Coming to theatres this Friday, April 11: A FRAGILE TRUST: PLAGIARISM, POWER, AND JAYSON BLAIR AT THE NEW YORK TIMES
Samantha Grant’s indepth examination of the notorious newspaper scandal made its debut at Sheffield last year. It went on to screen at DOC NYC, the Hamptons, Hawaii, Denver, Big Sky, Thessaloniki, Atlanta, Sebastopol Doc, and Cleveland, among others.
I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program saying:
In 2003, it was revealed that New York Times reporter Jayson Blair was a plagiarist, regularly cobbling together his articles from others found on the Internet or otherwise fabricating facts. This precipitated the lowest point in the Grey Lady’s history, leading to an editorial regime change, resignations, and a review of hiring practices. Samantha Grant goes straight to the source, securing interviews with Blair and his former colleagues to reveal the complex interplay of power, race, ambition and competition at the heart of the story.
Coming to theatres this Friday, April 11: DANCING IN JAFFA
Hilla Medalia’s look at the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through pre-teen ballroom dance made its debut at Tribeca last year. It went on to screen at DocAviv, Sydney, Munich, and Jewish fests in Miami, Boston, London, Palm Beach, Calgary, San Francisco, DC, and elsewhere.
I previously included the doc in my Tribeca coverage here.
Coming to DVD and VOD tomorrow, Tuesday, April 8: BAYOU BLUE
Alix Lambert and David McMahon’s serial killer investigation debuted at IDFA in 2011. It went on to screen at New Orleans, BFI London, and Poland’s American film fest, among others.
Between 1997 and 2006, Ronald Dominique raped and murdered more than twenty men in Louisiana. Most of his victims were African American, gay, and poor, marginalized men who rarely commanded the attention of either law enforcement or the media – unless they themselves were breaking the law – enabling Dominique to continue his killing spree. Exacerbating this bias was the chaos that ensued due to Hurricane Katrina, straining already overtaxed resources in the state. Lambert and McMahon return with local police to the scenes of Dominique’s crimes to reconstruct the case, interview family members about the victims, and question how and why issues of race, regionalism, homophobia, and class prevented what seems to have had the sensationalistic potential to captivate a national audience – possibly enabling Dominique’s apprehension far earlier – from being more than a small, local concern.
Coming to DVD this coming Tuesday, April 8: I AM DIVINE
Jeffrey Schwarz’s love letter to the infamous star of John Waters’ trash cinema had its world premiere at SXSW last year. Its fest circuit also included New Orleans’ Film-O-Rama, Cleveland, Nashville, Sheffield, Sydney, and Provincetown, Inside Out, Frameline, and Outfest.
I previously wrote about the doc here.
Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, April 4: THE GALAPAGOS AFFAIR: SATAN CAME TO EDEN
Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller’s mesmerizing stranger-than-fiction island murder mystery made its debut last year at Telluride. It went on to screen at the Hamptons, Berlin, New Orleans filmOrama, Palm Springs, Vail, and Bermuda, among others.
Goldfine and Geller recount the strange story of Floreana, an uninhabited island of the Galapagos – until a pair of Germans – Dr Friedrich Ritter, and his patient and partner, Dore Strauch – showed up in 1929, seeking an escape from civilization. Viewed as curiosities, reports of their life on the island spread by visiting seaman to newspapers internationally, eventually drawing fellow Germans Heinz and Margret Wittmer in 1931. Though the first couple had viewed Floreana as theirs exclusively, they begrudgingly helped the Wittmers when pregnant Margaret gave birth to their son, but largely kept to their own side of the island. The uneasy equilibrium the Germans tried to maintain was completely upset, however, when Eloise Wehrborn de Wagner-Bosquet arrived, an Austrian who claimed to be a Baroness. With two lovers in tow, the grandstanding Baroness announced her plans to build a hotel and turn Floreana into a tourist destination – anathema to the rest of the island’s inhabitants. These competing philosophies set up a powderkeg on the island, and what follows is contested, but serves as the crux of Goldfine and Geller’s intriguing history, which is further peppered with the unique experiences of modern-day Galapagos residents.
Tomorrow, Friday, April 4, sees the start of the 16th annual Sarasota Film Festival, the popular Florida film festival that runs through Sunday, April 13. Featuring approximately 200 films, Sarasota’s lineup typically includes a robust selection of nonfiction, with 50 feature docs included this year. Among these are two Sundance titles in key gala slots, Rory Kennedy’s opening night film, LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM and Andrew Rossi’s centerpiece, IVORY TOWER. While several more Sundance and SXSW titles figure in Sarasota’s selections, the following overview focuses on other nonfiction picks that perhaps haven’t already benefited from that kind of festival spotlight:
Women-centric films shine in the Through Women’s Eyes sidebar, including: Rebecca Barry’s profile of six diverse female experiences, I AM A GIRL (pictured); Mary Dore’s women’s liberation chronicle, SHE’S BEAUTIFUL WHEN SHE’S ANGRY; Yasmin Kidwai’s story of female self-empowerment, NO PROBLEM! (SIX MONTHS WITH THE BAREFOOT GRANDMAMAS); and Jared Brock and Michelle Brock sex trafficking exposé, RED LIGHT GREEN LIGHT.
The fest’s Acts of Valor section pays tribute to the American soldier and their post-combat experiences. Among the documentaries here are: Christine Anthony and Owen Masterson’s TERRA FIRMA, about female combat vets’ struggles with PTSD; and Mike Attie and Meghan O’Hara’s IN COUNTRY (pictured), exploring what drives veterans or enlisted men to re-enact the Vietnam War as a weekend hobby.
The local filmmakers section, Florida on Film, includes: Durand Adams, Charles Clapsaddle, and Charles Williams’ meditation on memory, THE ENDURING BEAUTY OF MEMORY (pictured); and Daniel Espeut’s circus family portrait, GREASEPAINT.
Coming to PBS’s Independent Lens this coming Monday, April 7: BROTHERS HYPNOTIC
Reuben Atlas’ look at the band formed by the sons of a legendary jazz musician had its world premiere at SXSW last year. It went on to screen at Hot Docs, Montclair, Los Angeles, Urbanworld, Antenna, Sound Unseen, RIDM, Pan African, Big Sky, and Noise Pop, among others.
I previously wrote about the doc here.