OH LUCY!, FROM EXEC PRODUCERS WILL FERRELL AND ADAM MCKAY, AND ACCLAIMED MUSIC DOC WHITE RIOT HIGHLIGHT AJAM-PACKED APRIL ON FILM MOVEMENT PLUS, FEATURINGTHE NORTH AMERICAN DEBUT OF FESTIVAL FAVORITE METEORS
Also Being Featured Are More Exclusive Streaming Premieres Not Found Anywhere Else: Lavish Biopic Louis Van Beethoven, Epic WWI Drama 1918:Hero on the Front, Winning Dramedy The Dancing Dogs of Dombrova, Midi Z’s The Road to Mandalay and More Celebrated Music Docs from Robert Mugge, Including The Gospel According to Al Green
Though TS Eliot once said “April is the cruelest month,” leading independent SVOD service, Film Movement Plus actively seeks to change that notion with EIGHT exclusive streaming premieres not found on any other streaming service, including the Independent Spirit Award-nominated OH LUCY!, a 98% Rotten Tomatoes comedy starring Josh Hartnett and Shinobu Terajima and Rubika Shah’s WHITE RIOT, an acclaimed music documentary about the rise of the movement Rock Against Racism. Two films unreleased in North America, and making their debuts, are METEORS, blending documentary filmmaking and political commentary and connecting the earthly to the cosmos and AFTERLOV, a funny, poignant and scathing post-love story from Greece, winner of the Youth Jury Award at Locarno.
Additionally, more exclusive streaming premieres include LOUIS VAN BEETHOVEN, a lavish biographical drama about the world’s most legendary composer, HERO ON THE FRONT, a WWI epic based on a true story of bravery and courage, THE DANCING DOGS OF DOMBROVA, a sibling comedy and the powerful immigrant drama, THE ROAD TO MANDALAY from Director Midi Z, whose new #Metoo thriller, NINA WU, also premieres in the US on April 2. And April also delivers four new music documentaries from renowned director Robert Mugge, including two being released to commemorate the birthdays of influential talents BLACK WAX: GIL SCOTT-HERON and THE GOSPEL ACCORING TO AL GREEN.
Film Movement Plus April highlights are as follows:
Thursday, April 1
FM+ PREMIERE: BLACK WAX: GIL SCOTT-HERON
(ROBERT MUGGE MUSIC DOCUMENTARY SERIES)
Director Robert Mugge
Debuting on the birthday of African American poet-singer-songwriter Gil Scott-Heron who many have proclaimed as the forefather of rap music is Mugge’s 1982 music documentary, BLACK WAX. Putting the man Melody Maker called “the most dangerous musician alive” and his 10-piece Midnight Band in the spotlight, BLACK WAX was filmed entirely on location in Washington, D.C., primarily at the now defunct Wax Museum Nightclub. Songs performed by the band include such potent political numbers as “Winter in America,” “Alien,” “Johannesburg,” “Storm Music,” “Waiting for the Axe to Fall,” “Gun,” and “’B’ Movie”. Likely the first film to use Steadicam from first frame to last thanks to pioneering cameraman Lawrence McConkey, BLACK WAX garnered universal acclaimed. Ken Tucker of The Philadelphia Inquirer said, “It is doubtful that any musician has been better served by a film documentary…[It’s] brilliant – funny, moving and fast-paced.” And of the music doc, Todd McCarthy of Variety penned that it’s “one of the more entertaining and edifying music docus of recent times, one which strongly communicates the personality of the subject. A fine introduction to a vibrant, nervy talent.” (79 minutes)
Friday, April 2
STREAMING PREMIERE: THE ROAD TO MANDALAY
Director Midi Z
Taiwanese director Midi Z, whose film Poison (2014) was selected at his country’s Oscar® entry and whose latest acclaimed effort, NINA WU (also starring Wu Ke-Xi), opens in virtual cinemas the same day as THE ROAD TO MANDALAY hits Film Movement Plus, winner of the Feodora Award for Best Film during International Film Critics Week at the Venice Film Festival. This poignant, slow-burning drama finds Burmese immigrants sneaking into Thailand on a well-trafficked route across the Mekong River, down quiet country roads and past bribed police checkpoints. Along this treacherous path to Bangkok, Lianqing (Wu Ke-Xi) and Guo (Kai Ko) meet, and their fates become entwined. After finding work, the couple focuses their efforts on acquiring fake identity papers, but when only one is successful, their relationship becomes threatened in this festival favorite, nominated for numerous awards at prestigious film festivals including the Golden Horse Film Festival, the Asia-Pacific Film Festival and the Hong Kong Film Awards. (108 minutes | Thailand | Chinese, Burmese, Thai with English Subtitles)
STREAMING PREMIERE: LOUIS VAN BEETHOVEN
Director Niki Stein
Last December, the world celebrated the 250th anniversary of the birth of a creative genius whose music continues to inspire and enrich the lives of people all over the globe. On April 2, Film Movement Plus invites home audiences to commemorate the musical prodigy’s rich and fascinating life with LOUIS VAN BEETHOVEN, a lavish “handsomely mounted… elegantly tailored” (Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times) biographical drama. Opening on the final stanza of the musical savant’s life, LOUIS VAN BEETHOVEN finds the older composer (Tobias Moretti) living on the estate of his brother Johann and his wife Therese shortly before his death in 1826. Despite his great successes, most recently with the Ninth Symphony, Beethoven struggles because his late work completely overwhelms his contemporaries. And now completely deaf, he looks back at missed opportunities throughout his life. Revealing the life of a genius far ahead of his time, LOUIS VAN BEETHOVEN shows that though his battles against musical and social conventions lasted a lifetime, his revolutionary music will last forever. (120 minutes | Germany | German with English Subtitles)
Friday, April 9
STREAMING PREMIERE: 1918: HERO ON THE FRONT
Directors Gonçalo Galvão Teles and Jorge Paixao da Costa
Debuting in time to commemorate the brutal Battle of Lys (4/9/1918) comes the epic war drama, 1918: HERO ON THE FRONT, an incredible true story of bravery and courage set against the backdrop of battle itself. Aníbal Milhais was one of 75,000 Portuguese soldiers sent to Flanders in defense of the Western Front. During the Battle of La Lys, when his beleaguered unit was forced into retreat, Milhais ignored superior orders and stood his ground in the trenches. Before him, two German divisions advanced across no-man’s-land. Behind him, his battalion of the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps and a Scottish regiment, having been decimated by a massive preparatory artillery barrage. Armed only with his Lewis light machine gun named “Luisinha”, he single-handedly fought off successive waves of attack Germans, saving the lives of countless Allied troops. Twenty-five years later, still haunted by the memories of war, Milhais recalls the stories that led to his fame as the soldier “worth a million men” and HERO ON THE FRONT is his story. The film captured five prestigious Portuguese Academy Awards (the “Sophia”): Best Screenplay,” “Best Special Effects,” “Best Art Direction,” “Best Film Editing,” and “Best Sound”. (85 minutes | Portugal | Portuguese with English Subtitles)
EXCLUSIVE NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE: METEORS
Director Gürcan Keltek
Blending documentary filmmaking and political commentary, and connecting the earthly to the cosmos, the favorite at more than four dozen international film festivals, METEORS is a film about memory and disappearance – of people, places and things. One night, meteors start to fall in a Kurdish town. As the citizens come out of their homes, they light torches, encounter fragments of the past and remember those who have been lost. The impact of the violence which has scarred the area has been erased from official records, leaving memories and stories to fill in the gaps. Transcending fiction and nonfiction to arrive at a political truth somewhere in between, METEORS is a transfixing work featuring a cosmic ending not to be missed. An Official Selection at Rotterdam, Winner of the Boccalino d’ Oro award at Locarno and “Best Film” at the Milan, Israel and Beldocs Film Festivals, METEORS makes its North American Premiere on Film Movement Plus (81 minutes | (Turkey, The Netherlands | Turkish, Kurdish with English Subtitles)
Tuesday, April 13
FM+ PREMIERE: GOSPEL ACCORDING TO AL GREEN(ROBERT MUGGE MUSIC DOCUMENTARY SERIES)
Director Robert Mugge
Released to commemorate the birthday of soul and pop legend Al Green is Mugge’s 1984 music doc GOSPEL ACCORDING TO AL GREEN. In the early and mid ‘70s, the release of songs like “Let’s Stay Together,” “Love and Happiness,” “Tired of Being Alone,” and “Take Me to The River” made Al Green one of the most successful soul and pop singers in the world. However, as the decade progressed, Green suffered an existential crisis, prompted by a questioning of his own increasingly decadent lifestyle, as well as by the death of a girlfriend who scalded him with hot grits before shooting and killing herself. He also claims to have had a religious reawakening after performing a concert at Disneyland, as well as periodic meltdowns on stage. All of this led to his abandonment of popular music, his purchase of a Memphis church building, his installation of himself as the pastor of that church, and the start of a part-time career as gospel artist. GOSPEL ACCORDING TO AL GREEN documented the seventh-anniversary service at Green’s Full Gospel Tabernacle Church, a rehearsal in his Memphis recording studio, an extended interview, and a concert at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. Also interviewed for the film were legendary record producer Willie Mitchell, who produced and co-wrote Green’s most famous soul hits, and music and TV critic Ken Tucker, who helped to place Green’s accomplishments in a larger cultural context. In short, as presented in the film, Green’s story is a mythic tale about a rhythm and blues artist who started out singing love songs to women, but ended up singing similar songs to God. Greg Quill of The Toronto Star called the doc “one of the most powerful “live” performances ever captured on film. It’s frightening. An electrifying new film” and Lynn Van Matre of The Chicago Tribune wrote that it’s “Electrifying. Intelligent. Really fascinating. An absorbing film that illustrates soul music’s debt to gospel and offers an in-depth look at one of soul and gospel’s most compelling performers.” (94 minutes)
Friday, April 16
FM+ PREMIERE: AFTERLOV
Director Stergios Paschos
It’s summertime in Athens and Nikos, a 30-year-old broke musician, is taking care of a luxurious villa in the suburbs. Between poolside cocktails and fooling around with the dog that he is meant to take care of, he has a plan. Still unable to get over his recent break-up with Sofia, he figures this is a unique opportunity to get some much-needed answers, so he invites her over for the weekend. Sofia accepts not knowing, of course, that Nikos’ plans are not as innocent as they seem: after she arrives, Nikos locks her in the house until she provides some rationale for the break-up, turning their alleged carefree holiday into a mess of games, fights, laughs and introspection. Capturing the doldrums of summer and the dangerous nostalgia of lost love, the funny and poignant AFTERLOV examines the anatomy of a relationship between two people who can’t live with or without each other. Stergios Paschos’ debut feature premiered at Locarno, where it captured the Youth Jury Award in Cineasti del Presente competition, as well as Thessaloniki, where it won the Artistic Achievement Award, and Transylvania, where it won the FIPRESCI prize. (94 minutes | Greece | Greek with English Subtitles)
FM+ PREMIERES: FANCHON THE CRICKET & LITTLE ANNIE ROONEY
Film Movement Plus celebrates Mary Pickford’s birthday (4/8) with a double bill featuring two classics from the legendary silent film star. Based on the “adult fairy tale” by George Sand, FANCHON THE CRICKET (1925), once considered a lost classic of the era, stars Mary Pickford as the title character, a strong-willed waif ostracized by “acceptable society” until she shows them the power of love and understanding. A natural, sensual and uninhibited Pickford breaks through today’s stereotype of her as “the girl with the curls.” It is also the only surviving film in which both Jack and Lottie Pickford appear with their sister. Once considered a lost classic of the era, FANCHON THE CRICKET was restored through a nique international collaboration between the Mary Pickford Foundation, the Cinematheque Francaise and the British Film Institute (115 mins).
Mary Pickford plays a “tomboy of the tenements” in LITTLE ANNIE ROONEY, which she wrote. Filmed over ten weeks, the dramedy was shot entirely on a set created by art director John D. Schulze at the Pickford Fairbanks Studio. Co-starring William Haines and a wide-ranging, multi-ethnic cast, the film – one of Pickford’s most important — met with huge critical and commercial success upon its original release, proving fans and critics alike wanted the then 33-year old Mary to stay a child forever. It has been digitally restored from original elements for a new generation of film fans. (94 minutes)
Friday, April 23
STREAMING PREMIERE: THE DANCING DOGS OF DOMBROVA
Director Zach Bernbaum
On a cold winter night, estranged siblings Sarah and Aaron arrive at an empty train station in the rural Polish town of Dombrova. Looking for an address that apparently no longer exists, they set out on a journey to fulfill their dying grandmother’s final wish – to find and bring home the remains of her beloved childhood dog, Peter, in the endearing drama THE DANCING DOGS OF DOMBROVA.
Facing the challenges of an unfamiliar country, a not-so-helpful local government and their own turmoil, Sarah, an unemployed free-spirit and, Aaron, a stubborn, high-strung statistical analyst, can’t seem to agree on anything and the trip is nearly derailed. Along the way, they’re joined by a cast of characters including a stout and silent female cab driver who ferries them all over town with a bottle of ketchup in her glove compartment, a precocious teenage detective and a pregnant innkeeper with a penchant for cooking blood sausages and arguing with the town priest. And as they seek to fulfill their grandmother’s last wish, they slowly start to realize that they must put their differences aside and work together to find the canine casket without driving each other into early graves of their own. Called “a crowd-pleaser filled with wit and genuine emotion” (Cinema Axis) and sporting “a tightly written script [with] a Coen Brothers level of ridiculousness.” (ScreenFish), THE DANCING DOGS OF DOMBROVA captured numerous awards during its festival run, including “Best Feature” at the Canadian Film Fest and Desertscape International Film Festival. (102 mins.)
FM+ PREMIERE: PERDITA DURANGO
Director Álex de la Iglesia
For his English-language debut, writer/director Álex de la Iglesia (Day of the Beast) chose novelist Barry Gifford’s prequel to “Wild at Heart” featuring sociopath priestess Perdita Durango. But when the U.S. distributor saw the finished film, they slashed 10+ minutes of gleefully profane sex & violence and released it under the title Dance With the Devil. Film Movement Plus is proud to present the complete Director’s Cut starring Oscar® nominee Rosie Perez and Academy Award® winner Javier Bardem in the “amoral love story” (DVD Talk) filled with human sacrifices, kidnapping, murder, fetus trafficking and the dogged DEA agent (James Gandolfini) on the trail of it all. Don Stroud (Django Unchained), Demián Bichir (The Hateful Eight), Alex Cox (Repo Man) and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins co-star in this “splendidly irresponsible” (Moria) joyride to the dark side now restored in 4k. Of PERDITA DURANGO, AV Club calls it “Utter moral depravity. A demented movie that takes the oversexed surrealism of Wild at Heart to delirious new levels. It richly merits a cult.” (130 minutes)
FM+ PREMIERE: HAWAIIAN RAINBOW & KUMU HULU – KEEPERS OF A CULTURE (ROBERT MUGGE MUSIC DOCUMENTARY SERIES)
Director Robert Mugge
In the 1970s, Hawai’i began what is known as the Second Hawaiian Renaissance, a period of renewed interest in native Hawaiian history, language, crafts, music, dance, and spirituality. Out of that period of resurgence came enormous social, cultural, and political excitement and activity which, to a great extent, continues to this day. Inspired by what he encountered during his first visit to Hawai’i in 1986, filmmaker Robert Mugge joined forces with state politician Dr. Neil Abercrombie (later to become the U.S. Congressman from Honolulu and then Governor of the state), University of Hawai’i ethnomusicologists Dr. Ricardo D. Trimillos and Jay W. Junker, kumu hula and educator Vicky Holt Takamine, and Honolulu Academy of Arts film programmer Ann Brandman to produce an 85-minute documentary on Hawaiian music shot largely on the Island of O’ahu, and then, with the help of Cove Enterprises executives Roy Tokujo and Ronald Letterman, an 85 minute documentary on Hawaiian dance shot on all six of the primary Hawaiian Islands.
HAWAIIAN RAINBOW, a 1987 film about Hawaiian music, examines Hawai’i’s traditional chants, percussion, ukulele, slack-key and steel guitar, male and female falsetto, and lush vocal harmonies, many of them accompanied by authentic Hawaiian dance styles.
KUMU HULA: KEEPERS OF A CULTURE, a 1989 film about the art of the hula, explores Hawaiian dance traditions going back to 500AD when Polynesians first arrived in the islands. Those traditions have been passed along from generation to generation by kahuna (priests and sages) and kumu hula (master teachers). In this film, shot at exotic locations throughout the islands, Vicky Holt Takamine and other respected kumu hula reveal ancient traditions that have survived, flourished, and (where appropriate) evolved in spite of attempts by Nineteenth Century missionaries, plantation owners, and US Marines to repress Hawai’i’s indigenous culture. Together, these two films present Hawaiian art and life as few outsiders have seen it: rich, expressive, colorful, and utterly unique. In 2015, both films were transferred to HD video from their original 16mm and stereo audio masters and lovingly restored.
Friday, April 30
FM+ PREMIERE: OH LUCY!
Director Atsuko Hirayanagi
From executive producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay comes this internationally acclaimed dramedy that was nominated for the prestigious Camera d’Or and a Critic’s Week Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as several Independent Spirit Awards. Bored Tokyo lady Setsuko (Independent Spirit Award-nominee Shinobu Terajima) breaks free of her monotonous life when her niece, Mika (Shioli Kutsuna) convinces her to enroll in an unorthodox English class. There, she adopts a blonde-haired alter ego name “Lucy” and develops romantic feelings for her American instructor, John (Josh Hartnett). But after his sudden disappearance, Setsuko follows his trail halfway around the world to Southern California, where family ties and past lives are tested as she struggles to fulfill the promise of “Lucy.” A New York Times Critic’s Pick, Chief Film Critic Manohla Dargis said “The writer-director Atsuko Hirayanagi isn’t selling a packaged idea about what it means to be human; she does something trickier and more honest here, merely by tracing the ordinary absurdities and agonies of one woman’s life.” (96 minutes | USA, Japan | English and Japanese with English Subtitles)
STREAMING PREMIERE: WHITE RIOT
Director Rubika Shah
Britain, late-1970s. The country is deeply divided over immigration. The National Front, a far-right and fascist political party, is gaining strength. And countering this was Rock Against Racism (RAR), a movement that swept across the U.K. and Europe and culminated in a 100,000+ person march and a legendary concert event – Woodstock meets the March on Washington, punk-style. Capturing this incredible moment in time when music changed the world is the award-winning documentary WHITE RIOT from director Rubika Shah, is appearing on Film Movement Plus on the anniversary of the Victoria Park Concert, which took place on April 30, 1978.
Expanding on her documentary short White Riot: London, Shah’s energizing film – which David Fear of Rolling Stone calls “A pitch-perfect, punk AF documentary” — charts the rise of Rock Against Racism (RAR), formed in 1976, prompted by “music’s biggest colonialist” Eric Clapton and his support of racist MP Enoch Powell. The brisk, informative WHITE RIOT blends fresh, engaging interviews with RAR staff and musicians with archival footage to recreate a hostile environment of anti-immigrant hysteria and National Front marches. As neo-Nazis recruited the nation’s youth, RAR’s multicultural punk and reggae gigs provided rallying points for resistance. The campaign grew from “Temporary Hoarding,” the movement’s fanzine to 1978’s huge antifascist concert in Victoria Park, featuring X-Ray Spex, Tom Robinson, Steel Pulse and, of course, The Clash, whose rock star charisma and gale-force conviction took RAR’s message to the masses. WHITE RIOT chronicles what Jackson Caines of Glass Magazine called an “extraordinary fusion of culture and politics that changed society for the better.” And Christopher Schobert of The Film Stage calls “a thrilling, incendiary look at punk’s influence on politics.” (84 minutes | United Kingdom)