Director and cinematographer Benjamin Ree injected his deep interest with art theft in his latest feature The Painter and the Thief, which drops in virtual cinemas as well as VOD platforms starting Friday.
The documentary debuted at Sundance earlier this year and went on to win the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Creative Storytelling before being acquired by Neon. In the film, two paintings by Czech artist Barbora Kysilkova are stolen from an Oslo art gallery. The thieves are identified with a quickness but the paintings are nowhere to be found.
Barbora reaches out to one of the thieves (Karl-Bertil Nordland) and she ends up painting a portrait of him. After a series of portraits the two form a bond and become unlikely friends.
“I’ve always been fascinated with art theft,” said Ree. “I think it’s because of the contrasts. The socially elevated art industry with a lot of cultural capital meets ‘lower-class’ criminals with rough backgrounds. These contrasts raise questions that intrigue me. Who are these thieves? How do they choose their paintings, and is it for money or because of a genuine love of art?”
Watch the trailer below.
Legendary actress Tsai Chin (The Joy Luck Club, Memoirs of a Geisha) is ready to throw the dice, win some serious cash and take on Chinatown gang members in the Sasie Sealy-directed dark comedy Lucky Grandma.
The Good Deed Entertainment film won AT&T’s Untold Stories competition in 2019 and went on to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Lucky Grandma has its virtual theatrical debut today via Kino Marquee.
Written by Sealy and Angela Cheng, the film follows the titular 80-year-old widowed, chain-smoking, not-so-nice Grandma (Chin). When a local fortune teller (Wai Ching Ho) predicts a most auspicious day in her future, she takes that and runs to the casino and goes all in — but ends up unlucky, attracting the attention of some local gangsters. To get some muscle to protect her, Grandma employs the services of a bodyguard from a rival gang (Corey Ha) and it isn’t long until she finds herself right in the middle of a Chinatown gang war.
The film’s virtual release comes as May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, bringing more representation and different types of narratives for the Asian community.
“When it comes to the stories that are in front of the camera, I think we should be framing the conversation in a different way so that you’re not marginalizing these films: New voices, different perspectives, unlikely heroes, an unexpected angle or twist — a different world on screen,” said Sealy in an interview with Deadline. “Because in the end, the filmmakers are still operating as storytellers who are trying to engage and entertain an audience.”
Watch the trailer below.
Bleecker Street’s Peter Cattaneo-directed feel-good dramedy Military Wives will sing its to on-demand today as well.
Inspired by a true story, the film made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and stars Kristin Scott Thomas, Sharon Horgan and Jason Flemyng. From the same director who brought us The Full Monty, Military Wives follows Kate (Thomas), Lisa (Horgan) and a group of women who form an unlikely singing club as a way to cope with their partners’ deployment to Afghanistan. The film is inspired by a real-life charity and a whole host of similar choirs around the world.
“I didn’t know anything about military wives; I didn’t know anything about choirs,” Cattaneo told Deadline during the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019. “You see hundreds of war films, but you’ve never seen what happens to the families left behind. As a family person myself, it felt like interesting territory, and then when I knew it was a true story and it had choirs in it, I thought, Well, if you put music and singing in the middle of all that, that just sounds like potential to be a great movie.”
I Will Make You Mine bookends an indie trilogy initially kicked off by director Dave Boyle with Surrogate Valentine in 2011 and Daylight Savings in 2012. However, with the third installment, Boyle handed off the director baton to Lynn Chen, who not only made her feature directorial debut but stars in all three films.
The romantic dramedy follows three women: Rachel (Chen) who is sitting uncomfortably in luxury as her husband cheats on her; Professor Erika (Ayako Fujitani), who is trying her best to juggle her career and raise her daughter Sachiko (Ayami Riley Tomine); and struggling musician Yea-Ming, who plays a version of herself. Their different lives intersect as each of them has a flawed romantic history with singer-songwriter Goh (who also plays a version of himself). When he comes back into the picture, things start to get complicated.
Like the previous two installments, the film was set to premiere at SXSW before the fest was canceled in March. It was acquired by Gravitas Ventures and, in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, there have been special screenings leading up to its May 26 on-demand debut.
Amy Goldstein’s documentary Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl follows the rise and fall and rise again of titular pop star-actress-advocate.
A native of North London, Nash quickly became an uber-successful pop star, with a platinum-selling record that dominated the music charts and fueled worldwide tours. She was always an outspoken woman — but the industry didn’t like her honesty.
After her rise to fame, Nash’s life started to unravel as her manager screwed her over, she took odd jobs and ended up nearly homeless. However, her perseverance came through and she crowd-funded her third album and became an actress, landing a role on Netflix’s GLOW. Underestimate the Girl takes us on Nash’s journey as she goes from brutally honest pop star to struggling artist to a woman now in control of her career.
The docu originally released in the UK on BBC Three prior to its debut today on Alamo On Demand. A special interactive performance and Q&A will take place with Nash on Saturday at 6 PM PST. It will hit theaters in August. The exclusive release is planning a limited traditional theatrical rollout in August.
IFC Films will debut director Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip To Greece, the fourth and final installment to the comedy series, which bookends a 10-year collaboration between Winterbottom and comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.
stunningly beautiful Greece to retrace Odysseus’s footsteps in this fourth and final installment of the gut-busting comedy series, the culmination of almost 10 years of collaboration.
In the film, Coogan and Brydon travel Greece and attempt to retrace Odysseus’s 10-year journey from Troy to Ithaca — but the duo has only six days on their own personal odyssey. On the way they argue about tragedy and comedy, astronomy and biology, myth, history, democracy and the meaning of life. The film features picturesque locations in Greece including Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the Ancient Agora of Athens, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus, the unique island of Hydra, the Caves of Diros, Nestor’s Palace, Niokastro Fortress in Pylos, and Ancient Stagira, as well as a lot of shooting in restaurants and hotels in Athens, Hydra, Lesvos, Chalkidiki, Pelion, Kavala, and at the Peloponnese.
Foodies will enjoy the new Greenwich Entertainment docu Diana Kennedy: Nothing Fancy, which spotlights the 97-year-old food writer, cookbook author and British ex-pat who has become the foremost expert on Mexican cuisine. The James Beard Award-nominated film directed by Elizabeth Carroll hits virtual cinemas today and will go on to VOD on June 19.
The docu, which won the Special Jury Award for Documentary Feature at SXSW last year, follows Kennedy’s unconventional life and features interviews with noteworthy chefs and friends including Alice Waters, José Andrés, Rick Bayless and Gabriela Cámara, along with footage from her 1992 TLC cooking show The Art of Mexican Cooking.
Other films hitting VOD, digital or virtual cinemas this weekend and in the upcoming week include Vaughn Stein’s Inheritance. The film was a Tribeca Film Festival selection this year and stars Lily Collins, Simon Pegg, Connie Nielsen, Chace Crawford and Patrick Warburton. Written by Matthew Kennedy, the thriller follows the patriarch of a wealthy and powerful family who suddenly dies, leaving his wife and daughter with a shocking secret inheritance that threatens to unravel and destroy their lives.
Written and directed by Brian Levin, Union Bridge follows the character of Will Shipe (Scott Friend), the scion of a powerful family living near the Mason Dixon line. When he moves back home after years in the city he finds that his old friend Nick is feverishly digging in the land because of a vision he can’t escape. What is buried in this small town and the events around it have repercussions that affect many people — especially Will.
The Breaking Glass film is produced by Levin and Lucie Elwes and also stars Emma Duncan, Alex Breaux and Elisabeth Noone.
Philip Barantini’s Villain follows ex-con Eddie Franks (Craig Fairbrass) who is looking to start a new life, but he struggles as he learns of his brother’s dangerous debt to a drug lord. As a result, Eddie he goes back to his life of crime with devastating consequences.
Also hitting on-demand in the upcoming week on May 26 is Jon Hyatt’s Screened Out — an appropriate documentary in a time when everyone is screen-obsessed. The film follows Hyatt and his family as they go on a journey through the life-changing eﬀects of screen addiction, how the tech industry hooked global consumers, and its greater impact on our lives.