Andreas Koefoed’s THE LOST LEONARDO centers on the sale of Salvator Mundi (Savior of the World), a portrait of Christ purportedly by Leonardo da Vinci, which in 2017 was auctioned by Christie’s for $450 million, a world record for any work of art. The bizarre story of its provenance, the intrigue surrounding its multi-year restoration, and the worldwide controversy regarding its authenticity are all recounted in a non-stop narrative conflating art world drama, international politics, and high-level financial shenanigans. Art dealers, curators, FBI and CIA agents, journalists, restorers, historians, a Russian oligarch, a Saudi prince, and the director of the Louvre are drawn into this exciting -and revealing documentary that exposes the frictions inherent in the sale of great art. Unravelling the hidden agendas of the richest men and most powerful art institutions in the world, THE LOST LEONARDO reveals how vested interests in the Salvator Mundi are of such tremendous power that truth becomes secondary. As its price soars, so do questions about its authenticity: is this painting really by Leonardo da Vinci? Director Andreas Koefoed (Ballroom Dancer, The Arms Drop, At Home In The World) joins us to talk about tracking down the story behind this unbelievable story and if some of the remaining mysteries explored in the documentary will ever be fully revealed or understood.
About the filmmaker – Andreas Koefoed is a film director, born in 1979 in Copenhagen. He graduated in documentary direction from The National Film School of Denmark in 2009 and holds a BA in sociology from Copenhagen University. Koefoed has directed documentary films since 2001 with a focus on character driven human interest stories, among them Ballroom Dancer, The Arms Drop and At Home In The World. His films have been selected for film festivals across the world, winning numerous awards including at IDFA, CPH:DOX, Full Frame, AFI Docs, Sheffield Doc Fest and Tribeca. For more go to: andreaskoefoed.com
“A bona-fide cinema crowd-pleaser. A three-act morality play where qualms are scant and art world egos run riot in the face of wealth and power and raw, dripping greed.” – Fionnuala Halligan, Screen Daily
“This engrossing documentary plays like a great detective story. Plenty of unexpected twists and turns guarantee that you’ll get wrapped up.” – Mike McGranaghan, Aisle Seat
“A head-spinning yarn…populated by self-important art experts, steely-eyed Russian oligarchs, and haughty auction house owners whose only vested interest in the authenticity of the painting lies in how much they can get for it.” – Bill Newcott, The Saturday Evening Post
“As thrilling to watch as any fictional crime narrative, THE LOST LEONARDO is also a straightforward and unflinching indictment on the way power is brokered. A tightly structured film that never drags, only more exciting the deeper it pulls you in.” – Artemis Lin, The Film Stage
Using the eponymous 1978 best-selling book as its frame, THE MEANING OF HITLER is a provocative interrogation of our culture’s fascination with Hitler and Nazism set against the backdrop of the current rise of white supremacy, the normalization of anti-semitism and the weaponization of history itself. Shot in nine countries, the film traces Hitler’s movements, his rise to power and the scenes of his crimes as historians and writers, including Deborah Lipstadt, Martin Amis, Sir Richard Evans, Saul Friedlander, Yehuda Bauer, and famed Nazi hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, weigh in on the lasting impact of his virulent ideology. THE MEANING OF HITLER is an intellectual inquiry with burning present-day resonance. It is also a road trip through some of the darkest chapters of European history. As fears of authoritarianism and fascism now abound, the film explores the myths and misconceptions of our understanding of the past and the difficult process of coming to terms with it at a time in our history when it seems more urgent than ever. Co-directors Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker’s dynamic documentary examines the ways we think about the Holocaust — and the ways we choose not to. As one of those interviewees, novelist Martin Amis, observes, “Our understanding of Hitler is central to our self-understanding. It’s a reckoning you have to make if you’re a serious person.
About the filmmakers – Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker, aka Pepper & Bones, are a husband-and-wife team who work between New York and Berlin. Epperlein was born in Karl Marx City, GDR and began her professional life as an architect. Tucker was born in Honolulu, Hawaii and fell into camerawork after an accident on a factory trawler led him to pick up his first camera. They met in New York in 1994 and immediately began work on the THE LAST COWBOY—one of the earliest examples of digital film. Later travels took them to the African bush, the Australian outback, Cuba, and the Balkans until they stumbled upon their first documentary in the Iraq War. That film, GUNNER PALACE, premiered at Telluride and TIFF in 2004 and led them directly to their second feature, THE PRISONER OR: HOW I PLANNED TO KILL TONY BLAIR, which told the story of an Iraqi journalist seen arrested in GUNNER PALACE and later sent to Abu Ghraib. The film premiered at TIFF in 2006 and was later nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. In 2007, they captured the life of a German armored car salesman in BULLETPROOF SALESMAN against the backdrop of spiraling violence (and demand) in Iraq and Afghanistan. Returning to Americain 2008, they followed the soldiers of GUNNERP ALACE home in HOW TO FOLD A FLAG, which premiered at TIFF in 2009. One of the characters in that film led them to the world of MMA fighting in FIGHTVILLE .In 2013, their film THE FLAG, for CNN Films, looked at the symbols and icons of 9/11 America. Their most recent documentary is KARL MARX CITY, which follows Petra Epperlein to her GDR hometown of Karl Marx City in search of the truth about her late father’s suicide and his rumored Stasi past. The film screened at festivals worldwide in 2016, including TIFF and the NewYork Film Festival, and was released theatrically in 2017. For more go to: pepperandbones.com
“We go into “The Meaning of Hitler” craving that millimeter of insight, of intrigue and revelation. And the film provides it. It ruminates on Hitler and the Third Reich in ways that churn up your platitudes.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety
“The movie isn’t just another cautionary tale; it’s a jagged intellectual wakeup call that cuts deep, and America can’t hear it enough.” – Eric Kohn, indieWire
“It explains and builds a compelling relationship between the cultural normalization of Nazism and recent far-right movements.” – Ricardo Gallegos, La Estatuilla
“This is an agitated, bemused, and terrified piece of work that gets under the skin of Nazism without adding to its negative glorification.” – Chris Barsanti, PopMatters
A rising star in progressive politics and a new father, 32-year-old Ady Barkan’s life is upended when he is diagnosed with ALS. But after a confrontation with powerful Senator Jeff Flake on an airplane goes viral, catapulting him to national fame, Ady and a motley crew of activists ignite a once-in-a-generation political movement called “Be a Hero.” Together, they barnstorm across the country and empower people to confront their elected officials with emotional, personal stories to demand healthcare justice and Ady holds groundbreaking interviews with Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Through his journey, Ady discovers that collective action and speaking truth to power offers hope for his family and millions of others. Continuing today to motivate others to use the time they are given and speak truth to power, Barkan continues to fight for a more just world for his son to inherit. He was featured as one of TIME’s top 100 Most influential people of 2020 and has most recently been credited with pressuring President Biden to make the recent decision to waive the COVID-19 vaccine patent. Barkan is referred to as “The Most Powerful Activist in America,” because when he speaks, people listen.Director Nicholas Bruckman joins us for a conversation on the physically, emotionally and logistically demanding experience it was documenting Barkan’s life and work as well as the insider’s perspective on the power of grassroots political organizing he and his team are able to capture.
*SXSW 2021 Film Festival Audience Award – Documentary Feature*
*SXSW 2021 Film Festival Special Jury Recognition for Humanity in
Director’s Statement – As a creator of both independent films and branded videos for progressive candidates and causes, my work straddles the intersections between journalism and activism, storytelling and propaganda, art and action. I first met Ady in the role of a commercial director, when I was connected to him to direct a short launch film for the newly-formed Be a Hero campaign. I flew to Santa Barbara for what I expected to be a somber shoot: an ailing father pleading with politicians to protect his health care. But immediately upon interviewing him, I realized that what he was doing was much more profound: reframing the tragic narrative of his disease into a political platform. With self-awareness and strategic planning, he was crafting the story of his illness into a movement that catalyzed other people into action and empowered them to follow his footsteps in confronting politicians with their own stories as a rallying cry. Ady and I are around the same age with similar backgrounds: activists from secular Jewish families on New York’s Upper West Side. I knew that Ady’s diagnosis could have just as easily happened to me, but that Ady—with astonishing resilience—was turning this otherwise meaningless tragedy into something incredibly powerful and transformative for the country. How would I answer being dealt such a hand? The film is my attempt at answering that question. As Ady loses his privilege, and fights for social change as a marginalized person with a disability, he taught me there are no excuses for inaction, a lesson I first learned from my blind grandfather who championed the rights of the disabled in India. Because I do not identify as having a disability, we consulted with activists/academics and filmmakers from the disability community to ensure that the representation in the film was authentic and inclusive. I hope that those communities, and all of the activists using their stories as a weapon to fight for a better world, feel seen in Ady’s story on screen. – Nicholas Bruckman
About the filmmaker – Nicholas Bruckman, Filmmaker, Director produced the narrative feature Valley of Saints, which won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. He previously directed the feature documentary La Americana, which won numerous festival awards and broadcast worldwide on Nat Geo and PBS. Nicholas is the founder of People’s Television, a NY-based film and commercial production company. Through People’s TV, he directs branded content for clients including Facebook, Airbnb, and Greenpeace.
About the filmmaker – Amanda Roddy Filmmaker, Producer is an award-winning documentary filmmaker with People’s Television, where she has led projects as a director, producer, and writer for high profile clients such as the Democratic National Convention, Elizabeth Warren’s presidential Campaign, Equal Justice Works, The Nature Conservancy, and The Equity Fund. Recently, she directed and produced a two-minute primetime television spot that appeared during the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Her work has been supported by the International Documentary Association, Rooftop Films, Film Independent, IFP, and HBO.
A shot of pure inspiration…Not Going Quietly has a special power”–RogerEbert.com
“An unusually moving political doc…a stirring tale of activism”– The Hollywood Reporter
“While it profiles a man of extraordinary will, the film is moving because it shows him putting his own considerable achievements within reach for others so long as they’re willing to engage.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest
“A visceral of ode to the nature of activism under dire circumstances”– IndieWire
“A heartbreaking story with humor, insight and action will resonate with anyone”– Jimmy Kimmel
“Heartbreaking, infuriating, and vital, this is a trenchant examination of what ALS sufferers go through daily, and makes a shattering argument that no society with America’s barbaric healthcare system can be truly free or democratic.” – Shaun Munro, Flickering Myth
MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY follows two families as they arrive in Brooks County, Texas to look for their loved ones who went missing after crossing into the country from Mexico. On their search they meet vigilante ranchers, human smugglers, humanitarian activists, and Border Patrol agents, all of whom are locked in a proxy version of the national immigration debate.In order to build a portrait of everyday life in Falfurrias, Texas. In making MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY the filmmakers, co-directors Lisa Molomot and Jeff Bemis immersed themselves into the heart of the story. They were present at many moments of discovery and revelation, documenting the missing as they were reported, rescued, recovered or exhumed. They rode with Sheriff’s deputies and Border Patrol, with ranchers and vigilantes, filmed men and women wading across the Rio Grande at night, andfilmed men and women as they surrendered to Brooks County law enforcement, dehydrated and exhausted. They documented the emotional testimony of a border crosser, his face shielded, as he described the moment he realized the teenage boy he was carrying—one of the missing individuals portrayed in the film—was no longer alive. Co-directors Lisa Molomot and Jeff Bemis join us to talk about a sobering truth: the deadliest part of the journey was far from the border and their gripping portrait of a place that confronts the life-and-death consequences of a broken immigration system.
Filmmakers’ Statement: MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY began as the story of one forensic scientist trying to identify migrants buried anonymously in Brooks County, Texas. But each time we returned to film in South Texas the story got bigger, as we realized the complexity and severity of the situation. We met migrants, sheriffs and activists. Ranchers, rangers and vigilantes. Consuls, judges, and undertakers. If we held stereotypical beliefs about Border Patrol agents, law enforcement and Texas ranchers, they have been obliterated by our experiences making this film. Our goal became to convey the complexity of the situation we encountered. Border Patrol is given the job of operating a massive immigration checkpoint situated in the middle of a treacherous desert, and also of saving the lives of migrants who attempt to circumvent it. Local ranchers are divided over what to do about the situation. Migrants themselves often have no idea of the true dangers of the journey they have chosen to undertake, and are at the mercy of coyotes (human smugglers) who will leave them to die if they cannot keep up over the three-to-four day trek. In order to build a portrait of everyday life in Falfurrias, TX, vérité footage is the foundation of MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY. We have been present at many moments of discovery and revelation, documenting the missing as they were reported, rescued, recovered or exhumed. We rode with Sheriff’s deputies and Border Patrol, with ranchers and vigilantes. We filmed men and women wading across the Rio Grande at night, and we filmed men and women as they surrendered to Brooks County law enforcement, dehydrated and exhausted. We filmed the emotional testimony of a border crosser, his face shielded, as he described the moment he realized the teenage boy he was carrying—one of the missing individuals portrayed in the film—was no longer alive. Most importantly, we met the families of the missing, who became the emotional center of the film. As rendered through the stories of Homero Roman and Juan Maceda, our vision for MISSING IN BROOKS COUNTY is an immersive experience of an American town that has been caught in the middle of the life and death situation created by the militarization of the U.S./Mexico border. And just as we have learned so much while making this film, we hope viewers will look at immigration in a new way and begin to include the deceased and the missing in the national debate. – Lisa Molomot and Jeff Bemiss
About the filmmaker – Lisa Molomot, Producer/Co-Director/Cinematographer, has directed and edited documentaries about the American Southwest in recent years including THE CLEANERS, and SOLEDAD. She has also focused on stories about education. Her award-winning film SCHOOL’S OUT has been an integral part of the movement for providing outdoor education for young children, and her recent short film TEACHING IN ARIZONA is an inside look at the teaching crisis in that state. A recent Fulbright Scholar, she teaches a course at the James E. Rogers School of Law at the University of Arizona where she has worked with the Immigration Law Clinic for the past four years, has taught in the UA Human Rights Practice Graduate Program and is part of a network of human rights faculty.
About the filmmaker – Jeff Bemiss, Producer / Co-Director / Cinematographer, is an award-winning writer/director who has worked in shorts, features and documentaries, Jeff’s work has aired on network television and PBS. He is a graduate of the University of Southerrn California film school and the L.A. Sanford Meisner Academy. Originally trained in scripted filmmaking, Jeff’s film THE BOOK AND THE ROSE was a semi-finalist for the Academy Award for best short film. Jeff shot and directed the award-winning short documentary COACHING COLBURN about a young man with Fragile-X Syndrome, which premiered at the prestigious Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. Jeff is a Connecticut Artist Fellow and a Film Independent Fast Track Fellow. He freelances for disability and social activist clients and teaches film at Trinity College in Hartford, CT.
MATERNA is an utterly unique and original psychological portrait of four women, whose lives are bound together by an incident on the New York City subway. Jean (Kate Lyn Sheil), Mona (Jade Eshete), Ruth (Lindsay Burdge), and Perizad (Assol Abdullina) are four radically different women whose lives are separated by race, culture, religion, and class but connected by the complexities of motherhood. When they face a threat on the New York City subway, their shared isolation suddenly becomes a shared connection, inextricably bounding their lives together. The film was shot around NYC and on the Subway and looks to explore vulnerability and our most hidden personal conflicts so often kept secret to the outside world.MATERNA is David Gutnik’s debut feature and was awarded Best Actress and Best Cinematography at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, where Gutnik was also nominated for Best New Director. David Gutnik is also the editor of several acclaimed features, including Christina Choe’s 2018 Sundance Award-Winning Nancy. Director David Gutnik joins us to talk about his powerful, piercing debut feature film and how working with his superb cast and collaborators helped himexplore his character’s deepest secrets and why these tortured relationships can have a profound impact on the present and the future.
* Tribeca 2020 Winner of the Best Actress for U.S. Narrative – Assol Abdullina
About the filmmaker – David Gutnik, Co-Writer/Director, is a Russian-American writer and director from Brooklyn, New York. MATERNA, Gutnik’s debut feature film, was awarded Best Actress and Best Cinematography at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, where Gutnik was also nominated for Best New Director. Gutnik is also the editor of several acclaimed features, including Christina Choe’s 2018 Sundance Award-Winning NANCY. He was a 2017 Sundance Institute Fellow and received his MFA in Film at Columbia University.
About the filmmaker – Assol Abdullina, Co-Writer/Lead Actress/EP, is a NYC based writer and actress from Kyrgyzstan. Abdullina won the Best Actress Award for Materna at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, where she was also nominated for Best Screenplay and the Nora Ephron Award. She is a recent graduate of The New School for Drama. Film: FIRST SNOW, HE/SHE/EXIT/SIGNS, ONLY SOLOMON LEE, THE BIRDS OF PARADISE. Theater: Arcticfox in Annie Dorsen’s”The Slow Room” at Performance Space New York; Mandy in Donald Margulies’s “Time Stands Still” at 13th Street Rep. She lives in Queens, New York.
About the filmmaker – Jade Eshete, Co-Writer/Lead Actress/EP, has a series recurring role on BILLIONS and most recently starred in MACRO’s REALLY LOVE (2020 SXSW Film Festival) alongside Kofi Siriboe, Uzo Aduba and Blair Underwood. Past credits include series regular and recurring roles on the Max Landis-helmed series DIRK GENTLY’S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY on BBC America and NBC’s SHADES OF BLUE. She is based in NYC.
“A fascinating anthology of tales that offers an impressive showcase for a quartet of talented actresses – and writers, in the case of Jade Eshete and Assol Abdullina, who pull double duty.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest
“It’s moments of abject fright where impulse takes over in ways that show who we are beneath the images we present to the world.” – Jared Mobarak, Jaredmobarak.com
“They’re each riveting little short stories in and of themselves, with their own purposes that feed into the larger whole. … Every piece here builds on the others.” – Jason Adams, My New Plaid Pants
The rePRO Film Festival is the only festival dedicated to exploring women’s reproductive healthcare, awareness, advocacy and bodily integrity in America – that will be running this year from August 9-18. This year’s festival is comprised of 15 mission-aligned films (100% directed by individuals using she/her pronouns and 67% directed by BIPOC or AAPI individuals) that will be available across North America. 100% of the box office revenue will also be donated to our women-led 2021 Beneficiary Organizations: Black Women’s Health Imperative, The Lilith Fund and No More Secrets.The rePro festival has put together an incredible lineup this year and we wanted to share some details on how press will be able to access it all! rePro co-founder Lela Meadow-Conner joins us for a lively and an informative update on a cutting edge film festival with a cutting edge oapproach to serving their audience.
Special programming from the lineup also includes:
An exclusive sneak peek from the film and conversation with the filmmaker, for the upcoming feature documentary on uterine fibroids called RED ALERT: THE FIGHT AGAINST FIBROIDS, which focuses on the difficult prognosis in women that leads to nearly 300,000 hysterectomy surgeries in the United States yearly.
Yoni Hour With Laura Bell Bundy’ – a pre-festival celebratory virtual happy hour with singer/activist Laura Bell Bundy that will be available for free to stream as of Monday, August 2nd. Laura will be joined by her Women of Tomorrow album co-writer and podcast co-host, Shea Carter, to explore reproductive health issues facing women throughout history, and take an intimate look at both Bundy and Carter’s personal journeys with their own experiences with reproductive justice.
Tune in to watch the conversations live, you can visit www.reprofilmfest.com/call-to-action-conversations/ or visit the festival’s Youtube during the scheduled Q&A times – all information on the call-to-action conversations and speakers are available on the website. They will also be posted on the festival’s Youtube page after the live event.
About our guest – Lela Meadow-Conner is Executive Director of Film Festival Alliance and founder of mama.film, which was a Satellite Screen for the Sundance Film Festival in 2021 and presents the rePRO Film Festival for reproductive justice, presented by Bloomberg Philanthropies. She has more than 18 years of experience in independent cinema exhibition, with leadership roles at organizations including the Tallgrass Film Association and Geena Davis’ Bentonville Film Festival. She has participated in The Industry Academy, a program of Film at Lincoln Center and the Locarno Film Festival, has served on film juries including AFI and the NAACP Image Awards and is a frequent panelist for industry organizations like The Gotham and Columbia University. She serves on the board of Los Angeles’ iconic Vidiots Foundation, soon to relaunch in the historic Eagle Theatre. She is a co-producer for Sav Rodgers’ documentary Chasing Chasing Amy, producer for Nitzan Mager’s Strange Love, and executive producer for Emily Christensen’s Feminist Foremothers podcast.
NAKED SINGULARITY tells the story of Casi (John Boyega), a promising young NYC public defender whose idealism is beginning to crack under the daily injustices of the very justice system he’s trying to make right.NAKED SINGULARITY tells the story of Casi (John Boyega), a promising young NYC public defender whose idealism is beginning to crack under the daily injustices of the very justice system he’s trying to make right. Doubting all he has worked for and seeing signs of the universe collapsing all around him, he is pulled into a dangerous high-stakes drug heist by an unpredictable former client (Olivia Cooke) to beat the broken system at its own game. Based on the PEN prize-winning novel A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava, a former Manhattan District Attorney with first-hand knowledge of the everyday travesties of justice in city courtrooms. Featuring a cast that includes Olivia Cooke (Sound of Metal, Ready Player One), Bill Skarsgård (It, Deadpool 2), Ed Skrein (Deadpool, Alita: Battle Angel), Linda Lavin (“Alice”, “The Good Wife”) and Tim Blake Nelson (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, O Brother Where Art Thou?). NAKED SINGULARITY is produced by Tony Ganz, Kevin J. Walsh, Ryan Stowell, P. Jennifer Dana and Ross Jacobson, and executive produced by Ridley Scott, Dick Wolf, Sebastien Raybaud, Francois Callens, John Zois, Mark Roberts, Tony Pachella, Deborah Roth, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Director and screenwriter Chase Palmer joins us to talk about approach to this genre blending together a story that is part satire on the criminal justice system, part high state heist, part metaphysical meditation into a very entertaining and well acted cinematic ride.
In Theaters August 6th and On Demand August 13th
About the filmmaker – Chase Palmer is a Brooklyn-based writer/director. His two award-winning short films, NEO-NOIR and SHOCK AND AWE, have played at film festivals worldwide, including Sundance, the BFI London Film Festival, and Deauville. Current projects include writing/directing a feature adaptation of the PEN-prize winning book A NAKED SINGULARITY with Ridley Scott producing; adapting the Josh Malerman novel UNBURY CAROL for the director Cary Fukunaga, writing THE ROBBER for JC Chandor and Amazon, and adapting the New York Times series THE OUTLAW OCEAN for Netflix and Appian Way. Past projects include co-writing IT CHAPTER ONE for Warners and New Line; THE ALIENIST for TNT, adapting the New York Times best seller THE SEARCH FOR WONDLA by acclaimed children’s author Tony Diterlizzi for Paramount; and the Civil War heist movie NO BLOOD, NO GUTS, NO GLORY for producer Kevin Misher and Focus, which was on the 2009 Hollywood “Black List” of best unproduced screenplays.
Prior to World War I a friend writes to Virginia Woolf asking about how to prevent the coming war. She replies… by asking him about the definition of we. When we look at a series of photographs, do we see the same thing? THE VIEWING BOOTH recounts a unique encounter between a filmmaker and a viewer — exploring the way meaning is attributed to non-fiction images in today’s day and age. In a lab-like location, Maia Levy, a young Jewish American woman, watches videos portraying life in the occupied West Bank, while verbalizing her thoughts and feelings in real time. Maia is an enthusiastic supporter of Israel, and the images in the videos, depicting Palestinian life under Israeli military rule, contradict some of her deep-seated beliefs. Empathy, anger, embarrassment, innate biases, and healthy curiosity — all play out before our eyes as we watch her watch the images created by the Occupation. As Maia navigates and negotiates the images, which threaten her worldview, she also reflects on the way she sees them. Her candid and immediate reactions form a one-of-a-kind cinematic testimony to the psychology of the viewer in the digital era. THE VIEWING BOOTHis director Ra’anan Alexandrowicz (The Law In These Parts) joins us for a in-depth conversation regarding his inspiration and his motivation for creating a rigorous social / cultural / political evaluation of the way in which people take in, process and contextualize image-based information and how they see the world around them.
Director’s Statement – During the time of the Spanish Civil War, Virginia Woolf received a letter from a prominent lawyer in London who asked her, perhaps provocatively: “How, in your opinion, are we to prevent war?” In her answer Woolf suggested they first address his use of the word “we” with a little thought experiment. What would happen, she asks him, if they both observe the images of war that are published every week? “Let us see,” she writes, whether when we look at the same photographs, we will feel the same things.” I consider my first encounter with this correspondence, around five years ago, as the moment in which the film The Viewing Booth was conceived. Woolf’s simple and prophetic words were written in a time when the photography of human suffering was a nascent and seemingly unshakable medium of truth. Reading them 80 years later, in a time when truth itself is a contested term in public life, I asked myself: Are people who are looking at the images I make, seeing what I am seeing? Woolf’s words permitted me, or rather commanded me, to question the way nonfiction images function, especially in regard to their role in advocating human rights and social justice. For a few years I searched for the cinematic way to do this. If documentaries are an exploration of reality, I thought, then there must be a way to explore the reality that is the documentary. The more I searched for the filmic path to do this, the more I felt that in order to understand images I should stop looking at images, but rather turn the camera towards the viewers. The result is The Viewing Booth. While it encompasses questions that were cultivated over a long period of time, The Viewing Booth finally happened, almost by chance, during a session that was meant to be a pilot shoot, testing a possible concept for the project. Years of thoughts suddenly and unexpectedly found a cinematic expression when Maia Levy, whom I had never met before, entered the improvised viewing booth that I had created at Temple University in Philadelphia. Maia’s dialogue with the images of Palestine and Israel, as well as her reflections on her own perception of these images, lead me to confront myself — as an image maker — in ways that I had not expected. The result is an intimate and tightly focused film that invites viewers to delve into quintessential universal questions on the perception of nonfiction images in our times. The introspective nature of The Viewing Booth determined its unconventional form and structure – one that often evokes the idea of a mirror, or a hall of mirrors. As the work on the film progressed, I realized that it is not only Maia and myself, who are facing our own reflections through this film. If it achieves its objective, The Viewing Booth will become a mirror for its viewers, as well as for the nonfiction tradition – a tradition which I consider myself a part of. – Ra’anan Alexandrowicz
About the filmmaker – Ra’anan Alexandrowicz is best known for the documentary The Law in These Parts (2011), which received the Grand Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival, a Peabody award, and numerous other prizes. His earlier documentaries, The Inner Tour (2001) and Martin (1999), were shown in the Berlin Int’l Film Festival and MoMA’s New Directors/New Films. Alexandrowicz’s single fiction feature, James’ Journey to Jerusalem (2003), screened in Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and at the Toronto Int’l Film Festival and received several major awards. His films have been released theatrically in the U.S. and Europe, and broadcast by PBS, BBC and ARTE, as well as other television channels.
“An outstanding probe into not just how people think about a conflict in the Middle East, but the limits of nonfiction films regarding their ability to persuade and explore reality as it is — and whether such a thing is even possible.” – Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
“One of the most provocative of the films at True/False… this film speaks
not only to issues but to the function of documentary itself.” – Pat Aufderheide, Documentary Magazine
“Not just a valuable crash course in digital-age hermeneutics, this is a gauntlet thrown down to film-makers with an old-fashioned belief in the truth.” – Phil Hoad, Guardian
“‘The Viewing Booth’ stood out as one of the [Berlin] festival’s best documentaries… a meditation on the power of images to convey reality and influence systems of belief.” – A.J. Goldmann, Tablet Magazine
For over 40 years Val Kilmer, one of Hollywood’s most mercurial and/or misunderstood actors has been documenting his own life and craft through film and video. He has amassed thousands of hours of footage, from 16mm home movies made with his brothers, from being the youngest student ever admitted to the drama department at Juilliard, to his time spent in iconic roles for blockbuster movies like Top Gun, The Doors, Tombstone, and Batman Forever. This raw, wildly original and unflinching documentary reveals a life lived to extremes and a heart-filled, sometimes hilarious look at what it means to be an artist and a complex man. Co-directors Ting Poo and Leo Scott stop by to talk about the voluminous amount of footage and other material documenting the life and times of Val Kilmer, as well as working with Val’s son and daughter to help them pull together a moving, warts and all, look a man looking back and looking forward as he grapples with an illness that strikes at the core of his ability to do the thing he loves.
About the filmmaker – Ting Poo majored in film at Columbia University, after which she worked at @ radicalmedia for almost 10 years cutting both commercial and long form content. In 2008, she edited the documentary Britney: For the Record which, at its premiere, was the most highly anticipated and watched program ever to air on MTV. She has worked on both independent features, and documentary series and is interested in storytelling across all platforms. In 2015, she co-edited her first VR piece, The Displaced, which won the Entertainment Grand Prix at Cannes and earned her an Emmy nomination for New Approaches: Current News Coverage. Recently, she edited “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405” which won an Oscar for best documentary short.
About the filmmaker – Leo Scott works predominantly as an editor across the various disciples of film, including commercials, music videos, documentary and feature films. In 2013 he edited Gia Coppola’s debut feature Palo Alto. He has also collaborated with Harmony Korine on several films including working as editor on Trash Humpers. He first feature as producer, Gozo, a project he also edited, went on to win best UK feature at Raindance in 2016.
About Val Kilmer – Val Kilmer is one of the most prolific actors of his generation. From his more recent work as a career military officer in David Mamet’s Spartan, back through his work with Oliver Stone in The Doors and Michael Mann in Heat, to his early work in Top Gun, Kilmer has worked with many of film’s most respected directors and actors. The youngest student ever admitted to the drama department at Juilliard, Kilmer made his feature debut in the comedy Top Secret!, which he followed up with Real Genius and his breakout role as the Iceman in Tony Scott’s Top Gun. Other memorable roles include Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s The Doors, the title character in Batman Forever, Doc Holliday in Tombstone and Simon Templar in The Saint. His other starring roles include Michael Mann’s Heat, with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino; True Romance, directed by Tony Scott; Ron Howard’s Willow; At First Sight; and Thunderheart. Recent projects include Kiss, Kiss Bang, Bang, written and directed by Shane Black, and co-starring Robert Downey, Jr.; Millennium’s Bad Lieutenant, with Nicolas Cage and directed by Werner Herzog; Streets of Blood, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Twixt Now and Sunrise. He won the 2003 Prism Award for his work in The Salton Sea. During the production of Wonderland, Kilmer began a photography project that blossomed into a behind-the-scenes pictorial book. Released by Pocket Book, the photographs were exhibited in several cities in the United States. He also published a volume of his own poetry titled My Edens After Burns. When Kilmer was at Juilliard, he co-wrote the play How it all Began, based on the true story of a West German radical. The play was directed by Des McAnuff and produced by Joseph Papp for the Public Theatre. He made his Broadway debut in the 1983 production of Slab Boys, with Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon. He also appeared in Papp’s Delacorte Theatre production of Henry IV: Part One, As You Like It, the title role of Hamlet and ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore, also at Papp’s Public Theatre. Kilmer then starred in the Max Azria produced musical The Ten Commandments as Moses at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles. In 2005, he starred on London’s West End at the Playhouse Theater in Andrew Rattenbury’s adaptation of The Postman Always Rings Twice as Frank Chambers, the drifter played by Jack Nicholson in the 1981 film version. Today, Kilmer tours the U.S. with the film production of his one man show Citizen Twain, aptly rechristened Cinema Twain.
“The result is undoubtedly a canny mediation on the vagaries of fame, but it feels more intimate and essential than that: a lifetime of searching and self-regard distilled, somehow, into a state of grace.” – Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
“Attuned to what’s raw and heartfelt, “Val” reveals a Kilmer who has managed to process his identity/career not as a be-careful-what-you-wish-for story so much as a be-grateful-for-what-one-has experience.’ – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
“It offers Kilmer a showcase that he has been denied, not only by the ravages of cancer but, long before, by the troubled course of his career and the inherent obstacles of Hollywood filmmaking.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker
“The result is a documentary that keeps drawing you in, even when you think it’s keeping you at a certain distance, a one-of-a-kind portrait of a one-of-a-kind artist who, through good times and dreadful ones, has remained devoted to his art.” – Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
SWAN SONG follows retired hairdresser and local bar performer icon Pat Pitsenbarger (Udo Kier) who has given up on life from the confines of his small-town Sandusky, Ohio nursing home. But when Pat gets word that a former client’s dying wish was for him to style her final hairdo, he sets out on an epic journey across Sandusky to confront the ghosts of his past – and collect the beauty supplies necessary for the job. SWAN SONG is a comical and bittersweet journey about rediscovering oneself, and looking gorgeous while doing so. Director Todd Stephens joins us for a conversation on the personally inspired origin story of Swan Song, how the casting of Udo Kier sharpened the film’s focus and the revelatory performance of Kier’s (Pitsenbarger) rival Best in Show’s Jennifer Coolidge’s (Dee Dee Dale).
Director’s Statement – Back in 1984, I walked into my small-town gay bar for the first time — The Universal Fruit and Nut Company. There he was, glittering on the dancefloor. Wearing a teal feather boa, fedora and matching pantsuit, “Mister Pat” Pitsenbarger was busting old school moves straight out of Bob Fosse. I was seventeen, and Pat was a revelation. Years later, when I set out to write my autobiographical “Edge Of Seventeen”, I immediately thought of Mister Pat. I went back home to hunt him down, only to discover Pat had just suffered an aneurism and was temporarily unable to speak. But his lover David told me stories…about how Pat was once the most fabulous hairdresser in Sandusky, Ohio…about his legendary drag performances…about how he used to shop at Kroger’s dressed as Carol Burnett – in 1967! This was a man who always had the courage to be himself, long before that was safe. The truth is, Mister Pat inspired me to write “Edge Of Seventeen”. I wrote a significant “Pat” character as my protagonist’s mentor, but midway through the shoot, the part got cut. I always knew my muse would return someday in my writing, and when he finally did many years later, I looked for Pat again only to learn he just passed away. Sadly, Pat’s legendary hand-beaded rhinestone gowns are all lost to time. Only a shoebox remains – filled with some tarnished jewelry and a half-smoked pack of Mores. ”Swan Song” is a love letter to the rapidly disappearing “gay culture” of America. As it has become more acceptable to be queer, what used to be a thriving community is rapidly melting back into society. Thanks to assimilation and technology, small-town gay bars like The Universal Fruit and Nut Company are becoming extinct. “Swan Song” is dedicated to all the forgotten flaming florists and hairdressers who built the gay community and blazed the trail for the rights many of us cling to today. But, above all, for me this film is about learning that it’s never too late to live again. – Todd Stephens
About the filmmaker – Todd wrote, produced and directed “Another Gay Movie” and “Gypsy 83” and also wrote and produced “Edge Of Seventeen.” All four of his previous features won numerous festival awards and were released theatrically all over the world. Todd is currently a Professor of Film at School of Visual Arts in NYC.
“Kier gives a career-high performance and deserves to be remembered during awards season. Coolidge and the rest of the supporting cast are all exceptional, allowing Swan Song to take wing and soar.” – Gregg Shapiro, Bay Area Reporter
“What’s most notable about Todd Stephens’ heartfelt salute to a real-life local legend is that the campiness of its outrageous plot becomes secondary to the soulful poignancy.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
“Swan Song, directed by Todd Stephens and based on the real-life Pitsenbarger, isn’t a dense work, but it is a highly satisfying one.” – Douglas Laman, The Spool
“’Swan Song’ is a showcase for Udo Kier that is victoriously vulnerable, inspiringly extravagant, and emotionally indulgent as he tackles a role that will deservedly help define his storied career.” – Matt Donato, WhatToWatch
Guarded by Kurdish forces, 73,000 Daesh (ISIS) supporters are locked up in the Al-Hol Camp in northeastern Syria. Considered the most dangerous camp in the Middle East, it is situated amidst a volatile political and military reality where Daesh is still omnipresent. Five years ago, Daesh killed thousands of Yazidis in the Sinjar province of Iraq and abducted thousands of Yazidi women and girls to be held and sold as sex slaves – called sabaya.In SABAYA, Mahmud, Ziyad and other volunteers from the Yazidi Home Center rescue the sabaya, who are still being held by Daesh in the camp. Continuously phoning, smoking and sometimes bickering, Mahmud and Ziyad systematically prepare their missions and know exactly who to look for, and where. Often accompanied by female infiltrators – some of them former sabaya – and armed with nothing but an old mobile phone and a small gun, they travel to the camp in an inconspicuous van. Once there, mostly by night, they must act extremely quickly to avoid potential violence. Under the loving care of Mahmud’s wife, Siham, and his mother, Zahra, it might take a long time for the young women to heal, but perhaps one day the traumatized girls will also be strong enough to become brave female infiltrators themselves, helping to rescue even more Yazidi Sabaya from the claws of an ideology that tolerates nothing but itself. Through this observational film, directed, shot and edited by acclaimed Swedish/Kurdish director Hogir Hirori, we experience first-hand the strong contrast between the tense situation in the camp and the comfort of daily life at home. Director Hogir Hirori and Producer Antonio Merenda joins us for a conversation on the risks that all of the project’s participants, including Mahmud and Siyad, took on in order to tell the story of unfathomable cruelty and deadly violence aimed at the Yazidi people in general and the Yazidi women.
2021 Sundance Film Festival – Directing Award (World Cinema Documentary)
2021 DocEdge – Best Director
2021 DocEdge – Special Mention for Best Feature (Int’l Competition)
2021 DocAviv – Best International Film
About the filmmaker – Hogir Hirori was born in 1980 in Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan. In 1999, he fled to Sweden and has lived since then in Stockholm. He works as a freelance photographer, editor and director and runs his own production company, Lolav Media. Hogir’s most recent work, The Deminer, had its world premiere at IDFA 2017, where it received the Special Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature. The film has since travelled to more than 50 international film festivals and aired on more than 30 broadcasters worldwide.
About the filmmaker – Originally from Italy, Antonio Russo Merenda moved to Stockholm in 1993 where he founded Hysteria Film, which he ran for 15 years. Antonio started his production company Ginestra Film in 2012 and served as Documentary Film Commissioner at the Swedish Film Institute between 2015-2017. Antonio’s productions have been aired on broadcasters worldwide, selected by major international film festivals and received awards such as the VPRO Award for Best Documentary Feature with Don Juan (IDFA 2015), the Special Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature for The Deminer (IDFA 2017) as well as the Golden Dove with Vodka Factory (DokLeipzig 2010) and with Colombianos (DokLeipzig 2012). With Hysteria Film, Antonio was involved in the production of Searching for Sugar Man , the 2013 Oscar winner for Best Documentary Feature.
“Intense [and] deeply embedded…Sabaya is remarkable… A gripping, harrowing, superb doc…[with] textures of compassion, healing and hope.” – Jessica Kiang, Variety
“With “Sabaya,” we witness documentary filmmaking at its boldest; we find hope in seeing not only the triumphs of the Yazidi Home Center but also what the medium can do.” – Kimber Myers, Los Angeles Times
“Impressively exciting and strikingly novel…Documents a situation so perilous, high-stakes and remarkable.” – Inkoo Kang, The Hollywood Reporter
“A stirring depiction of heroism… The daring on display by Hirori is matched and (he’d certainly say) exceeded by the bravery of his subjects… Stunning moments of visual awe… Sabaya is a triumph of risking-your-neck, DIY filmmaking.” – Christian Blauvelt, IndieWire
“There is so much earth-shattering bravery on display in the miraculous Sabaya that you wonder how the Swedish-Kurdish director Hogir Hirori managed to pull off a documentary that avoids showy, predictable notes of brouhaha throughout.” – Tomris Laffly, RogerEbert.com
In Matt Yoka’s sprawling debut feature, WHIRLYBIRD, he deftly mirrors the peaks and valleys of one unique American family to the city of Los Angeles, showcasing their parallel growing pains and their search for a sense of self. Flying high above Los Angeles in a whirling news helicopter, Marika Gerrard and Zoey Tur (known then as Bob) captured some of the city’s most epic breaking news stories. The two recount the salacious details of their career as a husband-and-wife journalist team doing whatever it took to catch an unfolding story. Their camera captured the extreme adrenaline of the culture of live news and, as a result, the strain it took on their relationship—and, ultimately, a major life transition for Zoey. A wholly unique take on the story of Los Angeles told through stunning aerial footage and remarkable home videos, WHIRLYBIRD reframes many of the city’s pivotal moments of the 1990s, including the O. J. Simpson pursuit and the 1992 riots. Zoey Tur revolutionized news media with her aerial reporting of Los Angeles – and in doing so, defined our recorded memory of the city. Tur’s unmatched eye-in-the-sky video archive captures the spectacle of 1990s L.A. while revealing her own personal complexities. WHIRLYBIRD weaves intimate interviews with a stunning archive, illustrating a person as fascinating as the city she flew above. WHIRLYBIRD is a completely original and intricately woven tapestry that reveals the agony and the ecstasy of breaking news. Director Matt Yoka joins is for an illuminating conversation on Tur’s complex personal landscape and his search to uncover a person as fascinating as the city she flew above.
About the filmmaker – Director/Producer/Editor Matt Yoka is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker. He was a Collaborative Fellow at UnionDocs and in 2014 earned a master’s degree from USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism, where he was awarded a Pulitzer scholarship. Over the years, he has produced work for VICE, Vanity Fair, and The Awl. Matt began his career working on a wide range of TV with Vice Media (VICE DOES AMERICA, EPICLY LATER’D, HUANG’S WORLD, and the HBO special “WORLD IN DISARRAY”). During this time he also developed a distinct visual style directing music videos for record labels like Drag City and Sub Pop, collaborating most often with the artist Ty Segall. His first feature film, WHIRLYBIRD, draws inspiration from his childhood in Los Angeles and his research at USC’s Annenberg School of Journalism, where he received a Master’s Degree.
‘”Whirlybird” is a complicated, engaging, one-of-a-kind, portrait of a deeply flawed human.” – Jude Dry, indieWire
“A story of obsession, media madness and the price of fame, as well as a filmic incarnation of Jim Morrison’s “bloody red sun of fantastic LA”, Matt Yoka’s film Whirlybird is a strange and fascinating hybrid.” – Adam Sweeting, The Arts Desk
“Whirlybird is informative and thrilling. It’s also profound and sad. And maybe it’s got threads of inspiration and uplift as well.” – Dan Fienberg, Hollywood Reporter
“Yoka spent six years sifting through and digitizing Bob’s archives, and even he may have been surprised to find that the micro story winds up being stronger than the macro one.” Elizabeth Weitzman, TheWrap
In early November 2018, raging wildfires killed 88 residents and destroyed tens of thousands of homes in the cities of Malibu and Paradise, two very different California communities. In her new verité documentary, two-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker captures the heroism and horror of that unfathomable disaster. Her character-driven exposé, BRING YOUR ON BRIGADE, also answers a question humanity can no longer afford to ignore: Why are catastrophic wildfires increasing in number and severity around the world, and can anything be done to lessen the staggering death and destruction they cause? Drawing on hundreds of hours of astonishing wildfire footage and featuring interviews with survivors, firefighters and scientists, the film reveals that short of solving global warming there are numerous, often simple steps that can be taken to not only mitigate the catastrophic devastation caused by wildfires, but restore health and balance to woodlands that have been mismanaged for far too long. But does society have what it takes to put aside short-term interests and outmoded thinking to confront a crisis that’s quite literally burning our world to the ground? Director and Producer Lucy Walker (The Crash Reel, Waste Land, Countdown to Zero) to talk about her investigation into the reasons that social, political, climate, encroachment, logging, land management are just the beginning of why we should all be concerned about the coming Age of Fire.
Bring You Own Brigade opens in theaters on August 6 and streaming on CBSN and Paramount+ beginning August 20
About the filmmaker – LUCY WALKER (Director, Producer) is an Emmy Award®-winning British film director who has twice been nominated for an Oscar® and is renowned for creating riveting, character-driven nonfiction that delivers emotionally and narratively. The Hollywood Reporter has called her “the new Errol Morris” and Variety has praised her unique ability to connect with audiences. Walker’s films have been shortlisted for five Oscars and nominated for seven Emmys, an Independent Spirit Award, a DGA Award and a Gotham Award, winning over 100 other film awards. For her advertising work she has been recognized with three Cannes Lions, two Clios and two Association of Independent Commercial Producers Awards, among many other honors. Walker’s credits include feature documentaries The Crash Reel (2013), Waste Land (2010), Countdown to Zero (2010), Blindsight (2006), Devil’s Playground (2002) and short films such as The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (2011) and The Lion’s Mouth Opens (2014). Her television work includes 20 episodes of Nickelodeon “Blue’s Clues.” Walker grew up in England and graduated from Oxford University with top honors and a degree in literature. There, she directed theater and musicals before winning a Fulbright scholarship to attend the graduate film program at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. At Tisch she earned an M.F.A. degree and directed award-winning short films. While living in New York Walker also enjoyed a successful career as a DJ and musician. Walker is also an acclaimed virtual reality director. Her first VR experience, A History of Cuban Dance (2016), premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and showed at both SXSW and the Toronto International Film Festival. She has directed branded VR experiences for Airbnb, TOMS Shoes, Vaseline, Vice and the Buena Vista Social Club. Walker now lives in Venice, California. In 2017 she took over organizing and curating TEDxVeniceBeach and hosted a wildly successful inaugural event featuring talks by Diane von Furstenberg, Moby and Agnès Varda, among others. For more go to: lucywalkerfilm.com
“Lucy Walker’s powerful documentary raises bedeviling questions with fresh compassion and refreshing humility.” – Lisa Kennedy, Variety
“Radiates intelligence around the large systemic issues involved without feeling condescending or overwhelming.” – Stephen Saito, Moveable Fest
“Walker offers little in the way of hope that Californians will ever accept anything less than the fiction of complete dominance over the land and the forces of nature, despite repeated catastrophes. This film is required viewing.” – Bradley Gibson, Film Threat
FIREBOYS is the untold story of young men incarcerated in California who are offered a way out: by fighting wildfires. Immersive and personal, this coming-of-age story examines a correctional path that is both hopeful and destructive. As these seasonal blazes rage across California, over 3,000 professional firefighters and 3,000 volunteer inmates battle the fires for many months on end, sometimes into the winter. Pine Grove firefighters have fought in all of the deadliest and largest fires in California’s recent history, including the Camp and Mendocino Complex fires of 2018. Without incarcerated firefighters, California would not be able to manage the growing intensity of fire season. The employment of inmate firefighters– and the opportunities and challenges that await them upon their release from prison– are at the heart of Fireboys. Co-Directors Jake Hochendoner and Drew Dickler join us for a conversation on the challenges of tracking the lives of the incarcerated in the CalFire program over a 5-year span, gaining the confidence of the prison and Pine Grove facility and how the intersection of incarceration, the personal history of the incarcerated and criminal justice reform plays out in the telling of the Fireboys.
Directors Statement – As a filmmaking team, we’ve spent eight years collaborating on social justice films that center the experiences of people impacted by complex and urgent social issues. After we made a short film about mass incarceration and reentry, we were driven to tell more stories about the American justice system. In 2015, we began researching California’s use of around 3,000 incarcerated firefighters living and working in conservation “fire” camps who are trained to combat mounting yearly wildland fires. These incarcerated firefighter camps were touted as progressive programs because of a track record of success measured by low recidivism rates, but very little documentation existed about the experiences of the firefighters and what actually happened to them post-release – despite the fact that these programs have been in existence since 1945. Combining immersive observational storytelling, intimate interviews, and lyrical cinematic scenes of California’s wildland, Fireboys explores the topics of confinement, labor exploitation, rehabilitation, redemption, and resilience in the prison system from the point of view of young men from the ages of 18-22 in the unique position of being the only incarcerated firefighters in California’s juvenile justice system. We hope Fireboys will make audiences aware of the impact of incarceration, the extraordinary potential of those currently inside, and the need of a justice system built on restoration and opportunity, not punishment. – Drew Dickler and Jake Hochendoner
About the filmmaker – Jake Hochendoner is an award winning filmmaker, video producer and educator living in Dallas, Texas. His creative and professional work is driven and informed by a deep passion for social and environmental justice aimed at building a more equitable, inclusive and healthy world. His award winning short documentary films focused on complex social issues, ranging from mass incarceration to the opiate epidemic, have screened around the country at the Cleveland International Film Festival, The Wrap’s Shortlist Film Festival in Los Angeles and the Impugning Impunity Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in New York City. In 2016, Jake received a Creative Workforce Fellowship from Cuyahoga County to support his filmmaking and teaching in Northeast Ohio prisons. In 2018, he won a New England/Boston Emmy award for producing and co-directing “Meet the Inmates of Fife & Drum” for Zagat. His recent work includes a series of short documentaries for Google Earth and he held positions as an additional cinematographer on Jennifer Redfearn’s APART (2020) and Karla Murthy’s THE PLACE THAT MAKES US (2020). Fireboys is his first feature film.
About the filmmaker – Drew Dickler (she/her) is a filmmaker and producer based in Brooklyn, New York. Much of her work explores themes of identity, resilience, and social equity. Her debut short DRESS, a butch lesbian coming-of-age drama, won Best LGBT Film at the Independent Filmmakers Showcase. Drew’s award-winning short documentaries have screened at film festivals across the country. ALL IT TAKES, focused on the opiate epidemic, premiered at the 2016 Cleveland International Film Festival. MEET THE INMATES OF FIFE & DRUM, about a unique culinary reentry program, won a 2018 regional Emmy award. Most recently, Drew was a field producer for APART, directed by Jennifer Redfearn (2020 Full Frame, Hot Docs), and has directed branded content for companies like Google and Barnes & Noble. FIREBOYS is her first feature.
“There’s not a lot of the exciting firefighting stuff you might expect; Fireboys’ focus is more on rehabilitation through tough work that some grow to love.” – Dennis Harvey, 48 Hills
“Fireboys opens your eyes to the prison system, attempts at rehabilitation, and what it truly takes to help someone change for the better.” – Chris Salce, Film Threat
“The directors gratifyingly zero in on the well-behaved prisoners, their respectful instructors/jailers and uplifting evidence that the youths are turning their lives around and are pleased to help others.” – Bob Strauss, San Francisco Chronicle
“A fascinating documentary about a program many people have probably never heard of. An emotional real life coming of age story.” – Nathaniel Muir, AIPT
In director Joshua Leonard and Writer Jess Weixler’s raucous and raw comedy FULLY REALIZED HUMANS they set out to blow-up the accepted truth that there’s never a perfect time to have a baby. Jackie (Jess Weixler) and Elliott (Joshua Leonard) beg to differ. There will be a perfect time — just as soon as they’ve fixed all of their own issues and become the kind of people who won’t screw up their own kids the way their parents screwed them up. Realizing that if they want to break their cycles of dysfunction once and for all, they’ll have to confront their deepest fears and greatest shortcomings head-on. With less than a month until their due date, they embark on a madcap mission to become FULLY REALIZED HUMANS. This crusade will push them to the edge of sanity, forcing them to battle with themselves, each other, their friends, and even their families. When the smoke clears, they’ll either be the world’s greatest parents… or they’ll be institutionalized. Director, co-writer and lead actor Joshua Leonard and co-writer and lead actor Jess Weixler join us to talk about the lightning quick turnaround for filming, working while pregnant and bringing together a talented supporting cast that includes Beth Grant, Tom Bower, Janizca Bravo, and Jennifer Lafleur.
Director’s statement – My dear friend and creative partner-in-crime, Jess Weixler, was pregnant with her first child last year. I’d recently become a father myself, and we were both asking ourselves big questions like: “What does it mean to be a parent?” “How will this new responsibility affect us as artists?” “Are we going to make ALL the same mistakes our parents did?” And most significantly… “Are we READY to become adults?” So we decided to take all this existential exploration and head back to our indie roots to make a movie about it. We assembled a team of rock-star friends and collaborators and shot the film in 7 1/2 days on a shoestring budget. The resulting movie is one that we are very proud of — a scrappy, punk rock, midlife-crisis comedy that serves as both an immediate and true (if somewhat hyperbolized) snapshot of a potent turning point in our lives. – Joshua Leonard.
About the filmmaker – Jess Weixler (“Jackie”) – Writer/Associate Producer starred in THE LIE with Joshua Leonard (Sundance 2011). Some of her other work includes TEETH (Sundance 2007 where she was awarded the Special Jury Prize for Acting), THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBY:THEM & HER/HIM, starring alongside James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Viola Davis (Cannes International Film festival 2014). THE FACE OF LOVE opposite Annette Bening, Ed Harris, and Robin Williams (TIFF 2013). WHO WE ARE NOW opposite Julianne Nicholson (TIFF in 2017), FREE SAMPLES with Jesse Eisenberg (Tribeca 2012), SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME with Nick Offerman and Keith Paulson (SXSW 2012 audience award, Locarno Special Jury Prize),ALEXANDER THE LAST with Amy Seimetz (IFC 2009), LAMB (SXSW 2015), SISTER CITIES opposite Jackie Weaver(2016). ENTANGLEMENT opposite Thomas Middleditch (2017), CHAINED FOR LIFE opposite Adam Pearson, THE DEATH OF DICK LONG directed by Daniel Scheinert (Sundance 2018), IT Chapter Two (Warner Bros 2019), and soon to be released EVE directed by Tate Taylor. She took on the role of writer/director in APARTMENT TROUBLES (Los Angeles Film Festival 2014), a feature she co-wrote, co-directed, and co-starred in with Jennifer Prediger also starring Will Forte, Jeffrey Tambor, and Megan Mullally. On television she was a series regular on the AMC drama series THE SON opposite Pierce Brosnan and in the CBS hit drama THE GOOD WIFE over three seasons.
About the filmmaker – Joshua Leonard (“Elliot”) Writer / Director / Editor first came onto the scene in 1999 with the lo-fi sensation THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. His directorial debut, THE YOUTH IN US premiered at Sundance in ’05. Award-winning art doc, BEAUTIFUL LOSERS followed in ‘09. He then made his narrative feature debut as director, writer and star with THE LIE (Sundance ’11). Recently, he completed his sophomore feature as director and co-writer with BEHOLD MY HEART, which stars Marisa Tomei, Mireille Enos and Timothy Olyphant. In 2017, Leonard also developed a one-hour TV series with acclaimed director, Cary Fukunaga for EPIX. As an actor, Leonard continues to work on projects that push the envelope, most recently starring in Steven Soderbergh’s latest film, UNSANE. He received rave reviews for his performance in Lynn Shelton’s Independent Spirit Award-winning HUMPDAY and co-starred opposite Chloe Grace Moretz in Warner Bros’ IF I STAY. Leonard can also frequently be seen on television in shows like HBO’s True Detective and Togetherness and A&E’s Bates Motel. Leonard has directed music videos for popular acts such as Fitz and the Tantrums, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Harper Simon and Morcheeba, as well as teaching directing, writing and acting at The New York Film Academy, UC Irvine & Santa Barbara and Academia Internacional De Cinema in Sao Paolo, Brazil. He began his career working with documentarians and experimental filmmakers at Mystic Fire Video, where he worked on films with subjects ranging from famed beat poet Alan Ginsburg, the Dalai Lama and comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell.
“Charming… This duo shouldn’t wait another decade to cook up another idea.” – Kate Erbland, IndieWire
“Due to their easy energy and Leonard’s subtle, lo-fi direction and tone (shadows of the modern master of comedic discomfort, Onur Tukel), Fully Realized Humans is a lot more complete than it first seems.” – Richard Whittaker, Austin Chronicle
“A sometimes hilarious post-mumblecore meditation, rumination and romp about getting prepared (for childbirth) and realizing how unprepared you are…and panicking.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation
“No parent is perfect. But some movies can achieve that greatness, and this 74-minute roller coaster of emotions is about as flawless as microbudget dramedies get.” – Asher Luberto, The Playlist
“Will likely strike a chord with many audience members, bolstering Leonard’s and Weixler’s reps as tellers of unusual tales for kinda-sorta grown-ups.” – John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter
Alvin Ailey was a trailblazing pioneer who found salvation through dance. AILEY traces the full contours of this brilliant and enigmatic man whose search for the truth in movement resulted in enduring choreography that centers on the Black American experience with grace, strength, and unparalleled beauty. Told through Ailey’s own words and featuring evocative archival footage and interviews with those who intimately knew him, director Jamila Wignot weaves together a resonant biography of an elusive visionary. Many know the name Alvin Ailey, but how many know the man? Ailey’s commitment to searching for truth in movement resulted in pioneering and enduring choreography that centers on African American experiences. Director Jamila Wignot’s resonant biography grants artful access to the elusive visionary who founded one of the world’s most renowned dance companies, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Director Jamila Wignot joins us to talk about the remarkably creative choreographer who never stopped searching for the truth and clarity of dance and how his desire to mentor and nurture others will insure an artistic legacy matched by few others.
Director’s Statement – Nothing prepares you for the experience of Ailey—the emotional, spiritual, aural, and visual overwhelm the senses. As a filmmaker, I am drawn to stories about artists like Alvin Ailey—innovators who tenaciously follow their own voice and in doing redefined their chosen forms. Ailey’s dances—celebrations of African American beauty and history—did more than move bodies; they opened minds. His dances were revolutionary social statements that staked a claim as powerful in his own time as in ours: Black life is central to the American story and deserves a central place in American art and on the world stage. A working-class, gay, Black man, he rose to prominence in a society that made every effort to exclude him. He transformed the world of dance and made space for those of us on the margins—space for black artists like Rennie Harris and me. I am inspired by subjective documentary portraits like Tom Volf’s Maria by Callas and Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro, and by the poetic cinematic approaches of films such as Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight and Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven. My aim was to blend these influences into a sensorial, poetic documentary portrait. – Jamila Wignot
About the filmmaker – Jamila Wignot is a documentary filmmaker based in New York. Her directing work includes two episodes of the Peabody, Emmy and NAACP award-winning series The African-Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (PBS), hosted by Henry Louis Gates and chronicling the five hundred year history of African Americans; Town Hall (co-directed with Sierra Pettingill), a feature-length co-production with ITVS following Tea Party activists determined to unseat Barack Obama; and, for PBS’s American Experience series, the Peabody Award-winning Triangle Fire and Emmy-nominated Walt Whitman. Jamila’s producing credits include W. Kamau Bell’s Bring The Pain (A&E); Sundance award-winning director Musa Syeed’s narrative feature A Stray (SXSW); Street Fighting Men, following the Black Detroiters fighting for the city they love; and The Rehnquist Revolution, the fourth episode of WNET’s series The Supreme Court, which was an IDA Best Limited Series winner. – For more go to: insigniafilms.com/Ailey
“Perhaps the greatest gift of this tightly conceived and beautiful doc lies in its appreciation of the divinity of dance.” – Lovia Gyarkye, Hollywood Reporter
“Wignot layers images, video and – most important – voice-overs from Ailey to create a portrait that feels as poetic and nuanced as choreography itself.” – Gia Kourlas, New York Times
“His legacy should be … how his dancers continue to breathe life into his choreography, a nod to his words. No one should miss Ailey. Though categorized as a documentary, the film captures creativity at its best.” – Wendy Shreve, Featuring Film
“Wignot masterfully weaves the present with the past in a way that causes her movie to surge with urgency.” – Oliver Jones, Observer
“Alvin Ailey sacrificed the pain, joy, and memorable moments of his life as a tapestry for his dance genius that lives with us always captured in a layered, emotional doc by Jamila Wignot” – Carla Renata, The Curvy Film Critic
Director Kristine Stolakis intimate and moving documentary, Pray Away, starts with the words “I lived transgender, but I left it all to follow Jesus.” So explains self-identified ‘ex-trans’ Jeffrey, whose belief that change is possible reflects the core message of the conversion therapy movement today. Former leaders of the “pray the gay away” movement contend with the aftermath unleashed by their actions, while a survivor seeks healing and acceptance from more than a decade of trauma From there, PRAY AWAY takes us back to the 1970s, five men struggling with being gay in their Evangelical church started a bible study to help each other leave the “homosexual lifestyle.” They quickly received over 25,000 letters from people asking for help and formalized as Exodus International, the largest and most controversial conversion therapy organization in the world. Julie is one of hundreds of thousands of people caught in Exodus’ wake. Former leaders of the “pray the gay away” movement contend with the aftermath unleashed by their actions, while a survivor seeks healing and acceptance from more than a decade of trauma. After years as Christian superstars in the religious right, Julie and many have come out as LGBTQ, disavowing the very movement they helped start. PRAY AWAY chronicles that movement’s rise to power, persistent influence, and the harm it causes. Director Kristine Stokalis and Producer Jessica Devaney join us to talk about the politicalization of gay rights in the 1980s by the Far Right led by Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich and James Dobson, as well as the psychological, religious, cultural, and economic pressure brought to bear on people who live a non-conforming sexuality.
About the filmmaker – Kristine Stolakis (Director/Producer) is a documentary film director whose work wrestles with politics, prejudice, and power. Her debut feature PRAY AWAY takes you inside the history and continuation of the “pray the gay away” or ex-gay movement, and is a Multitude Films production. It is supported by the Catapult Film Fund, Tribeca Film Institute, Hartley Film Foundation, Chicken & Egg Pictures, and SFFilm. Her directorial debut THE TYPIST (Hot Docs 2015) cracks open the untold story of a closeted Korean War veteran tasked with writing the military dishonorable discharges of outed LGBTQ seamen. It was released by KQED and is currently a Vimeo Staff Pick. WHERE WE STAND (DOC NYC 2015) chronicles a group of Mormon women fighting for equal rights inside their church, and was released by The Atlantic and nominated for a Student BAFTA. She also produced ATTLA (Independent Lens 2019), a co-production of ITVS and Vision Maker Media. Her filmmaking approach is shaped by her background in anthropology, journalism, politics, and community art. She holds an MFA in Documentary Film from Stanford University, where she currently lectures, a BA in Cultural Anthropology from New York University, and has received further training at UC Berkley’s Investigative Reporting Program. She proudly hails from North Carolina and central New York. She is the founder of Lamplighter Films.
About the filmmaker – Anya Rous is a Brooklyn-based Producer and Vice President of Production at Multitude Films, an independent production company dedicated to telling stories by and about underrepresented communities. Anya co-produced the following critically-acclaimed films: ALWAYS IN SEASON (Independent Lens), which premiered in competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and won the Special Jury Award for Moral Urgency, THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED (Tribeca 2018, PBS) dubbed “a journalistic thriller” by The New York Times, and NAILA AND THE UPRISING (IDFA 2017, PBS), and co-executive produced CALL HER GANDA (Tribeca 2018, PBS). Anya brings a combined 10 years of experience in funding strategy and impact campaigns for stories that further movements for racial, economic, and gender justice. She formerly served as the Director of Strategic Relationships at Just Vision, as a grantmaker at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, and the coordinator of a multi-state oral history project at the Bob Bullock State History Museum in Austin, TX. Anya is a Sundance Creative Producing Fellow and an Impact Partners Documentary Producing Fellow. She is also on the board of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.
“A sobering account of Christian intervention rooted in toxic homophobia.” – David Rooney – Hollywood Reporter
“Pray Away invites the viewer into a world that many would like to think doesn’t exist much anymore, but is in fact, quite prevalent.” – Brian Shaer, Film Threat
“Such visual reenforcement is constant, as we see footage of many so-called “ex-ex-gays” when they were being tortured by their ministries alongside footage of them looking far happier after they escaped.” – Dan Callahan, TheWrap
“Pray Away is an essential film for my fellow Evangelicals, who need to see the gay Christian issue from a different perspective that we’ve been resistant to see from the beginning.” – Alan Ng, Film Threat
“Pray Away gives a platform for these individuals to tell their story, and even to speak against conversion therapy, providing a chance for forgiveness and salvation.” – Stephanie Archer, Film Inquiry
What if one of the best days of your life suddenly turned into one of your worst nightmares?And what if you were forced to relive that same day again and again? From Director Craig Singer comes a pulse-pounding, time-looping psychological thriller about a dream vacation gone very, very bad. Bobby Patterson (Michael Reed) is taking one last romantic shot at saving his rocky relationship with his girlfriend, Jules Rables (Augie Duke) on a weekend getaway to the picturesque island resort of Bog Grove. To their bewilderment, the sleepy beach town is curiously deserted, but they soon learn about its notorious and bloody history – one that’s about to repeat itself again and again… The pair’s relationship issues are quickly cast aside in order to overcome a demented cycle of terror in which they’re seemingly trapped. And no matter what great lengths they take to avoid it, Bobby and Jules awake at 6:45 each morning to a nightmarish chain of events with no escape. Written by Robert Dean Klein (Little Fish, Strange Pond, A Good Night To Die), 6:45 stars Michael Reed (Missing William), Augie Duke (Amazon’s Red Oaks, 6 Years, 4 Months & 23 Days) and Thomas G. Waites (Savant, The Thing, The Warriors), Armen Garo (The Departed, The Sopranos) rappers Remy Ma (Queen of the South) and The 45 King (Hancock), boxing Hall of Famer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini (The Plot Against America). Director Craig Singer (Dark Ride, Perkins 14, Animal Room) joins us for a conversation on the challenges of pulling together a film project during a pandemic, working with a talented cast and crew and how taking the time loop theme into the realm of psychological thriller / horror opened up 6:45 to the exploration of a twisted love story.
Director’s statement – I was an executive with Disney, and while 6:45 is a far cry from family-friendly cartoons or happy endings, I had long thought about developing a Groundhog Day-type horror film. I’ve always been fascinated by the supernatural and the psychological and where the two intersect. My longtime writing partner Robert Dean Klein and I began working on the concept many years ago, and ironically, we finally started shooting 6:45 with a wonderful, eclectic group of young talented artists about two weeks before the world turned upside down due to COVID -19. 6:45 imagines what it would be like if the best days of your life suddenly turned into your very worst nightmare and you were forced to relive that same day again and again. But the interesting thing is that the plot, which is sort of a ‘Groundhog Day’ horror, has become rather relevant to what we have all just experienced with the pandemic — the same bad day over and over again. None of us could have predicted this, but it’s incredibly coincidental and bittersweet at the same time.
About the filmmaker – Director Craig Singer – After directing, writing and producing several Award Winning shorts and feature films (one starring Neil Patrick Harris, fresh off Doogie Howser fame), Craig Singer went on to found FanLib and My 2 Centences, companies that predicted the integration of film with internet and social media.In 2008 he sold the companies to The Walt Disney Company, where he took a creative VP role – Disney Online Originals develops and produces series for Disney Online’s sites and brands including Disney.com and Disney Family. A dynamic, Emmy nominated, award-winning filmmaker and new media executive – Singer is a results-driven, strategic thinker and media visionary with decades-long media expertise. Known as a creative leader and clear communicator with an innate ability to identify and resolve problems with a trust building empowering management style. Singer has a proven record of successful launch strategies with an exemplary record of leading creative teams for small to large privately-held and public companies. Singer has been recognized for comfortably interfacing at all levels of a vast global network andwas nominated for an Emmy in the interactive fiction category in 2008. Singer’s series have also been honored many times by both the Tellys and Webbys.
Guilt ridden FBI agent Tony Cruz is obsessed with finding his missing sister and catching the psychopath who murdered his mother. His childhood trauma developed into nyctophobia, an irrational fear of the dark, a condition he overcame over the years… or so he thought…Armed with the relentless purpose of catching the killer and undying hope of finding his sister, Tony descends into an underworld of sex traffickers and death, where a demon from his past awaits…Director and co-writer Maria Gabriela Cardenas stops by to talk about working with her father, Oscar Cardenas (Bon Appettit, The Groom) as well as Selma Blair, Bill Bellamy and Graham Greene and the life changing experience of her first day on set as the film’s director.
A twenty-something couple (Segan and Baird) venturing from Hollywood to Joshua Tree in an attempt to quit smoking together, find their emotions unmasked. We see them cheating, lying and struggling valiantly to overcome their enslavement to smoking. As we share the pain and torture the couple put themselves through in the name of love and pleasure, we also learn that smoking is truly a metaphor for their equally addictive relationship. Their extreme passion (whether fighting or making up afterwards) turns out to be a measure of their love for each other. Whether they like it or not, they cannot escape destiny or the temptations that lead them there. QUITis a relationship story about our attachment to inner needs and desires, and the awakening to what those are. Starring Noah Segan (Knives Out, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi) and the enthralling Diora Baird (Netflix’s Cobra Kai, Wedding Crashers,) as our couple, alongside Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time), Nathan Phillips (Snakes on a Plane, Wolf Creek,), and Don Swayze (Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, The Visitation). Director and co-writer Dick Rude (Repo Man, Walker, Straight to Hell) stops by to talk about love, relationships, smoking, living life on your terms and creating art.
QUIT will be available for audiences to stream on Amazon Prime, Vudu, Tubi and other streaming platforms along with across TVOD platforms iTunes, Fandango Now, Google Play, YouTube, among others globally to rent or buy beginning on June 25th.
About the filmmaker – Dick Rude was born and raised in Los Angeles. His film career began at the age of 15 when he attended the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. As an actor he has appeared in several films including “Sid and Nancy”, “The Wild Life” and “Repo Man,” which he also participated in as a contributing writer. Rude left UCLA Film School to co-write and star in “Straight to Hell,” which features such notables as Dennis Hopper, Courtney Love and Elvis Costello. His other writing credits include a pilot for Sophia Coppola, “Hi Octane” and an un-produced script commissioned by River Phoenix. As a Producer/Director, Rude has done several music videos. His latest accomplishments have been music documentaries for Blonde Redhead: “Nothing Something,” Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Off the Map” and “LA Punk – The First Five Years,” featured on the “Punk Attitude” DVD. His latest film “Let’s Rock Again!” has received widespread acclaim and recognition. Dick Rude is currently preparing for his next film “The Asshole” with his friend and Executive Producer Jim Jarmusch. dickrude.biz
New York Advertising Executive William Edgar (Jimmy Levar) William Edgar inhabits a strange dream-like reality.His obsession with a mysterious woman leads down a bizarre, dark path of signs and wonders. Sometimes finding the girl of your dreams can be a nightmare. New York Advertising Executive William Edgar (Jimmy Levar) is mesmerized by a series of hypnotic dreams that blur the lines between fantasy and reality.His life is thrown into disarray when forced to choose between his career, his relationships and his romantic obsession with a mysterious woman, (Christina Chu)Doing whatever it takes to find her, leads down a bizarre, dark path of signs and wonders, William soon discovers that finding the girl of your dreams can be a nightmare. Director / Writer / Producer / Cinematographer / Editor / Colorist Stephen Rutterford (Hana So & So, Home by Six) joins us to talk about his mind-blowing, highly cinematic fevered dream of obsession, mortality, love, music, missed opportunity, coffee and a very important sales meeting.
Director’s Statement. – Films are like dreams; They allow us to escape our everyday reality for a fleeting moment. Carl Jung once said “Who looks outside, Dreams; Who looks inside, Awakes.” In this film we see William Edgar’s life unravelling before us. His dream life becoming more real and his real life becoming more dream-like. I have always been fascinated with dreams. Why we have them and what they mean. They are like a parallel universe that exists within us. Finding Ophelia has several “meditative moments.” By using unusual sounds, movement, abstract shapes, symbolic imagery and bold color, I intended these scenes to act like moving abstract paintings that evoke certain emotions, enabling the viewer to drift off into their subconscious. This allows us to get inside the mind of the lead character and feel what he’s feeling. The film is shot with the realism of a documentary-style, but executed in a hyper-real, dream-like fashion. Much of the imagery for the film came to me when listening to music. The kind of ethereal soundscapes with drones that take your mind to another place. So the soundtrack played a very important part in how the story was told. It had to take you out of your mind and out of your comfort zone. Thankfully I was able to collaborate with some very innovative, experimental musicians like Ben Runyan, The Prolificators DVR/ EFKTS and Brainorchestra. Once I had these abstract ideas, I then began to thread them together into a single narrative. We all desire idols in our life; It can be love, money, power and more recently our continual urge for entertainment. What idol would you walk a treacherous path to reach?For Wiliam Edgar it was “Love;” The desire to find the girl of his dreams. Unfortunately for him it turned out to be a nightmare. – Stephen Rutterford.
About the filmmaker – Stephen Rutterford is a British born Director and Visual Artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Cutting his teeth in Advertising as a Creative Director, Rutterford has collaborated with artists including Pharrell Williams, Talib Kweli, Astronautica, Shepard Fairey, Faile, D*Face and Michel Gon- dry, and has directed music videos for Black Asteroid, Hana, Fashawn, The IZM, Just Process (feat. Joannie Jimenez ) and Chris Stylez. His debut short film ”Back Page Ripper” garnered over 23 official selections at film festivals Worldwide. Including Winner of The LA indie Film festival for best short film. He is the Director and Producer of multi award winning independent feature film “Finding Ophelia” starring Jimmy Levar and Christina Chu. For more go to: shadowrunner.industries
Director Magnus von Horn’s SWEAT chronicles the harrowing journey of the beloved fitness influencer Sylwia (Magdalena Koleśnik, in a star-making role) who has seemingly has it made: hundreds of thousands of social media followers, endorsement deals, photo spreads in magazines. But as she starts to share more and more online, the rising pressure from concerned sponsors and increasingly obsessive fans forces her to confront her deepest insecurities and the exhaustive demands of her lifestyle. Director Magnus von Horn joins us for a conversation on his feature film debut, his inspiration for a story that managesto capture a cultural zeitgeist, the transactional nature of fame and the mesmerizing performance by newcomer Magdalena Koleśnik.
About the filmmaker – Magnus von Horn was born in 1983 in Gothenburg, Sweden. He graduated from the Polish National Film School in Łódź in 2013, where he now teaches directing. His debut feature The Here After (2015) premiered at the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes in 2015 and won two Swedish Guldbagge Awards for Best Film and Best Director. He took part in the TorinoFilmLab for his second feature, Sweat (2020).
“Sweat is one of the first great films about an influencer. Magnus von Horn’s Sweat avoids the cliche of portraying an Instagram influencer as shallow and instead extends empathy to her and her fans.” – Orla Smith, Seventh Row
“In her first leading role, Kolesnik is as irresistible as an energy bar, exploring the Insta-queen’s shallow depths with cunning sincerity.” – Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter
“SWEAT is not a stalker thriller. Instead, it’s a rivetingly sober, incisive investigation of loneliness and intimacy in the Instagram era, a psychological profile of an influencer.” – Zhuo-Ning Su, Awards Daily
“Kolesnik is such a magnetic screen presence it’s a wonder that this movie marks her first leading role.” – Eric Kohn, indieWire
In 1921, white mobs in Tulsa terrorized and burned down the Greenwood District, known as “Negro Wall Street.”With the discovery of a mass grave, the city reckons with its painful past.In the early 20th century, racial violence erupted in dozens of cities across the United States. Hundreds were killed. Black communities fought back, rebuilt, and prospered in the face of extreme oppression and the evils of white supremacy.RISE AGAIN: TULSA AND THE RED SUMMER comes one hundred years from the two-day Tulsa Massacre in 1921 that led to the murder of hundreds of Black people and left thousands homeless and displaced. Award-winning Washington Post journalist and Oklahoma native DeNeen Brown is at the heart of the film, reporting on the search for a mass grave in her native state. Digging into the events that led to one of the worst episodes of racial violence in America’s history, Brown reveals insights into racial conflict incidents that erupted in the early 20th century. Between 1917 and 1923, when Jim Crow laws were at their height and the Klu Klux Klan was resurging across the nation, scores of Black homes and businesses were razed, and hundreds of Black people were lynched and massacred with impunity. Brown’s reporting highlights the revived call for justice for victims and survivors. Following a 2018 investigative report, Brown explores the current anti-racism movement in the context of the Tulsa Massacre and the Red Summer. With access to family members of those killed, city officials, archeologists, and historians, the film reveals the decades-long effort by descendants and community members to find victims’ bodies and unearth truths that have been suppressed for nearly a century. RISE AGAIN: TULSA AND THE RED SUMMER also untangles the role the media played in covering events at the time in order to reveal the full extent of the nation’s buried past. Director Dawn Porter joins us for a sobering conversation about the shameful abandonment of Reconstruction, the shameless racism of President Wilson, the planned, military grade assault on the Tulsa’s Black community of Greenwood and the buried, figuratively and literally, history that continues to haunt our country.
About the filmmaker – Dawn Porter’s is an award-winning filmmaker, producer, and mental health/social justice advocate who has emerged in the entertainment industry as a leader in the art of storytelling. She made her feature directorial debut in 2013 with Gideon’s Army, which premiered on HBO, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and an Emmy, won Best Editing at Sundance, and is now part of the U.S. Department of State’s American Film Showcase. Her 2016 film Trapped, which explores laws regulating abortion clinics in the South, won the Special Jury Social-Impact Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, and a Peabody Award. She is set to direct and executive produce Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry’s upcoming documentary series on mental illness and mental well-being for Apple TV+. For more go to: trilogy-films.com
Award-winning documentary filmmaker Brendan J. Byrne (Bill Bulger, now 85, was State Senate President for almost 20 years in Massachusetts. His older brother James ‘Whitey’ Bulger was a Boston gangster who was murdered in prison on October 30th 2018, aged 89. MY NAME IS BULGER weaves its way through the stories of both brothers and their respective rises and falls. Featuring intimate interviews with family and an exclusive conversation with James Bulger’s girlfriend and partner, Catherine Greig, the film strips away the hysteria of daily print headlines and nightly news bulletins to unfold the story of a unique American family who crave to be judged for who they are and what they’ve done, not what their infamous relative did. Director Brendan J Byrne (Elian, 66 Days, One Million American Dreams) joins us for a conversation on the breaking through the noise and perceptions that have clouded the Bulger family legacy and how even the story about the most notorious Bulger, James “Whitey” Bulger is not what you may think it is.
About the filmmaker – Brendan J Byrne, Producer/Director, Executive Producer, Hotshot Films Brendan began his filmmaking career in 1992 with an award-winning debut film The Kickhams (1993, C4), an exploration of political identity told through the story of his Gaelic Football team which he played for. This was followed by How Far Home (1998 C4), the story of Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four for Channel 4’s prestigious ‘Films of Fire’ season. This documentary united individuals from The Birmingham Six, The Bridgewater Three and The Guildford Four for the first time on television and received ‘Pick of The Day’ in 7 national newspapers. In 2000 Brendan produced and directed the critically acclaimed Lines of Fire, a film celebrating the poetry of the Northern Ireland Troubles featuring poets Seamus Heaney, Tom Paulin and Michael Longley together with actors Stephen Rea, Adrian Dunbar, Brid Brennan and Ian McElhinney. Brendan has been a long time collaborator with international auteur John T Davis (Shellshock Rock, Hobo, Dust on the Bible, Power in the Blood) and produced his feature length autobiographical film The Uncle Jack in 1996. Brendan has executive produced over 50 hours of television for BBC Television. In 2005 Brendan was the Irish Producer on The Secret Life of Words, the Pedro Almodovar produced film starring Tim Robbins, Sarah Polley and Julie Christie. For more go to: finepointfilms.com
Director Liam Le Guillou’s feature documentary debut AN UNKNOWN COMPELLING FORCE is the True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident, known as Russia’s greatest unsolved mystery. In 1959 a group of student hikers were attempting a difficult winter expedition in the remote Ural Mountains of Russia when an unknown event lead to the mysterious deaths of all nine. When the team failed to report back, search parties lead by the Soviet Government and fellow students uncovered the grizzly remains of the hikers. Found a mile from their shredded tent, they seemingly fled into the freezing temperatures without their winter clothes or boots. Adding to the mystery, many of the bodies had suffered brutal and inexplicable injuries, and some even showed traces of radiation. The case was closed by investigators at the time, stating that the hikers died from “An Unknown Compelling Force.” For more than 60 years the story has been shrouded in mystery and conspiracy theories, suggesting everything from UFO’s, murder to a Soviet Government cover-up. British adventure filmmaker Liam Le Guillou travels under the radar to Russia in search of answers. Braving the dangerous conditions and hundreds of kilometers in sub-polar conditions, Director Liam Le Guillou and his team attempts to reach the very location of the incident, a place the locals call “The Dead Mountain.” To uncover the truth, the film also speaks to experts in the U.S. including a former FBI Agent and the former Marin County Coroner to finally reveal the stunning truth of The Dyatlov Pass Incident.
An Unknown Compelling Force will be available digitally to purchase or rent on June 15th.
Director’s Statement – Have you ever fallen down the rabbit-hole of an internet mystery so hard that you dropped everything and set off around the world to find the truth? Neither had I, until I discovered the Dyatlov Pass Incident, and it changed my life forever. Reading through hundreds of online articles and blog posts, and watching hours of online YouTube videos, I realized that everyone was repackaging the same tired “facts” of the case. The brutal injuries found on the bodies of the hikers fueled wild theories including UFOs, military weapon tests, and even an attack from the Russian Yeti! Finding officially verifiable information was almost impossible, and it was driving me crazy. That’s when I managed to make contact with the founder of the Dyatlov Foundation in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Yuri Kuntsevich was willing to help me on my journey to find answers in this highly unusual case. I realized that the opportunity for an adventure of a lifetime had just opened its doors to me. That’s how An Unknown Compelling Force was born, but the decision to go to Russia and attempt to reach the Dyatlov Pass was not taken lightly. The site of the incident is deep in the Ural Mountains, where the average temperature for our expedition would be -13F / -25C. And I still didn’t know what actually caused the hikers’ deaths, or even if there was still a threat at the place known by the locals as “The Dead Mountain.” The driving force behind my choice to take that risk was my need to separate fact from fiction, and to try to make some sense of this terrible and enduring mystery. The hikers diaries, which were found in the abandoned tent, gave me insight into their friendships and their love of adventure. And as I followed in their footsteps, their words and photos gave me a deeper understanding and connection to their journey. For me, An Unknown Compelling Force is both a documentary that dispels the wild myths of the case and brings us closer to the truth. But most importantly, it’s a story about the real people who lost their lives in search of an adventure. – Liam Le Guillou
About the filmmaker – Director Liam Le Guillou, grew up on the British island of Jersey, where he began his career in television news and documentary. Based in the U.S. since 2012, Liam has filmed and produced many adventurous short-form documentaries around the globe for major digital platforms and commercial brands. An Unknown Compelling Force, is Liam Le Guillou’s first feature length documentary, combining his interest in true crime stories and adventure travel. For more go to: liamleguillou.com