Grand Jury Prize/ Int’l competition WINNER @ DOC NYC: ‘HOW TO SAVE A DEAD FRIEND’ is a final love letter spread across 12 years of filming.

HOW TO SAVE A DEAD FRIEND

The monster that is depression roars silently because, in Russia, depression is not allowed to have a voice. Putin has seen to that. In HOW TO SAVE A DEAD FRIEND, filmmaker Marusya Syroechkovskaya chronicles over a decade of her emotional roller coaster in life, love, and deep-seated despair.

Kimi was a history major with a brilliant mind, a great sense of humor, and a penchant for drug use. Marusya’s childhood was a bit more idyllic, but that didn’t stop her suicidal ideation. The two bonded over music, beliefs, and self-destructive ideas. They also filmed every waking moment.

Kimi’s traumatic childhood and Russia’s national political upheaval created the perfect ticking time bomb of existence. He and Marusya needed each other to stay alive, but unresolved trauma is a killer lying in wait. Through marriage, rehab, divorce, and Kimi on a headlong downward spiral, Marusya must find other ways to dull the inner chaos. She had to decide, make a plan to live, or join her innumerable friends in suicide.

Marusya Syroechkovskaya’s dedication and fearless openness make it easy to understand why this film won Grand Jury Prize/ Int’l competition at DOC NYC 2022. HOW TO SAVE A DEAD FRIEND is an intimate and unfiltered look at addiction, love, and attempts to survive one more day. It is a must-see film.



Saturday, November 12 – Sunday, November 27, 2022

Venue

Online Screening

Director: Marusya Syroechkovskaya
Producer: Ksenia Gapchenko, Mario Adamson, Co-Producers Anita Norfolk, Alexandre Cornu
Cinematographers: Kimi Morev and Marusya Syroechkovskaya
Editor: Qutaiba Barhamji
Language: Russian
Country: Sweden, Norway, France, Germany
Year: 2022


Netflix documentary review: A family’s mission, ‘I AM VANESSA GUILLEN’ is more than a hashtag, it is a movement.

I AM VANESSA GUILLEN

Netflix presents I AM VANESSA GUILLEN, a film about one family’s relentless push for justice and exposing the toxic culture that permeates the military, specifically Fort Hood. Director Christy Wegener brings us the story that sparked a social media frenzy, a race to pass new legislation, and the family that would not stay quiet.

The systemic failure at Fort Hood will leave you seething. After two months of desperate outcry, the Army finally makes a statement and begins to search, but it is too little too late. With the pro bono help of maverick lawyer Natalie Khawam, The Guillen family takes their fight to Capital Hill.

I remember this story. I remember feeling so angry when I heard how long Vanessa had been missing before I heard about it on the news. Then, when the details emerged of her murder and subsequent failure at Fort Hood, I was disgusted. Those feelings returned and multiplied as I watched this film. Understanding the extent of their coverup will blow your mind. The military justice system allows for secrecy and discretion to sweep everything under the rug. It is beyond broken.

I AM VANESSA GUILLEN proves the saying, “No justice. No peace.” The Guillen family never backed down. The military counted on their silence, and they got the exact opposite. I AM VANESSA GUILLEN has been in the top 10 since the film’s release last Friday. It is easy to understand why.


I Am Vanessa Guillen | Official Trailer | Netflix https://youtube.com/Netflix

I AM VANESSA GUILLEN is now streaming on NETFLIX


 

Disney+ documentary review: ‘Mickey: The Story of a Mouse’ is a nostalgic warm hug reminding us why we love the global icon.

Mickey: The Story of a Mouse

Disney+ has a brand new doc as delightfully imaginative as you’d expect. Mickey: The Story of a Mouse is a darling dive into the making of an internationally beloved icon. It all started with a mouse, and his evolution is a fascinating journey for fans everywhere.

We peek into the minds of fans, young and old, visit the Disney Archives, chat with animators and historians, and hear directly from Walt Disney in classic interviews from our childhood. The work that went into creating Disney’s empire will astound audiences and yet never destroy the magic. We delve into Walt’s unrelenting sense of adventure and fearless attitude about expansion and risk.

The doc also discusses Mainstream Mickey and counterculture Mickey and how his image became synonymous with cultural change through the years. They touch upon copyright infringement and the complexities that grew out of Walt’s loss of Oswald the Rabbit. Filmmakers and interviewees do not shy away from the negative stereotypes appearing in certain cartoons and how Mickey became a corporate symbol. It’s an honest take.

I don’t think I’ve fully understood the impact of Mickey’s image until now. I refuse to dress my five and 6-year-olds in clothing that has characters branded on them, except for Mickey. There is a deeply ingrained subconscious reason that I’m only now realizing. It was a real aha moment for me.

I was lucky enough to have been a performer at Disneyland in 2000. For the insiders, I’ll say I had the magical title of “pageant helper,” which carries more weight than it suggests. I thought perhaps working at the parks would kill a little bit of the joy, as technically, I had peeked behind the curtain, quite literally. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anytime I stepped onto the grounds out from backstage (the areas no guest ever sees), I would be a giant kid all over again. On one unforgettable day, I had the unprecedented honor of meeting the actor Walt hired to wear the first Mickey costume on Disneyland’s opening day. There I am, a sweaty mess, in half a costume smiling like a fangirl. It was a part of history most people would never get to touch.

Visually, Mickey: The Story of a Mouse is a cinematic dream. From hand-drawn frame-by-frame cell animation to chemist-mixed paint to the collaborations we see today as animation and technology shift by the day. We experience the sheer artistry involved in Mickey as animators recreate some of his most iconic roles throughout history. In a sort of meta moment, these creators work on the newest Mickey short, “Mickey In A Minute,” during the doc, one hand-drawn scene at a time. The final product is Disney perfection.

Mickey Mouse is the most famous character in all of history. Three simple circles have made an indelible mark on humanity. Mickey: The Story of a Mouse overflowed with nostalgia and had me giggling and grinning from ear to ear. I could not have loved it anymore.


Mickey: The Story of a Mouse 

premieres today on Disney+

Short Synopsis
One of the world’s most beloved icons, Mickey Mouse is recognized as a symbol of joy and childhood innocence in virtually every corner of the globe. Dreamed up at a low point in Walt Disney’s burgeoning career, Mickey became an overnight sensation when he starred in the first synch-sound animated short, Steamboat Willie. Through the decades that followed, the character evolved into strikingly different versions of himself that reflect both his creator’s remarkable career and dramatic societal shifts in the nation he came to represent. In the fascinating documentary Mickey: The Story of a Mouse, director Jeff Malmberg and Oscar ® -winning producer Morgan Neville (who previously teamed up together for Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) examine the cultural significance of the nearly 100-year-old cartoon mouse.


 

DOC NYC review: David Siev’s ‘BAD AXE’ features hope pushing past hate. IFC will release one of the year’s best docs in theaters and on digital tomorrow!

BAD AXE

Synopsis: ​​After leaving NYC for his rural hometown of Bad Axe, Michigan, at the start of the pandemic, Asian American filmmaker David Siev documents his family’s struggles to keep their restaurant afloat. As fears of the virus grow, deep generational scars dating back to Cambodia’s bloody “killing fields” come to the fore, straining the relationship between the family’s patriarch, Chun, and his daughter, Jaclyn. When the BLM movement takes center stage in America, the family uses its collective voice to speak out in their conservative community. What unfolds is a real-time portrait of 2020 through the lens of one multicultural family’s fight stay in business, stay involved, and stay alive.


The Siev family patriarch Chun is a Cambodian refugee who came to the US to attain the American Dream. He and his wife Rachel opened a donut shop named Baker’s Dozen. Times were hard, and money was tight, but the Siev family stuck together and thrived. In 2000 they opened Rachel’s, a family restaurant in their hometown of Bad Axe, Michigan.

Director and only son in the Siev pack, David had the foresight to capture the upheaval of his family and their community beginning in March 2020. Like many families, the Sievs found their adult children moving back into their homes to help their vulnerable parents. Bad Axe is a small, tight-knit town with two stoplights. It’s a nice place to raise a family. When lockdown begins, local tension boils over, and the Siev family becomes targets of racism and conspiracy theories.

The eldest daughter, Jaclyn, has palpable anxiety. She tries her hardest to protect her father. The tension and stakes are higher than they’ve ever been. The family’s livelihood, quite literally, is on the line. Siblings, Michelle and Raquel, joined by Jaclyn’s husband Mike, Rachel’s boyfriend Austin, and a small handful of Rachel’s loyal employees, work day and night to feed the community and maintain a sense of normalcy while facing political and racial upheaval.

The intimate nature of Bad Axe is visceral. The Siev family could be anyone’s neighbors. They are friendly, hardworking, and respectful members of their community. They bug each other as much as they love each other. They remind me of my holidays when all four siblings invade our childhood home with inside jokes, arguments, and an unconditional adoration for one another.

Chun is a fascinating member of the family. He is a proud man. An opinionated individual, a responsible gun owner, and a survivor of the Cambodian killing fields, Chun’s unresolved trauma reveals itself in harsh words toward Jaclyn. He knows it and owns it. His emotional journey is everything.

The footage of the Black Lives Matter confrontation made my palms sweat. The aftermath of ignorant racist attacks will undoubtedly infuriate you. You will not believe the sheer terror these people have to endure. The courage of the Siev family makes my heart swell. Their bravery to move forward in the face of chaos is astounding. David’s commitment to telling their story gives audiences a peek inside the hatred stirred up by those in politics and the media that I refuse to give fuel by naming them. We all know who is responsible for the uptick of hate. May he lose again and again.

While we witness the many trials and tribulations alongside the Siev family, in the end, BAD AXE is a love letter to an ever-evolving community and an ode to a family that believes love conquers all. I can easily say Bad Axe is one of the year’s best documentaries.


BAD AXE — Directed by David Siev

New York Premiere — Winner’s Circle — IFC Films Release on Nov 18, 2022

Produced by ​​Jude Harris, Diane Quon, Kat Vasquez, David Siev 

Executive Produced by Daniel Dae Kim, Jeff Tremaine

Featuring Chun Siev, Rachel Siev, Jaclyn Siev, Skylar Janssen, Michael Meinhold

 

Screenings:

Online Screening Window – Sunday, November 13, 2022 12am through Sunday, November 27, 2022 at 11:59pm

Run Time: 102 minutes


 

DOC NYC (2022) review: ‘MY SISTER LIV’- one family’s story that speaks to millions.

MY SISTER LIV

Director Alan Hicks brings audiences the intimate story of sisters Tess and Liv through a letter from one the other. MY SISTER LIV is a tale of one family’s relentless journey to save their loved one by diving deep into the all-consuming chaos and shocking prevalence of depression. 

Liv’s personality explodes off the screen. Her bright-eyed energy catches you off guard and makes you smile. Her musical talents are an impressive saving grace. But, her thoughts of self-harm are a relentless monster exacerbated by sexual assault and body dysmorphia. Tess’ guilt is palpable. She and her mother did everything right. They researched medications and therapy and checked in on Liv. Ultimately social media and the need for acceptance lead to dark thoughts and self-medicating with alcohol.

Home videos, Tess’ narration, and Liv’s diary entries comprise a narrative that looks and sounds like so many young people. The doc plays out in two distinct halves; before and after. My Sister Liv begins with Tess telling the audience Liv’s story. The second is Tess and their mother’s emotional devastation and how the pandemic rolled into their already heavy grief, with videos of Liv replaced by videos of Tess. Then zoom discussions of Tess speaking with young people Liv’s age and mental health professionals, expressing similar feelings, coping mechanisms, causes, and statistics. 

Having lost one of my best friends from suicide after years of reaching out and quite literally talking them off the ledge, again and again, I understand the approach to mental health is sacred. My Sister Liv also served as a wake-up call for me as a parent of a five-year-old with OCD and anxiety. Can I prevent their mental health struggles from becoming all-consuming in a world that bombards children with negative thoughts and images 24 hrs a day? I’ve never wanted to predict the future more in my entire life. DOC NYC 2022 audiences have something special at their fingertips. If My Sister Liv gets viewers to start a conversation about mental health, that’s already a hugely important win for everyone. 

 thelivproject.org


Online Dates

Friday, November 11 – Sunday, November 27, 2022

Venue

Online Screening

Director: Alan Hicks
Executive Producer: David J. Cornfield, Linda A. Cornfield, Ross Kauffman, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Curtis Pesmen, Dan Braun, Josh Braun, Rob Galluzzo, Steve Carpenter, Amy Carpenter, Bob Birch, Genie Birch, William Campbell, Alice Fiori, Co-Executive Producers Amy Batchelor, Brad Feld
Producer: Paula DuPré Pesmen, Camilla Mazzaferro
Editor: Andrew McAllister, Michael Mahaffie, Jordan Swioklo
Language: English
Country: Australia, United States of America
Year: 2022


DOC NYC (2022) review: ‘ CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WITHOUT A NET’ is an awe-inspiring film about the importance of theater and the ability to create.

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WITHOUT A NET

CENTERPIECE SELECTION

*WORLD PREMIERE*

Cirque du Soleil’s “O” is the top-grossing show in the world. Enter Covid19 and the subsequent and heartbreaking release of 3400 employees. The show was down for 400 days. In April 2021, restrictions finally loosening Cirque announced “O” would be back. Eight weeks to reopen among health and safety restrictions. The doc spotlights a handful of their performers. We learn how they got to Cirque and follow along as they retrain their minds and bodies after more than a year of uncertainty. We also see the tech and artistic crews rebuilding, sewing, and revamping as quickly as possible to meet the reopening deadline. It is an intricate dance of trust. One slight human or machine error could spell disaster for the artists.

The cinematography is breathtaking, from underwater shots of the artistic swimmers to areal views of acrobatic acts. Ultimately, the film reminds us of the power and importance of performance. It’s an undeniably visceral viewing experience.

As a performer, this documentary feels deeply personal. One particular quote early on struck me immediately. “It’s really difficult to live without purpose.” What is humanity without creation? What is an artist without the ability to access their craft? Speaking from personal experience and the confessions of fellow performers when the lockdown began, it physically pained us not to be onstage. Cirque du Soleil: Without A Net is a celebratory exploration of a performer’s purpose and the joyous return of the world of theatre.


CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WITHOUT A NET had its World Premiere at DOC NYC on November 13 @ 2:15pm.

CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WITHOUT A NET tells the story of when the world shut down, its greatest Circus went into freefall. Within 48 hours Cirque du Soleil closed all its 44 shows; within a week it let 95% of its workforce go. The show seemed over for the billion-dollar brand. Now, more than a year later, a group of world-class artists, athletes and crew at “O”, Cirque’s flagship production, face uncertainty as they prepare to bring their show back to life. With unprecedented access, this film documents their extraordinary journey as they attempt a return to stage after one of the world’s greatest crises.

Director: Dawn Porter
Executive Producer: Dawn Porter, Eli Holzman, Aaron Saidman, Richard Bedser, Ailsa Orr
Producer: Dawn Porter, Summer Damon, Sadie Bass, Mark Burnett, Barry Poznick
Cinematographer: Chris Hilleke, Bryant Fisher
Editor: Jessica Congdon, Dave Marcus
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Year: 2022

Online Dates

Monday, November 14 – Sunday, November 27, 2022

Venue

Online Screening

Short film review: ‘Shepherd’s Song’ – Quietly healing nature with nurture.

Shepherd’s Song

When Jenya Schneider lost both her parents by age 18, she was pushed to find meaning and hope in her life. That came in the form of a flock of sheep.

Abigail Fuller’s short film Shepherd’s Song contemplates Earth’s interconnectedness through the eyes of California grazier Jenya Schneider. Climate change threats in the west frequently come in the form of severe droughts and wildfires. Jenya and her partner Jack have chosen a cyclically beneficial lifestyle for the Earth, their clients, and themselves. Four hundred ewes, recycled fencing, and unrelenting passion comprise their venture. Grazing becomes a service to the land, and the sheep produce wool and lanolin. The science behind grazing done right shows the value to the ecosystems it serves. It’s healing the land.

A beautiful score by Serena Goransson moves from subtle to soaring as the film progresses. It feels perfect. Carmen Delaney’s mix of handheld and drone cinematography gives the audience an idea of the landscape scale against Jenya and Jack’s figures through the mountainous grasslands. It is stunning. SHEPHERD’S SONG is part climate film, part nature film, and all heart. We can all learn a whole lot from Jenya and Jack. They are showing the world how to repair the damage we’ve done, one area of grassland at a time.


SHEPHERD’S SONG is now available to view on The North Face’s Youtube channel 
Genre: Eco, nature climate Documentary

The North Face is partnering to release the film on their YouTube channel on October 13th. The film’s director Abigail Fuller was the recipient of The North Face’s “Move Mountains Filmmaker Grant” for women filmmakers.


 

Review: ‘CAT DADDIES’ is a surprisingly purrfect family film.

Man has found a new best friend: Tora, Pickles, Lucky, Zulu, Toodles, Flame, and GoalKitty. These are just some of the lovable feline stars of director Mye Hoang’s debut documentary film CAT DADDIES. A heartwarming and tender portrait of a diverse group of men whose lives have been forever changed by their love of cats, CAT DADDIES takes us on an inspiring journey all across the United States during the challenging early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when people desperately needed hope and companionship. These nine “cat dads” come from all walks of life – a firefighter, a truck driver, a Hollywood stuntman, an ad executive turned cat rescuer, a police officer, a software engineer, an actor/Instagram influencer, a school teacher and an undocumented and disabled immigrant living on the streets of New York City. They couldn’t be any more different, but each of them has a compelling story to tell and share an unconditional love for their beloved cats. A refreshing and timely exploration of modern masculinity, CAT DADDIES shows us how being a “cat person” has no gender, and that the unlikely bond between man and cat is here to stay.

A bit eccentric, incredibly fun, and entirely sweet, CAT DADDIES spotlights male cat owners and their feline friends. Following the lives of nine cat dads, Mye Hoang‘s documentary film shows audiences the unconditional love between owner and pet and subtly dismantles outdated stereotypes about masculinity and cat ownership.

David and Lucky live in the streets of NYC. A former construction worker originally from the country of Georgia. After rescuing an injured kitten and the ASPCA ignoring his pleas, David and the kitten that survived are now inseparable. David has Cerebral Palsy, and his medical needs are a roadblock to his desire to provide the best life for Lucky. Their story is the greatest through line in CAT DADDIES. We follow their journeys through David’s surgeries and Lucky’s adjustment into temporary care with a friend.

Tora the Trucker Cat, truck driver David, and girlfriend Destiny travel together from state to state for months. Tora has a leash to explore national parks and a seat in David’s backpack when she needs a break. Tora has become the focus of David’s newfound photography skills. She’s a bit of a celebrity that’s allowed David to express himself in ways he never thought possible.

These are just two men featured in the film, but their relationships speak volumes about their feline friends’ impact on their lives. Each story is darling. Filmmaker Mye Hoang creates a beautiful arch of the bond between animals and the men who love them. The doc also brings awareness to the stray cat population and how we can help. You’ll fall in love with these little friends. If you thought you were strictly a “dog person,” think again. I watched the film with my five and six-year-old children, and they were enamored. These kids have been begging for a dog since they were two. CAT DADDIES is here to change minds and capture hearts.


In select theaters beginning October 14th in New York (at Village East by Angelika), followed by Los Angeles (at Laemmle Glendale), Dallas (Angelika Film Center) & San Diego (Reading Cinemas Town Square) on October 21st. The film will then expand into additional theaters/cities later this fall.

About the filmmaker MYE HOANG: 
Mye Hoang is a Los Angeles-based film producer, writer, and director. Her work as a producer includes the award-winning noir thriller MAN FROM RENO (Best Feature, LA Film Festival & Spirit Award nominee 2015) and I WILL MAKE YOU MINE by Lynn Chen (SXSW 2020). Mye has directed several narrative short films that have screened at festivals around the world. Her narrative feature film debut as writer/director, VIETTE (a Vietnamese American coming-of-age story), premiered in 2012 and screened at dozens of film festivals, including the Asian American International Film Festival and Edinburgh Fringe Fest. Mye is also the founder and former Executive Director of the Asian Film Festival of Dallas, and the former Artistic Director of the San Diego Asian Film Festival. She has a BA in Cinema from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX where she was born and raised. CAT DADDIES is her first documentary feature.

Documentary Review: ‘WE ARE ART – Through the Eyes of Annalaura’ finds emotional catharsis in creation.

We Are Art – Through the Eyes of Annalaura

Filmed on location in Naples, Italy, We Are Art Through the Eyes of Annalaura was written, produced and directed by acclaimed artist Annalaura di Luggo, in collaboration with production supervisor and creative consultant Stanley Isaacs, and is an inspirational story of creativity, second chances and new beginnings. The documentary feature depicts Annalaura’s journey as she undertakes her most artistic challenge, creating Colloculi, an immersive, multi-media, interactive art installation constructed in the shape of a Giant Eye made of recycled aluminum, symbolizing environmental rebirth and recycling. She incorporates her artistic visualization of the lives of four young people who, in their own way, found a spiritual path out of the darkness into the light and reclaimed their self-esteem and found new value in life.


From concept to fruition, Italian artist Annalaura di Luggo takes inspiration for a multimedia art installation from the Bruegel painting, “The Blind Leading The Blind.” She intends to not only is to inspire but include the viewer in the experience of the piece. They are the fourth layer. WE ARE ART- Through The Eyes of Annalaura is a whirlwind journey through redemption and creation.

The casting process for the four individuals Annalaura wants to include in the project gives the audience a taste of the local Naples community. Each person has a story, a work of art unto themselves. Pino grew up surrounded by drugs, violence, and neglect. His future goal is to avoid a similar path as his parents and thrive through education. Noemi approaches the world through experiences, sports, and animals. Born blind, she longs to break any preconceived notion the world might have about her and to live as fully as any sighted person. Her description of what color is to her is awe-inspiring.

Youssouf arrived on the shores of Naples in a rubber dinghy from the Ivory Coast in 2016. Alone and with nothing to his name, he endured discrimination, educated himself, and began to work. Engaged and with a child, his goal is to be present for her. Adopted at the age of five from Moscow, Larissa found herself bullied for her appearance, leading her to abuse alcohol. Resiliency and self-love push her forward in life.

Like any artist, Annalaura possesses eccentric energy. Her mind is in constant creative mode. Each media artist she approaches finds themselves immediately sucked into her vortex of ideas and enthusiasm. Beyond that first impression, her genuine care for Pino, Noemi, Youssouf, and Karissa is clear as day. Their work together becomes a therapy session melded into Annalaura’s final creation. Her profound words for her subjects will take the viewer aback.

WE ARE ART escapes pretentiousness by keeping the audience involved in each intimate and intentional step. There are a staggering amount of minds and hands touching this project. “Colloculi,” the final work of art, is dazzling, simultaneously speaking to the uniqueness of each life and the universal nature of humanity. Annalaura di Luggo should be proud. Bravo.


Opening At The Laemmle Monica In Los Angeles On September 16
And The Village East In New York September 23

 

Q&A to follow after both Opening Nights

Written & Directed By

Annalaura di Luggo


TIFF 22 short film review: Sophy Romvari’s ‘IT’S WHAT EACH PERSON NEEDS’ pulls the run out from underneath you with its intimacy.


IT’S WHAT EACH PERSON NEEDS

Filmmaker Sophy Romvari features a young woman named Becca Willow Moss as she embarks on a unique journey of self-discovery with others. IT’S WHAT EACH PERSON NEEDS has the audience eavesdropping on phone conversations. The voices on the other end of the line each desire something different. The men seem to seek romance, while others lean more sexual. Her other calls engage an entirely different demographic; the elderly. These chats revolve around memory, singing, reassurance, and pure love.

Becca has a knack for discovering what motivates each person. She describes herself to people as a multi-faceted artist. A label I covet myself. She is the most genuine and gentle communicator. She is giving and authentic. I remain completely enamored by her.

The cinematography is 90% comprised of closeup shots of mannerisms, objects in the room, Becca’s hair and clothes, and her face as she speaks and listens to those she calls. Combined with the fact that the 11-minute run has us solely inside Becca’s apartment lends to the intimacy already created by her words. It’s a brilliant choice, frankly.

Romvari had me thoroughly engrossed from the very beginning. I could have easily watched a feature-length version of Becca and her callers. Therein lies the irony of IT’S WHAT EACH PERSON NEEDS. As we get comfortable with the narrative structure, Romvari steps in, via voice only, and asks Becca what she thinks the project’s meaning might be. Her answer takes you aback. While we enjoy the film for unconsciously selfish reasons, Becca has her own motivation that I did not expect. Undoubtedly one of the best short films at TIFF22. It’s about the universal need for human connection. Everyone needs someone to listen. Everyone needs to feel seen.


Short Cuts Programme 06.
Sophy Romvari
CANADA | 2022 | English
11 minutes


Fri, Sep 16
IN-PERSON
Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
5:30pm


Sat, Sep 17
IN-PERSON
Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
9:05am


 

The Disney+ Original Series from National Geographic ‘EPIC ADVENTURES with BERTIE GREGORY’ Premieres Disney+ Day on September 8th

The face of a new generation of aspirational adventurers and natural history filmmakers, 29-year-old National Geographic Explorer Bertie Gregory takes viewers on epic and nail-biting journeys that push into the most spectacular and secretive corners of our wild world!

Armed with leading-edge film technology, the Disney+ original series EPIC ADVENTURES WITH BERTIE GREGORY, from National Geographic, breaks the mold of the traditional natural history program by telling extraordinary, real-life animal stories and taking viewers with him for every beat of the action. For weeks at a time, the charismatic BAFTA Award-winning cinematographer immerses himself into the animals’ lives to capture the untold stories of iconic creatures living in some of the harshest environments on our planet.

This season, we will see Bertie braving the icy worlds of Antarctica in search of the biggest gathering of whales ever filmed and coming face-to-face with specialist buffalo-hunting lions in Zambia. In this multipart adventure series, he will take audiences on an ambitious odyssey across the globe, showcasing the natural world at a time when it faces its greatest challenges.

The series has also been picked up for a second season, which is filming now.


The Disney+ Original Series from National Geographic Premieres Disney+ Day on September 8th

Check out images from Episode 1 “Eagle Reign”


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About Bertie Gregory
Bertie Gregory, a wildlife filmmaker and photographer in his twenties, channeled his childhood obsession with wildlife into photography. Early in his career, photos from this obsession earned him recognition, including being named a National Geographic Young Explorer, Youth Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Zenith Scientific Exploration Society Explorer. He began assisting legendary big cat photographer Steve Winter on assignment for National Geographic after graduating with a zoology degree from the University of Bristol in 2014. Bertie has since shot documentaries for Nat Geo WILD (Mumbai’s urban leopards and caiman hunting jaguars) and BBC Planet Earth. Gregory’s first solo assignment for National Geographic, tracking and filming the elusive coastal wolf on Vancouver Island’s west coast, became the basis for Nat Geo WILD’s first digital series, wildlife. All of this happened before his 24th birthday. Bertie has recently completed work on a new National Geographic digital series set in South Georgia. Bertie is the next generation explorer, who is standing on the shoulders of Walt Disney, Marlin Perkins, and David Attenborough, and will take us on an epic and heart-warming journey in this new upcoming series.


 

HBO Original review: Heed the warning and relive the trauma as never before seen footage in Ed Perkins’ stunning doc ‘THE PRINCESS’ flags the danger of history repeating itself.

‘The HBO Original documentary film THE PRINCESS is an intimate and immersive look at the life of Princess Diana, directed by Academy Award® nominee Ed Perkins (“Black Sheep” “Tell Me Who I Am”) and produced by Lightbox, Academy Award®-winning Simon Chinn (“Man on Wire” “Searching for Sugar Man”) and Emmy®-winning Jonathan Chinn (“LA92” HBO’s “Tina”). The film debuts on SATURDAY, AUGUST 13 (8:00-9:50 p.m. ET/PT) on HBO, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of Princess Diana’s tragic death, and will be available to stream on HBO Max. THE PRINCESS had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. HBO Documentary Films presents THE PRINCESS, in association with SKY, produced by Lightbox. Directed by Ed Perkins; produced by Simon Chinn and Jonathan Chinn; editors, Jinx Godfrey and Daniel Lapira; co-producer, Vanessa Tovell. For HBO: coordinating producer, Anna Klein; executive producers, Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller.


The precise moment I realized what was happening in the opening footage of The Princess, my blood ran cold. The tragedy of Diana, Princess of Wales is something I’ve always held close to my heart. I remember the morning of her death like it was yesterday. My mother entered my bedroom, speechless, holding up the headline on the front page. I had Princess Diana paper dolls as a child. The booklet contained a replica of the crown she wore at her wedding. I mourned her like so many across the globe, understanding her cultural impact even more as my father and I watched her funeral live. I’d never seen him weep before that day. 

The film chronicles Diana’s life in the media from the days before her engagement until her horrific death. There are no talking heads, no overarching narration, simply thousands of hours of archival footage edited together with care and great intention. Studying the body language of Diana, Charles, and the royal family is fascinating. The commentary comes in the form of media voiceovers that are equally adoring and scathing. Feeling as if we know Diana and understanding the revelations that have since come to light, I was seething as I witnessed the treatment of an uncaring husband and the fickle media. 

The score is breathtaking. The editing is an award-worthy triumph. Watching the downward spiral of a young woman thrown to the wolves is daunting. I found myself shaking my head, filled with sadness and anger at those who failed spectacularly to protect her. And therein lies the double-edged sword of this film. Our obsession with a woman so special and fascinating makes us accomplices. The Princess is a cautionary tale as relevant today as it was then. Maybe more so. Harry and Meghan deserve more respect than we ever showed his mother and equal parts adoration for the change they are trying desperately to implement in a family stuck in the dark ages. We, the audience and fellow human beings, must remind ourselves to take a step back and let them live their lives in peace. 

HBO ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY THE PRINCESS 
Debuting SATURDAY on HBO & HBO Max (8:00-9:50 p.m. ET/PT)

Fantasia International Film Festival is back with its 26th edition to rescue us from reality. Here’s what we’re excited to see! #Fantasia2022

It’s no secret that all the best genre films come through Fantasia Film Festival. 2022’s fest comes just in time to distract us from all the actual horrible things happening in the world.

Welcome to a list of things we’re excited about playing this year. Some are already on our best of the year lists and some we anticipate adding. Check out our picks below.

For all things Fantasia Film Festival 2022 stay tuned to Reel News Daily with some special posts from our friends at Unseen Films


Six films we’ve seen at previous festivals and their reviews can be found below. Highly recommend each of them for a myriad of reasons.

Next Exit
Legions
Sissy


Honeycomb
Hypochondriac
Speak No Evil (One of the year’s most brutal films)



FREAKS OUT (Italy)

– Dir: Gabriele Mainetti

Rome, 1943. A pack of sideshow performers with supernatural powers face off against occupying Nazis in the most unusual superhero film you will ever see. This fantastical and gutsy celebration of the different that walks an electrifying tightrope between blockbuster filmmaking and edgier, more subversive genre work. From the director of THEY CALL ME JEEG. Winner of the Leoncino d’Oro at last fall’s Venice Film Festival. Canadian Premiere. 

Sounding like a genre fan’s wet dream, FreaksOut is a priority watch this year.



Princesse Dragon

Bristle is a little girl raised by dragons. But when her father, Dragon, has to pay the Sorcerog using his second most valuable asset, he offers her Bristle – Throwing her into an infinite sadness and forcing her to flee the family cave. Bristle then embarks on a journey to discover the world of men.

Feminist anime? Give it to me all day, every day.


Polaris

Set in 2144 against the harsh backdrop of a frozen wasteland, Sumi, a human child raised by Mama Polar Bear, narrowly escapes capture from a brutal Morad hunting party and sets out across the vast winter landscape. When Sumi stumbles across Frozen Girl, an unlikely friendship is forged and together they race ahead of the vindictive hunters towards the only guiding light Sumi knows, the Polaris star.

All female-led opening film. Sold.


One Cut of the Dead

(French remake of the cult classic)

After opening this year’s Cannes, FINAL CUT (Coupez!), Michel Hazanavicius’s riotous remake of Shinichirou Ueda’s ONE CUT OF THE DEAD, is coming to North America. Starring Romain Duris, Bérénice Bejo, Grégory Gadebois, Finnegan Oldfield, Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, and Yoshiko Takehara reprising her beloved role from the original film as a producer, this hilarious ode to the do-or-die spirit of filmmaking is a joy to behold. It is especially noteworthy for the film’s North American journey to be starting at Fantasia, as the festival was among the first to popularize the original Audience Award-winning ONE CUT OF THE DEAD in the West. Poetically, Ueda’s latest, POPRAN, will also be having its North American Premiere at the festival this year. Bet your viewfinder that FINAL CUT is going to bring the house down in cheers. North American Premiere.

Without knowing the original, the buzz around this remake is out of this world. Will it live up to its predecessor? I guess we’ll all find out together.

Huesera

Pregnant with her first child and consumed by terrifying visions, Valeria (Natalia Solián) believes that she may be cursed by a supernatural entity. A brilliant and frightening breakout debut as important as Jennifer Kent’s THE BABADOOK, HUESERA firmly announces Mexico’s Michelle Garza Cervera as one of the leading new voices of the genre. A scorching personal vision that asks complex questions with ferocious honesty, this profound, nightmarish blessing comes to Fantasia hot off its award-winning Tribeca launch and is already one of the most talked-about genre works of the year.  Canadian Premiere. 

A big winner out of Tribeca 22, this is a slick film tackling identity and motherhood in a surprising way. If you’ve ever been pregnant and didn’t love every single second of it, this one will cut extra deep.



Bodies, Bodies, Bodies

Also screening as part of Fantasia’s closing night events will be Halina Reijn’s wildly entertaining and gloriously twisted BODIES BODIES BODIES. A party game leads to murder when young and wealthy friends gather at a remote family mansion in this instant classic comedy horror joyride that maintains a taut balance of uneasy tension and wicked humor. Starring Amandla Stenberg (THE HATE U GIVE), Maria Bakalova (BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM), Myha’la Herrold (INDUSTRY), Rachel Sennott (SHIVA BABY) and comedy superstar Pete Davidson. Special Screening.

When people cannot stop talking about a film, you know you have to see it. Coming to theaters August 5th.

 DIRECTOR: Halina Reijn CAST: Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Myha’la Herrold, Chase Sui Wonders, Rachel Sennott, with Lee Pace and Pete Davidson


Piggy

Laura Galán appears in PIGGY by Carlota Pereda

During the sweltering summertime of rural Spain, Sara carries an extra load of teenage agony due to the perpetual bullying from her peers. She’s also an outsider at home—her parents and little brother just don’t understand her—so, feelings internalized, she’s often found buried in her headphones, drowning out her surroundings. One day, Sara’s usual solo dip at the local pool is disrupted by the presence of a mysterious stranger in the water and an exceptionally grueling bout of abuse at the hands of three girls. But, in a strange twist of fate, along the way home Sara witnesses her bloodied tormentors being kidnapped in the back of the stranger’s van.

Another buzzy title, this one focusing on mean girls and morality is a star vehicle for actress Laura Galán.


The Pez Outlaw

Steve Glew spent the 1990s smuggling rare pez dispensers into the USA from Eastern Europe, making millions of dollars. It was all magical until his arch-nemesis, The Pezident decided to destroy him.

Who wouldn’t want to watch a film about rival pez dispenser smugglers is really the question.


Everybody Goes To The Hosptial (short film)


Based on a true story, EVERYBODY GOES TO THE HOSPITAL is a stop motion animated exploration of physical, psychological, and familial trauma, telling the tale of 4-year-old Little Mata (writer/director Tiffany Kimmel’s mother) as she’s taken to the hospital in late 1963 with appendicitis.

This is s personal pick for me, as someone traumatized by hospitals more than once in my life. The first time was when I was diagnosed with appendicitis. Check out a teaser here.


For all things Fantasia 2022 stay tuned to Reel News Daily with some special posts from our friends at Unseen Films.


 

Review: Shannon Alexander’s candid covid dating doc ‘Sex, Love, Misery: New New York’ has a title that says it all.

Synopsis:
Swiping. Dating. Ghosting. Have you wondered what was really going on in your date’s head? “Sex, Love, Misery” reveals candid thoughts and encounters between singles looking to mingle or marry, from initial texts to hook ups and beyond.


Dating in the city was a complicated nightmare when I was in college. That was 20 years ago now. I do not envy Millenial/Gen Y’s attempts to find love nowadays. Certainly not with the complexities of COVID added into the mix. Filmmaker Shannon Alexander gives audiences a new documentary, SEX, LOVE, MISERY: NEW NEW YORK, in which he follows six people navigating relationships with one another during the pandemic. An up-close and personal confession booth through the lens of modern dating manages to be fresh and timeless all at once. 

The film follows Troy, Camilla, Jack, Izzie, Aisha, and our French transplant Emile. The openness these young people have with Shannon speaks to the power of his humanity. They feel comfortable sharing their most intimate thoughts and insecurities. They are totally unfiltered. It is their willingness to take chances that creates an engaging viewing experience. 

There are glaring differences in communication. Hearing each reaction to the exact same date is eye-opening. The assumptions made about one another by the forms of communication and interaction are like watching a modern-day version of the HBO docu-series Taxicab Confessions. If you don’t know what that is, let me explain. From 1995 to 2006, the cable network aired a show that featured hidden camera conversations from the back of a cab. Often sexual, it was a series that aired late at night and was one of a kind. SEX, LOVE, MISERY feels similar, except that our six subjects speak directly to Shannon in true cinéma vérité style.

What makes SEX, LOVE, MISERY so intriguing is even though these people are ten to fifteen years my junior, I know them. I was them. We all were. SEX, LOVE, MISERY: NEW NEW YORK is a fantastic proof of concept. I would watch this expanded into series form in a New York minute.


Sex, Love Misery: New New York is a light-hearted/comedic piece covering dating and relationships in NYC during the pandemic,
now streaming on TubiTV.

Review: ‘GIRL IN THE PICTURE’ is Netflix’s most heinous true crime documentary to date

One hell of a mystery! With clues and revelations spilling off the screen like Niagara Falls, Girl In The Picture is another phenomenal entry into Netflix’s true crime genre. The unusual death of a young mother named Tanya and the subsequent kidnapping of her son, what would unravel from those two events would be one of the craziest stories of abuse, fraud, and terror.

Filmmaker Skye Borgman sits down with Sharon Marshall‘s friends from high school. Intelligent, sweet, and determined, she had her life planned out. A promising future as an engineer with a full-ride scholarship, everything changed when she found out she was pregnant. Her father whisked her away on a journey that would lead investigators into a world of heinous crime and abuse.

Borgman delves into the mind of a serial killer. His crimes date back further than anyone expected. He’s a vile individual. But, like many criminals with a penchant for abuse, it’s cyclical. Hopes of discovering Sharon’s origins grew like gangbusters in the early 2000s with the publication of investigative journalist Matt Birkbeck‘s book “A Beautiful Child.” A break in 2005 broke open an entirely new mystery. The hits keep on coming.

With a mix of interviews, photographs, recreations, archival footage, and slick transitions, Girl In The Picture is a heart-pounding and nauseating watch. The how and why will blow your mind. You will have no idea where this story begins or ends. It is one of the most sinister stories I’ve ever heard. Watch as friends and the police unravel the chaos around Sharon, her son, and the man that made their lives a living nightmare. The amount of information in this film could have easily been an entire series. Trust me when I say you will be relieved it isn’t.


Girl in the Picture is only on Netflix on July 6th.

Directed by: Skye Borgman
Source Material: Matt Birkbeck
Produced by: Jimmy Fox
Executive Producers: Matt Birkbeck


The jaw-dropping true crime story of a search to solve a 30-year-old mystery: who was Sharon Marshall, and why was her real identity unknown to everyone – even her?

In his international bestseller A Beautiful Child and its follow-up, Finding Sharon, award-winning investigative journalist Matt Birkbeck told the heartbreaking story of a brilliant and beautiful teenager known as Sharon Marshall. Caught in the twisted web of the monster she called her father, Sharon wasn’t her real name.


Review: From scholarships to scandal, Dan Chen’s ‘ACCEPTED’ is explosive.

ACCEPTED

Accepted offers a unique and intriguing look at the world of Ivy League college admissions and the true cost of getting that first foothold into elite American society. In his first documentary feature, director Dan Chen grounds a broader look at the inequities in the American education system with unbelievable access to T.M. Landry and the deeply personal stories of four dynamic students looking to overcome countless obstacles to achieve their dreams.


TM Landry was a beacon of hope for the underserved community of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. In Dan Chen‘s ACCEPTED, the incoming senior class of 2019 gears up for the admissions process, chasing that elusive stat; 30% of Landry students who receive acceptance to an Ivy League school. But, that’s not all this documentary catches during the school year. An explosive New York Times expose sends shockwaves through the student body. ACCEPTED delves deep into the subsequent chaos. 

 There is a Montessori feeling to the day. Children of all ages break out in small groups in a nondescript warehouse/office building, tackling complex arithmetic and socially relevant discussion. Founder Mike Landry‘s enthusiasm and passion are infectious. He’s the ultimate hype man for his students. He takes calls from them after hours, assisting them with homework. As a former teacher, I am captivated by his fiery pep talks. 

When emotions run high and the stress piles on, our kids start to push back against Mike’s methods. They realize something is incredibly wrong. When media becomes more important than being in the classroom, everything backfires. Going into Accepted knowing nothing, you’d think he was the high school Messiah. Mike Landry is no Wizard. He is the man behind the curtain. 

Adia is an avid animal lover whose spirit almost collapses under Mike Landry. But, her spirit outshines the negativity, and she’s a soul that will undoubtedly achieve greatness. Isaac’s dream school is Stanford. His levelheaded approach to life and learning is something we should all aspire to be. Alicia is the new girl, admittedly baffled by the school’s structure when she arrived halfway through Junior year. When you hear her college essay, you’ll gasp in awe of her eloquence. Cathy would be the first member of her family to attend college. With two disabled older sisters and a widowed mother, a car accident payout allowed her to prepay for two years at Landry. Cathy is a powerful young woman, flipping the script on her narrative. For her, truth and integrity reign supreme. 

The deteriorating mental health of these kids is palpable. Their bravery cost them their potential future. Fear and shame should not be the motivating factor to succeed. You cannot help but walk from the film filled with anger and questions about the socioeconomics of higher education. ACCEPTED is an unexpected emotional rollercoaster. 

 

GREENWICH ENTERTAINMENT is releasing the timely documentary Accepted, from director Dan Chen in theaters and VOD on July 1st!


DIRECTOR:
Dan Chen
PRODUCERS:
Jason Y. Lee
Dan Chen
Jesse Einstein
Mark Monroe
GENRE:
Documentary
RUNTIME:

91m


FESTIVALS & AWARDS:
Tribeca Film Festival 2021
Official Selection
Sidewalk Film Festival 2021
Winner Audience Choice Award Best Black Lens Film
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2021
Official Selection
Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival
Official Selection
Double Exposure Investigative Film Festival 2021
Official Selection
Cleveland International Film Festival 2022

Nominee Greg Gund Memorial Standing Up Award


  Original New York Times article as referenced in the film linked HERE.


Tribeca Film Festival 2022 review: ‘Of Medicine and Miracles’ provides a balanced look at the potential and problems of modern medicine.

OF MEDICINE AND MIRACLES

You cannot help but be moved by Of Medicine and Miracles. This is an in-depth documentary of a thrilling achievement: an attempt to cure cancer by using cutting-edge medical science.  This story is told through the prism of one patient, young Emily Whitehead, who was diagnosed with leukemia when she was only 6 years old. When the standard course of treatment fails Emily, her health quickly worsens. Out of options, she is given the chance to enroll in a promising, but risky clinical trial.

The documentary benefits from direct interviews with Emily’s parents. Their emotional re-telling of events is incredibly moving. Their urgency and desperation are palpable. The audience also peers behind the curtain at the vast medical infrastructure supporting Emily’s treatment – the researchers, physicians, nurses, regulators, and the extended care team. The expression “it takes a village” will truly resonate differently for you after viewing this documentary.

You will be inspired, yes, but also frustrated. Of Medicine and Miracles also provides a clear-eyed perspective on the dysfunction plaguing the medical system. While the documentary takes great pains to showcase the innovation at the core of Emily’s treatment, it is equally clear that her life was often in the balance due to incredibly frustrating circumstances. Emily’s local care center does not recommend she seek out a clinical trial – it is only because her family shows the courage to solicit a second opinion from a leading pediatric facility (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) that Emily is even offered a chance at a new treatment. Not everyone has the luxury of such a facility within driving distance. A critical last-minute care decision is shown to be possible only because members of Emily’s care team have read the right medical journal articles. This documentary shows us a miracle, yes, but also demonstrates that this miracle finds the light thanks to a foundation of privilege and luck.

Ross Kauffman’s documentary is an impressively balanced effort. It provides an incredibly intimate look at a family undergoing an incredible challenge, and the way this family is at times equally supported and challenged by our country’s medical structure.  I left it both inspired and enraged.


Available Starting

Tue June 14 – 6:00 PM

At Home

DIRECTOR
Ross Kauffman
PRODUCER
Robin Honan, Nicole Galovski
CINEMATOGRAPHERS
Ross Kauffman, Henry Roosevelt, Naiti Gamez
COMPOSER
Amie Doherty
EDITOR
Hypatia Porter
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
Sean Parker, Lessing Stern, Babbie Lester, Pam Williams, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Randall Gebhardt, Christopher Gebhardt, Eric Esrailian, Regina Scully, Jamie Wolf, Rusty Robertson
ASSOCIATE PRODUCERS
Gabriela Figueredo, Minoo Allen, Zada Clarke

Tribeca Film Festival 2022 reviews from Unseen Films: ‘It Ain’t Over’ & ‘Of Medicine and Miracles’

Of Medicine and Miracles (2022) Tribeca 2022

This is the story of young Emily Whitehead’s battle with cancer through the battles of her doctors to cure her and others.

This is a good look at the battle to cure cancer for everyone. There is a great story here about how thinking outside of the box has opened the door to curing numerous cancers and possibly other diseases as well. Watching the film you will be filled with a great deal of hope for tomorrow.

As good as the film is the film isn’t perfect. The film is very dense with a lot of material, some of which doesn’t need to be here. Points are hammered home several times and more than once I wished bits had been removed. The film also is a bit too manipulative. This film is structured from the start to be a tearjerker in an obvious way. We are not given the choice to feel, the editors took care of it for us. I felt manipulated.

And yet this film has haunted me. The hope for a cure the film highlights can’t help but make you smile.

Reservations aside the film is worth a look.


It Ain’t Over (2022) Tribeca 2022

When Major League Baseball had the four greatest living baseball players show up at the  All-Star Game, they made a major mistake in forgetting Yogi Berra. While he is best known for his Yogi-isms, most people forget how good a player he really was. How good was he? He has 13 World Series rings, 10 as a player, which is more than the four players the shuttled out combined. When Berra’s granddaughter saw the “mistake” she took steps to correct it.

Containing a who’s who of admirers, both in baseball and out, IT’ AIN’T OVER is a moving film that fixes the record regarding Yogi Berra. One of the greatest that ever played, this film makes it clear that he was in many ways more amazing than Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle. The trouble is he was a lovable guy who said things that sounded goofy (When you see a fork in the road take it).  He let the media create a character for him and he went with it, which endeared him to generations while hiding his real achievements.

Everything seems to be here, from his friendship with Jackie Robinson to his support of LGBT rights to a long laundry list of amazing things. Berra never stopped doing and doing the right thing.

I really liked this film a great deal. This is a superb film that is full of laughs and tears and more nostalgia than you can shake a stick at.

That said the film has one big problem and that is the film relies a bit too much on Berra’s granddaughter. While what she tells us is golden, having so much come from her and not other baseball players kind of lessens things. Why is she telling us this and not some of the other people who are interviewed? While I’m a long-time Berra fan and understand how good he was, I know people coming in blind may not be convinced.

Slight reservation aside, this film is an absolute must, more so if you love baseball.


For more of Steve’s insights on Tribeca 22, head over to Unseen Films!


Tribeca Film Festival 2022 reviews from Unseen Films: ‘Bowery’ & ‘The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks’

Brief thoughts on Bowery (2022) Tribeca 2022

BOWERY is a wonderful film. A deeply moving portrait of people living on the street in the Bowery section of New York City, it is warts and all portrait of some good people in a bad circumstance. I was moved.

One of the biggest head-scratching moments to come out of Tribeca is why BOWERY didn’t play in person at the festival (it played online). The Bowery is down the street across  Manhattan from the area that gives the festival its title. It’s a film that is rooted deeply in New York City and the festival should have put it up on the big screen.

I really liked this film a great deal. Being someone who frequented the areas in the film I felt at home. I loved that the film didn’t judge anyone. It simply let everyone be, with the result being is a documentary of great power.

A must-see.


The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks (2022) Tribeca 2022

The life and times of Rosa Parks, best known for refusing to give up her seat on a bus in the segregated south. The truth is there is a hell of a lot more to the small woman than most people know. She was politically active from an early age and never stopped trying to change the world.

This is a really good look at a woman who was revered by millions around the world. She was a woman who shook the pillars of heaven and influenced unexpected people. For example, when Nelson Mandela came to the US  he was going along a receiving line shaking hands until he caught sight of Mrs. Parks and he then bolted to her and snatched her up and gave her a bear hug. This is a film that is going to go a long way toward enhancing her reputation simply because it lets everyone know how special she was.

If I have any problem with the film it’s that the film drops the linear structure a couple of times to jump ahead for various reasons. While I understand why it was done, thematically the flash-forward tied into the moment at hand, the problem was that we didn’t have a setup for them. For example, The Republic of New Afrika is mentioned but fully explained.

Minor quibbles aside this film is a must-see simply because odds are you don’t know the full story of what Mrs. Parks did, and you really need to.

Recommended


See more of Steve’s insane amount of Tribeca 22 coverage at Unseen Films


Tribeca Film Festival 2022 review: ‘BODY PARTS’ is a cinematic sex education.

BODY PARTS

I remember the buzz when Halle Berry reportedly got a half-million-dollar payday when she bared her naked breasts in Swordfish. I thought she was a total badass for demanding more money. It was as if a shift in the patriarchal Hollywood structure had been unlocked. Berry has since denied the payment, explaining that she was taking ownership of her body. Until then, audiences had become desensitized to women’s bodies as public currency. Tribeca 2022 audiences got a revelatory education in Kristy Guevara-Flanagan’s documentary, BODY PARTS.

The list of things I learned watching the doc is endless. Intimacy coordinators should be on every single set. I didn’t even know this occupation existed. I believe I audibly exclaimed, “Oh! Huh,” as I discovered the art of simulating oral sex. The technical aspects of intimate scenes are paramount to understanding how actresses should feel on a set. These scenes were enthralling for a performer and a writer like myself.

The power of female leads in the 20s and 30s got squashed by the introduction of the Hollywood Censors. These scenes shaped our perceptions of ourselves for decades and told us what intimacy “should” look like. That warped perspective has created generations of unhealthy relationships, unreported assaults, and continued abuse. This is not merely a film industry issue. We see men continue to be indoctrinated into believing they are entitled to women’s bodies. The social commentary on each era in relation to what was acceptable in cinema is ceaselessly fascinating. “Penises are pornography. Tits are art,” might be one of the most relevant comments in the entire film. The male gaze has dominated cinema since the very beginning. #MeToo and the prosecution of Harvey Weinstein ignited a shift in culture.

BODY PARTS is one of the Tribeca 2022’s best documentaries. The editing is a triumph. As figureheads speak, recreations and famous scenes throughout history play out, making the doc incredibly accessible to a wide audience, cinephiles and casual film fans alike. BODY PARTS is such a conversation starter. It’s nothing short of a Wow.


DIRECTOR
Kristy Guevara-Flanagan
PRODUCER
Helen Hood Scheer
CINEMATOGRAPHER
Frazer Bradshaw, Jason Joseffer
EDITOR
Liz Kaar, Anne Alvergue
COMPOSER
Nainita Desai
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS
Ruth Ann Harnisch, Abigail Disney, Daniel Chalfen, Adrienne Becker, Roger Clark
CAST
Jane Fonda, Joey Soloway, Angela Robinson, Karyn Kusama, Rose McGowan, David Simon.