‘PITCH PEOPLE’ (2024) Wildly entertaining 25th Anniversary of the Never-Before-Seen Feature Documentary

PITCH PEOPLE

PitchPeople poster-25 Anniversary

Selling is theatre and coercion. Stanley Jacobs‘ documentary PITCH PEOPLE explores the very best in persuasive personas and the history of honest sales. 

The film is a clever “how-to” guide to moving products. They are magnetic and funny. Urgency and cleverness get your attention. Does the product make life easier? All people genuinely want is to smile and feel like they’re not being taken advantage of, and that’s the key to selling. 


PITCH-PEOPLE_Still-1.Nowadays, if you can find an operating mall, you might still come across an AS SEEN ON TV store. A small display remains at Bed, Bath, and Beyond locations. Back in the 1950s, Atlantic City was the hub of Pitchmen. Future American celebrities like Ed McMahon, of Star Search fame, began on the boardwalk. 

You all remember waking up at 3 am to infomercials. From Vitamix to ShamWow, you find yourself watching but just a bit longer than you anticipated. In person, it’s an electric energy. It has to be more personable to lock you in, and the moment these experts get you to pause and pay attention, they’ve got you sold. 

PITCH-PEOPLE_Still-2Between local television spots and fairgrounds, pitching products was (and still is) a lucrative career. Only the best survive and put bundles of cash in their pockets. In a world of MLMs, this intimate energy exchange is the oldest truck in the book, and it works. The modern version comes in the form of TikTok influencers, but those 10-30-second uploads have nothing on the original masters.

PITCH PEOPLE takes the “Always Be Closing” model and mesmerizes by showing audiences entire live pitches in the wild, then cutting in sit-down interviews and archival footage. The editing is the hero of this film. You’ll be dazzled. And maybe start Googling the products as I did.

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Here’s the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmW8R9TuwnE
 
 


PITCH PEOPLE will be available on iTunes, Amazon Prime Video and Google Play on May 17, 2024. The film, fully restored in 4K, is the 25th Anniversary of the Never-Before-Seen Feature Documentary.

 

Directed, written, and produced by Stanley Jacobs (96 Souls), PITCH PEOPLE features Arnold Morris, Nancy Nelson, Lester Morris, Al Spino, Sandy Mason, Ed McMahon, Jerry Crowley, Joe Fowler, Jan Muller, John Parkin, Chester Nairne, Wally Nash, Jerry Mascuzzio, James Mason, Ian Long, and Harry Matheson.

The documentary PITCH PEOPLE is an energetic look at the pitch business, a dynamic world that started in Europe, made its way to the U.S. boardwalks, and exploded on television in the 1990s.

Run Time: 88 minutes | Rating: Not Rated

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‘LITTLE EMPTY BOXES'(2024) A loving portrait with vital insight on Dementia.

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LITTLE EMPTY BOXES

Little Empty Boxes Pictures

If you’ve ever watched dementia slowly ravage a loved one, Max Lugavere and Chris Newhard‘s raw documentary LITTLE EMPTY BOXES will hit you square in the chest. The film follows Lugavere’s coast-to-coast quest to find answers about his mother’s rare form of the disease. Kathy is only 63, but she is displaying the neurodegeneration of someone much older. 

Little Empty Boxes Pictures - 2One of the most surprising aspects of dementia is the unfiltered confessions of an exhausted brain. Kathy is an open book, always willing to share her innermost thoughts with Max on camera. Max is an angel in her presence. His unconditional love and relentless patience are the things we can only hope to instill in our children. And because he is the primary caretaker, he must suffer the brunt of Kathy’s sporadic disdain. 

Twenty-five minutes in, the audience gets their first glimpse at what dementia can do to a person and how it takes over the body and brain. Throughout the tests Kathy endures throughout the film, one of the doctors reveals that her diagnosis looks like Lewy Body disease, the same disease that Robin Williams had. 

Little Empty Boxes Pictures Max and KathyDelving into the science behind the rise and cause of Alzheimer’s is fascinating. Food is a major player in our likelihood, as is the occurrence of surgery. The scenes of medical talking heads go down easy with the addition of quirky 2D animation. The film features childhood home videos shot by Max and his father, intercut with his research. 

The heaviness of the film is inescapable. We are witnessing real-time grief as Kathy’s health declines. It mourns the great losses and celebrates the small wins. It is a film about the inflicted individual and the ripple effects on family members. The film creates an intimacy that invites you to be a family member along for the ride, for better or worse. LITTLE EMPTY BOXES is essential viewing in educating the masses and offering hope that maybe, just maybe, we can do something about it. 

LITTLE EMPTY BOXES will be released theatrically in New York at LOOK Cinemas on 4/19
and in LA on 4/26 at the Laemmle Monica.

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‘PHOTOGRAPHIC JUSTICE: THE CORKY LEE STORY’ (2024) Essential viewing in this moment.

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photographic justice the corky lee story

PHOTOGRAPHIC JUSTICE: THE CORKY LEE STORY

Chinese American photographer Corky Lee focused entirely on his community, the Asian population. Their contributions have been notoriously erased from US history. An accidental activist since picking up his first camera, Lee’s instincts guided him to protect and encourage fellow Asian Americans in NYC to stand up for themselves. He was on the front lines at every political rally and every march. “I take pictures that I think matter.”

POLICE BRUTALITY PROTEST 1975 (Credit_ Corky Lee)Director Jennifer Takaki includes sweet animation sporadically playing under Corky’s narration. The film mixes personal footage and stills from Corky, the camera always in hand on the streets of Chinatown, old news interviews, and scenes of his relentless kindness towards the younger generation of aspiring photographers.

HATE IS A VIRUS 2020 (Credit_ Corky Lee).JPG - www.dropbox.comPHOTOGRAPHIC JUSTICE: THE CORKY LEE STORY comes at a time in American history when Asian hate crime continues its uptick. Logging the cyclical violence and ignorance of the general population is vital to understanding the importance of the film.

Corky Lee

After heading out to the scene of a young Asian woman’s attack in 2021, Corky contracted COVID-19, leading to his shocking passing. The outpouring of support from Chinatown’s locals to national news broadcasters said it all. Corky Lee changed the landscape for his community, single-handedly creating Asian American history pages with each photograph and story. PHOTOGRAPHIC JUSTICE: THE CORKY LEE STORY is a lesson in resilience and passion.

PHOTOGRAPHIC JUSTICE: THE CORKY LEE STORY will be released theatrically in New York (DCTV’s Firehouse Cinema) on April 19 and in Los Angeles (Laemmle Glendale) on April 26 with a regional expansion to follow.


Director: Jennifer Takaki

Executive Producers:  George and Hillary Hirose, Lily M. Fan

Producers: Jennifer Takaki, Linda Lew Woo

Co-Producers: David Koh, Nicole DiMiceli

Editor: Linda Hattendorf

For 50 years, Chinese American photographer Corky Lee documented the celebrations, struggles, and daily lives of Asian American Pacific Islanders with epic focus. Determined to push mainstream media to include AAPI culture in the visual record of American history, Lee produced an astonishing archive of nearly a million compelling photographs. His work takes on new urgency with the alarming rise in anti-Asian attacks during the Covid pandemic. Jennifer Takaki’s intimate portrait reveals the triumphs and tragedies of the man behind the lens.

Corky Lee was born in 1947 in New York to Chinese immigrants who owned a laundry in Queens. He majored in history at Queens College and became a community organizer in Manhattan’s Chinatown in the 1970s. Over the next five decades he photographed countless protests and cultural events in the Asian American Pacific Islander community. Lee’s photographs documented the birth and growth of the Asian American movement for social justice and he became known as “The Undisputed, Unofficial, Asian American Photographer Laureate.”   His death in 2021 at the age of 73 due to Covid was mourned in the press worldwide.

Filmmaker Jennifer Takaki  is a fourth generation Japanese American from Colorado. She began her career in journalism at a Denver TV station and later moved to Hong Kong to work with Encore International. In Hong Kong she produced English-based news programming broadcast in China, India, and the Middle East via Rupert Murdoch’s STAR-TV.  In New York, she produced and directed “Photographic Justice: The Corky Lee Story” which premiered at DOC NYC and was supported by the Ford Foundation and The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). She was awarded the prestigious Better Angels Lavine Fellowship in 2023.

Running Time: 87 minutes / Language: English / Not Rated / Documentary Feature (USA)

OFFICIAL SELECTION: DOC NYC, CAAMFest, Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF), Asian American International Film Festival (AAIFF) and many more.


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‘Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion.’ (SXSW 2024) Exploitation and dollar signs.

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Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion

Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion SXSW 2024Fast fashion and exploitation. The popular teen brand Brandy Melville comes under the microscope in a new documentary feature premiering at SXSW 2024 Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion. In the film, former employees discuss how they got hired, the company’s everyday practices, and the fallout of their exposure.

Brandy Melville began in Italy as a t-shirt company. Once it moved to the US, the aesthetic morphed into the California bohemian, long-haired, skinny girl. The company uses genius tangible marketing, specifically Instagram, and teens take pictures of their peers. Their hiring practices sound like a copy and paste of Abercrombie & Fitch. Although, Brandy takes it a step further. The few girls of color could only be found in the stock room or relegated to the register.

Then Stefan began buying the clothes off their employee’s backs to mass produce replicas as their own product, often stealing graphics from other artists globally. The pending lawsuit details include the discovery of a group chat. Former Store Owner and Former VP, whose identities are anonymous and played by actors, speak about the most offensive, anti-Semitic, sexually explicit memes and photos in the thread. Managers would take “Style Photos” on each shift sent via text to Stefan. It is all gross.

The United States and Europe send billions of pieces of fashion to Ghana. The environmental impact is genuinely shocking. We’ve all heard stories about it, but witnessing the mounds of discarded clothing, the chemicals in the water, and the poisoning of our food. The footage of the Ghanaian beaches looks fake. It’s an atrocity.

Brandy Melville and their continued fans do not care. Influencers want free swag, the employees clout, and Stefan wants money. They are the worst of humanity. Most people want to feel like they are making positive choices with their purchasing power. We know fast fashion means unethical practices and The West is just as guilty as Stefan. Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion might make you think twice about purchasing another cheap article of clothing you don’t need.


SCREENING:

Mar 14, 2024 8:45pm – 10:16pm CT Stateside Theatre

Credits

Director:

Eva Orner

Producer:

Jonathan Chinn, Simon Chinn, Eva Orner

Cinematographer:

Nick Higgins

Editor:

Claire Didier

Music:

Cornel Wilczek

Additional Credits:

Line Producer: David Kraemer

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‘RESYNATOR’ (SXSW 2024) An engrossing father-daughter reconnection

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RESYNATOR

resynator SXSW 2024Alison Tavel sets off on a global journey to learn more about her estranged father’s mysterious invention and, ultimately, the man himself.

Darkness, mystery, and a slew of unresolved childhood trauma cloud Ali’s journey into who her father was. Her paternal grandmother keeps particular details close to her chest, forcing Ali to explore the stories of everyone else who knew him.

Resynator (2024)Ali’s ability to disassociate makes sense. As a child of divorce when I was five years old, few memories remain. My father, like Ali’s, is still a stranger. She wrestles with differing opinions of who Don was. So many questions arise during her search. What the hell is a Resynator anyway? With all the hype surrounding its invention, why didn’t it blow up? Did depression play a part in Don’s accident?

Those in the industry discovering the Resynator’s abilities for the first time take full advantage of its one-of-a-kind sounds. Watching musicians interact with it in real-time and creating original work is joyous. Don’s Rolodex plays an integral part in Ali’s ability to reach talent from members of Phish, Portishead, Yes, Beastie Boys, Foo Fighters, Goyte, Fred Armisen, and someone who played one of the first demo versions, Peter Gabriel.

Resynator  SXSW (2024) Don Tavel slideDanny Madden’s animation transitions are charming. We experience them alongside archival audio of Don demonstrating the Resynator. Ali utilizes a unique device in narrating the film in the form of a letter to her father, which makes more sense when a box arrives from her aunt. Her most poignant discovery comes in the form of long-lost letters from her father, found in the basement after the passing of her grandmother.

Alison Tavel invites SXSW 2024 audiences on an intimate journey of music, connection, and self-discovery. RESYNATOR is a touching film about the ripple effect of one person’s life.

Film Screenings

Mar 10, 2024
6:00pm7:36pm
 
Mar 16, 2024
12:00pm1:36pm
 

Credits

Director:

Alison Tavel

Executive Producer:

Grace Potter

Producer:

Kathryn Robson, Jon Lullo, Brendan Walter, Sara Nesson, Barbara McDonough, Christopher Noviello

Cinematographer:

Justin Key, David Yeaman, Max Cutrone, Beth Cloutier

Editor:

Kathryn Robson, Chris Gibson

Music:

Chris Ruggiero

Principal Cast:

Alison Tavel, Grace Potter, Peter Gabriel, Jon Anderson, Fred Armisen, Money Mark, Gotye, Mike Gordon, Brian Kehew, Christian Castagno

Additional Credits:

Animator: Danny Madden

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‘ADRIANNE & THE CASTLE’ (SXSW 2024) The purest love of all

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ADRIANNE & THE CASTLE

Adrianne & the castle SXSW 2024Director Shannon Walsh shares the extraordinary love story between an artist and his larger-than-life wife. SXSW 2024 audiences discover the legacy of Adrianne and Alan St. George. This documentary is a tale of adoration, art, and Adrianne.

Adrianne is a mesmerizing figure. Her vibrant handcrafted wardrobe and elaborate wigs were more than an act. Adrianne embodied creativity and dreams. She was a living, breathing ball of light.

Adrianne & The Castle SXSW 2024 waltzHerein lies the challenge for Alan and Shannon. How do you do justice to such a love story? Experimental musical interludes, Adrianne’s Doll Room, quirky home movies, and the ever-expanding house that grows like a whimsical version of The Winchester House. The mansion is an explosion of color, lavish draping fabrics, sculptures, and murals, all featuring Adrianne and Alan’s likenesses. It is Versailles meets Grimm’s Fairytales, each room mirroring a slice of her exuberant persona. She was and remains Alan’s muse for all things.

Alan owns a mascot company, providing characters from Smokey The Bear, Disney, and The White House to local high schools. It is how he finances the endless construction. After Adrianne passes, Alan is lost. The film is a creative catharsis. Half tribute and half coping mechanism, ADRIANNE & THE CASTLE is a fascinating meditation on grief and a portrait of exemplary soul mates.

Film Screenings

Mar 9, 2024
9:15pm10:41pm
 
Mar 13, 2024
11:15am12:41pm
 
Mar 13, 2024
11:45am1:11pm
 
Director:

Shannon Walsh

Producer:

Ina Fichman

Screenwriter:

Shannon Walsh, Laurel Sprengelmeyer

Cinematographer:

Pablo Alvarez-Mesa

Editor:

Sophie Farkas Bolla

Production Designer:

Nalo Soyini Bruce

Sound Designer:

Luc Bouchard

Music:

Richard Reed Parry

Principal Cast:

Alan St George, Nathan McDonald, Shannon Walsh, SLee

Additional Credits:

Re-recording Mixer: Gavin Fernandes, Additional Vocal Arrangements and Music by: Raquel Acevedo Klein

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‘DICKWEED’ (SXSW 2024)- a shocking WTF doc

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DICKWEED

Dickweed SXSW 2024SXSW 2024 audiences are in for a real WTF documentary in Jonathan Ignatius Green‘s DICKWEED. In 2012, a wild kidnapping in the middle of the night led to torture, mystery, and one man’s loss of his, let’s say, manhood. The ensuing wild goose chase and brazen criminal actions challenge all involved. Police had no idea what kind of mastermind they were dealing with.

The film pulls no punches, with Michael launching headfirst into his story. An average day after working at his cannabis shop turns deadly when masked men grab him and a new roommate, drive them out into the desert, and demand to know where he buried a million dollars.

DICKWEED utilizes crime scene photos, dashcam footage, and sit-down interviews with the victims, detectives, and lawyers involved in the case. It sounds like a mockumentary. I had to look up the synopsis twice to confirm I wouldn’t make a fool of myself.

From Newport Beach, the search for suspects becomes a global affair. Revealing more details takes the fun out of this off-the-wall viewing experience. DICKWEED is an episode of 20/20 on steroids. True crime fans will devour this film. Get ready, SXSW 2024, for a shocking global manhunt, seemingly triggered by an innocuous passing comment. Your jaw will drop.


Film Screenings

Mar 9, 2024
2:30pm4:00pm
 
Mar 12, 2024
6:45pm8:15pm
 
Mar 12, 2024
7:15pm8:45pm
 
Mar 14, 2024
5:45pm7:15pm
 
Mar 14, 2024
6:15pm7:45pm

 

Credits

Director:

Jonathan Ignatius Green

Executive Producer:

Amy Bandlien Storkel, Bryan Storkel

Producer:

David Ricksecker, Jefferis Gray

Cinematographer:

Skyler Bocciolatt, Ben Joyner

Editor:

Peter Garriott, Connor Davis

Music:

John Jennings Boyd

Principal Cast:

Emily Pokora, Ronald Douglass, Greg Kriek, Rizzy Fuentes, Jerry Gregorio, Mikey Shayan, Kristen Vaganos, Brand Birtwistle, Jamison Sandbloom, John Fantasia

Two people got kidnapped. One man lost his dick. No-one got any money. This heist-gone-horribly-wrong led one Newport Beach detective on an international manhunt for the most twisted criminal he’d ever hunted. In 2012, Michael, a local weed dispensary owner, got home from work and plopped down on the sofa like any other weeknight. Three hours later he was zip-tied and eating dirt as three men tried to beat him into admitting where he’d buried the million dollars. And he would have gladly told them rather than endure what happened next. The only problem was, he hadn’t buried a million dollars, and after they tortured him and left him to die, he still had no idea who these men were.

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‘We Can Be Heroes’ (SXSW 2024) where fantasy is reality

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WE CAN BE HEROESWe Can Be Heroes SXSW 2024

Filmmakers Carina Mia Wong and Alex Simmons bring SXSW 2024 audiences a joyous doc about a special camp in the Hudson Valley. WE CAN BE HEROES will conquer your heart.

These kids possess an infectious passion that spills off the screen. They have profound thoughts and feelings. They openly identify their fears, anxieties, heartaches, and powers. Their honesty is inspiring. For as much as they might feel like they do not fit into the popular crowd at home, Wayfinder allows them a chance to blossom and shine. Campers are free to express themselves and feel safe in their gender identity and neurodivergence.

The counselors are brilliant. Anything could happen within a game that encourages explosive imagination. They understand the volatility of swirling emotions and use improvisation and patience to create a fully immersive experience. The campers might not initially realize the individualized care and stealth emotional therapy they get in their final moments at Wayfinder.

The film includes footage from the previous summer, smartly delineated by a change in color. Including glorious overhead shots of battles, we experience the culmination of the week, The Adventure Game. It consists of Three distinct parts. In this summer’s story, six factions of faeries battle to save all the creatures left in their world. It is titled The Last Green. Camper Dexter epically narrates throughout the film. What starts as fun and games ends in collective catharsis.

Everyone is accepting. The film is another reminder that hate is taught and not inherent. WE CAN BE HEROES is pure magic. It is a study of humanity and one of the most relatable films, whether or not you are a part of the LARPing community. WE CAN BE HEROES reassures us that the younger generation will continue to fight. Hope is not lost.


Film Screenings

 
Mar 9, 2024
11:45am1:11pm
 
Mar 10, 2024
2:45pm4:11pm
 
Mar 10, 2024
3:15pm4:41pm
 
Mar 13, 2024
3:15pm4:41pm
 
Mar 13, 2024
3:45pm5:11pm
 
Directors:

Carina Mia Wong, Alex Simmons

Executive Producer:

Laurene Powell Jobs, Davis Guggenheim, Lizzie Fox, Casey Meurer, Nicole Stott, Jonathan Silberberg, Cristina Costantini, Darren Foster

Producer:

Jennifer Wood, Krista Manis, Carina Mia Wong, Alex Simmons

Cinematographer:

Peter Alton, Michael Lockridge, Madeleine Peters

Editor:

Alex Simmons, Rebecca Adorno Dávila

Sound Designer:

Catherine Hood, Tim Haber, Annie Medlin, Carl Welden

Music:

Dan Deacon

Principal Cast:

Dexter, Cloud, Abby, Miranda, Kate, Max, Luisa (formerly Alex), Eli, Adelaide, Judson

Additional Credits:

Field Producer: Katy Dierks, Production Coordinator: Tommy McCarthy, Production Assistant: Jesse Mico, Assistant Camera: Tim Haber, Garrett Hanson, Adam Marquez, Alexandra Roberts, Additional Photography: Cassandra Giraldo, Carina Mia Wong, Alex Simmons, Lead Assistant Editor: Lucas Bugbee, Co-Editor: Dan Crow, Music Editor: Chester Gwazda, Finishing Producer (Final Frame): Julia Sub, Finishing Assistant Editor: Claudia Ramirez

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Punk AF ‘Secret Mall Apartment’ (SXSW 2024) Living in art.

SXSW 2024 color logoSECRET MALL APARTMENT

Secret Mall Apartment SXSW 2024

In 2003, eight Rhode Island artists created a secret apartment inside the busy Providence Place Mall and lived there for four years, filming everything along the way. They snuck in furniture, tapped into the mall’s electricity, and even constructed a wall, smuggling in more than two tons of cinderblock. Far more than just a wild prank, the secret apartment became a deeply meaningful place for its inhabitants.


In SECRET MALL APARTMENT, Jeremy Workman brings SXSW 2024 audiences a fun doc filled with hush-hush happenings and punk rock actions. Inside Providence Place Mall, between the years 2003 – 2007, magic happened.

It all started when four artists lost their creative space. Adriana Valdez Young, Andrew Oesch, Jay Zehngebot, and Michael Townsend decided to do something no one had ever thought of. After noticing the odd construction of Providence Place Mall, they took their artistic exploration to an entirely new level, quite literally. Upon discovering unused space in the building, they defied authority and moved into the mall.

The clandestine operation led by Michael, whose footage from an early digital camera comprises most of the film, is nothing short of badass. The never-before-seen footage gives us all the goods, from planning to creation, including the earnest acrobatics of moving furniture purchased at The Salvation Army. With handheld cement blocks, triggered alarms, and pure gumption they created a piece of art and dwelling. The group acknowledges their white privilege in their ability to get away with this stunt.

The film is not simply a story of their mall apartment but the impactful works they created throughout the North East, like making a tape art outline of those lost in NYC on 9/11. This feat took a total of five years. These artists’ cloak-and-dagger work (often fleeting in their existence) taps into humanity at its finest. The irony of The Providence Place Mall’s current state will not be lost on the audience. Most likely, it will give SXSW 2024 a simultaneous headshake and chuckle. SECRET MALL APARTMENT fully embraces the artistic essence of “Damn the Man.”


Director:

Jeremy Workman

Film Screenings

Mar 8, 2024
9:45pm11:16pm
 
Mar 8, 2024
10:15pm11:46pm
 
Mar 10, 2024
10:45pm12:16am
 
Mar 16, 2024
11:00am12:31pm

For all things SXSW 2024, click here!

 

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‘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


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‘GOD & COUNTRY’ (2024) explores the twisted reality of Christian Nationalism

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GOD & COUNTRY

God & Country 2024 poster

What the hell happened to Conservative Christians? Growing up Catholic taught me that you feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house the refugee, and love thy neighbor as yourself. What we’ve come to see is that none of those so-called values matter these days as long as the underlying hatred and cultlike lies fuel a fired-up voter base. GOD & COUNTRY takes us down the rabbit hole of skewed ethics and the genuine danger we found ourselves in at those moments in our country’s history.

God & Country 2024 Rally FlagsOn-the-ground video from January 6th, up close and personal from cell phones, retraumatizes the viewer. The new footage is mind-boggling and will undoubtedly fill you with rage and disgust. The film features sociologists, authors, historians, lawyers, and pastors. We examine the Constitution and the precise articles requiring separation of church and state. We look at evolving statistics on social issues through the years. The interconnectedness of women’s rights, race, and power is undeniable.

God & Country Faith & Freedom ImageViolence as a means of “spiritual defense” comes directly from the pulpit over and over. The film effectively builds towards January 6th by wading through the madness swirling in the years prior. It is utterly bewildering and 100 percent terrifying. This coordinated effort to keep people in a cult is deliberate and well-funded. History repeats itself. Wait until you find out the architect of Evangelical sermons.

God & Country 2024 Washington StillGOD & COUNTRY keenly explores the long history and bastardization of Christianity through White Nationalism. It is a political movement about power. America is a ticking time bomb encouraged by social media, media, and billions of dollars. Stay vigilant and show up at the polls because democracy depends on it.

Oscilloscope Laboratories’ GOD & COUNTRY,  produced by Rob Reiner and directed by Dan Partland (Unfit: The Psychology of Donald Trump), is opening in select theaters nationwide beginning This Friday, February 16th.

 

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Sundance 2024: Rock & roll down memory lane with ‘DIG! XX’

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DIG! XX

DIG! XX Sundance 2024

Ondi Timoner‘s Sundance hit returns to the festival for its 20th anniversary with more footage than before. If, like me, you missed its original festival run, you’ll eat up DIG! XX and its quintessential 90s music deep dive into the tumultuous relationship between The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

DIG! XX Sundance 2024 Anton NewcombeTimoner gets a completely unfiltered look inside the magic and mayhem in 7 years of behind-the-scenes footage. It’s a competition between the vibrant, often cocky, argumentative, drug-fueled, genuinely talented musician behavior of BJM versus the chill, business-minded, trustworthy, equally gifted Dandys. Each band pushes the other to greatness with contrasting tactics. Ondi’s handheld freestyle way of shooting is immersive and tangible. With the rapid-fire editing and narration from Joel Gion and Courtney Taylor, you’re entirely entertained. Huge personalities clash, eccentricities push people’s buttons, and childhood trauma rears its ugly head.

Timoner (Last Flight Home) tells the story of frenemies on two vastly different paths to fame. Go ahead and make DIG!XX for personality for the next month. I know Sundance 2024 audiences will.


Sundance Color logo 2024

Ondi Timoner

Ondi Timoner

Ondi Timoner is an internationally acclaimed filmmaker whose work focuses on “impossible visionaries” for which she was awarded the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance twice, for DIG! and We Live in Public.

Her most personal film, Last Flight Home (2022), about the extraordinary life & intentional death of her father, Eli Timoner, is Emmy-nominated, Oscar-shortlisted, and received the Humanitas for Best Documentary.


Credits

  • DIRECTOR(S)

    ONDI TIMONER

  • PRODUCED BY

    DAVID TIMONER

    ONDI TIMONER

  • EDITOR OF DIG! XX

    DAVID TIMONER

  • EDITOR OF DIG!

    ONDI TIMONER

  • CINEMATOGRAPHER

    ONDI TIMONER

    DAVID TIMONER

    VASCO LUCAS NUNES

  • NARRATED BY

    JOEL GION

    COURTNEY TAYLOR

For all of our Sundance coverage click here!


 

Slamdance 2024 review: Intimate and personal ‘ONE BULLET’ pierces the heart

slamdance 2024

ONE BULLET

ONE BULLET Poster

This story of female friendship forged amidst America’s longest war is told by a filmmaker who spent 18 years in-and-out of Afghanistan. In this war movie, the battlefield lies behind the curtains of an Afghan home as Bibi Hajji struggles to survive the loss of her youngest child, and the impact of a brother’s death on her remaining sons. A haunting image of that boy surviving a bullet wound prompted director Carol Dysinger to investigate, what happened to him, who fired the shot? “One Bullet” evolves from procedural to an excavation of the human experience, of loss and redemption. It asks: how might we make peace across vast social, cultural and religious divisions? Two women drinking one cup of tea at a time.

one bullet - Bibi Bibi Hajji

One Bullet- Bibi Hajji

Who shot Fahim? Filmmaker Carol Dysinger shares how one Afghan family’s loss in 2006 forged a surprising friendship. ONE BULLET utilizes footage from 2005 to 2020 to tell a tale of tragedy, war, and interconnectedness.

Following the incident, Colonel Elliot has the impossible task of finding out who shot Fahim. Although, at times, it appears that his job is more to prove that it wasn’t an American bullet that went astray. The deliberate mistakes by the original interpreter are haunting, promising Fahim he would walk again when we’ve just heard the doctors tell him he will most likely remain paralyzed. The US government promised he would receive fully paid care in Turkey. That is not exactly what went down. In 2011, Dysinger tracked down the family only to discover Fajim had died two years after the incident.

Carol and Fawad

Carol and Fawad

Dysinger does her best to respect Afghan culture, treading lightly, all while trying to make amends on behalf of the US. The evolution of Carol’s relationship with Bibi’s sons is fascinating, moving through anger, curiosity, and respect as the years pass. The passing conversation that goes untranslated ranges from innocuous to well-intended, intrusive to insulting. Bibi’s grace and hospitality are endless. You see, hear, and feel the protective nature of Carol. It is a tumultuous task, one that Bibi covers with food.

The particular ripple effect on one brother concerns Carol. Fawad’s mental and emotional decline intertwined with an eventual religious zealotry. The details from the night Fahim was shot slowly come to light over the years, despite the report essentially not existing in an official capacity today.

ONE BULLET is Fahim’s story. It is Bibi’s, Carol’s, and America’s story. Slamdance 2024 audiences should always keep this film in the not-too-far reaches of their minds.

(Unavailable for streaming in Afghanistan)

  • Director:
    Carol Dysinger
  • Screenwriter:
    Carol Dysinger, Steen Johannessen
  • Producer:
    Ashim Bhalla, Su Kim, Carol Dysinger
  • Year:
    2023
  • Runtime:
    93 minutes
  • Language:
    Dari/English
  • Country:
    Afghanistan
  • Genre:
    Documentary
  • Subtitle Language:
    English
This year’s festival runs Fri, Jan 19, 2024, 12:00 PM – Sun, Jan 28, 2024

 

For all of our previous Slamdance coverage, click here!

slamdance 2024

Sundance 2024 review: ‘And So It Begins’

Sundance 2024 logo

AND SO IT BEGINS

AND SO IT BEGINS

AND SO IT BEGINS at Sundance 2024

Amid Filipino elections, a grassroots movement emerges to protect truth and democracy from growing threats. People unite in joyful acts of resistance, kindling hope while autocracy expands.

Returning to Sundance four years after the premiere of A THOUSAND CUTS, director Ramona S. Diaz gives audiences a companion piece about the fragility of democracy. In the Philippines in 2016, the country elected a President and Vice President from opposite political spectrums. VP Leni Robredo is a compassionate, former NGO human rights attorney. She is articulate, funny, and fearless. If you took President Biden and combined him with Hillary Clinton, you might begin to understand Leni Robredo.

The passion of the people is evident in their cries for equality. Her supporters wear pink and come from every socioeconomic background and age group. She has a special bond with the LGBTQ community. Her extraordinary grassroots campaign still fights an uphill battle against the children and candidates of the former dictatorship.

Holy misogyny, Batman! The overt corruption of President Duterte looks familiar. The US had a tyrant appear in 2016. In 2021, Leni must contend with the attacks from the outgoing president and campaign against the son of former President Fernando Marcos, one of the country’s most notorious dictators. Under his reign, martial law pervaded the Philippines, and Marcos fled with billions of dollars. BongBong Marcos Jr wants to bring back the policies that destroyed democracy. To remind you, he is also Imelda Marcos’ son. A quote that hangs on the wall of Marcos’ former vacation home, now a museum, reads, “We must make this nation great again.” Hmmm. Where have we heard that before?

AND SO IT BEGINS is simultaneously a story about journalist Maria A. Ressa, the co-founder of the news outlet Rappler. Duterte falsely convicted her of breaking laws that never existed before her arrests. Ressa dared to challenge dictators and has since paid the price for years. Their relentless pursuit of quieting Rappler will make your blood boil. A wondrous moment happens in the film as Ressa receives a phone during a Zoom panel, informing her she’s just received the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. In her acceptable speech, she tells the world about the extensive online misinformation machine built by Marcos, Jr, once again reminding viewers how fragile any democracy is.

We cannot ignore the parallels in tactics. We would be foolish to think the playbook hasn’t gotten thicker as technology replaces knocking on doors. What can we learn from AND SO IT BEGINS? History revisionism threatens everything we hold dear, so pay attention, and don’t look away.

And So It Begins (2024) poster

And So It Begins (2024) poster

Available in person. Also available online for the public (January 25–28)

 

Meet the Artist

Ramona S. Diaz

Ramona S. Diaz

Ramona S. Diaz’s award-winning films — Imelda (2004), The Learning (2011), DSB: Everyman’s Journey (2012), Motherland (2017), and A Thousand Cuts (2020) — have screened at top-tier film festivals and been seen globally. Diaz is both a Guggenheim Fellow and a USA Fellow. In 2021, she was named the inaugural McGurn Family Trust Resident in Film by the American Academy in Rome.

Credits

  • DIRECTOR(S)

    RAMONA S. DIAZ

  • SCREENWRITER

    RAMONA S. DIAZ

  • PRODUCER

    RAMONA S. DIAZ

  • YEAR

    2024

  • CATEGORY

    FEATURE

  • COUNTRY

    UNITED STATES/PHILIPPINES

  • LANGUAGE

    ENGLISH, FILIPINO AND OTHER DIALECTS

  • RUN TIME

    113 MIN

For more information about Sundance 2024, click here!

 

You can read all of our Sundance coverage throughout the years here.

Sundance Color logo 2023

Review: ‘First We Bombed New Mexico’ (2023) a chilling reminder of the hidden costs of the Trinity test

FIRST WE BOMBED NEW MEXICO

First We Bombed New Mexico

Anyone getting ready to vote Oppenheimer for best picture should first have to watch Lois Lipman’s First We Bombed New Mexico. America has much to reckon with when it comes to the legacy of the nuclear bomb – much of it on our own shores. This documentary potently explores further dark shadows this scientific achievement has left behind.

First We Bombed New Mexico still 1 The documentary follows Tina Cordova as she advocates for herself and her fellow “downwinders.” Downwinders are innocent bystanders who may have suffered negative health effects from the Trinity test  – the 1945 detonation of a newly developed nuclear weapon in New Mexico.

Cordova speaks for the many citizens who were unwillingly and unknowingly exposed to the radiation from the nuclear test. She is a compelling lead figure, warm and driven.

First We Bombed New Mexico still 2The anecdotes from the immediate aftermath of the nuclear test are truly horrifying. One particularly striking recounting involves children playing with what they thought was “warm snow, but may have actually been nuclear fallout. Still more disturbing is the potential generational effects of the test. There are recounts of stillbirths, of children born without eyes, and of widespread cases of cancer across the affected communities. Cordova herself is a thyroid cancer survivor, the 4th generation in her family to have cancer since the test in 1945.

The struggles of Cordova and her fellow downwinders seem relentless. Their end goals – formal recognition and an apology from the US government – seem so meager in comparison to the widespread challenges they face. It is easy for the audience to lose hope. Those expecting a neat resolution will be disappointed. But for those willing to explore the messy history behind Trinity, this documentary proves a worthwhile watch.


An inspiring Hispanic cancer survivor bangs on the corridors of power to fight for compensation and an apology for Native and Hispanic communities in New Mexico whose land and water was radiated by the Trinity Bomb.

WINNER OF THE DOCUMENTARY FEATURE JURY AWARD

 AT THE 2023 AUSTIN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

WINNER OF THE AUDIENCE CHOICE BEST COMPETITION DOCUMENTARY AT THE 2023

 SANTA FE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Official Film Website: FirstWeBombedNewMexico.com

 

Instagram: @FirstWeBombedNMFilm

Facebook: @FirstWeBombedNewMexicoFilm

X (Twitter): @FirstWeBombedNM


Click here for more of Sam’s reviews!

Sundance 2024 review: Cheeky documentary ‘REALM OF SATAN’ gives the middle finger to haters.

Sundance 2024 logo

REALM OF SATAN

Realm Of SatanFilmmaker Scott Cummings brings Sundance 2024 audiences into the everyday lives of Satanists. The Church of Satan boasts innumerable followers around the world. REALM OF SATAN introduces us to members from all backgrounds in this part experimental, part cinema verité documentary that both challenges and pokes fun at any preconceived notions we may have had in the past.

As a forced Catholic from birth to age sixteen, my parents exposed me to some of the wackiest ideological notions simply because their parents had done the same to them. Anyone who knows me well has heard the story of my 8th-grade religion class epiphany. My teacher, in trying to explain that sin has levels of severity, touched upon homosexuality. I could not believe what I was hearing. I could not possibly be correct. In a class of 18 students, I stood upon my chair and asked, “So you’re telling me that if I told my mother that I was gay, it would be the equivalent of me telling her I had murdered someone?! That’s it. I’m out.” A quote from the Satanist text says all you need to know; “I favor the just and curse the rotten.” With a focus on individualism, it all sounds good to me.

REALM OF SATAN features strategically placed, in-your-face scenes but also mundane ones. It does not give a shit what you think. The tongue-in-cheek approach to some of the moments feels like curated bait for Christofascist audiences, which, as a liberal who embraces witchcraft, these choices are simply delicious fodder. You have to laugh.

Aside from some stereotypical wardrobe choices and a pentagram here and there, the subjects in the film could believe in anything or nothing at all. Their text is no more shocking than that of every other sect of religion. Have you read The Bible? The glorious theatricality of some rituals and eclectic decor create beautifully gothic tableaus that mesmerize, particularly for a self-proclaimed “Spooky Girl” like me. The visual trickery is fun as hell. The final camera sweep will look familiar to fans of Tales From The Crypt, right down to the gate squeak. It’s a clever touch. In all, REALM OF SATAN isn’t trying to convert anyone. It’s simply giving audiences a peek behind the curtain to dispel misinformation but with dramatic flair.


Credits

  • DIRECTOR(S)

    SCOTT CUMMINGS

  • SCREENWRITER

    SCOTT CUMMINGS

  • PRODUCERS

    CAITLIN MAE BURKE

    PACHO VELEZ

    MOLLY GANDOUR

  • EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS

    JOE POLETTO

    SAM ROSEME

    CATHY TANKOSIC

  • CINEMATOGRAPHER

    GERALD KERKLETZ

  • PRINCIPAL CAST

    PETER GILMORE

    PEGGY NADRAMIA

    BLANCHE BARTON

  • CO-PRODUCERS

    ELIZA HITTMAN

    GERALD KERKLETZ

    ASHER LEVINTHAL

    JACK A. LIECHTUNG

    GABRIEL MERKIN

  • YEAR

    2024

  • CATEGORY

    FEATURE

  • COUNTRY

    UNITED STATES

  • LANGUAGE

    ENGLISH, SPANISH, GERMAN, SWEDISH

  • RUN TIME

    80 MIN

  • COMPANY

    VITAL EXISTENCE LLC


    For more info on Sundance 2024 click here!

     

    Festival Dates: Thu, Jan 18, 2024, 2:45 PM – Sun, Jan 28, 2024

     

    Stay tuned for more Sundance 2024 coverage, and don’t forget to head to Unseen Films for even more! For past Sundance reviews click here.

     

Sundance 2024 review: AI advancements walk a fine line between healing and harmful in shocking doc ‘ETERNAL YOU’

Sundance 2024 logo

ETERNAL YOU

Sundance 2024 Eternal You

Sundance 2024 documentary ETERNAL YOU is deeply disturbing and endlessly intriguing. It is something straight out of a horror sci-fi film. Filmmakers Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck guide audiences through the latest technological advances in AI, where versions of your lost loved ones can interact with you in real-time. The moral and emotional gray area this tech exists in becomes the overarching ghost of this film (no pun intended).

First, we meet Joshua Barbeau, a man who lost his girlfriend, Jessica, and one of the early users of Project December. Founder Jason Rohrer works with the very little information Joshua provided from his viral experience, leading to thousands of requests. User Christi Angel speaks with her ex-boyfriend, Cameroun. Their chat gets darker and darker, and now she’s torn between continuing and walking away from the project altogether. Her journey is the perfect test case for and against afterlife AI.

Jason Rohrer is an open book. He’s transparent with negative reviews, going so far as to read a transcript that went completely off the rails. Interwoven into the narrative are clips from Senate hearings with Sam Altman, the creator of Open AI (ChatGTP), discussing safety. Rohrer admits his disconnection to the emotional impact of his clients while also confessing his intrigue in the eerie side effects. They don’t tackle the danger the VR jump presents. Justin Harrison, creator of YOV, believes in this technology so much that he chose it over his wife. His passion is evident. Harrison’s view on its expansion is, “Fuck death.”

There is no guarantee that a loved one’s data is safe forever. Could it be used to create porn? Ask the filmmakers of Another Body, where a college student found her face deepfaked on multiple sexually graphic videos created by one rejected classmate. Don’t even get me started on the political implications. Wait until you witness the production and results of a 2020 television series titled “Meeting You.” It will wreck you.

Gregor Keienburg and Raffael Seyfried‘s ethereal score makes your heart race and gives you goosebumps. A mix of disembodied voices and ominous strings fill you with dread. Bravo to editors Lisa Zoe Geretschläger and Anne Jünemann for hitting every emotional beat possible. Sundance audiences will undoubtedly feel the gravity of this doc. Is this concept a way to grieve and heal, or are we simply further monetizing the dead?


Check out this exclusive clip:

Remaining Screenings

January 25 – 1:45 PM MST – Holiday Village Cinemas – Park City

Online 
January 25, 7 AM PST – January 28, 10:55 PM PST


Panelist Name

Hans Block

Hans Block

Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck are German directors. Their debut film, The Cleaners, about the shadow industry of digital censorship, celebrated its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and has since been screened at more than 70 international festivals, in cinemas, and on TV worldwide. In their work, Block and Riesewieck question the impact of digital technologies on society.

Panelist Name

Moritz Riesewieck

Moritz Riesewieck

Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck are German directors. Their debut film, The Cleaners, about the shadow industry of digital censorship, celebrated its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and has since been screened at more than 70 international festivals, in cinemas, and on TV worldwide. In their work, Block and Riesewieck question the impact of digital technologies on society.

Credits

  • DIRECTOR(S)

    HANS BLOCK

    MORITZ RIESEWIECK

  • PRODUCERS

    CHRISTIAN BEETZ

    GEORG TSCHURTSCHENTHALER

  • EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS

    KATHRIN ISBERNER

    ANNA GODAS

    OLI HARBOTTLE

    CHRISTOPHER CLEMENTS

    JULIE GOLDMAN

    JENNY RASKIN

    KELSEY KOENIG

    LIZZIE FOX

    DAVIS GUGGENHEIM

  • CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

    MERYL METNI

  • CO-PRODUCER

    PATRICK M. MÜLLER

  • EDITING

    ANNE JÜNEMANN

    LISA ZOE GERETSCHLÄGER

  • DIRECTORS OF PHOTOGRAPHY

    TOM BERGMANN

    KONRAD WALDMANN

  • MUSIC

    GREGOR KEIENBURG

    RAFFAEL SEYFRIED

  • YEAR

    2023

  • CATEGORY

    FEATURE

  • COUNTRY

    GERMANY/UNITED STATES

  • LANGUAGE

    ENGLISH, KOREAN

  • RUN TIME

    87 MIN

  • COMPANY

    GEBRUEDER BEETZ FILMPRODUKTION

  • CONTACT

    L.RAITH@GEBRUEDER-BEETZ.DE


Sundance Film Festival 2024 runs Thu, Jan 18, 2024, 2:45 PM – Sun, Jan 28, 2024

Eastern Time

Sundance 2024 review: ‘A NEW KIND OF WILDERNESS’ wades through grief with grace

Sundance 2024 black and white logo

A NEW KIND OF WILDERNESS

A life chronicled most intimately and authentically, the Payne family experiences physical and emotional upheaval after a family tragedy. Choosing to raise their family on a secluded farm in the woods of Norway, Maria and Nik wanted nothing more than to instill a love of nature into their children. Potentially forced to sell the beloved farm that holds all their memories, Nik, Freja, Falk, Ulv, and eldest daughter Ronja navigate unfathomable loss and fight to remain connected.

Through Maria’s striking photography, home videos, and extraordinary voiceover narration, throughout several years, filmmaker Silje Evensmo Jacobsen evokes visceral hope and sadness in A NEW KIND OF WILDERNESS. Exploring one family’s respect for the land, unique homeschooling, and off-grid lifestyle, Nik battles societal norms that Maria vowed to circumnavigate and financial limitations. The children are undeniably self-aware. Their openness with their emotions is breathtaking. When school thrusts technology upon them for the first time, they take to it like fish to water, much to the chagrin of Nik, but their wild essence never wanes as they long to hold onto their way of life. The film speaks to the resiliency of youth.

Witnessing the pure innocence and wonder of the Payne children hits you in the heart. It is easy to dismiss the genuine curiosity of your kids with the swirl of everyday chaos. Sundance 2024 audiences have the honor of joining together on an elegant meditation of grief and loneliness. A NEW KIND OF WILDERNESS reminds us to cherish each moment, the Earth, and one another.


Click here for more information on screenings and online availability for A NEW IND OF WILDERNESS


 

Silje Evensmo Jacobsen

Silje Evensmo Jacobsen, director of A New Kind of Wilderness

Silje Evensmo Jacobsen has directed award-winning documentary films and series for the past 15 years. Among others: Team Ingebrigtsen (2016, 2018) about an unconventional Norwegian family raising their children to be top runners, Faith Can Move Mountains (2021) about nuns breaking boundaries in rural Norway, and KRAFT/SPARK (2022) about young street dancers. A New Kind of Wilderness is her second feature.

 

Credits

  • DIRECTOR(S)

    SILJE EVENSMO JACOBSEN

  • PRODUCER

    MARI BAKKE RIISE

  • EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

    KIM CHRISTIANSEN

  • CINEMATOGRAPHY

    SILJE EVENSMO JACOBSEN

    KARINE FOSSER

    LINE K. LYNGSTADAAS

  • EDITORS

    KRISTIAN TVEIT

    CHRISTOFFER HEIE

  • COMPOSER

    OLAV ØYEHAUG

  • SOUND DESIGNER

    YNGVE LEIDULV SÆTRE

  • COLORIST

    TOM CHR. LILLETVEDT

  • FEATURING

    ULV VATNE PAYNE

    FALK VATNE PAYNE

    FREJA VATNE PAYNE

    RONJA BREDA VATNE

    MARIA GROS VATNE

    NIKOLAUS ITHELL PAYNE

  • PRODUCTION COMPANY

    A5 FILM

  • YEAR

    2024

  • CATEGORY

    FEATURE

  • COUNTRY

    NORWAY

  • LANGUAGE

    ENGLISH, NORWEGIAN

  • RUN TIME

    84 MIN


Sundance 2024 preview: A film for everyone at the festival’s 40th Edition.

Sundance Film Festival 2024 Color Logo
The Sundance Film Festival has launched the careers of indie film directors, writers, and actors now for 40 years. Back with in-person and online screening opportunities, this year’s iteration boasts new and bold storytelling from every genre. Here are a handful of films we’ll track in 2024.

 

For more information and tickets to Sundance 2024, click here! Be on the lookout for shared coverage with our good friend, Steve Kopian, at Unseen Films. To see all of his reviews and what he’s looking forward to this year, head over to his home base.

(World Cinema Dramatic Competition)
SUJO

S till from the Sundance film SUJO
When a cartel gunman is killed, he leaves behind Sujo, his beloved 4-year-old son. The shadow of violence surrounds Sujo during each stage of his life in the isolated Mexican countryside. As he grows into a man, Sujo finds that fulfilling his father’s destiny may be inescapable.

A movie about time and trauma, this beautifully acted and hauntingly written film from the directors of Identifying Features will be sure to captivate audiences. 

This film contains strobe effects.
Available in person. Also available online for the public (January 25–28)


40th Edition Celebration Screenings And Events

DIG! XX

DIG! XX tracks the tumultuous rise of two talented musicians, Anton Newcombe, leader of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Courtney Taylor, leader of the Dandy Warhols, and dissects their star-crossed friendship and bitter rivalry. Through their loves and obsessions, gigs and recordings, arrests and death threats, uppers and downers, and ultimately to their chance at a piece of the profit-driven music business, they stage a self-proclaimed revolution in the music industry.

DIG! premiered at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival in the U.S. Documentary Competition, where it ultimately won the Grand Jury Prize in the documentary category. DIG! XX, which will premiere at the upcoming Festival, is not only a digitally enhanced, remixed, and remastered version of DIG!, but also a special 20th anniversary new edit of the film culled from footage shot over seven years, and brought to you by the original sibling team, Ondi and David Timoner.

*Digitally enhanced and featuring new footage


(Premieres)

And So It Begins

Amidst the traditional pomp and circumstance of Filipino elections, a quirky people’s movement rises to defend the nation against deepening threats to truth and democracy. In a collective act of joy as a form of resistance, hope flickers against the backdrop of increasing autocracy.

Available in person. Also available online for the public (January 25–28)


(World Cinema Documentary Competition)

Eternal You

Startups are using AI to create avatars that allow relatives to talk with their loved ones after they have died. An exploration of a profound human desire and the consequences of turning the dream of immortality into a product.

“I wanted to see if he was okay,” explains Christi, one of the users of Project December. With this innovative software, users can communicate with a virtual version of the deceased through a chatbot that simulates the dead person’s conversation patterns. Hers was an attempt to check on her first love. Others may simply miss someone, seek permission to move on, or want to rid themselves of guilt.

At this point, I think we’ve all seen the app that turns photos into moving images. The idea feels equally sentimental and disturbing. Eternal You takes this tech further, begging the question, “How far are we willing to go to feel connected to those we’ve lost, and how might that affect our brains?” 

Available in person. Also available online for the public (January 25–28)


World Cinema Documentary Competition

A New Kind of Wilderness

In a forest in Norway, a family lives an isolated lifestyle in an attempt to be wild and free, but a tragic event changes everything, and they are forced to adjust to modern society.

Silje Evensmo Jacobsen mixes home movies and a carefully intimate approach to the Payne family, whose isolated existence gets shaken up quite suddenly. This beautiful portrait of connection and resilience in the face of grief will touch your heart.

Available in person. Also available online for the public (January 25–28)


(NEXT)

REALM OF SATAN

An experiential portrait depicting Satanists in both the every day and in the extraordinary as they fight to preserve their lifestyle: magic, mystery, and misanthropy.

Filmmaker Scott Cummings is no stranger to Sundance, having edited many highly acclaimed festival premieres over the past decade, including Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Monsters and Men, and Wendy.

When I tell you that you aren’t ready for this doc, I mean it in the best way possible. Created to ruffle feathers and dispel right-wing hypocrisy, Scott Cummings titillates with gorgeous framing and a touch of tongue-in-cheek magical realism. 

This film contains graphic sexual content. Audiences must be 18 or older.

Available in person. Also available online for the public (January 25–28)


(Premieres)

My Old Ass

Maisy Stella and Aubrey Plaza in Sundance film MY OLD ASS

Maisy Stella and Aubrey Plaza in the Sundance film MY OLD ASS

The summer before college, bright-yet-irreverent Elliott comes face-to-face with her older self during a mushroom trip. The encounter spurs a funny and heartfelt journey of self-discovery and first love as Elliott prepares to leave her childhood home.

The concept alone should get your butt into a seat, but filmmaker Megan Park casting Aubrey Plaza is chef’s kiss in indie cinema.


(Midnight)

I Saw the TV Glow

Justice Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine  in I SAW THE TV GLOW

Justice Smith and Brigette Lundy-Paine in I SAW THE TV GLOW

Teenager Owen is just trying to make it through life in the suburbs when his classmate introduces him to a mysterious late-night TV show — a vision of a supernatural world beneath their own. In the pale glow of the television, Owen’s view of reality begins to crack.

Writer-director Jane Schoenbrun’s We’re All Going to the World’s Fair (2021 Sundance Film Festival) gave us one of the coolest genre-bending films with a breakout performance from star Anna Cobb. I cannot wait to see how this one twists my sanity and senses. 

This film contains violence and gore.

This film contains strobe effects.


Sundace Film Festival 2024 Black and White logoTo find out more information on all things Sundance 2024, head to https://festival.sundance.org/

 

Review: Now available on HBO and MAX, ‘TIME BOMB Y2K’ recalls hysteria and provides a warning.

TIME BOMB Y2K

Time Bomb Y2K poster features a desktop being crushed by the times square new years eve ball drop

Synopsis: As the clock counts down to the dawn of the 21st century, the world faces the largest potential technological disaster to ever threaten humanity. The problem is comically simple yet incredibly complex – a bug that could cause computers to misinterpret the year 2000 as 1900, sowing chaos throughout the world as electronic systems failed. Crafted entirely through archival footage, TIME BOMB Y2K is a prescient and often humorous tale about the power and vulnerabilities of technology. By re-appraising both the cooperative efforts and mass hysteria surrounding this millennial milestone, TIME BOMB Y2K explores how modern life has been dramatically transformed by the digital revolution.


HBO’s TIME BOMB Y2K

The most hyped fearmongering moment of the end of the 20th century began in the few years before the ball dropped on Dec 31st, 1999. I was a freshman in college when Y2K was all the craze. The media had us believing we were on the brink of global collapse and that anything housing a computer chip would cease to work. In reality, nothing happened. But the concept of Y2K feels much more apocalyptic today.

TIME BOMB Y2K consists entirely of archival footage. Interviews with experts and talking heads at the time give the audience a perfect insight into how fringe groups thrive today. The pure wonder of new technology on the faces of those featured is fantastic nostalgia for those of us who lived through those few years. Anyone born after Y2K might find the doc either shocking or terrifying. Putting things into perspective as we enter into 2024, if the global internet went down, there would be genuine chaos. What would keyboard warriors do without the ability to share their BS and vitriol? In all seriousness, we exist in a capitalist economy that leans heavily on wifi and online presence. What would younger generations do without practical skills? How would it affect our ability to access money? Would modern vehicles start? Entertainment outside of live theatre would disappear.

TIME BOMB Y2K makes terrific points about the effects of technology on human interaction. The film delves into how certain groups of people reacted during the unknown. Some folks became preppers, while others cried “Hoax” from the beginning. It’s a perfect metaphor for the power of disinformation, closely mirroring how a particular subsection of alt-right people think a homegrown militia uprising is coming. I had no idea this existed in preparation for Y2K. We have to take into consideration how the world reacted during COVID. The potential for violence equals the potential for peace. It is a fine line.

If anything, TIME BOMB Y2K reminds us of the delicate balance of power. It introduces very fundamental questions about humanity’s ability to survive without technology. It’s a dizzying dichotomy of ideas, perhaps proving nothing has changed, and it’s only gotten worse. It’s a sobering conversation starter.


The HBO Original documentary TIME BOMB Y2K, directed by Brian Becker and Marley McDonald, and executive produced by award-winning filmmaker Penny Lane (HBO’s “Listening to Kenny G”), debuts SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and will be available to stream on Max.