7thart.com 7thart Releasing RSS News Updates http://www.7thart.com Where My Heart Beats Screens For U.N. Women http://www.7thart.com/News

WHERE MY HEART BEATS was recently invited to screen at the U.N. for U.N. Women and producer Hunter Davis captured the event with some snapshots. Attending the screening were Where My Heart Beats director Khazar Fatemi, producer Hunter Davis, former President of Chile and current U.N. Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet, and Deputy Minister of Afghanistan Ahmad Zahir Faqiri.

Head over to 7th Art's Tumblr to see pictures from the event.

In WHERE MY HEART BEATS, Khazar Fatemi travels back to her home country of Afghanistan after fleeing as a refugee 20 years prior. She captures her painful and ultimately inspirational journey to reconnect with the amazing people of her broken homeland, opening a window into civilian Afghani life that few outsiders have ever witnessed and audiences will never forget.

Check out Where My Heart Beat's Facebook page or our page for the film for updates.

Thu, 14 Jun 2012 11:33:59 -0700
45365 launches on Prescreen http://www.7thart.com/News 45365 launches today on Prescreen! The Ross Brothers' film won a host of awards from the Jury Award for Best Documentary at SXSW to the Independent Spirit Truer Than Fiction Award and many in between.

We released the film in 10 cities in 2010 to excellent reviews across the board:

Remarkable... Captivating... A small town symphony. -The New York Times

Hypnotic! - New York Magazine Critic's Pick

An achingly beautiful film. - Roger Ebert

Meticulously balancing cinema-verite intimacy and dreamlike reverie, 45365 fashions a seductive, fascinating tapestry of small-town life by interweaving seemingly random glimpses of residents in Sidney, Ohio. - Variety

45365 offers an intriguing meditative look at small-town life. Recommended. - Video Librarian

45365 now available for the first time since it was in theaters in it's complete form at Prescreen.com!
Fri, 16 Mar 2012 12:22:21 -0700
Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day http://www.7thart.com/News

In observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 7th Art Releasing presents two powerful and unique visions with The Last Survivor and Jealous of the Birds.


"A staggeringly powerful film." -Cinematical

"A documentary about survivors of genocide, from the Holocaust to Rwanda... Several individual stories woven into one by the brilliance of the directors, a film at once beautiful and hopeful." -Huffington Post

View the Trailer

THE LAST SURVIVOR is an award winning, feature-length documentary film that presents the stories of genocide survivors and their struggle to make sense of tragedy by working to educate a new generation, inspire tolerance and spark a civic response to mass atrocity crimes. Following the lives of survivors of four different genocides and mass atrocities - The Holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur, and Congo. The film presents a unique opportunity to learn from the lessons and mistakes of our past in order to have a lasting social impact on how we act collectively in the face of similar issues today.

Having shot on location in five countries across four continents, the film focuses on the universality of the horror of genocide - combating the misguided notion that genocide is something that happens "over there." Rather, the film asks its audience to consider genocide as an evil that has occurred on nearly every single continent and one that affects all of us as human beings. In the end, THE LAST SURVIVOR is above all else an intimate meditation on how one begins to pick up the pieces of a broken life after experiencing such tragedy.


"Taking a new tack on the Holocaust documentary." -Variety

"Fascinating" -The Village Voice

View the Trailer

Some 15,000 Holocaust survivors remained in Germany after WWII. How could they stay? JEALOUS OF THE BIRDS was born from this pivotal question. Filmmaker Jordan Bahat begins this quest with a desire to understand the choices made by his own grandparents. In interviews with survivors, their children and other Germans, Bahat explores what it means for victims to live among perpetrators and for children of those perpetrators to deal with the guilt borne from the crimes of their parents. The film becomes a conversation about the effects of these relationships on future generations and the human capacity to confront and rebuild.

JEALOUS OF THE BIRDS reminds us that the choices of the past create legacies that play out across families, nations, cultures and generations.

Also click here to check out the brand new trailer for Portrait of Wally!

Fri, 27 Jan 2012 15:11:31 -0800
New Feature Documentary Oscar Rules- A Voice of Dissent http://www.7thart.com/News

Udy Epstein, head and founder of Seventh Art Releasing was published in indieWIRE this week regarding his thoughts on the new feature documentary Oscar rules.

Once upon a time and several Academy rule-changes ago, I watched in awe as Michael Moore – who is a great public speaker – swept an Academy-related audience off their feet during Oscar consideration time. Michael was pushing for his film and threw his considerable weight exactly where it mattered. Meanwhile, another worthy doc was left un-promoted despite an amazing critical response and broad festival recognition. Seventh Art didn’t have a horse in that race, but I became close with the filmmakers, who had no means or connections of their own. In the weeks leading up to the Oscars, we watched together as a film with major distribution by a celebrity filmmaker left the rest of the contenders in the dust.

During Academy consideration time and also later, (including when he hosted the IDA Awards), Moore repeated his pledge to support distribution of independent docs. So when The New York Times broke the news of another Academy rules change and he came out to explain it on the Academy’s behalf, I initially applauded. But on closer examination, it is clear that introducing 200 screeners per film into the mix will not be the solution; it will, in fact, create an entirely new problem. On top of that, most quality (but small) documentaries with limited distribution will inevitably find themselves handicapped by the elimination of the committee process. These two changes will shift the bias from favoring one side of the industry – TV – to another – large distribution of bigger films- all at the expense of independent documentaries.

Michael Moore smartly pointed to the empty 95% of the glass in his reasoning for the new rules as if they will reverse low viewership altogether. But even if sending screeners was affordable, doable, and risk free, it wouldn’t change the general Academy members’ relatively low interest in documentaries. Moreover, mass-mailing of screeners (post-nomination) to members whose plates are already overflowing with DVDs at Academy time is the equivalent of independent documentarians shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to voting.

The Academy’s documentary qualification process was never perfect, but the branch has always tried to protect it from unfair interference – commercial or otherwise (for example, the films are blindly grouped and assigned to committees in order to avoid favoritism). The Academy continues to believe in its mission statement; why else would it still protect the Short Documentary category under the old rules even though shorts clearly are not theatrical at their core?

So what exactly will change with the new rules?

Sending all submitted films’ screeners to all of the members of the documentary branch gurarantees a new unspoken unavoidable norm; namely, some will vote without seeing all of the films. Or perhaps they will, but after only the partial sampling of some films (or any combination thereof...). Either way, it would become impossible to enforse the rule requiring members to see ALL considered films in order to vote. It is one thing to opt in, (volunteer and qualify for committee work), it is another for members to disqualify themselves from voting because they were not able to truly view all sixty five or so screeners thrown at them (which is a bigger load than any of the commeettees ever had)! Ironically, viewing of all of the documentaries will still be done by a group made up of committed members who are able to devote the time and who also have the conviction to see the process through – many of the same volunteers who have been in committees up to now. Moreover, the viewing process will shift away from theatrical presentations and to the small screen on DVD in uncontrolled environments. This will not only mean fewer people will see most of the contending films theatrically at any given phase of the process, but it will also mean a trend away from Academy-sanctioned theatrical screenings. People tend to pay attention/watch/vote for bigger films they have heard about. As a result, smaller films will fall by the wayside.

This negative trend is also true post-Nomination; smaller docs will not be able to sustain an extended theatrical presence or conduct additional screenings. Independent films will not be able to provide screeners to the Academy at large or arrange screenings due to expense and logistics. Instead, the Academy should increase the size of the committees rather than eliminate them. Broader-based committees would prevent the “Steve James Anomaly” from happening while keeping the process honest and closer to the Academy’s vision that one must truly watch all films in order to vote. Committees allow the branch to share the load; there is no other realistic way to implement the Academy prinicpals and keep this competition honest and fair.Post nomination, there is no better presentation forum than the Academy-sanctioned screenings. Nominated films are screened in a theatrical setting and admission is verified. Supplemental screeners are tightly controlled while members who had seen any of the films prior (at the initial voting phases or at the theatrical release) are accomodated. But with the new rules it would become AMPAS for the rich, VSDA for the poor.

Years ago, we got a call from the head of a major studio (in person – it was no prank) who wanted to view an Oscar-nominated film we handled that year. We did not send it. Later, a number of Hollywood’s top producers, directors, actors, and musicians (who had suddenly developed a passionate interest in our little film) asked for copies. In trying to be fair and inclusive (despite my better judgment), I granted these requests having secured promises from each individual to “vote their conscience.” Members came up with the strangest excuses as to why they couldn’t attend Academy screenings and therefore must be given screeners (offering their FedEx accounts and lots of sweet talk). I was naïve. Arthur Kohn, on the other hand, got it right every time a film of his came up for nomination. Whoever accused him over the years of abusing the system by limiting the voting pool forgot that he played by the rules, rules created to prevent fraud. A few weeks later, the studio discovered that a network it owned was also involved with our film and the studio head got his screener (promising, of course, to vote his conscience). The reality of the situation finally came into focus: this was the studio’s only nomination for top brass and one of its prized producers was attached. The studio was not going to let an Academy Award slip away.

As we approached the finish line, the studio’s powerful distribution arm offered to sponsor screenings of all the doc nominees (at no cost to any of the other films). It had also accumulated and disseminated to members, lists of when and where all of the other contenders had previously played publicly. Their film was then kept in theaters playing to virtually empty seats (a studio “four-wall,” if you will). Meanwhile, they did all they could to obtain “legal” screeners of the other nominated films. One way or another, these measures allowed some Academy members with little or no interest in documentaries to vote that year. It was now kosher for some members to vote without attending the Academy sacntioned screenings (and without seeing the other films) becasue the studio had heavily lobbied them to vote for its film and had helped “qualify their vote.” Guess who won? Don’t get me wrong-- the studio-supported film was just as amazing and as deserving as any other, but the rules were bent to ensure victory.

In another close case I am intimately familiar with, the Academy bravely disqualified some votes for a film which was the favorite to win, having suspected, investigated, and then concluded that indeed some votes had been rigged by an overzealous mini-major (i.e. some members voted despite not seeing all nominated films). Screeners were at the heart of this action. The diligence of the Academy likely changed the results that year. Now imagine 200 screeners (post nomination even more) floating around. There will be no accurate way to keep the spirit of the Academy’s intentions, nor truly verify compliance of its rules.

A few years back, the Academy required feature documentaries to play theatrically in multiple cities in order to qualify. Many, including myself, petitioned for an easing of this rule. The Academy surprisingly responded by reducing the number of cities to two (along with other changed requirements). The immediate unexpected and unintended consequence was the birth of the “silent qualifier,” in which a film is played without press, reviews, or audience at least twice daily for a week in NYC and LA. A cottage industry of four-walling, projector rentals and such blossomed as a result. It also allowed for the IDA’s Docuweeks showcase, which grouped films, shared costs, and provided some extra income for the IDA, a not-for-profit organization. The new rule requiring a New York Times or Los Angeles Times review will certainly filter out undeserving entries and help correct the silent qualifier anomaly. It is a smart, fair and worthy requirement. On the other hand, while eliminating the committee process and disseminating 200-plus screeners per film may look democratic, it is actually a move that will heavily favor strong, rich and famous films and introduce corruptible influences. When egos, money and prestige are on the line, marketing machines will do what they are there to do – make their film win. The documentary features which were once held under a protective shield and judged only on their merit, will now be exposed to Hollywood’s Academy Awards campaign games. While it’s clear that the Academy’s intentions are to keep the process pure, they are once more heading down a road with treacherous consequences.

Click here to see the article on the indieWIRE site!

Mon, 23 Jan 2012 13:53:36 -0800
The Critics Agree! IN HEAVEN, UNDERGROUND is http://www.7thart.com/News

Last Friday Seventh Art Releasing's documentary IN HEAVEN, UNDERGROUND opened theatrically in Los Angeles to rave reviews. If you haven't had a chance to see the Berlin International Film Festival Award Winner yet, you can still catch it until Thursday at Laemmle Town Center and over the weekend at Laemmle Monica.

A playful, poetic and all-around charming documentary." -Kenneth Turan, LA Times

"Poetic and exquisite" -New York Times

"ASTONISHING! ... an indelible must-see film." -The Forward

"Elegant...graceful and charming,'In Heaven, Underground' is a delightful surprise." -The Jewish Week

"An engaging and surprisingly playful movie" -NY MAG

"STUNNING! ... gorgeously photographed." -Paste Magazine

*Panorama Audience Award Berlin Int'l Film Festival

*Honorable Mention Jerusalem Film Festival

*Official Selection Hot Docs Int'l Film Festival

*Official Selection Hamptons Int'l Film Festival

*Official Selection San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

IN HEAVEN, UNDERGROUND: THE WEISSENSEE JEWISH CEMETERY is a lively and enchanting journey celebrating life and the immortality of memories. North of Berlin's noisy city centre, surrounded by a jungle of trees and lush foliage, lies the peaceful and secluded 130-year-old Weissensee Jewish Cemetery, the largest Jewish cemetery still in use in Europe. Its one hundred acres holds 115,000 graves and a meticulous archive record. The cemetery has never closed, even remaining in Jewish hands during the Nazi regime. Award-winning director Britta Wauer's charming portrait creates a serene experience following a delightful array of characters from around the world: mourners, tourists, a young family residing at the cemetery, a third-generation gravedigger and an ornithologist studying rare birds of prey.

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 10:01:14 -0800