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LA's violent uprising of 1992 returns to TV 25 years later

Toward the end of "L.A. Burning," a new documentary about the fiery and deadly 1992 Los Angeles riots, a man who lived through the turmoil issues an ominous warning about the future.

"If we don't change the way we interact with the police and they interact with us, y'all might as well just welcome the next riot," he says.

The juxtaposition of the historic uprising with today's high-profile police shootings of black men and the Black Lives Matter movement is the crux of six separate documentaries marking the 25th anniversary of the LA riots, which exploded after four white police officers were acquitted of severely beating black motorist Rodney King. The ensuing carnage was the worst civil unrest in US history, leaving 55 people dead and more than 2,000 injured.

Oscar winner John Ridley and Oscar nominee John Singleton are among the filmmakers using the anniversary to re-examine the events that led to the unrest and contextualize them for a new generation. All six films premiere this week.

"Whether there are five, six or seven films, I don't think there can be enough stories," Ridley said in a recent interview. "It's almost stunning, considering the scope and scale of that event, what it meant in the moment and how people still view it, that it's taken this long for these stories to come out."

It's unusual to have six documentaries on the same subject released almost simultaneously, though it could become more commonplace in today's multi-option media landscape. By comparison, two films were released around the riots' 20th anniversary in 2012.

Since then, Rodney King has died. Florida teen Trayvon Martin was shot and his killer acquitted. The Black Lives Matter movement was born. And the nation transitioned from the leadership of its first black president, Barack Obama, to the uncertainties of Donald Trump's administration.

"I look at the conditions across our country right now and I'm thinking we certainly didn't learn much in the last 25 years," retired Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Michael Moulin says in "L.A. Burning." He was on duty in South Los Angeles when the riots broke out and appears in several of the new films.

Besides the six documentaries marking the riots' anniversary, a digital story archive and a virtual-reality project aim to make sense of the events for today's viewers.

Anniversaries often inspire reflection, and the proliferation of outlets airing documentaries has created more opportunities for filmmakers interested in exploring the past, said Todd Boyd, a professor of cinema and media studies at the USC School for Cinematic Arts. He points to the O.J. Simpson murder case, which was the subject of narrative and documentary retellings in 2016, 21 years after Simpson was acquitted.

"As time passes, people look back on certain eras or events and reconsider them for a new age," Boyd said. "We're in a moment now where people are reconsidering that early '90s era, whether it's the Rodney King beating, the riots or O.J."

Those events all spoke to race relations, which may be as fractious now as they were then.

"I think that people just feel (the riots) are a really important cautionary tale right now," said Molly Gale, a 27-year-old filmmaker developing a virtual-reality project with the Los Angeles Times. "Flash Point: An Immersive 360 Look at Photographing the L.A. Riots," premiering April 29, was "borne out of our own lack of understanding of how huge the riots really were," she said.

"This project is aiming to reach the millennials to make them understand the history of these places they're living in," she said.

Another interactive project, KTown92, focuses on stories about the riots from residents of Koreatown.

Documentarian Sacha Jenkins saw his film "Burn Motherf-----, Burn" as a way to establish historical context for today's police shootings and demands for justice.

"What I was trying to say with the film is this thing goes way back to slavery, and it goes way back to the grievances that African-Americans have had this whole time," he said. "I wanted people to be able to see this and do the math and let that math add up to where we are now."

Filmmaker Mark Ford wrote and directed a movie in 2012 to mark the 20th anniversary of the riots, "Uprising: Hip Hop and the LA Riots." For the 25th anniversary, he produced two different documentaries, "L.A. Burning" and "L.A. Riots: 25 Years Later."

"Police abuse is as prevalent, if not more, than it was 25 years ago," Ford said. "We all see the images across our social media pretty much every day. As filmmakers, we just want to be part of the conversation as to why this is happening and what are potential solutions."

Singleton, a producer of "L.A. Burning" and an LA native, has been close to the riots for a long time. He left the Simi Valley, California, set of his film "Poetic Justice" for the nearby courthouse shortly after the verdict in the King case was read. Singleton appears in news footage from 1992 and also gives extensive interviews in the new documentary.

"This event affected all of us cross-culturally through the city," he said after a recent screening. "How can we learn from this so there's not another flash point?"

___

Follow AP Entertainment Writer Sandy Cohen at www.twitter.com/APSandy .

'Moulin Rouge' director Baz Luhrmann to speak at Princeton

"Moulin Rouge" director Baz Luhrmann will speak to graduating seniors at Princeton.

Princeton's graduating class chose him as their Class Day speaker next month. The Australian will address graduates and their guests the day before commencement.

The Academy Award-nominated director, screenwriter and producer's films include "The Great Gatsby" and "Romeo + Juliet." His series, "The Get Down," which tells the birth of hip-hop, premiered on Netflix in 2016.

Class Day co-chair Deana Hamlin says Luhrmann's example of pursing one's passions is a "fitting mindset to convey to graduates before entering the real world."

Past Class Day speakers include former Vice President Al Gore and Christopher Nolan, director of the Batman "Dark Knight" trilogy.

Documentary delves into life of music pioneer Clive Davis

Clive Davis celebrated his legacy with the debut of a documentary about his life, along with performances from artists he helped become icons, during the opening night of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.

Davis, 85, said it was a dream come true to launch "Clive Davis: The Soundtrack of Our Lives" at Radio City Music Hall since he grew up in Brooklyn and didn't visit Manhattan until he was 13.

The music mogul was all smiles at the multi-hour event Wednesday night, as performers like Aretha Franklin, Carly Simon, Barry Manilow and Earth, Wind & Fire took the stage to pay tribute to Davis.

"All of them fresh from not performing at the inauguration," Robert De Niro, who co-founded the festival, said before the film began, earning laughs and handclaps from the audience.

Jennifer Hudson left the stage to walk into the aisles to dance with the crowd as she sang Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."

"Where is Clive at?" she yelled. Davis earned a loud cheer from the audience when he started dancing.

When Franklin — who closed the show — sang "Natural Woman," she pointed to Davis and sang the lyrics, "He makes me feel." She also called her longtime collaborator a "chieftain" and "humanitarian."

Others shared the sentiment on-screen. "The Soundtrack of Our Lives," directed by Chris Perkel, gave a peek into Davis' personal and professional life. He lost his parents while he was an undergraduate at New York University, and later attended Harvard Law School. After working as a lawyer for Columbia Records, he was promoted to president in 1967, despite not desiring a career in music.

"I had no inkling that music would be my passion of life," he said in an interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday from his office at the new Sony building in Manhattan. "I had no money after my parents died, so I went through school on scholarships. And I was going to be a lawyer."

He said watching the documentary was somewhat hard, especially scenes with Houston, who died in 2012.

"It was very emotional to see artists that I worked with 20, 30, 40 years ago have the same vivid memories of how we interrelated and what we worked on and issues that arose," he said. "It certainly gives a very compelling picture of the relationship that I had with Whitney Houston and of course that's filled with emotional impact, and it really showed sides of Whitney that no one has ever seen before."

Davis went on to become the world's most popular music executive, discovering talents such as Houston, Alicia Keys and Manilow and creating second acts for legends like Franklin and Santana. He even had a large role in shaping the careers of Bruce Springsteen, Janis Joplin and Billy Joel.

"What a movie," Manilow yelled before he sang some of his popular hits.

Other performers included Kenny G and Dionne Warwick, who earned a standing ovation after she hit a high note. Whoopi Goldberg worked as the emcee in between the performances.

"No matter who you voted for, fight for the arts in school please," she told the audience. "This is in our hands now."

Davis founded Arista Records in 1975 and J Records in 2000. His documentary will be available on Apple Music.

_____

Online:

http://www.clivedavis.com/

Viggo Mortensen slams Argentina's Macri over film policies

Oscar-nominated actor Viggo Mortensen is joining a protest by Argentine actors against the government's decision to fire the head of the country's film institute.

In a video posted online, Mortensen also calls center-right President Mauricio Macri a "neoliberal braggard" who seeks to plunder the financial resources of Argentina's thriving film industry. The Danish-American actor lived until age 11 in Argentina, where he learned Spanish and became a fan of the San Lorenzo soccer club.

"Argentina's film pays for itself and is a source of pride for all Argentines," Mortensen said in fluent Spanish in the video, wearing a San Lorenzo T-shirt. "The state support to the film industry in counties like Argentina and France are unique and successful examples of the cultural promotion and are admired worldwide."

A group of actors and members of Argentina's film chamber say the recent firing of INCAA Film Institute President Alejandro Cacetta was part of a plan by Macri to intervene and defund the industry. Argentina's culture minister says Cacetta failed to act against film industry officials who were suspected of corruption during the administration of Macri's left-leaning predecessor, Cristina Fernandez.

Macri's government says there are no plans to cut back funding for Argentina's film industry, which is self-financed through taxes on ticket sales and other costs that are charged to private companies and TV channels.

Mortensen, best known as Aragorn in "The Lord of the Rings" films, returns often to Argentina, where he shot the film "Todos Tenemos un Plan ("Everybody Has a Plan")'' in 2010. He has had roles in dozens of movies, including "Eastern Promises" and "Captain Fantastic," which earned him Oscar nominations for best actor.

'Mississippi Grind' directors sign on for 'Captain Marvel'

The co-directors of the indie gambling drama "Mississippi Grind" are making the leap to superhero films.

A source close to the project who was not authorized to speak publicly says Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck will direct "Captain Marvel," which is scheduled for release in March 2019.

Brie Larson is set to star as the titular character in Marvel Studios' first female-centric superhero film. The script is being co-written by "Inside Out" writer Meg LeFauve and Nicole Perlman, who co-wrote "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Boden and Fleck also collaborated on the Ryan Gosling drama "Half Nelson." They're the latest in a long string of indie directors signing up for studio blockbusters including the likes of Colin Trevorrow, who jumped from "Safety Not Guaranteed" to "Jurassic World" and "Star Wars: Episode IX" and Jon Watts, who graduated from "Cop Car" to this summer's Spider-Man reboot "Spider-Man: Homecoming."

"Captain Marvel" is a project that has been closely watched since it was added to Marvel Studios expansive slate. Due to its female lead, many on social media had hoped for a female director, like Warner Bros. did in choosing Patty Jenkins to direct "Wonder Woman."

When news broke Wednesday, some bristled that the directing team selected would include a man, but others celebrated the choice. Boden and Fleck's films have been generally well-regarded by critics.

Representatives for the directing team did not immediately respond to request for comment.

___

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

Denise Di Novi wants to be called a 'female director'

Men pick the movies. Women only go to movies that their husbands choose. And men definitely don't see movies about women.

That was the prevailing line of thought at Hollywood studios not too long ago. Denise Di Novi, a prolific producer behind everything from "Batman Returns" to "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," heard it for years when she was starting out. Back then, she mostly felt lucky to be one of the few female producers around. Directing didn't seem like a possibility. In fact, Di Novi said, it felt "insurmountable."

Now, nearly 30 years after she made a name for herself as the producer of "Heathers," Di Novi is making her directorial debut with the thriller "Unforgettable." Out Friday, the film is about a woman driven to madness when her ex-husband brings a new fiancée home.

Starring Katherine Heigl as the Hitchcockian blonde unwilling to let her ex, Geoff Stults, move on, and Rosario Dawson as the girlfriend with a traumatic past, Di Novi had been developing the script to produce when Warner Bros. suggested that she direct.

"I'd been championing women directors for years and speaking about the need for more and thought, 'I should put my money where my mouth is and direct a movie," Di Novi said.

She also loved the genre. In the films of Alfred Hitchcock and Adrian Lyne, Di Novi liked that the women were always especially interesting and layered.

"I love to see female characters put in really complex situations and overcome them. They make mistakes and they're flawed and they're crazy. I like the full spectrum, the messiness of the female experience," Di Novi said. "I found it inspiring when I was young and I wanted to make a movie like that."

Di Novi knew she didn't want to mimic other directors, though. One thing she's learned from producing is that bringing your authentic point of view to a project is always going to be better than homage.

"She was a natural," said producer Ravi Mehta. "It felt as if she'd been directing her entire life."

Di Novi found her way into producing almost by accident. She started out as a journalist in Toronto, but would get in trouble for personalizing every story, often ending up in tears. She laughs that she got fired from every job she'd ever had until she started working on movies. She tried out publicity and screenwriting but it was producing that stuck.

Her work on the still shockingly dark high school comedy "Heathers" put her on the map and led to a fruitful meeting with Tim Burton. The bonded over feeling like outsiders in Hollywood, and went on to make films like "Edward Scissorhands," ''Batman Returns," ''Ed Wood" and "Nightmare Before Christmas."

In her over 40 credits, Di Novi has dabbled in all genres from superhero pics, to classic literary adaptations like Gillian Armstrong's "Little Women," modern rom-coms like "Crazy, Stupid Love," and everything in between.

"I'm not snobby. I just love movies. I love every kind of movie. I respect every kind of movie. I don't think one kind of movie is better than another and I love to produce every kind of movie," Di Novi said. "I'm a 'why not' kind of person."

Di Novi doesn't bristle at the "female filmmaker" conversation either. She embraces the distinction and believes her chance to direct this film is the result of the heightened talk around the glaring disparity in the business.

"I wish I could have worked with more women directors. There was an assumption that women can only direct movies about women and if it's not about women, they're usually not on the list," Di Novi said. "I want women coming up to see that there are female directors and it is possible and there is a path."

She's already got another directing project lined up, "Highway One," for Amblin Entertainment, which will go into production in September. It's about an Afghanistan veteran who goes into "warrior soldier mode" when her daughter is kidnapped.

Di Novi is optimistic that things are changing. Studios and producers, she said, do seem committed to hiring more women for directing jobs in movies and television.

There is work to be done, however, and until 50 percent of movies are directed by women, Di Novi thinks it's important to keep talking about it.

"There is still a stereotype that women will only go to women's movies," Di Novi said. Most expected "Unforgettable" to be in that category, but Di Novi happily reports that it's tracking at 50/50.

"Some of that is the genre. It's scary and thrilling. But I think that there's a fascination with the female characters," she said. "And men are just as fascinated as women."

___

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

Review: When the bullets fly, 'Free Fire' comes to a crawl

When the bullets start flying, Wheatley's arms-deal-gone-wrong 1970s shoot-up comes to a crawl. There's a total absence of slow-motion cartwheels. No one miraculously walks through a wall of fire to kill the bad guys with three precise shots. Not a single Scarlett Johansson roundhouse kick is in the house.

Instead, people get maimed, bloodied and dead. There's no subsequent chase or flight from the police, just bickering and trench warfare ... for the majority of the 90 minute film. The movie is 100 percent O.K. Corral.

It's a formally impressive feat — set nearly entirely in the same rundown warehouse — but a thin and tedious one.

The film, the British director's sixth, spends its first third gathering an ensemble of retro-outfitted characters under the glistening wet of a dark Massachusetts night. The setting and colorful, comic banter would fit into a George V. Higgins novel, or Peter Yates' 1973 adaptation of "Friends of Eddie Coyle."

It's an international, much-mustachioed array of characters. A handful of Irish Republican Army agents (Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley) are meeting gun sellers (Sharlto Copley's South African; Babou Ceesay's former Black Panther). The deal has been brokered by a pair of savvy Americans (Brie Larson's Justine, Armie Hammer's turtle-necked Ord) and then there are a couple locals, Stevo (Sam Riley) and Bernie (Enzo Cilenti) brought in to carry the crates of assault weapons.

The latter two, sort of the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the bunch, play a minor role in the meet-up but a pivotal one in its descent into orgiastic violence. Stevo, with a bruised face from the previous night's exploits, ends up face-to-face with the man he tussled with and, well, all hell breaks loose.

All of them, while of various degrees of level-headedness, are self-consciously playing a role as street toughs. Best is Copley's arch Verne, a self-described "rare and mysterious jewel," most concerned with the stitching of his new suit. But once everyone takes cover throughout the abandoned factory and sporadically exchange fire in between snatches of ironic conversations, telling who's on which side becomes impossible for us and for them. Nearly everyone is eventually hobbled by a gun wound; they collectively spend more time inching around on the floor than the stars of "Babies."

The channeled spirit here — irreverent and violent — is undoubtedly "Reservoir Dogs"-era Quentin Tarantino. But "Free Fire" reminded me more of a short by its executive producer, Martin Scorsese. His 1967 six-minute "The Big Shave" showed a man who keeps cutting himself shaving until his face is a bloody mess — the Vietnam War in a nutshell.

"Free Fire," too, would seem to be a satirical metaphor on warfare, where guns plus an international group of posturing wannabe tough-guys equals mutual destruction. But Wheatley's devotion is less to any such critique than to his movie's hermetic form. He is clearly enjoying himself, stretching his high-concept, criss-crossing chaos to the comic limit, even while his characters limp along behind.

At one point in the melee, one character speaks of the "golden rule" that one has an hour and a half before a bullet wound becomes fatal. Wheatley's film, too, comes in exactly at that length. After 90 minutes of occasionally inspired dialogue and labored if compelling anarchy, it bleeds out.

"Free Fire," an A24 release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for "strong violence, pervasive language, sexual references and drug use." Running time: 90 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

___

MPAA definition for R: Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

___

Follow AP Film Writer on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

For Tribeca film fest, a new political moment to reconcile

Political currents have always flowed through the Tribeca Film Festival, founded in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. But this year, the festival has a slightly pugnacious edge to counter the policies of its midtown neighbor, President Donald Trump. Tribeca co-founder Robert De Niro, after all, has repeatedly said he'd like to punch Trump in the face.

Trump's 100th day in office will fall during the New York festival, which opens Wednesday with a Clive Davis documentary, "Soundtrack of Our Lives," and star-studded concert tribute to the legendary music producer. Tribeca , now in its 16th year, is the first big film festival to be programmed and substantially oriented in the political climate since last November's election.

And Tribeca organizers acknowledge it has shaped this year's festival all the way down to its slogan: "See yourself in others." It recently trotted out an accompanying video in which New Yorkers walk the streets with mirrored cubes for heads: an intended message of empathy, it says, for "a very divisive year."

"We programmed the festival this year the way the current administration did their budget," Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the festival, said tongue in cheek. "That said, we're also about entertaining — which this administration has also done for us."

Tribeca, which runs for 12 days, is a particularly eclectic festival that encompasses celebrity talks (Springsteen and Hanks!), television premieres (this year Hulu's anticipated "The Handmaid's Tale" debuts there), an ever-expanding virtual reality component and several movie anniversary celebrations. This year, parts one and two of "The Godfather" will play at Radio City Music Hall, with the casts in attendance.

So while defining a theme in an increasingly multi-screen, multimedia festival only goes so far, there's an undeniable presence of films that dig into the past for clues that lead to today. Many are documentaries that, though they've been in production for years, help articulate the populist unrest that pushed Trump to the White House.

"A Gray State," by "Grizzly Man" producer Erik Nelson, is about an Iraq veteran from Minnesota named David Crowley who was trying to create a dystopian science-fiction film that gave voice to libertarian and right-wing fears. But his death, along with that of his wife and young daughter, led to their own conspiracy theories. It's a tragedy in which an intelligent but increasingly troubled man appears to internalize the fringe politics he consumes himself with.

"It's really a core sample, to me, of what's going on today," says Nelson, whose film is executive produced by Werner Herzog. "David was speaking to that subcutaneous audience out there who are looking for truths that they don't see provided in the quote-unquote 'mainstream media. And on election night, we saw those people kind of come out of the shadows and tip a few elections."

Crowley documented much of his disintegration on video and social media, and Nelson considers his obsessive self-broadcasting part of his sickness. "It's not the right film for the right time," says Nelson. "It's the right film for the wrong time."

"The Reagan Show," by Sierra Pettengill and Pacho Velez, uses archival footage to show how extensively Ronald Reagan redefined the role of the U.S. president through television. It shows the former Hollywood star's savvy manipulation of his media image: hitting his marks and sticking to the script.

After working on it for the last three years, the filmmakers completed it on inauguration day. "Which was surreal," says Pettengill. "The Reagan Show" will undoubtedly be watched as illuminating another TV veteran in the White House.

"This is the roots. This is the formative moment that allowed us to get where we are," says Pettengill. "I don't think there would have been a Trump without a Reagan. The idea of having a media personality who millions and millions of people feel like they have access to, who they feel like has been in their living rooms."

There is, naturally, much dissimilarity between the two. Reagan, who is seen in the film wondering how previous presidents managed without prior acting experience, is a clearly more polished performer. Pettengill suggest that's the difference between the skills of a movie star and a reality TV star. "What being a performer means is very different in those two different realms," she says.

David Byars' "No Man's Land" tells the story behind the Oregon protesters who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last year. "Get Me Roger Stone," by Daniel DiMauro, is about the Republican self-proclaimed "trickster" and Trump associate currently under FBI scrutiny for his role in Russian interference in the presidential election.

There is a trio of films that dig into police brutality: "Frank Serpico," on the famous whistleblowing New York police officer; "LA92," on the Rodney King assault and its subsequent riots in Los Angeles; and "Copwatch," about a police-documenting organization.

And there are also issues of equal rights (the trans icon investigation "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson"), a number of environment-focused films and events scheduled around Earth Day, and even an appearance from Michael Moore for an anniversary of his 2002 documentary on guns and mass shootings, "Bowling for Columbine." The festival declares, "In the age of Trump ... there's no better time to revisit" the film.

"What's interesting," says Rosenthal, "is that we have films that are looking back that show: How did we get here?"

___

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

___

This story has been updated to correct that the co-director of 'The Reagan Show' is Pacho Velez.

For Tribeca film fest, a new political moment to reconcile

Political currents have always flowed through the Tribeca Film Festival, founded in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. But this year, the festival has a slightly pugnacious edge to counter the policies of its midtown neighbor, President Donald Trump. Tribeca co-founder Robert De Niro, after all, has repeatedly said he'd like to punch Trump in the face.

Trump's 100th day in office will fall during the New York festival, which opens Wednesday with a Clive Davis documentary, "Soundtrack of Our Lives," and star-studded concert tribute to the legendary music producer. Tribeca , now in its 16th year, is the first big film festival to be programmed and substantially oriented in the political climate since last November's election.

And Tribeca organizers acknowledge it has shaped this year's festival all the way down to its slogan: "See yourself in others." It recently trotted out an accompanying video in which New Yorkers walk the streets with mirrored cubes for heads: an intended message of empathy, it says, for "a very divisive year."

"We programmed the festival this year the way the current administration did their budget," Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the festival, said tongue in cheek. "That said, we're also about entertaining — which this administration has also done for us."

Tribeca, which runs for 12 days, is a particularly eclectic festival that encompasses celebrity talks (Springsteen and Hanks!), television premieres (this year Hulu's anticipated "The Handmaid's Tale" debuts there), an ever-expanding virtual reality component and several movie anniversary celebrations. This year, parts one and two of "The Godfather" will play at Radio City Music Hall, with the casts in attendance.

So while defining a theme in an increasingly multi-screen, multimedia festival only goes so far, there's an undeniable presence of films that dig into the past for clues that lead to today. Many are documentaries that, though they've been in production for years, help articulate the populist unrest that pushed Trump to the White House.

"A Gray State," by "Grizzly Man" producer Erik Nelson, is about an Iraq veteran from Minnesota named David Crowley who was trying to create a dystopian science-fiction film that gave voice to libertarian and right-wing fears. But his death, along with that of his wife and young daughter, led to their own conspiracy theories. It's a tragedy in which an intelligent but increasingly troubled man appears to internalize the fringe politics he consumes himself with.

"It's really a core sample, to me, of what's going on today," says Nelson, whose film is executive produced by Werner Herzog. "David was speaking to that subcutaneous audience out there who are looking for truths that they don't see provided in the quote-unquote 'mainstream media. And on election night, we saw those people kind of come out of the shadows and tip a few elections."

Crowley documented much of his disintegration on video and social media, and Nelson considers his obsessive self-broadcasting part of his sickness. "It's not the right film for the right time," says Nelson. "It's the right film for the wrong time."

"The Reagan Show," by Sierra Pettengill and Pacho Velez, uses archival footage to show how extensively Ronald Reagan redefined the role of the U.S. president through television. It shows the former Hollywood star's savvy manipulation of his media image: hitting his marks and sticking to the script.

After working on it for the last three years, the filmmakers completed it on inauguration day. "Which was surreal," says Pettengill. "The Reagan Show" will undoubtedly be watched as illuminating another TV veteran in the White House.

"This is the roots. This is the formative moment that allowed us to get where we are," says Pettengill. "I don't think there would have been a Trump without a Reagan. The idea of having a media personality who millions and millions of people feel like they have access to, who they feel like has been in their living rooms."

There is, naturally, much dissimilarity between the two. Reagan, who is seen in the film wondering how previous presidents managed without prior acting experience, is a clearly more polished performer. Pettengill suggest that's the difference between the skills of a movie star and a reality TV star. "What being a performer means is very different in those two different realms," she says.

David Byars' "No Man's Land" tells the story behind the Oregon protesters who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last year. "Get Me Roger Stone," by Daniel DiMauro, is about the Republican self-proclaimed "trickster" and Trump associate currently under FBI scrutiny for his role in Russian interference in the presidential election.

There is a trio of films that dig into police brutality: "Frank Serpico," on the famous whistleblowing New York police officer; "LA92," on the Rodney King assault and its subsequent riots in Los Angeles; and "Copwatch," about a police-documenting organization.

And there are also issues of equal rights (the trans icon investigation "The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson"), a number of environment-focused films and events scheduled around Earth Day, and even an appearance from Michael Moore for an anniversary of his 2002 documentary on guns and mass shootings, "Bowling for Columbine." The festival declares, "In the age of Trump ... there's no better time to revisit" the film.

"What's interesting," says Rosenthal, "is that we have films that are looking back that show: How did we get here?"

___

Follow AP Film Writer Jake Coyle on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/jakecoyleAP

___

This story has been updated to correct that the co-director of 'The Reagan Show' is Pacho Velez.

Review: Love triangle undoes historical epic 'The Promise'

And indeed, "The Promise" is a sprawling and handsome epic set around the extermination of 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey. But despite the best of intentions, the film fails to properly explain and contextualize both what led to that disgraceful episode, which Turkey to this day denies, and why it escalated as it did. Instead, "The Promise" chooses to focus in on an unsympathetic love triangle that manages to trivialize the film overall.

The goal, as always, is to personalize the events that are too big and too devastating to look at as a whole — to make it about the lives interrupted, cut short and thrown into turmoil because of external forces. Thus we're given the character Michael Boghosian (Isaac), an Armenian medical student from a small village in Southern Turkey who uses his fiancée's dowry to study modern medicine in Constantinople. Michael isn't in love with his fiancée (Angela Sarafyan), but such is life in Siroun where marriages are arranged and he doesn't have any other choice. He kisses her goodbye and heads off to the big city, promising to return in just a few years.

Constantinople is an oasis of temptation for Michael, who essentially falls for the first woman he sees. The beguiling Ana (Le Bon) is a cosmopolitan beauty and intellectual. She lived in Paris for years. She exudes ethereal confidence. And she's an Armenian from around his hometown. Ana also happens to be in a long-term relationship with Chris Myers (Bale), an Associated Press reporter who we're told drinks too much.

While Michael is enjoying the city life and lusting after Ana, though, things are devolving around him. It's 1914 and vague signs of war are emerging. Things go on as normal for a little while — there are German soldiers at the parties now and battleships in the harbor and a heightened sense that some Turks are anti-Armenian. And then Constantinople's Armenian intellectuals start getting arrested and taken away. To where is unclear. To fight? To prison camps? To be executed?

The intention, likely, is to put the viewer on the blurry ground level with Michael and Ana, who see their world turned upside down so suddenly that of course there would be confusion. Explanation and insight is hardly a priority when survival is the goal. But that's where Bale's Chris Myers should have been more useful.

To the film's credit, he does take us early on to distant villages to witness townspeople being rounded up and walked through the desert. Women and children are executed without hesitation and, when Chris is spotted in the distance, soldiers take off after him. It's clear they don't want people seeing what they're doing. He chimes in occasionally with helpful exposition as he's dictating articles, and yet, it's a wonder whether anyone who knows little about the events will actually be able to track what's going on in a meaningful way.

"The Promise" is infinitely more interested in the triangle, dropping the three leads into convenient situations to heighten the will they/won't they/can they/should they drama, which, frankly, becomes increasingly unsympathetic as the situation around them becomes more dire.

It's unfair to critique such an utterly sincere film that does contain some riveting action and acting and even might inspire some to learn more about this moment in history, but unfortunately, the story just doesn't live up to its grand ambitions.

"The Promise," an Open Road Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for "thematic material including war atrocities, violence and disturbing images, and for some sexuality." Running time: 134 minutes. Two stars out of four.

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MPAA Definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

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