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Saturday, August 3, 2024
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2023 Films and Events

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A time capsule of a year unlike any other, 2020 Chaos and Hope features a diverse group of individuals and renowned experts as they reflect on the year 2020. The film brings us face-to-face with the dramatic and emotional moments of the year – COVID-19, racial strife, political unrest, truth under fire, and increased economic disparity, all gathered into the perfect storm. Where do we go from here? It’s up to us to decide.
Jo Standish, a passionate young pilot, is challenged by her grandmother to live her life on her own terms, but she finds herself at a crossroads when that could mean revealing her grandmother's long-buried secrets. When she returns to Molokai, Hawaii in 1977 for her grandfather’s funeral, she discovers that her grandmother’s quickly encroaching short-term memory loss reveals some long-hidden secrets. She's determined to discover whether or not her grandmother is an infamous aviatrix, why she's hidden on this island for so long, and if the truth will change her career and fortune.
Brian and Maggie, a struggling couple, decide to kidnap London MP Richard Hardy while visiting their local area. Hoping for a big payout, they're disappointed when Hardy's wife refuses to pay the ransom. Things take a surprising turn when Hardy offers to pay the ransom himself in return for keeping him there longer, knowing how good this will be for his political profile. But can they all trust each other to stick to the plan?
After a run in with the local hangman, a young outlaw finds himself bound and dangling by the ankles from an old ranch gate. He’s accused of robbing a stagecoach and making off with $1200 worth of bank bonds. And he isn’t alone. Strung up beside him are two others, accused of the same crime. The deal is simple: they tell the Hangman where to find the bonds, and he’ll set them free. But who, if anyone, is guilty? There’s Barry, down on his luck without a penny to his name. There’s this mysterious new guy who swears he “ain’t no outlaw” but whose stories aren’t adding up. And then there’s the man in the mustache; folks call him Catfish, the slipperiest eel in the West. Will he find them a way out of this? Or does he have plans of his own?
Ariel - Back to Buenos Aires is the story of a brother and sister who return to Argentina, the country of their birth, for the first time in their adult lives. Against the backdrop of the glamorous tango clubs of Buenos Aires, they uncover dark family secrets and the reason why their parents emigrated to Canada.
Art and Pep are the owners of the iconic Chicago bar Sidetrack. And they're also civil rights leaders who have been fighting for LGBTQ+ equality for decades; their activism focuses on their struggle to live and love freely. From being on the frontlines of the AIDS crisis to co-founding Equality Illinois, Art and Pep have been leading the fight all along, making Illinois one of the most progressive protectors of LGBTQ+ rights in the country. ART AND PEP is a look back at the long struggle for equality and the fight to love freely - and a look ahead at the work being carried on by a new generation of activists.
This film takes us on a tumultuous journey from the height of T. Rex mania in 1970s Liverpool to the present-day poignancy of what would have been Marc Bolan's 75th birthday. It captures the heady exhilaration of glam rock mania through the experiences of a group of over-excited kids from a local children's home before a devastating road accident changes their lives forever. Years later, still clinging to the adoration of her childhood idol, survivor Penny takes her best friend and fellow Marc Bolan fan to visit his shrine in London, where a chance encounter there catapults her back to the horror she had tried so hard to forget. Bolan's Shoes is a joyful celebration of seventies culture and brims with the energy of that vibrant era, but, like Marc Bolan's legacy, its retro glitter is dimmed by the tragic repercussions of that deadly road accident. Light-hearted comedy and supernatural chills abound in this inspirational story that explores the enduring legacy of childhood trauma and the life-affirming power of music.
A cook in his heyday, Camilo is now a worn-out fifty-year-old who works for a cleaning company. He is looking for a way to get back on track when an opportunity to rediscover his culinary passion finally presents itself. Everything is in place for this new beginning when Camilo receives a visit from his daughter Tania, with whom he has cut ties. She tells him that he is a grandfather and asks him to take care of her child while she undergoes her umpteenth stint in rehab. The arrival of this grandson will upset Camilo’s plans to get his own life back on track. There is a new beginning for him, but not the one he imagined.
Dusty & Stones intimately chronicles the remarkable ride of cousins Gazi “Dusty” Simelane and Linda “Stones” Msibi, a determined duo of struggling country singers from the tiny African Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) who long for their big break. When they are unexpectedly invited to record their songs in Nashville and to compete in a Texas battle of the bands, Dusty and Stones embark on their long-awaited first pilgrimage to the ancestral heart of country music. Over a momentous ten-day road trip through the American South, Dusty and Stones bring their music to life in a top Nashville recording studio, explore the storied locales of their favorite country songs, and excitedly engage with the culture they’ve long felt part of from afar. But this sense of kinship is abruptly thrown into question when Dusty and Stones arrive in the small town of Jefferson, Texas to compete in the battle of the bands. There, the hostile leader of the local backing band threatens to derail their debut American performance. As their family and friends back home wait for good news, a shell-shocked Dusty and Stones take the stage and fight to bring home an award for Swaziland.
Four strangers come to Eden, a clandestine company in the middle of nature, to escape the troubles that plague them once and for all: a young woman broken by guilt who cannot forget her past, an old man who wants to avoid inflicting pain on his loved ones, a charismatic woman with a personality disorder, and a desperate man who hides a dark secret. But is it so simple to escape from the deepest trials of life?
On a blisteringly hot summer day, psychotherapist Ina notices something about her is amiss. But she doesn't have time to worry about it: patients are waiting at the practice, her daughter is threatening to move in with her father, her boyfriend wants to emigrate to Finland, and her self-centered mother is celebrating her 70th birthday. Ina wants to please everyone, but then a life-altering discovery changes everything.
Feast Your Ears: The Story of WHFS 102.3 will take you on a trip back to the 60s, 70s and 80s, when ''free form'' progressive FM radio was in its heyday in America. Broadcasting from ''high atop the Triangle Towers'' near Washington, DC, the legendary and beloved WHFS was more than just a local radio station - it was the voice of a generation. Hear from local, national and international musicians, the HFS deejays, record label veterans, journalists, historians, fans, and more as they reflect on a time when the music united a tribe who spoke out via the radio waves about war, equality, and a time of great social, cultural, and political upheaval.
Greener Pastures captures the day-to-day lives of four small multigenerational family farms over the course of four years. Through an intimate, observational lens, we examine the various farm stressors, policies, and politics farmers must maneuver to survive, connecting the dots between mental health, industrialization, food production, and climate change. It is a story of perseverance, patience, and determination that tackles the future of farming in America.
The renowned playwright and director James Lapine casually meets the 86-year-old Rose Styron - poet, journalist, human rights activist, and widow of the famed author William Styron - and is promptly invited to lunch. Expecting a couple of great stories, he brings along his camera. Fascinated by her tales, Rose becomes his Scheherazade over a period of six years as he learns of the fascinating and complicated life she has led and the people she has known, and along the way, he learns something about himself, too.
When an obsessive-compulsive teenager discovers her new home is haunted by the ghost of its previous occupant, she searches for a way to help him move on, only to discover they have far more in common than expected - and, in the process, they forge a connection that makes it hard for both of them to let go.
Following a miserable breakup, Jessica must now play maid-of-honor at her best friend's off-the-grid wedding in the woods, where she will be confronted by her more successful friends from college, her perfect ex-girlfriend, and every bad decision she’s made in life so far.
Gangster to some, philanthropist to others: who was the real Edward Jones? In the 30s and 40s, this descendant of slaves becomes one of the richest men in the United States thanks to the Policy business, an illegal numbers game, that ultimately became the modern State Lottery. But in those times of segregation, his success and unfailing support to the African American community were a problem. In conflict with both the mob and the Feds, he was forced into a life on the run. Exploring the rise and fall of the most famous Policy King of all times, the filmmaker, Edward Jones’ granddaughter, uncovers an unparalleled story, while showing the lasting repercussions of his life, both within her family and for Chicago’s South Side, where he was once the embodiment of the American dream.
Lakelands takes place in a small town in the midlands of Ireland – the sort of place where Gaelic football is religion and identity is defined by what one can do on the pitch. The film tells the story of Cian Reilly, a young Gaelic footballer who struggles to come to terms with a career-ending injury after a violent attack on a night out. At the same time, he begins a friendship with Grace, a nurse who is back in town to look after her ailing father. Cian tries to find meaning in other areas of life, but the pull from the team and pressure from the town is too strong. He soon finds himself risking it all by returning to football against the doctor’s orders and considering seeking retribution against his assailants. The film depicts youth culture in the midlands that hasn’t been seen in Irish cinema ever before.
A long-distance couple meet in a small town between them once a month in an attempt to save their relationship. Over the course of six months, they begin to lose grip on what they once had.
Nothing symbolizes "making it in America" quite like owning a home. Yet today the racial gap in home ownership is widening, and those most impacted are women of color. Set in Detroit, LOCKED OUT brings us into the lives of courageous Black women who face evictions, predatory lenders, and the trials of traditional banking as they become ground fighters in a movement to battle modern-day redlining and housing injustice so that the American Dream may become a reality for all.
When Randi is diagnosed with breast cancer, her husband Brian, a conservative Midwest family man, embarks on an extraordinary journey to boost her morale that turns into a homespun prosthetic nipple business. All while, they must fly under the radar of their friends, their church, and their five children.
In this coming-of-middle-age comedy, two brothers make a road trip down the Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles in order to move their somewhat estranged father into a retirement home.
For years, Patrick Dykstra has dedicated his life to traveling the globe and following and diving with whales. Over the years, Patrick has learned how whales see and hear, how they perceive other creatures in the water, and how they behave at close quarters. He has a finely tuned sense and knows how to act when within touching distance of a whale - what to do, what not to do, and when to do it. This allows him to consistently get closer to whales than anyone else alive - a truly unique skill. Patrick recently experienced a life-changing event. In Dominica, he had a close encounter with a female sperm whale. She seemed to be curious about him, coming within touching distance, pulsing him with her sonar. She studied him as he studied her. Patrick felt an overwhelming sense that she was genuinely trying to communicate. We follow Patrick as he travels to Dominica again to find this special whale he named “Dolores” so she can help him show us the hidden world of her species. Using stunning underwater footage, Patrick explores the fascinating nature of the sperm whale, attempting to shine a light on its intelligence and complexity, as well as highlighting its current and past relationship with humankind. The film follows his personal journey and explores the psychology of a man who has sacrificed everything in his single-minded quest to connect with and understand one of the biggest creatures in the ocean.
An emerging crisis in one of the last remaining rainforests in Central America ignites a heroic mission in PATROL. When illegal cattle ranchers decimate large swaths of rainforest, indigenous rangers join forces with an American conservationist and undercover journalists to expose the dark world of conflict beef.
Discover the life and music of jazz luminary Ron Carter, the most recorded bassist in history. Filmed over the course of six years, Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes invites viewers to meet the gentleman behind the bass. Best known as the rhythmic force in Miles Davis' Second Great Quintet, Carter has since amassed more than 2,500 musical credits over a prolific six-decade career. His unmistakable melodies and timbre accompany the likes of Chet Baker, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Paul Simon, and A Tribe Called Quest. Carter approaches every challenge with immovable grace and dedication, even in the face of discrimination and great personal loss. The film reflects on his early rejection as a Black musician in the white classical canon and how that experience shaped his career. “No one is gonna tell me what I cannot do,” he states in the film. “They may tell me I can’t work there. They may tell me I can’t go in their front door. But they’re not telling me what I can’t do.” Carter’s adaptability contributed to the breadth of his innovation. He revolutionized the bass’s role in modern music and set an example for Black musicians across all genres. In a rare private moment, Carter shared, “As offensive as being called a colored boy is, there have been times when I have been glad to be called that. I played Carnegie Hall. And I got to Carnegie Hall being a colored boy. I can live with that.” Featuring original concert footage and candid interviews with jazz legends such as Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, Stanley Clarke, and newcomer Jon Batiste, Finding the Right Notes is a vibrant portrait of one of America''s great musical trailblazers. “He’s creating his legacy every day. I think he’s been doing that for a long time. Every bass player today, whether they know it, like it, or whatever, when you play jazz bass, there’s a bit of Ron Carter in everyone.” - Stanley Clarke, bassist “Playing with Ron, that was one of the dreams I had. I mean everybody knew he would be the next guy in line to be the top jazz bass player.” - Herbie Hancock, pianist “The beautiful thing about jazz and maybe about all music is that it lends to individuality. You can identify Ron if you hear some music for a few moments, you can listen: ‘oh yeah, that’s Ron Carter.’” - Sonny Rollins, saxophonist From seven-time Emmy Award-winning director Peter Schnall, “Through six extraordinary years of filming and traveling together, Ron never ceased to amaze me with his warmth and grace. This project pulled me into a world I knew very little about - yet who better to journey with through that world than one of the great gentlemen of jazz? Everyone has heard sir Ron’s music, now they can finally hear his story.”
Filmed over an expanse of 25 years, two brothers go on a 2,000-mile road trip to solve a family mystery. Shooting on nearly every camera format imaginable, from hand-developed Super-8 film to Arri 4K, Sam Harkness and his older half brother Reed employ their creative world of fiction filmmaking to dive headfirst into dealing with the issue at hand: Sam’s mom is missing. Sam’s wetsuit and mask-wearing alter ego, the Blue Panther, bounds into frame with youthful energy and a heroic spirit of adventure. But can the Blue Panther save the day?
Beth (Vivian Kerr) has recently been laid off and struggles to maintain the appearance of a successful middle-class lifestyle as she bounces around Los Angeles. Hoping to land a new job and change her situation before her estranged older brother Ben (Anthony Rapp) finds out, Beth must confront her own pride in order to reconnect with him and provide for her young daughter, Birdy. Meanwhile, Ben and his wife Stacy (Lana Parrilla) consider a third round of IVF and Stacy, a successful attorney, must reevaluate her own conflicted relationship to motherhood.
"Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye, and the eye through the mind. As the sun colours flowers, so does art colour life." - John Lubbock
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” -Barack Obama
“It’s no company at all, when people know nothing and say nothing,’ she muttered.” - Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights
"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." - Theodore Roosevelt
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“You know the message you’re sending out to the world with sweatpants? You’re telling the world: ‘I give up. I can’t compete in normal society. I’m miserable, so I might as well be comfortable.’” - Jerry Seinfeld
“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward” - Martin Luther King Jr.
“'The right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing' is a phrase that refers to times when people ought to know, but don’t know, about something that is happening very close to them. For instance, you ought to know about the man who watches you when you sleep." - Lemony Snicket
"First thing in the morning you look after yourself, you brush your teeth and wash your face, don’t you? Well, the second thing you must do is to look after the planet." - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” – George Bernard Shaw
The Artist and the Astronaut tells the unlikely love story between the artist Pat Musick, a civil rights activist, and the Apollo astronaut Jerry Carr as they participate in some of the most historic events in human history. The film is filled with never-before-seen footage of the early space pioneers and features interviews with key figures from that era. It chronicles Pat’s and Jerry’s vastly different paths as they traverse uncertain times, eventually coming together to render some of America’s most enduring art. The Artist and the Astronaut is an uplifting love story proving that curiosity, perseverance, and empathy for others can be powerful agents of change. The story of the making of this documentary is as unlikely as the story depicted in the film. Bill Muench, a full-time teacher and basketball coach, at the urging of his wife, decides to make a documentary on a local Vermont couple. He embarked on this journey with no plan or budget. In the next six years, he traveled to nine states and two continents to interview numerous Apollo Astronauts, their wives, award-winning authors, artists, art historians, and even NASA directors of mission control. Eventually teaming with music legend, Todd Hobin, they produce a story that otherwise would have never been told.
A small town reels from the sudden and mysterious death of ''Feral Boy,'' a local legend since his discovery in the woods as a child. Father Moss, a priest with a loose grip on the faith, attempts to counsel the forlorn couple that raised the boy. As the answers are revealed, he finds parallels between this grisly incident and his own recurring nightmares, haunted in both sleeping and waking hours.
As America raced to beat the Soviet Union to the moon, a Black astronaut candidate came closer to launching into space than anyone we ever knew. In THE SPACE RACE, directors Lisa Cortés and Diego Hurtado de Mendoza profile the pioneering Black pilots, scientists, and engineers who joined NASA to serve their country in space, even as their country failed to achieve equality for them back on Earth. From 1963, when the assassination of JFK thwarted Captain Ed Dwight’s quest to reach the moon, to 2020, when the echoes of the civil unrest sparked by the killing of George Floyd reached the International Space Station, the story of African Americans at NASA is a tale of world events colliding with the aspirations of uncommon men. The bright dreams of Afrofuturism become reality in THE SPACE RACE, turning science fiction into science fact, and forever redefining what “the right stuff” looks like, giving us new heroes to celebrate and a fresh history to explore.
In 1985, Willem de Kooning's "Woman-Ochre," one of the most valuable paintings of the 20th century, was cut from its frame at the University of Arizona Museum of Art. 32 years later, the painting was found hanging in a New Mexico home.
Most people dream of a better future. Pedro, an aspiring social worker, is no different. But as a blind, undocumented immigrant, Pedro faces political restrictions to obtain his college degree, secure a job in his field, and support his family. As he finally graduates, uncertainty looms over Pedro. What starts as a journey to provide mental healthcare for his community ultimately transforms into Pedro’s path towards his own healing. Through experimental cinematography and sound, "unseen" reimagines the accessibility of cinema, while exploring the intersections of immigration, disability, and mental health.
When filmmaker Alex Rappoport met then-79-year-old abstract artist Peter Bradley in the winter of 2020, Bradley hadn't sold many paintings, nor had he had a major show in over four decades - yet he still painted every day in a shipping container studio heated by a wood stove. Over time, the pair recorded Peter's fascinating story, seemingly overlooked in art history. Bradley was the first Black haute art dealer in New York - likely the first Black abstract artist represented by a major New York gallery - and curator of what is considered the first integrated modern art show in America. Talented, willful, and arrogant, Bradley lived life to its fullest - until he fell upon hard times in the 1980s that nearly ended his career. At once an intimate portrait and a deep study of the creative process, WITH PETER BRADLEY is situated entirely at the artist’s rural home and studio, and unfolds over the course of changing seasons. The sole figure on screen, Bradley narrates his life in a series of conversations: often provocative, sometimes bitter, and full of surprises. We meet the artist at a critical juncture - deeply committed to the expressive power of color, painting gorgeous pictures at a prolific pace, but without an audience to appreciate them. Despite this lack of recognition, the film is buoyed by Peter’s exuberant spirit and warm sense of humor.
A driven ballerina who defected from the Soviet Union because of antisemitism and lack of artistic and personal freedom toes her way from being a principal dancer of the Boston Ballet to leading a diverse group of ballet students in their difficult journey to become professional dancers as they struggle with the challenges such as physical and emotional stress of intense ballet training. It is the story of her transition to the American ballet stage that led, after a 25-year career, to a new role as a teacher, and to new challenges as she struggles to adapt to the educational styles of American ballet. This documentary is unique in that it does not look back - the film is about present life and about the future for our children and new generations.