Tribeca 2015: Documentary Overview

tribecaTomorrow, Wednesday, April 15 sees the opening of the 14th Tribeca Film Festival, which this year will present over fifty feature documentaries before it closes on Sunday, April 26. The event’s nonfiction programming has consistently proven to be noteworthy, and organizers have recognized that in recent years, presenting documentaries as the event’s opening selection, such as this year’s LIVE FROM NEW YORK!, Bao Nguyen’s look at the history and enduring popularity of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. What follows are some highlights of this year’s nonfiction slate: Continue reading

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Special Screening: KING GEORGES

kinggeorges-570Coming to NYC’s Stranger Than Fiction series tomorrow, Tuesday, April 14: KING GEORGES

Erika Frankel’s portrait of an influential French chef debuted this past weekend at Full Frame. In addition to opening the new season of STF, the film will screen at IFF Boston later this month as it continues its festival run.

French chef Georges Perrier moved from Paris to Philadelphia in the late 1960s, and by the early 1970s established his restaurant, Le Bec-Fin, as one of the best French restaurants in the country. Despite decades of success and critical acclaim, the changing economy and shifts in taste have left the fate of Le Bec-Fin up in the air. Frankel follows the outspoken Perrier over several years as he attempts to hold on to his restaurant, and his legacy, after more than four decades. A partnership with a young head chef, Nicholas Elmi, shows promise, but can Perrier, closing in on 70, maintain the pace that has already cost him on a personal level? Frankel constructs an engrossing, multifaceted portrait of a chef confronting the possible end of his life’s work.

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On TV: THE HOMESTRETCH

thehomestretchComing to PBS’s Independent Lens tonight, Monday, April 13: THE HOMESTRETCH

Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly’s profile on teen homelessness debuted at Hot Docs last year. Screenings followed at AFI Docs, Citizen Jane, Indie Memphis, Human Rights Watch, and Hot Springs, among others.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On Cable: LIVING WITH LINCOLN

lincolnComing to HBO tonight, Monday, April 13: LIVING WITH LINCOLN

Peter Kunhardt and Brian Oakes’ look at one family’s role in preserving a presidential legacy makes its debut as part of the cable network’s popular nonfiction programming.

The family in question is Kunhardt’s own, making this a personal exploration of five generations of familial duty to “the collection,” a largely photo-based archive of all things Abraham Lincoln that was begun by the director’s great-grandfather, Frederick Hill Meserve. Born the same year the Civil War ended, Meserve started amassing his collection to illustrate his father’s war diaries, and soon found himself in possession of the definitive photographic record of the 16th US President, iconic images that would go on to serve as the basis of our popular conception of his likeness on Mt Rushmore, the $5 bill, and the penny. But Kunhardt, who narrates the film, discusses Meserve’s role as the originator of the collection, his focus is largely on Meserve’s primary collaborator, his daughter Dorothy, Peter Kunhardt’s grandmother. Dorothy, a children’s book author and illustrator best known for PAT THE BUNNY, emerges as a fascinating figure full of ideas and aspirations but also possessed of stifling self-doubt that long delayed her book about Lincoln’s assassination. Interwoven with her story is that of Lincoln and his own relationship with his family, as revealed through the historical collection. While the juxtapositions are sometimes a bit clunky and perhaps indulge in some overly speculative psychologizing, Kunhardt’s film still succeeds in conveying the deep significance – and costs – of this generational duty on the Meserve-Kunhardt family.

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Sarasota 2015: Documentary Overview

imgresFlorida’s Sarasota Film Festival opens its 17th edition today, Friday, April 10, and runs through Sunday, April 19. While the festival lost longtime director Tom Hall to Montclair this year, the event has maintained its scope, presenting nearly 150 features, with about a third of those nonfiction, including Centerpiece selection BRAND: A SECOND COMING, Ondi Timoner’s portrait of UK comedian/provocateur Russell Brand which recently opened SXSW. What follows are highlights of some of the event’s other documentary programming, reflecting newer or less familiar work not previously covered on this site. Continue reading

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Art of the Real 2015 Overview

royal roadThe second edition of the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Art of the Real series begins tomorrow, Friday, April 10, and runs through Sunday, April 26. Dennis Lim and Rachael Rakes’ program continues its mission to broaden standard conceptions of nonfiction, giving viewers the opportunity to sample an eclectic, and sometimes, esoteric, assemblage of offerings. This year’s event opens with a shorts program and closes with Jenni Olson’s Sundance essay, THE ROYAL ROAD (pictured), with other special programming including an Agnès Varda tribute and a spotlight on the use of reenactment in film.

novaThe remaining main program consists of sixteen new and retrospective feature films, as well as some additional short form programming. Some of the highlights among the newer feature work include the North American premieres of: Gustavo Vinagre’s NOVA DUBAI (pictured), a rumination on gay desire in an urban landscape; Alain Cavalier’s LE PARADIS, an essay film about encroaching mortality; and Luisa Homem and Pedro Pinho’s TRADING CITIES, an observational profile of the impact of development on Cape Verde.

dangerSome of the US premieres screening during the two week series are: Daniel Hui’s speculative portrait of Singapore, SNAKESKIN; René Frölke’s experimental biography of an exiled Romanian writer, LE BEAU DANGER (pictured); and Ion de Sosa’s hybrid, future-set exploration of Spain, ANDROIDS DREAM.

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It’s All True 2015 Overview

imgres-3Brazil’s It’s All True International Documentary Film Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary beginning tomorrow, Thursday, April 9 with a screening of the late Eduardo Coutinho’s LAST CONVERSATIONS. The festival will run through Sunday, April 19 in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, while tours will continue in other cities into May and June. More than 40 new features will screen, with shorts and retrospectives bringing the total lineup to over 100 films. Continue reading

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