The 23rd annual Hamptons International Film Festival kicks off five days of programming tomorrow, Thursday, October 8, screening approximately 75 features before it wraps on Monday, October 12. Those escaping the bustle of NYC for a getaway in the tony East End hamlets will have more than 30 documentary features to sample, as highlighted below: Continue reading
Category Archives: Documentary
Coming to VOD today, Tuesday, October 6: BALLET BOYS
Kenneth Elvebakk’s portrait of dancers’ dreams made its debut at Thessaloniki Doc last year. Its fest circuit also included Krakow, Edinburgh, Bergen, Reykjavik, Cucalorus, Palm Springs, IDFA, and Goteborg.
Elvebakk follows three teenagers – the only male dancers in their class – as they contemplate their commitment to ballet over four years. Torgeir is finding himself distracted by girls, Syvert struggles with balancing dance and academics, while Lukas is the most serious-minded about pursuing the artform as his career. While Elvebakk captures the grace and beauty of their performances, there’s a distinct lack of energy to the rest of the film. The boys’ friendship is appealing, but never quite developed beyond the surface to offer any deeper insight. Despite its pointedly gendered title, neither does the film address in any real depth issues related to being male in a discipline that overwhelmingly celebrates female dancers, nor how the trio navigates any potential flack they might conceivably receive from their non-dancer social circles.
Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, October 6: BATKID BEGINS
Dana Nachman’s retelling of the day a city made a little boy’s wish come true debuted at Slamdance this year. It also screened at Cleveland, Dallas, Ashland, Cinequest, and Bentonville, among others
After combatting leukemia, super-hero-obsessed five-year-old Miles Scott is given the opportunity by the Make-a-Wish Foundation to have his greatest dream realized: Becoming Batman – or, in this case, Batkid. When his dream goes viral, the foundation’s modestly elaborate plan attracts thousands of volunteers, effectively shutting down large parts of San Francisco to transform it into a Gotham City stage for the young boy’s daylong adventure. Beyond a fitting comic-book-themed animated sequence toward its beginning, Nachman’s starry-eyed film is fairly straightforward, combining after-the-fact interviews with planners and participants together with footage Make-a-Wish captured of Miles’ activities that day, all set to a relentless, upbeat score. The takeaway – voiced multiple times – is meant to be the inspirational way that everyone came together to help a little boy. Beyond the entire population of SF, from its mayor and chief of police, to its local sports team mascot, the rest of the world chimed in, including President Obama and composer Hans Zimmer, with additional messages of support from far-flung countries. It’s a a nice thought, but what’s left largely unsaid is how this groundswell actually takes over the day from the one person it really is meant to be about. While Miles initially seems game, if somewhat confused, not only does he basically get over the adventure halfway through the day, having to be coaxed to continue, but the various set-pieces seem designed more to appeal to the adults involved, and go over his head. In the end, even his mother isn’t really sure that he understood what happened – but everyone else sure feels good about it. Just like the horde that responded to the Batkid idea, it’s easy to get swept up in the self-congratulatory aspect of this often very sweet film rather than step back and question if this is really what Miles wanted.
Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, October 5: GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF
Alex Gibney’s exposé of the controversial organization debuted at Sundance this year. Other fest screenings have included True/False, Big Sky, Martha’s Vineyard, Camden, Zurich, Sydney, and New Zealand, among others.
I profiled the doc before Sundance here.
Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, October 6: MATEO
Aaron I Naar’s look at unlikely mariachi premiered at SXSW last year. Other fest screenings have included Hot Docs, Martha’s Vineyard, Sound+Vision, Camden, Hot Springs Doc, In-Edit, Cork, and Rotterdam, among others.
I previously wrote about the doc here.