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Taiwan 1962, during the time of the White Terror, and martial law is in force on the island. In this context of extreme repression, all ideas considered to be dissident are banned, and the culprits are tortured or executed. Tsuihua Secondary School is not an escape from oppression. Despite close surveillance by the military police, Professor Zhang runs an underground literary club where Wei and his fellow students learn about banned books and dream of freedom. While the teacher is appreciated by his students, young Fang is madly in love with him. The usually shy teenage girl living in a violent home manages to open up like a book in his presence. Then Zhang disappears. One night, Fang wakes up at her desk, but the school has changed. As she wanders through the sinister corridors and other dilapidated rooms in search of her teacher, she meets Wei. Together, they must confront the ghosts and deformed monsters that have taken over the school, to find out what happened there.
At once a shocking historical drama, a melancholy coming-of-age and a terrifying horror film, DETENTION was showered with awards at the Taipei Golden Horse Awards, and garnered praise at several festivals including Rotterdam, Busan, and Fantasporto, where it received the Special Jury Prize. Adapted from the eponymous video game, this masterful debut feature from director and co-writer John Hsu creates a whimsical metaphorical universe of a gruesome metaphorical fantasy from an untenable historical context reminiscent of PAN’S LABYRINTH. With a compelling story and a touching performance by actress Gingle Wang, emotion meets terror in this haunting drama.
BARBARA LEE: SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER
Barbara Lee: Speaking Truth to Power reveals how many of the challenges faced by Barbara Lee early in her life provided her with the motivation and commitment to improve the lives of others throughout her tenure as an elected representative. With unique access to a sitting member of Congress, this film not only introduces the public to Barbara Lee but to many others such as Senator Cory Booker, Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, CNN commentator Van Jones, Lisa Blunt Rochester, actor Danny Glover and author Alice Walker who all share insights about what makes Barbara Lee unique as a public servant and as a truth-telling African American woman.
For anyone who loves theater, this contemporary history of Broadway is a joy, packed with legendary stars and performances. Key players—Helen Mirren, Christine Baranski, August Wilson, James Corden, Alec Baldwin, John Lithgow, Viola Davis, Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellen—take us behind the scenes of Broadway’s most groundbreaking shows, from A Chorus Line to Hamilton. The film includes performances by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Patti Lupone, Bernadette Peters, James Earl Jones and Mandy Patinkin.
DOGS begins with an elegant tracking shot through a marshland near the Black Sea, eventually landing on a severed foot, bobbing in the swampy water. Soon after, we meet Roman, who has just arrived on a vast plot of vacant land bequeathed to him by his late grandfather, known locally as Uncle Alecu. While selling off Uncle Alecu’s property, Roman learns that the land came into his family under murky circumstances. Then, after coming upon mysterious midnight meetings on the land, Roman discovers exactly what happened on Uncle Alecu’s watch, and why it will be both difficult and dangerous to sell his land. With gorgeous, sunbaked widescreen cinematography by Andrei Butica and masterful performances by three of Romania’s finest actors, DOGS is a terrifying allegory about class and corruption that builds towards a grim and bloody showdown.
NOT GOING QUIETLY
A rising star in progressive politics and a new father, 32-year-old Ady Barkan’s life is upended when he is diagnosed with ALS. But after a confrontation with powerful Senator Jeff Flake on an airplane goes viral, catapulting him to national fame, Ady and a motley crew of activists ignite a once-in-a-generation political movement called “Be a Hero.” Together, they barnstorm across the country and empower people to confront their elected officials with emotional, personal stories to demand healthcare justice and Ady holds groundbreaking interviews with Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. As Ady rises to become Politico’s Most Powerful Activist in America,” he discovers that collective action and speaking truth to power offers hope for this family and millions of others. .
Soaring above the chaotic spectacle of ‘80s and ‘90s Los Angeles, a young couple revolutionized breaking news with their brazen helicopter reporting. Culled from this news duo’s sprawling video archive is a poignant L.A. story of a family in turbulence hovering over a city unhinged. A pioneer of helicopter reporting, Zoey Tur, along with then-wife Marika Gerrard, forever changed broadcast news with their action-packed live coverage of monumental moments in the history of L.A., including the 1992 riots and the O.J. Simpson Ford Bronco chase in 1994. This intense work delivered a needed daily dose of adrenaline for Zoey (known then as Bob), but the thousands of hours spent chasing breaking news eventually took its toll. Through the meticulous digitization and restoration of Zoey and Marika’s sprawling video tape archive, this documentary brings to life the candid memories and reflections delivered by Zoey and Marika- as well as their kids, including their daughter, MSNBC host and author Katy Tur. In Matt Yoka’s feature debut, WHIRLYBIRD, he delivers an immersive L.A. epic through the intimate story of a relationship.
NEVER GONNA SNOW AGAIN
On a gray, foggy morning outside a large Polish city, a masseur from the East named Zhenia (Alec Utgoff) enters the lives of the wealthy residents of a gated community. With his hypnotic presence and quasi-magical abilities, he is able to get a residence permit and starts plying his trade. The well-to-do residents in their cookie-cutter suburban homes seemingly have it all, but they all suffer from an inner sadness, some unexplained longing. The attractive and mysterious newcomer’s hands heal, and Zhenia’s eyes seem to penetrate their souls. To them, his Russian accent sounds like a song from the past, a memory of simpler times
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THE WITCHES OF THE ORIENT
How did a group of humble factory workers become a phenomenal sports success story and the pride of an entire nation? Julian Faraut’s (John McEnroe: In The Realm of Perfection) ferociously innovative and visually stunning The Witches of the Orient tells the tale of the Japanese women’s volleyball team’s thrilling rise, unbelievable 258 games winning streak, and eventual Olympic gold at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. United by their jobs in a textile factory, the Japanese women’s volleyball team chased absolute perfection under the guidance of their grueling coach Hirofumi Daimatsu. Known as “the Demon,” his intense, endless practice sessions, shaped the team into a powerful force striking fear in the hearts of their competitors and earning them the racist and dismissive moniker “oriental witches.” Faraut’s sparkling documentary uses fantastic manga and anime sequences, such as Attack no 1 (1968), with archival footage of blood-curdling matches, extreme training sessions (driven by rhythmic editing and great music from French musician K-Raw) with testimony from the now-octogenarian teammates. The result charts the Witches’ meteoric rise and overwhelmingly vital spirit. The ‘Witches’ success is infectious and offers a hopeful prelude to the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games.
A stunningly beautiful mountainous village in the Southwest foothills of the Pyrenees went from a sleepy scenic town to a sacred wonder after 1858, when a 14-year-old peasant girl claimed to have seen the Virgin Mary in a remote grotto. Today, the town is second only to Paris in the number of annual visitors (6 million). LOURDES is an insightful meditation on the human capacity for empathy and hope, and the mystery of religious faith in the face of profound tribulation.
Nominated at the Cesar 2020 in the category BEST DOCUMENTARY
GOD EXISTS, HER NAME IS PETRUNYA
In Stip, a small town in Macedonia, the Epiphany is celebrated every January when the local priest throws a wooden cross into the river and hundreds of men dive after it. Good fortune and prosperity are guaranteed to the man who retrieves it. This time, Petrunya dives into the water on a whim and manages to grab the cross before the others. Her competitors are furious – how dare a woman take part in their ritual? All hell breaks loose, but Petrunya holds her ground. She won her cross and will not give it up.
“Inspired by a real event…given a quirky satirical treatment ” – Sydney Morning Herald
” A powerful cinematic work” – Cineuropa
” An almost absurd obsession is turned into a portrait of intolerance” – Fotogramas
” A fresh, potent spin on the issue of gender inequality reinforced by religion. ” – Awards Daily