Imprisoned by the Soviets. Orphaned by the Holocaust. Elected Prime Minister. Crowned peacemaker by the Nobel Prize Committee. Disgraced by the Lebanon War. Menachem Begin was a pillar of the State of Israel and a tireless fighter for the Jewish people. He was, at the same time, a controversial leader. Whether he was challenging the British, founding the Likud political party or fighting to end bigotry against Middle Eastern and African Jews in Israeli society, his dedication to his country and his people was boundless. Still, that unwavering commitment could bear untoward consequences. In 1948, as Israel fought for its life as a nation, his role in the tragic Altalena Affair that ended in the deaths of 19 Jews, and at Deir Yassin, where more than 100 Palestinians died, including women and children, haunted him until the day he died. As Prime Minister of Israel, he made an historic peace deal with Egypt, and he also gave the go-ahead to bomb Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor. His life is a nuanced and complicated canvas that tells the story of key events and currents in the history of modern Israel and its relationship to its Middle East neighbors. The recent ground-breaking peace agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco make this a propitious time to look back at Begin’s achievements and consider them in a new light. Director Jonathan Gruber stops by for a conversation on one of the most consequential patriots and political leaders in the Israeli history, and a man who was also provided a moral compass for the people he led.
Worldwide Virtual Live Premiere on June 7, 2021 and
Nationwide Watch Now @ Home Cinema Release on June 9, 2021
Director’s Statement When I was asked to direct UPHEAVAL, I immediately knew that the complexity of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s story should be underscored by the need to strike a balance among vastly different political and ideological perspectives. As we see in society today, the gray is often erased in favor of more partisan and oversimplified stances, when, as I see it, there are untold nuances to leadership from which we can learn deeper truths and lessons. This film is a study in the gray. Begin fiercely advocated for Arab-Israeli citizenship but was deemed a radical right-winger for his role infighting for Israel’s independence, as well as expanding Jewish settlements in theWest Bank.He elevated North African and Middle Eastern Jews in Israeli society, helping to counter the discrimination they were facing, and heal so oversaw the rescue of Ethiopian Jews and Vietnamese refugees, welcoming them as immigrants. He sought and achieved peace with Egypt — but also led a tragic and unsuccessful war in Lebanon. Directing the first English-language feature documentary on Prime Minister Begin has been an eye-opening exploration of the heart and mind of one of the most iconic leaders of the 20th century. From his Eastern European roots to becoming an advocate and politician on the world stage, Begin’s humility and modesty belie his courage and resilience. For better or for worse, he stood up for his ideals, and, ultimately, he held himself accountable to them. World leaders today would be wise to learn from someone who did not enrich himself through his position but fought for his values and beliefs on behalf of the people who elected him. – Jonathan Gruber
Unapologetically honest, IT’S NOT A BURDEN: The Humor and Heartache of Raising Elderly Parents provides an intimate look at the multi-layered and endlessly-complex relationships between aging parents and the adult children who care for them. Emmy® nominated filmmaker Michelle Boyaner shares her very personal journey caring for her long-divorced aging parents (her larger-than-life Mother battling dementia, her Father, a hoarder) as well as weaving in a variety of other families supporting stories, including several “When Harry Met Sally” couch-style interviews. Packed with archival and vérité footage, the families of IT’S NOT A BURDEN open their homes and their hearts, sharing stories of the universal issues we face around the topic of caring for our aging parents and reminding us we are not alone. IT’S NOT A BURDEN not only explores the frustrations and fears, but also the transformative bonds that happen when familial roles are reversed, friends support friends and communities come together, exemplifying our capacity to love. Emmy®-nominated director, writer and producer Michelle Boyaner (Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson) and Producer Katie Ford (Miss Congeniality) join us for a conversation on the many challenges as well as the enriching rewards of caring for your loved ones.
It’s Not a Burden will be distributed by Gravitas Ventures (North American), a Red Arrow Studios Company and will be released on VOD in the US on June 1, 2021 on several platforms.
About the filmmaker – Michelle Boyaner – Writer / Director / Produceris an award-winning, Emmy® nominated filmmaker whose projects have included the recent HBO Documentary film Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson, as well as the documentary feature, and festival favorite, A Finished Life: The Goodbye & No Regrets Tour. Documentary shorts include Hi, You’ve Reached Dave’s Apartment, and Tina Paulina: Living on Hope Street, as well as the narrative shorts, You’re Still Young, and The Bedwetter. Prior to her film work, Michelle wrote Oh, for God’s Sake Whisper It, a book of personal essays chronicling her beloved Grandmother’s battle with Alzheimer’s. She is currently also at work on a scripted web series about growing up in the 1970’s in a Southern California suburb.
About the filmmaker – Katie Ford – Producer – is best known for writing the hit film, Miss Congeniality. She is currently co-creator of High Desert, a new series for Apple TV starring Patricia Arquette and produced by Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Productions. Katie has written successfully for both comedy and drama with credits as diverse as the Golden Globe and Emmy-Nominated movie Prayers For Bobby, ABC’s Desperate Housewives, Wonderful World of Disney’s critically acclaimed, Little House on the Prairie mini-series, and TNT’s Transporter series. She got her start at age 21 writing for NBC’s Family Ties. Ford splits her time between writing for TV and Film, and creating new types of storytelling through digital media formats. She has been a guest teacher and lecturer at many Universites and independent classes – working with up-and-coming writers.
It’s been 75 years since the start of the Atomic Age, with the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, but its trail of destruction has never ended. The newly re-mastered Dark Circle, being re-released through First Run Features, covers both the period’s beginnings and its aftermath, providing a scientific primer on the catastrophic power of nuclear energy while also relating tragic human stories detailing the devastating toll radioactive toxicity has taken on people and livestock—focusing in large part on Rocky Flats, Colorado, whose plutonium processing facility infamously contaminated the surrounding area. Documentary Grand Prize winner at Sundance, Academy shortlisted for Best Documentary, and Emmy winner, Dark Circle is no less potent today than it was 40 years ago. Co-director Judy Irving (The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, Pelican Dreams) joins us for an informative and provocative conversation on the history and development of nuclear weapons and nuclear power facilities, as well as the clear and present danger this unimaginably destructive weaponry andtroubled technology continue to pose to the planet and the survival of humanity.
Filmmaker’s Statement – When I set out to make a personal film about the impact of nuclear weapons and power on ordinary people, I had no idea that the movie would create such a ruckus, or that it would still be so relevant 39 years after its release. My aim was to point the camera away from experts and politicians, and find stories about how plutonium is affecting us, even in the absence of a nuclear war. Those effects are not only physical, but psychological and spiritual as well. Having grown up under this nuclear cloud, I wanted to show how nuclear power and weapons are in fact the same industry, despite government propaganda that urges us to see them as separate. Part of understanding this industry required that we travel to Japan to film interviews with survivors of the atomic bombings. We were astonished to discover that we were the first American film crew to do so. American writers and still photographers had been to Hiroshima and Nagasaki before us, but no documentary film crew until we arrived in 1979. To me, this spoke volumes about how much guilt and denial we bring to the issue. After its theatrical release, Dark Circle was accepted for a national broadcast on public television, but then PBS gatekeepers broke the contract. Claiming we were not objective, they insisted that we cut a sequence in which we name the corporations that build the hydrogen bomb, such as General Electric, whose slogan is, ironically, “We bring good things to life.” Many of these corporations are PBS underwriters. We refused to cut the Arms Convention sequence and fought the obvious censorship. It took seven years before PBS finally created a new series, “POV,” to showcase films with a strong point of view, and when Dark Circle was broadcast it won a National News & Documentary Emmy – for PBS! Flash forward three decades: with nuclear stockpiles growing, missile accidents in the news, and nine nuclear states including China flexing their powers with threats, Dark Circle is suddenly relevant again.
About the filmmaker – Pelican Media Executive Director Judy Irving is a Sundance-and-Emmy-Award-winning filmmaker whose theatrical credits include The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, a feature documentary about the relationship between a homeless street musician and a flock of wild parrots in San Francisco, Pelican Dreams, about California brown pelicans and the people who know them best, and Dark Circle, a personal film about the links between nuclear power and weapons. In 2015 Judy was invited to become a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Wild Parrotswas a “Top Ten Film of the Year” (National Film Critics’ Poll), was the highest-rated program on the 2007 national PBS series “Independent Lens,” and is now in international distribution. Pelican Dreams (completed in late 2014), features a young brown pelican who mistakenly landed — tired, hungry, and confused — on the roadway of the Golden Gate Bridge, creating a spectacular traffic jam and re-igniting Judy’s years’-long fascination with these ancient, charismatic birds. Judy spent childhood summers on the North Fork of Long Island, and came to love birds thanks to her grandfather. She graduated from Connecticut College with a degree in Psychology and worked as a freelance journalist in Montreal before hitchhiking across the continent and living on a handmade raft-house in British Columbia. Later, she received her Masters in Film and Broadcasting from Stanford University, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in Film. Her documentary film career has taken her to Alaska, Japan, Russia, Nepal, and Zimbabwe, with peace and the environment as her main areas of interest. For more about Judy Irving go to: pelicanmedia.org
“Dark Circle is one of the most horrifying films I’ve seen, and also sometimes one of the funniest (if you can laugh at the same things in real life that you found amusing in Dr. Strangelove). Using powers granted by the Freedom of Information Act, and sleuthing that turned up government film the government didn’t even know it had, the producers of this film have created a mosaic of the Atomic Age. It is a tribute to the power of the material, and to the relentless digging of the filmmakers, that the movie is completely riveting. Four Stars!”– Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times (1982)
“You owe it to yourself to see this chilling documentary. A much needed warning sign on a very dangerous road. Rated: A.”– People Magazine
“The best of the recent films about the atomic age” – Valerie Ellis, In These Times
“Uncompromising power” – Denver Post
:The most eloquent, far ranging, and convincing film on the subject to date.” John Hartl, Seattle Times
“An urgent horror story, Vincent Canaby, New York Times
Zeshawn Ali’s enthralling feature documentary debut, Two Gods follows Hanif, a Muslim casket maker and ritual body washer in Newark, New Jersey, as he takes two young men under his wing to teach them how to live better lives. He mentors two kids— Furquan, a confident 12- year-old who comes from a rough home and Naz, a 17-year -old who has been fighting through his own struggles as a young black man growing up in Newark. Hardship comes when Furquan’s home life becomes more turbulent and Naz gets caught up in a serious arrest. Hanif fears he has failed as a mentor and begins to fall into a downward spiral. During each of their darkest moments, they take what they’ve learned from their pasts and from each other to pull through. And through faith, brotherhood and redemption they find their purpose. Director Zeshawn Ali joins us for a conversation on meeting subject Hanif, his exploration of this sacred Islamic body washing tradition and how his own family’s recent losses impacted the film’s storytelling trajectory.
Director’s Statement – Two Gods explores the juxtaposition of grief and the rituals of death with the vibrancy of coming of age. The film is a tonal balance between those two worlds, and our choice to shoot in black and white was to show how they’re so delicately interconnected. In this film, we witness a crisis of faith within the older and younger generations. This idea of “two Gods” began coming up within the community as a way to refer to the struggle of feeling like you’re not able to worship God and the streets at the same time. Who do you worship when you’re trying your best to survive? One of the spaces where both generations come together is the janazah (the Islamic funeral) and the body washings. When someone dies, their loved ones and leaders in the community come together to wash the body as a way to prepare them for burial. About two years ago, as we were making this film, I lost my father and grandmother. I went from filming so many washings in this community to having to wash my own father. The grief is so hard to navigate, but the level of preparedness we felt because of the time we spent with Hanif made the process of burying our loved ones much easier. This story means so much to me and my brother Aman (the film’s producer) and I hope to have an impact on audiences in much the same way. Growing up Muslim in America, I always longed for interesting portrayals of Muslim Americans that were not political— stories that were personal, quiet and reflective. Our film gives nuance to our Muslim American community, which has needed a change in the narrative. And it presents a Muslim American story that is intersectional and showcases faith as a fact of life, rather than something that needs to be explained or defended. Two Gods explores a meaningful story in a way that reflects the intimacy, spirituality and vibrancy of coming-of-age and the rituals of death. And through Hanif’s mentorship and the journey and struggles of him, Furquan and Naz, we learn that the fight to find purpose and meaning in those moments, both small and profound, is what finding faith is all is about. It reminds us all that to be human is to grieve love, and fight— for faith, for redemption, and for purpose. – Ali Zeshawn
About the filmmaker – Director Ali Zeshawn is originally from Ohio and is a graduate of Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. Two Gods is his first feature film and has received support from ITVS, Tribeca Film Institute, Ford Foundation, Sundance Institute, Doc Society, Points North Institute and IFP. He is a member of Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective and Meerkat Media. He is currently based in New York. For more: zeshawnali.com
“A timely portrait of lives lost and redeemed.” – The Hollywood Reporter
“We are blessed with both the craft and the documentation of sublime empathy that Ali brings to the film” – POV Magazine
“Ali expertly gathers footage to profile the travails and personal growth of his protagonists. It’s a moving, profound odyssey.” – Hammer to Nail
“[A] captivating feature debut…” – Moveable Fest
“This is real cinema vérité, one that authentically gives say to those who often remain voiceless.” – Film Forward
“A poetic meditation on life, death and the struggle to survive in between.” – Filmmaker Magazine
“Two Gods is a beautiful, deeply empathetic piece of storytelling that takes a ground-level look at our relationship with the biggest ideas in our lives. A masterpiece just waiting to be discovered.” – Criterion Cast
Suzanne (Suzanne Lindon) is sixteen. She is bored with people her own age. From the outside, everything appears lovely in her charmed world, but the everyday monotony of school and her relationships with friends and family feels completely uninspired. Every day on her way to high school, she passes a theater. There, she meets a 35-year-old actor named Raphaël (Arnaud Valois, BPM (Beats Per Minute). Despite their age difference they find in each other an answer to their ennui and develop a strong connection. Immersed in the world of grown-ups and adult choices, Suzanne begins questioning the pitfalls of blossoming too quickly and missing out on life – the life of a 16-year-old, which she had struggled so much to enjoy in the same way as her peers. SPRING BLOSSOM is a masterful and refreshing tale, filled with freewheeling musical numbers, of young teen’s sense of curiosity and wonderment at first-love. Director, writer and lead actor Suzanne Lindon joins us for a conversation on the personal story behind the story of SPRING BLOSSOM, the passion and confidence that propelled this project from diary to distribution and what was going through her mind on the first day the 19 year-old Suzanne step on to the set to direct her debut feature film.
About the filmmaker – Suzanne Lindon is 20 years old and was born IN April 2000 in Paris. At 15, she enrolled at the prestigious French high school Henri IV, and at the same time began writing SPRING BLOSSOM. Suzanne graduated high school with honors in 2018, and decided to take a one year preparatory course in sketching before joining l’Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs of Paris. It’s in 2019, the summer of her 19th birthday, that she decided to dive into preparation for her first feature film as both director and lead actress.
“Still just twenty when she directed and starred in the film, Lindon creates a portrait of first love which is fresh, honest and engaging.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International
“Writer-director Suzanne Lindon’s … dazzling directorial debut once again proves that there’s nothing more romantic than Parisian cafés and sun-bleached boulevards.” – Andrew Murray, The Upcoming
“It’s an extremely accomplished introduction from its young director-star, with Lindon delivering a beguiling take on first love that casually casts off the weight of judgement.” – Emma Simmonds, The List
“Spring Blossom is a light, frothy and charming drama from writer/director Suzanne Lindon, who shows great potential in becoming a formidable director in the future. Recommended.” – Harris Dang, The AU Review
1998’s Academy Award Best Feature Documentary, THE LAST DAYS, filmed in five countries, traces the compelling experiences of five Hungarian Holocaust survivors who fell victim to Hitler’s brutal war against the Jews during the final days of WWII. Including newly discovered historical footage and a rare interview with a former Nazi doctor at Auschwitz, the film tells the remarkable story of five people – now a grandmother, a teacher, a businessman, an artist, and a United States Congressman – as they return from the United States to their hometowns and to the ghettos and concentration camps in which they were imprisoned. Through the eyes of the survivors and other witnesses, THE LAST DAYS recounts one of the most brutal chapters of this dark period in human history, when families were taken from their homes, stripped of their dignity, deported to concentration camps and ultimately murdered. Above all, THE LAST DAYS, is a potent depiction of personal strength and courage. Director James Moll joins us to talk about the film’s recent remastering and upcoming re-release, the enduring power of the five survivor’s stories and why the THE LAST DAYS continues to cast a very long and cautionary shadow over contemporary history.
About the filmmaker – James Moll’s work as a documentary filmmaker has earned him an Oscar, two Emmys and a Grammy, among many other awards. A protege of Steven Spielberg, Moll’s career has focused mostly on non-fiction story telling. Moll recently directed and produced of Foo Fighters Back and Forth, a feature documentary about the sixteen year career of the rock band Foo Fighters, and most recently produced Always Faithful, a feature-length documentary about American military war dogs and their handlers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Together with Matt Damon serving as executive producer, Moll directed and produced the sports adventure documentary Running the Sahara. Filmed in eight countries, the film follows three elite athletes as they attempt be the first to run across the entire Sahara Desert. Moll was the director/editor and producer of Inheritance, for which he received an Emmy Award and was nominated for a second. The film is about the psychological legacy that a prominent Nazi commander (Amon Goethe) left upon his daughter. The NBC feature documentary Price for Peace was directed and produced by Moll, executive produced by Stephen Ambrose and Steven Spielberg. The film focused on WWII in the Pacific, and was hosted by Tom Brokaw. Moll received an Academy Award in 1999 for directing and editing the feature documentary The Last Days, executive produced by Steven Spielberg, chronicling the lives of five Hungarian Holocaust survivors. Moll produced Broken Silence, a collection of five foreign-language documentaries that premiered on primetime television in Russia, Poland, Argentina, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Moll has produced many programs for television, including programming for A&E, Hallmark, Vh1, TBS and History. Survivors of the Holocaust, a documentary produced for TBS earned Moll a Peabody Award and his first Emmy Award (the film was nominated for three). In addition to his work as a filmmaker, Moll established and operated The Shoah Foundation (currently the USC Shoah Foundation Institute) with Steven Spielberg for the purpose of videotaping Holocaust survivor testimonies around the world. The Foundation videotaped over 50,000 testimonies, in 57 countries. Born in Allentown, PA and raised in Los Angeles, Moll earned a degree from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Before graduation, he worked in feature film development for film producer Lauren Shuler Donner (Mr. Mom and the X-Men films). Moll is a member of the DGA, the Motion Picture Academy, and the Television Academy. Moll serves on the Executive Committee of the Documentary Branch of the Motion Picture Academy, and as co-chair for the DGA Documentary Award.For more: allentownproductions.com
Magnificent! Breathtaking!” – Joe Morgenstern, WALL STREET JOURNAL
“Unforgettable!” – Kevin Thomas, LOS ANGELES TIMES
After a startling opening image of extreme tension, first-time solo director Robert Machoian’s stark, slow-burn drama never quite goes where you expect. An evocative and atmospheric transmission from wintry Utah, THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS is a compact, economical portrait of a husband and father trying to keep it together while seething with rage during a trial separation from his wife. An interior drama set mostly outside, on the vast, lonely street where David (a knockout Clayne Crawford) stays with his ailing father just a few doors up from his wife Niki (Sepideh Moafi) and their four kids, Machoian’s film compassionately depicts a family in crisis, while moving at the ominous pace of a thriller. A complex, brooding soundscape from Peter Albrechtsen that seems to emanate directly from the head of its disturbed protagonist, and a claustrophobic aspect ratio contribute to the powerful emotional register of this impressive new work of American independent cinema. Director and writer Robert Machoian joins us for a conversation on the layered storylines, pulling together a superb cast and the importance of calibrating the appropriate atmospherics, such as sound and cinematography, to create a compelling film that punches way above it’s weight class.
About the filmmaker – Robert Machoian – Director & Writer. Born in the small town of King City California, and raised up in the DIY Punk culture, Robert has been taking photographs his whole life and making films for well over a decade. His films have premiered at the Sundance, SXSW, LA, and Tribeca Film Festivals in the States and have screened at festivals around the world. His second feature, God Bless the Child, made with his directing partner Robert Ojeda-Beck, received a rave review in The New York Times and won numerous awards, including best film at CPH:DOX, even though it was a narrative hybrid. Robert and Rodrigo were then nominated for a Cinema Eye Honors Heterdox and Indie Spirit Filmmaker to Watch Awards. Focusing on people living everyday lives whose stories often go untold, they bring their unique vision to weave deeply personal stories that absorb their audiences. Robert has won awards for his cinematography and his photographs have appeared in magazines at Filmmaker Magazine, Indiewire, and Bright Ideas. His work comes from the intimate experiences of his life and the lives of those around him. In 2019 Robert had his fourth short film go to the Sundance Film Festival, which won the Jury Prize for Directing. He is currently working on his first solo feature film. For more: robertmachoian.com
About the filmmaker – Clayne Crawford Producer and Lead Actor is an Alabama native that made his jump to Los Angeles in 1997 and immediately began work in numerous theatre productions. It wasn’t long before his talents were recognized on the big screen with major roles in A Walk to Remember, Swimfan, and A Love Song for Bobby Long. Clayne continued to build his fan base with eclectic roles on hit TV shows such as 24, The Glades, All Signs of Death, and Rectify. His most recent success was the lead role of Martin Riggs in the TV series Lethal Weapon.For more: claynecrawford.online
“A rural counterpart to Marriage Story … driven by a viscerally raw performance from Clayne Crawford.” – David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter
“Crawford’s immaculate performance cements The Killing of Two Lovers as required viewing.” – The Playlist
“The Killing of Two Lovers is flawless in so many ways; the poignant acting, the brilliant sound design, with a narrative so crisp and succinct that not a single moment is wasted.” – Natasha Alvar, Cultured Vultures
“It can best be defined as a cautionary tale dedicated to the fragility of the family structure in the United States, a showcase of a radically talented filmmaker and a dedication to the painful reality of love.” – Jonathan Christian, The Playlist
“Arresting… a poignant, unsentimental depiction of a common circumstance, lent intriguing frisson by the rigor of Machoian’s overall aesthetic.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
In Stephen Maxwell Johnson’s powerful new film, High Ground, a young indigenous man, Gutjuk, teams up with a World War I soldier / ex-sniper, Travis, to track down the dangerous Bayawara, a fierce warrior in the Territory, who is also his uncle. As Travis and Gutjuk journey through the outback they begin to earn each other’s trust, but when the truths of Travis’ past actions are suddenly revealed, it is he who becomes the hunted. High Ground was conceived as a story that would challenge accepted notions of the colonial settlement of Australia. High Ground is a powerful human drama, instilled with a strong sense of hope and fear, a story of treachery, heroism, sacrifice, freedom and love, misguided beliefs, an unequal struggle for power, and grief. But above all it is a story about the finding of one’s roots. Director Stephen Maxwell Johnson joins us for a conversation on the shameful treatment the indigenous peoples of Australia have suffered under, the denial of that history and why it was so important that High Ground reflect the human drama, instilled with a strong sense of hope and fear, but above all a story about the finding of one’s roots.
Director’s Statement – At the heart of High Ground is the tragic story of Frontier encounters and the missed opportunity between two cultures, black and white. High Ground was conceived as a story that would challenge accepted notions of the settlement of Australia. Faced with the myth of terra nullius the aim with the film is to create a new mythology and present a different perspective on how this country was made. It explores the themes of identity and culture and the attempts that were made to preserve and progress culture in the face of an overwhelming threat. High Ground is a story with mythic proportions with complexity and no easy answers. This story presents a view that there really is no such thing as settlement it’s all about conquest, it explores the way in which society is built and how connections are made between people and it exposes the shameful truth of our frontier history but rather than choosing to dramatize a specific historical event ‘High Ground’ draws on contact history from a variety of locations – a fiction to illustrate a deeper truth. High Ground is a powerful human drama, instilled with a strong sense of hope and fear, a story of treachery, heroism, sacrifice, freedom and love, misguided beliefs, an unequal struggle for power, and grief. But above all it is a story about the finding of one’s roots. My aim has been to entertain and immerse an audience in an environment teeming with unexpected threats, and to take them on a ride through an aspect of our history that is under-represented and hopefully encourage them to rethink the Australian story.
About the filmmaker – Stephen Maxwell Johnson grew up in the Bahamas, Africa and the Northern Territory of Australia. He began his film and television career at Channel 9 as a trainee cameraman and has worked on mainstream drama, news and current affairs shows. He attended acting school in London and then headed back to the Northern Territory intent on making his first movie. Stephen established a production house and narrow cast television station in Darwin and directed, produced and photographed drama, documentaries, television commercials, animation, corporate films and rock clips all over the Northern Territory, Australia and many remote Indigenous communities. Stephens work include his multi award winning rock clips for the band Yothu Yindi including ‘Treaty’ an AFI award for best Children’s drama ‘Out There’, an AFI nomination for best direction in television and his first movie which he directed, executive produced and script edited ‘Yolngu Boy’. Stephen has recently completed his second feature film ‘High Ground’ which has been 20 years in the making. High Ground premiered at the at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2020 and will be released in cinemas 2021.
“Australian storytelling that packs a punch and pushes you to think deeply about the history of this country, High Ground captures the raw beauty of Arnhem Land as it does the brutality of colonialism.” Wenlei Ma, News.com.au
“More intimate than epic, but gorgeous, stately and tense, it captures a last burst of tit-for-tat reprisals in a country starting to face its genocidal past and racist present.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“…High Ground is an overwhelming achievement of cinematic brilliance. It continues the legacy of Sweet Country by exposing the horrifying actions of White Australians…” – Andrew F. Peirce, The Curb
“High Ground is a deceptively simple story about the lingering consequences of revenge through racism taken to heights of excellence due to beautiful vistas, top representation of Aboriginal culture and its brutal depiction of violence.” – Harris Dang, The AU Review
“In the magnetic Nayinggul, superb as the boy on the brink of manhood who must choose whether to reject anger or embrace it, the film showcases a notable new talent.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International
Emily @ the Edge of Chaos interweaves Emily Levine’s live performance with animation, appearances by scientists, and animated characters (John Lithgow as Sir Isaac Newton, Lily Tomlin as Ayn Rand, Leonard Nimoy as Sigmund Freud, Richard Lewis as Aristotle, Matt Groening as Aldo Leopold). Emily @ the Edge of Chaos uses physics, which explains how the universe works, to explain our metaphysics – the story of our values, our institutions, our interactions. Using her own experience and a custom blend of insight and humor, provocation and inspiration, personal story and social commentary, Emily takes her audience through its own paradigm shift: from the Fear of Change to the EDGE OF CHAOS!Emily Levine, like her film, was one-of-a-kind. She was a television writer and producer (Designing Women, Love & War and Dangerous Minds), a stand-up performer, and an out-of-the box-thinker, whose brilliant TED Talks have been watched by millions. She made this film with Wendy Apple, who produced and directed it.Wendy died in 2017 and Emily continued working on the film until she also passed away in 2019. Executive Producer Thea Kerman joins us to talk about how her friend and colleague, Emily Levine, poured her heart and should into making this film before cancer took her, and how the unexpected death of the director Wendy Apple played into Thea stepping in to guide the film to completion and distribution.
About Emily Levine – Emily graduated cum laude from Harvard, intent on pursuing a career as an Oracle. Unable to find a good Oracle agent, she settled for a career as a stand-up comedian, headlining in comedy clubs and making television appearances on shows such as David Letterman’s Late Night. The LA Times called her “a stand-out as a stand-up.” Newsweek called her “one of the new queens of comedy.” Her mother called her every week. Later, as a television writer and producer, Emily worked on shows such as Designing Women, Love and War and Dangerous Minds. She created and produced pilots for new situation comedies for CBS, NBC, ABC and HBO. In the 90’s, Emily’s career began to suffer as an undiagnosed tumor in her pituitary gland began to wreak havoc. Lacking an explanation for the weird array of symptoms, including brain fog, osteoarthritis, and a curious lack of interest in consumer-driven activity, she could only believe she was going crazy. The relief that accompanied the eventual diagnosis in 2007 – the fact that there was an actual real reason for her decline – led Emily to fall in love with fact-based reality, aka science. Her movie, “Emily @ the Edge of Chaos,” details this journey, using humor, animations, and guest stars to inspire the country with that same love of fact-based reality. Emily was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2018 and started a blog, “The Yoy of Dying,” that takes it all on. Emily died on February 3, 2019, but Emily’s daughter Abby continues working to release “Emily @ the Edge of Chaos.” You can subscribe to Emily’s Universe and continue to follow Emily’s accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to stay up-to-date. For more about Emily go to: emilysuniverse.com
About the filmmaker – Thea Kerman, Executive Producer, has over 30 years of experience as an entertainment lawyer. She has provided legal services for narrative films such as Donnie Brasco, The Fisher King, Hook, Hairspray, Warriors of Virtue, Bats and Black Dynamite, documentary films such as The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Film Editing and Queen of Hearts: Audrey Flack and worked with clients and talent such as Akiro Kurasawa, Barry Levinson, Sidney Lumet, Bruce Willis, Richard Gere, Al Pacino, Whitney Houston and Kiss. Prior to establishing her own law firm in 1990 in Los Angeles, Ms. Kerman was the Senior Production Counsel for Tri-Star Pictures and served as General Counsel for the Marvel Comics Group.. She was a co-producer on Dukhtar, a U.S./Pakistani/Norwegian/Indian narrative co-production which had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and was the official Pakistani nominee for Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th annual Academy Awards. She was an executive producer of Doctors of the Dark Side, a feature length documentary, and co-producer of Yellow Rose, an American-Fillipino musical drama.
The latest caper / drama / comedy from director Paul Tanter STEALING CHAPLIN was inspired by a surreal plot that took place over 40 years ago. Two Las Vegas based con men decided to dig up and steal the corpse of the legendary silent-era comedian Charlie Chaplin in order to ransom it. The bizarre plot grabs the attention of the nation and sets in motion an escalating reward offer by the family. Before long every local lowlife, criminal and dirty cop is looking to cash in on the easy money. STEALING CHAPLIN is driven forward by a slew of quirky but captivating performances that includes the film’s co-writers Simon Phillips (Age of the Living Dead, No Easy Days), Doug Phillips (Not All Who Wander, Butchers) and producer Ken Bressers (The Nights Before Christmas, Not All Who Wander). The prolific British director Paul Tanter (The Nights Before Christmas, Dystopia, and Kill Ratio) joins us to talk about the inspiration for the film, finding the right tone for a multi-genre story and the lightning fast pace he and his crew worked at to make STEALING CHAPLIN.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. With more than two decades as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events such as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Big Screen Classics series in partnership with Fathom Events, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app. Fans can also enjoy a TCM curated classics experience on HBO Max.
TCM UNDERGROUND – Tune in every Friday night for TCM Underground, our late-night movie franchise that showcases the best of classic cult favorites and hard-to-find films, from experimental shorts to off-beat comedies. For more discussions around the wild, weird world of cult films and films shown on TCM Underground, check out our web series TCM Slumberground on YouTube!
TCM SLUMBERGROUND is the official monthly pre-show for TCM Underground, a late-night cult movie franchise that airs at 2:00 am EST on Friday nights on Turner Classic Movies. In each episode, TCM Underground programmer Millie De Chirico sits down with a panel of her fellow TCM employees to discuss the upcoming double feature and other cult movie topics.
Other Midnight Films at past TCM Classic Film Festivals include: Boom!, Duck Soup, Eraserhead, Freaks, Gog, Island of Lost Souls, Kentucky Fried Movie, Night of the Living Dead, Nothing Lasts Forever, Phase IV, Roar, Santo vs. The Evil Brain,The Bride of Frankenstein, The Day of the Triffids, The Mummy, The Student Nurses, The Tingler, The World’s Greatest Sinner and Zardoz.
In the late 1960s, in the aftermath of the Watts Uprising and against the backdrop of the continuing Civil Rights Movement and the escalating Vietnam War, a group of African and African-American students entered the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, as part of an Ethno-Communications initiative designed to be responsive to communities of color (also including Asian, Chicano and Native American communities). Now referred to as the “L.A. Rebellion,” these mostly unheralded artists created a unique cinematic landscape, as—over the course of two decades—students arrived, mentored one another and passed the torch to the next group. Beyond the films themselves, what makes the L.A. Rebellion movement a discovery worthy of a place in film history is the vitality of its filmmakers, their utopian vision of a better society, their sensitivity to children and gender issues, their willingness to question any and all received wisdom, their identification with the liberation movements in the Third World, and their expression of Black pride and dignity. As part of the 2021 TCM (Turner Classic Movies) Film Festival is spotlighting two of the L.A. Rebellion’s leading lights, Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry in the festival’s Special Collections section. Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry join us for a conversation on their recollections the birth of the L.A. Rebellion and the inspiration for their life altering decision to become filmmakers.
About the filmmaker – Charles Burnett is a writer-director whose work has received extensive honors. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, his family soon moved to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Burnett studied creative writing at UCLA before entering the University’s graduate film program. His thesis project, Killer of Sheep (1977), won accolades at film festivals and a critical devotion; in 1990, it was among the first titles named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. European financing allowed Burnett to shoot his second feature, My Brother’s Wedding (1983), but a rushed debut prevented the filmmaker from completing his final cut until 2007. In 1988, Burnett was awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur (“genius grant”) Fellowship and shortly thereafter Burnett became the first African American recipient of the National Society of Film Critics’ best screenplay award, for To Sleep withAnger (1990). Burnett made the highly acclaimed “Nightjohn” in 1996 for the Disney Channel; his subsequent television works include “Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding” (1998), “Selma, Lord, Selma” (1999), an episode of the seven-part series “Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues” (2003) and “Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property” (2003), which was shown on the PBS series “Independent Lens.” Burnett has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the J. P. Getty Foundation. In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art showcased his work with a month-long retrospective.
To Sleep with Anger – Writer and Director Charles Burnett – A slow-burning masterwork of the early 1990s, this third feature by Charles Burnett is a singular piece of American mythmaking. In a towering performance, Danny Glover plays the enigmatic southern drifter Harry, a devilish charmer who turns up out of the blue on the South Central Los Angeles doorstep of his old friends. In short order, Harry’s presence seems to cast a chaotic spell on what appeared to be a peaceful household, exposing smoldering tensions between parents and children, tradition and change, virtue and temptation. Interweaving evocative strains of gospel and blues with rich, poetic-realist images, To Sleep with Anger is a sublimely stirring film from an autonomous artistic sensibility, a portrait of family resilience steeped in the traditions of African American mysticism and folklore.
About the filmmaker – Billy Woodberry Born in Dallas in 1950, Billy Woodberry is one of the founders of the L.A. Rebellion film movement. His first feature film Bless Their Little Hearts (1983) is a pioneer and essential work of this movement, influenced by Italian neo-realism and the work of Third Cinema filmmakers. The film was awarded with an OCIC and Interfilm awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2013. His latest feature film And when I die, I won’t stay dead (2015) about the beat poet Bob Kaufman was the opening film of MoMA’s Doc Fortnight in 2016. Woodberry has appeared in Charles Burnett’s “When It Rains” (1995) and provided narration for Thom Andersen’s Red HOLLYWOOD” (1996) and James Benning’s “Four Corners”(1998). His work has been screened at Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Harvard Film Archive, Camera Austria Symposium, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Tate Modern and Centre Pompidou. He received his MFA degree from UCLA in 1982 where he also taught at the School of Theater, Film and Television. Since 1989 Billy Woodberry is a faculty member of the School of Film/Video and the School of Art at the California Institute of the Arts.
Bless Their Little Hearts – Director / Producer / Editor Billy Woodberry – A key masterpiece of the L.A Rebellion, Bless Their Little Hearts distills the social concerns and aesthetics of that trailblazing movement in African American cinema. Billy Woodberry’s film showcases his attentive eye, sensitivity to the nuances of community and family, and the power of the blues. Searching for steady work, Charlie Banks (Nate Hardman) views his chronic unemployment as a kind of spiritual trial. But day work and selling a few catfish can’t sustain a family of five. While his wife, Andais (Kaycee Moore), works to support them with dignity, Charlie finds comfort for his wounded sense of manhood in an affair that threatens his marriage and family.At the heart of this devastatingly beautiful film is the couple’s agonizing confrontation – shot in one continuous ten-minute take – that ranks as “one of the great domestic cataclysms of modern movies.” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker) Named to the National Film Registry, Bless Their Little Hearts features contributions by two iconic American artists: Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep, To Sleep With Anger), who wrote and shot the film, and Kaycee Moore (Daughters of the Dust), whose powerful performance as Andais Banks remains a revelation. Film restoration by Ross Lipman with Billy Woodberry at UCLA Film & Television Archive. 2K Digital restoration by Re-Kino, Warsaw. English captions and Spanish subtitles.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM)is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. With more than two decades as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events such as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Big Screen Classics series in partnership with Fathom Events, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app. Fans can also enjoy a TCM curated classics experience on HBO Max.
Produced and directed by filmmaker Bill Morrison, “let me come in” features a new song by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang performed by soprano Angel Blue, one of opera’s brightest stars. The short film incorporates rediscovered (and heavily damaged) footage from the lost 1928 silent film Pawns of Passion to astonishing effect. Filmmaker Bill Morrison, director of the highly acclaimed films Decasia and Dawson City: Frozen Time, has long been fascinated with ancient, decayed nitrate film stock from long-forgotten films—what he describes as “goopy, sticky films deemed not worth saving.” For “let me come in,” he has resurrected footage from what may be the last surviving reels of the 1928 German silent romance Pawns of Passion, discovered in a Pennsylvania barn in 2012. After decades of expanding in hot summers and contracting in freezing winters, the deteriorated nitrate film stock now reveals, in Morrison’s words, “imagery that seems to be pulled from a state of semi-consciousness, asleep but dreaming.” Morrison describes Lang’s song as “a rumination on love and the borderline separating two souls, seemingly from the precipice of consciousness. When I heard Angel Blue’s incredible interpretation, my mind immediately recalled the ambiguous tension in this scene from Pawns of Passion.Left to rot in a barn, and then scanned and archived again for another eight years on my own personal hard drive, it has found a new life through David’s words and music, and Angel Blue’s voice. It was very exciting to see how quickly it came together and how perfectly the image, words and sound meshed.” Director Bill Morrison joins us for conversation on his inspired interpretation of hauntingly beautiful film fragments.
About the filmmaker – Bill Morrison makes films that reframe long-forgotten moving images. His films have premiered at the New York, Rotterdam, Sundance, and Venice film festivals. In 2014 Morrison had a mid-career retrospective at MoMA. His found footage opus Decasia (2002) was the first film of the 21st century to be selected to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. The Great Flood (2013),was recognized with the Smithsonian Ingenuity Award of 2014 for historical scholarship. Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016) was included on over 100 critics’ lists of the best films of the year, and on numerous lists ranking the best films of the decade, including those of the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times and Vanity Fair. His work has previously been seen at LA Opera in productions of David Lang’s “anatomy theater” (2016) and David T. Little’s Soldier Songs (2019). Co-presented by Los Angeles Opera with composer David Lang and soprano Angel Blue. Special thanks to the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. For more go to: billmorrisonfilm.com/bio-filmography
As America currently deals with a rash of anti-Asian sentiment, FAR EAST DEEP SOUTHis a deeply moving story that offers a poignant perspective on race relations, immigration and the deep roots of Chinese Americans in our national identity. The award-winning documentary follows Charles Chiu and his family (including his son, producer Baldwin Chiu, and daughter-in-law, director Larissa Lam) as they travel from California to Mississippi to find answers about Charles’ father, K.C. Lou. A retired Air Force reservist, Charles was left behind in China as a baby and is reluctant to discuss his family’s complicated past with his sons, Baldwin and Edwin. The family’s emotional journey to a place they’ve never seen leads to stunning revelations and a crash course on the surprising history of Chinese immigrants in the segregated South. Through encounters with local residents who remember K.C., as well as interviews with historians, Congresswoman Judy Chu and others, the family’s trip becomes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for discovery and healing.FAR EAST DEEP SOUTH is based off the award-winning short film, Finding Cleveland. The film presents a very personal and unique perspective on immigration, race and American identity. Director Larissa Lam and producer Baldwin Chiu join us for a conversation on how a family trip and personal film project evolved into a revelatory story and sweeping historical overview of the immigrant Chinese experience and deeply moving family saga.
About the filmmaker – Larissa Lam, Director, Writer and Producer, is making her feature film directorial debut with the documentary Far East Deep South. The film has won garnered awards at numerous film festivals including CAAMFest, Cinequest, Oxford Film Festival and Seattle Asian American Film Festival. She previously directed the acclaimed short documentary Finding Cleveland, which is the basis for Far East Deep South. She has produced TV shows such as “Top 3” for JCTV, music videos and other short form videos such as “A Day in the Life of an Engineer” for Intel’s Stay With It campaign. She was part of a distinguished group of filmmakers invited to be part of the Smithsonian’s History Film Forum Emerging Filmmakers Lab. In addition to directing Far East Deep South, Lam is an award-winning singer and songwriter who has released four critically acclaimed solo albums, including her most recent, Love and Discovery. Her song, “I Feel Alive” won the Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Dance Song and was the theme song for a national suicide prevention campaign. Lam began her career as the Chief Financial Officer of NSOUL Records and has written & produced music for TV (The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Oz, E!, TLC), film (Zulu, Gone) and video games (Konami, Square Enix). Lam is passionate about empowering and inspiring others through film, music and speaking engagements. A dynamic speaker, she has spoken on diversity and inclusion, the Asian American experience among other topics at TEDx, Leadercast and numerous universities such as Yale, UCLA and MIT. For nine years, Lam hosted a talk show on JCTV interviewing prominent authors, humanitarians and celebrities. Currently, she hosts the podcast, “Love, Discovery and Dim Sum“, which she co-hosts with her husband, Baldwin Chiu. She is a native of Diamond Bar, CA and graduated UCLA with a degree in Business Economics.
About the filmmaker – Producer Baldwin Chiu and his family are the subjects of Far East Deep South and he teamed up with his wife, Larissa Lam, to produce the film. The film will make its national broadcast debut on “America Reframed” on World Channel (PBS) in May 2021. His family’s story has previously been featured on NBC News and NPR among other media outlets. He is a graduate of the ACT One film producing program, and he previously produced the award-winning documentary short, Finding Cleveland. He was born in San Francisco and raised in Sacramento, where he later graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a degree in mechanical engineering.
STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET takes audiences inside the minds and hearts of the “Sesame Street” creators, artists, writers, and educators who together established one of the most influential and enduring children’s programs in television history. Inspired by the activism of the late 1960s, socially conscious television executive Joan Ganz Cooney and Sesame Workshop co-founder Lloyd Morrisett conducted a revolutionary experiment: to harness the burgeoning power of television and create an educational, impactful, uplifting and entertaining show that could reach children nationwide, especially those living in urban areas. Cooney recruited trailblazing Muppets creator Jim Henson and acclaimed children’s television writer and director Jon Stone to craft the iconic and beloved world of “Sesame Street.”STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET reintroduces this visionary “gang” of mission-driven artists, writers, and educators that audaciously interpreted radical changes in society and created one of most impactful television programs in history. With more than 20 interviews with original writers, cast, and crew, and never-before-seen behind the scenes footage, STREET GANG is told from the inside with humor and emotion, weaving together personal narratives and eyewitness accounts. The film explores the original mission of the “gang” that created this cultural phenomenon, now spanning 50-plus years and reaching more than 150 countries. Director Marilyn Agrelo joins us to talk about the enduring legacy of SESAME STREET as well as the beautifully disruptive and groundbreaking approach to connecting with children and in doing so made them into collaborators and the beneficiaries of this illuminating enterprise.
“Street Gang is a wonderful documentary that would play extraordinarily well whenever it was released, but in this present moment? It feels positively miraculous; a much-needed happy-sad warm blanket indeed.” – Shaun Munro, Flickering Myth
“It’s hard to ask for much more than a doc that captures creatives thoughtfully sneaking the civil revolution as well as basic education into children’s TV and includes a Muppets blooper reel.” – Chris Willman, Variety
“It’s genuinely, enormously inspirational to watch this ragtag band of beatniks and beardos turning sinister Madison Avenue techniques into instruments of learning.” – Sean Burns, Spliced Personality
“Carries tremendous power as an emotional reminder of such a triumphant run, also working beautifully as a reunion with old faces and as an introduction to key behind-the-scenes figures helping to bring inclusion to the masses.” – Brian Orndorf, BrianOrndorf.com
“Street Gang is a loving, emotional tribute to a global brand that tackled racism, education and more with puppets, music through a street that everyone wanted to live on – Sesame Street…” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic
PARIS CALLIGRAMMES is an epic self-portrait of Ulrike Ottinger, one of Germany’s most prominent contemporary avant-garde artists, known for her paintings, photographs, and, above all, her films. An impressive and extensive archive of sensorial memories, historical photographs, and documentary footage traces the early influences of Ottinger’s life in Paris in the 1960s. This was a time marked by her integration into the rich intellectual and cultural circles of the city, but also engagement in the political and social eruptions around the Algerian War and May 1968. These varied dimensions of her experience make PARIS CALLIGRAMMES an essential historical time capsule, beautifully interwoven with the most precious of memories and images. In a rich torrent of archival audio and visuals, paired with extracts from her own artworks and films, Ottinger resurrects the old Saint-Germaindes-Prés and Latin Quarter, with their literary cafés and jazz clubs, and revisits encounters with Jewish exiles, life with her artistic community, the world views of Parisian ethnologists and philosophers, the political upheavals of the Algerian War and May 1968, and the legacy of the colonial era. Director Ulrike Ottinger (Seven Women, Seven Sins, Ticket of No Return, Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia) joins us for a conversation on her life as young painter in Paris in the 1960s, and her personal memories of Parisian bohemianism and the serious social, political and cultural upheavals of the time into a cinematic “figure poem” (calligram) in “Paris Calligrammes”.
“In Paris Calligrammes, the artist Ulrike Ottinger casts a highly personal and subjective gaze back to the twentieth century. At the heart of her film is Paris: its protagonist is the city itself, its streets, neighborhoods, bookstores, cinemas, but also its artists, authors, and intellectuals. It is a place of magical appeal, an artistic biotope, but also a place where the demons of the twentieth century still confront us.” – Bernd Scherer
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“One of the great works of first-person cinema. Ottinger’s personal and political masterwork. Extraordinary; a work of vital and energetic modernism.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“Enriching, stimulating; vital and contradictory. Captures the zeitgeist as experienced by a young woman eager to soak up the cultural riches around her, which she then distilled through her own sensibility to create paintings reflecting the era’s upheavals.” – Jay Weissberg, Variety
“Never a dull moment; the work of a consummate artist who understands the importance of the form matching the story.” – Kaleem Aftab, Cineuropa
“Her cinema is restless, Odyssean: full of stories of exile and adventure. [‘Paris Calligrammes’ is] an homage to the intellectual and artistic life of the city in the 1960s.” – Amy Sherlock, Frieze Magazine
Set in Los Angeles in 1998, PINK SKIES AHEAD follows Winona (Jessica Barden) who, after dropping out of college and moving back home to live with her parents, is diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Skeptical of her doctor’s opinion — she hasn’t had a panic attack after all —Winona carries on with her wild lifestyle. Only when things begin to truly unravel around her, does she reluctantly decide to see a therapist and face her truths. PINK SKIES AHEAD showcases mental health issues in a nuanced and authentic way and is a featured part of MTV’s newly-launched Mental Health is Healthinitiative. PINK SKIES AHEADis Director Kelly Oxford’s feature-length directorial debut and is based on “No Real Danger,” an essay from her second book, “When You Find Out the World Is Against You.” PINK SKIES AHEAD stars Jessica Barden (End of the F***ing World, The New Romantic), Mary J. Blige (The Umbrella Academy), Devon Bostick (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Marcia Gay Harden (Mystic River, Pollock), Michael McKean (Better Call Saul, This Is Spinal Tap), Lewis Pullman (Bad Times at the El Royale), Evan Ross Cameron (The United States vs. Billie Holiday), Odeya Rush (Goosebumps, Lady Bird), Rosa Salazar (Alita: Battle Angel) and Henry Winkler (Barry). Writer and Director Kelly Oxford joins us for a lively conversation on making the jump from novelist / essayist to filmmaker and the role that media and storytelling can play in addressing our nation’s persistent and growing mental health challenges.
PINK SKIES AHEAD, written and directed by New York Times best-selling author Kelly Oxford, will premiere, commercial-free broadcast on Saturday, May 8 at 9:00PM ET/PT on MTV with a simulcast on Pop TV.
Director’s Statement – Pink Skies Ahead is loosely based on events that occurred when I was nineteen years old. It is a manifestation and reckoning with my own anxiety struggles. Purely out of self-protection, I’ve spent my life creating a firmly independent exterior surface that does not reflect my inner turmoil or compulsive and obsessive worried thoughts. As a forty-two-year-old woman, I’m still grappling with shame and denial of my own inner workings as an anxious person. The catharsis of writing and directing Pink Skies Ahead was a huge step in accepting myself. And I hope our film helps others feel less shame in their “not normal” feelings than I did. – Kelly Oxford
Books by Kelly Oxford
Everything Is Perfect When You’re a Liar
When You Find Out the World is Against You: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments
“The catchy title’s a clever way of saying “It gets better,” and in the end, that feels as true for Winona as it does for the high-potential writer-director who created her.”– Peter Debruge, Variety
“Kelly Oxford’s comedically-tinged fictionalized drama paints a staggeringly honest, raw and revelatory portrait that makes for an assured debut directorial feature.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction
“Pink Skies Ahead makes some major strides toward destigmatizing mental health disorders and therapeutic treatment, thanks to Oxford’s empathetic approach and the way she normalizes these experiences through the eyes of her protagonist.” – Brent Hankins, The Lamplight Review
“The heartfelt, autobiographical elements in writer-director Kelly Oxford’s storytelling, coupled with an appealing and empathetic performance by Jessica Barden… provide a real understanding of mental health that so often escapes films and TV shows.” – Alonso Duralde, TheWrap
Yung Chang’s intimate and harrowing latest film, WUHAN WUHAN, is an observational documentary unfolding during February and March, 2020 at the height of the pandemic in Wuhan city, where the coronavirus began. With unprecedented access at the peak of the pandemic lockdown, WUHAN WUHAN goes beyond the statistics and salacious headlines and puts a human experience into the early days of the mysterious virus as Chinese citizens and frontline healthcare workers grappled with an invisible, deadly killer. WUHAN WUHAN focuses on five heart-wrenching and endearing stories: a soft-hearted ER doctor and an unflappable ICU nurse from the COVID-19 hospital; a compassionate volunteer psychologist at a temporary hospital; a tenacious mother and son who are COVID-19 patients navigating the byzantine PRC healthcare system; and a volunteer driver for medical workers and his 9 month pregnant wife whose heartfelt story forms the backbone of this film.In a time when the world needs greater cross-cultural understanding, WUHAN WUHAN is an invaluable depiction of a metropolis joining together to overcome a crisis. Award-winning filmmaker Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze, This is Not a Movie) joins us for a conversation on the daunting challenges associated with a sprawling story with no end in sight and an unknowable trajectory.
Director’s Statement – As a Chinese person who grew-up in North America, I feel strongly committed to telling a nuanced story that doesn’t generalize a population of people and reveals them to be individuals, not just a monolith. Nationalism builds walls and this is not the intention of this film. In WUHAN WUHAN, the lives of the people we follow are individually a document of perseverance, but collectively they represent the profound humanity we universally hope for in times of crisis. I’m driven to make this film because of anti-Asian racism quelled by double-speak and mis-truths from leaders around the world, who obfuscate the realities of this pandemic; that in the end it is the everyday person, the essential frontline workers, the volunteers, the intergenerational families, it is us, who must navigate the ups-and-downs of this unprecedented and historic event that will shape our lives forever. In a way, as systems and governments fail us, the people have come together. We will survive. – Yung Chang
About the filmmaker – Ying Chang is the director of Up the Yangtze (2007), China Heavyweight (2012), and The Fruit Hunters (2012). He is currently completing a screenplay for his first dramatic feature, Eggplant, which was selected in 2015 to participate in the prestigious Sundance Labs. Chang’s films have premiered at international film festivals including Sundance, Berlin, Toronto, and IDFA and have played theatrically in cinemas around the world. Up the Yangtze was one of the top-grossing documentary releases in 2008. In 2013, China Heavyweight became the most widely screened social-issue documentary in Chinese history with an official release in 200 Mainland Chinese cinemas. His films have been critically-acclaimed, receiving awards in Paris, Milan, Vancouver, San Francisco, the Canadian Genie, Taiwan Golden Horse, Cinema Eye Honors, among others and have been nominated at Sundance, the Independent Spirit Awards and the Emmys. Chang’s films have been shown on international broadcasters including PBS, National Geographic, ARTE, ZDF, Channel 4, HBO, TMN, NHK, CBC, TV2, SBS and EBS. Chang is the recipient of the Don Haig Award, the Yolande and Pierre Perrault Award, and the Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award. He is a member of the Directors Guild of Canada. In 2013, he was invited to become a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Jeffrey Wolf’s illuminating documentary BILL TRAYLOR: CHASING GHOSTS explores the life of a unique American artist, a man with a remarkable and unlikely biography. Bill Traylor was born into slavery in 1853 on a cotton plantation in rural Alabama. After the Civil War, Traylor continued to farm the land as a sharecropper until the late 1920s. Aging and alone, he moved to Montgomery and worked odd jobs in the thriving segregated black neighborhood. A decade later, in his late 80s, Traylor became homeless and started to draw and paint, both memories from plantation days and scenes of a radically changing urban culture. Having witnessed profound social and political change during a life spanning slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation, and the Great Migration, Traylor devised his own visual language to translate an oral culture into something original, powerful, and culturally rooted. He made well over a thousand drawings and paintings between 1939-1942. This colorful, strikingly modernist work eventually led him to be recognized as one of America’s greatest self-taught artists and the subject of a Smithsonian retrospective. Using historical and cultural context, BILL TRAYLOR: CHASING GHOSTS brings the spirit and mystery of Traylor’s incomparable art to life. Making dramatic and surprising use of tap dance and evocative period music, the film balances archival photographs and footage, insightful perspectives from his descendents, and Traylor’s striking drawings and paintings to reveal one of America’s most prominent artists to a wide audience. Director Jeffrey Wolf (James Castle: Portrait of an Artist) and Producer Sam Pollard (Eyes on the Prize, MLK/FBI) join us for a conversation on the remarkable life and the unsettling times that infused the strikingly direct and unfettered work of a deeply intuitive artist.
Director’s Statement – My introduction to artist Bill Traylor came with the 1982 watershed exhibit “Black Folk Art in America” in DC. I had applied for a small grant to film the opening, and interview the featured living artists who attended. Traylor’s iconic art was used for the exhibit’s poster and still hangs in my office. Since encountering Bill Traylor’s art some 35 years ago, I have long contemplated his work, wanting to unravel and dig deeper into his world. Today, Bill Traylor is one of the most celebrated self-taught artists, with one of the most remarkable and unlikely biographies. Now, coming full circle, my documentary film Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts will premiere at the opening of a retrospective of his work at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, organized by Leslie Umberger, curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art. Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts strives to broaden our understanding of this period of transformation, a time when black people prospered as business professionals in Montgomery, in spite of living through the fear and volatility of Jim Crow South that impacted daily life. Traylor created his own visual language as a means to communicate and record the stories of his life. Traylor’s art is the sole body of work made by a black artist of his era to survive. He made well over a thousand drawings and paintings on discarded cardboard between 1939 and 1942. Bill Traylor did not begin to draw until he was an old man; and when he did, his burst of creativity demonstrated a unique mastery of artistic technique. Without setting out to do so, he became a chronicler of his times. – Jeffrey Wolf
“Critic’s Pick! A sincere, nourishing account of the artist. Wolf makes excellent use of photo and film archives, laying out the territory that fed Traylor’s vision.” – Glenn Kenny, The New York Times
“Brings the spirit and mystery of Traylor’s art to life and shines a spotlight on a creative gift that was long ignored and marginalized.” – Dave McNary, Variety
“Jeffrey Wolf’s exceptional documentary Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts seeks to tells its subject’s story in a deeply personal way, while also pulling back when needed to contextualize his work.” – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle
“Speaks volumes on the life and times of the artist. The pieces themselves… lend those ghosts of his past a persistent, ethereal relevance.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“A celebration of art and the best of humanity transcending poverty, racism and despair.”– Southern Poverty Law Center
“In Traylor, we can see the power of individual voice… the work is transcendent and essential.”– Jerry Saltz, New York Magazine
“An extraordinary artist… Traylor’s pictures stamp themselves on your eye and mind.”– Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker
TINY TIM: KING FOR A DAY is a biographical documentary about a musician who is not only well known for hits such as TipToe Through The Tulips but for his trailblazing personae that paved the way for other rock stars such as David Bowie, Prince, Iggy Pop and Boy George. An outcast from a young age, Herbert Boudrous Khaury’s rise to stardom as Tiny Tim is the ultimate fairytale. Considered a freak by many of his peers, Tiny Tim left no one unaffected. His wedding to Miss Vicki on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson was watched by over 45 million Americans, and his queer personality has been celebrated by the likes of Bob Dylan and Lady Gaga. There were plans and hopes that Tiny Tim would be a lasting star, not only a novelty act but one man ruined these plans: Tiny Tim. The memorable archival footage, exclusive access to Tiny Tim’s intense diaries, the playful and powerful animations and the interviews with his family and friends makes this film not only a captivating portrait, but also a psychological drama, examining the borderline between insanity and geniality. TINY TIM: KING FOR A DAY is narrated by Weird Al Yankovic – reading from Tiny Tim revealing diary entries – and includes archival footage from D.A. Pennebaker, Jonas Mekas, Andy Warhol and others. Director and Producer Johan von Sydow (Mare Kandre: I Am the Genius!, The Jussi Bjoerling Saga) joins us to talk about the rise and fall of an artist who was one of the most vulnerable, fearless and determined performers to ever stand in front of an audience. TINY TIM: KING FOR A DAY is a unique portrait of one of the oddest stars the world has ever seen.
About the filmmaker – Johan von Sydow is a drector and staff producer at SVT:s well renowned arts and culture show Kobra. His first two documentaries (Mare Kandre and The Jussi Bjoerling Saga) were called “the two best Swedish cultural docs in the 2000s” by a leading tv-critic, and his latest (Ratata through the ´80s) was, according to another critic, “a benchmark for future Swedish popmusic documentaries”. The Jussi Bjoerling Saga was nominated as Best documentary in the Swedish TV-award Kristallen.
Where his prior film, the acclaimed epic AQUARELA, was a reminder of the fragility of human tenure on earth, in GUNDA, master filmmaker Viktor Kossakovsky reminds us that we share our planet with billions of other animals. Through encounters with a mother sow (the eponymous Gunda), two ingenious cows, and a scene-stealing, one-legged chicken, Kossakovsky movingly recalibrates our moral universe, reminding us of the inherent value of life and the mystery of all animal consciousness, including our own. Experiential cinema in its purest form, GUNDA chronicles the unfiltered lives of a mother pig, a flock of chickens, and a herd of cows with masterful intimacy. Using stark, transcendent black and white cinematography and the farm’s ambient soundtrack, Master director Victor Kossakowsky invites the audience to slow down and experience life as his subjects do, taking in their world with a magical patience and an other worldly perspective. GUNDA asks us to meditate on the mystery of animal consciousness, and reckon with the role humanity plays in it.
“GUNDA is a mesmerizing perspective on sentience within animal species, normally – and perhaps purposely – hidden from our view. Displays of pride and reverence, amusement and bliss at a pig’s inquisitive young; her panic, despair and utter defeat in the face of cruel trickery, are validations of just how similarly all species react and cope with events in our respective lives. Victor Kossakovsky has crafted a visceral meditation on existence that transcends the normal barriers that separate species. It is a film of profound importance and artistry.” – Executive producer Joaquin Phoenix
Director’s Statement – Growing up I was very much a city kid, but at the age of four I spent a few months in a village in the countryside, where I met my best friend Vasya. He was much younger than me – just a few weeks old when we met – but over time he became my dearest friend and the times we spent together are some of the most cherished memories from my childhood. One day, when we were still young, Vasya was killed and served as pork cutlets for a New Year’s Eve dinner. I was devastated and immediately became (probably) the first vegetarian kid in the Soviet Union. As a consequence, since I became a filmmaker I have always wanted to make a film about the creatures with whom we share the earth, a film about animals as living, feeling beings in their own right. I wanted to make a film without patronizing or humanizing them, without any sentimentality, and without vegan propaganda. However, as the film I had in mind is not about dolphins, elephants, pandas or other cute animals we love to love, it was impossible to finance. I tried for almost three decades until I finally met Norwegian producer Anita Rehoff Larsen from Sant & Usant who took the risk on making it. We were unbelievably lucky to meet Gunda in the Norwegian countryside on the very first day of our research trip. Gunda is on the screen for over half of the runtime of the final film and is an extraordinarily powerful character – you do not need an interpreter to understand her emotions and experiences. As such I decided to make this film without any captions, voice-over, or music, you just need to watch it and allow yourself to feel. For me, the essence of cinema is showing, not telling. I do not make films if I want to tell an audience something I have no interest in prescribing an opinion. I make films if there is something I want people to see and to allow them to find their own conclusion. Documentary cinema is a great tool to show the realities of the world, to show things that we do not see by ourselves, that we do not want to see, or that we have collectively agreed that we do not see, and so we allow ourselves not to think about. With GUNDA I want people to see these animals as sentient beings and to encourage them to think about the possibility of their consciousness and selfhood. With that I feel that GUNDA is the most personal and important film I have made as a filmmaker and as a human being. – Victor Kossakovsky
NOMINEE – Best Feature – IDA Documentary Awards 2021
FEATURES SHORTLIST – DOC NYC 2020
TOP 10 FILM OF THE YEAR – The New York Times
“GUNDA is pure cinema. This is a film to take a bath in – it’s stripped to its essential elements, without any interference. It’s what we should all aspire to as filmmakers and audiences – pictures and sound put together to tell a powerful and profound story without rush. It’s jaw dropping images and sound put together with the best ensemble cast and you have something more like a potion than a movie.” – Paul Thomas Anderson
98% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Sublimely beautiful and profoundly moving, it offers you the opportunity to look – at animals, yes, but also at qualities that are often subordinated in narratively driven movies, at textures, shapes and light.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times
“”Gunda” may be a meditational slow-burn, but as it unfurls its immersive audiovisual tapestry it hovers between non-fiction observation and lyrical insight, and to that end feels like an advancement of the nature documentary form.” – Eric Kohn, indieWire
“It is hard to fully articulate how, but Gunda is as much a damning meditation on the human condition as it is a glowing, thought-provoking portrayal of a mother’s love for her children, a sow’s love for her piglets.” – Matthew Anderson, CineVue
Victor Valle’s documentary 8 BILLION ANGELS focuses on how and why humanity’s demand for resources vastly are outpacingnature’s ability to supply them. Food, water, climate and extinction emergencies are unfolding before our eyes. 8 BILLION ANGELS tells the truth about the conflict between the size of our global population and the sustainability of our planet. It dispels the misperceptions that technology can save us, that reducing consumption is the only answer, and that the blame lies solely in the developing world. 8 BILLION ANGELS enlists a wide array of experts that include; Jason Hall-Spencer, Dr, Saroj Pachauri, David Montgomery, Bill Stowe, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Stuart Pimm, William Ryerson, Zoe Weil and Brownie Wilson to lay out how the world can achieve a sustainable balance for ourselves and earth. Using breathtaking cinematography and startling emotion, the film takes the viewer on an immersive and emotional journey into the lives of farmers, fisherman and others as they witness an unfolding global crisis and inspires real solutions toward lasting sustainability and a better quality of life for all Earth’s inhabitants. In 8 BILLION ANGELS Executive Producer and Executive Director of Earth Overshoot Terry Spahr joins us for a conversation on how and why facing the questions around the ever-expanding population of people is a vital and indispensable part of any plan to save humans from cataclysmic event.
About Earth Overshoot – Earth Overshoot is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to making ecological limits central to all personal and public decision-making through targeted education and advocacy. Its goal is to achieve a sustainable society characterized by human well-being and flourishing biodiversity. Launched in early 2019, the organization builds upon the key messages presented in 8 Billion Angels, a documentary feature about overpopulation as an overarching upstream cause of our global environmental emergencies. earthovershoot.org
Executive Producer’s Statement – In my lifetime I have witnessed remarkable changes in humanity’s growth, in prosperity, lifespan, and in sheer numbers across the globe. As a child in the 1970’s, I saw the unintended consequences of this growth near my home in Philadelphia where pollution clogged the same Delaware River so celebrated for Washington’s crossing, huge landfills for garbage fouled the landscape close to Independence Hall, and masses of cars produced smog-filled air as they navigated roads designed centuries ago for far fewer people. Despite awakening to our environmental pollution problem, giving rise to recycling, renewable energy, land conservation and environmental awareness and stewardship, we now see that no amount of technology, voluntary reduction in consumption, or conservation can halt the greater forces propelling us toward climate change, ocean acidification, deforestation and a host of other natural catastrophes. All of our efforts, up until now, have amounted to stop-gap measures that distract us from the fact that we add 80 million more people every year to the earth, who together consume more resources faster than the world can replenish, and emit more waste than the earth can naturally absorb. That is why I decided to stop talking about it and do something, dedicating my time and money to telling the truth about the problem, and sharing the hope of real solutions in the stories of everyday people. After all, it is only when we are not afraid to name a problem, confront it and talk openly and honestly about it, that we can begin to fix it. It is critical to offer an alternate vision for the future. If we, as individuals, families and nations, band together by pursuing smaller families, supporting the worldwide adoption of accessible and affordable family planning, and strengthening our global commitment to the education and empowerment of women and girls, we will not only bring tremendous social justice, economic prosperity and health equity to billions, but we will unequivocally restore the environment. Join me in on this first step of my mission to ensure a planet that provides a just, safe and sustainable future for everyone. – Terry Spahr
Emmy Award winning director Joe Gantz’s compassionate documentary THE RACE TO SAVE THE WORLD is a climate change film like no other. Instead of focusing on paralyzing facts and numbers THE RACE TO SAVE THE WORLD inspiring takes a unique approach by following passionate activists, ages 15-72, who are in the trenches fighting for a livable future. These brave climate warriors put their lives on the line to push for change, regardless of the personal cost. THE RACE TO SAVE THE WORLD brings an urgent and intimate portrait of the protests, arrests, courtroom drama and family turmoil these activists endure as they single-mindedly focus their attention on the goal of creating a more sustainable world for future generations. Drawing on powerful footage and moving interviews, THE RACE TO SAVE THE WORLD is an inspiring call to action, urging each one of us to become climate warriors for a livable future. Director and producer Joe Gantz stops by to talk about the dedicated activist who are willing to push aside a comfortable life of in-action to become everyday heroes push to create a sustainable world, often risking their relationships, careers – and freedoms in the process.
About the filmmaker – Joe Gantz is known for work that examines personal stories with honesty, humor, and depth. He calls his film style, “life in progress”, where his small crew fades into the background and lets the story evolve organically. Joe tries to be present for the pivotal moments as well as the everyday moments, to give insight into each subject’s life and relationships. The goal is to allow the subjects to be comfortable enough to go about their daily life as if there was no one filming. And the subjects are not performing, because there is no agenda, making for very authentic storytelling. Taxicab Confessions: Emmy award-winning HBO documentary series featuring real-life interactions between cab drivers and their passengers that was broadcast for fifteen years. American Winter: A documentary film about families struggling in the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Ending Disease: The Stem Cell, Anti-Cancer T-Cell, & Antibody Revolution In Medicine, is a film about how regenerative therapies are transforming medicine from a lifetime of treatments to onetime cures for a whole host of debilitating diseases. The Race to Save the World: uses the same personal approach to emotionally-engage viewers in the urgent fight against catastrophic climate change.
“The Race to Save the World realistically captures characters who take real risks and the impacts on their loved ones and on themselves. Implicitly it raises questions about the best way to achieve environmental goals… Gantz’ film spurs us to think about how to be more effective”.– Jim Hansen, Director Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions Program Columbia University Earth Institute
Young love’s the topic of so many films, but rarely is it handled with earnest, authentic grace, as we see it in Tony Ahedo’s debut feature film ICON. This moving coming-of-age drama is anchored in the compelling performances of the lead actors Parker Padgett and Devon Hales. When a surprise pregnancy forces Sam to facedown many brutal realities of adulthood and responsibility, things spiral rapidly out of control, as he simultaneously tries to fight to find his own truth: why his absent father hasn’t been in his life since one, fading memory. ICON charts the perilous journey to adulthood for our charismatic leads Sam (Parker Padgett) and Ana (Devon Hales). Director and writer Tony Ahedo and lead actor Parker Padgett joins us to talk about the collaboration the two of them shared in crafting a complex and nuanced portrayal of young romantic love, dysfunctional family history and relationships and flawed people, young and old, striving to do the right things.
About the filmmaker – Pretty Sweet Films founder and director Tony Ahedo started working in the film industry in 2011. Pretty Sweet Films is a central Florida based video production company led by award winning filmmaker Tony Ahedo. Our goal at PSF is to not just get the best visuals for your project, but to tell the best story. We treat every project like a film, taking the time to carefully craft every frame so it tells our audience something important. We’re all about collaboration and teamwork to deliver the film or video you want. Pretty Sweet Films is here to tell your story on your terms. In 2015 he graduated with his BFA in Filmmaking from Ringling College of Art and Design. Right after graduation he went on to create & direct his Amazon Prime TV series Barry Baker: Aspiring Serial Killer. Tony went on and has worked on multiple feature films, TV shows, music videos and documentaries since then. A few of his past client collaborators include, Universal Sports, NBC, Bose, Lil Wayne, Zumba, and Gunplay. He is recently completed production on his next feature film ICON for Pretty Sweet Films.
As the world searches for a cure to a disastrous virus, a scientist (Joel Fry) and park scout (Ellora Torchia) venture deep in the forest for a routine equipment run. Through the night, their journey becomes a terrifying voyage through the heart of darkness, the forest coming to life around them as nature becomes a force of evil, Director, writer and editor Ben Wheatley (Down Terrace, Kill List, Fields of England) joins us for a conversation on his endlessly compelling pandemic folk tale that is begins with a walk in the woods that drops us into subversively horrifying landscape of screeching trees and bone-crushing vibrations. Golden Globe nominee composer Clint Mansell (The Fountain, Requiem for a Dream, Moon) provides a stunningly propulsive soundtrack to the film.
“It’s damn terrifying, trippy, thoughtfully imaginative in sound design and visual tricks to convey communicating with nature, and packs a savage kick of relatively insane individuals and body horror” – Robert Kojder, Flickering Myth
“The biggest success, however, is the balance of psychedelic mysticism and heady science that are melded with toe-curling scenes of gore and suspense.” – Norman Gidney, Film Threat
“Wheatley is firing on all cylinders with his stripped-down approach to massive topics. An assault on the senses that’s bigger than any blockbuster.” – Kyle Anderson, Nerdist
“In the Earth reminds us that there’s so much more still to fear in the invisible darkness of the natural world — things that our little animal brains can barely grok in all of its terrible splendor.” – Nick Johnston, Vanyaland
“Wheatley and his collaborators have produced something that some of us thought would be impossible: an outrageously entertaining film that feels utterly rooted in the bleak era in which it was made.” – Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph (UK)
“This is the work of someone who’s always been more in his element when making something out of nothing, and that energy is especially well-served to a story about the fundamental human impulse to do the same.” – David Ehrlich, indieWire
OLYMPIA is a sublimely intimate fly-on-the-wall verité documentary that tells a poignant story of a woman finding her own voice on her own terms to assert a gigantic creative force into the world. Rebelling against her suspicious Greek mother to assert her strong sexual drive, fighting the feeling she was “too ethnic” in Boston, and starting her own theatre company in New Jersey instead of waiting for the phone to ring, Olympia Dukakis models how to live life with blazing courage. Throughout an engrossing story that seamlessly blends past and present, she opens her heart and exposes her truest self to Harry Mavromichalis’ unobtrusive camera. The raw honesty with which Olympia leads us into the core of herself is what makes this film luminary. As fellow actors with whom she has shared the limelight Laura Linney, Diane Ladd, Whoopi Goldberg, and Armistead Maupin all testify, Olympia is “totally open and crazy”, which is what turns out to be the marker of her absolute sanity. OLYMPIA’s intimate portrait of a working class professional, a scholar actor of intuitive power, and a woman beloved around the world, culminates on the steps of the Dukakis’ humble ancestral home in Lesbos, Greece. Through her brutal honesty and sincerity, Olympia compels us to confront our own shortcomings and differences by letting go, and move forward with defiant conviction. Director Harry Mavromichalis takes a page from the Albert Maysles’ school of fly-on-the-wall verité documentary storytelling leaving the viewer with an appreciation of an artist becoming her own woman, on her own terms, primed to share her creative insights with the world.
About the filmmaker – Producer and Director Harry Mavromichalis – OLYMPIA is Harry Mavromichalis’ directorial feature documentary debut and he is currently in post-production for “Yankee Restraint”; a character driven piece that examines the intricacies of a gay relationship spanning decades and tackles issues of love and resentment. After a long career as a modern dancer with his own dance company in New York, he pursued a Masters in Film Directing from New York University. He wrote, directed and produced multiple short films, music videos and commercials. Curator of the inaugural LGBTQ Film Festival, Harry was a key organizer of the historic first-ever Pride Parade in Cyprus which attracted over 4,000 attendees.
About Olympia Dukakis – Born June 20, 1931 in Lowell, Massachusetts, the daughter of Greek immigrants, Dukakis earned two degrees from Boston University and worked as a physical therapist while pursuing a stage career. Olympia Dukakis won an Academy Award for her performance in Moonstruck, a role that also earned her a Golden Globe Award, American Comedy Award, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has appeared in more than 60 feature and short films, including Steel Magnolias, Cloudburst, Dad, Mr. Holland’s Opus, Working Girl, Look Who’s Talking I, II & III, Mighty Aphrodite, Jeffrey, Away From Her, among many others. Her television include : Big Driver, Sex & Violence, Forgive Me, Bored to Death, Last of the Blond Bombshells, Sinatra (Golden Globe Nominee), Joan of Arc (Emmy Nominee), Tales of the City, More Tales of the City (Emmy Nominee), Further Tales of the City among more than 40 others. She has performed in over 130 productions on and off-Broadway and regionally at theatres including the Public Theater, A.C.T., Shakespeare in the Park, Shakespeare & Co., and the Williamstown Theatre Festival, where she also served as Associate Director. She was a Founding member and Producing Artistic Director of the Whole Theatre in Montclair, NJ, for 19 years; also a founding member of the Actor’s Company and the Charles Playhouse in Boston. She continues to teach acting at NYU and master classes for professional theatre companies, colleges, and universities across the country. She was bestowed the National Arts Club Medal of Honor and her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame was placed in 2013.
“It is a pleasure to spend time with Dukakis, who is always not just open to but hungry for revelation, growth, and connection, giving the documentary a deliciously buoyant quality.” – Nell Minow, RogerEbert.com
“Director Harry Mavromichalis, using extreme close-ups that caress the stunning, dramatic topography of [Dukakis’] face, eschews traditional narration and chases after the firebrand as she attends the unveiling of her star on the walk of fame.” – Andrea Simakis,Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Harry Mavromichalis’ Olympia delivers a deeply personal and philosophical documentary, following Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis over the course of several years.” – Grace Williams, Battle Royale With Cheese
“The documentary Olympia is a lot like the Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis herself — opinionated, funny, candid, foul-mouthed, sometimes rambling, but never boring.” – Carla Hay, Culture Mix
From Academy Award nominated filmmakers Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan’s comes Our Towns. It is a moving and uplifting portrait of America and how the rise of civic and economic reinvention is transforming small cities and towns across the country. Based on the bestselling book “Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America” by journalists James and Deborah Fallows, the visually stunning feature documentary spotlights ingenious local initiatives and explores how a sense of community and common language of change can help people and towns find a different path to the future. In 2011, the Fallows created a blogpost for TheAtlantic asking their readers to share compelling stories about their towns – from economic setbacks to local struggles or achievements – that have been overlooked by the national press. Within a week, they received over 1,000 responses. For the next five years, they traveled the United States exploring the changes taking place across small town America for what would become their bestselling book. In 2018, Ascher and Jordan joined them to revisit eight of those cities, including San Bernardino, CA; Sioux Falls, SD; Columbus, MS; Eastport, ME; Charleston, WV; and Bend, OR. Our Towns introduces us to a wide range of civic leaders, immigrants, educators, environmentalists, artists, students, and more, witnessing their love for their communities and the innovative ways they are improving them. OUR TOWNS provides an expansive perspective on America that finds unexpected connections between personal stories, community actions, and the arc of history. Although filmed before the pandemic, OUR TOWNS speaks to how the country, and by extension the world, can find a way forward.
About the filmmaker – STEVEN ASCHER is an Academy Award-nominated director and writer. He’s author of The Filmmaker’s Handbook, a bestselling text, and has taught filmmaking, most recently as a visiting professor at Harvard. The Boston Globe calls his work “filmmaking at its finest.” He wrote, directed and co-produced the short drama Seduction Theory which was selected for the Toronto International Shorts Festival , the Los Angeles International Shorts Festival, won a Platinum Remi for best dark comedy at Worldfest Houston and screened at the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner. He is author of The Filmmaker’s Handbook: a Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age (with Ed Pincus) a bestselling text and a staple of universities and film schools internationally. Called “the bible” by The Independent, the “gold-standard technical reference” by The Boston Globe, and “seminal” by The New York Times. Ascher has written greatly expanded new editions; the fifth was released in 2019. Over 360,000 copies in print. He has served as a juror at the Sundance Film Festival, the Emmys, the Full Frame Film Festival, the Independent Film Festival Boston, the National Student Film Festival, Woods Hole Film Festival and the McKnight Fellowship. He has been a guest critic for several film programs including Yale University, Duke University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Writing on Ascher’s work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Variety, Ecran Total and books including Documentary Storytelling by Sheila Curren Bernard. For more go to: West City Films
About the filmmaker – JEANNE JORDAN is an Academy Award-nominated producer, director, and editor of documentaries and dramas. TheIndependent said of her resume, “it reads like PBS’s greatest hits.” Jordan was Series Producer of the PBS children’s series Postcards from Buster for two seasons, producing a new, international version of the show, nominated for the Outstanding Children’s Series Emmy both years. Jordan edited two films of the groundbreaking civil rights series Eyes on the Prize which was nominated for an Oscar and won the DuPont Columbia Award, and films for American Experience, including season opener, Amelia Earhart and The Wright Stuff. Other editing includes My Mother’s Murder for HBO and the Emmy-nominee, A Normal Face for NOVA. Her dramatic feature work includes several films for American Playhouse, including Noon Wine, Lemon Sky and the Emmy-winning series Concealed Enemies on the trials of Alger Hiss. She edited the bilingual feature, Blue Diner which won the prestigious ALMA award. In 1988, Jordan and Orlando Bagwell produced Running With Jesse, a chronicle of Jesse Jackson’s presidential run for FRONTLINE, which Jordan also edited. She has produced and edited several pieces for The PBS Newshour and films for the PBS series Art Close Up, which won and were nomintated for Emmys. Jordan graduated from the University of Iowa and began her career at Iowa Public Television. She has twice been honored with a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard and she was a member of the Breadloaf writers conference. She has taught filmmaking at Harvard and the Art Institute of Boston. She has lectured and held master classes in several countries, including Tokyo University, the CPB/PBS Producers Academy, the Full Frame Fellows Program, the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard Law School, and the Aristoteles Workshop in Romania sponsored by the European network Arte. She has been a guest critic at Yale University, Duke University and Rhode Island School of Design. Jordan has advised and contributed to numerous film productions. She and Ascher are Executive Producers of the ITVS-supported film, Deej, winner of the Peabody Award. She has received grants from the the LEF Foundation, the Artists Foundation, the Paul Robeson Fund, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Iowa Humanities and many other state humanities and arts councils. Her films have screened at major festivals internationally and are in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, Harvard Film Archive, UCLA and the Sundance Collection. Jordan’s writing on films has appeared in Documentary Magazine. Writing on Jordan’s work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Variety, Ecran Total and books including Documentary Storytelling by Sheila Curren Bernard. For more go to: West City Films
“Ascher and Jordan’s films are consistently thoughtful and moving, deeply committed, and resonant with craft: their considerable gifts as filmmakers include their ability to make what is complex and difficult to film and edit seem easy.”– Scott MacDonald, American Ethnographic Film and Personal Documentary
“Dedicated filmmakers with an uncanny eye for capturing drama in the most commonplace activities.” – John Cooper, Director, Sundance Film Festival Festival
Part Geo-political saga, part ode to their origin country of Cuba, LOS HERMANOS/THE BROTHERS follows the journeys of virtuoso Afro-Cuban musician brothers, Ilmar and Aldo López-Gavilán, born in Havana in the 70s. At 14, Ilmar outgrew his island teachers and was sent to the U.S.S.R. to study violin. He never lived in Cuba again, ultimately landing as a working chamber violinist in the United States. Younger brother Aldo grew up mentored by Cuba’s impressive jazz and classical pianists, his extraordinary talent achieving renown on the island, but stymied elsewhere by the 60-year-old U.S. embargo. Though they see each other when family finances and visa restrictions allow, they’ve never had a chance to collaborate musically—something they’ve longed for all their lives. Tracking their parallel lives, poignant reunion, and momentous first performances together on stages across the U.S., LOS HERMANOS / THE BROTHERS is a nuanced, intensely moving view of nations long estranged, through the lens of music and family. Featuring an electrifying, genre-bending score, composed by Cuban Aldo López-Gavilán, performed with his American brother, Ilmar, and with guest appearances by maestro Joshua Bell and the Grammy-winning Harlem Quartet, filmmakers Ken Schneider and Marcia Jarmel take the viewer on a delightful musical tour through Cuba and the US, capturing the artistry behind their music and their deep familial bond.
Watch Los Hermanos / The Brothers beginning May 14
About the filmmaker – Marcia Jarmel is a veteran documentary director, producer, and impact producer. Prior to founding PatchWorks, Marcia directed and produced THE RETURN OF SARAH’S DAUGHTERS (Women in the Director’s Chair, IDA’s DocuWeek, Cinequest, international public television) and THE F WORD: A SHORT FILM ABOUT “FEMINISM” (Living Room Festival, AFI’s VideoFest, and Brooklyn Art Museum’s Judy Chicago film series). Angela Davis called THE F WORD “an important step toward rekindling discussion of feminism.” Marcia consults on social issue films, including HBO’s Emmy nominated 50 CHILDREN, and the Academy Award nominated LAST DAY OF FREEDOM. Marcia has been a resident at Working Films’ Content+Intent at Mass MoCA, Fledgling Fund’s Reel Education and Reel Impact, SFFilm’s FilmHouse, the Kopkind Colony, and twice a BAVC MediaMaker. She has taught at NYU-Tisch in Havana and Chapman University and served as a juror for the Emmys, BAVC MediaMaker, and many film festivals.
About the filmmaker – Ken Schneider is a Peabody Award winner who believes in the power of film to affect hearts and minds. For nearly 30 years, Ken has produced, directed and edited documentaries in English and Spanish, focusing on war and peace, human rights, artists’ lives, American history, contemporary social issues, and Cuba. His work has appeared on PBS’s series American Masters, POV, Independent Lens, Frontline, Voces, and on HBO, Al-Jazeera, Showtime, and on television and in film festivals worldwide. Ken co-edited the Oscar-nominated REGRET TO INFORM and has edited over 35 feature length documentaries that have won Primetime and Documentary Emmys, three Peabodys, a Columbia-Dupont, IDA (International Documentary Association) awards, an Indie Spirit award, and top awards at Sundance. Ken edits in English and Spanish and has a personal connection to Cuba, where his Vienna-born father was sheltered during the Holocaust. Ken has taught at NYU-Tisch, Chapman University, and San Francisco City College, and lectured at the SF Art Institute, University of San Francisco, and Harvard. He has been a panelist for the National Endowment for Humanities, Emmys, and various film festivals.
PatchWorks Films, co-founded by husband and wife team Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider, makes documentaries raising nuanced questions about critical contemporary issues. PatchWorks’ films have broadcast and screened worldwide and have each been used in robust engagement campaigns. Their most recent feature, HAVANA CURVEBALL screened in six countries, winning Best Documentary awards at the Boston and Seattle Children’s Film Festival, a special jury award at the Olympia Festival in Greece and a spot on School Library Journal’s “Best of 2014” list. Their previous feature, SPEAKING IN TONGUES, aired on PBS, won the Audience Award at the San Francisco Film Festival, and continues to be a catalyst for changing language education worldwide. Previous films include BORN IN THE U.S.A., which aired on Independent Lens and was hailed as the “best film on childbirth” by the World Health Organization, and several shorts. LOS HERMANOS/THE BROTHERS is their 9th collaboration, their 4th in Cuba. Clips and information on all PatchWorks’ features and shorts can be found at patchworksfilms.net.
“I cannot overstate the pleasure and excitement this film provides. It is a must-see.”- Marin Post
“an exhilarating and perceptive dive into the magical and confounded lives of two Cuban-born brothers” – ARThound
“Here is a purely celebratory film that at the same time biopsies political expedience and nationalism” – Woodstock FIlm Festival
“A remarkable film about a family ensnared in geopolitics” – San Francisco Chronicle
It’s the greatest literary mystery of all time; who wrote the works of Shakespeare Although the official story has held sway for centuries, questions over the authorship of the plays and poems have persisted. Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles are among the many famous figures who doubt that a grain-dealer from Stratford-upon-Avon was England’s “Star of Poets.”THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT will transform the way you look at Shakespeare. Twin sisters & filmmakers Laura Wilson and Lisa Wilson’s intricate historical journey charts the fascinating documentary THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT from executive producer Roland Emmerich (who’s brilliant “Anonymous” also explores Shakespeare’s identity) and featuring stage and screen icons Derek Jacobi (Gladiator, Gosford Park, Dead Again), Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies, The BFG, Dunkirk), and Vanessa Redgrave (Atonement, Howards End, Coriolanus). It’s the greatest literary mystery of all time who actually wrote the works of Shakespeare? Featuring a powerful score by Graeme Revell (The Saint, The Crow, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider), the greatest mystery of an identity hidden by time and the constructs of society…The Bard himself. Co-directors Laura Wilson and Lisa Wilson join us for a conversation on their own obsessive dedication concerning the true authorship of Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III, Taming of the Shrew, and many other fundamental works of Western civilization, as well as, how they were able to enlist the leading lights on this hotly contested topic.
THE LAST WILL & TESTAMENT is available now (April is Shakespeare is international Month) for audiences to stream on Amazon Prime,Vudu,Tubi and other streaming platforms along with across TVOD platforms. iTunes, Fandango Now, Google Play, YouTube, among others globally to rent or buy.
“Laura and Lisa Wilson’s Last Will & Testament is utterly fascinating. Thoroughly investigated, told with flair and authority, the sisters rip the lid off one of the greatest literary puzzles in history. Riveting.” – Anne Brodie, What She Said Canada
Tim Sutton’s menacing and hauntingly elegant film, FUNNY FACE,follows the stifling dread of a young Muslim woman, Zama (Dela Meskienyar), running away from her aunt and uncle’s house, desperate for a new life. She quickly finds that she must now navigate the peril of life on the street. A disturbed young man, Saul (Cosmo Jarvis) from Coney Island dons the menacing “Funny Face” mask, transforming himself into a makeshift superhero with a rage disorder as he seeks revenge on the Real Estate Developer, (Jonny Lee Miller) of a soulless high rise that has displaced his grandparents. Misfit avengers in a changing city, the two embark on a neighborhood odyssey that brings danger, love, and tragedy. And pickles. Director / Writer Tim Sutton (Memphis, Dark Knight, Donnybrook) joins us for a conversation on creating films that connect with viewers beyond traditional storytelling, filmmakers and films that inspire him, and how telling the story of Saul and Zama reflects his own anxiety about the hallowing out of his beloved New York City.
Tim Sutton’s menacing and hauntingly elegant film, FUNNY FACE, follows the stifling dread of a young Muslim woman, Zama (Dela Meskienyar), running away from her aunt and uncle’s house, desperate for a new life. She quickly finds that she must now navigate the peril of life on the street. A disturbed young man, Saul (Cosmo Jarvis) from Coney Island dons the menacing “Funny Face” mask, transforming himself into a makeshift superhero with a rage disorder as he seeks revenge on the Real Estate Developer, (Jonny Lee Miller) of a soulless high rise that has displaced his grandparents. Misfit avengers in a changing city, the two embark on a neighborhood odyssey that brings danger, love, and tragedy. And pickles. Director / Writer Tim Sutton (Memphis, Dark Knight, Donnybrook) joins us for a conversation on creating films that connect with viewers beyond traditional storytelling, filmmakers and films that inspire him, and how telling the story of Saul and Zama reflects his own anxiety about the hallowing out of his beloved New York City. For news and updates go to: gravitasventures.com/funny-face
“Genuinely otherworldly… a tender evocation of a New York City that is currently passing before its inhabitants’ eyes.” —Variety
“Haunting.” —Screen Daily
“A hypotensive urban fairy tale…of a New York borough imagined as a faraway land of rooftops and distant lights and corner bodegas where every day—every moment even—seems to start with ‘once upon a time.'” — The Playlist “Seductive.” —The Film Stage “Electric.” —Indiewire