Bob Sharka programs the Friends Of Film Award-Season Series
Drop him a note if you'd like to attend or screen your film
Friends Of Film welcomes award winning filmmaker Michael Stevens for a one-screening-only of
HERBLOCK: The Black and The White
Sunday, October 20th, 2014
Santa Monica 4-Plex
1332 2nd Street
Santa Monica, CA
Saturday, November 2, 2013
WE CAME HOME
Santa Monica, CA
Directed by Ariana Delawari - in attendance with production team, too!
Afghan-American musician Ariana Delawari shares the unique personal story of how she re-connected with her homeland in this thought provoking documentary. Born and raised in Los Angeles to a loving family that had never forgotten its Afghan roots, Ariana's life is turned upside down after 9/11. When her parents move back to Kabul to help with reconstruction, Delawari spends a decade documenting their transition and her own awakening, through music, to her Afghan heritage.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Germany's Official Oscar® Submission
Santa Monica, CA
Directed by George Maas
A former East German spy in Norway has built a family life around a fake identity. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, her happy existence is threatened in this gripping story of trauma, intrigue, and espionage.
It's Europe in 1990. The Berlin Wall has just crumbled. Katrine is a Norwegian "war child," raised in East Germany, who has been living in Norway for the past 20 years. She enjoys a happy life with her mother, her husband, daughter, and granddaughter. When a lawyer asks Katrine and her mother to testify in a trial against the Norwegian state on behalf of the war children, she resists. Gradually, a web of concealment and secrets is revealed, including truths that shake the family to its core. This tense drama addresses an important but taboo topic in Norwegian history: the way Norwegian women who had relationships with German occupation soldiers were treated by their country after World War II, and what happened to them under the Stasi regime in the former East Germany. The film features a rare performance by the legendary Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann.
"More twists and turns than a Wetzel's Pretzel," - Bob Sharka, Friends Of Film
LATVIA's Oscar Submission
MOTHER, I LOVE YOU
Monday, November 18th
9200 Sunset Boulevard
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Belgium's Official Oscar® Submission
THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN
Santa Monica, CA
Directed by Felix van Groeningen - in attendance, schedule permitting
Didier and Elise’s relationship is stormy and passionate; it’s love at first sight. Didier plays the banjo in a bluegrass band, lives in a caravan in the Belgian countryside and idolises America as the ‘land of the free’. Elise owns her own tattoo parlour. Her body is plastered with images – little mementos of past lovers whose names have been carefully covered up by new tattoos. Before long their two lives are closely intertwined. Elise sings in Didier’s band and they soon have a daughter together, little Maybelle, with whom they move into a lovingly if unconventionally restored country house. This film accompanies Elise and Didier on their rollercoaster ride through life; through days filled with their love of music and their mutual passion.
Based on the stage play by Johan Heldenbergh and Mieke Dobbels, director Felix van Groeningen portrays various episodes in Elise and Didier’s story. The film’s barn-stomping blue grass concert footage and enthralling love story are delightfully reminiscent of the grand old days of American country music.
"One of the best films of the year, not just in the foreign category, but all around...a sure-fire masterpiece of originality." - Bob Sharka, Friends Of Film
Sunday, December 1, 2013
I AM YOURS
Norway's Official Oscar® Submission
Santa Monica, CA
Directed by Iram Haq
A twentysomething single mother in Norway’s expatriate Pakistani community struggles with her dysfunctional relationship with her perpetually disapproving mother, in this startlingly assured feature debut by Norwegian actor, singer and filmmaker Iram Haq.
Twentysomething single mother Mina (Amrita Acharia) is seriously at a loose end. She wants to be an actress but blows every audition. She seems uninterested in, and incapable of pursuing, any other career. And she's in a casual relationship with an already-attached and painfully self-absorbed man. A chance meeting with a Swedish filmmaker (Ola Rapace) opens up new possibilities, but looming over everything is the one constant in Mina's life: her mother's disapproval — a disapproval so deep and so gargantuan it's brought about Mina's relentlessly self-destructive behaviour, which has apparently made her entire family outcasts in Norway's expatriate Pakistani community.
A startling and sure-footed feature debut from Norwegian actor, filmmaker and singer Iram Haq, I Am Yours builds on the work of directors such as Sweden's Josef Fares (Jalla! Jalla!), one of the first filmmakers to deal with the experience of Middle Eastern and South Asian immigrants to the Nordic region. But Haq's film is distinct in the ways it presents the phenomenon through the prism of a mother-daughter relationship, which it deals with in a decidedly courageous, mature way.Haq unflinchingly catalogues Mina's faults. She's a terrible mother, easily convinced to leave her child alone in order to appease a needy lover. Yet, for all that, we sympathize with her, most notably in scenes with her mother, Samina (Rabia Noreen). Acharia is alternately forlorn and infuriating as the confused Mina. Noreen, though her character is monstrous at times, also elicits sympathy as a sad old woman who can't relate to her daughter.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
The Netherlands' Official Oscar® Submission
Santa Monica, CA
Directed by Alex van Warmerdam
Borgman is rousted from his underground dwelling by an angry group of men pursuing him. He escapes to find himself outside a modern country house and decides to beg a family for assistance. The overly aggressive response he receives sets off a chain of surprising events. After this unsettling and unexpected introduction, we follow our titular antihero as he slowly inserts himself into the lives of the suspicious yet unprepared family in their beautiful, rural home. As a dark presence in the house, Borgman exerts an unusual influence over the family. Isolated from the outside world, the manipulation begins as Borgman slowly reveals otherworldly motivations. Reminiscent of DOGTOOTH and FUNNY GAMES, BORGMAN is one of the strangest and boldest cinematic visions of the year.
Tuesday, December 10th
another special screening
Dick Clark Screening Room
Columbia's Oscar® Submission
LA PLAYA DC
Sunday, December 15, 2013
South Korea's Official Oscar® Submission
Santa Monica, CA
An appeal for societal and personal reform, this intimate crime drama peers into the consequences of cyclical, intergenerational abandonment as experienced by a troubled 16 year old boy named Jang. After falling in with the wrong crowd and committing larceny, Ji ends up in juvenile detention, where he reunites with his destitute mother who gave birth to him as a teenager and left him when he was only three years old. Against the backdrop of Seoul’s affluent metropolis, Ji’s story is as much about social problems as it is about a young outsider’s challenge to rise above his circumstances. Employing natural lighting techniques and the handheld camera, Kang both tenderly humanizes his protagonist’s lamentable journey and breathes life into a subject worthy of the world’s attention.
G-DOG is what the homies call the priest.
This is the story of a remarkable odd couple. There's Father Greg Boyle, a white Jesuit priest who's spent some 25 years in the toughest part of East LA, and then there's the tough, street-smart, and amazingly sweet young people – all former gang members – whom G-Dog loves and helps, and who love him in turn. For Father Greg's remedy for what he calls "a global sense of failure" for kids at-risk is radical and simple: boundless, restorative love. His unstoppable compassion has turned around the lives of thousands of Latino, Asian and African American gang members.
G-Dog works by a powerful idea: "Nothing Stops a Bullet like a Job." Over the years his Homeboy Industries in LA has become an international model for rebuilding and redirecting the lives of gang members. Kids come in off the street, rival gang members - 12,000 a year - looking for a way out of gang life. Homeboy, located in a gang-neutral area of downtown LA on the edge of Chinatown, takes them in, providing free job training, tattoo removal, counseling, yoga, fatherhood- and substance abuse classes. If they stick with it, the kids get jobs baking, cooking, serving, printing t-shirts and cleaning in the Homeboy businesses – a café, retail store, catering service, a silk screen shop – to learn the soft and hard skills to move on.
In 18 months the homies are ready to go into the world to make a positive difference. For Homeboy has an astonishing success rate – 70% turn their back on gang life, compared to a recidivism rate of 70% of other such programs. Homeboy is the one place in the 'hood that turns lives around: swapping violence for community and building for the first time a sense of the future. We see it happen in G-DOG.
"Jobs not jail"
The film is often hilarious and astonishing but it is not just a poem of sweetness and light. G-DOG chronicles a tough year in the life of Homeboy Industries. 2010 is a year of tumult, change, and pain. In today's straitened financial times, Homeboy faces a bruising battle with the bottom line: one day, as we watch, the fan is hit, and Father Greg has to shut down parts of Homeboy. It's a crushing blow, and it gets worse. East LA is always East LA; death is still out there, and sure enough it comes home to roost. Two people we've seen early in the movie are dead by the time the credits roll. The question is, Will the homies and Homeboy itself survive?
"Homeboy is a therapeutic community – a place of hope and kinship."
Greg Boyle began with the classically humble ambition of devoting his life to the poor. Instead he became a cultural icon -- America's leading gang expert, author of a whopping bestseller, "Tattoos on the Heart," celebrated guest on Dr. Phil and Tavis Smiley.
In 1986 Father G was assigned to the poorest parish in East L.A.'s Boyle Heights. The naïve young priest walked into the middle of a war zone, the gang capital of the country. Gang violence rocked the city in the 90s, dubbed the "Decade of Death," and Father G was astonished to find teenagers planning their funerals and not their future.
"I came from a middle-class Irish-American family," recalls Greg Boyle. "As a kid, I wouldn't have known what a gang member looked like if one hit me upside the head. I couldn't have joined a gang if I'd wanted to. I wouldn't have been able to find a gang if you'd sent me on a scavenger hunt."
But what Father G lacked in experience with gangs, he made up for it in resourcefulness - he quickly partnered with the Latino and black mothers in the rough housing projects and out of the ashes of destruction rose a phoenix of hope – Jobs For The Future - a program that provided job training and jobs, alternative schools, social programs.
As he was launching Homeboy during the worst violence, Father G said, "If we don't address where all this comes from – dysfunctional families, grinding poverty and joblessness – this stuff is going to repeat itself"
Says L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, "You cannot arrest yourself out of a gang problem. You cannot put enough people in jail or prison to solve this problem."
In an era that emphasizes being 'smart on crime,' citizens and civic leaders around the country have come to better understand the complexity of gang life. Father G's years of working in the margins have helped put a human face on gang members and the pull of gang life.
RSVP to Bob@FriendsOfFilm.com