Top Independent Films Winter 2014

August Osage County Movie PosterAUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. Tracy Letts' Pulitzer Prize-winning play of the same name made its Broadway debut in December 2007 after premiering at Chicago's legendary Steppenwolf Theatre earlier that year. It continued with a successful international run and was the winner of five Tony Awards in 2008, including Best Play. AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY is directed by John Wells (THE COMPANY MEN) and features an all-star cast, in cluding Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Margo Martindale, Dermot Mulroney, Julianne Nicholson, Sam Shepard and Misty Upham.




The Invisible Woman Movie PosterNelly (Felicity Jones), a happily-married mother and schoolteacher, is haunted by her past. Her memories, provoked by remorse and guilt, take us back in time to follow the story of her relationship with Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) with whom she discovered an exciting but fragile complicity.

Dickens - famous, controlling and emotionally isolated within his success - falls for Nelly, who comes from a family of actors. The theatre is a vital arena for Dickens - a brilliant amateur actor - a man more emotionally coherent on the page or on stage, than in life. As Nelly becomes the focus of Dickens' passion and his muse, for both of them secrecy is the price, and for Nelly a life of "invisibility".


One Chancet Movie PosterFrom the director of The Devil Wears Prada, ONE CHANCE is the remarkable and inspirational true story of Paul Potts, a shy, bullied shop assistant by day and an amateur opera singer by night. Paul became an instant YouTube phenomenon after being chosen by Simon Cowell for 'Britain's Got Talent.' Wowing audiences worldwide with his phenomenal voice, Paul went on to win 'Britain's Got Talent' and the hearts of millions. Fresh from celebrating his Tony Award-winning Broadway run in 'One Man, Two Guvnors', BAFTA winner James Corden (THE HISTORY BOYS) stars as Paul Potts and is supported by an acclaimed ensemble cast that includes Julie Walters (MAMMA MIA!, CALENDAR GIRLS, BILLY ELLIOT), Mackenzie Crook (THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN), Colm Meaney (GET HIM TO THE GREEK), Jemima Rooper (KINKY BOOTS), Valeria Billelo (PAZZE DI ME) and rising star Alexandra Roach (THE IRON LADY). Directed by David Frankel (THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, MARLEY & ME, HOPE SPRINGS) and written by Justin Zackham (THE BUCKET LIST), ONE CHANCE is produced by Mike Menchel, Brad Weston, Kris Thykier (KICK-ASS, THE DEBT, I GIVE IT A YEAR), Simon Cowell, and executive produced by Bob and Harvey Weinstein.


Beyond Outrage Movie PosterWith BEYOND OUTRAGE, action cinema master Takeshi Kitano returns to the hard boiled characters, black comedy and unflinching violence of his crime masterpiece OUTRAGE. This time, a manipulative police crackdown on organized crime has ignited a tricky power struggle in the yakuza underworld.

The Sanno crime family has grown into a massive organization dominated by young executives whose new approach to running the family is causing frustration and pent-up resentment with the old-guard members. This vulnerability in the Sanno hierarchy is exactly what anti-gang detective Kataoka has been looking for, as the police force prepares a full-scale crackdown.

Kataoka wants start a war between Sanno and the neighboring Hanabishi crime family in the hopes that they destroy each other. His trump card is Otomo (Kitano) – the rumored-dead boss of a defunct family that was destroyed by the Sanno, who has just been released from prison. Otomo wants to retire from a life of crime, but finds himself drawn back in through Kataoka’s manipulations as the Sanno and Hanabishi clans teeter on the brink of an all-out war.



Loves Her Gun MovieAllie (Trieste Kelly Dunn) leads an unfocused life with no job and a lame boyfriend. So it's no surprise when she hops on the next bus (well more of an RV full of karate rockers) to Texas after being attacked on the streets of New York. Seeming to improve as she settles into the slower-pace of Austin, her fears continue to haunt her. She quickly falls into Texas gun culture as a means to feel safe. She walks the fine line between reasonable self-preservation and paranoid withdrawal. Can she maintain healthy relationships, or will the weapons she uses to protect herself cause her problems worse that the ones she was fleeing?



The Truth About Emanuel Movie PosterEmanuel (Kaya Scodelario), an acerbic but sensitive teen, lives with her father (Alfred Molina) and stepmother (Frances O'Conner). She's on the verge of another birthday-a day she has never cared for since her mother died giving birth to her-when the mysterious Linda (Jessica Biel), a young and hip mother, moves in next door. Intrigued by Linda's striking resemblance to her late mother, Emanuel begins to babysit for Linda's newborn daughter. As Emanuel and Linda spend more time together, they develop a bond that becomes deeply entwined in a surprising secret Linda harbors. 

THE TRUTH ABOUT EMANUEL is a hyperstylized and often darkly humorous film that vacillates between surrealism and realism while it incorporates suspenseful drama. Writer/director Francesca Gregorini's tightly constructed script fuses pain with poetry and explores the complexity of being complicit in the lives of our loved ones. In a breakout performance, Kaya Scodelario is the heart of the film as Emanuel, who must take a courageous journey to enter her dream and help extract Linda from hers.


Life of a King MovieLife of a King is the unlikely true story of Eugene Brown and his one-man mission to give inner-city kids of Washington D.C. something he never had – a future. He discovered a multitude of life lessons through the game of chess during his 18-year incarceration for bank robbery. After his release and reentry into the workforce, Eugene developed and founded the Big Chair Chess Club to get kids off the streets and working towards lives they never believed they were capable of due to circumstances. From his daring introductory chess lessons to group of unruly high school students in detention to the development of the Club and the teens’ first local chess competitions, this movie reveals his difficult, inspirational journey and how he changed the lives of a group of teens with no endgame.


MaidentripMovie PosterJillian Schlesinger's acclaimed debut documentary MAIDENTRIP, made with a core team of women filmmakers, celebrates the accomplishments of the intrepid young woman Laura Dekker and brings her complex and inspiring real-life story to the big screen.

In 1995 Laura Dekker was born on a boat in the port of Whangarei, New Zealand during her parents’ seven-year voyage around the world on their sailboat. At just six years of age, Laura sailed her own dinghy alone across the lake where she lived. At the age of ten, she took a multi-week trip to Friesland, Netherlands accompanied only by her dog Spot. Then, in 2009, at the age of 13 Laura announced her plans to sail solo around the globe.

After a year-long court battle with Dutch authorities who attempted to stop her voyage and the unwanted global media scrutiny it sparked, 14-year-old Laura Dekker finally set out—camera in hand—on a two-year solo voyage in pursuit of her dream, alone without a follow boat or a support team, on her transformative 27,000 mile global odyssey. During the longest leg of her trip across the Indian Ocean, Laura spent 47 days alone at sea.

Laura’s dream was “to be the youngest ever to sail around the world alone,” but she didn’t want to set a speed record. Instead, she sought to experience the remote and wonderful corners of the planet on her own,stopping to explore along the way.

Jillian Schlesinger’s debut feature film MAIDENTRIP captures Laura’s journey as she explores the world in search of freedom, adventure, and distant dreams of her early youth at sea. Her direction, along with animation by the Moth Collective which was recently nominated for a Cinema Eye award, amplifies Laura's mature, brave and defiant voice. Her perspective is seen through her own video and voice recordings from sea, and the filmmakers' vérité footage shot at stops along the route like the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Australia, and South Africa.


  RUN & JUMP  
Run & Jump Movie PosterRun & Jump follows Vanetia Casey (Maxine Peake), the spirited and impossibly optimistic center of the Casey family, who is struggling to get life back to normal after her 38 year-old husband, Conor (Edward MacLiam), suffers a rare stroke which changes his personality. Entering the emotional fray is buttoned-up American doctor, Ted Fielding (Will Forte), who arrives in Ireland to stay with them for two months: his research grant providing the Caseys with essential financial aid. Vanetia’s a dynamo, but with two young kids and both men in the house, she’s feeling bombarded and initially treats Ted and his study of Conor with resistance. Only when she observes Ted’s calming influence on the family does she begin to value his friendship, and, in return, Ted enjoys her heady, happy-go-lucky world. But Ted’s continued presence in the house sets the family on course for an emotional collision. 


Kid for Cash Movie PosterKids For Cash is a riveting look behind the notorious judicial scandal that rocked the nation. Beyond the millions paid and high stakes corruption, Kids For Cash exposes a shocking American secret. In the wake of the shootings at Columbine, a small town celebrates a charismatic judge who is hell-bent on keeping kids in line...until one parent dares to question the motives behind his brand of justice. This real life thriller reveals the untold stories of the masterminds at the center of the scandal and the chilling aftermath of lives destroyed in the process - a stunning emotional roller coaster.


The Last of the Unjust Movie PosterClaude Lanzmann, whose epic, landmark film Shoah is certainly the definitive film about the Holocaust – returns to one of the interview subjects from that film to unravel the tale of the ‘model’ concentration camp, Theresienstadt, and the ambiguous leader of its Jewish Council, Benjamin Murmelstein, a former rabbi who spent the war years negotiating on a day-to-day basis with Adolf Eichmann



Omar Movie PosterA tense, gripping thriller about betrayal, suspected and real, in the Occupied Territories. Omar (Adam Bakri) is a Palestinian baker who routinely climbs over the separation wall to meet up with his girl Nadja (Leem Lubany). By night, he’s either a freedom fighter or a terrorist—you decide—ready to risk his life to strike at the Israeli military with his childhood friends Tarek (Eyad Hourani) and Amjad (Samer Bisharat). Arrested after the killing of an Israeli soldier and tricked into an admission of guilt by association, he agrees to work as an informant. So begins a dangerous game—is he playing his Israeli handler (Waleed F. Zuaiter) or will he really betray his cause? And who can he trust on either side? Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad (Paradise Now) has made a dynamic, action-packed drama about the insoluable moral dilemmas and tough choices facing those on the frontlines of a conflict that shows no sign of letting up.


The Lunchbox Movie PosterMiddle class housewife Ila is trying once again to add some spice to her marriage, this time through her cooking. She desperately hopes that this new recipe will finally arouse some kind of reaction from her neglectful husband. She prepares a special lunchbox to be delivered to him at work, but, unbeknownst to her, it is mistakenly delivered to another office worker, Saajan, a lonely man on the verge of retirement. Curious about the lack of reaction from her husband, Ila puts a little note in the following day's lunchbox, in the hopes of getting to the bottom of the mystery.

This begins a series of lunchbox notes between Saajan and Ila, and the mere comfort of communicating with a stranger anonymously soon evolves into an unexpected friendship. Gradually, their notes become little confessions about their loneliness, memories, regrets, fears, and even small joys. They each discover a new sense of self and find an anchor to hold on to in the big city of Mumbai that so often crushes hopes and dreams. Still strangers physically, Ila and Saajan become lost in a virtual relationship that could jeopardize both their realities.



Stalingrad Movie PosterSTALINGRAD is an epic look at the battle that turned the tide of World War II. A band of determined Russian soldiers fight to hold a strategic building in their devastated city against a ruthless German army, and in the process become deeply connected a Russian woman who has been living there. Presented in IMAX® 3D, the scale of the battle contrasts dramatically with the human drama of the Russian soldiers, the few remaining civilians and their invaders into Stalingrad.

Stalingrad is directed by Fedor Bondarchuk (The 9th Company), with a screenplay by Ilya Tilkin and Sergey Snezhkin, based on chapters from the novel Life and Fate by Vasiliy Grossman. The film stars Thomas Kretschmann (King Kong, The Pianist), Petr Fedorov, Sergey Bondarchuk, Mariya Smolnikova and Yanina Studilina. Stalingrad is produced by Alexander Rodnyansky, Sergey Melkumov, Dmitriy Rudovskiy, Anton Zlatopolskiy, with executive producers Nataliya Gorina, Paul Heth and Michael Schlicht.

Bethlehem Movie Poster"Bethlehem” tells the story of the complex relationship between an Israeli Secret Service officer and his teenage Palestinian informant. Shuttling back and forth between conflicting points of view, the film is a raw portrayal of characters torn apart by competing loyalties and impossible moral dilemmas, giving an unparalleled glimpse into the dark and fascinating world of human intelligence.



The Face of Love Movie PosterTHE FACE OF LOVE is a romance filled with intrigue, surprise, and reflections on the mystery of love. Five years after losing the love her life, Nikki (Bening) falls in love first sight. Tom (Harris) is an art teacher with a kind heart and a great zest for life, but what he doesn't know is that he's also a near perfect double for Nikki's deceased husband. Seduced by the chance to live as if her husband was never lost, Nikki spirals into a fantasy of the present as past, while Tom must unravel the mystery behind her immediate and unconditional love.


The Grand Budapest Hotel  Movie PosterTHE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune -- all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.


Grand Piano Movie PosterTom Selznick (Elijah Wood), the most talented pianist of his generation, who has stopped performing in public because of his stage fright. Years after a catastrophic performance, he reappears in public for a long awaited concert in Chicago. In a packed theater, in front of an expectant audience, Tom finds a message written on the score: “Play one wrong note and you die.” In the sights of an anonymous sniper (John Cusack), Tom must get through the most difficult performance of his life and look for help without being detected.

Apart from his work as director, screenwriter and composer on his own films, Eugenio Mira has also worked as second unit director on J. Bayona's THE IMPOSSIBLE, composing music for Nacho Vigalondo's TIME CRIMES under the name Chucky Namanera, as well as acting alongside Robert De Niro in RED LIGHTS.



The Cold Lands MovieWhen Atticus’ mother dies unexpectedly, the eleven year old follows her instructions and flees the authorities to survive on his own in the forests of The Catskill Mountains.

Wandering the woods in shock, relying on what meager food and shelter he comes across, his grasp of reality wears thin. His sheltered childhood of home schooling and off-the-grid living in a log cabin with his anti-establishment mom is soon supplanted by a directionless life of wandering, avoiding other people and trying to differentiate between what is real and what is fantasy.

His nerves worn thin, Atticus latches onto the eccentric Carter, a scruffy wildman who lives out of his car, chain-smokes pot and sells handmade necklaces on the music festival circuit. A wary alliance forms, with each of them dependent on the other, but neither sure he’s making the right decision. 

Enemy PosterAcademy Award Nominee Jake Gyllenhaal reteams with his PRISONERS director, Academy Award Nominee Denis Villeneuve, in this sexy and hypnotically surreal psychological thriller that breathes new life into the doppleganger tradition. 

Adam Bell (Gyllenhaal) is a glum, disheveled history professor, who seems disinterested even in his beautiful girlfriend, Mary (Laurent). Watching a movie on the recommendation of a colleague, Adam spots his double, a bit-part actor named Anthony Clair, and decides to track him down. The identical men meet and their lives become bizarrely and irrevocably intertwined.

Gyllenhaal is transfixing as both Adam and Anthony, provoking empathy as well as disapproval while embodying two distinct personas. With masterfully controlled attention to detail, Villeneuve takes us on an enigmatic and gripping journey through a world that is both familiar and strange - and hard to shake off long after its final, unnerving image.

ENEMY, adapted from Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago's 2004 novel The Double, is about the power of the subconscious. In the end, only one man can survive. 


  ERNEST & CELESTINE March 14, 2014
Ernest & Celestine Movie PosterFrom the creators of Kirikou and the Sorceress, Triplets of Belleville and The Secret of Kells comes a visually stunning, enormously entertaining new film with generation-spanning appeal. 

Deep below snowy, cobblestone streets, tucked away in networks of winding subterranean tunnels, lives a civilization of hardworking mice, terrified of the bears who live above ground. Unlike her fellow mice, Celestine is an artist and a dreamer – and when she nearly ends up as breakfast for ursine troubadour Ernest, the two form an unlikely bond. But it isn’t long before their friendship is put on trial by their respective bear-fearing and mice-eating communities. Fresh from standing ovations at Cannes and Toronto, Ernest & Celestine joyfully leaps across genres and influences to capture the kinetic, limitless possibilities of animated storytelling. Like a gorgeous watercolor painting brought to life, a constantly shifting pastel color palette bursts and drips across the screen, while wonderful storytelling and brilliant comic timing draw up influences as varied as Buster Keaton, Bugs Bunny and the outlaw romanticism of Bonnie and Clyde. Bringing it all together is the on-screen chemistry between the two lead characters – a flowing, tender and playful rapport that will put a smile on your face and make your heart glow. 





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