What happens if the entire industry is laid off in a single day?Filmed during the height of the pandemic, Last Call : The Shutdown of NYC Bars explores the social and economic impact of COVID-19 on the NYC hospitality industry. Last Call : The Shutdown of NYC Bars follows Jena Ellenwood, a bartender in Queens, NY, as she and her co-works and friends recount their experiences in the dawning realization that they are going to lose their jobs to a deadly new virus. Jena has just moved to New York and recently been brought on as a bartender at the Sparrow Tavern, a local Astoria watering hole. In March 2020, business-as-usual comes to a grinding halt as COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, quickly establishing Queens as the epicenter of the pandemic, not only the state of New York, but throughout the entire country. Bars and restaurants are ordered to close, leaving thousands of hospitality workers stranded without work and an uncertain future. Jena and her friends vent their frustrations and anxieties, not only surrounding the seemingly hopeless economic uncertainty, but also the deadly virus that threatens their very lives.Throughout the process of finding a foothold in this “new normal”, the anxiety and uncertainty of New York’s hospitality industry looms, as 2020 ends with COVID hospitalizations in New York continuing to rise once again. Director, producer and writer Johnny Sweet (Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story) joins us to talk about his own journey over the last 16 months, the serious challenges of making a film under the cloud brought on by the pandemic and why showcasing the undervalued work and contributions of the service workers is so important to a healthy community.
About the filmmaker – Born and raised in NYC, Johnny Sweet graduated from Syracuse University in 2003. He was recently nominated for an Emmy for Best Long Sports Documentary for “Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story.” Sweet was an Emmy Award winning feature producer at ESPN for 10 years, primarily covering the NBA and the NFL. In 2016 Sweet directed his first long form documentary, “Vick” which won the Associated Press Sports Editor Award for journalism, his second APSE award. His second film, “Quiet Storm,” a documentary about the life of Ron Artest was released in 2019 on Showtime. The film won the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Cleveland International Films Festival for Best Documentary and was selected by the Hot Docs and Big Sky Film Festivals. For more go to: ocp-productions.com
Director D.W. Thomas’, Too Late, cozy horror comedy set in the Los Angeles indie comedy scene features Violet Fields who works a thankless job as the assistant to Bob Devore, famed comedian and host of the live variety show,Too Late. But what only Violet knows is that Bob is a monster both literally and figuratively. Resigned to her fate, Violet is caught by surprise when she meets aspiring comedian Jimmy Rhodes and sparks fly. But as her feelings for Jimmy grow and Bob starts to doubt her loyalty, she and Jimmy could end up as Bob’s next meal.TOO LATE is the debut feature film from director D.W. Thomas and writer Tom Becker. It stars Alyssa Limperis (Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun), Ron Lynch (Bob’s Burgers, Adventure Time), Will Weldon (Comedy Central’s This Isn’t Happening), Mary Lynn Rajskub (24, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Fred Armisen (SNL, Portlandia), Jenny Zigrino (Bad Santa 2, 50 Shades of Black), Jack De Sena (Avatar: The Last Airbender), and Brooks Wheelan (SNL). Director and writer D.W. Thomas joins us for a spirited conversation on comedy, fame, Hungarian Cultural Centers, Stand up, and a well-balanced diet.
Gravitas Ventures will release TOO LATE in select theaters and on digital platforms including iTunes, Google Play, Fandango Now and all major cable/satellite platforms on June 25.
About the filmmaker – D.W. Thomas is a feature film director. She had her start editing films for indie production company, Cineville International known for Mi Vida Loca, Gas Food Lodging and Swimming with Sharks. She has produced and edited behind-the-scenes segments for studios including NBC, Disney, Marvel, and Pixar. Her feature film directorial debut Too Late will be premiering June 25th in theaters and on demand. For more go to: firemarkmedia.com
“’Too Late’ can be taken as a show business metaphor. Throughout we see that only the strong and ruthless survive and succeed, with Devore himself being a symbol of star power gobbling up the competition.” – Bob BloomJournal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
SWEET THING, centers on Billie (Lana Rockwell, Little Feet), a 15-year-old girl who fantasizes Billie Holiday as a sort of fairy godmother. Billie has to navigate the evolving challenges of her life while she plays mother to her 11-year-old brother, Nico. They meet up with another adolescent, run away from home, and together roam the area free from their parents’ watchful eye. They discover freedom and enchantment among New Bedford’s boats and railway tracks. They fantasize about a life of luxury when they break into a posh home, and are able to carry the taste of affluence into their adventures. SWEET THING celebrates their ability to make poetry and a joyful life out of hardship. The children come to represent a hope in our own resilience, as the film is an ode to that trying age when young people prepare to take their first step into adulthood. The story is an intense but ultimately uplifting, poetic rendering of childhood that captures the essence of that time in life when a day can last forever. SWEET THING, stars Rockwell’s children Lana and Nico, Karyn Parsons and Will Patton, Director and writer Alexandre Rockwell (In the Soup, Louis & Frank, 13 Moons) joins us for a conversation on his working with a superb cast that includes Lana and Nico Rockwell, Karyn Parsons and Will Patton, re-discovering a love for instinctive filmmaking and his embrace of storytelling that celebrates fearless youth, friendships, and family.
SWEET THING winner of the Berlinale Crystal Bear in the Generation K-plus section in 2020.
About the filmmaker – Rockwell managed to establish himself by the early 1980s. He already had several short films under his belt and his work was shown at Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art and New York City’s Association of Independent Video and Film. This led to him landing his first feature film, Lenz which was shown at the 1982 Berlin Film Festival and enjoyed success. Rockwell followed up with the release of Hero, which won a Special Jury Prize at the 1984 Sundance Film Festival. In 1986, he married Yale graduate and Flashdance star Jennifer Beals. He didn’t make any films until Sons. Praise rained on Rockwell at The Sundance Film Festival when he released In the Soup. The movie featured Steve Buscemi, Seymour Cassel and Jennifer Beals. Rockwell’s next film Somebody to Love was less successful, though the omnibus movie Four Rooms was popular, in which Rockwell directed the segment “The Wrong Man”. Rockwell’s marriage to Beals ended in 1996 but they remained close friends. Unfortunately, Rockwell’s next offering, Louis & Frank, reprising two minor characters from In The Soup, flopped with audiences. Rockwell hit his stride again with the release of the successful 13 Moons, a comedy which featured a strong ensemble cast including Steve Buscemi and Karyn Parsons. Rockwell later married Parsons (best known for her work as “Hilary Banks” on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) on Valentine’s Day, 2003. After Pete Smalls Is Dead, he made the critically acclaimed Little Feet, starring his two young children, son Nico and daughter Lana, which was entirely funded by a Kickstarter campaign. With this feature, Rockwell continued the form that made him an iconoclast of the independent New York film movement of the nineties. After a break of 7 years, he returned to filmmaking with Sweet Thing, starring his wife Karyn and their two kids, winning the Crystal Bear award at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival.
“A lively, bittersweet meditation on an impoverished childhood that is still rich in innocence and imagination…. With verve and vitality it pays a dreamy-eyed retrospective debt to films past, and largely due to the beguiling performance from Rockwell’s own daughter Lana, ultimately delivers a moving, tousled journey of discovery….” – Jessica Kiang, Variety
“Rockwell’s film about specific heartbreaking circumstances is accessibly potent in its portrayal of childhood and memory. He taps into the experience of complex emotions – fear mixed with hope, love entangled with heartbreak, and childhood prematurely ripped away – in ways that exemplify the unique potential of cinema.” – Mary-Catherine Harvey, The Upcoming
“Gorgeous… stunningly rendered….this is a film that deserves to be seen – Stephen Silver, Goomba Stomp
“The windswept, wild-maned ‘Sweet Thing’ boasts beautiful performances and a definite throwback charm.” – VARIETY
“The first paces of ‘Sweet Thing’ feel as they are taken from Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Kid’. By iris-in, iris-out, long shot cuts into close-ups, the director Alexander Rockwell conveys a really fresh and intimate nostalgia.” – FILMFESTIVALS
“Sweet Thing is also stunningly rendered. All three kid actors are incredibly talented, and the film makes very strong use of music, which includes multiple examples of Lana Rockwell’s fine singing.” – Goomba Stomp
Emily @ the Edge of Chaos interweaves Emily Levine’s live performance with animation, appearances by scientists, and animated characters (John Lithgow as Sir Isaac Newton, Lily Tomlin as Ayn Rand, Leonard Nimoy as Sigmund Freud, Richard Lewis as Aristotle, Matt Groening as Aldo Leopold). Emily @ the Edge of Chaos uses physics, which explains how the universe works, to explain our metaphysics – the story of our values, our institutions, our interactions. Using her own experience and a custom blend of insight and humor, provocation and inspiration, personal story and social commentary, Emily takes her audience through its own paradigm shift: from the Fear of Change to the EDGE OF CHAOS!Emily Levine, like her film, was one-of-a-kind. She was a television writer and producer (Designing Women, Love & War and Dangerous Minds), a stand-up performer, and an out-of-the box-thinker, whose brilliant TED Talks have been watched by millions. She made this film with Wendy Apple, who produced and directed it.Wendy died in 2017 and Emily continued working on the film until she also passed away in 2019. Executive Producer Thea Kerman joins us to talk about how her friend and colleague, Emily Levine, poured her heart and should into making this film before cancer took her, and how the unexpected death of the director Wendy Apple played into Thea stepping in to guide the film to completion and distribution.
About Emily Levine – Emily graduated cum laude from Harvard, intent on pursuing a career as an Oracle. Unable to find a good Oracle agent, she settled for a career as a stand-up comedian, headlining in comedy clubs and making television appearances on shows such as David Letterman’s Late Night. The LA Times called her “a stand-out as a stand-up.” Newsweek called her “one of the new queens of comedy.” Her mother called her every week. Later, as a television writer and producer, Emily worked on shows such as Designing Women, Love and War and Dangerous Minds. She created and produced pilots for new situation comedies for CBS, NBC, ABC and HBO. In the 90’s, Emily’s career began to suffer as an undiagnosed tumor in her pituitary gland began to wreak havoc. Lacking an explanation for the weird array of symptoms, including brain fog, osteoarthritis, and a curious lack of interest in consumer-driven activity, she could only believe she was going crazy. The relief that accompanied the eventual diagnosis in 2007 – the fact that there was an actual real reason for her decline – led Emily to fall in love with fact-based reality, aka science. Her movie, “Emily @ the Edge of Chaos,” details this journey, using humor, animations, and guest stars to inspire the country with that same love of fact-based reality. Emily was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2018 and started a blog, “The Yoy of Dying,” that takes it all on. Emily died on February 3, 2019, but Emily’s daughter Abby continues working to release “Emily @ the Edge of Chaos.” You can subscribe to Emily’s Universe and continue to follow Emily’s accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to stay up-to-date. For more about Emily go to: emilysuniverse.com
About the filmmaker – Thea Kerman, Executive Producer, has over 30 years of experience as an entertainment lawyer. She has provided legal services for narrative films such as Donnie Brasco, The Fisher King, Hook, Hairspray, Warriors of Virtue, Bats and Black Dynamite, documentary films such as The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Film Editing and Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack and worked with clients and talent such as Akiro Kurasawa, Barry Levinson, Sidney Lumet, Bruce Willis, Richard Gere, Al Pacino, Whitney Houston and Kiss. Prior to establishing her own law firm in 1990 in Los Angeles, Ms. Kerman was the Senior Production Counsel for Tri-Star Pictures and served as General Counsel for the Marvel Comics Group.. She was a co-producer on Dukhtar, a U.S./Pakistani/Norwegian/Indian narrative co-production which had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and was the official Pakistani nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th annual Academy Awards. She was an executive producer of Doctors of the Dark Side, a feature length documentary, and co-producer of Yellow Rose, an American-Fillipino musical drama.
The latest caper / drama / comedy from director Paul Tanter STEALING CHAPLIN was inspired by a surreal plot that took place over 40 years ago. Two Las Vegas based con men decided to dig up and steal the corpse of the legendary silent-era comedian Charlie Chaplin in order to ransom it. The bizarre plot grabs the attention of the nation and sets in motion an escalating reward offer by the family. Before long every local lowlife, criminal and dirty cop is looking to cash in on the easy money. STEALING CHAPLIN is driven forward by a slew of quirky but captivating performances that includes the film’s co-writers Simon Phillips (Age of the Living Dead, No Easy Days), Doug Phillips (Not All Who Wander, Butchers) and producer Ken Bressers (The Nights Before Christmas, Not All Who Wander). The prolific British director Paul Tanter (The Nights Before Christmas, Dystopia, and Kill Ratio) joins us to talk about the inspiration for the film, finding the right tone for a multi-genre story and the lightning fast pace he and his crew worked at to make STEALING CHAPLIN.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. With more than two decades as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events such as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Big Screen Classics series in partnership with Fathom Events, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app. Fans can also enjoy a TCM curated classics experience on HBO Max.
TCM UNDERGROUND – Tune in every Friday night for TCM Underground, our late-night movie franchise that showcases the best of classic cult favorites and hard-to-find films, from experimental shorts to off-beat comedies. For more discussions around the wild, weird world of cult films and films shown on TCM Underground, check out our web series TCM Slumberground on YouTube!
TCM SLUMBERGROUND is the official monthly pre-show for TCM Underground, a late-night cult movie franchise that airs at 2:00 am EST on Friday nights on Turner Classic Movies. In each episode, TCM Underground programmer Millie De Chirico sits down with a panel of her fellow TCM employees to discuss the upcoming double feature and other cult movie topics.
Other Midnight Films at past TCM Classic Film Festivals include: Boom!, Duck Soup, Eraserhead, Freaks, Gog, Island of Lost Souls, Kentucky Fried Movie, Night of the Living Dead, Nothing Lasts Forever, Phase IV, Roar, Santo vs. The Evil Brain,The Bride of Frankenstein, The Day of the Triffids, The Mummy, The Student Nurses, The Tingler, The World’s Greatest Sinner and Zardoz.
In the late 1960s, in the aftermath of the Watts Uprising and against the backdrop of the continuing Civil Rights Movement and the escalating Vietnam War, a group of African and African-American students entered the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, as part of an Ethno-Communications initiative designed to be responsive to communities of color (also including Asian, Chicano and Native American communities). Now referred to as the “L.A. Rebellion,” these mostly unheralded artists created a unique cinematic landscape, as—over the course of two decades—students arrived, mentored one another and passed the torch to the next group. Beyond the films themselves, what makes the L.A. Rebellion movement a discovery worthy of a place in film history is the vitality of its filmmakers, their utopian vision of a better society, their sensitivity to children and gender issues, their willingness to question any and all received wisdom, their identification with the liberation movements in the Third World, and their expression of Black pride and dignity. As part of the 2021 TCM (Turner Classic Movies) Film Festival is spotlighting two of the L.A. Rebellion’s leading lights, Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry in the festival’s Special Collections section. Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry join us for a conversation on their recollections the birth of the L.A. Rebellion and the inspiration for their life altering decision to become filmmakers.
About the filmmaker – Charles Burnett is a writer-director whose work has received extensive honors. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, his family soon moved to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Burnett studied creative writing at UCLA before entering the University’s graduate film program. His thesis project, Killer of Sheep (1977), won accolades at film festivals and a critical devotion; in 1990, it was among the first titles named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. European financing allowed Burnett to shoot his second feature, My Brother’s Wedding (1983), but a rushed debut prevented the filmmaker from completing his final cut until 2007. In 1988, Burnett was awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur (“genius grant”) Fellowship and shortly thereafter Burnett became the first African American recipient of the National Society of Film Critics’ best screenplay award, for To Sleep withAnger (1990). Burnett made the highly acclaimed “Nightjohn” in 1996 for the Disney Channel; his subsequent television works include “Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding” (1998), “Selma, Lord, Selma” (1999), an episode of the seven-part series “Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues” (2003) and “Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property” (2003), which was shown on the PBS series “Independent Lens.” Burnett has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the J. P. Getty Foundation. In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art showcased his work with a month-long retrospective.
To Sleep with Anger – Writer and Director Charles Burnett – A slow-burning masterwork of the early 1990s, this third feature by Charles Burnett is a singular piece of American mythmaking. In a towering performance, Danny Glover plays the enigmatic southern drifter Harry, a devilish charmer who turns up out of the blue on the South Central Los Angeles doorstep of his old friends. In short order, Harry’s presence seems to cast a chaotic spell on what appeared to be a peaceful household, exposing smoldering tensions between parents and children, tradition and change, virtue and temptation. Interweaving evocative strains of gospel and blues with rich, poetic-realist images, To Sleep with Anger is a sublimely stirring film from an autonomous artistic sensibility, a portrait of family resilience steeped in the traditions of African American mysticism and folklore.
About the filmmaker – Billy Woodberry Born in Dallas in 1950, Billy Woodberry is one of the founders of the L.A. Rebellion film movement. His first feature film Bless Their Little Hearts (1983) is a pioneer and essential work of this movement, influenced by Italian neo-realism and the work of Third Cinema filmmakers. The film was awarded with an OCIC and Interfilm awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2013. His latest feature film And when I die, I won’t stay dead (2015) about the beat poet Bob Kaufman was the opening film of MoMA’s Doc Fortnight in 2016. Woodberry has appeared in Charles Burnett’s “When It Rains” (1995) and provided narration for Thom Andersen’s Red HOLLYWOOD” (1996) and James Benning’s “Four Corners”(1998). His work has been screened at Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Harvard Film Archive, Camera Austria Symposium, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Tate Modern and Centre Pompidou. He received his MFA degree from UCLA in 1982 where he also taught at the School of Theater, Film and Television. Since 1989 Billy Woodberry is a faculty member of the School of Film/Video and the School of Art at the California Institute of the Arts.
Bless Their Little Hearts – Director / Producer / Editor Billy Woodberry – A key masterpiece of the L.A Rebellion, Bless Their Little Hearts distills the social concerns and aesthetics of that trailblazing movement in African American cinema. Billy Woodberry’s film showcases his attentive eye, sensitivity to the nuances of community and family, and the power of the blues. Searching for steady work, Charlie Banks (Nate Hardman) views his chronic unemployment as a kind of spiritual trial. But day work and selling a few catfish can’t sustain a family of five. While his wife, Andais (Kaycee Moore), works to support them with dignity, Charlie finds comfort for his wounded sense of manhood in an affair that threatens his marriage and family.At the heart of this devastatingly beautiful film is the couple’s agonizing confrontation – shot in one continuous ten-minute take – that ranks as “one of the great domestic cataclysms of modern movies.” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker) Named to the National Film Registry, Bless Their Little Hearts features contributions by two iconic American artists: Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep, To Sleep With Anger), who wrote and shot the film, and Kaycee Moore (Daughters of the Dust), whose powerful performance as Andais Banks remains a revelation. Film restoration by Ross Lipman with Billy Woodberry at UCLA Film & Television Archive. 2K Digital restoration by Re-Kino, Warsaw. English captions and Spanish subtitles.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM)is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. With more than two decades as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events such as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Big Screen Classics series in partnership with Fathom Events, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app. Fans can also enjoy a TCM curated classics experience on HBO Max.
Set in Los Angeles in 1998, PINK SKIES AHEAD follows Winona (Jessica Barden) who, after dropping out of college and moving back home to live with her parents, is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Skeptical of her doctor’s opinion — she hasn’t had a panic attack after all —Winona carries on with her wild lifestyle. Only when things begin to truly unravel around her, does she reluctantly decide to see a therapist and face her truths. PINK SKIES AHEAD showcases mental health issues in a nuanced and authentic way and is a featured part of MTV’s newly-launched Mental Health is Healthinitiative. PINK SKIES AHEADis Director Kelly Oxford’s feature-length directorial debut and is based on “No Real Danger,” an essay from her second book, “When You Find Out the World Is Against You.” PINK SKIES AHEAD stars Jessica Barden (End of the F***ing World, The New Romantic), Mary J. Blige (The Umbrella Academy), Devon Bostick (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River, Pollock), Michael McKean (Better Call Saul, This Is Spinal Tap), Lewis Pullman (Bad Times at the El Royale), Evan Ross Cameron (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Odeya Rush (Goosebumps, Lady Bird), Rosa Salazar (Alita: Battle Angel) and Henry Winkler (Barry). Writer and Director Kelly Oxford joins us for a lively conversation on making the jump from novelist / essayist to filmmaker and the role that media and storytelling can play in addressing our nation’s persistent and growing mental health challenges.
PINK SKIES AHEAD, written and directed by New York Times best-selling author Kelly Oxford, will premiere, commercial-free broadcast on Saturday, May 8 at 9:00PM ET/PT on MTV with a simulcast on Pop TV.
Director’s Statement – Pink Skies Ahead is loosely based on events that occurred when I was nineteen years old. It is a manifestation and reckoning with my own anxiety struggles. Purely out of self-protection, I’ve spent my life creating a firmly independent exterior surface that does not reflect my inner turmoil or compulsive and obsessive worried thoughts. As a forty-two-year-old woman, I’m still grappling with shame and denial of my own inner workings as an anxious person. The catharsis of writing and directing Pink Skies Ahead was a huge step in accepting myself. And I hope our film helps others feel less shame in their “not normal” feelings than I did. – Kelly Oxford
Books by Kelly Oxford
Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar
When You Find Out the World is Against You: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments
“The catchy title’s a clever way of saying “It gets better,” and in the end, that feels as true for Winona as it does for the high-potential writer-director who created her.”– Peter Debruge, Variety
“Kelly Oxford’s comedically-tinged fictionalized drama paints a staggeringly honest, raw and revelatory portrait that makes for an assured debut directorial feature.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction
“Pink Skies Ahead makes some major strides toward destigmatizing mental health disorders and therapeutic treatment, thanks to Oxford’s empathetic approach and the way she normalizes these experiences through the eyes of her protagonist.” – Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review
“The heartfelt, autobiographical elements in writer-director Kelly Oxford’s storytelling, coupled with an appealing and empathetic performance by Jessica Barden… provide a real understanding of mental health that so often escapes films and TV shows.” – Alonso Duralde, TheWrap
OLYMPIA is a sublimely intimate fly-on-the-wall verité documentary that tells a poignant story of a woman finding her own voice on her own terms to assert a gigantic creative force into the world. Rebelling against her suspicious Greek mother to assert her strong sexual drive, fighting the feeling she was “too ethnic” in Boston, and starting her own theatre company in New Jersey instead of waiting for the phone to ring, Olympia Dukakis models how to live life with blazing courage. Throughout an engrossing story that seamlessly blends past and present, she opens her heart and exposes her truest self to Harry Mavromichalis’ unobtrusive camera. The raw honesty with which Olympia leads us into the core of herself is what makes this film luminary. As fellow actors with whom she has shared the limelight Laura Linney, Diane Ladd, Whoopi Goldberg, and Armistead Maupin all testify, Olympia is “totally open and crazy”, which is what turns out to be the marker of her absolute sanity. OLYMPIA’s intimate portrait of a working class professional, a scholar actor of intuitive power, and a woman beloved around the world, culminates on the steps of the Dukakis’ humble ancestral home in Lesbos, Greece. Through her brutal honesty and sincerity, Olympia compels us to confront our own shortcomings and differences by letting go, and move forward with defiant conviction. Director Harry Mavromichalis takes a page from the Albert Maysles’ school of fly-on-the-wall verité documentary storytelling leaving the viewer with an appreciation of an artist becoming her own woman, on her own terms, primed to share her creative insights with the world.
About the filmmaker – Producer and Director Harry Mavromichalis – OLYMPIA is Harry Mavromichalis’ directorial feature documentary debut and he is currently in post-production for “Yankee Restraint”; a character driven piece that examines the intricacies of a gay relationship spanning decades and tackles issues of love and resentment. After a long career as a modern dancer with his own dance company in New York, he pursued a Masters in Film Directing from New York University. He wrote, directed and produced multiple short films, music videos and commercials. Curator of the inaugural LGBTQ Film Festival, Harry was a key organizer of the historic first-ever Pride Parade in Cyprus which attracted over 4,000 attendees.
About Olympia Dukakis – Born June 20, 1931 in Lowell, Massachusetts, the daughter of Greek immigrants, Dukakis earned two degrees from Boston University and worked as a physical therapist while pursuing a stage career. Olympia Dukakis won an Academy Award for her performance in Moonstruck, a role that also earned her a Golden Globe Award, American Comedy Award, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has appeared in more than 60 feature and short films, including Steel Magnolias, Cloudburst, Dad, Mr. Holland’s Opus, Working Girl, Look Who’s Talking I, II & III, Mighty Aphrodite, Jeffrey, Away From Her, among many others. Her television include : Big Driver, Sex & Violence, Forgive Me, Bored to Death, Last of the Blond Bombshells, Sinatra (Golden Globe Nominee), Joan of Arc (Emmy Nominee), Tales of the City, More Tales of the City (Emmy Nominee), Further Tales of the City among more than 40 others. She has performed in over 130 productions on and off-Broadway and regionally at theatres including the Public Theater, A.C.T., Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare & Co., and the Williamstown Theatre Festival, where she also served as Associate Director. She was a Founding member and Producing Artistic Director of the Whole Theatre in Montclair, NJ, for 19 years; also a founding member of the Actor’s Company and the Charles Playhouse in Boston. She continues to teach acting at NYU and master classes for professional theatre companies, colleges, and universities across the country. She was bestowed the National Arts Club Medal of Honor and her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was placed in 2013.
“It is a pleasure to spend time with Dukakis, who is always not just open to but hungry for revelation, growth, and connection, giving the documentary a deliciously buoyant quality.” – Nell Minow, RogerEbert.com
“Director Harry Mavromichalis, using extreme close-ups that caress the stunning, dramatic topography of [Dukakis’] face, eschews traditional narration and chases after the firebrand as she attends the unveiling of her star on the walk of fame.” – Andrea Simakis,Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Harry Mavromichalis’ Olympia delivers a deeply personal and philosophical documentary, following Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis over the course of several years.” – Grace Williams, Battle Royale With Cheese
“The documentary Olympia is a lot like the Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis herself — opinionated, funny, candid, foul-mouthed, sometimes rambling, but never boring.” – Carla Hay, Culture Mix
Tim Sutton’s menacing and hauntingly elegant film, FUNNY FACE,follows the stifling dread of a young Muslim woman, Zama (Dela Meskienyar), running away from her aunt and uncle’s house, desperate for a new life. She quickly finds that she must now navigate the peril of life on the street. A disturbed young man, Saul (Cosmo Jarvis) from Coney Island dons the menacing “Funny Face” mask, transforming himself into a makeshift superhero with a rage disorder as he seeks revenge on the Real Estate Developer, (Jonny Lee Miller) of a soulless high rise that has displaced his grandparents. Misfit avengers in a changing city, the two embark on a neighborhood odyssey that brings danger, love, and tragedy. And pickles. Director / Writer Tim Sutton (Memphis, Dark Knight, Donnybrook) joins us for a conversation on creating films that connect with viewers beyond traditional storytelling, filmmakers and films that inspire him, and how telling the story of Saul and Zama reflects his own anxiety about the hallowing out of his beloved New York City.
Tim Sutton’s menacing and hauntingly elegant film, FUNNY FACE, follows the stifling dread of a young Muslim woman, Zama (Dela Meskienyar), running away from her aunt and uncle’s house, desperate for a new life. She quickly finds that she must now navigate the peril of life on the street. A disturbed young man, Saul (Cosmo Jarvis) from Coney Island dons the menacing “Funny Face” mask, transforming himself into a makeshift superhero with a rage disorder as he seeks revenge on the Real Estate Developer, (Jonny Lee Miller) of a soulless high rise that has displaced his grandparents. Misfit avengers in a changing city, the two embark on a neighborhood odyssey that brings danger, love, and tragedy. And pickles. Director / Writer Tim Sutton (Memphis, Dark Knight, Donnybrook) joins us for a conversation on creating films that connect with viewers beyond traditional storytelling, filmmakers and films that inspire him, and how telling the story of Saul and Zama reflects his own anxiety about the hallowing out of his beloved New York City. For news and updates go to: gravitasventures.com/funny-face
“Genuinely otherworldly… a tender evocation of a New York City that is currently passing before its inhabitants’ eyes.” —Variety
“Haunting.” —Screen Daily
“A hypotensive urban fairy tale…of a New York borough imagined as a faraway land of rooftops and distant lights and corner bodegas where every day—every moment even—seems to start with ‘once upon a time.'” — The Playlist “Seductive.” —The Film Stage “Electric.” —Indiewire
JUMBO is the coming-of-age story of Jeanne, a shy young woman, lives at home with her uninhibited bartender mother and works the graveyard shift as a cleaner at an amusement park. Her mother wants her to meet a man, but Jeanne prefers tinkering in her bedroom with wires, light bulbs, and spare parts, creating miniature versions of theme park rides. During her late-night shifts she begins spending intimate time with the alluring new Tilt-A-Whirl ride that she decides to call JUMBO. Finding herself seduced by “his” red lights, smooth chrome, and oily hydraulics, Jeanne concludes that the thrilling new relationship she wants to pursue is with JUMBO. Director and writer Zoé Wittock (A demi-mot, Le Silence de l’Aube) joins us for a conversation on the challenging logistics of filming at amusement park, crafting a nuanced look at sexuality and social norms and the personal journey of the filmmaker in selecting the amazing Noemie Merlant for the role of Jeanne.
About the filmmaker – Zoe Wittock is an award winning writer and director. Originally hailing from Belgium, Zoé grew up living around the world and trained at the prestigious directing program of the American Film Institute (AFI), in Los Angeles, where she graduated the youngest and top of her class, while being awarded the “Hal and Robyn Berson” scholarship for excellence in directing. In France, she directed her last short film “A demi-mot”, broadcasted on OCS and Netflix, before making her feature film debut with “Jumbo” which went on to many selections around the world, including Sundance and the Berlinale, where she was awarded a prize in the Generation section. She was also a nominee for the Discovery Prize at the European Film Awards and was named in Hollywood Reporter’s list of the 20 female filmmakers to watch in 2020. As an active member of the SRF (French association of Film Authors), Zoe campaigns for greater equality in films, while advocating for the protection of author’s right in the ever-changing industry. For more go to: zoewittock.com
Director’s Statement – When I was still living in the United States, I stumbled upon an article describing the incredible story of Erika Labrie, an Olympic gold winner in archery, who got married to the Eiffel tower in 2004 and became Erika Eiffel. She was said to suffer from the “Objectum sexual” condition. It struck me as the most improbable story, but it encouraged me to think further: How did she become like that? What draws her to objects? How does she experience her love? When did she know? So I contacted her… Only to realize she was one of the most grounded people I had ever met. The contrast was fascinating. Satisfying ourselves within the confines of what we know can be very limiting. Being Belgian, I grew up with the influences of famous surrealist artists such as Magritte or Nougé who excelled at twisting reality and objects through extreme visuals, thus allowing for the unconscious to express itself. They gave new meanings to daily commodities, while revolutionizing our perception of traditional art and everyday preconceptions of life. The concept of falling in love with a landmark object may of course be hard to grasp at first, but this unconventionality is the mere reason that I chose to seek interest in this extraordinary coming of age story. Whilst providing a seductive and poetic adventure based on strong colorful visuals, I wanted to question what one defines as normal versus monstrous, at a time where I was personally questioning my own identity and place in this world. However if I were to undertake such a romance, I knew that had to use all the power that fiction had to offer. I ought to find the perfect object, one that would allow for the richest communication through sound, movement, lights or any other means available to the cinematographic language. Being particularly sensitive to my environment, I felt that an amusement park and its surroundings would be pivotal in setting the fantastical tone needed to believe and be moved by our character’s journey. Lyrically transporting you from one scene to the next, using humor in very dramatic moments, this film seeks to make a statement about tolerance and the freedom of one’s own choices. It is a modern take on love and its infinite possibilities. – Zoe Wittock
“Merlant’s writhing, fainting spells and intense gaze do well to communicate the intensity of desire and, although the film can sometimes be a dizzying attraction to climb on, Jumbo is certainly worth the ride.” – Adesola Thomas, Paste Magazine
“So will Jumbo take Jeanne’s heart for a ride? And should we object to her sexuality if she’s not hurting anyone? These questions, and more, abound in the out-there, but not-like-anything-else-out-there, “Jumbo.” – Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times
“First time writer-director Zoé Wittock takes an absurd idea and imbues it with such heart, soul, and beauty that you’ll automatically look past the inherent ridiculousness. Instead, you’ll simply absorb its glowing sense of wonder.” – Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle
“Jumbo, a unique and beautiful addition to the coming-of-age genre, gives us a tender exploration of a young woman’s journey of a first romance and discovering her sexuality along the way.” – Alysha Prasad, One Room With A View
In I BLAME SOCIETY Gillian (Gillian Wallace Horvat) is one of those many struggling filmmakers in L.A. who just can’t seem to get the money for their first feature. Feeling like her friends and her partner (Keith Poulson) are losing faith in her abilities, she decides to resurrect her abandoned documentary based on a pseudo-compliment she once received that she would make a good murderer. But while she documents what makes “the perfect murder” a hitherto unseen dark side of Gillian emerges and grows. Furthermore the problem with being a successful serial killer, she discovers, is keeping the whole thing stealth, denying her the recognition that she craves… and that unhinges her even more. After accidentally-ish killing her best friend (Chase Williamson), Gillian goes on a killing spree culminating with a final bloody act that nobody would dare deny her credit for. I BLAME SOCIETY is razor-sharp satire of the pitfalls of post-#MeToo culture in Los Angeles. Director, writer and lead actor Gillian Wallace Horvat (Kiss Kiss Fingerbang) joins us to talk about her gleefully disturbing feature film debut that delves into the psyche of a young woman trying to believe in her dreams and herself… and facing the darkness that lurks inside in this macabre Cinderella story.
About the filmmaker – Gillian Wallace Horvat is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker, writer, and film programmer. Her first short film, GUNPLAY, was a 2007 Wasserman Semi-Finalist and the only film to ever receive a disclaimer for graphic content at NYU Tisch’s First Run Film Festival. KISS KISS FINGERBANG, starring Anton Yelchin, Kate Lyn Sheil, and Buck Henry was awarded the Jury Prize in the Midnight Shorts category at the 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival; it later premiered online as a Vimeo Staff Pick. Miriam Bale wrote in Indiewire that. Gillian is one of “the most exciting American indie filmmakers I can think of.” Her films have screened in festivals around the world including SXSW, Fantasia, Palm Springs International Short Film Festival, Maryland Film Festival, Yale University, and many others. Gillian also produced A FULLER LIFE, a documentary on the life and films of director Samuel Fuller that premiered at the 2013 Venice Film Festival. Recently she has produced documentary shorts for Arrow Films, Kino Lorber, and Olive Films, working on projects ranging from an AMERICAN NINJA box set to Orson Welles’ MACBETH. She is also a guest columnist for Filmmaker Magazine and her writing has appeared in Sight & Sound.
“I Blame Society is a pretty startling and original film. Writer-director-star Horvat explores the dark comedy genre on her own terms, and has the courage to keep upping the ante – right until the very end.” – Frank J. Avella, Edge Media Network
“In some ways, I totally believe that you have to be at least a little bit insane to want to follow an artistic career path. I Blame Society takes that ball and runs with it to a successfully awesome finish line.” – Lorry Kikta, Film Threat
“Writer/director/actress/mischievous malcontent Gillian Wallace Horvat’s I Blame Society is a wry, anarchic mockumentary that will almost immediately turn some people all the way the hell off. Pity those poor, incorrect fools.” – Ryan Syrek, The Reader (Omaha, NE)
“The originality of story and filmmaking is a sight to see, and its narrative is an exquisite example of how quickly the thin line between reality and art can blur.” – Stephanie Archer, Film Inquiry
Based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel, DAYS OF THE BAGNOLD SUMMER is a funny yet sweet coming-of-age story about single motherhood and Metallica.Daniel (Earl Cave) was supposed to spend the summer with his dad and his dad’s new wife in Florida, but when his dad cancels the trip Daniel and his mom, Sue, (Monica Dolan) suddenly face the prospect of six long weeks together. An epic war of wills ensues in their suburban home as Daniel just wants to listen to heavy metal and start a band while his mom hopes to rekindle the fun times they used to have together. Featuring original songs by Belle and Sebastian. Director Simon Bird joins us for a conversation on his beautifully rendered tale of a sullen, insecure teen and his effervescent single mom doing her best to keep moving forward in a world that is pelting her with cheap shots and exasperating insults.
About the filmmaker – Director Simon Bird’s first short film, Ernestine and Kit, premiered at South By Southwest, and was nominated for Best Short at the Irish Film and Television Awards. Previously, Simon has worked as a stand-up comedian, writer, producer, and actor. As a writer, he created The King Is Dead for the BBC and co-created Chickens for Sky, which was nominated for Best Sitcom at the Broadcast Awards. As a producer, he set up Guilty Party Pictures, a TV and film production company backed by RED and Studiocanal. Guilty Party has produced content for Channel 4, Sky and the BBC, and recently wrapped on How Europe Stole My Mum, an original TV show for Channel 4, to air later this year. As an actor, Simon has starred in five series of Rose D’Or-winning sitcom Friday Night Dinner. The sixth series shoots later this year. He is perhaps best known as Will McKenzie from Channel 4’s BAFTA-winning sitcom THE INBETWEENERS, THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE, which is the highest-grossing comedy film ever in the UK, and THE INBETWEENERS 2, which had the highest-grossing opening weekend of any film in the UK in 2014. Simon has won multiple British Comedy Awards and been nominated for a BAFTA and Royal Television Society award for acting.
“Far closer in spirit to the lighter works of Mike Leigh than the broader material that made him a well known figure in British comedy, Bird’s debut is innately humanistic, with cross-generational appeal.” – Alistair Ryder, Film Inquiry
The animated short film based on her own childhood experience in Wuhan China, WINDUP, tells the story of a father trying to stay connected with his unconscious daughter through music. He plays a windup music box and hopes she can hear it while fighting with his own emotions to stay strong. Meanwhile, his daughter follows the melody in her dreams and looks for a way back. WINDUPis a nine-minute animated short written and directed by an emergingfemale Chinese filmmaker Yibing Jiang, and Animation DirectorJason Keane. Keanehas a long family legacy in animation, which includes, his grandfather Bill Keane (Family Circus comics) and his uncles Jeff Keane; and Glenn Keane,(The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan, and Tangled). WINDUP was also a collaboration with artists working remotely from around the world, created in real-time with Unity. At a time when we are feeling isolated, craving connection and preoccupied with the health and well-being of loved ones, the theme of the film is an uplifting and universal one that highlights the fragile nature of life, love, resiliency and the healing power of music, told through the eyes of a father and the special bond he shares with his ailing young daughter. Director Yibing Jiang and Artistic Director Jason Keane stop by to talk about their work and vision for this heartwarming and beautiful animated film.
LAPSIS is a smart, funny, slyly suffocating look into a parallel present, delivery man Ray Tincelli (Dean Imperial) is struggling to support himself and his ailing younger brother. After a series of two-bit hustles and unsuccessful swindles, Ray takes a job in a strange new realm of the gig economy: trekking deep into the forest, pulling cable over miles of terrain to connect large, metal cubes that link together the new quantum trading market. As he gets pulled deeper into the zone, he encounters growing hostility and the threat of robot cablers, and must choose to either help his fellow workers or to get rich and get out. What he doesn’t expect is to be pulled into a conspiracy involving hostile cablers, corporate greed, and the mysterious LAPSIS who may have previously owned his permit. Director / writer / editor Noah Hutton joins us for a conversation on his unique vision of the near future, quasi-syfy world, relationships, family and cabling.
About the filmmaker – Noah Hutton is a writer and director of documentary and narrative films. He wrote and directed the sci-fi feature Lapsis, which premiered in the narrative feature competition at SXSW 2020 and was acquired by Film Movement for theatrical release in 2021. In 2020 he completed In Silico, a ten-year documentary begun in 2009 and supported by Sandbox Films and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation about a ten-year project to simulate the human brain on supercomputers. Previously he directed the documentary features Deep Time (SXSW 2015) and Crude Independence (SXSW 2009). For more about Noah Hutton and his films go to: couple3films.com
“Hutton’s inventive storytelling weaves a clever web throughout….” – Andrew Osborne, Culture Vulture
“An ingenious social satire wrapped inside an intelligent sci-fi parable.” – Rob Aldam, Backseat Mafia
“Lapsis lives on the central performance by Dean Imperial as Ray, and that life is undoubtedly vibrant and complex.” – Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle “A world away from the clichés of popular science fiction, this is the real thing.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“…entertainingly original…. This tale of a floundering gig-economy worker straddles both the bleak present-tense reality of Ken Loach’s “Sorry We Missed You” and the subversive near-future political satire of Boots Riley’s “Sorry to Bother You” while arriving at a whimsical critique all its own.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
January 12-24 2021, Highways, the legendary Los Angeles Performance Space and Gallery presents its Second Annual Film Maudit 2.0 festival showcasing and celebrating new outré, unusual and startling films. The festival will feature over 125 works of cinema from 25 countries including films rarely if ever, seen in festivals: works addressing socio-political issues and taboo subject matter that challenges conventional artistic assumptions and sexual mores.Virtual, online screenings of 18 feature films, 21 shorts programs, specially commissioned programs, and new film scored performed by artists who reflect the diversity of Los Angeles. Included are a range of narrative, documentary and experimental films that are deliberately bold, extreme, confrontational and unusual. Film Maudit 2.0 highlights this year include the U.S. premieres of Feature Films:Mathius Marvellous Shop, a Spanish/German surrealistic satire;Kriya, a magical Indian thriller, and the Los Angeles premieres of Woman of the Photographs; a powerful Japanese film about image and reality for a beautiful model; The Columnist, a darkly comic horror film from The Netherlands; A Dark, Dark Man, the Kazakhstan/France thriller just long-listed for the Golden Globes; and Darkness (Buio)the first feature film by Donatello Award-winning director Emanuela Rossi. Other special programs include a special fundraising screening of erotic art pioneers Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens’ Water Makes Us Wet, featuring a live stream Q&A with both; new, original music scores performed live to silent films, and multiple Feature and Shorts Programs that showcase works from 25 countries in 16 uniquely curated categories from ‘Ms. Fear’ to ‘Shattering Form’ – with animated documentaries to experimental works handmade on film; extreme horror to comic surrealism. There is a special focus on works in Film Maudit’s BEHOLD section, which includes NSFW! curated by Planet Queer, Hi Kicks Entrails, curated by performance artist Ironstone, and QLX: the Performance of Queer Latinx.
Film Maudit 2.0 festival is inspired by French avant-garde filmmaker and writer Jean Cocteau who created the original Festival du Film Maudit (literally “cursed films”) in 1949 aiming to celebrate overlooked, shocking and experimental films. Film Maudit 2.0, in its 2nd year, showcases a counter-cinema will blend of narrative, documentary and experimental films that in their style and/or subject matter, are deliberately bold, extreme, confrontational, troubling, shocking and/or unusual. The festival is funded in part by the California Arts Council, Los Angeles County Department of Cultural Affairs and the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs CAP Program.
About HIGHWAYS – Film Maudit 2.0 is co-presented by and takes place at Southern California’s boldest center for new performance and media arts, Highways Performance Space & Gallery in Santa Monica, CA. In its 31st year, Highways continues to be an important alternative cultural center in Los Angeles that encourages radical artists from diverse communities to develop and present innovative new works. Described by the Los Angeles Times as “a hub of experimental theater, dance, solo drama and other multimedia performance,” Highways promotes the development of contemporary socially involved artists and art forms. Under the helm of Executive Director, Leo Garcia, Highways has received funding and support from organizations such as the The James Irvine Foundation, Metabolic Studio, California Community Foundation, Liberty Hill Foundation, The Warhol Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Roy Cockrum Foundation. Leo Garcia is an award-winning playwright, filmmaker, visual artist and actor who has produced over 800 performance works as Artistic Director-turned-Executive Director of Highways since 2003. highwaysperformance.org
Mickey Reece’s mind-bending latest film, CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER immerses us inhttps://youtu.be/vOT3l77LTZc the story of two sisters, Alma and Elizabeth, along with a dog who’s described as a “philosopher,” have come to Alma’s remote house to reconnect with Wesley after twenty years. Alma is recently divorced, Elizabeth is a workaholic in Washington, D.C., while Wesley lives in Paris dealing with a wife recently struck with a fatal disease. When the three come together for dinner it has all the makings of a lovely adult melodrama about loneliness, and the desire to connect and share our lives with someone… but we must add to the mix one otherworldly piece of information: Wesley could be a vampire. CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER stars Ginger Gilmartin, Mary Buss, Ben Hall, Danielle Evon Ploeger, Laurie Cummings, and Jacob Ryan Snovel. Director Mickey Reece (Arrows of Outrageous Fortune, Mono) joins us to talk about his shadowy slow-burn, stylized cinematic mind-f**k of a story.
“Climate of the Hunter never sacrifices its smarts for fun (or vice versa), but with its dazzling visuals and hypnotic descent downwards into a seemingly inevitable chaos, the film’s delights are ultimately as sensorial as they are intellectual” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ Women on Film
“Climate of the Hunter captures the 1970s perfectly and crafts a beautiful film filled with a central mystery that builds in every revelation.” – Amanda Mazzillo, Film Inquiry
“Climate of the Hunter is for anybody who, when dining out, feels compelled to try (and hopes to love) the weirdest item on the menu.” – Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com
“This weird little slice of vampire movies is definitely not your average bloodfest. It’s odd and dreamlike and one of my favorite films I’ve seen so far this year. So give it a shot!” – Lorry Kikta, Film Threat
Based on Richard Schinnow’s screenplay,TWO WAYS HOME compassionately follows Kathy (Tanna Frederick), a woman newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder who is released from prison on good behavior and returns to her country home in Iowa to reconnect with her estranged 12-year-old daughter (Rylie Behr) and her cantankerous elderly grandfather (Tom Bower). Her return home is turbulent and a rough, unwelcome transition in which Kathy must come to terms with her diagnosis and its implications on her identity, while also realizing that her family was happier when she was gone. As she struggles to maintain balance with her condition, complications with her daughter’s well-being and her grandfather’s health test her sense of self-worth to the limit. TWO WAYS HOME masterfully showcases Iowa’s small town beauty and sympathetically highlights the importance of mental wellness and self-discovery. Director Ron Vignone and actor / producer Tanna Frederick join us to talk about their collaboration in the making of a film that features a person dealing with a mental illness without making it the only thing we should care about in TWO WAYS HOME.
Tanna Frederick is an Actress, Producer, and Environmental Activist. She has starred in six feature films with film iconoclast Henry Jaglom, and has won numerous Best Actress awards on the festival circuit. Method Fest named her “One to Watch”; she has received the CineCause Award, the University of Iowa’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival’s Maverick Award. Tanna alongside director Randal Kleiser (Grease) created and launched DEFROST, a revolutionary virtual reality experience, premiering at Sundance and Cannes. She is the founder of ProjectSaveOurSurf.org hosting monthly beach cleanups and a camp, which has reached thousands of displaced youth in Southern California and Mexico, educating them on environmental issues in our oceans.
Ron Vignone is an award-winning director whose filmmaking revolves around issues that are deeply personal and important in his life. Two Ways Home, his latest effort, is an edgy slice of Americana about a woman living with bipolar condition who aims to reunite with her estranged teenage daughter in their sleepy Iowa hometown. “Taking the shame out of our conditions” was a theme that drew Ron to making Two Ways Home. A graduate of the University of Southern California, Vignone’s work as a filmmaker has focused on protagonists who embark on a physical journey while struggling with their deeply conflicted interiors. Ron’s inspirations come from compromising situations while traveling, his family, great literature, and strong Italian coffee.
TWO WAYS HOME has been officially endorsed by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
“TWO WAYS HOME… makes for a thoughtful, warm journey back to a place a lot of Americans will recognize, even those of us who moved away.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
‘”TWO WAYS HOME makes a valuable contribution to the public understanding of mental health issues and to reduce stigma surrounding them…” – Mitzi Wright, National Alliance on Mental Illness (LA, California chapter)
“With star Tanna Frederick producing, Two Ways Home was directed by Ron Vignone and filmed in Iowa. They found the right mix: one false move in any direction and the tone could have gone off the rails into hopeless Hallmark-channel schmaltz, or incomprehensible chaos. Amazingly, Frederick and Vignone masterfully created a moving film that pulls no punches while compassionately exploring life with mental illness.” – FIlm Threat
“One actress and film that stood out to us is Tanna Frederick from Two Ways Home. Tanna Frederick is captivating, raw, and lights up the screen. Frederick’s performance also provokes intense emotion from the audience. You find yourself rooting for her character, Kathy, who is fighting hard to put her family back together. Tanna Frederick is an incredibly gifted actress.” – GEMMA
“TWH will make a significant difference in people’s lives and is a powerful tool to further families’ understanding and education about bi-polar illness.” – Yin Simpson, National Alliance on Mental Illness (Minneapolis, MN chapter)
Tandem Pictures is a leader in conceiving and implementing eco-sustainable filmmaking practices in the indie film space,with all of their productions following Environmental Media Association standards and the Producers Guild’s Green Best Practices. They’re also an advocate for how these practices – from using hybrid vehicles on set, to having the sound and camera teams use rechargeable batteries, to composting and using metal straws – can and should be adopted industry-wide. Female owned and operated, it is Tandem’s mission is to bring female talent and narratives to the forefront. They embrace female-centric storytelling, and pride themselves on the fact that the casts and crews of their films are composed of underserved and underrepresented minority groups, LGBTQIA, and women.tandempictures.com
JULIE CHRISTEAS – Tandem Pictures – Founder, Chief Executive Officer Julie’s recent films include BLACK BEAR (Sundance 2020) starring Aubrey Plaza, Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon which will be released later this year by eOne/Momentum and THE SURROGATE (SXSW 2020/Monument Releasing) . She also executive produced the cult horror favorite THE EYES OF MY MOTHER (Sundance 2016/Magnet Releasing), MONOGAMY (Best NY Narrative, Tribeca Film Festival 2010), the feature doc DUKALE’S DREAM starring Hugh Jackman, and GHOST TEAM starring Jon Heder, David Krumholtz, Justin Long, Amy Sedaris and Melonie Diaz. Previously she produced BLOOD STRIPE (Jury Prize for Best Narrative Film, LA Film Festival 2016), WILDLIKE starring Bruce Greenwood and Brian Geraghty (HIFF), and THE SLEEPWALKER starring Christopher Abbott and Brady Corbet (Sundance 2014/IFC).
JONATHAN BLITSTEIN – Tandem Pictures – Co-owner, Chief Operating Officer Jonathan’s most recently produced the acclaimed films THE SURROGATE, and BLACK BEAR (SUNDANCE, EOne/Universal release) starring Aubrey Plaza. Prior to Tandem he worked in production and branded entertainment for Vudu, Sony and Disney, supporting Fortune 500 Brands such as Walmart, Sprint and Covergirl. At Oracle (formerly CrowdTwist), he initiated the creation of Marvel Studios’ first nationwide fan loyalty program Marvel Insider. In his early career, he made two micro-budget feature films LET THEM CHIRP AWHILE and ANOTHER KIND which both premiered at the Woodstock Film Festival which were distributed on Netflix and VOD. Early career roles include marketing arthouse films such as Park Chan Wook’s OLD BOY, and Noah Baumbach’s SQUID AND THE WHALE.
In Massoud Bakhshi’s riveting new film, Yalda – A Night for Forgiveness, Maryam is a 22-year-old woman, who has been sentenced to death for murdering her 65-year-old husband, Nasser. Iranian law allows for the victim’s family to forgive her and spare her life, so Maryam’s fate will be decided by Nasser’s daughter, Mona, 37, on the country’s most popular televised reality show. In front of millions of viewers during Yalda, the winter solstice celebration, Maryam and Mona discover that forgiveness can be difficult as they relive the past. Director and screenwriter Massoud Bakhshi brings aesthetic energy and dramatic intensity to a story that unfolds over a few hours and almost entirely within the studio. Compelled by the social complexities of contemporary Iran, Bakhshi started as a documentary filmmaker, during which time he met several women who had murdered their husbands. Their stories stayed with him as he developed this powerful exploration of women characters. Although Maryam and Mona are condemned in some way and subject to Iran’s profound patriarchy, they find agency, moral authority, and freedom within those confines. Winner of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness elucidates Iran’s vibrant, modern identity alongside its deeply traditional culture.
About the filmmaker – Born in Tehran, Iran, in 1972, Massoud Bakhshi has worked as film critic, scriptwriter and producer, before making 12 documentaries and short films which were awarded internationally. His first feature film A Respectable Family was selected at Cannes Film Festival 2012 (Quinzaine des réalisateurs). Yalda, a night for forgiveness is his second feature film, selected at the World Cinema Dramatic Competition Sundance Film Festival 2020 and at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival Generation 14+ Competition 2020.
2020 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL – GRAND JURY PRIZE World Cinema Dramatic Competition
KING OF KNIVES tells the story of Frank and Kathy who are baby boomer parents and Sadie & Kaitlin, their millennial daughters. Frank is screaming towards a mid-life crisis. Kathy pretends she’s happy and doesn’t drink that much wine. Sadie is the good child; convinced her first and only boyfriend is the one to marry. Kaitlin is the rebel, the entertainer; the truth teller who will not filter how she’s feeling. Over three days, with much drama and humor, this crap-happy family careens and skids straight towards a fateful anniversary. On the way, they realize they are more alike than they know. KING OF KNIVES, co-written by Lindsay Joy & Gene Pope and directed Jon Delgado, has earned critical acclaim from audiences who have been lucky enough to see the film. It has also won awards from numerous festivals including “Best Narrative Feature Film” at the Williamsburg International Film & Music Competition, “Best Feature & Lead Actress” at the Milan World Cinema Festival, and seven Platinum awards including “Winner Narrative Feature” at the International Independent Film Awards. Producer and lead actor Gene Pope joins us for a lively conversation on his own mid-life reckoning that inspired the film, his role in front of and behind the camera, what his theatre background brought to the project and working with a cast that includes Mel Harris.
KING OF KNIVES is a Gravitas Ventures release that is available on VOD and Digital platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, Fandango Now and all major cable/satellite platforms on Tuesday, December 1.
Josh Duhamel (Transformers) stars in this wild and hilarious, no-holds-barred comedy. After six lifelong friends have a five year falling out, Bob (Duhamel), aka “The Bobfather”, reunites his pals for the Buddy Games, an insane competition of absurd physical and mental challenges with the chance to win a $150,000 pot. Now all bets are off, as the determined dudes fight, claw, and party for the big bucks in this star-studded bro-fest featuring Dax Shepard (CHiPs), Olivia Munn (Office Christmas Party) and Kevin Dillon (“Entourage”). Director / Producer / Co-screenwriter Josh Duhamel stops by to talk about collaborating on the script and the actual “Buddy”games with Bob Schwartz and Jude Weng, pulling together a great comedic cast and discovering a love for directing his own projects.
Director’s Statement – At its core, BUDDY GAMES is a comedy, but it is also an homage to the lifelong friendships I’ve built. For many years, my friends and I have had an annual weekend of games and debauchery – everything from classic ping pong competitions to naked paintball (right off the bat, I can tell you that this is like nothing anyone has ever seen from me before). The concept always seemed like a great premise for a movie, and while I’ve always wanted to direct, I knew that the best way to start that journey in my career was to write something myself. So, I sat down with Bob Schwartz (the real life “Bobfather”) and Jude Weng to write a script based on the shenanigans that my buddies and I have done for over 20 years. My hope is that BUDDY GAMES not only shocks people and makes them curl over with laughter, but that it also resonates with people when they think of their own group of buddies, the crazy situations they find themselves in, and how much more important those friendships become as we get older. I couldn’t be more grateful for the insanely talented cast and crew who really helped tell this story. As is the goal for the audience, I think that everyone involved in this project was able to draw upon their own personal relationships, relish in the camaraderie, and have a hell of a lot of fun thinking about beating their best buddies in the ultimate competition that would win them bragging rights for life. – Josh Duhamel
In his follow-up to the acclaimed debut feature film, The Giant, Johannes Nyholm’s Koko-Di Koko-Da recounts the story of Elin and Tobias, a happily married couple who regularly vacation with their young daughter. The family is on a dreamy holiday when an innocuous case of food poisoning derails their plans and forever alters the course of their lives.Three years later, the once loving couple is on the road again to go camping, looking for one last chance to go back to the way things used to be. But what once was is lost, and our characters instead find themselves having to relive the same nightmarish events, as that day and the horrors it brings repeat themselves infinitely. Together, they must overcome their trauma, reconcile with their past and fight for their lives. Over, and over, and over again.Discerned through a dreamlike fabric, a story emerges about relationships in general, grief and reconciliation in particular, and love as a healing force. Director Johannes Nyholm stops by to talk about the mind-bending, Federico Fellini meets Rod Sterling mise-en-scène inhabiting this profoundly passive-aggressive tale of trauma, loss and truly terrible camping strategies.
Director’s Statement – The setting is those wee hours of the morning when dreams are at their most relentlessly untamed. This is also when the seed for many of my films comes to me. I’m sweating, struggling to go back to sleep and plagued by scattered thoughts. Suddenly they come together, leading me into a fairy tale. I write it down and then I can sleep. “Koko-di Koko-da” was both written and takes place during such a time – this nightmarish landscape between wakefulness and sleep. The film is deeply personal and a means to confront my own worst fears, much like the way the characters in the film are forced to confront theirs. It’s a universal narrative about a relationship that is falling apart. The main reason for making this film is that I’m fascinated by the everyday situations and power struggles lurking beneath the surface in relationships; what is not said, what is embedded between the lines. The love and happiness they once shared has evaporated, and so has the care they used to show for each other. Over and over again, we see them pushed yet again onto the same stage, the open glen in the woods, and into the airless tent. We observe them from above, like gladiators clashing repeatedly, without any opportunity to escape – be it from their tormenters or from each other. They are forced to confront each other, to display emotions, to be pushed around, humiliated, spat upon, tormented; in short – to be together. Any attempts to get away inevitably lead back to the same claustrophobic scenario. Made up of dreams, this story is also structurally constructed like a dream – or more specifically, a nightmare. Taking us through a labyrinth in time, like a dark grinding thought, never letting go, stuck on repeat. Presenting minor variations, but always with the same horrific outcome. – Johannes Nyholm
“Johannes Nyholm follows up his masterful debut, 2016’s The Giant, with this often inexplicable yet increasingly captivating endeavor…” – David Nusair, Reel Film Reviews
“Though at times tasteless and barely coherent, the story is oddly affecting, the very strangeness of Nyholm’s folkloric vision and its unnerving execution pulling you in.” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
“It works as a parable for what happens to grief when it is left un-exorcised and unexpressed.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
“Writer-director Johannes Nyholm (The Giant, 2016) takes all the grief, loss and bitter recriminations of this Swedish couple and drops them into the realm of myth, dream and folklore.” – Anton Bitel, Sight and Sound
What started out as an inside joke amongst two self-proclaimed weirdos in Ft. Worth, Texas soon becomes much more than they bargained for when they decide to turn their conservative southern ideology on its head and invent a new religion all their own and all is chronicled in the rousing new documentary, J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius. The film features appearances from Church devotees Richard Linklater, Penn Jillette and Nick Offerman. The Church of the SubGenius has been called “the most aggressively preposterous theology the world has ever known!” But what is the Church? And who is J.R. “Bob” Dobbs? And why is his name always in quotes? Filmmaker Sandy K. Boone explores the underground movement that has galvanized the imaginative, the artistic, the nerdy, even the deranged – to examine the simmering dystopia in their culture, and do absolutely nothing about it… except, maybe, poke fun at it all. Director Sandy K. Boone and co-founder Dr. Philo Drummond (Reverend Ivan Stang) join us for a lively conversation on how the Church’s subversive and deliberately chaotic anti-dogma was unleashed on an unsuspecting world of pinks and normals.
Director Statement – My late husband, filmmaker David Boone, and I moved to Austin in the early 1980s to join the film department at the University of Texas, write scripts, make films and raise our family. The Austin Chronicle was a new venture back then and the original TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE was just being filmed. Austin was being called The Third Coast by longtime friends: directors Jonathan Demme and John Sayles, and singer-songwriter David Byrne of the Talking Heads.In fact it was David’s film INVASION OF THE ALUMINUM which first caught the attention of Jonathan Demme, who went on the present it and five other Austin films at the Collective for Living Cinema in 1981 in New York. Three decades later, INVASION had become a Texas cult classic and I proudly produced a restoration of the film as part of JONATHAN DEMME PRESENTS: MADE IN TEXAS – SIX FILMS FROM AUSTIN, which premiered at SXSW in 2015. At that screening, Richard Linklater shared that seeing the MIT films years earlier at an art gallery screening in Houston actually inspired his move to Austin. In recent years I have co-founded several Austin based film companies with a shared mission to encourage local indie filmmakers, foster creative talent, and perpetuate a sense of community through filmmaking. Diving deeper into the world of film, I served as an associate producer on RICHARD LINKLATER – DREAM IS DESTINY, which premiered at Sundance in 2016. I then went on to executive produce films such as Ethan Hawke’s BLAZE, Karen Skloss’ THE HONOR FARM, and Keith Maitland’s Emmy winning documentary, TOWER. Currently I’ve just wrapped directing and producing my first feature documentary, J.R. “BOB” DOBBS AND THE CHURCH OF THE SUBGENIUS, a look inside the Church of the SubGenius, of which my late husband was an early disciple.
WINNER – Grand Jury Award, Texas Feature (DIFF 2019)
WINNER – Best International Documentary (MDFF 2019)
WINNER – Best Documentary Feature (Blow-Up Filmfest Chicago 2019)
“Boone gives us both a nostalgic account on this underground movement and how their sci-fi inspired dystopia applies to each decade of history, up till today, where the documentary earns its whole-hearted earnestness.” – Alex Lines,Film Inquiry
“J.R. “Bob” Dobbs and the Church of the SubGenius captures a period in history when rebelling against the boundaries of reality could still be a positively charged, life-altering experience.” – Cheryl Eddy, io9.com
“This (mostly) playful, always thoughtful documentary is an unusual cautionary tale about what happens when society abandons absurdity as release and distraction.” – Andrea Chase, Killer Movie Reviews
“A wild, an engrossing look at a fascinating sliver of off-the-wall Americana, a minor religious movement that just sort of happened while two friends were messing around.” – Brent McKnight, The Last Thing I See
From Kim A. Snyder, director of the Peabody Award-winning documentary Newtown, comes Us Kids, an insightful, rousing coming-of-age story of a generation of youth leaders determined to take the reins and fight for justice at a most critical time in our nation’s history. Sparked by the plague of gun violence ravaging their schools, Us Kids, chronicles the March For Our Lives movement from the point of view of Emma González, David Hogg, Samantha Fuentes and the expansive coalition of teenage activists involved over the course of several years as they pull off the largest youth protest in American history and set out across the country to build an inclusive and unprecedented youth movement that addresses racial justice, a growing public health crisis, and shocks a political system into change. Director Kim A. Snyder joins us for a conversation on the historic progress made by the reluctant activists who dramatically change the perception that young people should “wait there turn” in terms of affecting the course of politics in America and the world.
Get Involved – US KIDS is kicking off its launch with the just-announced Vote With Us Virtual Rally, a national GOTV campaign with the focus to educate, motivate & mobilize young people and communities of color to vote early. The event will take place on Saturday, October 24, at 3 p.m. ET/Noon PT, streaming at www.votewith.us and simulcast across YouTube and more. Ahead of its theatrical release on October 30, never-before-seen clips from the film will be shown throughout the rally, alongside performances, appearances and support by the film’s subjects, Lisa Bonet, Sherry Cola, Common, Andra Day, Candice Dupree, Emma González, David Hogg, Vic Mensa, Renee Montgomery, Mark Ruffalo, and Bria Smith.
About the filmmaker – Kim Snyder’s most recent feature documentary, Us Kids premiered in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2020 Sundance competition. Prior, she directed the Peabody award-winning documentary Newtown, which premiered in the US Competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Newtown screened at premiere festivals worldwide and was theatrically released followed by a national broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens and Netflix. Her most recent short, Lessons from a School Shooting: Notes from Dunblane, premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival and was awarded Best Documentary Short followed by the DocDispatch Award at the 2018 Sheffield DocFest and a Grierson Award nomination. Lessons… is a Netflix Original and is streaming in 196 countries. Snyder’s prior works include the feature documentary, Welcome to Shelbyville, nationally broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens in 2011, and over a dozen short documentaries. Kim’s award-winning directorial debut feature documentary, I Remember Me was theatrically distributed by Zeitgeist Films. In 1994, she associate-produced the Academy Award-winning short film Trevor. Kim graduated with a Masters in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and resides in New York City.