DOC NYC 2020 review: ‘A Crime on the Bayou’ is required viewing.

 

A Crime on the Bayou

It’s 1966 in Plaquemines Parish, a swampy strip of land south of New Orleans. A young Black fisherman, Gary Duncan, tries to break up a fight between white and Black teenagers outside a newly integrated school. He gently lays his hand on a white boy’s arm and the boy recoils like a snake. That night, police arrested 19-year-old Gary Duncan for assault on a minor.

I wish I didn’t have to call a film timely, but I do. It’s only fitting in this case. A Crime on the Bayou highlights the enduring systemic racism in America. This is Gary Duncan‘s story. This is Richard Sobol‘s story. Duncan’s case is one of the most egregious to come to court. A simple touch of the elbow became a civil rights case that would blow up a small Louisiana town and make its way all the way to the Supreme Court. Civil rights lawyers worked hand-in-hand with the community to fight for fairness. They’re still trying. Local Plaquemines Parish leader Leander Perez was the epitome of white supremacy. When you discover the extent of his sick ideology, it will make your head explode. It sounds like what we’ve been hearing from The White House since 2016… A lot like it. The film is comprised mostly of footage from the 1960s, readings of court transcripts, and present-day sit-down interviews with almost all of the key players in this unprecedented case. But in truth, it’s the same old story; racist white men asserting control over the black population (and anyone that is their ally). In one particular interview with Lolis Eric Elie, son of famed civil rights lawyer Lolis Elie, he recalls never having “the talk” about how to handle being questioned by a police officer. “How often do you talk about humidity? Well, it’s always there.”

Has anything changed since then? It certainly doesn’t feel like it. A Crime on the Bayou might as well be titled “Sleeping in an Ivy League Common Room”, “Sitting in Starbucks”, or “Count My Vote”. This was revenge for Gary Duncan standing up for himself. Pure and simple. It’s infuriating and inspiring. It’s exhausting but important. Gary Duncan should be a household name. So should Richard Sobol’s. A Crime on the Bayou should be shown in every classroom in America.

You can get tickets for A Crime n the Bayou at DOC NYC 2020 here

Directed by: Nancy Buirski
Featuring: Gary Duncan, Richard Sobol, Leander Perez, Lolis Eric Elie, Armand Derfner
Executive Produced by: John Legend, Brenda Robinson (President of the IDA)

A Crime on the Bayou is the third film in director Nancy Buirski’s trilogy profiling brave individuals who fought for justice in and around the Civil Rights era, following The Loving Story and The Rape of Recy Taylor. Together this trilogy demonstrates that regular people standing up for their values are the root of progress. Mildred Loving, Recy Taylor and Gary Duncan did not set out to change history. But they remind us that anyone can.

Review: ‘Toxic Beauty’ documentary reiterates that beauty is pain… and the industry knows all about it.

Synopsis: Toxic Beauty reveals the harmful health consequences of chemicals found in everyday cosmetic and beauty products, the huge corporations that knowingly use them and the lack of governmental regulations to protect consumers.

The first thing I did after the credits of Toxic Beauty rolled was rabidly google chemical names of the ingredients on the labels of our products. I filled a garbage can with bottles of all shapes and sizes. What have I been putting into my and my family’s systems?

Johnson & Johnson is one of the largest beauty corporations in the world. The class-action lawsuit against them for not informing the public of the toxic ingredients in their talc has caused an uproar and rightly so. What did they know and when did they know it? The answers will shock you. We meet a group of women, including the whistleblower herself, Deane Berg, who have been diagnosed with cancer because if their use of Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder. The most recent class-action lawsuit is one of the largest in history so why in the hell is this product still on the shelves?! The FDA is being bought off to block the truth. Unsurprisingly, there is a plethora of evidence. The film validly ties this to the lies we were told from the tobacco industry. The same chemicals in cigarettes are hiding in lotions, toothpaste, shampoo, makeup, and soap. The list goes on and on.

The film also follows Mymy Nguyen, a young woman who is about to be a med student at Boston University. She decides to be the subject of her own experiment, testing the chemical levels of her daily beauty routine, a detox, and then her use of alternative self-care products. Juxtaposed with scientists that have been tracking this for years, Toxic Beauty is scary and informative.

Toxic Beauty shines a spotlight on the industry, the American government, and our own personal responsibility to do a little research to protect the environment, ourselves, and our children. It challenges the early indoctrination of beauty standards. Write/Director Phyllis Ellis has put together an eye-opening documentary.

TOXIC BEAUTY

Directed by Phyllis Ellis
Out on Digital and On-Demand 1/28
Documentary | 90 Minutes

DOC NYC review: ‘TO KID OR NOT TO KID’ is about supporting women.

Parenting is not for everyone. Some women are adamantly against having children. There is a stigma that’s attached to that choice. TO KID OR NOT TO KID speaks directly to that choice and the backlash it predominantly receives.  How does this choice affect others and more importantly, is it anyone’s else’s right to have an opinion on the matter at all? When I was younger, I thought I’d never have children. It wasn’t until I was 26 and was riding the subway when I saw a baby in a knitted strawberry hat and my body ached. Boom. I knew I was meant to be a mother. But it wasn’t until almost 10 years later that I actually gave birth. I was busy traveling the world, using the best equipment, like the best coolers for the money you can get (much like filmmaker Maxine Trump) The only difference is I already knew I’d regret it.

The film explores not only the decision but the potential for that regret. It also addresses the fears that all women have about losing their identity. As someone who is a SAHM to two kids under three, 15months apart,  there are many days I feel like “I’m just Mom.” I yearn for adult conversation and most definitely experience postpartum anxiety. Thankfully, the film also addresses these emotions. It doesn’t skirt the conversation about getting pregnant and the potential difficulties involved. Motherhood is endless judgment. But so is the opposite. A woman cannot win either way. We don’t judge men in the same way, but I suppose that’s no surprise. Women’s rights are once again under scrutiny. Be it the government, doctors, the economy, the societal pressure to reproduce is unreal when you break it down by dollars and cents. Director Maxine Trump speaks with women from all backgrounds and life choices to see where they’re coming from as she tries to find her own truth about wanting to have kids with her husband. It’s an incredibly thoughtful film that made me feel more normal, frankly. TO KID OR NOT TO KID is wonderfully relevant in a time when women feel like they finally have more of a voice. The world is changing and women’s honesty will make the world a better place. We need to hold one another up not tear each other down. There are too many forces at hand already trying their best to divide us.

WORLD PREMIERE Filmmaker Maxine Trump turns the camera on herself and her close circle of family and friends as she confronts the idea of not having kids. While exploring the cultural pressures and harsh criticism child-free women regularly experience, as well as the personal impact this decision may have on her own relationship, Maxine meets other women reckoning with their choice: Megan, who struggles to get medical permission to undergo elective sterilization, and Victoria, who lives with the backlash of publicly acknowledging that she made a mistake when she had a child.

 

Official Site: https://www.tokidornottokid.com/
On Twitter: MaxineTrump
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tokidornottokid/
Director: Maxine Trump
Producer: Josh Granger
Cinematographer: Maxine Trump
Editor: Maxine Trump
Running Time: 75
Language: English
Country: USA, England, Wales
Year: 2018

DOC NYC review: ‘FAMILY IN TRANSITION’ is more complicated than it appears.

This doc explores the boundaries we push for love and acceptance. Amit is a husband, a father, and business owner. She is also transgender. This story is about her transition and how it affects the family and friends that surround her. It’s a timely film here in the US as the government is attempting to legally discredit transgender identity by legally defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth. Amit has four children with her wife Galit. Daughter Agam is beyond wise for her years and the most vocal about their unique family dynamics. She understands that people’s ignorance is not her problem. She chooses to surround herself with open-minded peers. The emotional toll of transitioning seems endless. It has the highest highs and lowest lows. How does a marriage survive when circumstance completely changes? What happens after she goes to Thailand for gender reassignment surgery for a month? It’s not a glamorous film. It’s real, it’s honest. It’s exactly what people need to see. Family in Transition is a story of unconditional love and the ultimate sacrifices we make to become whole from the inside out.

DOC NYC International Premiere on November 11 / Opening Nov 16 in LA and Nov 23 in NY

Amit, a husband, and father of four, living in Nahariya, Israel, reveals to his family that he’s a transgender woman. Amit’s wife, Galit, decides to stick with Amit through this journey. Despite personal difficulties and social stigmas, the family insists on staying together, believing that love will overcome all difficulties.

DOC NYC review: ‘We Are Not Done Yet’ shines a spotlight on PTSD

HBO’s powerful new documentary short WE ARE NOT DONE YET, airing November 8thand produced by actor Jeffrey Wright (HBO’s Westworld), follows the stories of ten U.S. veterans striving to combat their traumatic military histories through art, poetry and performance. At a workshop led by poet Seema Reza and Community Building Art Works, they share their fears, vulnerabilities and victories, using the written word to heal, bond, encourage and empower. Their work culminates in a live performance at Washington D.C.’s Lansburgh Theater under the direction of Wright. As much of an activist as he is an actor, Wright produced the short and has been heavily involved with veteran organizations for years. He was so inspired by the group’s process and motivation during the workshop that he knew he had to get a camera crew inside and help share their stories.

There is something so cathartic about standing onstage and bearing one’s soul. When it’s your own written word it’s on another level. When the words are true, it’s the most powerful of all. WE ARE NOT DONE YET gives a literal voice to a group of veterans living with PTSD. They have used performance art to share their stories, lives, and emotions with an audience now far beyond the Lansburgh Theater. HBO has given us a gift in this short. It has opened the door for others to speak,  hope, and feel connected in a new way. Watching these fine people is nothing short of breathtaking. I’m not sure you can sit back and hold back the tears as a human being as you experience their trauma through their writing. Not of a moment of this film feels exploitative from an observer with zero military background. I’m hoping it reads the same for those who might believe they are alone. WE ARE NOT DONE YET aired this evening and will be available on HBO Now and HBO Go. This is important filmmaking. The message is clear. We cannot ignore the trauma, we must embrace it and do better for all our veterans.

Watch Now: Special conversation with Oscar-nominated director, Steve James about ‘Abacus: Small Enough to Jail’

VERA SUNG, JILL SUNG AND FATHER THOMAS SUNG IN THE SAFETY DEPOSIT BOX DEPARTMENT OF THEIR BANK IN A SCENE FROM OSCAR-NOMINATED “ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL” DIRECTED BY STEVE JAMES. PHOTO COURTESY OF PBS DISTRIBUTION/KARTEMQUIN FILMS

Last year, Liz reviewed this last much-needed documentary last November for DOC NYC. Available now on Amazon Prime. In any case, you can view a conversation with the director at 12:30 pm at https://www.westdoconline.com/steve-james-episode-6-live.

  • NOMINEE – STEVE JAMES, OUTSTANDING DIRECTING DIRECTORS GUILD OF AMERICA AWARDS
  • WINNER – BEST POLITICAL DOCUMENTARY CRITICS’ CHOICE DOCUMENTARY AWARDS
  • THREE NOMINATIONS CRITICS’ CHOICE DOCUMENTARY AWARDS
  • NOMINEE – BEST DOCUMENTARY NATIONAL BOARD OF REVIEW
  • NOMINEE – BEST DOCUMENTARY CHICAGO FILM CRITICS ASSOCIATION

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail tells the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York.

Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves – and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community – over the course of a five-year legal battle.

DOC NYC review: ‘A Murder in Mansfield’ is an emotional gut punch.

A MURDER IN MANSFIELD

WORLD PREMIERE Filmmaker Barbara Kopple explores the legacy of the 1989 murder of Noreen Boyle in Mansfield, Ohio. Her 12-year-old son Collier gave a devastating videotaped testimony blaming his father for the murder. Now, over two decades later, Collier returns to Ohio seeking to retrace his past and confront his imprisoned father, who remains in denial of his guilt. Collier’s depth of character is a wonder to behold from childhood to adulthood. Out of this tragic story, we witness the power of human resilience.
Collier Landry brings us on a journey no child should ever have to go on. 27 years after a horrific crime by the hands of his own father, we learn that Landry had the foresight to keep all the correspondence between the two, adding to the real life, emotionally manipulative drama that endured. This doc has some of the most graphic details shown to an audience as we are privy to the actual crime scene photos alongside Collier. While he attempts to come to terms with the truth about his father, he also explores the greater effect that violence leaves on a community. Through interviews with friends and family, the hold this event still has on so many is more than evident. Landry not only had his mother stolen from his life, not only his innocence, but an adoptive sister. As a viewer, I mourned right along with him at every turn. His determination is contagious and brave. Director Barbara Kopple yet again delves into the lives of people making waves, big and small. A Murder in Mansfield displays a sorrow and engages the detective we all have buried inside. It is both an honest portrait of grieving and a peak inside the chilling mind of a murderer.
Criminal defense lawyers sometime get a not-so-flattering portrayal because people assume that they defend guilty people. However, if you are a defendant in a criminal proceeding, you need the assistance of a qualified criminal defense lawyer, regardless of your guilt or innocence. As the protectors and advocates of the accused, defense lawyers play a pivotal role in the United States justice system to see that everyone charged with a criminal act has an opportunity to defend themselves.

 

Choosing and employing a criminal defense lawyer early on in any case is the best way to increase one’s probability of success in any criminal trial. Many of the more prominent people in society already have a battery of lawyers at their behest that spring into action whenever any legal problem arises. Click here if you want to find out more about deportation defense attorney.

You may not be one of these high profile people, and you may not have employed an attorney as of yet because a) you do not really have a need for them yet or b) they are, of course, too expensive to just have on hand. But even given this you will have to keep in mind that in the case of an impending criminal trial, choosing and hiring a good lawyer early on is your top priority.

In fact, even this top Tampa criminal defense lawyer believes that the outcome of your entire case may even hinge on whether this single matter alone. If you hire a lawyer early on, there is a chance that, due to his or her timely actions, there will be no need for any case and trial at all. You might just be able to dodge the bullet on time.

Your choice of lawyer can also affect the amount and quality of evidence that is allowable by law to police and investigators. This alone is reason enough to hire good lawyers with good grasp of such kinds of investigation practice. If you have been watching enough trial TV, you will notice that many trials drag on endlessly only to argue whether an evidence is acceptable in the court of law.

Look at the lawyer’s background. Does he or she have specialization in criminal defense? Just because on is an attorney does not mean that he or she automatically qualifies as a good criminal defense lawyer.

Lawyers are a lot like doctors. And the legal field is pretty much similar to the medical field. There is a host of specializations and fortes making having one lawyer adept at all close to impossible. And in the same wise that you wouldn’t trust a brain operation on a dermatologist, you should stick to a defense crime lawyer when you need such representation in cases.

Also look at past case performance to see if the lawyer is fit to represent you fully in your case. If the lawyer has had experience in cases similar to yours, and has been able to perform well and respectably, then that would be a good thing to look out for.

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MansfieldDocumentary/
Director: Barbara Kopple
Producer: Barbara Kopple, David Cassidy, Ray Nowosielski
Cinematographer: Gary Griffin, Tony Hardmon
Editor: Rob Kuhns
Running Time: 88
Language: English
Country: USA
Year: 2017

DOC NYC review: ‘A Better Man’ is an emotionally raw healing session.

A BETTER MAN

US PREMIERE  While they were a couple, Steve exposed Attiya to terrifying daily verbal and physical abuse. Twenty years later, they revisit their relationship in an intimate, therapeutic context, walking through the physical — and emotional — spaces they once inhabited together. As Steve is put in a position to acknowledge and take responsibility for the abuse, will Attiya complete her long process of healing and be liberated from her demons? A Better Man explores the revelatory potential of involving the abuser in domestic violence prevention.

If you’ve ever been a victim, A Better Man feels surprising and cathartic. While this is  Attiya and Steve’s story, Attiya becomes our emotional surrogate. With so many victims coming forward in this tumultuous climate, especially over the past year, this film is very timely. 1 in 2 women has experienced physical, verbal, emotional and/or sexual abuse in her lifetime. To have the opportunity to revisit an old relationship in a safe and constructive environment might not be on everyone’s bucket list, but I know from firsthand experience that I would gladly take part in such a chance… but perhaps that is a hasty statement. Until it is real, these are just words. Attiya is a brave woman. Steve is a remorseful man. Let it be known, I am not a fan of Steve here, but do acknowledge that not every abuser would be so open and willing to offer a public apology and seek counseling sitting directly across from his victim. A Better Man is a film that is important for audiences to see and I for one hope that they absorb it for the powerful piece it truly is.

Official Site: https://abettermanfilm.com/

On Twitter: ABetterManFilm
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ABetterManFilm/
Director: Attiya Khan, Lawrence Jackman
Producer: Christine Kleckner, Justine Pimlott
Cinematographer: Iris Ng
Editor: Lawrence Jackman
Music: Lesley Barber
Running Time: 78
Language: English
Country: Canada
Year: 2017

DOC NYC review: ‘Abacus: Small Enough To Jail’ will cause you to rage against the machine.

ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL

 Abacus Federal Savings Bank is a modest institution of New York’s Chinatown that came under harsh prosecution in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. While other banks were considered ‘too big to fail,’ Abacus was ‘small enough to jail.’ Filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams) follows the bank’s founder Thomas Sung and his family as they fight back in court against Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. in an effort to redeem their name and to dispel biases against Chinatown. Courtesy of PBS Distribution
Wall Street got a free pass, once again. But someone had to be made an example of. Most of us probably didn’t now that one bank was taken to court, but it’s no one you’ve ever heard of outside of Chinatown in Manhattan. In Abacus: Small Enough To Jail, the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished,” could not be truer. You will be witness to one family’s battle as they are thrown under the bus to save face.The film is filled with strong daughters who go to bat for their father, family honor, their employees, and community. It will floor you as you watch the bogus claims and prejudice that occurs because it seemed to be easier than taking on the Wall Street household names. Abacus: Small Enough To Jail will expose lies we’ve been fed for years. Get ready to rage.

Showtimes:

Wed Nov 15, 2017, 11:45 AM Cinepolis Chelsea
Official Site: https://www.abacusmovie.com
On Twitter: AbacusMovie
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abacusmovie
Director: Steve James
Producer: Mark Mitten, Julie Goldman
Cinematographer: Tom Bergmann
Editor: John Farbrother, David E. Simpson
Music: Joshua Abrams
Running Time: 88
Language: English, Mandarin & Cantonese with English subtitles
Country: USA
Year: 2016

DOCNYC review: ‘What Haunts Us’ is unfortunately a timely film.

Why are the men of Charleston, South Carolina’s Porter Gaud School killing themselves? Alarmed by the latest in a long-running series of suicides from her high school in 1979, filmmaker Paige Goldberg Tolmach returns to her hometown for answers. Stonewalled by administrators, she mines her own memories, and those of her former classmates, to uncover long-held secrets, revealing a disturbing cover-up centered around a popular teacher and sports coach.

With years of sexual assault/abuse allegations surrounding the current political administration and entertainment industry, let us not forget that this problem is pervasive anywhere and everywhere. The coverups go deep and pride and reputation often cause the guilty to go free. Shame is a killer of dreams and, as we see in What Haunts Us, it is also a killer of people. Unravelling the mystery that surrounds not even a well-kept secret in this particular story will anger and shock you. Along with intimate sit-down interviews with our subjects, both innocent and guilty, memories are illustrated in beautifully vibrant colors. What Haunts Us is a stunning film that will hopefully open eyes to the ongoing abuse so many face on a daily basis. We have to change our rhetoric and realize the consequences of staying silent.

WHAT HAUNTS US
at DOC NYC Film Festival
Monday
 Nov 13, 2017
7:30 PM with Q/A following with
Paige Goldberg Tolmach, Matt Tolmach and
Special Guests from the Film

IFC CENTER
323 6th Ave. New York, New York 10014

DOC NYC Review: ‘SWIM TEAM’ challenges our idea of winners and losers.

SWIM TEAM

To level the playing field, they had to get into the water.

Official Selection
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival 
*Winner – Best  Sports Documentary *
New Hampshire Film Festival
Heartland Film Festival 

Napa Valley Film Festival 
DOC NYC

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Synopsis
Demonstrating the power of inclusion to transcend disability, Lara Stolman’s triumphant film profiles members of the Jersey Hammerheads, a competitive swim team made up of a diverse group of teens on the autism spectrum, based in the state with the highest rate of autism in the country. Through training and competition, star athletes Mikey, Robbie and Kelvin gain self-confidence and social skills that serve them both in and out of the pool.

SWIM TEAM was selected for the Independent Filmmaker Project’s Project Forum in 2015 and in 2016 was selected to participate in the IFP Documentary Completion Lab. During production, filmmaking team received grants from New York Women in Film and Television, the Loreen Arbus Foundation and the Karma Foundation.

swim team pool still

SWIM TEAM is one of many recent forays into the challenging world of raising children on the autism spectrum. Films like Autism is Love and Life Animated visually bring us mostly into the the subjects’ present lives as adults. Swim Team follows 3 high school boys on their journey for acceptance and self actualization through a team sport. As a society, we must make sure that we aren’t lumping these children together. Broadly labeling them “on the spectrum” has become such a blanket term that it’s easy to categorize and limit them. If you listen to only “the experts” you might be hindering the individual growth and abilities of each child. Mikey, Kelvin, and Robbie are three completely different kids. Swimming for them is the continuation of learning discipline, self control, leadership, self esteem and a massive lot of life skills often overlooked in a school environment, so parents teach their son and daughters to swim from young age, there are even female swimming teams, so parents get Swimwear for Baby Girls and start teaching their girls from young age. We can all learn from director Lara Stolman‘s work. We need more insight as parents, teachers, administration on ways that we can help level the proverbial playing field at all times. Showing other children through our actions and words that we can all be more patient, loving, and understanding. Swim Team, through their journey to the Special Olympic games, will give you hope that kindness and heart can be a guiding light for families from all backgrounds. Autism doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care about race or socioeconomic background. The Hammerheads of New Jersey are a team of extraordinary kids, parents, and coaches trying to make a difference in the world one stroke at a time.

New York Premiere at DOC NYC in the Jock Docs Section
Thursday, November 17th at 7:30pm
SVA Theater: 333 West 23rd street, between 8th and 9th Avenues


Directed and Produced by: Lara Stolman (Portraits of Survival)
Co-Produced and Edited by: Ann Collins (Academy Award-nominated Sound and Fury)
Director of Photography: Laela Kilbourn (Twenty Feet From Stardom, American Teen, Emmy-nominated Word Wars)
Original Score by: Mark Suozzo (Metropolitan, Barcelona, Last Days of Disco, Love & Friendship, Sound and Fury)
Produced by: Shanna BelottFor more information, please visit: http://www.swimteamthefilm.com
Doc NYC Website: http://www.docnyc.net/film/swim-team
RT: 100 Minutes

Social Media:
Twitter: @SwimTeamTheFilm
Facebook: @SwimTeamTheFilm
#swimteamthefilm

bannerswimteam

DOC NYC Review: ‘AFTER FIRE’ proves that women in the military are not equal.

doc-nyc-featured-image AFTER FIRE1_after-fire_key-image_laly-dc

Synopsis: Set in the military outpost of San Antonio, Texas, AFTER FIRE highlights the challenges faced by the fastest-growing group of American veterans: women, who now account for one in five new recruits to the U.S. Armed Forces. Demonstrating courage during their military service and resilience in its aftermath, Brittany Huckabee’s subjects candidly confront the fallout of their experiences on their personal lives as they adjust to the civilian world. The film throws a spotlight on the human toll of rape in the military, combat injuriesand bureaucratic dysfunction, telling a universal story about strength in the aftermath of trauma.
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Considering we have an individual heading into the highest office in the land that has repeatedly admitted on and off camera how much he disrespects women, how can we expect our female military personnel to feel any safer than they do now? With a long history of unreported sexual assault in the military, where 1 in 5 women reports PTSD, and 1 in 5 reports rape and MST or military sexual Trauma, how do we, as a country, ensure these brave people that we stand up for them? AFTER FIRE takes a peek into the lives of a few women living with the emotional and physical wounds of MST. The film addresses the gender inequality in an already broken V.A. system. The likelihood of a PTSD claim based on rape only has a 40% chance of being approved since the victims are held to a much higher standard of proof. How do these women survive after something so heinous? Mostly by putting on a brave face. One of the subjects explains that in the military you are, “trained to respond and react, and not to show any emotion about it.” So what happens in an environment dominated by men when only half of all assaults get reported to begin with, what can we do to change the system? We talk by listening. We start by believing. We start by standing up for one another. In this volatile moment in our American history, we need to start caring more about one another, come out into the light, and take action. AFTER FIRE shows us the slow torturous burn of keeping secrets and wearing emotionally scars on our sleeves. These women fight to protect us, the least we can do is protect them.2_after-fire_roberta-anthem

 RT: 90 Minutes
A Transform Films Inc. Production
World Premiere at DOC NYC in American Perspectives Section
Friday, November 11th at 7:00pm (IFC Center) – Premiere Screening
Monday, November 14th at 10:15am (IFC Center)
Film Subjects Expected to Attend Premiere: Valerie Sullivan, Roberta Castaneda, Laly Cholak, Kevin Sullivan

Liz’s Review: ‘HOMME LESS’ is worth far more than 1000 words.

hommelessposter

From his dapper appearance and his suave sensibilities, you’d never guess that Mark Reay is homeless in NYC. Using a YMCA locker room as his bathroom and personal storage system, Mark is able to blend seamlessly into the upper echelon of New York’s fashion and film business. As a former model, he hustles the streets of Manhattan as a photographer and smooth talker. Genuinely talented and extremely good looking, Mark’s adaptability to his circumstances is astounding and certainly commendable. He lives in secret on a friend’s rooftop, enduring the changing weather and fearing, each night, that he may be found out and forced to find somewhere else to survive the nights. He lives off his extraordinary photography skills, acting residuals, and his uncanny ability to cold approach beautiful women, for both personal and professional rewards.

Mark Reay BY GREG SCAFFIDI

Mark Reay BY GREG SCAFFIDI

HOMME LESS follows Mark’s ventures as he narrowly eludes the total collapse of the very existence he has built for himself. His emotional highs and lows drive the heart of this doc. As New Yorkers, we most definitely have a built up image of what it  means to look homeless. It’s the man in the subway station that wreaks of urine, is dirty, and oftentimes muttering to himself, or yelling incoherently on a street corner. Mark is the penultimate opposite of these images. Clean cut, eloquent, genuine, resourceful. You route for him at each turn as we tag along on his day to day routine, using every networking trick known to man. I would hang out with Mark in a heartbeat. He is optimistic, as much as any one man can be facing his current situation. I admire the hell out of him.

HOMME LESS_03

Director, Thomas Wirthensohn, has been friends with Mark for 20 years, since their modeling days back in Europe. When the two reconnected over drinks, Thomas had no idea that Mark was homeless. The two decided to take a new journey together in making this fascinating documentary. Wirthensohn is very careful to stay at arm’s length, which must have been extra difficult already being so emotionally invested in his subject. One of the toughest things you hear from documentary filmmakers is the challenge they face in trying to stay objective. There are quite a few moments in the film that directly address this issue and I commend Wirthensohn for his efforts.

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HOMME LESS is a beautifully shot portrait of one man’s journey to not only survive, but thrive, in this big city. As someone who has lived here on and off since college, I can only imagine having to do what Mark does on the daily. Living paycheck to paycheck takes on a whole new meaning in this film. I highly recommend you catch this documentary this weekend. It will rattle around in your brain and, if you happen to live in NYC, make you wonder if you’ll run into Mark any day soon. It would be my pleasure to buy him dinner and a drink… and then book him for new headshots.

HOMME LESS Trailer from Thomas Wirthensohn on Vimeo.

Synopsis: HOMME LESS is about the underbelly of the American Dream, the hidden backyard of our society. Mark’s life stands as a metaphor for the struggle of the vanishing middle class in America. But it’s also a film about the relationship between New York City and one of its residents. New York is not simply a beautiful backdrop for this story. She’s the antagonist that dictates the direction Mark’s life is going in. The joy and pain, the love and hate, the success and denial New York is teasing him with, the hardship he is going through in order to stay in her grace and the inventiveness he comes up with to be with her are all unique.

HOMME LESS captures a raw and unfiltered moment in time, our time, and raises the question of how far are we from losing everything, even our homes? How often do we have to pretend that everything is fine in order to keep up the facade of being a well-off member of society? And how far do we go to take the financial pressure off our shoulders to live a more carefree life, a life we aspire to live?

What went wrong in Mark’s life? How is he able to keep up his facade of success and fool everyone?  What keeps him from going under? What motivates him to put up with this rather unthinkable situation?  What were and are his hopes and desires in life?

Mark stands lost and alone in the midst of eight million dreams, balanced between the glamorous surfaces of this vibrant and inspiring city and its far from glamorous hidden backyard. He is the HOMME LESS

Opening at the IFC Center on August 7th

DOC NYC: November 13-20 – ‘Citizen FOUR’ – ‘Banksy Does New York’ – ‘Do I Sound Gay?’ – ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ – Newly Restored ‘Hoop Dreams’

DOCNYC-Poster-FINALTickets:
Tickets for all screenings are on sale now. Advance tickets for all DOC NYC films and events are available online at docnyc.net or in-person at the IFC Center box office, 323 Sixth Ave. (at West 3rd St.). Day-of tickets are available at the respective screening venues.
Ticket prices: Opening night screening of Do I Sound Gay? – $30. Closing Night screening of The Yes Men Are Revolting – $25. Regular screenings – $17 adults, $15 seniors/children, $14 IFC Center members. Doc-A-Thon Panels and Masterclasses – $12 adults, $10 seniors, $9 IFC Center members and students. Read More →