The grandfather of all film events, the Venice International Film Festival, enters its eighth decade as its 71st edition begins tonight, Wednesday, August 27. Running through Saturday, September 6, the Biennale will present over 100 features between its official selection and two autonomous simultaneously presented events, offering attending industry a sneak peek at a number of titles that will almost certainly generate awards attention by the end of the year. Among these are just over 20 new documentaries, many of which I’ll highlight below: Continue reading
Category Archives: Overviews
Running tomorrow, Saturday, August 16 through Sunday, August 24 in the Kosovar city of Prizren, Dokufest turns 13 with its latest curated selection of nonfiction from around the globe. Featuring more than 80 feature docs, the festival holds several competitions, recognizing international work, human rights, environmental, and regional cinema, as well as non-competitive special programs exploring religion, music, technology, experimental cinema, American, and Austrian themes, among others, plus several retrospectives and tributes honoring Barbara Kopple, Steve James, Michael Glawogger, and others. The following shines a spotlight on some of the less-covered films in this year’s lineup: Continue reading
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Sarajevo Film Festival, an event born in the strife of the Bosnian War while the city was still under siege. Since then, the fest has grown to be recognized as the most important film event in its region. Beginning tomorrow, Friday, August 15 and running through Saturday, August 23, the festival will screen over 200 total films, with nearly 40 feature docs represented. Among the latter are the following: Continue reading
Tomorrow, Wednesday, August 6, is the kick off for the 67th edition of the Locarno Film Festival, which unspools approximately 100 features over the next ten days. The long running Summer event continues to surprise, positioned to introduce its eclectic fare in advance of the major Fall festivals when some of their selections will come to North America for the first time. In contrast to some of the other A-list fests, the Swiss festival affords significant space in its slate for nonfiction and hybrid work – approximately 30 features this year – with such offerings typically appearing spread throughout its sections rather than relegated to one ghettoized program. The following spotlights some of this work: Continue reading
Returning 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.
Other 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.
Michael 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:
In 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.
Making 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.
Beginning 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.
For 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.