New to VOD this week: ALL THE WAY THROUGH EVENING
Rohan Spong’s made its debut in NYC on World AIDS Day in December 2011. Other screenings have included Dublin Gaze and Birmingham Shout!, and special events in Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, and throughout Australia, as well as a theatrical run in NYC this past December. FilmBuff made the doc available via iTunes and Amazon Instant Video earlier this week.
Since the early 1990s, quintessential downtown New Yorker Mimi Stern-Wolfe has organized annual music concerts celebrating the work of composers lost to AIDS. Featuring often unknown, unrecorded, and forgotten pieces, these tributes serve as one of the only ways for audiences to connect with a whole generation of creative, talented men often cut down in their prime. Spong profiles Stern-Wolfe as she rehearses for her latest concert, but gives ample time to performances both past and present, weaving in remembrances of some of the late musicians through family, friends, and partners. While the film has a modest look, it conveys an appropriate intimacy and heartfulness as it demonstrates one woman’s quiet, elegaic mission of remembrance.
Coming to DVD next Tuesday, March 11: THE LEGEND OF COOL “DISCO” DAN
Joseph Pattisall’s urban anthropology of Washington DC through the profile of a graffiti artist made its debut at Silver Spring’s AFI Silver Theatre last January. It went on to screen at additional special engagements in Washington DC, LA, San Diego, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Baltimore, among other cities.
In the 1980s, a Washington DC resident would be hard-pressed not to know who Cool “Disco” Dan was – his tag was ubiquitous, fueling speculation as to his identity and ability to reach so many locations. Filmmaker Pattisall tells Dan’s story – in reality a quiet African American teenager who turned to street art instead of other vices in order to make a name for himself – but, perhaps recognizing that, ultimately, there isn’s a great deal to it in a vacuum, expands his scope to contextualize Dan within the larger DC black culture of the era, and, specifically, go go music culture, a genre unique to the community based on live performances, bootleg tapes, and neighborhood crews. It’s in this greater exploration that the film proves most fascinating, detailing how this small music subgenre fell prey to racially-motivated police crackdowns, ultimately paving the way for the growth of gangs and drug warfare.
Now on VOD: MAIDENTRIP
Jillian Schlesinger’s story of a teenage girl sailing around the world had its world premiere at SXSW last year, where it won an audience award. Other fest screenings included Hot Docs, Nantucket, Full Frame, Citizen Jane, Antenna, Vancouver, Sarasota, and Camden, and the film was released theatrically in January. FilmBuff now releases the film exclusively on iTunes, with other platforms to follow later this month.
I previously wrote about the doc out of SXSW here.
Now available on VOD: GIDEON’S ARMY
Dawn Porter’s look at the daunting work of public defenders made its debut at Sundance last year, winning an editing award. It went on to screen at DOC NYC, Nantucket, Miami, Full Frame, Ashland, Little Rock, AFI Docs, Martha’s Vineyard, Heartland, Human Rights Watch, and at various legal conferences. It was released on VOD by the Orchard earlier this week as part of its new Opus Docs channel.
I profiled the doc before Sundance here.
Available on DVD, VOD, and direct download: KISS THE WATER
Eric Steel’s artful elegy to a reclusive master craftswoman made its debut at Tribeca last year. It went on to screen at Vancouver, the Hamptons, Edinburgh, Big Sky, Princeton Environmental, Woods Hole, and St Louis, among others. The doc recently became available via direct download. The DVD was released in January and the film is also available on VOD via iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube, and Vimeo.
I included the doc in my Tribeca coverage here.
SXSW kicks off tomorrow, Friday, March 7, and runs through Sunday, March 16. Between attending True/False (post to come) and working on programming Nantucket, I have been remiss in highlighting this year’s documentary line-up in any depth. As I’ve noted before, my annual pilgrimage to Austin feels like a rite of Spring, a week of typically warm weather that preps me for the eventual thawing out of a NYC seemingly caught in an endless polar vortex. While I’ll be checking out as many of the offerings, fiction and nonfiction alike, for Nantucket, my heart remains with the latter, so I’m especially interested in the fifty feature docs that are included in this year’s lineup. Selections from each section are highlighted below. Continue reading
Coming to theatres today, Wednesday, March 5: PARTICLE FEVER
Filmmaker and former physicist Mark Levinson’s look at the launch of the Large Hadron Collider made its debut at Sheffield last year. It went on to screen at the New York Film Festival, Telluride, Vancouver, CPH:DOX, Bergen, Duba, Palm Springs, and True/False, among others.
The Large Hadron Collider, built over a ten-year span by CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), is the biggest particle collider in the world, a device to help particle physicists conduct experiments to better understand the workings of the universe. This massive undertaking takes center stage in Levinson’s doc, as the film follows several scientists in the lead-up and completion of the device and its primary goal in finally proving or disproving the existence of the much-written-about Higgs boson, otherwise known as the “God particle.” In showcasing what is essentially the world’s largest science experiment, Levinson smartly uses his subjects, like producer and physicist David Kaplan, to inject humor and humanity into what might otherwise initially seem too complex or special interest to resonate with a general audience. To the contrary, this well-crafted doc – edited by the acclaimed Walter Murch – proves fascinating, offering viewers up-close access to the spectacle of the LHC and the cutting edge research being conducted there, culminating in a genuinely moving climax that should prove inspirational whatever the viewer’s science background.