Coming to theatres and to VOD today, Wednesday, April 22: EMPTYING THE SKIES
Douglas and Roger Kass’ chronicle of a fight against avian extinction made its debut at Sheffield in 2013. It went on to screen at DOC NYC, Hamptons, Big Sky, Wild & Scenic, Washington DC’s Environmental, Atlantic, and the San Francisco Green fests, among others.
Based on a widely-disseminated New Yorker essay by novelist Jonathan Franzen, the Kass’ film exposes the dangerous consequences of the traditional southern Europe practice of hunting migratory songbirds as a delicacy, and the efforts of an intrepid group of activists who have made it their mission to stop the now-illegal activity. Recognizing that many songbird species are facing extinction, the members of CABS, the Committee Against Bird Slaughter, have taken it upon themselves to seek out and sabotage the work of would-be poachers in Cyprus, Italy, and France, risking their own safety as they rescue trapped birds and come up against angry hunters, who stand to profit on the black market in the absence of their meddling. Appropriately opening on Earth Day, the film serves as effective, and often dramatic, environmental advocacy.
Coming to DVD today, Tuesday, April 21: FROM NOTHING, SOMETHING
Tim Cawley’s exploration of creativity debuted at IFF Boston in 2012. Other fest screenings have included New Orleans, Cleveland, Montreal World, Heartland, Ashland, Cucalorus, Newport Beach, and Sound Unseen, among several others.
Cawley’s film takes a wide-ranging look at the creative process, attempting to understand different approaches, across a variety of disciplines, to tackle the titular problem of making something out nothing. His sixteen subjects – among them a chef, composer, fashion designer, choreographer, comedian, video game designer, scientist, musician, cartoonist, and architect – speak with refreshing candor about the pressures they face and how they overcome them to bring their ideas into reality. The result is an intriguing meditation not only on creativity, but on problem solving, and one that should offer ample inspiration to viewers no matter their specific domain of interest.
The oldest film festival in the Americas, the San Francisco International Film Festival, opens its 58th edition this Thursday, April 23, kicking things off with Alex Gibney’s latest, STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE, a critical re-evaluation of the late Apple visionary. The event closes two weeks later on Thursday, May 7, after screening nearly 100 features, among them more than 30 documentaries. The following offers some highlights from the latter: Continue reading
Coming to NYC’s Film Forum tomorrow, Wednesday, April 22: DON’T THINK I’VE FORGOTTEN: CAMBODIA’S LOST ROCK AND ROLL
John Pirozzi’s exploration of the music lost during the reign of the Khmer Rouge debuted in Cambodia early last year. Other festival screenings have included DOC NYC, Big Sky, Rotterdam, Reel Asian, Wisconsin, and Minneapolis/St Paul, among others.
I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
A fascinating exploration of history as reflected through a nation’s popular culture, John Pirozzi’s film excavates Cambodia’s lost era of American-inflected music. Just as traditional Cambodian songs took on a French colonial influence in the 1950s and ‘60s, the presence of US Armed Forces Radio during the Vietnam War inspired a fusion of funk, soul, and rock in the country’s postcolonial period. But when the Khmer Rouge came to power, they set out to destroy all traces of Western influence.
North America’s largest documentary event, Hot Docs, returns this Thursday, April 23, and runs through Sunday, May 3. Toronto’s festival will unspool 210 documentaries during its 22nd edition, among them more than 160 new and recent nonfiction features. I’ve been attending the festival since 2009, and always look forward to checking out the latest work that Charlotte Cook and her programming team have curated. What follows is a section-by-section spotlight of the films I’m hoping to screen when I arrive for the second half of the fest: Continue reading
Coming to PBS’s America ReFramed tomorrow, Tuesday, April 21: HANNA RANCH
Mitch Dickman’s meditation on the life and death of an eco-rancher bowed at Denver in 2013. Other appearances included the Durango and Crested Butte fests, as well as a number of educational and community screenings.
I previously wrote about the doc upon its theatrical release here.
Coming to PBS’s Independent Lens today, Monday, April 20: THE GREAT INVISIBLE
Margaret Brown’s look at the human impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster debuted at SXSW last year, winning the documentary grand jury prize. It went on to DOC NYC, New Orleans, Hot Docs, London, Camden, Abu Dhabi, Zurich, Full Frame, and Philadelphia, among others.
I previously wrote about the doc