Bringing you ONLINE VIEWINGS of newly released and re-released theatrical and documentary films.
Acoustic Java is proud to present a new generation of independent films as part of our new Virtual Cinema.
Independent films educate and entertain. Independent films stand up for the vulnerable, the marginalized, the outsiders, the rebels, the dreamers, the poets, the imaginative. Independent film exposes the evils of the world and offers solutions. Independent film changes people’s lives. Forever.
The movies below benefit the filmmakers and your favorite coffee shop. Thank you!
OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE
A month after receiving a fatal diagnosis in January 2015, Oliver Sacks sat down for a series of filmed interviews in his apartment in New York City. For eighty hours, surrounded by family, friends, and notebooks from six decades of thinking and writing about the brain, he talked about his life and work, his abiding sense of wonder at the natural world, and the place of human beings within it. Drawing on these deeply personal reflections, as well as nearly two dozen interviews with close friends, family members, colleagues and patients, and archival material from every point in his life, this film is the story of a beloved doctor and writer who redefined our understanding of the brain and mind.
M.C. ESCHER: JOURNEY TO INFINITY
M.C. Escher: Journey To Infinity is the story of world famous Dutch graphic artist M.C Escher (1898-1972). Equal parts history, psychology, and psychedelia, Robin Lutz’s entertaining, eye-opening portrait gives us the man through his own words and images: diary musings, excerpts from lectures, correspondence and more are voiced by British actor Stephen Fry, while Escher’s woodcuts, lithographs, and other print works appear in both original and playfully altered form. Two of his sons, George (92) and Jan (80), reminisce about their parents while musician Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills & Nash) talks about Escher’s rediscovery in the 1970s. The film looks at Escher’s legacy: one can see tributes to his work in movies, in fiction, on posters, on tattoos, and elsewhere throughout our culture; indeed, few fine artists of the 20th century can lay claim to such popular appeal.
“A cinematic gift, an intellectual challenge, an emotional adventure”
– New York Times, Critic’s Pick
A complex portrait of a city and its inhabitants, THE HOTTEST AUGUST gives us a window into the collective consciousness of the present. The film’s point of departure is one city over one month: New York City, including its outer boroughs, during August 2017. It’s a month heavy with the tension of a new President, growing anxiety over everything from rising rents to marching white nationalists, and unrelenting news of either wildfires or hurricanes on every coast. The film pivots on the question of futurity: what does the future look like from where we are standing? And what if we are not all standing in the same place? THE HOTTEST AUGUST offers a mirror onto a society on the verge of catastrophe, registering the anxieties, distractions, and survival strategies that preoccupy ordinary lives.
After nearly a decade exploring different facets of the African diaspora — and his own place within it — Ephraim Asili makes his feature-length debut with The Inheritance, an astonishing ensemble work set almost entirely within a West Philadelphia house where a community of young, Black artists and activists form a collective. A scripted drama of characters attempting to work towards political consensus — based partly on Asili’s own experiences in a Black liberationist group — weaves with a documentary recollection of the Philadelphia liberation group MOVE, the victim of a notorious police bombing in 1985. Ceaselessly finding commonalties between politics, humor, and philosophy, with Black authors and radicals at its edges, The Inheritance is a remarkable film about the world as we know it.
One of the most revolutionary and influential fashion designers of his time, Martin Margiela has remained an elusive figure the entirety of his decades-long career. From Jean Paul Gaultier's assistant to creative director at Hermès to leading his own House, Margiela never showed his face publicly and avoided interviews, but reinvented fashion with his radical style through forty-one provocative collections. Now, for the first time, the "Banksy of fashion" reveals his drawings, notes, and personal items in this exclusive, intimate profile of his vision.
The film features interviews with, among others, Margiela himself, Jean Paul Gaultier, Carine Roitfeld, trend forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort, fashion critic Cathy Horyn, and fashion historian Olivier Saillard. The score has been composed by the Belgian rock band dEUS.
Sundog lives out in the Sonora Desert on the Mexican border. He is an elderly gentleman, who lives off anything that the brutal nature gives him, be it a wild boar or the psychedelic poison of a toad. A Shape of Things to Come puts precedence on the sensory materiality of the desert instead over explanations and dialogue, and moves beyond the human scale and down to animal perspectives. It creates a world that stretches from a distant past in the ecological movements of the 1960s to a possible future in the aftermath of the apocalypse. But the border patrol agents are threatening the peace in Sundog’s desert kingdom, which the armed recluse is prepared to defend. With the desert as the ultimate existential (and cinematic) setting, the film shows the relationship between humanity and nature at a critical time, when civil disobedience is the provocative answer to the most pressing questions.
DRIVEN TO ABSTRACTION unravels a mutating tale of self-delusion, greed, and fraud — the $80 million forgery scandal that rocked the art world and brought down Knoedler, New York City’s oldest and most venerable gallery. Was the gallery’s esteemed director the victim of a con artist who showed up with an endless treasure trove of previously unseen abstract expressionist masterpieces? Or did she eventually suspect they were fakes, yet continue to sell them for millions of dollars for fifteen years? Whatever the truth, two women from very different worlds crossed paths in what would become the greatest hoax ever of Modern American Art.
In 2001, the band System Of A Down partnered with music producer Rick Rubin to record their sophomore album. Against all odds, and during one of the most painful and precarious months in American history, the album Toxicity skyrocketed up the Billboard chart and catapulted to Number One. But just as System Of A Down achieved their commercial triumph, in a post-9/11 world their politically-charged lyrics were suddenly the subject of scrutiny; they were thrust into headlines, and their songs were pulled off the radio. The film follows Tankian down an unexpected path as his passion for human rights and activism led him to become a social justice organizer in Armenia. Fueled by interviews with the band, their producers, and fellow rock icons, Truth To Power is both an energizing rockumentary and an inspiring call to action for our turbulent times.
"Affecting in its portrayal of the in-limbo phase of a young person’s life [...] The uncertainty of youth, the black-and-white cinematography of the city, and the use of classical music may call to mind Frances Ha (2012), though the cultural concerns are miles apart."
— Kristen Yoonsoo Kim, Artforum
After failing his university entrance exams for the third year in a row, Min Suk, a directionless twenty-something Korean man, travels to New York to visit his long-distance girlfriend Yeon Jae. Over the course of a rollercoaster week, he experiences both the thrill of losing himself in a new city and the bitter realization that his relationship is gradually imploding. A romantic, outsider’s view of New York shot in elegiac black and white, Sunrise/Sunset perfectly captures the wonder and disorientation that comes with being a stranger adrift in a strange land.
"ATLANTIS is stunning to watch. Sensitively observed and meticulously crafted. A remarkable piece of filmmaking from an exciting emerging Eastern European voice." — Nikki Baughan, Screen Slate
"A strong piece of poetically pure art-house cinema that offers a ray of hope for humanity’s future." — Dennis Harvey, Variety
A prize-winner at the Venice Film Festival and Ukraine’s official submission for the 93rd Academy Awards, ATLANTIS is a gorgeous and visionary sci-fi drama. In 2025, Eastern Ukraine is a desert unsuitable for human habitation, water a dear commodity brought by trucks. A wall is being built on the border. Sergiy, a former soldier having trouble adapting to his new reality, meets Katya while she’s on a humanitarian mission dedicated to exhuming the past. Together, they try to return to some sort of normal life in which they are also allowed to fall in love again.
Something as simple as a herring roasting on a hearth, or a meal of bread, wine and winter melon, takes on the humble aura of a Caravaggio painting in this masterful film. That is to say, Straub-Huillet extol ordinary Sicilians who are poor of means but rich in spirit. Filmed in Syracuse and Messina, SICILIA! is a tragicomedy involving an orange peddler, an Italian recently returned from America, two “stinky” police officers, a guilt-stricken landowner, a traveling knife sharpener and, perhaps most unforgettably, an indomitable peasant mother who reminisces about meals of snails and wild chicory, her husband’s philandering and cowardice, and her own father’s belief in an honest day’s labor, socialism, and St. Joseph
A sinister, absorbing portrait of a mutually destructive love affair, Manoel de Oliveira’s FRANCISCA is based on a novel by Agustina Bessa-Luís, whose work he’d later adapt twice more. The book’s re-telling of a troubled passage in real-life author Camilo Castelo Branco life—his friend José Augusto embarked on a perverse game of marital cat and mouse with Francisca, the woman the novelist loved—led Oliveira to new levels of stylistic and formal imagination. (It helped that his wife, a distant relative of the historical Francisca, gave him access to a cache of the woman’s letters.) With its elaborate title cards, its abundance of shots in which the action is oriented directly toward the camera, its gloomy interiors, and its show-stopping gala set-pieces, FRANCISCA is an exacting, sumptuous, utterly inimitable cinematic experience, and one of Oliveira’s crowning achievements.
Winner of major prizes at the Berlin and Turin film festivals, the hauntingly beautiful debut feature from Pietro Marcello (Lost and Beautiful, Martin Eden) interweaves two love stories: the 20-year romance between a Sicilian tough guy and a transsexual former junkie whom he met in prison, and a poetic reverie of the Italian port town of Genoa, depicted in all its mysterious, fading glory. Commissioned by the Fondazione San Marcellino, a Jesuit order dedicated to helping society’s poor and marginalized, The Mouth of the Wolf masterfully combines documentary with fiction and melancholy home movies from the past century with poetic images, sounds, and music of the waterfront today.
Manny Kirchheimer is one of the great masters of the American city symphony, as is clear from films like STATIONS OF THE ELEVATED and DREAM OF A CITY. In his latest work, the 88-year-old Kirchheimer has meticulously restored and constructed 16mm black- and-white footage that he and Walter Hess shot in New York between 1958 and 1960. This lustrous evocation of a different rhythm of life captures the in-between moments—kids playing stickball, window washers, folks reading newspapers on their stoops—and the architectural beauty of urban spaces, set to the stirring sounds of Ravel, Bach, Eisler, and Count Basie. The breathtaking footage was shot in several distinct New York neighborhoods, including Washington Heights, the Upper West Side, and Hell’s Kitchen, and features impressionistic stops throughout the city, making time for an auto junkyard in Inwood, a cemetery in Queens, and the elegant buildings of the financial district.
Nineteen-year-old Julio heads to Lisbon from the provinces and gets a job as a shoemaker for his uncle Raul. But when he meets Ilda, a confident young housemaid who becomes a regular shop visitor, his working-class values collide with the bourgeois trappings of modern life. Never before released in the U.S., Rocha’s debut, gloriously shot in black-and-white, is an extraordinary and haunting coming-of-age film. Winner of Best First Film at the 1964 Locarno Film Festival.
New digital restoration by Pedro Costa.
Paulo Rocha’s haunting second feature, Change of Life, tells the beautiful and deeply felt story of a young man, a veteran from the war in Angola, who returns home to his remote fishing village to discover that his former sweetheart is now married to his brother. Inspired by his work with Manoel de Oliveira, Rocha “cast” the local villagers as themselves, interspersed with experienced actors led by the great Isabel Ruth who would go on to become an Oliveira regular and an iconic presence in Pedro Costa’s Ossos. The poetry of the local vernacular is captured in the textured dialogue written by fellow Portuguese filmmaker Antonio Reis, who met Rocha through Oliveira. The film was a critical and commercial success upon release, though it would effectively be the last film Rocha made for nearly two decades.
New Digital Restoration by Pedro Costa (watch the teaser below directed by Costa).
"One of the boldest artistic statements of year"-Scott Macaulay, Filmmaker Magazine
“'Tito' is an instant classic of acting."-Richard Brody, The New Yorker
"Visionary."-Eric Kohn, IndieWire
Tito is trapped. With long black hair, greasy sideburns, and an emergency whistle dangling from his neck, he is so stricken with fear that he's developed a hunch in his back. Any attempt to venture into the outside world is met with the threat of elusive predators who hunt him relentlessly. Starved for food and security, Tito's terrorized existence threatens to overwhelm him - until the sudden arrival of a cheerful intruder, offering breakfast and protection...
Tito is a vision of predation, friendship, and fear, told through a wildly inventive and expressive new lens.
"The filmmakers do yeoman’s work stitching together a brisk-moving narrative from what was surely a glut of footage – one might question certain inclusions, like the long shot Hoon took of himself peeing, but then again unexpected nudity was an undeniable part of the Shannon Hoon experience – and it certainly helps that Hoon makes for consistently engaging company. " -David Fear, Variety
Shannon Hoon, lead singer of the rock band Blind Melon, filmed himself religiously from 1990- 1995 with a video camera, recording up until a few hours before his sudden death at the age of twenty-eight. His camera was a diary and his closest confidant. In the hundreds of hours of footage, Hoon meticulously documented his life—his family, his creative process, his television, his band’s rise to fame, and his struggle with addiction. He filmed his daughter’s birth, and archived the politics and culture of the 90s, an era right before the internet changed the world. Created solely with his own footage, voice, and music, this rare autobiography is a prescient exploration of experience and memory in the age of video. It is also Hoon’s last work, completed twenty-three years after his death.