Abu Dhabi 2014: Documentary Overview

abu_dhabi_international_film_festival_logoOne of the United Arab Emirates’ key film events, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, celebrates its 8th year starting tonight, Thursday, October 23, and running through Saturday, November 1. With programming that balances the regional debuts of films that have already garnered acclaim at key international events like Cannes and Sundance with new work from the Arab world, the festival offers scores of shorts and nearly 90 features, of which just over two dozen are nonfiction, many of which are noted below.

piratesAmong the Documentary Feature Competition entries with UAE production support presented are: Samir’s IRAQI ODYSSEY, a personal, 3D chronicle of five decades of family dislocation; Merieme Addou and Rosa Rogers’ PIRATES OF SALÉ (pictured), about a circus set in a Moroccan slum; Yasmin Fedda’s QUEENS OF SYRIA, in which Syrian refugee women perform an updated version of THE TROJAN WOMEN; Nujoom Al Ghanem’s SOUNDS OF THE SEA, following an old singer in his quest to sing folklore to local fishermen; and Nadine Salib’s MOTHER OF THE UNBORN, a portrait of an Egyptian woman stigmatized because of her inability to become pregnant.

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Jihlava 2014 Overview

jihlava logoOne of the largest nonfiction events in Europe, the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, launches its 18th edition tonight, Thursday, October 23. More than 70 documentary features will screen through the end of the festival, next Tuesday, October 28. While I’ve never attended, the event has drawn praise from international fest organizers for its eclectic approach to nonfiction programming. Following are some highlights of new work from this year’s lineup. Continue reading

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Margaret Mead 2014 Overview

mead_2014_cover_final_formosaic_880x692_mosaic_fullThis year’s Margaret Mead Film Festival, its 38th edition, opens tomorrow, Thursday, October 23, with THE LAST PATROL, Sebastian Junger’s study of the impact of war on soldiers and war correspondents. Before it wraps on Sunday, October 26, the festival – the longest-running doc event in the US – will present more than 30 features, in addition to shorts, panels, and interactive installations at the American Museum of Natural History. The following offers a spotlight on some of these: Continue reading

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In Theatres & On VOD: E-TEAM

e-teamComing to theatres today, Wednesday, October 22 and to Netflix this Friday, October 24: E-TEAM

Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman’s profile of intrepid human rights abuses investigators had its world premiere at Sundance this January, where the film claimed the US Documentary Excellence in Cinematography Award. The film has gone on to screen at Nantucket, True/False, Full Frame, Hot Docs, Dokufest Kosovo, Sheffield, Montclair, the upcoming CPH:DOX, and DOC NYC as part of the Short List.

My pre-Sundance profile of the doc may be found here.

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On DVD: NUCLEAR NATION

nuclearComing to DVD today, Tuesday, October 21: NUCLEAR NATION

Atsushi Finahashi’s look at life after Fukushima had its debut at Berlin in 2012. It went on to screen at Hong Kong, Zurich, Edinburgh, and Seoul’s Green Film Festival, among others.

Trimmed considerably from its significantly longer festival form, Finahashi’s simple but at times affecting film details the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear power plan disaster in microcosm, focusing on the nearby town of Futaba. Thanks to their mayor, Katsutaka Idogawa, Futaba’s residents were evacuated, ending up at an abandoned high school on the outskirts of Tokyo. As the film begins, more than 1400 of these nuclear refugees are stoically facing their new situation, receiving food and communal accommodations, yet still waiting for word from the government and an apology they can believe from Tepco, the power company responsible for the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Checking in every season for a year, the director reveals their dwindling numbers, as more than half move out to start new lives rather than remain in limbo. Beyond Mayor Idogawa, whose sense of powerlessness competes with a subsurface anger and feelings of betrayal, having trusted in the economic benefits of nuclear power for his town, the film also follows families coping with the loss of loved ones and possessions, underscored most poignantly in a sequence midway through the film when residents are allowed back to their homes for two hours to collect keepsakes, and briefly checks in with a local farmer who insists on feeding surviving cows in the contaminated zone, unwilling to let them starve to death like so many other livestock.

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On DVD: RUNNING FROM CRAZY

running from crazyComing to DVD today, Tuesday, October 21: RUNNING FROM CRAZY

Barbara Kopple’s exploration of mental illness in a famous family debuted at Sundance last year. It also screened at Sundance London, Tribeca, Nantucket, Hamptons, Cleveland, Camden, Full Frame, and Sarasota, among others.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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On DVD/VOD: URANIUM DRIVE-IN

Uranium-Drive-In-Key-Image-280x140Coming to DVD and VOD today, Tuesday, October 21: URANIUM DRIVE-IN

Suzan Beraza’s exploration of a community divided bowed at Telluride’s Mountainfilm last year. Its fest circuit has included DOC NYC, Denver, Washington DC’s Environmental fest, Big Sky, St Louis, and the United Nations Association fest, among others.

I previously wrote about the film here.

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