Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Johnny Boston, Kaila Reed, Jason Hefter, Flora Schnall
SYNOPSIS: 2030 is a film that defies easy categorization. FM 2030 (yes, this is his legal name) was an author, futurist and self-described transhuman who died in 2000. Or did he? His body was cryogenically frozen and stored in a facility in Arizona. This is his story. Or rather, it is the story of documentary filmmaker Johnny Boston’s attempt to make a film about 2030. Is it science or science fiction? Facts or fantasies? Plots or paranoia? While the film seems to relish its conundrum–within–a-riddle–wrapped–in–enigma posturing, 2030 makes for fun watching and provokes thinking on a mind-warping, deeply philosophical level. —Jeff Morris
A Murder in Mansfield
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Barbara Kopple
SYNOPSIS: The search for truth and resolution is at the core of this riveting documentary about the gruesome murder of Noreen Boyle by her philandering and abusive physician husband and the impact on their then 12-year-old son Collier and barely three-year-old Elizabeth. The doctor's motive? To start a new life with his pregnant girlfriend. The celebrated trial played to a packed courtroom and clips from Collier's testimony, seated facing his father recounting the harrowing event with amazing composure, are heart wrenching. Now, returning home as an adult, Collier is obsessed with ferreting out the truth from his imprisoned father who, despite overwhelming evidence, continues to proclaim his innocence. Is it possible to forgive — let alone love — such a despicable person? “All I ever wanted was a father who loved me,” confesses Collier. In the hands of master documentarian Barbara Kopple, this superbly constructed film becomes a meditation on the quest for healing and forgiveness. —Barbara Pokras, ACE
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Rèmi Kessler, Caroline Schweich
SYNOPSIS: The Advocates is a sweeping look at the history and causes of the current homeless crisis in Los Angeles, a distressing situation throughout the U.S. But rather than focusing solely on the homeless population, this story highlights the community of advocates who work tirelessly to create a better existence for their clients. Bringing us deep into the lives of some of the individuals they are fighting for, and with great compassion, the film goes behind debates and headlines with pragmatic, hopeful stories of real-life transformation from the trenches. Rudy Salinas, the Director of Outreach for Housing Works in Los Angeles asks, ‘Where is the crossroads? Where do we change direction?’ It is time for everyone to look for answers and find solutions toward a more just and humane society. —Jessica Peeters
Carmine Street Guitars
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Ron Mann
SYNOPSIS: Anyone who's been part of the NY music scene knows — and has likely been to — Carmine Street Guitars, where such notables as Bob Dylan, Lou Reed and Patti Smith, to name just a few, have coveted Rick Kelly's custom-made guitars. With real-time footage, director Ron Mann captures the everyday activities of Rick and his young apprentice Cindy Hulej as they meticulously build one-of-a-kind, handcrafted guitars out of salvaged wood from historic New York buildings. Nothing looks or sounds quite like a Rick Kelly guitar, and throughout the course of five days in the life of the shop, the likes of Jim Jarmusch, the Sadies, and Nels Cline of Wilco come in and out of the shop, pick up a guitar, play, and recount their personal guitar anecdotes, weaving a tapestry that is intimate and illuminating. Watching Carmine Street Guitars is like getting a private tour into the musical lives of some of the most talented artists of today. —Ben F. Fischer
Dreaming of a Vetter World
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Bonnie Hawthorne, Steve Buscemi, Jo Andres
SYNOPSIS: Journey to the American heartland in Bonnie Hawthorne’s intimate documentary about a visionary Nebraska farm family who understood that modern agriculture was ailing, and found a cure. From farmer’s son to soil scientist to missionary and back to farmer, organic pioneer David Vetter has dedicated his life to a “ministry to the soil.” With camera and camper in tow, Hawthorne leaves her urban comforts in the rearview mirror to learn from the Vetters about what's really going on in the Corn Belt. As interest in regenerating soil explodes worldwide, Hawthorne discovers that David Vetter is way ahead of the game. With both historical context and an eye to the future, Dreaming of a Vetter World shows it's possible to jump off conventional agriculture’s pesticide treadmill. It’s also a story about love, hope and place; an inspiring example of perseverance and doing what you know is right — against all odds.
The Feeling of Being Watched
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Rabab Haj Yahya
SYNOPSIS: What is it like to live under constant surveillance? Just ask Assia Boundaoui, a Muslim and an investigative journalist who grew up in Bridgeview, IL, a tight-knit community with a large Muslim population where the FBI seems to have taken up residence as early as 1990. Using the code name “Vulgar Betrayal,” a special agent launched an investigation into charitable funds he believed were being siphoned to terrorist organizations. Under the umbrella of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Assia is determined to find the truth. Met with rejection at nearly every step, “...the thin letters are never good news,” Assia remarks as she opens the letters denying her requests. Undeterred, she continues to dig deeper, ultimately finding more than 33,000 heavily redacted surveillance documents. A true- life detective story, The Feeling of Being Watched utilizes flash frames and snappy editing to meticulously reveal racial profiling at its most extreme. Gripping and compelling filmmaking. —Barbara Pokras, ACE
For the Birds
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Richard Miron, Jeffrey Star
SYNOPSIS: What will one woman risk in order to keep the 200 ducks, chickens, geese, and turkeys she's raised and come to love? This Hudson Valley-based documentary follows Kathy Murphy's struggles with family and community as she juggles what many would consider to be too many birds. Kathy's undying devotion to her animals has left her home in disarray and her marriage in jeopardy. The situation turns dire when a legal battle ensues between Kathy and the local animal advocacy organization (Woodstock Farm Sanctuary) over alleged neglect of her beloved birds. For the Birds explores the lasting changes forced onto its endlessly fascinating subjects. On one level, we have a story that is sure to provoke discussion among anyone interested in animal rights and the growing national debate over the mistreatment of animals. On a deeper level, this is a story about love and its power to give rise to heart-wrenching dilemmas. —Max Wexler
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Jon Bowermaster, Julia Ormond
SYNOPSIS: Ghost Fleet tells a striking story of survival and redemption in the global seafood industry. The film follows a small group of activists who risk their lives to find justice and freedom for the enslaved fishermen who feed the world’s insatiable appetite for seafood. Facing illness, death threats, corruption, and complacency, Thai abolitionist Patima Tungpuchayakul and her team embark on a hauntingly beautiful quest through remote Indonesian island jungles where enslaved men eke out survival and yearn to return home. Patima is fearlessly committed to justice and to bringing back these “lost” men. She rouses her nation and the world to the plight of these captives who go months, sometimes years, without setting foot on land, earning little to no pay to provide pet food, sushi and shrimp cocktail for unsuspecting consumers.
Give Us This Day
East St Louis is a post industrial city across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, MO, with deep racial divides and the highest homicide rate per capita in the U.S. Give Us This Day is an unflinching look into the lives of three members of the local police and three city residents as each attempts to both survive and improve their own lives, as well as that of their city. Shot over the course of one year, the cinema verite approach exposes a city with too many guns, too little education, excessive poverty, and a long history of racial tension. With no agenda to find easy explanations for complex problems, the film unsparingly documents the day-to-day realities of life in a broken urban system and attempts to cast some rays of hope and understanding on one of the biggest and seemingly least solvable problems in modern day America. —Jeff Morris
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: RaMell Ross, Roger Ross Williams
SYNOPSIS: In Hale County This Morning, This Evening, director and artist RaMell Ross gives us an intimate insight into a town in the Alabama Black Belt, over a five year period. This film brings audiences inside a Southern Black community with profound depth and intimacy, achieved through a familiarity that only a black filmmaker can bring to this story. He asks the question 'how do you not frame someone?'. Instead we experience the people and the community with all the layers and complexity of real life.
RaMell, the artist, tells these stories through a combination of fragmented scenes and compelling photography, creating a poetically structured narrative. Hale County This Morning, This Evening is a work of art as much as it is a document of this community. It belongs in a gallery as much as a theatre. It touches us as deeply as any film could and to watch this film is to witness a new form of documentary storytelling. —Roger Ross Williams
In Our Bones
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Alex Kimura, Taylor Shorten
SYNOPSIS: In Our Bones is the inspiring tale of Sam Kimura, a young woman with a terminal bone marrow disease who sets off on a road trip around America with her sister, Alex, and best friend, Taylor Shorten, in search of a donor match. Infused with humor and charm, her crusade for herself and for other patients needing transplants forces her to confront her mortality, uncover family secrets and get out of the passenger seat of her own life. Crowded together in the their vamped-up SUV for 24,000 miles, and hosting hundreds of bone marrow drives as they pursue their mission to turn adversity into a meaningful adventure, the girls experience moments of sheer beauty and wonder, generosity, compassion, exhilaration, depression, desperation, and overwhelming exhaustion. The strains on friendship and siblinghood bringing them to the edge and back again, their story is a testament to loyalty, trust, love, and commitment to something greater than themselves. —Monique Ray
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Andrés Caballero
SYNOPSIS: To sign on as an interpreter for the U.S. army in the wake of war in the Middle East is risky business. But the promise of escaping to freedom is a powerful incentive for the three interpreters whose personal stories unfold in this illuminating, provocative, often frustrating, as well as heartwarming film, as they try to rebuild their lives: A chain-smoking Iraqi code-named Phillip Morris, finally coming to the U.S. with the help of an American soldier colleague; Malik, an Afghani, still working as an interpreter at the US base in Kabul, despite threats to his life; and Mujtaba, who fled with his family to Turkey hoping for passage to a better life in Europe. Theirs are the stories that often go unheard, and in a world where it is easy to feel disconnected from war and the human condition, these men remind us what freedom is supposed to look like, and what so many are still deprived of. —Dainara Delija
Karl Berger - Music Mind
A 45 minute performance will follow the screening featuring Karl Berger, Ingrid Sertso and Steven Bernstein, Billy Martin, Peter Apfelbaum, Ken Filiano, and special guests.
Legendary jazz improvisational pioneer and longtime Woodstock resident Karl Berger is celebrated with intimacy and grandeur in Karl Berger - Music Mind. The film traces his journey from Heidelberg to Paris to New York to Woodstock, culminating with his celebrated anniversary concert at this year's Theaterhaus Jazz Festival in Stuttgart. Berger, who founded the Creative Music Studio (CMS) with jazz innovator Ornette Coleman and singer/wife Ingrid Sertso, first encountered jazz by playing with U.S. soldiers who were stationed in postwar Germany. He went on to collaborate with the likes of Don Cherry, Carla Bley, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Pat Metheny, Anthony Braxton, and established the CMS in Woodstock as one of the premier places for free improvisation and world music. In a film rich with interviews, music and archival footage, Music Mind provides an inside look into the creative process and unique approach toward music that makes Karl Berger...Karl Berger. —Avery Davenport
Lessons from a School Shooting: Notes from Dunblane
Issues In The News: Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion featuring the filmmakers, as well as additional panelists from Newtown, and more to be announced. Never before seen film clips of the filmmakers’ upcoming documentary about the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, will be shown during the panel.
In the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that took the lives of 20 first graders and their teachers, local clergymen Father Bob Weiss receives a letter from a fellow priest in Dunblane, Scotland, whose community suffered an eerily similar fate in 1996. From across the Atlantic, the two priests forge a poignant bond through the shared experience of trauma and healing.
Following the screening, there will be a panel discussion featuring the filmmakers, as well as additional panelists from Newtown and more to be announced. Never before seen film clips of the filmmakers' upcoming documentary about the mass shooting in Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, will be shown during the panel.
Michelin Stars - Tales From the Kitchen
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Rasmus Dinesen, Jesper Jarl Becker, Chef Ric Orlando
SYNOPSIS: Just as filmmakers influence how we experience our world, great chefs influence how we grow, eat and think about food. This beautifully filmed documentary explores the mind and motivation of those who attempt to “create a journey and allow us to step away from our everyday lives through a gustatory experience.” Taking us into the most beautiful restaurants, serving the most exquisite cuisines, director Rasmus Dinesen serves up an in-depth and honest look into the world of Michelin chefs, as well as digging into the greatness and flaws of the Michelin Guide, founded over 115 years ago as a road guide for travel enthusiasts to find the best dining and lodging, and now the barometer for the most passionate of the culinary craft. Michelin Stars illuminates the motivation, elation and agony of those who spend their lives searching, evolving and replicating their emotions on a plate to maintain their stars and their devotees. —Chef/Activist Ric Orlando
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Melissa Haizlip, Roger Ross Williams
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Soul! tells the story of Ellis Haizlip and his ground-breaking variety show, SOUL!, that showcased the black experience in America during the late 60s and early 70s. It was a show by black people, for black people and hosted the likes of Sidney Poitier, Stevie Wonder and Maya Angelou. Haizlip, a proud gay man, boldly created a platform for black music, poetry and ideas in a racially divisive era. Directors Samuel Pollard and Malissa Haizlip (Ellis's niece) take us on the five year journey of the SOUL! series and dive into the life of its creator. I chose this film because Ellis Haizlip, who passed away in 1991, deserves recognition and admiration for his daring and profound vision. Ellis's mission was, in his own words, ‘to sensitize and involve the total community in the lifestyle and rhythm’ of black Americans. His life and career have inspired me on many levels and continues to influence my work today. —Roger Ross Williams
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Cynthia Lowen, Carrie Goldberg
SYNOPSIS: Imagine having your identity stolen. Bad enough, but now imagine a perpetrator launching a relentless internet attack including death threats, ‘revenge porn,’ stalking, and impersonation. Where do you turn for help? Enter hard-hitting, spike-heeled Carrie Goldberg, herself a victim of online harassment, who decides to become the lawyer she needed when her own demands for justice were ignored. We also meet Tina Reine, a successful businesswoman whose career was derailed when her harasser began his vicious online assault, and Anita Sarkeesian, a media critic who is the target of a coordinated online mob‘s violent threats. How to survive such indignities? Says Goldberg, ‘Think of yourself as a ship...Just stay upright and the storm will pass.’ Compelling filmmaking, beautifully constructed, compassionate, and enormously empowering, Netizens reminds us that cyber-stalking is far more than an unpleasant annoyance. It destroys reputations and careers and admonishes us to be vigilant. Silence will not protect us. —Barbara Pokras, ACE
SYNOPSIS: Young kids growing up in urban poverty must grapple with circumstances that have seemingly nothing — yet everything — to do with getting into college: homelessness, poverty, homophobia, food scarcity. To make matters worse, most public schools don't have enough counseling support to help students navigate the increasingly complicated application process. That's why three ambitious and enlightened student activists decided to become the very resource they didn't have for themselves. Determined not to become statistics in an unjust system, high schoolers Karoline, Enoch and Christine are working as college counselors even as they are applying to college themselves. They are fighting for a better future for themselves and their peers. In a film populated by feisty, hard-hitting students and nurturing mentors, Personal Statement is an inspiring chronicle of dedication, promise, challenges, and also disappointment. But perhaps the real story is in the big hearts that everyone exhibits, and it’s stories like this that make the future of America look much brighter. —Dainara Delija
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Leilah Weinraub, Roger Ross Williams
SYNOPSIS: It is rare that we get to see stories about queer people of color. Shakedown focuses on a world most people never normally get to see: a black lesbian strip club in Los Angeles during the early 2000s that helped to define club and gay culture today. The story is told in a bold, iconic style — using images from promotional flyers and hyperactive soundscapes mixed with captivating footage of the dancers in action. What kept me most glued to the screen was the intensely personal interviews that allow us to peek into the lives of these women — and share some truly intimate moments with them. The creative approach used to tell this story is perfectly executed, and the film does not hold back from highlighting social injustice and discrimination against marginalized groups of society. —Roger Ross Williams
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Ben Powell, Harry Lee, Jonathan, Abdisamad, Roda Mohamed
SYNOPSIS: In a country emerging from the ashes of civil war, Abaarso School of Science and Technology offers Somali youth a stake in a better socioeconomic future by preparing them to attend college in the United States. Filmed with keen sensitivity by first-time directors Ben Powell and Harry Lee, Somaliland follows five hard-working, determined Abaarso students as they deal with the steep challenges ahead: learning English, navigating financial aid, enduring the heartbreak of rejection, and adjusting to an alien environment, all while grappling with young adulthood. Seeking to be the first from their impoverished nation to go to school in America, the financial stakes are high and the social pressures enormous, but luckily they're not alone. Staffed by a spirited team of American teachers, including co-director Lee, the Abaarso faculty offer practical guidance and emotional support, shaping them into independent thinkers with the intellectual ability and grit to make their dreams a reality. —Avery Davenport
SYNOPSIS: The screening will be followed by a short performance featuring Michael Franti
During these turbulent times, the feeling of hopelessness is everywhere. Seeking a path to stay human and hold on to humanity, Michael Franti takes us on an experiential journey through his songs and stories of people who have overcome cynicism with optimism and hope. Franti shares the tales of Robin Lim, a midwife who opened a birthing clinic following a devastating typhoon in the Philippines, Steve and Hope Dezember, a young couple whose love carries them through Steve's battle with ALS, Arief Rabik, an environmentalist making industrial and household products with bamboo to curb deforestation in Bali, and Sive Mazinyo and Busisiwwe Vazi, inspiring their community of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, through music and education. Franti reflects on his personal journey facing adversity as a child, struggling to find his voice as a musician, and how he found inspiration through these stories. He hopes to inspire people to become changemakers by utilizing creativity, tenacity and heart to face our daily challenges as individuals, and together as citizens of our planet to Stay Human.
Suicide: The Ripple Effect
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Kevin Hines and Greg Dicharry
SYNOPSIS: At age 19, Kevin Hines decided to take his life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. But on the way down, he suddenly realized what he had done and made a desperate prayer to live, vowing to put his life to good use if he was spared. Suicide: The Ripple Effect,, which he co-directed with Greg Dicharry, follows Hines' mission to make people aware of the devastating effects of suicide and the huge, positive ‘ripple effect’ of the work he and his loyal vanguard of mental health professionals, survivors and advocates are engaged in as they travel the country, reminding people that hope is out there, even if they can't yet see it. The film compassionately shares the stories of individuals and families who are using their personal tragedies to offer inspiration and healing, as part of a global undertaking to help curtail suicides and raise greater awareness about mental illness around the world. —Avery Davenport
Up to Snuff
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Mark Maxey, W.G. Snuffy Walden
SYNOPSIS: W.G. 'Snuffy' Walden may be one of the most influential (but least known) contributors to the soundtrack of your life. If you watched thirtysomething, The Wonder Years, Friday Night Lights, or The West Wing, the guitarist Snuffy Walden possibly had more impact on you than Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix. Snuffy started out like many talented musicians in the '60s and '70s, embracing the Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll lifestyle, while trying to make it in a rock band. Unlike his music peers, Snuffy quietly transitioned into one of the most successful, well liked and impactful television composers of our time. Up To Snuff is the story of that metamorphosis, recounted by the likes of Aaron Sorkin, Timothy Busfield, Martin Sheen, Tom Arnold, Eric Burden (of the Animals), and many others. As Snuffy himself says, 'I didn't choose a life in music, music chose me.' Learn how this massively influential, near unknown survived the '60s and '70s to help define the '90s and '00s. —Jeff Morris
What is Democracy?
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Astra Taylor
SYNOPSIS: "Everywhere you look democracy is in trouble," observes director Astra Taylor as she travels the world to document the wave of authoritarianism sweeping the planet. Drawing on the ancient Greek philosophers and intercutting footage of the remnants of ancient Greece, Taylor seeks to tackle the question of "How shall we live?" With cameos by some of the most brilliant minds of our time, Taylor interviews Cornel West, Angela Davis and Wendy Brown, among others, and ferrets out the dark side of what we think of as democracy, with its institutionalized racism, poverty and greed. Plato observed the simple truth that the rich strive for more wealth to the detriment of the poor, and he thus believed that rulers should be impoverished. In a stark and revelatory interview, former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou dispels the notion of democracy — when loans from neighboring countries and the IMF result in austerity and riots. This is a fascinating account with parallels as true today as in Plato’s time. —Barbara Pokras
The World Before Your Feet
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Jeremy Workman, Matt Green
SYNOPSIS: Former engineer Matt Green has a passion and a purpose: to walk every block of the over 8,000 miles of every New York City borough. Forsaking material attachments and relying on friends and strangers to provide shelter, Green is part human greeting card, part urban anthropologist, botanist, and historian. Driven by an insatiable curiosity, impervious to the elements and always amiable, he takes us along on a tour of the city to places that will surprise even born and bred New Yorkers. Director Jeremy Workman (WFF 2013, Audience Award, "Magical Universe") immerses the viewer in a sensory universe visible only to those who choose to slow down and observe. What began as a two-year project has morphed into five-plus years. Far more than an ode to a great metropolis, this is an engaging, entertaining and inspiring portrait of a man pursuing his own private dream. —Barbara Pokras, ACE
Q&A Attendees *subject to change: Suzannah Herbert, Lauren Belfer
SYNOPSIS: JO Johnson High School has been on Alabama's failing schools list for years. But it also possesses a hard-working wrestling team who show their true grit in this nuanced documentary that illuminates the injustices and challenges these young athletes face on and off the mat. As they fight their way towards the State Championship and the doors they hope it will open, wrestlers Jailen, Jamario, Teague, and Jaquan grapple with obstacles that jeopardize their success, while their coach - coming to terms with his own past conflicts - pushes them forward while unwittingly wading into the complexities of class and race in the South. Ultimately, Wrestle is an inspiring coming of age journey and an impassioned depiction of growing up underprivileged in America today. Fast paced and raw, the film keeps us rooted and rooting until the very last match, knowing the boys fate and ability to rise beyond their legacy is at stake. —Gene Fischer