Through shard-like glimpses of everyday life in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico, LANDFALLis a cautionary tale for our times. Set against the backdrop of protests that toppled the The United States colony’s governor in 2019, the film offers a prismatic portrait of collective trauma and resistance. While the devastation of María attracted a great deal of media coverage, the world has paid far less attention to the storm that preceded it: a 72-billion-dollar debt crisis crippling Puerto Rico well before the winds and waters hit. LANDFALL examines the kinship of these two storms-one environmental, the other economic-juxtaposing competing utopian visions of recovery. LANDFALL explores the intertwining legacies of colonialism, exploitative industries and disaster capitalism and the barriers to recovery they create. As opportunists looking to make a profit descend upon the island, the Puerto Rican diaspora comes together to create unprecedented forms of community-led mutual aid when assistance from the federal government and traditional NGOs fails to appear.LANDFALL features intimate encounters with Puerto Ricans as well as the newcomers flooding the island, LANDFALL reflects on a question of contemporary global relevance: when the world falls apart, who do we become? Director Cecilia Aldarondo joins us for frank conversation on US colonialism, Puerto Rico as a laboratory for social experimentation and the crypto-libertarian grifters peddling economic fairy-tales about freedom and financial independence.
Director’s Statement – As a Puerto Rican from the diaspora, I watched Hurricane María unfold from afar while cut off from loved ones, including my grandmother who would die six months after the storm. Reeling from the debt crisis, which unleashed a wave of austerity, poverty and migration that María only intensified, the Puerto Rico depicted in Landfall is a laboratory for greed, privatization, gentrification, the dismantling of social services, and the devastating effects of climate change. We may have a new President and Puerto Rico a new governor, but little has changed since María hit, as evidenced by the recent privatization of Puerto Rico’s electric grid. The Puerto Rican people are still fighting to end the profit-driven policies that have proved disastrous ever since President Obama signed them into existence. In Landfall I wanted to balance a cautionary tale for our times, while also prioritizing a dignified image of Puerto Ricans who have banded together to fight for their sovereignty. – Cecilia Aldarondo
“An impressive, impressionistic and intimate overview of the unhappy “Island of Enchantment” as it stands today, years after Hurricane Maria hit.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“Cecilia Aldarondo’s intelligent, insightful documentary captures how a natural disaster served to expose the man-made troubles that have blighted the island down the centuries.” – Allan Hunter, Screen International
“Impressionistic rather than explanatory, Landfall seldom spells out the complex set of issues still afflicting an island long beset by “the colonial disease.” But it still makes a powerful statement…” – Dennis Harvey, 48 Hills
In December 2015, the New Orleans City Council voted to remove four Confederate monuments from public grounds. A forceful group of critics protested the decision, and fearing retaliation, no work crew would agree to remove the statues. For comedian and Daily Show with Trevor Noah producer and writer CJ Hunt, these protestors’ fanatical loyalty to the losing side of a 160 year-old war seemed like ideal material for a short, satirical internet video. But as he filmed the conflict surrounding the monuments, a bigger story began to reveal itself. THE NEUTRAL GROUND confronts the Lost Cause—the Southern campaign that mythified the Confederacy—with refreshing clarity.With New Orleans as the main backdrop of the story, the film expands its scope to the country at large, bringing to light the fabricated histories born out of the Civil War and the hard truths much of America has yet to face about slavery. Throughout, Hunt’s radical openness leads to staggering, often personal conversations with advocates and opponents of Confederate monuments alike. Turning a sharp eye to the tangled thread between past and present, THE NEUTRAL GROUND targets necessary change centuries in the making that might—finally—be catching up to itself. Director / screenwriter and subject joins us for a candid conversation on America’s implacable racism, latent white violence towards historic truths about slavery, the urgent need to respond to blatant hatred, and The Neutral Ground’s premiere at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival.
About the filmmaker – A comedian and filmmaker living in NYC, CJ is currently a field producer on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. He has also served as a staff writer for A&E’s Black and White, and afield producer for BET’s The Rundown with Robin Thede. Before working in late night, CJ spent nine years living in New Orleans where – in 2015 – he began filming what he thought would be a quick and easy confederate monument removal. CJ is an alumnus of Firelight Media’s Doc Lab and New Orleans Film Festival’s Emerging Voices program. He is also a 2020 New America Fellow and a regular host of The Moth. A graduate from Brown University’s Africana Studies department, CJ is endlessly fascinated by race and comedy’s ability to say what we can’t.
When you look at Kenny Scharf’s surreal, colorful, pop-culture inspired art you can’t help but wonder where he gets his inspiration. This documentary about Scharf’s fascinating life—made over 11 years by the artist’s daughter, Malia Scharf, and Max Basch—answers that question. This fascinating documentary shows Scharf’s New York City arrival in the early 1980s where he quickly befriended Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.This trio, amongst the fervent creative bustle of a depressed downtown scene, would soon take the art world by storm.Featuring interviews and rare archival footage with the artist himself along with Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Ed Ruscha, Dennis Hopper and Yoko Ono, the film shows Scharf’s arrival in New York City in the early 1980s, where he quickly befriended Keith Haring and Jean Michel Basquiat. There, amongst the fervent creative bustle of a depressed downtown scene, the trio would soon take the art world by storm. But unlike Haring and Basquiat, who both died tragically young, Scharf lived through cataclysmic shifts in the East Village as well as the ravages of AIDS and economic depression. Decades later, still obsessed with garbage, cartoons and plastic, and committed to the idea that art should be fun, Scharf’s whimsical mind continues to generate works rife with iconic images and bizarre forms. Co-directors Malia Scharf and Max Basch join us for a conversation on the New York City in the 1980s, why so many artists from multiple disciplines seized the opportunity to make art amidst the rumble of the Downtown, and the re-evaluation of Kenny Scharf’s prodigious technicolor artistic vision.
“A compelling and informative introduction to the life and work of Kenny Scharf. His perseverance, passion for art as well as for his inner child are very palpable.” – Avi Offer, NYC Movie Guru
“I found it heart warming and endearing, especially because of his daughter’s direction of the film. If you are interested in the art of this period, I think you will love this documentary.” – Katrina Olson, katrinaolson.ca
:This is the harrowing, heartbreaking, ultimately affirming story of Kenny Scharf, and I urge you to see it.: – Norman Gidney, Film Threat
“Playfully deconstructs the life and times of a creator who tries to balance their childlike playfulness with the adult responsibilities of the real world.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate
In the late 1960s, in the aftermath of the Watts Uprising and against the backdrop of the continuing Civil Rights Movement and the escalating Vietnam War, a group of African and African-American students entered the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, as part of an Ethno-Communications initiative designed to be responsive to communities of color (also including Asian, Chicano and Native American communities). Now referred to as the “L.A. Rebellion,” these mostly unheralded artists created a unique cinematic landscape, as—over the course of two decades—students arrived, mentored one another and passed the torch to the next group. Beyond the films themselves, what makes the L.A. Rebellion movement a discovery worthy of a place in film history is the vitality of its filmmakers, their utopian vision of a better society, their sensitivity to children and gender issues, their willingness to question any and all received wisdom, their identification with the liberation movements in the Third World, and their expression of Black pride and dignity. As part of the 2021 TCM (Turner Classic Movies) Film Festival is spotlighting two of the L.A. Rebellion’s leading lights, Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry in the festival’s Special Collections section. Charles Burnett and Billy Woodberry join us for a conversation on their recollections the birth of the L.A. Rebellion and the inspiration for their life altering decision to become filmmakers.
About the filmmaker – Charles Burnett is a writer-director whose work has received extensive honors. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, his family soon moved to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Burnett studied creative writing at UCLA before entering the University’s graduate film program. His thesis project, Killer of Sheep (1977), won accolades at film festivals and a critical devotion; in 1990, it was among the first titles named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. European financing allowed Burnett to shoot his second feature, My Brother’s Wedding (1983), but a rushed debut prevented the filmmaker from completing his final cut until 2007. In 1988, Burnett was awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur (“genius grant”) Fellowship and shortly thereafter Burnett became the first African American recipient of the National Society of Film Critics’ best screenplay award, for To Sleep withAnger (1990). Burnett made the highly acclaimed “Nightjohn” in 1996 for the Disney Channel; his subsequent television works include “Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding” (1998), “Selma, Lord, Selma” (1999), an episode of the seven-part series “Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues” (2003) and “Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property” (2003), which was shown on the PBS series “Independent Lens.” Burnett has been awarded grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the J. P. Getty Foundation. In 2011, the Museum of Modern Art showcased his work with a month-long retrospective.
To Sleep with Anger – Writer and Director Charles Burnett – A slow-burning masterwork of the early 1990s, this third feature by Charles Burnett is a singular piece of American mythmaking. In a towering performance, Danny Glover plays the enigmatic southern drifter Harry, a devilish charmer who turns up out of the blue on the South Central Los Angeles doorstep of his old friends. In short order, Harry’s presence seems to cast a chaotic spell on what appeared to be a peaceful household, exposing smoldering tensions between parents and children, tradition and change, virtue and temptation. Interweaving evocative strains of gospel and blues with rich, poetic-realist images, To Sleep with Anger is a sublimely stirring film from an autonomous artistic sensibility, a portrait of family resilience steeped in the traditions of African American mysticism and folklore.
About the filmmaker – Billy Woodberry Born in Dallas in 1950, Billy Woodberry is one of the founders of the L.A. Rebellion film movement. His first feature film Bless Their Little Hearts (1983) is a pioneer and essential work of this movement, influenced by Italian neo-realism and the work of Third Cinema filmmakers. The film was awarded with an OCIC and Interfilm awards at the Berlin International Film Festival and was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 2013. His latest feature film And when I die, I won’t stay dead (2015) about the beat poet Bob Kaufman was the opening film of MoMA’s Doc Fortnight in 2016. Woodberry has appeared in Charles Burnett’s “When It Rains” (1995) and provided narration for Thom Andersen’s Red HOLLYWOOD” (1996) and James Benning’s “Four Corners”(1998). His work has been screened at Cannes and Berlin Film Festivals, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Harvard Film Archive, Camera Austria Symposium, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Tate Modern and Centre Pompidou. He received his MFA degree from UCLA in 1982 where he also taught at the School of Theater, Film and Television. Since 1989 Billy Woodberry is a faculty member of the School of Film/Video and the School of Art at the California Institute of the Arts.
Bless Their Little Hearts – Director / Producer / Editor Billy Woodberry – A key masterpiece of the L.A Rebellion, Bless Their Little Hearts distills the social concerns and aesthetics of that trailblazing movement in African American cinema. Billy Woodberry’s film showcases his attentive eye, sensitivity to the nuances of community and family, and the power of the blues. Searching for steady work, Charlie Banks (Nate Hardman) views his chronic unemployment as a kind of spiritual trial. But day work and selling a few catfish can’t sustain a family of five. While his wife, Andais (Kaycee Moore), works to support them with dignity, Charlie finds comfort for his wounded sense of manhood in an affair that threatens his marriage and family.At the heart of this devastatingly beautiful film is the couple’s agonizing confrontation – shot in one continuous ten-minute take – that ranks as “one of the great domestic cataclysms of modern movies.” (Richard Brody, The New Yorker) Named to the National Film Registry, Bless Their Little Hearts features contributions by two iconic American artists: Charles Burnett (Killer of Sheep, To Sleep With Anger), who wrote and shot the film, and Kaycee Moore (Daughters of the Dust), whose powerful performance as Andais Banks remains a revelation. Film restoration by Ross Lipman with Billy Woodberry at UCLA Film & Television Archive. 2K Digital restoration by Re-Kino, Warsaw. English captions and Spanish subtitles.
Turner Classic Movies (TCM)is a two-time Peabody Award-winning network that presents great films, uncut and commercial-free, from the largest film libraries in the world highlighting the entire spectrum of film history. TCM features the insights from Primetime host Ben Mankiewicz along with hosts Alicia Malone, Dave Karger, Jacqueline Stewart and Eddie Muller, plus interviews with a wide range of special guests and serves as the ultimate movie lover destination. With more than two decades as a leading authority in classic film, TCM offers critically acclaimed series like The Essentials, along with annual programming events like 31 Days of Oscar® and Summer Under the Stars. TCM also directly connects with movie fans through events such as the annual TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood, the TCM Big Screen Classics series in partnership with Fathom Events, as well as through the TCM Classic Film Tour in New York City and Los Angeles. In addition, TCM produces a wide range of media about classic film, including books and DVDs, and hosts a wealth of material online at tcm.com and through the Watch TCM mobile app. Fans can also enjoy a TCM curated classics experience on HBO Max.
PARIS CALLIGRAMMES is an epic self-portrait of Ulrike Ottinger, one of Germany’s most prominent contemporary avant-garde artists, known for her paintings, photographs, and, above all, her films. An impressive and extensive archive of sensorial memories, historical photographs, and documentary footage traces the early influences of Ottinger’s life in Paris in the 1960s. This was a time marked by her integration into the rich intellectual and cultural circles of the city, but also engagement in the political and social eruptions around the Algerian War and May 1968. These varied dimensions of her experience make PARIS CALLIGRAMMES an essential historical time capsule, beautifully interwoven with the most precious of memories and images. In a rich torrent of archival audio and visuals, paired with extracts from her own artworks and films, Ottinger resurrects the old Saint-Germaindes-Prés and Latin Quarter, with their literary cafés and jazz clubs, and revisits encounters with Jewish exiles, life with her artistic community, the world views of Parisian ethnologists and philosophers, the political upheavals of the Algerian War and May 1968, and the legacy of the colonial era. Director Ulrike Ottinger (Seven Women, Seven Sins, Ticket of No Return, Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia) joins us for a conversation on her life as young painter in Paris in the 1960s, and her personal memories of Parisian bohemianism and the serious social, political and cultural upheavals of the time into a cinematic “figure poem” (calligram) in “Paris Calligrammes”.
“In Paris Calligrammes, the artist Ulrike Ottinger casts a highly personal and subjective gaze back to the twentieth century. At the heart of her film is Paris: its protagonist is the city itself, its streets, neighborhoods, bookstores, cinemas, but also its artists, authors, and intellectuals. It is a place of magical appeal, an artistic biotope, but also a place where the demons of the twentieth century still confront us.” – Bernd Scherer
100% on Rotten Tomatoes
“One of the great works of first-person cinema. Ottinger’s personal and political masterwork. Extraordinary; a work of vital and energetic modernism.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker
“Enriching, stimulating; vital and contradictory. Captures the zeitgeist as experienced by a young woman eager to soak up the cultural riches around her, which she then distilled through her own sensibility to create paintings reflecting the era’s upheavals.” – Jay Weissberg, Variety
“Never a dull moment; the work of a consummate artist who understands the importance of the form matching the story.” – Kaleem Aftab, Cineuropa
“Her cinema is restless, Odyssean: full of stories of exile and adventure. [‘Paris Calligrammes’ is] an homage to the intellectual and artistic life of the city in the 1960s.” – Amy Sherlock, Frieze Magazine
Jeffrey Wolf’s illuminating documentary BILL TRAYLOR: CHASING GHOSTS explores the life of a unique American artist, a man with a remarkable and unlikely biography. Bill Traylor was born into slavery in 1853 on a cotton plantation in rural Alabama. After the Civil War, Traylor continued to farm the land as a sharecropper until the late 1920s. Aging and alone, he moved to Montgomery and worked odd jobs in the thriving segregated black neighborhood. A decade later, in his late 80s, Traylor became homeless and started to draw and paint, both memories from plantation days and scenes of a radically changing urban culture. Having witnessed profound social and political change during a life spanning slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation, and the Great Migration, Traylor devised his own visual language to translate an oral culture into something original, powerful, and culturally rooted. He made well over a thousand drawings and paintings between 1939-1942. This colorful, strikingly modernist work eventually led him to be recognized as one of America’s greatest self-taught artists and the subject of a Smithsonian retrospective. Using historical and cultural context, BILL TRAYLOR: CHASING GHOSTS brings the spirit and mystery of Traylor’s incomparable art to life. Making dramatic and surprising use of tap dance and evocative period music, the film balances archival photographs and footage, insightful perspectives from his descendents, and Traylor’s striking drawings and paintings to reveal one of America’s most prominent artists to a wide audience. Director Jeffrey Wolf (James Castle: Portrait of an Artist) and Producer Sam Pollard (Eyes on the Prize, MLK/FBI) join us for a conversation on the remarkable life and the unsettling times that infused the strikingly direct and unfettered work of a deeply intuitive artist.
Director’s Statement – My introduction to artist Bill Traylor came with the 1982 watershed exhibit “Black Folk Art in America” in DC. I had applied for a small grant to film the opening, and interview the featured living artists who attended. Traylor’s iconic art was used for the exhibit’s poster and still hangs in my office. Since encountering Bill Traylor’s art some 35 years ago, I have long contemplated his work, wanting to unravel and dig deeper into his world. Today, Bill Traylor is one of the most celebrated self-taught artists, with one of the most remarkable and unlikely biographies. Now, coming full circle, my documentary film Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts will premiere at the opening of a retrospective of his work at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, organized by Leslie Umberger, curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art. Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts strives to broaden our understanding of this period of transformation, a time when black people prospered as business professionals in Montgomery, in spite of living through the fear and volatility of Jim Crow South that impacted daily life. Traylor created his own visual language as a means to communicate and record the stories of his life. Traylor’s art is the sole body of work made by a black artist of his era to survive. He made well over a thousand drawings and paintings on discarded cardboard between 1939 and 1942. Bill Traylor did not begin to draw until he was an old man; and when he did, his burst of creativity demonstrated a unique mastery of artistic technique. Without setting out to do so, he became a chronicler of his times. – Jeffrey Wolf
“Critic’s Pick! A sincere, nourishing account of the artist. Wolf makes excellent use of photo and film archives, laying out the territory that fed Traylor’s vision.” – Glenn Kenny, The New York Times
“Brings the spirit and mystery of Traylor’s art to life and shines a spotlight on a creative gift that was long ignored and marginalized.” – Dave McNary, Variety
“Jeffrey Wolf’s exceptional documentary Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts seeks to tells its subject’s story in a deeply personal way, while also pulling back when needed to contextualize his work.” – G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle
“Speaks volumes on the life and times of the artist. The pieces themselves… lend those ghosts of his past a persistent, ethereal relevance.” – Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times
“A celebration of art and the best of humanity transcending poverty, racism and despair.”– Southern Poverty Law Center
“In Traylor, we can see the power of individual voice… the work is transcendent and essential.”– Jerry Saltz, New York Magazine
“An extraordinary artist… Traylor’s pictures stamp themselves on your eye and mind.”– Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker
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.
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 Lois 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.
“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
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.
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.
THROUGH THE NIGHT is a cinema vérité portrait of three working mothers whose lives intersect at Dee’s Tots Daycare in New Rochelle, NY: a mother working the overnight shift as a pediatric nurse; another holding down three low-wage jobs to support her two girls; and Deloris “Nunu” Hogan, who for over two decades has cared for the children of parents with nowhere else to turn. A tender portrait of titanic strength, love and selflessness, THROUGH THE NIGHT showcases the multiplicity of “women’s work” – paid, underpaid and unpaid; emotional and physical; domestic and career-oriented – all while negotiating the terms of a dignified existence under the three arrows of racism, sexism and capitalism in America. THROUGH THE NIGHT will open this Friday, December 11th at the Laemmle Virtual Cinema in addition to virtual cinemas around the country.Director Loira Limbal joins us for a conversation on the myriad of issues raised in this deceptively simple meditation of the why and how millions of hard working people in the home of the brave can do all the right things only to find themselves one random event away from the economic abyss that is modern American life.
About the filmmaker – Loira Limbal is an Afro-Dominican filmmaker and DJ based in the Bronx. She is the Senior Vice President of Programs at Firelight Media, an organization that provides mentorship, funding and industry access to emerging filmmakers of color. THROUGH THE NIGHT was an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca, AFI Docs, Camden, Hot Springs Documentary, Double Exposure and DOC NYC festivals. Her first film, ESTILO HIP HOP, aired on PBS in 2009. Loira is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a former Ford Foundation Justfilms/Rockwood Fellow. Additionally, she co-produces and helms the popular Brooklyn monthly #APartyCalledRosiePerez. Limbal received a B.A. in History from Brown University and is a graduate of the Third World Newsreel’s Film and Video Production Training Program. She is a Sundance Institute Fellow and a former Ford Foundation Justfilms/Rockwood Fellow.
“This quietly engaging documentary is also subtly political, showing with clear eyes how good people are trying to patch gaps in our society that shouldn’t be there in the the first place.” – Noel Murray, Los Angeles Times
“Through the Night is both celebration and indictment. A sympathetic depiction of “women’s work,” in all its unsung dignity, it’s also a quietly damning portrait of a merciless economy’s effect on working-class mothers… – Sheri Linden, Hollywood Reporter
“Without making it too obvious, Limbal’s documentary shines a light on the unspoken backbone of our economy. – Monica Castillo, Remezcla
‘”Through the Night” won me over though, not because director Loira Limbal has any illusions about objectivity, but because she prefers to step back and show the toll inequality takes on the very people our culture supposedly reveres most – families.” – Andrea Thompson, A Reel of One’s Own
Sarah Colt and Josh Gleason’s documentary THE DISRUPTED asked the question, what do a farmer in Kansas, a laid-off factory worker in Ohio, and an Uber driver in Florida have in common? All three are resourceful, positive thinkers who strive to adapt and thrive despite dehumanizing forces at play in the American economy. Donn is a fifth-generation farmer, struggling to hold on to 900 acres of land uncle made a full-time living raising crops and livestock. But in the last decade, corporate consolidation and free-falling commodity prices have made it impossible for small farms to achieve a profit.Cheryl didn’t plan on becoming a driver for Uber and Lyft. She spent years working her way up the ladder in the mortgage industry as a single mother raising hree kids. But her career came to an abrupt halt in 2008 when the crash bankrupted her employer.For Pete the closure of the 3M sponge factory, where Pete held a union job for 12 years, is the latest chapter in the city’s decades- long deindustrialization into the Rust Belt.As the film’s heroes face these roadblocks with courage, certain ideals remain sacred: family, love, and staying strong in the face of adversity. Lush cinematography galvanizes a sense of place and, as the narrative unfolds, the intimacy with the characters results in an emotionally rich observational drama. Ultimately, THE DISRUPTED reveals a collective American experience of financial challenge, family resilience, and the quest for the purpose and dignity of work. Co-director Sarah Colt (Josh Gleason) stops by to talk about the unraveling of the American Dream and the cruel trajectory of economic deprivation and the systemic failure of any feasible path forward.
About the filmmaker – Sarah Colt is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work brings to life the figures and forces that have shaped America. Since founding Sarah Colt Productions a decade ago, she has directed and produced numerous films for PBS, including the Emmy-nominated and Peabody finalist “Walt Disney.” Most recently, Sarah’s independent short documentary “True Believer” followed an evangelical pastor’s grassroots campaign for Congress. “True Believer” screened at several major film festivals across the country and had its online premiere on The Atlantic.
“Colt and Gleason interweave these stories with subtlety and irony, catching the nuanced details of their subjects’ lives and relationships, the cinematography evoking a mood of fading hope and dogged resistance.” – Boston Globe
“Eye-opening film about people being left behind in our current economy…theoretically the “forgotten men and women” Trump campaigned on. And in the ensuing years, not only have their lives not gotten better, they’ve gotten significantly worse.” – Film Week
“Arguably the most important film I’ve encountered in 2020 thus far.” – Mountain Express
“Squarely takes aim at the beleaguered middle class.” MODERN TIMES
DRIVING WHILE BLACK: RACE, SPACE AND MOBILITY IN AMERICA is a ground-breaking, two-hour documentary film by acclaimed historian Dr. Gretchen Sorin and Emmy–winning director Ric Burns. Chronicling the riveting history and personal experiences – at once liberating and challenging, harrowing and inspiring, deeply revealing and profoundly transforming – of African Americans on the road from the advent of the automobile through the seismic changes of the 1960s and beyond – DRIVING WHILE BLACK explores the deep background of a recent phrase rooted in realities that have been an indelible part of the African American experience for hundreds of years – told in large part through the stories of the men, women and children who lived through it. The documentary draws upon the wealth of recent scholarship – and based on and inspired in large part by Gretchen Sorin’s recently published study of the way the automobile and highways transformed African American life across the 20th century – the film examines the history of African Americans on the road from the depths of the Depression to the height of the Civil Rights movement and beyond, exploring along the way the deeply embedded dynamics of race, space and mobility in America during one of the most turbulent and transformative periods in American history. Co-directors Gretchen Sorin and Ric Burns join us to talk about the crippling impact of systemic racism and the continuing stain of America’s original sin.
About the filmmaker – Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Project Director & Senior Historical Advisor Dr. Gretchen Sullivan Sorin is Distinguished Professor and Director of the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Her dissertation and upcoming book form the basis of the scholarship for this project. Her research explores the role that the automobile played in the lives of African Americans during the Jim Crow era, the way that African Americans expressed middle class American values through car ownership, and how cars helped change deeply entrenched racial etiquette. Sorin received her Ph.D. in history from the University at Albany in 2009. For more on the work of Dr. Gretchen Sorin go to gpmuseumstudies.org
About the filmmaker – Ric Burns is an internationally recognized documentary filmmaker and writer, best known for his eight-part, seventeen and a half hour series, New York: A Documentary Film, which premiered nationally on PBS to wide public and critical acclaim when broadcast in November 1999, September 2001, and September 2003. Burns has been writing, directing and producing historical documentaries for over 25 years, since his collaboration on the PBS series The Civil War, (1990), which he produced with his brother Ken and co-wrote with Geoffrey C. Ward. Since founding Steeplechase Films in 1989, he has directed some of the most distinguished programs for PBS including Coney Island (1991), The Donner Party (1992), The Way West (1995), Ansel Adams (2002), Eugene O’Neill, Andy Warhol (2006), We Shall Remain: Tecumseh’s Vision (2009),Into the Deep: America, Whaling & the World (2010), Death and the Civil War (2012), American Ballet Theatre (2015), Debt of Honor (2015), The Pilgrims (2015), VA: The Human Cost of War (2017), and The Chinese Exclusion Act (2018). His work has won numerous film and television awards including six Emmy Awards, two George Foster Peabody Awards, two Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards, three Writer’s Guild of America Awards for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Writing; the Eric Barnouw Award of the Organization of American Historians, and the D.W. Griffith Award of the National Board of Review. Find out more about Ric Burns and Steeple Chaase Films at: ricburns.comAnd dwbfilm.com
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
In their mesmerizing new film, SPACE DOG, Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter chronicle the legacy of Laika, a stray dog picked up by the Soviet space program on the streets of Moscow, the first living being to orbit the earth when she was launched into space on Sputnik 2. Kremser and Peter trace the persistence of her memory and legacy into the present day. As the capsule containing the lifeless body of Laika re-entered Earth’s orbit and began to burn up, the narrator announces “What had been a Moscow street dog had become a ghost.”The ghost Laika lives on in the present-day strays of SPACE DOGS. Photographed at ground level with wandering, hypnotic camera movements, the strays are seen navigating the urban environs of modern Moscow. In hewing closely to the dog’s point of view, the city is rendered as a strange, alien environment. Pulsating music from buildings and unidentified passerby take on an unfamiliar quality as the dogs explore this strange new world. Archival footage of the Soviet space program is interwoven throughout the film, reveling in the bizarre tests and procedures the canines were subjected to in preparation for space travel. Co-directors Elsa Kremser and Levin Peter join us for a conversation on their fascinating project that features stunning cinematography and meditative pacing that recalls the work of Andrei Tarkovsky, and how SPACE DOGS de-centers humans in order to uncover a forgotten history.
About the filmmaker – Director ELSA KREMSER Born 1985 in Austria, Elsa Kremser studied Film at the University of Vienna and the Filmakademie Ludwigsburg. As an author and producer, she realized several documentaries that were shown worldwide. Her diploma film NEBEL premiered at the Berlinale. She was a jury member of Visions du Réel and participated in the Nipkow Grand and the EuroDoc program. In 2016 she founded the Vienna-based production company RAUMZEITFILM together with Levin Peter. As a directing duo, they are currently working on their first fiction feature, THE GREEN PARROT, which received the Berlinale Kompagnon Script Award. Their recent documentary SPACE DOGS premiered at Locarno IFF where it received two special jury mentions. It was presented at over 50 festivals worldwide and awarded as the “Best Austrian Film 2019” at the Viennale.
About the filmmaker – Director LEVIN PETER Born 1985 in Germany, Levin Peter studied at the Filmakademie Ludwigsburg where he realized several documentaries that were shown worldwide. His diploma film BEYOND THE SNOWSTORM won the German Upcoming Film Award and was presented as a Guest at the Berlinale. He was a jury member at Visions du Réel and received the Nipkow and the Gerd Ruge Grant. In 2016 he founded the Vienna-based production company RAUMZEITFILM with Elsa Kremser. As a directing duo, they are currently working on their first fiction feature, THE GREEN PARROT, which received the Berlinale Kompagnon Script Award. Their recent documentary SPACE DOGS premiered at Locarno IFF where it received two special jury mentions. It was presented at over 50 festivals worldwide and awarded as the “Best Austrian Film 2019” at the Viennale.
Set in Oakland, a city with a deep history of social justice movements, WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS documents the Radical Monarchs – an alternative to the Scout movement for girls of color, aged 8-13. Its members earn badges for completing units on social justice including being an LGBTQ ally, the environment, and disability justice. The group was started by two, fierce, queer women of color, Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest as a way to address and center her daughter’s experience as a young brown girl. Their work is anchored in the belief that adolescent girls of color need dedicated spaces and that the foundation for this innovative work must also be rooted in fierce inter-dependent sisterhood, self-love, and hope. WE ARE THE RADICAL MONARCHS follows the first troop of Radical Monarchs for over three years, until they graduate, and documents the Co-founders struggle to respond to the needs of communities across the US and grow the organization after the viral explosion of interest in the troop’s mission to create and inspire a new generation of social justice activists. Director / Producer Linda Goldstein Knowlton (Somewhere Between, Dream,Girl, Whale Rider, The Shipping News) joins us to talk about the positive role-modeling, the sense of community connection and empowerment that the Radical Monarchs has brought into the lives of these young women of color.
About the filmmaker Linda Goldstein Knowlton (Producer/Director) is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, working in documentary and scripted feature films, as well as television. In 2016, she Executive Produced the documentary DREAM,GIRL, which premiered at The White House. The film showcases the stories of inspiring and ambitious female entrepreneurs. Goldstein Knowlton directed and produced one of the six, Emmy-nominated documentaries for the PBS MAKERS: Women Who Make America series. The film, WOMEN AND HOLLYWOOD, aired in October, 2014 and includes interviews with Jane Fonda, Shonda Rhimes, Lena Dunham, Ava Duvernay, Glenn Close, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Alfre Woodard, Hunger Games producer Nina Jacobson, among many other notable women. Prior to that, she produced CODE BLACK, Best Documentary winner at LA Film Festival and the Hamptons International Film Festival, and the basis for the CBS one-hour drama of the same name. Previously she directed and produced SOMEWHERE BETWEEN, which won the Sundance Channel Audience Award at the Hot Docs Film Festival, and was released theatrically in over 80 cities across the US. For her directorial debut, she co-directed THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SESAME STREET, which debuted at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival in competition and aired nationally on PBS. Linda started her career producing feature films, including the award-winning WHALE RIDER and THE SHIPPING NEWS.
THE INFILTRATORS is a docu-thriller that tells the true story of young immigrants who are detained by Border Patrol and thrown into a shadowy for-profit detention center— on purpose. Marco and Viri are members of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, a group of radical DREAMers who are on a mission to stop unjust deportations. And the best place to stop deportations, they believe, is in detention. However, when Marco and Viri attempt a daring reverse ‘prison break,’ things don’t go according to plan. By weaving together documentary footage of the real infiltrators with re-enactments of the events inside the detention center, THE INFILTRATORS tells an incredible and thrilling true story in a genre-defying new cinematic language. Co-directors Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera joins for a conversation on dire conditions that await detainees, the cruelty of a for-profit system designed to frustrate people with legitimate reasons for remaining in the United States and their respect for the people who willingly put their lives and futures on the line for the sake of others.
Alex Riverais an award-winning filmmaker who tells visually adventurous stories. His first feature film, Sleep Dealer, won the screenwriting award at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, was screened at the Museum of Modern Art, and had a commercial release around the world. In 2015 Alex was awarded support from the Surdna Foundation and the Ford Foundation for The Infiltrators.
Cristina Ibarrahas been making award-winning films that explore the U.S.-Mexico border for the past seventeen years. The New York Times calls her documentary Las Marthas “a striking alternative portrait of border-town life.” Her PBS documentary collaboration, The Last Conquistador, had a national broadcast on POV. In 2015 she became part of Women at Sundance.
“THE INFILTRATORS manages to personalize the undocumented struggle by transforming it into an unlikely blend of activism and suspense that makes a compelling case for the abolishment of ICE.” – Eric Kohn, INDIEWIRE
“A doc mixing interviews, real-time action and reenactment in exciting ways, Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra’s THE INFILTRATORS tells a true story so inspiring it’s a wonder it isn’t better known.’ – John DeFore, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
“Chronicling the audacious acts of a group of organized undocumented youth prior to the Obama-implemented, temporary relief known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), THE INFILTRATORS, from Latinx directors Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra, is a vital piece of hybrid cinema that shines light into the obscure realm of privately-operated immigration detention facilities.” – Carlos Aguilar, THE WRAP
After the 2008 election, a secretive, well-funded partisan initiative poured money into state legislative races in key swing states to gain control of their redistricting processes and used high-tech analytics to dramatically skew voting maps based on demographic data. The result is one of the greatest electoral manipulations in U.S. history, one that poses a fundamental threat to our democracy and exacerbates the already polarized atmosphere in Congress and state houses across the country. Gerrymandering, the practice of redrawing electoral maps to serve the party in power, has been around for centuries. But in today’s hyper-partisan political environment it has been taken to unprecedented extremes, fueled by the elimination of corporate campaign contribution limits and the availability of vast amounts of personal information.The effects of this insidious strategy have continued to bear fruit through the 2018 midterms. But voters, fed up with cynical efforts to sidestep the will of the majority, have begun fighting back. In one example, a grassroots movement led by a young with no political experience gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures to put an anti-gerrymandering initiative on the ballot in Michigan. The new documentary SLAY THE DRAGON shines a light on this timely issue, and follows a handful of citizens’ groups, outraged by what they see as an attack on the core democratic principle that every person’s vote should count equally, as they battle party operatives and an entrenched political establishment to fix a broken system. Co-directors Barak Goodman and Chris Durrance stop by to talk about their approach to tackling a complex issue, and finding the grassroots activists who have shown that there is a way to affect real change despite the overwhelming odds.
“The most important political film of the year. It may prove to be one of the key political films of the decade. There is no issue more threatening to the future of American democracy than gerrymandering.” – Owen Gleiberman, VARIETY
“Slay the Dragon does an extraordinarily good job of taking a complex issue and connecting the dots, which seems particularly appropriate for a documentary about gerrymandering.” – Brian Lowry, CNN.com
“Outrage is a likely reaction.” – Karen Martin, ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE
“Shocking. It changes the way you see everything.”- Adrian Horton, THE GUARDIAN
THE RESCUE LIST focuses on a hidden safe-house in the Ghanaian forest, where social workers help two children recover from a childhood enslaved to fishermen on Lake Volta – the largest man-made lake on Earth. But their story takes an unexpected turn when their rescuer embarks on another rescue mission and asks the children for help. THE RESCUE LIST charts the unfolding drama of these rescue operations alongside a stirring portrait of the boys’ recoveries as they prepare to return to their families. The film depicts a moving story of friendship and courage that transcends the trope of victimhood, exploring what it means to love and to survive. Co-directors Alyssa Fedele and Zachary Fink join us for an in-depth conversation on the ground truth about human trafficking in sub-Sahara Africa, gaining the access and the trust of all the people in the film and their own reflections on how witnessing these people’s stories has impacted them.
ALYSSA FEDELE – PRODUCER // DIRECTOR // EDITOR – Alyssa Fedele is a documentary filmmaker and anthropologist based in San Francisco.In 2016, She produced and edited The Ride of Their Lives, directed by Steve James, about youth rodeo bull riding. It premiered at Sundance and is distributed by Amazon Studios in the series The New Yorker Presents. Her work has appeared on National Geographic Channel, Amazon Studios, and PBS, and screened at IDFA, SFFILM, and Big Sky Film Festival. Alyssa directed, produced, and edited The Rescue List, which screened at Full Frame and DOC NYC and won awards at BendFilm and Heartland International Film Festival.Alyssa is a former resident at SFFILM’s FilmHouse and she is a recipient of the SFFILM Documentary Film Fund. She has a master’s degree in visual anthropology from the University of Manchester.
ZACHARY FINK – PRODUCER // DIRECTOR // CINEMATOGRAPHER – Zachary Fink is a documentary filmmaker and cinematographer. His immersive observational approach to storytelling is deeply influenced by his academic roots in cultural anthropology and visual ethnography. He recently lensed Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s SXSW opening night premiere, State Of Pride, which takes an unflinching look at the diverse expression of Pride 50 years after Stonewall. Last year he spent a month at McMurdo Station in Antarctica where he field directed and shot a forthcoming PBS NOVA series about how science is conducted on the harshest continent. In 2016, Zachary produced and filmed TheRide Of Their Lives, a short directed by Steve James about youth rodeo bull riding. It premiered at Sundance as part of the Amazon Studios series, The New Yorker Presents. His work has appeared on PBS, HBO, National Geographic Channel, and Discovery Channel, and he has produced and directed projects for Facebook, Apple, Google, and for the Harvard Film Study Center. Zachary has a master’s degree in cultural anthropology and an MFA in film production from California Institute of the Arts. Together with Alyssa Fedele, he runs the production company Collective Hunch.
“The Rescue List isn’t an exposé on the subject in the strictest terms, but by sticking close to those who’ve lived through such nightmares, Fedele and Fink tell the viewer all they need to know about the dangers involved.” – Andrew Parker, The Gate
“Saving defenseless kids from the cruelty of Lake Volta must be some of the most challenging work imaginable, but The Rescue List ultimately resonates because of how little it can take to show them their own strength.” – David Ehrlich, indieWire
“Focusing on a rescue-and-rehabilitation organization and several youths it plucks from servitude, this is an involving indictment with enough individual human-interest elements to avoid being too much of a grim screed.” – Dennis Harvey, Variety
After the patriotic themes of her first hit song launch her to stardom in Vietnam, Mai Khoi’s personal and artistic growth places her and those around her in jeopardy. A shift from pop star to activist sees Khoi run for office, advocate for women’s rights and sit down with President Barack Obama. Her aspirations to release an album with her new band, The Dissidents, are challenged by looming retaliation by the authoritarian Vietnamese regime, leading the young activist to take drastic measures. Director Joe Piscatella stops by to talk about the journey of Vietnam’s most popular leading pop star from celebrated to hunted for speaking out against an oppressive regime hell-bent to silence her.
About the filmmaker: Joe Piscatella’s second feature documentary, Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower won the Audience Award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and was acquired as a Netflix Original. His first feature documentary, #ChicagoGirl, has been seen in more than 60 countries. He was also an executive producer on the documentary Finders Keepers, which premiered at Sundance in 2015. In 2019 he was nominated for an Emmy for his directorial work on Food Interrupted. His latest documentary, Mai Khoi & the Dissidents premiered at the 2019 DOC/NYC film festival.
Between 2015 and 2016, the number of homeless people in Los Angeles County rose 23% to nearly 58,000.DISCO’D is a character-driven portrait of individuals who were living on the street at the time of filming. This riveting, on-the-ground documentary film captures the moment-to-moment uncertainty and endless instability of life on the streets. Immersive and intimate, highlighting issues of displacement, affordable housing, addiction, consumerism, and sanitation, DISCO’D examines the nature and complexities of homelessness. Navigating through the streets with those who live there, DISCO’Dtells a story of those affected by homelessness in Los Angeles.We have seen homeless communities sweep into all parts of the city in recent years. Director, / Producer / Editor Matthew Siretta and Producer / Sound Engineer Sam Mantell join us to talk about his unsettling film that captures the chaos and sheer hopelessness of the men and woman with no where else to go.
Filmmaker(s) statement: “As filmmakers, we tried to explore human connections by examining interpersonal relationships, and self-reflection, while maintaining a firm look at the people who live within this uneasy margin of society. By facilitating a conversation about these individuals’ relationships with themselves, others, and the city that contains them, we can intimately recognize and connect with them in a very real way. From the beginning, our intention was to make a film that felt personal and experiential, with a narrative that emerged from the frame of human behavior. We wanted to focus on the visceral aspects of their stories, relating to them through feeling, expression, action, and reaction. For us, it was important to remain open to discovery, new connections, and interesting juxtapositions. As they share their lives with us, we come to understand what it means to feel “disco’d” on the streets of Los Angeles. We hope this film is a powerful portrayal that can positively impact the ideas and thoughts viewers may have around what it means to experience homelessness in Los Angeles. That said, we hope that you find the film consistent with our efforts, as we’ve attempted to create a meaningful portrait on homelessness in Los Angeles.” – Matthew Siretta and Sam Mantell
“Important doc on LA homeless.” – Sean Baker, @Lilfilm
“Siretta meant to nab his hero Frederick Wiseman as his mentor and he succeeded, so maybe keep an eye peeled.” – Pamela Cohn, Filmmaker Magazine
“Impressed with the film, particularly as a first-time feature. Raw, accomplished filmmaking. It’s very strong…and some of the characters are extraordinary.” – Jim Kolmar, SXSW Film Festival
“…A deeply engrossing portrait of Los Angeles homeless life.” – Harry Vaughn, Sundance Film Festival
“The film provides its subjects the agency to tell their own stories, without judgment or suggestion. The camerawork and editing are sharp and well-suited to the film’s narrative.” – David Wilson, True/False Film Festival
THE ALL-AMERICANS takes us into the home to the nation’s largest Latino immigrant population, East Los Angeles, a community that sits squarely in the crossfire of debate about American identity. Yet every November, this community comes together for a distinctly American event, drawing 25,000 proud locals to one of the country’s fiercest high school football rivalry games: The East L.A. Classic. THE ALL-AMERICANS follows four students seeking glory on the field, while grappling with personal obstacles and striving to make sense of their community’s place in today’s America. Director / Producer / Editor / Writer Billy McMillin (Iraq in Fragments, West of Memphis, Mike Wallace is Here) joins us to talk about his feature documentary debut, THE ALL-AMERICANS, and it’s intimate, unvarnished look at young men, often living on the margins, in their dogged pursuit of the American dream.
About the filmmaker: Billy McMillin – Director, Producer, Writer, Editor has spent over a decade as a writer and editor crafting a diverse mix of stories—from war-torn life in Academy Award Nominee Iraq in Fragments, to an epic search for justice in West of Memphis, to a quest for greatness amongst the world’s best 7-year-old golfers in The Short Game. He edited Hulu’s original documentaries Becoming Bond and Too Funny To Fail, and led a team of editors on History & Viceland’s docuseries Hunting ISIS and SundanceTV’s true crime series No One Saw a Thing. Most recently, he edited the all-archival feature documentary Mike Wallace Is Here, which premiered in competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and was released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures this summer. The All-Americans is his feature directorial debut.
RAISE HELL: THE LIFE & TIMES OF MOLLY IVINS tells the story of media firebrand Molly Ivins, six feet of Texas trouble who took on the Good Old Boy corruption wherever she found it. Her razor sharp wit left both sides of the aisle laughing, and craving ink in her columns. She knew the Bill of Rights was in peril, and said “Polarizing people is a good way to win an election and a good way to wreck a country.” Molly’s words have proved prescient. Now it’s up to us to raise hell! Director Janice Engel (Ted Hawkins Amazing Grace, Jackson Browne: Going Home, Addicted and What We Carry) joins us for a lively conversation on a journalist who did not shy away from confronting and shaming the most powerful institutions, political interests and the people who protected them from her righteous anger and lacerating wit.
About Molly Ivins: Molly Ivins was a nationally-syndicated political columnist and author, who remained cheerful despite the state of politics in this country and her own physical trials. She emphasized the more hilarious aspects of both state and national government, and consequently never had to write fiction. Ivins was from Houston, Texas, graduated from Smith College in 1966, then from Columbia University’s School of Journalism with a Masters in 1967. Ivins won many awards too numerous to list for her writing, courage, and truth telling. Her freelance work appeared in The Nation, The Progressive, Mother Jones, Esquire, Harper’s, Atlantic, and Playboy. She was also known for her essays on National Public Radio as well as media appearances around the world. Ivins wrote seven books, several of which were best-sellers including; BUSHWHACKED: Life in George W. Bush’s America with Lou Dubose in 2003 and WHO LET THE DOGS IN? Incredible Political Animals I Have Known in 2004. Molly was President of the Board of the Texas Democracy Foundation publisher of the venerable Texas Observer, which was her spiritual home and love. She found her voice at the Observer and helped sustain them and lead countless other young writers in seeking out the “good” stories and bring them to the public.
“The best way to get the sons of bitches is to make people laugh at them.” – Molly Ivins
“It’s a rare documentary indeed that so expertly captures the singular essence of its subject, and [Molly] Ivins is restored to vivid and vital life, if not in the flesh than in the mind and spirit.” – Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle
When Dian was 6 years old, she heard a deep rumble and turned to see a tsunami of mud barreling towards her village. She remembers her mother scooping her up to save her from the boiling mud. Her neighbors ran for their lives. Sixteen villages, including Dian’s, were wiped away. A decade later, nearly 60,000 people have been displaced from what was once a thriving industrial and residential area in East Java, located just 20 kilometers from Indonesia’s second largest city. Dozens of factories, schools and mosques are submerged 60 feet under a moonscape of cracked mud. The majority of international scientists believe that Lapindo, a multinational company that was drilling for natural gas in 2006, accidentally struck an underground mud volcano and unleashed a violent flow of hot sludge from the earth’s depths. Ten years later, despite initial assurances to do so, Lapindo has not provided 80% of its promised reparations to the hundreds of victims of who lost everything in the mud explosion. While the survivors live in the shadow of the mudflow and wait for restitution, they live in makeshift rented homes next to levees that hold back the still flowing mud. Dian is determined to rise out of the muddy life. She and her mother, along with many neighbors, fight against the corporate powers accused of one of the largest environmental disasters in recent history. The gripping documentary film GRIT bears witness to Dian’s transformation into a politically active teenager as she questions the role of corporate power and money in the institution of democracy itself.
About the filmmaker(s): Cynthia Wade’s 2008 documentary Freeheld won a 2008 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject, Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and 13 other awards. She was a lead producer on the 2015 fictionalized adaptation of Freeheld, starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell and Michael Shannon. Wade’s 2013 HBO documentary Mondays at Racine was nominated for an Academy Award in 2013. She is the director of the documentaries Grist for the Mill (1999, HBO), Shelter Dogs (2004, HBO), Born Sweet (2009), Living the Legacy (2009, Sundance Channel) and Generation Startup (2016, Netflix), and producer of The Gnomist (2015, CNN). She holds a BA from Smith College and an MA in Documentary Film Production from Stanford University. Wade has won more than 45 film awards worldwide.
Co-director Sasha Friedlander directed, produced, shot and edited the feature-documentary Where Heaven Meets Hell. The film, set in East Java, Indonesia, won numerous prizes including Best Feature Documentary Film at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival, Hawaii International Film Festival and Special Mention for Outstanding Cinematography at the LAAPFF. At the One World International Human Rights Film Festival in Prague, the Václav Havel Jury gave a Special Mention Award to Where Heaven Meets Hell for its “exceptional contribution to the defense of human rights.” The Alliance of Women Film Journalists awarded Sasha an EDA Award for Documentary Artistry in March 2013. This ITVS-funded film aired on PBS in 2013. Sasha’s has lived and worked in Indonesia. She is fluent in Indonesian and worked there as a journalist for several years. Sasha holds a BA from UCLA and an MFA in Social Documentary Film from the School of Visual Arts.
Acclaimed filmmaker and recipient of the MacArthur Program Fellow FellowshipStanley Nelson takes us on a journey through the life of a musical giant in his latest documentary film MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOL. Miles Davis was many things including a horn player, bandleader, innovator. He was elegant, intellectual, vain, callous, conflicted, controversial, and mercurial. Miles Davis was also embodiment of cool. The man with a sound so beautiful it could break your heart. The central theme of Miles Davis’s life was his restless determination to break boundaries and live life on his own terms. It made him a star. For the people who loved him most, it also made him incredibly difficult to live with. Again and again, in music and in life, Miles broke with convention—and when he thought his work came to represent a new convention, he changed it again. Miles’s bold disregard for tradition, his clarity of vision, his relentless drive, and constant thirst for new experiences made him an inspiring collaborator to fellow musicians and a cultural icon to generations of listeners. It made him an innovator in music—from bebop to “cool jazz,” modern quintets, orchestral music, jazz fusion, rock ’n’ roll, and even hip-hop. Featuring never-before-seen archival footage, studio outtakes, and rare photos, MILES DAVIS: BIRTH OF THE COOLtells the story of a truly singular talent and unpacks the man behind the horn. Director and producer Stanley Nelson joins us to talk about the life and times of a music genius and the uncompromising life he led.
“You’ll want to listen to Miles’ music after watching the film and, when you do, you might feel it a little deeper.” – Glenn Whipp, Los Angeles Times
“Miles Davis – The Birth of Cool is a must see for anyone, anywhere in any lane of life that has an infinite love of music. Especially jazz. Stanley Nelson’s best work to date pulling back the curtain on an underrated musical Picasso – Miles Davis” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic
“While previous books and films made Miles Davis look like a magical character, Nelson’s ‘Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool’ depicts the musician as what he was – a man who was driven by his art and chained by the racist society he was born into.” –Jonita Davis, Black Girl Nerds
“If you’re a Miles Davis fanatic from way back and think you already know everything about him, the movie, with its sharply edited interviews and stunning archival reach, fills in nuances of the man that feel fresh and new.“ – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
In this intimate and revelatory new documentary VISION PORTRAITS an extensive eyesight loss and the possibility of total blindness didn’t shut down queer filmmaker Rodney Evans (Brother to Brother). Instead, it inspired this profoundly personal non-fiction film, which not only documents his own genetic eye disorder, but shows how three other working artists with visual impairments—photographer John Dugdale, writer Ryan Knighton, and dancer Kayla Hamilton—have adjusted their practices around their changed capacities. An intimate study of the artistic process that contemplates the relationship between the sense of sight and artistic “vision,” Evans’ film explores the quintessence of cinema: adventures in perception, subjectivity, and the imagination. Director /Producer Rodney Evans joins us for a conversation on ways in which creativity and artistic expression can manifest and how perceived limitations can be shattered.
About the filmmaker: Rodney Evans is an award-winning fiction and documentary film writer, director and producer based in New York. His debut feature film Brother To Brother won the Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize in Drama. The film had its European premiere at The Berlin International Film Festival and garnered four Independent Spirit Award nominations. His second narrative feature, The Happy Sad, played at over thirty film festivals throughout the world and had its U.S. theatrical premiere at the IFC Center in NYC and the Sundance Sunset Cinema in Los Angeles. Evans has taught at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Princeton and currently teaches at Swarthmore College.
“Evans intersperses his own experience with those of three others, finding comforting commonalities and essential differences. The result is artistically uneven in structure but emotionally powerful throughout.” – Elizabeth Weitzman, TheWrap
“An inspiring film, a funny and informative feature whose subjects were creative kindred spirits I’d never seen onscreen before.” – Odie Henderson, RogerEbert.com
Lois Vossen is the Executive Producer of Independent Lens and has been with the show since its inception as a primetime series on PBS. Lois is responsible for commissioning new films, programming the series and working with filmmakers on editorial and broadcast issues. Independent Lens films have received 17 Emmy Awards, 16 George Foster Peabody Awards, five Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Journalism Awards and eight Academy Award nominations. The series was honored in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2017 with the International Documentary Association (IDA) Award for Best Series. Before joining ITVS, Lois was the Associate Managing Director of Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Labs. Lois is a member of the Television Academy Board of Governors, representing the documentary branch. She has served on the jury at Shanghai Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, SXSW, DOC New Zealand and Palm Springs International Film Festival, among others. Under her leadership, films funded or co-produced by Independent Lens include I Am Not Your Negro, Always in Season, Bedlam, One Child Nation, Black Memorabilia, The King, People’s Republic of Desire, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, TOWER, Newtown, Best of Enemies, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, (T)ERROR, The House I Live In, The Invisible War, and The Trials of Muhammad Ali, among many others. Widely regarded as one of the most influential supporters of independent and documentary filmmaking, Lois Vossen joins us for a conversation on the role that Independent Lens /POV and Public Broadcasting has had in maintaining the highest standards for innovative storytelling in non-fiction cinema.