My favorite festival hits coming soon to theaters, TV and DVD (July edition)


“Gideon’s Army” (Dir. Dawn Porter)
Festival Premiere: Sundance 2013
WHERE TO SEE IT NEXT: Premieres Monday, July 1st on HBO, HBO Go and On Demand (will air throughout the month)In theaters April 19

The premiere at Sundance got TWO standing ovations from a packed theater full of sniffles and applause. It’s been months since then and I still haven’t been able to shake some of the scenes featuring the three public defenders spotlighted in the film. The title originates from the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court case “Gideon v. Wainwright”, which ruled that criminal defendants have a constitutional right to an attorney, even when they can’t afford one. A powerful directorial debut from Dawn Porter (a lawyer herself) and a stellar example of how important it is to seek out those compelling characters. As the three lawyers (Brandy, Travis and June) answered questions in the Q&A, I just wanted to hug each one and thank them for the literal hell they go through in the name of justice.

“Venus Vs.” (Dir. Ava DuVernay)
Festival Premiere: 2013 LA Film Festival
WHERE TO SEE IT NEXT: Premieres Tuesday, July 2nd on ESPN

It’s no secret Ava DuVernay is my cinematic hero, so I ‘ll just keep my gushing to a minimum…this time. DuVernay’s latest, VENUS VS. is a return to her nonfiction roots (see MY MIC IS NICE). The documentary will kickoff ESPN’s “Nine for IX” series, which was inspired by the 40th anniversary of Title XI. VENUS VS. follows pro tennis star Venus Williams’ fight to gain equal prize money for female players at Wimbledon. I had no idea about her battle, so that’s just one more reason I’ll be tuning in. You can watch a clip from the film here.

“NO” (Dir. Pablo Larrain)
Festival Premiere: Cannes 2012
WHERE TO SEE IT NEXT: Now available in Redbox kiosks; also on DVD/Blu-Ray, iTunes

NO was the first film I saw during my time as a PA at Telluride last year. It’s pretty safe to say I was already sold when I saw that Gael Garcia Bernal was starring. NO proved to be both a refresher and revealing look at the Pinochet era in Chilean history. I found the topic of mixing politics and advertising still relevant, especially around this past U.S. Presidential election. The film eventually went on to be Chile’s entry for Best Foreign Picture and made the nominee cut. Aesthetically, the film is entirely in 4×3, which bothered some but worked just fine for me (reminded me a bit of Spike Lee’s CROOKLYN). In the Q&A, director Pablo Larrain explained they were using several scenes of actual 1980’s footage and wanted a cohesive transition between their own footage.

“A Band Called Death” (Dirs. Mark Christopher Covino and Jeff Howlett)
Festival Premiere: 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival
WHERE TO SEE IT NEXT: Now in select theaters; available on iTunes

I recently got to see Death play live in Austin and it reminded me again how much I loved this documentary about these three rockin’ brothers from Detroit. Punk music is definitely not my go-to jam but the story of Death is universal: NEVER, EVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAM. Oh, isn’t that the indie filmmaker motto? This film wonderfully hits all the points any filmmaker/film lover could wish for: great characters, story and soundtrack. Check out this free download of their single “Politicians In My Eyes” for a little pre-screening concert of your own.

“Fruitvale Station” (Dir. Ryan Coogler)
Festival Premiere: Sundance 2013
WHERE TO SEE IT NEXT: July 12th limited theater release; July 26 nationwide

Hands down my favorite film of the year, I see FRUITVALE STATION (formerly known as FRUITVALE) following in the footsteps of last year’s BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD from Sundance all the way to the Oscars. Whether you already know the story of Oscar Grant or you’ve never heard of him, this is a beautiful tribute to the young Black man who was killed on New Year’s Eve 2008 by a police officer at the Fruitvale subway platform in Oakland. The feature debut from the talented writer/director Ryan Coogler asks viewers to really think about how we treat each other as human beings. Bring some tissues, friends.

“An Oversimplication of Her Beauty” (Dir. Terence Nance)
Festival Premiere: Sundance 2012
WHERE TO SEE IT NEXT: Screenings in select cities; available through Tugg Inc.

If you haven’t seen the trailer for this film, stop whatever you’re doing. With a masterful execution of practically every cinematic technique there is, filmmaker Terence Nance weaves a beautiful take on the universal idea of unrequited love. Read my review from Sundance 2012 HERE. Check here to see if “The Best Film Not Playing In Theaters” is coming to your city.

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