On DVD: REVENGE OF THE MEKONS

Revenge-of-the-Mekons-Key-Image-Photo-by-Frank-Swider-580x300Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, July 28: REVENGE OF THE MEKONS

Joe Angio’s exploration of the enduring band had its world premiere at DOC NYC in 2013. Its fest circuit also included Cucalorus, Leeds, Milwaukee, DOXA, Sarasota, and In-Edit Barcelona, among others.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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Traverse City 2015: Documentary Overview

imgresThe Traverse City Film Festival returns for its 11th edition today, Tuesday, July 28, and runs through Sunday, August 2. As in previous editions, Michael Moore’s annual celebration of cinema – under the slogan “1 Great Movie Can Change You” – showcases an eclectic lineup of festival favorites, including more than fifty recent feature documentaries. While the majority of these made their debut within the last year at notable larger film events like Sundance, SXSW, Toronto, and Tribeca, the festival also spotlights several lesser-seen works and a few premieres, noted below:

brainwashing_of_my_dad_2These include Rick Prelinger’s YESTERDAY AND TOMORROW IN DETROIT 5, the noted film archivist’s latest look at Detroit’s history through discovered home movies; Michael Matheson Miller’s POVERTY, INC, which explores the hampering of development due to the modern charity industry; Sabina Guzzanti’s THE STATE-MAFIA PACT, a provocative, satirical exploration of the collusion between the Italian government and the mafia; Sabine Gruffat’s SPECULATION NATION, a look at Spanish citizen activism in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis; and Michael Webber and Bailey Webber’s THE STUDENT BODY, which follows a young filmmaker’s investigation into state sanctioned measures to body shame youth; Kuo-Liang Chiang and Chen Singing’s MOUNTAIN SPIRITS, a portrait of a Taiwanese master craftsman; and, screening as a work-in-progress, Jen Senko’s THE BRAINWASHING OF MY DAD (pictured), which explores the appeal of conservative media to older audiences.

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On Cable: MATT SHEPARD IS A FRIEND OF MINE

matt shepardComing to Logo as part of their Logo Documentary Films series tonight, Monday, July 27: MATT SHEPARD IS A FRIEND OF MINE

Michele Josue’s personal reflection on her fallen friend debuted at Mill Valley in 2013. Screenings followed at DOC NYC, IDFA, Cleveland, CNEX Taipei Doc, St Louis, Miami LGBT, Toronto’s Inside Out, and Russia’s Side by Side LGBT fests, among others.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On TV: CRIMINAL INJUSTICE: DEATH & POLITICS AT ATTICA

atticaComing to PBS’s WORLD Channel as part of its American Justice series today, Monday, July 27: CRIMINAL INJUSTICE: DEATH & POLITICS AT ATTICA

David Marshall’s investigation into the notorious 1971 prison rebellion debuted at the American Historians Association conference in New Orleans in 2013. Since then it has been broadcast on PBS stations in upstate New York and won regional Emmy Awards.

I previously profiled the project when it was still in the works. The finished film brings together witnesses and the families of victims from the prison takeover which turned into a massacre in order to reveal a forty-year cover-up. Excellent archival footage and contemporary media coverage of the four-day encounter place the audience in the moment, while modern-day interviews offer a retrospective analysis which often challenges the official stance on what was too flippantly labeled a “riot,” but was instead more of an organized political protest that was turned violent by state police and then blamed on the inmates. Of particular interest is the consideration of the role then New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s political ambitions played into his handling of the uprising, as well as that of President Richard Nixon’s desire to be viewed as “tough on crime.” Despite the strength of the archival material, the conventional and heavy talking heads approach taken detracts from the historical immersion and lends a flatness to the proceedings, robbing the project of the greater cinematic impact it might have had, though it remains affecting as a whole.

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Special Screening: PROPHET’S PREY

prophet's preyComing to LA’s ArcLight Documentary Series tomorrow, Tuesday, July 28: PROPHET’S PREY

Amy Berg’s exploration of a notorious cult leader made its debut at Sundance this year. Other fest screenings have included Sarasota, AFI Docs, Edinburgh, BAMcinemaFest, New Zealand, and Melbourne, among others.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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On TV: TEA TIME

tea timeComing to PBS’s POV tonight, Monday, July 27: TEA TIME

Maite Alberdi’s loving look at a group of longtime friends debuted at SANFIC last year. It went on to screen at IDFA, True/False, Miami, Ambulante, BAFICI, Doc Aviv, Seattle, Sydney, and Sheffield, among others.

Since they graduated from high school, a close group of Chilean women have hosted a small tea party once a month – for the past sixty years. One of these women is Maria Theresa, Alberdi’s grandmother, and the film’s primary guide to the proceedings. These lively meetings have sustained them through radical changes to their nation and to more personal changes to their lives, from marriages and divorces, to births and deaths, with seemingly the only constant being the enduring friendship and love between this tight circle. Shot over the course of several years which saw their own measure of change, as the friends have to confront sickness and aging among their own group, Alberdi’s film offers the viewer a place at the table to listen in to the gossip, recognize each woman’s quirks, and to be charmed by them all while witnessing the elaborate pastry spreads they’ve painstakingly organized.

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In Theatres & On VOD: A GAY GIRL IN DAMASCUS: THE AMINA PROFILE

amina profileComing to theatres and to VOD today, Friday, July 24: A GAY GIRL IN DAMASCUS: THE AMINA PROFILE

Sophie Deraspe’s look at the true story behind a controversial Syrian blog debuted at Sundance earlier this year. It has gone on to screen at Hot Docs, Biografilm, Dallas, IFF Boston, and at LGBT fests in San Francisco, Toronto, London, and Miami, among others. Sundance Selects now brings the films to theatres in limited release, while the SundanceNow Doc Club makes it available on VOD.

I previously wrote about the doc before Sundance here.

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