Available on DVD today, Tuesday, December 3: THE STONE ROSES: MADE OF STONE
Shane Meadows’ love letter to the eponymous band debuted in their hometown of Manchester this past Spring. It went on to screen theatrically in the UK, Ireland, the US, and Canada, and to screen at fests in Sydney, Athens, Karlovy Vary, and Tokyo.
I previously wrote about the doc upon its theatrical release here.
Available on DVD today, Tuesday, December 3: BUYING SEX
Kent Nason and Teresa MacInnes’ expansive consideration of sex work had its debut at Hot Docs this past Spring. It went on to screen at additional Canadian fests, including Atlantic, Victoria, and the St John’s International Women’s Film Festival.
I previously wrote about the film out of Hot Docs here.
Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, December 3: SMASH & GRAB: THE STORY OF THE PINK PANTHERS
Havana Marking’s investigation into an infamous gang of jewel thieves had its world premiere at IDFA last year. Its fest circuit has also included Sheffield, East End, Ireland’s Stranger Than Fiction, Zagreb, and Dubai, and the film was released theatrically this Summer.
I included the doc in my IDFA coverage here.
Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, December 3: MR ANGEL
Dan Hunt’s portrait of FTM porn star and activist Buck Angel had its world premiere at SXSW earlier this year. It’s gone on to screen at Brooklyn, Rio, and at LGBT fests in Paris, Hamburg, Copenhagen and Atlanta, among others.
I included the doc in my SXSW coverage here.
Now available on VOD: LA CAMIONETA
Mark Kendall’s look at the journey of one school bus from the US to Guatemala had its debut at SXSW last year. Other fest berths included DOC NYC, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Denver, DocsDF, Big Sky, Nashville, Guadalajara, Cleveland, and It’s All True, among others. It’s now available on iTunes.
I previously wrote about the doc out of SXSW here.
The director of HOOP DREAMS and THE INTERRUPTERS profiles the man who popularized film criticism in the United States.
Steve James’ latest project tells the story of Roger Ebert, who, with fellow Chicago critic Gene Siskel, became unlikely celebrities through their weekly television show reviewing movie releases. While their rating system, “Two Thumbs Up,” quickly became familiar to even the most casual filmgoer, the pair’s reviews on air and in print demonstrated a deep love of cinema. After Siskel’s untimely death in 1999, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Ebert continued their show, becoming the most recognizable and influential film critic in the country. A familiar face at film festivals, often in the company of his beloved wife Chaz, and an active presence online, he struggled with various cancer diagnoses for more than a decade before passing away earlier this year. Based on Ebert’s titular memoir, James details the critic’s life and work, drawing on an impressive range of interview subjects, from the film’s executive producer Martin Scorsese to other directors Ebert championed, from Errol Morris to Ava DuVernay. Continue reading
Coming to NYC’s Mayles Cinema as part of the Doc Watchers series this coming Monday, December 2: THE CONTRADICTIONS OF FAIR HOPE
S Epatha Merkerson and Rockell Metcalf’s thought-provoking exploration of a Southern African American mutual aid association and its eyebrow-raising present-day activities had its world premiere at the San Diego Black Film Festival last year. Its fest circuit has included Chicago’s Black Harvest, Annapolis, BronzeLens, Langston Hughes, Pan African, and the San Francisco, Montreal, Newark, Texas, and American Black Film Festivals, among others.
Merkerson and Metcalf’s directorial debut reveals the largely forgotten history and crucial role of benevolent societies in African American communities after the Civil War – community organizations that worked together to provide financial and social services for one another in times of need, typically formed as a response to the absence of governmental support. Mutual aid associations like Alabama’s Fair Hope Benevolent Society, the focus of the film, promoted black self-reliance and community cooperation for decades, feeding their hungry, caring for their sick, and burying their dead. But even as the filmmakers delved into the rich traditions and untold stories of the group, they learned about how one of their signature events, the Foot Wash, had changed in disturbing ways over time. For the past half-century, what began as a low-key Benevolent Society reunion has morphed into a raucous three-day carnival that profits on decadence and debauchery, with prostitution and drugs rampant. Unflinchingly chronicling its present-day state, Merkerson and Metcalf question how this change came to pass, and what the cultural, sociological, and even psychological impact is of a community ignoring its history and traditions.
Coming to NYC’s Cinema Village today, Friday, November 29: SHORED UP
Ben Kalina’s look at coastal communities in the face of climate change debuted earlier this year at Montclair. It’s gone on to screen at DOXA, SF Green, Provincetown, and Sidewalk, among several other engagements, as well as to cable on DirecTV.
Kalina’s focus is on beach replenishment – where massive quantities of sand are re-introduced to coastlines that have suffered erosion – and its efficacy, or lack thereof, exploring how the US Army Corps of Engineers are fighting a seemingly neverending (and futile) battle, in part, to allow people to live on steadily vanishing beaches. Despite maps from decades ago providing stark evidence of the vanishing barrier islands along the Jersey Shore, (over)development continues, driven by real estate profit. In North Carolina, politicians are more than willing to bury their heads in the (vanishing) sands, banning the discussion of sea level rise so they can overturn environmental protections that have slowed development. The film was nearing completion when Superstorm Sandy made landfall, destroying communities and costing lives just over a year ago. In response, Kalina was able to integrate footage about its devastating aftermath, making it one of the first feature docs to cogently address the disaster and call for solutions to help prevent similar future recurrences.
New York’s African Diaspora International Film Festival, one of the oldest events focusing on filmmaking by and about the people of Africa and the African Diaspora, enters its third decade beginning this Friday, November 29 and continuing through Sunday, December 15. The 21st edition of the fest brings over 70 films to audiences, including more than thirty documentary features made up of both new films and little seen retrospective programming. Special programming strands explore Afro-Brazilian, Haitian, Jamaican, and other Caribbean themes, with films representing 35 countries on offer.
The Gala nonfiction presentations include: Pratibha Parmar’s ALICE WALKER: BEAUTY IN TRUTH, an insightful portrait of the acclaimed author/activist; Centerpiece YOUTHS OF SHASHA, Emanuele Cicconi’s look at the musically talented but unsupported youths in an Ethiopian village; Joel Zito Araújo and Megan Mylan’s RACE (RAÇA), showcasing three black Brazilians who make a stand for equal rights and representation; and Closing Night film SPIES OF MISSISSIPPI (pictured), Dawn Porter’s intriguing tale of a state-funded covert spy agency fighting integration during the height of the Civil Rights struggle.
Among the other recent documentary offerings are: Ada M Babino’s I DON’ BEEN THROUGH THE SNAKE’S SKIN & COME OUT CLEAN (pictured), about the perspective and knowledge passed down by a long-lived Louisiana couple to their children and grandchildren; Nevline Nnaji’s REFLECTIONS UNHEARD: BLACK WOMEN IN CIVIL RIGHTS, a reclamation of the unheralded influence of women within the black power and feminist movements; James Brown’s RED, WHITE, BLACK & BLUE, which follows a South Central Los Angeles rugby team to a competition in New Zealand; Tukufu Zuberi’s AFRICAN INDEPENDENCE, a wide-ranging look at the history and struggles of post-colonial governance in Africa; Jaime Otero’s A COMMON ENEMY, about the first free elections after Tunisia’s Arab Spring; Joseph Hillel’s AYITI TOMA, THE LAND OF THE LIVING, a complex consideration of Haiti’s demonized voudou culture and historical exploitation by outsiders; and Valerie Scoon’s GRENADA: COLONIALISM AND CONFLICT, on the dark legacy of the Caribbean island nation’s colonial past.
Coming to DVD next Tuesday, December 3: GOOD OL’ FREDA
Ryan White’s portrait of the woman behind the Beatles made its debut at SXSW this Spring. Other stops on the fest circuit included Hot Docs, San Francisco, Cleveland, Full Frame, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, DocAviv, and Dallas, among others, before a limited theatrical and VOD release this Fall.
I previously wrote about the film out of SXSW here.