On TV: BE WATER

Coming to ESPN’s 30 for 30 series this Sunday, June 7:
BE WATER

Director:
Bao Nguyen

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

About:
A reflection on the brief but impactful career of legendary actor Bruce Lee.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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In Virtual Release: PARKLAND RISING

Coming to virtual theatrical today, Friday, June 5:
PARKLAND RISING

Director:
Cheryl Horner

World Premiere:
Woodstock 2019

Select Festivals:
deadCENTER, Am Docs

About:
A portrait of survivors and family members in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting.

The tragic 2018 shooting in Parkland FL has inspired much reflection about gun violence and student activism – as well as several documentaries. Cheryl Horner’s film is not even the latest, with Kim A Snyder’s US KIDS on the same topic having made its high-profile debut at Sundance this January. Like that film, Horner’s project focuses less on the horrific event to instead spotlight its aftermath. Specifically, the film explores the activism that the shooting engendered in students like the charismatic David Hogg, as well as the activities of victim Joaquin Oliver’s father, Manuel, who channels his response through art. Both of these figures are compelling – so much so that they have already been featured extensively in other docs and news media, making the film, while earnest and affecting at times, feel overly familiar and somewhat underdeveloped as a result.

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In Virtual Release: 2040

Photo: Madmen Films

Coming to virtual theatrical tomorrow, Friday, June 5:
2040

Director:
Damon Gameau

World Premiere:
Berlin 2019

Select Festivals:
Seattle, Virginia

About:
The filmmaker tries to envision a hopeful future for his young daughter based on the adoption of practical environmental solutions.

Concerned about mankind’s environmental impact on the planet, and what it may mean for his four-year-old daughter’s future, filmmaker Damon Gameau sets out around the world – acknowledging his project’s carbon footprint in the process – to seek out practical, attainable solutions to reverse the negative aspects of climate change. Along the way, he pauses to imagine what life will be like for his grown daughter in 2040 if these solutions are actually implemented, using visual effects and some hokey humor. Gameau’s film is a well-meaning and informative project, and, no doubt, for many viewers, his optimistic take will be a welcome one, compared to the more typical doom and gloom tone most environmentally focused docs tend to take. That said, he unfortunately borrows from the Michael Moore/Morgan Spurlock school of documentary filmmaking, serving as the near-constant on-air guide and narrator, making the film far too much about himself and his journey – an off-putting decision that makes the film feel somewhat amateurish and derivative, despite its best intentions.

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On VOD: THE BOOKSELLERS

Coming to VOD tomorrow, Friday, June 5:
THE BOOKSELLERS

Director:
DW Young

World Premiere:
New York Film Festival 2019

Select Festivals:
St Louis, Miami Jewish, RiverRun, Sebastopol Doc, Victoria

About:
An affectionate portrait of NYC’s community of rare book dealers and collectors.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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On VOD: WE ARE FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME

photo by Bryant Fisher

Coming to Hulu this Friday, June 5:
WE ARE FREESTYLE LOVE SUPREME

Director:
Andrew Fried

World Premiere:
Sundance 2020

About:
A chronicle of the development of the improv hip-hop performance group.

I profiled the doc before Sundance here.

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On VOD: SEARCHING EVA

Already on MUBI and expanding to other VOD platforms today, Tuesday, June 2:
SEARCHING EVA

Director:
Pia Hellenthal

World Premiere:
Berlin 2019

Select Festivals:
CPH:DOX, IDFA, Hot Docs, Jeonju, Docs Against Gravity, Biografilm, AFI Fest,

About:
A portrait of Eva, a sex worker, model, and writer who explores her sexual autonomy and lives her life online.

Born in Italy and now living in Berlin, Eva Collè is a millennial who appears to have attracted a dedicated following on social media through some combination of a forthright message of self-empowerment and an openness about her body and sexuality. While she inspires many of her followers to be self-assured and reject outside judgement and criticism, others are, of course, critical and even moralizing, as their messages are displayed intermittently throughout the film. As Eva looks for an apartment, takes on low-paying modeling gigs and more lucrative sex work, and hangs out with family, friends, and lovers, filmmaker Pia Hellenthal follows her, giving her strangely reserved protagonist even more attention. While some viewers may concur with Eva’s followers that her life is like an indie movie, others will find it much ado about not much at all, with Eva’s musings growing quickly tiresome.

Note: Since the conclusion of filming, the protagonist, known as Eva and identified as female in the film, has since elected to be called Adam and now goes by male pronouns. Adam does not have an issue with his previous name and female pronouns being used in the context of discussing the film.

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On DVD: REWIND

Coming to DVD tomorrow, Tuesday, June 2:
REWIND

Director:
Sasha Joseph Neulinger

World Premiere:
Tribeca 2019

Select Festivals:
BFI London, Traverse City, Palm Springs, Denver, Mill Valley, Nashville, Rome, Heartland, Big Sky Doc, Atlanta Jewish

About:
A filmmaker confronts his traumatic past.

I previously wrote about the doc here.

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