GUNDA – Director Victor Kossakovsky

Where his prior film, the acclaimed epic AQUARELA, was a reminder of the fragility of human tenure on earth, in GUNDA, master filmmaker Viktor Kossakovsky reminds us that we share our planet with billions of other animals. Through encounters with a mother sow (the eponymous Gunda), two ingenious cows, and a scene-stealing, one-legged chicken, Kossakovsky movingly recalibrates our moral universe, reminding us of the inherent value of life and the mystery of all animal consciousness, including our own.  Experiential cinema in its purest form, GUNDA chronicles the unfiltered lives of a mother pig, a flock of chickens, and a herd of cows with masterful intimacy. Using stark, transcendent black and white cinematography and the farm’s ambient soundtrack, Master director Victor Kossakowsky invites the audience to slow down and experience life as his subjects do, taking in their world with a magical patience and an other worldly perspective. GUNDA asks us to meditate on the mystery of animal consciousness, and reckon with the role humanity plays in it.

 

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For news and updates go to: gunda.movie

For GUNDA theatrical release go to: neonrated.com/films/gunda

“GUNDA is a mesmerizing perspective on sentience within animal species, normally – and perhaps purposely – hidden from our view. Displays of pride and reverence, amusement and bliss at a pig’s inquisitive young; her panic, despair and utter defeat in the face of cruel trickery, are validations of just how similarly all species react and cope with events in our respective lives. Victor Kossakovsky has crafted a visceral meditation on existence that transcends the normal barriers that separate species. It is a film of profound importance and artistry.” – Executive producer Joaquin Phoenix

Director’s Statement – Growing up I was very much a city kid, but at the age of four I spent a few months in a village in the countryside, where I met my best friend Vasya. He was much younger than me – just a few weeks old when we met – but over time he became my dearest friend and the times we spent together are some of the most cherished memories from my childhood. One day, when we were still young, Vasya was killed and served as pork cutlets for a New Year’s Eve dinner. I was devastated and immediately became (probably) the first vegetarian kid in the Soviet Union. As a consequence, since I became a filmmaker I have always wanted to make a film about the creatures with whom we share the earth, a film about animals as living, feeling beings in their own right. I wanted to make a film without patronizing or humanizing them, without any sentimentality, and without vegan propaganda. However, as the film I had in mind is not about dolphins, elephants, pandas or other cute animals we love to love, it was impossible to finance. I tried for almost three decades until I finally met Norwegian producer Anita Rehoff Larsen from Sant & Usant who took the risk on making it. We were unbelievably lucky to meet Gunda in the Norwegian countryside on the very first day of our research trip. Gunda is on the screen for over half of the runtime of the final film and is an extraordinarily powerful character – you do not need an interpreter to understand her emotions and experiences. As such I decided to make this film without any captions, voice-over, or music, you just need to watch it and allow yourself to feel. For me, the essence of cinema is showing, not telling. I do not make films if I want to tell an audience something I have no interest in prescribing an opinion. I make films if there is something I want people to see and to allow them to find their own conclusion. Documentary cinema is a great tool to show the realities of the world, to show things that we do not see by ourselves, that we do not want to see, or that we have collectively agreed that we do not see, and so we allow ourselves not to think about. With GUNDA I want people to see these animals as sentient beings and to encourage them to think about the possibility of their consciousness and selfhood. With that I feel that GUNDA is the most personal and important film I have made as a filmmaker and as a human being. – Victor Kossakovsky

NOMINEE – Best Feature – IDA Documentary Awards 2021
FEATURES SHORTLIST – DOC NYC 2020
TOP 10 FILM OF THE YEAR – The New York Times

“GUNDA is pure cinema. This is a film to take a bath in – it’s stripped to its essential elements, without any interference. It’s what we should all aspire to as filmmakers and audiences – pictures and sound put together to tell a powerful and profound story without rush. It’s jaw dropping images and sound put together with the best ensemble cast and you have something more like a potion than a movie.” – Paul Thomas Anderson

98% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Sublimely beautiful and profoundly moving, it offers you the opportunity to look – at animals, yes, but also at qualities that are often subordinated in narratively driven movies, at textures, shapes and light.” – Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“Kossakosky’s achingly beautiful black-and-white documentary is ground-breaking and wondrous for its intimacy,” – Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Toronto

“”Gunda” may be a meditational slow-burn, but as it unfurls its immersive audiovisual tapestry it hovers between non-fiction observation and lyrical insight, and to that end feels like an advancement of the nature documentary form.” – Eric Kohn, indieWire

“It is hard to fully articulate how, but Gunda is as much a damning meditation on the human condition as it is a glowing, thought-provoking portrayal of a mother’s love for her children, a sow’s love for her piglets.” – Matthew Anderson, CineVue

Moffie – Director Oliver Hermanus

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Days of the Bagnold Summers – Director Simon Bird

Based on the critically acclaimed graphic novel, DAYS OF THE BAGNOLD SUMMER is a funny yet sweet coming-of-age story about single motherhood and Metallica. Daniel (Earl Cave) was supposed to spend the summer with his dad and his dad’s new wife in Florida, but when his dad cancels the trip Daniel and his mom, Sue, (Monica Dolan) suddenly face the prospect of six long weeks together. An epic war of wills ensues in their suburban home as Daniel just wants to listen to heavy metal and start a band while his mom hopes to rekindle the fun times they used to have together. Featuring original songs by Belle and Sebastian. Director Simon Bird joins us for a conversation on his beautifully rendered tale of a sullen, insecure teen and his effervescent single mom doing her best to keep moving forward in a world that is pelting her with cheap shots and exasperating insults. 

 

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For news and updates go to: days-of-the-bagnold-summer

About the filmmaker – Director Simon Bird’s first short film, Ernestine and Kit, premiered at South By Southwest, and was nominated for Best Short at the Irish Film and Television Awards. Previously, Simon has worked as a stand-up comedian, writer, producer, and actor. As a writer, he created The King Is Dead for the BBC and co-created Chickens for Sky, which was nominated for Best Sitcom at the Broadcast Awards. As a producer, he set up Guilty Party Pictures, a TV and film production company backed by RED and Studiocanal. Guilty Party has produced content for Channel 4, Sky and the BBC, and recently wrapped on How Europe Stole My Mum, an original TV show for Channel 4, to air later this year.  As an actor, Simon has starred in five series of Rose D’Or-winning sitcom Friday Night Dinner. The sixth series shoots later this year. He is perhaps best known as Will McKenzie from Channel 4’s BAFTA-winning sitcom THE INBETWEENERS, THE INBETWEENERS MOVIE, which is the highest-grossing comedy film ever in the UK, and THE INBETWEENERS 2, which had the highest-grossing opening weekend of any film in the UK in 2014. Simon has won multiple British Comedy Awards and been nominated for a BAFTA and Royal Television Society award for acting. 

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90% on Rotten Tomatoes

“[A] funny, acerbic, yet surprisingly tender film…” – Mark Kermode, Observer (UK)

“Bird and writer Lisa Owens manage not only to mine repeated laughs from their basic gag – metal mayhem in Hornchurch Drive – but to do so sweetly rather than tweely.” – Danny Leigh, Financial Times

“An unexpectedly gentle and pensive portrait of a strained relationship between a mother and a son.” – Wendy Ide, Screen International

“Far closer in spirit to the lighter works of Mike Leigh than the broader material that made him a well known figure in British comedy, Bird’s debut is innately humanistic, with cross-generational appeal.” – Alistair Ryder, Film Inquiry

Dear Comrades! – Director Andrei Konchalovsky and Lead Actor Julia Vysotskaya

DEAR COMRADES! is based on a true story surrounding a strike by factory workers on June 1st and 2nd, 1962 in the city of Novocherkassk. The raising of food prices and the lowering of wages at the local factory led to a spontaneous uprising by thousands of area residents that eventually leading to violent reaction by local and federal officials. The events of those two days was kept secret until the nineties. DEAR COMRADES! focuses on the life and family of Lyudmila (Julia Vysotskaya) is a Party executive and devout communist who had fought in WWII for Stalin’s ideology. Certain that her work will create a communist society, the woman detests any anti-Soviet sentiment. During a strike at the local electromotive factory, Lyudmila witnesses a laborers’ piquet gunned down under orders from the government that seeks to cover up mass labor strikes in USSR. After the bloodbath, when survivors flee from the square, Lyudmila realizes her daughter has disappeared. A gaping rift opens in her worldview. Despite the blockade of the city, mass arrests, and the authorities’ attempts to cover up the massacre, Lyudmila searches for her daughter. We don’t know how the search will end, but realize that the woman’s life won’t ever be the same. Director Andrei Konchalovsky (Uncle Vanya, Siberiade, Runaway Train, The Inner Circle) and lead actor Julia Vysotskaya join us for a conversation on the importance of telling an unknown story, the role of art and storytelling and how Lyuda’s saga reflexes a broader perspective on Soviet-era repression.

 

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For news and updates go to: neonrated.com/films/dear-comrades

Russia’s official submission to the 2021 Academy Awards® for Best International Film

Director’s Statement – The process of making films about the 1960s is increasingly becoming the process of restoring the historical authenticity of the era, a fairly difficult task all in itself. Recently we’ve been seeing plenty of films where the 60s-70s-80s of the 20th century look fake and contrived, without any resemblance to the Soviet films made at the time, like “The Great Cranes Are Flying” or “Ballad of a Soldier”. So, my goal was to scrupulously and in great detail reproduce the era of the USSR’s 1960s. I think that the Soviet people of post-war time, the ones who fought in the WWII until victory, deserve to have a movie that pays tribute to their purity and the tragic dissonance that followed the realization of how different the communist ideals were from the reality around them. – Andrei Konchalovsky

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“KONCHALOVSKY’S MASTERPIECE. The artistry is calm, controlled, persuasively detailed… Catch it if you can. Beautiful and damning, DEAR COMRADES! is also an act of remembrance.” – Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

“A scintillating, surgical exposé of Khrushchev-era oppression… A 1962 massacre in the Soviet Union is reclaimed from its historical cover-up by Andrei Konchalovsky’s pristine, extraordinary drama… Perversely beautiful and coldly furious… meticulous and majestic, epic in scope and tattoo-needle intimate in effect.” – Jessica Kiang,  Variety

“Now in his 80s, Andrei Konchalovsky, the veteran Russian director… has made one of his most Russian, and most accomplished, latter-day films… Carried off with evocative precision and a cannily underplayed emotional tug. The drama keeps a well-calibrated balance between political horror, the matter-of-fact texture of everyday life, and the rhetoric that keeps the Soviet machinery oiled – and that Lyuda is struggling to see through. The film’s magnetic centre is a strong performance from Vysotskaya, working from a base line of initial testiness to rising anxiety and terror in face of the oppression that she realizes she has been enabling.” – Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily

“Although at first sight this dramatization of a 1962 strike at a factory in the U.S.S.R. may seem a long way from the interests of contemporary audiences, it is surprising how much resonance the film has with the political struggles of our own time. much credit due to Julia Vysotskaya and her uncommonly gripping perf in the main role.” – Deborah Young, – The Hollywood Reporter

The Reason I Jump – Director Jerry Rothwell

THE REASON I JUMP is an immersive cinematic exploration of neuro-diversity through the experiences of non-speaking autistic people from around the world, based on the best-selling book by Naoki Higashida. The film blends Higashida’s revelatory insights into autism, written when he was just 13, with intimate portraits of five remarkable young people. It opens a window for audiences into an intense and overwhelming, but often joyful, sensory universe. Moments in the lives of each of the characters are linked by the journey of a young Japanese boy through an epic landscape; narrated passages from Naoki’s writing reflect on what his autism means to him and others, how his perception of the world differs, and why he acts in the way he does: the reason he jumps. THE REASON I JUMP distills these elements into a sensually rich tapestry that leads us to Naoki’s core message: not being able to speak does not mean there is nothing to say. Director Jerry Rothwell stops by to talk about his deeply empathetic look into the lives of people with autism from around the world, with each story broadening our perspective and understanding of what it means to be a neuro-diverse person. 

 

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For news and updates go to: the-reason-i-jump

About the filmmaker – Jerry Rothwell is a filmmaker whose work includes the award-winning feature documentaries: The Reason I Jump, based on the bestselling book by Naoki Higashida; How To Change The World, about the founders of Greenpeace; Sour Grapes (co-directed with Reuben Atlas) a film about a wine counterfeiter Town of Runners, about two girls in an Ethiopian village who aspire to be athletes; Donor Unknown, about a sperm donor and his many offspring; School In The Cloud, about radical educationalist, Sugata Mitra; Heavy Load, about a group of people with learning disabilities who form a punk band, and Deep Water (co-directed with Louise Osmond), about Donald Crowhurst’s ill-fated voyage in the 1968 round the world yacht race. His work has won numerous accolades including two Grierson Awards, a Sundance Special Jury Prize, an RTS Award, the IDA Pare Lorentz Award and a BAFTA nomination.

About the writer (The Reason I Jump) – Naoki Higashida was born in Kimitsu, Japan in 1992. Diagnosed with severe autism when he was five, he subsequently learned to communicate using a handmade alphabet grid and began to write poems and short stories. At the age of thirteen he wrote The Reason I Jump, which was published in Japan in 2007. Its English translation came out in 2013, and it has now been published in more than thirty languages. Higashida has since published several books in Japan, including children’s and picture books, poems, and essays. He continues to give presentations throughout Japan about his experience of autism.

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WINNER – World Cinema Documentary Audience Award – Sundance FF 2020 
NOMINEE – Best Cinematography – Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards 2020
NOMINEE – Best Feature – IDA Documentary Awards 2020
NOMINEE – Best Director – IDA Documentary Awards 2020 NOMINEE – Best Documentary – British Independent Film Awards 2020

100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Wondrous… A work that enlightens and informs but that is also ravishing

to behold.” – Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter

“While The Reason I Jump is a profound and moving experience, one that isn’t easy to forget, it’s most effective when operating as an experimental work.” – John Fink, The Film Stage

“An inventive, sensuous documentary worthy of its source… This compassionate, creative documentary will open ears and eyes in equal measure.” – Guy Lodge, Variety

“Exquisite… All aspects of this film deserve praise.” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen

Colette, Director Wash Westmoreland

After marrying a successful Parisian writer known commonly as “Willy” (Dominic West), Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette (Keira Knightley) is transplanted from her childhood home in rural France to the intellectual and artistic splendor of Paris. Soon after, Willy convinces Colette to ghostwrite for him. She pens a semi-autobiographical novel about a witty and brazen country girl named Claudine, sparking a bestseller and a cultural sensation. After its success, Colette and Willy become the talk of Paris and their adventures inspire additional Claudine novels. Colette’s fight over creative ownership and gender roles drives her to overcome societal constraints, revolutionizing literature, fashion and sexual expression. Director and screenwriter Wash Westmoreland stops by to talk about the story behind a remarkable trailblazing feminist, writer, performer and cultural icon whose influence has inspired artists for the last 100 years.

 

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For news and updates go to: bleeckerstreetmedia.com/colette

“Knightley is exceedingly well-equipped to carry this magnificent film on her own — an Oscar-nominated performance for sure.” – Jeanne Kaplan, Kaplan vs. Kaplan

“A witty, spirited portrait of the great French writer and libertine during the early Belle Époque years of her career.” – Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“This timely and gorgeously shot account of a beloved French writer foregrounds Colette’s remarkable freedom from conventional norms as she finds her artistic voice.” – Erica Abeel, Film Journal International

“At first presenting itself as a tightly corseted Big Eyes set during the Belle Époque, Colette erupts into a fun, frothy, and unmistakably feminist biopic.” – David Ehrlich, IndieWire

“The film has a towering performance from Keira Knightley, who plays Colette with such warmth and fiery feminism, that it would be hard not to make woman’s past run parallel with today’s world.” – Jordan Ruimy, The Playlist

Carrie Lozano, Director IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund

The International Documentary Association (IDA) is dedicated to building and serving the needs of a thriving documentary culture. Through its programs, the IDA provides resources, creates community, and defends rights and freedoms for documentary artists, activists, and journalists. IDA is the only group advocating specifically for the documentary filmmaking community. In many ways, this makes IDA’s advocacy work the most important and relevant work we do. Documentary storytelling expands our understanding of shared human experience, fostering an informed, compassionate, and connected world. The Enterprise Documentary Fund is one of the many logistical and financial programs offered by IDA.

About the Enterprise Documentary Fund: 

In the face of an all-out assault on the press, IDA is committed to standing behind the independent storytellers and watchdogs that make up our community—in large part, through the newly created Enterprise Documentary Fund. Made possible by a generous grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the fund will disburse $1 million per year for the next four years, in the form of production grants up to $100,000 and development grants up to $15,000. The fund is intended to support primarily mid-career filmmakers producing feature-length, in-depth explorations of original, contemporary stories with a journalistic foundation or that incorporate journalistic practice into the filmmaking process. The mission of the Enterprise Documentary Fund is admittedly ambitious: It seeks to provide valuable resources and support systems (not unlike those in newsrooms) for filmmakers taking on the critical stories of our time. Originally sparked by the findings in “Dangerous Documentaries,” the fund is a response to pleas from filmmakers themselves. In interviews recently conducted by Toni Bell, IDA’s Filmmaker Services Manager, filmmakers reiterated the major findings in “Dangerous Docs”: They want access to information about digital and physical security, research databases, legal and other experts, public relations strategists and mentors. Exercising our rights to free speech and freedom of the press are critical for a healthy democracy. As I write this, these rights are clearly under assault, and we owe it to ourselves and to the public to staunchly call ourselves journalists and artists—they are not mutually exclusive.”Carrie Lozano, Director of the Enterprise Documentary Fund

 

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For news and updates go to: documentary.org

For updates on funding resources go to: documentary.org/funding

Half the Picture, Director Amy Adrion

HALF THE PICTURE celebrates the groundbreaking work of female film directors and investigates the systemic discrimination that has, for decades, denied opportunities to far too many talented women in Hollywood. The film consists of interviews with high profile women directors including Ava DuVernay, Jill Soloway, Lena Dunham, Catherine Hardwicke and Miranda July, among many others, who discuss their early careers, how they transitioned to studio films or television, how they balance having a demanding directing career with family, as well as challenges and joys along the way. HALF THE PICTURE also includes interviews with experts about gender inequality in Hollywood including the ACLU’s Melissa Goodman, Sundance Institute’s Caroline Libresco, Vanity Fair’s Rebecca Keegan, USC’s Dr. Stacy Smith and San Diego State University’s Dr. Martha Lauzen, who establish the magnitude of this employment discrimination issue as women are shut out, across the board, of an industry that systemically denies their expression and point of view. HALF THE PICTURE Director / Producer Amy Adrion joins us to talk about a unique time in the film industry where systemic change seems possible and whether, unlike previous efforts to address gender inequality in Hollywood, will this time be different?

 

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For news and updates go to: halfthepicture.com

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100% on Rotten Tomatoes

“Half the Picture is a vital, comprehensive documentary on a subject that’s so fundamental to the industry it’s about, you have to wonder why dozens of movies on this scale or bigger haven’t already been made.” – Leslie Felperin

“Half The Picture is an inspiring, important documentary that should be seen by as many people as possible, particularly those who aren’t aware of the problems women face in Hollywood.” – Manon de Reeper, Film Inquiry

“Half the Picture, Amy Adrion’s no-frills documentary, offers a diligent, straightforward overview of the innumerable obstacles facing today’s female directors, both aspiring and accomplished.” – Natalia Winkelman, Film Threat

“A platform for those who want to hear about the reality of being a woman in Hollywood from dozens of women who have lived it, it’s an invaluable resource.” – Rebecca Pahle, Film Journal International

“It’s experiential revelation as advocacy filmmaking, an incisive and inviting example of the personal as political.” – Serena Donadoni, Village Voice

Band of Robbers, co-director Aaron Nee

band-of-robbers poster 

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Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn are all grown up in this reimagined, modern day fable that finds them still searching for a hidden treasure that has eluded them since childhood. A modern-day retelling of Mark Twain’s iconic books, Band of Robbers is a comedic adventure that re-imagines the characters as grown men, and small-time crooks.  When Huck Finn is released from prison, he hopes to leave his criminal life behind, but his lifelong friend, and corrupt cop, Tom Sawyer, has other plans. Not ready to give up on his childhood fantasies, Tom forms the Band of Robbers, recruiting their misfit friends, Joe Harper and Ben Rogers, to join them for an elaborate plan to find a fabled treasure. But the plan soon unravels, thrusting the guys on a wild journey with dangerous consequences. Band of Robbers premiered to stellar reviews out of LA Film Festival this year and stars Kyle Gallner (American Sniper, Dear White People, The Finest Hours), Adam Nee (Drunk History), Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds, 500 Days of Summer, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou), Hannibal Buress (SNL Emmy-nominated writer, Broad City, Neighbors), Melissa Benoist (Glee, Supergirl), Daniel Mora (The Bridge), Eric Christian Olsen (NCIS: Los Angeles), and Stephen Lang (Avatar films, Salem). Co-director Aaron Nee stops by for a conversation on this kinetic, funny and entertaining feature debut film.

For news and updates go to: bandofrobbersmovie.com

Special appearance by directors and cast

NEW YORK: At the AMC EMPIRE 25 co-director Adam Nee and cast Kyle Gallner and Hannibal Buress will be doing a Q&A. (More details coming soon.) Later at the Nitehawk Cinema a special 12:25 AM screening will be introduced by Adam, Hannibal and Kyle.

LOS ANGELES: Co-director Aaron Nee, DP Noah Rosenthal and some of the cast will be doing a Q&A at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena at 7:10 PM. 

“A film that’s as hilarious as it is beautiful.” – Paste Magazine

“Wound tight by a killer premise, polished direction, and a tone as though Anton Chigurh sauntered into “Bottle Rocket.” – Indiewire

“A wonderfully absurd crime comedy.” – Playlist

“This comic take on “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” is infused with a gleefully absurdist sense of humor while retaining a childlike sense of wonder.” – Stephen Holden, New York Times