Beginning – Director Dea Kulumbegashvili

In her critically acclaimed debut feature film, BEGINNING, Georgian filmmaker director Dea Kulumbegashvili’s debut feature film zeroes in on Yana, a despondent woman wrestling with her crippling emotional isolation within a small community of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The setting for this harrowing story is a sleepy provincial village outside of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, a predominately Orthodox Christian country. Her husband, David, is the spiritual leader of the Witness community that has recently been terrorized by the fire bombing of their makeshift church by an extremist group. In the midst of this conflict, the familiar world of Yana slowly begins to unravel. Yana’s inner discontent grows as she struggles to deal with a sexual assault, an emotionally abusive husband and her own desires for a livable future. BEGINNING is Georgia’s entry for the Best Foreign Film for this year’s Academy Awards. Co-writer (Rati Oneli) and director Dea Kulumbegashvili joins us for a conversation on collaboration with Cinematographer Arseni Khachaturan, finding the right timbre for telling the story of Yana and locking in a spectacular performance by Yana’s Ia Sukhitashvili.

About the filmmaker – Dea Kulumbegashvili’s filmmaking has been informed by her experience of growing up in a place with such a mix of ethnicities and nationalities. Dea was born in Oriol, Russia and raised in a small town called Lagodekhi at the foot of the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia, a former Soviet Union republic. In 2016, she became the first Georgian director to have a film accepted in Cannes — her stunning minimalist short Invisible Spaces. In 2020, her feature debut BEGINNING became the first Georgian film to win the Golden Shell for best film as well as picked up the best director, best actress and best screenplay honors. If BEGINNING is nominated for the best international feature award at the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021, it will be another first for Dea, as well as a first for Georgia. 

OFFICIAL GEORGIAN ENTRY FOR BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE FOR THE 93RD ACADEMY AWARDS
OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2020 New York Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2020 Cannes Film Festival
WINNER – FIPRESCI PRIZE – 2020 Toronto International Film Festival
WINNER – 4 MAJOR PRIZES at the 2020 San Sebastian Film Festival including the GOLDEN SHELL FOR BEST FILM, BEST DIRECTOR, BEST ACTRESS, BEST SCREENPLAY

“THIS FILM WAS A REVELATION, A MOMENT OF AUTHENTIC CINEMA THAT FILLS THE SCREEN WITH FLAMES.” – Luca Guadagnino, Filmmaker & San Sebastian Jury President

“POWERFUL. A STRIKINGLY COMPOSED FILM AS BRACING AS IT IS UNSETTLING.” – Allan Hunter, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL

“AN AUSPICIOUS BOW FOR A NEW ART HOUSE TALENT.” – Sheri Linden, HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Blizzard of Souls – Director Dzintars Dreibergs

BLIZZARD OF SOULS pays stark witness to the horrors and brutality of the First World War, as seen through the eyes of Arturs (Oto Brantevics), an innocent sixteen-year-old farm-boy turned soldier. Too young to fight but old enough to die, he enlists to serve on the Eastern Front with dreams of becoming a hero. Conscripted into one of Latvia’s first national battalions, Arturs soon discovers the grim reality of trench warfare. Fighting alongside his father and brother, he experiences the loss of his home and loved ones while growing up surrounded by constant danger and death on the battlefield. Adapted from the book by Aleksandrs Grins, which was banned in the USSR, the story was based on Grins’ own war experiences in a Latvian battalion, and the film is the biggest box office success in Latvia of the past 30 years. Director Dzintars Dreibergs joins us for a conversation on the tremendous impact that World War One had on the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, particularly in terms of their relationship to Stalin’s Soviet Union and how the loss of life as well as the heroism the Latvians experienced during the war became the spark for independence from the Soviets 70 years later.

 

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Director’s Statement – First, the world is in the great place now. We live better than ever. We fight for human values which is impossible mission during the war. Many memories of soldiers tell how hard it was to live with themselves after they discovered animals within themselves, we can do sad things when fight for survival becomes real. However, the sad part is that still there are state leaders that can convince people to kill for some ideology, leaving other’s nothing else but to defend and then starting long and crazy circle of many tragedies. I hope the world can learn from the history and stop this nonsense. – Dzintars Dreibergs  

LATVIA’S BIGGEST BOX OFFICE SUCCESS IN 30 YEARS PREMIERES VIA VIRTUAL CINEMA ON JANUARY 8, 2021

About Virtual Cinema – Virtual cinema is video-on-demand streaming brought to you by Film Movement in partnership with local independent movie theaters, which allows you to stream first-run movies and revivals of classic films at home on your TV or on your mobile device prior to their availability on any other digital platform. The proceeds from your streaming rental is shared between Film Movement and the presenting art house movie theater of your choice, so all ticket purchases help support independent cinema.

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“A more realistic 1917” – The Hollywood Reporter

“The filmmakers are unafraid of the picturesque, lighting scenes so they resemble old-master canvases.” – Mark Jenkins, Slant Magazine

“An honest yet frenzied interpretation of the veracity of warfare, with utterly breathtaking cinematography, reminiscent of the brilliance of “Band of Brothers”…As the young, endearing lead, Brantevics is extraordinary” – Guy Lambert, The Upcoming

“Blizzard of Souls, the 1934 novel from which this is drawn, is based on author Aleksandrs Grīns’ own frontline experiences, and The Rifleman successfully captures the hazy, gauzy quality of memory.” – Ellen E Jones, Guardian

“One of the best war films of the last few years.” – Rob Aldam, Backseat Mafia

Coming Clean – Director Ondi Timoner

Long before COVID-19, another pandemic was raging across the American landscape, penetrating all age groups, races and socio-economic classes. The cause: opioids. The culprit: Purdue Pharmaceutical and the company’s deceitful approach to lure in and hook patients. COMING CLEAN, Ondi Timoner’s new documentary, examines opioid addiction through the eyes of those affected and political leaders, as they come together to bring the profiteers to justice. Timoner deeply engages us by weaving in personal stories of addicts and their families struggling to overcome this painful addiction, sometimes with success but often with devastating and heart-wrenching consequences. COMING CLEAN presents a clear case against the perpetrators, including how they incentivized physicians to overprescribe opioids. In a hopeful turn, we witness the alliances built between addicts in recovery and policymakers as they work to remove the stigmas surrounding this addiction and impact laws and industries to bring necessary change in communities. A thought-provoking film on the state of our country and the current political landscape. Director Ondi Timoner (DIG!, We Live in Public, JUNGLETOWN) joins us to talk about the corrosive impact of the opioid crisis, the devastating impact it has had on families, communities and our vital institutions and who has been most responsible for this scourge.

For news and updates go to: comingcleanmovie.com

About the filmmaker- Ondi Timoner has the rare distinction of winning the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival twice, for DIG! (2004) and WE LIVE IN PUBLIC (2009). Other award-winning features include: THE NATURE OF THE BEAST (1994), JOIN US (2007), COOL IT (2010), BRAND: A SECOND COMING (2015), and MAPPLETHORPE (2018), a scripted film she wrote and directed, starring Matt Smith. She also created and produced the critically acclaimed 10-hour nonfiction series JUNGLETOWN (2017). Ondi Timoner is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, the DGA, the PGA, the International Documentary Association, and Film Fatales. Timoner has produced & hosted BYOD (Bring Your Own Doc) for thelip.tv,  creating 300 episodes with the top documentary filmmakers over five years. She is also the Founder & CEA of A TOTAL DISRUPTION, an online network dedicated to telling the stories of entrepreneurs & artists who use technology to innovate the way we live. For more on Ondi Timoner films: interloperfilms.com

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“A movie about opiates most viewers won’t take their eyes off of. It feels weird to compliment a true-life story on such a dark topic for visual beauty, but it’s the truth.” Films Gone Wild

“COMING CLEAN takes one of the most important issues of our time — declining life expectancy, largely due to the opioid crisis — and unpacks it through a humanistic lens, with emphasis on real people and leaders on the ground who are providing solutions and, most importantly, hope. As thought-provoking as it is moving — and you find yourself rooting for these heroes and thinking about what they’ve taught you long after the film credits roll. The stigma-shattering message of this film will make a difference.” – Beth Macy, bestselling author of Dopesick & writer/producer of coming Hulu series Dopesick

“Coming Clean is an indictment of capitalism run rampant and once again profit taking precedence over human life. Hats off to the frontline warriors taking on this cause.” – Bradley Gibson, Film Threat

“COMING CLEAN is one of the most important films of 2020” – Awards Radar

Rock Camp -The Movie – Creator David Fishof

After producing the comeback tour of The Monkees in 1986, promoter and talent agent David Fishof founded Rock’ n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, which has been making dream comes true for more than 25 years. Summer camp meets Spinal Tap, Rock’ n’ Roll Fantasy Camp brings together musicians from all walks of life for an unforgettable experience with legendary rock stars. These musicians teach, inspire, and jam with the campers over four days, concluding with a life performance at a famed venue. The experience takes music lovers from spectator to the stage, sharing the limelight with their musical heroes. Rock Camp, The Movie follows four campers (and their families) trough their journeys to shred with their heroes and see how they overcome their fears and transform their lives. Rock Camp – The Movie boasts a jaw-dropping array of rock star “counselors” that include Roger DaltreyAlice CooperPaul Stanley and Gene Simmons,  Nancy WilsonJoe PerryJeff BeckSlash, and countless other rock legends. Directed and produced by Doug Blush, co-directed and edited by Renee Barron, and produced by Jeff Rowe. Rock’ n’ Roll Fantasy Camp founder David Fishof joins us to talk about his life as a promoter, the amazing array of talented artists he has gotten to know and the endless joy that his “Fantasy Camp” and now the “The Movie” has brought him over these many years.

For news and updates go to: rockcampthemovie.com

About the founder – David Fishof began his career as a sports agency and eventually an entertainment executive and music producer more than four decades ago. Through the Rock’ n’ Roll Fantasy Camp, he has been making dream comes true for more than 25 years. Whether he’s producing a tour, assembling an All-Starr band with Ringo Starr, or writing a best-selling book, there’s one thing David Fishof is always doing: dreaming. Hailed as one of the most creative and innovative entertainment producers in the world, David has been responsible for some of the most original, successful, and exciting live shows ever brought to the stage. But of all the shows he’s put on over his 40-plus year career, there’s one production that stands out from all the rest: Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp. After years of good fortune working with veteran rockers like Roger Daltrey, Ringo Starr, The Monkees, Levon Helm, Joe Walsh, Jack Bruce and Peter Frampton, David decided it was time to share his experiences with rock fans around the world. And so, in 1997, he debuted the rock camp—a place where regular people can reconnect with their passion for music alongside the most famous names in the business. For more information go to: rockcamp.com

About the filmmaker – Doug Blush is an award-winning director, producer, editor, and cinematographer. His credits include, as editor, the Oscar and ACE Eddie Award winning 20 Feet from Stardom (2013), as executive producer, the Oscar winning Period. End of Sentence. (2018) and, as consulting producer and editor, the Oscar winning Icarus (2017).

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Rock Camp is an eye-opening treat. Entertaining and surprising.” – Michael O’Sullivan, The Washington Post

“I love this film. it really has a grid heart to it.” – Richard Roeper, ABC Chicago – Windy City LIVE

“Touching.” “Pure entertainment.” Provides the pure pleasure of seeing people having fun simply by making music.” – Loren King, Newport This Week

“Wildly entertaining.” – Mike McGranaghan, The Aisle Seat

M.C. Escher: Journey To Infinity – Director Robin Lutz & Producer Marijnke de Jong

M.C. Escher: Journey To Infinity is the story of world famous Dutch graphic artist M.C Escher (1898-1972). Equal parts history, psychology, and psychedelia, Robin Lutz’s entertaining, eye-opening portrait gives us the  man through his own words and images: diary musings, excerpts from lectures, correspondence and more are voiced by British actor Stephen Fry, while Escher’s woodcuts, lithographs, and other print works appear in both original and playfully altered form. Two of his sons, George (92) and Jan (80), reminisce about their parents while musician Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills & Nash) talks about Escher’s rediscovery in the 1970s. M.C. Escher: Journey To Infinity looks at Escher’s legacy: one can see tributes to his work in movies, in fiction, on posters, on tattoos, and elsewhere throughout our culture; indeed, few fine artists of the 20th century can lay claim to such popular appeal. Director Robin Lutz and Producer Marijnke de Jong stop by for a conversation on how far ahead of his contemporaries Escher was in capturing using abstract design elements to capture a provocative view of the natural world and how little he cared about being considered as an acceptable artist by the public or the art establishment.

For news and updates got to: zeitgeistfilms.com/film/mcescherjourneytoinfinity

Director’s Statement: “I fear that there is only one person in the world who could make a really good movie about my prints: myself ‘. This line wrote Escher in 1969 to an American collector of his work. And that is exactly what Escher is doing in this movie: he is the director, not literally but symbolically. Besides a visionary graphic artist Maurits Escher was a sharp observer who described his observations in numerous diaries, letters, lectures and catalogues. Thus, an image will be created of his personal life described in his own words, with all his fears, doubts, euphoric moments, political considerations, his amazements, his artistic development and of course his own opinion on his work. The public sees the film through the eyes of Escher himself: the camera is Escher. M.C. Escher will tell in his own words what he saw, what he felt, what inspired him, what amazed him, what irritated him. We will get under his skin and come as close as possible to meet and understand this great graphic artist. The camera is Escher’s eye! How did he get his inspiration, how he lived, who was that genius graphic artist which worked fanatic and finally stunned the world. Escher was astonished by his huge success, especially among the youth. This documentary is the first complete film about Escher’s live and work told in his own words! 

About the filmmaker – Director Robin Lutz founded his own company in cultural audio-visual productions in 1988. He specialized in the production of cultural documentaries, in cooperation with or on behalf of broadcasters, funds, museums etc. Robin Lutz Audiovisual Productions has developed into a renowned production company and due to their great quality, a substantial amount of his films have been awarded, both nationally and internationally.

About the filmmaker – Co-Producer Marijnke de Jong  – After having finished her study in art history at Leiden University, Marijnke de Jong worked for 13 years as a curator in the print room of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Afterwards she worked for Europa Nostra, a heritage NGO, and was involved in the development and organization of the first two editions of a Heritage Film Festival, where she met Robin Lutz. From 2001-2014 she was director/curator of Panorama Mesdag in The Hague and specialized in art and illusion. Nowadays she is advising cultural organizations and since 2016 she also co-produces films with Lutz.

“Delightful…a playful but serious look at the life and work of a wildly popular woodcut printer, lithographer, painter and mezzotint print-maker Maurits Cornelius Escher.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

The Wake of Light – Director Renji Philp

THE WAKE OF LIGHT tells the story of Mary, (Rome Brooks) a loving, selfless daughter who has spent her entire life caring for her widowed father after he suffered a stroke when she was a little girl. One day Mary meets Cole (Matt Bush, from TV’s “The Goldbergs”), a young man passing through her small town on a cross-country road trip, who falls for Mary and asks her to join him on his journey. Now Mary must choose between her deep-felt responsibility to her father or a chance at love. THE WAKE OF LIGHT has won over 20 Film Festival Awards during its festival run. THE WAKE OF LIGHT is written, directed, and produced by Renji Phillip and stars Rome Brooks and Matt BushDirector Renji Philip (Cheesecake Casserole) joins us for a conversation on his sincere and heartfelt meditation on the choices we make, the power we have to change our destinies. 

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

THE WAKE OF LIGHT will have its virtual theatrical release on January 15, 2021 by Laemmle Theaters. 

THE WAKE OF LIGHT will open on digital platforms on February 15, 2021.

About the filmmaker – Renji Philip is an award-winning writer, director and producer. He was born in Littleton, Colorado, the son of an Indian immigrant. He’s won 6 Best Film awards, 4 Best Director awards and 1 Best Screenplay awards for THE WAKE OF LIGHT. He studied acting at the Stella Adler Conservatory in New York for two years and with Howard Fine (and visiting teacher Uta Hagen) in Los Angeles as a full-scholarship student for four years. His films have been Officially Selected at Palm Springs, Raindance-London, Rhode Island International, Mill Valley, Frame 4 Frame, Mayday, Cinequest, Mill Valley, Methodfest, Winnipeg film festivals. For more go to: axispacificfilmworks.com

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“THE WAKE OF LIGHT boasts a strong performance from Matt Bush, who elevates the movie.” – Nathaniel Muir, AIPT

“A film of immense CHARM, HUMOR and HOPE” – LOGAN TAYLOR – SXSW

“Beautifully shot and paying homage in part to What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Wake of Light may not be the most original storyline but it’s all about the journey on which the film takes its audience and not the destination.” – Joel Fisher, Battle Royale With Cheese

“A quiet, contemplative drama of people lost in failed dreams that lives up to some, if not all, of its ambitions.” – Daniel Eagan, Film Legacy

“An illuminating film.” – Matt Brunson, Film Frenzy

“The Wake of Light is what an indie should be.” – Tony Macklin, tonymacklin.net

MLK/FBI – Director Sam Pollard

MLK/FBI is the first film to uncover the extent of the FBI’s surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Based on newly discovered and declassified files, utilizing a trove of documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and unsealed by the National Archives, as well as revelatory restored footage, the documentary explores the government’s history of targeting Black activists, and the contested meaning behind some of our most cherished ideals. MLK/FBI is an essential expose of the surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (labeled by the FBI as the “most dangerous” Black person in America), undertaken by J. Edgar Hoover and the U.S. government. Featuring interviews with key cultural figures including former FBI Director James Comey, MLK/FBI tells this astonishing and tragic story with searing relevance to our current moment. Directed by Emmy® Award-winner and Oscar®-nominee Sam Pollard, MLK/FBI recounts a tragic story with searing relevance to our current moment. Sam Pollard joins us for a conversation on how incredibly important Dr. King work and influence continues to illuminate every aspect of race relations, criminal justice, housing, wealth inequality, education access and political leadership.

 

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

Sam Pollard is an Emmy Award-winning and Oscar-nominated director and producer. His films for HBO, PBS, and the Discovery Channel include the documentaries Four Little Girls, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, Slavery by Another Name, Sammy Davis, Jr.: I Gotta Be Me, ACORN and the Firestorm, Why We Hate, and Atlanta’s Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children.  Pollard also directed two episodes of the groundbreaking series Eyes on the Prize. Since 1994 Pollard has served on the faculty of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and lives in New York City.

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WINNER – Visionaries Tribute Lifetime Achievement Award 2020
WINNER – Career Achievement Award – IDA Documentary Award 2021
WINNER – Best Archival Doc – Critics Choice Documentary Awards 2020
NOMINEE – Best Feature – IDA Documentary Awards 2021
NOMINEE – Best Director – IDA Documentary Awards 2021
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Double Exposure Investigative FF 2020
OFFICIAL SELECTION – Masters – DOC NYC 2020

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“RIVETING. A timely reminder that King’s struggle for racial justice wasn’t straightforward, nor is it close to complete.” – THE ATLANTIC, David Sims

“A blunt fable of state power and a nuanced essay on the fallibility of heroes and the ethics of historical inquiry. Rigorously focused on the facts of the past, the movie is also as timely as an alarm clock.” – THE NEW YORK TIMES, A.O. Scott

“SEARING. Serves as a chilling reminder that white supremacy is not solely a partisan problem; it’s a cruelty baked into the fabric of our political system, poisoning it at every level. Change comes when we allow ourselves to challenge the stories we have been told about our history.” – THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER, Jourdain Searles

“It’s an argument for the humanity of our revolutionaries, flaws and all, a humanity that has been either systematically denied, or weaponized against them.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

My Little Sister – Co-directors Stephanie Chuat and Veronique Reymond

In this moving, yet unsentimental tale from co-directors Stephanie Chuat and Veronique Reymond brilliant playwright Lisa (Nina Hoss) no longer writes. She lives in Switzerland with her family but her heart has stayed in Berlin, beating to the rhythm of her twin brother’s heart. The ties between the twins have grown stronger since Sven (Lars Eidinger) was diagnosed with an aggressive type of leukemia. He’s a famous theater actor and Lisa refuses to accept his fate, moving heaven and earth to get him back on stage. She gives her all for her soul mate, neglecting everything else, even risking her marriage. Her relationship with her husband starts to fall apart, but Lisa only has eyes for her brother, her mirror, who connects her back with her aspirations and rekindles her desire to create, to feel alive… Co-directors Stephanie Chuat and Veronique Reymond join us for a conversation on their exceptional and beautifully rendered drama on family, mortality, options and love.

 

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For newsand updates go to: filmmovement.com/my-little-sister

To watch go to: filmmovement.com/virtual-cinema-guide

Official submission of Switzerland for the ‘Best International Feature Film’ category of the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021.

Director’s statement – My Little Sister (Schwesterlein) has a special meaning for us. This film brings together three elements that are central to our lives. First, the city of Berlin to which we’ve had a strong attachment for over fifteen years. Second, the theatre, as we are both actresses. And above all, a unique friendship that goes back to our childhood. Stéphanie and Véronique were first and foremost two teenagers who shared the same love of theatre and decided to make a career out of it. Together we created a multitude of shows and together we started making films. To write My Little Sister we drew inspiration from our own atypical relationship, wherein we sometimes feel more alive when we are creating than in everyday life, like the twins in our movie, always hooked up to their shared imaginary world when they are together. We made them part of a theatre family because we are fascinated by the passion that drives those known in Germany as “Theatermenschen”. In this community, an actor who doesn’t perform doesn’t exist. He is erased from memory. Whilst on stage he glows, borne by the presence of the audience. Through our characters’ love of the theatre, our movie recounts in its own way the necessity of dreams as a way of escaping reality. My Little Sister is also the story of Lisa’s inner journey back to her creativity through the illness of her brother, her alter ego. By reconnecting with writing to beat back the shadows, she brings herself out of the darkness. Through the unbreakable bonds that link these two beings, our film celebrates the fragility and power of life, the strength of transmission, and relates that the end of one life can also be the beginning of another. – Stephanie Chuat and Veronique Reymond

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Chuat and Reymond take their time unspooling a graceful drama that twists the tear-soaked conventions of the cancer drama into something raw and satisfying.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire

“Nina Hoss …turns every moment into an acting master class.” – Boyd van Hoeij , The Hollywood Reporter

“A miraculous performance piece….” – Andrew Bundy, The Playlist
“With performances deeply entrenched in character ordeal and interpersonal ties, My Little Sister could not have come at a better time. “ – Joseph Braverman, We Live Entertainment

““My Little Sister” …is a thoughtful and deep look at the bonds both breakable and unbreakable in family.” – Neely Swanson, Easy Reader News

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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What Would Sophia Loren Do? Director Ross Kauffman

What Would Sophia Loren Do? is a documentary short film that follows Vincenza “Nancy” Kulik, an Italian-American mother and grandmother living in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Nancy has seen her share of tragedy, but she has always been able to stay positive, inspired in part by another Italian mother, the movie star Sophia Loren. Nancy uses the question “What Would Sophia Loren Do?” as a guide to questions big and small. For example, “Would Sophia Loren eat whole wheat pasta?” Nancy thinks not. This phrase can also provide comfort and a source of strength in times of crisis. In 2016, Vincenza’s 51-year-old son died suddenly while undergoing a routine operation. Vincenza was devastated. She would seek solace in the love of her friends and family. But as she describes it, Vincenza also used the example of Sophia’s grace to help her get through the days and find the strength to persevere. For Vincenza, the words “What would Sophia Loren do?” have truly helped her to heal during some of the most difficult times of her life. Through the experiences of these two women we come to understand what it means to face life’s challenges with resilience and to age with courage, grit, and humor. The film debuts on Netflix on January 15 and is already heavily buzzed for the Oscar in the shorts category. There’s particular attention on Sophia this year, given her other Oscar-buzzed performance in The Life Ahead, directed by her son, Eduardo Ponti. Academy Award winning director Ross Kauffman (Born into Brothels, Tigerland) joins us to talk about the connection he shares with Vincenza, professionally and personally, and how her indomitable presence permeates this wonderfully alive story.

 

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To watch: netflix.com/Wht Would Sophia Loren Do?

Night Stalker – Director Tiller Russell

The Netflix limited docu-series Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer tells the spellbinding true story of how one of the most notorious serial killers in American history was hunted down and brought to justice. In the sweltering summer of 1985, a record-breaking heatwave hit Los Angeles, along with a series of murders and sexual assaults that at first seemed disconnected. The victims were men, women, and children. They ranged in age from six to 82, coming came from different neighborhoods, racial backgrounds and socioeconomic levels. Never before in criminal history had a single killer been responsible for such a grisly array of crimes.  Racing against the clock to stop this nocturnal monster were a young detective named Gil Carrillo from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the legendary homicide investigator Frank Salerno. As they worked tirelessly to solve the case, the media hounded their tracks, and panic gripped California.  Told through harrowing first-person interviews, gripping archival footage and spectacular original photography, this four-part series represents the definitive telling of this iconic L.A. real-life horror story, painting a portrait of how it felt to live in fear at a time when absolutely anyone could be the Night Stalker’s next victim. Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer director Tiller Russell joins us to talk about his deep dive into truly terrifying chapter of Southern California history, capturing the palpable fear that gripped and connected so many communities in 1985 and the people who brought Richard Ramirez to justice.

 

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To watch go to: netflix.com/nightstalker

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Climate of the Hunter – Director Mickey Reece

Mickey Reece’s mind-bending latest film, CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER immerses us inhttps://youtu.be/vOT3l77LTZc the story of two sisters, Alma and Elizabeth, along with a dog who’s described as a “philosopher,” have come to Alma’s remote house to reconnect with Wesley after twenty years. Alma is recently divorced, Elizabeth is a workaholic in Washington, D.C., while Wesley lives in Paris dealing with a wife recently struck with a fatal disease. When the three come together for dinner it has all the makings of a lovely adult melodrama about loneliness, and the desire to connect and share our lives with someone… but we must add to the mix one otherworldly piece of information: Wesley could be a vampire. CLIMATE OF THE HUNTER stars Ginger Gilmartin, Mary Buss, Ben Hall, Danielle Evon Ploeger, Laurie Cummings, and Jacob Ryan Snovel. Director Mickey Reece (Arrows of Outrageous Fortune, Mono) joins us to talk about his shadowy slow-burn, stylized cinematic mind-f**k of a story.

 

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For news and updates go to: darkstarpics.com

On Demand beginning January 12, 2021 on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Xbox, Vudu,  Direct TV, Dish Network and all major cable providers.

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“an instant cult classic” – Film Freak Central

“Climate of the Hunter never sacrifices its smarts for fun (or vice versa), but with its dazzling visuals and hypnotic descent downwards into a seemingly inevitable chaos, the film’s delights are ultimately as sensorial as they are intellectual” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ Women on Film

“Climate of the Hunter captures the 1970s perfectly and crafts a beautiful film filled with a central mystery that builds in every revelation.” – Amanda Mazzillo, Film Inquiry

“Climate of the Hunter is for anybody who, when dining out, feels compelled to try (and hopes to love) the weirdest item on the menu.” – Simon Abrams, RogerEbert.com

“This weird little slice of vampire movies is definitely not your average bloodfest. It’s odd and dreamlike and one of my favorite films I’ve seen so far this year. So give it a shot!” – Lorry Kikta, Film Threat

“Gloriously quirky cinematic feat” – Rue Morgue

Beautiful Something Left Behind – Director Katrine Philp

Life-affirming and profound, BEAUTIFUL SOMETHING LEFT BEHIND beautifully captures the heartbreaking, mundane and even the funny moments in the lives of several young children who have recently lost one or both parents. The Good Grief community in New Jersey focuses on a holistic approach to mourning, where children can give in to rage in ‘the volcano room’ or say goodbye to a dying teddy bear patient in ‘the hospital room.’ Over the course of a year, we get close to Kimmy, Nicky, Peter, Nora, Nolan and Mikayla along with their constant companion: grief, as they attend their weekly group meetings at Good Grief, practice small rituals to remember their loved ones, and go about the daily work of living. Filmmaker Katrine Philp keeps the camera and the point-of-view firmly on the children and while it is sometimes deeply sad, it’s also at times humorous to experience questions about life and death through their open and curious minds. Director Katrine Philp joins us to talk about gaining the trust of the Good Grief community, the unfettered way the children interact with one another, the loss of her own father during the making of Something Beautiful and how all of it informed the making of the film.

 

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For news and updates go to: goodcompanypictures.com/beautiful-something-left-behind

About the filmmaker – Katrine Philp is an award-winning director who graduated from The National Film School of Denmark in 2009. Her first film, ‘Book of Miri’, was awarded the President´s Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, nominated at IDFA and won the European Young CIVIS Media Prize in Germany. In 2014 Katrine won the Audience Award at the American Documentary Film Festival for her debut feature length documentary ‘Dance For Me’ which was also selected for POV on PBS in 2014.  The film was also nominated for an Emmy Award in the category ‘Outstanding Arts and Culture Programming’ 2015. She directed ‘Home Sweet Home’ in 2015 – produced with Good Company Pictures (Winner of the Danish Film Academy’s Award 2016 for Best Short Documentary, IDFA, TIFF Kids), then ‘False Confessions’ in 2018 (award Winner at CPH:DOX, Nominated as best Nordic Documentary at Nordic Panorama, winner of Special Jury Prize at LA film festival. TV2 prime time). Beautiful Something Left Behind is her latest film which won the Grand Jury Prize at SXSW 2020. To find out more go to:  goodcompanypictures.com/katrine-philp

WINNER – SXSW 2020 – Best Documentary Feature

OFFICIAL SELECTION – Winner’s Circle – 2020 DOC NYC

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“Beautiful Something Left Behind” is a simple, elegant documentary about children coping with… heartbreaking loss, at a facility designed especially for them.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times

“Very emotional. Heart warming and uplifting.” – FILM THREAT

“There are no manufactured moments of intense grief, just the day-to-day activities of parents, caregivers, and children doing their best to move on from the trauma they’ve experienced.” – Audrey Fox, JumpCut Online

“Katrine Philp’s lens gracefully avoids emotional manipulation, allowing the heartbreaking stories of its children and their process to take center stage” – THE FILM STAGE

Sing Me a Song – Director Thomas Balmès

Award-winning director/producer Thomas Balmès’ returns to one of his beloved Happiness (2014) subjects, Peyangki, now a teenaged Buddhist monk living in a rural (yet Wi-Fi equipped) monastery in Bhutan, absorbed in the wonders of the world that are a simple click away. The structured daily village rituals of prayer and candle lighting now compete with the powerful lure of smartphones and TV.  Apps for chats and dating introduce the monks to girls and violent video games, neither of which quite line up with the traditional vows of the monks. Peyangki is passionate about love songs and forms a relationship over an app, WeChat, with a young singer (Ugyen) in the “big city” of Thimphu. Distracted and disinterested in study, and often scolded by his masters and mother, he sells medicinal mushrooms to make enough money to leave the monastery and travel to Ugyen. Peyangki trades in his robes for street clothes, but will he succumb to romance and the temptations of the city or return to his pious life in the monastery? Director Thomas Balmès (Babies, Christ Comes to Papuans, A Decent Factory) joins us to talk about his nuanced portrait of a young man’s introduction to the world, offers us an eye-opening snapshot of the effects of technology, and challenges us to reassess our perceptions of self-worth and beliefs in an age of unparalleled connectivity.

 

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For news and updates go to: thomasbalmes.com/sing-me-a-song

About the filmmaker – Thomas Balmès directed his first film in 1996; BOSNIA HOTEL was the story of U.N. Kenyan peacekeepers in Bosnia. Thomas Balmès has been working as an independent director and producer of nonfiction films, specializing in international co-productions, since 1992. His initial projects included studies of filmmakers James Ivory and Michelangelo Antonioni. This was followed by MAHARAJAH BURGER; Mad Cows; Holy Cows, about the mad cow crisis as seen from the Indian perspective. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO THE PAPUANS (2000) following the conversion to Christianity of a Papuan Chief, was honored with the Silver Spire Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival. He directed a sequel in Papua the following year, WAITING FOR JESUS. A DECENT FACTORY, the story of a Nokia executive who inspects a mobile phone factory in China, was screened at more than 50 film festivals and received many honors, including a Europa Award. The film was released theatrically in the U.S. in 2005. DAMAGES, a.k.a. How Much Is Your Life Worth?, was filmed at a Connecticut law firm specializing in personal injury cases, and was co-produced by 15 countries and broadcast worldwide. Thomas initiated a series for national Japanese television : NHK, Tokyo Modern; and produced (A NORMAL LIFE – CHRONICLE OF A SUMO Wrestler), directed by Jill Coulon, which screened at Amsterdam’s 2009 International Documentary Film Festival. He is regularly invited to conduct lectures and master classes in France and abroad such as Brown University, the Watson Institute, Lisbon International Film Festival. His next film, BABIES takes a look at one year in the life of four babies from around the world, from Mongolia to Namibia to San Francisco to Tokyo. Happiness reflects the impact of the arrival of television in a small Himalayan village. Through the eyes of an eight years old monk named Peyangki, praying eagerly for a TV set, we see the last village of Bhutan going through the process of globalization. The film won the Documentary World Cinema Cinematography Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. For more go to: thomasbalmes.com

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90% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Balmès has greater profundity in mind when disseminating astute observations about how modern necessities and communicative devices impact cultures and ecosystems.” – Courtney Howard, Variety

“Balmès doesn’t arrive at easy, scathing conclusions about the internet. Instead, he lets the camera journey to unexpected places, leading to a different kind of meditation that strikes with deep emotional resonance…” – Kristen Yoonsoo Kim, New York Times

“Even if we see “trouble” the minute we spy that first phone, we don’t necessarily guess how this fascinating “speed of change” story will play out.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

“This film will not resolve the question of whether technological “progress” represents an advance or a decline in civilization, but it certainly will provoke conversations about that issue.” – Stephen Farber, Hollywood Reporter

Phoenix Rising – Co-directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui

RISING PHOENIX tells the extraordinary story of the Paralympic Games. From the rubble of World War II to the third biggest sporting event on the planet, the Paralympics sparked a global movement which continues to change the way the world thinks about disability, diversity & human potential.The film features breathtaking footage and compelling interviews with several Medal-Winning Paralympians including Tatyana McFadden (Para Athletics, United States), Bebe Vio (Wheelchair Fencing), Jean-Baptiste Alaize (Para Long Jump), Ntando Mahlangu (Para Track & Field), Matt Stutzman (Para Archery, United States), Jonnie Peacock (Para Sprint Runner), Ryley Batt (Para Wheelchair Ruby), Ellie Cole (Para Swimming), and Cui Zhe (Powerlifting). It also features an interview with Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex. RISING PHOENIX Co-directors Peter Ettedgui and Ian Bonhôte makers of the BAFTA nominated McQueen, join us to talk about remarkable athletes who have worked most of their lives to fulfill the dream of being an Olympic champion as well as the story of the ParaOlympic founder, Ludwig Guttman, a Jewish doctor who rescued people from Nazi camps and believed in the power of community to heal and empower.

 

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To watch go to: netflix.com/Rising Phoenix

To coincide with the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the film team have launched an educational website for RISING PHOENIX that includes a down-loadable Education Guide, providing a framework and resources to enable teachers to delve deeper into the subject matter in the classroom.

About the filmmaker – Peter Ettedgui’s ‘Rising Phoenix’ marks Peter’s second feature documentary as writer and director with Ian Bonhôte, following their collaboration on ‘McQueen’ in 2018. Described as “supremely engrossing and elegant” by Variety, the film was nominated for two Baftas (British Film and Documentary). Previously, Peter had cut his teeth in the non-fiction arena as writer of ‘Everything Or Nothing’ (the story of James Bond) and ‘Listen to Me, Marlon’ (a film biography of Marlon Brando told through the actor’s audio archive), for which Peter was the recipient of a Peabody Award and the IDA (Independent Documentary Award) for best writing in a documentary. Peter began his career in narrative fiction. He worked as director’s assistant and co-writer to Ken Russell on a number of feature and television projects, before writing screenplays including the Bafta-nominated ‘Onegin’, an adaptation of Pushkin’s classic tale of unrequited love, which starred Ralph Fiennes and Liv Tyler. He went on to produce films such as ‘Kinky Boots’, starring Joel Edgerton and Chiwitel Ejiofor, which became a hit Broadway/West End musical, and ‘Unmade Beds’ for Film4.Beyond his work as writer and producer, Peter has worked extensively as a development consultant and story editor including on ‘Spectre’ the 2017 Bond movie.  For more go to: misfitsentertainment.com

About the filmmaker – IAN BONHÔTE is a two times BAFTA nominated director and producer for MCQUEEN, a feature documentary on Alexander McQueen the iconic fashion designer. RISING PHOENIX is Ian’s second documentary which he has co-written and co-directed alongside Peter Ettedgui. The film covers the story of the Paralympics from its humble beginning to becoming the third biggest sporting event in the world. Ian’s directorial debut, ALLEYCATS, was distributed internationally by Universal pictures in over 25 territories and by Filmmode in the US/Canada. Following this, Ian co-founded MISFITS ENTERTAINMENT alongside Andee Ryder, the producer of Alleycats. In 2018 Misfits Entertainment produced VIKING DESTINY, an action adventure film starring Terence Stamp. Prior to this, Ian co-founded PULSE FILMS in 2005 alongside Thomas Benski and Marisa Clifford. Pulse Films recently produced GANGS OF LONDON and AMERICAN HONEY (2016 Jury Prize Cannes Winner). The company is now a part of the VICE MEDIA GROUP. Ian has also directed international campaigns, music videos and fashion films for clients such as Puma, Nike, Pepsi, Mumford & Sons, Tom Jones, and fashion designers Matthew Williamson and Hussein Chalayan. For more go to: misfitsentertainment.com

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90% on Rotten Tomatoes

“‘Phoenix’ is a testament to resiliency, determination and passion, and is one of the best documentaries of 2020.” – Randy Myers, San Jose Mercury News

“There are athletes all across the spectrum of sport who would kill to have a documentary portray them as heroic, epic and badass as Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui paint the superstars in “Rising Phoenix. – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

This is profoundly inspiring… It is an extraordinary look at what makes us human.” – Wade Major, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

“Gives sports fans a jolt of greatness, inspiration, history and drop-dead gorgeous photography” – Carole Horst, Variety

“Slick, rousing documentary” – Tim Grierson, Screen Daily

The Reason I Jump – Director Jerry Rothwell

THE REASON I JUMP is an immersive cinematic exploration of neuro-diversity through the experiences of non-speaking autistic people from around the world, based on the best-selling book by Naoki Higashida. The film blends Higashida’s revelatory insights into autism, written when he was just 13, with intimate portraits of five remarkable young people. It opens a window for audiences into an intense and overwhelming, but often joyful, sensory universe. Moments in the lives of each of the characters are linked by the journey of a young Japanese boy through an epic landscape; narrated passages from Naoki’s writing reflect on what his autism means to him and others, how his perception of the world differs, and why he acts in the way he does: the reason he jumps. THE REASON I JUMP distills these elements into a sensually rich tapestry that leads us to Naoki’s core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say. Director Jerry Rothwell stops by to talk about his deeply empathetic look into the lives of people with autism from around the world, with each story broadening our perspective and understanding of what it means to be a neuro-diverse person. 

 

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For news and updates go to: the-reason-i-jump

About the filmmaker – Jerry Rothwell is a filmmaker whose work includes the award-winning feature documentaries: The Reason I Jump, based on the bestselling book by Naoki Higashida; How To Change The World, about the founders of Greenpeace; Sour Grapes (co-directed with Reuben Atlas) a film about a wine counterfeiter Town of Runners, about two girls in an Ethiopian village who aspire to be athletes; Donor Unknown, about a sperm donor and his many offspring; School In The Cloud, about radical educationalist, Sugata Mitra; Heavy Load, about a group of people with learning disabilities who form a punk band, and Deep Water (co-directed with Louise Osmond), about Donald Crowhurst’s ill-fated voyage in the 1968 round the world yacht race. His work has won numerous accolades including two Grierson Awards, a Sundance Special Jury Prize, an RTS Award, the IDA Pare Lorentz Award and a BAFTA nomination.

About the writer (The Reason I Jump) – Naoki Higashida was born in Kimitsu, Japan in 1992. Diagnosed with severe autism when he was five, he subsequently learned to communicate using a handmade alphabet grid and began to write poems and short stories. At the age of thirteen he wrote The Reason I Jump, which was published in Japan in 2007. Its English translation came out in 2013, and it has now been published in more than thirty languages. Higashida has since published several books in Japan, including children’s and picture books, poems, and essays. He continues to give presentations throughout Japan about his experience of autism.

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WINNER – World Cinema Documentary Audience Award – Sundance FF 2020 
NOMINEE – Best Cinematography – Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards 2020
NOMINEE – Best Feature – IDA Documentary Awards 2020
NOMINEE – Best Director – IDA Documentary Awards 2020 NOMINEE – Best Documentary – British Independent Film Awards 2020

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Wondrous… A work that enlightens and informs but that is also ravishing

to behold.” – Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter

“While The Reason I Jump is a profound and moving experience, one that isn’t easy to forget, it’s most effective when operating as an experimental work.” – John Fink, The Film Stage

“An inventive, sensuous documentary worthy of its source… This compassionate, creative documentary will open ears and eyes in equal measure.” – Guy Lodge, Variety

“Exquisite… All aspects of this film deserve praise.” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen

Two Ways Home – Director Ron Vignone and Producer / Actor Tanna Frederick

Based on Richard Schinnow’s screenplay,  TWO WAYS HOME compassionately follows Kathy (Tanna Frederick), a woman newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder who is released from prison on good behavior and returns to her country home in Iowa to reconnect with her estranged 12-year-old daughter (Rylie Behr) and her cantankerous elderly grandfather (Tom Bower). Her return home is turbulent and a rough, unwelcome transition in which Kathy must come to terms with her diagnosis and its implications on her identity, while also realizing that her family was happier when she was gone. As she struggles to maintain balance with her condition, complications with her daughter’s well-being and her grandfather’s health test her sense of self-worth to the limit. TWO WAYS HOME masterfully showcases Iowa’s small town beauty and sympathetically highlights the importance of mental wellness and self-discovery. Director Ron Vignone and actor / producer Tanna Frederick join us to talk about their collaboration in the making of a film that features a person dealing with a mental illness without making it the only thing we should care about in TWO WAYS HOME.

 

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

Tanna Frederick is an Actress, Producer, and Environmental Activist. She has starred in six feature films with film iconoclast Henry Jaglom, and has won numerous Best Actress awards on the festival circuit. Method Fest named her “One to Watch”; she has received the CineCause Award, the University of Iowa’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival’s Maverick Award. Tanna alongside director Randal Kleiser (Grease) created and launched DEFROST, a revolutionary virtual reality experience, premiering at Sundance and Cannes. She is the founder of ProjectSaveOurSurf.org hosting monthly beach cleanups and a camp, which has reached thousands of displaced youth in Southern California and Mexico, educating them on environmental issues in our oceans.

Ron Vignone is an award-winning director whose filmmaking revolves around issues that are deeply personal and important in his life. Two Ways Home, his latest effort, is an edgy slice of Americana about a woman living with bipolar condition who aims to reunite with her estranged teenage daughter in their sleepy Iowa hometown. “Taking the shame out of our conditions” was a theme that drew Ron to making Two Ways Home. A graduate of the University of Southern California, Vignone’s work as a filmmaker has focused on protagonists who embark on a physical journey while struggling with their deeply conflicted interiors. Ron’s inspirations come from compromising situations while traveling, his family, great literature, and strong Italian coffee.

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TWO WAYS HOME has been officially endorsed by National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

“TWO WAYS HOME… makes for a thoughtful, warm journey back to a place a lot of Americans will recognize, even those of us who moved away.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

‘”TWO WAYS HOME makes a valuable contribution to the public understanding of mental health issues and to reduce stigma surrounding them…” – Mitzi Wright, National Alliance on Mental Illness (LA, California chapter)

“With star Tanna Frederick producing, Two Ways Home was directed by Ron Vignone and filmed in Iowa. They found the right mix: one false move in any direction and the tone could have gone off the rails into hopeless Hallmark-channel schmaltz, or incomprehensible chaos. Amazingly, Frederick and Vignone masterfully created a moving film that pulls no punches while compassionately exploring life with mental illness.” – FIlm Threat

“One actress and film that stood out to us is Tanna Frederick from Two Ways Home. Tanna Frederick is captivating, raw, and lights up the screen. Frederick’s performance also provokes intense emotion from the audience. You find yourself rooting for her character, Kathy, who is fighting hard to put her family back together. Tanna Frederick is an incredibly gifted actress.” – GEMMA

“TWH will make a significant difference in people’s lives and is a powerful tool to further families’ understanding and education about bi-polar illness.” – Yin Simpson, National Alliance on Mental Illness (Minneapolis, MN chapter)

Nasrin – Director Jeff Kaufman and Producer Marcia S. Ross

Directed, produced, and written by Jeff Kaufman and produced by Marcia S. Ross (Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life) NASRIN is an immersive portrait of one of the world’s most courageous human rights activists and an outspoken leader of Iran’s remarkably resilient women’s rights movement. She is currently in the fifth week of a hunger strike and serving a long sentence in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. Millions of people from over 200 nations have called for Nasrin’s release including President-elect Joe Biden; journalist Christiane Amanpour; journalist/activist Gloria Steinem; author Margaret Atwood; Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, and many others. Secretly filmed in Iran by men and women who risked arrest, NASRIN features interviews with acclaimed filmmaker Jafar Panahi, Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, journalist Ann Curry, and Nasrin’s husband and fellow-activist Reza Khandan. NASRIN is narrated by Oscar® winning actress Olivia Colman and also features an original song by Tony Award®-winning composers Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty and performed by 4-time Grammy® winner Angélique Kidjo. In addition, Washington Post columnist and former political prisoner Jason Rezaian serves as one of the film’s Executive Producers. Director Jeff Kaufman and Producer Marcia S. Ross join us to talk about one of the world’s most courageous woman and about the daily challenges she and other civil and women’s rights activist face in one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

Update on Nasrin: As of today, Nasrin Sotoudeh has been ordered back to prison in Iran. Earlier last month, she was released from prison due to health reasons and the corona -19 virus. Then, she had just ended her 40+ day hunger strike at the end of October in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison. Please join us in telling her story and amplifying her voice for her freedom. Nasrin hashtag #StandUp4NASRIN continues to grow daily.

 

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

About the filmmaker – Jeff Kaufman produced, directed, and wrote the documentaries Every Act Of Life (2018 Tribeca premiere, aired June 2019 on American Masters), The State of Marriage, Father Joseph, The Savoy King: Chick Webb and the Music That Changed America, Brush With Life: The Art of Being Edward Biberman, and Education Under Fire, plus a number of short films for Amnesty International, and programs for The Discovery Channel, and The History Channel. He also edited/designed a book based on the film Every Act Of Life, contributed cartoons to The New Yorker, and illustrations to The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, wrote/illustrated several children’s books, and hosted daily radio shows in Vermont and Los Angeles.

About the filmmaker – Marcia Ross produced the documentaries Every Act Of Life, The State of Marriage, Father Joseph, and The Savoy King. Additionally she has an over 3-decade career as an independent casting director and casting executive, serving 16 years as EVP for Casting at Walt Disney Motion Pictures, and 5 years as VP for Casting and Talent Development at Warner Brothers TV. Some of her film and television credits include Clueless, Cujo, thirtysomething, Murder in Mississippi, 10 Things I Hate About You, The Princess Diaries, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, The Lookout, Enchanted, Oblivion, and Parental Guidance. She has received career achievement awards from the Casting Society of America and the Hollywood Film Festival.

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“A terrific documentary by Jeff Kaufman.” – Peter Rainer, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

“Nasirin reaffirmed my faith in the humanity and courage of those in Iran who struggle against a repressive regime.”- Robert Denerstein, Denerstein Unleashed

“Nasrin is a moving portrait of an unforgettable fighter and a vital film that should be seen by audiences around the globe.” – Loren King, AWFJ Women on Film

“This is fortitude writ large.” – Brian Shaer, Film Threat

Yellow Rose – Director Diane Paragas

YELLOW ROSE features Eva Noblezada, who is joined by fellow Miss Saigon alum and Tony Award winner Lea Salonga. The film follows Rose Garcia, a 17-year-old Filipina American in Texas. When her mom is arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Rose undertakes a musical journey while facing deportation back to the Philippines. Inspired by the music of country musicians like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Willie Nelson, the original composition accompanied by Noblezada’s captivating voice becomes the soundtrack of Rose’s wanderings akin to American westerns. YELLOW ROSE Director Diane Paragas joins us to talk about her warm-hearted tale of a young woman’s determination to fight back against the cruelty of a heartless immigration system while pursuing her own version of the American Dream deep in the heart of Texas with Austin’s music icon, Dale Watson at her side.

 

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

Yellow Rose is available on Digital now and on Blu-ray and DVD January 5

About the filmmaker – Diane Paragas is an award-winning director, editor, cinematographer and producer of commercials, narrative features and documentaries. IN 2012, Paragas co-directed Brooklyn Boheme, a feature length documentary about an African American arts movement, with writer and critic Nelson George.  The film featuring Spike Lee, Chris Rock and Rosie Perez to name a few. The film was acquired by Showtime and won a Black Reel Award for Best Documentary. In 2019, Paragas wrote and directed her debut narrative feature, Yellow Rose, about an undocumented Filipino-American teen pursuing a dream to become a country music singer. The film won over a dozen Grand Jury Prizes during its festival run and will be released by Sony Pictures in 2020. She is also in pre-production for a bold feature documentary about a wrongfully convicted undocumented immigrant called “The Three Lives of David Wong” that uses puppetry to tell its story. The film was is supported by The Sundance Institute,  The Bertha Foundation Grant and CAAM. Ms Paragas is a 2020 recipient of the prestigious Creative Capital Award  and was named as A100’s Most Impactful Asians of 2020 alongside directors Bong Joon Ho, Taika Waititi and Lulu Wang. 

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“The film beautifully captures the struggles of a young woman to find her voice and a sense of belonging in an often hostile world as it celebrates the joy of making music and its power to provide hope.” – Loren King, AWFJ Women on Film

“Diane Paragas’ film finds fresh ground to explore the price and the power of the American dream, bolstered by country crooning and heartbreaking (and very real) legal worries.” – Kate Erbland, indieWire

“Writer-director Diane Paragas spins a story that is both politically timely and personal.” – Kristen Yoonsoo Kim, New York Times

“An affecting portrayal of a young woman finding her footing against all odds, and claiming her home in a nation that makes it unduly challenging.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

“The lean screenplay and [Diane] Paragas’ focused creative vision makes for a singular directorial feature debut that feels like nothing else happening in film right now.” – Beth Sullivan, Austin Chronicle

HERSELF – Director Phyllida Lloyd

HERSELF tells the story of Sandra (Clare Dunne) a single mom looking to escape her abusive partner with her two young children, only to find herself trapped in temporary accommodation. After months of struggling, she draws inspiration from one of her daughter’s bedtime stories and hits upon the idea of self-building an affordable home. She finds an architect who provides her with plans and is offered land by Peggy (Harriet Walter), a woman she cleans for. Aido (Conleth Hill), a building contractor, appears willing to help, too. In order to do so, she must escape the grip of a possessive ex-partner, circumnavigate a broken housing system, and bring together a community of friends who can support her and lend a helping hand. But as her past rears its head in the form of Gary (Ian Lloyd Anderson), her possessive ex, and as bureaucrats fight back against her independent spirit, will Sandra be able to rebuild her life from the ground up? Director Phyllida Lloyd (The Iron Lady, Mama Mia!) joins us to talk about her beautifully rendered story about a young woman who refuses to give up on her girls, her her life and her dreams.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: herself.film

About the filmmaker – Director Phyllida Lloyd studied English and drama at Birmingham University and is now widely known for her award-winning work in theatre, opera and film. Her opera credits include La Bohème, Albert Herring, Carmen and Peter Grimes for Opera North, The Carmelites for English National Opera and Welsh National Opera, The Handmaid’s Tale for Royal Danish Opera and ENO, the Ring cycle and a staged production of Verdi’s Requiem for ENO, Macbeth for Paris Opéra and an award-winning film of Gloriana for BBC2. Her theatre and musical credits include Josephine and I (Bush Theatre/Public Theatre, New York), Mary Stuart (Donmar Warehouse, West End and Broadway; winner of a 2006 South Bank Show Theatre Award), Six Degrees of Separation and Wild East (Royal Court), Henry IV and Julius Caesar (Donmar Warehouse/St Ann’s Warehouse), Pericles, The Duchess of Malfi, What the Butler Saw, The Way of the World and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (National Theatre), The Virtuoso and Artists and Admirers (Royal Shakespeare Company) and the global musical hit Mamma Mia!. Lloyd directed the film of Mamma Mia! in 2008, which went on to make over $600 million worldwide. She also directed The Iron Lady in 2011, which went on to win a Best Actress Oscar for its star, Meryl Streep, as well as grossing over $100 million at the box office. 

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“A stunning, taut performance from actor and co-writer Dunne cuts through a flurry of clumsy good intentions to convince. The film is at its most powerful when it rests on her traumatised face.” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen International

“So many films are branded ‘urgent’ nowadays, but in the case of Herself the term really does feel apt.” – Hannah Woodhead, Little White Lies

“With her elegant, restrained and quietly devastating performance as a headstrong yet financially struggling single-mother of two young girls, Clare Dunne is a revelation [in Herself].” – Tomris Laffly, RogerEbert.com

“If there is a lot of “happy coincidence” driving the plot, Dunne gets away with it by constructing this tale of female resilience and community from the ground up, through well-observed moments between mother and daughters.” – Amber Wilkinson, Times (UK)

Boys vs. Girls – Director Mike Stasko

Mike Stasko’s BOYS vs. GIRLS drops us into the summer of 1990, Camp Kindlewood is being forced to go co-ed for the first time in its seventy-year existence. Roger (Colin Mochrie, Whose Line Is It Anyway?), the camp director, tries to convince both sides that this is a great idea in an effort to keep the camp off the corporate chopping block. But after head counsellors Dale (Eric Osborne,  Degrassi) and Amber (Rachel Dagenais, The Birder) have an awkward encounter, all bets are off. Both Dale and Amber rally their sides in an attempt to win back their camp and gain dominance over what they feel is rightfully theirs.  This battle of the sexes sets off a series of pranks and mischief, fueled by camp caretaker Coffee (Kevin McDonald,  The Kids in the Hall), as the boys and girls fight for their summertime home. BOYS vs. GIRLS Director / Producer / Writer Mike Stasko joins us to talk about the collaboration with comedic stalwarts Colin Mochrie and Kevin McDonald and showcasing talented newcomers like Eric Osborne and Rachel Dagenais in his rowdy battle of the sexes.

For news, screenings and updates go to: boysvgirlsmovie.ca

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“I really enjoyed the heck out of the tone and overall fun attitude that went into making this movie.” – Edward Douglas, The Weekend Warrior

“Be patient, and you’ll have fun.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat

Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults – Director Clay Tweel

Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults is a thorough examination of the infamous UFO cult through the eyes of its former members and loved ones. What started in 1975 with the disappearance of 20 people from a small town in Oregon, ended in 1997 with the largest suicide on US soil and changed the face of modern New Age religion forever. This HBO Max four-part docu-series uses never-before-seen footage and first-person accounts to explore the infamous UFO cult that shocked the nation with their out-of-this-world beliefs. Director and Producer Clay Tweel joins us for a rollicking conversation on one of the most sensational and compelling collection of intelligent, engaging, and spiritually inspired people to ever embrace a collection of beliefs, brought to them by former minister and natal nurse, that eventually led them to hitch a ride on an undetectable space ship heading for parts unknown.

 

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Heaven’s Gate: Cult of Cults can be seen on: hbomax.com

In the beginning… The son of a Presbyterian minister and a former soldier, Marshall Applewhite began his foray into biblical prophecy in the early 1970s. After being fired from the University of St. Thomas in HoustonTexas over an alleged relationship with one of his male students, he met Bonnie Nettles, a 44-year-old married nurse with an interest in theosophy and biblical prophecy, in March 1972. According to Applewhite’s writings, the two met in a hospital where she worked while he was visiting a sick friend there. It has been rumored that it was a psychiatric hospital, but Nettles was substituting for another nurse working with premature babies in the nursery.  Applewhite later recalled that he felt as though he had known Nettles for a long time and concluded that they had met in a past life. She told him their meeting had been foretold to her by extraterrestrials, persuading him that he had a divine assignment. – (from Wikipedia) 

About the filmmaker – Clay Tweel is a native Virginian living in Los Angeles, California. Clay is a documentary director/producer/editor with a passion for telling great character based stories. His works include Make Believe, Print the Legend, Finders Keepers, Out of Omaha and Gleason – the last of which was shortlisted for an Academy Award and named one of the 5 best documentaries of 2016 by the National Board of Review. His features have been distributed by Showtime, Netflix, and Amazon Studios while working closely with companies that include Open Road, The Orchard and Exhibit A. Most recently, Clay executive produced and directed all six episodes of The Innocent Man, a true crime doc series for Netflix based on John Grisham’s only non fiction book. He is currently directing a feature documentary and producing numerous projects under his banner Parkside Films. claytweel.com

About the filmmaker – Shannon Riggs is a producer with a diverse background in film spanning multiple genres and scales. Alongside award winning director Clay Tweel, she produced the Netflix 6 part docu-series, The Innocent Man, and the Academy Award shortlisted documentary Gleason. Recently Shannon produced The Smartest Kids In the World based on Amanda Ripley’s New York Times bestseller, which premiered at DOC NYC in 2018 and was directed by Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, Tracy Droz Tragos. Shannon was a Sundance Fellow and participant in their 2015  Female Filmmaker Initiative.  She is also honored to be a member of Women in Film and actively mentors young filmmakers through various industry programs.   She is currently producing a feature documentary and numerous projects under her banner Parkside Films with co-founder and director Clay Tweel.

86% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Heaven’s Gate: Cult of Cults is a thoughtful assessment of the mechanisms of how otherwise smart, savvy people are attracted to fringe beliefs. It takes a story that is larger than life and brings it solidly back to earth.” – Ashlie D. Stevens, Salon.com

“What The Cult Of Cults does very effectively is tell the story of the organization, showing why it attracted members and held onto them for so long.” – Joel Keller, Decider

“Viewers may bob in and out during the first few episodes, though it’s worth sticking out for the grand finale, as sickening as it is oddly poignant.” – Ryan Lattanzio, indieWire

“The human toll isn’t lost among the kooky, UFO-centric beliefs of Ti and Do’s followers.” – Beau North, The Spool

Finding Yingying – Jiayan “Jenny” Shi

FINDING YINGYING follows the nightmarish story of a 26-year-old Chinese student, Yingying Zhang, who comes to the U.S. to study. In her detailed and beautiful diaries, the aspiring young scientist and teacher is full of optimism, hoping to also be married and a mother someday. Within weeks of her arrival, Yingying disappears from the campus. Through exclusive access to Yingying’s family and boyfriend, Finding Yingying closely follows their journey as they search to unravel the mystery of her disappearance and seek justice for their daughter while navigating a strange, foreign country. But most of all, Finding Yingying is the story of who Yingying was: a talented young woman loved by her family and friends. Director Jiayan “Jenny” Shi joins us for a conversation on documenting a heartbreaking story, gaining the trust and confidence of a grieving family dealing with some very difficult truths.

 

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

To watch the film go yo: findingyingying.com/see-the-film

About the filmmaker – Jiayan “Jenny” Shi is a Chicago-based documentary filmmaker and video journalist who is passionate about social justice issues regarding people of color. She shoots, edits and produces video stories and short documentaries about immigration, race and crime in Chicago for multiple outlets. She is also working on several projects as a researcher, digital content editor and translator including the ITVS co-produced web series Pulling The Thread and the 2020 Academy Award-winning Higher Ground Netflix film, American Factory. Jenny is a graduate of Kartemquin’s Diverse Voices In Docs program, a TFI Network alum, the winner of the Paley DocPitch Competition 2018 and a fellow of 2020-2021 Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellowship. Jenny is named one of the DOC NYC “40 Under 40” filmmakers.

About Kartemquin – Sparking democracy through documentary since 1966, Kartemquin is a collaborative community that empowers documentary makers who create stories that foster a more engaged and just society. Kartemquin’s films have received four Academy Award® nominations and won many more major prizes, including six Emmys® and four Peabody Awards. Recognized as a leading advocate for independent public media, Kartemquin has helped hundreds of artists via its filmmaker development programs and championing of documentary.Kartemquin is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization based in Chicago.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“It’s remarkable how Finding Yingying gets away from the traditional framework that governs how these stories are told, allowing the Zhangs to be seen separately from the horrific situation they find themselves in…” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest

“’Finding Yingying proves that centering the lives lost and the loved ones left behind can make for an intriguing a true-crime documentary.” – Jonita Davis, The Black Cape

“Compelling, heartfelt, and just as frustrating to watch – Finding Yingying not only makes for one of the most essential watches of the year but also for the sake of much-needed change.” – Andrew J. Salazar, Geeks of Color

“Intimate and haunting.” – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter

Through the Night – Director Loira Limbal

THROUGH THE NIGHT is a cinema vérité portrait of three working mothers whose lives intersect at Dee’s Tots Daycare in New Rochelle, NY: a mother working the overnight shift as a pediatric nurse; another holding down three low-wage jobs to support her two girls; and Deloris “Nunu” Hogan, who for over two decades has cared for the children of parents with nowhere else to turn. A tender portrait of titanic strength, love and selflessness, THROUGH THE NIGHT showcases the multiplicity of “women’s work” – paid, underpaid and unpaid; emotional and physical; domestic and career-oriented – all while negotiating the terms of a dignified existence under the three arrows of racism, sexism and capitalism in America. THROUGH THE NIGHT will open this Friday, December 11th at the Laemmle Virtual Cinema in addition to virtual cinemas around the country. Director Loira Limbal joins us for a conversation on the myriad of issues raised in this deceptively simple meditation of the why and how millions of hard working people in the home of the brave can do all the right things only to find themselves one random event away from the economic abyss that is modern American life. 

 

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For news and updates go to: throughthenightfilm.com

About the filmmaker – Loira Limbal is an Afro-Dominican filmmaker and DJ based in the Bronx. She is the Senior Vice President of Programs at Firelight Media, an organization that provides mentorship, funding and industry access to emerging filmmakers of color. THROUGH THE NIGHT was an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca, AFI Docs, Camden, Hot Springs Documentary, Double Exposure and DOC NYC festivals. Her first film, ESTILO HIP HOP, aired on PBS in 2009. Loira is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a former Ford Foundation Justfilms/Rockwood Fellow. Additionally, she co-produces and helms the popular Brooklyn monthly #APartyCalledRosiePerez. Limbal received a B.A. in History from Brown University and is a graduate of the Third World Newsreel’s Film and Video Production Training Program. She is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a former Ford Foundation Justfilms/Rockwood Fellow.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“This quietly engaging documentary is also subtly political, showing with clear eyes how good people are trying to patch gaps in our society that shouldn’t be there in the the first place.” – Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

“Through the Night is both celebration and indictment. A sympathetic depiction of “women’s work,” in all its unsung dignity, it’s also a quietly damning portrait of a merciless economy’s effect on working-class mothers… – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter

“Without making it too obvious, Limbal’s documentary shines a light on the unspoken backbone of our economy. – Monica Castillo, Remezcla

‘”Through the Night” won me over though, not because director Loira Limbal has any illusions about objectivity, but because she prefers to step back and show the toll inequality takes on the very people our culture supposedly reveres most – families.” – Andrea Thompson, A Reel of One’s Own

Assassins – Director Ryan White

ASSASSINS documents the bizarre, international plot, ripped from the headlines story of  Kim Jong-nam—the half-brother of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un assassination in the bustling departures hub of Malaysia’s international airport. The spectacularly brazen murder happened in broad daylight, filmed entirely by security cameras. Footage showed two young women approaching Jong-nam from behind, covering his eyes with their hands, and pressing VX—the most lethal nerve gas on earth—into his eyes. He stumbled away and was dead within an hour. But if the murder was extreme, the story behind what came next was even more bizarre: The two women who killed Jong-nam claimed they had simply been hired to pull a video prank and had no idea what they were really doing. The Malaysian government scoffed, arrested and imprisoned the women and put them on trial for murder, facing execution. But was their outlandish story actually the truth? And would anyone believe them? ASSASSINS the latest film from director Ryan White (Ask Dr. Ruth, The Case Against 8), travels from the sanctums of Pyongyang to the rice fields of Indonesia and Vietnam to the courtrooms of Kuala Lumpur to tell an extraordinary tale of manipulation and subterfuge in the age of social media. A masterful investigation that offers an unprecedented look at the real story of Kim Jong-nam’s murder,  ASSASSINS Director Ryan White stops by to discuss the wildly improbable tale of a calculating dictator, a nefarious plot, a very public murder, and two women fighting for their lives.

 

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

For more on the filmmakers go to: tripod-media.com

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Ryan White’s fascinating documentary chronicles plays like a political thriller with tragic consequences for the two women at its center.” – Matt Goldberg, Collider

“It’s a Kafka-esque and sometimes darkly comic tale of deception and exploitation that makes for a smartly assembled and eminently topical film that arrives at a crucial juncture in world affairs…” – Justin Lowe, Hollywood Reporter

“As you watch the movie, I promise that there are moments when your jaw will drop.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“Director Ryan White masterfully breaks down the complex mechanics of North Korean politics and the Malaysian justice system in a fascinating thriller.” – Ian Thomas Malone