Based on the best-selling novel by Bonnie Jo Campbell, ONCE UPON A RIVER is the story of Native American teenager Margo Crane (Kenadi DelaCerna) in 1970s rural Michigan who after enduring a series of traumas and tragedies, sets out on an odyssey on the Stark River in search of her estranged mother. On the water, Margo encounters friends, foes, wonders, and dangers; navigating life on her own, she comes to understand her potential, all while healing the wounds of her past. ONCE UPON A RIVER features newcomer Kenadi DelaCerna, John Ashton (Midnight Run, Gone Baby Gone), Tatanka Means (The Son, Saints & Strangers, Tiger Eyes), Ajuawak Kapashesit (Caleb, Outlander), Sam Straley (Hala,.Chicago P.D.), Coburn Goss (Man of Steel, What Women Want), Lindsay Pulsipher (True Blood, Justified, Hatfields & McCoys), Kenn E. Head (ER, Chicago Fire). Director Haroula Rose joins us for a conversation on her collaboration with author Bonnie Jo Campbell, bringing her background in music into the filmmaking world and bringing the role of Margo to life through the stellar performance of newcomer Kenadi DelaCerna.
Andorra, a tiny, independent country situated between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains with a total population of 80,000 people found itself at the center of one of the most convoluted and outrageous bank robberies in modern history: on March 10, 2015, Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA), a private bank in Andorra, was shut down by Spanish, American, and Andorran governments in Spain’s efforts todestroy the Catalonian Independence Movement thus leaving dozens of innocent civilians facing prison for money laundering crimes that never existed, and scores of innocent families have had their entire life savings stolen from them. The incentive for the Spanish government to destroy BPA was part of Spain’s ongoing “Operation Catalonia”—a covert state-sponsored war-like operation meant to undermine the progress of Catalonia’s efforts to separate from Spain due to generations of humanitarian and economic repression Madrid has inflicted upon Catalonia. America’s incentive was to protect Spain’s interests, as they are an ally of the United States. Andorra’s incentive appears to be purely economical on behalf of its leadership. Director Eric Merola, (Burzynski, Second Opinion: Laetrile at Sloan-Kettering, Burzynski: The Cancer Cure Cover-Up, and The God Cells) joins us to talk about this shocking, but true story of an international banking system, and a regulatory oversight regime that is only incidentally concerned with banking integrity or financial criminality.
Merola Productions is proud to present the VOD release of THE ANDORRA HUSTLE, a documentary film written and directed by the award-winning filmmaker Eric Merola. The film will be available for streaming on Amazon Prime on September 4, 2020.
About the filmmaker – Eric Merola is an internationally award-winning documentary filmmaker. For the last decade Eric has directed and produced four documentaries exploring disruptive scientific technologies in the space of medical research. All of his documentaries can be viewed on Amazon Prime Video Merola’s 5th documentary, The Andorra Hustle, releases worldwide in English, Spanish, and Catalan on Amazon Prime Video. Merola’s first documentary, Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business was an international success seen by tens of millions of people worldwide. This project was presented on Netflix, PBS, The Documentary Channel, and various international television outlets. The positive reception of the Burzynski story led Merola to produce its sequel, Burzynski: Cancer Is Serious Business, Part II Merola’s third documentary, Second Opinion: Laetrile At Sloan-Kettering tells the story of Ralph W. Moss, PhD, who blew the whistle on the successful laetrile studies conducted for 5 years at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City in the 1970s. Today, Eric Merola is most passionate about investigating fetal stem cell therapy, where he spent four years researching and releasing his most recent documentary, The God Cells: A Fetal Stem Cell Journey. Merola continues to follow new patients who seek fetal stem cell treatment and share their stories. Merola feels that fetal stem cells could be the most disruptive technology he’s discovered in the medical research space, potentially replacing nearly every pharmaceutical medication on the market. Eric is also a painter and fine art currently holding a residency at the 18th Street Studios in Santa Monica.
The rePRO Film Festival begins its inaugural run this August 12-16. The virtual film festival is dedicated to exploring women’s reproductive healthcare, awareness, advocacy and bodily integrity in America. The lineup of films includes documentaries and narratives dealing with women’s rights, endometriosis, illegal sterilization, access to abortion, and reproductive justice for women of color, among other topics. rePRO Film Festival, will host five days of features, short films and themed-conversations focused on a range of topics including healthcare access, fertility, pregnancy, sexual education, abortion, and issues related to the gender spectrum. In-festival moderated conversations will include call-to-action messaging on how people can get involved in a corresponding initiative or topic. The conversations, designed to spotlight the creators who dare to tell stories about women’s reproductive rights, and to showcase courageous advocators, will be available online for free globally. All feature films playing the rePRO Film Festival are directed by women, and all filmmakers, including shorts filmmakers, are being paid to screen their films. The pay-what-you-can film ticket proceeds for films at the festival will be converted to donations to be split evenly among five beneficiary non-profit organizations – SisterSong, Endometriosis Foundation of America, Center for Reproductive Rights, URGE and Trust Women.Tickets are on sale online at repromamafilm.org. Tickets are all pay-what-you-can ($5, $10 or $15) with a limited number of complimentary vouchers available upon request to ensure access for all. rePro Film Festival and festival sponsor mama.film founders Lela Meadow-Conner, Mallory Martin and Debby Samples join us to talk about the launch of their deep dive into the issues, challenges and stories that face 49% of the world’s population and the people who love them.
About MAMA.FILM – Through the power of cinema, mama.film (link), a 501c(3) non-profit organization, unites nurturers of all kinds to ignite conversation and to reflect upon our shared human experience. Founded in 2019, in a pop-up microcinema in a shipping container in Wichita, Kansas, mama.film has since been awarded expanded programming to Cleveland, and to a virtual platform. Film selections include stories and topics that amplify and explore the evolving realities of the human condition and that spark dialogue and reflection. mamafilm is committed to representing the realities and complexities of a diverse range of nurturers, across race, class, geography, sexual preference, ability and generation.An emphasis is placed on independent and foreign films that are grounded in authentic storytelling. mamafilm is committed to supporting the work of creators who are nurturers and caregivers. Initial support for rePRO by mama.film was generously provided by a grant from the George R. Tiller, M.D., Memorial Fund for the Advancement of Women’s Health at the Wichita Community Foundation. Follow @mamafilm1 on Instagram or Twitter for updates, or follow rePRO by mama.film on Facebook for more updates.
Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student. Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own – between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive. The Apple+TV limited drama series is a gripping, character-driven thriller based on the 2012 New York Times best selling novel of the same name by William Landay. Creator and Executive Producer Mark Bomback joins us to talk about how he and his creative team, including director Morten Tyldum, brought this complex and nuanced tale to life.
“One thing that’s evident from the outset is that all of the actors are perfect for their roles. Jaeden Martell, in particular, is still a young actor, but he handles the dark material with ease, and I appreciated the way the journey began with him.” – Paul Dailly, TV Fanatic
“The director applies an autumnal hue, with a color range of frosty blues that really adjusts to the atmosphere of slowly crumbling feelings.” – Jorge Loser, Espinof
“Chris Evans does some of the best work of his career as Andy… He expertly conveys Andy’s desperate, ferocious need to protect his son, his genuine love for his wife – and the haunting memories that jolt him awake in the middle of the night.” – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
“The pilot does a remarkable job of building up the situation and its main players, but leaving enough in a nebulous spot that there’s still some doubt and some questions to dig deeper into.” – Kevin Lever, Tell-Tale TV
It all began when a group of cheerful, subversive filmmakers weren’t accepted into the Sundance Film Festival. Unwilling to take “no” for an answer, they instead started their own event – Slamdance: Anarchy in Utah. 26 years later, Slamdance has become a year-round organization fostering the development of unique and innovative filmmakers. The organization now consists of the Film Festival, Screenplay Competition and Slamdance Studios. It has also created Slamdance On The Road, a traveling theatrical showcase that brings popular Slamdance films to audiences that otherwise would not have the opportunity to see them. Dan Mirvish, Jon Fitzgerald, Shane Kuhn and Peter Baxter are the founding forefathers who, along with co-conspirator Paul Rachman, fought for truly independent filmmakers by giving them a voice in 1995 at the very first Slamdance Film Festival. Since then, the festival takes place every January in the breathtakingly stunning, snow-capped mountains of Park City, Utah at the exact same time as the Sundance Film Festival, to provide a more authentic representation of independent filmmaking. Up-and-coming writers, directors and producers, alongside seasoned veterans and film lovers, converge for the weeklong celebration of independent cinema, realizing that Slamdance is a great place to find those next, great, visionary films. Slamdance lives and bleeds by its mantra By Filmmakers For Filmmakers. No other film festival in the world is entirely run and organized by the creative force that can only be found in filmmakers. Slamdance adamantly supports self-governance amongst independents, and exists to deliver what filmmakers go to festivals for – a chance to show their work and a platform to launch their careers. The festival has earned a solid reputation for premiering films by first-time writers and directors working within the creative confines of limited budgets. Co-founder and President Peter Baxter joins us to talk about this year’s Slamdance, the groundbreaking films and the innovative new distribution and digital initiatives being launched by Slamdance.
A small-town marshal who hasn’t carried a gun since he left the Texas Rangers after a tragic shooting must pick up his gun again. This time to do battle with a gang of outlaw bikers that has invaded the town to pull off a brazen and violent heist. DISTURBING THE PEACE features Guy Pearce (Memento, L.A. Confidential), Devon Sawa (The Fanatic,Final Destination) and Barbie Blank (“WWE Raw”, “Clash Time”.) The film is written by Chuck Hustmyer (End of a Gun, House of the Rising Sun) and directed by York Alec Shackleton (211, Kush). Director, writer and producer York Alec Shackleton joins us to talk about his heist gone wrong film thriller.
About the director: York Alec Shackleton is a filmmaker and former professional snowboarder, widely known for his early films dealing with edgy real-life tales of troubled youth and lives gone wrong.A direct descendant of famed arctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, York was born and raised in Southern California. His father, Richard, was best known as the writer for much of Lenny Bruce’s comedy material and served as tour manager. Growing up around these types of artists instilled a keen sense of creativity and inspired a yearning to be in the entertainment business from the very beginning. His films, past and future include the documentary LAS PARADITAS, which explores the rampant violence and exposing the corruption that surrounds the prostitutes of Tijuana, Mexico. Followed by the thriller PRETTY PERFECT, starring Sarah Sutherland in her first feature film and Christopher McDonald, about a man dealing with paranoid schizophrenia and delusional behavior. York’s other work includes producing and editing the 2008 feature DOCUMENTARY URBAN STRUGGLE: THE BATTLE OF THE CUCKOO’S NEST, exposing the burgeoning days of the punk scene at the now infamous Cuckoo’s Nest club, in Southern California. In 2012 he followed this by producing and editing and the documentary CLOCKWORK ORANGE COUNTY, featuring early concert clips from Iggy Pop, The Ramones, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, and the Circle Jerks among others.
What happened to Carolyn Harper? Part suburban nightmare, part neon-soaked teenage fever dream, this tantalizing mystery traces the wave of fear and distrust that spreads across a small Midwestern town in the wake of a high school girl’s mysterious disappearance. As the loneliness and darkness lurking beneath the veneer of everyday life gradually comes to light, a collective awakening seems to overcome the town’s teenage girls—gathering in force until it can no longer be contained. Unfolding in a hallucinatory haze of lushly surreal images, Knives and Skin is a one-of-a-kind coming-of-age noir that haunts like a half-remembered dream. Director / writer Jennifer Reeder joins us for a lively conversation on her heady melange of a film that bends multiple genres to its razor sharp will.
Director’s Statement:I tell stories about unruly women and the landscapes they transform. This is a story by a woman that proposes girlhood as a place of transcendence and transgression. I am committed to this voice and to producing unexpected narratives. I write scripts from actual experience and observation and my films are specific in mood and perspective. I am influenced by Ohio, where I grew up—all that sky and flatness. And even more so by the Midwestern people and their kind of everyday destructiveness and determination to cope. This awkward emotionality is evident in my films as scenes unfold like sticky flypaper and characters make one small mistake after another. –Jennifer Reeder
“An effervescent suburban noir rich with tragedy, rough around the edges, but sharp like the dagger when it counts.” – Matt Donato, Dread Central
“The film’s approach to narrative structure is both messy and strangely confident and alluring, poising Knives and Skin as a bold and complicated cross-genre anomaly, much like the women Reeder lovingly depicts.” – Chloe Leeson, Screen Queens
“At times fraught with anxiety, haunting in quiet horror, blackly comedic, and aching with with sorrow and love, Knives and Skin is many things and also defies easy categorization, as it puts forth a perspective that is multiple and complicated.” – Shelagh Rowan-Legg, ScreenAnarchy
MONOS, Alejandro Landes’ awe-inspiring third feature, is a breathtaking survivalist saga set on a remote mountain in Latin America. The film tracks a young group of soldiers and rebels — bearing names like Rambo, Smurf, Bigfoot, Wolf and Boom-Boom — who keep watch over an American hostage, Doctora (Julianne Nicholson). The teenage commandos perform military training exercises by day and indulge in youthful hedonism by night, an unconventional family bound together under a shadowy force known only as The Organization. After an ambush drives the squadron into the jungle, both the mission and the intricate bonds between the group begin to disintegrate. Order descends into chaos and within MONOS the strong begin to prey on the weak in this vivid, cautionary fever- dream. With a rapturous score by Mica Levi (only her third, after UNDER THE SKIN and JACKIE), director Alejandro Landes examines the chaos and absurdity of war from the unique perspective of adolescence, recalling LORD OF THE FLIES and BEAU TRAVAIL in a way that feels wholly original. Landes brings together a diverse young cast of both seasoned professionals (including Hannah Montana’s Moisés Arias) and untrained neophytes and thrusts them into an unforgiving, irrational and often surreal environment where anything can happen — even peace. Director Alejandro Landes talks about the grueling production challenges of shooting in a jungle, working with a young cast and how his collaboration with screenwriter Alexis Dos Santos and composer Mica Levi helped to create an intense, high-wire cinematic journey.
CARTAGENA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – Audience Award BUENOS AIRES FILM FESTIVAL – Best Original Score SLOVAKIA ART FILM FEST – Blue Angel – Best Film NEWPORT BEACH FILM FESTIVAL– Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Actress
MONTCLAIR FILM FESTIVAL – Best Fiction Feature
TRANSILVANIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – Transilvania Trophy Best Film ODESA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL – Best Director
“There’s a bicep-flexing quality to Landes’s direction, with its bursts of colour and chaos, its conjuration of a surreal experience out of tactile reality. You tumble out of it bruised, bewildered, mesmerised.” – Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph (UK)
The BlackStar Film Festival (BlackStar) returns August 1-4, 2019 with a stellar slate of black, brown and indigenous films from around the globe. The BlackStar Film Festival is an annual celebration of the visual and storytelling traditions of the African diaspora and of global communities of color, showcasing films by black, brown and indigenous people from around the world. Continuing its legacy of discovery and excellence, audiences can expect must-see film premieres, poignant artist discussions, and discover new cinematic favorites from this year’s class of emerging filmmakers. Founded in 2012 by Maori Karmael Holmes, BlackStar has become the hottest event on the film festival calendar. With a program unlike any other, BlackStar is the destination to discover new artists voices from Black and global indigenous filmmakers. Artists including Terence Nance (An Oversimplification of Her Beauty; HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness), and Matthew A. Cherry (9 RIdes; ABC’s Whiskey Cavalier), and Nijla Baseema Mu’min (Jinn) have shared their work at the festival and from BlackStar cultivated a fanbase that has grown with their careers.
This year’s festival features sneak preview of Hip-Hop: The Songs That Shook America, a new documentary series directed by directed Erik Parker and One9.
From Executive Producers Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, Shawn Gee, and Alex Gibney,Fear No Gumbo, a documentary feature directed by Kimberly Rivers Roberts, about the 13 years since the deadly Category 5 Hurricane Katrina that made landfall on Florida and Louisiana and the corruption and systemic racism that still victimizes the residents that returned after Katrina.
A new documentary from Emmy Award-winning director andMacarthur “genius” fellow Stanley Nelson (The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution). Boss which explores over 150 years of African American entrepreneurship, from bondage to billion dollar moguls.
Academy Award-winningdirector, Roger Ross Williams (Music By Prudence, God Loves Uganda) will be on-hand for the debut of his latest documentary The Apollo chronicling the unique history and contemporary legacy of New York City’s landmark Apollo Theater.
Panels and Awards:
BlackStar will present the Luminary Award to Marcia Smith, President of Firelight Media.
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of Do The Right Thing, filmmakerSpike Lee and activist Tarana Burke will discuss the possibilities of using radical storytelling to center social justice and foster narrative change.
A rainy night. A dazed and numb young cabdriver, Luz, drags herself into the brightly lit entrance of a rundown police station. Across town in a nightspot, Nora seductively engages police psychiatrist Dr. Rossini in a conversation. Nora is possessed by a demonic entity, longing for the woman it loves – Luz. She tells the Doctor about her old schoolmate Luz’s rebellious past at a Chilean school for girls. Increasingly drunk on her story, Rossini turns into an easy prey in Nora’s hands, but he’s soon called away to the police station to examine Luz. Supervised by his colleagues, the doctor puts Luz in a state of hypnosis that initiates a series of flashbacks, unfolding the events leading to her arrival. But the entity that has taken control of the doctor wants something more. Bit by bit it slips into Luz’ reenactment and makes old memories come to light. Shooting entirely on 16mm, first time feature film director Tilman Singer pays homage to horror masters David Cronenberg, Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci, while infusing the genre with a fresh take of his own.Director Tilman Singer stops by to talk about his mind-bending, trip through a fevered tale of “demonic” possession, ruptured identity and menacing dread.
”LUZ is a story about identity, a lack of one, or maybe even denying one’s own. For the most part this is told by forces (archetypal characters, institutions, or personifications of moral arguments) influencing and manipulating our titular character Luz. I structured the narrative as a panic attack, of repressed memories and confusion. It is purposely open to interpretation by the viewer.LUZ is a sensuous thriller that plays with the sensory perception of the audience. Initially, I wanted to write a simple story that could only be told audio-visually. How we ended up telling it cinematically, nested within diegetic flashbacks, got a little more complicated. For example, we use an additional layer of sound that adds a past reality to a present one. Given that we are observing a moment relived under hypnosis,the credibility of both realities is questioned at all times. The viewer who attempts to answer this question of credibility has to, with sharpened senses, fully engage in image and sound.”
“Working with very little resources, (writer/director) Singer creates a wholly unique story of possession, obsession, loneliness, manipulation, and ultimately self-destruction that is incredibly ambitious and impressively executed.” – Rob Dean, Daily Grindhouse
“Though there’s a split in audiences around what constitutes horror … the one thing that’s agreed upon is that the genre seeks to unsettle and provoke. In this regard, Singer’s Luz is an undeniable triumph.” – Douglas Davidson, Elements of Madness
ENDZEIT – EVER AFTER, is apost-apocalyptic feminist gothic fairy tale that takes place two years after zombies have overrun Earth. Two young women, Vivi (Gro Swantje Kohlhof) and Eva (Maja Lehrer), develop an unlikely friendship in order to survive. They are stranded in the no-man’s land of the Black Forest where they have to rely on each other and on nature, while in search of a more humane world. But their survival has also unleashed demons from their past that they must confront. In the end, love arises not only for each other, but also for the fantastic natural world surrounding them. According to the director Carolina Hellsgård:“ENDZEIT – EVER AFTER reflects upon our future existence, how we choose to live, and what our options will be in a world where nature strikesback. The aesthetics are inspired by the quirky and refreshing style of Olivia Vieweg’s graphic novel, which the script is based on.”
About the filmmaker:Carolina Hellsgård is a writer-director, born in Sweden and based in Berlin. She studied experimental media design at the Berlin University of Arts and film directing and screenwriting at Cal Arts in Los Angeles. Her critically acclaimed debut feature film WANJA premiered at the Berlinale 2015 and was nominated for Berlinale Best First Feature Award. It won Best Screenplay (Valletta Film Festival) and Best Feature Film Debut at the Biberacher Filmfestspiele. She is currently in post-production for the feature film project SUNBURNED.
“The alternating light and darkness here, and throughout “Ever After,” is a wonderful leitmotif for the women’s labyrinthian path, the journey of heroes.” – Maria GarciaLos Angeles Times
“A post-apocalyptic film, although fictional alludes to the reality we face today as nature begins to wreak its revenge on an out-of-control civilization.” – Louis ProyectCounterpunch.org
“Endzeit has definitely become one of my favorite films of the year, and one of my favorites of the genre. It is a refreshing take on not only these horrific creatures but also the meaning behind them and the apocalypse they bring.” – Stephanie ArcherFilm Inquiry
“It’s this ecological theme that leads to some truly inspired visuals which sustain the film until its unexpected, conciliatory conclusion. Endzeit is an unbalanced film, to be sure, but proof nonetheless of zombies’ enduring relevance in horror cinema.” – Christopher MachellCineVue
An expectant couple’s intimate weekend turns to terror when they discover their secluded country inn is a haunted maternity home where unwanted infants and mothers were murdered. Inspired by the true story of the infamous ‘Butterbox Babies’,THE CHILD REMAINS is a twisting supernatural thriller and homage to slow-burn vintage horror like The Shining, Rosemary’s Baby and Session 9. Starring Cannes’ Best Actress winner Suzanne Clement (Mommy), Allan Hawco (Hyena Road), Shelley Thompson (Labyrinth) and genre hero Geza Kovacs (Scanners, The Dead Zone), THE CHILDREMAINS is a character-driven, psychological scary movie for adults that will leave audiences breathless. Director Michael Melski stops by to talk about the real-life horror story behind THE CHILD REMAINS, filming in his hometown in beautiful Nova Scotia and putting together a first rate cast of accomplished actors.
CHARLIE SAYS, follows three women whose names have become synonymous with the murders of that shocked a nation and the man who ordered them on their deadly spree, Charles Manson. The women – Leslie Van Houten (Hannah Murray), Patricia Krenwinkel (Sosie Bacon), and Susan Atkins (Marianne Rendón) – remained under the spell of the infamous cult leader (Matt Smith) for years. Confined to an isolated cellblock in a California penitentiary, the trio seem destined to live out the rest of their lives under the delusion that their crimes were part of a cosmic plan, until empathetic graduate student Karlene Faith (Merritt Wever) is enlisted to rehabilitate them. Convinced the prisoners are not the inhuman monsters the world believes them to be, Karlene begins the arduous process of breaking down the psychological barriers erected by Manson. But are the women ready to confront the horror of what they did? In CHARLIE SAYS, boundary pushing auteur Mary Harron (American Psycho, I Shot Andy Warhol) presents a provocative new perspective on one of the most notorious crimes of the 20th century.Director Mary Harron joins us to talk about how these seemingly sane, likable young woman could have committed such hideous crimes and why it drove her to tell their stories.
“This is a stunning piece of American cinema that draws on the events in California to talk about the death of an era, to foreshadow a nation’s loss of hope.” – Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film
“What makes Charlie Says so original is its perspective and its willingness to depict the banality and absurdity of life with Manson rather than simply to portray him as the quintessence of evil.” – Geoffrey Macnab, Independent
“Charlie Says is absorbing if only intermittently effective, but it has the distinction of bringing a female gaze to arguably the most notorious crime spree in American history.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
For the last 20 years the Newport Beach Film Festival has brought the best of classic and contemporary filmmaking from around the world to Orange County. Under the direction of CEO and Co-founder Gregg Schwenk and the festival’s staff have been committed to entertaining and enlightening the public with a first-class international film program as well as providing a forum for cultural understanding and enriching educational opportunities, the Festival focuses on showcasing a diverse collection of both studio and independent films. The Festival supports the creation and advancement of innovative and artistic cinematic works from both emerging and seasoned filmmakers and proudly embraces the passion, vision and independent spirit of these talented artists. With the integration of the local community and educational institutions, the Festival stimulates an interest in the study and appreciation of film and encourages people of all ages and backgrounds to participate. The Community Outreach Program was created with the idea that film offers new perspectives and possibilities for a changing world. Each year, the Festival partners with over 40 non-profit organizations and pairs each philanthropic organization with a film that aligns with their mission. The Festival gives non-profit organizations a forum to voice their message to large audiences and spread awareness of their organization and mission through the medium of film. Areas of focus include the arts, health and human services, the environment, education, children’s causes, seniors’ and veterans’ programs, and alumni clubs. CEO and Co-founder Gregg Schwenk joins us to talk about a remarkable festival line-up of comedies, dramas, short films, action sports, classics, documentaries, musicals and foreign film excellence.
Reed (Christopher Abbott) is going on a business trip. He kisses his wife and infant son goodbye, but in lieu of a suitcase filled with clothes, he’s packed a toothbrush and a murder kit. Everything is meticulously planned: check into a hotel and kill an unsuspecting victim. Only then will he rid himself of his devious impulses and continue to be a good husband and father. But Reed gets more than he bargained for with Jackie (Mia Wasikowska), an alluring call girl who arrives at his room. First, they relax and get in the mood, but when there’s an unexpected disruption, the balance of control begins to sway back and forth between the two. Is he seeing things? Who’s playing whom? Before the night is over, a feverish nightmare will unfold, and Reed and Jackie will seal their bond in blood. Based on the critically acclaimed cult novel by Ryu Murakami, Director Nicolas Pesce (THE EYES OF MY MOTHER) talks about how he was able to blend psychological horror with comedy and stylish neo-noir, resulting in a sly take on the fantasy of escape and the hazards of modern romance.
“Piercing is a quirky and nasty black comedy, essentially a two-hander-so if you don’t mind spending an hour and twenty minutes with a deranged duo doing their twisted tango, then, by all means, tune in.” – Staci Layne Wilson, We Live Entertainment
“Piercing is an unnerving mix of loveliness and lunacy.” – Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine
“What a deliciously demented and disturbing drama Nicolas Pesce’s “Piercing” is, dripping with gore and laden with forbidden innuendo.” – Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service
“Pesce deploys a potent arsenal of stylistic tools – urban landscape miniatures, plushly disquieting Lynchian interiors, flashbacks, creature effects, and florid gore – to tell the story of Reed.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
Up a dirt road, nestled in the hills of Southern California lies Spiral Farm, a vibrant and colorful intentional community inspired by the communes of the late 60’s. Its eclectic inhabitants look out for each other, as they work side by side on this completely self sustaining permaculture farm. 17 year-old Anahita (Piper De Palma), has lived on Spiral Farm for as long as she can remember and dreams of one day leaving the safety of Spiral and pursuing a career as a dancer. However, whenever she makes these plans she is always deterred by the thought of leaving Ocean, her eight year old nephew who she cares for and shares a deep bond with. Stifled by her responsibilities to her family and the commune, Anahita has developed what her mother (Amanda Plummer) calls a “bashfulness” when it comes to sexuality. When her mother’s old flame, Maurizio (Cosimo Fusco) arrives for an unexpected visit, he brings along his teenage son, Theo (Teo Halm). Anahita is immediately drawn to him, confused by her newfound feelings. When Theo discovers her passion for dance he encourages her to journey into the city for an audition. Away from the confines of the communes, Anahita discovers that although she lacks the technical skills to be a professional dancer, she may still be able to leave Spiral by going to college in the city changing the course of her life. But will Anahita, who has been so dedicated to others chose to live for herself? Director and writer Alex Tibaldi joins us to talk about his feature film debut and his intimate, moving character study of women in transition, searching for meaningful connections.
BEHIND THE BULLET is the directorial debut from author and activist, Heidi Yewman. When her former basketball coach and teacher, Dave Sanders was killed in the Columbine High School massacre along with 12 students, she began profiling the lives of those altered by the impact of gun violence. She is a tireless advocate for gun safety, sitting on the boards of The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence,Women Donors Network,Stop our Shootings, and Trauma Intervention Program of Portland, OR. In BEHIND THE BULLET will make it’s world debut as a documentary competition selection at the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival, Yewman chronicles anin-depth look at four individuals who have pulled the trigger and the profound impact it’s had on their lives. Every year, almost 40,000 people are shot and killed in America. Each shooting devastates and forever changes the victim’s family and friends. BEHIND THE BULLET explores a side of gun violence that’s rarely talked about – the impact a shooting has on the shooter. Four individuals share how the pull of a trigger, changed them emotionally, physically, psychologically, and spiritually. They describe the conflicting emotions and moral injury that comes after a self-defense, accidental, or unintentional shooting, offering a new and unbiased perspective on gun violence. Director Heidi Yewman joins us to talk about the devastating impacts that guns and the profound impact they have had on four people’s lives.
“BEHIND THE BULLET is a captivating and honest look at what is going on in our country when it comes to gun control.It looks at all sides of the issue that sometimes the media does not discuss or cover.This is a must see film in our current climate.” — Peter Hammond, Deadline
“Behind The Bullet is just WOW – an amazing insight into what we are dealing with in the U.S.It’s a refreshing insight and a story that needs to be told.”— Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter
This Teacher, Actor Kevin Kane (Director Mark Jackson)
THIS TEACHER follows a French Muslim woman (Cesar-winner Hafsia Herzi) as she travels to New York City to visit her childhood best friend from the rough neighborhoods outside of Paris. When the reunion proves disastrous, Hafsia steals her friend’s credit card and identity, and disappears to a remote cabin upstate. Deep in the woods and alone for the first time in her life, she experiences a divine revelation of an existence without borders. But when she discovers that she’s not alone on the property, Hafsia’s sojourn in nature gradually descends into a terrifying study of the intolerance and suspicion she encounters and reflects back to an Islamophobic America. Written and directed by Mark Jackson featuring a score composed from the Grammy nominated Dave Eggar, the film stars: Cesar-winner Hafsia Herzi (The Secret of theGrain) Sarah Kazemy (Circumstance) Lucy Walters (Power), Kevin Kane (Inside Amy Schumer), and Lev Gorn (The Americans). Jackson’s previous films have won 17 awards including an Independent Spirit Award and a Gotham Nomination. Jackson is also a Sundance, Cinereach and Skywalker Sound Fellow. Actor Kevin Kane joins us for a conversation on THIS TEACHER’S closing night screening at the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival, intolerance and not being afraid to love.
Driven by a virtuoso performance by Mads Mikkelsen ARCTIC tells the story of aman stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the relative safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown in hopes of making it out alive. Director Joe Penna stops by to talk about co-writing the minimalist script with Ryan Morrison, the remarkable performance by Mads Mikkelsen and the rigors of shooting in an inhospitably windy and frigid location.
“It’s broad stuff, and well-trod terrain for a movie that takes place in uncharted territory, but it cuts straight to the difference between endurance and survival.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire
“There are no cut corners, no overly blatant only-in-the-movies gambits. Mikkelsen’s stranded pilot has little to rely on beyond his will, so we feel at every step that he could truly be us.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“Arctic is elegantly shot, crisp and unfussy, and seamless in its near-invisible use of digital effects, creating a persuasive you-are-there feeling that’s rare in these days of flashy CG thrills.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
“Mikkelsen takes commanding centre stage in a guilty-pleasure survival drama with global ambitions.” – Kevin Maher, Times (UK)
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.
From the creator of the Final Destination franchise comes a new tale of death. Following the passing of his father, Aaron Hammond (Michael Welsh) returns to his hometown to help his devastated mother (Lin Shaye) and to confront his past demons. Sifting through his father’s belongings, Aaron comes upon a mysterious item that is far more than it seems. The Final Wish Director Timothy Woodward Jr. and lead actor Michael Welsh joins us for a conversation on continuing the cinematic legacy of Final Destination and bringing a creative energy to a familiar story of demonic possession, family struggles and reckoning with the past.
“If you’re looking for a spooky little flick that forges some new ground against a backdrop of familiar terror tropes, The Final Wish will grant you that.” – Steve Barton, Brainwaves
“The Final Wish is an easy watch, fun and simple. It’s perfect for that night when you just want to sit back, relax and enjoy.” – Staci Layne Wilson, We Live Entertainment
“There’s still a lot to The Final Wish that I really appreciated and enjoyed, and it would make for a killer double feature with Wish Upon.” – Heather Wilson, Daily Dead
“THE FINAL WISH is yet another example of taking a low budget and bringing a fresh new take on a familiar storyline. It offers a well written script and a cast worth investing in.” – Jimmy O, Movie Emporium
Lunacy Productions helmed by prolific producer Stu Pollard is excited debut for you their latest film “Rust Creek,” which is being distributed theatrically by IFC Midnight beginning January 11th, 2019.“Rust Creek” starring Hermione Corfield (“Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”), Jay Paulson (“Mad Me”), Sean O’Bryan (“Olympus Has Fallen”), Micah Hauptman (“Homeland”), Daniel R. Hills (“The Resident”), Jeremy Glazer (“Letters From Iwo Jima”), and John Marshall Jones (Con Air”); chronicles the presence of mind and skill an ordinary woman, utilizes while summoning extraordinary courage to survive a nightmare odyssey in this harrowing survival thriller. Thisfilm takes the woman in jeopardy premise and turns it on its head with agility and smarts. This is the latest female driven (both in front of & behind the camera) film from Pollard & his team at Lunacy. Lunacy’s teamareincrediblycommitted to supporting gender parity in filmmaking, producing several films featuring female protagonists (This Is Home, Rust Creek, Short History, Plus One) and working with female filmmakers like Jen McGowan (“Rust Creek”), Ani Simon Kennedy (“Short History of the Long Road”), and documentarian Alex Shiva (“This Is Home: A Refugee Story”) among others. Half of the department heads on “Rust Creek”are women and for many of the female crew, “Rust Creek”was their first feature film or their first opportunity in an elevated position (including DP Michelle Lawler, make-up artist Allie Shehorn, art director Priyanka Guterres, and postproduction supervisor Alex Jensen). Pollard has also directed two features: NICE GUYS SLEEP ALONE and KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. In his spare time he teaches at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and Film Independent. He holds a degree in business from Georgetown and an MFA in film from USC, is a member of the DGA and PGA, and serves on the boards of the Louisville Film Society and GU’s Alumni Board of Governors. Director, producer and head of Lunacy Productions Stu Pollard joins us to talk about his company’s commitment to gender equity on both sides of the camera.
Rust Creek is a gripping tale of an ordinary woman who must summon extraordinary courage to survive a nightmare odyssey. Sawyer (Hermione Corfield) is an ambitious, overachieving college senior with a seemingly bright future. While on her way to a job interview, a wrong turn leaves her stranded deep in the frozen Kentucky woods. Suddenly, the young woman with everything to live for finds herself facing her own mortality as she’s punished by the elements and pursued by a band of ruthless outlaws Hollister (Micah Hauptman) and Buck (Daniel Hill). With nowhere left to run, she is forced into an uneasy alliance with Lowell (Jay Paulson), an enigmatic loner with shadowy intentions. Though she’s not sure she can trust him, Sawyer must take a chance if she hopes to escape Rust Creek alive. Director Jen McGowan joins us to talk about her multi-faceted, nuanced “woman in distress” storyline and her decision to work with a predominantly female crew.
“Fighting off a bunch of backwoods yokels is nothing new to horror movies, but somehow Rust Creek makes this old tale feel fresh and tense.” – Deirdre CrimminsHighDef Digest
“Rust Creek, in addition to its success as a thriller, also has a strong emotional core in its consistent admonishment of amorality and apathy, a deceptively layered thriller that touches upon the inherent horror in being a woman.” – Christina TuckerFilm Inquiry
“…what looks on the surface to be a film we’ve seen a thousand times, turns out to be a multi-layered, multifaceted convolution of curve balls and metaphor.” – Amyana BartleyQBP Reviews