The Witches of the Orient – Director Julian Faraut

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

 

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

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

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

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92% on Rotten Tomatoes

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

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

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

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

The Penny Black – Director Joe Saunders & Producer Alex Greer

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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For news and updates go to:kennyscharfmovie.com

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

 

The Painter and The Thief – Director Benjamin Ree

Director Benjamin Ree’s latest documentary, THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF,  tracks the journey of young Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova after relocating from Berlin to Oslo to launch her career as a painter. In April of 2015, her two most valuable, large-format paintings are stolen – with care – in broad daylight from the window fronts of Galleri Nobel in Oslo’s city center. Desperate for answers about the theft of her paintings, Barbora is presented with an unusual opportunity to reach out to one of the men involved in the heist – Norwegian career criminal, Karl-‘Bertil’ Nordland. Ree begins to document the story after Barbora unbelievably invites her thief to sit for a portrait, capturing the unlikely relationship that ensues as the equally damaged duo find common ground and form an inseparable bond through their mutual affinity for art. Over three years, THE PAINTER AND THE THIEF follows the incredible story of the artist looking for her stolen paintings, while at the same time turning the thief into art. Director Benjamin Ree (Magnus) joins us for a lively conversation about gaining the confidence of these two very complex people and why it was important for him to craft a story where Barbara and Karl resilience and humanity shone through.

To watch go to: neonrated.com/the-painter-and-the-thief

2020 Sundance Film Festival: Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Creative Storytelling

Director’s statement – “From the moment I began filming I wanted to explore the complex friendship between the painter and the thief. Two questions were the driving motor: What do we humans do to be seen and appreciated, and why do we help others? For me, filmmaking is about asking intellectually stimulating and emotionally engaging questions through observing human behavior. I hope I have managed to raise some intriguing questions with this film, questions you will think about long after the end credits. I have also tried to push the cinema verite form onto a new path, with several perspectives jumping back and forth in time, revealing new layers of the friendship throughout the whole film. I have worked hard to find a cinematic form to suit the content for each scene, that reflects the inner state of the characters.” – Benjamin Ree

About the filmmaker – Benjamin Ree is a Norwegian documentary filmmaker. In the beginning of his career he worked for BBC and Reuters. Today he makes award winning short and feature documentary films. Ree’s first feature documentary is Magnus, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2016, and was sold to 64 countries. The film is a coming of age story of a modern genius, Magnus Carlsen, who is the world’s best chess player. The film won many awards at festivals around the world. Ree’s second feature is The Painter and the Thief, premiered at World Documentary Competition at Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and won a Special Jury Award for Creative Storytelling. Benjamin Ree works for the production company and broadcaster VGTV, which co-produced Magnus and The Painter and the Thief. For more on the filmmaker go to benjaminree.com

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96% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Benjamin Ree’s extraordinary documentary feels like a movie – there’s a heist, villains who are not what they seem, scenes of striking intimacy and some fabulous twists.” – Ed Potton, Observer (UK)

“It ends up being about friendship, addiction, and the power of art — but also the cost of art. Throughout it all, the spine of this movie is the rich, layered, and complicated friendship between these two people.” Angie Han, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

“[A] strange, delicately made film, which manages to defy expectations about both of its subjects and the power balance between them.” – Alison Willmore, New York Magazine/Vulture

“[T]here are moments so intimate and unguarded that you may briefly dissociate and question what you’re watching – a documentary, or its carefully scripted and acted narrative counterpart.” – Justin Chang,

“So compelling is “The Painter and the Thief” – and ultimately so powerfully moving in its faith in human resilience – that you may not notice the illuminating ways in which Ree plays with form and viewpoint.” – Ty Burr, Boston Globe

“A story of deeply human connection between two souls that actually see each other, and the healing power wrapped up in that sense of visibility.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

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

Watch mrsoulmovie.com/screenings

** 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

Windup – Director Yibing Jiang and Artistic Director Glenn Keane

The animated short film based on her own childhood experience in Wuhan China, WINDUP, tells the story of a father trying to stay connected with his unconscious daughter through music. He plays a windup music box and hopes she can hear it while fighting with his own emotions to stay strong. Meanwhile, his daughter follows the melody in her dreams and looks for a way back. WINDUP is a nine-minute animated short written and directed by an emerging female Chinese filmmaker Yibing Jiang, and Animation Director Jason Keane. Keane has a long family legacy in animation, which includes, his grandfather Bill Keane (Family Circus comics) and his uncles Jeff Keane; and Glenn Keane, (The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan, and Tangled). WINDUP was also a collaboration with artists working remotely from around the world, created in real-time with Unity. At a time when we are feeling isolated, craving connection and preoccupied with the health and well-being of loved ones, the theme of the film is an uplifting and universal one that highlights the fragile nature of life, love, resiliency and the healing power of music, told through the eyes of a father and the special bond he shares with his ailing young daughter. Director Yibing Jiang and Artistic Director Jason Keane stop by to talk about their work and vision for this heartwarming and beautiful animated film.

 

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To find out more or to watch go to: unity.com/demos/windup

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Film Maudit 2.0 – Executive Director Leo Garcia and Artistic Director Patrick Kennelly

January 12-24 2021, Highways, the legendary Los Angeles Performance Space and Gallery presents its Second Annual Film Maudit 2.0 festival showcasing and celebrating new outré, unusual and startling films. The festival will feature over 125 works of cinema from 25 countries including films rarely if ever, seen in festivals: works addressing socio-political issues and taboo subject matter that challenges conventional artistic assumptions and sexual mores.Virtual, online screenings of 18 feature films, 21 shorts programs, specially commissioned programs, and new film scored performed by artists who reflect the diversity of Los Angeles. Included are a range of narrative, documentary and experimental films that are deliberately bold, extreme, confrontational and unusual. Film Maudit 2.0 highlights this year include the U.S. premieres of Feature Films: Mathius Marvellous Shop, a Spanish/German surrealistic satire; Kriya, a magical Indian thriller, and the Los Angeles premieres of Woman of the Photographs; a powerful Japanese film about image and reality for a beautiful model; The Columnist, a darkly comic horror film from The Netherlands; A Dark, Dark Man, the Kazakhstan/France thriller just long-listed for the Golden Globes; and Darkness (Buio) the first feature film by Donatello Award-winning director Emanuela Rossi. Other special programs include a special fundraising screening of erotic art pioneers Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens’ Water Makes Us Wet, featuring a live stream Q&A with both; new, original music scores performed live to silent films, and multiple Feature and Shorts Programs that showcase works from 25 countries in 16 uniquely curated categories from ‘Ms. Fear’ to ‘Shattering Form’ – with animated documentaries to experimental works handmade on film; extreme horror to comic surrealism. There is a special focus on works in Film Maudit’s BEHOLD section, which includes NSFW! curated by Planet Queer, Hi Kicks Entrails, curated by performance artist Ironstone, and QLX: the Performance of Queer Latinx.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: filmmaudit.org

All films at the festival are free and available online January 12 through 24. Reservations are required and can be made for each program via Film Maudit 2.0’s Screening Portal: filmmaudit.org/filmmaudit

Film Maudit 2.0 festival is inspired by French avant-garde filmmaker and writer Jean Cocteau who created the original Festival du Film Maudit (literally “cursed films”) in 1949 aiming to celebrate overlooked, shocking and experimental films. Film Maudit 2.0, in its 2nd year, showcases a counter-cinema will blend of narrative, documentary and experimental films that in their style and/or subject matter, are deliberately bold, extreme, confrontational, troubling, shocking and/or unusual. The festival is funded in part by the California Arts Council, Los Angeles County Department of Cultural Affairs and the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs CAP Program.

About HIGHWAYS – Film Maudit 2.0 is co-presented by and takes place at Southern California’s boldest center for new performance and media arts, Highways Performance Space & Gallery in Santa Monica, CA. In its 31st year, Highways continues to be an important alternative cultural center in Los Angeles that encourages radical artists from diverse communities to develop and present innovative new works. Described by the Los Angeles Times as “a hub of experimental theater, dance, solo drama and other multimedia performance,” Highways promotes the development of contemporary socially involved artists and art forms. Under the helm of Executive Director, Leo Garcia, Highways has received funding and support from organizations such as the The James Irvine Foundation, Metabolic Studio, California Community Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, The Warhol Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Roy Cockrum Foundation. Leo Garcia is an award-winning playwright, filmmaker, visual artist and actor who has produced over 800 performance works as Artistic Director-turned-Executive Director of Highways since 2003. highwaysperformance.org

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Music Got Me Here – Director Susan Koch

From award-winning director Susan Koch’s comes new feature documentary, MUSIC GOT ME HERE. The film follows the against-all-odds, true-life journey of Forrest Allen – a story of the power of music to heal and transform lives, often in miraculous ways. A snowboard accident leaves Forrest Allen, age 18, trapped inside himself, unable to speak or walk for almost two years. Tom Sweitzer, an eccentric music therapist with a troubled childhood who credits music with saving his own life, is determined to help Forrest find his voice. He dresses up in costumes and makes up silly songs.  For months, Forrest doesn’t even acknowledge him. Then, one day Forrest painstakingly types with one finger on his Dynavox: “Please help me find my voice”. Tom begins by teaching Forrest to breathe…then hum. After many months of painstaking practice, the hums turn into Forrest’s first two words. Director and writer Susan Koch joins us to talk about her uplifting tale of overcoming hardship, physical, spiritual and psychological as well as underscoring the pre-cognitive connective that humans share and with it our brains can be rewired to overcome trauma.

 

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

Winner of the Best Social Impact Award at the Greenwich International Film Festival,MUSIC GOT ME HERE was filmed over the course of five years and features interviews with renowned soprano and music therapy advocate Renee Fleming and National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins. MUSIC GOT ME HERE, is currently screening at Laemmle Virtual Cinema.

About the Director – Emmy and Peabody award-winning filmmaker Susan Koch’s films and non-fiction television shows have appeared on ABC, NBC, PBS, HBO, Showtime, MTV, ESPN, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, CNN, and American Movie Classics. Koch’s documentary Kicking It, about homeless soccer players who compete in an international tournament, premiered at the Sundance and Tribeca Film Festivals and was broadcast on ESPN. Koch’s other films include the award-winning documentaries Reel Models:  First Women of Film (AMC), Mario’s Story (Showtime), City at Peace (HBO) and The Other City (Showtime). Koch is the Executive Director of the Middleburg Film Festival, located in Middleburg, Virginia, outside Washington, D.C.

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Feels Good Man, Director Arthur Jones and Giorgio Angelini

In November 2016, a nasty election cycle had exposed a seismic cultural rift, and the country suddenly felt like a much different place. For underground cartoonist Matt Furie, that sensation was even more surreal. Furie’s comic creation Pepe the Frog, conceived more than a decade earlier as a laid-back humanoid amphibian, had unwittingly become a grotesque political pawn. FEELS GOOD MAN is a Frankenstein-meets-Alice-in-Wonderland journey of an artist battling to regain control of his creation, while confronting a disturbing cast of characters who have their own peculiar attachments to Pepe. Now, as Pepe continues to morph around the world – FEELS GOOD MAN offers a vivid, moving portrait of one man, one frog, and the very strange reality we’ve all found ourselves living in. Director Arthur Jones and Producer Giorgio Angelini stop by to talk about their mind-blowing journey into an internet / social media / 4Chan rabbit hole where a hippy-dippy cartoon character becomes an avatar and unfathomable messenger of hatred and bigoted propaganda.

 

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

To watch Feels Good Man go to: feelsgoodman.watch

For more on Pepe the Frog creator mattfurie.com

About the filmmakers: Arthur Jones – Director / Animator / Writer FEELS GOOD MAN is Jones’s directorial debut, but he’s uniquely suited to tell the story. He’s a cartoonist who came up in the same indie comics scene as the film’s subject, Matt Furie. Jones published a book of his illustrations in 2011: Post-it Note Diaries (Penguin/Plume Paperbacks). Over his career, he’s art directed animation and motion graphics for journalists and documentary filmmakers, working with companies including The New York Times, VICE, The Center for Investigative Reporting and The International Consortium of Journalists. Recently he’s been a part of several documentary features: Seed Money: The Chuck Holmes Story (2015), BUNKER 77 (Amazon Studios, 2017), Owned, A Tale of Two Americas (2018) and Hal (Oscilloscope Films, 2018). Jones is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. For more on the work of Arthur Jones go to: futuresmells.com

Giorgio Angelini: Producer / Writer / Cinematographer came into film from a longer, multi-faceted career in the creative arts. After touring in bands like The Rosebuds and Bishop Allen for much of his 20s, Giorgio enrolled in the Masters of Architecture program at Rice University during the depths of the 2008 real estate collapse. It was during this tumultuous time that the seeds for Giorgio’s directorial debut, OWNED: A Tale of Two Americas began to take shape. Following graduate school, Angelini began working with the boutique architecture firm, Schaum Shieh Architects, where he designed the White Oak Music Hall in Houston, Texas, as well as the headquarters for The Transart Foundation for Art and Anthropology, which won the Architect’s Newspaper’s “Design of the Year” award in 2018. 

WINNER – U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Emerging Filmmaker – 2020 Sundance Film Festival
WINNER – Best Feature Documentary – 2020 Lighthouse International Film Festival
Official Selection – 2020 True/False Film Festival
Official Selection – 2020 Big Sky Documentary Festival
Official Selection – Festival Favorites – 2020 SXSW Film Festival

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94% on Rotten Tomatoes

“You’ve just got to see it. It is chilling, hopeful, terrible, and wonderful—and made with care, gorgeous animation, and perfect pacing.”Allen Salkin, Los Angeles Magazine

“An expansive forensic look at the life cycle of an idea, a warp-speed analysis of internet sociology, and a harrowingly modern fable about innocence lost.“ – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

“It’s mesmerizing and kind of trippy, but also makes the film feel like a one-of-a-kind creation in the greater context of the Pepe the Frog legacy…an outstanding documentary.” 9/10 – Alex Billington, FirstShowing

“The most urgent and poignant political documentary of the year.” – Matt Patches, Polygon

Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own, Director Daniel Traub

In URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD: INTO HER OWN filmmaker Daniel Traub nimbly illuminates the fascinating journey of Ursula von Rydingsvard – from her difficult early life in a family of nine emigrating to the US after five years in post-WWII German Displaced Persons camps, a traumatic first marriage, her arrival in 1970s New York to establish herself as an artist, and the staggering, triumphant body of work she subsequently produced. Von Rydingsvard is one of the few women in the world working in monumental sculpture. Von Rydingsvard’s work has been featured in the Venice Biennale and is held in the collections of some of the world’s great museums, including New York’s =Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. But she may be best-known for the stunning “Scientia” at M.I.T. which evokes the power of nature and the firing of brain synapses. imposing pieces painstakingly crafted with complex surfaces. URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD: INTO HER OWN, goes behind the scenes with von Rydingsvard, as she and her collaborators – cutters, metalsmiths, and others – produce new work, including challenging commissions in copper and bronze. But the film also delves into the artist’s personal life, and how it has shaped her work. In conversations with curators, patrons, family, and fellow artists, we come to know von Rydingsvard as a driven but compassionate sculptor with a deep commitment to her art and the world around her.  Director Daniel Traub joins us to talk about von Rydingsvard’s creative process and how the materials she uses to create her complex and challenging sculptures influence her artistic approach.

 

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For news and updates go to: intoherownfilm.com

About the filmmaker: DANIEL TRAUB  Director / Producer / Cinematographer is a New York-based filmmaker and photographer. He lived in China from 1998 to 2007, working as cinematographer on documentary films for various networks and production companies, including PBS, German television ZDF and Arte. More recently, Traub directed the feature-length Barefoot Artist about Lily Yeh and her collaborative artworks in war-torn communities and Xu Bing: Phoenix about the condition of Chinese migrant laborers. Traub’s photographs have been exhibited internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago, Slought Foundation in Philadelphia and the Lianzhou Foto Festival in China. His work can be found in public and private collections, such as The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Social Media
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“A welcome cinematic account of her work.” – Glenn Kenny, The New York Times

“This compelling documentary portrait is a quiet ode to a woman whose approach to form and material are unmatched in the art world.” – Vancouver Int’l Film Festival

“While director Daniel Traub has little time to dive too deeply, the documentary serves as a fascinating glimpse into an artist’s work, inspirations and process.” – Kevin Crust, Los Angeles Times

“A fascinating and streamlined look at the renowned sculptor as we get a behind the scenes look at her creative process.” – Joe Friar, The Victoria Advocate

Beyond the Visible, Hilma af Klint, Director Halina Dyrschka

Hilma af Klint was an abstract artist before the term existed, a visionary, trailblazing figure who, inspired by spiritualism, modern science, and the riches of the natural world around her, began in 1906 to reel out a series of huge, colorful, sensual, strange works without precedent in painting. The subject of a recent smash retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, af Klint was for years an all-but-forgotten figure in art historical discourse, before her long-delayed rediscovery. Halina Dryschka’s dazzling, course correcting documentary describes not only the life and craft of af Klint, but also the process of her mischaracterization and her erasure by both a patriarchal narrative of artistic progress and capitalistic determination of artistic value. Director Halina Dyrschka joins us to talk about her own journey in making this compelling and powerful film and the importance of shattering the art world narrative of marginalizing woman artists.

 

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About the filmmaker – Director Halina Dyrschka was born in Berlin, Germany and is active as a director and producer. After studying acting, classical singing and film production she founded the company AMBROSIA FILM in Berlin. Her first film as a director the short film “9andahalf’s Goodbye” was shown at over 40 film festivals worldwide and has won several awards. BEYOND THE VISIBLE – HILMA AF KLINT marks her directorial feature documentary debut and is the first and only film on the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint.

For news, screenings and updates go to: zeitgeistfilms.com/film/beyondthevisiblehilmaafklint

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“One needn’t have a B.F.A. to see the striking resemblances between Klint’s works, painted years earlier, and those of vastly more lauded male artists who came later.” – Kenneth R. Morefield, 1More Film Blog

“Beyond the Visible should reach the general public as a needed and welcome corrective, shining a light on yet another dynamic, trailblazing woman denied her rightful place in history, until now.” – Loren King, AWFJ Women on Film

“Beyond the Visible: Hilma af Klint reminds us that just because we do not yet know them, does not mean that there are not more than enough women artists to entirely populate their own club of geniuses – and that in itself makes the film worthwhile.” – Lee Jutton, Film Inquiry