In Theatres: AN HONEST LIAR

honest liarComing to theatres this Friday, March 6: AN HONEST LIAR

Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom’s portrait of a famed paranormal debunker bowed at Tribeca last year. It went on to screen at Nantucket, Hot Docs, AFI Docs, and Outfest, among other fests.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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True/False 2015 Overview

true falseBeginning tomorrow, Thursday, March 5, the 12th edition of the True/False Film Festival takes over Columbia MO through the weekend. More than forty features figure in the popular destination event’s programming, representing an eclectic cross-section of brand new work, recent Sundance titles, standouts from the past Fall’s European festivals like IDFA, CPH:DOX, and elsewhere, several “secret screenings” that offer attendees sneak previews of upcoming debuts, and works on the border of fiction and nonfiction, as featured in the event’s Neither/Nor series. I’m looking forward to returning to the festival again, with the below highlights foremost on my watch list: Continue reading

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On TV: NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE

NO-EVIDENCE-OF-DISEASE-4Coming to the WORLD Channel’s Strength of Women series tonight, Wednesday March 4: NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE

Andrea Kalin’s look at a rock band’s efforts to spread awareness of cancer has been screening around the country via TUGG since 2013, and has appeared in events including the Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival, Awareness Film Festival, Cinequest, and Australia’s Big Picture Film Festival. The film screened nationwide and in Canada on February 4 in commemoration of World Cancer Day.

While most people are aware of breast cancer and its devastating impact, much less attention has been placed on the various forms of GYN cancer that claim the lives of thousands each year. The members of NED – which stands for No Evidence of Disease, a term for remission – do their part to change that, not only by performing benefit concerts and incorporating survivors into their shows, but notably through their day jobs: The six members of the band are gynecological oncologists, specialists in treating ovarian, cervical, labial, and uterine cancers. Kalin profiles each of the doctor bandmates, as well as several courageous patients, but the heart of her intimate and inspirational film is the solitary female physician, Joanie, NED’s compelling lead singer.

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Tribeca 2015: Competition & Viewpoints Lineups Announced

tribecaThe Tribeca Film Festival has just announced the films in its World Narrative Competition, World Documentary Competition, and Viewpoints section. The remaining features from the Spotlight, Midnight, and Special sections will be revealed this Thursday, March 5. Of the 51 titles revealed today, 23 are documentaries, noted below: Continue reading

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In Theatres: GREY GARDENS

Coming to NYC’s Film Forum this Friday, March 6: GREY GARDENS

Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde, and Muffie Meyer’s seminal portrait of an unforgettable mother and daughter bowed in 1975 at the New York Film Festival. It went on to screen at Cannes and Toronto the following year, and is recognized as a classic of nonfiction filmmaking. The film now returns to theatres in a newly restored version for its 40th anniversary.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: THE BRIDGE

bridgeComing back to DVD today, Tuesday, March 3: THE BRIDGE

Eric Steel’s controversial exploration of Golden Gate Bridge suicides made its debut at Tribeca in 2006. It went on to screen at San Francisco, London, Sarajevo, Chicago, and Havana, among others. Initially released on DVD in 2007, Kino Lorber re-releases it now.

After reading that San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge was the most popular site in the world for suicide jumpers, Steel set out to document a year of the bridge, setting up cameras more than a mile away and shooting the expanse of the structure for the entirety of 2004. During this period, they caught several suicides and suicide attempts on film, a selection of which are shown here, accompanied by interviews with family members, friends, and witnesses who provide what background they can on why these individuals made the choice to end their own lives. Additionally, they speak with Kevin Hines, who suffers from bipolar disorder and survived an earlier jump – a rare occurrence as noted here. Steel was criticized for lying on his film permit application about the focus of his film, and even more so for including footage of the suicides he captured on film, with some suggesting he would encourage copycats, and others simply calling the project a snuff film in disguise. Despite these charges of voyeurism and exploitation, the film exposes the deep discomfort around the subject of suicide. As strangers are viewed walking along the bridge, the audience watches with dread as individuals linger, fearful that they may hop over the unprotected railing and fling themselves into the water below. While it’s a relief when this doesn’t happen, it’s still an uncomfortable shock every time it does. Steel’s interviews with survivors reveal something of the jumpers’ lives – and suffering – helping to humanize the disturbing statistics and draw awareness to the underlying issues of depression and other psychological problems that our society still doesn’t want to fully face.

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Special Screening: THE FARM: ANGOLA, USA

The-Farm-530x317Coming to NYC’s Stranger Than Fiction series tomorrow, Tuesday, March 3: THE FARM: ANGOLA, USA

Jonathan Stack and Liz Garbus’ exploration of life and death in the notorious Louisiana prison debuted at Sundance in 1998, where it won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize. Its festival run also included San Francisco, Full Frame, Santa Barbara, and Florida, among several others. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and won two Emmy Awards.

Stack and Garbus, working with co-director Wilbert Rideau, then a death row inmate at Angola and the editor of the prison’s investigative journalism magazine, profile the lives of six other inmates in what is know as the country’s largest and most dangerous maximum-security prisons, once the site of a large slave plantation named after the African nation from which its labor was procured. Ranging from first timers just arriving to serve out their sentence to forty-year veterans, the men candidly discuss the realities of life behind bars as they reveal the circumstances that brought them there and the ways they’ve coped with the realization that, for 85% of its population, Angola will be their last stop before death – whether by execution or other causes. Starkly addressing the latter statistic, one subject, convicted for murdering his wife, is followed in his last months as he succumbs to lung cancer, while another man, who has already served 20 years of a 100 year sentence for rape, doggedly maintains his innocence but is perfunctorily denied parole consideration despite credible doubt. While the filmmakers don’t sugarcoat the crimes that many of their subjects have committed and admitted to, they powerfully point out the hypocrisy and injustice of a system that denies even the possibility of the rehabilitation that it’s supposed to support – rehabilitation that is demonstrable in several of the men whose stories they follow here, but who are doomed to live out the rest of their days behind bars.

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