Austrian documentary filmmaker Christian Tod, who was — by his own admission — heavily influenced by Captain Jean-Luc Picard and certain episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation back in the 1990s, asks the question, “What would you do if your income were taken care of?”
The result is the feature-length documentary titled Free Lunch Society, which will be making its domestic DVD debut courtesy of Icarus Films on Feb. 5.
How would it work? Is it possible? These are the questions (and more) that Tod explores with the likes of Götz Werner, self-made billionaire and the head of the Cross-Department Group for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology; Fran Ulmer, educator, Director of the Institute of Economic and Social Research and former Lt. Governor of Alaska; Peter Barnes, journalist, author and environmentalist; Charles Murray, author of “Our Hands” and Libertarian Political Scientist; University of Manitoba professor Evelyn Forget; UC Berkeley professor Emmanuel Saez and more.
The film raises the issue, should the Calvinistic work ethic continue to be the backbone of modern society or can there be constructive alternatives?
Free Lunch Society is presented in a mix of English and German, with English subtitles where necessary.
Bonus features include the featuretted titled “The Free Lunch Society Talk Show” and several promotional videos.
Also announced this past week by Icarus Films is the Distrib Films presentation of director Vahid Jalilvand’s No Date, No Signature, the official Best Foreign Language entry by Iran for this year’s Academy Awards (nominations will be revealed on Jan. 22).
The domestic DVD debut date will also be on Feb. 5.
No Date, No Signature had a very limited Oscar-qualifying theatrical release in early August of this year (limited to just three screens) and generated $33,877 in ticket sales … the ARR comes in at 186 days.
Class distinctions in current day Iran (filmed in and around Tehran) are explored in this intense dramatic tale — critic rave reviews and multiple award-winning film festivals results give credence to just how well-made this foreign-language entry is (including Best Director and Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival in 2017, losing-out to Nico, 1988 in the Best Film category).
In the opening sequence, Dr. Kaveh Nariman (Amir Aghaee — We're All Sinner, Mermaid, The Second Wife, etc.), a renowned Forensic Pathologist, collides with an over-loaded motorcycle on a dark street — father, mother, young boy and infant. It appears to be a no-harm, no-foul incident and that’s that as they all go their separate ways.
Later, he crosses paths with the young boy again, this time as a dead body that is awaiting an autopsy. This sets in motion a series of events that filmmaker Vahid Jalilvand uses to explore both class divisions, but long-standing customs and traditions that may seem alien to Western audiences.
Dr. Nariman’s colleague, Dr. Sayeh Behbahani (Hediyeh Tehrani — Red, Fireworks Wednesday, Israfil, etc.), performs the autopsy when he begs off and she discovers that the boy has died of food poisoning, which comes full circle to the father (played by Navid Mohammadzadeh) when Sayeh informs the parents. He had bought cheap, rancid chicken and his wife immediately knew that something was amiss.
The father goes on a rampage against those who sold him the meat, while Dr. Nariman guilt-ridden over the boy’s death and eventually orders his body exhumed for a second autopsy. Neither father, nor doctor can let “their” guilt go … it becomes all-consuming.
No Date, No Signature is presented in Farsi with English subtitles.