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Approaching the Elephant
Approaching the Elephant 2015
Amanda Rose Wilder
Amanda Rose Wilder’s acclaimed feature debut dives head first into the inaugural year of the Teddy McArdle Free School in New Jersey, where all classes are voluntary and rules are determined by vote – adults and children have an equal say. Wilder is there from the beginning to end of the school year, documenting and observing founder Alex Khost and an indelible cast of outspoken young personalities as they form relationships, explore their surroundings and intensely debate rule violations, until it all comes to a head. Evoking the immersive nonfiction styles of Frederick Wiseman and Allen King, APPROACHING THE ELEPHANT is a rare, inspired portrait of unfettered childhood.
Something, Anything 2014
In SOMETHING, ANYTHING, a low-key jewel of a movie, newcomer Ashley Shelton delivers a stirring performance as Peggy, a seemingly typical Southern newlywed on the path to a perfect career, home, and family. But when a tragedy shatters her plans for domestic bliss, Peggy spins away from her husband and career and gradually transforms into a spiritual seeker, quietly threatening the closest relationships around her. With his debut feature, award-winning writer/director Paul Harrill reveals a unique directorial sensibility and delivers a refreshing story of human transformation.
CITIZENFOUR is a real life thriller, unfolding by the minute, giving audiences unprecedented access to filmmaker Laura Poitras and journalist Glenn Greenwald’s encounters with Edward Snowden in Hong Kong, as he hands over classified documents providing evidence of mass indiscriminate and illegal invasions of privacy by the National Security Agency (NSA).
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry 2014
SHE’S BEAUTIFUL WHEN SHE’S ANGRY resurrects the buried history of the outrageous, often brilliant women who founded the modern women’s movement from 1966 to 1971. SHE’S BEAUTIFUL takes us from the founding of NOW, with ladies in hats and gloves, to the emergence of more radical factions of women’s liberation; from intellectuals like Kate Millett to the street theatrics of WITCH (Women’s International Conspiracy from Hell!). It does not shy away from controversies over race, sexual preference and leadership that arose in the women’s movement, and brilliantly captures the spirit of the time — thrilling, scandalous, and often hilarious.
National Gallery 2014
National Gallery takes the audience behind the scenes of a London institution, on a journey to the heart of a museum inhabited by masterpieces of Western art from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. National Gallery is the portrait of a place, its way of working and relations with the world, its staff and public, and its paintings. In a perpetual and dizzying game of mirrors, film watches painting watches film.
The Great Invisible
The Great Invisible 2014
On April 20, 2010, communities throughout the Gulf Coast of the United States were devastated by the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, a state-of-the-art, offshore oilrig operated by BP in the Gulf of Mexico. The blast killed 11 of 126 rig crewmembers and injured many more, setting off a fireball that was seen 35 miles away. After burning for two days, the Deepwater Horizon sank, causing the largest offshore oil spill in American history. The spill flowed unabated for almost three months, dumping hundreds of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic ocean, shutting down the local fishing industry, polluting the fragile ecosystem, and raising serious questions about the safety of continued deep-water offshore drilling. Brown traveled to small towns and major cities across Alabama, Louisiana and Texas to explore the fallout of the environmental disaster. Years later, the Southern Americans still haunted by the Deepwater Horizon explosion provide first-hand accounts of their ongoing experience, long after the story has faded from the front page.
Keep On Keepin’ On
Keep On Keepin’ On 2014
In Keep On Keepin’ On a 23-year-old, blind piano prodigy, Justin Kauflin, who suffers terrible stage fright, finds his way to jazz legend and teacher Clark Terry, 89. Over the course of filming, Terry begins to lose his sight as an unlikely bond begins to take hold. When Justin is invited to compete in an elite international competition, Clark’s health takes a turn for the worse. As clocks tick, we are suddenly witness to two friends tackling the toughest challenges of their interwoven lives.Terry, now 93, was Quincy Jones’ first teacher, and mentor to Miles Davis. He is among the few performers ever to have played in both Count Basie’s and Duke Ellington’s bands. In the ‘60s Terry broke the color barrier as the first African-American staff musician at NBC – on The Tonight Show.
The Overnighters 2014
A modern-day Grapes of Wrath, award-winning documentary The Overnighters is an intimate portrait of job-seekers desperately chasing the broken American Dream to the tiny oil boom town of Williston, North Dakota. With the town lacking the infrastructure to house the overflow of migrants, a local pastor starts the controversial “overnighters” program, allowing down-and-out workers a place to sleep at the church. His well-meaning project immediately runs into resistance with his community, forcing the clergyman to make a decision which leads to profound consequences that he never imagined.
In a tiny Kansas town in 1917, Dr. John Romulus Brinkley discovers he can cure impotent men by transplanting goat testicles into them. After that, Brinkley amasses an enormous fortune; is elected Governor of Kansas; builds the world’s most powerful radio station; invents junk mail, the infomercial, the advertorial, the sound-truck and Border Radio; hosts some epic parties; and annoys the heck out of the establishment as he finds ever more ingenious ways to get around their laws and regulations. Brinkley wins and wins and wins, until he finally loses. His tragic downfall, when it comes, is suitably epic in its dimensions. Using animated reenactments, interviews, archival footage, and a hilariously unreliable narrator, NUTS! The Brinkley Story traces Brinkley’s legendary rise from poverty and obscurity to the heights of celebrity, wealth and influence in Depression-era America.
Obvious Child 2014
For aspiring comedian Donna Stern, everyday life as a female twenty-something provides ample material for her hysterical and relatable brand of humor. On stage, Donna is unapologetically herself, joking about topics as intimate as her sex life and as crude as her day-old underwear. But when Donna winds up unexpectedly pregnant after a one-night stand, she is forced to face the uncomfortable realities of independent womanhood for the first time. Donna’s drunken hookup – and epic lapse in prophylactic judgment – turns out to be the beginning of a hilarious and totally unplanned journey of self-discovery and empowerment. Anchored by a star-making performance from Jenny Slate, OBVIOUS CHILD is a true Sundance gem: a heartfelt discovery packed tight with raw, energetic comedy and moments of poignant honesty and vulnerability. Writer/Director Gillian Robespierre handles the topic of Donna’s unwanted pregnancy with a refreshing matter-of-factness rarely seen onscreen. And with Donna, Slate and Robespierre have crafted a character for the ages – a female that audiences will recognize, cheer for, and love.
Level Five 2014
Chris Marker’s (LA JETEE, SANS SOLEIL) shock-to-the-senses mind-melter concerns a woman (Catherine Belkhodja) haunted by the loss of her lover while working on programming a video game about World War II’s Battle of Okinawa. Melding retro-futuristic sci-fi imagery, references to American film noir, and reflections on traumas in Japanese history into a visually and philosophically provocative puzzle, LEVEL FIVE is a hallucinatory visual essay on memory, tragedy, and early digital culture.
The Viking of 6th Avenue
The Viking of 6th Avenue 2014
The film traces Moondog’s stranger than fiction life and career from his unlikely beginnings in the Midwest, through his thirty years living and working on the streets of New York and international fame as a recording artist whose influence on contemporary music continues to this day. Moondog made a movie with Ornette Coleman, played drums with Marlon Brando, and shared the bill with everyone from Tiny Tim to Kylie Minogue. Featuring a wealth of archive material and using Moondog’s own narration, along with recollections from friends, family and collaborators, the film is a funny and moving celebration of a life lived as a work of art.
Code Black 2014
In his vivid and thought-provoking filmmaking debut, physician Ryan McGarry gives us unprecedented access to America’s busiest Emergency Department. Amidst real life-and-death situations, McGarry follows a dedicated team of charismatic, young doctors-in-training as they wrestle openly with both their ideals and with the realities of saving lives in a complex and overburdened system. Their training ground and source of inspiration is “C-Booth,” Los Angeles County Hospital’s legendary trauma bay, the birthplace of Emergency Medicine, where “more people have died and more people have been saved than in any other square footage in the United States.” CODE BLACK offers a tense, doctor’s-eye view, right into the heart of the healthcare debate – bringing us face to face with America’s only 24/7 safety net.
Miles Ahead 2014
Join Miles Davis as he busts out of his silent period with an unlikely partner in crime, guns blazing, to steal back his music, and conjure his long lost love.
Do I Sound Gay?
Do I Sound Gay? 2014
After a break-up with his boyfriend, journalist David Thorpe embarks on a hilarious and touching journey of self-discovery, confronting his anxiety about “sounding gay.” Enlisting acting coaches, linguists, friends, family, total strangers, and celebrities, he quickly learns that many people — both gay and straight — often wish for a different voice. In Thorpe’s feature-length documentary debut Do I Sound Gay?, what starts as a personal journey becomes a chance to unpack layers of cultural baggage concerning sexuality, identity, and self-esteem.
Big Men 2014
The film’s central story follows a small group of American explorers at Dallas-based oil company Kosmos Energy. Between 2007 and 2011, with unprecedented, independent access, Big Men’s two-person crew filmed inside the oil company as Kosmos and its partners discovered and developed the first commercial oil field in Ghana’s history. Simultaneously the crew filmed in the swamps of Nigeria’s Niger Delta, following the exploits of a militant gang to reveal another side of the economy of oil: people trying to profit in any way possible, because they’ve given up on waiting for the money to trickle down. So what happens when a group of hungry people discover a massive and exquisitely rare pot of gold in one of the poorest places on earth?
If You Build It
If You Build It 2014
From the director of WORDPLAY and I.O.U.S.A. comes a captivating look at a radically innovative approach to education. IF YOU BUILD IT follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller to rural Bertie County, the poorest in North Carolina, where they work with local high school students to help transform both their community and their lives. Living on credit and grant money and fighting a change-resistant school board, Pilloton and Miller lead their students through a year-long, full-scale design and build project that does much more than just teach basic construction skills: it shows ten teenagers the power of design-thinking to re-invent not just their town but their own sense of what’s possible.
The Institute 2013
Welcome to the Jejune Institute, a mind-bending San Francisco phenomenon where 10,000 people became “inducted” without ever quite realizing what they’d signed up for. Was it a cult? Was it an elaborate game? Told from the participants’ perspectives, the film looks over the precipice at an emergent new art form where real world and fictional narratives collide, creating unforeseen and often unsettling consequences. Fusing elements of counter-culture, new religious movements and street art, THE INSTITUTE invites viewers down the rabbit hole into a secret underground world teeming just beneath the surface of everyday life.
Best Kept Secret
Best Kept Secret 2013
JFK High School, located in the midst of a run-down area in Newark, New Jersey, is a public school for all types of students with special education needs, ranging from those on the autism spectrum to those with multiple disabilities. Janet Mino has taught her class of young men with autism for four years. When they all graduate in the spring of 2012, they will leave the security of the public school system forever. Best Kept Secret follows Ms. Mino and her students over the year and a half before graduation. The clock is ticking to find them a place in the adult world – a job or rare placement in a recreational center – so they do not end up where their predecessors have, sitting at home, institutionalized, or on the streets.
Twenty Feet From Stardom
Twenty Feet From Stardom 2013
In his compelling new film TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM, award-winning director Morgan Neville shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. Triumphant and heartbreaking in equal measure, the film is both a tribute to the unsung voices who brought shape and style to popular music and a reflection on the conflicts, sacrifices and rewards of a career spent harmonizing with others.
Call Me Kuchu
Call Me Kuchu 2012
Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax Wright
In Uganda, a new bill threatens to make homosexuality punishable by death. David Kato, Uganda’s first openly gay man, and retired Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo work against the clock to defeat state-sanctioned homophobia while combatting vicious persecution in their daily lives. But no one is prepared for the brutal murder that shakes their movement to its core and sends shock waves around the world.
No Place On Earth
No Place On Earth 2013
The remarkable true story of NO PLACE ON EARTH starts out as a mystery. While exploring some of the longest caves in the world in southwestern Ukraine in the 1990s, American caver Chris Nicola stumbled onto unusual objects…an antique ladies shoe and comb, old buttons, an old world key. Was the vague rumor true, that some Jews had hid in this cave during WWII and if so, had any survived to tell their tale? 67 years later, Chris leads four of the survivors back to Ukraine to say thank you to “the cave.”
Gayatri Roshan and Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee
Elemental tells the story of three individuals united by their deep connection with nature and driven to confront some of the most pressing ecological challenges of our time. Separated by continents yet sharing an unwavering commitment to protecting nature, the characters in this story are complex, flawed, postmodern heroes for whom stemming the tide of environmental destruction fades in and out of view – part mirage, part miracle.
After Tiller 2013
Martha Shane and Lana Wilson
Martha Shane and Lana Wilson’s After Tiller is a deeply humanizing and probing portrait of the only four doctors in the United States still openly performing third-trimester abortions in the wake of the 2009 assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas—and in the face of intense protest from abortion opponents. It is also an examination of the desperate reasons women seek late abortions. Rather than offering solutions, After Tiller presents the complexities of these women’s difficult decisions and the compassion and ethical dilemmas of the doctors and staff who fear for their own lives as they treat their patients.
The Punk Singer
The Punk Singer 2012
Kathleen Hanna, lead singer of the punk band Bikini Kill and dance-punk trio Le Tigre, rose to national attention as the reluctant but never shy voice of the riot grrrl movement. She became one of the most famously outspoken feminist icons, a cultural lightning rod. Her critics wished she would just shut-up, and her fans hoped she never would. So in 2005, when Hanna stopped shouting, many wondered why. Through 20 years of archival footage and intimate interviews with Hanna, THE PUNK SINGER takes viewers on a fascinating tour of contemporary music and offers a never-before-seen view into the life of this fearless leader.
The Central Park Five
The Central Park Five 2012
Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon
In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers were arrested and charged with brutally attacking and raping a white female jogger in Central Park. News media swarmed the case, calling them a “wolfpack.” The five would spend years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit before the truth about what really happened became clear. With THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE, this story of injustice finally gets the attention it deserves. Based on Sarah Burns’ riveting book and co-directed by her husband David McMahon and father, the acclaimed doc filmmaker Ken Burns, this incendiary film tells the riveting tale of innocent young men scapegoated for a heinous crime, and serves as a mirror for our times.
An Honest Liar
An Honest Liar 2014
Tyler Measom, Justin Weinstein
AN HONEST LIAR is a feature documentary about the world-famous magician, escape artist, and world-renowned enemy of deception, James ‘The Amazing’ Randi. The film brings to life Randi’s intricate investigations that publicly exposed psychics, faith healers, and con-artists with quasi-religious fervor. A master deceiver who came out of the closet at the age of 81, Randi created fictional characters, fake psychics, and even turned his partner of 25 years, the artist Jose Alvarez, into a sham guru named Carlos. But when a shocking revelation in Randi’s personal life is discovered, it isn’t clear whether Randi is still the deceiver – or the deceived.
The Flat 2011
At age 98, director Arnon Goldfinger’s grandmother passed away, leaving him the task of clearing out the Tel Aviv flat that she and her husband shared for decades after immigrating from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Sifting through a mountain of photos, letters, files, and objects, Goldfinger undertook the complex process of making sense of the accumulated ephemera of a lifetime. In the process, he began to uncover clues pointing to a complicated and shocking story: a chronicle of the unexpected yet inevitable ethical ambiguities and repressed emotions that arise when everyday friendships suddenly cross enemy lines.
½ Revolution 2011
Karim El Hakim, Omar Shargawi
January 2011—downtown Cairo—a close-knit group of activist friends struggle to stay alive and stick together as waves of protests escalate around them in their neighborhood near Tahrir Square during the first chaotic days of the Egyptian revolution. Armed with cameras and focused determination, directors Omar Shargawi and Karim El Hakim take to the streets to capture historic events out of view of the world’s media. What emerges is an astonishing cry for unity. As the violence and uncertainty build, Karim and his young family’s apartment becomes ground zero. Friends and neighbors flock together, fighting to survive the counterpunches thrown by police and the armed gangs of thugs swarming the streets below their balcony.
Sleepwalk With Me
Sleepwalk With Me 2012
When an aspiring stand-up fails to express his true feelings about his girlfriend and his stalled career, his anxiety comes out in increasingly funny and dangerous sleepwalking incidents.
Red Hook Summer
Red Hook Summer 2012
A middle-class boy from Atlanta finds his worldview changed as he spends the summer with his deeply religious grandfather in the housing projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn.
The Waiting Room
The Waiting Room 2012
The Waiting Room is a character-driven documentary film that uses extraordinary access to go behind the doors of an American public hospital struggling to care for a community of largely uninsured patients. The film – using a blend of cinema verité and characters’ voiceover – offers a raw, intimate, and even uplifting look at how patients, staff and caregivers each cope with disease, bureaucracy and hard choices.
Somewhere Between 2011
Linda Goldstein Knowlton
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN tells the intimate stories of four teenaged girls. They live in different parts of the US, in different kinds of families and are united by one thing: all four were adopted from China because all four had birth parents who could not keep them, due to personal circumstances colliding with China’s “One Child Policy”. These strong young women allow us to grasp what it is like to come-of-age in today’s America as trans-racial adoptees. At the same time, we see them as typical American teenagers doing what teenagers everywhere do…struggling to make sense of their lives. Through these young women, and their explorations of who they are, we ourselves pause to consider who we are – both as individuals and as a nation of immigrants. Identity, racism, and gender…these far-reaching issues are explored in the documentary. And with great honesty and courage, these four girls open their hearts to experience love, compassion, and self-acceptance.
5 Broken Cameras
5 Broken Cameras 2012
The first-ever Palestinian film to be nominated for best Documentary Feature by A.M.P.A.S®, the critically-acclaimed 5 BROKEN CAMERAS is a deeply personal, first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements. Shot by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, Gibreel, the film was co-directed by Burnat and Guy Davidi, an Israeli filmmaker. Structured in chapters around the destruction of each one of Burnat’s cameras, the filmmakers’ collaboration follows one family’s evolution over five years of village upheaval. As the years pass in front of the camera, we witness Gibreel grow from a newborn baby into a young boy who observes the world unfolding around him with the astute powers of perception that only children possess. Burnat watches from behind the lens as olive trees are bulldozed, protests intensify and lives are lost in this cinematic diary and unparalleled record of life in the West Bank.
Cheryl Haworth defies categories. A 12th generation patriotic American, a visual artist, and, since age 14, America’s top Olympic weightlifter, she is an elite at the international level. A formidable figure in American weightlifting. Haworth is ranked well above all men and women on Team USA. But at 5 foot 8 inches and weighing over 300 pounds, she doesn’t easily fit into standard chairs, clothing sizes, or pre-conceptions. As the 2008 Beijing Olympics approach, Haworth struggles with injuries, the end of her career, and the difficult task of re-defining herself and building a sense of confidence that she can bring with her as she leaves the sport that has given her a sense of pride.
Welcome to the Machine
Welcome to the Machine 2012
Avi Zev Weider
Upon fathering triplets, filmmaker Avi Zev Weider explores the nature of technology, revealing that all its discussions are about what it means to be human.
The Sisterhood of Night
The Sisterhood of Night 2012
When a teenage girl says she’s the victim of a secret network called The Sisterhood of Night, a quiet suburban town becomes the backdrop for a modern-day Salem witch trial.
Ethel is a feature length documentary about the remarkable life of Ethel Kennedy, told by those who know Ethel best: her family. Directed by her Emmy-Award winning daughter, Rory Kennedy, the film features candid interviews with Ethel and seven of her children. The film is a personal portrait of Ethel’s political awakening, the life she shared with Robert F. Kennedy, and the years following his death when she raised their eleven children on her own. Intimate, funny, and deeply moving, Ethel offers a rare look inside a political dynasty strengthened by family bonds, a compassion for others, and a wisdom forged from both hardship and triumph.
Crazy Horse 2011
In Crazy Horse, Frederick Wiseman pulls back the curtain on Le Crazy Horse de Paris, a landmark that has prided itself as “the best nude dancing show in the world” since 1951. Le Crazy Horse sets itself apart from the average strip club by adhering to exacting standards in choreography, lights and physiques. The erotic revue is composed of songs and sequences that blend traits of old-fashioned burlesque, Bob Fosse and Cirque du Soleil, designed not only for the enjoyment of men, but also couples.
Being Elmo 2011
Beloved by children of all ages around the world, Elmo is an international icon. Few people know his creator, Kevin Clash, who dreamed of working with his idol, master puppeteer Jim Henson. Displaying his creativity and talent at a young age, Kevin ultimately found a home on Sesame Street. Narrated by Whoopi Goldberg, this documentary includes rare archival footage, interviews with Frank Oz, Rosie O’Donnell, Cheryl Henson, Joan Ganz Cooney and others and offers a behind-the-scenes look at Sesame Street and the Jim Henson Workshop.
Hell and Back Again
Hell and Back Again 2011
From his embed with US Marines Echo Company in Afghanistan, photojournalist and filmmaker Danfung Dennis reveals the devastating impact a Taliban machine-gun bullet has on the life of 25-year-old Sergeant Nathan Harris. The film seamlessly transitions from stunning war reportage to an intimate, visceral portrait of one man’s personal struggle at home in North Carolina, where Harris confronts the physical and emotional difficulties of re-adjusting to civilian life with the love and support of his wife, Ashley. Masterfully contrasting the intensity of the frontline with the unsettling normalcy of home, HELL AND BACK AGAIN lays bare the true cost of war.
My Reincarnation 2011
MY REINCARNATION is an epic father-son drama, spanning two decades and three generations, about spirituality, cultural survival, identity, inheritance, family, growing old, growing up, faith, meditation, religion, magic, dreaming, Buddhism, Dzogchen — and past and future lives. The film follows the renowned reincarnate Tibetan spiritual master, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, as he struggles to save his spiritual tradition, and his Italian born son, Yeshi, who stubbornly refuses to follow in his father’s footsteps…
The SEEDS Academy in Dakar, Senegal, gathers the best young basketball players from across West Africa and puts them through a strenuous program of academics and athletic training. Those who stand out can receive full scholarships to the top prep schools in the United States, where the right combination of skill and dedication will earn them a great education, pave the way to college, and open the door to basketball at the NCAA level… and maybe even a shot at the NBA. ELEVATE follows four young men who make the cut and head off to the USA. Filmed over four years and across two continents, ELEVATE documents the daunting challenges they face, from the alienation that comes with being a seven foot tall Muslim at a Christian prep school (in an American culture rife with African stereotypes) to mastering English, adapting to aggressive American-style basketball… and navigating the vagaries of high school, girls, and drivers ed.
Crime After Crime
Crime After Crime 2011
Crime After Crime tells the dramatic story of the legal battle to free Debbie Peagler, an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence. She was wrongly convicted of the murder of her abusive boyfriend, and sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Her story takes an unexpected turn two decades later when two rookie land-use attorneys step forward to take her case. Through their perseverance, they bring to light long-lost witnesses, new testimonies from the men who committed the murder, and proof of perjured evidence. Their investigation ultimately attracts global attention to victims of wrongful incarceration and abuse, and becomes a matter of life and death once more.
Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness
Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness 2011
A riveting portrait of the great writer whose stories became the basis of the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof. Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness tells the tale of the rebellious genius who created an entirely new literature. Plumbing the depths of a Jewish world locked in crisis and on the cusp of profound change, he captured that world with brilliant humor. Sholem Aleichem was not just a witness to the creation of a new modern Jewish identity, but one of the very men who shaped it.
Louder Than a Bomb
Louder Than a Bomb 2011
Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel
Hailed as “one of the most inspiring and exhilarating documentaries in years” (Steve Pond, The Wrap), Louder Than a Bomb tells the story of four Chicago high school poetry teams as they prepare for and compete in the world’s largest youth slam. By turns hopeful and heartbreaking, the film captures the turbulent lives of these unforgettable kids, exploring the ways writing shapes their world, and vice versa. Louder Than a Bomb is not about “high school poetry” as we often think of it. It’s about language as a joyful release, irrepressibly talented teenagers obsessed with making words dance. While the topics they tackle are often deeply personal, what they put into their poems-and what they get out of them-is universal: the defining work of finding one’s voice.
Blank City 2011
BLANK CITY tells the long-overdue tale of a disparate crew of renegade filmmakers who emerged from an economically bankrupt and dangerous moment in New York history. From the late 1970’s through the mid 80’s, when the city was still a wasteland of cheap rent and cheap drugs, these directors crafted daring works that would go on to profoundly influence the development of independent film as we know it today.
Zero Bridge 2011
Zero Bridge is the story of Dilawar, a rebellious seventeen-year-old Kashmiri boy who lives Kashmir with his uncle Ali. To help make ends meet, Dilawar recently abandoned school to apprentice in his uncle’s mason crew, but he hates his current life and secretly plans to leave his uncle to join his adoptive mother in Delhi. To do so, he supplements his income by participating in some shady activities: taking money to do math assignments from his old school classmates, and by picking pockets in the city’s markets. While on an errand, Dilawar meets Bani, who he recognizes as one of his recent pickpocket victims. Over the course of many visits to her office, Dilawar warms up to Bani and their friendship gently grows, but the consequences of his illegal activities eventually cause havoc in their lives, threatening their friendship and both of their futures.
Fambul Tok 2011
Victims and perpetrators of Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war come together for the first time in an unprecedented program of tradition-based truth-telling and forgiveness ceremonies. Through reviving their ancient practice offambul tok (family talk), Sierra Leoneans are building sustainable peace at the grass-roots level – succeeding where the international community’s post-conflict efforts failed. Filled with lessons for the West, this film explores the depths of a culture that believes that true justice lies in redemption and healing for individuals – and that forgiveness is the surest path to restoring dignity and building strong communities.
Waste Land 2010
Filmed over nearly three years, WASTE LAND follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores”—self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage. However, his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the catadores as they begin to re-imagine their lives. Director Lucy Walker (DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND, BLINDSIGHT and COUNTDOWN TO ZERO) and co-directors João Jardim and Karen Harley have great access to the entire process and, in the end, offer stirring evidence of the transformative power of art and the alchemy of the human spirit.
Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
James Franco stars as the young Allen Ginsberg—poet, counter-culture adventurer, and chronicler of the Beat Generation. In his famously confessional, leave-nothing-out style, Ginsberg recounts the road trips, love affairs, and search for personal liberation that led to the most timeless and electrifying work of his career: the poem HOWL. Meanwhile, in a San Francisco courtroom, HOWL is on trial. Prosecutor Ralph McIntosh (David Strathairn) sets out to prove that the book should be banned, while suave defense attorney Jake Ehrlich (Jon Hamm) argues fervently for freedom of speech and creative expression. The proceedings veer from the comically absurd to the passionate as a host of unusual witnesses (Jeff Daniels, Mary-Louise Parker, Treat Williams, Alessandro Nivola) pit generation against generation and art against fear in front of conservative Judge Clayton Horn (Bob Balaban). HOWL is simultaneously a portrait of a renegade artist breaking down barriers to find love and redemption, and an imaginative ride through a prophetic masterpiece that rocked a generation and was heard around the world.
A Film Unfinished
A Film Unfinished 2010
At the end of WWII, 60 minutes of raw film, having sat undisturbed in an East German archive, was discovered. Shot by the Nazis in Warsaw in May 1942, and labeled simply “Ghetto,” this footage quickly became a resource for historians seeking an authentic record of the Warsaw Ghetto. However, the later discovery of a long-missing reel, inclusive of multiple takes and cameraman staging scenes, complicated earlier readings of the footage. A FILM UNFINISHED presents the raw footage in its entirety, carefully noting fictionalized sequences (including a staged dinner party) falsely showing “the good life” enjoyed by Jewish urbanites, and probes deep into the making of a now-infamous Nazi propaganda film. A FILM UNFINISHED is a film of enormous import, documenting some of the worst horrors of our time and exposing the efforts of its perpetrators to propel their agenda and cast it in a favorable light.
Boxing Gym 2010
BOXING GYM explores the world of a boxing gym in Austin, Texas, dwelling on the discipline of training as people from all walks of life aspire to reach their personal best.
Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child
Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child 2010
Centered on a rare interview that director and friend Tamra Davis shot with Basquiat over twenty years ago, this definitive documentary chronicles the meteoric rise and fall of the young artist. In the crime-ridden NYC of the 1970s, he covers the city with the graffiti tag SAMO. In 1981 he puts paint on canvas for the first time, and by 1983 he is an artist with “rock star status.” He achieves critical and commercial success, though he is constantly confronted by racism from his peers. In 1985 he and Andy Warhol become close friends and painting collaborators, but they part ways and Warhol dies suddenly in 1987. Basquiat’s heroin addiction worsens, and he dies of an overdose in 1988 at the age of 27. The artist was 25 years old at the height of his career, and today his canvases sell for more than a million dollars. With compassion and psychological insight, Tamra Davis details the mysteries that surround this charismatic young man, an artist of enormous talent whose fortunes mirrored the rollercoaster quality of the downtown scene he seemed to embody.
The Kids Grow Up
Four Seasons Lodge
Four Seasons Lodge 2009
Haunted by the past but driven by an unquenchable passion for living, an aging group of Holocaust survivors gathers each summer at an idyllic hideaway in the Catskills, where they savor tightly bonded friendships, find new love and celebrate their survival. Directed by New York Times journalist Andrew Jacobs, with the legendary Albert Maysles (Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens) contributing cinematography, Four Seasons Lodge is an inspiring and surprisingly funny documentary that captures what may be the final season for a remarkable tribe of survivors who have found that dancing, laughter and late-night revelry may be the best revenge.
William S. Burroughs: A Man Within
William S. Burroughs: A Man Within 2009
William S. Burroughs: featuring never before seen footage as well as exclusive interviews with his closest friends and colleagues. Born the heir of the Burroughs’ adding machine estate, he struggled throughout his life with addiction, control systems, and self. He was forced to deal with the tragedy of killing his wife and the repercussions of neglecting his son. His novel, Naked Lunch, was one of the last books to be banned by the U.S. government. Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer testified on behalf of the book. The courts eventually overturned their decision in 1966, ruling that the book had an important social value. It remains one of the most recognized literary works of the 20th century. William Burroughs was one of the first to cross the dangerous boundaries of queer and drug culture in the 1950s, and write about his experiences. Eventually he was hailed the godfather of the beat generation and influenced artists for generations to come. However, his friends were left wondering, did William ever find happiness? This extremely personal documentary breaks the surface of the troubled and brilliant world of one of the greatest authors of all time. “William S. Burroughs: A Man Within” is the first and only posthumous documentary about this legendary figure.
Women Without Men
Women Without Men 2009
In Women Without Men, renowned visual artist Shirin Neshat offers an exquisitely crafted view of women rights today in Iran as compared to Iran in 1953, when a British- and American-backed coup removed the democratically elected government. The movie was adapted from the novel by Iranian author Shahrnush Parsipur and it weaves together the stories of four individual women during those traumatic days as their experiences are shaped by faith and social structures.
Off and Running
Off and Running 2009
With white Jewish lesbians for parents and two adopted brothers — one mixed-race and one Korean—Brooklyn teen Avery grew up in a unique and loving household. But when her curiosity about her African-American roots grows, she decides to contact her birth mother. This choice propels Avery into her own complicated exploration of race, identity, and family that threatens to distance her from the parents she’s always known. She begins staying away from home, starts skipping school, and risks losing her shot at the college track career she had always dreamed of. But when Avery decides to pick up the pieces of her life and make sense of her identity, the results are inspiring. OFF AND RUNNING follows Avery to the brink of adulthood, exploring the strength of family bonds and the lengths people must go to become themselves.
La Danse 2009
The film follows the production of seven ballets by the Paris Opera Ballet.
Where Is Rocky II?
Where Is Rocky II? 2015
Many believe that acclaimed contemporary artist Ed Ruscha produced an artwork in 1979 called ROCKY II that almost no one has seen. Now almost 40 years later, Academy Award Winner, visual artist and Filmmaker Pierre Bismuth has set out to find this mysterious hidden artwork. With the help of a veteran private detective, two talented screenwriters and thought leaders in the contemporary art community, this unprecedented investigation 40 years in the making will come to life in Pierre Bismuth’s film: WHERE IS ROCKY II?