ON HER SHOULDERS (Alexandria Bombach, 2018)
260 West 23rd St. between Seventh & Eighth Aves.
Saturday, November 10, 10:00 am
Sunday, November 11, 9:55 pm
Festival runs November 8-15
See. This. Documentary. Now! Alexandria Bombach’s On Her Shoulders is an extraordinary film about an extraordinary human being. In August 2014, the Yazidis of Northern Iraq were attacked by ISIS, who raped and killed thousands of Yazidis in what amounted to a genocide, turning countless women into sex slaves. Twenty-one-year-old Nadia Murad survived and later escaped the horror and has been on a mission ever since, traveling around the world to share her story in order to save and protect this ethno-religious minority, who have been scattered throughout refugee camps. “What must be done so a woman will not be a victim of war?” she demands. For a year, Bombach followed Nadia and Murad Ismael, executive director of Yazda, a global organization dedicated to supporting the Yazidis and other vulnerable groups, as Nadia met with media and politicians while hoping to be able to address the UN General Assembly. They go to Canada, Germany, Greece, and America, occasionally joined by human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, Yazda deputy executive director Ahmed Khudida Burjus, and former International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, as she makes her case to anyone who will listen.
Nadia is not a born activist; she has taken up the cause because she can’t see any other option. In the process, however, she has become a remarkable speaker and a reluctant hero to her people, but it takes a toll on her. As she tells her story, she must relive over and over again the atrocities she personally experienced and meet with men, women, and children who are suffering terribly and often break down into tears upon just being in her presence. “As a girl, I wish I didn’t have to tell the people this happened to me. I mean, I wish it hadn’t happened to me so I wouldn’t have to talk about it,” she explains. “I wish people knew me as an excellent seamstress, as an excellent athlete, as an excellent makeup artist, as an excellent farmer. I didn’t want people to know me as a victim of ISIS terrorism.”
Bombach, who directed, edited, and photographed the film — using a small, handheld Canon EOS 5D Mark III to be as unobtrusive as possible — treats Nadia with a deep respect and sensitivity, being very careful not to exploit her even further, nor does she put her on a pedestal. She focuses her camera on Nadia’s striking face and her expressive eyes, which are filled with a mix of horror and hope, tired beyond their years. Throughout the film, Bombach (Frame by Frame, Common Ground) includes clips of an interview she conducted with Nadia near the end of their time together. Nadia’s long black hair and black top nearly fade into the black background, her face and neckline prominent as she speaks openly and honestly about her mission. Nadia barely ever allows herself to smile, refusing to feel joy when there is still so much work to be done; she will not stop until there is justice and accountability for what is happening to the Yazidis. It’s heartbreaking when she says, “I can’t bear to live this kind of life.” In a rare moment out of the public spotlight, she is in a kitchen cooking, and it is absolutely delightful, a much-needed break from the intense pressure that hovers over her. On Her Shoulders is a deeply affecting, heart-wrenching film that will leave you emotionally exhausted but also energized to take action. “I want women and girls to see themselves as something special,” Nadia — who was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize — says, refusing to acknowledge that she herself is special indeed. Winner of numerous festival awards, On Her Shoulders, which recently completed a theatrical run at Village East, is screening November 10 and 11 at DOC NYC, with Bombach participating in Q&As after the shows.
THE BIG SICK (Michael Showalter, 2017)
Pier 63 Lawn, Hudson River Park
Cross at West 22nd or 24th St.
Wednesday, July 18, 8:30
Series runs through August 15
Michael Showalter’s surprise summer hit, The Big Sick, is a heart-wrenchingly bittersweet romantic comedy loosely based on the real life of Pakistani American actor and comic Kumail Nanjiani. It would do a disservice to call the film, which was produced by Judd Apatow and Barry Mendel, a mere romcom, as it is so much more, taking on religion, assimilation, responsibility, culture, and personal identity with intelligence and wit. Kumail plays an Uber driver and stand-up comedian gigging at a Chicago club with fellow comics CJ (Bo Burnham), Mary (Aidy Bryant), and his doofy roommate, Chris (Kurt Braunohler). Kumail spends a lot of time at his parents’ suburban home, the heart of his family, where his mother, Sharmeen (Zenobia Shroff) and father, Azmat (Anupam Kher), continually invite single young Pakistani women to “drop by” to meet him, determined to arrange a proper marriage for their son. However, Kumail has started sort-of seeing a blond American woman, Emily Gardner (Zoe Kazan), after she playfully heckles him at a gig. As their relationship gets more serious, Kumail still hasn’t told his parents or his brother, Naveed (Adeel Akhtar), jeopardizing their future, but when Emily is struck by a sudden illness, Kumail reevaluates who he is and what he desires out of life. Emily’s illness also forces him to get to know her parents, Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano), who at first want nothing to do with him.
Written by Nanjiani (The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, Silicon Valley) and freelance journalist and author Emily V. Gordon (SuperYou: Release Your Inner Superhero, The Carmichael Show) — the original screenplay garnered an Oscar nomination — The Big Sick is as gripping as it is funny. The characters are well defined, and the plot is filled with both delightful and shocking twists and turns that will have you on the edge of your seat, tears at the ready, particularly if you don’t know what ultimately happened to Kumail and Emily in actuality. Nanjiani is adorably understated playing a version of himself, while Emmy nominee Kazan (Ruby Sparks, Olive Kitteridge) is charming and quirky as Emily; the two have an instant chemistry that makes the stop-and-go beginning of their relationship thoroughly involving. Emmy winner Romano (Everybody Loves Raymond, Men of a Certain Age) and Oscar and Emmy winner Hunter (The Piano, Saving Grace) are terrific as Emily’s parents, who have some issues of their own to resolve aside from Kumail and Emily. (As a side note, the scene where Beth gets into a fight with a heckler was inspired by a real incident in which Hunter heckled a tennis player at the US Open.) Bryant (Saturday Night Live, Danger & Eggs) and musician and stand-up comic Burnham provide solid, um, comic relief, while Shroff and Kher excel as Kumail’s parents, who insist that Kumail follow tradition, regardless of what he wants for himself. One of the best films of the year, The Big Sick is screening July 18 in Hudson River Park’s annual free series “Hudson River Flicks: Big Hit Wednesdays,” which consists of popular 2017 films; it continues through August 22 with such other hits as Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Wonder Woman, Lady Bird, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Park Ave. & 72nd St. to Foley Square
Saturday, August 12 & 19, free, 7:00 am – 1:00 pm
Now in its eighth year, Summer Streets will continue for the next two Saturday mornings, as Park Ave. will be closed to vehicular traffic from 72nd St. to Foley Square and the Brooklyn Bridge from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm, encouraging people to walk, run, jog, blade, skate, slide, and bike down the famous thoroughfare, getting exercise and enjoying the great outdoors without car exhaust, speeding taxis, and slow-moving buses. There are five rest stops along the route (Uptown at 52nd St., Midtown at 25th, Astor Pl. at Lafayette St., SoHo at Spring & Lafayette, and Foley Square at Duane & Centre), where people can relax and enjoy food and drink, live performances, fitness classes, site-specific art installations, dog walks, bicycle workshops, and other activities, all of which are free. Below are some of the highlights.
Foley Square Rest Stop
Beachside Slide (advance preregistration required), Adaptive Obstacle Challenge, MSG/New York Knicks and New York Liberty brand ambassadors, DOT Hand-Cycle Demonstration, Elisa Monte Dance (interactive Boomerang on August 12 and Lost Art on August 19), historical reenactors Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin Franklin, bike rentals and valets
SoHo Rest Stop
Fitness classes, 5K Walk Concert, Honest Tea Activation, Clif Kids Bike Park, interactive “Pulsus” sculpture by Allen Sayegh
Astor Place Rest Stop
Citi Mobile Everest 360, Mini Golf NYC, Food Sessions by Daily tous les jours and Nico Fonseca with guest chef John Mooney (advance registration required), Paws and Play Dog Park and workshops, NYC Water On the Go, “Smellmapping Astor Place” by Kate McLean (RSVP for “Smellwalk” with Miriam Songster here), Village Alliance: “Creativity Cubed: Faces, Places and Traces” (August 12 only)
Midtown Rest Stop
Health and Fitness Zone (with yoga, dance, meditation, more), New York Road Runners, NYC Parks Mobile Fitness Unit, Learn to Ride Classes for Kids and Adults by Bike New York, Recycle-a-Bicycle Workshop, Taste of Summer Sampling Zone, Taste of Summer Performance Stage with cooking demos and live music, interactive “Smell Synth” exhibit with Museum of Food and Drink, NYCDOT Mobility Management Program
Uptown Rest Stop
Adventure Zone (with the Appalachian Mountain Club, Discover Outdoors Foundation, East Coast Greenway Alliance, and Surfrider Foundation), Adaptive Obstacle Course + Bouldering Wall, I Love NY mobile visitors center, Zipline, Loudest Yeller Historical Bicycle Tour, Environmental Zone (with NYBG, Design Trust for Urban Space, Talk Trash City, more), Urban Agriculture Workshops with Parkways, City of New York programming (with DOT/DDC Green Infrastructure, DOT Energy Management, NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, more), DOT Arts & Culture Hub (with Noguchi Museum, Museum of the City of New York, National Museum of the American Indian, El Museo del Barrio, CultureNow, more)
JIMMY P.: PSYCHOTHERAPY OF A PLAINS INDIAN (Arnaud Desplechin, 2013)
Film Society of Lincoln Center
Francesca Beale Theater, Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center
144 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Sunday, March 13, 7:30, and Wednesday, March 16, 4:00
Series runs March 11-17
Based on a true story documented in Georges Devereux’s 1951 book, Reality and Dream: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian, which features an introduction by Margaret Mead, Palme d’Or nominee Jimmy P. details the fascinating relationship between French-Hungarian ethnologist, anthropologist, and psychoanalyst Devereux (Mathieu Amalric) and Native American Blackfoot James Picard (Benicio del Toro). A WWII veteran living in Montana in 1948, Picard is taken to Topeka Winter Hospital after suffering from debilitating headaches and temporary blindness. When doctors Menninger (Larry Pine), Holt (Joseph Cross), Braatoy (Ricky Wayne), and Jokl (Elya Baskin) can’t find anything physically wrong with Picard — and wonder whether their unfamiliarity with Indians is limiting their understanding of his problems — Menninger calls in his colleague Devereux, a Freudian who is having difficulty getting a full-time position because of some of the unusual methods he employs. An excited Devereux immerses himself in Picard’s case, getting the direct, not-very-talkative Blackfoot to soon start opening up about his personal life, share his dreams, and discuss his military experiences. While the other doctors disagree with one another on what Devereux is doing, he and Jimmy develop a unique friendship, two very different men trying to find their place in life. Director Arnaud Desplechin wrote the screenplay (with Julie Peyr and Kent Jones) specifically for Amalric and del Toro, and it’s a terrific pairing, the former, who has previously starred in Desplechin’s A Christmas Tale, My Sex Life . . . or How I Got Into an Argument, and Kings and Queen, playing Devereux with a childlike, wide-eyed wonder, the latter portraying Jimmy with dark, brooding, penetrating eyes while also exuding an inner peace and poetry. The film slows down and gets off track when it strays from its main storyline, particularly when Devereux is visited by his married girlfriend, Madeleine (Gina McKee), and the reenacted dream sequences and past memories are hit or miss, some boasting a surreal beauty, others unnecessarily confusing, but when Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and del Toro (Traffic) are on-screen together, Jimmy P. is mesmerizing. Jimmy P.: Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian is screening March 13 & 16 in the Film Society of Lincoln Center series “Golden Days: The Films of Arnaud Desplechin,” a weeklong retrospective celebrating the March 18 release of Desplechin’s latest film, My Golden Days. Running March 11-17, the festival features such other films as The Sentinel, La vie des morts (which Desplechin will introduce on March 15), Kings and Queen (which will be followed by a Q&A with the director on March 17), and My Golden Days (with Desplechin on hand for Q&As after screenings on March 15 & 18).
I SELL THE DEAD (Glenn McQuaid, 2009)
323 Sixth Ave. at Third St.
Friday, November 6, and Saturday, November 7
Series continues through November 14
Glenn McQuaid’s I Sell the Dead is an old-fashioned fun horror movie, paying homage to the Hammer films of yore. After his grave-robbing partner, Willie Grimes (Larry Fessenden), is guillotined, Arthur Blake (Dominic Monaghan) awaits his turn. With five hours to go before his execution, Blake is visited by Father Francis Duffy (Ron Perlman), who wants to know all the details of Grimes and Blake’s business, especially as it relates to harvesting the undead. So with a bottle of whiskey by his side, Blake recounts the pair’s eerie adventures through foggy eighteenth-century England and their battles with the House of Murphy, a rival outfit that also gathers corpses for a living. Writer-director-editor McQuaid imbues the film with a graphic-novel feel, with many scenes ending in colorful freeze-frame panels; although I Sell the Dead is an original story (based on his own short), the director did adapt the script into a comic book before shooting in order to capture the mood and visual style he was after. And cinematographer Rick Lopez, production designer David Bell, and art director Beck Underwood nail that atmosphere, along with Jeff Grace’s ambitious score. The cast also includes Phantasm Tall Man Angus Scrimm as a creepy violin-playing doctor in desperate need of body parts, Brenda Cooney as Blake’s boisterous girlfriend, and Joel Garland as a burly tavern owner after his own piece of the action. The film was shot in Staten Island, Long Island, and Manhattan; if the Fortune of War bar looks familiar, that’s because it’s actually the Scratcher in the East Village. I Sell the Dead is screening November 6 & 7 as part of the IFC Center series “Glass Eye Pix: 30th Anniversary Tribute,” a loving look at the indie company headed by Fessenden, the director of such cult favorites as Habit and Wendigo. The festival concludes November 13 & 14 with Jim Mickle’s Stake Land.
The twenty-fifth annual Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest will take place on August 15, as amateur and semiprofessional individuals and groups will create masterpieces in the Brooklyn sand, many with a nautical theme. It’s a blast watching the constructions rise from nothing into some extremely elaborate works of temporary art. Last year’s winners included Abraham Cruz’s Lady Liberty, Team Frank Russo’s Castle to the Sky, Gelina & the Sanchez Family’s Primordial Lizard, Bradley Pion’s Giant Turtle, and Gilbert Ortega’s Freedom Tower. The event, which features cash prizes, is hosted by Astella Development Corporation and Brooklyn Community Services, with donations and sponsorship helping those still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. While visiting Coney Island on August 15, you should also check out the Coney Island Museum, the Circus Sideshow, the Coney Island Film Society screening of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, the Burlesque at the Beach presentation “Kerryn and Kitten’s Night at the Beach,” and the Scan-a-Rama 3D Portrait Studio Scan-a-Thon, in addition to riding the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel.