‘THE PARK PLAYERS’ (2024) Charming new kids show premieres on YouTube today. Get ready to smile.

The park players logo

With comedy, facts, music, and puns mixed to bite-sized perfection, the new series THE PARK PLAYERS is a treat for kids and parents alike. Creator Joe Cobden‘s Sesame Street experience is on full display. Modern children’s programming has exploded over the past few years with shows upping the anty on clever and educational dialogue. THE PARK PLAYERS introduces us to characters like Rose, the curious skunk, the confident dog Mr. Whiskers, the chatty raccoon Rico, and the brave but timid Mouse. 

As a 43-year-old mother raised by Big Bird, PBS Kids is now a morning fixture in our house. Any parent will tell you that YouTube has made their life simpler now that official channels for kids’ shows are available. THE PARK PLAYERS enters the scene with unique characters, carefully crafted and hilariously voiced. Backed by the lovely park audio of birds and wind places the viewer in the environment with their new colorful friends, subconsciously exposing kids to places they might not have seen in real life. The original songs are smirk-inducing, and the score is calming. There is something about each one of our new friends that’s charming and quirky. Even in brief, quiet moments, you find yourself gazing at them with glee. 

THE PARK PLAYERS is sure to delight audiences of all ages. Congratulations to the entire production team for delivering new smiles.

Park Players characters 1

THE PARK PLAYERS characters 2

BIG BEACH

THE PARK PLAYERS - Big BeachFounded in 2004, Big Beach is a Los Angeles-based
company that produces, finances, and distributes
independent films, television, and theater productions.
With an eye toward intelligent, character-driven,
humanistic material, the company’s overall mission is
to showcase stories that inspire, engage, and entertain.

Meet Our Friends

The Park Players -Shelly and Mouse

In true Park Players fashion, Joe invited a slew of his
friends along to help bring his vision to life.
From Fred Stoller lending a voice to Shelley, to
Hombre McSteez illustrating initial sketches and
design legend, Rhek, lending a helping hand.
Ron Clark, an original writer on the muppets, helped
Joe crack a few jokes for your laughing pleasure too.
Park Players encourages you to come together with
your friends and enjoy the magic that real-life
connection can bring.

For more Family Friendly reviews, click here!

‘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.

For more Documentaries reviews, click here!

‘The Long Game’ (2024) is timely and inspiring

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MUCHO MAS MEDIA SETS APRIL 12TH RELEASE FOR DENNIS QUAID AND JAY HERNANDEZ-LED SXSW AUDIENCE AWARD WINNER 

THE LONG GAME

A 1955 group of Mexican-American caddies forms the first-of-its-kind high school golf team in South Texas. Based on the true story and book, Mustang Miracle by Humberto G. Garcia, THE LONG GAME is an inspiring and timely story of perseverance and heart.

The Long Game still 2THE LONG GAME puts racism at the forefront of this sports story. There’s a push and pull between their Mexican-Ametican identity and belonging. Peña encourages the boys to fit in by acclimating to white culture. Even when the boys sneak across the border, the Mexican locals give them a hard time. Joe also battles the unresolved fear of his hyper-masculine father. His own biases stunt his emotional growth. The idea of acceptance, both self and socially, is the key to the narrative.

These boys navigate a culture stuck in the past with other teams and their adults actively sabotaging their progress. The team’s work ethic and respect for the grounds is a thoughtful addition that shows the glaring differences in manners and privilege.

the long Game - Cheech marinThis ensemble cast is a hole-in-one. Cheech Marin delivers a funny, heartwarming performance as course groundskeeper and inside man Pollo. He is a wonderful addition. Dennis Quaid plays Frank Mitchell, Peña’s war buddy and the only white man in town willing to act as the face and assistant coach of the team. Quaid railroads fear by normalizing every moment. There is nothing “white savior” about his performance. He is charming.

Jay Hernandez in The Long GameJay Hernandez gives a complex performance as conflicted JB. His trauma often overtakes his good intentions, but his arc catalyzes change. Hernandez effortlessly holds your attention. Countering JB’s outlook, Julian Works captivates as Joe. As he gains due confidence, Works gives the role an honest vulnerability. He has fierce chemistry with Hernandez.

The Long Game still 1The upbeat, nostalgic soundtrack elevates the family-friendly feel. Super 8 footage, beautifully shot and edited milestone montages, has the same effect. THE LONG GAME remains relevant in a world where many opinions of race haven’t changed since the story’s origin. This cheer-worthy film educates and inspires. It is the real deal.

Julio Quintana’s sports drama The Long Game, starring Jay Hernandez and Dennis Quaid,
in theaters nationwide on April 12th.

 

The film had its world premiere at the 2023 SXSW Film Festival, where it won the Narrative Spotlight Audience Award and received rave reviews from critics praising its top-notch performances and calling it a crowd-pleasing and uplifting film based on a true story. This marks director Quintana and Quaid’s reunion after the success of their first film, Netflix’s true-story sports drama Blue Miracle.



The Long Game, inspired by the book “Mustang Miracle” written by Humberto G. Garcia, follows the true story of five young Mexican American caddies in 1955 who created their own golf course in the middle of the South Texas brush country. Despite outdated and inferior equipment and no professional instruction to begin with, they would go on to compete against wealthy, all-white teams and win the 1957 Texas State High School Golf Championship.

For more sports films, click here!

‘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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For all things SXSW 2024, click here!

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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Kickass ‘BACKSPOT’ (SXSW 2024) goes hard

SXSW 2024 color logo

BACKSPOT

backspot SXSW 2024

Competitive cheer is no joke. The athleticism and dedication involved are higher than most people understand. In my day, alongside the big bows and toothy smiles were broken arms, knocked-out teeth, and concussions. They go hand in hand. D. W. Waterson‘s SXSW 2024 film BACKSPOT dives head first into the world of tumbling, trophies, and tenacity through a mental health lens.

Riley works her ass off for a spot on a professional cheer squad. In her efforts to be the best, she pushes personal relationships and her sanity to their limits.

The script beautifully balances the hyper-competitiveness with moments of teenage joy but leans heavily into the reality of the sport. The intense rehearsals, the backbiting, and the called-out misogyny all present equally. BACKSPOT unapologetically exposes the importance of mental health in sports. It’s a thin line between winning and breaking, passion and obsession.

Evan Rachel Wood plays coach to the more elite team. Playing Eileen McNamara, she is no-nonsense, hardass. You are 100% buying what she’s selling. Devery Jacobs gives audiences a whip-smart, compassionate, and nuanced performance as Riley. She’s a self-aware young woman battling the complexities of her inherited anxiety and perfectionism. Riley goes to the extremes, whether in practice or escapism. Jacobs captures the internal tug-of-war of emotions.

Waterson’s editing is fantastic. It undeniably enhances the film. BACKSPOT is a great companion watch for the Isabelle Fuhrman headliner, THE NOVICE, and while that film focuses on college rowing, the ruthless principals are the same. Waterson’s directorial debut delivers a strong new voice and clear vision in storytelling.


D.W. Waterson

D.W. Waterson (Filmmaker)
D.W. Waterson (they/them) is a Toronto-based, award-winning, non-binary/queer filmmaker and world-touring electronic music artist. D.W. is the creative force behind the 6 million-viewed, 40+ time award-winning digital series THAT’S MY DJ (Seasons 1-3). They have been DJing and throwing parties in the Toronto underground for ten years, and have opened for artists such as Peaches and Idris Elba.
 
Waterson’s work has garnered a Canadian Screen Award Nomination, five Best Director awards as well as Noteable’s 2017 Director of the Year award. Named a Resident at the 2022 TIFF Filmmaker Lab, D.W.’s debut feature film BACKSPOT had its world premiere at TIFF 2023. Alongside directing and producing, D.W. also created original electronic tracks to accompany the film.

Kick-Ass, Hard-Hitting, Queer Cheerleading Drama In Theaters Nationwide May 2024
 
Executive Produced by Elliot Page
Starring Devery Jacobs and Evan Rachel Wood

For all things SXSW 2024, click here!

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Slamdance 2024 review: ‘INHERTITANCE’ is a heartbreaking portrait of cyclical poverty and addiction.

slamdance 2024

INHERITANCE

INHERITANCE_Poster

Slamdance 2024 doc INHERITANCE is an unfiltered look at one Appalachian family’s struggle with generational addiction. The rippling effects of drugs directly connect to cyclical poverty. They are a part of the culture. We see children who look as young as ten years old smoke cigarettes with the nonchalance of chewing gum. Young girls get pregnant at a rate that becoming a great-grandmother is normal if you survive the world of opioids. Filmmakers Matt Moyer and Amy Toensing hang their hats on 12-year-old Curtis, a hopeful, bright, and spunky in hopes of making a better life through all the inevitable chaos.

Inheritance familyWe witness the tragic evolution of Curtis’ extended family through intimate sit-downs with family members, sharing their darkest secrets without a moment of hesitation. Their goal is equal parts redemption and cathartic confession. Some family members try harder than others, though the dark thoughts never leave. Religion lands somewhere between true belief and crutch. Mostly, the latter.

Seeing his parents’ toxic relationship play out as they chase their next score is brutal. Curtis knows nothing good comes from their behavior. What makes it worse is Curtis is a joyous and pure soul. He grins and bares the trauma that swirls around him. You want to reach through the screen and rescue him as he recounts his numerous stays in foster care. As the years roll on, you see the cynicism creeping into his personality.

INHERITANCE_CurtisThoughtful closeups and the hauntingly beautiful score create heartwrenching transitions. Moyer and Toensing try to offer moments of childhood levity featuring Curtis and his siblings playing with poppers, water guns, and video games, but lurking in the background is the reality of parents severely impaired by drugs. Inheritance breaks your heart. A six-year journey down a rabbit hole of repeated histories. Is Curtis the best bet to break the cycle? One can only hope.

Inheritance participants


INHERITANCE Trailer:

 
INHERITANCE explores the underlying causes of the opioid epidemic in America through the life of one boy and five generations of his extended family over 11 years. Curtis, a bright and hopeful boy, grows up from age 12 to 18 surrounded by love and struggle while every adult in his family – parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins — battles addiction. Curtis’ America is an America where people and communities are struggling with an epidemic of substance abuse, joblessness, and a deteriorating sense of belonging.

 

Official Film Website: https://www.inheritancethefilm.com/ (the website trailer contains explicit language)

IG: @inheritance_thefilm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=61554404316999 


 

CREDITS

 

PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY

MATT MOYER and AMY TOENSING

 

EDITED BY

CURTIS WHITEAR

 

WRITTEN BY

CURTIS WHITEAR and MATT MOYER and AMY TOENSING

 

CINEMATOGRAPHY BY 

MATT MOYER

 

MUSIC by

KYLE SCOTT WILSON

 

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS

MORGAN PEHME and DANIEL DiMAURO

 

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

SAM CULLMAN

 

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS

ERIK and LESLIE HEYER

 

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

DAVE A. LIU

 

CO–EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

FREDRIK STANTON

 

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

KAYLA BREEN

 

AUDIO POST PRODUCTION

HEART PUNCH STUDIOS

 

SOUND DESIGN / RE-RECORDING MIX BY

GREG McCLEARY

 

COLOR BY

CHRISTOPHER YOUNG

 

POST PRODUCTION FINISHING BY

SEE WHY COLOR

 

PRODUCTION COMPANIES

MILLROCK PRODUCTIONS        

CALLIOPE PICTURES

In association with 

LIUCRATIVE MEDIA

 
  • Year:
    2024
  • Runtime:
    85 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
    United States
  • Premiere:
    World Premiere
  • Genre:
    Documentary
  • Subtitle Language:
    English

Slamdance 2024 will take place in-person from January 19-25 and virtually from January 22-28.

You can read our previous Slamdance coverage here! Stay tuned to Reel News Daily for more reviews this week, and don’t forget to check out our coverage over at Unseen Films for more!

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: ‘MERRY GOOD ENOUGH’ marries mental health and holiday hijinks in the most grounded fashion

MERRY GOOD ENOUGH

Ah, the holidays. Lucy Raulie (Raye Levine Spielberg) has always had a complicated relationship with her dysfunctional family, but when her mother disappears on Christmas Eve (and it’s maybe Lucy’s fault…) it’s going to be up to Lucy to bring her family back together again, whether she knows it or not.


Joined in forces (sort of…) by her older brother Tim (Daniel Desmarais) and younger sister Cynthia (Comfort Clinton) the Raulie kids may get more than they all bargained for when their eccentric father George (Joel Murray) shows up to “help” in the search. Featuring vintage songs and a stand-out ensemble cast that also includes Sawyer Spielberg, Marcia DeBonis, Neil Casey and Sophie von Haselberg, Merry Good Enough is at once warm-hearted and sharp, a new holiday classic in the making.


Coming home for the holidays is always wrought with complex emotions. Directors Caroline Keene and Dan Kennedy give audiences much to ponder in MERRY GOOD ENOUGH. A film about familial chaos across generations, this enjoyable small-town film is sure to strike a chord this holiday season.

Joel Murray is George, the absent but immensely excitable father figure. Writer-director Caroline Keene drops early hints of his toxic masculinity, and Murray eases into the skin of a pretty loathsome man. Daniel Desmarais plays Tim. His sardonic wit meshes perfectly with this cast of fantastic misfits. Comfort Clinton is Cynthia. She is uptight and controlling. Clinton owns the role with her evident daddy issues and needs for approval.

Sawyer Spielberg is charming as neighbor Sam. His chemistry with Levine is magic, which makes sense since they’ve been married since 2018. Susan Gallagher‘s performance is spectacular. Keene’s script nails the mother of adult children vibe with running errands, asking if we’ve eaten, awkwardly using technology, grabbing coffee, and the overly stocked fridge. Gallagher captivates with her vulnerability. Raye Levine gives Lucy a tangible relatability. She’s funny, a little lost, and yet entirely grounded.

At the heart of MERRY GOOD ENOUGH, this script delves into unresolved childhood trauma, emotional isolation, mental health, and forgiveness. It’s a breezy watch about finding bliss and connection in the imperfect.


Available on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube Movies, Cable and Satellite On Demand on December 19th! 

 

CO-DIRECTORS:

Caroline Keene

Dan Kennedy

 

 WRITER: 

Caroline Keene

 

PRODUCERS:

Shawn Gauvain 

Dan Kennedy

Krista Minto

 Jamieson Shea

Genevieve Skehan

 

CAST:

Raye Levine Spielberg

Joel Murray

Comfort Clinton

Sawyer Spielberg

Susan Gallagher

Daniel Desmarais

Neil Casey

 

 

RUNNING TIME:

97 Minutes


 

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.


 

Austin Film Festival 2023 review: ‘THE PROBLEM WITH PEOPLE’ brings familial chaos and charm.

THE PROBLEM WITH PEOPLE

Two distant cousins who’ve never met – one in NYC, the other in the smallest town there is in Ireland – come together to finally put an end to a generations-long family feud. It doesn’t go well. The Problem With People, set in the beautifully lush Irish countryside, is a heartwarming comedy about family, world peace … and sheep.


Director Chris Cottam brings Austin Film Festival audiences a charming transatlantic tale of fortune, forgiveness, and family.

Paul Reiser, who also writes the screenplay with Wally Marzano-Lesnevich, plays Barry. A real estate mogul from NYC, he receives a call from his distant cousin in Ireland, requesting his presence to heal a wound from generations past. The caller is Ciáran, played by Colm Meaney. The two proud, established men momentarily connect for the sake of their family. When Barry finds himself inheriting half of the family land, shenanigans ensue, dividing this small town between old and new ways.

This breezy film is perfect for the festival circuit. Jane Levy grounds the film as Barry’s daughter. While 95% of her appearances occur as phone calls from NYC, her brightness keeps Barry grounded for the viewer. Reiser is as great as ever. His big-city energy is a delicious foil for Meaney’s homegrown pride. Ciáran wavers between forgiveness and fight, and Meaney is a pro.

The landscape of the film is breathtaking. The sets are inviting. The script is heartwarming and silly. Frankly, THE PROBLEM WITH PEOPLE is a film we all need right about now. While it doesn’t break the mold, it makes you smile from beginning to end. I would easily watch a sequel of these two men navigating whatever comes next.


For more info on the Austin Film Festival 2023, click here!

 

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


 

TIFF 2023 review: ‘BYE BYE TIBERIAS’ honors four generations of strong women.

BYE BYE TIBERIAS

“Don’t open the gate to past sorrows,” was the response filmmaker Lina Soualem received when asking her mother, actress Hiam Abbass (Succession), about where she came from. In the TIFF 2023 documentary BYE BYE TIBERIAS, audiences journey into the past through the crumbling walls of healing trauma and treasured connections.

The film consists of informal sit-down interviews, extensive personal writings, archival footage, and plenty of home videos of the generations of strong women in the family. We discover the hurt from Hiam’s past, the emotional baggage of leaving behind the turmoil of Palestine, but also the treasured connections of the women who shaped her. Hiam’s letters and poems serve as both insight and narration. They are intensely affecting.

Lina takes Hiam to her childhood home in Tiberias. As we witness Hiam wade through the complexities of guilt and grief, the film exposes a universality I was not expecting. BYE BYE TIBERIAS captures the heartship of carving a path that defies the patriarchal structure. One often defined by social and political forces beyond our control.

Hiam and her family love one another with their whole hearts. They have no filters when speaking to each other, and their words of affirmation are something to aspire to. Lina Soualem captures all of this in an elegant edit. The film is beautifully intimate. It’s a loving commentary on memory, identity, and honoring your past.


Bye Bye Tiberias
Bye Bye Tibériade
Lina Soualem
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
France, Belgium, Qatar, Palestine | 2023 | 82m | French, Arabic
 
 

Coming to cinemas this week, ‘LIFT’ is an education and a celebration.

LIFT

LIFT poster

                           Over a decade in the making, this inspiring and unforgettable documentary follows children impacted by homelessness as they discover the magic of self-expression through dance. Guided by mentor Steven, whose journey leads back to his childhood shelter, their path within a remarkable ballet program becomes a celebration of joy and triumph in the face of adversity.

Director David Petersen takes audiences on a journey that spans ten years. In his documentary LIFT, he tells the world about the brilliant and titular program in New York City that revolves around the art of dance. “New York Theatre Ballet’s LIFT Community Service Program provides scholarships for talented at-risk and underserved children at the School of NYTB, as well as programs that champion dance for the greater good.” Housing-insecure youth have the opportunity to break free from the circumstances they cannot control. Steven Melendez once lived in a shelter. As a professional dancer and former student of the program, he returns to introduce ballet to other housing-insecure children. The discipline and structure that comes along with ballet transcend the stage. It is vital for kids in school or home environments that would otherwise make them victims of socioeconomic circumstances. The purpose of LIFT is to provide a safe place for them to learn and grow. It is a beautiful safety net, but they have to be willing to commit. These kids have so many obstacles in their paths, and Steven does everything he can to push past his own trauma to better the lives of kids just like him.The documentary follows a small group of kids that Steven nurtured over ten years of ballet. Tough love is necessary as these kids get into trouble. Steven does not have time to mince words. It is the honesty they need to survive and a place to put all their unbridled emotions. The culmination of the film arrives with one special performance. Steven creates a new piece of choreography based on his experiences and those of his handpicked students, and my god, it is a revelatory dance. This choreography is therapy. This choreography is healing. This choreography is lifesaving. Steven knows it, and as the credits roll on LIFT, audiences will know it, too.

In Select Theatres on September 15, 2023
And Available to Buy or Rent on Digital September 22nd

*Best Documentary Audience Award 2nd Place – 2022 Tribeca Festival*
* Best Documentary Winner – 2022 San Francisco Dance Film Festival*
*Top Prize Children’s Resilience in Film Award – Shine Global Awards*
*Best Documentary Audience Award 2nd Place – 2023 Seattle International Film Festival*
*Best of Fest Winner – 2023 Palm Springs International Film Festival*
*2022 Hamptons International Film Festival*

Release Date: In Select Theatres on September 15, 2023, and On Digital & On Demand on September 22, 2023
Directed By: David Petersen
Featuring: Steven Melendez (Principal Artist and Artistic Director of NYTB), Diana Byer (Founder and former Artistic Director of NYTB), Victor Abreu (LIFT Dance Student, Member of New York City Ballet’s corps de ballet), Yolannsie Cardona (LIFT Dance Student), Sharia Blockwood (LIFT Dance Student)Produced By: Mary Recine, David Petersen
Executive Produced By:  Jody Allen, Ruth Johnston, Rocky Collins, Jannat Gargi, Sam Pollard, Alex Kurtzman, Jenny Lumet, Bruce Evans, Lisa Kleiner-Chanoff, Bonni Cohen, Megan Gelstein
Executive Produced By and Principal Advisor: Misty Copeland
Distributed By: Paramount Global Content Distribution
Genre: Documentary
Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language

Social Media: @ParamountMovies #LIFTDoc

LIFT Community Service Program provides scholarships for talented at-risk and underserved children at the School of NYTB, as well as programs that champion dance for the greater good. LIFT includes a year-round Study Program for children at risk and homeless. 


DWF LA review: ‘KATIE’S MOM’ is a delicious homage and star vehicle for Dina Meyer.

KATIE’S MOM

Katie's Mom poster

SYNOPSIS
A heartfelt comedy influenced by THE GRADUATE but told from the perspective of a protagonist inspired by Mrs. Robinson. Set in Pasadena, KATIE’S MOM is about Nancy Rosenfeld (Dina Meyer (STARSHIP TROOPERS, SAW)), 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 the woman she was meant to be.


Nancy is a divorcee trying to plan the perfect Christmanukah for her kids, Katie and Eli. When Her daughter arrives with her new boyfriend, things get complicated.

Nancy’s grown children, Katie and Eli, are selfish brats, if we are being honest. Julia Tolchin and Colin Bates tap into rude rich kid personas from different but equally effective angles. Aaron Dominguez is effortlessly charming as Alex. You buy into his sincerity. He’s a solid foil for both Tolchin and Meyer.

Speaking of the titular character, Dina Meyer nails the divorced Mom vibe with a combination of sexual frustration, invisible labor, and unconditional love. I would watch an entire series based on her upcoming shenanigans. She is incredibly camera friendly and oh-so-watchable.

Fantasy sequences are fun and sexy. The storytelling is undeniably relatable to any woman who has let her identity slip after marriage and kids. There is a broad audience for this film. KATIE’S MOM is a different kind of coming-of-age story. It is a sexual awakening and a reclamation of power.


For all things DWF LA, click here!

 

DWF: LA is coming! Take a peak at a few of the eclectic selections at this year’s festival.

Dances With Films LA 2023 poster

Some of the best new discoveries of the year come out of Dances With Films. (Their brilliant lineup of shorts is to die for.) It’s a festival you should never sleep on. Here is a preview of a few titles you can catch from June 22nd to July 2nd.

DANCES WITH FILMS (DWF: LA & DWF: NYC), now in its 25th year, champions the unflinching spirit at the very core of the independent film scene. While the vast majority of film fests rely heavily on celebrity, we have relied on the 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 films, and create hit TV shows. Oh…. and we even have several OSCAR® nominees… In a world of homogenized, formulaic film festivals, DWF: LA continues to defy the rules.


THE MAD WRITER– LA Premiere Documentary

The Mad Writer

SYNOPSIS: This music documentary by Zach Kashkett takes us on 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 Los Angeles Premiere.  Zach’s most notable projects include: Shawn Mendes: In Wonder (documentary), Always Jane (TV Series), Sins of The Mother (TV Mini Series).

(70 minutes) 

Monday, June 26, 2023—7 pm-Mann Chinese Theater- Hollywood/Highland

FAREWELLING– World Premiere Narrative

The Farewelling

SYNOPSIS: In the midst of the pandemic and aftermath of her best friend’s overdose, Jenna finds herself in crisis as she reunites with those still around her. Questions of her own ethics and morals surface as she grapples with the “why” of everything, eventually discovering what it takes to truly break us. This is the World Premiere for the film at Dances with Film 26th Annual Film Festival. Writer/DIrector: Rodes Phire 

Lead Actress: Cristen Coppen (Shameless)

(93 minutes) Farewelling Trailer

Saturday, June 24, 2023—9:30 pm- Mann Chinese Theater-Hollywood/Highland

THE BLACK GUELPH– US Premiere (Ireland) Feature

Still from THE BLACK GUELPH

SYNOPSIS: Irish actor turned director John Connors brings the US his latest film. This film was inspired by Dante’s Inferno and the seventh terrace of Lust. The symbolism of unresolved sexualized trauma permeates down through the generations and flows deep within the psyche. The film based on the Irish Traveller’s Group community, creates a cathartic social question in the way that it addresses toxic masculinity in the context of unresolved childhood trauma. The film ultimately throws a lens at the human spirit and the capacity to overcome adversity, when it seems utterly hopeless. (125 minutes) 

 
Friday, June 30, 2023—9:30 pm- Mann Chinese Theater- Hollywood/Highland

ABLED- THE BLAKE LEEPER STORY– LA Premiere Documentary

Still from ABLED- THE BLAKE LEEPER STORY

SYNOPSIS: This Documentary by Director Einar Thorsteinsson documents paralympian Blake Leeper’s story using candid interviews, incisive reporting, and rigorous scientific testing, to reveal the deliberate biases faced by disabled athletes who want to compete against the able-bodied, and the dubious science and deceptive publicity used to bar them from cross competitions. The film just had its World Premiere at Seattle International Film Festival in May and this is their Los Angeles premiere through Dances with Films. 

(87 minutes)

Saturday, July 1, 2023—12:30 pm-Mann Chinese Theater- Hollywood/Highland

MERMAID’S LAMENT–  World Premiere

A still from Mermaid's Lament

The film follows two women: Oee (Dayva Summer Escobar) a traumatized woman who has lost her voice and may or may not be a mermaid. Her therapist, Dr. Nell Jamison (Justina Mattos) battles with anxiety herself, and attempts to help Oee overcome her delusions and connect with reality.

91 min.


SUN JUNE 25 @ 9:30PM

CLICK HERE!!!


 

Tribeca 2023 Unseen Films review: Disney+ documentary ‘STAN LEE’

STAN LEE

This is a Disney+ documentary look at the one and only Stan Lee, largely told in his own words which were recorded during his almost century-long life.
For those who don’t know Stan Lee is the guy who got a job with Timely comics in the late 1930s and ended up staying with the company for decades, eventually rechristening it as Marvel. Along the way, he helped create the Fantastic Four, The X Men, The Hulk, Spiderman, and dozens of other characters.

This is a loving tribute to a man who altered the world with the things he wrote. If you hate the Marvel superhero movies blame Lee for creating the source material. It’s a film that while firmly focused on Lee and the Marvel years (Marvel is owned by Disney after all) clearly gets across how important Lee was to the art form of comics.

While far from complete, his work for anyone other than Marvel is completely ignored, the film does do some things I didn’t expect to see, particularly putting Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko front and center in the creation of many well-known characters. Yes, the film has Lee argue that he created say Spiderman because he came up with the idea, but the film is framed in such a way to make it clear that artists like Kirby and Ditko were as, or if not more important than Lee. It shows that they left Marvel because of Lee’s ego which made him insist he was the guy. I suspect that some people will argue the film doesn’t do enough in this regard and they are probably right, but those battles need a whole film unto themselves, and besides this film’s breezy celebration in Lee’s own words and as such you are not going to find enough material to fight that battle.

Say what you will about comics, this film makes the case that part of the reason comics are what they are today was because of Stan Lee. Lee and Marvel forced the medium to grow up and deal with real people (minorities were represented) and real problems (drugs). Additionally, because Lee was such a good spokesman he ended up altering how people saw comics just by speaking on TV talk shows. While I know many artists hated that Lee was the face of comics, the reality is that he was a good face of the industry and his friendly outgoing nature clicked with the public.

Despite knowing much of this I was moved. For better or worse Stan Lee was a crazy guy you couldn’t help but like.

I truly loved this film.


DIRECTOR
David Gelb
PRODUCER
Jason Sterman, David Gelb, Brian McGinn
CINEMATOGRAPHER
Ernesto Lomeli
COMPOSER
Scott Michael Smith, Michael Dean Parsons
EDITOR
Andrew McAllister, Jamie Garland, James Long
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER
Jeff Redmond, Andy Heyward, Gill Champion, Jamie McBriety, Sarah Regan
CO-PRODUCER
Lauren Goralski, Andrew McAllister
STORY PRODUCER
Emily Van Bergan
PRODUCTION DESIGNER
T. Hunter McCann
ASSISTANT EDITORS
JJ Degen, Emily Fuller
ARCHIVE PRODUCER
Danny Hirsch
CAST
Stan Lee

You can read more of Steve’s vast film coverage at Unseen Films!




Tribeca 2023 short film review: ‘CORVINE’ soars.

CORVINE

An eccentric boy has trouble fitting in at school due to his obsession with crows.

Writer-director Sean McCarron‘s Tribeca animated short CORVINE immediately enchanted me, from the delightful score by Suad Bushnaq to the beautiful animation to the sweet storytelling. The film celebrates imagination and individuality while also creatively tackling bullying. As a parent of a child on the Autism Spectrum who has been bullied throughout his first-grade experience this year, this short film pierced my heart. The story honors passion and finding one’s niche. CORVINE soars in originality and its universal messaging. It is a joy.

 

Corvine Trailer from Sean McCarron on Vimeo.

 

In Person

Sat June 10 – 5:15 PM
RUSH

 

Sun June 11 – 2:15 PM
RUSH

 

Sat June 17 – 12:15 PM
RUSH
 
*Rush Tickets available at venue except for Beacon Theatre

Rush will be offered when advanced tickets for a screening or event are no longer available at venues other than Beacon Theatre. The Rush system functions as a standby line that will form at the venue approximately one hour prior to scheduled start time. Admittance is based on availability and will begin roughly 10 minutes prior to program start time. Rush Tickets are the same price as advance tickets and are payable upon entry.

Tribeca Online

All Online Films >>

Online Pass
Stream June 19 – July 2

After screening at numerous prestigious international film festivals including the Academy-qualifying Cleveland International Film Festival, Calgary International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival and Foyle Film Festival, CORVINE will receive its New York premiere at  Tribeca.  The film was picked from over 8000 entries. 

Sean is an animator and storyboard artist with over twenty years of industry experience. He has worked on numerous television and feature film productions in Europe and North America, including roles at Oscar-nominated Irish studio Cartoon Saloon and Oscar-winning Norwegian studio Mikrofilm. CORVINE is Sean’s first film and was created by his company, McCarron Productions, based in Vancouver, BC.

The beautiful, hand drawn animation is brought to life by Suad Bushnaq’s rich orchestral score. There is no dialogue in the film, but Suad’s music provides a gorgeous interpretation of the main character’s emotional journey. Bushnaq is a multi-award-winning film music composer whose versatile style spans several genres. 

CORVINE premiered at Calgary International Film Festival in September 2022, where it won the Audience Choice Award for Animated Short. It has screened at a number of film festivals around the world since then, including Chicago International Film Festival, Foyle Film Festival, Animation Dingle, Lebu International Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival, and Athens International Film and Video Festival. It was awarded the Children’s Jury Prize for Best Short at the inaugural Jordan Children’s Film Festival, the Professional Jury Prize for Best Short Film at Festival International du Film pour Enfants de Montreal (FIFEM), and the award for Outstanding Animation at Canadian Film Festival.

CORVINE will screen at Tribeca on Saturday June 10th, Sunday June 11th and Saturday June 15th.



Review: Breakout “baguette western” ‘WISTERIA’ making its World Premiere at Brooklyn Film Festival this weekend!

WISTERIA

Synopsis

In this “Baguette Western“ set in Evansville, WY, Jacob, a lonely farmer, sees his life brutally changed after committing the irreparable: the murder of a Native. In a hostile environment where law and order are set by the cold-hearted Marshall Henry, Jacob struggles to redeem himself. Then arrives Wisteria, a Blackfoot wounded woman. A chance for him to finally find peace again.

Wisteria is a revisited drama/romance western. The first ever shot entirely in France.


Shot entirely in the countryside of France, WISTERIA‘s beautiful opening sequences by DP Raphaël Bourdin, combined with Dan Fogelberg‘s theme song, immediately draw you into Samuel J. Attias‘ feature debut. 

The film has a grand overarching nostalgia with its often playful flute and horn-heavy score. There’s poetry to the small moments. It reminds me of classic Disney films from the 50s and 70s in the best ways possible. Jacob’s empathy grows as his grief subsides, and his humanity becomes their saving grace. Pushing past societal norms and grasping at true happiness is as relatable a storyline as they come. Place that in a narrative that honors Native people, and you’ve got something a little extra special.

Jasen Wade is gentle and loving as Jacob. His strong physical presence and thoughtful nature create an intriguing narrative straight away. Jacob’s redemption story begins early on, and experiencing his journey is so satisfying. Violetta Deblieck gives Wisteria a lovely disposition. Her ability to emote without dialogue perfectly matches Wade’s openness. They prove to be a quietly fierce onscreen duo.

I have to mention the sharply choreographed final ten minutes. In under an hour, WISTERIA is a gorgeous and organic love story. It wears its heart on its sleeve with a wholesome nature you can it help but embrace. Samuel J. Attias has a clear vision and an undeniably charming style. It is easy to predict big things on the horizon. 


WISTERIA SCREENING INFORMATION
Saturday, June 10 at 6:00PM
World Premiere
Windmill Studios


Cast: Jasen Wade, Michael Flynn, Violeta Deblieck

Crew: Producer: Laurence Le Rolland. Director/Writter: Samuel Jacob Attias; Direction of Photography: Raphaël Bourdin; Poster Artist: Steven Chorney; Sound mixer: Lucas Rollin; Color Grader: Antoine Ravache; Set Photographer: Ilan Azoulay


DIRECTOR’S NOTE:
Wisteria is a love letter to the Western genre, and my chance to make the first Western film shot entirely in France. Growing up, I was captivated by the movie magic and classic storytelling found in Westerns, and I wanted to capture that same magic on screen.

Through the characters of Jacob and Wisteria, I wanted to explore the universality of love and the power it has to transcend cultural boundaries. Their story serves as a celebration of love in all its forms. I also wanted to pay tribute to the Golden Age of cinema, and to the power of visual storytelling. By using silence and striking camera movements. I aimed to create a film that speaks to audiences without leaning on extensive dialogue. Wisteria is a film made with passion and I hope it inspires audiences to revel in the power of love and the magic of old-school cinema.