Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Red Lotus

Co-produced by Paula Rossman and Shara Ashley Zeiger and directed by Jessica Alexandra Green, this disturbing story imagines a not-too-distant future where Roe vs. Wade has been overturned and women who are determined to have abortions are forced back into underground medical clinics. A female eye film that easily passes the Bechtel-Wallace test, The Red Lotus doesn't shrink from the eeriness of the circumstances—made even more so by the flaky exuberance of the clinic's supervisor.

A film like this one will get different reactions from an audience, and by dint of its nuance, The Red Lotus provides plenty of room for such interpretation. At the same time, the filmmakers make the tragedy of turning a healthful yoga retreat into a place where women abort their pregnancies, and the impact this place might have on otherwise law-abiding women, abundantly clear.

You can watch the trailer here: The Red Lotus Trailer

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Dirty Laundry

Distraught by the loss of their grandmother, two cousins resolved to ride their bikes across the continental United States to explore the cause of her unexpected passing: mesothelioma. Through interviews and research they uncovered a trail of corporate denial, shady politics, shallow value judgments and broken communities. The story of asbestos—its benefits as a building material and the unacceptable costs borne by people exposed to its dust—is a dark and tragic one. For years, those who knew the human costs refused to warn the public, workers and anyone else at risk about the dangers of exposure.

Co-producers and bikers extraordinaire Conor Lewis and Zack Johnson have created a powerful, informative documentary in Dirty Laundry. Like the mountains they climbed in the American West, the forces of profit, ignorance and plain, old-fashioned obstinance were intractable barriers for many victims of this cancer, but to their immense credit, Lewis and Johnson crossed those mountains and now have quite the story to share.

You can watch the trailer here: Dirty Laundry Trailer

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Clemente

Based on the inspiring yet tragic story of 20th century Major League Baseball star Roberto Clemente, this dramatic feature existed only as a script when it won accolades from Austin Film Festival and the Best Period Script award at the 2017 New Hope Film Festival. Ian Eugene Ryan, who is attached to the film as Clemente, created this work with co-writer Joseph Loizzi as a way to honor an historical figure and shed light on the plight of men of color in professional sport.

As many baseball fans know, Clemente was far more than a ball player, having devoted impressive time to charity work, including relief efforts involving a devastating earthquake in Managua, Nicaragua. Ryan and Loizzi captured the essence of the man in their superb writing—Clemente's intensity and focus both on and off the field, but also a charming, almost childlike innocence and goodness of heart. The two traits combined to make him a dangerous weapon on the field and a remarkable force for healing off of it. 

Ian Ryan plays the role of Clemente in the teaser they shot to raise awareness for the project, and what a performance he delivers—the verisimilitude is striking, down to every nuance and quirk. Beautifully directed by New Hope Film Festival's Director of Submissions Thom Michael Mulligan, the trailer demonstrates with all heart and soul why this film should be made and why Ryan should play the lead.

Sometimes indie filmmakers knock one right out of the park. You can watch the trailer here: Clemente Teaser

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Angels of the Sky

World War II pilots of the 8th Air Force were revered for their toughness and fierce dedication. If they weren't fatally shot or sent careening down to Earth in a ball of flames, they might make it back to base and live another day—maybe. Or they might, if they were half-lucky, get captured by the Germans and spend the rest of the war in a POW camp.

Angels of the Sky features intimate interviews of airmen who were shot down over German lines and taken prisoner. Now well into their senior years, they pry open their pasts, describing frightening experiences and documenting an historically pivotal era that is fading away at the rate of 750 veterans per day. Filmmaker Trent McGee dreamed up the idea for his film in 2011, feeling a sense of urgency about getting these stories on film before they could no longer be told.

Inspiring in the courage it portrays and revealing in the complexities it uncovers, Angels of the Sky is a must-see for history buffs or anyone who loves to learn about people whose experiences are unlike their own. McGee's interviewees are grizzled and wise, traits no doubt enhanced through many wartime terrors. You can watch the trailer here: Angels of the Sky Trailer