From 1968 to 1973, the public television variety show SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an unfiltered, uncompromising celebration of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics—voices that had few other options for national exposure, and, as a result, found the program an improbable place to call home.The WNET-based series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement. With participants’ recollections and illuminating archival clips, Mr. SOUL! captures a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate, and an unsung hero whose voice we need now more than ever to restore the SOUL of a nation. Director / Producer / Writer and the niece of Ellis Haizlip, Melissa Haizlip joins us for a lively conversation on the joy and passion that her uncle brought to all of his artistic projects but none more than this resounding response to a constipated white culture that marginalized outside voices with a joyous ode to the astounding depth and breath of Black Culture.
** Mr. Soul!’s Show Me Your Soul – 2021 Oscar® Shortlisted for the Best Song
About the filmmaker – Melissa Haizlip, Producer, Director, Writer is an award-winning filmmaker based in New York. Her work responds to pressing social issues at the intersection of racial justice, social justice, activism, and representation. Female transformation and empowerment are at the core of all of her ideas, with the goal being to advocate and amplify the voices of women and people of color. Melissa’s feature documentary, Mr. SOUL!, has been shortlisted for the Oscars, for Best Original Song. Mr. SOUL! has been nominated by the Guild of Music Supervisors for Best Music Supervision for a Documentary. Mr. SOUL! is also nominated for three NAACP Image Awards, including Outstanding Documentary (Film), Outstanding Writing in a Documentary (Television or Motion Picture), and Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture). Mr. SOUL! won the 2020 Critics Choice Documentary Award for Best First Documentary Feature. Melissa’s two-channel art films have been exhibited by the Hammer Museum Los Angeles Biennial, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. Melissa has been awarded grants from the Ford Foundation JustFilms, National Endowment for the Humanities, International Documentary Association, National Endowment for the Arts, Black Public Media, Firelight Media, ITVS, Awesome Without Borders, and Puffin Foundation. Melissa went to Yale University. She’s currently co-executive producing a docu-series on women in hip-hop for Netflix.
“Mr. Soul! is an effulgent and joyous celebration of the life-changing public broadcasting program. … Imagine for a moment what pop culture might be like without Questlove and you may have a small sense of what things would be like without SOUL!.” – Douglas Davidson, CLTure
“There’s a sense of overpowering love and gratitude for Haizlip that’s beautiful and wholly felt throughout Mr. Soul!’s runtime, and it’s as warm and comforting as the hot milk cake that Haizlip’s mom used to make for him.” – Jenny Nulf, Austin Chronicle
“Broad in scope and rapidly paced, the film can feel as if it’s bursting at the seams. But it acutely conveys the radical joy that “Soul!” inspired, barely contained in the movie’s running time.” – Devika Girish, New York Times
“Mr. SOUL brings the amazing individual that was Ellis Haizlip back into the forefront of his and our cultural history.” – Robert Daniels, 812filmreviews
“[Mr. Soul!] highlights black excellence and champions equality, tolerance and inclusion … that it manages to b funny, charming, and uplifting is icing on the cake.” – Victor Stiff, Goomba Stomp
The Price of Freedom is an unflinching look at the gun violence epidemic in America and the role the National Rifle Association, with its outsized political and cultural influence, has played over time. The NRA believes the deaths of innocent Americans are a necessary price to pay for the freedom to own firearms without restrictions. By manipulating the narrative around guns and backing politicians who commit to upholding their agenda, the NRA has cost us far more than we realize. Featuring passionate pleas from President William J. Clinton, Representative Lucy McBath (D-GA) and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT); NRA Board Member and former NRA President David Keene, and activists on all sides of the issue, The Price of Freedom presents a compelling case for those brave enough to take a stand against the NRA in defense of our communities and collective future. Director Judd Ehrlich joins us for a conversation on how the NRA has abandoned its founding principles of promoting safe and responsible gun ownership through locally-based training programs into a shameless shill for gun manufacturers and more recently into a pernicious, corrosive and ruthlessly divisive political force in American culture and governance.
About the filmmaker – Judd Ehrlich – Grand Clio and Emmy Award-winning director and producer is the son of an architect and schoolteacher. He grew up in lower Manhattan and, at fourteen, was the youngest feature reporter at a New York newspaper. Ehrlich’s recent documentaries KEEPERS OF THE GAME and WE COULD BE KING, produced with Tribeca Studios and The Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation, forged a new model for documentary production and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and on ABC television. KEEPERS was a New York Times Critics’ Pick and nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award and KING won an Emmy and Grand Clio Award. Both films are part of the US State Department’s American Film Showcase. Ehrlich was nominated for Emmy Awards for the Tribeca Premiere RUN FOR YOUR LIFE and the PBS broadcast MAYOR OF THE WEST SIDE. His award-winning MAGIC CAMP was optioned for narrative remake and NOTES FROM LIBERIA won several awards. Ehrlich directed two television series for ESPN and a series for The CW Network. He collaborated on the editing of Sundance-winner FAMILY NAME and Ric Burns’ Emmy-winning series, NEW YORK. Ehrlich was an editor and producer at CBS News and directed film programs at BAM, Brooklyn College, JCC Manhattan and the Brooklyn Museum, hosting notables like Darren Aronofsky, Steve Buscemi and Willem Dafoe. Ehrlich is represented by Saville Productions, joining a roster that includes Wim Wenders, Barry Levinson, Oliver Stone and Werner Herzog, and directs content for Bose, Tough Mudder, MLS, Van Cleef & Arpels, Barilla, Atlantic Philanthropies, US Cellular, and the Serena Williams Fund, to name a handful. Before film, Ehrlich was a caseworker in NYC for Project Renewal, Homes for the Homeless and YAI. He lives with his wife and two children in Flatbush, Brooklyn, where his family lived for five generations. Ehrlich is a Vassar College graduate and teaches filmmaking. For more go to: flatbushpictures.com
“An absorbing, disturbing, and scrupulously well-researched documentary that lays out the nuts and bolts of the National Rifle Association’s history.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“What makes The Price of Freedom a film that should be on your must-see list is the way Ehrlich presents all of this.” – Sabina Dana Plasse, Film Threat
“An unflinching and powerful look at what the NRA means to American politics and how it has used manipulation and scare tactics.” – Nathaniel Muir, AIPT
“Clear-eyed, compassionate and compelling, the documentary “The Price of Freedom” efficiently unpacks and debunks the myths it posits the National Rifle Assn. of America has deployed to further its all-guns-all-the-time agenda and foster a culture war.” – Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
Through shard-like glimpses of everyday life in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico, LANDFALLis a cautionary tale for our times. Set against the backdrop of protests that toppled the The United States colony’s governor in 2019, the film offers a prismatic portrait of collective trauma and resistance. While the devastation of María attracted a great deal of media coverage, the world has paid far less attention to the storm that preceded it: a 72-billion-dollar debt crisis crippling Puerto Rico well before the winds and waters hit. LANDFALL examines the kinship of these two storms-one environmental, the other economic-juxtaposing competing utopian visions of recovery. LANDFALL explores the intertwining legacies of colonialism, exploitative industries and disaster capitalism and the barriers to recovery they create. As opportunists looking to make a profit descend upon the island, the Puerto Rican diaspora comes together to create unprecedented forms of community-led mutual aid when assistance from the federal government and traditional NGOs fails to appear.LANDFALL features intimate encounters with Puerto Ricans as well as the newcomers flooding the island, LANDFALL reflects on a question of contemporary global relevance: when the world falls apart, who do we become? Director Cecilia Aldarondo joins us for frank conversation on US colonialism, Puerto Rico as a laboratory for social experimentation and the crypto-libertarian grifters peddling economic fairy-tales about freedom and financial independence.
Director’s Statement – As a Puerto Rican from the diaspora, I watched Hurricane María unfold from afar while cut off from loved ones, including my grandmother who would die six months after the storm. Reeling from the debt crisis, which unleashed a wave of austerity, poverty and migration that María only intensified, the Puerto Rico depicted in Landfall is a laboratory for greed, privatization, gentrification, the dismantling of social services, and the devastating effects of climate change. We may have a new President and Puerto Rico a new governor, but little has changed since María hit, as evidenced by the recent privatization of Puerto Rico’s electric grid. The Puerto Rican people are still fighting to end the profit-driven policies that have proved disastrous ever since President Obama signed them into existence. In Landfall I wanted to balance a cautionary tale for our times, while also prioritizing a dignified image of Puerto Ricans who have banded together to fight for their sovereignty. – Cecilia Aldarondo
“An impressive, impressionistic and intimate overview of the unhappy “Island of Enchantment” as it stands today, years after Hurricane Maria hit.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“Cecilia Aldarondo’s intelligent, insightful documentary captures how a natural disaster served to expose the man-made troubles that have blighted the island down the centuries.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
“Impressionistic rather than explanatory, Landfall seldom spells out the complex set of issues still afflicting an island long beset by “the colonial disease.” But it still makes a powerful statement…” – Dennis Harvey, 48 Hills
How did a group of humble factory workers become a phenomenal sports success story and the pride of an entire nation? Julian Faraut’s (John McEnroe: In The Realm of Perfection) ferociously innovative and visually stunning The Witches of the Orient tells the tale of the Japanese women’s volleyball team’s thrilling rise, unbelievable 258 games winning streak, and eventual Olympic gold at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. United by their jobs in a textile factory, the Japanese women’s volleyball team chased absolute perfection under the guidance of their grueling coach Hirofumi Daimatsu. Known as “the Demon,” his intense, endless practice sessions, shaped the team into a powerful force striking fear in the hearts of their competitors and earning them the racist and dismissive moniker “oriental witches.” Faraut’s sparkling documentary uses fantastic manga and anime sequences, such as Attack no 1 (1968), with archival footage of blood-curdling matches, extreme training sessions (driven by rhythmic editing and great music from French musician K-Raw) with testimony from the now-octogenarian teammates. The result charts the Witches’ meteoric rise and overwhelmingly vital spirit. The ‘Witches’ success is infectious and offers a hopeful prelude to the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games. Director Julien Faraut joins to talk about the players rigorous training regime, the complicated relationship they had with their coach, Hirofumi Daimatsu, and the enduring bond between the women / factory workers that has lasted for nearly 60 years.
About the director –Having worked with the French Sports Institute (INSEP) for 15 years, Julien has had access to a large and mostly unseen collection of 16mm archival footage, aiming to bridge the connections between sport, cinema and art. With a fascination for the incredible achievements of highly skilled athletes, Julien’s portfolio of work explores these unique and astonishing human beings through the medium of film.
“The world-beating Japanese women’s volleyball team of the 1960s roars colourfully back to life.”- Screen Daily
“If the team was derided by their prejudiced (and defeated) foes in the moment of their success, this documentary elegantly restores the glow of legend, saving the champions the trouble of having to explain their heroism in words.” – Teo Bugbee, New York Times
“One of the more engrossing sports documentaries in recent memory, and it is one that even those without much interest in athletics in general or volleyball in particular will find to be worth watching.” – Peter Sobczynski, eFilmCritic.com
“The film’s fanciful archival montages shrewdly demonstrate the ways in which memory and art seamlessly combine to document reality.” – Mark Hanson, Slant Magazine
PHILLY D.A.is a multi-part series that details the dramatic work inside the office of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner as he and his team work to end mass incarceration and transform the criminal justice system from the inside. In 2017, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had one of the highest incarceration rates of any major city in the United States. And it’s become the epicenter of a historic experiment that could shape the future of prosecution in America for decades to come. When civil rights attorney Larry Krasner mounted a long-shot campaign to become District Attorney, he ran on a bold pledge: to end mass incarceration by changing the culture of the criminal justice system from within. He shocked the establishment by winning in a landslide. Now, the bureaucrats he spent his campaign denigrating are his co-workers; the police he alienated are his rank-and-file law enforcers. Pressure comes from all sides of a system resistant to reform. Krasner’s unapologetic promise to use the power of the D.A.’s office for sweeping change is what got him elected; now that he’s in office, that same stubbornness threatens to alienate those he needs to work with the most. From the eye of this political storm, filmmakers Ted Passon, Yoni Brook, and Nicole Salazar gained unprecedented access into Krasner’s office and behind the scenes of the criminal justice system. Over the course of eight episodes, PHILLY D.A. explores the most pressing social issues of our time—police brutality, the opioid crisis, gun violence, and mass incarceration—through the lens of an idealistic team attempting fundamental overhaul from within the system.The series debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January, with its broadcast premiere in April of 2021 on ITVS’s flagship, Emmy award-winning documentary anthology series Independent Lenson PBS, followed by First Look Media’s streaming service Topic.
PHILLY D.A. is now streaming on TOPIC Topic features North American premieres and programming from around the world, complemented by a diverse slate of Originals including documentaries, scripted comedies and dramas, discussion shows, and more. With exclusive TV series and films that take you to more than 40 countries, Topic showcases an unparalleled diversity of creators, perspectives, and experiences. Topic is available to US and Canadian audiences on topic.com, AppleTV & iOS, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android & Android TV, and Apple TV Channels, Roku Premium Channels, Bell Fibe, and Amazon Prime Video Channels.
About the filmmaker – Yoni Brook is a twice Independent Spirit-nominated cinematographer and producer. As a director, his films have screened at the Berlinale, New York and Toronto Film Festivals, True/False, and IDFA. For PBS’s POV series, Brook co-directed Bronx Princess (with Musa Syeed). Brook co-directed The Calling, a four hour series about young religious leaders for Independent Lens. His directorial debut A Son’s Sacrifice for Independent Lens, won Best Documentary Short at the Tribeca Film Festival.
About the filmmaker – Ted Passon is an award-winning director and video artist. He has directed episodic series for Netflix and Disney. He is a 2016 Sundance Lab Fellow, a recipient of the Pew Foundation Individual Artist Fellowship Grant, and a 2016 Headlands Artist in Residency. He has exhibited his award-winning short films in festivals and galleries around the US and abroad including exhibitions by the Whitney Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and 96 Gillespie in London.
“All these conflicts are messy, uncomfortable and human, and “Philly D.A.” gives voice to a range of Philadelphians, including hard-line police, left-wing activists and residents worried about crime and police abuses.” – James Poniewozik, New York Times
“Philly D.A.’s fast-moving, over-the-shoulder, fly on the wall pressure-cooker pace conveys perfectly the importance of what is at stake and the life-and-death issues on the table for Krasner as he attempts to attack the system by the jugular.” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International
“Philly D.A. is a beautiful, sprawling story that does justice to both the giant organizations and the many individuals caught inside them. It also reminds us that “doing justice” is so much harder than we may want to believe.” – Kathryn VanArendonk, New York Magazine/Vulture
“Philly D.A. is the kind of documentary series that makes me feel good about the future of documentaries and nonfiction storytelling.” – David Zurawik, Baltimore Sun
“The filmmakers spent three years following the longtime criminal defense lawyer Larry Krasner for this essential, remarkably balanced vérité-style account of his unlikely tenure as the city’s district attorney.” – Judy Berman, TIME Magazine
“The trio of film-makers marshal a lot of material consistently well. Each installment looks primarily at one subject, while continuing to tie it into the wider drive to change the policy of mass incarceration.” – Lucy Mangan, Guardian
“For anyone looking for a leader who is not interested in simply paying lip service to win an election or a second term, Philly D.A. will likely be their candidate of choice.” – Kiko Martinez, Variety
Can You Bring It: Bill T. Jones and D-Man in the Waters is a feature documentary that traces the history and legacy of one of the most important works of art to come out of the age of AIDS – Bill T. Jones’ tour de force ballet “D-Man in the Waters”. In 1989, “D-Man in the Waters” gave physical manifestation to the fear, anger, grief, and hope for salvation that the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company felt as they were embattled by the AIDS pandemic. As a group of young dancers reconstructs the dance, they learn about this oft forgotten history and deepen their understanding of the power of art in a time of plague. Bill T. Jones is arguably the most socially, politically and emotionally compelling choreographer alive today. Thirty years ago, he embedded motifs of risk and sacrifice, love, loss and resurrection in the choreography for “D-Man in the Waters”. Through an extraordinary series of interviews, archival material, and uniquely powerful cinematography of movement, this 90-minute, lyrical documentary uses the story of this dance to illustrate the triumph of the human spirit in art and in the community. Today, by learning the dance, a new generation reinvigorates the spirit of a community fighting to survive. Co-directors Rosalynde LeBlanc and Tom Hurwitz join us for a conversation on the history of D-Man in the Waters, why it is just as relevant today, the spirit of discovery for the student dance ensemble featured in the film and the collaboration with the visionary artist Bill T. Jones.
About the filmmaker – Rosalynde LeBlanc, Producer and Co-Director danced with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company (1993 -1999), and Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project (1999 – 2002). She has also worked onscreen with film directors Burt Barr, John Turturro, Gretchen Bender, and Matthew Rolston. She can be seen in the short film, Roz, the PBS Specials, Still/Here, Free to Dance, Dancing in the Light, A Good Man, and in the feature film, Romance and Cigarettes. Ms. LeBlanc Loo is a leading figure in the legacy and pedagogy of Bill T. Jones. She re-stages his work around the country and runs the Jones/Zane Educational Partnership at Loyola Marymount University, where she is an Associate Professor in the Department of Dance. In 2020, her work in dance research and pedagogy was recognized with an honorary induction into the Jesuit Honor Society, Alpha Sigma Nu.
About the filmmaker – Tom Hurwitz, ASC, Co-Director and Director of Photography – Tom Hurwitz, ASC, a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, is one of America’s most honored documentary cinematographers. Winner of two Emmy Awards, the Sundance and Jerusalem Film Festival Awards for Best Cinematography, Hurwitz has photographed films that have won four academy awards and several more nominations, recently for Dancemaker and Killing in the Name. Mr. Hurwitz’s features and television programs have won dozens of awards, Emmy, Dupont, Peabody, Directors Guild and film festival awards for Best Documentary, over the last 25 years. He recently won Emmy Awards for Best Documentary Specials for the PBS show Jerome Robbins and the PBS series Franklin, as well as Sundance Awards for Queen of Versailles, and Love Free or Die. Other award-winning films and programs that Mr. Hurwitz has photographed include: Studio 54, Cradle of Champions, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt and Anderson Cooper, Valentino: The Last Emperor, Harlan County USA, Wild Man Blues, My Generation, Down and Out in America, The Turandot Project, Liberty, Dolley, Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero, for PBS; and I Have a Dream, for ABC; and Killing in the Name, and Questioning Faith for HBO. In addition, films that he has directed have won the Cine Golden Eagle and have been shown in festivals around the world. Mr. Hurwitz is also a founding member of the faculty of The MFA Program in the Social Documentary Film Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts.
Bill T. Jones, Artistic Director/Co-Founder/Choreographer: Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company; Artistic Director: New York Live Arts
Bill T. Jones is a multi-talented artist, choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer, and Associate Artist for the 2020 Holland Festival. Mr. Jones has received major honors including the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Visibility Award, 2013 National Medal of Arts to a 1994 MacArthur “Genius” Award and Kennedy Center Honors in 2010. Mr. Jones was honored with the 2014 Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, recognized as Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 2010, inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2009 and named “An Irreplaceable Dance Treasure” by the Dance Heritage Coalition in 2000. His ventures into Broadway theater resulted in a 2010 Tony Award for Best Choreography in the critically acclaimed FELA!, the musical which was co-conceived, co-written, directed and choreographed by Mr. Jones. He also earned a 2007 Tony Award for Best Choreography in Spring Awakening as well as an Obie Award for the show’s 2006 off-Broadway run. His choreography for the off-Broadway production of The Seven earned him a 2006 Lucille Lortel Award. Mr. Jones began his dance training at the State University of New York at Binghamton (SUNY), where he studied classical ballet and modern dance. After living in Amsterdam, Mr. Jones returned to SUNY, where he became co-founder of the American Dance Asylum in 1973. In 1982 he formed the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company (then called Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane & Company) with his late partner, Arnie Zane. Mr. Jones is currently Artistic Director of New York Lives Arts, an organization that strives to create a robust framework in support of the nation’s dance and movement-based artists through new approaches to producing, presenting and educating. For more go to: newyorklivearts.org
“Can You Bring It” is most compelling as an archival work. An early section pairs the original dancers’ memories of the piece’s development with visuals of the corresponding movement, sharply telegraphing the viewer into the creative process.” – Jude Dry, indieWire
A walk in the woods will never be the same after watching THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES. Based on his best-selling that has profoundly changed our understanding of forests, renowned forester and writer Peter Wohlleben guides us through his most enlightening ideas. Presenting his ecological, biological and academic expertise with infectious enthusiasm and candor, Wohlleben travels through Germany, Poland, Sweden, and Vancouver to illustrate the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in the woodland for decades. The result is an immersive and eye-opening look at the scientific mechanisms behind these wonders of nature. Peter Wohlleben, subject and best selling author joins us for a very engaging conversation on his reluctance to write The Hidden Life of Trees, his surprise at the reaction to the book and his own journey to better understand the magnificent complexity and awe-inspiring world of the kingdom of forests manifested by a remarkable level of dialog that take place among the thousands of it’s inhabitants.
About the production – Adaptations of bestsellers are part of Constantin Film’s DNA: the Munich-based film company’s adaptations – from “Christiane F.” to “The Name of the Rose”, “The House of the Spirits” and “Perfume – Story of a Murderer” to “Look Who’s Back” – have regularly become blockbuster hits at the German box office. But Constantin Film had never before adapted a non-fiction book as a documentary. Like many millions of other people, producer Friederich Oetker was given Peter Wohlleben’s book The Hidden Lives of Trees as a present. “To be honest, I only read it after I had been given it as a present for the second time,” he says. “But then in one go. I was incredibly impressed by the way. Peter Wohlleben took the reader by the hand and guided them through the forest. It was like a guided tour, a walk in the forest. Although it covers such large areas of Germany, the forest is a bit like terra incognita. Very few people have a real relationship and access to it. Wohlleben wrote a forest guide like Jacques Cousteau once did for the ocean.”
About the subject and the author – Born in 1964, Peter Wohlleben had already decided as a small child that he wanted to become a nature conservationist. He studied Forestry and was a civil servant at the State Forestry Administration for over twenty years. He now runs a forest academy in the Eifel region and works worldwide for the return of the primeval forests. He is a guest on numerous TV programmes, gives lectures and seminars and is the author of books about the forest and nature conservation issues. He has inspired people all over the world with his bestsellers The Hidden Life of Trees, The Inner Life of Animals, The Secret Wisdom of Nature and The Secret Bond between Humankind and Nature. Most recently, the magazine “Wohllebens Welt” was published. He was awarded the Bavarian Nature Conservation Medal in 2019 for his emotional and unconventional way of imparting knowledge. His latest book, The Heartbeat of Trees, is now available via Greystone books.
About the filmmaker – Director and screenwriter Jorg Adolph was born in Herford in 1967. He is considered to be one of the leading directors of documentaries in Germany. Last year saw him being nominated for the German Film Award for his latest work, “Parents’ School”. The film itself developed into a political issue and was the subject of much public controversy. From 1988 to 1994, Adolph studied Comtemporary German Literature and Media Studies in Marburg and then moved to the HFF in Munich where he studied Television Journalism and Documentary Film. His graduation film “Klein, schnell und außer Kontrolle” won the German Television Award in 2001. Since then, Adolph has been working as a freelance documentary filmmaker. Several of his works see him focusing on the artistic creative process: in “On/Off the Record”, he followed the internationally acclaimed Weilheim pop band The Notwist over one year during their work on their momentous album “Neon Golden”. In 2011, he directed the documentary feature “The Great Passion” about the preparations and performances of the Oberammergau Passion Play.
“Extremely exciting, instructive, entertaining documentary. Here you can be amazed, seriously thought and be happy.”– Bild
“THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES Based on the best-selling non-fiction book of the same name, “The Hidden Life of Trees” tells of the mechanisms of a forest and the lack of understanding of deforestation and reforestation. With the help of beautiful images the film creates awareness for the system of trees.” – Film-rezensionen
“Director Jörg Adolph’s documentary succeeds in conveying the joy and amazement about it on a journey through the world of nature. At times it is reminiscent of the motivating documentaries such as Erwin Wagenhofer’s “But beautiful”. In addition, the sensational shots by Jan Haft amaze. And in the spirit of the non-fiction author Peter Wohlleben, there is a positive outlook. Because for him one thing is certain: “The forest is coming back”. Of course, he remarks soberly: “It would only be nice if we were still there”.– Programmkino
“Adolph’s non-fiction documentary seeks the harmony between personal portraits, spectacular nature shots and political statements and thus walks a little on the trail of committed documentaries like Erwin Wagenhofer’s “WE FEED THE WORLD””.– epd-film
“Haft’s forest pictures are astonishing. At night the camera looks reverently into the canopy of the trees and a star-twinkling sky; it hovers over forests that are sometimes green, sometimes colorful; and immerse yourself in the fascinating play of light in a summer deciduous forest.“ – Süddeutsche Zeitung
What happens if the entire industry is laid off in a single day?Filmed during the height of the pandemic, Last Call : The Shutdown of NYC Bars explores the social and economic impact of COVID-19 on the NYC hospitality industry. Last Call : The Shutdown of NYC Bars follows Jena Ellenwood, a bartender in Queens, NY, as she and her co-works and friends recount their experiences in the dawning realization that they are going to lose their jobs to a deadly new virus. Jena has just moved to New York and recently been brought on as a bartender at the Sparrow Tavern, a local Astoria watering hole. In March 2020, business-as-usual comes to a grinding halt as COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, quickly establishing Queens as the epicenter of the pandemic, not only the state of New York, but throughout the entire country. Bars and restaurants are ordered to close, leaving thousands of hospitality workers stranded without work and an uncertain future. Jena and her friends vent their frustrations and anxieties, not only surrounding the seemingly hopeless economic uncertainty, but also the deadly virus that threatens their very lives.Throughout the process of finding a foothold in this “new normal”, the anxiety and uncertainty of New York’s hospitality industry looms, as 2020 ends with COVID hospitalizations in New York continuing to rise once again. Director, producer and writer Johnny Sweet (Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story) joins us to talk about his own journey over the last 16 months, the serious challenges of making a film under the cloud brought on by the pandemic and why showcasing the undervalued work and contributions of the service workers is so important to a healthy community.
About the filmmaker – Born and raised in NYC, Johnny Sweet graduated from Syracuse University in 2003. He was recently nominated for an Emmy for Best Long Sports Documentary for “Quiet Storm: The Ron Artest Story.” Sweet was an Emmy Award winning feature producer at ESPN for 10 years, primarily covering the NBA and the NFL. In 2016 Sweet directed his first long form documentary, “Vick” which won the Associated Press Sports Editor Award for journalism, his second APSE award. His second film, “Quiet Storm,” a documentary about the life of Ron Artest was released in 2019 on Showtime. The film won the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Cleveland International Films Festival for Best Documentary and was selected by the Hot Docs and Big Sky Film Festivals. For more go to: ocp-productions.com
On a cold February night in 1983, Wanda Lopez was stabbed to death while she worked at a Corpus Christi Texas gas station. 21 year old Carlos DeLuna was arrested, and over the next six years, through his trial and subsequent imprisonment he protested his innocence, declaring that it was another Carlos who committed the crime. The prosecution insisted that this other Carlos was a “phantom’ and didn’t exist. THE PHANTOM tells the story of one of the darkest episodes in the long history of American justice. A story of how the State of Texas knowingly sent an innocent man to his death and left a serial killer at large. A case in which — for the first time — it can be conclusively proven that the US courts executed a blameless man. This film uncovers the shocking truth behind a tale of murder, corruption and lies that unfolded in the dusty, desperate streets of a Texas oil town nearly thirty years ago. Through illuminating interviews with witnesses, Carlos DeLuna’s family members, and legal experts the film asks, for the first time since 1983, if the judicial system executed an innocent man, examining key evidence that calls into question whether or not Carlos DeLuna was right about the other Carlos. Was he a phantom after all, or was he a brutal killer, and did a poor Hispanic young man have any chance within a justice system and a society that by its actions seemed to regard him as disposable? Director Patrick Forbes (The Widowmaker, Brexit: A Very British Coup) joins us for a conversation on a criminal justice system that spends more time obfuscating and dodging questions about their investigation and prosecution of an innocent man than reforming a system that makes a fatal mistake possible and coming clean about why Carlos DeLuna was really put to death.
About the filmmaker- Director, Producer, Writer Patrick Forbes career began as a very junior researcher on a BBC series, when he was arrested after discovering Britain had a (secret) spy satellite. At that moment it was clear that documentaries offered a lot more excitement and interest than his previous career a bank economist. He’s gone on to become one of Britain’s best documentary directors – winning the best director Bafta for his Channel 4 series ‘The Force’, best series Bafta for ‘The National Trust’ (BBC), and having his documentary feature about Julian Assange, ‘Wikileaks; Secrets & Lies’, premier at SXSW, before being seen around the world. Patrick believes that documentary is an art form that is as vital, exciting and uplifting as the best drama – a view confirmed by his recent films tracking Britain’s tumultuous exit from the European Union, where everyone involved talks with extraordinary candour about this defining moment of history.
In December 2015, the New Orleans City Council voted to remove four Confederate monuments from public grounds. A forceful group of critics protested the decision, and fearing retaliation, no work crew would agree to remove the statues. For comedian and Daily Show with Trevor Noah producer and writer CJ Hunt, these protestors’ fanatical loyalty to the losing side of a 160 year-old war seemed like ideal material for a short, satirical internet video. But as he filmed the conflict surrounding the monuments, a bigger story began to reveal itself. THE NEUTRAL GROUND confronts the Lost Cause—the Southern campaign that mythified the Confederacy—with refreshing clarity.With New Orleans as the main backdrop of the story, the film expands its scope to the country at large, bringing to light the fabricated histories born out of the Civil War and the hard truths much of America has yet to face about slavery. Throughout, Hunt’s radical openness leads to staggering, often personal conversations with advocates and opponents of Confederate monuments alike. Turning a sharp eye to the tangled thread between past and present, THE NEUTRAL GROUND targets necessary change centuries in the making that might—finally—be catching up to itself. Director / screenwriter and subject joins us for a candid conversation on America’s implacable racism, latent white violence towards historic truths about slavery, the urgent need to respond to blatant hatred, and The Neutral Ground’s premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.
About the filmmaker – A comedian and filmmaker living in NYC, CJ is currently a field producer on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He has also served as a staff writer for A&E’s Black and White, and afield producer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede. Before working in late night, CJ spent nine years living in New Orleans where – in 2015 – he began filming what he thought would be a quick and easy confederate monument removal. CJ is an alumnus of Firelight Media’s Doc Lab and New Orleans Film Festival’s Emerging Voices program. He is also a 2020 New America Fellow and a regular host of The Moth. A graduate from Brown University’s Africana Studies department, CJ is endlessly fascinated by race and comedy’s ability to say what we can’t.
This riveting new documentary from the team of Director Joe Saunders and Producer Alex Greer The Penny Black, is a non-fiction investigative thriller that begins when Will, the estranged son of a conman,agrees to safeguard a mysterious million-dollar stamp collection for his shady Russian neighbor. After the neighbor vanishes \without a trace, Will searches for the collection’s true owner, confronting his fear and integrity head-on. But when some of the stamps suddenly disappear, the filmmakers are forced to reexamine Will’s capacity for honesty. Director Joe Saunders and Producer Alex Greer joins us for a rollicking \conversation on the orgin story of Penny Black, meeting Will, the arduous journey of pulling together the financing and the hundreds of hours of stake outs, interviews, and looking over their shoulders that went into making this stranger -than-fiction, trust no one documentary thriller.
The Backstory – The Penny Black STAMP is the world’s first adhesive postage stamp. It’s notoriety made it easy to google among this massive collection. Coincidentally, this little stamp comes with its own nefarious origins. Issued in the United Kingdom on May 1st, 1840, the Penny Black didn’t take long before it was the subject of mass fraud. The stamps, due to their color, were canceled with red ink to prevent their reuse. Unfortunately, this red ink was water-soluble, which meant that the stamps could be washed and reused. To curb the rampant fraud, the Penny Red was introduced a year later to allow cancelations with black ink that were not water soluble and could not be removed. The striking design of the Penny Black was then consigned to stamp albums (there, ironically, to become a target of high value theft).
About the filmmaker: Joe Saunders began his filmmaking career at NFL Films producing and directing documentaries that aired on HBO, FOX, ABC, CBS, ESPN, NFL Network and the BBC. While at NFL Films, Saunders won an EMMY Award in the Outstanding Long Feature category for his documentary, Big Charlie’s. His recent documentary credits include, Billy Mize and the Bakersfield Sound and Coach Snoop. Saunders is a Film Independent documentary fellow, received an MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, and currently lives in NYC.
About the filmmaker: Alexander Greer is an award-winning filmmaker whose work has screened at Tribeca Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, and Los Angeles Film Festival, amongst others. As a freelance producer, he’s created content for MTV, Funny or Die, RedBull TV, Warner Brothers Records, Columbia Records, Gatorade, and New Form Digital. He graduated with honors from the film program at Columbia University, and currently lives in Los Angeles.
THE LONELIEST WHALE: THE SEARCH FOR 52 is a cinematic quest to find the “52 Hertz Whale,” which scientists believe has spent its entire life in solitude calling out at a frequency that is different from any other whale. As the film embarks on this engrossing journey, audiences will explore what this whale’s lonely plight can teach us — not just about our changing relationship to the oceans, but to each other. This is the only film that set out in search of 52. The 52 Hertz Whale was originally discovered in 1989. Over the last 3 decades 52 has become a global sensation capturing the hearts of fans around the world. This whale’s story has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Business Insider and more. Most recently the British Indie Rock band Amber Run and the K-pop band BTS have written songs about the whale. Award winning filmmaker Joshua Zeman has been at the forefront of investigative documentaries for the past decade. His most recent work was the hit Netflix documentary series, THE SONS OF SAM: DESCENT INTO DARKNESS. His critically-acclaimed film CROPSEY, a look into the disappearance of five children, is considered to be one of most terrifying horror documentaries of all time. Director Joshua Zeman joins us for a conversation on the primordial fascination that whales exert over humans, the impact his first encounter with Blue Whale had on him, how “singing Humpbacks saved whales for being hunted into extinction and why 52’s story has captured a world-wide audience.
Director Pedro Kos’ beautifully rendered story, REBEL HEARTS, takes us back to the 1960s and a Los Angeles-based group of trailblazing nuns, The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Sisters bravely stood up to the patriarchy of the Catholic Church, fighting for equality, their livelihoods, and their own freedom against an all-powerful Cardinal who sought to keep them in their place. Their bold acts of faith, defiance and activism turned the Church upside down, helping to reshape our society in ways that continue to resonate today. From marching in Selma in 1965 to the Women’s March in 2018, they challenged the notion of what a nun and a woman were supposed to be. These unlikely resistance fighters, including Anita Caspary, Helen Kelley, Pat Reif and iconic pop artist Corita Kent, were devoted to a life of service, not only to others but to themselves – forming a community that empowered each sister to live up to their fullest potential. Their desire to bring the church into modern life was met with forceful opposition at every turn. As each of them discovered their own talents and voices, they fully stepped into their roles as leaders in a movement that is still making waves. In the feature documentary REBEL HEARTS, director Pedro Kos combines incredible archival footage, stunning animation and two decades of interviews conducted and filmed by the film’s producer Shawnee Isaac-Smith, to beautifully illuminate the story of these incredible women. Director Pedro Kos joins us for a conversation on the historic, political, cultural and spiritual significance these brave women had and continue to have on their own faith, but on the world beyond the walls of their community.
About the filmmaker – Director, writer and editor Pedro Kos most recently wrote and produced Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer’s Netflix Original Documentary THE GREAT HACK which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for a BAFTA award and shortlisted for an Academy Award. His feature directorial debut BENDING THE ARC (co-directed with Kief Davidson) premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Previously, he edited Jehane Noujaim’s Academy Award nominee THE SQUARE which earned Pedro an Emmy Award for Best Editing for a Non-Fiction program, Lucy Walker’s Academy Award nominee WASTE LAND and THE CRASH REEL (2013 SXSW Film Festival Audience Award winner), Jon Shenk’s THE ISLAND PRESIDENT (2011 TIFF Documentary People’s Choice Award winner) among others. Pedro is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and received his B.A. in Theater Directing from Yale University.
“Rebel Hearts tells the group’s story, focusing on why the nuns changed and what they risked in refusing to bend to church leadership. It’s a fast-paced and fascinating story that has implications far beyond Catholicism.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
“The brilliant documentary is a colourful, contemplative and informative presentation of women whose dedicated faith led them to activism.” – Emily Maskell, Flip Screen
“”Rebel Hearts” is still determined to not only uplift, but do justice to the women it’s profiling and just what gave them a communal backbone of such stuff that they eventually chose to defy the Vatican itself.” – Andrea Thompson, A Reel of One’s Own
“Neatly threads a global feminist awakening through the very specific experience of a few defiant, no-longer-cloistered women.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“One of the best of Sundance for this years. Highly recommended.” – Steven Kopian, Unseen Films
“Before this film, I had never heard of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and now I can’t stop thinking about them.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times
When you look at Kenny Scharf’s surreal, colorful, pop-culture inspired art you can’t help but wonder where he gets his inspiration. This documentary about Scharf’s fascinating life—made over 11 years by the artist’s daughter, Malia Scharf, and Max Basch—answers that question. This fascinating documentary shows Scharf’s New York City arrival in the early 1980s where he quickly befriended Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.This trio, amongst the fervent creative bustle of a depressed downtown scene, would soon take the art world by storm.Featuring interviews and rare archival footage with the artist himself along with Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Ed Ruscha, Dennis Hopper and Yoko Ono, the film shows Scharf’s arrival in New York City in the early 1980s, where he quickly befriended Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat. There, amongst the fervent creative bustle of a depressed downtown scene, the trio would soon take the art world by storm. But unlike Haring and Basquiat, who both died tragically young, Scharf lived through cataclysmic shifts in the East Village as well as the ravages of AIDS and economic depression. Decades later, still obsessed with garbage, cartoons and plastic, and committed to the idea that art should be fun, Scharf’s whimsical mind continues to generate works rife with iconic images and bizarre forms. Co-directors Malia Scharf and Max Basch join us for a conversation on the New York City in the 1980s, why so many artists from multiple disciplines seized the opportunity to make art amidst the rumble of the Downtown, and the re-evaluation of Kenny Scharf’s prodigious technicolor artistic vision.
“A compelling and informative introduction to the life and work of Kenny Scharf. His perseverance, passion for art as well as for his inner child are very palpable.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
“I found it heart warming and endearing, especially because of his daughter’s direction of the film. If you are interested in the art of this period, I think you will love this documentary.” – Katrina Olson, katrinaolson.ca
:This is the harrowing, heartbreaking, ultimately affirming story of Kenny Scharf, and I urge you to see it.: – Norman Gidney, Film Threat
“Playfully deconstructs the life and times of a creator who tries to balance their childlike playfulness with the adult responsibilities of the real world.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate
Canadian-based director Jeanne LeBlanc’s searingly insightful drama, Les Nôtres takes us into the heights and depths of the French speaking, tight-knit community of Sainte-Adeline Quebec. Magalie (Émilie Bierre) appears as a normal suburban high school sophomore surrounded by friends. But this popular teenage girl is harboring a shocking secret: she’s pregnant. When Magalie refuses to identify the father, suspicions among the townsfolk come to a boiling point and the layers of a carefully maintained social varnish eventually crack. Anchored by a host of remarkable performances from a cast that includes Marianne Farley, Judith Baribeau, Paul Doucet, A. Patrice Mareau and the aforementioned Emilie Bierre.Les Nôtres director and co-screenwriter Jeanne LeBlanc (co-writer Judith Baribeau) masterfully peels back the brittle veneer of respectability and conformity in her subversive tale of class, racism, sexual assault and the community’s bourgeoisie capitulation to the heavy hand of power.
“Les nôtres is going to ruffle plenty feathers. Not because of its topic, but because of its willingness to depict characters that will stop at nothing to keep pretending.” – Jared Mobarak, The Film Stage
“Les Nôtres finished on something of an unsatisfactory but realistic note, but such is the story that knows that sadly this is still common in small communities, those that only pretend to have everyone’s best interests at heart.” – Shelagh Rowan-Legg, ScreenAnarchy
“An enraging film astringent enough to peel the paint from the façade of virtue propped up by the small-town Quebecois community in which it takes place.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety
“The film is a j’accuse aimed at those complicit in oppressing the most vulnerable in order to protect the powerful.” – Pat Brown, Slant Magazine
“Any time you make a movie with well-played characters who compel the audience to want to shout at the screen, you’ve accomplished something.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK returns with a special episode directed by Elizabeth Wolff (HBO’s “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark”) and executive produced by Liz Garbus (HBO’s “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” and “Who Killed Garrett Phillips?”). The critically acclaimed six-part documentary series based on the best-selling book of the same name debuted in June 2020 and explores writer Michelle McNamara’s investigation into the dark world of the violent predator she dubbed “The Golden State Killer.” In the summer of 2020, former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo, also known as the Golden State Killer, was sentenced to life in prison for the 50 home-invasion rapes and 13 murders he committed during his reign of terror in the 1970s and ‘80s in California. Many of the survivors and victim’s family members reconvened for an emotional public sentencing hearing in August 2020, where they were given the opportunity to speak about their long-held pain and anger through victim impact statements, facing their attacker directly for the first time and bringing a sense of justice and resolution to the case. This powerful special closes one chapter in McNamara’s investigative work on cold cases, and brings to light another, the rape and murder of Kathy Lombardo in 1984 in McNamara’s hometown of Oak Park, Illinois, which sparked her life-long fascination with unsolved murders. This special episode brings shocking new revelations to light in the Lombardo case and features the late McNamara’s own research into the rape and murder, which led to her return to Oak Park in 2013 to investigate it on the ground, quickly finding inconsistencies in the police work. Featuring the late McNamara’s own archival research and voice recordings, and interviews with residents of present-day Oak Park, this special episode highlights the trauma that persists when a crime goes unsolved, with McNamara’s work standing as a stark reminder of the importance of citizen sleuths who remain dogged in their search for the truth. I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK co-producer and co-director Elizabeth Wolff joins us to talk the years-long collaboration with series director Liz Garbus and her team, the art of storytelling, defining her own personal boundaries and becoming a mom.
The I’ll Be Gone in the Dark docs-series was directed by Academy Award nominee and Emmy® winning director Liz Garbus (HBO’s “Who Killed Garrett Phillips,” “Nothing Left Unsaid: Gloria Vanderbilt & Anderson Cooper”) and produced by Story Syndicate. Additional directors on the series include Elizabeth Wolff, Myles Kane and Josh Koury.I’LL BE GONE IN THE DARK will also be available on HBO On Demand, HBO NOW, HBO GO and partners’
“This is both a satisfying story of justice restored, and a moving tribute to one woman’s refusal to give up on forgotten victims.” – Anna Leszkiewicz, New Statesman
“Deviating from the well-trodden arc of most true-crime documentaries, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark tells several parallel stories, each of them interwoven, yet discretely fascinating.” – Kylie Northover, The Age (Australia)
“”I’ll Be Gone in the Dark” is more than a true crime documentary, although it succeeds in a terrifyingly brilliant way.” – Kristen Lopez, indieWire
“Sensitive, unusual, uplifting, revelatory and deeply moving, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is one of the best true crime docu-series in a while and it’s up against stiff competition.” – Rosie Fletcher, Den of Geek
“I’ll Be Gone in the Dark can be very difficult to watch; it’s haunting and incredibly sad. But that’s also what made it all the more moving, in the end, to see the survivors join together: bonding, smiling, and living their lives in the light.” – Allison Keene, Paste Magazine
Director James Fletcher’s THE ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT uncovers a detailed play-by-play from all angles on how it all went down, the state of America that led to the results, what the electorate was really motivated by, and how a former reality show host with an elevated understanding of the media and entertainment was able to connect and how a former reality show host with an elevated understanding of the media and entertainment was able to connect with voters from all walks of life and stage a takeover of Washington D.C. — whether he meant to or not. As America began to try and come to terms with the surprising (and for many voters, horrifying) results of the presidential race of 2016, the subsequent rapid-fire speed of events and jam-packed news cycles meant that nobody would ever have the opportunity to truly and properly reflect on what exactly just happened — and how did it? Featuring an impressively diverse and balanced set of fascinating interviews from both sides of the aisle, that includes:Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, Piers Morgan, Mary Katharine Ham, Aaron Sorkin, Anthony Scaramucci, David Pakman, Molly Ball, April Ryan, Steve Schmidt, and Van Jones. THE ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT is an educated examination of the most controversial election in modern history, and one that every future campaign – most notably the one currently in play – should study with an electron microscope. Directed and produced by British filmmaker/journalist James Fletcher joins us for a conversation on the many twists and turns, happenstance, orchestrated chaos, massive campaign miscalculations and incompetence that results in the election of the most deified and nefarious president in American history.
THE ACCIDENTAL PRESIDENT will be screening in limited U.S. theaters beginning Monday, June 21, 2021, and will be coming soon to Starz.
About the filmmaker – James Fletcher Director, Producer – James Fletcher is a UK television producer/director currently based in New York City. He started out working on commercial and music videos, before being hired by a number of political campaigns to produce TV ads (spots) including UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former Prime Minister David Cameron. He has also worked on European elections, campaigns in the US, and the Middle East. He has written articles about the business of politics, and increasing deployment of technology, especially social media as prime channels of voter communication. He is directing his first feature. The Accidental President which simply seeks to answer ‘How on earth did Donald Trump win the election of 2016?’
“I think the film is about as unbiased a story as you can get on the 2016 election.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat
“Director James Fletcher’s objective, in his words: “How the hell did he win?” The doc, with entertaining archival films and input from talking heads, offers suggestions.” – Harvey S. Karten, Shockya.com
“…more than just a trip down memory lane (a painful one or a gleeful one depending on your politics), it poses a timely “can it happen again” question for 2020.” – Tom Santilli, Movie Show Plus
THE LAST OUT tells the story of three talented Cuban athletes, Happy, Carlos, and Victor, leave their families and homes behind as they set off in pursuit of the ultimate dream: a contract with Major League Baseball. Cuban ballplayers are among baseball’s brightest stars but Cuban ball-players can’t just sign out of Cuba – the US Embargo is still in place and only being strengthened under the current administration – so Cubans have to leave their homeland, often under dangerous circumstances and establish residency in a third Country like The Dominican Republic, Haiti or Costa Rica. At the rundown Estadio Antonio Escarre, they have spent the past year training long and hard, thousands of miles away from their families in Cuba. They travel to Costa Rica and train under a seedy sports agent who dangles promises while exploiting their talents. As they navigate immigration and the ulterior motives of handlers, each man finds an unexpected path forward to a better life. Set against the backdrop of the dangerous Central American migrant trail, THE LAST OUT offers a rare window into the dark side of professional sports. THE LAST OUT co-directors Sami Khan and Michael Gassert stop by to talk about their process of following the many twists and turns these young men’s lives take them on and the personal risk they and their team took in chronicling it.
Sami Khan’s most recent film, the short documentary St. Louis Superman (with Smriti Mundhra), was nominated for an Academy Award® and won a Special Jury Prize at Tribeca in 2019. Michael Gassert’s documentary and archival work has been supported by IFP, the Sundance Institute, UNESCO, and the Kennedy Center.
Director D.W. Thomas’, Too Late, cozy horror comedy set in the Los Angeles indie comedy scene features Violet Fields who works a thankless job as the assistant to Bob Devore, famed comedian and host of the live variety show,Too Late. But what only Violet knows is that Bob is a monster both literally and figuratively. Resigned to her fate, Violet is caught by surprise when she meets aspiring comedian Jimmy Rhodes and sparks fly. But as her feelings for Jimmy grow and Bob starts to doubt her loyalty, she and Jimmy could end up as Bob’s next meal.TOO LATE is the debut feature film from director D.W. Thomas and writer Tom Becker. It stars Alyssa Limperis (Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun), Ron Lynch (Bob’s Burgers, Adventure Time), Will Weldon (Comedy Central’s This Isn’t Happening), Mary Lynn Rajskub (24, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), Fred Armisen (SNL, Portlandia), Jenny Zigrino (Bad Santa 2, 50 Shades of Black), Jack De Sena (Avatar: The Last Airbender), and Brooks Wheelan (SNL). Director and writer D.W. Thomas joins us for a spirited conversation on comedy, fame, Hungarian Cultural Centers, Stand up, and a well-balanced diet.
Gravitas Ventures will release TOO LATE in select theaters and on digital platforms including iTunes, Google Play, Fandango Now and all major cable/satellite platforms on June 25.
About the filmmaker – D.W. Thomas is a feature film director. She had her start editing films for indie production company, Cineville International known for Mi Vida Loca, Gas Food Lodging and Swimming with Sharks. She has produced and edited behind-the-scenes segments for studios including NBC, Disney, Marvel, and Pixar. Her feature film directorial debut Too Late will be premiering June 25th in theaters and on demand. For more go to: firemarkmedia.com
“’Too Late’ can be taken as a show business metaphor. Throughout we see that only the strong and ruthless survive and succeed, with Devore himself being a symbol of star power gobbling up the competition.” – Bob BloomJournal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
In this revealing observational portrait of political courage, Brandon Kramer’s THE FIRST STEP, focuses his lens on Black progressive activist and political commentator Van Jones as he faces a polarized society head on in an effort to reform a broken criminal justice system. Jones, known for calling Donald Trump’s election “a whitelash” live on primetime TV, navigates increasingly tense and isolating political and racial divides in his attempt to become a “bridge builder” during the Trump administration. Condemned by the right for his progressive beliefs, and by the left for embracing conservatives, this fraught and cinematically captured personal journey questions his integrity from all sides, forcing him to consider not only his activism but his own identity. THE FIRST STEP takes us behind the scenes of these dramatic power struggles, from internal divisions within both parties, to the lives of activists fighting on the frontlines for their communities. The First Step features Louis L. Reed, Jessica Jackson, Virgie Walker, Pete White, Tylo James. Including Jared Kushner, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Shelly Capito, Senator Rand Paul, Senator Mike Lee, Congresswoman Karen Bass, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, Patrisse Cullors, Charlemagne Tha God, Karen Hunter, and Kim Kardashian. Director Brandon Kramer joins us to talk about the daunting challenge faced by Van ones as he attempts to find the common ground of common interest and policy reforms that will benefit all Americans, while being vilified by many of the same people he is working with.
About the filmmaker – Brandon Kramer is a documentary filmmaker and co-founder of Meridian Hill Pictures. Brandon directed CITY OF TREES (Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, national broadcast on PBS’ America Reframed, Netflix); and the Webby Award-winning documentary series THE MESSY TRUTH WITH VAN JONES. Brandon won Best Director at the 2016 Chesapeake Film Festival and Indie Capital Awards, received the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 American Conservation Film Festival and was a 2015 DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities Individual Arts Fellow. Brandon has directed over 30 short documentaries commissioned by public agencies and nonprofits including AARP and US Institute of Peace. Before starting MHP, Brandon served as a teaching artist for the John F. Kennedy Center’s national media education program. Brandon holds a bachelor’s degree in film and cultural anthropology from Boston University.
SWEET THING, centers on Billie (Lana Rockwell, Little Feet), a 15-year-old girl who fantasizes Billie Holiday as a sort of fairy godmother. Billie has to navigate the evolving challenges of her life while she plays mother to her 11-year-old brother, Nico. They meet up with another adolescent, run away from home, and together roam the area free from their parents’ watchful eye. They discover freedom and enchantment among New Bedford’s boats and railway tracks. They fantasize about a life of luxury when they break into a posh home, and are able to carry the taste of affluence into their adventures. SWEET THING celebrates their ability to make poetry and a joyful life out of hardship. The children come to represent a hope in our own resilience, as the film is an ode to that trying age when young people prepare to take their first step into adulthood. The story is an intense but ultimately uplifting, poetic rendering of childhood that captures the essence of that time in life when a day can last forever. SWEET THING, stars Rockwell’s children Lana and Nico, Karyn Parsons and Will Patton, Director and writer Alexandre Rockwell (In the Soup, Louis & Frank, 13 Moons) joins us for a conversation on his working with a superb cast that includes Lana and Nico Rockwell, Karyn Parsons and Will Patton, re-discovering a love for instinctive filmmaking and his embrace of storytelling that celebrates fearless youth, friendships, and family.
SWEET THING winner of the Berlinale Crystal Bear in the Generation K-plus section in 2020.
About the filmmaker – Rockwell managed to establish himself by the early 1980s. He already had several short films under his belt and his work was shown at Boston’s Institute for Contemporary Art and New York City’s Association of Independent Video and Film. This led to him landing his first feature film, Lenz which was shown at the 1982 Berlin Film Festival and enjoyed success. Rockwell followed up with the release of Hero, which won a Special Jury Prize at the 1984 Sundance Film Festival. In 1986, he married Yale graduate and Flashdance star Jennifer Beals. He didn’t make any films until Sons. Praise rained on Rockwell at The Sundance Film Festival when he released In the Soup. The movie featured Steve Buscemi, Seymour Cassel and Jennifer Beals. Rockwell’s next film Somebody to Love was less successful, though the omnibus movie Four Rooms was popular, in which Rockwell directed the segment “The Wrong Man”. Rockwell’s marriage to Beals ended in 1996 but they remained close friends. Unfortunately, Rockwell’s next offering, Louis & Frank, reprising two minor characters from In The Soup, flopped with audiences. Rockwell hit his stride again with the release of the successful 13 Moons, a comedy which featured a strong ensemble cast including Steve Buscemi and Karyn Parsons. Rockwell later married Parsons (best known for her work as “Hilary Banks” on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) on Valentine’s Day, 2003. After Pete Smalls Is Dead, he made the critically acclaimed Little Feet, starring his two young children, son Nico and daughter Lana, which was entirely funded by a Kickstarter campaign. With this feature, Rockwell continued the form that made him an iconoclast of the independent New York film movement of the nineties. After a break of 7 years, he returned to filmmaking with Sweet Thing, starring his wife Karyn and their two kids, winning the Crystal Bear award at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival.
“A lively, bittersweet meditation on an impoverished childhood that is still rich in innocence and imagination…. With verve and vitality it pays a dreamy-eyed retrospective debt to films past, and largely due to the beguiling performance from Rockwell’s own daughter Lana, ultimately delivers a moving, tousled journey of discovery….” – Jessica Kiang, Variety
“Rockwell’s film about specific heartbreaking circumstances is accessibly potent in its portrayal of childhood and memory. He taps into the experience of complex emotions – fear mixed with hope, love entangled with heartbreak, and childhood prematurely ripped away – in ways that exemplify the unique potential of cinema.” – Mary-Catherine Harvey, The Upcoming
“Gorgeous… stunningly rendered….this is a film that deserves to be seen – Stephen Silver, Goomba Stomp
“The windswept, wild-maned ‘Sweet Thing’ boasts beautiful performances and a definite throwback charm.” – VARIETY
“The first paces of ‘Sweet Thing’ feel as they are taken from Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Kid’. By iris-in, iris-out, long shot cuts into close-ups, the director Alexander Rockwell conveys a really fresh and intimate nostalgia.” – FILMFESTIVALS
“Sweet Thing is also stunningly rendered. All three kid actors are incredibly talented, and the film makes very strong use of music, which includes multiple examples of Lana Rockwell’s fine singing.” – Goomba Stomp
In 1921, white mobs in Tulsa terrorized and burned down the Greenwood District, known as “Negro Wall Street.”With the discovery of a mass grave, the city reckons with its painful past.In the early 20th century, racial violence erupted in dozens of cities across the United States. Hundreds were killed. Black communities fought back, rebuilt, and prospered in the face of extreme oppression and the evils of white supremacy. Dawn Porter’s RISE AGAIN: TULSA AND THE RED SUMMER comes one hundred years from the two-day Tulsa Massacre in 1921 that led to the murder of hundreds of Black people and left thousands homeless and displaced. Award-winning Washington Post journalist and Oklahoma native DeNeen Brown is at the heart of the film, reporting on the search for a mass grave in her native state. Digging into the events that led to one of the worst episodes of racial violence in America’s history, Brown reveals insights into racial conflict incidents that erupted in the early 20th century. Between 1917 and 1923, when Jim Crow laws were at their height and the Klu Klux Klan was resurging across the nation, scores of Black homes and businesses were razed, and hundreds of Black people were lynched and massacred with impunity. Brown’s reporting highlights the revived call for justice for victims and survivors. Following a 2018 investigative report, Brown explores the current anti-racism movement in the context of the Tulsa Massacre and the Red Summer. With access to family members of those killed, city officials, archeologists, and historians, the film reveals the decades-long effort by descendants and community members to find victims’ bodies and unearth truths that have been suppressed for nearly a century. RISE AGAIN: TULSA AND THE RED SUMMER also untangles the role the media played in covering events at the time in order to reveal the full extent of the nation’s buried past. Our guide into this harrowing and disgraceful chapter of American history is award-winning journalist DeNeen Brown joins us for a detailed and personal perspective of the events that played a part in a deadly racist attack on innocent, law-abiding Black citizens.
About the filmmaker – DeNeen Brown is an award-winning staff writer at The Washington Post, who has covered night police, education, courts, politics and culture. She has written about the black middle class, poverty, the homeless, arts and gentrification. As a foreign correspondent, Brown traveled throughout the Arctic to write about climate change and indigenous populations. Her 2018 piece on the Tulsa mass graves restarted the search that had gone dormant. She has won awards from the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors and the American Society of Newspaper Editors, and she is also a professor at the University of Maryland and Merrill College.
Winner of a Special Jury Award for Nonfiction Experimentation at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Director Theo Anthony (Rat Film, Subject to Review) ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE is an exploration of the shared histories of cameras, weapons, policing and justice. ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE plunges the viewer into world where police body cams are the hi-tech answer to questions of accountability andAs surveillance technologies become a fixture in everyday life, the film interrogates the complexity of an objective point of view, probing the biases inherent in both human perception and the lens. Director Theo Anthony joins us for a wide-ranging conversation on the seemingly relentless march toward an enveloping surveillance state, the expectation of privacy, optic nerves, technological corporate fantasies, bias AI and the Black Box.
About the filmmaker – Theo Anthony – Director, Writer and Editor – Theo Anthony is a filmmaker based in Baltimore and Upstate New York. His first feature documentary, RAT FILM, premiered internationally at the 2016 Locarno Film Festival and domestically at the 2017 True/ False Film Festival. It has received wide critical acclaim, and was nominated for a 2017 Gotham award for Best Documentary Feature film as well as Cinema Eye Honors for Best Debut Feature. The film was theatrically released and was featured on PBS’ Independent Lens Series in early 2018. Theo is the recipient of the 2018 Sundance Art of Non- Fiction Fellowship and the 2019 Sundance and Simons Foundation Science Sandbox Fellowship. In 2015, he was named to Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film. His latest film SUBJECT TO REVIEW, for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series, premiered at the 57th New York Film Festival. ALL LIGHT, EVERYWHERE is Theo’s second feature length film and his first film premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. For more go to: theoanthony.net
“SUPERB. A chillingly insightful doc on the ethics of looking and the incompleteness of seeing.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety
“BRILLIANT, vital criticism about American policing that also speaks to the limitless artistic potential of non-fiction filmmaking” – Nick Allen, Roger Ebert
“FASCINATING. A gripping, mind-expanding wake-up call” – Sheri Linden, The Hollywood ReporterOpen
“All Light, Everywhere is staggering in its expressive yet concise ability to explore a topic as urgent as rampant police violence and excessive surveillance from a strictly technological perspective.” – Jordan Raup, The Film Stage
“This engrossing, troubling documentary questions the idea that what we take in through our eyes is, any practical sense, the truth of our surroundings” – Tim Grierson, Screen International
Nicole Riegel’s starkly drawn feature film debut HOLLER zeroes in on a forgotten pocket of Southern Ohio where American manufacturing and opportunity are drying up, a determined young woman finds a ticket out when she is accepted to college. Alongside her older brother, Ruth Avery joins a dangerous scrap metal crew in order to pay her way. Together, they spend one brutal winter working the scrap yards during the day and stealing valuable metal from the once thriving factories by night. With her goal in sight, Ruth finds that the ultimate cost of an education for a girl like her may be more than she bargained for, and she soon finds herself torn between a promising future and the family she would leave behind. Director Nicole Riegel stops by for a conversation on the challenges of pulling together a shoe-string budget film, that has as much to say about the lack of opportunity for the millions of marginalized people as it does about the love of family, and working with a superb cast that includes Jessica Barden, Austin Amelio, Gus Halper and Pamela Adlon.
Director’s Statement – My film is a semi-autobiographical story about how challenging it was to transcend where I came from as a young woman, both practically and emotionally. Like Ruth, the teenage girl at the center of my story, and many young girls across America, I was vulnerable to a fractured system that felt rigged against me, particularly when it came to access to education for young people living in the margins. That lack of access made me feel like my voice didn’t matter, and that is a horrible feeling for any young girl to carry with her. In order to pursue the life that I wanted, I had to leave behind the family and community that created me which felt like a betrayal. HOLLER is not only a glimpse into that part of my life, but also a window into the lives of thousands of girls who, like Ruth, live in towns that are currently in a state of atrophy from fewer opportunities and a shrinking population. They are faced with the choice of forced reinvention or abandoning their hometowns completely. – Nicole Riegel
“Holler shows there is beauty everywhere-if you choose to look for it. It also shows the power of independent filmmaking to tell incredible stories on sheer will and desire to tell stories.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat
“A film that is heart-rattlingly poignant, haunting, and among the best of the year.” – Kristy Puchko, Pajiba
“With Holler, writer/director Nicole Riegel avoids traps into melodrama and miserablism to deliver a great feature-length directorial debut; an emotionally rousing coming-of-age story with a standout performance from Jessica Barden.” – Harris Dang, The AU Review
“Holler is a compelling, confident film about family, loyalty, hope and self-care, executed with a firm directorial vision and speaking with an authenticity and genuineness that is unambiguously refreshing.” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ Women on Film
“Holler is a beautifully crafted feature debut for Nicole Riegel complete with strong and memorable performances, especially from lead star Jessica Barden.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
Set in 1985, against the backdrop of social hysteria surrounding gory British video nasties.CENSOR is a psychological horror starring Niamh Algar (Raised By Wolves, The Virtues, Calm With Horses). Film censor Enid takes pride in her meticulous work, guarding unsuspecting audiences from the deleterious effects of watching the gore-filled decapitations and eye-gougings she pores over. Her sense of duty to protect is amplified by guilt over her inability to recall details of the long-ago disappearance of her sister, recently declared dead in absentia. When Enid is assigned to review a disturbing film from the archive that echoes her hazy childhood memories, she begins to unravel how this eerie work might be tied to her past. After viewing the strangely familiar video nasty at work, Enid attempts to solve the past mystery of her sister’s disappearance, embarking on a quest that dissolves the line between fiction and reality. CENSOR had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2021, opening the Midnight section of the festival, and will have its European premiere at Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival. Director Prano Bailey-Bond stops by for a conversation on her debut feature film that flawlessly captures the frightening ambiance of the “nasties” while plumbing the depths of Enid’s defenseless psyche.
About the filmmaker – Prano Bailey-Bond is a director and writer who grew up on a diet of Twin Peaks in the depths of a strange Welsh community. Named a 2021 ‘Director to Watch’ by Variety and a Screen International ‘Star of Tomorrow’ 2018, Prano’s work invokes imaginative worlds, fusing a dark vocabulary with eerie allure, revealing how beauty resides in strange places. Her debut feature film, CENSOR, had its world premiere at the SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL 2021, opening the festival’s Midnight section, moving next to its European premiere at the BERLINALE – Berlin International Film Festival. Prano’s strong body of shorts have screened at festivals including BFI London Film Festival, Tampere Film Festival, UKMVA’s, Sitges Film Festival and Melbourne Int’l Film Festival. She was one of 17 filmmakers selected for the BFI Network@LFF 2017 which identified original new voices, iconoclasts and risk takers. She is an alumna of the Berlinale Talent Campus. Her short film NASTY screened at over 100 festivals to-date, winning awards globally. SHORTCUT, made as part of Film4’s Fright Bites series, was broadcast on Film4 and is available to view on All4. It screened at festivals around Europe, the USA and Canada, and toured with The Final Girls‘ WE ARE THE WEIRDOS program. THE TRIP won Best Director at Underwire Festival. Based on a real-life case study by ECPAT UK, it has been used to educate Police and other professionals on recognizing victims of human trafficking. Prano’s post-apocalyptic short MAN VS SAND, commissioned by The Letters Festival, Milan in association with London Short Film Festival, won Best Experimental Short at Aesthetica Short Film Festival, who described it as “a powerful satire of the live-to-work ethic”. Her music videos have picked up accolades including a UKMVA, Best Music Video at the European Independent Film Festival and Best Music Short at London Short Film Festival. Prano is on the Advisory Board for Underwire Festival, is a member of Cinesisters, BAFTA and is also an award-winning editor. For more go to: pranobaileybond.com
“Bailey-Bond creates something almost unbearably close and oppressive, like the bottom of a murky fish tank. It’s a very elegant and disquieting debut.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
“Censor works as such a strong study of someone whose personal and professional lives are dangerously intertwined and loses sight of every boundary in her life, though Bailey-Bond ensures it has plenty of edge.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest
“Bailey-Bond creates something almost unbearably close and oppressive, like the bottom of a murky fish tank. It’s a very elegant and disquieting debut.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
“With a winning confidence, [Bailey-Bond] guides the viewer to a frightening, disorienting, and frankly shocking third act.” – Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
“It’s more than emulating a cinematic look, like those faux-gialli. It’s creating an engrossing, disturbing, yet authentic world that cracks wide open like Enid’s fragile psyche.” – Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle