As with my recent Tribeca roundups, I’m going to continue my attempt to catch up on festival coverage with a series of posts this week on Hot Docs, which wrapped up its 20th anniversary edition earlier this month. I previously wrote about AMERICAN COMMUNE, THE GHOSTS IN OUR MACHINE, I WILL BE MURDERED, and RIVER in a festival dispatch for Indiewire here, but am planning to share my thoughts on more then thirty more films. This post covers docs featured in the two competition sections, International Spectrum and Canadian Spectrum. The winners of the former included: Best International Feature Documentary to DRAGON GIRLS, Special Jury Prize to CLOUDY MOUNTAINS, HBO Documentary Films Emerging Artist Award to 12 O’CLOCK BOYS, and Best Mid-Length Documentary to THE CIRCLE. Continue reading
Category Archives: Film Festivals
The 39th edition of the Seattle International Film Festival began this past Thursday, May 16 and runs through Sunday, June 9, making it among the longest and biggest film festivals in the world. With a huge lineup which mixes a number of world and North American premieres with standouts from films that have recently debuted at other major fests like Toronto, Berlin, Sundance, and SXSW, the event has plenty to offer Seattle cinephiles. This includes a robust nonfiction component, with nearly 70 documentary features as part of its 200 strong feature program, including its high profile Centerpiece gala slot, Sundance alum TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM. This year, I’ve been serving as a documentary programming consultant to the festival, so I’ll be attending for about a week at the end of the month. Highlighted below are a number of new docs to check out from the different sections of the festival: Continue reading
This post wraps up my coverage of Tribeca with a look at eight docs from the festival’s Spotlight section, a programming strand meant to straddle indie and mainstream sensibilities. I should note that Spotlight included two additional docs that I didn’t get a chance to watch – GASLAND PART II and IN GOD WE TRUST – and a couple whose subject matter just didn’t pique my interest enough to watch – MCCONKEY and THE MOTIVATION. Continue reading
Continuing my belated roundup of last month’s Tribeca Film Festival, this post covers the fest’s high profile Gala slots and the catch-all Special Screenings, which includes several of the ESPN Sports Film Festival sidebar. One additional post will follow later this week covering the Spotlight section. Continue reading
The twelfth edition of NYC’s Tribeca Film Festival came to a close just over two weeks ago, but my back-to-back travel schedule has delayed my roundup until now – as it is, I’m writing this from my Reykjavik hotel room with spotty Internet. While readers have likely already noted Tribeca’s awards, for the sake of comprehensiveness, the doc winners included: Best Documentary to THE KILL TEAM, with a Special Mention to OXYANA, which also received the jury award for Best New Documentary Director; Best Editing to LET THE FIRE BURN (pictured); Tribeca (Online) Best Feature to LIL BUB & FRIENDZ; and Documentary Audience Award to BRIDEGROOM. I managed to miss the two bookending award winners, but cover OXYANA and LET THE FIRE BURN below, which covers docs from the Competition and Viewpoints categories, with LIL BUB in a follow up post that includes the Gala, Spotlight, and Special Screenings sections. Continue reading
The 66th edition of the Festival de Cannes begins this Wednesday, May 15, and runs through Sunday, May 26. Independently organized side events, Directors’ Fortnight and International Critics’ Week, begin Thursday and end on Sunday and Friday, respectively. Frankly speaking, Cannes doesn’t embrace nonfiction. Out of the nearly hundred feature films presented this year, only twleve are docs, and, of those, three are retrospective works. Defenders crow about the organizers’ discerning eyes, but I refuse to believe that there are fewer than a dozen new documentaries out there that are strong and worthy of the platform that these events could provide. At the same time, doc makers know that Cannes isn’t really a place that regularly champions nonfiction the way it does fiction, so perhaps they keep the cycle going by not bothering to submit. That said, here’s a brief overview of the ones that will be screened this month:
Four are part of Cannes’ Official Selection. None are part of the Competition, but one is in Un Certain Regard: Rithy Panh’s meditation on the Khmer Rouge, L’IMAGE MANQUANTE (THE MISSING PICTURE). Another is Out of Competition: Documentary master Claude Lanzmann’s LE DERNIER DES INJUSTES (THE LAST OF THE UNJUST) (pictured), a revisitation of the director’s 1975 interviews with the last President of the Jewish Council of Elders in Czechoslovakia’s Theresienstadt ghetto, and a return to the Theresienstadt in 2012 to explore its past. The final two docs are part of the Special Screenings: James Toback’s SEDUCED AND ABANDONED, a meta-doc about veteran filmmakers and actors attending last year’s Cannes and seeking support for their next projects; and Frank Simon’s rarely-seen film from 1971, WEEKEND OF A CHAMPION, in which the film’s producer, Roman Polanski, spends a weekend with Formula 1 racing champion Jackie Stewart – who have an onscreen reunion for a forty-year-later postscript.
Another five titles are part of Cannes’ special Cannes Classics selections. Three are in the utilitarian named “Documentaries” sidebar: Diego Galán’s CON LA PATA QUEBRADA (pictured), on nine decades of women in Spanish cinema; Mark Cousins’ A STORY OF CHILDREN & FILM, an essay film about the interplay of childhood and cinema; and Treva Wurmfeld’s SHEPARD & DARK, which premiered at Toronto last year, but which was produced by Joanne Woodward, subject of this year’s festival poster. Of the fest’s twenty “Restored Prints,” two are docs: Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme’s 1963 LE JOLI MAI (THE LOVELY MONTH OF MAY), which consists of interviews with Parisians just after the end of the Algerian War; and Youri Ozerov, Milos Forman, Mai Zetterling, Claude Lelouch, Arthur Penn, Michael Pfleghar, John Schlesinger, and Kon Ichikawa’s 1973 VISIONS OF EIGHT, an omnibus portrait of the 1972 Munich Olympics, which went on to win the Golden Globe for Best Documentary in 1974.
There are only three films in the parallel events – all in Directors’ Fortnight, none in International Critics’ Week. Frank Pavich’s JODOROWSKY’S DUNE (pictured), a look at the doomed 1974 adaptation of the scifi novel by the renowned Chilean/French director; Marcel Ophuls’ UN VOYAGEUR (AIN’T MISBEHAVIN), the reflections of the director on cinema and his collaborators; and Kaveh Bakhtiari’s L’ESCALE, a personal exploration of the experiences of a group of undocumented Iranians in Athens.
Kirby Dick’s candid investigation into rape in the US military made its debut at Sundance last year, picking up an audience award. It went on to screen at Full Frame, Dallas, San Francisco, Human Rights Watch, Los Angeles, and Hot Docs, among others. It was nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar following its theatrical release.
I wrote about the film before Sundance here.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Planete + Doc Film Festival opens this Friday, May 10 in Warsaw, expanding to Wroclaw on Sunday, May 12, and continuing in both cities through Sunday, May 19. One of Poland’s signature cinema events, the festival screens over 100 feature docs, in addition to shorts, panels, masterclasses, music events, and family programming. Ten competitions totaling over 20,000 Euros will be presented, along with awards with names like Chopin’s Nose (music docs), Green Cross (ecology docs), and Magic Hour (mid-lengths) in addition to audience awards and the like. Programming is organized around fifteen thematic sections, which include three retro series on the films of Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, Canada’s Peter Mettler, and Russia’s Sergei Loznitsa. Here are some of my picks of new or unfamiliar films from the remaining twelve sections: Continue reading
Tomorrow, Wednesday, May 8 sees the launch of the 28th edition of DOK.fest Munich, the second largest doc event in Germany. Running through Wednesday, May 15, the festival includes over a hundred titles, many vying for the more than 35,000 Euros in cash and in-kind prizes, ranging for jury awards for best international, German language, and emerging country films to best Bavarian, student, and music docs. The programming reflects a balance between higher-profile selections that have emerged elsewhere on the festival circuit to a healthy assortment of new or more obscure titles, including an intriguing mix of local productions, as well as a retrospective of Werner Herzog’s work. While I’m not attending, the following section overview represents some of the feature docs I’d check out: Continue reading
Coming to NYC this Friday, May 10 and expanding to Los Angeles and beyond next Friday, May 17: STORIES WE TELL
Sarah Polley’s look at mysteries within her own family debuted at Venice last year. Its fest circuit has included Telluride, Toronto, Sundance, True/False, and New Directors/New Films, among others.
I wrote about the film before Sundance here.