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Headsup: Independent Film Friday #2


The first week of August is just around the corner, and with it come some new titles for the independent film junkie:


First is Fipresci Prize winner Red Leaves, Israeli-Ethiopian director Bazi Gete’s feature-length debut film which tells the tale of Meseganio Tadela (Debebe Eshetu), a 74-year-old Ethiopian immigrant living in Israel who has recently become a widower.  After deciding that he will sell his apartment and live alternately with his two adult sons (regardless of their feelings on the matter), the harsh reality of Tadela’s role as an unassimilated patriarch clinging to the past clashes with the realities of living in modern Israel as he struggles to pass on the values of his culture and his life to those around him before his chance is gone.  The movie is out from IndiePix Films on August 1 on DVD (at $24.95 suggested retail) as well as the streaming subscription service IndiePix Unlimited.  For an insight into the film, check out the trailer below:



Next up is 1944, Estonia’s Official Oscar Entry for Best Foreign Language Film in 2016.  Directed by Elmo Nüganen, 1944 takes an inside look into the effects of Estonia’s occupation during WWII (first by Soviet Russia and then by Nazi Germany) when tens of thousands of men of combat age in the Baltic country were forced to fight for the Soviet and Nazi forces.  Friends and neighbors were facing each other on the battlefield, with the country torn apart as a result.   The story (written by novelist Leo Kunnas, a former high-ranking Estonian military officer) is told through the eyes of the Estonian civilians fighting on opposing sides and the struggles that they go through to keep their humanity while trying to survive one of the bloodiest periods in the country’s history.  The film is out on August 1 from Film Movement on digital platforms and a Walmart-exclusive DVD, which includes the original Estonian with English subtitles as well as an English-dubbed track.  As a bonus feature, the DVD also includes director Jeanne Joseph’s Le Deux Vies de Nate Hill (The Two Lives of Nate Hill), an animated short that juxtaposes chance and fate.  For a preview of 1944, check out the trailer below:



If the blood-and-guts of 1944 doesn’t put you off, you might be just the audience for Bender, a thriller based on “the Bloody Benders,” America’s first (recorded) family of serial killers, estimated to have murdered a dozen (or more) travelers unfortunate enough to cross their path.  The film (the directorial debut of John Alexander) follows the investigation of people disappearing from a Kansas frontier settlement in the 1870s and the chilling discoveries that ensue once the focus is turned on the Bender family.  The ensemble cast features several familiar faces, including James Karen (The Return of the Living Dead, The Pursuit of Happyness, Wall Street), Linda Purl (The Office, Homeland), Bruce Davison (X-Men, The Fosters, Longtime Companion), Buck Taylor (Gunsmoke, Cowboys & Aliens), Reylynn Caster (Speechless), and Jon Monastero (The Book of Daniel).  Out on August 1 from Candy Factory Films, Bender will be available both on digital platforms and DVD (at $19.99 suggested retail).  For a sneak peek at the film, check out the trailer below: