‘The Painted Bird’ Flocks To Digital, Gregor Jordan’s ‘Dirt Music’ Debuts – Specialty Streaming Preview

Dino-Ray Ramos
·8 min read

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Vaclav Marhoul’s adaptation of Jerzy Kosinsky’s novel The Painted Bird has been on quite a journey. The film took more than a decade to be made and it premiered at the 2019 Venice Film Festival where it was honored with the Cinema for UNICEF Award before debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival. The pic was also Czech Republic’s international Oscar entry for 2019. Now, the black and white drama starring Stella Skarsgard, Harvey Keitel, Julian Sands and Udo Kier hits VOD today.

Shot on 35mm in CinemaScope, The Painted Bird is set in Eastern Europe towards the end of World War II. The story follows the journey of a character referred to as “The Boy,” who is entrusted by his persecuted parents to an elderly foster mother. When the old woman dies, The Boy ventures off on his own, wandering through the countryside. As he struggles for survival, he suffers extraordinary brutality meted out by ignorant, superstitious peasants and witnesses the terrifying violence of the ruthless soldiers.

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The film from IFC Films gets its name from a moment in the film where The Boy is shown the flight of a painted captive bird that is released to its own flock. The bird is immediately ripped apart because it looks different — which serves as a metaphorical lesson for The Boy: difference is fatal. Throughout his journey, The Boy experiences a roller coaster of emotions including the brutality and ruthlessness of soldiers, compassion, aggression, love, intimacy and ultimately a glimmer of hope at the end of the war.

Watch the trailer below.

Based on the novel of the same name by Tim Winton and adapted by Jack Throne, the Gregor Jordan-directed Dirt Music first bowed at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019. The film, which makes its digital debut today, isn’t your basic, run-of-the-mill romantic drama.

“It’s a very unusual love story,” Jordan told Deadline at TIFF. “It’s set in a very particular part of Australia. It starts in a crayfishing town, and there’s all these small-town politics, and it’s the story of this woman, Georgie Jutland [Kelly MacDonald], who’s pretty adrift and unhappy in her life and looking for some meaning and purpose. She meets this poacher [Garrett Hedlund], who’s this guy who’s had this terrible tragedy in his life, and it’s really about the love story between them. But it’s about how the town really is not too happy about them being together, because she was [in a relationship with] the big lead fisherman guy in the town.”

Georgie has an intense affair with the poacher — whose name is Lu Fox. However, she is unaware of the muddled history between his family and the family of the aforementioned big-time fisherman guy named Jim Buckridge (David Wenham). Fearing Jim’s fury and haunted by his tragic past, Lu flees north to Coronation Island, a place dear to Georgie’s heart. Discovering Lu has fled, Georgie decides to follow him north with the unlikely help of Jim.

Watch the trailer below.

The work of author Flannery O’Connor has inspired the likes of Mary Karr, Tommy Lee Jones, Lucinda Williams, Hilton Als and more. In the new documentary Flannery directed by Elizabeth Coffman and Mark Bosco, S.J. we get to see exactly how her work influenced a generation of artists and activists.

Making its virtual premiere this weekend, the docu, which won the first-ever Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, is narrated by Mary Steenburgen and explores O’Connor’s life. With her Georgia family home at Andalusia as a backdrop, Flannery paints a portrait of the wildly astute literary icon with never-before-seen archived footage, newly discovered personal letters, her own published words and conversations with those inspired by her.

The release of Flannery will also include a four-part virtual discussion series on the film’s Facebook page, featuring aspects of O’Connor’s life and work explored in the docu. “The Modern Consciousness: A ‘Flannery’ Discussion Series” will feature guest moderators, panelists and filmmakers starting on July 20 with a conversation “On Race”. This will be followed by “On Faith” on July 27; “On Disability” on August 3; and will conclude with “On Craft” on August 10.

Netflix releases the docu Father Soldier Son this weekend which takes a cue from Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and follows an Afghanistan war veteran and his family from 2010 to present day.

The film marks the directorial debut of New York Times journalists Catrin Einhorn and Leslye Davis. With an intimate spotlight, we follow a former platoon sergeant and his two young sons after he returns home from a serious combat injury in Afghanistan. The film started as a 2010 project on a battalion’s yearlong deployment but turned into a feature that takes the audience on a decade-long journey of this family as they navigate sacrifice, purpose and American manhood in the aftermath of war. In his review for the feature, Pete Hammond states “This is a film that is unforgettable in so many ways, one that eschews politics for the honest truth of these lives.”

In The Sunlit Light, Jenny Slate plays Frances, an aspiring painter from New York who takes a trip to Norway for an assignment which she hopes will enlighten her work and take her to the next level as an artist, jumpstarting her career. While there, she meets a fellow New Yorker who is there to bury his father with an authentic Viking funeral. As the two connect, Frances looks to a new path to her future.

The David Wnendt-directed film, which was adapted from the novel by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019 and also stars Fridjov Såheim, David Paymer, Alex Sharp, Zach Galifianakis and Gillian Anderson.

On July 20, the critically acclaimed SXSW documentary We Are The Radical Monarchs will stream on all PBS platforms. Directed by Linda Goldstein Knowlton, the film amplifies the message of “the future is female”.

Set in Oakland, the socially-driven We Are The Radical Monarchs follows two trailblazing, queer women of color Anayvette Martinez and Marilyn Hollinquest who created The Radical Monarchs, a more diverse and inclusive alternative to the Girl Scout movement. With bullhorns and protest signs at the ready, the film follows the first Radical Monarchs troop for over three years as the co-founders inspire a new generation of activists as they navigate the landscape of social justice and address topics including LGBTQ allyship, the environment, racism and disability justice.

In the documentary Kaye Ballard – The Show Goes On!, director Dan Wingate spotlights the achievements of “the greatest star you hardly knew.”

The titular subject of the film was well known by many as a talented actress, singer and comedian who did it all: Broadway, radio, television and film. With a career spanning from the 1940s to the 2000s, Kaye Ballard – The Show Goes On! chronicles her storied life with rare archival footage and interviews with her friends and colleagues such as Ann-Margret, Carol Burnett, Harold Prince, Carol Channing, Michael Feinstein, Rex Reed, among others.

Also opening this weekend is Vertical Entertainment’s supernatural World War II horror Ghosts of War directed by Eric Bress and starring Brenton Thwaites, Alan Ritchson, Skylar Astin, Theo Rossi, Kyle Gallner, Billy Zane and Shaun Toub. In Cara Jones feature directorial debut, Blessed Child, the journalist-turned-filmmaker recounts her time as a member of Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church.

Lucy Hale stars alongside Leonidas Gulaptis, Mindy Cohn, Adhir Kalyan, Jackie Cruz in the rom-com A Nice Girl Like You. Directed by Chris Riedell and Nick Riedell, the pic is based on a true story and follows a woman who is dumped by her boyfriend for being “pornophobic.” She wants to prove him wrong and creates a rather wild sex-to-do list. The Will Addison-directed Easy Does It will also hit digital this weekend as we see Linda Hamilton star alongside Bryan Batt, Dwight Henry and Ben Matheny in the ’70-set Southern-fried hostage-driven adventure comedy. And last but certainly not least, there’s Molly Hewitt’s Holy Trinity, which will make its digital debut on July 21. In the comedy, the titular sex-positive dominatrix gains the ability to talk to the dead after inhaling the fumes of a mysterious aerosol can.

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