This year’s Margaret Mead Film Festival, its 38th edition, opens tomorrow, Thursday, October 23, with THE LAST PATROL, Sebastian Junger’s study of the impact of war on soldiers and war correspondents. Before it wraps on Sunday, October 26, the festival – the longest-running doc event in the US – will present more than 30 features, in addition to shorts, panels, and interactive installations at the American Museum of Natural History. The following offers a spotlight on some of these: Continue reading
Category Archives: Recommendations
Coming to theatres today, Wednesday, October 22 and to Netflix this Friday, October 24: E-TEAM
Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman’s profile of intrepid human rights abuses investigators had its world premiere at Sundance this January, where the film claimed the US Documentary Excellence in Cinematography Award. The film has gone on to screen at Nantucket, True/False, Full Frame, Hot Docs, Dokufest Kosovo, Sheffield, Montclair, the upcoming CPH:DOX, and DOC NYC as part of the Short List.
My pre-Sundance profile of the doc may be found here.
Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, October 21: NUCLEAR NATION
Atsushi Finahashi’s look at life after Fukushima had its debut at Berlin in 2012. It went on to screen at Hong Kong, Zurich, Edinburgh, and Seoul’s Green Film Festival, among others.
Trimmed considerably from its significantly longer festival form, Finahashi’s simple but at times affecting film details the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear power plan disaster in microcosm, focusing on the nearby town of Futaba. Thanks to their mayor, Katsutaka Idogawa, Futaba’s residents were evacuated, ending up at an abandoned high school on the outskirts of Tokyo. As the film begins, more than 1400 of these nuclear refugees are stoically facing their new situation, receiving food and communal accommodations, yet still waiting for word from the government and an apology they can believe from Tepco, the power company responsible for the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Checking in every season for a year, the director reveals their dwindling numbers, as more than half move out to start new lives rather than remain in limbo. Beyond Mayor Idogawa, whose sense of powerlessness competes with a subsurface anger and feelings of betrayal, having trusted in the economic benefits of nuclear power for his town, the film also follows families coping with the loss of loved ones and possessions, underscored most poignantly in a sequence midway through the film when residents are allowed back to their homes for two hours to collect keepsakes, and briefly checks in with a local farmer who insists on feeding surviving cows in the contaminated zone, unwilling to let them starve to death like so many other livestock.
Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, October 21: RUNNING FROM CRAZY
Barbara Kopple’s exploration of mental illness in a famous family debuted at Sundance last year. It also screened at Sundance London, Tribeca, Nantucket, Hamptons, Cleveland, Camden, Full Frame, and Sarasota, among others.
I profiled the doc before Sundance here.
Coming to DVD and VOD today, Tuesday, October 21: URANIUM DRIVE-IN
Suzan Beraza’s exploration of a community divided bowed at Telluride’s Mountainfilm last year. Its fest circuit has included DOC NYC, Denver, Washington DC’s Environmental fest, Big Sky, St Louis, and the United Nations Association fest, among others.
I previously wrote about the film here.
Mona Friis Bertheussen made its debut at IDFA last year, where it picked up an audience award. It’s gone on to screen at Göteborg, Documentary Edge, DocPoint, ZagrebDox, DocAviv, and Planete+ Doc, among others.
Bertheussen’s endearing if somewhat slight midlength tells the story of Alexandra and Mia, Chinese girls who were adopted by separate sets of parents – one in a small village in Norway, the other in suburban Sacramento – who likely would never have known they even had a sister, much less an identical twin, if it weren’t for an unlikely pair of near-matching red gingham dresses.Their new adoptive parents each coincidentally dressed them in the latter, prompting a conversation, during which they noticed that their daughters looked remarkably similar, beginning a sisterly relationship that has lasted for a decade, albeit at a distance. Beyond revealing this background, the film focuses on the girls in the present, as Mia and her parents visit Alexandra in the tiny village of Fresvik – the second time the sisters have been able to be together since being separated. The result is compelling – while twins are inherently fascinating, their particular circumstances of cultural displacement, vastly different home environments, and the knowledge of one another’s existence bring a different texture to the striking similarities they share, despite distance and language barriers.
Cynthia Hill’s illuminating exploration of the impact of domestic violence debuted at Sundance this year. Other festival berths have included True/False, New Orleans, Full Frame, Dallas, Hot Docs, Heartland, Seattle, Human Rights Watch, and DOXA, among others.
I profiled the doc before Sundance here.