Marijnke de Jong and Robin Lutz came Center Stage with Mark Gordon to discuss their latest documentary M.C. ESCHER: JOURNEY TO INFINITY. M.C. Escher: Journey To Infinity is the story of world famous Dutch graphic artist M.C Escher (1898-1972). Equal parts history, psychology, and psychedelia, Robin Lutz’s entertaining, eye-opening portrait gives us the man through his own words and images: diary musings, excerpts from lectures, correspondence and more are voiced by British actor Stephen Fry, while Escher’s woodcuts, lithographs, and other print works appear in both original and playfully altered form. Two of his sons, George (92) and Jan (80), reminisce about their parents while musician Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills & Nash) talks about Escher’s rediscovery in the 1970s. The film looks at Escher’s legacy: one can see tributes to his work in movies, in fiction, on posters, on tattoos, and elsewhere throughout our culture; indeed, few fine artists of the 20th century can lay claim to such popular appeal. [...]
Braden Duemmler came Center Stage with Mark Gordon to talk about his first feature film, WHAT LIES BELOW, an eerie tale of family, love, and trust. The film follows Liberty, a socially awkward 16-year-old, who returns home from two months at camp to find her mother living with John Smith, a charming and intelligent man with perfect teeth and a chiseled body. His good looks captivate Liberty, but she soon realizes a deception lurking behind the man who may be too perfect to be human. Listen to the interview
Seth Savoy cames Center Stage with Mark Gordon to talk about his award-winning feature film ECHO BOOMERS. The film follows five college graduates, disillusioned Millennials, who feel frustrated by college debt and an unfair economy lash out seek revenge and riches from Chicago's well-healed. Listen to the interview Seth Savoy is a Cajun American film director and screenwriter from Little Rock, Arkansas. He studied filmmaking at Columbia College Chicago. There he made multiple award-winning short films that screened at more than 65 film festivals around the world. In 2015, Seth took his script “The Echo Boomers” to the Sundance Film Festival and won an independent pitch competition that caught the industry's attention. Five years later, he directed “Echo Boomers” with two academy nominees, Michael Shannon and Lesley Ann Warren, and established his niche of fun and flashy filmmaking with strong political commentary.
Jacob Chase came Center Stage with Mark Gordon to talk about his latest film COME PLAY, a new film about a boy and his scary friend Larry. COME PLAY follows Oliver, a lonely young boy who feels different from everyone else. Desperate for a friend, he seeks solace and refuge in his ever-present cell phone and tablet. When a mysterious creature uses Oliver's devices against him to break into our world, Oliver's parents must fight to save their son from the monster beyond the screen. About Jacob Chase Chase is an alum of the 2017 Sundance Episodic Lab and was listed as one of Hollywood's Top 100 New Writers on the 2017 Young & Hungry List. Additionally, he has written screenplays for Amazon, The Jim Henson Company, Cirque du Soleil and Bazelevs, among others. He won the 2016 Crash the Super Bowl contest with his commercial “Doritos Dogs,” which aired during the Super Bowl and earned him an exclusive directing [...]
Master of Horror Darren Lynn Bousman has been terrorizing audiences ever since he directed SAWII. His current film, DEATH OF ME, follows a couple whose beautiful island vacation turns into a nightmare when discovering a mysterious video of one of them killing the other. DEATH OF ME is currently streaming on Prime Video.
Malcolm Goodwin & Victor Hawks talk about their inspiring new film BE THE LIGHT, a musical/family drama about the power of love, faith, and redemption, follows a down and out girl who tries to make amends with her dying father. For more information about the film visit www.bethelightmovie.com
Mark Johnston and Mark Ryan discuss WINE AND WAR, a documentary about the history of winemaking in Lebanon and the resilience of the Lebanese entrepreneurial spirit seen through the lens of war and instability. The film will have its virtual theatrical release at Laemmle Theaters on October 9th and available at www.wineandwar.com. All proceeds from the film donated to CAP-HO, a charity providing medical care to children without insurance at the St. Georges Hospital in Beirut, hit hard by the August 4th explosion in the Lebanese capital.
James Keach talks about his latest film, TURNING POINT: A QUEST FOR A CURE, which follows a group of scientists searching for a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Listen to the interview with James Keach, streaming now on Spotify. Keach became interested in Alzheimer's disease while working on the documentary GLEN CAMPBELL: I'LL BE ME, which follows Campbell's battle with the illness. Two years filming Campbell on his last music tour turned into an eight-year journey of research, observation, and interviews with researchers, statisticians, neuroscientists, patients, care partners, government officials, and administrators, trying to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Keach recalls, "That experience really opened my mind and heart to the millions of families struggling to understand and grapple with the disease while slowly losing their loved ones - or themselves." For more information about the film and where you can watch it visit www.turningpointmovie.com
Sherrida Woodley talks about her award-winning novel Quick Fall of Light. Set during a bird flu epidemic, a woman vows to protect a passenger pigeon whose secret existence will determine humankind's future. The book's inspiration came from her experience working in a pathology lab in the mid-1990s. She saw how environmental destruction and extinction of endangered species could lead to the release of pathogens and viruses deadly to humans. Listen to the interview with Sherrida Woodley streaming now on Spotify
Award-winning documentary filmmaker and journalist Eric Merola talks about his latest film, THE ANDORRA HUSTLE, a documentary about a private bank closure in Andorra, meant to destroy the Catalonian Independence Movement. THE ANDORRA HUSTLE left dozens facing prison time for money laundering crimes that never existed and scores of innocent families losing their life savings. For more about the film, visit www.andorrahustle.com Listen to the interview with Eric Merola streaming now on Spotify
Dan Partland talks about his latest film #UNFIT: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF DONALD TRUMP. The film features a group of mental health professionals who have studied Trump's behavior over the last several years and present a compelling case that Donald Trump is a malignant narcissist and unfit to be President of the United States of America. Listen to the interview streaming on Spotify.
Brandon Christensen talks about his latest film, Z, which follows a family who finds themselves terrorized by their eight-year-old son's imaginary friend. During the interview, he recalls watching the mini-series It, where a clown terrorizes young children. That Stephen King classic haunted him for years and the memory inspired the story of Z. Christensen refers to Z as a "spiritual successor" to his first film Still/Born, a supernatural story where a woman gives birth to twins, but only one of them is alive. Both films look at the drama and complexities of mother/parent trama. Critics have compared Z to The Babadook. "It's a fair comparison," he tells me, "The Babadock uses depression as a metaphor for telling a story about a kid and a mom." Beautifully shot in Canada and featuring an outstanding cast, Z will be streaming on www.shudder.com and available on VOD, Digital HD, DVD, and Blu-ray September 1, 2020. Be sure to lock the doors, look [...]
Chris Foggin talks about making the heartwarming film FISHERMAN'S FRIENDS. Based on a true story, the film follows a group of singing fishermen who get discovered by a music producer who takes the fishermen from a small Cornish village to international fame. Chris Foggin grew up in Durham, a small town in the North-East of England. He had always wanted to be a filmmaker but it seemed like "pipedream." He didn't have industry connections or family who worked in the business. It seemed unattainable. So he put the dream on hold and got a job working in a sandwich shop. It turns out that the owner of the sandwich shop knew someone who worked at a major television station. They got him a job. He worked hard, made connections, and gained a lot of experience which lead him to make the short films FRIEND REQUEST PENDING starring Judi Dench and THAT NIGHT starring James Corden. His first feature film, KIDS IN LOVE hit [...]
Scott Wilson’s career as an actor spanned over fifty years. If it were not for a medical condition, the world might never have known some of the most unforgettable characters in movies and television. Scott Wilson was playing basketball for Southern Tech when he came down with Hepatitis. His doctor told him that he couldn’t play basketball anymore, so he quit school and hitchhiked to Los Angeles. He recalled getting drunk and going to an acting class. That didn’t sit well with the teacher, who told him, “I don’t know what your problem is, don’t come back to my class drunk.” Wilson came back the next week, apologized, and the teacher gave him a monologue. He worked on it, and the following week, he performed for the class. On stage, Wilson felt as if he were in a bubble, and could do no wrong. The experience set him on a journey to learn how to access those feelings and skills [...]
Adrienne Vanderocker, a multi-talented singer/songwriter and performance artist, talks about her indie music project— VANDEROCKER, an eclectic blend of devotional music, roadhouse blues, trip-hop, avant-garde, and indie-pop. In a candid interview, Adrienne Vanderocker reveals how, as an invisible child, she felt she didn’t have “permission to speak.” It wasn’t until she left home and started to be in the world by herself and express her creative voice that her life opened up. Her growth as an artist and a person came through introspection and hard work. Through the writings of Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes and the mentorship of Ram Dass, she found clarity and inner peace, the importance of being in the moment. On stage and in performance, she realized that she didn’t have to be perfect. She could leave those limiting beliefs behind and step into that powerful wonder woman waiting for expression. Listen to the interview streaming on Spotify.
Tony Dean Smith came Center Stage to talk about his first feature film, the science-fiction thriller, VOLITION. It all began while he was in film school. He had developed a story about a scientist experimenting with a drug that would allow him to see 50 seconds into the future. Written as a short film, but it never got made. He wasn’t satisfied, so he put the project on hold. As the years past, he kept coming back to that original story, re-working and re-writing the screenplay, but he couldn’t find the missing piece of the puzzle. He was stuck, trapped in a prison of fear. Would he ever finish the film? He thought about where he was and where he wanted to be. At that moment, everything became crystal clear, and he realized that the one thing missing to complete the film was within him all along. Listen to Tony Dean Smith as he talks about making his award-winning film [...]
Tom Shepard talks about his latest documentary UNSETTLED: Seeking Refuge in America. The film looks at the plight of LGBTQ refugees and asylum-seekers who are forced to flee their homeland because of violence and persecution, often at the hands of homophobic family members. Tom Shepard: In 2014, I started researching this film, and at that time, in the US, LGBTQ civil rights were accelerating quite quickly, and marriage equality was sort of steamrolled to the supreme court would become the law of the land. I was doing some refugee volunteer work at Jewish Family and Community Services, and they had just gotten a grant under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to resettle queer refugees. I think it was one of the first in the country to do that. And I just thought, wow, this a ripe moment because state-sponsored homophobia and persecution of queer people in many other parts of the world seem to have gone up. It almost felt kind [...]
Bruce McDonald is one of Canada's most original filmmakers. His latest movie features a narcissist, a hitman, a vampire, and Chet Baker. Sound Bizarre? Well, get ready to enter the world of Dreamland. Mark Gordon: how would you best describe Dreamland? Bruce McDonald: well, you know, it’s a strange one. I would sometimes describe it as a euro trash jazz western. Or it’s kind of a midnight movie. That’s sort of the vibe of it. Mark Gordon: are you a big fan of Chet Baker? Bruce McDonald: I like the mythology and the broken down romance of Chet Baker. I’m probably more of the Miles Davis fan in terms of the trumpet men. Chet is a strange and spooky cat. Mark Gordon: I saw the movie Let’s Get Lost, and I loved Chet Baker, so I went out and bought a bunch of his records. Bruce McDonald: I was turned on years later through a short film about Chet Baker called The Deaths of Chet Baker. It was made [...]
By now, you have probably binge-watched all the good films on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and you think there's nothing left on TV. Well, I've got great news for you, Dance Camera West presents the 2020 Virtual Film Festival, streaming until June 1, on OVID.TV It's a festival of short dance films from all over the world. We are going to talk about one of the films from the creative team of Matilda Sakamoto, and Derrick Belcham called If I Sound Happy, That's Your Mistake. Matilda and Derrick both lived in New York City and knew each other's work, but they had never worked together. One night, Derrick was at the Ace Hotel and saw Matilda performing the staged version of If I Sound Happy, That's Your Mistake. He loved the piece and approached her about making it into a short film. Derrick Belcham: I loved it. She was incredible. They cycled it twice, so I saw Matilda do it two times, and [...]
Several years ago, I met Tim DeRoche when he published The Ballad of Huck & Miguel. This time around, we met via Skype to discuss his new book, A Fine Line: How Most American Kids Are Kept Out of the Best Public Schools, which sheds light on the inequality in America’s public school system. Mark Gordon: How would you best describe this book? Tim DeRoche: This book is about the laws and the policies that assign kids to public schools based on their residential address. It’s something that most people just accept as a given. It’s been a part of the American fabric for so long, we just take it as a given, and my book is about the problems that it causes. It’s a social justice angle in the sense that many middle-class and lower-income folks are excluded from the best public schools in a given city or a given district. But there are all sorts of distortions that those policies [...]
Our Mothers (Nuestras Madres), the award-winning first feature film by César Díaz, follows Ernesto, a young anthropologist who works for the Forensic Foundation. His job is to identify the remains of those buried in unmarked graves, killed during the Guatemala genocide. While Ernesto works diligently to identify the missing, he searches for clues to the whereabouts of his father, who disappeared during the war. Mark Gordon: Congratulations on winning the Caméra d’Or at the 2019 Cannes film festival. César Díaz: It was amazing, completely unexpected because there were so many good movies in the same category. I was really surprised. Mark Gordon: How would you best describe the film? César Díaz: I would say a fiction film inspired by my personal journey. Ernesto is very close to me, a young Guatemalan looking for his father, missing during the war. But somehow, I want to have the same strength and the same force [as] the women in the village. But for me, [...]
Working Man, a new film by Robert Jury, follows a factory closure in a small rust-belt town in the midwest and one man’s attempt to find meaning in his life after he loses a job. When I first got asked to cover the film, I wondered if it would hit too close to home. The world I once knew had entered the uncertain reality of Covid19. All across America, businesses shut down. 30 million people out of work with no idea when things would go back to normal. Breadlines foreshadowed the collapse of American prosperity harkening back to the days of the Great Depression. As I watched the film, I realized that even in darkness, there can be light. The central character rallies the community in an effort to save the factory and in doing so, he finds a sense of purpose. In making the film, Robert Jury drew upon his experience growing up in a small factory town in the midwest and recent [...]
Jim Akin talks about making the film The Ocean of Helena Lee, a semi-autobiographical account of a difficult period in his childhood. Center Stage · Jim Akin "The Ocean of Helena Lee" Akin tells his story through Helena Lee, a thoughtful and reflective 12-year old who tries to come to terms with her home life and bohemian surf-rat father. As a child, Akin learned to be self-reliant. Don't depend on anyone; you will only set yourself for disappointment. "I don't look for anyone to help," he says, It's just not productive." He took that perspective into his role as a filmmaker and did everything himself, from shooting the film to the final edit. I was a "one-man band," he tells me.
Edwin Wendler talks about writing music for the horror films Unnatural, I Spit on Your Grave 3, and Tales of Halloween. Center Stage · Edwin Wendler "Unnatural" Edwin Wendler began his musical career in the Vienna Boys' Choir. With the Choir, he toured the world, singing in hundreds of concerts and operas. Years later, he earned certificates in film scoring and screenwriting from UCLA extension and was accepted into the prestigious ASCAP Film Scoring Workshop. Edwin Wendler’s feature film credits as a composer include The Interior (2007), Christmas With A Capital C (2010), Escape (2012), Tales Of Halloween (2015), and Unnatural (2015). His score for the documentary The Right To Love: An American Family (2013) was nominated for a GoldSpirit Award in 2014. In 2010, Mr. Wendler won a "Best Score" award at the Los Angeles International Film Festival, for his epic score, Azureus Rising (CG short). Edwin Wendler composed additional music for the box office hit, Non-Stop (Universal/StudioCanal, 2014), [...]
Halina Dyrschka talks about making the documentary Beyond The Visible:Hilma af Klint. Mark Gordon · Halina Dyrschka "Beyond The Visible" Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber is proud to present the US virtual theatrical release of BEYOND THE VISIBLE - Hilma af Klint, a documentary film directed by Halina Dyrschka. The film will be available starting on April 17 by virtual theatrical engagement via Kino Marquee in association with BAM in New York and Laemmle Monica Film Center in LA. Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) was an abstract artist before the term existed - a visionary trailblazing figure who, inspired by spiritualism, modern science, and the riches of the natural world around her created a series of huge, colorful, sensual works without precedent in painting. Hilma af Klint's first abstract painting is dated 1906, four years before that of Wassily Kandinsky. Why was she ignored? Director Halina Dryschka's dazzling, course-correcting documentary describes not only the life and craft [...]
Center Stage with Mark Gordon is a talk show that looks at film and the people who make it happen in front of the camera as well as behind the scenes, the award-winning actors, writers, producers, and directors.