“Star Wars” Dialogue: II. Avant-Garde vs. Classical

Star Wars Dialogue is a 5-part dialog between Mike Thorn, Isiah Medina, Chelsea Phillips-Carr, Isaac Goes, and Neil Bahadur about George Lucas’s first six films in the Star Wars franchise.
MIKE THORN: Of particular interest in the Star Wars franchise is the relationship between Lucas’s avant-garde roots, and the way his experimental tendencies work with (and/or against) classicism. Do any of you think these films should be read more intently in terms of either one formal category or another (classical or avant-garde)? That is, do you think they’re “more” avant-garde than classical, or vice versa? Would your answer differ from film to film?
ISIAH MEDINA: Continuing the theme of revision, what is avant-garde can be revised as well, but I don’t think there is value in calling Star Wars avant-garde other than a provocation. It’s classical through and through.  In terms of artistic movements within moviemaking, I do think there needs to be other forms of relating what is avant-garde outside of decisions of film programming, as the same films included in one program can often been seen as classical in another context. A self-determination in regards to what is avant-garde within artistic creation also entails the ability for filmmakers to be critical and not rely on those outside to do that labour. Jean-Marie Straub may say that Stagecoach (1939) is the most experimental film of all time, but what is crucial is that the very division between classical and avant-garde is decided within artistic practice and not outside—the effects of such a decision are internal to how the artist re-thinks what comes before.
The true ‘avant-garde’ move by Lucas is his proposed museum of narrative art: to create a museum to say narrative art is over. It will relegate narrative art to the past, to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. It’s avant-garde when he talks about wanting to make non-narrative montage work and carry on where the Soviets have left off and show it only to other filmmakers. Which is to say, he wants to experiment and subtract both the audience and the critics from the discussion. He made a popular film that shows the downfall of democracy as a children’s movie, so perhaps what is avant-garde is inventing a post-democratic form of art distribution and creation.
Since Plato we’ve known there are two ways of knowing, one of cognition, and one of narrative. I am moved that Lucas’s narrative work is absorbed in the religions of the world, in family, in toy models of democracy’s inevitable turn to tyranny. But as Ray Brassier notes, curved space-time, the periodic table, and natural selection are not comprehensible in narrative terms. Maybe non-narrative montage work can comprehend types of patterns in nature which are responsible for patterns in thinking and moviemaking can provide us with a new manifest image of the world. There are resources in the rigorous patterns of colour-coding, composition, et cetera throughout the series as a whole that can inspire future filmmakers wanting to leave mythology behind, or find a new model with neither father nor vote nor ancient religion. Let’s call picture-making of that type classical, but by enforced recollection it assists in a turn towards a future that may be cognitively avant-garde.
Straub relates a story where Godard said, “technical innovations go hand in hand with such an artistic regression that they no longer have any importance,” but I think instead we should stratify our categories and clearly see the different types of mixtures that can come about. To jump ahead a little, the split between avant-garde and classical should be placed within the question of art and technology. Let’s say there can be art that is avant-garde or classical, and its uses of technology can avant-garde or classical and we can generate different types of movies through a distributive function. To be artistically and technically avant-garde is rare but all permutations play a part in a spiralling trajectory of what movies can be. Is the knight coming out of the stained glass in Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) or the morphing in Willow (1988) avant-garde technical moments in a classical story? Or when Kip Thorne provides theoretical equations for engineers at Double Negative to write the code for the CGI representation of gravitational lensing (which lead to insights published in a scientific paper) in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar (2014), I wondered what could be more avant-garde than cinema producing a new accurate representation of curved space-time? This again comes back to a Lucasian relation to the real as being one of toy models and I think the legacy of ILM will continually unsettle ‘classical’ relations between the classical and the avant-garde, institutionalization and independence, construction of new workflows and plastic experimentations, invention of forms and the very base those forms appear on.  
CHELSEA PHILLIPS-CARR: I agree with Isiah: I do not find the Star Wars films to be avant-garde. Though there are moments of experimentation or distanciation, they are over-all quite normative. I think that the use of certain formal tricks on occasion isn’t enough to render them “avant-garde,” really. But I am also in disagreement with the general trend of critics who call blockbuster films “avant-garde” or “experimental” (such as, recently, the newest Transformers, but even in the example that Isiah mentioned, of Straub and Stagecoach).
If we regard Star Wars as avant-garde because of Lucas’s roots, I would say it’s a simple association rather than evidence of style or mode. It possible for a director to encompass both classical and avant-garde in their oeuvre. Philippe Garrel’s first films are nothing like his latest ones, for instance, and it would be remiss to call Lover for a Day (2017) avant-garde in the same breath as The Inner Scar (1972)—just because a filmmaker has dabbled in both does not mean they are consistently both. Lucas engages so heavily with classicism in Star Wars, and I see little of tangible avant-garde within his films. But perhaps I am thinking more of consistent experimentation. In terms of doing something new and different, I’d say I find him to be over-valued, while the idea of doing anything new isn’t necessarily what I’d use as a criteria for avant-garde. Lucas’s engagement with classic style, historical reference, and pastiche to make a conventional film doesn’t feel avant-garde to me.
ISAAC GOES: Once again, these conflicting tendencies you point out, between the avant-garde and classicism, could also be said to be reflected in the films investigations of republicanism as an unwieldy binding together of contradictory impulses to form a somewhat unstable unity. Neil has pointed this out before, but the way in which Lucas uses CGI in the prequels in these sort of renaissance tableaux is very similar to the images produced by rear projection and a lot of other methods of rendering illusory spaces that made their first appearances in silent cinema and which still structure the way we go about thinking of special effects and illusion. So, on the one hand, Lucas is pushing the form forward, and making technological advances while doing so, but also doing so from a perspective that is in-line with the angle we have classically approached these issues of creating new worlds on-screen. I think this angle is something that is inherent to cinema, and the avant-garde insofar as it pertains to a particular art form needs to align to with a classical vantage point in order for it to advance the form it wants to push forward, otherwise what we see isn’t advancement, but the creation an entirely new form.  
NEIL BAHADUR: My answer would be that the films remain more or less the same form from A New Hope to Revenge of the Sith.  As Isiah said, putting an artist movement in a museum implies that that movement is over, so too we can really say at this point in history that narrative art is complete, and with the Star Wars prequels, Lucas finished it himself.  Yet innovation is not something normally associated with narrative art, and with the prequels Lucas created whole new worlds, something that had never been before achieved in any visual movement.  But while these techniques never rise to the, say, ‘avant-garde,’ nature of something like THX 1138 (1971), I agree with Issac that these technological advancements are necessary to the development of the form, and the one compromise Lucas made with his films was that he had to do it make them within a stunted artistic movement.  

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Review: Vertigo Remade: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson & Galen Johnson’s “The Green Fog”

There’s a new genre in town. The first example of it I can name is Bill Morrison’s Spark of Being (2010), which retells the story of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein using aged found footage. In this version, as Morrison puts it, the movie itself is the monster, assembled from pieces of the dead.
I may be missing earlier and later examples of this form, but so far as I know Guy Maddin and colleagues Evan and Galen Johnson are the first to respond to that celluloid gauntlet, with The Green Fog, a remake of Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) using footage culled from ninety-eight feature films and three TV series shot or set in the San Francisco area. I guess the movie is also in the genre of city symphonies, and has a nodding acquaintance with Thom Andersen’s pirate-video documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003).
The Madden/Johnsons have several advantages over Hitchcock: their film is only around half as long, has almost no dialogue, and doesn’t have to tell a coherent story: they simply assemble material which, sequence by sequence, reminds the viewer of equivalent scenes in the original. A rooftop chase is cobbled together from a half dozen of the endless elevated pursuits that climax noirs, TV movies and cheap thrillers of every stripe. Only one shot from Vertigo itself is used anywhere in the movie: the opening image (post-credits) of Jimmy Stewart’s hands grasping the top rung of a fire escape.
A score by Jacob Garchik and the Kronos Quartet recalls Bernard Herrmann’s original music, though not as much as it recalls his theme for Psycho (1960).
The movie was commissioned by the San Francisco International Film Festival to mark it’s 60th anniversary, and the filmmakers compiled it with no regard to copyright or fair use, simply taking what they wanted and distorting, accelerating, re-dubbing or manipulating it in any way they saw fit—meaning that the film may have a limited/nonexistent commercial future, but is totally uncompromised by budgetary limitations in terms of what material can be included.
So what’s it like? What it’s not like, you may not be surprised to learn, is Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Although it’s two-part structure does very closely mimic that critic’s darling, and it’s hard to imagine what the film would feel like if one didn’t know the original pretty well. Each sequence would have a kind of cohesion (a montage of men and women in restaurants, or by the sea, or climbing staircases) but the succession of sequences would seem bafflingly abstract. A friend of mine once argued, quite vociferously, that Maddin’s work, beloved by critics, was totally devoid of interest to non-cinephiles, and this would seem an extreme example, where the more familiar you are with one particular movie, the more you’ll get out of it, and the more of the shows and movies featured within it you recognize, the more fun you’ll have.
Fun is the order of the day: the movie’s affect is puckish and surreally funny, quite different from Hitchcock’s bleak romantic tragedy. The two do share a kind of swoozy delirium, but nowhere in Hitchcock do we see a young Michael Douglas in The Streets of San Francisco (1972) admiring his own bare ass from Basic Instinct (1992) projected on a screen. That’s another thing going on here: the filmmaking team include many shots of actors looking at screens showing images from other shows, creating a sense of Langian conspiracy and surveillance, a vaguely science fictional narrative about a green fog invading Frisco… This is so undeveloped in any conventional sense that I feel I may be imagining it, yet it added immensely to the film’s quality of density: it’s one of the fastest, most concentrated, most story-packed non-narrative films I can recall.
The Maddin-Johnsons could have made their lives easier, I suppose, by working only with the films of Hitchcock himself, which obsessively spiral around recurring themes, images and melodramatic situations, or they could have re-recycled the imagery of Brian DePalma, who seems to have stolen everything not nailed down in Vertigo, and then stolen the nails, but the approach chosen in undoubtedly the most amusing. To depict Scottie Ferguson’s numb despair after losing Madeleine Elster, they cobble together shots of Chuck Norris in Slaughter in San Francisco, a 1974 chop-socky adventure, finding in the martial artist’s Droopy-like countenance the perfect accidental embodiment of catatonic misery. The use of film noir reminds us how much Hitch’s work drew from or intersected with that genre, while remaining stubbornly its own animal, while all the Universal TV stuff reminds us of the rarely-acknowledged televisual aspects of the Hitchock canon (Family Plot in particular looks exactly like a Movie of the Week).
The whole thing also amounts, as intended, to a love letter to the Bay Area, that most photogenic of cities, and its rich cinematic history. Fans of the primary source movie may bemoan Maddin and the Johnsons tendency to make fun of Hitchcock, cinema, and their own movie, but to me there’s something both irresistible and exhilarating in this Frankensteinian patchwork.

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Fun UK Trailer for Feel-Good Wrestling Comedy ‘Walk Like A Panther’

Walk Like A Panther Trailer

"The Panthers… You shall all be warriors once more!" 20th Century Fox UK has unveiled an official trailer for a feel-good, cheesy comedy titled Walk Like A Panther, which opens in UK cinemas in March (but no US release planned yet). The film stars Stephen Graham and Dave Johns (the lead of I, Daniel Blake) as a father-son duo who must team up to help save their local pub when it’s threatened. They gather up their old wrestling friends to put on one big show dressed up in their goofy 80’s wrestling costumes to make extra money for the pub. The cast includes Stephen Marcus, Julian Sands, Jill Halfpenny, Christopher Fairbank, Robbie Gee, Sue Johnston, plus Stephen Tompkinson, along with Lena Headey and Jason Flemyng. This looks sort of fun, I guess. If this kind of British humor is your thing, then have at it.

Here’s the official UK trailer for Dan Cadan’s Walk Like A Panther, direct from YouTube (via TMB):

Walk Like A Panther

Walk Like A Panther revolves around a group of ’80s wrestlers who are forced to don the lycra one last time when their beloved local pub is threatened by closure. Led by the father-son duo, Mark (Stephen Graham) and Trevor Bolton (Dave Johns), this unlikely bunch of underdog heroes sets out to save their community, rekindling old friendships and family ties along the way. Walk Like A Panther is written and directed by English filmmaker Dan Cadan, making his feature directorial debut after a short previously. This hasn’t premiered at any festivals or otherwise. Fox UK will release Walk Like A Panther in UK cinemas starting March 9th, 2018 coming up soon. No US release has been set yet. Stay tuned. Anyone interested?

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Trailer for ‘Genesis 2.0’ Sundance Doc About Hunting Mammoth Tusks

Genesis 2.0 Doc Trailer

"In the quest for life, there is nowhere man will not go." The first full trailer has debuted online for a new documentary film titled Genesis 2.0, which is premiering at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival this month. Made by Swiss filmmaker Christian Frei and Russian filmmaker Maxim Arbugaev, the film profiles the "gold rush" happening in Siberia right now – scavengers in the cold who hunt for mammoth tusks (prized in the Chinese art market). Not only do they go into Siberia to understand how these communities of hunters work, but it also goes beyond to explore next step: resurrecting the mammoth is a first manifestation of the next great technological revolution. "Man becomes Creator. Genesis two point zero." That’s where the title comes from. This seems like a captivating, mind-expanding documentary that examines "life" itself. Dig in.

Here’s the first trailer for Christian Frei & Maxim Arbugaev’s doc Genesis 2.0, from YouTube (via TFS):

Genesis 2.0 Documentary

On the remote New Siberian Islands in the Arctic Ocean, hunters are searching for the tusks of extinct mammoths. There is a gold rush fever in the air. The price for white gold has never been so high. The thawing permafrost not only releases precious ivory. The tusk hunters find a surprisingly well-preserved mammoth carcass. Such finds are magnets for high-tech genetic scientists. They want to bring the extinct woolly mammoth back to life à la "Jurassic Park". Resurrecting the mammoth is a first manifestation of the next great technological revolution. Man becomes Creator. Genesis two point zero. A Film about the secrets and mysteries hidden within nature and the fundamental difference in view of creation and the role of man in it. Genesis 2.0 is co-directed by filmmakers Christian Frei (Swiss documentarian of War Photographer, The Giant Buddhas, Space Tourists, Sleepless in New York) & Maxim Arbugaev. The film will premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. It’s still seeking distribution, so stay tuned for more news.

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Official Trailer for Fascinating German Documentary Film ‘He She I’

He She I Trailer

"I’m the only link between my parents." An official trailer is available online for a German documentary film titled He She I, or just Er Sie Ich in German, made by the very talented filmmaker Carlotta Kittel. This fascinating documentary is about two parents, and former lovers, who chat about their experiences together from their past. Here’s the concept – each person (they haven’t seen or talked to each other in over 20 years) was interviewed individually about their romance and the child they had together. Then, a year or so later, the other person’s interview was shown to the opposite person – and that interview was also taped as they discuss thoughts on what the other person was saying. It’s a painfully honest, sometimes amusing look at how everyone tells a different story – and how everyone’s experiences are unique, even time spent together. I had a chance to see this film and I think about it often, a very impressive, emotional, unique doc.

Here’s the official trailer (+ poster) for Carlotta Kittel’s documentary He She I, direct from Vimeo:

He She I Poster

Two people, two sets of perceptions and memories – did Angela and Christian love each other? Were they ever a proper couple? What did they expect of each other? All questions bring forth contradictory answers. The only indisputable fact is that they met in 1986 in Berlin. Yet when Angela became pregnant and decided to keep the child, they broke off contact. Since then they have never spoken about what transpired. 25 years later, their daughter sets up a camera. She interviews Christian, she interviews Angela. She then plays the respective recording back to them – hers to him, his to her. Suddenly, a dynamic unfolds between the two parents, without them actually encountering each other. In this space, their history is recast in the context of the present. Felt truths appear amongst true feelings. He She I is a film about the power to tell your own story, and the powerlessness to prevent a second version of it – a conversation that never happened. He She I, also known as Er Sie Ich in German, is directed by German filmmaker Carlotta Kittel, an editor making her directorial debut. This first premiered at film festivals last year, and played many fests including DOC LA. He She I opens in German cinemas starting on March 8th, but still doesn’t have a US distributor or release date yet. For more news, visit the film’s Facebook page. Stay tuned. Who’s interested?

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Top Controversies That Have PLAGUED SOLO: A Star Wars story

The Solo movie has had a number of issues surrounding its production – do you know them all? We create daily Star Wars content Top 10s, streams, fan theories and more Subscribe and enable notifications to never miss our videos! 🔴 SUBSCRIBE to fulfill your destiny – http://bit.ly/2k9kCcO We love Star Wars. We want to make content for you everyday. Sponsor us so we can keep this channel going! ⭐ SPONSOR TGN Star Wars – http://bit.ly/2jz191g Voiced by Cayce – http://twitter.com/caishakalianah Thumbnail by Nancy Teeple Written by Jeffrey Harris Edited by TGN Network Partner Marco: https://www.youtube.com/MarcoStyleNL Music by Epidemic Sound http://ift.tt/19pXSrH

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First Trailer for Netflix Doc ‘Seeing Allred’ About Activist Gloria Allred

First Trailer for Netflix Doc ‘Seeing Allred’ About Activist Gloria Allred

by
January 15, 2018
Source: YouTube

“There is a war on women… Women depend on me to be strong.” Netflix has debuted the first trailer for a documentary titled Seeing Allred, premiering at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival this month. Directed by doc filmmakers Sophie Sartain & Roberta Grossman, the film profiles activist and women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who has become even more prominent in the last few years with so many high profile sexual assault cases. The doc features key interviews with Gloria Steinem, Don Lemon, Alan Dershowitz, Allred’s daughter Lisa Bloom and many others. Seeing Allred is described as “a portrait of a woman everyone thinks they know, at a time when women need her the most.” This looks like a powerful, timely, very important film that goes beyond just profiling the life of a candid activist, by also holding up a mirror to society today.

First trailer (+ poster) for Sophie Sartain & Roberta Grossman’s documentary Seeing Allred, on YouTube:

Seeing Allred Poster

As sexual-violence allegations grip the nation, Seeing Allred provides a candid look at one of the most public crusaders against the war on women. Through rare archival footage and revealing interviews with both her supporters and critics, this fascinating biographical portrait examines Gloria Allred’s personal trauma and assesses both her wins and setbacks on high-profile cases against Bill Cosby and Donald Trump. Seeing Allred is co-directed by documentary filmmakers Sophie Sartain (Mimi and Dona) and Roberta Grossman (Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action, Hava Nagila: The Movie, Above and Beyond). This will first premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival this month. Netflix will then release Seeing Allred streaming exclusively starting February 9th this winter. First impression? Who’s intrigued?

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First Trailer for Netflix Doc ‘Seeing Allred’ About Activist Gloria Allred

First Trailer for Netflix Doc ‘Seeing Allred’ About Activist Gloria Allred

by
January 15, 2018
Source: YouTube

“There is a war on women… Women depend on me to be strong.” Netflix has debuted the first trailer for a documentary titled Seeing Allred, premiering at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival this month. Directed by doc filmmakers Sophie Sartain & Roberta Grossman, the film profiles activist and women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who has become even more prominent in the last few years with so many high profile sexual assault cases. The doc features key interviews with Gloria Steinem, Don Lemon, Alan Dershowitz, Allred’s daughter Lisa Bloom and many others. Seeing Allred is described as “a portrait of a woman everyone thinks they know, at a time when women need her the most.” This looks like a powerful, timely, very important film that goes beyond just profiling the life of a candid activist, by also holding up a mirror to society today.

First trailer (+ poster) for Sophie Sartain & Roberta Grossman’s documentary Seeing Allred, on YouTube:

Seeing Allred Poster

As sexual-violence allegations grip the nation, Seeing Allred provides a candid look at one of the most public crusaders against the war on women. Through rare archival footage and revealing interviews with both her supporters and critics, this fascinating biographical portrait examines Gloria Allred’s personal trauma and assesses both her wins and setbacks on high-profile cases against Bill Cosby and Donald Trump. Seeing Allred is co-directed by documentary filmmakers Sophie Sartain (Mimi and Dona) and Roberta Grossman (Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action, Hava Nagila: The Movie, Above and Beyond). This will first premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival this month. Netflix will then release Seeing Allred streaming exclusively starting February 9th this winter. First impression? Who’s intrigued?

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First Trailer for Netflix Doc ‘Seeing Allred’ About Activist Gloria Allred

First Trailer for Netflix Doc ‘Seeing Allred’ About Activist Gloria Allred

by
January 15, 2018
Source: YouTube

“There is a war on women… Women depend on me to be strong.” Netflix has debuted the first trailer for a documentary titled Seeing Allred, premiering at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival this month. Directed by doc filmmakers Sophie Sartain & Roberta Grossman, the film profiles activist and women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who has become even more prominent in the last few years with so many high profile sexual assault cases. The doc features key interviews with Gloria Steinem, Don Lemon, Alan Dershowitz, Allred’s daughter Lisa Bloom and many others. Seeing Allred is described as “a portrait of a woman everyone thinks they know, at a time when women need her the most.” This looks like a powerful, timely, very important film that goes beyond just profiling the life of a candid activist, by also holding up a mirror to society today.

First trailer (+ poster) for Sophie Sartain & Roberta Grossman’s documentary Seeing Allred, on YouTube:

Seeing Allred Poster

As sexual-violence allegations grip the nation, Seeing Allred provides a candid look at one of the most public crusaders against the war on women. Through rare archival footage and revealing interviews with both her supporters and critics, this fascinating biographical portrait examines Gloria Allred’s personal trauma and assesses both her wins and setbacks on high-profile cases against Bill Cosby and Donald Trump. Seeing Allred is co-directed by documentary filmmakers Sophie Sartain (Mimi and Dona) and Roberta Grossman (Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action, Hava Nagila: The Movie, Above and Beyond). This will first premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival this month. Netflix will then release Seeing Allred streaming exclusively starting February 9th this winter. First impression? Who’s intrigued?

Find more posts: Documentaries, To Watch, Trailer

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First Trailer for Netflix Doc ‘Seeing Allred’ About Activist Gloria Allred

First Trailer for Netflix Doc ‘Seeing Allred’ About Activist Gloria Allred

by
January 15, 2018
Source: YouTube

“There is a war on women… Women depend on me to be strong.” Netflix has debuted the first trailer for a documentary titled Seeing Allred, premiering at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival this month. Directed by doc filmmakers Sophie Sartain & Roberta Grossman, the film profiles activist and women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who has become even more prominent in the last few years with so many high profile sexual assault cases. The doc features key interviews with Gloria Steinem, Don Lemon, Alan Dershowitz, Allred’s daughter Lisa Bloom and many others. Seeing Allred is described as “a portrait of a woman everyone thinks they know, at a time when women need her the most.” This looks like a powerful, timely, very important film that goes beyond just profiling the life of a candid activist, by also holding up a mirror to society today.

First trailer (+ poster) for Sophie Sartain & Roberta Grossman’s documentary Seeing Allred, on YouTube:

Seeing Allred Poster

As sexual-violence allegations grip the nation, Seeing Allred provides a candid look at one of the most public crusaders against the war on women. Through rare archival footage and revealing interviews with both her supporters and critics, this fascinating biographical portrait examines Gloria Allred’s personal trauma and assesses both her wins and setbacks on high-profile cases against Bill Cosby and Donald Trump. Seeing Allred is co-directed by documentary filmmakers Sophie Sartain (Mimi and Dona) and Roberta Grossman (Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action, Hava Nagila: The Movie, Above and Beyond). This will first premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival this month. Netflix will then release Seeing Allred streaming exclusively starting February 9th this winter. First impression? Who’s intrigued?

Find more posts: Documentaries, To Watch, Trailer

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