When a misunderstanding leads to a traffic violation, Molly (Molly Reisman) is determined to contest the $300 ticket. But soon things start to spiral out of control. Everything she move she makes, albeit well-intentioned, put a strain on her home and work life. And when her new roommate Gabrielle (Sofia Banzhaf) refuses to serve as a witness despite being present during the traffic stop, Molly begins to lash out.
If you’ve ever felt like the odds have been stacked against you, then this film is for you. Directed by Adrian Murray, Retrograde is a study in neurosis and those microaggressions that drive us crazy. Molly is both a sympathetic and annoying character. She’s overly sensitive, anxious but absolutely valid in her feelings. The people around her refuse to be called out on their bullshit making her journey even that more frustrating. Added to the story is the theme of astrology which is a catalyst for debate among the characters.
Retrograde premiered at the 2022 Slamdance Film Festival.
Directed by Gosha Shapiro (they/them), cosboi is a short film that follows the story of a genderqueen teen who goes on a journey of self-discovery through TikTok and anonymous Uber-type rides. Through the power of the For You Page on TikTok, the teen is inspired by advice and wisdom to venture out and practice new forms of themselves in conversation with rideshare drivers. This film beautifully demonstrates a pivotal time in a teen’s life when they are discovering who they are through self-reflection, media consumption, practice and rebellion.
cosboi premiered at the 2022 Slamdance Film Festival.
“Jazz is the soundtrack of New York.”
The year is 2017 and the Cabaret Law is still in effect in New York City. Enacted in 1926 during Prohibition, the law states that any business serving food and drink must pay for a license in order to also allow their patrons to dance. This prohibitive law proved to be inherently racist as it hurt minority run businesses in poorer neighborhoods, especially those who couldn’t afford the fee. And now the days of this obscure but hurtful law are numbered.
Written and directed Christina Kallas, Paris is in Harlem takes place during the final days of the Cabaret Law. It follows various characters, all of whom eventually visit the Paris Blues, a legendary Jazz bar in Harlem once run by Samuel Hargress Jr. to whom the film is dedicated. Much like with Kallas’ film The Rainbow Experiment, Paris is in Harlem employs split screens, cuts and varying perspectives to offer the viewer a multi-character mosaic. While there are many storylines, everything is anchored by the ongoing angst caused by institutional racism, the threat of gun violence, cancel culture and the Cabaret Law. Even tackling these heavy subjects, Paris is in Harlem is a film brimming with hope and joy. It serves as a reminder the power of community and human connection.
Paris is in Harlem premiered at the 2022 Slamdance Film Festival.
Documentary filmmaker Ondi Timoner has given us all a precious gift with her deeply personal film Last Flight Home. Her father Eli Timoner is the focus of this moving documentary about dying with dignity. He was the co-founder of Air Florida and with his wife Elissa they raised three children. A stroke in the early 1980s left Eli disabled. With the prejudice that came with a noticeable disability and some bad luck, Eli and his family eventually went bankrupt. Eli held onto the shame of this for many years. And for the last few weeks of his life, his family helped guide him in his journey to release this shame and to realize that his great success was the love he both gave and received.
Last Flight Home follows Eli and his family during his time at home in hospice. Because the family was based in California, he was able to opt for death with dignity so that he could pass away on his own terms. Timoner generously lets the viewer in, allowing us to feel like we are part of this very loving family. Death is a difficult subject to tackle but the more we know, the more we’re empowered to help each other and to help ourselves in this last journey in life. I’m not sure I’ve ever been as moved by a documentary as I have with this one. Thank you to the Timoner family for letting us be part of Eli’s last flight home.
Last Flight Home premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
Nature sings in Francisca Alegría’s magical realism film The Cow Who Sang a Song into the Future. Magdalena (Mia Maestro) has emerged from the waters where she committed suicide many years ago. She visits the members of her family who all have different reactions to seeing her. Magdalena doesn’t speak but brings an energy with her that sparks electricity and makes the cows, the bees, the fish and other elements of nature sing beautiful music. While herr family is confused by her presence, Magdalena offers no closure; just reconnection.
This hauntingly beautiful Chilean fable reminds us that we are one with nature and we must protect it. It’s not a film to make sense of. Rather one to simply experience.
The Cow Who Sang a Song into the Future premiered at the 2022 Sundance FIlm Festival.