DOCNYC review: ‘What Haunts Us’ is unfortunately a timely film.

Why are the men of Charleston, South Carolina’s Porter Gaud School killing themselves? Alarmed by the latest in a long-running series of suicides from her high school in 1979, filmmaker Paige Goldberg Tolmach returns to her hometown for answers. Stonewalled by administrators, she mines her own memories, and those of her former classmates, to uncover long-held secrets, revealing a disturbing cover-up centered around a popular teacher and sports coach.

With years of sexual assault/abuse allegations surrounding the current political administration and entertainment industry, let us not forget that this problem is pervasive anywhere and everywhere. The coverups go deep and pride and reputation often cause the guilty to go free. Shame is a killer of dreams and, as we see in What Haunts Us, it is also a killer of people. Unravelling the mystery that surrounds not even a well-kept secret in this particular story will anger and shock you. Along with intimate sit-down interviews with our subjects, both innocent and guilty, memories are illustrated in beautifully vibrant colors. What Haunts Us is a stunning film that will hopefully open eyes to the ongoing abuse so many face on a daily basis. We have to change our rhetoric and realize the consequences of staying silent.

at DOC NYC Film Festival
 Nov 13, 2017
7:30 PM with Q/A following with
Paige Goldberg Tolmach, Matt Tolmach and
Special Guests from the Film

323 6th Ave. New York, New York 10014

Review: Nichols and Walker’s ‘Welcome to Leith’ Is an Incredibly Stunning and Rattling Film Capturing the Scariness of White Supremacists in All Their Ignorant and Gross Glory

welcome to leith - posterThe reason I like documentaries so much is that you can’t shy away from what is depicted on the screen, you can’t suspend your disbelief because it is happening or has really happened. Some docs are whimsical and can delight you with the beauties of life. Others, the exact opposite. Welcome to Leith happens to fall in the latter crowd, although don’t let that take away from how good this film is.

welcome to leith - filmmakers

Directors Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher Walker are unbelievably able to situate themselves right in the middle of a shitstorm…in the middle of Nowhere, North Dakota (really, Leith). When Craig Cobb comes to town, he goes about unnoticed, busy snapping up pieces of property in the small town. To what end you might ask? Well, Cobb just so happens to be one of the foremost white supremacists in the country and he is doing his best to buy enough property to settle his racists buddies in town so that they can take over Leith politically by using their votes to oust the City Council and sitting Mayor Ryan Schock. And why would they do that, you ask again? So that they can set up what I later learned is called a PLE, or Pioneer Little Europe, or really just a town that is all white and non-Jew, non-Christian where they are free to propagate their ridiculous and, frankly, dangerous views.

welcome to leith swatteam

Nichols and Walker do such a wonderful of balancing the perspective of the concerned local townsfolk who don’t want anything to do with Cobb and his fellow bigots being in Leith with the viewpoint of Cobb and his cronies, sickening as it is. The directors are able to capture the growing concern for the citizens of Leith for their own safety as Cobb himself falls into more and more of an uncontrolled, hate-filled spiral. The interplay between the rights of the citizens of Leith and the rights of the racists to exist in town is fascinating to watch play out amid all of the legal wranglings by both sides to allow their ways of life to continue.

welcome to leith - armedpatrol

What the directors do best here is really letting Cobb and the other white supremacists featured hang themselves with their own words and actions. It is hard not to squirm each time Cobb and his cohort comes on screen spouting their hateful rhetoric. And perhaps the best thing is, they willingly contributed to this. The directors were able to use footage shot by the racists and weave it into the film, so in essence they co-directed portions of the film. The score that composers Brendan Canty and Tim Hecker created added a nice layer to the film. This film is quite scary (if you ask me) and the score really helps reiterate that, allowing the directors to not have to show tons more heavy handed interviews with Cobb and his little posse. I will say that the final shot of Cobb in this film is one of the most satisfying of any documentary I’ve ever seen and incredibly indicative of the how most Americans feel about racists and their fucked up agendas.

welcome to leith burningswastika

This is an endlessly enthralling, enraging and interesting film that really encapsulates the complexity of interpreting the First Amendment. Walker and Nichols have woven together a really important film that gives relatively equal balance to both arguments, something that I can’t imagine was an easy thing to do. The film is chock full of poignant moments (none as good as the reveal of Cobb‘s DNA profile) that show the extremes that both sides will go to protect their rights. While the subject matter is hard to digest in parts (because of the nature of it, not the lack of quality in how it is shown), the filmmakers do a dynamic job in getting the points of both parties across and that is why this film is so successful. I would firmly put this documentary beside K. Ryan JonesFall from Grace about the Westboro Baptist Church as a film that is able to take a subject that is really vomit-inducing about some really disgusting people and allow said disgusting people to do all the dirty work themselves. And as gross as I think Cobb and his lot are, it makes for fascinating cinema to watch them try to work the system and ultimately fail.

This film make its US theatrical debut tonight at the IFC Center in New York City. Directors Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher Walker will be present at the 7:45 screening tonight and tomorrow. The film is being distributed by First Run Features.

Get there, people!

Here’s the trailer:

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


From his dapper appearance and his suave sensibilities, you’d never guess that Mark Reay is homeless in NYC. Using a YMCA locker room as his bathroom and personal storage system, Mark is able to blend seamlessly into the upper echelon of New York’s fashion and film business. As a former model, he hustles the streets of Manhattan as a photographer and smooth talker. Genuinely talented and extremely good looking, Mark’s adaptability to his circumstances is astounding and certainly commendable. He lives in secret on a friend’s rooftop, enduring the changing weather and fearing, each night, that he may be found out and forced to find somewhere else to survive the nights. He lives off his extraordinary photography skills, acting residuals, and his uncanny ability to cold approach beautiful women, for both personal and professional rewards.



HOMME LESS follows Mark’s ventures as he narrowly eludes the total collapse of the very existence he has built for himself. His emotional highs and lows drive the heart of this doc. As New Yorkers, we most definitely have a built up image of what it  means to look homeless. It’s the man in the subway station that wreaks of urine, is dirty, and oftentimes muttering to himself, or yelling incoherently on a street corner. Mark is the penultimate opposite of these images. Clean cut, eloquent, genuine, resourceful. You route for him at each turn as we tag along on his day to day routine, using every networking trick known to man. I would hang out with Mark in a heartbeat. He is optimistic, as much as any one man can be facing his current situation. I admire the hell out of him.


Director, Thomas Wirthensohn, has been friends with Mark for 20 years, since their modeling days back in Europe. When the two reconnected over drinks, Thomas had no idea that Mark was homeless. The two decided to take a new journey together in making this fascinating documentary. Wirthensohn is very careful to stay at arm’s length, which must have been extra difficult already being so emotionally invested in his subject. One of the toughest things you hear from documentary filmmakers is the challenge they face in trying to stay objective. There are quite a few moments in the film that directly address this issue and I commend Wirthensohn for his efforts.


HOMME LESS is a beautifully shot portrait of one man’s journey to not only survive, but thrive, in this big city. As someone who has lived here on and off since college, I can only imagine having to do what Mark does on the daily. Living paycheck to paycheck takes on a whole new meaning in this film. I highly recommend you catch this documentary this weekend. It will rattle around in your brain and, if you happen to live in NYC, make you wonder if you’ll run into Mark any day soon. It would be my pleasure to buy him dinner and a drink… and then book him for new headshots.

HOMME LESS Trailer from Thomas Wirthensohn on Vimeo.

Synopsis: HOMME LESS is about the underbelly of the American Dream, the hidden backyard of our society. Mark’s life stands as a metaphor for the struggle of the vanishing middle class in America. But it’s also a film about the relationship between New York City and one of its residents. New York is not simply a beautiful backdrop for this story. She’s the antagonist that dictates the direction Mark’s life is going in. The joy and pain, the love and hate, the success and denial New York is teasing him with, the hardship he is going through in order to stay in her grace and the inventiveness he comes up with to be with her are all unique.

HOMME LESS captures a raw and unfiltered moment in time, our time, and raises the question of how far are we from losing everything, even our homes? How often do we have to pretend that everything is fine in order to keep up the facade of being a well-off member of society? And how far do we go to take the financial pressure off our shoulders to live a more carefree life, a life we aspire to live?

What went wrong in Mark’s life? How is he able to keep up his facade of success and fool everyone?  What keeps him from going under? What motivates him to put up with this rather unthinkable situation?  What were and are his hopes and desires in life?

Mark stands lost and alone in the midst of eight million dreams, balanced between the glamorous surfaces of this vibrant and inspiring city and its far from glamorous hidden backyard. He is the HOMME LESS

Opening at the IFC Center on August 7th

Melissa’s Review: Quentin Dupieux’s latest film is entertainingly far from ‘Reality’

Jon Heder

Jon Heder

You see Jon Heder‘s face above? That’s the one you’ll be making during the entire film. However, if you’re a fan of Dupieux’s previous work (Rubber, Wrong, Wrong Cops), you’ll really enjoy the trippy and dream-within-a-dream wormhole that is Reality.

Eric Wareheim

Eric Wareheim

It’s very safe to say that this movie is not for everyone, as it’s completely absurd and really makes no sense whatsoever. What separates it is the fantastic cinematography and the brilliant score of which Dupieux does himself. It’s no wonder it all works together so well.

Alain Chabat

Alain Chabat

My first introduction to Dupieux was Rubber (currently on Netflix) about a tire (yes, a tire), that’s a serial killer. Obviously ridiculous but completely imaginative and surprising, I was smitten. Reality has the same sort of imaginative writing but this time the story is a man who is pitching a movie and must get the perfect “groan” in order to land the funding. I used story very loosely, as there are many other things happening simultaneously.

Jon Heder

Jon Heder

The score is essential to the movie. At times unnerving, that’s exactly what its meant to be. It complements the story without overshadowing it all. The movie would not be the same without it and it’s not something you’d want to listen to on its own either. Quite extraordinary.

Much like when you’re in a dream, it seems like it’s making sense, then suddenly you wake up and it’s completely incoherent. Only in Reality, you don’t wake up.

Opens today, May 1st exclusively at the IFC Center in NYC and will be available on demand and via digital platforms.


IFC Center Announces QUEER/ART/FILM’S Second Annual Special Summer Season, “BLACK SUMMER NIGHTS”

QAF SUMMER 2015 POSTCARD FRONTEach film in the series arrives at the theme of queer blackness in cinema from a different nexus of history, performance, originality, oppression, victory, adversity and fabulousness. Actor Colman Domingo’s choice is Mahogany (1975 – dir. Berry Gordy), starring Diana Ross as a working class woman from pre-gentrified Chicago who rises to become a top model and fashion designer in Rome. Mr. Domingo writes of Miss Ross’ presence in the film, “with a heavy dose of Fashion Fair makeup, Halston-esque gowns, wigs and lashes, she became the fairy godmother for all little black gay boys to seek the diamonds and rubies in their dreams.”

James Baldwin - The Price of the Ticket by Karen Thorsen 1989)

James Baldwin – The Price of the Ticket by Karen Thorsen 1989)

Writer Jacqueline Woodson’s selection is the classic award-winning documentary James Baldwin: The Price of the Ticket (1989 – dir. Karen Thorsen), produced in association with the late, great Albert Maysles. The story of the life, works and beliefs of the legendary writer, playwright and Civil Rights leader James Baldwin is told using rarely seen archival footage blended with intimate interviews and rousing public speeches including his extraordinary New York funeral service held in 1987. Among Baldwin’s close friends – and critics – interviewed in the film are Maya Angelou, William Styron and Amiri Baraka. August 2015 will be Baldwin’s 90th birthday, so it is with great pride we present a film that Woodson says “shows us Baldwin’s brilliance and thoughtfulness, his before his time-ness,” and “allows us to meet the man who changed so many lives.”

Ice Cube and Chris Tucker in Friday (1995)

Ice Cube and Chris Tucker in Friday (1995)

Poet Angel Nafis will present Friday (1995 – dir. F. Gary Gray), the hilarious Ice Cube-Chris Tucker comedy that celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. For Nafis, it was the presence of actress Nia Long that most impacted her. She writes, “Praise be to Nia Long! So impossibly fine. Cocoa brown skin, dark cranberry lip, short cropped haircut, fine even in a sweat suit. She was amazing, and very much so what I had never before seen on TV or any magazines anywhere… In movies [black girls] are always bitchy, always broke, always loud, always monstrous, lowdown, spread thin. But Nia’s character got to be sweet, beautiful in her simplicity and familiarity….It was the first time I ever saw a movie and saw someone I could be proud to want to be. And my first time seeing a black woman on TV and not just wanting to emulate her, but almost itchy with the desire to put her face near my face.”

Looking for Langston by Isaac Julien (1989)

Looking for Langston by Isaac Julien (1989)

M. Lamar has selected Isaac Julien’s classic, Teddy Award-winning film Looking for Langston, which broke new ground and launched Julien’s celebrated career. For M. Lamar, the power of this film, along with Julien’s short The Attendant, comes from seeing “black men, black beauty and black homosexuality on screen as it has never been seen before or since.” He continues, “in the wake of Ferguson I would love for us to look at this film and think about how black men are seen in our culture and how this film disrupts that white supremacist view.”

Screenings will take place at the IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue at West 3rd St. Adult tickets are $14. Membership packages are available starting at $50.

Monday, May 11th, 8:00pm

LOOKING FOR LANGSTON and other short films by Isaac Julien

Dr. Isaac Julien, UK, 1989

We are thrilled to kick off BLACK SUMMER NIGHTS with this Teddy Award-winning film, which became a cult hit thanks to director Isaac Julien’s sensual and dreamlike portrait of the gay poet Langston Hughes and his affairs during the Harlem Renaissance. For musician and performance artist M. Lamar, whose work regularly explores black history and sexuality, the power of this and other Julien films is seeing, “black men, black beauty and black homosexuality on screen as it has never been seen before or since.” He continues; “in the wake of Ferguson I would love for us to look at this film and think about how black men are seen in our culture and how this film disrupts that white supremacist view.”

Monday, June 8th, 8:00pm


Dir. Berry Gordy, USA, 1975, 109 min

“The men love me, the women love me…Me. Mahogany.”

Black Summer Nights is thrilled to kick off Gay Pride Month with this one-of-a-kind melodrama turned camp classic starring Diana Ross as a working class woman whose meteoric rise from shop-girl to high fashion model to haute couture designer is challenged by her relationships with a dashing politician (Billy Dee Williams) and a malevolent gay photographer (Anthony Perkins). For Tony award-winning actor, singer and playwright Colman Domingo (Selma, Passing Strange), seeing Mahogany at an early age was deeply inspiring. He writes, “With a heavy dose of Fashion Fair makeup, Halston-esque gowns, wigs and lashes, Mahogany became the fairy god mother for all little black gay boys to seek the diamonds and rubies in their dreams.” Prepare to be dazzled by this fabulously fun and yet deeply emotional film!


Monday, July 20th, 8:00pm


Dir. Karen Thorsen, USA, 1989, 87 min

In February, QAF audiences packed the IFC for A Litany for Survival, the documentary about the poet Audre Lorde. This month, we’re thrilled to present another classic film about a landmark black literary figure. The Price of the Ticket brilliantly weaves rarely-seen archival footage from over 100 sources with intimate interviews and eloquent public speeches to form an astounding portrait of the legendary writer and Civil Rights leader James Baldwin. For award-winning Young Adult author Jacqueline Woodson, who dreamed of meeting Baldwin, the film “shows us his brilliance and thoughtfulness, his before-his-time-ness,” and “allows us to meet the man who changed so many lives.” As August marks James Baldwin’s 90th birthday, we are proud to present this valuable and vibrant documentary masterwork in celebration of one of New York’s most significant sons.


Monday, August 17th, 8:00pm


Dir. F. Gary Gray, USA, 1995, 91 min

“Bye, Felicia!”

Friday was hailed as an instant classic the moment it hit theaters in 1995, thanks to a breakout performance by Chris Tucker and its loving send-up of familiar black neighborhood figures. For tonight’s guest, poet Angel Nafis, whose work has been compared to Ntozake Shange and June Jordan, seeing the world around her reflected on screen was a powerful experience, but even more important was the presence of “impossibly fine” actress Nia Long, as a “black girl next door” who wasn’t a stereotype. Nafis found a rare onscreen role model, and felt, “almost itchy with the desire to put her face near my face.” Join us for this special 20th anniversary screening.



PAMELA SNEED is a New York based poet and actress. She has been featured in the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Time Out, Bomb, VIBE, and on the cover of New York Magazine. She is author of Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery, published by Henry Holt (1998), KONG & Other Works, published by Vintage Entity Press (2009) and a chapbook Lincoln (2014). She has performed original works for sold out houses at Lincoln Center, P.S. 122, Ex-Teresa in Mexico City, The ICA London, The CCA in Glasgow Scotland, The Green Room in Manchester England, BAM cafe, Central Park Summer Stage and recently Columbia University’s Tribute to James Baldwin, The Whitney Museum and BRIC.

STEPHEN WINTER is an award winning film director, screenwriter, consultant and producer. His films include Chocolate Babies (1996), Young Men Big Dreams: Inside The World of the Steve Harvey Mentoring Camp for NBC/Universal, and his new film Jason and Shirley will premiere in 2015. Some of the films he has worked on are Precious (2008), Paperboy (2010), Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2012), Jonathan Caouette’s Tarnation (2004), John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus (2006), Xan Cassavetes’ Kiss of the Damned (2010), John Krokidas’ Kill Your Darlings (2013) and David France’s Oscar nominated documentary How to Survive a Plague (2012). His short play Be Still, about his sainted mother Aureen returning to Jamaica, was included in 24 by 24: The Best of the 24 Hour Plays Anthology.

DOC NYC: November 13-20 – ‘Citizen FOUR’ – ‘Banksy Does New York’ – ‘Do I Sound Gay?’ – ‘Finding Vivian Maier’ – Newly Restored ‘Hoop Dreams’

Tickets for all screenings are on sale now. Advance tickets for all DOC NYC films and events are available online at or in-person at the IFC Center box office, 323 Sixth Ave. (at West 3rd St.). Day-of tickets are available at the respective screening venues.
Ticket prices: Opening night screening of Do I Sound Gay? – $30. Closing Night screening of The Yes Men Are Revolting – $25. Regular screenings – $17 adults, $15 seniors/children, $14 IFC Center members. Doc-A-Thon Panels and Masterclasses – $12 adults, $10 seniors, $9 IFC Center members and students. Read More →