let me come in – Director Bill Morrison

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. 

 

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“let me come in” will receive its broadcast premiere as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival on May 7.

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

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“Morrison’s world is one of the most breathtaking and haltingly disturbing cinematic realms of our time”.  – Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com


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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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For news and updates go to: streetgangmovie.com

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

Official Selection – 2021 Sundance Film Festival

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97% on Rotten Tomatoes 

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

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

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

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

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

Paris Calligrammes, Director Ulrike Ottinger

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

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

Watch: Paris Calligrammes at Icarus Films

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

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

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

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

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

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

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

Wuhan Wuhan, Director Yung Chang

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.

 

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For news and updates go to: wuhanwuhandoc.com

Watch: Wuhan Wuhan premieres at 2021 HotDocs Film Festival

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. 

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

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

 

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

Watch Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts and other Kino Lorber films

For more news go to: billtraylorchasingghosts.com

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

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

8 BILLION ANGELS – Executive Producer Terry Spahr

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

 

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For news and updates go to: 8billionangels.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Towns – Co-directors Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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For news and updates go to: hermanosbrothersfilm.info

Watch Los Hermanos / The Brothers beginning May 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moffie – Director Oliver Hermanus

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Love Song for Latasha, Director Sophia Nahli Allison

Sophia Nahli Allison’s A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA righteous rebuttal to the injustice surrounding the shooting death of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins at a South Central Los Angeles store that became a flashpoint for the city’s 1992 civil uprising. As the Black community expressed its profound pain in the streets, Latasha’s friends and family privately mourned the loss of a vibrant child whose full story was never in the headlines. Three decades later, A LOVE SONG FOR LATASHA removes Latasha from the context of her death and rebuilds an archive of a promising life lost. Oral history and memories from Latasha’s best friend and cousin converge in a dreamlike portrait that shows the impact one brief but brilliant life can have. Sophia Nahli Allison grew up in South Central Los Angeles and recalls experiencing the 1992 L.A. riots as a four year-old girl. Though Latasha’s death was a catalyst for the riots, Sophia wanted to make a film about Latasha’s life so she would be remembered beyond the trauma of a Black body, beyond a statistic, a newspaper headline, or an inaccurate Wikipedia page. Director, producer, cinematographer and editor Sophia Nahli Allison stops by to talk about how a Latasha’s legacy should not be judged in terms of longevity or her tragic end, but on the lasting impact that Latasha’s kindness, bravery and encouragement continues to have on people’s lives.

 

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For news and updates go to: alovesongforlatasha.com

Available on netflix.com/Latasha

2021 Oscar® nominee – Best Documentary Short 

The Latasha Harlins story continues… Earlier this year, a mural created by artist Victoria Cassinova and dedicated to the life and legacy of Latasha Harlins debuted on what would have been her 45th birthday. Located at the Algin Sutton Recreation Center in South LA, the mural stands at the front of the building where Latasha and her friends spent time throughout their childhood and teenage years. The art is based on a portrait of Latasha meant to represent her innocence and youth. The words to the left of her face are a poem Latasha wrote, it is also spoken in the film. The phrase “We Queens” is something Latasha often said to her friends to remind them of their power and importance. Latasha’s full name is a focal point. Watch a video of the mural’s creation that can be downloaded here.

The Latasha Harlins story continues… Earlier this year, a mural created by artist Victoria Cassinova and dedicated to the life and legacy of Latasha Harlins debuted on what would have been her 45th birthday. Located at the Algin Sutton Recreation Center in South LA, the mural stands at the front of the building where Latasha and her friends spent time throughout their childhood and teenage years. The art is based on a portrait of Latasha meant to represent her innocence and youth. The words to the left of her face are a poem Latasha wrote, it is also spoken in the film. The phrase “We Queens” is something Latasha often said to her friends to remind them of their power and importance. Latasha’s full name is a focal point. Watch a video of the mural’s creation that can be downloaded here.

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“Allison’s experimental style, lush palette, fast-paced editing and tender close-ups on Latasha’s cousins and friends, all now 40-something Black women like me, recreate the loss of Latasha’s innocence.” – The New York Times

“If you’ve seen anything of Latasha’s life, it’s likely the final seconds of her existence. Allison instead creates a brief, stirring portrait of the fifteen years that preceded them.” – Esquire 

“The 15-minute film gives new meaning to the notion of “short and sweet” and in it, Allison manages to paint a picture of a life not lived.  A Love Song for Latasha is a mesmerizing piece of work that takes an unconventional route to storytelling.” – The Grio

“This documentary is an invitation to rethink how Black life and death are documented in a society where the media glamorizes violence against Black bodies. This work is especially crucial during these a time when Black death is at the forefront of daily coverage, and it challenges us to remember the Black womxn, trans men, and non-binary folx we’ve lost and to reimagine the rich and nuanced lives they lived.” – Vice

The Place That Makes Us – Director Karla Murthy

Filmed over the course of three years, THE PLACE THAT MAKES US, is an intimate and inspiring portrait of Youngstown Ohio, a quintessential post-industrial American city, seen through the efforts of a new generation of residents who have chosen not to abandon their hometown, as so many have, but to stay, rebuild and make a life for themselves. Unlike their parents, haunted and traumatized by watching their way of life crumble around them, these young leaders and community activists grew up in the remains. Unbeholden to the memory of Youngstown’s heyday, they are able to envision a new future. Interweaving archival footage and home movies of a prosperous but forgone past, this film is a poetic testimony to the profound resilience and dedication it takes to change a community. THE PLACE THAT MAKES US, directed by Emmy-nominated producer, Karla Murthy, will be premiering on America Reframed WORLD Channel and PBS apps on March 30th. Director Karla Murthy joins us to talk about how she crafted a hopeful meditation on the meaning of the American dream today among the industrial ruins of America, and how a new generation is rebuilding their home while reconnecting with their roots.

 

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For news and updates go to: greenefortproductions.com

Host your own screening by contacting: screenings@collectiveeye.org

NATIONAL BROADCAST PREMIERE March 30th |  8pm EST  America ReFramed on the WORLD Channel via your PBS Station as well as streaming on all PBS Platforms

About the filmmaker – Karla Murthy, Director and Producer is an Emmy Award-nominated producer. She began her career working for the veteran journalist Bill Moyers.  For over 15 years, she has been a producer, cameraperson and correspondent for several news programs on PBS. Her work was described by the Columbia Journalism Review as “compelling, informative and compassionate.” Her directorial debut, the feature documentary The Place That Makes Us has won numerous film festival awards and will make its national broadcast premiere on America ReFramed in Spring 2021. Karla is of Filipino and South Asian descent. She grew up in Texas studying classical piano and graduated from Oberlin College with a degree in Religion and Computer Science. She is an alum of the Third World Newsreel Workshop, the Documentary Institute at Antioch College in Ohio, and is based in New York City. To find out more go to: karlamurthy.net

Colette, Director Anthony Giacchino and Producer Alice Doyard

In this Oscar® nominated Best Documentary (Short ) we follow one of the last surviving members of the French Resistance, ninety-year-old Colette Marin-Catherine. As a young girl, she belonged to a family of Resistance fighters that included her 17-year-old brother Jean-Pierre. The last time Colette saw Jean-Pierre was in 1943, when he was arrested by the Gestapo and “disappeared” into the Nazi concentration camp system, never to be seen by his family again. The family was inwardly shattered, but outwardly stoic. No tears. Never permitted. For the past 74-years, Colette has never allowed herself to put one foot in Germany. But that’s all about to change when a young history student named Lucie enters her life. Lucie is researching the camp in Germany where Jean-Pierre died. Tracing the story of Jean-Pierre is, in fact, her special assignment.  The film follows Colette as she travels with Lucie to what remains of the forced labor camp near Nordhausen, Germany. It’s a journey of discovery on many levels, but the film’s greatest revelation is Colette herself, who at 90, is finally ready to let go of what she has, for over seven decades, held so tightly inside. Lucie’s youth and genuine concern has pierced the armor. The ultimate discovery of the film is Colette’s to make. That some wounds can only be healed if we allow them to be re-opened. Director Anthony Giacchino and Producer Alice Doyard join us to talk about the incredible strength of Colette Marin-Catherine and why her clear-eyed admonishment that we never forget the monstrous brutality of Nazi Germany as well as the importance of vigilance and resistance.

 

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For news and updates go to: colettedoc.com

Watch Colette at theguardian.com/world

Director’s Statement – “When I first met Colette in the fall of 2019, one of the first things she told me was: ‘When it’s your turn to live through a war, you’ll see you don’t have time to feel anything.’ It was quite an introduction. While making the film, I learned that only one percent of the French population had actively resisted the Nazi occupation before the Normandy Invasion and Colette — as a young girl — was one of those resisters.  She had so much to tell us about the war. I was particularly interested in her immediate family, as they all played their part in the Resistance. In fact, Colette’s 17-year-old brother, Jean-Pierre, was captured by the Gestapo and died a gruesome death in a German forced labor camp. Seven full decades beyond the events of Colette’s youth, the war’s aftermath remains as a dramatic, living thing to filmically explore. And the terrific reality is that war, at its core, is a universally human experience that stays inside all who go through it. And as Colette’s story demonstrates, healing is possible if we find the courage to face our darkest and most haunting memories.” – Anthony Giacchino

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“The bond between these two different, very strong, intelligent women renders this film staggeringly powerful whilst remaining simplicity itself. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.” – Emma Thompson

“A miniature masterpiece” – Ian Martin

“A moving character study” – POV Magazine

Êxtase – Director Moara Passoni

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

 

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For news and updates go to: extasefilme.com

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

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

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

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

“Delicate and personal.” – MARIE CLAIRE 

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

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

Groomed – Director Gwen van de Pas

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

 

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For news and updates go to: groomedthemovie.com

Groomed is available now on Discovery Plus at discoveryplus.com

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

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

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

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

The Lost Sons – Director Ursula Macfarlane

THE LOST SONS follows Paul Fronczak, a man who discovered headlines his parents made for grieving their kidnapped child, then celebrating two years later when he was found, he begins to investigate. Fronczak begins a decades long investigation to find out what happened. At the age of 10, while searching for Christmas presents, Paul Fronczak unearthed a hoard of newspaper clippings about his parents: images of them grieving for a kidnapped baby and then celebrating two years later over a toddler found abandoned and returned to them.  Is Paul that kidnapped baby?  If so, where was he for two years?  The investigation launched a deeper look into a life shrouded in mystery.  Decades later, as questions continue to mount, Paul embarks on a journey for answers, plunging him into the dark depths of the secrets that families keep. The story of THE LOST SONS is told through a blend of re-enactments, the testimony of close family and first-hand witnesses, news footage, and family archive. Director Ursula Macfarlane (Untouchable, One Deadly Weekend in America, Tsunami: Survivor Stories) ) joins us for a conversation on how she came to this astonishing story, getting to know Paul Fronczak, finding the right balance in telling a story with so many and complicated elements. 

 

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South by Southwest: online.sxsw.com/event/sxsw-online/The Lost Sons

To find out more go to: ursulamacfarlane.com

About the filmmaker – Ursula Macfarlane is an award-winning documentary and drama director and executive producer from London, with two sons and a dog; yogi. Her work is an eclectic body of films and often focusing on family stories, and so-called ordinary people experiencing extraordinary challenges. Macfarlane loves to combine the epic with the intimate. Her documentary, The Lost Sons, for CNN Films, is a stranger-than-fiction story about a stolen baby, a family secret, and two unravelling mysteries. Her documentary Untouchable, is about the rise and fall of Harvey Weinstein, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Macfarlane’s films include Breaking Up With The Joneses, a feature documentary about a couple going through a divorce, One Deadly Weekend In America, about young lives cut short through gun violence, The Life and Loss Of Karen Woo, a film about a young British doctor murdered by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Charlie Hebdo: Three Days That Shook Paris, the story of the Paris terror attacks. To find out more go to: ursulamacfarlane.com

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“Macfarlane … expertly combines copious archival footage … interviews, recreations and other narrative techniques to create a gripping thrill ride of investigative journalism.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail

“Macfarlane tells the convoluted story in a clean and efficient manner and the result will have your mind reeling long after it has concluded.” – Peter Sobczynski, eFilmCritic.com

“The Lost Sons is gripping from start to finish.” – Bobby LePire, Film Threat

“Engaging and thrilling, The Lost Sons proves the truth is always stranger than fiction.” – Rachel West, That Shelf

Islands – Director Martin Edralin

Martin Edralin’s feature debut film, Islands centers on the life of Joshua (Rogelio Balagtas), a timid, middle-aged Filipino immigrant, who works as a janitor at a local school, has lived in the comfort of his parents’ home his entire life. One day he pleads with God to find him a wife for fear of being alone forever.  When his mother (Vangie Alcasid) suddenly passes, Joshua quits his job to take on full-time  care of his ailing and depressed father (Esteban Comilang). Inexperienced at taking care of anyone, including himself,  Joshua struggles with his father’s care. Help arrives when a cousin, Marisol, (Sheila Lotuaco) visiting from abroad.  Marisol’s warmth and nurturing breathes new life into the home and stirs confused emotions in him. ISLANDS director, producer and screenwriter Martin Edralin (Calvin, Emma, joins us for a conversation on his desire to explore the Filipino diaspora experience in his award-winning, and offbeat story of filial duty and adult puppy love. 

 

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ISLANDS – 2021 South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW) – World Premiere

2021 SXSW Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Performance – Rogelio Balagtas

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’Til Kingdom Come, Director Maya Zinshtein & Producer Abraham (Abie) Troen

Director Maya Zinshtein and Producer Abraham (Abie) Troen’s well-balanced, insightful documentary ’TIL KINGDOM COME focuses on the millions of American Evangelicals who are praying for the State of Israel. Among them are the Binghams, a dynasty of Kentucky pastors, and their Evangelical congregants in an impoverished coal mining town. They donate sacrificially to Israel’s foremost philanthropic organization, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, because they fervently believe the Jews are crucial to Jesus’s return. ’TIL KINGDOM COME traces this unusual relationship, from rural Kentucky to the halls of government in Washington, through the moving of the American Embassy in Jerusalem and to the annexation plan of the West-Bank. With unparalleled access, the film exposes a stunning backstory of the Trump and Netanyahu administrations, where financial, political and messianic motivations intersect with the apocalyptic worldview that is insistently reshaping American foreign policy toward Israel and the Middle-East. Director Maya Zinshtein and Producer Abie Troen join us for a lively conversation on how their clear-eyed film takes us right into the heart of some of the world’s most powerful political forces and how this confluence of interests are apparently hellbent to realize a worldview where the world ends in fiery judgement for non-believers and true believers.

 

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

About the filmmaker – Maya Zinshtein – Director, producer Maya Zinshtein is an Emmy award-winning Israeli documentary filmmaker and journalist with a BA in Cinema and French studies and an MA in Security and Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University. Her last documentary “Forever Pure” won an Emmy award for Outstanding Politics and Government documentary in 2018 (Independent Lens/PBS). An alumna of Sundance Institute, for the last ten years she has directed and produced documentaries broadcast on Israeli TV and abroad including by Netflix, BBC, ARTE/ZDF, and PBS, and screened at over 100 festivals around the world.

About the filmmaker – Abraham (Abie) Troen – Producer, Cinematography Abraham “Abie” Troen is an award-winning documentary filmmaker & D.O.P. He has led doc projects in Israel, Kenya, India, Mexico and the US, his work screened at TIFF, SXSW, Doc NYC, IDFA and online for National Geographic, Vanity Fair, CNE and Out Magazine. Abie studied at the Sam Spiegel Film School in Jerusalem and Brandeis University before receiving an MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. There he was awarded the Annenberg Fellowship for specializing in documentary filmmaking. He currently resides in LA and films on both sides of the Atlantic.

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A toxic mix of fundamentalist religion and real world politics is examined soberly but startlingly by Israeli documentarist Maya Zinstein in ‘Til Kingdom Come.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen International

“Evangelicals and right-wing Jews make for strange bedfellows and ‘Til Kingdom Come shows why people should be uncomfortable.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“Hones in on one of the three legs of the stool that Trump sat on. (The other two are white supremacy and nativism.)” – Louis Proyect, Counterpunch.org

“Awaiting the Messiah – second coming or first?” – Harvey S. Karten, Shockya.com

Stray – Director Elizabeth Lo

STRAY explores what it means to live as a being without status or security, following three strays as they embark on inconspicuous journeys through Turkish society. Zeytin, fiercely independent, embarks on  adventures through the city at night; Nazar, nurturing and protective, easily befriends the humans around her; while Kartal, a shy puppy living on the outskirts of a construction site, finds companions in the security guards who care for her. The strays’ disparate lives intersect when they each form intimate bonds with a group of young Syrians with whom they share the streets. Director Elizabeth Lo joins us to talk about her remarkable debut documentary film, meeting Zeytin and Nazar and how she navigated the streets and the people of Istanbul to present an illuminating observation of human civilization through the unfamiliar gaze of dogs and a sensory voyage into new ways of seeing.

 

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For news and updates go to: straymovie.com

Watch at: straymovie.com/tickets

2021 Spirit Award nomination for the Truer Than Fiction Award

Director’s Statement – The impetus for STRAY is personal. When my childhood dog died, I felt a quiet need to suppress my grief at his passing. I was shocked that something as personal as how my heart responds to the death of a loved one could be shaped by an external politics that defined him or “it” as “valueless.” As my grief evolved, I also saw how our moral conceptions of who or how much one matters can be in constant flux. This transformative moment is what propels STRAY’s exploration into value, hierarchy, and sentience. In 2017, I traveled to Turkey, a country whose history and relationship with strays is unique in the world. Turkish authorities have tried to annihilate stray dogs since 1909, leading to mass killings of Istanbul’s street dogs for the last century. But widespread protests against these killings transformed Turkey into one of the only countries where it is now illegal to euthanize or hold captive any stray dog. Every free-roaming dog today is an emblem of resistance — living manifestations of compassion in the face of intolerance. I first met Zeytin, our canine protagonist, as she hurried past me in a busy underground tunnel in Istanbul. Intrigued by her sense of purposefulness, I chased after her. She was joined by Nazar, another street dog. As it turned out, they were on the heels of a group of young men from Syria — Jamil, Halil and Ali — who were living on the streets as refugees in Turkey. Zeytin quickly emerged as the focus of our production because she was one of the rare dogs we followed who did not inadvertently end up following us back. To the very last day of shooting, she remained radically independent. In Zeytin I saw a character who could fully envelop us within her own non-human will — a quality that was vital to a story about dogs who, unlike pets, are not only defined by their relationship to humans. My journey through Turkey traversed a socio-cultural terrain in which for a moment, one nation became refuge for many others. When xenophobia, species destruction and nationalist sentiment are rising all around the world, STRAY springs from these cracks in our anthropocentric modernity. It asks us to re-evaluate what it means that our streets are continuously emptied of everyone except those whom we’ve deemed to be its legitimate citizens. Through STRAY, I hope to continually push the boundaries of the cinematic medium in order to explore and challenge unequal states of personhood — to expand viewers’ circles of moral and perceptual consideration beyond their own class, culture, and species. – Elizabeth Lo

About the filmmaker – Director, Producer, Cinematographer, Editor Elizabth Lo is an award-winning filmmaker. Her work has been broadcast and showcased internationally, including at the Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs, True/False, BAM Cinema fest, New York Times Op-Docs, and PBS POV. Elizabeth was named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine in 2015 and was featured in the 2015 Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase at Cannes Lion. She was selected for the New York Film Festival Artist Academy in 2018 and the Locarno Film Festival Filmmakers Academy in 2019. Elizabeth’s work has played at over 100 film festivals and has won numerous awards. Her short films include Hotel 22 (2015), Bisonhead (2016), Mother’s Day (2017), The Disclosure President (2016), Notes from Buena Vista (2016), Treasure Island (2014), and Last Stop in Santa Rosa (2013). In 2017, her collected shorts were released by Video Project as a DVD, The Short Films of Elizabeth Lo, for distribution to educational institutions and libraries around the world. Elizabeth was born and raised in Hong Kong and holds a B.F.A. from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and an M.F.A. from Stanford University. STRAY is her feature film debut. 

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95% on Rotten Tomatoes

“The ultimate love letter to dogs and a multifaceted moral inquiry into humanity… [A] virtuosic feature documentary debut.” – Tomris Laffly, Variety

“Dog lovers will drool over this profound canine love letter from Turkey.  Gorgeous, absorbing…The dogs run most of the show, and they serve as remarkable centerpieces in a complex visual tapestry.”- Eric Kohn, IndieWire 

“A howling success. Artful, intimate… ‘Stray’ shines a piercing light on what it means to be an outcast in a teeming metropolis.”- Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter

“As simple as its title and as complex as the city it briefly illuminates…” – Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

“Lo inspects both the faultlines and fringes of the Turkish society and ponders profound philosophical questions concerning humanity.” – Tomris Laffly, Variety

La Llorona – Director Jayro Bustamante

Ripped from the pages of Guatemala’s recent wrenching history, LA LLORONA follows the story of a fictional and indignant retired general, Enrique, as he is being forced to face his murderous past at his own trial for the genocidal massacre of thousands of Mayans decades ago. As a horde of angry protestors threatens to invade their opulent home, the women of the house – his haute wife, conflicted daughter, and precocious granddaughter – weigh their responsibility to shield the erratic, senile Enrique against the devastating truths behind being publicly revealed and the increasing sense that a wrathful supernatural force is targeting them for his crimes. Meanwhile, much of the family’s domestic staff flees, leaving only loyal housekeeper Valeriana until a mysterious young indigenous maid arrives. A tale of horror and magical realism, the film reimagines the iconic Latin American fable as an urgent metaphor of Guatemala’s recent history and tears open the country’s unhealed political wounds to grieve a seldom discussed crime against humanity. LA LLORONA marks Jayro Bustamante’s third feature and demonstrates his continued efforts to highlight social inequality in his native Guatemala with deft sensitivity and visual richness. The Silver Bear-winning director, writer, producer and editor, Jayro Bustamante (Temblores, Ixcanul) joins us to talk about his tale of horror and fantasy, ripe with suspense, and an urgent metaphor of Guatemalan recent history and its unhealed political wounds, 

 

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For news and updates go to: filmfactoryentertainment.com/la-llorona

LA LLORONA will make its U.S. theatrical premiere this Friday, March 5 as part of the programming at the IFC Center, which is reopening following one year of closures of New York City movie theaters. 

LA LLORONA is Guatemala’s Official Oscar® entry for Best International Feature Film, and one of the 15 films shortlisted being considered for the final five films in the running for the Academy Award.

2021 National Board of Review WINNER – Best Foreign Language Film
2021 Satellite Awards WINNER – Best Film, International
2021 Critics Choice Awards Nominee – Best Foreign Language Film

97% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Bustamante’s La Llorona is a bold assertion of the embedded prejudice against indigenous populations in his home country of Guatemala while also asserting that women and children in particular bore the brunt of the violence.” – Natalia Keogan, Paste Magazine

“Smart and elegant. The real horror lies not in the supernatural but in the savage acts of men.” – Carolina Miranda, Los Angeles Times

“Bustamante’s reimagining of the famous folkloric figure is a reminder that in the right hands, horror can be turned into something with almost indescribably enormous ideological potency.” – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, AWFJ Women on Film

“Bustamante’s latest travels into the dark recesses of the human condition to shine a brightly shimmering spotlight on vile evils that should never be locked away and forgotten.” Sara Michelle Fetters, MovieFreak.com

“La Llorona is a beautifully conceived and constructed piece which cleverly utilises ghost story tropes, imagery and sound effects to enhance the impact of its real-life inspired revelations.” – Emma Simmonds, The List

LUCKY – Director Natasha Kermani & Writer / Lead Actor Brea Grant

In the unnerving and creeping panic that is LUCKY, life takes a sudden turn for May, a popular self-help book author, when she finds herself the target of a mysterious man with murderous intentions. Every night, without fail he comes after her, and every day the people around her barely seem to notice. With no one to turn to, May is pushed to her limits and must take matters into her own hands to survive and to regain control of her life. The sophomore feature from Iranian-American filmmaker Natasha Kermani (Imitation Girl), Lucky is written and starring Brea Grant, star of the indie darling AFTER MIDNIGHT and writer/director of the critically acclaimed dark comedy 12 HOUR SHHIFT  Home invasion horror by way of a time loop mystery, LUCKY is a uniquely nightmarish, darkly funny, and timely slasher, and a thrilling addition to the Final Girl genre. Brea Grant stars alongside Dhruv Uday Singh (Good Trouble) and Kausar Mohammed (East of La Brea, What Men Want). Director Natasha Kermani and screenwriter / lead actor Brea Grant join us to talk about how they brought life to their feminist allegory on how relentless cultural and psychological duress undermines women and why injecting their perspective into a horror genre helps them deliver the appropriate mix of fear and reflection.

 

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For news, updates and screenings go to: epic-pictures.com/lucky

Lucky will premiere and debut exclusively to Shudder on March 4th in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as via the Shudder offering within the AMC+ bundle where available. www.shudder.com.

About the filmmaker – Director Natasha Kermani is a writer and director in LA/NY, and the co-founder of Illium Pictures. Natasha’s credits includes science-fiction feature film Imitation Girl (FrightFest ‘17), starring Lauren Ashley Carter. Short form work includes Lewis Black’s web series The Mentors (for which she won Best Director at the NYC Web Fest), the very first live-action short film of beloved manga series, Battle Angel Alita, and the short film POLE, the first film to be funded entirely on twitch.tv. Kermani has directed a variety of commercial content for clients including NYDJ, Thinx, Microsoft, and ThirdLove. Outside film and television, Natasha is a violinist and composer who enjoys playing live shows with local bands and ensembles. Natasha’s Iranian-American heritage, her interest in female-led stories, and her love for genre- filmmaking all converge in her work — a lyrical exploration of how we experience the world around us. 

About the filmmaker – Writer and Lead Actor Brea Grant’s first television acting job was on Friday Night Lights. She is best known for her role as Daphne Millbrook on Heroes. Other TV credits include the series, Cold Case. She has starred in several films, including Battle Planet and Homecoming. She directed and starred in a post-apocalyptic film called Best Friends Forever. She also created a comic book miniseries called We Will Bury You with her brother Zane Grant and artist Kyle Strahm. She continued with the SuicideGirls comic miniseries, based on the pin-up web site of the same name.

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91% on Rotten Tomatoes

“As the filmmakers dial in tighter on those keen observations, their movie gets more and more chilling.” – Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times

“Lucky has something to say, and Grant has thought very deeply about the subjects of violence against women and trauma, as well as gender-based assumptions about these things.” – Sheila O’Malley, RogerEbert.com

“Lucky is a suspenseful, magnificently told metaphor for the real-life horrors women face on a daily basis.” – Molly Henery, The Blogging Banshee

“If you know someone who doesn’t quite grasp the emotional terrorism behind concepts like gaslighting and victim-blaming, sit them down with Lucky.” – Katie Rife, AV Club

“Harrowing experiences are revealed through disorienting sequences heightened by sleek cinematography from Julia Swain and a powerful lead performance from Grant.” – Katherine McLaughlin, Through the Trees

“A gutsy, kick-ass performance from Brea Grant combines with intricately thoughtful directing by Kermani to create a refreshingly modern spin on the tormented female story.” – Kat Hughes, THN

The People vs. Agent Orange – Co-directors Alan Adelson & Kate Taverna

As the latest film from filmmakers Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna lays bares the dioxin-based defoliant, insecticide, Agent Orange catastrophe did not end with the Vietnam War. Today, the world over, a primary chemical of the toxic defoliant controls weeds in farming, forestry, parks, even on children’s playgrounds. Agent Orange wreaks havoc on the human genome, causing deformed births and deadly cancers. After decades of struggle and tragic personal losses, two heroic women are leading a worldwide movement to end the plague and hold the manufacturers accountable. In France, Tran To Nga is suing the American chemical industry for poisoning her in Vietnam. In America, Carol Van Strum exposes the continuing use of toxic herbicides in the Pacific Northwest. Incriminating documents disappear. Activists are threatened. A helicopter technician secretly films the contamination of reservoirs, while a massive industrial cover-up goes on. The People vs. Agent Orange co-directors Alan Adelson and Kate Taverna join us for a conversation on the journey of two women, joned together in their mutual pain, resist intimidation and threats, bringing to light the ongoing, intergenerational catastrophe of chemical warfare and toxic herbicides in the hope of bringing the manufacturers and business related perpetrators to justice.

 

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For news and updates go to: javafilms.film/the-people-vs-agent-orange

Jury Award at Eugene Environmental Film Festival 2020

About the filmmakers: Kate Taverna and Alan Adelson produced and co-­directed In Bed with Ulysses as well as Lodz Ghetto, both of these widely acclaimed films had nationwide theatrical releases. Lodz Ghetto was short-listed for the Best Feature Documentary Oscar. Adelson and Taverna also collaborated on Two Villages in Kosovo, In Bed with Ulysses and Agent Orange: La derniere bataille, an adaptation of The People vs. Agent Orange made for Arte in French and German. Alan Adelson works in both film and print: as a page-one investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal and national magazines he made worldwide headlines exposing the disappearance of enough enriched plutonium to make two Hiroshima-sized bombs. Early in his journalistic career he published investigative articles on the chemical industry. Kate Taverna has edited more than 50 films over her career: Asylum and Killing in the Name were the Academy Award nominees in the Best Short documentary category in 2004 and 2011 respectively. The feature length Pray the Devil Back to Hell won the Best Documentary award at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry won the Audience award at the 2014 Boston Independent Film Festival, released theatrically nationwide and was translated into 22 languages andshown globally on Netflix.Her broadcast editing work has been seen on CBS, IFC, A&E, BBC and PBS, among others. 

Films for Humanity is proud to present the US virtual theatrical release of THE PEOPLE vs AGENT ORANGE, a documentary film by Kate Taverna and Alan Adelson. Winner of the Jury Award at the 2020 Eugene Environmental Film Festival, the film will have a virtual release at the New Plaza Cinema in New York, at Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles and in other cities on March 5, 2021

Kapaemahu – Co-directors Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hammer and Joe Wilson

Long ago, four extraordinary beings of dual male and female spirit brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii and imbued their powers in four giant boulders. The stones still stand on Waikiki Beach, but the true story behind them has been hidden – until now. Shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Animated Film – Short Form, KAPAEMAHU brings this powerful legend back to life in vivid animation, seen through the eyes of a curious child.  Co-directors, and co-producers Joe Wilson, (Out in the Silence) Dean Hamer (The Science of Desire, The God Gene) and Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu (Leitis in Waiting, Lady Eva) joins us for a conversation on the ways in which indigenous cultures of the Pacific Islands have embraced third-gender (mahu) identities and celebrate the ability and spirit of male and female strengths, as well as the decision to tell the story of Kapaemahu in an animated story format.

For news and updates go to: kapaemahu.com

Kapaemahu has been shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Animated Film – Short Form

Director’s Statement – I am Kanaka — a native person descended from the original inhabitants of the islands of Hawaii.  Our survival as indigenous people depends on our ability to know and practice our cultural traditions, to speak and understand our language, and to feel an authentic connection to our own history. That is why I wanted to make a film about Kapaemahu, and to write and narrate it in Olelo Niihau – the only form of Hawaiian that has been continuously spoken since prior to the arrival of foreigners. It is not enough to study our language in an American classroom, nor to read about our history in an English language textbook. We need to be active participants in telling our own stories in our own way. I am also mahu, which like many indigenous third-gender identities was once respected but is now more often a target for hatred and discrimination. I want our young people to understand that the ability to embrace both the male and female aspects of their spirit is not a weakness but a strength, a reason to rejoice not to fear.  Whether it is protecting Mauna Kea or Kapaemahu, I shall always believe in what historian S. M. Kamakau articulated in 1865 : He makemake ko’u e pololei ka moolelo o ko’u one hanau, aole na ka malihimi e ao ia’u I ka moolelo o ko’u lahui, na’u e ao aku I ka moolelo I ka malihini.  (“I want the history of my homeland to be correct. The foreigner shall not teach me the history of my people, I will teach the foreigner.”) ~ Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu

About the filmmaker – Director, Producer Dean Hamer is a New York Times Book of the Year author, Emmy and GLAAD Media award-winning filmmaker, and National Institutes of Health scientist emeritus with a long history in communicating complex and controversial ideas to diverse publics.  He formed Kanaka Pakipika with partner Joe Wilson and documentary film protagonist Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu to collaborate on an insightful series of films that have opened the eyes of the worlds to the lessons to be learned from Polynesia’s unique approach to diversity and inclusion.  He is currently working on a book and museum exhibition based on Kapaemahu.  Hamer is  the author of several best-selling nonfiction books including “The Science of Desire” and “The God Gene,” has been a consultant for the BBC and Discovery channels, and his research has been featured in Time, Newsweek, and Science magazines and on Frontline and Oprah.

About the filmmaker – Director, ProducerJoe Wilson is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker dedicated to telling stories that emanate from the voices of those on the outside.   His feature and short films combine live action with animation to explore pressing social issues through innovative storytelling.  Wilson’s work has screened and won awards at festivals around the world including Berlin, Toronto and Tribeca, been viewed by millions of viewers on PBS, ARTE and other international broadcasts, and has been supported by Sundance, Ford and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Wilson’s 2010 film Out in the Silence focused on the challenges of LGBT people in rural and small town America and became the centerpiece of a multi-year national campaign to open dialogue and build bridges across socio-political divides. Shortly after, he and partner Dean Hamer began their now decade-long collaboration with Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, first documenting her story in the PBS Independent Lens Audience Award-winner Kumu Hina, then with Hina joining as producer on a series of films about gender diversity in the Pacific, including Leitis in Waiting, Lady Eva, and The RogersKapaemahu is Wilson’s fifth film in collaboration with Hina. Prior to filmmaking, he served as Director of Human Rights at the Public Welfare Foundation and Producer of Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now.

About the filmmaker – Director, Producer, Narrator Hinaleimoana Wong-Kaluis a Native Hawaiian teacher, cultural practitioner and filmmaker who uses digital media to protect and perpetuate indigenous languages and traditions. She began her film work as a protagonist and educational advisor for the award winning films Kumu Hina and A Place in the Middle, and received a National Education Association Human Rights Award, Native Hawaiian Educator of the year and White House Champion of Change Award for the groundbreaking impact campaigns associated with those films. Continuing her journey to the other side of the lens, Kumu Hina produced the PBS/ARTE feature documentary Leitis in Waiting and award-winning short Lady Eva about her transgender sisters in the Kingdom of Tonga. Hina is also a transgender health advocate, burial council chair, candidate for the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and composer of “Ku Haaheo E Kuu Hawaii,” the internationally-known anthem for the protection of Mauna Kea which was honored as Hawaiian Song of the Year in the 2020 Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, known as the Hawaiian Grammys.

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Night of the Kings – Director Philippe Lacôte

In the 2021 OSCAR® Shortlisted for Best International Feature Film, NIGHT OF THE KINGS a young man is sent to LA MACA, a prison in the middle of the Ivorian forest ruled by its inmates. As tradition goes with the rising of the red moon, he is designated by the Boss to be the new “Roman” and must tell a story to the other prisoners. Learning what fate awaits him, he begins to narrate the mystical life of the legendary outlaw named Zama King and has no choice but to make his story last until dawn. Director Philippe Lacôte (Chronicles of War in the Ivory Coast, Run) joins us to talk about his searingly dramatic film that feels like part documentary, part narrative as it tracks a story of survival, deception, mythology and the power of storytelling.

 

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For news and updates go to: neonrated.com/films/night-of-the-kings

IN SELECT THEATERS AND VIRTUAL CINEMAS
LAEMMLE VIRTUAL CINEMA in Los Angeles Area

 

About the filmmaker – Writer and Director Philippe Lacote grew up in Abidjan near a movie theater – the “Magic”. His work as a director has taken on several forms, before focusing in 2002 on the recent history of his country with CHRONICLES OF WAR IN THE IVORY COAST, a film on the edge between a documentary and a diary. It is followed by the feature film RUN, the story of a wandering madman, selected in Cannes Un Certain Regard 2014. This selection confirmed his talent as a filmmaker and revealed a new voice from the African continent. NIGHT OF THE KINGS (original title “La Nuit Des Rois”), his second feature, is a dive into the largest prison in West Africa, during a night of red moon.

Nominee – Best International Feature Films – Film Independent Spirit Awards 2021
Nominee – Outstanding International Motion Picture – NAACP Image Awards 2021
One of the Top Five Best International Feature Films – NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW
Winner – Amplify Voices Award – Toronto International Film Festival 2020

96% on Rotten Tomatoes

“A power struggle and a ritual practiced by the collective within a microcosm of society housed under the oppression of the state, and a powerful demonstration of the transporting, and liberating, power of narrative.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

“An assured, energetic piece of epic filmmaking, one that celebrates how storytelling, oration, and folklore teach us about our past so we might change our present.” – Robert Daniels RogerEbert.com

“Philippe Lacôte’s restless film – a rare United States release from Ivory Coast – braids together its struggles for survival to suggest an entire country fighting to emerge.” – Nicolas Rapold, New York Times

“This captivating hybrid of a movie mixes fairy-tale and storytelling elements with a vividly drawn backdrop of heightened realism… and relies on images and sounds as much as the human voice to tell its multiple stories.” – Boyd van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter

Hunger Ward – Director Skye Fitzgerald

Filmed from inside two of the most active therapeutic feeding centers in Yemen, HUNGER WARD documents two female health care workers fighting to thwart the spread of starvation against the backdrop of a forgotten war. HUNGER WARD provides an unflinching portrait of Dr. Aida Al Sadeeq and Nurse Mekkia Mahdi as they try to save the lives of hunger-stricken children within a population on the brink of famine. HUNGER WARD is the third installment of Director Skye Fitzgerald’s Humanitarian Trilogy, focused on the global refugee crisis. The first film, 50 FEET FROM SYRIA focused on doctors working on the Syrian border and was Oscar® shortlisted. The second, LIFEBOAT documents search and rescue operations off the coast of Libya and was nominated for an Academy Award® and national Emmy®. Director Skye Fitzgerald (Lifeboat, 50 Feet from Syria, Finding Face) joins us for a conversation on the making of his 2021 Oscar® Shortlisted Hunger Ward documentary, how little American mass media has talked about the ongoing genocidal war against a defenseless civilian population – done with diplomatic,  political backing by the Trump Administration, as well as, intelligence and logistical support from the US military – and what we can do to stop it.

 

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For news and updates go to: hungerward.org

2021 Oscar® shortlist – Best Documentary (Short form)

About the filmmaker – Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Documentary Branch). Oscar/Emmy/IDA-Nominated Director Skye Fitzgerald is directing The Humanitarian Trilogy: HUNGER WARD (2020) documents the impact of the war and famine in Yemen on children, families, and health care workers. LIFEBOAT (2018) highlights search and rescue operations off the coast of Libya and was nominated for an Academy Award® and national Emmy® award. 50 FEET FROM SYRIA (2015) focuses on doctors working on the Syrian border and was voted onto the Oscar® shortlist. Fitzgerald was also inducted as an honorary member into SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society) for his work with Syrian refugees and named a Distinguished Alumnus at his alma mater EOU for documentary work. As a Fulbright Research Scholar Fitzgerald directed the film Bombhunters and has since worked with the Sundance Institute, the U.S. Institute of Peace, the State Department, the Paul Robeson Fund and Mountainfilm. As a Director of Photography, Fitzgerald lenses work for major clients including Dateline, VICE, Mercy Corps, CNN, the Discovery, Travel, History and Animal Planet Channels. For more on Skye Fitzgerald go to: spinfilm.org

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Critical reactions to Skye Fitzgerald’s work:

“…a rare look inside the human impact of the war in Yemen” – Jane Ferguson – PBS NewsHour

“Once you see it, you won’t forget it.” – Sarah Larson – THE NEW YORKER 

“Fitzgerald has sought to harness this art-form to draw attention those who are struggling to obtain their most basic, fundamental human freedoms. LIFEBOAT…is vitally important.” – US HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION 

“…deftly addresses the most critical humanitarian issue of our time and those who are doing something about it.” – Michael Brody – Programmer Crested Butte FF  

“…visually brutal…a harrowing package.”  – VARIETY  

Do Not Split – Director Anders Hammer

Filmed across an entire year, DO NOT SPLIT takes us within the heart of the 2019 Hong Kong protests, capturing the determination and sacrifices of the city’s youth as their movement becomes symbolic for a generation’s rebellion against the political systems of two governments. Armed with umbrellas, gas masks, social media, and sheer determination, the protestors risk their lives, safety, and futures against the police’s tear gas, armed vehicles, and violence. Anders Hammer’s powerful film paints a nuanced and sobering picture of the challenges faced by the protestors,  joining student leaders and protestors on the ground to give an expansive and first-hand portrait of the unrest that prompted a government’s backlash, the passage of the new Beijing-backed national security law, and captured the attention of the world. Director Anders Hammer joins us to talk about the history of Hong Kong’s relationship to the British empire and the handover to the People’s Republic of China, the 20-year deterioration of civil and political rights as well as the determined bravery of the student led protestors determined to resist the tightening grip of an increasingly oppressive regime.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to andershammer.com

2021 Oscar® shortlist – Best Documentary (Short form)

DO NOT SPLIT premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival; screened at CPH:DOX, Guanajuato International Film Festival, Denver Film Festival, SFFILM’s Doc Stories, Meet the Press Film Festival at AFI, and Indy Shorts International Film Festival; and received the AFI DOCS Short Film Special Jury Prize and Special Jury Recognition for Courage Under Fire at DOC NYC.

About the filmmaker – Anders Hammer has filmed and directed the documentary Do Not Split which takes us within the heart of the Hong Kong protests that started in the summer of 2019. The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and received the Special Jury Prize at AFI DOCS and Special Jury Recognition for Courage under Fire at DOC NYC. Hammer directed the documentary series Our Allies for Field of Vision. He also directed and produced Escape from Syria: Rania’s Odyssey, which was published by The Guardian and won a Webby Award and a One World Media Award for Best Refugee Reporting in 2018. The documentary went viral and gained more than 10 million views and 100,000 shares in social media. Hammer is one of the directors of the documentary  Exit Afghanistan published by Netflix. He has directed seven documentaries for the Norwegian investigative journalism program NRK Brennpunkt and many short documentaries. Hammer lived and worked in Afghanistan for six years and has written four documentary books about the country, one of them together with the Danish author Carsten Jensen. In Norway, where Hammer was born in 1977, he has received the Fritt Ord Award (which is given in support of freedom of expression), the International Reporter’s Journalism Award and the Big Journalist Award.

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“A visually stunning piece of reportage” – Nick Cunningham, BusinessDoc Europe

“A frenetic, urgent look at the protests that have rocked the city since June 2019” – Susannah Gruder, Hyperallergic

A Concerto is a Conversation – Co-directors Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers

The new short subject documentary A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION tells the story of virtuoso jazz pianist and film composer Kris Bowers as he tracks his family’s lineage through his 91-year-old grandfather, Horace Bowers, from Jim Crow Florida to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. In the 13-minute film A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION, Bowers traces the process of breaking into new spaces through generations of sacrifice that came before him, focusing on the story of his grandfather Horace Bowers. As a young man, he left his home in  the Jim Crow South, eventually ending up in Los Angeles. Encountering discrimination at every turn, he and his wife, Alice, nevertheless made a life as business owners. Today, their legacy lives on through their family and community in South Los Angeles, where a stretch of Central Avenue was recently designated Bowers Retail Square — in case any question remained about whether it’s a place they belong. Horace Bowers tells his grandson Kris Bowers,  “Never think that you’re not supposed to be there.” A CONCERTO IS A CONVERSATION, co-directors Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers join us for a conversation on their deeply personal film, primer on race in Southern California and the power of music and family to help us all see the world beyond ourselves.

 

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For news and updates go to: breakwaterstudios.com/a-concerto-is-a-conversation

Click here to watch: A Concerto is a Conversation

A Concerto is a Conversation has been shortlisted for the 2021 Oscar® in the Best Documentary – Short Form

About the filmmaker – Kristopher Bowers (born 1989) is an American composer and pianist who has composed scores for films, video games, television and documentaries including, “Green Book,” Madden NFL, “Dear White People,” and Kobe Bryant’s “Muse.” He has recorded, performed, and collaborated with the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, and José James. He won the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition in 2011 and a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition in 2017 for The Snowy Day. Bowers worked on the score of Ava DuVernay’s Netflix mini-series When They See Us as well as the current Netflix hit Bridgerton. For more go to: krisbowers.com

About the filmmaker – Ben Proudfoot (born 1990) is a Nova Scotia born filmmaker and founder of Breakwater Studios, an emerging leader in the short documentary space. A former sleight of hand magician, Ben has pioneered alternative models of short documentary financing and distribution including noteworthy and award-winning collaborations with The New York Times, Charles Schwab, Annapurna Pictures and the LA Phil, earning him a spot on the 2020 Forbes 30 under 30 list. In addition to his work as an entrepreneur, Ben is an award-winning artist and filmmaker, having directed over fifty noteworthy original short documentaries. Ben’s work as a director has been selected by HotDocs, Sundance, Tribeca and Telluride. He resides in Los Angeles. For more go to: breakwaterstudios.com

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Call Center Blues – Director Geeta Gandbhir

A character-driven, cinematic tale of deportation, migration, displacement and opportunistic capitalism, CALL CENTER BLUES follows four characters as they struggle to make sense of their lives in Tijuana. Each with a vastly different story, they are all linked by their displacement and the sole choice of call center work they have in a country that is so unfamiliar and oftentimes frightening, yet other times a ray of hope. Tijuana becomes their home, a place defined by the border but yet defiant towards it, a no man’s land where everything and everyone feels transient. These characters paint a picture of love, loss and longing – for home, for an American Dream deferred, and for justice. Director Geeta Gandbhir joins us conversation on an aspect of immigration and deportation that is as relevant and heartbreaking as any immigration issue and the importance that an Oscar nomination brings to the issue and the film.

 

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For news annd updates go to: multitudefilms.com/call-center-blues

Shortlisted for 2021 Oscar nomination for Best Documentary (Short Form)

SHORTS SHORTLIST – IDA Documentary Awards 2020
OFFICIAL SELECTION – DOC NYC Short List: Shorts 2020
OFFICIAL SELECTION – SXSW Film Festival 2020
WINNER – Best Documentary Short – Virginia Film Festival 2020
WINNER – Best Documentary Short – Fayetteville Film Festival 2020

About the filmmaker – Geeta Gandbhir is an award-winning director, producer and editor. As director, she won Best Documentary at the News and Doc Emmys for I AM EVIDENCE, an HBO Documentary Film, and Best Government and Politics Documentary for ARMED WITH FAITH, a PBS Documentary film. As editor, she won a Primetime Emmy for Best Editing for Spike Lee’s HBO documentary series WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE and also for the HBO film BY THE PEOPLE, THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA. A documentary film she co-produced, THE SENTENCE, for HBO, also won a Special Jury Primetime Emmy.Other feature docs she co-directed include PRISON DOGS, A JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES: PEACEKEEPERS, and REMEMBERING THE ARTIST: ROBERT DENIRO SR.She created and is co-directing and co-producing a series on race with The New York Times Op-Docs titled “The Conversation” which won the AFI Documentary Film Festival and a MacArthur Grant. She has been the recipient of a Ford Foundation grant, a MacArthur Grant, among others, and in 2017, she was the recipient of Chicken and Eggs prestigious Breakthrough Filmmaker Award.

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Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa – Co-directors Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Mike Attie

At the Philadelphia abortion helpline, counselors arrive each morning to the nonstop ring of calls from women and teens who are seeking to end a pregnancy but can’t afford to. In this short documentary we learn how economic stigma and cruel legislation determines who in America has access to abortion. Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa gives voice to women and teens affected by discriminatory policies like the Hyde Amendment. At the abortion helpline in Philadelphia, phone counselors—all called Lisa—arrive each morning to the nonstop ring of calls from people who are seeking to end a pregnancy . . . and can’t afford to. Abortion Helpline, This is Lisa shares the stories of the callers for whom getting through to the helpline in time can literally be life-changing—for them and their families. Co-directors Barbara Attie, Janet Goldwater, and Mike Attie join us for a conversation on the continuing assault on the Constitutionally guaranteed right of women to seek and receive access to safe and legally appropriate health services and how important these privately funded community helplines are to women and their families.

 

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For news and updates go to: abortionhelplinedoc.com

To watch the film go to: vimeo.com/staffpicks

Oscar Shortlisted 2021 Best Documentary (Short Program)

WINNER – Grand Jury Prize, Shorts – AFI DOCS 2020
NOMINEE – Best Short – IDA Awards 2020
SHORTLIST – Shorts – Cinema Eye Honors 2020
FINALIST – ShortList Film Festival 2020

 

The Hyde Amendment – What is the Hyde Amendment and why has its repeal become a litmus test for progressive politicians? In 1976, only three years after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land, the Hyde Amendment was enacted with the explicit intention of denying poor individuals—those receiving Medicaid—access to abortion. To learn more about the Hyde Amendment read this or watch this short video.

17 Blocks – Director Davy Rothbart

In 1999, filmmaker Davy Rothbart met Emmanuel Sanford-Durant and his older brother, Smurf, during a pickup basketball game in Southeast Washington, D.C. Davy began filming their lives, and soon the two brothers and other family members began to use the camera themselves. The result is 17 BLOCKS. Made in a unique collaboration with filmmaker and journalist Davy Rothbart, the film focuses on four generations of the Sanford Family, including Emmanuel, a promising student, his brother Smurf, his sister Denice, an aspiring cop, and his mother Cheryl, who must conquer her own demons for her family to prosper. Spanning two decades, 17 BLOCKS illuminates a nation’s ongoing crisis through one family’s raw, stirring, and deeply personal saga. Made from more than 1,000 hours of footage, it all starts on the street where they lived in 1999, 17 blocks behind the U.S. Capitol. Director Davy Rothbart joins us to talk about his profoundly moving gut punch of a film about the lives of a family fighting against the chaos and cruelty of embedded racism, broken social institutions and pervasive violence, all of it happening a little more than a stones throw from the lawmakers who step over their dead bodies on their way to “work”. God help us if you are not moved by this film.

 

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For news, screenings and updates go to: 17blocksfilm.com

In Virtual Cinemas Starting February 19th, 2021 

Director Davy Rothbart’s team has partnered with organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety and Black Lives Matter D.C. on screenings, and for the film’s national release, presented by MTV Documentary Films. Its national virtual release is set for February 19, 2021, streaming from nearly 100 theaters across the U.S., and viewable on computers, tablets, mobile devices, AppleTV, and Roku.

About the filmmaker – Davy Rothbart is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, bestselling author and journalist, frequent contributor to public radio’s This American Life , and the creator of Found Magazine. Rothbart’s film MEDORA, about a resilient high-school basketball team in a dwindling Indiana town, based on the NewYork Times story by Pulitzer Prize winner John Branch, was Executive Produced by Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci, and premiered at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival. MEDORA later aired on the acclaimed PBS series Independent Lens and won an Emmy Award.  Rothbart previously directed two documentaries about the activist band Rise Against, which became best-selling DVDs in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Sweden. A separate short film featuring Rise Against’s song “Make It Stop” was created for Dan Savage’s It Gets Better project and later won an MTV Music Video Award.  Rothbart’s radio stories featured on This American Life have reached more than 20 million listeners, and his books FOUND and My Heart Is An Idiot have debuted on The New York Times Bestseller List. He has made multiple appearances on The Late Show With David Letterman , been featured on ABC’s 20/20, Last Call with Carson Daly, MSNBC, and NPR’s All Things Considered, and been profiled in The New Yorker and The New York Times. A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Rothbart now lives in Los Angeles, California. 

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“An essential viewing doc about race & class in America… A documentary with Cinema Verite sensibilities and no qualms whatsoever about the honest presentation of its subjects, 17 BLOCKS is both heartbreaking and inspiring.” – Warren Cantrell, The Playlist 

“RAW AND IMMEDIATE… packs a potent emotional punch.” – Frank Scheck, Hollywood Reporter 

“A remarkably raw and heartfelt piece of filmmaking… At its best, 17 BLOCKS  reminded me of the deep humanism of Steve James’ work.” – Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

“More than just a singular achievement in documentary filmmaking, “17 Blocks” is the result of the Sanford family’s profound act of bravery. – Mark Keizer, Variety

“An absolutely devastating, powerful, and deeply moving film.“ – Tim Cogshell, FilmWeek (KPCC – NPR Los Angeles)

“There’s a searing honesty and immediacy about the footage.” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film