la-et-mn-new-rijksmuseum-review-20150619-001Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, November 24: THE NEW RIJKSMUSEUM

Oeke Hoogendijk’s behind-the-scenes look at the decade-long renovation of Amsterdam’s most notable art attraction had its world premiere on Dutch television in 2013, with a substantially shortened theatrical version making its debut at NYC’s Film Forum earlier this year. Other fest screenings have included IDFA, Biografilm, Jerusalem, and Hong Kong.

In 2004, the Rijksmuseum was closed to the public in anticipation of a four-year renovation to update the institution for the 21st century and solidify its importance for the Netherlands’ international cultural tourism. As Hoogendijk’s primarily observational epic demonstrates, things didn’t go exactly to plan. Instead, four years ballooned to nearly ten, and the museum didn’t reopen until April 2013. During this fallow period, the Rijksmuseum lost its director, shown halfway through this chronicle; struggled with a surprisingly strong pro-bicyclist lobby that necessitated major architectural redesigns; tried to develop its 20th century collection with some questionable acquisitions; and ran up its budget far beyond projected estimates. While the film at times seems to revel in a schadenfreude of sorts as the renovation faces all manner of absurd bureaucratic hurdles, it’s clear that the director’s focus on numerous dedicated employees – most notably curators and restorers – demonstrates a deep and abiding respect and love for what the institution is meant to celebrate. Even if the final scene fails properly to showcase the completed museum in enough detail, there remains a distinct sense of satisfaction that its staff – and the audience – have finally seen the project to its end.

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Red_Lines_3-620x350Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, November 24: RED LINES

Andrea Kalin and Oliver Lukacs’ on-the-ground look at the conflict in Syria debuted at Hot Docs last year. It has gone on to screen at events in Oslo, Washington DC, London, Haifa, and Little Rock, as well as at fests such as Budapest, Woodstock, United Nations Association, Docs DF, Cucalorus, DocAviv, DocuWest, and One World, among others.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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stormComing to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, November 24: THE STORM MAKERS

Guillaume Suon’s investigation into human trafficking in Cambodia premiered at Busan last year. The film went on to screen at IDFA, Thessaloniki Doc, Movies That Matter, Full Frame, DOK.fest Munich, Docs Against Gravity, Sheffield, and AFI Docs, among others.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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Special Screening: DANNY SAYS

danny saysComing to NYC’s Stranger Than Fiction series tomorrow, Tuesday, November 24: DANNY SAYS

Brendan Toller’s portrait of a man behind legendary music acts debuted at SXSW earlier this year. It has also screened at BFI London, San Francisco Jewish, Provincetown, Sound + Vision, Big Sky, Montclair, Melbourne, CPH:DOX, and Athens, among other events.

Already immortalized by the Ramones’ song that lends this film its title, Danny Fields (born Feinberg) is the latest in a string of most famous background people the general public has never heard of, much like Shep Gordon, the subject of SUPERMENSCH. Like that music world impresario, Fields had a hand in the careers of an unexpectedly diverse range of superstar performers in the 1960s-1970s, from the Beatles to Lou Reed, the Doors to Iggy Pop, and, of course, the Ramones. Taking on roles such as music magazine editor, press agent, Elektra executive, and band manager, the brash New Yorker – openly gay before it was socially acceptable – always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, at least for a time, but never long enough to make out financially for his prescient tastes. Toller tells a likeable, energetic tale rife with anecdotes, though limited in its scope to the decades noted above.

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mimi_and_dona-01Coming to PBS’s Independent Lens tonight, Monday, November 23: MIMI AND DONA

Sophie Sartain’s portrait of a mother and daughter debuted at the Dallas VideoFest last year. It also screened at Thin Line, Sebastopol Doc, ReelAbilities, and several community screenings around the country.

Sartain’s film explores the relationship between her maternal grandmother Mimi, 92, and her intellectually-disabled aunt Dona, 64, as they reckon with the latter’s difficult transition out of the home she’s known her entire life into an assisted care facility. Exploring not only the complex bonds between these two women, but also her mother’s own complicated history with her mother and sister, the director creates a portrait of interdependence that also ends up being informed by other family members’ experiences with autism – including the filmmaker’s own concerns about her young son. While on the whole technically rough, Sartain manages to capture a poignant sense of the impact of separation on both mother and daughter.

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3 1/2 minutesComing to HBO today, Monday, November 23: 3 1/2 MINUTES, TEN BULLETS

Marc Silver’s look at a notorious case of race-fueled gun violence debuted at Sundance earlier year, where it picked up a special jury award. Screenings followed at Full Frame, Seattle, Sheffield, Ashland, RiverRun, and Human Rights Watch, among others.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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Sundance 2016: Midnight Lineup Announced

sundance 2016This morning, the first lineup announcement for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival was made, revealing the feature selections in the Midnight section. The nine titles may be found here.

The festival will take place January 21-31. Remaining lineup announcements will be announced in the coming weeks.

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