Category Archives: Overviews

Tribeca 2015: Additional Programming Announced

tribecaFollowing Tuesday’s announcement of the bulk of this year’s programming, the Tribeca Film Festival today revealed the films in its Spotlight, Midnight, Special Screenings, and Works In Progress sections. The latest announcement brings the total of feature documentaries to be presented at this year’s festival to 45, which includes previously announced opening night selection LIVE FROM NEW YORK!, Bao Nguyen’s exploration of the long-running SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The documentary titles unveiled today are noted below: Continue reading

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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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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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ZagrebDox 2015 Overview

zagrebdox_logoThe 11th edition of Croatia’s premier nonfiction event, ZagrebDox, begins this Sunday, February 22, and continues through Sunday, March 1. The festival annually showcases nearly one hundred new and retrospective feature documentaries, in addition to shorts, masterclasses, panels, and a pitching forum. Its programming lineup includes a healthy mix of international work that has already debuted on the festival circuit, and has been covered here previously, as well new regional work, which makes up the bulk of the following overview:

russianOf the fest’s two competitions, Regional and International, there are more new titles that catch my eye in the former, including: Goran Stanković’s meditation on the lives of Serbian miners, IN THE DARK; Damir Ibrahimović and Eldar Emrić’s hybrid psychological profile of a Russian mafioso, RUSSIAN (pictured); Hrvoje Mabić’s look at a lesbian couple’s attempts to deal with past trauma, SICK; and Eva Kraljević’s portrait of her sister with Down’s syndrome, I LIKE THAT SUPER MOST THE BEST.

jettThe non-competitive Official Programme consists of nine thematic sections, including Biography Dox, which features films like Marcus Vetter and Karin Steinberger’s THE FORECASTER, on a prescient American economic analyst, and Lorenzo Cioffi and Alessandro De Toni’s RUSTAM CASANOVA – LIFE OF AN ARTIST, about a chameleon-like opera singer; Controversial Dox, featuring work like Aleksandar Nikolić’s THE SERBIAN LAWYER, which focuses on an attorney struggling to defend former enemies, and Karim B Haroun’s MYSTIC MASS, detailing a massive Shia Muslim ritual; Happy Dox, such as Oscar Pérez’s THE FINAL STRETCH, about a small Spanish village facing crisis; Teen Dox, which includes August Baugstø Hanssen’s profile of a borderline personality disorder sufferer, IDA’S DIARY, Alexandra Likhacheva’s look at modern Russia through the eyes of two disaffected young people, LONG.BLACK.CLOUD IS COMING DOWN, and Linda Hakeboom’s portrait of a Dutch rockstar poised for international celebrity, WHO THE FUCK IS JETT REBEL (pictured); as well as strands on global music, current affairs, documentary auteurs’ latest work, and factual programming.

fest of dutyZagrebDox’s Special Programme this year consists of two focus areas, the Middle East, which features such work as Firouzeh Khosrovani’s FEST OF DUTY
(pictured), a look at a traditional Muslim ceremony for girls, and Søren Steen Jespersen and Nasib Farah’s WARRIORS FROM THE NORTH, on the radicalization of young Somali men; and Thriller Dox, which includes Andreas Koefoed’s THE ARMS DROP, about a 1995 weapons deal that went wrong, and Pekka Lehto’s EMERGENCY CALL – A MURDER MYSTERY, on an unsolved 2006 crime in small Finnish town.

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Documentary Fortnight 2015 Overview

momaMoMA’s annual showcase of nonfiction, Documentary Fortnight, opens its 14th edition tomorrow, Friday, February 13, with Stanley Nelson’s THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION, a chronicle of the controversial Black Power organization; and runs through Friday, February 27, which features closing night film HOT TYPE: 150 YEARS OF THE NATION, Barbara Kopple’s exploration of the long-running liberal weekly magazine. In addition to these titles, nineteen additional new feature documentaries will screen, as well as seven shorts, special lectures, an installation, and a retrospective selection of director Shirley Clarke’s work.

imgres-1Several of this year’s selections put an emphasis on durational cinema, including: Kevin Jerome Everson’s eight-hour immersion into a working shift at a factory, PARK LANES (pictured); Wang Bing’s long shot exploration of the modest dwelling of a Chinese migrant family, FATHER AND SONS; and Peter Bo Rappmund’s time-lapse study of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, TOPOPHILIA.

hotelOther works also focus on capturing a distinct sense of place, including Irene Gutiérrez Torres’ HOTEL NUEVA ISLA (pictured), a stunning portrait of a crumbling luxury hotel in Havana; Phil Collins’ TOMORROW IS ALWAYS TOO LONG, which constructs a multimedia version of Glasgow; and Nathalie Nambot and Maki Berchache’s BURN THE SEA, an essay film exploring the experiences of Tunisian immigrants to France.

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Big Sky Documentary Film Festival 2015 Overview

big skyTonight sees the launch of the 12th edition of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Montana’s premier film festival, which will run through Monday, February 16. The event hosts several competitive and non-competitive program strands, including a focus on local nonfiction filmmaking, sidebars on interactive docs, music, nature, sports and adventure, true crime, the American West, indigenous cinema, and a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as retrospective series on the work of Sam Green and John Cohen. A representative selection is noted below:

siblingsAmong the ten titles included in the fest’s main competition, the Big Sky Feature Competition, are: Frode Fimland’s SIBLINGS ARE FOREVER (pictured), a portrait of an elderly pair of Norwegian farmers; Nima Shayeghi’s BOYS WITH BROKEN EARS, about the wrestling dreams of young Iranian men; Andrea Meller’s NOW EN ESPAÑOL, which revisits the popularity of Spanish-dubbed television programming for American Latino/a audiences; and Patty Dillon’s THERE WILL BE NO STAY, which explores the work of prison executioners.

Andwewereyoung-WEBNine works are eligible for the Big Sky Award Competition, including William J Saunders’ BILLY MIZE AND THE BAKERSFIELD SOUND, about the influential country musician; and Nick Brandestini’s CHILDREN OF THE ARCTIC, which focuses on the experiences of several Native Alaskan teens. The Made in Montana section highlights locally-produced work, including Cindy Stillwell and Tom Watson’s BARD IN THE BACKCOUNTRY, following a Montana Shakespeare troupe; and Andy Smetanka’s AND WE WERE YOUNG (pictured), a handcrafted stop-motion chronicle of WWI.

Broken-Song-WEBIncluded in the fest’s music-focused Sights & Sounds section are eleven feature documentaries, among them: Claire Dix’s profile of North Dublin street musicians, BROKEN SONG (pictured); Kay D Ray’s tribute to female jazz musicians, LADY BE GOOD: INSTRUMENTAL WOMEN IN JAZZ; and Francesco Merini and Helmut Failoni’s look at an Italian orchestra uniting young talents with experienced veterans, THE ORCHESTRA.

Bedevil-WEBFinally, a sampling of Big Sky’s other thematic programming includes Stranger Than Fiction, presenting unusual but true stories and subjects, such as Sam Carroll’s BEDEVIL (pictured), which follows a High Priestess’ efforts to run for city council; True Crime, which includes Gorman Bechard’s A DOG NAMED GUCCI, about a man’s efforts to protect animals from inhumane treatment; and the aforementioned 25th anniversary celebration of the ADA, which features Abigail Fuller and Sarah Ivy’s DO YOU DREAM IN COLOR?, an exploration of the lives of four blind teenagers.

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Berlin 2015: Documentary Overview

berlin 2015The venerable Berlin International Film Festival turns 65 this year, opening tomorrow, Thursday, February 5 and running through Sunday, February 15. Germany’s largest film festival annually screens in excess of 400 films, which include this year nearly 80 new documentary features, as well as some retrospective work. In addition to this onscreen component, the Berlinale also features nonfiction-focused programming as part of the simultaneous European Film Market’s Meet the Docs initiative, made up of a Doc Spotlight series curated by IDFA, CPH:DOX, and DOK Leipzig, and a robust program of documentary panels, as well as the Berlinale Talents program’s Doc Station, in which ten nonfiction projects from five continents receive development support over the course of the event. Sadly, my schedule has not permitted me to attend this year, but if I were, I’d direct my viewing time to the following documentaries on offer:

pearlThe festival’s Competition section very rarely includes nonfiction work, but this year does present one documentary, THE PEARL BUTTON (pictured), auteur Patricio Guzmán’s meditation on Chile’s coastline and water; while Berlinale Special offers three, including Jack Pettibone Riccobono’s THE SEVENTH FIRE, about the threat of gang violence on a Native American reservation in Minnesota.

fassbinderDocumentary’s more typical home at the festival have been in the Panorama section, which this year showcases eighteen feature docs. Among these are portraits of notable figures, such as Christian Braad Thomsen’s FASSBINDER – TO LOVE WITHOUT DEMANDS (pictured), a personal tribute to the noted New German Cinema director; Jack Walsh’s FEELINGS ARE FACTS: THE LIFE OF YVONNE RAINER, which gives the acclaimed modern dancer/choreographer/filmmaker her due; and Jean-Gabriel Périot’s A GERMAN YOUTH, an archival rich portrait of key members of the Red Army Faction. Other Panorama titles include LGBT-focused work, such as Jan Soldat’s PRISON SYSTEM 4614, about prison fetishists, and Jannik Splidsboel’s MISFITS, a look at the lives of three queer Tulsa teens; as well as a look at the absurdity of war in Saeed Taji Farouky and Michael McEvoy’s TELL SPRING NOT TO COME THIS YEAR, which follows the Afghan National Army as they take over a dangerous province after the withdrawal of NATO troops.

flotelNonfiction and its hybrid forms traditionally have also been welcomed in the festival’s often more off-kilter Forum; this year twenty such features appear, including several work-focused films: Joaquim Pinto and Nuno Leonel’s FISH TAIL, about a fisherman in the Azores; Francesco Clerici’s HAND GESTURES, an observational portrait of an Italian bronze foundry; Michel K Zongo’s THE SIREN OF FASO FANI, a personal reflection on the decline of the Burkina Faso filmmaker’s hometown after the shuttering of its textile factory; Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s OVER THE YEARS, which similarly documents the consequences of the shutdown of a local community’s textile factory; and Janina Herhoffer’s AFTER WORK, which looks at group leisure activities from yoga to band practice. Additional films include Vladimir Tomic’s FLOTEL EUROPA (pictured), which revisits the director’s childhood as a Yugoslavian refugee taking up residence on a ship in Copenhagen; Marcin Malaszczak’s THE DAYS RUN AWAY LIKE WILD HORSES OVER THE HILLS, a focus on the ephemeral moments of everyday life; Jem Cohen’s COUNTING, an essay film exploring several cities; and Tatiana Brandrup’s CINEMA: A PUBLIC AFFAIR, about the curator of the now-closed Moscow Film Museum and his struggles with official forces.

so be itTwo documentaries for younger viewers appear in the Generation section: Kongdej Jaturanrasmee’s SO BE IT (pictured), which profiles two very different boys’ experiences of Buddhism; and Teboho Edkins’ COMING OF AGE, about South African teenagers who must choose between the life of a traditional shepherd or instead pursue education. Two new docs also appear in the NATIVe section, devoted to indigenous cinema, including María Dolores Arias Martínez’s ELDEST BROTHER, an observational portrait of a Chiapas elder as he navigates tradition and modernity.

tito'sLocal filmmakers’ work appears in Perspektive Deutsches Kino, including three documentaries. Among these are Saskia Walker and Ralf Hechelmann’s SEX: SPEAK, which attempts to explore sexuality through interviews; and Filippa Bauer’s UNOCCUPIED, an exploration of the lives of women facing empty nest syndrome. Other German work – specifically contenders for the Lola, the German Film Awards – appear in the Lola at Berlinale sidebar. Among these are seventeen docs, including: Annekatrin Hendel’s ANDERSON, on the German writer, secretly a Stasi spy; Ulrike Franke and Michael Loeken’s DIVINE LOCATION: A CITY REINVENTS ITSELF, about a new residential community developed against the backdrop of a traditionally industrial area; and Regina Schilling’s TITO’S GLASSES (pictured), which recounts the history of a Yugoslavian family who resettled in Germany.

omnivorousFinally, Berlinale’s popular food-focused Culinary Cinema section showcases a dozen films – among them: Luis González and Andrea Gómez’s COOKING UP A TRIBUTE, which follows the renowned Roca brothers on a multi-city tour of culinary reinvention; Anne Georget’s IMAGINARY FEASTS, an exploration of the common practice of prisoners writing recipes as a form of resistance; Yun Hwang’s AN OMNIVOROUS FAMILY’S DILEMMA (pictured), in which the director immerses herself in the lives of pigs; Phie Ambo’s GOOD THINGS AWAIT, about an aging biodynamic Danish farmer and the fate of his farm; and Willemiek Kluijfhout’s SERGIO HERMAN, FUCKING PERFECT, a profile of a Dutch masterchef whose pursuit of perfection threatens his family life.

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