On VOD: ADDICTED TO SHEEP

addicted-to-sheep-770x385Now on VOD via iTunes:
ADDICTED TO SHEEP

Director:
Magali Pettier

Premiere:
Sheffield 2015

Select Festivals:
Ashland, Holmfirth, Underwire, Leeds Wool Festival

About:
A portrait of a rural English family’s efforts to breed sheep over the course of a year.

Set in northeast England’s North Pennines, Pettier’s charming film focuses on Tom and Kay Hutchinson, who work as tenant farmers in a community largely devoted to agriculture. For their part, as underscored by the doc’s title, the Hutchinsons are devoted to their ovine charges, and dream of breeding the perfect sheep, out of both economic necessity and pride in their work. Pettier captures the slow pace of their environment as they contend with chores both mundane and heartbreaking – such as the difficult birthing process of a ewe. Also well featured are the Hutchinson children, whose experiences on the farm have given them a matter-of-fact perspective on life and death as well as a respect for the rhythms and quietude of rural life.

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On VOD: THE SPECIAL NEED

special needNow on VOD via Microsoft:
THE SPECIAL NEED

Director:
Carlo Zoratti

Premiere:
Locarno 2013

Select Festivals:
SXSW, Hamptons, Dallas, DOK Leipzig, ZagrebDox, CPH:DOX, IDFA, Ambulante, Thessaloniki Doc, Planete+ Doc, DOXA

About:
Two friends set out on a road trip to help their developmentally challenged friend lose his virginity.

Enea is a 29-year-old Italian man on the autism spectrum. Despite a healthy curiosity about sex and a boldness that sees him freely approaching women on the street, he’s not yet been able to locate the fashion model woman of his fantasies. Enter friends Alex and Carlo – the latter the film’s director. After failing to find a willing participant, they decide to hit the road on a quest through Europe to find a legal and safe way to allow Enea to meet this rite of passage. Employing some unacknowledged, yet clearly staged scenes, the crowdpleasing film is a low-level hybrid of sorts, but largely maintains a casual, observational style, enabled by the warm rapport between the three principals.

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On TV: PRIVATE VIOLENCE

private violenceComing to the WORLD Channel’s Reel South this Sunday, February 19:
PRIVATE VIOLENCE

Director:
Cynthia Hill

Premiere:
Sundance 2014

Select Festivals:
True/False, New Orleans, Full Frame, Dallas, Hot Docs, Heartland, Seattle, Human Rights Watch, DOXA

About:
A courageous look at the consequences of domestic violence.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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On VOD: ART BASTARD

art bastardComing to VOD via Amazon Instant Video today, Friday, February 17:
ART BASTARD

Director:
Victor Kanefsky

Premiere:
Orlando 2015

Select Festivals:
Newport Beach, Manchester, Santa Fe, Julien Dubuque

About:
A potrait of a frustrated, underappreciated artist who considers himself the Anti-Warhol.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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Film Comment Selects 2017: Documentary Overview

film comment selectsThe Film Society of Lincoln Center presents its annual Film Comment Selects series starting tonight, Friday, February 17. The 17th edition, which runs through Thursday, February 23, presents an eclectic mix of new and retrospective work, including four documentary or hybrid features:

voyageoftime2-920x517-c-defaultMore recent work includes Terrence Malick’s VOYAGE OF TIME (pictured), presented in a shorter, music-focused, ultra-widescreen IMAX version; Wang Bing’s BITTER MONEY, a portrait of migrant Chinese garment workers; and Michał Marczak’s hybrid ALL THESE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS, following Polish twentysomethings in their nocturnal adventures. The series also presents a screening of Louis Malle’s 1985 GOD’S COUNTRY, in which the filmmaker visits a farming community in the midst of economic crisis.

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On VOD: THE MAN WHOSE MIND EXPLODED

the_man_whose_mind__421204aNow on VOD via iTunes:
THE MAN WHOSE MIND EXPLODED

Director:
Toby Amies

Premiere:
Sheffield 2013

Select Festivals:
East End, BFI Flare, Brighton, Cambridge, Cork, Revelation

About:
The filmmaker befriends an eccentric gay man who has lost the ability to retain his memory.

Drako Zarharzar is an affable, rotund gay man with a ridiculous, Daliesque moustache, tattoos, and piercings, who is prone to public nudity and always surprised by the filmmaker showing up to interview him, given his memory issues. He has crammed his apartment with all sorts of pornography, creating a floor-to-ceiling mural of penises, remembers some memories at times, and likes to play with his nipples – he has cut holes in his shirt to give him easy access. While Amies’ film is framed by Drako’s apartment being cleaned out after his death, its focus is the relationship between the filmmaker and his subject over the preceding four years. This includes an awkward meeting with Drako’s sister and the recounting of the accident that eventually cost him his memory – but mostly it’s about their friendship, and the challenges his memory posed to making connections with people. Drako is an intriguing subject, but the film, though at times poignant and generally suprisingly upbeat, fails to make the most of his uniqueness, instead emphasizing the same points over and over again. While this may perhaps be intended as an echo of the repetitive experiences Drako goes through due to his anterograde amnesia, it grows somewhat tiresome before too long.

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Special Screenings: LOS SURES

los-sures_5-08_1983Coming to the Bronx Documentary Center tonight, Thursday, February 16, and this Saturday and Sunday, February 18-19:
LOS SURES

Director:
Diego Echeverria

Premiere:
New York Film Festival 1984

Select Festivals:
New York Film Festival 2014

About:
A portrait of South Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s Latino community in the early 1980s.

Filmed over a month in the Summer of 1983, Echeverria’s hourlong doc captures the financially disadvantaged but vibrant community that called the Southside home decades before gentrification recast it as the hub of New York City’s hipsters. While the film opens with some brief narration, this quickly gives way to observational and interview footage of five residents, presented in discrete chapters. Though these subjects relate the challenges of living in poverty, they seem chosen for their resilience, turning to legal – and for some extra-legal – means to try to make ends meet. What comes through clearly is a sense of a close-knit community in which neighbors help relocate families displaced by apartment fires, but which is beginning to feel the deleterious impact of the drug epidemic. While modest, Echeverria’s film is an affecting snapshot of a bygone time.

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