Saturday, May 21, 2022

Rebellion (2022) HRWFF 2022

 


Rebellion is the story of the group Extinction Rebellion(XR) which seeks to make people aware that the we are running out of time in regard to out climate. The film charts the groups battle to make the government of England take the threat seriously. The film charts their acts of civil disobedience and  internal struggle to change from focusing on the climate crisis and instead make it about climate justice.

To be honest Rebellion didn’t really work for me. While the subject is important, I never really connected. While the subject is important there never really was a sense of urgency. We are hanging out with friends having tea instead of being in the middle of the fight to save the planet.

This is a good film but it’s not a great one.

No U Turn (2022) HRWFF 2022



Filmmaker Ike Nnaebue makes his first documentary and retraces his trip from his home in Nigeria across Africa in search of a better life. Along the line he examines the dangers faced my those migrating for a better life as well as the exploring the reasons why someone would give up everything they knew to make a new life in another land.

In age where so many people are migrating in an effort to flee war this look at a different reason to be on the move is eye opening. This is a film that at least half of America needs to see. Living in a country where a good number of the people live in fear that immigrants are coming to get them this film makes it clear why people are so willing to move.

Make no mistake this is a bittersweet tale. Just because people are willing to go it doesn’t mean that they are going to make it. Circumstance, a lack of funds and other factors loom at every turn. Many people end up stuck along their way, unable to to go forward… ot go back either because of no cash or because of shame. Yes some stories seem like a repeat of others but that’s because there are only too many people trying to make a trip that can only end in a limited number of ways.

I really like this film a great deal. Director Nnaebue has made a film of incredible power. Not only is it s great examination of migration but it’s also a hell of a portrait of the people on screen. It’s a hell of a story where we move our seat closer to the screen because we want to hang out with everyone passing before us. My love of the film comes not from from the documenting of a journey, rather its from  Nanaebue’s instance on keeping the people and their humanity front and center. At no point does anyone disappear into the crown and become just a face or a cut out.  The result is a film that moves us.

Recommended.

The New Greatness (2022) HRWFF 2022

 


The New Greatness of the title was an on-line community where young Russians met up to talk about life. They spoke about the usual things in life. When politics started to be discussed with some questions about the Putin being raised someone in the group suggested they meet up to talk in person. This person turned out to be an agent for the Putin government with the result that everyone was arrested and their homes were raided. The kids were locked up and their parents, many previously pro-Putin, turned into activists in an effort to get their kids back.   The film focuses on the family of Anya, one of the people arrested and tossed in jail.

Filmed over a three year period the film is a look behind the curtain of Putin’s Russian. It’s a land ruled by fear and where even those supporting the government are afraid of their own safety. It’s a film that reveals how sometimes even in time of fear some people will take a stand when the life of a loved one is at stake.

How the New Greatness plays for audiences is now is going to be very differently than it would have been before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I say this because watching the film I kept talking to the screen about how much worse things would have been had the events were playing out now. Where Putin and his stormtroopers were cracking down on anyone who refused to tow his party line, now things are much worse with anti-war activists disappearing.

This is a film which will make you angry. More so in light of current world events. I really can’t say more than that because the bullshit level of Putin and his lackies make it hard not to be detached and objective.

I will say the film is very recommended, especially if you want a look into the madness that is burning a hole into Europe

Friday, May 20, 2022

Ernie Stevens on HOLD YOUR FIRE (2022)


Opening today in theaters is the documentary HOLD YOUR FIRE.  The film is the story of the longest hostage stand-off in New York City history. It was a point at which all of the rules for handling those sort of situations changed since the NYPD was forced to alter their (non-existent) methods involving threats of force and to try something subtler.  While I was watching the film earlier this week all I could think was "I wondered what Ernie would think."

For those of you who don’t know Ernie Stevens is a former San Antonio policeman who specialized in crisis resolution. He along with his then partner Joe Smarro were profiled in the HBO documentary ERNIE AND JOE: CRISIS COPS. Ernie has  since retired from the force and he now tours the country  speaking on crisis descalation, as well as being the writer with Nicholas Ruggerio of the best selling Mental health & De-escalation: A guide for law enforcement professionals (Real cops training Book 1) .

I met Ernie when I interviewed  him, Joe and  Jennifer McShane director of ERNIE AND JOE when they were promoting the film.  After the interview Ernie and I fell into a conversation that has been going on for three years now.  Because of Ernie’s background I had to find out if he saw HOLD YOUR FIRE and what he thought of it.

In response he sent me back the short piece that follows.  While it speaks specifically to the film , his words also say volumes about where we are as society and how we view the police and the way they view us. When I read it I was deeply moved, partly because I could relate to what he was saying as someone who works in the criminal justice field, but also because his words speak to all of us.

I want to thank Ernie for letting me share his thoughts on HOLD YOUR  FIRE and on the state of policing.


I watched the documentary and found myself at times angry with the police, denying racism and the disregard for human life. I also felt for the officers that watched a fellow member of the department shot and killed. Senseless crimes can lead to horrible outcomes for everyone involved, no matter what side of the incident you find yourself on. 

I felt a real connection to Dr. Harvey and his approach to human connection through active listening. I still use and teach the model that he spoke about in the film. It is mindblowing how far law enforcement has come but also how far it still has to go. 

Restorative Justice is an issue I strongly believe in and it can be a catalyst for healing. We, as a country, are so divided when it comes to policing in America and what that should look like. Racism is still a huge issue and implicit bias training is a check the box for many departments. 

I have faith in humanity, I have faith that law enforcement is still a noble profession. This film did a really good job describing the different point of views and the mindset of those directly involved in the incident. As a result of the racial tensions and the disconnect with law enforcement, the vicarious trauma spilled over into the community and they began to cause disruption during a tense standoff. This is where procedural justice is so important. The difference between legitimate authority and statutory authority is the chasm that separates this country today. Authority is given to law enforcement by the community, what we do with it is our gift back to them. 

You Resemble Me (2022) HRWFF 2022

 


This a portrait of suicide bomber Hasna Aït Boulahcen, who went from regular girl trying to protect her family to one surviving on the streets to a radicalized young woman who blew herself up in 2015.  

A kind of hypnotic film this is a film that pulls us in and makes us wonder how a young woman can change over time and end her life in a dramatic manner. The films power is in that while it explains, to some degree how the change happens, it also raises any number of questions that don’t have easy answers.  Watching the film at home I was left staring at the screen pondering what I had just seen. It’s the sort of film that you really need to see with someone, or with a theater full of people because when it’s over, it’s a film that  you are going to want to talk about.  Best of all even if you don’t “like” the film you are going to be forced to talk about it. Even if you don’t like it you are still going to have to wrestle with how you feel about what it is showing you.

As you can see I am not being very substantive in discussing the film, and that is intentional. This is not a film I can discuss in a vacuum. This is a film that forces my engagement with another person or people. I need to bounce my thoughts off someone and seeing the film alone at home makes leaves me wanting to ask questions and hash them out rather than simply stating my thoughts.

On a substantive level the film is a beautifully made and acted film. It’s a solid drama that, at least for me, is lost in the vital issues about radicalization and the feelings that bring it on.

Highly recommended. See it with a friend.

New Old Play opens today



Theatrically rooted film  is the life as portrayed on stage, and which mirrors the conventions of stage.

Three hour film is a one of kind trip through history. Playing unlike any film I’ve seen (expect perhaps some of Obyashi’s final films)  this is sensory delight for those film lovers who want something different and theater lovers who miss the magic of theater on the big screen.

A treat and recommended.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Eternal Spring (2022) Human Right Watch Film Festival 2022

 


“In China they will kill a thousand people just to get the right one”

Daxiong, comic illustrator and member of the  Falun Gong , recounts the story of the groups bold hijacking of the official state TV channel to broadcast a message counter to the official Chinese message that members of Falun Gong were dangerous terrorists. Horrific reprisals resulted where the government crushed and killed anyone they thought might have even been remotely part of the plan.

This  tale of a doomed plot to get the truth out is both heartbreaking and suspenseful. If you know anything about the Chinese government feelings toward Falun Gong you know that a lot of people are going to die. The group is their boogieman and they love to destroy its members in the most horrific ways. There have been numerous accounts of the criminal things they have done against the innocent people of the group and this is another. The suspense is there because you have to see how it was all done and how it played out. It’s a real version of the Star Wars Film Rogue One, but sadder, since the broadcast message didn’t change anything.

I was rocked.

What helps make this film work is the amazing animation. Designed by Daxiong, the animation adds so much to the tale. Not only does it allow events to be illustrated, it also results in a definite feel. We are in China at the turn of the millennium and not in the theater where we are seeing the film. Its beautifully done and gives the viewing a tactile quality that a straight live action recreation might not have ever achieved.

While the world is focused on the evils of Putin and Russia with their war in Ukraine, Eternal Spring is a reminder that China is probably worse and that we need to be very careful in our dealing with the Mainland government.

Highly recommended

Midwives (2022) HRWFF 2022


MIDWIVES was one of the great films at Sundance. 

The film is the story of two midwives, one Buddhist and one Muslim, in Myanmar who work together to give their community health care and deliver babies despite the fact that the Myanmar government is trying to ethnically cleanse the country of Muslims. 

It’s a deeply moving film full of humanity that makes it clear that there is no real difference between people other than the labels we stupidly put upon ourselves. This is a film that will make you run a spectrum emotions as you see how the acts of good people can make a difference even as bad people commit crimes. I was moved.

Highly recommended this film deserves more and better words than I can manage- though if these words can get you to see it it will have been enough.

Delikado (2022) Human Rights Watch FIlm Festival 2022


Delikado is  hell of a film. The film is the story  of the people on the island of Palawan in the Philippines who are fighting to keep their rain forest intact. One of the last rain forests in the world that hasn’t been severely compromised by the action of mankind the jungle is coveted by the rich and powerful. Who work to take to control of the land and resources by any means necessary.  Feeding into the madness is the former President Duterte’s criminal war on drugs, a reign of terror in disguise, where official and unofficial hit squads killed or brutalized anyone that they deemed part of the drug trade.

Lush and beautiful landscapes are counterbalanced by the evil that men do as activists and local officials are forced to fight the main government and interlopers. It’s a story which will make you angry.

The film is a portrait of three people Bobby Chen head of the Palawan NGO Network Inc (PNNI) which goes into the jungle to stop the illegal destruction of the rain forest. Efren "Tata" Balladeres, a one time government agent, turned activist and Nieves Rosento, mayor of one of the towns on the island. She is loved by her constituents and wants to keep the jungle intact. However her opponent is backed by the Philippines psychotic President Duterte and has been labeled as being in league with the drug dealers which makes her a target for the hit squads.

Structured like a thriller the film shows us the dangers of protecting the jungle and the land from the forces seeking to exploit the land for the profit of a few.  And there is danger since one of the people we are following dies during the course of the film. While you will watch the film for the suspense, the reality is you should see the film because it will make you understand just how the environment is under attack and how big business and big money doesn’t care who dies so they get money.

This is a great film and highly recommended

Be prepared to get angry.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

FINAL CUT (2022) Cannes 2022


Michel Hazanavicius, The director of THE ARTIST, remakes ONE CUT OF THE DEAD and all I'm left to wonder is why?

I am not going to go into details concerning the plot because the film is a puzzle box that changes in every third. Nominally the film is about the shooting of a zombie film that goes horribly wrong when real zombies attack. What happens after that is the film

If you haven't seen the original then give the film a try because it may work for you. Additionally if you haven't seen the first film stop reading here because after this point I'm going to discuss things that will refer to twists and turns in the film.

Still reading?

Then I assume you know the original and I can discuss this version.

Honestly I didn't care for this film at all for two reasons. The first is a matter of execution and the second is a matter of taste.

Execution wise the film is essentially exactly the original. The film is set in France and everyone has Japanese names. They took the original script and tweaked it slightly (I mean the film runs about 15 minutes longer than the original) and trotted it out as something new  It feels so close  to the original at times I was wondering why I was bothering to watch this version, (When this was announced for Sundance, where it was originally supposed to premiere,  there was no mention of it being a remake and five minutes in I knew I had seen it before).I mean everything carries over.

The one big change that Hazanavicius made was he brought his sense of humor to the proceedings. There is a broadness and silliness to the comedy that you either love or hate. He makes things sillier than they were with the result being that if the humor doesn't click it will seem stupid. I'm not a fan of his humor going back to his earlier films and understand why his films, outside of THE ARTIST, never clicked in the US.

If you saw the original you can skip this version 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Hold Your Fire (2022) opens Friday

 


HOLD YOUR FIRE is a killer documentary.  It is the story of how hostage negotiations came about when the robbery of a sporting good store went horribly wrong and ended up the longest standoff in NYPD history.

The whole things started when four black men  tried to rob a sporting goods store in Brooklyn. They had wanted the guns for protection from the Black Panthers. The robbery was discovered and the police arrived. After a three hour shoot out.  The four men ended up holding 12 people hostages. As the police  followed their typical pattern of trying to bully the people inside to come out (Think Dog Day Afternoon), one of their number, an atypical cop with a psychology degree was allowed  to try something different and by flying by the seat of his pants managed to change how situations were resolved.

Let me cut to the chase, how good is HOLD YOUR FIRE? When it was done I started it over and watched it a second time.

This is an eye opening film on so many levels. As bad as things are now watching the film you quickly realize how bad things used to be. Its clear the NYPD had no clue and it’s incredibly lucky that none of the hostages were killed since the cops were rather trigger happy and they were considering just driving a tank into the store to end it. Watching the film you realize that we have moved toward a better place.

HOLD YOUR FIRE is a killer documentary.  It is the story of how hostage negotiations came about when the robbery of a sporting good store went horribly wrong and ended up the longest standoff in NYPD history.

The whole things started when four black men  tried to rob a sporting goods store in Brooklyn. They had wanted the guns for protection from the Black Panthers. The robbery was discovered and the police arrived. After a three hour shoot out.  The four men ended up holding 12 people hostages. As the police  followed their typical pattern of trying to bully the people inside to come out (Think Dog Day Afternoon), one of their number, an atypical cop with a psychology degree was allowed  to try something different and by flying by the seat of his pants managed to change how situations were resolved.

Let me cut to the chase, how good is HOLD YOUR FIRE? When it was done I started it over and watched it a second time.

This is an eye opening film on so many levels. As bad as things are now watching the film you quickly realize how bad things used to be. Its clear the NYPD had no clue and it’s incredibly lucky that none of the hostages were killed since the cops were rather trigger happy and they were considering just driving a tank into the store to end it. Watching the film you realize that we have moved toward a better place.

The film also beautifully lays out the feelings of the various groups involved. We come to understand why the men decided to rob the store. We understand the point of view of the hostages, the people outside  and even the cops many of which still feel that the robbers should have been put to death because a cop died during the gunfight.

This is a perfect time capsule of the early 1970’s. Watching the film I felt I was back in Brooklyn 50 years ago. There is a tactile feel to it all. I could feel what it was like to be in the city at the time.

What I love is there is complexity to it all. Director Stefan Forbes doesn’t sugar coat things. While he clearly explains what happened, he also leaves things messy. Things aren’t neat. We are not given explanations for how people not interviewed felt.  The result is something much closer to life rather than polished film. It gives the proceedings a weight that haunts us. I also understand how that may not work for people who want documentaries to be neat and clean.

I love this film. I can’t wait to see it yet again.

Highly recommended.The film also beautifully lays out the feelings of the various groups involved. We come to understand why the men decided to rob the store. We understand the point of view of the hostages, the people outside  and even the cops many of which still feel that the robbers should have been put to death because a cop died during the gunfight.

This is a perfect time capsule of the early 1970’s. Watching the film I felt I was back in Brooklyn 50 years ago. There is a tactile feel to it all. I could feel what it was like to be in the city at the time.

What I love is there is complexity to it all. Director --- doesn’t sugar coat things. While he clearly explains what happened, he also leaves things messy. Things aren’t neat. We are not given explanations for how people not interviewed felt.  The result is something much closer to life rather than polished film. It gives the proceedings a weight that haunts us. I also understand how that may not work for people who want documentaries to be neat and clean.

I love this film. I can’t wait to see it yet again.

Highly recommended.

Cane Fire (2020) open Friday

The directors grandfather
Anthony Banua-Simon's CANE FIRE is damn near close to a perfect film. Everything it needs to be a truly great film is there, except for the editing. As much as I like all of the pieces, I really wish someone other than the director had put the pieces together.

CANE FIRE is the story of  how the island of Kauai is portrayed in the movies...and it's the story of director  Banua-Simon's family on the island... and the history of Hawaii... and the history of labor relations and strife... and an effort to find the lost film that had his grandfather in it... and the relationship of the whites to all the ethnic people that lived on or were brought to the island to work... and how tourism and Hollywood warped history... and how no one can really live in Hawaii unless they are really rich....and three or four other thing which I have forgotten but which are covered in detail.

Trust me, it's  all there, beautifully told but done so in a way that pings around exactly like the previous paragraph, except that it keeps looping back through things.  The result is a really informative film that doesn't seem to know what it is about. Actually it knows what it's about it just wants takes long time to get there and it wants to throw in a lot of other stuff along the way. It's kind of like looking at lose pictures instead of one in an album where everything is in the best order possible.

Rarely has any film frustrated me so much.

In reality as much as I am bitching about CANE FIRE being a mess I am forgetting to say that the film on its own terms is good. It isn't nearly as great as it should be but it is good. It raises a lot of questions that need to be looked into. It is a film that forces you to think about what Hollywood and tourism do, as well as consider the battle to earn a decent living.

I like CANE FIRE but I wanted to love it.  To that end I am going to recommend the film at Hot Docs, but with a warning that it does bounce around.


Monday, May 16, 2022

Emergency (2022) hits theaters Friday before it hits Amazon Prime next week

 


An expansion of director Carey Williams' short film, EMERGENCYis the story of two African American college students who plan on making a legendary run of frat parties. Complications ensue, before during dire when going home to change for the run they discover a white girl passed out in their living room. Uncertain what to do, they and their roomate who left the door unlocked, struggle to figure out what to do and keep themselves out of jail.

An uneasy mix of comedy and social drama this is one part a wild and crazy night style comedy mixed with very real social concerns. It makes for a lot of unconfortable laughs as tyical jokes of this style of comedy take on darker tones since the boys know there is a good chance that if they call for help they could end up dead from a "misunderstanding" on the part of the police. Its a clever spinning of things that occasionally clunks in moments like the white homeowners telling the black kids to get out of the neighborhood and stop selling frugs before going to to a house with a black lives matter sign outside. It's not that the moment isn't real, more that its low hanging laughs in a film that wants to be more.

While I like EMERGENCY, I don't love it. I admire what it is trying to do more than I love what it does. I love that spins things to make up think, but it doesn't always succeed, especially in an ending which, while right on target in many ways, doesn't actually hit it because of the tone.

Still, there is enough here to make the film worth seeing.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Nightcap 5/15/22- Human Rights Watch Film Festival Starts this week and other notes.


This week the Human Rights Watch Film Film Festival starts here in New York, Running at Lincoln Center  and the IFC Center as well as on line, the festival is the annual look at films that are highlight social issues across the globe.

Normally I would do a full on proper curtain raiser and give recommendations of which titles to see, but having seen all of the films except THE JANES, I can honestly say they are all good and all worth your time. I will have reviews of everything closer to the screenings

If you want more information or to get tickets go here.
----
With Tribeca less than month away I am happy to report that Unseen films has been credentialed and will be in the trenches. Coverage has started being put together with Ariela banging out several reviews already.

I have no idea how much we will be able to cover but it should be a lot since We at Unseen will be sharing coverage with Liz Whittemore and the Reel News Daily crew to cover what we can before collapsing into a heap.

We are still working out details so keep reading to see what we pull together.
----
And yea I’m remiss in getting a couple of long promised pieces up. Forget the filmmakers list which is growing by leaps and bounds and is pushing me farther and farther behind, that’s a project that is going to be finished by other hands after I pass on. I still need to do a piece on this years New York International Children’s Film Festival, and another on the Living Dead Museum in Monroeville. My excuse for both is that that pictures are still locked in my camera.

I also have a couple long unfinished piece, one on Tarzan and another on Benjamin Button that may see the light of day soon, or not.

On the other hand my latest talk with Patrick Meaney is close to being done and will post when THE BRINK OF... its festival. in June
----
The cost of everything is out of control, but you know that.

As this posts I’m trying to sort out what I’m doing with Tribeca  beyond the press credentials, because I was looking to buy tickets for some events and found out that I just can’t afford them. Yes I would love to hear JR speak but I can’t afford to  pay almost $50 to do so. As for several other events the cost is just a bit too much.

I went to Broadway last weekend with Peter Gutierrez to see Daniel Craig and Ruth Negga in the Scottish play. While we had a great time, the only way we could afford it was by running some manipulation of things and bringing in gift cards. While the show is an event show so more expensive then others is kind of expected, but the real truth is the fact is that even discounted shows are basically out of reach now. I mean the discounts on shows are the ticket prices I used to balk at because they were the too expensive full price.

It feels as though many events, Broadway and concerts are now trying to make up for all the lost revenue from the covid shut down. Add in the rising cost of gas and transportation and hotels and it's rapidly become impossible to do anything but stay home and watch TV- though even the streaming services and cable costs are shooting out of control.

Sadly its has come to the point where I can’t afford do the things I loved to do.

Two Gladiators

When Emperor Marcus Aurelius dies his son Commodus takes the throne. He is such an evil force a senator who knows he has a hidden twin brother runs off to find him and bring him back in the hope that he can seize the throne for good.

Made in the wake of FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE the film is a good little historical drama that moves along at a good clip. Echoing the Oscar winning GLADIATOR the film is much less pretentious and it its way much more fun than the Oscar winning film.

Worth a look.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Bulldog Drummond at Bay

John Lodge is Captain Hugh Drummond in one of a long series of films (its one of thee films from 1937 all with different Drummond's. The other two are the miscast Ray Milland and the perfectly cast John Howard).

Here Drummond and his friends take on a group of foreign spies trying to get their hands on a new plane. One of the baddies is played to perfection by Victory Jory, who really turns in a highly evil performance. This is one of the darkest of any of the Drummond films with the bad guys really doing a number on anyone and everyone who fall into their hands.

This is a solid, if slightly nasty little film that plays very differently than the seven films that followed with John Howard in the lead. Those films, while good little mysteries of their own, were just a tad lighter than this film. Very much worth a look, especially if one looks at how the character changed in one year by watching Ray Milland in Bulldog Drummond Escapes and John Howard in Bulldog Drummond Comes Back.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Brief thoughts on PLEASURE (2021) which opens today


PLEASURE is a look at the adult film industry. The the story of an actress named Bella Cherry who wades into the industry wanting to be the best. However circumstances sends her up and down various pathways that may not lead to places she wants to go.

When I saw this film at Sundance in 2021 I thought  it is was a good film, and wonderfully not like Hollywood's portrayal of the industry. However I was disappointed that the plotting didn't do anything unexpected and you kind of knew where its going because, while there aren't a lot of films about the porn industry, almost of them, short of a porn film, follow the same route with the only question being how banged up is the person at the center going to be in the end.

AT the same time its frank handling of the material and refusal to paint things as purely black or white, despite taking the familiar course, has me still pondering the  film a year later.  

While not for all audiences it's worth a look for those curious.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

LIKE A ROLLING STONE: THE LIFE & TIMES OF BEN FONG-TORRES is on Netflix now


 I had a blast watching LIKE A ROLLING STONE: THE LIFE & TIMES OF BEN FONG-TORRES. This is a wonderful portrait of a guy who was in the right place at the right time and not only saw but helped shaped the history of rock and roll and popular music as we know it.  Make no mistake what Torres was doing as a DJ  as well as writer altered what we as readers and listeners thought about the music we were consuming.

I don’t know what to say but this is a perfect example of when you have a great subject you don’t have to dress it up. Yes the film uses typical tricks to gussy up the proceeding by link interviews, videos and stills, but you won’t remember any of that, what you will remember is the man and his stories. Torres is nothing if not a great story teller and we are better for it. Actually what he is a pack rat and the fact that he still has the tapes of all the interviews will blow your mind.  (Someone please digitize all of them before they disappear)

This film is so much fun.

Highly recommended.

Monstrous (2022)


MONSTROUS is a film that’s hard to explain. I say that because this is a film of layers, of turns and of moments that happen and make you realize what you’ve been watching is no the story you thought you were watching. It’s one of those films that causes you to talk to the screen as new details shake your perception of reality.

I have been thinking about this film for several hours now. As I write this about 10 hours have past since I finished the film. I've been turning it over and over in my mind trying to sort out. As I did so I realized that this is the sort of film that my opinion of the film changed. This is really fun ride. However once you get to the end the film changes. It becomes a good film of a different sort, I mention this because this is a film you need to see knowing as little as possible.

Set in 1955 the film has a mother and her son fleeing to a remote house by a lake. They are looking to start over after escaping from an abusive ex. Both mother and son are deeply scarred and lean on each other to get through their days. However things are not as calm  as they would like as there appears to be a dark presence lurking in the lake.

I will not get into any details however I will say that Christina Ricci is dynamite. I know she's been great since she first appeared on the scene, however there is something about this role which takes her to the next level. She gives the sort of a performance that makes you go WOW.

This is a nifty little thriller and its worth a look.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

25th Brooklyn Film Festival Announces Lineup

 


29 World Premieres to be Shown

Indoor Screenings at Windmill Studios and Online Screenings, June 3-12

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK, May 11, 2022 - Brooklyn Film Festival (BFF) announces the film lineup for its 25th edition, themed “Unthinkable.” The 2022 edition will feature 29 World Premieres, 21 US bows, 21 east coast debuts, and 36 first-time screenings in NY. In total, BFF will show in competition 143 features and shorts from 34 countries. The full lineup includes 12 narrative features and eight documentary features, highlighted in this release. The festival will also present 40 narrative shorts, 20 documentary shorts, 23 animations, and 21 experimental films. Furthermore, 19 films will play as part of one of the most successful BFF programs, now in its 18th year, KidsFilmFest.

On June 3rd, BFF will open the festival with an in-person, world premiere screening, of the powerful and nuanced coming of age crime drama-thriller, “Signs of Love” written and directed by Clarence Fuller, and produced by David Michaels, starring Hopper Jack Penn (Flag Day), Dylan Penn (Flag Day, Elvis & Nixon), Zoë Bleu, Rosanna Arquette (The L Word, Ratched, Crash), Cree Kawa, and Wass Stevens.

Over the course of the 10-day festival, BFF will present 35 two-hour film programs online via the festival website, and the same 35 programs will be shown in person at Windmill Studios in Greenpoint, with select programs at Union Docs in Williamsburg. The online lineup will be available 24/7 for the entire 10-day festival. The indoor event will feature five programs a day on weekends, and three programs a day on weekdays. Each program is two-hours long. To find out more in-depth how the 25th BFF is going to work, both online and at our indoor venues, check the BFF’s website.

Along with the film screenings, BFF will offer events on social media, such as pre-recorded filmmaker introductions and Q&A sessions on the festival website. The video server will once again be hosted by Cinesend. Through the resources of our sponsors, BFF will assign to the winning filmmakers $50,000 in total prizes (cash, products, and services). BFF’s list of sponsors for 2022 include: WNET’s All Arts, Brooklyn Film Society, Windmill Studios, Cinelease, Herc, Upper Market Gallery, Quebec Government, PRG, Xeno Lights, AbelCine, Be Electric, Sixpoint, Final Draft, MPE, Big Screen Plaza, Broadway Stages, Media Services, Yelp, Lentini Communications, The Pod, Papapietro Perry, Blue Table Post and Noble Jewelry.

The full festival pass for indoor screenings can be purchased in advance, online. All purchased online tickets and passes for BFF indoor programs can be picked up at Windmill Studios once the festival begins. Online, BFF will sell each film category for $10 or $15, and a Full Festival Pass for $35. All passes will be valid 24/7 from June 3-12.

For the first time working with BFF, the 2022 advertising campaign created by MullenLowe New York invites people to keep an open mind and consider thoughts, ideas and nuances that don’t align with their own. If art is raw and unadulterated honesty has become offensive, then the Brooklyn Film Festival has something to offend everyone. The promotional spots can be seen here.

Below is a partial line up of feature films in competition this year. For further info on all the films, passes, and tickets, please visit BFF website.


FEATURE NARRATIVES:

World Premiere of LEON’S FANTASY CUT; Dir: Josh Caras, Jon Valde, United States, 99 min, 2021, Narrative Feature

Two first generation Ukrainian-American brothers, George and Iggy, know they are destined for great things. George is a wannabe business scion festering in a cell phone store. Igal is a small-time, pot dealer and an aspiring rap mogul. They are stuck together in a suffocating studio apartment in South Brooklyn, and are constantly at each other’s throats.


World Premiere of SIGNS OF LOVE (OPENING NIGHT FILM); Dir: Clarence Filler, United States, 96 min, 2021, Narrative Feature

Signs Of Love takes place in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia, a tough neighborhood where cultures mix but the law of the streets still rules. Hopper Jack Penn stars as Frankie, a young man from north Philly who dreams of a better life.


World Premiere of STAG; Dir: Alexandra Spieth, United States, 93 min, 2022, Narrative Feature

An urban loner fights for a chance at redemption when she's invited to her estranged BFF's bachelorette party.


World Premiere of WELCOME, VIOLETA!; Dir: Fernando Fraiha, Brazil, Argentina, 107 min, 2021, Narrative Feature

Eager to write her next novel, "Violeta,” Ana joins the "End of the World Residency,” a well-known literary lab in the Andes Mountain Range. There, she meets Holden, a charismatic leader and creator of a method in which artists abandon their own lives to live as their characters.


US Premiere of DREAMLIFE; Dir: Melvin Moti, Netherlands, France, 85 min, 2020, Narrative Feature

In the 1960s, at the height of the Space Race, a 23-year-old French geologist named Michel Siffre went to live in an underground cave for two months. Siffre investigated how the human body deals with extremely long isolation in a confined space, and how our sleep cycle responds to the absence of daylight.


US Premiere of PEDRO BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA; Dir: Laís Bodanzky, Brazil, Portugal, 107 min, 2021, Narrative Feature

It is 1831 and Pedro, the former emperor of Brazil, gathers physical and emotional strengths to face his brother, who usurped his kingdom in Portugal. The film is set on the Atlantic Ocean, aboard an English frigate, in which members of the court, officers, servants and slaves mingle in a babel of languages and social positions.


US Premiere of POUR L’AMOUR; Dir: Andrzej Mańkowski, Poland, 90 min, 2021, Narrative Feature

Marlena struggles with a serious marital crisis due to the alcohol addiction of her husband, Zbigniew. Via the Internet, she meets Bruno, a Senegalese, who brings back Marlena’s self-confidence and sense of womanhood. However, it turns out that the man plans something rather different for her than building a relationship with her.


East Coast Premiere of BALLOON ANIMAL; Dir: Em Johnson, United States, 88 min, 2021, Narrative Feature

A young circus performer, Poppy Valentine, is stuck under the harsh demands of her father and their community's expectations. But while on a quick night out to let loose and have some fun with her friends, she finds herself captivated by small-town America, which then forces her to question everything.


East Coast Premiere of RAGGED HEART; Dir: Evan McNary, United States, 85 min, 2021, Narrative Feature

When his estranged daughter tragically dies, a washed-up musician sets out to complete the last song she wrote, hoping to somehow redeem himself and let her rest in peace.


East Coast Premiere of SHAMBALA; Dir: Artykpai Suyundukov, Kyrgyzstan, 99 min, 2021, Narrative Feature

Based on the novella The White Ship, by Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov, Shambala tells the story of a lonely, impressionable, seven-year-old boy who lives in a protected forest, high in the mountains, with his grandfather, step-grandmother, auntie and uncle.


East Coast Premiere of WAKE UP, LEONARD; Dir: Kat Mills Martin, US , 73 min, 2021, Narrative Feature

Part comedy, part self-help nightmare, Wake Up, Leonard follows one man’s quest for wellness while failing miserably to stay on his vibe. This is the story of a broken-hearted seeker with a tenuous grasp on his mental health, but an admirable faith in the Universe.


NY Premiere of LEARN TO SWIM; Dir: Thyrone Tommy, Canada, 90 min, 2021, Narrative Feature

After a tragic loss, Dezi, a jazz musician, flees in an attempt to rebuild his life, only to find himself haunted by the truth of his past.


FEATURE DOCUMENTARIES:

World Premiere of HOPE: STORIES OF SURVIVAL DOCUMENTARY; Dir: Joseph Pritchard, United States, 60 min, 2021, Documentary Feature

Hope: Stories of Survival is the first full-length documentary that The Salvation Army has produced. Joe Pritchard, the director of this film, has spent over a decade with this organization, directing short films with the support of his amazing team.


World Premiere of THE UNITED STATES OF FASHION DESIGNER ELIE TAHARI; Dir: David Serero, United States, 65 min, 2021, Documentary Feature

Fashion Designer and Mogul Elie Tahari, has been living the American Dream for more than 50 years. He came to New York in 1971 with less than $100 in his pocket, slept on benches in Central Park, and went on to build a billion-dollar fashion empire.


US Premiere of MERRY CHRISTMAS, YIWU; Dir: Mladen Kovacevic, Iva Plemic, China, 94 min, 2020, Documentary Feature

Communist ideals have long lost their value in Yiwu, a city with 600 Christmas factories, in which Christmas as we know it is produced for the entire world.


NY Premiere of BIG OLD GOOFY WORLD - THE STORY OF OH BOY RECORDS; Dir: Joshua Britt, Neilson Neilson Hubbard, United States, 52 min, 2021, Documentary Feature

This is the story of the little record label that could! Founded by the great John Prine and his two managing partners, Al Bunetta and Dan Einstein.


NY Premiere of DROWNING IN SILENCE; Dir: Chezik Tsunoda, United States, 86 min, 2021, Documentary Feature

Drowning in Silence is an intimate and brave directorial debut from Chezik Tsunoda, documenting her quest for answers and personal journey of healing in the midst of a tragedy.


NY Premiere of FREE RENTY: LANIER V. HARVARD; Dir: David Grubin, United States, 95 min, 2021, Documentary Feature

Free Renty tells the story of Tamara Lanier, an African American woman determined to force Harvard University to cede possession of daguerreotypes of her great-great-great grandfather, an enslaved man named Renty.


NY Premiere of FROM THE HOOD TO THE HOLLER; Dir: Pat McGee, United States, 102 min, 2021, Documentary Feature

Charles Booker rode to the brink of one of the biggest upsets in political history. The documentary follows his campaign across Kentucky, from the most urban to the most rural settings.


GRAIN; Dir: Alex Contell, Tommaso Sacconi, US, Italy, Spain, 81 min, 2021, Documentary Feature

These days, everyone’s shooting analog. Whether it is a fashion house seeking out "new” creative or an amateur perusing eBay, analog film photography has piqued the interest (and search history) of people everywhere.


About BFF

The organizers of the Brooklyn Film Festival have been staging International, competitive film events since 1998. BFF's mission is to provide a public forum in Brooklyn in order to advance public interest in films and the independent production of films; to draw worldwide attention to Brooklyn as a center for cinema and to encourage the rights of all Brooklyn residents to access and experience the power of independent filmmaking; to promote artistic excellence and the creative freedom of artists without censure. BFF, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

For more information about the KidsFilmFest, visit www.KidsFilmFest.org. For inquiries about the event contact: nina@wbff.org. .

BANKSY MOST WANTED (202) Opens Friday

There seems to be an endless parade of films "about Banksy".  They are all sold in such away that them make you think they are about him but they are really not. In the last few years we have had SAVING BANKSY about trying to save one of his works, CHASING BANKSY a narrative about trying to take a Banksy off the side of a house, THE MAN WHO STOLE BANKSY about a guy who stole a piece of his art, THE BANKSY JOB about an artist who steals a statue because he was mad he wouldn't sign a piece of art, BANKSY DOES NEW YORK  about an NYC residency and there are more. That doesn't include the art docs where he is mentioned. All of them dealt with his art and not the man....

...which is why BANKSY MOST WANTED is so vital and important. It is a film that is about the man, or as much as one can know about a true ghost, through the lens of a discussion of his career and the quest to unmask who he really is. This is the first film, or at east since EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, that is really about the person and not just about a specific work or exhibition.  The result is this is one of the more informative and compelling Banksy films you are likely to find.

To be certain there are no answers. While Banksy may have been seen in some video putting up his art,who he really is is not revealed, but while watching the film I got the feeling we really don't need to know. Nay, we really shouldn't know who he is because once we do we suddenly will have a limit on the canvas of our imagination. More importantly once we know who he is we will incorrectly start to force limits on his work that shouldn't be there. So what if he is, say a bricklayer from Scotland, that shouldn't influence his art. It didn't before and knowing that now shouldn't change how we see what he does.

What I loved about watching the film was I got a better sense of this Banksy creation than I had before. The dots were connected up and I grew to truly appreciate his entire body of work more than I had before.

This is a great film and highly recommended, especially for anyone who is a fan or has any interest not only in his art but modern art, both of the museum and street variety.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Discounted Gold Passes Now Available for the 25th Anniversary Long Island International Film Expo July 13-17

 


Discounted Gold Passes Now Available for the 25th Anniversary Long Island International Film Expo July 13-17

Experience Local and Foreign Film Screenings, Celebrity Appearances, Informative Panels, A Star-Studded Awards Ceremony and Q & A’s with Top Filmmakers From Around The World

The Long Island Film Expo (LIIFE) is proud to announce that discounted Gold Passes for the 25th Anniversary presentation of the festival are now available at: http://longislandfilm.com/tickets/

Pre-Sale Gold Passes are discounted at $75.00 until May 15th then the price increases to $99.00 when the sale of individual film blocks become available as well. A Gold Pass gets you access to all film screenings, virtual film screenings, panels, the Opening Night Party, Filmmakers Round table, and the Closing Night Awards Ceremony and After Party.

For the past 25 years, LIIFE has been the premiere filmmaker community on Long Island, and one of the most respected festivals of its kind in the world; showing almost 125 independent films in many different genres each year.

This year, the 25th installment of LIIFE will be held from July 13th - July 17th at the historic Bellmore Movies, 222 Pettit Ave in Bellmore; featuring films from around the globe.

Festivals of the past have included such luminaries as the late Danny Aiello and Ed Asner, Blue Bloods’ Robert Clohessy and Abigail Hawk, Ralph Macchio, John Amos, Daniel Baldwin, Ally Sheedy, 30 Rock’s Kevin Brown, Cathy Moriarty, Steve Buscemi, Ed Burns, William Sadler, Ilene Kristen, and so many more.

LIIFE has become a must attend festival for serious filmmakers; with local and foreign film screenings, celebrity appearances, entertaining and informative panels, a star-studded awards ceremony, Q & A with filmmakers from the world over and networking galore. Sponsored by the Long Island Film-TV Foundation (LIFTF), the County of Nassau, the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency and Gold Coast Studios.

For More Information on LIIFE or to purchase tickets, please visit: www.LongIslandFilm.com

LIIFE's sister festival, Scared for Your LIIFE, a short horror festival, is open for submissions at https://filmfreeway.com/ScaredforyourLiife - further details TBA.

Ariela Rubin on Happening (2021)


Happening is a French movie that takes place in the 1960's before abortion was legal. 

The film is about a girl named Anne who's in high school and after missing monthly periods and feeling sick, goes to the doctor, to find out she's pregnant. She asks the doctor to help her, that she can't possibly keep it. The doctor shuts her up and says she can't talk about such things and that girls end up in jail for such things.

The movie shows her trying to find ways to get an abortion. She goes to another doctor and begs for his help, asks her 2 closest friends, who won't even speak to her about it, saying that just knowing what she might do can put them in jail, she asks the guy who got her pregnant for help, and others, and then even tries to give herself a DIY abortion.

This movie was brutal to watch. Even writing this review is reminding me of how hard it was. This movie is not for the faint-hearted, which I am. I felt lightheaded and sick from watching it. I will say I wish I hadn't seen it because it was really too much for me, but this movie is so important and SO relevant, especially with what is going on in America. People need to see what life was like before abortion was legalized and what life can become again for many.

I wish that every Republican or person who is against abortion would watch this movie to see what women used to have to go through before it became legal, and what they might face now that they are overturning its legality. I would be surprised if anyone watched this film and didn't feel uneasy and upset.

The movie is based on the book by Anne Ernaux, which is based on her real life story.

Sadness (2021) opens this week


A flu like disease morphs into a plague that turns people into homicidal maniacs. It happens one morning after a couple say good bye and head off to work.

What starts out as a possible tense commentary on covid turns almost instantly into a film about the couple trying to find each other as all sorts of horrible things happen around them. Its an unending stream of violence, blood, gore and really vile comments. If you like that sort of thing this film is for you- if you don't stay away.

I loved the craft, I loved the set pieces, but I lost interest because there isn't much here beyond that. This film exists to be gross and to have people say ugly things and for no other reason. The film just wants us to watch people die and is little more than torture porn in another form.

Though I suspect a HUGE part of my problem is that the film's internal logic breaks down almost instantly. Some people turn into monsters right away. Others incubate. The turning always is when it can do the most damage. Turns of the plot are geared not for a reasonable action but to simply drive the plot. i was talking to the screen for the wrong reason

If you don't care about a real plot and logic and love gore give it a shot, If you hate blood stay far away.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Brief thoughts on Visions of Okinawa: Cinematic Reflections at the Japan Society

 This weeks marks the start of the Japan society’s look at films from Okinawa, Visions of Okinawa: Cinematic Reflections. It’s a neat little series that is mostly in person , but which has a small virtual component.

I know over the last few months I’ve been sadly remiss in reviewing many of the Japan Society series, and you can blame it on real life keeping my focus elsewhere. However this time out the series is so good that I had to take time out to give you all a quick run down on the films.

I should warn you that seeing these films, most of which are from the early 1970's, you are going to go into a time warp. These films are from another place and time. There is a feeling to them that is unique. We are in a special place and in a specific time. There is a joy in seeing the films because they are completely different than the polished films we see today. There is no effort to make the films feel like anything other than what they are and we are so much better for it. We are very much not in Hollywood and so we are seeing a bunch of special films. 

The films are also very much tied up in how the islanders see themselves. The politics of imperialism hangs over everything. I didn't fully understand it all, however the films being firmly rooted in the island being under various governmental controls give us a world view that opens up our eyes.

PARADISE VIEW This is a 2021 recut of the director Go Takamine's 1985 film. I had not seen the film previously so I don't know what changes were made. I really liked this film a great deal and I'm curious to know what the differences are. That said this film about a community getting ready for a wedding as Okinawa slides back to Japanese control is charming. There are several pieces here that are delighting me in my memory as I write this. 

LEVEL FIVE is a Chris Marker film. Marker is one of my favorite film cum essay filmmakers. In this documentary cum essay, his final film, Marker examines the history of Okinawa through the eyes of a computer programmer who has to make a video game on the Battle of Okinawa. As with all Marker films it's a one of a kind film that will alter how you see the world.

DEAR SUMMER SISTER was the one film in the series that didn't connect for me. Its definitely not bad, just not my cup of tea. The story of a girl going to visit her step brother on Okinawa didn't connect  to me as well as the other films in the series.  Blame the tone which was a bit too light for me.

TERROR OF YAKUZA Sonny Chiba stars in a film based on the gang wars that were raging across the island at the time the film was made. The film concerns a crazed gang leader fighting for control of the island's criminal elements. It was banned for years from the island lest it cause an uproar. Instead it caused copy cat films to be made. Grab some popcorn and curl up for a fun time.

ASIA IS ONE - Okinawan miners reflect on their lives and the seeming lack of a future for them and their families in this moving documentary. Its a film that raises a lot of questions that are still relevant some 50 years since the film was made.

UNTAMAGIRU a day laborer is turned into a folk hero and tries to set up an independent Okinawa.  Its an interesting story that's based on a stage play. I didn't understand all of the politics but I still enjoyed the heck out of it.

MOTOSHINKAKARANNU is a warts (and all) look at Okinawa from April 1969 to July 1970. Shot in a moody black and white the film is a look at all sides of the island's society during a time of change. Raw and real this is the sort of film that made me fall in love with the documentary form.

For tickets and more information go here

Mau (2021) opens Friday


Portrait of designer Bruce Mau  as he talks about his life, his projects and his program Massive Action with which he hopes in inspire everyone to make the world a better place.

Interesting look at a man whose work has influenced millions. While Mau's initial work in design was with typography and words and images it grew to include things such as trying to help design to Mecca for the next thousand years and a social movement in Guatemala . Mau believes that the world can be made a better  place, we simply have to design it.

MAU is a good introduction to Mau. While I was familiar with his work I had no idea who he was. I loved that the film gave me a good look at what he has done and the philosophy behind it all.  I'm not sure if Mau's optimism will be rewarded but it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

I liked MAU. 

If you want to see a hopeful film that will make you rethink how you see the future, see MAU.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Kamikaze Hearts (1986) opens Friday


Legendary documentary about porn actresses Sharon Mitchell and Tigr charts their train wreck romance and well as the porn industry back in the day. Partially true and partly fictional the film is a walk on the wild side

I have been running into Kamikaze Hearts since it came out and I’ve always been mixed on the film.  My first cross into it was when I was looking for racy content without looking for racy content and finding out this isn’t the film for me.  Later when my tastes changed I tried the film again I went back because of the good reviews.  My return visit was similar to the first viewing in that I found the film good but not really my cup of tea.

The problem with the film is that Mitchell and Tigr are not particularly nice people, at least as seen in the film. Fueled by various substances the then real life couple were in a weird death spiral of a relationship that makes the term dysfunctional seem like a walk in the park. To me watching the film is like watching a road accident. I keep waiting for the crash. Over the years I’ve heard all sorts of stories about what was happening between them, and while most were probably fabrications or inflations of actual events that still leaves a good number to curl your hair. I suspect having heard stories colored my viewings of the film, which is unfortunate since I see the film as rather unpleasant.

With the film getting a restoration and rerelease from Kino I just wanted to put my thoughts out there. I’m sure some people will love the film, but I’m not sure about the rest.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Montauk77 (2022)

MONTAUK 77 is a new film that is being released this summer. I was asked to take a look at the film in advance of the release. I fell in love with the film and I asked director Michael Scully if it would be okay if posted the review as soon as possible. He said yes and so, several months in advance, here is some thoughts on a sweet little film you need to have on your radar.

A young woman hires a ride share driver to take her to Montauk Point to dispose of her mother’s ashes.  Things however become complicated when a plan is hatched to rob a bank.

Okay full disclosure- despite the plot to rob a bank this is not a crime film.  I mention this because trying to explain the plot  makes it sound like this is going to be some grand caper film. And while that’s in there. This really a character driven film that will charm the pants off of you.  

Writer/Director and star Michael Scully and his co-writer and co-star (and daughter) Michayla have crafted a sweet little film that will make you smile.  Essentially a two-hander, the film is firmly focused on two lost souls connecting. 

What I love is that the Scully's keep the emotion realistic. There are no melodramatic turns that are there just to show off acting. Instead this is a film where we lean in because we are invested in the characters. We watch because we like the people on screen so we want to hang out with them. To be certain some of the turns are a little  too neat or exist to move things along, however at the same time they make perfect sense within the structure of the story.

If you are a regular reader of Unseen Films you know  I normally will quibble about something in a film, I really can’t here. Sure there are little bumps, but the truth is once the story is in motion it pretty much goes straight on to the end in the  best sort of a way pulling us along. Because we are so focused on the two Scully’s we don’t want to look away and we don’t care about any bumps enough to take points away.

This is a lovely cinematic smile of a film and is recommended when the film opens in the summer.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Over/Under (2022) SFF 2022


Violet and Stella  are inseparable nine year-olds having the best summer of their lives. When summer ends the pair head back to their lives. Over the next few years life, puberty and the world come calling and trying to change them and break their friendship.

This is a beautiful and lyrical film that has a great deal to say about growing up. It’s a film that has a wonderful eye that reveals what it’s like being a kid.  Granted the lyricism makes it less the literal truth, but it does give everything the polish that our memory will give events. Kudos to writer/director Sophia Silver and her co-writer Sianni Rosenstock for taking the closeness of their lifelong friendship and turning it into movie magic.

Kudos also to Emajean Bullock and Anastasia Veronica Lee as the two leads. Not only do they give wonderful performances but they possess the rarest of things, a natural chemistry that isn’t fake. Watching the early sections of the film I thought the characters, and the actresses were sisters. There is something bonded between them that is rare.

I really like OVER/UNDER a great deal.  It’s a gem of a film that is definitely worth a look.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

L.A.’S DANCES WITH FILMS CELEBRATES 25 YEARS AND SETS LINEUP; “THE WALK” TO OPEN FESTIVAL ON JUNE 9 @ THE TCL CHINESE THEATER IN HOLLYWOOD

Titles Star Jeremy Piven, Jay Duplass, Common, Terrence Howard, Danny Glover, Shane West, Taryn Manning, Henry Rollins & Many More!

 Los Angeles, Calif. – (May 5, 2022) –The most defiantly independent film festival, DANCES WITH FILMS (DWF:LA), is celebrating 25 years of championing innovation, talent and creativity with a 2022 lineup that founders Leslee Scallon and Michael Trent declare is “the most dynamic and diverse we’ve ever seen.” The Los Angeles-based indie film event will take place at the TCL Chinese Theater from June 9-19.

 The festival will kick off opening night with THE WALK, directed by Daniel Adams and starring Terrence Howard, Jeremy Piven, Malcolm McDowell and Justin Chatwin, a powerful story based on true events about Boston's 1974 desegregation busing.

Additional titles include ASHGROVE, a pandemic era film starring Amanda Brugel (The Handmaid’s Tale), THE LATIN FROM MANHATTAN, which follows the wild life of adult film icon Vanessa Del Rio, starring Shane West, Jesse Metcalfe, Taryn Manning, Esai Morales, Drea de Matteo and Dita Von Teese. Documentary selection WE PAID LET US IN! chronicles the inspiring journey of Chicago rhyme duo, Abstract Mindstate, who reunited after a 16-year hiatus when Kanye West signed them to his newly launched record imprint in 2021. WE PAID LET US IN! also features Common, Coodie & Chike, and Deon Cole. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE A PROBLEM? traces the phenomenon of othering in America, how marginalized groups of people are mistreated in a nation that allegedly cares about justice and equality, and features Ed Asner, Danny Glover, Henry Rollins and music by Jackson Browne. Closing out the festival is thriller GHOSTWRITTEN starring Jay Duplass and Maria Ditzia.

 Dances With Films, who champions diversity and inclusion has chosen to close the festival on Juneteenth to further shed light on this important legal holiday.  Topics highlighted throughout programming include women’s rights, segregation, homelessness, mental health, refugee stories, and sexual abuse.

Festival Founders Leslee Scallon, Michael Trent and Producing Partner Jackie Tepper state “25 years is no small feat in Hollywood, and Dances With Films continues to be about new voices, and new perspectives that help transform the way people see the world through the visual medium. We have always provided a safe space for emerging filmmakers to enhance awareness and understanding of the world through their art.  The impact of filmmaking in terms of creating change is undeniable, and DWF:LA is proud to be a part of that.”

In addition to the film screenings, Dances With Films will also host a series of panels and performances. Previous panelists include Academy Award nominated DUNE Producer Cale Boyter, Director Paul Greengrass, Producer Michael London, Lord of The Rings Executive Producer Mark Ordesky, President of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences and Casting Director David Rubin, and more.

 You can check out the entire film slate on the Dances With Films Website and follow @danceswithfilms on Instagram.

 The 2022 Dances With Films Festival is sponsored by PRG, Simple DCP, Filmmaker Magazine, Fandor, Lucas Bols, The Loews Hotel Hollywood and Josh Cellars.


About Dances With Films

 In 1998 DWF began as a film festival dedicated to finding tomorrow’s talent today and continues to carry on this mission. With many World and West Coast Premieres, DWF provides a coveted first stop on the festival circuit. With a vast number of submissions, the selection process is based solely on merit and discoverability. DWF continues its dedication to and is a devoted champion of fresh and creative voices. For the past 25 years, DWF has proudly provided access and opportunity to thousands of films and filmmakers from all over the world who diligently work year after year to see their dreams realized.

ViCA ANNOUNCES FAFF 2022 LINEUP

World’s Largest Art Film Festival: Over 100 Films from 32 Countries

Including a Special Screening of the fully restored 1953 Invaders from Mars

(May 5, 2022, Los Angeles, CA) The Venice Institute of Contemporary Art (ViCA) is proud to announce the Official Selections for the 9th Annual Fine Arts Film Festival (FAFF), on June 10-11 in person, and June 10-19, 2022 on Vimeo. FAFF – the world’s largest art film festival – will present over 100 films from 32 countries represented across the globe. Over half of the films were directed or produced by women, and POC directed almost a third of them. 

The Festival will present an in-person-only Special Screening of the influential 1953 INVADERS FROM MARS, directed by the visionary and ahead-of-his-time William Cameron Menzies (US). It’s a classic sci-fi favorite, in which a young boy witnesses a spaceship crash and soon discovers the chilling fact that aliens are taking over the bodies of the people around him, and wonders, will he be next? Ignite Films has made this film available to showcase the world's most advanced film restoration technology. Find out more about the pain-staking and devoted years-long process of the 4K restoration at https://www.ignite-films.com/en-us/pages/restoration-of-invaders-from-mars

A few examples of the rest of the incredible line up are documentaries BREATHE UNDERWATER, by director Eddie Shwartz (Isreal), about a vet dealing with family expectations while suffering from PTSD, WALLACE CHAN—THE ART OF MATERIALS, by Martina Margaux Cozzi (Italy), shows how the Hong-Kong based sculptor develops new work, and CAMPESINOS: AMERICA'S UNSUNG HEROES, by Joe Poni (US), focusing on essential farm workers during the pandemic. Narrative films were also a strong category this year, with HAS BEEN/NEVER WAS, by M.S. Kerr (US), a satirical look at how money corrupts art, SILENCED TREE, by Faysal Soyal (Turkey), about femicide and the nature of evil, and RE-OPENING:A LOCKDOWN MOCKUMENTARY, by Chris Guerra and Matthew John Koppin(US), our first-ever mock-doc. Animated films PHOBIA, by Waseem H. Almarzouki (Syria), and MELANCOLIA, by Alina Poescu (Romania), take a lyrical look at restriction and freedom. Music/performance films include WARRIOR SPIRIT, by Sarah Lois Dorai (Malaysia), combining rock guitar with traditional instruments of indiginous Malaysian culture, and THE OPENING by Nima B. Djavidani (Cyprus), combining opera, poetry, and movement. 

The films (including VR) focus on everything from the struggles of migration or living under quarantine, recent violence against Asians or BLM protestors, overcoming injury or alcoholism, to such topics as cult-like TV evangelists, Himalayan cyclists, dyslexic graffiti artists, and LGBTQ performance artists. This not-to-be-missed 2-day in-person and 10-day online event will include live Q&A’s with filmmakers and artists, to be broadcast during the festival.

Ticketing information is available on the ViCA website. Eight curated series of online films (running an average of 7 hours each) are being offered at $10 per series. A festival pass for ALL online films will be available for just $25. Tickets for the in-person festival start at $10.

The festival is dedicated to presenting the finest new films about how art is made, how artists survive, how they think and work, and what makes creativity our most important skill, and our best hope for mankind.

Official Selections of FAFF 2022 will be offered a distribution deal through the ViCAFilms/Big Pieces Company partnership, which has resulted in the Art/World Collection, viewable now on Vimeo. A group of these films was recently licensed to one of the most popular national streamers, Tubi.

FAFF is now in its ninth year. "Every year we get more films from more countries, of higher and higher quality. It's really exciting to see perspectives that are fresh and different from what I've previously been exposed to. Each film is like entering a new little world to explore,” says Christy Addis-Gutierrez, FAFF Festival Program Director and ViCA’s Film Curator. She adds, “Being able to offer distribution deals to our Official Selections filmmakers helps us continue to attract the very best films from around the world."

The FAFF 2022 Awards Ceremony will be announced shortly.

Sponsors past and present include Blick Art Materials, Beyond Baroque, 4 Brothers Wine Co., Flake, the Estonian American Business Alliance, and many others.

About ViCA

The Venice Institute of Contemporary Art (ViCA) is devoted to presenting and sustaining the unique stories, history and culture of one of the most important centers of independent artistic expression. Through its exhibitions, events, research facilities, and education curriculum, ViCA celebrates the world of art internationally, and the art and culture of Venice Beach/Southern California. Our founding in 2011 marks an ongoing commitment to our community - to present the art world from the perspective of its artists, writers, curators, collectors, and the art viewing public.

Website/Official Selections List: https://www.veniceica.org/fineartsfilmfestival

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

#FAFF2022

Twitter: @veniceica

Facebook: @fineartsfilmfestival

Instagram: @veniceica  @fineartsfilmfestival

BAM Announces Full Lineup for BAMcinemaFest, June 23—30 at BAM Rose Cinemas

 “The city’s best independent film showcase” —The New Yorker

 (May 5, 2022 | Brooklyn, NY) BAM announces the lineup for this year’s BAMcinemaFest taking place in person at BAM Rose Cinemas June 23—30. Overflowing with funny, moving, challenging, and thought-provoking discoveries, this year’s festival is a celebration of all that movies can be when bold, uncompromising artists are empowered to tell their own stories. Festival programmer and senior programmer for film Jesse Trussell explains, “I'm thrilled to have BAMcinemaFest back in person and to spotlight this incredible lineup of filmmakers. As we close in on a year since BAM Rose Cinemas reopened, it's a joy to be able to gather and celebrate this art form as a collective experience.”

 The festival opens with Aftershock, an award-winning powerful documentary spotlighting the Black women, and bereaved partners, who have been failed by the U.S. maternal health system. Directed by Paula Eiselt and Tonya Lewis Lee, the screening will be followed by a panel discussion to inspire and empower the trailblazing work being done to ensure the best birthing outcomes for all Americans.

 The festival features the New York premiere of new restorations of Ayoka Chenzira’s first feature film, the coming-of-age dramatic comedy Alma’s Rainbow (1993), screening with her animated satirical short film Hair Piece: A Film for Nappyheaded People (1984). Amber Bemak’s 100 Ways to Touch the Border, a self-reflexive documentary on the radical artistic practice of extraordinary Mexican/Chicano performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña and his troupe La Pocha Nostra, makes its world premiere.

 The hopes, anxieties, and romantic tanglings of Gen Z make an appearance at BAMcinemaFest with Andrew Infante’s award-winning Brooklyn rom-com Ferny & Luca and Kit Zauhar’s feature debut Actual People. The festival also includes Ramin Bahrani’s (Chop Shop, White Tiger) acclaimed 2nd Chance about the life and lies of the bulletproof vest inventor; Rita Baghdadi’s Sirens, the story of the Middle East’s first all-female thrash metal band; and Julie Ha & Eugene Yi’s Free Chol Soo Lee, a portrait of community activism following the wrongful conviction of Chol Soo Lee and the complex legacy of becoming the symbol of a movement. 

Also in this year’s lineup, Damian Marcano’s award-winning breakout debut Chee$e; Ahsen Nadeem’s Crows Are White, a documentary-existential comedy set in a Buddhist monastery; director Jason Kohn’s documentary-thriller about the secretive world of the diamond industry Nothing Lasts Forever; and Tyler Taormina’s Happer’s Comet screening with Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck and Robert Machoian’s The Last Days of August, two visually stunning films that capture prairie towns in Nebraska and the quiet nightlife of suburban Long Island. BAMcinemaFest features two short film programs highlighting formally inventive short films that ask questions about art, history, family, connection, and trauma.

 Full Festival Lineup

Thu, Jun 23 at 7pm: Aftershock

Fri, June 24 at 6:45pm: Chee$e

Fri, June 24 at 9:30pm: Ferny & Luca

Sat, June 25 at 1:30pm: BAMcinemaFest Shorts Program 1

Sat, June 25 at 4:15pm: 100 Ways to Touch the Border

Sat, June 25 at 6:45pm: The Unknown Country

Sat, June 25 at 9:15pm: Actual People

Sun, June 26 at 1:30pm: BAMcinemaFest Shorts Program 2

Sun, June 26 at 4:15pm: Sirens

Sun, June 26 at 6:45pm: Nothing Lasts Forever

Sun, June 26 at 9:15pm: Crows Are White

Mon, June 27 at 7pm: Alma’s Rainbow + Hair Piece: A Film for Nappyheaded People

Tue, June 28 at 7pm: Free Chol Soo Lee

Wed, June 29 at 7pm: Happer’s Comet + The Last Days of August

Thu, June 30 at 7pm: 2nd Chance

  

Film Descriptions