CineCina Film Festival 2019 opens Friday. Here’s what to expect this year.

CINECINA FILM FESTIVAL 2019

The CineCina Film Festival will begin this Friday. Here are the official selections for the second year of the New York City-based film festival, which takes place October 25-November 3.

Dedicated to presenting the best in world cinema, the introduction of new international filmmakers to New York and the United States, and the celebration of past masters, this year’s edition of the film festival will open with Elia Suleiman’s Palestinian Oscar selection for 2019, IT MUST BE HEAVEN, and will close with a special 10th Anniversary presentation of Samuel Maoz’s LEBANON. A digitally restored version of King Hu’s 1979 classic RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN will make its U.S. Premiere as the Centerpiece Screening.

The CineCina Film Festival’s highly curated fest includes a main slate comprised of nine films, with five special presentations, representing 24 countries. With screening locations spread throughout the city, CinaCina films will be presented at; AMC Lincoln Square 13 (1998 Broadway); AMC Empire 25 (234 W. 42nd Street); SVA (333 W. 23rd Street); DGA New York Theater (110 W. 57th Street); and French Institute Alliance Française (22 E. 6oth Street).

CineCina Film Festival Founder and Director Vina Sun, said, “In our second year, we have created a ‘road’ theme meant to highlight our cinematic journey, the connection, and mutual communication platform we seek to build to boost film culture exchanges. Our programming has expanded to all world cinema beyond the Chinese focus we established with last year’s debut. That creative road also leads to our Horizon Project, meant to encourage and develop young filmmakers, as well as Master Class lectures, which will feature film artists like one of our special guests this year, Samuel Maoz.”

Suleiman’s whimsical, yet thoughtful film IT MUST BE HEAVEN will be the Opening Night presentation Friday, October 25 at the DGA New York Theater. The film features the beloved filmmaker observing the goings-on around him in Nazareth, Paris, and France. Through his eyes, we see moments, and fragments of life and human interaction that can surprise and delight one moment, and be very familiar the next.

A 40th Anniversary screening of King Hu’s RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN will be presented on Friday, November 1 at AMC Lincoln Square as the CineCine Film Festival’s Centerpiece Screening. Voted as one of the “100 Greatest Chinese Films” by the Hong Kong Film Awards. Beautifully photographed, the film is set in a Buddhist monastery during the Ming Dynasty in turmoil over who will be appointed as the next abbot. And tensions only get worse when someone steals a venerated sutra from the Buddhist scriptures.

Maoz’s LEBANON won numerous awards during it’s release ten years ago, including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. The claustrophobic and bitingly tense drama places us with an Israeli army unit in a tank during a mission to Lebanon. With a POV relegated to what can be seen from the perspective of the cramped soldiers in the tank, the atrocities of war mix with a veritable stew of humanity inside the tank itself. The film will serve as the Closing Night selection when it screens Sunday, November 3 at French Institute Alliance Française.

Two North American premieres head the main slate selection of films. Takahisa Zeze’s THE CHRYSANTHEMUM AND THE GUILLOTINE follows two female sumo wrestlers trying to escape the abuses of their past, while two other women – members of an anarchist group start to watch their wrestling matches.

Lu Zhang’s FUKUOKA looks at two old schoolmates reconnecting, a mysterious woman who enters the picture and the love triangle that ensues. Zhang is set to attend the screening on Friday, November 1 at AMC Lincoln Square.

Other highlights include Lisa Zi Xiang’s award-winning A DOG BARKING AT THE MOON, about a Chinese family saga, commencing with the wife’s discovery of her husband’s homosexuality. The film was a winner at Berlin, aGLIFF, and Inside Out, among other film festivals.

Yinan Diao’s THE WILD GOOSE LAKE (which you can read a review for here, deserves to be seen in a theater!) will be the focal point of a Special Halloween event at SVA. The stylish Chinese crime noir is about a gang leader on the run and a girl in trouble ready to risk everything to change her luck.

Regarding the main slate of selections, CineCina Film Festival Co-Director of Programming Frank Yan, said, “These films are all gems that we enjoyed and were inspired by at major film festivals around the world. In the spirit of ‘the road’, we felt it was important that their road led to a screening here for the great and discerning film fans in New York City.”

Rounding out the Special Screenings, Halloween will also feature a 30th Anniversary presentation of John Woo’s influential classic THE KILLER. Chow Yun-Fat’s disillusioned assassin accepts one last hit in hopes of using his earnings to restore vision to a singer he accidentally blinded, only to be double-crossed by his boss.

Naoko Yamada’s A SILENT VOICE will be screened as a special Tribute to Kyoto Animation. In the film, a young man loses friends after he bullies a deaf girl so much she moves away. As an adult, he decides he must make amends. The CineCina Film Festival will donate all proceeds from the screening to assist in the reconstruction of Kyoto Animation, which recently suffered a disastrous fire to their production offices in Japan.

Serif Gören and Yilmaz Güney’s YOL (1982) will also be the subject of a special screening which will mark the U.S. premiere of a newly-restored digital print of the film. YOL is about five Turkish prisoner who face oppression from everyone during a one-week leave, won the Palme d’Or at Cannes as well as an award from the National Board of Review.

Film festival passes and tickets are on-sale now. To purchase passes or tickets to individual screenings go to: https://cine-cina.co/tickets/.

The 2019 CineCina Film Festival official selections:

Opening Night Selection

IT MUST BE HEAVEN                                                           New York Premiere

Director: Elia Suleiman

Countries: France/Palestine/Qatar/Germany/Canada/Turkey, Running Time: 97 minutes

Filmmaker Elia Suleiman travels to different cities and finds unexpected parallels to his homeland of Palestine.

Centerpiece Selection

RAINING IN THE MOUNTAIN (1979)

Director: King Hu

Countries: Taiwan/Hong Kong, Running Time: 120 min

An esquire and a general both eye a priceless handwritten scroll by Tripitaka, held in a temple library. The Abbot of the Temple selects his successor.

Closing Night Selection

LEBANON (2009)

Director: Samuel Maoz

Countries: Israel/Germany/France/UK, Running Time: 93 min

During the First Lebanon War in 1982, a lone tank and a paratroopers platoon are dispatched to search a hostile town.

MAIN SLATE

AWAY                                                                                     New York Premiere

Director: Gints Zilbalodis

Country: Latvia, Running Time: 75 min

A boy and a little bird are on a journey across a strange island trying to get back home.

THE CHRYSANTHEMUM AND THE GUILLOTINE             North American Premiere

Director: Takahisa Zeze

Country: Japan, Running Time: 189 min

After the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923, a troupe of female sumo wrestlers, including Tomoyo and Tamae arrive in the area near Tokyo. Meanwhile, an anarchist group, including Tetsu and Daijiro go to watch the female sumo wrestlers compete and become fascinated by them.

A DOG BARKING AT THE MOON

Director: Lisa Zi Xiang

Countries: China/Spain, Running Time: 107 min

A Chinese family saga, told in different periods of time, commencing with the wife’s discovery of her husband’s homosexuality. When her adult daughter comes to visit, other secrets slowly come to light.

THE FACTORY                                                                      New York Premiere

Director: Yuriy Bykov

Countries: Russia/France/Armenia, Running Time: 109 min

When a factory is about to close, a group of workers decides to take action against the owner.

FUKUOKA                                                                             North American Premiere

Director: Lu Zhang

Countries: South Korea/Japan, Running Time: 88 min

A film about a middle-aged man’s retrospect to his past, two Koreans’ trip to Fukuoka, and three people’s reconciliation with love.

THE MAGIC LIFE OF V                                                         New York Premiere

Director: Tonislav Hristov

Countries: Finland/Denmark/Bulgaria, Running Time: 87 min

Documentary follows a young woman haunted by childhood trauma, who learns how to face that past and become more independent as she helps her mentally disabled brother through live-role-playing.

TAKE ME SOMEWHERE NICE                                             New York Premiere

Director: Ena Sendijarevic

Countries: Netherlands/Bosnia and Herzegovina, Running Time: 91 min

A Dutch girl of Bosnian descent travels to Bosnia to visit her sick father. It will be the first time they will see each other.

THE WILD GOOSE LAKE

Director: Yinan Diao

Countries: China/France, Running Time: 113 min

A gang leader on the run seeking redemption. A girl in trouble risking everything to gain her freedom. Both hunted on the hidden shores of The Wild Goose Lake. They set a deadly gamble for what may be their last day.

SPECIAL SCREENINGS

THE KILLER (1989)

Director: John Woo

Country: Hong Kong, Running Time: 111 min

A disillusioned assassin accepts one last hit in hopes of using his earnings to restore vision to a singer he accidentally blinded, only to be double-crossed by his boss.

A SILENT VOICE (2016)

Director: Naoko Yamada

Country: Japan, Running Time: 130 min

A young man is ostracized by his classmates after he bullies a deaf girl to the point where she moves away. Years later, he sets off on a path for redemption.

YOL (1982)

Directors: Serif Gören, Yilmaz Güney

Countries: Turkey/Switzerland, Running Time: 113 min

When five Turkish prisoners are granted one week’s home leave, they find to their dismay that they face continued oppression outside of prison from their families, the culture, and the government.

About CineCina Film Festival (CCFF)

CineCina Film Festival (CCFF) is the only New York-based film festival dedicated to promoting excellent Chinese films. Founded in 2018, it was conceived by a group of young film scholars and filmmakers
active in New York. CCFF aims to bring the best international films to New York. Starting from the exhibition of wonderful Chinese films, the committee of CineCina is committed to making CCFF a platform for the export of Chinese culture, and increasing opportunities for the development and distribution of Chinese films in North America. Meanwhile, CineCina is going to expose the rapid development of Chinese film to more audiences, and enlarge the influence of Chinese cultural industry in North America.
At the same time, CineCina is devoted to becoming the entry point in the development of many a young filmmaker. Through exploring young filmmakers and supporting the development of potential new films, it established a platform for young Chinese directors to display their works.

Review: Meet the ‘Tree Man’ who works every Christmas selling trees in New York City

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Every holiday season, hundreds of Christmas tree sellers from across North America descend upon the streets of New York City to ply their trade. Having left their homes and families behind, they endure the adversity of a migrant’s survival living out of their cars and vans. François, a Tree Man and father of three from Québec, returns to the same Manhattan street corner every year to deliver the magic of the season.

Long days, cold nights and living in a van for a month. This documentary follows François, a father of three from Quebec, who is loved by his fellow tree sellers as well as his customers.

Tree Man is solely focused on the people of the NYC tree-selling institution. By following François, you’ll all meet the new generation learning from the veterans. There is a very short segment describing the general history of tree-selling in NYC, but it’s only a taste.

I was also interested in learning more of François’ history and also the turmoil of leaving every year. It’s a nice human interest story.

Also recently added to Netflix, Tree Man is available Tuesday, December 6th on VOD and iTunes.

Francois the Tree Man is far from his wife and three small children in Quebec, selling Christmas trees and living in a van on the streets of New York City. He does it for them. But this is home, too. Like the hundreds of Christmas tree sellers who descend upon the city from Canada, New England and even Europe, Francois delivers the magic of the season over a grueling month in his adopted neighborhood, since Christmas is a special time of the year, people send gifts, and use services as portable north pole to get digital gifts for people. He’s a star, a storyteller, a Santa Claus in a sap-stained coat, a confidant, a friend, and a father figure to the local characters who are his New York family. They also need him. TREE MAN is the story of Francois’s journey, how he arrived here, what holds him, and the conflict that will cause him to leave. As one of Francois’ long-time customers says: “This has nothing to do with the trees anymore.”

[FLASHBACK] Tribeca Film Festival review & podcast: TUMBLEDOWN will win hearts and fans. Including the audio from our roundtable interview with Jason Sudeikis, Dianna Agron, Director Sean Mewshaw, and Writer Desiree Van Til.

Tumbledown

Music is part of our souls. It can heal, it can hurt, it’s like a sense memory. We’ve lost great artists in their prime like, Leonard Cohen, Kurt Cobain, and Elliot Smith. The impact of their death is felt each time we hear one of their songs. Imagine, for a moment, that your very favorite artist suddenly dies. Now imagine you were married to them. This is the very premise of TUMBLEDOWN. Hannah is the widow of indie folk singer Hunter Miles. She is hounded by gossip seekers on a daily basis. When Hofstra professor and true fan Andrew tries to get in touch with her, she brushes him off… and brushes him off again… and again. Only until realizing that her dream of writing Hunter’s story is one she cannot accomplish on her own, does she let her highly guarded heart open just a crack. Andrew and Hannah strike a deal; Andrew writes a biography on her terms for $50k. With the encouragement of his music industry girlfriend Finley, Andrew drives from NYC to Maine and moves into Hannah’s guest bedroom. He is then exposed to a world a true fan can only dream of, with one massive catch. Hannah will not stop mourning her late husband. Can fan and family see eye to eye. Can trust break down the walls of Hannah’s suffering? Will intellect stifle healing. In a film where it’s head vs heart, who wins?

Tumbledown_Press_1 TribecaRebecca Hall is flawless as Hannah. Witty, independent, strong headed, Hall plays a woman unwilling to move on with her life. Jason Sudeikis as Andrew is unstoppable. Smart, and quippy as ever, this role is something new for Sudeikis. I love this side of him and hope that the industry, and more writers, take note of his innate ability to be funny in a non-slapstick kind of way. These two are an absolute powerhouse as they match wits with one another in each scene. Rounding out an incredible cast is Dianna Agron as Finley. Life after GLEE fame should treat her well if she keeps up such a strong, believable presence on the big screen. Blythe Danner and Richard Masur play Hannah’s parents. Deeply supportive and yet totally realistic, these two are the perfect counter balance to Andrew’s inability to let go of presumption. Finally, Griffin Dunne plays Hannah’s editor and owner of the town beloved book shop. He brings warmth and charm only a small town holds.tumbledownjasonsudeikisrebeccahall

The film was 8 years in the making. Writer Desi Van Til thoughtfully crafted this story partly as a personal healing piece for a lost friend. She skillfully captures the heart of New England, the desperation of grief, and the hold that music has on everyone’s heart. For Director Sean Mewshaw, his first feature length film is a total success. It’s shot in such a way that truly shows the quaintness of the area. Finding “Hunter Miles” or singer Damien Jurado was one of his triumphs. He perfectly encapsulates the feel of the character that was created by Desi, Rebecca, Jason, and Sean. Coming in after the film was already in the can, with his music and lyrics, he “created” a musician we’re all discovering for the first time, but feel like we’ve now lost as well. It might also help that Sean and Desi are husband and wife! This team is a real tour de force and without any solid knowledge (only mere mentions) I predict many captivating projects coming down the pipeline from these two.

Grief is something so personal. No matter how big the hit we feel, it still leaves a hole in our hearts and souls. Sometimes music helps. Sometimes it’s a trigger. Either way, the songs live on long after we’re gone. So sing, I say. TUMBLEDOWN is easily in my top three narrative selections to come out the this year’s festival. It is a must see and definitely a must hear.jasonsudeikistumbledownrebeccahall


I was fortunate enough to attend a roundtable interview with Dianna Agron, Jason Sudeikis, Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw. We talk issues from the film, insight into the project’s journey, as well as Jason and Dianna’s other releases at the fest. Take a listen to the absolute joy around the table: *You can hear me ask a question about journalistic responsibility and one about Dianna’s similarities to the character of Hannah.* Enjoy the voices of TUMBLEDOWN!

Originally posted April 20, 2015

Review/Interview: OITNB star Nick Sandow talks ‘THE WANNABE’

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Presents

THE WANNABE

Respect isn’t earned. It’s stolen.

Written & Directed & Co-Starring Nick Sandow (Captuto on Orange is the New Black) Executive Produced by Academy Award Winner Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas) & Dean Devlin (Independence Day)

The wannanbe poster
No matter who we are, during our lives we have idolized a person. Perhaps in some cases, to a point that may border on the unhealthy. Orange Is The New Black star, Nick Sandow, has written and directed a new film where that idol is the infamous mobster John Gotti. Meet one man’s story of obsession and desperation to be somebody, in The Wannabe.
The wannabe still Patricia Arquette,Vincent Piazza

Based on true events and Executive Produced by Martin Scorsese and Dean Devlin, comes  a story about Thomas ( Vincent Piazza), a man obsessed with Mafia culture during the 1990s in New York City. When Thomas’s failed attempts to fix the trial of infamous mobster John Gotti gets him rejected by the people he idolizes most, he sets off on a drug infused crime spree with his girlfriend and long time mob groupie, Rose (Patricia Arquette), by brazenly robbing the local Mafia hangouts.

the-wannabe-Vincent Piazza

The film is perfectly paced by Sandow‘s writing. Coming up with the story after a friend sent him an article about the real life couple, The Wannabe is a “what might have happened” tale. Perfectly cast as Thomas, Vincent Piazza gives a fully fleshed out performance as a man who craves acceptance. When he doesn’t receive it, drugs lead to power hungry and dangerous life choices. Piazza’s time on Boardwalk Empire served him well in outlining his gangster look and the way he carried himself physically. We’re on the emotional roller coaster alongside him throughout. Patricia Arquette as Rose, is nothing less than brilliant. I am convinced that no matter what character you throw at her, she would own it. Her ease and presence on screen is unmatched, ever the scene stealer. Also, a Boardwalk alum, along with Sandow, it is clear that their chemistry as a trio makes the film as successful as it is.wannabe- Patrcia Arquette

I was privileged to interview Nick Sandow this week. Take a look at what he had to say about The Wannabe.


Liz: Firstly, Nick, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. The Wannabe is an incredibly successful story of audacious choices and personal delusion. Love the structure and style. So, congratulations on the film!

 Where is the line between truth and fiction with Thomas and Rose’s story?
Nick: The line is blurry. There were a handful of facts about a real couple that in the early nineties went around robbing mob social clubs. I was fascinated with how they got from A to Z. I just ran with the story and started to blend in real events that were going on at that time.
Liz: You write and direct this project. What was the biggest challenge in wearing both hats?
Nick: Writing and directing hats go very well together. I’ve directed things that I didn’t write and I have to work very hard to find my way into it. When you write it….. it’s yours…. you are already inside it. It has your DNA all over it so when it comes time to direct it I am attempting to take it further and trying to find another level of understanding with all the tools available.
Liz: Getting the script to Scorsese, wow. What was that moment like when he decided to come on board?
Nick: I couldn’t believe it. I still don’t. It’s hard to fathom. But what a gentle guiding spirit he is.
Liz: When writing, did you already have Vincent and Patricia in mind?
Nick:  I didn’t have them in mind at first but when they did come on board they were both very influential contributors to the rewriting process.
Liz: Was mob history an interest of yours prior to discovering this story?
Nick: Mob history wasn’t an interest. I grew up in a very similar neighborhood in the Bronx. So it was less an interest than a way of life.
Liz: How easy/difficult was it to shoot in the city for it being a period piece?
Nick: It was extremely difficult shooting a period piece in NYC on our budget in 20 days. It was all about finding the right locations. We had 35 location in 20 days. We were trying to find the 90s in the city and you really have to hunt for it. It’s there, you just have to get out into the boroughs. We shot in every one of them except Staten Island.
Liz: Have you ever been obsessed, for lack of a better word, with an individual in the way Thomas was?
Nick:  I’m not sure I was ever as obsessed as Thomas with one single person but I do very much identify with the desperation of wanting to be someone you are not. I’ve made a living out of doing that as an actor for 25 years. I understand where that obsession comes from… I had an outlet for it with acting.
Liz: You, as an actor, have a knack to for being cast as an authority figure, shall we say? Why do you think that is?
Nick: I’ve never really thought of this before. An authority figure….hmmmm. To be honest the first thing that pops into my head is that as a kid I always felt I needed to know the answers to survive. In many ways that served me and in many ways as a young person I feel it shut me down to learning as much as I could of. Maybe this is why? It’s only a guess. I really don’t know.
Liz: We are definitely excited for more Caputo action in Season 4 this June. We’re really rooting for something good to happen to this character! Outside of OITNB, what’s next for you?
Nick: Yes, there will be more Caputo in Season 4. It’s going to be a great season. I’m also excited about it.
Besides Orange, I am looking to shoot another film this spring. It’s a great script written by Frank Pugliese of House of Cards. It is the weekend in the life of a middle aged retired pro football player coming to grips with having Dimentia. I’m also working on a documentary about Kalief Browder who was wrongfully imprisoned for 3 years on Rikers Island from the age of 16 to 19.
Liz: That all sounds incredibly exciting! Thanks again for your time, Nick. ReelNewsDaily is looking forward to seeing more of you any way we can!

Starring:

Academy Award Winner Patricia Arquette (Boyhood),  Vincent Piazza (Boardwalk Empire), Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos),Domenick Lombardozzi (The Wire), David Zayas (Dexter) & Nick Sandow (Orange Is The New Black)

The Wannabe is now playing in select theaters nationwide and is available on all VOD platforms.

Review: ‘Shelter’ is Paul Bettany’s personal cry for us to wake up.

 

SHELTER

A film by Paul Bettany

ShelterPosterIn NYC, the homeless are a huge problem. If we’re being honest, most of us ignore them or wave them off and go about our lives. Paying $5 for a cup of coffee but turning our noses up at giving spare change to a person in need. It’s a cultural problem. It’s an epidemic that we have to face rather than pretend doesn’t exist. In Paul Bettany‘s brilliant directorial debut, SHELTER, we are brought into the lives of two homeless people who could not seem more different on the surface. 
Shelter-1

Tahir is a Nigerian immigrant making ends meet, whatever that means for a man who lives on the streets, by drumming on buckets in the park. He stumbles upon Hannah, a woman alone, gaunt, drug addicted, desperate to end it all. Tentatively, Hannah allows Tahir to be her protector and partner. The two fight their demons as a pair, struggling to keep their heads above water among the dangers of illness, judgement, the rules of the NYC shelter system, and the night. As the pair become closer, their stories become the anchors that keep them together but could just as easily tear them apart.

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Bettany‘s beautiful script comes from real life inspiration. Two homeless individuals, one black man and one white woman, lived outside his apartment in Tribeca. Each morning he would greet them until hurricane Sandy rolled into town. Bettany never saw them again. SHELTER was inspired by his longing to create the story of these two people who had now disappeared completely. Working with the Homelss Coalition NYC, he and Jennifer Connelly, who also happens to be his wife, learned what life is like for the more than 50,000 men, women, and children that slip through the cracks of a very broken system. With the gap between the rich and the poor widening at a pace that’s out of this world, this population is only going to grow exponentially as the months and years roll on. The script is incredibly bold and totally raw. Issues of faith and philosophy, human connection, and anonymity all come into play in a perfect storm of story-telling.

Shelter-4110.NEF

Shelter-4110.NEF

Anthony Mackie brings Tahir to life with a subtle power. He has a confidence and gentleness that is a gorgeous balance to Jennifer Connelly‘s more manic survivalist existence. Her effortless portrayal of Hannah will haunt you. The chemistry between Mackie and Connelly is played at the perfect pace as the story glides along. Both give a physically unafraid and impactful performance. You truly believe the two need one another to survive their own emotionally draining pasts. As one is introduced as caregiver and the other more victim, the film slowly and poetically evolves and the two switch places. Once again, as a directorial debut, this is an immaculate first go and should not go unnoticed. SHELTER will both bring you hope and ravage your heart. With a seductive score, effective script, and outstanding cast, the film will draw you in and perhaps cause you to lift up your head from your phone and pay attention a bit more often.

SHELTER comes to theaters today.

Written and directed by Paul Bettany

Produced by Robert Ogden Barnum, Paul Bettany, Katie Mustard, Daniel Wagner

Starring Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Mackie 

RT: 105min

Hannah and Tahir come from two different worlds. But when their lives intersect, they’re at the same place: homeless on the streets of New York. How did they get there? As we learn about their past, we begin to understand that to have a future, they need each other. There are more than 50,000 homeless people living on the streets and in the shelters of New York City. To most of us they are nameless and faceless, and occasionally a nuisance. But every single person has a story. And Hannah and Tahir are no different. And theirs is a story of loss, love, hope and redemption.

Review: ‘THE MEND’ shoves a mirror up to adulthood.

 

The Mend posterWhat happens when two self destructing brothers come face to face in a small NYC apartment? Chaos and truth are forced into the light in John Magary‘s first full length feature, THE MEND. Josh Lucas and Stephen Plunkett play mind games with one another and themselves in this existential mid-life crisis. The Mend still Stephen and JoshAlan and girlfriend Farrah are on their way out of town but not before throwing an intimate get together as a send off for their travels. Freeloading brother (and oftentimes asshole of a human) Mat shows up after his girlfriend Andrea kicks him out. The two are clearly estranged for reasons that come to light in subtle and brilliant ways as the story progresses. Alan and Farrah leave the next morning and Mat takes it upon himself to squat in the apartment, eventually inviting Andrea and her son Ronnie to join them. The small space leads to confessions on all parts when Alan returns sans Farrah. Three adults and one child in a one bedroom in the city is a sure fire recipe for some serious self analysis and confrontation. Booze, drugs, rage, pity, blame all come into play as these people face the cynicism of adulthood and circumstance. The Men Josh LucasLucas nails this role. His brash, disgusting habits and frankly haggard outwardly appearance make this role extra juicy. He is both unapologetic and somehow down to earth all at once. Plunkett tries to play cool and steady but he is not so secretly a mess. The blatant similarities between the two brothers becomes a beautiful revelation. Lucy Owen as Andrea is an emotional volcano and I loved everything about her vulnerability. Ronnie is played by the spectacular Cory Nichols. Another refreshing performance following up from Tribeca’s KING JACK. What a natural. Magary‘s script and ability to make the familiar seem new is so intriguing. Small seemingly mundane scenes are anything but. The Mend has this throwback feeling to it. Something about the mix of music and watered down hipster mentality makes it quite the work of art. You can catch The Mend today in NYC and next Friday in L.A., with a national release throughout the fall.

Synopsis:

For anyone who’s ever loathed and loved a sibling in equal measure, The Mend is the wonderfully strange and acidic debut comedy from writer / director John Magary. Shot through with the wicked humor and anarchy of Bruce Robinson’s Withnail & I and Mike Leigh’s Naked , The Mend follows a mismatched yin-yang pair of NYC brothers, loose cannon Mat (Josh Lucas in a career-best performance) and put-upon Alan (Stephen Plunkett) as they stagger dimly towards some understanding of love, women, masculinity and what it truly means to be a brother.

Featuring a gorgeous, minimalist score by Michi Wiancko & Judd Greenstein and beautiful, fluid cinematography by Chris Teague (Obvious Child), the film unfolds as three stylistically distinct but interwoven acts, each with its own mesmerizing rhythm. With superb supporting performances by Mickey Sumner (Frances Ha) and Lucy Owen as the brothers’ sharp-tongued girlfriends.

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

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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.

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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

Tribeca Film Festival review & podcast: TUMBLEDOWN will win hearts and fans. Including the audio from our roundtable interview with Jason Sudeikis, Dianna Agron, Director Sean Mewshaw, and Writer Desiree Van Til.

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Music is part of our souls. It can heal, it can hurt, it’s like a sense memory. We’ve lost great artists in their prime like, Leonard Cohen, Kurt Cobain, and Elliot Smith. The impact of their death is felt each time we hear one of their songs. Imagine, for a moment, that your very favorite artist suddenly dies. Now imagine you were married to them. This is the very premise of TUMBLEDOWN. Hannah is the widow of indie folk singer Hunter Miles. She is hounded by gossip seekers on a daily basis. When Hofstra professor and true fan Andrew tries to get in touch with her, she brushes him off… and brushes him off again… and again. Only until realizing that her dream of writing Hunter’s story is one she cannot accomplish on her own, does she let her highly guarded heart open just a crack. Andrew and Hannah strike a deal; Andrew writes a biography on her terms for $50k. With the encouragement of his music industry girlfriend Finley, Andrew drives from NYC to Maine and moves into Hannah’s guest bedroom. He is then exposed to a world a true fan can only dream of, with one massive catch. Hannah will not stop mourning her late husband. Can fan and family see eye to eye. Can trust break down the walls of Hannah’s suffering? Will intellect stifle healing. In a film where it’s head vs heart, who wins?

Rebecca Hall is flawless as Hannah. Witty, independent, strong headed, Hall plays a woman unwilling to move on with her life. Jason Sudeikis as Andrew is unstoppable. Smart, and quippy as ever, this role is something new for Sudeikis. I love this side of him and hope that the industry, and more writers, take note of his innate ability to be funny in a non-slapstick kind of way. These two are an absolute powerhouse as they match wits with one another in each scene. Rounding out an incredible cast is Dianna Agron as Finley. Life after GLEE fame should treat her well if she keeps up such a strong, believable presence on the big screen. Blythe Danner and Richard Masur play Hannah’s parents. Deeply supportive and yet totally realistic, these two are the perfect counter balance to Andrew’s inability to let go of presumption. Finally, Griffin Dunne plays Hannah’s editor and owner of the town beloved book shop. He brings warmth and charm only a small town holds.

The film was 8 years in the making. Writer Desi Van Til thoughtfully crafted this story partly as a personal healing piece for a lost friend. She skillfully captures the heart of New England, the desperation of grief, and the hold that music has on everyone’s heart. For Director Sean Mewshaw, his first feature length film is a total success. It’s shot in such a way that truly shows the quaintness of the area. Finding “Hunter Miles” or singer Damien Jurado was one of his triumphs. He perfectly encapsulates the feel of the character that was created by Desi, Rebecca, Jason, and Sean. Coming in after the film was already in the can, with his music and lyrics, he “created” a musician we’re all discovering for the first time, but feel like we’ve now lost as well. It might also help that Sean and Desi are husband and wife! This team is a real tour de force and without any solid knowledge (only mere mentions) I predict many captivating projects coming down the pipeline from these two.

Grief is something so personal. No matter how big the hit we feel, it still leaves a hole in our hearts and souls. Sometimes music helps. Sometimes it’s a trigger. Either way, the songs live on long after we’re gone. So sing, I say. TUMBLEDOWN is easily in my top three narrative selections to come out the this year’s festival. It is a must see and definitely a must hear.


 

I was fortunate enough to attend a roundtable interview with Dianna Agron, Jason Sudeikis, Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw. We talk issues from the film, insight into the project’s journey, as well as Jason and Dianna’s other releases at the fest. Take a listen to the absolute joy around the table: *You can hear me ask a question about journalistic responsibility and one about Dianna’s similarities to the character of Hannah.* Enjoy the voices of TUMBLEDOWN!

You can still catch a screening of TUMBLEDOWN at the fest this Thursday!! I cannot imagine this film not getting distribution. We will most certainly keep you updated here at RND.

3:30 PM – THU 4/23  REGAL CINEMAS BATTERY PARK 11-11Icon-fg-map ADD $13.50
To find out more about TUMBLEDOWN in the Tribeca Film Guide 2015

Victor Levin’s ‘5 to 7’ brings Parisian romance to New York City.

5 to 7 poster There is something about the French that evokes whimsy and passion. Paris is touted as the romance capital of the world. The language is oozing with lust and the men and women who reside there, are to be envied and adored. But give me NYC, anyday. There are so many stories just waiting to happen. In 5 to 7, we meet Brian, (ANTON YELCHIN) a 24 year old, down and out writer who won’t quit following his passion. He wallpapers his apartment with rejection letters but never stops creating. One day, by sheer chance or perhaps by fate, he looks across the street to find a stunning, French brunette smoking a cigarette. This moment is the catalyst for the entire story. Arielle (BÉRÉNICE MARLOHE) is a married 33 year old woman with two children and a unique understanding with her husband. The two and affair but with rules in place; only from 5-7pm. Arielle’s husband has a mistress, as well. She is Jane (OLIVIA THIRLBY), a 25 year old editor, who has followed the rules for a year already. Brian is welcomed into the “family” with open arms, everything is out in the open, and as unusual as it seems, somehow it works… for the while at least. At some point, sharing the woman of his dreams is too much for Brian to bare and an ultimatum is presented.5 to 7 AntonBereniceThe angst in this film is palpable. The heaviness of the situation and the excitement is wrought from the very beginning. There is something so wrong with this arrangement and yet you cannot help but root for them, and for everyone. The struggle between happiness and traditional thinking is constantly challenged in the script, crafted carefully by Victor Levin who does double duty as Director. As a New Yorker, this film is also a love story with the City itself. Peering into locations like The Guggenheim, Central Park, The St. Regis, and neighborhoods all over Manhattan is a love affair no city dweller can overlook. We are also treated to diverse cultural experiences between young downtown and sophisticated wealthy uptown. “Beer Vs. Wine”, if you will, but all New York City at heart.5 to 7 GlennFrankYelchin, who is in quite a few feature this year alone, is wonderful, charming and insightful as ever.  Marlohe is enchanting and effortless. Rounding out the amazing cast is Glenn Close and Frank Langella as Brian’s parents, Arlene and Sam Bloom. These two pros come into their scenes as if they were married for 30 years. Funny and honest and keeping us on our toes, they are a delight as a foil to Brian and Arielle. 5 to 7 has a built in audience. This film is for anyone who has ever had stars in their eyes and hope in their hearts. It’s a story of choices and finding out how far you’ll go for your happy ending.Victor Levin 5 to 7

In speaking to Victor Levin this week, I got a whole new insight on his first feature. He was simply a gentleman and a scholar and I thank him for every minute of his time. Take a listen to our chat below.

 

5 to 7 opens in theaters today in NY and LA, with a nationwide release next Friday, April 10th. It is also available now on VOD.

 

 

Liz’s Review: ‘SONG ONE’ plays well

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Nothing quite captures New York City like it’s sound scrape. The roaring of a passing subway train. The chatter in a coffee house. The songs heard on the streets by the immense talent that envelopes themselves in the starving artist community that creates the fabric of this magical place.  SONG ONE is a beautiful ode to this city. Read More →