In Theatres: PRIVATE VIOLENCE

private violenceComing to theaters tomorrow, Friday, October 17: PRIVATE VIOLENCE

Cynthia Hill’s poignant look at domestic violence had its world premiere at Sundance at the beginning of the year. It has gone on to screen at True/False, Full Frame, Dallas, Hot Docs, and DOXA, among other events.

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

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ON DVD: EVERY THREE SECONDS

everythreeseconds_flat1-1412144073Coming to DVD today, Thursday, October 16: EVERY THREE SECONDS

Daniel Karslake’s look at practical solutions to poverty made its debut at Orlando’s Global Peace Film Festival last month. Community, university, and museum screenings have followed and the film will be screening at the New Orleans Film Festival, which begins today.

Named after the statistical incidence of death due to extreme poverty, and timed to be released today, World Food Day, Karslake’s film profiles five inspirational individuals who take their concerns about poverty and hunger and transform them into positive action. Senior Gloria organizes volunteers to glean unused crops from local farmers to provide fresh vegetables for a food bank. Pre-teen Charlie is motivated to raise funds for Haiti relief, only to unexpectedly have his campaign go viral. Ingrid, a Swedish woman living in Kenya, formed a microfinance bank to encourage street beggars to become green grocers. Lisa, a former beauty queen, becomes involves in efforts to address conflict in Congo and to help its victims. Medical student Josh develops an innovative program to use cellphones to provide better coordination between health workers in Malawi. As is clear by the diverse topics and locations covered by Karslake’s subjects, his film takes a sweeping survey approach to universal issues, interweaving the various threads to make the simple but necessary point that these individuals have not just acknowledged that poverty exists – they’ve actually set out to do something about it, even if their impact is on a relatively small scale. While the film is fairly conventional in approach, and could have used some trimming, its message is a worthwhile one.

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Doclisboa 2014 Overview

imagesThe 12th edition of Doclisboa launches tomorrow, Thursday, October 16, with nearly 70 feature docs unspooling until the fest comes to a close on Sunday, October 26, bookends by Sergei Loznitsa’s MAÏDAN and Peter von Bagh’s SOCIALISM, respectively. Taking an expansive view of nonfiction, the festival showcases a number of hybrid or fiction projects, essays, and experimental work within its lineup – sometimes with inscrutable program notes – as well as a significant amount of retrospective works. What follows are selections from some of the event’s programming strands: Continue reading

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Woodstock 2014: Documentary Overview

woodstockThe 15th anniversary Woodstock Film Festival opens today, Wednesday, October 15, and wraps up this Sunday, October 19. The upstate New York event will present over 125 films over the course of its five-day run, of which just over 20 are documentary features. Here are some highlights:

enquiringFamiliar film subjects are profiled in Pauly Shore’s stand-up self-portrait, PAULY SHORE STANDS ALONE; Chuck Workman’s look at the life and career of a Hollywood legend, MAGICIAN: THE ASTONISHING LIFE AND WORK OF ORSON WELLES; and Ric Burns’ investigation into tabloid history, ENQUIRING MINDS: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE MAN BEHIND THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER (pictured).

handStories about overcoming adversity through self-empowerment include: Lesley Chilcott’s A SMALL SECTION OF THE WORLD, about a pioneering Costa Rican women’s coffee-growing collective; Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick’s THE HAND THAT FEEDS (pictured), chronicling food service workers attempt to organize for better working conditions; Nicole Boxer’s HOW I GOT OVER, on several women’s path from trauma to redemption through theatre; and Michael Lessac’s A SNAKE GIVES BIRTH TO A SNAKE, which follows South African actors as they try to create dialogue in divided communities.

little whiteFinally, filmmakers address topical issues in Thomas G. Miller’s intimate look at transnational gay marriage, LIMITED PARTNERSHIP; Alix Lambert’s poignant exploration of school bullying, MENTOR; and Lacey Schwartz’s exploration of family secrets, race, and religion, LITTLE WHITE LIE (pictured).

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DOC NYC 2014: Lineup Announced

doc nycAs DOC NYC‘s Director of Programming, I’m excited to share this year’s just-announced lineup. Already America’s largest documentary festival as of last year, the event has been expanded for our 5th anniversary edition, adding a new venue, two additional days of Doc-A-Thon panel programming, a larger Short List section, and new thematic sidebars. In total, 153 films and events make up this year’s festival, including 92 features, of which 19 are world premieres, 7 are North American or US premieres, and 40 are NYC premieres. DOC NYC will take place at the IFC Center, SVA Theatre, and Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas between Thursday, November 13 and Thursday, November 20, with filmmakers in attendance for Q&As at nearly every program.

I’m planning to profile each section here in the weeks prior to our opening, but for the time being, check out our brand new website via the links below for more information and to purchase passes or individual tickets, which go on sale today. Continue reading

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On VOD: GOING BLIND

Coming to Netflix today, Wednesday, October 15: GOING BLIND

Joe Lovett’s exploration of vision loss had a limited theatrical release in 2010, and has screened extensively at medical conferences, schools, community screenings, and public TV since then. Already available on VOD from iTunes and Amazon Instant Video, it now is offered on Netflix.

I wrote about the doc upon its theatrical release here.

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On DVD/VOD: BOOBS

boobsComing to DVD/VOD today, Tuesday, October 14: BOOBS

Stone Roberts and Jon Bulette’s look at a model’s so-called “search for perfection” makes its debut today. In addition to DVD, the doc is now available via VOD on iTunes and Vimeo.

Precious Muir is a 24-year-old British model based in NYC who is convinced she has been typecast as a teen because of her modest breast size. Pinning all her hopes on breast augmentation as the key to furthering her career – and finally appearing in Playboy, her greatest dream – Muir makes an arrangement for surgery, cameras and reluctant but supportive boyfriend Guy in tow. Roberts and Bulette document the surgery, which might be instructive to curious viewers, especially to women contemplating a similar procedure, but the bulk of the film is concerned with the aftermath, from a longer-than-expected recovery and initial dissatisfaction to the need for a second surgery and how Muir unveils the results to family and friends. It’s a very simple premise, and the film’s ultimate success – or more likely, failure – for the audience entirely hinges on how they respond to Precious, because it’s all about her – there’s absolutely no concern here for addressing larger questions around body image, conceptions of beauty, or the media or fashion industry’s role in determining either. Instead, the film comes off as a reality TV-style calling card for the career-driven and sometimes irritating Muir, shadowing her visit to the Playboy Mansion or joining in solidarity over her outrage at her disappointing first surgery.

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