OVID to Release 33 Films in September, Its Most Ever in a Single Month, With a Diversity of Content Including Seven Films by Iconic Black, Gay Filmmaker Marlon Riggs

Other highlights include the newly restored and first time available on any platform version of Chantal Akerman’s From the East, acclaimed German cinematic essay Heimat Is A Space In TimeLet the Fire Burn, which echoes clashes between citizens and the police today, and more.

Jonathan Miller, director of OVID.tv, the curated streaming destination for documentaries and art-house films, announced that OVID will be adding 33 films, its most ever in a single month, to its September streaming lineup—a roster of films with a diversity of approach, form and content unlike that on any other platform. He pointed out the selections of contemporary global cinema, personal essay films, meticulous archival films, oddities and classics from film history (and about film history), and the first release on any platform of the restored version of Chantal Akerman’s From The East on Sept. 24. And as part of its growing library of Black Lives Matter films,OVID is proud to add a collection of seven films from iconic Black, gay filmmaker Marlon Riggs (1957-1994), beginning Sept. 10. 

Riggs was an American filmmaker, educator, poet and gay rights activist. Riggs created aesthetically innovative and socially provocative films that examine past and present representations of race and sexuality in America. The seven documentaries he produced, wrote and directed, which will stream on OVID, include, the Emmy winning Ethnic Notions (1987), the Teddy winning Tongues Untied (1989), Affirmations (1990), Anthem (1991), the Peabody winning Color Adjustment (1991), Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (No Regret) (1992) and the the IDA and Sundance award-winning Black Is…Black Ain’t (1995). When Tongues Untied aired on the PBS series POV in 1991, it brought about controversy as some public TV stations refused to air it, and it also riled some groups in the religious right. In 1988, Riggs was diagnosed with HIV. He continued to teach and work on his films, even as his health deteriorated. He passed away on April 5, 1994. The Marlon Riggs Collection is now housed at Stanford University Libraries.

Women directors in the spotlight in September include Vivian Qu’s narrative feature Angels Wear White (Sept. 4), about the assault of two teenage girls in China, for which Indiewire called “the perfect film for the #MeToo movement.”  There is also Julie Bertuccelli’s The Tree (Sept. 11) starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Nancy Cooperstein Charney’s Who’s Next? (Sept. 23), which examines how the lives of Muslim-Americans have been affected in the aftermath 9/11, Anna Moot-Levin & Laura Green’s The Providers (Sept. 23), Nancy Buirski’s Afternoon of a Faun (Sept. 29) and Jo Ann Kaplan’s Invocation – Maya Deren (Sept. 29) about the legend of avant-garde cinema.

September also brings Thomas Heise’s cinematic essay through 20th-century Germany history Heimat Is A Space In Time (Sept. 8), the four-part docuseries The Hitler Chronicles (Sept. 8), the epic drama Lumumba (Sept. 11) directed by Raoul Peck (I Am Not Your Negro), Andrei Ujica’s documentary The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu (Sept. 18), which tracks the rise and fall of the infamous Romanian dictator through his own propaganda footage, and the gripping found-footage documentary Let the Fire Burn (Sept. 17), which chronicles a longtime feud between the city of Philadelphia and a controversial radical urban group, which came to a deadly climax in 1985. First-time filmmaker Jason Osder has brought to life one of the most tumultuous and largely forgotten clashes between government and citizens in modern American history.

Other highlights include Tony Manero (Sept. 15) from director Pablo Larraín (EmaJackie), a duo of docs that take to the waters include 90 Degrees South (Sept. 22), Herbert G. Ponting’s spellbinding chronicle of Captain Robert Scott’s heroic and ultimately tragic race for the South Pole, and Drifters (Sept. 22) by early silent filmmaker John Grierson, who creates a ‘city symphony’ out of the North Sea herring fisheries, and a contemporary classic, Camille Claudel  (Sept. 24) starring Isabelle Adjani and Gérard Depardieu.

Details on all the films coming to OVID in September are below. Stay tuned for even more releases coming soon!

Friday, September 4th

Angels Wear White

Directed by Vivian Qu; KimStim, Narrative

China

In a small seaside town, two schoolgirls are assaulted by a middle-aged man in a motel. Mia, a teenager who was working on reception that night, is the only witness. For fear of losing her job, she says nothing. Meanwhile, 12-year-old Wen, one of the victims, finds that her troubles have only just begun. Trapped in a world that offers them no safety, Mia and Wen will have to find their own way out.

Tuesday, September 8th

The Hitler Chronicles

Directed by Joachim C. Fest, Christian Herrendoerfer, Michael Kloft, Jochen Bauer, Peter Cohen; Syndicado, 4-Part Documentary Series

Germany

As never seen before, and more topical today than any other Hitler biography, the Chronicles depict everyday European life between 1889 and 1945 in impressive images, many of them in color. Based on the most extensive compilation of archive material to date, with almost half of it previously unpublished sources, Hitler’s life is shown in detail against the social backdrop of the first half of the 20th century in a contemporary interpretation.

Heimat is a Space in Time

Directed by Thomas Heise; Icarus Films, Documentary

Germany

In HEIMAT IS A SPACE IN TIME, German filmmaker Thomas Heise shares the stories of three generations of his family, in their own words. It’s a personal history of Germany on an epic scale.

Heise sets the tone early, reading an anti-war essay written in 1912 by his grandfather Wilhelm, when he was a schoolboy. The director uses the same matter-of-fact, uninflected tone throughout the film – as he reads letters and notes from relatives who lived through the horrors of the First World War, Nazi Germany, and then life in Communist East Germany and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Thursday, September 10th:

Directed by Marlon Riggs; Signifyin’ Works, Documentary

U.S.

·         Color Adjustment (87 minutes, 1991)

Marlon Riggs’ study of how network television absorbed deep-seated racial conflict into the non-threatening formats of primetime television. Clips from Amos ‘n’ Andy, Good Times, Roots and The Cosby Show among others are intercut with interviews with producers, cultural critics and actors.

·         Ethnic Notions (56 minutes, 1987)

The Emmy-winning documentary takes viewers on a disturbing voyage through American history, tracing for the first time the deep-rooted stereotypes, which have fueled anti-black prejudice. Through these images and caricatures we can begin to understand the evolution of racial consciousness in America that permeated popular culture from the 1820s to the Civil Rights period and implanted themselves deep in the American psyche. Narration by Esther Rolle and commentary by respected scholars shed light on the origins and devastating consequences of this 150-year-long parade of bigotry.

Friday, September 11th

Diplomacy

Directed by Volker Schlöndorff; Zeitgeist Films, Narrative

France, Germany

In 1944, Raoul Nordling, the Swedish consul-general in Paris, meets with Dietrich von Cholitz, the German military governor of occupied Paris, to convince him not to destroy historical landmarks across the city.

Lumumba

Directed by Raoul Peck; Zeitgeist Films, Narrative

Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Belgium

From the director of I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO.

Made in the tradition of such true-life political thrillers as Malcolm X and JFK, Raoul Peck’s award-winning Lumumba is a gripping epic that dramatizes for the first time the rise and fall of legendary African leader Patrice Lumumba.

The Tree

Directed by Julie Bertuccelli; Zeitgeist Films, Narrative

The exquisite Charlotte Gainsbourg (Antichrist, Melancholia,I’m Not There) stars in French filmmaker Julie Bertuccelli’s achingly beautiful follow-up to her sleeper hit Since Otar Left. The Closing Night Film at Cannes in 2010, THE TREE is a mystical drama of loss and rebirth in the Australian countryside. Not since classic 1970s works Picnic at Hanging Rock and Walkabout has the harshly gorgeous outback landscape been such a lyrical yet foreboding metaphor for grief and coming of age.

Monday, September 14th:

Directed by Marlon Riggs; Signifyin’ Works, Documentary

U.S.

·         Black Is…Black Ain’t (86 minutes, 1995)

Marlon Riggs’ final film debates Black identity, white critiques, sexism, patriarchy, homophobia, colorism and cultural nationalism. “Riggs’ eye turns pain into poetry, ordinary people into prophets. To put it simply: ‘Black Is…Black Ain’t’ is moving and brilliant.” – Gloria Naylor 

Tuesday, September 15th

Cinema of Tears: A Century of Latin American Cinema (1995)

Directed by Nelson Pereira Dos Santos; BFI, Documentary

U.K.

Personal view of the Latin American cinema by Brazilian director Nelson Pereira dos Santos, based on an adaptation of a novel by Silvia Oroz. In this way, using two protagonists, a 65-year-old and a 25-year-old, a wide cross-section of Latin American cinema is shown, especially those turning on the subject of different stories of love and melodrama.

Tony Manero

Directed by Pablo Larraín; Kino Lorber, Feature

Chile

On weekends, 50-something Raul Peralta (Alfredo Castro) goes to the same bar outside his native Santiago, Chile, and, with friends, dances to the hits from his favorite film, “Saturday Night Fever.” When he gets wind of a TV contest seeking the best imitation of Tony Manero, the main character from the film, he becomes fixated on winning. But as Raul becomes involved in nefarious activities—including murder—to complete his Tony Manero transition, he puts his friends and himself at risk.

OFFICIAL SELECTION CANNES / NEW YORK / TORONTO

The City of the Future

Directed by Maríllia Hughes and Cláudio Marques; PRAGDA, Narrative

Brazil

In Serra do Ramalho, Brazil, young teacher Milla finds herself pregnant by her colleague Gilmar. Gilmar is in a relationship with Igor, but Milla asserts that the baby will belong to all three of them. Despite some initial conflict between the three, and in defiance to their community’s reaction, they form an unconventional but remarkably uncomplicated family. Billed as the ‘city of the future’, Serra do Ramalho was constructed in the 1970s in order to rehouse thousands of citizens that had been forcefully relocated. The location forms an important backdrop for this elegant, gentle film which is full of hope for a new generation building their own family of the future.

“An elegant, kind film, full of hope for a new generation that is making their own family of the future.” – MELBOURNE FILM FESTIVAL

BEST LATIN AMERICAN FILM, BUENOS AIRES INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL 

Wednesday, September 16th:

Directed by Marlon Riggs; Signifyin’ Works, Documentary

U.S.

·         Tongues Untied (55 minutes, 1989) 

A landmark and controversial personal documentary essay on experiences of black gay men and the search for identity. It has been critically acclaimed as one of the most important documentaries of the 20th century. “A black male warrior fighting for the right to love other black men, Marlon Riggs affirms what was nearly lost, newly found; the certainty that black male lives are utterly precious.” — Alice Walker 

·         Affirmations (10 minutes, 1990)

Explores black male dreams and desires and is framed by the poetry of Essex Hemphill.

·         Anthem (8 minutes, 1991)

An experimental music video asserting a defiant homoeroticism of African American male sexuality.

·         Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (No Regret) (38 minutes, 1992)

A poetic and intimate film presenting moving testimonials and portraits of five black gay men. They each disclose their HIV+ status and how they fiercely combat the stigma around the disease.

Thursday, September 17th

Hissein Habre, A Chadian Tragedy

Directed by Mahamat-Saleh Haroun; Icarus Films, Documentary

France

In 2013, former Chadian dictator Hissein Habre’s arrest in Senegal marked the end of a long combat for the survivors of his regime. Accompanied by the Chairman of the Association of the Victims of the Hissein Habre Regime, Mahamat Saleh Haroun goes to meet those who survived this tragedy and who still bear the scars of the horror in their flesh and in their souls. Through their courage and determination, the victims accomplish an unprecedented feat in the history of Africa: that of bringing a Head of State to trial.

2016 Cannes Film Festival

William and the Windmill

Directed by Ben Nabors; Passion River, Documentary

U.S.

With only a library book as his guide, 14-year-old William Kamkwamba builds a windmill in his Malawian village that changes his life forever. Using junk parts and an inexhaustible imagination, he harnesses enough energy to power a generator that saves his family from famine and resuscitates his dying farming community.

An instant media sensation, the teen soon has the ability to chart a previously unimaginable future of Ivy League schools and speaking tours. But despite the support of an American entrepreneur who helps him navigate his success, some changes threaten to capsize him. He was once just a kid back home, but suddenly he’s a village leader. Away at school, the famous boy inventor struggles on a steep learning curve.

Winner of the SXSW Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary.I

Friday, September 18th

The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceausescu

Directed by Andrei Ujica; Kino Lorber, Documentary

Romania

A monumental achievement, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF NICOLAE CEAUSESCU tracks the rise and fall of the infamous Romanian dictator through his own propaganda footage. Writer and director Andrei Ujica, along with editor Dana Bunescu, crafted over 1,000 hours of official state broadcasts and intimate home movies into a three-hour tour-de-force that depicts how Ceausescu created the country in his own image, regardless of the cost to its citizens. His rapid ascent to power is aided by rubber stamp parliamentary meetings and celebrated in garish visits to Communist allies including North Korea. A hero in his mind, Ceausescu is combative, vain, and unquestioningly in control.

Let the Fire Burn

Directed by Jason Osder; Kino Lorber, Documentary

U.S.A.

In the astonishingly gripping Let the Fire Burn, director Jason Osder has crafted that rarest of cinematic objects: a found-footage film that unfurls with the tension of a great thriller. On May 13, 1985, a longtime feud between the city of Philadelphia and controversial radical urban group MOVE came to a deadly climax. By order of local authorities, police dropped military-grade explosives onto a MOVE-occupied rowhouse. TV cameras captured the conflagration that quickly escalated—and resulted in the tragic deaths of eleven people (including five children) and the destruction of 61 homes. It was only later discovered that authorities decided to “…let the fire burn.” Using only archival news coverage and interviews, first-time filmmaker Osder has brought to life one of the most tumultuous and largely forgotten clashes between government and citizens in modern American history.

Winner – Best Editing in a Documentary Feature – Tribeca Film Festival

Special Jury Mention – Best New Documentary Director – Tribeca Film Festival

The Animals Film (1982)

Directed by Victor Schonfeld & Myriam Alaux ; BFI, Documentary

U.K.

Controversial, confrontational and riveting, this unique work received worldwide critical acclaim for its filmic power, questioning how and why modern societies exploit animals for food, fur, sport, entertainment and science. Features interview with Peter Singer.

Tuesday, September 22nd

90 Degrees South (1933)

Directed by Herbert G. Ponting; BFI, Documentary

Herbert G. Ponting’s spellbinding chronicle of Captain Robert Scott’s heroic and ultimately tragic race for the South Pole (not only did Amundsen reach the goal first but Scott and his entire team died on the return trip) was originally released in 1913. Ponting, who had been a renowned still photographer, dedicated his life to Scott’s memory. Twenty years after his friend’s death, he produced and narrated 90 Degrees South, the 1933 sound re-release of his original footage.

Drifters (1929)

Directed by John Grierson; BFI, Documentary

Early silent filmmaker John Grierson creates a ‘city symphony’ out of the North Sea herring fisheries, filmed at Lerwick, in the Shetlands, Lowestoft and Yarmouth and in the North Sea. Both a celebration of modern industry and a meditation on natural elements (sea, birds, fish), Grierson creates a strikingly balanced reflection on the process of historical change and modernisation. 

Silent Shakespeare

Various Directors; BFI; Narrative

The seven short films in this unique collection – from Britain, Italy and the USA – are created from the only known surviving materials, nitrate prints preserved by the BFI’s National Archive. They include beautiful examples of hand stencilling and tinted prints. There is a magical version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream containing some remarkable special effects, a charming five-minute film of The Tempest, and the very first Shakespeare film ever made, King John, in 1899. This unique and fascinating record shows us the exuberance, invention and conviction of these early filmmakers and demonstrates the possibility of the Shakespearean text.

The complete collection, accompanied by a specially commissioned score by award-winning young composer Laura Rossi, contains:

King John (UK, 1899)

The Tempest (UK, 1908)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (USA, 1909)

King Lear (Italy, 1910)

Twelfth Night (USA, 1910)

The Merchant of Venice (Italy, 1910)

Richard III (UK, 1911)

Wednesday, September 23rd

Who’s Next?

Directed by Nancy Cooperstein Charney; Bullfrog Films, Documentary

U.S.

WHO’S NEXT? examines how the lives of Muslim-Americans have been affected in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. It focuses on six Muslim families—citizens and long-time legal residents—from diverse countries and widely different circumstances. In one way or another all of them have been targeted by federal agencies, hate groups, and even former friends solely on the basis of their religious beliefs.

“The best and most profound movie I’ve seen recently…As unsettling as it is important. It is an extremely well-made documentary, uncluttered, never resorting to inflated dramatics. The drama is in the stories of the families. Who’s Next? is the type of artistic expression essential to those who cherish the concept of democracy.” —David Rothenberg, host, Any Saturday, WBAI

The Providers

Directed by Anna Moot-Levin & Laura Green; Bullfrog Films, Documentary

U.S.

THE PROVIDERS follows three healthcare providers in northern New Mexico. They work at El Centro, a group of safety-net clinics that offer care to all who walk through the doors, regardless of ability to pay. Amidst personal struggles that reflect those of their patients, the journeys of the providers unfold as they work to reach rural Americans who would otherwise be left out of the healthcare system. With intimate access, the documentary shows the transformative power of providers’ relationships with marginalized patients.

Thursday, September 24th

Camille Claudel

Directed by Bruno Nuytten; Zeitgeist Films, Narrative

France

The biography of the iconic French sculptor Camille Claudel in a tale of love, betrayal and female empowerment Starring Isabelle Adjani and Gérard Depardieu. When her enthusiasm for the arts captures the attention of famed sculptor Auguste Rodin, he hires her as his assistant. Slowly, Camille develops sculpting proficiency of her own, but when her and Auguste’s relationship becomes intimate, she struggles to escape from beneath his oppressive shadow.

From the East (restored!)

Directed by Chantal Akerman; Icarus Films; Documentary

Chantal Akerman’s austere masterpiece retraces the journey from the end of summer to deepest winter, from East Germany, across Poland and the Baltics, to Moscow. It is a voyage Akerman wanted to make shortly after the collapse of the Soviet bloc “before it was too late,” reconstructing her impressions in the manner of a documentary on the border of fiction.  

By filming “everything that touched me,” Akerman sifts through and fixes upon sounds and images as she follows the thread of this subjective crossing. Without dialogue or commentary, From the East is a cinematographic elegy.

Friday, September 25th

Abstract Cinema (1993)

Directed by Keith Griffiths; BFI, Documentary

U.K.

Several well-known and pioneering abstract filmmakers discuss the history of non-objective cinema, the works of those that came before them and their own experiments in the field of visionary filmmaking.

Features: Stan Brakhage, Jules Engel, Malcolm Le Grice, Len Lye, William Moritz, and more.

Dreams that Money Can Buy (1946)

Directed by Hans Richter; BFI, Narrative

Joe, a young man down on his luck, discovers he has the power to create dreams, and sets up a business selling them to others. The ‘dreams’ he gives to his clients are the creations of Max Ernst, Fernand Leger, May Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Alexander Calder and Richter himself, and the result is by turns playful, hypnotic, satirical, charming and nightmarish.

Tuesday, September 29th 

Afternoon of a Faun

Directed by Nancy Buirski; Kino Lorber, Documentary

U.S.

Buirski (The Loving Story) brings to the screen the magnificent and tragic story of Tanaquil Le Clercq. Of the great ballerinas, Le Clercq may have been the most transcendent, mesmerizing viewers and choreographers alike. Because of her extraordinary movement and unique personality on stage, she became a muse to two of the greatest choreographers in dance, George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins. She had love, fame, adoration, and was the foremost dancer of her day until it suddenly all stopped. At the age of 27, she was struck down by polio and paralyzed. She never danced again. The ballet world has been haunted by her story ever since.

Invocation – Maya Deren (1998)

Directed by Jo Ann Kaplan; BFI, Documentary

U.K.

Maya Deren is a legend of avant-garde cinema. This authoritative biography of the charismatic filmmaker, poet and anthropologist features excerpts from her pioneering Meshes of the Afternoon and her unfinished documentary on Haiti, interviews with Stan Brakhage and Jonas Mekas, and recordings of her lectures. 

Narrated by actress Helen Mirren, this definitive documentary offers startling insights into one of the most intriguing, accomplished figures in cinema history.

The World of Gilbert and George (1981)

Directed by and starring Gilbert & George; BFI, Experimental/Documentary

U.K.

Gilbert & George are renowned for presenting themselves as ‘living sculptures,’ fusing their art and identity with the external world. Their exploration of the bleak urban surrounds of 1980’s London, powerfully evoke the desires and tensions of its disillusioned youth alongside their own eccentricities. Poetic narration combines with vivid imagery that moves between the startlingly beautiful, the humorous, and the absurd. 

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