.” – Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting

“Writer-director Daniel Brown’s crime drama is deceptively simple with a beer case’s worth of twists, most of which are unpredictable but make perfect character sense as they unfold.” – Bob Strauss, San Francisco Chronicle

The Only Girl in the Orchestra – Director Molly O’Brien

Director Molly O’Brien debut short documentary,  THE ONLY GIRL IN THE ORCHESTRA, dives into the remarkable life of her trailblazing double bassist aunt Orin O’Brien.  She never wanted the spotlight, but when Leonard Bernstein hired her in 1966 as the first female musician in the New York Philarmonic, it was inevitable that she would become the focus of much interest and fascination. Now 87 years old and recently retired, Orin looks back on her remarkable life and career, insisting that a fuss should not be made, much preferring to play a supporting role to the family, students, friends, and colleagues that surround her. In the delightful short documentary, THE ONLY GIRL IN THE ORCHESTRA, filmmaker Molly O’Brien beautifully captures her aunt Orin’s prodigious contributions as a musician as well as her unique philosophy that the key to enjoying life is to play second fiddle. Director Molly O’Brien (The Disappearance of Shere Hite), joins us for a conversation on her aunt’s seamless transition into “retirement”, mentoring young musician, her cinematic love letter that captures Orin’s passion, essence and perseverance…bottling it and offering it to audiences as a visual perfume.

 

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For more go to: onlygirlintheorchestra.com

DOC NYC SCREENINGS: 
Thursday, November 9 at 9:15 PM ET @ IFC Center – World Premiere
Wednesday, November 15 at 9:15 PM ET @ Village East by Angelika
 
ONLINE SCREENING DATES:
Wednesday, November 8 – Sunday, November 26

 

About the filmmaker – Molly O’Brien — Head of Documentary, NBC News Studios Molly provides collaborative oversight to NBC News Studios new premium documentary business. Prior to NBC News Studios, Molly was the Executive Producer Special Projects at Abigail Disney’s Fork Films, and the founding producer of Sundance Institute’s Catalyst Initiative. She is an Academy Award shortlisted and a prime-time Emmy award winning producer with over two decades of experience producing documentary series and feature films. Her work has been featured on dozens of streaming and broadcast platforms, and has premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, IDFA, and Full Frame Film Festival among others. In 2015, in collaboration with Kartemquin, O’Brien produced the successful six-month grassroots Indie Caucus campaign that resulted in keeping the non-fiction series’ POV and Independent Lens in prime time on flagship PBS stations across the country. In 2000, O’Brien won a Primetime Emmy Award for Producing Outstanding Non-Fiction Program (American High, FOX), was nominated for the Primetime Emmy in 2001 (American High), and made a 2010 Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellow (Cesar’s Last Fast, Netflix / Pivot / Univision). Additionally, she was the Supervising Producer for the Unilever branded short, #Selfie which won a Clio Image Award in 2014.

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You Were My First Boyfriend – Co-director Cecilia Aldarondo & Sarah Enid Hagey

What if you could rewrite your adolescence? In this high school reunion movie turned inside out, YOU WERE MY FIRST BOYFRIEND, award-winning filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo embarks on a fantastical quest to reconcile her tortured teen years. She ‘goes back’ in more ways than one, tracking down old foes and friends while also reenacting visceral memories of youthful humiliation and desire. Oscillating between present and past, hallucination and reality, YOU WERE MY FIRST BOYFRIEND, is a hybrid documentary that explores the power of adolescent fantasy, the subtle violence of cultural assimilation, and the fun house mirror of time’s passage. Perhaps we will all learn something about growing older and making peace with what haunts us. Aldarondo is an award-winning documentary filmmaker from the Puerto Rican diaspora whose previous titles include MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART and LANDFALL.  She takes viewers on a journey through the universal and very relatable social hierarchy of her younger years. As an outcast who always wanted to be a part of the ‘in’ crowd, she spent years pining for a boy who didn’t know she existed. With the insight that comes with age, she takes an honest look at who she was, who she was trying to be, and ultimately who she is today. YOU WERE MY FIRST BOYFRIEND is co-directed by Sarah Enid Hagey, a filmmaker, artist, performer, comedy sketch writer, and sound designer who has edited for over twenty years. The film is Sarah’s first feature length directing experience. Co-directors Cecilia Aldarondo and Sarah Enid Hagey join us for a conversation on they went about collaborating on a project that creatively explores the power of adolescent fantasy, and the subtle violence of cultural assimilation in the hope that we all can learn something about growing older and making peace with that which haunts us.

 

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For more go to: hbo.com/movies/you-were-my-first-boyfriend

The HBO original documentary film will debut on Wednesday, November 8th on HBO and available to stream on MAX 

About the filmmaker – Cecilia Aldarondo is an award-winning documentary director-producer whose work has been supported by the Sundance Institute, Firelight Media, Field of Vision, IFP, the Jerome Foundation, and many others. Her feature documentary Memories of a Penitent Heart had its World Premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival and will be broadcast on POV in 2017. She is a 2017 Women at Sundance Fellow and was named by Filmmaker Magazine as one of 2015’s ’25 New Faces of Independent Film. For more: blackscracklefilms.com

About the filmmaker – Sarah Enid Hagey is a filmmaker and artist. She is a recipient of the San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie Award for Best Emerging Filmmaker and a grant from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. Her work has screened internationally at institutions including The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and MoMA Doc Fortnight. Her work can be seen on feature length documentaries including MR. ANGEL (2013), GRIT & GRIND (2014 Berlinale premiere), the Emmy nominated PBS feature LANDSCAPES OF ENCHANTMENT (2010),  ART HOUSE (2013) and narrative films including the much anticipated film. Happy Birthday, Marsha!, as well as many short fiction films. For more: sarahenidhagey.com

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“Despite its title, “You Were My First Boyfriend” is at its most effective when Aldarondo moves beyond teen lust and into the more complicated aspects of her upbringing.” – Claire Shaffer, New York Times

“Emotionally, it works. Watching it, I oscillated between being tickled, disturbed, and challenged. Long after the credits finished, I was left pondering my own adolescence, wondering if the narratives I’ve told myself are true and to what extent.” – Cristina Escobar, LatinaMedia.Co

“You Were My First Boyfriend is a painful and beautiful journey where Cecilia Aldarondo lays her soul bare for all to see. We want to hold the hand of the young woman she was and the wonderfully brave woman she is.” – Nadine Whitney, AWFJ.org

“A perfect film for teens to watch and reflect upon.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat

Bella – Director Bridget Murnane

BELLA is a feature-length documentary about the life, work, influence, and impact of Los Angeles-based dancer, choreographer, and arts activist Bella Lewitzky, who was referred by dance critic Walter Terry as “one of the greatest American dancers of our age.The film incorporates rare archival footage of Lewitzky’s performances and interviews with Lewitzky’s former students and dancers, and it demonstrates how a “uniquely Californian” artist with vision and tenacity influenced the lives of her fellow citizens. Bella Lewitzky joined Lester Horton’s multi-racial modern dance company in 1934, became his lead dancer, and helped develop the Horton Technique. She formed her own dance company in 1966 and continued to dance at the age of 62. Lewitzky was as famous off stage as on,  thanks to her battles for freedom of expression against the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s and the National Endowment for the Arts in 1990. Director Bridget Murnane (Mia, a Dancer’s Journey, The Ballerina) joins us for a conversation on the indomitable spirit and powerful grace that Bella Lewitsky brought to her dancing, teaching and her life over the course of her illustrious career. BELLA had its World Premiere at the 2022 Madrid International Film Festival and screened at over fifty festivals world-wide, including the Palm Springs International Film Festival. BELLA has won seventeen awards including Best Documentary at Dance Camera West.

 

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For more go to: bellasfilm.com

BELLA will open at the Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles on November 10

Bella Lewitzky was designated one of America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures by the Dance Heritage Coalition and awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.A special photography exhibit will accompany the film’s theatrical release at the Laemmle Royal: “The Horton Dance Group, 1938” featuring Bella Lewitzky, photographed by Viktor von Pribosic and curated by filmmaker Bridget Murnane. And a reconstruction of Lewitzky’s “Game Plan,” by Walter Kennedy, former Lewitzky dancer/rehearsal director, and Associate Producer of the film, will be performed by the students at California State University, Dominguez Hills Theatre and Dance Department in Carson, CA on November 8-11.  

About the filmmaker – Producer/Director Bridget Murnane has exhibited her work on theatrical, broadcast and cable platforms. She received an MA in Dance and an MFA in Television and Film Production from UCLA, and is a former Professor of Television, Film and Media Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. Bridget produced the feature Odile and Yvette at the Edge of the World, premiering at the Edinburgh Film Festival, and receiving theatrical distribution. Her films have been broadcast on PBS, as well as numerous cable channels. She was the Associate Producer on Mia a Dancer’s Journey, winning a 2015 LA Emmy for Arts, Culture and History, and Cindy, Telly and Golden Mike awards. She was awarded a Pew Fellowship and selected to be a Faculty Fellow by the Television Academy in 2017. In 2019 Bridget received a grant from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to design and implement the course “Women Making Films” in collaboration with Canon Burbank. Bridget’s recent film, “Bella,” a feature documentary about choreographer/dancer/arts activist Bella Lewitzky, has received 17 awards and screened in over 50 festivals. “Bella” receives its theatrical premiere at the Laemmle Royal, Los Angeles, November 10-16, and will be streamed and broadcast on PBS SoCal in March 2024.

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“Informative, absorbing bio-doc about work on stage and off of dancer/choreographer Bella Lewitzky. With an amazing array of dance and archival clips, from early performances in ’30s through her company’s final curtain call in ’97, primary voice is hers.” – Nora Lee Mandel, Maven’s Nest

“Although seen entirely through her eyes, suffering no contrary opinions, it is wonderful to renew an acquaintance with one of the most important dancers of the 20th century.” – Neely Swanson, Easy Reader (California)

Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project – Co-directors Michele Stephenson & Joe Brewster

Co-directors Michele Stephenson & Joe Brewster’s insightful and entertaining Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project pushes the boundaries of biographical documentary film to reveal the enduring influence of one of America’s greatest living artists and social commentators. Combining parallel cinematic story editing with visually innovative treatments of her poetry, along with intimate vérité, rich archival footage, and Giovanni’s own captivating contemporary performances, Going to Mars recounts the story of the artist and her works of resistance through the tumultuous historical periods in which she lived—from the Civil Rights Movement, to the Black Arts Movement, to present-day Black Lives Matter. Co-directors Michele Stephenson and Joe Brewster join us for a conversation on the life and times of a poet / author / philosopher who has, over the course 50 years,  articulated the brazen truth about race, sex, patriarchy, social revolution and the nature of love and their hyper-cinematic approach to telling Nikki’s story.

 

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For more go to: hbo.com/going-to-mars-the-nikki-giovanni-project

About the filmmaker – As co-founding member of the Rada Film Group, filmmaker, artist and author, Michèle Stephenson pulls from her Panamanian and Haitian roots and international experience as a human rights attorney to tell compelling, deeply personal stories in a variety of media that resonate beyond the margins. Her work has appeared on a variety of broadcast and web platforms, including PBS, Showtime and MTV. Her most recent film,American Promise,was nominated for three Emmys including Best Documentary and Best News Coverage of a Contemporary Issue. The film also won the Jury Prize at Sundance, and was selected for the New York Film Festivals’ Main Slate Program. Her collaborative film series with New York Times Op-Docs, A Conversation on Race, won the 2016 Online Journalism Award for Commentary. Stephenson was awarded the Chicken & Egg Pictures Filmmaker Breakthrough Award and is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow. Her community engagement accomplishments include the PUMA BritDoc Impact Award for a Film with the Greatest Impact on Society, and she is a Skoll Sundance Storytellers of Change Fellow. Her recent book, Promises Kept, written along withco-authors Joe Brewster and Hilary Beard, won an NAACP Image Award forOutstandingLiterary Work.

About the filmmaker – Joe Brewster is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist who uses his psychological training as the foundation in approaching the themes and stories he tackles as an artist and filmmaker.As co-founder of the Rada Film Group, Brewster has created stories using installation, narrative, documentary and print mediums that have garnered support from critics and audiences internationally. He is a recipient of fellowships and grants from the Sundance Institute, the Tribeca Film Institute, BAVC, MacArthur Foundation, and most recently the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Brewster is a Spirit Award and three-time Emmy Award nominee.His documentary film American Promisewas awarded the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking at Sundance and the African American Film Critics’ Association Award. Brewster’s outreach accomplishments include a Revere Award and the 2013 NAACP Image Award for the best selling companion book Promises Keptand a BritDoc Prize for developing one of the most innovative documentary outreach campaigns in 2014.

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95% on RottenTomatoes

“Directors Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson have crafted an eloquent and engaging portrait…” – Lisa Kennedy, Variety

“Nikki Giovanni is a national treasure. Whether you are familiar or not, audiences now have a chance to get to know and love her like those of us who have adored her for decades and counting.” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic

“An inventive, imaginative documentary, charting her life and times but also exploring her values, beliefs and unique perspective on the experiences of African-American women.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International

“The Nikki Giovanni Project breaks the traditional documentary format and presents a raw, sensitive, and lyrical portrait of its subject.” – Sheri Flanders, Chicago Reader

Waikiki – Director Christopher Kahunahana

Award-winning filmmaker Christopher Kahunahana feature film debut, WAIKIKI,  focuses on the spiraling plight of Native Hawaiian hula dancer, Kea. While escaping her abusive boyfriend she crashes her beat-up van into a mysterious homeless man. From there Kea finds herself flung into a surrealistic journey of self-exploration and enlightenment. Director Christopher Kahunahana’s eagerly awaited feature debut breaks down the enduring, stereotypical image of paradise we have of Waikiki to reveal a vulnerable and authentic  portrait of indigeneity. Leaving behind the touristic image of paradise and island culture, WAIKIKI tackles the often-unspeakable generational trauma of postcolonial cultures through mixing of genre conventions, experimental storytelling, and perspectives. Director, writer, producer and co-editor Christopher Kahunahana stops by to talk about the history of Hawaii, from pre-colonial times to the present, the impact of American sugar interests and the path to statehood. We also discuss the challenges of making a feature film in Waikiki, the beautifully calibrated performance from his lead actor Danielle Zalopany, and the support of his entire cast and crew.

 

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For more go to: waikikithemovie.com

About the filmmaker – Christopher Kahunahana is an award-winning Hawaiian filmmaker and Sundance Institute Feature Film and Native Lab Alumni. He is the writer, producer, and director of WAIKIKI which premiered at the Urban World Film Festival 2020 and opened The Smithsonian’s Mother Tongue Film Festival. WAIKIKI has been recognized with multiple awards including a Grand Jury Award for Best US Narrative Feature at The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Best Feature Grand Prize at Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival, and Best Made in Hawaii Feature Film at the Hawaii International Film Festival. In 2020 Kahunahana has been a panelist for the American Film Market “Changing the Narrative: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Film”, The Geena Davis Institute “Gender in Media AAPI representation”, and the American International Film Festival NY “A Paradise Lost: Hollywood’s Effect on Hawai’i”. He has also served on the selection and advisory committee for GOLD HOUSE FUTURES a partnership with CAPE, Netflix, and Tribecca Studios. His short LĀHAINĀ NOON, is presently streaming on the Criterion Channel, and his 360° film PIKO is being exhibited in the Honolulu Museum of Arts. He is currently writing AIMAN, a near-future sci-fi centered on Oceanic climate refugees.

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AWARDS

Best North American Narrative Feature, Grand Jury Award, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Best Feature Grand Prize, Flickers Rhode Island International Film Festival
Best Narrative Feature, Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival
Best Hawaiʻi Feature Film, Jury Award, Hawai’i International Film Festival
Jury Award Honorable Mention, Bentonville Film Festival
Audience Award, Best Feature, Boston Asian American Film Festival
Indie Vision Breakthrough Performance Award, Twin Cities Film Festival
Best Hawaiʻi Film, Hawaii Film Critics Society
Best Cinematography, Special Jury Award, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Best Cinematography, Jury Award, Hawai’i International Film Festival
Best Music in a Feature Film, BMI Film Festival Awards

86% on RottenTomatoes

“A Lynchian look at the dark side of paradise.” — Nathaniel Miur, AIPT

“Utterly remarkable for its raw energy…a combination of beauty, pain, and longing…a star-making performance.” — Jason Sanders, Filmmaker Magazine

“A hauntingly beautiful film that depicts the complicated and intertwined sides of paradise, both darkness and light…” — Chris Lee, Variety

“Zalopany’s riveting performance has desperation, manipulation, narcissism and panic folded into it.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

“Pulls you in.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest

“Kahunahana’s splendid debut feature…demonstrates that he is a remarkably accomplished visualist…never less than fascinating…”   Christian Gallichio, The Film Stage

Beyond Utopia – Director / Editor Madeleine Gavin

A suspenseful, riveting portrait of the lengths people will go to gain freedom, BEYOND UTOPIA  follows various individuals as they attempt to flee North Korea, one of the most oppressive places  on Earth, a land they grew up believing was a paradise. At the film’s core are a mother desperate to reunite with the child she was forced to leave behind; a family of five — including small children and an elderly grandmother — embarking on a treacherous journey across the Yalu River and into the hostile mountains of China; and a man of God on a mission to help these desperate souls. Leaving their homeland is fraught with danger — severe punishment if caught and possibly even execution — as well as potential exploitation by unscrupulous brokers. Family members who remain behind also may face retribution. Yet these individuals are driven to take the risk. Gripping, visceral, and urgent, BEYOND UTOPIA embeds the viewer with these family members as they attempt their perilous escape, palpably conveying life-or-death stakes. The result is a singular, illuminating, and unforgettable experience.  Director / Editor Madeleine Gavin joins us for a conversation on how she was able to plug herself into the network of incredibly brave people, those willing to risk the consequences of escaping from North Korea and those willing to risk their lives helping them, putting herself in harms way and whether she fears retribution for her spectacularly compelling work.

 

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For more go to: releasing.dogwoof.com/beyond-utopia

Where to watch, go to: beyondutopiadoc.com/find-a-theater

About the filmmakers – Madeleine Gavin has edited award-winning narrative and documentary films that have premiered at Sundance, Toronto, Berlinale, and Cannes, among others. Madeleine directed and edited the Netflix Original Documentary, City of Joy, centered around a revolutionary center in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. She is in production on a film that follows an indomitable group of octogenarians in New York City who, while facing debilitating illnesses, are finding transcendence through their relationship with an irascible, larger-than-life music coach. Madeleine is a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“At all events, it’s an outstanding documentary.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian

“Unforgiving, high-stakes and clear-eyed about the devastatingly brainwashing powers of elongated oppression, Beyond Utopia will be talked about well into the awards season with its extraordinary vision.” – Tomris Laffly, Harper’s Bazaar

“’Beyond Utopia’ is a staggering achievement, the sort of nonfiction project that takes unfathomable guts and skill.” – Lena Wilson, The Playlist

“Instantly essential.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

“Nothing is a recreation in Beyond Utopia. Instead, every image in this stark and urgent documentary is real, often gathered in mortal danger.” – Danny Leigh, Financial Times

The Last Repair Shop – Co-directors Ben Proudfoot & Kris Bowers

In their second collaboration, co-directors Ben Proudfoot & Kris Bowers’ THE LAST REPAIR SHOP introduces us to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s instrument repair facility for all of the LAUSD student musician. Led by the charming general manager, Steve Bagmanyan, the film introduces a technician from each department: Dana Atkinson, in the strings division, who takes us to his personal breaking point as a young man confronting his sexuality; Paty Moreno, in charge of brass and the sole woman in the shop, who chronicles her pursuit of the American dream as a Mexican immigrant and single mother; Duane Michaels, a quirky, self-described hillbilly who fixes the woodwind instruments and shares the rip-roaring tale of how his $20 fiddle took him on tour with Elvis; and finally Steve himself, who learned to tune pianos in  America after surviving a harrowing escape from ethnic persecution in Azerbaijan in the late 1980s, a conflict again in the headlines today. THE LAST REPAIR SHOP blends the unexpectedly intimate personal histories of the repair people with emotional, firsthand accounts from the actual student musicians for whom their instruments made all the difference. Porche, 9, shares how her beloved violin helps her cope with her family’s health problems; college-bound Manuel, 18, states that his enormous sousaphone diverted him from the pitfalls of growing up as a low-income kid from Boyle Heights; Ismerai, 15, whose alto sax brought her much-needed discipline and calm; and the bookish Amanda, 17, brought to tears by her profound connection with the piano. Co-director Kris Bowers joins us to talk about the impact the LAUSD has had on his own musical journey, the joy of discovering the amazing stories told by the technicians and the students in the film and the enduring power of music to heal, empower and inspire.

 

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For more go to: breakwaterstudios.com/films/all/

From Oscar® and Grammy®-nominated and Emmy®-winning filmmaker, musician and LAUSD graduate Kris Bowers (A Concerto is a Conversation, Green Book, King Richard, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story) and Oscar® winning director Ben Proudfoot (a two-time Oscar® nominee for The Queen of Basketball and A Concerto is a Conversation)

About the filmmaker – Kristopher Bowers (born 1989) is an American composer and pianist who has composed scores for films, video games, television and documentaries including, “Green Book,” Madden NFL, “Dear White People,” and Kobe Bryant’s “Muse.” He has recorded, performed, and collaborated with the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, and José James. He won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition in 2011 and a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition in 2017 for The Snowy Day. Bowers worked on the score of Ava DuVernay’s Netflix mini-series When They See Us as well as the current Netflix hit Bridgerton. For more go to: krisbowers.com

About the filmmaker – Academy Award® winning director and 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur Ben Proudfoot is the founder and creative force behind Breakwater Studios. Once a world champion in sleight-of-hand magic, Ben now brings that spirit of wonder to filmmaking, directing or producing more than fifty original short documentaries a year. The Nova Scotia native drives Breakwater’s humanist storytelling across documentary, narrative, and branded mediums.Breakwater produces bespoke branded content for individual, governmental, and corporate clients, including Charles Schwab & Co., LA Phil, Amazon.com, Unity Technology, Kelly Services, and Annapurna Pictures.In addition to a long list of awards and distinctions, festival successes, and placement on television shows, such as Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, Breakwater won an Emmy for the PBS documentary  Montage: Great Film Composers and the Piano. His original film, That’s My Jazz, had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and won a James Beard Award. His work has also received eight Vimeo Staff Picks.In 2021, Proudfoot was nominated for the 93rd Academy Awards for his short documentary A Concerto Is a Conversation, a collaboration launched at Sundance with his friend and co-director Kris Bowers and executive produced by Ava DuVernay. Proudfoot’s anthologyAlmost Famous was released with The New York Times to widespread acclaim. The series profiles figures adjacent to history in his signature style of intimate direct address interviews. In 2021, Proudfoot’s The Queen of Basketball, recounts the career of women’s basketball legend Lusia “Lucy” Harris. The film was executive produced by Shaquille O’Neal and Stephen Curry and went on to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short. Ben lives in Los Angeles. For more go to: breakwaterstudios.com/team/ben-proudfoot

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Floyd Abrams: Speaking Freely – Director Yael Melamede

FLOYD ABRAMS: SPEAKING FREELY explores America’s dedication to the foundational principles of free speech and free press through the groundbreaking work of attorney Floyd Abrams. A biopic of the First Amendment told through Abrams’ important cases, we reveal how this legal giant helped transform the First Amendment from an oft-ignored principle into a bulwark of American democracy. Floyd Abrams: Speaking Freely follows the 50-year career of preeminent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams. See how his landmark cases—from the Pentagon Papers to Citizens United to Clearview AI—helped define free speech as it is known today. Join Dan Abrams, Ari Melber,  Nina Totenberg and more as they explore how Abrams’ career has shaped major changes in law, public discourse and civic action since the 1960s. Political discourse in the United States is shaped by audacious ideas of what a society should be. But who are the influencers and disrupters of American political thought that have paved the way for the systems that we currently have—and those still to come? Director Yael Melamede joins us for a conversation on the many reasons why Floyd Abramis rightfully regarded as one of the most consequential advocates for this battered Anerican civil right. as well as how we came to this moment where free speech issues have never felt more complicated and urgent, and where the nation is wondering anew: what price are we willing to pay for free speech?

 

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For more about the film go to: speakingfreelyfilm.com

For more go to: pbs.org/americanmasters

About the filmmaker – Yael Melamede (Director) – Yael Melamede is the co-founder of SALTY Features, an independent production company based in New York City whose goal is to create media that is thought-provoking, vital, and enhances the world. Melamede’s documentary credits include PAY OR DIE (2023), 1341 FRAMES OF LOVE AND WAR (2022), the Jigsaw Productions/Amblin Entertainment six-part series WHY WE HATE (2019), WHEN I WALK (News & Documentary Emmy Award Winner, 2015), DESERT RUNNERS (2015), INOCENTE (Academy Award Winner, Best Doc Short, 2013), and MY ARCHITECT (Academy Award Nominee, 2004). Her directorial debut was (DIS)HONESTY—THE TRUTH ABOUT LIES (2015). Yael was an architect before becoming a filmmaker and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.For more go to: saltyfeatures.com

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“Few people have done as much to shape the first amendment as it exists today.” – Jameel Jaffer

“If there were the history of defense of the first amendment in modern times, there probably wouldn’t be a chapter about Floyd Abrams, it would be part one.” – Nina Totenberg

Westermann: Memorial to the Idea of a Man If He Was an Idea – Director Leslie Buchbinder

Westermann: Memorial to the Idea of Man If He Was an Idea is a 3-D documentary film about the life and work of artist and marine H.C. (“Cliff”) Westermann. As a veteran of World War II and the Korean War who struggled with the ramifications of modern warfare, Westermann’s dramatic personal history can be traced through his beguiling, surreal artworks. Westermann: Memorial to the Idea of a Man If He Was an Idea explores the themes of Westermann’s life and work, including resiliency, hope, and humor. Westermann used art as a means of processing the trauma of war, and in spite of these horrors, he adopted an empathic and hopeful spirit that  courses through his artwork and relationships,  becoming an inspiration to many young artists. The film features featuring interviews with Ed Ruscha, Frank Gehry, William T. Wiley, Billy Al Bengston, and other artist-pals. The film is executive produced by the internationally acclaimed artist, KAWS, along with award-winning documentary producer Caryn Capotosto. Westermann features music by legendary artists Laurie Anderson (with the Kronos Quartet) and Terry Allen. MacArthur “Genius Grant” winner Tomeka Reid composed the original score. Director Leslie Buchbinder joins us for a conversation on enlisting Academy Award nominated actor Ed Harris to voice the writings of Westermann, the enduring influence that H.C. Westerman had on his chosen pursuit of sculptor as well as his philosophical approach to art and work ethic that continues impact other accomplished artists.

 

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For more go to: pentimentiproductions.org/hc-westermann

About the filmmaker – Leslie Buchbinder is a Chicago-based writer, director, and founder/Artistic Director of Pentimenti Productions, an arts non-profit dedicated to producing, supporting, and exhibiting films about art and artists. Prior to film-making, Buchbinder was a professional dancer in companies in Chicago and San Francisco, then pivoted to a career in international arts public relations in NYC and Chicago, where she established her own company working with local and international museums. Her directorial debut was the award-winning, critically acclaimed Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists, a 2014 documentary chronicling the history and impact of an iconoclastic group of young artists from the School of the Art Institute, often referred to as Chicago’s answer to Pop Art. Buchbinder’s second feature, Westermann: Memorial to the Idea of Man If He Was an Idea, is being released in 2023.

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The Mission – Co-directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss

In 2018, a shocking event made headlines around the world: a young American missionary, John Chau, was killed by arrows while attempting to contact one of the world’s most isolated Indigenous peoples on remote North Sentinel Island. From Emmy winning directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss (“Boys State”) with Oscar winning producer Simon Chinn and Emmy-winning producer Jonathan Chinn of Lightbox, comes National Geographic Documentary Films’ THE MISSION, which uncovers the gripping story beyond the headlines. Through exclusive interviews and with unprecedented access to Chau’s secret plans, personal diaries, and video archives, THE MISSION examines the mythology of exploration that inspired him, the evangelical community that supported his quest, and reveals his own father’s heartbreak as Chau’s youthful thirst for adventure became a fatal obsession. Co-directors Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss (Mayor Pete, The Bandit, The Overnighters) join us for a conversation on their approach to telling a story fraught with questions regarding our collective perceptions on indigenous culture, the consequences of religious zealotry, and where does one’s selfless devotion end and a blinding messiah complex begin.

 

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For more go to: nationalgeographic.com/the-mission

About the filmmakers – Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss have been filmmaking partners for 20 years. They directed “Boys State,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and was released by Apple Original Films and A24. The film won the 2021 Primetime Emmy Award for Best Nonfiction Film and received DGA and Emmy nominations for Outstanding Directorial Achievement. Their previous film, “The Overnighters,” won the Special Jury Prize for Intuitive Filmmaking at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and was distributed by Drafthouse Films and Netflix. “Boys State” and “The Overnighters” were both shortlisted for the Academy Award® for Feature Documentary. Jesse also directed “The Family,” a five-part series for Netflix, as well as the “Payday” episode of the Netflix series “Dirty Money.” Their recent film about Pete Buttigieg’s campaign for president, “Mayor Pete,” was released by Amazon Studios. Upcoming projects include “Girls State” for Apple and, as producers, an independent film about the reintroduction of wild bears in the French Pyrénées.

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92% on RottenTomatoes

“There’s something wonderfully Herzogian about “The Mission,” a philosophical quest in which wild ambition goes hand in hand with folly at the very limits of so-called civilization.”

“It’s a troubling, smart, must-see documentary.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox

“It’s a challenging investigation of the line between madness and faith that leaves so much to think about.” – Daniel Howat, Next Best Picture

“a riveting narrative … [that] proves most enticing when it questions romanticized narratives about unexplored lands. … In showing the seductive power of certain stories … The Mission crafts a tale that’s hard to forget.“ – Peter Debruge, Variety

“This is a marvelous documentary. Absolutely marvelous.” – Amy Nicholson, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

Periodical – Director Lina Lyte Plioplyte & Executive Producer Amanda Spain

PERIODICAL, Director Lina Lyte Piloplyte and Executive Producer Amanda Spain’s new feature documentary from XTR and MSNBC Films, tells the unexpected story of the human body by exploring the marvel and mystery of the menstrual cycle, from first period to last. But this is not your middle school sex-ed class. Bringing you stories from soccer champion Megan Rapinoe who reveals how members of the U.S. Soccer team track their cycles when training for the Women’s World Cup (which they won), to scientists who are discovering the power and possibilities of stem cells found in period blood, to young activists flipping the bill on period tax one state at a time, we uncover the shocking truths, challenge taboos, and celebrate the untapped potential of this special nutrient-dense blood. Through innovative mixed media storytelling, “Periodical” is for everyone who wants to know more about the menstrual cycle, and especially for those who don’t. In our era of social media-empowered feminism, after centuries of societal-enforced stigma, menstruation has finally begun to bleed out into the mainstream. We’re finally using red liquid instead of blue in period product ads, seeing beauty influencers use their period blood for facials on social media, and even the most daring period scenes are being depicted on tv — but we still know alarmingly little when it comes to menstruation. Director Lina Lyte Plioplyte and Executive Producer Amanda Spain join us to talk about the long over-do recognition that menstruation, should never be a reason for shame, discrimination or become a barrier to a full life.   

 

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For more go to: happyperiod.org

Bloody. Beautiful. Normal. “Periodical” airs Sunday, Nov. 19 at 10 p.m. ET on MSNBC and is streaming on Peacock.

Periodical at the Los Feliz 3 – October 14, 15, & 18

About the filmmaker – Lina Lyte Plioplyte’s passion for moving images started while studying journalism in Lithuania and later at the University of Colorado Boulder. The best film school has been New York city, where Lina established herself in 2008 making films for NYLON magazine and fashion brands. For the past 10 years, Lina has been working as a freelance director & cinematographer, making numerous documentaries, commercials, travel content and short films that have been shown on MTV, PBS, Venice Biennale, and various film festivals, including Hot Docs, MIFF and IDFA. Lina’s directorial debut was Advanced Style, a feature documentary about stylishly eternal women of the certain age, currently streaming on Amazon, after a successful run on Netflix. Her second feature Periodical, a feature documentary about the science, mystery and politics of menstrual cycle, will air on MSNBC and Peacock. Lina’s cinematography, acknowledged with an Emmy, champions the natural light and intimacy with those she films. Her goal as a storyteller is to bring more balance into the world and to remember the mystery and awe. Understanding both camera and the story makes Lina a skillful collaborator in crafting documentaries. She believes in integral filmmaking, by hiring women and minorities, mentoring young filmmakers, and making her film sets plastic-free. Lina Lyte Plioplyte is an Emmy, Clio and a Silver Lion winning director/Director of Photography.

About the filmmaker – Executive Producer Amanda Spain recently joined MSNBC Films as the Vice President of Longform Acquisitions. Revitalized under MSNBC President Rashida Jones and Amanda Spain, MSNBC Films, distributes a slate of dynamic documentaries, including Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11 which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, Civil War, Four Seasons Total Documentary, award-winning In the Dark of the Valley, and Paper & Glue a project by acclaimed French artist JR. Before joining MSNBC Films she was the Director of Non-Fiction for Blumhouse Television. Other recent credits – Executive Producer Pray Away, Exposure and In the Dark of the Valley, Producer – Television Event, On the Divide, After Antarctica, and Krimes. In addition to her most recent credits, Amanda produced the audience favorite and award-winning documentary Bathtubs Over Broadway, which was nabbed by Focus Features, as well as a number of films, shorts, and series for numerous outlets including Netflix, ESPN, A&E, PBS, MTV, Discovery, and the Sundance Channel. She was a 2016-2017 Sundance Producing Fellow and is a current member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA), the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), and the Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA). 

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“Whether you feel pretty in the know or that you have some holes in your knowledge, this is a must-see film that answers questions you may not have realized you needed to ask.” – Sarah Gopaul, Digital Journal

“Covers a lot of ground and can feel overwhelming, but there’s never been another documentary that examines all things period-related as well as (or as entertaining) as this.” – Louisa Moore, Screen Zealots

“Destigmatizing and providing a historical context allows Periodical to serve several masters, both as entertainment and as a genuine teaching tool.” – Alan French, Sunshine State Cineplex

“While women’s rights are being rolled back and an active campaign exists to deny women agency over their bodies, this documentary about how women’s bodies have been perceived, persecuted, legislated, and shamed over the years is timely and vital.” – Stephanie Malone, Morbidly Beautiful

My Love Affair with Marriage – Director Signe Baumane

From Signe Baumane, director of Rocks in My Pockets, comes a new award-winning animated feature about a spirited young woman determined to find love in the bewildering world. MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH MARRIAGE follows Zelma on her 23-year quest for perfect love and lasting marriage set against a backdrop of historic events in Eastern Europe. From an early age, songs and fairy tales convince Zelma that Love would solve all her problems as long as she abides by societal expectations of how a girl should act. But as she grows older, something doesn’t seem right with this concept of love: the more she tries to conform, the more her body resists. A story of inner-female rebellion. Told from a woman’s point of view, the film blends historical, biological, societal, and emotional arcs with a lively sense of humor and musical numbers. This animated film for adults tackles the issues of love, gender norms, domestic violence, fantasies and toxic relationships to propel a woman’s journey toward independence and liberation. Director Signe Baumane (Rocks in My Pockets) joins us for a lively conversation on love, identity, marriage, her unique journey to becoming an artist / animator and the joy of having artistic and commercial control over her work.

 

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For more go to: myloveaffairwithmarriagemovie.com

Opening 10/12 Laemmle Royal in LA & 10/13 Laemmle Glendale

My Love Affair with Marriage screens at Laemmle Royal on Oct 12 (she’ll be there for Q&A), and then film opens for a full week run at Laemmle Glendale on Oct 13 (Signe will do Q&A Oct 13-15).

About the filmmaker – Signe Baumane was born and raised in Latvia when it was still part of the Soviet Union. At age 14, she began publishing short stories. At 16 she won poetry reciting competitions. At 18 she was singing and dancing with the folk group Skandenieki. Signe received a BA in Philosophy from Moscow State University. After graduating she started to work at Riga’s Animated Film Studio as a cel painter and later as a writer, director and designer. Signe directed three animated shorts in Latvia before moving to New York. There she worked for independent animator Bill Plympton as art director and production manager. In 1998, Signe received her U.S. green card as an ‘extraordinary ability alien’ and began making films at her own studio. In 2005 she became a U.S. citizen. As a former philosophy student, Signe is not afraid to reach behind the surface in her stories. As a former performer she enjoys connecting with an audience through surprise and humor. Signe has written, directed and animated 16 shorts and one feature film, many of them with a strong female point of view. She passionately believes that animation is a perfect medium for adult storytelling. Her films collectively have screened at over 560 film festivals including Sundance, Berlin, Venice and Karlovy Vary. Rocks In My Pockets (2014), Signe’s first animated feature film, is based on true events involving five women of Signe’s family, including herself, and their battles with suicide and depression. It played internationally at 150 film festivals, was distributed in the U.S. by Zeitgeist Films, and has been screened by many colleges and mental health organizations. Signe is a Guggenheim Fellow and a New York Foundation of the Arts Fellow in Film.

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85% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Funny, moving, and visually stunning throughout” – RogerEbert.com

“One of the best female resistance films of the year” – HuffPost

“A joyfully exuberant piece of work that manages to conduct some serious examination of human behavior whilst always being nothing less than gloriously entertaining.” – Cineuropa

“A masterclass in human behavior” – Cartoon Brew

“My Love Affair With Marriage is an incredibly detailed animated feature chronicling the life of one young woman, and it also just so happens to be one of the best films of the year.” – Caillou Pettis Movie Reviews

“Both poignant and deeply funny in the way only the best films can be. This animated feature film is a must watch” – Animation for Adults

“An outstanding feminist film that will undoubtedly win over audiences everywhere.“ – ReelNewsDail

“Un voyage fantastique au centre du corps humain” – Le Monde

Into the Weeds – Director Jennifer Baichwal

Does the most widely used weed killer in the world cause cancer? On October 3, 2023, Film Movement and Fathom Events invite audiences to discover for themselves with a special one-night only nationwide theatrical release of INTO THE WEEDS, which follows the story of groundskeeper Lee Johnson and his fight for justice against agrichemical giant Monsanto (now Bayer, which bought the company in 2018), the manufacturer of the weed killer, Roundup. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a branch of the World Health Organization, classified glyphosate – the active ingredient in Roundup – as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” A year later, Johnson filed a lawsuit claiming that Ranger Pro, a commercial-grade variant of Roundup, was a substantial contributing factor in causing his Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Johnson’s was the first “bellwether case” in a mass tort against Monsanto involving tens of thousands of plaintiffs: gardeners, golfers, farmers, groundskeepers, and ordinary people, following and trusting the instructions on the label. Director Jennifer Baichwal (Manufactured Landscapes, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch) seamlessly blends together interviews, testimonials, trial footage, news coverage, and vérité, the film follows the progression of this groundbreaking lawsuit, while also stepping back to consider the systemic impact of glyphosate-based herbicides on human health, our food systems, and the biodiversity of our planet.

 

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For more go to: intotheweedsimpact.com

Check out: filmmovement.com/into-the-weeds

The nationwide theatrical event on October 3 opening on more than 600 screens is being supported by the following NGO Official Screening Partners: Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Re:wild Your Campus, Pesticide Action Network North America, Green America’s Soil & Climate Alliance and the Center for Food Safety.

About the filmmaker – Jennifer Baichwal has been directing and producing documentaries for 25 years. Among other films, installations and lens-based projects, she has made nine features which have played all over the world and won multiple awards nationally and internationally. Let It Come Down: The Life of Paul Bowles won an International Emmy in 1999. The Holier It Gets, a documentary filmed in Canada and India, won Best Cultural and Best Independent Canadian Documentary at Hot Docs, 2000, and won Geminis for best writing, directing, and editing in a documentary series. The True Meaning of Pictures, a meditation on the work of Shelby Lee Adams, won a Gemini for Best Arts Documentary in 2003, and continues to be used widely as a pedagogical tool in photography and film studies throughout North America. Manufactured Landscapes won, among others, TIFF’s Best Canadian Film and Al Gore’s Reel Current Award. It played theatrically in over 15 territories worldwide, after a prolonged and successful run in Canada, and was named as one of 150 Essential Works In Canadian Cinema History by TIFF in 2016. Act of God, about the metaphysical effects of being struck by lightning, opened the Hot Docs Film Festival in May 2009. Payback, an adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s Massey Lectures produced by Ravida Din and the National Film Board, premiered in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2012 and was released in Canada and the U.S. that spring. The feature documentary Watermark, made with Edward Burtynsky and Nicholas de Pencier, premiered at TIFF 2013, was released in Canada by Mongrel Media and won the Toronto Film Critics Association prize for Best Canadian Film in January 2014. It has since been released in eleven countries. Baichwal and de Pencier co-directed Long Time Running, a feature documentary on the Tragically Hip’s 2016 summer tour. The documentary, produced by Banger Films, premiered as a gala at TIFF 2017, was subsequently released by Elevation Pictures, and was broadcast by Bell and Netflix. The Anthropocene Project, Baichwal’s most recent collaboration with de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky, includes a major touring exhibition which debuted simultaneously at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada; an art book published by Steidl; an educational program in partnership with the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and a feature documentary film, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch, that premiered at TIFF 2018, played Sundance and Berlin, then won the Toronto Film Critics Association Prize for Best Canadian Film and a Canadian Screen Award in 2019. Baichwal sits on the board of Swim Drink Fish Canada, and is a member of the Ryerson University School of Image Arts Advisory Council. She has been a Director of the Board of the Toronto International Film Festival since 2016. Into the Weeds is Baichwal’s tenth feature documentary. 

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“Through deft editing and a keen sense of detail, Baichwal manages to compress the case of Johnson vs. Monsanto Company into a superbly paced, tightly wound thriller.” – Barry Hertz, Globe and Mail
“Provides another illustration of coldblooded corporate denialism in the face of widespread harm.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
“Into the Weeds effectively drives home the message that corporate greed and the lack of regulation makes victims of everyday people.” – Raquel Stecher, Quelle Movies
“Extremely important, essential viewing that affects every one of us.” – Anne Brodie, What She Said
“Into the Weeds is a cautionary environmental story that raises unsettling questions about what’s in the food we eat, and how our farming practices are affecting the biosphere.” – Karen Gordon, Original Cin
“Compulsively watchable….” – Marc Glassman, POV Magazine

Invisible Beauty – Co-directors Bethann Hardison & Frédéric Tcheng

Naomi Campbell, Kimora Lee Simmons, Tyra Banks, Tyson Beckford were dazzling, barrier-breaking supermodels of color in the ’90s. But two decades earlier, Bethann Hardison burst onto French and American runways with a defiant strut and sui generis personality. In this intimate and insightful documentary, INVISIBLE BEAUTY, fashion revolutionary and co-director Bethann Hardison looks back on her journey as a pioneering Black model, modeling agent, and activist, shining a light on an untold chapter in the fight for racial diversity. Catalyzing change requires continuous championing, and as the next generation takes the reins, Hardison reflects on her personal journey and the cost of  being a pioneer, as well as the satisfaction of being the first Black woman to own a racially diverse modeling agency, Hardison called out fashion houses around the world (including Prada and Calvin Klein) for the lack of models of color in their shows and the exclusionary casting calls that had become rampant in the industry (“No Blacks, no ethnics”), while profiting from Black consumers. In tandem with Frédéric Tcheng (Halston, Dior and I), Bethann Hardison and her co-director trace her impact on fashion from runway shows in New York and Paris in the ’70s to roundtables about lack of racial diversity in the early 2000s. Interviews with industry players speak to the state of fashion, while friends and family attest to Hardison’s rebellious and ambitious spirit. INVISIBLE BEAUTY is an absorbing record of Hardison’s accomplishments and a rare contemplation on the life of a radical thinker. The co-directors Bethann Hardison and Frederic Tcheng join us for a conversation on the cinematic and personal journey that the film has taken them on.

 

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For more go to: magpictures.com/invisiblebeauty

Opening 9/22 in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Royal

For all other screenings go to: Magpictures.com

About the filmmaker – Bethann Hardison – former model, advocate, and founder of the modeling and management agency that bears her name – has long been a groundbreaker in the world of fashion. She has helped guide the careers of some of the most prominent models in recent times and through her decades of advocacy work has challenged and helped change common notions of beauty by consistently championing diversity in the fashion industry. For more go to: bethannhardison.com

About the filmmaker – Frédéric Tcheng is a French-born filmmaker. Dior and I, his award-winning directorial debut, premiered at the Tribeca film festival in 2014. Tcheng directed the 2019 documentary Halston, a CNN Films and Amazon Original production. His most recent film Invisible Beauty premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Tcheng had previously co-produced and co-edited the 2009 hit documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor, and co-directed the 2011 documentary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel.

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100% on RottenTomatoes

“Riveting. Hardison’s remarkable and fabulous life serves an inspiring lesson in effecting radical change from within the system.” – Jude Dry, IndieWire

“An appreciative self-portrait of the fashion world maverick, a reflective story of how one woman worked to move her industry’s stubborn needle of progress. (Bethann Hardison’s) charisma… made her a natural leader and problem solver. Warm anecdotes, glittering testimonies and fond memories. An illuminating and sturdy paean to an influential industry leader.” – Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter

“Invisible Beauty is a riveting tale of how to implement and maintain effective change within a system known for its blatant racism.” – Jose Solís, The Film Stage

“It was Hardison’s activism in the industry that cemented her position as a true advocate and icon in fashion. [She] has always been at the forefront of change and representation. [She] is direct and authentic about who she is.” – Kovie Biakolo, Essence Magazine

Deadlocked: How America Shaped the Supreme Court – Director Dawn Porter

Dawn Porter’s DEADLOCKED: How America Shaped the Supreme Court is a four-part SHOWTIME documentary series  traces the modern history of the Supreme Court, the people, decisions and confirmation battles that have shaped America. From our right to privacy, to access to the ballot, and all rights protected by the Constitution, the nine unelected justices of the Supreme Court have the final word on issues that shape our democracy and daily lives. The series unfolds during a profoundly consequential year, unlike any in recent memory—the historic confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson, the fallout of an unprecedented leak from inside the Court’s chambers, and a Supreme Court, remade by Donald Trump, on the brink of overturning Roe v. Wade. To understand this critical moment and how we got here, we go back to the 1950s, when the Court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren heralded an era of progressive legal decisions that set us upon the zigzagging path we are still walking today, as the Court’s role in American society has become increasingly prominent and bitterly contested. Supreme reveals how much of the country’s story is wrapped up in the Supreme Court’s deliberations, and considers what this means for America’s future. Director and producer Dawn Porter (Gideon’s Army, Spies of Mississippi, The Lady Bird Diaries, Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer) joins us for a conversation on fifty years of a methodical, calculated and concerted effort on the part of the most radical elements of the “conservative” judicial movement have wrought on the integrity and public confidence of the branch of governance that is the “last word” on what is legal and what is illegal in America.

 

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Watch at: sho.com/deadlocked-how-america-shaped-the-supreme-court

Dawn Porter (THE LADY BIRD DIARIES, JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE) will be available for interviews on Tuesday, September 19. Let me know if you’re interested in coverage! DEADLOCKED will stream on Paramount+ with SHOWTIME on Friday, September 22nd and premiere that day at 8 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME.

About the filmmaker – Dawn Porter has emerged in the entertainment industry as a leader in the art of storytelling; directing and producing critically acclaimed films and series. A two-time Sundance film festival director, Porter’s work has been featured on HBO, Netflix, CNN, PBS, MSNBC, ESPN, Discovery, National Geographic, and others. Porter’s recent film, The Lady Bird Diaries, an all-archival documentary about Lady Bird Johnson debuted at the 2023 SXSW Film Festival. Her newest project “Supreme,” is a four-part docuseries, exploring the history of the United States Supreme Court, the justices, decisions, and confirmation battles that have shaped America. Other current projects include the next installment of the historic civil rights documentary series Eyes on the Prize for HBO. Additional credits include  The Me You Can’t See (Apple TV+), Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer  (National Geographic), The Way I See It (Focus Features, MSNBC), John Lewis: Good Trouble (CNN, Magnolia Pictures), 37 Words (ESPN),  Un(re)solved  (Frontline PBS), and Gideon’s Army (HBO).

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Rebel – Co-directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah

Co-directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (Bad Boys for Life, Ms. Marvel and Batgirl) deliver their most intimate and personal film, REBEL. The film focuses on Kamal Wasaki (Aboubakr Bensaihi) an idealistic Belgian rapper who after getting busted for drugs in his home country flees to Syria to volunteer to help the victims of the war. Upon his arrival, he is left stranded in Raqqa. Soon after he is kidnapped by ISIS where he is forced to shoot their propaganda videos thanks to his experience shooting his own hip-hop videos. Then one day to prove his loyalty, he is charged to kill a US soldier in front of the camera. When this clip is played on the news his family is reluctantly brought into the story.  While Kamal’s mother Leila (Lubna Azabal) struggles with what drove her eldest son down that path that has branded her an outcast in her community. She starts to notice Kamal’s younger brother Nassim (Amir El Arbi) has become the target of local ISIS recruiters who wish to use his brother and video games to lure in him. REBEL co-directors, co-writers and co-executive producers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah join us for a conversation on the atrocities of war, the path to radicalization, finding the fragmented humanity in people trapped in these conflicts and why it was so important for them as filmmakers and storytellers to intersperse music and theatre into an otherwise scathing cavalcade of inhumanity.

 

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For more go to: rebelmotionpicture.com

About the filmmakers – Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah met during their film studies at the Hogeschool voor Wetenschap en Kunsten in Schaerbeek, Brussels, Belgium. During their studies, the first project that they directed was a short film named Broeders (2011), which was appreciated by critics; their later films, Black (2015) and Patser (2018), also received positive reception.  They directed the first two episodes in the TV series Snowfall, which aired on July 5 and 12 in 2017, as well as Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike‘s music video “When I Grow Up”, which features American rapper Wiz Khalifa. Besides directing Bad Boys for Life, the duo were also attached to direct Beverly Hills Cop IV, the fourth installment of the Beverly Hills Cop film series, in which Eddie Murphy is set to reprise his role. The duo also directed and executive produced Ms. Marvel for Disney+. In May 2021, it was announced that the duo would direct a film based on Batgirl for HBO Max. In April 2022, it was announced that the duo will no longer direct Beverly Hills Cop IV. In August 2022, after Warner Bros. Discovery made the decision to write the film off for tax purposes, it was announced that the movie Batgirl would not be released. With a reported $90 million budget, Batgirl is one of the highest budget movies in history to be produced, but not released. By February 2023, the duo signed on to direct Bad Boys IV.

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89% on RottenTomatoes

“Over the course of its 135-minute sprawl, “Rebel” remains dynamic by weaving a host of standard genre elements into its many subplots.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety

“It’s a movie that must be seen to be believed. This fascinating work proves why it’s essential for cinema to have a diverse range of voices telling the stories, and that’s what brings about these incredible shocks and surprises.’ – Kaleem Aftab, Cineuropa

“Mixes raw emotions with unexpected blasts of artful expression that keeps viewers invested in material that would otherwise be extraordinarily difficult to watch.” – Brian Orndorf, Blu-ray.com

“A harrowing depiction of the insidious nature of militant fanaticism, Rebel tells its story with verve, sympathy, and a sense of style that’s as unapologetic as its horrifyingly logical plot.” – Mark Dujsik, Mark Reviews Movies

26.2 to Life – Director Christine Yoo

The San Quentin Prison Marathon has an unconventional route: 105 dizzying laps around a crowded prison yard. Director Christine Yoo deeply empathetic documentary,  26.2 TO LIFE, tells the story of incarcerated men who are members of the 1000 Mile Club, the prison’s long distance running club. They train all year for 26.2 mile long marathon race, all of which takes place inside the walls of the infamous San Quentin Men’s Prison mile race. For the men who take their places at the starting line on a cool, sunny November morning, completing the marathon means more than entrée into an elite group of athletes. It’s a chance to be defined by more than their crimes. Cheering them on are a small staff of volunteer coaches, veteran marathoners who train with the runners throughout the year. The bonds they forge on the track create a community that transcends prison politics and extends beyond the prison walls as members are released. 26.2 TO LIFE is a story of transformation and second chances. The film offers a rare glimpse into a world out of bounds, as the men navigating life sentences seek redemption and freedom…or something like it. Director Christine Yoo takes us inside the walls, physical and psychological of the men, who readily acknowledge the mistakes and crimes they have committed, work to define the remainder of their lives as positive and worthwhile.

 

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For more go to: sanquentinmarathon.com

*Winner: Audience Choice Award  Santa Barbara Festival 2023*
*Winner: Reel Women Direct Award
 Cleveland International Film Festival 2023*
*Winner: Audience Award for Best Feature
 SF Documentary Film Festival (DocFest) 2023*
*Independent Film Festival of Boston – Grand Jury Prize
Seattle International Film Festival – Winner Golden Space Needle Award
*Runner Up: Audience Award  DOC NYC 2022* 

 

About the filmmaker – Christine Yoo is a director, producer, writer, volunteer at San Quentin State Prison and co-founder of the San Quentin Film Festival. As a producer, she has worked on nonfiction series for National Geographic, History, Oxygen and PBS for Revelations Entertainment, S.M.A.C., The Story Lab, Dick Wolf Films, Shed Media and Prometheus. Her independent work focuses on under-served voices and has been sponsored by Sundance, The Marshall Project, Rogovy Foundation, LGMobile, Hyundai, Korean Air and she is a Logan Nonfiction Fellow. Yoo directed and produced the documentary short, A Conversation At Claudia’s, a special project for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA PS1), co-wrote the cult anime series Afro Samurai, starring Samuel L. Jackson, and directed, produced and co-wrote the award-winning Korean-American rom-com Wedding Palace, starring Brian Tee and S. Korean actress Kang Hy-jung (Oldboy) in her English language debut. 26.2 TO LIFE is Yoo’s first feature documentary. 

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80% on RottenTomatoes

“The film’s leads—a father, a former track star, and a journalist—are not glorified but humanized, and their captivating stories are told with the unflinching conviction that their lives could use more than loaned running shoes.” – Sam Machkovech, The Stranger

“Hopefully, 26.2 to Life will change some hearts and minds of lawmakers.” – Jason Delgado, Film Threat

“Though not specifically political in nature, Yoo’s film may just change a few minds regarding the purpose of prison as a rehabilitative tool rather than a punitive one.” – Douglas Davidson, Elements of Madness

“Christine Yoo’s hopeful nonfiction feature strikes the right balance in telling the stories of San Quentin inmates who are participating in the prison-supported 1,000 Mile running club.” – Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News