THIS WORLD IS NOT MY OWN
Beginning with her birthday July 4, 1900, artist Nellie Mae Rowe’s life spanned the 20th century. For most of her life, Nellie made art in obscurity, propelled by a force she viewed as a God-given gift. As the daughter of a sharecropper and former slave, she made art from whatever she could find. As an adult, she transformed her home into her “Playhouse,” an imaginative oasis filled with vibrant drawings, handmade sculptures and dolls, and collected objects. Six years before her death, a wealthy gallerist, Judith Alexander, “discovered” and introduced her work to the art world.
Over four acts and an interlude, This World is Not My Own traces the lifespan of an artist who struggles to dedicate her life to art while exploring the personal and political events that shaped her singular body of work. The film mixes traditional documentary techniques with animations and scripted scenes shot in intricately detailed sets to bring her dynamic story to life.
Opendox created film sets that reimagine Nellie’s “Playhouse,” and partnered with Kaktus Film to design and animate 3D characters in Nellie’s and her gallerist’s likenesses. Actresses, Uzo Aduba and Amy Warren, perform scripted scenes based on Nellie Mae Rowe quotes. Their recorded voices and movements make the animated Nellie and Judith come to life.
This World is Not My Own tells the story of a woman who was born an artist, but had to overcome many obstacles to dedicate herself to her art. Ultimately, Nellie builds the world she wants to live in. She invites Judith to join her, and for us to consider what they left behind.
Playland conjures a time-bending night in Boston’s oldest and most notorious gay bar. Featuring an eclectic ensemble of queer performers, including drag icon Lady Bunny and Pose‘s Danielle Cooper, the transdisciplinary film sees music, dance, archival footage, tableaux, opera, and performance art layered into an ethereal piece subverting all boundaries. The work of queer fantasy and history takes place inside the empty husk of the Playland Café. Although the cafe shut down in the late ’90s, West stages one last bawdy night on the town for the ghosts of their LGBTQ+ ancestors.
Demolished but never forgotten, the Playland Café provided a meeting ground for an exceptionally diverse crowd — throughout its lifespan, it featured acts from drag performances to DJ sets and was connected to Pride rallies and underground gay newspapers. As a gathering place for outsiders, it was also a target for police raids and zoning redevelopment projects.
Playland premiered at Rotterdam followed by Tribeca.
Adjectives used to describe the film include: "...transdisciplinary," "...expressionist," "...an ethereal piece subverting all boundaries...," "...an uncanny and eclectic film..."
Directed by Georden West, English, 72 minutes, English
JAMIE WYETH AND THE UNFLINCHING EYE
As the heir to an unparalleled three-generation dynasty in American art, Jamie Wyeth struggles to find his own voice during the colorful turmoil of pop culture and politics from the 1960s to the present. This first feature-length documentary of the artist follows his journey capturing iconic figures like John F. Kennedy, Andy Warhol, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudolf Nureyev, as well as his unique, sometimes unsettling, views of domestic life, the islands of Maine and his own personal ghosts.
Directed by Chayne Gregg, 80 minutes, English, 2023
THE DAY AFTER TRINITY
THE DAY AFTER TRINITY documentary tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904–1967), the theoretical physicist who led the effort to build the first atomic bomb, tested in July 1945 at Trinity site in New Mexico.
When theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer became director of the Manhattan Project, he brought with him a love of poetry, philosophy and Eastern religion. In the years following Trinity, the classified maiden test of a prototype atomic bomb, Oppenheimer revealed himself as a thoughtful man who felt both a duty to his country and a deep regret for the death and destruction caused by his leadership in the development of the weapon that heralded the arrival of the Atomic Age. It features interviews with several Manhattan Project scientists, as well as newly declassified archival footage.
WONDERS ARE MANY: THE MAKING OF DOCTOR ATOMIC
Wonders Are Many: The Making of Doctor Atomic is a highly original, darkly funny feature documentary which chronicles the creation of composer John Adams and director Peter Sellars’ new opera about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the first atomic bomb. As it explores the making of the opera Doctor Atomic, the film simultaneously weaves a striking newly declassified historical tale of the real events behind the drama, a new story of how the largest weapons in our nuclear arsenal came to be, how they work, and how we have learned to live with them.
"Art and science form a combustible fusion in Jon Else’s elegant and wide-ranging “Wonders Are Many: The Making of Doctor Atomic.” A dazzling case of the right filmmaker attached to the right subject, Else comprehensively captures the making of the 2005 San Francisco Opera world premiere of composer John Adams and director Peter Sellars’ opera, “Doctor Atomic,” on J. Robert Oppenheimer and the creation of the first atomic bomb.”
Robert Koehler, Variety
Sundance Film Festival
Directed by Jon Else, English, 90 minutes, 2007
LAND OF GOLD
Land of Gold explores the making of John Adams and Peter Sellars’s outlandish new opera about the California Gold Rush. The film transports us into very funny and very dark worlds, as two versions of the same story march forward 170 years apart: men and women on a collision course in California on the Fourth of July, 1851, and behind the scenes with quick-witted young opera singers excavating that same history in the age of Trump. Whatever you were expecting in a documentary about the Gold Rush, this is not it.
Amid the backstage hubbub, composer John Adams, singers Julia Bullock, Paul Appleby, J’Nai Bridges, and director Peter Sellars wrestle their bittersweet show “Girls of the Golden West” onto the stage. In Jon Else’s third documentary with Adams, Deadwood meets A Night at the Opera, as this rollicking documentary lays bare the flamboyant and brutal roots of modern American excess.
Directed by Jon Else, English, 2021, 73 minutes
The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World
It is one of the most iconic images of our time: two African-American medal winners at the 1968 Olympics standing in silent protest with heads bowed and fists raised as “The Star Spangled Banner” is played. Fifty years later, that singular event remains deeply inspiring, controversial and even misunderstood as one of the most overtly political statement in the annals of sport. The Stand: How One Gesture Shook the World is a revealing exploration into the circumstances that led runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos to that historic moment at the Mexico City Games, mining the great personal risks they took and the subsequent fallout they endured. Through intimate interviews with the participants and witnesses involved in that moment, along with compelling images and archive, the film explores the 1968 Olympics human rights stand in the context of a critically important and volatile time for the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. While the film documents this lasting moment in American history, The Stand also remains faithful to what was, for athletes and millions of Olympic fans around the world, a riveting 200-meter footrace between the fastest runners of the day, young people in their athletic prime striving to be the best on one October day in Mexico City.
Tommie Smith: 1968 Olympic 200m gold medalist
John Carlos: 1968 Olympic 200m bronze medalist
Harry Edwards: activist and mentor
Ralph Boston: 1968 Olympic team member
Mel Pender: 1968 Olympic team member
Paul Hoffman: 1968 Olympic team member
Cleve Livingston: 1968 Olympic team member
Patty VanWolvelaere: 1968 Olympic team member
Edwin Roberts: 1968 Olympic 200m finalist
Larry Quested: 1968 Olympic 200m finalist
Tom Farrell: 1968 Olympic team member
Richard Lapchick: activist and historian
Brian Meeks: Chair, Department of Africana Studies, Brown University
Francoise Hamlin: Associate Professor in History and Africana Studies, Brown University
From the makers of “Bannister: Everest on the Track,” named by Indiewire as one of the best sports documentaries of all time.
THE SAME STORM
Filmed using iPhones and laptops during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Same Storm is an intimate look into the lives of twenty-four characters as they journey through the spring and summer of 2020. With lockdowns, the Black Lives Matter movement and the looming 2020 elections as key backdrops, the film explores the necessity of human connection, family, love and the ability to find empathy during a fraught, untenable time. Featuring an all-star cast, including Sandra Oh, Mary-Louise Parker, Elaine May, Moses Ingram, Raul Castillo, Noma Dumezweni, and many more, writer/director Peter Hedges crafts a unique piece of hopeful filmmaking that demonstrates and celebrates the ability of art to connect us.
Directed by Peter Hedges, 99 minutes, 2022.
Róise & Frank
Róise is still grieving the loss of her husband, Frank, when a mysterious dog shows up at her door. Mildly annoyed by the canine attempting to disrupt her mourning, she attempts to ignore him. But before long, a series of coincidences convince her that somehow this shaggy dog is her husband Frank reincarnated. Soon the dog will win over others in their small town, as well as becoming the unlikely coach to a shy, hurling-loving local boy, before mysteriously disappearing. Part drama, part comedy, this wonderful Irish film is sure to deliver smiles, tears, and laughs to film lovers of all ages.
Winner – Audience Choice Award – 2022 Santa Barbara Film Festival
“You’d need a shard of ice in your heart not to be charmed even just a little by this eccentric Irish-language comedy.” – Cath Clarke, Guardian
Directed by Rachael Moriarty & Peter Murphy
Language: Gaelic with English subtitles
Runtime: 88 minutes
Song For Cesar
History will remember the blood, sweat, and tears shed by late civil-rights activist and labor leader Cesar Chavez while standing up for American farmworkers. In Song for Cesar, co-writers and co-directors Andres Alegria and Abel Sanchez build on that legacy and pride through the music of Chavez’s era. Daniel Valdez’s “Brown Eyed Children of the Sun,” Joel Rafael’s “El Bracero,” Little Joe y La Familia’s “Viva la Huelga,” and other songs became the powerful soundtrack for Latino farmworkers who otherwise felt invisible and unheard. Through stunning archival photographs and footage and interviews with icons that include Carlos Santana, Joan Baez, Cheech Marin, Edward James Olmos, Maya Angelou, and Chavez’s United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta, this affectionate documentary hits many inspiring notes, expressing the emotion that flourished artistically during the Chicano Movement of the 1960s. As filmmaker and playwright Luis Valdez (Zoot Suit) says in the film, “Beware of a movement that sings.” –Kiko Martinez
DIRECTOR: Andres Alegria, Abel Sanchez
PRODUCERS: Andres Alegria, Abel Sanchez
CINEMATOGRAPHERS: Andres Alegria, Heath Orchard, Jose Luis Cosme
RUNNING TIME: 85min
Barbara Rubin and The Exploding New York Underground
Made when she was just 18 years old, Barbara Rubin’s art-porn masterpiece Christmas On Earth (1963-65) shocked NYC’s experimental film scene and inspired NYC’s thriving underground. For the next four years her filmmaking and irrepressible energy helped shatter artistic and sexist boundaries. A mythical “Zelig” of the sixties, she introduced Andy Warhol to the Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan to the Kabbalah. But beyond shaping the spirit of the sixties, Barbara was seeking the deeper meaning of life. After retiring to a farm with Allen Ginsberg, she shocked everyone by converting to Hasidic Judaism, marrying and moving to France to live an anonymous life. Tragically, she died in 1980 after giving birth to her fifth child. For years, Jonas Mekas treasured all of Barbara’s letters and films and cherished her memory. Working with Mekas’ footage, the film takes us inside the world and mind of Barbara Rubin; a woman who truly believed that film could change the world.
Director: Chuck Smith
Executive Producer: Chuck Smith
Cinematographer: Andy Bowley
Editor: Chuck Smith
Music: Lee Ranaldo
Running Time: 78
Getting Naked: A Burlesque Story
Uncovering New York City’s neo-burlesque subculture, Getting Naked offers a lingering look at several sexy denizens of the nightlife scene, including Gal Friday, Hazel Honeysuckle and the Schlep Sisters Minnie Tonka and Darlinda Just Darlinda whose acts range from the classic glamorous striptease to more overtly comedic schtick. Followed on- and offstage, these gifted performers reveal the liberation and empowerment they’ve gained from burlesque, even as they contend with the physical and financial demands of their competitive art form.
Director: James Lester
Producers: James Lester, Frank Hall Green. Chandra C. Silver. Susan Wrubel
Duration: 85 min
It’s New Years Eve and unhappily married couple, Benjamin Pax and his wife Katherine, are having one last hurrah with their closest friends before moving back to New York.
Benjamin is a playwright, author of the famous stage play, “Gifts of Truth,” and typically considers himself the most successful person in the room. He is also a renowned NYU acting professor, and the former teacher to Katherine and the rest of their friend group. Katherine is a mother and a successful photographer, and together they have built a nice, yet fragile life for themselves.
Like most friends from college, they have all kept in touch through the years, even though their lives have faded in different directions. As the night unfolds and each guest enters the house, a clearer picture begins to develop. They see who they were to each other, verses who they have become, and they begin to question how much their lives and ideas about one another have changed.
At the end of the night, Ben convinces them all to play a manipulative and destructive game called, “I Love You, I Hate You.” The brutal honesty that spills out as a result of this game causes relationships to fracture, old friends to confront ugly truths, and a gun to get drawn.
"New Year is an exemplary artistic showcase of the power of dialogue and performance, wrapped in a tightly constructed celluloid of truth." -Film Inquiry
RT: 88 minutes, English, directed by Nathan Sutton, starring Neil Jackson, Kyle Mac, Timothy V. Murphy, 2021