Far East Deep South – Director Larissa Lam and Producer Baldwin Chiu

As America currently deals with a rash of anti-Asian sentiment, FAR EAST DEEP SOUTH is a deeply moving story that offers a poignant perspective on race relations, immigration and the deep roots of Chinese Americans in our national identity. The award-winning documentary follows Charles Chiu and his family (including his son, producer Baldwin Chiu, and daughter-in-law, director Larissa Lam) as they travel from California to Mississippi to find answers about Charles’ father, K.C. Lou. A retired Air Force reservist, Charles was left behind in China as a baby and is reluctant to discuss his family’s complicated past with his sons, Baldwin and Edwin. The family’s emotional journey to a place they’ve never seen leads to stunning revelations and a crash course on the surprising history of Chinese immigrants in the segregated South. Through encounters with local residents who remember K.C., as well as interviews with historians, Congresswoman Judy Chu and others, the family’s trip becomes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for discovery and healing. FAR EAST DEEP SOUTH is based off the award-winning short film, Finding Cleveland. The film presents a very personal and unique perspective on immigration, race and American identity. Director Larissa Lam and producer Baldwin Chiu join us for a conversation on how a family trip and personal film project evolved into a revelatory story and sweeping historical overview of the immigrant Chinese experience and deeply moving family saga.

 

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For news and updates go to: Far East Deep South.com.

FAR EAST DEEP SOUTH premieres on the WORLD Channel documentary series America ReFramed on Tuesday, May 4, 2021, 8:00 p.m. EST (check local listings). It will also be available to stream on WORLDchannel.org, PBS.org and the PBS Video app beginning at time of broadcast on May 4 and throughout May in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

About the filmmaker – Larissa Lam, Director, Writer and Producer, is making her feature film directorial debut with the documentary Far East Deep South. The film has won garnered awards at numerous film festivals including CAAMFest, Cinequest, Oxford Film Festival and Seattle Asian American Film Festival. She previously directed the acclaimed short documentary Finding Cleveland, which is the basis for Far East Deep South. She has produced TV shows such as “Top 3” for JCTV, music videos and other short form videos such as “A Day in the Life of an Engineer” for Intel’s Stay With It campaign. She was part of a distinguished group of filmmakers invited to be part of the Smithsonian’s History Film Forum Emerging Filmmakers Lab. In addition to directing Far East Deep South, Lam is an award-winning singer and songwriter who has released four critically acclaimed solo albums, including her most recent, Love and Discovery. Her song, “I Feel Alive” won the Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Dance Song and was the theme song for a national suicide prevention campaign. Lam began her career as the Chief Financial Officer of NSOUL Records and has written & produced music for TV (The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Oz, E!, TLC), film (Zulu, Gone) and video games (Konami, Square Enix). Lam is passionate about empowering and inspiring others through film, music and speaking engagements. A dynamic speaker, she has spoken on diversity and inclusion, the Asian American experience among other topics at TEDx, Leadercast and numerous universities such as Yale, UCLA and MIT.  For nine years, Lam hosted a talk show on JCTV interviewing prominent authors, humanitarians and celebrities. Currently, she hosts the podcast, “Love, Discovery and Dim Sum“, which she co-hosts with her husband, Baldwin Chiu. She is a native of Diamond Bar, CA and graduated UCLA with a degree in Business Economics.

About the filmmaker – Producer Baldwin Chiu and his family are the subjects of Far East Deep South and he teamed up with his wife, Larissa Lam, to produce the film. The film will make its national broadcast debut on “America Reframed” on World Channel (PBS) in May 2021. His family’s story has previously been featured on NBC News and NPR among other media outlets. He is a graduate of the ACT One film producing program, and he previously produced the award-winning documentary short, Finding Cleveland. He was born in San Francisco and raised in Sacramento, where he later graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a degree in mechanical engineering.

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“Informative and compelling. A poignant American story that lingers with you even after it’s finished.“ – Lauren Tuck, Creative Executive, Harpo Films.

“This documentary, with the feel of family drama, will impact you & even move you to tears.” – Pratibha Kelapure, The Literary Nest

“A gorgeous and moving story that unveils an important part of American history.” – Edward Douglas, The Weekend Warrior

Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street – Director Marilyn Agrelo

STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET takes audiences inside the minds and hearts of the “Sesame Street” creators, artists, writers, and educators who together established one of the most influential and enduring children’s programs in television history. Inspired by the activism of the late 1960s, socially conscious television executive Joan Ganz Cooney and Sesame Workshop co-founder Lloyd Morrisett conducted a revolutionary experiment: to harness the burgeoning power of television and create an educational, impactful, uplifting and entertaining show that could reach children nationwide, especially those living in urban areas. Cooney recruited trailblazing Muppets creator Jim Henson and acclaimed children’s television writer and director Jon Stone to craft the iconic and beloved world of “Sesame Street.” STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET reintroduces this visionary “gang” of mission-driven artists, writers, and educators that audaciously interpreted radical changes in society and created one of most impactful television programs in history.  With more than 20 interviews with original writers, cast, and crew, and never-before-seen behind the scenes footage, STREET GANG is told from the inside with humor and emotion, weaving together personal narratives and eyewitness accounts. The film explores the original mission of the “gang” that created this cultural phenomenon, now spanning 50-plus years and reaching more than 150 countries. Director Marilyn Agrelo joins us to talk about the enduring legacy of SESAME STREET as well as the beautifully disruptive and groundbreaking approach to connecting with children and in doing so made them into collaborators and the beneficiaries of this illuminating enterprise.

For news and updates go to: streetgangmovie.com

For more news go to: screenmediafilms.net/Street Gang

Official Selection – 2021 Sundance Film Festival

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97% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Street Gang is a wonderful documentary that would play extraordinarily well whenever it was released, but in this present moment? It feels positively miraculous; a much-needed happy-sad warm blanket indeed.” – Shaun Munro, Flickering Myth

“It’s hard to ask for much more than a doc that captures creatives thoughtfully sneaking the civil revolution as well as basic education into children’s TV and includes a Muppets blooper reel.” – Chris Willman, Variety

“It’s genuinely, enormously inspirational to watch this ragtag band of beatniks and beardos turning sinister Madison Avenue techniques into instruments of learning.” – Sean Burns, Spliced Personality

“Carries tremendous power as an emotional reminder of such a triumphant run, also working beautifully as a reunion with old faces and as an introduction to key behind-the-scenes figures helping to bring inclusion to the masses.” – Brian Orndorf, BrianOrndorf.com

“Street Gang is a loving, emotional tribute to a global brand that tackled racism, education and more with puppets, music through a street that everyone wanted to live on – Sesame Street…” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic

Paris Calligrammes, Director Ulrike Ottinger

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

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

Watch: Paris Calligrammes at Icarus Films

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

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

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Watch Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts and other Kino Lorber films

For more news go to: billtraylorchasingghosts.com

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

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

GUNDA – Director Victor Kossakovsky

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

 

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For news and updates go to: gunda.movie

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

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

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

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

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

98% on Rotten Tomatoes

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

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

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

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

8 BILLION ANGELS – Executive Producer Terry Spahr

Victor Valle’s documentary 8 BILLION ANGELS focuses on how and why humanity’s demand for resources vastly are outpacing  nature’s ability to supply them.  Food, water, climate and extinction emergencies are unfolding before our eyes. 8 BILLION ANGELS tells the truth about the conflict between the size of our global population and the sustainability of our planet.  It dispels the misperceptions that technology can save us, that reducing consumption is the only answer, and that the blame lies solely in the developing world. 8 BILLION ANGELS enlists a wide array of experts that include; Jason Hall-Spencer, Dr, Saroj Pachauri, David Montgomery, Bill Stowe, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Stuart Pimm, William Ryerson, Zoe Weil and Brownie Wilson to lay out how the world can achieve a sustainable balance for ourselves and earth. Using breathtaking cinematography and startling emotion, the film takes the viewer on an immersive and emotional journey into the lives of farmers, fisherman and others as they witness an unfolding global crisis and inspires real solutions toward lasting sustainability and a better quality of life for all Earth’s inhabitants. In 8 BILLION ANGELS Executive Producer and Executive Director of Earth Overshoot Terry Spahr joins us for a conversation on how and why facing the questions around the ever-expanding population of people is a vital and indispensable part of any plan to save humans from cataclysmic event.

 

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For news and updates go to: 8billionangels.org

How to watch go to: 8billionangels.org/find-a-screening

Get active by going to: 8billionangels.org/take-action

Abramorama will host a national virtual premiere event screening on April 20 at 8 PM EST followed by a panel discussion on the inconvenient truths of overpopulation, to be followed by a nationwide Watch Now @ Home Cinema Release release on April 23, 2021. 

About Earth OvershootEarth Overshoot is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to making ecological limits central to all personal and public decision-making through targeted education and advocacy. Its goal is to achieve a sustainable society characterized by human well-being and flourishing biodiversity. Launched in early 2019, the organization builds upon the key messages presented in 8 Billion Angels, a documentary feature about overpopulation as an overarching upstream cause of our global environmental emergencies. earthovershoot.org

Executive Producer’s Statement – In my lifetime I have witnessed remarkable changes in humanity’s growth, in prosperity, lifespan, and in sheer numbers across the globe. As a child in the 1970’s, I saw the unintended consequences of this growth near my home in Philadelphia where pollution clogged the same Delaware River so celebrated for Washington’s crossing, huge landfills for garbage fouled the landscape close to Independence Hall, and masses of cars produced smog-filled air as they navigated roads designed centuries ago for far fewer people. Despite awakening to our environmental pollution problem, giving rise to recycling, renewable energy, land conservation and environmental awareness and stewardship, we now see that no amount of technology, voluntary reduction in consumption, or conservation can halt the greater forces propelling us toward climate change, ocean acidification, deforestation and a host of other natural catastrophes. All of our efforts, up until now, have amounted to stop-gap measures that distract us from the fact that we add 80 million more people every year to the earth, who together consume more resources faster than the world can replenish, and emit more waste than the earth can naturally absorb. That is why I decided to stop talking about it and do something, dedicating my time and money to telling the truth about the problem, and sharing the hope of real solutions in the stories of everyday people. After all, it is only when we are not afraid to name a problem, confront it and talk openly and honestly about it, that we can begin to fix it. It is critical to offer an alternate vision for the future. If we, as individuals, families and nations, band together by pursuing smaller families, supporting the worldwide adoption of accessible and affordable family planning, and strengthening our global commitment to the education and empowerment of women and girls, we will not only bring tremendous social justice, economic prosperity and health equity to billions, but we will unequivocally restore the environment. Join me in on this first step of my mission to ensure a planet that provides a just, safe and sustainable future for everyone. – Terry Spahr

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“A no-nonsense look at how our greed is the thing that will kill us and the planet… Persuasive and important, startling and familiar.” – Anne Brodie, What She Said

The Race To Save The World – Director Joe Gantz

Emmy Award winning director Joe Gantz’s compassionate documentary THE RACE TO SAVE THE WORLD is a climate change film like no other. Instead of focusing on paralyzing facts and numbers THE RACE TO SAVE THE WORLD inspiring takes a unique approach by following passionate activists, ages 15-72, who are in the trenches fighting for a livable future. These brave climate warriors put their lives on the line to push for change, regardless of the personal cost. THE RACE TO SAVE THE WORLD brings an urgent and intimate portrait of the protests, arrests, courtroom drama and family turmoil these activists endure as they single-mindedly focus their attention on the goal of creating a more sustainable world for future generations. Drawing on powerful footage and moving interviews, THE RACE TO SAVE THE WORLD is an inspiring call to action, urging each one of us to become climate warriors for a livable future. Director and producer Joe Gantz stops by to talk about the dedicated activist who are willing to push aside a comfortable life of in-action to become everyday heroes push to create a sustainable world, often risking their relationships, careers – and freedoms in the process.

 

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For news and updates go to: theracetosavetheworld.com

Watch virtually or in-person, go to:theracetosavetheworld.com

To get in involved go to: theracetosavetheworld.com

THE RACE TO SAVE THE WORLD opens everywhere on EARTH DAY April 22, 2021 but you can preorder you tickets now. Due to Covid, the film will open in virtual releases unless otherwise Indicated.  You can get a ticket through us or you OR You can support your favorite local movie theater or non-profit so that half the proceeds goes to them. More will be added daily so stay tuned!

About the filmmaker – Joe Gantz is known for work that examines personal stories with honesty, humor, and depth. He calls his film style, “life in progress”, where his small crew fades into the background and lets the story evolve organically.  Joe tries to be present for the pivotal moments as well as the everyday moments, to give insight into each subject’s life and relationships.  The goal is to allow the subjects to be comfortable enough to go about their daily life as if there was no one filming. And the subjects are not performing, because there is no agenda, making for very authentic storytelling.  Taxicab Confessions:  Emmy award-winning HBO documentary series featuring real-life interactions between cab drivers and their passengers that was broadcast for fifteen years. American Winter:  A documentary film about families struggling in the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Ending Disease: The Stem Cell, Anti-Cancer T-Cell, & Antibody Revolution In Medicine, is a film about how regenerative therapies are transforming medicine from a lifetime of treatments to onetime cures for a whole host of debilitating diseases. The Race to Save the World:  uses the same personal approach to emotionally-engage viewers in the urgent fight against catastrophic climate change.

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“The Race to Save the World realistically captures characters who take real risks and the impacts on their loved ones and on themselves.  Implicitly it raises questions about the best way to achieve environmental goals… Gantz’ film spurs us to think about how to be more effective”. – Jim Hansen, Director Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Program Columbia University Earth Institute

ICON – Director Tony Ahedo and Lead Actor Parker Padgett

Young love’s the topic of so many films, but rarely is it handled with earnest, authentic grace, as we see it in Tony Ahedo’s debut feature film ICON. This moving coming-of-age drama is anchored in the compelling performances of the lead actors Parker Padgett and Devon Hales. When a surprise  pregnancy forces Sam to facedown many brutal realities of adulthood and responsibility, things spiral rapidly out of control, as he simultaneously tries to fight to find his own truth: why his absent father hasn’t been in his life since one, fading memory. ICON charts the   perilous journey to adulthood for our  charismatic  leads Sam (Parker Padgett) and Ana (Devon Hales). Director and writer Tony Ahedo and lead actor Parker Padgett joins us to talk about the collaboration the two of them shared in crafting a complex and nuanced portrayal of young romantic love, dysfunctional family history and relationships and flawed people, young and old, striving to do the right things.

For news and updates go to: iconfeature.com

ICON will be screening at the Florida Film Festival beginning April 22

About the filmmaker – Pretty Sweet Films founder and director Tony Ahedo started working in the film industry in 2011. Pretty Sweet Films is a central Florida based video production company led by award winning filmmaker Tony Ahedo. Our goal at PSF is to not just get the best visuals for your project, but to tell the best story. We treat every project like a film, taking the time to carefully craft every frame so it tells our audience something important. We’re all about collaboration and teamwork to deliver the film or video you want. Pretty Sweet Films is here to tell your story on your terms.  In 2015 he graduated with his BFA in Filmmaking from Ringling College of Art and Design. Right after graduation he went on to create & direct his Amazon Prime TV series Barry Baker: Aspiring Serial Killer. Tony went on and has worked on multiple feature films, TV shows, music videos and documentaries since then. A few of his past client collaborators include, Universal Sports, NBC, Bose, Lil Wayne, Zumba, and Gunplay. He is recently completed production on his next feature film ICON for Pretty Sweet Films.

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In the Earth – Director / Writer / Editor Ben Wheatley

As the world searches for a cure to a disastrous virus, a scientist (Joel Fry) and park scout (Ellora Torchia) venture deep in the forest for a routine equipment run. Through the night, their journey becomes a terrifying voyage through the heart of darkness, the forest coming to life around them as nature becomes a force of evil,   Director, writer and editor Ben Wheatley (Down Terrace, Kill List, Fields of England) joins us for a conversation on his endlessly compelling pandemic folk tale that is begins with a walk in the woods that drops us into subversively horrifying landscape of screeching trees and bone-crushing vibrations. Golden Globe nominee composer Clint Mansell (The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream, Moon) provides a stunningly propulsive soundtrack to the film.

 

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For news and updates go to: neonrated.com

“It’s damn terrifying, trippy, thoughtfully imaginative in sound design and visual tricks to convey communicating with nature, and packs a savage kick of relatively insane individuals and body horror” – Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth

“The biggest success, however, is the balance of psychedelic mysticism and heady science that are melded with toe-curling scenes of gore and suspense.” – Norman Gidney, Film Threat

“Wheatley is firing on all cylinders with his stripped-down approach to massive topics. An assault on the senses that’s bigger than any blockbuster.” – Kyle Anderson, Nerdist

“In the Earth reminds us that there’s so much more still to fear in the invisible darkness of the natural world — things that our little animal brains can barely grok in all of its terrible splendor.” – Nick Johnston, Vanyaland

“It’s one of the most exciting genre mashups I’ve seen in years.” – Lorry Kikta, Film Threat

“Wheatley and his collaborators have produced something that some of us thought would be impossible: an outrageously entertaining film that feels utterly rooted in the bleak era in which it was made.” – Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph (UK)

“This is the work of someone who’s always been more in his element when making something out of nothing, and that energy is especially well-served to a story about the fundamental human impulse to do the same.” – David Ehrlich, indieWire

Olympia – Director Harry Mavromichalis

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

 

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For news and updates go to: olympiathefilm.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Towns – Co-directors Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

LOS HERMANOS/THE BROTHERS Co-Directors Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider

Part Geo-political saga, part ode to their origin country of Cuba, LOS HERMANOS/THE BROTHERS follows the journeys of virtuoso Afro-Cuban musician brothers, Ilmar and Aldo López-Gavilán, born in Havana in the 70s. At 14, Ilmar outgrew his island teachers and was sent to the U.S.S.R. to study violin. He never lived in Cuba again, ultimately landing as a working chamber violinist in the United States. Younger brother Aldo grew up mentored by Cuba’s impressive jazz and classical pianists, his extraordinary talent achieving renown on the island, but stymied elsewhere by the 60-year-old U.S. embargo. Though they see  each other when family finances and visa restrictions allow, they’ve never had a chance to collaborate musically—something they’ve longed for all their lives. Tracking their parallel lives, poignant reunion, and momentous first performances together on stages across the U.S., LOS HERMANOS / THE BROTHERS is a nuanced, intensely moving view of nations long estranged, through the lens of music and family. Featuring an electrifying, genre-bending score, composed by Cuban Aldo López-Gavilán, performed with his American brother, Ilmar, and with guest appearances by maestro Joshua Bell and the Grammy-winning Harlem Quartet, filmmakers Ken Schneider and Marcia Jarmel take the viewer on a delightful musical tour through Cuba and the US, capturing the artistry behind their music and their deep familial bond.

For news and updates go to: hermanosbrothersfilm.info

Watch Los Hermanos / The Brothers beginning May 14

About the filmmaker – Marcia Jarmel is a veteran documentary director, producer, and impact producer. Prior to founding PatchWorks, Marcia directed and produced THE RETURN OF SARAH’S DAUGHTERS (Women in the Director’s Chair, IDA’s DocuWeek, Cinequest, international public television) and THE F WORD: A SHORT FILM ABOUT “FEMINISM” (Living Room Festival, AFI’s VideoFest, and Brooklyn Art Museum’s Judy Chicago film series). Angela Davis called THE F WORD “an important step toward rekindling discussion of feminism.” Marcia consults on social issue films, including HBO’s Emmy nominated 50 CHILDREN, and the Academy Award nominated LAST DAY OF FREEDOM. Marcia has been a resident at Working Films’ Content+Intent at Mass MoCA, Fledgling Fund’s Reel Education and Reel Impact, SFFilm’s FilmHouse, the Kopkind Colony, and twice a BAVC MediaMaker. She has taught at NYU-Tisch in Havana and Chapman University and served as a juror for the Emmys, BAVC MediaMaker, and many film festivals.

About the filmmaker – Ken Schneider is a Peabody Award winner who believes in the power of film to affect hearts and minds. For nearly 30 years, Ken has produced, directed and edited documentaries in English and Spanish, focusing on war and peace, human rights, artists’ lives, American history, contemporary social issues, and Cuba. His work has appeared on PBS’s series American Masters, POV, Independent Lens, Frontline, Voces, and on HBO, Al-Jazeera, Showtime, and on television and in film festivals worldwide. Ken co-edited the Oscar-nominated REGRET TO INFORM and has edited over 35 feature length documentaries that have won Primetime and Documentary Emmys, three Peabodys, a Columbia-Dupont, IDA (International Documentary Association) awards, an Indie Spirit award, and top awards at Sundance. Ken edits in English and Spanish and has a personal connection to Cuba, where his Vienna-born father was sheltered during the Holocaust. Ken has taught at NYU-Tisch, Chapman University, and San Francisco City College, and lectured at the SF Art Institute, University of San Francisco, and Harvard. He has been a panelist for the National Endowment for Humanities, Emmys, and various film festivals.

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PatchWorks Films, co-founded by husband and wife team Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider, makes documentaries raising nuanced questions about critical contemporary issues. PatchWorks’ films have broadcast and screened worldwide and have each been used in robust engagement campaigns. Their most recent feature, HAVANA CURVEBALL screened in six countries, winning Best Documentary awards at the Boston and Seattle Children’s Film Festival, a special jury award at the Olympia Festival in Greece and a spot on School Library Journal’s “Best of 2014” list. Their previous feature, SPEAKING IN TONGUES, aired on PBS, won the Audience Award at the San Francisco Film Festival, and continues to be a catalyst for changing language education worldwide. Previous films include BORN IN THE U.S.A., which aired on Independent Lens and was hailed as the “best film on childbirth” by the World Health Organization, and several shorts. LOS HERMANOS/THE BROTHERS is their 9th collaboration, their 4th in Cuba. Clips and information on all PatchWorks’ features and shorts can be found at patchworksfilms.net.

“I cannot overstate the pleasure and excitement this film provides. It is a must-see.”- Marin Post

“an exhilarating and perceptive dive into the magical and confounded lives of two Cuban-born brothers” – ARThound

“Here is a purely celebratory film that at the same time biopsies political expedience and nationalism” – Woodstock FIlm Festival

“A remarkable film about a family ensnared in geopolitics” – San Francisco Chronicle

Last Will and Testament – Co-directors Laura Wilson and Lisa Wilson

It’s the greatest literary mystery of all time; who wrote the works of Shakespeare Although the official story has held sway for centuries, questions over the authorship of the plays and poems have persisted. Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles are among the many famous figures who doubt that a grain-dealer from Stratford-upon-Avon was England’s “Star of Poets. THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT will transform the way you look at Shakespeare. Twin sisters & filmmakers Laura Wilson and Lisa Wilson’s intricate historical journey charts the fascinating documentary  THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT from executive producer Roland Emmerich (who’s brilliant “Anonymous” also explores Shakespeare’s identity) and featuring stage and screen icons Derek Jacobi (Gladiator, Gosford Park, Dead Again), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, The BFG, Dunkirk), and Vanessa Redgrave (Atonement, Howards End, Coriolanus).   It’s the greatest literary mystery of all time who actually wrote the works of Shakespeare?  Featuring a powerful score by Graeme Revell (The Saint, The Crow, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), the greatest mystery of an identity hidden by time and the constructs of society…The Bard himself. Co-directors Laura Wilson and Lisa Wilson join us for a conversation on their own obsessive dedication concerning the true authorship of Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III, Taming of the Shrew, and many other fundamental works of Western civilization, as well as, how they were able to enlist the leading lights on this hotly contested topic.

 

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For news and updates go to: strikebackstudios.com/last-will-testament

THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT is available now (April is Shakespeare is international Month) for audiences to stream on Amazon Prime,Vudu,Tubi and other streaming platforms along with across TVOD platforms. iTunes, Fandango Now, Google Play, YouTube, among others globally to rent or buy. 

THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT from executive producer Roland Emmerich (a Shakespeare scholar in his own right with his incredible “Anonymous,” which also explores Shakespeare’s identity and pre-dates the documentary)  will transform the way you look at Shakespeare. Iambic pentameter will forever hold tight histories mysteries for fans of The Bard, once you’ve seen this documentary.

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“Laura and Lisa Wilson’s Last Will & Testament is utterly fascinating. Thoroughly investigated, told with flair and authority, the sisters rip the lid off one of the greatest literary puzzles in history. Riveting.” – Anne Brodie, What She Said Canada

Funny Face – Director Tim Sutton

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.

 

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For news and updates go to: gravitasventures.com/funny-face

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

Moffie – Director Oliver Hermanus

To be a moe is to be weak, effeminate, illegal. The year is 1981 and South Africa’s white minority government is embroiled in a conflict on the southern Angolan border. Like all white boys over the age of 16, Nicholas Van der Swart (Kai Luke Brummer) must complete two years of compulsory military service. South African director Oliver Hermanus, fourth feature MOFFIE explores the life of a closeted young boy serving his mandatory military service during Apartheid in 1980s South Africa. MOFFIE  is an adaptation of André-Carl van der Merwe’s iconic memoir, the film serves as a brilliant period piece exposing the psychological violence of institutionalized homophobia. Achingly raw depictions of the brutality of military training recall scenes from Kubrick’s FULL METAL JACKET while the beautifully acted love story provides a sharp contrast to the pervasive violence. Director and screenwriter Oliver Hermanus joins us for a conversation on how important it was to accurately capture to nexus of religion and the racist Apartheid regime and how the repressive culture it created made any relationship outside of it a treasonous act and how rewarding it was for him to be working with a gifted group of talented actors.

 

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For news and updates go to: ifcfilms.com/films/moffie

IFC Films will release MOFFIE on Friday, April 9, 2021 in select theaters and on digital and VOD platforms. 

About the filmmaker – Oliver HERMANUS (1983, South Africa) started his career as a press photographer. He studied at the University of Cape Town and received a scholarship for the University of California. In 2006 he was offered a private scholarship by film director Roland Emmerich to complete his MA at the London Film School. His earlier films Shirley Adams (2009) and Beauty (2011) were both screened in Rotterdam. In 2015, The Endless River became the first South African film to be nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. His newest feature, Moffie (2019), premiered in the Horizons section of Venice Film Festival and won the Mermaid Award for best LGBTQI-themed film at the 60th edition of Thessaloniki International Film Festival.

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“A masterpiece…establishing [Hermanus] quite plainly as South Africa’s most vital contemporary filmmaker” – Variety, Guy Lodge

“Hermanus digs deep into the South African psyche and teases out the contradictions within white society itself, especially the fracture between South Africans of English origin and Afrikaners.” – Kevin Maher, Times (UK)

“An extraordinary young ensemble cast…Kai Luke Brummer makes a magnetic centre” – Screen International, Jonathan Romney

“Moffie is another powerful addition to the Hermanus canon, and I can’t wait to see what this film maker will do next.” – Grethe Kemp, City Press (South Africa)

“Moments of aching tenderness and desire” – The Hollywood Reporter

Like a House on Fire – Director Jesse Noah Klein

Jesse Noah Klein’s powerful second feature, LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE, follows Dara (Sarah Sutherland) as she returns home to reconnect with her husband Danny (Jared Abrahamson) and her young daughter, whom she left two years earlier. When she arrives, she discovers that Therese, (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) who is seven months pregnant has taken her place. Compounding Dara’s anxiety, Isabel, (Margaux Vaillancourt) her daughter no longer recognizes her. LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE tells the story of a woman’s struggle to regain the life she left behind. Director and writer Jesse Noah Klein joins us to talk about how he used his film to take nuanced look at motherhood, trauma, mental health, marriage, identity and what it means to be a family. Under his direction a superb cast, led by Jared Abrahamson (Finding a Family) and a breakout performance by Sarah Sutherland (VEEP, Chronic) LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE is a compelling tale of struggle and hope.

 

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For news and updates go to: gametheoryfilms.com

Watch: gametheoryfilms.com/likeahouseonfire

Game Theory Films presents LIKE A HOUSE ON FIRE on digital platforms including iTunes/Apple TV, Vimeo on Demand and Amazon Direct. 

About the filmmaker – Jesse Noah Klein is a filmmaker from Montréal. He studied film at The University of Texas at Austin and went on to teach in the United States before returning to his native Canada to teach and make films. His first feature We’re Still Together had its world premiere in competition at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, and went on to play at over 20 festivals worldwide. The film won two ACTRA awards as well as Prix Iris nominations at the Québec Cinéma Gala for outstanding male performance for its two leading actors. It is distributed by AZ Films in Canada and by Strand Releasing in the US and abroad. 

About Sarah Sutherland – Upon graduating from New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts, Sutherland was cast alongside Julia Louis-Dreyfus as her daughter in HBO’s critically acclaimed and award-winning comedy series “Veep”. The political satire follows the life of former Senator Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and all that entails being the Vice President of the United States. Sutherland and the cast have been nominated 3 times in the category of Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series. Up next Sutherland has a leading role in the indie film “Like a House on Fire” and will co-star with Adam Brody in “Kid Detective.” Other credits include the features “Chronic” opposite Tim Roth, “What They Had” with Michael Shannon and Hilary Swank, and television appearances in HBO’s “The Newsroom” and “Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories” on Adult Swim.

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“Sutherland…makes the subtle shades of pain ache and Dara’s mystery well worth exploring in a story that feels too real to distance yourself from.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

“Klein could have written [Danny and Thérèse] very differently and pushed Dara to a much darker place as a result, but he chose to embrace hope instead.” – Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage

“Sarah Sutherland is outstanding and does a great job and is the film’s standout. An emotional story that sometimes relies too much on heart wrenching moments.” – Nathaniel Muir, AIPT

“If you’re looking for a low-key, character-driven, existential little drama, you and Klein’s film will get on like a house on fire.” – Alex Saveliev, Film Threat

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

Êxtase – Director Moara Passoni

ÊXTASE explores the intersection of Clara’s personal and political life. She lives with her parents in the outskirts of São Paulo that is slowly being taken over by organized crime. As her mother becomes a congresswoman in Brasilia, her family moves to the Federal District. There as Clara feels her mother’s life is increasingly imperiled, she descends into a downward spiral of self-destruction in which suffering has a life force. In Clara’s life, the personal and political are intertwined. She lives with her parents in the outskirts of São Paulo that is slowly being taken over by organized crime. As her mother becomes a congresswoman in Brasilia, her family moves to the Federal District. There as Clara feels her mother’s life is increasingly imperiled, she descends into a downward spiral of self-destruction in which suffering has a life force. ÊXTASE is an immersive exploration of the agony and paradoxical pleasure of anorexia set against the backdrop of the chaotic political landscape of Brasil in the 1990s. Both a deeply personal journey as well as a collective story of young women and their attempts to control the brutal world around them, director Moara Passoni, co-writer and associate producer on the Oscar® nominated documentary THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY, puts fiction, delirium and reality in a conflicting symbiotic relation. Director Moara Passoni joins us for an illuminating conversation on her own personal journey and how that informed the telling of this multi-layered tale that beautifully blends narrative and documentary techniques in telling it.

 

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For news and updates go to: extasefilme.com

About the filmmaker – Moara Passoni co-wrote and associate produced the Academy Awards Nominee and Platino and Peabody Winner documentary THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY (Netflix Originals, Sundance Film Festival) for which she was nominated for best narrative for both Critic Choices Awards Documentary Awards and International Documentary Association. ÊXTASE is her first non-fiction feature film that premiered in the main competition of CPH:DOX 2020, receiving fabulous critiques. Alumni from the L’atelier de Production de La Fémis/Cannes, Moara graduated in Sociology, Anthropology and Political Sciences (USP-SP); studied Dance and Performance (PUC-SP) and Aesthetics (Paris 8). After finishing a Master in Documentary Theory (UNICAMP-SP) she joined an MFA program on screenwriting/ directing at Columbia University where she is a current candidate. Filmmaker Magazine named her one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” of 2020.

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AWARDS
Prix D’Innovation Daniel Langlois – Montréal Festival of New Cinema
Youngsters 16 + Award / Best Film – Lucas International Festival of Films for Children and Young People
Jury Award of the Brazilian Cinema Critics Association – São Paulo International Film Festival
Prix of the Portuguese Association of Authors – Porto/Post/Doc Film & Media Festival

“Passoni was inspired by the works of Marguerite Duras. She has the same passionate intensity.” – FILMUFORIA 

“An excellent example of how the extremely personal can hold universal insight.” –  EYE FOR FILM

“Delicate and personal.” – MARIE CLAIRE 

“The universal character of the anxieties and experiences of women inserted in patriarchal systems, which manifest themselves in different ways in each one of us.” – PERSONA CULTURAL CRITICISM 

“Astonishing. Startingly unusual coming-of-age story.” – FILMMAKER MAGAZINE 

Sophie Jones – Director Jessie Barr

Inspired by true experiences of grief, girlhood, and growing up, Jessie Barr’s directorial debut SOPHIE JONES provides a stirring portrait of a tumult and uncertainty in the life of a sixteen year old. Stunned by the untimely death of her mother and struggling with the myriad challenges of teendom, Sophie (played with striking immediacy by the director’s cousin Jessica Barr) tries everything she can to feel something again, while holding herself together, in this sensitive, acutely realized, and utterly relatable coming-of-age story. The genesis of SOPHIE JONES came from director’s collaboration with her co-writing cousins Jessica Barr. Exploring the grief and loss associated with losing a parent––in this case, Sophie’s mother. SOPHIE JONES director, co writer  and co-producer Jessie Barr joins us for a conversation on directing her first feature with her Jessica in the title role, and how she went about drawing out of her cousin and the remarkable supporting cast the universal elements of a very personal saga, as well as working with renowned filmmaker Nicole Holofcener.

 

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For news and updates go to: sophiejonesmovie.com

To watch go to: sophiejones/play

Watch on steaming platforms at: sophiejonesmovie.com/screenings

About the filmmaker – Jessie Barr is a writer, director, actor, and producer with a background in independent film and theater. Jessie’s critically acclaimed debut feature SOPHIE JONES which she directed, co-wrote, and produced is executive produced by Nicole Holofcener. Jessie is a two-time 2020 Sundance Fellow, participating in the Episodic Lab and Episodic Makers Lab developing her original series with Lena Hudson inspired by their short film TOO LONG AT THE FAIR (2018). Her award-winning short film, TOO LONG AT THE FAIR, which Jessie wrote, directed, produced, and stars in with Lena Hudson premiered at the 2018 L.A. Shorts International Film Festival and screened at festivals around the world before premiering on Short of the Week. Jessie also stars in the critically acclaimed, award-winning original series OM CITY (2015), which she created, wrote, and produced with her husband, filmmaker Tom O’Brien. OM CITYwon Best Web Series at the 2018 New Media Film Festival, is a Tribeca Film Festival Selection, a New York Times TV Critic’s Pick, a Vimeo Staff Pick, voted Best Web Series by Decider.com, and a Top Pick for “Web to Watch” by USA Today. In addition to her work in film and television, Jessie has worked Off-Broadway as an actor in theater and musical theater and brings an interdisciplinary approach to her films as a writer/director. She is a proud member of Film Fatales and Free The Work. Jessie can be seen next in the feature film THE BETA TEST by Sundance and SXSW award-winning filmmaker Jim Cummings, which world premiered at Berlinale 2021.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Sophie Jones” is exactly what it needs to be: A quiet, brilliant film, elegant in its smallness. – Lena Wilson, The Playlist

“Sophie Jones rarely takes a step out of place. It’s one of the most authentic explorations of grief in recent cinema. With a fantastic performance from Barr and stunning direction, this film will stick with you long after the credits roll.” – Amelia Harvey, Screen Queens

“‘Sophie Jones’ is one of the most authentic explorations of grief on film.” – Sara Clements, NEXT BEST PICTURE

“It would be nice if there were more movies like this, but few have the talent to make them this well – to take a human scale story and make it feel, not bigger than life, but as grand-scale as life actually is.” – Mick LaSalle,

“It’s a poignant exploration of an arduous age, rooted completely in staggering authenticity.’ – Courtney Howard, Variety

Groomed – Director Gwen van de Pas

GROOMED is the devastatingly powerful story of filmmaker Gwen van de Pas as she returns to her hometown in search of answers about the man who sexually abused her as a child. To understand her ongoing traumas, Gwen travels to meet survivors, psychologists, and even a convicted sex offender.  Produced by Gwen van de Pas, Bill Guttentag, and Dylan Nelson, GROOMED addresses a common yet little understood manipulation type called ‘grooming’, how to recognize it, and how to stop it. What begins as an exploration into grooming becomes a dramatic journey where Gwen faces unexpected revelations in her case, finally finds her anger, and boldly confronts the evil we’d rather ignore. Filmmaker and subject of Groomed, Gwen van de Pas joins us for a conversation on the setbacks and the triumphs she has experienced during the many years she has lived with the trauma of sexual abuse and why it was so important for her to make this film.

 

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For news and updates go to: groomedthemovie.com

Groomed is available now on Discovery Plus at discoveryplus.com

About the filmmaker – Gwen van de Pas is a Dutch filmmaker who lived in San Francisco for 12 years. She studied Film in Holland, holds an MBA from Stanford, and worked for Consulting firm Bain & Company for 12 years. Passionate about stories that matter, she’s ready to tell the story of “GROOMED.”

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“Van de Pas calls on experts, psychologists and a convicted sex offender for interviews, but the most illuminating examples come from her own story.” – Natalia Winkelman, New York Times

“Director Gwen van de Pass, who lives in San Francisco as an adult, turns the tables on that scenario by being able take control of the narrative of own sexual abuse story. – Susan Wloszczyna, AWFJ Women on Film

“Van de Pas structures her film efficiently, creating, despite the dark topics, a highly watchable mix of facts and figures and trauma and healing.” – Anita Katz, San Francisco Examiner

JUMBO – Director Zoé Wittock

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.

 

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For news and updates go to: zoewittock.com

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

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“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

I Blame Society – Director / Lead Actor Gillian Wallace Horvat

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.

 

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For news and updates go to: crankedupfilms.com/IBlameSociety

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.

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“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