This Week in Cinemas April 18, 2021.

Meet the heroes empowering international disabilities rights in the Oscar-nominated documentary “Crip Camp.”

New York City cinemas are slowly returning to life at 25% capacity. Meanwhile, Arclight and Pacific Theatres are shuttering due to the loss of revenue during the spread of Covid-19. In the showbiz town of Los Angeles, it’s difficult to imagine life without the Hollywood Arclight and the Cinerama Dome. Keep fingers crossed that a new owner will re-open these significant cinemas.

What I’m Watching: “Crip Camp”

“Crip Camp” filmmakers Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht trace the disability rights movement from Camp Jened, an early 70s summer camp for disabled teens in New York’s Catskills Mountains, to a 28-day sit-in at a federal office building in 1977 to the signing of the American Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. “Crip Camp,” an Audience Award Winner at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, tells the story of the “Jenedians,” campers of various disabilities and diverse backgrounds, including co-director Lebrecht and disabled and non-disabled counselors and camp staff like Judy Heumann. She helped build a no-judgment, welcoming community.

The ramshackle cabins of Camp Jened are just a starting point for co-directors Nenham and LeBrecht. “Crip Camp” follows the social justice journeys of Camp Jened alum like Heumann and their advocacy efforts leading to the ADA. 

Values supporting accessibility, diversity, inclusion, and international disabilities rights empower the movie. Newnham, LeBrecht, and editors Andrew Gersj, Mary Lampson, and Eileen Meyer successfully mix original camp footage with new interviews. 

Since first watching “Crip Camp” at Sundance, I continue to be inspired by the film’s call for disability justice. The call for action is extra powerful because Newnham and LeBrecht emphasize a human touch and the extraordinary heroes driving their social justice story. 

What I’m Excited to Watch:

“About Endlessness” begins U.S. run April 30, 2021

Winner of the Best Director Prize at the Venice Film Festival, “About Endlessness,” delivers all the artistry art-house audiences expect from Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson. A follow-up movie to Andersson’s “Living” trilogy, “About Endlessness,” is a collection of dark comic stories ranging from a priest battling nightmares about his crucifixion to a dentist walking out on a patient. Andersson matches his trademark everyday storytelling with a visual style that critics compare to painters Otto Dix and Edward Hopper. 

“About Endlessness” debuts theatrically and on-demand platforms on April 30, 2021, at select art houses, including New York’s Film Forum.

A still from Street Gang: How We Got To Sesame Street by Marilyn Agrelo, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Luke Geissbühler.

“Street Gang: How To Get To Sesame Street” opens April 23, 2021

Flashback to 1969 and meet a “street gang” of mission-driven artists, writers, and educators committed to transforming TV into a powerful education tool. Author and filmmaker Marilyn Agrelo (“Mad Hot Ballroom”) pulls back the curtain on the people who built “Sesame Street,” one of the most influential and impactful television programs in history. An audience favorite at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, “Street Gang: How To Get To Sesame,” looks to welcome indie film audiences back to art-house cinemas. 

Street Gang: How To Get To Sesame Street begins its U.S. run April 23, 2021, at select cinemas, including the Laemmle NoHo 7 in North Hollywood. CA. 

Behind the Screens: Editor Alan Baumgarten wins ACE Eddie Award for The Trial of the Chicago 7

Congrats to “The Trial of the Chicago 7” editor Alan Baumgarten for winning the top American Cinema Editors prize at a virtual ceremony. Baumgarten joins director Spike Lee, honored with the Ace Golden Eddie Award Filmmaker of the Year Award. Pixar’s “Soul,” indie comedy “Palm Springs” and documentary “My Octopus Teacher” join “The Trail of the Chicago 7” as 2021 ACE award-winners. Congrats to all the editors. 

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