OLEANDER, (Emily Robinson)17, is the star and sole creator of her own provocative, sex-positive YouTube channel. She is also an unwilling student at a Christian abstinence program, led by the poised and charismatic Alissa, (Peri Gilpin) 50s. When Alissa demands that Oleander issue an on-camera apology for mocking her abstinence program online, a fierce battle of wills ensues. Alissa is aided by Kim, (Jennifer Lafleur) 30s, a filmmaker-for-hire who has no allegiance other than to serve her client. Oleander fights desperately for her voice and her beliefs, but will her anti slut-shaming message be able to stand up against the manipulative power of the two adults who seek to suppress her? Director Kate Hackett joins us for a conversation on her thoughtful, sharply focused look at the power of manipulation, respect, trust and sexual agency.
About the filmmaker – Kate Hackett is a filmmaker and film editor based in Los Angeles. She is a 2020 Emmy winner for her editing work on the Netflix documentary series “Cheer.” Her work as an editor also includes the Emmy award winning Netflix documentary series “Last Chance U,” and the Sundance documentary feature Half The Picture. She was the 2018 Sundance Institute Sally Menke Editing Fellow. As a screenwriter, she was a 2016 American Zoetrope Screenwriting contest finalist with the screenplay Purify My Heart.
Best Director – Short Film, The Method Fest 2020
Official Selection of LA Femme International Film Festival 2020*
A lifetime of making documentaries has convinced award-winning filmmaker Kirsten Johnson of the power of the real. But now she’s ready to use every escapist movie-making trick in the book – staging inventive and fantastical ways for her 86-year-old psychiatrist father to die while hoping that cinema might help her bend time, laugh at pain and keep her father alive forever. The darkly funny and wildly imaginative DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD is a love letter from a daughter to a father, creatively blending fact and fiction to create a celebratory exploration of how movies give us the tools to grapple with life’s profundity.DICK JOHNSON IS DEAD was filmed, produced and directed by Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson), produced by Katy Chevigny and Marilyn Ness, co-produced by Maureen A. Ryan and executive produced by Megan Ellison. Director Kirsten Johnson joins us for conversation on her approach to working along side her dad, making the personal universal and how sharing her own acquired wisdom has impacted her life.
About the filmmaker – Kirsten Johnson is a cinematographer and director interested in addressing the changing dimensions and urgent ethical challenges of documentary camerawork. Her most recent film, CAMERAPERSON, premiered at Sundance 2016, was shortlisted for an Academy Award, won the National Board of Review “Freedom of Expression” prize, and was awarded three 2017 Cinema Eye Honors, including ‘Outstanding Nonfiction Feature’. CAMERAPERSON was named one of the ‘Top Ten Films of 2016’ by The New York Times and The Washington Post, was the Grand Jury Prize Winner of 9 international festivals, won the ARRI Cinematography Award, and is distributed by The Criterion Collection. Her short, THE ABOVE, premiered at the 2015 New York Film Festival and was nominated for the International Documentary Association ‘Best Short Award’ for 2016. Kirsten’s camerawork has appeared in the Academy Award-winning CITIZEN FOUR, Cannes Premiere RISK, Academy Award-nominated THE INVISIBLE WAR, Tribeca Documentary Winner, PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL, Cannes winner FAHRENHEIT 9/11, and Emmy Award-winning LADIES FIRST. She shared the Sundance 2010 Cinematography Award with Laura Poitras for their work on THE OATH. She and Katy Chevigny co-directed the Berlinale premiering DEADLINE, which won the Thurgood Marshall Award. She teaches “Visual Thinking” in the NYU Graduate Journalism Department. In 2017, she was awarded the Chicken and Egg Breakthrough Filmmaker Award and she is currently a Sundance Art of Nonfiction Fellow. She is a 2017 Guggenheim Fellow and was recently invited to be one of the 4% of ASC members who are women.
“A deeply moving vision of life in the face of bodily death and the threatened loss of selfhood, as well as a loving unpacking of the lifetimes of memories from which families are made.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker
“Instead of pushing her father’s death to the back of her mind, Johnson embraces it fully and even has fun with it. She takes her heartache and turns it into joy.” – Brianna Zigler, Little White Lies
“Unabashedly toying with the conventions of obituary, the documentation of the infirm, and the memorialization of a parent, the end result is a triumph.” – Jason Gorber, POV Magazine
“A touching and funny meditation on embracing life and fearing death at the same time.” – Eric Kohn, indieWire
Set in the dark underbelly of Silicon Valley, THE SOCIAL DILEMMA fuses investigative documentary with enlightening narrative drama—think An Inconvenient Truth meets The Matrix. Expert testimony from tech whistle-blowers exposes our disturbing predicament: the services Big Tech provides—search engines, networks, instant information, et cetera—are merely the candy that lures us to bite. Once we’re hooked and coming back for more, the real commodity they sell is their prowess to influence and manipulate us. Technology wizards have masterminded a new form of capitalism, and humanity is now the raw resource feeding the machine. THE SOCIAL DILEMMA focuses on the powerful, hidden artificial intelligence tasked with hijacking our attention is tearing apart social norms, jeopardizing truth and democracy, and putting civilization on a programmed path toward self-destruction. Award-winning filmmaker and environmentalist Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Ice, 2012; Chasing Coral, 2017) disrupts the disrupters by uncorking the invisible story purring from that mobile phone hidden in your pocket. Cunningly entertaining, THE SOCIAL DILEMMA sounds the alarm on surveillance capitalism in hopes of preserving the very fabric of our society before it’s too late. Director Jeff Orlowski joins us to talk about his incredibly relevant and important film.
About the filmmaker: Jeff Orlowski is the director, producer, and cinematographer of Chasing Coral(2017 Sundance Film Festival winner of the Audience Award: U.S. Documentary) andChasing Ice(2012 Festival winner of the Excellence in Cinematography Award Documentary). Both films screened at the United Nations and Congress and won Emmy Awards. Orlowski was awarded the inaugural Sundance Institute Discovery Impact Fellowship and named a United Nations Environment Programme Champion of the Earth. For more on the work of Jeff Orlowski go to: exposurelabs.com
Maggie Kiley is the Executive Producer and one of the series directors for the second season of USA Network’s high profile series, DIRTY JOHN: THE BETTY BRODERICK STORY. This season is special for the fact that all eight episodes were directed by women. Kiley directed four out of the eight episodes, including the season premiere and finale. DIRTY JOHN: THE BETTY BRODERICK STORY follows the tumultuous relationship of Betty and Dan Broderick, played by Amanda Peet and Christian Slater, as their marriage turns into what was called one of “America’s messiest divorces” even before it ended in double homicide. DIRTY JOHN: THE BETTY BRODERICK STORY follows a high society woman, mother of four, driven to the edge by her husband’s lies, manipulation, and psychological abuse, that slowly escalates as his extra-marital affair is revealed, a bitter divorce ensues, and blood is shed. This is a warts-and-all depiction of the extremes of erratic behavior provoked under pressure. The creative juggernaut known as Maggie Kiley takes time out of her very busy life to talk with us about her love for storytelling, mentoring other artists and working with her beloved actors.
About the filmmaker: Award-winning filmmaker Maggie Kiley, is an alumnae of AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, both a Fox and Film Independent Directing Fellow. She was recently as the first director chosen for Ryan Murphy’s Half Initiative, which has led to gigs helming episodes of American Horror Story: Cult, Scream Queens, and 9-1-1. Her credits reflect her diversity, since she has made contributions to CW’s Katy Keene, Riverdale, Marvel’s The Gifted, Netflix’s What/If and Syfy’s George R. R. Martin’s Nighflyers, to name just a few. Kiley recently signed a major exclusive, multi-year overall deal at Warner Bros TV. Under the pact, she will render director and executive producer services for the studio, in addition to developing new TV projects for broadcast, cable and streaming services. She was the first woman in 30 years to have a TV deal at WBTV like this. Maggie Kiley began her career as an actor with the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York City before making the transition from acting to directing with her award winning short film, Some Boys Don’t Leave. The film stars Jesse Eisenberg and Eloise Mumford and played over 50 festivals, garnering top honors at Tribeca and Palm Springs. Kiley received the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant for her debut feature, Brightest Star which starred Chris Lowell and Allison Janney. Her second feature, Dial a Prayer, released in 2015 starred Brittany Snow and William H. Macy. Her third feature was a thriller with Anna Camp, titled Caught marking the last of three features films in three years.
WALK RUN CHA-CHAhas been nominated for Documentary Short Subject at the 92nd Academy Awards®. Directed by Laura Nix, the film follows Paul and Millie Cao, who lost their youth to the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Forty years later, they have become successful professionals in Southern California-and are rediscovering themselves on the dance floor. WALK RUN CHA CHA is now streaming on New York Times Op-Docs.
About the Filmmaker: Director Laura Nix Laura Nix is an award-winning fiction and nonfiction filmmaker based in Los Angeles. WALK RUN CHA-CHA is adapted from a feature-length documentary in progress. It was produced by Concordia Studio for The New York Times Op-Docs and premiered at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Laura’s work also includesother work includes her feature documentary INVENTING TOMORROW, about teenagers from around the globe tackling environmental issues through science, THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING, a comedy about activism and climate change, the documentary THE LIGHT IN HER EYES, about a Syrian Qur’an school for women and she was a writer on the Emmy-nominated documentary CALIFORNIA STATE OF MIND: THE LEGACY OF PAT BROWN. In 2001, Nix co-founded the production company Automat Pictures, where she produced and/or directed over 100 presentations, including the feature documentary WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT: THE STORY OF HEDWIG, which played in over a dozen film festivals in the U.S. and worldwide. Previously she was a member of Oscar-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s production company Telling Pictures, where she was Associate Producer on THE CELLULOID CLOSET.
“Laura Nix’s WALK RUN CHA-CHA is a moving, poignant portrait of two aging refugees who have endured a great deal, and who now face one of life’s biggest challenges: figuring out how to stay in love. Through them, Nix also evokes the textures, tastes, and sounds of Vietnamese refugee life, and mixes them in with everything that is good about the United States. Ultimately, WALK RUN CHA-CHA is an optimistic film about both love and hope—the hope that our country will continue to believe in welcoming strangers from other lands, who in the end are not that strange at all.”– Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer
In 2015, after Hassan Fazili’s documentary Peace in Afghanistan aired on Afghan national television, the Taliban assassinated the film’s main subject and put a price on Fazili’s head.Fearing for their survival, the Fazili family, Nargis, Zahra, and Fatima fled Kabul for Tajikistan. Yet after 14 months spent submitting asylum applications that were rejected again and again, they were deported back to Afghanistan. It was at this juncture that Fazili picked up his cell phone and hit the record button and with that Midnight Traveler began to take shape. Chronicling every step from inside the action, Fazili, his filmmaker wife, and their young daughters trek across Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Serbia—scurrying through perilous landscapes, huddling in freezing forests, cramming into rattling vehicles. As they endure smugglers, gangs, and refugee camps, the camera witnesses not only the danger and desperation but also the exuberance and tenderness of this irresistible, loving family. For Fazili, framing their story becomes an assertion of control, humanity, and self-expression in a situation where none exists. With its radical subjectivity, visceral footage, and poetic form, Midnight Traveler is a migration story like no other. Producer Su Kim and Producer / writer / editor Emilie Mahdavian join us for a look at at Hassan and his remarkably resilient family as they attempt to overcome institutional and deadly political obstacles in their fight for freedom as seen through the eyes of his children, Zahra and Nargis and wife, Fatima. A fight for freedom that they have to win.
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for No Borders
BERLIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2019
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury – Special Mention
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“Modest but full of urgency, MIDNIGHT TRAVELER uses the power of smart phones to reveal a migrant family’s search for a safe haven. Gretchen Jude’s percussive, electronic score helps hold it all together. [The film] stands as a family’s joint testimony, heartfelt and heartbreaking, particular yet hauntingly representative.” – Caryn James, The Hollywood Reporter
“Has a home-movie quality that’s enormously effective in putting a human face on a global crisis.” – Scott Tobias, Variety
“What makes [the film] so moving, though, is the portrait that Fazili and Hussaini paint of both themselves as full, ungainly people, with flaws and hopes and perfections and their daughters who, in a way, are the stars [of the movie]. A languid, poetic film. [The parents] meditate on family, fear, equality, Islam, and the banality of everyday life. Throughout, though, it is hard not to forget that MIDNIGHT TRAVELER is a film of life or death which the score constantly reminds, and which infuses tensions into the narrative’s nooks and crannies.” – Gary Garrison, The Playlist
“A remarkable achievement…an affecting, essential documentary. The suffering, fear and humiliation that they experience is balanced by moments of warmth and an artist’s magpie eye for unexpected glimpses of beauty…While there have been numerous documentaries which deal with the plight of asylum seekers, there have been few which have shown, with this level of intimacy, the journey of a family from certain danger to an uncertain fate. It’s a film which deserves to be as widely seen as possible.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International
AMERICAN FACTORY tells the story of a Chinese billionaire opening a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant in Dayton, Ohio, hiring 2,000 blue-collar Americans still recovering from the effects of the 2008 recession. Working side-by-side with experienced Chinese workers, the locals are optimistic about the future for the first time in almost a decade. But early days of hope give way to setbacks as high-tech China collides with working-class America, and issues of language and culture become seemingly insurmountable walls between clashing factions. AMERICAN FACTORY, the new film from Academy Award®-nominated directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, documents the revitalization of one long-shuttered factory while providing a startling glimpse into a global economic realignment now playing out in towns and cities across the country — and around the world. Granted generous access to the factory, and with the in-depth participation of its employees, Bognar, Reichert and their team spent three years following Fuyao Glass America’s launch of a state-of- the-art glassmaking facility employing hundreds of Chinese and thousands of Midwestern workers in the American heartland. Capturing surprisingly candid moments of people ranging from the visionary billionaire who financed the enterprise to American and Chinese workers on the factory line, AMERICAN FACTORYpresents a microcosmic view of a global phenomenon that could represent a new normal for the American working class. Co-directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert join us for a lively conversation on the challenges of telling a multifaceted of people desperate for a new beginning working for an employer who sees the workplace from a point of view rooted in a culture a half a world away.
About the Filmmakers:STEVEN BOGNAR & JULIA REICHERT (Directors, Producers) are Oscar®-nominated documentary filmmakers whose work has screened at Sundance, Telluride, SXSW and other major festivals, as well as on HBO and PBS. Their film A Lion in the House, a co-production with ITVS, premiered at Sundance, screened on the PBS series “Independent Lens” and won a Primetime Emmy®. Their film The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant premiered at the 2009 Telluride Film Festival, screened on HBO, and was nominated for an Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short in 2010. Their films have, for the most part, told stories of rank-and-file citizens grappling with questions of agency and how to have a decent life. Julia Reichert’s work, in particular, spanning 50 years of filmmaking, has a through-line of concern for working-class and women’s stories. Julia Reichert was also Oscar®-nominated for her documentary feature films Union Maids (1977) and Seeing Red: Stories of American Communists (1983). Her first film, Growing Up Female, was selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. She is the 2018 recipient of the IDA Career Achievement Award. Bognar’s films Personal Belongings, Picture Day and Gravel all premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
WINNER – Best Director – 2019 Sundance Film Festival – U.S. Documentary Competition
OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2019 True/False Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2019 Tribeca Film Festival –
Opening Night, Critics’ Week
OFFICIAL SELECTION – 2019 Full Frame Film Festival
95% on Rotten Tomatoes
“FASCINATING.A sprawling cinema-verite account, it examines the real tensions of international businesses in human terms.”– Eric Kohn, Indiewire
“INTIMATE AND EPIC.30 years after Roger And Me, a similarly vital story updated and made relevant for our globalised age.”– Anthony Kaufman, Screen
“Of all the documentaries you see this year, this one most potently embodies the ever-changing sense of the words “Made in America.” – Peter Debruge, Variety
“American Factory demands comparison to Barbara Kopple’s Oscar-winning masterpiece American Dream with its frank and laudably objective portrait of the USA’s working class and its struggle for prosperity.” – Pat Mullen, POV Magazine
FOR SAMA is both an intimate and epic journey into the female experience of war. A love letter from a young mother to her daughter, the film tells the story of Waad al-Kateab’s life through five years of the uprising in Aleppo, Syria as she falls in love, gets married and gives birth to Sama, all while cataclysmic conflict rises around her. Her camera captures incredible stories of loss, laughter and survival as Waad wrestles with an impossible choice– whether or not to flee the city to protect her daughter’s life, when leaving means abandoning the struggle for freedom for which she has already sacrificed so much. FOR SAMA took home the Best Documentary Award at this year’s 2019 Cannes Film Festival, FOR SAMA had its world premiere at SXSW Film Festival where it won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award for Best Documentary. Since then, it continues to gather more awards every time it screens. The growing awards list includes the aforementioned SXSW; Cannes Film Festival; and Sheffield Doc/Fest;Telluride MountainFilm; Nantucket Film Festival; River Run; LA Asian Pacific Film Festival; Hot Docs; and Newport Beach Film Festival. Co-directors Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts join us for a conversation on the courage to document the unimaginable horror of a brutal regime and what it means to believe in something so deeply that you are willing to risk everything for it.
WINNER – Best Documentary – 2019 Cannes Film Festival
WINNER – Documentary Grand Jury Prize – 2019 SXSW Film Festival
WINNER – Audience Award – 2019 SXSW Film Festival
WINNER – Jury Prize – 2019 HotDocs Film Festival
WINNER – Grand Jury Award – International Docu – 35th LA Asian Pacific Film Festival
WINNER – Indomitable Spirit Award – 2019 MountainFilm
WINNER – Special Jury Mention – 2019 Sheffield Doc/Fest
WINNER – Audience Award – 2019 Sheffield Doc/Fest
WINNER – Best Documentary Jury Prize – 2019 Newport Beach Film Festival
WINNER – Audience Award – 2019 Nantucket Film Festival
WINNER – Best Cinematography – 2019 RiverRun Film Festival
“Simple in concept and shattering in execution, blending hard-headed reportage with unguarded personal testimony, it’s you-are-there cinema of the most literal order.” – Guy Lodge, Variety
“For Sama is undoubtedly difficult to watch, but you cannot close your eyes when watching such an urgent film. An endlessly powerful and absolutely essential work, it’s a must-see when it is released this autumn.” – Musanna Ahmed, Film Inquiry
“If not turning away is how we must confront the violence, inhumanity and senselessness of war, this brutal, heart-wrenching film is essential viewing.” – Loren King, AWFJ Women on Film
“For Sama is an astonishing achievement. A moving memorial to all who died in the pursuit of freedom.” – Rob Aldam, Backseat Mafia
Big Data has surpassed oil as the world’s most valuable asset. It’s being weaponized to wage cultural and political warfare. People everywhere are in a battle for control of our most intimate personal details.From award-winning filmmakers Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim, THE GREAT HACK uncovers the dark world of data exploitation with astounding access to the personal journeys of key players on different sides of the explosive Cambridge Analytica/Facebook data scandal.Academy-Award nominees Amer and Noujaim (The Square, Control Room, Startup .com) continue their tradition of exploring the seismic ripples of social media with this riveting, complex film. THE GREAT HACKforces us to question the origin of the information we consume daily. What do we give up when we tap that phone or keyboard and share ourselves in the digital age?THE GREAT HACK is co-directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim, with a production team led by Geralyn Dreyfous, Judy Korin and Pedro Kos. Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim join us to talk about Big Data, the expectation of privacy and where we go from here.
“You leave with a clear sense of how one company [sold] democracy down the river, not to mention having your fingernails chewed down to the quick.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone
“A thrilling yarn of political espionage and fascinating characters… However, this isn’t hollow entertainment. The film insists upon the gravity of the situation, toggling effortlessly between the micro and the macro lens on this tale.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
“[A] gripping, challenging documentary by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim, about the biggest scandal of our time: the gigantic question mark over the legality of the Brexit vote.” – Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
“Pondering individual data rights and the sinister side of widespread connectivity, co-directors Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer diligently inspect how our innocent likes and shares became the building blocks of Brexit and Trump.” – Tomris Laffly, Time Out
A looming disaster in one of the most spectacular environments on Earth sparks a rescue mission unlike any other in SEA OF SHADOWS, a riveting new documentary with the intensity of a Hollywood thriller from National Geographic Documentary Films and winner of the Sundance audience award. When Mexican drug cartels and Chinese traffickers join forces to poach the rare totoaba fish in the Sea of Cortez, their deadly methods threaten to destroy virtually all marine life in the region, including the most elusive and endangered whale species on Earth, the vaquita porpoise.SEA OF SHADOWS follows a team of dedicated scientists, high-tech conservationists, investigative journalists and courageous undercover agents as well as the Mexican Navy as they put their lives on the line to save the last remaining vaquitas and bring the vicious international crime syndicate to justice. Director Richard Ladkani (The Ivory Game, The Devil’s Miner) talks about the monumental challenge of saving a highly intelligent mammal from a desperately poor community who see the black market totoaba and the vaquita as a way to spare their family from a life of poverty and degradation.
“Sea of Shadows may still raise awareness about the plight of other sea creatures still under threat from illegal nets sweeping the bottom of the ocean, killing everything unfortunate enough to swim in its wake.” – Monica Castillo, Remezcla
BLUE NOTE RECORDS: BEYOND THE NOTES chronicles one of the most important record labels in the history of jazz — and, by extension, that of American music. Blue Note Records has been home to such groundbreaking artists as Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Bud Powell and Art Blakey, as well as present-day luminaries like Robert Glasper, Ambrose Akinmusire and Norah Jones. Founded in New York in 1939 by German Jewish refugees Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, the history of Blue Note Records goes beyond the landmark recordings, encompassing the pursuit of musical freedom, the conflict between art and commerce and the idea of music as a transformative and revolutionary force. Through rare archival footage, current recording sessions and conversations with jazz iconsHerbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and today’s groundbreaking Blue Note musicians, BLUE NOTE RECORDS: BEYOND THE NOTES reveals a powerful mission and illuminates the vital connections between jazz and hip hop. FilmmakerSophie Huber gained her filmmaking experience as a member of an award winning Berlin film collective. Huber’s debut feature documentary, the critically acclaimed HARRY DEAN STANTON: PARTLY FICTION, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2012. Director Sophie Huber joins us to talk about chronicling the lives and musical journey for many of the greatest artists of the 20th Century and the German Jewish refugees who provided them with a platform in her second remarkable feature documentary BLUE NOTE RECORD: BEYOND THE NOTES.
“Damn near immaculate music documentary” – Leslie Felperin, The Guardian
“Glorious and invaluable documentary by Sophie Huber of the ultimate jazz record label Blue Note Records.” – Dennis Dermody, Paper Magazine
“The 85-minute film is a jazz nerd’s dream… Jazz’s evolution into hip-hop is a major theme in Beyond the Notes, which is in some ways also a hip-hop documentary and a passing of the torch.” – Maiysha Kai, The Root
“Jazz lovers will go ape over Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes… For jazz lovers worldwide, this Swiss doc is heaven-sent and heaven itself.” – Doris Toumarkine, The Film Journal
“Seductive and invigorating… taking the viewer beyond the music to immerse them in the talent, drive and sense of heritage that continue to propel the distinct mission …” – Jason Wood, Wire Magazine
“It’s about music, yes, but the label and this film concern more: Life-lessons, collaboration, open-minded attitudes and the value of submitting to the now.” – Brad Wheeler, Globe and Mail
“A must-see if you love John Coltrane … or Kendrick Lamar… And especially if you think jazz is dead.” – Pamela Espeland, Minnpost, Sound Unseen Review
THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY is a cautionary tale for these times of democracy in crisis, the personal and political fuse to explore one of the most dramatic periods in Brazilian history. THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY captures thepersonal journey of filmmaker Petra Costa (ELENA, Olma and the Seagull) into politics watching her country fall into disarray, echoing the undoing of so many democracies around the world. Combining unprecedented access to leaders past and present, including Presidents Dilma Rousseff and Lula da Silva, Costa witnesses their rise and fall and the tragically polarized nation that remains. Through the stories of her mother and father, Costa documents the rebirth of a democratized Brazil following years of authoritarian rule under a military dictatorship. She traces the impeachment of Rousseff, the imprisonment of de Silva, and the rise of the far right. Was Brazil’s democracy a short-lived dream? Merging the personal and the political, Costa delves to the heart of her country’s unfolding identity crisis, examining widespread institutional corruption while connecting her own family’s complex past to Brazil’s current crisis. Capturing a unique historical moment, A NETFLIX original documentary production, THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY examines the forces at play in the global erosion of democracy. Director Petra Costa joins us for a conversation about Brazil’s past, present and future and how the political trajectory of her beloved country is increasingly relevant to our own.
“Directed by Petra Costa, this completely fascinating documentary provides an unexpectedly compelling inside look at the political earthquakes that have been roiling Brazil for several years.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“A dense, complex undertaking Costa impressively wraps her arms – and our minds – around, made even more daunting by the dual purpose “The Edge of Democracy” serves as both an immediate witness to an extraordinarily precarious historical moment.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest
THERIVER AND THE WALLfollows five friends on an immersive adventure through the unknown wilds of the Texas borderlands as they travel from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on horses, mountain bikes, and canoes. Conservation filmmaker Ben Masters realizes the urgency of documenting the last remaining wilderness in Texas as the threat of new border wall construction looms ahead. Masters recruits NatGeo Explorer Filipe DeAndrade, ornithologist Heather Mackey, river guide Austin Alvarado, and conservationist Jay Kleberg to join him on the two-and-a-half-month journey down 1,200 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. They set out to document the borderlands and explore the potential impacts of a border wall on the natural environment, but as the wilderness gives way to the more populated and heavily trafficked Lower Rio Grande Valley, they come face-to-face with the human side of the immigration debate and enter uncharted emotional waters. Ben Masters is best known for his UNBRANDED, a feature documentary on Netflix, in which he and three friends adopted 16 wild mustangs, trained them, and rode 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada to inspire wild horse adoptions. Director Ben Masters join us to talk about the spectacular natural beauty of the Rio Grande Valley, the people who live along the Mexico – American border and the on-the-ground reality of a border wall.
Fueled by an incendiary performance by Elisabeth Moss,HER SMELLfollows Becky Something (Moss) is a ’90s punk rock superstar who once filled arenas with her grungy all-female trio Something She. Now she plays smaller venues while grappling with motherhood, exhausted band mates, nervous record company executives, and a new generation of rising talent eager to usurp her stardom. When Becky’s chaos and excesses derail a recording session and national tour, she finds herself shunned, isolated and alone. Forced to get sober, temper her demons, and reckon with the past, she retreats from the spotlight and tries to recapture the creative inspiration that led her band to success. Anchored by a towering, unflinching performance from Golden Globe and Emmy winner Moss, and supported by a stellar ensemble cast, HER SMELL examines the grit, grace and gravitas of an unforgettable fictional rock star crashing down to earth into the harsh realities of mid-life. With his deeply humane sixth feature, writer- director Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip, Golden Exits) pumps up the volume and shines a light on the terrifying moment when superstardom wanes — and quiet becomes the new loud. Alex Ross Perry joins us for a lively conversation on the film’s fascinating shooting schedule, collaborating with cinematographer Sean Price Williams and working with a remarkable cast of actors.
“Elisabeth Moss turns in a five-alarm blaze of a performance as a frontwoman who makes Courtney Love look like Mother Teresa.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
“Moss varies the volume and the tempo of her performance, calling forth cascades of profane invention and rills of whispery poetry, but she always stays in the same key, the key of Becky.” – A.O. Scott, New York Times
“Formally audacious and ferociously intelligent, Her Smell is Perry’s greatest achievement yet, a wild saga of prestige and madness that is ultimately rooted in the female bonds keeping women sane.” – Natalia Winkelman, The Daily Beast
“Over and above the furious-and ultimately painfully tender-drama, Perry achieves something of a new, grand version of his own cinematic music.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker
SHARKWATER EXTINCTION is a thrilling and inspiring action packed journey that follows filmmaker Rob Stewart (Sharkwater, Revolution) as he exposes the massive illegal shark fin industry and the political corruption behind it – a conspiracy that is leading to the extinction of sharks. From West Africa, Spain, Panama, Costa Rica, France, and even in our own backyard, Stewart’s third film dives into the often violent underworld of the pirate fishing trade to expose a multi-billion dollar industry. Shark finning is still rampant, shark fin soup is still being consumed on an enormous scale, and endangered sharks are now also being used to make products for human consumption. Stewart’s mission is to save the sharks and oceans before it’s too late. SHARKWATER EXTINCTION exposes the illegal activities isn’t easy; protecting sharks has earned him some powerful enemies. Friend colleague and founder of SeaChange Agency Brock Cahill joins us to talk about working with director and sea mammal advocate Rob Stewart, the popular misconceptions about sharks and the challenge to stop the unwarranted slaughter of 150 million sharks every year by a clandestine world-wide cabal.
“Stewart… reveals a cruel market in which tens of millions of sharks are caught every year, their fins cut off and their bodies thrown back in the water to die.” – Glenn Kenny, New York Times
“Stewart’s third film is also his best… with scenes of marine genocide that should make us all weep tears of rage.” – Peter Howell, Toronto Star
“Rob Stewart literally gave his life for Sharkwater Extinction. From the beginning, you see his passion for sharks and his dedication to saving them.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat
“An alarming, illuminating and emotionally gripping exposé. Forget about Captain Marvel and watch this powerful doc about the quest of a real-life hero, Rob Stewart, instead.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
Close, an adrenaline-pumping action thriller written and directed by Vicky Jewson (Born of War), is inspired by the life of the world’s leading female bodyguard, Jacquie Davis. The film stars Noomi Rapace as Sam. Sam is the world’s toughest female bodyguard, tasked with protecting high profile targets for terrorism and assassination. She fought her way to the top in a man’s world and feels more at home in the war zones of Sudan than back at her L.A. apartment. When she’s assigned to protect a VIP in Morocco, she thinks she’s in for a quick and easy job. That VIP turns out to be Zoe (Sophie Nélisse), a young and very rich heiress who’s never left her bubble of wealth and who isn’t keen on being baby sat. Sam can take a bullet for a president, but young privileged girls aren’t her specialty — especially a spoiled one. When Zoe’s bulletproof, secluded compound comes under attack in an explosive kidnapping attempt, Sam’s skills are put to the test. Accused of murder themselves, they must find a way to work together, determined to and hunt the attackers and their corrupt employers. Director Vicky Jewson joins us to talk about meeting Jacquie Davis and the impact it had on her decision to tell her story and the significance of her place in a world dominated by men.
A Netflix original documentary, Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalskitakes us inside the mind of one of the last century’s great characters, offering a startling look at how history can stand in the way of true artistic genius in one generation while stepping aside to reveal it dramatically in the next. In 1968, pop culture collector Glenn Bray, who had an interest in surrealist art, happened upon an unusual book featuring the art of Stanislav Szukalski. Like most people, Bray had never heard of Szukalski, but he delighted in showing the book of drawings and photos of sculptures to his circle of friends in the underground art comic world, including Robert and Suzanne Williams and George DiCaprio, who found the forgotten Polish master’s vision far ahead of its time. It was a few years later when Bray noticed an unusual poster depicting Copernicus on the wall of a small bookstore in Tarzana – something he immediately recognized as the work of Szukalski. The bookseller informed him that the artist himself had given the poster as a gift – in fact, he lived nearby. Bray couldn’t believe it – this long-forgotten genius was still alive, and in the same area code. Featuring archival footage and dozens of interviews with Szukalski himself, Struggle: The Life and Lost Art of Szukalski offers a startling look at how history can stand in the way of artistic genius in one generation while stepping aside to reveal it dramatically in the next. Director Irek Dobrowolski and Producer Stephen Cooper join us to talk about an incredible artist and incredibly complex, nearly forgotten “genius” who remained true to his inner demons.
SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY is a solo acoustic performance written and performed by Tony Award, Academy Award, and 20-time Grammy Award winner Bruce Springsteen. Based on his worldwide best-selling autobiography Born to Run and nothing short of the theater event of the year, SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY is a unique evening with Bruce, his guitar, a piano, and own stories—including a special appearance by Patti Scialfa. The intimate performance features personal anecdotes and songs including “Born to Run,” “Thunder Road” and “Brilliant Disguise.”SPRINGSTEEN ON BROADWAY was filmed live for Netflix at Jujamcyn’s Walter Kerr Theatre and directed and produced by Emmy Award-winner Thom Zimny (“Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Live in New York City (2001)”). In addition to Zimny, the Netflix original special is produced by the same team that produced “Springsteen On Broadway,” including Springsteen manager Jon Landau, Springsteen tour director George Travis, and Landau Management partner Barbara Carr. DirectorThom Zimny joins us for a conversation on his working relationship with one of the singular musical artist in recording history and the challenge of capturing the intimacy of a live, Broadway experience.
“Springsteen has mastered the dynamics needed to keep a mostly talking, partly singing show riveting for a running time that’s epic by monologists’ standards, if not his own.” – Chris Willman, Variety
“For nearly three hours, Springsteen jokes, rails, wails, and yes, plays his heart out, providing an achingly raw, often disarmingly honest breakdown of his life.” – Chris Evangelista, Slashfilm
“Not only does “Springsteen on Broadway” work on its own as a Netflix special, it gives you all the same feels seeing the show live at the Walter Kerr Theater brought out.” – Joey Madison, AwarsCircuit.com
AVICII: TRUE STORIES, a compelling new documentary film by Levan Tsikurishvili, reveals the unvarnished truth behind the success of Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter and artist Avicii (A.K.A. Tim Bergling). One of the world’s highest grossing live music artists whose seemingly sudden decision last year to quit doing live shows came as a complete shock to his fans and the industry. The film traces the artist/DJ’s life from his beginnings, all the way to the joy of his success, from his chart-topping global radio hits and subsequent struggles with his physical and mental health. Tsikurishvili followed Bergling for over four years, and captured fly-on-the-wall footage of his experiences and thinking. Featuring appearances by colleagues such as Chris Martin, Nile Rodgers, David Guetta, Tiësto and Wyclef Jean, AVICII: TRUE STORIES is a cautionary tale that explores the taxing nature and intensity of fame from the artist’s point of view as much as it is a film for Avicii’s die-hard fans.
I wanted to do a brutally honest film about Tim as a person and not only about Avicii. Everybody knows Avicii but very few people know Tim. I think this documentary really shows Tim’s struggle and strength of character. Being a worldwide superstar artist is not as easy as it looks on Instagram. – Director Levan Tsikurishvili
An inspired labor of love for zine-making (Exploding Cat) teens Sandi Tan, Jasmine Ng and Sophie Siddique, Shirkers was a Singapore-made 1992 cult classic—or it would have been, had the 16mm footage not been stolen by their enigmatic American collaborator Georges Cardona, who disappeared. More than two decades later, Tan, now a novelist in L.A., returns to the country of her youth and to the memories of a man who both enabled and thwarted her dreams. Magically, too, she returns to the film itself, revived in a way she never could have imagined. Shirkersmade its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018, where Sandi Tan received the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award, and went on to tour festivals all over the world, including True/False, HotDocs, CPHDOX, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Full Frame, San Francisco Intl. Film Festival, AFI Docs and more. Director Sandi Tan talks about her 25-year relationship with her friends, then and now, Exploding Cat and her thoughts on losing and then rediscovering a crucial part of her life.
“Wildly delightful… teeming with incident and personality… No amount of caustic self-criticism from Tan can dampen the thrill of witnessing the vibrancy and bounteous energy of everything captured within the frame.” – Eric Hynes, Film Comment
“Shirkers has the handmade delicacy of a scrapbook come to life… [Sandi Tan] has produced a remarkable statement on the formation of a creative identity across many years and life experiences.” – Eric Kohn, Indiewire
The informative and heartwarming new documentary film, Weed the People examines why marijuana / cannabis has been off-limits to America’s doctors and researchers for the past 80 years, despite decades of science from on the plants anti-cancer properties. Armed with only these laboratory studies, desperate parents obtain cannabis oil from underground sources to save their children from childhood cancers. “Weed the People” follows these families through uncharted waters as they take their children’s survival into their own hands. Some of their miraculous outcomes beget the unsettling question at the heart of the film: If weed is truly saving lives, why doesn’t the government want people to access it? Abby Epstein has been producing and directing documentaries for over ten years with her partner, Ricki Lake. Their first collaboration was the celebrated feature documentary The Business of Being Born, which premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. The Businessof Being Born enjoyed a successful theatrical release and had its broadcast premiere on Showtime. Director Abby Epstein talks about the racist, xenophobic history of marijuana in America, the draconian laws and the federal government’s resistance to allowing medical research, despite holding a number of marijuana patents and the courageous journey of parents trying to save the lives of their cancer stricken children.
“Though the film seems pretty thoroughly convinced on this topic, its main argument should ring true even for skeptics: We won’t know the answers if, thanks to the drug’s Schedule I status in the US, scientists remain unable to study its effects.” – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter
“Weed the People is one part didactic, one part polemic, and one part human story. The documentary methodically alternates among these three, ultimately landing a compelling, if at times sentimental and anecdotal argument.” – Natalia Winkelman, Film Threat
“Passionate, fact-based arguments back up this brilliant re-branding of the “legalize weed” debate.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“An inspirational documentary that gives the 411 on using 420 to treat children with cancer.” – Gary M. Kramer, Film Journal International
The International Documentary Association (IDA) is dedicated to building and serving the needs of a thriving documentary culture. Through its programs, the IDA provides resources, creates community, and defends rights and freedoms for documentary artists, activists, and journalists. IDA is the only group advocating specifically for the documentary filmmaking community. In many ways, this makes IDA’s advocacy work the most important and relevant work we do. Documentary storytelling expands our understanding of shared human experience, fostering an informed, compassionate, and connected world. The Enterprise Documentary Fund is one of the many logistical and financial programs offered by IDA.
About the Enterprise Documentary Fund:
“In the face of an all-out assault on the press, IDA is committed to standing behind the independent storytellers and watchdogs that make up our community—in large part, through the newly created Enterprise Documentary Fund. Made possible by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the fund will disburse $1 million per year for the next four years, in the form of production grants up to $100,000 and development grants up to $15,000. The fund is intended to support primarily mid-career filmmakers producing feature-length, in-depth explorations of original, contemporary stories with a journalistic foundation or that incorporate journalistic practice into the filmmaking process. The mission of the Enterprise Documentary Fund is admittedly ambitious: It seeks to provide valuable resources and support systems (not unlike those in newsrooms) for filmmakers taking on the critical stories of our time. Originally sparked by the findings in “Dangerous Documentaries,” the fund is a response to pleas from filmmakers themselves. In interviews recently conducted by Toni Bell, IDA’s Filmmaker Services Manager, filmmakers reiterated the major findings in “Dangerous Docs”: They want access to information about digital and physical security, research databases, legal and other experts, public relations strategists and mentors. Exercising our rights to free speech and freedom of the press are critical for a healthy democracy. As I write this, these rights are clearly under assault, and we owe it to ourselves and to the public to staunchly call ourselves journalists and artists—they are not mutually exclusive.” – Carrie Lozano, Director of the Enterprise Documentary Fund
Forty-five years after it revolutionized abortion law in America, the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade is once again at a crossroads. In their timely new documentary REVERSING ROE, filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg (THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK, MARATHON: THE PATRIOT’S DAY BOMBING) present a deeply illuminating look of the state of abortion and women’s rights in America. The film offers candid and riveting interviews with key figures from both sides of the divide, among them doctors Colleen McNicholas and Curtis Boyd; feminist icon Gloria Steinem; Operation Rescue president Troy Newman; and National Right to Life president Carol Tobias.Intense and unflinching in its commitment to telling the whole story, REVERSING ROE provides a gripping look at what’s happening on the ground in 2018. Drawing from a wealth of historical footage, it charts the period leading up to the Roe decision-and documents the opposition that has followed ever since.Regardless of where you stand on the issue of abortion, REVERSING ROE is essential viewing to understand how the country got here-and where it may be going. Co-directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg join us for an informed conversation on the long history and politics swirling around one of the country’s most divisive issues.
“As contentiousness turned into real-world consequences, “Reversing Roe” reminds us that the more women get involved regarding their rights, the more likely we’re to see a fair, principled fight.” – Robert Abele, Los Times
“Nothing new here but a good primer for those who never thought that politics has anything to do with their lives.” – Harvey S. Karten, Big Apple Reviews
“Solid and valuable but familiar.” – Caryn James, Hollywood Reporter
“Provides a clear and accessible overview of more than 50 years of the social and legal history of the issue in the United States.” – Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times
City of Joy follows the first class of students at a remarkable leadership center in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a region often referred to as “the worst place in the world to be a woman.” These women have been through unspeakable violence spurred on by a 20 year war driven by colonialism and greed. In the film, they band together with the three founders of this center: Dr. Denis Mukwege (2016 Nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize), radical playwright and activist Eve Ensler (“The Vagina Monolgoues”) and human rights activist, Christine Schuler-Deschryver, to find a way to create meaning in their lives even when all that was meaningful to them has long been stripped away. In this ultimately uplifting film, we witness the tremendous resilience as these women transform their devastation into powerful forms of leadership for their beloved country. Director, writer and editor Madeleine Gavin stops by to talk about this beautifully told story of unspeakable cruelty, remarkable resilience and unconditional love in a desperately poor country in a region of the world renown for violence.
“City Of Joy is, in as far as it goes, a powerful film, reminding viewers that survival itself is something to be proud of and consigning the notion that a raped woman is ruined forever to the dustbin of history.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
Netflix newest series Dark Tourist is the latest project of New Zealand journalist / filmmaker David Farrier, (Tickled), the doc that uncovered an unbelievable tickle fetish empire. In the new NETFLIX series, Farrier travels around the world trying to find the most dangerous and scariest experiences available to tourists. In the show we see a wounded Farrier going into an eerie hospital, being at the center of a war zone, a man breaking a statue on his own head, a killer named Popeye holding the gun at someone, and a woman telling Farrier to stay back because she doesn’t want him to be “possessed.” In one Los Angeles based episode Farrier is warned that he’ll be hurt, drowned, and buried. And yet nothing seems to deter this intrepid thrill seeker. Dark Tourist Director and creator David Farrier joins us to talk about the where, why and WTF of his newest adventure.