On VOD: MIRAGE MEN

mirage menComing to VOD tomorrow, Tuesday, August 30: MIRAGE MEN

John Lundberg’s exposé of UFO conspiracies and disinformation premiered at Sheffield in 2013. Screenings also included Seattle, Fantastic Fest, Canberra, DOXA, Stockholm, and Sebastopol Doc, among other events.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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Venice 2016: Documentary Overview

Venezia-73-legiurieThis Wednesday, August 31 kicks off the 73rd Venice Film Festival, which runs until Sunday, September 10. Positioned at the start of Fall, the oldest film fest in the world is once again being eyed as a launchpad for awards season hopefuls, together with Telluride and Toronto. Among its more than a hundred feature offerings are nearly three dozen new feature documentaries, spread throughout most of its programming sections and in the autonomous Venice Days lineup:

dawson cityThe competitive sections remain overwhelmingly fiction-focused, with only two works of nonfiction represented in Venezia 73 – Terrence Malick’s VOYAGE OF TIME: LIFE’S JOURNEY and Massimo D’Anolfi and Martina Parenti’s elemental “visual sympathy,” SPIRA MIRABILIS – and three in the innovation-oriented Orizzonti: Bill Morrison’s excavation of a long-lost cache of early films, DAWSON CITY: FROZEN TIME (pictured); Wang Bing’s look at the challenges for migrants in East China, BITTER MONEY; and Federica Di Giacomo’s modern-day exorcism profile, LIBERAMI.

austerlitzThere’s more parity in the Out of Competition strand, with docs making up nearly half of the 19 features, including: Sergei Loznitsa’s AUSTERLITZ (pictured), a meditation on Holocaust memorials as tourist attractions; Ulrich Seidl’s SAFARI, which follows European tourists on African hunting safaris; Charlie Siskel’s AMERICAN ANARCHIST, about the haunted writer of THE ANARCHIST COOKBOOK; Kasper Collin’s I CALLED HIM MORGAN, on a noted jazz musician who was shot by his wife during a performance; and Bruno Chiaravalloti, Claudio Jampaglia, and Benedetta Argentieri’s OUR WAR, a profile of three Westerners battling ISIS alongside embattled Kurdish fighters.

along for the rideDocumentary’s primary home at Venice, like at Cannes, is in the Classics sidebar, where films about filmmaking appear alongside restored classics. Among the docs here are: Jon Nguyen, Olivia Neergaard-Holm, and Rick Barnes’ DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE, wherein the celebrated filmmaker discusses his artistic practice and history; Nick Ebeling’s ALONG FOR THE RIDE (pictured), an overview of Dennis Hopper’s career via his enigmatic, ever-present friend; Claire Simon’s LE CONCOURS, an intimate look at the admission process of the pre-eminent Paris film school, La Femis; and Michael Palm’s CINEMA FUTURES, about the impact on archives of cinema’s digital transition.

francaRounding out the official selection, Cinema nel Giardino offers local fare, including Francesco Carrozzini’s FRANCA: CHAOS AND CREATION (pictured), a portrait of the director’s mother, Italian Vogue‘s editor-in-chief; and Michele Santoro’s ROBINÙ, a profile of young Mafia heads; while one documentary appears in the festival’s Final Cut in Venice works-in-progress program, Soudade Kaadan’s OBSCURE.

Luomo-che-non-cambiò-la-storia-1-1024x781Of the two autonomously programmed sidebars, International Critics’ Week again includes no nonfiction, while Venice Days offers seven works of its 22 feature selections, including both opening and closing selections: Andreas Dalsgaard and Obaidah Zytoon’s THE WAR SHOW, a personal chronicle of Syria’s descent into civil war; and Paola Piacenza’s THE WAR WITHIN, which follows a war correspondent back to the Syrian jail where he was held for five months. Among the other docs presented are Thierry Demaiziere and Alban Teurlai’s ROCCO, a profile of legendary Italian porn star Rocco Siffredi; and Enrico Caria’s L’UOMO CHE NON CAMBIÒ LA STORIA (pictured), about an anti-Fascist Italian professor who plotted to kill Mussolini and Hitler.

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In Theatres & On VOD: FLOYD NORMAN: AN ANIMATED LIFE

floyd_norman_at_the_board_apprentice_inbetweener_sleeping_beauty_1956-h_2016New to theatres and VOD today, Friday, August 26: FLOYD NORMAN: AN ANIMATED LIFE

Michael Fiore and Erik Sharkey’s portrait of an unsung animator made its debut at Santa Barbara earlier this year. It also screened at Bentonville and Comic-Con.

While not a household name, Floyd Norman was deemed worthy of his own documentary for several notable reasons: He is Disney’s first African-American animator, hired in 1956; he has been part of the creative team of classics like SLEEPING BEAUTY, 101 DALMATIONS, and MARY POPPINS; and, now in his 80s, he makes for an affable, at times wry, subject. Fiore and Sharkey’s film is largely an affectionate tribute to Norman, only occasionally delving into deeper topics of racism and ageism. While his pioneering role at Disney is noted by several individuals here, Norman apparently only had minor issues with some racist co-workers early on, and he resists the label of “black animator” in favor of, simply, “animator.” In contrast, there’s clearly more of a lingering resentment with his forced dismissal from Disney when he reached 65. Not interested in retirement, Norman just kept coming to the Disney offices, serving as an elder statesman of sorts, giving advice, until finally, the powers that be saw the light and rehired him. Covering 60 years and countless films and TV shows, the documentary sometimes feels a bit like a greatest hits survey, but succeeds in clearly capturing its subject and his love of storytelling, illustrated here by original, playful animated sequences as well as quick sketches created off the cuff by Norman.

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On VOD: HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD…

how to let goComing to VOD today, Friday, August 26: HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD (AND LOVE ALL THE THINGS CLIMATE CAN’T CHANGE)

Josh Fox’s personal exploration of climate change debuted at Sundance earlier this year. Its fest circuit has also included Hot Docs, Cleveland, Thin Line, and environmental fests in San Francisco, Washington DC, Princeton, and Yale.

My pre-Sundance profile of the doc may be found here.

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On VOD: MY LOVE, DON’T CROSS THAT RIVER

MyLoveDontCrossThatRiver-thumb-630xauto-55760Coming to VOD next Tuesday, August 30: MY LOVE, DON’T CROSS THAT RIVER

Jin Mo-young’s affectionate profile of inseparable elder love had its premiere at DMZ Docs in 2014. It went on to screen at Hot Docs, Los Angeles, Tempo Doc, Visions du Reel, DocAviv, Sydney, BFI London, RIDM, DOK Leipzig, Moscow, Hamptons, and the New York Asian fests.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On VOD: I AM SUN MU

IAMSUNMU-KEYNew to VOD this week: I AM SUN MU

Adam Sjöberg’s portrait of a dissident artist debuted at DMZ Docs last year. It went on to screen at DOC NYC, Boulder, Salem, Human Rights Watch London, Movies That Matter, Cleveland, and DocAviv, among others. It is now available on VOD platforms including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, XBOX, and Vimeo On Demand.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
After fleeing his native North Korea to defect to the south, the artist Sun Mu works under a defiant alias meaning “no boundaries” to criticize the repressive regime of Kim Jong-un. A former propaganda artist, he subverts familiar images which once glorified the Supreme Leader, transforming them into satirical political pop art. Offered an unlikely solo exhibition in China, the anonymous artist prepares his show undercover, potentially risking his own freedom and safety to expose the truth through art.

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On DVD: THE CASE OF THE THREE SIDED DREAM

Rahsaan1-710x450Coming to DVD tomorrow, Friday, August 26: THE CASE OF THE THREE SIDED DREAM

Adam Kahan’s profile of experimental jazz multi-instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk debuted at SXSW in 2014. It went on to screen at New Orleans, IDFA, Big Sky, Full Frame, Salem, Atlanta’s Pan African, Florida, and jazz fests in New York and Burlington, among other events.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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