Coming to the Film Society of Lincoln Center today, Friday, December 6: MARVIN HAMLISCH: WHAT HE DID FOR LOVE
Dori Berinstein’s loving tribute to the multi-hyphenate musical genius made its debut at the BFI London Film Festival this Fall. It went on to screen at DOC NYC and the Hamptons, and now comes to Lincoln Center before its national broadcast debut at the end of the month on AMERICAN MASTERS.
I previously wrote about the film for the DOC NYC program guide, saying:
Before his untimely death last year, composer Marvin Hamlisch was a triple-threat in the worlds of music, film and theater. A Juilliard prodigy, he developed into a hit-maker, creating instant classics like THE WAY WE WERE and the score for A CHORUS LINE, winning every major award – Pulitzer, Tony, Grammy, Emmy and Oscar. His loved ones and collaborators, from Barbra Streisand and Carly Simon to Steven Soderbergh and a constellation of Broadway luminaries, offer an affectionate and entertaining tribute of the beloved showman’s life and work.
Coming to Pivot TV this Sunday, December 8: WE ARE LEGION: THE STORY OF THE HACKTAVISTS
Brian Knappenberger’s exploration of Internet collective Anonymous debuted at Slamdance last year. It went on to screen at SXSW, Hot Docs, Sheffield, Traverse City, Silverdocs, and Seattle, among others, and to enjoy a limited theatrical as well as VOD release. Knappenberger’s new film on information activist Aaron Swartz, THE INTERNET’S OWN BOY, will premiere in competition next month at Sundance.
I previously included the doc in my SXSW coverage here.
Coming to theatres today, Friday, December 6 and to VOD this coming Tuesday, December 10: DESERT RUNNERS
Jennifer Steinman’s chronicle of a year-long endurance challenge had its world premiere at Edinburgh. Other festival screenings have included Mill Valley, Denver, IDFA, Vancouver, and the Hamptons. In addition to theatrical and other fest engagements, the film will be available on Amazon and iTunes.
I previously wrote about the doc here.
This post is a pointer to the second of four lineup announcements for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. This year’s selections in Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, and brand new section Sundance Kids may be found here, while New Frontier info may be found here.
The remaining non-competition feature sections, Premieres and Documentary Premieres, as well as Shorts, will be revealed in two further announcements next week.
If you missed yesterday’s announcement, the US and World Cinema Documentary and Dramatic Competitions, plus NEXT, click here.
New to VOD this week: ARTIFACT
Bartholomew Cubbins (AKA Jared Leto)’s indictment of the modern recording industry made its debut at Toronto last year, where it won the audience award. It went on to screen at SXSW, DOC NYC, and Melbourne, among other fests. The doc is now available worldwide on iTunes.
Filmed over the course of two years, Leto’s engaging film chronicles his band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, as they record This Is War, the follow-up to their best-selling second album while fighting a staggering $30 million lawsuit waged against them by their record album, BMI. While fans of the band, and music doc lovers generally, will appreciate the behind-the-scenes of the three-man band as they craft songs under the guidance of legendary music producer Flood, the film is far more interesting in its laying out of the arguments against the antiquated business practices of the record industry. As Leto and his partners face the possibility of a career-ending court fight, former BMI executives, attorneys, and other musicians detail the outrageous economics of the music business, where even a multi-million bestseller can leave a band in serious financial debt to their label. The latter comes off as an ever more greedy and clueless corporate tool even as it faces extinction, more than willing to sacrifice its artists in pursuit of a vanishing profit. While Thirty Seconds to Mars manage to figure out a somewhat workable solution, Leto’s film serves as a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of the modern music industry and a call for an alternate model.
Coming to NYC’s Maysles Cinema as part of a Marc Levin Masterclass series this Saturday, December 7: GANG WAR: BANGIN’ IN LITTLE ROCK and BACK IN THE HOOD: GANG WAR II
Marc Levin’s 1994 exploration of unexpected gang violence in Arkansas and its 2004 follow-up both screened on HBO.
Levin’s first look at Little Rock shocked viewers, demonstrating how gangs like the Bloods, Crips, and Folk had spread from their original bases of Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago to the center of the country, attracting a multi-racial membership of disaffected youth. As pointed out more than once in the first doc, the year before it aired Little Rock saw its per capita murder rate surpass those larger cities. Levin follows the city’s coroner, Steve Nawojczyk, as he tries to curb the violence by confronting gangbangers with photos of the many youths he’s had to tend to in his job, and, simply, by listening to them – even as he risks his own life, as when he’s caught by happenstance here in the middle of a drive-by shooting. A ceasefire negotiation between rival gangs offers a hopeful end to the original doc, but, a decade later, with violence once again on the rise, Levin returns. The sequel focuses on Leifel Jackson, the former head of the Crips featured in the previous film, as he adjusts to life back in Little Rock after serving time. Determined to stay out of prison to care for his family, he volunteers for school programs with former rivals to speak frankly about gang life and to persuade kids to stay out of it. Others that Levin checks back in on haven’t fared as well, or see no legitimate recourse to the drug trade in a troubled economy, and have remained in the life. While Jackson serves as a compelling guide, it’s disappointing that the follow-up failed to profile members of the other gangs featured in the first film, whose non-stereotypical racial and gender make-up proved especially intriguing.
Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, December 6: LENNY COOKE
Joshua and Benny Safdie’s exploration of unrealized athletic dreams made its world premiere at Tribeca this Spring. It went on to screen at Venice, Poland’s American Film Festival, Vienna, and Geneva, among others.
I included the doc in my Tribeca coverage here.
The Dubai International Film Festival celebrates its first decade this month, with its tenth edition starting this Friday, December 6 and running through Saturday, December 14. The eldest of several high-profile Gulf State fests that began last decade, the Emirati event showcases work from the region, while also shining a spotlight on Asian and African work, and annually awards more than half a million dollars in prize money to competition winners. This year’s lineup consists of 174 films representing 57 countries. Among their number are 25 documentary features, a mix of new titles noted below and a number of familiar festival favorites that are just making their regional bows at the event.
Six films compete in the Muhr Arab Documentary Competition, including: Mohamed Amine Boukhris’ WAR REPORTER (pictured), following journalists of the Arab Spring; Ahmed Nour’s WAVES, a personal exploration of the young generation of Egyptians that enabled the revolution to take place; Sarah Francis’ BIRDS OF SEPTEMBER, in which a roving van serves as a confessional for the people of Beirut; and Philippe Aractingi’s HERITAGES, a meditation on the Lebanese director’s ancestral roots.
An additional eight titles are part of the Muhr Asia Africa Documentary Competition, including: Hafiz Rancajale’s BEHIND THE FLICKERING LIGHT (THE ARCHIVE), on Indonesia’s first film archivist; Surabhi Sharma’s BIDESIA IN BAMBAI, a celebration of the underrepresented migrant workforce in Mumbai; and Kazuhiro Sôda’s CAMPAIGN 2 (pictured), about a Fukushima-inspired anti-nuclear political campaign in Japan.
The fest’s non-competitive Arabian Nights section also features several new documentaries, among them Darin Al Baw’s OUR HOME WE CAN NOT WALK TO, about sisters caught in a war in a Lebanese Palestinian refugee camp; Mahmoud Kaabour’s CHAMP OF THE CAMP (pictured), on a Bollywood competition among migrant laborers in Dubai; and Nasredine Ben Maati’s A DOOMED GENERATION, a look at cyber-resistance to Tunisian repression prior to the revolution.
Here’s a quick pointer to the initial lineup announcement for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. The US and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary Competitions, plus the NEXT section, are here. Announcements for other sections will follow later this week and next.
Coming to NYC’s Maysles Cinema as part of a Marc Levin Masterclass series this Saturday, December 7: MR UNTOUCHABLE
Marc Levin’s portrait of the most notorious drug kingpin of NYC had its world premiere at CineVegas in 2007. The film went on to screen at Urbanworld, Docville, and other fests before being released theatrically and on VOD by Magnolia Pictures.
The legendary Leroy “Nicky” Barnes ruled Harlem for the first half of the 1970s, rising from a common drug dealer to the leader of a criminal empire dubbed the Council, trading largely in heroin and cocaine, brokered through close ties with the Mafia. As ironically suggested by his nickname, borrowed for the film’s title, his hubris ultimately led to his fall from power. When evidence was finally collected against Barnes, he turned on his former associates, securing his freedom through the FBI’s Witness Protection Program, and, as revealed in Levin’s film, seems to have made out like a bandit. Interviewed in silhouette, the remorseless Barnes-in-hiding flashes conspicuous symbols of success – a natty suit, expensive jewelry, and even champagne – trying too hard to project the kind of power he hasn’t wielded in decades. Levin’s overly slick but engaging portrait recaptures 1970s Harlem, managing to dance a fine line between nostalgic criminal glamorization and begrudging satisfaction in Barnes’ comeuppance.