Tag Archives: swerve

Meet Our Guests 2022 / Centre Film Festival

Meet Our Guests 2022
Centre Film
October 31, 2022
https://centrefilm.org/meet-our-guests-2022/

MONDAY, OCTOBER 31, 2022

Arash Azizi | HOLY SPIDER — MON, OCT 31, 6:00PM
Arash Azizi is a writer living in New York City. He is the author of the book, The Shadow Commander: Soleimani, the US and Iran’s Global Ambitions (Oneworld, 2020.) His writings on cinema, politics and history have also appeared in numerous outlets including the New York Times and the Washington Post. He is a regular at film festivals around the world and has covered every Cannes film festival since 2016. He has also written and produced movies which can be found on his IMDB profile. Into Schrodinger’s Box, a film he co-write and co-produced, is available to watch on Fandor via Amazon.

Savita Iyer Ahrestani | Editor of the Penn Stater magazine — MON, OCT 31, 6:00PM
Savita Iyer Ahrestani is the senior editor of the Penn Stater magazine, Penn State University’s alumni magazine. Before joining the Penn Stater in 2017, she was a freelance journalist for 14 years, writing on a wide range of topics for magazines and websites including VOGUE IndiaTeen VogueYahoo LifeSELF.com and Refinery 29’s U.K. edition. Born in Calcutta, India, Savita grew up in Geneva, Switzerland and has been living in State College for 10 years.

Elham Nasr | PSU post-doc, from Iran — MON, OCT 31, 6:00PM
Ellie Nasr has overcome lots of barriers to now be an international post-doctoral scholar at Pennsylvania State University. Before coming to the US, despite all limitations for women, she was an independent entrepreneur in Iran, focusing on environmental education and facilitating the relationship between nature and modern society. She has always been interested in empowering young girls through nature-related experiences to make them competent to release from restrictive stereotypes for women in traditional societies.

Maryam Shahri | Instructor & researcher, PSU Dept of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, from Iran — MON, OCT 31, 6:00PM
An instructor and researcher with Penn State’s department of agricultural and biological engineering specializing in public sustainable behavior and sustainable governance.

Nargess Kaviani | Endocrinologist with Geisinger, from Iran — MON, OCT 31, 6:00PM
My name is Nargess Kaviani. I am born and raised in lran, in a secular family. After graduating from medical school with honors, l moved to US to pursue my postgraduate trainings. I did my residency and fellowship training in NY state and after completing my fellowship moved back to State College with my family and started my new job as an endocrinologist in Geisinger.

I am the CEO and founder of a nonprofit organization called MDSPS, Medical Doctor Suicide Prevention Services. I love art, outdoors, hiking, cooking, socializing with friends and family, as well as reading and writing.

Storai Jalali | Editorial Assistant, PennStater Magazinefrom Afghanistan — MON, OCT 31, 6:00PM
A women’s rights activist who was working as assistant director for FRDO organization in Kabul, Afghanistan before the Taliban takeover in August 2021, she is a BBA Graduate from RANA university in Kabul, In April 2022 moved to State College with her husband and 2 kids, now working as Editorial Assistant for Penn State university (PennStater Magazine).

Toyosi Olanrewaju | Registered Nurse, from Nigeria — MON, OCT 31, 6:00PM
As a Registered Nurse and experienced mental health professional with almost a decade of full-time work for the largest psychiatric hospital in Nigeria, Mrs. Olanrewaju also registered in 2019 to practice as a Mental Health Nurse in United Kingdom. She is currently United States Registered Nurse.

She started her education at the Oyo State College of Nursing and Midwifery, for her professional training in Nursing. Her passion for less privileged and underserved population motivated her to specialize in psychiatry/mental health nursing.

Thus, she chose to specialize in the field of psychiatry, and I proceeded to the School of Psychiatric Nursing, Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Aro-Abeokuta, Nigeria for her training in psychiatric/mental health nursing. Her quest for more knowledge also led her to University of Derby, United Kingdom where she earned a Bachelor of Nursing Sciences {BNSc} degree. She had several professional certificates, and she has attended conferences both at national and international level.

She is happily married with kids.


TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2022

Byron Hurt | HAZING — TUE, NOV 1, 6:00PM
Byron Hurt is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, writer, lecturer, activist, Emmy-nominated TV show host, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University. Hurt is also a short video content creator for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Forward Promise program.

James Vivenzio | HAZING — TUE, NOV 1, 6:00PM

Dr. Stevan Veldkamp | Penn State’s Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform — TUE, NOV 1, 6:00PM
Dr. Stevan Veldkamp leads Penn State’s Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform – where he sets and implements a national research agenda collaborating with scholars here and nationwide on studies to eradicate hazing and hazardous behaviors, strengthen leadership education, and monitor the state of Greek life. With a career spanning three decades, Dr. Veldkamp has directly advised students in all Greek life traditions and is a frequent campus and headquarters consultant. A first-generation college student, Steve is a two-time graduate of Grand Valley State University and holds a doctoral degree from Indiana University in Higher Education and Student Affairs.

Tierra Williams | Vice President, State College Chapter, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority — TUE, NOV 1, 6:00PM
Tierra D. Williams is a Mississippi Native hailing from Thee Jackson State University majoring in Speech Communication with a Theatre concentration. Tierra has always had a love for the arts, and throughout high school she participated in Speech & Debate, Poetry Out Loud, and acted in various plays. In college, she landed the lead role in the play RUINED by, Lynn Nottage, and was nominated to go to Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) in Roanoke, Virginia- where she placed as a semi-finalist. In March of 2022 she hosted the “Women’s Voices”, where she sang and danced as the MC. She is a Blacktivst and an Actorvist and is unapologetic about both, and uses her talent to address local and national issues. She moved to State College in 2018, where she got involved with plays written and directed by Charles Dumas. and poetry events led by Cynthia Mazzant or Elaine Medar-Wilgus. She also began her Vegan Bakery and sells  goods at Webster’s Bookstore & Cafe.  She received a grant from 3 Dots Downtown to start her own show “Black Tea” a community engagement show meant to spark dialogue around difficult conversations.  With Pablo Lopez, filmmaker and creator of Dark Mind Productions, Tierra’s dream became reality. She then began hosting events for National Black Poetry Night, Politic & Poetry, and other workshops. Tierra is determined to make a space for Black Art on every stage, “By any means necessary.” 


WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2022

Bhawin Suchak | OUTTA THE MUCK — WED, NOV 2, 6:00PM
An educator, filmmaker, and founding member/co-executive director of Youth FX, a media arts organization focused on empowering young people of color in Albany, NY and around the world by teaching them creative and technical skills in film and digital media.

Fritz Bitsoie | THE TRAILS BEFORE US — WED, NOV 2, 6:00PM
Fritz Bitsoie is a Diné Director from Gallup, New Mexico and a graduate of the film program at the University of New Mexico. In his first short film, The Trails Before Us, Bitsoie aims to reclaim the Western film genre as a way to share contemporary stories about the Native American experience.

Lynne Sachs | SWERVE — WED, NOV 2, 6:00PM
Sachs is an experimental filmmaker and poet based in Brooklyn. Strongly committed to a dialogue between cinematic theory and practice, she searches for a rigorous play between image and sound, pushing the visual and aural textures in each new project.


THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2022

Art Johnston and Pep Peña | ART AND PEP — THUR, NOV 3, 6:00PM
They are civil rights leaders whose life and love is a force behind LGBTQ+ equality in the heart of the country. Their iconic gay bar, Sidetrack, has helped fuel movements and create community for decades in Chicago. But, behind the business and their historic activism exists a love unlike any other.

Mercedes Kane | ART AND PEP — THUR, NOV 3, 6:00PM
Mercedes Kane is forever fascinated by the human experience and the many ways to explore and express that experience. She most recently directed WHAT REMAINS: THE BURNING DOWN OF BLACK WALL STREET (director, 2021) about the 1921 Tulsa race massacre.

Martine N. Granby | NO SIREN LEFT BEHIND — THUR, NOV 3, 6:00PM
Martine N. Granby is a nonfiction filmmaker, producer, video journalist, and an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Connecticut. She has worked as a documentarian, producer, editor, video journalist, and educator.

Shirin Barghi | NO SIREN LEFT BEHIND — THUR, NOV 3, 6:00PM
Shirin Barghi is an Iranian journalist, audio producer and documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn, New York. She currently works as a Senior Producer for BRIC TV, where she covers issues of social justice, immigration, inequality and more.


FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2022

Mykyta Kozlov | KLONDIKE — FRI, NOV 4, 6:00PM
After graduating from the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Mykyta Kozlov started to work in the cultural industries, from GogolFest Contemporary Art Festival to Molodist Kyiv IFF, Odesa IFF and Toronto IFF. Eventually, he shifted to the production side working as 1st Assistant Director in commercials, TV series and films. In 2021, he started his career as a producer mainly focusing on creative documentaries.

Yuliya V. Ladygina | Assistant Professor of Slavic and Global & International Studies PSU — FRI, NOV 4, 6:00PM
Yuliya V. Ladygina’s research in Eastern European literatures and cultures focuses on questions of cultural memory and cultural exchange. She is the author of Bridging East and West: Ol’ha Kobylians’ka, Ukraine’s Pioneering Modernist (2019), and she is currently working on her second book project, The Reel Story of the EuroMaidan and Russia’s War on Ukraine, which examines the post-2014 cycle of Ukrainian war films and their perspective on the hybrid nature of modern war and its mediatization. Before joining Penn State, Ladygina was a Research Fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Russian at Williams College, and a Teaching Assistant Professor of Russian and Humanities at The University of the South (Sewanee).

Ido Glass | DEAD SEA GUARDIANS — FRI, NOV 4, 8:00PM
Ido Glass is a graduate of the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem (1994).He has been creating, editing, writingscripts and working as a freelance director.He specializes in documentaries dealing with social, human and historical issues surrounding Israeli society.

Shaina Feinberg | MY MOM’S EGGPLANT SAUCE — FRI, NOV 4, 8:00PM
Shaina Feinberg is a filmmaker from New York City. She specializes in micro-budget filmmaking. Her first film, The Babymooners, blends documentary and narrative fiction and was picked up for distribution by Screen Media.


SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2022

Arno Michaelis | REFUGE — SAT, NOV 5, 1:30PM
Arno was a leader of a worldwide racist skinhead group and a lead singer of the hate-metal band Centurion, which is still popular with hate groups today. Single parenthood, love for his daughter, and the forgiveness shown by people he once hated all helped to turn Arno’s life around.

Mubin Shaikh | REFUGE — SAT, NOV 5, 1:30PM
Mubin Shaikh is a deradicalized former extremist turned undercover human source for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and police agent with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET – Toronto).

Tierra Williams | The 3/20 Coalition — SAT, NOV 5, 1:30PM
Tierra D. Williams is a Mississippi Native hailing from Thee Jackson State University majoring in Speech Communication with a Theatre concentration. Tierra has always had a love for the arts, and throughout high school she participated in Speech & Debate, Poetry Out Loud, and acted in various plays. In college, she landed the lead role in the play RUINED by, Lynn Nottage, and was nominated to go to Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) in Roanoke, Virginia- where she placed as a semi-finalist. In March of 2022 she hosted the “Women’s Voices”, where she sang and danced as the MC. She is a Blacktivst and an Actorvist and is unapologetic about both, and uses her talent to address local and national issues. She moved to State College in 2018, where she got involved with plays written and directed by Charles Dumas. and poetry events led by Cynthia Mazzant or Elaine Medar-Wilgus. She also began her Vegan Bakery and sells  goods at Webster’s Bookstore & Cafe.  She received a grant from 3 Dots Downtown to start her own show “Black Tea” a community engagement show meant to spark dialogue around difficult conversations.  With Pablo Lopez, filmmaker and creator of Dark Mind Productions, Tierra’s dream became reality. She then began hosting events for National Black Poetry Night, Politic & Poetry, and other workshops. Tierra is determined to make a space for Black Art on every stage, “By any means necessary.” 

Shaheen Pasha | assistant teaching professor of journalism, Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications — SAT, NOV 5, 3:30PM
Shaheen Pasha, an assistant teaching professor at Penn State, is a co-founder and co-executive of an initiative called the Prison Journalism Project. The non-profit organization gives a voice to people behind bars who want to learn and share their experiences from inside their cells.

Divine Lipscomb | State College Borough Council member — SAT, NOV 5, 3:30PM
“I am a native New Yorker. Born, bred, fed,” says Divine Lipscomb. Recalling his childhood in Brooklyn, he sees a kid “buried in trauma,” struggling with addiction, and who was a “prime candidate” for gang membership. By age 16, he had two felony arrests for armed robbery and was sentenced to four years in state prison — 15 months of which he spent in solitary confinement. Not surprisingly, reentry into society was difficult: “You come home the same age you were when you went in. So, mentally I was 16 when I came home — in a grown man’s body.”

After his release, despite setbacks and relapses, he found success as an entrepreneur. The self-sufficiency and freedom he felt inspired his vision for Corrective Gentlemen, Divine’s non-profit organization. Its mission is to provide support and mentoring for returned citizens, a term Divine prefers to “former inmate.” He also returned to school. At Penn State, Divine is a rehabilitation and human services major and works as the special projects coordinator for PSU’s Restorative Justice Initiative. In addition, he volunteers at the local drop-in shelter to support returning citizens and is active in organizations that allow his experience to lend a voice to the unheard. In 2020, his academic achievements and advocacy were honored: Divine was awarded PSU’s 2020 “Outstanding Adult Learners Award” and the Rock Ethics Institute’s 2020 “Stand Up Award”.

Today, Divine wears many hats: student, husband, father, advocate, entrepreneur, public speaker, board member, volunteer, teacher, executive director, and returned citizen. He has his eye on law school and hopes to one day sit in public office.

Keith Wasserman | DEAR ANI — SAT, NOV 5, 6:00PM
For twenty years Keith Wasserman has made and delivered elaborate art mail packages-all in the hopes of befriending his muse. Dear Ani explores what can happen when you present your truest self, and risk total failure. It is an intimate account of psychotic mania, personal mastery, and creative triumph.

Micah Levin | DEAR ANI — SAT, NOV 5, 6:00PM
In 2006, Micah founded the creative content studio, Movie Magic Media, where he and Keith have collaborated on dozens of short films, music videos and feature films. Together they made their Tribeca Film Festival debut in 2015 with the climate themed sci-fi short film, Grow.

Emily, Tom, and Kari Whitehead | OF MEDICINE AND MIRACLES — SAT, NOV 5, 6:00PM
Tom Whitehead, Kari Whitehead, and their daughter Emily are founders of the Emily Whitehead Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for pediatric cancer immunotherapy research.

Justin Zimmerman | SOLDIER, NOV 5, 8:00PM
Justin Zimmerman, MFA in Film, is a nationally recognized comic writer, director and professor. His narrative and documentary work has appeared in over 200 film festivals across the globe and has been broadcast on national public television, where he won two international television awards. He’s also been the recipient of multiple grants and fellowships, he contributed a story to the Eisner Award-winning graphic novel Love Is Love, and his script and comic creations have been optioned on multiple occasions. You can see more of Zimmerman’s personal work at his website: www.brickerdown.com.

Tierra Williams | Former US Army Reserver — SAT, NOV 5, 8:00PM
Tierra D. Williams is a Mississippi Native hailing from Thee Jackson State University majoring in Speech Communication with a Theatre concentration. Tierra has always had a love for the arts, and throughout high school she participated in Speech & Debate, Poetry Out Loud, and acted in various plays. In college, she landed the lead role in the play RUINED by, Lynn Nottage, and was nominated to go to Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) in Roanoke, Virginia- where she placed as a semi-finalist. In March of 2022 she hosted the “Women’s Voices”, where she sang and danced as the MC. She is a Blacktivst and an Actorvist and is unapologetic about both, and uses her talent to address local and national issues. She moved to State College in 2018, where she got involved with plays written and directed by Charles Dumas. and poetry events led by Cynthia Mazzant or Elaine Medar-Wilgus. She also began her Vegan Bakery and sells  goods at Webster’s Bookstore & Cafe.  She received a grant from 3 Dots Downtown to start her own show “Black Tea” a community engagement show meant to spark dialogue around difficult conversations.  With Pablo Lopez, filmmaker and creator of Dark Mind Productions, Tierra’s dream became reality. She then began hosting events for National Black Poetry Night, Politic & Poetry, and other workshops. Tierra is determined to make a space for Black Art on every stage, “By any means necessary.” 


SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2022

Carleen Maur | TRACES — SUN, NOV 6, 11:00AM
Carleen Maur is an experimental filmmaker living and working in Columbia, SC where she teaches at the University of South Carolina. She received her MFA in Cinematic Arts from the University of Iowa in 2017. Her work focuses on hybrid methods of both film and video that examine the intersections between gender, sexuality and camouflage.

Matt Whitman | THAT WAS WHEN I THOUGHT I COULD HEAR YOU — SUN, NOV 6, 11:00AM
Matt Whitman (b. West Chester, PA) works with 16mm and Super8 motion picture film. His work has recently screened at the 60th Ann Arbor Film Festival, San Francisco Cinematheque’s CROSSROADS 2022, the 2022 Chicago Underground Film Festival, the 2022 Winnipeg Underground Film Festival, the 2022 Prismatic Ground Festival at Maysles Documentary Center, the 2022 Athens International Film and Video Festival, Fracto Experimental Film Encounter in Berlin, the Suspaustas Laikas traveling festival in cities across Lithuania, and at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York.

He lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, currently films much of his work in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and has taught at Parsons School of Design since 2014.

Crystal Z Campbell | FLIGHT — SUN, NOV 6, 11:00AM
Crystal Z Campbell (they/them), a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow in Fine Arts, is a multidisciplinary artist, experimental filmmaker, and writer of Black,  Filipinx, and Chinese descents. Campbell finds complexity in public secrets—fragments of information known by many but undertold or unspoken. Campbell’s recent works use underloved archival material to consider historical gaps in the narrative of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, revisit questions of immortality and medical ethics with Henrietta Lacks’ “immortal” cell line, ponder the role of a political monument and displacement in a Swedish coastal landscape, and salvage a 35mm film from a demolished Black activist theater in Brooklyn as a relic of gentrification.

A featured filmmaker at the 67th Flaherty Film Seminar programmed by Almudena Escobar López and Sky Hopinka. Campbell’s films and art have screened and exhibited internationally: MIT List Visual Arts Center, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Walker Art Center, The Drawing Center, Nest, ICA-Philadelphia, Museum of Modern Art, BLOCK Museum, REDCAT, Artissima, Studio Museum of Harlem, Bemis, Project Row Houses, SculptureCenter, and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, amongst others.

Honors and awards include a 2022 Creative Capital Award, Harvard Radcliffe Film Study Center & David and Roberta Logie Fellowship, Pollock-Krasner Award, MAP Fund, MacDowell, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Skowhegan, Rijksakademie, Whitney ISP, Franklin Furnace, Tulsa Artist Fellowship, and Black Spatial Relics.

Campbell’s writing is featured in two artist books  published by Visual Studies Workshop Press, World Literature TodayMonday JournalGARAGE, and Hyperallergic. Founder of the virtual programming platform archiveacts.com, Campbell is currently a Visiting Associate Professor in Art and Media Study at the University at Buffalo. Campbell lives and works in New York & Oklahoma.

Berndt Mader | CHOP & STEELE — SUN, NOV 6, 1:00PM
Berndt Mader is an Emmy Award winning film, television and commercial director. He has directed the feature films, Booger Red (2016) and Five Time Champion (2011). In 2021 Mader co-directed a television series for Discovery+ based on his film, Booger Red. In 2022, the comedy documentary he co-directed, Chop & Steele, premiered at the 2022 Tribeca Film Festival. He is a co-founder of the Austin based production company, The Bear. Xander Chauncey | THE MOLOK — SUN, NOV 6, 1:00PM
Chauncey’s career in the arts has spanned more than 20 years. He works as a writer, director, producer, actor, singer & dancer. No matter his role, Xander is a passionate storyteller and approaches the material from the inside out; connecting the emotional truth of the piece to his audience in every moment. Jorge

Antonio Guerrero | WE ARE LIVING THINGS — SUN, NOV 6, 3:00PM
Jorge Antonio Guerrero (born June 28 1993) is a Mexican actor. He is most noted for his performance as Fermín in the 2018 film Roma, for which he was an Ariel Award nominee for Best Supporting Actor at the 61st Ariel Awards in 2019.

He has also appeared in the television series Luis Miguel: The SeriesNarcos: MexicoCrime Diaries: The CandidateSitiados: México and Hernán, and in the film Drunken Birds (Les Oiseaux Ivres). He received a Vancouver Film Critics Circle nomination for Best Actor in a Canadian Film at the Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards 2021, and a Prix Iris nomination for Revelation of the Year at the 24th Quebec Cinema Awards in 2022, for Drunken Birds.

Andrew Li | WE ARE LIVING THINGS — SUN, NOV 6, 3:00PM
Andrew K. Li is a filmmaker based in New York. A graduate of the MFA Film Program from Columbia University, his student film was shortlisted for a BAFTA nomination and films he produced have screened at festivals around the world including official selection at Cannes, SXSW, Deauville and Toronto IFF. He and his work have received fellowships from Producers Guild of America, EAVE, and IFP. Currently, he’s in production on Pet Shop Boys and developing feature film projects.

Nic Natalicchio | WATCHING THE WILDS — SUN, NOV 6, 3:00PM
Professional filmmaker with over a decade of hands-on experience across multiple industries. He currently teaches in the Department of Cinema & Television at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. His debut short documentary film, The Tides That Bind, screened at over 25 festivals and won numerous awards.


Centre Film Festival – Pearl Gluck Director, Lynne, Fritz Bitsoie, Bhawan Sushak with host John Curley
State College, Pennsylvania

“Swerve”: 2022 Camden International Film Festival Review / Bain’s Film Reviews


“Swerve”: 2022 Camden Film Festival Review
Bain’s Film Reviews
By Kyle Bain
September 18, 2022
https://baintrain08.wixsite.com/bainsfilmreviews/post/swerve-2022

Swerve (2022)

2022 CAMDEN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW!

Food brings us together. It can be the connector needed to form relationships both romantic and platonic–and for some, food can be their calling in life. Swerve uses food to bring together five unique individuals (and an audience) as they navigate the streets of Queens. While food is ultimately the catalyst for their journeys, each of them speaking in verse, expressing themselves in an incredibly effective way, lets emotion rise to the surface as they make an impression on viewers around the world.

While Swerve is technically a documentary, it plays out in a way that allows it to appear like a narrative and an artistic version of the real world. We see the subjects of the film navigating Queens both above and below ground, on the crowded streets amongst thousands and alone at a table. The juxtapositions created throughout the course of Swerve open the world’s eyes to the diversity of not just New York City, but the rest of the globe as well. Viewers are invited back into the world that they already know, but it shows it from a series of angles by which they may not have already been familiar. These angles are literal and figurative, and each one plays an integral role in the reception of the film.

As these literal camera angles take form throughout the film, viewers see exactly what Director Lynne Sachs wants them to. When she wants viewers to see the hustle and bustle of the busy streets, that’s what they see. When she wants them to understand the mental and emotional statuses of the five subjects, they do; and when she wants them to feel relaxed, one with the sometimes calming sentiments present in Swerve, that’s exactly what they feel. Sachs is a brilliant creator who knows the ins and outs of developing something that can and will appeal to the masses. Her prowess in this respect is uplifting and full of passion, and she does a spectacular job of bringing her vision to life in Swerve.

I often struggle with documentaries that have parts written for them, as I tend to want these films to happen naturally rather than being manipulated into something that forces an agenda. Swerve has verse written for it, and the individuals on screen are tasked with presenting these lines in a fashion that mirrors the visuals and the sentiment present in the film. For the first time I believe that the script written for a documentary is not only acceptable, but essential. It works wonders for the film, and it brings everything to life in a vibrant and infectious fashion.

Rhyme plays a pivotal role in the reception of Swerve, as it becomes the most inviting part of the entire film. Creating rhyming poetry that has a genuine purpose and a profound effect on those involved can be challenging, but this team has managed to create something meaningful beyond the visuals, something that surely resonates with viewers.

Swerve is powerful, full of passion, energetic, honest, and relatable. It never loses its vigor, and it never loses focus–keeping viewers intrigued from beginning to end. It’s smooth sailing throughout the course of Swerve, and anyone that has time to watch this short documentary will certainly gain something positive along the way.

Directed by Lynne Sachs.

Starring Emmy Catedral, Ray Ferriera, Paolo Javier, Jeff Preiss, Inney Prakash, & Juliana Sass.

Camden International Film Festival Unveils 2022 Lineup / Variety

Camden International Film Festival, an Oscar Campaign Hotspot, Unveils 2022 Lineup (EXCLUSIVE)
Variety
By Addie Morfoot
August 22, 2022
https://variety.com/2022/film/news/camden-international-film-festival-2022-1235346757/

The 18th edition of the Camden Intl. Film Festival, kicking off Sept. 15, will feature a handful of award-contending documentaries fresh off showings at Telluride and the Toronto film festivals. The Maine-based festival will unfold in a hybrid format, with both in-person events over a three-day period concluding Sept. 18, and online screenings available from Sept. 15 to Sept. 25 to audiences across North America.

This year’s CIFF highlights include the U.S. premiere of Tamana Ayazi and Marcel Mettelsiefen’s Netflix release “In Her Hands,” which follows one of Afghanistan’s first female mayors during the months leading up to the Taliban takeover the country in 2021; Chris Smith’s “Sr.,” centered on the life and career of Robert Downey Sr. and his relationship to his son, Robert Downey Jr.; and Steve James’ “A Compassionate Spy,” about Manhattan Project physicist, Soviet spy and University of Chicago alum Theodore Hall. Each of the three featured documentaries will have made its world premiere before CIFF, at festivals in Toronto, Telluride and Venice, respectively.

The fest will also offer a special sneak preview of Patricio Guzman’s “My Imaginary Country,” which chronicles the recent protests in Chile in which millions took to the street to demand democracy, dignity, and a new constitution.

It is also teasing “a special secret screening” which will be the opening night film, with little additional information besides the fact that it is a new film by an Academy Award-winning director that will be in attendance.

Located in a small, remote village on the coast of Maine that is two hours from a major airport, CIFF has become an Oscar campaign hotspot in recent years. Last year, Oscar contending docus including “The Rescue” (Nat. Geo), “Procession” (Netflix), “Ascension” (MTV Documentaries), and “Flee” (Neon) all screened at CIFF, where the who’s who of the doc community — including Oscar winner Alex Gibney, Cinetic Media founder and principal John Sloss and former Sundance Institute CEO Keri Putnam – come to celebrate the fest.

“Much of our slate this year will be brand new to audiences in the U.S. or North America, and one of the greatest things we can do as a festival is to build buzz and momentum for (films) here,” says Ben Fowlie, executive and artistic director of the Points North Institute and founder of CIFF. “This means getting filmmakers to Maine for their in-person screenings and connecting them with attending industry and press.”

All told, the 2022 fest will include 34 features and 40 short films from over 41 countries. Over 60% of the entire program is directed or co-directed by BIPOC filmmakers; this is the sixth consecutive edition that the festival has reached gender parity within the program.

“This year’s program celebrates the diversity of voices and forms in documentary and cinematic nonfiction,” says Fowlie. “This year’s program emphasizes the international that represents the ‘I’ in CIFF and reminds us time and again of the limitless creative potential and potency of the documentary form.”

Alex Pritz’s “The Territory,” Reid Davenport’s “I Didn’t See You There,” and Margaret Brown’s “Descendant” are among the Sundance 2022 docus screening at CIFF. Jason Kohn’s “Nothing Lasts Forever,” which premiered at the Berlin Intl. Film Festival in February and Jennifer Tiexiera and Camilla Hall’s “Subject,” which debuted at Tribeca Festival in June, are also part of this year’s lineup.

“We were drawn to films that were aesthetically and politically urgent, that transformed us and that transported us somewhere new as viewers,” says Fowlie. “We are always looking for films and filmmakers that are taking creative risks and pushing the boundaries of traditional cinematic language with bold, singular visions. For all of the selected work, it is important for us to have an understanding of the film and filmmaker’s relationships with the communities, contributors, and collaborators involved.”

A program of Points North Institute, CIFF will also present two world premieres: Mike Day’s “Cowboy Poets,” about American national cowboy poetry gatherings and “Lily Frances Henderson’s “This Much We Know,” about the investigation of Las Vegas teenager Levi Presley’s suicide, which leads to the story of a city with the highest suicide rate in the country, and a nation scrambling to bury decades of nuclear excess in a nearby mountain.

The festival will present seven North American premieres, including “Foragers” by Jumana Manna, recent Locarno premieres “It Is Night in America” by Ana Vaz and Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s “Matter Out of Place,” as well as “Polaris” by Ainara Vera, which premiered at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.

In honor of Diane Weyermann, the industry veteran and former chief content officer at Participant who died in October 2021, CIFF will screen several of the last films she executive produced, including James’ “A Compassionate Spy,’ Geeta Gandbhir and Sam Pollard’s “Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power” and Margaret Brown’s “Descendant.”

For the third consecutive year, CIFF will present its filmmaker solidarity fund. The fund will provide $300 honoraria to all feature and short filmmaking teams participating in the virtual festival. This year also marks the return of in-person panels and masterclasses through the festival’s Points North Forum program, which will feature conversations around the ethics of film financing, an exploration of experimental filmmaking about the climate, a masterclass led by veteran editor Maya Daisy Hawke and a special performance lecture on sensorial cinema led by award-winning Iranian artist Maryam Tafakory.

The forum program will conclude with a “town hall” gathering of the documentary community following the screening of “Subject,” which explores the life-altering experience of documenting one’s life on screen through the participants of five acclaimed docus.

The 2022 festival will run concurrently with Points North Artist Programs, a fellowship that supports early- and mid-career filmmakers. This year 21 projects will be supported through four fellowship programs.

A complete list of the program’s features and short can be found below.

Features Program

“5 Dreamers and the Horse”
“A Compassionate Spy”
“After Sherman”
“All Of Our Heartbeats Are Connected Through Exploding Stars”
“All That Breathes”
“Burial”
“Cowboy Poets”
“Crows Are White”
“Day After… “
“Descendant”
“Detours”
“Dos Estaciones”
“Foragers”
“Geographies of Solitude”
“Herbaria”
“I Didn’t See You There”
“In Her Hands”
“It Is Night in America”
“Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power”
“Matter Out of Place”
“My Imaginary Country”
“Nothing Lasts Forever”
“Polaris”
“Rewind & Play”
“SR.”
“Subject”
“Terranova”
“The Afterlight”
“The Territory”
“This Much We Know”
“What We Leave Behind”

Shorts Program

“Aralkum”
“The Ark”
“The Artists”
“Belongings”
“Bigger on the Inside”
“Brave”
“Call Me Jonathan”
“Congress of Idling Persons”
“Constant”
“Dapaan”
“Deerfoot of the Diamond”
“Echolocation”
“Everything Wrong and Nowhere to Go”
“Fire in the Sea”
“The Family Statement”
“The Flagmakers”
“Irani Bag”
“La Frontiere”
“Handbook”
“Life Without Dreams”
“Lungta”
“Masks”
“Moune O”
“Murmurs of the Jungle”
“My Courtyard”
“Nazarbazi”
“One Survives by Hiding”
“Pacman”
“Paradiso”
“Seasick”
“Solastalgia”
“Somebody’s Hero”
“The Sower of Stars”
“Subtotals”
“Swerve”
“Unsinkable Ship”
“Weckuwapok”
“Weckuwapasihit”
“When the LAPD Blows Up Your Neighborhood”

QUEENS ON SCREEN: SWERVE / ENTRE NOS / This Week In New York


QUEENS ON SCREEN: SWERVE / ENTRE NOS
This Week In New York
By Mark Rifkin
July 13, 2022
https://twi-ny.com/2022/07/13/queens-on-screen-swerve-entre-nos/

ENTRE NOS (Paola Mendoza & Gloria La Morte, 2009) / SWERVE (Lynne Sachs, 2022)
Museum of the Moving Image
35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria
Friday, July 15, 7:15, and Sunday, July 17, 1:30, $15
718-777-6800
movingimage.us

The Astoria-based Museum of the Moving Image’s monthly “Queens on Screen” series — which is not about royalty or LGBTQIA+ issues but comprises films set in one of the most diverse areas on the planet — continues July 15 and 17 with two works set in the borough. Up first is Lynne Sachs’s seven-minute Swerve, in which artist and curator Emmy Catedral, blaqlatinx multidisciplinary artist ray ferreira, director and cinematographer Jeff Preiss, film curator and programmer Inney Prakash, and actor Juliana Sass recite excerpts from Pilipinx poet Paolo Javier’s O.B.B. (Nightboat, November 2021, $19.95).

Illustrated by Alex Tarampi and Ernest Concepcion, the book, which stands for Original Brown Boy, consists of such sections as “Aren’t You a Mess,” “Goldfish Kisses,” “Restrained by Time,” and “Last Gasp.” New Yorkers Catedral, ferreira, Preiss, Prakash, and Sass share Javier’s words as they wander around Moore Homestead Playground and Elmhurst’s HK Food Court. “The words each operate on their own swerve, from music that would play in the background and from overheard conversation outside my window, on the subway, at the local Korean deli,” Javier says at the beginning, writing in a notebook.

The film was shot in one day in August 2021, during the Delta wave of Covid-19, so many people are wearing masks, and the food court is nearly empty; when Prakash orders, a plastic sheet separates him from the employee. The performers recite the poems as if engaging in free-flowing speech; words occasionally appear on the screen, including “free emptiness,” “unknown thoroughfare,” and “hum your savage cabbage leaf.”

Experimental documentarian Sachs (Film About a Father Who, Investigation of a Flame), who was the subject of a career retrospective at MoMI last year, captures the unique rhythm of both Javier’s language and the language of Queens; Javier and Sachs will be at the museum to discuss the film after the July 15 screening.

Swerve will be followed by Paola Mendoza and Gloria La Morte’s Entre Nos, a deeply personal semiautobiographical story in which Mendoza stars as a Colombian immigrant whose husband deserts her, leaving her to raise two children in Queens. The film is shot by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Bradford Young (Arrival, Selma), who makes the borough its own character.

In a director’s note, Mendoza explains, “Throughout my childhood my mother worked countless double-shifts at the toilet bowl cleaners business and flipping burgers at local fast food restaurants near me. We never talked about the roaches in the house or the yearning to see our family back in the country and culture of Colombia. Instead we had to learn to smile through the grit, the trial of tears, and dealing with heartache. As the years passed, I came to a sublime new realization that our story was not unique. Thousands of immigrant mothers, for hundreds of years, have endured problems when trying to adapt to their new immigration in the USA. My mother, like those before her, have overcome all that remains for exactly the same reason, to build the foundation for a better life for their children.”

Lynne Sachs & Paolo Javier on ‘Swerve’ / WBAI-FM Cat Radio Café


Lynne Sachs & Paolo Javier on ‘Swerve’ (a film)
WBAI-FM Cat Radio Café
Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer
July 12, 2022
https://www.wbai.org/upcoming-program/?id=5951
Listen: https://wbai.org/archive/program/episode/?id=33029


Cat Radio Cafe

Tue, Jul 12, 2022 9:00 PM

LYNNE SACHS & PAOLO JAVIER ON ‘SWERVE” (A FILM)

FILMMAKER LYNNE SACHS AND POET PAOLO JAVIER ON THEIR NEW FILM “SWERVE”

On tonight’s show, we’ll be joined by filmmaker Lynne Sachs and poet Paolo Javier to discuss their collaboration on Lynne’s docu-film Swerve, set in the Hong Kong Food Court and a near-by playground in Elmhurst, Queens and inspired by and scripted with lines from Javier’s poetry collection O.B.B., aka The Original Brown Boy.

Lynne Sachs makes films that embrace hybrid forms and cross-disciplinary collaborations incorporating the essay, collage, performance, documentary and  poetry. With each project, she investigates the connection between the body, the camera and the materiality of film itself. She has appeared here a number of times to discuss a number of her previous films, including Your Day is My Night, The Washing Society, and Film About A Father Who.

Paolo Javier describes his latest book O.B.B. – the inspiration for Swerve — as a “weird post-colonial techno dream-pop comics poem.” It was published in 2021 by Nightbook Press.  He has since produced three albums of sound poetry with Listening Center and was the recipient of a 2021 Rauschenberg Foundation Artist grant. From 2010-2014 he was Poet Laureate of Queens.

Hong Kong Food Court in Elmhurst is a gathering spot for immigrant and working class people from the neighborhood.

After premiering at the 2022 BAM Cinema Fest, Swerve will screen July 15&17th at the Museum of the Moving Image as part of the Queens on Screen series.

Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer

‘Swerve’ in Shorts 9: Skin I’m In / Chicago Underground Film Festival

Shorts 9: Skin I’m In
Chicago Underground Film Festival
July 6, 2022
https://cuff29.eventive.org/schedule/62ab91e07f0b04006863ac10


SHORTS 9: SKIN I’M IN

Swerve

Wearing the tell-tale masks of our daunting now, five NYC performers search for a meal in a Queens market while speaking in verse. A meditation on writing and making images in the liminal space between a global pandemic and what might come next. Inspired by the writing of Filipino-America poet Paolo Javier.

Showings:
Sun, Jul 31st, 4:30 PM @ Logan Theatre

Year: 2022                                                       Director: Lynne A. Sachs
Runtime: 7 minutes                                      Screenwriter: Pablo Javier
Language: English, Tagalog                        Cast: Inney Prakash, Ray Ferriera,
Country: United States                                           Jeff Preiss, Juliana Sass,
Premiere: Chicago Premiere                                 Caredral


Counter Compositions – Truth to Material

This work started with a single reel of B/W silent film.
This found footage having been disassociated from its intention raises questions about the unseen and forgotten aspects of workers lives and technological histories.
The images focus on the bodies and gestures of the persons working within this factory environment.

Showings:
Sun, Jul 31st, 4:30 PM @ Logan Theatre

Year: 2022                                                       Filmmaker: Simon Rattigan
Runtime: 14 minutes
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom


Amnesia

I get rid of memories selectively, as a form of self-salvation. A playback of the episodes I have lived renders no clue of who I think I am in the present. I guess many “me” reside in different parts of my memory. And the me of the present chooses to eliminate one of them.

Like the replicant interrogated in Blade Runner, the person I am now is subjected to the scathing gaze of others. And now he decides to disintegrate his existential consciousness, by sending that of the past into exile, to the horizon where it truly belongs.

Showings:
Sun, Jul 31st, 4:30 PM @ Logan Theatre

Year: 2020                                                       Filmmaker: Yan Zhou
Runtime: 6 minutes
Language: English, Mandarin Chinese
Country: China, United States
Premiere: US Premiere


Fraktura

Fraktura is an abstract horror evoking a unique German expressionist atmosphere. Featuring lead type from the Gutenberg Museum (Mainz) and printing blocks from the Hatch Show Print (Nashville), the typographic forms, printed directly on 35mm film, move to the rhythm of an original score performed on a church organ.

Showings:
Sun, Jul 31st, 4:30 PM @ Logan Theatre

Year: 2021                                                       Director: Judith Poireir
Runtime: 5 minutes                                      Producer: Judith Poirier
Country: Canada, Germany                        Music: Jean-François Gauthier
Premiere: US Premiere


For Haruko

“I made this film for the artist Haruko Tanaka. It is footage I shot in the summer of 2018 when I was in residence at the Putnam Cottage at MacDowell, a studio Haruko had worked in the winter before. I often thought of her in the month I was there. Haruko passed a few months after I returned; I made this film in her memory.” – Lee Anne Schmitt

Showings:
Sun, Jul 31st, 4:30 PM @ Logan Theatre

Year: 2021                                                       Director: Lee Anne Schmitt
Runtime: 10 minutes                             Screenwriter: Lee Anne Schmitt
Language: English                                         Producer: Lee Anne Schmitt
Country: United States
Premiere: World Premiere


A City w/o A Map

signal communications proliferate across borders.
incongruent shapes subtracted from form.
fractal topographies without document.

Showings:
Sun, Jul 31st, 4:30 PM @ Logan Theatre

Year: 2021                                                       Director: Josh Weissbach
Runtime: 8 minutes                                      Producer: Josh Weissbach
Language: English
Country: United States, Cuba, Israel
Premiere: US Premiere


Nullo

A fascinating portrait of an individual with penis dysmorphia who appears to be much happier and content without the very appendage that provides many men – especially gay men – with their entire raison d’être. (Bruce LaBruce)
read full text: https://www.sixpackfilm.com/en/catalogue/2679/

Showings:
Sun, Jul 31st, 4:30 PM @ Logan Theatre

Year: 2021                                                       Director: Jan Soldat
Runtime: 16 minutes
Language: German
Country: Australia, Germany
Premiere: Midwest Premiere


Incantation

A serendipitous ritual of memory
Colliding archives of body and place
A cine-incantation to freedom and (be)longing

Showings:
Sun, Jul 31st, 4:30 PM @ Logan Theatre

Year: 2021                                                       Filmmaker: Kalpana Subramanian
Runtime: 9 minutes
Language: English
Country: United States, India


A.I. Mama

A young programmer attempts to resurrect their lost mother by building an A.I. with human memories

Showings:
Sun, Jul 31st, 4:30 PM @ Logan Theatre

Year: 2020                                                       Director: Asuka Lin
Runtime: 5 minutes                                      Screenwriter: Asuka Lin
Country: United States                                 Producer: Giuliana Foulkes
Premiere: Midwest Premiere                     Cast: Reinabe


Logan Theatre
2646 N. Milwaukee Avenue
July 31, 2022, 4:30 – 6:30 PM CDT
Get directions · More events at venue

QUEENS ON SCREEN: Entre Nos + Swerve / Museum of the Moving Image


QUEENS ON SCREEN: Entre Nos + Swerve
Museum of the Moving Image
June 28, 2022
Screenings on July 15 & 17, 2022
https://movingimage.us/series/queens-on-screen/
https://movingimage.us/event/entre-nos-swerve/2022-07-15/

QUEENS ON SCREEN

Ongoing

Originally launched under the stars in 2020 at the celebrated Queens Drive-In at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, MoMI’s Queens on Screen series comes home to the Redstone Theater for a monthly program spotlighting films set or filmed in our home borough of Queens, New York. From early silent films shot at Astoria’s legendary Paramount studios, whose history is entwined with this very Museum; to productions shot at various local studios that have proliferated in recent years; to films shot on the iconic streets, parks, waterways, airports, apartments, and storefronts of the borough—sometimes with Queens playing itself, sometimes disguised—to the Queens of the imagination, the borough is represented at a fanciful or dystopic slant in ways that only cinema is capable of. The series will also showcase films made by Queens-born and Queens-based artists, representing a diversity of form, subject, genre, maker, and era, all illustrating, exploring, and exemplifying the most diverse community in the world. 


Entre Nos + Swerve

Friday, Jul 15 at 7:15 PM
Sunday, Jul 17 at 1:30 PM
Location: Bartos Screening Room

Part of Queens on Screen

July 15: With filmmakers Paolo Javier and Lynne Sachs in person 

Dir. Paola Mendoza and Gloria La Morte. 2009, 81 mins. In Spanish with English subtitles. With Paola Mendoza, Sebastian Villada, Laura Montana Cortez, Anthony Chisholm. Newly arrived in New York City and deserted by her husband, Mariana (Mendoza) must find a way to financially and emotionally provide for her family in a strange city where she barely speaks the language. Directed by and starring the extraordinary Mendoza, Entre Nos is a tale of love, family, and a woman’s defiant pursuit of stability, set and filmed in Queens and featuring remarkable visual texture by Academy Award–nominated cinematographer Bradford Young (Arrival).

Preceded by: Swerve

Dir. Lynne Sachs. 2022, 7 mins. With performances by Emmy Catedral, Ray Ferriera, Jeff Preiss, Inney Prakash, and Juliana Sass. Five New York City performers search for a meal at a market in Queens, New York, while speaking in verse. Inspired by Paolo Javier’s Original Brown Boy poems, Swerve becomes an ars poetica/cinematica, a meditation on writing and making images in the liminal space between a global pandemic and what might come next.

Tickets: $15 / $11 senior and students / $9 youth (ages 3–17) / Free or discounted ($11) for MoMI members. Order online. Please pick up tickets at the Museum’s admissions desk upon arrival. All seating is general admission. Review safety protocols before your visit.


Eric Hynes (Curator of Film), Lynne Sachs, Paolo Javier, Emmy Catedral, Inney Prekash at Screening of Swerve at the Museum of the Moving Image.   

Photo by Camila Galaz
Paolo Javier, Emmy Catedral, Lynne Sachs, Inney Prekash

REVIEW: SWERVE (SHORT FILM, 2022) / Movie-Blogger.com

REVIEW: SWERVE (SHORT FILM, 2022)
Movie-Blogger.com
By Paul Emmanuel Enicola
June 24, 2022
https://www.movie-blogger.com/review-swerve-short-film-2022/

Experimental filmmaker Lynne Sachs’ latest outing, “Swerve,” begins with a shot of a street in Queens, followed shortly by a voiceover spoken in Tagalog. As the next shot features the famed Hong Kong Food Court in Elmhurst, the voiceover continues.

“‘Mi Ultimo Adios‘, ayon kay Original Brown Boy” (“‘Mi Ultimo Adios’, according to the Original Brown Boy”).

This nod to one of the most famous poems written by Philippine national hero Jose Rizal before his death makes sense. Rizal was, after all, lamenting the need for his countrymen to learn from the past to see how to move forward. And Sachs’ source for this film, Philippine-born poet Paolo Javier, yearns for those same tenets.

Based on the words by Javier from his book “OBB” (acronym for ‘Original Brown Boy’); “Swerve” sees filmmaker Lynne Sachs on a regular Tuesday directing this 7-minute short. Equal parts experimental, incisive, and introspective; the film works as a quick examination of one’s identity—and how it stacks up to their endless dreams.

In 2015, The New Yorker featured a profile on Paolo Javier, who served as poet laureate of Queens from 2010 to 2014. It, however, prefaced the profile with an interesting piece of information: More languages are spoken in Queens than in any place of comparable size on earth.

This explains “Swerve’s” unconventional structure. Then again, With Sachs behind the camera, this should surprise no one. What’s interesting to note is the filmmaker’s reaction upon reading Javier’s book for the first time. Sachs had stated that she began hearing the lines in her head; some of the verses, she said, played out with people walking through a food court full of distinct restaurant kiosks and stalls. And to support The New Yorker’s observation, the Hong Kong Food Court in Elmhurst has long served as a gathering spot for immigrant and working class people from the neighborhood.

Javier, for his part, knew that poetry is an artistic expression to be shared as a gift. He himself believed that being a poet laureate does not involve any monetary compensation at all; on the contrary, it’s a privilege for one to be able impart poetry to others.

Sachs manages to translate Javier’s attempt to deconstruct the modern Filipinx identity; and through the latter’s words, the expressions of passion, ambition, and the search for identity overflow.

In a world—all the more compounded by the global pandemic—where people still repress their self-expression for fear of ridicule, “Swerve” gets its message across loud and clear. As it nears its end, the film exhorts the audience: “Give. Love. Want. Fight.”

“Adore your endless monologue.”

If that call to action isn’t enough encouragement, then I don’t know what is.

Directed by Lynne Sachs, “Swerve” will have its world premiere on June 26th at BAMcinemaFest.

BAMcinemafest 2022 Interview: Lynne Sachs and Paolo Javier on Crafting a Clever Turn of Phrase with “Swerve” / The Moveable Fest

BAMcinemafest 2022 Interview: Lynne Sachs and Paolo Javier on Crafting a Clever Turn of Phrase with “Swerve”
The Moveable Fest
By Stephen Saito
June 24, 2022
https://moveablefest.com/lynne-sachs-paolo-javier-swerve/

Lynne Sachs showed a rough cut of her latest film “Swerve” to her mother, wanting to test out whether the meaning of words would come out even if she didn’t understand all the language when a bit of Tagalog is thrown into the mix of the mostly English-language short.

“I wanted her to think about them and allow herself to play and to hear this phrase or that phrase and how it’s iterated,” said Sachs, who teamed with the poet Paolo Javier on a film in which the rhythm of the verses taken from his latest collection “O.B.B. aka The Original Brown Boy” create an infectious energy that overtakes whatever strict definition they have. In the heart of Queens at the HK Food Market where the food court may be pan-Asian, but the cultural stew of customers is even more diverse, Sachs and Javier make a meal out of zipping around table to table where a pandemic may have kept some customers away, but as people begin feeling their way back into the world, the sensations of reconnecting are conveyed in phrases that may come across as nonsequiturs individually but coalesce into something greater as the feeling behind intonations and delivery transcend the statements themselves. Blurring the lines between what’s indoors and outdoors as the film traverses the mall and the park just outside, “Swerve” elicits the interior lives of its ensemble as they go about their daily lives but allow one to see the beauty in making it another day.

With “Swerve” making its world premiere this weekend at the BAMCinemaFest, Sachs and Javier graciously reteamed to talk about emerging from the pandemic to shoot the eight-minute short and turning verbal poetry into a cinematic language while making other choices about what to translate and what not to.

How did this come about?

Paolo Javier: I’ve known Lynne for quite a while now and in terms of the pandemic, time has been really altered forever right, so I’m hanging onto all those seconds I’ve known Lynne and doubling the length. [laughs] I’m a big admirer of hers and we just clicked as friends. Lynne also is a poet and for this particular film, I had a book that was forthcoming and I asked Lynne if she would like to collaborate on something to occasion the release of the book. It could be really any form that she wants to take. I didn’t expect it being the film that Lynne ended up making, and I say this with awe and astonishment and just deep humility because I’m just over the moon. Every time I watch “Swerve,” I get something new from it. But [initially it was] the idea of doing something low-key and not necessarily elaborate, and collaborations take a life of their own.

Lynne Sachs: I just adore the way that Paolo puts words together, and the way that he listens in a parallel fashion to a documentary maker because you’re always soaking up the world, but as an experimental filmmaker, you listen to the world, and in this case, you observe with your ears, but then you allow yourself to rearrange the words to become more aware of their meaning outside or beyond or even within reality. One of the things that I wanted to do with this film was to examine what it meant to write poetry within a pandemic and specifically in a place that was a vortex of some of the worst hit communities, at least in the United States. That was Elmhurst, Queens, which that market you saw [in the film] was much more thriving than it is now before the pandemic. And in that community, there were so many languages, I started to think about, “Okay, you have Spanish, you have Chinese, you have Tagalog — so many different ways that different communities communicate and then you have poetry. [So I wondered] Can poetry be a language? Why does poetry always have to be part of a remove from the quotidian? And my goal was to make poetry quotidian, not just available or accessible or understandable, but more like let’s celebrate all the languages and then there’s this one which is Paolo Javier’s poetry language – it’s not just any poetry, but it’s his poetry. So I said could people speak in Javier?

Lynne, were you free at first to take Paolo’s words and run with them in terms of finding corresponding images or did you work together on that?

Lynne Sachs: I would say the images were my idea and I decided to do it in the Hong Kong Food Market, mostly because [Paolo] introduced me to it. Paolo was, for four years, the Queens poet laureate, so he got to know all the restaurants and he knows everyone. Food is a big part of our family’s relationship. We eat meals together, so it has to be about food, but not just look at these pretty plates and take pictures. It has to be eating. And we were supposed to shoot the whole film in that market, but then something called the Delta Variant came in and we almost canceled the whole thing. [The shoot] was pretty challenging to coordinate, and I’m actually glad that we have the masks in it because it’s more about now. We didn’t have to fake it.

For Paolo, I’m guessing the words were locked in, but was the meaning of them changing as this unfolded?

Paolo Javier: Yeah, I was hoping for the language to take a life of its own, especially as it’s spoken, uttered, performed by our individual actors, and one of the great experiences I have of watching “Swerve” is how much of a Lynne Sachs film it is. I really feel like I’m just a bit part in it, that it’s my poems that are being performed, but it’s its own thing and that’s what you hope for. The language that’s uttered by the actors, they’re performing sonnets — Shakespearean sonnets for that matter, so you have this tension between old form, but it’s not these are rhyming poems and the syntax is not really syntax, it’s more like parataxes where the word order is really slippery. There’s a lot of slippage just within the lines. So what I was really hoping was that the actors were not terrified by this poetry and they could really make it their own. Because it’s Lynne Sachs directing this, I think they knew what they were signing onto and made it their own within the space of HK Food Court in Elmhurst and also the space that Lynne gave them.

Lynne Sachs: Actually, Paolo, there’s a little bit of Tagalog in the film. What does that mean to you?

Paolo Javier: Well, this is actually something we discussed. Do we translate the Tagalog that appears in the film? I’m all for having captions, just for accessibility, but then this became an aesthetic consideration of do we include a translation of Tagalog. Lynne made the call to not translate it and as a sound poet, I have to respect that. Language is an aural experience, but [especially] pre-Hispanic, Filipino poetry is an aural experience, so to hear Tagalog spoken and experienced as a sound in a film that really asks you to open up your experience of language and poetry, I feel was a really daring decision, and aesthetically, it just makes sense. Legibility is always something that artists think about, some more than others, but this film came about in anticipation of a launch of a book of mine, an experimental comics book and the aim of the book when I was making it was to really blur the lines between poetry and comics, so I really feel that decision of not having Tagalog be translated is Lynne really taking the next step in terms of making a cinepoem, [where] it’s not a film striving to illustrate a poem.

Lynne Sachs: I did want to extract certain words and phrases and put them on screen. That was fun.

Paolo Javier: And Lynne shared several edits of this film and the decision to translate or not translate Tagalog comes out of the various edits that Lynne was making. This is what I love about cinema is just how hands on and how tactile all the elements are and that’s the kind of poet that I am with language. Lynne shared with me several versions of this film and asked what my opinion was and she was very generous to include me.

Lynne Sachs: Very precise notes. Very good notes.

You mentioned this quotidian idea of poetry before and in a literal sense, there’s a flow to the visual language, but you keep it grounded. What was it like to figure out?

Lynne Sachs: Maybe I can talk a little bit about the actors because this text is pretty intimidating and there’s an old fashioned term in theater like oh you have to memorize your lines. This text is pretty intimidating — and only one person in the group really was capable of it — but I really liked their awkwardness [generally]. I like that they don’t own it and one guy who wrote it on his hands and you wouldn’t even see it, one wrote it on his mask. You would say it was on book [in film parlance], but also we are talking about something that comes from a book, so we want to say this is about reading. Paolo actually used a term when we were talking the film, “Ars Poetica” cinematically because it tells you about the ways that cinema or poetry picks up on how we conduct our lives, but then we’re given permission to rework it and throw it into a soup that doesn’t have a recipe. I really thought that was similar.

How did you end up with your ensemble?

Lynne Sachs: I’ll start with Inney Prakash — Paolo and I met Inney for the first time on Zoom in May of 2020 and we were supposed to teach a film and poetry workshop at Maysles Documentary Center and then the pandemic happened. And what’s incredible is [Inney] had just moved to New York and to have such a major impact on this city is amazing, so I had met him there and then he did his [virtual] film festival, Prismatic Ground, and when I saw him in the little box [on screen] when he was being a host, I thought he had a nice charisma and presence, so I asked him if he wanted to be in the film. I didn’t know that Inney is a professional actor basically — it’s not his main interest or commitment, but he’s been in theater and some film, so he came totally prepared. And Juliana Sass is someone I’ve known since she was a little baby and I think she’s a great actor. I always wanted to have her in a film and her mom is a good friend of mine, so I asked her to be in it and then I knew Jeff Preiss, a renowned filmmaker and a big supporter of independent film. He shot “Let’s Get Lost,” which was a classic on the ‘80s on Chet Baker, so I’ve admired lots of his work, but I almost could’ve guessed that he never did anything in front of the camera and out of the blue Paolo asked me if I happened to know Jeff…

Paolo Javier: Because during the pandemic, I was working at a different job as a curator and program director working from home remotely and while I’d assemble my programs, I’d just watch what films of Jeff Preiss I could just find online. At one point, I just kept rewatching his video of the REM song “Near Wild Heaven” and snippets of “Let’s Get Lost” and whatever I could find and I always have music or cinema on to sustain me, so I don’t get stuck. And when it came time to cast, I just asked Lynne, “do you know Jeff?” And I never would’ve imagined or even ever dared to ask Jeff [to be in the film], so that was Lynne’s idea.

Lynne Sachs: [Paolo] just wanted to know, “Do you know Jeff Preiss?” And [Jeff] burst out laughing when I asked him to do it. But I liked that. That’s one of the interesting things that happens in New York is that people wear different hats and you can be fluidly part of someone’s community and if you’re not very good at playing the piano, but a little good, then you can do it in the way that you don’t know it, but you’re into doing it.

Paolo Javier: Yeah, I never once doubted that Lynne would just engage all the performers in a meaningful way, just because I’ve seen what she’s done in her previous films. “Your Days, My Night” is one of my all-time favorite films, period and for Lynne to have assembled a crew and direct all of those performances in that film, [I thought] this film is a piece of cake. [laughs] And the other performers, Emmey Catedral and ray ferriera are from Queens and they’re both familiar with the park that is the other location of this film, so it was really important to include both in this film for that fact that they’re locals and this is a space that they frequented, but also they’re artists. They’re both good friends of mine who I participated in the Queens Biennial with in 2018, and there’s so much in the DNA of this film that’s in the DNA of other aspects of the location, so it’s really great that both said yes.

When this was filmed in the summer of 2021, what was it like getting together for a film as you’re coming out of quarantine?

Lynne Sachs: That’s probably the most important question of all, really, at that moment in all of our lives. As the director, it was a major responsibility and I was a little scared for myself to be in this group dynamic, but I was even more scared because I was asking people to do something that could’ve compromised them. I was scared because I didn’t want to put anybody in a situation where they would either feel pressured or nervous or that they might get COVID, so some of them were willing to not wear the mask indoors and we were super strict.

Paolo Javier: Yeah, we had these deliberations several times and when Lynne made the call to do it, [she] had made an earlier call to pause it, and then said, “No, let’s just do it.” And following through was contingent on how we all felt when everybody gathered. It’s when we all got together and we were all outside of the space and just checked in to see how we were all feeling. That was empowering for me [because] you always take a risk, and it’s a legitimate consideration and a concern, but I trusted Lynne and I trusted everybody [else].

Lynne Sachs: We gave everybody a low pressure option not to show up.

Paolo Javier: Yes, that was really important. But they all showed up and I think they were excited and the shoot started off rainy and grey and drizzly and then the sun came out later in the afternoon and the community was out and it’s just beautiful, what Lynne was able to capture.

Lynne Sachs: One of my favorite moments was the end of the day we were in this playground park and all of a sudden all these middle-aged Filipino men show up and they all had prepared food and they put out this big spread…

Paolo Javier: Yeah, it was a picnic. They had pancit and lumpia and they meet there every Sunday.

Lynne Sachs: And then they offered the food to everyone in our production. That’s like 12 people.

Paolo Javier: They had enough and then some! [laughs]

“Swerve” will screen at BAMCinemafest as part of Shorts Program 2 on June 26th at 1:30 pm.

Short Redhead Reel Reviews for the week of June 24 – ‘Swerve’ / Sun This Week

Short Redhead Reel Reviews for the week of June 24
Sun This Week
By Wendy Schadewald
June 23, 2022
https://www.hometownsource.com/sun_thisweek/free/short-redhead-reel-reviews-for-the-week-of-june-24/article_bad78618-f32e-11ec-a1f2-37945ed3047d.html

Rating system:  (4=Don’t miss, 3=Good, 2=Worth a look, 1=Forget it)
www.shortredheadreelreviews.com

For more reviews, click here

“The Black Phone” (R) (3) [Violence, bloody images,a some drug use, and language.] [Opens June 24 in theaters.] — When a smart, bullied, doggedly determined, 13-year-old baseball pitcher (Mason Thames), who lives with an abusive, alcoholic. widowed father (Jeremy Davies) and his feisty, psychic sister (Madeleine McGraw), who sees visions in her dreams, is kidnapped by a devil-mask-wearing killer (Ethan Hawke) known as the Grabber and held in a soundproof basement in North Denver in 1978 in Scott Derrickson’s taut, original, tension-filled, well-acted, suspenseful, twisting, 102-minute, 2021 thriller based on Joe Hill’s 2004 short story, he quickly starts to receive calls from a disconnected black phone the killer’s previous victims (Tristan Pravong, Miguel Cazarez Mora, Jacob “Gaven” Wilde, Jordan Isaiah White, and Brady Hepner) who give him advice and tips on escaping while detectives (E. Roger Mitchell and Robert Fortunato) search for the missing Colorado students.

“Cured” (NR) (3.5) [Played June 17 as part of AARP’s Movies for Grownups and available on Amazon Prime Video and various VOD platforms.] — Patrick Sammon and Bennett Singer’s gripping, award-winning, eye-opening, educational, powerful, candid, insightful, 80-minute, 2020 documentary that examines homosexuality as a mental illness, the use of various treatments to cure the condition, and the American Psychiatric Association’s decision in 1973 to remove it as a mental disorder in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual” and consists of archival photographs, film clips, and interview snippets with minister and activist Dr. Magora Kennedy, APA Nomenclature Committee member Robert Campbell, psychiatrists (such as Dr. Lawrence Hartmann, Dr. Richard Pillard, Dr. Richard Green, Dr. Charles Socarides [archival footage], Dr. Irving Bieber, Dr. Judd Marmor [archival footage], and Dr. Jerry Lewis [archival footage]), APA CEO and medical director Dr. Saul Levin, psychologist Dr. Evelyn Hooker (archival footage), electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) patients Rick Stokes and Sally Duplaix, photographer and activist Kay Lahusen, writer and activist Gary Alinder, activists Don Kilhefner and Barbara Gittings (voiceover and archival footage), astronomer and activist Dr. Frank Kameny (voiceover and archival footage), journalist and activist Ronald Gold, Dr. Charles Socarides’ son Richard Socarides, Dr. John Fryer’s friend Harry Adamson, Dr. John Fryer (voiceover and archival footage), and psychologist, activist, and former schoolteacher Charles Silverstein.

“Elvis” (PG-13) (3.5) [Suggestive material, smoking, substance abuse, and strong language.] [Opens June 24 in theaters.] — Superb acting, costumes, and makeup dominate Baz Luhrmann’s entertaining, factually inspired, captivating, over-the-top, well-written, star-studded (David Wenham, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anthony LaPaglia, Xavier Samuel, Luke Bracey, Kate Mulvany, and Nicholas Bell), 159-minute biographical film in which legendary, talented, charismatic, gyrating, rock’n’roll singer Elvis Presley grows up as an inquisitive boy (Chaydon Jay) in a Black neighborhood in Tupelo, Miss., with his alcoholic mother (Helen Thomson) and felon father (Richard Roxburgh); Black influences on his music and his rise to fame orchestrated by his dysfunctional relationship as an outspoken singer (Austin Butler) with Carnival-educated, gambling-addicted, duplicitous manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) who cheated him financially for more than 20 years; and his marriage to Priscilla Presley (Olivia DeJonge) who he met overseas while in the Army.

“Escape the Field” (R) (2) [Violence and language.] [Available June 21 on DVD and Blue-Ray.] — After six frightened strangers (Shane West, Jordan Claire Robbins, Theo Rossi, Tahirah Sharif, Elena Juatco, and Julian Feder) suddenly regain consciousness in a remote, perpetual, trap-filled cornfield, which is guarded by a creepy scarecrow, with sirens blaring and left with only a single-bullet gun, a container of matches, a lantern, a knife, a compass, and a flask of water in Emerson Moore’s convoluted, tension-filled, violent, 88-minute psychological thriller with overly dark visuals, they struggle to work together to find a way out while being stalked by a menacing, mysterious creature (Dillon Jagersky) at every turn.

“Fast Five” (R) (3) [Intense sequences of violence and action, sexual content, and language.] [DVD and VOD only] — While a hulking, tenacious, special FBI agent (Dwayne Johnson) and his task force team up with a rookie Brazilian cop (Elsa Pataky) to track down an escaped convict in Brazil after three agents are murdered during a three-car heist from a moving train in this frenetic-paced, action-filled, entertaining film packed with car crashes and stunning choreography, three felon professional drivers (Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Jordana Brewster) and their cohorts (Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Matt Schulze, Sung Kang, Gal-Gadot, et al.) plan an elaborate, dangerous $100 million robbery from a ruthless drug dealer (Joaquim de Almeida) and his henchmen (Michael Irby, et al.) in Rio de Janeiro.

“Jumping the Broom” (PG-13) (2.5) [Some sexual content.] [DVD and VOD only]— Tensions escalate, tempers flare, secrets are revealed, and nuptials are threatened in this engaging, predictable, romantic, star-studded (Julie Brown, T.D. Jakes, Gary Dourdan, Pooch Hall, et al.) click-flick drama when a widowed, feisty postal worker (Loretta Devine) with anger management issues leaves Brooklyn with her best friend (Tasha Smith), her flirty brother-in-law (Mike Epps), and the best man (DeRay Davis) to meet the beautiful fiancée (Paula Patton) her handsome, successful son (Laz Alonso) is about to marry, along with the bride’s wealthy parents (Angela Bassett and Brian Stokes Mitchell) and other wedding guests (Meagan Good, Valarie Pettiford, Romeo, et al.) during a weekend of celebratory festivities before the wedding on Martha’s Vineyard.

“Paid in Blood” (R) (3) [Subtitled] [Available June 26 on various digital platforms.] — Bodies drop like flies in Yoon Youngbin’s gripping, action-packed, fast-paced, dark, blood-soaked, violent, 118-minute, 2021 noir crime thriller with awesome fight choreography in which a ruthless, ambitious, power-hungry, former South Korean assassin (Jang Hyuk) from Seoul pits rival gangs against each other when he decides to challenge powerful, knife-wielding members (Yoo Oh Sung, Oh Dae Hwan, et al.) of a crime ring in 2017 after he learns that they are building the largest casino in Asia in Gangneung, and the crime lord (Kim Se Joon) then puts a target on his back while a Korean lieutenant detective (Park Sung Keun) tries to protect his gangster friend and to control the escalating mayhem and murders.

“Potato Dreams of America” (NR) (3) [Available June 21 on Blu-ray™.] — Wes Hurley’s weird, factually based, award-winning, coming-of-age, arty, twist-filled, wit-dotted, unpredictable, 95-minute, 2021 autobiographical comedy in which a struggling, wannabe-actor, movie-loving, gay student (Hersh Powers/Carter Coonrod) grows up in the USSR in the 1980s with his compassionate, open-minded, prison doctor/actress mother (Sera Barbieri) and ends up as a teenager (Tyler Bocock) moving with her to Seattle to the disappointment of his father (Michael Place) and grandmother (Lauren Tewes) when she becomes a mail-order bride (Marya Sea Kaminski) to a duplicitous, conservative American (Dan Lauria) and finds happiness with various lovers (Nick Sage Palmieri, Cameron Lee Price, Aaron Jin, Bailey Thiel, Dexter Morgenstern, Drew Highlands, Dylan Smith, and Randy Phillips) after he comes out of the closet and is free to be himself.

 “Swedish Auto” (NR) (3) [DVD and VOD only]— A touching, sad, 2006 film in which a shy, music-loving mechanic (Lukas Haas), who works with the kindhearted owner (Lee Weaver) and an African-American mechanic (Christ Williams) at a small-town garage in California, pines for an out-of-reach violinist (Brianne Davis) while getting closer to a beautiful waitress (January Jones) who lives with her mother (Anne Brown) and her abusive, cancer-stricken boyfriend (Tim De Zarn).

 “There Be Dragons” (PG-13) (3) [Violence and combat sequences, some language, and thematic elements.] [DVD and VOD only]— While a journalist (Dougray Scott) travels to Madrid to gather information for a historical epic set against the violent backdrop of the Spanish Civil War in 1918 about the life of St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer (Charlie Fox), who founded the Roman Catholic Opus Dei and was later canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2002, in this poignant, compelling, factually inspired, colorful, 2-hour film highlighted by striking cinematography, he is shocked to learn that his own terminally-ill, estranged father (Wes Bentley) was a childhood friend of the priest who sought peace through the beauty of everyday life, but they became bitter enemies when he fought as a soldier in war-torn Spain and ended up being driven by his jealous anger after becoming smitten with and rejected by a gorgeous Hungarian (Olga Kurylenko) who falls for another Spaniard (Rodrigo Santoro).

“This Prison Where I Live” (NR) (3) [DVD and VOD only] — Veteran documentarian filmmaker Rex Bloomstein narrates his eye-opening, informative, poignant 2010 documentary about popular, feisty, courageous, outspoken standup Burmese comedian, film star, poet, and playwright Zarganar (aka Maung Thura) from Yangon, Burma, who was sentenced by the oppressive military junta in Sept. 2007 to serve 3 weeks in prison for his support of the monks during the Saffron Revolution and again in 2008 to serve 59 years (reduced to 35 years) for his continual satire of the tyrannical government, censorship, life in Burma, and speaking to the press about the government’s shortcomings after Hurricane Nargis; famous standup German comedian Michael Mittermeier joins the filmmaker in a return to Burma to gain further insight to Zarganar’s current plight and to showcase Myitkyina Prison in which he now resides.

“Twisted Roots” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] [DVD and VOD only] — While a suicidal, terminally-ill, Finnish antiques store owner (Pertti Sveholm), who has a free-spirited 16-year-old daughter (Emma Louhivuori) and an imaginative, adopted daughter (Silva Robbins) from China, tries to tell his biological children about his inherited, debilitating, degenerative disease and to reconnect with his estranged adult son (Niko Saarela) and young grandson (Leo Leppäaho) in this gut-wrenching, down-to-earth, 2009 film, his distraught, financially strapped wife (Milka Ahlroth) tries to figure out to raise $150,000 Euros due to the reckless spending of her brother (Jarkko Pajunen) without burdening her husband. 

The following films play June 23-30 at BAMcinemaFest 2022 at BAM Rose Cinemas; for more information, log on to https://www.bam.org/programs/2022/bamcinemafest:

“Actual People” (NR) (2.5)  — Kit Zauhar’s realistic, down-to-earth, low-budget, predictable, 84-minute, 2021 film in which an apathetic, emotionally distraught, anxious, constantly complaining, philosophy major, biracial Asian-American college student (Kit Zauhar), who was dumped by her boyfriend (Randall Palmer) of three years in New York City and then asked by her roommate (Henry Fulton Winship) to move out, wastes time partying and hanging out in bars, engaging in one-night stands, and pursuing an Asian man (Scott Albrecht) from her hometown of Philadelphia rather than trying to keep focused to finish her coursework in order to graduate and make plans for the future and not causing her concerned parents (Shirley Huang and Richard Lyntton) more worry. 

“Alma’s Rainbow” (NR) (3) — When her eccentric, wild, free-spirited lounge singing aunt (Mizan Kirby) unexpectedly shows up after spending 10 years performing in Paris in Ayoka Chenzira’s engaging, multifaceted, well-acted, coming-of-age, humorous, 90-minute, 1993 film highlighted by terrific costumes, a feisty, rebellious, Brooklyn student (Victoria Gabrielle Platt), who gets into trouble with the nuns at the Catholic school, entering puberty gets help and advice from her estranged aunt in her relationship struggles with her strict, conservative, straitlaced salon owner mother (Kim Weston-Moran) and about a boy (Lee Dobson) she likes.

“The Body Is a House of Familiar Rooms” (NR) (3.5) — Stunning imagery dominates Eloise Sherrid and Lauryn Welch’s compelling, colorful, creative, imaginative, artistic, informative, 10-minute, 2021 documentary that intertwines gorgeous artwork by painter Lauryn Welch, live-action footage, and commentary by Eloise Sherrid and girlfriend Lauryn to try describe the day-to-day life of Samuel Geiger who has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which affects connective tissue and nerves in the body that “vibrates with pain” and the smoking of marijuana that partially relieves his symptoms and improves mobility and functionality. 

“Chee$e” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] — After an ambitious, perpetually broke apprentice cheesemaker (Akil Williams) learns his craft from a kindhearted master cheesemaker (Piero Guerini) in Trinidad and Tobago and then discovers that his girlfriend (Yidah Leonard), who is the daughter of a religious restaurant owner (Binta Ford), is pregnant in Damian Marcano’s quirky, award-winning, well-acted, humor-dotted, 105-minute film highlighted by wonderful cinematography, he must abandon his dream of leaving the island and concocts a plan to work with the local drug dealer (Trevison Pantin) to earn money by selling marijuana with his friend (Julio Prince) by hiding it in blocks of cheese while becoming suspicious targets of a tenacious police sergeant (Kevin Ash).

“Crows Are White” (NR) (3) — Amazing cinematography and landscapes highlight Ahsen Nadeem’s captivating, poignant, touching, thought-provoking, educational, 97-minute documentary in which L.A.-based filmmaker goes to mist-enveloped monastery atop Mt. Hiei near Kyoto, Japan, to gain insight, answers, and direction from Tendai “marathon” monks, including head Buddhist monk Kamahori, who put their bodies and minds through unimaginable, tortuous suffering and pain, such as the Kaihōgyō ritual where monks walk 1,000 days without food or sleep, to reach Nirvana, regarding his personal struggles with life and religion and his dishonesty and conflict with his estranged devout-Muslim Pakistani parents who live in Ireland and are unaware of his 3-year marriage to his patient, non-Muslim wife (Dawn Light Blackman) and gains a meaningful friendship with wannabe-sheep-farming, heavy-metal-loving, dessert-obsessed, calligraphy-writing, unorthodox, apprentice monk Ryushin when his is expelled from the 1,200-year-old monastery. 

“The Feeling of Being Close to You” (NR) (3) [Partially subtitled] — Ash Goh Hua’s engaging, heartbreaking, realistic, poignant, heartwarming, 12-minute autobiographical film in which the Singapore filmmaker examines the longtime dysfunction in her family while growing up with her abusive mother she was unable to hug and now tries to connect both physically and emotionally through the use of intimate conversations, phone calls, and videotapes with her distant mother that she was unable to do as a young girl.

“Ferny & Luca” (NR) (1) — The plot takes a backseat in Andrew Infante’s bizarre, slow-paced, award-winning, avant-garde, redundant, low-budget, 70-minute, 2021 film in which a handsome, unemployed, money-strapped Brooklynite (Leonidas Ocampo) falls for a free-spirited, ambitious, wannabe singer DJ (Lauren Kelisha Muller), who commiserates about her troubles with a close friend (Alexa Harrington), but their tumultuous relationship seems to go nowhere. 

“Happer’s Comet” (NR) (1) — Nothing happens in Tyler Taormina’s experimental, nonsensical, dialogue-free, oddball, surreal, dark, 62-minute film that follows an eclectic group of people, including a woman (Gianina Galatro) meeting a lover (Jax Terry) in a cornfield, a dog-walking insomniac (Dan Carolan), an old woman (Grace Berlino) resting at her kitchen table, a driver (Michael Guglielmo) falling asleep at the wheel, a rollerskater (Tim Sullivan) going around the neighborhood, and a rollerblader (Tyler Taormina) traversing the sidewalks, in the middle of the night on Long Island.

“Last Days of August” (NR) (2) — Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck and Robert Machoian’s morose, award-winning, depressing, arty, unexpected, 13-minute documentary that showcases dilapidated stores and broken down vehicles to emphasize the death of small towns in Nebraska as residents discuss their frustration, anger, and helplessness from experiencing the pain of life passing them by and the realization that they are powerless to combat the many things that are making life miserable, which causes some people to turn to religion, crackpot theories, and blaming others, and how big box stores such as Walmart and Costco, the advent of the Internet, and the rise of Amazon have put a dagger in the heart of small towns. 

ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (Udeyonv) (What They’ve Been Taught)” (NR) (3.5) — Awesome scenery and cinematography dominate Brit Hensel’s intriguing, heartwarming, inspirational, educational, 9-minute documentary, which was filmed on the Qualla Boundary in North Carolina and in the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, that examines through storyteller Thomas Belt how the Cherokee people try to be responsible as they live in this world so that it’s a give and take with nature.

“Portal” (NR) (3.5) — Rodney Evans’ captivating, poetic, down-to-earth, poignant, candid, 12-minute documentary that follows single filmmaker Rodney Evans who used striking poetry to stay connected with the outside world and his friend Homay King used other communication venues while she struggled with loneliness and isolation as she recovered from unconfirmed COVID-19 during the pandemic in 2020.

“Shut Up and Paint” (NR) (3) — Titus Kaphar and Alex Mallis’ engaging, award-winning, original, inspirational, 20-minute documentary that showcases the historically relevant paintings of talented African-American artist Titus Kaphar and the futile efforts of art critics to stop the activist who is involved in promoting racial justice and equality from speaking out through his artwork and includes commentary by Yale philosophy professor Jason Stanley.

“Sirens” (NR) (2.5) — Heavy trash metal music highlights Rita Baghdadi’s award-winning, insightful, inspirational, behind-the-scenes, 78-minute vérité style documentary that follows the friendship and struggles of twentysomething songwriters and guitarists Lilas Mayassi, who has a Syrian girlfriend Alaa, and Shery Bechara who cofounded the five-member (guitarist Lilas Mayassi, guitarist Shery Bechara, vocalist Maya Khairallah, bassist Alma Doumani, and drummer Tatyana Boughaba), heavy thrash metal Lebanese band Slave to Sirens in Beirut, Lebanon, amidst political turmoil, explosions, homophobia, ongoing anti-government protests, and culture constraints.

“Swerve” (NR) (3) [Subtitled] — Lynne Sachs’ intriguing, original, arty, well-written, 8-minute film in which performers Emmy Catedral, Ray Ferreira, Inney Prakash, Jeff Preiss, and Juliana Sass recite Paolo Javier’s Original Brown Boy poems from “Nightboat Books” as they wander around a food market and playground in Queens, New York.

“When It’s Good, It’s Good” (NR) (2.5) — Alejandra Vasquez’s educational, disheartening, gritty, down-to-earth, 16-minute documentary in which the filmmaker goes home to Denver City, Texas, to document the ups and downs of the fluctuating oil business and its devastating effect on the West Texas town’s population through interview clips with locals, including district attorney Bill Helwig, truck driver Arturo, teenager Dezy, and housewife Claudia.

“Winn” (NR) (3.5) — Joseph East and Erica Tanamachi’s gripping, educational, surprising, 17-minute documentary that chronicles the valiant efforts of Georgia activist and RestoreHER founder Pamela Winn, who was formerly incarcerated and pregnant, to pass in 2019 the HB345 Dignity Bill to legally stop the solitary confinement and shackling of imprisoned pregnant convicts in Georgia and in 2018 the First Step Act prohibiting shackling of pregnant women on the federal level.

Wendy Schadewald is a Burnsville resident.