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Musician

One of Movieline Magazine’s
“Seven Masterpieces of the ’00s You’ve Likely Never Seen”

“A masterpiece… Among the most significant efforts of the year – or any year this decade, for that matter.”
– Movieline

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The life and hard work of Ken Vandermark,
legendary avant-jazz saxophonist and MacArthur Genius Award Winner

A unique, essential, and utterly fascinating portrait of life as a professional musician

“Critic’s pick . . . radically fresh . . . shot and edited with the same inquisitive spirit that defined Studs Terkel’s oral history Working.”
– Matt Zoller Seitz, New York Times

“Deceptively simple . . . one of the best films of the year . . . a succession of haunting realities, none more so than a map of the shattered line between so many of our personal and professional lives.”
– S.T. VanAirsdale, The Reeler

“RECOMMENDED. Paints a vibrant but decidely unglamorous portrait. The end result is a strange duality between work and play: Vandermark loves what he does, but because resources for the improvising musician are so limited, he can never rest.”
– Chicago Reader

The second film in Daniel Kraus’ WORK Series, a set of independent documentaries designed to create an on-going record of the American worker.

Common sense says you can’t make a living in America playing avant-garde improvisational jazz. But Ken Vandermark does it anyway.

Among musicians, Vandermark’s work ethic is almost mythic. The Chicago reed player has released over 100 albums with nearly 40 ensembles, spends over eight months per year on the road, and lives every other waking moment composing, arranging, performing — and trying to discipline his two hyperactive canines. Though Vandermark was the recipient of a 1999 MacArthur genius grant, he still spends most of his life in smoky clubs and low-budget recording studios, hoping people will plunk down hard-earned cash to hear his wholly non-commercial music.

Following the artful cinéma vérité style of the internationally acclaimed Sheriff, Musician forgoes all interviews and voice-overs. It is a fly-on-the-wall time capsule that expertly captures every subtle sound and texture of this most American of art forms.

Musician is a precise and insightful cinema verite study of Ken Vandermark . . . Offers an unglamorized portrait of the artist as a purposeful drudge. Well-crafted and compelling.”
– Variety

“Illuminating!”
– Andrey Henkin, The Villager

Long Knives Night and Reporting from a Rabbit Hutch

A ferocious film in two parts, depicting and severely criticizing the rise and reign of Alexander Lukashenko, dictator of Belarus.

Organize, or suggest, a public screening for the film

“…makes Fahrenheit 9/11 seem tepid and weak…a brutal and brilliant bit of filmmaking.”
– Jim Knipfel, New York Press

“Indelible portraits of power’s absolute corruption…an astonishing diatribe…heaves with disturbing scenes of violence against innocent Belarussians…a primal howl of outrage.”
– Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times

“scuffed-knuckle…open a window on an atrocious reality American media channels don’t bother to report…sharp, instructive, and mad as hell cheap cialis online.”
– Michael Atkinson, Village Voice

“Fearless… here through vision and daring.”
– Milos Stehlik of Facets Multi-Media

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With fury and agony, Long Knives Night and Reporting from a Rabbit Hutch confront Europe’s last dictator: Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus.  Writer / director Victor Dashuk has risked imprisonment and abuse – common for dissidents, as you see in the films – to depict and attack Lukashenko’s rise to authority.

Long Knives Night chronicles the 1996 anti-constitutional coup in Belarus.  Lukashenko’s actions are both symbolic and explicitly political: he reverts to Soviet-style state symbolism, blocks voting, and sics riot police on protesters to beat them bloody.  With breathtaking access, Dashuk also reveals footage of the actual elected legislators locked out of their offices by the President’s own guards.

The New York Times describes Reporting from a Rabbit Hutch as “less philosophical and more turbulent…explores the realities of life in Belarus and the fates of those who dare oppose the president. Driven by the voices of Belarussian citizens…the film heaves with disturbing scenes of violence against innocent Belarussians.”

Though widely recognized as one of the most dangerous men in the world, Lukashenko has rarely before been depicted on film.  When finally revealed in New York City in 2006, they caused a sensation.  Now, at last, these harrowing and absolutely essential films are ready for all.

“Long Knives Night.”  Documentary, 56 minutes, 1999.  Written and directed by Victor Dashuk.  “Reporting from a Rabbit Hutch.” Documentary, 40 minutes, 2001.  Written and directed by Victor Dashuk.

Sheriff

As seen on PBS’ Independent Lens

The first film in Daniel Kraus’ WORK Series, a set of independent documentaries designed to create an on-going record of the American worker.

“This insightful program offers an intriguing peek at small-town law enforcement.”
– Booklist

“without taking anything away from [Frederick] Wiseman, who remains a master, Sheriff is almost as good any documentary he’s made.”
– Noel Murray, The Onion

Sheriff Ronald E. Hewett oversees the rural Southern community of Brunswick County, North Carolina. Heading up what used to be a backwards, back-woods department, Hewett strives to maintain order and civility in a region fraught with murder, robbery, and the occasional theft of ceramic lawn ornaments. To accomplish this impossible task, Hewett uses the only tools at his disposal — God, guns, and the hundreds of blood relatives that populate his jurisdiction.

At once brutal, bizarre and funny, Sheriff employs the techniques of Frederick Wiseman’s pure cinéma vérité: no interviews, no music, no voice-overs. The result is an unexpected, intimate portrait of a complex man trying to do good in a bad, bad world.

Sheriff is an intimate portrait of an admirable blue-collar man and the first in the WORK Series, a set of independent documentaries from director Daniel Kraus designed to create an on-going record of the American worker.

Bjork’s Voltaic: The Volta Tour Live in Paris and Reykjavik

“Björk delivers a performance as visually spectacular as it is musically innovative.  Fifteen years into her solo career, Björk remains the least compromising and most fantastical pop superstar talent.”
– The Guardian

“No other songwriter can sound so naïve and so instinctual while building such elaborate structures. And few musicians have managed to sustain her unlikely combination of avant-gardism and pop visibility.”
– Jon Pareles, The New York Times

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Voltaic: The Volta tour Live in Paris and Reykjavik is a remarkable, multi-media document of Björk’s visually dazzling Volta tour.  Full of on-your-feet moments, the film features highlights recorded in Paris and Reykjavik, with performances of songs from Volta as well as earlier tracks including Hunter, Joga, Army of Me, and Hyperballad.

Screened in over 20 U.S. cities in anticipation of the DVD release through Nonesuch Records.

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Christmas on Mars: A Fantastical Film Freakout Featuring the Flaming Lips

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“Endearingly ragged…destined for cult status…abetted with homemade-looking but sometimes lyrical effects.”
– Andy Webster, New York Times

Christmas on Mars is great, if only you could understand it…a psychedelic accomplishment that will inevitably gain more favor as it ages…Twilight Zone poetry.”
– Metro Boston

“a moody, somewhat demented trip, albeit one with amateur actors and giant genitalia in astronaut suits.”
– Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times

“It’s basically as weird as you’d hoped.”
– Isaac Butler, New York Magazine

“this mostly black-and-white, dreamlike yuletide fable does possess its own dorky DIY charm, as space-suited men wander around narrow enclosures in various stages of dissociation, Santas commit airlock suicide, and a nurse/mother in a giant lightbulb births a bubble baby.”
– Variety

Legendary rock band the Flaming Lips present Christmas on Mars: A Fantastical Film Freakout Featuring the Flaming Lips, a glorious science fiction film that marks the directorial debut of the Lips’ visionary frontman Wayne Coyne.  Seven years in the making, Christmas on Mars features original music by the Flaming Lips (“The greatest U.S. band today” – The Guardian), with acting performances by all band members, and many others from their Oklahoma City-based team.  Comedian Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) and actor Adam Goldberg (Dazed and Confused, Two Days in Paris) also appear, as does performer Steve Burns of the band Steve Burns and the Struggle (who had also appeared in children’s television show Blue’s Clues).  Bradley Beesley and George Salisbury co-directed the movie with Mr. Coyne.

It’s Christmastime, and the colonization of Mars is underway.  However, when an oxygen generator and a gravity control pod malfunction, Major Syrtis (the Lips’ Steven Drozd) and his team (including the Lips’ Michael Ivins) fear the worst.  Syrtis also hallucinates about the birth of a baby, and many other strange things.  Meanwhile, a compassionate alien superbeing (Coyne) arrives, inspiring and helping the isolated astronauts.

Des Moines, Iowa / Columbia, South Carolina / Moline, Illinois / Atlanta, Georgia / Peoria, Illinois / Naperville, Illinois / Nashville, Tennessee / Dallas, Texas / Whitewater, Wisconsin / Lake Geneva, Wisconsin / Orlando, Florida / West Bend, Wisconsin / Omaha, Nebraska / Providence, Rhode Island / Bremen, Indiana / San Francisco, California / St. Pete Beach, Florida / Cleveland, Ohio / Cambridge, Massachusetts / Los Angeles, California / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania / New Orleans, Louisiana / Winnipeg, Manitoba / Ann Arbor, Michigan / Ithaca, New York / Columbus, Ohio / Denver, Colorado / Hot Springs, Arkansas / Santa Barbara, California / Purchase, New York / Minneapolis, Minnesota / Seattle, Washington / Hartford, Connecticut / Buffalo, New York / Kansas City, Missouri / Miami, Florida / Pontiac, Michigan / Chicago, Illinois / Bellingham, Washington / Chico, California / Spartanburg, South Carolina / Missoula, Montana / Urbana-Champaign, Illinois / Athens, Georgia / Boulder, Colorado / Tucson, Arizona / Houston, Texas / Asheville, North Carolina / St Louis, Missouri / Roanoke, Virginia / Brooklyn, New York / Albuquerque, New Mexico / Phoenix, Arizona / Paducah, Kentucky / Portland, Oregon / Tulsa, Oklahoma / Portland, Maine / Jacksonville, Florida / Austin, Texs / San Antonio, Texas / Madison, Wisconsin / Lexington, Kentucky / Grand Rapids, Michigan / Waterville, Maine / Northfield, Minnesota / Chicago, Illinois / Ithaca, New York / London, England / Monticello, New York / Santa Fe, New Mexico / Luton, UK / Springfield, Missouri / Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK / Atlanta, Georgia / Fort Collins, Colorado / Cardiff, Wales / Bern, Switzerland / Tempe, Arizona

Christmas on Mars: A Fantastical Film Freakout Featuring the Flaming Lips. Directed by Wayne Coyne; with Bradley Beesley and George Salisbury. Written by Wayne Coyne.  Starring Steven Drozd, Wayne Coyne, and Michael Ivins, with Kliph Scurlock, J. Michelle Martin-Coyne, Steve Burns, Fred Armisen, Adam Goldberg, Scott Booker.  Produced by Scott Booker, the Flaming Lips, and Warner Brothers Records.  Cinematography by Bradley Beesley.  Edited by George Salisbury.  Original music by the Flaming Lips.  85 mins.  Black and white, with some sequences in color.  Released by Cinema Purgatorio and Warner Brothers Records.

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