Friday, July 31, 2020

The Cuban, Featuring the Music of Hilario Duran

Afro-Cuban jazz exploded in late 1940s New York when Dizzy Gillespie collaborated with musicians like Mario Bauza and Chano Pozo. The fictional Luis Garcia was very much a part of the scene, but he had disappeared by the time of the second Afro-Cuban boom in the 1980s. Sadly, the years were not kind to Garcia, but a young care-giver at his long-term nursing facility reawakens some of his memories through good music and good food in Sergio Navarretta’s The Cuban, featuring the music of Hilario Duran, which opens virtually today.

The Canadian nursing home staff only knows him as “Mr. Garcia,” whom they consider “difficult.” He hardly ever eats and he will lash out from time to time. However, Mina Ayoub notices his Benny More poster, so she starts humming one of the Latin Jazz songs she learned from her grandfather, which seems to get a glimmer of recognition from Garcia. Soon she is sneaking him Cuban food (in violation of the head nurse’s strict rules) and letting him listen to Afro-Cuban jazz during meals.

Ironically, Mina’s sudden deep dive into Cuban culture leads her protective Aunt Bano to suspect she is getting carried away with a man. As it happens, Ayoub has started seeing Kris, a grad student, who has some expertise in vascular dementia and music therapy, but she hasn’t let it get serious yet. Since they still maintain social ties with friends and family from Kabul, it would be difficult for her to pursue a relationship with a non-Muslim, as her cousin’s recent arranged marriage awkwardly illustrates.

Navarretta and screenwriter Alessandra Piccione pull off a tricky balance, allowing Ayoab to make just enough of a connection with Garcia to justify the film’s enthusiasm for music therapy, without raising unrealistic expectations. Sadly, he will never be self-sufficient or even lucid by any meaningful standard, but he might just play again. Of course, Ayoab’s hazy resemblance to his great, lost love is an easy contrivance, but Navarretta and company try their best not to overplay it.

The best part is everyone involves understands the importance of the music itself. Duran composed, adapted, and performed a real-deal Afro-Cuban soundtrack. His opening theme captures the perfect tone of elegant melancholy, while tracks like “El Canonero,” “Mambo Rico,” and “Descarga En Changui” are exuberantly brassy and percussively rhythmic. Duran also puts his stamp on crowd-pleasing standards like “Guantanamera,” (one of the best versions recorded in quite a while, thanks one of several terrific trumpet solos from Alexis Baro). Plus, Alberto Alberto and lead actress Ana Golja contribute some soulful vocals.

The cast is pretty good too, starting with Oscar-winner Louis Gossett Jr., who resists the temptation of a big “acting moment,” portraying Garcia in a scrupulously realistic manner. Golja has good vocal chops, but also convincingly conveys Ayoub’s growing self-assurance as she comes out of her shell. Likewise, the great Shohreh Aghdashloo brings further depth and dignity to the film as Aunt Bano, who we come to understand survived great prejudice and disappointment in her native Afghanistan. Frankly, it is a little mind-blowing to see Lauren Holly playing the Nurse Ratched character, but she is as good as anyone could be in the thankless role.

There is not getting around it—getting old is a drag, but it is amazing how much good music helps. That is modest takeaway from
The Cuban, which Duran overwhelmingly proves. Honestly, it is so refreshing to see a film about jazz musicians that has confidence in the audience to appreciate the music they play. Very highly recommended, The Cuban opens virtually today (7/31).

Marley (2012) is released starting today

This is going to be short and sweet but if you've never seen Kevin Macdonald's documentary MARLEY about the late great Bob Marley you now can correct that wrong with the film hitting virtual and real theaters in honor of Marley's 75th birthday.

Macdonald's film is a staggering achievement. Running almost two and a half hours this is everything you ever wanted to know about the man, his music and his influence. Macdonald talks to everyone and through it all he weaves in interviews with the man himself  so that we get to hear about things from every perspective.

And of course there is the music. Filling the film from start to finish is not only Marley's music but also the music that influenced him. Its magical. It's so magical that I agreed to take yet another look at the film just so I could have an excuse to just sit and listen to the music.

I can't recommend this film enough. If you love Bob Marley's music and have never seen this film you must. If you don't know Marley and his music then you must see this because it will open your eyes as to how he changed the world.

MARLEY is in virtual theaters starting today and in select theaters and drive ins as well.

Stay At Home Fest Bonus Films: Samuel Beckett's Endgame

This is a great film- not just a great Beckett adaption but a great film on it's own.

Thursday, July 30, 2020


Charles and Maryanne Bailey run a long surviving accounting firm. They look back on three of their employees from the 1980's.

Mockumentary style short film is full of laughs and smiles. Inspired by actual stories told to director Chase Pearson by his grandparents the film plays very much like an actual documentary. That's due in part to Pearson keeping the story very close to reality. Nothing gets too far out of control. Mostly it's due to the fact that Pearson has cast this film dead nuts perfectly. Watching the initial section of the film I was a bit confused because I thought this was documentary. It wasn't until Timothy Cox showed up as the younger version of Charles Bailey that I was certain this was a comedy.

This is a solid little film that I kind of wish could be expanded into a feature film. I say this having no idea where it would go but only because I would like to spend more time with these characters.

Stay At Home Fest Bonus FIlms: Weird Race Tracks and the Worst Roller Coasters

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Japan Cuts Capsule Reviews: SPECIAL ACTORS, ROAR and SACRIFICE

Here is brief word on three Japan Cuts titles

Shinichiro Ueda’s follow up to ONE CUT OF THE DEAD is about an acting wannabe who gets hired by the Special Actors, a group specializing in helping people in various situations where they need to look strong or get out of trouble. He gets sucked into the group helping a woman save her family inn from a cult.

It is a sweetly charming little film that will delight pretty much everyone willing to go on its quirky ride.

Two parallel tales of violence has a young man following a mysterious man who is hired to beat people up and the tale of a young woman who is put under more and more pressure to have an affair with a co-worker. A visceral gut punch of a film that is trip on the dark side.

Dark brooding film that moves at a break neck speed concerns a young woman who had predicted the 3/11 disaster while she was in a cult. She now is still having visions. Meanwhile a classmate begins to suspect begins to realize that another classmate maybe a killer. Full of conspiracy theories and characters with an off kilter way of viewing the world director Taku Tsuboi goes against the urge to go big and keeps it small and realistic. This forces us to engage and lean into all that is happening. It’s a bold move that engages us on a deeper level since everything plays out more like real life getting under our skin instead of being something easily dismissed.

For information on these or any other Japan Cuts film go here.

Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind (2019) hits virtual theaters today

Portrait of the legendary singer songwriter who influenced generations of performers. It is a loving portrait with tons of great stories.

Beginning with a discussion of Lightfoot's song That's What You Get For Loving Me, which he hates, the film snaps back to the beginning of his story as he, and his friends and admirers tell the story of his life. Filled with great music and great stories the film tells us everything we've ever wanted to know about his songs.

I have no idea what to say but this is a wonderful film. This is a an absolutely lovely and loving portrait of a great writer and performer. While never ground breaking the film is more engaging than than many flashier documentaries simply because it's about a man who can hold a stage all alone on a stage with a single guitar. If you've ever loved any of his songs you will love this film.

Just see it, just be ready to be listening to Lightfoot's music for days afterward.

GORDON LIGHTFOOT IF YOU COULD READ MY MIND hits virtual theaters beginning today. Check your local cinemas like the FIlm Forum to see if it playing in support of your local movie palace.

Stay At Home Festival Bonus FIlm: Tracking down the lost NASCAR Airbase Speedway

This is a nifty series that shows us what can happen when you put out a request for information on the web.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


Sydney, Australia – (July 28, 2020) RØDE Microphones has announced the return of the World’s Largest Short Film Competition, My RØDE Reel. Now in its 7th year, RØDE has once again upped the ante with a monumental $1 million in cash to be won. This is the biggest cash prize ever offered in a short film competition, affirming My RØDE Reel as the essential calendar event for filmmakers around the world. Entries are open Wednesday, July 29 12PM (AEST/GMT+10) and close Wednesday, October 7.

My RØDE Reel is the World’s Largest Short Film Competition. Over the last six years, more than 16,000 films have been submitted to the competition from 94 different countries, with RØDE giving away over $3.5 million in prizes to both emerging and established filmmakers. The competition has launched hundreds of careers through providing a global platform for filmmakers to gain exposure, offering grants and scholarships, and giving away tons of RØDE microphones and filmmaking gear. In 2020, My RØDE Reel is bigger and better than ever.

The winners of My RØDE Reel 2020 will receive a share of US$1 million, the biggest cash prize ever offered in a short film competition.

This announcement comes off the back of RØDE Founder and Chairman Peter Freedman’s purchase of Kurt Cobain’s iconic ‘MTV Unplugged’ guitar for a world record-breaking US $6.01 million at auction. The guitar was bought to spotlight the struggles of the global arts industry; Mr. Freedman plans to take it on a worldwide tour of exhibitions, with all proceeds (including the guitar) going to the performing arts.

“Giving creatives a leg up has always been fundamental to what we do as a company," says RØDE CEO Damien Wilson. "Whether it’s been through giving away gear, awarding scholarships or providing a platform to get their work in front of a huge audience, the objective of My RØDE Reel has always been to help filmmakers take the next step in their career.”

“We are incredibly excited to be giving away this massive cash prize,” he continues. “People in the film industry are doing it tough right now. This year, we wanted to not only give entrants the chance to win RØDE mics and awesome gear, but also offer a substantial amount of money to help kickstart the career of the next big thing, fund new projects, or cover living expenses so filmmakers can continue to work through these trying times. This money will make a big difference for a lot of people.”

The top three films for each of the competition categories will win a share in the $1 million cash prize pool except for the major prize, the Judges’ Choice, which has just one life-changing prize of $200,000.

There are 10 categories in total: five genre categories – Drama, Comedy, Action, Documentary, Animation and Behind-The-Scenes – and five special categories – Judges Choice, People’s Choice, Sound Design, Young Filmmaker, and Best Chinese Film. All-in-all, 28 filmmakers will win a share in the prize money.

As well as this incredible cash prize pool, RØDE is giving away 10 prize packs to the winners of the 10 categories. These are loaded with gear from the world’s leading filmmaking brands, including Lumix, Nanlite, Zhiyun, Mzed, Musicbed, Rhino, Adobe, Brevite, Pelican, Arri and, of course, RØDE microphones and accessories. Combined with the cash, this brings the total prize pool to over $1.5 million dollars, by far the biggest offering for any short film competition.

Visit the My RØDE Reel website for more information on the prizes and categories.

Entering My RØDE Reel is easy:
Head to and log in or sign up for an account to access the starter pack. This contains the My RØDE Reel title card, which must feature at the start of your film.
Make a 3-minute short film. The brief is completely open – use the different categories to inspire the direction of your film.
Make a 3-minute behind-the-scenes (BTS) film featuring a RØDE product.
Upload your short film and BTS to YouTube, then submit this link to
Share your film for a chance to win the People’s Choice Prizes.
For the full details on how to enter, head to and log in or sign up for an account. This contains the starter pack, information on the competition, freebies, tips, inspiration and more.

Entries are open tomorrow Wednesday, July 29 and close at 12PM (AEST/GMT+10) Wednesday, October 7, 2020. Head to for more info.

A brief piece on VOICES IN THE WIND (2019) Japan Cuts 2020

Devastating road trip  film has a 17 year old girl trying to come to terms with the deaths of her family in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. When the aunt who was taking care of her is feld by a stroke, she heads off on a journey. Along the way she hears about a phone that maybe able to put her in contact with her lost loved ones

Beautifully acted and hauntingly told this is a film that will stay with you long after the film has ended.

(Please forgive the brevity of this review, events in my personal life have made this a film very hard for me to talk about. Just know it's a stunner)

For more information on this and other Japan Cuts films go here

The Sin of Nora Moran (1933) is out on a killer Blu-Ray (and DVD) tomorrow

The independent THE SIN OF NORA MORAN is getting a release on Blu-Ray that will hopefully get many more eyes on this complex film that has confounded audiences for decades.

A failure when first released to theaters in 1933, the film has remained in the public consciousness thanks to the iconic poster by Alberto Vargas (a random person buying the Blu-Ray is going to win a framed print of the poster). Most people I know haven't seen the film but they damn sure have seen the poster.

The film is the tragic story of Nora Moran who suffers through tragedy after tragedy until she ends up taking the rap for her lover. Refusing to name names to save her life she heads toward to death chamber while her fate is pondered by various people connected to her story.

One of the most adult film that Hollywood produced in the early days of sound, this is a film that has some decidedly modern takes on rape, infidelity and the power of men over women. It's a film that doesn't pull it's punches with the result that the soapy tale has a real punch. It also results in a film that modern audiences who know film history will be puzzled by since it would be at least another three decades before the subjects were covered as frankly as they are in this film.

What doomed the film is the fact that director and Phil Goldstone and his crew restructured the story into a series of flashbacks and flashbacks within flashbacks. Apparently it wasn't done out of artistic desire but a budgetary need to just get the film done. It was a brilliant move but it left audiences confused. No film had ever really attempted anything like this. The film wasn't really interested in just telling the story from start to finish but rather it was interested in forcing the audience on  an emotional and psychological journey. Audiences had no idea how to react since the story is very far from being a straight narrative. People didn't know how to react, since they didn't know how to work with a film this completely.

As much as I admire the film, and as much as I think you need to see this film, I still don't absolutely love the film. First, and this is my own prejudice, I hate films that are this tragic. I hate that we are essentially waiting for the pain to end with the death of  our heroine. I hate these sort of films. (But that is my own problem). The other problem is the film for all its complexity is this is very soapy. The soap comes in the highly accentuated moments of emotion, particularly in the final moments. While its understandable considering when the film was made it, it is the only thing in the film that hasn't aged well

Minor quibbles aside, this film is a must, more so in the glorious restoration that hit Blu-Ray and DVD tomorrow.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Narrated by film historian and producer Samuel M. Sherman, an original documentary where Zita Johann’s illustrious career takes center stage from Daniel Griffith at Ballyhoo Motion Pictures; the Blu-ray includes English subtitles and the DVD closed captioning for the hearing impaired; and (Blu-ray edition only) an exclusive collector's booklet with commentary on the production of and response to the film.

Stay At Home Festival Bonus FIlm: The Devil's Triangle and UFO Target Earth

Sorry about this 50 minute documentary being in parts but it's the only way I could find it to post it. Back in the 1970's this was released to theaters with several different films where it messed up audiences with regularity.  Blame it on the mix of Richard Winer's images and Vincent Price's narration. I didn't sleep for days after seeing it and it made it's co feature- UFO TARGET EARTH seem scarier

The not so scary UFO TARGET EARTH

Monday, July 27, 2020

DNA 16 INAUGURAL “PER INVITE” VIRTUAL ITALIAN COMEDY FILM FESTIVAL JUL 31- SEP 5 2020 “From Italy with Laughter: A Comedy Film Festival Online with the IIC Los Angeles”

Los Angeles, CA, July 27, 2020: The Italian Cultural Institute Los Angeles, which promotes Italian art, culture and cinema with a focus on Southern California and the Southwest, is happy to launch in collaboration with movie distributor True Colors: “From Italy with Laughter: A Comedy Film Festival - Online with the IIC Los Angeles”.

“From Italy with Laughter: A Comedy Film Festival - Online with the IIC Los Angeles” will offer 2 Italian comedies each weekend available online once, from July 31 until September 5, 2020, only accessible from the US.

More details available at:

To register to get screening invites:

The line-up will be as follows:

US Premiere, one of the best performing movies at the Italian Box Office in 2019, directed by Giovanni Veronesi, starring Pierfrancesco Favino, Valerio Mastandrea, Rocco Papaleo, Sergio Rubini, Margherita Buy, Alessandro Haber, Matilde Gioli, Giulia Bevalacqua, Lele Vannoli, Valeria Solarino.

US Premiere, directed by Gianni Costantino, starring Roberto Lipari, Luca Zingaretti, Monica Guerritore.

August 7: SAY IT LOUD / CAMBIO TUTTO (2020)
US Premiere, directed by Guido Chiesa, starring Valentina Lodovini, Neri Marcorè, Libero De Rienzo, Nicola Nocella.

US Premiere, one of the best performing movies at the Italian Box Office in 2019, directed by Alessandro Siani, starring Alessandro SIani, Stefania Spampinato, Giovanni Esposito, Sara Ciocca.

Directed by Giancarlo Fontana & Guiseppe G. Stasi, starring Claudio Bisio, Sarah Felberbaum, Pietro Sermonti, Paolo Calabresi.

US Premiere, directed by Lillo & Greg, starring Lillo Petrolo, starring Lillo Petrolo, Claudio Gregori, Anna Foglietta (nominated for the Italian Golden Globe’20 for Best Comedic Actress for the role and master of Ceremony at the 2020 Venice Film Festival).

August 21: AS NEEDED / QUANTO BASTA (2018)
Previously screened at Santa Barbara International Film Festival’19, Denver International Film Festival’19, winner of the Audience Award of the Ajaccio Italian Film Festival’19, directed by Francesco Falaschi, starring Vinicio Marchioni, Valeria Solarino, Luigi Fedele, Nicola Siri, Mirko Frezza, Benedetta Porcaroli, Gianfranco Gallo, Alessandro Haber, Lucia Batassa, Giuseppe Laudisa.

Directed by Carlo Verdone, starring Carlo Verdone, Ilenia Pastorelli.

August 28: JUST BELIEVE / IO C’È (2018)
Directed by Alessandro Aronadio, starring Edoardo Leo, Margherita Buy, Giuseppe Battiston, Massimiliano Bruno, Giulia Michelini.

US Premiere, directed by Christian Marazziti, starring Fabrizio Bentivoglio, Ricky Memphis, Carolina Crescentini, Stefano Fresi, Antonia Liskova, Maurizio Mattioli, Giulia Elettra Gorietti.

September 4: THE HANDYMAN / IL TUTTOFARE (2018)
Directed by Valerio Attanasio, starring Sergio Castellitto, Guglielmo Poggi, Elena Sofia Ricci, Clara Alonso.

Previously screened at Chicago International Film Festival’18, directed by Francesca Archibugi, starring Claudio Bisio, Antonia Truppo, Cochi Ponzoni, Gaddo Bacchini.

The Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Los Angeles (IIC) is an office of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation founded in 1984 to promote Italian Culture in Southern California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Directed by Valeria Rumori since 2015, the Institute promotes Italian language and culture through courses and events organized in collaboration with numerous local institutions and Italian American organizations, with the goal of presenting Italy’s cultural richness and contributions in architecture, cinema, design literature, music, science, technology, theater and the visual arts. In an effort to continue offering a rich program during the safer at home period, the Institute organizes a series of webinars and online events which are also posted on its YouTube channel. In addition, the IIC publishes thematic posts on its social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) as follows: MUSIC on Mondays, ARCHITECTURE & DESIGN on Tuesdays, ART on Wednesdays, LANGUAGE & LITERATURE on Thursdays, CINEMA on Fridays, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY on Saturdays and EDUCATION on Sundays.
More info at:

PRISON CIRCLE (2019) Japan Cuts 2020

Intriguing look at a prison program that aims to help prisoners come to terms with what they did and to help make them ready for life outside of prison.

One of the of the better prison documentary I've seen recently makes you wonder how the program would work in the United States. Actually the treatment of prisoners in the Japanese prison makes you wonder why we are so set on abusing our prisoners instead of trying to actual help the prisoners.

The one thing that is going to make this is a tough slog fo some is that in accordance with Japanese law all the faces of the prisoners and prison guards are blurred. It makes for an odd viewing experience since you are forced to go along with it to be able to follow all the prisoners.


For information on this or other Japan Cuts Films go here.

Summerland (2020)

Alice is writing her new book.  As she does so she flashes back to the Second World War when she was a cranky young woman who lived on the outskirts of town. Forced to take in Frank, one of the children sent from London in order to remain safe from the bombing, she begins to open up and begins to deal with a lost love.

Beautifully acted, wonderfully made film suffers from a plot that we've seen any number of times before. Don't get me wrong everything is beautifully done  and the scenes and the performances have weight  but the thread that holds them together is nothing that we haven't seen before, with the exception of Alice's lost love is another woman.

You will forgive me if this piece isn't long deep and meaningful. It's not due to the fact that there really isn't anything wrong with anything in the film, it's simply that the filmmakers instead of trying to actually do something truly involving with the story instead went and hit everything on the ticky box list with the result that you know early on exactly precisely how this is going to go and you're exactly right.

I sighed when I realized that there were not going to be any surprises.

If you want to see a beautifully made film (craftwise it it one of the best films of 2020) and don't mind it taking you to places you've been before give SUMMERLAND a go.

Stay At Home Fest Bonus Film: 13 Lead Soldiers

Tom Conway plays Bulldog Drummond in one of two films he made playing the role. If you like the Falcon you'll love this

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Nightcap 7/26/20- Shameless self promotion and other random things

I begin with shameless self promotion by saying once more we are quoted in a film trailer.

I suspect I should probably work out exactly how many trailers/poster/dvd covers we've been quoted on.
The New York Asian Film Festival is going virtual August 28 to September 12
My coverage of Japan Cuts has sadly petering out.

I've seen a good number of films more than I have reviewed but the problem is most of what is left to review has been heavier films than I can deal with right now. I really can't deal with death and destruction unless it's in a fantastical setting. I can't bring myself to write on them because it requires me to stay in a darker place than I can handle right now.  I have notes so hopefully I will squeeze a couple more pieces out.
Pretty much every major film release has been pushed back meaning the summer season is dead and the fall looks to be on life support.

I don't expect any of the major fall films to get released. I have n info on that, only a gut feeling. I think we may get some sort of Christmas releases but even then this is going to be an odd year for awards and such.

What exactly are the Oscars going to look like?

What are the fall festivals going to be?
The real question is are there going to be any theaters left when Covid is done.

I know that chains like AMC are in trouble and I suspect the small theater and art houses are hurting as well. Will they come back? I don't know.

I am getting word that many friends and neighbors who work retail are going on unemployment. Just as people here in New York can start to go back many places are finding business isn't bouncing back and they are closing down.  None of that is film related but it just reveals how bad things are (Number suggest over 25% of the country now is out of work).

Filmwise a neighbor who does animation and visual effects is doing okay only because he is getting a lot of commercial work. He said if he had to rely on film production he would be dead since nothing is being done here in the US.

He also said that a couple of films he knows about have stalled in post production because they haven't been able to get into any screening rooms to see how films played on the big screen in general or to test them with audiences.

The next two years of film going are going to be strange.
Actually the strange thing about this week is the US government said they have extraterrestrial crafts and it barely registered on the news
With Quarantines extending across the US there is a good chance I will continue the Stay at Home Bonus Films into the fall.
I have been intrigued with the pop up drive ins that have sprung up everywhere. There have been a couple of screenings that I wanted to attend but I passed because the price in some cases was too much- If I am going alone or with a friend I am not spending 50 bucks or more

That said I am hoping that I can see PENINSULA the sequel to Train to Busan and Seoul Station at a drive in- I may have to schlep up state to do so.
In trying to track down the old Sunn Classic Films on YouTube (you know In Search of Noah's Ark, Beyond and Back) I ran into a stash of 1970's UFO docs. Some of them I had been trying to find for a decade or more (they used to run them on Channel 5 here in NYC every now and again)  and some I had never seen before.

Some of the one's I hadn't seen before actually have turned out to be really interesting. Despite obvious padding and talking to some of the loopier "space people" many of the films have solid sections where there are solid interviews with witnesses and footage and photos that look solid. Its more than your typical collection of repeated information.

I'm going to put something together and get it up here at Unseen on the films.
I need to mention the passing of Regis Philbin. I discovered him decades ago on day time TV as a kid. His perky personality and likable nature won me over and I found I kept watching whatever show he was on. I also found myself smiling every time he appeared on TV. He will be missed.
I also need to note the passing of John Saxon.  A Hollywood fixture he was in around 200 films and TV shows. It is a stunning body of work full of classic moments including ENTER THE DRAGON, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET not to mention pretty much every other film he was in.

Saxon was one of the rare actors who was never bad. He always seemed to show up and gave his all. Where other actors and actresses would walk through their performances, Saxon would give you everything. He added weight to whatever he was doing- even if it was absolutely silly(Battle Beyond the Stars).

I loved Saxon and actually most of his films simply because he was in it and he could sell it all.

He will be missed.

Photos from My Father's Funeral- Glenwood Fire Company Pays Tribute

The line of firemen went back a bit to the left.

Outside Station Two on the way to the church. There was a flag on a ladder outside the funeral home as well- however no one thought to take a picture.

Da's turnout gear on the frill team truck with softball equipment and the mascot my brother made for the company.
Outside the Church two other fire companies -Glen Cove and Sea Cliff flew a flag in tribute and saluted the man called General.
Thank you guys and girls- The General would have loved it.

Turf Nation (2020) Cinequest Film Festival

Scheduled to play the Cinequest Film Festival TURF NATION is a short and sweet little film about a group of young men who travel the BART system and earn money by dancing on the trains. The guys actually have worked outside of the trains (working with H.E.R, G-Eazy, Kehlani, Jack Harlow, E-40 and others) however this is how they make steady money.

If you've ever been on a subway in any city and seen buskers or dancers some into perform between stops this film will give you a better idea of what life is like for the performers. I was intrigued from start to finish because this as the first time I had any idea what it takes to hustle like this.

I really liked this film a great deal. I liked it so much in fact that the only real complaint I have is that the film should have been a feature so we can really get to know the dancers better.

The film played the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and will play the Cinequest Film Festival  August 16 to 30.

Stay At Home Fest Bonus Film: Northville Cemetery Massacre

Atypical biker film with a nihilistic ending that has some of the most evil police you'll ever see taking on a bunch of bikers.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

The Day of Destruction (2020) Japan Cuts 2020

A last minute addition to Japan Cuts Toshiaki Toyoda's THE DAY OF DESTRUCTION just suddenly appeared on the film website just as it was announced on social media.It was only going to be available for 24 hours to coincide with the release of th film in Japan. I only found out about it because Mondocurry emailed me to let me know it had dropped- and since no screener was available that I know of I plunked down my 7 dollars and gave it a go.

Beginning seven years ago a giant living blob appeared in the bottom of a mine. After that a plague  seemed to sweep through a small village. A young holy man tries to combat the forces of evil he believes are invading the world.

Made to coincide with the opening of the 2020 Olympics the film is Toyoda's “exorcise a society obsessed with the monstrosity of self-interest and greed.” Its a film that is clearly close to Toyoda with his passion and need to change the world for the better bleeding off the screen.

Unfortunately I'm not sure it adds up to much. Or rather I am not sure it really adds up to much in its current form

While I have no problems with the film on any technical or acting level I have problems with the film's pacing and script.

The film instantly gets into trouble in the opening sequence set seven years ago.  A reporter goes to a mine to see the blob at the bottom and he then proceeds to walk down the tunnel for the better part of ten minutes. Yes there is some changes in the sound track but it is simply someone walking for ten minutes. He then sees the creature turns around and leaves. This wouldn't really be a problem if it lead to something but it just kind of hangs there.  Granted it's a mood builder, but at the same time it devours one fifth of the films running time. It is echoed by the long cryptic crosswalk sequence that ends the film.

From there the film spins out in a series of sequences that talk about epidemics and mysticism as people try to sort out what is going on and why people are behaving strangely. While I can and do admire the pieces I'm not sure they all hang together.  I think this is a film that is very much trying to make a point and it is using the conventions of horror films and thrillers to do so, except that the need to be about something is subverting the creation of any scares and chills. It's almost as if Toyoda was obligated to turn in 50 minute plus end credit run time and found it was too long for  what he had in mind (say a chilling 25 minute short) and as a result he filled the extra time by explaining a little too much. I kind of wish this was a more tightly cut, more cryptic short or a full on feature where Toyoda explored things more fully.

An interesting miss that is neither fish no fowl, THE DAY OF DESTRUCTION is more a doodle from a talented director rather than a full on work of art.


Half Chinese half Japanese teenage Rei is bullied both at home and at school. Running away she meets Aoi who is being harassed at work. The pair then run off to the country and hide out in an abandoned inn where they make safe place for each other.

Running just over an hour MY IDENTITY moves like the wind. It is a lovely coming of age tale that connects to you heart strings, though I suspect that it will become a big favorite for the women who see it. Recommended.

Forty something Yoshiko records her thoughts in her diary which we hear as a constant voice over, She ponders her life and the things she has done and missed out. Is there more to life for her?

Well made and well told tale didn't connect to me.This is not because the film is bad rather this is a film that seems to be unconnected to my life. While I could appreciate the film on many levels it didn't speak to me emotionally.

That said there is enough here that I did like it on its own terms, which makes it a film I can recommend to anyone who is interested in seeing it.

To see either of this films or any of the other films playing Japan Cuts go here.

Stay At Home Fest Bonus Film: Moonchild

This is a batshit crazy allegorey of the sort they only made in the 1970's

Friday, July 24, 2020

MRS NOISY (2019) Japan Cuts 2020

Maki is a freelance writer hoping to turn her new motherhood into gold, but instead finds that she still has writers block. Moving into an new apartment with her family things begin to slide as her daughter begins wandering off out of boredom and she begins to gt into a feud with a neighbor. Things begin to slide further when Maki turns to social media blowing everything out of proportion and creating a number of false narratives.

Good dark comedy  is lifted up by it's refusing to take the typical surface road and instead dig a bit deeper concerning modern life and and how what we think is real is not always the case. It is small addition that was undoubtedly the reason that the film has been a festival favorite. I know going in I was pretty certain I knew what I was going to get, and at first I thought I was right but slowly the film began to change and shift and it started to bring in issues that most filmmakers are no considering these days.  I was hooked and had to see how this all played out.

While I didn't end up absolutely loving the film I most certainly liked it. I liked it enough that I am recommending it to anyone who wants to see a film that doesn't track as expected and instead raises of interesting questions to make you think.

To see the film or any other at Japan Cuts go here.

Stay At Home Fest Bonus Film: 25 Unsolved Mysteries

Thursday, July 23, 2020

LGBTQ Network Revry and Xfinity Present The Beltway Pride Screening Series

BALTIMORE, MD (July 23, 2020) – Revry, the first global queer streaming network, today announced a new partnership with Comcast Xfinity’s Beltway Region to introduce The Beltway Pride Screening Series – a collection of six compelling films that explore life through the lens of the LGBTQ community.

Thought-provoking panel discussions will follow each screening and highlight the unique needs and challenges that LGBTQ members face. Panelists will include filmmakers, cast members and members of local LGBTQ organizations discussing such topics as race, gender, sexual identity, politics and culture.

Each of the six movies in the The Beltway Pride Screening Series can be watched for free online via the network. A new film will be showcased each month through October. The first film VINTAGE – Families of Value is available now through July 30. The impressionistic documentary film, which is in its 25th year, intimately explores three African-American families through the eyes of lesbian and gay male siblings – two or more in the same family. On Thursday, July 30 from 8-8:45 p.m. EDT/5-5:45 p.m. PDT, filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris and other cast members will join Pride Center of Maryland’s LaKesha M. Davis to discuss this groundbreaking documentary, which was partially filmed in Baltimore.

“We know that Pride isn’t just a month-long celebration, but a year-long commitment to supporting the LGBTQ community,” said Tabitha Williams, Senior Manager of Events & Multicultural Marketing for Comcast’s Beltway Region. “In a season where Pride and LGBTQ festivals are either canceled or postponed, Comcast’s Xfinity together with Revry hope to drive deeper, authentic engagement with LGBTQ members in our region.”

Following the online screenings, Xfinity X1 and Flex customers who subscribe to Revry can access the films directly on the TV. Revry’s programming is accessible to Xfinity customers over the Internet on X1 and Flex and can be found by saying “Revry” into the Xfinity Voice Remote or within Xfinity on Demand’s LGBTQ Film & TV collection—the largest first-of-its-kind collection of LGBTQ content available at home and on-the-go.

“As the first LGBTQ+ virtual cable TV network, Revry offers free live TV channels and on-demand viewing of its global library featuring LGBTQ+ movies, shows, music, podcasts, news and exclusive originals all in one place – reaching up to 250+ million people in over 130 countries,” said Alia J. Daniels, COO / Co-Founder of Revry. “In a time where division is easily amplified, we recognize Comcast’s commitment to honor diversity, and are thrilled to partner with the company in sharing this quality programming, especially with the diverse Beltway Region.”

About This Month’s Film
VINTAGE: Families of Value is an essay style film that gives a thoughtful and sometimes painful examination of three African-American families through the eyes of gay and lesbian siblings, including the film director Thomas Allen Harris and his brother, Lyle Ashton Harris. The director confronts the issue by asking his mother to talk about her two sons being gay. This documentary weaves together stories from all three families with impressionistic scenes that express what some are unwilling to say.

Awarded Best Documentary by the 1996 Atlanta International Film Festival and a Golden Gate by the 1996 San Francisco International Film Festival, this lyrical and impressionistic film blends intimate and sometimes painful conversations between family members, with dramatic recreations, improvisations, performance, audio visual collage and archival photos and films to sketch a provocative tableau of three modern families negotiating sexuality and identity.

For more information on The Beltway Pride Screening Series and its upcoming screenings, click here.

# # #

About Revry
Watch Queer TV 24/7 with the first LGBTQ+ virtual cable TV network. Revry offers free live TV channels and on-demand viewing of its global library featuring LGBTQ+ movies, shows, music, podcasts, news and exclusive originals all in one place. Revry is currently available globally in over 250 million households and devices and on seven OTT, mobile and desktop platforms. Revry also can be viewed on nine live and on-demand channels and connected TVs including: The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus, Comcast Xfinity X1, Dell, XUMO TV, Zapping TV, STIRR, TiVo+ and as the first LGBTQ+ virtual reality channel on Littlstar (available on PlayStation devices). Revry – an inaugural member of the Goldman Sachs Black and LatinX Cohort – is headquartered in Los Angeles and led by a diverse founding team who bring decades of experience in the fields of tech, digital media and LGBTQ+ advocacy. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @revrytv or online at

About Comcast
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with three primary businesses: Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, and Sky. Comcast Cable is one of the United States’ largest high-speed internet, video, and phone providers to residential customers under the Xfinity brand, and also provides these services to businesses. It also provides wireless and security and automation services to residential customers under the Xfinity brand. NBCUniversal is global and operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures, and Universal Parks and Resorts. Sky is one of Europe's leading media and entertainment companies, connecting customers to a broad range of video content through its pay television services. It also provides communications services, including residential high-speed internet, phone, and wireless services. Sky operates the Sky News broadcast network and sports and entertainment networks, produces original content, and has exclusive content rights. Visit for more information.

Dave Franco's The Rental

It is amazing how deeply the film industry hates the gig economy. Most ride-share drivers you see in movies are creeps, but online bnb hosts are depicted as predatory criminals in a malevolent league of their own. Such seems to be the case again, but at least the execution is stylishly eerie throughout Dave Franco’s feature directorial debut, The Rental, which releases tomorrow on VOD and at select drive-ins.

Charlie and Mina have finally scored a major infusion of capital for their hipster start-up (doing whatever), so to celebrate, they book a weekend getaway for themselves and their respective romantic partners. You know, someplace coastal and isolated. It is a tight-knit group, since Mina is involved with Charlie’s underachieving loser brother, Josh. In contrast, Michelle is a straight-arrow type (albeit one who is not opposed to a little recreational MDMA use), but she still gets along better with Josh than Charlie does.

Things are a little awkward when the couples meet the renter, Taylor, because he initially declined Mina’s booking (presumably for unenlightened reasons), before accepting Charlie. He also has an unfortunate habit of saying things that can be taken the wrong way, or maybe reveal too much. Nevertheless, three of them get high and party the night away after the exhausted Michelle turns in early, but when they wake up, they start to notice some unsettling things around the property.

The Rental
was co-written and co-produced by Joe Swanberg, so it makes sense it is aesthetically similar to some of his genre related films. Despite following a narrative very much like that of 14 Cameras and Welcome Home, The Rental is a stylish slow-burn that holds viewers transfixed. In terms of vibe and visceral impact, it recalls Hallam & Horvath’s unfairly underrated Entrance.

It also features unusually strong cast for a weekend-revelry-gone-astray horror movie. Dan Stevens (
Downton’s Cousin Matthew) and Allison Brie both transcend their genre archetypes as the caddish Charlie and respectably middle-class Michelle. Sheila Vand is terrific as Mina, even though it is hard to believe she is involved with a zero like Josh. Her scenes with Toby Huss (as Taylor the landlord) are played perfectly on both sides, kicking up the general sense of unease, while keeping nagging doubts percolating in the back of viewers’ heads.

We have seen evil online bnb’s before, but what really stands out is the softly sinister look and vibe Franco and cinematographer Christian Sprenger realize. It brings to mind John Carpenter’s classic collaborations with Dean Cundey, which is high praise indeed. Recommended for horror fans who can appreciate the skilled execution,
The Rental opens tomorrow (7/24) at the Warwick (NY) Drive-In and releases on VOD platforms.

It Feels Good (2019) Japan Cuts 2020

Kenji returns home for the wedding of his old girlfriend Naoko. She tracks him down and they begin to talk. She proposes and one night stand since her fiance is away. However it's not as simple as sex and old feelings arise as the pair discuss themselves and the world.

This was not high on my must see list and I backed into seeing it accidentally  and I'm glad I did. This is a super little drama that is more than an "erotic" coupling . In fact it is a super examination of the state of the world and the human heart.

That the film works as well as it does is entirely the result of Tasuku Emoto and Kumi Takiuchi who lift the characters up from being characters an make them into people we actually know. Watching them you feel more like we are watching real people rather actors reciting scripted lines.


For access to this or any other film at Japan Cuts go here.

Stay At Home Fest Bonus FIlms: Mysterious and strange happenings

Wednesday, July 22, 2020




LOS ANGELES, CA (July 22, 2020) - rePRO by, a new five day virtual film festival dedicated to exploring women's reproductive healthcare, awareness, advocacy and bodily integrity in America, has announced its lineup for the inaugural festival which will take place online from August 12-16, 2020. The lineup of films and conversations, which will be open to anyone in the US, includes documentaries and narratives dealing with women’s rights, endometriosis, illegal sterilization, access to abortion, and reproductive justice for women of color, among other topics. The program was announced today by the festival’s founders, Lela Meadow-Conner, Mallory Martin and Debby Samples.

The festival will host five days of features, short films and themed-conversations focused on a range of topics including healthcare access, fertility, pregnancy, sexual education, abortion, and issues related to the gender spectrum. Each conversation will include call-to-action messaging on how people can get involved in a corresponding initiative or topic. The conversations, designed to spotlight the creators who dare to tell stories about women’s reproductive rights, and to showcase courageous advocators, will be available online for free globally.

All feature films playing the festival are directed by women, and all filmmakers, including shorts filmmakers, are being paid to screen their films. The pay-what-you-can film ticket proceeds for films at the festival will be converted to donations to be split evenly among five beneficiary non-profit organizations - SisterSong, Endometriosis Foundation of America, Center for Reproductive Rights, URGE and Trust Women.

The features playing at the festival will include the opening night film BELLY OF THE BEAST by director Erika Cohn, which examines illegal sterilization of prisoners and other crimes within the US women’s prison system, Shannon Cohn’s eye-opening endometriosis documentary ENDO WHAT?, Jo Ardinger’s pregency policing movement film PERSONHOOD, Maria Finitzo’s female sexual desire documentary THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE, and Jan Haaken’s OUR BODIES OUR DOCTORS, which chronicles the lives of several abortion providers, and the difficulties they face in their daily lives.

With the rising threat to American women's autonomy over their own bodies, the festival’s main goal is to lift up the voices of those who are advocating for women's reproductive justice during this vital election year, as well as encourage active participation and establish a more equitable future for generations to come.

The festival, a project of the Wichita & Cleveland based non-profit film series, is founded by Mallory Martin, Lela Meadow-Conner and Debby Samples. These women collectively have decades of experience working in the film festival industry, and have each also experienced the joys and challenges of motherhood.

“Story-driven film is a hugely important tool in modern culture - it helps us define the world we live in and creates empathy for those we relate to, and those we don’t understand,” said the founders. “The three of us have young children and want them to grow up in a world where they and their peers have access to fundamental reproductive rights and freedoms, and we will advocate for that in any way we can, especially before this November’s election. Without conversation and awareness, we cannot nurture equality and change, and we cannot expect future generations to do so. Right now, this is a conversation without an expiration date. But through the incredible work of so many activists we have met along the rePRO journey, we are confident someday the fight will end.”

The festival will also present a special "ChangemakeHER" Award, to recognize an exceptional individual who has provided significant contribution towards the fight for women’s reproductive healthcare, including education, awareness and activism. This recipient will be announced at a later date.

Tickets are on sale as of today (July 22nd) online at Tickets are all pay-what-you-can ($5, $10 or $15) with a limited number of complimentary vouchers available upon request to ensure access for all.

Follow @mamafilm1 on Instagram or Twitter for updates, or follow rePRO by on Facebook for more updates.

The full lineup for the rePRO Film Festival includes:


BFF’s 6th annual film festival, co-founded by Academy Award®-winning actor Geena Davis, will be a hybrid structure, showcasing 68 films uniquely dedicated to representation in media. More than 80% of BFF’s feature film showcase is directed by women; 65% BIPOC and 40% LGBTQIA+

Los Angeles, July 22, 2020— The Bentonville Film Foundation today announced their spotlight and competition program of independent feature films, shorts, and episodic titles for the 2020 Bentonville Film Festival, August 10-16. Co-founded by Academy Award®-winning actor Geena Davis, and supported by Founding Sponsor, Walmart and Presenting Sponsor, Coca-Cola, BFF is a one-of-a-kind event, uniquely dedicated to championing underrepresented voices in film, entertainment and media. The 6th annual film festival will be presented as a hybrid structure, pairing digital screenings, panels and events alongside select on-the-ground premieres and conversations.

The program includes 68 films representing female, BIPOC (65%) and LGBTQIA+ (45%) filmmakers. More than 80% of films at the 2020 Bentonville Film Festival were directed by women, including 4 Spotlight features: Opening night film, Oge Egbounu’s acclaimed directorial debut, (In)visible Portraits, which shatters the too-often invisible otherizing of Black women in America; Philippa Lowthorpe’s Misbehavior, starring Keira Knightley and Jessie Buckley, which tells the bizarre true story of protest and controversy at 1970 Miss World contest; Parkland Rising, an inspiring look at the students of Parkland, Florida, who started an international movement to call attention to the need for better gun safety laws, by two time EMMY award-winning filmmaker Cheryl Horner McDonough; and Elegance Bratton’s Pier Kids, an intimate look at homeless queer and trans youth of color in New York City that must contend with overwhelming amounts of homophobia and abuse.

Bentonville Film Foundation Co-Founder and Chair, Geena Davis, said: “BFF’s mission to foster diversity and inclusion across the media landscape stands more important now than ever before as we continue to support filmmakers in a new and creative way. Within the context of a pandemic, and the continued fight for social justice, we renew our deep commitment to underrepresented storytellers around the world. This year’s virtual structure presents a unique opportunity that is not lost on us as we use the power of the digital world to share BFF’s messaging to far-reaching global audiences, arguably more than we ever have.”

Wendy Guerrero, President of Programming of Bentonville Film Festival said: “Our team has worked hard over the past few months to rethink and rebuild our Festival for 2020, always drawing on our mission to champion underrepresented voices, which has grown even more urgent as we continue these challenging circumstances. Our 2020 program is a celebration of art and diversity, perseverance, and talent. The films in this year’s lineup showcase what we’ve known all along: representation in media, means better content for all. We could not be prouder of this incredible slate and of the storytellers that have agreed to present their visions with BFF’s audiences around the world.”

Brittney Duke, VP of Retail Marketing at Walmart said: “At Walmart we are committed to amplifying and elevating diverse voices in media and entertainment. We couldn’t be happier to enter into a sixth year with the Bentonville Film Festival to reinforce these values at our core. We are excited to participate and shed light on these underrepresented storytellers."

Louis Martin, President Global Walmart / Sam’s Club Customer Team at Coca-Cola said: “At Coca-Cola, diversity and inclusion are at the heart of our values, and are an important part of our success. Our purpose is to refresh the world and make a difference, and co-sponsoring the 2020 Bentonville Film Festival is another great way to live out our purpose, which is why we are excited to present this program along with Geena Davis and our partners at Walmart.”

More lineup announcements, including Events, Panels and Jury are forthcoming. Ticket packages for the 2020 Bentonville Film Festival can be purchased HERE.

Spotlight Features

Brief thoughts on Shell and Joint (2019) Japan Cuts

Isamu Hirabayashi’s first feature film is not so much a straight narrative so much as a bunch of  loosely connect vignettes or conversations, the film criss crosses back and forth between several different characters, hotel clerks, people in a sauna, animated insect puppets, stuffed animals and elsewhere. Talk bounces between the mundane to to truly bizarre and almost all of the action is of a verbal sort.

I'm not going to guess how you are going to react to this film. While the conversations can be intriguing, are sometimes funny or uncomfortable, the mix can be a bit jarring as the film shifts focus just as a piece seems to be going somewhere.

My reaction is decidely mixed. While I liked bits of this film a great deal other pieces kind of fell flat. It doesn't help that the film runs just over two and a half hours. There was a point somewhere about a quarter of the way in when I began to wonder how much more there was left...two hours I groaned.

WHile not my cup of tea it is a very well done one of a kind film that might be yours.

For information on how to see this film or any of the other Japan Cuts films go here.

Stay At Home Fest Bonus Film: 20 Lost Horror Films

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Women Texas Film Festival announces selections for 5th edition of the film festival (August 13-16)

Olivia Peace’s TAHARA is the Opening Night Selection and WTxFF favorite Lisa Donato takes the Closing Night spot with her film, GOSSAMER FOLDS

Dallas, TX (July 21, 2020) – Women Texas Film Festival announced the official selections for the fifth year of the critically-acclaimed Dallas-based film festival which focuses solely on the work of visionary female filmmakers (August 13-16). Pivoting to an all-virtual presentation, Olivia Peace’s teenage comedy TAHARA opens the film festival and Lisa Donato’s GOSSAMER FOLDS is the Closing Night Selection for WTxFF, which will again feature LGBTQIA+ stories, provocative documentaries, and Texas-based female filmmakers throughout its lineup.

WTxFF Founder and Artistic Director Justina Walford said, “We feel going all-virtual this year makes us emphasize the work we are curating even more so since there are no physical events or parties to distract us even for a moment. Therefore, we are reminded at every moment of what sets our film festival apart from other film festivals and what sets film festivals (in general) apart from simply seeing a movie at a multiplex: Curating. Discovering, introducing, and presenting dynamic female filmmakers and giving them an enthusiastic platform to show their work, discuss it, and celebrate their audacity to put those thoughts, ideas, and visions onscreen for us all to share is what is behind the work we do – whether we see that film on a big screen or in our living rooms or our laptops.”

Walford added, “We love being part of the international movement to showcase female filmmakers and we know we must continue our efforts with even more force so that we change the filmmaking industry in hiring an equitable gender ratio. Our goal has always been to show the range of the female storyteller, and the depths to which women can take us via their work in film- whether it be emotional, visual, introspective, startling, shocking, and horrific. From our gripping documentaries like NEVER GOING BACK and A WHORE LIKE ME to our endearing films like GOSSAMER FOLDS and TAHARA, there are tremendous layers in each project that engage and thrill us.”

Olivia Peace’s TAHARA delighted audiences during its debut earlier in the year at Slamdance, and also made a splash at Frameline, the celebrated LGBTQIA+ film festival, last month. The film follows two best friends who comically deal with the emotional stress resulting from the suicide of their Hebrew school classmate in very different ways. The school’s attempts to help the students understand grief through their faith immediately leads to awkward places, but after an innocent kissing exercise changes everything for one of them, the best friends find themselves distracted by the teenage complications neither of them even remotely anticipated.

Walford has said that it wouldn’t seem like WTxFF without a Lisa Donato film, having screened a number of her short films prior to this year. Therefore, it seems entirely right and appropriate that her new film, GOSSAMER FOLDS would be selected to close out this year’s fest. Set in 1986, the film follows a ten-year-old boy who has been uprooted and unwillingly moved to the suburbs of Kansas City. Already on unsure footing due to the move, his world is further shaken thanks to his parent's marriage troubles. However, he finds solace thanks to the friendship he begins to find with his next-door neighbors: a retired college professor and his transgender daughter, Gossamer. Among the impressive list of familiar faces and names in the film include Alexandra Gray, Sprague Greyden, Shane West, Ethan Suplee, Jen Richards, and Yeardley Smith. While details have not been finalized Donato will be joined by some of the cast members for a special virtual Q&A following the screening.

In addition to being a prime showcase in Dallas and North Texas for LGBTQIA+ films, as demonstrated yet again by the Opening and Closing Night selections, as well as films like Ksenia Ratushnaya’s outrageous and mind blowing film, OUTLAW, and Jessica Wolfson and Jessie Auritt’s documentary short THE PAINT WIZZARD about a transgender painter, Women Texas Film Festival has also built a reputation for finding hard-hitting documentaries that often line up with current hot political topics.

This year is no different, with Sharon Yaish and Yael Shachar’s A WHORE LIKE ME taking a look at sex trafficking via one woman’s harrowing journey back into the world she had escaped. Larissa Lam’s FAR EAST DEEP SOUTH opens a different door into the subject of race and American history through her film about Chinese immigrants in Mississippi. Janette A. López’s NEVER GOING BACK gives needed insight into the humanity behind the immigration issue with its focus on one family’s journey from Honduras to the States. Marie Skovgaard’s THE REFORMIST – A FEMALE IMAM, takes a hard look at the struggles within the Islamic faith as it follows the efforts of a woman to open one of the first mosques in Europe headed by a female imam.

Highlights among the curated shorts selections include: Britt Lower’s CIRCUS PERSON, about a woman’s self-realization journey following a breakup and her subsequent crush on the other woman, which screened as part of the worldwide WE ARE ONE fest; the return of former WTxFF award-winner Tracie Laymon, with her latest film, GHOSTED about a woman’s new relationship being thwarted by the deceased ex; Comedy writer and Executive Producer on HBO’s Insecure, Amy Aniobi’s HONEYMOON, follows a newlywed couple’s first night after their first meeting; Award-winning screenwriter Stacey Davis’ CHERRY about a woman’s hopes for a final Easter with her dying father; and celebrated Kenyan-American filmmaker Wanjiru Njenendu’s BOXED about the remarkable story of a slave who mailed himself to freedom. Texas shorts selections include another returning WTxFF alum, Paloma Hernandez’s PASTICHE, about a struggling artist who accidentally becomes entangled in art forgery, and the directorial debut of indie film producer Lisa Normand (THE OLD MAN & THE GUN) with her comic horror film NO REALLY, I’M FINE, PANDEMIC NOTWITHSTANDING.

All films can be viewed for free with an option to donate. Seating is limited. Also, all films except exclusive screenings can be viewed at any time starting August 13th at 5pm until midnight August 16th. Q&As and panels will be announced and viewable here: Stay tuned for details at

The 2020 Women Texas Film Festival official selections:

Announcing the Launch of:METROGRAPH DIGITAL Featuring Live Screenings, Opening July 24

Inaugural Calendar Includes Films by Claire Denis, St. Clair Bourne, Alain Resnais, Laurie Anderson, Manfred Kirchheimer, Djibril Diop Mambéty, and Bruce Baillie

Nan Goldin Presents Online Premiere of Her Short Sirens with Guest Program Featuring Films by Vivienne Dick and Michael Roemer’s Nothing But a Man

Retrospectives of Éric Rohmer, Ulrike Ottinger, and Satoshi Kon

Guest Introductions by Filmmakers Noah Baumbach, James Gray, and Jenna Bliss; Programmers/Scholars Melissa Lyde, Yasmina Price, Boukary Sawadogo, and Kazembe Balagun

Exclusive Runs of Legendary Docs Dark Circle (1982) and Mayday (1970) in New Restorations

July 20, 2020 (New York) - Metrograph launches Metrograph Digital on Friday, July 24, available to anyone nationwide through its new online membership program. The first initiative of Metrograph Digital is Metrograph Live Screenings, developed and curated by the renowned programming team at Metrograph, a celebration of communal movie watching, featuring a rotating selection of new releases and repertory titles each week, opening at set showtimes, with introductions, pre-show material, and Q&As specific to every show.

Inaugural calendar programs include many films that are not available anywhere else online, directed by enduring masters Claire Denis, Éric Rohmer, St. Clair Bourne, Ulrike Ottinger, Alain Resnais, Djibril Diop Mambéty, Satoshi Kon, James Gray, Laurie Anderson, and Manfred Kirchheimer. Legendary photographer and activist Nan Goldin will be the first guest programmer of a series to accompany her new film, Sirens (2019), starting July 31. For longtime guests of Metrograph in New York and those who have visited from afar, Metrograph Live Screenings can be accessed nationwide via a Metrograph Digital membership at

The Metrograph theater at 7 Ludlow Street in New York remains closed to the public until further notice, when the safety of our staff and guests can be guaranteed.

Metrograph Live Screenings - What to Expect:

The first Metrograph program book in 2016 said: “At Metrograph, you will experience all kinds of movies. What will unite them all is—simply—that we believe in them, and we think they are films you should see.” That spirit continues on with Metrograph Live Screenings, which will bring the most refined version of the unique Metrograph filmgoing experience to your home device, with a curated selection of rare and adventurous films each week. It will be a new digital space for cinephiles. Much like at our theater, guests can expect full presentations: film-specific pre-shows, introductions, and feature films in the best quality available via a native Metrograph player, complemented by a robust selection of newly commissioned film writing, interviews, and videos on our website, inspiring conversation about movies long after they end.

“What’s most exciting to me about Metrograph digital expansion is that it means a larger audience can see more of the films we feel so passionately about, while continually broadening our offerings,” said Jake Perlin, Artistic Director of Metrograph. “The foundational principle of the Metrograph theater is the pleasure of sharing cinephilia and a view that there are always new filmmakers and ideas to discover from around the world, and with Metrograph Live Screenings, that is now possible online, in addition to our theater.”

“Programming the Metrograph theater for four years has been an unbelievably rewarding challenge,” said Aliza Ma, Head of Programming. “Metrograph Live Screenings will reflect everything we’ve put into this project, with dynamic films and series featuring legendary and up-and-coming filmmakers. The heart and soul of our curatorial voice can be found here, in tightly focused programs changing weekly.”

How To Watch:

To experience Metrograph Live Screenings, audiences tune in for a live broadcast screening at a scheduled showtime via Metrograph’s livestream player, available on any computer and mobile device, and connectable to TVs. Broadcasts will include original pre-show material, short films, introductions, followed by the feature presentation. After the show, a recording of each broadcast will be available on demand for a limited run.

Metrograph Live Screenings is automatically available to existing Metrograph members at no cost and for $5/month or $50/annually through our new Digital Membership for those who wish to sign up.

About Metrograph Digital:

Metrograph Digital, long in the works, will continue and expand long after the theatrical film experience returns. In the coming weeks and months, an expansion of digital initiatives will include ticketed extended engagements on demand (TVOD), as well as expanded editorial coverage and exclusive original video work available exclusively to members.

“The digital strategy of Metrograph will be to roll out new components through 2020 and beyond,” said Metrograph CEO Christian Grass. “Our goal is to present all the facets of the Metrograph experience—from our distinct film programming, editorial coverage, and original video material—to create a compelling, essential home for anyone who is passionate about movies.”

Live Screenings Calendar: July to Early September
(Screenings introduced by Metrograph programmers)

Opens Friday, July 24 – 8:00pm EST
Claire Denis’s L’Intrus (2004) - digital exclusive (A Metrograph Pictures release)
with Bruce Baillie’s All My Life (1966)
Through July 27

Opens Monday, July 27 - 8:00pm EST
St. Clair Bourne’s Paul Robeson: Here I Stand (1999)
Guest introduction by organizer and cultural historian Kazembe Balagun, Project Manager for Rosa Luxembourg Shiftung New York City
Through July 29

Opens Wednesday, July 29 - 8:00pm EST
Manfred Kirchheimer’s Bridge High (1975) and Stations of the Elevated (1981)
Guest introduction by Kirchheimer
Through July 31

Opens Friday, July 31 - 8:00pm EST
Nan Goldin’s Sirens (2019) - digital premiere
with Vivienne Dick’s Liberty’s Booty (1980) and Beauty Becomes the Beast (1979)
Guest introduction by Goldin
Through August 2

Throughout July/August
New Digital Restorations from Canyon Cinema

Opens Sunday, August 2 - 8:00pm EST
Nan Goldin Presents Michael Roemer’s Nothing But a Man (1964)
Guest introduction by Goldin
Through August 5

Opens Monday, August 3 - 8:00pm EST
Michael Roemer’s Nothing But a Man (1964)
Guest introduction by programmer Melissa Lyde
Through August 5

Opens Tuesday, August 4 - 8:00pm EST
Kevin Rafferty and James Ridgeway’s Feed (1992)
Through August 7

Opens Wednesday, August 5 - 8:00pm EST
Damani Baker and Alex Vlack’s Still Bill (2009)
Guest introduction by filmmakers Damani Baker and Alex Vlack, and producer/editor Jon Fine
Through August 7

Opens Friday, August 7 - 8:00pm EST
Satoshi Kon Retrospective begins

Opens Monday, August 17 - 8:00pm EST
Jenna Bliss’s The People’s Detox (2018)
Guest introduction by Bliss
Through August 19

Opens Wednesday, August 19 - 8:00pm - EST
James Gray’s Two Lovers (2008)
Guest introduction by Gray
Through August 21

Opens Friday, August 21 - 8:00pm EST
Judy Irving’s Dark Circle (1982) (A First Run Features release)
Guest introduction by Irving
Through August 27

Opens Saturday, August 22 - 8:00pm EST
Alain Resnais’s Je t’aime, Je t’aime (1968)
Through August 24

Opens Monday, August 24 - 8:00pm EST
New restoration: Mayday (1970) - Courtesy of the Yale Film Archive
Guest introduction by writer and researcher Yasmina Price
Through August 26

Opens Wednesday, August 26 - 8:00pm EST
Laurie Anderson’s Home of the Brave (1986)
Through August 28

Opens Friday, August 28 - 8:00pm
Ulrike Ottinger Retrospective - Ticket of No Return (1979)
Series continues through September

Opens Sunday, August 30 - 8:00pm
Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Le Franc (1994) and The Little Girl Who Sold The Sun (1999)
New restorations and digital premieres (Metrograph Pictures releases)
Through September 4

Opens Tuesday, September 1 - 8:00pm
Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Hyenas (1992) - new restoration (A Metrograph Pictures release)
Guest introduction by Boukary Sawadogo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies, City College of NY (CUNY)
Through September 4

Opens Friday, September 4
8:00pm - Éric Rohmer x 3 - Boyfriends and Girlfriends (1987) (A Metrograph Pictures release)
Guest introduction by filmmaker Noah Baumbach - new restoration and digital premiere
Series continues through September with The Aviator’s Wife (1981) and 4 Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle (1987) in new digital restorations.

About Metrograph

Metrograph is an entertainment company founded in 2016, based in New York City.

Projects to date:

Metrograph NYC, launched in 2016, is an independent movie theater at 7 Ludlow that focuses on premieres, rare archival screenings (35mm and digital), and special Q&As, for a wide spectrum of audiences, filmmakers, and communities. Metrograph NYC includes an on-site restaurant, The Commissary, and a bookstore.

Metrograph Pictures, launched in 2019, is an independent distribution company with a focus on quality and curation. Works acquired and released to date include restorations such as A Bigger Splash (1973), Downtown 81 (1981/2001), Hyenas (1992), among other titles.

Metrograph Live Screenings, launched in July 2020, is Metrograph’s virtual event product, bringing the Metrograph’s curation to a broader audience via our new digital platform.

Brief thoughts on the Tora-san Films at Japan Cuts 2020

There are 50 films in the Tora-san series and it holds the record as the longest running film series where one actor. Kiyoshi Atsumi,  played the same character (49 films - well really all 50). It is a sweet and lovely series about a nice guy who keeps trying despite not always succeeding.

The series is so much part of Japanese culture, in many ways just as much as gangsters, samurais and ghosts with long black hair  that the Japan Society ran a retrospective of the series a year or so ago which reintroduced the films to a whole generation of New Yorkers who really had no idea who the Tora-san was. It is a character that has bled out into other media as well and is in it way a cultural phenomenon.

Now with the release of the 50th and final film in the series Japan Cuts is running three films with the series along with the final film. (I should note that TORA-SAN, MY UNCLE #42 was not made available to critics at the time of this writing)

I have a mixed relationship with the series. I've seen a number of the films over the years and while I liked them I was never in love with them (which as the reason I didn't' cover the earlier series at the Japan Society). All of the stories follow a similar pattern see below) I honestly couldn't tell you which films I saw before taking a look for the Japan Cuts screenings.

That said if you have never seen any of the series you really should watch a couple of the earlier films and close it out with the final film since, knowing it's the end of the road for the little guy, it is certain to bring a tear or two to your eyes.

Sets the mold for the series as traveling salesman Torajiro “Tora-san” Kuruma coming home after 20 years gone and instantly causing all sorts of laughter and tears as he gets involved in his family's business, wrecking romances, including his own, setting up others before heading off again, alone. It is a pattern that would be followed over and over again over the next 5 decades and 49 films.

It is a sweet little film.

This time out Tora-san is reacquainted with the love of his life who has gotten a divorce since last appearing several films earlier. However Tora-san's behavior complicates things. Will they find happiness? Probably not and that is not giving anything away since the pair were destined to cross paths several more times in the series.

This is a solid entry that kept me entertained (and made me want to see the other meeting of these characters)

Final film in the series focuses on Tora-san's nephew runs into an old sweetheart and friends and family who remember his uncle (seen in copious flashbacks). Its a final farewell to the character and the series that tugs at the heart strings as many of the themes and ideas from the long running series are brought to a close.

For information on the Tora-san films and all of the titles play Japan Cuts go here.