On VOD: FOR AHKEEM

New to VOD this week:
FOR AHKEEM

Directors:
Jeremy S Levine and Landon Van Soest

Premiere:
Berlin 2017

Select Festivals:
Nantucket, Hot Docs, Tribeca, Sheffield, AFI Docs, Florida, Montclair, Documentary Edge, DOK.fest Munich, DMZ Docs, Message to Man, Milwaukee, Antenna

About:
An African-American teenage girl strives to graduate from high school.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On VOD: WORMWOOD

Coming to VOD via Netflix this Friday, December 15:
WORMWOOD

Director:
Errol Morris

Premiere:
Telluride 2017

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Venice, AFI Fest, Chicago

About:
A man spends decades trying to solve the mystery of his father’s death.

The film screened as part of DOC NYC, for which our program notes read:
Errol Morris has been a constant innovator of nonfiction filmmaking. In his latest project, he pushes the boundaries further in a six-part investigation into the 1953 death of CIA agent Frank Olson. Did Olson, under the influence of LSD, jump from the window of a Manhattan hotel or was he thrown? Morris casts actor Peter Sarsgaard as Olson in re-enactments that punctuate documentary interviews and archival footage in this fascinating exploration of history, conspiracy, and the search for truth.

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In Theatres: MISS KIET’S CHILDREN

Coming to theatres today, Wednesday, December 13:
MISS KIET’S CHILDREN

Directors:
Peter Lataster and Petra Lataster-Czisch

Premiere:
IDFA 2016

Select Festivals:
CPH:DOX, True/False, DOXA, Munich Dok.Fest, Thessaloniki Doc, Melbourne Doc, Goteborg, St Louis

About:
A portrait of a Dutch grade school class made up of refugee children.

The titular figure in Lataster and Lastaster-Czisch’s winning observational film is Kiet Engels, a teacher in a small Dutch village near the border with Belgium. Her charges, who call her Miss Kiet, are the children of migrants from the Middle East, largely Syria, and ranging in age from six to nine. Set almost entirely within Engels’ classroom, the film trains its attention on several young figures, including class clown Jorj, new girl little Leanne, and rebellious Haya, each coping with their traumatic past even as they try to make sense of their new surroundings and culture. Demonstrating patience, empathy, and insight, Miss Kiet helps them as she can, leading to affecting moments in this appealingly sweet, if quiet and somewhat longish, project.

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On VOD: BEHIND THE CURTAIN: TODRICK HALL

Coming to VOD today, Tuesday, December 12:
BEHIND THE CURTAIN: TODRICK HALL

Director:
Katherine Fairfax Wright

Premiere:
SXSW 2017

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Seattle, Martha’s Vineyard, Baltimore Black, San Diego, Calgary Underground, Frameline, Outfest, Image+Nation, Inside Out, LGBT fests in Salt Lake City, Denver, Honolulu, North Carolina, Vancouver, Austin, Memphis, and Sydney

About:
A profile of the performer and YouTube sensation.

I previously wrote about the film for DOC NYC’s program, saying:
In the years since competing on AMERICAN IDOL, Todrick Hall has amassed a staggering following on YouTube, bringing his distinct voice and aesthetic to pop culture, and serving as an inclusive, inspirational figure to LGBT fans around the world. For his latest project, chronicled in Wright’s entertaining portrait, Hall challenges himself to complete 16 elaborate videos for an autobiographical high-concept musical, STRAIGHT OUTTA OZ, in just two weeks, and then immediately take the live show on the road to his devoted fans.

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On DVD: NALEDI: A BABY ELEPHANT’S TALE

naledi_a_baby_elephant_taleComing to DVD today, Tuesday, December 12:
NALEDI: A BABY ELEPHANT’S TALE

Directors:
Ben Bowie and Geoff Luck

Premiere:
Seattle 2016

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Hot Springs Doc, Virginia, Fairhope, Wildscreen, Ajyal Youth

About:
A baby elephant’s fight for survival underscores the need to protect the endangered species.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On DVD: ARCHITECTS OF DENIAL

Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, December 12:
ARCHITECTS OF DENIAL

Director:
David Lee George

Premiere:
October 2017 (limited theatrical/VOD)

About:
A revisitation of the 1915 Armenian genocide and the legacy of its official denial over the past century.

An earnest if poorly executed project, George’s film aims to be a forceful call to action insisting on the official acknowledgement that the Ottoman Empire committed a genocidal act on more than a million Armenians in 1915. Turkey and its allies, including the US, have consistently refused to acknowledge the genocide, despite the existence of evidence both contemporaneously and that uncovered in more recent years, as well as the use of the term by the Pope and a growing number of other high profile individuals. This project assembles a parade of talking heads – most strangely and uncritically including Julian Assange – to review the historical record and to spin a conspiratorial view of Turkish influence on the US, an alarmist tale of impending violence in the region as a result, ill-thought-out guerrilla ambushes of politicians about their denialism, and attempts to draw direct lines between the Armenian genocide to the Nazi’s Final Solution and other examples of genocide over the past 100 years, all set to an incessant, irritating score and with the over-use of intertitles that make this feel like an amateur film. While there’s obviously merit to the idea that the genocide should be finally officially acknowledged, this clunky polemic is ill-suited to have much impact.

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On TV: HAPPENING: A CLEAN ENERGY REVOLUTION

Coming to HBO tonight, Monday, December 11:
HAPPENING: A CLEAN ENERGY REVOLUTION

Director:
James Redford

Premiere:
Mill Valley 2017

Select Festivals:
DOC NYC, Woodstock

About:
A hands-on exploration of current efforts to use renewable energy sources.

Is it possible for America to meet its energy needs via renewable sources, or is our country fated to remain addicted to fossil fuels? Director James Redford sets out on a far-ranging quest to get a sense of what our progress is today for a sustainable tomorrow. Checking in with a diverse range of stakeholders, representing federal, corporate, entrepreneurial, and community efforts, the affable filmmaker offers an informative and hopeful look at the clean energy revolution already taking place.

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