Israeli Drama ‘Broken Mirrors’ Due on Digital and VOD Sept. 22 From Level 33

The Israeli film Broken Mirrors will premiere on digital and VOD Sept. 22 from Level 33 Entertainment.

In the dramatic thriller, Shira Haas (Emmy Nominee, Netflix’s “Unorthodox”) plays 17-year-old Ariella, who is shadowed by a strict, military father who inflicts severe methods of punishment as a form of discipline. When she commits a grave error that her father isn’t willing to punish her for, seeking a punishment of her own, Ariella embarks on a dark quest where she will discover a secret to her father’s past that will lead them to confront one another.

The film also stars Yiftach Klein, Renana Raz, Yoav Rotman, Liora Rivlin, Manuel Elkaslassy, Yaakov Zada Daniel and Michaela Elkin.

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It won the Jury Prize for Best Actress at the Festival du Cinéma Israélien de Montréal and Schlingel Best Feature Film at the Film Festival for Children & Young Audience Schlingel. It was nominated for the Jury Award Narrative Feature at the Berkshire International Film Festival (BIFF); the Grand Prix at the Zlin Film Festival; the Award of the Israeli Film Academy; Best Actress, Best Casting and Best Screenplay from the Awards of the Israeli Film Academy; the Golden Zenith First Fiction Films Competition at the Montréal World Film Festival; and Alice in the City Prize Young Adult at the Rome Film Fest.

‘Legend of Tomiris’ Coming to Disc and Digital Sept. 29 From Well Go

The epic Kazakhstan drama The Legend of Tomiris, based on one of the world’s first female warlords, will debut on digital, Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 29 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Directed by Akan Satayev (The Liquidator), it follows the story of the life of the great queen of the steppe — the legendary Tomiris, a woman destined to become a skillful warrior and strategist, unite the Scythian/Saka tribes under her authority, and slay the founder and first king of the Persian empire. Based on historical heroine Queen Tomiris of Massagetae and her cadre of female warriors (the real-life 6th century BCE Amazonians), The Legend of Tomiris recounts the tale of the nomadic ruler who overcame great personal tragedy to repel the powerful Persian empire and unite the Great Steppe.

The Legend of Tomiris, the highest-grossing action film in Kazakhstan, stars Almira Tursyn, Adil Akhmetov, Yerkebulan Daiyrov, Berik Aitzhanov, Azamat Satybaldy, Aizhan Lighg and Ghassan Massoud (Kingdom of Heaven).

“We have a passion for incredible stories, and few are more compelling than the almost unfathomable life story of the first historical ‘Queen of the Amazons,’” said Doris Pfardrescher, president and CEO of Well Go USA Entertainment, in a statement. “Tomiris viewers will be left awe-struck by this fierce young warrior, who embodied such strength and unwavering love for her people that she overcame great tragedy to protect them at all costs, even when it meant waging war against the most powerful empire the world had ever seen.”

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While Queen Tomiris lived 2,500 years ago, her legacy continues to thrive today. Indeed, Tomiris’ influence was such that her life was described in detail by famed Greek historian Herodotus, her beauty was depicted on many European works of art and her legacy has endured for millennia to inspire people throughout Central Asia.

Well Go picked up North American rights from Arclight Films.

“There is a strong appetite for real life stories of powerful women, stories that deserve to be told,” Gary Hamilton, chairman of Arclight Films, said in a statement. “Tomiris tells one such story, and coupled with its exquisite landscapes and exceptional production values, it is an epic film that will enthrall audiences. When Kazakh-American film producer Gia Noortas (and head of the Honorary Consulate of Kazakhstan in Los Angeles) introduced us to this special project, we immediately recognized the extraordinary potential of this film. We are thrilled that our friends at Well Go USA are on board to bring the inspiring story of Queen Tomiris to U.S. audiences.”

Guatemala’s Jayro Bustamante Says Making Political Horror Mash-Up ‘La Llorona’ Was ‘Stategic’

Hailed by Oscar winner Bong Joon Ho (Parasite) as one of 20 directors who will shape the cinema to come, Guatemalan filmmaker Jayro Bustamante continues his stellar career trajectory with La Llorona (The Weeping Woman), the third installment of a trilogy that kicked off with his 2015 Berlinale Silver Bear winner, Ixcanul (Volcano).

Winner of Best Film at the 2019 Venice Film Festival sidebar, Venice Days, La Llorona turns on the household of a retired general accused of spearheading the genocide of Mayan peasants decades ago, a clear reference to a similar case in Guatemala. As his wife, daughter and granddaughter take refuge with him, the house is besieged by protesters and his spooked domestic staff flees, with the exception of his devoted housekeeper. The arrival of a mysterious indigenous woman, who has answered the call for hired help, further spikes the atmosphere of dread.

La Llorona is Bustamante’s first foray into the horror genre. “Our decision to explore this genre was not so much artistic, as strategic,” said Bustamante who notes that Guatemalans are still in denial of the massacre of Mayan peasants during the government’s counterinsurgency operations in the early 1980s.

“A study revealed that Guatemalans consumed mostly horror and superhero movies, so we saw the genre as a way to bring the realities of our dark past to them,” he said. Bustamante drew on such references as Dracula, and the psychological suspense of Robert Eggers’ The Witch as well as Alejandro Amenabar’s The Others and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense. “I wanted the mythical figure of La Llorona to be elegant, like Dracula,” he said.

He reimagined the Latin American fable of a grieving mother seeking revenge for the death of her children to symbolize the victims of the genocide.

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“My three films represent what Guatemalans consider the three biggest insults,” said Bustamante who sees Ixcanul, which centers on a Mayan teen trying to own her sexuality and her pregnancy, embody the biggest insult you can hurl at a Guatemalan: “Indio!” Calling a Guatemalan “Indio,” despite the country’s overwhelming indigenous population, is considered a massive insult. “It just shows how we discriminate against ourselves, how low our self-esteem is,” he mused.

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His second film, Temblores (Tremors) epitomizes the slur ‘Hueco,’ which is a local derogatory term for gay. Temblores delves into the homophobia prevalent in conservative Guatemalan society as a well-to-do family seeks conversion therapy for its gay patriarch.

La Llorona embodies the third insult, “Communist,” which is a carryover of the 1950s sentiment against communism, which later devolved into accusing those advocating for human rights and for reducing Guatemala’s vast wealth gap as communists, said Bustamante.

All three films touch on social inequality, racism and the lack of opportunity in Guatemala.

La Llorona stars María Mercedes Coroy, Margarita Kénefic, Sabrina de la Hoz and Julio Díaz.

The film will be available Aug. 6 on Shudder in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Russian Film ‘Evil Boy’ Coming to DVD and Digital Sept. 8 From Well Go

The Russian supernatural horror film Evil Boy will be released on digital and DVD Sept. 8 by Well Go USA Entertainment.

In the film, several years after their son disappears, grieving parents adopt a feral boy who begins to eerily resemble their missing child. While the wife believes they’ve found their son, her husband is certain he died. As strange accidents begin happening around the boy, he suspects they’ve adopted something not entirely human.

Directed by first-time feature filmmaker Olga Gorodetskaya, the film stars Elena Lyadova (Leviathan), Vladimir Vdovichenkov (Leviathan), newcomer Sevastian Bugaev, Evgeniy Tsyganov (The Man Who Surprised Everyone), Anna Ukolova (Leviathan), Konstantin Topolaga (Steel Butterfly) and Roza Khayrullina (The Horde).

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Evil Boy had its international premiere at the 2019 Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival.

The release features an all-new English dub, in addition to its original subtitles.

Korean Animated Film ‘A Dog’s Courage’ Coming to Disc Aug. 18 From Well Go

The South Korean animated family film A Dog’s Courage will debut on Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 18 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The title is already available on digital.

The film follows Jacob, a feisty and playful dog abandoned by his owners. He joins a pack of strays that embarks on a journey filled with adventures and life lessons in their pursuit to find a new and loving home, finding the perfect place of safety and peace, the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

The film is available in both the original Korean and an all-new English dub.

Directed by Chun-Baek Lee and Oh Sung-Yoon (Leafie, a Hen Into the Wild), A Dog’s Courage was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the 2019 Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

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Uplifting Films ‘Supa Modo’ and ‘Don’t Be Nice’ Available on DVD From MVD and Juno

Two uplifting films, the drama Supa Modo and the documentary Don’t Be Nice, are available on DVD from MVD Entertainment Group and Juno Films.

From first-time feature filmmaker Likarion Wainaina comes the Kenyan drama Supa Modo, about Jo, a witty 9-year old terminally ill girl who is taken back to her rural village to live out the rest of her short life after being diagnosed with cancer. Her only comfort during dull times are her dreams of being a superhero, which prove to be something her rebellious teenage sister Mwix, overprotective mother Kathryn and the entire village of Maweni think they can fulfill. With the entire village’s support, they decide to make dreams a reality and turn Jo into the superhero they know she is. Newcomer Stycie Waweru delivers a captivating and earnest performance, imbuing her character with a subtle strength that ignites the screen. The 2018 film was Kenya’s Oscar submission.

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In the documentary Don’t Be Nice, the upstart Bowery Slam Poetry Team, made up of five young African-American, Afro-Hispanic and queer poets, prepares for the national championships. Mentored by a demanding coach who pushes them past their personal boundaries to write from a painfully honest place, the poets break down, break through, and compose their best work ever. Will their soul-searching pieces about police violence and the whitewashing of black culture be able to compete against choreographed crowd-pleasers for the title? Lauren Whitehead coaches the Bowery Slam Team with the credo “Don’t Be Nice.” She explains that to “be nice” is to stay on the surface of things, is to perpetuate the status quo, and is, for black people, to be what white culture demands. Her team of poets brave their inner demons and buck societal expectations to write truthful poems, and to ultimately celebrate black joy.

Comedy ‘Zombie for Sale,’ Thriller ‘Black Rainbow’ and Atomic Bomb Drama ‘Hiroshima’ Among Titles Due on Blu-ray in July from Arrow and MVD

The Korean comedy Zombie for Sale, the British thriller Black Rainbow and the Japanese atomic bomb drama Hiroshima are among the titles coming to Blu-ray Disc in July from Arrow Video and MVD Entertainment Group.

In 2019’s Zombie for Sale, due July 7, the illegal human experiments of Korea’s biggest pharmaceutical company go wrong, and one of their “undead” test subjects escapes and ends up in a shabby gas station owned by the Park family — a band of misfits spanning three generations who hustle passers-by to make ends meet. When the family uncovers their undead visitor, he bites the head of their household, who instead of transforming into an undead ghoul becomes revitalised and full of life. The family then hatches a plan to exploit this unexpected fountain of youth, allowing locals to pay to be bitten, too, until things go wrong. Extras include an audio commentary with filmmakers and critics Sam Ashurst and Dan Martin; a Q&A with director Lee Min-jae from a 2019 screening at Asian Pop-Up Cinema in Chicago, moderated by film critic and author Darcy Paquet; “Eat Together, Kill Together: The Family-in-Peril Comedy,” a video essay by critic and producer Pierce Conran exploring Korea’s unique social satires; a making-of featurette; behind-the-scenes footage; the trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Mike Lee-Graham; and for the first pressing only, a collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Josh Hurtado.

Also coming July 7 is the British thriller Black Rainbow (1989). Mike Hodges (Flash Gordon, Get Carter) wrote and directed this supernatural chiller as a meditation on the human race’s ability to destroy the world, a gothic tale of suspense and the occult. Martha Travis (Rosanna Arquette, Pulp Fiction, Crash) is a travelling clairvoyant on the road with her sceptic father (Jason Robards, Once Upon a Time in the West, Magnolia). During a séance, Martha communicates a message from a dead man to his wife in the audience. Shocked the wife insists her husband is still alive. Later that evening the husband is killed by a ruthless assassin. As Martha foresees more and more tragic events journalist Gary Wallace (Tom Hulce, Amadeus, Animal House) follows the pair in pursuit of a hot story with catastrophically eerie results. Sent direct to cable by its struggling distributor on initial release, Black Rainbow never got wide exposure. It is newly restored from the original negative. Extras include new audio commentary by film historians Kat Ellinger and Samm Deighan; archival audio commentary by Hodges; an archival making-of documentary; several archival featurettes; the trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh; and for the first pressing only, a booklet featuring new writing on the film by author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Hodges and more, illustrated with stills.

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Also on tap July 7 is 1969’s Inferno of Torture. Japanese exploitation legend Teruo Ishii (Horrors of Malformed Men, Orgies of Edo) delivers one of his most extreme visions of violent eroticism in the sixth in his abnormal love series, in which tattoos and torture await women forced into servitude. Unable to repay a local lender, Yumi (Yumika Katayama) takes up an offer to serve as a geisha for two years with a promise of freedom once her debt is repaid. She quickly realizes that this is less a house of geishas than an extremely cruel brothel specializing in supplying Western visitors with tattooed playthings. Extras include audio commentary by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes; “Erotic Grotesque Nonsense & the Foundations of Japan’s Cult Counterculture,” a condensed version of Jasper Sharp’s Miskatonic Institute lecture; the trailer; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Jacob Phillips; and for the first pressing only, a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Chris D.

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Due July 14 is Hiroshima (1953), about the devastation wrought by the world’s first deployment of the atomic bomb and its aftermath, based on the written eye-witness accounts of its child survivors compiled by Dr. Arata Osada for the 1951 book Children of the A Bomb: Testament of the Boys and Girls of Hiroshima. Adapted for the screen by independent director Hideo Sekigawa (Listen to the Voices of the Sea, Tokyo Untouchable) and screenwriter Yasutaro Yagi (Theatre of Life, Rice), Hiroshima combines a harrowing documentary realism with human drama in a tale of the suffering, endurance and survival of a group of teachers, their students and their families. It boasts a score composed by Akira Ifukube (Godzilla) and stars Yumeji Tsukioka (Late Spring, The Eternal Breasts), Isuzu Yamada (Throne of Blood, Yojimbo) and Eiji Okada (Hiroshima Mon Amour, Woman in the Dunes), appearing alongside an estimated 90,000 residents from the city as extras, including many survivors from that fateful day on Aug. 6, 1945. Hiroshima was produced and distributed outside of the studio system by the Japan Teachers’ Union following the mixed critical reception to Children of Hiroshima (1952), directed by Kaneto Shindo the previous year, the first dramatic feature to deal directly with the atomic bombing. Although sequences from the film were used in Alain Resnais’ classic of French New Wave cinema, Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959), it has been effectively out of circulation in Japan and the rest of the world since its original release due to the force and political sensitivity of its message. This new HD presentation is the complete version, restoring the footage from the international edit that was released in the United States in 1955. Extras include an archive interview with actress Yumeji Tsukioka; Hiroshima Nagasaki Download (2011), a 73-minute documentary featuring interviews with survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings now residing in the United States, with an introduction by the director Shinpei Takeda; a new video essay by Jasper Sharp; newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow; and for the first pressing only, a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mick Broderick.

Coming July 21 are two films from 1988, Bloodstone and Life Is a Long Quiet River.

In Bloodstone, a man of action and a cab driver pair up to save a young girl from the clutches of an evil criminal magnate. The Bloodstone, a priceless stolen ruby, accidentally ends up in the possession of American newlyweds Sandy (Brett Stimely, Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death) and Stephanie (Anna Nicholas, “Remington Steele”). Now, their honeymoon in India is interrupted as they become the target of international fence Van Hoeven (Christopher Neame, The Prestige) and his evil henchmen. When Van Hoeven kidnaps Stephanie and ransoms her for the jewel, Sandy joins forces with the cabby and dormant stunt-driver Shyam Sabu (Rajinikanth, 2.0) to rescue his young bride. Co-written and produced by Nico Mastorakis (Island of Death, The Wind), the film features a performance by legendary Tamil megastar Rajinikanth in his first English-language role. Extras include new audio commentary by Bryan Reesman; “Keeping it to Myself,” a new interview with producer and co-writer Nico Mastorakis; a new video essay on Rajinikanth by Indian cinema expert Josh Hurtado; trailers; an image gallery; the original screenplay; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys; and for the first pressing only, an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mark Cunliffe.

Life Is a Long Quiet River is a fast-paced French satire. The radiantly bourgeois Le Quesnoys, with their immaculate children and perfect manners, and the grubby, disreputable Groseilles are thrown together in absurd chaos by an act of revenge as they discover that 12 years prior their babies were switched at birth. A witty send up of class relations and family ties, Life Is a Long Quiet River was celebrated with a host of trophies at France’s César Awards ceremony, winning best screenplay, best debut work and acting prizes for Héléne Vincent and Catherine Jacob. Extras include archival interviews with director Étienne Chatiliez, actor André Wilms, co-writer/co-producer Florence Quentin and producer Charles Gassot; a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow; and for the first pressing only, a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Jonathan Romney.

Korean Film ‘House of Hummingbird’ Flying to Digital and Blu-ray Aug. 4 From Well Go

The Korean coming-of-age story House of Hummingbird will debut on digital and Blu-ray Aug. 4 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Ignored by her parents and abused by her brother, 14-year-old Eun-hee moves through life like a hummingbird searching for a taste of sweetness wherever she may find it. In a rapidly expanding Seoul in 1994, she roams the neighborhood with her best friend, attempts romantic relationships with both girls and boys alike and is sent to the hospital with an unclear diagnosis. When a new teacher arrives, she becomes the first adult the young girl feels really understands her.

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Bora Kim makes her feature film directing debut in this acclaimed film that stars Ji-hu Park (The Witness), Sae-byuk Kim (The Day After), Seung-Yeon Lee (Alive) and In-gi Jeong (Chaser).

The film won Best Feature Film at the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival and the 2019 Seattle International Film Festival. The Korean Association of Film Critics’ Awards named it one of the Ten Best Films of the Year and it won the awards for Best Actress (Park), Best Cinematography (Guk-hyun Kang) and Best International Narrative Feature at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.  In addition, director Bora Kim has won numerous Best Director awards, including from the 2019 Athens International Film Festival, the 2020 Asian Film Critics Association Awards and the 2019 Korean Association of Film Critics’ Awards.

Japanese Action Film ‘Samurai Marathon’ Due on Disc July 21 From Well Go

The Japanese actioner Samurai Marathon will come out on  Blu-ray and DVD July 21 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

The title is available now digitally.

Inspired by a race still held yearly, the film follows an aging lord in late feudal Japan who challenges his samurai to a grueling marathon — joined covertly by his daughter. The group must overcome deadly odds to survive. Meanwhile, a young ninja operates undercover in the court of the lord and finds his loyalties put to the test.

Director Bernard Rose (Candy Man, Anna Karenina) co-wrote the screenplay with Japan’s Hiroshi Saito and Kikumi Yamagishi based on the novel The Marathon Samurai: Five Tales of Japan’s First Marathon.

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The film is produced by Academy Award winners Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor) and Toshiaki Nakazawa (Departures) and features an original score composed by Philip Glass (The Truman Show), costume designs by Oscar winner Emi Wada (Ran) and cinematography by Takuro Ishizaka (John Woo’s Manhunt).

Japanese Action-Adventure ‘Samurai Marathon’ Due on Digital May 12, Disc July 21 From Well Go

The Japanese actioner Samurai Marathon will come out on digital May 12 and Blu-ray and DVD July 21 from Well Go USA Entertainment.

Director Bernard Rose (Candy Man, Anna Karenina) co-wrote the screenplay with Japan’s Hiroshi Saito and Kikumi Yamagishi based on the novel The Marathon Samurai: Five Tales of Japan’s First Marathon.

Inspired by a race still held yearly, the film follows an aging lord in late feudal Japan who challenges his samurai to a grueling marathon — joined covertly by his daughter. The group must overcome deadly odds to survive. Meanwhile, a young ninja operates undercover in the court of the lord and finds his loyalties put to the test.

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Samurai Marathon stars Takeru Satoh (Rurouni Kenshin: Final Chapter), Nana Komatsu (The World of KanakoSilence), Mirai Moriyama (RageVision), Shota Sometani (First Love) and Danny Huston (X-Men Wolverine, TV’s “Yellowstone”). 

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Produced by Academy Award winners Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor) and Toshiaki Nakazawa (Departures), the film includes an original score composed by Philip Glass (The Truman Show), costume designs by Oscar winner Emi Wada (Ran) and cinematography by Takuro Ishizaka (John Woo’s Manhunt).