Thursday, September 29, 2016

Battle of Algiers (1966) New York Film Festival 2016

The New York Film festival is screening a new restoration of the film- however thats not the best reason to see it- the best reason to see it is it is a great film. The film ran last year as part of the 2015 New York Jewish Festival and I reviewed the film then. Here is my review

Banned off and on since it's release by a variety of governments The Battle of Algiers is one of the great treasures of cinema that you'll end up watching over and over again simply because its a great thriller. That the New York Jewish Film Festival is running it as part of their War Against War sidebar is a treat since it's a chance to see the film on the big screen the way it should be seen.

The film is the story of the Algerian uprising in the late 1950's that eventually led to the countries freedom from France. the focuses on a group of freedom fighters over the course of several years.

I don't know how much I should say abut the film. I don't know how much needs to be said. For me the film is just a great thriller/war film.The fact that the film pissed off the French and is feared by some people in various governments who see it as a blueprint for revolution only adds to the films mystique.

Actually I think the key point about the film is that it really is a good film. Its a film that once you see it, once you get past all of the pretentious bullshit about the film being a classic... being one of the greatest films of all time... basically once you kick the pedestal out from under it you realize that its a good film. Its actually one of the few films on the supposed all time great films that I'd just put it on for the hell of it. I watch it because I want to munch popcorn while watching a ripping good yarn not because I want a "great" film.

If you've never seen it go see it

If you've only seen it on the small screen go see it big

If you've seen it big go see it again

This film kicks butt

2307 Winter's Dream (2016) LA Indie Festival

Three hundred years in the future when the world had been frozen solid after a meteor strike man has retreated under the snow and the ice. With not enough people left the scientists have manufactured humanoid workers,mules because they are biological creatures unable to reproduce, to do the heavy lifting. However one named Ash cut a baby out of a woman's belly and ran off to start a rebellion. Five years later, Commander Bishop, father of the baby, is pulled out of his drug addled haze and asked to lead Spartan Seven team to track down the rogue Ash. Of course nothing is as it seems.

This is a kind a of pulp science novel of a film. Like the thousands of cheap novels turned out by genre publishers 2037 is a film that borrows all sorts of plot elements from all sorts of sources (BLADE RUNNER to begin with) to make an enjoyable hybrid that is entertaining. I mention  pulp novels because  I could run a long list of other science fiction films that 2307 borrows from, I'm mentioning it up front because that's going to be the first thing you notice. Frankly the film has so many references in plots and visual echoes, that any science fiction fan is going to find it somewhat distracting, at least for a while. Its a kind of scifi's greatest hits and it's hard not to tick off the references in your head. However once you get about 20 minutes in and the cast ends up on the ice you get caught up in the action and the story as the film skates along at a fast enough clip that you stop counting the references and just ride to the end.

And once the film is in motion 2307 is a solid little science fiction action film. Yea the film is riffing on other films, but at the same time its carving out a niche for it self because it becomes compelling and entertaining. You really do want to know where it's all leading to. Hat I like about the film is that while I could guess where some of it was going there were a number of twists I didn't expect which made it a nice surprise.

Best of all as the film went on I forgave the films early short comings. The low budget worked to the films advantage since the world outside is so low tech it makes sense.  Even the uneven acting of a couple of actors stopped mattering as the performances became character traits.  In the end the only thing that I couldn't forgive is the overly emotive reading of the narration which tries way too hard.

The best thing about this film is I actually want to see it again, I've also actually shot off a couple of emails to friends to keep an eye out for it.

As I've said the film isn't perfect, but its like one of those pulp novels, it tells a good story, transports you to another world and keeps you turning the pages until the end. The best thing about it is it will entertain you make you feel like you haven't wasted your time watching it. Tagging along as Bishop and his team chase Ash across the ice is most definitely a trip worth taking.

2307 WINTER'S DREAM premiered at the LA Indie Festival on September 16th where it won the Best Direction Award

It will next screen at the Buffalo International Film Festival on Saturday October 8 at 10:15 pm and at the Orlando Film Festival on Friday, October 21 at 9:30pm. 


I expect it to have a long life after that.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Battlefield at BAM Next Wave 2016

BAM presents Peter Brook's reduction of his epic 9 hour MAHABHARATA which played BAM several decades ago and was subsequently filmed and turned into two films, a full length one and shorter three hour version.

Battlefield is a revised 70 minute segment focusing on what happened after the massive war that killed millions. As the dead are collected the new king wanders the battlefield looking for solace and guidance.

To say that the first half of the play is one of the most moving things I've ever seen is a gross understatement. The simple explanation of the cost of war kicked me to the curb and back with it's eloquence. Equally moving is the shows discussion of grief and guilt on the part of the survivors and especially those who called for the war. It is as timeless a piece of writing and theater as anything I've ever experienced.

The problem for me is that in the final third the play loses it's focus. What was a wonderful rethinking of the epic play spins out as we jump through time as we see what happens to characters and we get the appearance of Gods and beings that were fine in the full epic, but here distance the play from today. We were not brought into a world of gods at the start and their sudden appearance weakens the universality of the first part of the piece. Worse it drones on too long to the point I had to stifle laughter when the river goddess appeared with a shriek that caused a large number of the sleeping blue hairs in the audiences to suddenly wake up.

I really liked it, but I wanted to love it.

If nothing else it has me searching for the DVDs of the full show.

Battlefield plays through October 8. For tickets and more information go here.

In Brief: Milton's Secret (2016)

MILTON'S SECRET is a nice little film about a boy who is being bullied at school and ignored by his parents. Things change when his grandfather comes to stay with them for a while as grandson and grandfather help each other to be better people.

Well made and well acted film is a nice time passer. I'm sure that some  people will find something in the various messages about how to live and against bullying, and they are fine, even if they are the same sort of thing that has appeared in any number of similar films.

What makes the film stand out is Donald Sutherland's performance as Milton's grandfather.An off center guy who is still reeling from the loss of his wife five years earlier Sutherland creates a character that manages to be rounded enough that he doesn't seem as though he was picked up at the used character store. While Sutherland has been known to walk through some recent performances, here he seems to care with the result is he makes the film something worth seeing.

While this is probably not a film you need to see at the multiplex, unless you are a fan of the book it comes from, MILTON'S SECRET is a going to be a good choice to see on VOD on a night when you can't stomach the thought of the latest big budget Hollywood film.

MILTON'S SECRET hits select theaters and VOD Friday

Milwaukee Shorts: Gift of Gab

A short film about Timothy "Gift of Gab" Parker a rapper who returned to the studio when his kidney's failed and he found the time and desire to write again.

Short biography that needs to be turned into a feature film. Parker is a fantastic subject who is speaks wonderful words of wisdom. Watching the films six minutes whiz by one can't help but think how much more there is to find out about Parker.  I knew nothing of Parker or his music, but I'm intrigued enough to want to know more

The highest praise I can give this film is that I sincerely hope that the film not only get seen by everyone but also leads to a feature film.

In Brief: FLOCK OF DUDES (2016)

I hate to say this FLOCK OF DUDES is charming as all hell and a complete and utter surprise of the best kind. I wanted so much to hate the film so I could turn it off and then move on to something else but instead I fell under its spell and was carried along straight on to the end...and then was tempted to give it another go right away (that last part is a rave).

The plot of the film has 30 something man boy Adam getting into deep crap with his girl friend when what is supposed to be a quick drink with his buddies ends up a bar crawl on barcycle that ends with him showing up trashed at the restaurant where he is supposed to meet his girlfriends parents. He is dumped and he decides that its time for the gang to break up and for everyone to become adults.

And you know where this is going... because there is nothing new here and you won't care because the film is so damn charming you can't help but smile...and stay with it despite wanting to go off and watch something else/

Surprisingly well written with a cast of well known and not so well know faces FLOCK OF DUDES doesn't do anything new, but it does it so well you really don't care. This is the sort of a movie that you watch once, like, then catch again on TV and watch again...and again and again. The guys and gals in the films become like family and suddenly you have a new favorite film.

I have to say that the reason the film works is that the script and the cast (Chris D’Elia, Bryan Greenberg, Eric Andre, Brett Gelman, Jeff Ross, Melissa Rauch, Marc Maron, Jamie Chung, Hannibal Buress, Kumail Nanjiani, Hannah Simone, Skylar Astin, Hilary Duff, and others) make all of the characters the sort of people we'd hang out with. Sure they can be jerks at times, but basically they are good people who we like.

High art? Hell no. Entertaining, absolutely.

Recommended.

Opens September 30th in Los Angeles at Laemmle Noho 7
Opens October 7th in New York at City Cinemas Village East
Available on iTunes September 30th

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Our quote appears in the trailer for the awesome DESERT CATHEDRAL

Inde Memphis has announced it's full slate of films (November 1-7)

This is the press release I just received for the full slat if Inde Memphis. Its a kick ass slate and another one that has me considering making a trip- realistically I can't but I'm considering it.

A quick note I've removed all of the short film titles from this release. As you know I have nothing against shorts, rather it was a huge list of just titles and  there is no way to know what the films are.(I would not have cut them if there was descriptions). If you want more details please go to the festival website at  www.indiememphis.com

I will have a curtain raiser with links to all the films we covered closer to time. 

Prichard Smith’s THE INVADERS is the Opening Night selection, and Stephen John Ross’s KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE is the Closing Night title

World Premieres include Mike McCarthy’s DESTROY MEMPHIS, Kathy Lofton’s I AM A CAREGIVER, Madsen Minax’s KAIROS DIRT & THE ERRANT VACUUM,  Flo Gibb’s MENTALITY: GIRLS LIKE US, and Lakethen Mason’s VERGE, with Jennifer Anderson and Vernon Lott’s THE ACT OF BECOMING making its U.S. Premiere

Festival favorites include Sophia Takal’s ALWAYS SHINE, Kirsten Johnson’s CAMERAPERSON, Kelly Reichardt’s CERTAIN WOMEN, Zach Clark’s LITTLE SISTER, KENNETH Lonergan’s  MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, Jim Jarmusch’s PATERSON, and Keith Maitland’s TOWER

Memphis, TN (September 26, 2016) – The Indie Memphis Film Festival presented by Duncan-Williams, Inc., (November 1-7) has announced its full slate of films for the 19th edition of the annual festival this year. Prichard Smith’s documentary THE INVADERS, executive produced by Craig Brewer opens the festival, while Stephen John Ross’s documentary KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE bookends an impressive slate of 185 films (51 features, 93 shorts and 41 music videos), including 5 world premieres and 1 U.S. Premiere.

According to Indie Memphis executive director Ryan Watt, “This year’s lineup of films offers about as much variety and scope as one could hope for in a single film program. Festival programmer Brandon Harris has been fortunate to secure many of our favorite films we have seen throughout the year as well as discoveries for our feature's competition. Shorts programmer Brighid Wheeler has curated an excellent program of narrative, documentary, experimental, animation and music videos. Those films, along with our previously announced classic films, and the best work from our talented local filmmakers look to make this event a real treat for all of the film fans that attend Indie Memphis this year.”

Prichard Smith uncovers the history and significance of the often-overlooked group that radicalized generations of civil rights activists in his documentary THE INVADERS, detailing their surprising behind- the-scenes involvement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the pivotal days leading up to his assassination. This special event features appearances by the original members of The Invaders and executive producer Craig Brewer for two festival screenings of a film that could not be timelier considering current events in the country. Stephen John Ross’s KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE will close out the film festival in style. The title translated as “I Lived for Art” details the famed Memphis opera singer’s struggles and comeback. In a special treat for the Indie Memphis audience, Esperian will perform with Gary Beard following the screening of the film.

The Narrative and Documentary Spotlight sections read like a “must-see” list of 2016 film festival cinema. On the narrative side, titles include Sophia Takal’s drama, ALWAYS SHINE, about a personality struggle to the breaking point between two actress friends in Big Sur; Kelly Reichardt’s latest, CERTAIN WOMEN, about three strong-willed women (Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Michelle Williams) striving to forge their own paths amidst the wide-open plains of the American Northwest; Zach Clark’s LITTLE SISTER, about a Goth-loving nun coming home to visit her brother who has shut off after returning from the Iraq war with disfiguring burns; Kenneth Lonergan’s MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, about a man (Casey Affleck) still recovering from a personal tragedy and forced to care for his young nephew; and Jim Jarmusch’s PATERSON, about a New Jersey bus driver (Adam Driver) with a gift for poetry.

Documentary Spotlight features include Kirsten Johnson’s sublime CAMERAPERSON, which investigates what it means to film and be filmed; Rita Coburn Whack and Bob Hercules’s MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE, about Angelou’s life and how she helped shape our own worldview through her autobiographical literature and activism; David Farrier and Dylan Reeve’s TICKLED, about Farrier’s investigation into the bizarre world of “competitive endurance tickling”; and Keith Maitland’s TOWER, about the 1966 sniper shooting at the University of Texas.

Indie Memphis’s Hometowner Competition features five films making world premieres, including Mike McCarthy’s DESTROY MEMPHIS, the story of the grassroots organization “Save Libertyland” that gathered in a Midtown Memphis dining room in 2005 to fight then-Mayor Willie Herenton’s efforts to close the amusement park due to an operating deficit; Kathy Lofton’s I AM A CAREGIVER, which looks at the day-to-day challenges faced by family caregivers; Madsen Minax’s KAIROS DIRT & THE ERRANT VACUUM, about a gay middle school lunch woman and a gender ambiguous student who have an unclear intergenerational relationship; Flo Gibbs’s MENTALITY: GIRLS LIKE US, which follows the stories of three lesbian students and one transgender student; and Lakethen Mason’s VERGE, which focuses on the young careers of seven indie artists pursuing their dreams in Memphis.

Making its U.S. premiere will be Jennifer Anderson and Vernon Lott’s THE ACT OF BECOMING, which looks at the surprising success of John Williams’s 1965 novel Stoner that sold fewer than 2,000 copies and was quickly out-of-print before becoming a worldwide bestseller.

Films selected for the Narrative Competition, include Musa Syeed’s A STRAY, Joshua H. Miller and Miles B. Miller’s ALL THE BIRDS HAVE FLOWN SOUTH, Xander Robin’s ARE WE NOT CATS, Deb Shoval’s AWOL, Tim Sutton’s DARK NIGHT, and Ryon Baxter’s GREEN/IS/GOLD.

Documentary Competition selections include Jennifer Anderson and Vernon Lott’s THE ACT OF BECOMING, Billy Woodberry’s AND WHEN I DIE, I WON’T STAY DEAD, Kathlyn Horan’s THE IF PROJECT, Maisie Crow’s JACKSON, Cecilia Aldarondo’s MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART, and David Shapiro’s MISSING PEOPLE.

Venues span from primary sites in Midtown and Downtown Memphis to new satellite venues in East Memphis and Collierville. With the support of Marquee Sponsors Amazon Studios, AutoZone, and Malco Theatres, Indie Memphis will once again present its unique and diverse slate of programming throughout the weeklong format that was successful last year, contributing to the largest film attendance in the history of the festival.

Passes are now on sale and information on the film festival can be found at IndieMemphis.com.


The 2016 Indie Memphis Film Festival official selections include:

OPENING NIGHT SELECTION
THE INVADERS Regional Premiere
Director: Prichard Smith
Country: USA, Running Time: 76min
Inspired by militant black leaders like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, a new, radicalized generation of civil rights activists made up of young college students, Vietnam vets, musicians, and intellectuals emerged in Memphis in 1967. The Invaders espoused Black Power and, when pushed, did not limit themselves to non-violence. Prichard Smith uncovers the history and significance of the often- overlooked group, detailing their surprising behind-the-scenes involvement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the pivotal days leading up to his assassination.

CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION
KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE
Director: Steven John Ross
Country: USA, Running Time: 64min
KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE profiles the famed Memphis soprano, chronicling her struggles and successes as she worked to reignite her career following a dark and difficult period in her life and career. Overcoming a divorce, depression, extreme weight fluctuations, physical injury and even, brain surgery were among the challenges that stood before Esperian as she made her way back.


NARRATIVE SPOTLIGHT

ALWAYS SHINE Regional Premiere
Director: Sophia Takal
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
Two women (Caitlin FitzGerald and Mackenzie Smith), both actresses with differing degrees of success, travel north from Los Angeles to Big Sur for a weekend vacation in ALWAYS SHINE, Sophia Takal’s terse psycho drama. Reconnecting in the wake of years of competition has driven them apart, upon arrival to their isolated, forest retreat, the pair discovers that their friendship has devolved into belittlements both real and imagined, a deep mutual revulsion that threatens to slide into mania as identities become fluid and hard to discern. An Oscilloscope Laboratories release.



CERTAIN WOMEN
Director: Kelly Reichardt
Country: USA, Running Time: 107min
Director Kelly Reichardt introduces us to a bevy of remarkable characters in her newest effort, a triptych of dovetailing stories: a lawyer (Laura Dern), who finds herself juggling office mansplaining and a hostage crisis; a young married woman (Michelle Williams), whose desire to build a home puts her in conflict with the men in her world; and a law student (Kristin Stewart), who begins an ambiguous emotional bond with a lonely young rancher (Lily Gladstone). An IFC Films Release.

DONALD CRIED
Director: Khristopher Avedisian
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
Peter Latang left his working class Rhode Island town to reinvent himself as a slick, Wall Street character. Fifteen years later, when he's forced to return home to bury his Grandmother, he loses his wallet on the trip. Stuck, the only person who comes to his aid is his next door neighbor and former childhood friend, Donald Treebeck, played with aplomb by director Avedisian. What begins as a small favor turns into a long, dark ride into their shared past. Released by The Orchard.

LITTLE MEN
Director: Ira Sachs
Country: USA, Running Time: 90min
LITTLE MEN explores the deepening friendship between two artistic boys whose families enter into a heated and escalating battle over the rent of their shared brownstone in a quickly gentrifying Brooklyn. Jake (Theo Taplitz) is the son of Brian (Greg Kinnear) and Kathy (Jennifer Ehle), who move into the upstairs of a brownstone they inherit; Tony (Michael Barbieri) is the son of immigrant seamstress Leonor (Paulina García), who’s been renting the store on the ground floor for several years. When a battle over rent sharpens, the boys—rather than splitting along lines of family loyalty—give the adults the silent treatment and continue to forge their own bond. A Magnolia Pictures release.

LITTLE SISTER Tennessee Premiere
Director: Zack Clark
Country: USA, Running Time: 91min
In Zach Clark’s fifth feature Colleen (Addison Timlin) is a young nun in Brooklyn who returns to her North Carolina hometown in the wake of her brother’s return from the ongoing Iraq War. Reconnecting with her Goth past and struggling to be of much help to her zany, war scarred family, the film is marked by wonderful performances from Timlin, Ally Sheedy as her mother and Keith Paulson as her disfigured brother. Set in October 2008, just on the brink of President Obama’s inauguration, LITTLE SISTER is a sad comedy about a recovering family in a recovering country that is marked by Clark’s characteristic brand of heightened, distorted realism. A Forager Films release.

Preceded by:
DOGSBODY
Director: Josh Crockett
Country: USA, Running Time: 7:16min
The job hunt takes a strange turn for Renée when she visits the home of a wealthy potential employer.




THE LOVE WITCH Tennessee Premiere
Director: Anna Billar
Country: USA, Running Time: 120min
A modern-day witch uses spells and magic to get men to fall in love with her, in a tribute to 1960s pulp novels and Technicolor melodramas. Elaine, a beautiful young witch, is determined to find a man to love her. In her gothic Victorian apartment, she makes spells and potions, and then picks up men and seduces them. However, her spells work too well, and she ends up with a string of hapless victims. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, her desperation to be loved drives her to the brink of insanity and murder. An Oscilloscope Laboratories release.

MANCHESTER BY THE SEA Tennessee Premiere
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Country: USA, Running Time: 135min
Kenneth Lonergan’s nuanced and involving third feature MANCHESTER BY THE SEA probes into the life of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a haunted, nearly mute janitor who following his more stable older brother’s sudden death must confront a terrible corner of his past in their small New England hometown. An Amazon Studios Release.

PATERSON
Director: Jim Jarmusch
Country: USA, Running Time: 115min
Long standing indie stalwart Jarmusch’s PATERSON is a drolly humorous drama about a week in the life of a New Jersey bus driver, played by Adam Driver, who is also a very serious poet working toward his first book, a quietly committed husband, and a technological philistine. He writes all of his poems longhand, in a small notebook, in the context that so many of the great poets have forged their art: while working at a day job. An Amazon Studios Release.


DOCUMENTARY SPOTLIGHT

CAMERAPERSON
Director: Kirsten Johnson
Country: USA, Running Time: 103min
A boxing match at Barclays Center; Bosnia and Herzegovina in its post war malaise; the daily comings and goings of a Nigerian midwife; the meanderings of a family member with ravaged with Alzheimer's: these scenes and others are woven into CAMERAPERSON, a tapestry of footage captured over the twenty-five-year career of documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. Through a series of episodic juxtapositions, Johnson explores the relationships between image makers and their subjects, the tension between the objectivity and intervention of the camera, and the complex interaction of unfiltered reality and crafted narrative. A Janus Films Release.

CHICKEN PEOPLE
Director: Nicole Lucas Haimes
Country: USA, Running Time: 83min
CHICKEN PEOPLE follows the trials and tribulations of those who breed exotic birds in the world of competitive poultry. In the tradition of Spellbound comes a feature documentary about three remarkably rich and diverse personalities who come together to compete in their shared passion to raise the perfect chicken. The film will follow the struggles and triumphs of these characters, along with a wide array of competitors-both human and chicken-from the Ohio National Poultry Show, considered the Westminster of Chickens, to the Dixie Classic in Tennessee. A Samuel Goldwyn Pictures release.

Preceded by
PICKLE
Director: Amy Nicholson
Country: USA, Running Time: 16min
A couple recounts the various animals they have adopted as pets over the course of their marriage, including a paraplegic possum and a fish that couldn’t swim. PICKLE explores the human capacity to care for all creatures throughout their sometimes greatly protracted lives until their occasionally sudden and unfortunate deaths. An Oscilloscope Laboratories Release.

I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO Regional Premiere
Director: Raoul Peck
Country: USA, Running Time: 96min
In 1979, James Baldwin wrote his literary agent describing what turned out to be his last unrealized book, Remember This House. The book would be an account of the lives and murders of three of his friends — Martin Luther King Jr., Medgar Evers and Malcolm X. Baldwin only produced 30 pages before dying in 1987. Haitian director Raoul Peck reclaims James Baldwin’s quest, using Baldwin’s own words from the existing manuscript to engage with the deeper connections between the lives and assassinations of these three men and America’s irrational relationship with race. A Magnolia Pictures Release

MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE
Directors: Rita Coburn Whack, Bob Hercules
Country: USA, Running Time: 114min
In MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE, entertainers, politicians, journalists, and editors speak to the legacy of Dr. Angelou as an author and thinker, teacher and friend, mentor and activist. Mixing archival footage and interviews with a star studded cast including Bill & Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Guy Johnson, the film explores Angelou’s childhood in Stamps, Alabama, her varied literary accomplishments. Meditating on her relationships with slain civil rights leaders such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King as well as her importance to the feminist movement, MAYA ANGELOU: AND STILL I RISE is a stirring portrait of an essential American artist. An American Masters PBS release.

MIDSUMMER IN NEWTON Regional Premiere
Director: Lloyd Kramer
Country: USA, Running Time: 81min
After the Sandy Hook tragedy, a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream comes to Newtown, Connecticut in hopes of providing some solace to the community following the school shooting. In auditions and read-throughs and dress rehearsals, Kramer glimpses the children finding catharsis through performance, while also visiting a family who has used their grief to record a jazz album in their dead daughter’s honor. A meditation on the healing force of artistry in the face of unspeakable trauma, MIDSUMMER IN NEWTON looks at the aftermath of the tragedy visited upon this community in a hopeful, previously unforeseen light.

TICKLED
Directors: David Farrier, Dylan Reeve
Country: USA, Running Time: 92min
Young men are paid to be tied up and tickled in “competitive endurance tickling” online events. After seeing a video of this oddball phenomena, reporter David Farrier tries to write a story about the company and discovers, after significant harassment, uncovers a vast empire of hidden Los Angeles tickling facilities. In this increasingly strange tale, the ominous threats begin to pile up as Farrier and co-director Dylan Reeve discover the dark rabbit hole of interlocking, increasingly sinister tickling organizations. A Magnolia Pictures release.

TOWER
Director: Keith Maitland
Country: USA, Running Time: 96min
On August 1st, 1966, a sniper climbed to the top floor of the University of Texas at Austin’s Tower and began firing, holding the entire area hostage for 96 terse minutes in what was, at the time, a completely unprecedented event. TOWER uses rotoscopic animation to recreate the events of the horrific day, based on haunting first person testimonies from those who lived through it in a gripping and aesthetically masterful evocation of the confusion and terror that descended on the Texas capital that fateful day. A Kino Lorber Release


NARRATIVE COMPETITION

ALL THE BIRDS HAVE FLOWN SOUTH Tennessee Premiere
Directors: Joshua H. Miller, Miles B. Miller
Country: USA, Running Time: 98min
In this subtly off-kilter and eventually terrifying thriller, Stephen (Paul Sparks) spends the fortnight after his mother’s death obsessively collecting dolls, taking care of his pet bird, insinuating himself into the life of a chain-smoking, down-on-her-luck waitress (Joey Lauren Adams) and her abusive, bed-ridden husband.

ARE WE NOT CATS Tennessee Premiere
Director: Xander Robin
Country: USA, Running Time: 77min
New Yorker Eli (Michael Patrick Nicholson) loses his girlfriend, home, and job in less than 24 hours. After landing a job transporting car parts upstate to make some quick cash, he meets Anya (Chelsea Lopez), a young woman who shares his fetish for eating hair. In this gorgeously lensed oddball debut of Xander Robin, expanded from his celebrated short film, a slow building, nerve-racking body horror plot is rapped in the concerns of indie rom coms, with potentially grotesque situations giving way to oddly heartwarming moments of mutual appreciation among these two subterranean New York outliers.

Preceded by:
THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG
Director: Ursula Ellis
Country: USA, Running Time: 10:06min
In this expressionistic coming-of-age film, two self-alienated teenage girls with a Wikipedia-based understanding of punk rock music attend their first live show with some unexpected and potentially long-lasting consequences.

A STRAY Regional Premiere
Director: Musa Syeed
Country: USA, Running Time: 82min
Accused of stealing and kicked out of his home by his mother, Adan (Barkhad Abdirahman), a young Somali refugee in Minneapolis, goes to his Mosque to find an answer. He prays for a good friend to be there for him and soon he finds his companion in a stray dog he hits with his car. Desperately searching for a new place to call home, Adan soon begins to understand the limits of ethnic and religious solidarity in Musa Saeed’s unforgettably moving odyssey.

AWOL Tennessee Premiere
Director: Deb Shoval
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
Wanting to afford college and finally get out of her Pennsylvania rustbelt town, recent high school grad Joey (Lola Kirke) enlists in the US Army. Her path seems set in stone until she meets Rayna (Breda Wool), a married mother of two. Their love is immediate and too intense to ignore. As economic and social realities bear down on them, Joey sees only one dangerous option: she and Rayna must go AWOL.

DARK NIGHT Regional Premiere
Director: Tim Sutton
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
Loosely based on the Aurora, Colorado theater shootings of 2012, in which a gunman killed 12 and wounded 70 moviegoers attending a screening of Christopher Nolan’s THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, Tim Sutton’s DARK NIGHT oscillates between the lives and perspectives of several people whose fates will collide in tragic fashion, elliptically circling the unspeakable event and in the process forcing the viewer to ruminate upon violence and spectatorship.

GREEN/IS/GOLD Regional Premiere
Director: Ryon Baxter
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
In Northern California, thirteen-year old Mason (Jimmy Baxter) is forced to leave his home when his father goes to prison, and to go live with his older brother Cameron (Ryon Baxter), a marijuana farmer. Having been estranged from Cameron for quite some time, Mason must learn how to adjust to his new living situation and surroundings while Cameron attempts to balance making his illegal living with the newfound responsibility of taking care of his little brother. Ryon Baxter writes, directs, edits, and co-stars in this engaging, modern spin on a coming-of-age tale for the medical marijuana generation. A Samuel Goldwyn Films release.


DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

THE ACT OF BECOMING U.S. Premiere
Directors: Jennifer Anderson, Vernon Lott
Country: USA, Running Time: 61min
Upon its initial publication, John Williams’ 1965 novel Stoner sold fewer than 2,000 copies. Just one year later, it was out of print and soon all but forgotten. Remarkably, fifty years later, Stoner has gone on to sell hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide. THE ACT OF BECOMING seeks to uncover the reasons behind its newfound success as it explores how the novel has moved so many people.

Preceded by
BRILLO BOX (3¢ OFF)
Director: Lisanne Skyler
Country: USA, Running Time: 44min
In 1969, Lisanne Skyler’s parents bought a Warhol Brillo Box for $1,000. In 2010, it fetched 3,000,000. BRILLO BOX (3¢ OFF) is the story of what happened in between.


AND WHEN I DIE, I WON’T STAY DEAD Regional Premiere
Director: Billy Woodberry
Country: USA, Running Time: 89min
A surrealist who drew comparisons to Arthur Rimbaud, Bob Kaufman was the most prominent African-American amongst the beat poets, a writer who’s jazz inflected work found legend in San Francisco and fame in France. An impressionistic portrait of the under heralded writer that weaves his tale through testimonials from those who knew him and recitations of his landmark poetry, AND WHEN I DIE, I WON’T STAY DEAD marks the triumphant cinematic return of Billy Woodberry, one of the LA Rebellion’s foundational figures, after three decades away from the director’s chair.

THE IF PROJECT Tennessee Premiere
Director: Kathlyn Horan
Country: USA, Running Time: 88min
In 2008, 28 year police veteran, Kim Bogucki, visited the prison to bridge the gap between mothers in prison and their daughters living on the outside. She posed the question, “If there was something someone could have said or done to change the path that led you here what would it have been?” Through various writing exercises, the women were challenged to open up about their past, take accountability for their actions, grow together and most of all, forgive themselves.

JACKSON Tennessee Premiere
Director: Maisie Crow
Country: USA, Running Time: 90min
Set against the backdrop of the fight over the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, this film is an intimate, first-of-its-kind look inside the issues surrounding abortion through three women who stand on all sides of this debate and live at a turning point for reproductive healthcare in America. As it follows Shannon Brewer, the director of Jackson Women's Health Organization, Barbara Beavers, the leader of the anti-abortion movement in Mississippi and April Jackson, a young mother of four children faced with another unplanned pregnancy, the complexity of this always hot button issue comes to the fore in compelling and unexpected ways.

MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART Tennessee Premiere
Director: Cecilia Aldarondo
Country: USA, Running Time: 77min
Twenty-five years after her uncle died of AIDS, filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo, attempts to uncover the unresolved family skeletons surrounding his death. Despite an ostensibly rewarding career and love life, in his final days he struggled to reconcile his homosexuality with his Puerto Rican Catholic upbringing. Now, two dozen years later, Cecilia finds her uncle’s Caucasian lover, who has been ignored and demeaned by the family, and begins to question what actually happened to her uncle in the 1980s.

MISSING PEOPLE Tennessee Premiere
Director: David Shapiro
Country: USA, Running Time: 76min
Gripping and multi-layered, David Shapiro’s MISSING PEOPLE is a nonfiction mystery about Martina Batan, former director of the Ronald Feldman gallery, who investigates her brother's long unsolved murder, while obsessively collecting and researching the violent work and life of an outsider artist from New Orleans. As these parallel narratives intertwine, unforeseen events unfold, shedding new light on the nature of obsession and the difficulty of letting go.


SOUNDS COMPETITION

CONTEMPORARY COLOR Tennessee Premiere
Directors: Bill Ross, Turner Ross
Country: USA, Running Time: 107min
The newest film from the Ross Brothers, CONTEMPORARY COLOR chronicles the one night only concert event of the same name held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York in 2015 which paired popular alternative artists with the twirling flags of ten high school color guard troupes. Featuring performances by artists such as David Byrne, St. Vincent, Lucius and Nelly Furtado, who all wrote new songs exclusively for this event, the film oscillates between onstage and offstage action while providing ample time for the tightly choreographed, expressive dance routines that accompany the musicians to shine. An Oscilloscope Laboratories release.

GIP Tennessee Premiere
Director: Patrick Sheehan
Country: USA, Running Time: 73min
"Henry "Gip " Gipson lives an interesting life. Gravedigger, railroad worker, passionate blues player and owner of "Gip's Place"; an authentic, old fashioned juke joint he's been running out of his home for 60 years. At 92 years old, Gip is not just reveling in the past, but actively keeping a culture alive; GIP is preserving the spirit of blues and roots music, and keeping it tied to his heritage, as it is one of the few surviving authentic juke joints around. For Gip, and the community around him, it's not just music, but a veritable institution of black history, while also drawing diverse crowds and providing raucous entertainment for the community surrounding it. After Gip's Place is shut down for noise complaints, Gip fights to keep his establishment open and the community rallies behind him in a valiant effort to keep the music, and history, alive. Patrick Sheehan's GIP not only provides an incredible look into a both a man dedicated to his roots, but also of the community that embraces him, and refuses to let their culture be silenced.

Preceded by:
THE ARKANSAS WILD MAN
Director: Nathan Willis
Country: USA, Running Time: 18:38min
An 87-year-old rock and roll pioneer who lives a life of obscurity in his small Arkansas hometown travels overseas to England to play one final concert for his passionate and loyal fan base there.

GOODNIGHT BROOKLYN: THE STORY OF DEATH BY AUDIO Tennessee Premiere
Director: Matthew Conboy
Country: USA, Running Time: 82min
GOODNIGHT BROOKLYN: THE STORY OF DEATH BY AUDIO brings viewers inside the last underground venue for music and art in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a neighborhood once defined by its cultural contributions to the city of New York. The feature length film chronicles the origins, community-building, influence and ultimate closure of one of Brooklyn's best DIY venues, ironically at the hands of a former champion of their efforts.

Preceded by
GOOD WHITE PEOPLE
Directors: Erick Stoll, Jared Welling-Cann
Country: USA, Running Time: 15:40min
GOOD WHITE PEOPLE follows Reginald Stroud Sr. as he and his family are forced from their home in Cincinnati, Ohio to make way for luxury condos, high end bars, and art galleries.

I AM THE BLUES Tennessee Premiere
Director: Daniel Cross
Country: USA, Running Time: 107min
I AM THE BLUES takes the audience on a musical journey through the swamps of the Louisiana Bayou, the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta and Moonshine soaked BBQs in the North Mississippi Hill Country. Visiting the last original blues devils, many in their 80’s, still living in the deep south, working without management and touring the Chitlin’ Circuit. Let Bobby Rush, Barbara Lynn, Henry Gray, Carol Fran, Lazy Lester, Bilbo Walker, RL Boyce, Jimmy ’Duck’ Holmes, Lil Buck Sinegal, LC Ulmer and their friends awaken the blues in all of us.


DEPARTURES COMPETITION

JACQUELINE (ARGENTINE) Regional Premiere
Director: Bernardo Britto
Country: USA, Running Time: 89min
At once a low-fi travelogue and a sendup of the Edward Snowden affair, the first feature from celebrated young animator and director Bernardo Britto stars the comedian Wyatt Cenac (The Daily Show, MEDICINE FOR MELACHOLY), follows an experimental filmmaker of some note who hopes to cross over with a more commercially minded feature. When a strange woman from Argentina begins to contact him claiming to have potentially world altering information she would like to use him as a conduit for releasing, the movie takes a formally adventurous turn, increasingly blending documentary aesthetics and spy movie clichés in a way that proves playful and philosophically probing.

LOVETRUE Regional Premiere
Director: Alma Har’el
Country: USA, Running Time: 82min
Seeking to deconstruct the myth of true love, filmmaker Alma Har’el glimpses with her inimitable lyricism three relationships in disparate parts of the country and at different point in life. Scored by the remarkable Flying Lotus, LOVETRUE creates a phantasmagorical blend of intimate verite and staged scenes reflecting on the past, present, and future of her characters. From Hawaii and New York City Har’el captures intimate moments that point toward the ways in which notions of love define and disappoint us.

Preceded by:
COUNT
Director: Jason Evans
Country: USA, Running Time: 13min
In the casino resort town of Atlantic City, a troubled, out-of-work performer obsessively delves into his onstage persona, at the risk of his sanity.

MA Tennessee Premiere
Director: Celia Rowlson-Hall
Country: USA, Running Time: 80min
In this modern-day vision of Mother Mary's pilgrimage, a woman crosses the scorched landscape of the American Southwest. Reinvented and told entirely through movement, the film playfully deconstructs the role of this woman, who encounters a world full of bold characters that are alternately terrifying and sublime. MA is a journey into the visceral and the surreal, interweaving ritual, performance, and the body as sculpture. The absence of dialogue stirs the senses, and leads us to imagine a new ending to this familiar journey. The virgin mother gives birth to our savior, but is also challenged to save herself. A Factory 25 Release.

Preceded by
GOSPEL MIME
Director: Whitney Mallett
Country: USA, Running Time: 5:45min
The lyrical short, which features cinematography by Jason Harvey and a score by Philip Karneef, takes a look at the religious subculture of miming for Jesus.

SLACKJAW Regional Premiere
Director: Zach Weintraub
Country: USA, Running Time: 70min
A pair of pacific northwestern hipsters, Rob (Robert Malone) and Austyn (Weintraub) in the midst of a broader altercation between their tight knit slacker community and a powerful Orwellian corporation called EvCorp. The two of them, against the wishes of their friends who are expressed aligned against this mysterious new entity in town, apply to take part in EvCorp’s ongoing medical experiments for a quick $10,000. What follows is not just a stylized, quirky comedy but a madcap, genre-bending satire of our increasingly paranoid times.


HOMETOWNER COMPETITION

BAD, BAD MEN Regional Premiere
Directors: Brad Ellis, Allen C. Gardner
Country: USA, Running Time: 83min
After being taunted at a coffee shop, a timid young man enlists his two best friends to help him track his newfound bully down and put him in his place. They do just that, but misguided machismo then fuels an ensuing battle of wills. From the filmmakers of BEING AWESOME, and DAYLIGHT FADES.

DESTROY MEMPHIS World Premiere
Director: Mike McCarthy
Country: USA, Running Time: 120min
DESTROY MEMPHIS is the story of the grassroots organization calling itself “Save Libertyland” who gathered in a Midtown Memphis dining room in 2005 in order to fight then-Mayor Willie Herenton’s efforts to close the amusement park due to an operating deficit. The core members consisted of musicians in the all-girl punk band, The Zippin Pippins, who took their name from Elvis’s favorite ride at Libertyland. Ten years in the making, DESTROY MEMPHIS showcases citizen coalition movements which almost certainly put the brakes on Mayor A. C. Wharton’s plan to turn the Memphis Fairgrounds into a Tourist Development Zone devoted to mostly private retail and private ballparks.

Preceded by:
TAV FALCO: MAKE ME KNOW YOU’RE MINE
Directors: JP Olsen, Kristen Nutile
Country: USA, Running time: 13min
Musician, writer and filmmaker, Tav Falco, started his life of art and discovery as the assistant to acclaimed photographer William Eggleston and then went on to found transgressive rock and roll bands with the likes of Alex Chilton. For over 30 years, Falco has toured the world as a free-wheelin' entertainer and art provocateur who, at the age of 72, shows no signs of letting up. Filmmakers JP Olsen and Kristen Nutile follow Falco as he kicks off his 2015 North American tour, supported by punk rock icon Mike Watt on bass and Iggy Pop's drummer, Toby Dammit.


I AM A CAREGIVER World Premiere
Director: Kathy Lofton
Country: USA, Running Time: 59min
I AM A CAREGIVER focuses on the nuances and challenges faced by family caregivers. An under explored and vitally crucial part of our health care delivery system, the film explores the experiences of those who directly care for our sickest, most disabled citizens, showcasing the difficulty of their works from a variety of different vantage points.

KAIROS DIRT & THE ERRANT VACUUM World Premiere
Director: Madsen Minax
Country: USA, Running Time: 97min
A queer middle school lunch lady and a gender ambiguous student have an unclear intergenerational relationship. Through strangely erotic and mystically profound dreams, she personifies the student as a genderless apparition from an alternate space-time.

MENTALITY: GIRLS LIKE US World Premiere
Director: Flo Gibbs
Country: USA, Running Time: 99min
The stories of three lesbian studs and one “FTM” who is going through gender transition. They are each coming to terms with sexual orientation and gender identity in a world where discrimination is prevalent against women who don’t fit into a mold of femininity. The participants in this documentary live a life that is subjected to judgment, bias and an abundance of scrutiny for being who they are. Although there have been many changes in laws for the LGBTQ community, they are still met with partiality.

VERGE World Premiere
Director: Lakethen Mason
Country: USA, Running Time: 62min
The young careers of 7 indie artists pursuing their dreams in the most famous music city in the world: Memphis. Nick, Faith, Marco, Brennan, Kyndle, Black Rock Revival, and Keia will take us on their own personal journey of discovery, dedication, and determination to achieve success in music. This documentary further witnesses the day-to-day challenges that artists, musicians, and producers face in remaining steadfast in the pursuit of their dream. Yet there is a realization among each of them that there is no other vocation in life that can genuinely satisfy their emotional and physical need than to be on stage, or write that timeless composition that changes the universe, and provides that raw emotion that keeps them on the VERGE, On The Brink, On The Cusp of...

Preceded by:
JIMBO MATHUS: FINDING YOUR ROOTS
Director: Geoffrey Shrewsbury
Country: USA, Running Time: 13:50min
Film is a brief glimpse into the life of Mississippi musician, Jimbo Mathus. Hang out with Jimbo as he takes the stage at the Hill Country Picnic and talks about his musical background: from picking guitar on camping trips with his family, through appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman with his former band, The Squirrel Nut Zippers.


PIONEERS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CINEMA

THE BLOOD OF JESUS (1941)
Director: Spencer Williams
Country: USA, Running Time: 58min
Small-town residents pray for a miracle after a newly baptized woman is accidentally shot by her sinful husband.

BODY & SOUL (1925)
Director: Oscar Micheaux
Country: USA, Running Time: 102min
Directed by the legendary African American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, BODY & SOUL is a direct critique of the power of the cloth, casting Robeson in dual roles as a jackleg preacher and a well-meaning inventor.

HELLBOUND TRAIN (1930)
Director: James Gist
Country: USA, Running Time: 60min
HELLBOUND TRAIN comprises a series of vignettes of “sinful” acts, any of which could book you a spot on that locomotive to perdition: Women deceiving their husbands; gamblers and tipplers; crooked men conducting illicit business; and insolent children disrespecting their parents make up the passenger list. At the end of each scene a character dies, and a round man in a form-fitting devil suit hops off a train and does a little jig as he accepts a new passenger.

SYMBOL OF THE UNCONQUERED (1920)
Director: Oscar Micheaux
Country: USA, Running Time: 54min
In this silent film, Eve Mason (Iris Hall) learns of her grandfather's death, leaves her small Southern town and travels west to inspect her newly-inherited land. With help from her neighbor, Hugh Van Allen (Walker Thompson), she arrives at her grandfather's homestead. When the self-loathing Jefferson Driscoll (Lawrence Chenault) learns that Van Allen's property sits atop a vast oil reserve, he teams up with a group of unsavory criminals to threaten Mason and force Van Allen off his land.


SPECIAL PRESENTATION

THE DELTA (1996)
Director: Ira Sachs
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
THE DELTA follows Lincoln, a 17-year old boy leads a straight life most of the time: he has a girlfriend, goes to dances, jokes with guys. But he also has a secret life, in which he's drawn to men he doesn't know. One night, while visiting a gay video arcade, he connects with John, a Vietnamese-born gay man, in his 20s probably, whose father was an African-American US soldier. John invites Lincoln to spend some carefree time with him, which leads the two to take Lincoln’s father’s boat into the Mississippi delta, where setting off some fireworks out of season precipitates betrayal and revenge.

MAN ON THE MOON (1999)
Director: Miloš Forman
Country: USA, Running Time:119min
Jim Carrey stars as the late Andy Kaufman, who was considered one of the most innovative, eccentric and enigmatic performers of his time. A master at manipulating audiences, Kaufman could generate belly laughs, stony silence, tears or brawls. Whether inviting the audience out for milk and cookies or challenging women to inter-gender wrestling matches, he specialized in creating performances so real that even his close friends were never sure where the truth lay.

THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT (1996)
Director: Miloš Forman
Country: USA, Running Time: 129min
Pursued by opponents who say his "Hustler" magazine breaks decency laws, pornographer Larry Flynt (Woody Harrelson) hires lawyer Alan Isaacman (Edward Norton) to help fight his legal battles. A zealot shoots the men near a Georgia courthouse, and though Flynt discovers he'll never walk again, his fighting spirit -- like his love for stripper Althea Leasure (Courtney Love) -- stays strong. Ultimately, the unlikely free speech warrior takes his biggest case to a showdown at the Supreme Court.


HOMETOWNER SPECIAL PRESENTATION

FREE IN DEED
Director: Jake Mahaffy
Country: USA, Running Time 100min
Set in the distinctive world of storefront churches, and based on actual events, FREE IN DEED depicts one man's attempts to perform a miracle for a young mother and her son battling a seemingly incurable illness. However, for the lonely Pentecostal minister confronting his own demons as well, it seems the more he prays, the more things seem to spiral out of his control.

OPENING NIGHT SELECTION
THE INVADERS Regional Premiere
Director: Prichard Smith

CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION
KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE
Director: Steven John Ross

[I have removed the list of short titles because it was a long list of just the titles. please check www.indiememphis.com for details]


ABOUT INDIE MEMPHIS
Through diverse year-round programming, a world-class annual festival, and on-going efforts to include new voices, new media, and new audiences, Indie Memphis is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which enriches, inspires, and connects the Memphis community while cultivating interest in, and development of, independent film. For additional information, or for details about membership, visit www.indiememphis.com or call (901) 214-5171.

Nathanael Hood looks at American Honey (2016)

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a road movie less interested in sweeping vistas and exteriors than Andrea Arnold’s American Honey. Road movies, particularly ones set in the American midwest, are obsessed with widescreen panoramas, pastoral landscapes, helicopter shots of cars snaking their way up and down lonely highways. But there’s only one moment of such beauty in American Honey: a roving magazine sales crew of rowdy, dispossessed teenagers stop by the side of a massive network of gulleys stretching far off into the distance. The camera holds for a moment on this geological wonder before panning over to see the teenagers pissing and squatting next to the ridge. The film is obsessed with intimate close-ups, the average frame lingering on a single body part or detail: a shoulder, a neck, a hand; a window, a mattress, a cigarette. Sex scenes are shot with the camera mere inches from the performers; during one such sequence cinematographer Robbie Ryan noticeably racks focus several times in a single shot. We only see the outside world through the windows of their communal van as it races by in 1.37:1 snapshots.

It’s very easy to describe what happens in American Honey, but not so much what it’s about. It follows Star (Sasha Lane), a young woman who escapes an abusive relationship and a living picking expired food from trash bins to join up with Jake (Shia LaBeouf), a dashing, scruffy young man who shepherds a crew of salespeople across the country. They’re a makeshift family of nobodies and outcasts, teenage stoners and twentysomething drunkards. Each comes from a different state, each has a different story. My favorite was Pagan (Arielle Holmes), a young woman obsessed with Darth Vader who never seems fully awake even while hustling magazines. They have their own rules and rituals—the lowest two sellers of the week have to fight each other as punishment—as well as a hierarchy. At the top sits Krystal (Riley Keough), a white trash matriarch with no qualms about abandoning low sellers on the side of the road. It’s a harsh, thankless life selling magazines to people who don’t want or need them. But when the evening comes and there’s nothing to do but drink and laze about, it all seems worth it.

While shooting the film, Arnold and her cast and crew traveled nearly 12,000 miles across America, shooting bits and pieces of footage here and there. The entire film feels of calculated improvisation—during an interview LeBeouf admitted that he had no idea what was in it. The looseness lends itself to set pieces, some of which work better than others. The best involves Star giving an oil worker a handjob in the front seat of his truck in front of a flaming oil derrick. Most lesser films would kill for a sequence of such poignant beauty and power. The worst sees Star get picked up by three elderly men dressed as cowboys who take her to their pool for steaks and whiskey. The tone is all over the place—what are their intentions? Why are they all dressed like Roy Rogers? The sequence speaks to one of the film’s major weaknesses: for a film about America by a British filmmaker, it sometimes feels too on-the-nose with its metaphors. Watching the cowboy scene, all I could think about was how the world would react if an American filmmaker went to England and shot a scene where a young woman was picked up by a trio of Cockney chimney-sweeps. There’s a lot of heavy-handed, groan-worthy dialogue about “seeing America” and personal dreams. In seeking profundity, these scenes trip over their own pretentiousness. The film’s best observations of the States comes when it isn’t explicitly trying to say anything at all: the desperate poverty of post-industrial communities, endless strip malls and gas stations, ubiquitous drug abuse.

The film clocks in at a staggering 163 minutes, and though you feel its length, you never feel bored. There’s a curious momentum in its complacency; scenes of quiet and stillness seem propelled towards some end. But I left American Honey wondering what it was trying to say. As we left the theater, one of my fellow critics muttered that he never understood what Star wanted. That’s easy: she didn’t know. At times she seems to want Jake, their repeated hookups being the most obvious evidence. But no, a man would explain why she joined their crew, not why she stuck with them. The film has no answers. Indeed, one wonders if it asks any questions.

7/10

AMERICAN HONEY opens Friday

Monday, September 26, 2016

The La Costa Film Festival announces selections for 4th edition of the film festival (October 13-16)

Chris Noth to be honored with LCFF’s Shining Star Award

Opening Night selection is Johnathan Brownlee’s THREE DAYS IN AUGUST, and Closing Night selection is Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson’s CLAIRE IN MOTION

Other highlights include the world premiere of Nathan Apffel’s THE LONGEST JOURNEY, a special 30th Anniversary 3D screening of TOP GUN, and sports films competition


Carlsbad, CA (September 26, 2016) – The La Costa Film Festival today announced the official selections for the 4th edition of the popular destination film festival hosted by the renowned Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California. Running from October 13-16, LCFF will open with a gala screening of Johnathan Brownlee’s festival hit, THREE DAYS IN AUGUST, will honor two-time Golden Globe nominee, Chris Noth with the festival’s inaugural Shining Star Award, and feature additional highlights including the world premiere of Nathan Apffel’s THE LONGEST JOURNEY, a special 30th Anniversary 3D screening of TOP GUN, LCFF’s signature “Reel Pitch” competition, sports film competition, and Closing Night gala screening of Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson’s CLAIRE IN MOTION, among the 20 feature films, 23 short films, and filmmaker panels presented over the course of the jam-packed four-day film festival.

La Costa Film Festival Co-Founders, Michael and Ruby Callihan, said, “The La Costa Film Festival strives to offer a chance to see an amazing array of films, meet and celebrate filmmakers from all over the world, and captivate our audiences with the thrill and beauty of the cinema experience in one of the most welcoming and beautiful resort locations in the entire country. The combination of this year’s group of films, our wonderful Shining Star honoree, Chris Noth, and the special film events we have put together will give both our film fans and our attending filmmakers an opportunity to see films, talk about the current state of the industry, and immerse themselves in that world in as luxurious a setting as they could hope for.”

Friday, October 14, two-time Golden Globe nominee and SAG Award nominated actor Chris Noth will be the first recipient of the La Costa Film Festival’s Shining Star Award on the occasion of a year in which the actor has shined in distinctive performances in television and film, most recently the critically-acclaimed independent film WHITE GIRL and shows like The Good Wife, and Tyrant. The award presentation and “Under the Stars” conversation reflecting on Noth’s celebrated career will offer a rare opportunity to hear him discuss his signature characters and performances from shows like Law and Order, Sex and the City, and The Good Wife as well as films like BAD APPLE, LOVELACE, and SEX AND THE CITY, with rarely seen and specially selected clips from his early career such as TNT’s Cesar, Law and Order, EXILED, and first film, SMITHEREENS, directed by Susan Seidelman, that he has personally chosen for a frank, and entertaining conversation moderated by entertainment awards expert and commentator Dave Karger (IMDb).

Brownlee’s THREE DAYS IN AUGUST will make its West Coast premiere when it opens the festival on Thursday, October 13 with a screening outdoors on Omni La Costa Resort & Spa’s Center Court. The film stars Barry Bostwick, Meg Foster, and Mariette Hartley, in a drama about an Irish American artist who is forced to confront her past when both sets of parents come together over a weekend for her to paint a family portrait. Brownlee, and cast members Hartley, Mollie Miligan, Steve Snedden, Edward James Hyland, Colton Tapp, Cal Bartlett, and Luis Acevedo will all be on hand for a post-screening Q&A.

Thursday evening will begin with the festival’s coveted 'Sip & Savor' Gala, taking place on the Valley Promenade at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa, and featuring many of the area’s finest restaurants, wineries, breweries, and specialty items - all competing for the Best of the Fest Awards for best Sip & Savor.

Friday, October 14, will feature the world premiere screening of Nathan Apffel’s THE LONGEST JOURNEY at the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa’s Center Court, as well as a special 3D screening of TOP GUN at the Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas (6941 El Camino Real). THE LONGEST JOURNEY is a compelling documentary by local filmmaker Apffel, which follows the efforts of a group of courageous individuals to raise awareness on the devastating impact of Huntington’s Disease by participating in The Race Across America - a grueling non-stop 3,000-mile, 24 hours-a-day bicycle race from Coast to Coast. Members of the team, as well as Apffel, will be available for a post-screening Q&A, and an after party co-hosted by Corban Productions will follow in Omni’s Orchid Ballroom.

Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Tony Scott’s TOP GUN (1986), starring Tom Cruise, LCFF’s 3D presentation of the film will be followed by a Q&A with Barry Sandrew, Ph.D, founder of Legend3D which was responsible for the film’s conversion to 3D, and Vice Admiral Walter J. Davis, who was the Aircraft Commander during the making of TOP GUN, and worked closely with Tony Scott during the making of the film. The film has long been a signature representative of testosterone 80s filmmaking, about a Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School where the best of the best train to refine their elite flying skills. When hotshot fighter pilot Maverick (Tom Cruise) is sent to the school, his reckless attitude and cocky demeanor put him at odds with the other pilots, especially the cool and collected Iceman (Val Kilmer). But Maverick isn't only competing to be the top fighter pilot, he's also fighting for the attention of his beautiful flight instructor, Charlotte Blackwood (Kelly McGillis).

The Closing Night Gala outdoor screening of Annie J. Howell and Lisa Robinson’s CLAIRE IN MOTION will take place on Saturday, October 15. The film, which premiered earlier this year at SXSW, follows Claire, played by Breaking Bad’s Betsy Brandt, who is sure of herself, her work, and family, until - like a bad dream - her husband disappears, leaving a trail of puzzling secrets that shatter her certainty. Brandt will attend and participate in a post-screening Q&A.

Other highlights among the film slate include a trio of international films, including; Tova Ascher’s AKA NADIA, an Israeli drama about two women reconciling a troubled past with the lives they have built for themselves in the present; Olivier Ringer’s French film, BIRDS OF PASSAGE, about a young girl and her wheelchair bound friend, that leave in secret on a trip to the river delta to set their pet duckling free; and Arnaud Virard’s French romantic film, PARIS, LOVE, CUT, about a director facing a relationship crossroads with his fiancée just as he falls for a beautiful actress.

The festival’s annual Sports Competition is led by two films focused on golfing; Gabe Spitzer and David Terry Fine’s HIT IT HARD, about the career ups and downs of the enigmatic PGA Champion John Daly; and Charlene Fisk and Carrie Schrader’s THE FOUNDERS, which traces the beginnings of the LPGA. Jacqueline Joseph’s WINNING digs deep into what makes a sports champion looking at athletes ranging from tennis legend Martina Navratilova, to Olympic gymnastics icon, Nadia Comaneci, and track and field star, Edwin Moses; Brent Deal’s CHASING GOLD follows the epic story of Team USA as it came from behind in epic paddle battles to win at the last ISA World Paddle Games in Mexico; Bob Van De Gronde’s CHAPTER ONE – THE KITEBOARD LEGACY BEGINS, introduces viewers the sport of kiteboarding via stunning photography; Ryan Green’s THE HOLLYWOOD SHORTIES, focuses on the notorious professional dwarf basketball team formed in the 80s; and Eric 'Ptah' Herbert’s MANCHILD: THE SCHEA COTTON STORY, looks at the playground basketball legend and the true story of why he never reached the NBA stage. The Sports Competition Jury includes former San Diego Charger kicker John Carney, sports agent John Kentera, KUSI-TV’s Paul Rudy, producer James B. Harris (THE KILLING, PATHS OF GLORY), and Carlsbad Boys & Girls Club CEO Brad Holland. The winner will be announced at the Star Awards on Saturday, October 15.

The La Costa Film Festival has built a reputation for hosting dynamic and informative filmmaker panels. Immediately following the shorts competition screening will be a panel on “How to Create Shorts Worthy of Oscar Consideration” with industry veterans Amy Keating Rogers (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack), Zac Moncrief (Family Guy, Phineas and Ferb), and Jared Hillman (THE SOCIAL NETWORK, Psyche). The shorts competition will mark the first time the La Costa Film Festival has had a juried competition in that category.

Another panel, “The Rapidly Changing Landscape of Film Financing and Distribution” will be moderated by Geoff Clark (Something Kreative Studios), and include Michael Repsch (Breaking Glass Pictures), Eric Bromberg (Pluto.TV), Jeff Chao (Kerin Media Ventres), and Floris Bauer (Gunpowder & Sky).

Finally, LCFF will present the second year of the popular “Reel Pitch” competition, presented with Mandalay Sports Media (MSM), which pits talented young filmmakers against each other in a Shark Tank inspired environment to win the support of a major studio executive. Ten promising storytellers/filmmakers will have the opportunity to present their development ideas in a 5-minute pitch to a panel of seasoned producers and executives, including Chip Diggins (A WALK IN THE WOODS), Carl Hampe (THE BLEEDER), and Danielle Sanchez-Witzel (The Carmichael Show). One winner will be offered the opportunity to refine her/his pitch under the guidance of one of the judges, and will deliver that pitch to one of MSM’s studio partners to hopefully sell their project.

With the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa serving as LCFF’s annual host, the film festival offers a truly unique destination experience. The Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas La Costa, a Festival partner from its inception provides the ultimate in pampered viewing, and the completely remodeled Ruby G. Schulman Auditorium at the Carlsbad Dove Library adds a venue that is both state-of-the-art and very comfortable.

Film festival passes and tickets are on-sale now. Ticket prices range from $10 - $350, for single tickets to Star Passes. 20% discounts apply for students, military, and seniors as well. For tickets, passes, and more information, go to: http://bit.ly/2cfrcIo.

The 2016 La Costa Film Festival official selections:

OPENING NIGHT SELECTION
THREE DAYS IN AUGUST
Director: Johnathan Brownlee

Country: USA, Running Time: 96min

Starring Barry Bostwick, Meg Foster, and Mariette Hartley, the film is about an Irish American artist who is forced to confront her past when both sets of parents come together over a weekend for her to paint a family portrait.

CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION
CLAIRE IN MOTION
Directors: Annie J. Howell, Lisa Robinson
Country: USA, Running Time: 83min
Three weeks after Claire’s husband has mysteriously disappeared, the police have ended their investigation and her son is beginning to grieve. The only person who hasn’t given up is Claire (Betsy Brandt). Soon she discovers his troubling secrets, including an alluring yet manipulative graduate student with whom he had formed a close bond. As she digs deeper, Claire begins to lose her grip on how well she truly knew her husband and questions her own identity in the process.


Official Narrative Selections

AKA NADIA
Director: Tova Ascher
Country: Israel, Running Time: 115min
Following a secret love affair and marriage to an activist in a Palestinian Liberation Movement, Nadia realizes the meaning of the step she has taken – severing her ties with her family and beloved mother, as she embraces a life of exile and escape. When her husband, Nimer is caught by the authorities, Nadia is left on her own. She realizes that there is no option of returning to Israel; the authorities see her as a terrorist and to her family she has escaped and disgraced them. Twenty years later, her friend Maya, a choreographer at a Jerusalem dance troupe, now married to a senior official at the Ministry of Justice, spots Nadia and is filled with distress at the prospects of her husband discovering their connection.

BIRDS OF PASSAGE (Les Oiseaux de Passage)
Director: Olivier Ringer
Country: France, Running Time: 84min
For Cathy, it is not always easy to be born on February 29th, especially when for her birthday, her father gives her an egg to hatch. But it is probably less difficult than to be suffering from myopathy as her wheelchair-bound best friend Margaux does.

GALA & GODFREY
Director: Kristin Ellingson
Country: USA, Running Time: 115min
Love, Sex, Marriage, Divorce... just not in that order. Within the framework of a record album, Gala & Godfrey tracks the classic moments in the lives of a charming, exasperating British expat and his American wife through 12 years of their sexy, chaotic romance and divorce.

IT HAD TO BE YOU
Director: Sasha Gordon
Country: USA, Running Time: 78min
The film follows Sonia (Cristin Milioti) a quirky, neurotic jingle writer who has always dreamt of a big and exciting life. Surprised by a sudden proposal and subsequent ultimatum from her easy-going boyfriend, Chris, Sonia has three days to decide whether she’ll join the ranks of her married friends or take a leap and pursue her fantasies.

LAST MAN CLUB
Director: Bo Brinkman
Country: USA, Running Time: 95min
A WW2 veteran destined for life in a retirement home escapes his difficult family situation and embarks on a cross country adventure to find the last remaining members of his B-17 bomber crew with the help of a beautiful accomplice.

PARIS, LOVE, CUT
Director: Arnaud Virard
Country: France, Running Time: 92min
Arnaud is a movie director and the typical Parisian guy: charming, distracted, unsettled. As he struggles to convince bankers and producers to invest in his sophomore movie, his fiancée asks him to commit more to their relationship. At the exact same moment he falls in love for Gabrielle, a young and ambitious actress. And at the same time his mother passes away, leading to a turning point in Arnaud’s life.

SEARCH ENGINES
Director: Russell Brown
Country: USA, Running Time: 95min
Sanity and relationships are put to the test when mysterious circumstances force a family to survive the annual American Thanksgiving holiday without their cell phones. Cast includes Joely Fisher, Natasha Gregson Wagner, Daphne Zuniga, and Connie Stevens.

TOP GUN 3D (1986)
Director: Tony Scott
Country: USA, Running Time: 110min
As students at the United States Navy's elite fighter weapons school compete to be best in the class, one daring young pilot learns a few things from a civilian instructor that are not taught in the classroom. Cast includes Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards, Meg Ryan.


Official Documentary Selections

CAFÉ NAGLER
Director: Mor Kaplansky

Country: Germany, Israel, Running Time: 75min

The director embarks on a journey to reveal the story behind the legendary Café Nagler, owned by her family during the 1920s in Berlin, and finds that historical truths can be overrated.

CHASING GOLD
Director: Brent Deal
Country: USA, Running Time: 49min
Film follows Team USA as it came from behind in epic paddle battles to take Gold at the last ISA World Paddle Games in Mexico. It was a week of pure sportsmanship and comradery as a team who barely had enough resources to pay for their flight went on to end the Aussie domination of the games.

CHAPTER ONE – THE KITEBOARD LEGACY BEGINS
Director: Bob Van De Gronde
Country: Netherlands, Running Time: 84min
Film introduces viewers to the sport of kiteboarding. It unites the legends, current champions, and future talents of the sport, shot in breathtaking locations around the world using state-of-the-art camera techniques.

THE FOUNDERS
Directors: Charlene Fisk, Carrie Schrader
Country: USA, Running Time: 89min
Film chronicles the formation of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) in 1950 as 13 amateur women golfers battled society, finances and sometimes even each other to stake their claim to become professional sportswomen and create the league.

HIT IT HARD
Directors: Gabe Spitzer, David Terry Fine
Country: USA, Running Time: 51min
A look at the career of Professional golfer John Daly, who won the 1991 PGA Championship and instantly became a focus of public interest as a charismatic, blue collar, and often overweight player a odds with the traditions and optics of the sport of golf. With a talent for driving the ball exceptionally well, Daly became notorious for the out-of-place figure he cut on the course, as well as the extreme highs and lows of his career.

THE HOLLYWOOD SHORTIES
Director: Ryan Green
Country: USA, Running Time: 85min
A professional dwarf basketball team defies cultural stereotypes to become one of the most unforgettable attractions in 1980's Los Angeles.

THE LONGEST JOURNEY WORLD PREMIERE
Director: Nathan Apffel
Country: USA, Running Time: 74min
A family's goal is to ride 3,000 consecutive miles, 24 hours a day from Coast to Coast in the Race Across America to raise awareness for Huntington's Disease. Will this 9-5 family succeed in one of the most grueling races in the world?

MANCHILD: THE SCHEA COTTON STORY
Director: Eric 'Ptah' Herbert
Country: USA, Running Time: 78min
Film is a documentary about a Los Angeles basketball legend by the name of Schea Cotton. There have been many stories told about Schea, and all of the ones about what he did on the court are true. This time though Schea and the people closest to him tell the story about what REALLY happened. A star studded documentary featuring Scoop Jackson, Paul Pierce, Baron Davis, Ron Artest, Tyson Chandler, Jason Hart, Stephen Jackson and Elton Brand to name a few. There is no such thing as a "lock" for the NBA because if that were the case Schea Cotton would be there, no doubt.

SOUTH BUREAU HOMICIDE
Directors: Mike Cooley, Mark Earl Burman
Country: USA, Running Time: 78min
Documentary delves into the notoriously crime-riddled neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles. The film is a yearlong look into the unique, often tumultuous relationship between the residents of South Central and the LAPD and the homicide detectives who are hoping to forge a more cooperative and compassionate bond between the neighborhood and law enforcement.

WINNING
Director: Jacqueline Joseph

Country: USA, Running Time: 75min

What makes an athlete a multiple Olympic Gold Medalist, a Wimbledon champion or winner of The Masters? What gives these athletes an “edge"? Through candid interviews with tennis legend, Martina Navratilova, golf great, Jack Nicklaus, Olympic gymnastics icon, Nadia Comaneci, track and field star, Edwin Moses, and Dutch Paralympian, Esther Vergeer, as well as archival footage of their most exciting moments at the Olympics, Wimbledon, the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open, Roland Garros and the Paralympics, the film explores why some athletes achieve greatness.


Official Short Film Selections

168 HOURS
Director: Adam Russell
Country: USA, Running Time: 7:45min
(Buena Vista High School)

A NEW HOME
Director: Ziga Virc
Country: Slovenia, Running Time: 14min
What is the biggest danger Europe faces: the crisis on its borders, or its own paranoia and fear?

THE BATHTUB (DieBadewanne)
Director: Tim Ellrich
Country: Germany, Running Time: 13min
Three brothers in a bathtub try to dive back into their idealized past through an old family picture.

CROP SWAP
Director: Haylie Bantle
Country: USA, Running Time: 4:10min
(Carlsbad High School)

HERE WE GO AGAIN
Directors: Johan T. Anderson, Nathan Cohen
Country: USA, Running Time: 6:26min
Short dance film that explores love and intimacy between couples throughout New York City's beautiful cityscape. It follows one man as he looks to the relationships of others for answers to his own romantic struggles.

HUM
Director: Tom Teller
Country: USA, Running Time: 8:30min
(Chapman University)

HUSH
Director: Whitney Clinkscales
Country: USA, Running Time: 14:14min
(Florida State University)

THE LEARNING ALLIANCE
Director: Muhammad Umar Saeed
Country: Pakistan, Running Time: 8:39min
Collecting garbage for earning and paying their fees for school. Three brothers who are changing their future by studying and at the same time selling garbage in Lahore, Pakistan. The Learning Alliance is a portrait of children with dreams and their struggle towards achieving it.

LOST IN BLUE
Director: Gabriel Gaurano, Navin Bose, Kai Czarnowski, Akeel Najimudeen
Country: USA, Running Time: 8:18min
(Canyon Crest Academy)

MADE FROM SCRATCHED – THE STORY OF SPEXWAX
Directors: Mark Susan, Kaard Bombe
Country: USA, Running Time: 5:03min
Film profiles company and the people that make one-of-a-kind glasses frames out of vinyl records.

MORE THAN GOD
Director: Kev Cahill
Country: Ireland, Running Time: 9min
A pious Doctor is forced to deal with a family matter whilst hiding under the bed of a stranger.

THE ORCHESTRA
Director: Mikey Hill
Country: Australia, Running Time: 15min
In a world filled with beautiful and harmonious music, elderly Vernon always seems to strike the wrong note.

PHIL’S CAMINO
Directors: Annie O’Neal, Jessica Lewis
Country: USA, Running Time: 28min
A colorful and affecting short doc about a free spirit who wants to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain, while facing Stage 4 cancer in his hometown of Seattle. Told he shouldn't do the walk, he builds his own Camino in the forest behind his house and ends up walking the same distance (about 500 miles).

PICKLE
Director: Amy Nicholson

Country: USA, Running Time: 15min
Pickle is an ode to man's capacity to care for all creatures throughout their sometimes greatly protracted existence until their occasionally sudden and unfortunate demise.

REFLEX CAMERA
Director: Yoomi Kim
Country: USA, Running Time: 3min
Film shows contrast between positive negative moments. Inspired by Joe Hisaishi’s style.

THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE JOB (La tête de l’emploi)
Director: Wilfred Méance
Country: France, Running Time: 8min
Jean is waiting a interview for a job with Remi.

SITUATIONAL
Director: Scott Simonsen
Country: USA, Running Time: 21min
Dark comedy about depression in which one roommate kidnaps another to 'cure' him with a sunrise over the ocean.

SOMEWHERE TO BE
Director: Nick DeCell
Country: USA, Running Time: 15:13min
(Florida State University)

SUPER SEX
Director: Matthew Modine
Country: USA, Running Time: 9min
It's always hard to find something for a dad (Ed Asner) who has everything. He says he just wants to be loved. So, his children (Kevin Nealon and Elizabeth Perkins) provide it in a way they never before imagined—Super Sex!

THE UNFORGIVEN
Director: Jason Piccioni
Country: USA, Running Time: 9min
Stuck in purgatory, a cynical angel is assigned to save the soul of a low level criminal. But when the devil turns up, he is forced to confront his own skepticism.

VIOLET
Director: Maurice Joyce
Country: UK, Running Time: 7:55min
Violet' is the haunting, cautionary tale of a young girl who despises her reflection.

WARNING LABELS
Director: Jennifer Morrison
Country: USA, Running Time: 14min
Two workers for the Center For Disease Control meet for drinks, only to discover that love is the most hazardous thing of all.

WHAT ONCE WAS
Director: Sean Penberthy
Country: USA, Running Time: 21:27min
Marooned on an abandon earth, a group of astronauts finds that their greatest threat isn't the environment, but each other.

ABOUT THE LA COSTA FILM FESTIVAL
The fourth annual La Cost Film Festival Festival is operated through La Costa Dreams, Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit public benefit corporation based in Carlsbad, California. It is dedicated to providing world class cinema, red carpet excitement, nightly galas, and an unmatched Hollywood experience in a coastal destination paradise. The Festival is especially appreciative of its partnerships with: their host the Omni La Costa Resort & Spa; Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas; the City of Carlsbad; and the San Diego County Supervisors for their strong support

SOCIAL MEDIA
Facebook: facebook.com/LaCostaFilmFestival
Instagram: instagram.com/LaCostaFilmFestival
Twitter: twitter.com/LaCostaFilmFest
Website: www.lacostafilmfestival.org
Hashtag: #LCFF16

Among The Believers opens Friday

This a repost of the review that we ran last year during the Tribeca Film Festival

Disturbing look at the religious extremism that is being fostered in the Red Mosque in Pakistan. Shot in part inside the carefully guarded mosque the film shows us Maulana Aziz, as he prepares for a holy war not only in the country but across the world. We also see inside the madrassas, the religious schools, run by the mosque where children memorize the Koran all day.

Showing another facet to Pakistani life like FIGHT OF THE FALCONS or EVERY LAST CHILD, this film is a punch in the gut. We see how the cause is perpetuated thanks to the teaching methods which are a form of mind control and to parents who turn their kids over to the zealots, not because they believe but simply the teaching is free and offers their kids a chance at least one good meal a day. Its a chilling thought that the need to feed your kids is turning them into mindless killers.

I was moved by the film, though having sat through the two films I mentioned above I was very aware of much of what the film has to say-but I was also deeply disturbed for while I knew what was happening, I never really understood that even the leading voice for this kind of thought refused to fully explain why he believes what he does beyond its the law. Its clear he doesn't have a good reason for it since despite the fact they are having the children in their care memorize the Koran they aren't telling them what it says- its in Arabic and they speak Urdu- a fact made plain when one of the students says he has no idea what he's memorizing.

A good many of the people in the audience of critics were so bothered by the film they sat shell shocked by what the film showed. Many people left the theater when it was done despite having had plans to see the rest of the days offerings, they simply had to get out into the daylight and a place where armed people wren't trying to suppress the masses. Those that stayed ended up in deep discussions about how this sort of extreme hate could be stopped.

A must see film for anyone who wants to know where some of the religious discord is coming from.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Nightcap 9/25/16- The New York Film Festival starts Friday


The New York Film Festival opens Friday and we at Unseen Films are locked and loaded.

As we’ve done for the last seven years we’re going to be in the fray and bringing you reports. We should be at most of the big films in one way or another-so if you can’t schlep to New York you can check here for details on the films and the screenings. We’re aiming big to the point that I’ve kidnapped Nate Hood and tied him to a chair in the Walter Reade theater. I’ve promised to let him go only if he helps us out with coverage of the festival.

On a more serious note- while we are aiming for our typical level of coverage I’m not sure how close we’re actually going to get to our typical fifty plus events. Changes in the festival programming coupled some films not screening for the press and real world commitments have limited what we can get to. I won’t even speculate as to how much there will be but I can assure you that we’ll have reports from public screenings and press conferences from a spectrum of films. I’m also hoping to have an interview or two as well.

I should mention that I am doing about half of my personal coverage of the festival at public screenings. I’m doing it for two reasons

First, the press conferences for the last few years all ended up on Youtube so going to a press screening simply means having to get up at 5 am to see a movie with a lot of sleep depted people. Besides the filmmakers are at the public screenings and magical things happen there.

The other more important thing is that the festival is about the fans and not the critics. Seeing films with a real audience is different experience and gives a better idea how things really are since NYFF audiences will tell it like it is even to the point of calling for a filmmakers death (I’ve seen it)

Nate and I are still wending our way through the press screenings and we both have public ones to go as well. While we are still have a lot of films to see there are some films which we consider must sees:

I DANIEL BLAKE is according to Nate the best Ken Loach film in decades. He loves it so much he can't stop talking it up.

UNCLE HOWARD portrait of Howard Brookner who made the classic BURROUGHS. It stunning portrait of a filmmaker who died much too early. This was a film that had me on Twitter telling people to see it. I also emiled every one I could saying to cover it.

If you've never seen THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS you should not because it's a work of art but because it's a damn good thriller

HISSAN HABRE is a cross between SHOAH in it's reporting by survivors and the films of Joshua Oppenheimer in its style either way the film is a kick in the teeth and not for the squeamish.

DAWSON CITY FROZEN IN TIME is one of my favorite films of 2016. Its one of Bill Morrison's best films. You must see it as big as you can. This story of Dawson City in the Yukon Territory told through pictures news paper accounts and the movies they watched-literally- for a huge cache of nitrate reels were found buried in the city. I don't have space here to do it justice so just buy a ticket and take the ride. It stunned many of us at the press screening

I suggest that if you want to follow our coverage of unvarnished reporting book mark the NYFF 2016 tag below and check back daily starting Thursday