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

 

Tiny Tim, King for a Day – Director Johan von Sydow

TINY TIM: KING FOR A DAY is a biographical documentary about a musician who is not only well known for hits such as TipToe Through The Tulips but for his trailblazing personae that paved the way for other rock stars such as David Bowie, Prince, Iggy Pop and Boy George. An outcast from a young age, Herbert Boudrous Khaury’s rise to stardom as Tiny Tim is the ultimate fairytale. Considered a freak by many of his peers, Tiny Tim left no one unaffected. His wedding to Miss Vicki on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was watched by over 45 million Americans, and his queer personality has been celebrated by the likes of Bob Dylan and Lady Gaga. There were plans and hopes that Tiny Tim would be a lasting star, not only a novelty act but one man ruined these plans: Tiny Tim. The memorable archival footage, exclusive access to Tiny Tim’s intense diaries, the playful and powerful animations and the interviews with his family and friends makes this film not only a captivating portrait, but also a psychological drama, examining the borderline between insanity and geniality. TINY TIM: KING FOR A DAY is narrated by Weird Al Yankovic – reading from Tiny Tim revealing diary entries – and includes archival footage from D.A. Pennebaker, Jonas Mekas, Andy Warhol and others. Director and Producer Johan von Sydow (Mare Kandre: I Am the Genius!, The Jussi Bjoerling Saga) joins us to talk about the rise and fall of an artist who was one of the most vulnerable, fearless and determined performers to ever stand in front of an audience. TINY TIM: KING FOR A DAY is a unique portrait of one of the oddest stars the world has ever seen.

 

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

Tiny Tim: King for Day will be in select theaters April 23

About the filmmaker – Johan von Sydow is a drector and staff producer at SVT:s well renowned arts and culture show Kobra. His first two documentaries (Mare Kandre and The Jussi Bjoerling Saga) were called “the two best Swedish cultural docs in the 2000s” by a leading tv-critic, and his latest (Ratata through the ´80s) was, according to another critic, “a benchmark for future Swedish popmusic documentaries”. The Jussi Bjoerling Saga was nominated as Best documentary in the Swedish TV-award Kristallen.

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“A compelling and very entertaining portrait of a showbiz original” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

“There was never anything like Tiny Tim – not before or since – and, as the film makes clear, his character was anything but an act.” – Joel Selvin, San Francisco Chronicle

“Reveals a performer who was haunted by shame, sexual suppression, religious torment and memories of his brief time at the top.” – Richard Crouse

“Overall, it’s a great place to start if you want to learn more about the American legend who was Tiny Tim.” – Lorry Kikta, Film Threat

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

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

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

The Lost Sons – Director Ursula Macfarlane

THE LOST SONS follows Paul Fronczak, a man who discovered headlines his parents made for grieving their kidnapped child, then celebrating two years later when he was found, he begins to investigate. Fronczak begins a decades long investigation to find out what happened. At the age of 10, while searching for Christmas presents, Paul Fronczak unearthed a hoard of newspaper clippings about his parents: images of them grieving for a kidnapped baby and then celebrating two years later over a toddler found abandoned and returned to them.  Is Paul that kidnapped baby?  If so, where was he for two years?  The investigation launched a deeper look into a life shrouded in mystery.  Decades later, as questions continue to mount, Paul embarks on a journey for answers, plunging him into the dark depths of the secrets that families keep. The story of THE LOST SONS is told through a blend of re-enactments, the testimony of close family and first-hand witnesses, news footage, and family archive. Director Ursula Macfarlane (Untouchable, One Deadly Weekend in America, Tsunami: Survivor Stories) ) joins us for a conversation on how she came to this astonishing story, getting to know Paul Fronczak, finding the right balance in telling a story with so many and complicated elements. 

 

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South by Southwest: online.sxsw.com/event/sxsw-online/The Lost Sons

To find out more go to: ursulamacfarlane.com

About the filmmaker – Ursula Macfarlane is an award-winning documentary and drama director and executive producer from London, with two sons and a dog; yogi. Her work is an eclectic body of films and often focusing on family stories, and so-called ordinary people experiencing extraordinary challenges. Macfarlane loves to combine the epic with the intimate. Her documentary, The Lost Sons, for CNN Films, is a stranger-than-fiction story about a stolen baby, a family secret, and two unravelling mysteries. Her documentary Untouchable, is about the rise and fall of Harvey Weinstein, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Macfarlane’s films include Breaking Up With The Joneses, a feature documentary about a couple going through a divorce, One Deadly Weekend In America, about young lives cut short through gun violence, The Life and Loss Of Karen Woo, a film about a young British doctor murdered by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Charlie Hebdo: Three Days That Shook Paris, the story of the Paris terror attacks. To find out more go to: ursulamacfarlane.com

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“Macfarlane … expertly combines copious archival footage … interviews, recreations and other narrative techniques to create a gripping thrill ride of investigative journalism.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail

“Macfarlane tells the convoluted story in a clean and efficient manner and the result will have your mind reeling long after it has concluded.” – Peter Sobczynski, eFilmCritic.com

“The Lost Sons is gripping from start to finish.” – Bobby LePire, Film Threat

“Engaging and thrilling, The Lost Sons proves the truth is always stranger than fiction.” – Rachel West, That Shelf

After the Murder of Albert Lima – Director Aengus James

Aengus James’ Award-winning documentary AFTER THE MURDER OF ALBERT LIMA tells the story of a son obsessed with capturing his father’s killer. Paul Lima has spent over a decade seeking justice for his slain father, Albert. Though convicted, Albert’s murderer has remained free in Honduras. After years of the legal system failing him, Paul takes the unorthodox step of hiring two bounty hunters to travel with him to Honduras to track down and capture his father’s killer. This riveting, and, at times, darkly comedic documentary explores both the importance of family and the dangers of taking the law into your own hands. Director Aengus James (I Am Jazz, Scandalous) joins us to talk about the tragedy that has been visited upon the Lima family, the heart-stopping actions that Paul and James’ crew took in the bring this story to life and the collapse of any semblance of civil society in Honduras.

 

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For news, and updates go to: after-the-murder-of-albert-lima

To watch go to: crackle.com/watch

Director’s Statement – A man hires two bounty hunters to help him kidnap his father’s killer in Honduras… what could possibly go wrong? From the beginning, this was a bad idea.  At the time we filmed this documentary, a report on NPR named Honduras the murder capital of the world; it had a case closure rate of just 2.5%. When I first met Paul (Lima), he was at a breaking point. The desperation he felt was echoed by victims’ families in Honduras we spoke to. What is justice in a broken and horribly corrupt system? Is vengeance just? Paul’s obsession for justice and his moral struggle with vengeance compelled me to follow him on this deeply flawed adventure. – Aengus James

About the filmmaker – Aengus James is an award-winning filmmaker and television producer. His recent works include SCANDALOUS (Magnolia, CNN, BBC), Undercover Billionaire (Discovery), and the GLAAD Media Award-winning I Am Jazz (TLC). Aengus began his career serving as Barry Levinson’s cinematographer in POLIWOOD.  AFTER THE MURDER OF ALBERT LIMA follows Aengus’ directorial debut and IDA award nominated documentary comedy AMERICAN HARMONY. He has created and directed content for global brands and non-profits, and his work has received numerous honors including special recognition from the White House and the United Nations for raising awareness on issues including veterans’ mental health and women’s healthcare around the world. Aengus is the co-founder and head of This is Just a Test.

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“More than once I had to hit pause to investigate if what I was seeing actually happened, but it ended up winning me over with its absurd and equally emotional and healing story.” – Jorge Rivera Rubio, QiiBO

“After the Murder of Albert Lima is a truly singular experience, stuck somewhere between laughter and tears.” – Rob Aldam, Backseat Mafia

’Til Kingdom Come, Director Maya Zinshtein & Producer Abraham (Abie) Troen

Director Maya Zinshtein and Producer Abraham (Abie) Troen’s well-balanced, insightful documentary ’TIL KINGDOM COME focuses on the millions of American Evangelicals who are praying for the State of Israel. Among them are the Binghams, a dynasty of Kentucky pastors, and their Evangelical congregants in an impoverished coal mining town. They donate sacrificially to Israel’s foremost philanthropic organization, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, because they fervently believe the Jews are crucial to Jesus’s return. ’TIL KINGDOM COME traces this unusual relationship, from rural Kentucky to the halls of government in Washington, through the moving of the American Embassy in Jerusalem and to the annexation plan of the West-Bank. With unparalleled access, the film exposes a stunning backstory of the Trump and Netanyahu administrations, where financial, political and messianic motivations intersect with the apocalyptic worldview that is insistently reshaping American foreign policy toward Israel and the Middle-East. Director Maya Zinshtein and Producer Abie Troen join us for a lively conversation on how their clear-eyed film takes us right into the heart of some of the world’s most powerful political forces and how this confluence of interests are apparently hellbent to realize a worldview where the world ends in fiery judgement for non-believers and true believers.

 

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

About the filmmaker – Maya Zinshtein – Director, producer Maya Zinshtein is an Emmy award-winning Israeli documentary filmmaker and journalist with a BA in Cinema and French studies and an MA in Security and Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University. Her last documentary “Forever Pure” won an Emmy award for Outstanding Politics and Government documentary in 2018 (Independent Lens/PBS). An alumna of Sundance Institute, for the last ten years she has directed and produced documentaries broadcast on Israeli TV and abroad including by Netflix, BBC, ARTE/ZDF, and PBS, and screened at over 100 festivals around the world.

About the filmmaker – Abraham (Abie) Troen – Producer, Cinematography Abraham “Abie” Troen is an award-winning documentary filmmaker & D.O.P. He has led doc projects in Israel, Kenya, India, Mexico and the US, his work screened at TIFF, SXSW, Doc NYC, IDFA and online for National Geographic, Vanity Fair, CNE and Out Magazine. Abie studied at the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem and Brandeis University before receiving an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. There he was awarded the Annenberg Fellowship for specializing in documentary filmmaking. He currently resides in LA and films on both sides of the Atlantic.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A toxic mix of fundamentalist religion and real world politics is examined soberly but startlingly by Israeli documentarist Maya Zinstein in ‘Til Kingdom Come.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen International

“Evangelicals and right-wing Jews make for strange bedfellows and ‘Til Kingdom Come shows why people should be uncomfortable.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“Hones in on one of the three legs of the stool that Trump sat on. (The other two are white supremacy and nativism.)” – Louis Proyect, Counterpunch.org

“Awaiting the Messiah – second coming or first?” – Harvey S. Karten, Shockya.com

Stray – Director Elizabeth Lo

STRAY explores what it means to live as a being without status or security, following three strays as they embark on inconspicuous journeys through Turkish society. Zeytin, fiercely independent, embarks on  adventures through the city at night; Nazar, nurturing and protective, easily befriends the humans around her; while Kartal, a shy puppy living on the outskirts of a construction site, finds companions in the security guards who care for her. The strays’ disparate lives intersect when they each form intimate bonds with a group of young Syrians with whom they share the streets. Director Elizabeth Lo joins us to talk about her remarkable debut documentary film, meeting Zeytin and Nazar and how she navigated the streets and the people of Istanbul to present an illuminating observation of human civilization through the unfamiliar gaze of dogs and a sensory voyage into new ways of seeing.

 

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For news and updates go to: straymovie.com

Watch at: straymovie.com/tickets

2021 Spirit Award nomination for the Truer Than Fiction Award

Director’s Statement – The impetus for STRAY is personal. When my childhood dog died, I felt a quiet need to suppress my grief at his passing. I was shocked that something as personal as how my heart responds to the death of a loved one could be shaped by an external politics that defined him or “it” as “valueless.” As my grief evolved, I also saw how our moral conceptions of who or how much one matters can be in constant flux. This transformative moment is what propels STRAY’s exploration into value, hierarchy, and sentience. In 2017, I traveled to Turkey, a country whose history and relationship with strays is unique in the world. Turkish authorities have tried to annihilate stray dogs since 1909, leading to mass killings of Istanbul’s street dogs for the last century. But widespread protests against these killings transformed Turkey into one of the only countries where it is now illegal to euthanize or hold captive any stray dog. Every free-roaming dog today is an emblem of resistance — living manifestations of compassion in the face of intolerance. I first met Zeytin, our canine protagonist, as she hurried past me in a busy underground tunnel in Istanbul. Intrigued by her sense of purposefulness, I chased after her. She was joined by Nazar, another street dog. As it turned out, they were on the heels of a group of young men from Syria — Jamil, Halil and Ali — who were living on the streets as refugees in Turkey. Zeytin quickly emerged as the focus of our production because she was one of the rare dogs we followed who did not inadvertently end up following us back. To the very last day of shooting, she remained radically independent. In Zeytin I saw a character who could fully envelop us within her own non-human will — a quality that was vital to a story about dogs who, unlike pets, are not only defined by their relationship to humans. My journey through Turkey traversed a socio-cultural terrain in which for a moment, one nation became refuge for many others. When xenophobia, species destruction and nationalist sentiment are rising all around the world, STRAY springs from these cracks in our anthropocentric modernity. It asks us to re-evaluate what it means that our streets are continuously emptied of everyone except those whom we’ve deemed to be its legitimate citizens. Through STRAY, I hope to continually push the boundaries of the cinematic medium in order to explore and challenge unequal states of personhood — to expand viewers’ circles of moral and perceptual consideration beyond their own class, culture, and species. – Elizabeth Lo

About the filmmaker – Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor Elizabth Lo is an award-winning filmmaker. Her work has been broadcast and showcased internationally, including at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs, True/False, BAM Cinema fest, New York Times Op-Docs, and PBS POV. Elizabeth was named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine in 2015 and was featured in the 2015 Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase at Cannes Lion. She was selected for the New York Film Festival Artist Academy in 2018 and the Locarno Film Festival Filmmakers Academy in 2019. Elizabeth’s work has played at over 100 film festivals and has won numerous awards. Her short films include Hotel 22 (2015), Bisonhead (2016), Mother’s Day (2017), The Disclosure President (2016), Notes from Buena Vista (2016), Treasure Island (2014), and Last Stop in Santa Rosa (2013). In 2017, her collected shorts were released by Video Project as a DVD, The Short Films of Elizabeth Lo, for distribution to educational institutions and libraries around the world. Elizabeth was born and raised in Hong Kong and holds a B.F.A. from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and an M.F.A. from Stanford University. STRAY is her feature film debut. 

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95% on Rotten Tomatoes

“The ultimate love letter to dogs and a multifaceted moral inquiry into humanity… [A] virtuosic feature documentary debut.” – Tomris Laffly, Variety

“Dog lovers will drool over this profound canine love letter from Turkey.  Gorgeous, absorbing…The dogs run most of the show, and they serve as remarkable centerpieces in a complex visual tapestry.”- Eric Kohn, IndieWire 

“A howling success. Artful, intimate… ‘Stray’ shines a piercing light on what it means to be an outcast in a teeming metropolis.”- Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter

“As simple as its title and as complex as the city it briefly illuminates…” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

“Lo inspects both the faultlines and fringes of the Turkish society and ponders profound philosophical questions concerning humanity.” – Tomris Laffly, Variety

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

Underplayed – Director Stacey Lee

Filmed over the summer festival season, UNDERPLAYED presents a portrait of the current status of the gender, ethnic, and sexual equality issues through the lens of the female pioneers, next-generation artists, and industry leaders who are championing the change, and inspiring a more diverse pool of role models for future generations. The impetus for the UNDERPLAYED came to light during the 2018 Bud Light House Party Tour, when Bud Light Canada sat down with artists from diverse backgrounds and genres to learn about the evolution of their careers, and their unique experiences in recording, touring, and performing. Key conversations with female DJs exposed a striking gender inequality in the space, and further research substantiated their experiences. Electronic music was born from the ideals of diversity, community, and inclusivity; yet in 2019 only 7% of Billboard’s Top 100 DJs were women. They make up less than 3% of production and technical roles in the music industry. For women of color, it’s less than 0.3%.An official selection of both the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, UNDERPLAYED features NERVO, Rezz, TOKiMONSTA, Alison Wonderland, and Tygapaw. Director Stacey Lee stops by to talk about just how grotesquely under represented women are in a music genre that has made truckloads of music from a female fan base that is ready and willing to support a rise wave of women taking their place behind soundboards and laptops all around the world.

 

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

UNDERPLAYED will have its global on demand release on Monday, March 8. In the U.S. and abroad, the film will be released on Amazon Prime Video.

World Premiere – 2020 Toronto International Film Festival

Official Selection – 2020 Tribeca Film Festival

Director’s Statement – “When the pioneering godmothers of electronic music first began tinkering away in their scientific labs back in the 50s and 60s, they could never have imagined their little back room experiments would make way for a blossoming 8 billion dollar global industry today. Nor could they have foreseen how drastically its very creative, egalitarian roots would transmute from an open experimental playing field, to an industry dominated by a one-dimensional male point of view. This is a universal theme, and sadly one that I can personally relate to as a “female” filmmaker in a heavily male field. I empathize and understand the frustration of having to fight harder to be considered for jobs “because there aren’t as many good female directors,” to turn a deaf ear to the belief that women “can’t be technical”, that we don’t deserve equal pay, or in my instance, hiding my pregnancy beneath an oversized blazer so I wouldn’t jeopardize my chances of securing jobs. When I learned about the shared plight of the women in electronic music, I saw a necessity to tell a story that speaks to the deeply personal and very human impact of this global issue. That transcends the music space, and speaks to the collective experience of so many working women today from film to politics and beyond.” Ultimately Underplayed raises the question; do we want our ears to be controlled by logarithms, safe bets and preconceived formulas…or become a space that is radically free to sound as rich, diverse and ever- changing as the world around us? The hope is for Underplayed to stimulate the conversation needed to break down the systematic bias’ and bring electronic music back to its open, diverse and fiercely experimental roots. To remind us that equality isn’t about one side defeating the other, but by all sides coming together for the greater good. Because the more we can lift each other up, the more we all have to gain.” – Stacey Lee

About the filmmaker – Director Stacey Lee was born in New Zealand, Stacey Lee’s work focuses on humanity, music, and movement. Her documentary short Live Fast Draw Yung premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2015, winning awards in Atlanta and Tacoma. She was recently shortlisted for the Cannes Young Directors Award and selected as part of the DGA/AICP Diversity Showcase. Underplayed is her feature debut. 

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“By its conclusion, you will want to check out everyone’s playlists, spin some tunes and get a groove on. May they never be underplayed again.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail

“Stacey Lee’s film will have one pumping your fist in solidarity with these insanely talented women while simultaneously bopping your head to their infectious beats.” – Courtney Small, That Shelf

“In an industry that has historically failed to make space for female artists, creating safe spaces where women can feel seen and heard is crucial. – Natalia Winkelman, The Daily Beast

“Directed by Stacey Lee, the in-depth Underplayed looks at how women have risen to take up space in the male-dominated music production world.” – Carolyn Mauricette, View From The Dark

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 People vs. Agent Orange – Co-directors Alan Adelson & Kate Taverna

As the latest film from filmmakers Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna lays bares the dioxin-based defoliant, insecticide, Agent Orange catastrophe did not end with the Vietnam War. Today, the world over, a primary chemical of the toxic defoliant controls weeds in farming, forestry, parks, even on children’s playgrounds. Agent Orange wreaks havoc on the human genome, causing deformed births and deadly cancers. After decades of struggle and tragic personal losses, two heroic women are leading a worldwide movement to end the plague and hold the manufacturers accountable. In France, Tran To Nga is suing the American chemical industry for poisoning her in Vietnam. In America, Carol Van Strum exposes the continuing use of toxic herbicides in the Pacific Northwest. Incriminating documents disappear. Activists are threatened. A helicopter technician secretly films the contamination of reservoirs, while a massive industrial cover-up goes on. The People vs. Agent Orange co-directors Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna join us for a conversation on the journey of two women, joned together in their mutual pain, resist intimidation and threats, bringing to light the ongoing, intergenerational catastrophe of chemical warfare and toxic herbicides in the hope of bringing the manufacturers and business related perpetrators to justice.

 

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For news and updates go to: javafilms.film/the-people-vs-agent-orange

Jury Award at Eugene Environmental Film Festival 2020

About the filmmakers: Kate Taverna and Alan Adelson produced and co-­directed In Bed with Ulysses as well as Lodz Ghetto, both of these widely acclaimed films had nationwide theatrical releases. Lodz Ghetto was short-listed for the Best Feature Documentary Oscar. Adelson and Taverna also collaborated on Two Villages in Kosovo, In Bed with Ulysses and Agent Orange: La derniere bataille, an adaptation of The People vs. Agent Orange made for Arte in French and German. Alan Adelson works in both film and print: as a page-one investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal and national magazines he made worldwide headlines exposing the disappearance of enough enriched plutonium to make two Hiroshima-sized bombs. Early in his journalistic career he published investigative articles on the chemical industry. Kate Taverna has edited more than 50 films over her career: Asylum and Killing in the Name were the Academy Award nominees in the Best Short documentary category in 2004 and 2011 respectively. The feature length Pray the Devil Back to Hell won the Best Documentary award at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry won the Audience award at the 2014 Boston Independent Film Festival, released theatrically nationwide and was translated into 22 languages andshown globally on Netflix.Her broadcast editing work has been seen on CBS, IFC, A&E, BBC and PBS, among others. 

Films for Humanity is proud to present the US virtual theatrical release of THE PEOPLE vs AGENT ORANGE, a documentary film by Kate Taverna and Alan Adelson. Winner of the Jury Award at the 2020 Eugene Environmental Film Festival, the film will have a virtual release at the New Plaza Cinema in New York, at Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles and in other cities on March 5, 2021

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
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Watch Speed Cubers at vid.see-movie.com/The Speed Cubers

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

Black Holes: The Edge of All We Know – Director Peter Galison

In Peter Galison’s thoroughly entertaining and informative new documentary, Black Hole: The Edge of We Know poses and answers an intriguing question, What can black holes teach us about the boundaries of knowledge? These holes in spacetime are the darkest objects and the brightest—the simplest and the most complex. With unprecedented access, Black Hole: The Edge of All We Know follows two powerhouse collaborations. Stephen Hawking anchors one, striving to show that black holes do not annihilate the past. Another group, working in the world’s highest-altitude observatories, creates an earth-sized telescope to capture the first-ever image of a black hole. Interwoven with other dimensions of exploring black holes, these stories bring us to the pinnacle of humanity’s quest to understand the universe. Director Peter Galison (Secrecy) joins us to talk about the world-wide effort of scientists, mathematicians, engineers, students, teachers and physicists to reach new heights of understanding our universe and the opportunity to showcase the more personal and life-affirming side of the late physicist and deep-thinker Stephen Hawking.

 

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 For news, updates and screenings go to blackholefilm.com

Director’s Statement – “I began filming Black Holes | The Edge of All We Know in the spring of 2016, when five colleagues and I launched the Black Hole Initiative, an interdisciplinary center for the study of black holes. Unlike the many fascinating objects in the sky, black holes have come to be central not only to astronomy, but also to mathematics, physics, and philosophy—not to speak of the way they figure in science fiction, in the art world, and in everyday speech. Two of those co-founders (both key figures in the film) are Sheperd Doeleman, the first director of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), and Andy Strominger, a long-time collaborator with Stephen Hawking. By April 2016, I had begun working as a physicist/philosopher with the EHT— Alongside the scientific work, during the following years, I filmed what became the first of the three strands of Edge: the EHT’s struggle to make the first image of a black hole. The resulting image was released on 10 April 2019 and seen in the following forty-eight hours by several billion people: the most-viewed scientific image in history. Also from 2016-19, I filmed a parallel effort by Hawking and colleagues, as they undertook to make sense of the (theoretical) threat that black holes pose to the very idea of universal physical law. Finally, philosophers reflect on these most mysterious objects: Is knowledge of the interior of a black hole even to be counted as real? Edge weaves these strands (observation, theory, and philosophy) together, all around the theme of what it is possible to know of these darkest, most elusive and mysterious edges of space and time. The goal of the film is not just to popularize already-achieved science results—it is to bring the audience into the all-too human conduct of science, the dynamics of collaboration, the challenges of observing and theorizing, the tantalizing clues to space and time that can be garnered in the making of science at the absolute forefront of what we can understand.” – Peter Galison

About the filmmaker – Peter Galison is a physicist/historian of science/filmmaker at Harvard University. In 1997, he was named a MacArthur Fellow; with his Event Horizon Telescope colleagues, Galison shared in the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for the first image of a black hole. He is a co-founder of the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard, an interdisciplinary center for the study of these most extreme objects. His documentary film (with Pamela Hogan, 2000) probed the moral-political debates over the H-bomb: Ultimate Weapon: The H-bomb Dilemma. He and Robb Moss co-directed Secrecy (2008), on national security secrecy, which premiered at Sundance. The two also co-directed Containment (2015), about the need to guard radioactive materials and warn the 10,000-year future. Galison partnered (as dramaturg) with South African artist William Kentridge on a multi-screen installation, The Refusal of Time (2012) and an associated chamber opera. He is also the author of several books, including Image and Logic; Objectivity; (with L. Daston), and Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps.

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“Peter Galison’s film does a superb job of conveying the life of science – the passion, the wonder, and the comradery forged by a group of people working together to fathom this strange cosmos we live in” – Alan Lightman, writer/physicist, MIT

““You need to watch this space-time bending doc on Apple TV ASAP”” – Inverse

“…explores the many meanings of black holes and that pioneering photo… a symbol of what humanity is capable of when it aims high and works together.” – space.com

“The experience is akin to that of watching a great artist at work … just a healthy respect and an opportunity to forge a human connection.”- Eye for Film

The War and Peace of Tim O’Brien – Director Aaron Matthews

In Aaron Matthews’ clear-eyed look into the life and times of a writer that has been called “the best American writer of his generation,” and our “poet laureate of war” Tim O’Brien. A Vietnam veteran, and National Book Award-winner, O’Brien is one of the great voices in modern American literature. The Library of Congress recently named his groundbreaking novel about the Vietnam War, “The Things They Carried,” one of the 65 most influential books in American history. It’s practically a cliché in the military – the book everyone carries is “The Things They Carried.” But O’Brien hasn’t put pen to paper in nearly two decades. He swore off making sentences when, at a late age, he had his first of two  children. Plus, the nation was waging new wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that he couldn’t wrap his head around – wars that both reconfirmed and upended the notions of war, soldiers, and society that animated his books. Now, Tim O’Brien is trying to write again. He thinks the country is past due for a conversation about war’s impact. He thinks we’re running out of time. And, at age 70, that he is too. THE WAR AND PEACE OF TIM O”BRIEN follows O’Brien on his journey writing his next and last book. What makes wars worth fighting? How do we write about war? What are the obligations of citizens with respect to war?  What are the after-effects of war on individuals and families? Director Aaron Matthews (Token Exchange, The Paper), brings us inside the lives of the O’Brien family with his intimate film about the struggles of a world-renowned war writer illuminates the everyday ties between duty, art, family, and the trauma of war.

 

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

About the filmmaker – Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor: Aaron Matthews is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose films have appeared on national and international television, and at over fifty film festivals around the world. His documentaries include, The Paper, A Panther in Africa, andMy American Girls, all broadcast on PBS’s flagship documentary series POV, or Independent Lens. He has been a Sundance Fellow and has received funding from The Sundance Institute, The Independent Television Service, The New York State Council on the Arts, The Jerome Foundation, The Brooklyn Arts Council, The Puffin Foundation, and Latino Public Broadcasting. Aaron Matthews holds a degree in English literature from Wesleyan University, and lives in Brooklyn. For more about the filmmaker: aaronmatthews.com

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“As O’Brien…pours a little more of himself onto every hard-won page, all I could think to say is “Thank you for your service.”” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

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  

Do Not Split – Director Anders Hammer

Filmed across an entire year, DO NOT SPLIT takes us within the heart of the 2019 Hong Kong protests, capturing the determination and sacrifices of the city’s youth as their movement becomes symbolic for a generation’s rebellion against the political systems of two governments. Armed with umbrellas, gas masks, social media, and sheer determination, the protestors risk their lives, safety, and futures against the police’s tear gas, armed vehicles, and violence. Anders Hammer’s powerful film paints a nuanced and sobering picture of the challenges faced by the protestors,  joining student leaders and protestors on the ground to give an expansive and first-hand portrait of the unrest that prompted a government’s backlash, the passage of the new Beijing-backed national security law, and captured the attention of the world. Director Anders Hammer joins us to talk about the history of Hong Kong’s relationship to the British empire and the handover to the People’s Republic of China, the 20-year deterioration of civil and political rights as well as the determined bravery of the student led protestors determined to resist the tightening grip of an increasingly oppressive regime.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to andershammer.com

2021 Oscar® shortlist – Best Documentary (Short form)

DO NOT SPLIT premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival; screened at CPH:DOX, Guanajuato International Film Festival, Denver Film Festival, SFFILM’s Doc Stories, Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI, and Indy Shorts International Film Festival; and received the AFI DOCS Short Film Special Jury Prize and Special Jury Recognition for Courage Under Fire at DOC NYC.

About the filmmaker – Anders Hammer has filmed and directed the documentary Do Not Split which takes us within the heart of the Hong Kong protests that started in the summer of 2019. The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and received the Special Jury Prize at AFI DOCS and Special Jury Recognition for Courage under Fire at DOC NYC. Hammer directed the documentary series Our Allies for Field of Vision. He also directed and produced Escape from Syria: Rania’s Odyssey, which was published by The Guardian and won a Webby Award and a One World Media Award for Best Refugee Reporting in 2018. The documentary went viral and gained more than 10 million views and 100,000 shares in social media. Hammer is one of the directors of the documentary  Exit Afghanistan published by Netflix. He has directed seven documentaries for the Norwegian investigative journalism program NRK Brennpunkt and many short documentaries. Hammer lived and worked in Afghanistan for six years and has written four documentary books about the country, one of them together with the Danish author Carsten Jensen. In Norway, where Hammer was born in 1977, he has received the Fritt Ord Award (which is given in support of freedom of expression), the International Reporter’s Journalism Award and the Big Journalist Award.

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“A visually stunning piece of reportage” – Nick Cunningham, BusinessDoc Europe

“A frenetic, urgent look at the protests that have rocked the city since June 2019” – Susannah Gruder, Hyperallergic

A Concerto is a Conversation – Co-directors Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers

The new short subject documentary A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION tells the story of virtuoso jazz pianist and film composer Kris Bowers as he tracks his family’s lineage through his 91-year-old grandfather, Horace Bowers, from Jim Crow Florida to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. In the 13-minute film A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION, Bowers traces the process of breaking into new spaces through generations of sacrifice that came before him, focusing on the story of his grandfather Horace Bowers. As a young man, he left his home in  the Jim Crow South, eventually ending up in Los Angeles. Encountering discrimination at every turn, he and his wife, Alice, nevertheless made a life as business owners. Today, their legacy lives on through their family and community in South Los Angeles, where a stretch of Central Avenue was recently designated Bowers Retail Square — in case any question remained about whether it’s a place they belong. Horace Bowers tells his grandson Kris Bowers,  “Never think that you’re not supposed to be there.” A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION, co-directors Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers join us for a conversation on their deeply personal film, primer on race in Southern California and the power of music and family to help us all see the world beyond ourselves.

 

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For news and updates go to: breakwaterstudios.com/a-concerto-is-a-conversation

Click here to watch: A Concerto is a Conversation

A Concerto is a Conversation has been shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Documentary – Short Form

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

About the filmmaker – Ben Proudfoot (born 1990) is a Nova Scotia born filmmaker and founder of Breakwater Studios, an emerging leader in the short documentary space. A former sleight of hand magician, Ben has pioneered alternative models of short documentary financing and distribution including noteworthy and award-winning collaborations with The New York Times, Charles Schwab, Annapurna Pictures and the LA Phil, earning him a spot on the 2020 Forbes 30 under 30 list. In addition to his work as an entrepreneur, Ben is an award-winning artist and filmmaker, having directed over fifty noteworthy original short documentaries. Ben’s work as a director has been selected by HotDocs, Sundance, Tribeca and Telluride. He resides in Los Angeles. For more go to: breakwaterstudios.com

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Call Center Blues – Director Geeta Gandbhir

A character-driven, cinematic tale of deportation, migration, displacement and opportunistic capitalism, CALL CENTER BLUES follows four characters as they struggle to make sense of their lives in Tijuana. Each with a vastly different story, they are all linked by their displacement and the sole choice of call center work they have in a country that is so unfamiliar and oftentimes frightening, yet other times a ray of hope. Tijuana becomes their home, a place defined by the border but yet defiant towards it, a no man’s land where everything and everyone feels transient. These characters paint a picture of love, loss and longing – for home, for an American Dream deferred, and for justice. Director Geeta Gandbhir joins us conversation on an aspect of immigration and deportation that is as relevant and heartbreaking as any immigration issue and the importance that an Oscar nomination brings to the issue and the film.

 

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For news annd updates go to: multitudefilms.com/call-center-blues

Shortlisted for 2021 Oscar nomination for Best Documentary (Short Form)

SHORTS SHORTLIST – IDA Documentary Awards 2020
OFFICIAL SELECTION – DOC NYC Short List: Shorts 2020
OFFICIAL SELECTION – SXSW Film Festival 2020
WINNER – Best Documentary Short – Virginia Film Festival 2020
WINNER – Best Documentary Short – Fayetteville Film Festival 2020

About the filmmaker – Geeta Gandbhir is an award-winning director, producer and editor. As director, she won Best Documentary at the News and Doc Emmys for I AM EVIDENCE, an HBO Documentary Film, and Best Government and Politics Documentary for ARMED WITH FAITH, a PBS Documentary film. As editor, she won a Primetime Emmy for Best Editing for Spike Lee’s HBO documentary series WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE and also for the HBO film BY THE PEOPLE, THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA. A documentary film she co-produced, THE SENTENCE, for HBO, also won a Special Jury Primetime Emmy.Other feature docs she co-directed include PRISON DOGS, A JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES: PEACEKEEPERS, and REMEMBERING THE ARTIST: ROBERT DENIRO SR.She created and is co-directing and co-producing a series on race with The New York Times Op-Docs titled “The Conversation” which won the AFI Documentary Film Festival and a MacArthur Grant. She has been the recipient of a Ford Foundation grant, a MacArthur Grant, among others, and in 2017, she was the recipient of Chicken and Eggs prestigious Breakthrough Filmmaker Award.

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17 Blocks – Director Davy Rothbart

In 1999, filmmaker Davy Rothbart met Emmanuel Sanford-Durant and his older brother, Smurf, during a pickup basketball game in Southeast Washington, D.C. Davy began filming their lives, and soon the two brothers and other family members began to use the camera themselves. The result is 17 BLOCKS. Made in a unique collaboration with filmmaker and journalist Davy Rothbart, the film focuses on four generations of the Sanford Family, including Emmanuel, a promising student, his brother Smurf, his sister Denice, an aspiring cop, and his mother Cheryl, who must conquer her own demons for her family to prosper. Spanning two decades, 17 BLOCKS illuminates a nation’s ongoing crisis through one family’s raw, stirring, and deeply personal saga. Made from more than 1,000 hours of footage, it all starts on the street where they lived in 1999, 17 blocks behind the U.S. Capitol. Director Davy Rothbart joins us to talk about his profoundly moving gut punch of a film about the lives of a family fighting against the chaos and cruelty of embedded racism, broken social institutions and pervasive violence, all of it happening a little more than a stones throw from the lawmakers who step over their dead bodies on their way to “work”. God help us if you are not moved by this film.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: 17blocksfilm.com

In Virtual Cinemas Starting February 19th, 2021 

Director Davy Rothbart’s team has partnered with organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety and Black Lives Matter D.C. on screenings, and for the film’s national release, presented by MTV Documentary Films. Its national virtual release is set for February 19, 2021, streaming from nearly 100 theaters across the U.S., and viewable on computers, tablets, mobile devices, AppleTV, and Roku.

About the filmmaker – Davy Rothbart is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, bestselling author and journalist, frequent contributor to public radio’s This American Life , and the creator of Found Magazine. Rothbart’s film MEDORA, about a resilient high-school basketball team in a dwindling Indiana town, based on the NewYork Times story by Pulitzer Prize winner John Branch, was Executive Produced by Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci, and premiered at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival. MEDORA later aired on the acclaimed PBS series Independent Lens and won an Emmy Award.  Rothbart previously directed two documentaries about the activist band Rise Against, which became best-selling DVDs in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Sweden. A separate short film featuring Rise Against’s song “Make It Stop” was created for Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project and later won an MTV Music Video Award.  Rothbart’s radio stories featured on This American Life have reached more than 20 million listeners, and his books FOUND and My Heart Is An Idiot have debuted on The New York Times Bestseller List. He has made multiple appearances on The Late Show With David Letterman , been featured on ABC’s 20/20, Last Call with Carson Daly, MSNBC, and NPR’s All Things Considered, and been profiled in The New Yorker and The New York Times. A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Rothbart now lives in Los Angeles, California. 

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“An essential viewing doc about race & class in America… A documentary with Cinema Verite sensibilities and no qualms whatsoever about the honest presentation of its subjects, 17 BLOCKS is both heartbreaking and inspiring.” – Warren Cantrell, The Playlist 

“RAW AND IMMEDIATE… packs a potent emotional punch.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter 

“A remarkably raw and heartfelt piece of filmmaking… At its best, 17 BLOCKS  reminded me of the deep humanism of Steve James’ work.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

“More than just a singular achievement in documentary filmmaking, “17 Blocks” is the result of the Sanford family’s profound act of bravery. – Mark Keizer, Variety

“An absolutely devastating, powerful, and deeply moving film.“ – Tim Cogshell, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

“There’s a searing honesty and immediacy about the footage.” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film

Women in Blue – Director Deirdre Fishel

Filmed from 2017-2020, WOMEN IN BLUE follows Minneapolis’ first female police chief Janeé Harteau, as she works to reform the Minneapolis Police Department by getting rid of bad cops, retraining the rest, diversifying the ranks and promoting women—who statistically use less force than their male counterparts—into every rank of leadership. WOMEN IN BLUE focuses on four women in Harteau’s department, each trying to redefine what it means to protect and serve. After a high-profile, officer-involved shooting forces Chief Harteau to resign, the new, male chief selects only men as his top brass. The women left behind continue to fight to police differently and to rebuild community trust. WOMEN IN BLUE offers an unprecedented view into the inner workings of the MPD, chronicling a department—and a community—grappling with racism and a troubled history of police misconduct long before an MPD officer killed George Floyd in May of 2020. The film reveals the limitations of police reform through incremental change and asks questions that apply well beyond the city of Minneapolis. Could increased gender equity and more women —especially Black women — contribute to greater public safety? Director Deirdre Fishel joins us to talk about some of the many reason that law enforcement is at a critical juncture, how women can be agents of reform in more effective but often aren’t allowed to and the impact that the Floyd murder had on the project.

 

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Premieres February 8 on pbs.org/independentlens/films/women-in-blue

About the filmmaker – Deirdre Fishel is a producer/director of documentaries and dramas that have premiered in competition at Sundance, SXSW, AFI and Full Frame and been broadcast in 35 countries worldwide.  Her most recent documentary  CARE, which looks at the poignant but hidden world of home elder care, was funded by ITVS and the Ford and MacArthur Foundations. It was broadcast on AMERICA REFRAMED and had an extensive impact campaign with support from Bertha BritDocs, AFI DOCS, and the Fledgling Fund. Fishel has devoted the majority of her career to stories about women and is Director of the BFA program in Film/Video at City College.  For more go to: newday.com/filmmaker/Fishel

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“This is an unflinching study of a complex situation, showing gray areas where often only black and white are seen.” – Peter Keough, Boston Globe

“Plays like a spiritual prequel to everything we’ve seen in the past four weeks, and contains some early clues that there was something dreadfully wrong going on in the Minneapolis Police Department.” – Stephen Silver, Splice Today

“This is a timely, compelling look at a group of women who are dedicated to standing out in a male-dominated field.” – Mike McGranaghan, Aisle Seat

Acasa, My Home – Director Radu Ciorniciuc

ACASA, MY HOME is set in the wilderness of the Bucharest Delta, an abandoned water reservoir just outside the bustling metropolis, Radu Ciorniciuc’a striking debut feature documentary follows the Enache family. The Enache’s have lived in perfect harmony with nature for two decades, sleeping in a hut on the lakeshore, catching fish barehanded, and following the rhythm of the seasons. When this area is transformed into a public national park, they are forced to leave behind their unconventional life and move to the city, where fishing rods are replaced by smartphones and idle afternoons are now spent in classrooms. As the family struggles to conform to modern civilization and maintain their connection to each other and themselves, they each begin to question their place in the world and what their future might be. With their roots in the wilderness, the nine children and their parents struggle to find a way to keep their family united in the concrete jungle. With an empathetic and cinematic eye, ACASA, MY HOME filmmaker Radu Ciorniciuc offers viewers, in his feature debut, a compelling tale of an impoverished family living on the fringes of society in Romania, fighting for acceptance and their own version of freedom. Director Radu Ciorniciuc stops by to talk about his profoundly personal exploration into the insulated and untamed lives of the Enache family as they navigate the grinding reality of an urban existence that threatens to tear them apart.

For news and updates go to: zeitgeistfilms.com/film/acasamyhome

About the filmmaker – In 2012, Radu Ciorniciuc co-founded the first independent media organization in Romania – Casa Jurnalistului, a community of reporters specialized in in-depth, long-form and multimedia reporting. Since then, he has been working as a long-form writer and undercover investigative reporter. His researches are focused on human rights, animal welfare and environmental issues across the globe. His investigative and reporting work was published on most of the major international media organizations in the world – Channel 4 News, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, etc. – and received national and international awards. His journalistic work was acknowledged by Royal Television Society UK (2014), Amnesty International UK (2014), Harold Wincott Awards for Business, Economic and Financial Journalism (2016), and by other international and national prestigious institutions. 

WINNER – Special Jury Prize for Cinematography Sundance Film Festival
WINNER – Phoenix Prize Best Documentary Cologne Film Festival
WINNER – Main Competition – Dok.Fest Munchen
WINNER – Olden Horn Award – Krakow Film Festival
WINNER –  Best Moral Approach – 2020 Makedox
WINNER – Human Rights Award – Sarajevo Film Festival 
WINNER – Special Jury Prize  – Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival
WINNER – ZagrebDox  – FIPRECI Award | Big Stamp Award | Little Stamp Award

 

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Lyrical and provocative. Timeless and of-the-moment, vividly specific and universally resonant. -Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter

“Stunningly intimate. Beautifully crafted.” -Jordan M. Smith, Nonfics

“It’s both intimate and analytical, a sensitive portrait of real people undergoing enormous change and a meditation on what that change might mean.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times

“The secret of this beautiful, bittersweet film about a group of people like no other is that, in the end, it’s all so shockingly relatable.” – Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture

“A heart-rending documentary with investigative undertones.” -Andrew Stover, Film Threat