Category Archives: Film Festivals

Sound + Vision 2014 Overview

BeautifulNoise5Returning to the Film Society of Lincoln Center for a second year, Sound + Vision assembles 15 feature documentaries, three retrospective screenings, and several live performances in its celebration of music-focused nonfiction. Opening the series tomorrow, Thursday, July 31, is Eric Green’s BEAUTIFUL NOISE (pictured), a revisitation of late 1980s/early 1990s shoegazing bands like Cocteau Twins and The Jesus and Mary Chain, while Florian Habicht’s PULP, which follows the titular band’s final Sheffield concert, brings the event to a close on Wednesday, August 6.

windingOther new titles screening include: Tetsuaki Matsue’s FLASHBACK MEMORIES 3D, a profile of a semi-amnesiac Japanese didgeridoo player; Alejandro Franco’s FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK: THE STORY OF RODRIGO Y GABRIELA, about Mexican metal rockers-turned-Dublin street buskers; Javier Polo’s EUROPE IN 8 BITS, an exploration of the chipmusic phenomenon as it invades Europe; Kiley Kraskouskas’ THE LAST SONG BEFORE THE WAR, on Timbuktu’s annual Festival in the Desert; Petter Ringbom’s SHIELD AND SPEAR, a survey of the role of music in South African politics and society; and Beth Harrington’s THE WINDING STREAM (pictured), an engaging history of the influential and talented Carter and Cash families.

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In Theatres: RICH HILL

RichHill2Coming to theatres this Friday, August 1: RICH HILL

Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo’s vibrant portrait of impoverished life had its debut earlier this year at Sundance, where it won the US Documentary Grand Jury Prize. Screenings followed at Nantucket, True/False, Dallas, Cleveland, Wisconsin, Sarasota, and Ashland, among others.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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Traverse City 2014: Documentary Overview

tcff-1-2014Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival celebrates its first decade beginning today, Tuesday, July 29, with more than 200 films screening before its 10th anniversary edition wraps up this Sunday, August 3. Among these are more than fifty feature documentaries, largely offering the festival audience a look at some of the standout programming that premiered earlier in the year at notable fests like Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, and Hot Docs, as well as a smattering of premieres and largely undiscovered gems, noted below:

Meet-the-PatelsIn the first category are titles such as Geeta Patel and Ravi Patel’s funny, personal look at Indian matchmaking in America, MEET THE PATELS (pictured); Håvard Bustnes’ ridealong with unassuming senior activist agitators, TWO RAGING GRANNIES; Andrew Renzi’s meditation on modern-day Montana cowboys, FISHTAIL; Alan Hicks’ portrait of a musical mentor/mentee relationship, KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON; Luis Lopez and Clay Tweel’s look at the race to popularize 3D printing, PRINT THE LEGEND; and Kris Kaczor’s environmentally-focused chronicle of participatory democracy in New England, DIVIDE IN CONCORD.

Bending-the-Light-2Making its world premiere at the fest is Michael Apted’s celebration of the craft of lensmaking, BENDING THE LIGHT (pictured); while North American debuts include Vít Klusák and Filip Remunda’s GOOD DRIVER SMETANA, a portrait of an unlikely Czech activist; and Jeroen Van Velzen’s A GOAT FOR A VOTE, which follows three Kenyan teenagers as they run for class president. US Premieres include Dave Jannetta’s doc murder mystery, LOVE AND TERROR ON THE HOWLING PLAINS OF NOWHERE; and Joerg Burger’s existential experimental doc, FOCUS ON INFINITY. Other nonfiction titles taking the spotlight include Thomas A Morgan and Jack Henry Robbins’ profile of American homelessness, STORIED STREETS; Julianna Brannum’s portrait of an influential political activist, LADONNA HARRIS: INDIAN 101; and Robin Blotnick and Rachel Lears’ inspiring underdog story of unionizing undocumented NYC bakery workers, THE HAND THAT FEEDS.

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On Cable: LOVE CHILD

love childComing to HBO tonight, Monday, July 28: LOVE CHILD

Valerie Veatch’s look at a shocking case of parental negligence in South Korea had its world premiere at Sundance earlier this year. Other fest screenings have included Provincetown, Waterfront, and JeonJu, among others.

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

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On TV: FALLEN CITY

fallen cityComing to PBS’s POV tonight, Monday, July 28: FALLEN CITY

Qi Zhao’s exploration of the aftermath of a natural disaster had its premiere at IDFA in 2012. It went on to have its North American debut at Sundance, and also screened at DOXA, Belfast, Brisbane, LA Asian Pacific, and Boulder, among others.

I previously profiled the doc prior to Sundance here.

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NewFest 2014: Documentary Overview

newfest logoBeginning tonight, Thursday, July 24, NewFest brings six nights of LGBT cinema to NYC audiences for its 26th edition. While still maintaining its slim line-up of only 19 features and just over 20 shorts this year, I expect a re-expansion in the future as the event’s partnership with LA’s larger Outfest continues to develop.

WE_CAME_TO_SWEATblogFor now, the festival presents just four feature length nonfiction or hybrid projects: The world premiere of Kate Kunath and Sasha Wortzel’s WE CAME TO SWEAT: THE LEGEND OF STARLITE (pictured), on the impact of gentrification on NYC’s oldest African American gay bar; Todd Verow and Charles Lum’s AGE OF CONSENT, a history of London’s only gay fetish bar; Stefan Haupt’s THE CIRCLE, a hybrid portrait of Switzerland’s post-war gay underground; and Andrea James’ ALEC MAPA: BABY DADDY, the comedian’s one-man show about new fatherhood.

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Asian American International Film Festival 2014: Documentary Overview

Screen-Shot-2014-06-20-at-3.56.26-PMTomorrow, Thursday, July 24 kicks off the 37th edition of the longest-running event celebrating the work of Asian and Asian American filmmakers, AsianCinevision’s Asian American International Film Festival. Running through Saturday, August 2, AAIFF will present nineteen features, including six documentaries:

bringingtibethome02-770x433The Asian American nonfiction offerings this year are: Tenzin Tsetan Choklay’s BRINGING TIBET HOME (pictured), in which a Tibetan artist smuggles tons of Tibetan soil to the seat of Tibet-in-exile, Dharamsala; Dianne Fukami and Eli Olson’s STORIES FROM TOHOKU, following Japanese Americans on a mission to Japan to help in the aftermath of disaster; Steven de Castro’s FRED HO’S LAST YEAR, a tribute to the jazz composer in his vibrant final year of life; and Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson’s KUMU HINA, on an inspirational trans Native Hawaiian teacher.

lovehotel31-770x433Asian doc features screening this year are Philip Cox and Hikaru Toda’s THE LOVE HOTEL (pictured), about sex, intimacy, and commerce in conservative Osaka; and Christine Choy’s GHINA, a cross-cultural exploration of the growing presence and developmental influence of China in Ghana.

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In Theatres: ALIVE INSIDE

alive insideComing to theatres this Friday, July 18: ALIVE INSIDE: A STORY OF MUSIC & MEMORY

Michael Rossato-Bennett’s look at the restorative power of music debuted at Sundance this year, where it picked up an audience award. Its fest circuit has included Nantucket, Seattle, Big Sky, RiverRun, deadCenter, Nashville, Ptown, and Cleveland, among several others.

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

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In Theatres & On VOD: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL

battered bastardsComing to NYC and LA theatres and to VOD today, Friday, July 11: THE BATTERED BASTARDS OF BASEBALL

Chapman Way and Maclain Way’s look at an underdog independent baseball team premiered at Sundance earlier this year. It went on to screen at Tribeca and Los Angeles, among others. It now comes to Netflix, as well as NYC’s Village East and LA’s Laemmle’s Music Hall.

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

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Outfest 2014: Documentary Overview

www.outfestOne of the largest and most influential LGBT film festivals in the world, Outfest, opens its 32nd edition tonight, Thursday, July 10. Running through Sunday, July 20, the fest will bring scores of shorts and over 60 features to Los Angeles audiences, including more than 20 documentary features. Nonfiction takes a few prime slots, including the Gala Centerpiece, MY PRAIRIE HOME, Chelsea McMullan’s profile of Canadian trans musician Rae Spoon; Special Event TO BE TAKEI, Jennifer M Kroot’s portrait of the STAR TREK actor turned LGBT icon; and Platinum selection KATE BORNSTEIN IS A QUEER AND PLEASANT DANGER, Sam Feder’s look at the pioneering gender outlaw.

diorThe main program showcases the remainder of the event’s doc programming, a vibrant mix of recent new work, including, among others, portraits of notable LGBT figures like BACK ON BOARD: GREG LOUGANIS, Cheryl Furjanic’s look at the famed Olympic diver; I ALWAYS SAID YES: THE MANY LIVES OF WAKEFIELD POOLE, Jim Tushinski’s exploration of the life and career of the famed adult filmmaker; AN HONEST LIAR, Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom’s surprising biography of noted skeptic magician James “The Amazing” Randi; and DIOR AND I (pictured), Frederic Tcheng’s countdown to the unveiling of designer Raf Simons’ first collection for Christian Dior.

naomiOther doc offerings include Thomas G Miller’s LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, about America’s first legally married same-sex couple; Nicolas Videla and Camila Donoso’s NAOMI CAMPBEL, IT’S NOT EASY TO BECOME A DIFFERENT PERSON (pictured), a hybrid project exploring the life of a Chilean trans woman hoping to win a plastic surgery competition; and blair doroshwalther’s OUT IN THE NIGHT, which unpacks the truth behind an infamous case of a so-called lesbian gang attack in Greenwich Village.

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