Category Archives: Recommendations

In Theatres: STRAY DOG

Stray-Dog-700Coming to theatres today, Friday, July 3: STRAY DOG

Debra Granik’s profile of a Vietnam vet debuted at last year’s Los Angeles Film Festival, where it claimed the best doc award. Its extensive fest appearances include New York, New Orleans, Zurich, Hamptons, BFI London, Hot Springs Doc, Indie Memphis, Stockholm, Film Columbia, Zagreb Dox, Cleveland, Sarasota, Nashville, and Jeonju, among others.

Granik’s titular subject, whose real name is Ron Hall, is a southern Missouri biker who runs an RV park. Despite his gruff exterior, Hall displays a deep generosity of spirit, counseling fellow veterans, attending military funerals of strangers, advising his aimless granddaughter about her future, and creating a welcoming environment for his new wife, Alicia, and her twin teenage sons, who eventually move from their native Mexico to join their mother only to be surprised at the limits in the so-called land of opportunity. Taking a strictly observational approach, Granik allows Hall’s personality and background – and the lasting impact of his two tours of duty in Vietnam – to emerge unhurriedly. The result is a patient, telling portrait of a warrior bearing the invisible scars of his military service, and a slice of Americana that becomes more complex as the film develops.

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Karlovy Vary 2015: Documentary Overview

kvmffHitting the half-century mark this year, the Czech Republic’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival opens tonight, Friday, July 3, and runs through next Saturday, July 11. In addition to several retrospective screenings, the prestigious event features approximately 135 new feature-length films, of which just under 30 are documentaries, matching the reduced number of nonfiction offerings evident since last year’s edition. With a handful of exceptions, the nonfiction programming primarily is set apart in its own competitive and non-competitive sections, highlighted below: Continue reading

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On TV: TOUGH LOVE

1201x782-KEY-IMAGE-TOUGH_LOVE_1-copy-1160x652Coming to PBS’s POV this coming Monday, July 6: TOUGH LOVE

Stephanie Wang-Breal’s look at the struggles of parents facing Child Protective Services had its world premiere at Full Frame last year. Screenings followed at DOC NYC, Hot Docs, IFF Boston, CAAMFest, Seattle, and the Rocky Mountain Women’s fest, among others.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
What makes a good parent? How do you prove you are one, after you’ve been deemed unfit? Having lost custody of their children to Child Protective Services, two parents in New York City and Seattle fight to win back the trust of the courts and reunite their families in Stephanie Wang-Breal’s moving film. Acknowledging their past parenting mistakes due to poverty and addiction, both Hasna and Patrick contend with a flawed system that often seems more interested in punishing adults than in serving the best interests of children.

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In Theatres: CARTEL LAND

cartel landComing to theatre this Friday, July 3: CARTEL LAND

Matthew Heineman’s exploration of Mexico’s cartel violence had its world premiere at Sundance this year, where it picked up two awards. It has gone on to screen at Nantucket, True/False, Ashland, Martha’s Vineyard, Full Frame, Dallas, Sarasota, Tribeca, IFF Boston, Documenta, Docville, MountainFilm, Seattle, Sydney, Human Rights Watch, AFI Docs, and Sheffield, among others.

My pre-Sundance doc profile may be found here.

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On TV/DVD: BEFORE YOU KNOW IT

before-you-know-it-documentary-620x350Coming to DVD and to PBS’s America ReFramed series tonight, Tuesday, June 30: BEFORE YOU KNOW IT

PJ Raval’s exploration of senior gay life debuted at SXSW in 2013. It went on to IFF Boston, San Francisco, Edinburgh, Lone Star, Cucalorus, Cleveland, Florida, and several LGBT fests.

I previously wrote about the doc upon its theatrical release here.

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On Cable: LARRY KRAMER IN LOVE & ANGER

larry kramerComing to HBO tonight, Monday, June 29: LARRY KRAMER IN LOVE & ANGER

Jean Carlomusto’s portrait of the outspoken AIDS activist bowed at Sundance earlier this year. Other fest screenings have included Frameline, Provincetown, QDoc, and AFI Docs.

My pre-Sundance profile of the doc may be found here.

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On DVD: BORN TO FLY: ELIZABETH STREB VS GRAVITY

born to flyComing to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, June 30: BORN TO FLY: ELIZABETH STREB VS GRAVITY

Catherine Gund’s profile of an acclaimed choreographer debuted at SXSW last year. It also screened at Cleveland, Full Frame, Seattle, Sydney, Brooklyn, Sheffield, and Frameline, among others.

I previously wrote about the film here.

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