Forever Pure

Filmmaker Maya Zinshtein embeds herself inside the locker room of Jerusalem’s Beitar football club, which became a flashpoint for controversy in 2012 when the signing of two Muslim players brought down the racist wrath of the team’s long-time fans. The young players are taunted by calls of "death to Arabs" and live under constant threat. The Israeli players are caught between loyalty for their new teammates and allegiance to their old fans. When the team captain attempts to bridge the divide, he pays dearly for it. FOREVER PURE is a cautionary tale of mob behavior, and a sympathetic look at the human beings caught in the middle.

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Frantz

FRANTZ is an elegiac tale of love and remembrance set in a small German town in the aftermath of World War I. A young woman mourning the death of her fiancé forms a bond with a mysterious Frenchman named Adrien, who has arrived to lay flowers on her beloved’s grave. Initially unwelcome in the community, it emerges that Adrien and Frantz had become friends during the pre-war period and Anna eventually warms to this sensitive Frenchman. But this is only the beginning of a story whose twists and turns take us down emotionally haunting avenues.

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The Function of Music

Jad Abumrad, host of the popular NPR program RadioLab, sits down with artist and director Mac Premo to discuss what sound and music are, and what function music may play in our lives. Premo gives visual form to the discussion through a mix of collage, live action film, and stop-motion animation.

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Gook

It’s 1992 in Los Angeles and Eli and Daniel, two Korean American brothers, struggle to keep their father’s shoe store afloat. They’re the unlikely pals of Kamilla, a sassy, 11-year-old African American girl from the neighborhood, who ditches school to secretly hang out at their store. When Kamilla’s brother Keith discovers that she’s spending time with “those gooks,” he plots revenge on them. Meanwhile, on the day of the announcement of the Rodney King verdict, larger acts of violence loom as the LA riots move closer to their world.

GOOK could be an independent film from the early 1990s, but the perspective on and insight into race relations between Korean Americans and African Americans in Los Angeles are more relevant than ever, 25 years after the fact. With humor, heart, and scrappy immediacy, writer/director/lead actor Justin Chon re-centers this moment in history to tell a story about a first generation of Korean Americans amid the chaos and complexity of a multiracial LA, where everybody is looking to survive on their own terms and their own values.

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Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

Sidney Poitier enjoyed an extraordinarily successful run in 1967 with three back-to-back box-office hits: TO SIR WITH LOVE, IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, (which picked up the Oscar for Best Picture) and GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER. And yet, even during its original theatrical run, many critics and ticket-buyers dismissed the third feature in that lineup as creakily dated—more than one wag dubbed it The Best New Movie of 1947—and, worse, too timid by half while detailing the romance between an African-American doctor (Poitier) and his conspicuously Caucasian fiancée (Katharine Houghton), and the initially awkward response by the young woman’s putatively liberal parents (Hollywood legends Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn).

If you view director Stanley Kramer’s comedy in the context of 1967, however, you cannot help appreciating the sheer nerviness of the enterprise: At the time it was green-lit, interracial marriage was outlawed 17 states, a fact duly noted by a character in the film. (The Loving v. Virginia ruling actually was handed down by the Supreme Court while Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner was in production.) Another sign of the times: The movie was still in theaters when Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. Out of respect for the slain civil right leader, Columbia Pictures snipped a joking reference to Dr. King from all prints then in circulation.

Ultimately, GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER was considered a success in the racially volatile year of 1967 and went on to receive 10 Academy Award-nominations, including Best Picture.

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Gut Hack

A bio-hacker seeks to cure himself of digestive issues by swapping his microbiome with a donor's, a controversial technique.

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Heartstone (Hjartasteinn)

In a remote fishing village in Iceland, two teenage boys, Thor and Christian, experience a turbulent summer as one tries to win the heart of a girl, while the other discovers new feelings toward his best friend. When summer ends, and the harsh nature of Iceland takes back its rights, it’s time for them to leave the playground and face adulthood.

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The Hero

Lee Hayden is an aging Western icon with a golden voice, but his best performances are decades behind him. He spends his days reliving old glories and smoking too much weed with his former-co-star-turned-dealer, until a surprise cancer diagnosis brings his priorities into sharp focus. He soon strikes up an exciting, contentious relationship with a stand-up comic and attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter, all while searching for one final role to cement his legacy. THE HERO is a sometimes difficult, yet warm and ultimately touching portrait of an artist who realizes he isn’t quite ready to hang up his spurs.

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