The Test and The Art of Thinking

The Test and The Art of Thinking


Parents and students understand the energy and emotions conjured by the SAT, which is not only part of the college admissions process, but also a true rite of passage for teenagers in the United States. Most of us never forget our score, or how we feel about it. This film endeavors to support individuals—especially young people—by examining what the test measures and means, and asking a range of visionaries, admissions professionals, and interested parties to discuss the use and ramifications of the test.

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Date: September 2015
Producers: Michael Arlen Davis and Jyll Johnstone


Libby

Libby


Libby is an artist with vivid dreams. She lives smack in the Village, the downtown soul of creative Manhattan, in a world of her making that flourishes behind the bolted door of her 7th floor walkup. Enter into a ever changing landscape askew with tiny hands, skinny legs, sharp-witted words, dark hair heads, deceptively simple collages and thousands of photographs—mostly of her.

Meet Libby and dream.

Follow Libby Schoettle’s art here on Instagram.

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Format: Docuseries
Director: Jyll Johnstone

Martha & Ethel

Martha & Ethel


Martha & Ethel is a story that you don’t see very often, perhaps because it shows the flip side of the privileged lifestyle.  It is the story of 2 lifelong nannies and the two families they worked for in Manhattan and Greenwich, Connecticut from the 1940’s up to the 1990’s.  The film follows the nannies and their relationship to the families’ children for a lifetime.

It is a look at mothering from not only a sociological, but also a very personal and emotional point of view.

“Martha & Ethel” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994. It was shot in 16mm, blown up to 35mm and distributed by Sony Pictures Classics. It had a theatrical run across Europe and the United States.

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Director: Jyll Johnstone

Reviews


“One of the most revealing, eloquent and well received films at the Sundance Film Festival. Ambitious and emotionally deep…It deftly becomes a history of social change over 40 years and a meditation on motherhood and family. Martha and Ethel themselves are such rich screen presences” – Caryn James, The New York Times

“Martha and Ethel is as fascinating for what it doesn’t say as for what it does.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“Delicate work is being transacted in this unique and unforgettable documentary about two nannies. What could have been a mere memoir becomes a provocative document about the changing nature of family. Through Martha and Ethel and those whose lives they’ve touched, the filmmakers catch the emotional highs and lows of surrogate parenting and craft a touching film of harsh, haunting truth.” – Rolling Stone

“This refreshing movie is a wonderful and heartwarming portrait of two women who made a unique impact upon many people. The film speaks to the hearts of everyone, as each life touches others every day.” – Movie Guide

“Fascinating look into a world of privilege and servility.” – TV Guide

Queen of Belvedere

Queen of Belvedere (Working Title)


A housekeeper from El Salvador wants to tell her story. She works on the Tiburon peninsula, in one of the wealthiest communities in the United States. Her work ethic is compelling, as is her sense of humor. Please meet, the Queen of Belvedere.

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Date: June 2015
Director: Jyll Johnstone
Director of Photography: Christian Figueroa

Hats Off

Hats Off


Hats Off, a feature-length documentary, profiles the beauty and eccentricities of an extraordinary woman, 93-year-old actress Mimi Weddell.

With the style and grace of Katharine Hepburn, the smoky wit and wisdom of Dorothy Parker, and her own personal philosophy, “rise above it,” Mimi is truly an iconic American original, rising above the mundane and difficult confines of her own daily life to reach for the stars and fulfill her dreams.

Hats Off captures the essence of this most unusual woman, named at age 90 by New York Magazine as one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in New York,” whose full-time acting career began at age 65 upon the passing of her husband, and whose daily routine mocks the traditional image of old age. From grueling 14-hour days at cattle call auditions to her weekly gymnastics and dance workouts, Mimi Weddell exudes a ‘can-do, will-do’ attitude in the face of life’s trials and tribulations, and moves through her challenges with grace, encouraging us all to be more than we are.

Shot over the course of 10 years, by award-winning director Jyll Johnstone, (Martha & Ethel, Throwing Curves) Hats Off covers a time span when most seniors are planning their funerals and estate bequests. Instead, Hats Off follows the breathtaking pace of Weddell, a bohemian free spirit now forced to share her east side Manhattan apartment with her two more traditionally-minded grown children and a grandchild. Like most families, their relationship is complex, and the mother-daughter/mother-son dynamic adds a fascinating layer of depth to an already compelling and entertaining film.

When her beloved husband Dick dies, “leaving nothing behind but bills, poor man,” Mimi does what she has to do to stay afloat, even attending an audition on the way to his memorial and landing the lead role in the cult film Dracula’s Last Rites, which marks the beginning of her career.

Since that time, 25 years ago, Mimi has been seen in print ads for companies Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Juicy Couture, and Nike, to name a few; in photo spreads for Vanity Fair and Vogue; on TV series including Sex and the City and Law and Order; and in feature films such as: Across the Universe, Hitch, and The Purple Rose of Cairo.

But Weddell isn’t a star. She never wanted to be. She just wants to work.

“There’s a lot more to be learned, and I’m going to learn
all the way up to the stairway to the stars.”
– Mimi Weddell

An examination of family relationships, love, and ultimately the dreams which drive us, Hats Off is a compelling and entertaining documentary that inspires, and urges us to celebrate the underdog, and the Mimi in us all.

Hats Off is a Canobie Films Production starring Mimi Weddell. Directed by Jyll Johnstone and produced by Jyll Johnstone & Michael Arlen Davis.

Co-starring Sarah Dillon, Kit Dillon, Tom Weddell, and Anna Weddell, Hats Off running time is 84 minutes.

Learn more here.

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Date: 07/07/2012
Director: Jyll Johnstone

Reviews


“And in the end, there is something to be said for the daily victory against ageism that Weddell represents. Because if you’re not tickled and stirred by her 95-pound frame kicking off sheets and leaping out of bed to answer a phone — a gig maybe! — then shame on you.” – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times

“This lively documentary about 93-year-old working actress Mimi Weddell starts out as a boisterous look at a vivacious character and gradually turns into a more nuanced psychological portrait of a complex personality.” – New York Magazine

“Ten years in the making, “Hats Off” is a documentary tribute to the 93-year old actress Mimi Weddell, one of those people for whom the word “individual” seems especially apt.” – The New York Times

Throwing Curves – Eva Zeisel

Eva Zeisel

Throwing Curves – Eva Zeisel


You may not know Eva Zeisel yet, but you certainly know her work.

“Throwing Curves – Eva Zeisel” explores the life and art of a brave & adventurous woman who conquered the 20th century with her curvilinear style to become one of the most famous industrial designers of the modern era. She thought of her designs as gifts to others. Her motto was “the playful search for beauty.”

Working primarily in porcelain and ceramic tableware, Eva Zeisel’s pioneering work introduced her trademark sensuous curves to mass-production. Her one woman show at the Museum of Modern Art. (MoMA) in 1946 put her on the map. Her many years of teaching at Pratt Institute influenced generations of designers. With over 80 years in the field, Eva was one of the best-selling tableware designers of all time and her highly-collectable designs have changed the face of modern design in the 20th century.

“Throwing Curves – Eva Zeisel” explores Eva’s life from her birth in Hungary in 1906 through her career working in Berlin in the 20s, the Soviet Union in the 30s, and New York from the 40’s on. She was a witness to all the major art and political movements of the 20th century, which she thought of as “her” century. The film interweaves her design work with her dramatic life-history, which includes sixteen months in a Soviet Union prison (falsely accused of conspiring to kill Stalin), escaping the Nazis, and setting up a new life as an immigrant in post-war New York City. Finally, in a testimony to one of America’s earliest “super moms”, the film explores the tension between modern motherhood and a career in the arts.

“Throwing Curves – Eva Zeisel” is a lesson in longevity and perseverance. Eva continued to design until her death in 2011 at the age of 105. Her work is represented in most major museums, and her designs for furniture, lamps, flatware and dinnerware continue to be sold at such retailers as Crate and Barrel, Design Within Reach, and EvaZeiselOriginals.com.

“Throwing Curves – Eva Zeisel” has been screened at thirty major museums in the U.S. and Europe including the MET.

More information about Eva can be found at EvaZeiselForum.com

Remnants of Memory

Remnants of Memory


A study of fine art photography inspired by the late Luigi Ghirri.

Flowers of May

Flowers of May


Flowers of May is a poetic documentary that tells the story of the Sumpul River Massacre.
The film assembles witnesses’ testimonies that reconstruct the traumatic events of the massacre, striving to become a forum for the victims’ memories, a loud commentary on the history of political violence in El Salvador, and a collection of voices for justice.
The Sumpul River Massacre occurred in Chalatenango, El Salvador, on May 14 and May 15, 1980, at the beginning of the Salvadoran civil war. According to unofficial accounts, military units from the National Army of El Salvador and Government-sponsored paramilitary groups executed at least three hundred defenseless civilians, most of them women and children.

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Director: Christian Figueroa
Director of Photography: Victoria Montero