THE HARLEM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES AMAZING 2024 LINEUP

The Harlem  International Film Festival logo

Harlem FF partners

THE 2024 HARLEM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
announces line-up for 19th edition
(May 16-26)

Opening Night features the World Premiere of
Nana Ghana’s You Are Always Right Here
and an Uptown Shorts Spotlight

Saturday’s Spotlight Presentation will feature the
NY Premiere of Nancy Saslow’s documentary
Xernona Clayton: A Life in Black and White

 

The Harlem  International Film Festival still 1YOU ARE ALWAYS RIGHT HERE, XERNONA CLAYTON: A LIFE IN BLACK AND WHITE



New York, NY (May 3, 2024) – The 2024 Harlem International Film Festival (Hi) today announced the films and events for its 19th edition – returning as a fully in-person event taking place May 16-26 with special support from the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment. The film festival will open with the world premiere of Nana Ghana’s You Are Always Right Here, preceded by Gabri Christa’s short film Kankantri (the Silk Cotton Tree), and a special premiere curation of Uptown Shorts.

Due to their successful teaming last year, Harlem International Film Festival and Columbia University Zuckerman Institute’s free-to-the-public presentations will not just return but encompass all in-person screenings for the first four days of the film festival. Located at The Forum (601 West 125th Street), Hi’s famous Opening Night red carpet, screenings and panels will all be located at that central hub with the second weekend at Maysles Documentary Center (343 Malcolm X Boulevard). This year’s film lineup will once again celebrate and showcase relatively undiscovered international cinematic gems and local New York filmmaking talent with a special focus on Harlem artists. Hi’s lineup features 61 films, including 24 features (10 narrative, 14 documentaries), 20 shorts (11 narrative, 9 documentaries, 1 television webisode), 2 experimental, 4 music videos, and 3 VR projects, 4 television webisodes, and 4 youth films.

Harlem International Film Festival’s Program Director, Nasri Zacharia, said. “This is our fourth year working with the Zuckerman Institute at Columbia University and the second with the Forum, and we are thrilled to be able to provide so many programs free to the public. This festival is unique in our dual focus on world cinema alongside our homegrown talent here in the HUB ­– Harlem, Upper Manhattan, and the Bronx. This year’s lineup scores on both of those fronts yet again.”

Opening Night on Thursday, May 16 at The Forum will be highlighted by the world premiere of Nana Ghana’s You Are Always Right Here. The film looks at the relationship that develops during the lockdown between Eve, a woman drowning in grief and pain following a personal tragedy, and Adam, who attempts to help her navigate those dark waters. The screening will be preceded by the New York premiere of Gabri Christa’s short film Kankantri (The Silk Cotton Tree) about a woman who enters a place of worship and is transported to the parallel universe of all her ancestors who do not let her leave, until she participates in their dances and rituals. The directors of both films will attend and participate in post-screening Q&As. The evening will also include Hi’s popular Uptown Shorts Spotlightpresentation, featuring short films shot in Harlem, Upper Manhattan, and the Bronx.

The featured film for Saturday’s Spotlight Presentation will be Nancy Saslow’s documentary Xernona Clayton: A Life in Black and White. The film celebrates the life of Xernona Clayton, one of the most unheralded civil rights icons and African American pioneers of our time. Clayton is an extraordinary woman who has impacted our country so respectfully and quietly that many aren’t aware of her enormous contributions. Following the screening will be a Q&A with Saslow and the icon herself, Xernona Clayton.

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THREE (EXTRA) ORDINARY WOMEN, PLAYING THROUGH, ILEANA’S SMILE

Additional highlights include Friday May 17 presentations featuring Cionin Lorenzo and Pearlette J Ramos’ Three (Extra) Ordinary Women, which takes us on a harrowing minute-by-minute journey with three women seeking to overcome traumatic events by reaching Africa’s tallest peak Mount Kilimanjaro. Balbinka Korzeniowska’s festival favorite Playing Through which dramatizes the fateful golf match between Ann Gregory, the first woman of color to enter the USGA Women’s Amateur, and Babs Whatling, a privileged white woman from the south. Three (Extra) Ordinary Women director Cionin Lorenzo, and Playing Through producer Peter Odiorne will both attend and participate in post-screening Q&As. The evening will conclude with a live musical performance by Brad Corrigan, from the band Dispatch, prior to a screening of his film Ileana’s Smile which follows the tragic story of a girl with a lightning smile who endures life in a trash dump community in Managua, Nicaragua, and the unlikely friendships that form around her.

Negrita The Harlem  International Film Festival NEGRITA

Saturday, May 18 will feature a special panel discussion on colorism in Black and Latinx communities prior to a screening of Magdalena Albizu’s Negrita. The film focuses on diverse Afro Latinas who explore and confront culture and racism while defining their own identity in the United States. The film explores the ideology of Blackness, and how both American and Latino cultures perpetuate the belief that Blackness is to be destroyed.

For updates, registration, and more information on the Harlem International Film Festival go to http://HarlemFilmFestival.org


2024 Harlem International Film Festival Official Selections

Opening Night Selections
You Are Always Right Here World Premiere
Director: Nana Ghana
Country: US, Running Time: 82 min
You Are Always Right Here unfolds linearly, with the day-to-day mundaneness of the lockdown. Eve bakes bread, deep cleans, virtual therapy, for a moment things are feeling good, but soon the memories of her past life, coupled with the discomfort and uncertainty in isolation sends Eve riding the waves of dark waters, drowning with grief and pain. Eve tries to make the best of the government issued stay at home order, but it becomes clear that Eve is using Adam as a band aid for her deep wounds, her divorce as a result of the tragic and accidental death of her 2-year-old son.
Preceded by
Kankantri (The Silk Cotton Tree)
Director: Gabri Christa
Country: Suriname, Running Time: 27 min
A woman enters a place of worship and is transported to the parallel universe of all her ancestors who do not let her leave, until she participates in their dances and rituals and exits, integrated.

Saturday Spotlight Presentation
Xernona Clayton: A Life in Black and White New York Premiere
Director: Nancy Saslow
Country: US, Running Time: 118 min
Celebrating the life of one of the most unheralded civil rights icons and African American pioneers of our time, the documentary tells the amazing story of Xernona Clayton, an extraordinary woman who has impacted our country so respectfully and quietly that many aren’t aware of her enormous contributions.

ADDITIONAL FEATURE FILMS

NARRATIVE
As If It’s True
Director: John Rogers
Country: Philippines, Running Time: 105 min
Gemma Stone is a social media influencer/content creator who’s burning out from trying to maintain the interest of her followers. She meets James, a struggling musician suffering from depression. They enter into a relationship with the mutual intent to capitalize on the other. Gemma uses James for content by presenting him as a perfect aspirational romantic partner, while James leeches off Gemma’s wealth and connections to further his own music career. But, as time passes, their intentions don’t pan out as they expect and a blur forms between real love and exploitation.

La Pura Vida
Director: Dylan Verrechia
Country: Mexico, Running Time: 90 min
Nana and Fili live in Tijuana, Mexico, and try to make ends meet but struggle with money. Fili’s parents, Oscar and Angie, are on their way from their home in Valle de Guadalupe (the wine country in Baja California) to their second home in Cozumel. They stop uninvited to Nana’s house. The parents slowly invade the space, making it theirs, and in the course of it destroy the fragile couple. La Pura Vida tells the story of Nana who must deal with the overbearing family of her boyfriend and overall abuse.

My Last Best Friend
Director: Filippo M. Prandi
Country: US, Running Time: 106 min
NYC. March 2020. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, two men, both named Walter Stoyanov, watch their lives unravel as one of them falls ill and the other one is being investigated by FBI Agent John McCallany.

My Motherland
Director: Benoit Cohen
Country: France, Running Time: 91 min
France has been living alone in her apartment since her husband’s death. When she hears on the radio that an NGO is putting homeless migrants in touch with people who are willing to welcome them, she decides, against her only son’s opinion to welcome Reza, a young Afghan broken by war and exile. Two worlds meet, and they begin to hold each other’s hands.

Playing Through
Director: Balbinka Korzeniowska
Country: US, Running Time: 87 min
Late in her career, Ann Gregory finds the courage to be the first woman of color to enter the USGA Women’s Amateur. She collides with Babs Whatling, a privileged white woman from the south who is searching for her own identity. This highly publicized match forever changes them and the game.

Sappy
Director: Shusei Ueda
Country: Japan, Running Time: 86 min
A man has ambitions to be a novelist, while working as a driver for a sex worker. Kobayashi, an acquaintance and best-selling novelist, mentors the aspiring writer, advising him on how to complete his first novel.

Valley of Exile
Director: Anna Fahr
Country: Lebanon, Running Time: 107 min
Two sisters arrive in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley at the onset of the Syrian war, embarking on a journey into exile that tests their loyalty to their country, their family and each other.

When Morning Comes
Director: Kelly Fyffe-Marshall
Country: Jamaica, Running Time: 92 min
A young boy struggles with his widowed mother’s decision to relocate the family from Jamaica to Canada.

White Guilt
Director: Marcus Flemmings
Country: UK, Running Time: 61 min
Eleven affluent white individuals in their twenties and thirties head off in a bus, hoping to assuage their white guilt. They seek a unique pay-to-play service: experiencing reverse slavery. While this controversial service typically proceeds as planned, things take a dark twist when a carefree newcomer joins the crew, and a woman of mixed-race ethnicity stands among the elite clientele.


DOCUMENTARY
A Thousand and One Berber Nights
Director: Hisham Aïdi
Country: US, Running Time: 53 min
In the late 1950s Hassan Ouakrim was a young dancer and actor in Morocco. Little did he know that he would soon become the protegé of La Mama Theatre founder Ellen Stewart, performing across America, forming friendships with the likes of jazz virtuosos Ornette Coleman and Randy Weston, and becoming a pioneer in spreading Berber dance and music in North America.

Another Part of Me
Director: Ivan Lopez
Country: Spain, Running Time: 81 min
This is the story of how Gustavo Hernández (known as Gus Jackson) managed to become, chosen by the fans themselves, the best Michael Jackson impersonator in Europe and the second worldwide. Born in Ingenio (Gran Canaria), Gustavo Hernández began working in the late nineties as an imitator of the King of Pop and since then he has made this work his philosophy of life. The film approaches Gustavo’s day-to-day efforts to achieve his teenage dreams, while deepening his relationship with fans around the world and showing how his work has become an influence and inspiration for thousands of people as Michael Jackson himself achieved in life.

The Apology
Director: Mimi Chakarova
Country: US, Running Time: 82 min
The Apology, a feature-length documentary by Mimi Chakarova, investigates an incident in California in the 1960s in which Alameda County and the City of Hayward dismantled the entire community of Russell City, pushing 1,400 residents out of their homes and off their land – all to claim the 200 acres for an industrial park.

Firefly: The Tay Fisher Story
Director: Christopher Nostrand
Country: US, Running Time: 56 min
Tay Fisher’s basketball and life journey is one of determination, inspiration, teamwork, and downright talent – developing into one of the greats in 4-point shooting history during his 10 years on the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters. As “Firefly” he enthralled fans around the world with his “Curly” Neal-inspired one-of-kind dribbling style and infectiously positive attitude. Today, Tay shares the challenges and guidance of his never-give-up story on and off the court, by mentoring kids and holding basketball camps in his hometown.

Healer: The Dr. Joycelyn Elders Story
Director: Candace Bellamy
Country: US, Running Time: 48 min
From Sharecropper’s daughter to the first African American Surgeon General of the United States, Healer is a documentary about the life of Dr. Joycelyn Elders.

Ileana’s Smile
Director: Bradley J Corrigan
Country: US, Running Time: 64 min
Ileana’s Smile is the tragic story of a girl with a lightning smile who endures life in a trash dump community in Managua, Nicaragua, and the unlikely friendships that form around her. The film follows American musician Brad Corrigan, Nicaraguan taxi driver and pastor Bismark Rocha, and several Nicaraguan social workers and educators as they try to open up new paths of opportunity and healing for Ileana, and the devastating choices she makes.

One Person, One Vote?
Director: Maximina Juson
Country: US, Running Time: 78 min
An Award-winning documentary that takes and in-depth look at the US Electoral College, its slavery origins, and impact on American politics today.

Negrita
Director: Magdalena Albizu
Country: US, Running Time: 50 min
Negrita is a feature documentary about diverse Afro Latinas who explore and confront culture and racism while defining their own identity in the United States. The film explores the ideology of Blackness, and how both American and Latino cultures perpetuate the belief that Blackness is to be destroyed. Through personal accounts, family pictures, old videos, and interactions with family and friends, Negrita follows the director’s own struggle with identity, her journey to embrace her African history, and her conversations with her family about their disapproval of her journey, while interweaving the stories/experiences shared by other Afro Latinas.

Return To Your Corner
Director: Ashley Malcolm Morrison
Country: Australia, Running Time: 62 min
Who was the first Boxing World Champion from Africa? Why do so few people know his name?
Sadly, few know his name even in Africa because Battling Siki was a world champion during the colonial era so his world title is recorded as belonging to his colonial ruler. Siki faced severe racism during his career, but used the very thing used against him to promote himself and his fights. He also stood up to racism at a time when few did.

Silent Fallout
Director: Hideaki Ito
Country: Japan, Running Time: 76 min
Narrated by Alec Baldwin, this documentary film looks at the damage caused by the resulting radiation from the testing of nuclear bombs. The U.S. government dropped 101 atomic bombs on the American continent for years. As a result, in the 1960s, milk was contaminated with radiation. Women stood up and proved that their children were exposed to radiation. President Kennedy declared a halt to atmospheric nuclear testing, but we are just discovering the extent of the damage done.

Sing! Fight! Sing! Fight! From Leroi To Amiri
Director: Colin Still
Country: UK, Running Time: 88 min
A portrait of the African American poet & playwright Amiri Baraka, formerly LeRoi Jones.

Skate Night
Director: Emily Leibow
Country: US, Running Time: 58 min
Skate Night is a documentary film about freedom told through a unique community of inline skaters as they explore New York City on wheels. This skating community, like the city itself, brings people together—every race, ethnicity, gender identity, age, religion, and nationality. The motto is, “all wheels welcome.” To be included, all you have to do is show up with some way to “roll as one.”

Three (Extra) Ordinary Women
Directors: Cionin Lorenzo, Pearlette J Ramos
Countries: United Republic of Tanzania/US, Running Time: 92 min
The feature documentary Three (Extra) Ordinary Women tells the personal stories of three women of color who have collectively overcome poverty, abuse, systemic racism, and political occupation through practicing forgiveness, helping others and immersing themselves in nature. As they brave their biggest physical obstacle yet – climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – trekking up Africa’s tallest peak through arctic temperatures and some of the highest altitude on the planet, they discover they still have emotional hurdles to climb.


ADDITIONAL SHORT FILMS

NARRATIVE SHORT FILMS
Billy Boy
Director: Will Roane
Country: US, Running Time: 6 min
In this tense, enigmatic drama, a former football star turned real estate broker meets with a troubled young heir to an old-money fortune to close a deal on a new house, and nothing goes according to plan.

Bronx Park Thunder
Director: Shaun Vivaris
Country: US, Running Time: 16 min
Forced to run an errand for a Bronx mafioso, a small-time fireworks & ecstasy dealer seizes the opportunity of a lifetime and goes rogue.

Homing
Director: Ricardo J. Varona
Country: US, Running Time: 17 min
In a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood, a reclusive pigeon keeper is tasked with caring for his estranged daughter for a day but is blindsided by a revelation that could mean losing her for good.

I Promise You Paradise
Director: Morad Mostafa
Country: Egypt, Running Time: 22 min
Following a violent incident; Eissa, a 17 year old African migrant in Egypt is in a quest against time to save his loved ones whatever it takes.

Love Letter for the Subway
Director: Mary Hawkins
Country: US, Running Time: 2 min
Animation – The filmmaker works with type making this set of hand-drawn, animated letters representing New York City’s subway lines as a love letter to NYC. Imagery is pulled from the neighborhoods that trains move through, using common items in the subway as textures, and found shapes in the architecture and sights around us as we get where we’re going.

Pantagruel
Director: Omar Al-Nakib
Country: US, Running Time: 6 min
A New York scientist’s experiment to revive a hybrid goes horribly right.

Pen, Again
Director: Julian J. Delacruz
Country: US, Running Time: 13 min
Mourning the unexpected loss of his wife, Leo embraces a new technology that promises to bring her back. We discover Leo just before he’s about to receive his “new” wife, Penelope. Not knowing what to expect, Leo discovers what he’s willing to accept to cope with the grief.

Speak Up Brotha!
Director: Wes Andre Goodrich
Country: US, Running Time: 15 min
Grad student Ahmad Jones drives for a rideshare company. He receives a request from a mysterious woman — a poet. They connect over music, but she seems to ignore him. When the opportunity arises to see her again, Ahmad must learn how to communicate in ways beyond his understanding to win her heart.

The War Torn Drum
Director: Derek A Ham
Country: US, Running Time: 12 min
Animation – In the late 1860’s, a U.S. Marshal bonds with a post Civil War drummer boy in their search to track down a wanted criminal.

What Somalia Wants
Director: Jade Bryan
Country: US, Running Time: 44 min
In this gentrified Harlem dramedy series, Somalia LaMine, a Black deaf fashion designer, pop-up store owner, and TikTok influencer experiences new challenges and hilarious situations associated with the pressures and demands of a Gen Z era.


DOCUMENTARY SHORT FILMS
A Race In The Sun
Director: K. Nicole Mills
Country: US, Running Time: 20 min
An exploration of cycling culture through the eyes of Ayesha McGowan who rose through the ranks of the New York City underground cycling world to break barriers as the world’s first African American woman to become a professional cyclist.

The Book of Days
Director: Ian Phillips
Country: US, Running Time: 43 min
In a neighborhood where everything around him is changing, one man’s life remains stagnant. A documentary by Ian Phillips, filmed over the course of sixteen years.

Dr. Eddie Henderson: Uncommon Genius
The remarkable life story of renowned African American jazz trumpeter and flugelhrn player Eddie Henderson, whose curiosity, desire for exploration, and athleticicsm led him down many career paths, including figure skating and dual career in medicine and music.

The Historic HBCU Photograph
Director: Ciara D. Ingram
Country: UK, Running Time: 27 min
In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic put an abrupt halt to all in-person social activities across the nation. An ongoing wave of civil unrest ensued in the United States, triggered by the murder of George Floyd during his arrest by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020, leading to riots and peaceful protests aainst years of systemic racism toward African Americans in the United States. In 2021, a vaccine was approved by the CDC, allowing social activities to slowly resume. As a result, HBCU alumni from across the country came together for one day on the steps of Morningside Park in Harlem for a Historic Photograph.

How To Sue The Klan
Director: John Beder
Country: US, Running Time: 34 min
From Producer Ben Crump. America’s first hate group, the Ku Klux Klan, dealt out hatred and violence for over a century without penalty – until five Black women and a young Black civil rights lawyer finally forced them to pay for their crimes. The strength of these women and the groundbreaking 1982 civil case set forth by their attorney established a legal precedent that paved the road for today’s fight against organized hate.

Interception: Jayne Kennedy
Director: Safiya Songhai
Country: US, Running Time: 15 min
When a bronze-skin bombshell rocks the world of Sunday Morning Football, millions tune in… but few know the tumultuous story of Jayne Kennedy, the first Black woman to boldly run interception on the racial lines of American sportscasting.

Kingdome
Director: Shawn Antoine II
Country: US, Running Time: 20 min
Kingdome chronicles the remarkable journey of the legendary basketball tournament in Harlem known as the Kingdome. For 37 years, this tournament has been a symbol of community, resilience, and the transformative power of basketball. Through the eyes of its founder, Terry “Huncho” Cooper, and the diverse cast of players, fans, and organizers, the film explores the profound impact of the Kingdome on the lives of those involved and the Harlem community at large.

Taking Your Best Shot
Director: Aminah Salaam
Country: US, Running Time: 31 min
This documentary focuses on a Youth Citywide Basketball Tournament held by the New York City Housing Authority for its residents. The protagonists in this film are youth and teen athletes from New York City Housing, also known as ‘the projects’ all over NYC.

Tell Me Your Story
Directors: Jamal Joseph, Mike De Carp
Country: US, Running Time: 40 min
Academy Award Nominee musician Tevin Thomas comes back to New York City after many years to record a new album with his lifelong colleagues. The music sessions become an opportunity to reflect on his life and musical journey.


EXPERIMENTAL
For Those That Lived There
Director: Shawn Antoine II
Country: US, Running Time: 6 min
Amidst the ivy-draped remnants of once-notorious public housing projects, the film weaves a visual tapestry, navigating the poignant impacts of gentrification, the displacement of Black legacies, and the emergent migrant narratives. Against Chicago’s ever-evolving skyline, this evocative exploration immerses audiences into the soul of a neighborhood transformed.

Re-Éksodos
Director: Julia Horta Paiva
Country: Brazil, Running Time: 16 min


MUSIC VIDEOS
Cyano Sun Suite
Director: Stefan Verna
Country: Canada, Running Time: 9 min

Damn Thing
Director: Toby Sidler
Country: US, Running Time: 4 min

In Sync
Director: Jeff Collin Suttles
Country: US, Running Time: 9 min

Never Hold Me Down
Director: Toby Sidler
Country: US, Running Time: 4 min


VIRTUAL REALITY
A Vocal Landscape
Directors: Omid Zarei, Anne Jeppesen
Country: Denmark, Running Time: 14 min
A Vocal Landscape is a hyperrealistic VR short film that explores the strange and familiar
Anatomy of a conversation.

The Carrier
Director: Andrew Cochrane
Country: US, Running Time: 10 min
The Carrier is told through the eyes of a baby waking up in the back seat of their family’s car, which is stuck in a traffic jam. In the front seat, the baby’s parents lament their decision to wait to evacuate the city – from what is not clear, but the duct-taped vents and windows of the car and the luggage strapped to the cars surrounding them seem to indicate that something serious is happening.

Nirwana Gold
Director: Andreas Waldenmaier
Country: Germany, Running Time: 13 min
Nirwana.Gold is a multi-sensory virtual reality trilogy that offers the viewer three different spiritual experiences. An individual film, soundtrack, perfume, and ice cream flavor was created for each VR experience.


WEBISODES
6 Train to Parkchester
Director: J. Swain
Country: US, Running Time: 20 min
Webisode – Based on a true story, 6 Train to Parkchester is a gripping drama about two brothers (Dirk&Jewelz) from the Southeast section of The Bronx.

Connection (episode 2)
Director: Sarah Gross
Country: US, Running Time: 44 min
The Corona virus is not over. Nor are the divisions between us. Race and economic situations separate us far more than any ocean. This intimate 4-part documentary builds a political and historical chronicle of our time through personal stories of daily life from around the world.

Lucy and Sara (pilot)
Director: Susan Park
Country: US, Running Time: 7 min
Two unlikely recluse sisters learn to cope with living with each other after the death of their father.

Rick Younger Presents The Rick Younger Show (Starring Rick Younger as Rick Younger)
Director: Lalou Trotter Dammond
Country: US, Running Time: 12 min
Middle aged actor Rick Younger suddenly finds himself out of his Broadway gig and discovers that he must go viral if he wants to have a career.


YOUTH FILMS
Asphyxia
Director: Luciano Alzate
Country: Colombia, Running Time: 14 min
A failed writer and his son are stuck in their home after an apocalypse. Tensions rise as the son vies for freedom while the father forces him to write.

Black Care
Director: John Joseph MonacoCountry: US, Running Time: 4 min
Life and meaning at Smitty’s Barbershop.

Little Sahara
Director: Emilio Martí López
Country: Spain, Running Time: 30 min
Those who do not know the Sahara think that in the desert there is only sand. But here there are children, who play and draw and make movies, and who would like not to have to think about war. In the desert there is a European colony, an occupied country, called Western Sahara, and there are thousands of Sahrawi refugees living a hard life in exile. Little Sahara is an animated documentary that tells their story, that of a resilient people who try to thrive and grow up in the Hamada, where everything struggles to grow.

Project: KLB2
Director: Andrew Baker Taylor, Andrew Yuen
Country: US, Running Time: 8 min
Set in the near future. When Caleb, a humanoid AI teenager escapes, a corporation unleashes a search to find the missing subject. On the run Caleb seeks out his long-lost Mother for asylum. However, when he finally has the chance to reunite with her, something internal prevents him from doing so. He then realizes he must figure out how his emotions work to gather the courage to properly meet his mother.



ABOUT THE HARLEM INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Celebrating the art of cinema in the home of the Harlem Renaissance, The Harlem International Film Festival (Hi) inspires and entertains by honoring dynamic films by anyone about anything under the sun. Conceived from the belief that we all have unique experiences and perspectives to share, the Festival actively seeks and exhibits fresh work. Hi is committed to exemplifying the eminence that Harlem represents and is dedicated to bringing attention to the finest filmmakers from Harlem and across the globe.

For previous Harlem International Film Festival coverage, click here!

The Harlem  International Film Festival logo

‘PRATFALL’ (2024) Complex and quintessentially human walk and talk in NYC teems with trauma and connection.

freestyle-digital-media-logoPRATFALL

PRATFALL poster

A troubled insomniac encounters an enigmatic French tourist in Central Park. The two set off on a sleepless New York adventure as the city casts a shadow over them.

PRATFALL 1Filmmaker Alex Andre captures an unusual connection between two strangers. PRATFALL walks a highwire of intimacy, trust, and confession. It’s a powerfully human story through the lens of two culturally diverse individuals. 

Chloé Groussard gives Joelle a tangible vulnerability. She is honest, wide-eyed, and receives Burge’s energy at every turn. 

Joshua Burge (BUZZARD) should be a household name. His ability to slip into the skin of every character he plays is astounding. The manic energy delivered in Eli wreaks of an authentic New Yorker who’s been there too long without the proper mental health care. He is abrasive to most strangers and yet embraces Joelle’s company fullfold. His chemistry with Groussard is the stuff of the gods. It’s challenging to decipher which lines of dialogue are organic or written by Andre. A compliment to all

PRATFALL 2Filmed predominantly on the Upper West Side (trust a local gal to recognize every street corner in the opening scene), moving its way east, then south through midtown and back, the hand-held cinematography lends to the intimacy and claustrophobia of Eli and Joelle’s inner turmoil. The classical score lulls you during the long follow shots. The upbeat soundtrack is a fantastic foil. 

The script feels like an eclectic mix of overheard conversations and romanticizing the city. The pace is uneven, but that does not lessen the most rewarding scenes, seeped in unresolved wounds and the essence of New York. PRATFALL boasts a tragic finale that somehow manages to be poetic perfection. It is a complex and quintessentially human walk and talk in NYC, teeming with trauma and connection.

Week-long theatrical release begins April 26 at Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles,
the same day as Freestyle Digital Media releases the film on
all major VOD platforms in North America (pre-order)

Credits

Director/Writer/Cinematographer/Editor/Producer – Alex Andre

Co-Producer – Jordyn Barber

107 minutes, USA, 2023

 

Follow:

PRATFALL Instagram: @pratfallmovie

Alex Andre Instagram: @thatalexandre

Joshua Burge Instagram: @joshuatheburge

Chloé Groussard Instagram: @craph

 

About Freestyle Digital Media

The digital distribution unit of Byron Allen’s Allen Media Group, Freestyle Digital Media, is a premiere multi-platform distributor with direct partnerships across all major cable, satellite, digital and streaming platforms. Capitalizing on a robust infrastructure, proven track record, and a veteran sales team, Freestyle Digital Media is a true home for independent films. Recent releases include THE ROAD DOG starring comedian Doug Stanhope, SURVIVE starring HBO’s GAME OF THRONES star Sophie Turner and Corey Hawkins, the music documentary profiling blues guitar legends Jimmie Vaughan & Stevie Ray Vaughan, BROTHERS IN BLUES, DEAR ZOE starring Sadie Sink from the hit Netflix series STRANGER THINGS, Jessica Capshaw and Theo Rossi. Other Freestyle Digital Media titles include BEST SUMMER EVER the teen musical featuring a fully integrated cast and crew of people with and without disabilities, produced by Jamie Lee Curtis, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson, THE WEDDING YEAR starring Sarah Hyland and Anna Camp, THE LAST PHOTOGRAPH starring Danny Houston, UNTOGETHER starring Jamie Dornan, Jemima Kirke, Ben Mendelsohn, Alice Eve and Billy Crystal, the action-comedy BETTER START RUNNING starring Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons and Maria Bello, THE BACHELORS starring Academy Award-winner J.K. Simmons, Julie Delpy and Odeya Rush and the award-winning documentary HONDROS produced by Jamie Lee Curtis and Jake Gyllenhaal.

For more information, visit:

www.allenmedia.tv

www.freestyledigitalmedia.tv

Director Bio:

Alex Andre is an award-winning Director, Cinematographer, Writer & Producer based in Los Angeles. He is recognized for SADA (2022), which won 12 awards and received Official Selection in over 20 festivals worldwide. His feature film debut is PRATFALL starring Joshua Burge and Chloé Groussard. Andre also has producing credits on Alison Bagnall’s FUNNY BUNNY (2015) and Erin Li’s KEPLER X47 (2013). Andre was raised in the South of France and the English countryside before moving to Los Angeles. He cites Alan Clarke, Nicholas Roeg and The Dardennes as early cinematic influences.

Star Bios:

Joshua Burge, a Michigan native, has appeared in THE REVENANT opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, 20TH CENTURY WOMEN opposite Greta Gerwig, and BURDEN opposite Garrett Hedlund, which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. RELAXER, Joshua’s third collaboration with filmmaker Joel Potrykus, premiered to great reviews at SXSW. This collaboration follows APE (2012) and BUZZARD (2014), the latter of which also made its world premiere at SXSW and was named one of Indiewire’s top films of the year.

Chloé Groussard is a French actress, born in Bretagne. She took her first theater classes at the age of 10 in her hometown. After graduating from a business master degree, she decided to turn her passion into her everyday life. Chloé intensified her acting training in Paris and New York and she started performing both on stage and on screen – in France, Italy and the United States. After giving her the role of Valérie in his short film Sada, Alex Andre chose her to embody Joelle alongside American actor Joshua Burge in his first feature film, Pratfall, marking also the feature debut of Chloé – for which she won the award of best actress at the Manchester Film Festival. Chloé is also part of the upcoming Netflix series of Stefano Sollima, Il Mostro, and she’s now represented by French prestigious agency, Time Art.


For more Joshua Burge films, click here!

‘THE COFFEE TABLE’ (2024) is the year’s most disturbing horror film.

cinephobia logo

THE COFFEE TABLE

The Coffee Table 2024 posterThe Coffee Table 2024 poster

THE COFFEE TABLE follows Jesus and Maria, a couple going through a difficult time in their relationship. Nevertheless, they have just become parents. To shape their new life, they decide to buy a new coffee table. A decision that will change their existence.


A film about a coffee table and not at all about a coffee table, this meditation on communication through the lens of horror is epic. THE COFFEE TABLE is the year’s most traumatizing film.

The Coffee Table still 2The notion of invisible labor rears its ugly head around 15 minutes in, but it’s what happens 4 minutes later that is so horrific you won’t believe what you’re eyes are telling your brain. THE COFFEE TABLE pulls no punches. Its first brutal images are so disturbing you won’t know what to do next. With Maria dutifully shopping for her idiot husband, the audience can only wait with bated breath for her reaction and what Jesús plans to do next. Admittedly, his behavior will break you.

Estafanía de los Santos delivers a tour de force performance as Maria. Her unconditional love for their son, incredibly intense opinions, and full-bellied laugh create a mesmerizing turn.

The Coffee Table still 1David Pareja gives Jesús a shockingly calm demeanor when forced to speak with the other cast members. It will, no doubt, upset the viewer tenfold. The lies flow out, and poor Maria continues to berate him without knowing a damn thing. His subsequent management of trauma drives the entire film.

The score by Bambikina is a demented manipulation of lullaby tones and funeral dirge. The practical FX and makeup are so effective. You wish they weren’t. THE COFFEE TABLE quite literally drips with irony and dread. Every minute that passes, the dialogue digs into your psyche in the most intrusive way. It’s brilliant and unspeakably fraught writing. You are not ready.


THE COFFEE TABLE will begin a limited theatrical run beginning in Los Angeles at Laemmle Glendale on April 19, with additional markets to follow including New York, Austin, and Chicago. The film will arrive on DVD and VOD on May 14.

 

THE COFFEE TABLE
Original title: La mesita del comedor

Directed by Caye Casas
Written by: Cristina Borobia, Caye Casas

Starring: David Pareja, Estefanía de los Santos, Josep Riera, Claudia Riera, Eduardo Antuña

Produced by: Norbert Llaràs
Production Company: Alhena Production
Co-Production Company: Apocalipsis Producciones, La Charito Films
Cinematography by: Alberto Morago
Edited by: Caye Casas
Music by: Bambikina

Spain I 2022 I Horror, Comedy I 90 minutes

The film held a robust festival life, including a World Premiere at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival where it won Best Film in the ‘Rebels with a Cause’ section, a North American premiere at Fantastic Fest, and additional screenings at Fantaspoa – International Fantastic Film Festival, Macabro – Festival Internacional de Cine de la Ciudad de México, and Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival, where it received the White Raven award.

For more horror film reviews, click here!

‘EXHUMA’ (2024) Let the dead stay buried.

well go usa logoEXHUMA

Exhuma-Poster-WellGoUSA-1382x2048 An ancient evil affects the firstborn children of a wealthy family with uncontrollable wailing in their dreams. Eager to cash in, a team of macabre experts takes on this new client. As they dig deeper into this unique case, the usually confident group discovers they are in over their heads. In EXHUMA, that’s only the beginning of this horrifying tale.

Exhuma-KHorror-WellGoUSA-1340x754-5Performances are magnificent across the board. This spectacular multi-generational ensemble cast delivers engrossing mystery and terror. The script unfolds in chapters, like a how-to guide dealing with the underworld. Descriptions of rituals and occupational titles come in narration from the team. This creative storytelling immerses the audience in what feels like an inevitable tragedy. Complicating things further are the secrets our wealthy family hides. Genre fans will have a field day with horror canon balanced with the slightest touch of humor and serious gore. It is beyond compelling.

Exhuma Well Go UsaMixing tradition and superstition combined with an ominous score makes the hairs on your arms stick straight up. It’s a multi-sensory watch. EXHUMA deserves your full attention from the very first frame. There is so much meat on the bone. Expanding this world almost certainly feels possible and welcome. At its current runtime of two-plus hours, viewers would eat up more stories from this team. Their chemistry is magic, and a franchise would delight fans. The twists and turns keep coming. EXHUMA is undeniably one of the most intriguing cinematic experiences of the year.


EXHUMA 

Opening in Los Angeles March 15 | In Theaters Across North America March 22

For more reviews of Well Go USA films, click here!

 

All things Horror, we’ve got you covered!


Exhuma-KHorror-WellGoUSA-1340x754-2 Visit the official film page: https://wellgousa.com/films/exhuma

When a renowned shaman (KIM Go-Eun) and her protégé (Lee Do-hyun) are hired by a wealthy, enigmatic family, they begin investigating the cause of a disturbing supernatural illness that affects only the first-born children of each generation. With the help of a knowledgeable mortician (YOO Hai-jin) and the country’s most revered geomancer (CHOI Min-sik), they soon trace the affliction’s origin to a long-hidden family grave located on sacred ground. Sensing an ominous aura surrounding the burial site, the team opts to exhume and relocate the ancestral remains immediately. But as something much darker emerges, they soon discover what befalls those who dare to mess with the wrong grave.

Directed by: Jang Jae-Hyun

Cast: Choi Min-Sik, Kim Go-Eun, Yoo Hai-Jin, and Lee Do-Hyun


Watch more Well Go USA films online: https://bit.ly/WellGoFilmsOnline

ABOUT WELL GO USA ENTERTAINMENT:

Well Go USA, the studio behind TRIPLE THREAT, TRAIN TO BUSAN, and the IP MAN franchise, brings the best in martial arts, action, genre, and independent films from the U.S. and around the world to North America.

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‘CREEP BOX’ (2024) is massively disturbing

CREEP BOX

CREEP BOX Poster

If you’re a paranormal enthusiast, you’ve heard of the average ghost tour. If you’re a little more intense, you download the Ghost Radar app and casually track color-coded spirits wandering in your vicinity. But, if you’re serious about the other side, book a psychic guided tour on the Queen Mary for your first wedding anniversary, paying extra for the EVP Spirit Box seance, like I did. 5 stars. Highly recommend. Patrick Biesemans’ CREEP BOX pits science and grief against each other in a disturbing and psychologically unsettling manner.

CREEP BOXDr. Franklin Caul has created a simulated consciousness with the dead. The DOJ wants it, but Caul has ulterior motives. The tech uses data from the deceased to have conversations or seek answers. In the mix is a swirl of overlapping thoughts and confusion that get under your skin. You cannot help but listen to them, and they are chilling. Caul observes that when suicide is the cause of death, the deterioration of self slows.

Adam David Thompson (Here Alone) plays the voice of Adam. His interpretation of an unseen character gets under your skin. He is nothing short of magnificent. Geoffrey Cantor carries CREEP BOX will ease. As Caul delves into the mind of a particular simulation, closing in on a personal agenda, Cantor’s humanity seeps through the academic shell. Geoffrey Cantor’s stoic nature perfectly matches Caul’s turmoil. He settles into unresolved trauma. It’s a fantastic performance.

CREEP BOX stillWhat might sound crazy is that this tech already exists. Customers can pay several different companies worldwide to build an AI version of their past loved ones. A recent Sundance documentary, ETERNAL YOU, is entirely about these services and their potential effects, good and bad. CREEP BOX takes these concepts down the rabbit hole, gladly stepping into the darkness and staying there.

In CREEP BOX and ETERNAL YOU, things change once the entity you communicate with appears sentient. Questions of ethics and the potential emotional damage of these interactions hang like a black cloud above the viewer. It’s a film that will undoubtedly mesmerize anyone who has suffered from grief. It instills wonder, curiosity, and pure terror. CREEP BOX will haunt you whether you like it or not.


Creep Box next screens at April’s Philip K. Dick Film Festival, which takes place at The Museum of the Moving Image in New York City.

‘VESELKA’ (2024) doc follows a restaurant entering the global stage

VESELKA:
THE RAINBOW ON THE CORNER
AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD

VESELKA: THE RAINBOW ON THE CORNER AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD

New York City’s beloved Ukrainian restaurant Veselka is best known for its borscht and varenyky, but it has become a beacon of hope for Ukraine. As the second-generation owner Tom Birchard reluctantly retires after 54 years, his son Jason faces the pressures of stepping into his father’s shoes as the war in Ukraine impacts his family and staff.


The first time I ate at Veselka, I’d only lived in New York for six months. A friend of mine, a lifelong New Yorker, walked us in at 1 am. We were sober but sleepy. The palpable energy of the packed wood-paneled room woke us up before a dish was served. I remember being a little awed by the fragile ecosystem – here, Wall Street players were sitting shoulder to shoulder with grinning grandmothers. Warm chatter and the smell of fried onions filled the space. That environment, that first bowl of borscht at Veselka, was one of the many little moments that helped me feel at home in a busy, sometimes uncaring city.

Michael Fiore’s documentary, Veselka: The Rainbow on the corner at the center of the world, takes the viewer into both the history and heart of the beloved Ukrainian restaurant. With the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the restaurant finds itself catapulted onto a transformational crossroads. Already tested by the global pandemic, its owner, Tom Birchard, hands the reins to his son, Jason. Jason finds himself at the helm of a world-famous family business, trying to put his own stamp on the restaurant while understanding its rapidly evolving role in both the local and global Ukrainian community.

VESELKA_Press ShotThe documentary is by turns uplifting and shattering. Most powerfully, it is a stark reminder of the human costs of ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war. Unbelievably, this week will mark 2 years since Russia’s invasion and escalation of the conflict. While the war may not be at the forefront of the public conscious in 2024 to the same degree as it once was, it remains a constant for the staff and families at Veselka. This is not an overseas battle for them – these are their loved ones and families fighting and dying while the world moves on to the next crisis.

As a leader, Jason Birchard is equal parts toughness and warmth. His determination for his staff and community is inspiring.  Early in the Russian invasion, Veselka hosts Mayor Adams and his delegation to advocate for additional support for Ukraine. Watching this scene gives the viewer the rare experience of seeing an elected official being written off by a constituent in real-time. This superficial political moment stands in stark contrast to Veselka’s kitchen, which is humming with empathy and support.

Veselka: The Rainbow on the corner at the center of the world is many things. A  reminder of a brutal ongoing conflict. A challenge to the audience to remember how far the support of individuals can go in the face of global needs. A testament to the grit and determination behind a family business….And a reminder that you’ve really been craving borscht lately.


In Theaters This Friday 
February 23rd, 2024

Written, Produced, and Directed by Michael Fiore

Narrated by Golden Globe Award-winner David Duchovny (“The X Files”)
Score by Ryan Shore, featuring Grammy Award-winning saxophonist David Sanborn (“Lethal Weapon”)

Poster designed by Neil Jamieson (TIME “Person of the Year” cover artist – feat. President Zelensky)

Featuring interviews with father-son owners of Veselka Tom and Jason Birchard, additional Veselka staff as well as footage of New York Mayor Eric Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul


For more of Sam’s reviews, click here!

‘THE PRIVATE EYE’ (2024)- A neo- noir Matt Rife

THE PRIVATE EYE

THE PRIVATE EYE

A convoluted plot finds a down-on-his-luck detective becoming infatuated with his desperate new client. Jack Cook‘s THE PRIVATE EYE takes us on a twisty, often head-scratching ride through neo-noir weirdness.

(L-R) Denzel Whittaker and Matt Rife in Illusion Islands' THE PRIVATE EYE photo courtesy - Illusion IslandsMort and Michelle’s dynamic feels incredibly forced. The dialogue is a bizarre mix of awkward bad jokes and deeply personal romantic words. It is a baffling mix. The story is a mess, and there are innumerable superfluous scenes. The pace is glacial. At an hour and fifty-six minutes, this could have been eighty minutes at the most. 

Michelle’s character has no consistency, and by the end of the film, the casting choice feels entirely out of place That is not Clare Grant’s fault by any means. Matt Rife (Don’t Suck) does his best, actually giving audiences a taste of his surprising flair for the dramatic. If the right people see this film, it could open the door for more serious roles.
Matt Rife and Clare Grant in Illusion Islands' THE PRIVATE EYE photo courtesy - Illusion IslandsThe most successful aspect of the film is Eric Roberts‘ soothing narration, but there are too many inconsistencies for the final twist to go down smoothly. This is one of those times where a flashback montage of all the clues would greatly benefit the film.


THE PRIVATE EYE will be In Theaters Nationwide on Friday, February 9, 2024

Starring MATT RIFE, CLARE GRANT, ELLIOT, DENZEL WHITAKER, ERIK GRIFFIN, LEXY PANTERRA, JAY REEVES, ELIJAH BOOTHE, EUGENIA KUZMINA, ALEX KAGIANARIS, PETRI HAWKINS BYRD, ERIC ROBERTS, JOSIAH JACK KALIAN, JT PALMER, and CORY KIRK 

 

Directed by JACK COOK

Written by JACK COOK, PATRICK ROE, HOPE AYIYI, and ROSALINDA BOOKS

Produced by HOPE AYIYI, STREAM GARDNER, and ALEX KAGIANARIS

Co-Produced by RAAJ RAHHI and ELIJAH BOOTHE

Associate Produced by JAMES FRIEDHOFF

Executive Produced by JOE HEBELER, JOHN HEBELER, MARK DOC BERRY, STAN PARIS, JEFF SCHOENLING, TIM DOUGHERTY, CHIP TURNER, and BILL MCCLOY

Edited by WAYAN PALMIERI

 

Mystery/Romance/Comedy | 114 Minutes

 Rated R for language, sexual content, and brief violence.

 

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Film Website: https://www.illusionislands.com/

Review: ‘THIN SKIN’ is an original look at stress and family dynamics.

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Synopsis: Ahamefule Joe Oluo’s days are spent at a soul-deadening corporate job and his nights come alive behind a trumpet at Seattle jazz clubs. As he struggles to climb out of the ruins of his broken marriage, Aham has to deal with endless bureaucracy, a boss trying to lead him to the Lord, and his mother who won’t cut ties with his ex. Aham is living with his entire family once again in his sister’s cramped one-bedroom apartment. The one person missing from this living situation is Aham’s estranged Nigerian father. His brief reappearance sends the family into a tailspin and a search for meaning. Pressed together in this vise of a home, the family struggles with adult life and the meaning of family.


Stress can do things to you. In THIN SKIN, Aham’s life is falling apart around him. Circumstances, some of his own doing and others out of left field, throw his days, health, and sanity into chaos.

Aham is a recently divorced musician forced to live with his sister and flighty mother. When his estranged Nigerian father calls them out of the blue, childhood trauma bubbles to the surface, and Aham must confront his life in all its messy glory.

The family dynamics are fascinating. Navigating guilt, disappointment, financial realities, parenthood, and passion feels palpable. Audiences will relate to this film in more than one way. It’s stunningly shot, and the screenplay is hilarious.

This cast, in general, is wonderfully put together. Some of the most memorable moments revolve around the ancillary characters. The chemistry is remarkable. Annette Toutonghi plays the disillusioned mother, eccentric, caring, and complete flake Susan. She is darling to watch. I want to put her in my pocket.

There is a whole lot of dialogue that happens at Ahamefule J. Oluo (who stars, co-writes, executive produces, and scores the film.) The way he responds is delightful to watch. He has a naturally grounded tone, especially up against the weighty issues of abandonment and getting your shit together. And, boy, can he wail on the trumpet. Oluo manages to conquer the progressively bizarre plot, as his stress physically manifests in graphic ways.

The film is genuinely funny and captivating. It’s an unexpected story with universal themes, pushing the boundaries of genre storytelling.


IN SELECT THEATERS

Bayview Entertainment NY Theatrical Release 11.30 and Wide VOD Release 11.28

Directed by

Charles Mudede
 

Written by

Charles Mudede

Lindy West

Ahamefule J. Oluo
 

Produced by

Jennessa West

Michael Seiwerath

Jonathan Caso


Starring

Ahamefule J. Olou

Annette Toutonghi

Dwayne Kennedy

Hari Kondabolu

Ijeoma Olou

Jennifer Lanier



Social Media

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thinskinmovie

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/thinskinmovie

Film Website: www.thinskinmovie.com

DOC NYC 2023 review: Henya Brodeker’s ‘THE THREE OF US’ perfectly captures the complexities of advocating for a special needs child

THE THREE OF US

In a society governed by tradition, a young Orthodox couple defies norms to integrate their autistic son. As they risk everything, their journey explores the delicate balance between love, faith, and self-discovery. Through their struggle, they challenge preconceived notions, embracing parenthood and searching for their place in the world.


Filmmaker Henya Brodbeker turns the camera on her, her husband, and their young autistic son, Ari. Through years of filming, we witness the evolution of relationships in her Orthodox community, her marriage, and with herself. This is one family’s story about belonging. 

THE THREE OF US is one of the most authentic depictions of what it feels like to parent an autistic child. Your unconditional love exists simultaneously with anger, despair, hope, and fear. Henya pulls no punches. Her unfiltered conversations with her husband hit hard. Their raw emotions and vulnerability allow us to sit in their shoes from the beginning. The insulting treatment Henya and Arale receive from their ultra-Orthodox community is infuriating. Arale and Henya invite us to their exhaustive fight for Ari’s integration into a neurotypical classroom setting. The often dismissive responses from community school administrations are outrageous. 

Anyone who follows my career as a film journalist knows I’m a Mom of a young autistic son. I talk about his diagnosis and navigating the complexities of existing in a primarily neurotypical environment. We are lucky in the grand scheme of ASD possibilities. Our son’s cognitive abilities are off the charts. He is loving, funny, friendly, and would not hurt a fly. Dealing with public meltdowns, particularly if those around you do not know or understand, can be a crushing, demoralizing, tear-filled experience. Nothing is easy. It’s undeniably isolating. It’s the outside world we fear most. THE THREE OF US is irrefutable proof of how equal opportunity changes the lives of families. 

The reality exposed in the film may take some viewers off guard. Arale and Henya’s bravery deserves applause and respect. To turn a camera on your lived-in chaos? Wow. I only write about it. THE THREE OF US triumphs in its unfettered honesty and in challenging any preconceived notions of raising a child on the spectrum. Disability representation in film is vital. As an advocate for my child, I thank Henya for making this film. I hope it changes some hearts and minds.


International Premiere of
‘The Three of Us’ at DOC NYC

Thursday, November 9 at 6:45 pm
Village East by Angelika
Director Henya Brodbeker in-person for premiere!
Plus online dates: November 10-26
https://www.docnyc.net/film/the-three-of-us/


 

About the Filmmakers

Henya Brodbeker, Director & Cinematographer
Israeli writer-director and pioneering filmmaker from the ultra-Orthodox community. Her first short film OUR SON (2022) screened at the Cinequest film festival, won the best film award at the Jerusalem Jewish Film Festival, and participate in other festivals around the world. Her documentary THE THREE OF US (2023) won the Diamond Award for Best Documentary, Best Director & Best Editing at the Jerusalem Film Festival. The film will be broadcasted by IPBC in 2023. She is currently working on BODILY ENCOUNTERS, a feature film in development with the support of the Israel Film Fund.

Avigail Sperber Producer
Avigail Sperber is a documentary director, producer, and cinematographer originally from Jerusalem. After graduating from Ma’aleh Film School, Avigail has gone on to create award-winning films that have screened at prestigious festivals around the world. Her 2010 film THE HANGMAN received Special Mention at IDFA and went on to screen at Full Frame, Visions du Reel, and more. PROBATION TIME (2014) won the Best Israeli Film Award at Docaviv and screened afterwards at True/False and Krakow Film Festival, among others. In recent years, through her production company Pardes Productions, she has produced and shot several documentary films and series, including THE THREE OF US (Jerusalem FF 2023), Wedding Night (Docaviv 2023), IT’S A WRAP (Haifa FF 2022), COVERED UP (Docaviv 2018), and more.


 

Year Two is a Go! Dances With Films NYC 2023 announces lineup with 64 world premieres

2nd Annual Dances With Films – NYC 

announces films and events

(November 30-December 3)

 

The celebrated true indie-focused film festival returns to New York City
with three times as many films as last year’s debut. 
 
64 World Premiere Screenings Featured
  
Dylan K. Narang’s TAPAWINGO is the Opening Night 
selection, and Nicholas Gyeney’s THE ACTIVATED MAN 
will make its World Premiere as the Closing Night selection.

   

TAPAWINGO

 

New York, NY (November 9, 2023) – Dances With Films announced the film lineup for the return of what has become LA’s largest purely indie film-focused film festival over the past 26 years to New York City (November 30-December 3) for the second time featuring a film lineup nearly three times the size of last year’s NYC debut. DWF alum Dylan K. Narang’s Tapawingo is the Opening Night selection, and Nicholas Gyeney’s psychological thriller The Activated Man will make its world premiere in the Closing Night slot.

 

Among DWF NYC’s lineup of 136 films, including 20 narrative features, 9 documentary features, 19 television and streaming pilots, and 88 short films (73 narrative and 15 documentaries), are an impressive number of world premieres. All screenings will take place at Regal Union Square (850 Broadway).

THE ACTIVATED MAN

 

Among the 64 world premieres are Gyeney’s The Activated ManEtana Jacobson’s Advanced Chemistry, Kevin Interdonato’s The Bastard SonsMichael Groom’s Between The Lights, Isaac Hirotsu Woofter’s Bound, Sara Katarina Burke and Aaron Andrew Keene’s Can’t Seem to Make You Mine, Ryan Moore’s Influence, Michelle Bossy’s Nobody’s Home, Brendan Boogie’s Tallywacker, Micah Khan’s The Zombie Wedding, Justin Best’s Sheryl, and Wynette Yao’s District Of Second Chances. Hanna Vastinsalo’s Palimpsest will make its North American Premiere at Dances With Films NYC.

 After becoming the leading beacon for true indie films and filmmakers in Los Angeles over the past 26 years, this will mark Dances With Films’ return to New York City for the second year. Dances With Films’ Founders and Directors Leslee Scallon and Michael Trent, said, “This year’s theme is “the color of imagination” and that imagination, by its various definitions, exemplifies what Dances With Films will be highlighting this December. We could not be more excited to return to NYC and debut so many wonderful films and help provide a platform for all our indie filmmakers and their projects under the spotlight of this great city.”

 Thursday, November 30 will feature the Opening Night presentation of DWF alumni Dylan K. Narang’s Tapawingo. Previously at DWF with his feature All I Need (2016), Narang’s Tapawingo is a lighthearted coming-of-age comedy stars Jon Heder as an eccentric young man who lives with his mother and works in a mailroom. However, when he must pick up his boss’ son from school, he discovers the kid is the subject of relentless bullying. at school, Naturally, he assembles a team of misfits to ensure the boy’s safety, but the good deed takes an unexpected turn when they discover that the network of bullies they are guarding against wields more power and influence than they initially thought. The film also stars Gina Gershon, Billy Zane, John Ratzenberger, and Amanda Bearse.

 As part of DWF NYC’s dedicated programming of horror, thrillers, and genre films, the Closing Night selection also comes from the film festival’s Midnight section. Sunday, December 3, Nicholas Gyeney’s The Activated Man will make its world premiere as it officially closes the film festival. In the film, a man, struggling with the grief from losing his best friend and beloved dog to cancer, begins to have strange visions only he can see. While he questions whether his mind has fractured or if it’s real, a mysterious rise in murder-suicides takes hold of the city, and he becomes haunted by images of a shadowy figure known as ‘The Fedora Man’. To survive, he must face his fears and confront ‘The Fedora Man’ as he uncovers dark secrets from his past, while finally embracing who he really is, and what he is meant to do.

ADVANCED CHEMISTRY

Additional feature films making their world premieres are Etana Jacobson’s Advanced Chemistry about a scientist whose attempt in the lab to help his lesbian best friend stop cheating on her wife backfires when the wife falls for him. Kevin Interdonato’s The Bastard Sons is a story of revenge by a group of men, when the man who raised them – the family boss – is murdered. Michael Groom’s British romantic drama Between The Lights follows askeptical scientist who falls for a reluctant medium, leading them on an odyssey of love, loss and discovery that turns her world upside down. Isaac Hirotsu Woofter’s Bound focuses on a young introvert who flees with her pet pocket squirrel to New York in order to escape her drug-dealing controlling stepfather. Making its North American Premiere is Vardan Tozija’s M. A multi-national production including            

Macedonia, Croatia, Kosovo, France, and Luxembourg, the film centers on a young boy who lives in the forest under the watchful eye of his overprotective and mysterious father. Their sheltered existence is all he knows until an encounter with a kind-hearted, helpless boy may open up a whole new world to him.

 Also making their world premieres at DWF NYC are Sara Katarina Burke and Aaron Andrew Keene’s Can’t Seem to Make You Mine about a recent parolee who tries to make amends with his ex and become a father to his little boy while staying with a stripper he met on a pen-pal website. Ryan Moore’s Influence focuses on a struggling female filmmaker who kidnaps a famous social media influencer to convince them to play the lead role in her latest project. Michelle Bossy’s Nobody’s Home follows the mind-bending journey of a young man after he is released from the psychiatric hospital with his girlfriend who may or may not be telling him the truth about what he is experiencing. Brendan Boogie’s buddy comedy Tallywacker takes us on a trip with 2 bandmates whose relationship gets tested when one of them gets a gig touring with a major rock star. Micah Khan’s outlandish comedy The Zombie Wedding illustrates the challenges one can have at a New Jersey wedding when the groom is a zombie, and the bride is not. Another film in the Midnight Features section making its world premiere is Justin Best’s Sheryl about a woman who goes on a bloody quest to create the perfect face after she’s dumped by her serial killer boyfriend for not being “hot enough”.

Highlights among the documentary section include one feature-length film making its world premiere, and a second making its U.S. Premiere. Making its world premiere is Wynette Yao’s District Of Second Chances, which follows the journeys of three men – all sentenced to life in prison during the 1990s – who have the possibility of being released and starting a new life thanks to sentencing reform. Making its U.S. premiere will be Emilio Di Stefano’s Denim Hunter. The road movie documentary follows a man whose obsession with really old jeans leads him through the deserts of California, Arizona, and Nevada as well as up the snowclad Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Marc Saltarelli’s Studio One Forever is the untold story of America’s iconic gay disco, a kaleidoscopic excursion into LGBTQ+ history through the lens of Studio One and its adjoining live music venue, The Backlot during the 70s and 80s. Hoag Kepner’s Torched – The Story of Austin Torch tells the story of the Austin Torch, a wild and fiery group of women/non-binary athletes in Austin who are trying to legitimize and professionalize their fringe sport of Ultimate Frisbee.

 The television, web series pilots, and episodics also have a healthy number of world premieres. Those include Federica Marchese and Vinusha Sundaresan’s Chinese series pilot The Blind Zone about a faceoff between two teenage sociopaths after they set their eyes on the same target, David Antonio Martin’s absurd comedy The Selectman where two men are trapped in a picturesque world where the forces of learned behavior, arrested adolescence, and the quest for power forever collide, and Henk Pretorius’ British animated series pilot Travel Foxwhich follows the inquisitive Travel Fox and Bogie the Tortoise as they race across the world, chasing rainbows in search of a legendary pot of gold.

 Additional world premieres include Jon Da’s Ülom: The Primary Experiment is centered on a desperate scientist who undertakes a labyrinthian experiment he believes will locate his missing daughter. Jonathan Chao’s Xander teams a lonely high school student with a Genie. However, the student might lose his new best friend if he makes his one wish. Making its North American premiere will be Aaron Lewis’ Moments, a gripping 9-episode digital series, offering intimate glimpses into characters on the brink. Clarissa De Los Reyes’ Hot Angry Mom about a people-pleasing mom who must face her rage, as a video of her epic meltdown goes viral, and Dana Marisa Schoenfeld’s East about a New York City Corporate attorney who suddenly loses her job and catches her boyfriend cheating, forcing her to reevaluate everything and pursue her childhood dream of being an actress.

Highlights among the short films showcased at DWF NYC include the world premiere of Luke Black’s I Keep Bumping Into Candy Maldonado in which a man keeps bumping into the famous baseball player who is his childhood ideal each day until he’s inspired to make some life changes.

Rj Collins’ thrilling Dropping follows a young woman going through the rigorous “dropping” training which may just turn into a fight for survival. Actor Cynthia Gibb takes a turn behind the camera, directing Lux Freer, about a non-binary teen whose humiliating job of delivering a pizza to bully and aspiring prom queen Arabella Astor’s mansion sets in motion a plot to upend the social stratosphere at her high school. Nazrin Choudhury’s Red, White And Bluestars Brittany Snow as a single parent forced to cross state lines in search of an urgent and necessary abortion. Eleanor Morrison’s You Need To Process This stars Mary Holland and Matt Peters as a married couple who must discuss a sexual assault.

 DWF NYC will also present a series of filmmaker panels focused on current real world issues faced by today’s indie filmmakers at The Stand (116 E. 16th Street) Panels will include “Distribution: Navigating the Marketplace as Well as Forecasting the Future”, which will be moderated by Scott Macauley (Filmmaker Magazine), and is slated to include executives from Magnolia Pictures, IFC, and STX Entertainment, “Making the Sale: The Producer/Sales Agent Dynamic” moderated by Kate Erbland (Indiewire), and includes Carylanna Taylor (Head of Sales Film Sales Corp), Josh Braun (Founder & President, Submarine), and Jason Ishikawa (Sr. Exec. & Co-head of Sales, Cinetic Media), and “The Casting Director/Producer Dynamic” moderated by Michael Sladik (SAGindie New York), and includes casting directors Shayna Markowitz, Bernie Telsey, and Paul Schnee.

 

For more information about the Dances With Films NYC film lineup, events, passes, and tickets, go to: https://danceswithfilms.com/.

 

The 2023 Dances With Films NYC official selections:

 

OPENING NIGHT SELECTION

Tapawingo

Director: Dylan K. Narang

Country: USA; Running Time: 109 min

An oddball becomes the bodyguard for a misfit teenager and finds himself in the crosshairs of the town’s family of bullies.

 

CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION

The Activated Man World Premiere

Director: Nicholas Gyeney

Country: USA; Running Time: 115 min

As Ors Gabriel struggles with the grief from losing his best friend and beloved dog to cancer, the trauma brings on strange visions only Ors can see. While he questions whether his mind has fractured or if it’s real, a mysterious rise in murder-suicides takes hold of the city, and Ors becomes haunted by images of a shadowy figure known as ‘The Fedora Man’. Through torments and terror, Ors must face his fears and confront ‘The Fedora Man’ as he uncovers dark secrets from his past, while finally embracing who he really is, and what he is meant to do.

 

 ADDITIONAL NARRATIVE FEATURES

 

Advanced Chemistry                                                            World Premiere

Director: Etana Jacobson

Country: USA; Running Time: 96 min

A scientist injects his lesbian best friend with a compound he’s created to make her stop cheating on her wife (who is bi), but when the wife finds her new monogamous fixation suffocating, he injects the wife too, which backfires when she falls for him.

 

BASTARD SONS

The Bastard Sons World Premiere

Director: Kevin Interdonato

Country: USA; Running Time: 90 min

Life for a crew of organized criminals is disrupted when Vincent Damiano’s father, the family’s boss, is murdered. Vincent’s ‘bastard’ brothers (UFC legend Frank Edgar, Chicago Med star Malik Whitfield), a group of orphaned souls he raised together, have an idea of who killed their father…his partner Rome (TV/Film veteran Al Sapienza). In a valiant and calculated attempt to regain the business and enact vengeance on Rome over the course of one day, the Bastards wage an all-out war to get their pound of flesh.

 

Between The Lights                                                             World Premiere

Director: Michael Groom

Country: UK; Running Time: 104 min

When skeptical scientist Alice falls for reluctant medium Jay, she’s taken on an odyssey of love, loss and discovery that will turn her world upside down. Between the Lights is a romantic drama with a liberal dose of the supernatural, in which we visit our characters over three consecutive Christmases. It is set within the ancient walls of York and the stunning natural beauty of the Lake District.

 

Bound                                                                                    World Premiere

Director: Isaac Hirotsu Woofter

Country: USA; Running Time: 101 min

To escape her drug-dealing controlling stepfather, a young introvert flees to NYC with only her pet pocket squirrel. After successfully reinventing herself, she realizes she must confront her dark past, to truly be free.

 

Can’t Seem to Make You Mine                                            World Premiere

Directors: Sara Katarina Burke, Aaron Andrew Keene

Country: USA; Running Time: 102 min

A man who was just released from prison tries to make amends with his ex and become a father to his 6-year-old son while staying with a stripper he met on a pen-pal website.

 

Daruma

Director: Alexander Yellen

Country: USA; Running Time: 104 min

Patrick (bitter wheelchair user) must enlist the help of his cantankerous neighbor (double amputee veteran) to transport the daughter he never knew he had to live with her maternal grandparents on the other side of the country. 

 

Grounded

Director: Justin Chan

Country: USA; Running Time: 84 min

William Lee, a 30-something Chinese-Filipino American, introduces his Caucasian girlfriend to his overbearing, immigrant parents when a mysterious cosmic force takes hold of their day.

 

Home Free

Director: Aaron Brown

Country: USA; Running Time: 98 min

In 1997, a group of college misfits invite an unhoused professor to crash on their porch.

Home Free is a Trojan horse, a bold coming-of-age comedy aimed at reaching a mass audience, but also intended to be a catalyst for serious social change sharply focused on one of the most pervasive problems across America—the homelessness epidemic. Humor is our spoonful of sugar. 

 

Influence World Premiere

Director: Ryan Moore

Country: USA; Running Time: 83 min

A female filmmaker struggling with her career and her mental health reaches a breaking point and decides to kidnap a famous social media influencer in an attempt to coerce them into playing the lead role in her latest project.

 

Katie’s Mom

Director: Tyrrell Shaffner

Country: USA; Running Time: 111 min

A heartfelt comedy influenced by The Graduate but told from the perspective of a protagonist inspired by Mrs. Robinson. Set in modern-day Pasadena, California. Nancy Rosenfeld (Dina Meyer), a nurturing mom and recent divorcée, whose beloved Jewish/Christmas mashup holiday celebration with her adult children is derailed when she falls for Alex Rojas (Aaron Dominguez (Only Murders in the Building), her daughter’s charming new boyfriend. Their electrifying affair upends her status quo and sets her on a path to becoming who she was meant to be.

 

M                                                                                             North American Premiere

Director: Vardan Tozija

Countries: Macedonia/Croatia/Kosovo/France/Luxembourg, Running Time: 99 min

In a secluded forest, young Marko lives under the watchful eye of his overprotective and mysterious father. Their sheltered existence is all he knows. Marko seeks solace in his cherished picture book, finding comfort and answers within its pages. One day, an encounter with a kind-hearted, helpless boy named Miko, brings a glimmer of warmth and connection into Marko’s isolated world. As his curiosity grows, Marko yearns to uncover the secrets that lie beyond the confines of the wilderness. But, a cruel turn of events grants him his wish sooner than he expects…

 

Nobody’s Home World Premiere

Director: Michelle Bossy

Country: USA; Running Time: 83 min

When Luca is released from the psychiatric hospital where he and his girlfriend Theodora live, she escapes with him. To remain in control, she takes him to his childhood home, the root of his trauma. Time lapses. Consciousness is distorted. A dead body is discovered. Theodora insists Luca committed the murder in his sleep. Is she telling the truth? A knock on the door suddenly diverts them. Angelica and Jeremy show up, high on acid. Theodora invites them in to test Luca’s loyalty. Her jealousy increases to the point of danger. In the end, nothing is what it seems. Everyone has darkness inside.

 

Palimpsest North American Premiere

Director: Hanna Vastinsalo

Country: Finland; Running Time: 109 min

Two elderly roommates are selected for a medical trial that makes them younger. Given a second chance at life, with the memories of their past life intact, they realize that growing young is not just fun.

 

Space Baby

Director: Rex Dean

Country: USA; Running Time: 99 min

Three friends fight fascist Nurse Nancy to rebuild the holy grail and get a new soul for the earth. Each friend is different. 8-year-old Sam (“Mental Man”) is a mad scientist and inventor; 6-year-old Sophia (“Nature Girl”) is a caretaker of the earth; 300-year-old Blue (a great ballplayer like Satchel Paige) was the keeper of the holy grail in Africa before he and his siblings were captured as slaves. With help from a squadron of ladybugs, they fight the “greed, intolerance, and just plain cruelty” that Nurse Nancy and her demonic crow inhabit. A story of courage, friendship, and love.

 

Tallywacker World Premiere

Director: Brendan Boogie

Country: USA; Running Time: 90 min

A rock and roll buddy comedy about 2 bandmates whose relationship gets tested when one of them gets a gig touring with a major rock star.

 

The Zombie Wedding World Premiere

Director: Micah Khan

Country: USA; Running Time: 99 min

A young Cumberland County, NJ couple decides to go through with their wedding – during the Zombie Apocalypse. Unfortunately, he’s a zombie and she’s not. Both families are fearful, but the humans’ behavior is brutish. When the Zombies begin feeling brain-deprived, the ceremony takes a turn for the weird. Weekly World News reporters are there to cover this wild wedding – while trying to get out alive!

 

 DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

 

44 Lights: Music from Ground Zero                                   

Director: Barbara Blackburn Tuttle

Country: USA; Running Time: 68 min

A musical journey to healing in the aftermath of 9/11. A story of pain, loss, and ultimately rebirth through music.

 

American Pot Story: Oaksterdam

Directors: Dan Katzir and Ravit Markus

Country: USA; Running Time: 97 min

This award-winning documentary is a decade-long follow-up of the underdogs who put their blood, sweat, and tears to overturn a 100-year-old policy, proving in the process that “a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world,” to quote Margaret Mead).

 

Brothers Broken

Directors: Geoff Levin, Lily Richards

Country: USA; Running Time: 86 min

This is the story of brothers Geoff and Robbie Levin, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area as part of the 60’s music scene including Jerry Garcia, the Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin. The brother’s band PEOPLE! had the hit record “I Love You” in 1968 and toured with The Who; then Scientology entered their lives destroyed their band and split up the brothers. After 46 years Geoff despite losing his children and friends to the cult, left the church and reunited with his brother and band. It’s a tale of breaking free from a modern-day prison of belief.

 

Denim Hunter                                                                        U.S. Premiere

Director: Emilio Di Stefano

Country: Sweden; Running Time: 87 min

In the road movie documentary Denim Hunter, we meet Viktor – a regular guy from Sweden but with a burning passion for really old jeans. The film follows Viktor on his wild journey through the deserts of California, Arizona, and Nevada as well as up the snowclad Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where he hunts for denim treasures in hazardous run-down gold mines from the 1880s. On his journey, Viktor comes across an array of unlikely desert characters, like Indiana Jeans, Dynamite Dan, and Redneck-Mike. In various ways, they all lead Viktor from one failure to the next.

 

The Depths of My Despair

Director: Elizabeth Lawrence

Country: USA; Running Time: 68 min

The Depths of My Despair is a visceral rabbit hole toward the authentic self. Filmmaker Elizabeth Lawrence takes an emotional, first-person detour inward. Oscillating through saneness and psychosis; debris and lucidity, the film stares at depression dead-on.

 

District Of Second Chances                                                World Premiere

Director: Wynette Yao

Country: USA; Running Time: 76 min

District of Second Chances follows the journeys of three men from Washington, D.C., all sentenced to life in prison during the 1990s. Now, because of sentencing reform, they have a rare chance at release and new lives.

 

Meet Me Where I Am

Director: Grant Garry

Country: USA; Running Time: 86 min

Meet Me Where I Am explores the topic of grief through individual stories of loss, love, and hope. The film aims to normalize grief in our culture and explores how we can actively participate in helping others through grief. By accepting grief and its impact, we hope to help individuals find new meaning as they move forward with their grief.

 

Studio One Forever

Director: Marc Saltarelli

Country: USA; Running Time: 86 min

The untold story of America’s iconic gay disco, a kaleidoscopic excursion into LGBTQ+ history through the lens of this groundbreaking club. From 1974-1994, Studio One and its adjoining live music venue, The Backlot, became symbols of hope and community for gay men during tumultuous times. Amidst the rise of gay rights, disco’s heyday, and the devastating AIDS crisis, the club offered sanctuary from rampant homophobia and police oppression.

 

Torched – The Story of Austin Torch

Director: Hoag Kepner

Country: USA; Running Time: 66 min

Torched tells the story of the Austin Torch, a wild and fiery group of women/non-binary athletes in Austin who are trying to legitimize and professionalize their fringe sport of Ultimate Frisbee in a historically male-dominated sports industry. As we follow the Torch on the road and at home during their 2022 season, we realize that though the Torch might not always win, they never really lose, because it’s more than a team: it’s a movement.

 

 MIDNIGHT FEATURES

 

Sheryl                                                                                     World Premiere

Director: Justin Best

Country: USA; Running Time: 72 min

After she’s dumped by her serial killer boyfriend for not being “hot enough”, a beauty-obsessed woman goes on a bloody quest to create the perfect face, all while navigating her new relationship with the cop investigating the murders.

 

Wild Eyed and Wicked

Director: G.S. Foxwood

Country: USA; Running Time: 99 min

Lily Pierce is sick of being haunted. She decides to reconnect with her estranged father, a disgraced history professor, and learn how to draw upon a time of steel and blade when armor-clad knights rode out and dueled their monsters to the death.

 

 TELEVISION AND WEB SERIES PILOTS

A Killer Service

Director: Gio Randazzo

Country: USA; Running Time: 25 min

The hapless daughter of an incarcerated con-artist finds she has inherited a substantial debt to a dangerous crime boss. Forced into a corner, Elliott discovers how to take control of her life while helping empower other women. 

Awesome

Director: Paul Munger

Country: USA; Running Time: 16 min

Every night, 20-year-old Joy gets a glimpse of the future. But with a dad on parole, a pill-popping boyfriend, and a recent lay-off, that doesn’t mean she can stop it from being shitty. That is until she foresees an event that will ruin the lives of her loved ones forever. She’ll have to figure out how to change her future–or live with the consequences.

The Blind Zone                                     World Premiere 

Directors: Federica Marchese, Vinushu Sundaresan

Country: China; Running Time: 32 min

Battle of wits and violence ensues when the separate worlds of two teenage sociopaths collide after they set their eyes on the same target.

 

East

Director: Dana Marisa Schoenfeld

Country: USA; Running Time: 32 min

When Ella Goldman, a New York City Corporate attorney, gets engaged to her longtime boyfriend, Josh, she is ecstatic to embark on the next stage of her life. With a wedding to plan and a blossoming career, Ella thinks she has it all. But when she suddenly loses her job and catches her boyfriend cheating, her world comes crashing down. This devastating turn of events forces her to confront the truth about her life – and what it is she really wants. Convinced that this is a “wake-up call,” Ella pursues her childhood dream of being an actress. 

Events At Hemlock Manor

Director: Katie North

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

At its core, this is a series about underdogs: a ragtag group of spooky weirdos with nowhere else to go. Hemlock Manor is not only a year-round haunted house with a terrible business model; it’s also a home. But what do you do when the thing you love is in trouble? You fight for it. Even when that means throwing a baby shower for a group of rich ladies who thought “the historic Hemlock Manor” was a charming country villa, not a haunted house open in July.

 

For Years to Come

Director: Micah Stuart

Country: USA; Running Time: 27 min

An irreverent and heartfelt romantic dramedy about a gay man who falls in love with his dead mother’s hospice nurse, while struggling to reconnect with his elderly father…who’s secretly a porn director.

Hit Man: Secrets Of Lies

Director: Elias Plagianos

Country: UK; Running Time: 19 min

A reflective hitman from New York City travels to small towns around the country trying to find meaning in his seemingly inconsequential life as he fulfills his contracts and eliminates his targets. 

Hot Angry Mom                                   

Director: Clarissa De Los Reyes

Country: USA; Running Time: 34 min

A people-pleasing mom must face her rage, as a video of her epic meltdown goes viral.

I Could Eat

Director: Rick Bedrosian

Country: USA; Running Time: 28 min

A new TV/Web Series showcasing the cuisine & music that unites diverse cultures. Host, Rick Bedrosian (“George” in a Beatlemania stage show for 7 years, leader of Celtic music powerhouse, Hair Of The Dog, since 1993 and an international tour guide) spans the globe seeking out the finest food and the most interesting music makers.

L.I.F.E.: It’s Wonderful

Director: Dathan Smith

Country: USA; Running Time: 22 min

L.I.F.E. is an anthology series set in the near future where citizens receive a hand-delivered card notifying them the day they will die. Rose feels trapped in her new “home”. Emilia feels trapped by her daughter’s recent news. Bob is forced to deliver a card he has been dreading since joining L.I.F.E. Corp. as Diane adjusts to her new job.

Moments                                         North American Premiere 

Director: Aaron Lewis

Country: USA; Running Time: 23 min

Moments is a gripping 9-episode digital series, each under 13 minutes, offering intimate glimpses into characters on the brink. Driven by black trauma and mysticism, it unravels mind-reading and hidden truths through therapist Dr. Winston. An enigmatic narrator, Rutina Wesley, introduces time travel, adding layers of self-discovery. Momentshints at an expanded episodic journey, diving deeper into characters’ histories and relationships, while authentically addressing themes of healing and transformation within the mystical. Boasting a stellar ensemble cast and profound storytelling.

 

Morse Code

Director: Travis Nicholson

Country: USA; Running Time: 37 min

In the eccentric community of modern-day East Nashville, Simon, a talented but flawed thirty-something indie folk singer finds himself at a crossroads as he struggles to strike a balance between family and career.

Off The Menu

Director: Daniele Sestito

Country: USA; Running Time: 37 min

“Chef” is a perfectionist, Italian cook who works for an unordinary institution. Typically stern and grandiose, a new side of Chef is revealed when he is forced to make a meal that’s beyond his grasp. 

Q Train

Directors: Dionne Van Den Berg, Samantha Tran

Country: USA; Running Time: 10 min

A Brooklyn based DJ explores the queer dating scene.

Roboto

Directors: Mari Madrid, Keone Madrid

Country: USA; Running Time: 18 min

Ky loses his entire career as a highly successful choreographer when AI takes over the dance industry and the world by storm. This throws Ky into suicidal ideations until Mikah, a bright and optimistic 12-year-old boy, decides to disregard the latest craze of dancing with Roboto and instead asks Ky to choreograph for his school performance. While at first Ky reluctantly decides to help the kid, he begins to find a bit of light in his life again. And when it’s revealed that Mikah had a battle with cancer Ky’s perspective is completely shifted.

The Selectman                                       World Premiere 

Director: David Antonio Martin

Country: USA; Running Time: 26 min

In the wake of Selectman Joseph Allenby’s untimely death, this absurd comedy begins amid a memorial service in the small town of Picasquiddy, Maine. Subverting the idyllic nature of small-town New England, our protagonists are trapped in a picturesque world where the forces of learned behavior, arrested adolescence, and the quest for power forever collide. As two unlikely successors emerge as candidates for the Board of Selectmen, the town’s fate hangs in the balance. Does anybody have what it takes?

Travel Fox                                         World Premiere 

Director: Henk Pretorius

Country: UK; Running Time: 5 min

Get ready for a wild adventure in Travel Fox, the pilot episode of an animated series tailor-made for curious kids. Follow the inquisitive Travel Fox and Bogie the Tortoise as they race across the world, chasing rainbows in search of a legendary pot of gold. But here’s the twist – instead of gold, our friends discover something even more precious: a treasure trove of unique characters and unforgettable experiences.

 

Ülom: The Primary Experiment                        World Premiere 

Director: Jon Da

Country: USA; Running Time: 25 min

In Ülom, one can find anything, even meaning. A desperate scientist undertakes a labyrinthian experiment he believes will locate his missing daughter. Journeying ever deeper into the labyrinth, he must confront an invasive, fictional reality. Remember: what feels real, is real. Ülom is here.

Xander                                           World Premiere 

Director: Jonathan Chao

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

When lonely high school student Luke befriends Xander the Genie, he’s forced to consider if making his one wish is worth losing his new genie best friend.

 

 NARRATIVE SHORTS

 

(In)Convenience

Director: Alexandra Greenspan

Country: USA; Running Time: 12 min

 

#Pizzagate World Premiere

Director: Danny Piñeros

Country: USA; Running Time: 8 min

 

The 1971 Kitchen Grand Brie

Director: Ian Beckman

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

 

Bisected                                                                                 World Premiere

Director: Danny Piñeros

Country: USA; Running Time: 8 min

 

Black Silk                                                                               World Premiere

Director: Patrick Michael

Country: USA; Running Time: 16 min

 

Blight                                                                                      World Premiere

Director: Markus Hoeckner

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

 

Bloodworm                                                                            World Premiere

Director: Kai Wen

Country: USA; Running Time: 13 min

 

Bounce House

Directors: Callie Bloem, Christopher Ewing

Country: USA; Running Time: 16 min

 

Burraco                                                                                  World Premiere

Director: Isabella Tagliati

Country: Italy; Running Time: 14 min

 

Candice

Director: Tyler Martin

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

 

Career Day

Directors: Jason Robinson, Chris Hooper

Country: USA; Running Time: 10 min

 

Chauncey                                                                               World Premiere

Director: Reilly Anspaugh & Daniel Rashid

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

 

Cheol                                                                                      World Premiere

Director: Yeajoon Cho

Country: USA; Running Time: 19 min

 

Church Camp

Director: Andrew Bourne

Country: USA; Running Time: 14 min

 

The Chat                                                                                World Premiere

Writer/Dir/Prod: Artie Brennan

Country: USA; Running Time: 6 min

 

Clownfish

Director: Clayton Henderson

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

 

Dear Owner

Director: Jing Ai Ng

Country: USA; Running Time: 17 min

 

Delta World Premiere

Director: Jonathan Coleman

Country: USA; Running Time: 9 min

 

Detox

Director: Alex Hanno

Country: USA; Running Time: 19 min

 

Dropping

Director: Rj Collins

Country: USA; Running Time: 10 min

 

Echoes Of My Father                                                            World Premiere

Directors: Junko Kajino, Ed M Koziarski

Country: USA, Japan; Running Time: 18 min

 

The Electro-Rocker

Director: Chris Edgar

Country: USA; Running Time: 17 min

 

Entrainment

Director: Bill Prokopow

Country: USA; Running Time: 12 min

 

Esperance To Fremantle                                                     World Premiere

Director: William Sebastian Turner

Country: Australia; Running Time: 18 min

 

Everything Goes Dark                                                          International Premiere

Director: Alex Casimir

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

 

Fate Vs. Elena                                                                       World Premiere

Director: Laura Sedlak

Country: USA; Running Time: 23 min

 

From The Dark                                                                      North American Premiere

Director: Erika Sanz

Country: USA; Running Time: 7 min

 

Hot Soda

Director: Nello Digiandomenico

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

 

How To Disappear                                                                World Premiere

Director: Milton Woods

Country: USA; Running Time: 20 min

 

I Keep Bumping into Candy Maldonado                            World Premiere

Director: Luke Black

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

 

In The Quiet                                                                           World Premiere

Director: Merle Dandridge

Country: USA; Running Time: 5 min

 

Interracial Couple In A Cheerios Ad

Director: Christine Lakin

Country: USA; Running Time: 4 min

 

The Invaders

Director: Erin Doyle Cooper

Country: USA; Running Time: 4 min

 

Itch                                                                                         World Premiere

Director: Mohammad Anwerzada

Countries: Pakistan/Canada; Running Time: 9 min

 

Letters To the Wind                                                              World Premiere

Director: Terrence Shu

Country: USA; Running Time: 13 min

 

Lux Freer

Director: Cynthia Gibb

Country: USA; Running Time: 21 min

 

Man Baby                                                                               World Premiere

Director: Aaron Murtagh

Country: USA; Running Time: 10 min

 

Music For A While                                                                World Premiere

Director: Kelvin Z. Phillips

Country: USA; Running Time: 6 min

 

Nearly Never                                                                          North American Premiere

Director: Peter Franklyn Banks

Country: UK; Running Time: 15 min

 

Newbie

Director: James Skinner

Country: UK; Running Time: 8 min

 

Portrait Of a Cowboy

Director: Devon Wycoff

Country: USA; Running Time: 17 min

 

Pretty As a Picture                                                               World Premiere

Director: Ryan Nielsen

Country: USA; Running Time: 8 min

 

The Pros And Cons Of Killing Yourself                             World Premiere

Director: Ravi Steve Khajuria

Country: Canada; Running Time: 21 min

 

Piano Man                                                                              

Director: Jay Zaretsky

Country: USA; Running Time: 20 min

 

Purgy’s

Director: Robbie Bryan

Country: USA; Running Time: 16 min

 

Rattled                                                                                    World Premiere

Director: Adam Linkenhelt

Country: USA; Running Time: 14 min

 

Red, White And Blue

Director: Nazrin Choudhury

Country: USA; Running Time: 23 min

 

Revelation                                                                             World Premiere

Director: Libe Barer

Country: USA; Running Time: 16 min

 

Room 107                                                                              World Premiere

Directors: Steve Anderson, Leandro Imaz

Country: USA; Running Time: 17 min

 

Sane Men

Director: Jess Fritz

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

 

Skateboard                                                                            World Premiere

Director: Peyton Michelle Edwards

Country: USA; Running Time: 7 min

 

Sonshine                                                                                International Premiere

Director: Corey Podell

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

 

Speak Up Brotha!

Director: Wes Andre Goodrich

Country: USA; Running Time: 15 min

 

Sugar                                                                                      World Premiere

Director: Alyssa Brayboy

Country: USA; Running Time: 6 min

 

Three Ways Out                                                                    World Premiere

Director: Lizzie Morgan

Country: USA; Running Time: 13 min

 

Tips Up!                                                                                 World Premiere

Director: Leah Claire Borrie

Country: USA; Running Time: 7 min

 

Tossou                                                                                   World Premiere

Directors: Melisande Mclaughlin, Sika Stanton

Country: USA; Running Time: 3 min

 

Used Chairs For Sale                                                           World Premiere

Director: Dylan Paffe

Countries: USA/Canada; Running Time: 14 min

 

We Love You Ray                                                                 World Premiere

Director: John Hays

Country: USA; Running Time: 14 min

 

You Need To Process This

Director: Eleanor Morrison

Country: USA; Running Time: 14 min

 

 DOCUMENTARY SHORTS

 

13 Driver’s Licenses

Director: Ryoya Terao

Countries: USA/Germany; Running Time: 27 min

 

Brothers For Life World Premiere

Director: Alon Juwal

Country: Israel; Running Time: 17 min

 

The Dancer: The Beautiful and Tragic Life Of Gerard Alexander

Directors: Ryon Horne, Tyson Horne

Country: USA; Running Time: 35 min

 

Family Trip                                                                            World Premiere

Director: Sean Dunne

Country: USA; Running Time: 26 min

 

Finding Fate

Director: Beth Toni Kruvant

Country: USA; Running Time: 28 min

 

How I Roll                                                                              World Premiere

Directors: Brianne Berkson, Miguel Gluckstern, BriGuel

Country: USA; Running Time: 13 min

 

I Can’t Give You Anything But Love World Premiere

Director: Susan Morgan Cooper

Country: USA; Running Time: 34 min

 

Kristin Dan Kuching Kuchingnya

Director: Michael Kam

Country: Singapore; Running Time: 6 min

 

Living Loud                                                                           World Premiere

Directors: Carin van der Donk, Isabella Vega, Sarah Teale

Country: USA; Running Time: 40 min

 

Paper Boats

Director: Jessica Pons

Country: USA; Running Time: 5 min

 

Rebirth                                                                                   World Premiere

Director: Olivia Burgess

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

 

Revealing The Impossible World Premiere

Directors: Tony Chong and Marlene Millar

Country: Canada; Running Time: 29 min

 

 

This Is Why We Train: The Sea Girt Beach Patrol            World Premiere

Director: Kevin Nulty

Country: USA; Running Time: 20 min

 

Tracing Imperfection World Premiere

Director: Chehade Boulos

Country: USA; Running Time: 8 min

 

Where Is America the Beautiful?

Director: Fr3der1ck

Country: USA; Running Time: 30 min

 

 MIDNIGHT SHORTS

 

Bastard                                                                                  World Premiere

Directors: Haley Elise Pehrson, Gretta Wilson

Country: USA; Running Time: 14 min

 

The Custodian

Director: Colin J. Mason

Country: USA; Running Time: 9 min

 

D.O.D.

Director: Paul Davis

Country: USA; Running Time: 18 min

 

Dedly Wagons                                                                       World Premiere

Director: Martin Balaguer

Country: USA; Running Time: 4 min

 

Good Girls Get Fed

Director: Kelly Lou Dennis

Country: USA; Running Time: 21 min

 

Hevel                                                                                      World Premiere

Director: David Grace

Country: USA; Running Time: 14 min

 

Inner Demons                                                                        World Premiere

Director: Jasmine J, Johnson

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

 

The Mantis

Director: Wylie Rush

Country: USA; Running Time: 10 min

 

Mattress Express

Director: Noah Morse

Country: USA; Running Time: 18 min

 

Night Shift

Director: Karlee Boon

Country: USA; Running Time: 28 min

 

Pee Pee Platter

Director: Jon Conklin

Country: USA; Running Time: 11 min

 

The Spirit Became Flesh                                                     World Premiere

Writer/Director: Jesse Aultman

Country: USA; Running Time: 18 min

 

The Worm                                                                              World Premiere

Director: Cameron A. Tubbs

Country: USA; Running Time: 14 min

 

 

 ABOUT DANCES WITH FILMS

Now in its 26th year, Dances With Films champions the unflinching spirit at the very core of the independent film scene. With most film festivals relying heavily on celebrity, we have relied on innovation, talent, creativity, and sweat equity that revolutionized the entertainment industry. And that reliance continues to prove successful with alumni moving on to write, direct, and produce celebrity-studded vehicles, star in blockbuster movies, and television series, produce multi-million-dollar film and create hot TV shows. 

Big Apple Film Festival 2023 review: ‘STORIES FOR MY CHILDREN’S CHILDREN: LESSONS FROM THE HOLOCAUST’ is tangible and timely

STORIES FOR MY CHILDREN’S CHILDREN: LESSONS FROM THE HOLOCAUST

Poignant and timely, Christopher Wells‘ documentary feature at BAFF 2023 delivers audiences an eye-opening deep dive into the history of one family’s journey through the Holocaust.

STORIES FOR MY CHILDREN’S CHILDREN: LESSONS FROM THE HOLOCAUST is an intimate and accessible retelling of the lives of Sarah Putter Rolnick’s parents during and after the Nazi invasion of Poland. A collection of photographs, rare documents, and letters, alongside Rolnick’s often raw emotions, propel this film forward. For most of the runtime, her measured demeanor invites us to sit back and listen, though the years of shared generational trauma are palpable.

The score possesses a moving, almost visceral effect on the viewer. The information Rolnick discovers through her years of research will shock you. Their stories remain ever-evolving living entities. The film reinforces the tried and true Churchill adage, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” STORIES FOR MY CHILDREN’S CHILDREN: LESSONS FROM THE HOLOCAUST is a tangible lesson. For younger generations, perhaps akin to The Diary of Anne Frank. This is the story of The Putters. BAFF 2023 has a built-in audience for this doc. 

STORIES FOR MY CHILDREN’S CHILDREN: LESSONS FROM THE HOLOCAUST

Story told by Sarah Putter Rolnick

“I have chosen to tell these stories for my children and future generations so we can take the past horrors that happened to our ancestors, learn from it, and prevent it from happening again.” -Sarah Rolnick

Feature Documentary (62 Minutes)

Directed and Produced by:  Christopher Wells

Executive Producer: Daniel Rolnick

For more information about THE BIG APPLE FF Click Here!


 

Review: Switzerland’s official Oscar submission ‘THUNDER (FOUDRE),’ from director Carmen Jaquier, opens in NYC today.

THUNDER

After the sudden and mysterious death of her sister, a 17-year-old novitiate explores her God-given right to experience life to the fullest, during the summer of 1900 in Switzerland.

Akin to the musical Spring Awakening, THUNDER tells the tale of a young woman whose older sister’s mysterious death brings her back to her childhood home and in touch with three old friends. Religious zealousness, body autonomy, and freethinking take center stage in THUNDER. As Elisabeth heads the advice in Innocente’s hidden diary, her world, senses, and spirituality are open to new ideas and happiness. 

The look of the film is dreamy. Moody indoor shots juxtaposed with lush Swiss landscapes create a visually sumptuous experience. Lilith Grasmug‘s portrayal of Elisabeth is mesmerizing. It contains a palpable yearning. Her immediate defiance of the patriarchal social structure made me want to stand up and cheer. Formerly Catholic, or what my mother might call a heathen, the righteous overshadowing of Elisabeth’s awakening is maddening. Her triumphant exploration of sensation and life makes THUNDER a celebration.



Dekanalog is so very proud to be releasing Carmen Jacquier’s stunning period drama THUNDER (FOUDRE), which Switzerland has chosen as their official 2023 submission to The Academy Awards! This unbelievable piece of world cinema opens in New York City next Wednesday, October 25th, followed by a nationwide rollout.

Review: Susanna Fogel’s ‘CAT PERSON’ is obscenely relatable… on every level.

CAT PERSON

Emilia Jones plays Margot, a college student and movie theatre concession girl who goes on a date with an older patron who may or may not be a murderer. Based on Kristen Roupenian‘s 2017 viral short story in The New Yorker, director Susanna Fogel skillfully weaves a dark tale that every woman has lived.

Nicholas Braun plays Robert. Taking the world by storm as Greg on Succession, Braun leans into his height and natural awkwardness, simultaneously charming and scaring the shit out of audiences. His dialogue overflows with double entendres and demeaning terms of endearment. Braun is spectacular, settling into the role without a moment’s hesitation.

Emilia Jones (CODA) plays Margot with a delicious mix of caution, optimism, anxiety, and delightful sardonic wit. She commands your attention with equal parts “every girl” and an entirely captivating performer. Watching her feels effortless.

The script perfectly balances black humor and visceral tension. Writers Michelle Ashford and Kristen Roupenian cleverly utilize fantasy and nightmare sequences to keep the viewers constantly on edge. Countering the fear is a feminist message of empowerment, predominantly in the form of Margot’s best friend Taylor (Geraldine Viswanathan), and her professor Dr Enid Zabala (Isabella Rossellini). The movie references that initially attract Robert and Margot to one another continue throughout the film. Cinephiles rejoice. Text message conversations keep Robert ever-present.

The script also comedically highlights how far women go to remain appealing, how we placate for acceptance, the self-deprecating behavior, and the blatant shunning of red flags. There is a sex scene that is truly something to behold. It is the most cringeworthy, amusing, icky, relatable thing any woman can watch. It accurately captures the constant fear of existing as a woman. The relentless anxiety, the people pleasing, and the patriarchal pressure from every direction, CAT PERSON nails each aspect with humor and truth in fiction.


CAT PERSON
Starring Emilia Jones & Nicholas Braun
Directed by Award-Winning Filmmaker Susanna Fogel

Opens New York City & Los Angeles October 6th
In Theaters Nationally October 13th

**Official Selection – 2023 Sundance Film Festival**

Genre-Bending Thriller Based Off Kristen Roupenian’s
Viral New Yorker Short Story


Directed by Award-Winning Filmmaker
Susanna Fogel (“The Flight Attendant”, writer Booksmart)

Starring:
Emilia Jones (CODA)
Nicholas Braun (“Succession”)
Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers)
Isabella Rossellini (Blue Velvet)
Fred Melamed (A Serious Man)
Liza Koshy (Transformers: Rise of the Beasts)
Michael Gandolfini (The Many Saints of Newark)

Written by Michelle Ashford (“Masters of Sex”), the story expands upon Kristen Roupenians’ 2017 short story of the same name published in The New Yorker. Striking a nerve with readers, “Cat Person” was the first work of short fiction to ever go viral, spurring conversations about the modern dating scene, seduction and consent around the world.

When Margot, a college sophomore (Emilia Jones) goes on a date with the older Robert (Nicholas Braun), she finds that IRL Robert doesn’t live up to the Robert she has been flirting with over texts. Cat Person is a razor-sharp exploration of the gender divide, the quagmire of navigating modern dating and the dangerous projections we make in our minds about the person at the other end of our phones.


 

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival short films: ‘MOSQUITO LADY’ & ‘ALICIA’

MOSQUITO LADY

Phillipino folklore Manananggal meets Catholic guilt in Kristine Gerolaga‘s short film, MOSQUITO LADY. When a young woman can no longer hide her pregnancy from her devout parents, she resorts to a legendary monster to assist her. The practical and Special FX are exquisitely gag-worthy. What a frightening jab at religious righteousness and an exploration of culture.


ALICIA

A little girl who lost her sight tries to convince her mother that an old woman haunts her. ALICIA is a standout short in story, production, and performance. The score is a perfect combination of high-intensity strings. The film hinges on the spectacular young lead, Naia Las Heras, as the titular character. There’s nothing more unsettling than experiencing the genuine fear of a child. Director Tony Morales and writer Cekis Casanova give us enough information to grow an entire franchise. I could see studios from Blumhouse to IFC Midnight snapping this up for development.


BHFF 2023

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2023 shorts: ‘THE QUEUE’ & ‘MY SCARY INDIAN WEDDING’

The Queue

Cole is a new online content monitor for the FBI. Upon discovering the final message of his predecessor, he finds a new meaning of “images seared into your brain.” Michael Rich‘s THE QUEUE is the physical manifestation of PTSD from vile online videos.

This superb film thrives on audio and the performance of Burt Bulos. There is a solid Mike Flannigan vibe to this film. When you see it, you’ll understand why I say that. It’s a solid addition to this year’s Nightmare Fuel Program.

My Scary Indian Wedding


Ramone Menon’s short plays on folklore and cultural superstition. Asha discovers she exists under the thumb of an ancient spirit, and only by performing six specific rituals can she survive the night.

In old-school horror, what would have been discovered in some ancient text (as in a book) now appears as a threatening, albeit informative, app. This campy little film echos 80s slashers with a modern twist.


BHFF 2023

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2023 shorts: ‘STOP DEAD’ & ‘LEECH’

STOP DEAD

Director Emily Greenwood brings the short STOP DEAD to the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2023. Two officers get a flat tire as a blood-soaked young woman happens upon them. Clearly in distress, a taser leads to her immediate demise, or so they think.

The special FX reminds me of one of my favorite kills from the 1997 sci-fi classic CUBE. The editing creates jump scare after jump scare. Eight minutes got my horror juices flowing and left me wanting an entire feature. Greenwood and writer David Scullion show us just enough of an evil entity to keep us salivating for more. Even as the credits roll, you’re seeped in dread.

LEECH


Mary, an elderly blind woman, cycles through caregivers and doesn’t know why. She thinks she’s alone in her home. She is not.

Weirdly off-putting closeups immediately place the viewer on edge. Disturbing crayon drawings make you recoil. LEECH deserves a feature. It’s undeniably disturbing and shudder-inducing, yet you cannot look away. I have so many questions, and I’m begging filmmaker George Coley for answers.


BHFF 2023

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2023: Filmmaking phenom Alice Maio Mackay’s ‘T-BLOCKERS’ is an invasion allegory with a queer cast and crew that is sickening in the best way possible.

T-BLOCKERS

Award-winning trans filmmaker Alice Maio Mackay brings her buzzy genre mashup T-BLOCKERS to the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2023. Part queer coming-of-age and part splatterfest, Lauren Last plays Sophie, a filmmaker whose horrible blind date leads her to vigilante killings to prevent hate crimes. Oh, and there are aliens involved. Sophie realizes she is the only one who can sense a body-snatching entity that targets alt-right creeps. So obviously, she and her group of friends must hunt them down and destroy them in the name of their queer community and for the love of cinema. Duh.

Lewi Dawson plays Spencer, Sophie’s best friend and colleague. They are undeniably fantastic in this role. Stanley Browning is Adam, blind date and lead carrier of the infected alien hate worm. Etcetera Etcetera is our hostess with the mostess and hypnotizes with her spooky charm. Lauren Last gives us everything we need to feel grounded, permitting us to laugh at the premise. I would love to see her in more stories. I would welcome a sequel about Spencer and Sophie’s forthcoming shenanigans.

2023 has been a step in the right direction for trans, queer, and nonbinary representation with films like The People’s Joker, Something You Said Last Night, Monica, Theater Camp, My Animal, Barbie, and the upcoming The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. T-BLOCKERS joins the ranks of engaging storytelling that crosses genres and excites. The neon lighting and campy gore have all the markings of Midnight cult classic indies. The J. K. Rowling joke was perfection. T-BLOCKERS is an allegory for the homophobic antitrans movement and their evil online cultlike behavior. It’s a creative call to activism and self-acceptance told through a B-horror-inspired lens. Be prepared to rock out to one hell of a battle cry song and to stand up and cheer for the final scene.


BROOKLYN HORROR FILM FESTIVAL 2023

Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2023: Amanda Kramer’s doc ‘SO UNREAL’ is a sci-fi cinephile’s wet dream.

SO UNREAL

Cinema and Cyberspace collide in this fascinating study of the effects of the internet. Debbie Harry‘s echoing narration guides us through history and cinematic timelines, how easily we welcomed computers into our homes, and how swiftly technology transitioned from entertainment to an eventual subconscious weapon. Amanda Kramer‘s SO UNREAL reminds us how films push the boundaries of our technological imagination, and they predict them for better or worse.

The film delves into everything from hackers to virtual reality, cyber sex to anxiety-inducing, and the near-future prospect of a potential AI uprising. Harry talks audiences through an eclectic group of films like The Matrix, Tron, Weird Science, The Net, Hackers, The Lawnmower Man (one of my guilty pleasures), and a 1995 film loaded with untold apocalyptic prophecies, Strange Days.

The script could be an audiobook or podcast all its own. Harry describes the entire play-by-play as if creating the alt text of an Instagram post. Jon Cooper’s graphics are a time capsule that comes to life. Enhanced by Josh Ascalon‘s ominous, 80s-inspired score and Benjamin Shearn‘s immaculate editing of sporadic audio clips and archival footage, SO UNREAL is a hypnotic head trip.

You’ll want to rush out and (re)watch every film mentioned in SO UNREAL. At a minimum, Kramer has one hell of a conversation starter across generations of cinephiles and tech users alike. A frightening peak into studio exec minds where actors are rendered obsolete, SO UNREAL is a terrifying and mesmerizing gut punch and navigation through an already curated online reality.


Brooklyn Horror Film Festival 2023


 

Chelsea Film Festival 2023 review: ‘THE MAD WRITER’ soothes the soul and the senses.

THE MAD WRITER

How does a musician make music when they are slowly and mysteriously losing their hearing? Director Zach Kashkett makes a documentary about his oldest friend, Austin Hart. A shockingly curmudgeonly and darkly sardonic subject, Kashkett slowly pulls out a profound story about an artist on the brink of greatness or tragedy.

The editing is masterful. The narrative flow is deliciously punctuated with L’Orange’s (Austin’s artist name) uniquely produced and created beats. His music is hypnotic, sampling blues and standards to assemble something fresh, almost binaural in its rhythms. While THE MAD WRITER follows Austin’s musical and surgical journey, it speaks universally to those suffering from depression and unsure of their place in the world. Austin says it best in the film. Everyone wants to feel “satisfied, clever, and useful.” He’s not wrong.

The Mad Writer is an emitonally powerful film and a must-see at Chelsea Film Festival.

The Mad Writer – Festival Trailer from Zach Kashkett on Vimeo.

SATURDAY, October 14, 2023—6 pm- Regal 14th Street, Auditorium 15
Ticket Link: The Mad Writer Ticket Link

 

SYNOPSIS: This music documentary by Director Zach Kashkett takes us on the both the mental and physical health journey of hip-hop beat writer L’Orange as he faces a medical condition that could affect his career in music. The Mad Writer premiered at Slamdance Film Festival in Park City in January, and this is their New York Premiere.  Zach’s most notable projects include: Shawn Mendes: In Wonder (documentary), Always Jane (TV Series), Sins of The Mother (TV Mini Series).


 

Review: ‘ SOMETHING YOU SAID LAST NIGHT’ is a completely fresh take on trans storytelling.

A Film by Luis De Filippis


Ren, an aspiring writer and mid-twenty-something, accompanies her parents, Mona and Guido, and her younger sister, Siena, on a beach resort holiday in cottage country. As Ren navigates the resort, she struggles to cope with her parents’ loving yet overbearing nature, and tries to balance the yearning for independence with the comfort of being taken care of. The realities of being a stunted millennial and a trans woman coalesce in Ren not wanting to be perceived as a burden. Looming in the back of Ren’s mind is the secret of her recent dismissal from work, and that once the holiday is over, she will need to rely even more on her family’s support.


SOMETHING YOU SAID LAST NIGHT centers on sisters Ren and Siena and their parents on vacation. Emotional turmoil, family drama, and love make this an exceptional indie.

The cast is phenomenal. Focusing on our leading lady, Carmen Madonia, gives Renata an often aloof attitude, hiding a lost mindset. She’s soft-spoken, outwardly feeling othered by her sister’s personality. But little is said. Madonia’s face replaces any unneeded dialogue.

The family chemistry is deliciously authentic. Each fully fleshed-out member has their quirks and distinct personality traits. What makes this script particularly special is the approach to transgender storytelling. They let Ren exist, merely hinting at her identity for the first time 30 minutes in. It’s never directly addressed. The juxtaposition of a pair of aggressive little boys is genius. The sound editing is a character unto itself. What we hear in the background speaks volumes. At times, Ren is almost an ancillary character. It’s undeniably intriguing filmmaking. 

SOMETHING YOU SAID LAST NIGHT takes trans storytelling in a fresh direction. Representation matters. Moreover, seeing a loving dynamic in the life of a trans woman is essential.


Opening in NY / The Quad on September 22
and LA / The Culver Theater on September 29

SOMETHING YOU SAID LAST NIGHT is based on director Luis De Filippis’s short film, “For Nonna Anna”, which premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and received the Special Jury Prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. The film was awarded Outfest’s Grand Jury Award, TIFF’s Changemaker Award, and Rotterdam International Film Festival’s Youth Jury Award.

WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Luis De Filippis
PRODUCED BY Jessica Adams, Michael Graf, Harry Cherniak, Rhea Plangg, Michela Pini, Luis De Filippis
EXECUTIVE PRODUCED BY Julia Fox, Francesca Silvestri, Kevin Chinoy, Andrew Adams, Jennifer Konawal, Jeremy Smith, Omar Chalabi, Charlie Hidalgo
STARRING Carmen Madonia, Ramona Milano, Paige Evans, Joey Parro, Augustus Oicle, Mi’de Woon-A-Tai, Carmelo Nelson
CINEMATOGRAPHY BY Norm Li, csc
EDITED BY Noemi Preiswerk
MUSIC BY Ella Van Der Woude