If You See One Film on Video this Year, Make It this One

We have an extremely limited view of young people born with disabilities. We use the word “obstacles” a lot with them: “Look at the brave young disabled person overcoming obstacles.”But we don’t often think of them as just being people. Going through all the same personal trials as everyone else. Growing up. Getting an education. Screwing up and doing stupid things they later regret.And we never ever want to think of them as sexual beings. Having the pangs of first love. Learning how to f … [Read more...]

L.A. Film Fest: “Out of Iraq” Tells a Moving Love Story in Time of War

"And if there were only some way of contriving that a state or an army should be made up of lovers and their loves, they would be the very best governors of their own city, abstaining from all dishonor, and emulating one another in honor; and when fighting at each other’s side, although a mere handful, they would overcome the world.” – Phaedrus, in Plato’s Symposium.Sometimes it seems like staying together with the one you love means overcoming the world. In other cases, like the love sto … [Read more...]

From the L.A. Film Festival: FREE CECE!

In 2011 Chrishaun Cece McDonald, a black transgender woman, was attacked by a group of white people while walking to the grocery store. In the conflict, she fatally stabbed one of her attackers. Cece was arrested and eventually served 19 months in jail, a sentence that was drastically reduced thanks to the support of a network of grassroots advocates. … [Read more...]

From the L.A. Film Festival: 11:55 and BLOOD STRIPE

Two films at this year's L.A. Film Festival explore two sides of veterans' experiences returning home after fighting overseas. The first, 11:55, considers the difficulties of limited opportunities at home in a gang take on a classic western. The second, Blood Stripe, features a female lead and explores the effects of PTSD on returning vets. Reviews of both below. … [Read more...]


Jesse Owens is synonymous with greatness and triumphing over unimaginable odds at the 1936 Olympic Games in Nazi-controlled Berlin. But, contrary to popular opinion, he wasn't alone. In fact, Owens was only one of 18 African American Olympians to compete in those games. The new documentary, Olympic Pride, American Prejudice, tells the story of those American heroes. … [Read more...]

From the L.A. Film Fest: JACKSON

Jackson is not only one of the best documentaries to premier at this year's L.A. Film Festival, it's sure to be one of the best of the year, period. From first-time writer/director Maisie Crow, it's an assured film that is simultaneously fierce and kind in its depiction of two sides of a desperate crisis and in the questions that it asks and (implicitly) answers.  … [Read more...]


Critics and moviegoers at this year's L.A. Film Festival are praising the diverse lineup. Three-quarters of the festival's world premiers are directed by women or people of color. Eighty percent of the entries are from first-time filmmakers. These are welcome statistics indeed. Two of these films, though set in drastically different locations, use scandalous relationships to explore highly contested spaces, female and gay sexuality and agency. The View from Tall and Play the Devil are sometimes t … [Read more...]

What Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Says about the Church

Susanna Clarke’s fantasy novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell begins in a peculiar place for a story about magic. As it commences in 1806, magic has ceased to be done in England for 300 years. There are magicians, but they meet in societies and discuss magic. They are theoretical magicians, not practical magicians. And in fact the doing of magic has become a bit disrespectable—associated with parlor tricks and fortune-telling done by grimy street performers. Thus, the “Learned Society of York … [Read more...]