Beginning today, Friday, August 29, and running through Monday, September 1, the 41st edition of the Telluride Film Festival offering attendees their first look at what are typically among the upcoming Awards season contenders, many of them heading to Toronto next week, and to the New York Film Festival at the end of next month. Continuing the festival’s tradition of surprise and anticipation, the line-up for this year’s edition was not announced until yesterday, with a full list and descriptions available through their program guide. Below, I present a brief rundown of some of the nonfiction selections this year, by my count numbering 36 feature documentaries. Continue reading
Category Archives: Recommendations
Coming to DVD this coming Tuesday, September 2: AMERICAN PROMISE
Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson’s twelve-year chronicle of African American education had its premiere at Sundance last year, where it won a special jury award. Screenings followed at the New York Film Festival, Full Frame, Hot Springs, Montclair, Pan African, and DokuFest, among many more.
My pre-Sundance profile of the doc may be found here.
Lana Wilson and Martha Shane’s intimate portrait of women’s health providers debuted at Sundance last year. It went on to screen at Hot Docs, Seattle, Sheffield, True/False, AFI Docs, and Full Frame, among many others.
I profiled the doc before Sundance here.
Nuria Ibáñez’s raw exploration of troubled children had its world premiere at Mexico’s FICUNAM last year. It went on to screen at DocsDF, Ambulante, Morelia, BAFICI, Thessaloniki Doc, Hola Mexico, and Rendezvous with Madness.
Taking place entirely within a single room – a hospital’s pediatric psychologist’s office – Ibáñez’s deceptively uncomplicated film hones in on the faces of young girls and boys as they are coaxed to reveal a host of debilitating concerns, from mental illness to the aftermath of sexual abuse. Responding to an offscreen therapist, and the occasional comments from their parents, the young subjects lay bare personal trauma, struggling to articulate what would be difficult even for adults. Taking a simple yet rigorous formalistic approach, Ibáñez forces the viewer to confront her subjects on their own level for the duration of the film, in the process offering validation and empathy for their pain.
Coming to NYC’s Film Forum today, Wednesday, August 27: THROUGH A LENS DARKLY: BLACK PHOTOGRAPHERS AND THE EMERGENCE OF A PEOPLE
Thomas Allen Harris’ exploration of black self-representation premiered at Sundance earlier this year. It has also screened at Berlin, Santa Barbara, Montclair, Pan African, Atlanta, Boston LGBT, Frameline, and Open City Docs, among several others.
My pre-Sundance doc profile may be found here.
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
Coming to VOD today, Tuesday, August 26: AMERICAN CHEERLEADER
David Barba and James Pellerito’s look at the high-spirited world of competitive high school cheerleading debuts exclusively on VOD platforms today via FilmBuff. It will also screen at NYC’s All-American High School Film Fest in October.
In this fun real life version of BRING IT ON, two teams fight to make it to the National High School Cheerleading Championship – one to defend their title, the other in the hopes of finally claiming it for themselves. Barba and Pellerito’s buoyant immersion into the world of aerials, pyramids, flyers, and catchers focuses on New Jersey coach Kim Gaskin’s Burlington Township High School defending champions and Kentucky coach Sheryl Shoemaker’s Southwestern High School squad, who placed fourth the previous year. As the clock counts down to the competition – and the coveted white jackets that go to the winning team – the film balances the girls’ rigorous training with a history of the development of the activity into a legitimate sport, taking time out to profile several of the players as they cope with sickness, injury, and family tragedy.