The Last Days – Director and Editor James Moll

1998’s Academy Award Best Feature Documentary, THE LAST DAYS, filmed in five countries, traces the compelling experiences of five Hungarian Holocaust survivors who fell victim to Hitler’s brutal war against the Jews during the final days of WWII. Including newly discovered historical footage and a rare interview with a former Nazi doctor at Auschwitz, the film tells the remarkable story of five people – now a grandmother, a teacher, a businessman, an artist, and a United States Congressman – as they return from the United States to their hometowns and to the ghettos and concentration camps in which they were imprisoned. Through the eyes of the survivors and other witnesses, THE LAST DAYS recounts one of the most brutal chapters of this dark period in human history, when families were taken from their homes, stripped of their dignity, deported to concentration camps and ultimately murdered. Above all, THE LAST DAYS, is a potent depiction of personal strength and courage. Director James Moll joins us to talk about the film’s recent remastering and upcoming re-release, the enduring power of the five survivor’s stories and why the THE LAST DAYS continues to cast a very long and cautionary shadow over contemporary history.

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

Steven Spielberg and USC Shoah Foundation present the newly remasters version of The Last Days debuting on Blu-Ray™  from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment on May 19and will also available on NETFLIX

About the filmmaker – James Moll’s work as a documentary filmmaker has earned him an Oscar, two Emmys and a Grammy, among many other awards. A protege of Steven Spielberg, Moll’s career has focused mostly on non-fiction story telling. Moll recently directed and produced of Foo Fighters Back and Forth, a feature documentary about the sixteen year career of the rock band Foo Fighters, and most recently produced Always Faithful, a feature-length documentary about American military war dogs and their handlers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Together with Matt Damon serving as executive producer, Moll directed and produced the sports adventure documentary Running the Sahara. Filmed in eight countries, the film follows three elite athletes as they attempt be the first to run across the entire Sahara Desert. Moll was the director/editor and producer of Inheritance, for which he received an Emmy Award and was nominated for a second. The film is about the psychological legacy that a prominent Nazi commander (Amon Goethe) left upon his daughter. The NBC feature documentary Price for Peace was directed and produced by Moll, executive produced by Stephen Ambrose and Steven Spielberg. The film focused on WWII in the Pacific, and was hosted by Tom Brokaw.  Moll received an Academy Award in 1999 for directing and editing the feature documentary The Last Days, executive produced by Steven Spielberg, chronicling the lives of five Hungarian Holocaust survivors. Moll produced Broken Silence, a collection of five foreign-language documentaries that premiered on primetime television in Russia, Poland, Argentina, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Moll has produced many programs for television, including programming for A&E, Hallmark, Vh1, TBS and History. Survivors of the Holocaust, a documentary produced for TBS earned Moll a Peabody Award and his first Emmy Award (the film was nominated for three). In addition to his work as a filmmaker, Moll established and operated The Shoah Foundation (currently the USC Shoah Foundation Institute) with Steven Spielberg for the purpose of videotaping Holocaust survivor testimonies around the world. The Foundation videotaped over 50,000 testimonies, in 57 countries.  Born in Allentown, PA and raised in Los Angeles, Moll earned a degree from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Before graduation, he worked in feature film development for film producer Lauren Shuler Donner (Mr. Mom and the X-Men films). Moll is a member of the DGA, the Motion Picture Academy, and the Television Academy. Moll serves on the Executive Committee of the Documentary Branch of the Motion Picture Academy, and as co-chair for the DGA Documentary Award.For more: allentownproductions.com

Magnificent! Breathtaking!” – Joe Morgenstern, WALL STREET JOURNAL

“Unforgettable!” – Kevin Thomas, LOS ANGELES TIMES

“THUMBS UP!” – Joel Siegel and Roger Ebert

May 6 – Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Film Festival – May 6 – 9

Turner Classic Movies (TCM)  is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. With more than two decades as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® and Summer Under the Stars. TCM  also directly connects with  movie fans through events such as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Big Screen Classics series in partnership with Fathom Events, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app. Fans can also enjoy a TCM curated classics experience on HBO Max.

For news, screenings and updates go to: filmfestival.tcm.com

Explore Turner Classic Movies Schedule

View HBO Max Lineup

May 6 – 9 tune in to the TCM network for four fantastic days featuring a curated selection of films reflecting a broad spectrum of the classic movies we love – each surrounded by new interviews, special presentations, archival content, and clips from past TCM Classic Film Festivals.

TCM UNDERGROUND – Tune in every Friday night for TCM Underground, our late-night movie franchise that showcases the best of classic cult favorites and hard-to-find films, from experimental shorts to off-beat comedies. For more discussions around the wild, weird world of cult films and films shown on TCM Underground, check out our web series TCM Slumberground on YouTube!

TCM SLUMBERGROUND is the official monthly pre-show for TCM Underground, a late-night cult movie franchise that airs at 2:00 am EST on Friday nights on Turner Classic Movies. In each episode, TCM Underground programmer Millie De Chirico sits down with a panel of her fellow TCM employees to discuss the upcoming double feature and other cult movie topics.

Other Midnight Films at past TCM Classic Film Festivals include: Boom!, Duck Soup, Eraserhead, Freaks, Gog, Island of Lost Souls, Kentucky Fried Movie,  Night of the Living Dead, Nothing Lasts Forever, Phase IV, Roar, Santo vs. The Evil Brain,The Bride of Frankenstein, The Day of the Triffids, The Mummy, The Student Nurses, The Tingler, The World’s Greatest Sinner and Zardoz.

The L.A. Rebellion – Director Charles Burnett & Director Billy Woodberry @ 2021 TCM Film Festival

In the late 1960s, in the aftermath of the Watts Uprising and against the backdrop of the continuing Civil Rights Movement and the escalating Vietnam War, a group of African and African-American students entered the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, as part of an Ethno-Communications initiative designed to be responsive to communities of color (also including Asian, Chicano and Native American communities).  Now referred to as the “L.A. Rebellion,” these mostly unheralded artists created a unique cinematic landscape, as—over the course of two decades—students arrived, mentored one another and passed the torch to the next group. Beyond the films themselves, what makes the L.A. Rebellion movement a discovery worthy of a place in film history is the vitality of its filmmakers, their utopian vision of a better society, their sensitivity to children and gender issues, their willingness to question any and all received wisdom, their identification with the liberation movements in the Third World, and their expression of Black pride and dignity. As part of the 2021 TCM (Turner Classic Movies) Film Festival is spotlighting two of the L.A. Rebellion’s leading lights, Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry in the festival’s Special Collections section. Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry join us for a conversation on their recollections the birth of the L.A. Rebellion and the inspiration for their life altering decision to become filmmakers.

 

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Check out Special Collections at: filmfestival.tcm.com/on-hbomax

About the filmmaker – Charles Burnett is a writer-director whose work has received extensive honors. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, his family soon moved to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Burnett studied creative writing at UCLA before entering the University’s graduate film program. His thesis project, Killer of Sheep (1977), won accolades at film festivals and a critical devotion; in 1990, it was among the first titles named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. European financing allowed Burnett to shoot his second feature, My Brother’s Wedding (1983), but a rushed debut prevented the filmmaker from completing his final cut until 2007. In 1988, Burnett was awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur (“genius grant”) Fellowship and shortly thereafter Burnett became the first African American recipient of the National Society of Film Critics’ best screenplay award, for To Sleep with Anger (1990). Burnett made the highly acclaimed “Nightjohn” in 1996 for the Disney Channel; his subsequent television works include “Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding” (1998), “Selma, Lord, Selma” (1999), an episode of the seven-part series “Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues” (2003) and “Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property” (2003), which was shown on the PBS series “Independent Lens.” Burnett has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the J. P. Getty Foundation. In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art showcased his work with a month-long retrospective.

To Sleep with Anger – Writer and Director Charles Burnett – A slow-burning masterwork of the early 1990s, this third feature by Charles Burnett is a singular piece of American mythmaking. In a towering performance, Danny Glover plays the enigmatic southern drifter Harry, a devilish charmer who turns up out of the blue on the South Central Los Angeles doorstep of his old friends. In short order, Harry’s presence seems to cast a chaotic spell on what appeared to be a peaceful household, exposing  smoldering tensions between parents and children, tradition and change, virtue and temptation. Interweaving evocative strains of gospel and blues with rich, poetic-realist images, To Sleep with Anger is a sublimely stirring film from an autonomous artistic sensibility, a portrait of family resilience steeped in the traditions of African American mysticism and folklore.

About the filmmaker – Billy Woodberry  Born in Dallas in 1950, Billy Woodberry is one of the founders of the L.A. Rebellion film movement. His first feature film Bless Their Little Hearts (1983) is a pioneer and essential work of this movement, influenced by Italian neo-realism and the work of Third Cinema filmmakers. The film was awarded with an OCIC and Interfilm awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2013. His latest feature film And when I die, I won’t stay dead (2015) about the beat poet Bob Kaufman was the opening film of MoMA’s Doc Fortnight in 2016.  Woodberry has appeared in Charles Burnett’s “When It Rains” (1995) and provided narration for Thom Andersen’s Red HOLLYWOOD” (1996) and James Benning’s “Four Corners”(1998).  His work has been screened at Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Harvard Film Archive, Camera Austria Symposium, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Tate Modern and Centre Pompidou. He received his MFA degree from UCLA in 1982 where he also taught at the School of Theater, Film and Television. Since 1989 Billy Woodberry is a faculty member of the School of Film/Video and the School of Art at the California Institute of the Arts. 

Bless Their Little Hearts – Director / Producer / Editor Billy Woodberry – A key masterpiece of the L.A Rebellion, Bless Their Little Hearts distills the social concerns and aesthetics of that trailblazing movement in African American cinema. Billy Woodberry’s film showcases his attentive eye, sensitivity to the nuances of community and family, and the power of the blues. Searching for steady work, Charlie Banks (Nate Hardman) views his chronic unemployment as a kind of spiritual trial. But day work and selling a few catfish can’t sustain a family of five. While his wife, Andais (Kaycee Moore), works to support them with dignity, Charlie finds comfort for his wounded sense of manhood in an affair that threatens his marriage and family.  At the heart of this devastatingly beautiful film is the couple’s agonizing confrontation – shot in one continuous ten-minute take – that ranks as “one of the great domestic cataclysms of modern movies.” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker) Named to the National Film Registry, Bless Their Little Hearts features contributions by two iconic American artists: Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep, To Sleep With Anger), who wrote and shot the film, and Kaycee Moore (Daughters of the Dust), whose powerful performance as Andais Banks remains a revelation. Film restoration by Ross Lipman with Billy Woodberry at UCLA Film & Television Archive. 2K Digital restoration by Re-Kino, Warsaw. English captions and Spanish subtitles.

May 6 – 9 tune in to the TCM network for four fantastic days featuring a curated selection of films reflecting a broad spectrum of the classic movies we love – each surrounded by new interviews, special presentations, archival content, and clips from past TCM Classic Film Festivals.

Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. With more than two decades as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events such as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Big Screen Classics series in partnership with Fathom Events, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app. Fans can also enjoy a TCM curated classics experience on HBO Max.

For news, screenings and updates go to: filmfestival.tcm.com

Explore Turner Classic Movies Schedule

View HBO Max Lineup

Check out Special Collections at: filmfestival.tcm.com/on-hbomax

let me come in – Director Bill Morrison

Produced and directed by filmmaker Bill Morrison, “let me come in” features a new song by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang performed by soprano Angel Blue, one of opera’s brightest stars. The short film incorporates rediscovered (and heavily damaged) footage from the lost 1928 silent film Pawns of Passion to astonishing effect. Filmmaker Bill Morrison, director of the highly acclaimed films Decasia and Dawson City: Frozen Time, has long been fascinated with ancient, decayed nitrate film stock from long-forgotten films—what he describes as “goopy, sticky films deemed not worth saving.” For “let me come in,” he has resurrected footage from what may be the last surviving reels of the 1928 German silent romance Pawns of Passion,  discovered in a Pennsylvania barn in 2012. After decades of expanding in hot summers and contracting in freezing winters, the deteriorated nitrate film stock now reveals, in Morrison’s words, “imagery that seems to be pulled from a state of semi-consciousness, asleep but dreaming.” Morrison describes Lang’s song as “a rumination on love and the borderline separating two souls, seemingly from the precipice of consciousness. When I heard Angel Blue’s incredible interpretation, my mind immediately recalled the ambiguous tension in this scene from Pawns of Passion.Left to rot in a barn, and then scanned and archived again for another eight years on my own personal hard drive, it has found a new life through David’s words and music, and Angel Blue’s voice. It was very exciting to see how quickly it came together and how perfectly the image, words and sound meshed.” Director Bill Morrison joins us for conversation on his inspired interpretation of hauntingly beautiful film fragments. 

 

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“let me come in” will receive its broadcast premiere as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival on May 7.

About the filmmaker – Bill Morrison  makes films that reframe long-forgotten moving images. His films have premiered at the New York, Rotterdam, Sundance, and Venice film festivals. In 2014 Morrison had a mid-career retrospective at MoMA. His found footage opus Decasia  (2002) was the first film of the 21st century to be selected to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. The Great Flood (2013),was recognized with the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award of 2014 for historical scholarship. Dawson City: Frozen Time  (2016) was included on over 100 critics’ lists of the best films of the year, and on numerous lists ranking the best films of the decade, including those of the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times and Vanity Fair. His work has previously been seen at LA Opera in productions of David Lang’s “anatomy theater” (2016) and David T. Little’s Soldier Songs (2019). Co-presented by Los Angeles Opera with composer David Lang and soprano Angel Blue. Special thanks to the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. For more go to: billmorrisonfilm.com/bio-filmography

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“Morrison’s world is one of the most breathtaking and haltingly disturbing cinematic realms of our time”.  – Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com


Paris Calligrammes, Director Ulrike Ottinger

PARIS CALLIGRAMMES is an epic self-portrait of Ulrike Ottinger, one of Germany’s most prominent contemporary avant-garde artists, known for her paintings, photographs, and, above all, her films. An impressive and extensive archive of sensorial memories, historical photographs, and documentary footage traces the early influences of Ottinger’s life in Paris in the 1960s. This was a time marked by her integration into the rich intellectual and cultural circles of the city, but also engagement in the political and social eruptions around the Algerian War and May 1968. These varied dimensions of her experience make PARIS CALLIGRAMMES an essential historical time capsule, beautifully interwoven with the most precious of memories and images. In a rich torrent of archival audio and visuals, paired with extracts from her own artworks and films, Ottinger resurrects the old Saint-Germaindes-Prés and Latin Quarter, with their literary cafés and jazz clubs, and revisits encounters with Jewish exiles, life with her artistic community, the world views of Parisian ethnologists and philosophers, the political upheavals of the Algerian War and May 1968, and the legacy of the colonial era. Director Ulrike Ottinger (Seven Women, Seven Sins, Ticket of No Return, Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia) joins us for a conversation on her life as young painter in Paris in the 1960s, and her personal memories of Parisian bohemianism and the serious social, political and cultural upheavals of the time into a cinematic “figure poem” (calligram) in “Paris Calligrammes”.

For news and updates on the Ulrike Ottinger go to: ulrikeottinger.com

Watch: Paris Calligrammes at Icarus Films

Watch via Virtual Theatre go to: icarusfilms.com/ Paris Calligrammes

“In Paris Calligrammes, the artist Ulrike Ottinger casts a highly personal and subjective gaze back to the twentieth century. At the heart of her film is Paris: its protagonist is the city itself, its streets, neighborhoods, bookstores, cinemas, but also its artists, authors, and intellectuals. It is a place of magical appeal, an artistic biotope, but also a place where the demons of the twentieth century still confront us.” – Bernd Scherer

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“One of the great works of first-person cinema. Ottinger’s personal and political masterwork. Extraordinary; a work of vital and energetic modernism.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“Enriching, stimulating; vital and contradictory. Captures the zeitgeist as experienced by a young woman eager to soak up the cultural riches around her, which she then distilled through her own sensibility to create paintings reflecting the era’s upheavals.” – Jay Weissberg, Variety

“Never a dull moment; the work of a consummate artist who understands the importance of the form matching the story.” – Kaleem Aftab, Cineuropa

“Her cinema is restless, Odyssean: full of stories of exile and adventure. [‘Paris Calligrammes’ is] an homage to the intellectual and artistic life of the city in the 1960s.” – Amy Sherlock, Frieze Magazine

Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts – Director Jeffrey Wolf / Producer Sam Pollard

Jeffrey Wolf’s illuminating documentary BILL TRAYLOR: CHASING GHOSTS explores the life of a unique American artist, a man with a remarkable and unlikely biography. Bill Traylor was born into slavery in 1853 on a cotton plantation in rural Alabama. After the Civil War, Traylor continued to farm the land as a sharecropper until the late 1920s. Aging and alone, he moved to Montgomery and worked odd jobs in the thriving segregated black neighborhood. A decade later, in his late 80s, Traylor became homeless and started to draw and paint, both memories from plantation days and scenes of a radically changing urban culture. Having witnessed profound social and political change during a life spanning slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation, and the Great Migration, Traylor devised his own visual language to translate an oral culture into something original, powerful, and culturally rooted. He made well over a thousand drawings and paintings between 1939-1942. This colorful, strikingly modernist work eventually led him to be recognized as one of America’s greatest self-taught artists and the subject of a Smithsonian retrospective. Using historical and cultural context, BILL TRAYLOR: CHASING GHOSTS brings the spirit and mystery of Traylor’s incomparable art to life. Making dramatic and  surprising use of tap dance and evocative period music, the film balances archival photographs and footage, insightful perspectives from his descendents, and Traylor’s striking drawings and paintings to reveal one of America’s most prominent artists to a wide audience. Director Jeffrey Wolf (James Castle: Portrait of an Artist) and Producer Sam Pollard (Eyes on the Prize, MLK/FBI) join us for a conversation on the remarkable life and the unsettling times that infused the strikingly direct and unfettered work of a deeply intuitive artist.

 

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For news and updates go to: kinolorber.com/film/bill-traylor-chasing-ghosts

Watch Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts and other Kino Lorber films

For more news go to: billtraylorchasingghosts.com

Director’s Statement – My introduction to artist Bill Traylor came with the 1982 watershed exhibit “Black Folk Art in America” in DC. I had applied for a small grant to film the opening, and interview the featured living artists who attended. Traylor’s iconic art was used for the exhibit’s poster and still hangs in my office. Since encountering Bill Traylor’s art some 35 years ago, I have long contemplated his work, wanting to unravel and dig deeper into his world. Today, Bill Traylor is one of the most celebrated self-taught artists, with one of the most remarkable and unlikely biographies. Now, coming full circle, my documentary film Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts will premiere at the opening of a retrospective of his work at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, organized by Leslie Umberger, curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art. Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts strives to broaden our understanding of this period of transformation, a time when black people prospered as business professionals in Montgomery, in spite of living through the fear and volatility of Jim Crow South that impacted daily life. Traylor created his own visual language as a means to communicate and record the stories of his life. Traylor’s art is the sole body of work made by a black artist of his era to survive. He made well over a thousand drawings and paintings on discarded cardboard between 1939 and 1942. Bill Traylor did not begin to draw until he was an old man; and when he did, his burst of creativity demonstrated a unique mastery of artistic technique. Without setting out to do so, he became a chronicler of his times. – Jeffrey Wolf

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes!

“Critic’s Pick! A sincere, nourishing account of the artist. Wolf makes excellent use of photo and film archives, laying out the territory that fed Traylor’s vision.” – Glenn Kenny, The New York Times

“Brings the spirit and mystery of Traylor’s art to life and shines a spotlight on a creative gift that was long ignored and marginalized.” – Dave McNary, Variety

“Jeffrey Wolf’s exceptional documentary Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts seeks to tells its subject’s story in a deeply personal way, while also pulling back when needed to contextualize his work.” – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle

“Speaks volumes on the life and times of the artist. The pieces themselves… lend those ghosts of his past a persistent, ethereal relevance.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times

“A celebration of art and the best of humanity transcending poverty, racism and despair.” – Southern Poverty Law Center

“In Traylor, we can see the power of individual voice… the work is transcendent and essential.” – Jerry Saltz, New York Magazine

“An extraordinary artist… Traylor’s pictures stamp themselves on your eye and mind.” – Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker

 

GUNDA – Director Victor Kossakovsky

Where his prior film, the acclaimed epic AQUARELA, was a reminder of the fragility of human tenure on earth, in GUNDA, master filmmaker Viktor Kossakovsky reminds us that we share our planet with billions of other animals. Through encounters with a mother sow (the eponymous Gunda), two ingenious cows, and a scene-stealing, one-legged chicken, Kossakovsky movingly recalibrates our moral universe, reminding us of the inherent value of life and the mystery of all animal consciousness, including our own.  Experiential cinema in its purest form, GUNDA chronicles the unfiltered lives of a mother pig, a flock of chickens, and a herd of cows with masterful intimacy. Using stark, transcendent black and white cinematography and the farm’s ambient soundtrack, Master director Victor Kossakowsky invites the audience to slow down and experience life as his subjects do, taking in their world with a magical patience and an other worldly perspective. GUNDA asks us to meditate on the mystery of animal consciousness, and reckon with the role humanity plays in it.

 

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For news and updates go to: gunda.movie

For GUNDA theatrical release go to: neonrated.com/films/gunda

“GUNDA is a mesmerizing perspective on sentience within animal species, normally – and perhaps purposely – hidden from our view. Displays of pride and reverence, amusement and bliss at a pig’s inquisitive young; her panic, despair and utter defeat in the face of cruel trickery, are validations of just how similarly all species react and cope with events in our respective lives. Victor Kossakovsky has crafted a visceral meditation on existence that transcends the normal barriers that separate species. It is a film of profound importance and artistry.” – Executive producer Joaquin Phoenix

Director’s Statement – Growing up I was very much a city kid, but at the age of four I spent a few months in a village in the countryside, where I met my best friend Vasya. He was much younger than me – just a few weeks old when we met – but over time he became my dearest friend and the times we spent together are some of the most cherished memories from my childhood. One day, when we were still young, Vasya was killed and served as pork cutlets for a New Year’s Eve dinner. I was devastated and immediately became (probably) the first vegetarian kid in the Soviet Union. As a consequence, since I became a filmmaker I have always wanted to make a film about the creatures with whom we share the earth, a film about animals as living, feeling beings in their own right. I wanted to make a film without patronizing or humanizing them, without any sentimentality, and without vegan propaganda. However, as the film I had in mind is not about dolphins, elephants, pandas or other cute animals we love to love, it was impossible to finance. I tried for almost three decades until I finally met Norwegian producer Anita Rehoff Larsen from Sant & Usant who took the risk on making it. We were unbelievably lucky to meet Gunda in the Norwegian countryside on the very first day of our research trip. Gunda is on the screen for over half of the runtime of the final film and is an extraordinarily powerful character – you do not need an interpreter to understand her emotions and experiences. As such I decided to make this film without any captions, voice-over, or music, you just need to watch it and allow yourself to feel. For me, the essence of cinema is showing, not telling. I do not make films if I want to tell an audience something I have no interest in prescribing an opinion. I make films if there is something I want people to see and to allow them to find their own conclusion. Documentary cinema is a great tool to show the realities of the world, to show things that we do not see by ourselves, that we do not want to see, or that we have collectively agreed that we do not see, and so we allow ourselves not to think about. With GUNDA I want people to see these animals as sentient beings and to encourage them to think about the possibility of their consciousness and selfhood. With that I feel that GUNDA is the most personal and important film I have made as a filmmaker and as a human being. – Victor Kossakovsky

NOMINEE – Best Feature – IDA Documentary Awards 2021
FEATURES SHORTLIST – DOC NYC 2020
TOP 10 FILM OF THE YEAR – The New York Times

“GUNDA is pure cinema. This is a film to take a bath in – it’s stripped to its essential elements, without any interference. It’s what we should all aspire to as filmmakers and audiences – pictures and sound put together to tell a powerful and profound story without rush. It’s jaw dropping images and sound put together with the best ensemble cast and you have something more like a potion than a movie.” – Paul Thomas Anderson

98% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Sublimely beautiful and profoundly moving, it offers you the opportunity to look – at animals, yes, but also at qualities that are often subordinated in narratively driven movies, at textures, shapes and light.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“Kossakosky’s achingly beautiful black-and-white documentary is ground-breaking and wondrous for its intimacy,” – Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Toronto

“”Gunda” may be a meditational slow-burn, but as it unfurls its immersive audiovisual tapestry it hovers between non-fiction observation and lyrical insight, and to that end feels like an advancement of the nature documentary form.” – Eric Kohn, indieWire

“It is hard to fully articulate how, but Gunda is as much a damning meditation on the human condition as it is a glowing, thought-provoking portrayal of a mother’s love for her children, a sow’s love for her piglets.” – Matthew Anderson, CineVue

Olympia – Director Harry Mavromichalis

OLYMPIA is a sublimely intimate fly-on-the-wall verité documentary that tells a poignant story of a woman finding her own voice on her own terms to assert a gigantic creative force into the world. Rebelling against her suspicious Greek mother to assert her strong sexual drive, fighting the feeling she was “too ethnic” in Boston, and starting her own theatre company in New Jersey instead of waiting for the phone to ring, Olympia Dukakis models how to live life with blazing courage. Throughout an engrossing story that seamlessly blends past and present, she opens her heart and exposes her truest self to Harry Mavromichalis’ unobtrusive camera. The raw honesty with which Olympia leads us into the core of herself is what makes this film luminary. As fellow actors with whom she has shared the limelight Laura Linney, Diane Ladd, Whoopi Goldberg, and Armistead Maupin all testify, Olympia is “totally open and crazy”, which is what turns out to be the marker of her absolute sanity. OLYMPIA’s intimate portrait of a working class professional, a scholar actor of intuitive power, and a woman beloved around the world, culminates on the steps of the Dukakis’ humble ancestral home in Lesbos, Greece. Through her brutal honesty and sincerity, Olympia compels us to confront our own shortcomings and differences by letting go, and move forward with defiant conviction. Director Harry Mavromichalis takes a page from the Albert Maysles’ school of fly-on-the-wall verité documentary storytelling leaving the viewer with an appreciation of an artist becoming her own woman, on her own terms, primed to share her creative insights with the world.

 

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For news and updates go to: olympiathefilm.com

About the filmmaker – Producer and Director Harry Mavromichalis – OLYMPIA is Harry Mavromichalis’ directorial feature documentary debut and he is currently in post-production for “Yankee Restraint”; a character driven piece that examines the intricacies of a gay relationship spanning decades and tackles issues of love and resentment.  After a long career as a modern dancer with his own dance company in New York, he pursued a Masters in Film Directing from New York University.  He wrote, directed and produced multiple short films, music videos and commercials. Curator of the inaugural LGBTQ Film Festival, Harry was a key organizer of the historic first-ever Pride Parade in Cyprus which attracted over 4,000 attendees.

About Olympia Dukakis – Born June 20, 1931 in Lowell, Massachusetts, the daughter of Greek immigrants, Dukakis earned two degrees from Boston University and worked as a physical therapist while pursuing a stage career. Olympia Dukakis won an Academy Award for her performance in Moonstruck, a role that also earned her a Golden Globe Award, American Comedy Award, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has appeared in more than 60 feature and short films, including Steel Magnolias, Cloudburst, Dad, Mr. Holland’s Opus, Working Girl, Look Who’s Talking I, II & III, Mighty Aphrodite, Jeffrey, Away From Her, among many others. Her television include : Big Driver, Sex & Violence, Forgive Me, Bored to Death, Last of the Blond Bombshells, Sinatra (Golden Globe Nominee), Joan of Arc (Emmy Nominee), Tales of the City, More Tales of the City (Emmy Nominee), Further Tales of the City among more than 40 others. She has performed in over 130 productions on and off-Broadway and regionally at theatres including the Public Theater, A.C.T., Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare & Co., and the Williamstown Theatre Festival, where she also served as Associate Director. She was a Founding member and Producing Artistic Director of the Whole Theatre in Montclair, NJ, for 19 years; also a founding member of the Actor’s Company and the Charles Playhouse in Boston. She continues to teach acting at NYU and master classes for professional theatre companies, colleges, and universities across the country. She was bestowed the National Arts Club Medal of Honor and her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was placed in 2013.

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“It is a pleasure to spend time with Dukakis, who is always not just open to but hungry for revelation, growth, and connection, giving the documentary a deliciously buoyant quality.” – Nell Minow, RogerEbert.com

“Director Harry Mavromichalis, using extreme close-ups that caress the stunning, dramatic topography of [Dukakis’] face, eschews traditional narration and chases after the firebrand as she attends the unveiling of her star on the walk of fame.” – Andrea Simakis,Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Harry Mavromichalis’ Olympia delivers a deeply personal and philosophical documentary, following Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis over the course of several years.” – Grace Williams, Battle Royale With Cheese

“The documentary Olympia is a lot like the Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis herself — opinionated, funny, candid, foul-mouthed, sometimes rambling, but never boring.” – Carla Hay, Culture Mix

Our Towns – Co-directors Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan

From Academy Award nominated filmmakers Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan’s comes Our Towns. It is a moving and uplifting portrait of America and how the rise of civic and economic reinvention is transforming small cities and towns across the country. Based on the bestselling book “Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America” by journalists James and Deborah Fallows, the visually stunning feature documentary spotlights ingenious local initiatives and explores how a sense of community and common language of change can help people and towns find a different path to the future. In 2011, the Fallows created a blogpost for The Atlantic asking their readers to share compelling stories about their towns – from economic setbacks to local struggles or achievements – that have been overlooked by the national press. Within a week, they received over 1,000 responses. For the next five years, they traveled the United States exploring the changes taking place across small town America for what would become their bestselling book. In 2018, Ascher and Jordan joined them to revisit eight of those cities, including San Bernardino, CA; Sioux Falls, SD; Columbus, MS; Eastport, ME; Charleston, WV; and Bend, OR. Our Towns introduces us to a wide range of civic leaders, immigrants, educators, environmentalists, artists, students, and more, witnessing their love for their communities and the innovative ways they are improving them. OUR TOWNS provides an expansive perspective on America that finds unexpected connections between personal stories, community actions, and the arc of history. Although filmed before the pandemic, OUR TOWNS speaks to how the country, and by extension the world, can find a way forward.

 

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For more on the April 13 HBO premiere go to: hbo.com/our-towns

For news and updates go to: westcityfilms.com/ourtowns

About the filmmaker – STEVEN ASCHER is an Academy Award-nominated director and writer.  He’s author of The Filmmaker’s Handbook, a bestselling text, and has taught filmmaking, most recently as a visiting professor at Harvard. The Boston Globe calls his work “filmmaking at its finest.” He wrote, directed and co-produced the short drama Seduction Theory  which was selected for the Toronto International Shorts Festival , the Los Angeles International Shorts Festival, won a Platinum Remi for best dark comedy at Worldfest Houston and screened at the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner. He is author of The Filmmaker’s Handbook: a Comprehensive Guide  for the Digital Age (with Ed Pincus) a bestselling text and a staple of universities and film schools internationally. Called “the bible” by The Independent, the “gold-standard technical reference” by The Boston Globe, and “seminal” by The New York Times. Ascher has written greatly expanded new editions; the fifth was released in 2019. Over 360,000 copies in print. He has served as a juror at the Sundance Film Festival, the Emmys, the Full Frame Film Festival, the Independent Film Festival Boston, the National Student Film Festival, Woods Hole Film Festival and the McKnight Fellowship. He has been a guest critic for several film programs including Yale University, Duke University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Writing on Ascher’s work has appeared in many publications including The New York TimesThe New YorkerThe Boston GlobeVarietyEcran Total and books including Documentary Storytelling by Sheila Curren Bernard. For more go to: West City Films

About the filmmaker – JEANNE JORDAN is an Academy Award-nominated producer, director, and editor of documentaries and dramas. TheIndependent said of her resume, “it reads like PBS’s greatest hits.” Jordan was Series Producer of the PBS children’s series Postcards from Buster for two seasons, producing a new, international version of the show, nominated for the Outstanding Children’s Series Emmy both years. Jordan edited two films of the groundbreaking civil rights series Eyes on the Prize which was nominated for an Oscar and won the DuPont Columbia Award, and films for American Experience, including season opener, Amelia Earhart and The Wright Stuff. Other editing includes My Mother’s Murder for HBO and the Emmy-nominee, A Normal Face for NOVA. Her dramatic feature work includes several films for American Playhouse, including  Noon WineLemon Sky and the Emmy-winning series Concealed Enemies on the trials of Alger Hiss. She edited the bilingual feature, Blue Diner which won the prestigious ALMA award. In 1988, Jordan and Orlando Bagwell produced Running With Jesse, a chronicle of Jesse Jackson’s presidential run for FRONTLINE, which Jordan also edited. She has produced and edited several pieces for The PBS Newshour and films for the PBS series Art Close Up, which won and were nomintated for Emmys. Jordan graduated from the University of Iowa and began her career at Iowa Public Television. She has twice been honored with a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard and she was a member of the Breadloaf writers conference. She has taught filmmaking at Harvard and the Art Institute of Boston. She has lectured and held master classes in several countries, including Tokyo University, the CPB/PBS Producers Academy, the Full Frame Fellows Program, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard Law School, and the Aristoteles Workshop in Romania sponsored by the European network Arte. She has been a guest critic at Yale University, Duke University and Rhode Island School of Design. Jordan has advised and contributed to numerous film productions. She and Ascher are Executive Producers of the ITVS-supported film, Deej, winner of the Peabody Award. She has received grants from the the LEF Foundation, the Artists Foundation, the Paul Robeson Fund, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Iowa Humanities and many other state humanities and arts councils. Her films have screened at major festivals internationally and are in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, Harvard Film Archive, UCLA and the Sundance Collection. Jordan’s writing on films has appeared in Documentary Magazine. Writing on Jordan’s work has appeared in many publications including The New York TimesThe New YorkerThe Boston GlobeVarietyEcran Total and books including  Documentary Storytelling by Sheila Curren Bernard. For more go to: West City Films

“Ascher and Jordan’s films are consistently thoughtful and moving, deeply committed, and resonant with craft: their considerable gifts as filmmakers include their ability to make what is complex and difficult to film and edit seem easy.” – Scott MacDonald, American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary

“Dedicated filmmakers with an uncanny eye for capturing drama in the most commonplace activities.” – John Cooper, Director, Sundance Film Festival Festival

A Love Song for Latasha, Director Sophia Nahli Allison

Sophia Nahli Allison’s A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA righteous rebuttal to the injustice surrounding the shooting death of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins at a South Central Los Angeles store that became a flashpoint for the city’s 1992 civil uprising. As the Black community expressed its profound pain in the streets, Latasha’s friends and family privately mourned the loss of a vibrant child whose full story was never in the headlines. Three decades later, A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA removes Latasha from the context of her death and rebuilds an archive of a promising life lost. Oral history and memories from Latasha’s best friend and cousin converge in a dreamlike portrait that shows the impact one brief but brilliant life can have. Sophia Nahli Allison grew up in South Central Los Angeles and recalls experiencing the 1992 L.A. riots as a four year-old girl. Though Latasha’s death was a catalyst for the riots, Sophia wanted to make a film about Latasha’s life so she would be remembered beyond the trauma of a Black body, beyond a statistic, a newspaper headline, or an inaccurate Wikipedia page. Director, producer, cinematographer and editor Sophia Nahli Allison stops by to talk about how a Latasha’s legacy should not be judged in terms of longevity or her tragic end, but on the lasting impact that Latasha’s kindness, bravery and encouragement continues to have on people’s lives.

 

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For news and updates go to: alovesongforlatasha.com

Available on netflix.com/Latasha

2021 Oscar® nominee – Best Documentary Short 

The Latasha Harlins story continues… Earlier this year, a mural created by artist Victoria Cassinova and dedicated to the life and legacy of Latasha Harlins debuted on what would have been her 45th birthday. Located at the Algin Sutton Recreation Center in South LA, the mural stands at the front of the building where Latasha and her friends spent time throughout their childhood and teenage years. The art is based on a portrait of Latasha meant to represent her innocence and youth. The words to the left of her face are a poem Latasha wrote, it is also spoken in the film. The phrase “We Queens” is something Latasha often said to her friends to remind them of their power and importance. Latasha’s full name is a focal point. Watch a video of the mural’s creation that can be downloaded here.

The Latasha Harlins story continues… Earlier this year, a mural created by artist Victoria Cassinova and dedicated to the life and legacy of Latasha Harlins debuted on what would have been her 45th birthday. Located at the Algin Sutton Recreation Center in South LA, the mural stands at the front of the building where Latasha and her friends spent time throughout their childhood and teenage years. The art is based on a portrait of Latasha meant to represent her innocence and youth. The words to the left of her face are a poem Latasha wrote, it is also spoken in the film. The phrase “We Queens” is something Latasha often said to her friends to remind them of their power and importance. Latasha’s full name is a focal point. Watch a video of the mural’s creation that can be downloaded here.

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“Allison’s experimental style, lush palette, fast-paced editing and tender close-ups on Latasha’s cousins and friends, all now 40-something Black women like me, recreate the loss of Latasha’s innocence.” – The New York Times

“If you’ve seen anything of Latasha’s life, it’s likely the final seconds of her existence. Allison instead creates a brief, stirring portrait of the fifteen years that preceded them.” – Esquire 

“The 15-minute film gives new meaning to the notion of “short and sweet” and in it, Allison manages to paint a picture of a life not lived.  A Love Song for Latasha is a mesmerizing piece of work that takes an unconventional route to storytelling.” – The Grio

“This documentary is an invitation to rethink how Black life and death are documented in a society where the media glamorizes violence against Black bodies. This work is especially crucial during these a time when Black death is at the forefront of daily coverage, and it challenges us to remember the Black womxn, trans men, and non-binary folx we’ve lost and to reimagine the rich and nuanced lives they lived.” – Vice

Colette, Director Anthony Giacchino and Producer Alice Doyard

In this Oscar® nominated Best Documentary (Short ) we follow one of the last surviving members of the French Resistance, ninety-year-old Colette Marin-Catherine. As a young girl, she belonged to a family of Resistance fighters that included her 17-year-old brother Jean-Pierre. The last time Colette saw Jean-Pierre was in 1943, when he was arrested by the Gestapo and “disappeared” into the Nazi concentration camp system, never to be seen by his family again. The family was inwardly shattered, but outwardly stoic. No tears. Never permitted. For the past 74-years, Colette has never allowed herself to put one foot in Germany. But that’s all about to change when a young history student named Lucie enters her life. Lucie is researching the camp in Germany where Jean-Pierre died. Tracing the story of Jean-Pierre is, in fact, her special assignment.  The film follows Colette as she travels with Lucie to what remains of the forced labor camp near Nordhausen, Germany. It’s a journey of discovery on many levels, but the film’s greatest revelation is Colette herself, who at 90, is finally ready to let go of what she has, for over seven decades, held so tightly inside. Lucie’s youth and genuine concern has pierced the armor. The ultimate discovery of the film is Colette’s to make. That some wounds can only be healed if we allow them to be re-opened. Director Anthony Giacchino and Producer Alice Doyard join us to talk about the incredible strength of Colette Marin-Catherine and why her clear-eyed admonishment that we never forget the monstrous brutality of Nazi Germany as well as the importance of vigilance and resistance.

 

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For news and updates go to: colettedoc.com

Watch Colette at theguardian.com/world

Director’s Statement – “When I first met Colette in the fall of 2019, one of the first things she told me was: ‘When it’s your turn to live through a war, you’ll see you don’t have time to feel anything.’ It was quite an introduction. While making the film, I learned that only one percent of the French population had actively resisted the Nazi occupation before the Normandy Invasion and Colette — as a young girl — was one of those resisters.  She had so much to tell us about the war. I was particularly interested in her immediate family, as they all played their part in the Resistance. In fact, Colette’s 17-year-old brother, Jean-Pierre, was captured by the Gestapo and died a gruesome death in a German forced labor camp. Seven full decades beyond the events of Colette’s youth, the war’s aftermath remains as a dramatic, living thing to filmically explore. And the terrific reality is that war, at its core, is a universally human experience that stays inside all who go through it. And as Colette’s story demonstrates, healing is possible if we find the courage to face our darkest and most haunting memories.” – Anthony Giacchino

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“The bond between these two different, very strong, intelligent women renders this film staggeringly powerful whilst remaining simplicity itself. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.” – Emma Thompson

“A miniature masterpiece” – Ian Martin

“A moving character study” – POV Magazine

La Llorona – Director Jayro Bustamante

Ripped from the pages of Guatemala’s recent wrenching history, LA LLORONA follows the story of a fictional and indignant retired general, Enrique, as he is being forced to face his murderous past at his own trial for the genocidal massacre of thousands of Mayans decades ago. As a horde of angry protestors threatens to invade their opulent home, the women of the house – his haute wife, conflicted daughter, and precocious granddaughter – weigh their responsibility to shield the erratic, senile Enrique against the devastating truths behind being publicly revealed and the increasing sense that a wrathful supernatural force is targeting them for his crimes. Meanwhile, much of the family’s domestic staff flees, leaving only loyal housekeeper Valeriana until a mysterious young indigenous maid arrives. A tale of horror and magical realism, the film reimagines the iconic Latin American fable as an urgent metaphor of Guatemala’s recent history and tears open the country’s unhealed political wounds to grieve a seldom discussed crime against humanity. LA LLORONA marks Jayro Bustamante’s third feature and demonstrates his continued efforts to highlight social inequality in his native Guatemala with deft sensitivity and visual richness. The Silver Bear-winning director, writer, producer and editor, Jayro Bustamante (Temblores, Ixcanul) joins us to talk about his tale of horror and fantasy, ripe with suspense, and an urgent metaphor of Guatemalan recent history and its unhealed political wounds, 

 

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For news and updates go to: filmfactoryentertainment.com/la-llorona

LA LLORONA will make its U.S. theatrical premiere this Friday, March 5 as part of the programming at the IFC Center, which is reopening following one year of closures of New York City movie theaters. 

LA LLORONA is Guatemala’s Official Oscar® entry for Best International Feature Film, and one of the 15 films shortlisted being considered for the final five films in the running for the Academy Award.

2021 National Board of Review WINNER – Best Foreign Language Film
2021 Satellite Awards WINNER – Best Film, International
2021 Critics Choice Awards Nominee – Best Foreign Language Film

97% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Bustamante’s La Llorona is a bold assertion of the embedded prejudice against indigenous populations in his home country of Guatemala while also asserting that women and children in particular bore the brunt of the violence.” – Natalia Keogan, Paste Magazine

“Smart and elegant. The real horror lies not in the supernatural but in the savage acts of men.” – Carolina Miranda, Los Angeles Times

“Bustamante’s reimagining of the famous folkloric figure is a reminder that in the right hands, horror can be turned into something with almost indescribably enormous ideological potency.” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ Women on Film

“Bustamante’s latest travels into the dark recesses of the human condition to shine a brightly shimmering spotlight on vile evils that should never be locked away and forgotten.” Sara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com

“La Llorona is a beautifully conceived and constructed piece which cleverly utilises ghost story tropes, imagery and sound effects to enhance the impact of its real-life inspired revelations.” – Emma Simmonds, The List

Mr. Soul! – Director Melissa Haizlip

From 1968 to 1973, the public television variety show SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an unfiltered, uncompromising celebration of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics—voices that had few other options for national exposure, and, as a result, found the program an improbable place to call home.  The WNET-based series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement. With participants’ recollections and illuminating archival clips, Mr. SOUL! captures a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate, and an unsung hero whose voice we need now more than ever to restore the SOUL of a nation. Director / Producer / Writer and the niece of Ellis Haizlip, Melissa Haizlip joins us for a lively conversation on the joy and passion that her uncle brought to all of his artistic projects but none more than this resounding response to a constipated white culture that marginalized outside voices with a joyous ode to the astounding depth and breath of Black Culture.

 

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

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** Mr. Soul!’s Show Me Your Soul – 2021 Oscar® Shortlisted for the Best Song

About the filmmaker – Melissa Haizlip, Producer, Director, Writer is an award-winning filmmaker based in New York. Her work responds to pressing social issues at the intersection of racial justice, social justice, activism, and representation. Female transformation and empowerment are at the core of all of her ideas, with the goal being to advocate and amplify the voices of women and people of color. Melissa’s feature documentary, Mr. SOUL!, has been shortlisted for the Oscars, for Best Original Song. Mr. SOUL! has been nominated by the Guild of Music Supervisors for Best Music Supervision for a Documentary. Mr. SOUL! is also nominated for three NAACP Image Awards, including Outstanding Documentary (Film), Outstanding Writing in a Documentary (Television or Motion Picture), and Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture). Mr. SOUL! won the 2020 Critics Choice Documentary Award for Best First Documentary Feature. Melissa’s two-channel art films have been exhibited by the Hammer Museum Los Angeles Biennial, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Melissa has been awarded grants from the Ford Foundation JustFilms, National Endowment for the Humanities, International Documentary Association, National Endowment for the Arts, Black Public Media, Firelight Media, ITVS, Awesome Without Borders, and Puffin Foundation. Melissa went to Yale University. She’s currently co-executive producing a docu-series on women in hip-hop for Netflix.

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96% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Mr. Soul! is an effulgent and joyous celebration of the life-changing public broadcasting program. … Imagine for a moment what pop culture might be like without Questlove and you may have a small sense of what things would be like without SOUL!.” – Douglas Davidson, CLTure

“There’s a sense of overpowering love and gratitude for Haizlip that’s beautiful and wholly felt throughout Mr. Soul!’s runtime, and it’s as warm and comforting as the hot milk cake that Haizlip’s mom used to make for him.” – Jenny Nulf, Austin Chronicle

“Broad in scope and rapidly paced, the film can feel as if it’s bursting at the seams. But it acutely conveys the radical joy that “Soul!” inspired, barely contained in the movie’s running time.” – Devika Girish, New York Times

“Mr. SOUL brings the amazing individual that was Ellis Haizlip back into the forefront of his and our cultural history.” – Robert Daniels, 812filmreviews

“[Mr. Soul!] highlights black excellence and champions equality, tolerance and inclusion … that it manages to be funny, charming, and uplifting is icing on the cake.” – Victor Stiff, Goomba Stomp

“A rich and illuminating piece of cultural history.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter

The Truffle Hunters – Co-directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw

Deep in the forests of Piedmont, Italy, a handful of men, seventy or eighty years young, hunt for the rare and expensive white Alba truffle—which to date has resisted all of modern science’s efforts at cultivation. They’re guided by a secret culture and training passed down through generations, as well as by the noses of their cherished and expertly-trained dogs. Co-directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw (The Last Race) seamlessly navigates viewers through an enigmatic world where the denizens live a simpler, slower way of life, in harmony with their loyal animals and their picture-perfect land, seemingly straight out of a fairy tale. They’re untethered to cell phone screens or the Internet, opting instead to make their  food and drink by hand and prioritizing in-person connections and community. The demand for white truffles increases year after year, even as the supply decreases. As a result of climate change, deforestation, and the lack of young people taking up the mantle, the truffle hunters’ secrets are more coveted than ever. However, as it soon becomes clear, these aging men may just hold something much more valuable than even this prized delicacy: the secret to a rich and meaningful life. Co-directors Michael Dweck and Gregory Kershaw (The Last Race) join us to talk about their immersion into a very closed, arcane multi-tiered society that dates back hundreds of years and the impact that modernity and climate disruption is having on this enchanting corner of the world.

 

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For news, updates and screenings go to: sonyclassics.com/thetrufflehunters

About the filmmakers – Michael Dweck is an award-winning American filmmaker and contemporary visual artist. Best recognized for his evocative narrative photography, Dweck artistically investigates the on-going struggles between identity and adaptation found within endangered societal enclaves. Dweck’s works have been featured in solo and group exhibitions at museums and galleries worldwide, and are part of prestigious international art collections, including the archive of the Department of Film at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, where two of his long-form television pieces reside.In his first feature-length film, “The Last Race” (Sundance US Documentary Competition 2018), Dweck extended his exploratory repertoire by combining observational documentary, stylized imagery, and a symphonic merging of motion and sound. Experimenting with both form and subject matter, Dweck highlights the mysterious beauty and exuberant passion shared by the last custodians of a disappearing tradition. Aside from creating an artistic appraisal of class and American identity, Dweck’s film allegorizes the broader, global epidemic wherein handmade objects and ritualistic traditions face extinction at the hands of mass conglomerate takeover. For more go to: michaeldweck.co

About the filmmaker – Gregory Kershaw has worked on narrative and documentary film productions as a producer, cinematographer, and director. Most recently, he was a senior producer at Fusion television where he made environmental documentaries. His work explored the impact of climate change on indigenous populations throughout Latin America in a series of United Nations Foundation funded videos, as well as long form documentaries on the global species extinction crisis featuring environmental luminaries such as Jane Goodall and Sylvia Earle. Gregory is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA film program.

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A scrumptious cinematic journey. Try not to fall hard for the joy it spreads.” – Tomris Laffly, VARIETY

“Gorgeous. Unique. Delightful. Visual Poetry. A fascinating glimpse inside a world of arcane knowledge and the luxury market that feeds off it. A constant feast for the eyes and a nourishment for the soul, giving the illusion of a journey back in time to a pre-technology age of simpler pleasures.” – David Rooney, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“An eccentric world that you have never heard of, never seen…” – Kenneth Turan, LOS ANGELES TIMES

“It’s a sweet and simple movie with a healthy dose of bittersweet wistfulness for a fading world, and it’s beautiful.” – Alissa Wilkinson,Vox

“This is a sensuous plunge into a world that’s built on simple pleasures.” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film

The Speed Cubers – Director Sue Kim

Shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Documentary Film – Short Form, THE SPEED CUBERS drops us into the frenetic world of Speed Cubing. Cubing is the competitive sport of solving a Rubik’s Cube in mere seconds that has grown into a worldwide phenomenon in recent years. For nearly a decade in the sport, Feliks Zemdegs from Australia, has reigned unchallenged as the king of cubers, the greatest of all time. That is, until now. The cubing world was stunned when an unknown challenger named Max Park from California took home the Gold medal in 2017 and emerged onto the global stage. Since then, Max’s rise to the top has been swift and steady, save for one obstacle in his way: Feliks. The two have been trading wins and world records steadily, neither one able to truly dominate while the other still competes. But rather than developing into a bitter rivalry, Feliks and Max have instead grown their competitive relationship into a tender yet complicated friendship. THE SPEED CUBERS finds Max and Feliks on the threshold of another World Championship, both driven to win but both rooting for each other’s success. Director Sue Kim stops by to talk about her high-energy, and warm-hearted look into the feverishly competitive but refreshingly idyllic world of Speed Cubers.

 

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For news and updates go to: netflix.com/thespeedcubers
or
Watch Speed Cubers at vid.see-movie.com/The Speed Cubers

The Speed Cubers has been Shortlisted for 2021 Oscar® –  Best Documentary – Short Form

Kapaemahu – Co-directors Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hammer and Joe Wilson

Long ago, four extraordinary beings of dual male and female spirit brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii and imbued their powers in four giant boulders. The stones still stand on Waikiki Beach, but the true story behind them has been hidden – until now. Shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Animated Film – Short Form, KAPAEMAHU brings this powerful legend back to life in vivid animation, seen through the eyes of a curious child.  Co-directors, and co-producers Joe Wilson, (Out in the Silence) Dean Hamer (The Science of Desire, The God Gene) and Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu (Leitis in Waiting, Lady Eva) joins us for a conversation on the ways in which indigenous cultures of the Pacific Islands have embraced third-gender (mahu) identities and celebrate the ability and spirit of male and female strengths, as well as the decision to tell the story of Kapaemahu in an animated story format.

For news and updates go to: kapaemahu.com

Kapaemahu has been shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Animated Film – Short Form

Director’s Statement – I am Kanaka — a native person descended from the original inhabitants of the islands of Hawaii.  Our survival as indigenous people depends on our ability to know and practice our cultural traditions, to speak and understand our language, and to feel an authentic connection to our own history. That is why I wanted to make a film about Kapaemahu, and to write and narrate it in Olelo Niihau – the only form of Hawaiian that has been continuously spoken since prior to the arrival of foreigners. It is not enough to study our language in an American classroom, nor to read about our history in an English language textbook. We need to be active participants in telling our own stories in our own way. I am also mahu, which like many indigenous third-gender identities was once respected but is now more often a target for hatred and discrimination. I want our young people to understand that the ability to embrace both the male and female aspects of their spirit is not a weakness but a strength, a reason to rejoice not to fear.  Whether it is protecting Mauna Kea or Kapaemahu, I shall always believe in what historian S. M. Kamakau articulated in 1865 : He makemake ko’u e pololei ka moolelo o ko’u one hanau, aole na ka malihimi e ao ia’u I ka moolelo o ko’u lahui, na’u e ao aku I ka moolelo I ka malihini.  (“I want the history of my homeland to be correct. The foreigner shall not teach me the history of my people, I will teach the foreigner.”) ~ Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu

About the filmmaker – Director, Producer Dean Hamer is a New York Times Book of the Year author, Emmy and GLAAD Media award-winning filmmaker, and National Institutes of Health scientist emeritus with a long history in communicating complex and controversial ideas to diverse publics.  He formed Kanaka Pakipika with partner Joe Wilson and documentary film protagonist Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu to collaborate on an insightful series of films that have opened the eyes of the worlds to the lessons to be learned from Polynesia’s unique approach to diversity and inclusion.  He is currently working on a book and museum exhibition based on Kapaemahu.  Hamer is  the author of several best-selling nonfiction books including “The Science of Desire” and “The God Gene,” has been a consultant for the BBC and Discovery channels, and his research has been featured in Time, Newsweek, and Science magazines and on Frontline and Oprah.

About the filmmaker – Director, ProducerJoe Wilson is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker dedicated to telling stories that emanate from the voices of those on the outside.   His feature and short films combine live action with animation to explore pressing social issues through innovative storytelling.  Wilson’s work has screened and won awards at festivals around the world including Berlin, Toronto and Tribeca, been viewed by millions of viewers on PBS, ARTE and other international broadcasts, and has been supported by Sundance, Ford and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Wilson’s 2010 film Out in the Silence focused on the challenges of LGBT people in rural and small town America and became the centerpiece of a multi-year national campaign to open dialogue and build bridges across socio-political divides. Shortly after, he and partner Dean Hamer began their now decade-long collaboration with Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, first documenting her story in the PBS Independent Lens Audience Award-winner Kumu Hina, then with Hina joining as producer on a series of films about gender diversity in the Pacific, including Leitis in Waiting, Lady Eva, and The RogersKapaemahu is Wilson’s fifth film in collaboration with Hina. Prior to filmmaking, he served as Director of Human Rights at the Public Welfare Foundation and Producer of Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now.

About the filmmaker – Director, Producer, Narrator Hinaleimoana Wong-Kaluis a Native Hawaiian teacher, cultural practitioner and filmmaker who uses digital media to protect and perpetuate indigenous languages and traditions. She began her film work as a protagonist and educational advisor for the award winning films Kumu Hina and A Place in the Middle, and received a National Education Association Human Rights Award, Native Hawaiian Educator of the year and White House Champion of Change Award for the groundbreaking impact campaigns associated with those films. Continuing her journey to the other side of the lens, Kumu Hina produced the PBS/ARTE feature documentary Leitis in Waiting and award-winning short Lady Eva about her transgender sisters in the Kingdom of Tonga. Hina is also a transgender health advocate, burial council chair, candidate for the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and composer of “Ku Haaheo E Kuu Hawaii,” the internationally-known anthem for the protection of Mauna Kea which was honored as Hawaiian Song of the Year in the 2020 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, known as the Hawaiian Grammys.

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Little Fish – Director Chad Hartigan

LITTLE FISH, the fourth feature film from director Chad Hartigan, is a romance set in a near-future Seattle teetering on the brink of calamity. The film imagines a world where a pandemic has broken out, that strikes with no rhyme or reason, and causes its victims to lose their memories. This is the world that newlyweds Emma and Jude find themselves in, not long after meeting and falling in love. When Jude contracts the disease, the young couple will do anything to hold onto the memory of their love.  Starring Olivia Cooke (Sound of Metal, Thoroughbreds) as Emma, Jack O’Connell (’71, Starred Up) as Jude, Soko and Raul Castillo, LITTLE FISH, opens in the midst of a global epidemic: Neuroinflammatory Affliction, a severe and rapid Alzheimer’s-like condition in which people’s memories disappear. Couple Jude Williams and Emma Ryerson are grappling with the realities of NIA, interspersed with glimpses from the past as the two meet and their relationship blooms. But as NIA’s grip on society tightens, blurring the lines between the past and the present, it becomes more and more difficult to know what’s true and what’s false. Director Chad Hartigan (Morris From America, This is Martin Bonner) joins us for a conversation on the making of his  subversively sly sci-fi / love story and how the on-screen artistry of the two lead actors helped shape this prescient tale of love in an age of isolation and mistrust.

 

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For news and updates go to: littlefish.movie

About the filmmaker – Writer/director Chad Hartigan is best known for his award-winning feature films THIS IS MARTIN BONNER and MORRIS FROM AMERICA. Hartigan won the John Cassavetes Award at the 2014 Independent Spirit Awards, as well as the “Best of NEXT” Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, for THIS IS MARTIN BONNER. Hartigan won the Waldo Scott Screenwriter Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival for his film MORRIS FROM AMERICA. LITTLE FISH marks the third collaboration between childhood friends Hartigan, composer Keegan Dewitt (HEARTS BEAT LOUD) and cinematographer Sean McElwee (THE INCREDIBLE JESSICA JAMES). Based on Aja Gabel’s short story, the film is written by up and coming screenwriter Mattson Tomlin who co-wrote the latest Batman film, THE BATMAN, and wrote the Netflix hit PROJECT POWER.

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“In the midst of a flurry of pandemic-themed media coming out which tries to reflect the [present] situation, LITTLE FISH manages to distinguish itself from the crowd with its brilliant leads and emotional resonance.” – Oluwatayo Adewole, The Spool

“The result is better than smart, it’s stirring. With the NIA pandemic as a pretext, the essential subject becomes memory — its fragility, its wondrousness, its centrality to our existence as sentient beings.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

“Hartigan’s moody evocation of Emma and Jack’s love – and the way in which it, like so much else, is predicated on knowledge of the past – casts a moving spell.” – Nick Schager, Variety

“Chad Hartigan’s Little Fish drips with equal doses of beauty and poignancy – an affecting dive into love and memory, and how it defines who we are.” – Natasha Alvar, Cultured Vultures

Night of the Kings – Director Philippe Lacôte

In the 2021 OSCAR® Shortlisted for Best International Feature Film, NIGHT OF THE KINGS a young man is sent to LA MACA, a prison in the middle of the Ivorian forest ruled by its inmates. As tradition goes with the rising of the red moon, he is designated by the Boss to be the new “Roman” and must tell a story to the other prisoners. Learning what fate awaits him, he begins to narrate the mystical life of the legendary outlaw named Zama King and has no choice but to make his story last until dawn. Director Philippe Lacôte (Chronicles of War in the Ivory Coast, Run) joins us to talk about his searingly dramatic film that feels like part documentary, part narrative as it tracks a story of survival, deception, mythology and the power of storytelling.

 

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For news and updates go to: neonrated.com/films/night-of-the-kings

IN SELECT THEATERS AND VIRTUAL CINEMAS
LAEMMLE VIRTUAL CINEMA in Los Angeles Area

 

About the filmmaker – Writer and Director Philippe Lacote grew up in Abidjan near a movie theater – the “Magic”. His work as a director has taken on several forms, before focusing in 2002 on the recent history of his country with CHRONICLES OF WAR IN THE IVORY COAST, a film on the edge between a documentary and a diary. It is followed by the feature film RUN, the story of a wandering madman, selected in Cannes Un Certain Regard 2014. This selection confirmed his talent as a filmmaker and revealed a new voice from the African continent. NIGHT OF THE KINGS (original title “La Nuit Des Rois”), his second feature, is a dive into the largest prison in West Africa, during a night of red moon.

Nominee – Best International Feature Films – Film Independent Spirit Awards 2021
Nominee – Outstanding International Motion Picture – NAACP Image Awards 2021
One of the Top Five Best International Feature Films – NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW
Winner – Amplify Voices Award – Toronto International Film Festival 2020

96% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A power struggle and a ritual practiced by the collective within a microcosm of society housed under the oppression of the state, and a powerful demonstration of the transporting, and liberating, power of narrative.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

“An assured, energetic piece of epic filmmaking, one that celebrates how storytelling, oration, and folklore teach us about our past so we might change our present.” – Robert Daniels RogerEbert.com

“Philippe Lacôte’s restless film – a rare United States release from Ivory Coast – braids together its struggles for survival to suggest an entire country fighting to emerge.” – Nicolas Rapold, New York Times

“This captivating hybrid of a movie mixes fairy-tale and storytelling elements with a vividly drawn backdrop of heightened realism… and relies on images and sounds as much as the human voice to tell its multiple stories.” – Boyd van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter

Hunger Ward – Director Skye Fitzgerald

Filmed from inside two of the most active therapeutic feeding centers in Yemen, HUNGER WARD documents two female health care workers fighting to thwart the spread of starvation against the backdrop of a forgotten war. HUNGER WARD provides an unflinching portrait of Dr. Aida Al Sadeeq and Nurse Mekkia Mahdi as they try to save the lives of hunger-stricken children within a population on the brink of famine. HUNGER WARD is the third installment of Director Skye Fitzgerald’s Humanitarian Trilogy, focused on the global refugee crisis. The first film, 50 FEET FROM SYRIA focused on doctors working on the Syrian border and was Oscar® shortlisted. The second, LIFEBOAT documents search and rescue operations off the coast of Libya and was nominated for an Academy Award® and national Emmy®. Director Skye Fitzgerald (Lifeboat, 50 Feet from Syria, Finding Face) joins us for a conversation on the making of his 2021 Oscar® Shortlisted Hunger Ward documentary, how little American mass media has talked about the ongoing genocidal war against a defenseless civilian population – done with diplomatic,  political backing by the Trump Administration, as well as, intelligence and logistical support from the US military – and what we can do to stop it.

 

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For news and updates go to: hungerward.org

2021 Oscar® shortlist – Best Documentary (Short form)

About the filmmaker – Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Documentary Branch). Oscar/Emmy/IDA-Nominated Director Skye Fitzgerald is directing The Humanitarian Trilogy: HUNGER WARD (2020) documents the impact of the war and famine in Yemen on children, families, and health care workers. LIFEBOAT (2018) highlights search and rescue operations off the coast of Libya and was nominated for an Academy Award® and national Emmy® award. 50 FEET FROM SYRIA (2015) focuses on doctors working on the Syrian border and was voted onto the Oscar® shortlist. Fitzgerald was also inducted as an honorary member into SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society) for his work with Syrian refugees and named a Distinguished Alumnus at his alma mater EOU for documentary work. As a Fulbright Research Scholar Fitzgerald directed the film Bombhunters and has since worked with the Sundance Institute, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the State Department, the Paul Robeson Fund and Mountainfilm. As a Director of Photography, Fitzgerald lenses work for major clients including Dateline, VICE, Mercy Corps, CNN, the Discovery, Travel, History and Animal Planet Channels. For more on Skye Fitzgerald go to: spinfilm.org

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Critical reactions to Skye Fitzgerald’s work:

“…a rare look inside the human impact of the war in Yemen” – Jane Ferguson – PBS NewsHour

“Once you see it, you won’t forget it.” – Sarah Larson – THE NEW YORKER 

“Fitzgerald has sought to harness this art-form to draw attention those who are struggling to obtain their most basic, fundamental human freedoms. LIFEBOAT…is vitally important.” – US HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION 

“…deftly addresses the most critical humanitarian issue of our time and those who are doing something about it.” – Michael Brody – Programmer Crested Butte FF  

“…visually brutal…a harrowing package.”  – VARIETY  

Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa – Co-directors Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Mike Attie

At the Philadelphia abortion helpline, counselors arrive each morning to the nonstop ring of calls from women and teens who are seeking to end a pregnancy but can’t afford to. In this short documentary we learn how economic stigma and cruel legislation determines who in America has access to abortion. Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa gives voice to women and teens affected by discriminatory policies like the Hyde Amendment. At the abortion helpline in Philadelphia, phone counselors—all called Lisa—arrive each morning to the nonstop ring of calls from people who are seeking to end a pregnancy . . . and can’t afford to. Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa shares the stories of the callers for whom getting through to the helpline in time can literally be life-changing—for them and their families. Co-directors Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Mike Attie join us for a conversation on the continuing assault on the Constitutionally guaranteed right of women to seek and receive access to safe and legally appropriate health services and how important these privately funded community helplines are to women and their families.

 

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For news and updates go to: abortionhelplinedoc.com

To watch the film go to: vimeo.com/staffpicks

Oscar Shortlisted 2021 Best Documentary (Short Program)

WINNER – Grand Jury Prize, Shorts – AFI DOCS 2020
NOMINEE – Best Short – IDA Awards 2020
SHORTLIST – Shorts – Cinema Eye Honors 2020
FINALIST – ShortList Film Festival 2020

 

The Hyde Amendment – What is the Hyde Amendment and why has its repeal become a litmus test for progressive politicians? In 1976, only three years after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, the Hyde Amendment was enacted with the explicit intention of denying poor individuals—those receiving Medicaid—access to abortion. To learn more about the Hyde Amendment read this or watch this short video.

A Glitch in the Matrix – Director Rodney Ascher

A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX ask the question, what if we are living in a simulation, and the world as we know it is not real? To tackle this mind-bending idea, acclaimed filmmaker Rodney Ascher (ROOM 237, THE NIGHTMARE) uses a noted speech from Philip K. Dick to dive down the rabbit hole of science, philosophy, and conspiracy theory. Leaving no stone unturned in exploring the unprovable, the film uses contemporary cultural touchstones like THE MATRIX, interviews with real people shrouded in digital avatars, and a wide array of voices, expert and amateur alike. If simulation theory is not science fiction but fact, and life is a video game being played by some unknowable entity, then who are we, really? A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX attempts to find out. The film introduces us to a handful of real-world testifiers who are certain that their bodies and minds are being operated by some external game-player. Ascher, as ever an inviting, curious questioner (never one who mocks), brings a wealth of cultural and intellectual context to his latest exploration, from the videotaped musings of paranoid sci-fi giant Philip K. Dick to clips of Keanu Reeves in The Matrix and a host of bespoke animated re-creations that give eerie credence to the most outré of notions. Director Rodney Ascher joins us to talk about his paranoia-inducing, exhilarating and definitive introduction to a subject that, subscribe to it or not, involves us all.

 

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For news and updates go to: aglitchinthematrixfilm.com

About the filmmaker – RODNEY ASCHER (Director, Editor, and Executive Producer) RODNEY ASCHER is a filmmaker known for creating documentaries that explore the subjective experience, freely appropriating the vocabularies of genre, experimental, and found-footage films along the way. His first feature, 2012’s ROOM 237 looked at The Shining through the eyes of five very different people. He visualized their wildly different interpretations of Kubrick’s classic by juxtaposing excerpts of the film with everything from Murnau’s Faust to the cover of the January 1978 issue of Playgirl magazine creating a trip down the rabbit hole. His follow up, THE NIGHTMARE was called “The Scariest Movie of the decade.” Creatively, the film completely changed tactics from Room 237’s archival-driven montage. To visualize real people’s seemingly supernatural experiences during bouts of ‘sleep paralysis’ his team filmed interviews at night in the subjects’ own bedrooms and created stylized re-enactments inspired by the interviewees’ drawings and his own personal memories of a visitation by a ‘shadowman.’ Like Room 237, it premiered at Sundance before traveling around the world including an Imax screening in Moscow. A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX is his most ambitious film yet, using multiple styles of 3D animation to illustrate the experiences and philosophies of people who suspect the world itself is not quite real.

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“A Glitch in the Matrix becomes not about whether we’re living in a simulation but about the many understandable reasons someone may think this. In effect, it winds up being about the mysteries of the human experience.” – Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture

“’A Glitch in the Matrix’ goes for the head by way of the heart, or maybe vice versa. Superb and startling, breathtaking and compassionate.” – Bill Arceneaux, Of Those Who

“A compellingly out-there look at the possibility that we’re all avatars in a game we can’t comprehend.” – Nick Schager, The Daily Beast

“Ascher’s appropriately discombobulating stew of queasiness, comedy, and terror seems well-cued to the subject matter, even while missing a certain editorial sharpness that might have brought some of its notions into greater clarity.” – Chris Barsanti, The Playlist

“While Ascher casts a wide net, “A Glitch in the Matrix” works quite well as an overview of the various epistemological questions it raises.” – Eric Kohn, indieWire

Dear Comrades! – Director Andrei Konchalovsky and Lead Actor Julia Vysotskaya

DEAR COMRADES! is based on a true story surrounding a strike by factory workers on June 1st and 2nd, 1962 in the city of Novocherkassk. The raising of food prices and the lowering of wages at the local factory led to a spontaneous uprising by thousands of area residents that eventually leading to violent reaction by local and federal officials. The events of those two days was kept secret until the nineties. DEAR COMRADES! focuses on the life and family of Lyudmila (Julia Vysotskaya) is a Party executive and devout communist who had fought in WWII for Stalin’s ideology. Certain that her work will create a communist society, the woman detests any anti-Soviet sentiment. During a strike at the local electromotive factory, Lyudmila witnesses a laborers’ piquet gunned down under orders from the government that seeks to cover up mass labor strikes in USSR. After the bloodbath, when survivors flee from the square, Lyudmila realizes her daughter has disappeared. A gaping rift opens in her worldview. Despite the blockade of the city, mass arrests, and the authorities’ attempts to cover up the massacre, Lyudmila searches for her daughter. We don’t know how the search will end, but realize that the woman’s life won’t ever be the same. Director Andrei Konchalovsky (Uncle Vanya, Siberiade, Runaway Train, The Inner Circle) and lead actor Julia Vysotskaya join us for a conversation on the importance of telling an unknown story, the role of art and storytelling and how Lyuda’s saga reflexes a broader perspective on Soviet-era repression.

 

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For news and updates go to: neonrated.com/films/dear-comrades

Russia’s official submission to the 2021 Academy Awards® for Best International Film

Director’s Statement – The process of making films about the 1960s is increasingly becoming the process of restoring the historical authenticity of the era, a fairly difficult task all in itself. Recently we’ve been seeing plenty of films where the 60s-70s-80s of the 20th century look fake and contrived, without any resemblance to the Soviet films made at the time, like “The Great Cranes Are Flying” or “Ballad of a Soldier”. So, my goal was to scrupulously and in great detail reproduce the era of the USSR’s 1960s. I think that the Soviet people of post-war time, the ones who fought in the WWII until victory, deserve to have a movie that pays tribute to their purity and the tragic dissonance that followed the realization of how different the communist ideals were from the reality around them. – Andrei Konchalovsky

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“KONCHALOVSKY’S MASTERPIECE. The artistry is calm, controlled, persuasively detailed… Catch it if you can. Beautiful and damning, DEAR COMRADES! is also an act of remembrance.” – Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

“A scintillating, surgical exposé of Khrushchev-era oppression… A 1962 massacre in the Soviet Union is reclaimed from its historical cover-up by Andrei Konchalovsky’s pristine, extraordinary drama… Perversely beautiful and coldly furious… meticulous and majestic, epic in scope and tattoo-needle intimate in effect.” – Jessica Kiang,  Variety

“Now in his 80s, Andrei Konchalovsky, the veteran Russian director… has made one of his most Russian, and most accomplished, latter-day films… Carried off with evocative precision and a cannily underplayed emotional tug. The drama keeps a well-calibrated balance between political horror, the matter-of-fact texture of everyday life, and the rhetoric that keeps the Soviet machinery oiled – and that Lyuda is struggling to see through. The film’s magnetic centre is a strong performance from Vysotskaya, working from a base line of initial testiness to rising anxiety and terror in face of the oppression that she realizes she has been enabling.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily

“Although at first sight this dramatization of a 1962 strike at a factory in the U.S.S.R. may seem a long way from the interests of contemporary audiences, it is surprising how much resonance the film has with the political struggles of our own time. much credit due to Julia Vysotskaya and her uncommonly gripping perf in the main role.” – Deborah Young, – The Hollywood Reporter

Two of Us – Director Filippo Meneghetti

Pensioners Nina (Barbara Sukowa) and Madeleine (Martine Chevallier) have hidden their deep and passionate love for many decades. From the point of view of those surrounding them, including Madeleine’s meddling daughter (Léa Drucker), they are simply two neighbors sharing a hallway during their sunset years. In reality, this landing is a bridge between two worlds: one belonging to a widowed, doting grandmother, the other to a free-spirited woman who longs to spend her life with the person she loves. Clandestinely, Nina and Madeleine share a tender life, moving freely between their apartments until an unexpected event closes the portal. But their secret cannot remain hidden if they are to stay together – and their unconditional love is put to the test. Director Filippo Meneghetti joins us for a conversation on this beautifully rendered film that’s a loving tribute to passion, fidelity and a fierce determination to hold on to the people who matter most. 

 

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For news and updates go to: twoofusfilm.com

Watch the film at : twoofusfilm.com/watch-at-home

** France’s entry for 2021 Best International Film – Academy Awards

About the filmmaker – Director, screenwriter Filippo Meneghetti – Originally from Padova, Italy, Filippo’s earliest work experience was on New York’s indie film circuit. After film school and an Anthropology degree in Rome, he co-wrote the feature Imago Mortis (2009). He worked as a first assistant for several years before starting to direct his own short films, Undici (2011, codirected by Piero Tomaselli) and L’intruso (2012), which screened and garnered prizes at festivals in Italy and abroad. In 2018, Filippo moved to France where he made his next short, The Beast, which screened in competition at SXSW 2019 and can now be seen at international festivals. Two Of Us is Filippo’s first feature. 

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“The film’s brevity means some ideas are under-developed. But what we’re left with is a sublime and sublimely simple portrait of a love that’s been lived in and the devotion it will take to ensure that endures.” – Roger Moore Movie Nation

“Two of Us is absolutely beautiful … and [it’s] refreshing to see two older women as sexual beings in all their yearning.” – Sara Clements, AwardsWatch

“This is a smart movie that starts from a relatively simple yet captivating premise and then steadily gains in complexity as it develops.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

“Perhaps most importantly, what Two of Us captures is something which so much of mainstream media would rather ignore: the desire, passion and sexuality of people above a certain age.” – Becky Kukla, Film Inquiry

Preparations to Be Together For an Unknown Period of Time – Director Lili Horvát

Lili Horvát’s PREPARATIONS TO BE TOGETHER FOR AN UNKNOWN PERIOD OF TIME is a mesmerizing psychological romance about a woman who upends her whole life to return to her home city of Budapest for a romantic rendezvous with a fellow surgeon, who then claims the two have never met. Márta Vizy (Natasa Stork) is a 39-year-old Hungarian neurosurgeon. After 20 years in the United States, she returns to Budapest for a romantic rendezvous at the Liberty Bridge with János (Viktor Bodó), a fellow doctor she met at a conference in New Jersey. Márta waits in vain, while the love of her life is nowhere to be seen. When she finally tracks him down, the bewildered man claims the two have never met. It’s unclear whether Márta’s wits are clouded by love or if other neurological factors are at play. Determined to solve the enigma, she takes a position at a hospital where she is treated as an outsider and must endure real and perceived slights, while also navigating a no man’s land separating love from madness. For her second feature, following 2015’s The Wednesday Child, writer-director Lili Horvát spins a delicate web of contrasts and silent explosions that shift the viewer’s understanding. Shot with impeccable symmetry on entrancing 35mm, it is an Orphic tale reminding us that, while the heart is an abstruse trickster, the human brain — ruling us with over 80 billion interconnected neurons — is our most complex organ. Director Lili Horvát joins us for a conversation on her Hitchcockian tale of a woman who’s certainty drives this compelling cinematic “love” story.

 

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

To watch go to: preparationsmovie.com/tickets

Independent Spirit Award – Nomination for Best International Film

** Hungry’s Official submission for for 2021 Academy Award – Best International Feature Film **

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89% on Rotten Tomatoes

“ A beautiful and acute rendering of what could be if some of the most implausible lies we tell ourselves were in fact true.” – Carlos Aguilar, RogerEbert.com

“Preparations” manifests its protagonist’s uncertainty through fluttering reflections and slinky shadows, and images that conceal and obscure the full picture.” – Beatrice Loayza, New York Times

“Lili Horvát’s film delights in wallowing in ambiguity, contradiction, and doubt.” – Diego Semerene, Slant Magazine

“What sets this film apart is its fusing of the impassioned and the grimly palpable.” – Anthony Lane, New Yorker

“ [A] state of existential crisis, one that director Lili Horvat teases with curiosity and ambiguity, as if Krzysztof Kieslowski were alive and well and making movies in Budapest.” – Barry Hertz, Globe and Mail

Beginning – Director Dea Kulumbegashvili

In her critically acclaimed debut feature film, BEGINNING, Georgian filmmaker director Dea Kulumbegashvili’s debut feature film zeroes in on Yana, a despondent woman wrestling with her crippling emotional isolation within a small community of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The setting for this harrowing story is a sleepy provincial village outside of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, a predominately Orthodox Christian country. Her husband, David, is the spiritual leader of the Witness community that has recently been terrorized by the fire bombing of their makeshift church by an extremist group. In the midst of this conflict, the familiar world of Yana slowly begins to unravel. Yana’s inner discontent grows as she struggles to deal with a sexual assault, an emotionally abusive husband and her own desires for a livable future. BEGINNING is Georgia’s entry for the Best Foreign Film for this year’s Academy Awards. Co-writer (Rati Oneli) and director Dea Kulumbegashvili joins us for a conversation on collaboration with Cinematographer Arseni Khachaturan, finding the right timbre for telling the story of Yana and locking in a spectacular performance by Yana’s Ia Sukhitashvili.

 

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Fro news and screenings go to: mubi.com/films/beginning-2020

About the filmmaker – Dea Kulumbegashvili’s filmmaking has been informed by her experience of growing up in a place with such a mix of ethnicities and nationalities. Dea was born in Oriol, Russia and raised in a small town called Lagodekhi at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia, a former Soviet Union republic. In 2016, she became the first Georgian director to have a film accepted in Cannes — her stunning minimalist short Invisible Spaces. In 2020, her feature debut BEGINNING became the first Georgian film to win the Golden Shell for best film as well as picked up the best director, best actress and best screenplay honors. If BEGINNING is nominated for the best international feature award at the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021, it will be another first for Dea, as well as a first for Georgia. 

** Georgia official submission for Best International Feature Film – 2021 Academy Awards
 
OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2020 New York Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2020 Cannes Film Festival
WINNER – FIPRESCI PRIZE – 2020 Toronto International Film Festival
WINNER – 4 MAJOR PRIZES at the 2020 San Sebastian Film Festival including the GOLDEN SHELL FOR BEST FILM, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST ACTRESS, BEST SCREENPLAY

95% on Rotten Tomatoes 

“The director’s compositions, way of holding us at a sometimes paralysing remove before bringing us painfully close, and brilliant use of off-screen space mark her out as someone to watch very closely, hopefully for years to come.” – Emma Simmonds, The List

“[T]here is an intensely ritualistic quality to “Beginning,” a remarkable – and remarkably bleak – debut feature… that unfolds with spare, mock-ceremonial deliberation, pausing every so often for an exquisite twist of the knife.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“A breathtaking scourge of a film.” – Nicholas Bell, IONCINEMA.com

“The film is composed of just a handful of medium static shots. Kulumbegashvili never overplays her hand, she continuously shifts the mood of her film – it can go from meditative to angry to downright provocative in the span of a few scenes.” – Jordan Ruimy, World of Reel

“The boxy frame of the camera turns into a trap in “Beginning,” the masterful debut feature by the Georgian filmmaker Dea Kulumbegashvili.” – Devika Girish, New York Times