Now in Virtual Cinema – September 2020

By Barbara Twist

It is impossible to write about movies without first acknowledging the immense loss we suffered this past Friday, August 28. Chadwick Boseman was an inspired, and inspiring, actor and producer. I didn’t know him, yet through his Jackie, his T’Challa, his James, I came to know the hope that shone through him and his many characters on-screen. It’s particularly painful to lose someone who carried so much hope and joy in their work; even more so, to know he battled cancer these past four years. It will be a bittersweet screening, then, to watch his final film, MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, set to come out later this year on Netflix. 

In the second edition of this monthly roundup, I gathered as many virtual cinema releases as I could find and as distributors would share. New to this roundup is the addition of a Holdover category for any titles released prior to September that are still playing in virtual cinemas. 

Coming off a weekend with multiple films playing in cinemas across the country, it’s important to remember that only 62% of all theaters are open with capacities less than 50%. While I strongly believe traditional moviegoing will be part of our future, it is critical that we support films and filmmakers now through virtual cinema. To that end, a cohort of independent theaters have come together to create @homeArts, a platform designed for virtual cinema by movie theaters. With eleven exhibitors on board already, I am very interested and hopeful to see how it evolves. 

This month sees the release of 2019 SXSW Audience Award winner THE GARDEN LEFT BEHIND, the 4K Restoration & re-release of Claire Denis’ BEAU TRAVAIL alongside the director’s preferred cut of the Cannes award-winning 1998 film, THE HOLE, by Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang. Other films include award-winning MR SOUL! (Tribeca, Urbanworld), award-winning OUR TIME MACHINE (Tribeca, IDFA, CAAMFest), OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE (Telluride, NYFF), SIBYL (Cannes, NYFF), and award-winning GHOST TROPIC (Directors Fortnight, Cairo IFF).

If your film is being released on Virtual Cinema in September but is not on the list, it wasn’t by deliberate omission, I just didn’t get the information. Email the film’s details to to be added. 

Please share this list to amplify these films and to encourage the indie film community to embrace this transformation into the future.   

MR. SOUL! Ellis Haizlip, center, surrounded by members of the J.C. White Singers after a performance on the pioneering culture program “Soul!” Credit: Alex Harsley

Release Date: 8/28/20
Distributor: Distrib Films US
As a juror at Jacques Viguier’s trial, Nora is convinced that he did not kill his wife. This intuition quickly becomes an obsession. She persuades the most famous lawyer in the country to defend him. Together they start a compulsive fight to prove his innocence against all odds. That quest has a price they might not be ready to pay.
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: CONVICTION – Official US trailer

Release Date: 8/28/20
Distributor: Kino Lorber
Epicentro is an immersive and metaphorical portrait of post-colonial, “utopian” Cuba, where the 1898 explosion of the U.S.S. Maine still resonates. This Big Bang ended Spanish colonial dominance in the Americas and ushered in the era of the American Empire. At the same time and place, a powerful tool of conquest was born: cinema as propaganda. In his latest film, Academy Award nominee Hubert Sauper (Darwin’s Nightmare) explores a century of interventionism and myth-making together with the extraordinary people of Havana—who he calls “young prophets”—to interrogate time, imperialism and cinema itself.
Find participating theaters here. 
Trailer: Epicentro – Official Trailer

Release Date: 8/28/20
Distributor: The Cinema Guild
Khadija (Saadia Bentaïeb) is a fifty-eight-year-old Maghrebi cleaning woman living in Brussels in the wake of the 2016 bombings that shook the city. After work one night, she falls asleep on the last subway train, wakes up at the end of the line and has no choice but to make her way home—all the way across the city—on foot. Along the way, she has a series of encounters: with a security guard, a convenience store clerk, a group of teenagers. She asks for help and she gives it and slowly, steadily makes her way. 
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: Ghost Tropic (official trailer)

Release Date: 8/28/20
Distributor: Filmmakers
A rare peek into the mind of a genius, an authorized feature documentary chronicling the life and design of Pierre Cardin. A true original, Mr. Cardin has granted the directors exclusive access to his archives and his empire, and unprecedented interviews at the sunset of a glorious career.
Find participating theaters here. 
Trailer: House of Cardin | Official Trailer

Release Date: 8/28/20
Distributor: Filmmakers
The Garden Left Behind tells the story of Tina (Carlie Guevara in a breakthrough performance), a young Mexican trans woman who lives with her grandmother Eliana (Miriam Cruz) in New York City as she navigates her transition and the pair struggle to build a life for themselves as undocumented immigrants. As Tina begins the process of transitioning, Eliana struggles to understand Tina and fears that their life together in America is no longer what they bargained for. 
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: THE GARDEN LEFT BEHIND – Official Trailer

Release Date: 8/28/20
Distributor: Big World Pictures
Set just prior to the start of the 21st century, this vaguely futuristic story follows two residents of a quickly crumbling building who refuse to leave their homes in spite of a virus that has forced the evacuation of the area. As rain pours down relentlessly, a single man is stuck with an unfinished plumbing job and a hole in his floor. This results in a very odd relationship with the woman who lives below him. Combining deadpan humor with an austere view of loneliness and a couple of unexpected musical numbers, Tsai Ming-Liang crafted one of the most original films of the 1990s. Produced for French television’s 2000 Seen by… series, this was originally broadcast in a 69- minute version called Last Dance. This longer version is the director’s preferred cut.
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: THE HOLE (dir. Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwan/France) – Official US trailer

Release Date: 8/28/20
Distributor: Frameline
The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American reservation in the United States. Every four years, the Navajo tribe elects its president, whom many consider the most powerful Native American in the country. The film centers on Moroni Benally, an underdog candidate with radical ideas, whose homespun campaign originated out of his frustration with the lack of progress in the reservation where he grew up. The witty academic embarks on a grueling, lonely campaign, discovering soon enough that theory does not necessarily prepare you for the daily dirt of politics.
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: Moroni For President – Movie Trailers – iTunes

Release Date: 8/28/20
Distributor: Filmmakers
From 1968 to 1973, the public television variety show SOUL!, guided by the enigmatic producer and host Ellis Haizlip, offered an unfiltered, uncompromising celebration of Black literature, poetry, music, and politics—voices that had few other options for national exposure, and, as a result, found the program an improbable place to call home. The series was among the first to provide expanded images of African Americans on television, shifting the gaze from inner-city poverty and violence to the vibrancy of the Black Arts Movement. With participants’ recollections and a bevy of great archival clips, MR. SOUL! captures a critical moment in culture whose impact continues to resonate.
Find participating theaters here. 
Trailer: Mr. SOUL! Trailer on Vimeo

Release Date: 8/28/20
Distributor: Filmmakers
Vinyl Nation digs into the crates of the record resurgence in search of truths set in deep wax: Has the return of vinyl made music fandom more inclusive or divided? What does vinyl say about our past here in the present? How has the second life of vinyl changed how we hear music and how we listen to each other?
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: Vinyl Nation – Official Trailer on Vimeo

Release Date: 9/4/20
Distributor: Janus Films
With her ravishingly sensual take on Herman Melville’s Billy Budd, Sailor, Claire Denis firmly established herself as one of the great visual tone poets of our time. Amid the azure waters and sunbaked desert landscapes of Djibouti, a French Foreign Legion sergeant (Denis Lavant) sows the seeds of his own ruin as his obsession with a striking young recruit (Grégoire Colin) plays out to the thunderous, operatic strains of Benjamin Britten.
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: BEAU TRAVAIL – Official Trailer

Release Date: 9/9/20
Distributor: Cardinal Releasing
In this highly anticipated, OFFICIAL Fully Authorized feature documentary , the absolute instigator of Rock and Roll, CHUCK BERRY is truly revealed, with exclusive access, including first ever , contributions from Mrs. Berry and the Berry family.
Find participating theaters here. 
Trailer: CHUCK BERRY – Official Trailer

Release Date: 9/9/20
Distributor: Gathr Films
In 1968, with the eyes of the world upon them, The Beatles traveled to Rishikesh, India, to study transcendental meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It was a turning point for music and for Western culture, as everything for them had changed by the time they left.
Find participating theaters and trailer here.

Release Date: 9/11/20
Distributor: Kino Lorber
This story of a Cambodian teenager sold into forced labor on a Thai fishing boat is a passionate testimony against social injustice and a moving coming-of-age tale about a boy whose humanity is put to the test. 
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: BUOYANCY – Official Trailer

Release Date: 9/11/20
Distributor: Music Box Films
A sly, sultry character study from filmmaker Justine Triet, SIBYL follows a psychotherapist (Virginie Efira, Elle) who decides to quit her practice and return to writing instead. As Sibyl starts dropping patients, she begins to struggle with excess time and a lack of inspiration–until she gets a call from Margot (Adèle Exarchopoulos, Blue is the Warmest Color), a young actress wrapped up in a dramatic affair with her costar, Igor (Gaspard Ulliel), who happens to be married to the film’s director (Sandra Hüller, Toni Erdmann). Becoming further enmeshed in Margot’s life, Sibyl starts to blur past and present, fiction with reality, and the personal with the professional as she begins to use Margot’s life as source material for her novel.
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: SIBYL – Official U.S. Trailer

Release Date: 9/11/20
Distributor: Icarus Films
Laika, a stray dog, was the first living being sent into space. Laika’s ghost lives on in her descendants, living on the streets of Moscow today. Photographed at ground level with wandering, hypnotic camera movements, the strays are seen navigating the urban environs of modern Moscow. In hewing closely to the dog’s point of view, the city is rendered as a strange, alien environment. With stunning cinematography and meditative pacing that recalls the work of Andrei Tarkovsky, SPACE DOGS is a singular work that de-centers humans in order to uncover a forgotten history.
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: SPACE DOGS – Official Trailer

Release Date: 9/11/20
Distributor: Filmmakers
Shaken by the news of his father’s dementia, artist Maleonn creates “Papa’s Time Machine,” a wondrous time-travel adventure performed on stage with life-size mechanical puppets. Through the play’s production, he confronts his own mortality. Maleonn finds grace and unexpected joy in this moving meditation on art, the agonies of love and loss, and the circle of life. 
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: Our Time Machine (Trailer)

Release Date: 9/17/20
Distributor: Filmmakers
An exploration of what public education meant to South Bronx latino maverick educator Pedro Santana and what he, in turn, meant to public education.
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: My Name Is Pedro

Release Date: 9/18/20
Distributor: Magnet Releasing
Jules Willcox (Netflix’s Bloodline) stars in ALONE as Jessica, a grief-stricken widow who flees the city in an attempt to cope with the loss of her husband. When Jessica is kidnapped by a mysterious man and locked in a cabin in the Pacific Northwest, she escapes into the wilderness and is pursued by her captor. The key cast includes Marc Menchaca (Ozark,The Outsider) and Anthony Heald (The Silence of the Lambs).
Find participating theaters here. 
Trailer: Alone – Official Trailer

Release Date: 9/18/20
Distributor: Film Movement
Anat (Naama Preis, winner of the Jerusalem Film Festival award for Best Actress) has never been able to reach her father’s exacting musical standards, and now her family’s hope of producing a musical prodigy rests on her unborn son. When the baby is born deaf, she cannot accept it and resorts to extreme measures to ensure that her child will be the composer that her father always wanted. But when the boy grows up indifferent to his destiny as a great pianist, Anat will have to stand up to her father – and her own actions.
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: GOD OF THE PIANO – Official Trailer

Release Date: 9/18/20
Distributor: Gathr Films
Home to the nation’s largest Latino immigrant population, East Los Angeles sits squarely in the crossfire of debate about American identity. Yet every November, this community comes together for a distinctly American event, drawing 25,000 proud locals to one of the country’s fiercest high school football rivalry games: The East LA Classic. THE ALL-AMERICANS follows four students seeking glory on the field, while grappling with personal obstacles and striving to make sense of their community’s place in today’s America.
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: The All-Americans – Official Trailer on Vimeo

Release Date: 9/23/20
Distributor: Zeitgeist Films in association with Kino Lorber
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.
Find participating theaters here.

Release Date: 9/25/20
Distributor: Filmmakers
Marbles, a hapless stoner, can see ghosts. Tagg, a recently dead wannabe super-cop, needs to find a serial killer. Can a critical ghost cop and a directionless stoner get over their prejudices and work together to save lives… and deaths?
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: DEAD – Official Trailer

Release Date: 9/25/20
Distributor: Strand Releasing
Claire (Lena Olin) lives a quiet domestic life in the Hamptons as the wife of celebrated artist Richard Smythson (Bruce Dern). Once a promising painter herself, Claire now lives in the shadow of her husband’s illustrious career. While preparing work for his final show, Richard’s moods become increasingly erratic, and he is diagnosed with dementia. As his memory and behavior deteriorate, she shields his condition from the art community while trying to reconnect him with his estranged daughter and grandson from a previous marriage. Challenged by the loss of her world as she knew it, Claire must now decide whether to stand with Richard on the sidelines or step into the spotlight herself. Directed by Tom Dolby. 
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: The Artist’s Wife – Official Trailer HD

Release Date: 9/25/20
Distributor: Area 23a Films and Iambic Dreams Films
WE ARE MANY is the never-before-told story of the largest demonstration in human history, and how the movement created by a small band of activists changed the world. This fearless, thought-provoking documentary is the remarkable inside story behind the first ever global demonstration, and its surprising and unreported legacy. Directed by: Amir Amirani. Featuring: Noam Chomsky, Ron Kovic, Medea Benjamin, Bill Fletcher Jr., Mark Rylance, John le Carré, Dr. Hans Blix, Lindsey German and Jesse Jackson, Danny Glover, Ken Loach and Brian Eno 
Find participating theaters here.
Trailer: WE ARE MANY – Official Trailer


ArtMattan Films
MADE IN BANGLADESH | Find tickets here

Drafthouse on Demand
CORONATION | Find tickets here

Film Movement
A GIRL MISSING | Find tickets here
SONG WITHOUT A NAME (Canción sin nombre) | Find tickets here

Greenwich Entertainment
DESERT ONE | Find tickets here

Kino Lorber
BURNING GHOST | Find tickets here
JAZZ ON A SUMMER’S DAY | Find tickets here
LUCKY GRANDMA | Find tickets here
THE BARE NECESSITY | Find tickets here 
THE GREY FOX | Find tickets here 
THE TOBACCONIST | Find tickets here
TOMMASO | Find tickets here
WONDERS IN THE SUBURBS | Find tickets here

Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Releasing
AMULET | Find tickets here
THE FIGHT | Find tickets here
JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE | Find tickets here
OUT STEALING HORSES | Find tickets here

Music Box Films
REPRESENT | Find tickets here

National Geographic Films & Abramorama
REBUILDING PARADISE | Find tickets here

Oscilloscope Films

Outsider Pictures
THE AUGUST VIRGIN | Find tickets here

PBS Distribution
A THOUSAND CUTS | Find tickets here

Slamdance & Kino Marquee

Well Go USA
HOUSE OF HUMMINGBIRD | Find tickets here 

Venera Films
AFRICAN VIOLET | Find tickets here

Distributed by Filmmakers
THE 11TH GREEN | Find tickets here
COUP 53 | Find tickets here
River City Drumbeat l Find Tickets Here