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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
in a small, remote village on the coast of Maine that is two hours from a major
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
“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”
“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”
I can’t say I’m all that well versed in interpreting the structural and tonal elements of poetry. But when they’re distilled through the formal elements of cinema, it becomes more understandable to me. Lynne Sachs’ “Swerve” (2022) is heavily informed and inspired by the poetry of Filipino immigrant and former Queens-resident Paolo Javier, particularly those in his book O.B.B. (Original Brown Boy). Mixing the free-flowing and expressionistic words of Javier with several characters hanging around food hall stalls, a park, and basketball courts, Sachs gives a strangely hypnotic look at a time during the pandemic when people were okay with going outside and being among others but still encased in a bubble with their own thoughts.
The seven-minute experimental film begins in the Hong Kong Food Court in Elmhurst, Queens. One character (played by Inney Prakash) converses with a kid about his favorite school activities. He then goes around looking at the offerings at the stalls and recites lines from Javier’s poems. Another character (played by Jeff Preiss) reads more lines while sitting on a bench in the Moore Homestead Playground, located across the street from the food court. Others (played by ray ferriera, Emmy Catedral, and Juliana Sass) converse in various places within this small enclave during the film. This patch of Queens is like a microcosm of the world. All the dialogue recited in the film, both in Tagalog and English, serves a basis for exploring the way that human connection changed because of the pandemic.
Maureen Fazendeiro and Miguel Gomes’ The Tsugua Diaries (2021), another wonderful experimental non-fiction made during the pandemic, examined the passage of time in isolation, with a cast and crew maintaining a secluded area that felt detached from the rest of the world. However, the characters in “Swerve”are surrounded by people, and while the culture of Queens remains a unique part of the film and Javier’s poetry, the necessary precautions of the pandemic are everywhere and instantly, globally recognizable. Sachs’ camera, in motion constantly, rolls around, tracks, and dollies to and from its characters. The liveliness of the park and the empty seats at a restaurant offer a glimpse of a transitory period in which the pandemic is ongoing, but the inherent need for other people, for some joy, was bringing life back to Elmhurst.
In “Swerve,” Sachs separates her depiction of the pandemic from other pandemic-related films by considering how our communication with one another shifted in isolation, presenting a new challenge when we went back to socializing. The poetry — recited both on camera and as voiceover — metaphorically stands in for the characters’ internal monologues. Thoughts within our own minds become the new formal ways of keeping a conversation going. When communication is severed for so long, when dialogue doesn’t happen as naturally or as organically anymore, words become puzzles, swerving in our heads until we can make sense of them again. In the film, characters are often observing other people without talking to them. In turn, when a character recites dialogue aloud, others observe them on the peripheries. We hear what these characters have to say, but behind the masks that define the times, we don’t actually see them talking to each other.
Likewise, the film focuses on the two things many of us found solace in to replace our lack of contact with others — art and food. Characters write, eat, hang out, and think through words in poems. To combine these universal elements of social living with the distinct rooted identity of Javier’s poetry is a fascinating experiment. To see the words of a Filipino artist recited by people of different backgrounds makes one consider what being part of the community in Queens means. The film’s formal choices combine two or more elements into one — Tagalog and English language, dialogue and voiceover, conventions of documentary and experimental filmmaking, super 8mm film and digital. At its seams, “Swerve”tries to flow as freely as the writing that inspires it. It is a hard film to grasp on just one watch and it means a lot for a film, in such a short amount of time, to find its way to make sense of jumbled words and new rules of the world we live in using our love for art, food, and identity as guiding stars.
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
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).
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
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.”
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
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 AND POET PAOLO JAVIER ON THEIR NEW FILM “SWERVE”
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.
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.
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.
Kong Food Court in Elmhurst is a gathering spot for immigrant and working class
people from the neighborhood.
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.
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
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.
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
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 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.
“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
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
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 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
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
July 15: With filmmakers Paolo Javier and Lynne Sachs in
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.
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.
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
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
this come about?
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.
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?
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
Paolo, I’m guessing the words were locked in, but was the meaning of them
changing as this unfolded?
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.
Sachs: Actually, Paolo, there’s a little bit of Tagalog in
the film. What does that mean to you?
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.
Sachs: I did want to extract certain words and phrases and
put them on screen. That was fun.
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.
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
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.
you end up with your ensemble?
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…
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.
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.
this was filmed in the summer of 2021, what was it like getting together for a
film as you’re coming out of quarantine?
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].
Sachs: We gave everybody a low pressure option not to show
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.
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…
Javier: Yeah, it was a picnic. They had pancit and lumpia
and they meet there every Sunday.
Sachs: And then they offered the food to everyone in our
production. That’s like 12 people.
Javier: They had enough and then some! [laughs]
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
(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.
(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
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
(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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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)
“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
(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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
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.
(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.