Venice 2015: Documentary Overview

QSAQEIFZZR88849The world’s oldest film festival, Venice, turns 72 tomorrow, Wednesday, September 2, and runs through Saturday, September 12. While the majority of its hundred-plus lineup focuses on fiction, there’s been a noticeable uptick in nonfiction programming this year between its official selection and the autonomous Venice Days sidebar. Among these offerings are the following:

heart of a dogOf 21 features in Competition, only two are docs: Laurie Anderson’s essay film on love and mortality, HEART OF A DOG (pictured), and Zhao Liang’s meditation on industrialization on modern China, BEHEMOTH. The festival’s discovery section, Orizzonti, which has previously spotlighted numerous works of creative nonfiction, this year only presents one: Renato De Maria’s ITALIAN GANGSTERS, an archival exploration of criminality.

jacksonDocumentaries fare better Out of Competition, making up half of this section, with such works represented as: Frederick Wiseman’s IN JACKSON HEIGHTS (pictured), a portrait of the cultural diverse NYC neighborhood; Gianluca and Massimilano De Serio’s I RICORDI DEL FIUME, a chronicle of the dismantling of a massive Italian shanty town; Sergei Loznitsa’s THE EVENT, which re-examines the end of Soviet rule in Russia; Evgeny Afineevsky’s WINTER ON FIRE, a chronicle of the Ukrainian revolution; Amy Berg’s JANIS, a portrait of the legendary Janis Joplin; and Noah Baumbach and Jake Paltrow’s DE PALMA, a candid exploration of the director’s long career.

for the loveVenice Classics, an annual sidebar of retrospective work and documentaries about films and filmmakers, offers titles like: Pietra Brettkelly’s A FLICKERING TRUTH, which recounts the efforts to hide Afghanistan’s film archive in the days of the Taliban; Rinku Kalsy’s FOR THE LOVE OF A MAN (pictured), on the intergenerational popularity and fandom of a South Indian actor; as well as appreciations of such figures as Guy Maddin, Jacques Tourneur, Lina Wermüller, Helmut Berger, and Alfredo Bini.

zainabFinal Cut in Venice spotlights several works-in-progress from the Middle East, including Ziad Kalthoum’s ROOSTER OF BEIRUT, about Syrian workers in Lebanon; Tala Hadid’s HOUSE IN THE FIELDS, on a rural community in Morocco; Hakar Abdulqadir’s SEPARATION, about the plight of Kurdish families separated from one another as they flee ISIS; and Kaouther Ben Hania’s ZAINEB HATES THE SNOW (pictured), which follows a Tunisian family as they make a new life in Canada.

innocenceFinally, of the two independently organized sidebars of the festival, International Critics’ Week foregoes nonfiction altogether, while Venice Days offers five titles, including Grant Gee’s INNOCENCE OF MEMORIES: ORHAN PAMUK’S MUSEUM AND ISTANBUL, on a museum created to document a fictional love story.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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