newportFILM Outdoors Series Returns Announces 12th Annual Summer Line Up

Award Winning Documentaries Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) and Lily Topples the World join festival favorites Rita Moreno: The Girl Who Just Decided to Go For It, Misha and the Wolves and My Name is Pauli Murray

National Geographic’s Playing with Sharks selected Opening Night Film 

NEWPORT / NEW YORK – June 16, 2021 – After pivoting to a drive-in and virtual format for the summer of 2020, newportFILM announced today a return to a full line up of weekly outdoor screenings for newportFILM Outdoors. An exciting lineup of world-class documentaries  kick off on Thursday, June 17th with Sally Aitken’s Playing with Sharks from National Geographic, and runs through September 9th  with closing night film Havana Libre. Among the highlights are Questlove’s award-winning Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) from Searchlight, Jeremy Workman’s award-winning Lily Topples the World from discovery+ and Greenwich Entertainment, Mariem Pérez Riera’s festival favorite Rita Moreno:  The Girl Who Just Decided to Go For It from Roadside Attractions, Misha and The Wolves from Netflix and My Name is Pauli Murray from Amazon StudiosNew this year, audiences can vote for their favorite film of the season through the 2021 Audience Award sponsored by BankNewport.  

The series brings over 18,000 moviegoers from around the world over the course of their summer series. This marks the 12th summer season of hosting screenings at picturesque outdoor locations, thoughtfully paired with each film, in and around historic Newport, RI. Screening locations this year include the lawns of the  Eisenhower House, known as the “Summer White House” for President Dwight D. Eisenhower,  the Gilded Age mansions  Rosecliff (featured in The Great Gatsby) , Marble House (built for the Vanderbilts) and The Elms (built for coal baron Edward Julius Berwind) and the Newport International Polo Grounds. 

newportFILM’s annual picnic contest, “Go Green: A Zero Waste Picnic Contest” is partnered with the film To Which We Belong and sponsored by Taste Artful Interiors + Design.

newportFILM Outdoors is presented by Lila Delman Compass. The Outdoor series is also supported by 11th Hour Racing, Kiel James Patrick, Berkshire Bank, and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. Year-round supporting sponsors include Kirby Perkins Construction, WIMCO Villas, Lexington Partners and the Park South Hotel NYC.

newportFILM Outdoors 2021 Films include:

Playing With Sharks
Location:  Second Beach, Middletown
Director:  Sally Aitken
Distributor:  (National Geographic)

A true pioneer in both underwater filmmaking and shark research, Valerie Taylor is a living legend and icon in the underwater world whose life’s work has become the basis for much of what we know about sharks today. Through remarkable underwater archival footage, along with interviews with Valerie herself, PLAYING WITH SHARKS, from twice Emmy®-nominated director SallyAitken, follows this daring ocean explorer’s trajectory from champion spearfisher to passionate shark protector. From the birth of cage diving to “Jaws” hysteria,to the dawn of cageless shark diving, Valerie became a trailblazing advocate for the ocean’s most maligned and misunderstood creatures.

The film premiered in competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and won the audience award at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival.


Rita Moreno: The Girl Who Just Decided To Go For It
Location:  Aquidneck Park, Newport
Director: Mariem Pérez Riera
Distributor: Roadside Attractions

Over a 70+ year career, Rita Moreno defied both her humble upbringing and relentless racism to become a celebrated and beloved actor, one of the rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) Award Winners of our time.  Born into poverty on a Puerto Rican farm, Moreno and her seamstress mother immigrated to New York City when Moreno was five years old. After studying dance and performing on Broadway, Moreno was cast as any ethnic minority the Hollywood studios needed filled, be it Polynesian, Native American or Egyptian. Despite becoming the first Latina actress to win an Academy Award for her role as Anita in “West Side Story” (1961), the studios continued to offer Moreno lesser roles as stereotypical ethnic minorities, ignoring her proven talent.

RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT illuminates the humor and the grace of Moreno, as well as lesser-known struggles faced on her path to stardom, including pernicious Hollywood sexism and abuse, a toxic relationship with Marlon Brando, and serious depression a year before she emerged an Oscar winner. Moreno’s talent and resilience triumphed over adversity, as she broke barriers, fought for representation and forged the path for new generations of artists.

The film had its world premiere in competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.


Rebel Hearts
Location:  O’Hare Lawn, Salve Regina University, Newport
Director: Pedro Kos
Distributor: discovery+

In 1960s Los Angeles a trailblazing group of nuns, The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, bravely stood up to the patriarchy of the Catholic Church, fighting for equality, their livelihoods, and their own freedom against an all-powerful Cardinal who sought to keep them in their place. Their bold acts of faith, defiance and activism turned the Church upside down, helping to reshape our society in ways that continue to resonate today. From marching in Selma in 1965 to the Women’s March in 2018, they challenged the notion of what a nun and a woman were supposed to be.

These unlikely resistance fighters, including Anita Caspary, Helen Kelley, Pat Reif and iconic pop artist Corita Kent, were devoted to a life of service, not only to others but to themselves –  forming a community that empowered each sister to live up to her fullest potential. Their desire to bring the church into modern life was met with forceful opposition at every turn.  As each of them discovered their own talents and voices, they fully stepped into their roles as leaders in a movement that is still making waves.

Rebel Hearts had its world premiere in competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.


Misha And The Wolves
Location:  The Elms Lawn, Newport
Director: Sam Hobkinson
Distributor: Netflix

Misha and the Wolves is the dramatic tale of a woman whose holocaust memoir took the world by storm, but a fallout with her publisher – who turned detective – revealed an audacious deception created to hide a darker truth. 

The film had its world premiere at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in World Cinema.


The Oxy Kingpins
Location:  Middletown High School, Middletown
Directors:  Nick August-Perna, Brendan Fitzgerald

The Oxy Kingpins follows the untold story of how a network of pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, and retailers worked together to orchestrate and perpetuate the opioid crisis that has killed over half a million people in America.

The film had its world premiere in competition at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival. 


Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Location:  St. Michael’s Country Day School Lawn, Newport
Director: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
Distributor: Searchlight

In his acclaimed debut as a filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson presents a powerful and transporting documentary—part music film, part historical record created around an epic event that celebrated Black history, culture and fashion. Over the course of six weeks in the summer of 1969, just one hundred miles south of Woodstock, The Harlem Cultural Festival was filmed in Mount Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park).  The footage was never seen and largely forgotten–until now. SUMMER OF SOUL shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music during times of unrest, both past and present. The feature includes never-before-seen concert performances by Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Sly & the Family Stone, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, The 5th Dimension and more.

Summer of Soul premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. It will stream on Hulu in conjunction with Disney General Entertainment’s BIPOC Creator Initiative; Searchlight Pictures will release it theatrically.


To Which We Belong
8th Annual Picnic Contest
Location:  Glen Park, Portsmouth
Directors: Pamela Tanner Boll, Lindsay Richardson

TO WHICH WE BELONG is a documentary that highlights farmers and ranchers leaving behind conventional practices that are no longer profitable or sustainable.These unsung heroes are improving the health of our soil and sea to save their livelihoods—and our planet.

The film has played at the One Earth Film Festival and NorthWest Fest.


Lily Topples The World
Location:  Eisenhower House, Newport
Director: Jeremy Workman
Distributor: Greenwich Entertainment / discovery+

Lily Topples The World follows 20-year-old sensation Lily Hevesh – the world’s most acclaimed domino toppler and the only girl in her field – as she rises as an artist, role model, and young woman.  Filmed for over 3 years across countless cities and featuring appearances by Jimmy Fallon, Katy Perry, Will Smith, YouTuber Casey Neistat, and a steady stream of Gen-Z creators, LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD is a coming-of-age story cloaked within a unique portrait of an artist, a story of how passion and artistry can make dreams come true, and an unlikely American tale of a quiet Chinese adoptee who transforms into a global artistic force with over 1 billion YouTube views.  From director Jeremy Workman (The World Before Your Feet) and from executive producer Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), in her first film in a producing role.

The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival and the Audience Award at the San Francisco Film Festival. 


Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free
Location:  International Polo Fields, Portsmouth
Director: Mary Wharton

Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free offers a unique take on the Petty legacy, diving deep into a condensed period of creativity and freedom for the legendary rock star. Capturing the period of 1993-1995, during which he created his seminal and most emotionally raw album Wildflowers, the unvarnished look at Petty features never-before-seen footage drawn from a newly discovered archive of 16mm film as well as new interviews with album co-producers Rick Rubin and Heartbreaker Mike Campbell, along with original Heartbreaker Benmont Tench. 

 Director Mary Wharton illuminates an artist at the height of his powers, providing an intimate and emotional look at an enigmatic icon with archival footage of Petty and his band in the recording studio, behind-the-scenes on tour, and at home with his family, providing a view of Tom Petty as he has never been seen before.

The film won the Audience Award at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival. 


We Are As Gods
Location:  Marble House Lawn, Newport
Directors: David Alvarado, Jason Sussberg

We Are As Gods offers a deep dive into the many sides of Stewart Brand— creator of The Whole Earth Catalog, an influential member of Ken Kesey’s “The Merry Pranksters,” and founder of the modern environmental movement. Brand’s approach to his work and life influenced many, including Steve Jobs, who have gone on to shape our modern world. Now in his 80’s, he looks to leave a legacy for the long-term future with his efforts to rewild ecosystems by resurrecting extinct species. The person who coined this epochal phrase is now under fire from former allies who believe he’s gone too far, but Brand won’t be easily deterred.

 The film played at the 2021 San Francisco Film Festival.


After Antarctica
Location: Safe Harbor New England Boatworks, Portsmouth
Director: Tasha Van Zandt

After Antarctica offers an intimate portrait of Will Steger, a trailblazer who overcame all odds to become one of the world’s most admired polar explorers. Through the use of never-before-seen archival footage, we follow Steger’s historic 1989 traverse across Antarctica, which was the longest crossing of the continent in history. His mission at the time was to use the expedition as a tool to reinstate the Antarctic Treaty.

However, in the decades following the completion of the expedition, the three ice shelves the team crossed have disintegrated, leaving Steger and his team not only the first to achieve this historic feat, but also the last.

Now, Steger enters a new chapter as he comes to the realization that the legacy he has fought to preserve has begun to melt away. As the debate on the urgency of climate change polarizes the world and the intensity of natural disasters increases, Steger begins to face his own mortality alongside that of the planet.

The film won the Golden Gate Award at the 2021 San Francisco Film Festival. 


My Name Is Pauli Murray
Location:  Rosecliff Lawn, Newport
Directors: Julie Cohen and Betsy West
Distributor: Amazon Studios

Fifteen years before Rosa Parks refused to surrender her bus seat, a full decade before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned separate-but-equal legislation, Pauli Murray was already knee-deep fighting for social justice. A pioneering attorney, activist, priest and dedicated memoirist, Murray shaped landmark litigation—and consciousness— around race and gender equity. As an African American youth raised in the segregated South— who was also wrestling with broader notions of gender identity—Pauli understood, intrinsically, what it was to exist beyond previously accepted categories and cultural norms. Both Pauli’s personal path and tireless advocacy foreshadowed some of the most politically consequential issues of our time. Told largely in Pauli’s own words, My Name is Pauli Murray is a candid recounting of that unique and extraordinary journey.

The film premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.


Havana Libre
Location:  Morton Park, Newport
Director: Corey McLean 

In Cuba, where people fled en masse from Fidel Castro’s regime, surfing and other water activities have been banned for decades. Today, surfing exists in a murky legal gray area and is viewed with suspicion by the Cuban authorities. 

Despite these challenges, a group of passionate Cuban surfers is determined to carve out a place for surfing in the country’s culture of athletic excellence. Frank is the group’s de facto leader, and many regard to be the best surfer on the island. Yaya is a community leader and surfer who is determined to ensure that the next generation can surf freely. When surfing is announced as an official sport for the Tokyo Olympics, they see their chance to bring their sport out of the shadows and on to the world stage. What follows is a tale of underground surfers building their own boards from scratch, dodging the authorities as they travel the island looking for the perfect wave, and attempting to legitimize their passion by persuading the Cuban authorities to field an Olympic team. 

When Frank is invited to participate in a qualifier event out of the country, he must decide whether to compete, which would mean embarking on an illegal journey and risking permanent separation from his wife and newborn baby. Yaya is similarly torn when she is invited to participate in a surf symposium in Hawaii. Havana Libre is a story of people following their passion at great danger to themselves and ultimately begs the question: what would you risk to chase your dreams?

The film premiered as the Opening Night of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.