London 2016: Documentary Overview

lff-2016-title-artwork-750x680_0The 60th BFI London Film Festival launches tomorrow, Wednesday, October 5, and runs through Sunday, October 16. The event offers audiences nearly 250 new and retrospective features, among them ore than 50 documentaries and hybrids. While many have been covered here previously, the following offers a selective spotlight:

ascent-02Although there is no nonfiction represented in the fest’s Galas, three works are presented as Special Presentations: Ava DuVernay’s 13TH, Fisher Stevens’ BEFORE THE FLOOD, and Fiona Tan’s hybrid experimental Mount Fuji meditation, ASCENT (pictured).

graduation-the-01Most of the dozen films of the Documentary Competition have received exposure at other major events. Offerings here include Claire Simon’s La Fémis study, LE CONCOURS (pictured); Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, and Olivia Neergaard-Holm’s look at an auteur’s formative years, DAVID LYNCH: THE ART LIFE; and Eva Orner’s exposé of Australian refugee treatment, CHASING ASYLUM.

David Lynch on the setThe remainder of London’s program is organized into one-word thematic groupings, which mix fiction, nonfiction, and retrospective work. Documentaries include: In Laugh, TICKLING GIANTS, Sara Taksler’s look at the Egyptian Jon Stewart; in Debate, FAROUK, BESIEGED LIKE ME, Hala Alabdalla’s portrait of an influential Syrian-French author; in Cult, BLUE VELVET REVISITED (pictured), Peter Braatz’s experimental behind-the-scenes portrait of the iconic film; and in Sonic, FONKO, Lamin Daniel Jadama, Lars Lovén, and Göran Hugo Olsson’s exploration of African music.

letters-from-baghdad-01Journey presents a large number of docs and hybrids, including Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum’s LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD (pictured), about Gertrude Bell’s pioneering work in the Middle East; Daniel Gordon’s GEORGE BEST: ALL BY HIMSELF, on the Northern Ireland soccer icon; and Mark Cousins’ STOCKHOLM MY LOVE, a hybrid ode to the Swedish city. Finally, the fest’s Experimenta section includes several documentary and nonfiction-adjacent projects, such as Paul Anton Smith’s supercut of the filmgoing experience, HAVE YOU SEEN MY MOVIE?; and Brecht Debackere’s appreciation for the titular Belgian avant garde film festival, EXPRMNTL.

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

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