On VOD: HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY: THE REN & STIMPY STORY

Coming to VOD tomorrow, Friday, August 14:
HAPPY HAPPY JOY JOY: THE REN & STIMPY STORY

Directors:
Ron Cicero and Kimo Easterwood

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
Big Sky Doc, San Francisco, Cleveland

About:
An exploration of the groundbreaking animated series and its controversial creator.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Releases, Sundance

On VOD: BIG FUR

New to VOD this week:
BIG FUR

Director:
Dan Wayne

World Premiere:
Virginia 2019

Select Festivals:
Slamdance, Mountainfilm, Big Sky Doc

About:
An acclaimed taxidermist sets out to create a life-size replica of Bigfoot.

Unassuming Canadian Ken Walker has already been recognized among his peers as the world champion in taxidermy, inspiring others to take up and hone the often-misunderstood craft. For the next championship competition, he decides to take on a controversial subject, and one that will challenge the limits of his talent: Bigfoot. Convinced that the legends are true, so much so that he has sought out and discovered what he considers to be conclusive proof – Bigfoot spoor – Walker sets out to construct a female sasquatch, based on the infamous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film. Filmmaker Dan Wayne traces his progress, providing viewers with an informative look at the taxidermic process, interspersed with Walker’s beliefs about cryptozoology, and, far less interesting, a subplot involving the dissolution of Walker’s marriage and the beginnings of a romantic relationship with a younger taxidermist mentee. While cheapened by cheesy music and some iffy editorial choices, Wayne’s slight film has just enough quirkiness to keep it entertaining.

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On VOD: HEALING FROM HATE: BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF A NATION

Now available on Kanopy:
HEALING FROM HATE: BATTLE FOR THE SOUL OF A NATION

Director:
Peter Hutchison

World Premiere:
DOC NYC 2019

Select Festivals:
Martha’s Vineyard, Big Sky Doc

About:
Former hate group members help others attempting to leave behind radicalism.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
This timely film profiles Life After Hate, an organization founded by former skinheads and neo-Nazis that supports white nationalists seeking to break away from these radical movements. Given exclusive access, director Peter Hutchison follows group counselors as they attempt both to reform individuals and offer support to communities impacted by the recent rise of hate activity, exploring the root causes of radicalization, and what it will take to return us to a more tolerant world.

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On VOD: BOYS STATE

Coming to Apple TV+ this Friday, August 14:
BOYS STATE

Directors:
Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

Select Festivals:
SXSW, New Directors/New Films, AFI Docs, Nantucket, Full Frame, San Francisco

About:
A group of high school boys create a mock government at an annual civics program hosted by the American Legion in Austin.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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On TV: YUSUF HAWKINS: STORM OVER BROOKLYN

Coming to HBO tomorrow, Wednesday, August 12:
YUSUF HAWKINS: STORM OVER BROOKLYN

Director:
Muta’Ali Muhammad

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2020 (cancelled)

Select Festivals:
American Black

About:
The racially-motivated murder of a black teenager in 1989 Brooklyn mobilizes a quest for justice.

When 16-year-old Yusuf Hawkins and three of his friends left their East New York neighborhood for Bensonhurst on August 23, 1989, they were only planning to check out a used car that was for sale. Coincidentally, a local white girl had antagonized young white men in the neighborhood with the threat that black and Hispanic guys were coming to a party and were looking to fight. Mistaken for these unwanted intruders, Hawkins and his friends were ambushed by a gang wielding baseball bats – and a gun. Hawkins was shot and killed. Coming soon after the demonization of African American youth through the Central Park jogger case and unquestionably motivated by racial bias, Hawkins’ murder set off a series of protests, led by the controversial Reverend Al Sharpton, to demand justice – and are met with further prejudice and entrenched territorialism by the Italian-American community in Bensonhurst. Filmmaker Muta’Ali Muhammad revisits this catalyzing incident, its impact on Hawkins’ family, friends, and supporters, and how it exposed deep-rooted prejudices and systemic inequities that have never been adequately rectified.

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On DVD/VOD: THE QUEEN’S MAN

Coming to DVD and VOD today, Tuesday, August 11:
THE QUEEN’S MAN

Directors:
Daniel Claridge and Andrew Coffman

World Premiere:
DOC NYC 2019

Select Festivals:
Doc Edge

About:
The former bodyguard of the wife of the Shah of Iran attempts tp recover her stolen art collection.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
Native New Yorker Steve Talt was formerly bodyguard to Farah Pahlavi, the wife of the Shah of Iran, but he remains her loyal servant to this day. Steve is on a mission to find Pahlavi’s stolen art collection, and enlists the help of retired mobsters and his 90-year-old neighbor to pursue the cold case. The problem is, the queen never asked for his help! Filmmakers Daniel Claridge and Andrew Coffman offer a quixotic tale of loyalty, ethics, and, above all, persistence.

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On DVD/Digital: MAE WEST: DIRTY BLONDE

Coming to DVD and digital today, Tuesday, August 11:
MAE WEST: DIRTY BLONDE

Directors:
Sally Rosenthal and Julia Marchesi

World Premiere:
PBS broadcast (June 2020)

About:
A portrait of the trailblazing film icon.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD/Digital: THE VOTE

Coming to DVD and digital tomorrow, Tuesday, August 11:
THE VOTE

Director:
Michelle Ferrari

World Premiere:
AFI Docs 2020

About:
A chronicle of American women’s fight for the right to vote.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD/Digital: ASIAN AMERICANS

Courtesy of PBS

Coming to DVD and digital tomorrow, Tuesday, August 11:
ASIAN AMERICANS

Series Producer:
Renee Tajima-Peña

World Premiere:
PBS broadcast (May 2020)

About:
A sweeping overview of the Asian experience in America.

I previously wrote about the docuseries here.

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On TV: ABOUT LOVE

Coming to POV tonight, Monday, August 10:
ABOUT LOVE

Director:
Archana Atul Phadke

World Premiere:
Sheffield 2019

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, DMZ Docs, Mumbai

About:
An observational portrait of three generations of the filmmaker’s family.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
In this intimate and often funny observational portrait, director Archana Phadke trains her camera on three generations of her family, all living together in the same home in Mumbai. As the household prepares for her brother Rohan’s wedding, Archana – determined, like her sister, to remain single – captures the rhythms of the ever-busy household. Coming into particular focus are Archana’s long-suffering grandmother, Neela, who tends to her ailing, sexist husband, and her mother, Maneesha, who confesses a secret escape from her own feelings of marital frustration.

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